​Bread levy report an embarrassment to my government — Gov Bello

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has expressed displeasure with news that his administration has imposed a tax on loaves of bread to be paid by bakeries and bread sellers in the state.

The governor described the story which was woven around a letter signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Industry, Mr. Usman Ibrahim issued to the bakery association as a ‘a huge embarrassment’ to the state government.

The state deputy Governor, Edward Onoja who spoke on behalf of government in a statement on Sunday said the governor has asked him not only to speak on the issue but commence immediate investigation into the case.

The statement reads, “We have just seen a purported consultancy agreement between one of our ministries and a private firm to impose an ill-conceived levy on bread in the state. For the records, neither the Governor nor the state executive council has imagined or proposed such a devilish tax regime, how much less imposing same on any food or essential commodity, not to mention bread which is a table staple and the basic lifeline of many a household.

“Such a claim was infact, an embarrassment to the state government. I am directed by His Excellency to give the lie to news of an alleged tax imposed on each loaf of bread to be sold in Kogi State. There is no iota of truth in the claims that we have approved such wickedness, because we have not and cannot.

“I myself was shocked when news of the strange measure started making the rounds on media platforms it ran contrary to the widely advertised posture of the state government that the people of Kogi State must not be subjected to any act or policy that will increase their pains in this Covid-19 season.

“It is well-documented in the media that Governor Yahaya Bello has fought powerful forces, more than any other governor perhaps, to keep his people safe. As Covid-19 ravaged the country and the world, he has mobilised them for lifestyle changes that defeated the virus in the state.

“He spared them lockdowns and the inherent disruptions to their lives and livelihoods characteristic of covid responses in other places. He scrupulously obeyed WHO and NCDC guidelines to provide testing to high risk individuals. He relied on pioneering use of Rapid Test Kits for the coronavirus long before they became mainstream. He responded swiftly with contact tracing and quarantines on all suspected cases’.

“Today, the result of the Governor’s novel approach to the novel coronavirus are evident for all to see on every daily update given by the federal authorities. Kogi State sits at the bottom of that list, and even those 5 cases allocated to us are controversial at best. To put it mildly, we have had no confirmed case of Covid-19 in Kogi State.

“About 3 months ago, we rolled out the Kogi Care Initiative, for which Council approved N1.56 billion as a post-COVID economic stimulus and recovery programme customised for different sections of our people – the poor, the elderly and the MSMEs. We therefore reject the notion that ‘we can now impose a tax on individual loaves of bread sold in the state.’

“No extra financial burden will apply for the time being on citizens. Any business which has met the regulatory requirements for doing business in Kogi State including payment of routine tax is entitled to operate freely, and that includes bakeries and bread traders.

“We therefore urge everyone to disregard the alleged bread tax as not only improbable but impossible in Kogi State under the current administration.

“We will not tolerate our own officials trying to profiteer off our people in any way, or even acting ill-advisedly in manners that cause them any form of distress”.

​#EndSARS: I was a victim of police brutality ― Fayemi

The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on Sunday described the EndSARS protest as a noble course, saying It was supported in Ekiti not because of those involved, but for the reason behind the action.

Fayemi, who disclosed he had been a victim of police brutality in the past, said that he would join other good intentioned Nigerians to take the youth’s EndSARS agitations serious.

This was as the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari would listen and implement all the demands made by the youth during the EndSARS protest.

They spoke in Ado Ekiti on Sunday during an interaction session held by stakeholders’ on the recent #EndSARS protest that resonated panic across the country.

Governor Fayemi said the case of police brutality was one issue that affects every fact of the society, revealing that he was a victim in 2014 while seeking reelection.

Fayemi , who was defeated in the June 21, 2014 election by his predecessor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, had prior to the election allegedly teargased by a team police operatives at Mugbagba area of Ado Ekiti while some APC governor were prevented from entering the state to campaign for him having been allegedly stopped by security agencies at the borders.

Describing the youths as the engineroom of the nation’s economy, Governor Fayemi stated that there was need for the governments to partner the youth for sustainable peace and development .

“The EndSARS protest was a noble course . It was supported here in Ekiti not because of those involved, but for the reason behind the action which we believe would help the police to put their house in order.

“The youth protest in Ekiti was well intentioned and peaceful. Right to peaceful protest is an inalienable right. For the first time we have panel of inquiries at every level of government to tackle our issues. We must not resort to violence as a solution to our agitations. We must all speak in unison against violence as we did in unison against Police brutality.

“Our youth are angry , because as they were coming out of closure of schools over Coronavirus pandemic , they entered into ASUU strike, then there is hunger in the land and the harsh economic situation in our country.

“The government has done many intervention programmes and had proscribed SARS and introduced youth investment fund and many others as a response to the youth agitations.

“I commiserate with the families of those who paid the supreme price. We identify with them. The panels that we set up will look into the reasons behind the protest and how best to address the issues raised, because EndSARS protest had placed a moral burden on all of us that we must be vigilant.

“I am a victim of police brutality myself. You could all recall what happened to me during my election of 2014. But some policemen had also rendered good services to me, so not all of them are bad.

“Our police must be motivated to do well. Policemen must be well remunerated . There must be good motivation for the police to be able to to discharge their duties effectively” .

Also giving reassurance that President Buhari will implement all the issues raised by the youth, Adebayo said : “The purpose why we are here today is that, all the Ministers working under President Buhari got a presidential order to hold interactions with the people . Mr President listens to people. He wanted to use this interaction to feel the pulse of all Nigerians .

“We appreciate Governor Fayemi for setting us a panel to inquire about police brutality and other issues that are connected . As your representative at FEC, I will continue to do my best to represent Ekiti well .

He advised youth to always apply for any youth oriented programmes being rolled out by the federal government and stop having the erroneous impression that they won’t be enlisted as beneficiary, apply first and see what happens”.

In his contributions, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 17, comprising Ondo and Ekiti, Mr. David Folawiyo, said the EndSARS protest had actually exhumed fundamental issues indicative of the rots in the system.

“Ultimate power belongs to the masses, especially the youth . The EndSARS agitations didn’t state that the police were bad, but they said the SARS operatives were bad. We agreed that there were bad eggs in the SARS but in most cases people were the ones requesting for SARS services.

“We know that we have to restructure the police and that will be done. But we should all work together to make the police effective. We should all be patriotic and once we have this spirit, there won’t be SARS again. The police must be well equipped and ultimately, we must all collaborate to end SARS”.

Also, the Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria(NYCN), Mr. Eyitayo Fabunmi, called for total reform of the Police , so that they can be more professional and civil in the discharge of their duties.

“It is high time we concentrated more on building the youths. The universities are churning out graduates on yearly basis without jobs and our leaders are unconcerned, if they are unconcerned we are concerned as victims.

“The Ministries of youth at the federal and state levels must be well funded to be able to tackle issues relating to youths. Governments can replicate Youth Trust fund to empower youth population National Youth Investment fund should also be localised to be in all the councils for better accessibility. The politicians should also open their doors for the youths and perceive us as collaborators rather than “.

Present at the occasion were the Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi, Speaker , Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon Funminiyi Afuye, Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Bishop Felix Ajakaye, the Chief Imam of Ekiti and President League of Alfas, Alhaji Jamiu Kewulere, traditional rulers, youth groups and security organisations.

​‘He won because…’ ― Trump edges toward accepting Biden victory

United States (US) President Donald Trump appeared to edge closer towards acknowledging his election defeat in a tweet on Sunday morning, as he again railed against supposed mass fraud in the vote won by challenger Joe Biden.

“He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company,” Trump tweeted in his clearest yet admission of defeat.

Trump has refused to concede the election, and repeatedly said he intended to overturn the result through legal cases — though no evidence of mass fraud in the November 3 election has been found.

But the first two words of his Sunday tweet — two days after a slip in which he said “time will tell” if he remains president — seemed to bring him another step closer to admitting defeat.

Thousands of Trump supporters rallied in Washington on Saturday, backing his claims of fraud, with clashes erupting in the evening with rival protesters.

At least 20 people were arrested, reports said, including four for firearm violations and one for assault on a police officer.

Trump himself made a drive-past of the rally in his armoured motorcade, on his way to play golf, smiling through his limousine window to wild cheers and signs saying “Best prez ever” and “Trump 2020: Keep America Great.”

Many of Trump’s tweets over the weekend alleging the election was rigged against him have been tagged by Twitter as containing “disputed” information.

​Kogi govt expresses satisfaction with conduct of common entrance exam

The Kogi government has expressed satisfaction with the processes and the conduct of the 2020 common entrance examinations across the state.

The state Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Wemi Jones, made the remark on Saturday while speaking with newsmen after leading a team to monitor the conduct of the examinations in some centres in Lokoja.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Pastor Emmanuel Idenyi, Jones commended the candidates and exam officials for their compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols during the exercise.

“The processes and conduct of today’s (Saturday) common entrance examination is quite impressive in all the centres we visited; pupils were well behaved and we are satisfied,” he said.

According to him, the activities for the CEE’s conduct right from data generation, printing of question papers, collection of materials and movement to various centres have been very successful.

He added that the report they got from the officials, who monitored other local government areas in the state, showed that there was no shortage of question papers and that no crisis was recorded.

Earlier, while addressing the pupils of St. Luke Primary School, Andankolo, the commissioner urged them to be of good conduct during the examination and shun any form of malpractices.

Jones warned that government would not tolerate any act of cheating in the examination, urging them to be confident about themselves and prayed God to see them through.

The Supervisor in charge of the centre, Mrs Naomi Onoja, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the exercise had been a huge success.

”This year’s CEE was very well organized; we arrived very early and there was no shortage of question papers. We have pupils from 11 schools writing the exam in this centre,” Onoja said.

A pupil from Koggie Academic, Fatimat Albdulraheem, and another from UMCA Primary School, Olusegun Levi, told NAN that they were happy to write the exam.

NAN reports that the commissioner and his team also visited Saint Mary Primary School, Lokongoma Primary School, Phase I and Army Day Secondary School, Barracks, among others.

​Tension in Benin as bloody clash between rival cult groups claim 18 lives

The escaltion of bloody clashes between rival cult groups, Eiye and Aye has heightened tension in parts of Benin – City the Edo state capital and adjoining towns as no fewer than 18 persons have been feared dead within the week.

This is coming on the heels of the shooting of an Assistant Commissioner of Police and two senior police officers in the early hours of yesterday at the popular Murtala Muhammed Way.

It was gathered that following the escalation of violence between the rival groups, soldiers have been deployed to the troubled areas of Upper Sakponba, Idogbo, Three House Junction and adjoining locations where activities of the cultists have sent residents fleeing for their lives.

It was not clear what may have sparked the latest killings across major towns and some local government areas in the South senatorial districts of the state.

It was however learnt that one of the key actors of one of the rival cult confraternity was scheduled for burial yesterday, a development that attracted who is who in the confraternity.

The Assistant Police Commissioer and two other officers were said to have shot moments the hoodlums sighted his team on rescue mission to the troubled MM Way, Upper Sakponba, Idogbo and Ugbekun areas considered as core den of the cult groups.

Several people sustained gunshot injuries in the process.

Both the Policemen and others injured were said to have been rushed to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital and other nearby hospitals for treatment.

The activities of the rival blood thirst cultists were said to have also taken toll in Ekenwan road, Siluko road, Wire road, Dumez road, Texile Mill road, New Benin road, Ogida Quarters, Ogbe Quarters and Ibivwe Quarters of the City.

About 450 shops, five markets, banks, public and private schools were shut as at yesterday morning.

Parents had to rush to the various schools to take their wards home moments the troubled atmosphere became charged with endless shootings.

Worse as the situation is within Upper Sakponba and Idogbo areas of Ikpoba Okha council area of the state, residents were said to be trapped and helpless as about seven police stations within the localities were razed down and arms and ammunition carted away during the recent EndSARS protest that enveloped the state.

Sadly too, the Benin and Oko Correctional Centers along Sapele road and Airport road respectively were invaded by hoodlums who hijacked the peaceful EndSARS protest where they set free an estimated 2, 000 inmates out of which a larger percentage of the number is yet to return back to the faclities.

Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Johnson Kokumo and the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) SP Chidi Nwabuzor when contacted yesterday on the ugly incidents failed to respond to call to their cell phones.