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Samoa agreement: FG petitions National press council over daily trust report

The report authored by a national daily on the Samoa agreement was tabled for deliberations at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, where the cabinet members condemned it entirely.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, who disclosed this to State House reporters, after the FEC, said a letter of complaint has already been forwarded to the media ombudsman, the Nigerian Press Council to compel the newspaper from circulating information that is wrong and misleading.

He said some Nigerians have come up with different insinuations which are totally incorrect.

Recall that in the report, the medium had claimed that the federal government signed an agreement with clauses requiring Nigeria to endorse the rights of Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex, and LGBTQI+ people.

It also said that Nigeria would collect 150 billion dollars for endorsing the deal.

The agreement, generally referred to as the Samoa agreement, was signed on 28 June at the Organisation of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States, OACPS, Secretariat in Brussels, Belgium.

Details of the agreement indicated that the partnership is between the European Union and its member states on one hand, and members of OACPCS on the other.

Negotiations on the agreement began in 2018, and it was signed on 15 November 2018 by all 27 EU member states and 47 of the 79 OACPS states.

The African Regional Protocol on the matter consists of two parts – a framework for cooperation and areas of cooperation that include inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and environmental and human rights protection, among others.

But reacting angrily to the development, Idris said, “FEC deliberated on the Daily Trust report on the Samoa agreement and concluded that it was meant to mislead the people against the government, we have written to Ombudsman to call the newspaper to order.

” We will wait for the ombudsman report but will also urge the press to report responsibly even as the Tinubu-led administration recommits to press freedom.

“Tinubu government has no intention to gag the press or act in any way seen to be inhibiting media workers’ rights, they are seen as strong pillars towards fostering democracy in the country.

They should ensure fake news has no footing in Nigeria. The report has damaged the psyche of some Nigerians”.

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Student loan scheme will thrive on equity and inclusiveness says President Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu says the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) will thrive on fairness and equity and promote inclusiveness by removing the financial barrier to higher education for Nigerian students.

The President, who launched the digital NELFUND disbursement exercise at the State House on Wednesday, said the provision of loans to students will encourage more people to seek knowledge, go for higher education, and become valuable contributors to national development.

“As I earlier said, my belief is that education is the greatest weapon against poverty. Without education, there is no vision; without education, there will be no development; without education, you cannot successfully conquer poverty, insecurity, and abuse in society.

“Education is that light at the end of the tunnel, and no matter how sluggish it moves, it will give you light and the hope you need. We are investing in it. We do not want to try ignorance as an alternative. We want education from the foundation to the topmost level.

“I am glad we are achieving it with NELFUND and that the leadership has accepted this responsibility, and they are working hard,’’ the President said.

President Tinubu commended the Chairman of the Fund, Mr. Jim Ovia, and the Managing Director, Mr. Akintunde Sawyerr, for their efforts in driving the critical agency.

The President expressed his determination to ensure the success of the Fund and the fulfilment of the dream of higher education by indigent Nigerian students.

“The tool is available, and the hope is here; genuine, and the commitment to inclusiveness is what democracy is all about. I am fulfilling one of my greatest promises of the campaign. We are building an inclusive society. You can find many ways around any opportunity, but you cannot find a way if you are not well-educated,’’ President Tinubu stated.

The President emphasized that education is an essential antidote to some of the challenges faced by the nation.

“We cannot even fight terrorism and banditry unless there is inclusiveness, and our people are properly educated and can invest in their own lives. I promise that we will hand a banner without stain to our children. Therefore, it is my honour to launch the portal,’’ the President said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of NELFUND thanked the President for the privilege to serve the nation.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to be here today for Mr. President to formally launch the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND). Mr. President, I would like to make reference to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, of which education is number four.

“The President has recognized that; hence, he inaugurated and also signed into law in February the NELFUND. We are all grateful for Mr. President’s time for inaugurating and also sanctioning the activities of NELFUND,’’ Mr. Ovia said.

The Managing Director of NELFUND affirmed that there were enough funds to meet the initial requests of students across the country.

“Your Excellency, at this stage, we have more than enough funding. When we start to promote properly, we might need more, but right now, we can disburse to any single person who has applied,’’ he said.

Mr. Sawyerr said the portal was opened on May 25, 2024, and had so far received 110,000 applications, with more than 164,000 visits; noting that the applications have been increasing daily.

“Clearly, what we want to ensure is that there is equity in the distribution of the loans across the six geo-political zones. So, we are having to look very closely at the data we are receiving to ensure that we are doing the right things and pushing the right buttons to ensure that those who need these funds get them, and that it is seen to be fair and equitable,” Mr. Sawyerr added.

President Tinubu presented cheques to some of the students and institutions that had already been processed by NELFUND. Students are to receive stipends for their upkeep, while tuition goes directly to the institutions.

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Imo House of Assembly recommends sack of Chief Judge for misconduct and age falsification

The Imo State House of Assembly has recommended the removal of the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Chukwuemeka-Chikeka, citing misconduct and alleged age falsification.

This decision was reached during a plenary session on Thursday, with a two-thirds majority of the lawmakers voting in favour of the recommendations made by an ad hoc committee.

The committee was established to investigate a petition filed by the Civil Society Engagement Platform (CSEP), which accused the Chief Judge of falsifying her age. The petition, titled “Petition Against The Chief Judge of Imo State, Hon Justice Theresa Chukwuemeka Chikeka For Age Falsification Which Is A Grave Criminal Offence And An Act For Which Many Other Judges And Justices Have Been Summarily Dismissed And Some Are Currently Being Prosecuted By The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC),” prompted the House to take action pursuant to Section 292 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The ad hoc committee, chaired by Hon Ikenna Ihezue, included Hon Bernard Ozoemenam, Rt Hon Clinton Amadi, and Hon Ebonine Beneath, with Mrs. Anne Martins Ezirim serving as the committee clerk. They conducted thorough investigations by inviting relevant individuals and institutions to provide oral and documentary evidence.

Despite the committee’s invitation, Justice Chukwuemeka-Chikeka declined to appear, citing the Constitution and insisting she would only appear before a panel set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Key testimonies and documents were obtained from the Civil Society Engagement Platform, represented by its Director of Investigations, Comrade Ndubuisi Onyemaechi. Additionally, the Head of Service of Imo State, the Secretary of the Imo State Judicial Service Commission, the Secretary to the Council of Legal Education, and the Director of Administration at the Nigerian Law School were consulted. These consultations aimed to verify the actual date of birth of the Chief Judge, as recorded during her admission to the Nigerian Law School in 1981 and her employment with the state’s civil service in 1993.

Evidence revealed that Justice Chukwuemeka-Chikeka had altered her date of birth from October 27, 1956, to October 27, 1958, via a statutory declaration of age sworn in 2006. This adjustment was made long after she had initially declared her birthdate when enrolling in law school. The statutory declaration was later submitted to the Judicial Service Commission.

The ad hoc committee concluded that Justice Chukwuemeka-Chikeka had indeed engaged in misconduct and recommended her removal from office by Governor Hope Uzodimma. The House also resolved that this recommendation be forwarded to the National Judicial Council for further action.

All 19 members present at the plenary session unanimously adopted the committee’s recommendations. The resolution marks a significant development in the state’s judicial administration, with further actions anticipated from the NJC.

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Labour accepts President Tinubu N70,000 minimum wage offer

Organised Labour leaders have confirmed accepting the N70,000 minimum wage President Bola Tinubu approved for Nigerian workers.

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information, disclosed on Thursday, July 18, that the president announced the offer earlier in the day at a meeting with the labour leaders at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Speaking after the meeting, Comrade Joe Ajaero, President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), flanked by Comrade Festus Usifo, President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and other representatives of Nigerian workers, said the unions agreed to the offer because of other incentives attached.

He said another reason for accepting the offer is that the president promised a review every three years as against what was obtainable in the past.

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