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Zone ‘B’ Strike Force, Nigeria Customs Service seizes N367m worth of smuggled items in one month



Zone ‘B’ Strike Force of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Kaduna said that it seized smuggled items with Duty Paid Value of about N367.2 million in one month.

The Deputy Comptroller of Customs and Coordinator of the Strike Force, Baba Kolobe, said this on Wednesday while addressing journalists on the zone’s score card for the month.

Kolobe said that the Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs inaugurated the new special intervention team in May with the mandate of suppressing smuggling in the zone.

He said the zone recorded seizures in June and July.

He said that 5,679 bags of smuggled 50kg foreign parboiled rice were seized during the period.

“We were also able to confiscate smuggled bales of about 1,953 second hand clothing, 1,095 jerry cans of 25 litres vegetable oil and 39 vehicles which where all smuggled through the land borders,” he said.

Kolobe advised the public to conduct their businesses within the ambit of the law.

According to him, the NCS has renewed its commitment and will not relent in its efforts at ensuring that smugglers are arrested and prosecuted.

He called on stakeholders and the media to partner with the service  to make Nigeria better for industrialisation and youth employment.

Kolobe expressed gratitude to the comptroller general for providing logistics and operational vehicles to enable them discharge their mandate.


Ministry says will decontaminate schools in 6 geopolitical zones



The Ministry of Environment says it is making effort to decontaminate schools across the country before the resumption of students.

Dr Mohammad Abubakar, the Minister of Environment made this known while briefing the newsmen on activities to kick start the 2020 World Environment Day (WED) on Thursday in Abuja.

World Environment Day is marked every year all over the World on June 5.

Abubakar said that the ministry’s health officers in all the six geopolitical zones would handle the exercise before schools resumed.

“We have started decontamination in all the six geopolitical zones and we are now waiting for additional response from the government to accelerate decontamination of schools,” he said.

“We have just concluded arrangement with the management of airport and owners of airlines to disinfect all the airports because aviation is key and must be handled for safety purpose,” he said.

He, however, said that COVID-19 had been a bless in disguise to all nations in the area of reduction emission from vehicles, airlines among others.

He said that because of lockdown, which affected many countries in the world due to COVID-19, emission in the atmosphere had drastically reduced, which had been very hard to curtail for years.

The Paris agreement signed by most countries in the world is to cut down emission, but COVID-19 has helped to achieve that.”

He said that this year WED would be celebrated amidst the ravaging effects of the novel pandemic.

“While we continue to battle with the crisis as environmentalists, we must continue to contribute our quota in the collective efforts being made to contain the spread of the pandemic.

“For this reason, the UN deems it fit to address biodiversity with the theme: ‘‘Time for Nature’’, with a focus on its role in providing the essential infrastructure that supports life on earth and human development.”

He said that over one million plant and animal species risk extinction largely due to human activities, which calls for action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of nature.

“The theme is indeed very appropriate, considering the fact that researchers and scientist have established COVID-19 to be zoonotic.

“In order to fully address and prevent future pandemics therefore, we must restore, conserve and protect biodiversity as key antidotes to COVID-19 recovery.”

According to UNEP, 2020 is a year for urgency, ambition and action to address the crisis facing nature.

He said that it was also an opportunity to fully incorporate nature-based solutions into global climate action, especially as commemorating the day has become a powerful platform to engage communities and governments around the world to take action on challenges facing the planet.

“In this regard, the ministry is using an alternative online platform for delivering the advocacy for this year’s WED.

“The online event will be hosted on ‘zoom’ with a series of talks as regards our commitment to Biodiversity Conservation.

“Biodiversity is the foundation for life and there are myriads of benefits amongst which are, livelihoods and sustainable development, improvement and delivery of food security, growth, increase in job opportunity,
strengthening of global healthcare support systems.

“The ecosystem is the baseline that holds all of these together. Human interaction with the ecosystem must therefore remain balanced, otherwise we risk disrupting nature with their consequence as we are seeing with the COVID 19 pandemic.

“Our climate, physical environment and vegetation zones in Nigeria endow our country with a very diversed ecosystem, species of fauna and flora.

The forests in Nigeria are currently estimated to extend to around 9.6 million hectares, this we are expanding with added efforts of the Great Green Wall, REDD+ and the Green Bonds supported afforestation projects amongst several others.

“From all this, we must ensure that post-COVID recovery is tied to our Climate Actions and Sustainable Development Goals.

“We as a global community have to stay on track with our climate targets for us to recover greener and better for people and planet.’’

The minister said that biodiversity remained the answer to a number of sustainable development challenges being faced in the country.

The Federal Government is fully committed to the Global Biodiversity Framework under the convention on Biological Diversity and Nigeria is leading the ECOWAS member states on Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework.”

Edited By: Grace Yussuf (NAN)

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Dollar changes hands in upper 108 yen zone in early trade in Tokyo




The U.S. dollar changed hands in the upper 108 yen zone in early deals in Tokyo on Thursday.

As markets opened here, the dollar was quoted at 109.00-01 yen compared with 108.86-96 yen in New York and 108.74-75 yen at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in Tokyo.

The euro, meanwhile, fetched 1.1235-1236 dollars and 122.47-51 yen against 1.1229-1239 dollars and 122.31-41 yen in New York and 1.1215-1217 dollars and 121.95-99 yen in late Wednesday afternoon trade in Tokyo.


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Palestine accuses Israel of paralyzing industrial zone for Palestinians in East Jerusalem




Palestine on Monday accused Israel of attempting to take over the only industrial zone for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, after Israeli authorities ordered the demolition and eviction of nearly 200 private establishments in the area.

The Israeli authorities’ demolition orders in Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of East Jerusalem will paralyze the only area where Palestinians own car repair workshops and commercial enterprises, said the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

“At the same time, Israeli authorities upscale the construction of industrial zones for settlers, as part of its colonial scheme to Judaize the city,” said the statement.

Palestinians want the eastern part of Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, as the capital of their future state, while Israel insists that the city is its undivided capital.


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Lagos govt says Lekki Free Trade Zone exported $30m goods in one year



The Lagos State government says the multi-billion Naira Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) has exported goods worth US$30 million in the last 12 months.

The Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mrs Lola Akande made this known on Thursday, during the 2020 Ministerial Press Briefing commemorating one year in office of the Governor Sanwo-Olu-led administration.

Akande said that 19 new companies were at various stages of deployment at the Free Trade Zone.

She said that the Lagos State Government owned 40 per cent while China Africa Lekki Investment Ltd (CALIL) owned 60 per of the Lekki Free Trade Zone Development Company (LFTZDC).

”For any Free Trade Zone (FTZ) to succeed, it must have an efficient access for inward and outward shipment of goods and materials.

”It is in recognition of this fact that the Lagos State Government went into partnership with NPA(owning 5 per cent), Tolaram Group (owning 24 per cent), China Harbour and CHEC -owning 51 per cent and Lagos State owning 20 per cent.

The Lekki Deep Sea Port will be the deepest port in West Africa with a depth of 16 metres, which means the port can accommodate bigger ships,” Akande said.

The commissioner said that the state’s public-private partnership on mixed industrial-residential development, also known as Alaro City, had attracted 24 companies with business value estimated at $250 million.

She said that the companies would engage about 2,050 employees in the first phase of their operations.

According to her, the Alaro City project, located at Epe on a 2,000 hectare piece of land, comprised a mix of industrial concerns, homes, offices, healthcare facilities, schools and hostels among others.

The commissioner said that there were 24 new companies at various stages of development in the zone with the very first factory to set up there, Ariel Foods, opening for business in January 2020.

Ariel Foods is the largest ready-to-use therapeutic food factory in Africa. Its investment in Alaro is a US$15m multi-sector investment, including investment in housing, soap and detergent production.

”The ground-breaking ceremonies for other investors at Alaro City such as ASB Valiant, Starium (BUA Group), Kenol, HMD, Loatsad, Sana and Universal Homes also took place in January 2020,” she said.

Akande said that the infrastructure in place including roads which would open up access to 55 per cent of the site, a 1.4km dual carriageway asphalt road with four-metre median, storm water drains, street lighting and cycling lanes, are 90 per cent completed.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)


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General news

Eid-el-Fitri: NASFAT feeds 6,500 persons across 22 zones



The Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) says it is set to feed 6,500 persons in about 130 outlets across its 22 zonal branches during the Eid-el-Fitri celebration.

Mr Akeem Yusuf, the NASFAT’s publicity secretary, said in a statement on Saturday in Lagos that the gesture had become an annual practice by the society.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Eid-el-Fitri is celebrated by Muslims to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting.

“This is a tradition of the society.

“We felicitate with fellow Muslims in Nigeria and in the diaspora to mark the end of Ramadan.

“The programme has, this year, been extended to zonal branches of the society within and outside Nigeria.

NASFAT has also disbursed N60.9 million in cash and food items to the vulnerable in the society, as a palliative measure to mitigate the effect of the lockdown against the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ Yusuf stated.

He said the movement restriction has greatly affected the means of livelihood of many Nigerians, particularly those who live on daily income.

No fewer than 18,942 households and 113,652 people benefited from the disbursement across the 22 zones in 47 days of the lockdown.

“Some households got N10,000 while some got food items.

NASFAT ‘Feed a mouth’ programme took the centre stage during the month of Ramadan,’’ Yusuf said.

Some of the outlets designated for the free meal to celebrate eid-el-fitri in Lagos zone include Alausa, Ikeja, Ogba, Imota, Epe, Ijora Olopa, among others.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Onu not marginalising any Ebonyi zone in federal appointments – TOPO



The Onu Political Organisation (TOPO), has faulted claims by a group, Hope Ambassadors which alleged  marginalisation of Abakaliki bloc in federal appointments as well as in siting of federal institutions in Ebonyi.

Hope Ambassadors in a social media publication by one Mr Jeremiah Onyibe,  accused Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology of  deliberately marginalising the Abakaliki bloc in federal appointments and sitting of institutions in favour of his zone.

However, TOPO in a briefing on Wednesday in Abakaliki, dismissed the allegations as figment of imagination of the  group.

Chief Egwu Chima, National Publicity Secretary of TOPO, who briefed newsmen, said that TOPO  was not disturbed by the unfounded allegations.

Chima, a former Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in Ebonyi, said that Onu remained  an acclaimed detribalised Nigerian whose political ideology which  spanned nearly four decades was founded on equity, fairness and justice for the oppressed and marginalised.

He condemned the publication, noting that it was capable of engendering political distrust and disunity in the state.

The publication captioned: ‘Wake up Oh Abakaliki People’ read in part:

“Let the strong leaders of Abakaliki bloc arise now, we can’t keep quite again, while your keeping calm the position given to our son, late Chief Tobias Okwuru was taken from us to old Ohaozara.

” Instead of sourcing immediate replacement from his immediate family or even community, the position was taken away.”

Chima said that the divisive utterances by individuals or groups was despicable, noting that the nomination of late Okwuru as member of the Federal Character Commission (FCC) was not done on senatorial sentiment.

“There have been so much misunderstanding and rumours on the appointment of a man from outside Ezza to replace the late Okwuru who died before he was inaugurated.

“The limited understanding is that the slot should have been given to his wife, member of the family or  any person from his zone.

“The limited understanding of such people is that the position was meant for Tobe Okwuru; or that it is meant for the family or for community he came from.

“This is politically untrue. The position is for Ebonyi and the one chosen to replace Okwuru is eminently qualified and a retired federal permanent secretary.

“His choice was made to eliminate anything that can disqualify Ebonyi from assuming the position after the demise of Okwuru.

“The area the position went to is not out of place in the political allocations of Ebonyi,” Chima said

He said that Abakaliki bloc has had fair representation in both federal political appointments and sitting of institutions.

“Ambassador Jonah Mkpuruka is a serving ambassador covering Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Brazil and he is from Ikwo, Ebonyi Central, Sen. Julius Ucha is a member of National Assembly Service Commission, from Ishielu, Ebonyi Central.

“Chief Enyi Enyi from Ezza in Ebonyi Central is Chairman, Federal University Teaching Hospital, Gombe, Governing Council, Chief Austin Edeze, from Ebonyi North, is Chairman, Governing Council, Federal Polytechnic, Ado- Ekiti in Ekiti .

“Chief Elias Mbam from Izzi in Ebonyi North zone is the Chairman Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, while Mr Patrick Mgbebu, is a member representing Ebonyi in the Commission, among others.

“All the above mentioned appointees are from the Abakaliki bloc.

“No man from Ebonyi South zone is heading any commission, board or agency and we wonder where or how the cry of marginalisation of Abakaliki bloc by the group is coming from.

He noted that Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ikwo and the newly established Federal Science College, Ameka in Ezza South were all sited in Ebonyi Central.

“Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Federal College of Agriculture, Ishiagu and Federal Government College, Okposi were institutions established long before the advent of the current democratic dispensation.

Ebonyi is made up of two major political bloc-the Abakaliki bloc comprising Ebonyi North and Ebonyi Central senatorial zones.

The Ebonyi North zone is made up of Izzi, Ebonyi, Abakaliki and Ohaukwu local government areas, while Ebonyi Central senatorial zone comprises, Ikwo, Ishielu, Ezza South, and Ezza North local government areas.

The Afikpo bloc comprises Afikpo South, Afikpo North, Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo local government areas.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Obike Ukoh (NAN)



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India’s Maharashtra state maps districts into red, non-red zones over COVID-19




India’s western state of Maharashtra has revised guidelines for the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown by mapping its urban cities and districts into red and non-red zones effective from Friday based on the number of deaths and doubling rate of COVID-19 in the past seven days.

The state had earlier demarcated its cities and districts based on red, orange and green zones with red being the worst affected and green being the least affected.

Maharashtra with over 37,000 cases of confirmed novel coronavirus accounts for one third of India’s total cases, while Mumbai, the state’s political capital and India’s financial capital has close to 23,000 confirmed cases constituting 20 percent of the cases in the country.

After contemplating delineation parameters recommended by government of India and the existing health infrastructure and other relevant considerations, the state has been categorized in two zones, said the state order.

As per the new guidelines, Mumbai along with nine other cities in the state have been categorized as red zones.

Cabs including aggregating services like Ola and Uber are prohibited in red zones while they are allowed to ply in non-red zones with only two passengers apart from the driver being allowed for essential activities. Barber shops, spas and saloons are not permitted to re-open in red zones while relaxation has been given for non-red zones, as per the revised guidelines.

As of Wednesday evening, India has 106,750 cases of novel coronavirus with 3,303 deaths reported so far.


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Libya’s east-based army says to make safe zone in Tripoli




Libya’s east-based army on Wednesday announced it would create a safe zone here for civilians during the holiday period, but was accused by its rival of failure to honor its word.

“In the last week of the holy month of Ramadan, it is customary to visit relatives and friends before Eid al-Fitr. As we desire to ease the people’s suffering during this happy holiday and to give our people in Tripoli opportunity to observe customs and traditions, we have decided to withdraw forces from all front lines in Tripoli for a distance of 2-3 km,” thus creating a tension-free zone, Ahmad al-Mismari, spokesman of the east-based army, said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

The army said the retreat would start at 12:00 p.m. (2200 GMT) Wednesday, and called on the UN-backed government forces to follow.

However, the UN-backed government accused the east-based army of launching a missile attack on a residential area in Tripoli shortly after the army’s announcement.

The east-based army has been leading a military campaign for more than a year in and around Tripoli, in an attempt to take over the city.

The fighting has killed and injured hundreds of civilians and displaced more than 150,000 others.


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Rocket hits Green Zone in Baghdad




A Katyusha rocket was fired on Tuesday at the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad without causing any casualties, the Iraqi military said.

The rocket was fired from Edriesy neighborhood in eastern Baghdad and landed on an empty house inside the Green Zone, slightly damaging the wall of the house, the media office of the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

The Green Zone is where some of the main Iraqi government offices and the U.S. embassy are located.

The attack came after a senior official held a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller, during which they discussed bilateral relations and the preparations of the two sides to hold the first round of strategic dialogue, according to a statement by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.

The strategic dialogue is aimed at cementing a balanced strategic relationship between the two countries based on the common interests and mutual respect, the ministry statement said.

The Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops across Iraq and the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad have been frequently targeted by insurgent mortar and rocket attacks.

Over 5,000 U.S. troops have been deployed in Iraq to support Iraqi forces in battles against the Islamic State, mainly for training and advisory purposes.


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