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Piracy Drops As Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project Kicks Off

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The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported a drop in piracy attacks in Nigeria in the third quarter of 2019.
IMB said in its latest report, “Nigeria has reduced Q3 piracy attacks from 41 in 2018 to 29 in 2019,” which represents nearly 30 per cent year-on-year reduction.
This is as the Deep Blue Project, a comprehensive maritime security architecture initiated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in collaboration with the military and other security agencies, comes into operation.
The piracy reporting body also said there was a decrease in global piracy incidents during the first nine months of 2019, compared with the corresponding period in 2018, in a fall to a five-year low.
Director of IMB, a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Pottengal Mukundan, said, ”119 incidents have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018. Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months has declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.”
However, according to IMB, piracy and armed robbery attacks remain a challenge in the Gulf of Guinea.
The decline in piracy and armed robbery attacks on vessels came as the Deep Blue Project, Nigeria’s integrated security and waterways protection infrastructure, began to yield results.
The project is handled by an Israeli firm, Homeland Security International (HLSI). It involves the training of field and technical operatives drawn from the various strata of the security services and NIMASA as well as acquisition of assets to combat maritime crime, such as fast intervention vessels, surveillance aircraft, and other facilities, and establishment of a command and control centre for data collection and information sharing to aid targeted enforcement.
The Deep Blue Project aims at building a formidable integrated surveillance and security architecture that will broadly combat maritime crime and criminalities in Nigeria’s waterways up to the Gulf of Guinea.

 

Nkpemenyie McDominic, Lagos

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FG Suspends Electricity Tariff Hike

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The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has ordered the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to suspend the September 1 tariff increase for 14 days.
The commission’s suspension order of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2020 signed by NERC’s Chairman, Prof James Momoh, was released on its website, yesterday.
NERC suspension followed a joint communique issued by the Federal Government and the labour unions.
The Federal Government agreed that the recent review in electricity tariffs would be suspended by the commission for a period of 14 days to further consultations and finalisation of negotiations between the parties.
The order by NERC said that from September 28 to October 11, the DisCos must revert all charges to the tariff existing as of August 31.
“This means that for the next two weeks, electricity consumers having power above 12 hours who were affected by the over 100 per cent tariff hike would revert to their old charges”.
It said, as empowered by Section 33 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, EPSRA 2005, the Minister of Power, Engr Sale Mamman can issue such directive to NERC.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Mamman were among the team that met with the labour unions.

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N2.67bn School Feeding Funds Found In Private Accounts, ICPC Confirms …Ministry Feigns Ignorance

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The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, says the agency has discovered N2.67billion meant for the school feeding programme in private accounts.

The agency, he added, also found over N2.5billion diverted by a deceased worker with the ministry of agriculture, noting that 18 buildings, 12 business premises and 25 plots of land, were also recovered in the ministry.

Owasanoye disclosed this in Abuja on Monday at the second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, which was organised in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation.

The summit with the theme, “Together against corruption”, also included the launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

He said under the Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January and August 15, 2020, 72 out of 268 ministries, departments and agencies had cumulative infractions of N90million.

According to him, while 33 MDAs explained that N4.1billion was transferred to sub-Treasury Single Account, N4.2billion paid to individuals had no satisfactory explanations.

He stated, “We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were to prevent disbursement from being monitored. Nevertheless, we discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N2.67billion during lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts.”

The ICPC chairman also said under its 2020 constituency and executive projects tracking initiative, 722 projects with a threshold of N100million (490 ZIP and 232 executive) were tracked across 16 states.

He noted that the constituency tracking project of the agency compelled 59 contractors to return to sites, adding that the individuals handling the projects worth N2.25billion had abandoned the projects before the ICPC’s intervention.

President Muhammadu Buhari said his regime would not relent in its efforts to eradicate corruption in the country.

He reiterated his position that if corruption was not eradicated, the menace would kill the country.

Buhari spoke at the second national summit of the ICPC and the inauguration of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy to mark the commission’s 20th and Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversaries.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has dissociated itself from reports that N2.67billion meant for the feeding of schoolchildren during the lockdown was diverted to private accounts.

In a statement issued on Monday night by the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister, Nneka Anibeze, stated that the statement by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission on the said funds was twisted and misinterpreted.

“The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development hereby informs the public that the Federal Government colleges school feeding in question is different from the Home Grown School Feeding which is one of its Social Investment Programmes,” it said in the statement.

It stated that the school feeding under scrutiny was the feeding of students in Federal Government colleges across the country.

“It is not under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs which only oversees Home Grown School Feeding for children in Primaries one to three in select public schools across the country,” the ministry argued.

It added, “The ministry or the minister does not even handle or disburse funds for Home Grown School Feeding. The money for funding the programme neither passes through the minister nor the ministry.”

It explained that the over N2.5billion which was reportedly misappropriated by a senior civil servant took place in a different ministry and not the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

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PIB: Minister Clears Air On Alleged Scrapping Of NNPC

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The Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, has dismissed media reports that the new draft Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) sent to the National Assembly recommended scrapping of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Sylva allayed the fears while fielding questions from journalists at the National Assembly, on Monday, after an interactive session with the leadership of the National Assembly.

The minister, however, clarified that the new PIB draft sought to commercialise and not to scrap the NNPC.

“We’ve heard so much noise about NNPC being scrapped, but that is not being envisaged by the bill at all.

“NNPC will not be scrapped but commercialised in line with deregulation moves being made across all the streams in the sector comprising upstream, downstream and midstream.

“We have said that NNPC will be commercialised.

“But if you are talking about transforming the industry, the only new thing that we are introducing is the development of the midstream, which is the pipeline sector.

“So, we have provided robustly for the growth of the midstream sector.

“Through commercialisation, the required competitiveness in the sector will be achieved,” he said.

Sylva said that the host communities would also have the best deal from the bill.

According to him, via the PIB, the industry will be transformed, and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) will not exist in the same form that they exist currently.

“But I do not want to go into the details of the bill until it is read on the floor of the Senate,” he said.

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