Nigeria to export first yams to U.S, UK

Nigeria may officially export its first consignment of certified yams to the UK and U.S. by the end of June, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has said.

A statement by Mr. Olukayode Oyeleye, Special Assistant (Media and Communication) to the minister, said in Abuja on Friday that the Federal Government was committed to restoring Nigeria’s place in agro-commodities export market.

The market had been lost for decades as a result of poor quality control.

According to Ogbeh, Nigeria would officially export its first consignment of certified yams to the UK and U.S. by the end of June.

‘‘This will mark a milestone in the efforts we are making to bring Nigeria back into reckoning in the agricultural export market.

‘‘We lost this, decades ago, as a result of poor quality control and subsequent rejection of our agricultural exports.

‘‘Among a number of initiatives to fast-track these interventions and solidify our base, the Federal Government has empowered the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), to make it more responsive to issues of safety and phytosanitary standards in food exports.

‘‘The NAQS reports will become acceptable globally and this will forestall the national embarrassment arising from the rejections of food exports on account of quality deficiency,’’ he said.

He said that the Federal Government had also established a standing inter-ministerial technical committee on zero-reject of agricultural produce and non-oil exports in Nigeria.

Ogbeh said that the committee is co-chaired by the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and technically supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

He added that the committee consists of membership from critical and relevant agencies of the Federal Government.

These agencies are the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).

They also include Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) are also part of the project.

He informed that the inter-ministerial committee had commenced work on an export control plan to target the country beans rejection and develop HS codes for other exportable commodities from Nigeria as recommended by the EU as part of the terms for lifting the ban on the beans export.

According to him, the Ministry of Agriculture plays a pivotal role since all productions start from the farms.

‘‘I affirm the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to end the embarrassing rejection of Nigerian commodity and produce at the international market is irrevocable.

‘‘The health of Nigerians is also paramount and the populace needs good quality food as well.

‘‘There is nothing like Nigerian or local standards, but international standards to which we cannot but adhere in our local handling of food, consumption and export drive,’’ the minister said. (NAN)

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Quit Notice: Igbo people should be protected, S’East Governors demand

 Governors of the South-East have demanded adequate protection for the lives and properties people of Igbo extraction living in any part of the country and called on Northern leaders to speak against the divisive rhetoric being used by youths in the North.

The governors made their position known in a statement signed by Mr. David Umahi, Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum (SEGF).

The statement, issued on Friday, was in response to the order given by a 16-member coalition of Northern youth groups that Igbo people living in the Northern part of the country should return to their home states by 1 October and that Northerners living in the South-East should do the same of the stated date. The SEGF, which described the order as provocative and injurious to the corporate existence of the country, said the lives and property of Igbo in any part of the country must be guaranteed and defended.

“The lives and property of law-abiding citizens of Igbo extraction are as precious as the lives and property of all Nigerians, irrespective of the region of their abode within this Republic. These must be guaranteed and defended against all forms of threat and aggression, both domestic and external, by the security forces/agencies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the statement said.

The governors added that they have been collaborating with the security agencies to ensure that non-Igbo people living in the South-East, including Northerners, are adequately protected from harm.

In addition, they called on well-meaning Nigerians, especially Northern religious, leaders of socio-cultural groups in the North and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to speak out against the incendiary utterances and conduct of Northern youths.

“The ugly lessons of history are too grim to be stoked with carelessness. As leaders, we must exert the full measure of our powers and influence to forestall a repetition,” stated the SEGF.

The forum called on Igbo people living in the North to go about their engagements without fear. It also dismissed, as false, claims being made in the traditional and on social media platforms South-East governors have agreed to mobilize vehicles and cash to move Igbo people out of the North.

“They are nothing but tissues of lies. No amount of provocation would lead us to such a precipitate and irresponsible action at this time. Those exploiting such vacuous tittle-tattle as a basis for divisive rhetoric in public spaces are simply playing juvenile politics and we urge them to cease and desist,” the governors said.

The SEGF thanked the Presidency, Senate President, governors of Kaduna and Borno states, Arewa Consultative Forum, Afenifere and others who declaimed the Northern youths’ threat to the Igbo. Their action, said the South-East governors, underscored the unity and oneness of the country.

The governors equally restated their commitment to the continued existence of the country as a single entity ruled by mutual respect and equality of opportunity to all citizens regardless of creed, ethnicity or gender. “We have had occasion recently to take this position publicly in response to the agitative, but peaceful actions of some Igbo youth. We will continue to take a similar stance in response to any action that might threaten the cohesiveness of this nation or designed to cause its rupture,” they stated.

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House passes 126 Bills, 27 signs into law, 500 petitions received – Dogara


The House of Representatives has scored itself high in the 8th Assembly, saying that they have raised the bars beyond the previous Assembly as it passed 126 Bills, 27 signed by the President and also received about 500 petitions two years into the 8th Assembly.

The House equally stated that a lot of innovations were introduced by the 8th Assembly including the signing of budget appropriations by each member of the committee, a public hearing on the budgetary process and details of the Appropriation Act made available to the public.

This was disclosed by the speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara during the commemoration of the second anniversary of the 8th National Assembly.

The speaker emphasized that the maim legislative agenda of the 8th assembly is to take the country out of recession, saying that several bills and motions have been passed to that effect, including the Ease of Doing Business Bill.

According to Dogara, “The total number of Bills introduced so far are 1064 out of which Executive Bills are 50, Senate Bills transmitted to the House – 21 and Private Members Bills – 993. A total of 126 Bills have been passed by the House and the others are at various stages in the legislative mill. 27 Bills have received Presidential assent and a lot more are in the pipeline.

“Each of the achievements highlighted above is unsurpassed by any previous Assembly. The sheer volume of these Bills attests to the vibrancy of the House in its attempt to legislate on key areas of our national life at a very trying time in our history.

“Public Petitions received in the last two years are over 500 in number and the Committee on Public Petitions conducts Public Hearings on these petitions almost every week to ensure citizen access to the legislature.

The Speaker stated that self assessment will always be misinterpreted by the public, maintaining that the electorate are at liberty to assess the achievements of the 8th legislature as against the previous legislature, but was quick to add that the 8th Assembly was packed full with legislative activities and  that there is still room for improvement, while time line will be put in place to ensure that each committee works with time so that an Ad-hoc committee will not stretch to a standing committee.

“We have remained a bastion of legislative activism. Indeed members of the 8th House of Representatives are in keen competition with one another in fashioning out legislative solutions to myriad of problems facing the nation. That is why in all facets of law-making, we can comfortably and conveniently assert that we have broken all records.

“We have done reasonably well in most of the indices indicated. But there is a very large room to do even more”.

He said that the degree of efforts put into the 2017 Budget was to ensure that Nigerians receive the best implementable budget which will signed by the executive next week.

“On issue of Budget, we kept our promise to Nigerians at the beginning of the legislative session to ensure transparent deliberation and passage of the 2017 Appropriations Bill which will be signed into law early next week. We have also carried out significant Budget Reforms.

“For the first time in the history of Nigeria, a Public Hearing was conducted in the National Assembly to get the input of Nigerians in the budgetary process. Further reforms introduced include the details of the Appropriation Act being available to all members before passage in plenary; the requirement that members of each Committee should sign the Report of their Committees before being sent to the Committee on Appropriations.

“All these novel measures are unprecedented in the history of our Parliament. These proactive measures ensured that the House’s debate and consideration of the 2017 budget proposal presented by the President was evidence based and geared towards galvanizing the economy for greater growth” Dogara stated.

The speaker said that the house will continue to support any activities, Bills or motions that will contribute in ending poverty, unemployment and stimulate the economy.

“The House has considered and passed several Bills designed to stimulate economic growth and promote competition. These include: The Bill for an Act establishing Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, etc. This legislation has the potential to engender innovation and efficient allocation of resources, eliminate barriers to entry and restrictive trade practices in our market. Several Bills and Resolutions aimed at improving ease of doing business in Nigeria have been passed and more are in the works.

Realising that underemployment is as grave a problem as unemployment, we in the House have introduced a Bill on new minimum wage Bill to promote the welfare and well-being of Nigerian Workers especially in light of changing economic realities. For us it is unacceptable that the average Nigerian worker is shut out from the promise of democracy, which is: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Our democracy must be made to work for all Nigerians including our workers who must have the tools with which to pursue happiness while in active service or in retirement.

The pledged that the house will always support the executive on the war against corruption which has eaten deep into the fabrics of the system.

“One other challenge that the country has had to grapple with is corruption. Our legislative response has been by way of legislation and Resolutions. Many Bills in this respect have been passed, and many are still in the mill. Some motions have led to the series of investigative Hearings that are ongoing. Besides we have injected oversight emphasis in that direction.

“This 8th House of Representatives introduced Sectoral Debates. The idea is to get Ministers to share their vision and how they intend to achieve them so that Parliament can hold them accountable to goals they themselves have set. The first phase of the debate on diversification of the Nigerian economy has been concluded. The other phases are scheduled in the next Session.

He thanked his colleagues for the peaceful cohesion which the 8th Assembly has enjoyed, and challenged all to sustain it.

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Army sentences 1 soldier to death, 4 others get various jail terms

AHMED MARI, Maiduguri

In its efforts to maintain discipline in the theatre of war against terrorists in the North-East, the General Court Martial of 7 Division of the Nigerian Army has sentenced a soldier to death for murdering suspected Boko Haram terrorist and 4 others for various sentences.

Delivering his Judgment at the Garrison Command in Maiduguri on Friday,  the President Court Martial, Brigadier General Olusegun Adeniyi, said the court has found Hilary Joel guilty of murder for setting ablaze a suspected Boko Haram terrorist, while on condone and search mission in Damboa town.

He said the court while tempering justice with mercy is also mindful of ensuring discipline within the Nigerian Army; as the deceased was discovered not to be a Boko Haram suspect and that he was at the scene of incident just on visit.

A trooper Chima Daniel was also sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for torturing to death a 13 year old teenager, Yakubu Isah from Zabarmari village of Jere local Government area of Borno State for alleged stealing of mobile phone.

Others include Sergeant Balanga  Samuel whose rank was reduced from Sgt to Corporal to Private for deserting his duty post in Kareto for 43 days and for abandoning Rocket Propel Grenade (RPG).  Corporal Audu Aliyu rank was also reduced  from Corporal to Private for assaulting the minors, Babale Mustapha, Sani Mustapha and Yakubu Isah all in Zabarmari villages.

While Private Sunday Oguche was sentenced to five and two years’ imprisonment for illegal possession of 641, 7.6mm of ammunitions and stealing a mobile phone, the sentences are to run concurrently.

The President of the General Court Martial said all the sentences were subject to confirmation of the Military high authority.

Speaking on the outcome of the judgment, the Human Right representative, Barrister Jummai Mshelia , commended the military for ensuring discipline and tempering justice with mercy.

She said: “I commend the efforts of the military for ensuring Justice in trying its soldiers, the trial was done in transparent manner and the family of the deceased will know justice has been done to the deceased”.

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Oyo declares June 12 public holiday

The Oyo State Government has declared Monday, June 12, 2017 as a work-free day.

In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Olalekan Alli, said that Governor Abiola Ajimobi approved Monday as work-free day to commemorate the annulment of the anniversary of the June 12, 1993 elections, which was generally believed to have been won by late Chief MKO Abiola.

The government said the anniversary was also in recognition and honour of the martyrdom of Chief Abiola, who laid down his life for Nigerians to enjoy the democratic dividends of today.

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Drama in court as wrong suspect is arraigned for armed robbery

There was a mild drama at the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court on Wednesday when prosecution lawyer, Adebayo Arun, wrongly arraigned a suspect before Justice Sedoten Ogunsanya for allegedly dispossessing one Oyedele Akintunde of his unregistered Toyota Camry car at gun point along the Oshodi-Abeokuta expressway in Lagos. Continue reading “Drama in court as wrong suspect is arraigned for armed robbery”