Freed Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi has boarded a plane waiting at Glasgow Airport to take him home to Libya.
Al-Megrahi walked slowly up the steps of the Airbus operated by Libyan airline Afriqiyah. He was convicted in 2001 of taking part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988 that killed 270 people.
Scottish officials said yesterday they were freeing him on compassionate grounds. Al-Megrahi has terminal prostate cancer and has been given less than three months to live.
The U.S. opposed the release and families of some Lockerbie victims reacted angrily to the decision.
The White House said it “deeply regrets” the Scottish decision, and U.S. family members immediately expressed outrage.
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who had served only eight years of his life sentence, was recently given only months to live after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said although al-Megrahi had not shown compassion to his victims — many of whom were American college students flying home to New York for Christmas — MacAskill was motivated by Scottish values to show mercy.
“Some hurts can never heal, some scars can never fade,” MacAskill said. “Those who have been bereaved cannot be expected to forget, let alone forgive … However, Mr. al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power.”
Al-Megrahi, 57, was convicted in 2001 of taking part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988. He was sentenced to life in prison. The airliner exploded over Scotland, and all 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground died when it crashed into the town of Lockerbie.
The former Libyan intelligence officer was sentenced to serve a minimum of 27 years in a Scottish prison for Britain’s deadliest terrorist attack. But a 2007 review of his case found grounds for an appeal of his conviction, and many in Britain believe he is innocent.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday the United States disagreed with the decision to free al-Megrahi.
“We continue to believe that Megrahi should serve out his sentence in Scotland,” Gibbs said. “On this day, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families who live every day with the loss of their loved ones.”
MacAskill said he stood by al-Megrahi’s conviction and the sentence for “the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed on U.K. soil.”
LASG Begins Vehicle Parking Lanes Demacation
The Lagos State Parking Authority (LASPA) has revealed it will today commence creating additional Vehicle Parking Lanes in some selected locations across the State.
The Authority stated that all efforts have been geared towards improving the parking system of the State.
Speaking on the planned initiative on Friday in Ikeja, the General Manager of LASPA, Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, stated that the vehicle parking lane mark exercise, which will begin with designated streets within Surulere, Ikoyi, Lekki, Obalende, Ikeja and Victoria Island axis of the State, is a step towards improving street parking from 2023.
Adelabu noted that the Parking Lane Markings will further guide motorists and pedestrians on appropriate parking regulations and spaces, minimise indiscriminate parking, confusion and uncertainty, while conveying a range of information to residents on parking procedures within each specified environment.
According to her, the lane markings will also include special consideration for people living with disabilities and signposts for parking directives, among other features.
The General Manager, however, solicited the understanding of residents within the locations who might be affected by any inconvenience the process might cause, assuring that the government is working rigorously in regulating and improving the parking culture as part of its Traffic Management and Transportation Agenda to ensure parking is convenient, safe and secure across the state.
Recall that the Authority had recently unveiled plans to begin full implementation of parking policy in the second quarter of 2023 and has continued to sensitise the public on the need to embrace the parking culture.
By; Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
NIMASA Builds Maritime Institutes, Skill Acquisition Centres In Zones
Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, has revealed that the agency is embarking on building six skill acquisition centres, and maritime institutes in each geopolitical zone of the country.
He disclosed this while receiving the Minister of Transportation, Dr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, and the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr. Kitack Lim, during the commissioning of the new NIMASA head office in Victoria Island recently.
The NIMASA boss said the agency has already started building of ten of its offices in various states of the country, saying that 2022 is dedicated for projects.
“We dedicated 2022 as projects year and we have more than ten projects ongoing now, but we expect that before the end of this administration, we will commission them.
“Parts of the projects have something to do with human elements.
“We have six skill acquisition centres all over Nigeria, one per political zone, and we have six maritime institute projects. Each geopolitical zone has a university with maritime institute, just to build maritime assets,’’ he said.
He thanked the Minister for always being there, and also expressed appreciatiin to the IMO Secretary General for his visit to Nigeria, noting that he is the second IMO Secretary General to visit Nigeria, with the last visit having taken place 15 years ago.
“I am particularly delighted that he is commissioning this building today. He promised to come and has kept his promise”, he added.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
FG Borrows N24trn From CBN Amid Fiscal Risks
Federal Government of Nigeria has borrowed N6.31trillion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through Ways and Means Advances in 10 months.
This amount has increased the total amount the Federal Government got from the CBN from N17.46trillion in December 2021 to N23.77trillion in October 2022.
It does not include the N23.77trillion the Federal Government is already owing CBN that is part of the country’s total public debt stock, which stood at N42.84trillion as at June 2022, according to the Debt Management Office.
The public debt stock only includes the debts of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the 36 state governments, and the Federal Capital Territory.
Ways and Means Advances is a loan facility through which the CBN finances the shortfalls in the government’s budget.
Section 38 of the CBN Act, 2007, states that the CBN may grant temporary advances to the Federal Government with regard to temporary deficiency of budget revenue at such rate of interest as the bank may determine.
The Act read in part, “The total amount of such advances outstanding shall not at any time exceed five per cent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the Federal Government.
“All advances shall be repaid as soon as possible and shall, in any event, be repayable by the end of the Federal Government financial year in which they are granted and if such advances remain unpaid at the end of the year, the power of the bank to grant such further advances in any subsequent year shall not be exercisable, unless the outstanding advances have been repaid.”
The CBN, however, said on its website that the Federal Government’s borrowing from it through the Ways and Means Advances could have adverse effects on the bank’s monetary policy to the detriment of domestic prices and exchange rates.
“The direct consequence of central bank’s financing of deficits are distortions or surges in the monetary base leading to adverse effects on domestic prices and exchange rates i.e macroeconomic instability because of excess liquidity that has been injected into the economy,” it said.
The apex bank had last November warned the Federal Government against financing deficits by borrowing from the CBN through the Ways and Means Advances, saying this putd fiscal pressures on the country’s expenditures.
Despite warnings from experts and organisations, the Federal Government has kept borrowing from the CBN to fund budget deficits.
The Tide source noted that the Federal Government paid an interest of N2.03trillion from January 2020 to November 2021 on the loans it got from the CBN through the Ways and Means Advances.
It was also reported that the Federal Government paid an interest of N405.93billion from January 2022 to April 2022 on the loans it got from the CBN.
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr Johnson Chukwu, recently said the Central Bank’s lending to the government was putting pressure on the exchange rate and the inflation rate, with “liquidity that has no productivity attached to it coming into the system.”
An economist, Dr Aliyu Ilias, criticised the government for its constant reliance on borrowing, which was unhealthy for the economy.
He further urged the government to seek better ways of generating revenue rather than persistently borrowing from the apex bank.
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