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Customs seizes contraband worth N2.8bn in Owerri, arrests 13 suspects

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The Federal Operations Unit, Zone ’C’, Owerri, of the Nigeria Customs Service intercepted contraband goods valued N2.8 billion between January 25 and March 25.

The unit also arrested 13 suspected smugglers during the period.

Acting Comptroller of the NCS in the zone, Mr Kayode Kolade, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, made the declaration on Wednesday in Owerri when he addressed newsmen.

He explained that the value of the goods intercepted was N2.7 billion, while the balance of N61.4 million was for demand notices it raised based on some infractions.

He listed the seized items to include five sacks of pangolin scales, 398 sacks of Indian hemp, weighing 8,756kg and another 2,308 compressed parcels of Indian hemp of 1kg each.

Pangolin scales are used in the manufacture of finger and toe nails, NAN reported.

Others seizures were 2,600 bottles of codeine-based cough syrup packed in 26 cartons, three exotic bulletproof vehicles, 931 jumbo bales of second-hand clothing and 484 bags of smuggled rice.

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Also intercepted were 31 cartons of various medicaments including tramadol; 32 jerry cans of petrol and 540 pieces of used tyres.

“After reviewing and re-jigging our operational modalities, the unit intercepted contrabands with a duty paid value of N2.8 billion between January 25 and March 25.

“Remarkably, the five sacks of pangolin scales weighing 413.1kg and the 11,064kg of Indian hemp are the highest, if not arguably the first seizure of such endangered species and hard drugs in the history of the zone.

“Effort towards combating illicit trade in endangered species is to ensure that such animals don’t go into extinction.

“Nigeria, a signatory to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species categorises the scales under absolute prohibition making its importation or trade illegal,’’ Kolade said.

He added that the Pangolin scales were intercepted on the Benin-Lagos Expressway and the Indian hemp on Ewu-Auchi Road and on the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway.

“The container conveying the 518 bales of used clothes was intercepted on the Benin-Okada Road.

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“The second container conveying the 392 jumbo bales of used clothing was intercepted on Umuikaa-Aba Road.

“The consignments were mostly concealed in heavy-duty trucks, and buses.

“The cartons of cough syrup with codeine, and cartons of unregistered medicaments including tramadol were all intercepted on the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway.

“The bags of rice were intercepted on Benin-Okada Expressway, while the used tyres were intercepted on the Ihiala-Onitsha Road and Cross River Waterside, respectively,’’ he said.

Kolade added that the three exotic armoured vehicles without customs documents and End User Certificates were intercepted on the Patani-Bayelsa-Port Harcourt Expressway.

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Minimum Wage: No figure is sacrosanct, there’s always room for adjustments – Labour

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Following the seeminglt unending discussions on a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers, organised labour has said that it is not fixated on any figure.

 

The tripartite committee on minimum wage ended its deliberations last week, submitting two figures to President Bola Tinubu for consideration as the new minimum wage.

 

While the government and the organised private sector are proposing ₦62,000, organised labour is demanding ₦250,000 as the new minimum wage.

 

However, the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, The Morning Brief on Friday, said no figure is sacrosanct as there is always room for adjustments.

 

“What we said is that for us when we give figures, there is always a room to meander, there is always a room for us to do some adjustment here and there,” Osifo said.

 

“So, there is no figure that is sacrosanct, there is no figure that is cast in stone that both parties will be fixated on it. One of the reasons that we went on industrial action the last time was because when it got to N60,000, they told us that a kobo cannot even join the N60,000, that they cannot even add one naira to it.

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“So that was one of the reasons that led to that industrial action beyond the fact that there were also delays.”

 

President Tinubu is expected to send an executive bill to the National Assembly for legislative action.

 

The TUC President said that they are not going to pre-empt the President, but they are making all efforts to justify why Tinubu should tilt towards the figure presented by the labour instead of the one by the organised private sector and the government.

 

He said that if the President send a figure that is not favourable to the labour to the National Assembly, they will still approach the lawmakers and push them to do much more.

 

Osifo vowed that the work of the labour leaders will not end until the Minimum Wage Act 2024 becomes law. He said it is premature to predict what labour will do if what is passed is not acceptable to them at the end of the day.

 

I will approve what Nigeria can afford

Meanwhile, President Tinubu has said that he will only approve a new minimum wage that the government can afford.

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He stated this on Wednesday at a dinner to mark Nigeria’s 25 years of unbroken democracy in Abuja.

 

“I have to celebrate with you my dear brother, Senate President, Deputy Senate President,” he said, adding that Senate President Godswill Akpabio and his deputy, Jibrin Barau would soon get an Executive Bill from him on the new minimum wage.

 

“The minimum wage is going to be what Nigerians can afford, what you can afford and what I can afford. Cut your coat according to your size, if you have size at all,” he said.

 

I pity Tinubu if he approves unsustainable wage

Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, says he pities President Tinubu if he approves an “unsustainable” minimum wage for workers in the country.

 

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) warned that not all state governments and the organised private sector can pay the ₦62,000 proposed by the Federal Government and the ₦250,000 demand of organised labour.

 

Soludo spoke on Wednesday at The Platform Nigeria, a programme by Lagos-based church, Covenant Nation, to mark 2024 Democracy Day.

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“But on the other hand, you have to come back to reality, talking about these MSMEs, the schools, churches, so on and so forth. You will have to pay your own driver. We are all in it. Whatever they agree, we will muddle through but may be after one year, we will need to meet to discuss the consequences.”

 

“I pity the President because it will all be on his head if the consequences come down, whatever it is, if whatever is negotiated is unsustainable or payable or whatever. Months to come, who will bear the responsibility? Not me.”

 

The discussions for a new minimum wage has lingered for months, with the tripartite committee ending with the two figures last week.

 

While labour dropped its earlier demand from ₦494,000 to ₦250,000, the government added ₦2,000 to its initial ₦60,000 and offered workers ₦62,000.

 

Both sides submitted their reports to the President, who is expected to make a decision and send an executive bill to the National Assembly to pass a new minimum wage bill to be signed into law by the President.

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Good morning! Here Are Some Major News Headlines In The Newspapers Today: Rainstorm Destroys Over 100 Houses In Jigawa

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1. A devastating windstorm and heavy rain have wreaked havoc in Kaugama Local Government Area of Jigawa State, causing over 100 houses to collapse and resulting in significant property loss. Musa Kaugama, a victim of the disaster, said his two-room house collapsed, and he lost all his belongings.

 

2. The Court of Appeal in Abuja has quashed the contempt case initiated by the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, against the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Olanipekun Olukoyede. In a judgment on Thursday, June 13, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal held, among other things, that the contempt case was premised on expired interim orders issued by the Kogi State High Court, sitting in Lokoja.

 

 

3. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the final list of candidates for the Ondo State governorship election. Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ajayi Agboola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olorunfemi Ayodele of the Labour Party, and Akingboye Benson of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) are among the 17 candidates contesting in the November 16 poll.

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4. Some residents of Abaji area council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) set the corpse of a suspected armed robber ablaze on Thursday. A police officer told reporters that the robbers first attacked the police station along Toto Road, where an inspector simply identified as Abila was shot dead.

 

5. President Bola Tinubu has appointed Mr. Tanimu Yakubu as the new Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, succeeding Mr Ben Akabueze, whose tenure has expired. This was contained in a statement on Thursday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale.

 

6. Ahead of the forthcoming Sallah, the Kano State Police Command has banned Durbar activities in the state. This was announced in a statement issued by Abdullahi Kiyawa, the Police Public Relations Officer of the command.

 

7. Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, says local and foreign mafia tried several times to sabotage his $19 billion refinery from coming to fruition. He also mentioned that he has repaid about $2.4 billion of the $5.5 billion borrowed to build the refinery.

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8. President Bola Tinubu will, on Friday, receive a draft bill seeking a return to a regional system of government for Nigeria.

 

9. An Ekiti State High Court in Ado Ekiti on Thursday sentenced the cleric of a church in Omuo Ekiti in the Ekiti East Local Government Area of Ekiti State, Pastor Enoch, to life imprisonment for raping a minor. The victim, said to be the daughter of one of the church members, was raped by the pastor during one of her visits to the cleric’s residence.

 

10. An Ekiti State High Court in Ado Ekiti Division on Thursday sentenced four persons to death by hanging for armed robbery, murder, and conspiracy. The court also convicted and sentenced the defendants to life imprisonment for the offense of attempted murder.

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World Bank approves $2.25bn loan for Nigeria

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The minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, Wale Edun, has announced the approval of two major “financial support packages” by the World Bank — valued at $2.25 billion.

 

According to a statement on Thursday, this is part of President Tinubu’s ongoing efforts to stabilise the economy, reposition it for sustained and inclusive growth, and provide urgent support to the poor and vulnerable.

 

The statement was signed by Mohammed Manga, the ministry’s director of information and public relations.

 

“The approved operations include $1.5 billion for the Nigeria Reforms for Economic Stabilization to Enable Transformation (RESET) Development Policy Financing Program (DPF) and $750 million for the Nigeria Accelerating Resource Mobilization Reforms (ARMOR) Program-for-Results (PforR),” the statement reads.

 

“The combined total of $2.25 billion will provide essential financial and technical support as the government continues to address economic distortions.”

 

Additionally, Manga said the support package will assist Nigeria in its long-term goal of increasing non-oil revenues and securing oil revenues to ensure fiscal sustainability and the delivery of quality public services.

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He said ‘RESET’ aims to strengthen Nigeria’s economic policy framework, create fiscal space, and protect the poor and vulnerable.

 

The statement also noted that ‘Armor PforR’ supports tax and excise reforms, improves tax revenue and customs administration, and safeguards oil revenues.

 

Commenting on the approval, Edun welcomed the support of the World Bank.

 

“We have undertaken bold and necessary reforms to restore macroeconomic stability and put Nigeria on a path to sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” he said.

 

“These reforms will create quality jobs and economic opportunities for all Nigerians.

 

“We welcome the support of the RESET and ARMOR programs as we further consolidate and implement our policy reforms, consistent with accelerating investment and using public resources more sustainably to achieve our development goals.”

 

On his part, Ousmane Diagana, the World Bank vice-president for Western and Central Africa, lauded the country’s efforts in reforming the financial sector.

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“Nigeria’s comprehensive macro-fiscal reforms are placing the country on a new path that can stabilize the economy and lift people out of poverty,” Diagana said.

 

“It is essential to maintain the momentum of these reforms and continue to provide support to the poor and vulnerable to mitigate the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.”

 

The vice-president said the financing package will strengthen the World Bank’s strong partnership with Nigeria and support efforts to rejuvenate the economy and expedite poverty reduction, serving as an example for Africa.

 

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