President Bola Tinubu has expressed optimism on the prospect of increased investments from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), saying his administration was ready to remove bottlenecks to attract investments.
He emphasised Nigeria’s long-term relationship with the company, which discovered the first commercial oil field at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta in 1956.
Receiving the management of Shell Group led by its Global Integrated Gas and Upstream Director, Ms. Zoe Yujnovich, the president in a statement by presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, said his administration would continue to ensure the security and viability of existing and new investments in the country.
“We have made progress since our last meeting. I will continue to support and encourage you on this path. There is no doubt that there is a significant focus on investment in and around the continent. I am spearheading Nigeria’s global march for new investments at home.
“In view of our long-term relationship that has been established over the years, we want you to do more, and we are ready to encourage you in every way possible.
“We are very focused on resolving all investment-related issues. There is no bottleneck that is too difficult for us to remove in our determined march toward making Nigeria the African haven for large-scale investment in all key sectors. We need each other,” the president told the delegation.
In her remarks on behalf of the Shell Group, Ms. Yujnovich expressed Shell’s commitment to maintain its legacy of investments in Nigeria, particularly as the company refocuses its investment to key into new and existing opportunities in the deepwater and gas sectors.
She outlined the company’s dedication to the development of the gas value chain in the country, including a substantial commitment of $1 billion over the next five to 10 years aimed at unlocking gas resources for domestic use and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) project.
Ms. Yujnovich announced an imminent $5 billion investment opportunity in the Bonga North project off the shores of Nigeria, located in the deep water.
She expressed Shell’s eagerness to proceed with this investment and outlined several prospective investments that Shell Group is eyeing in Nigeria over the short to medium term. She commended the collaboration her team has experienced with the minister of state for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri and the special sdviser to the president on energy, Olu Verheijen, while acknowledging their roles in achieving significant progress in actualising the potential of these projects as well as others.
“Mr. President, I want to be successful in my role, and I cannot be successful in my role unless I can find a way to bring more new investments to Nigeria.
“I have made commitments to our investors that we will continue to invest in gas and oil. In Nigeria, I see all the conditions to continue to make this partnership stronger. In the deep water, we have an imminent investment opportunity in Bonga North. This is $5 billion. I am really keen to make that investment as soon as possible. We want to continue and build a pipeline of new investments in Nigeria,” she said.
Nigerians now live like prisoners in their own homes. In major cities and towns, including rural communities, people’s homes are barricaded with corrugated iron sheets as burglary proofs on windows and doors.
Sometimes, the iron rods used in constructing some of the burglary proofs are even of a higher gauge than the ones used in the regular prisons across the country.
But even with such iron protectors already fixed on the windows and doors, Nigerians still feel insecure in their homes.
So, they go on to complement the burglary proofs with very high walls and gates that make it impossible for air to even penetrate into the compound freely. It also becomes practically impossible for outsiders to see or know what goes on in such compounds. They do all of those to provide security over their lives and property.
At a time when kidnapping for ransom, and sometimes for ritual purposes, has become the norm, the people are no longer treating the issue of their personal security with levity.
They are not even satisfied with the personal security gadgets already fixed in their homes, they have also gone ahead to mount gates on the streets. They also employ private security guards or community vigilantes to guard such streets or estate gates just to ward off unwanted persons from gaining access.
In some areas, they even install CCTV cameras for aerial security surveillance of the vicinity. And this practice cuts across every city, as well as in most rural communities in Nigeria.
Checks by DAILY POST revealed in the 1960’s, 70’s and up to early 80s, people built houses without burglary proofs or walls. What obtained then were low fences whose height never exceeded three feet. Added to the three-foot block fence is about two-foot wire gauze, bringing the entire height to about five feet to allow free passage into the entire compound. It also afforded people outside the rare opportunity to see the aesthetics of the building and what was happening in those compounds. There were no street gates at all in those days. But today, the story is different.
The craze to provide burglary proofs in people’s homes in Nigeria became prominent in the late 1980’s and since then, it has continued as part of building designs, first in cities and later in towns and villages.
Today, it has become a norm. In fact, it is an anathema for someone to build a house without burglary proof, be it in the city or rural community. The street gates are also novel in the sense that they also became prominent in the last couple of years.
The cause of this novel development can be traced to a cocktail of factors- chief among them being the people’s loss of confidence in the ability of the security agents to provide adequate security for their lives and property. However, such a bold step is not without some bitter pills.
Just in September, the family of Odioye was in mourning following the death of their 12-year-old son, Dominion, who died in the hospital after he was trapped in the holes of the burglar-proof door of their house.
According to reports, the incident, which happened at No. 4, Ilu Agbado in Ogun State, occurred when the deceased minor folded two curtain materials and turned them into a swing on the bars.
However, what started as a swing play, according to reports, turned ugly when the 12-year-old boy became trapped in-between the holes of the burglar-proof bars at the entrance of their apartment and became worn out while trying to free himself.
The deceased’s mother, identified as Justina, who met her son trapped between the bars, was said to have called for help, but the boy had become unconscious before he was removed from the bars. He was later confirmed “dead on arrival” by the doctor on duty at the hospital he was rushed to for treatment.
Confirming the incident in a statement, the Ogun State Police Spokesman, Omolola Odutola said: “Burglar-proof bars like that have now been outlawed.
“We want parents to avoid them. They need to ensure the safety of their children when using burglar-proof bars in their homes. They can use alternative protection. Burglar-proof doors with holes should not be used when kids are in the house.”
However, there are several other incidents where families have perished in fire incidents inside their apartment because they could not find keys to the burglary proof doors and they could not break through the security gadgets. And even when neighbours come to rescue such victims, it becomes very difficult to pull down the burglary proof doors or windows and most often, so many have died in the process of trying to break in and help them.
A cross section of Nigerians, who reacted to the desirability or otherwise of burglary proofs in homes, as well as the street gates, agreed that it is counter-productive. They argued that apart from caging Nigerians into prison-like living styles, it has also predisposed them to avoidable dangers of losing their lives in case of emergency situations.
Just recently, in the Ago area of Lagos, a pregnant woman went into labour in the middle of the night and when her husband wanted to rush her to the nearby hospital, the street gate prevented him. It was said that when he got to the street gate, the security men who were supposed to be manning the post were nowhere to be found and the gate was locked.
He made frantic efforts before he could locate the men. He was lucky that his wife did not die; but, what about those who have lost their wives or babies in similar circumstances?
Reacting to the development, a property lawyer, Marcellus Onah said the need to provide security over lives and property, which according to him has not been forthcoming from the country’s security agents, was a major contributory factor. He believes that the people should not be blamed because they were responding to the dynamics of the society.
He told DAILY POST: “The population of people that are jobless far outweighs those that are working. Do you know that in Nigeria today, one person that works has no less than 30 persons who depend on him or her?
“So, people put iron protectors on their windows and doors to prevent robbers from attacking them because very many people who are jobless have taken to crime for survival. People want safety and that is why they resort to all those safety measures.
“When robbers enter your house and you don’t have money to give to them, they will kill you. To avoid such untimely death, you find people putting different kinds of iron protectors on their windows and doors.”
He made reference to what obtains in the United States of America where one of his friends resides, saying, “My friend who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, told me that people don’t fence their houses, not to talk of putting iron protectors on their windows and doors. That is because there is proper security and people have jobs to do.
“So, they would not break into anybody’s house to steal. They could indulge in things like drug peddling and consumption, but not steal to feed because the government provides for them to be able to, at least, feed.”
Mr Onah does not believe that the development should be blamed on the security agents.
He argued that in a situation where over 70 percent of the youth population is unemployed, not even the American police could guarantee security in such an environment.
“Security agents are not the problem here; I wouldn’t say we have poor or inefficient security agents here. In a situation where 70 percent of the population is jobless and hungry, crime is inevitable and there is nothing the security agents can do to stop them.
“Even in the USA, if 70 percent of their youth population is idle due to unemployment, there is nothing their security agents can do to prevent crime. I know that in Lagos, it is estimated that one police officer mans about 4000 people.
“If the 4000 people are idle, how can one policeman control them, but if they are engaged, it will be easy for one policeman to watch over them, because the policeman will simply go and sleep.
“So, everything boils down to our government. The government should improve our economy and provide jobs for the teeming unemployed people in this country.
“I know the government cannot provide jobs for everybody, but there are policies that can be put in place to enable small and medium scale enterprises to thrive and create jobs. That enabling environment should be there so that the private sector could provide jobs because the rate of unemployment is alarming,” he submitted.
In spite of all the dangers inherent in the practice, Mr Onah believes that people will always build fences around their houses and provide burglary proof on their doors and windows.
For a retired naval officer, Uchenna Ozor, people no longer believe that God could secure them.
He argued that they believe so much that their wealth and influence could provide them the security they need, adding that it had not always been the case.
“I can say that security is good and very important, but the most important security is in Christ Jesus. Why many people opt for their own personal security which doesn’t even work most times is because they don’t have confidence in the God they serve. They believe that with money, wealth and influence, they can secure their lives.
“But, what about the common man, who doesn’t have access to acquire those gadgets? This leads to impunity in the sense that people will go to any length to make money either by hook or crook to provide personal securities. And at the end of the day, it will be to the detriment of the masses,” he told DAILY POST.
He doesn’t believe in barricading people’s homes with burglary proof because according to him, it amounted to living in bondage.
He believes that the best way of providing security is for Nigerians to go back to God and live honest lifestyles.
He said: “Everything that has advantages equally has disadvantages. The security that you put in place, which does not allow free movement in case of emergency, is like bondage. If you build skyscrapers believing that you are secured, don’t you travel on the road?
“So, what I will advise is for people to go back to God and live an honest life. If you don’t have any skeletons in your cupboard, you won’t be thinking of all those things. The first security is to secure your body and soul in Christ Jesus and every other thing will be added unto you. The physical security will manifest because the Bible says if God does not watch over the city, the watchman watches in vain.”
He agreed that a man, who puts a burglary proof in his house, does so to secure his life but at the same time, he is at risk.
To buttress this line of thought, he said: “If an armed robber invades your house, he will steal; he may not kill everybody in the house but if there is a fire outbreak and people cannot be rescued because of the burglary gadgets in place, the entire family will be wiped out.
“So, it becomes a question of which alternative is better? And in this case, the alternative of no burglary proof is less risky as far as I am concerned.”
Also baring her mind on the subject, Rev Gertrude Ike also went spiritual, when she said: “The word of the Lord says if God does not watch over a city, the watchman watches in vain.”
She attributed the development to the fact that everybody needs safety because everybody lives in fear due to the high rate of crime, resulting from high unemployment rate.
She also made reference to other countries where, according to her, “There is no burglary proof on the windows and doors. They are like that in case of emergency, but here, it is the other way round because everybody is afraid of armed robbers.”
Decrying the situation, she again went spiritual, saying, “It is not fair for us to continue putting ourselves in prison because there is no safety in that. Our leaders have failed us. In the book of Joshua chapter six verses 15 to 16, you see how God allowed the walls of Jericho to fall.
“If we rely on God, we don’t need all these. We need to come back to God who is a strong tower. He protects us because He is the only man that can secure our lives. Every security belongs to God and I want to say again that our leaders have failed us.
“When you go to other countries, you see what I am saying. If they can go back to God and ask for wisdom like Solomon did, things will change for better.”
She also absolved the police but blamed the government squarely for the ugly trend.
“Our policemen are competent but they are being neglected. They know what to do but they are handicapped. I can’t blame the police because they are well trained but the government has failed to do the necessary thing.
“The youths are jobless. In other countries, as a student, you have a job, and as soon as you are through with your studies, you also have a job, but here, the reverse is the case.
“So, until the government rises to its responsibilities, barricading our individual homes with burglary proofs and high-rising walls will not solve the problem,” she told DAILY POST.
However, for Mrs Chinyere Anokwuru, the trend is very dangerous.
She buttressed her point with a case of her friend who lost her father in a fire incident that gutted their apartment because the burglary proof didn’t allow them to escape in good time.
She narrated to DAILY POST thus: “I have a friend whose house caught fire. They had the keys to the padlock but while the fire was raging, it affected the padlock and it became so stiff that when they wanted to insert the key into the padlock, it couldn’t penetrate. They were trapped in the fire. They had to go behind to break the less strong iron protector before they escaped.
“Unfortunately, her father died in the incident. He was not strong enough to escape through the opportunity they eventually created. They sustained serious injuries during the incident.”
She also corroborated the fact that there is no burglary proof in people’s houses in countries like the US because there is security.
She said: “The trend is very dangerous but I know people resort to that because we don’t have good security in this country. If we have good security in place, then we won’t have any need for burglary proof in our homes.
“Personally, I am not very comfortable with it, even though I have it in my house. I feel so bad and I pray that nothing that will result in an emergency happens in my home, otherwise only God knows.”
Accepting that the situation as it is today is a necessary evil, she also said: “Be that as it may, we can only do away with it if we have good security in place.
“There are so many miscreants that can burgle your house when you are not around. There are no police, no cameras and all that. We need to do away with this burglary proof of a thing if our government can put adequate security measures in place.”
On the issue of security gates on the streets across major cities, she described it as a welcome development, as according to her, it prevents ‘area boys’ from taking undue advantage of free access to steal and cause trouble.
“As for the security gates on the streets, they are okay. They will ward off some criminals who loiter around the street looking for houses to burgle.
“So, I will say we need to do away with burglary proofs in the homes but leave the street gates because they are necessary,” she submitted.
No fewer than 416 unarmed citizens have been killed by accidental airstrikes of the Nigerian military within the space of 9 years in 16 communities located in the northern region of the country, findings by Daily Trust Saturday have revealed.
Although the military high command and the Nigerian Air Force had consistently maintained that there was no way collateral damage won’t occur at a time an asymmetric warfare is ongoing, stakeholders disagreed, saying many of the cases were avoidable.
The stakeholders, who spoke on different incidents, argued that collateral damage happened when there is crossfire between the troops of the military on warfront and the enemies, noting that such situations are understandable.
They also maintained that the number of casualties involved won’t be of that magnitude if the troops had carried out their intelligence and operations as expected.
Dates of incidents compiled from reported cases between 2014 and 2023 showed that many innocent children and women top the number of casualties, a development several organisations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch among others have condemned.
Further findings showed that such number of innocent souls killed in ‘error’ by military airstrikes as tracked by Daily Trust Saturday, excluded unreported cases. This because they took place in remote locations and went unreported by the media.
Specifically, on March 16, 2014, at least 10 innocent citizens lost their lives in Kayamla village of Borno State when airstrikes targeting terrorists misfired.
Almost 3 years after the Kayamla village incident, precisely on January 17, 2017, 53 internally displaced persons were struck dead by the same military airstrikes at Rann camp, also in Borno State. Some international organisation put the death figure at 115 and more than 100 injured.
Similarly, Daglun community in Borno lost 20 civilians on February 28, 2018 to the same type of airstrikes.
In Zamfara, North West region of the country, in Ajia community, located at Birnin Magaji Local Government Area of the state, no fewer than 11 persons lost their lives to the same military airstrikes on April 11, 2019.
The data also revealed that in Gajigana village and Mainok, all in Borno State, on July 2, 2019 and April 25, 2021 recorded 13 civilian casualties and 30 soldiers respectively due airstrikes from the troops of the Nigerian Air Force.
In the same vein, on September 16, 2021, nine farmers were struck dead in Buwari village in Yobe State by air troops going after terrorists in the area, while 20 fishermen at Kwatar Daban Mascara in Borno State also lost their lives on September 26, the same year.
Further checks showed that six children were among the casualties recorded at Kuragba community, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State on April 20 last year, while two casualties were recorded on July 6, the same year at Kunkunni village, Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State, due to airstrike.
At least, 60 people were also struck dead on December 17 last year at Mutunji community, Dausadau Emirate in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
In the North Central region, 18 and 40 persons were lost in Galkogo community, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, and Rukubi community, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State on January 24 and 25 respectively.
Before the latest Tundun Biri incident, it was also reported that one woman was killed in an airstrike at Kwaki village, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State in August this year, while three people were also killed on March 3 at Sabon Gida village, Fatika district Giwa of Kaduna State.
Pay compensation to victims on time, expert tells FG, military
Commenting on the different cases that happened, an intelligence and security expert, Abubakar Umar Garba, advised the federal government to hasten up payment of compensation to victims of Kaduna bombing.
Garba noted that doing so as soon as possible would, to a certain extent, assuage the suffering and grief of the relatives of the victims, describing the incident as disheartening.
“Inasmuch as the deed is already done, the federal government and the military high command should not pay lip-service to the compensation matter they talked about. They should do everything possible to ensure that it is timely, to avoid unwarranted occurrences.
“I want to also counsel them to let this type of incident be the last because if this continues, it may snowball to what all of us are not praying for,” he told Daily Trust Saturday in a telephone interview.
Learn from your errors, military cautioned
On his part, a security sector reform expert, Chukwuma Ume, cautioned the military high command not to always sweep this type of incident under the carpet.
He argued that it is imperative that the military learnt from the error by conducting a full enquiry, a post-mortem analysis and bring a certain innovation into the armed forces.
“The truth of the matter is that it is not peculiar to Nigeria. Let’s establish that. It can happen anywhere. The issue is: If it happens, is there a denial or acceptance? From what is on ground, there is an acceptance on the part of the Nigerian Army.
“It is like heaven is a deep-blue sea, to strike or not to strike. Remember the one that happened in Nasarawa. When they see people in the bush in large numbers, at times they want to be pre-emptive and they will strike, only for them to realise that they have struck the wrong people.
“The solution to incidents like that is what they were being told during training, which is to be precise in their intelligence gathering, and to triangulate it.
“Our problem here in Nigeria is that if it happens, we will talk about it for one week, two weeks, and we will sweep it under the carpet. This should be an opportunity for them to review air operations and try to fine-tune it.”
In a statement on December 6 shortly after the Kaduna incident, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office spokesperson, Seif Magango noted, “While we note that the authorities have termed the civilian deaths as accidental, we call on them to take all feasible steps in the future to ensure that civilians and civilian infrastructure are protected in consistence with Nigeria’s international law obligations.
“They must review the rules of engagement and standard operating procedures to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.
“We are particularly alarmed by reports that the strike was based on the “pattern of activities” of those at the scene, which was wrongly analysed and misinterpreted. There are serious concerns as to whether the so-called “pattern of life” strikes sufficiently comply with international law.
“We urge the Nigerian authorities to thoroughly and impartially investigate all alleged violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, including deaths and injuries from air force strikes, and hold those found responsible to account. The government should also provide victims of any unlawful strikes and their families with adequate reparations,” he said.
Mukhtar Ismail, another security expert, lamented that the Nigerian government rarely fulfills its promises.
“Is there any record that all the victims that die as a result of airstrike in the last 10 years have been compensated in line with global best practices? I don’t think so.
“In most cases, families of victims only get foodstuff and peanuts and that is all. They are mostly left to continue licking their wounds, and this is not the way to go. There must be compensation; there must be empathy. They should be made to believe that indeed, the attacks were not deliberate.
“President Tinubu should empanel a committee and revisit all previous cases of ill-fated airstrikes against innocent civilians, and they should be compensated,” he said.
Apart from calls for reparation by prominent northern groups like the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Fityanul Islam, among other notable voices, the Arewa Consultative Forum, on Thursday, demanded the removal of the General Officer Commanding One Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major-General V.U. Okoro over the accidental bombing of Tudun Biri.
In a statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Prof Tukur Muhammad, the ACF called for the removal of some army officers in Kaduna to ensure thorough investigation.
It stated, “The General Officer Commanding One Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, along with his immediate subordinate officers, should be redeployed to allow for unfettered investigation.
“As a trite principle of justice, One Division of the Nigerian Army must not, and should not be allowed to investigate itself. An independent panel of investigators is clearly indicated. Further, the results of the investigation must be made public, issues that border on national security considerations excepted.
“The defence headquarters should retract its needless statement. The Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces in particular should take steps to ensure that such incidents are avoided or contained to the barest minimum humanly possible.
“The federal government must take responsibility for full compensation to all victims of Tudun Biri. The gesture should also be extended to victims from all previous such incidents.”
Recall that Vice President Kashim Shettima, who was in Kaduna on Thursday on behalf of President Bola Tinubu, had said that the government would get to the root of the incident.
“All measures will be taken to ensure that future occurrences are averted. The government will go to the root of the issue and anyone found culpable will be punished accordingly,” he had said.
A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos on has ordered an alleged Ponzi scheme operator, Bamise Ajetunmobi, to deposit the sum of N5 billion into the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR) account, as part of his bail conditions.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke also ordered the Ponzi scheme operator to deposit his international traveling passport with the court’s DCR.
The judge made the orders while ruling on the bail application of the defendant.
The defendant alongside his company, Imagine Global Solution Limited, were charged before before the court on amended 35 counts charge of conspiracy, and obtaining the sum of N15 billion, by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Both the Ponzi scheme operator and his company were rearraigned before the court on Thursday, on the charges.
The prosecutor, Mrs. Kehinde Bode-Ayeni, an Assistant Chief State Counsel, in the AGF’s told the court, while re-arraigning the defendant told the court that the defendant committed the offences between February 2018 to December 2022, at his office complex located at plot 29a, Adebisi Ogunniyi Crescent, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
Mrs. Bode-Ayeni also told the court that among those allegedly defrauded by the defendant and the amounts he defrauded them were: Abioye Idiris, N3. 5 billion; Chikezie Nowokocha (April Breakthrough Ventures) N1. 760,740 billion; Edith Agu and her three friends, N236,500 million; and Mr. Peter Okonye and his wife, Mrs. Thelma Okonye, N1. 2 billion, and 31 others.
She told the court that the alleged offences contravened sections 8(a) and 1(1)(a) of the advance fee fraud and other fraud related offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 8 and 8 read in conjunction with section 1(3) of the same Act.
However, the defendant has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to the charges, consequently, Justice Aneke took arguments on the bail application yesterday while adjourned the ruling ot it today.
Ruling on the bail application today, Justice Aneke, after citing plethoras of legal authorities examined the submissions made both by the prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyer, held “that the prosecutor had made a credible submission that the defendant is a ‘flight risk’, as he was arrested by the interpol at Ivory Coast, but bail is his constitutional rights.”
The judge consequently ordered the defendant to deposit the sum of N5 billion to the court’s DCR’s and also to deposit his international traveling passport.
The judge thereafter, adjourned the matter till March 13 and 14, 2024, for commencement of trial.
Some of the charges against the defendant reads: “That you, Imagine Global Solutions Ltd of Plot 29(a), Adebisi Ogunniyi Crescent, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, Lagos State, Bamise Samson Ajetunmobi ‘M’, the Managing Director of Imagine Global Solutions Ltd and others (now at large), sometimes in December, 2018 and 2022, at Lagos, Lagos State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, while acting as investors, did, with the intent to defraud, obtained a total sum of N3,500,000,000.00 (Three Billion five hundred Million Naira) at different times, from Abioye Idiris on the pretext that you were going to invest the money for him and remit some percentage of the total sum to him on monthly basis as interest while the principal sum would be returned to him in full at the end of the tenure, a representation which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance fee fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
“That you, Imagine Global Solutions Ltd of Plot 29(a), Adebisi Ogunniyi Crescent, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, Lagos State, Bamise Samson Ajetunmobi ‘M’, the Managing Director of Imagine Global Solutions Ltd and others (now at large), sometimes between December 2020 and July, 2021, at Lagos, Lagos State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, while acting as investors, did, with the intent to defraud, obtained a total sum of N1,760,740,000.00(One Billion, Seven Hundred and Sixty Million, Seven hundred and Forty thousand Naira) at different times, from Chikezie Nowokocha (April Breakthrough Ventures), on the pretext that you were going to invest the money for him and remit some percentage of the total sum to him on monthly basis as interest, while the principal sum would be returned to him in full at the end of the tenure, a representation which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance fee fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
“That you, Imagine Global Solutions Ltd of Plot 29(a), Adebisi Ogunniyi Crescent, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, Lagos State, Bamise Samson Ajetunmobi ‘M’, the Managing Director of Imagine Global Solutions Ltd and others (now at large),sometimes between the period of April, to September, 2021, at Lagos, Lagos State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, while acting as investors, did, with the intent to defraud, obtained a total sum of N236, 500, 000.00 (Two Hundred and Thirty Six Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira) at different times, from Edith Agu and her three friends, on the pretext that you were going to invest the money for them and remit some percentage of the money to them as ‘interest’ monthly, while the principal sum would be returned to them in full at the end of the tenure, a representation which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance fee fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
“That you, Imagine Global Solutions Ltd of Plot 29(a), Adebisi Ogunniyi Crescent, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, Lagos State, Bamise Samson Ajetunmobi ‘M’, the Managing Director of Imagine Global Solutions Ltd and others (now at large),sometimes between December 2020 and July, 2021, at Lagos, Lagos State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, while acting as investors, did, with the intent to defraud, obtained a total sum of N1, 200, 000, 000. 00 (One Billion, Two Hundred Million Naira) at different times, from MR. Peter Okonye, his wife, Mrs. Thelma Okonye and others, on the pretext that you were going to invest the money for them and remit some percentage of the money to them as interest monthly, while the principal sum would be returned to them on maturity or end of the tenure, a representation which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance fee fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.”
A commissioner in the Ondo State government has alleged that the signature of ailing Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on some official documents were forged.
The Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Razaq Obe, made the allegation in a letter dated 7 December addressed to the deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
It came days after a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kayode Ajulo, made the same allegation while appearing on Arise Television on Monday.
“I have it on good authority as a lawyer some of the commissioners, about five of them, sent memos to the governor and the memos came back with purported approval of the governor. Going through the approval, particularly the signature, checking it with all other approvals done when the governor was well, there were disparities,” Mr Ajulo, who is from the state, said.
In his letter to the deputy governor days after Mr Ajulo made the claim on television, Mr Obe said he had conducted a forensic examination on a document passed to him purpportedly from the governor, which confirmed that the governor’s signature on it was forged.
“I write to bring to your attention a critical matter that requires immediate action. It has been confirmed that the signature of Mr. Governor on a certain document has been forged.
“The irregularities in the signature were first observed when a file from my ministry was returned through the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). This is the only file that has been returned so far out of the five files that were sent for Mr. Governor’s approval about two months ago. Upon closer inspection, I noticed significant differences between the suspicious signature and handwriting and Mr. Governor’s known signatures and handwriting in the file.
“Concerned about the gravity of the situation, I decided to seek a forensic review before disclosing my discovery. I sent the suspicious signature, handwriting samples, and copies of the old regular signatures to forensic experts, who have now confirmed that the suspicious signature and handwriting were indeed forged.
“Despite the inherent risks involved, | have chosen to fulfill the obligations of my office by reporting this alarming development to you as the highest-ranking member of the State Executive Council after Mr. Governor. | firmly believe that this is the course of action our esteemed leader, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON, would take in such a situation.
“Considering the possibility that such forgery may be widespread, this heads-up is of utmost importance to the government and people of Ondo State. I have attached a copy of the forensic report and relevant pages from the file for your reference.
“I urge you to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves and take appropriate actions to address the situation. It is crucial that we restore the integrity of our processes and ensure that such a disturbing development is swiftly punctuated,” Mr Obe wrote.
Meanwhile, the governor’s chief press secretary, Richard Olatunde, had denied the forgery of Mr Akeredolu’s signature on official documents when Mr Ajulo first made the claim on Monday.
Mr Olatunde described the claim as “utterly preposterous and ludicrous.”
He said, “If they believe there’s a disparity, they should present a legitimate document to support their claims. We are more than willing to investigate the matter and prosecute any one found culpable.”
Ondo State has been in a political crisis since Governor Akeredolu became incapacitated this year. He was on a medical vacation for three months during which his deputy exercised his powers as the deputy governor.
However, during the governor’s absence, some loyalists accused the deputy governor of disloyalty to his principal, culminating in an attempt to remove him from office following the return of Mr Akeredolu from medical treatment in Germany in October.
Last month, President Bola Tinubu summoned the officials of the state government, national and state lawmakers and party officials to a meeting in Abuja where they agreed to maintain peace and the status quo.
The latest development indicates that friction remains in the government, with the full extent of Mr Akeredolu’s ailment still unknown. The governor has over a year left to the end of his second term.
• Why governor won’t resign over health challenge – Olateju
Ondo State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Rasaq Obe, stirred fresh controversy yesterday after telling Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, that he has confirmed the forgery of the signature of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
Governor Akeredolu has been recuperating in Ibadan, Oyo State, since his return from medical vacation.
Supporters of Aiyedatiwa had earlier raised the alarm that Governor Akeredolu’s signature was being forged to siphon money from the state coffers.
Obe, in a letter to Aiyedatiwa dated December 7, 2023, said the situation required immediate action.
In the letter, Obe said, ” It has been confirmed that the signature of Mr. Governor on a certain document has been forged.
“The irregularities in the signature were first observed when a file from my ministry was returned through the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). This is the only file that has been returned so far out of the five files that were sent for Mr. Governor’s approval about two months ago.
“Upon closer inspection, I noticed significant differences between the suspicious signature and handwriting and Mr. Governor’s known signatures and handwriting in the file. Concerned about the gravity of the situation, I decided to seek a forensic review before disclosing my discovery. I sent the suspicious signature, handwriting samples, and copies of the old regular signatures to forensic experts, who have now confirmed that the suspicious signature and handwriting were indeed forged.
“Despite the inherent risks involved, I have chosen to fulfill the obligations of my office by reporting this alarming development to you as the highest-ranking member of the State Executive Council after Mr. Governor. I firmly believe that this is the course of action our esteemed leader, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON, would take in such a situation.
“Considering the possibility that such forgery may be widespread, this heads-up is of utmost importance to the government and people of Ondo State. I have attached a copy of the forensic report and relevant pages from the file for your reference.
“I urge you to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves and take appropriate actions to address the situation. It is crucial that we restore the integrity of our processes and ensure that such a disturbing development is swiftly punctuated.”
Obe confirmed to reporters that he wrote the letter but declined to give further details.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation in Ondo State, Ms Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, has explained why the governor will not resign his position
The commissioner, in an interview on Arise TV yesterday, explained that the governor was not incapacitated, and so there was no need for him to resign.
She stated that the governor still performs all his duties and that the only thing he wasn’t doing at the moment was attending social events like weddings. She explained that the governor had been attending to memos and in touch with the cabinet members.
When asked further why Akeredolu, a senior advocate of Nigeria, hasn’t considered resigning from office, the same way he, as the then President of the Nigerian Bar Association, called on the then President Umaru Yar’Adua to resign on account of his health, the commissioner insisted that the governor wasn’t incapacitated and didn’t have to resign.
She noted, “The governor is not incapacitated, I still maintain that. He would have easily done the needful. The governor still gives approvals. No issue, other than the heightened political issues.”
Speaking further on why the State Executive Council hasn’t in line with Section 189 (1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (As amended) declared the governor as incapable, she said the governor wasn’t incapacitated and the executive council had no such plan.
“Unless the governor is incapacitated, there is no reason to evaluate his health,” she added.
When asked why he had remained in Ibadan if truly he wasn’t incapacitated, the commissioner explained, “The governor is still recuperating having gone through a very bad illness. I can’t come here and lie – I know Nigerians are watching – that the governor can run and play tennis. That is not true.
“The governor is still recuperating. His psychomotor, affective and cognitive skills are still intact, but he’s not as strong as he was in the past.”
Asked about the nature of the governor’s illness, Ademola-Olateju stated, “It’s not a very good illness, I think it’s a somatic problem (related to the body, especially as distinct from the mind). He has lost some weight, and he once told us that after 40, nobody is well.”
In spite of the commissioner’s claim that the governor is not incapacitated, a civil society group, Ondo State Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (OSCOCSO) has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Ondo State House of Assembly to declare Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa as Acting Governor or face mass protest.
It also invited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate allegations of theft and funds mismanagement in the state.
The OSCOCSO said its ultimatum was due to a constitutional crisis in the state following the governor’s prolonged absence from office due to ill health.
Executive Director, Life and Peace Development Organization (LAGDO) Franklyn Oloniju, who spoke at a joint press briefing in Akure, said it was alarming that the Ondo Assembly failed to activate relevant constitutional provisions to appoint Aiyedatiwa as Acting Governor even after the peace move facilitated by President Bola Tinubu.
Oloniju said the Ondo Assembly’s inaction was a dereliction of duty and a violation of Section 190 of Nigeria’s constitution (as amended).
He stated that the Governor’s prolonged absence has created a vacuum in the leadership of the state, leaving the government rudderless and unable to effectively address the pressing issues facing the people of Ondo State.
According to him, “The failure of the House of Assembly to act promptly has exacerbated this crisis and is causing unnecessary hardship and uncertainty for the people of Ondo State.
“We call on the Ondo State House of Assembly to immediately redress this lacuna and own up to its constitutional duty by designating the Deputy Governor as Acting Governor. This is essential to restore normalcy, ensure continuity of governance, and protect the interests of the people of Ondo State.
The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has called on African leaders to create quality jobs for their teeming unemployed youths, to stem the trend of brain drain bedevilling the continent.
Adesina said in Abuja on Friday at the Second Veritas University Digital Innovations Exhibition and 12th Convocation Lecture, that Nigeria was losing its best brains to Japa syndrome.
The former Minister of Agriculture, who spoke on the convocation lecture theme: ” Africa, It’s Your Time”, tasked Nigeria to turn its huge youth demography into an asset and not a liability.
The former Minister of Agriculture who was conferred with an honorary doctorate degree by the institution, announced that Nigeria had been listed among 10 other African countries to benefit from the Bank’s $20 billion Desert-to-Power initiative.
He noted that the power project was conceived to develop 10 GW of solar power, being the largest solar zone in the world when completed.
He listed other countries to benefit from the initiative as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Eritrea, and Senegal.
He also announced AfDB’s adoption of the Veritas University as a Centre of Excellence for Computer Coding for Employment.
“What Africa lacks is not money. What Africa lacks is lack of bankable ideas. Remember, money will always follow great ideas,” he said.
“As you join the workforce, technology and Artificial Intelligence will play a big role in your lives and in your enterprises.
“I expect to see many of you provide creative solutions to many of our challenges through analytics and data aggregation. There are huge opportunities in smart and digital economies of the future.
“All this matter to me personally because I do not want to see the continued exodus of young people who risk their lives to dangerously cross land and sea to go to Europe at all cost.
“The fastest way for Nigeria to dramatically expand the wealth of its economy, create jobs and provide decent work opportunity for its youth is to implement bold, effort-oriented, industrial manufacturing actions.
“This will rapidly expand foreign exchange earnings, boost income per capita and provide quality and well-paying jobs for millions of its young people,” he added.
Adesina charged the youth, both in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, to dream again while urging Africa to make us of the largest reserves of cobalt, lithium, diamonds, cocoa, nickel, copper, platinum and uranium in the world.
According to him, those resources could boast of 65 per cent of the world’s arable land and the largest deposit of solar potentials but has not materialised into wealth for the continent.
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Hyacinth Ichoku, revealed that the institution’s undergraduate enrollment had increased from 1,200 in 2018 to over 6,000.
Also, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the institution, Most Rev. Matthew Kukah urged the graduating students to be good ambassadors of the institution.
Kukah, in a bid to give back to the institution, announced a donation of N3 million to three students who demonstrated their ideas to the gathering.
A Federal High Court sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, has granted stringent bail conditions to three persons who were arrested for UTME registration impersonation examination malpractice.
Timilehin Akinwale, Olayinka Mustapha and Peter Okereke, were arrested on February 15th, 2023 at Aina Awaw International College, Ilu Abo, which was a CBT centre for Jamb registration and examination.
They were arraigned and remanded to prison custody in May, 2023.
At the resumed hearing of the case Thursday, Justice T.O Adegoke, granted bail to the defendants to the sum of N1m each and sureties who must have a company registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission(CAC) and do business within Akure metropolis.
Justice Adegoke ruled that the sureties must show evidence of tax clearance for the past three years and must deposit the original copies of their company registration certificates with the Registrar of the Court while the sum of one million by each of the defendants must be deposited in the account to be provided by the Court Registrar.
The sureties and each of the defendants, according to the Judge must write an undertaking that the defendants would attend their trial till the conclusion of the case.
Prosecuting Counsel, M. I. Osimen, called a witness, Oyegun Gabriel, the Technical Officer, who detected the suspicious registration transactions.
Oyegun gave evidence and tendered his the JAMB registration printout in respect of the 2nd defendant.
He explained to the court how the defendants were arrested at the Aina Awwal CBT Centre, Akure, for impersonation.
Oyegun almost informed the court that the defendants gave a written statement at the office of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC), Akure Command.
Relatives of the defendants said they were afraid that the defendants might spend the Christmas and New Year in prison custody saying the bail conditions would be difficult to meet.
- Food prices tripled, traders expect further rise, fear low patronage
- Many cancel, adjust travel plans for Christmas as transport fares keep rising
Many families risk celebrating the approaching Christmas and New Year in hardship due to the hike in the prices of goods and services, and are devising life-changing ways to cut costs, findings by Saturday PUNCH have revealed.
Several families told our correspondents that life had become tougher for them as a result of the economic hardship in the country occasioned by the rising inflation of goods and services following the removal of subsidy on petrol.
As a result, many of the people who spoke to Saturday PUNCH said the Yuletide season would be low-keyed, adding that they might not make the usual trips to their hometowns as a result of the high cost of transportation and rising inflation.
According to official data, 63 per cent of Nigerians or 133 million people are currently living in multidimensional poverty.
A recent United Nations report stated that over 40 million households in the country were poor.
Nigerians from different walks of life, who spoke to our correspondents, revealed that they had resorted to borrowing, selling some of their valuables and adopting other cost-cutting measures as a result of the drastic increase in the cost of living.
Several experts have opined that if nothing is done to arrest the drift, millions of Nigerians will fall below the poverty line.
The National Bureau of Statistics in its Customer Price Index for October revealed that the headline inflation rate increased to 27.33 per cent relative to the September rate of 26.72 per cent.
This indicates that the country is facing its worst cost of living crisis in about 20 years.
Food prices soar
The prices of many staple foods like rice and beans have almost tripled, according to a survey conducted by Sunday PUNCH.
Our correspondents who visited markets across Lagos and Ogun states report that a bag of rice now sells for around N55,000 as opposed to N48,000 in October.
A frozen food seller in Mowe, Ogun State, who identified herself simply as Mrs Makinde, disclosed that the prices of frozen fish, chicken and turkey had more than doubled in the last two months.
Many traders also anticipated that the prices would rise further before the peak of the festive season.
Makinde said, “I sold a bottle of palm oil on Thursday for N1,200. As of Friday, it had increased to N1,400. Before the end of next week, it may get to N1,800, or even N2,000 because the producers may go on break.
“As for rice, I was able to buy a bag for N48,000 a few weeks ago. As of yesterday (Thursday), when I reached out to my supplier, he said it was now N55,000 for the long grain and N52,000 for the short grain.”
Another trader, Mr Opeyemi Debo, said a carton of tomato paste that was sold for around N2,500 in November was now selling for N5,500.
He said, “A bucket of powdered pepper now sells for N4,500 from N2,500. A carton of stockfish (panla) now sells for N24,000 from around N15,000, which it sold for last month.
“A bucketful measure of egusi (melon), which sold for around N4,000 last month, now goes for N5,500. A bucket of onion, which used to be N3,000, is now N7,000.
“A carton of chicken now ranges between N32,000 and N34,000 as opposed to N22,000, which it sold for in September and October.
“Turkey now sells for N55,000 for a carton as opposed to N35,000 in October.
“Chicken wings now sell for N35,000 a carton. Five litres of palm oil now sells for N5,000 from around N25,000 in October.
“A paint bucket of yellow garri is now N2,000 as opposed to N800 two months ago. A carton of gizzard is now between N38,500 and N42,000, and I can tell you that it will increase. As for rice, it may sell for N60,000 before Christmas.”
A Lagos-based trader, Mrs Ilerioluwa Bamisaye, expressed concern that the increase in the prices of foodstuffs might reduce patronage during the festive period.
According to her, as food prices soar, many families may not be able to afford to celebrate the festive season as they should.
Bamisaye said “I doubt people will come out to buy much this year because the prices of items have tripled. A pack of spaghetti we were selling between N7,000 and N8,000 is now N13,000. Rice is now food for the rich. A bag of beans is now N120,000; whereas before now, it was N70,000. Customers are always asking us for cheaper protein alternatives like shawa (herring fish) and eggs, as well as ponmo (cow hide).”
Another trader in the Ibafo Market, Ogun State, Mrs Opeyemi Jude, who sells wholesale, lamented that the Yuletide season was not reflected in her sales.
“It doesn’t even seem as if we are preparing for Christmas. Around this time last year, many people were coming to buy bags of food items. We all know what is happening now. We only appeal to the government to put the economy in shape so that people will celebrate the season with joy. It is so disturbing that the amount you buy today will be different from what you will get for tomorrow,” she said.
On her part, another trader, Opeyemi Adediran, noted that a portion of tomatoes sold before at N100 was now selling for N500, while pepper increased to N200 from N50 for a portion of five balls.
A fish seller, Mrs Titilayo Oloyode, stated that the mackerel fish (Titus), which sold for N700 last year, was now selling for N1,400 each.
“A carton of Titus fish has increased from N7,000 around April to N57,000, while Kote fish (horse mackerel) now sells for N38,500 per carton instead of N9,000 before subsidy removal. Twenty kilograms of Alaska fish sold for N4,500 before, but currently sells for N26,000,” she noted.
Speaking on the increase in the prices of food items, a foodstuffs seller in Lagos, Mrs Oluwatosin Olanrewaju, explained that a bag of potatoes, which sold for between N2,500 and N3,000 about six months ago, currently sells for N8,000.
According to her, a medium-sized tuber of yam now sells for between N1,000 and N1,500 instead of between N500 and N700 earlier in the year, noting that the increase in prices of commodities had led to a reduction in patronage.
She also stated that transportation fare from the North to Lagos had increased from N1,500 per bag to N5,000.
Olanrewajusaid, “I don’t have many people patronising me like before because of the bad economy. I should have gone to buy more goods last week, but you can see that I still have many tubers of yam, which I bought four days ago. If it was last year, they would have finished in two days. People are now opting for potato instead of yam because it is cheaper.”
Another trader, Happiness Bitrus, explained that local and foreign rice (small grain), which sold for N1,500 and N2,000 per plastic measure before, currently sells for N3,800 and N4,500, respectively.
She added that a bag of foreign rice (small and big), which sold for N33,000 and N40,000 earlier in the year, now sells for between N47,000 and N55,000, respectively.
A big bag of beans (drum variety) currently sells for between N110,000 and N115,000, while a small bag sells for N52,000. Before the removal of petrol subsidy, the item was sold between N35,000 and N40,000.
On her part, a tomato and pepper trader, Rachael Adebalogun, said, “The rising prices are not our fault because a bag of pepper before was between N10,000 and N15,000, but it is now sold for N50,000.
“A basket of tomatoes is now N15,000 but it was N8,000 before, while the small bag and the big bag sold for N15,000, but now it is between N70,000 and N80,000. A bag of onions that we bought for N20,000 and N30,000 before is currently sold for between N130,000 and N230,000. The government should pity us. Customers are complaining and they always lament when they come here.”
Families cut costs
A mother of five, Madam Uka Osondu, said her family had dumped chicken and turkey from their meals since July.
“We now eat ponmo, Shawa and Kote fish. We eat eggs sometimes but not all the time. We eat more of jollof rice and not rice and stew because we have found out that it is cheaper. This Christmas is not looking like Christmas at all. My children have been complaining but there is nothing we can do about the situation,” she said.
For a young lady based in Ogun State, Favour Aliu, the economic hardship has forced her to reduce her daily meal consumption level from thrice to once.
Lamenting the situation, she said, “When I take N10,000 to the market before, it would afford me rice, beans and some packs of spaghetti, with ingredients to cook them.
“But now, that amount can barely afford two paint buckets of rice. I now take garri in the afternoon.
“As for the aspect of cooking gas, it has compounded my woes. I will soon start using firewood if the price does not reduce because I cannot afford to buy a kilogram of gas for N1,500.
“I can’t even use an electric cooker because there is no stable electricity. My prayer is for God to help us. It has become so difficult. The government should do something to calm the rising inflation and general hardship in the country.”
A mother-of-two, Mrs Omotolani Odeyale, said her family had stopped stocking foodstuffs, adding that she now purchases items in bits whenever the need arises because of the cost of the items.
Another Ogun resident, a mother of four, Mrs Iyabo Wasiu, said, “Everything has worsened. I didn’t believe it would be this bad. Did you know that I took garri with water yesterday night when I realised that the money with me would not be enough for what I planned to do today? I had no other option.
“I use a sachet of tomatoes twice whenever I cook rice. I only cook soup on weekends to cut costs. On weekdays, I don’t even cook most times because of the cost of gas.”
A housewife, who wanted to be identified only as Mrs Sholape, said she had to borrow from money lenders to be able to augment the monthly feeding money she gets from her husband.
“Before now, my family’s monthly upkeep money was N15,000 and it was more than enough to feed me, my husband and three kids, but now it can barely feed us once every day for two weeks.
A pastor of the Celestial Church of Christ, Trinity Model Parish in Ota, Ogun State, Daniel Omonokhua, said the general increase in prices of items in the country was not favourable.
“The general increase in the prices of fuel and other commodities is not so favourable. The church most times makes use of generators because of the inadequacies of the public power supply. This is to say that, the amounts we spend on fuel and servicing the generators have doubled, so we watch the time and do not overrun the generators,” he said.
Transport fares increase
Our correspondents, who visited bus terminals in Jibowu, Yaba, Ojota, Berger and Lekki, all in Lagos State, observed that the fares to many destinations had increased by nearly 100 per cent.
A passenger at a park in Yaba, Mrs Chiwendu Osu, who was heading for Enugu, said she was shocked when told that the fare was N19,000.
“The fare was N8000 in March. I travelled in May and it was N11,000. How can I pay N19,000 now?” she queried.
The atmosphere at the Jibowu bus terminus on Thursday morning was not as bubbly as it used to be.
One of our correspondents gathered from the different operators that the fares to various destinations would change in the days leading to Christmas.
For most transport companies at Jibowu, the average fare to the East hovers between N20,000 and N28,000
At the Peace Mass Transit bus terminal, the fares to various destinations were posted on a wall.
Several passengers told Saturday PUNCH that the bus fares had nearly tripled to what it was last Christmas.
A frequent traveller, Mr George Asamota, who claimed to have travelled to Port Harcourt in March, said the fare from Lagos was around N17,000.
“Now, it will cost me nothing less than N25,000 to travel from Lagos to Port Harcourt, and this will change as the festive season draws nearer.”
A ticket vendor at the Peace bus terminal, who refused to give his name, noted that the fares would change next week, adding that travellers could pre-book tickets.
“The earliest time anyone can buy a ticket for any trip is three days ahead of the trip,” the source added.
At the God is Good Motors, reservations can only be made a day before the trip.
Saturday PUNCH observed from its website that the fare to Port Harcourt was N19,000.
The fare from Lagos to Osun was fixed at N8,000. From Lagos to Kwara, the fare was fixed at N11,000. All these, according to the management of the firm, are expected to change soon.
As a result of the hike in transport fares, many residents of urban centres told our correspondents that they would not be making any trips home for the festive season.
For instance, a Lagos resident, Mr Emeka Ifeakachi, said he would rather send money to his immediate family members in Rivers State rather than travel to Port Harcourt.
He said, “My father struggles with ill health and the last time I travelled home to see him was during the 2021 Christmas and New Year, and I spent a total of N20,000 on transportation.
“Now, I will be spending like N40,000. I don’t think that will be a smart decision to make. I would rather send them money so that they can buy medicine for my father.”
Another Lagos resident, Chibueze Ugochukwu, said his family would not travel to his hometown, Mbieri, in Imo State, due to the hike in fuel price and his difficult economic situation.
He stated, “Normally, in our culture when you are going to your town or village at the end of the year, there must be something significant about your life that you will showcase to let people realise that you are making progress and that you have achieved in the year.
“But this year, things have gone from bad to worse. Since the middle of the year, it has been hard to keep up and I can’t point to anything significant that has been added to my life, so what is the essence of going to the village for assorted meetings and church harvests? Is it to show them that I am still where I used to be?”
On his part, a data analyst who resides in Abuja, Seun Adesipe, noted that he would travel during the festive season but this would cost more.
“I will come down to Lagos by flight to meet my parents and siblings and that is only because it’s our family tradition. I have not seen them for months and the Yuletide season is usually one where we get to see and celebrate together, but to be sincere, it will be a huge financial sacrifice this time,” he stated.
An Ibadan, Oyo State-based man, Mr Emmanuel Adekunle, said he had the intention of travelling with his family to his hometown in Ondo State for the festive period, but had to change the plans due to the increase in the pump price of petrol.
He said, “I usually travel with my family for the New Year festivity every year but we can’t do that now because we all know what the petrol price is saying now. Instead, I will send money to my people at home and manage myself and my family in Ibadan.”
Another Lagos resident, Mr Ife Adeniran said, “We had plans to travel to our hometown in Osun State, but when we considered the transportation cost, we decided to cancel it.”
All plans to travel home to Anambra for the Okparas this Christmas have long been cancelled.
The Lagos-based real estate developer, Mr Chukwudi Okpara, said due to the insecurity in the eastern region and the high inflation rate, it did not make sense to travel home this Christmas season.
No Christmas clothes
Christmas wear, especially for children, is a regular feature of the festive season. However, this year, there are indications that many parents will not be buying any for their kids.
A father of four, Mr Joseph Temitayo, said he had long cancelled plans to buy clothes for his kids.
“I already explained to them that they would have to choose between food and clothes. I cannot afford to buy clothes and still buy food with this crippling inflation,” he said.
A single mother in Rivers State, Ere Alamina, said she told her two young sons that they would not be wearing new clothes this Yuletide.
“They almost drowned me with their tears, but I have to handle only the things that are important, and food is number one on that list,” she said.
Some economic experts have noted that the inflation rate in the country will continue to rise if the government continues to implement policies that are inimical to growth, adding that most of these policies so far reeled out by the Federal Government were ill-timed.
They also noted that inflation would affect the Yuletide, as many Nigerian families might not be able to celebrate as they should.
A developmental economist and tax expert, Mr Ade Dayo, said the ever-rising inflation was an effect of combined economic woes.
He stated, “Nigeria barely produces anything that can be exported. We rely wholly on imports, even for things that we can produce. The environment for small businesses and other entrepreneurs is not conducive. Many businesses have closed down as a result. There is no respite.
“When these things are added to the confusion in the forex market where $1 is over N1,000, it is obvious why the prices of goods and services will continue to rise.”
He advised the government to set up a policy implementation team that would look at, not just the textbook advantages of policies, but fashion out ways to make sure that Nigerians did not suffer because of one ill-implemented economic policy or the other.
Another economic expert and development researcher, Dr Musa Usman, said the government should declare a state of emergency on the economy.
He added that Nigerians were suffering in the face of the already battered economy left by the immediate past administration and some of the policies of the incumbent.
Usman said, “For every policy that a government makes, there is a ripple effect. This effect could be positive or negative, or a mix of both. The ability of a government to manage this effect is what makes it a thinking one.
“The Federal Government must show leadership in the way that it runs the affairs of the state. The economy cannot be this bad and we have such a bloated system. Food inflation is nearing 30 per cent. This is something that used to be in single digits in the past. When it hit 15 per cent, everyone thought it was too bad. Now, it has almost hit 30.
“In a country where the minimum wage is N30,000 and there are over 133 multi-dimensionally poor people and over 40 million poor households, how are they expected to cope with the new prices of food, transport, fees and other basics? This is a recipe for disaster. By the time it gets to the festive season, a paint bucket of rice may sell for N5,000 if the government does not pull its weight and get the country out of the doldrums.”
He also criticised the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, who he quoted to have said many investors were not ready to bring Foreign Direct Investment to Nigeria.
“If the economy is friendly and attractive, investors will flood in. We don’t want to be hearing about the problems and challenges all the time. Nigerians need to know what the government is doing to make the economy liveable for its citizens. That is the primary responsibility of the government,” he added.
A professor of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sheriffdeen Tella, urged the Federal Government to prioritise food production to reduce inflation.
He said, “Since the reports from the NBS identified the domestic factors as cost of production and food, it is apparent that food production must be a priority, while efficiency in power production with cost reduction is imperative.
“The CBN must continue to work on strengthening the exchange rate to be able to reduce the cost of imports of raw materials for industries.”
On his part, a professor of Financial Economics and Dean, School of Business and Entrepreneurship, American University of Nigeria, Leo Ukpong, enjoined the government to prioritise infrastructure development to tackle the impact of high inflation.
According to him, the current inflation is driven by several factors, of which the primary ones are shortage of fuel, and shortage of foodstuffs due to insecurity in the agricultural belt of our country.
He added that the high cost of importation which demeaned indigenous production, the depreciation of the naira, the high cost of borrowing faced by businesses, and bad economic policies had continued to worsen the country’s situation.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, today alerted banks and Nigerians to beware of counterfeit bank notes, especially higher denominations now spent in food markets and other commercial hubs in the country.
According to Apex Bank, it is an offense punishable by imprisonment for any person to falsify, make, or counterfeit any bank note or coin issued by the CBN.
CBN disclosed this in a statement signed by its Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mrs. Sidi Ali, Hakama.
CBN said, “The attention of the CBN has been drawn to the circulation of counterfeit banknotes, especially higher denominations, by some individuals for transactions in food markets and other commercial centres across major cities in the country.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 20(4) of the CBN Act (2007), as amended, states that it shall be an offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years for any person to falsify, make, or counterfeit any bank note or coin issued by the Bank which is legal tender in Nigeria.
“The CBN is in constant collaboration with relevant security and financial agencies to confiscate fake Naira banknotes, arrest and prosecute counterfeiters.
“Meanwhile, all Deposit Money Banks, Financial Houses and Bureau de Change and the general public are enjoined to be more vigilant and take all necessary precautionary measures to curtail the acceptance and distribution of counterfeit notes.
“Furthermore, the general public is encouraged to embrace alternative modes of payment, e-channels, for day-to-day transactions to mitigate the risk of spreading counterfeit banknotes.”