LCCI decries lack of value in non-oil exports


The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has charged local exporters to get discouraged from the practice of exporting primary products outside the shores of Nigeria without adding any value addition to the development of the nation’s non-oil sector of the economy.

Its national President, Dr. Nike Akande, who made this known at her opening remarks at the Chamber’s symposium on non-oil exports in Lagos yesterday, stated that it was time for the country’s nonexport sector be given a place of priority by the Organised Private Sector and the Federal Government in order to deliver the desired value chain addition to the ailing economy.

Cultists fight over girls, vandalise vehicles


Youths suspected to be cult members yesterday went on the rampage and vandalised vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles parked on the streets as well as shops at Agbado Station, a community in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State.

Members of the rival cult groups used dangerous weapons such as broken bottles, machetes and charms against one another. Property and goods worth millions of naira were destroyed by the cultists. It was learnt that the cult groups – Marindoti Boys, Farm Boys, Federal Boys and Bolar Boys – were fighting over girls.

The crisis started last week when a clash broke out in the community in which property and goods were destroyed by the rampaging cultists. No life was lost but some residents sustained various degrees of injury while trying to escape being caught in the crossfire.

T he cult members, it was learnt, used the opportunity of the clash to loot shop and houses. When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said he was not aware of the incident. He said: “I will find out from the Divisional Police Officer in charge the area and get back to you.” However, Oyeyemi did not call back at press time.

Drama at unions boo VC at valedictory service


There was a mild drama at the inauguration of the new Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Prof Joseph Adeola Fuwape Wednesday as various unions booed the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Adebiyi Daramola.
The non teaching staff under the auspices of Joint Action Congress (JAC) comprising the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academics Technologists (NAAT) and Non Academic Staff Unions (NASU) who were clearly in the majority booed Prof Daramola throughout the proceeding.
In fact, the valedictory speech of Prof Daramola was disrupted by the noise of the non-teaching staff who were making uncomplimentary remarks about him by the aggrieved staff who had been at loggerheads with the management for the past seven months.
However, the local branch of the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU) and students present at the ceremony hailed Daramola.
As Prof Daramola was reading his prepared text, the booing staff told him to go and leave the campus as his tenure had expired.
However, Daramola said he bore no grudge about the way he was treated as he was leaving the institution better than the way he met it.


Court assumes jurisdiction in INEC official’s trial over N30m bribery allegation


Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos has assumed jurisdiction in the trial of an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Christian Nwosu, who was accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of receiving the sum of N30 million from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, to compromise the 2015 general elections.
Nwosu had earlier admitted collecting the money in a plea bargain arrangement he had with the anti-graft agency.
However, he had to back out following the rejection of the terms of agreement by the judge.
He was subsequently re-arraigned alongside another INEC official, Tijani Bashir, on an amended charge by the EFCC. They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Following their re-arraignment, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged Justice Idris to transfer the case file to the Chief Judge of the court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for re-assignment to another judge.
According to him, it is trite that a judge who had heard and rejected a plea bargain agreement of a defendant can no longer preside over the matter in the event that the defendant decide to change his plea.

Messi loses appeal in tax fraud trial


Spain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi and stood by a Catalan regional court’s 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud, court documents showed.
The five-times World Player of the Year is unlikely to go to prison, however.
Messi and his father Jorge were found guilty by a Catalan court last July on three counts of tax fraud between 2007 and 2009 to the tune of 4.1 million euros on image rights and were also fined 2 million euros ($2.24 million).
The court reduced Jorge Messi’s sentence from 21 months to 15, however, for returning the defrauded amount to Spain’s tax authority.
Neither Messi nor his father are expected to serve time in jail, as under Spanish law sentences under two years can be served under probation.
A court statement said Messi “unequivocally understood his obligation to pay tax on income obtained from exploiting his image rights…therefore it is not logical that he should ignore his duty to pay tax on them”.
The Supreme Court’s ruling brings an end to a case which began in 2013.
Messi, 29, and his father defrauded the Spanish tax office of 4.1 million euros between 2007 and 2009 by using a web of shell companies based in Belize, Switzerland and Uruguay to evade taxes on income from the player’s image rights.
Messi, who has won eight La Liga titles, four King’s Cups and four Champions League crowns with Barcelona, finished top scorer in Spain this season with 37 league goals, reports Reuters.
He is set to play in the King’s Cup final next Saturday in Madrid, the last game of the domestic season.
Messi is Barcelona’s all-time top scorer and their highest paid player. He is expected to sign a new contract with the Catalan club later this summer, with his current deal expiring in June 2018.
Messi’s lawyer was not available for comment.
Barcelona, who last year released a statement in support of Messi following his guilty sentence and launched a campaign in support of him on social media, have not yet commented on the Supreme Court’s decision.

Essrayri to take charge of Eagles, Bafana clash

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has appointed Tunisian arbiter, Youssef Essrayri as the referee for next month’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Uyo.
Essrayri, 40, who became an international referee five years ago, will be assisted by compatriots Yamen Melloulchi (Assistant Referee 1), Hassen Abdelali (Assistant Referee 2) and Said Mohamed Kordi (Fourth Official).
The Match Commissioner is Andy Quamie from Liberia and Kotey Alexander Neequaye from Ghana will be referee assessor.
The encounter at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo on Saturday, June 10 will open the curtain on the qualifying race in Group E for Cameroon 2019, with only the group winners guaranteed slots at the finals. Libya and Seychelles are the other teams in the pool.
Meanwhile, the Super Eagles had their first training session in Ajaccio on Wednesday morning, ahead of Friday’s friendly match against the Corsica Senior Team at the Stade Francois Coty.
Expected at the team’s Best Western Hotel camp by Wednesday night are Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Mikel Agu and Abdullahi Shehu.
An interesting game is at hand for the three-time African champions, against a team that has only lost once in the nine matches it has played since forming a squad in 1967.
The only defeat the Corsica Senior Team has suffered was a 0-1 reverse to the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in a friendly in Bastia on May 14, 1998. The Lions were then preparing for the 1998 FIFA World Cup finals in France.
The only time Corsica had played 1998 FIFA World Cup champions France was in February 1967, and the former won 2-0.

Ondo Assembly: Defection depletes PDP, hands APC majority position

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken control of the Ondo State House of Assembly, following the defection of 13 lawmakers elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling party, Babatope Okeowo reports

With the defection of additional five members of the Ondo State House of Assembly elected under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party now controls the legislative arm of government in the Sunshine State.

The APC which started with five members out of the 26 member-Assembly now has 18 members leaving the PDP, which had 21members with eight members. Out of the remaining eight, there are strong indications that more would still dump the PDP for the ruling APC.

The need for the APC to completely take over the politics of the state since assumption of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as governor has really paid off with the wave of defection into his party.

The APC, which had used the judiciary to sack chairmen and councilors of local government areas in the state and in their place, appointed its members as caretaker chairmen, has used defection to take over the House of Assembly. But the question in the minds of the people is whether the governor needs to control the Assembly in order to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.

While some argued that the governor needs loyalty of the legislative arm of government, others said the governor would get his bills passed without resistance from the lawmakers even without majority in the Assembly.

The wave of defection, which started with the Speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun and his Deputy, Ogundeji Iroju has now caught with other legislators who were elected under the platform of the former ruling party in the country.

Although there been movement of lawmakers from one party to another, the gale of defection going on in the House of Assembly is unprecedented in the annals of the politics of the state.

The defection of the lawmakers in the present political dispensation began in 2009, when Dr. Olusegun Mimiko became governor following the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin. Before Mimiko’s coming, PDP had 16 members while the Labour Party (LP) had 10. In order to have majority, the then Speaker Taofiq Olawale Abdulsalam and his Deputy, Mayowa Akinfolarin were impeached in a controversial manner.

They  were replaced with Late Samuel Adesina and Francis Emiola. Some members of the Assembly had to defect to the LP in order to give the governor’s party the upper hand in the Assembly.

Those who ensured the success of the Assembly putsch were rewarded with return tickets to the Assembly in the 2011 elections. A similar scenario played out after the PDP lost the November 2016 governorship election.

Those who wanted to take control of the leadership of the Assembly rebelled against the leadership of the PDP in the state even before Mimiko completed his tenure.

Eight members of the PDP teamed up with five members of the APC and made the Assembly ungovernable for the speaker and her deputy, Princess Jumoke Akindele and Fatai Olotu, respectively.

The Assembly complex was under lock and key until Mimiko completed his tenure.

With the coming of Akeredolu as governor, the new APC government saw allies in the eight members of the PDP and quickly took over the control of the House.

The Assembly which had been under lock and key was reopened.

With the resignation of Akindele as speaker, Coker who was the factional speaker presided at the plenary.

He eventually resigned to pave way for the emergence of Oleyeloogun as speaker. The first assignment the new speaker and his deputy performed was their defection to the APC.

Their defection paved way for the next wave of defections.

In one swoop, five PDP lawmakers including the immediate past deputy speaker, Fatai Olotu (Akoko North East), Akinyele Fasogbon (Odigbo 2), Kuti Towase (Akoko South East), Bimbo Fajolu (Ileoluji/ Okeigbo) and Tuyi Akintimehin (Idanre) dumped the PDP for the APC. With the defection of the five lawmakers, the APC now has 18 members, while PDP has been reduced to eight members.

This gives the ruling party the twothird majority needed to make any decision in the House of Assembly.

The latest defection has brought to 13 the number of PDP members of the House of Assembly, who have defected to the ruling party since the inauguration of Akeredolu as governor. Earlier, four members of the Assembly including the newly elected speaker, Oleyeloogun had dumped the PDP. Others who defected with him to the APC include Iroju Ogundeji (Odigbo), Ayodeji Arowele (Owo) and Segun Ajimotokin (Irele).

Just last week, the gale of defections caught with Olumide Araoyinbo, (Akoko Northwest) Prince Abayomi Akinruntan (Ilaje 11) and Malachi Coker (Ilaje 1).

Those rumoured to also be on their way to the governing party include Kemi Adesanya (Akure South 11) and Olamide George (Akure North).

If their defection materialises, APC would have 20 members, while PDP would be left with six members. Interestingly, each of the defecting lawmakers had one excuse or the order for dumping their erstwhile party.

For instance, Oleyeloogun said he decided to join the APC in order to join Governor Akeredolu to move the state forward. Akinruntan, who is the son of the Paramount Ruler of Ugbo Kingdom, Oba Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan, hinged his defection to APC on the proposed construction of the road linking his constituency in Ilaje with Lagos State by the APC government.

Coker, who is also from the same local government, said the plan to reactive the Olokola Free Trade Zone by the Akeredolu government was his motivating factor.

Speaking on behalf of the latest defectors, Olotu, who was the immediate past deputy speaker, said he and his colleagues were fascinated by the way Akeredolu has been governing the state since he assumed office since February 24.

They said they would add value to the APC and would join hands with the governor to move the state forward.

“We have come to the party in the best interest of our people. We are ready to support Akeredolu’s administration,” he said, while commending the governor for his intervention during the Assembly crisis, saying that for his intervention, the House of Assembly would not have remained one.

Unlike before when the lawmakers were “bought over,” government sources said the defections were not motivated by monetary gains even as none of them was promised second or third term ticket to return to the Assembly. A top APC chieftain said Akeredolu refused to promise them return tickets.

According to the source, the governor told the lawmakers to wait for the next congress of the party, where they could get sizable number of delegates who can ensure their return tickets to the Assembly.

The source added that Akeredolu’s refusal to promise them automatic return tickets is responsible for the delay in the defection of the remaining few to the APC.

Welcoming the lawmakers into the party, the Deputy Chairman of the APC in the state, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, congratulated the ex-PDP lawmakers for choosing to dump the “sinking PDP ship” for the APC.

He expressed optimism that more PDP lawmakers will join the APC, while assuring the new members that the party would give them a level playing ground.

On his own part, Governor Akeredolu praised the courage of the lawmakers for taking the right decision in joining the APC without being induced.

The governor said the step taken by the five lawmakers and their supporters showed their readiness to contribute their own quota to the development of the state. Akeredolu said he was ready to work with all the members of the House of Assembly towards a warm executive-legislature relationship for the progress of the state.

The governor pleaded with members of the APC and the people of the state to be patient with his administration as things would gradually take shape.

However, a lawmaker representing Ondo East constituency, Siji Akindiose, said there was no need for the defection of the PDP lawmakers if the purpose of their election was to serve the people of their constituencies.

Akindiose said the lawmakers had met with the governor severally and assured him of a good working relationship.

He said the defection of members would not have effect on their performance as legislators.

His words: “We are there to work for the people of Ondo State. When we get to the gate of the Assembly, we drop the political toga.

The governor does not need the majority to work for the people of the state.

We are ready to work with him.

There is nothing to jump from one political party to another about. The recent carpet crossing is one feature of democracy will not turn Nigeria to one party state.

It shows that we take advantage of our constituents, our constituencies are not happy with carpet crossing.

The balance of the situation is that one has the right to take decision and bear the consequences of their action because every step you take today will form part of your testimonial for tomorrow.”

The PDP, through its Director of Publicity, Mr. Ayo Fadaka, described as regrettable the attitude of the lawmakers, who despite the efforts of the party in order to ensure their emergence, still dumped it.

His words: “We take very serious view of the dishonorable attitude of these guys who found it so convenient to dump our Party for the APC.

This action of theirs is a testimonial of their unreliability, integrity and poor understanding of what representative politics entails.

All of them that left our Party for the APC do so not because they were propelled by principle or even the usual excuse of crisis in the Party but for the love of lucre and inadequate focus, they are mere bread and butter politicians.”