OPAN Sues FG Over Use Of Cybercrimes Act To Oppress Journalists

The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria has sued the Attorney General of the federation over what it terms the unlawful use of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act 2015 to oppress journalists in the country.
The association through its members Austyn Ogannah and Daniel Elombah contends that the Act does not comply with the constitution of the country and goes against the values of journalism stressing that Section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act 2015 is not reasonably justifiable in a Democratic Society under Sections 39(3) and 45(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
While Section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act 2015 is not constitutional and valid by virtue of Sections 1(3) and 39(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
This matter came up on 17th October 2018, before the Hon. Justice Aikawa.
   
The Court granted a Motion Ex Parte seeking leave to serve the Originating Summons on the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation in the FCT, Abuja.
The AGF has been served and the suit was thereafter adjourned to 23rd November, 2018 for mention.
OPAN maintains that though the Cybercrimes Act crimes which states that ‘it is declared a crime for any person to disseminate information through a computer, which he knows to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, insult, danger, etc to another’ seems harmless on the surface, it has been a tool used by the Federal government to muzzle journalists in the country.
Describing the act as being vague and ambiguous OPAN stresses that it is used by the ‘State and high-profile persons to intimidate and oppress online journalists and to stifle open constructive criticism of governance, commercial activities and public conduct by Nigerians using the New or Digital Media.
According to the law suit, the right to freedom of expression and the press can only be curtailed by a law reasonably justifiable in a democratic societyand aggrieved persons ‘aggrieved over a libelous publication has a remedy in a civil action for defamation’
The association has also recommended that that irrelevant aspects of the act that affects journalist adversely be expunged.
The attorney general has therefore been summoned to appear before the high court in Lagos to answer to the accusations levied against the government by the association.
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FG Approves $2.9bn Eurobond To Fund Capital Projects

The Federal Government has approved the issuance of 2.9 Billion dollars Euro Bond to finance external borrowing plan to fund capital projects in the 2018 Budget.

And government gave approval for 600 helmets and Bullet Proof Jackets for the Nigerian Customs Service to strengthen activities of the Task Force for Illegal Rice Importation.

The Federal Executive Council gave the approval today at its meeting held in Abuja.

Minister of Finance Hajiya Zainab Ahmed said the bond would Bridge the shortfall in the 2018 budget.

She disclosed that the council also approved that 82.5 billion Dollars be raised to bridge the shortfall of the 500 million Dollars Eurobond that matured on July 12, 2018.

The Minister added that another 60 million Dollars combination of loan and grant had been approved for empowerment programme in Niger Delta area of the country.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige said approval was given by the council on the Draft White Paper on Industrial Harmony, prepared by the Technical committee on the Federal Public Service.

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No Ransom Was Paid To Secure Release Of Dapchi Schoolgirls – FG

The federal government has denied report that it paid ransom to a Boko Haram splinter group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) to secure the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls.

A recent report published by the United Nations, and submitted to the Security Council Committee noted that the Nigerian government paid “large ransom” to ISWAP.

But the Nigerian government said there was no basis for the world body to make such a conclusion.

“It is not enough to say that Nigeria paid a ransom, little or huge,” Information Minister, Lai Mohammed said in a statement on Thursday.

There must be a conclusive evidence to support such claim. Without that, the claim remains what it is: a mere conjecture,” he added.

 

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FG Declares Tuesday And Wednesday As Eid-Al-Adha Holiday

The Federal Government has declared Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd August as Public Holidays to mark the 2018 Eid-Al-Adha celebration.

The Minister of Interior, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau made the declaration on behalf of the Nigerian Government.

He enjoined ”Nigerians to use the period to embrace the virtues of love and sacrifice for the unity and development of the nation.”

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FG, Governors To Decentralise Policing

The Federal Government and State Governors have resolved to explore how the operations of the Nigeria Police can be decentralised in order to improve the level of policing and security.

This is one of the highpoints of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting today where a Committee of state governors and the Inspector-General of Police has been set up to ensure the decentralisation.

Members of the Committee include the Governors of Zamfara, Ondo, Plateau, Ebonyi, Katsina, Edo and Borno states, who will work with the IGP, Ibrahim Idris.

The National Security Adviser, retired Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno assured that the intelligence community and security agencies would continue to sustain current efforts to mitigate security challenges across the country.

Briefing State House correspondents, the Deputy Governor of Benue state, Mr. Benson Abounu, commended the efforts of the security agencies at mitigating the spate of insecurity in the state.

He especially thanked the security agencies for the thoroughness of Operation Whirl-Stroke, mounted by the Nigerian Army, in Benue State for their decisive operation which, according to him, has brought relative peace to the state.

“The security situation in Benue State has improved significantly. Now many Internally Displaced Persons have returned home, the State is relatively calm”.

At the NEC meeting also, presentations were made on Value Added Tax (VAT) a

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FG To Revitalise Steel Sector To Boost Economy

The Federal government is set to revitalise the nation’s Steel Sector for better performance.

The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Abubakar Bwari made this known at the just concluded fourth National Steel Summit held in Lagos.

He said the federal government decided to invigorate the Steel sector in order for it to provide adequate raw materials for the Steel industry which relied more on importation of raw materials for smooth operations.

The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, said this decision was timely as the nation spent not less than four point six billion Naira on importation of Steel related materials in order to meet the demands of the nation’s Steel industry.

He said the situation of the country could be better as the nation had all the solid minerals including Steel related raw materials that could provide adequate raw materials for the Steel sector if necessary infrastructure required was provided.

Alhaji Abubakar said with the recent funds being released by the federal government, the steel sector would receive a boost.

The Director General National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Kaduna, Engineer Umar Hassan said that a federal government road-map on Steel related material exploration would assist in re-positioning the Steel industry for better performance.

The Summit which attracted stakeholders in the Nigerian Steel industry is entitled the Diversification of the Nigerian Economy, The Indispensable Role of the Steel Industry.

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Tradermoni: FG Offers Two Million Traders Collateral-Free Loans

In a determined and significant bid to further enlarge its financial inclusion agenda for all Nigerians regardless of social class and economic status, the Buhari administration has launched a new initiative under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), called the TraderMoni, which will empower two million petty traders between now and the end of the year.

The scheme, which was launched last week in Lagos, would grant a minimum of 30,000 loans in each State of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

All together, the 2 million mark is expected to be attained on or before the end of this year, with petty traders in Lagos, Kano and Abia States set to be the first round of beneficiaries to draw the collateral free loans.

In addition to the 30,000 loans per State, States with larger populations like Lagos and Kano are expected to get more than 30,000 loans.

Across the country, especially in the pilot states, about 500,000 potential beneficiaries have so far been enumerated.

In order to identify the beneficiaries, no less than 4,000 enumeration agents have been engaged by the Bank of Industry which is deploying the new scheme.

TraderMoni is designed to help petty traders expand their trade through the provision of collateral free loans of N10,000. The loans are repayable within a period of six months.

Under the scheme, beneficiaries  can get access to a higher facility ranging from N15,000 to N50,000 when they repay N10,000 within the stipulated time period.

The goal of the Buhari Administration is to use the TraderMoni to take financial inclusion down to the grassroots, the bottom of the ladder, considering the contribution of petty traders to economic development.

The Federal Government is also aware of the fact that many of the petty traders don’t have what the commercial banks require to grant them loans.
This administration is keen to ensure that such traders at that level are able to build their businesses and grow.

TraderMoni was launched last Tuesday in five markets in Lagos State, with tens of thousands beneficiaries already.

The Lagos markets already reached are Mushin, Ikotun, Agege, Ketu, and Abule Egba markets.

The scheme will soon be taken to other states in the country, with Abia and Kano states next in line.

Beneficiaries are already heaping praise on the Buhari administration for this initiative that will improve their businesses.

A trader in one of the Lagos markets, Anna Enwerem, thanked President Buhari for the initiatives. “I sell clothes. This N10,000 would do a lot for me and my children. I like this programme so much. I will pay the loan before six months’ time. Before I didn’t believe it, but now that I have received my money I believe,” she said.

Similarly, Chief Mrs Mufiat Adewumi, a market women leader in Lagos, said it will help ordinary Nigerians who cannot have access to commercial banks’ credit facilities because they don’t have collateral.

“We are happy about the TraderMoni because this is what we have been expecting for long, that the Government should assist the masses, especially the traders. We thank the Federal Government so much.”

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FG Earmarks N17 Billion For Installation Of Technology Monitoring Schemes

The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the sum of N17 billion for the installation of technology monitoring schemes and structures under Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF).

Minister of State Petroleum Resources Dr Ibe Kachikwu disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of this week’s cabinet meeting presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

His words: “The scheme is for the automated fuel management system and censor network and the narrative to this is, we have all struggled with this subsidy payments and how much fuel is consumed in Nigeria, what volume of products are moving out illegally, etc. And the whole impact of Federal Accounts Allocations Committee accounts, Federation money and all that.

“The President had given a very serious mandate that we ought to rein in on his process. The essence of what PEF is doing is that this will enable us track refined petroleum product movement from the point of LC (letter of credit) opening from the vessels that come into Nigeria, up until the point where there are discharged into tanks in Nigeria, and from the tanks into trucks in Nigeria, monitor the trucks till they deliver the products into the storage tanks for the filling stations and they are discharged and sold. So, that will produce a 100 percent holistic monitoring of this production.

“For the first time we will be able to tell how much petroleum products we consume in this country. Because, there has been so much going on in terms of the movement of consumption numbers from thirty something million litres a day to 70 million litres to 18 million litres a day during the difficult times.

“The challenge the President has given me is to rain that in, let’s know what we consume in reality, let’s know where these products are going and this process will be able to track every truck. So, a typical truck will be licensed with a driver, with a transport company, so if a truck misses, you can find the transporter and the company that takes responsibility.

“So we expect this to be over a period of three years but we promise that within one year, the real effects of this will begin to show. Obviously you need time to train and to continue to improve the system. We hope that by the time we start doing the 2020 budget in 2019, we would have gotten to a point where our petroleum products are being tracked and substantially impact will be made in monies that come into the federation accounts.

“It will help us keep proper data repository of consumption in this country, destruction, data on all trucks that operate, total number of products received, what is sold out of filling stations and it is going to be a collaborative system that involves NNPC, DPR and PPPRA but situate quite frankly in PEF.

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FG Approves N12 Billion For Ecological Projects

The federal government has approved over N12 billion for the execution of ecological projects across the country,

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina revealed this to Journalist while briefing them on Wednesday’s cabinet meeting presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

Adesina said the benefitting states include Anambra, Lagos, Oyo, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna, Plateau, as well as the Federal Capital Territory and the State House.

He said: “The sum of 12, 104, 882, 000 was approved for twelve ecological projects in different geo-political zones of the country. The projects include  Umunze erosion/flood control project in Anambra State, dredging and channelization of Musafejo canal in Surulere-Lagos, Ibadan flood and erosion control works in Oyo State, Ibiaku-Utui-Uroan route erosion control works in Akwa Ibom State, erosion control and rehabilitation of Hong-Kanaha road, Adamawa State, gully erosion control project in Bauchi State, Ramat Polytechnic erosion control and flood project in Borno State, erosion, flood control and road improvement works in Dutse, Jigawa State, erosion and flood control work in Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna State, flood ad erosion control project at Kanam, Plateau State, erosion control and bridges and road improvement works in Kwali Area Council Abuja and erosion control at State House-Abuja.”

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FG Approves N72.9bn For Reconstruction Of Apapa Road In Lagos

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N72.9billion for the reconstruction of the road from Apapa to the toll gate on Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, told State house Correspondents in Abuja after the weekly cabinet meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari that the decision was taken to provide long term solution to the road, which had suffered a lot of grid lock in recent times.

“The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing secured approval for the reconstruction of the Creek Road Tincan Island-Beach Land right through to Oworoshoki to the toll gate end of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway for the full reconstruction of that road which was built around 1975 as part of our first port expansion undertaken then in the 70s.

“That road was intended to evacuate cargo out of Lagos without running through the spine of the city. The road is now in some state of disrepair and Council has approved its reconstruction at the cost of N72.9 billion,” he said.

According to the minister, the work will be done using a Public-Private Partnership PPP model.

He named Dangote Group as the constructing firm for the road project, saying that the N72.9 billion for the execution of the project would be recovered through the funding credit tax policy of government.

The Minister further said when fully constructed, the road will have 10 lanes, with five on both sides, with a total of 270.8 linear kilometres, including drainage, rehabilitation of some of the bridges and interchanges.

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FG Tackles Negative Trade Agreements

The Nigerian government has taken steps to reverse trade and negotiation failures, as well as coordination deficits in trade agreements signed with other nations.

Disclosing this during a visit to Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) in Abuja, Director General of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe said some of these deficits date back to the First Republic.

Ambassador Osakwe stated that based on the fact that Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and 26th in the world, there was the need for coherence and coordination on trade negotiations and agreements.  According to him the organisation also coordinates, manages and leads all trade negotiations between Nigeria and other countries.

He said that it was in recognition of trade as engine of growth that the Buhari administration, on the 10th May 2017, approved the setting up of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations.

 “The organisation is also mandated to, among other things, create a data base for Nigeria’s trade agreements and streamline the process of trade agreements between Nigeria and other countries. It is also mandated to establish a data base to register Nigerians’ ill-treatment abroad; develop a trade dispute settlement department to resolve issues and improve trade financing for medium and small scale enterprises.”

Responding Chairman of BMO Niyi Akinsiju commended NOTN for its vision and commitment to its mandates of rectifying negative trade practices between Nigeria and other countries; noting also that negative trade practices had contributed largely to economic stagnation in developing countries.

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Bank Executives Applaud FG’s Economic Reform

Representatives of top bank executives have commended the economic policies of the Federal Government especially the Ease of Doing Business, agricultural revolution and anti-corruption campaign.

This is just as President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Nigerian community in Togo on Sunday night at the Nigerian Embassy, Lome.

Similarly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Togo Chapter, told President Buhari not to be worried about the defections from the party, assuring him of its support in the 2019 Presidential election.

The Governors of Cross River and Niger States; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Interior; the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment; the National Security Adviser; the Chief of Defence Staff; the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency; and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, were among the top government officials who accompanied the President to his first official engagement on arrival in Lome ahead of the Joint ECOWAS/ECCAS Summit, and the 53rd Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, among others.

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