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Free train to Ibadan: Passengers besiege Lagos station, plead to stand

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Contrary to the low patronage recorded on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge free train service between Monday and Wednesday, passengers besieged Iju Station on Thursday to enjoy the ride to Ibadan.

A correspondent who monitored the train service on Thursday observed that the number of passengers outnumbered available seats in the train.

A sizeable number of intending passengers had been waiting since 11:00 a.m for the train billed to depart Lagos for Ibadan at 4:00 pm.

Before 3:00 p.m., a huge crowd of intending passengers had gathered at the station and filled all the available seats in the train with two executive coaches.

Confusion arose when those, who had earlier in the day registered their names to travel on the train, returned a few minutes to 3:00 p.m. to discover that the train had been filled up to capacity.

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Many more intending passengers started to troop into the station and begging the officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to allow them to stand in the train.

When the entire station was about to be thrown into confusion, the NRC officials had to bend the rule of not allowing people to stand.

The NRC officials were overwhelmed and allowed some few other intending passengers to go with the train that left Iju Station at exactly 4:00 p.m. for Ibadan.

Mr Saheed Olabode, one of the intending passengers, who came after the train had been filled up, begged the official to allow him in, saying that he was coming from Lekki area to enjoy the ride.

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Several other persons came to the station for enquiries on the train movement on Friday.

The officials were already expressing fears on how to cope with the number of passengers on Friday being a weekend.

Speaking on phone on the huge turn out of passengers, the Lagos State Railway District Manager, Mr Jerry Oche, expressed surprise about the sudden turnout of passengers.

Asked if the NRC intended to increase the number of coaches to accommodate more intending passengers, Oche said that the service would increase from Dec. 21.

He said that instead of one return trip daily from Ibadan to Lagos, it would be twice daily.

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It was reported that only six passengers turned up for the ride on Monday and Tuesday together in Lagos.

A Senior Station Master at Iju, Mr Sunday Abu, said that people were getting to know about the free ride and the number of beneficiaries had started improving each day.

According to him, on Wednesday, the train moved 14 passengers to Lagos from Ibadan and returned 31 passengers to Ibadan.

He said that 22 passengers enjoyed the free ride from Ibadan to Lagos on Thursday.

The train leaves Ibadan for Lagos daily from Monday to Friday at 9:00am and returns to Ibadan from Lagos at 4:00pm each day.

The train has two coaches of 24 executive seats.

(NAN)

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It’s shameful educated Yoruba youths are dying in desert, sea in bids to enter Europe – Prof Banji Akintoye

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The President of Yoruba World Congress, Prof Banji Akintoye,

The President of Yoruba World Congress, Prof Banji Akintoye, has decried the trafficking of Yoruba youths to some European countries and other parts of the world for prostitution and modern-day slavery.

Akintoye blamed the massive migration of Nigerian youths abroad on poverty and the absence of youth development programmes.

“Nigerian young men and women are dying in droves in the desert trying to reach Europe. It is happening all the time and the government of Nigeria knows it,” he said in a TheCitizenNG report.

“Yoruba people are known for their love for education and an average parent in Yorubaland can do anything to send their children to school up to the university level.

“But it is wrong that we do not have plans for youth development and youth empowerment. We have identified that as a problem and that is why the Yoruba World Congress is doing something about youth development. A state government in the South-West has partnered us.

“The next step after education is youth development but we have failed to do that. That is why we have a big problem on our hand now. It is a shame that Yoruba youths, after obtaining university degrees, are dying in the desert and in the sea while trying to cross to Europe. It is also a shame that Yoruba youths are being used for prostitution and slaves in Europe and other countries.”

Meanwhile, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, has said the state will ensure the repatriation of all its indigenes found to have been trafficked to Lebanon.

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According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, Makinde said this while being briefed by the Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Matters, Mrs Bolanle Sarumi-Aliyu, on the plight of Oyo State indigenes trafficked to Lebanon.

The governor said,

“This state will pay for their flights and the fees requested to conduct COVID-19 tests on each of them.”

Sarumi-Aliyu said 40 female indigenes of the state had been identified in Lebanon while the state was going ahead with identification of others to know the actual number of Oyo State indigenes being used as slaves in Lebanon.

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Only 30 policemen protecting 100 Katsina villages, says Masari

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Katsina

Katsina state governor, Aminu Masari has disclosed that only 30 policemen provide security in 100 villages in the state despite the incessant killings by bandits and other criminal elements in the state.

Speaking on the incessant killings in the state, Governor Aminu Masari said the state would in the interim amend its extant laws to give power to village heads and local authorities in the battle against the bandits.

A worried Emir of Katsina Abdulmumin Usman advised him to also consider sending a high-powered delegation of Katsina indigenes to President Muhammadu Buhari on the insecurity in the state.

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is however set to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Katsina and other Northwest, as well as Northeast, states to check banditry and other forms of crimes in the zones.

Masari who lamented the killings at a luncheon by NAF to celebrate the Eid-El-Kabir with frontline troops in Katsina said 30 policemen were  “gross inadequate” especially now that the bandits had become emboldened.

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He said: “This would complement ongoing efforts to emplace a robust community policing structure, whilst addressing the gross deficit in the number of police personnel available at local levels, which is in the range of an average of about 30 policemen to about 100 villages.”

He emphasized that if such actions were not taken, “even if the bandits were wiped out by the military, another generation of criminal elements would quickly take their place in the absence of governance and adequate policing.”

“The bandits are intertwined within the communities so sometimes it may be difficult for the NAF or the Army to distinguish them from the locals in order to conduct offensive operations devoid of collateral damage. The locals must stop giving support, information or safe havens to these criminals,” the governor said.

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said arrangements had been concluded to deploy  UAVs in  Katsina and Gusau in the Zamfara states as part of measures to bring a  quick end to the attacks in the Northwest and Northeast.

‘He thanked the President for “the acquisition of unmanned  aerial combat vehicle that will be deployed not only in the Northwest Zone but also in Northeast.’’

At a special prayer session involving members of the three arms of government in the state, Emir Usman asked   Masari to convene a meeting of eminent Katsina citizens to aggregate suggestions and opinions on the current challenges facing the state and also lead a team to meet the President.

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The Emir said:

’’Lack of regular interaction and communication have remained the bane in our quest for development as a state.

‘’Our governor needs to rally Katsina citizens and seek suggestions from them in order to proffer solutions to the myriads of challenges facing the state.’’

The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) has called on the Federal Government to end the killings in southern Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Taraba and Adamawa states.

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It also urged the government to stop banditry and other forms of insecurity in Katsina, Zamfara, Niger, and other states in the northern part of the country.

ECWA made the call in a statement issued at the end of its General Church Council (GCC) meeting held in Jos, Plateau State on Sunday.

The statement partly reads:

“Council views with serious concern the unabated attacks of armed men and bandits across the country, especially in the northern states.

“They have continued to destroy lives, farmlands and property of innocent citizens in southern Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Zamfara, Kogi, Adamawa, Katsina, Taraba and Niger states.”

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Oyetola approves N500m for pensions

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Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has approved N500million for payment of entitlements to retirees on Contributory Pensions Scheme.

The approved sum covered the payment of contributory pensions to retired primary school teachers and local government workers, to the tune of N300 million, while N200 million was earmarked for retired workers in the civil service and parastatals.

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Head of Service Dr Festus Gboyega Oyebade said in a statement that “this gesture is part of the evidence of Governor Oyetola’s concern for the people’s welfare”, adding that the current administration would prioritise the welfare of serving and retired workers.

He said:

“This gesture is evidence that the governor listens to the yearnings of the citizens. We are delighted and proud of his response to the needs of retirees, especially at this time COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the world economy.

“The government under the leadership of Governor Oyetola is aware of the importance of pension to those who have retired. The governor’s consistent gesture validates his commitment to continue to cater for those who have served the state meritoriously.”

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