Tuesday 23 April 2024

FG Orders Sale Of Four Discos, To Unbundle 11 Distribution Companies

FG Orders Sale Of Four Discos, To Unbundle 11 Distribution Companies

 Power distribution companies in Nigeria are currently being unbundled along state lines due to their large sizes which often result in inefficiency and ineffectiveness, the Federal Government declared on Monday.

It stated that the privatisation of the firms would not be reversed, but stressed that the Discos would be broken into more efficient structures along state lines so as to be able to deliver on their mandates.

This came as the Federal Government also ordered the sale of Discos that have been taken over by banks and the Assets Management Corporation from its original investors/owners.

Currently, four Discos are under the management of banks and AMCON.

Abuja Electricity Distribution Company is under the management of the United Bank of Africa (UBA), while Fidelity Bank manages Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, and Kano Electricity Distribution Company.

The Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company is under the AMCON management.

The four Discos are under these new managements due to their inability to repay their loans to the financial institutions.

The government stated that those who acquired the Discos when the firms were officially privatised in November 2013, lacked the required expertise and financial capacity to run the companies.

This came as the Senate Committee on Power lambasted the Discos for being so inefficient since they took over the privatised assets over 10 years ago, and called for the overhaul of the power firms.

In his address, while playing host to the Senate Committee on Power, led by their Chairman, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, stated that the Federal Government had commenced the restructuring of Nigeria’s 11 power distribution companies.

He also revealed that over 100 projects of the Transmission Company of Nigeria have not been completed since 2001, a period of about 23 years.

Adelabu said, “We are unbundling the Discos along state lines. Some of the Discos are too big for efficiency. They are too big for effectiveness. Ibadan Disco covers seven states. It is practically impossible for them to be efficient.

“So we are rearranging and restructuring the Discos along state lines so that each state government will know the responsible Disco for their states. Also, the federal and state governments should start exercising their rights in the operation and management of the Discos because we still own 40 per cent in the firms.

“But we have left it for the private sector operators for too long and they have messed it up. So the government must come back to take over its own right in the Discos. We are also planning to franchise the unserved communities under the Discos.”

The minister went ahead to state that “we will start seeing regulations about franchising. The fact you are Eko Disco doesn’t mean that you cannot have smaller Discos that are ready to invest in your unserved communities. So we are looking at franchising.”

Adelabu further revealed that the Oyo State Government had written to the Federal Government stating that it wants to exercise its rights in Ibadan Disco.

He said the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has been made to realise that it must sanction Discos that fail to perform, as the licences of some of the power firms might be withdrawn for non-performance.

“We are transforming the Discos and very soon you’ll see that a lot of tough decisions will be taken against these Discos because they are the last mile in the sector. If they don’t perform then the entire sector is not performing.

“So we have put pressure on NERC to make sure that it raises the bar on the activities of the Discos. If it has to withdraw licences for non-performance, why not? If it has to change the boards and managements, why not?

“And all the Discos that are still under AMCON (Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria) and some lenders (banks), within the next three months they must be sold to a technical power operator with a good reputation in utility management.

“We can no longer afford AMCON to run our Discos. We can no longer afford the banks to run our Discos. This is a technical industry and it must be run by technical experts,” the power minister stated.

Also commenting on the non-performance of Discos, a member of the committee, Senator Danjuma Goje said, “The Discos have not added anything significant to the power sector, but are just going about collecting money.

“The Discos are complete failures and should be overhauled. They have failed to live up to expectations and we have so many complaints about their poor performances.”

The Senate committee also authorised an investigative hearing on the electricity tariff hike and stated that this would be held on April 29, 2024, at the Senate.

FG Sealed Abuja-Chinese Supermarket Over Discriminatory Practices

FG Sealed Abuja-Chinese Supermarket Over Discriminatory Practices


The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has sealed an Abuja-based Chinese supermarket for barring Nigerians and restricting entry to Chinese nationals.

The commission,  which on Monday summoned the owner of the supermarket along Airport Road, to appear before it on Wednesday, said it would deploy “regulatory tools” against the management.

The commission gave the directive on Monday following discreet investigations and enquiries from complaints by Nigerians alleging discriminatory practices.

If found wanting, the operator of the supermarket risks sanctions, according to officials.

The PUNCH had reported on Sunday that the supermarket had implemented a controversial policy restricting entry solely to Chinese nationals, excluding Nigerians from patronising the establishment.

This policy sparked widespread condemnation across various social media platforms as Nigerians voiced their concerns over the discriminatory treatment.

But visiting the premises on Monday, the commission officials led by the Director for Surveillance and Investigation, Boladale Adeyinka, said the mission of the commission was in response to the viral video when Nigerians were allegedly being discriminated against and denied access to a supermarket located in Abuja.

Adeyinka, at the end of the enforcement, stated that the owner of the supermarket, a Chinese lady, Cindy Liu Bei, fled on Monday at 8:26 am with her family as confirmed on the Closed-Circuit Television camera.

She said, “The essence of the surveillance and investigation that we conducted today is to verify the allegations and the content of that viral video.

“On arrival, we noticed that the supermarket which is right behind me, was sealed and padlocked externally. Inquiries have shown that yes, as this morning this supermarket was open and people were here.

“CCTV footage also shows that in the morning, two vehicles departed from these very premises allegedly containing the owner of the supermarket, whom we have been able to identify by name and we have her contact details.”

She further directed that the owner appear before the commission tribunal or the compound would remain sealed.

“Now the summons of course, since she’s not around and the place is locked, is to serve notice on her to appear before the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission by Wednesday.

“There are other regulatory tools to be deployed if she fails to attend to this summon. The summons means that on entering into these premises, they must see the summons because that is how they gain access to it”, she said.

She added that if the Chinese owner failed to attend to the summons, which is a lawful inquiry, the mandate of the commission under its powers would seal the premises until she appeared before the commission.

The FCCPC officials subsequently sealed the supermarket. Earlier in the day, the Abuja-based Chinese supermarket closed down its facility following backlash on its controversial policy.

One of our correspondents, who arrived at the premises on Monday at 9.10 am, observed that the grocery store was closed with an anti-theft padlock and no occupant entered the building throughout the day.

Monday 22 April 2024

North-Central APC Backs Ganduje’s suspension, Moves To Reclaim Seat

North-Central APC Backs Ganduje’s suspension, Moves To Reclaim Seat


Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress in the North Central on Sunday backed the suspension of the National Chairman of the party, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, and demanded that the seat that Abdullahi Adamu previously occupied be returned to their zone.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, the APC stalwarts lamented that the alleged imposition of Ganduje on the party was “insensitive and a clear violation of the zoning process” in the party.

Their agitation comes in the wake of fresh suspension slammed on the embattled national chairman by a faction of the Ganduje Ward in Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area of Kano State.

The PUNCH on Monday reported how the ward’s Legal Adviser, Haladu Gwanjo, led some party leaders to pronounce the former Kano governor’s suspension.

Gwanjo, who hinged the purported suspension on the alleged bribery case brought against Ganduje and his wife, said the decision was taken by nine executive members of the APC ward.

The move was quickly followed up with a Kano High Court order on Wednesday restraining Ganduje from parading himself as the APC national chairman.

Despite spirited efforts to abort the move by Kano APC, which immediately suspended the ward executives for their roles, the new court injunction proved to be a stumbling block.

The court order was however put on hold when Ganduje secured another Federal High Court injunction presided over by Justice A.M Liman.

The ruling was given after he filed an ex parte motion seeking to enforce his fundamental right to a fair hearing.

But in the early hours of Sunday, the faction, which claimed to be the legitimate executives, affirmed that the embattled chairman remained suspended.

Reacting in Abuja, the Coordinator of Concerned North Central APC Stakeholders, Muhammad Etsu, said they supported the suspension.

Etsu argued that it was wrong for the party to replace the immediate past national chairman of the party, Abdullahi Adamu, who is from their region with the Ganduje, a politician of North West extraction.

The politician therefore appealed to President Bola Tinubu and the National Executive Committee of the APC to remedy the situation by upholding Ganduje’s suspension while efforts are made to return the seat to their zone.

He said, “We call on all party leaders and stakeholders to support the North Central aspiration. This would strengthen the party, unite all interests, and pave the way for a formidable APC that will consolidate its position across the board. Significantly, we also call on people of conscience to prevail on the ruling party to obey the order of the High Court of Kano state restraining and prohibiting Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje from presiding over the affairs of APC pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory injunction.

“This is to avoid sending the wrong signal to Nigerians that the party is anarchic, lawless, and deviates from its Constitution. That is why we are calling on the President, and the NEC of our party to immediately swing into action by repositioning the APC and ensuring an inclusive remake of the NWC where the North Central Zone regains the position of the National Chairman of the party which it lost after the resignation of erstwhile Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu.”

An APC chieftain from Adamawa, Sunny Moniedafe, also threw his weight behind the agitation of the North Central stakeholders, saying it was the right thing to do.

Moniedafe told our correspondent after the press conference that the fact that zoning is being violated in some major opposition parties does not mean the ruling party can’t be different.

He said, “This position belongs to the North Central. It was zoned to them and one will expect to retain the seat after Abdullahi Adamu left the party.”

When reminded that the matter might resort to contempt of court since Ganduje has secured an interim court order, calling for status quo on all sides, Sylvester disagreed.

“No, Ganduje secured the injunction from a court of concurrent jurisdiction instead of going to the very court where the first exparte order was given. It was wrong. The court said he should restrain from parading himself as the national chairman. He should comply.

“In other words, what we are saying is ‘give this seat back to the North Central’ where it belongs. That is the agreement. The zone itself comprises a number of states. I am not from North Central. But as a concerned party stakeholder from Adamawa State in the North East, I feel the right thing should be done.

“The same thing happened when Iyorchia Ayu of the PDP was removed, his zone demanded for his seat. We all know what follows. But we are saying the APC should do things right. We should not be like them,” he stated.

But Ganduje’s Senior Special Assistant Assistant on Public Enlightenment, Chief Oliver Okpala, thinks otherwise.

According to him, those fuelling the crisis in the party are obviously in dire need of psychiatric evaluation.

He said, “The Federal Government needs to start quarantining some psychiatric cases from infiltrating the political space of the country. Their main aim is to cause distraction and crisis thereby derailing a return to civilian rule and the practice of democratic process in the country.

“Secondly, under judicial practice, these people are supposed to be committed to prison custody for contempt of court. Remember there is a definite order from a Federal High Court that status quo should be maintained by all and sundry in favour of Ganduje and in furtherance of his fundamental human rights.”

Nigeria Army Destroy ISWAP Bread factory In Borno

Nigeria Army Destroy ISWAP Bread factory In Borno

 Troops of Operation Lake Sanity III, under Operation Hadin Kai, have reportedly discovery an Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terr9rist bread production factory hidden within their den in Maisani, Timbuktu Triangle, Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State.

According to intelligence sources quoted by security analyst and counter-insurgency expert, Zagazola Makama, on Monday, the Combined troops of 199 Special Forces Battalion, in conjunction with Hybrid Forces and Civilian JTF (Joint Task Force), stumbled upon the bread factory during an exploitation mission into the terrórists’ hideout on Sunday.

“The sources said that the factory was destroyed while items recovered include 2 Lister generating plants, 1 baking machine, and several baking materials,” Makama reported.

According to the report, the discovery came amidst a week-long clearance operation aimed at decimating the terrorists from their stronghold in the Timbuktu Triangle, an area comprising Buk 1, 2, and 3, Talala, Ajigin, Dusula, Abulam, and Gorgi – a region notorious for harbouring these extremist groups.

“These groups of terrorists are mostly responsible for attacks, ambushes, and IED/mine incidents targeting the Damboa roads, Damaturu-Maiduguri MSR (Main Supply Route), attacks towards Askira, Buratai, Buni Yadi, as well as the destruction of the high-tension transmission line connecting Borno and Yobe State.

“These groups of terrorists are mostly responsible for attacks, ambushes and IED/mine towards Damboa roads, Damaturu-Maiduguri MSR, attacks towards Askira, Buratai, Buni Yadi as well as destruction of high tension transmission line connecting Borno and Yobe State.

“Despite the complexity of the terrain characterized by highly fortified camp mostly located under thick foliage and IEDs planted in several locations within the Timbuktu Triangle, the troops continued to maintain high fighting efficiency,” Makama stated.

Igboho, Akintoye Write Tinubu, Demand Yoruba Exit From Nigeria

Igboho, Akintoye Write Tinubu, Demand Yoruba Exit From Nigeria


The Yoruba Self-Determination Movement, led by Prof Banji Akintoye and Chief Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, has written an open letter to President Bola Tinubu, seeking a peaceful breakaway of Yoruba people from Nigeria.

The open letter, dated April 17, 2024, was signed by both Akintoye, Igboho and one Ola Ademola.

They called on the President to within the next two months set up a negotiation team to negotiate the exit of the Yoruba people from Nigeria.

The letter by the Yoruba Nation arrowheads came about a week after some armed agitators invaded the Oyo State Government House, attempting to hoist their flag on the premises of the state House of Assembly.

The agitators were subdued and 29 of them were last week taken before a magistrates’ court in Ibadan, which ordered that they should be remanded in the prison custody.

Both Akintoye and Igboho dissociated themselves from the violent action.

However, in their open letter made available to our correspondent in Ibadan on Sunday, the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement, said, “We have the honour to send to Your Excellency this important letter on behalf of the many millions of Yoruba people at home in Yorubaland in Nigeria and in the Yoruba Diaspora in almost all countries across the world.

“We send this letter as a follow-up to our earlier letter, dated August 06, 2022, which we delivered to your predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his exalted position then as President of Nigeria.

“Since 2015, the Fulani have been kîlling widely among the other peoples of Nigeria, including us Yoruba, destroying farms, villages and other assets, kidnápping men, women and children, extorting large amounts of money as ransom from friends and family of the kidnàpped, and repeatedly asserting their intention to seize the homelands of all the indigenous peoples of Nigeria for the purpose of turning all into a Fulani homeland.”

The group said in the Middle Belt, horrendous blood-letting was going on with many families forced into Internally Displaced People Camps while many of their villages were seized by the Fulani and renamed as Fulani villages.

“In our Yoruba homeland, our people are resisting somewhat better, but the Fulani attacks and killings and kidnappings are unrelenting and are coming daily, leading to horrific instability, and forcing most of our farmers to abandon farming altogether, thereby dooming Yoruba people to years and years of famine.”

It further alleged that an unofficial estimate showed that Fulani had kîlled as many as 29,000 Yoruba people since 2015 till date, adding that aforementioned reasons were enough for them to seek breakaway from Nigeria.

“All these actions by the Fulani are, to us Yoruba, a sufficient reason for our seeking to separate our Yoruba Nation from Nigeria. Most of us, Yoruba have no confidence in the ‘restructuring’ that some of our most respected Yoruba leaders (such as our fathers in our highly exalted Afenifere) are advocating.

“And our reason is that we know that restructuring cannot keep the Fulani marauders away from our homeland.  Since, after restructuring, the Fulani would still be Nigerians like us, and would still have full citizens’ rights to come in large numbers, and with weapons and intent to kíll and destroy and seize land, to our homeland.

“The Fulani elite seem to be saying in effect that they intend to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Tinubu, and that they would never accept any official action of his.

“We are acting for and on behalf of our 60 million Yoruba people of the Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo State, respectively, plus the Yoruba Local Government Areas of Kogi and Kwara State, and plus the Itshekiri homeland of Delta State, all together constituting the Yorubaland in Nigeria, hereby most humbly place our crowning request before Your Excellency as follows:

“That the Nigerian Federal Government shall, within the next two months, but not later than June 15, 2024, inform us Yoruba Self-determination Movement that the Nigerian Federal Government has graciously agreed to our proposal for negotiation and that they have set up a negotiation team that will meet and have a dialogue with our Yoruba Nation’s negotiation team.

“That the Nigerian Federal Government shall invite the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, to send observers to the negotiation meetings.”

It, therefore, promised to forward the list of its negotiation team to the government as soon as it received a message in response to its request for the negotiation.

Monday 8 April 2024

Court Remands Emefiele To EFCC Custody Over Abuse Of Office

Court Remands Emefiele To EFCC Custody Over Abuse Of Office


The Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has ordered the remand of the former Central Bank Bank (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Rahman Oshodi gave the remand order over alleged abuse of office and and $5.5 billion and N2.8 billion fraud.

Meanwhile, the judge ordered that Emefiele’s co-defendant, Henry Isioma-Omoile, should be detained at Ikoyi Custodial Centre.

The defendants counsel, Mr A. Labi-Lawal, had in his two bail application urged the court to grant the defendants bail on self recognition and on liberal terms pending the determination on the case.

Labi-Lawal, in his 31 affidavits, said the first defendant (Emefiele) had complied with the bail application which was given to him by Justice Muazu in his alleged fraud trial case going on in Abuja.

He said the charges were bailable offences and not a capital offence.

“Though the first defendant was granted administrative bail by the prosecuting authority. He is seeking for bail based on self recognition and he is ready to attend the court.”

“The court should also take into consideration, the status of the first defendant as he was the former CBN governor of the country,” he said.

The defence counsel said his client had religiously presented himself before Justice Muazu in Abuja to answer the allegations before him.

According to him, the first defendant was not at flight risk, as he was the first person to arrive in court.

He also prayed the court to release Emefiele to lawyer, pending the determination of the bail.

Emefiele and his co-defendant pleaded not guilty to the 26-count charge bordering on abuse of office, accepting gratification, accepting gifts through agents, corruption, and fraudulent property receipt.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty, following their arraignment.

The EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), did not oppose the bail application moved by the defence counsel.

Oyedepo, however, urged the court to exercise its discretion judiciously in granting bail to the defendants.

The prosecution had asked the court for a trial date, following the plea of the defendants. 


Edo Assembly Sacks Deputy Gov, Shaibu

Edo Assembly Sacks Deputy Gov, Shaibu


The Edo State House of Assembly on Monday impeached the embattled state deputy governor, Philip Shaibu.

The impeachment followed the adoption of the report of the seven-man investigative panel set up by the state Chief Judge to probe allegations of misconduct against Shaibu.

FG Plans Three National ID Cards For 104m Nigerians June

FG Plans Three National ID Cards For 104m Nigerians June


The Federal Government is to launch three new national identity cards in May this year and has a target of providing them for about 104 million citizens across the country.

The three new national identity cards planned by the National Identity Management Commission include a bank-enabled National ID card, a social intervention card, and an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

The Technical Adviser, Media, and Communications to the Director-General of NIMC, Ayodele Babalola, who disclosed these in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said Nigerians would start getting the three national ID cards within one or two months of the launch.

He, however, said the launch date (May), was subject to the approval of the Presidency.

Babalola stated, “We expect the bank-enabled National ID to meet the needs of the middle and upper segments who typically use banks within the next one or two months after launch. Also, activation of the National Safety Net Card to meet the urgent needs for authentication and a secure platform for government services such as palliatives within the next one or two months. The focus will be on the 25 million vulnerable Nigerians funded by the current government intervention programmes.”

“Digital/virtual versions of all cards will be available for individuals who prefer digital formats, albeit with limited functionalities. Additionally, ECOWAS cards will be issued on an as-needed basis in collaboration with the Nigerian Immigration Service,” he added.

On Friday, the Identity Commission unveiled plans to launch a multipurpose national identity card. It explained that the identity solution was equipped with payment capability for all types of social and financial services.

According to a statement by NIMC on Friday, this initiative represents a collaborative effort between NIMC, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System. It aims to offer increased options for domestic consumers while fostering the delivery of services in a more innovative, cost-effective, and competitive manner.

During the interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, Babalola explained that the new card would address the need for physical identification by allowing cardholders to prove their identity, gain access to government and private social services, promote financial inclusion for marginalised Nigerians, empower citizens, and encourage greater participation in nation-building initiatives.

He said the commission hoped the cards would be allocated to 104 million eligible applicants on the national identification number database as of the end of December 2023.

He said, “We shall be implementing the following programmes to revive the general multipurpose card issuance; first is the bank-enabled national ID card in collaboration with NIBSS and banks, while the second programme will be a social intervention card under the National Safety Net Card. The third rollout will be an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

“We are looking at May for the possible launch but that is also subject to presidential approval. It is just to finalise some very important details. The project will be powered by AfriGo, which is under the central bank but everything stops at the table of the President.”

In January 2023, the CBN launched AfriGo to drive financial inclusion using the card and boost data sovereignty.

AfriGO was birthed in Nigeria with continental aspirations, as ‘AFRI’ means culture, ethnic diversity, bravery, innovation, and growth, while “GO” symbolises progress, empowerment, inclusivity, and future-forward, among others.

This initiative is coming months after the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, announced plans to collaborate with the National Identity Management Commission to ensure the successful rollout and registration of digital national IDs for all Nigerians.

Chaudhuri at a meeting with the minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, said the ambitious target was to provide at least 148 million people of working age with a digital national ID by the middle of 2024, marking a significant step towards inclusion and accessibility.

Chaudhuri said, “So one of the main partnerships we have is working with NIMC to ensure the rollout of the registration so that all 213/220million Nigerians have a digital national ID, beginning, of course, with all people of working age and I think the target for that is at least 148 million people by the middle of next year.”

Continuing during the interview on Sunday, Babalola said, “On our part, we have done the needful but we also have to wait for necessary permission. It is going to be three different cards, one would be for the smooth process of palliative distribution and social safety programmes. There will be another one that is bank-enabled and people will have the choice to choose based on their needs. Persons without bank accounts will also be able to use it and persons living with disability.

“The National E-ID card can function as a debit and prepaid card for both banked and unbanked individuals using biometric authentication, such as fingerprint and picture, to aid identity verification. It has offline capability that will allow transactions to be carried out in areas with limited network coverage. Banking details at the back of the card with chip and pin as well as magnetic stripe enabled.

“While the National Safety Net Card will be enabled for identity and used for all government interventions and services across multiple ministries, departments, and agencies. Among other capabilities and functionalities, this card will be enabled for the eNaira in compliance with the operational and security standards and interoperable with the existing payment system.

“The card will be used for all government social programmes including cash transfers, agricultural loans, student loans, health insurance schemes, micro contributions, micro pensions, etc, with a validity period of 10 years and will be issued based on the government programmes and existing social register. This will enable real access through electronic money and not cash and uplift 133 million people out of poverty.”

When our correspondent asked him to provide further explanations, Babalola insisted that the three ID cards would be launched. ‘’Yes, three cards will be launched,” he said.