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Buhari’s $5.815bn Chinese loan faces hurdles in Senate

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  • As another batch of 258 Nigerian deportees arrive Lagos Airport

President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for the National Assembly’s endorsement of a $5.815 billion loan suffered a temporary setback yesterday at the Senate.

The Federal Government plans to raise the loan from the China Exim Bank to modernise Lagos-Kano, Kano-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Calabar rail lines.

Following a motion by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South), the Senate resolved to invite Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi to explain why the South East corridor rail line was omitted in the areas covered by the proposed loan.

The upper chamber however rejected a prayer that urged the Senate to suspend consideration of the loan request pending when the “oversight” of the eastern part of the country is corrected.

The motion entitled “Outright Omission of Eastern Corridor Rail Line in the request for approval of Federal Government 2016-2015 External Borrowing (Rolling Plan)” was hotly debated.

Abaribe  recalled that on 26th of April, 2017 the Federal Government laid before the National Assembly a request seeking an approval for a loan of $5,851 billion from China Exim Bank to execute the modernization of Lagos-Kano, Kano-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Calabar rail segment;

He observed that the above sections of the rail line that the loan was being sought for covers only a section of the country, the western corridor or sections.

The Abia South lawmaker noted that the Eastern section of the rail segment, which has a link between the South Eastern and North Eastern parts of the rail line is completely excluded.

He noted that the loan being a Federal Government borrowing, would be paid for by all sections of the country; therefore every section of the country should be taken into consideration;

To Abaribe, the complete exclusion of the Eastern section that links the four zones of South-South, South-East, North-Central and North East and the key cities, such as Port Harcourt, Aba, Enugu, Makurdi, Lafia, Gudi, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri, is inexplicable,

He prayed the Senate to suspend consideration of the loan request until the correction of the oversight is made.

He also urged that Senate to invite the Minister of Transport to explain the exclusion.

In the meantime, it was gory tales yesterday at the cargo section of the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos as another batch of 258 Nigerians were yesterday deported from Libya.

The deportees who  arrived the cargo section of the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at about 10.00pm aboard an Airbus A333-200  and were received at the Hajj Terminal by the National Emergency Management Agency narrated how they were brutalised like animals in Libya.

Mr Akhere Ken, one of the deportees from Edo State, said he has been in detention in Libya in the past one year after he was arrested on board a  boat while trying to cross  the Mediterranean sea to Italy.

About One hundred of them  were cramped into a room  not enough to accommodate Twenty people with resultant suffocation to death of one inmate almost every week.

“As one inmate dies, more  Nigerians are brought and squeezed into the room. Any inmate with medical condition is not given even common paracetamol.We watch helplessly as our friends die before our very eyes,” Ken said.

Other deportees who were also aboard the  chartered Libya Airlines Airbus A330-200 with registration number 5A-LAU and profiled by the NEMA official late into the night had similar tales of woes to tell..

They were received at the Hajj Camp area of the airport by officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) , the National Agency for the Protection of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Police.

Officials of NEMA, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), were also present. Dr Onimode Bandele, the Deputy Director, Search and Rescue, said the returnees were made up of 220 males, 18 females and 20 children and infants.

According to Bandele, “Since December 2016, we have been able to bring back 1,268 Nigerians and the exercise will continue in collaboration with the IOM.The Federal Government is collaborating with the various state governments to rehabilitate and reintegrate the returnees. ”

Also speaking, Ms Julia Burpee, Public Information Officer, IOM,  said the organisation had facilitated the return of over 7,000 Nigerians from various countries in the past 16 years.

Nation with additional report from Vanguard

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MWUN: Pay Aged Seafarers’ Entitlement, Adeyanju Urges Oyetola

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MWUN congratulates women on International Women's Day

The President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN}, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju has urged the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola to look inward first and protect the rights of aged seafarers who have contributed immensely to the growth of this country.

Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, who made the call in his chat with newsmen during the 2023 MARAN Annual Maritime Lecture organized by Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, also enjoined the Minister to see this counsel as a topmost agenda.

“It is only in Nigeria that people who contributed to the growth of the economy are not valued until after their death, people that have contributed to sea fearing in Nigeria today, some of them are languishing in poverty. 

“The Court judgment is very clear with an instruction that their pension and gratuity should be paid; but as I speak, the pension and gratuity are yet to be paid, despite meetings and letters being sent.

“Ministries of Transport and that of Labour set up Committees to look into it for verification exercise to be carried out on all sea fearers in Nigeria (including the deceased) so that they of their next of kins can be paid their benefits but when the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy came in and was trying to float NNSL, we reminded him that the retirees have not been paid their rights, 

“We are not asking him not to do anything he wishes to do, our stand is that all retirees must get their rights and if that is not done we might be forced to resort to industrial action” he declared.

Speaking on the issue of insecurity in the maritime industry, Comrade Adeyanju said: “The insecurity in the port is the order of the day and the government needs to be blamed as a result of not empowering the security agents that are supposed to manage the affairs of security in the ports.

Bello-Koko Lauds MWUN for Ensuring NPA Staff's Salary Increase
President General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), an Ibadan Prince, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju

“You could imagine the Marine Police, hardly will you see them with boats for them to patrol. 

You go to Area B, and even within the port here in Apapa, there are no facilities for them to work. How do you expect the security to be managed? We should use this medium to tell the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), and all the relevant stakeholders to encourage the security agents within the port, for them to give optimal performance as it is expected of them” he concluded.

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Idiroko Customs Uncovers 975 Rounds of  Ammunition Concealed In 5 Bags Of Rice 

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The Ogun 1 Command of the Nigeria Customs Service uncovered the antics deployed by unscrupulous criminals to smuggle in live ammunition through a bush path along Palace/Ayetoro road, Imeko, Afon local Government area of Ogun State.

The perpetrators are however, yet to apprehend.

 Five bags of foreign parboiled rice containing 975 rounds of red star live cartridges were intercepted at 0005hrs on Monday 27, November 2023.

Disclosing this on Wednesday, the Acting Customs Area Controller of the Command, Bello Shuaibu, said that  efforts are underway to track the perpetrators of the illicit importation.

*Bello Shuaibu,…yet to apprehend the perpetrators

He expressed delight on how operatives of the Command thwarted the evil plans of the enemies of the State by preventing smuggling of live ammunition into the country.

His words: “Our presence here today depicts our unwavering commitment to safeguarding and strengthening the security architecture of our beloved nation against insecurity as we will be showcasing our most recent anti smuggling exploits. We are delighted to report that we have thwarted the evil plans of the enemies of the State by preventing the smuggling of live ammunition into the country.”

He added that arms and ammunition smuggling is a high-intelligence operation, as perpetrators often attempt to evade the watchful eyes of law enforcement agents.

 He stated that the war against illegal firearms requires concerted and collaborative efforts from law-abiding citizens of this country to checkmate such a nefarious activity.

 “Smuggling of arms and ammunition is a menace that knows no borders and feeds on the vulnerability of our society,” he said.

He warned that the consequences of unchecked smuggling of arms and ammunition are severe, ranging from the empowerment of criminal organizations to escalating crises and compromising national security. 

He reiterated that for these reasons, his command will not relent nor compromise in waging war against the smuggling of unlawful arms and ammunition in building a safe and stable nation.

Shuaibu explained that the operatives of the command uncovered the secret of the unscrupulous elements when  operatives  conducted a sessional and intelligence-based operation to unravel the tactics deployed by unscrupulous elements to bring in live ammunition through the Imeko axis of the State.

“We have been on the trail of the ammunition for about a week. Fortunately, at 00:05 hours of the day, we received an intel that the five bags of foreign parboiled rice, containing live cartridges of Red Star ammunition, had been carefully hidden in a bush path along the Palace-Ayetoro road, Imeko Afon Local Government Area of Ogun State.

“Our operatives went to the spot and evacuated the five bags of rice without any encounter. The bags of rice were suspected due to the unusual threading and sewing of the sacks. This quickly aroused the suspicion of our operatives, leading to their opening for proper examination at the Border station.

“During the examination, about 975 rounds of Red Star live cartridges were found to have been ingeniously concealed in the bags. We have intensified efforts to track down the perpetrators of this nefarious act for them to be brought to justice. We recognize the potential danger of arms and ammunition trafficking, which is life-threatening. We shall not renege on our efforts in combating smuggling activities in their entirety,” the Acting Controller said. 

He appreciated the officers and men of the Command for their bravery and commended the patriotism of their informant.

 “We call on well-meaning Nigerians with useful intel to collaborate with us in enhancing the security of our dear nation. You are assured of maximum security cover. Let me use this medium to reiterate that we remain resolute in promoting national security,” he assured.

He also expressed gratitude to the Comptroller General of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi for his support and enhancement of the Command’s operations. Shuaibu equally extended his appreciation to sister agencies for the synergy and collaboration the command has continuously enjoyed.

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$54,330: Comptroller Nnadi Again Hands Over Snatched Funds To EFCC

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…Dera Nnadi Credits feat to Officers’ patriotic selflessness, and CGC’s Impactful Spirit

The Tin Can Island Port (TCIP) Customs Area Controller, Dera Nnadi this week handed over to the Federal Government, $54,330 bribe money snatched from those wanting the Command to clear Tramadol, falsely declared as electrical appliances, valued at over N856m.

While handing over the Dollars to the Lagos Zonal Commander of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) , Mr. Michael Wetkas, Comptroller Nnadi specifically emphasized the zero tolerance for corruption stance of the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, MFR.

Twice as Strong: Comptroller Dera Nnadi after handing over snatched funds to the EFCC at the Tin Can Island Port, Lagos

The Maritime First learnt that this was not the first time Comptroller Dera Nnadi was actually handing over snatched funds to the Federal coffers. He similarly performed same act, while he headed the Seme Border Customs Command.

Ironically, it was through the same EFCC chieftain, Mr. Michael Wetkas that he had returned the snatched Dollars to the Federal coffers.

*Crispy $54,330 going into Federal coffers through the EFCC

Fielding questions on how truly a Nigerian he is, returning such hard currency, only few weeks to Christmas, the Tin Can Island Port Controller praised the selfless and patriotic commitment of the officers and men of the Command, while noting the huge and impactful, motivational influence of the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi.

Comptroller Nnadi said the illegal importation of the Tramadol was in clear violation of Section 233 of Nigeria Customs Service Act (NCAA) 2023 and commended the officers who stood their grounds to work ethically and lawfully in the interest of national security.

He also called for continuous compliance on the part of port users and reminded them that the NCS with the collaboration of sister agencies like EFCC will continue to frustrate criminal activities in the port.

Nnadi specially thanked his predecessor, Comptroller Adekunle Oloyede, under whose watch, this particular seizure was achieved, describing him as a noteworthy example of what the Service is preaching. He highlighted that two suspects who were arrested in connection with the two containers, were currently being investigated by the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control for possible prosecution.

In his reaction, the EFCC Lagos Zonal Boss, Mr. Michael Wekas while taking over the cash, described the feat as a victory for the country and to all the security agencies.

He delightfully celebrated the officers of the TCIP Command which achieved the feat. He also lauded the CGC, for the letter of commendation written, in appreciation of the six Customs officers who refused to bow to pressure and inducement, from the owners of the illicit drugs.

*The Command’s Special six

He promised continued collaboration between the EFCC, NCS and other sister agencies, stressing that, the era of working without collaboration is gone.

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