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Kagara: We Won’t Pay Ransom To Secure Release Of Abductees, FG Insists

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The Federal Government has insisted that it would not pay any ransom to secure the release of abductees at Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this while speaking on a radio programme, yesterday.

He said insinuations in some quarters that the government had paid ransom to secure the release of the abductees were wrong, saying government would not do anything that would reward any act against the law.

Mohammed also denied that the government paid ransom to secure the release of over 300 children abducted by bandits in Kankara, Katsina State, recently.

“It is a lie, we did not pay any ransom to secure the release of school children in Kankara, and we have not paid a dime to secure the release of students of Kagara and others abducted by bandits.

“We will not pay because that is not the way to go. Other options to get the abductees released are on the table, but giving money to get them is a no,” he said.

Mohammed assured Nigerians that the government would do what was right to get the abductees and others in captivity released soon.

On whether it was right for some Nigerians to visit bandits and engage them on the need to embrace peace, the minister said there was nothing wrong with that.

He said so long as the intention was right and the ultimate objective was peace, the government was not opposed to anything that would promote peace in the country.

“After war, people still sit to dialogue. So, if some people have taken it upon themselves to visit these people so that they can embrace peace, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that,” he said.

He said the government was working assiduously to address all the security challenges in the country such as insurgency and banditry.

The minister said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had recorded remarkable successes against insurgency as it had worked to limit the activities of terrorists.

Mohammed said there was a time in Nigeria that terrorists were bombing places in different parts of the country, pointing out that the near absence of such occurrence now showed the government had made progress.

On the herders/farmers clashes in some parts of the country, the minister said the government was taking assured steps to address the problem.

One of the steps, according to the minister, is the government‘s plan to encourage intensive rearing of cattle so as to ensure that cattle rearing and crop farming don’t conflict in the country.

Mohammed urged Nigerians to see farmer/herders clashes as what it was and not portray it as attempt by one ethnic group to dominate or annihilate the other.

The minister said the government was committed to peaceful co-existence, and urged Nigerians to support the Federal Government in ensuring peace in the country.

On Covid-19, Mohammed urged Nigerians to continue to take precautions while the government was doing its part to contain the spread of the pandemic.

The minister said arrangements had been concluded to get millions of vaccine doses to protect citizens against the virus.

“Yes, we are doing our best. By the end of the month, we are expecting 16 million AstraZeneca vaccines, out of the 41 million doses promised by WHO under the CAVAX arrangement.

“On our own, we have paid for 43 million vaccines doses including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. So, that will arrive later. So, we are doing our best.

“I want to urge Nigerians to avail themselves of the vaccines when they arrive. All the negative and untrue things that people say about the vaccines will not help,” he said

 

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Gov Uncovers 3,900 Ghost IDPs In Borno Camp

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The Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Umara Zulum has fished out fake internally displaced persons (IDPs) at a IDPs camp in Maiduguri during a surprise visit to the camp.

Around midnight, yesterday, Zulum showed up at Mohammed Goni College of Islamic and Legal Studies in Maiduguri, where internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Abadam Local Government Area of northern Borno were being camped.

Zulum immediately sealed the entrance and supervised a headcount to identify actual IDPs, in order to put a stop to rampant cases of dubious residents pretending to be displaced, who spend day time at IDP camps to share food meant for IDPs, and towards the night, they return to their homes to sleep, with some of benefiting from other means through which the state distributes food to vulnerable non-IDPs in communities.

The governor’s mission, which ended past 1am, discovered that out of 1,000 households in the records of humanitarian officials, 650 households comprising 3,900 IDPs were ghosts.

No fewer than 450 households were found to be real IDPs after Zulum’s midnight headcount which was conducted by the governor alongside an official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Air Commodore M. T. Abdullahi, and two commissioners (Agriculture, and Local Government and Emirate Affairs).

In humanitarian system, a household normally consist of at least six persons who are either related through families, or chosen to stay together for the purpose of receiving household aids.

Officials, who were part of the midnight headcount, said Zulum was not averse to approving support for any citizen who may be vulnerably in need of food since there is a committee doing that.

The governor also expressed opposition to some residents making dubious claims in other to take what is meant for IDPs while also benefiting from other existing welfare activities that target non IDPs

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Troops Chase Boko Haram Fighters Out Of Borno Town

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Soldiers, yesterday, prevented Boko Haram fighters from mounting a barricade on Damaturu-Maiduguri highway in Borno State.

The soldiers reportedly engaged the insurgents in a gun battle around Mainok and Jakana towns.

A commercial driver said that the incident happened shortly after the usual daily road closure was eased in the morning.

Troops usually close the road in the evening and open it at 7am, every day.

The driver said suspected insurgents who were about to mount road barricades and attack travellers were overpowered and driven away by soldiers.

“We were on our way to Maiduguri after spending the night in Damaturu when we were stopped by soldiers at a place after Mainok.

“We were earlier asked to turn back and later we were told to stay there. Shots were later fired ahead of us, which sounded like gunfire exchange. We were asked to proceed after about thirty five minutes,” he said.

He said extra patrols were stationed along the road.

Boko Haram has made life a hell for those who ply that route.

It was on the route that a newlywed bride was abducted last week but she was freed 24 hours after.

Before decorating the new service chiefs, last Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari gave them a few weeks to tackle the widespread insecurity in the country.

 

 

 

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Suspend 25% Contribution To Federation Account, FAAN Begs FG

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has called for the stoppage of its 25 per cent revenue contribution to the Federation Account.

FAAN said this would help it to address some infrastructure gaps.

The General Manager, FAAN, Mr Rabiu Yadudu, made the appeal during an oversight visit of the Senate Committee on Aviation at the Lagos Airport, yesterday.

Yadudu decried accumulated airlines debt to aviation agencies, particularly FAAN, adding that a particular airline owed N13billion for services rendered and unpaid.

Yadudu noted that one way to ensure development in the industry was to allow revenue generated by agencies in the sector to be ploughed back.

The managing director said that the practice was obtainable across the globe and was also part of the international standard and recommended practice.

“The industry still has an infrastructure gap to stabilise; therefore, government’s support in stabilising the industry is needed.

“This can be achieved by suspending the contributions to the Federation Account in compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) Doc 9562.

“This document on airport generation provides that revenue generated by the airport should be transparently re-invested wholly in operating and developing airport facilities,” he said.

Yadudu said revenue generation was low as only two airports – the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) mainly sustained other airports expenditures.

He also highlighted the global economic challenge, both national and international, which had affected airline operators, causing them to reduce fleet, frequencies or withdraw operations, thus affecting the agency’s revenue generation.

Yadudu lamented the rising operating and maintenance cost of the new terminals and existing ones due to inflation and the devaluation of the naira.

However, the managing director said the agency was tweaking its plans to make other airports that were not breaking even to perform.

He also said the airport management had embarked on aggressive debt recovery, while introducing a Pay As You Go system, adding that it had also commenced a cashless policy among other loophole blockage areas.

Responding, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, said the idea was commendable, noting that the issue was constitutional and would require a constitutional review to achieve.

Adeyemi stressed the need for rehabilitation of airports.

“There are quite a lot of airports in the country that we need to start looking at budget inclusion for next year, not this year.

“We will not wait till there is a mishap before we start looking at fixing the runways which are in bad shape, a number of them since they were constructed have not been touched, and at times when you land in some of these airports, you don’t need to be a pilot to know that the plane will not maintain a balance,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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