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Agric processing zone designed for food security, job creation – Ekiti govt to warring communities

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The Ekiti State Government has appealed to warring communities and owners of 55,000 hectares of land acquired and designated as an Agricultural Processing Zone to eschew violence, saying the initiative was intended to enhance food security and create jobs in the state.

The government made the appeal on Tuesday while interfacing with angry landlords from Iyemero, Esun, Odo- Oro, Itapaji, Ipao, Oke Ayedun, and Oke Ako Ekiti, who are owners of the sprawling parcels of land acquired by the government to propel the initiative.

The engagement stemmed from a letter received from the Ekiti State Ministry of Agriculture over agitations and displeasure among the land owners in the donor communities, where the lands were acquired.

The communities were led into the meeting by the Olu of Itapaji, Oba AbduKareem Adebanjo, Alaaye of Oke Ayedun, Oba Olufemi Aribisala, Onise of Odo- Oro, Oba Babatunde Jemilehin, and Elesun of Esun, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin.

Others were the regent of Oke Ako Ekiti, Her Royal Highness Tinuade Adebayo, and the Chairman of Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Hon. Michael Ogungbemi.

The Deputy Governor, represented by the Permanent Secretary in her office, Abayomi Opeyemi, said the host communities in Ekiti North Senatorial district will enjoy speedy economic development if they allow the policy to thrive.

Mrs Afuye, in a statement by her Media Aide, Victor Ogunje, said the Ekiti State Technical Committee on Land Matters will visit the expansive land for boundary tracing so that each of the six towns would know their boundaries and what is contained on them.

She said; “When this programme fully begins, it is the host communities that will benefit most in terms of employment and business development. This will also help in curtailing the incidences of kidnappings that were rampant in that axis.

“Let us allow peace to reign by allowing the boundary commission to do the demarcation, so that there will be peace. What we are trying to do is to increase food production and create wealth and jobs for our people through commercial farming.

” I want to assure you that this government will not illegally deprive any community of the rights to ownership of their lands. When the government acquired lands, it is for the public interest.

“I appeal to you, let us be patient with the government. With this engagement, we have known that a lot of issues needed to be handled properly and that we are going to do so before the full commencement of the programme”.

In their responses, the monarchs appealed to the government to adhere strictly to processes guiding the acquisition of lands and as well stop the indiscriminate land clearing in the area before embarking on the demarcation of boundaries among towns.

They lamented that the engagement done for the acquisition of over 5,000 hectares of lands by the government for Agbeyewa Agribusiness Firm from the area under contention was shoddily done and that such should be corrected to foster peace.

“We are not against the government acquiring lands for farming. We know the importance and benefit to the local economy but it has to be properly done. Community engagement, issuance of notice to farmers and payment of compensations to those whose crops will be destroyed are very important issues to consider.

“Government should also look at the famine such action could cause and the environmental and atmospheric implications it will have on these towns because of aggressive tree felling that will be carried out by investors that will move into our lands”.

The Chairman of Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Michael Ogungbemi, urged the monarchs to ensure that nobody takes laws into his hands over the matter in their domains pending the resolution of the disagreement trailing the land matter.

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ECOWAS Court nullifies ECOWAS Commission staff’s dismissal

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.

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Tinubu names National Theatre after Wole Soyinka

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President Bola Tinubu has named the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.

Tinubu announced this in a tribute he wrote to celebrate Soyinka in commemoration of his 90th birthday.

The tribute dated “Professor Wole Soyinka at 90: Tribute to a national treasure and global icon,” was personally signed by the President and made available to journalists on Friday.

Tinubu expressed his delight to join admirers around the world in celebrating Soyinka, adding that July 13 would be the climax of the series of local and international activities held in his honour.

Tinubu wrote, “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth. Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

“It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us. I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria not only celebrates Soyinka’s remarkable literary achievements, but also his unwavering dedication to the values of human dignity and justice.

When he turned 80, I struggled to find words to encapsulate his achievements because they were simply too vast. Since then, he has added to his corpus with his series of Interventions, which have been published in many volumes.

“Professor Soyinka is a colossus, a true renaissance person blessed with innumerable talents. He is a playwright, actor, poet, human rights and political activist, composer, and singer.

“He is a giant best riding not just the literary world but our nation, Africa, and the world,” he averred.

According to the President, Soyinka is one Nigerian whose influence transcends the Nigerian space and who inspires people around the world, explaining that since his youth, he has been a vocal critic of oppression and injustice wherever it exists, from apartheid in South Africa to racism in the United States.

“Beginning from his 20s, he took personal risks for the sake of our nation. His courage was evident when he attempted to broker peace at the start of the civil war in 1967. Detained for two years for his bravery, he narrated his experience in his prison memoir, ‘The Man Died.’

“Despite deprivation and solitary confinement, his resolve to speak truth to power and fight for the marginalised was further strengthened.

“Our paths crossed during our struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,” Tinubu stated.

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Tinubu sympathises with victims of building collapse in Plateau

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President Bola Tinubu receives the news of the tragic collapse of a school building, which resulted in multiple deaths and many surviving victims in Jos, Plateau, with profound grief.

His spokesman, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, in a statement on Friday, said the President described the incident as a huge loss to the nation, as well as a devastating development – too excruciating to imagine.

“The President condoles with the bereaved families, families of all the victims, and the people and Government of Plateau State.

“President Tinubu commends emergency responders, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), security agencies, and all citizens involved in the search, rescue, and resuscitation efforts.

“The President assures the people of Plateau State of his fervent support at this difficult time,” said the statement.

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