Sunday, 21 December 2014

Boko haram: British troop to help train Nigerian Army

By Nnagozie Ogudo   Posted at  11:32   3 comments

British troops are being lined up for a mission to train the Nigerian army in its fight against the Islamist extremists of Boko Haram.

Up to100 British soldiers are being lined up for a mission to train the Nigerian army in its fight against the Islamist extremists of Boko Haram.

Britain has already sent specialists to train troops in Nigeria and deployed three RAF Tornados in the summer as part of the search for 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the rebels.

Military chiefs are now drawing up plans to increase the scale of Britain's support for President Goodluck Jonathan, who is said to be under "enormous pressure" from Boko Haram.

It comes amid speculation that 60 SAS troopers have been sent to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) on the ground. They are said to have been ordered to target high-profile individuals in Iraq such as "Jihadi John", the British terrorist who has beheaded western hostages.

Last week, The Telegraph disclosed that Britain was preparing to send "hundreds" of soldiers into Iraq to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces, accompanied by a military "protection" unit.

The new mission to Nigeria could provide advice on military organisation and technical support. The Nigerian army is said to be poorly run and has been subject to allegations of corruption.

A senior military source said: "We have a small military training mission in Nigeria of only around a dozen. We are thinking of boosting that by maybe up to 100 because the Nigerian Army is making woeful progress against Boko Haram. We have a large Nigerian population in Britain and there is a real fear that if Nigeria falls into chaos it could result in attacks here."

A Whitehall source said plans were being drawn up for providing assistance, and another said the UK was ready to respond positively to requests from President Jonathan for help.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Car snatching robber killed in enugu

By Nnagozie Ogudo   Posted at  06:29   No comments
Operatives of the Awkunanaw Division of Enugu State Police Command have smashed a notorious armed robbery and car snatching syndicate, which had allegedly been terrorizing motorists and residents of Enugu metropolis and its environs.
The gang's kingpin, identified as one Onovo, had been on the wanted list of the command for heinous crimes perpetrated by his men in recent times.
According to Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, "the gang leader met his waterloo on December 16 at 8p.m., when the suspect in the company of his other gang members, having snatched an ash-coloured Passat car around Mount Street, off Agbani Road, Enugu, confronted the operatives who were already on their trail.
"On sighting the operatives, the gang opened fire on their vehicle and in the ensuing gun battle, one of them was gunned down while other members of the gang, believed to have sustained various degrees of gunshot injuries, escaped and abandoned the snatched car.
"The deceased kingpin, Onovo, had been terrorizing the lives of innocent citizens of Achara Layout of Uwani, One Day axis of Awkunanaw and Ikirike axis of the state and its environs.
"Recovered from the gang were two English cut-to-size pump action guns, a locally-made double-barrelled pistol and some phones.
"Meanwhile, full scale investigations have commenced with a view to arresting his gang members, just as the command is appealing to members of the public and hospital operators for useful and timely information on any one with suspected bullet wounds for necessary action."

Fowl theft causes death sentence for 2 robbers

By Nnagozie Ogudo   Posted at  06:24   No comments
Justice Jide Falola of an Osun State High Court sitting in Okuku has sentenced two robbers to death for stealing fowls.
The convicts, Olowookere Segun and Morakinyo Sunday, were found guilty of forcefully breaking into the house of one Mr. Balogun Tope, a police officer attached to Divisional Police headquarters, Okuku, in April 2010 and carting away some of his belongings.
The convicts were charged with conspiracy, robbery and stealing contrary to Section 6(b) and 1(2)(a) of Robbery and Firearm (Special Provisions) Act, cap R 11 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Section (390)(1) Criminal Code Law, Cap 34, Laws of Osun State, 2002.
The prosecution team, led by the state Solicitor-General, Mrs Abiola Adewemimo, called six witnesses and tendered several exhibits during the prosecution.
The prosecution told the court that on November 13, 2010, men were sighted around Balogun's home armed with cutlass and a dane gun, and that while two of them were arrested, others escaped.
The convicts were said to have confessed that they stole the complainant's fowls, adding that they had been in his house before to steal.
Adewemimo said: "They also stated that they had earlier robbed Alhaja Umani Oyewo in her house and stole broilers, eggs and kegs of vegetable oil from the house."
In his judgment, Justice Falola convicted them on only three counts: to death for conspiracy; life sentence for robbery, and three years imprisonment for stealing.
Justice Falola recommended that the governor can decide to commute the death sentence to 10 years imprisonment, considering the convicts' ages.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

2015 budget: FG unveils more austerity measures

By Nnagozie Ogudo   Posted at  08:18   1 comment

austerity measures aimed at cushioning the impact of the drop in oil prices on the economy in a bid to generate additional revenues to fund the 2015 budget.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, made the announcement during a public presentation of the 2015 budget held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance in Abuja.

She explained that the measures would be implemented from the beginning of the second quarter of 2015 and would considerably boost the ratio of non-oil revenues to oil revenues.

Giving details of the measures and how much they would contribute to the treasury, she explained that the government would generate more revenue through the strengthening of tax administration.

This, she said, would be achieved if the affluent in the society contributed a bit more towards easing the pains being felt from the economic crunch.

As a short term measure, she said a 10 per cent import surcharge would be imposed on new private jets. This is estimated to yield about N3.7bn revenue in 2015.

Similarly, the minister explained that a 39 per cent import surcharge would be imposed on luxury yachts, which potentially will contribute N1.6bn in 2015; while another five per cent import surcharge would be placed on luxury cars, which is estimated to yield about N2.6bn in additional revenues.

In the same vein, Okonjo-Iweala said a surcharge on business and first class tickets would be imposed on air travellers. She, however, did not stipulate the rate to be applied for the levy and how much it would generate for the government.

Others are the imposition of three per cent luxury surcharge on champagnes, wines and spirits, expected to generate about N2.3bn next year; and a one per cent mansion tax on residential properties within the Federal Capital Territory, with value of N300 million and above.

The tax for luxury buildings within the FCT, according to the minister, is estimated to yield additional N360m to the coffers of the government.

All the surcharges, she noted, would yield about N10.56bn in 2015.

She said, "We should see these challenging times as times of opportunities to further move this economy on the right path. Luckily, this administration has taken to diversification seriously and began to make inroads prior to this time.

"The non-oil sector, whose growth has averaged about eight per cent in the last few years, is the primary driver of growth in the economy unlike the oil sector, which is actually contracting.

"In the short term, we are determined to improve tax revenues, not by increasing tax rates as many have advised, but rather as a pro-people administration, by strengthening our tax administration."

In the area of tax waivers and exemptions, the minister lamented that analyses had shown that about 30 per cent of those that received tax waivers from the government, especially under the Pioneer Status Scheme, were now abusing the system.

As a short-term measure to address this anomaly, she explained that the government had commenced a review of the implementation of the pioneer status exemptions for some oil companies.

This, she noted, could unlock up to N36bn of additional tax revenues next year.

Okonjo-Iweala also gave an indication that the current framework for Value Added Tax revenue might be adjusted to enable the states and local governments get more revenue.

Under the current framework for allocation of VAT revenue, the Federal Government gets 15 per cent; states, 50 per cent; while the local governments are given 35 per cent.

She said, in the medium term, it would be important to focus on tax policy to see where opportunities lie in order to streamline and rationalise certain taxes and levies, while looking to boost others.

For example, she said, "Nigeria has one of the lowest VAT rates in the world and medium term efforts must involve the legislature to see what opportunities exist with VAT, which largely benefits the states.

"Whilst the state governments get 85 per cent of VAT, the Federal Government gets just 15 per cent. A five per cent increase in VAT rate, for instance, will yield N614bn, most of which will go to the states and local governments.

"I believe that the discipline these new measures impose will go a long way to support the economy and provide Nigeria a responsible pathway to overcoming the limitations of falling oil revenues without disproportionately affecting the poor-to-middle class."

In the 2015 fiscal period, the minister also said the government would be ramping up the tax initiative with McKinsey to contribute extra N160bn in tax receipts and aggregate of about N460bn over and above the 2014 levels in the 2015-2017 period.

In the area of Independent Government Revenue, Okonjo-Iweala said actual receipts had continued to grow from about N182bn in 2011 to N274bn in 2013 and N328bn as of October 2014.

While she said this was encouraging, the minister noted that there were still leakages and incidences of non-remittance of requisite funds to the treasury by some agencies.

She said, "Mr. President recently summoned a meeting of the revenue generating agencies to address this issue and subsequently issued an unequivocal directive to all revenue agencies to ensure remittance of their obligations to the treasury.

"With this strong support, we are working with the banks to ensure strict compliance, and so we have projected IGR receipts of N450bn for 2015."

On the expenditure side, Okonjo-Iweala unveiled a number of specific measures aimed at reducing spending and their savings to the nation's treasury.

She said the government in the short-term would be instituting measures aimed at improving spending.

This exercise, she noted, would save a total of N82.5bn and would include cuts to international travels and training by 50 per cent for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government.

This cut, she noted, would enable the government to save about N14bn.

According to her, other provisions for overhead expenditure have been dropped completely, thus saving about N4bn for the country.

She said, "Administrative expenditure for buildings equipment and supplies as well as MDAs' provisions for the procurement of administrative supplies and equipment will be cut, saving about N5bn.

"Procurement and upgrade of buildings were similarly curtailed, saving about N44bn, while another N76bn is proposed for reallocation to more impactful programmes of government in the security, health and education sectors.

"We have also commenced partial implementation of the government's Whitepaper on the rationalisation of agencies based on the Oronsaye report. We have built in savings of about N6.5bn in the 2015 budget from the rationalisation of some agencies, committees and commissions.

"Nevertheless, medium term measures require greater efforts to cut the cost of governance across all tiers and branches of government.

"This requires support from the legislature to amend laws underpinning certain agencies. A list of such laws will be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration by the second quarter of 2015."

More than scores killed in terrorist attack in Borno border village

By Nnagozie Ogudo   Posted at  07:55   No comments
Suspected terrorists group, Boko Haram attacked Madari village in Kukawa council of Borno State on Tuesday, 16th december killing no fewer than 10 persons and adducting a woman with her two-year-old child.

  Also, the arrest of 27 members of Boko Haram terror group in two undisclosed Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Maiduguri, Borno State after a tip-off on their infiltration of the camps has raised further serious security challenges. 

   Nevertheless, the Nigerian Armed Forces yesterday assured that all the lost territories in Adamawa and other parts of the North-East that were overrun by the Boko Haram would be recovered in no distant time.

Church politics: Anglican church opposes catholic ticket for Enugu gubernatorial race

By Nnagozie Ogudo   Posted at  07:47   No comments
Anglican Communion Bishops under the Enugu Ecclesiastical Province yesterday alleged marginalization of the church in the scheme of things in Enugu state and asked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pick her governorship running mate from its members or lose support of the Anglican Church.

  Expressing support to the candidature of Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi,  a Catholic, as the consensus candidate of the party in the state, the church said it had suffered untold hardship in the politics of the state, even with her support and contribution to the development ofthe state.

  Addressing reporters in Enugu, Archbishop of the Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev Emmanuel Chukwuma, said the Anglican Church was opposed to Catholic/Catholic ticket for the governorship position of the state next year.

  He stated that Ugwuanyi being a Catholic, his running mate should be picked from the Anglican Church if the PDP hopes to enlist the support of the church to win the elections.

  Flanked by six other Bishops, Chukwuma said: "We the Anglican Bishops are crying and appealing that Anglicans in Enugu state will not tolerate marginalisation and should be giving the position of deputy governor of the state.  For the position of governor and deputy governor to be Catholic/Catholic will not be acceptable to us.       

  In the Federal level, people are not happy with Christian/Christian ticket, hence the president has taken a very good stand to return as President and pick a Moslem as his running mate. Why should Enugu State, therefore, nominate a Roman Catholic governorship candidate who we are not against and wanting again to nominate a Roman Catholic as the running mate? We Anglicans say no to this kind of arrangement. We are not in minority in Enugu state and we totally reject that intention and are warning that if they want peace to reign in this state and for them to enjoy our cooperation, it should not be Roman Catholic/ Roman Catholic ticket".

Chukwuma, who reeled a rundown on how governorship positions have been allocated in the state, said that apart from Chiefs Jim Nwobodo and Late Chief Christian Onoh, all others coming after them had been persons of other faith. He quickly added that the demand for the office of Deputy Governor had become necessary following an alleged marginalization which the Sullivan Chime administration had meted on the church since he took over the reign of power in 2007.

  He added: "Former Governor of the State, Chimaroke Nnamani who served from 1999 to 2007 is a Methodist. He picked Okechukwu Itanyi, a Catholic as his Deputy. Nnamani handed over to Sullivan Chime who is Roman Catholic. Sullivan chose Sunday Onyebuchi, a Methodist or so, not an Anglican as Deputy. As they are going out, all those who want to become governor are Catholics and in the PDP, they are plotting to make their running mate a Catholic. We are saying give us an Anglican Deputy, otherwise you are looking for our trouble.

Nigerian Navy: warship belongs to NIMASA and not tompolo

By Nnagozie Ogudo   Posted at  07:42   No comments
The Nigerian Navy has refute claims that Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo who is a former Niger Delta militant, , has bought seven decommissioned Norwegian battleships supposedly for policing of Nigerian waterways.

  Naval Chief of Training and Operations Austine Oyagha who made the rebuttal yesterday in Abuja to media men said: "No individual has acquired gunboats into this country, the gunboats being alluded to actually belong to NIMASA (Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency), and these boats are currently being manned by the Personnel of the Nigerian Navy.

  "As you may be aware the NN has collaboration with NIMASA" with the attending maritime components "to support them in executing their statutory responsibilities in ensuring the safety of the maritime space and anchorage." 

   Although the Naval authorities did not clarify if the boats were acquired within the last two years, Oyagha confirmed, however, that the collaboration with NIMASA is more than three years, in the course of which such gunships have been acquired, but can only be equipped with the said weapons with the consent of the Navy.

  Tompolo was reported to have said "that these boats in question have been in the care of NIMASA for about two years now. For the avoidance of doubts, the boats are not warships or gunboats as being erroneously spread by mischief-makers.

  "The boats as acquired are neither equipped with war arsenals nor are they ammunition carriers. They are simply boats equipped with modern surveillance devices to track oil thieves and in the process, increase the nation's revenue base through NIMASA".

  The Naval chief spoke further: "The boats that I know of belong to NIMASA. Collaboration the Navy has with NIMASA. is that they can buy boats but they cannot acquire the weapons. When they buy we provide the personnel that man the boats, and the Navy arms the boats accordingly." 

   "The collaboration with NIMASA is more than three years now and we have been acquiring boats over the years. I cannot give you the exact figure but they will continue to acquire these boats."

  Director General of NIMASA Patrick Akpobolokemi had said simple decommissioned vessels procured by NIMASA through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement were being used by the Nigerian Navy with whom the agency has a working agreement.

   "As an arm of the government responsible for maritime safety, security and regulations amongst others, we work in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy and other relevant security agencies to use their men and arms to patrol and provide safety of the country's water ways, as mandated by the global body, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)."

Sunday, 14 December 2014

APC: we are yet to pick a running mate for Buhari

By Nnagozie Ogudo   Posted at  13:55   No comments

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has assured Nigerians that the choice of its presidential running mate will be made within the context of the best democratic ideals, just like that of its presidential candidate.
In a statement in Lagos, Sunday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party urged Nigerians to ignore the widespread and misleading reports in the traditional and social media about the choice of the APC presidential running mate, saying the party has yet to even meet, not to talk of picking a running mate.
It described the reports that a running mate has been picked to run with the APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as unnecessarily sensational, downright speculative and totally misleading.
"We are using this opportunity to tell Nigerians to pray for us as we seek to pick a running mate for our presidential candidate. This is because this choice is not just for us but for all of Nigeria," APC said.
The party said everyone of the candidates who have been speculated as a running mate to Gen. Buhari is unquestionably competent to be a Vice President or even President, adding, however, that no choice has yet been made by the party.
"We are glad with the feedback we have received from Nigerians on the transparent and rancour-free manner in which our presidential primaries was organized. We are assuring Nigerians that the choice of our presidential running mate will also be guided by best democratic ideals.
"We appreciate the nationwide interest that the choice of our presidential candidate and his running mate has generated. It is a mark of the confidence that Nigerians repose in us. We assure that we will not disappoint our compatriots who have seen our party as the agent of the change they so much crave," it said.

Politicians urged to stop bad remarks on President Jonathan by cleric

By Nnagozie Ogudo   Posted at  11:36   No comments
Bishop Mike Johncleanton who is the presiding Bishop of Zion City Revival Ministries with headquarters in Lekki, Lagos, has cautioned Nigerians especially politicians, to desist from making derogatory remarks about President Goodluck Jonathan.

Speaking at a media parley in his Lagos office, the bishop also warned those making the nation ungovernable to have a rethink as they will soon be brought to justice.

The Cleric said the insurgents are a threat to the peace and unity of Nigerians and called on the Federal Government to tackle the menace in a quiet manner, arguing that Boko Haram is more of spiritual, a threat to the development, peace and unity of this country.

On the Chibok girls, the cleric said their abduction is for the spiritual pollution of Nigeria as a nation, maintaining that those who want to turn Nigeria into an Islamic nation will fail as others have failed.
The cleric also urged Lagosians to be prayerful to avert a major division.

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