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Rice Importation Scam: EFCC To Arraign Customs Chiefs

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Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to arraign, this week, Nigeria Customs’ Chiefs who have been fingered in the N3 billion rice importation scam by the Vaswani brothers.

Former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Ahmed Bello, and two other comptrollers, Hanatu Sulaiman, and Olufemi Taylor, have been mentioned in the scam.

A reliable source told newsmen that the commission has concluded its investigation and charges prepared to nail the customs officers.

EFCC chairman, Farida Waziri, had recently confirmed that the commission was hard on the case and that it would not delay in prosecuting those found liable as soon as investigation was concluded.

In her words, “every one of them found liable will be prosecuted as anyone who breaches the law will face the music. No one is above the law.”

The EFCC boss had maintained that the investigation took a long time because the case was a very complicated one.

According to her, the Vaswani Brothers own a conglomerate which the commission has to investigate in the case.

She added that the EFCC has discovered in the course of the investigation that the Stallion Group of Companies owned by the brothers did not only dodge import duty, but also evaded tax.

It would be recalled that the EFCC arrested Suleiman and Taylor in March for allegedly conspiring with the Stallion Group to defraud the Federal Government of N3 billion in import duty from the importation of rice.

The two comptrollers had mentioned the former CG, Bello, for allegedly ordering the release of the rice to the Vaswani brothers after the customs service had seized the consignment and given the importer a bill of N3 billion.

The ex-custom boss was also quizzed by the EFCC in March over his role in the release of the consignment without duty.

Chairman, Board of Directors, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Chief Ebitimi Banigo (left), Regional Manager, Port Harcourt Airport, Omagwa, Mr. Uche Nwanguma (centre) and the Head of FAAN secuirty, Mr. S.O. Odugbemi during the visit of the board to the airport, recently. Photo: Ike Wigodo

Chairman, Board of Directors, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Chief Ebitimi Banigo (left), Regional Manager, Port Harcourt Airport, Omagwa, Mr. Uche Nwanguma (centre) and the Head of FAAN secuirty, Mr. S.O. Odugbemi during the visit of the board to the airport, recently. Photo: Ike Wigodo

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2023: PWDs Seek Inclusion In Election Processes 

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As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the International Day of Persons With Disabilities (IDPD), Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) have tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other electoral stakeholders on accessibility of polling booths and election materials
The PWDs also urged the INEC to ensure that the over 30 million PWDs are not disenfranchised in the 2023 general elections.
The disabilities community also called on presidential and governorship candidates to come up with tangible roadmap of policies and programmes that will alleviate their sufferings in the country..
They spoke separately with journalists on the  IDPD, a day set aside by the United Nations (UN) to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities.
The theme for this year’s IDPD is ‘Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: The Role of innovation in Fuelling An Accessible and Equitable World,’ with focus on the overarching theme of innovation and transformative solutions for inclusive development, covering three different interactive dialogues.
The first dialogue is innovation for disability inclusive development in employment, discussing the linkages between employment, knowledge and skills required to access employment in an innovative, rapidly changing technological world.
Another dialogue was the innovation for disability inclusive development in reducing inequality, focusing on innovations, practical tools and good practices to reduce inequalities in both public and private sectors.
The third dialique was the innovation for disability inclusive development with sport as an  case, a sector where all of these aexemplarspects coalesce.
Explaining the importance of the day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it is important for governments and all of society to include PWDs in decision-making about their health and lives.
“WHO calls for more inclusion in the health sector and society, in line with the newly adopted ‘WHO framework for action to achieve the highest attainable standard of health for persons with disabilities 2022–2030’.

“The framework is an ambitious strategy that calls on countries to ensure that people with disabilities can access the care they need, and outline ways for countries to build inclusive and enabling health systems and environments.”

The Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), David Anyaele, said issues that deal with PWDs ahead of the general elections give them cause for worries, as the campaigns of the leading presidential candidates are low on welfare for them.

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Flooding: 600 Persons Died, 1.3m Dsplaced-UNICEF

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said about 600 persons died and 1.3 million were rendered homeless as a result of the floods that ravaged most states across the country.
Chief of UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, Juliet Chiluwe, stated this on Saturday, during an official handover of supplies for Anambra State Flood Response from UNICEF to Anambra State Government.
Chiluwe said the figure was obtained according to available data it received from government.
During the visit by the UNICEF, the first set of supplies of 100 drums of chlorine for disinfection of water sources, 40 cartons of Aquatabs for household water treatment and 320 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic food were handed over to the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, who was represented by his deputy, Onyekachukwu Ibezim.
In her address, Chiluwe said, “We bring you greetings from UNICEF, Nigeria and sympathise with the government and people of Anambra State on the recently encountered flooding experience, especially with the women and children who remained vulnerable during these times.
“We acknowledged that since September 2022, the worst floods in a decade affected 2.8 million people, of which an estimated 60 per cent are children, across 34 of the 36 states in Nigeria. Of those affected, 1.3 million people have been displaced, and over 600 people have died in relation to flooding according to government data.
“Continuous heavy rains have collapsed hundreds of public health facilities, water systems and sanitation facilities, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases, such as cholera, diarrhoea, and malaria.
“To contribute to the effort of government and other development partners, UNICEF, with funding from the  Central Emergency Response Fund, has initiated a multisectoral response comprising Health, Child Protection and WASH sectors, to mitigate the impact of the floods support the early recovery-phase of the affected population in Anambra State.
“For child protection, the response will focus on protection concerns in three key areas: the provision of psychosocial support for flood-affected children; the prevention of family separation and the reunification of separated and unaccompanied children, as well as the strengthening of community-based protection systems.”
She added that as part of the response, UNICEF would make available, essential medicines and health supplies, sexual reproductive kit, chlorine for disinfection of water sources in health centres, schools and communities.
In his response,  governor Soludo assured UNICEF of continuous collaborations, adding that the state government was working out modalities to mitigate the effect of the flood on victims as well as put proactive measures to checkmate such emergencies in the future.
He commended UNICEF’s interventions in the state, especially as it concerned women and children.

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Minister Tasks Examination Agencies On  ICT, Others Against Malpractice

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Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, has called on examination and assessment agencies in the country to adopt the use of ICT as best method to prevent malpractices and build a multi-dimensional approach to address the menace.
Adamu made the call at the opening of a One-Day National Sensitisation Workshop, tagged: ‘Role of Education Stakeholders in Tackling Examination Malpractice’, organised by National Examination Council (NECO), in conjunction with the National Assembly, held at Marriott Hotel,  Ikeja, Lagos.
Represented by the Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Adamu noted that malpractice was a major problem affecting examinations, not only in Nigeria but also in other countries.
“This is a threat, and many of us are directly or indirectly involved in exam malpractices. We must be creative in adopting strategies and putting in measures to fight and stand against malpractice,” he said.
Adamu stated that the Federal Ministry of Education would continue to ensure a high standard of education to reduce malpractices.
NECO Registrar, Ibrahim Wushishi, said it waa time to reorient youths, community leaders, parents and teachers concerning the issue.
“No doubt, examination malpractice has the tendency to discourage hard work among serious students, lower education standards and discredit certificates. We have a collective responsibility to stop this bad habit.”
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Education (Basic/Secondary), Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, stressed the need for stakeholders to work together to boost the education sector.
He also expressed disappointment that children no longer fear to indulge in examination malpractice because sanctions are lacking.

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