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It’s Unfair to Link Twitter’s Suspension to Buhari’s Deleted Tweet—Lai Mohammed

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Lai Mohammed briefing

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has insisted that the suspension of operations of Twitter in Nigeria was not because it deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said it was unfair for people to conclude that the suspension of Twitter in the country was because of the deletion, noting that the government has the right to determine when and where to make a pronouncement on policy and action affecting the corporate existence of the country.

Last Friday, the federal government, through the Minister, banned the microblogging and social networking website, alleging that it was becoming a threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria.

Mr Mohammed, while speaking on Friday on Good Morning Nigeria, a programme aired on the state-owned Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), pointed accusatory fingers at Twitter for the violent aftermath of the #EndSARS protests that rocked the country last year.

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According to Mr Mohammed, the mission of Twitter and its founder, Mr Jack Dorsey, was suspect, alleging that he sponsored the EndSARS protest which almost destabilised the country and led to the death of many, including the destruction of public and private property.

He said when he asserted that Twitter funded the EndSARS protest, his position was corroborated by the fact checks made by an online media outfit, The Cable Newspaper.

“The online media concluded that on October 14, 2020, Dorsey actually retweeted some of the posts by some of the coalitions supporting the EndSARS protest.

“On the same day, he launched fundraising asking people to donate via Bitcoins.

“On October 16, 2020, Dorsey launched another emoji to make the EndSARS protest visible on the microblogging site.

“On October 20, 2020, he retweeted the tweets of some foreign and local supporters of EndSARS,’’ he said.

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Basing his judgement on the piece from the newspaper medium, he noted that the Twitter CEO solicited donations to support EndSARS.

“If you ask people to donate money via bitcoins for EndSARS protesters, then you are vicariously liable for whatever is the outcome of the protest.

“We have forgotten that EndSARS led to the loss of lives, including 37 policemen, six soldiers, 57 civilians while property worth billions of naira were destroyed.

“164 police vehicles and 134 police stations were razed to the ground, 265 private corporate organisations were looted while 243 public property were looted.

“81 warehouses were looted and we are now saying we don’t have a reason to ban Twitter,’’ he said.

He did not stop there as he asserted that Mr Nnamdi Kanu, the estranged leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), believed to be resident in Europe, uses the platform to direct his supporters to attack policemen, military men, barracks and INEC offices among others.

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“Before its suspension, we made several pleas to them to remove the tweets where Nigeria is described as a zoo where all of us are described as monkeys.

“We also pleaded to Twitter to delete the tweet where he said that if a Nigerian soldier enters into Biafra, it is death,” he said.

“Twitter, however, said that those tweets did not offend their own rules.

“It gets out of hand when attacks on police and military formations, police and army officers became unabated and we said at this point, we will need to suspend their operations,” he said.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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EFCC Goes After Car Dealers, Real Estate Agents, Others

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EFCC Real Estate Agents

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Abdularasheed Bawa, has hinted that a searchlight will be beamed on car dealers, jewellery sellers, real estate agents and others.

The anti-money laundering agency, while addressing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, disclosed that evidence has shown that these set of people use proceeds of corruption for their business transactions.

He said the EFCC was working on a number of proactive strategies including a special control unit against money laundering, established particularly to address non-designated financial institutions including car dealers, real estate, jewellery dealers, among others.

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Mr Bawa said that he was confident that when the unit is fully established, corruption will significantly decline in the country.

He added that the agency was equally working towards the development of a biometric ownership database to address money laundering.

According to him, most proceeds of crime are laundered through real estate and have become a huge challenge, giving examples of property acquired especially in Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt where billions of naira were laundered through this means.

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He, however, declined to disclose actual perpetrators or the properties involved but revealed that since his assumption, a number of recoveries have been made including N6 billion, $161 million, £13,000, €1,730, among others.

He further said internet fraudsters numbering 1,502 have also been apprehended between January and June 2021, noting that efforts were underway to file about 800 of them.

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Mr Bawa was at the Presidential Villa yesterday to clarify the specific Minister involved in the laundering of about $37 million into real estate to which he referred in his earlier statement.

He said the matter was an old case involving a former Minister of Petroleum, Ms Allison Diezani Madueke.

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KedCo Warns Customers Against Meter Bypass

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Against Meter Bypass

By Adedapo Adesanya

The management of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) has cautioned customers in its franchise areas against meter bypass as it intensifies efforts in meter installation.

According to a statement by KEDCO’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Ibrahim Sani Shawai, “the warning had become necessary as a way of ensuring that renewed efforts at speeding up metering are not sabotaged.

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“Anyone caught bypassing our meters would not be spared as we will go all out within the provisions of the law of the land to ensure that violators are made to pay penalty after prosecution.

“We are speeding up processes to ensure that 87,747 meters are installed by the end of the month under the zero phase.

“We have met with all vendors and mandated them to increase manpower to ensure speedy deployment and installation of meters to customers.

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“We appeal to our numerous customers to give vendors the necessary cooperation to ensure that estimated billing system is brought to an end in KEDCO franchise within the shortest time possible.”

The distribution company had recently warned customers against meter apathy as it observed that some customers were deliberately refusing to get metered, which it considers unacceptable.

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KEDCO is one of the major Nigerian electricity distribution companies. KEDCO operates in the northwestern geopolitical zone of Nigeria and generates, distributes and markets electricity in three states. It covers the franchise states of Kano, Katsina and Jigawa.

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Navy Seizes 251 Bags of Smuggled Rice in Akwa Ibom

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251 bags of smuggled rice

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom has impounded 251 bags of rice smuggled through the waterways.

The Commanding Officer of FOB, Navy Captain Suleiman Abdullahi, disclosed this in Ibaka on Thursday when he handed over the bags of contrabands to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

He said that the 251 bags of rice were seized from smugglers on June 15 during routine patrol operations by the unit, explaining that the suspects abandoned the rice and the boat and fled on sighting the naval patrol team, emphasising that the Base would not relent in putting an end to illegalities on the Akwa Ibom waterways.

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“What you are witnessing here today is the handover of 251 bags of rice suspected to be smuggled into the Nigerian maritime border.

“By the directive of the Flag Officer, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sanusi Ibrahim, we have zero tolerance for smuggling.

“By the directive, we have carried out intensive patrol and on June 15, 2021, we seized one wooden boat and 251 bags of smuggled rice.

“On sighting the patrol team, the smugglers abandoned the rice inside the boat and flee to escape arrest.

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This is an indication of their awareness of the crime perpetrated by these suspects for them to have abandoned their boat and flee,” Mr Abdullahi said.

The commanding officer warned smugglers to relocate out of the Nigerian maritime borders, stressing that it would not be business as usual for them.

He urged them to desist from smuggling and other illegal businesses, but they should engage in legitimate endeavours.

“I will like to use this opportunity to warn those maritime criminals that it is not going to be business as usual.

“That they should desist from their criminal ways and engage in genuine business, otherwise the long arm of the law will catch up on them,” he said.

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Receiving the 251 bags of rice on behalf of the customs, the Comptroller of Sector 1, Port Harcourt, Mr Shehu Abubakar, said the agency would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.

Mr Abubakar, who was represented by the Superintendent of Customs, Border Drill Patrol Team, Oron Axis, Mr Mustapha Ahmed, warned smugglers to desist from the illegal trade, stressing that the organisation would continue to checkmate all economic sabotage in the country.

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