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Agriculture

Absence of baking ingredient hampers cassava bread production – Ogbeh

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Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says absence of sure-bake yeast, a baking ingredient, in the country was hampering the inclusion of cassava in bread.

Ogbeh said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.

NAN reports that sure-bake yeast is a blend of active dry yeast and bread improver which makes bread-making easier and is recommended for bread-making.

The minister however disclosed that the problem would soon be solved as a U.S.-based Nigerian had agreed to commence the production of the ingredient in the country.

“There are issues with cassava bread which we are trying to resolve now.

“There is something called sure-bake yeast which they say we must add to cassava, otherwise, the bread won’t rise and that has been an issue with the bakers.

“The Nigerian in the U.S. said he would come and produce it here. We have heard that there is a glut of cassava and that is why the farmers are not harvesting now,’’ he said.

The minister noted that government was ready to support the private sector for the production of industrial starch and syrups from cassava.

“We are also moving into high grade industrial starch and syrups, but again, to build those factories, you use stainless steel equipment and they cost money.

“We are talking of five to 10 million dollars to set up such a factory. Nobody can borrow that from a bank in Nigeria and survive.

“That is why we are looking for funds and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is helping to find funds to give people who want to invest in the processing,’’ he said.

The Federal Government under former President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2014, launched the first commercial 10 per cent composite cassava flour in bread.

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, former Minister of Agriculture, said at the launch that government’s goal was to ensure Nigeria became the largest cassava processor as it had been the largest producer of the commodity in the world.

 

Judiciary

Alleged N570m fraud: Absence of EFCC’s counsel stalls Oyo-Ita’s trial

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The trial of the immediate past Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, was on Wednesday stalled due to the absence of the lawyer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mohammed Abubakar.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the EFCC had, on March 23, charged Oyo-Ita and eight with 18-counts of money laundering to the tune of N570 million.

Those arraigned alongside the former HOS were Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Limited; Garba Umar and his companies: Slopes International Limited; Good Deal Investments Limited; Ubong Okon Effiok and his own company, U & U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited.

The defendants were accused of fraud in relation to duty tour allowances (DTA); estacode; conference fees fraud and receiving kickbacks on contracts.

According to the anti-corruption agency, investigations revealed that Oyo-Ita, in her roles in the civil service as director, permanent secretary and head of service, used her companies as well as Effiok’s and Umar’s companies as fronts to receive kickbacks from contractors of various ministries and parastatal agencies she worked.

However, at the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Abubakar, the prosecution counsel, was not in court.

Oyo-Ita’s Counsel, Paul Erokoro, told Justice Taiwo Taiwo he did not know the reason for Abubakar’s absence.

Erokoro then urged the court to grant an adjournment.

“Since we do not know why they are not here, we ask for a fairly long adjournment to give the prosecution time subject to the court’s convenience.

“We also ask that they be issued hearing notices,” he said.

Lawyers, who represented the other defendants, aligned themselves with the submissions of Erokoro and did not object to the application for an adjournment.

Justice Taiwo, in his ruling, said he took judicial notice of the prosecutor’s absence.

He also agreed to grant a long adjournment since the matter “is not classified urgent and time bound” and to give the prosecutor time to make himself available.

The judge, therefore, adjourned the case until July 8 and ordered that a hearing notice should be served on the prosecution.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Foreign

U.S. administration slammed for absence in int’l efforts against COVID-19

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Expert, senator and former official have criticised the U.S. administration for stepping back from the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic just as it is needed most, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

“Whether that means halting funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO), skipping a vaccine donor conference in Europe or barring foreign health workers in poor nations from buying masks and gloves with American aid, the Trump administration’s retrenchment has alarmed allies,’’ said the report.

Ilona Kickbusch, the founding director and chairwoman of the global health programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, said that “our experience in the past is that no matter what the geopolitical tensions were, it was possible to bring countries together around health – particularly when there was an outbreak and a real crisis’’.

“At present, we see that health is used as a proxy for all kinds of conflicts that are there at the geopolitical level,’’ she said.

“And that is destructive.’’

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said that it was necessary to be part of global decisions to curb the coronavirus if there was any hope of stopping its spread in the U.S.

That is how the country has dealt with other worldwide threats over the last 100 years, he added.

Gayle E. Smith, who ran the American aid agency during the Obama administration, said that sending the U.S. funding abroad and supporting relief programmes was only one element of leading the global response to the virus.

It’s also important, she said, to be visibly active in international organisations like the WHO, to ensure the U.S. remains a guiding force.

“There needs to be a place where all of this comes together in some international institution…

“If there is an issue or a concern, then we should work with the organisation to solve it,’’ she was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

N. Korean leader reemerges after 20-day absence amid reports over his health

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended a fertiliser factory completion ceremony, state media reported on Saturday, his first public appearance after 20 days of absence that sparked talks about his health.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim cut the tape at the ceremony marking the completion of Sunchon Phosphatic Fertiliser Factory in Sunchon, north of Pyongyang, on Friday.

Photos released by KCNA showed Kim, dressed in a dark Mao suit, cutting the red ribbon during the ceremony and talking to accompanying officials with a smile on his face.

They did not show any signs of an illness.

“All the participants broke into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ extending the greatest glory to the Supreme Leader who has brought about a new change in the development of Juche-based fertiliser industry and has led the grand revolutionary advance for strengthening self-supporting economy to a victory with his outstanding leadership,” KCNA said, referring to the North Korean concept of self-reliance.

“He looked round several places including raw material processing process, yellow phosphorus production process, ammonium phosphatic fertiliser production process, and packing process, being briefed about the production processes of the factory,” KCNA added.

Kim was also quoted as expressing “satisfaction about the wonderful creation” and “set forth the tasks and ways for developing our chemical industry in a correct orientation as required by the new century.”

Accompanying Kim were his sister Kim Yo-jong, Pak Pong-ju, vice chairman of the WKP’s Central Committee, Premier Kim Jae-ryong, and other senior officials, according to KCNA. No. 2 leader Choe Ryong-hae was not among the attendees.

This marked Kim’s first public appearance since April 11, when he presided over a Politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party.

His absence from an annual event marking the April 15 birth anniversary of his late grandfather and national founder, Kim Il-sung, sparked speculation he might be seriously ill.

Also on Saturday, North Korea’s state broadcaster Korean Central Television aired Kim’s attendance at the fertiliser factory completion ceremony in the first news report of its daily programme that began at around 3 p.m.

In the 15-minute broadcast, Kim was seen walking without the support of anyone, waving his hands to the crowd and clapping his hands, moves that apparently aimed at ending rampant speculation about his health.

CNN reported last week that the U.S. was looking into intelligence that Kim was in “grave danger” after surgery.

That came after a report by Daily NK, a South Korea-based news outlet specialising in North Korea issues, that Kim was receiving medical treatment following a cardiovascular procedure.

Fanning the rumors further, North Korean media had not provided no report on photo on his public activity, though it carried articles on his routine day schedules such as sending diplomatic letters or sending gifts to honored citizens.

South Korean officials have repeatedly rejected such rumours, saying that no unusual movements had been found in North Korea with regard to Kim’s health.

In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump declined to comment on Kim’s reappearance.

“I’d rather not comment on it yet.

“We’ll have something to say about it at the appropriate time,” Trump told reporters at the White House, according to Reuters.

It is not rare for Kim to disappear from public view.

The latest absence marked the third time this year alone that Kim has not appeared in public for more than 10 days.

His longest absence from public view was in September 2014, when he disappeared for about 40 days and returned with a cane and limping. Seoul’s intelligence agency later said that he had a cyst removed from his ankle.

Kim is known to have health problems apparently linked to obesity and heavy smoking.

His prolonged absence from public view has often spawned rumors about deterioration in his health.

He took over as leader after his father, Kim Jong-il, died of a heart attack in late 2011.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Foreign

Pressure grows over British absence from EU Covid-19 equipment scheme

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Pressure intensified on the British government on Wednesday after the European Commission said it had invited Britain to join an EU scheme.

The scheme was for sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) for health staff at risk from infection with the novel coronavirus.

The commission’s statement contradicted British ministers’ claims that they were unaware of plans for the EU programme, amid criticism of Britain’s failure to address a shortage of PPE in its National Health Service (NHS).

A top civil servant from the Foreign Office told lawmakers on Tuesday that British ministers had been briefed on the EU scheme but had taken a political decision not to join it. He later retracted his statement.

In Brussels on Wednesday, a spokesman said the commission had announced the scheme on January 31.

“The UK was, as all other members of the health security committee meetings were aware of the work that was ongoing and had ample opportunity to express its wish to participate in a joint procurement if it wanted to do so.

“As to why it did not participate, this is obviously something on which we cannot comment,’’ the spokesman said.

The Guardian and other media cited minutes suggesting British officials had attended at least four meetings related to the PPE procurement scheme.

Britain has recorded one of the world’s highest death rates per capita linked to Covid-19, with more than 18,000 deaths reported by Wednesday.

At least 69 NHS staff have died after becoming infected with Covid-19, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

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Entertainment

Lagos AGN condemns stakeholders’ absence from meeting 

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The Lagos Chapter of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), on Thursday condemned the absence of some stakeholders from decision making meetings.

The chapter in reaction to calls for the removal of Sen. Elisha Abbo as AGN patron frowned at the stakeholders in a statement signed by AGN Lagos Chapter spokesperson, Bigdeal Omoruyi.

Abbo, a Senator representing Adamawa North Senatorial District was earlier in the week conferred the AGN patron which some actors kicked against.

The statement further condemned the stakeholders’ absenteeism and subsequent condemnation of decisions taken.

“Actors’ Guild of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter has received inundated calls and messages as regard the controversy of Sen. Elisha Abbo being conferred a Patron of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria.

“The position of the President, the National and State chapters executives and the members of Actors’ Guild of Nigeria is clear on the matter.

“The Guild’s President, Emeka  Ejezie, said in a statement that Sen Elisha Abbo remained innocent of physically assaulting a young woman until proven otherwise by a court.

“The President also said that AGN appointed Abbo patron due to his support for the guild’s members in the north east chapters.

“Chairman of AGN Lagos state Chapter, Moji Oyetayo circulated a voice note stating that it is unacceptable for Actors to be absent at conferences where the fate of the Guild is decided, yet go public to fault decisions made.

“An urgent meeting notice of all stakeholders has however been circulated by the National Secretary of AGN.

“The meeting is slated for Monday, March 23 at Native Restaurant and Lounge, Victor Island, Lagos, by 11 am.

“The objective of the meeting is essentially to tackle the much heated controversy and discuss members’ welfare.

“All actors nationwide are welcome to attend,” the statement said.

Nigeria News Agency , reports that Nigerian actresses, Hilda Dokubo and Kate Henshaw have condemned the conferment of Abbo as patron.

Abbo was allegedly caught on camera assaulting one Warmate Osimibibra, the attendant at a sex toys shop in May 2019, a month before he was sworn in as a senator.

The senator however issued a public apology to his victim during which he asked her and Nigerians for forgiveness.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Ekemini Ladejobi
(NAN)

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Judiciary

Judge’s absence stalls trial of 5 men charged with failed First Bank robbery

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The absence of Justice Ajoke Adepoju, of an FCT High Court, Wuse, on Friday, stalled the trial of five men charged in connection with the failed Mpape bank robbery at a First Bank branch in Mpape.

Earlier, the court’s registrar informed all parties and their counsel that Justice Adepoju traveled and gave them March 20.

The police charged Ehizo Larry, Princewill Obinna, Elijah David, Timothy Joe and Ernest Ewin with five counts bordering on armed robbery and possession of locally made pistols.

Ajoke had on Feb. 14, ordered that the defendants be remanded in a correctional facility, pending bail application and fixed March 13, for hearing.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the prosecution counsel, James Idachaba, told the court that the defendants conspired and invaded First Bank Plc, Mpape, Abuja, armed with locally made pistols, cutlasses and axes on Dec. 28.

Idachaba said the defendants invaded the bank with intent to steal money from the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) and threatened to use violence on the staff and customers in order to obtain cash from the bank.

He further said the defendants forcefully collected mobile phones, value not yet known from one Ann Awele, a staff of the said bank.

He added that the defendants got arrested by a team of police officers while in possession of the locally made pistols without required licence.

The prosecution counsel said in the course of police investigations, police officers attached to the special anti-robbery squad (SARS), FCT Abuja, conducted search at Obinna’s house in Katampe 1, Mpape, Abuja.

According to him, two locally made pistols were recovered from Obinna as a result of the search .

He said the offence contravened the provisions of  Section 3 and punishable under sections 6 (a) (b) (c) , 1 (2) (a), 2 (1), (2)(a), 27 (1)(a)(i) of the Robbery and Firearms (special provisions) Act.LFN 2004.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Idachaba urged the court to remand the defendants in prison and applied for a short date, saying seven witnesses were listed to testify and that vital exhibits will be tendered.

The defence counsel for Larry and Ewin, Peter Ihunweze,  did not oppose the prosecution counsel’s application but asked for a date to file for bail.

Anenin Enabosi , counsel to Obinna, aligned with Ihunweze’s submission, saying he had not been served with the charge sheet yet.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

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Economy

Substandard Goods: Reps fault SON’s absence at points of entry

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SON

Lagos, March 12 The House of Representatives Committee on Industry has said that the decision to exit the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) from the nation’s ports would lead to the prevalence of fake and substandard goods in the country.

The House Committee Chairman on Industry, Dolapo Badru, said this during an oversight visit to SON laboratory on Thursday in Ogba, Lagos.

Badru said that the law mandating SON to be at the ports would be reviewed.

According to him, customs officials are to collect duty so, they don’t have the requisite skills to ascertain the quality of goods imported.

He expressed satisfaction with the level of work done by the standards body and restated the House commitment to return SON to the nation’s sea ports.

“We will make sure that we do everything within our powers to make sure that SON gets back to the borders, most especially the ports and the airports, because we are concerned  with fake and substandard products, especially those products that take lives of innocent Nigerians.

“We have seen lots of buildings collapse these days and most of these collapse are caused by substandard building materials most of which are imported.

“We have also seen most buildings destroyed by fire because of imported substandard cables.

“You do not expect the customs officer to carry out testing and analysis of cables because he was not trained for that,” he said.

He stated that the House would invite the Director General of SON and the Ministry concerned to review the law that mandates SON to be at the ports.

“There is an existing law and I wonder why the law is not complied with. We are going to get to the root of this matter and call for a hearing.

“A lot of building collapse would have been averted, probably a lot of fire outbreaks would have been averted, a lot of deaths would have been averted.

“These things were imported and nobody checks these goods when they come in because the agency that supposed to check the quality of these goods have been evicted from the ports,” he said.

In his response, Director General of SON, Osita Aboloma, commended the House of Representatives for their support, stating that SON has the capacity to create possibilities.

According to him, the agency has invested so much in human capacity development to be at par with its counterparts all over the world.

“We appreciate your keen interest to sending us back to the ports while also creating the enabling environment for effective service delivery.

“If we are well positioned, we will do more; the task to rid Nigeria of substandard products is a responsibility for everybody.

“As members of the Committee on Industry, you are by extension standards ambassadors.

“We implore you to advocate our cause wherever possible because we need to be positioned to enable us carry out our mandate effectively and safeguard the lives of Nigerians through standards,” he said.

Edited By: Angela Okisor/Wale Ojetimi
(NAN)

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Judiciary

Absence of judge stalls hearing in RTEAN leadership crisis

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The absence of Justice Olufunke Anuwe of  the Na

tional Industrial Court, Abuja, on Thursday stalled hearing in a suit filed by  the

Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), and 35 others against its erstwhile National President, Chief  Musa Isiwele

The matter which was slated for hearing, could not go on as the court informed parties that the judge was indisposed.

Counsel were therefore given a new date of March 31, for hearing.

Nigeria News Agency , reports that the claimants, (RTEAN, some National Executive members including some State Chairmen),  had dragged the defendant, Isiwele before the court for determination and declaration of some prayers.

The defendant who was re-elected as the National President of the Union in April, 2018 was removed on Aug. 31, 2018 on allegations bordering on embezzlement and infractions, including violation of the Union’s constitution.

The defendant  who later tendered his letter of resignation which was accepted by the Union, however in a twist said he was forced to resign and said he was still the President of RTEAN.

The claimants are therefore seeking for a declaration  of the court that the defendant has ceased to be a member or hold any office in the Union from Sept. 3, 2018.

They are also seeking for a declaration that the defendant cannot lay claim or be said to be a member or capable of holding any office in the RTEAN in whatever capacity.

In addition, the claimants are seeking for a declaration that Alhaji Muhammed Musa is, or deemed to be the National President of the RTEAN with effect from Sept. 3, 2018.

A final prayer by the claimants is an order of perpetual injunction prohibiting the defendant in whatever way vide cronies, agents and allies from claiming or purporting to claim that he is a member, president or officer of the RTEAN in whatever capacity.

NAN also reports that a sister case is also before the same court. In the suit, the claimants had also dragged 

Eriyo 

Osakpamwam, before the court over allegation that he was parading himself as the National President of the Union after he had been expelled over fraudulent activities.

 

Isiwele had applied to be joined in the suit and on Jan. 29, the court granted his application to be joined as a defendant in the suit along Osakpamwam.

 

The court on the same date told the parties to maintain peace and order pending the determination of the suit before it which will determine the National President of the Union.

The judge also vacated an  Interim Order  restraining the claimants from parading themselves as executives of the Union.

In the said order, the court had directed that all the parties should maintain peace, order and refrain from acts of violence as any act of harassment and intimidation would not be tolerated.

The Interim Order was vacated in order to allow all the parties a fair playing ground while peace and order be maintained pending the determination of the suit.

Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

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Judiciary

Absence of police witness stalls trial of 2 juveniles in Zaria

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The absence of a police witness on Thursday stalled the trial of two juveniles, charged with criminal intimidation and stealing.

The Prosecution Counsel, Sgt. Yau Garba, prayed the court for an adjournment to produce his witness.

The police charged the 17-year-old juveniles with alleged criminal conspiracy, house breaking, house trespass and intimidation contrary to sections 58, 327, 377, 270 and 332 of the Kaduna State Penal Code Laws.

Magistrate Ruqayya-Ummi Ahmed, relying on Section 255 of the Evidence Act, ordered the  Investigating Police Officer, who is the second prosecution witness to appear and give evidence on March 19.

NAN reports that on March 5, a witness, Alhaji Yahaya Ahmed of the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Kaduna State, identified the juveniles as those who broke into his house and robbed him.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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