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COVID-19: RSG Tightens Surveillance At PH Airport …Assures Additional Measures, Today …Sets Up Five-Man Committee To Monitor Compliance …Nigeria Records Eight New Cases As Number Rises To 30

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As part of measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus codenamed COVID-19, the Rivers State Government says it is working with the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to tighten surveillance at the domestic wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike stated this during a live radio programme in Port Harcourt, monitored by The Tide in Port Harcourt, weekend.
Chike said the Rivers State Committee on Coronavirus Enlightenment was doing everything within its powers to ensure that all entry and exit points to the state are well checked.
According to him, “At the domestic wing, we want to also commence screening because we fear that the virus carriers may also come in through Lagos or Abuja routes. Passengers might disembark in Abuja or Lagos, and then take domestic flights to Port Harcourt.”
The commissioner said he was at the airport with the terminal managers and the zonal team that took him round to ensure that the appropriate preventive measures were in place, saying, “So, we don’t want to leave any stone unturned and our team is also ready”.
Chike also advised residents in the state to adopt extra caution to prevent the virus from entering Rivers State, and urged residents to adhere to simple personal hygiene and not panic.
“The state government is doing everything possible. It is not the time for fear but fact. We still encourage people to maintain high hygiene. Wash your hands severally with soap and water, and then, you also add alcohol-based sanitizers, then, the social distancing and coughing onto the flex arms of your elbow.
“As much as possible, reduce contact. If you can’t avoid handshake, in fact, you can give the person a beautiful smile from a distance, and then, continue. We are talking about you being alive and not contracting this virus.
“The airport is in the purview of the Federal Government but what we are doing is assisting and making sure the Port Health Service and our own medical surveillance teams are on the ground to make sure that these things are done. Like when we discovered one or two things that are not functional, we pointed it to them, and they have corrected that and made sure they are done,” the commissioner added.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has assured that the state government would proactively announce additional measures to check the scourge of Coronavirus pandemic in the state, today.
Addressing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) delegates at the State Elective Congress in Port Harcourt, last Saturday, Wike said that the state government would continue to put appropriate public health safety measures in place to protect Rivers people.
The governor said: “By Monday, the state government will take additional measures to tackle the novel Coronavirus.
“It is important that we continue to take this matter very seriously. The mere fact that there is no confirmed case does not mean that we should relax.”
Wike explained that the state government had directed that precautionary measures must be taken before the state PDP Elective Congress was held.
According to him, “That is why we said that before any delegate is allowed to come inside the venue, he must have his/her temperature checked and hand sanitizer applied.
“We continue to pray that there will be no confirmed case in Rivers State”, Wike added.
Earlier, the Rivers State Government had ordered the closure of all schools in the state and directed religious organisations to restrict their activities as a result of the global novel Coronavirus pandemic.
In a state-wide broadcast, last Friday, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike said that the action was taken in the interest of the state.
The closure affects public and private primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, effective today.
The governor stressed that, “Based on the above precautionary measures, the state can be described to be at an alert state. To further strengthen our resolve to protect our citizens, the state government has taken the following decisions: “All schools in the state are to be closed down with effect from Monday, March 23, 2020. All religious organisations are to restrict their activities.”
Wike explained that his administration took the decision with a deep sense of responsibility.
He said: “As you are aware, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has described Coronavirus as a global pandemic. This development calls for collective action by all well-meaning citizens.
“As a responsive government, even though we have not had a confirmed case of Coronavirus, we did not rest on our oars as we set-up a five-man inter-ministerial committee to carry out an aggressive public enlightenment that will protect all those living and doing business in the state from the disease.
“This decision was taken because we understand that we are the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry and also a major commercial hub in the country that attracts people from all walks of life across all continents.”
The Rivers State governor noted that with actions taken, the state was alert to address any situation.
“The committee had since its inauguration carried out stakeholder engagement with Community Development Committees, religious groups, principals and head teachers of schools, traders’ association, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), military, paramilitary, police, International Oil Companies (IOCs) and chairmen of local government councils under the auspices of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
“In addition to this, radio and television jingles, flyers and billboards have been fully utilised by the committee to pass the prevention message to all the nooks and crannies of the state.”
The governor added: “The state Ministry of Health has also been empowered to set up intervention resources: 158 surveillance and ad-hoc personnel have been trained. One treatment centre, holding centres in the two teaching hospitals and all general hospitals in the state are fully functional. All health workers, both private and public have been trained and briefed on infection control measures and appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand sanitizers have been procured, infrared thermometers have been procured, other commodities and equipment have been stockpiled, and we have redoubled surveillance at our airports, seaports, waterways and land routes.”
Wike pleaded for the understanding of Rivers people, adding, “My dear good people of Rivers State, as painful as these decisions may seem, it is a sacrifice we must make to protect ourselves in the face of recent developments.
“Let me assure all those resident in the state that the state government under my leadership is ready and willing to protect their lives at all times.
“May I, therefore, call for the understanding and collective support of all and sundry to keep our state safe from Coronavirus. Together, we shall win with God on our side”, Wike noted.
However, following the executive order by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for all schools to close, effective today, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku has warned that any school that does not comply with the directive would be sanctioned.
Speaking during a press briefing, held last Friday, at the State Secretariat, Port Harcourt, to announce the setting up of an additional five-man committee to ensure compliance of schools to the governor’s order, Ebeku, pointed out that the immediate closure of all schools as directed by Chief Executive Officer of the state does not in any way confirm that there is any Coronavirus case in the state.
The education commissioner added that it was better to prepare for war than wait for the war to start before preparation.
Ebeku noted further that these are not good times in the world, reminding Rivers people that the World Health Organisation has already warned African countries to prepare for the worst, with increasing cases of the virus across many countries on the continent.
“With a deep sense of solemnity and responsibility, I must say that these are not good times for us. The scourge of the virus called COVID-19 is ravaging virtually all countries of the world, and WHO has warned African countries to prepare for the worst.
“Earlier today (Friday), the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as a dynamic and responsible leader, had in a state-wide broadcast, announced that all schools in the state are to be closed with effect from Monday, March 23, 2020.
“This is the most painful, but necessary decision to protect the people of Rivers State, particularly our schools growing children from the pandemic, and the order of closure affects all schools, both public and private, and from primary to tertiary institutions.
“In furtherance to this decision, Chief Nyesom Wike has set-up a committee to monitor compliance with the order for closure of schools. I have also set-up a five-man committee which has been mandated to move round the state to ensure compliance,” Ebeku added.
Kaniye stated that in addition to the committee set-up by the Rivers State governor, he also set-up another follow-up committee to monitor compliance in order to ensure that any school that goes against the governor’s directive is sanctioned and the operational license retrieved from the school.
“For the avoidance of doubt, any private school that violates the order of closure will have its operating license withdrawn”, Ebeku warned.
On the issue of duration of the closure, the commissioner stated that the closure was indefinite for now, pending the seriousness or otherwise of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
On the issue of allowing the pupils to finish their examinations, Ebeku explained that the government had agreed with school heads to ensure that all examinations were concluded before today.

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Empowering The  IDPs Out Of Poverty 

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Internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, are persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border. There are a lot of IDPs in different parts of Nigeria. These groups of persons are entitled to all the rights and guarantees as citizens and other habitual residents of their country. As such, national authorities have the primary responsibility to prevent forced displacement and to protect IDPs.
However, IDPs, due to their forced displacement, are inherently vulnerable to deprivation, further displacement and other protection risks, such as lack of access to basic services, family separation, sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, discrimination and harassment. There is, therefore, the need to empower the IDPs and help them face their challenges with every sense of responsibility. This was the case with The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) which in its four-year programme empowered 300 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and their households with agricultural inputs in Kuje and Durumi camps, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, which helped to improve their livelihoods and stepped them out of the poverty line.
The IDPs stated this when the Spanish Cooperation Agency in Madrid, led by its Director, Mr Anton Leis visited the NANTS office in Abuja where NANTS and ECOWAS shared their success story. Added to this, a delegation of the Spanish Government led by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Albares visited Nigeria and signed a Development Cooperation and Financial Agreement with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission to continue on this path of development and regional economic integration. It will be recalled that in 2019, NANTS in collaboration with ECOWAS under the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF) and the Spanish International Development Agency (AECID) embarked on an empowerment programme aimed at providing succor to the IDPs spread around Abuja.
Through this project, the association selected 300 households among the worst hit and poorest IDPs (who were originally farmers) in their various localities in the North East from where they were displaced.
Agricultural inputs ranging from hoes, improved seeds, particularly maize and groundnuts, fertilizers, chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, spraying machines, and some back up cash were thereafter given to the beneficiaries to enable them to get engaged in farming. This ultimately got them back to a means of livelihood and moved them out of the streets where they were begging and depending on arms.
NANTS also provided technical backstopping by engaging experts on agronomy who trained and followed up the beneficiaries through the setting up of demonstration farms from where they were learning daily for improved agricultural practices. The association further intervened and negotiated with community leaders in Kuje and Kosso communities who provided farm lands for the selected IPDs. Recounting their experiences and benefits from the project, some of the representatives of the beneficiaries testified that the project had built their capacity for improved productivity in selected crops such as maize and groundnut.
According to them, about 1,800 tons of maize was produced as an aggregate harvest at 6 tons per hectare per beneficiary using best practices adopted by NANTS. Similarly, about 1,000 tons of groundnuts were produced as an aggregate harvest by the end of the season at 3 ton per hectare per beneficiary. In the end, about 74 (project) beneficiaries exited the IDPs camp for better accommodation, with 13 currently living in their own houses while 18 of them acquired land to start the process of building their own houses. Added to this is the fact that over 100 youths in the IDP camps and in the community got attracted and were absorbed into farming, while 43 beneficiaries whose children were out of school sent them back to school after several years of drop out owing to poverty.
Also, 31 of the beneficiaries acquired and renewed their mobile phones, with 61 identifiable thriving farming businesses contributing incomes to the beneficiaries. Ironically, over 66 per cent of the beneficiaries are women. In all, the IDP project significantly contributed to increased food production and reduction in the incidences of hunger and malnutrition among the IDPs. Indeed, the NANTS project contributed to the protection and rehabilitation of the vulnerable population displaced from their homes and means of livelihood; strengthened their social security system; created agro markets and enhanced food security and sufficiency. Mr. Chiroma Isaiah, the Chairman of the IDP Camp in Kuje said that the IDPs were traditional farmers who were displaced from their communities. He disclosed that the project rekindled their hopes and improved their livelihoods by fostering access to agricultural tools.
Hear him: “By the time I came to Abuja I had nothing and I was begging all around, but this programme has facilitated the return of my eight children to school. Currently, three of them have finished secondary school while one has graduated from the college of education.
”Now I have built my house and I have bought another piece of land. Through this project many of us have motorcycles that they use for commercial purposes.’’ On his part, Malam Umar Gola from Durumi IDP Camp, commended NANTS, ECOWAS-RAAF and the AECID for the support.Gola who lost his wife and two children to insurgency said that the project improved his capacity beyond what he originally knew about farming by providing training on improved technology that resulted in improved productivity. “Now I have gone beyond maize and groundnut production and have about two tonnes of beans produced and stored to be sold when the price increases. I have procured two plots of land in Karshi to build my own house.
“This project has positively impacted so much on us; it provided us with seedlings and funds that helped us to diversify apart from farming,’’ Gola said. He, however, expressed concern that they were still faced with the challenge of herders’ attack on their farms. Similarly, Mrs Rufkatu Peter, said that the project promoted her gradual exit from IDP status. She described the NANTS project as a landmark approach towards ensuring that food security was taken to the next level in terms of sustainability. In her words, “I ran away from Goza pregnant and delivered twins in Abuja when the project started. I zealously joined the project with my children to make ends meet, and was later joined by my husband.
“Today, from this project, we are living in our own house and all our five children are in school and well taken care of.”   Earlier, the National President of NANTS, Dr Ken Ukaoha said that research showed that over 90 per cent of people in IDP camps were traditionally farmers before they were displaced from their communities. He observed that the project had enhanced food and nutrition security mechanisms for IDPs and brought peace among households in the host communities through regular interface, negotiation strategies as well as agronomic training and agriculture extension services. “We provided farm inputs, procured and developed demonstration farms and training manuals, took them there where we trained them in crop agronomy and 300 households regained their livelihoods. They were originally farmers before they were displaced, so we needed to buy everything they needed to start life so as to move them from the roads where they were begging,” he stated.
Ukaoha, however, solicited continued support for the project to capture more IDPs. He said that records indicated that there are about 6, 348 IDP households in Abuja and the project only captured 300.He commended ECOWAS and the AECID for remaining profoundly resilient in assisting the poor IDPs. The Director, Spanish Cooperation Agency, Mr Anton Leis said that Spain would continue to strengthen its cooperation with Nigeria and ECOWAS. This, according to him, will enable them to finance and support more similar projects.  “This is one of the best and most important projects implemented with our support. We thank everyone involved in making a difference in the project as we have seen and the opportunity to hear from the beneficiaries,’’ Leis said.
While recalling some challenges faced by the world in the last four years, Leis urged the beneficiaries not to lose hope. “Nigeria is a country of hope. Your personal experience expresses some hope and it is not just in Nigeria or this part of the world that we have internally displaced people, we have a hundred million people all over the world that are refugees or IDPs. “Your stories depicted hardships and difficult times, but with some help from us, ECOWAS and NANTS you are able to pull through. Your kids are in schools, you have built your houses, you can make a living and that calls for congratulations for everybody supporting this work,’’ he said.

By: Calista Ezeaku

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Wike Justifies Why Rivers PDP’s Not Campaigning For Atiku …We’ll Invest In Infrastructure, Security, Shoreline Protection In Bonny, Fubara Assures

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said the ongoing campaigns for candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state do not include the party’s presidential candidate.
The reason, Wike gave, was that there was yet no understanding brokered for such level of support to be given by the state.
Wike spoke during the local government campaign flag-off rally organised by the Rivers State PDP Campaign Council, yesterday, in Bonny Town.
The Rivers State governor told Bonny people: “Go home and have it on your mind that the PDP in Rivers State, we have taken governorship, we have taken the senatorial, we have taken the House of Representatives, and we have taken the House of Assembly.
“That is the election we are doing here. These are the ones (candidates) who told me to come and campaign for them. No other person told me to campaign for him.
“I can’t force myself to campaign for you when you have not asked for it. These ones (candidates) have told me, so, I’ve come here to campaign. If somebody asks you to work for him, you’ll work for him. But if they don’t want you to work for them, will you force them?”
Wike pointed out that anybody who says Rivers State was inconsequential, would suffer repercussion for ignoring the state.
The governor enjoined all residents in the state to be rest assured that no intimidation and propaganda that can cause distraction from the political path that has been so chosen.
“Any person who says Rivers State is not important, we will pepper him. Anybody who says he doesn’t regard Rivers State, we will not regard such person.
“There’s nothing like propaganda, nothing like intimidation because nobody can intimidate us. We are very, very solid. We are very strong.
“No state can point at us to determine what will happen here. Nobody can do such. So, be bold to say, ‘I’m from Rivers State, I live in Rivers and I am happy with Rivers’. What is important is our state, which we have collected.”
Wike said it was ludicrous for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to campaign in the state based on the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari, who was their leader, had already adjudged PDP in Rivers as the best in infrastructure delivery in the country.
He said because his administration believes in practical demonstration of governance, 12 flyovers were executed within four years, in addition to other development projects that have been delivered.
“All these people who say they are campaigning, what are they campaigning for? President Muhammadu Buhari, the leader of APC, said I am the best as far as development is concerned. What nature of campaign will they be doing again?”
Speaking further, Wike recalled that during the courtesy visit to the Amanyanabo of Grand Bonny, King Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III, before coming to the campaign ground, his contributions to the eventual flag-off of the Bonny-Bodo Road were recounted by the monarch.
Wike assured that the ongoing shore protection work at Long John in Abalamabie community would be completed.
He also explained that the contract for the much-desired Ring Road in Bonny Town would be signed by him, and completed within the lifespan of the administration of his successor.
The governor, who frowned at the pace of work at the Bonny National Grammar School being reconstructed, for which 100percent of the contract sum had been paid, assured that it would be completed and formally handed over before the end of his tenure.
Wike urged them to keep faith with the PDP, consider the opportunity they have now as the best time to deliver bulk vote to ensure that Sir Siminialayi Fubara and his running mate win the governorship election in the state.
“This is the closest time and period an Ibani son is getting to the throne of the governor of Rivers State. Now, who is the man that will decide what will be here and what will not be there. Is it not your son? What project is bigger than that project?”
Addressing the people, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State for the 2023 general election, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, pledged to construct Bonny internal roads, and carry out further shoreline protection in the ancient kingdom.
The governorship candidate also promised to invest in the security architecture of Bonny Local Government Area to consolidate on the security efforts of the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike in the area, in a bid to make the kingdom more attractive to multinational companies and even SMEs.
Fubara made the pledge at the Rivers PDP state-level campaign rally for Bonny Local Government Area, held at Industrial Unit Field, Bonny, yesterday.
“Our campaign here has been made easier with the crowd I am seeing here. We fought George Tolofari in Bonny in 2015 and 2019, but today, he is on our side, he joined us because we have performed very well, he joined us because we work our talks.
“The present administration in Rivers State has always supported anything that will bring development into Bonny Local Government Area, and distance itself from anything that tends to disorganise the kingdom. This is why you have security here.
“We are going to put in place mechanism that will sustain the peace you are currently enjoying. Anything that is needed to maintain peace and ensure security here will be done. The companies operating here will feel safer to do business. This LGA is very important to Rivers State and Nigeria in general. We will also protect lives and properties of our people.
“We will address the issue of bad roads in Bonny Local Government Area, we are going to construct your internal roads. We will also ensure that your shorelines are protected. We will do all these to curb the issue of flooding that you always encounter in this area,” he added.
The guber candidate appealed to the people of Bonny Kingdom to support the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party in the forthcoming general elections in February 25 and March 11, respectively.
“We need your continuous support, the king has already blessed me so I am very sure of your vote, but we need you to also vote our senatorial candidate, our house of reps candidate, and our state house of assembly candidate.
“This is not a matter of our brother nor our turn, it is a matter of performance. The current PDP government in the state has performed excellently well. You need to elect us to continue with this good governance.
“A vote for us is a vote for a better Bonny Kingdom, a vote for us is a vote for your own security, a vote for us is a vote for consolidation and continuity of the New Rivers Vision that has brought tremendous development to Rivers State,” the guber candidate stated.
They are issues of security, construction of internal roads that would further address perennial flooding in the area, and protection of the traditional institution.
“We have protected your traditional institution to show that we are people who understand, recognise and appreciate institutions.
“So, our campaign here today is very simple. We will ensure that we sustain the peace that is in Bonny. Everything we need to do to make sure that you continue to enjoy peace, we will do,so that the international oil companies (IOCs) operating here will continue to operate.”
Fubara solicited massive votes from the people of Bonny, and assured that his administration would consolidate what the Wike-led administration has achieved and continue to deliver services that would make living pleasurable in the state.
“PDP has performed in this state, and PDP is asking you for your support to continue with the performance. We are not saying we want to perform. We are saying that we will be performing and continue to perform”.
Rivers West Senatorial District candidate and Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, who spoke on behalf of House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates from Bonny, assured the people of qualitative representation.
Earlier, Wike paid a courtesy call at the palace of the Amanyanabo and Natural Ruler of Grand Bonny Kingdom, King Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III, the Perekule XI.
The revered traditional ruler gave his blessings to Sir Siminialayi Fubara, and urged him not to forget the kingdom when he becomes governor.
“We prayed in 2014/2015 and God heard us, I can say that Governor Nyesom Wike has not failed me. He has continued to support Bonny Kingdom. He played a major role in making Bonny-Bodo Road a reality, he supported the project and Bonny at large in terms of provision of security and other commitments.
“We thank God Almighty for the choice of an Ibani son as the governorship candidate, this is the closest Ibani Kingdom has ever gotten to that seat of power. Siminialayi Fubara is our own; we pray God should give him the grace to conquer.
“You are going to succeed by the grace of God. I say this with all amount of seriousness. You will become the governor of Rivers State because God has decided that this time, Bonny will be favoured. Please don’t forget us when you get there,” the king added.

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FG’s Panel Vows Tough Action On Oil Theft

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The Federal Government’s Investigative Panel on Oil Theft and Losses, headed by Major-General Barry Ndiomu (rtd) has, again, vowed to fish out and decisively deal with oil thieves.
Ndiomu, who is also the interim administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), gave the assurance, yesterday, when he led members of the panel on a strategic courtesy visit to the Delta State Government.
He disclosed that members of the panel had begun visiting sites, oil platforms, and engaging key stakeholders that would provide useful information to aid their task.
The PAP boss, while soliciting support, also assured that the recommendations of the panel would not go the way of other committees and panels set up by previous governments.
Ndiomu noted that there have been remarkable improvements in crude oil production in the country, attributing it to the recent engagement by the Federal Government of Tantita Security Services Limited.
According to him, the security firm owned by an ex-agitator Government Ekpemukolo, a.k.a Tompolo, has been able to track oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
In his response, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, called on all stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to work together to curb crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
The governor, represented by his Deputy, Kingsley Otuaro, commended the Federal Government for setting up the panel and admitted that the nation was losing billions of naira due to oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
He noted that the losses incurred by the nation due to oil theft and pipeline vandalism were alarming and is grossly affecting the country’s mono-economy which is highly dependent on proceeds from crude oil.
Okowa recalled that several committees and panels have been set up in the past by successive governments without any positive outcome.
He, therefore, expressed hope that the panel on oil theft and losses would not go the same way, as its recommendations if implemented, would help unravel the effects, causes and proffer lasting solutions to the menace.
The vice presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), promised to furnish the panel with relevant information that would assist in carrying out its assignment.
He added that his administration had taken deliberate steps by providing structures to help curb the phenomenon of pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft.
He listed the Delta State Waterways and Land Security, and the Delta State Committee Against Oil Assets Destruction, among others, which are aimed at deepening engagements with stakeholders in the sectors to prevent oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
The Investigative Panel on Oil Theft and Losses was inaugurated in December last year by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd).

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