Archives June 2023

Confusion as woman vanishes with seven-month-old baby in Imo market

Many traders at the Amaraku weekly market in Isiala-mbano Local Government of Imo State, were unsettled on Friday when a 7-month-old baby was reportedly abducted by a woman.

DAILY POST gathered that the baby girl was taken away by a woman who had only offered to assist the young mother in carrying her distressed child as she marketed her goods.

A few minutes after the unsuspecting mum relieved herself by giving her little daughter to a woman who offered to help, she vanished with the child into the tumultuous mob.

A market source, who pleaded anonymity, said the baby’s mother, after giving the fleeing woman a rapper so she could carry the child on her back, started shouting, ‘where is my child ?’

He said, “Today in Amaraku Market, I was purchasing some food items when a woman started yelling, ‘my baby, my baby, where is my baby?’

“Because the baby was wailing and upsetting her while she was selling Okro and other veggies, she had given her 7-month-old infant to a stranger. After placing the infant on her back, the stranger vanished into the mob. The woman began screaming and sobbing when she realized the woman was no longer in sight.

“Other nearby traders assisted in the hunt for the woman but were unable to locate her. Given that there were over five thousand buyers and sellers present, it’s possible that the woman was enchanted by the stranger. Because no responsible mother would release her child in such a setting.”

Recall that a female neighbour in Imo State’s Amato community abducted four children between the ages of two and four about a month ago.

Both the neighbour’s location and the children’s whereabouts are still unknown at this moment.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Command, Henry Okoye, stated that he had yet to be briefed on the news at the time this report was being filed.

(Daily Post)

Extreme heat wave kills 13 people in US

No fewer than 13 people have died from the extreme heat wave that has been tormenting the southern United States for two weeks, officials said Friday, with air in other parts of the country polluted by forest fires in Canada.The highest death toll, 11 people, was registered in Webb County, Texas, near the Mexican border.”As of Wednesday, there has been 11 total deaths,” local officials said in a statement to AFP. “Ten are Webb County residents, the eleventh death was from a neighboring county that was brought to a local hospital and unfortunately passed away.”A 14-year-old died last week when he was hiking in Big Bend National Park in Texas, where temperatures reached 119 Fahrenheit (48 Celsius). Tragically, the victim’s stepfather died in a car accident as he was rushing to the boy’s rescue.

And a 62-year-old woman died in the neighboring state of Louisiana last week, after a storm left thousands of families without power and thus without air conditioning, according to local officials.

In recent days, temperatures in some southern US cities have felt like 113 degrees Fahrenheit, with the pavement cracking in Houston, Texas and authorities setting up cooling centers in the city of with 2.3 million.

Meanwhile, Canada continued to battle the worst forest fire season in its history, a phenomenon that scientists say is exacerbated by human-induced climate change.

As smoke drifted south, large parts of the United States that are home to more than 120 million people, from the Midwest to the East Coast, remained under air quality alerts.

In New York and Philadelphia, the air was considered unhealthy, according to the government platform AirNow.

Air quality alerts were also issued in the Canadian province of Ontario, as well as for much of the North American Great Lakes and parts of Minnesota, North Carolina and Georgia.

Smoke from the wildfires has also drifted across the Atlantic Ocean and over European countries, including Portugal and Spain.

(AFP)

UN ends 10-year peacekeeping mission in Mali

The UN Security Council on Friday ended a decade-old peacekeeping mission in Mali, whose military junta has aligned with Russia and demanded the withdrawal of the international force battling jihadists.Bowing to the principle that peacekeepers need the consent of the host government, the Security Council voted unanimously to start immediately winding down the mission despite fears by Western powers of new instability in the troubled African nation.

The vote came two weeks after Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop stunned the Security Council by calling the major UN operation known as Minusma a “failure” and urging its end.

Mali’s relations with the United Nations have deteriorated sharply since a 2020 coup brought to power a military regime that also severed defense cooperation with France, the former colonial power.

The junta instead has rallied behind Moscow and brought in the Wagner Group, the ruthless mercenaries involved in a mutiny against Russian President Vladimir Putin last week.

“We deeply regret the transitional government’s decision to abandon Minusma and the harm this will bring to the Malian people,” senior US diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis told the Security Council.

But he said that the United States voted for the resolution as it agreed with the logistical timeline for the withdrawal, which is set to be completed by the end of the year.

Shortly after the vote, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Diop and promised “unstinting support” for Mali in the military, humanitarian and economic areas, the foreign ministry in Bamako said.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Anna Evstigneeva, also promised “comprehensive support” to Mali, which she said wanted to take “full responsibility” for its security.

Under the resolution led by France, the peacekeepers will cease their main activity from Saturday and focus on departure, although they will still be empowered to protect against “imminent threats of violence to civilians” through September.

Deadly and costly 

Minusma has been the most costly mission for the UN, at $1.2 billion a year, and 174 peacekeepers have died since its creation in 2013.

Despite tensions with the junta, the UN mission had widely been expected to be extended until the Malian foreign minister’s intervention. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier in June had proposed renewing Minusma but streamlining its activities.

In a report, Guterres acknowledged shortcomings but called the mission “invaluable.” He noted that several countries in the region saw extremist groups as an “existential threat,” fearing the violence would spill over.

With 13,000 troops and police in Minusma, its termination will be a Herculean task, with the United Nations needing to take away equipment, helicopters and armored vehicles.

“Securing the constructive cooperation of the Malian authorities will be essential to facilitate the process,” said a spokesperson for UN peacekeeping operations.

While the withdrawal was a given, the timeline was the focus of heated negotiations in recent days, according to diplomats.

Mali, with the backing of veto-wielding Russia, had pushed for Minusma to leave as quickly as possible, while some other nations feared that even six months was too rushed.

Richard Gowan, an expert at the International Crisis Group, said that UN officials feared that Wagner will simply take over Minusma facilities once the mission is completed.

Julie Gregory of the Stimson Center said the end of the mission could have a dire effect on civilians.

“It’s likely that violent extremists will take the opportunity to increase violence,” with a potential for increased confrontation with national forces, especially in the north, Gregory said.

Russia has insisted that its paramilitary forces will continue to operate in Mali and other African nations, notably the Central African Republic, despite the aborted mutiny of the Wagner Group’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Russia had long insisted that Wagner was a private group but acknowledged after the rebellion that it had been directly funding its overseas operations, which have been widely criticized by the West and human rights groups.

“We do not believe the partnership with the Wagner Group will deliver long-term stability or security for the Malian people,” said the British ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward.

(AFP)

Emefiele: DSS, UK govt asked to ensure return of Access, Gtbank MDs for immediate questioning

A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, has raised the alarm on the need to invite both the Managing Director of Access Bank and his counterpart at the Guaranteed Trust Bank (GTB) following the arrest and the ongoing probe of the erstwhile Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele.

Frank said the probe of the two bank leaders was necessary based on allegations that the duo were allegedly main accomplices in aiding the atrocious acts of subversion and misappropriation of public funds meant for the welfare of the Nigerian people.

In a statement signed and released Friday in Abuja, Timi Frank also appealed to the government of United Kingdom (UK) to cooperate with Nigeria security agencies to immediately invite the duo for questioning.

Frank claimed that invitation for probe had been sent to the two managing directors.

According to him, this key information also discloses that even when invitation from the Department of State Service has been extended to these individuals to report and answer to allegations bordering on their involvement with the erstwhile Governor of the CBN, active plans are underway to undermine the invitation extended to them whilst resorting to taking refuge in the UK specifically.

“It is important to note that even when invitations have been extended to these individuals to report on Monday the 3rd of July for questioning, the MD Gtbank who was sighted today chilling in the streets of the UK had repeatedly reaffirmed his unwillingness to return to the country for any such cross examination by the DSS.

“We are also aware that four other Managing Directors of tier one banks in the country have been fingered as direct accomplices and conduit for Mr. Emefiele with the Access and Gtbank MD’s playing the greater roles in aiding to defraud and fleece the nation fraudulently.

“Therefore, I’d like to call on the UK government to kindly assist the Nigerian government by disallowing any form of extended stay for these individuals who are currently in the UK for personal purposes.

“The UK government must be seen in aiding the Nigerian government by disallowing any corrupt individual, whether Private or Public servants by making the UK a haven for corrupt officials.

“As stakeholders in fighting for a corrupt free nation, we’re determined to do all we can in assisting the FG eradicate all forms of corruption in the Nigerian society.

“We must also note the acquisition of two private jets by the Gtbank Managing Director with a value of over $80million which is not officially captured anywhere in their books. This fraudulent acquisition must also be properly ascertained to determine the genuineness of such largesse.

Frank also called on the State Security Service (DSS) “to do all within its powers in fishing out and bringing the enemies of Nigeria to book. We have had enough of individuals taking the country for a ride and benefitting solely for personal agradissment.

“I am convinced that the Department of State Service will take this information seriously and act accordingly in compelling these individuals to answer to their fraudulent roles in line with the provisions of the law.

“We have other key information at our disposal should the DSS oblige.”

ASUU rejects new curriculum by NUC

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has rejected the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards prepared by the National Universities Commission (NUC) .

The union said it was nightmarish, a threat to quality university education, and an erosion of powers of the university Senate in Nigerian universities.

A statement signed by the national president of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, on Friday, explained that it was inexplicable that NUC pre-packaged 70 per cent CCMAS contents were being imposed on the Nigerian University System, adding that university Senates, who are statutorily responsible for academic programme development, were left to work on only 30 per cent.

It stressed that there were growing concerns about the numerous shortcomings and gross inadequacies of the CCMAS documents.

“ASUU is not unaware that setting academic standards and assuring quality in the NUS is within the remit of the NUC. Section 10(1) of the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act, Cap E3, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, enjoins the NUC to lay down the minimum standards for all universities and other degree awarding institutions in the Federation and conduct the accreditation of their degrees and other academic awards.

“However, the process of generating the standard is as important (if not more important) than what is produced as “minimum standards”.

“In this instance, the NUC has recently, through some hazy procedures, churned out CCMAS documents containing 70% curricular contents in 17 academic fields with little or no input from the universities. The academic disciplines covered are (i) Administration and Management, (ii) Agriculture, (iii) Allied Health Sciences, (iv) Architecture, (v) Arts, (vi) Basic Medical Sciences, (vii) Computing, (viii) Communication and Media Studies, (ix) Education, (x) Engineering and Technology, (xi) Environmental Sciences, (xii) Law, (xiii) Medicine and Dentistry, (xiv) Pharmaceutical Science, (xv) Sciences, (xvi) Social Sciences, and (xvii) Veterinary Medicine,” it read partly.

It stressed that many university administrators, though dissatisfied, were shying away from making public comments on CCMAS.

The statement revealed that, however, some university Senates did not hide their displeasure with the ongoing efforts to impose CCMAS on Nigerian universities by the NUC.

It read, “The CCMAS is a nightmarish model of curriculum reengineering. It is an aberration to the Nigerian University System. The CCMAS documents are flawed both in process and in content. There is no basis for the 70% “untouchable CCMAS,” which cannot stand the test of critical scrutiny of university Senates.”

However, it suggested that “NUC should encourage universities, as currently being done by the University of Ibadan, to propose innovations for the review of their programmes. Proposals from across universities should then be sieved and synthesised by more competent expert teams to review the existing BMAS documents and/or create new ones as appropriate.

“The difference here is the bottom-up approach, unlike the top-bottom or take-it-or-leave-it model of the CCMAS.”

Election: Top INEC’s official moves to testify against Obi, Atiku as PEPC reconvenes Monday

As the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) reconvenes on Monday (July 3), the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has lined up witnesses to defend the election victory of President Bola Tinubu and one of them is Dr. Lawrence Bayode, Deputy Director in the ICT Department of the electoral umpire.

The petitioners, including the Labour Party and Peter Obi as well as Peoples Democratic Party and Atiku Abubakar, had concluded tendering of evidence and presentation of witnesses last Friday, insisting among other prayers, that INEC’s failure to upload scanned polling unit results in real-time contradicts the Electoral Act 2022 and amounts to electoral fraud.

In their separate petitions, they want the PEPC to nullify Tinubu’s election while declaring them winners of the 2023 presidential election.

Obi had presented before the court cloud engineering and cyber security experts, including a Professor of Mathematics to explain his team’s findings on the INEC Results Viewing Portal, IREV, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines, and deflate INEC’s claim that “technical glitches” prevented transmission of the presidential results to the IReV portal.

Atiku also presented a forensic expert, among other witnesses.

In Bayode’s witness statement on oath, he said during the February 25 presidential and national assembly elections, INEC’s technical team did everything to restore the (IREV) application to functionality, including the creation and deployment of patches and updates to resolve the glitches that made the BVAS machine not to upload results in real-time from the polling units.

He contended that the downtime encountered on the IREV application lasted for 4 hours and 50 minutes until it was resolved and the first presidential result was “successfully” uploaded at 8:55 pm on the 25th of February, 2023.

“The investigation by the INEC experts shows that the system was returning error codes specifically HTTP 500 error.

“HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) 500 error is a coding message which indicates that a computer or server has encountered an unexpected error that has prevented it from carrying out or fulfilling a specific request or executing a command,” he said in his witness statement.

Bayode further explained that the upload of data or images captured and automatically stored on the BVAS machine by presiding officers requires data service of mobile network operators.

“Where there is no data service or where the service is poor, the BVAS device is designed to work offline. The upload of data will occur when data service is available,” Bayode added, maintaining that offline transmission using BVAS did not affect the integrity of upload of the election result to the e-transmission and IREV portal.

NEWS FLASH reports that INEC has five days to call its witnesses to pave the way for the legal team of Tinubu and the All Progressive Congress to do the same.

In line with the PEPC directive, parties must have concluded presentation of their evidence by July while parties will adopt their final addresses in August.

Judgment on the petitions will come in September.

CBN pegs transaction limit via contactless payments to N50,000 per day

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has placed a N50,000 daily limit on contactless payments either through bank accounts or digital wallets.

The apex bank also limited the amount per transaction to N15,000 on contactless payments.

The CBN disclosed this yesterday in a circular titled, “Transaction Limits on Contactless Payments.

The circular signed by the Director, Payment System Management Department, CBN, Mr. Musa Jimoh stated: “Following the issuance of the Guidelines on Contactless Payments in Nigeria and in cognisance of the risks associated with contactless payments, the Bank hereby defines transaction limits above which verification and authorisation are required.

“Transaction limits for contactless payments through accounts/wallets in Nigeria shall be as follows: Transaction limit maximum amount is N15,000 and daily cumulative limit maximum amount is N50,000.

“Higher-value contactless payments are transactions that exceed the above stated limits and shall require appropriate verification and authorisation.

“For these transactions, existing Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements and limits on the electronic payment channels shall apply.

“Limits above this stipulated daily cumulative limit shall be conducted using contact-based technology. Please be guided accordingly.”

According to the ‘Guidelines for Contactless Payments in Nigeria’ also issued yesterday, by the CBN, “Contactless technology is a technology that enables an alternative payment method whereby payment instruments are used without physical contact with devices. Contactless technology in payments provides easy, convenient, and efficient cashless options for users.

It added: “Examples of contactless payment instruments include pre-paid, debit and credit cards, stickers, fobs, wearable devices, tokens and mobile electronic devices. Contactless-enabled payment terminals interact with contactless payment devices to facilitate payments.”

Peter Obi deletes tweet addressing Tinubu as ‘Mr President’

Former Anambra State governor Peter Obi on Friday retracted his acknowlegement of Bola Tinubu as Nigeria president.

Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party, contested and lost the 2023 presidential election to Tinubu who was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in February.

The ex-Anambra State governor along with former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are challenging Tinubu’s victory in court. Both contestants who came third and second respectively claim that they won the election and want Tinubu sacked by the court.

Since Tinubu’s swearing in on Monday, May 29, 2023 when he succeeded former President Muhammadu Buhari, neither Obi or Atiku has addressed Tinubu as president. But Obi did on Friday.

What happened?
President Tinubu was received to a heroic welcome to Lagos, a state he governed from 1999 to 2007 and has been influential in choosing successive leaders on Wednesday. It was his first visit since he assumed office as Nigeria president.

Hundereds of his supporters and political dignitaries, including Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu were on the ground to give him a state welcome.

However, the visit became a major point of criticism for the president after a long motorcade accompanied him to his new private residence. Multiple SUVs were seen speeding ahead and behind Tinubu’s car. This is at a time Nigerians are groaning over the increase in petrol prices due to fuel subsidy removal announced by Tinubu during his inaugural presidential speech.

Tinubu’s aide on digital media Olusegun Dada in a tweet said “the official vehicles of the president and principal aides make up less than 10% of the Motorcade” under criticism.

“The other vehicles in the Presidential motorcade belong to Several State Governors, heads of all security agencies, Party Leaders and political associates of the President who were all at the airport to receive him,” Dada said.

Obi calls Tinubu “Mr President” and deletes tweet
Amid a wave of critisms and defence from Tinubu’s supporters, Obi said “sacrifices for a better Nigeria must start from the leaders at all levels of government.”

The Labour party candidate in the initial tweet said he is yet to see the video “allegedly showing Mr President with about a 120-car convoy.”

Peter Obi’s deleted tweet

Hours after his comment, Obi deleted the tweet and replaced with another that does not address Tinubu as president.

“We cannot continue to preach for the people to sacrifice without sacrificing too,” Obi said in a later tweet. “The sacrifices must now start from the leaders visibly, and measurably at all times because the people are suffering. We must now be at the forefront of addressing the suffering.”

(Guardian)

Don’t play politics with military, ex-CDS Irabor warns

Former Chief of Defence Staff General Lucky Irabor (retd), has warned against playing politics with the military.

According to him, the military enjoys unity and bond not found in any other sector.

Irabor spoke at a reception organised by the Defence Headquarters after his Pulling Out parade on Friday in Abuja.

He said, “The friendship and unity that exists within the armed forces you cannot find it anywhere and that is why you shouldn’t play politics with the military because, from the 774 LGA of this country, everyone is represented. There is no commander that goes to war with those he claims are his kinsmen.”

He said contrary to belief, no military personnel takes any special injection but for the training and indoctrination which comes from the regimentation.

He said, “The military is a family for those who may not know. It is a family. I have answered so many questions about being given an injection. What is that injection? There is no injection. The injection is training and discipline.

“They also said we operate like a cult, the process alone there is nothing wrong if I say we are in a cult but it is a good cult. In the training establishment when I was a cadet, we spend three years but two years later it became a five-year programme, when it was three years, the admission was every six months and when it became one year, the admission became every year.

“For you to finish a three-year program means that you will have five sets of your senior and five sets of your junior. The bonding that comes with it, you can’t find in any other place and that is why you think is a cult.

“The values and traditions are transmitted from one generation to the other. When you get to the field you see yourself as brothers. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to our friends and the citizens, the investment in members of the armed forces is such that other sectors need to take a cue from.”

Irabor also urged the new CDS to follow up on some of the promises the President, Bola Tinubu made to the military, adding that if those promises were fulfilled it would be to the benefit of the country as well as the service.

He said, “In my last interaction with the president, he made some promises to the military. Let me urge you to follow up on the promises and those promises would be of greater good for the armed forces and the nation”.

Earlier, the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Christopher Musa, promised that the service chiefs would not relent till peace returned to troubled parts of the country.

He vowed to continue to promote synergy and work collectively to attain peace and stability.

Musa said, “We will not let you down. We will continue from where you have stopped. When I sleep I ask can we meet some of the things you have achieved? I want to assure you that We will continue from where you have stopped, we complete all ongoing projects.

“We will continue the synergy you have started. We will always come to you because of the experience you have. I will not allow your experience to waste. We’ll work together with the citizens of Nigeria. We’ll not relent until there is total peace in Nigeria.”

(Punch)

Lagos PoS agents to charge N500 for N10,000 cash withdrawal

Point of Sale agents in Lagos State will soon begin to charge customers N500 for N10,000 cash withdrawals.

This is after the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Lagos Chapter, announced a new price list for PoS transactions on Channels Television’s Business Morning programme by the Public Relations Officer, Lagos Chapter, Stephen Adeoye, on Friday.

According to him, the association’s price list is to eradicate price discrepancies in the industry.

He said, “Let me tell you the price list, N1000–N2,400 will be N100 for withdrawal. N3500 to N4000 will be N200; N4,100 to N6,400 will be N300; N6,500 to N7,900 will be N400; N8500 to N10,900 will be N500; N11,000 to N14,000 will be N600; N14,500 to N17,900 will be N700; N18,000 to N2000 will N800 for withdrawal.

“Like we said, depending on your location, you can also step it down for people depending on the circumstances. But it should not go more than this.”

He further stated that for deposits and transfers, agents can now charge N100 for N1,000 to N4,900; N200 for N5000 to N10,900; N300 for N11,000 to N20,900; N400 got N21,000 to N30,900; N500 for N31,000 to N40,000; and N600 for N41,100 to N50,000.

Adeoye said the chairman of the Lagos chapter of the association, David Abiodun, recently released the new price list to excos at a symposium. He noted that the purpose of the list was to curb the activities of agents that were still overcharging their customers.

He said, “Although, we agreed that depending on one’s area, they can lower the charges. But it should exceed these new prices. This is why we expect everyone to paste it in their locations so that customers can see it.”

Commenting on how the association intends to enforce its price list, the PRO states that it will leverage its relationship with the police and a task force in their area of operations.

Adeoye explained, “To enforce this new price list is easy because we have a good relationship with the Lagos State Command, Police Force, and all the DPOs in the area. Very soon a task force will be set up in each zone so that they will work along with it.

“Today, someone can get a PoS and start working, but we would soon get to everyone. Registered members have a number and certificate, and we have a good collaboration with the CBN both in Lagos and in Abuja. AMMBAN is part of meetings around financial inclusion.

“So, enforcing this will be easy for us. We have zones in almost all the local governments. So, our task force in each zone will locate those who are there. We also have our website, and everyone has to register.”

In January, National President, AMMBAN, Victor Olojo, told The PUNCH that the association did not have any plans to increase its service charges. In February, the Central Bank of Nigeria released emergency telephone numbers where Nigerians could report PoS agents charging above N200 for withdrawal of amounts up to N10,000.

(Punch)

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