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8.7.20

Merkel to meet EU heads in Brussels to discuss economic recovery

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Merkel to meet EU heads in Brussels to discuss economic recovery
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet the presidents of the three main EU institutions on Wednesday to discuss Germany’s EU council presidency.

The discussion looks set to be dominated by the bloc’s economic recovery, following the coronavirus pandemic.

During her first trip abroad since the beginning of the pandemic, Merkel will meet the presidents of the European Parliament, European Council and European Commission – David Sassoli, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, respectively.

Germany took over the EU Council presidency on July 1 and will hand it over to Portugal after six months.

One of the biggest issues on their plate is the controversial multi-billion-euro coronavirus recovery plan.

The meeting takes place a little more than a week before the EU’s 27 heads of governments meet again to push for a consensus.

A similar meeting at the end of June did not result in any concrete agreement.

Under von der Leyen’s watch, the European Commission proposed a 750 billion-euro ($846 billion) package, consisting of 500 billion euros in grants and 250 billion euros in loans.

But while the meeting on Wednesday could pave a way for finding negotiation ground for next week’s talks, the strongest disagreement is expected between leaders not present on this day.

The so-called “frugal four” – the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Austria – are critical of certain aspects of the proposal.

(dpa/NAN)

Ministry of Works Explains why 3rd mainland bridge is being shut for 6 months

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Ministry of Works Explains why 3rd mainland bridge is being shut for 6 months
The Ministry of Works and Housing, says there is no going back in the proposed plan to shut the third mainland bridge for a period of six months beginning from July 24.

 

According to the Ministry, the repairs are necessary so as to avert a collapse of the bridge. 

 

Speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, July 8, the Controller of Works, Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Olukayode Popoola, said the bridge was last rehabilitated in 2012 and that it is important repairs are carried out now to avert a collapse of the ever-busy bridge.

 

According to Popoola, the first three months would be used to carry out work on the part of the bridge coming from the Lagos Island to the Mainland, while work on the other portion of the bridge coming from Oworonsoki to Lagos Island would begin three months later.

 

“We don’t want the bridge to collapse. We want to replace worn out components and joints. The bridge will be partially closed and there will be diversion of traffic from midnight to 1pm every morning for movement from Oworonsoki to Lagos Island only on the Lagos Island bound lane while from 1pm to midnight, it will be Lagos Island to Oworonsoki traffic only on the Lagos Island bound lane.

This will be in place for three months for the repairs of the Oworonsoki bound lane,” he said

 

Popoola said the second phase of the work would follow the same pattern and would be for another three months.

“Motorists are advised to also ply the alternative routes of Carter Bridge through Iddo to Oyingbo to join Adekunle ramp inward Oworonsoki, or from Ijora through Western Avenue to Ikorodu Road,” he said

 

The repairs on the bridge is expected to terminate in January.

China converts Hong Kong hotel into new national security office

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China converts Hong Kong hotel into new national security office
China opened its new national security office in Hong Kong on Wednesday, turning a hotel near a city-centre park that has been one of the most popular venues for pro-democracy protests, into its new headquarters.

The office, in the bustling shopping and commercial district of Causeway Bay, near Victoria Park, will oversee the Hong Kong government’s enforcement of the sweeping national security legislation that China imposed on the city last week.

The law empowers the office to take enforcement action beyond existing city laws in the most serious cases.

The legislation allows agents to take suspects across the border for trials in Communist Party-controlled courts and specifies special privileges for its agents, including that Hong Kong authorities cannot inspect their vehicles.

The newly appointed Chief of the Office, Zheng Yanxiong, Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam and Luo Huining, the head of China’s Liaison Office in the city – Beijing’s top representative office – attended the opening ceremony at the former Metropark Hotel, which was popular with tourists for its harbour views.

Luo said the office was “the gatekeeper of national security’’ and people who loved China and Hong Kong welcomed it.

“Those with ulterior motives and who are anti-China and seek to destabilise Hong Kong have not only stigmatised the office but also smeared the legal system.

“They also smeared the rule of law in the Chinese mainland in an attempt to stir up unnecessary worries and fears among Hong Kong residents,’’ Luo said.

Security was tight around the hotel, with tall barriers raised and numerous police on duty nearby.

The law has pushed China’s freest city onto a more authoritarian path and drawn condemnation from some Western governments, lawyers and rights groups.

It punishes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

Police have arrested at least 10 people, including a 15-year-old, under it for suspected threats to China’s national security.

Critics fear it will crush coveted freedoms in the Chinese-ruled city, while supporters say it will bring stability after a year of sometimes violent protests that plunged the former British colony into its biggest crisis in decades.

Zheng said the office would enforce the law strictly “without infringing on the legitimate rights and interests of any individual or organisation’’.

A Communist Party cadre, prominent during a 2011 clampdown on land rights protesters in a south China village, 57-year-old Zheng most recently served as secretary-general of the Communist Party committee of Guangdong province, bordering Hong Kong.

Leaked footage during the 2011 dispute showed him berating villagers and calling foreign media “rotten”.

Zheng has never held a post outside Guangdong and has extensive experience in propaganda, having worked at the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily in its southern regional bureau for four years.

He was vice-minister in charge of propaganda for Guangdong from 2013 to 2018.

But in a reflection of the widespread unease over the legislation, major U.S. internet companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Zoom have announced they have suspended the processing of requests for user data from the Hong Kong authorities while they study it.

Chinese-owned social media platform, TikTok, which only operates outside China, said on Tuesday it would exit the Hong Kong market within days.

Its departure means Hong Kong users, like those in mainland China, will be cut off.

The U.S. has begun removing Hong Kong’s special status in U.S. law as Washington no longer deems the global financial hub sufficiently autonomous from mainland China.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s top advisers weighed proposals to undermine the Hong Kong currency’s peg to the U.S. dollar, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter, although the idea did not appear to gain traction.

Ngige threatens to sue House of Reps member over N2billion allegation

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Ngige threatens to sue House of Reps member over N2b allegation
Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment has threatened to sue the Chairman of the House of Representatives on Finance, James Falake, over claims of inserting N2 billion projects in the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) 2020 budget. 

 

The Minister who accused Falake of either being “mischievous or ignorant of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act or both", also alleged that he is abusing “parliamentary privilege" and also ignorant of the fact that ministers cannot pad budgets because the final products come from the National Assembly. He also expressed readiness of challenging the lawmaker in court. 

 

The statement read; 

 

 ”It is instructive here to note that ministers do not award contracts. They neither sit    in the Ministerial Tenders Board nor Tenders Board of parastatals.

“Even, the Ministry of Labour’s representatives on the NSITF main board are not part of the tenders board of that parastatal. So, how, when and where did the minister sit in that board to choose, much less pad the budget?

“It is therefore easy to attribute Faleke’s motion on the floor of the House on Tuesday to a consummate parliamentary mischief or outright ignorance of the BPP Act or both.

“If Faleke is desperately clutching a straw on behalf of his constituents, he must definitely grow bigger than his infantile approach.

”Faleke also brought my wife into everything. My wife is a civil servant. She is a permanent secretary in Service Welfare Office in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. I didn’t see any circular that they sent from that office so I don’t know what they mean.

“They should not drag my family into a matter they are doing politically. It is unfair to my family. They should insulate my family from that, especially my wife, who is discharging her functions innocently as a civil servant, carrying out instructions of Head of Service of the Federation.”

Nigeria records 503 new cases of COVID-19, total Toll 29,879

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Nigeria records 503 new cases of COVID-19, total hits 29,879
Nigeria has recorded 503 new COVID-19 cases, as total infections from the virus rise to 29,879.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) made this known on its official twitter handle on Tuesday.

The NCDC said that as of July 7, a total of 503 new confirmed cases and 15 deaths were recorded across the country.

The health agency said that no new state had reported a case in the last 24 hours.

According to NCDC, to date, 29,879 cases have been confirmed while 12,108 cases have been discharged and 669 deaths have been recorded in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 503 new cases were reported from 20 states.

They states are: Lagos (153), Ondo (76) Edo (54), FCT (41), Enugu (37), Rivers (30), Benue (24), Osun (20), Kaduna (15), Kwara (13), Abia (9) and Borno (8).

Others are Plateau (6), Taraba (5), Ogun (3), Kano (3), Kebbi (2), Nasarawa (2), Bayelsa(1), and Gombe (1).

The health agency said that COVID-19 affected people differently, based on age and underlying health status.

It said that anyone who felt exposed to a case or noticed known symptoms of COVID-19, should call state helpline immediately to get tested.

The NCDC urged Nigerians to refrain from prank calls to ensure that those who needed help got the required attention.


Below are the total breakdown of the number of COVID-19 cases per states and FCT:
Nigeria records 503 new cases of COVID-19, total Toll 29,879

Security agents ransack suspended EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu's home

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Security agents ransack suspended EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu's home
Operatives of the Department of State Services and Nigeria Police Force this on Tuesday July 7, stormed the Abuja home of suspended EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, and ransacked it.

 

The security agents this evening arrived at Magu's home located on Abduljalil Street, Karu Site, on the outskirts of Abuja, and carried out a thorough search of the apartment. They reportedly went away with vital documents found in the apartment.

 

Magu is currently being investigated over allegations of corruption leveled against him by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. He was suspended by the presidency today to allow him to face the probe panel investigating the allegations of corruption.

7.7.20

Acting EFCC Boss Magu faces panel again from detention

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Magu faces panel again from detention
Embattled Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, yesterday, attended the sitting of the presidential panel investigating him from detention, where he has been since Monday night.

Magu had first faced the panel on Monday, wherein he was grilled for six hours, answering questions on 22 allegations against him. He was taken into detention at FCID, Abuja theteafter.

As at 8pm last night, Magu was still been grilled by the panel. He would be taken back to the FCID after the session.

It was gathered that while he is facing the panel, Mr. Umar Mohammed, the Commission’s Director of Operations will side-stepped the Secretary of the Commission, Olanipekun Olukoyede to hold forth as head in the interim, pending when Magu returns or a substantive chairman is appointed.

By hierarchy, Olukoyede is next to the Chairman of the EFCC. However, a precedence was set in 2008, when Nuhu Ribadu was removed  by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and was not replaced by the next in command.

Magu’s second day at the panel’s sitting

There was flurry of activities at the Banquet Hall, yesterday afternoon, after the arrival of the committee members.

At 1:33pm, a convoy of four vehicles, which appeared to be carrying a Very Important Person (VIP), drove into the premises, but it could not be immediately established whether Magu was the official being conveyed.

The convoy had a Peugeot sedan sandwiched by two Toyota Hilux vans occupied by several security personnel, who apparently provided cover for the lead car.

After a brief vetting by the DSS officials at the gate, the convoy was waved on to join the panel meeting atop the Banquet Hall.

As it was on Monday, July 6, again, security details denied access to accredited journalists at the entrance to the Banquet Hall.

Meanwhile, it was gathered that sequel to Monday’s incident, where his convoy was stopped on the street, following which he was taken to the Presidential Villa to honour the panel’s invitation, “Magu was reluctant to respond to the panel’s several invitations officially extended to him.”

Notwitstanding, the panel was said to have “treated him with respect by letting him keep and have access to his phones, allowing him to go for prayers by himself as well as served dinner while still being quizzed by the members.”

Situation at EFCC office

When our correspondent visited the Commission’s headquarters at about 3:45pm yesterday, security was beefed up, while the expansive building was almost deserted.

Besides some staff who were seen in few numbers in offices, the usual buzz in the environment was missing.

A credible source in the Commission who spoke to Daily Sun on the development, said Magu’s travails started when the supervising Minister of the Commission and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, severally expressed displeasure over the suspended Acting Chairman’s modus operandi.

The source said some people in the Presidency had also complained about Magu’s subtle involvement in the 2023 political interplay.

 Magu may face disciplinary panel, PSC

At press time, yesterday, detachments of security operatives were reportedly combing his old residence in the Karu area of Abuja and his controversial new abode in the highbrow Maitama District also in the FCT. It could not be ascertain what they were looking for.

Meanwhile, sources revealed that the police may issue Magu a query as soon as he finishes facing the presidential panel.

Already, all security details attached to him have been withdrawn as police authorities await the outcome of the investigation of the presidential panel.

It was also gathered that the outcome of the investigative panel would determine whether he would remain in the police or not.

On what will happen if Magu is indicted by the panel, a police source said: “Formally, he would be issued a query and, after that, the Police Service Commission would deliberate over his response(s) and, thereafter, make a decision.

“This has to take place because it is a process. Even as he is technically not EFCC chairman, being in detention and another has taken his place, he would not be dismissed from the Force without fair hearing.”

How arrest was planned by 3 security agencies

The drama leading to Magu’s appearance at the panel was hatched two weeks ago.

Sources revealed that security operatives on Monday trailed Magu to the Adetokunbo Ademola, Wuse II EFCC office and intercepted his convoy to serve him invitation to the panel.

The signal for this was said to have been activated by a top security agency charged with the protection of Nigeria’s sovereignty. Before this, the presidential probe panel earlier constituted to investigate petitions against him by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Department of State Service was already at the sitting venue.

A top security source said on the day Magu was invited to the panel, he  got hints of his possible arrest and was prepared.

“On that day, he went to the Wuse II EFCC office and from his office, which has a generous view of the link street, he saw an unusual movement of security vehicles. He actually left the office and as his official vehicle entered the Adetokunbo Ademola access road, the vehicle was blocked.”

At this time, all the three main entrances of the Wuse II EFCC office had been cordoned off.

Anybody can be scrutinised – Presidency

A top government official has declared that the investigation confirms the Buhari administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

It assured that the administration will not prejudge anyone as it could be counted on to uphold justice and fairness.

“The panel investigating allegations against ag. EFCC chairman has been sitting for some weeks now.

“In consonance with the principle of fairness and justice, it was needful that he be given opportunity to respond to the allegations, which are weighty in nature.

“Under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, nobody is above scrutiny.

“The investigation is to reinforce transparency and accountability, rather than to vitiate it. Accountability for our actions or inactions is inalienable part of democracy.

“In such elevated position as that of EFCC Chairman, the holder of the position must be above suspicion.”

Buhari has zero support for corruption -Momoh

Former minister of Information and chieftain of the All Progressives Party (APC), Prince Tony Momoh said the APC-led Federal Government, under President Buhari, has zero tolerance for corruption and corrupt practices, and that if anybody is accused of corrupt practices, the hammer would fall on the person except he/she is cleared of such allegation.

“For instance, if on the strength of the petition against him, it is discovered that his continued stay in office will jeopardise the investigation, of course, he has to be suspended. That is to tell you that even if you are the president’s right hand man, you will get the hit, and possibly hurt if you work outside the due process,” he said.

FG should tell us what he did -Kokori

In his reaction, former national secretary, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Frank Kokori, described the development as unfortunate because to him, Magu is one of the best.

He advised Buhari to carry out proper investigation so as not to be misled by his ministers.

“I don’t have the facts yet, but comparatively, I think Magu is one of the best we have in this country. And I know that many Nigerians have trust in Magu. We don’t want a lame-duck person to go and head that place again.

“However, the public should be made to know the crime he committed that has now led to his suspension. That is the way I look at it, if not, I am one of his fans and I believe he is doing a good job. So, if he has some dirty skeleton, let us know,” he submitted.

Ugwummadu, Erubami react

President, Nigeria Voters Assembly and Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Ethics in Development, Moshood Erubami, said Nigerians should not celebrate the suspension until details of the investigation panel were made public.

He wondered if the country will ever get another EFCC boss who will prosecute the anti-corruption crusade with the same vigour as Magu, even as he noted that the ordeal may not be unconnected with corruption fighting back.

In his reaction, a lawyer, Malachy Ugwummadu, described Magu’s suspension as an interdiction, a period during which a civil servant is suspended from office.

“Such a civil servant is no longer entitled to the full rights and privileges that accrue to him by reason of that service as a civil servant. So, if you equate that to the development, it will be charitable to say that that is what happened,” he said.

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