The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to the news report on the front page of Punch Newspaper dated 21st October, 2022 that the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, is planning to either sell or grant concession in respect of Tafawa Balewa Square situate in Lagos Island, Lagos State.
The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation (HAGF) must be aware that the position of the Federal Government to either sell or concession the Tafawa Balewa Square cannot be valid as the HAGF is the Plaintiff in Suit No. SC.508/2012 between Attorney-General of the Federation vs. Attorney-General of Lagos State pending before the Supreme Court wherein the HAGF is seeking for a declaration that the ownership of the land, building, monuments structures and fixtures better known as Tafawa Balewa Square in the city of Lagos is vested in the Federal Government. The Suit is fixed for 1st November, 2022 for hearing by the Apex Court.
Unfortunately, this is the second time the Federal Government and its Agencies have taken this position, which is quite contrary to the recognition that there is an existing and pending dispute between the parties in relation to the ownership of the Tafawa Balewa Square and this resulted in the HAGF invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to seek resolution of the dispute between the Federal Government and Lagos State Government.
In response to the Federal Government’s first attempt to circumvent the matter pending at the Supreme Court, on the 17th of June, 2021 the Lagos State Government took out an advertorial in the Punch Newspaper to refute the allegation of the Federal Government and its Agencies to ownership of the Tafawa Balewa Square. A copy of the advertorial is attached for ease of reference.
It is the position of law that once parties have submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the court they are not to take any action that will affect the subject matter of the Suit and any plan to either sell or concession the Tafawa Balewa Square during the pendency of the Suit before the Supreme Court will violate the principle of lis pendis and such sale or concession is liable to be declared null and void.
As the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, it is incumbent on your office to advise the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and Bureau of Public Enterprises that no such sale or concession in respect of Tafawa Balewa Square is to be embarked upon until the Suit instituted by your office in the Supreme Court is determined.
…TO MARK EIDUL-MAWLUD CELEBRATION
The Federal Government has declared Monday 10th October, 2022 as Public Holiday to mark this year’s Eid-ul-Mawlud Celebration in commemoration of the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who made this declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulates all Muslims both at home and in the Diaspora for witnessing this year’s occasion.
He admonishes all Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love, patience, tolerance and perseverance which are deep spiritual virtues and which the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) exemplified, adding that doing so would guarantee peace, security and harmony in the country.
Ogbeni Aregbesola enjoins Nigerians, particularly Muslims, to refrain from violence, lawlessness and other acts of criminality. “As the indisputable leader of our race, we must demonstrate responsible leadership in Africa”, the Minister stated.
While calling for a stop to all divisive tendencies across the country, the Minister urges all Nigerians, and the youth in particular, to embrace the virtues of hard work and peaceful disposition to fellow humans, irrespective of faith, ideology, social class and ethnicity and join hands with the President Muhammadu Buhari led-Administration in its effort to build a progressive and enviable nation that all citizens would be proud of.
The Minister urges Nigerians to be security conscious, asking them to report any suspicious persons or activities to the nearest security agency and through the N-Alert application on Android and IOS, saying “when you see something do N-Alert, as this would elicit prompt response from security agents”.
The Minister wishes all Muslims a happy celebration and Nigerians a happy holiday.
The Federal Government and Google are collaborating to curb the excesses of subversive YouTube channels which are used to spread hate and disinformation against the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this when a team from Google visited him in Abuja on Thursday, expressed delight that both the Federal Government and Google shared the same concern on the responsible use of Social Media.
“We want Google to look into how to tackle the use of private and unlisted YouTube channels and YouTube livestreams by proscribed groups and terrorist organizations. Channels and emails containing names of proscribed groups and their affiliates should not be allowed on Google platforms,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed, who noted that Google is a platform of choice for IPOB, a proscribed terrorist group, implored the tech giant to deny IPOB the use of its platform for its acts of violence and destabilization.
He said Nigerians are among the most vibrant social media users in the world, with over 100 million Internet users in the country, and that internet platforms such as Google, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and WhatsApp enable Nigerians to interact, share ideas, earn a living and participate in social and political affairs.
The Minister however observed that those platforms are also used by unscrupulous persons or groups for subversive and nefarious activities.
Alhaji Mohammed said the Federal Nigerian Government recently proposed a “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/ Internet Intermediaries” in an attempt to provide a framework for collaboratively protecting Nigerian users of Internet platforms.
“This code couldn’t have come at a better time, as the country prepares for general elections next year. We are committed to working with platforms like yours as well as the civil society, lawyers, media practitioners and other relevant stakeholders to ensure a responsible use of the Internet and to protect our people from the harmful effects
of social media,” he said.
In his remarks, Google Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Mr. Charles Murito, said the platform has introduced a programme called “Trusted Flaggers” for citizens trained to track and engage with online contents in order to
flag contents of serious concern.
“As I mentioned earlier, we share the same sentiments, we share the same goals and objectives and we do not want our platform to be used for ill purposes,” he said.
On his part, Google Government Affairs and Public Policy Manager, Mr. Adewolu Adene, said “Equiano”, a subsea cable which recently berthed in Nigeria from Portugal, is aimed at enhancing connectivity and access to the internet as well as to drive down the cost of data, in order to create jobs and facilitate the transfer of knowledge.
He said through the Google News Initiative Challenge, 30 media platforms, with 5 from Nigeria, including the Dubawa fact-checking platform, would be awarded a $3.2 million grant in recognition of their innovative work in information dissemination.
Mr. Adene also pledged the readiness of Google to work with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to digitize the recently-repatriated artifacts in order to preserve and market them to a global audience through Google Arts and Culture.
The Director General of National Youth Service Corps, Brigadier General Muhammad Kaku Fadah has advised Corps Members to be patience, hardworking and embrace dignity of labour which are the hallmark of a successful leader.
He said their potentials as graduates of different courses has placed them on the ladder of success, but they need to be disciplined because impatience can jeopardise their future ambitions.
The DG stated this while addressing Corps Members during his visit to NYSC Kwara State Orientation Camp in Yikpata, Edu Local Government Area of the State.
“Please be patient and avoid any form of shortcut to success. NYSC has no place for fraud, cybercrime, drug abuse and other forms of social vices. Anyone that is caught violating NYSC laws would be sanctioned appropriately”, he said.
Speaking further, General Fadah urged the Corps Members to be conscious of their security, during and even after their service year, adding that he would ensure the safety of all Corps Members.
The Director General also admonished the Corps Members to obey the rules and regulations in their respective places of Primary assignments.
He urged them to be patriotic and contribute their quota to National development as good ambassadors of their families, states, alma mater and the NYSC Scheme.
…to mark this year’s Democracy Day celebration
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulated Nigerians on this occasion and urged all citizens to support the present administration in its efforts at ensuring a secured, united and prosperous nation.
Aregbesola admonished Nigerians to use the occasion to reflect on the long journey the country has made towards the enthronement of a civil democratic order, before national Independence in 1960 till date and the sacrifices of our patriots.
He reminded Nigerians of the challenges we have faced and overcome, including a civil war, and said any form of agitation that threatens the unity of the country should be shunned for the good of all, saying the space known as Nigeria would be a haven of peace, unity and progress if all citizens love their neighbours and embrace the spirit of brotherliness.
“As we mark another Democracy Day in the history of our dear country, let us reflect on the efforts of our founding fathers and ensure that Nigeria remains one united, secured, peaceful and an indivisible entity, noting that no development can take place in an acrimonious environment,” he stressed.
“With the challenges we face in Nigeria today, I see an opportunity for us not to break up or break down, but to break open; open up to ourselves in truth so that we may appreciate each other, understand each other, honour each other and live together in peace and prosperity,” Aregbesola reiterated.
The Minister advised Nigerians to judiciously put into use the recently unveiled Nigeria Internal Security and Public Safety Alert System (N-Alert) Mobile App designed to mitigate security challenges and other disasters with the slogan “See Something Do N-Alert”, in the usage of the Mobile App, which has been upgraded to meet with current challenges in the country.
He assured that with the concerted efforts being put in place by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration to secure the lives and property of Nigerians and stabilise the economy, the nation will continue to get better.
Ogbeni Aregbesola enjoined Nigerians to keep faith with democracy, that though it might not have brought our best expectations, we should keep at it, knowing that practice makes perfect, and the alternatives are far worse and have proved ruinous and disastrous to the nation, if our recent history is anything to go by.
“There will surely be light at the end of the tunnel,” he stated.
The Minister wished all Nigerians a happy Democracy Day Celebration.
In a move believed to have put an end to the various underhand dealings at Nigeria Ports Authority, the Federal Government has confirmed the appointment of Mohammed Bello-Koko as the substantive head of the Authority and by that token, removed Hadiza Bala Mohammed who had been on suspension.
Recall that Bello Koko has been in acting capacity since May 2021 when Hadiza Bala Usman was suspended by the Federal Government.
In a statement issued today, the Federal Ministry of Transport confirmed the appointment of Bello-Koko as the substantive head of the Authority by President Buhari.
Hadiza Bala Usman, it was gathered was queried over issues relating to favouritism, underhand dealings and outright disregard of court order while she held sway as the Nigeria Ports Authority Managing Director.
According to the sources, she revoked the lease of LADOL and gave same to Dangote’s friend a serving Senator, disregarding a Presidential directive. This move angered the Presidency because Ladol had invested over 300million Dollars and for a Federal Government appointee to display such show of disdain was unheard of.
She also shut down the ports and terminals of the BUA Group for close to one year despite a court order to the contrary. Obviously, her intentions and moves favoured Dangote with a view to keeping BUA Group and other competitors out of business while granting mouthwatering concessions to Dangote Group to create a monopoly. This issue generated a lot of questions from industry watchers.
Apart from this, there were issues relating to the dredging of Calabar port which was believed to have been dare to the Government’s heart, more so that of Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi. Sources claimed she claimed the project was not viable whereas findings by specialists disagreed with this.
To cap it all, there were allegations that she was also indicted by the audit report set up to look at the accounts of the NPA.
When she was confronted with the issues, especially the audit report as well as the move to create monopoly by Dangote, granting him so much concessions thereby denying the country revenue, our source revealed, she had nothing tangible to say in her defence, hence the decision to boot her out.
Professionals in the engineering field have been advised to up their game by proffering solutions to the many challenges facing the society including its housing deficits.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, gave the advice at the 29th Founders’ Day Celebration of the Ikeja, Lagos Branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and the commissioning of the Engineering Resource Centre named in his honour, held at Ralph Alabi Engineering Centre, Ogba, Lagos, on Monday January 31, 2022.
“I will urge engineers, in spite of the giant strides they have made, not to relent in their efforts at human development and progress in order to live up to the billing as merchants of applied knowledge. The best research and innovations will still take engineers to convert to reality.
“One major challenge of an urban centre like Lagos is housing shortage. According to the latest estimate, Lagos has 2.5 million housing deficits. This creates other problems of health, the environment and security.
“The overcrowding and high population density in some areas is a ticking time bomb in epidemics and pandemics of the future. Engineers should begin to design and construct low-cost houses that use less concrete and blocks and can be produced at very fast rate in order to decongest and restore sanity to these areas,” the Minister stated.
Speaking further on the role of professionals in setting minimum standards for development in the country, Ogbeni Aregbesola stated that professional bodies should put themselves in the position to ensure that the government is getting value for money on projects and that the public feel their impact on the way government conducts its business, so they can gain the respect and admiration of the public.
“More than anything, engineers and professionals in general, should re-horn their sense of role and responsibility to the society in a developing economy like ours. On roads, for instance, engineers and other professionals should come up on an annual basis the requirements and the cost of constructing different categories of roads in the different regions of the country.
“This will prevent just anyone from coming up with arbitrary figures that aid corruption and deplete public resources. Such template should be available on any public works. We need to entrench a culture of government officials and contractors being conscious that they are being watched and scrutinised and that they will be held accountable.
“Unless these professional bodies put themselves in the position to ensure that the government is getting value for money on projects and the public feel their impact on the way government conducts its business, they will find it difficult to gain the respect and admiration of the public and will be seen as part of the scams going on. In the developed world, it is these professional bodies that keep society in check and prevent people from going astray. Nigerian engineers therefore should be involved in the entrenchment of values – of works and service to the community,” Ogbeni Aregbesola stated.
The Minister also challenged engineers in the country to come up with creative ideas to provide energy and reduce the cost of electricity and petroleum products in the country.
“One other major national challenge is energy – for homes, vehicles and industrial uses. We have had enough talk on the energy deficits and challenges. Engineers should now take the lead. There should be new approaches to providing cheaper and affordable alternative sources of energy and conversion of our machines, vehicles and appliances to function with these innovations.
“When I visited Egypt some 10 to 15 years ago, I found out that most of their taxis were very old vehicles, none of them caused toxic pollution on the roads. That society as at then had perfected the use of gas to power their vehicles with the use of simple engineering equipment.
“I am therefore using this occasion to challenge our engineers to come up with very creative ideas to help the country reduce its cost of subsidising petroleum for Nigerians,” the Minister requested.
Speaking at the event, chairman of the occasion, Engr. T.S.G. Wudil, who is also the President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, celebrated and appreciated the Ikeja Branch of the NSE for the visionary project, stating that when last he visited in 2015, many meaningful projects and contributions have been made to the Society by the branch.
“Since I came here in 2015, the branch has continued to grow and contribute to the professional development of Engineers in Nigeria.
“I can promise you that the national body will continue to support the growth of the branches and especially the Ikeja branch for its commitment to ensuring the professional development of her members,” the President stated.
Also speaking at the event, the special guest of honour, Dr. Taiwo Olayinka Afolabi, stated that he supported the project to ensure the growth of the Engineering profession.
“I personally supported this project to help bridge the gap between the classroom and the practising field. I’m sure with the opening of this building, the Rauf Aregbesola Engineering Resource Centre, the centre will help advance the cause of the Engineering profession in Nigeria,” Dr. Afolabi stated.
Also at the event were: former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Lasun Yusuf; Chairman of the SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi; former Commissioner for Education in the State of Osun, Engr. Kola-Omotunde Young; Special Adviser to the Minister, Hon. Bola Ilori; Deputy President of the NSE, Engr. Mrs. Oguntala, FNSE; Chairman of the Nigeria Mechanical Engineers, Engr. Funmi Akingbagbohun, FNSE; the oldest living Past Chairman of the NSE, Ikeja Branch, Engr Francis Oguamanam, current Ikeja Branch Chairman of the NSE and Chief Host, Engr. Olutosin Ogunmola amongst other special guests.
Mr Emmanuel Babalola, father of late Itunnu Babalola, a.k.a Bekky Paul, who was wrongfully jailed and died in Cote d’Ivoire prison, has formally rejected the autopsy report carried out on the body of his 24-year-old daughter.
The apparently worried father made his opinion known when he paid a thank- you visit on the Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa in her Lagos office.
He said the autopsy report which was written in French did not reflect the true situation of the cause of death of Itunnu.
Babalola, who wept uncontrollably, said he got somebody who interpreted some aspects of it to him, and expressed dissatisfaction with the result of the post mortem test.
“My daughter was framed up and was wrongfully jailed. It is painful that they lied against her after breaking into her apartment and stole her property. But it is even disheartening that she died mysteriously in prison after the intervention of your Commission when she was about to be freed.
“I don’t believe that she died of natural cause. I spoke with her on Wednesday in good health condition, how come she died two days later vomiting blood and claiming it was ” sepsis complicated by acute respiratory distress”. This is unacceptable.
“That is why am here to thank you for all you have done for me on her and through you appealing for justice for my late daughter.
Babalola reiterated his call on the Federal Government to ensure that his daughter’s name was cleared of the allegation and make sure that those who framed her up as well as those responsible for her death were brought to justice.
He stressed that while in prison, his daughter complained of poor treatment while in the custody of the Ivorian Government. She was poorly looked after and suffered from health complications. Her health deteriorated so bad that she had to be admitted to military hospital. She unfortunately died under mysterious circumstances, days after she was admitted to the hospital.
She told me how they took her to hinterland prison from the Cote d’Ivoire Capital Abidjan, a journey of about five hours, and imprisoned her there in order to discourage those championing the case as well as frustrating the cause of justice.
Responding, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the Babalola family again and assured the father that the matter would not be allowed to go away like that.
At the solemn occasion , the NIDCOM boss who confirmed that the autopsy said Itunu died of “ sepsis complicated by acute respiratory distress” said the autopsy indeed left a lot of doubts because there are gaps in the medical report which calls for more investigation.
The NIDCOM Chairman also insisted that the Ivorian Police man, the DPO, implicated in the Itunnu’s frame up has questions to answer.
Dabiri-Erewa said that some group of lawyers have indicated their willingness to take the matter up with the ECOWAS court to seek justice for Itunnu.
On behalf of the Commission, she provided some financial support for the family to cushion the effects of losing a breadwinner.
Itunnu died on Nov. 14 at Ivorian military hospital and was buried on Dec. 4 at Sango cemetery in Ibadan at the age of 24.
She had been wrongly and unjustly convicted of human trafficking , sentenced to 20 years imprisonment , which was later reduced to 10 years.
She had served two out of the 10 years sentence before the father raised an alarm on behalf of his daughter .
The Nigerian High Commission in Côte d’Ivoire immediately employed the services of a lawyer to appeal the judgment, got the case transferred to Abidjan and the lawyer was on the last lap of finalising the appeal before her sudden death in prison.
The Federal Government has said it has digitalised payments for the Nigerian Passports, advising citizens to avoid patronizing touts and unscrupulous officials when applying for the documents.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola stated this on Monday, 20 December, 2021 in Ibadan, the Oyo State Capital, during the Rollout of the Enhanced e-Passport with Polycarbonate Data Page and other security features.
“Part of the reforms is the migration of passport application and payments to digital platforms. But we regret to observe that applicants still patronise touts and unscrupulous officials in the hope to beat the system and get expedited services. When they were disappointed, they come to report to us. Of course, we have zero tolerance for corruption and subversion of due process. We therefore take seriously any such report and invoke the necessary disciplinary measures.
“But I will implore applicants to stop patronising touts and our officials directly. Follow the process we put in place. Apply for passports and pay online. The only engagement with our staff is the enrolment of your biometrics. Patronising touts and passport office officials doesn’t always end well, but rather serves to defeat our purpose of eliminating corruption and infusing integrity to the passport administration process,” the minister stated.
Speaking on the new application process, the minister noted that a new timeline has been set for fresh passport application and reissue.
“Our template stipulates maximum six weeks for obtaining new passports and maximum three weeks for renewal. We work within this schedule to enable us investigate any claims made by applicants and verify them, for the final document we issue them to have integrity. If there are challenges, wait, eventually you will get your passport before your due date of travel, if you apply early enough. You will still have long enough time to apply for visa and other travel documents.
“Nowhere in the world is passport administration done on wait-and-get basis except in extreme emergencies. The only wait-and-get passport is passport photograph,” the minister stated.
On the new enhanced passport being rolled out in Ibadan, the Oyo State Capital, the minister noted that the passport is an improved document with high security features.
“The Enhanced e-Passport is a great improvement on the Biometric Passport technology which Nigeria adopted in 2007 as a deliberate step towards curbing forgery, impersonation and other forms of travel document fraud associated with the old Machine-Readable Passport regime.
“It is the latest technology in passport making anywhere in the world and only few countries have it. It is the most secure identity document ever produced. We are proud to make it available to Nigerians,” Ogbeni Aregbesola concluded.
Speaking during the event, the Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, CG Isah Jere, reiterated the call by the minister for citizens to stopped patronising touts.
“As you have heard from the Minister, we expect that the only time citizens will have contact with our officers is during the biometric capturing. You are to apply and pay only. Soon, we are launching an appointment management system and a tracking system for you to know anywhere you are in the world, the process of your passport application,” CG Isah Jere revealed.
Also speaking at the, the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr. Segun Ogunbiyi lauded the efforts of the Nigeria Immigration Service saying the state will continue to support the service in performing its statutory duty.
Also at the event were the, Alafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III; Olubadan of Ibadan represented, service chiefs of all the paramilitary services in the state amongst others.
The Federal Government has declared 5 October of every year as the National Day of Senior Citizens.
This was disclosed on Friday, 17 December, 2021 by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, while representing President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Special Guest of Honour at the First Presidential Summit on Ageing which took place in Abuja.
He also disclosed that the Federal Government has concluded plans for a “progressive registration of all senior citizens of 60 years and above with the issuance of identity cards for ease of accessing considerable discounts and dignifying age-friendly treatments and courtesies in public services and spaces”.
The theme of the Summit is “Building Inter-generational Synergies for Inclusive, Cohesive and Sustainable Communities”.
The summit was organised by the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, headed by Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq.
According to Ogbeni Aregbesola, the declaration of the Day for Senior Citizens in Nigeria is in line with the UN International Day of Older Persons celebrated annually on 1st October.
“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the National Policy on Ageing in 2020 to address the special needs and harness opportunities in the increasing number of older persons in Nigeria, this is in addition to the establishment of the National Senior Citizens Centre in June 2021.
“The ageing population in Nigerian constitute 4.7% of our population which equates to approximately over 9 million people. This age bracket of people is characterised by those who have given their best towards the development of our nation,” Aregbesola said