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Brazil Fan’s Village Scam Latest: Sally Mbanefo shuns probe panel!!!

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Embattled Director General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Commission (NTDC) Mrs. Sally Uwechue-Mbanefo may have settled for more controversies as she has refused to honour invitations to appear before a probe panel set up to investigate her role in the failed Brazil 2014 Fan’s village.

The Minister of Culture, Tourism & National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke had on the accusation of financial impropriety and betrayal of trust against the DG by President of Za Entertainment, Mr. Azania Omo-Agege set up a probe panel to unearth the truth of the matter and report back to him.

The four member panel is co-chaired by the Director General of National Commission for Museum and Monuments, Mallam Yusuf Usman and Director of Human Resources Management in the Ministry Dr. Ochapa Ogenyi.

We learnt that Mbanefo believes that since she was appointed by the President of Nigeria the same way the Minister was appointed, the minister has no right to set up a panel to investigate her. She also believes she cannot appear before a panel headed by her colleagues in the ministry.

Our source in the NTDC disclosed that the panel also invited the Directors of Administration, Marketing, HTT, Finance and head of project unit; Fatimah Obadakin who were initially restrained from appearing before the panel because the NTDC DG ceased their invitation letters but after some other developments were released to honour the invitation.

The President of Za entertainment has told us that he and other parties in the case have since appeared before the panel and were awaiting their decisions on the matter. He also confirmed that Mbanefo was invited by the panel twice but refused to show up.

Our source informed us that while the NTDC DG informed the panel that she couldn’t appear before it on health grounds, she was busy travelling and paying courtesy calls on other agencies.

“That was the time she paid a courtesy visit on the National Planning Commission and so cannot claim to be sick,” the source said.

It is however unclear what the minister may have decided to do with this case as there are insinuations that she is relying on other contacts in the presidency strong enough to sway any recommendation from him to the President.

Society Reporters NG had reported the scuffle between Uwechue-Mbanefo and Omo-Agege in Brazil over the proposed Nigerian Fans Village which never took off. Omo-Agege claimed the DG never kept her own side of the bargain after collecting money from sponsors, while she in turn accused him of trying to defraud her. The controversy got worse when Omo-Agege alleged that the DG wanted to destroy the agreement both parties had, which led to the fight in a hotel lobby in Brazil.

In another development, we discovered that the relationship between the NTDC DG and her staff is deteriorating everyday as she deals with them without regard for the laws and regulations guiding the Federal Civil Service of Nigeria.

In a set of documents made available to us, her Personal Assistant, Mrs Ewuzie Patricia who is also an Assistant Director on August 6, 2014 in a memo (NTDC/PR 1872/1) was queried on an accusation of emotional outburst which was alleged to have embarrassed the DG and ridiculed her office.

The query signed by Acting Director Admin and Supply, B.O Eboka read: “such acts are scandalous and they constitute unruly behavior (PSR 030301 a (II) and acts unbecoming of a public officer (PSR 030402) respectively.

“You are therefore expected to make a defence within 48 hours why disciplinary action should not be taken against you.”

Ewuzie in her reply on August 7, 2014 stated that: “I wish to state that I was asked by the DG to explain why I did not inform her of the courtesy visit of Abuja Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, so that she can be officially dressed for the occasion.

“I responded that I had informed her by text on 5th August 2014 by 9.58am and the 6th morning by 9.20am. I also explained that I had reminded her verbally of the courtesy call on the evening of the 5th before she left office. The text messages are all in my phone and that is the mode of communication with my DG over similar matters.

“There was no outburst on my part; I was only trying to explain to my DG regarding the courtesy visit and her not dressing to suit the occasion.”

As the reply was received, in utter disregard for the rules, Ewuzie was suspended from office.

It reads: “In view of the seriousness of the offence, you are hereby suspended from office for one week with effect from Monday, 11th August to allow for further investigation.”

When we called Mrs Ewuzie to hear the case directly from her, the understandably terrified civil servant said: “I don’t know who told you and I don’t know you. It is a family matter and I don’t want to get into more trouble.”

When we then contacted Mbanefo to get an explanation to these allegations, she asked to be excused for an hour since she can’t talk where she was. Afterwards calls and messages made to her were not responded to.

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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N10bn fraud: EFCC to arraign Abdulfattah Ahmed, ex-Kwara Governor Friday

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will arraign the immediate-past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfattah Ahmed, for alleged N10bn fraud on Friday, The PUNCH has learnt.

Credible sources in the anti-graft agency said the ex-governor would be dragged before the Federal High Court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

“He is going to be arraigned on Friday at the Federal High Court in Ilorin for diversion of funds, amounting to N10bn,” the source told our correspondent.

The ex-governor has been detained by the EFCC since Monday when he honoured an invitation for interrogation.

His Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji AbdulWahab Oba, confirmed his principal’s visit to the EFCC office on Monday, stating that it was only “procedural and routine”.

“Dr Ahmed’s visit to the EFCC is procedural and routine. He was invited and he honoured them as he’s always done. He’s always ready to respond to any query or question regarding his tenure as a governor of the state.”

On Tuesday night, Oba lamented that the EFCC was still holding on to Ahmed, saying he was given stringent bail conditions.

“Yes, he is still with the EFCC and we are now in a dilemma over the issue because they keep changing the goalpost during the match. The case is taking a new dimension, which we don’t really understand for now.

“Initially they said they wanted him to produce two sureties who are federal directors. The sureties came and were asked to provide landed properties in Abuja. We see this as a contradiction. The case was initially handled by the EFCC office in Abuja before it was transferred to Ilorin over the issue of jurisdiction. Additionally, he has been denied access to his doctors, medication and direct access to his cook,” Oba said.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest to the EFCC zonal office in Ilorin, where Ahmed was being detained.

The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions, expressed displeasure over Ahmed’s detention.

Led by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olusegun Adewara, the party members alleged that the All Progressives Congress in the state was behind Ahmed’s troubles.

Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “EFCC should stop being a tool in the hands of Abdulrazaq led-APC”, “Governor Ahmed was very transparent”, “EFCC is not a department in the APC, EFCC, stop the harassment”, “The opposition cannot be silenced”, “Maigida will not join the APC no matter the persecution”, “EFCC, don’t instigate political crisis in Kwara State”, “No to illegal detention. Respect the rule of law”, among others.

But addressing the protesters, the zonal commander of the EFCC, Michael Nzekwe, said Ahmed had been given an administration bail but he could not meet the conditions.

“We’re wrapping up. Once we wrap up, the law will take its course. The anti-graft agency, being a creation of law, would not go contrary to law.

“Everything we’ve done is within the ambit of the law. The former governor is cooperating with us and we’re making good progress following rules of law. As I speak, he’s with his lawyer, a SAN; he attends to everyone who comes to see him, and he has a doctor who has attended to him. He eats what he wants to eat. I urge us to allow the law take its course. We’re not partisan nor prompted by anybody. This body is solely sponsored by the Federal Government,” Nzekwe said.

 

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