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EU pledges to support Nigeria recover stolen assets, curb illicit financial flows

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The European Union has pledged to support Nigeria in recovering its stolen assets in foreign countries, tackle corruption, curb illicit financial flows, and enhance credible elections in the country.

Ms Samuela Isopi, Head of the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, disclosed this on Friday, in Abuja at the end of the 6th round of the Nigeria-EU Human Rights dialogue.

Isopi said that at the end of the dialogue, Nigeria and the representatives of the EU Countries also came up with resolutions on human rights, safe migration, humanitarian situation, and issues of mutual concerns.

She said that the EU was very much interested in strengthening cooperation and engagement with Nigeria on regional and international forum.

“We discussed democratic governance, in view of the upcoming general elections.

“We reaffirmed our commitments, as you know, the European Union has been engaged in supporting Nigeria democratic governance since the return to civilian rule in 1999, with election monitoring that has helped Nigeria improve its overall framework and electoral process.

“We had discussions on corruption and impact of corruption on our societies. We also touched upon ways in which we can cooperate.

“I had the opportunity to reiterate the fact that the European Union is strongly supporting the efforts taken by the Nigerian government to tackle corruption through several programmes,” she said.

She pledged to continue to support the efforts that will be undertaken by the new administration.

“On the issue of asset recovery which is very important, and from our side we reassured Nigerian partners of our engagement to see how we can better work together and we identified some of the pathways that we could explore for these to be done.

“On migration, we can say that the engagements we have with Nigeria is very positive and we are satisfied with the improvements and progress that we have been making together on many issues.

“We concluded that we are both committed to a comprehensive migration partnership to tackle all the different dimension of migration.

“We affirmed our commitments to help address the current humanitarian crises and from our side we underline the importance of humanitarian access and respect of international humanitarian law,” Isopi said.

Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said that the Nigerian government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari would continue to work to ensure that all Nigerians are not denied their inalienable rights.

Onyeama who was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, said that the Buhari led administration had made giant in the past decade to improve the election process and integrity.

“Security agencies are also working to ensure that people will be able to carry out their civic responsibility without fear. They are ready to act swiftly to protect life and properties around the country during the election,” Onyeama said.

Amb. Samson Itegboje, Director, International Organization Division (IOD) in the Ministry said that the Nigeria-EU dialogue is a platform for Nigeria and the European Union to constructively engage on issues of mutual concerns on human rights and related matters.

He said that also importantly discussed was how the European Union can support Nigeria contain illicit financial flow, help Nigeria recover its stolen assets abroad and the assets returned to Nigeria.

“During today’s meeting, Nigeria used the opportunity of the dialogue to inform that it was prepared for the 2023 General Elections, and the INEC and security agencies were ready for the elections.

“Containment of illicit finical flow and asset recoveries were key to ensuring that needed financing to better the lives of populace were possible.

“Nigeria requested that European Countries should simplify evidential requirements and other mutual legal assistance as appropriate in order to facilitate international cooperation for timely recovery and return of recovered assets.

“Nigeria expects that all migrants, regardless of the migration circle must be respected and protected across all stages, they must also be firm commitments to eliminating all forms of discriminations against migrants including racism, intolerance and xenophobia.

“We had a lot of conversation on this and we are very pleased that the European Union is doing a lot in this direction to ensure that migrants enjoy the same rights.

“Both parties agreed that it is important to cooperate with each other and share experiences and global best practices necessary for developing capacity to ensure that our people live in dignity no matter their circumstances,” Itegboje said.

 

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Emirate crisis: FG will be held responsible for violence in Kano – Atiku

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Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has said that the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government would be held responsible if violence breaks out in Kano State over the emirate crisis.

Atiku said Tinubu’s government was inviting anarchy to Kano State by providing security for the deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero.

On Friday, Governor Abba Yusuf had deposed Bayero while reinstating Lamido Sanusi as the 15th Emir of Kano.

Posting on X, Atiku cautioned the federal government against destabilising Kano State.

According to Atiku: “The action of the Federal Government in deploying soldiers in Kano in the tussle over the throne of the ancient city is an upset to the peace and security of the state, and also in breach of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.

“The foregoing circumstances happened within the confines of the law and in compliance with the powers conferred on the governor as provided by Section 5(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended; and also in consultation with the kingmakers of Kano, reappointed Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (also known as Muhammadu Sanusi II) as the 16th Emir of Kano State and accordingly handed him a letter of appointment.

“It is surprising that in the early hours of today, exactly at about 5:30 am the former Emir of Kano, His Majesty Aminu Ado Bayero, backed by Federal might made their way into the Nasarawa Palace of the Kano Emirate while the reappointed Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi II was at the Gidan Dabo, which is the main residence of the Emir of Kano.

“In this wise, the former Emir could not have made his way into the Nasarawa Palace without the support of the Federal Government having done so with the support of the army and other security personnel in his company. The deployment of soldiers in extra constitutional matters such as this undermines the integrity of the Nigerian military.

“We need to remind the Tinubu administration that Kano State is known for peace and harmony spanning thousands of years and any attempt to destablise the peace of the Land of Commerce shall be resisted. Recall that Muhammadu Sanusi II was dethroned on 9th March, 2020: dethroned, Kano forged on in peace without any fracas.

“We wish to state unequivocally that if for any reason, law and order breaks down in Kano State, particularly Kano Municipal, the Federal Government should be held responsible as the act of providing security cover to the former Emir, Aminu Ado Bayero to come back to Kano is an invitation to anarchy.”

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Justice’ll prevail – Deposed Kano Emir Bayero breaks silence

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The deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero, has said justice will prevail over the issue surrounding the emirates in the state.

Bayero urged relevant authorities to ensure justice because nobody is above the law.

Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State had dethroned Bayero as the 15th Emir of the state.

Speaking on Saturday, the deposed Emir urged residents to maintain law and order. He spoke at the mini-palace where he has since returned to after his dethronement.

According to Ado-Bayero: “I call on the people to remain law-abiding while awaiting the outcome of the legal process in this tussle.

“We call on the authority to do justice in this matter. Kano is a very influential state in Nigeria. Whatever affects Kano affects Nigeria. May peace reign in Kano. We pray for Allah to bless Kano with responsible and just leaders.

“Justice is the way to go on every issue. There will be justice. Nobody is above the law. We will accept whatever the law says. I appreciate all the people who have shown concern. As I said, justice will take its course. We will keep on praying for peace in Kano State. May Allah the Almighty protect us.”

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Nigerian airports most expensive globally – NAHCO

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Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc has set an N100 billion revenue target within the next five years.

The projection was made known by the Group chairman of the company, Dr Seinde Fadeni, at the sideline of its Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on Saturday.

In achieving this, the company noted that it had concluded plans to diversify its investment portfolio to create new jobs and contribute significantly to resolving the country’s foreign exchange crisis.

NAHCO which was established in 1979, provides aviation cargo, aircraft handling, passenger facilitation, crew transportation, refuelling and aviation training services from its base at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

According to Fadeni, the company is convinced that the food export holds significant potential for foreign exchange earnings because of its impact on the livelihoods and prosperity of Nigerians.

He said though the company is navigating safely around the myriad of challenges confronting the air transport space, he urged the government to look at ways to improve airport infrastructure and reduce the financial burden for airlines and passengers to keep pace with the future growth plan.

He said ” NAHCO believes that the government at the centre should work towards reducing the financial burden for airlines and passengers by reviewing applicable taxes. This way, more payees would be brought into the tax net. Not too long ago, the International Air Transport Association declared that Nigerian airports charge foreign airlines about 27 levies.

“This makes Nigerian airports the most expensive in the world, discouraging airlines from flying into the country. This is not the kind of laurel Nigeria should be proud of. It is a disincentive to investment for both active and prospective investors. The government should address this situation. Government should also heed the industry’s calls for the harmonisation of the regulatory environment, particularly at the ports in a way that aligns with global best practices. The nation’s Ease of Doing Business mantra should be in practice and not in theory only.”

He further said that though multiple cost-related challenges characterised 2023, the increased cost of handling an aircraft cannot be easily passed on to the airline by ground handling companies because any proposed rate hike would require the approval of the industry regulator – Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

He said, “The very act of getting new rates approved has its challenges as well. It is therefore not uncommon to see ticket prices rising geometrically while ground handling rates charged by service providers to airlines remain solidly stagnant.

“Our push towards birthing a global integrated logistic giant is taking good shape with the coming into operations of new subsidiaries.”

Also speaking, its Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Indranil Gupta said the company intends to diversify investment into other sectors of the economy to grow.

“We will continue to leverage our strength and market insights to pursue organic and strategic growth initiatives to expand our market presence and revenue streams

“We plan to comprehensively refresh our fleet of ground support equipment to replace ageing equipment and increase the numbers in our fleet to meet the ever-increasing customer needs and expectations.

“We are already embracing digitalisation and innovation, investing in cutting-edge technologies and solutions to enhance our service offerings, operational efficiency and competitiveness. By harnessing the power of data analytics, automation and predictive maintenance, we aim to stay ahead of the industry trends and deliver superior value to our clients ”

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