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N540b recovered through whistle blower policy, says minister

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MINISTER of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) has so far recovered over N540 billion through the Whistle Blower Policy.

He stated this yesterday at the 71st General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Mohammed said: “To this end, as at May this year, the EFCC, through the Whistle Blower Policy, has recovered over N527 billion, $53 million, and £122,890.”

The minister, who was represented by the Director, Public Relations and Protocol of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Sunny Adejoh Baba, said the EFCC also successfully launched a major onslaught on the seeming high-and-mighty in the society (including senior military officer and their civilian accomplices), who had soiled their hands with shady deals, leading to recovery of choice assets across the country.

He enjoined the media to align itself with the policies and programmes of the Buhari Administration, aimed at ridding the country of the cancer of corruption, in order to free funds for development projects, which will uplift the standard of living of the citizenry.

“This effort should not be seen as the sole effort of Mr. President or the Government alone. The media has a duty to ensure that the programmes of government, meant to uplift the lots of the citizenry, are projected as a national cause and not just as that of Mr. President or the administration,” the minister said.

Mohammed, who said the BON General Assembly is taking place at an auspicious time in view of the forthcoming general elections, urged the broadcasting organisations not to yield their platforms to the purveyors of hate speech and fake news.

He said the broadcasting outfits should instead promote the unity, stability and the development of the country.

“Anything short of this would amount to a criminal abdication of a sacred duty, which could spell doom for our collective national life.

“We have had enough sordid examples to learn from that we ought not to allow a repeat at this critical time of our national development.

“It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the media and specifically, broadcast media, do not allow itself to become a purveyor of fake news and hate speeches,” the minister said.

Mohammed restated the Federal Government’s commitment to allowing the media to carry out its assigned watchdog roles, even as government expects the press to be guided by national interest above every other interests.

The minister said the launch of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Jos in April 2016 underscored the administration’s determination to democratise the right to know, the right to knowledge and the right to be informed.

He noted that the changing media landscape and the advent of digital technologies have fundamentally altered the nature and function of media in the society, at times circumventing traditional media and challenging its privileged role as gate-keeper of news and entertainment.

The minister, therefore, urged companies in the broadcasting value-chain to take the advantage of the market and build local stations that would create employment for a diverse segment of the population and also lead to a transfer of technology and free the creative dexterity of the young population.

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THE NATION

2019 Elections: The Army staged a coup against Rivers state – Wike

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has stated that the Nigerian Army staged a coup against Rivers State during the 2019 General Elections, describing their actions as the worst in the nation’s democratic history.

Addressing the Joint House of Representatives Committees on Army, Police, Human Rights and Justice at the Government House Port Harcourt on Monday, Governor Wike said that the Nigerian Army acted illegally because they were working to impose a pre-determined leadership on Rivers State.

He said: “It is really unfortunate. All of us know that there was a coup in this state, organised by the Nigerian Army. In the history of this country, it has never happened where during an ordinary election, the Army will begin to kill people for no just cause.

“Because they believe a particular person or a particular party must win, it doesn’t matter how many people die. It was shown on National Television. We watched how the Army invaded the whole Electoral Commission “.

He regretted that the Federal Government has never worked to assist Rivers State Government fight insecurity.

“This is the only state the Federal Government has never assisted to fight insecurity. Instead of us to team up and fight insecurity, you politicize it.

“Even if you make recommendations, nothing will happen. I don’t know whether we are in a military regime or Civil Administration”, he said.

The Governor noted that aside the Army, the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARs) has been a major anti-democratic force in the state, since the 2016 rerun elections.

He pointed out that the F-SARs murdered a Ph.D. Holder and Chartered Accountant in cold blood simply because they wanted to subvert the will of the people.

Governor Wike wondered why the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army is still unpunished, despite the negative roles he played during the elections.

“The GOC here is a politician. Nothing has happened to him because he was sent. If it was when the country was a country, you cannot be keeping that GOC. He is sabotaging the security network “, he said.

He suggested that urgent measures be taken to rejig the security architecture of the country, in view of the nation-wide security challenges.

The Governor said rather than address the security challenges facing the country, security agencies move against critics of security failures.

Earlier, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Army, Rimande Shawule Kwewum said that were in the state to investigate killings by the F-SARs on the basis of a motion by the Member Representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, Mr. Kingsley Chinda on the killing of Dr. Ferry Gberegbe during the elections.

He said that the joint House of Representatives Committees are in the state are on a fact-finding mission.

He said that the Committees will sit down and allow all the stakeholders to state their positions for the committee to arrive at the truth and make relevant recommendations.

The Federal Lawmaker said that there is a correlation between insecurity and under-development. He said that countries that suffer insecurity hardly make progress.

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Dabiri-Erewa lauds Buhari over release of Zainab Aliyu

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The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for facilitating the release of two Nigerians arrested in Saudi Arabia.

Zainab Aliyu, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, who embarked on Lesser Hajj in Dec. 2018, was detained by the Saudi Arabia authorities for allegedly being in possession of banned substances.

Ibrahim Abubakar, another Nigerian, was also detained by Saudi authority for alleged drug-related offence.

However, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Sulaiman on Tuesday in Abuja announced the release of the two Nigerian detainees by Saudi authority

Dabiri-Erewa, who gave the commendation in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said Buhari’s timely intervention saved the two Nigerians from being punished for offence they did not commit.

“We thank God and thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his immediate intervention.

“When we brought the matter to him about two weeks ago, he immediately directed the Attorney General of the Federation to ensure Zainab and Ibrahim were released.

“All I can say is, I am happy that this young promising girl did not get punished for an offense she did not commit,” she said.

The presidential aid, however, expressed concern over the authority’s was handling of case of the suspects, who allegedly planted banned substances in Zainab’s bag at the airport.

“My worry is that those who set her up are now on bail. NDLEA must ensure prosecution of those culpable.

“Egypt Air and Ethiopian Air must ensure compulsory baggage identification of passengers.

“All the cases we have had so far have involved only those two airlines. Security surveillance at our airports must also be strengthened,” she said

The permanent secretary had said that the release was as a result of intense diplomatic engagements between the Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

He said that the ministry made great effort to establish their innocence.

Suleiman noted that the government had raised several note verbal with the Saudi Embassy in Abuja and their Consulate in Kano over the matter.

He said that the news of her release was heartwarming to the government and Zainab’s family. (NAN)

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Dangote donates 2,160-bed hostel to ABU

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AFRICA’S foremost businessman and Aliko Dangote Foundation Chairman Alhaji Aliko Dangote donated at the weekend a 2,160-bed space hostel complex to the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State.

The hostel, comprising 10 blocks of 360 rooms, built at  N1.2 billion, is coming after similar gestures to Bayero University, Kano and University of Ibadan, Ibadan, where the business mogul donated multi-billion naira business school complexes, respectively as part of his contribution to the education development in the country.

The inauguration of the hall of residence coincided with ABU’s 41st convocation during which the varsity conferred on Dangote and the renowned Labour leader Hassan Sumonu, honourary Doctorate degrees.

Also 15,787 graduating students were also awarded various degrees.

The President of Dangote Group explained that he was moved to build the structure having realised that the students’ population at the universities have recorded significant increase without a corresponding growth in terms of infrastructure.

He lamented that the situation has remained a subsisting and growing major challenge as public varsities grapple with under-funding.

Dangote said: “Thus, I will like to use this opportunity to enjoin the Federal Government to consider allocating special funds to the universities to enable them to improve on research and upgrade their infrastructure. Such special intervention has become imperative given the perennial funding challenges facing our universities.”

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