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Business

#EndSARS: Police must ensure proper enforcement of new directive – NBA

The NBA has condemned the atrocious activities of officers of SARS, while also calling on the government to enforce reforms.

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Olumide Akpata

The Nigerian Bar Association has condemned the serial breaches of the fundamental rights of Nigerians by officers of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS)  and urged that the Police put in place demonstratable measures to ensure proper enforcement and monitoring of the new directives.

This was disclosed by the president-elect of the association, Mr. Olumide Akpata in a statement on Friday. He said the NBA welcomes the new directive by the IGP banning SARS from patrols. “However note that there had been previous statements following similar agitations but without appreciable changes,” he said.

Recall Nairametrics reported that The Inspector-General of Police, M.A Adamu, had banned the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Tactical Squads of the Force including the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad operating at the Federal, Zonal and Command levels, from carrying out routine patrols.

The Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo also said President Muhammadu Buhari wants to see reforms in the Nigerian Police force.

The Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila announced this week said that the House will draft new legislation to establish a system of accountability for the Nigerian police.

In today’s statement, Akpata said: “It is therefore of utmost importance that this time around it should not be business as usual. The Nigerian police leadership must put in place demonstratable measures to ensure proper enforcement and monitoring of the new directives. The raison d’etre of government is the welfare and protection of the people. It is for this purpose that people have surrendered some of their freedom to the State in exchange for the protection of their rights and maintenance of social order.”

He added that the Police was entrusted with the protection of the people, and has constituted itself into a source of constant terror especially to young Nigerians.

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“The actions of FSARS are both inconsistent with the social contract which the people have with the government and are also in flagrant disregard of the Police Establishment Act and all our laws including the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999,” Apata said.

He further disclosed that the NBA calls on the Presidency and Legislature to monitor and enforce compliance of SARS. He stated, “As such, the NBA calls on the President of Nigeria, the National Assembly and the IGP to reign in on FSARS once and for all, strictly monitor and enforce the current directives, and put an end to the flagrant abuse and extrajudicial killings of Nigerians by these officers. The NBA is also willing to collaborate with Civil Rights Organisations and Advocacy Groups to deal with this menace and we shall deploy our human and material resources in this regard.”

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Business

Cement prices surge in South East as scarcity, price hike hit North East

Prices of cement have risen by 67% in many Southeastern states and by 40% as observed in northern states including Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, others.

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The prices of cement have risen by 67% in the South-East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

This is as some residents of the North-Eastern part of the country also complained of price hike of cement, which they attributed to the scarcity of the product and the activities of middlemen who try to capitalize on the situation.

According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a market survey conducted at various wholesale and retail shops in the eastern zone shows that the price of the product has almost doubled when compared to the price in 2020.

What the cement traders in the eastern states are saying

A cement dealer at Kenyetta Market in Enugu State, Mr Ifeanyi Amadi, said the increase in the price of the product which started last year was due to the Covid-19 pandemic and increase in dollar exchange.

He pointed out that a trailer load of Dangote cement with 600 bags, which sold for N1.5 million in 2020, sold for N2.3 million in the first quarter of 2021.

Another retailer, Samuel Uwakwe, noted that a bag of Dangote Cement now goes for N3,900, Unicem for N3,700; BUA Cement for N3,700 and Kogi Super Cement for N3,600.

While begging the suppliers to reduce the price and make the product available, Uwakwe expressed his reservations at few individuals being given the opportunity to supply the product noting that the prices would likely crash during raining season.

In Abia, a cross-section of residents of Umuahia, the state capital, also decried the high price of cement, which ranges from N4,000 to N4,100 per 50kg bag.

Those who spoke to NAN said the price hike had further dashed the hope of many Nigerians, wishing to own their personal homes.

A businessman, Mr Victor Ugwu, said he had to suspend his building project because of the current development as he could not afford to continue with the current price of the commodity.

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He said,  “I think the hike can be attributed to the monopoly being enjoyed by the cement producers in the country. Unfortunately, there may not be any respite until that monopoly is broken.”

However, a cement dealer, Mr James Ogbonna, said the price increase had nothing to do with the manufacturers of the commodity but rather put the blame on the activities of shylock distributors of cement.

He said, “In the first and second week of March, we sold a bag for N3,200, but within the third week we started selling at N3,500. By the end of March, the price moved up to N4,000 and now, we sell between N4,000 and N4100, depending on the brand.”

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A cement dealer in Awka, Mr Kenechukwu Okoye, said before the #EndSARS protest in 2020, a 50kg bag of cement was sold at N2,500 bur rose to N3,000 immediately after the protest and from there to the current price of N4,000 and N4,100.

The survey also says that in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the price of cement is between N3,850 and N4300, depending on the brand.

At the building materials Market in Naze, Owerri North Local Government Area, Dangote and BUA cement are sold at N4,000 per bag while BUA and UNICEM are sold for N3,900.

Mr Okechukwu Okonya, a seller, said the cost could be attributed to the high cost of transportation as a result of fuel price increase adding that major dealers sometimes hoard the product in their warehouses to create artificial scarcity.

The survey report says that in Abakaliki, Ebonyi, prices of almost all building materials have gone up, with Dangote and Bua which sold for N2,500 earlier in November and December 2020 now selling for between N4000 and N4500.

Similarly, Unicem cement which also sold at N2,300 within the same period had also gone up to N4,000 and N4,300.

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Similar price increase in North East

The survey report in Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Jigawa, shows an average of 40% increase in price.

According to the respondents, this could be attributed to the outbreak of Covid-19 which affected production in factories, while demand kept rising.

Others, however, blamed the hike on the high cost of transportation and other sundry activities associated with the business of procurement and sales of cement in the country.

Malam Ibrahim Sanusi, a cement dealer at the Gombe main market described the hike as outrageous when compared with the price of the same commodity the previous year.

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He said that a bag of Dangote brand which he bought for N2,400 and sold for N2, 500, is bought for N4,000 from their depot in Gombe and sold for N4,200.

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FG explains why it wants to reduce human contact at the ports, achieves 70% digitalization

This is to help drastically reduce inefficiencies, corruption, diversion of money, revenue leakages and constant delays.

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Container shipping operations from China to Onitsha resume

The Federal Government has moved to reduce human traffic into the Nigerian ports as it says that the ports have achieved 70% digitalization.

This is to help drastically reduce inefficiencies, corruption, diversion of money, revenue leakages and constant delays being experienced at the various ports by stakeholders and other ports users.

This disclosure was made by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, on Friday at a news conference on the first quarter activities of the council in Lagos.

The NSC boss said that the 70% digitalization was lower than the 90% targeted by the council in the first quarter of 2021, which although it did not achieve, it is still pushing to actualise.

What the Nigerian Shippers’ Council Executive Secretary is saying

Bello in his statement said, “Most of the ports in the world are digitized, Nigeria cannot be an exception. We cannot have a multitude of people going into the ports every day, human contact in the ports is very dangerous, it is anti-efficiency and once there is human contact, there will be corruption and then delay.

Some people don’t even have any business to go to the port but you see them there, what are they doing?

We have been working with shipping companies and terminal operators to ensure we make the deadline we set for the first quarter but we saw it was not feasible to attain 90% digitalization. What we were able to do on the average was 70%, but digitization of the ports is a process in the making. We want this to happen as quickly as possible,” he said.

He said that the port was not a place for contact, as one could move millions of tons of cargo with a computer adding that they were happy to announce that the council was on course.

Bello noted that a non-contact port was the solution to many problems in the system such as delay which caused demurrage, diversion of money, corruption and revenue leakages.

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He said that digitization would make our ports more competitive, noting that the country had competitors in West and Central Africa sub-regions.

On the level of digitalization of shipping companies, he said that Grimaldi had 88%, Ocean Network Express 76%, and CMA CGM 63%, among others, while for seaport terminals, PTML had 92%, and in Port Harcourt, Intels, BUA and Wact had 70% digitalization each.

He said, “Where we are having problems is on reforms and claims processes which is mostly manual but we have some that scored 50%. Also, the second phase is the integration of systems because anybody can be online but there is a need to integrate with the banks for example and even the Nigeria Customs Services.’’

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What this means

The digitalization of operations and reduction of human contact at the ports is going to greatly increase efficiency, reduce corruption and ensure that more revenue comes to government coffers.

This will also help eliminate the illegal activities of louts at the ports, improve on the ease of doing business, promote a clean environment at the ports and tackle the menace of illegal trading activities which also degrades the environment at those facilities.

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