By Adedapo Adesanya
Two freight agents have been arrested by officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, over attempts to smuggle 26.20kg cannabis concealed in cereal packs through the SAHCO shed for export to Dubai, UAE.
The consignment was abandoned at the shed before the airport security transferred it to NDLEA. Further investigation by the agency led to the arrest of Mr Olatunbosun Damilola Abimbola, 34, who works at Ashadox Logistics Services, a cargo company, on Friday, September 23.
He reportedly confessed to the crime but stated that he acted on the instructions of his Managing Director, Mr Oloyede Shakiru Abiola, who was promptly arrested.
The 40-year-old indigene of Ibadan West Local Government Area of Oyo State stated that due to the strict security measures put in place by the NDLEA, he was forced to abandon the cargo to avoid being detected.
In a statement on Sunday, NDLEA spokesman, Mr Femi Babafemi, also disclosed that a 75-year-old grandfather, Mr Usman Bokina Bajama (alias Clemen), was apprehended by the agency as part of 22 suspects arrested in operations across seven states, during which over one million capsules of banned new psychoactive substances were seized.
According to him, over one million bottles/capsules of banned psychoactive substances, Akuskura and tramadol, as well as 2,536 kilograms of cannabis, were taken hold of, adding that over 10 hectares of farms where these substances were being cultivated have been destroyed in Edo and Adamawa.
The septuagenarian was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday, September 20, at Anguwan Sate, Mararraban Tola, Mayo Belwa council area of Adamawa, where he had a cannabis plantation from where 49kg of the illicit substance was recovered.
Meanwhile, in Kwara, at least 19,878 bottles of Akuskura were intercepted by NDLEA operatives along the Ilorin-Jebba highway on Wednesday, September 21 and two suspects: Mr Oladokun Oluwaseun, 49, and Mr Ibrahim Jimoh, 27, arrested.
They claimed the consignment packed in 35 jumbo sacks was loaded in Ibadan, Oyo state, and meant for distribution in Jos, Plateau state. Earlier, two suspects: Mr Ukoro Ifeanyi, 46, and Mr Idowu Toyosi, 20, were arrested with 2,290 capsules of tramadol and 100 bottles of codeine-based syrup at Mararaba park, Ilorin.
According to the NDLEA spokesman, the drugs were brought in from Onitsha, Anambra state.
NDLEA operatives in Lagos, while acting on credible intelligence, intercepted a Volvo truck loaded with 2,146 kilograms of cannabis in the Sangotedo area of Ajah.
Three suspects, Mr Abdulazeez Rasheed; Mr Afeez Raheem and Mr Moshood Suleiman, were arrested.
At least 979,119 capsules of expired pregabalin weighing 733kg were recovered from Musbahu Ya’u, 28, and five others in the Dansarai area of Kano, while in Enugu, 197.8kg of cannabis was recovered in a store at new market, Enugu on Tuesday, September 20.
Similarly, 117.7kg of the psychoactive substance was intercepted along the Okene-Abuja expressway in a truck coming from Lagos to Abuja.
In Edo State, six cannabis farmers were arrested when NDLEA operatives stormed their farms at Chigbite, Utese forest in Ovia North East LGA and Ekudo forest, Uhunmonde LGA, where over 10 hectares of cannabis plantation were destroyed and more than 193kg of the processed illicit substance seized.
Those arrested include Mr David Hanson; Mr Ufuoma Progress; Mr Marvelous Armstrong; Mr Marvelous Efe; Mr Joshua Abubakar and Mr Elijah Abubakar.
Airtel Africa Gets $194m for Mobile Internet Connectivity
By Adedapo Adesanya
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced a loan to the tune of $194 million to Airtel Africa to help connect millions of new subscribers to mobile internet in six African countries.
This will help to support universal and affordable broadband access in Africa and the opportunities that come with increased connectivity.
IFC will provide six of Airtel Africa’s subsidiaries with local currency loans totalling $194 million. The new financing facility is in line with Airtel’s Africa strategy to increase debt within its operating companies.
According to data from GSMA, less than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s population had access to mobile services at the end of 2021, while only 28 per cent of the population had access to mobile internet. GSMA also estimates that by 2025, the value added by mobile technology and services is expected to reach almost $155 billion annually.
The financing facility has a tenor of eight years and will support Airtel Africa’s operations and investments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Republic of Congo and Zambia, where the banking landscape and access to local funding remain largely underdeveloped.
IFC’s loan is supported by co-financing from institutional investors through IFC’s Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP). IFC’s loan in Zambia is supported by the Local Currency Facility of the International Development Association’s (IDA) Private Sector Window.
Speaking on this, Mr Segun Ogunsanya, Airtel Africa CEO, said, “I am very excited to announce the signing of this new facility with IFC. Not only does this facility align with our focus on improving our balance sheet through localising debt within our operating companies, but it also supports our commitment and our ability to meet very strict ESG criteria in demonstration of the continued execution of our sustainability journey.
“I look forward to working closely with IFC in the coming years and to exploring further opportunities to cooperate together to support the economies and communities where we operate,” he said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made mobile connectivity even more urgent for both social and economic development. Helping more people connect to affordable and fast internet networks is a priority for IFC in Africa, especially in the continent’s lower-income countries. The partnership with Airtel Africa will help achieve this,” said Mr Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for Africa.
IFC’s digital strategy in Africa aims to enable ubiquitous, reliable, and affordable connectivity. This includes investing in the growth of independent tower operators, data centres and broadband, as well as supporting mobile operators primarily in fragile and conflict situations (FCS) and Low-income International Development Association countries (LIC-IDA).
As part of IFC’s loan facility, Airtel Africa has committed to comply with the applicable requirements of IFC’s Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability and has put in place a dedicated Environmental and Social Action plan.
This will further strengthen the company’s commitment to transforming lives across the communities in which Airtel operates and will provide clarity on how Airtel can help address inequality and support economic growth across Africa.
NNPC Signs MoU With Ghana, 4 Others to Boost Gas Supply
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with five additional African countries for the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project.
A statement from the oil firm disclosed that the countries are Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Sierra Leone.
The signing, which took place in Rabat, Morocco, marks yet another significant step in the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline project execution, which seeks to boost the energy drive of the continent.
Speaking at the event, the GMD of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, commended NNPC’s partners, ONHYM, who have diligently worked with NNPC Limited through the years to bring the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Project to the limelight.
Mr Kyari said it was comforting to witness the steady growth of the project, especially with the inclusion of NNPC’s counterparts and key institutions from other African countries, through the execution of the relevant Memoranda of Understanding.
He recalled that on September 15, 2022, NNPC Limited and ONHYM signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ECOWAS Commission in Morocco, adding that this event came a month after NNPC signed additional MoUs with Petrosen of Senegal and SMH of Mauritania.
He said: “Today, we will be attaining another feat by signing five MoUs with the national oil companies and relevant entities from Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Sierra Leone.
“From the inception of the project to this stage, concerted efforts have been made by the governments of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco, which led to the very commendable achievements recorded thus far.
“As the strategic vision of our great leaders gains momentum, I would like to express our appreciation to King Mohammed VI of Morocco and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria for entrusting NNPC Limited with this strategic project.”
The NNPC boss stated further that the African continent stands to benefit immensely from the execution of the project, which extends beyond the supply of gas to energise countries along the route.
Petrol Stations Sell N270 Per Litre in Lagos as Queues Recede
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Some petrol stations in Lagos are selling premium motor spirit (PMS) to consumers at a pump price between N215 per litre and N270 per litre, Business Post reports.
A tour of filling stations in some parts of the metropolis by this reporter showed that the long queues witnessed a few weeks ago are gradually going shorter.
A number of petrol stations visited in the Alimosho area of Lagos State are selling the product to motorists but at a price above the approved rate of N170 per litre.
At a fuel station opposite Rauf Aregbesola Medical Centre, Okunola, Egbeda, the product was sold at N250/litre to consumers, while in the Ayobo area of the council, it was sold between N250/litre and N270/litre.
At Iyana Ipaja, most of the petrol stations in the area dispensed fuel between N230 per litre and N250 per litre, and in the Shasha area of the state, a petrol station around barracks sold the product at N215 per litre last Friday, though it had a few consumers jostling to purchase the product because of its cheaper price.
It was a similar situation at a filling station in the Akowonjo area of Lagos State, where a long queue disrupted the flow of traffic.
However, on the Island, petrol is sold at most petrol stations at a price slightly above the official pump price.
Last month, long queues began to reappear in Lagos, and it took several days before the government explained to Nigerians the reason for the scarcity of the product.
In a statement last Wednesday, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) urged Nigerians to remain calm as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited had imported PMS to last 34 days, noting that the scarcity was caused by a disruption in supply.
“The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) has imported PMS with current stock levels sufficient for 34 days.
“Consequently, marketers and the general public are advised to avoid panic buying, diversion of products, and hoarding,” the agency said, adding that there was no plan to increase “the price of PMS during this period.”
The scarcity of fuel allowed black marketers to make more money from consumers who were desperate to purchase petrol for their cars and businesses. The product was sold for as higher as N10,000 for 20 litres at a price of N500 per litre.
But at the time of filing this report on Tuesday, most of the sellers of the product in jerry cans were out of business and were mostly not seen on major roads like last week.
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