Customs seizes contraband worth N2.8bn in Owerri, arrests 13 suspects
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.
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.
“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.
Why I fell out with Ibori and refused to accept his candidate as my successor – Okowa
The immediate past governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, has addressed his fallout with his former boss and governor of the state, James Ibori.
Okowa and Ibori have been at loggerheads since the Delta Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in 2022.
Ibori had supported David Edevbie, a commissioner of finance in his administration, while Okowa threw his weight behind Sheriff Oborevwori, former speaker of the state house of assembly.
Oborevwori eventually won the primary and subsequently triumphed in the governorship election. He was sworn into office on Monday.
Okowa said Ibori’s insistence on backing Edevbie resulted in a disagreement between them
‘I WAS SURPRISED AND DECEIVED’
Speaking with newsmen on Sunday, Okowa opened up on why he opposed Ibori’s choice and resolved to pitch his tent with Oborevwori.
Okowa said Edevbie had tricked him into believing he would respect the Delta PDP zoning provision ahead of the governorship election in 2015.
The immediate past Delta governor said he shared his reservation about Edevbie with Ibori — but the latter was unmoved.
Okowa and Edevbie were commissioners in the Ibori administration.
“I don’t like to talk about it but obviously there’s no doubt that we didn’t work together,” Okowa said“We went into the primaries not agreeing on the same candidate, we talked about it but he(Ibori) did not want to shift ground on his candidate. That’s the truth and I did not agree with that candidate for basic reasons which I made clear enough to him and also to his own candidate.
“I did not hide it. Till tomorrow, I speak about it in truth not because I thought I was a god that needed to install somebody. David Edevbie is my friend. We were with the former governor in his tenure together as commissioners, but in 2014, when it became obvious that it was the turn of the Delta North — Delta Central and Delta South had had their turns — I heard that David was going to run and he was indicating interest.
“I went from Abuja with three of my friends to visit him in Lagos — and I said ‘David, please, it’s only fair, I know that there are so many people competing but I’m coming to you as a friend. It will not be fair if you run. Governor James Ibori has been there, Governor Uduaghan has been there, it’s obviously the turn of the Delta North; why don’t you allow us to have our space so that we can all be said to be part of the state? Thereafter, we can all work for you to become governor’.
“And at the end, he said ‘I will not run anymore, I will support you’. I thanked him and left back to Abuja.”
Okowa, who was a senator at the time, said Edevbie went against his word and was holding secret meetings with stakeholders, strategising on how to become governor.
“And then suddenly, next thing we heard was that they had endorsed David but this same David had committed himself to me,” he added.
“So we went into the race, a very tough race but God enabled me to win.”
‘EDEVBIE CAN’T ENJOY ZONING HE NEVER SUPPORTED’
Although Okowa appointed Edevbie as a commissioner in his cabinet, he said the latter still proceeded with his plans on how to become the next governor.
“In the second year, I started hearing that he was holding meetings in Lagos and other places where they were already prepping him to be governor without anybody discussing with me,” Okowa said.
The PDP vice-presidential candidate noted that although the zoning rules meant the governorship seat, in 2023, would go to Delta Central — Edevbie’s zone — he was adamant that the former commissioner would not be a beneficiary.
“In the first instance, he did not want the zoning to Delta North, so if the zoning was going to continue, he’s my friend but he shouldn’t be the one to benefit from the zoning he did not want,” Okowa said.
“I’m careful in what I do so it will be difficult for me to support someone outside Delta Central but my only mindset is that somebody who did not believe in the zoning cannot be the one to benefit from it and I made it clear to the former governor.”
Okowa said Ibori met with him a few days before the primary election to reach a compromise on a fresh candidate — but he noted that it was too little, too late.
“I told him it would be difficult to withdraw support from my candidate. I don’t do things like that,” Okowa said.
Oborevwori defeated Ovie Omo-Agege, the APC candidate and former deputy speaker of the house of representatives, to clinch the governorship seat.
Sanwo-Olu kicks off second term with optimism for better Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, officially commenced his second term in office following the completion of his swearing-in by the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba.
Sanwo-Olu was optimistic that the best days of the state and its inhabitants lie ahead.
The governor, who noted that his administration had set the stage for transformative change, as well as confronted significant challenges, said: “We never faltered. Our challenges became stepping-stones; and our trials the foundation of our resilience.
“As we continue to write the story of Lagos State, let us embrace the spirit of inclusiveness and harmonious coexistence, for it is this spirit that makes us truly ‘Eko’.
“I can boldly say that we have had four fulfilling years. We have learnt a lot, we have made some mistakes, and we have also implemented many transformational policies and programmes.
“We assure you that the progress we have made will not be reversed. We will remain steadfast in our mission to make Lagos State a model of good governance, a beacon of hope and opportunity for all. Our path is clear, and our resolve is unshakeable.
“As we venture into this second term, I want to assure you that the spirit of our endeavours remains unfaltering. We will continue to tackle our challenges head-on and celebrate our successes. We will harness the potential of our greatest resource – our people.
“We stand on the threshold of a new era. Our vision for Lagos is one that sees no bounds. It is a vision of a city where dreams take flight, where every citizen is a part of our growth story, and where the global community looks towards us with respect and admiration.”
He, therefore, pledged to continue to build a Lagos that is not only a commercial nerve centre but also a hub for innovation, culture and sustainable development.
Sanwo-Olu, who maintained that he and his team would welcome constructive criticism, noted that democracy thrives on differences of opinion and belief, therefore he would strive to respect the opinions of others even as he expects the same from them.
“We will strive to communicate effectively and carry you along every step of the way.
“Let me also say that the work ahead is not for government alone. It is not the exclusive responsibility of public servants, or the civil service. We all share the responsibility of our state’s future.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Head of Service, Akeem Muri-Okunola, said that the re-election of Sanwo-Olu was a testimony of the works done under the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda.
He noted that the governor was able to delete despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the EndSARs crisis, adding that the governor showed courage and tenacity during these periods.
He also noted that the success recorded at the polls showed that Sanwo-Olu’s efforts did not go unnoticed by the electorate. This is aside his efforts attracted international accolades.
Muri-Okunola asked that the residents of the state should commit the leadership of Lagos to prayer for more success in the next four years. At the ceremony held at the Tafawa Balewa Square were family members of the governor and his duputy, former cabinet members, serving and former permanent secretaries, party leaders and council chairmen.
Meet the 28 new, returning governors
Congratulations are in order, it would seem, as more than two dozen states inaugurated the winners of their March 18 governorship elections and April 15 reruns. Today, they took their oaths of office with expectations of them as high as ever.
But the epoch-making events did not include eight states — that is, Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ondo, and Osun — for which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will conduct off-cycle elections at various times within the next three years to determine their governors.
Making up the “Class of 2023” governors are 18 newbies and 10 returnees — despite a handful of them still in the process of defending their victories at their respective Election Petitions Tribunals.
Here is a quick look at each one of “Their Excellencies” who made history today:
Turning A New Page
Alex Otti (Abia): The Isiala-ngwa native has served as a Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc. After losing to outgoing governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP in the 2015 and 2019 elections, the 58-year-old won by a landslide this year, as the candidate of the Labour Party.
Abia State Governor Alex Otti. (Photo:
Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom): The 59-year-old founder of All Nations Christian Ministry International served as the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources. He was elected under the PDP with the full backing of outgoing governor Udom Emmanuel.
Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia (Benue): After earning a Diploma in Religious studies (1987) from St. Augustine’s Major Seminary, Jos and a BA in Sacred Theology (1990), he was ordained a Catholic Priest on July 7, 1990. The 57-year-old was elected under the APC.
Benue Governor, Fr Hyacinth Alia
Bassey Otu (Cross River): Since 2003, he has represented the Calabar Municipal/Odukpani in the House of Representatives and Cross River South. He defected from the PDP to the APC in 2016 and now assumes office as governor at the age of 63.
Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta): Oborevwori, 60, has served as a member of the Delta State House of Assembly under the PDP since 2015. He held office as the speaker in 2017 after Monday Igbuya’s impeachment and was re-elected in 2019 as the representative of Okpe State Constituency.
Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi): This two-term speaker of the Ebonyi State legislature hails from Oferekpe Agbaja in the Izzi LGA of Ebonyi State. The 48-year old takes over with the exit of outgoing governor Dave Umahi.
Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru
Peter Mbah (Enugu): The founder and CEO of Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd, he comes from Owo under the Nkanu East LGA. The maritime lawyer and financial analyst, 51, triumphed at the Enugu poll as the PDP candidate.
Enugu State Governor Peter Mbah
Umar Namadi (Jigawa): Having served as the deputy governor of Jigawa State from 2019 to date, the sexagenarian levels up to replace his principal, Mohammed Abubakar. He is the founder of Namadi, Umar & Co Chartered Accountants firm and pioneer Head of Dangote Group Management Accounts Department.
Uba Sani (Kaduna): The 52-year-old’s political background includes his service as Kaduna Central senator from 2019 till 2023. He is also a former National Vice Chairman (North) of Campaign for Democracy.
Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Uba Sani
Abba Yusuf (Kano): This civil engineering graduate of Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, Gongola State (now Adamawa) served as Kano State Commissioner of Works, Housing and Transport between 2011 and 2015. At 60, he is the first NNPP governor.
Governor of Kano State, Abba Yusuf, gives his acceptance speech in Kano following his victory in the March 18 governorship poll in the state.
Dikko Radda (Katsina): He is a former director-general of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and served as APC National Welfare Secretary soon after the party was formed in 2013. The 53-year-old succeeds Aminu Masari.
Nasir Idris (Kebbi): He held office as a national president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers and deputy president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Idris. Aged 57, he was elected in the recent elections as the APC candidate.
Umar Bago (Niger): After years of experience in the banking sector, he won a seat in the House of Representatives in 2011. The 49-year-old graduate of Federal University of Technology Minna contested for Speaker in the 9th National Assembly, emerging as the runner-up to eventual winner Femi Gbajabiamila.
Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau): The 58-year-old is a former LGA Chairman of Mangu, Plateau State. His administration sees the state’s return to the PDP after eight years under the APC’s Simon Lalong.
Siminalayi Fubara (Rivers): Until his emergence as the Rivers PDP governorship candidate in 2022, Fubara was the former accountant general of the state. The native of Opobo Town in Opobo/Nkoro LGA of Rivers State coasted to victory at the recent polls.
Ahmad Aliyu (Sokoto): This 53-year-old was the deputy governor of Sokoto State from 2015 until his resignation in 2018. He has also served as a chief accountant at the Local Government Service Commission, a commissioner and the Executive Secretary of the Police Trust Fund.
Kefas Agbu (Taraba): He is a retired army lieutenant colonel with 21 years of service. At the age of 52, Agbu has experience serving as chairman of the governing board of directors at Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and as a member of the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative (2016-2019).
Dauda Lawal (Zamfara): A banker, the 57-year-old holds a PhD in business administration from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto and was former CBN governor Lamido Sanusi’s special adviser on Islamic banking.
The Final Chapter
Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa): The 55-year-old was Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly between 2014 and 2015. The impeachment of Governor Murtala Nyako in July 2014 led to his emergence as acting governor, serving until 1 October 2014. He was elected in 2019 by a hair’s breadth, a scenario which seemed to play out again this year.
Prior to becoming governor of Bauchi State in 2019, he was minister of the FCT from 2010 to 2015, and Senator for Bauchi South from 2007 to 2010. At 64, he has held several prominent roles including as Principal Administration Officer in the Presidency from 1994 till 1995.
Babagana Zulum (Borno): After joining the University of Maiduguri in 2000, he rose to the rank of professor and acting Dean, Faculty of Engineering by 2011. He served as Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement from 2015 till 2018 and was elected as governor under the APC in 2019. He is 53 years old.
Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe): The 61-year-old served as managing director of A.Y.U Civil Engineering Company Ltd from 1993 to 1999 and was appointed as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development in 2003. Though he was the Gombe APC governorship candidate in 2015, it wasn’t until the 2019 election that he would win his first term.
AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara): As the Congress for Progressive Change candidate, he lost a string of governorship elections between 2003 and 2011. Since joining the APC, the now-63-year-old’s tenacity appears to have paid off as he takes the oath for his second and final term.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos): The inauguration of the former Lagos State Property Development Corporation boss comes on the heels of perhaps the most heated governorship race the state has ever seen. In the wake of a markedly violent, ethnically charged election, the 57-year-old is hoping to close out his tenure, while ensuring the state remains in the APC’s firm grasp.
Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa): From 1989, he worked for several companies in the US before returning to Nigeria in 2000 to co-found Sadiq Petroleum Nigeria Limited. The company won a bid to acquire African Petroleum (AP) Plc and he became the CEO of AP in 2001. Before running in 2019, he was announced as substantive Group Managing Director (GMD) of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc.
Dapo Abiodun (Ogun): Prior to his assumption of office, he founded First Power Limited and served as managing director of Heyden Petroleum as well as board chairman of the Corporate Affairs Commission. He is 62 years old.
Seyi Makinde (Oyo): In 1997, he established Makon Engineering and Technical Services (METS) at the age of 29, after having earned years of work experience at international oil and gas companies. His victory in 2019 under the PDP came after his 2015 loss as the SDP candidate. He is now aged 55.
Mai Mala Buni (Yobe): After completing his secondary education, he ventured into business at a young age and returned to school years later, receiving his Diploma from the College of Vocational Science and Technology in 2012. Two years later, the entrepreneur turned politician became the first elected APC National Secretary. At 55 years of age, he has also served as Caretaker Chairman of the party (2020-2022).
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