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12 Bags Of Rice: CGC Orders Release Of Impounded Bullion Van, Almost 2-years after

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… As Tinubu Appoints 6 Executive Directors For NPA, NIMASA

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi has ordered the release of an Access Bank bullion van caught in April 2022, loaded with 12 bags of rice, after more than 21 months.

The Ogun Area Command II of Customs Service Area Controller, Olusola Alade, who confirmed this to newsmen in Abeokuta said the van which also had about N24.4 million in it  was impounded for being illegally found to containing 12 50kg bags of smuggled foreign parboiled rice.

He added that investigation had unveiled the van as belonging to an Abeokuta branch of Access Bank 

Both the money and the bullion van, with the registration number FKJ 993 BZ, have now been handed over to officials of Bankers Warehouse Ltd. and Access Bank in Abeokuta.

“The bullion van belongs to Bankers Warehouse and was impounded on April 22, 2022 by a joint border patrol team along the Sokoto- ljoun /Joga road in the Abeokuta axis.

“The Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adeniyi, has now ordered the release of the bullion van and the money to both the Bankers Warehouse and Access Bank on compassionate ground after investigation,” Alade said.

The Area Controller added that three suspects were arrested and charged to court in connection with the crime.

“The seized foreign parboiled rice which were 12 bags of 50kg each were carefully concealed in the said vehicle.

“Consequently, the said vehicle and the items were conveyed to the Customs House in Abeokuta for safekeeping.

“After conducting examination on the vehicle, the said amount of money was discovered and deposited at the Abeokuta branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for safekeeping.

“The vehicle was detained while the rice was converted to seizure in line with Section 168 of Nigeria Customs Service Act, 2023.

“In connection to the above seizures, three suspects were arrested, detained, granted administrative bail and subsequently charged to court for aiding smuggling,” he explained.

Alade added that the Bankers Warehouse Ltd and Access Bank later wrote an appeal letter to the Customs’ Comptroller-General for the release of both the van and money on compassionate ground.

“This was in a bid to retrieve the detained van and the money, and based on the outcome of investigation and recommendations of the Investigation Unit of the NCS, the Comptroller-General approved the release of the detained van and the money.

“This is in line with the provision of section 248 (1) and (2) of NCS Act, 2023,” he said.

“This present Customs management is devoid of ‘red herring’!”, an industry watcher, Bolutife Egbewole told the Maritime First, in a reaction.

In another development, the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Thursday, appointed six new executive directors for both the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

The two agencies are key parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity indicated this in a statement on Thursday titled, ‘President Tinubu appoints new executive directors in agencies under the Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.’

For the NPA, Tinubu appointed Vivian Edet as Executive Director, Finance and Administration; Olalekan Badmus as Executive Director, Marine and  Operations, and Ibrahim Umar as Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services.

For NIMASA, he appointed Chudi Offodile as Executive Director of Finance; Jibril Abba as Executive Director of Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services; and Fatai Adeyemi as Executive Director of Operations.

crime

ENUGU: Police Arrest 83 Suspects, Rescue 20 Kidnapped Victims

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Gunmen Abduct NPC Commissioner, Aides At Rivers Section Of East-West Road

The Police Command in Enugu State says it arrested 83 criminal suspects and rescued 20 kidnapped victims within the state from Jan. 1, 2024, till date.

The offences for which the suspects were arrested included abduction, kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, defilement and vandalism among other crimes committed within the state in the period under review.

The state Commissioner of Police, CP Kanayo Uzuegbu, disclosed this on Tuesday while briefing newsmen on the successes of the Command since the beginning of the year.

Uzuegbu noted that 46 firearms of different calibers were recovered as well as 125 ammunition of different calibres were recovered within the period under review.

According to him, 36 motor vehicles were recovered; six tricycles were recovered and 15 motorcycles were also recovered by gallant and eagle-eyed crime fighting officers and men of the Command.

He said many of the arrested suspects had been arraigned in court and remanded in the Nigerian Correctional Service Custodial Centre, while others would be prosecuted accordingly once investigations are concluded.

The commissioner said that proactive and people’s centred policing approaches of the Command had started yielding the expected results.

Police arraign Lagos businessman for alleged theft of N3.5m phones

“I wish to specially thank the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Dr Peter Mbah, for the immense support his Administration has continued to extend to the police in the state.

“In the same vein, I profoundly thank and appreciate the Inspector-General of Police, Dr Kayode Egbetokun, for his visionary and pragmatic leadership style, which have brought about the policing strides recorded in Enugu State and Nigeria as a whole.

“Additionally, I express my immense gratitude to my colleagues in sister security agencies and the entire security stakeholders in Enugu State, for all the collaborative support we enjoyed in 2023, and which has continued into 2024.

“I also want to thank and appreciate my officers and men for their diligence, hard work and dedication to duty, which have resulted in the operational successes recorded.

“I urge them to remain focused and committed to actualizing the mandates of the Nigeria Police Force in Enugu State,” he said.

The commissioner maintained that discipline remained the bedrock of the Nigeria Police, adding: “I caution officers and men to shun acts of corruption, unprofessionalism and moral debasements, which bring with them severe disciplinary consequences”.

According to him, officers and men must remain professional, firm, upright and diligent in the performance of their duties.

He warned unrepentant criminals to turn over a new leaf, as “we shall more than ever, turn up the heat and make Enugu State more uncomfortable for them and their activities.”

He said: “And if they fail to repent, then we shall stop at nothing to ruthlessly deal with them.

“I also want to strongly caution rumour mongers, rabble-rousers and peddlers of fake, misinformative and disinformative news in Enugu State to desist forthwith, as the Police would not hesitate to deal decisively with anyone found wanting, in accordance with extant laws, particularly the Cybercrime Act.

“There is no doubt that the task of tackling the increasing security challenges in our society is daily becoming daunting.

“Nonetheless, the assurance I bring to the good people of Enugu State is that we will remain focused and unflinching in our commitment to enthrone a crime-free and peaceful environment for all and sundry to thrive in their legitimate enterprises.”

Uzuegbu urged the citizenry to remain law-abiding, security conscious and continue to support the police, through the provision of credible and actionable security information; while also reporting suspected criminals and their activities to the nearest police station. (

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Economy

FG Threatens To Open Borders for Cement Importation Over Price Hike

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Palpable fear has gripped cement manufacturers following the Federal Government’s threat to throw open the nation’s borders for cement importation if the product manufacturers fail to bring down the cost.

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa issued the threat on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with Cement and Building Materials Manufacturers.

The meeting was summoned to address the astronomical increase in the cost of cement nationwide.

The minister expressed concerns that in the past couple of months, the country had witnessed a recurring alarming increase in the prices of cement and other building materials.

“Clearly, this is a crisis for housing delivery. An increase in essential building materials means an increase in the prices of houses.

“We are not the only country facing this challenges, many countries are facing the same type of challenges that we’re facing, some even worse than that.

“But, as patriotic citizens, we have to rally round the country when there is crisis, to ensure that we do our best to save the situation,” he said.

The minister added: “Honestly speaking, we have to sit down and look at this critically and know how you should go back and think of it.

“The government stopped importation of cement in other to empower you to produce more and sell cheaper

Bags of cement

“Otherwise the government can open the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash, but you will have no business to do”.

Dangiwa said the reasons given by cement manufacturers for the price increase – high cost of gas and manufacturing equipment – were not enough for such astronomical pricing.

He expressed his displeasure at the position of  Cement Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (CEMAN) that the association “does not interfer with the pricing of cement”.

He said the association should not just fold  its arms when things were going wrong.

“One person cannot be selling at N3500 per bag and another selling at N7000 per bag and you cannot call them to order.

“The association is expected to monitor price control, otherwise the association has no need to exist,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Salako James, Executive Secretary, CEMAN, said the housing policy of the administration of President Bola  Tinubu was laudable and every responsible Nigerian has to key into it.

He, however, identified some areas of concern and appealed to the government to look into them to tackle the issue of cement pricing.

Salako identified the challenges of gas supply to heavy users like the cement industry and urged the government to create a window whereby gas will be bought with Naira instead of dollar.

He also complained about the distribution channel, stressing tha there was a great difference between the price from the manufacturers and the market price.

He, therefore called for government intervention to help stabilise the situation and bring sanity to the economy.

At the end of the meeting, the minister directed that a committee should be constituted to review the situation and come out with implementable resolutions that would benefit the common Nigerian.

The three major cement producers, Dangote Plc, BUA Plc, and Lafarge Plc were represented as well as other industry stakeholders.

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crime

Bill To Establish State Police Passes 2nd Reading At Reps

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Suspected bandits kill NIS personnel, injure 2 others in Jigawa

 …As Bandits kill 6 In Katsina

A  Bill for an act to establish State Police and other Related Matters thereto,  has passed a second reading in the House of Representatives.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill which will alter provisions of the 1999 Constitution to provide for the establishment,  was sponsored by Rep. Benjamin Kalu and 12 others.

Leading the debate at plenary in Abuja on Tuesday, Kalu who also presided, said in recent times, the nation’s collective security had been greatly challenged due to an upsurge in insecurity cases.

He said Nigeria operated a federation consisting of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, with 774 Local Government Areas, about 250 ethnic nationalities, and more than 200 million citizens.

Kalu said Nigeria has a vast terrain,  spanning over 920,000 square kilometers but regretted that currently, the nation operates a single centralised police system that employs less than 400,000 police officers and men.

Niger govt. rescues abducted Kagara students

He said there was no denying that the nation’s security architecture was under immense pressure.

Kalu also pointed out that  the fabric of any democracy remained woven with the threads of constant adaptation to the evolving needs of its society.

He added that at this point in our nationhood, state policing is not only inevitable but urgently desired to tackle the mounting challenges of insecurity.

According to him, the bill emerged as a necessary response to several calls for a decentralised and community-oriented approach to law enforcement.

“It seeks to navigate the complex landscape of security challenges by empowering our states with the means to address issues unique to their localities.”

He said the proposed alteration represented not just a legal adjustment to our constitution but a visionary leap toward a safer, more secure, and more harmonious Nigeria.

He said the bill sought the transfer of “police” from the “exclusive legislative list” to the “concurrent legislative list,” adding that the move would effectively empower states to have state-controlled policing.

He said the bill would also prevent unwarranted interference by the Federal Police in state police affairs, emphasising collaboration and intervention only under well-defined circumstances.

Contributing, Rep. Babajimi Benson (APC-Lagos), observed that police should be empowered to license any state willing,  that meet the requirements for state police, set up by the Police Service Commission.

He said the commission should be empowered to revoke and renew the licenses if such a state abused the license, adding that state police would reduce unemployment and relieve the recurrent expenditure on the Federal Government.

On his part, Rep. Awaji-numbek Abiante (PDP-Rivers), noted that the bill would cure the tragedy of the military decree of 1966.

He, however, called for caution, saying, “We have to be careful and committed enough to look at the bill thoroughly because this was not the first attempt for such bill.”

He said the bill should provide a sure way of guaranteeing the security of lives and property while underscoring the need for deliberate efforts toward making it a reality.

Rep. Ali Madaki (NNPP-Kano) noted that the bill was killed in the seventh Assembly but disclosed that the fear was to avert a situation whereby state governors would use the state police against political opponents.

He said there were high-security challenges nationwide,  adding that each state would deploy its police in a manner that would address their peculiarities.

Also speaking, Rep. Sada Soli (APC-Kano), said about 21 states, including Benue and Taraba were caught in the web of socio-political and ethno-religious crises and could surmount such challenges if they had control of their police.

He said some of the states clamoring for the establishment of state police were not economically viable.

He acknowledged that state policing remained a noble idea while citing a scenario where a state governor denied a political opponent landing at the airport.

He argued that such a governor was capable of using the state police for negative purposes,  and urged  the lawmakers to put all issues into perspective before enacting the law.

Rep. Ademorin Kuye (APC-Lagos),  argued that 400,000 policemen to 200 million Nigerians was insufficient.

He said that the deployment of a police officer to a state he was not familiar with would make him inefficient and ineffective in discharging his duties.

Rep. Ben Itanabene (LP-Delta), called for the establishment of a distinct police structure but feared that the use of state police would be under the control of governors.

He urged the house to delete the word ‘state” from the bill while calling for decentralization of the Federal Police by using Police Command.

Kalu, after listening to contributions, put the bill to vote, which was  unanimously passed by the lawmakers

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