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Save vultures from extinction or we all die from diseases, Experts warn



Conservation experts on Wednesday at a day workshop in Lagos stressed the need to save vultures threatened by extinction, warning that their absence would inflict Nigeria, Africa and humanity with diseases and deaths.

The experts made the call in Lekki, Lagos at an event organised by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and BirdLife International.

The conservation experts and other critical stakeholders took turns to emphasise the need for Nigeria to strengthen its regulations, prosecution and awareness campaigns as the nation had become the largest Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) hub in Africa.

The stakeholders at the event supported by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) funded two-year project titled, “Combating the West African Illegal Trade in Threatened Vultures and their parts for Belief-based Use” raised alarm of the lurking danger.

The workshop aimed at combating illegal trade in Nigeria which is a source, transit route and market hotspot for the trade, particularly in the Northern and South-Western states had the Customs and Police representatives.

The workshop focused on how to reduce the impact of the illegal trade on the populations of Critically Endangered Hooded, White-backed, Ruppell’s, White-headed, Lappet-faced and Egyptian Vulture species.

It also discussed how to reduce the use of vulture parts by traditional healers by promoting the use of viable alternative herbs and roots in traditional medicines and called for strengthened law enforcement.

Dr Muktari Aminu-Kano, Director-General of NCF, said that vultures were being “actively harvested” in Nigeria and across Africa for various mystical reasons and that efforts were on by NCF to tackle the menace.

Aminu-Kano said the foundation was carrying out awareness campaign among traditional doctors on herbal alternatives to vultures as well as seeking collaboration of security agencies on enforcement of laws.

“Vultures are very important, they are our unpaid sanitary inspectors, some people call them garbage collectors but they are beyond just collectors, they are like PSP, treatment plant and landfill all rolled into one because they actually clean up the environment and prevent us from having nasty diseases.

“They prevent the proliferation of pests because they eat up carcasses. If vultures go extinct then we must use very effective and efficient garbage disposal system.

“And by doing that, it means that there will be diseases, there will be deaths, there will be revenue loss to the country and also we will deprive future generations of knowing that vultures ever existed,” he said.

He cited India as example of a country that had upsurge of diseases like plagues and rabies when their vulture population was depleted by 90 per cent.

Also, Dr Joseph Onoja, NFC’s Technical Director, while making a presentation identified hotspots for the trade in vultures in Nigeria to include Osun, Oyo, Ogun in the south-west and Kano, Sokoto and Katsina in the north.

Onoja explained that vultures were used for ritual rites to cure madness and evil omen, while its eggs were used for money making rituals and some people consume the meat as food.

The Deputy Head of Mission, British Deputy High Commission, Lagos, Mr Peter Thomas, while delivering his speech said that the U.K. has been at the forefront of eradicating IWT which has become the highest criminal revenue spinner after drugs.

“The IWT continues to be a global problem, involving serious organised crime networks and work worth up to 17 billion pounds per year. That is more than 75 countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“If that figure alone is not shocking in itself, if estimates for illegal logging and fishing are included, the figure goes up to 114 billion pounds. And that is more than 130 countries’ GDP,” he said.

Thomas lauded  the commitment of Nigeria through its Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, at the 2018 London IWT Conference to reach a cross-border conservation agreement with Cameroon and join the Elephant Protection Initiative.

Also, Vulture Conservation Manager, BirdLife International, Beckie Garnett, said that efforts were on targeting Nigeria to reduce IWT and trade in vultures and its parts by 20 per cent by year 2020.

Experts, customs representatives, police, state and Federal Ministry of Environment officials, hunters and traditional healers, took turns to proffer solutions to bridging ignorance gap on vultures, eliminating demand chain and protection of other endangered species.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that some celebrities in the entertainment industry who were unveiled as Vulture Ambassadors at the event promised to spread the awareness on vultures protection.

The celebrity Vulture Ambassadors are Tito DA Fire, Seyi Asurf, Yomi Fash-Lanso, Shehu Kano and Tope Alake.

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NYSC appeals to Anglican Church to release its orientation materials in Anambra



The National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) directorate in Anambra has appealed to the leadership of Anglican Diocese on the Niger to release its property at its Umunya temporary orientation camp.

Mr Aremu Kehinde, the Coordinator, NYSC, Anambra, made the appeal in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency at NYSC permanent camp in Umuawulu, Awka South Local Government Area of the state.

The NYSC had used Progressive Secondary School, Umunya in Oyi, owned by the church as a temporary camp until October when the scheme relocated to its permanent camp at Umuawulu/Mbaukwu in Awka South Local Government Area.

Kehinde told NAN that when it became obvious that NYSC was to relocate, he wrote the bishop of the diocese informing him of the plan to move out NYSC property from  Umunya.

“These NYSC property in Umunya include 1,000 units of mattresses, 600 units of double bunk beds, assorted furniture items, 12 water tanks, kitchen utensils and large changeover switch.

“Others are property of the three religious bodies –  Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF), Nigerian Association of Catholic Corpers (NACC) and Muslim Corpers Association of Nigeria (MCAN).”

Kehinde said at first when NYSC staff wanted to  move the property,  the supervisory Rev. Canon  Marcel Emeh said that the bishop must give directive before NYSC could move them.

He said Emeh later told the workers that the bishop travelled  out of the country and that nothing would be moved until he returned.

Kehinde said in spite of entreaties, the church refused to release the items which were clearly marked to be those of NYSC, noting that the situation had adversely affected the current camping.

“We have 1,888 corps members currently in camp in Anambra. Due to fears of possible challenge, 219 corps members deployed to Anambra are now camping in Enugu State, while 85 others are in Delta State,’’ he saod.

Kehinde said he was particularly worried by the action of the church on the activities of the three NYSC religious groups and expressed regrets that they had been forced to conduct their activities in the open.

Mr Peter Goma, President, NACC, Anambra, said the group had gone to Umunya three times to plead with Emeh to release the property but he refused.

“We managed to hire a canopy for the altar, while the congregation stays in the open during church service”, he said.

Mr Ephraim Aidoyin, the President of NCCF,  and Abdulrazak Abdulrasheed of MCAN corroborated the account of Goma.

They said they resorted to levying NYSC to buy plastic seats and wood to commence preliminary activities.

When contacted by telephone,  Emeh told NAN that he would no longer to speak on the matter.

He said  “any person willing to find out the situation should wait until our bishop returns from overseas or go to our cathedral in Onitsha.”

Meanwhile, Mr Oseloka Offor, the Director of Communication, Diocese on the Niger,  said  that the church had invited NYSC officials to a meeting in Onitsha to resolve the issue.

Edited by Chukwudi Ekezie

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Kogi Speaker congratulates Bello, says victory well-deserved



The Speaker of Kogi House of Assembly, Matthew Kolawole, has congratulated Gov. Yahaya Bello and his Deputy, Chief Edward Onoja, on their victory in the just-concluded governorship election in the state.

The speaker’s congratulatory message was contained in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Femi Olugbemi, in Lokoja on Tuesday.

Kolawole, who described the victory as “overwhelming”, said it was “well-deserved and long expected, considering the credible efforts of the New Direction administration to reposition the state for the prosperity of all”.

He said the re-election of Bello and Onoja was a reflection of the impact of the developmental strides of the administration on the people.

The speaker also congratulated the All Progressives Congress (APC) family in the state under the leadership of Abdullahi Bello for fostering the unity and cohesion that culminated in the party’s overwhelming victory.

Kolawole said that the victory had further demonstrated that Kogi was truly an APC state in view of the records from the last general elections in which the party performed creditably.

He urged the opposition to embrace peace and work with the current administration in order to move the state forward and advance the cause of the people.

The speaker also thanked the people of the state and Kogi West Senatorial District in particular, for believing in the leadership and person of the governor in trooping out en-masse and conducting themselves peacefully to re-elect him.

He said their resolve in re-electing the governor in spite of the campaign of calumny by the opposition was commendable.

He enjoined other contestants in the election to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship and put the contest behind them to join hands with the governor to make Kogi greater.

Kolawole, however, was optimistic that in spite of the inconclusiveness of the Kogi West Senatorial election, the APC Candidate, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, has a good chance of winning the re-run election.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Bello, in a victory announced by INEC in Lokoja on Monday, defeated the PDP’s candidate, Musa Wada, by 406,222 to 189,704 votes to retain the governorship seat.

Edited by Tayo Ikujuni/Adeleye Ajayi

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1,990 traffic offenders penalised in Idiroko – FRSC



The Idiroko Unit Command of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) says 1,990 persons have been penalised by the command for various traffic offences from January 2019 to date.

The Idiroko Unit Commander of FRSC, Mr Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, made this known in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Ota, Ogun on Tuesday.

Olaluwoye said that the traffic offenders were penalised to serve as a deterrent to other motorists and road users.

The unit commander said that the traffic offenders were arrested for various offences ranging from the use of cell phones while  driving, overloading, speed violation, wrongful overtaking and route violation.

He said that the offenders were fined depending on the gravity of the offence they committed.

“The FRSC cannot fold hands and allow innocent souls to be wasted in road crashes because of the bad attitude of some drivers,’’ he said.

The unit commander said the command had embarked on 15 road shows in Idiroko and its environs to sensitise motorists and road users on the importance of safety on the highways.

Olaluwoye also said that the FRSC had gone to motor parks 55 times this year to educate commercial drivers on the dangers inherent in the consumption of alcohol and hard drugs while driving.

He said road crashes would be reduced to the barest minimum with continuous public enlightenment programmes in Idiroko and its environs.

Olaluwoye, however, reiterated his unit’s commitment toward  ensuring that the highways were made safer for other motorists by apprehending erring ones plying the same roads.

Edited by Shittu Obassa/Adeleye Ajayi

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Abia-CSDP executes 240 YESSO projects in 12yrs — GM



The General Manager, Abia State Community and Social Development Project (CSDP), Dr. Chinatu Njoku, said the agency had executed 240 projects so far in 10 local government areas of the state in 12 years.

Njoku stated this in a statement made available to the Nigeria News Agency in Umuahia on Monday.

He further stated that the projects fall under the Youth Employment and Social Support Opetation (YESSO), funded by the World Bank since 2007.

He expressed joy that World Bank Implementation Support Mission “was highly impressed with our performance.

“The team, which came to monitor what the agency is doing in Abia was impressed with what they saw.

“They were equally happy with the implementation of YESSO projects,” the Abia-CSDP boss stated.

He further stated that the Abia-CSDP and YESSO projects in the state received strong financial support from the World Bank “to provide support for vulnerable groups in the state.”

Njoku also attributed the success recorded by the agency on the two projects to the huge support from the state government.

He spoke further on the essence of the visit by the World Bank team to Abia, saying that “they came primarily to assess our performance in line with our agreement with them.”

“They sought to find out if we were funding communities and groups and also keeping laid down rules of engagement.”

Njoku described the visit as “fundamentally beneficial to the agency.”

According to him, “The group raised issues aimed at strengthening our capacity and deepening our success.

“The World Bank team was impressed that the Abia-CSDP and YESSO projects are doing well.”

He said that the team was grateful to the state government for its support to them which, he said, contributed to the success story in Abia.

“They also commended the unity of purpose and cohesiveness of the staff of the agencies,” Njoku said.

(Edited by Sam Oditah)

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Imo govt. dissociates self from ultimatum to herdsmen



The Imo Government has dissociated itself from an ultimatum from a group giving herdsmen in the state 24 hours to vacate the state.

In a press statement issued on Monday in Owerri, Mr Chibuike Onyeukwu, the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Emeka Ihedioha, stated that the group, operating under the aegis of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, lacked legitimacy to speak for the state.

The statement described the reported ultimatum as “an embarrassment to the government and people of the state” and urged members of the public to disregard it.

It further stated that the group gave the warning, following an alarm raised by the managemenet of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri over relorted damage to their farms by animals allegedly owned by herdsmen.

“The attention of the Government of Imo has been drawn to a report on some news media, credited to a group, which identified itself as Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, giving herdsmen in the state 24 hours to quit.

“The group, led by one Goodluck Ibem, relied on an alarm allegedly raised by the management of the university, accusing herdsmen of destroying their farm lands and crops, among other concerns.

“The government of Imo, under the leadership of Ihedioha, hereby dissociates itself and entire good people of the state from the said ultimatum.

Imo government is embarrassed by the development and has taken steps to prevent a breakdown of law and order in the state,” the release stated.

Onyeukwu stated that while efforts were on to ensure that the concern raised by the management of the university was addressed, the state government “shall not tolerate a situation where individuals take the laws into their hands.

“For the avoidance of doubt, citizens of Imo are very peaceful, hospitable and have always enjoyed cordial relationship with neighbours and strangers in the state.

“Imolites are at peace with residents and have no axe to grind with anyone living or doing business in the state, as long as such transactions do not in any way violate the laws of the land or constitute public nuisance,” Onyeukwu further stated.

He urged the general public to disregard the report and go about their normal businesses without fear of molestation.

(Edited by Sam Oditah)

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Rep assures of improved welfare for military personnel



Hon. Tajudeen Adefisoye, Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Army, has assured that his committee will give priority to the welfare of military personnel.

Adefisoye stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the 32 Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Super Camp, in Okitipupa on Monday.

The lawmaker, representing Idanre/Ifedore Constituency, said that his committee would work tirelessly to ensure that soldiers were well catered for in the discharge of their duties.

He also promised to foster robust relationship between the military and the civilian populace in the country.

“I am most impressed with the functional facilities that are available in the Super Camp, particularly the helipad.

“The Brigade Commander, Brig.-Gen. Zakari Abubakar, also deserves commendation for the humanitarian services being rendered by the military to residents of the host communities.

“Provision of potable water, distribution of sports wears and computers to students in the Ondo South Senatorial District by the military are undoubtedly deserving of commendation,” he said.

The lawmaker also thanked Abubakar for doing a great job to curb crime and criminality in the state.

Adefisoye also commended the traditional rulers of the host communities for supporting community policing.

He lauded the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, for making funds available to run the camp, thereby ensuring peace in the southern zone of the state.

Responding, the brigade commander said that the ongoing clearance activities of ‘Operation Crocodile Smile IV’ had been yielding the desired results in the state and across the country.

Abubakar urged the public, particularly the host communities, to take advantage of the hot lines provided by the Nigerian Army to provide useful information to attain success in clearance operation.

The commander later conducted Adefisoye round the camp and explained to him its strategic security importance.

Although Abubakar said that the camp was a military barrack, he, however, added that it also housed the police and other paramilitary agencies like DSS, Immigration, NDLEA and the NSCDC.

Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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