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Protests: Emefiele, Kyari allay INEC’s fear over Naira-Fuel scarcity

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…One dies, many injured in Abeokuta  protest

…Fresh protest in Sango-Ota, Lagos, Ondo, others

…Apex bank promises availability of cash for seamless electoral transactions

…Emergency situations require immediate cash payments – INEC Boss

…Fuel scarcity to subside next week — NNPCL

…As INEC reiterates commitment towards credible elections

…Buhari meets Emefiele, Tambuwal, Bagudu, Bawa

…Opposition using Naira scarcity for political game — FG

Joel Oladele, Olaseinde Gbenga – Abuja,

Amidst fears that the scarcity of Naira and Premium Motor  Spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol, may foist a postponement of the general elections from the scheduled dates of February 25th and March 11, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and his counterpart, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari, have allayed the fears of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, over glitches the scarcity of Naira and fuel may cause the general elections.

Despite the assurance, there were while Emefiele reassured INEC of his commitment to give necessary support towards the success of the 2023 general elections with availability of the new Naira notes, Kyari has promised fuel scarcity would, by next week, subside.

However, protest in Abeokuta, in Ogun State resulted in the death of a protester hit by a gunshot. During the protest, First Bank at Asero in Abeokuta  was vandalised and several roads within the town  were blocked with burning fire. At Sango-Ota, most banks were hurriedly shut down following attacks on staff of a first generation bank at Joju in Sango-Ota.

Also, Ibadan witnessed another of protest by customers frustrated by the absence of new Naira notes.

Meanwhile, Emefiele made his commitment during a visit of the INEC’s Chairman, Professor Yakubu to his office on Tuesday in Abuja.

He noted that the CBN regards the INEC’s project as a topmost national assignment and will not want to be seen as an agent working against a smooth electoral process.

Emiefele said that the apex bank will not allow itself to be used to frustrate the forthcoming general elections.

Responding to a request from Yakubu that the CBN should find a way of addressing scarcity of currency across the country 17 days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections since some service providers to the commission were “unbanked,” he said the CBN will make available every cash needed to pay logistics for the success of the elections.

Emefiele added that CBN has never disappointed INEC in the past and this will not be an exemption, especially when it comes to storage and transportation of election materials.

“The relationship between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) dates back to even before I became the Central Bank Governor. And those relationships, I will say are those that border purely on trust and confidence and we appreciate and truly do appreciate the fact that the INEC, supported by the Nigerian populace have the trust and confidence in the ability of the Central Bank in playing the roles that we have played for you, or through you to the Nigerian populace to ensure that our elections hold without any hitches and I will be very specific.

“Before now, we’ve been involved in the storage of INEC election materials, not just in storage, the Central Bank of Nigeria has also been involved using its armoured Bullion Vans in transporting those electoral materials. We are happy that in the course of this relationship, we have not disappointed you and that is the reason you have come again this time.

“Now, aside from the issue of storage of  election materials to get our transportation of this election materials from CBN locations to your own specific or designated locations where you want these materials to be, I know that just a few months ago, I visited your office and you raised the issue of how Foreign Exchange can be procured to you to import your BVAS or other forms of election material that need to be imported and I gave you my word that Foreign Exchange will be provided for that purpose.

“I stand here or I sit here to confirm that as at today, not one dollar is owed,  all dollars that are needed to import those items have been provided and those items have been imported. So it’s all part of our commitment.

“Now this issue of logistics for people who are going to be transporting election materials even to the wards and all that. And, certainly the assurance I gave to you is that because we regard the INEC project as a topmost or an urgent national assignment, it cannot fail and the Central Bank will not allow itself either to be used or to be seen as an agent that frustrates a positive outcome of that election.

“So, I sit here to give you that commitment, that whatever you need like you call, you have been responsible in the past anyway. It’s not just about cash, you’ve done electronic payments before and if in this case, after making your electronic payments, you require some money to pay transporters in this case, the assurance I give to you is that we will make it available,” Emefiele assured.

…Emergency situations requires immediate cash payments — INEC Boss

Earlier in his address, the INEC Chairman has said while the cashless policy might work in carrying out some Electoral transactions, there are emergency situations that may arise requiring immediate cash payments and some of the critical service providers are unbanked, thus the need to make cash available.

He added that the Commission is determined to make the 2023 general election one of the best organised elections in Nigeria and they are leaving no stone unturned towards achieving this feat.

“We are encouraged by the continued willingness of the apex bank to support the Commission’s determination to deliver credible elections on 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023,  particularly, the facilitation of activities necessary for the success of the election.

“The Nigerian election is a huge and complex undertaking that requires the engagement of critical services. And in line with the provisions of the extant laws and regulations, service providers are generally paid by means of electronic transfer to the accounts.

“However, there are equally critical areas, such as transportation and human support services that have to be immediately remunerated, either partially or in full before services are rendered.

“In addition, emergency situations may arise requiring immediate cash payments, some of the critical service providers are unbanked. Over the years, we have worked with the Central Bank of Nigeria and commercial banks to pay for such services seamlessly during general elections, as well as off-cycle and by-elections.

“Over the years, the Commission has also migrated all its accounts at national and state level to the Central Bank of Nigeria and this arrangement has worked without encumbrances to our activities.

“In view of the recent policy, involving  the redesign of some denominations of our national currency, and the limits placed on cash withdrawals and availability, we consider this meeting important in addressing some of the areas of concern with just 17 days to the 2023 general election.

“We are confident that arising from this meeting, we can assuage the anxiety expressed by some of our service providers.

“We are determined to make the 2023 general election, one of the best organised elections in Nigeria, but we cannot do it alone. That is why the Commission is mobilising every critical national institution for the success of the election,” Yakubu said

…Fuel scarcity to subside next week — NNPCL

Meanwhile, on fuel scarcity, the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, has assured Nigerians that the lingering fuel scarcity will subside next week.

Kyari in a video clip shown on Channels Television on Tuesday evening, who however said he could not assure that the queues at the fuel stations would disappear, said there would be significant improvement in the next one week

He said, “Now within the next one week, I’m not saying that you’re going to have zero queues within the next one week, no, because a number of things are out of our control, and of course the market forces will determine some of these issues.

“But I believe that we’re going to see substantial and  relative ease compared to today in the next one week. I apologise for the situation on behalf of all of us in the oil and gas industry.”

The lingering fuel scarcity and that of Naira notes have posed on the masses untoward hardship rendering many stranded, instigating protest in some parts of the Country with destruction of properties.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, had told Nigerians last week Friday to give him seven days to resolve the Naira scarcity crisis.

However, two days left to the completion of the seven days requested  by the President, the situation has worsened with rising protest across the Country.

…As Buhari meets Emefiele, Tambuwal, Bagudu, Bawa

In consultation, President Buhari on Tuesday met again with the CBN Governor, over the scarcity of Naira notes in the country.

In attendance were also Governor of Sokoto State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Aminu Tambuwal; Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu; the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor; and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa.

Following the meeting which took place at the council chamber of the state house, none of the parties in attendance agreed to speak with journalists.

…Opposition using Naira scarcity for political game — FG

Meanwhile, the Federal Government, on Tuesday, accused opposition political parties that went to court to restrain President Muhammadu Buhari, from stopping, extending or interfering with the Naira swap deadline date, of being inconsiderate.

It also accused the parties of politicising the situation, stressing that they were not mindful of the plight of Nigerians over the currency crunch, but have turned the situation into an instrument of political game.

Recall that on Monday, 14 political parties threatened to boycott the February 25 election should the CBN extend the February 10 deadline for the currency swap which it had earlier announced.

This was just as a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory restrained the President, the CBN, its Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and 27 commercial banks from suspending, stopping, extending or interfering with the currency swap terminal date.

The order was handed down on Monday by Justice E. Enenche following an application by four political parties.

Reacting to this, while speaking at the 23rd edition of the PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023), which featured the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the action by the political parties was unscrupulous.

He said, “Recall that after his (Buhari) meeting with the Progressives Governors’ Forum on Friday, President Buhari urged the citizens to give him a seven-day window to resolve the currency crunch that has emanated from the implementation of the Naira redesign policy.

“Unfortunately, on Monday, some opposition political parties ran to court to obtain an injunction restraining Mr President and the CBN from extending the February 10 deadline for Nigerians to exchange their old notes for new ones.

“These curious actions by the parties concerned are a clear evidence that the opposition has turned this whole issue into a political game, preferring to make Nigerians suffer more on the altar of an unconscionable political gamesmanship.

“Or how else can one explain the fact that these unscrupulous opposition parties do not want any action that could reduce the pains being experienced by Nigerians?

“How else can one explain the fact that they have decided to legally hamstring Mr President, in particular, from providing any relief for Nigerians suffering from the cash crunch?”

He argued that it was bad politics when one puts the interest of desperate political parties over and above that of Nigerians.

He, however, stated that despite the antics of the opposition, the government was willing and able to take decisive steps to bring succour to Nigerians in the shortest possible time.

“Government is working assiduously to restore normalcy to these critical enablers of economic activity and to take added measures, where necessary, to alleviate the pains of Nigerians,” he stated.

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State Police: Nigeria immature for implementation, will be abused by Governors — IGP

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…As Fmr President Jonathan, Abdusalam harp on independence of Police, increased funding

By Adeyanju Esther

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun has stated that Nigeria is immature to have a state controlled Police force.

The IGP was responding to recent calls advocating for the creation of State Police to tackle the rising insecurity and banditry across the country.

Recall that some state Governors had previously embarked on creating security services but have been unsuccessful on making them legally recognised, prominent of which is the Amotekun Corps set up by South-West Governors.

Speaking during a national dialogue on state police organised by the House of Representatives in Abuja, with the theme: ‘Pathways to Peace: Reimagining Policing in Nigeria,’ Egbetokun, represented by Ben Okolo, an assistant inspector-general of police, said Nigeria is not ready for a decentralised police force.

He said, “It is the submission of the leadership of the Nigeria police force that Nigeria is yet to mature for the establishment of state-controlled police.”

The IGP listed some of the challenges as inadequate manpower, inadequate operational equipment such as vehicles, arms and ammunition, communication equipment, drones, aerial surveillance cameras, security surveillance helicopters, armoured vehicles, and inadequate training of personnel.

He added that state police would create a conflict of jurisdiction and be open to abuse by state governors.

However, Minister of Police Affairs, Ibrahim Gaidam, countered Egbetokun’s stance with advocacy for state police. Gaidam argued that decentralising the police force was imperative to effectively combat the rising tide of insecurity. He stressed the need for tailored, localized approaches to policing to address the diverse security challenges facing different regions of Nigeria.

However, concerns were raised about the potential of such a merger as proposed by Egbetokun on the autonomy and efficacy of the respective organizations.

Also speaking, Former President of Nigeria, Goodwick Jonathan declared that the issue of state police is non-negotiable.

Jonathan noted that for state police to be implemented, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must be rejigged.

“So if we are talking about state police, we must also rejig INEC, and the police must not be used against or to the advantage of any political party.

“The issue of voting, the polling booths of INEC, and the use of police during elections has to be reviewed by the National Assembly.

“So the National Assembly needs to look into all these. These are the areas that we have to concentrate on. The issue of the need for states to have their own police is not negotiable. There is no way we can continue this kidnapping that is going on in this country,” Jonathan said.

Former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (retd) also rechoed the opinions of Former President Jonathan.

Abdulsalam opined that the success of the state police is hinged on adequate funding.

He said that in order to make peace and security in any nation, the governance must be transparent, must have honesty, accountability and all that it takes to make citizens comfortable in order to go on with their daily business to earn their legitimate earnings.

He added that the citizens of any country have the responsibility and that responsibility is to ensure the maintenance of peace and order and this can be done by upholding the Constitution, laws and orders, and regulations.

“Not only that, citizens should not vandalise any property or establishment provided by the various governments. It is our responsibility to be each other’s keepers and ensure that there is equity and the maintenance of issues provided by the various governments,” Abubakar said.

He further called that the traditional rulers should be carried along in achieving that state police.

“Indeed, our royal fathers have a lot of responsibilities in ensuring the maintenance of peace and order. As a young child growing up in a rural community, we see the role of these royal fathers in the various arms ‘of their governments,’ where when a stranger enters a village, within hours, the village head knows about that stranger and through their means of communication, the Emir is aware,” the ex-Head of State said.

“I think, as much as we are talking of establishing State Police, we should also look into the role vis-a-vis our royal fathers.

“President Jonathan has mentioned the relationship of what I was to say to politicians vis-a-vis the local police if we decide to have them. It is absolutely necessary for the politicians as much as possible to avoid exerting influence on the ways the police are going to operate if at all we agree to have the police.

“Although President Jonathan has already concluded that it’s the operational standards that we are going to discuss. I think we must really give it a thought to have to operationalise these police if we decide to have them,” AbdulSalam said.

In the same vein, Vice President, Kashim Shettima pledged the commitment of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration to reform the Police Force and enhance security to achieve a safer and more secured Nigeria for the well being of citizens.

According to him, Tinubu believes that the path to effective security is through adaptive reforms catering to Nigeria’s diverse circumstances.

This, he said, can only be achieved by carefully reviewing various options in the Nigerian context. He said this inclusive approach will guide the country to have a policing system that is most effective and respectful.

“Your interest in the issue of state policing underscores your commitment to the security and well-being of citizens. This initiative is not only timely but also speaks to the commitment of the legislative arm for addressing critical national issues through inclusive and collaborative governance,” Shettima said.

“This government under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is actively aware of the complex security issues that abound in places.

“As such, we are continually developing and reminding ourselves of methods to address these challenges effectively. Today’s dialogue is critical to these efforts of providing a platform for robust discussion and innovative thinking regarding the reform of our policing structure. He deserves commendation for his openness and proactive stance towards the idea of reforming and decentralising the police force.

“It gladdens my heart that the 10th House of Representatives under the Speaker Tajudeen Abbas has keyed into this initiative. The involvement of the legislature in executive reforms ensure continuity and synergy. Let us use this opportunity to engage with the seriousness it demands.

“The President is committed to listening to your recommendations and insights invariably to share in the policies that would lead us to a more secure and good society.”

He further explained that the concept of state policing is not merely a policy but a potential revolution of the law enforcement framework which offers the possibility of catering to the diverse means of the nation’s communities.

“As the Vice President, I am deeply interested in the outcomes of today’s discussions. The insights would inform our administration’s approach to supporting legislation and enhancing the capacity of our police force but also strengthen the bonds of trust between the law enforcement and the public.”

“In our deliberations, let us consider the implications of state policing from multiple perspectives. We must invite (stakeholders)…to respond on time to emergencies, adapt to specific local challenges and increase accountability. At the same time we must address concerns related to the standardisation of training, oversight and the safeguarding of our civil liberties.

“We should also see it as an opportunity to listen, understand and focus on the solutions. It is essential that this forum is not the end but the beginning of an ongoing conversation on the issue of police and security sector reform in our country.

“The nature of the stakeholders gathered here today including security experts, religious leaders, civil society representatives, underscores the comprehensive approach to ensure that diverse perspectives are integrated into the policy making process.

“As we continue today’s sessions I urge participants to engage with openness, honesty and insight. The value of this gathering lies in the ability to harness advice and constructive reasoning and suggestions from all quarters. Your contributions today are not merely academic but theoretical discussions of the transformative reforms we aspire to implement.”

He also reiterated the President’s readiness to support and implement meaningful resolutions that would emerge from the dialogue.

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Gunmen kill Babcock lecturer, abduct two in Iperu

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Gunmen have murdered a lecturer from Babcock University Ilisan Remo, Yinka Olowojobi.

The gunmen numbering about eight were said to have invaded Ajadeh Event Centre in Iperu Remo along Sagamu road also abducted two other persons.

The incident, according to a statement from the Spokesperson of Ogun State Police Command, Omolola Odutola, on Monday, happened on Friday, April 19 at about 9:20 pm.

The gunmen were said to have shot Olowojobi in the chest after allegedly resisting to go with them.

The slain Babcock University lecturer alongside one Dare and another person yet to be identified who were abducted were said to be relaxing in the lounge of the event centre when the daredevil gang struck.

Odutola, however, said that the police had picked up one Awada Ishaya from Plateau State as a suspect in the act.

Ishaya was said to have just been employed two weeks ago as a security guard when the event centre was opened.

The statement reads, “A report from the Iperu Division indicates that a kidnapping and murder incident occurred on April 19th, 2024, at about 9:20 pm.

“It was reported that gunshots were heard at the Ajadeh Event Centre on Sagamu Road in the Iperu area in Ogun State.

“Eyewitnesses were able to count eight men dressed in black and armed with guns emerged from an unknown place into the relaxing lounge and open fire indiscriminately, where one person later identified as a lecturer at Babcock University named Olowojobi Yinka, was shot in the chest, for resisting to go away with the hoodlum, at their prompt, while a manager of a car stand, simply known as Dare ‘m’ the third person is yet to be identified.

“A suspicious coincidence led the police to arrest one Awada Ishaya ‘m’ of Plateau State who was employed two weeks ago when the event centre was launched as a security man for further interrogation.

“The lecturer was taken to Babcock University Teaching Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“Efforts are underway to apprehend the culprits and rescue the kidnapped victims. Further updates will be provided as the situation develops.”

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Power devolution: NERC cedes regulatory powers over Enugu to State government

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In a groundbreaking move, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has ceded its regulatory powers of the Enugu electricity market to the Enugu Electricity Regulatory Commission (EERC), which is owned by the state government with effect from May 1, 2024.

This is the first-ever transfer of regulatory powers from the NERC to a state government electricity regulator.

This strategic shift was detailed in a memo released by NERC, bearing signatures from its Chairman, Sanusi Garba, and Commissioner for Legal, Licensing, and Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, dated April 22, 2024.

The transfer is a direct result of recent legislative changes that have decentralised the power sector.

These changes were set into motion in March 2023 when former President Muhammadu Buhari signed amendments to Nigeria’s constitution that removed power generation, transmission, and distribution from the exclusive legislative list, effectively ending the federal government’s sole jurisdiction over these areas.

Under the new legal framework established by the Electricity Act 2023, states now have the authority to manage and regulate their electricity markets.

The amended Paragraph 14(b) Part II of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution empowers state governments to legislate on electricity provision within their territories.

According to NERC, the Enugu Electricity Regulatory Commission (EERC) now holds the exclusive authority to set and adopt end-user electricity tariffs within Enugu State, tailoring these charges to local conditions and requirements.

While EERC manages local tariff methodologies, any electricity sourced from grid-connected plants and the related tariffs for generation and transmission services must still receive approval from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), ensuring alignment with national energy policies.

Ultimately, the final tariffs approved by EERC for consumers in Enugu will be definitive for the state, with the Enugu State Government responsible for supporting and implementing tariff-related policies, ensuring that electricity pricing is both fair and attuned to the specific needs of the state’s residents.

The memo from NERC states, “This regulatory instrument may be cited as the Order of Transfer of Regulatory Oversight of the Electricity Market in Enugu State from NERC to the Enugu State Electricity Regulatory Commission (EERC). This Order shall take effect from May 1, 2024.”

Furthermore, the memo outlines the framework under which states can establish their regulatory authorities and manage the transition of oversight.

According to Section 230 of the Electricity Act 2023, states intending to regulate their electricity markets must notify NERC and the relevant distribution licensee.

NERC is then required to prepare a transition plan within 45 days, detailing the transfer of regulatory responsibilities to the state regulator—a process to be completed within six months of notification.

This decentralisation initiative aims to enhance efficiency and responsiveness in the management of electricity services by aligning regulatory oversight more closely with local needs and conditions.

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