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News & Announcements

FG Approves N25,000 Provisional Wage Increase For All Workers

The federal government has said that the N25,000 provisional wage increment announced for low-grade workers is now applicable to all levels of civil servants.

Femi Gbajabiamila, chief of staff (CoS) to President Bola Tinubu, announced the development on Sunday evening.

Speaking at the end of the four-hour meeting with the leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) at the State House, Abuja, Gbajabiamila said the government team and the labour leaders have reached some resolutions.

The meeting was called by the federal government to avert the planned nationwide indefinite strike by the labour to protest against the removal of the petrol subsidy and other issues.

“I am happy to say that after four hours, we have reached certain agreements that are for the benefit of the Nigerian worker,” Gbajabiamila said.

“Agreements on wage bills, agreements on committees on salary increments, CNG buses, on several other things, I believe, both TUC Labour and government side.

“Hopefully, we expect that labour will call a meeting of their various branches and executive tomorrow to present the agreements that have been reached, and we pray and we believe and we hope that the strike will be called off on Tuesday.

“So I want to once again, thank labour for taking time out on a good Sunday like this one when they should be with their families to come and discuss in the interest of the workers. Thank you very much.”

Before the resolutions were reached, the labour had rejected the N25,000 provisional wage increment for low-grade workers announced by the president.

In a statement issued at the end of the meeting, Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national 0rientation, said the federal government is “committed to fast-tracking the provision of compressed natural Gas (CNG) buses to ease public transportation difficulties associated with the removal of PMS subsidy”.

He added that the government would see to the provision of funds for micro and small-scale enterprises, adding that the value-added tax (VAT) on diesel will be waived for the next six months.

“The Federal Government will commence payment of N75,000 to 15 million households at N25,000 per month, for a three-month period from October-December 2023,” the statement reads.

“A sub-committee is to be constituted to work out the details of implementation of all items for consideration regarding government interventions to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.

“NLC and TUC will consider the offers by the Federal Government with a view to suspending the planned strike to allow for further consultations on the implementation of the resolutions above.”

LABOUR TO CONSULT NEC

While addressing journalists, Joe Ajaero, president of NLC, said the labour body would take all the promises by the government to its organs for consideration.

“I don’t have much to say than what the Chief of Staff has said. We’ve been meeting and we’ve looked at almost all the issues,” he said.

“All the promissory notes from the government and we’ll look at how to translate them to reality and to be workable.

“Then we’re going to take those promises to our organs, of course, you know these people here cannot just wake up and review and call off action.

“So as he said, we’re hopeful that our organs will have a look at them and give us a fresh mandate on what next to do. So it’s a simple one.”

Also, Tommy Etim Okon, acting president of TUC,  said they would confer with their respective organs for the next line of action.

“Let me on behalf of the TUC also point out the fact that we’ve had a series of conversations surrounding the issue raised and we do hope that by tomorrow we are going to get across to our organs so that we can also look at it and cross-fertilize ideas and see the way forward,” Okon said.

“I’m sure we’re coming back again tomorrow for that.”

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Army demolishes IPOB camps, shrine, recovers corpses in Imo 

In the Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State, the Nigerian Army claims to have demolished four camps that were thought to be hiding places for the Eastern Security Network and the illegal Indigenous People of Biafra. Fresh and old corpses were also discovered.

This was said in a statement released on Monday and uploaded on the verified (formerly Twitter) page of the Joint Task Force, Operation UDO KA II by Jonah Uniakhalu, the force’s spokesperson.

The statement claims that throughout the operation, the forces engaged in gunfire with members of the IPOB and ESN who fled into nearby woodlands after suffering bullet wounds.

The statement read, “Troops of Joint Task Force South-East Operation UDO KA II on Sunday, 1 October 2023 cleared 4 notorious camps of the Indigenous People of Biafra and its armed affiliates the Eastern Security Network in Ihube, Aku and Umulolo in Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State.

“During the clearance operation, troops encountered many Improvised Explosive Devices en route to the camps. However, due to superior firepower, the irredentist fled into neighbouring forests with gunshot wounds. It was discovered that the camps were being used to perpetuate atrocities such as cannibalism, occultic practices and ritual killings to instil fear into the law-abiding citizens. These were evident from many fresh and old corpses discovered while clearing the entire camps.”

The statement also revealed that the operation resulted in the demolition of Amobi Okafor, also known as Temple, a suspected terrorist whose shrine was on the force’s wanted list and where it is allegedly practiced human sacrifice.

“Also the houses of the two spiritual leaders/herbalists (Dibias) that took to their heels were destroyed. Furthermore, the shrine of the wanted terrorist Amobi Chinoso Okafor a.k.a Temple, where human sacrifices are being made was destroyed. The Joint Task Force neutralized 2 IPOB/ESN members and four of the criminals were arrested. Items recovered from the camps includes different denomination of the Biafra currencies, one new power bike, four motorcycles, and solar panels. Others are POP cement and petroleum tanker suspected to have been hijacked from hard-working Igbo owners trying to make a living”, Unuakhalu said.

The spokesperson vowed that the armed troops will not relent in riding the Eastern region of the country of terrorists, crime and criminality.

“Operation UDO KA II will continue combating crime and criminality by the extant rules and regulations guiding its operations. All law-abiding and good citizens of the South-East region are enjoined to act against these devilish terrorists by providing timely, credible and reliable information which will lead to ending the menace of insecurity occasioned by activities of the terrorist group in the region. Do not be a victim of this sacrilegious criminal desecrating Igboland”, the statement concluded.

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Diezani granted £70,000 bail in alleged £100,000 bribery trial

Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former minister of petroleum resources, appeared before the Westminster Magistrates Court in the UK on Monday about an alleged £100,000 bribe.

Michael Snow, the district judge, set Alison-Madueke’s bail at £70,000.

Alison-Madueke was also given additional conditions by Snow, such as an 11 pm to 6 am curfew, an electronic tag that she had to wear constantly, and a £70,000 surety that had to be paid before she was allowed to leave the courthouse.

She gave her name, birthdate, and address when she appeared in Westminster Magistrates Court.

She did not formally enter a plea, but her lawyer, Mark Bowen, told the court that she would enter a not-guilty plea, according to Reuters.

On October 30, she will make her next court appearance at Southwark Crown Court, which handles serious criminal cases.

In a statement published on its website, NCA said Diezani “is alleged to have benefitted from at least £100,000 in cash, chauffeur-driven cars, flights on private jets, luxury holidays for her family, and the use of multiple London properties.

“Her charges also detail financial rewards including furniture, renovation work and staff for the properties, payment of private school fees, and gifts from high-end designer shops such as Cartier jewellery and Louis Vuitton goods.”

The NCA’s international corruption unit head, Andy Kelly, said the charges are “a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation. Bribery is a pervasive form of corruption, which enables serious criminality and can have devastating consequences for developing countries.

Diezani and four other people were detained in the UK in October 2015 on suspicion of bribery and money laundering offenses.

Diezani was granted bail by a UK magistrate court, but her passport was taken when she was instructed to appear at the Charing Cross police station.

During the term of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Diezani served as the ministry’s minister of petroleum resources from 2010 to 2015.

She fled the country just before President Jonathan ceded power to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

The former minister was accused of stealing $2.5 billion from the Nigerian government while she was a minister by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

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Gabon: Residents React One Month Post Military Coup

Residents of Libreville, the Gabonese capital share their views on the situation in their post-coup country as political and economic challenges remain immense, a month after military leader Oligui Nguema overthrew Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose family has ruled the oil-rich Central African state for more than half a century.

Throughout the last month, General Oligui has held a hectic round of intense consultations with all sections of the population.

“In his speech, he emphasized the importance of water access for all Gabonese citizens. Here in the Melen district, we have the infrastructure in place, but we still lack access to water. President Oligui hasn’t taken any action or initiated contact with SEEG (Gabon Water and Energy Company) agents to address this issue. As of now, we’re still waiting, and there has been no progress,” reacted Sylviane Nyembo, financial manager.

“I simply wish for the curfew to be lifted. I haven’t observed any security issues in the city or across other provinces in Gabon. I believe it would be beneficial for businesses and facilities that operate at night,” added Yan Lekoika, an environmental law student.

The new strongman lost no time in warning that corruption would no longer be tolerated.

Immediately after seizing power, he summoned around 200 Gabonese business leaders to a meeting. Broadcast on state television, he sternly warned business leaders against over-billing and told them to commit to the development of the country.

“It’s too early to assess, so it’s better to be patient, because one month isn’t sufficient, and even two months may not be enough. Perhaps after three or six months, we’ll be able to see what’s going wrong, as opposed to our expectations. At the moment, I can’t say, but I’m observing,” defended Serge Toussaint Ondo Obounou, retired accountant. 

“As for the measures taken by the transitional president, I remain convinced that things will improve. I personally hope to receive the support I need to open my own business,” hoped Serge Moussavou Moussavou, unemployed construction graduate.

Oligui has promised to hand back the country to civilian rule with elections after a transitional period, although no timeframe has been set.

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FG approves senior staff compensation, and labor may call off the walkout

The provisional pay raise promised by President Bola Tinubu for all low-income workers for six months would affect all employees paid by the Treasury, according to the Federal Government on Sunday.

After a four-hour long emergency meeting with the leaders of Organized Labor, the President’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, stated this to reporters from State House.

To avoid the planned nationwide, indefinite strike called by organized labor, a deal was achieved.

After hearing about the decisions from their state chapters and affiliates on Monday (today), the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress were expecting to postpone their strike that was set to start on Tuesday.

The meeting was held shortly after the President declared in his Independence Day broadcast that a provisional wage raise of N25,000 for a certain type of federal employees for the following six months had been approved.

Briefing journalists on the meeting outcome, Gbajabiamila said, “There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about the issue of low-income workers only falling into the category of the provisional wage increase. And we did communicate with the President and he quickly did say and agreed that all categories of workers will be given the wage bill. There is nothing like low income, median income or high income.”  ⁣

He expressed hope that the scheduled strike by the labor unions will be called off.

“Hopefully, we expect that Labour will call a meeting of their various branches and executive tomorrow to present the agreements that have been reached, and we pray and we believe and we hope that the strike will be called off on Tuesday,’’ he noted.⁣

He expressed optimism that the labour unions would backtrack on their planned strike.

“Hopefully, we expect that Labour will call a meeting of their various branches and executive tomorrow to present the agreements that have been reached, and we pray and we believe and we hope that the strike will be called off on Tuesday,’’ he noted.⁣

It was learned that labor leaders opposed Tinubu’s proposed N25,000 wage increase for low-grade workers.

They argued that it should last until a new minimum wage is adopted and opposed the government’s suggestion that the provisional hike span a six-month term.

Unconfirmed sources at the conference also said that the unions pushed on a reassessment of the pay hike to N30,000.

The Federal Government increased the wage award as a result, to N35,000.

However, the parties agreed that the points in disagreement could only be settled when workers were at work and not while they were on strike, according to a statement from the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mallam Mohammed Idris.

The statement read, ‘’Labour unions argued for higher wage award and the Federal Government team promised to present Labour’s request to President Bola Tinubu for further consideration.

“A sub-committee (is) to be constituted to work out the details of implementation of all items for consideration regarding government interventions to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.

“The lingering matter of the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria and National Union of Road Transport Workers in Lagos State needs to be addressed urgently and Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who participated virtually, pledged to resolve the matter.

‘’NLC and TUC will consider the offers by the Federal Government with a view to suspending the planned strike to allow for further consultations on the implementation of the resolutions above.’’

He added, “The Federal Government is committed to fast-tracking the provision of Compressed Natural Gas buses to ease public transportation difficulties associated with the removal of PMS subsidy.

“The Federal Government commits to the provision of funds for micro and small-scale enterprises. VAT on diesel will be waived for the next six months.

“The Federal Government will commence payment of N75,000 to 15 million households at N25,000 per month, for a three-month period from October-December 2023.”

Speaking on behalf of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC President Joe Ajaero said the union would table the FG’s offer before its organs reach a resolution.

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DSS releases a Shiite 24 hours after arrest

Ibrahim Musa, a member of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, generally known as Shiites, was freed by the Department of State Services 24 hours after he was caught and arrested.

On his route to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, he was allegedly detained at Kano’s Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport.

Abdullahi Usman, a member of the sect, made this announcement in a statement on Thursday night.

He said, “This is announcing to the general public that Mallam Ibrahim Musa, the Editor-in-chief of Almizan newspaper who was abducted by the DSS, has been released.

“Nigeria’s secret police whisked him away at the Aminu Kano International Airport in the early hours of Wednesday, September 27, 2023, while on his way to Saudi Arabia to perform the lesser Hajj.

“The Almizan Editor was released on Thursday and his travel documents have been returned to him. He is presently fine and in a good state of health as he reunites with his family, friends and well-wishers.

“We wish to express our profound gratitude to all and sundry for their prayers and concern over his arrest and detention by the DSS. We say a big thank you to all, God bless you.”

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I’m aware of your pains, Tinubu tells Nigerians in the Nigeria@63 speech

According to President Bola Tinubu, he is aware of the suffering that Nigerians go through.

In his Sunday national broadcast, he made this claim and mentioned how hard his government is working to build a strong economic foundation for the nation.

In his statement honoring the nation’s 63rd Independence Day anniversary, Tinubu remembered that he demanded the elimination of the gasoline subsidy and other reforms during his May 29 inauguration as president.

Such measures, according to him, were required to set the country on the path to “prosperity and growth.”

“At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. Among those promises, were pledges to reshape and modernise our economy and to secure the lives, liberty, and property of the people.

“I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy,” he stated.

The President, while noting that reforms may be painful, assured that the nation is on its path to a future where “hunger, poverty, and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever-fading past.”

He continued by saying that the nation will eventually be in a situation where its bounty is “fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few.”

According to Tinubu, the Nigerian people must persevere in order to reach the positive aspects of “our future,” adding that the mass-borne burdens of today should be a thing of the past.

The President stated that his administration is making every effort within its power to implement measures that would reduce the stress on the general public.

The President stated that his administration is making every effort within its power to implement measures that would reduce the stress on the general public.

He said that his country’s direct fiscal and monetary policies were being implemented to combat inflation, promote economic growth, protect people’s lives and property, and provide more assistance to the weak and the destitute.

The President also said that a N25,000 temporary allowance for junior government employees will be approved over the course of the following six months.

In addition, he announced the creation of an infrastructure support fund, which would be used in part by state governments to provide aid to citizens affected by rising food and other prices.

The President also announced a plan to spread “cheaper, safer” compressed natural gas buses across the country. These buses will function at a fraction of the cost of current fuel, which will lower transportation costs.

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FG calls organized labor to an urgent meeting.

The Federal Government has invited labor leaders to a further discussion today, October 1, at 2 PM, in an effort to avert the impending nationwide indefinite strike planned by labor organizations.

The State House in Abuja will host the emergency gathering.

Due to the lack of organized labor representatives, the government-Labour meeting scheduled for September 29 in the State House was called off.

The meeting was scheduled to take place in the Chief of Staff’s Conference Room at the State House, according to a memo written by the Director of Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations, Emmanuel Igbinosun, on behalf of the Minister and addressed to the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress.

The statement read, “Further to my earlier correspondence on the above subject, I once again bring greetings from the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment.

“I am directed to invite the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for a meeting with the Government on the above subject scheduled as follows; Date:- Sunday, October 1st, 2023; Time:- 2 pm; Venue:- Aso Villa Conference Room of the office of the Chief of Staff to Mr President.

“Please be assured as always of the kind regards of the Hon. Minister of Labour & Employment.”

The national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress are anticipated to attend the gathering.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Honorable Simon Lalong, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Honorable Nkiruka Onyejeocha, and a number of other important government representatives are anticipated to attend the meeting on behalf of the government.

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US court allows CSU to provide Atiku access to Tinubu’s academic records

The Peoples Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar has won the case before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the court has mandated that Chicago State University provide the former vice president with access to President Tinubu’s academic record by Monday, October 2.

In a copy of the ruling that PUNCH received on Sunday, Judge Nancy Maldonado observed that CSU had not objected to Judge Jeffery Gilbert’s ruling that the academic record should be made public.

The court stated that Atiku’s interest in the desired discovery outweighs any intrusion on Tinubu’s personal interests in his educational records.

Tinubu’s objections to Gilbert’s suggested decision were rejected by Maldonado, who then embraced the recommendation in its entirety.

The memorandum opinion and order read in part, “Atiku’s application is therefore granted. In light of the pending Supreme Court of Nigeria deadline. represented to the Court as October 5, 2023, and based on CSU’s representations that it is ready to comply with the discovery requests and produce a witness, the Court sets an expedited schedule for completion of discovery. Respondent CSU is directed to produce all relevant and non-privileged documents.

“The Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of CSU’s corporate designee must be completed by 5:00 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, October 3, 2023. Given the October 5, 2023, filing deadline before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Court will not extend or modify these deadlines.”

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Atiku requests that the court overturn Tinubu’s opposition to the academic records.

Atiku Abubakar, the PDP’s nominee for president, has submitted a new application asking the US Court to reject President Bola Tinubu’s request to prevent Chicago State University from disclosing his (Tinubu’s) academic record.

According to The PUNCH, Atiku had already obtained an order from a US magistrate for CSU to provide Tinubu’s academic records to his legal team.

Last Monday, Tinubu’s alma mater was required by the magistrate, Jeffrey Gilbert, to deliver all pertinent, non-privileged documents to Atiku’s legal team within two days.

Atiku is currently contesting Tinubu’s declaration as the victor of the presidential election held on February 25.

The Nigerian Supreme Court is now hearing the case.

Tinubu’s record of entrance and acceptance at the Chicago State University, dates of attendance, as well as the degrees, accolades, and honors Tinubu received from the CSU, are among the documents requested by the PDP candidate through his attorney, Angela Liu.

However, when the magistrate’s deadline drew nearer, Tinubu’s attorneys petitioned the US high court, arguing that the magistrate’s earlier judgment needed to be reviewed by a district judge.

The US district court ultimately agreed to the request for a review and a postponement of the magistrate’s order until Monday.

Oluwole Afolabi, Tinubu’s attorney in New York, put up two arguments in his motion.

First, contrary to Atiku’s assertion, his academic credentials are not relevant to Nigerian courts since “the Nigerian election proceedings and the Nigerian courts have explicitly been unreceptive to the discovery.”

His second reason is that Atiku’s request “is unduly intrusive because it allows the applicant (Atiku) to conduct a fishing expedition into the intervenor’s private, confidential, and protected educational records.”

But Atiku, in a fresh response filed on Wednesday, in Chicago, Illinois, urged the court to overrule Tinubu’s request in its entirety.

Atiku’s counsel, Angela Liu, appealed that “If the court overrules the objections, the applicant respectfully requests that it enter an order requiring production of documents no later than October 2, 2023, and the deposition scheduled no later than October 3, to allow time for transcripts to be finalised, and the discovery obtained to be sent to Nigeria (which is six hours ahead) by October 4, so that such evidence may, in turn, be filed with the Supreme Court by October 5, which is when applicant’s Nigerian counsel intend to submit any new evidence to the Supreme Court.”

Atiku’s lawyer explained that contrary to Tinubu’s “inflated rhetoric”, he is not seeking “to conduct a fishing expedition into Tinubu’s private, confidential, and protected educational records.”

The former vice president stated that he wants to investigate the legitimacy and provenance of 12 pages of documents, including two quite different diplomas, that claim to be from Colorado State University.

According to Atiku, there are inconsistencies between the data in the CSU documents and the affidavit Tinubu provided to INEC.

“If, as the intervenor asserts, he graduated from CSU in 1979 and the CSU documents are authentic copies issued, there is no reason why he should oppose the limited discovery the applicant seeks.”

Atiku’s legal team argued that the fact that the Nigerian Electoral Act specifically allows for the submission of new evidence to the Supreme Court in exceptional circumstances demonstrates its receptivity to the evidence sought.

The former vice president clarified that is not seeking the disclosure of Tinubu’s educational documents; he is seeking to authenticate documents that are already in the public record, adding that “Judge Gilbert’s Order may only be reviewed for clear error, even if the Court determines to the objections should nonetheless be overruled in their entirety.”

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