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JUST IN: FG Orders VCs To Reopen Universities And Commence Lectures

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Nigeria’s federal government through the National Universities Commission (NUC), has ordered vice-chancellors to re-open schools and allow students to resume lectures.

Sam Onazi, Director, Finance, and Accounts of the NUC, gave the order in a letter signed on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed.

The letter seen on Monday was addressed to all vice-chancellors; Pro-Chancellors, and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities.

“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; Restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses”, the letter partly reads.

The development comes days after the national industrial court of Nigeria on Wednesday ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its ongoing nationwide strike.

ASUU had been on strike since February 14 to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, and a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.

Several meetings between ASUU and the Federal Government have ended in a deadlock.

Consequently, the Federal Government went to court to challenge the strike.

The government through its counsel, James Igwe, prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining ASUU from taking further steps as regards the strike, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The counsel to the Federal Government James Igwe on Wednesday prayed the court to order the striking varsity lecturers to in the interim, return to work, pending the determination of the substantive suit before the court.

He maintained that the matter was not only urgent but of great national interest as millions of students have been at home for over seven months.

“Sections 47 of the Trade Dispute Act, TDA, gives your lordship the power to direct that no worker should continue to embark on strike pending when the applications are heard and determined,”,
Igwe argued.

Igwe said there was need for the matter to be expeditiously determined to enable university students to return to school, adding that failure to call off the strike would cause irreparable damage to not only the students but also to the nation.

According to him, since the dispute between FG and lectures was already before the court for adjudication, it would be proper and in the interest of justice for the strike to be suspended.

In his ruling, Justice Hamman held that the application was meritorious and deserved to be granted by the court.

While dismissing objections ASUU raised through its lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, the court held that the strike action was detrimental to public university students that cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.

“The balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant.

“I hold that this application is meritorious and this application is granted”, Justice Hamman ruled.

The court, thereafter, issued an order, restraining ASUU, “whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action, pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed.”

ASUU had since filed 14 grounds of appeal to challenge the order.

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NNPCL, Chinese Firm Sign MoU To Develop Floating LNG Project

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and the Chinese company Wison Heavy Industry Co. Ltd have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of a floating LNG project in Nigeria.

The agreement was inked during the ongoing United Nations climate change conference (COP28) by NNPC and Wison Heavy Industry.

Olufemi Soneye, the NNPC’s chief corporate communications officer, revealed this in a statement on Wednesday.

Soneye said the floating LNG MoU was signed by Olalekan Ogunleye, executive vice president, gas, power and new energy, on behalf of NNPC and Kai Xu, managing director of Wison Heavy.

In the statement, both parties agreed to work together to chart a roadmap for the project development that will lead to an investment decision.

NNPC said the LNG project will target the international market.

Also, Soneye said a supply, installation and commissioning agreement was signed by NNPC Prime LNG Limited, an arm of NNPC Trading Limited, and SDP Services, an independent oil and gas company, for a 421 tonnes per day LNG project targeting the domestic LNG market.

The small-scale LNG (SSLNG) project agreement was signed by Lawal Sade, the managing director, NNPC Trading Limited, on behalf of NNPC Prime LNG. and Abhinav Modi, managing director of SDP Services.

He said the SSLNG project will ensure the efficient supply of LNG to the autogas and compressed natural gas (CNG) and industrial as well as commercial customers nationwide.

The LNG project, which will be located at Ajaokuta in Kogi state, is expected to be operational by December 2024.

After the signing ceremony, Ogunleye said NNPC is committed to delivering gas to industries nationwide and accelerating the company’s gas commercialisation efforts through the floating LNG project.

Ogunleye said: “We see both projects as having enormous impact all over the country because they are central to the commercialisation of Nigeria’s abundant gas resources and ensuring that our country earns the much-needed foreign revenue from its abundant gas assets.”

“It is also consistent with NNPC Management’s drive to deliver on Mr. President’s gas and power aspirations across the country.”

Speaking on the SSLNG project, Sade said it will boost the domestication of LNG utilisation by supporting the growth of auto-gas initiatives across the country.

“We are looking at a timeframe of 12 months from execution to the commissioning of the project. The project will deliver about 420 tonnes per day of LNG per day into the domestic market, which will enhance efficient delivery of gas to the auto-gas/CNG and industrial customers in line with Presidential mandate,” she said.

The partners, according to Soneye, have pledged to work with NNPC to deliver the projects within schedule and in the most cost-effective manner.

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Lagos Doctor Femi Olaleye Asks Appeal Court To Dismiss His Rape Conviction

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Femi Olaleye, managing director of Optimal Cancer Care Foundation, has approached the appeal court over the judgment convicting him of rape.

Recall that Olaleye, in October, was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping his wife’s niece.

Rahman Oshodi, the judge at the special offences and domestic violence court in Lagos, convicted Olaleye on a two-count charge of defilement of a child and sexual assault by penetration.

The judge ruled that the defendant should serve life imprisonment for count one and the same for count two.

The judge said the sentencing should run concurrently.

  • The Grounds Of Appeal

In the appeal filed on November 24 at the appellate court in Lagos, the medical doctor through Kemi Pinheiro, his lawyer, highlighted 35 grounds of appeal against the judgment of the lower court.

The appellant argued that the lower court erred in its conclusion that the alleged survivor was a child of 16 at the time of the incident, adding that the prosecution did not provide documentary evidence to support the age of the alleged survivor.

The appellant said the prosecution team should have provided the birth certificate of the alleged survivor to prove the age.

The appellant said the testimony of the alleged survivor was riddled with inconsistencies, contrary to the submission of the lower court.

He said the alleged survivor did not make a rape accusation before the police, who interviewed her when the alleged events were still very fresh in her memory.

He added that it was four months after the alleged event that she made the rape accusation.

The appellant argued that the lower court should not have relied on the evidence of Oyebimpe Akinbunmi, the medical expert from Mirabel centre, adding that the examination of the alleged survivor was carried out four months after the alleged rape incident.

“Even though the offences were alleged to have occurred between 2020 and 2021, the medical certificate issued by PW5 clearly showed that the alleged survivor was being examined in respect of a sexual assault that occurred in March, 2022,” the appellant was quoted as saying by NAN.

“In the face of this material contradiction, it was wrong of the court to have held that the evidence of PW5 corroborated that of the alleged survivor.

“Since the outcome of PW5’s examination did not indict the appellant, the finding of the court is erroneous and ought not to be sustained.”

The appellant asked the court to set aside the conviction and quash the sentencing.

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Pay Workers New Minimum Wage Before Christmas — Oshiomole To Employers

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Adams Oshiomhole, the Senator representing Edo North Senatorial District has urged the public and private sectors to pay staffers the new minimum wage of N35,000 before Christmas.

The former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress cautioned that there would be no Christmas festivities if workers were not paid the new minimum wage.

Oshiomhole, a former Governor of Edo State said this on Tuesday at the 8th Quadrennial Delegates Conference of the Non-Academics Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions in Abuja.

He said, “Now that you have N35,000, there are workers from different states. Are all the state governments implementing it? The answer is no. Why should it be no, and why are they at peace? Your members are not at peace in the States.

He added that the new minimum wage cut across all work sectors in the country.

“It should not be a selective application. The N35,000 must affect all workers. It has to go around all workers in Nigeria, whether public or private, that is the logic of nationwide strike.

“Please tell the NLC President that those are the issues that they must solve so that this December, nobody goes home without that N35,000.

“Whether such a worker is working for the federal, state, local government or the private sector, that N35,000 must be paid. If you don’t pay, there will be no Christmas for you as an employer whether public or private sector.”

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