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Bisiriyu Olaoye

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 The Lagos State Government has expressed concern on the growing incidences of suicide attempts and as such has promised to educate members of the public on suicide and common causes with a view to stemming the spate of suicides and suicidal attempts recorded in the State in the past few weeks.

The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, made this known at a press briefing on mental health to commemorate the year 2017 World Health Day with the theme “Depression: Let’s Talk”.

Idris stated that suicide could be committed by people of all ages and listed its common causes as inability to deal with life stresses such as financial problems, relationship breakup, chronic pain and illness, adding that individuals experiencing conflicts, disaster, violence, abuse or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour.

The Commissioner noted that suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination such as refugees, migrants and prisoners, just as he said that depression tops the list of common causes of suicides.

According to him, depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness and poor concentration.

“Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression which is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease,” he said.

While saying that more women are affected by depression than men, the Commissioner posited that depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life and can have devastating consequences for families, friends, communities and workplaces.

He stressed the need for coordination and collaboration amongst various sectors of the society including health, education, labour, justice, law, politics and the media, explaining that people suffering from depression need support to be courageous, come out to talk about it and shun the fear of stigmatization and discrimination.

He disclosed that the State Government has set up helplines – 08058820777 and 09030000741 – through which residents can ask questions, make inquiries and seek help from professionals early enough to allow for appropriate intervention.

“I must stress that there are people available to help. So, “Let’s Talk” …if you are a student, “Let’s Talk”, if you are a parent, “Let’s Talk”, “If you feel alone in the world, Let’s Talk,” he stated.

Also present at the press briefing were the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health,  Dr. Modele Osunkiyesi; Permanent Secretary,  Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Atinuke Onayiga; Permanent Secretary, Health Service Commission, Dr. Jemilade Longe and Professor Abiodun Adewuya of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) amongst others.

Rangers Football Club of Enugu has suspended its Technical Adviser, Imama Amapakabo “for security reasons.’’

Foster Chimem, spokesman for club, said the supporters were restless over the poor performance of the club.

Chime told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Enugu on Monday that the decision was prompted by the supporter’s action toward the coach after the 2-2 draw with Zesco United of Zambia on April 9.

“The supporters nearly beat him up after we conceded two goals advantage within four minutes to the Zambians.

“Some supporters went after him, but for the security personnel that escorted him out, it would have been a calamity.

“So, the management has no option than to ask him to step aside so that he will stop being a target of the fans’’, he said.

He recalled that the management decided to continue with Amapakabo even as he could not deliver during his three-match ultimatum.

The spokesman noted that the management refused to take any action on the coach as they believed that he could do better..

“It is unfortunate that the supporters revolted over the club’s performance against Zesco Utd and Amapakabo happened to be their target’’, Chime said.

Chime said the club had no intention of asking the coach to go because he still had the magic of champions in him.

The Lagos State Government has terminated the contract for the construction of a 48-bedroom hotel project at the VIP chalets in Badagry, which was awarded in 2013 to Messrs. Anatolia International Limited.

The project is currently being promoted as part of measures by the Ambode administration to boost tourism within the Badagry axis.

A statement issued on Thursday by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, stated the decision to terminate the contract followed a resolution taken at the State Executive Council meeting which held on Wednesday after an appraisal of progress report on the project.

The statement said the pace of work was not commensurate with the amount already released for the project. It also cited inefficiency and overall poor performance by the contractor as reasons for the contract termination and the subsequent blacklisting of the said company.

It maintained that one of the major policy thrusts of the current administration is tourism and hospitality sector development and that the government has left no one in doubt about its resolve to grow the state’s economy and empower the youths through several alternative means which include the tactical promotion of tourism, entertainment and sports.

“The inability of Messrs. Anatolia International Limited to key into the vision of the present administration, as part of the efforts to fast-track the development of its tourism sector, necessitated the decision of the State Executive Council to terminate the contract,” the statement said.

Ayorinde added that the current administration is resolved in its avowed mission to bring rapid infrastructural development to the state in a manner that gives zero-tolerance to insouciance and inefficiency.

A new law partnership has sprung up in Lagos and it is made up of some familiar names in the legal industry.

The new partnership has five partners including Olasupo Shasore, SAN; Ovie Ukiri; Olufemi Lijadu; Folashade Alli and Oyinkan Badejo- Okusanya.

It will be recalled that Shasore is a former Commissioner of Justice in Lagos State and Governorship aspirant of Lagos State on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) .

Shasore, Ukiri and Lijadu recently exited their partnership with Ajumogobia & Okeke, a Nigerian law firm with over 30 years under its belt.

The new law firm, USL, which stands for Ukiri, Shasore and Lijadu, has set up its offices at along Kasunmu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

According to its website, the law firm “delivers specialised solutions to the challenges of commercial operations in Africa and around the world.

A film maker, Lekan Ayinde, on Thursday described the fight to overcome piracy in the movie sub-sector in Nigeria as discouraging.

Ayinde, Manager, Wale Adenuga Production (WAP) who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos said: “it is not encouraging because government at all levels are not paying attention to it.”

“The newspapers are replete with news of corrupt public officers, armed robbers and traffickers but those who pirate films or movies are not given any attention at all.

“It has been quite a long time we read or hear of any arrest or even trial of film or movie pirates. Yet, this criminality is flourishing right under the eyes of government and their agents,’’ Ayinde alleged.

According to him, Nigeria’s movie industry is not benefiting from governments as it ought to, because piracy is on the increase unchecked.

“Piracy is the main obstacle confronting the film sector of Nigeria from realising its economic potential,’’ he said.

On the governments’ foreign direct investment drives, Ayinde said that not much attention was being given to films as a major revenue source for the country.

“We need men and women who know how to use movies to provide employment, enrich our economy and advance our image in the international society,’’ he said.

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday ordered the final forfeiture of N1.83 billion, belonging to a former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Dele Ezeoba.

The court made the order for permanent forfeiture of the sum, following an application by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, pursuant to section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act 2006.

Joined in the suit as defendants, were Chukwuka Onwuchekwa and Aquila Leasing Ltd.

The trial judge, Justice Muslim Hassan, had on March 15, issued an interim order for forfeiture of the said sum.

Hassan had then ordered the EFCC to make a publication of same in a national newspaper, for the knowledge of interested parties.

Delivering judgment on Thursday, the judge ordered a final forfeiture of N1.825 billion to the coffers of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He held that the EFCC, having complied with the provisions of section 17 of the Act, as well the EFCC Act and the fact that the property was unclaimed, it was appropriate to make the orders.

“Having satisfied that such property is an unclaimed property, and also satisfying the provisions of the law, the court shall order the final forfeiture of the said property.

“In this view, there is no other proof required to enable the court make an order of final forfeiture; this application is meritorious and hereby granted.

“An order is hereby made for final forfeiture of the total sum of N1.825 billion to the federal government of Nigeria,’’ Hassan ruled.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the EFCC had, while moving the application, said that the money was traced to the account of Aquila Leasing Ltd and that Ezeoba had agreed, in his statement to the EFCC, to forfeit the money.

He had said the money was proceeds of crime fraudulently diverted from the Nigerian Navy, under the leadership of Dele Joseph Ezeoba.

The anti graft agency said Ezeoba used the name of “Chukwuka Onwuchekwa’’ to open a fraudulent account in disguise, while he was the one who truly laundered the money.

EFCC said that the former Naval Chief admitted that the account was opened with Onwuchekwa’s consent while he (Ezeoba) managed it.

The commission said in a “desperate bid” to further disguise and conceal the illicit source of the funds, Ezeoba entered into a memorandum of understanding to buy Aquila’s shares from Onwucheka, who was the managing director.

It said the shares were worth N2.4 billion, out of which N1.83 billion had been recovered in drafts in favour of the Federal Government.

The EFCC had, therefore, sought for an order of the court to forfeit the entire N1.825 billion to the Federal Government.

Meanwhile, the respondent did not oppose the application for final forfeiture of the sums.

Counsel to the respondent, Mr. Pascal Madu, had said his clients were not opposed to the permanent forfeiture of the money.

He, however, said that his clients were not involved in any fraud, adding that Ezeoba, gave them the money to buy shares for him, as part of savings over the years.

PAULETTE ORJIME- Abuja

FEDERAL Government has cleared the inherited arrears of accrued pension benefit for the year 2014, 2015 and 2016 due to their Concerns about the plight of pensioners who retired under the Contributory Pension Scheme without being paid.

In a statement made available to Daily Champion Thursday in Abuja from the Ministry,   the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun disclosed that the clearance of the arrears was done by releasing N41.5 billion to the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) for onward payment to the retirees.

The Minister also announced that the sum of N12.5 billion being outstanding for January, February and March 2017 has been settled based on 2016 appropriation, bringing the tally to over N54 billion.

“Despite conflicting demands for available cash, President Muhammadu Buhari has always expressed concern about the plight of workers and pensioners. Consistent with this, we have released N41.5 billion which clears the arrears inherited from the previous administration relating to the period 2013-15 and underpayments in 2016.

“This will bring relief to thousands of our elders who have served and deserve to be paid their entitlements promptly and fully,” Mrs. Adeosun  said.

The N41, 566, 565, 184 released to PENCOM was the outstanding appropriated for the year 2014 and 2016 by the National Assembly for the settlement of the retirement benefits of Federal Government employees.

She further said: “The amount we paid includes arrears and the impact is that those who retired as far back as 2013, who had been unable to access pension under the contributory scheme due to non payment, will now be paid.”

To avoid future accumulation of pension arrears, Adeosun assured that henceforth “the monthly allocation to the PENCOM based on the appropriation of 2017 will regularly be paid along with monthly salaries of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).”

 

Some 50 Nigerians were on Thursday deported from eight European countries for committing immigration-related offences.

The Nigerians were deported from Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Hungary.

Their deportation is coming barely 48 hours after another set of 40 Nigerians were deported by the Italian Government, for similar reasons.

The fresh batch of deportees arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMlA), Lagos at about 7.36 a.m.

The deportees, comprising of 48 males and two females, were brought back in a chartered Privileged Time aircraft, with registration number EC-L20.

DSP Joseph Alabi, spokesman of the Lagos Airport Police Command, confirmed the development to NAN.

Alabi said: “this morning, we received 50 Nigerians who were brought back from Europe.

“We had three males from Switzerland; from Germany, we had seven males; from Sweden, we had four males, from Luxembourg, we had six males; from Austria, we had 18, comprising of 17 males and one female.

“From Belgium, we had only one female; from Spain, we had five males and finally from Hungary, we had six males, which makes it a total of 50,’’ he said.

Alabi said all the deportees were alleged to have committed immigration-related offences in their host countries.

Alabi said the deportees were received by officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Police.

Also on ground to receive them were officials the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

NAN gathered that the deportees were profiled by immigration authorities and were allowed to depart to their various destinations.

PAULETTE ORJIME, Abuja

MINISTER of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has held her first-ever Facebook Live session.

The 23-minute event, filmed  on Tuesday at  the Ministry of Finance headquarters in Abuja, and broadcast live through her Facebook page (Facebook.com/HMKemiAdeosun), reached an audience of more than 130,000 persons within the first hour.

The Minister kicked off the Facebook Live interaction with an overview on developments in the Nigerian economy over the past few months, highlighting the Finance Ministry’s work in supporting SMEs, creating jobs, improving transparency, cutting the cost of governance, and boosting Government revenues.

Acknowledging the challenges the Nigerian economy faced recently due to low oil prices, the Minister said: “the good news is that we are working through the issues one by one, and trying to ensure that as we rebuild the economy, we get away from the boom and bust cycle of the past — we want to build an economy where, whether oil price is high or low, there’s sustainable growth for Nigeria and for Nigerians.”

The Federal Government, she said, is doing this by investing heavily in infrastructure and working to create an enabling environment for businesses. One evidence of this renewed focus is the fact that the Ministry of Finance has so far released a Trillion Naira for infrastructure projects in the 2016 budget; a level of infrastructure investment unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.

Responding to a Facebook question about the YouWiN! Entrepreneurship program, Mrs Adeosun explained that the Buhari administration has no plans to scrap it.

According to her, the Federal Government has reviewed the scheme and repositioned it as YouWiN!Connect, which focuses on continuous enterprise education and skills building. As part of the restructuring, the Minister noted that YouWiN!Connect now publishes weekly editorials in four national newspapers. She added that the principles of YouWiN!Connect would be incorporated into university curricula across Nigeria.

The Minister also revealed that efforts are on-going to improve payroll assurance through continuous audit and migration of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to the IPPIS Platform.

On the Federal Government’s Whistleblowing Policy, the Minister said it was introduced not only to recover stolen funds but to also serve as a deterrent against corrupt practices. “Just last week, a whistleblower made claims of long-term fraud and funds misappropriation in YouWiN!,” she disclosed, adding that the Government was now investigating those claims with a view to taking appropriate action.

Speaking on the take-off of the newly-licensed Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), the Minister noted that it was established to provide access to funding, specifically for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

According to her, even though SMEs account for over 45 percent all businesses in Nigeria, less than 10 percent of them are able to present collateral to access bank loans. “DBN affords young people access to loans for doing business cheaply and conveniently,” she said.

While answering a question on the economic recession, she said: “We got into recession because, for the last 10 years, even when the oil price was extremely high, and we were borrowing, our reserves were decreasing. We didn’t have enough of a productive economy.

“The only real thing that was happening and creating growth was the oil price, and as soon as the oil price went down, growth disappeared. What we are trying to do now is to reset the economy, so that we are not so dependent on oil.”

Mrs. Adeosun expressed appreciation to viewers and participants, assuring them that she would continue to actively engage on social media, through her Facebook and Twitter accounts: Twitter.com/HMKemiAdeosun, Facebook.com/HMKemiAdeosun.

She added that the full Facebook live video is available to view on http://bit.ly/AskHMFinance

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