Former Nigerian Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been named the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Okonjo-Iweala becomes the first woman to occupy the position.
Those Not Comfortable with My Peace Deals with Bandits Behind Schoolgirls’ Abduction – Matawalle
The Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, on Sunday said he had many revelations to make about the attack on Government Girls’ Secondary School, Jangebe on Friday, where over 300 students were abducted.
The governor, who stated this when 17 Emirs in the state paid him a sympathy visit over the abduction of the schoolgirls, said Nigerians would be shocked to know people behind the abduction of the girls.
Also during the visit, the Emir of Anka and Chairman of Zamfara state Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Attahiru Anka, berated President Muhammadu Buhari over the upsurge in killings and kidnappings by bandits in the country.
Recall that gunmen on Friday attacked GGSS Jangede, and abducted over 300 girls, while seven of the girls escaped while they were being taken into the bush.
The attack occurred almost two weeks after bandits abducted 27 students and 15 workers of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.
Before the attack in Kagara, bandits had struck in Kundu village, also in Niger State and abducted passengers of the state transport service bus.
Commenting on the rising insecurity in the country, the Emir of Anka blamed the Federal Government.
He said, “The Federal Government is in total control of the security operatives in the country and not the state governors, as such the President is the one who has failed to address the issue of insecurity.”
In his response, Matawalle thanked the Emirs for the solidarity visit and assured them that he would not abandon his peace accord with the bandits no matter what the people would say.
He said “As we await the arrival of the released kidnapped students of GSSS Jangebe at the Government House today, I want to inform you that there are many revelations in relation to the abduction of these students.”
“Many people will be surprised to hear those people behind the abduction of these innocent children.”
“They are not comfortable with the progress I am getting as a result of my peace initiative and they want to do all they can to sabotage my efforts”.
“I will insha Allah succeed at the end of the day and they will bury their faces in shame,” said the governor.
Meanwhile, there was confusion over the release of the schoolgirls on Sunday. While top government officials and the state governor said they had been released, an online newspaper, The Cable reported the state Commissioner for Information and Culture, Suleiman Anka, said they had not been released.
But earlier on Sunday, the governor while receiving Emirs, who visited him, said government was awaiting the arrival of “the released kidnapped students of GSSS Jangebe at the Government House today (Sunday).”
As the confusion over the release of the girls worsened on Sunday, the governor and other top government officials left the Government House where they had been awaiting the arrival of the students.
None of them told journalists, who were at the Government House, where they were going, but a top source told one of our correspondents that they went to Anka, a distance of 79 kilometres to the state capital.
Also on Sunday, a high powered Federal Government’s delegation led by the Minister of Aviation Alhaji Hadi Sirika, condoled with state government over the abduction of schoolgirls at GSSS Jangebe.
Delivering his speech on behalf of the President, Sirika said the Federal Government was deeply concerned with the abduction at the GSSS Jangebe.
He stated, “The President is deeply concerned and worried about the abduction of students in Zamfara State and other states where such incidents occurred”.
“The President is assuring all Nigerians that the issue of banditry and other forms of insecurity challenges will soon come to an end”.
The minister further explained that the abduction of the schoolgirls in Jangebe would be the last abduction in schools in the country, adding that “strict measures would be taken to avert the recurrence of such event.”
He expressed disgust over the banditry activities, assuring Nigerians that the menace would soon come to an end.
“The Federal Government has the capability to get rid of banditry and will do so without further delay”.
Matawalle thanked the Federal Government for the concern and assured the delegation that, the Jangebe students would be brought back before the delegation reached Abuja.
Matawalle however, called on the security agents to cooperate with each other in order to achieve success in the fight against banditry.
According to the governor, the problem of lack of cooperation among the security agents was responsible for their inability to get rid of banditry.
Amid the confusion over the release of the schoolgirls, the News Agency of Nigeria reported that Matawalle told the Federal Government’s delegation that the students would be released soon.
He said the state government was working with repentant bandits to facilitate the safe rescue of the schoolgirls.
“We are using the leaders of the repentant bandits to rescue the schoolgirls from the kidnappers. Very soon, we are going to witness the release of the abductees,” NAN quoted him to have said.
Matawalle added that his administration “is going to continue with peace process with bandits, considering its impact in addressing security challenges facing the state”.
He commended Buhari for sending the delegation to symphathise with the state over what he described as an “ugly act”.
Looming Price Hike: Queues Return in Petrol Stations
The queues for petrol grew worse in some parts of the country on Sunday following the shutdown of many filling stations amid heightened expectations of an increase in the pump price of the product.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, had on February 9 said Nigerians should prepare for the pain associated with the increase in crude oil price.
The international oil price, Brent crude, rose by more than 14 per cent in February as it closed at $64.42 per barrel, up from $56.42 per barrel at the start of the month.
Motorists besieged the few outlets that were open for business in Abuja, Nasarawa, Niger and Borno states, while some others that had dispensed petrol the previous day were locked on Sunday.
Two weeks ago, queues of motorists were seen in many locations after oil marketers raised concerns about petrol pricing by depot owners and how this affected petroleum products supply.
The queues resurfaced on Saturday and Sunday, as only few filling stations were dispensing petrol while others were shut.
Some attendants at some of the shut outlets told one of our correspondents that they were not selling petrol because the cost of the product would be increased from March.
Nipco and Gegu filling stations, along the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, Abuja, had long queues of motorists on Sunday, while IBWAS filling station on the same road that had earlier dispensed products was shut.
Similarly, Major Oil filling station, along Airport Road, Abuja, which had steadily dispensed products up till Saturday, did not sell petrol on Sunday.
Shema Oil, close to Next Cash ‘N’ Carry in Abuja; NNPC outlet in Zuba, Niger State, and few other filling stations in Nyanya/Mararaba in Nasarawa State had queues.
“We have not been advised of any increase in petrol price. Many filling stations are not selling petrol perhaps because they have run out of stock or they are hoarding the product in anticipation of price increase,” the National Operation Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Mike Osatuyi, said.
Osatuyi, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said he observed queues in some stations in Lagos on Sunday.
“The outcome of the meeting between the President and the governors is not yet known. There will certainly be an increase in petrol price but we don’t know when this will happen,” he added.
In Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, motorists and other users of petrol were hit by scarcity of petrol on Sunday as fuel stations were shut down.
Fuel stations located along major highways, including Kano Jos road, Shehu Laminu way and Baga road, were not dispensing petrol, while motorists queued for hours at the filling stations that were selling the product.
Many commuters were stranded at bus stops in Maiduguri as motorists struggled at filling stations to get petrol.
“They said there is no fuel but they sell to black marketers; they have refused to sell to us. I have been here since 6:45am because my experience yesterday (Saturday) was horrible as I couldn’t get fuel. I’ve been here for over four hours and I have not got the product,” a tricycle operator, Abubakar Shettima, told one of our correspondents.
When contacted, the Chairman, IPMAN, Borno, Mohammed Ngala, denied that independent marketers were hoarding petrol, adding that Borno had been experiencing a shortage in recent days.
“Right now, we sell petrol at N165-N170 per litre. But the product is not enough to serve the populace. We don’t hoard fuel,” he said.
The Coalition of Nigerian Civil Society Organisations for Petroleum and Energy Security called on the Federal Government to fully deregulate the downstream oil sector to address the concerns about petroleum products’ pricing.
The Convener of the CSOs coalition, Timothy Ademola, said they had decided to interface with the Federal Government and agencies in the oil sector on the need for deregulation.
He said, “Let the forces of demand and supply be allowed to play out in the pricing of petroleum products. This is when we can say we have full deregulation.
“We are ready to partner government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Department of Petroleum Resources and other agencies to make this work.”
The Managing Director, Realink Oil Nigeria Limited/National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, had said in an interview with one of our correspondents last week that depot owners were hoarding products due to the concern of a possible hike in petrol price.
He said petrol price would definitely rise, going by the increase in global crude oil prices.
But the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency was silent on whether there would be an increase in petrol price in March as expected by marketers.
PPPRA’s spokesperson, Kimchi Apollo, told one of our correspondents that he had not received any directive in that regard.
The PUNCH had reported last Tuesday that going by the petrol pricing template of the PPPRA, the landing cost of petrol rose to N186.33 per litre on February 16, with the pump price of the product expected to be N209.33 per litre.
Reacting to complaints by marketers that some private depots had hiked the ex-depot price of petrol and that this would definitely warrant an increase in pump price, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said it had not raised its ex-depot price yet.
Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Kennie Obateru, said the NNPC had made it clear that it was awaiting the outcome of the proposed meeting between the Federal Government and labour unions as touching the price of petrol.
“We have not increased ex-depot price. It is now left for the regulatory agencies to ensure that the approved ex-depot price is what the various depots stick to,” Obateru told one of our correspondents.
On how the meeting between the Federal Government and labour would affect petrol price, the NNPC spokesperson said, “We are also watching to see the outcome of that meeting before taking the next step.”
Efforts to the get the Department of Petroleum Resources to speak on what it was doing to address the complaints against depot owners was not successful.
The spokesperson for the agency, Paul Osu, did not answer calls to his phone and also did not reply a detailed text sent to him on the matter.
Abducted Zamfara Schoolgirls Not Yet Released – Police
By Eric Elezuo
The Zamfara State Police Command has debunked the news making the rounds that the abducted students of Government Girls Science Secondary school Jangebe, has been released.
In a statement signed by Command’s PPRO, SP Mohammed Shehu ANIPR,on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, the Command said that though the girls have not been recovered, efforts are ongoing to secure their release.
The statement also called on members of the public to contact the Command with relevant information that could help to rescue the girls if any.
The statement in details:
The attention of Zamfara State Police Command has been drawn to the news currently trending on some online media platforms that the abducted students of Government Girls Science Secondary school Jangebe in Talata Mafara LGA have been released.
From the records available to the Police Command, the abducted students have not been released. However, the Command in Collaboration with other security agencies and the state government are intensifying efforts that will lead to the safe rescue of the students.
The Command urges members of the public to discontenance the story and further appealed to any person or group with any credible information about the abducted students to contact the following senior officers of the Command on their phone numbers so that together we can successfully rescue the students.
Commander 42 PMF Gusau 08034537596
Commander 78 PMF Maradun 08035318484
Commander Puff Adder Zamfara 08023161417
Commander CTU Base 18 Gusau 08037502638
O/C Intelligence, Gusau 08036525452
PPRO Zamfara 08091914752
Members of the Press are enjoined to verify any information that comes their way before going to the public.