Nigerian press zooms in on Edo train attack, others

The report that soldiers, police personnel and vigilantes are currently tracking the abductors of no fewer than 31 train passengers…

The report that soldiers, police personnel and vigilantes are currently tracking the abductors of no fewer than 31 train passengers who were whisked away from the Tom Ikimi Train Station, Igueben in Edo State on Saturday dominates the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Monday.The Punch reports that soldiers, police personnel and vigilantes are currently tracking the abductors of no fewer than 31 train passengers who were whisked away from the Tom Ikimi Train Station, Igueben in Edo State on Saturday.

Among the victims are the manager of the station, Godwin Okpe and head of security of the station, simply identified as Ikhayere and 29 passengers.

The incident is coming 10 months after bandits attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train service, killing 14 passengers and abducting 65 others. They were released after spending months in captivity and paying ransoms.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive of Nigeria Railway Corporation, Fidel Okhiria, confirmed to The PUNCH on Sunday that security agencies were on the trail of the abductors believed to be armed herdsmen.

He said, “The police, vigilante and Army are all after the people in the bush; that’s all I can say. There are certain things that we need to clear before we issue a statement.”

The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, also affirmed that efforts were ongoing to rescue the abductees.

The newspaper says that the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission on Sunday revealed that crude oil production in Nigeria rose to 1.235 million barrels per day in December 2022, representing the highest output since March when the country produced 1.237mbpd.

Figures obtained from the commission in Abuja showed that oil production increased from 1.185mbpd in November to 1.235mbpd in December, indicating that the effort of the Federal Government and security agencies in curbing oil theft was paying off.

Crude oil production in Nigeria had crashed to as low as 0.937mbpd in September last year, which was the lowest output recorded in Nigeria in several years.

The crash in oil production was attributed to the activities of pipeline vandals and oil thieves in the Niger Delta, a development that also made some international firms leave Nigeria.

Additional figures from the NUPRC showed that crude oil production, without blended or unblended condensates, in January, February, March, April, May and June, were 1.398mbpd, 1.257mbpd, 1.237mbpd, 1.219mbpd, 1.024mbpd and 1.158mbpd respectively.

For the months of July, August, September, October, November and December, the oil production figures were 1.08mbpd, 0.972mbpd, 0.937mbpd, 1.014mbpd, 1.185mbpd and 1.235mbpd respectively.

On Thursday, the President Muhammadu Buhari ordered security agencies to eradicate crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta before May 29, 2023, in order to effectively ramp up the country’s oil output.

He said the Federal Government could no longer tolerate the criminality.

The Guardian reports that British Council is offering venues free of charge to artists and exhibitors as part of its Creative Economy Showcase Programme till March 31, 2023.

The exhibition centres in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano are open for use by players and stakeholders in the industry without charge between one and three consecutive days.

In a statement yesterday, British Council Nigeria’s Country Director, Lucy Pearson, said in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation appointed four curators to review submissions from artists and creative entrepreneurs for assistance after a widely advertised call for applications in July 2022.

The curators for the four venues are Creative Arts and Visual Imagery Centre (CAVIC) in Abuja, TASCK in Lagos, StartUp South in Port Harcourt and StartUp Kano in Kano.

The curators selected the best entries for support and worked with the exhibitors to deliver their works and draw audiences to attend. Profits made through sale of tickets or other financial rewards, including sponsorships, would go to the exhibitors.

As an intervention, Head of Arts, West Africa and Creative Economy Lead SSA at British Council, Brenda Fashugba, submitted: “The Creative Economy Showcase Programme helps resolve several challenges for creative entrepreneurs, such as offsetting the massive cost of renting a premium venue space, providing communication support through publicity for programme, offering exhibitors access to British Council network of art enthusiasts and stakeholders, as well as affording exhibitors access to our organisational knowledge of event management, programme management and planning.”

The newspaper says that the Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct Minister of Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba and the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof. James Momoh, to immediately reverse the “unlawful, unjust and unreasonable” increase in electricity tariff, which reportedly occurred in December 2022.

SERAP also urged him to ensure investigation into the spending of public funds as ‘investments and bailouts’ by successive governments to electricity distribution companies (DisCos) and generating companies (GenCos) since 2005, and prosecution of cases of corruption and mismanagement.

Following reported approval by NERC, electricity tariffs were increased across DisCos in the country in December 2022. Several prepaid customers have reportedly confirmed the increase. Both the Minister of Power and the NERC have refused to confirm or deny the increase.

In the letter dated January 7, 2023 and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The increase in electricity tariff would exacerbate the extreme poverty across the country, and undermine the ability of millions of Nigerians to satisfy basic human needs.

“The increase in electricity tariff failed to follow due process. It is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the Electric Power Sector Reform Act and the country’s international human rights obligations.”

According to the body, millions of Nigerians continue to live in darkness, despite spending by successive governments of trillions of naira as investments and bailouts to electricity companies.

The organisation said: “The increase is unjustified, especially given the unreliable, inefficient and poor quality of electricity in the country. Rather than providing electricity discounts to poor Nigerians, successive governments continue to give bailouts to electricity companies.

“Your government should have used the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which shows damning revelations that some 133 million Nigerians are poor, as a basis to improve access to regular electricity supply, and extend electricity to remote rural households.

“The latest increase in electricity tariff is coming on the heels of the NBC report, which shows that over half of the population of Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor and cook with dung, wood or charcoal, rather than cleaner energy. High deprivations are also apparent nationally in sanitation, healthcare, food security, and housing.

“Access to regular electricity supply would improve the quality of life of the population.

“Electricity is an essential public service but millions of Nigerians continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills. Electricity supply remains inadequate and irregular.

“Regular and uninterrupted access to electricity is a fundamental human right. Your government has legal obligations to ensure that the operations of NERC and electricity companies do not impair the effective enjoyment of the right.

“Access to affordable electricity services is a prerequisite for improving the condition of people living in poverty. It is a means to generate other important services that mitigate poverty, bearing in mind that access to electricity facilitates the eradication of poverty.

“The hike in tariff would increase financial burdens for socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians and further marginalise and disproportionately affect them, and exacerbate their vulnerability to discrimination.”

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