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Report Says Nigerians Paid N7bn Ransom to Kidnappers in Nine Years

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Between the year 2011 and 2020, Nigerians paid at least $18.34 million (N7 billion) as ransom to kidnappers, a report on the country’s kidnap industry shows.

The report from SB Morgen (SBM) Intelligence published early this month captures the kidnap cases that occurred from June 2011 to the end of March 2020 using data collected from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, the Council for Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker, newspaper reports and SBM Intel’s own countrywide network of researchers.

It also contains the breakdown of name of victims, date, state and amount paid respectively. According to SBM, four of the top 10 states with a high number of kidnap incidents over the last decade are in the South-South geopolitical zone, with three of them being Bayelsa – 85, Delta -96 and Rivers – 120. Others states with high kidnap incidents include Kaduna – 177, Borno – 82, Kogi – 59, Edo – 55, Ondo – 54, Katsina – 52 and Taraba – 47.

“It would appear that in the south, while kidnapping may be frequent, the selection of victims is more targeted and the kidnappers see it more as a business transaction, trying hard to extract money from their criminal activities”, part of the report reads. It also notes that “victims that are unable to pay up as quickly as expected are more likely to be killed by the kidnappers”.

Maintaining that specific victims, who have political exposition were the major targets up until 2018, the report noted thus:

“The sudden uptick in fatalities per attempt coincides with the increase in attacks by bandits on villages especially in Zamfara and Katsina states, a situation which has gradually extended to Kaduna and Niger states. These bandits have also been involved in kidnapping besides attacking villagers and travellers, or doing both at the same time. As these kidnaps are less targeted at specific persons, the bandits are less deliberate in avoiding the deaths of their victims compared to earlier kidnap attempts which appeared to have specific targets in mind.

“This points to the democratisation of insecurity in the North, specifically with respect to kidnapping, which is a huge reversal from a decade and a half ago where kidnapping attempts were mostly in the Niger Delta, before slowly spreading to the South-East and across the country.

“Overall, Nigeria is becoming less safe each year. Kidnapping has increased in almost all states, but the sharpest rise have been in Kaduna, Rivers, Katsina, Zamfara and Taraba, while only Bayelsa in the entire country, saw a fall in the number of incidents compared to the period of 2011 to 2015.

“Kidnapping has become “safer” for the victims in Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Kano, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba and Yobe as these states saw fewer deaths per kidnap attempt. For all the other states, the prospect of being attached has become a more dangerous proposition”, it says.

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FirstBank Partners LSETF to Fund Low-Cost Private Schools in Lagos at Attractive Interest Rate

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced its partnership with Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in a matching fund scheme. The scheme aims to cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by ensuring lending at an attractive interest rate.

The programme will provide access to finance where participating schools can each be availed up to N5 million as well as capacity development, business and financial advisory. There will be monitoring and evaluation to ensure prompt loan repayment.

To enjoy this funding opportunity, applications will be submitted via the LSETF portal for screening while successful applicants will be passed on to FirstBank for the loan appraisal and disbursement process. The loan is meant for working capital and asset finance to enable schools resuscitate their practice, acquire needed materials, upgrade their facilities, as well as pay staff salaries in order to bounce back, especially after the lockdown.

This scheme promotes entrepreneurship in Lagos State which is in tandem with the vision of LSETF to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for Lagos residents. It has provisions for Micro Enterprises (ME) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across all the 57 LCDAs in the 20 LGAs in Lagos State.

Sanwo-Olu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State said the N5 billion Education Loan Programme was a precursor to many more human development sector-specific support programmes that would be unveiled by the LSETF on behalf of the State Government next month.

The Governor explained that the intervention was necessary, given the importance of education to building human capital. He said his administration took education as critical building 21st century economy and realising objectives set out in the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda.

The beneficiaries, Sanwo-Olu said, will have access to single-digit loan facilities to fund the provision of the amenities and services needed to aid learning.

He said: “It is thus heart-warming to have First Bank of Nigeria electing to be our exemplary partner for this intervention. With their support, players in the education sector would be getting the financial support they need to boost learning at a single-digit interest rate.

“I also commend the Board of LSETF and the management for this significant accomplishment. They have helped the Lagos State Government build an institution that has engendered public trust and elevated the hope of small businesses and young people, irrespective of challenges faced.”

According to Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “at FirstBank we recognise the indelible role played by the education sector in the growth of any economy and this underscores our partnership with Lagos State Government for continuous development of the education services in Lagos State and the nation as a whole. The commitment by the Lagos State Government – including this partnership – to enable schools is quite commendable as this will mitigate the challenges caused by the lockdown on the education sector following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“With the single-digit funding targeted at about 2,000 low-cost private schools in the State, we are delighted at this opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the development of education in Lagos State, thereby contributing our quota to further the mandate of the Lagos State Government – in partnership with LSETF – on economic growth, enhanced opportunities for employment and bridging societal gaps in education,” he concluded.

Commenting on the Eduloan programme, Mrs Bola Adesola, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) stated that “According to the NESG the Education Sector remains a growth area for job creation and a report on job creation by the NBS states that the Education Sector is one of the top 5 sectors that created over 59m jobs in 2019. This fact is buttressed by the data collected by LSETF in previous loan programmes. The objective of the LSETF-FirstEdu loan is to create employment, improve the quality of education for our youth by providing access to affordable finance to low-cost private schools and vocational training centres.

“We are confident that this intervention fund, which is complemented by our free professional and institutional support structures, will ensure that the education ecosystem in Lagos State will witness an improvement in the overall learning outcomes for our children, while positively impacting on the Lagos local economy through wealth and job creation.,” she stated.

Only recently, FirstBank partnered with the Lagos State government, Robert & John, IBM and Curious Learning with a resolve to enable the education of 1 million Nigerian students through innovative eLearning solutions that will drive sustainable efforts towards improving education for all. As part of the partnership, the Bank donated 20,000 units of e-learning devices to the Lagos State government.

These partnerships reinforce FirstBank’s “You First” brand promise of putting not just its customers first but also the economy of its host communities.

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Uduaghan Dumps APC, Returns to PDP

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The immediate past Governor of the State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has formally defected from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Uduaghan re-joined the PDP at his Unit 1, Ward 6, at Abigborodo, his country home, and was accompanied to the venue by thousands of his supporters amid cheering solidarity songs on Monday.
“I am back to join forces with other party greats to strengthen our party, the largest party in Africa -PDP!,” the ex-governor had earlier stated on his Twitter handle.
The return to PDP is coming barely one year after he took a critical decision to join APC on 29 August, 2019, in protest of his alleged maltreatment in PDP.
Uduaghan, who was Delta State Governor for eight years in the build-up to the 2019 elections defected to the APC where he contested and lost the Delta South Senatorial seat in 2019 to incumbent Senator James Manager.
There have been insinuations that the former governor is planning a comeback to the PDP in a bid to boost his chances in 2023 as PDP now fully controlled the South-South region.
Uduaghan met with Governor Ifeanyi Okoya two weeks ago to fine-tune plans to return to PDP, his former base.
He also met with James Ibori, who was also a former governor in Delta State.
Uduaghan was the Governor of Delta State on PDP platform for eight years (2007-2015).
He had earlier served as the State’s Commissioner for Health and later Secretary to the State Government under the administration of Ibori.
The Punch

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Electoral College Appoints Rate Your Leader Founder, Joel Popoola As Member, Board of Directors

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By Eric Elezuo

The Electoral College, Nigeria, has appointed the Founder, Rate Your Leader, Mr Joel Popoola, into its board of trustees as director to oversee International Mobilisation.

Popoola’s appointment was contained in two letters addressed to the technology entrepreneur and digital democracy campaigner as well as the board members of the college and signed by its Executive Director, Mr Kunle Lawal.

The Electoral College observed that the democracy campaigner, who has made headlines in recent times with reference to his technological innovations and writeups has been a great ally of the college while expressing utmost happiness and pride to have him on the board of the College.

“We are sure the board would be proud with the impact he can bring,” Kunle Lawal noted.

While expressing the best wishes of the College, and acknowledging that Popoola’s appointment is with immediate effect, Mr Lawal added that the award winning techpreneur is ‘valued as an asset addition and most of all for his love for country (Nigeria).’

“I look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship between us all and the expansion of the college,” Lawal stressed.

Responding to his appointment, Popoola noted that the reward for hard work is more work, stressing that the appointment is not just a recognition of his efforts, but an opportunity to do a lot more for humanity.

“I see the appointment to the board of Nigerian Electoral College as not just a recognition of efforts, but an opportunity to do a lot more to raise the bars of the Nigeria’s electoral system and serve humanity for the good,” he said.

It would be recalled that Mr. Popoola was earlier in the month welcomed on board of the UK Tech Nation Founders’ Network as a full fledged member.

Among many other honours trailing his humble contributions to the digitalization of democratic process around the world,  he is an advance member of the Institute of Directors Great Britain & Northern Ireland, and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Also appointed is⁩ Hakeem Condotti, a well seasoned entrepreneur and African player in business and diplomacy. He would serve as Director: External Relations.

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