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First Lady Lauds Catholic Women Body For Promoting Education

The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, on Sunday in Abuja commended the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), for promoting education in the society.

Jonathan gave the commendation at the 8th African Regional Assembly of the World Union of Catholic Women Organisation (WUCWO), which had the theme “Love in Action’’.

She said the organisation’s education programmes are similar to what her Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) does, adding “it is worthy of note that your organisation endorses education for all.

“Education is a tool that can free our citizens, especially women and children, from the shackles of poverty.’’

The First Lady urged the church also to give equal opportunities for women to serve God.

“It is important to note that the church should not relegate women to the background, but ensure they are given equal opportunities to work with their menfolk in the Lord’s vineyard,’’ she said.

Madam Maria Ruggieri, President of WUCWO, said the conference should focus on love teachings as Jesus’ true disciples, in order to reach the poor and less privileged.

She said it was unfortunate that Africa which should be the richest in the world was facing problems of violence and crime.

Ruggieri also urged mothers to hold the family in high esteem by paying particular attention to the girl-child as the future of the church and the world.

Mrs Felicia Onyeabo, the President, National Council of Catholic Women Organisation (NCWO), said in her address that the assembly would seek ways to promote peace within and outside the Catholic Church.

“WUCWO is all about spreading the gospel of peace, love and harmonious existence.

‘“I urge all speakers to talk about this in great detail, brainstorm and find ways of cultivating love in the society as bridge-builders, change-agents and agents of peace.

“I welcome our sisters across Africa who suffered to get here and I also urge all African leaders to look into flight challenges across Africa.

“It is easier to fly from Africa to US or Europe than flying between African countries,’’ she added.

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News, Politics

Nigeria has great capability to fight terrorism –U.S. commander

Gen. Carter Ham, Commander, U.S. African Command (AFRICOM), says Nigeria has the capability to fight the war against Boko Haram terrorism.

Ham said this at the weekend while speaking with the Nigerian Media Delegation on a visit to AFRICOM Headquarters in Stuttgart.

He was reacting to a specific request by the Nigeria Government from the U.S. military to locate some of the Boko Haram leaders.

“Nigeria has great capability to fight terrorism, but what Nigeria asked for are some equipment.

“The U.S. can help the Nigerian military to better understand how we use various intelligence information from various sources and how to put them together in a coherent manner so that government can then make right choices as to what action to undertake, ” he said.

According to the commander, information comes from a wide range of sources like the media, human resources and technical sources.

He said in Nigeria, like the U.S., multiple organisations had responsibilities for different pieces of information collected, and analyse the process.

Ham said one of the things the U.S. learnt over the past years in Iraq and Afghanistan was how to fuse all that information in a coherent manner so that serious decision could be taken and direction given to the various entities of government.

“Nigeria asked us for some help in that process and that is being undertaken now, ” he added.

The Africom chief also explained that the command was in partnership with Nigeria in other areas of military cooperation like in maritime security of the Gulf, important to Nigeria and the U.S.

He said Nigeria’s leading role on the security in the Gulf of Guinea was appreciated.

“For air force, our responsibilities and engagement in Nigeria are principally focused on finding ways to improve the operational capability in the Nigerian Air Force.

“This is to enable more of Nigerian Air Force fleet to be operational and be able to support Nigerian aviation sector.

“And if Nigeria can increase the availability and the operational readiness rate of its air fleet, it would help in the transportation of Nigerian battalions, “ Ham said.

Ham said the command’s  focus had been to help the Army develop the capability required to deal with many challenges. (NAN)

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News, Politics

NDLEA Decries Absence Of Rehabilitation Centre For Drug Addicts

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Sunday expressed concern over its inability to build a rehabilitation centre for victims of drug abuse since its 23 years of operations.  

Mr Michelle Ofoyeju, the agency’s spokesman, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, that arresting persons smoking hemp on the streets was not a solution without rehabilitation centres.

“We need a world class rehabilitation centre that will take about 300 victims where we will train them in skill acquisition, at least for six months,” said Ofoyeju.

“You know we cannot charge them to court, they are not criminals, they are sick persons,” the spokesman said.

He stated that though the agency carried out raids periodically in black sports such as motor parks, under bridges and estates, most of the smokers were jobless and needed to be rehabilitated. 

The spokesman, however, noted that the beautification of under bridges by the Lagos State Government and dispersing of hoodlums who turned such places to their smoking centres, had greatly reduced the menace.

Ofoyeju said that fighting drug abuse should not be NDLEA’s job alone, adding that there was need for stakeholders, especially governmental institutions and religious bodies, to cooperate with the organisation to fight the menace.

“The NDLEA is playing its role, other stakeholders such as churches, mosques, schools, parents, National Orientation Agency and National Directorate of Employment need to do more in attitudinal change among the youth,” he said.

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News, Politics

SERAP Seeks Reform Of Plea Bargaining Procedure

A non-governmental organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has called for urgent reform of the plea bargaining procedure in the nation’s justice system.

SERAP made the call on Sunday in a statement, while reacting to the recent Police Pensions scam judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Talba of the Abuja High Court.

A copy of the statement signed by its Executive Director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

The judge had convicted an assistant director in the Police Pensions Office, Yakubu Yusuf, involved in the N27.2 billion pensions scam after the accused had pleaded guilty to the offence.

Talba had sentenced Yusuf to two years imprisonment on each of the three counts charge preferred against him, with an option of N250,000 fine for each of the charges.

SERAP, however, argued that the lenient sentence was in line with the plea bargain agreement he entered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The group said: “This judgment illustrates the systemic problem associated with the government’s anti-corruption fight.

“There is now an urgent need for a root-and-branch reform of the plea bargaining procedure and the demonstration of a strong political will to fight corruption fairly if we are to permanently remove this kind of judgment from our legal lexicon.

“An important element of justice is missing when the accused and the government believe a plea bargain is fair, while judges lack the necessary legal tool and mandatory guidelines upon which to decide and render true justice.”

It said judges should live up to citizens’ expectation that the courts would apply and interpret the law reasonably, once there was a sound legal framework.

“At the moment, plea bargaining only tends to serve the interest of the corrupt public officials who continue to profit from their crimes and ill-gotten wealth”, the group said.

SERAP said in its current unregulated format, plea bargaining procedure was promoting unjustifiable sentencing disparities, favouring the rich over the poor, encouraging corruption and was self-defeating and counter-productive.

The group therefore urged the Minister of Justice, Mr Muhammed Adoke, to urgently work with the National Assembly towards developing a comprehensive legal framework to regulate the use of plea bargaining.

It said the reform would increase judicial involvement in the procedure, render justice to victims of corruption and deter corrupt public officials. (NAN)

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News, Politics

Association Urges FG To Fix Nation’s Refineries

Mr Eddie Osarenkhoe, former President, Finance Houses Association of Nigeria (FHAN), on Sunday urged the Federal Government to embark on comprehensive rehabilitation of the nation’s three refineries to ensure maximum efficiency.

Osarenkhoe made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

The refineries are in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri.

Osarenkhoe said that repairing them would enable the country to feel the impact of the rising prices of crude oil at the international market.

He lamented the continuous importation of petroleum products for domestic consumption, saying the practice had made the rising prices of crude oil not to be felt in the nation’s economy.

Osarenkhoe also said Nigeria, being one of the largest exporter of crude oil, should position itself in a favourable way that would deliver good standard of living to its citizens.

“The rising Nigerian crude oil in the international market is supposed to impart positively on the economy and alleviate the suffering of the citizens,” he said.

He added that the government set 79 dollars as benchmark for crude oil in the 2013 budget and the prices had been fluctuating between 109 and 116 dollars at the international market.

“If the Federal Government can repair the refineries and manage the excesses from the crude oil effectively, these will lead to infrastructure building and development,” Osarenkhoe said.

He said the effective use of the surplus would also impart on the Gross Domestic Product by adding value to per capital income of the people.

“The government deficits have been on the increase due to the uncontrollable spending that had imparted negatively on the inflation rate,” he said.

Osarenkhoe, however, advised the Federal Government to be disciplined in its spending and ensure that the recurrent expenditure was drastically reduced.

He suggested that government should also use part of the surplus to address the epileptic power supply, to ensure stable electricity and attract inflow of foreign investors. (NAN)

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News, Politics

Church Opposes Licensing Of Preachers

Primate Rufus Ositelu of The Church of the Lord Aladura Worldwide says that licensing of religious preachers before operating in the country will not work.

Ositelu told newsmen in Ibadan on Sunday that the recent suggestion on preachers’ permit by the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar, was commendable due to security challenges, particularly in the north.

He said that one would also agree with the sultan, considering the background from where he spoke.

Ositelu, however, said considering the huge population and different religions, monitoring all religious preachers through permits was not practicable.

“The sultan made the suggestion because he knows that many clerics gave sermons which incited violence in the past,” he said.

Ositelu recalled the case of the botched Miss World beauty pageant which ignited violence in the country following the clerics’ preaching in the north.

He said such cases must have been the catalyst behind the sultan’s suggestion.

Ositelu commended the sultan and described him as a true leader who had worked with Christian counterparts to fight religious violence in the country.

He said there was no way the government could control clerics and preachers in the country, saying it was not practicable.

Ositelu, who visited Ibadan to preach at a crusade organised by his church tagged “South-West for Christ” with the theme “divine encounter”, suggested the establishment of state police to curb insecurity.

The cleric said state police, a form of community policing, could exist side by side with the federal police as practised in the U.S.

Ositelu said since the system would come from the local populace, it would be easier to prevent criminals from operating.

According to the primate, many unsolved criminal and murder cases were neglected in the past by federal police.

Church leaders, including host Rev. Amos Ajibola, Head, West-North Province of the church, attended the crusade.(NAN)

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Kwara, News, Politics

Kwara Govt. Warns Against Use Of “Cow Urine’’ To Treat Epilepsy

The Kwara State Government on Saturday warned mothers to desist from administering cow urine and other herbal concoctions on infants to treat epilepsy. The Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Issa Kayode, said that the warning became necessary in view of the deaths of infants, which had occurred as a result of the administration of herbal concoctions on them, in an effort to cure epilepsy.

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News, Politics

Kaduna Govt Seeks Partnership With NITT On Traffic Decongestion

The Kaduna State Government will partner with the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) on traffic decongestion in the state.

Gov. Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna state said this when he met with the NITT Director- General, Alhaji Aminu Yusuf in Kaduna.

Yero said the partnership would also improve the capacity for transport workers and improve the transport system in the state.

He directed the state Commissioner for Works and Transport, Alhaji Sulaiman Richifa to arrange a meeting with the institute on ways they could partner to develop the state’s transport system.

He added that the state government would soon disburse 700 tricycles, 40 taxis and 50 buses to ease transportation problems.  

“I direct the commissioner for works and transport to immediately after this visit arrange a meeting with you and your management to design areas of collaboration.

“Most of our people are engaged in transportation and the training would help us in this endeavour,” he said.

The governor urged NITT and other Federal Government institutions to pay their taxes promptly as the board of internal revenue would soon carry out a verification exercise and “collect what belongs to us”.

Yero stressed the need for federal institutions to employ indigenes in keeping with the quota stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.

“We want to seek your cooperation to ensure that our people are properly employed in your institute, this is applicable to all federal institutions in Kaduna state.

” We want to ensure that they all meet up with the employment requirement if not, we would demand for it to be made up.

Earlier, the NITT Director-General emphasised the role of the transport sector in socio-economic development of the state.

Yusuf appealed to the government to prevail on various ministries to take advantage of the institute’s programmes to ensure efficiency in transportation. (NAN)

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