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Court Remands Two Pilots For Flying Expatriates Into Rivers

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A Port Harcourt Chief Magistrates’ Court, on Tuesday, remanded two pilots with the Caverton Helicopters, Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari, in a correctional centre for allegedly disobeying the Executive Order of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

The order had suspended flights into the state. The suspension of flights into the Port Harcourt International Airport, Air Force Base and other landing spaces in the state was aimed at checking the spread of coronavirus in the state.

Chief Magistrate D. D. Ihua-Maduenyi remanded the pilots in the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre till May 19, 2020, when their trial will commence.

Ihua-Maduenyi also ordered that the pilots be subjected to the COVID-19 test to ascertain their status.

The police arrested two pilots shortly after landing by the Rivers Taskforce on enforcement of directives against Coronavirus.

They were said to have been taken to the Rivers Police Command where Governor, Nyesom Wike visited them to assess the development.

The Governor was said to be worried that the identities of the expatriates were unknown and had demanded the company to fish them out to verify their medical status.

Wike had signed an executive order closing all land, air and sea borders as part of his numerous measures to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Rivers Police Commissioner, Mustapha Dandaura, who confirmed the development said that the command arrested the pilot and co-pilot of Carveton Helicopters who ferried unknown passengers to the State. He said that the pilots violated the regulations regarding the safety of the state.

He said: “Recall that when this coronavirus issues started, there was ban of local flight from coming into the State. Since that time we have been monitoring the activities of these private airlines.

“To our surprise, we received an intelligence report that an aircraft has landed at the Airforce base and that it was carrying some passengers. We have apprehended the Pilot and the Co-pilot by the NAF commander that’s why they alerted the chief executive Governor of the state who had given an order that on no account should any aircraft land on Rivers State without clearance.

“We don’t know the people they brought. Whether they are positive or negative of Coronavirus. Where are the heading to and where they came from

He commended Wike for his commitment to the protection of Rivers people.

He said: “To our surprise this morning this aircraft landed without any signal or permission from the authorities. We don’t know their mission here. Maybe they are coming here to sabotage the activities of the state and the security agencies that are putting efforts on ground to ensure that Rivers State enjoy peaceful atmosphere throughout this pandemic period”.

Wike declared his willingness to set aside his immunity to testify against persons violating the state’s border closure aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking at the office of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Wike said the two pilots of Carveton Helicopters operated illegally.

He said that the protection of Rivers people remained an important assignment that must be executed with the seriousness it deserved.

He said: “I am willing to drop my immunity as a governor as far as this case is concerned . I am ready to be a prosecution witness. ”

He charged the police to prosecute the matter to its logical conclusion to serve as deterrent to those interested in violating the regulations of the state regarding the fight against coronavirus.

He said: “I want to say this is a serious matter to us and police should handle it seriously. That’s why I am here at the state command to show the seriousness of this issue.

“No body says that you can’t go to any state but now we are in a war situation. This Covid-19 is even worse than a conventional war. We want to know who are those people you brought in, so that we have to trace them to know their identity and status. Luckily we have seen the pilot and the Co-pilot. They will assist the police to assist in identifying them”.

Wike reiterated that though the state government had no power to close airports, it had the right to check those coming into the state in order to ascertain their status.

He wondered why Carveton Helicopters decided to cut corners when the state government outlined the procedure for flying expatriates from Lagos into the state.

He said: “I have always said that we need the support of everybody. Nobody knows the status of those coming into Port Harcourt. Nobody knows whether they are positive or negative. I have said before that I don’t have right to close the airport. But I have the right of saying don’t enter my state because we want to know your status.

“The company wrote to us about bringing people which I forwarded to Commissioner of Police to perform security checks and the health officials to perform their duties before allowing them to come in. That is for those performing essential duties. But they decided to violate the regulations.”

Wike insisted that his administration was duty-bound to protect Rivers people from coronavirus.

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Banks’ CEOs Hold Emergency Meeting Over BDCs’ Forex Ban 

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Bank Chief Executive Officers on Thursday, held an emergency meeting on how to ensure compliance with the new forex directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

After the meeting, they spoke during a webinar organised to give an update on the banks’ preparedness to be the main channel of forex distribution, following the recent discontinuity of forex supply to the BDC operators by the CBN.

The executives assured the public that banks would make forex available to customers in accordance with the CBN’s directives.

After the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had ordered all Deposit Money Banks to set up teller points at designated branches across the country to fulfil legitimate FX request for personal travel allowance, business travel allowance, tuition fees, medical payments and SMEs transactions, among others.

Speaking at the webinar, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said, “The banking industry as a whole was willing and ready to carry out this function. The banks have very strict compliance measures, in terms of verification and making sure that people who do apply are eligible.

“All Nigerian banks will be able to meet these requirements. If you look at all the branches nationwide, you will know that the banks have more than enough capacity to do this.”

He said if the banks saw any compliance issues, or people attempting to do things cunning, they would be reported to the CBN because the banks would ensure full compliance with the order.

The Group Chief Executive Officer, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, while speaking on the capacity of the banks to meet the customers demand, said, “It is not only the CBN that has the ability to fund the market; the banks also have the resources to meet the demand, and we have agreed collectively that it will start immediately.”

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Nigeria Needs $2.3tn To Address Infrastructure Deficit, Says FG

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Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said that the country need $2.3tn to address its national integrated infrastructure masterplan.

He said this in Abuja on Thursday at a town hall meeting themed: ‘Nigeria’s infrastructure revolution: Road to a new future’, organised by Business Hallmark.

According to him, the 23-year masterplan (2020-2043) is for the development of infrastructure including roads, railway network and maritime sector.

The event was chaired by a former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress and former governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

Mustapha said, “Conscious of the economic disruption caused by 2016 recession and COVID-19 as well as challenges of previous reforms, the Federal Government revised the 23 year (2020-2043) national integrated infrastructure masterplan that identified critical enablers.

“For the 23-year period, $2.3tn will be required, translating to about $150bn annually and the private sector and other partners have to provide 56 per cent, while Federal Government and state governments will provide 44 per cent of the share of the investment.

“The Federal Government has made important strides towards providing much of our infrastructure and has, in recent years, conducted several infrastructural reforms.

“Specifically, we are extending and upgrading the nation’s railway network and introducing more locomotive couches. The port sector has been converted to landlocked model and terminal.

“Similarly, Public Private Partnership style infrastructure company with an initial seed capital of N1tn envisaging to grow over time to N6tn in assets and capital has been established and will soon commence operation.

“It will be one of the premier finance entities in Africa and will be wholly dedicated to Nigeria’s infrastructure development.

“The reduction in Nigeria’s infrastructural gap will also give the country a competitive advantage under the newly signed Africa Free Continental Area Trade Agreement.”

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, deplored the water crises in Nigeria saying no community in the country enjoyed water supply always.

He said, “In 1992, 30 per cent of the Nigerian population was enjoying pipe-borne water and as of 2015, it had dropped to seven per cent.

“In 2015, we were at 68 per cent national coverage for access to water and as of today, we are at 70 per cent and maybe by the time the result for 2021 comes out, we might be at 71 per cent to 72 per cent.

“As for water quality, 90 per cent of water consumed, including water from the boreholes, are contaminated and water is the basic necessity of life.”

Oyegun, in his contribution at the event, said six years going, the performance of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had been mixed.

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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