By Dipo Olowookere
Following the formal withdrawal of the Anti-Media Bill on the floor of the Imo State House of Assembly, as demanded, a Civil Society Organisation, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC), has called off its planned 100,000-man march in the state.
In a statement, issued by MIIVOC, signed by its Executive Director, Dr Walter Duru, the group said it decided to call off the planned protest, as the main demand, which was the withdrawal of the draconian anti-media bill had been achieved.
“Following the official withdrawal of the Anti-media Bill by its sponsor and Deputy Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Mr Ugonna Ozurigbo on the floor of the state Assembly, MIIVOC hereby notifies all its members and allies that the planned protest, earlier scheduled for next week Monday will no longer hold.
“However, even as mobilization and every arrangements for the protest is suspended, we shall be vigilant, to ensure that it is not reintroduced in any other form.
“We therefore commend all our members and ally organisations, particularly, the Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria and other sister coalitions for their readiness and willingness to take the state by storm over the anti-masses bill,” the group said.
Mr Duru however called on the State Assembly to consider adopting the Freedom of Information Act, as a way of promoting transparency and accountability in the State.
“The Freedom of Information Act is applicable to all levels and arms of government in Nigeria. However, the present state Assembly members could write their names in gold by adopting the FOI Act in the state. I have personally reached out to the Deputy Speaker to acknowledge his withdrawal of the Bill. I also assured him of our readiness to assist him in developing some draft legislation that will promote transparency and accountability in the state and the FOI Act is one of such bills.”
It would be recalled that MIIVOC announced its plan of a 100,000-man march in Owerri, Imo State capital against the proposed bill to gag the media in the state by the State Assembly, describing it as anti-masses.
In an earlier statement announcing the planned protest, Mr Duru said: “We are mobilizing citizens against this draconian bill. The state will not believe what will happen in the coming days; members of the state Assembly will realise that they are representatives of the people and not mere self-serving individuals and stooges of the executive arm. I hold strongly and nobody can convince me to the contrary, that whoever that does not want to be discussed should stay away from public offices.
“Imo people are hungry and there is no semblance of good governance in the state. How does this bill put food on the table of Imo people? How does it entrench transparency and accountability in governance? The focus now should be on legislation that will improve the socio-economic well-being of the people, enhance security and check corruption in the state, and not this evil ploy. The bill should be discarded in its totality. It belongs to the dust bin and should be thrown away without delay.”
IBEDC Assures Customers Prompt Response to Complaints
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) Plc has expressed commitment to contributing its best to national development through excellent service delivery, improved power supply, prompt response to customers’ complaints and bridging the metering gap across our franchise.
The interim managing director of the energy firm, Mr Kingsley Achife, gave this assurance in a message to congratulate Nigerians on the 62nd anniversary of being an independent nation.
To celebrate the day, October 1, the federal government declared Monday, October 3, as a public holiday. Because of its desire to make the work-free day enjoyable, he assured excellent service delivery.
“We are aware that our customers are looking forward to enjoying power supply during the holiday, so our technical crew are available to rectify any faults that may arise during this period, and our customer care line 0700123999 will remain active to respond to complaints and reports promptly,” Mr Achife was quoted as saying in a statement issued by IBEDC.
He implored customers to take advantage of the company’s hassle-free payment channels such as Quick teller, Payarena, Jumia, Watu, Buypower and ATM to pay their bills and vend.
“Our payment centres are also open during the holiday from 9 am-3 pm to attend to customers,” he further said in the statement, noting that IBEDC has put stringent measures in place to ensure good service delivery.
As for the Independence Day celebration, Mr Achife urged Nigerians to ensure that the founding fathers’ sacrifices and ideologies remain the watchwords for a united and peaceful country.
He also appealed to them to continue striving for the country’s development, saying electricity is one of the catalysts that drive the growth and development of any economy.
While wishing the customers of IBEDC a happy Independence Day, the MD advised motorists to avoid driving under the influence of alcohol and observe traffic rules to prevent collisions with electric poles and other accidents during the independence celebration.
Buhari Urges Leaders to Tackle Slow AfCFTA Integration
By Adedapo Adesanya
President Muhammadu Buhari has said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would succeed if African governments demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration, political cooperation, and tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.
He made this disclosure while addressing the second African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network (AFSNET) Conference on Friday in Abuja, organised by the Afreximbank in collaboration with the secretariat of AfCFTA and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the President decried the low-level trade among African countries.
He said, “As leaders, we must all be concerned that we are not trading enough amongst ourselves. It is a bitter reality that Intra-regional trade still accounts for a very tiny fraction of total trade in Africa.
”We have to understand that if this new drive towards a continental free trade area is to succeed, we must demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration due to geographic and political fragmentations, the pace of political cooperation, and difficult tariff and non-tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.
”I am firmly convinced that with the right collaborative action, we will be able to record a much stronger pace of transformation.
”Through shared knowledge, innovation and creativity, we will be better able to cater for the needs of the African continent’s population of over 1.4 billion people,” the President said, urging the Conference to use the network and support provided by pan-African institutions as a platform for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and skills.
The conference, he said, should also seek and advance innovative solutions to support our common quest for the expansion of intra-Africa trade opportunities for our people.
He commended the conference organisers for demonstrating innovative thinking by taking the AfCFTA to the grassroots, lauding the President of Afreximbank, Mr Benedict Oramah, and his team for committing $250 million as seed capital towards the establishment of the AFSNET.
He acknowledged that the initiative spearheaded by Afreximbank was aimed at firmly establishing and deepening the intra-continental trade investment development frontier for Africa, facilitating the reduction in the continent’s dependence on exports of primary commodities as well as minimizing the risks experienced due to strong reliance on global value chains.
“This opportunity, if properly harnessed, is a significant step for Africa to begin carving its niche in the global value chain, from the constituent units up.
“This will undoubtedly complement broader programmes such as the AfCFTA which remains one of the most strategic pan-African agenda to deliver inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.
The President also recognised the support of the Secretariat of the AfCFTA and the role of its Secretary General, Mr Wamkele Mene, in organizing the conference in Abuja.
P&ID: Abuja Court Orders Arrest of British National for Jumping Bail
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Federal High Court In Abuja has ordered the arrest of a British national, Mr James Nolan, for jumping bail.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the order after Mr Nolan, a director in the Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), failed to appear for trial.
Mr Nolan is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) along with Lurgi Consult Limited and others in a money laundering case to the tune of $9.6 billion.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed said Briton had broken the terms of his bail conditions offered him by the court. He, therefore, revoked the bail and issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
He also ordered Mr Nolan’s surety to appear in court on the next adjourned date to justify why the bail bond should not be forfeited to the court.
The prosecution counsel, Mr Bala Sanga, had earlier prepared to proceed with the cross-examination of prosecuting witness 1, Temitope Erinomo, when the court was informed that the second defendant was nowhere to be found and efforts to ascertain his whereabouts proved abortive.
Mr Sanga expressed dismay with the absence of Mr Nolan in court. He also said the first defendant, Lurgi Consult Limited, has never been represented in court as a corporate body since the matter started.
He told the court that investigations by the EFCC showed that the property given by the surety in Gwagwalada, Abuja, was not worth N100 million and prayed the court to restrain the defence team from further delaying the case.
Responding to the absence of Mr Nolan in court, the defence counsel, Mr Micheal Ajara, claimed that his sudden disappearance was strange.
“My Lord, the defendant in question, has always appeared in court, except for the last adjourned date that he was sick. His medical report shows that he has bipolar, a history of mental illness, and it is uncertain if the defendant is fine. We have notified the police, including the prosecution, and all efforts to ascertain his whereabouts have proven abortive,” he said.
He prayed the court to grant the defence time to ascertain his whereabouts.
However, Justice Mohammed said that the court of law does not act in uncertainty.
“What is clear to the court right now is that the second defendant is nowhere to be found, and there is no justification with a certainty of his whereabouts,” he said.
The judge then granted Sanga prayers for the court to revoke the bail of the second defendant, issue a bench warrant for his arrest and declare his bail bond forfeited.
Recall that P&ID, a firm based in the British Virgin Islands, won a $9.6 billion arbitration award against the Nigerian government after the collapse of a 2010 gas project.
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