By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The 1.8 tonnes of cocaine worth N194 billion recovered by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) from a warehouse in the Ikorodu area of Lagos last week has been set ablaze.
The illicit drug was burnt on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, in the Badagry area of Lagos and was witnessed by the Chairman/Chief Executive of the agency, Mr Buba Marwa.
Mr Marwa, represented by the Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Deputy Commander General of Narcotics (DCGN), Mr Sunday Joseph, said the cocaine was set ablaze following an order of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
He said the sheer volume of the drug haul speaks volumes about the extent of the nefarious activities of the drug underworld, noting that this has made it imperative for Nigerians to continue to support NDLEA in the renewed war against illicit drugs.
The NDLEA chief said out of the 1.8-tonne seizure, 1,828 blocks of the cocaine will be crushed and set ablaze, while the remnant will be secured for the purpose of prosecution of the suspects who were brought to witness the procedure and sign the certificate of destruction.
According to him, the agency is proceeding with the prosecution of those arrested in connection with this consignment, promising that the organisation will pursue the trial to a logical conclusion.
“Since January 25, 2021, when we commenced our offensive action against drug traffickers, the Agency has secured record convictions.
“Presently, 2,904 drug offenders are serving various jail terms, while other cases are ongoing in court, which we are confident will end in positive results too,” he was quoted as saying in a statement signed by the spokesman of the agency, Mr Femi Babafemi.
While soliciting more support for the agency’s work, Mr Marwa said the safety of society was the responsibility of every citizen.
He said the fact that the Ikorodu operation was conducted clinically without any skirmish or bloodshed was further testimony to the evolution of the NDLEA and its new capabilities and a pointer to the fact that the game has changed in the war against illicit drugs.
He expressed appreciation to the organisation’s international partners, especially the American Drug Enforcement Administration (US-DEA), which supported the cocaine syndicate bust and the Nigerian military that provided additional firepower during the operation, as well as other law enforcement agencies that have been supporting efforts to rid Nigeria of illicit drugs.
The NDLEA had in a well-coordinated and intelligence-led operation that lasted two days last week, stormed a hidden warehouse at 6 Olukunola Street, Solebo Estate, Ikorodu. Five suspects, including a Jamaican, were arrested.
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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