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Falana To Tinubu: Reject IMF’s Pressure To Increase Prices Of Fuel, Electricity

The Chairman Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB), Femi Falana, SAN, has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to reject the advice of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, to increase the prices of fuel and electricity in Nigeria.

Falana made this known in a statement he personally signed and sent to Vanguard on Friday.

While disclosing a contrast advice given to UK Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt against cutting taxes by the IMF, Falana warned Tinubu to flatly rejected IMF anti-subsidy campaign in Nigeria. He said: “Sometime in November 2023, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, said that President Bola Tinubu stopped the implementation of a hike in electricity tariff and insisted that subsidy be paid on power consumed nationwide. Adelabu said then “Tariffs should have been raised months back, but Mr President said until we can achieve regular and incremental power supply we can’t touch the tariff.”

“The Minister also said that “But for political reasons and empathy, you can not cause additional burden on Nigerians. We just had the removal of the fuel subsidy, we are talking about the exchange rate skyrocketing, galloping inflation, and so many others that bring hardship to the people.”  On January 1, 2024, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) equally dismissed the widespread rumours of an increase in electricity.

“In the same vein, on February 8, 2024, the Nigerian state-oil company the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited said that it had no plans to raise petrol prices after a second devaluation of the local naira currency in less than a year, following speculation that it could increase prices to recover some of its import costs.

“The NNPC — the sole importer of petrol because local private firms are unable to obtain foreign currency — urged Nigerians to disregard the speculation about price rises, adding that “there are no plans for an upward review of the (petrol) price.”

“However, three days ago, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) directed the Bola Tinubu administration to remove the pump price of fuel and electricity tariffs without any further delay on the grounds that “current subsidized rates are thought to be significantly below the actual market prices. By phasing out these subsidies, the government would allow fuel and electricity prices to align more closely with their true market value, potentially leading to increased costs for consumers.”

“Barely 24 hours later, the Minister of Power, Mr. Adedibu said that Nigeria could not continue to subsidise electricity, adding that the nation must begin to move towards a cost-effective tariff model, as the country is currently indebted to the tune of 1.3 trillion naira to generating companies (GenCos) and 1.3 billion dollars owed gas companies.”

“It is doubtful if the neoliberal ideologues in government are aware of the fact that on January 30, 2024, the IMF warned the UK Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt against cutting taxes, arguing that country needs to curb public borrowing and prioritise spending in areas such as health, education and tackling climate change. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, IMF chief economist, told the Financial Times that the UK’s focus should be on “the path towards a fiscal consolidation” despite expectations that Hunt would cut taxes at his spring Budget.

“Hunt should be “trying to rebuild fiscal buffers . . . in the context in which there are important spending needs”, Gourinchas said, rather than add to the £20bn of personal and business tax cuts delivered in November. We would rather wish they would not do this type of tax cuts, and that they would instead focus on both addressing the spending needs and on the path towards a fiscal consolidation.” “In urging the Bola Tinubu administration to pluck up the courage to reject the dangerous directives of the IMF to further increase the pump price of PMS and electricity tariffs, the international intruder should be questioned for applying different standards to Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Henceforth, the Federal Government should halt the implementation of the dangerous prescriptions of the IMF including the removal of subsidies and floating of the Naira.

“Our economic managers should be wary of the  sort of lectures they receive from the IMF on the matter of subsidies given the realities in some advanced  capitalist economies.

“According to the London-based news agency, Reuters, on  June 8, 2023, the British  government said  that it had paid almost 40 billion pounds ($50 billion) in energy subsidies since it began to help households and businesses cope with the surge in power bills after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The same Reuters reported  last year that the United States’ subsidies for renewable energy producers more than doubled between 2016 and 2022, forming nearly half of all federal energy-related support in that period. Renewable subsidies jumped to $15.6 billion in fiscal year 2022 from $7.4 billion in fiscal year 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy report.

“The French newspaper, Le Monde,  also  reported that on  April 21, 2023, the French government said that it would continue subsidising electricity bills into 2025 as prices suffer from Russia’s invasion of “Ukraine and part of the country’s nuclear reactor fleet remaining offline. The IMF has not called on France to stop subsidising electricity and increase electricity tariffs. So, the IMF anti-subsidy campaign in Nigeria should be flatly rejected. “

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NDLEA destroys 304,436kg, 40, 042 litres of illicit drugs seized in Lagos, Ogun

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on Tuesday 16th April 2024 destroyed a total of 304,436kg kilograms and 40,042 litres of illicit substances seized from parts of Lagos and Ogun states.

Speaking at a brief ceremony where the seized drugs were publicly destroyed in Badagry Lagos, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Brig Gen Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said the open destruction of the seized illicit drugs followed court orders, even as he called for more public support for ongoing efforts by NDLEA and other stakeholders to curb the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.

“Though a routine exercise and an established process of removing dangerous substances from our society, the public destruction of confiscated illicit drugs is usually conducted at the end of their related cases in court”, the NDLEA boss stated adding that the exhibits being destroyed were of mixed types, “which include illicit drugs in solid and liquid states as well as in various classes such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and tramadol, among others.”

He said the drugs were seized by NDLEA operatives across different formations of the Agency in Lagos and Ogun states from January 2022 till date especially at the Lagos seaports, airports, and land borders.

“To be destroyed here today on the order of the court are solid drugs, weighing 304,436.055kg and 40, 042. 621 litres of liquid drugs. The sheer volume of the drug haul speaks volumes about the extent of the nefarious activities of the drug underworld.”

He expressed appreciation to traditional rulers, heads of security agencies, the clergy, members of NGOs and CSOs as well as other stakeholders who witnessed the ceremony.

“The destruction of these seizures complies with the NDLEA Act, which mandates the Agency to destroy all drug exhibits after prosecution. We want to say that your presence here is a testament to this important occasion. To this end, we appreciate all stakeholders and members of the public for witnessing this exercise”, he added.

He seized the opportunity to acknowledge the support of the Agency’s local and international partners, “especially the American Drug Enforcement Administration (US-DEA); United Kingdom NCA, Border Force; the Germans, the French; Indian NCB, among others who had worked with us on a number of busts. Similarly, we appreciate the Nigerian military and other law enforcement agencies such as the Customs; Immigration; Police; Civil Defence; FRSC; NFIU,NAFDAC and others that have been supporting our efforts to rid Nigeria of illicit drugs.”
While assuring that NDLEA will not relent in its effort to end the drug scourge in the country, Marwa called for more public support for the activities of the Agency. “The safety of our society is the responsibility of every one of us. Every citizen shall be fulfilling his or her civic duty by assisting the Agency’s War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign to clean up our communities and cities. Together, we can make this country secure”, he added.

Lagos state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu represented by Chairman, Badagry West Local Government, Mr. Olusegun Onilude expressed satisfaction with the efforts of NDLEA to tackle the scourge of illicit drugs in the country.

“Almost all crimes and criminalities are fueled by illicit drugs, so the Lagos state government appreciates NDLEA and its leadership in their resolute fight against illicit drugs.

“The volume of illicit drugs being destroyed here today speak volume and every right-thinking person should be worried”, he stated.

He also thanked the Agency for taking the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) social advocacy campaign to schools and communities across Lagos State. “No doubt, NDLEA is working, and the state will continue to collaborate with the Agency and its leadership”, he assured.

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NSA receives 22 abducted students, staff of Zamfara varsity

The National Security Adviser, NSA, Nuhu Ribadu, on Monday, April 15, 2024, received 22 abducted students and staff of Federal University, Gusau in Zamfara, who were rescued after 207 days in captivity.

The victims, comprising 15 students and seven workers of the university, were abducted from the university in September 2023.

According to the NSA, the rescue operation was coordinated by the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, NCTC, on Sunday

Mr Ribadu who received the rescued victims on Monday in Abuja, urged them not to allow their experience to break them, but should rather make them stronger.

The NSA also thanked the parents of the rescued victims for their patience and understanding during the period and commended security agencies for their tireless work and sacrifices.

“On behalf of the President, I thank all those involved in the successful rescue of the victims without losing anyone of them or paying any ransom,” he said.

“This is yet again a success story in our efforts to free all those being unlawfully held in captivity.

“We have so far released over a thousand of such victims without noise and with complete respect to their privacy and safety.

“This occasion marks a final juncture in a series of rescues we have undertaken in the last few months, to free victims of recent cases of mass abductions.

“Going forward, we are strengthening law enforcement and security measures to prevent these abductions, and strengthen physical security across vulnerable communities,” he said.

Earlier, the National Coordinator, NCTC, Maj.-Gen. Adamu Laka recalled that those rescued were abducted from the school on Sept. 22, 2023, at about 0230hrs

Mr Laka said bandits armed with various weapons attacked three off-campus students’ hostels at Sabon Gida in Gusau and kidnapped a number of female students alongside some male artisans

Others, he said, were a private security guard and a protocol officer of the university.

He added that the bandits ransacked the hostels, and carted away foodstuffs, mobile phones, laptops, ATM cards, cash and other valuables.

According to him, the abductees were subsequently herded on motorcycles and foot to a location through a town in the Tsafe local government area of Zamfara.

“Search and rescue was conducted by a combined team of law enforcement agencies and the abductees were subsequently released in three batches, after 207 days in captivity,” he said.

“The first batch was rescued on March 15 while the second batch was rescued on April 12 and the last batch was rescued on April 14.

“All the abductees were profiled at NCTC while the ONSA Medical Team examined them and administered minor treatments on the bruises sustained by 3 of the abductees.

“Four of them were diagnosed with malaria and are being treated. None of the females was molested and all the females tested negative for pregnancy test,” he added.

One of the rescued victims, Hafsat Ibrahim, thanked God and the government for ensuring their safe return after 207 days in captivity.

Representative of the Zamfara government, Ibrahim Anka, commended the efforts of the NSA in coordinating the military and security operations that ensured the safe rescue of the victims.

Anka also commended the Federal Government for the efforts and recent positive improvement in security in the state.

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President Tinubu declares April 7, National Police day

President Bola Tinubu has declared April 7 as National Police Day.

Tinubu, represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, made this known on Monday night during the maiden edition of the Nigeria Police Awards and Commendations ceremony held in the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

The president identified a complete overhaul of institutional mentality and memory of police officers as fundamental in his administration’s ongoing bid to transform the force into a modern, professional and accountable institution.

According to Tinubu, his administration had initiated wide-ranging reforms to revitalize the nation’s police force since assuming office in 2023.

He, therefore, stressed the need to engage men and women of the force in training and capacity-building to equip them with the expertise required to carry out the arduous task of modern policing.

He also disclosed that the Federal Government had approved the first week of April as police week and the last day of the week as the National Police Day.

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in our tradition of honouring the Police Force in the life of this great nation, we have approved the adoption of the first week of April as Police Week.

“Furthermore, the last day of the week, April 7th, is hereby declared National Police Day in Nigeria.

“Tonight, I must remind you that we don’t see you as just the shields of the nation, we don’t see you as robots.

“This is why we are here; we are here to humanise you.

“At a time in Nigeria’s history, when the nation’s security architecture is being stretched beyond elastic limits, the citizens have been able to endure in the face of security threats as well as attacks on their lives and livelihoods due to the commitment of the police.

“Your exemplary valour doesn’t only represent the pinnacle of patriotism that binds us but also instils confidence that brighter days lie just beyond the horizon,” he said.

The president listed part of the comprehensive reforms by his administration to rejuvenate the police force to include investment in training and capacity-building.

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