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Over 200 SMEs express interest to relocate to Edo Processing Centre






Benin, March 13, 2019 Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo says over 200 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) have submitted applications to relocate to the Edo Processing Centre situated along the Sapele road axis of the state capital.


The governor stated this after inspecting the renovation work at the facility being used for the processing centre in Benin on Wednesday.


He noted that the renovation work was almost completed and that the centre would be ready for use in a month’s time.


“We have over 200 applications from SMEs who want to come and locate here.


“We have had a lot of SMEs come together as clusters or cooperatives, who applied and have been given space  either for fabrication, Polythene based products or furniture making,’’ the governor said.


He explained that arrangements had been completed to get uninterrupted power supply to the facility, while the magistrate court inside the premises would be relocated.


“The Power contractor has assured that within the next fortnight, they will make the connections to bring uninterrupted power into this centre.


“We are also talking with the three local government councils within the metropolitan area, the plan is within a couple of months, we should be relocating the court houses to the various local government councils,’’ he said.


Speaking on ensuring free flow of traffic along Sapele road which leads to the centre, the governor said the state government was working with the federal government to repair the pot holes on the road and install street lights.


The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Job Creation and Skills Development, Mrs Ukinebo Dare, said the centre was meant to help people into small scale production to reduce their costs of production and grow their businesses.


Dare said the Processing Centre was being developed by the state government, in collaboration with Bank of Industry and Benson Idahosa University.



Group decries loss of over N5m worth of rice to movement restriction



The Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS) has decried the loss of over N5 million worth of rice to restriction of movement occasioned by COVID-19.

The National Coordinator of the group, Mr Retson Tedheke, made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Friday.

Tedheke said one of its trucks, conveying rice from Nasarawa state to Lagos state, took 28 days to get to and fro its destination due to hitches encountered at several checkpoints across states.

According to him, the development led to the rice being exposed to rainfall, leading to destruction of over 233 bags.

He expressed concern over the development in spite of existing Federal Government guidelines on free movement of agricultural products.

According to him, many farmers have lost millions of naira to the development, which he described as unfortunate.

“There is no restriction on movement of agricultural products, however, when you get to the road, it is a different ball game.

” The security agents on the road do not care, making life unbearable for farmers.

“Until government begins to make example of these officers, who do not have recourse to regulations, we will not go far in this country.

“We contacted relevant authorities, but what happens usually is that they follow up, which is a good thing.

“However, our drivers sometimes get to locations where they cannot be reached on network and these things happen in such places.

As I speak, there are several trucks carrying agricultural products that are stranded at the various checkpoints across the country.

“You can imagine those carrying perishable goods, and we know time is of the essence when it comes to some agricultural products,” he said.

According to the coordinator, coming from Keffi, in Nasarawa state, to Abuja takes several hours because of the numerous checkpoints.

“So, you can imagine what people go through across the country. It is a situation that needs urgent attention,” he said.

Tedheke said if the situation was not well handled while the COVID-19 pandemic lasted, there might be food shortage across the country, leading to hunger and starvation.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Federal Government had on April 24 inaugurated a seven-man Joint Technical Task Team on Emergency Response to COVID-19.

The team was inaugurated to ensure unrestricted movement of agricultural products across the country, following complaints by farmers of restriction of agricultural products across states.

The seven-man task team is chaired by Austin Agbonlahor, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in-charge of Operations.

Edited By: Moses Solanke/Felix Ajide (NAN)


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Libya’s UN-backed government reports new advances against rivals



Forces allied with Libya’s internationally recognised government said they had captured a major city from rivals on Friday, a day after they regained control of the capital Tripoli.

In recent weeks, forces from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli have made swift territorial gains against the rival self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.

The GNA’s military spokesman, Mohammed Gnounou, said on Friday government forces were in complete control of the city of Tarhouna, about 90 km south-east of Tripoli, and Haftar’s last stronghold in western Libya.

“Our heroic forces have taught Haftar’s terrorist militias an unforgettable lesson,” Gnounou added on Twitter.

Mostafa al-Majai, another GNA military spokesman, said the government forces had entered Tarhouna without any fighting after LNA forces had pulled out of the city into the desert.

“No reprisal acts have taken place inside the city. A large number of residents left the city days ago. This has made it easy to establish security there,” he told.

A source in Haftar’s forces confirmed on Friday that LNA forces and their allies had left Tarhouna.

Haftar’s loyalists seized Tarhouna following the start of their campaign in April last year to capture Tripoli from GNA.

Later Friday, the GNA military said its forces had also taken full control of al-Urban, a town about 130 km   south-west of Tripoli.

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has vowed to bring all Libyan territory under his government’s control, according to the official Twitter account of the GNA forces.

“There is no concession in applying justice and law to bring to account everyone involved in perpetrating crimes against Libyans,” he was quoted as saying.

The GNA government has repeatedly accused Haftar and his forces of committing war crimes.

Libya has been in turmoil since a 2011 revolt toppled long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi.

The oil-wealthy country is divided between two rival factions that are supported by different regional powers.

Turkey, along with Qatar, backs the GNA against Haftar, who is supported by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.


Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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General news

Police command in Ogun arrests lovers for faking kidnap



The Police Command in Ogun has arrested a 17-year-old girl, Seun Adekunle, and her 25-year-old boyfriend, Basit Olasunkanm, for allegedly faking kidnap of the girl.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the command, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, made the disclosure in a statement on Friday in Abeokuta.

According to the PPRO, Adekunle and Olasunkanmi live at 32, Agura Road, Abeojuta, and 4, Ogun Radio Road, Abeokuta respectively.

He said the duo were arrested on Friday, following a report by the girl’s mother, Mrs Bukola Adekunle.

The spokesman said the woman had complained at the Enugada Police Division, Abeokuta, on Thursday that her daughter was missing.

Mrs Adekunle had made a report at the police station on Thursday that she sent her daughter to Lafenwa Market on Monday and she had yet to return.

“She stated further that she received a call from someone on Wednesday who claimed to have kidnapped her daughter and demanded N500,000 ransom for her release.

Mrs Adekunle also added that the caller warned her not to report the case to the police if she still loved to have her daughter back,” the PPRO said.

Oyeyemi said further that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Enugada Division, SP Baba Hamzat, quickly led some detectives on investigation to the hideout where the girl and her boyfriend were hibernating and hatching the plot.

He said that the suspects were promptly arrested and taken to the station.

“Preliminary investigations reveal that the boyfriend, a butcher, was the one who brainwashed the girl and lured her into the devilish plan because he needed money to settle some problems.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson, has ordered immediate transfer of the case to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department for further investigations and possible prosecution,” he said.

Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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UN-backed gov’t announces takeover of rival army’s last stronghold in western Libya




The UN-backed Libyan government’s forces on Friday announced the takeover of Tarhuna city, the last stronghold of the rival east-based army in western Libya.

“Our brave forces took control over the entire city of Tarhuna, and taught forces of Haftar (east-based army’s commander) a lesson they will never forget,” said Mohamed Gonono, spokesman of the government forces, in a statement.

The government forces have sent a team to “search the city for any secret prisons or mass graves in order to uncover the fate of dozens of Libyans kidnapped or missing” during the fighting against the east-based army, Gonono added.

Tarhuna is located some 90 km southeast of the capital Tripoli.

Gonono on Thursday announced takeover of all Tripoli by expelling the east-based army from the capital city.

For more than a year, the east-based army has been leading a military campaign trying to take over Tripoli and topple the UN-backed government.

Amid repeated international calls for cease-fire, hundreds of civilians were killed and injured in the fighting while more than 150,000 others fled their homes.


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Iran confirms FM’s meeting with former United States envoy over prisoner’s release




Iran on Friday confirmed the country’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s talks with Bill Richardson, the former United States envoy to the United Nations, over the release of a United States prisoner in the Iranian jail, according to official IRNA news agency.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said Friday that the meeting between Zarif and Richardson was held months ago.

On Thursday, Iran released Michael White, a United States Navy veteran, who was detained nearly two years ago in Iran for security reasons.

On the same day, the United States released one Iranian scientist, Majid Taheri, who had been in the United States jail for “violating United States sanctions against Iran.”

Mousavi said Friday that Iran has always welcomed the “humanitarian efforts that help release of Iranian hostages in the United States and elsewhere.”

On Wednesday, another Iranian scientist, Sirous Asgari, held by the American authorities was returned to Iran.

Iran, however, denied that Asgari has been released as part of a prisoner swap with the United States.

Mousavi said that Asgari was released after being acquitted of charges.


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Romanian doctor gets suspended jail sentence over Cameroonian player’s death



A Romanian court has handed a one-and-a-half-year suspended jail sentence to an emergency doctor for negligence before the death of Dinamo Bucharest’s Cameroonian midfielder Patrick Ekeng in May 2016.

Ekeng collapsed on the field after suffering a heart attack, shortly after coming on as a second half substitute during a domestic league match, and was pronounced dead two hours later.

Elena Duta, the medical specialist in the ambulance which took Ekeng to hospital, was charged in June 2016 with unjustified inaction.

Prosecutors said she made no attempt to resuscitate the player.

Duta was also ordered to pay 200,000 euros (227,000 dollars) in damages and sentenced to 60 days of community service, the court said in a statement late on Thursday.

Duta was not immediately available for comment.

Following the death of Ekeng, the world football players’ union FIFPro raised concerns about the level of first aid treatment for footballers in Romania.

Eighteen-times Romanian champions Dinamo Bucharest retired the number 14 shirt as a mark of respect to Ekeng, who also played for clubs in Cameroon, France, Switzerland and Spain.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi (NAN)

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Commentary: Make post-pandemic recovery greener




The coronavirus pandemic is perhaps the world‘s most arduous present challenge. Yet as the global community marks World Environment Day on Friday, it must not let down guard against other paramount global threats, notably climate change, that are endangering planet Earth, humanity’s shared homeland.

Over the past few months, the deadly outbreak has locked down cities, closed factories, grounded airplanes and kept people indoors throughout the world. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions have seen temporary reductions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that the world‘s CO2 emissions will plunge eight percent this year, an “unprecedented rate.”

However, the threat of global warming has hardly dissipated and remains an increasingly daunting challenge. Prior to the pandemic, the socio-economic impacts of climate change have accelerated over the past five years, said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in April.

And with governments on both sides of the Atlantic, in Asia and elsewhere carrying out plans to restart their economies with stimulus packages of rarely seen proportions, a possible massive rebound of emissions is highly likely. The IEA has recently cautioned that the rebounds in emissions would be even larger than the decline after the public health crisis.

Any panglossian ideas at this moment would be ill-timed. There are already some environmental advocates and business leaders who worry that the raging contagion would “overshadow environmental concerns” and postpone policy discussions on climate issues as “a more distant threat.”

Decision-makers worldwide should ride the momentum of a declining carbon emissions, and kickstart the recoveries in their countries in a greener and more sustainable way, like offering stronger financial support for environmentally-friendly industries, and encouraging a broader use of clean and renewable energies. The IEA has called for investment to revive the economy with “cleaner and more resilient energy infrastructure.”

Governments around the world should resist the temptation to turn inward and instead enhance global cooperation. They should stick to the long-term goals of emission reductions agreed upon in the Paris Climate Accord.

The ongoing fight against the pandemic has highlighted the need for strong international cooperation in a highly interconnected world when a global crisis strikes.

“We need to show the same determination and unity against climate change as against COVID-19,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We need to act together in the interests of the health and welfare of humanity not just for the coming weeks and months, but for many generations ahead.”


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Floods kill 29, affect over 1 mln others in Somalia: UN




At least 29 people have died while more than 1 million others have been affected by heavy rains and riverine floods since the Gu (April-June) heavy rains started in Somalia in April, a United Nations agency said on Friday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 418,000 people have been displaced in 29 districts across Somalia as humanitarian agencies ramp up responses to reach those affected by the flooding.

“The rains have washed away thousands of hectares of crops, exacerbating food insecurity in affected areas,” OCHA said in a report.

The rains could escalate the current outbreak of water-borne diseases, particularly acute watery diarrhea and cholera, especially among internally displaced people living in crowded settlements across the country, the report said.

The UN agency said humanitarian agencies have ramped up efforts to mitigate the devastating effects of the rains and have reached more than 255,000 people with life-saving assistance.

“This includes food, clean water, emergency shelter, nutrition and medical supplies for people who were affected by the floods,” it said.

The UN agency said most of Somalia’s annual rainfall (75 percent) is recorded during the Gu (April-June) season, and the performance of the season is critical for communities dependent on crops and livestock.

“On a positive note, the current heavy rainfall is expected to replenish the water catchments and subsequently boost water availability and pasture regenerations for livestock,” OCHA said.

The heavy flooding comes at a time Somalia is facing the COVID-19 pandemic and a threat of desert locust infestation.


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Tennis star Gauff demands change amid protests over Floyd’s death



American teenage tennis prodigy Coco Gauff has appeared at a protest in her hometown of Delray Beach, Florida, calling for racial and social justice after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in the United States

“I was eight years old when Trayvon Martin was killed.

So why am I here at 16 still demanding change?” said Gauff, days after posting a video on social media in which she pledged to use her voice to fight against racism.

Martin was an unarmed black teenager whose killing by civilian George Zimmerman 200 miles away in Sanford, Florida, in 2012 helped spark the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

“It breaks my heart because I’m fighting for the future for my brothers,” said Gauff.

“I’m fighting for the future for my future kids, I’m fighting for the future for my future grandchildren.”

Floyd’s death on May 25 has sparked a week of sometimes violent protests and civil unrest in cities across the United States

Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, who appeared in a cell phone video kneeling on Floyd’s neck has been charged with murder.

Gauff, who rocketed to fame after a stunning upset victory over her idol Venus Williams at last year’s Wimbledon, spoke at the rally after her grandmother Yvonne Odom, who was the first black student at her high school in 1961, addressed the crowd.

“It’s sad that I’m here protesting the same thing that she did 50-plus years ago,” said Gauff.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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