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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigeria Remains Committed to Scaling Up Social Investment Programmes, Says Fagbemi

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Fagbemi SAN

The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to expanding social investment programmes to provide Nigerians with livelihood support, thereby immunising them against human trafficking.

The plan was revealed on Monday in Abuja by Chief Lateef Fagbemi, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, at the 26th National Stakeholders Consultative Forum on Human Trafficking.

He stated, “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government recognises that addressing poverty and underdevelopment is critical to preventing human trafficking. Investing in people, particularly young people and the disadvantaged, alleviates the desperation that leads to exploitation abroad.”

He went on to say, “The government remains committed to scaling social investment programmes to provide livelihood support and deter potential victims from falling prey to traffickers.”

He stated, “The National Stakeholders Consultative Forum on Human Trafficking, established by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), serves as an important strategic coordination body. It promotes dialogue and collaboration among relevant stakeholders at both the federal and sub-national levels, allowing for the development of plans, the review of strategies, and the exchange of information on various approaches to combating human trafficking in Nigeria.

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Investing in people, particularly young people and the underprivileged, reduces the desperation that leads to exploitation abroad.” The complexities of Nigeria’s counter-human trafficking efforts stem from the country’s social fabric and the crime’s transnational nature.

“Traffickers exploit people’s vulnerabilities, using poverty, a lack of education, and unemployment to entice their victims with promises of a better life. The porous nature of our borders, combined with these criminals’ sophisticated networks, makes combating this threat even more difficult.”

Fagbemi expressed regret that “Nigeria, with its rich cultures and peoples, unfortunately serves as a source, transit, and destination country for victims of human trafficking.” This threat has caused significant damage to Nigeria’s reputation and profile in the international community. The statistics paint a bleak picture, but behind each figure are the stories of those whose freedom and dignity have been shattered. Despite these challenges, hope persists, and we must reverse this ugly trend.

He did, however, acknowledge Nigeria’s outstanding efforts in operating a unique counter-trafficking model, which other African countries have emulated. Nigeria has demonstrated its commitments not only through a high number of convictions, but also by successfully rescuing and rehabilitating thousands of victims, as well as strategic preventive measures.”

He admitted that the fight against human trafficking cannot be carried out by a single agency or branch of government, but rather requires a collaborative effort involving civil society, the private sector, international organisations, communities, and the general public.

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He stated, “I therefore call upon everyone to join hands in this critical fight.” This global threat necessitates a comprehensive and meaningful response at all levels. As a result, cooperation, communication, and information sharing with our international partners are critical in determining the timeliness and effectiveness of anti-human trafficking responses.”

The Justice Minister stated, “I am aware that the National Action Plan on Human Trafficking in Nigeria (2022-2026) specifies the roles of all actors.” I encourage everyone to not only read the document with a particular interest in the thematic areas covered by their respective mandates, but also to ensure effective implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting.

“Furthermore, in accordance with the current administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda and Presidential Priorities as they relate to the mandate of NAPTIP, I implore all stakeholders to work together to meet these priorities. “Furthermore, in accordance with the current administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda and Presidential Priorities as they relate to the mandate of NAPTIP, I implore all stakeholders to work together to meet these priorities.

Earlier, in her welcome remarks, the Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Prof Fatima Waziri – Azi, stated that since the last meeting in April 2022, a lot has been accomplished in the fight against human trafficking in the country, including:
“We have not just inched forward; we have charged ahead with determination. We have seen the incredible power of collaboration and the unwavering commitment of countless people who have banded together to combat the injustice of human trafficking. We achieved several firsts in 2023 as a result of these collaborative efforts.”

Waziri-Azi, who highlighted the agency’s numerous firsts in 2023, added, “We received and investigated 968 human trafficking complaints. There were 507 (68.1%) internal and 303 (31.9%) external trafficking complaints.

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“In terms of prosecution, 86 cases were filed in court and 67 convictions were obtained.

“We rescued, received, and supported 2112 victims (473 men and 1,639 women). Females accounted for 77.6% of all victims, with 43.4% being children.

Benue State had the most indigenes rescued in 2023, followed by Edo, Ondo, and Akwa Ibom.

“Rescued and received 47 victims of inward trafficking, primarily from West African countries.”

“We have already secured 14 convictions in 2024 and counting, with 243 cases pending in various courts across the country.”

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She stated that the agency has identified emerging trends and patterns in human trafficking for 2023 and that by 2024, “we are already seeing incremental cases of trafficking to Vietnam for labour exploitation.”

The DG stated, “We are grateful to the Swiss and Dutch governments, through UNODC, for making this two-day event possible.” Thank you to our partners ICMPD, Expertise France, IOM, and OHCRH for moderating sessions during this 2-day programme.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Gov. Sule Describes ACReSAL As Beacon Of Hope For Nigeria’s Agriculture Sector

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The Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project has been hailed as a beacon of hope for Nigeria’s agriculture sector and landscape restoration particularly in semi-arid regions like Nasarawa State.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the joint World Bank/FAO/FGN Hybrid Implementation Support Mission for the ACReSAL Project, Nasarawa State Governor, Engr. Sule Abdullahi A. Sule, represented by his deputy, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe, emphasised the significance of ACReSAL in addressing pressing challenges facing the agriculture sector.

“Nasarawa State, like every other state in the semi-arid region, experiences the adverse effects of climate change, which threatens our security and livelihoods,” said Dr. Akabe.

“Through collaborative efforts and innovative approaches like ACReSAL, we have the opportunity to build community resilience and ensure sustainable agricultural practices.”

The ACReSAL project aims to restore 1 million hectares of degraded land in Northern Nigeria, contributing significantly to the Federal Government’s commitment to restore 4 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

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This endeavour will not only help reduce the vulnerability of millions of extremely poor people in the region but also empower them to play an active role in achieving environmental sustainability.

The beauty of the ACReSAL project lies in its community-driven approach, where local communities are at the forefront of understanding, owning, protecting, and defending the project. This ensures that the project is tailored to meet the specific needs of the communities and is sustainable in the long run.

“ACReSAL embodies the spirit of partnership and cooperation, bringing together government agencies, development partners, people from academia, local communities, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and all to find solutions to our shared environmental challenges,” he said.

Together, we will leverage the power of technology, research, and community engagement to transform our agricultural landscapes and secure a better future for generations to come. As we embark on this important project implementation journey, let us remain steadfast in our resolve, mindful of the impact of our actions, and responsive to the needs of our farmers and the community.

Let us use this opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our people and the sustainability of our environment and make ACReSAL a beacon of hope for Nasarawa and Nigeria.

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Dr. Joy Iganya Agene, Senior Environmental Specialist-World Bank Nigeria and Task Team Leader for the ACReSAL Project noted that the ACReSAL Team is in Nasarawa state for a joint World Bank, Federal Government of Nigeria, and Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations Hybrid Implementation Support Mission for the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) Project.

The mission aims to assess implementation activities in the 19 Northern states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that are participating in the project, visit communities, inspect lands that have been marked for restoration, and carry out activities of the Community Revolving Fund (CRF).

She noted that Nasarawa is one of the fast-moving states in ACReSAL and would not be possible without the support of the leadership of Nasarawa state.

She disclosed that Nasarawa state will be one of the first states in the group 2 phase to qualify for phase 2 of the ACReSAL Investment.

According to her, under ACReSAL, for a state to access this investment (fund), the state will have to get some instruments in place, and this is done to check the demonstration commitment and technical capacity of the state to carry out the interventions.

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This funding will cushion the impact of climate change, help build the capacity of vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change and allow water to take its natural course in Nasarawa state.

In his remarks, Mr. Abdulhamid Umar, the National Project Coordinator for the ACReSAL Project, noted that the mission is in Nasarawa state to authenticate project implementation results so far and to see concrete deliverables of the four components of the ACReSAL Project.

Mr. Precious Agbesor, a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), commended the World Bank and the Federal Government of Nigeria for the partnership.

He noted that component B of the ACReSAL Project (Community Climate Resilience) is the heart of the project, and FAO is supporting ACReSAL under this component to restore 350,000 hectares of degraded land.

Dr. Napoleon Gyobe Elias, the Nasarawa State ACReSAL Project Coordinator, outlined state-specific activities designed to enhance adaptive capacities and promote sustainable growth in the state.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigeria To Combat Cross Border Banditry Electronically, Says Minister

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Minister Olubunmi Ojo

The Nigerian Government is deploying automated border management solutions across the country’s vast borders in an effort to combat cross-border banditry and irregular migration.

Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Minister of Interior, made the announcement on Thursday in Abuja after inspecting the e-border management centre and the Command and Control Centre for airport electronic gates.

The Minister stated that, while the e-Border project was over 60% completed, the e-Gates Command and Control Centre is now 100% complete and ready for President Bola Tinubu to commission. Both centres are located at the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) headquarters in Abuja.

After the inspection, the Minister told journalists: “We have come a long way in terms of border management solutions. At the moment, I believe we have completed 60 percent of the deployment because what we saw the other time concerned the air border solution, which is the Command and Control Centre and the e-Gates that we have. But we are not just talking about air borders or airports; we are also talking about land borders, which, as we all know, are more porous – both land and sea borders.

“What we are currently doing is automating the entire surveillance system in our border space in real time; we can view a large portion of our borders at this time, but I will not reveal any more information. But the simple truth is that we are automating the entire process, and I believe that by October, Phase 1 of the entire border surveillance system will have been completed, and we will be able to see kilometres away from the border before people enter Nigeria.

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“There is also a solution that allows people in border areas to communicate directly in an emergency. They can report problems, and there are solutions to how we do not just ignore their reports or complaints, but also take action.

“We want to make our borders as interactive and safe as possible because, in the long run, Mr. President believes that a secure border is a secure nation. So, securing our borders is critical to securing our nation, and President Bola Tinubu’s administration is working hard to make Nigeria a safe country where people can sleep with their two eyes closed.

“But I can tell you that anyone who believes he can commit illegal acts within our border space should be prepared to face the consequences. We are renewing Nigerians’ hopes in all aspects of their lives. This is only the first phase; Phase 2 will begin shortly. We will do it in such a way that Nigeria’s entire 4,447-kilometer border is secure. A thousand-mile journey begins with one step. We have started, and we will not stop until Nigerians can sleep with their two eyes closed.”

The Minister stated that the Command and Control Centre for the e-Gates had been completed and would be commissioned soon.

He revealed: “We are waiting for Mr. President. We have already notified the president, and I am pleased that the media has seen the location and knows it is completely ready to go,” he said.

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Kemi Nandap, Comptroller General of the Immigration Service, stated that the officers and men are highly motivated and are currently receiving extensive training on e-solutions.

She stated, “We are more than 60% done with border management solutions, and our officers and men are currently being trained.” “We are prepared, and our officers are highly motivated,” she said.

The CGIS explained that the border communities have been educated on how to collaborate with the service, and that the NIS has established a communication channel with the communities in order to obtain relevant information from them.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigeria’s Aviation Team Visits Abia, Inspects New Airport Site As Gov Otti Announces Access Bank Partnership

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The visiting federal government aviation team

In a renewed commitment to providing Abia State with a suitable airport, a federal government team from the Ministry of Aviation this week visited the state to inspect a proposed site for the planned new airport.

This comes as Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, announced that Access Bank, one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, has expressed a willingness to collaborate with the State Government on the airport development.

According to a press release from Kazie Uko, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, the Federal Government team was led by Dr. Emmanuel Meribeole, Permanent Secretary of, the Ministry of Aviation.
The team stated that it was in the state to ensure that the land and location approved for the project complied with regulatory requirements for airport siting.

Dr. Meribeole stated that the Federal Government is eager to complete the airport promptly, which prompted the visit of a team comprised of representatives from all of the country’s aviation agencies in charge of airport approvals and supervision to ensure compliance with required standards.

The team included aviation agencies such as the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

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Meribeole, while acknowledging Governor Otti’s visionary leadership, stated that members of his team are experts in their respective agencies and that the Abia airport project has already been included in the 2024 Federal Appropriation Act, albeit as an airstrip.

He acknowledged that airport projects are capital intensive, but emphasised that the benefits of having an airport cannot be overstated, as they would lead to the state’s accelerated development through job creation, commerce promotion, revenue generation, and other factors.

Governor Otti, who welcomed the Federal aviation team, thanked President Bola Tinubu for approving the construction of an airstrip in Abia.

He stated that while the national budget included funding for an airstrip, the Abia State Government would collaborate with the Federal Government to expand the airstrip into a full-fledged airport, as the primary distinction between an airport and an airstrip is the length and size of the runway.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for agreeing to build an airstrip in Abia and including it in the approved budget for 2024.

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“Even if the money is insufficient, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So, we are grateful to him.

“We also want to thank my friend and brother, the Hon. Minister of Aviation, Barr. Festus Kyamo, SAN, for everything he has done to make this a reality. We are constantly on the phone, discussing and brainstorming ways to accelerate this process.

“I would like to thank you for joining us in our hurry to complete this project. Once we had reached an agreement, we began looking for suitable land, which is the most important aspect of an airport. There were a few places that were previously mapped out, but when we went for a physical inspection, we discovered that some of them did not have enough space or were not properly located for the airport.

“Another important aspect of an airport is location, so we have now narrowed it down to the location that you are currently looking at. We did more than just identify the location; we also identified the landowners because it is a large parcel of land. “We had already begun engaging with them,” Governor Otti stated.

The Governor assured the team that the State Government is ready to see the project through in record time, as the people of Abia are eager to have their airport, as the state is one of only two in Nigeria that does not have one. The other is Osun State.

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“One thing you can take away from here is that the State will be in charge, and if anything is delayed, it is because it is coming from the centre; however, we are in a hurry.”

“I am personally involved in this, and I receive daily briefings. If I do not receive a briefing, I check in with them to see where we stand.

“So, this is to assure you that we are more than prepared and that you will receive everything you require in record time. And we hope that at least one airport will be built within the next year. “Once we have the runway and the terminal building, the rest will come in time,” he said.

The Federal Aviation team’s visit coincided with that of Access Bank, which was led by Mr. Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director/CEO.

Governor Otti expressed Access Bank’s willingness to participate and partner with the Abia State Government on the airport project “to ensure that liquidity does not become a problem.”

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According to Governor Otti, Access Bank has some experience financing airport projects, having helped deliver the Ogun State airport.

“I suggested to the CEO that the team meet with him so that we can bring them on board early enough. Our policy is not to borrow until necessary. If they had also been involved in one and delivered it, we could learn from their mistakes and build on the positive aspects,” the Governor said.

 

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