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Buhari, Sanwo-Olu Commission Lagos Blue Rail Line

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday commissioned the Blue Rail Line (from Marina to Mile 2) in Lagos State.

The President alongside Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat commissioned the project at the Marina Train Station in the state.

The President also witnessed the signing of the commencement of the Phase 2 of the project from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko.

Speaking at the programme on Tuesday, Sanw-Olu thank the President for his support to the state including tax breaks and waivers granted on the project.

Buhari, who did not make a speech at the event, earlier on Tuesday commissioned the JK Randle Centre For Yoruba Culture And History.

Also, on Monday, the President inaugurated the Lekki Deep Sea Port, Imota Rice Mill, and Bestaf Lubricant at MRS Holdings Company Limited all located in Lagos.

The projects are part of a series of facilities being commissioned by Buhari during a two-day visit to the state.

See full statement by the Presidency:

PRESIDENT BUHARI INAUGURATES PHASE 1 OF LAGOS BLUE RAIL LINE; TAKES TRAIN RIDE

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday inaugurated the first phase of the Lagos Blue Rail Line, taking a ride from the Marina Station to National Theatre Station.

The President was aboard the trip with Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Deputy Governor of the State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, members of the Federal and State Executive Councils, members of the Federal and State Legislative Assemblies, President of China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), Chen Sichang and journalists, among others.

The first phase of the project, executed by the State Government, which spans 13 kilometers, has five stations – Mile 2, Suru-Alaba, Orile Iganmu, National Theatre and Marina.

President Buhari also witnessed the signing of the contract for the construction of second phase of the Lagos Blue Rail Line by the Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Engr. Abimbola Akinajo and President of China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), Chen Sichang.

In his remarks, Governor Sanwo-Olu thanked the President for the State Visit to commission several landmark projects, noting that since 1999 the State has not enjoyed this level of support from the Federal Government.

On the benefits of the project, the Governor stated that it would reduce travel time, improve the quality of life of citizens and make Lagos one of the most resilient mega-cities in Africa that would compete favorably with other megacities around the world.

Sanwo-Olu hinted that he would invite the President again to Lagos to commission the Red Line, which he described as a bigger rail corridor project compared with the Blue Rail Line.

‘‘This iconic Marina Station would be the largest and busiest in Africa. It has the capacity to process about 450 passengers per minute, meaning that in an hour this station can process about 25,000 passengers,’’ he said.

Hamzat, the Lagos Deputy Governor, traced the pioneering role of the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in envisioning and laying the foundation for the project, as governor of Lagos State.

‘‘Talking about the Blue line without making a reference to the ground-breaking contributions of the presidential candidate of our great party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is like talking about the beach without the ocean.

‘‘A visionary leader, Asiwaju Tinubu pioneered the idea of the Lagos Blue Line and many other revolutionary initiatives.

‘‘The Tinubu administration developed the Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), which laid out the foundation for a network of robust and modern transport infrastructure befitting a 21st century City-State, such as ours.

‘‘The master plan has six rail lines and one monorail, 14 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, over 20 water routes and a number of major roads.

‘‘Thanks to Asiwaju’s creative leadership, today, we are making history with the completion of this rail line,’’ he said.

Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun said the completion of the first phase of the project is a demonstration of the harmony in the bilateral relations between Nigeria and China.

‘‘It is a harmony in integration, diversity, and development,’’ he said.

Earlier, before leaving Lagos for Dakar, Senegal, President Buhari also inaugurated John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, after which he toured the facility.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
January 24, 2023

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Naira Hoarding: Sterling Bank In Fresh Trouble, Faults ICPC’s Arrest Of 2 Staff

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Few days after Sterling Bank defended allegation of hoarding new N200 notes in the vault of  its Ekiti  branch office, the bank on the evening of Tuesday February 8, 2023, faced similar ‘charges’ at its Abuja regional office and other Federal Capital Territory branches.

Sterling Bank, in a communication, admitted that ICPC invited two of its staff for questioning in respect of the naira hoarding allegation.

The new allegation, this time coming from the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), hinted of the bank deliberately withholding new naira notes from customers, two days away from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN)  February 10 deadline for return of old notes.

ICPC had, on Tuesday evening, tweeted  that it discovered millions of new naira notes in Sterling Bank’s Abuja offices, an allegation the bank denied in a statement.

Sterling Bank Respond ICPC’s Allegations

But the bank in a carefully crafted response to the naira hoarding allegation early Wednesday evening, said it complied with all complied with all guidelines on distribution of redesigned notes from inception to date.

What the bank is saying:

OUR ABUJA REGIONAL OFFICE

This report is developed for the purpose of providing the true representation of events to the narrative as expressed by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) in a tweet late on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

Background

  1.  A regulatory monitoring team visited our Abuja Central Business District (CBD) Complex on February 3, 2023.
  2. The monitoring team, in the company of the branch service manager and other staff, inspected and observed the following꞉
  3. The branch’s ATMs were dispensing all denominations of the newly designed notes.
  4. The branch was in full compliance with the regulator’s recommendations on Over ‑ The‑Counter (OTC) disbursements.
READ ALSO  Sterling Bank Wins Best Employer Award For Fifth Time

During the inspection, the monitoring team made inquiries about the details of the cash observed in the vaults. To which the team responded with details of the branch’s ATM and OTC cash disbursement processes.

To our knowledge, all responses provided were satisfactory as no further queries were raised.

The monitoring team promptly left the premises upon concluding the inspection.

  1.  Approximately  one  hour  later,  officials  of  the  Independent  Corrupt  Practices Commission (ICPC), accompanied by the monitoring team, returned to the branch and removed two of the branch’s staff for further questioning at the ICPC headquarters in Abuja.
  2.  The Sterling staff were held at the  ICPC office and were later released withoutany charges levied against them by the close of the business day on February 3, 2023.

About the visit to Sterling Bank, CBD, Abuja

  1.  The Sterling branch at the Central Business District, Abuja, is a regional headquartersand serves as a hub for 5 Sterling branches and 15 ATM terminals within the region.
  2.  During the visit, members of the monitoring team inspected the vault of the branchand observed the sum of N258,000,000 in N1000, N500 and N200 denominations.
  3. The distribution records from the CBD branch to other locations served within the region were presented for the evaluation of the monitoring team.
  4. The  monitoring team  proceeded to visit two  branches  in  Utako and Wuye as  both locations receive their cash disbursements from the regional headquarters ofSterling in CBD.
  5.  Upon their visits to the Utako and Wuye branches, the monitoring team reviewed the records submitted for the movement of cash from the CBD branch to other branches served within the region.  It is important to state that cash was being paid over the counter at  both  branches,  and  the  ATM  terminals  were  dispensing  the  newly  designed denominations during the monitoring exercise.

Matters Arising

Sterling deems it necessary to point out the following꞉

  1.  Members of the regulatory monitoring team were informed of the sums contained in the branch’s vault prior to the inspection. These sums were confirmed with are view of the records as presented by representatives of the Bank.

The assertion of a “discovery”, as presented in the narrative, is inaccurate and grossly misleading.

  1. All cash observed in the vault of the CBD branch was earmarked for distribution to other branches in the region for disbursement to customers of the bank and the public.
  2. The sum of N5,000,000 each as contained in the monitoring team’s report,represents the cash moved to augment the vault balances of the Utako, Wuye, Seda Close and Kotangora branches (in line with the bank’s daily routine of cash management) and also for disbursement to the public via their ATM terminals.
  3. All balances in our vaults are reported daily to the Central Bank of Nigeria and form the basis for the allocation of new notes in an efficient manner; it is therefore,untrue that such monies are ‘stashed’ or ‘hoarded.’

Sterling’s Distribution of New Notes

From the commencement of the distribution of the re‑designed denominations, the CBD branch has received the total sum of N1,543,000,000 from the apex bankand paid to customers as summarized below꞉

  1.  The  sum  of  N892,700,000  paid  out  in  about  104,821 transactions  across  15ATM terminals between January 6 to February 6, 2023.
  2. The sum of N78,600,000 paid out in approximately 3,892 over‑the‑counter transactions across all 6 branches in the Abuja region between February 2, 2023 to February 6, 2023.

This was commenced upon receipt of the directive from the regulator to disburse the new notes over the counter ‑ subject to a limit of N20,000 per transaction.

  1. The sum of N1,000,000,000 in a combination of old and new notes, wasdisbursed to customers over the counter in about 2,124 transactions betweenDecember 15, 2022 and January 5, 2023.

The current balances across the 6 branches in Abuja as at the close of business on February 7, 2023 stood at N178,670,000.

The average vault balances currently held in the six locations is N30m per branch; well below our historical vault balances.

Conclusions

  1. The  representatives of the  bank duly  informed the  regulatory  monitoring team and officials  of  the  ICPC  of  the  sums  in  the vault,  stating  the  purpose  as  intended  for distribution to other branches.
  2. It must be noted that no cash was “stashed” in the vault of the regional office.

For emphasis, we wish to state that Sterling Bank has complied with all the guidelines on the distribution of redesigned notes from inception to date,” the bank said regarding the naira hoarding allegation.

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MC Oluomo: Remove Lagos REC, Now, Atiku Tells INEC

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The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos, Olusegun Agbaje, for his partisanship and compromise.

In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, said it was curious that Agbaje had insisted on using the Lagos State Park and Garage Management Committee led by transport kingpin, Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council.

Shaibu described as watery Agbaje’s excuse that INEC would not be able to use the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) because they had been barred in Lagos State.

He stated, “The law is clear that only a court has the power to proscribe an organisation. That was why the Federal Government had to go to court to proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).

“What Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu did in Lagos State was to arbitrarily announce a ban on the activities of the NURTW because the organisation suspended MC Oluomo, the APC’s henchman. INEC must not promote illegality by working with a partisan organisation which is filled with APC members that are working for Bola Tinubu.

“How could such people be given sensitive materials to be distributed across Lagos on election day? This has already undermined the possibility of a free and fair election. INEC must sanction Mr. Agbaje for insisting on using MC Oluomo’s committee despite protests from members of the public.”

Shaibu recalled that Agbaje was the REC who superintended over the fraudulent 2018 governorship election rerun in Osun State which even the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union discredited.

He added, “Recall that it was Mr. Agbaje who superintended over the fraudulent and violent Osun governorship rerun which produced Gboyega Oyetola as governor. US Consul General, John Bray was spot on when he stated, ‘We witnessed what appeared to be incidents of interference and intimidation of voters and heard reports of harassment or party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.”

Shaibu noted that even election monitoring groups like the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) dismissed the Osun rerun as “fraudulent and anti-democratic”.

He added, “Unfortunately, it is the same Agbaje, who could not effectively supervise a rerun in a few polling units that has been given the task of superintending the election in Nigeria’s largest state with over seven million registered voters. The election is doomed to fail if INEC doesn’t do the right thing by removing him.

“We remind the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, that this will be his last general election before the end of his tenure. We ask him to protect his legacy by removing Mr. Segun Agbaje if he insists that MC Oluomo must be the one to handle sensitive INEC materials. This election must not only be fair but it must be seen to be fair as well.”

Shaibu noted that as of Wednesday morning, over 17,000 Nigerians had signed a petition on Change.Org titled, ‘Remove Olusegun Agbaje as the Lagos INEC Commissioner for Incompetence and Bigotry’.

Agbaje has been under fire for the last one week following his comments over the inability of a large number of non-indigenes in Lagos to vote. While explaining the development on Channels Television, Agbaje, who was visibly disgusted, stated that people of the southeast migrated to Lagos and engaged in double registration hence their inability to get their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC).

Responding to the development, Shaibu stated, “It is disheartening that the Lagos REC, Mr Segun Agbaje, has begun to show open partisanship. We find it curious that it is the local governments considered as opposition strongholds that were unable to get their PVCs.

He stated, “Historians and analysts have described this 2023 general election as a watershed. The destiny of over 200 million people is at stake. INEC says it is ready to deliver a credible and free election but one weak link in the chain of command can undermine the entire process.

“We call on Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu to remove the Lagos REC, Mr. Agbaje, as his credibility is seriously in doubt. Again, we call on INEC not to use the MC Oluomo-led partisan organisation to distribute ballot papers on election day.”

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“Do Not Use Me To Insult My Uncle, Seun Kuti, We Stay United As Family”, Made Kuti Slams Peter Okoye Over Ongoing Drama

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Afrobeats singer, Made Kuti has issued a warning to singer, Peter Okoye following his clash with his uncle, Seun Kuti.

Recall that for hours now, Seun Kuti and Peter Okoye have been slamming each other on social media over Peter Obi.

Seun had described the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, had an opportunitist. Peter Okoye, who is a proud supporter of Peter Obi and has been campaigning for him had slammed Seun for his opinion and a fight ensued on social media.

Dragging his nephew, Made Kuti into the drama, Peter Okoye told Seun to learn from Made because he is well guided and clean.

He wrote, “Dude, I understand your frustration. But realize that the sky is big enough for all birds to fly @burnaboy and other great artistes have climbed on our great Fela’s ladder to blow. Comport yourself and pray to your God. My God has blessed my destiny & I’ll 4ever remain thankful. I’ll surely keep you in my prayers. Learn from your nephew @Madekuti cos he is well guided and clean”.

Reacting to the shade, Made Kuti told Peter Okoye to keep his name out of his mouth.

He warned the father of two to stop using his name as a tool to slight, insult or badmouth his uncle.

Throwing a shade at Peter, he stated that the Kuti’s aren’t like the Okoyes and stay united as a family and intend to keep it that way.

“Good afternoon, Please do not use me as a tool to slight, insult or badmouth my Uncle… I’m not sure how we are perceived so I should clarify we stay united as a family and we intend on keeping it that way. Thank you”.

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