Members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) stationed in Lokoja, Kogi, on Sunday intercepted 20 vehicles conveying more than 103 children, suspected to have been trafficked.
The JTF Commander, Lt-Col. Gabriel Olorunyomi, made this known to newsmen in Lokoja yesterday.
He said that his men became curious when they discovered that the occupants of the vehicles were mostly children, accompanied by some men and women.
He said that the vehicles and the occupants had been taken to the Army Records Headquarters in Lokoja, where they would be screened to ascertain their actual destination.
Olorunyomi, however,said that 103 of the passengers were children with ages between 3 and 16 years, while 79 others were of 19 years to 53 years.
He said that preliminary investigations revealed that the vehicles were conveying the passengers from different communities in Benue, Cross River and Kogi.
“Most of the passengers are from Obi, Oju and Gwer Local Government Areas of Benue, while the remaining few are from Iyala Local Government Area of Cross Rivers and Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi,’’ he said.
Our correspondent reports that all the passengers, apart from giving similar excuses for their movement from their various communities, also said that they were all heading to Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos and Edo states.
The Tide also learnt that most of the passengers conceded that they were heading to the southwestern states for the first time in search of vacation jobs, while some said that they wanted to go and do some farm work.
Two of the drivers, Bolaji Olusola and Adedeji Oluwaseun, told newsmen that they picked up the passengers at motor parks.
They said that some of the passengers paid their transport fares at the loading points, while some promised to pay theirs when they got to their destinations.
It would be recalled that the JTF on July 27 arrested a man conveying carrying 10 children with ages ranging between 6 years and 16 years in an ash colour Camry car to Lagos.
The man, who was arrested on the same route, was later handed over to the police for interrogation.
Also speaking to journalists, the Commander of Army Records, Maj-Gen, Alphonsus Chukwu, said that the children might be victims of child trafficking.
He said that initial interrogations revealed that the children would be received at their destinations by some yet-to-be-identified persons, who would then pay their transport fares to the drivers.
Chukwu said that the drivers were also suspected to be accomplices, as they failed to produce the passengers’ manifest and agreed to carry many of the passengers without collecting their transport fares at the loading points.
The army officer said that the vehicles, drivers and passengers would be transferred to the police for proper investigations and action.
Chukwu, however, said that the development indicated that many parents had failed in their responsibility toward their children’s upbringing.
He urged parents to take proper care of their children so as to ensure that they did not fall into wrong hands.
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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