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FG issues 2.7 million passports in two years

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  • To open more front offices

The Federal Government of Nigeria has stated that it has issued 2.7 million passports within two years, adding that there will be no more stress associated with the application and collection of passports.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, stated this at the State House Press Briefing on Thursday 11thNovember 2021 whilst answering questions from State House correspondents on the achievements so far recorded under his ministry.

“It is important to inform you that we have witnessed growing demand for the Nigerian passport both locally and by Nigerians in diaspora. A total of 2,742,207 passports of different categories were issued between 2019 to date.

“The year-on-year increasing growth rate is however putting a lot of pressure on the current processing structure and resources and further justifies the need for a reform in the passport application and processing system in line with the current reality,” the Minister stated.

Deal of the day

Continuing, the Minister revealed that the Ministry was aware of the challenges faced by Nigerians in securing their Passports, but noted that effort is being put in place to make it a thing of the past.

“The Ministry is aware of the challenges faced by applicants for processing and reissue of passports. I want to use this unique opportunity to assure Nigerians that the current experience will soon be a thing of the past. New production and capture centres will be opened in the next few weeks to ease access by Nigerians all over the world.

“I am pleased to inform Nigerians that the Ministry has taken substantial measures to address the issue of shortages of the e-passport booklets. This year alone, the ministry approved a special deployment of over 600,000 passport booklets, the largest of its kind ever done, to cushion the effects of shortages being experienced,” the Minister stated.

On corruption, the Minister highlighted the recent sting operation carried out by the Ag. Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, DCG Isa Jere, at the Ikoyi passport office, noting that many reforms such as a new appointment management system, amongst others are taking place to reduce corruption to the barest minimum.

“You may wish to recall the recent sting operation carried out by the Acting Comptroller General of Immigration. This is in line with the initiatives we have adopted to clean up the system of bad eggs.

“To limit human interference and corruption, we are streamlining the whole passport application and production processes to increase efficiency.

“In the coming days, a new and digital appointment management system will be launched to optimize the passport application experience for Nigerians, limit physical visits to passport offices and check the inconveniences that Nigerians suffer in booking appointments for biometric data capture,” the Minister stated.

On escaped inmates from the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS, the FG assured Nigerians that fleeing inmates have nowhere to hide as those still on the run cannot fully reintegrate into the society as all their biometric data have been captured and all other critical information needed to exist as a full citizen has been digitally secured.

“I will like to inform Nigerians that we have captured the biometric information of all inmates in the facilities of NCoS working in partnership with the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

“Therefore, we have the capacity and are tracking all escapees from our facilities. In addition, we are working with and have shared the details of escapees with INTERPOL, to check the risks of cross border movements,” the minister revealed.
On reformation and rehabilitation of the inmates, the Minister revealed that there are 465 inmates running different degree programmes at the National Open University of Nigeria.

“There are various ongoing reformation and education programmes for inmates in our custodial facilities. The Service, in partnership with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), has increased the number of Study Centers to 10 across Correctional formations (Abeokuta, Anambra, Enugu, Kaduna, Keffi, Kuje, Lafia, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Umuahia).

“There are currently about 465 inmates running various Degree programmes, 85 of the inmates are running Post – Graduate Degree programs, while four are running PhD programmes within the custodial facilities.

“ A total of 560 inmates have been enrolled for WAEC/NECO Examinations, and 2,300 for Adult Literacy Classes in several Custodial Centers. Additional Borstal Training Institutions for young offenders, male and female, are to be established in each State of the Federation,” OgbeniAregbesola stated.

The Minister further stated that 174,000 jobs have been created for Nigerians through the administration of Expatriate Quotas and Business Permits.

“Between 2019 and October 2021, over 87,000 expatriate quotas were granted, 951 business permits were granted and 598 licenses were issued to public places of worship for the conduct of statutory marriages.

“ In addition, 174,000 understudy jobs have been created through the expatriate quota administration system. We recently inaugurated a Ministerial Task Force on the Monitoring of Expatriate Quota. The primary objective is to audit, monitor and enforce the conditions for the approval of expatriate quota and foreign business permit. Nigerians may wish to note that one of the conditions for the approval of Expatriate Quota is that for every expatriate position, the company must employ two Nigerians to understudy the expatriate.

Also at the event were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr. Shuaibu Belgore; Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, FFS, CG Ibrahim Liman; Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, CG Abubakar Audi; Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS, CG Haliru Nababa; Ag. Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, DCG Isa Jere; all directors from the ministry and other aides of the Minister.

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Nigeria had weeks to use expired vaccines – Minister

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Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire

Health minister, Osagie Ehanire, on Wednesday said some COVID-19 vaccines donated by western countries had a shelf life that left only weeks to administer the shots.

He said the health ministry had declined a request by some vaccine manufacturers to extend the shelf life of the doses by three months.

Two sources have told Reuters that up to one million COVID-19 vaccines are estimated to have expired in Nigeria last month without being used, one of the biggest single losses of doses that shows the difficulty African nations have getting shots in arms.

In response, Ehanire said in a statement expired vaccines had been withdrawn and would be destroyed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration. He did not give a figure.

He said if vaccines with a short shelf life arrive back-to-back or in large numbers, logistical bottlenecks occasionally arise.

“Some manufacturers offered to extend the vaccine shelf life after the fact, by 3 months, a practice that, though accepted by experts, is declined by the Federal Ministry of Health, because it is not accommodated in our standards,” he said.

The World Health Organization said in a joint statement on Nov. 29 with Africa’s disease control body (Africa CDC), the GAVI vaccine alliance and other health groups that COVID-19 vaccines donated to African countries should have a minimum of 10 weeks shelf life when they arrive in-country.

Ehanire did not say exactly how long the vaccines had when they arrived but that Nigeria had been left with “a very short time, some just weeks, to use them, after deduction of time to transport, clear, distribute and deliver to users.”

He said the issue of donations of doses with expiring shelf lives to developing countries was a matter that was under international discussion.

“Developing countries like Nigeria accept them because they close our critical vaccine supply gaps and, being free, save us scarce foreign exchange procurement cost,” he said.

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EFCC arraigns man who concealed 2,863 ATM cards in noodles

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Ishaq Abubakar
Ishaq Abubakar on his way to Dubai with 2, 863 ATM cards and four SIM cards

The Lagos Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, arraigned one Ishaq Abubakar before Justice P.O. Lifu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on an 11-count charge bordering on cybercrimes.

The suspect was arrested by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, on August 22, 2020 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on his way to Dubai with 2, 863 Automated Teller Machine, (ATM)cards and four Subscriber Identification Module( SIM)cards carefully concealed in parks of Noodles.

He was subsequently handed over to the EFCC on Thursday, September 10, 2020 by the Deputy Comptroller, Enforcement, NCS, Abudulmumuni Bako, for further investigation and prosecution.

While handing over the suspect to the EFCC, Bako, who represented the Customs Area Comptroller, A.Ma’aji, had said: “Officers of the Nigeria Customs Service at the Departure Hall of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, on August 22, 2020, intercepted the suspect with 2, 863 ATM cards, which he carefully concealed in parks of Noodles.

“The suspect, who claimed to have come from Kano to Dubai aboard the Emirate Evacuation flight, was seen with someone who was assigned to facilitate his movement through the airport checks.

“This raised the suspicion of the officers who insisted he should be physically and thoroughly checked after the scan machine had revealed he was carrying packs of noodles.”

In his response, the Executive Chairman, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who received the suspect on behalf of the Commission in his capacity as the then Zonal Commander, had assured the Service that the Commission would duly investigate the suspect and any other party that might be involved in the alleged criminal offence.

“There are a number of possibilities. There is an element of conspiracy, foreign exchange (FOREX) malpractices and money laundering,” he had said.

Bawa, who also emphasized the possibility of the suspect being a member of a network, had added that “we have observed a trend in which unsuspecting Nigerians are lured into opening accounts to be bought at a fee.

“Investigation revealed that 10 of the 2,863 ATM cards were stolen, as the owners had confirmed losing their cards, which were found in his possession.

It was further revealed that the remaining ATM cards were handed over to him by some persons in Kano for onward delivery to their contacts in Dubai for monetary benefits.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Abubakar Ishaq, on or about 22nd August, 2020 at Lagos, within the judicial division of this Honorable Court, received and retained in your possession 10 ATM cards issued in the card holders, which cards you knew were taken or retained under circumstances which constitute card theft and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 34 of cybercrimes( Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act, 2015”.

Another count reads: “That you, Abubakar Ishaq, on or about 22nd August , 2020 at Lagos, within the judicial division of this Honorable Court, received an Access bank ATM card issue to one Alamin Bashir Babuga, which you know or ought to know to have been lost and which you retained possession with intent to traffic it to a person other than the card owner and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 33(4) of Cybercrimes( Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act , 2015.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to him.

In view of his plea, the prosecution counsel, S. Sulaiman, asked that the defendants be remanded in the Correctional Service.

The defense counsel, George Ochima, told the court of a pending application for bail for the defendant.

In his ruling, Justice Lifu granted the defendant bail in the sum of N50m, with two sureties in like sum, who must swear to affidavit of means.

One of the sureties is to provide land ownership proof in Lagos, while the other must be a civil servant not below Grade Level 14.

The defendant was also ordered to surrender his travel documents to the court.

The judge ordered the defendant to be remanded in the Correctional Centre, Ikoyi pending the fulfillment of his bail conditions.

The case has been adjourned to February 18, 2022 for commencement of trial.

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Ojodu Crisis: Sanwo-Olu Shutdown School For Investigation, Condoles With Parents

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The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has ordered the closure of the Ojodu Grammar School, over the tragic incident on Tuesday.

The governor via his social media pages noted the school will remain shut down till January 2022 for further investigation.

He in the same vein condoled with the parents, management, staff, and students of the school.

Speaking on the incident, Sanwo-Olu said: “I commiserate with the parents, management, staff, and students of Ojodu Grammar school over this tragic and unfortunate death of our students, whose lives were cut short by a truck driver yesterday.

“The sad incident has left me devastated since yesterday. It is terrible to hear about the death of innocent children, especially in an avoidable circumstance such as what happened yesterday.

“As a parent, words cannot express how shattered I am about the incident. No one’s life, including those vibrant students, who were returning from where they had gone to learn for a better future, deserves to be terminated in that manner.

“My deepest sympathies go out to their parents and families. I pray that God will grant them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

“Our prayers are also with the survivors, who are receiving treatment at the hospital. We are monitoring the situation and will provide the necessary support to ensure their quick recovery.

“We have immediately ordered that the affected school be shut down till January, while investigations are ongoing. The erring driver has also been apprehended and arrested.

“May God comfort the families of our departed children and grant them eternal rest.”

 

 

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