NIGERIA NEWSPAPERS: Today's Thisday Newspaper Headlines [14 March, 2018].

Below are the headlines found on Thisday Online Newspaper for today, Wednesday, 14 March, 2018.

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
With an eye on the 2019 elections, President Muhammadu Buhari has communicated his decision to the National Assembly to withhold his assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill, 2018, which is proposing a change to the sequencing of elections in the country.

Buhari conveyed his decision to veto the bill in separate letters addressed to Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, following which both leaders of the National Assembly read the letter at their respective plenaries Tuesday.
But as the news made the rounds of the president’s veto, lawmakers in both chambers immediately set in motion plans to override the veto.

A two-third vote of the National Assembly will be required to override the president’s veto.
Should two-thirds of the legislature vote in favour of the amendment bill, it will become law and binding on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which has the responsibility of determining timetables for elections in the country.

However, it was not all bad news for the executive arm of government, as the Senate Tuesday made a concession to suspend the consideration of nominees of the president, as it resolved to screen the deputy governors-designate and members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Senate said it decided to make the concession in order to ensure that the MPC forms the required quorum at its next meeting scheduled for March 19 and 20, having considered the importance of the body to the national economy.
In his letter to withhold his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, Buhari informed the legislature that the amendment to Section 25 of the Principal Act, which changes the order of general elections, might infringe on the discretion of INEC to organise and supervise elections.

Section 25 of the Principal Act was amended and substituted with a new Section 25(1) which provides that the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly elections (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election.
The amendment is expected to whittle down the bandwagon effect of the presidential election on other elections.
THISAY had exclusively reported that the amendment did not go down well with the presidency, as there were concerns that the amendment was targeted at weakening Buhari at the 2019 polls.
The amendment has also caused discomfort at INEC, as the electoral body had already scheduled the presidential and National Assembly elections for February 16, 2019 while the state assemblies and governorship elections had been slated for March 2, 2019.

Accordingly, Buhari, in his letter dated March 8, 2018, said: “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision, on 3rd March 2018, to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.
“Some of my reasons include the following: the amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the Principal Act, may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission to organise, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution;
“The amendment to Section 138 of the Principal Act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates, unduly limits the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process; and

“The amendment to Section 152(3)-(5) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.”
But THISDAY gathered that several lawmakers were already aware of the presidential veto by the early hours of Tuesday, and commenced in earnest to ensure that they get the necessary votes to override the veto.

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
There appears to be no let up in the gruesome bloodletting in the Benue-Plateau region in North-central Nigeria, as yet another 25 persons were reportedly killed in the wee hours of Tuesday in an attack on Dundu village in the Kwal District of Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.

Confirming the attack, the President of Irigwe Development Association (IDA), Hon. Sunday Abdu, said the suspected Fulani herdsmen swooped on the community Monday night and raided it for hours, leaving at least 25 persons dead in the aftermath.

While the 25 were being buried in a mass grave in the village, Abdu said the search for bodies was still ongoing since some of the residents who tried to escape the bloody raid were killed in the surrounding bushes and may not have been discovered yet.

Also confirming the killings, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Tyopev Terna, placed the death toll from the latest attack at 25, adding that his men were drafted to the village to take charge of the situation.
But the spokesman of the military Special Task Force (STF) on Security in the state, Major Umar, had initially said eight persons were shot at, adding that seven died on the spot while the eighth victim who was rushed to the hospital eventually died, bringing the fatalities to eight.

Umar, however, called back Tuesday to say that the death toll had risen from eight to 21.
He also said that when the STF received a distress call concerning the attack, they quickly drafted soldiers to rescue the villagers, but the assailants had fled before they got there.

He added that the Dundu terrain was a very difficult one, spanning over 11 kilometres from the village.
Rev. Jerry Datim, a local cleric who conducted the mass burial, said the bodies brought for burial were 25, and lamented that the state government had abandoned the villagers to their fate.

He was critical of the state governor, Simon Lalong, saying that while the latter was making merry with President Muhammadu Buhari during the president’s visit, suspected Fulani raiders were killing more people in the villages.
He called on the state government to stop giving false reports on the existing peace in the state when the reverse was the case.
Meanwhile, a mass burial for about 10 other persons who were recently slain in Miango village had been slated for Tuesday before the latest killings. Miango is a stone throw from Dundu.

At the burial in Miango, Abdu, who was grief-stricken, lamented that no one had come to the villagers’ aid.
He said: “In continuation of their avowed determination to eliminate the Irigwe race, the Fulani herdsmen have continuously unleashed mayhem on communities, killing, maiming, burning, and destroying farmlands.
“Since January this year, we have picked the corpses of our loved ones, some burnt beyond recognition from night attacks by militia Fulani herdsmen; some killed in their homes, some on their farms, and others on their way home from places of leisure or business.”

Abdu said the murders, which have continued unhindered, have left in their wake sorrow, tears and despair in Irigwe land.
He said it has also left the people homeless and hopeless, as they leave in droves daily to seek refuge in Jos, the state capital, and its environs.
He went on to excoriate Lalong, the Plateau State Government and other stakeholders for downplaying the menace of herdsmen in the state.

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
Zenith Bank Plc on Monday released its full year 2017 results with numbers that clearly affirmed its position as the largest Tier-1 bank in the country.
The bank’s audited accounts presented to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) showed that its gross earnings rose by 47 per cent from N508 billion in 2016 to N745.19 billion in 2017.

The results further revealed that Zenith’s profit before tax (PBT) and profit after tax (PAT) witnessed an impressive growth of 30 per cent and 37 per cent year-on-year respectively, to N203.46 billion and N177.93 billion, up from NN156.75 billion and N129.7 billion respectively.

Zenith Bank also demonstrated its ability to take the right actions and make the right choices in its assets and liability management strategies culminating in a 23 per cent increase in interest income from N384.6 billion in 2016 to N474.6 billion for the year ending December 31, 2017.
Its audited results also showed that the bank posted an asset base of N5.6 trillion, an increase of 18 per cent over the N4.74 trillion recorded for the same period in 2016.

A careful analysis of the results showed that the bank was able to strategically switch assets in favour of high yielding asset classes and was also able to optimally price its assets and liabilities in a high yield environment.
Accordingly, non-interest income also jumped by 119 per cent from N123.4 billion as at December 2016 to N270.6 billion driven by the bank’s ability to take advantage of its strong foreign currency liquidity to generate income.

Commenting on the results, market analysts said this was a show of resilience and demonstration of the ability of the bank to innovate and create impressive value from the resources available to it.
“We note further that Zenith achieved this excellent financial performance, despite adopting a very conservative approach to recognising potential losses in its risk asset portfolio,” one analyst said.

Zenith Bank has continued to maintain a solid and high-quality capital position with a capital adequacy ratio at 27 per cent, well above the statutory requirement of 15 per cent, effectively providing room for further growth and strong and consistent dividend payout.

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
United States President Donald Trump has sacked the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and immediately replaced him with the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mike Pompeo.
The president also nominated Gina Haspel to become the first woman director of the CIA.

Tillerson’s sack was announced less than 24 hours after he departed Nigeria’s capital Abuja, following his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
His meeting with Buhari was the final leg of his five-nation African tour that saw him visit Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria.

Thanking Tillerson for his service on Twitter Tuesday, Trump said the new secretary would do “a fantastic job”.
“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!” Trump said on Twitter.

Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the job just over a year ago.
Trump sacked Tillerson when he had barely touched down in the U.S. after his tour of Africa, in which he pledged U.S. support for nations, such as Nigeria and Chad, fighting terrorism.

His sack was linked to his recent criticism of Russia and a series of public rifts with Trump.
Reporters for U.S. media outlets, including the Washington Post and CNN, however, said Tuesday that Tillerson was actually fired on Friday – the day he visited Djibouti and Kenya.

He then cancelled some of his activities in Kenya the following day, saying he felt unwell.
On Monday, Tillerson said he agreed with Britain’s assessment that Russia was likely to be responsible for the poisoning in Britain of a Russian double agent and that those involved must be punished.
But his words weren’t matched by the White House.
In recent months, Trump and Tillerson have had several public disagreements, specifically over how to deal with North Korea.

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
President Muhammadu Buharion Tuesday sacked Brigadier-General Paul Boroh (rtd) as the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and replaced him with Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo.

A statement by Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, said Dokubo is currently the Director of Research and Studies at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).
Adesina who said Dokubo obtained PhD in Strategic Studies from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom, added that the academic hailed from Abonema, Akuku-Toru Local Government of Rivers State.

He also said the president had instructed the National Security Adviser (NSA) to carry out a thorough investigation into the activities of the Amnesty Programme from 2015 till date, especially allegations of financial impropriety and other acts which he said were alleged to be detrimental to the objectives of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

Also yesterday, the president announced his plan to inaugurate National Food Security Council to be chaired by him and listed other prospective members of the council to include ministers, governors, members of security agencies and key stakeholders in agriculture.

Buhari who made this disclosure while addressing stakeholders in rice value chain in the Presidential Villa, added that the recurrent clashes between herders and farmers had shown that Nigeria’s food security had a direct link with its security objectives.

Pledging that the administration was committed to ensuring that Nigeria feeds itself, the president added that he would await proposal from the stakeholders and wished all farmers what he described as fruitful wet season.

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
Royal Dutch Shell and Eni have voluntarily filed to the United States authorities internal probes into how they acquired Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245 in Nigeria, as the companies seek to fight corruption allegations in Europe and Nigeria.

This is just as the federal government said yesterday it will begin cutting the sulphur levels allowed in imported fuels from July, a year after West African countries promised higher quality fuels by July 2017, as part of a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) campaign that only Ghana has met.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) also announced yesterday that it will start the overhaul of the refineries in the second quarter of 2018, having reached the final stages of talks with consortia including top traders, energy majors and oil services companies on the revamp of its long-neglected oil refineries.

Though Shell and Eni’s filings to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) do not mean that American authorities are investigating Shell or Eni, the move shows the companies are trying to preempt questions from the United States.

The two oil giants are facing one of the oil industry’s biggest-ever graft trials in Italy, to begin in May in Milan, a pending trial in Nigeria and an investigation in the Netherlands.
The case revolves around the $1.3 billion purchase of the giant OPL 245 from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, which holds an estimated 9 billion barrels in reserves.

Italian prosecutors allege that bribes were paid in an effort to secure rights to the block in 2011.
A number of top executives from both companies – including Eni’s Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi and former Shell Foundation Chairman, Malcolm Brinded – will face trial.

Under Italian law, a company can be held responsible if it is deemed to have failed to prevent, or attempt to prevent, a crime by an employee that benefited the company.
Both companies’ shares are traded on U.S. stock exchanges, putting their foreign dealings in the scope of U.S. authorities.

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
James Emejo in Abuja The House of Representatives has finally pardoned the former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, who was suspended for 180 legislative days over the budget padding controversy which rocked the lower chamber in 2016. The Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday said Jibrin can now [] 

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
Tobi Soniyi in Lagos The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has rejected the plan by the National Pension Commission (PenCom) to cancel the procurement process for the building of a Pension Administration System (PAS) estimated to cost N3.9 billion. BPP has also warned the commission to be prepared to bear the consequences of further delaying [] 

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
Hammed Shittu in Ilorin Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, yesterday signed into law an amended bill stopping payment of pension to former governors and deputy governors during any period they hold political or public office. The bill forwarded to the state House of Assembly by Ahmed, sought review of the existing law where payment [] 

Wed, 14 Mar 2018
Funmi Ogundare The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Tuesday released the results of the 2018 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for private candidates, first in the series where it recorded a total of 1,937 candidates, representing 17.13 per cent, obtaining the minimum credit in five subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics. [] 
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