​Zamfara 8: Defend yourselves, CAN urges Christians

ABUJA— Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, yesterday, said eight people killed in the state were not Christians.

This came as National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, yesterday, responded to a recent statement credited to the Sultan of Sokoto, who allayed fears of a plot to Islamise the nation, arguing that Nigeria was already an Islamic state and no longer a multi-religious nation as His Eminence was quoted in the said report.

Also, northern CAN has asked Christians to defend themselves whenever they came under attack, following the killing of eight Christians in Talata-Mafara in Zamfara State and a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Luka Ubangari, by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Unguwan Anjo in Kaduna State.

They were killed over false alarm— Yari

The governor, who spoke to newsmen after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, described the act as unnecessary and ‘act of the devil.’

Yari said: “From the intelligence I gathered from security agencies, there was a fight between two students of Abdu Gusau Polytechnic. One of them started shouting that the other person abused Prophet Muhammad.

“Other students came and beat the other boy, who is a Yoruba from Kogi State. Some people say he was a Muslim, other say he was a Christian. They beat the student until he collapsed and thought he was dead.

“Then security personnel requested help from one shop owner, who then took the boy to the hospital in his car. When the students heard that the boy was still alive and in the hospital, they went to the hospital. But he was rescued by the army.

“The students went back to the polytechnic and burnt down the shop of the good Samaritan. They then went back to town, and threw tyre in the man’s house and burnt it down.

“That was how everybody in the house was killed and everybody killed in the house were Muslims and not like the rumours going around in the social media that Christians are being killed in Zamfara.

“In fact, the mob wanted to go and burn churches and attack non-Muslims, but security forces stopped them. It’s my home town and that’s where I live.”

The Sultan of Sokoto had told Nigerians to forget the fears or suspicion of a grand plan to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state, pointing out that it was impossible for a multi-religious country as Nigeria to be converted into a monolithic religious state.

But the NCEF, in a statement signed by the National Chairman, Elder Solomon Asemota (SAN), yesterday, said: “It is correctly assumed that in the interest of peace and justice, the constitution in Section 10 prohibits the state from religious participation by way of recognizing one and two religions. Multi-religious country does not fit the interpretation of Section 10, rather it is its opposite. The Sultan’s interpretation, we submit, is intended to justify Islam and Christianity as state religions until Islam dominates to become de facto and de jure religion of Nigeria.

“Apart from Prof. Ben Nwabueze, most lawyers, Christians and Muslims, shy away from the proper meaning of Section 10 of our constitution. It is our hope that this issue of whether Nigeria is a secular or multi-religious state will be subjected to proper conversation in the future.

“By taking Nigeria into the OIC in 1986, Ibrahim Babangida officially turned Nigeria into an Islamic state. Simply by the act of the application for OIC membership, Babangida tampered with the secularity of the Nigerian State. That unilateral decision should be reviewed because it violates Section 10 of the Constitution.”

Why police arrested man who named his dog Buhari

Reacting to the arrest of a man who named his dog Buhari in Ogun State, Asemota said: “Police said the arrest was made to save the suspect’s life because the complainant and his group have threatened to kill him if he comes back and this may happen.

“If Nigeria is being run as a secular state, the Constitution in Sections 10, 37, and 38 guarantees right of private and family life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion that should protect Joe Chinakwe and the complainant would have been arrested but because Nigeria is an Islamic state, Joe Chinakwe has to face trial.

“One wonders if the dog had been named Gowon or Jonathan, would there have been any furore about the matter?”

Defend yourselves, CAN urges Christians

Meanwhile, northern CAN has asked Christians to defend themselves whenever they came under attack, following the killing of eight Christians in Talata-Mafara in Zamfara State and pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Luka Ubangari, by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Unguwan Anjo in Kaduna State.

Secretary to Northern CAN, Rev. Danladi Yerima, confirmed yesterday that his group had scheduled an emergency meeting for tomorrow to look at the state of the nation, especially as it affects the Church in Nigeria, with a view to finding solutions to them.

Appealing to the youth wing of the association, who are unhappy with the current developments across the nation, Rev. Yerima told the Federal Government and stakeholders in the Nigerian project to expedite action to arrest the growing trend of militancy in the North to avoid more devastating consequences.

Yerima said: “Nobody has monopoly of violence. We have been holding our youths from retaliating some of these unwarranted killing of Christians in different parts of the country. We are not happy and I think this should be the last of such incidents because let them not take for granted the peaceful manner that Christians had approached some of these developments.”

“I cannot allow myself to be killed or allow some other person to be killed because some hooligans see themselves to be more Nigerians than others.

“What happened in Zamfara is most unfortunate. I do not know when our brothers in the North would realize that life is created by God and it is sacrosanct to the effect that nobody is allowed to take the life of another person unless in accordance with a judicial pronouncement on account of an offence committed.”

As S-South CAN kick against plans to re-introduce Sharia

In another development, South South CAN has kicked against plans to re-introduce Sharia law into the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, urging the National Assembly to ensure that Nigeria remained a secular state instead of funding one religion with public funds to the detriment of other religions.

Arising from a meeting of senior clergymen in the South-South geopolitical zone, regional chairman of CAN, Archbishop Goddowell Avwomakpa, who spoke on behalf of the clergymen and other stakeholders in the Nigerian project, tasked the National Assembly members to put the nation first before their personal or group interests, stressing that Nigeria needed no Sharia law in a secular society.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​High-level talks on-going in Delta to resolve Clark, MEND, Avengers’ rift


WARRI—THERE are ongoing high-level talks to resolve the differences between the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND and Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, on the one hand, and MEND and the pan-Niger Delta group recently set up in Warri, Delta State, to speak with one voice for the region.

It was learned, yesterday, that there is a consensus among the warring militant groups and leaders to uphold the decision of the monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta coastal states, that nobody should undermine the decisions taken at the meeting convened by Chief Edwin Clark and others.

The Presidency, international community and traditional rulers from the North and other parts of the country had called Chief Clark to commend him for the initiative, which has practically reduced tension in the region.

MEND, whose intervention other stakeholders misconstrued, also got the wrong impression about the move of the Niger Delta monarchs and leaders, which it wrongly assumed to be a delegation led by Chief Clark.

Vanguard gathered that the Aaron Team 2 Dialogue, Peace and Development Initiative, the interface group of MEND, would meet shortly with Chief Clark to look at the temperamental areas and bury the hatchet.

Secretary of MEND’s Aaron Team 2, Mr Timikpa Okponipere, told Vanguard that the group headed by Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, would meet with Clark soon to iron out issues.

Contacted, Chief Clark confirmed that he was contacted by secretary of Aaron Team 2 and that they would want to visit him in Warri to sort out grey areas.

A Niger Delta leader, who spoke to Vanguard, yesterday, described the move by Aaron Team 2, as a wise initiative, as people were beginning to see the people of the region as unserious and divided.

Spokesperson of the Ultimate Warriors of Niger Delta, Sibiri Taiowoh, in a statement, cautioned the Federal Government “to be wary of those using the defunct MEND, which it accused of “seeking political relevance and wanting to free incarcerated Henry and Charles Okah who are dishing out commands from their prison cells.”

The group said that MEND’s proposal would cause more crises in the Niger Delta if government failed to heed its persistent warning.

Also, National Secretary, Urhobo Youth Leaders Association and former youth president general of Udu Kingdom, Delta State, Vincent Oyibode, called on the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, NDGJM, a militant group that rejected appeals by Niger Delta monarchs and leaders in the region to sheathe its sword.

The group, which also kicked against the establishment of a pan-Niger Delta group to speak for the region, actually bombed a pipeline in the state a day before the stakeholders met in Warri.

Oyibode condemned the attack on an oil pipeline in Udu by the Greenland Justice Mandate and appealed to the members to embrace the initiative of the leaders of the region, though he said that the federal and state governments, oil companies, NDDC, DESOPADEC and other development agencies have marginalized the area, Udu youths should give peace a chance.

Also, a pan Niger Delta civil society group has called on President Buhari to embrace the Niger Delta monarchs/leaders’ initiative for peace to reign in the region. The coalition includes the Niger Delta Security Watch Organisation of Nigeria, led Dickson Bekederemo, Ijaw Human Rights Monitors, headed by Mr Fred Brisibe, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, led by Austin Ozobo and Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-inflammatory Corruption Crusade, shepherded by Alaowei Cleric.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​We’ve video, pictures of soldiers engaged in oil bunkering —Avengers


WARRI —Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, yesterday, alleged that soldiers were the merchants of oil bunkering in the Niger Delta and that they have video and pictorial evidence of their involvement in crude oil theft and records, including how much they collect and make per day from illegal oil bunkering.
The group, in a statement denying security reports linking its forces to the killing of troops in Nembe, Bayelsa State, said it was surprised at the desperation of the military to always connect NDA to crimes in Southern Nigeria.

“It is a shame that Operations Delta Safe is still employing the old habit of deliberately dining and wining with fake intelligence from political thugs, political paymasters and enemies of the Niger Delta to perpetuate their continuous funding and relevance by leveraging on the hunger in the land,” spokesperson of the militant group, self-styled Brig Gen Mudoch Agbinibo, said.

The NDA had ceased hostilities, though unannounced, weekend, in deference to the plea by Niger Delta monarchs, leaders and stakeholders to all militant groups in the region to sheathe their swords.

It said, “One question for the Commander of Operation Delta Safe, is, who are the people perpetuating the ongoing illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta at the moment? We have both video and still photographs of the serious involvement of your troops in the pervasive crude oil thefts. We have records of how much profit you collect and make per day from these atrocities in the Niger Delta.

“To set the records straight, we cannot come after your dane guns and ammunition. Since the start of ‘Operation Red Economy,’ our forces have not fired one shot until we have achieved this great success of crippling crude oil productions in the Niger Delta to about 800,000 barrels per day.

“Those gang members paraded as killers of troops of ODS are well known followers of Mr. Africa Ukparasai and Mr Timipre Silva, who were armed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, during the governorship election  in Bayelsa State.

“If your forces and formations come under attack by notorious elements of your own political collaborators and calculations, you should accept it as a friendly fire (from your own dubious creations getting loosed and fighting back to protect their territories and bellies) and enjoy it while it last. Excuse the NDA from your “Pig and Mud squabbles.

“Yesterday was Arepo in Ogun  State, today is Nembe in Bayelsa State, which is the next state you want to involve the NDA in this your bread and butter security conspiracies and collaborations ?”

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​Poor power, diesel supply, others hampering manufacturing industry — NOI Polls

ABUJA — Manufacturers in Nigeria have identified the unavailability of petrol and poor power supply as the main challenges hindering the growth and threatening the survival of the industry, according to a latest survey by NOIPolls.

Economy

In the report of the survey released, yesterday, in Abuja, manufacturers that participated, also cited policy inconsistency and limited access to credit as some of the challenges faced by operators in the industry.

According to the poll report, majority of the manufacturers surveyed stated that,compared to one year ago, the availability of petrol/diesel, power supply, policy inconsistency, and access to credit have worsened.

The report further stated that about 78 per cent of companies surveyed revealed they had been negatively affected by the disparity in foreign exchange rates, in the official and parallel markets.

This, the report said, cut across the different company-size categories as, large, 83 per cent; medium, 76 per cent; and small 78 percent indicated this negative impact of forex.

It stated: “This finding is particularly poignant as 52 per cent of sampled companies disclosed that they were highly dependent on imported inputs in their production, and only 25 per cent indicated that the export market was highly important to their turnover.

“Furthermore, a majority of sampled firms, about 60 per cent, decried the lack of support within their current business environment; with at least 90 per cent of the firms not operating up to their optimum installed capacity, and 45 percent operating below 60 percent of installed capacity.”

However, the report noted that manufacturers were upbeat and had a positive outlook on the economy over the next one year, with 76 per cent expecting economic conditions to improve.

Specifically, the NOIPolls report stated that among the companies sampled, about 60 percent considered the current business environment unsupportive; with only 31 percent stating that the environment was supportive.

Further analysis on a geographical basis showed that while 93 per cent of companies in the North-East, 73 per cent in the North West and 68 per cent in the South East found the business environment unsupportive; only 65 per cent of companies in the South-West seem to suggest that the business environment was somewhat supportive.

In addition, the survey showed that the prevailing business situation in the country is not impressive, as at least 45 per cent of manufacturing companies stated that their current business environment was bad and 12 percent stating that it was neither good nor bad.

Only 43 per cent of companies, according to the report, described their situations as good or very good, ranging from a lowest rate of 18 percent in the North-Central to the highest rate of 78 percent in the South-West.

To this end, NOIPolls said: “The attention of all stakeholders – government, industry and development partners – need to centre on how to address the challenges of importation of manufacturing materials, the rising costs of energy inputs, and policy inconsistency.

“On the part of government, the following actions, which are not limited to implementing an input import substitution program, creating strategic FX window for manufacturing, reforming public finance institutions to improve access to credit, implementing modular refineries and implementing sound industrial policy should be highly considered to foster better growth in the future.

“In the same vain, manufacturers should deem it necessary to develop capacity for innovation and evaluate product value chains whereas, development partners could do more to support manufacturing in Nigeria by supporting long-term funding of the manufacturing sector and supporting the business environment reforms.”

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​Osinbajo for Delta Economic, Investment Summit tomorrow

ASABA—VICE President Yemi Osinbajo is expected at the two-day Delta State Economic and Investment Summit commencing tomorrow as part of activities marking the 25th anniversary of the creation of the state.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Patrick Ukah, who briefed newsmen in Asaba after the State Executive Council meeting, said that Prof. Osinbajo was expected to declare the two-day summit open on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Noting that four governors, ministers and other players in the private sector would also be in attendance, he said that former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof. Charles Soludo, is the keynote speaker.

Ukah added that the committee set up by the state government for the celebration of the 25th year anniversary of the creation of the state had raised N165 million from corporate organisations and private individuals for the celebration of the state’s silver jubilee.

He said that what they had raised was a far cry from the estimated budget of N250 million, insisting that the committee would work with what was sourced.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

I’ve no corruption case—OGAH. Abia State Nigeria

UMUAHIA—PDP chieftain and the man at the centre of the yet to be finally resolved Abia State political crisis, Dr. Uche Ogah has dismissed as erroneous, the insinuation in some quarters that he is facing a corruption case in court.

Rather, according to Ogah, he was the person who first approached the courts to protect the business interest of his company, Masters Energy Oil and Gas.

A statement issued by his media aide, Mr. Kingsley Ibeawuchi, explained that the dispute in a business between Ogah’s firm and another firm, Mut-Hass Petroleum, dated back to 2011, when the latter allegedly approached Ogah’s firm for an oil business collaboration, which he said was sealed and entered into after a memorandum of understanding, MoU, was signed by the two parties.

Specifically, Ibeawuchi, explained that the business was an offer by Mut-Hass Petroleum to Masters Energy “to sell, transfer and assign her company’s interest on the 10,000 Mt of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) allocation for the period of second quarter for the year, 2011, as a result of lack of funds and expertise to carry out the transactions”.

He said that the offer was considered based on a plea by the owners of the company and a Memorandum of Understanding that was entered into by the two firms.

“The MoU was dully signed conscientiously, on the 6th of May, 2011 between the two firms and in her haste to get the business started, the owner of the other firm allegedly offered to prepare a handwritten invoice in respect of the 10,000 MT of PMS, which she said was to ensure the entire transaction commences.

“In the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both companies, it was clearly stated that all rights, interest ,privileges, obligations and the permit to import 10,000 Metric Tons (MT) of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) under the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) Scheme for the second quarter of the year 2011 ‘’ be” transferred to Masters Energy Oil and Gas Ltd, and by virtue of the Memorandum of Understanding, based on those clearly spelt out terms of the agreement, Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited paid the total sum of =N=26, 820, 000.00 Only (Twenty Six Million, Eight Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira) as full and final Consideration to Mut-Hass Petroleum Nig. Ltd”, he explained.

He went further to give the bank and the numbers of three cheques issued by Ogah’s firm covering payment for business deal, allegedly issued to the firm.

Ibeawuchi alleged however that the other party flouted the MoU, prompting Ogah’s firm resolved to approach the court of law in (Suit NO: FCT/HC/2196/14) to address their grievances.

He said they decided to make the clarification so that the public would be deceived.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​Naira appreciates to N315.93/dollar as foreign investors take advantage


Naira, yesterday, appreciated by 3.52 per cent to close at N315.93 to a dollar at the interbank market, prompting calls for foreign investors to take advantage of the appreciation.

However, the naira suffered a loss in value as it depreciated at the parallel market to trade at N402 per dollar, weaker than N397 it traded at its previous session as dollar shortages gripped the official market. The naira, which hit fresh record low since the central bank floated the currency on the official inter-bank market in June, first touched N400 on the black market this month.

On the inter-bank market yesterday, no trade was posted until three minutes before the end of the session, when the central bank which has been reducing its dollar sales, intervened, traders said. Only three deals worth $0.75 million were traded at 305.50 per dollar, a level the market has closed at since Monday.

Specifically, according to Bloomberg, in the last two weeks, Exotix Partners LLP and Standard Bank Group Ltd. have told clients; most of who fled after the country started imposing capital controls from late 2014, that they should start buying naira assets again. The  naira which has been the worst-performing currency this year among more than 150 globally has depreciated 37 percent against the dollar since the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN  abandoned its peg on June 20, while bond yields have jumped to more than 20 percent. The naira strengthened 4.6 percent to 315 per dollar on Tuesday after falling to a record 350.25 on August 19, 2016.

“The cheap naira is attracting foreign investors,” said Lutz Roehmeyer, a money manager at Landesbank Berlin Investment, which oversees about $12 billion of assets. “At 325 per dollar, the naira is too weak” and Landesbank anticipates a rebound, he said.

Roehmeyer’s funds have doubled their holdings of naira debt, albeit in the form of bonds issued by the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. rather than the Nigerian government, to the equivalent of around $9.2 million this month, he said.

The CBN fixed the currency in February 2015 at 197-199 per dollar to stop it plunging amid the decline in the price of oil, on which Nigeria depends for 90 percent of exports and the bulk of government revenue. He relented after 16 months as the country stumbled toward a recession and foreign reserves fell to their lowest level in 11 years.

The naira has now weakened more than any other major oil currency since mid-2014, when crude prices started retreating. It’s lost almost half its value against the dollar in that period, compared with 46 percent for Kazakhstan’s tenge and 35 percent for the Colombian peso.

That makes it a good time to buy Nigerian one-year Treasury bills with yields of about 22 percent, Stuart Culverhouse, chief economist at Exotix in London, wrote in an Aug. 9 note. The potential return is more than 33 percent if the naira strengthens to its fair value of 290 against the greenback, he said.

In April, one-year T-bills yielded just 10 percent.

Oil Production

The trade is not for everyone, given Nigeria’s outlook. The economy will shrink 1.8 percent this year, its first contraction since at least 1991, the International Monetary Fund forecasts. Oil production has sunk to a near three-decade low of about 1.5 million barrels a day as militants attack pipelines and export terminals in the south of the country.

While Landesbank Berlin and Exotix say the currency has fallen enough, others aren’t convinced. The naira will weaken to 396 by year-end and 515 by the second quarter of 2017, according to Access Bank Plc, Nigeria’s fourth-biggest lender.

Forward prices also predict worse to come. Three-month non-deliverable forwards trade at 357 to the dollar, and one-year contracts at 394. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey is for the currency to stabilize at 344 this year.

Sidelines Preferred

“The combination of a cheaper naira and higher yields on naira paper are tempting, but we remain comfortable on the sidelines,” Brett Rowley, a managing director at Los Angeles-based TCW Group Inc., which oversees $195 billion of assets, said in an e-mailed response to questions on Aug. 16. “Restoring oil output would help assuage our concerns.”

Investors are also yet to be convinced that the naira truly floats. The central bank sold dollars at 309 last week and may be trying to keep the rate stronger than 320, according to Craig Thompson of Continental Capital Markets SA, based in Nyon, Switzerland. The naira trades at 395 on the black market, 20 percent weaker than the official rate.

“The exchange rate is closer to fair value in the eyes of most investors,” said Andrew Howell, a New York-based frontier-markets analyst at Citigroup Inc., the world’s biggest foreign-exchange trader. “But there still aren’t many inflows. You can’t really call it a normally-functioning exchange rate yet.”

Mitigating Risk

Bottom of Form

Still, bond investors are closer to pulling the trigger than they have been in more than a year. They’d be even more confident if they were able to mitigate the risk of further depreciation by buying the naira-settled futures that Nigeria introduced in June, according to Stephen Bailey-Smith, senior economist at Copenhagen-based Denmark’s Global Evolution Fonds A/S, which manages $3.2 billion of assets.

Nigerian local-currency bonds have lost 17 percent in dollar terms this quarter, through yesterday, compared with the 3 percent average return for 31 developing nations monitored by Bloomberg indexes. The yield on benchmark government naira notes due January 2026 has climbed 226 basis points since June to 15.08 percent.

“We haven’t come back in to the local market yet, but we’re looking at it closely,” Bailey-Smith said. “If you can get a yield above 20 percent and hedge the FX risk, it’s not a bad trade at all. The futures market is intended to help you do that, but it’s difficult to buy them.”

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  4. Source: Vanguard