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AfDB approves $150 million to develop Africa’s agriculture value-chain

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Akinwunmi Adesina

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved $150 million to support ETC Group’s trade and agriculture value-chain development in Africa.

Amba Mpoke-Bigg, Head, AfDB Communication and External Relations Department made the disclosure in a statement on Saturday, in Abuja.

Mr Mpoke-Bigg said that AfDB’s board of directors had approved a $150 million facility to ETC Group Ltd., to address the company’s working capital requirements and support its food production expansion plans across 10 countries in Africa.

According to him, this will be a boost for smallholder farmers.

He said that the investment would be a trade and agri-finance package, comprising $75 million soft commodity finance facility to support the group’s pre and post-shipment working capital requirements, with a particular focus on export-oriented activities.

“It also includes a 75 million dollars agriculture value-chain programme to increase agriculture production and productivity, by providing improved agricultural inputs and agronomic advisory services to local farmers,” he said.

Mr Mpoke-Bigg said that ETC was a pan-African agriculture conglomerate with footprint expanding across Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, trading millions of tons in soft commodities.

He noted that the ultimate beneficiaries of this intervention would include smallholder farmers, a significant number being women and youth entrepreneurs across 10 African countries, whose productivity was expected to increase from the deployment of high-quality agricultural inputs.

On loan, Beth Dunford, AfDB Vice President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development said that working with an African agro-champion like ETC was critical toward achieving the bank’s developmental goal.

Ms Dunford said the goal was to support millions of smallholder farmers across the continent to contribute to increased agriculture production and food security in the process.

Also, Solomon Quaynor, Vice President, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation said that the Bank’s investment into ETC Group would go a long way in contributing to food import substitution.

Mr Quaynor said that this would be done by allowing ETC to process and package agricultural products locally while increasing the value-addition of export-oriented products.

(NAN)

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Sen. Kalu leads criminal justice bill debate at Senate plenary

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Orji Kalu

Senate Orji Uzor Kalu led debate for a bill to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 at the Senate plenary on Wednesday.

The bill subsequently scaled the second reading.

The bill is entitled, ‘Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (Amendment) Bill, 2020′.

Mr Kalu, who is the Chief Whip of the Senate, said that the bill was aimed at creating a criminal justice administration legislation that was both more effective and more humane.

“By more effective, I mean that we should respond to crime in ways that produce socially desirable results, greater safety, less fear, less suffering, greater respect for the rule of law and less injustice,” he stated.

He noted that this was the first time attempt to amend the law since it was enacted in 2015.

“The bill seeks to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015; the sections contradicting the principles of fair hearing and court jurisdiction as provided in the Constitution.

“This is to further avert some loggerheads between the administration of the Criminal Justice Act and the Constitution,” Mr Kalu said.

One of the recommendations the lawmaker named was that Section 8 (4) of the Principal Act should be amended.

Section 8 (4) of the Principal Act provides that the arraignment and trial of a suspect for a crime shall be in accordance with the provision of this Act unless otherwise stated in this Act.

“It should be amended by deleting “unless otherwise stated in this Act” by inserting “and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

“The reason is that the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, provides in section 1(1) that the Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Given the above provision of the Constitution, all authorities in Nigeria shall conform to the constitutional provision.

“Therefore, the administration of criminal justice act shall also conform with the supreme provision of the Constitution 1999 as amended,” he said.

Contributing, Gabriel Suswan said that the act has to be amended because some of its provisions had become obsolete.

“There are a lot of mistakes in the Act and people have been unjustly convicted because of the mistakes. This is because they have not been challenged up to the Supreme Court.

“We now have the singular opportunity to. as proposed here, correct those mistakes,” he said.

Mr Suswam said that most states have not domesticated the Act because it had failed to meet up with the aspirations of the state.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, thereafter referred the bill to the Senate Committee on the judiciary, human rights and legal matters to report back within four weeks.

The bill was read for the first time on June 30, 2020.

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Tiwa Savage, Lukaku, Squid Game, JAMB, others topped Nigerians’ searches in 2021: Google

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Nomenclatures such as Tiwa Savage, Romelu Lukaku, Euro 2020, Squid Game and JAMB are among top searches on Google in 2021, said the company’s West Africa spokesman Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade on Wednesday.

Mr Kola-Ogunlade in a statement said Google’s 2021 Year in Search compiles the moments, people, topics, events, and places that capture the world’s attention each year.

He said that as the pandemic entered its second year, Nigerians used the internet to search for answers and information that revealed their interest in topics related to music, movies, TV shows,  sports, food.

The Google spokesman said that celebrity personalities, pop culture and lifestyle were top searches as well as topics such as ‘Paralympics’, ‘Euro 2020’, ‘EPL’, ‘Chelsea F.C.’ and ‘Champions league’,  reflective of the country’s uncompromising love for sport.

Mr Kola-Ogunlade noted that Tiwa Savage, Destiny Etiko and Romelu Lukaku topped their respective categories, revealing Nigerians’  love for top entertainment personalities and athletes.

‘’Squid Game, the Korean TV series that enthralled the world, topped the category of trending movies and series.

“From questions like ‘How to check JAMB result 2021?’, to search terms like ‘Alcohol lyrics’,  and ‘TB Joshua’ Nigerians used Search to make sense of their world this year,’’ he said.

He said the other trending searches were Paralympics, Obi Cubana  Sound Sultan, Baba Ijesha, Sunday Igboho, Nnamdi Kanu, Alcohol lyrics among others.

Google Trends is a publicly available tool that displays relative search volume across geographies, time periods and queries that people want to know about.

(NAN)

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Visibility, breathing to worsen as dust haze engulfs North, NiMet warns

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The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted dust haze conditions to intensify over the northern region as the day progresses on Wednesday.

The updated weather alert released from NiMet on Wednesday in Abuja envisaged dust haze activities before the end of the day over the extreme North.

It said, “Horizontal visibility should further deteriorate from 0300 to 0600 local time as thick dust haze should engulf the northern cities keeping visibilities to 1000m and below.

“The cities included Maiduguri, Nguru, Potiskum, Dutse, Gombe, Yola, Bauchi, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Kaduna and Zaria.

“Presently moderate dust haze conditions are observed over some parts of the North and this has brought horizontal visibility to (500 – 3000)m. 

“A fresh dust plume has been raised at the dust source region of Faya Largeau in Chad Republic.”

According to NiMet, flight operations may be disrupted, so airline operators are expected to pick up their flight folders and adhere to regulations, especially at aerodromes in the northern parts of the country.

The agency cautioned road users to drive slowly and carefully due to poor visibility during the period.

“People with respiratory problems should take caution,” it added. 

(NAN)

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