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Buratai is entrenching transparency in the Army, NGO lauds Army boss over FOI request

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Chief of Army Staff COAS Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai

Chief of Army Staff COAS Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai


The New Initiative for Credible Leadership (NICreL) has saluted the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Buratai for entrenching transparency in the military following his prompt response to the the Freedom of Information request made to the Nigerian Army by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Enough is Enough (EiE), and BudgIT

NICreL said it was pleased with the COAS for releasing the requested information without hesitation.

Rev. Samson Onwu, Executive Director of the group in a statement on Sunday, warned SERAP, EiE and BudgIT against jeopardizing national security with the information made available to them.

He said, “NICreL recognizes that the COAS and the Nigerian Army broke away from the traditional consideration for national security to comply with the request of the three groups. This is commendable on the part of General Buratai even though Nigerians will be watching to see the use to which these organizations put the information they have acquired. Such outcomes will influence the reaction of citizens in the future when organizations or individuals come under the Freedom of Information Act to request information that impact national security.

“The culture of transparency, for which General Buratai is known, institutionalized and is now entrenching through the release of the information, is commendable. With due respect, we, however, have the strong belief in his discretion to have released the information only after it is duly certified that there is nothing sensitive contained in the document to jeopardize national interest and security.

“This concern on our part is informed by the recent experiences, in which an international organization was exposed by the Nigerian Army for passing information it obtained in the course of its work to Boko Haram terrorists in addition to using its activities in the northeast as cover to train and equip the insurgents. The country is equally yet in the throes of the publication of classified military information about an impending operation against Boko Haram by Daily Trust newspaper.

“This nasty experience with Daily Trust is still fresh in the minds of Nigerians even as NICreL and other CSOs await an apology from the newspaper following a seven-day ultimatum for it to tender it.

“We therefore hope that some NGOs have no been contracted to make bogus requests to jeopardize national security. This raises suspicion that it is a matter of time before the entire military is buried in an avalanche of Freedom of Information request that will soon extend to proxies asking for details to expose operational strategies of the war against terrorism.

“Much as SERAP enjoys a remarkable level of public trust as a civil society organization (CSO), not much can be said about other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) especially given their association with foreign NGOs like Amnesty International that is practically at war with the Nigerian Army. These international NGOs have never been fully absolved of being non-complicit in obstructing the military for the benefit of insurgents and separatists.

“Our understanding is that there is a limit to the obligation of military and security agencies when it comes to releasing information under the FOI Act. This has to be especially considered in view of the glaring danger of information being legally obtained for the sole goal of passing same to terrorists. We therefore appeal to General Buratai as the COAS and the Nigerian Army as an institution, with the entire military, to be mindful of the limit of information that is passed to such group for the sake of the integrity of the country and national security.

“We use this opportunity to put SERAP, EiE and BudgIT on notice that they now shoulder the burden of responsibly using the information the Nigerian Army has reeleased to them. This will extend to taking considerable caution against the publication of details that could compromise national security. They should also commit to not transferring these details to any foreign partners, Boko Haram or any other questionable entity since that was not the intent of the Act. Where they elect to breach the sacred trust anticipated by the Freedom of Information Act, to deploy the information they have acquired for evil use, they can count on Nigerians coming after them with all the actions permissible under the law. NICreL is prepared to lead the charge should the situation arise.”

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NABDA Set To Develop Sustainable Value Chain For Gum Arabic-DG

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BY SARAUNIYA G USMAN, ABUJA

The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) says the agency is poised to use biotechnology tools in developing
a sustainable value chain for improved productivity of gum Arabic in the country.

The acting Director-General of NABDA,Prof. Alex Akpa,said this at the 1st National Gum Arabic Biosciences and Biotechnology Stakeholders Session on Monday in Abuja.

The theme of the session is “Sustainable Exploitation of Gum Arabic for Socio-economic Development of Nigeria’’ which has in attendance, experts from
different fields as genomics, phylogeny, agronomy and related areas.

According to him, the goal of the session is to aggregate the perspectives and research results of experts in the fields on the best approach to carry out
the exploration and exploitation for gum Arabic for socio-economic development.

He said that “potentially, gum Arabic is an export crop that can add value to various sectors of Nigeria’s economy, most especially in the food
industry, biomedicine and afforestation, thereby contributing to national Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

“Gum Arabic is one of the most important crops in the mitigation of climate, hence the priority need for its massive cultivation in strategic areas of the country at the time in our history.

“NABDA is positioned to lead the use of biotechnological tools in developing a sustainable value chain of the crop for improved productivity.

“Specifically, shortening the maturity age of the crop, massive production of the seedling using tissue culture, enhancing the quality of the product
at molecular level, phylogenetic studies, among others, shall be our priorities.’’

Akpa said that the engagement was expected to lead to the development of actionable work plans on the crop to the benefit of the nation at large.

The acting Director, Agricultural Biotechnology Department, NABDA, Dr Nasiru Ibrahim,said that the meeting was to get all those involved in one way or the other in the field to make impactful inputs that would lead to sustainable research and development of the crop.

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Buhari speaks on INEC, elections, as details of meeting with EU observers emerge

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday, in Abuja told the European Union Observer Mission (EOM) to Nigeria’s elections starting in February, that he was impressed by the preparations made by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and was optimistic that the electoral body would deliver on its mandate of a credible poll.

Receiving the EOM, led by the Chief Observer and member of the European Parliament, Maria Arena, at the State House, the President said he had listened earlier in the day, to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, when he briefed the National Council of State.

He said, “I am happy and impressed with the briefing he gave. I hope that the confidence he exuded and the intellect he brought to bear on the Report will be justified at the end of the day.”

The President told the EU delegation that Nigeria had grown its electoral system incrementally, getting better, year after year.

“Having participated in elections four times in the past, I would say that since 2015, technology has helped the credibility of our elections,” he said.

Buhari said that Nigeria with over 250 cultural groups across religions and ethnic groups, with each group canvassing for identity and primacy in the affairs of the nation, “patriotism demands that we identify the nation’s best interest and go with it.”

He stressed that the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, administration had the good sense of identifying the national interest to include security, peace and stability, improved economy, jobs creation and the campaign against corruption, noting that the party was not wrong in 2015, and is not wrong going into the election this year with the same issues in its campaigns.

The President thanked the delegation for taking interest in Nigeria’s elections, and in the affairs of the nation generally.

The EOM team, accompanied by Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head, European Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said that the EU had observed every election in Nigeria since 1999, and had come here again for the next one, following an invitation by INEC.

The delegation promised impartiality and neutrality in the monitoring of the elections.

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Housemaid exposed her boss for allegedly trying to use her for ritual

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A housemaid, Mary Mulembe reported her madam a business woman named Bridget Banda and a single mother of one to the police of ritual activities after she overheard her over the phone planning to sacrifice her life and a fellow worker.

Officers later followed up the issue yesterday morning and got the woman arrested after shocking the police with some fetish items found at her residence in Kabulonga area of Lusaka, Zambia. Believed to be used for rituals.

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