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Minister accuses Private Jet Owners of aiding, abetting Gold Smuggling

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***Recommends Capital Punishment for offenders, illegal miners

The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr.Uche Ogah, on Tuesday in Abuja accused Private Jets Owners of aiding and abetting Gold Smuggling in Nigeria.

Dr Ogah gave the inducation at an investigative hearing on $9billion annual loss to illegal mining and smuggling of Gold, organised by the Senate Commitee on Solid Minerals , Mines , Steel Development and Metallurgy.
He called for capital punishment for offenders .

“Gold Smuggling in Nigeria are often done using Private Jets, the very reason why Private Jets ownership and operations, need to be streamlined in the country”, he said.

According to him, illegal mining in Nigeria, started far back in the early 1980s as a result of the indiginization policy of the military regime in the late 1970s.

The menace he explained, was prompted by the inability of indigenous workers to obtain mineral titles and required technology for mining used by the British miners before the indiginisation Policy.
He lamented further that Gold Smuggling and Illegal Mining which are robbing the country of billions of dollars on yearly basis, thrive due to series of factors like connivance of security agencies with the offenders , host communities collaboration, low level of application of technology and negative mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria .

“For these crimes to be fought decisively , potent punitive measure like capital punishment, need to be legally provided for “, he said.

He however added that the menace can be tackled proactively through establishment of Mines Police , Special Court or Tribunals to try offenders , adequate funding for the Ministry and positive mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.

“The main Crux of the matter is for us to be Nigerian by seeing ourselves as Nigerians in all circumstances .
“Doing this , will make us see mineral resources in our communities as collective wealth of all Nigerians that must not be illegally explored by anybody within or from outside the country ” , he stressed.

Speaking in the same vein, a member of the Committee, Senator Francis Fadaunsi (PDP Osun East), alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), made smuggling so easy in Nigeria. The Apex bank he explained, facilitates the menace, through its lopsided and exclusive policy on FOREX availability to Nigerians .
According to him, “Gold Smuggling and Illegal Mining are carried out by political elites and not just the poor masses at the illegal mining sites .

“Categories of Nigerians at the top from Political office holders , Politicians, Traditional Rulers, top security officers etc , are involved in Gold Smuggling and Illegal Mining in one way or the other .

“Poor ones did it on behalf of the big ones “, he said.

In his closing remarks , the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Tanko Al- Makura ( APC Nasarawa South), said for thorough investigation of the menace and required way out, heads of relevant government agencies , will be summoned for more clinical interface.
The agencies as mentioned by him are, the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), Nigeria Customs Service ( NCS) , Nigeria Immigration Service ( NIS), Nigeria Police , Department of State Services ( DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) and the Nigerian Ports Authority ( NPA)

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International Peace Day: Embrace peace for national devt – Bello urges youths

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By Friday Idachaba

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi has urged youths in the country to use the commemoration of the 2021 International Peace Day to embrace peace in all ramifications to engender positive development across the nation.

Bello made the call on Tuesday in Lokoja at the end of a Peace Walk for youths in commemoration of the 2021 International Peace Day theme, “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the peace walk was organised by ActionAid Nigeria in collaboration with the Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID).

Bello who was represented by the state Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Alhaji Idris Musa said without peace, harmonious co-existence and development were unattenable and illusive.

He attributed the rampant cases of banditry and kidnapping in some parts of the country to compromise by some individuals and corrupt community leaders.

Bello said that it was against this backdrop that his administration had continued to exhibit unwavering commitment to formidable security and provision of needed support for security agencies in the state towards ensuring internal security.

The governor also hinted his government had established the state Youth Commission to chart the way forward for youths, address issues concerning them and as well, curtail restiveness.

With the establishment of the Commission, he said, youths in the state now had direction and were more focused than ever before, to take charge and holistically address their issues.

Speaking earlier, Mrs Ene Obi, Actionaid Nigeria County Director, represented by Mr Adewale Adedotun urged Kogi Government to sustain the gains recorded in security and promotion of peaceful coexistence in the state.

Also speaking, Hajia Fatima Buba, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, said there was nothing as “sweet and delicious” as having peace and urged them to embrace peace at all times.

She said her ministry would leave no stone unturned in reinforcing the campaign for peace adding that despite the negative report of security lapses in other parts of the country remained in the lead in terms peace in Nigeria.

Ms Halima Sadiq, Executive Director, PIBCID, urged youths to approach issues with liberal mind saying that peace was necessary for a peaceful state.

Sadiq enjoined youths in the state to show love and shun violence stressing that they should not organise the themselves and the state rather than agonise.

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Contributory Pensions Scheme: Retired Police Officers accuse IGP, others of mismanagement

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***Take protest to the National Assembly

Police Retirees Under the Contributory Pensions Scheme on Tuesday took another protest over the lack of equity in the scheme to the gate of the National Assembly reiterating their earlier demand to be exited from the scheme.

The officers had earlier in April taken their protest to the National Assembly when they made similar demands in a form of petition which receive the blessing of the Senate following which  an investigative hearing of their petition was carried out.

They also accused the Inspector General of Police, Baba Alkali and the management team of aiding and abbetting the Fraudulent mismanagement of the fund which they alleged is being diverted to private pockets.

This they said is based on their finding that Baba Alkali and the management team have been footdragging to propose a bill to the National Assembly in order to exempt the Police from the Contributory Pension Scheme.

Part of their text which was made available to journalists, read: “It would surprise you to hear that till date, the IGP has refused to comply with the advice given, instead, e mandated the SIG, Sanusi Lemu to join the NPF Pension Ltd marketing team to go on marketing campings against the exit of Police from Contributory Pension Scheme.
“DIG Sanusi’s action violates Section 4 of Police Act which highlights the constitutional duties of a Police Officer. As contrary as this was, another crafty aspect of the act was a hired crowd that was induced with N10,000.00 and souvenir each to gather and pose as retired Police Officers to enable them make a clip for press release to the effect that our genuine agitation was political and not supported by generality of Police Retirees.”

The angry ex-officers recalled that the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan ordered investigative hearing of their petition since June 2, under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Danbaba, which outcome, the IGP was unwilling to abide three months after. 

Regrettably, the group said, the Inspector General of Police rather directed the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Sanusi Lemu to join other the NPF Pension Ltd marketing to embark on false campaign, stating that exiting from the Contributory Pension Scheme was not in the interest of retires and serving Police Officers.

The retirees wondered how the IGP and his management team would allow their pecuniary interest to overwhelm the thousands of retirees, saying that it was the Police officers’ fund that was used to set up the capital base of NPF Pension Ltd.

The ex-officers expressed confidence that the National Assembly will intervene by amending the Act in order to do away with the flaws and those clauses that are inconsistent with the supreme law and further demanded that:

“The exemption clause in the Pension Reform Act should be expanded to include the Nigeria Police Force which is the leading agency in internal security in this country.

“All Police retirees who enlisted into the force before the birth of the CPS in 2004 should be exempted CPS and the 300% of their annual salary be paid to them as gratuity and 80% of their last monthly salary be paid to them as pension as specified under the defines benefits scheme under which condition they enlisted into the force.”

The chairman of the cross Rivers State chapter of the Nigeria Police Retirees Under Contributory Pension Scheme Christopher Effiong who coordinated the protest on behalf of other chapters said, the IGP’s lukewarm attitude has justified their earlier findings that their pension was being fraudulently diverted into private pockets.

He expressed the believe that they were being cheated by the pension managers and some serving senior Police officers, which the National Assembly has since directed the IGP to forward a bill.

“We are here to reiterate our former appeal to the National Aseembly to exit us from the Contributory Pensions Scheme for which we were coerced. “We want to exit, we dont want it again. We would rather prefer to return to the defined benefit scheme controlled by the Nigeria police pension board where our pension and gratuity would be paid. We are pleading that they should exit us from the Contributory Pensions Scheme.

“As experts and professionals in different fields that we were trained, if we are utilized properly we are a major asset to Nigeria as a nation especially these days of insecurity ans terrorism. “When such well trained officers are treated with such disdain they can be highjacked to carry out some activities that would not be very good for the Government of this country. 

“We have bomb experts, anti Bomb and terrorism expert, we have highly trained intelligent officers among us. Government has to keep us somewhere to pacify us because in more civilised nation retired officers like us are kept as a reserved force. “Anytime you have challenges you fall back and get ideas from us to get things right but here is Nigeria after we have suffered they have abandoned us.

Offiong lamented that a Police Inspector who spent 35 years in service and retired would be paid a paltry sum of N785,284.40 and will be taking N22,000 as monthly pension, while an ASP retiree is currently paid N16,000 monthly, a situation he described as homicidal.

“Let them pay us debarment allowance, exit us from Contributory Pension Scheme. These are the two requests we are making that National Assembly should help us.”

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Senator Utazi raises issues on non-listing of Enugu as Oil Producing State

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The Senator representing Anambra North, Chukwuma Utazi has expressed dismay as to why Enugu State was not listed as one of the Oil Producing States following the recent recognition of Kogi and Anambra States 
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) recently declared Kogi and Anambra States as Oil Producing States.The lawmaker insisted that OPL 915 and 916 in the controversial Anambra basin belongs to Enugu State. 
Coming on Order 43 on the floor of the Red Chambers of the Senate on Tuesday, Utazi explained that the three lawmakers from the three States have been in the struggle for recognition, given the geographical location of the oil wells. 
Utazi recalled that in the 8th National Assembly, the legislative issue on oil and gas deposits between Enugu, Kogi and Anambra States has been a recurrent one in the hallowed Chambers of the Senate. 
“All Senators that have been representing that Senatorial district especially the Igala speaking communities that have boundary with Enugu and Anambra States, we have been discussing this issue throughout the 8th Assembly. 
“Following the frequency of our discussion, this Assembly asked the Department of Petroleum Resources to look into this issue to find out and settle this issue permanently within this three States so that they can enjoy the 13% derivation that we are entitled to because we have deposits of hydrocarbon in our area. 
He demanded that Enugu State should be recognized temporarily so that the three States can benefit from the 13% derivation in the interest of peace. 
“So the Committee that was set up by the Petroleum upstream invited the Department of Petroleum came and we discussed with them extensively. 
“They gave us a condition that any State that want to become an oil producing State to fulfill. I want to say that Anambra State has Orient Oil Producing Company that has been there trying to extract crude oil in that basin.

“After our meeting, the Department of Petroleum Resources wrote to the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) on 24th July, 2018 and we an issue here that the Orient Petroleum that is operating between Kogi, Anambra and Enugu has not fulfill certain conditions and which was mentioned here clearly. 
“In view of the foregoing, the Orient Petroleum Company has no status of an oil producing company, therefore, Anambra, Kogi and Enugu cannot be classified as an Oil Producing States for now. 
“Am happy that we are inching towards solution of this matter which in the 8th Assembly we jointly sponsored a motion here by the entire Senators, that is Senator Isaac Alfa, Kogi East Senatorial district, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, Enugu North Senatorial district and Senator Stella Adaeze Oduah, Anambra North. 
“We all agreed that since the National Boundary Commission was not able to solve this problem, the three affected States should in the interim enjoy the 13% derivation till when the problem would be solved.

“My problem now is that the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has gone ahead to recognize Kogi, and Anambra. What is left now is Anambra State. Because from the letter they have written, OPL 915 and 916 are in our area. 
I want to put on record here that since the RMAFC has accorded recognition to our our neighbours, Kogi and Anambra, they should extend same to Enugu State, so that there will be peace.

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