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Nigeria to shut borders over rice smuggling

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Chief AuduOgbeh

Chief AuduOgbeh

The Nigerian Government says it will shut the land border between it and a neigbouring country in a few days time to avoid smuggling of foreign rice into the country.

Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, made the disclosure in Abuja on Monday while speaking with youths in a leadership clinic under the auspices of Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI).

Ogbeh who did not mention the particular country and border, said that shutting the borders had become necessary to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country.

The minister said that a neighbouring country was bent on destroying the economy of the country and discouraging local production of rice, hence the need to shut down the border.

“Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbor of ours is importing more rice than China is importing.
“They do not eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice, they use their ports to try and damage our economy.
“I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear the border has been shut, we are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy.

“You will start seeing all sorts of negative things on the internet.
“Let me tell you why we need to shut the border, I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones, if you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials gets into the rice.

“There are three kinds of water in their natural state; there is fresh water from the river, salt water from the sea, blackish water.

“If you go to the Delta in many countries, in South East Asia where they grow the rice, if you plant rice in the same place like four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase and arsenic causes cancer and that is what they are dumping for us.

“Some people say they prefer Thai rice because they are very sophisticated, welcome to poison,’’ Ogbeh said.

He said that the Federal Government in two years reduced rice importation by 95 per cent and increased the number of rice farmers from five million to 30 million.

The minister said that states like Anambra, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa were doing well in rice production.

“We just have to handwork you to prosperity otherwise, this country will not grow. My wish for you is to have a better time that we had,’’ Ogbeh said.

The President of GOTNI, Dr Linus Okorie, commended the minister for sharing prosperity experiences with the youth.

Okorie noted that the leadership clinic was organised by GOTNI to expose young people to practical leadership principle for life success.

According to him, GOTNI is committed to changing the narratives of poor leadership in Nigeria by consciously developing the capacities of generational leaders.

“A lot of young people are asking questions, seeking answers to their questions, wish that they have an experienced person who will hold them by the hands and show them the way to achieve success.

“There are a few people that are readily available to do this; a lot of them are making decisions everyday on the basis of their limited exposure.

“If Nigeria must make progress, if we must consciously build the next generation of leaders then, we must expose these young people to experienced leaders that have gone ahead for a conscious transfer of knowledge and experiences,’’ he said.

Some of the youths who spoke at the meeting called for continuous mentorship from leaders, access to finance and low interest rates to assist them in businesses.

GOTNI is a non-profit youth leadership capital development organisation with a passion to nurture various categories of young people under 40 years of age, into transformational leaders.

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Falana to EFCC: Stop sealing up suspects’ assets

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Femi Falana

Femi Falana


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been advised to stop sealing up assets belonging to suspects of financial crimes.
The advice was given by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana, on Sunday at the presentation of ‘Compendium of High-Profile Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases in Nigeria.’

The compendium, which highlights high-profile corruption cases and their implications on the economy was compiled by Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), a Civil Society Organisation.

Falana said sealing up of properties while cases were still pending in courts did not do the public any good as the assets waste away with no economic value.

The lawyer said it would be good if those assets were put into use by the EFCC, pending the final determination of the cases in which they were linked.

“I do not subscribe to the locking up of assets or properties while a case is still pending in court. I do not think the EFCC or other anti-corruption agencies should be doing that.

“If somebody has stolen money to build a hospital, just like the one on Adeniyi Jones in Ikeja, somebody was alleged to have stolen to build the hospital worth about N2.5billion, which is sealed now.

“For me,you are not doing the public any good by just locking up the place and by putting your inscription: ‘Under Investigation’.

“Why don’t you allow it to function so that the place can benefit the people, because it is already acquired for public purpose.

“And this should go for all buildings too. People are looking for accommodation and you just lock up blocks of flat over cases still pending in court.

“And these cases may be in court for years.And by the time the cases are concluded, the premises you have sealed no longer have their value.
“The EFCC was set up to revive businesses not to liquidate them.You liquidate businesses by just getting some court orders.That to me, is not the way to fight corruption,” he said.

Falana added that the sight of seized vehicles wasting away at EFCC offices was cause for concern, paying the assets could have been put into economic use.

He, however, suggested that the vehicles could be sold by the EFCC to stop decay while the proceeds were kept in an account pending the determination of the cases involving their owners.

“If the case is finally resolved in favour of the suspects, they are given the money, if not, the money is forfeited to government.

“That, I think, is better than allowing these vehicles to waste away while cases are being investigated or still pending in court,” he said.
Falana said the fight against corruption could not be genuinely fought by the government, but by Nigerians themselves.

He therefore urged all stakeholders to be vigilant and play their part to confront the menace of corrruption
Also speaking. Board Chairman of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr Muiz Banire, said seizing properties and allowing them to waste away made no economic sense.

Banire, also a SAN, said such properties were better handed to AMCON to manage for the sake of the economy.

“When these assets are seized by anti-cortuption agencies, most of them get destroyed over time without rescue.I think it will be good if those assets are managed by AMCON for the sake of the economy,” he said.

In his speech, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher of PremiumTimes (Online news medium), commended HEDA for the compendium, saying it would add value to the war against corruption.

Olorunyomi said corruption was an albatross to development, calling for the concerted efforts of all Nigerians to tackle it.

He commended the EFCC for the strides made in the anti-graft war, but said more was expected from the commission to defeat corruption.

Earlier, Chairman of HEDA, Mr Lanre Suraj, said the group compiled the compendium to provide the needed information to intensify the anti-corruption war.

He said HEDA was deeply concerned about the economic losses to corruption, hence the compendium to stress the need for all stakeholders to share ideas and information with a view to winning the anti-graft war.

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2019: I’m not neutral, I want Buhari out, says Obasanjo

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Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

p
A former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has denied media reports that he has decided not to support any candidate for next year’s presidential election in Nigeria.

Mr Obasanjo made the clarification in a statement on Sunday by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi.

‘While Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is in Cairo to attend the maiden edition of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF), of which he is Chairman of the Advisory Council, his attention has been drawn to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) with the headline “Atiku: Obasanjo Shifts Political Gear to Neutral.”

“It is disingenuous, if not malicious, for anyone to suggest that Chief Obasanjo was being neutral when he chose not to use the Owu Convention as a platform for political campaign but instead adopt a communal and familial approach in talking to members of his Owu family,” Mr Akinyemi said.

“For the records, and as accurately reported by some media organisations, what the former president said at the convention in Iwo was that while he would not impress any candidates on them, Nigerians should vote for credible candidates who will drive growth and development and make their lives better than it is now.”

He explained that Mr Obasanjo’s statement did not suggest his neutrality, as he believes that, “only a fool will sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed with incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism, brazen impunity and denial of the obvious.”

“Chief Obasanjo is no such fool nor is he so unwise,” the aide said.

The former president, who already declared his support for opposition presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said he would not sit on the fence when he needs to be out and active for people to know where he stands in the best interest of Nigeria.

He urged Nigerians to stop complaining about their current situation and advised that they should and go out to get “beneficial change,” stating that, “they must know that such change will not come if they remain inactive just complaining and complacent and they allow themselves to be deceived by sycophants and enemies of Nigeria.”

“If they do not become active and get much needed change of the current administration to a government that will improve the economy, regain the confidence of investors and generally drive growth, development and economic progress with security, what is coming will be much worse than what Nigerians currently suffer.”

Mr Obasanjo said he would continue to speak against poor governance and nobody should manipulate his stance on the 2019 presidential election.

Mr Obasanjo was an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, whom he supported for the 2015 general elections.

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Buhari can’t be forced to sign something as important as electoral bill – Sen. Lawan

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Senator Ahmad Lawan

Senator Ahmad Lawan


Senator Ahmad Lawan, majority leader of the senate, says President Muhammadu Buhari cannot be forced to sign the electoral act amendment bill.

He said the president’s decision to withhold assent is not a big deal, noting that it was done in the interest of the country.

Lawan said the 2010 electoral act is good enough for the conduct of the 2019 general election.

TheCable had reported that the president said signing the bill into law could “create uncertainty and confusion” during the forthcoming elections.

“That the president declined assent to the bill was no big deal,” Lawan told NAN on Saturday while weighing-in on the development.

“We can still use the electoral act, 2010, that was used in 2015 general election. This is to allay the fears of the citizens, who might think that the 2019 elections would not be well conducted without the amendment.

“What we need to do is to look at the few lapses, especially in terms of administration which does not need any legal backing.

“INEC conducted a very good election in 2015 with the existing act. So, I believe that we can use that and nobody should start thinking that the elections will not be free and fair.

“The 2015 elections were free, fair and transparent. All over the world, we were commended for conducting such a credible election. It is not like the current act is so defective that we cannot use it.”

Lawan added that “if we cannot use the current amendments in 2019, who says we cannot use it in the 2023 elections and elections in between 2019 and 2023.

“So, national interest is of utmost importance and not the noise being made by some people. So, there is no reason for worry or agitation.”

Lawan said the president’s action was not a selfish one, adding that he scrutinised the bill before deciding to withhold assent.

“The president believes in due process and as such he will do anything possible to ensure that our election processes are transparent,” he said.

“For me, Mr president took his time with his advisers to study the bill before coming up with the decision. We are all working in the interest of the nation and as such nobody should claim to be more patriotic than the president.

“The president has his track records. This is a president that his whole life has been devoted to public good. He has never shown selfishness or done anything to enhance his personal status.

“All he does is for Nigeria to be better. So, I want to say that he cannot be forced to sign something as important as the electoral bill.”

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