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Again, Fuel Hike Talks Collapse As Labour Stages a Walkout

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The meeting between the Federal Government and the organised labour on the hikes in fuel pump price and the electricity tariff on Sunday ended in confusion as the labour leaders walked out of the parley in anger.

The dialogue which was meant to take updates on the implementation of resolutions reached during the three previous meetings ended abruptly barely 10 minutes after it commenced at the Presidential Villa banquet hall, Abuja.

The meeting had started at 8.18pm when the Trade Union Congress President, Quadri Olaleye, raised the issue of the latest hike in fuel pump price from N160 to N170.

He insisted on the reversal of the hike before the meeting can proceed.

Olaleye said, “Government is showing a high level of insincerity in discussions with us and is also putting us at risk with the people we are leading, with the masses. We find it difficult to move freely but the people in government are moving freely.

“I came to the conclusion that the major problem we have in this country is insincerity and this cannot continue.

“So, I want to put it to the government that if today’s meeting does not look promising to solve those problems, honestly, we would mobilise to walk out of the meeting. The situation is getting tense and you are putting us at risk.”

Speaking in a similar being, the Deputy President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, also said the union had been under attacks over the slow pace of implementation of resolutions reached at the meetings with the government.

But the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, assured that the issue would be discussed during the business session and asked the media to leave the hall.

However, as soon as journalists were out of the hall, Ngige reportedly said the issue of palliatives would be discussed first while the labour leaders insisted on discussing the fuel pump price hike.

Following the disagreement, the labour leaders angrily walked out of the meeting which had in attendance the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Minister of State for Petroleum, Sylva Timipre, Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo and others.

Addressing journalists outside the hall, the NLC General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, said the union leaders stormed out of the session because the government team was not willing to address the latest hike in fuel pump price which he said violated the understanding they had with the FG.

He added, “We felt we should address the issue of petroleum prices before whether there is need for palliatives or not. On that strength, we felt we could not continue with the meeting whose agenda is wrongly prioritised.”

But Ngige said nothing went wrong.

“We felt that the item of increase in petroleum, having been listed at all as an additional item, would have satisfied everybody but they on that said they were calling for a recess. It is for me to re-invite them and I would do that within 24 hours,” he said.

The Punch

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Akwa Ibom PDP Chairman, Udo Ekpenyong, Dies

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State, Udo Ekpenyong, is dead.

Mr Ekpenyong died on Monday in Uyo, an official of the Akwa Ibom government who did not want his name mentioned, told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday morning.

The official said the chairman died of COVID-19.

Late Mr Ekpenyong, before his election as the state PDP chairman last year was the commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the state. He was known to be a strong ally of Governor Udom Emmanuel.

Akwa Ibom State lost two other prominent figures recently, a former Chief of Air Staff, Nsikak Edouk who died of renal failure, and a former military governor of the state, Idongesit Nkanga who died of COVID-19.

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Lagos Police Hail Igboelerin Youths for Resisting Robbery Attack

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The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has commended youths of Igboelerin community for their bravery in resisting an arms robbery attack and recovering dangerous weapons in the bargain.

According to a statement signed by the command’s PPRO, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the criminals invaded the community at about 11:30pm on Sunday, but were dislodged by the daring youths.

“On 17th January 2021, at about 11.30pm, the youths of Igboelerin community in Lagos State resisted a robbery attack on the community when they dislodged some suspected armed robbers that wanted to rob the community.

“The suspected armed robbers came on 2 unregistered bikes with the intention of attacking their targets before they were repelled by the youths who have been involved in the community policing strategies of the command. One unregistered operational bike and one locally made pistol with a life cartridge were recovered from them.

“The Commissioner of Police Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, while commending the youths of the area, has ordered for the manhunt and arrest of the fleeing armed robbers. He encouraged Lagosians to embrace the idea of community-based policing which has paid off in many areas of the state,” the statement read.

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Policeman Prostrates, Begs After Threatening Panel Member in Ogun

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There was disquiet at the Ogun State Judicial Panel of Investigation Against Police Brutality when a policeman, Sergeant Adeleke Olalekan, allegedly threatened members of the panel.

The panel, which sat at the Magistrate Court 1, Isabo, Abeokuta, on Monday, was cross-examining the Officer in-Charge of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, CSP Gbenga Megbope.

Olalekan had accompanied his boss, Megbope, who was a respondent in a case of brutality against some people in the state.

Olalekan was, however, allegedly caught pointing at the panel members in a manner suggestive of threats.

The Chairman of the panel, Justice Solomon Olugbemi, called him out and booked him for punishment as stipulated under the commission of inquiry law.

While reading out the law against the policeman’s action, the chairman said, “Any act of disrespect, insult or threat to the commissioners or any panel members while sitting in commission or any act of disrespect, insult or threat to a commissioner or panel members at any other time or place on account of his proceedings in his capacity as a commissioner or panel member shall be deemed to be an act of contempt within the meaning of this law under Section 16 of the same law.”

Olugbemi noted that the sergeant ought to be recommended for trial at a magistrate’s court.

But Olalekan, while being questioned, prostrated and pleaded for forgiveness.

The panel pardoned him, while the chairman warned against disrespect for the panel.

The Punch

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