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Energy crisis: minister denies Kwasi Kwarteng lied over Treasury claims

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Energy crisis: minister denies Kwasi Kwarteng lied over Treasury claims

A minister has sought to play down splits between government departments over support for firms struggling with fast-rising energy prices, denying that the business secretary had lied and blaming a spat between the Treasury and business department on “unnamed sources”.

In extraordinary events on Sunday, after the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said he was consulting the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, about what help could be offered, Treasury sources openly rejected this and accused Kwarteng of “making things up”.

Asked if this meant Kwarteng had lied, the Home Office minister Damian Hinds said: “Of course not.”

Hinds, who also defended Boris Johnson’s decision to go on holiday to Spain for the week, told Sky News: “These unnamed sources stories come out from time to time. The fact is, government departments, government ministers, talk to each other the whole time, and of course with an issue like this, with these rising global prices and business having to grapple and deal with it to make sure they break even and can make a margin, of course that is something that the business secretary – and of course the energy secretary – is going to be totally focused on.”

Many businesses, particularly those with high energy needs, have expressed alarm at the pace of increase in energy prices, warning they could affect production. Some have said the businesses department did not seem aware of the extent of the crisis.

However, after pressure from businesses, which said they were likely to be forced to suspend production if costs remained high, he had promised to examine their suggestions and ask the Treasury to consider some of their demands, including a cut to green levies and a request that the energy regulator, Ofgem, replicates the network tariff discounts offered to competitor industries in the EU.

Gareth Stace, the director general of UK Steel, which represents the sector, said companies wanted parity with trading conditions experienced by EU competitors. “We’re asking very much the same, because when government says, ‘We’re not going to do any bailouts’, that’s not what we’re asking for,” Stace said.

“What we’re asking for is, ‘Hey, government, we’ve been telling you for a decade that your policies add something like £55m that we pay in the UK, as the steel sector, that our competitors in, say, Germany don’t pay.’ Historically that puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”

He called on Johnson to “bang ministerial heads together, take control and remember that if he does nothing, then his levelling-up ambition will be left in tatters”.

The prime minister is on holiday this week, reportedly staying at a luxury villa in the south of Spain owned by Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative former MP who Johnson made a peer and kept on as a government minister after he lost his Commons seat.

Hinds defended the timing of the holiday, telling Sky: “When is the right time? I think it is important that people do have an opportunity to be with their families to have some relaxing, unwinding,

“But I wouldn’t want to overstate the amount of unwinding and relaxing you get to do as prime minister because, as I say, you are constantly in touch, you are constantly being briefed and you remain in charge of the government.

“What is important for the rest of us actually, for the whole country, is that the prime minister does get to have some family time, does get to have a break.”

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Military destroys illegal refining sites in Rivers

The air component of Nigeria’s military special taskforce, “Operation Delta Safe’’ bombarded several illegal oil refining sites and other bases of economic saboteurs in Rivers on Friday and Saturday.

Director, Public Relations and Information at the Nigerian Air Force, AVM Edward Gabkwet, stated on Sunday in Abuja that the air strikes diminished the capabilities of oil thieves significantly.

He assured that the strikes ensured that economic saboteurs would no longer be able to burst pipelines to steal crude oil.

Gabkwet stated that an illegal refining site was destroyed at Idama community and four boats which reconnaissance found to have been loaded with illegally-refined products were equally destroyed.

“Similar reconnaissance missions were conducted over Ogbomkiri community where an active illegal refining site was identified and destroyed.

“Reconnaissance over the Arugbana community showed that oil thieves were trying to set up an illegal refining site and, on sighting the approaching aircraft, they scampered to safety.

Several illegal sites were also observed at Samkiri community and were engaged and destroyed.

“In all, about seven illegal refining sites and four boats were discovered and destroyed in the two-day operation,’’ Gabkwet added.

 

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Aiyedatiwa stops pastors from wearing cassock, appoints self general overseer

Nebuchadnezzar, infamous figure immortalized in the Bible, commands recognition as the Babylonian monarch whose relentless conquests laid waste to the temple of Jerusalem, seizing its sacred relics as spoils of war.

Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a great tree that shelters the whole world. But an angelic “watcher” appears and decrees that the tree must be cut down and that for seven years, he will have his human mind taken away and will eat grass like an ox.

The holy Bible generously describes and expounds a Chapel or Temple as the hallowed sanctuary of the Almighty. It is reserved for the reverential observance of sacred rites and solemn covenants deemed too divine for mundane settings. In all Chapels or Temples all over the world, these consecrated edifices are sanctuaries apart, shielded from the profane clamor of the secular world.

But an archetype of Nebuchadnezzar may have surreptitiously crept into Ondo without anyone noticing. While asking questions on what motivated the biblical Nebuchadnezzar to desecrate the holy Chapel or Temple of God, we are compelled to confront the actions of His Excellency (Hon.) Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa vis-à-vis the recent happenings inside the Government House Chapel.

In a bold and audacious move that is only comparable to that of Nebuchadnezzar, Governor Aiyedatiwa decreed that ordained priests, including Rev. Babalola of the Anglican Communion and Canon Enoch Adeleke of the Methodist Church, discard their traditional vestments, known as Casoc, in favor of resplendent native attire—Agbada & Sokoto—during sacred ceremonies.

This sweeping directive challenges the entrenched doctrines upheld by Orthodox Churches, igniting a maelstrom of doubt and apprehension. Many ponder whether this decree signals a bid to sideline and subjugate Christians within the precincts of the Ondo State Government House, potentially paving the way for the infiltration of unfamiliar beliefs.

It is important to note that the Government House Chapel predates Governor Aiyedatiwa’s tenure. It is equally worthy of note to state that none of his predecessor, be it an Executive Governor or Military Administrator, had dared to enact such a seismic shift from the norm.

The questions presently agitating the minds of Christians within and outside Ondo state is if the Governor would have dared to wield such authority within a Mosque?

In response to this seismic upheaval, Christians across Ondo State and beyond are implored to maintain vigilance. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) must rise up against what is perceived as a grievous affront to the tenets of Christianity.

Adding to the intrigue, Aiyedatiwa proclaimed one fateful morning that he had been anointed by God to assume the mantle of General Overseer (GO) of the chapel. His subsequent participation in conducting last week’s Sunday service casts doubt upon his jurisdiction in matters of faith, casting a pall of uncertainty over Orthodox Churches.

But beyond this, the governor is said to have imported some strange-looking creatures to form part of the clergy. An inside source disclosed that the men were indeed imported from India as part of a larger team of prayer warriors ahead of the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress.

An elder in the chapel, who pleaded not to be named, said the governor has become paranoid about how church matters are run in the chapel.

“It is surprising what is driving the governor recently. He is carrying out changes that are aliens to the order of service in the chapel.

Recently, some strange people were brought into the chapel. Some people said they were part of of his prayer warriors. It was later that we gathered that they were from India. We have never seen anything like this before,” the elder said.

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Pregnant woman, widow arrested over N3.2m counterfeit cash, lethal illicit substance

… As NDLEA recovers 900,000 opioid pills, 1,347.4kg cannabis in Kano, Kogi, Imo, Edo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti raids

Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, have intercepted a commercial bus conveying N3.2million counterfeit cash owned by three suspects: eight-month pregnant Favour Peter, 24; Esther Adukwu, 27, and Ochigbo Michael, 39, who were arrested at Jabi park in Abuja in a follow up operation on Tuesday 9th April following the seizure of the fake naira notes in Lokoja, Kogi state.

This is even as NDLEA officers in collaboration with men of the Nigerian Navy Ship Lugard base, Lokoja intercepted 37-year-old Aliyu Lawal along Lokoja-Abuja road on Monday 8th April and recovered 620 blocks of cannabis weighing 310kg from him, while 10 sacks of the same psychoactive substance weighing 98kg were seized along Okene-Lokoja-Abuja express way by NDLEA operatives from Jama Obodo, 44, in a commercial bus coming from Ilesha, Osun state enroute Taraba state on Wednesday 10th April.

In Cross River state, a 40-year-old widow and mother of two, Mrs. Theodora Ita was on Monday 8th April arrested at Bassey Edom, Calabar, by NDLEA operatives for producing and selling a lethal new psychoactive substance, NPS, locally called ‘Combine’, which is a mixture of different strains of cannabis and opioids soaked in raw gin. As at the time of her arrest, 18 litres of the dangerous substance in used paint drums were recovered from her.

In her statement, she claimed she started the illicit drug production and distribution in October 2023. Another suspect, Godwin Okon Samuel, 48, was apprehended at Essit Ebum area of Calabar with 39.4kg of cannabis sativa on Tuesday 9th April.

While two suspects: Sani Mohammed, 43, and Christopher Eze, 64, were arrested in Sabon Gari area of Kano on Tuesday 9th April with 900,000 pills of opioid recovered from them, NDLEA operatives on patrol along Owerri-Onitsha road, Imo state on Friday 12th April intercepted a logistics truck with registration number JGB 403XB and recovered 230 blocks of cannabis sativa weighing 119kg hidden under household items after a thorough search.

At least 252 kilograms of cannabis were seized during a raid at Ijesa Isu forest, Ekiti state on Saturday 13th April while four suspects: Adamu Umar, 39; Abdullahi A Gimba, 27; Julius Uduakhomu, 28; and Micheal Sunday, 24, were nabbed loading 40kg of same substance to the engine compartment of a gas truck at Agho village, Owan East, Edo state.

Two motorcycles used in conveying the consignment to where the gas truck heading to the North was parked, were also recovered.

In Ogun state, a suspect, Ismaila Ogun was arrested on Friday 12th April with 79kg cannabis at Imeko, while 18-year-old Friday Abah was nabbed with 410kg of the same substance when NDLEA operatives raided Obatedo camp, Itaogbolu forest, Akure North LGA, Ondo state.

With the same zeal, the various commands of the Agency across the country
continued with the War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, advocacy campaign in the past week. Some of them include: WADA sensitisation lecture for students and staff of Gboko Polytechnic, Gboko, Benue state; officers and men of 15 Engineering Field Regiment Nigerian Army, Topo, Badagry Lagos; meat butchers at Odo Eran abattoir, Osogbo, Osun state and WADA advocacy visit to Kogi state Governor, Ahmed Usman Ododo, among others.

While commending the officers and men of the Kogi, Cross River, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Imo, Kano, and Edo Commands of the Agency for their outstanding feats in drug supply reduction, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) equally applauded them and their counterparts in all the commands across the country for intensifying their WADA advocacy lectures, aimed at drug demand reduction.

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