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Gunmen Abduct Wike’s Aide From Port Harcourt Hotel

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 16:48

Anugbom Anuoha, the Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on Lands and Survey, has been kidnaped by unknown gunmen clad in military uniform.

Confirming the incident in a statement in Port Harcourt on Friday, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, said the incident took place on Thursday at about 8:30pm at an unnamed hotel in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

“This is unfortunate and as a command we are touched by this development and will go all out to ensure his speedy and timely release," Omoni said.

"The Commissioner of Police (CP) has given a marching order to all the tactical units, including the IGP Monitoring Unit, to work round the clock and ensure that the victim is released in record time. Contacts have been made with sister security agencies and other stakeholders in this direction."

Omoni also appealed to the general public to provide useful information that could lead to the release of the governor’s aide.

“The public is hereby assured that there is no cause for alarm as the already existing peace in the state will be sustained,” he added.

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Eight Robbers Sentenced To Death In Adamawa Attack Journalists Out Of Anger

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 14:51

Journalists were the victims of an attack by robbers in Adamawa State during a court appearance.

The eight robbers were sentenced to death by hanging by a High Court in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, on Thursday.

However, a mild drama occurred outside the court room when the robbers attacked the journalists for taking pictures of them.

Meanwhile, according to the presiding judge, Justice Abdulaziz Waziri of High Court III, Yola, the convicted persons were found guilty on a nine-count charge.

Noting that the conviction followed a thorough review of the statements of both the prosecuting and defence counsel, the judge said the presentations of the counsel and those of the witnesses proved beyond reasonable doubt that the suspects were guilty of the offences as charged.

Justice Waziri therefore pronounced "death by hanging" on them, but explained that they had 90 days to appeal the judgement.

The convicted eight are: Aliyu Ardo, Sadiq Mijinyawa, Shaibu Abubakar, Sani Musa, Kabiru Abdullahi, Saidu Abubakar, Umar Mohammed and Sanusi Ibrahim.

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APC On Atiku's US Visit: A Thief Is A Thief No Matter Where He Goes

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 14:42

The US chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) says whether Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), visits the US or not, his character remains "questionable".

This was contained in a statement issued by Adesegun Labinjo, Chairman of the US chapter of the party, on Friday.

Until Thursday, Atiku had not visited the US in more than 10 years, as a result of allegations of corruption-related matters, including one involving US congressman Williams Jefferson which claimed that part of the $100,000 cash found in his refrigerator was intended as bribe for Atiku for his role in helping American firm iGate secure a contract to expand broadband in Nigeria.

However, he landed at the Washington Dulles International Airport on Thursday evening, accompanied by Senate President Bukola Saraki. See Also Breaking News VIDEO: Atiku Arrives In US All Smiles In Saraki's Company 0 Comments 6 Days Ago

Speaking on the visit, Labinjo said although the party had no objection to Atiku's visit to the US, “the questionable character of the individual does not evaporate because he has stepped on the soil of America”.

The statement continued: “A thief remains a thief no matter where he or she visits. Obviously, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku has every reason to have kept off the USA given the cloak of corruption he is wearing.

“After a long spell of noticeable absence and factual concerns about Alhaji Abubakur Atiku’s antecedents in the USA arising from his dealings with former Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana, who was convicted and served a jail term on account of bribery resulting from a telecommunication transaction in Nigeria, Atiku is now here again in the US.

“Congressional records point to the fact that Atiku engaged in money laundering through his wife who was then resident in the USA. We see Atiku, who is the 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of Nigeria, as a self-centered corrupt Vice President under President Obasanjo’s regime.

“Certainly, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku‘s entry and presence in the USA is a mockery of President Bush Presidential Proclamation 7750 which affirms the denial of US visa to foreign officials involved with corruption and other supporting legislations by the congress. APC-USA believes that Alhaji Abubakar Atiku should be held accountable for his involvement in money laundering.”

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SPECIAL REPORT: Corruption, Kickbacks, Fraud, Partisanship Mar FG's N20bn Social Intervention Fund

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 14:24

Video of SPECIAL REPORT: How FG ‘Mismanaged’ N20billion Social Intervention Fund SPECIAL REPORT: How FG ‘Mismanaged’ N20billion Social Intervention Fund

The Nigerian government, through the Trader Moni loan scheme, might have just mismanaged at least N20billion of the funds set aside for the Social Intervention Programme (SIP), SaharaReporters can show.

On January 16, 2019, while speaking at a presidential town hall co-production between Daria Media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo confirmed that the present administration had spent something around N20billion on the Trader Moni scheme.

SIP is an empowerment initiative introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. The aim, the president said, is to give financial support to indigent Nigerians. The programme, which is subsumed under the office of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, is geared towards restoring “livelihood, economic opportunities and sustenance for the poor across the country”. Trader Moni is one of the various government initiatives to achieve this goal, after an investigation by SaharaReporters, it was discovered that the scheme is fraught with different financial irregularities.

Financial mismanagement, in simple terms, refers to unskillful or ineffective way of handling funds.

The Myth of Trader Moni

The Trader Moni collateral-free loan, as positioned by Osinbajo, is a government programme created to provide funds for petty traders and artisans across the country. It is one of the projects under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) scheme and executed by the Bank of Industry (BoI).

At different fora both within and outside Nigeria, Osinbajo explained that the Federal Government would have given out two million of the interest-free loan by the end of 2018. The initial offer of the loan is N10,000 with the opportunity to grow up to N100,000 upon offsetting the old offers. Invariably, the government would have invested a total sum of N20billion on the scheme at start-off.

While speaking in Minnesota, USA, at a town hall meeting with Nigerians in the Diaspora, Osinbajo stated the potential economic impact of Trader Moni for Nigerians at the “bottom of the pyramid”.

“One of the critical things we are doing,” he said, “is looking at how to resource the bottom of the pyramid; how to give credit to the bottom of the pyramid so that they can do their business which is usually informal. So with what is called the Trader Moni scheme or the Market Moni, depending on which one it is; this is a credit scheme being given to almost two million traders. We believe that by giving them money directly, they are able to improve their inventory, do more of their trade and get out of poverty.”

The vice president restated the same position to pressmen in Oyo State during the launch of the Trader Moni programme in the state.

However, this lofty idea is at best a myth as the implementation of Trader Moni loan falls short of the well-branded campaign about the scheme as led by the vice-president.  The Nigerian government does not have a water-tight strategy for recouping the funds, if indeed it intends to recover the loans.

An officer at the Corporate Communication department of BoI put the burden of recouping the loans on the agents. Interestingly, these agents have been accused of various fraudulent acts in disbursing the funds.

Speaking with the Civil Media Lab during a fact-finding visit to the bank’s head office in Marina, Lagos, the staffer, who asked not to be quoted, emphasised the importance of a seamless and transparent registration process in monitoring the loans. He explained that the agents create mobile wallets for the beneficiaries with which they are credited and are expected to pay through.

Mobile wallet, as defined by Techopedia, is a type of payment service through which businesses and individuals can receive and send money via mobile devices. It is a form of e-commerce model that is designed to be used with mobile devices due to their convenience and easy access.

He said the traders can walk into any commercial bank with the weekly refund of N437:50 over the course of six months, when they are expected to have completed the payment. They would instantly receive a higher loan of N15,000, the BoI staffer added.

We Are Not Collecting Refunds, Banks Say

However, staffers of the customer service and marketing units of Access Bank, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Fidelity Bank, First Bank, Polaris Bank Limited, and Standard Chartered, all said they had not received instructions on repayment of the Trader Moni refunds.

The branch office of Zenith Bank at Isaac John Street, Ikeja GRA, Lagos, said it does not accept payment for Trader Moni refund, while Polaris Bank on the same street said it had not been advised on which platform to pay through.

A Fidelity Bank staffer also told this reporter that no such payment was set up in the bank, but advised that banks closer to the market should be visited, stating that perhaps they might have plan for such payment.

Also, contrary to BoI’s strategy to use agents for sensitising the traders on how to pay back, Bulus, a coordinator for Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states, dissuaded our correspondent who disguised as a beneficiary seeking to return the loan. “We have not started collecting back the loan. It will be announced in the news when collection starts,” Bulus said over the phone.

These go to show the apparent lack of information on the payment process — if at all there is any — for the agents and traders. A tall, dark man who identified himself as Mr. Bakare told this reporter at the Command Centre in Ojuwoye, one of the markets visited by the vice-president, that he does not know how the government intends to get back the loans. “We don’t know how we will return the money,” he said.

The Scam

Numerous fraudulent activities that make repayment almost impossible also characterised the scheme. Many of the traders who had benefited from the funds cannot be directly linked to the money. As such, it is easier to avoid repayment. In many instances, agents in these markets get the loan in their personal accounts, then disburse by hand to the traders. The traders, majority of whom are illiterate and do not have bank accounts, rely on agents as middlemen to access the funds. These agents then take a cut, sometimes as high as 50 per cent of the loan, from the traders.

Tales of agents swindling traders pervade all the markets. Some traders accused the agents of charging them between N200 to N1,000 as registration fees, while there are others said the agents took a share, which the traders had to agree to before the facilitation commenced.

“The money was shared equally [between the beneficiaries and their agents],” some traders at Ojuwoye market said. One of the traders, who sells sealed groundnut oil, queried the folly in expecting her to pay back N10,000 when she got N5,000. “How do they expect us to pay back such money?” she asked.

Similarly, other traders who got the loan in Yaba said they were given N8,000, suggesting that N2,000 was deducted. “They gave us N8,000. We were told the money would be N10,000 but it was N8,000 that was eventually given to us,” Elizabeth, who sells plantain along the rail line, said.

Another woman who sells soup condiments along the same rail line said the scheme is marred with extortion. “We thought they were going to help us but they did not. They even collected N1,000 each from us and we registered but we did not get any money.”

While majority of the traders claimed they did not get the loan, some received more than once. Folashade, a middle-aged woman, who sells rubber slippers at Bolade Market, claimed some of her colleagues got more than once.

“Some people got twice and even three times while some did not get at all. Some of us are looking for funds to trade. Please, help us appeal to the government… those of us who really need the fund did not get it.”

Like Leaders, Like Followers

Toyin Adeniji, ED Micro Enterprises of BoI, believes that the promise of higher loan would entice the traders to refund the N10,000. When asked during the programme activation in Onitsha Market, Mrs Adeniji simply said the beneficiary can easily be identified, giving that they were registered in the market where they trade.

“We know them because they are in this market; they are not going anywhere. We have come to register them in their market; we are registering them in front of their table tops, so they are part of this market. Even the people that hawk things around the market are not going anywhere. So, we know that they are tied to this market.”

This, however, might not be as easy as she explained. On one hand, some of the traders, in order to avoid repayment, did not use their phone numbers to register; rather many of them got a new sim card, with which they registered, on the advice of some agents. “I have removed the sim card from my phone,” said a trader at Ojuwoye Market in Mushin, one of the markets visited by duo of Osinbajo and Adeniji.

On another hand, the promise of a higher loan might not elicit the returns as envisaged. Apart from the obvious misinformation that the funds are a windfall, the agents are dissuading willing traders from making refunds, SaharaReporters found out.

The state coordinator for the scheme in Delta and Edo states, simply identified as Paul on the Trader Moni’s website, advised this reporter to hold on to the money as there are no funds available for the second tranche yet. “Madam, hold on to your money first. Nobody will give you any now,” Paul said in pidgin English.

Damola, coordinator for Ekiti State, similarly advised our correspondent not to refund, at least, till the elections are over, if she is interested in refunding the loan.

‘It’s Not a Loan’ As Some Traders Believe

At the popular Yaba market, many of the traders believe the N10,000 handed to them is a windfall, their share of the national largesse.

“They never told us we would pay back; they said it is government money,” a plump lady with a tray full of plantain said when she was told she would have to return the loan. 

Another woman, who sells pumpkin leaves, locally known as ‘ugwu’, said they were not informed it was a loan. “We asked them. They said it was Federal Government’s money for all market women. How can N10,000 even be loan? It is not a loan; it’s a gift to women in Nigeria,” she said.

At Oshodi, a plump lady who sells pepper became angry when she learnt she would have to repay the loan. She had believed the money was a gift from the government. “They said they dashed us; we were not told we would repay it. As far as I am concerned, it is a gift. It is part of our resources; I cannot refund it.”

Wasted Effort! ‘We Queued But Got No Money’

Two million traders multiplied by N10,000 ‘loan’, in a country with 180 million people and a robust informal economy, is a drop in the ocean. It is expected that not all the traders would benefit from the scheme. However, if it had been better structured and the categories of traders it targeted spelt out and religiously followed, thousands of people who felt the registration process was a waste of time, would have been better informed and maybe not participate.

At all the markets visited by this reporter, a large number of traders complained about the wasted hours they spent under the sun for registration that left them sun-burnt and with no money. At Mushin, Oshodi, Berger, Bariga, Sabo and Yaba markets, a great number of the traders said it was a wasted effort. “They took our pictures and data but we never got the money. Everyone on this axis did not get the loan,” a roadside beauty vendor in Yaba said as she cleaned the nails of her customer.

In Arena Shopping Complex, one of the markets also visited by the vice-president, a light-skinned lady, who sells ointment by the gate of the complex, agonised about her ordeal in trying to secure the loan. Her ware is a handful of creams, like Wytacan, that stood raised in five rolls on her small-sized tray. She believed the loan would have greatly improved her trade, but she did not get it.

Narrating her experience, she said: “The agent that came to us really made us suffer. He took us to Mushin to collect the money. My colleague and I went with him to Mushin. I don’t know what he said to his colleague, but we were not given any money at the end of the day. I paid for his transportation and wasted time I could have spent selling my goods.

“When the first agent who registered us came back, we told him what happened and he told us that the other agent had taken our money. He said we should not have followed him. Since that day, I swore never to participate in any government scheme. The grace of God is sufficient for me.”

Some of those who benefited from the loan have no use for it as N10,000 is too meager to have any impact on their trade.

“What will N10,000 do for me? It cannot even buy this box of eye pencils,” a woman who sells beauty products at Yaba said. Another woman, Oluwakemi, who sells baskets of pepper and tomatoes, said she bought food items with the money.

“I used it to buy foodstuffs for my house. It is not the kind of money I need for this business. It cannot even buy one big basket of tomatoes or a bag of onions,” she said.0

There are peasant traders across these markets that the loan could have indeed be beneficial to, however, for lack of proper management, they did not get it.

The 'Scandal'

Critics and opposition members of the ruling party have alleged that the government is enticing traders with the loan in return for their votes as the 2019 general election approaches.

Shortly after the vice-president visited some markets in Lagos to launch the scheme, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused the Buhari-led government of sowing the N10,000 loans for a harvest of votes.

Ayodele Fayose, the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, also indicted the Nigerian government for re-looting the recovered Abacha’s loot under the guise of the Trader Moni scheme.

The Nigerian government denied all the allegations.

At the inspection of the Trader Moni Command Centre in Abuja, Osinbajo dispelled accusations that the Trader Moni Scheme is a ploy by the APC-led government to buy votes ahead of the 2019 general election. He said the funds were approved by the National Assembly, hence could not have been a gimmick to ensure that the Buhari-Osinbajo administration return to power in 2023.

Osinbajo’s rebuttal might be the truth, but the reality for many traders is that the loans are, indeed, an attempt by the government to buy their votes. A husband and a wife trading in iced blocks derided the scheme, tagging it an attempt to buy votes.

“We only heard about the money; we did not get it. I am a card-carrying member of the APC and I only heard about it from people in Arena Shopping Complex. Sometime ago, some government officials came to capture our details and collected N200 from us, but we have not heard from them. N10,000 is not enough to take care of any business except you are trading in pure water. The money is for buying votes; I hope they get to win eventually.”

It’s Grant Not Loan, Experts Say

Financial experts, who spoke with SaharaReporters on the subject, opined that the scheme is better tagged a grant since the government has no intention of recouping the funds.

Jide Ojo, Executive Director of OJA Development Consultant, argued that the lack of accountability and the sustainability process will make it almost impossible to ensure that the traders return the loan at the expiration of the six-month window period.

“I know that some state governors were giving their citizens N5,000,” he explained. “But you know that it is a gift or a grant. You are not expecting them to pay back. It is a monthly emolument or allowance. But this one is done under the guise that the traders are going to pay back; you do not have any guarantor or any collateral and you are getting N10,000 believing that people will be honest enough to want to pay back.”

Similarly, Tope Fasua, an Economist and presidential aspirant, stated that the Federal Government has not put in place mechanism to suggest that it is interested in recovering the loans given to the traders.

“In terms of recouping, there is no process at all; there is no accountability, and certainly there is no way, they are going to recoup that money. The programme is fraught with all sorts of loopholes. It is a monumental waste.

“The government does not even intend to get the money back. They also know that the money would not be got back. It is ‘saara’ and the people actually deserve it, so let’s call it for what it is. The issue then becomes, ‘what is the process by which you started to give the people the money?’ Why did you call it loan? Who gives a loan at zero interest rate? It is a grant from government.”

He added that the appropriation of the funds was illegal, arguing that the government did not expressly state to the National Assembly what the funds would be used for, but instead, pulled it out of funds set aside for the Social Intervention Programme.

The Scheme has Potential to Boost the Economy, Says HEDA Executive Director

Speaking on the matter, Lanre Suraj, the Executive Director of Human and Development Agenda (HEDA), said the Trader Moni scheme is a good idea with the potential to put money into the informal economy, but for the element of corruption that has overshadowed the implementation.

“The Trader Moni, if properly scrutinized and well-implemented, has the capacity to build our small and medium scale entrepreneurs and enterprises in Nigeria,” he said.

“It can also bring about basic foundation towards the source of food sufficiency in food production and other basic necessities of life that are needed for not only the downtrodden, but also some members of the middle-class. The challenge has always been the element of corruption and the insincerity of purpose on the part of officials of government responsible for the implementation and management of initiatives of this nature.

“My hope and wish is that this is not going to suffer similar fate like SURE-P and other initiatives that were designed towards this line of initiatives in support of people who desire and require this kind of support from the government.”

He stressed that a well-planned repayment system is pivotal to the success of the scheme, so that more people can benefit.

“What I thought was going to be the basis of motivation for many of the beneficiaries to refund, is that once the initial disbursement is returned and abided by that beneficiary, they stand the chance of getting a higher amount, which I assume will then be a process that must have been affected by both the NIPSS and also the banks, because it is part of the social intervention programme of the Federal Government. It is therefore very crucial and shouldn’t be rocket science.”

Suraj also discarded the insinuation by critics and the opposition that the loan is an inducement.

“It is not money that is going to ordinary people that should be considered as a sort of motivation for votes. When the money is given to big men in their banks and companies, it is not considered as inducement for votes. It is the one that is going to the ordinary people that is classified as vote buying.

“I think it is complete nonsense and it should not be politicised for any purpose. Should it be stopped such that people should not now benefit from what will assist their lives, uplift their businesses and sources of revenue? I don’t think that is correct.”

N10,000 Not Enough to Boost any Serious Business, Says CISLAC Executive Director

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the head of Transparency International in Nigeria, has a different viewpoint.

He questioned the timing of the scheme, and why government had to wait till the tail-end of the administration before embarking on the project.

“The Trader Moni scheme of the Federal Government is nothing but vote buying,” the TI head said. “What were they doing for three and a half years? N10,000 cannot really boost the business of any serious person.

“I think this policy is created towards the reelection of the current party. Therefore, it is not meant for really helping traders. It is not about helping the traders; it is a calculated attempt at vote buying because if is it not about buying the traders, why didn’t they do this three years ago?”

He advised the Nigerian government, if they were interested in boosting the economy, to develop policies that would allow Nigerians engage in profitable commercial businesses, stating that cutting down taxes on small and medium scale businesses is one way to encourage active commercial investment among Nigerians.

He maintained that the government cannot be said to be interested in enhancing the economy, while it overlooks big corporations avoiding taxes that could be good revenue for the government to build infrastructure.

“There is a contradiction, really,” he said.

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Imo APC Suspends Okorocha

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 11:03

The Imo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has suspended Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State.

Announcing his suspension on Thursday, the party accused the governor of “gross anti-party” activities. 

Okorocha was seen campaigning for his son-in-law, a member of Action Alliance, during an APC campaign rally in the state.

The governor did this without recourse to Aisha Buhari, the wife of the president, who was present at the rally.

A faction of the party in the state that suspended Okorocha said a committee was set up to investigate him and claimed his actions are in line with Article 21 (B) I-VI of the APC Constitution (October 2014 as amended).

The Imo State Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party, Prince Marcellinus Nlemigbo, said that a letter conveying the message has been sent to the National Chairman of the party.

“A letter by the Imo State chapter of the APC signed by the chairman conveyed the suspension to the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole. We regretted that Okorocha who is the party’s candidate for Imo West Senatorial District has vowed to undermine the APC and its electoral interest," he said.

Nlemigbo added that the decision was to save the party from the “machinations of Okorocha”, with the expulsion giving him time so that he can fully move to his party, the Action Alliance (AA).”

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Join APC And All Your Sins Will Be Forgiven, Oshiomhole Declares

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 11:01

Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has announced that those who join the ruling party will have their "sins" forgiven.

Oshiomhole made the declaration during an APC rally in Edo State on Thursday.

He encouraged more politicians in the opposition to follow the steps of some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who have decamped to APC.

His words: “I am told that there are a lot of very very senior people from PDP who have decided to join forces with President Buhari to take the broom to sweep away PDP and to continue to ensure that APC continues to preside all over Nigeria.

“It includes my own brother, my friend who comes from my own clime, Henry Duke Genebe. He is the former organising secretary of PDP and we also have former vice chairman of PDP and leader of Edo North of PDP. We also have my brother Chief Esheshi Godwin. He is also former council chairman and my very dear friend.

"We have quite a number of other leaders who have come. We have quite a number of other leaders who have come… in fact, once you have joined APC, all your sins are forgiven.”

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Nigerian Govt To Give Final Verdict On N30,000 Minimum Wage On January 22

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 10:54

Ngige addressing the press

Ngige addressing the press Channels TV

The Nigerian government, through the National Council of State, will announce its final stance on the N30,000 minimum wage on January 22, 2019.

This was disclosed by Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment while speaking with State House correspondents after the National Economic Council meeting on Thursday.

Ngige maintained that the government cannot take a unilateral decision on the minimum wage, noting that the state governors have to be carried along in the process.

His words: “The information minister told you the other day after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that we are taking our deliberations to the National Economic Council and then we close up on January 22 at the National Council of State.

“After that, we will be able to say where we are going.

“It is not a question of governors saying they cannot pay N30,000; discussions are still ongoing and will terminate on January 22, when we meet with the National Council of State.

“Governors are part of Nigeria and they are part of the government’s side of the public sector; so do not disengage them or disarticulate them from the Federal Government.”

The labour unions and the government had reached a consensus over the minimum wage after a long stretch of back-and-forth deliberations.

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Fani-Kayode, Odumakin Slam N20million Suit Against EFCC

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 10:52

Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation and Yinka Odumakin, spokesman of the Afenifere group, have filed a N20million suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the threat to them.

EFCC had threatened to arrest Fani-Kayode and Odumakin and charge them for libel over their claims that the commission laid siege to the house of Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Fani-Kayode has since apologised to the commission but insisted that some people came to search the CJN’s house in Abuja.

Onnoghen has also denied claims that the EFCC ransacked his home. 

However, in a suit filed at a Federal High Court in Abuja through their lawyer, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), Fani-Kayode and Odumakin claimed that the public announcement by the commission to arrest them is an “infringement on their human rights”.

They maintained that “the EFCC is biased and its invitation is a disguised plan to incarcerate them and thwart the cause of justice”.

They are demanding an apology from the commission and also N20million fine as “damages for the unlawful threat to arrest the applicant”.

The prayers read: “A declaration that the respondents' public declaration to arrest the applicants on the bases of spreading false rumours is an infringement of the applicants rights and a breach of their fundamental rights enshrined in Section 34(a) 35(1) (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents by themselves, agents, privies, or anybody deriving authority from them by whatever name called from harassing, intimidating, arresting, abducting or detaining the applicants.

“An order compelling the respondents to tender an unreserved public apology to the applicants for the infringement of their fundamental rights and for describing them in demeaning manners.

“An order that the respondents, pay the sum of N20,000,000.00 (Twenty Million Naira) as damages for the unlawful threat to arrest the applicants.”

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2019 Budget Debate Off To A Slow Start

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 10:49

Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, has announced the postponement of the scheduled debate on the 2019 appropriation bill.

He made this known during the plenary on Thursday, stating late distribution of “relevant documents”.

He said, “members of the house got the document on Thursday morning".

The house, thereby, postponed the debate to its next sitting till Tuesday, January 22, 2018.

On resumption from its annual recess on Wednesday, the House deferred deliberations on the budget until Thursday due to the death of Abayomi Ayeola, one of its members.

President Muhammadu Buhari had submitted the budget to the National Assembly on December 19, 2018.

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SDP Missing As INEC Releases Final List Of Presidential Candidates

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 10:47

The names of the presidential and vice-presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) is missing from the final list of presidential candidates published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC published the full list on Thursday.

Donald Duke, a former Governor of Cross River State, had won the presidential primary election of the party but his victory had been challenged by Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information. The matter was taken to court and the court recognised Gana and upturned the result.

After the court ruling, the party disowned Gana, affirming their support for Duke.

Meanwhile, Orji Uzor Kalu’s name made it to the final list of candidates contesting seats at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.

Kalu, who is currently battling an N7.6billion fraud case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will be running on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Kalu left the country to Germany claiming illness. He was then declared wanted by EFCC, having missed scheduled court hearings.

Despite Kalu’s illness claims, he has been spotted at different APC campaign rallies and is also said a key member of Buhari’s reelection committee.

Kalu is seeking to be a member of the Senate after serving as Governor of Abia state between 1999 and 2007.

According to the commission, 73 candidates are contesting in the presidential election, 1,904 in the senatorial and 4,680 in the House of Representatives elections, making a total of 6,657 candidates contesting for 470 seats.

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Houses Torched In Benue Communal Clash

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 10:44

Houses were burnt during a communal clash in Abinsi town Benue State on Thursday.

The clash was between the Tiv and Jukun clan in the state.

It was gathered that the clash, which was started by opposition groups, went out of control, degenerating into an ethnic clash.

According to reports, not less than 15 houses were torched in the ensuing clash.

It was gathered that the clash led to gridlock on the busy Makurdi road, with motorists parking along the road for fear of being attacked.

It took the intervention of policemen to restore peace to the community.

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APC Government Officials Are Hand-Picking INEC Ad-Hoc Staff. Adamawa IPAC Cries Out

Sahara Reporters - Fri, 2019-01-18 00:02

The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Adamawa state chapter has cried fowl, accusing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of conniving with the ruling APC to recruit ad-hoc staff for the forthcoming general elections. 

IPAC raised the alarm in Yola on Thursday, alleging that the electoral umpire was "making desperate moves to rig the poll in favor of the ruling All Progressives Congress".

Tahir Shehu, IPAC Chairman of the state chapter, said "it has come to our notice that political officer holders in the APC government are submitting lists of ad-hoc staff, for the conduct of the 2019 general elections".

Tahir, who doubles as Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said he was reacting to information at his disposal, that the APC had allegedly concluded arrangement to recruit most of the adhoc staff for the conduct of the forthcoming elections.

He however called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the chairman of INEC, Prof. Yakubu Mohammed to call the Adamawa State resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), to order, stressing, "he should not to be allowed to plunge the state into chaos". "Another electoral crisis will not augur well for anybody", he added.

“We have gathered that APC members are collaborating with INEC officials to submit the lists of adhoc staff for the conduct of 2019 general elections, especially in Adamawa State.  

"We are therefore alerting  the Federal Government and warning the Chairman of INEC and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa State, to be careful, because we already have a fragile security situation in our state.

INEC should "quickly halt this drift and provide a level playing ground", he warned.

Kashim Gaidam, REC, Adamawa State, reacted thus, "we do not entertain unspecified allegations.

"If he (Tahir Shehu) has a genuine allegation, the onus is on him to be specific and come forward and tell us who the INEC official is and from which local government, so that we can take the appropriate, action; else politicians should stop this unnecessary heating up of the polity", Gaidam rebutted.

Also reacting, Ahmed Lawan, Organizing Secretary of Adamawa APC, dismissed the allegations, saying "the PDP is already jittery of losing the 2019 elections.

“The PDP is seeing defeat stirring it in the face that is why they now started complaining, using the IPAC umbrella,” he said.

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INEC Chairman Warns VCs: Don't Appoint Partisan Lecturers As Returning Officers

Sahara Reporters - Thu, 2019-01-17 23:52

Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has warned vice chancellors of federal universities against nominating card-carrying members of political parties as retuning officers for the 2019 elections.

He gave the warning on Thursday in Abuja at an emergency meeting  with the VCs.

According to the INEC Chairman, collation of results would take place in 8,809 registration area or wards, 774 local government areas and 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. He added that the commission would require the services of 10,603 staff to support the various collation and declaration processes.

"We have requested each university for a specified number of academic staff as contained in my letter to the vice chancellors. Staff who are card carrying members or have participated in partisan politics should not be nominated. Similarly, those who may not be involved in partisan political activities but are known to have obvious political leanings should not be nominated," he said.

He explained that the commission would take its time to scrutinise the list, which will be compiled by the vice chancellors, just as he urged them to resist the temptation of lobbyists. He stated that the commission drew the required collation and returning officers from the academic staff of federal universities.

A total of 73 candidates are contesting in the presidential election, 1,904 for senatorial and 4,680 for the Federal House of Representatives elections, bringing the total to 6,657 candidates contesting for 470 seats.

The final list of candidates for governorship, state Houses of Assembly and FCT Area Council elections will be released on January 31, 2019, in accordance with the commission's timetable and schedule of activities.

Professor Kyari Mahmud, vice chancellor of Moddibo Adama University of Technology, Yola , spoke on behalf of the vice chancellors and assured the commission of their commitment to free and fair elections.

"We are committed to deepening Nigeria's democracy and we hope and pray that all vice chancellors will participate actively to ensure that Nigeria get free, fair and credible elections in 2019," he stated.

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PHOTOS: Atiku And Team Pose For The Cameras After Arriving In the US

Sahara Reporters - Thu, 2019-01-17 23:43

Atiku Abubakar arrived in the United States on Thursday evening after decades of speculation he could never do so due to allegations of corruption.

Accompanied by Senate President Bukola Saraki, Atiku and his team posed for the cameras at the Washington Dulles International Airport on Thursday. See Also Breaking News VIDEO: Atiku Arrives In US All Smiles In Saraki's Company 0 Comments 6 Days Ago

The photos below:

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Lecturer Sues Federal University Otuoke VC For Demoting Him From Professor To Lecturer 1

Sahara Reporters - Thu, 2019-01-17 23:25

Professor Seth Jaja, Vice Chancellor, Federal University Otuoke

Professor Seth Jaja, Vice Chancellor, Federal University Otuoke

Stephen Nwabuzor, one of the professors demoted by the Federal University Otuoke in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, has dragged the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Professor Seth Accra Jaja, and the management of the institution to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Yenagoa, over his demotion from rank of Professor to Lecturer 1.

On December 18, 2018, SaharaReporters had reported that the Governing Council of the institution made the decision to demote seven professors of the Federal University Otuoke at its 10th meeting. See Also Sahara Reporters JUST IN: Federal University Otuoke Demotes Seven Professors To Lecturer Grade 0 Comments 1 Month Ago

However, in a suit filed before the National Industrial Court, marked NICN/YEN01/2019, the aggrieved Professor Nwabuzor sought the order of the court to make a declaration that the regulation of his appointment as Professor to a pensionable appointment by the institution’s letter of the appointment dated September 1, 2015 and the confirmation of his appointment vide the letter of February 21, 2017, has statutory flavour and could not be tampered with except in accordance with the Federal University, Otuoke (Establishment) Act 2015.

Also sought is a “declaration that the purported conversion of the claimant’s pensionable appointment to a contract appointment is ultra vires the defendants having regard to the Federal University, Otuoke (Establishment ) Act, 2015 of the 1999 constitution (as Amended) and all known Labour practices; a declaration that the purported reclassification of appointment of the claimant by the defendant from Professor to Lecturer 1 on the grounds that the claimant did not have the requisite scholarship at the point of entry without hearing the claimant is ultra vires, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect".

The lecturer is also seeking "an order of the honourable court setting aside the defendants’ letter of 5th of July, 2018, converting the claimant's statutory appointment to a mere contract of employment".

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VIDEO: Atiku Arrives In US All Smiles In Saraki's Company

Sahara Reporters - Thu, 2019-01-17 22:57

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has arrived in the United States of America.

He landed at the Washington Dulles International Airport on Thursday evening, accompanied by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

SaharaReporters had reported earlier in the day that Atiku was scheduled to travel to the United States “any moment from now”, possibly before Saturday’s presidential debate organised by the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG). See Also Exclusive EXCLUSIVE: ‘Atiku To Travel To The US ‘Very, Very, Very Soon’ 0 Comments 6 Days Ago

He hadn't stepped on American soil for well over decade dating back to his vice presidency, allegedly due to the belief he would be arrested for allegations of corruption, including one by US congressman Williams Jefferson that part of the $100,000 cash found in his refrigerator was intended as bribe for Atiku for his role in helping American firm iGate secure a contract to expand broadband in Nigeria.

Video of Atiku Arrives In US All Smiles In Saraki's Company Atiku Arrives In US All Smiles In Saraki's Company

However, in October, Atiku Abubakar, Gbenga Daniel, Director-General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Orgsanisation (APCO), said his principal had received “signals from American officials” to apply for visa and it would be granted.119 Comments 2 Months Ago

Despite the protestations of Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, that the United States should exercise caution in granting visa to Atiku, it was reported in December that the visa had indeed been granted.

“Atiku will travel to the US any moment from now, and it could even be on Thursday,” a source very familiar with the development had told SaharaReporters late Wednesday. “He is still afraid the coast is not completely clear, and he could be harassed or arrested once he steps in. But I can authoritatively confirm that he will indeed be going to the US very, very, very soon."

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The Passage Of The #GEOBill Is Long Overdue By Chioma Agwuegbo

Sahara Reporters - Thu, 2019-01-17 22:21

Being female in Nigeria can be considered an extreme sport, with women and girls perpetually playing the odds in a game where the house is rigged to win. 

For over 30 years, Nigeria has paid lip service to the protection and promotion of the rights of women and girls. Past governments have said one thing, hurriedly signing international treaties, but failing (woefully) to domesticate them. These treaties include the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), in 1985 under military rule, the African charter on Human and People’s Rights, touted as the most continent friendly, yet progressive document on women’s rights, which the African Union adopted in 2003 and Nigeria ratified in 2004. 

This lip service has had and continues to have severe consequences for women across the country, and even in the diaspora. 

A few years ago, a video of three women who had stolen pepper in a market in Ejigbo, Lagos State surfaced; not because they had been handed over to the market authorities or law enforcement, but because they had been stripped naked, beaten within an inch of their lives, and men stuffed sticks, and ground, dried pepper into their vaginas. One of those women died. A lot of initial outrage and arrests, shock, and heavy sentences later, the matter has died without any logical conclusion that will deter reoccurrence. 

In 2010, a former employee of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency accused the agency of firing her because she refused to abort her baby, contravening their law that forbids unmarried women from being pregnant. Her application to the agency to marry the father of her child had been denied, even though she had put in the required two years of service before marriage. 

Still within security circles, the Nigerian Police Act is rife with discriminatory provisions for women who wish to enlist. They must be unmarried, and then apply to the Police Commissioner of their Command for permission to marry. It gets worse; an unmarried woman police officer that gets pregnant will be discharged from the force, yet nothing is said about the man who impregnates the woman.

Until 2014 and the historical judgment by the Supreme Court, Igbo Customary Law barred the female child, irrespective of the circumstances of her birth, from inheriting or partaking in the sharing of the property and estate of her father.

It begs the question, what does Nigeria have against women and girls? What reason could ever suffice for the delays in immediately halting the various manifestations of discrimination against half of the population? 

How does a nation that purports to uphold the Constitution thrive in the absence of the full actualisation of the International Covenants of Human Rights enshrined in that same Constitution? Instead, it whips up the National Gender Policy, which in itself is a decent collation of the national and international treaties the government has signed up to, but without any legal backing, is as toothless and ineffective as those get.

Enter the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill, popularly known as the #GEOBill, an appropriation the best parts of CEDAW, the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women and the National Gender Policy.

The #GEOBill has suffered many refusals in the hands of an increasingly and predominantly male legislature that refuses to prioritise the rights and protection of women. The 6th Assembly threw it out for being ‘unAfrican’. The Bill was defeated in March 2016, and a second, watered down version thrown out in September 2016, for ‘going against our traditional and religious’ practises. 

Which practices? Is one of them marrying children, which some legislators are wont to do? Verified statistics place underage marriage in Nigeria between 43 and 45 percent, in a country with the highest number of out of school children in the world. 

These legislators couldn’t be bothered to form a quorum on the 9th of December 2016 for the Bill to be presented for public hearing, and in 2018, two dates for public hearing on the Bill were postponed.  What does Nigeria have against women and girls? What does the Legislature have against the protection of women and girls, and the promotion of their rights to self-actualisation in Nigeria?

The 8th Assembly, and the Assemblies before them, have failed women. They will go down in ignominy as sitting within the chambers that denied women their rights to thrive in Nigeria as equal, deserving members of society. 

We hope that the 9th Assembly will pass the #GEOBill, treating it with the urgency that it has lacked, but by Jove, it totally deserves. 


Chioma Agwuegbo, a communication strategist, is founder of TechHerNG, a community of learning, support, and collaboration for women in technology. 

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Oshiomhole To Buhari: In Your Second Term, You Must Prosecute Those Who Wasted $16bn On Power

Sahara Reporters - Thu, 2019-01-17 22:06

Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says President Muhamaddu Buhari has "a duty to man and to God" to prosecute those who wasted $16billion on electricity yet the country has nothing to show for it.

Oshiomhole also berated Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), stating that he is not fit to be President of the country.

Speaking at the APC presidential rally in Warri, Delta State, on Thursday, he urged Buhari to "ensure that he follows through till he gets answers to how the $16billion appropriated by the previous PDP administration was spent and ensure that everyone involved in the mismanagement is punished".

On Atiku's candidature, he said: “Yesterday I was watching the television and I saw PDP presidential candidate and a former customs officer (Atiku). He was saying in the likely event that Nigerians make the mistake of their lives to vote for him (Atiku) as President, whether they like it or not, even if he would die, that he will sell the oil reserves of Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo states and that he would auction all oil properties of Nigeria, whether they [Nigerians] like it or not.

“If somebody puts you on notice that if you vote for him that he is going to sell your family, will you agree? Will you vote for him? When Atiku was the Vice-President, I was the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress. When they wanted to sell Nigeria Airways, when we told him 'no', he [Atiku] said he doesn’t care. He just wanted to sell Nigeria Airways."

Oshiomhole also urged Buhari to probe the controversial $16billion power fund "wasted" on the power sector by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

"Uduaghan, you will recall as Governor of Delta State, despite the fact that you were a PDP Governor and I was in ACN as Governor, when PDP decided to sell BEDCO which covers Delta, Edo, Ondo and Ekiti states, we agreed that if PDP does the privatisation in the manner they wanted to do it, the economy of the South-South would be destroyed," Oshiomhole continued.

“We spoke loud at the National Economic Council. We told Jonathan 'don’t do it'. We told PDP not to deceive the people but they went ahead. Uduaghan and I held a press conference at my private residence in Benin. We warned that this DISCO, which is owned by a family, will destroy the economy of our states.

“Today, are you not having power crisis in Delta State? Even in Edo State, the Governor is fighting every day. They took $16billion in the name of power supply. They took the money and put it in their pockets and Nigeria remains in the dark. They signed agreement of 20 years, which is difficult to revive.

“But, Mr President, in your second term, I urge you with respect sir; you must fulfill the question which we have asked. After $16billion, you will ask, where is the light? Mr. President, you have a duty to man and to God, to ensure that that question must be answered. It must be answered judiciously. It must be answered in the court of law and what people are entitled to know."

In his address, Buhari, however, assured the people of the Niger Delta that his promise to develop the region would continue to receive serious attention.

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IN FULL: INEC's Full List Of Presidential, Senatorial, House Of Assembly Candidates

Sahara Reporters - Thu, 2019-01-17 20:07

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the full list of candidates contesting for the presidency and the National Assembly in the 2019 elections.

The list was published on the INEC website on Thursday.

The documents were signed by Rose-Oriaran Anthony, secretary of the electoral commission.

2019-GENERAL-ELECTIONS-FINAL-LIST-OF-PRESIDENTIAL-CANDIDATES.pdf (function(){ var scribd_doc = scribd.Document.getDocFromUrl('http://saharareporters.com/sites/default/files/2019-GENERAL-ELECTIONS-FINAL-LIST-OF-PRESIDENTIAL-CANDIDATES.pdf', 'pub-38756116719609018964'); var onDocReady = function(e){}; scribd_doc.addParam('jsapi_version', 2); scribd_doc.addParam('public', true); scribd_doc.addParam('allow_share', true); scribd_doc.addEventListener('docReady', onDocReady); scribd_doc.write('embedded_doc_74671'); })(); 2019 General Elections Independent National Electoral Commission Final List Of Presidential Candidates

2019-GENERAL-ELECTIONS-FINAL-LIST-OF-SENATORIAL-CANDIDATE.pdf (function(){ var scribd_doc = scribd.Document.getDocFromUrl('http://saharareporters.com/sites/default/files/2019-GENERAL-ELECTIONS-FINAL-LIST-OF-SENATORIAL-CANDIDATE.pdf', 'pub-38756116719609018964'); var onDocReady = function(e){}; scribd_doc.addParam('jsapi_version', 2); scribd_doc.addParam('public', true); scribd_doc.addParam('allow_share', true); scribd_doc.addEventListener('docReady', onDocReady); scribd_doc.write('embedded_doc_74673'); })(); 2019 General Elections Independent National Electoral Commission Final List Of Senatorial Candidates

2019-GENERAL-ELECTIONS-FINAL-LIST-OF-CANDIDATES-FOR-HOUSE-OF-REPRESENTATIVES.pdf (function(){ var scribd_doc = scribd.Document.getDocFromUrl('http://saharareporters.com/sites/default/files/2019-GENERAL-ELECTIONS-FINAL-LIST-OF-CANDIDATES-FOR-HOUSE-OF-REPRESENTATIVES.pdf', 'pub-38756116719609018964'); var onDocReady = function(e){}; scribd_doc.addParam('jsapi_version', 2); scribd_doc.addParam('public', true); scribd_doc.addParam('allow_share', true); scribd_doc.addEventListener('docReady', onDocReady); scribd_doc.write('embedded_doc_74674'); })(); Final List Of Candidates For House Of Representatives

#NigeriaDecides Elections Breaking News News AddThis :  Documents :  2019-GENERAL-ELECTIONS-FINAL-LIST-OF-PRESIDENTIAL-CANDIDATES.pdf 2019-GENERAL-ELECTIONS-FINAL-LIST-OF-SENATORIAL-CANDIDATE.pdf 2019-GENERAL-ELECTIONS-FINAL-LIST-OF-CANDIDATES-FOR-HOUSE-OF-REPRESENTATIVES.pdf Featured Image :  Original Author :  SAharaReporters, New York Disable advertisements : 

Security Operatives Arrest Six Kidnappers In Ondo

Sahara Reporters - Thu, 2019-01-17 19:20

Six kidnappers alleged to be terrorising travellers on the Owo-Akure road in Ondo State were arrested on Wednesday.

The kidnappers were arrested by a Joint Security Task Force set up by heads of security agencies in Ondo State.

The culprits were nabbed at Emure-Ile, some distance from Owo, where they used as their hideout.

Major Ojo Adenegan, spokesperson of the Nigeria Army in Ondo State, paraded the six suspects before journalists in Akure.

Adenegan said they were arrested at a hideout inside a forest in Emure-Owo during a raid by security agencies. He revealed that an informant working for the kidnap gang was also apprehended.

Femi Joseph, spokesman of the Ondo State Police Command, confirmed the arrest of the suspects via an electronic statement.

Joseph, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said some dangerous weapons were recovered from the six suspects. 

The statement read: "The Joint Task Force code named 'Operation Crime Free', acting on a tip-off, arrested six suspected kidnappers at Emure junction via Owo, where they gathered together in a suspicious manner. The following items were recovered from them: 16 locally-made guns, 17 cutlasses, 13 knives, seven handsets and the sum of twenty seven thousand, eight hundred and twenty Naira (N27,820.00k) cash.

"They also have some food items and pieces of clothing materials and items suspected to be charms. They could not give a satisfactory account of their mission, even though they claimed to have come from Kebbi State."

He, however, noted that the Police was still carrying out investigation on the suspects and will charge them to court soon.

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