An aid worker with the Action Against Hunger, Grace Taku abducted by insurgents suspected to be of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) has appealed to the Federal Government, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the international community to come to their rescue.
Grace made the appeal in a new video obtained by TheCable.
The aid worker was abducted alongside five others last week when the insurgents attacked their vehicle in Damasak, Borno state, killing a driver before kidnapping six aid workers.
In the footage, Grace, who said she is the only Christian among the abductees, was seen wearing a big blue hijab which covered all parts of her body but revealing only her face.
She was seen sitting on a mat with five other abducted men, as she sought intervention and help of Nigerians and the international community.
“My name is Grace, I work with Action Against Hunger, an NGO in Borno state. My base is Damasak.
“We went to work on Thursday, July 18, 2019, and on our way back to Damasak, we were caught by the army of Calipher.
“We don’t know where we are. At this moment, we don’t know where we are. I am the only Christian among them. I am appealing to the Christian Association of Nigeria to please assist and do something about me.
“I want to beg CAN, Christian Association of Nigeria, because I am the only Christian among the six of us here, I want to beg that CAN association should do something about me to see how I can be released
“I am also appealing to the Action Against Hunger, they should do something to make sure that we are released,” she added.
Grace also said:
“Please do something to see that we are released because this has occurred before in Red Cross where some ladies were caught, they also asked to be released, but because Nigeria did not do anything about them they were not released, they were killed. I am begging on behalf of all of us here, please.
“It also happened again with Leah and Alice, because Nigeria did not do anything about it, they were also killed. I beg Nigeria and our organisation, Action Against Hunger should do something to make sure we are released.”
Nigeria set to apply for another $3bn Chinese loan, Amaechi reveals
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has revealed that the Nigerian government is about to borrow another $3billion from China.
This is coming at a time when there are controversies trailing the Federal Government’s planned securement of $500million loan from China.
The House of Representatives had raised an alarm over clauses in Article 8 (1) of the Commercial Loan Agreement signed between Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China.
In the said agreement, Nigeria stands to concede her sovereignty to China should there be a default in the repayment of the $400million for the Nigerian National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone phase 2 project signed in 2018.
Part of the agreement said that:
“The borrower hereby irrevocably provides waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration pursuit to Article 85 thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuit thereto except for the military asset and diplomatic asset.”
However, Amaechi, while speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, explained that he told the National Assembly members not to probe the loan issue too much in order not to scare the lender.
He noted that the country might lose a chance of getting another $3billion loan which the Nigerian government planned to use in executing the rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
“The reason why I said that is because we have already applied for $5.3billion to execute the rail from Ibadan to Kano. We are about applying for about $3billion to execute the rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
Amaechi, however, stated that the lawmakers approved the loans that have generated many controversies.
He wondered why the same lawmakers who approved the loan were now questioning the same loan and the terms of the loan having looked at it before.
“Don’t forget the National Assembly approved that loan. It is unconstitutional and impeachable if you take a loan without the approval of the National Assembly. So the same National Assembly that approved the loan is now questioning the same loan and the terms of the loan having looked at it before.
“If I am the lender, I will be worried. If they get worried, they will say ‘No, we will not approve the remaining loans you have applied for,” he said.
Chinese loans: $400m project abandoned after completion
The National Public Security Communication System project for which Nigeria took a $399.5million from China and has paid $76.83million as part of the principal as well as $84.92million interest has been abandoned.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari had, during the 2020 Democracy Day broadcast on June 12, said that the project had been revived, Nigerian Tribune findings show that the project has since been abandoned.
The President, in the 59th paragraph of the Democracy Day speech, had said, “Amongst others, Government has expanded the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen states of the federation, resuscitated the National Public Security Communication System and commenced the implementation of the Community Policing Strategy.”
Nigeria had, in 2010, taken the $399.5million loan to finance the National Public Security Communication System project with the aim of improving the security architecture of the country.
The loan, for which the outstanding is $322.67million, is supposed to be fully repaid by 2030, failing which the China-Exim Bank would take over the facility. Experts are agreed that had the project been activated after completion, Nigeria could have stemmed the rising tide of crime and criminality in different parts of the country.
Nigeria has been at the mercy of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers who have repeatedly unleashed mayhem on many arts of the country. Just a few days back, the convoy of Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, was attacked by suspected militants. In June 2019, suspected kidnappers also attacked the convoy of Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State governor.
However, it was hide and seek for the agencies directly linked with the National Public Security Communication System project on Tuesday as the Nigerian Tribune sought to get their views on the President’s comment that the project had been revived.
Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) spokesperson, Adamu Idris, who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune on Tuesday, said the agency did not know anything about the project.
“We were brought in after the project had been completed, we were not brought in at the design stage. We were supposed to run it on behalf of the government but it was not successfully executed. So, we are no longer involved.”
When asked to confirm the resuscitation of the project as said by the President, he said he did not know the current status of the project because his agency was no longer involved.
He then referred our correspondent to either the Ministry of Interior or the Police Affairs Ministry for further clarifications. The Ministry of Interior’s spokesperson, Mohammed Manga, declined comments because “I am not in the presidency, so I cannot make a comment about what the president said.”
He also declined to speak on the status of the project, saying “It is not domiciled in our ministry.” Seyi Odutayo, the Police Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson, promised to get back to our correspondent after communicating with the relevant department but had yet to do so at the time of filing this report.
However, during a 2016 investigation by an Ad Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives investigating the award of CCTV cameras in Abuja and Lagos, a former NigComSat MD, Mr Timasaniyu Ahmed-Rufai, had said that the project was fully completed by the contractor, ZTE Nigeria Limited, but that the Federal Government failed to operate and maintain it.
According to Ahmed-Rufai,
“We had a team of 25 engineers that went to every location to verify different stages of the project. We issued Acceptance Certificates after which payments were made to the contractor. There were milestones that were all carefully and professionally observed by the project implementation team.
“As the Project Consultant, I stand by every payment that was made and every decision taken on the project. The project was completed, tested and every component was working.
“It is erroneous for anyone to call the project a CCTV project because the Video Surveillance System (VSS) is even less than 8 per cent of the project. There were five components and they were all completed.”
He added that while the project was fully completed, the Federal Government had failed to activate it, likening the situation to having a brand new car but failing to fuel it.
“They had to power down the backbone for the communication system because government was not forthcoming in maintaining and operating the system. It is a complete communication system, there were special phones for security agencies which some people decided to lock up somewhere.
“There were emergency communication vehicles, they were all delivered. People were trained, from the police and other agencies but somehow some people decided not to operate the system. Those cameras depend on a backbone that has over 670 base stations. Those BTS have to be powered for the cameras to work,” he said.
Similarly, ZTE MD, Mr. Hao Fuqiang, in his response to the House of Representatives’ 2016 investigation, said, “We have consistently maintained that the project was fully completed and final tests completed. The Acceptance Certificates are available for scrutiny.”
According to the ZTE MD, the project was not just about CCTV as it had five components. The Global Open Trunking Architecture (GoTa) Sub-system, which is the dominant component of the system, is a CDMA-based voice and data telecommunications system with national coverage. It operates through two Mobile Switch Centres (MSC) with one each in Lagos and Abuja; 12 Base Station Controllers (BSC), 675 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) and 21 Microwave repeaters.
The Gota system supports the deployment of 1.5 million subscriber lines. The second component is the Video surveillance Subsystem. The system comprises of 2000 surveillance cameras with 1,000 each installed in Abuja and Lagos respectively.
The subsystem also makes use of solar solutions because of the electricity challenges in the country. The Video Conferencing subsystem provides a platform for real-time video conferencing for the Nigeria Police Force across all commands and the Force Headquarters.
The E-policing subsystem is meant to facilitate the deployment of E-policing databases, while the Coalition Emergency Response subsystem is a platform for national emergency communication using the shortcode of 911 for emergency and /distress calls and 912 for anonymous security information. It also empowers the security agencies to carry out a coordinated response.
The National Public Security Communication System project was initiated during the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua to curb insecurity in Abuja and Lagos as well as their environs.
FG rescues 30 Nigerian ladies stranded in Lebanon
Days after the video of 30 Nigerian ladies living in Lebanon pleading for assistance to return home went viral, the Federal Government has rescued them.
Recall that the ladies inside the viral video begged President Buhari and other well-meaning Nigerians to come to their aid and rescue them.
This was contained in a statement released by the spokesperson of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission NIDCOM, Gabriel Odu on Tuesday, August 4.
Odu said the ladies are currently in a more conducive apartment and would be repatriated between August 12 and 16.
”They will be part of One Hundred and Fifty others trafficked and stranded in Lebanon to be evacuated back to Nigeria. The Lebanese Ambassador to Nigeria Mr Houssam Diab disclosed the evacuation plans when the Management of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission NIDCOM, led by the Secretary Engr. Dr Sule Yakubu Bassi visited the Embassy in Abuja.
Ambassador Diab stated that One Hundred and fifty girls will be returned home in batches.
The first batch of One Hundred and Ten(110) will leave Beirut, Lebanon on 12th, August, 2020 to Lagos while the Second Batch will be returned to Abuja on 16th, August, 2020.” the statement in part read
A break down showed that 41 of the girls hailed from Oyo State; Ogun, 21; Lagos, 12; Ondo, 18; Osun, 26; Imo, 3; Kwara, 9; Ekiti, 6; Delta 3 while Enugu, Kogi, Edo, Ebonyi, Benue, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Anambra had one each.
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