Below are the headlines found on The Guardian Online Newspaper for today, Sunday, 25 February, 2018.

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
Lawyers have continued to sing discordant tunes over the legal and proper procedure to adopt in disposing of recovered properties suspected to be from proceeds of crime, which were forfeited to the Federal Government.  
This is after sheer lack of trust in the Economic and Fiscal Crimes Commission (EFCC’s) reports on recovered looted funds and properties, as well as, in the Federal Government’s ability to sell in a transparent and accountable manner.

It was Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, who charged government to publish the list of owners of recovered assets before they are disposed of, as well as, the names of new buyers.

While some legal practitioners are of the view that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government cannot be trusted to do the right thing because of the secrecy that has shrouded the management of these recovered assets (both cash and landed properties), others insist that the government should not be dictated to on how to execute the sales.

Abuja-based Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, did not only applaud Fayose for speaking the minds of Nigerians, he also described the Buhari-led government as the worst since the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914.

He equally alleged that the properties so far recovered have either been distributed among government cronies, or sold below current value to party loyalists.

He said: “Fayose was right in challenging the President and the government to publish the list of assets so recovered; how much money has been recovered; properties recovered; where they are located; who owned them, and if they have been sold, to whom and under what circumstance. 

Last year, I wrote a 10-page letter to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, stating exactly what Fayose is saying today – asking Osinbajo to tell Nigerians how much has so far been recovered in terms of money; where the money is kept; if it is being used, and who appropriated the money to be used.

“In term of the properties – the shopping malls, the houses, the land, I challenged the government to tell Nigerians where all that the EFCC has recovered from the so-called corrupt politicians are. Has any of them been sold, to whom and how much? Was the process transparent; was there any bidding to inform Nigerians that such properties were going to be sold? Was there any advertisement or they were done ‘Nicodemusly’ like witches and wizards in the coven?

So, Fayose is only adding his voice to mine because I did not only say it, I also wrote a letter last year June to that effect for which he did not even reply, though I gave him 14 days within which to reply,” he stated.
On the legitimate processes of disposing the recovered properties, he said, “The best way is to first, publish the properties to be sold in national dailies by way of advertorial. The government should buy space in about six national newspapers with sensitivity to different areas of the country.

It should publish the entire properties to be sold and also the total sum in different currencies so far recovered; where the money is quarantined - if it is in any commercial bank, kept in the Central Bank of Nigeria or governed by TSA. And if any part of the money has been used, who gave the authority to do so? Was it budgeted for, was it appropriated by the National Assembly or the government simply dipped its hand in the treasury and used it?

The government should also publish list of those the monies were recovered from and how much was recovered from each of them.

“The same rule goes for properties. The list should be in national dailies so that the whole world will read it. We should know the people the government wants to sell the properties to, and the conditions for sale. The government should let us know what its wants to use the proceeds for. In fact, such proceeds should go to National Revenue Fund to be distributed under Section 162 of the constitution, to the three tiers of government.”

Ilorin, Kwara State-based lawyer, Mallam Yusuf Ali, counselled the Federal Government to ensure that there are proper guidelines and rules on how to sell off the properties. 

According to him, “there has to be proper rules in place to ensure that there is absolute transparency to avoid under valuation of the properties,” he said, adding that it is not necessary to publish names of the owners of those properties because their new buyers would eventually know them. 

He continued: “There will be documents after all the transactions, so I don’t think it is right to start advertising the names of their former owners. Under the EFCC Act, there are provisions for final forfeiture of assets. When they start investigations, they will go with an ex-parte motion to ask for interim forfeiture, which would be made absolute.

So, that must take place before the government can dispose of any asset. Again, it is not proper to publish names of the owners of those properties because not many of the owners of forfeited assets are convicted...,” he said.

However, the immediate past General Secretary of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mazi Afam Osigwe, disagrees with the manner, which the assets were being recovered, querying the powers of the courts to make final forfeiture orders on properties of suspects not convicted of any crime. 

“I have always had my reservations about the way that the EFCC goes about the recovery of the assets. Unless where a fellow unilaterally surrenders an asset, I doubt whether the court can make final forfeiture order without conviction. 

“My understanding of the law is that there needs to be a conviction. Looking at sections 20 (1), 21, 24, 25, 29 and 30 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Act 2004 and Section 44(2) (k) of the constitution, forfeiture of assets is temporary pending investigation or enquiry. The law says that the court should grant interim order of forfeiture. Section 30 of the EFCC Act says after the person has been convicted by the court before it can make final forfeiture order. 

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
Everyday, Nigeria loses about 575 newborn babies, who are mainly within their first week of life. These deaths represent a quarter of the total 2, 300 under-five deaths that occur daily in the country.
These rising deaths have succeeded in pitching the country, in the 11th position on newborn deaths globally, as revealed by a new report by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Consequently, the UNICEF is calling for urgent intervention against newborn deaths through access to well trained nurses and midwives.

According to the report, newborn mortality rate for low-income countries such as Nigeria is 29 deaths per 1,000 live births. Although, a recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by the Federal Government in 2016/17 gives the country’s rate as 37 deaths per 1,000 births. 

A report from the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) indicates that about 5.3 million children are born in Nigeria yearly, which is about 11,000 everyday. Out of these, about one million die annually (or 2,300 daily) before age five. A quarter of these U-5 deaths occur during the first week of the child’s life.

Reacting to this, Country Project Manager, USAID Fistula Project, Chief Iyeme Efem, said delay in receiving emergency obstetric care is responsible for many of these deaths.

According to him: “Many health facilities are not properly equipped to manage emergency situations. Also, there are no appropriate staff required to manage women in labour. Apart from this, there is the poor health seeking behaviour of the people.  Many people don’t seek care until it’s too late, and when they do, they don’t go to the appropriate places.”

Efem explained that there are three delays responsible for lack of prompt access to healthcare. “The first delay happens at home when the woman delays in taking the decision to seek medicare. The second delay happens in transit either due to lack of good road network or transportation. The third delay happens at the hospital- the time it takes to get the health care professional to arrive and attend to the woman in labour. The third delay bothers on availability of skilled health professionals,” he said.

Another limitation, he said, is the lack of death audit, which could have helped provide accurate data and insight on the deaths.  “Unfortunately we do not have a death audit in Nigerian hospitals, except at the teaching hospitals. Because we do not have this death audit, we are not able to tell the reason for the deaths. 

“Also, governments are failing in their responsibilities to provide adequate health care for the people. There is need for more funding of the health sector, just as there is the need to reinforce the monitoring of hospitals to ensure that they are rid of quacks,” Efem, added. 

In order to avoid prolonged labour, which has caused many women to have still birth and develop fistula, the country project manager advised women to always attend antenatal care, go to hospital on time during labour, and chose elective Ceaserian section when needed.

In the same vein, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mamaye Evidence for Action, said infant and neonatal deaths can be prevented when women receive proper maternal care from skilled providers during pregnancy, at the time of delivery and shortly after birth.

Laide Shokunbi, the group’s media advisor, canvassed more support from the Federal Government to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths in the country.

“Our health facilities should be well-equipped and they should also have skilled healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, and midwives,’’ he said.

Also, the Project Director, Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS), Akin Jimoh, said there is need for increased sensitisation on how to achieve good maternal, newborn and child health.

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
Still basking in the euphoria of their win over AS Real Bamako in the CAF Champions League qualifying round, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Football Club (MFM FC) Coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu, says further successes await his team.
This is as his side clashes with Lobi Stars Football Club of Makurdi, today.

The Olukoya Boys are currently placed 11th on the log, with 12 points, while their opponents- Ortom Boys, have 13 points and are sixth on the table.

Today’s game slated for the Soccer Temple, Agege Stadium, is one that fans of MFM are looking forward to with expectations.They particularly want to see youthful Abayomi Lawal, who troubled the Malians, give them something to cheer in the Match Day 10 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Ilechukwu said victory is what the team expects against their opponent in today’s game. He added that the boys look forward to securing the three maximum points at stake.

“We expect success in tomorrow’s match and the three maximum points is surely ours come tomorrow.

“I know fans will be hoping to see Abayomi start in tomorrow’s game as a result of what he put up in the CAF Champions League match against Real Bamako on Wednesday. I am yet to make up my mind about that, but I am certain he will play against Lobi in tomorrow’s clash,” he said.

Ilechukwu, however, expressed doubt over the availability of goalkeeper, Ospino Egbe, who sustained an injury during the Champions League match.

“Our goalkeeper, Ospino will be out of tomorrow’s game against Lobi Stars. He is out with an injury, and definitely ruled him out of tomorrow’s game.

“Also, goalkeeper Folarin Abayomi, may not also feature in tomorrow’s game as we await the doctor’s report to confirm his availablility or not,” he said.

He expressed optimism that even though the encounter promises to be a tough one, his lads would emerge tops.

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
Troops in Borno killed five Boko Haram insurgents and captured a top commander of the group in the ongoing operation in Sambisa Forest and the Lake Chad basin.
Col. Onyeama Nwachukwu, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations of Operation Lafiya Dole, in a statement in Maiduguri, said troops also rescued three civilians, recovered vehicles and high calibre ammunition in various operations in the past two days.

Nwachukwu said on Thursday, the troops engaged and neutralised a number of fleeing insurgents while attempting to escape the military blocking position in one of the cleared enclaves ‘Sabil-Huda’, deep in Sambisa Forest.

He said that the troops also recovered one G-III rifle magazine, one life jacket, a light Machine Gun metal link, four rounds of Anti-Aircraft ammunition, four rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition and three rounds of 7.62mm (Special) ammunition.

“Unfortunately, two soldiers were injured in the process; they had been evacuated by the Nigerian Air Force and are responding to treatment,” he said.

Nwachukwu said that the troops on Friday launched offensive targeting a terrorist’s hideouts up ‘CAMP ZAIRO’, and neutralized a number of insurgents in spite of initial damaged caused to their Armoured Fighting Vehicle by Improvise Explosive Device (IED) planted beneath the ground.

He said that the troops killed five insurgents; several others wounded and recovered ammunition at a hideout in Parisu, Sambisa Forest.

Nwachukwu disclosed that troops of 151 Battalion in conjunction with “7 Division Support Group’ had also cleared nine terrorists’ hideouts along Frigi-Izza area.

The director added that the troops also recovered one motorcycle, two bicycles, 10 bicycle tyres, one bicycle, three Boko Haram flags, a solar panel, five drums filled with grain, two mattresses, two grinding machines, three bags of metal scraps, two motorcycle tyres and two underground grain silos.

Also recovered are one AK-47 Rifle Magazine, 1 dummy rifle, a round of 12.7mm ammunition, 12 empty cases of 7.62mm ammunition, assorted IED materials and a tool box.

According to him, the Air Task Force of Operation LAFIYA DOLE provided air cover for the land troops in the conduct of the operations.

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
Ahead the international conference on cassava, the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) has called on policy makers, donors and international community to support all efforts that will bring about cassava transformation in Africa.
This is coming at a time when cassava is becoming central to food security of over 600 million people in the developing world, and has become the fourth most important crop after maize, wheat and rice.
Presenting the upcoming conference to donors and international community in Cotonou, Director of GCP21, Dr. Claude Fauquet said despite the key role cassava is playing in Africa’s food security; its productivity had remained low, keeping the growers in the trap of poverty.

“When compared to Asia, cassava productivity in that continent is more than 21 tons per ha—a situation that gives Asia competitive advantage in global cassava trade. Addressing the yield gap demands more funding for cassava research and development (R&D) from all stakeholders, if truly the world wants to help farmers towards ending hunger and poverty in Africa.”
Fauquet said the conference scheduled for June 11-15, 2018 in Cotonou, Benin Republic with the theme: “Cassava Transformation in Africa,” is one of the ways the GCP21 is contributing towards the transformation of the root crop.
He called for participation of all stakeholders, emphasising that the conference would provide a unique opportunity for donors, investors, and policy makers to see and access the latest innovations and discoveries in the cassava sector.
The French Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Veronique Brumeaux, who hosted the press conference, said it was timely and would go a long way to address the constraints of cassava production, while at the same time proffering opportunities for investors and farmers alike to harness new innovations from the research community.

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)-developed crop protection and treatment product, AFLASAFE, is going commercial following the successes recorded on full field trials nationwide.
This has been found to greatly reduce rejection of the nation’s agricultural produce intended for export, especially groundnut and maize. As a result, Harvestfield Industries, a private sector partner has been selected for its commercialisation in Nigeria.

The company has commenced a programme to show farmers how to apply the product for effective control of Aflatoxin in maize and groundnut.

A total of seven technical teams were constituted comprising of scientists from IITA, Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA), National Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), Partnership For Aflatoxin Control In Africa (PACA) and also involving Agricultural Extension Officers from states and council areas in the six geo-political regions of the country.

Agricultural produce are mostly contaminated with Aflatoxins, which are poisonous chemicals produced by certain mold fungi (Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus). These fungi resides in the soil and prevalent in the environment. Aflatoxins’ cause diseases such as cancer, hepatitis, stuntness, and suppression of human immunity, low productivity and high mortality rates in livestock and poultry.

Maize and groundnuts are infected on the field before and/or after harvest. Any produce or product that contains above 14PPb of Aflatoxins are considered dangerous for human and livestock consumption and therefore, rejected.

AFLASAFE is available for purchase at all the 18 field offices of Harvestfield and at Greenhouses (Super Warehouse) of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, located in all the states.

This farmers’ sensitisation exercise on how to apply AFLASAFE is being organised in maize and or groundnut growing selected 100 communities with a target of training minimum of 100 farmers per location.

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
Local council election slated for May 12, this year, by the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC), has triggered both intra and inter party schemings. Since Governor Abiola Ajimobi came to power in 2011, this will be the first council poll to be conducted in the state. The last time residents of the state had [] 

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
Unless frantic efforts are taken by the Federal Government and other stakeholders in the Agric sector to forestall the imminent food crisis this year, as predicted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), its outcome might further add to the situation, which is already dire. The report, released late last year, projected that about 4.8 [] 

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
These facts about Senator Abdullahi Adamu are obvious: He represents Nassarawa West Senatorial District in the Senate. He was born on April 23, 1946. He was 46 years when he graduated from an evening (part-time) degree programme of the University of Jos in law. He served as governor of Nassarawa State for two terms. He [] 

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
Prof. Lai Olurode is a former national commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In this interview with LEO SOBECHI, he examines the implications of the new order of elections and ability of the commission to deliver on its mandate. Can INEC grapple with monitoring campaign expenditure of candidates and parties even when it says [] 

Sun, 25 Feb 2018
September 1.At Salah, Buhari tasks corps members on national unity. President Muhammadu Buhari performed 2017 Eid-el-Kabir prayers in his home town, Daura, Katsina state. Buhari said NYSC scheme over the years continued to pursue the purpose of integrating the country, noting that diversity of cultures remained Nigeria's greatest strength. September 2. Air Force jets kill [] 
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