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Foreign Exchange Traders Resume Business After Protest

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Normalcy has returned to the foreign exchange market along the Hotel Presidential, Aba/Port Harcourt expressway, Port Harcourt, following the protest staged on Tuesday by the foreign exchange traders over the death of their colleague, Yusuf Lada.
Lada was allegedly killed by the personnel of the Rivers State Task force on Illegal Street Trading, Motor Parks and Mechanics.
Speaking to The Tide yesterday, the spokesman of the traders, Jubril Isa, said the road was blocked on Tuesday to protest against the alleged killing of their member by the personnel of the state task force.
He accused members of the task force of regularly extorting money from them.
He said, “we protested because of our Muslim brother, we can no longer allow members of the task force to be extorting money from us. Sometimes, they will come and arrest about 12 of our members and ask them to pay N120,000 each for their release.
“In about two weeks they will come again and arrest sometimes about 22 persons and ask them to pay N8,000 each to be released. Some of them may not have the money. The late man was whisked away and was brought back after 30 minutes and in about 15 minutes, he fainted and died.”
Reacting to the allegation, the chairman of the task force, Hon. Bright Amaewhule, explained that “the traders use the bus stop stand at Presidential Hotel as a restaurant, a kind of “mama put” to transact illegal trading business. The zonal team leader of that area went there and arrested some people, and took them to court. The policemen found out that the man was not in a stable condition, so they allowed him to go and cautioned him not to go back to the place again.
“Upon that police advice, they put him back in to vehicle and returned him where he was arrested; the man came down from the car and moved his way. Just about 15 minutes after disengagement with him, he slumped down and that led to his death. So there was no fracas, no fighting, no hijacking or dragging between my task force and the people.”
Meanwhile, the chairman, Arewa Consultative Forum, Rivers State Chapter, Musa Saidu, has demanded that the task force agent that allegedly masterminded the death of their colleague be brought to book, because the task force’s mandate, according to him, was to decongest the road in the state and not to take life.
He urged the law enforcement agent to act fast to ensure that the perpetrators of the act were prosecuted.
Saidu enjoined their members to remain calm and go about their lawful business and ensure that they operated within the ambit of the law of the land, while the police carry out their investigation into the matter.
Also, the spokesman of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Salami Ibrahim, has also condemned the alleged killing of the forex trader, urging the police to investigate and arrest the masterminds of the man’s death.
A cross section of foreign exchange traders who spoke to our correspondent alleged that the task force men always made demands from them.
A trader, Abu Danladi, said, “we want to sit down with the Rivers State Government and talk; sometimes, the task force used to arrest 10, 15, 20 of our people at a stretch, and each will pay N120,000 for their release. Sometimes, they carried them to main office, sometimes on the main road.
“They search you and whatever they see in your pocket, they collect; both dollar or naira, they will seize it before you are released. Government should check the excesses of the task force before they create problem that may lead to so many things unforeseen.

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MWUN Threatens To Down Tools Over Failed Quay Aprons 

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The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on Friday threatened to shutdown port operations over the dilapidated quay aprons at some of the nation’s seaports.
Speaking in Lagos during a joint press conference put together by the union and Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), President General, MWUN,  Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, reiterated that the lives of labour workers at the affected terminals was at risk, saying that “injury to one is tantamount to injury to all.”
Adeyanju lamented that the union cannot allow the situation consume some dockworkers before protesting against the trend, noting that as a responsible and proactive group, there was the need to down tools for government to do the needful.
Our correspondent gathered that two port terminal, at Tin Can Island Port Complex, Lagos, and another  at Port Harcourt, Rivers Port  Quay wells have been in  dilapidated condition for over five years without any sign of repair works from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Recall that Minister of Transportation, Mu’Azu Sambo, who also inspected the dilapidated portion of the Tin Can Island Port quay apron recently, asked Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the engineers to forward the ‘as-built’ plan of the jetty, alongside other documents to his office for immediate action.
While reacting to questions from the journalists, Adeyanju said the union will also engage management of the NPA in furtherance to address the menacing failed infrastructure of the terminals.
On the recently inked Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NARTO, the President General noted that the collaboration has been in existence for a long while with the aims to cater for drivers’ welfare and support projects of the NPA in port terminals operations.
He also warned members of the dockworkers branch to cooperate and embrace the agreement with the trucking association, noting that any attempt by the dockers to flout the MoU reached so far would result to sanctions from the national executive of MWUN.
He assured the leadership of NARTO, led by its National President, Alhaji Yusuf Othman, of the Union’s commitment towards ensuring that progress and success is achieved  in the agreement.
According to him, the MoU is binding for members of the dockworkers branch, stressing that the Lagos ports was a test run with plans ahead to extend the agreement to other seaports, including, Warri, Calabar and Port Harcourt ports.
Earlier, President of NARTO, Alhaji Othman, lauded the MoU reached with MWUN, adding that success will be achieved in the merger. Othman said in line with port operations, the merger will bring about free flow of vehicular movement in and out of the ports calling on the parties involved to embrace sincerity and transparency for the benefit of the industry and Nigeria.
He said, “We wish to draw the attention of the general public to the decision for MWUN and NARTO to synergise and collaborate on a basis of common desire to ensure seamless environment to do business in the maritime sub sector of the nation’s economy”.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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PenCom Approves Use Of Pensions For Mortgage

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National Pension Commission (PenCom), has commenced approval for workers to use 25 per cent of their Retirement Savings Accounts for mortgage.
PenCom in a press statement released on Friday, titled ‘PenCom approves guidelines on accessing Retirement Savings Account balance for payment of equity contribution for residential mortgage by RSA holders’, noted that the approval was in line with the Pension Reform Act of 2014.
It stated in part, “PenCom is pleased to inform all stakeholders and the general public, particularly RSA holders, that the commission has approved the issuance and immediate implementation of the guidelines on accessing RSA balance towards payment of equity contribution for residential mortgage by RSA holders.
“The approval is in line with Section 89 (2) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, which allows RSA holders to use a portion of their RSA balance towards payment of equity for residential mortgage”.
According to the PenCom, the guidelines cover pension contributors in active employment, either as a salaried employee or as a self-employed person.
It added that the maximum amount to be withdrawn is 25 per cent of the total mandatory RSA balance as of the date of application, irrespective of the value of equity contribution required by the mortgage lender.
It further stated that where 25 per cent of a contributor’s RSA balance is not sufficient for payment as equity contribution, that RSA holders may utilize the contingency portion of their voluntary contributions (if any).
To qualify as a mortgage lender for the purpose, it stated, the company must be licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, comply with the Contributory Pension Scheme and have valid Pension Clearance Certificate.
“The RSA of the applicant shall have both employer and employee’s mandatory contributions for a cumulative minimum period of 60 months (five years).
“A contributor under the Micro Pension Plan is also eligible, provided he/she has made contributions for at least 60 months (five years) prior to the date of his/her application, and the RSA Holders that have less than three years to retirement are not eligible.
“Married couples, who are RSA holders, are eligible to make a joint application, subject to individually satisfying the eligibility requirements.
“RSA holders, if registered before 1 July 2019, must have their records updated through the RSA data recapture exercise.
“Application for equity contribution for residential mortgage shall be in person and not by proxy.” it stated.

By: Corlins Walter

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Car Hires Operators, Bolt Driver Flex Muscles In PH Airport

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There was pandemonium at the Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa, Friday, as the Accredited Car Hires operators clashed with a Bolt taxi operator over passengers.
The scenario that played out got to the extent that everyone scampered for safety, as the Bolt driver went wild with his vehicle, and defied everything put in place to stop him, determined to crush anything, including humans, that stool on his way.
Problem started when the suspected Bolt driver was stopped by the Car Hires.  After a heated argument, characterized by abuses, the bolt driver decided to enter his vehicle in anger, after he sensed that his car was in danger of being confiscated.
In the commotion that ensued, the car hires, as usual, used their iron piercing instruments to block the tyres of the vehicle to keep it within their custody, and the uproar attracted  the attention of other airport users.
The Car hires and their allies at the airport had always insisted that no other taxi operator must carry passengers at the airport, since they do not pay any levy to the airport authority.
Consequently, they use every force necessary to stop other outside taxis from carrying passengers from the airport.
Friday’s incident took a new twist, as the Bolt driver over. Powered the forces used by the car hires, and went on a suicide mission, which made people to scamper for safety, including the car hires.
The driver went on a speed spree away from the airport. Even when the piercing instruments cut his tyre, he drove in such reckless manner capable of pulling down a building, thereby setting the entire environment on panic.
Some security agents present had to clear the way for the Bolt driver who drove out of the Airport with the iron piercing instrument obstructing his car, defiling all attempts to stop him.

By: Corlins Walter

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