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1,000 Detained Pilgrims: Nigeria Tackles Saudi …As 24 Hour Ultimatum Expires



President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the constitution of
a presidential delegation to interface with the Saudi authorities over the
detention of Nigerian female pilgrims at King Abdul-Azziz International
Airport, Jeddah

The approval is contained in a statement signed by Secretary
to the Government of the Federation, Senator
Anyim Pius Anyim,.

The statement listed members of the delegation to include
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who would lead the
team, Minister of State 11, Foreign Affairs, Dr Nurudeen Mohammed.

Other members are Ambassador Shehu Galadanchi, Sheikh Sherif
Saleh and Muhammad Bello, Chairman of the National Hajj Commission.

The delegation will depart for Saudi Arabia as soon as
appointment is finalised with the appropriate authority.

It would be recalled that the House of Representatives, on
Wednesday, urged President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene in the plight of
stranded 1,000 Nigerian female pilgrims now in detention in Jeddah, Saudi

The Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep.
Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje (PDP-Abia) made the call at a meeting with officials of the
Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Hajj Commission of Nigeria

She said that a mechanism should be put in place to ensure
that those in detention were either allowed to move into Saudi Arabia to
perform the pilgrimage or brought back to stop their being subjected to further

“Our preferred option will be to get them into the holy land
to perform the pilgrimage but if this does not work we have to bring our people

“We are very concerned, we thought we have settled with
issues of deportation.

“This is the first time this is happening in this magnitude.
So, for us it is a very grave issue bearing in mind that over 95,000 Nigerians
are expected to be in Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage.

In his submission, Mr Martin Uhumoibhi, the Permanent
Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Nigerian Consulate in
Jeddah was acting accordingly to ameliorate the condition of the detained

He said the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II, Dr
Nurudeen Mohammed, also met with the Saudi officials and got assurance that all
would be well.

The Chairman, NAHCON, Malam Mohammad Bello,  said the commission thought the issue was
something that could be resolved within 24 hours.

It seems there is a disconnect between Nigeria and Saudi
officials. It is beyond the Hajj commission.

He said that the commission had airlifted 24,886 pilgrims to
Saudi Arabia before the problems started, and wondered why the Saudi government
has not replied to any of the letters the commission wrote to them.

The Federal Government had Wednesday in Abuja given the
Saudi Arabia government 24 hours to expedite action in resolving the issues
surrounding the detention of some Nigerian female pilgrims.

Vice President Namadi Sambo gave the ultimatum which expired
yesterday, when he summoned the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Khaled
Abdrabuh, to his office.

Our correspondent reports that the  Nigerian female pilgrims in Saudi Arabia
adjudged by the authority to be without male companion (Muharram) have been
detained in Jeddah and Madinah.

Sambo had expressed the country’s displeasure over the
treatment being meted out to Nigerian pilgrims performing this year’s
pilgrimage in the holy land.

He said reports available to him suggested that only
Nigerian pilgrims were being subjected to such dehumanising treatment.

Sambo, therefore, requested the Saudi Arabian authorities to
apply caution and flexibility to allow the pilgrims undertake their sacred
religious duties.

“Should the Saudi authorities not desire our pilgrims to
perform this year’s Hajj, they should let the country know.”

He said that no reasonable and responsible government would
sit and fold its arms while its citizens are manhandled.

The vice president, therefore, requested the Ambassador to
do all within his powers to ensure that the issues were resolved within 24
hours, and the outcome communicated to him.

In a mixed reactions from across the states trail the plight
of the Nigerian female Muslim pilgrims who were denied entry into Saudi Arabia
by its authorities because they were not accompanied by their male guardians.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in Abuja confirmed
the repatriation of some female pilgrims to the country while flights were
suspended for 48 hours to resolve the matter with Saudi Authorities.

At least, 102 female intending pilgrims from Sokoto State
were brought back to the country in the early hours of Thursday from Saudi

Our correspondent
reports that the pilgrims were transported back to Sokoto aboard a Max
Air aircraft.

The Manager of the Sultan Abubakar III International
Airport, Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Lawal, told newsmen yesterday in Sokoto that
the deported pilgrims had since travelled to their respective local government

He said that the affected pilgrims were hale and hearty.

All efforts to get the Chairman of the State Pilgrims’
Welfare Agency, Alhaji Muntari Maigona or its Public Relations Officer, Faruk
Umar, proved abortive.

In Jalingo, Taraba State capital, no fewer than 62 female
pilgrims were brought back to Nigeria.

The Chairman of the Taraba Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board,
Alhaji Hamman-Adama Tukur, explained that the women were transported from the
King Abdulazeez International Airport, Jeddah, to Aminu Kano International
Airport, Kano.

He said that the women were actually accompanied but that
the checking system at the Jeddah Airport was such that men were checked,
cleared and asked to proceed.

“When it was the turn of the women to be checked and
cleared, the Security claimed they were not accompanied by their guardians
(Mahram) and were unwilling to listen to any explanation and went ahead to
detained them.”

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NDLEA Arrests 2 Members Of Afro-Europe Cartel



The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has disrupted the activities of a drug syndicate that operated between Nigeria, East Africa, and Europe, with the arrest of two members of the cartel.
The Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA, Mr Femi Babafemi said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
Babafemi said that the NDLEA operatives at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, (MMIA) Ikeja Lagos made the arrest and foiled the attempts to traffic the drugs.
He said that the operatives at the Lagos Airport had on Monday March 13 intercepted a member of the drug syndicate, Ejezie Ifeanyi, during screening of inward passengers on an Ethiopian Airline flight from Malawi via Addis Ababa at the arrival hall.
Babafemi added that a search was conducted on him, saying that it was discovered that one of his two bags had a false bottom concealment.
He said: “During preliminary interview of the suspect, he confessed that a member of the syndicate was waiting at the airport car park to pick him.
According to him, an immediate follow up operation led to the arrest of Franco Chukwu, who was waiting in a grey colour Mercedes Benz C180 coupe, marked EKY 973 GQ to receive the drug consignment.
“After his arrest, a proper search of the bag was conducted before the two suspects leading to the recovery of 3.00 kilograms of heroin.
“Findings revealed that the drug syndicate networks operate between Nigeria, and Malawi, Mozambique in East Africa and Europe.
“Chukwu who lives in Lagos is responsible for the recruitment and coordination of the activities of mules on behalf of other members of the cartel based in Mozambique and Malawi, another set operates from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, “ Babafemi said.

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Sanwo-Olu, Makinde, Buni, Abiodun, AbdulRazaq Win Second Term Election …As INEC Declares PDP’s Eno Governor-Elect in A’Ibom



The Governor of Lagos State and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has won 18 local government areas out of the 20 LGAs of the state in the just concluded governorship and state House of Assembly elections.
The results were announced on Sunday by the Independent National Electoral Commission at its state collation centre in Yaba, Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu who is seeking re-election is contesting against the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olajide Adediran popularly known as Jandor, and the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.
The incumbent governor polled the highest number of votes in Lagos Island, Epe, Agege, Ibeju-lekki, Surulere, Ikeja, Mushin, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Apapa, Ifako-Ijaiye, Badagry and Lagos Mainland.
Other LGAs where Sanwo-Olu won include Alimosho, Ojo, Ikorodu, Kosofe and Oshodi-Isolo.
However, his opponent, Rhodes-Vivour, defeated the ruling party in Amuwo-Odofin.
The only result left is from Eti-Osa LGA which is yet to be released due to the election currently being held at the Victoria Garden City polling units.
Also, the Oyo State Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Seyi Makinde, has been declared winner of Saturday’s gubernatorial election in the State.
Makinde won 31 out of 33 Local Government Areas in the state, while his closest rival, Teslim Folarin of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won two local government areas.
Makinde, who was seeking re-election contested against a three-term Senator, Teslim Folarin of the APC and Adebayo Adelabu of the Accord Party, who was former deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Makinde polled 563,617 votes to defeat Folarin who garnered 251,230, and Adelabu who came a distant third with 38,757 votes.
The returning officer for the governorship election and a professor from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Olusola Kehinde, however, declared a 20-minute break before the declaration of the final result.
The announcement of the results was monitored by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Tella Adeniran, alongside heads of security apparatus in the state.
Meanwhile, the Ogun State Governor and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Saturday’s election, Dapo Abiodun, has been re-elected for a second term of four years.
The Independent National Electoral Commission declared Abiodun as the winner of the governorship election on yesterday.
Meanwhile, before Abiodun was announced as the winner of the poll, PDP collation agent, Sunkanmi Oyejide, cautioned the electoral umpire declaring the winner for the election.
Oyejide said the INEC should consider a clause in the Electoral Act (amended) that orders the commission to declare a rerun in the case of total rejected votes outnumbered the lead margin.
This was raised shortly after the Sagamu collation officer, Prof. Oluwagboyega Afolabi, presented the scores of the political parties in the council.
Afolabi had said that 15 polling units were canceled as a result of violence during the governorship election on Saturday.
The PDP agent, however, raised an observation against further submission of the copy of the results.
Oyejide said no fewer than 33,750 voters in Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode, Ikenne, Ijebu-North and Ogunwaterside were asking the commission to look into it.
He added that his party has a petition for the commission.
While raising the objection, Oyejide said, “The electoral act 2022, Section 24 Sub-Section three says where an election has commenced and there is reason to believe that there is or has been substantial destruction of election in a polling unit or constituency or it is impossible to continue with the election, occasioned by the threat to peace and security of electoral officials and materials.
“Electoral officials and materials should be underlined in the case of Remo where BVAS did not function and I argued it out. The commission shall suspend the election and appoint another date for the continuation of the election or the process.
“Secondly, if we invoke the principle of lead of margin enshrine in the electoral act 2022, the rejected votes according to results submitted to local government by local government are far higher than the lead of margin.
“This just to inform you when you are through with your final collation and what happened is found to be true that you will know that the election shall be inconclusive and a rerun should be ordered where necessary”.
The petition titled “Petition against deliberate disenfranchisement of a large number of voters in some local governments of Ogun state” dated March 18, 2023, was addressed to INEC National Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu.
The petition reads “We write to remind your authority of the above-mentioned issue.
“You will recall that the Commission is aware of the level of thuggery planned and orchestrated by the All Progressive Congress to unleash mayhem in some polling units across the state to destabilise innocent voters from freely exercising their voting rights as a result of planned and well-executed action.
“We are aware that the principle of margin of lead as established by the Commission in Section 24(3) is in effect, affected by the inability of the population greater than the reflected lead between the assumed winner of the election and the runner-up. Therefore, a re-run in appropriate to address this injustice.
“We, therefore, implore the Commission to evoke this principle and declare this election inconclusive.”
Reacting to the protest, the returning officer, Prof. Kayode Adebowale, said the complaints have already been looked into.
Adebowale said, “I have tried to check our records and I want to say that everything he said is at variance with what we have as records.
“But, if it is found to be incorrect, INEC has seven days to review its decision.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also declared Mr. Umo Eno of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the governorship election held last Saturday in Akwa Ibom State.
The Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor, Nigerian Maritime University, Delta State, Prof. Emmanuel Adigio, announced the results at the collation centre in Uyo yesterday.
Adigio said Eno won in 29 out of 31 local government areas of the state to defeat Senator Bassey Akpan of the Young Progressive Party (YPP).
He said that the PDP candidate scored 354,348 votes, beating his closet rival, Akpan who got 136,262 votes.
He also said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) scored 129,602 votes, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) garnered 12,509 votes, while the Labour Party (LP) scored 4,746 votes.
The Returning Officer declared: “That the Pastor Umo Eno of the PDP having satisfied the requirements of the law is hereby declared winner of the governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.”
The PDP candidate won in 29 out of 31 local government areas of the state while his opponent in the YPP, Senator Bassey Akpan, won in only two LGAs.
The local government areas won by the PDP candidate include Udung Uko, Uruan, Ini, Esit Eket, Ikot Abasi, Ikot Ekpene, Etim Ekpo and 22 others while his YPP opponent won in Ikono and Ibiono Ibom LGAs respectively.
The PDP agent, Engr. Uwem Okoko, while commending the INEC for the improvement witnessed in the Saturday polls, also thanked Akwa Ibom people for voting for PDP in the state.
However, the YPP party agent, Mr kelvin Umoh rejected the results, alleging widespread violence, and intimidation that led to the alleged killing of his party supporters.
Umoh said, “It will be wrong for me to append my signature to the results sheets because there was widespread violence and intimidation.
In the same vein, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State has been declared the winner of the 2023 governorship election in the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).T
The governor won the poll to serve a second term of another four years in office under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).T
The governor beat the two-third requirement and won in all the 16 local government areas of the state in the election results declared by the INEC Returning Officer for the polls, Professor Isaac Itodo, theV ice Chancellor, University of Markurdi, Benue State.
Abdulrazaq polled 273,424 votes to beat his closest rival, Alhaji Yaman Abdullahi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 155,490 votes in the election.
The INEC had on Saturday night started the announcement of the 2023 governorship election results in the State with only three local government areas of Ekiti, Isin and Offa, with Governor AbdulRazaq winning the three LGAs.
At the resumed announcement of the election results yesterday morning, which lasted till evening, the APC governor also won in additional 13 local government areas.
Meanwhile, the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, has been re-elected having won in all the 17 local government areas of the state with a total of 317,113 votes.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Sharif Abdulahi, came a distant second with a total score of 104,259.
Announcing the results, at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Damaturu, the Returning Officer for the Gubernatorial election in the state, Prof. Umar Pate, the VC of the Federal University of Kashere, Gombe state, said accredited voters are 459,492, valid votes 444,567 and total votes cast are 457,781.

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UK Budgets £10m For Energy Solution In Sub-Saharan Africa



The United Kingdom has earmarked 10 million pounds grant for innovators in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, and South Africa to address the energy situation .
Mr Joshua Adedeji, Knowledge Transfer Manager for the Innovate UK Nigeria, said this in statement at the end of an Energy Catalyst meeting in Abuja.
According to Adedeji, the initiative is UK’s Energy Catalyst programme designed to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
He said the initiative was one of UK’s biggest energy access focused grant funding initiatives.
Adedeji added that the objective of the programme was to look out for innovations that could end energy poverty in benefiting countries.
‘One thing we do with this programme is to ensure that organisations are able to bring in their ideas, their solutions and utilize the fund that is available.
“It is a 10 million pounds fund that people can apply for. The fund is open till June this year.
“The mission of the energy catalysts is to accelerate the intervention needed to meet SDG 7 by providing financial and advisory support to innovators.
“To qualify for the grants, innovators must look for partners from the UK and present their proposals, stressing that the project must address transforming energy access and clean energy,”he said
According to Adedeji , transforming energy access is to speed up access to affordable, clean energy services for poor households, enterprises and social institutions in official development assistance (ODA) eligible countries.
He added: ‘’We are particularly keen to receive projects which focus on the Indo-Pacific region, It must support the development, testing or scale up of innovative technologies or business models.
“A clear social or economic benefit in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or the Indo-Pacific Region is required.
“Creating new energy access in underserved regions improving existing access to provide a more reliable service’’.
The President of the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria Mr Ayo Ademilua, said the intervention would boost clean energy access in the country.
Ademilua said the association would mobilise its members across the country and connect them with partners in the UK to benefit from the grant.

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