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Amaechi Tackles Non-Performance: Sets Up Two Ministerial Committees

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  • As Nigeria HARVESTS DEATHS! •6 top doctors die in auto crash •Fulani herdsmen massacre scores in Enugu •Cultists slaughter 13 in Kogi

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi  yesterday further pushed forward his pledge to move the Nigerian Maritime industry upwards, as he sets up two strong committees, with mandates to brainstorm and assist in laying foundations for the establishment of the national carrier and the overhauling of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

In addressing the problems of industry non-performance, the Minister assembled in Lagos. the cream of the nation’s brains, experience and ingenuity within the Nigerian Maritime industry, and pleaded with them, to assist the Government to deliver on its campaign promises.

The experts and stakeholders, which included the pioneer Chairman, Indigenous Ship-owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Chief Isaac Jolapamo, former Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron Rector, Engr. Olu Akinsoji; Arrowhead of Ship-owners Association of Nigeria, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun; Lloyds Ambassador, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori; the Secretary General, Abuja MoU, and former NIMASA Director General, Mfon Usoro; and Shipping Forum Boss, Chief Margaret Orakwusi- Onyema etc., actually assembled, at Amaechi’s instance, following Thursday’s Maritime Summit of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES) at Sheraton Hotels , during which the Minister emphasized that since he was not a maritime expert, he would ensure he harmonises the strength of the industry operators, to restore the country’s lost glory, following the collapse of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).

The first committee whose duty would be to guide the authorities on how to create the national carrier, it was learnt also has the job of midwifing vibrant ships that would fly the nation’s flags, in addition to providing oasis of refuge for Nigerian cadets, whether studying at home or abroad.

The second committee was saddled with the onerous task of making the NIMASA as agency work; by providing strong teeth where it lacks it, making sure the agency conscientiously works within the ambit of its enabling Act; in addition to ensuring that the Cabotage law is allowed to function in tandem with the nation’s economic interest.

Subsequently, fundamental issues which included those bordering on freights, carriage of goods on Cost, Insurance and Freight, as against the current Free on Board regime were all discussed also; including drawing his attention to how Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia amongst others have made their shipping policies fuel the growth of their countries economy.

When the Maritime First spoke with two of the attendees, only the Lloyds ambassador, Emmanuel Ilori consented that his name be mentioned, as the second spoke on conditions of anonymity.

“It was a good meeting. It went beyond mere robbing of minds”, indicated Emmanuel Ilori, pointing out that from all indications, the Minister has shown genuine commitment, to deliver, aside from seeing the complexity of the industry.

Speaking further, Ilori highlighted that confronted by the Minister’s strong favour, vigor and infectious commitment to harness the stakeholders’ strength to lift up the industry, all agitations have totally disappeared, with several persons now ready to go the extra miles, to ensure that Nigerian maritime industry finally gets it right, this time around. The second respondent who spoke in the same vein however added a caveat.

‘’Yesterday’s meeting was essentially, a building-the-cake meeting, indicated  the respondent, pleading that his name be not mentioned, while stressing that Amaechi was also made to realize yesterday, the need to put certain ingredients on ground, rather than relying on old women’s tales as he had earlier been wrongly fed.

Amaechi knows he must deliver. He knows Buhari would not take any excuses; and that summarizes his current vigour for working closely with core stakeholders, he stated, stressing his fears, that the story may soon change, by the time the powerful foreign shipping operators identify his weaknesses and cash in on it.

You see, he came with some misconceptions. But, luckily the attendees succeeded in enlightening him, dispassionately, concluded the respondent, adding that the experts would still have to meet and brainstorm severally before reaching a point where they may authoritatively counsel the Government.

In the meantime, it was a bloody day in parts of the country yesterday. Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, lost six leaders of its Ekiti State chapter to a deadly road crash.

In Enugu State, Fulani herdsmen unleashed mayhem on Ukpabi community, killing scores of people, while cultists also massacred 13 people in Kogi State. The accident, which claimed the lives of the NMA members and their driver, involved a 13-passenger bus belonging to the state branch of NMA a few kilometres to Kaduna. The deceased were heading to Sokoto State for NMA’s National Officers Committee meeting, according to a statement signed by its President and Secretary-General, Kayode Obembe and Adewunmi Alayaki. The statement gave the names of the deceased as Dr. Alex Akinyele of the Federal Teaching Hospital, FETHI, Ido Ekiti, who is also secretary of NMA Ekiti State, Dr. Tunde Aladesanmi, General Surgeon, FETHI, Ido Ekiti; Dr. O.J. Taiwo, Anatomic Pathologist, Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, EKSUTH, Ado-Ekiti; Dr. Ogunseye J.B of the National Association of General and Government Medical and Dental Practitioners, NAGGMDP, and also National Secretary, Hospital Management Board, HMB, Ekiti. Others were Dr. Olajide O, Association of Resident Doctors, ARD, EKSUTH President; Dr. Atolani Adeniyi, secretary NAGGMDP, Ekiti State and the driver of the bus in which they were travelling, Mr. Ajibola. “Other members of the delegates who survived the accident are in stable condition and are receiving medical attention under the auspices of the chairman of the Kaduna State NMA and his team.

“The bereaved families have been contacted and arrangements are in motion to convey the bodies back to Ekiti State. “NOC has sent its representatives to Kaduna for on the spot assessment and compliment the effort of the Kaduna team. “While the conference continues, the NOC hereby directs that all doctors should observe one week of mourning from Tuesday 26th to Tuesday 3rd of May, 2016. Every doctor should put on Black band on the left arm over white overall. “NMA is in contact with the bereaved families and burial arrangements will be communicated in due course,” the association said. In Ekiti State, medical practitioners were in sober mood yesterday following the death of the six doctors. Activities were paralysed in the tertiary, secondary and primary healthcare facilities just as the mood of the health personnel became gloomier as the identities of the victims were revealed. Flags were flown at half mast, following declaration of three-day mourning by the state government. While workers in EKSUTH, were seen discussing the sad incident in groups, their counterparts in FETHI barricaded the gates to protest the death of the doctors. FETHI Chief Medical Director, CMD, Dr Lawrence Ayodele, described the death as a national disaster.

“It is not about the state, but the whole country because it involves six senior doctors and a driver,” he said. Ayodele, who said it could be usual to see certain behaviour in time of grief, appealed to the workers not to allow emotion to override their thinking. The CMD said families of the deceased had been contacted by both the state government and the NMA over the ugly incident. EKSUTH CMD, Dr Kolawole Ogundipe, said management had sent five ambulances to Kaduna to evacuate the corpses of the deceased. Ogundipe appealed to members to be peaceful, even as he prayed that God would grant NMA, families of the deceased and Ekiti State government fortitude to bear the loss.In Enugu State, Ukpabi community in Nimbo, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area was a shadow of its former self yesterday following the invasion of the area by Fulani herdsmen. The herdsmen, who sources said were armed with dangerous weapons, stormed the town in their numbers, shooting any person in sight. Although details of the attack were still sketchy, a source disclosed that survivors had fled to neighbouring communities of Nkpologu, Uvuru and Nsukka.

“Nobody is left in our community; those who survived the attack have relocated to neighbouring communities. “They came destroying our buildings, killing and maiming people with their guns and machetes. “As they are killing and injuring people, they are also setting houses and vehicles ablaze; many people have been killed, I do not have the actual number now. “Some of the dead have been deposited at the Bishop Shanahan Hospital mortuary in Nsukka,” the source said. Our correspondent learnt that residents of Nsukka wept uncontrollably when the bodies of the victims were being deposited at the Bishop Shanahan Hospital. A resident, Mr Dennis Ezema, urged the Federal Government to urgently intervene in the activities of the herdsmen before it escalated to a full blown war. “It is unfortunate that people can be mercilessly killed without human feeling. “You can see how these people were killed and sliced like bread; people should respect the sanctity of human life,” he said. Police Public Relations Officer in Enugu State, Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the incident, said the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Nwodibo Ekechukwu, had already moved to Uzo-Uwani to ensure that normalcy was returned.

“Yes the police is aware of the attack in Uzo-Uwani and the police commissioner is already there to ensure that the situation was brought under control. “Police is collaborating with sister security agencies like the army, civil defense, the Department of State Service to handle the situation,” he said. Chairman of Uzo-Uwani Local Government, Mr. Cornell Onwubuya, who also confirmed the incident, regretted that in spite of efforts to stop the crisis through dialogue, the suspected herdsmen had continued to attack the people. “Yes, there is serious problem in the local government as suspected herdsmen today attacked Nimbo community. “Information reaching us said many people were killed but I do not know the actual number now,” he said. Tension had started mounting in the town over the weekend, when reports spread that herds National invade the community and displace residents for cattle-grazing. It was gathered that herdsmen at Adani had, weekend, imported 500 others from Nasarawa State to help them invade the community on grounds that some of their cattle were missing. Consequently, Onwubuya, had on Saturday convened an emergency meeting in Enugu. Onwubuya said the meeting was convened to address the allegation that herdsmen planned to import about 500 of their tribesmen to enable them invade some communities in the area. Meanwhile, 13 persons have reportedly been killed by suspected cultists in Adah, Kogi State.

The cultists were said to have gone on rampage following alleged killing of a member, Danjuma Amodu also known as (Murphy) by another rival cult group. Amodu was allegedly shot dead while relaxing in front of his family home at GRA, Idah. It was gathered that reprisal attack by suspected gunmen, who came in a Volkswagen Gulf held the town hostage for hours. The sporadic and indiscriminate shooting led to the killing of 13 persons, while several others sustained injuries.

“The gunmen blocked the road between Ibro junction and Bishop Road junction between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. from where they proceeded to a drinking joint at Igalaogba in search of their possible targets,” a source said. The owner of the joint, Haruna Achema and his wife were reportedly shot, while a customer was killed instantly. Military personnel have, however, been on patrol in the city since the incidence. State Police Commissioner, Yakubu Usman said the suspected cultists shot a 27year old man at Anyigba- Idah road and the corpse was taken to the police station.

He said one of his men sustained bullet wounds during a gun battle with the group. He also said that as the gunmen were running away after a gun duel with his men, they also hit three innocent persons, who were rushed to hospital. The commissioner stated that his men were still on the trail of the suspected cultists, adding that they would be arrested soon.

Additional report from National Mirror

Accidents

Crash: NGX Group Mourns Ogunbanjo, Commiserates With Wigwe Family

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…As EFCC hunts for Emefiele, 3 Others

The Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) has mourned the death of its Group Chairman, Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash in the United States of America.

The firm also commiserated with the family of the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Access Holdings Plc, Dr Herbert Wigwe, who also died along with his wife and son in the same mishap.

Ogunbanjo, Wigwe, his wife, son, and two others died in a helicopter crash in California, U.S A. on Feb. 9.

The Group Chairman of NGX Group, Alhaji Umaru Kwairanga, in a statement, expressed condolences to the families of the departed souls, describing their death as untimely.

*The late Abimbola Ogunbanjo

Kwairanga said the late Ogunbanjo’s leadership had left an indelible mark on the company and the broader Nigerian financial community, noting that his legacy would continue to inspire the group.

The NGX group chairman stated that the late Wigwe also left an unblemished footprint in the group’s private sector.

“NGX Group is deeply saddened to acknowledge the tragic passing of our former chairman, Access Holdings Group CEO, Dr Wigwe, along with his wife and son, in a helicopter accident in the United States of America.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time. May their souls rest in peace and may the Almighty comfort their families,” he said.

Also, the NGX Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Temi Popoola, described the passing of Ogunbanjo as a profound loss to the group and the entire Nigerian private sector.

Popoola said that the late Ogunbanjo played a crucial role in shaping the conglomerate.
According to him, while the late NGX Group chairman will be sorely missed, his visionary leadership and impact will never be forgotten.

*The late Dr. Herbert Wigwe

He also described the death of Wigwe, his wife, and his son in the helicopter accident as heartbreaking.

Popoola said that the contributions of the two respected leaders to the financial markets and the overall private sector would continue to be remembered.

“We are committed to preserving their legacies by upholding the principles of leadership, innovation and dedication that they exemplified,” he said.

According to the statement, the late Ogunbanjo, a visionary leader and luminary in Nigeria’s corporate legal and capital market spheres, served as President of the National Council of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) from 2017 to 2021.

As the first Group Chairman of NGX Group from 2021 to 2022, following the demutualization of the Exchange, the late Ogunbanjo’s strategic acumen and dedication were instrumental in shaping the group’s transformative journey.

Beyond his role at NGX Group, the late former group chairman was a distinguished legal practitioner, serving as Managing Partner of Chris Ogunbanjo LP (Solicitors).

He served on the boards of several multinational corporations and non-profit organisations, including Beta Glass Plc and the Advisory Board of the University of Buckingham Centre for Extractive Studies.

He also served on the board of GTL Registrars Ltd., AIICO Insurance Plc, and ConocoPhillips Ltd., amongst others.

“Ogunbanjo’s contributions to the legal profession and corporate governance were exemplary, earning him widespread respect and admiration,” the statement added.

In another development, the EFCC has declared Mrs Margaret Emefiele, wife of the former governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele wanted for alleged money laundering.

EFCC’s spokesman, Mr Dele Oyewale, stated in Abuja that three other persons had been declared wanted alongside Margaret in the same office.

He went on to publish the photographs of the suspects and some of their details on the EFCC website and its “X’’ handle.

The three other persons declared wanted alongside Margaret were Mr Eric Odoh, Mrs Anita Omoile, and Mr. Jonathan Omoile.

Oyewale stated that the quartet allegedly colluded with the former CBN governor to divert “huge sums of money’’ from the Federal Government coffers.

“The charges include obtaining money by false pretences, theft, and contravention of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State.

“Individuals with information regarding the whereabouts of Margaret Emefiele, Eric Odoh, Anita Omoile, and Jonathan Omoile are urged to contact any EFCC office or call 08093322644,’’ Oyewale stated

It would be recalled that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Saturday confirmed the crash of a helicopter carrying six passengers in a Southern California desert near Las Vegas.

All the passengers on board are reported to have died.

Mr Herbert Wigwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, who died in the helicopter was reportedly on board with five others believed to be his wife, son and Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc.

According to FAA, the crash occurred on Friday around 10 p.m. local time near Nipton, California.

However, the FAA did not make available the list of the passengers involved in the accident at the time of filing their report.

The family members of some Nigerians suspected to have been involved in the crash did not respond to calls.

But Mr Tunde Moshood, the Specialist, Asset and Communications to the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, described Wigwe as a leader with an unwavering dedication to his nation and his indomitable spirit serves as an inspiration to us all.

“Though he may have left this world prematurely, his vision and values will continue to guide us as we strive for a brighter future.

“Adieu, Herbert Wigwe. Your presence will be sorely missed, but your legacy will endure as a beacon of hope and progress,” he said.

Born on Aug. 15, 1966, in Isiokpo, Port Harcourt, Herbert Wigwe has carved a niche for himself in the world of finance.

He obtained a degree in accountancy from the University of Nigeria and further education in Banking and Finance, Financial Economics, and an executive programme from Harvard Business School.

Wigwe’s impact was not limited to banking. His passion for philanthropy led him to establish the Herbert Wigwe Foundation, fostering education and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

His dedication earned him the Order of the Niger (CON) and admiration from peers and the public.

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OVERSPEEDING: Lone Accident Claims 4 Lives On Sagamu-Benin Expressway

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Niger auto crash: 4 persons die, 6 injured – FRSC

No fewer than four persons were confirmed dead on Friday in a lone accident involving a Toyota Camry car at Area J3 on the Sagamu-Benin Expressway.

Mrs Florence Okpe, the Spokesperson of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Ogun confirmed the incident to newsmen in Abeokuta.

Okpe explained that the accident occurred at 11:40 am and was caused by excessive speed on the part of the driver which led to loss of control.

She said that the vehicle marked BDG 184 FY veered off the road and somersaulted into a swamp.

“A total of four persons, three men and one woman were involved and they all died from the lone crash.

“The suspected cause of the lone crash was excessive speed which led to loss of control and the vehicle veered off the road and somersaulted into a swamp,” she said.

Okpe explained that the deceased were deposited at the Ijebu-Ode General Hospital morgue.

The Sector Commander, Anthony Uga, advised motorists taking long journeys to always have 15 minutes rest after a four-hour drive to avoid fatigue while driving and also go within the stipulated speed limit.

He sympathised with the family of the victims, enjoining them to contact FRSC Ogbere for more information about the crash.

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Explosion Rocks Ibadan, 2 Dead, over 100 Injured

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Makinde Explains Delay In Emergence of New Aalafin, Soun, Swears In New CJ

…Illegal mining activities suspected!

A deafening explosion rocked the elitist Bodija area of Ibadan Tuesday night, instantly collapsing buildings, and seriously blowing off several buildings’ rooftops, in addition to shattering glass windows of houses, 500 metres away. 

Two persons were pulled out of the rubble, dead, while over 100 persons were injured, some of them, very seriously.

The explosion occurred around 7.43 pm on January 16, 2024, at Dejo Oyelese Street at the Adeyi Estate, affecting about 20 buildings, aside from shaking the ground like a mild earth tremor. it also emitted observable light waves, and heavy smoke, thereby creating genuine panic and fear.

A man praying in the nearby mosque was among the first casualty as he was rushed to a nearby Christian Hospital, in an emergency.

There were palpable fears that the explosion was caused either by illegal mining or, some activities not unconnected with mining. However, this may not be confirmed until a proper investigation is undertaken.

An eye witness told the Maritime First that a building with a heavy presence of foreigners, and a football-field size empty backyard, had plenty of dynamites used for mining was suddenly engulfed by fire, a fire which finally touched the inflamable dynamite, resulting in a bomb-like explosion, which was easily heard, miles away.

*One of the casualties

The source said while it could not be ascertained if the illegal mining was taking place within the estate or not, it could however not be argued that dynamites usually utilised for mining was involved.

The Christian hospital lived up to expectations, as it had the solution for those rushed there in emergency. From the hospital gate, however, a staff was heard, requesting additional hands from their other branches. One lady was placed on oxygen.

The Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde cancelled every other state matter and rushed to the scene, following which he deployed first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo State to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations.

“We have already deployed first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo State to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations. These operations will continue throughout the night”, the Governor stressed.

Consequently, earth-moving equipment, ambulances, emergency lights, and security were deployed to the scene of the incident, even as ambulances plied to and from the area.

“The wounded and injured are being treated and moved to public and private hospitals within Ibadan. Medical personnel are on standby at these hospitals to provide all needed assistance to the injured. We have visited UCH to see some of those injured during the incident. 

“In total, we have 77 injured victims so far, most of whom were treated and discharged and 2 fatalities. May their souls rest in peace and may God give their loved ones the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss”, the Governor indicated further.

By 10. 26pm a crowd of onlookers, some of them miscreants had built up in front of the ACE Mall. But they were overwhelmed by the presence of a pronounced presence of Amotekun Corps, which was joined at 9.58 pm by OYRTHMA operatives, in four vehicles, one of them, a towing van.

By 10.29 pm, some officers of the military arrived at the ACE Mall, ordered the Gate of the Christian Hospital shut, and sent the crowd of miscreants packing!

Reacting to the development, a resident who spoke on condition of anonymity urged the Authorities to scratch beyond the surface, saying he believes the explosion could have a lot to do with illegal mining activities.

“Why do they call that place ‘the Dungeon’? What kind of explosives do they use there that is capable of blowing a car off its tyres, into the air?” he asked.

He described mining as a heavy capital investment which is currently, silently run like Mafia stuff. 

“Killing is constantly involved, either by design or circumstances. And that in many instances, people call them in the North, herdsmen or kidnappers, whereas they are just illegal miners or miners’ extension.

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