Anambra: Gunmen set INEC office ablaze, destroy election materials

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Gunmen on Tuesday set ablaze the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Ogidi, Idemili South Local Government Area, Anambra State, destroying non-sensitive materials for 2023 general elections.

The Commission disclosed this in a statement by its Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in Abuja on Wednesday.

Okoye said that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Anambra State, Dr Queen Agwu, reported that the incident occurred in the early hours of Tuesday.

He said that the building was substantially damaged, as all furniture and other items, including non-sensitive materials recently delivered in readiness for the 2023 general elections, were destroyed.

“Among the items lost to the inferno are 729 ballot boxes, 243 voting cubicles, 256 election bags, 11 megaphones, one electric power generator and large quantities of indelible ink and liquid gum.

“However, uncollected Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) kept in the fireproof cabinet were not affected by the inferno.

“Similarly, no sensitive materials have been delivered to the LGA office,” he said.

Okoye said that the destruction appeared to have been coordinated as the Nnobi Police Station in the LGA was similarly attacked.

He said that in spite the despicable incident, INEC wished to reassure the people of the LGA that contingency arrangement would be made to replace the materials.

Okoye assured the people that the Presidential and National Assembly elections would proceed on Feb. 25 as scheduled, to be followed two weeks later by the State House of Assembly election.

COMMISSIONING OF THE NEW POLICE HEADQUARTERS FOR YOBE STATE IN DAMATURU

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As one of the fruits of its ongoing efforts to modernize the Nigeria Police Force, do you know that a modern headquarters has been constructed and commissioned by the Buhari administration for the Yobe State Command in Damaturu?

The new headquarters was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari himself on the 9th of January 2023 during a working visit to the State. And with such new infrastructure springing up all over the country, it is obvious that our Police institution is in for better times.

Protests As Buhari Commissions Projects In Kano

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Some youths on Monday pelted the aircraft and advanced motorcade of President Muhammadu Buhari with stones during the president’s visit to Kano state, Daily Trust reports.

The president had arrived in Kano around 10am to put an end to a back and forth between the Kano state government and the presidency on whether or not the president would keep to his schedule visit to Kano following reports of protest against his visit to Katsina state last week as a result of the perceived maladministration of the government he heads.

But despite their action, the president commissioned numerous projects such as the Dala Inland Dry Port and the Independent Power Project at Kumbotso local government area of the state,

He was departing Zawaciki to the Emir’s palace when young boys in their tens were seen aiming stones at the chopper which was already airborne.

Another incident reportedly occurred after the advanced party of the president departed the Emir’s palace to Ahmadu Bello Way for the commissioning of the Tier IV Data Centre and Galaxy Backbone Limited Office Complex, several young people also in their tens pelted the vehicles with stones with many running helter skelter to avoid being cut up in the ensuing commotion.

At the Hotoro area of the state where the president went to commission the Muhammadu Buhari Interchange, youths also took to the streets after the president had departed and were pelting the convoy with stones, a situation that led the security operatives in the convoy to fire warning gunshots into the air and later fire teargas canisters to disperse to gathering mob.

Daily Trust gathered that after the security left the scene, the youths started bonfires at different locations on the road.

There were similar protests after the president commissioned some projects in Katsina last week.

After the Katsina incident, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje wrote to the president to reschedule his planned visit, citing discontentment as a result of the fuel scarcity and the new Naira notes policy of the apex bank as a security threat.

However, the governor backtracked after the president ordered for the extension of the deadline for the old Naira notes.

DSS Intercepts Syndicates Allegedly Selling New Currency Notes

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The Department of State Services (DSS) says it has intercepted some syndicates in parts of the country for allegedly selling the newly redesigned Naira notes. 

This was contained in a statement issued by the agency’s Public Relations Officer, Dr Peter Afunanya, on Monday in Abuja.

He said the syndicate was intercepted by operatives of the service during an operation.

“Investigation has also shown that some Commercial Bank officials were aiding the economic malfeasance. Consequently, the Service warns the currency racketeers to desist from this ignoble act.

“Appropriate regulatory authorities are, in this same vein, urged to step up monitoring and supervisory activities to expeditiously address the emerging trends,” the PRO said.

He further stated that the DSS has ordered its commands and formations to further ensure that all persons and groups engaged in the illegal sale of the notes were identified.

The DSS spokesman, therefore, urged anyone with useful information relating to the sales of the new currency to pass the same to relevant authorities. (NAN)

No single government can solve Nigeria’s problems, says Buhari

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*Nigeria needs technology to ensure security, says Arase

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that no single government can solve the mirage of problems confronting Nigeria, noting that it will take the combined efforts of successive governments to achieve.

Mr President, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, spoke yesterday at the State of the Nation Dialogue with a theme, Security, Economy and Administration of Justice, organized by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Mr President reminded lawyers that they have a responsibility towards the smooth running of the country.

“This is the direction to go. I want to thank you for restoring the hope of Nigerians. I want to believe the Bar would provide the necessary leadership. I hope that in the course of the discussion, we would be able to bring out a playbook that would provide the guided processes for the incoming regime.

“I will say that no one government in this country would be able to solve the problems of Nigeria. But as we build on the precedent set by successive governments, not discarding completely what has been put in place, we would in the course of our desire to build a Nigeria of our dreams, be able to pick one or two things on which we can concentrate and move.

“As a government, the outcome of this dialogue can be transmitted to us so that whatever resolutions are reached will become part of the documents that we will prepare as we transit and hand over to an incoming government.”

Also speaking at the forum was the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, who believed that fixing primary education in the country is one sure way of addressing security challenges in the country.

The President, of NBA, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) in his remarks, expressed the need to continuously engage government at all levels in order to generate discussions that will provide Nigerians with sufficient information to guide them in making their choice of persons to occupy elective offices in the upcoming general elections.

According to him, Nigerians must be satisfied with the practical solutions being proposed by those seeking elective offices with regard to current security, economic and political challenges confronting the country.

He added that inconsistent with their duty to the people, they cannot allow the nation to be misled.

“As professionals privileged to have been formally instructed on the subject of Law, which is the instrument by which justice is dispensed to the people, we are naturally called to provide leadership. It is by justice that a people exist and as ministers in the temple of justice, our primary call is to serve the cause of justice.

Citing Uthman Danfodio, Maikyau held that a people can exist without religion but they cannot exist without justice.

“That is to say that the existence of a people is directly connected with the presence or otherwise of justice, and if our primary call as members of the legal profession, serving on the Bench or at the Bar, is to serve justice, it then follows that our responsibility is intricately connected with the existence of our nation Nigeria.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, sin, one of which is injustice, is a reproach to any people! It is this leadership that we owe Nigerians”, he said.

The newly appointed Chairman of, the Police Service Commission, Solomon Arase, in his remarks, called for the deployment of technology to tackle insecurity.

He added that although increasing the number of security personnel is good, deploying technology is crucial as it is done in advanced countries of the world.

Emefiele counters Ganduje, says currency swap not threat to Presidential Visit

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, says the excuse of security threats pushed by Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has no bearing on the ongoing currency swap across the country.

Ganduje had in an interactive session with crtical stakeholders, including scholars, legislators, political leaders and business community in the state, revealed that his administration had requested the president to postpone his official visit to the state.

The governor said the state was deeply concerned about the hardship principally induced by the ongoing cash swap from old to redesigned Naira notes.

He said the decision was taken to avoid any unforeseen circumstance.

However, the CBN governor debunked Ganduje’s assertion, saying: “I don’t understand the relationship between the CBN policy and security challenges in Kano State.”

Emefiele noted that the apex bank had achieved compliance and recorded huge success in the ongoing currency swap across the country.

He noted that all new currencies had security features that make them easy for tracking to bank branches, and the process had begun to deal with defaulters and those who breached the programme.

“Even if they are CBN staff, they will be sanctioned,” Emefiele warned.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buhari had earlier on Sunday morning approved extension of the ongoing currency swap by 10 days, moving the deadline from Jan. 31 to Feb. 10.

The president’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, who confirmed this in a statement, said Buhari gave the approval at a meeting with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in Daura, Katsina State.

He urged more time, discretion and order to enable Nigerians successfully change their currencies to the redesigned notes, and reduce the risk of loss, especially among the underserved in rural areas.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the CBN governor said the currency swap had achieved more than 75 per cent success rate of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system.

According to him, this achievement can be seen with drop in rate of inflation, more stability of foreign exchange rates, and noticeable impact on security, especially in banditry and kidnapping figures.

The CBN governor noted that redesigns were supposed to be every five to eight years.

“First, I will like to thank Mr President for giving the CBN the approval to embark on this ambitious programme because, like I said, in the past, the CBN has not had the opportunity to embark on such currency redesign programme in last 19 years.

”And indeed, let me emphasise that only an incorruptible leader of the President’s stature can give such approval to the CBN,” he said.

“Our aim is mainly to make Monetary Policy Decisions more efficacious and as you can see; we have started to see inflation trending downwards and exchange rates relatively stable.

“Secondly, we aim to support the efforts of our security agencies in combating banditry and ransom taking in Nigeria through this programme and we see that the military are making good progress in this important task,” he added.

The head of the apex financial regulator said available data had shown that currency-in-circulation in 2015 was only N1.4 trillion, while as at Oct. 2022, currency-in-circulation had risen to N3.23 trillion, out of which only N500 billion was within the banking industry.

He said N2.7 trillion was held permanently in people’s homes.

“Ordinarily, when CBN releases currency into circulation, it is meant to be used and after effluxion of time, it returns to the CBN thereby keeping the volume of currency in circulation under the firm control of the CBN.

“So far and since commencement of this programme, we have collected about N1.9 trillion; leaving us with about N900 billion (N500 billion + N1.9 trillion),” the CBN governor said.

According to Emefiele, to achieve effective distribution of the new currency, the CBN has taken some steps.

He said several meetings were held with Deposit Money Banks and they were provided with Guidance Notes on processes they must adopt in the collection of old notes and distribution of the new notes, including directives that new notes should be loaded in ATMs nationwide for equitable and transparent mechanism.

The CBN governor explained that the regulatory body worked with the media, print and broadcast, and the National Orientation Agency for sensitisation of citizens.

He revealed that 30,000 Super Agents were deployed nationwide, particularly in rural areas, regions underserved by banks and to reach the weak and vulnerable for currency swap.

To ensure compliance, Emefiele said staff members, mostly Assistant Directors, Deputy Directors and Directors in Abuja were sent to all CBN branches nationwide to join the mass mobilisation campaign and monitoring programmes.

He said breaches of the programme had been reported to the EFCC and ICPC for further action.

“Aside from those holding illicit/stolen Naira in their homes for speculative purposes, we do aim to give all Nigerians that have Naira legitimately earned and trapped, the opportunity to deposit their legitimately trapped monies at the CBN for exchange.

“Based on the foregoing, we have sort and obtained Mr President’s approval for the following:

”A ten-day extension of the deadline from Jan. 31, 2023, to Feb. 10, 2023; to allow for collection of more old notes legitimately held by Nigerians and achieve more success in cash swap in our rural communities after which all old notes outside CBN losses their legal tender status,” he explained.

Emefiele said a seven-day grace period had been given by the President, beginning from Feb. 10 to Feb. 17, 2023, in compliance with Sections 20 (3) and 22 of CBN Act, allowing Nigerians to deposit their old notes at the CBN after the February deadline.

Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after advising Buhari against visiting Kano State on Monday, Ganduje has made a u-turn, saying ”Kano is now prepared to receive the Nigerian leader”.

Ganduje, who led a delegation of critical stakeholders from the state to meet the president in his country home in Daura on Sunday, after which he revealed the change of position to newsmen.

The governor said: ”We are very much ready to receive him and we have a lot for him to commission, including Federal Government projects and state government projects.

”They are state-of-the-art projects.”

Troops kill Boko Haram chief, 31 others in Borno

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Troops of Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK), in collaboration with Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), have neutralised a Boko Haram commander and 31 other terrorists in Konduga Council of Borno State.

The commander, Abu Iliya, was killed on Saturday when troops raided the terrorists’ hideout in the Kayamari-Habasha-Yuwe axis of Sambisa Forest.
A counter-insurgency expert in the Lake Chad region, Zagazola Makama, disclosed in Maiduguri, yesterday, that the troops achieved the feat following an intelligence-led patrol of the terrorist’s camps in three villages.

“The troops made contact with the terrorists in the course of a counter offensive patrol in Yuwe village,” he said, adding that this led to a heavy gun battle.

A military source in Maiduguri also said the troops successfully defeated the insurgents, while other insurgents fled in disarray upon encountering superior firepower.

The source said the fierce battle that lasted over an hour led to abandonment of the terrorists’ weapons and other property in the villages.
According to Makama, the troops also destroyed 50 bicycles recovered at the hideout.

Major General Ibrahim Ali, the newly appointed Theatre Commander of OPHK, vowed to sustain troops’ efforts towards ending the fight against the insurgents. He said all hands must be on deck to end terrorism, which has claimed many lives and property in the region.

While taking up his new office during a ceremony in Maiduguri, at the weekend, Ali had explained: “There is much to be done by troops in routing the remnants of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) insurgents in the forest and region.”

He noted: “Our troops in the frontlines are better equipped than the terrorists, in restoring peace in the insurgency affected states in the region,” and thanked the Borno State government, security agencies and stakeholders for their support in the fight against insurgency.

2023: APC Group mobilizes 5,000 women on electoral surveillance in Kano

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Ahead 2023 general election, a Progressive Young Women Forum (PYWF), under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) is prepared to deploy 5,000 women for election monitoring in Kano.

Besides, the group declared readiness to strongly defend the votes of and galvanize support for APC presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on 25th February 2023.

Addressing journalists on Sunday during a capacity building for the APC women at Sani Abacha sport indoors, state coordinator Hajiya Balaraba Aliyu Madugu explained that PYWF is prepared to ensure a smooth electoral process and victory of all APC candidates.

According to her, the 5,000 carefully chosen across the nook and cranny of the state would be trained on electoral monitoring and surveillance as well as mobilize support for APC candidates.

Hajiya Madugu added that the women volunteers would be deployed to 484 wards across the 44 local government areas of the state.

Hajiya Madugu said it is time for women in the country to champion the cause of quality and exemplary leadership traits Tinubu epitomized especially when he governed Lagos state.

Madugu pointed out that PYWF is convinced that the presidential candidature of Tinubu and Shettima is what Nigeria urgently needed to ease the present difficulties bedevilling the country.

She applauded the support of the grand patron of PYWF and the son of APC presidential candidate, Seyi Tinubu, pledging massive votes of Kano women during next month’s election.

Director Tinubu/ Shettima presidential campaign support group in Kano, Professor Shehu Garba applauded the initiative of PYWF on election planning and monitoring for 5,000 women.

Professor Garba noted that with the formidable blueprint of Tinubu/Shettima, no political candidate can match the front runners in the APC in the next general election.

Redesigning of currency targeted at hoarders of illicit funds – Buhari

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Ganduje Tells Buhari To Shelve Kano Visit 

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, stated that the redesign of the country’s currency by his administration was targeted at those hoarding illicit funds and not the common man.

Buhari, however, assured that the government will ensure that citizens are unharmed in their businesses, and that no disruption is caused to the entire supply chain, arising from the currency swap due to end shortly.
 
Reacting to reports of long queues of citizens waiting for hours to deposit old notes and get new ones, Buhari reiterated that the redesign was aimed at people hoarding illicit funds, and not the common man, stressing that “it had become necessary to prevent counterfeits, corruption, and terrorism funding.”
He expressed optimism that the new effort will help to stabilise and strengthen the economy.
  
While taking note that the poorest section of society is facing hardship, as they often keep hard cash at home for various expenses, Buhari gave strong assurances that the Federal Government will not leave them to their fate.
 
According to the president, a number of initiatives by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and all commercial banks are underway to speed up the distribution of the new notes besides doing all that is necessary to forestall cash squeeze and chaos.

Meanwhile, the Kano State government formally requested the Presidency to postpone a two-day official visit of President Buhari, to Kano.

President Buhari is scheduled to arrive Kano, tomorrow, Monday 30, for the unveiling of seven legacy projects executed by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. They include a 10- megawatt hydropower plant; a multi-billion naira cancer treatment centre and the Dala Inland Dry Port among others. 
Addressing stakeholders, including Islamic scholars, state legislators, political leaders, and the business community Friday evening, at the Government House, Ganduje disclosed that the state government was compelled to write the Presidency on the need for Buhari to shelve his coming to Kano because of the fragile state of security in the country.

Ganduje expressed worries that Nigerians were presently undergoing difficult times occasioned by the monetary policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), adding that Buhari’s visit may be greeted by unforeseen circumstances that could threaten his security.
“Deeply concerned with the hardship caused by the limited time given for halting the use of old naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and for security reasons, we have written to the Presidency that the visit of the president to commission some projects to be postponed. 
“As we are waiting for this important visit, we found ourselves in this situation, which puts citizens into untold hardship. So, for security purposes, we have written to the Presidency that President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Kano is postponed. We have got an acknowledgment copy of the letter. People are suffering because of this policy,” Ganduje said.

Ganduje affirmed that before the government’s stand, consultations were held, and a unanimous decision was taken in support of the letter sent to the Presidency.

A statement by Abba Anwar, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, two serving senators from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya, and Barau Jibrin, 20 members of the House of Representatives and 30 legislators from the State House of Assembly were amongst the groups that put their weight behind the decision. 

Lamenting the CBN’s policy, Ganduje said: “There are no banks in most of our rural communities. So, how the people get the new naira notes is of great concern. Just look at what is happening in our urban areas, where people go and spend several hours in banks without any assurance of getting new notes. Even at Point of Sales (PoS), one cannot transact with ease, many of the PoS operators are now planning to close shops due to uncertainty.

NDLEA Busts Trans-Border Cartel, Arrests 5 Kingpins

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Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have successfully burst a trans-border drug cartel and arrested five leaders of the syndicates operating in parts of the world in a special operation that lasted weeks during which different quantities of skunk, methamphetamine and ephedrine, as well as air compressors used to conceal and distribute them globally, were recovered.

The spokesman of the agency, Femi Babafemi, said on Sunday in Abuja that the special operation came on the heels of a warning by the Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) that drug barons and cartels will have it rough in 2023 if they fail to back out of the criminal business.

According to him, leaders of the cartel which spreads across Dubai, UAE; Cotonou, Benin Republic; Togo; Oman, Thailand and Europe as well as Lagos, Imo and Onitsha in Anambra state, had while on Christmas and New Year holidays in their villages were still coordinating efforts to send their illicit consignments to Dubai and other parts of the world.

“Their lid was blown open on Thursday 29th December 2022 when their freight agent, Onyeisue Collins Chukwudi was arrested by NDLEA officers at the SAHCO export shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja Lagos for attempting to export three big automobile air compressors to Dubai.

“A quick follow-up operation led to the recovery of additional five compressors at his home at 24 Legacy road, Ayobo area of Lagos. A total of 27.50kgs of skunk were taken out of the air compressors after welding equipment were used to cut them open,” Babafemi said.

He said that further investigations revealed that the freight agent was working for a bigger organized criminal group. As a result, extensive operational tools were deployed to track the first kingpin, Onuoha Peter Obioma who lives in Benin Republic and Togo but comes occasionally to do business in Lagos.

The efforts paid off on Saturday 7th January 2023 when Obioma walked into the arms of NDLEA operatives with a bag containing additional air compressors used to conceal 15.7kgs of skunk and a crystalline substance that later tested positive for methamphetamine after the agency’s sniffer dogs identified compressors with drug concealment.

He said, “Obioma’s statement led to the unravelling of two other leaders of the cartel: Dubai-based, Ugo Kelechi Alex (aka KC); and Iwueke Ugochukwu (aka Odugwu), an Onitsha, Anambra-based businessman, who were at that point still enjoying the Christmas and New Year holidays in their village in Imo State.

“A well-coordinated operation was thereafter carried out on Tuesday 10th January at their ancestral homes in Umuobi village, Igbejere community, Ihitti-Uboma LGA, Imo State, while the arrowhead of the cartel identified as Ezenwekwe Obinna Nicodemus, an automobile parts dealer at Alaba International market, Lagos was put under surveillance. A Lexus SUV and a Toyota jeep were immediately recovered from Kelechi and Iwueke.”

The NDLEA spokesperson said that after so many dramatic bids to evade arrest, personnel of the agency eventually nabbed Obinna at a bar in Mazamaza, Mile 2 area of Lagos on Saturday 14th January.

A search of his home led to the recovery of 607 grams of ephedrine, a handful of Cannabis weighing 20 grams as well as other paraphernalia, including 271 grams of dimethyl sulfone used as a cutting agent for ephedrine, a chemical precursor and an active ingredient for the production of methamphetamine.

A weighing scale and an International passport were equally recovered from his house.