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BIG STORY

We Raked In N9.2bn In One Day During Border Closure — Customs Boss

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The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Colonel Hameed Ali (Rtd) has declared the agency collected N9.2billion in one day as a result of the ongoing partial border closure exercise by the Federal Government.

Ali, who was answering questions from members of the joint National Assembly Committee on Finance in Abuja, said the agency maintains an average revenue collection of N5billion to N6billion on a daily basis.

The customs boss was at the National Assembly on the invitation of the National Assembly joint committee on Finance presently considering the 2020 – 2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) submitted to both chambers by President Muhammadu Buhari, last week.

He said that most cargoes that used to berth in Benin Republic and later smuggle their goods into the country are now using Nigerian ports.

He said the agency’s revenue has not dropped but rather increased as a result of the closure.

Ali said: “When we closed the border my fear was that our revenue is going to drop. To be honest our revenue kept increasing.

“There was a day in September that we collected N9.2billion in one day. It has never happened before.

“This is after the closure of the border and since then, we have maintained an average of about N4.7billion to N5.8 billion on a daily basis which is far more than we used to collect.

“What we have discovered is that most of those cargoes that used to go to Benin (Republic), shipped to Benin, continue and then discharged and smuggled into Nigeria, now that we have closed the border they are forced to bring their goods to either Apapa or Tin Can Island and we have to collect duty on them.

“If that would continue to us, it is a welcome situation. As a matter of fact, to answer your question, our revenue has not reduced. As a matter of fact, it is increasing as a result of closing the border.”

Ali also said that there has been a significant reduction in the amount of fuel supposedly consumed daily in Nigeria since the exercise began.

“About 10.2million liters of fuel has now been cut down from what we have been assuming to have been consuming. This 10.2million liters of fuel is always going to across the border.

“The issue here is that there is an incentive because there is a price differential. And that is why our people keep pushing this fuel. If you go to Ilaro today, the filling stations that are there…in Idiroko, there are over 50 tp 60 filling stations in one place and they are close to the border.

“And what we have discovered is that they bring in fuel in the afternoon and in the night they siphon it. They do that every day and this is why we keep saying we are consuming so many liters of fuel every day.”

The National Assembly has summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele and the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammed Babandede, to appear before its joint committee tomorrow by 9am tomorrow (today).

This was sequel to the fact that despite having been invited by the Committee, the CBN Governor neither sent a representative nor a letter to explain his absence.

Babandede also did not heed the Committee’s invitation on Wednesday.

BIG STORY

Pastor Arrested For Raping, Impregnating Daughter Three Times, Procures Illegal Abortion For Her

Gbemileke Ajayi

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A 44-year-old pastor of Christ Apostolic Church, Ogo-Oluwa parish, Oluwafemi Oyebola, has been arrested by the Ogun State Police Command for allegedly raping, impregnating and procuring abortion for his daughter three times.

It was gathered that the cleric had been living with his daughter since his wife, the victim’s mother, died a few years ago.

He was arrested following a complaint by his daughter at the Owode-Egbado Divisional Police Headquarters.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident in a statement on Tuesday.

He said the victim told the police that her father had been forcefully having carnal knowledge of her since 2015 when she was 19-year-old shortly after the demise of her mother.

The PPRO said, “The victim further reported that she got pregnant for her father three times after which her father took her to a nurse where those pregnancies were aborted.

“After the third abortion, the suspect did family planning for her so she would not get pregnant again.”

Oyeyemi said the victim, upon realising that her father was out to ruin her life, ran away from the house and reported to a non-governmental organisation, Advocacy for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network.

“Consequent upon which she was taken to the Owode-Egbado Police Station to complain.

“After the report, the DPO Owode-Egbado division, SP Olabisi Elebute, led her detectives to the pastor’s house where he was promptly arrested.

“During interrogation, the suspect made confessional statements that all his daughter said was nothing but the whole truth,” the police spokesman added.

The PPRO noted that the state Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson, had ordered the immediate transfer of the suspect to the anti-human trafficking and child labour unit of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department for further investigation and prosecution.

In a related development, a Senior Magistrates’ Court in Port Harcourt on Monday remanded a 26-year-old man, Kelechi Nwankwo, in a correctional facility for defiling an eight-year-old pupil at his residence at Elele, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The accused, it was learnt, was a private home tutor of the victim before he allegedly committed the crime on June 23, 2020, at his house in Elele, where he coached schoolchildren.

It was gathered that the accused allegedly inserted his finger into the girl’s private parts when he was alone with her.

The police prosecutor, Ochogwu Wilberforce, told the court that the offence was punishable under Section 218 of the Criminal Code Cap. 37 Vol. II, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria,1999.

The charge read, “That you, Kelechi Nwankwo, on June 23, 2020, at Elele Town in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, but triable in the Port Harcourt Magisterial District, did unlawfully have carnal knowledge of one (name withheld) aged 8, by inserting your finger into her vagina, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 218 of the Criminal Code Cap. 37 Vol. II, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria,1999.”

The Senior Magistrate, Lenu Baridam, declined jurisdiction in the matter and referred the case file to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for legal advice.

The magistrate, however, ordered the accused be remanded in the Nigerian Correctional Service facility and adjourned till September 9, 2020.

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BIG STORY

PHOTOS: Terminal Empty, Passengers Low As Lagos Airport Reopens

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The Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA 2) re-opened for domestic flights on Wednesday amid poor passengers turn out.

As early as 6.00 am, airport workers, airline personnel, and security officials were already at their duty posts but only a few passengers showed up at the departure hall.

The departure hall remained scanty as the few passengers filed through security and health checks.

Airline counters expecting passengers include: Max Air, which scheduled its Lagos / Abuja flight for 7.00 am with flight number VM1640; another flight for 11.20 VM 1644 and its last flight for 15.35 with flight number VM 1642.

Information obtained from the flight display terminal at MMA 2 did not give updates on whether the flights would proceed on account of poor passenger turnout.

Another carrier: Ibom Air, which scheduled its flight for 11.00 with flight number Z4300, is not sure to embark on the flight.

The staff of DANA Air, who opened counters at MMA 2, said they will not operate any flight.

A source hinted that Aero Contractors, which opened their counters also at MMA 2, will not operate any flight.

At the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) where Arik Air and Air Peace operate, passengers turnout was more encouraging as the carriers operated flight on the Lagos / Abuja route.

Amid tight security and health checks, personnel of both carriers were busy attending to passengers.

At the GAT, Air Peace opened many counters attending to passengers.

Air Peace plans three flights with schedules for 10.30 am; 2.30 pm and 5.30 pm.

 

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BIG STORY

Corruption Allegations: Police Comb Magu’s House, As Suspended EFCC Boss Spends Second Night In Custody

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Some policemen attached to the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department on Tuesday searched the home of the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.

Also on Tuesday, the Justice Ayo Salami Presidential Panel, which interrogated Magu on Monday over allegations of corruption, again quizzed the suspended EFCC boss.

The suspended EFCC boss, who was detained by the police after Monday’s interrogation, was returned to the police custody at 8:30pm on Tuesday.

But earlier at 6pm, policemen searched Magu’s house located on Abduljalil Street, Karu Site, on the outskirts of Abuja and made away with vital documents.

The policemen, who carried out the search, were said to be the same ones who arrested Magu on Monday.

A police officer, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “On Tuesday evening, a team of policemen stormed the home of Magu in Karu. That is the house where Magu used to live before he moved to Maitama after his appointment as EFCC chairman.

“The policemen made away with some items and everything will be processed as investigations continue.”

It was learnt that at 8: 30p.m. Magu was driven from the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa venue of the panel’s sitting back to the Force Criminal Investigation Bureau where he passed the night on Monday.

“Yes. Magu has returned to police custody. He left the venue of the panel’s sitting at 8:30 pm and was driven back to the same police facility where he was detained on Monday,” a source told one of our correspondents on Tuesday evening.

It was gathered that before the presidential panel resumed its sitting on Tuesday, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had suspended Magu.

It was gathered that Magu was suspended to allow the Salami panel to do its job without interference from the EFCC boss.

Magu was accosted by security agents in front of the old EFCC headquarters on Fomella Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, at noon on Monday, and taken to the Presidential Villa, where he was quizzed by the panel for six hours over 24 allegations.

It was reported on Tuesday that most of the allegations against Magu emanated from a report by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and a report of the Department of State Services, which was submitted to the Senate in 2016 and 2017.

Among others, the suspended EFCC boss was accused of living above his means, fraternising with corrupt persons and diverting recovered funds.

When the panel resumed sitting at noon on Tuesday at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja like what happened on Monday, security operatives stopped State House reporters from gaining access into the venue.

Confirming Magu’s suspension, a source told The PUNCH, “It is commonsensical that when an investigation of this nature is ongoing, you don’t allow the person being investigated to keep the keys of the office for which he is being investigated.

“This is because if he keeps the keys, there can be a kind of tampering with documents or evidence. It is not logical and it is even undemocratic to allow such to happen.”

The Presidency has yet to issue a formal statement on the issue as of the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that the Director of Operations at the anti-graft commission, Abba Mohammed, may take over the affairs of the agency pending the appointment of Magu’s replacement.

A source said, “Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohammed, who is the director of operations, is expected to take over the running of the EFCC in acting capacity pending the appointment of a replacement for Magu.”

Meanwhile, pressure groups have been reportedly positioning various candidates for the EFCC top job.

It was learnt that some people had been pushing for the appointment of a former commissioner of police who arrested some politicians during the 2019 elections in the North-West.

Meanwhile, a top government official on Tuesday said the various allegations levelled against Magu were too weighty to be ignored.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not directed to address the press, said under the regime of Buhari nobody was above scrutiny.

He said whoever occupied an elevated position such as that of the EFCC chairman must be above suspicion.

The government official said, “The panel investigating allegations against the acting EFCC chairman had been sitting for some weeks now.

“Under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, nobody is above scrutiny. I repeat nobody. The investigation is to reinforce transparency and accountability, rather than to vitiate them.”

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