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COURT: Facts of Ekweremadu’s case heart-breaking

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Federal High Court Abuja has described the continued detention of former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, as pathetic, saying no Nigerian citizen deserves to go through such harrowing experience whether in Nigeria or overseas.

The court also held that affidavits before it contradicted the claim by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that all the 40 listed in the application for interim assets forfeiture belonged to the former Senate number two man, his company, Foundation, and wife.

Ruling on the matter on Friday, Justice Inyang Ekwo stated: “It is not hard to reason that the essence of the application for interim forfeiture by the Respondent (EFCC) is to give credence to the letter of 18th July, 2022 to the Crown Prosecution Service and to give them further reason for continued custody of Senator Ike Ekweremadu in the United Kingdom.

“The facts of this case presents a heart-rending scenario and prompt me to say this- no Nigerian should be made to go through this kind of travail whether at home or abroad.

“Another evidence of bad faith is that the Respondent (EFCC) represented in this case that is a matter of interim forfeiture order against the assets in various locations belonging to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Power Properties Limited, Ikeoha Foundation, and Beatrice N. Ekweremadu.

“By this application, the Court was made to see all the properties mentioned in the ex-parte application as belonging to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Power Properties Limited, Ikeoha Foundation, and Beatrice Ekweremadu.

“However, the development before the Court has given a different picture. I have noted that there are Affidavits to Show Cause respectively from one Uni-Medical Health Care Limited and Anambra State Government claiming to be owners of some of the properties, which ownership has been attributed to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Power Properties Limited, Ikeoha Foundation and his wife, Beatrice Ekweremadu. These respective Affidavits to Show Cause is indicative of bad faith on the part of the Respondent (EFCC)”.

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It is recalled that the Federal High Court in Abuja had on Friday vacated the interim forfeiture order on 40 landed property allegedly linked to Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice, Foundation and companies the application for forfeiture filed by the EFCC was not brought in good faith, while the agency also failed to disclose material facts about the matter.

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“In this case, the respondent (EFCC) wrote Exhibit SIE 2 (a letter) to the Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom which letter was used as evidence to deny Senator Ike Ekweremadu bail in the criminal proceedings.

“At the same time, the respondent filed ex-parte application for interim forfeiture, which upon order being made thereon required Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife to show cause in Nigeria why an order for final forfeiture ought not to be made.

“I have been asking myself the question repeatedly: How can a citizen of Nigeria who is incarcerated outside the country to the knowledge of the respondent, be expected to show cause in an action in Nigeria brought by the respondent?

“In other words, how do you help to tie down a man and initiate a fight and demand that the same man you have helped to tie down must defend himself?

“This in my opinion, is an unconscionable act. The act of the respondent clearly shows that this action was brought in bad faith.

“In law, bad faith entails dishonesty of belief or purpose. I find that the application for forfeiture, going by the facts of this case has not been brought in good faith and ought to be struck out”, Justice Ekwo had ruled.

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Nigerians in scary times under Tinubu — PDP

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Nigerians in scary times under Tinubu — PDP
The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Debo Ologunagba, has said that the living conditions of Nigerians under the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is so poor that everybody is witnessing “scary times” in the country.

The PDP had recently blamed President Tinubu and his economic policies for the worsening living conditions of Nigerians in a statement issued by the party’s spokesperson, Ologunagba.

The PDP in the statement said that the president’s decisions to remove fuel subsidy and float the naira led to high inflation, low productivity, business collapse, job losses, poverty, hunger, insecurity and hopelessness in the country.

Responding to questions concerning the statement during an interview with ARISE TV on Tuesday, Ologunagba said for the past nine years in power, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had displayed “arrogance in failure” and a tendency to purely pursue individual interests.

He said, “What we have said several times over the years are coming to fruition, that the APC is not a political party; it’s a special-purpose vehicle, and a conglomeration of individuals who came together to pursue their individual personal gains.

 “Therefore, they have no mission, they have no vision, they have no policies or programmes. And that’s why we’ve found ourselves where we are now.

“Actually, the greatest thing for any leader is to be humble enough to admit errors. But what we’ve found over the years, in the last nine years now, is seeing APC displaying arrogance in failure.

“Rather than listen to other people, they are pretending to know it all; the insensitivity that ‘we can do it’ and that what other people are saying does not matter.

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“Nigerians are in scary times under this government and everybody is affected both the people in government and the ordinary man on the street,” he added.

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Nursing student commits suicide over unwanted pregnancy

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Nursing student commits suicide over unwanted pregnancy
A 300-level student at a private tertiary institution in Abeokuta, Ogun State, simply identified as Ajoke, has reportedly committed suicide.

It was gathered that Ajoke, a student of Basic Medical Science at Havarde College of Science, Business and Management Studies, Abeokuta, on Monday evening, drank poisonous substance, suspected to be Sniper.

Her body was discovered in her hostel room located off-campus.

Sources at the college revealed that the deceased, who had been battling depression, must have committed suicide over an “unwanted pregnancy.”

Another account indicated that the her condition worsened after she found out that her course not been accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria.

“For more than four months now, she (deceased) had been depressed because of the fact that the course she was studying was not accredited.

“She used to complain because she claimed her parents used all the money they had to send her to the school.

“Things now got worse when she discovered she was pregnant and she could not even have a certificate for the course she had done for years,” the source said.

But, the provost of the institution, Dr. Ismail Oyetunji, said the circumstances surrounding the death of the student happened outside the school’s premises.

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The provost added that the deceased’s parents came to the school last week to pack her belongings after discovering she was pregnant.

He said, “A 300-level nursing student was reported to me this morning by our dean of students affair to have committed suicide. She was impregnated by her boyfriend. Her parent got to know and came last week to pack her belongings from the school.

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“She came back to Abeokuta and thereafter decided to commit suicide. She was rushed to Hope Hospital by her boyfriend in the Adigbe area of Abeokuta where she eventually died.

“Everything happened outside the college premises. However, the management of the college sympathises with the parent and relatives of the deceased. We sincerely pray that God will give them the fortitude to bear,” he added.

When asked if the suicide is connected to the non-accreditation of the nursing programme offered in the institution, the provost insisted that the student committed suicide because of the pregnancy.

“No no, it has nothing to do with that. She got pregnant and her parent was aware. They came and packed her belongings in Abeokuta because of that. It happened somewhere outside the school.”

Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government on Tuesday shut down the Nursing Department of the college for allegedly offering a degree programme in Nursing Sciences for six years without accreditation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).

The department was shut down during an enforcement exercise carried out by officials of the state Ministry of Health and members of the State Nursing and Midwifery Committee (SNMC).

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 Speaking during the enforcement exercise, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Kayode Oladehinde, stated that such unauthorised programme contributed to quackery in the profession, thereby posing a threat to the health of the populace.

He maintained that the Nursing Department of the institution would remain closed until fully accredited.

Oladehinde, represented by the Acting Director of Nursing Services, Mrs. Serifat Aminu, described a degree in Nursing obtained from Harvarde College and similar institutions without NMCN accreditation as worthless, explaining that graduates from such schools would be denied licence to practise in Nigeria and other parts of the world.

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“We have discovered that many institutions, including Harvarde College, offer nursing degrees to unsuspecting students. Our mission is to clamp down on such institutions because they end up producing quacks in the Nursing profession. This is dangerous for society. Unfortunately, most students are unaware that their time is being wasted,” he said.

He warned parents and candidates desiring to pursue nursing or related programmes to be wary of institutions making false claims by checking the NMCN website for an updated list of accredited institutions, assuring that the government would continue to check quackery in the nursing profession.

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FG blames opposition for food crisis, uncovers 32 smuggling routes

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FG uncovers 32 routes for smuggling food out of Nigeria

The Federal Government has blamed opposition elements for the food crisis currently ravaging the country.

This came as the government disclosed it had uncovered fresh 32 smuggling routes being used to take food items out of the country.

The Federal Government, however, described the current economic challenges as the handiwork of “forces that are hell-bent on…plunging this country into a state of anarchy.”

It blamed those who failed to clinch power in the last election for remaining in “political mode” and are now working against the country’s interest.

Speaking on Tuesday in Abuja during the inaugural Public Wealth Management Conference organised by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, President Bola Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, said, “Forces are hell bent on plunging this country into a state of anarchy. Those who could not get into power through the ballot box instead of them to wait till 2027, they are so desperate. If this country can fall apart, as far as they’re concerned, so be it. We are going to resist them.”

Since assuming office nine months ago, the Tinubu administration said it had removed long-standing subsidies on petrol to save the government monies for infrastructural expansion.

However, reports by the International Monetary Fund said the government had secretly reintroduced subsidies to stem an uncontrollable rise in cost of living.

He also unified the foreign exchange rates, moves that have sparked collateral instability in the value of the Naira and heaped hardship on Nigerians as food prices continue to soar.

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However, the President insisted that the country was on a recovery path, refuting claims from governors elected on Peoples Democratic Party who likened Nigeria’s situation to Venezuela.

“We are on the path to redemption. Wherever Nigeria goes, it is worth repeating: that’s where Africa goes…We have to make this country work. We have to move beyond politics. We are now in the phase of governance.

“Sadly, some of our countrymen are still in the political mode. They are the practitioners of violence advocating that they are Nigerian, that our own country, our one and only Nigeria should go to Venezuela way.

“Some are agitating that we should go the Lebanon way. But Nigeria is greater than any one of us here. Nigeria will weather the storm,” Tinubu said.

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The President cited the recent interception of 45 trucks of maize bound for a neighbouring country, urging Nigerians to unite against forces bent on undermining the nation.

Tinubu said, “Just three nights ago, 45 trucks of maize were caught being transported to a neighboring country. In that Ilella axis, they’re 32 illegal smuggling routes and the moment those goods were intercepted, the price of maize fell by N10,000.

“It came down from N60,000 to N50,000 as the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security is here.

“So there are forces that are hell-bent on undermining our nation. But this is a time for us to coalesce into a single force and rally around our President, our government and each other. We have the resources. We have the intellect. We have the capacity to turn the corner.”

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At the conference themed Championing Nigeria’s Economic Prosperity, Tinubu hinted at plans to create millions of jobs by unlocking the value of Nigeria’s vast public assets with a view to optimising and doubling the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

According to him, with economic revitalisation as its top priority, the Federal Government has a target of raising at least $10bn in order to increase foreign exchange liquidity that will, in turn, stabilise the naira.

“After coming on board, our revenue for sharing in FAAC was N1.9tn. In order not to overheat the polity and economy, we had warehouse N1tn and shared N900bn. We are not altogether in a very terrible bad shape.

“Yes. There is an FX challenge, in which all hands are on deck to see that we weather the storm. As I said, we know the consequences of unveiling the masquerade,” he added.

Tinubu highlighted a low-hanging fruit of identifying, consolidating and maximising returns on government-owned assets worth trillions of naira.

He explained, “The Federal Government set a goal to raise at least $10bn in order to increase foreign exchange liquidity, a key ingredient to stabilise the Naira and grow the economy.

“At the core of this is ensuring optimal management of the assets and investments of the Federal Government towards unlocking their revenue potential.

“This includes our bold and achievable plan to double the GDP growth rate and significantly increase the GDP base over the next eight years.”

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However, he noted that decades of mismanagement and underutilisation have plagued the country’s assets spread across Nigeria and outside the borders, leading to revenue losses that have hindered economic growth.

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He assured Nigerians that the newly restructured Ministry of Finance Incorporated, which is to act as custodian and active manager of these assets, will now take the centre stage.

Emphasising transparency and accountability as fundamental principles for attracting alternative investment capital, he noted that these improved returns would be directed towards “crucial funding for education, healthcare, housing, power, roads and other areas vital to lifting millions out of poverty” and stimulating sustainable economic development and job creation for the youths.

Tinubu stressed that this initiative transcends revenue generation to create inclusive and sustainable growth. By efficiently managing public resources, the government aims to build a more equitable society and unlock the full potential of its citizens, he added.

Therefore, he called on all stakeholders, including Ministries, Development Financial Institutions, and both public and private sector players, to partner with MOFI in optimising these strategic assets, expressing hope that the collaborative effort will unlock Nigeria’s full potential and create a brighter future for all citizens.

Earlier, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, said President Tinubu was mindful of the pains of his administration’s reform programmes and is deploying appropriate mechanisms to address the challenges.

He affirmed that while 42,000 metric tons of assorted grains are being released with 60,000 metric tons to follow shortly, as part of measures to arrest food inflation, food prices would drop in the coming months as a result of government actions and policies.

On his part, Chairman of the MOFI Board, Dr Shamsudeen Usman, guaranteed that MOFI will, going forward, play a more active role in the management of assets under its purview, even as he urged operators of the assets to see MOFI as partners rather than competitors or regulators.

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In a similar vein, the Chief Executive Officer of MOFI, Dr Armstrong Takang, announced the launch of a N100bn Project Preparation Fund by MOFI as part of its renewed mandate of ensuring professionalism in the management of public assets.

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He said the overall objective is to deliver commercial value for the common good of the people, assuring that the company will transform the fortunes of public assets under its purview and restore investor confidence in both the operations and management of the assets.

Also, present at the meeting were the Governor of Cross River State, Sen. Bassey Otu; Senate Committee Chairman on Finance, Sen. Sani Musa; Ministers of Agriculture, Sen. Abubakar Kyari; Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu; Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Doris Uzoka-Anite, and the CEO of Heirs Holding, Mr Tony Elumelu, among others.

Opposition kicks

Reacting, Chief Spokesman for Labour Party Campaign Organisation, Yunusa Tanko, described the statement from the presidency as ‘very hypocritical.’

Tanko stated that it was shameful of the current administration to be seeking for people to blame for the manner they allegedly mismanaged the economy.

He said, “Is it not shameful for them to be looking for people to blame? This government said they have the solution to all the problems including how to make the economy work. How can critics and opposition like us mastermind inflation or cause economic hardship in the country? After all, we are not controlling any government’s apparatus. Isn’t it laughable? We don’t even have all the indices to control this economy. They used their hands to destroy the economy because they were not prepared.

“During Buhari era, the petrol price was N145 per litre. But the day President Bola Tinubu took over the office, he immediately announced the removal of fuel subsidy and that was what skyrocketed the prices of commodities in the market. Was he not the one who also said he wanted a single line of foreign exchange?

“They should blame themselves and quit the office if they know they are incapable of performing. Why should they still be telling Nigerians to be patient after eight months in office? We are talking about a government that promised the people palliative of N25,000, increase in salary of civil servants, invest in agricultural produce and youth empowerment. They have failed to fulfill any of their promises. So why should Nigerians believe and be patient with them again?”

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