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Sudan war: FG releases N150m, hires 40 buses as evacuation begins today

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The Federal Government will today commence the evacuation of about 5,500 Nigerians, including students stranded in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan.

To facilitate the repatriation, the government has released N150m for hiring 40 buses to convey its desperate citizens from Sudan to Cairo in Egypt.

The money was paid to an undisclosed transport company on Tuesday at 12:37 pm by the Central Bank of Nigeria through the National Emergency Management Agency.

The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, confirmed on Tuesday that the payment had been made, noting that the evacuees would take off on Wednesday morning.

The evacuation is taking place against the backdrop of the three-day ceasefire starting midnight Tuesday declared by the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Force.

Foreign countries are taking advantage of the temporary suspension of hostilities to move their nationals from Sudan as deadly fighting between the two forces entered the second week.

The clashes broke out between erstwhile allies, General Abdel al-Burha, who heads the Sudanese Armed Forces and leader of the RSF paramilitary group, General Mohamed Dagalo, over a power-sharing disagreement.

The conflict had so far claimed about 500 lives with thousands of others injured and millions displaced.

Foreigners are also fleeing the capital Khartoum in a long-United Nations convoy, while millions of frightened residents hunkered down inside their homes, many running low on water and food.

Across the city of five million, army and paramilitary troops have fought ferocious street battles since April 15, leaving behind charred tanks, gutted buildings and looted shops.

Several ceasefires that were agreed by both sides were ignored, including a three-day pause to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which started on Friday.

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The Federal Government had planned the repatriation of Nigerian nationals in that country on Tuesday but had to shift the evacuation to Wednesday (today) for security reasons.

It was earlier reported that the government sought the support of the Egyptian authorities to evacuate the 5,500 stranded Nigerians out of Sudan through Luxor, Egypt.

The Director of the Special Duties, National Emergency Management Agency, who doubles as Chairman of NEMA’s Committee for the Evacuation of the Stranded Nigerians from Sudan, Dr Onimode Bandele, had said the government met with government officials in Egypt on how to move Nigerians through Luxor.

Following the delay in evacuating students from Sudan, the National Association of Nigerian Students arranged the transportation of some students through Ethiopia.

The students were, however, denied access to Ethiopia by the country’s authorities because they lacked security clearance.

Bandele, who advised Nigerians against self-evacuation, said such an arrangement was risky.

“Whatever you meet is your headache, because you did not listen to the authorities that are supposed to cater for you,” he had warned Nigerians.

There were indications on Tuesday that the Federal Government had intensified efforts to evacuate the students and other stranded Nigerians.

In a letter dated April 23, 2023, signed by the Charge D’ Affairs, Nigerian Embassy in Sudan, Haruna Garko, the mission requested 200 buses to convey 3,500 students from Khartoum to Cairo.

According to the payment receipt sighted by The PUNCH, the Federal Government through NEMA transferred N150m to one Abubakar Ali through Jaiz Bank for the transportation of the beleaguered citizens.

In a message sent to parents, the embassy explained the challenges it was facing in its efforts to bring back their wards and children.

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The message sent on Monday evening read in part, “Good evening dear parents, I wish to respectfully update you on our efforts since morning. Fortunately, we are alive to tell the story. Three of us (Embassy officials were harassed and almost killed by RSF forces on our way to get the buses).

“We have secured 40 luxury buses despite the limited supply and high demand due to the situation of war we find ourselves in. But the company insisted on cash payment, which is practically impossible. After negotiation, they agreed to collect some percentage of the money but not less than $400,000 cash. We do not have that money.

“We managed to get some money agents, but they insisted only when their bank account is credited outside Khartoum, can they release the funds. We have informed the Federal Government of Nigeria accordingly to credit their account hopefully early in the morning (Tuesday) for the evacuation to start.

“In view of the above circumstances, there will be some delay for the take-off but Insha Allah it will be done. Kindly bear with us and inform your children/relatives to stay where they are pending payment by the FGN. We are sorry for this inconvenience. Thank you all.”

In another message sent to the students, the embassy attributed the delay to logistics issues.

It said, “Hello all. Please due to some logistics issues, there will be a delay for the take-off as earlier announced. Once arrangements are concluded, we will announce.

“Therefore, people should endeavour to stay where they are in the interim. But we assure you we are going by the grace of God. Thank you for your understanding.”

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A copy of the receipt obtained by our correspondent showed that the N150m was paid on Tuesday at 12:37 pm for the purpose of the Sudan evacuation. The funding bank was the Central Bank of Nigeria through NEMA.

Giving an update on the evacuation process via her official Twitter handle on Tuesday evening, the NiDCOM Chairman, Dabiri-Erewa, said, “They are still in Khartoum.@nemanigeria has sorted all payments etc but there are still a few logistical delays. They will likely proceed early in the morning. Safer to leave early morning. A war situation is not a normal situation. We are all anxiously waiting to receive them.

“Some logistics issues but all sorted out now by @nemanigeria but advisable to take off the early morning than late afternoon.”

Speaking with our correspondent, the President of the Nasarawa State Students Association in Sudan, Al-Ameen Ahmad, was disappointed over the logistics issues that delayed their evacuation.

He stated, “Yes, the trip has been postponed to tomorrow (today). We were told to move back to our hostels. It is disappointing that we are already exhausted and only to be told such.”

Another student of the Sudan International University, Zainab Mohammed, said: “All I want is to be home, that is all.”

A student who did not give his name said, “We are still in Khartoum. The Embassy has moved the time to 12 pm. I am afraid that the Embassy might change its mind.

The President of the Jigawa State Students Association in Sudan, Umar Abubakar, said, “We are yet to move.”

 

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‘It is unacceptable’ — Obi faults proposed purchase of presidential aircraft

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Peter Obi introduced two dangerous things into politics – Presidency

Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the 2023 elections, has faulted the proposal to purchase new presidential aircraft.

Recently, the house of representatives committee on national security and intelligence asked the federal government to purchase new aircraft for President Bola Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima.

The committee’s recommendation was contained in a report released after it investigated the status of the aircraft in the presidential air fleet.

In May, the house of representatives mandated the committee to conduct a “comprehensive investigation” into the aircraft in the presidential fleet to ascertain their airworthiness and technical status.

Shettima cancelled his trip to the United States due to a fault with his aircraft. The vice-president was to represent Tinubu at the 2024 US-Africa business summit.

Reacting to the development, Obi, in a statement published on Monday on X, said the proposal for a new aircraft “highlights the disconnect between the government and the people”.

“With rising insecurity, poverty, hunger, and homelessness, this decision highlights the disconnect between the government and the people,” Obi wrote.

“It is unacceptable and demands a more compassionate use of resources, prioritizing citizens’ welfare.

“It’s on record that our presidential jets have an average age of 12 years, purchased when most Nigerians could afford basic necessities.

“Now, as our country faces significant challenges, including a high debt profile, our citizens are in even greater need.

“Instead of adding to our luxuries, we should be focused on alleviating their suffering and finding solutions to their problems.

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“For long, our bad leadership has made our priorities, as leaders, to be at variance to the needs of society, which is why we are headed now south as a nation.”

The former Anambra governor also faulted the construction of a N21 billion official residence for Shettima amid economic hardship.

“To elucidate further, despite dropping down to the fourth-largest economy in Africa, with a GDP of $252 billion and a per capita income of $1,080, with huge debt burdens and borrowing to service debts, yet we are spending $15 million for our Vice President’s residence, while the USA, the world’s largest economy with a GDP of $25 trillion, about 100 times our GDP, and a per capita income of $80,000, about 80 times ours, still houses their Vice President in Number 1 Observatory Circle, a house built over 100 years ago and whose value is obviously less than the $15 million we are spending on our VP’s residence.”

Obi said it is time for the political class to stop “recklessness” and focus on the needs of the people.

“It’s, therefore, time to stop this impunity, insensitivity, and shamelessness and refocus on the needs of our people. We must prioritize education, healthcare, and lifting our citizens out of poverty,” the former Anambra governor added.

“Let us work together to build a nation that truly serves its people, not just the interests of a few. Let’s rise to the challenge and build this new Nigeria, which is now more possible than ever before.”

Source: The Cable

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Abayomi: Cholera strain in Lagos highly contagious — but cases now declining

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Abayomi: Cholera strain in Lagos highly contagious — but cases

On Sunday, Akin Abayomi, the commissioner for health, said Lagos has recorded 17 confirmed cases of cholera and 15 fatalities so far.

He said laboratory investigation has confirmed the strain to be cholera sub-type O-1, adding that the subtype is associated with more severe diseases.

On Monday, in a post on X, Abayomi said the identified strain is “highly aggressive and contagious, with potential for widespread dissemination”.

Abayomi said through community-based case finding and contact tracing, the government observed that the number of cases “has peaked and is now significantly declining”.

“The geographical distribution of suspected cases by Local Government Area showed that Lagos Island is the epicentre of the outbreak with 106 cases, followed by Kosofe with 49; Eti-Osa with 38; Lagos Mainland with 30; Ojo with 17; Ikorodu with 16; Shomolu with 11; Surulere with nine; Apapa with eight; Mushin with eight; Ifako Ijaiye with eight; Alimosho with four; Ajeromi-Ifelodun with four; Oshodi-Isolo with three; Ikeja with three; Ibeju Lekki with two; Badagry with two; and Amuwo-Odofin with one,” the post reads.

“We are receiving support from the NCDC and International partners, including the WHO Nigeria and UNICEF Nigeria.

“Local Non-Governmental organizations are actively involved in raising awareness and conducting community-based surveillance efforts.”

Source: The Cable

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NDLEA recovers 230,900 Tramadol pills, uncovers skuchies coy in Ogun

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has recovered a total of 230,600 pills of 200mg and 225mg of Tramadol, a prohibited substance in Gadar Tamburawa area of Kano, Kano State.

NDLEA ‘s Director, Media and Advocacy, Mr Femi Babafemi, said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

Babafemi said that the NDLEA operatives arrested the duo of Yasir Rabi’u, 23, and Abubakar Ado, 30, who were major distributors of the illicit drugs in Kano and Jigawa states respectively.

He said that the suspected drug peddlers were arrested on Monday.

Babafemi said, “In the same vein, another suspect, Hassan Abdullahi-Ali, 25, was nabbed with 150 bottles of codeine syrup at Kofar Nassarawa area of Kano on Tuesday.

“Also, In Ogun, NDLEA operatives on Monday seized 390kg of cannabis and arrested the three in connection with the illicit drugs.”

He said that Muhammad Sani, Nura Mohammad and Samaila Rabe were arrested during an early morning raid at Ibese area of the state.

Meanwhile, Babafemi said that officers on Wednesday busted a skuchies making factory at Sabo area of Sagamu town where seven suspects were arrested.

“They include: Kareem Jamiu; Oriyimi Ayo; Bamidele Wasiu; Rasheed Olarewanju; Ramota Lawal; Amudalat Olarewaju; and Adeniyi Omotosho.

“Exhibits recovered from them include: 387 litres of skuchies; 70 litres of industrial codeine; 25kg cannabis and different quantities of Tramadol, Rohypnol, Diazepam.

“Also, there were various equipment used in the production of the new psychoactive substance and all were intercepted, “ he said.

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Source: The Nation

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Minimum Wage: Consider economic realities, Tripartite Committee tells Organised Labour

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Meeting on the ongoing negotiations on new minimum wage has been adjourned till Wednesday after the organised labour

The Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage said at the weekend that organised labour should reconsider the amount it was demanding as national minimum wage, based on current realities.

Chairman of the committee, Goni Aji, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that labour should exercise more flexibility in its negotiation, based on current economic considerations and non-monetary incentives, which the federal government had so far provided for workers.

However, a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Sunny Onuesoke, berated labour, claiming Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have been selfish in their negotiation for minimum wage for workers.

Onuesoke said at the weekend in Asaba that the labour unions had ignored the effect of their wage demand on private sector workers and people in the informal sector, who he said formed the largest workforce in the country.

Aji listed government’s recent incentives for workers to include N35,000 wage award for all treasury-paid federal workers, N100 billion for the procurement of gas-fuelled busses, and conversion to gas kits.

He stated that the others were N125 billion conditional grant, financial inclusion to small and medium scale enterprises, and N25,000 each to be shared to 15 million households for three months.

According to him, the N185 billion palliative loans to states to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal and the N200 billion to support the cultivation of hectares of land to boost food production, should also be taken into consideration by organised labour.

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The tripartite committee chairman said there was another N75 billion to strengthen the manufacturing sector and N1 trillion student loans for higher education. He also cited the release of 42,000 metric tonnes of grains from strategic reserves and the purchase and distribution of 60,000 metric tonnes of rice to the millers’ association.

Aji urged organised labour to consider the recent salary increase of 25 per cent and 35 per cent on all consolidated salary structures for federal workers and the 90 per cent subsidy on health costs for federal civil servants registered on the health insurance programme and accept the N62,000 being offered by the federal government.

He maintained that the light rail commissioned in Abuja was to relieve transportation costs until the end of the year, stating that it is a landmark achievement that would cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.

Aji said in addition to “the freedom of civil servants to engage in agriculture, the federal government has approved the inclusion of ICT services for alternate sources of income”.

He said the committee agreed that where major and small businesses were closing down with the consequent loss of jobs, the outcome of a new minimum wage should be such that it would not trigger further massive job losses.

He further said linking the strike due to electricity hikes with the wage determination was not fair to the negotiating parties.

Organised labour had demanded N250,000 as minimum wage per month. However, the federal government and Organised Private Sector (OPS) offered N62,000 per month.

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Labour also faulted a recent statement by President Bola Tinubu during a meeting with some governors and members of the National Assembly on the occasion of the country’s 25th Democracy Day anniversary. Tinubu had said the government would only be able to pay its workers what the country could afford.

The president said, “Senate President, Deputy Senate President, you will get a notice from me if I have changed my mind on minimum wage. We are going to do it — what Nigeria can afford, what you can afford, what I can afford. They ask you to cut your coat according to your size if you have size at all.”

Organised labour began the minimum wage negotiation with a demand for over N615,000, which it later slashed to N250,000. But the federal government initially said it could only pay N48,000, an amount that was increased to N62,000, and now awaiting presidential decision.

Onuesoke accused labour of selfishness in their negotiation for minimum wage for workers.

The former Delta State governorship aspirant told journalists that organised labour had engaged in reckless agitation by trying to force the federal government to succumb to their terms.

He alleged that organised labour acted like politicians, stressing that their obnoxious demand would hurt the common man, who does not earn a salary or wage, and those in the private sector, including traders, artisans, and those in the rural areas, which constitute the largest labour force in the country.

Onuesoke stated that labour should review their demand by considering the plight of the larger percentage of Nigerians who were not on the payroll of government. He said this percentage constituted the largest population of the workforce in Nigeria compared to those working for the government, who were less than one per cent of the entire Nigerian population.

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The PDP chieftain stated that organised labour should have focused their agitation on how the federal government could reduce inflation and the prices of goods and services.

Onuesoke stated, “TUC and NLC are selfish. They are the same thing with the political leadership. They are agitating for the increment of their wage. What happens to the private sector, the traders, artisans and even the unemployed Nigerians roaming our streets? Who is going to increase their wages? They forget that once there is wage increase there will be hyperinflation.

“Why are they agitating for themselves salary increment, like the way our lawmakers are agitating for their own salaries and allowances increase? How many salary increases did they agitate for traders, private sector, artisans and the unemployed among others?

“I expected them to agitate on how the federal government can reduce inflation or how the prices of goods and services should be reduced, instead of agitating for wage increment for themselves alone at the expense of the larger population of Nigerians.”

Source: This Day

 

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On Father’s day, Tinubu, Obaseki hail Fathers for their resilience, sacrifice

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Tinubu wants direct elections into ECOWAS parliament

President Bola Tinubu and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State have congratulated fathers, including all paternal figures for their contributions in shaping Nigeria’s destiny by their sacrifice, forbearance, provision, protection, presence, and guidance of the young ones to the noble and true path.

Tinubu, in a statement issued yesterday on the occasion of this year’s Father’s Day by his Media Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, stressed that Father’s Day was significant for its purpose as a day set apart to honour all fathers – living, deceased, and paternal figures.

Tinubu traced the history of this special day to the Middle Ages, and official roots in West Virginia, the United States, where an event was held in 1908 to celebrate 362 men who died in an explosion at a coal mining company.

He affirmed that society is in better stead with fathers who rise to the great demand of responsibility, guiding the children through the vagaries of existence and preparing them for the future, as well as bequeathing to them pristine values that money or material comfort cannot provide, but only by personal example of discipline, integrity, service, respect, love and allegiance to the nation.

The president saluted all fathers, the sung and the unsung, who brave the toil of the day and the soreness of the night to provide for their families.

Tinubu urged fathers to stay true to their commitment to positively shape the destinies of those to whom the future belongs.

READ ALSO  On Father’s day, Tinubu, Obaseki hail Fathers for their resilience, sacrifice

Meanwhile, Obaseki, has also commended fathers for their enormous responsibilities in holding the society and contributing to societal growth.

The governor, in a statement to commemorate Father’s Day, said: “I celebrate fathers for their immense contributions to societal development, holding the family unit together amid the hardship occasioned by the prevailing economic realities.”
Obaseki noted: “Despite the economic difficulties, fathers have remained strong pillars of support in the family, toiling daily to make ends meet while juggling roles such as mentor, leader, protector, provider, and breadwinner. They deserve to be celebrated.

“On this auspicious day set aside to acknowledge their gallantry, sacrifice, love, and resilience, we celebrate our fathers and assure them of our continued support to deliver on their duties on the home front with dignity, including the State’s civil and service reforms and increase in the minimum wage to N70, 000, the highest in the country.”

“While we urge them, as the family’s reflective mirrors to imbue in their children the right values and character so as to ensure peace, stability, and harmony in our society, especially amid the electioneering campaigns, we will not relent at ongoing reforms to open up the economy so that our fathers would be actively engaged and are productive. Happy Fathers’ Day!” he added.

Source: THIS DAY

 

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No #EndSARS protesters in custody, police reply Shehu Sani

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No #EndSARS protesters in custody, police reply Shehu Sani

The Nigeria Police Force on Sunday said there are no #EndSARS protesters in any of its detention facilities.

At a dinner organised to mark 2024 Democracy Day on June 12, a former senator who represented Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, urged President Bola Tinubu to pardon the #EndSARS protesters still in detention.

Responding to Sani’s comment in a statement on Sunday, the Force spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, said, “Nobody is being wrongly persecuted for participating in the #EndSARS protest.

“The Nigeria Police Force categorically denies the recent allegations made by Senator Shehu Sani at the 2024 Democracy Day Dinner on June 12, 2024, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, where the former senator falsely claimed that some young people have been detained since the 2020 #EndSARS protest.

“For emphasis, no one anywhere in Nigeria is under police detention or being wrongly persecuted for participating in the #EndSARS protest.

“The issues surrounding the protest have been debated, researched, and documented, and lessons have been learnt. We have forgiven ourselves and moved on.

“We urge the public to disregard this claim and remain assured of our commitment to upholding justice, the rule of law, and human rights.

“We encourage verifying information before making public statements to avoid harm and incitement.”

Source: The Punch

 

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