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Failed US Plane Attack: Second Nigerian Quizzed

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From left: Loveday Imeah, Clifford NduWalter and Mrs Stella Inyie Toby pledging their loyalties to service as new Permanent Secretaries in the Rivers State Civil Service, recently.

From left: Loveday Imeah, Clifford NduWalter and Mrs Stella Inyie Toby pledging their loyalties to service as new Permanent Secretaries in the Rivers State Civil Service, recently.

A Passenger on board the same Northwest Airline flight that was attacked on Christmas day was taken into custody in Detroit, United States of America, on Sunday, after becoming disruptive upon landing, according to law enforcement officials.

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity as investigation was on-going, said the man was Nigerian and had locked himself in the airliner bathroom.

However, subsequent investigation revealed he was a businessman who took ill during the flight.

Reports said, security and airline personnel were on edge since the attempted terror attack on Christmas, adding that lesser incidents had been reported on other flights arriving Detroit but that incident with the Nigerian youth had sparked the most concerned.

Meanwhile, Nigeria on Saturday ordered a top-level probe after a botched attempt by a young Nigerian to blow up a US plane as it was preparing to land in Detroit, a government statement said.

“The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has directed Nigerian security agencies to commence full investigation of the incident,” the statement said.

Information Minister, Dora Akunyili said Abuja had learnt with “dismay the news of an attempted terrorist attack on a US airline.

“We state very clearly that as a nation, we abhor all forms of terrorism,” she said in the statement.

Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, was badly burned as he tried to set off a sophisticated explosive device on a Northwest Airlines Airbus A330 carrying 278 passengers and 11 crew as it began its descent into Detroit on Christmas Day.

He was overpowered by fellow passengers and arrested by US security agents on arrival on Friday.

Media reports said Abdulmutallab, who boarded the plane in Amsterdam, had flown to the Dutch city’s Schiphol airport from Lagos.

“While steps are being taken to verify the identity of the alleged suspect and his motives, our security agencies will cooperate fully with the American authorities in the on-going investigations,” the government statement said.

The would-be bomber is the son of a former chief of the United Bank for Africa and First Bank of Nigeria, Umaru Mutallab, an accountant and businessman.

There was no independent confirmation of the report.

According to other reports Mutallab used to study engineering in London.

Meanwhile, the US government has tightened airline security as it searches for answers to how a 23-year-old Nigerian man eluded extensive systems intended to prevent attacks like his botched Christmas Day effort to blow up a Northwest flight from overseas.

The suspect who claimed ties to al-Qaida was charged Saturday with trying to destroy a Detroit-bound airliner, just a month after his father warned US officials of concerns about his son’s religious beliefs.

Airports worldwide tightened security a day after the passenger tried to detonate a device that contained a high explosive on a flight into Detroit. After that attack, passengers have had to contend with extra pat-downs before boarding, staying in their seats without blankets or pillows for the last hour of the flight and more bomb-sniffing dogs.

Aides to President Barack Obama are pondering how terror watch-lists are used after the botched attack, according to officials who described the discussions Saturday on the condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt possible official announcements.

These adjustments came after the Justice Department charged that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab willfully attempted to destroy or wreck an aircraft; and that he placed a destructive device in the plane.

An affidavit said he had a device containing a high explosive attached to his body. The affidavit said that as Northwest Flight 253 descended toward Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Abdulmutallab set off the device  sparking a fire instead of an explosion.

According to the affidavit filed in US District Court in Detroit, a preliminary analysis of the device showed it contained PETN, a high explosive also known as pentaerythritol. This was the same material convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid used when he tried to destroy a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001 with explosives hidden in his shoes.

The investigation stretched to London, where officers from the Metropolitan Police, the force involved in most of the major terrorism investigations in Britain, cordoned off the street outside a white stone apartment block in a well-to-do area of central London on Saturday. A police spokeswoman said the force was carrying out searches in connection with the incident in Detroit.

University College London said Abdulmutallab was enrolled at the school from September 2005 to June 2008. In Nigeria, the father of Abdulmutallab said his son had been a student in London, but had left the city to travel.

US authorities told The Associated Press that in November, his father, a prominent banking official in Nigeria, went to the US embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss his concerns about his son’s religious beliefs.

Meanwhile, various Nigerian groups abroad have continued to denounce the botched bomb attack on a US plane by the young Nigerian suspect.

In its reaction, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Nigeria condemned the failed attempt by a Nigerian suspect to blow up a US airliner, saying it appeared to be an isolated case. “We are embarrassed by this incident and we strongly condemn the alleged action by this young man,” Lateef Adegbite, secretary general of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria, said yesterday.

“But it should be seen as an isolated incident,” he added.

“We do not think that there is any organized Islamic group in Nigeria that is inclined to such a criminal and violent act. We condemn such an extreme viewpoint and action.”

In its view, the All Nigeria American Congress (ANAC) and its constituency of Nigerians in the international community, says it stand together in denouncing the attempted terror attack over the Christmas holidays by Mr Umar Farouk Abdul Muttalab, who according to reports happens to be a Nigerian engineering student in the United Kingdom.

Mr Muttalab’s actions are in no way reflective of our feelings towards our host countries, in fact, we have assimilated well into our new communities and most of us have been model citizens in said communities, ANAC said.

The World Igbo Congress, on behalf of all Igbos in the Diaspora expressed shock by the attempted bombing of Northwest Airline Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. World Igbo Congress condemns this act of terrorism and wishes to dissociate its people from all acts of terrorism and calls on the Nigerian government, the United States of America and all well-meaning peoples of the world to investigate this act in all its ramifications in order to forestall such occurrences in the future.

World Igbo Congress pledges its support for the war on terrorism and calls on all Nigerians to step up all efforts in their direction.

Justus Awaji, Abuja

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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