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Tension as support staff shut down Warri Refinery

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Hundreds of youths and about 500 support staff on Wednesday shut down commercial activities at the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, Ekpan, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, over alleged management’s failure to regularise their engagements.

The protesters, drawn from across the Niger Delta states, vowed to continue with their protest and ensure that major activities at the refinery remain paralysed until the management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation wades in immediately resolves the issue.

Our correspondent observed that the protesters had all entrances into the refinery under lock and key, accusing the management of NNPC of reneging on an agreement to convert the contract staff into full staff of the company.

The casual workers, including members of the host communities (Ekpan, Ubeji, Aja-Etan, Ifie-Kporo and Ijala-Ikeren), rebuffed efforts by security operatives, including policemen and officers of the Nigerian Army, to have them vacate the major entrance into the refinery.

The National Secretary of the Itsekiri National Youth Council, Jemi Mene-Ejegi, told journalists that they would not vacate the premises until Managing Director of NNPC visits the refinery to address the matter.

Mene-Ejegi said, “Initially, we wrote a letter and they called us, excluding the casual staff, that the issue will be resolved.

“We told them to attend to the casual staff first. The second time, the same thing happened, which prompted the first protest.”

Addressing the protesters, WRPC’s Chief Security Officer, Hope Akpodiete; and Administrative Manager, Solomon Siakpere, pleaded with the protesters to allow officials who had engagement to be allowed to go ahead.

The protesters ignored their pleas.

When contacted over the demands of the protesters, NNPC spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, said there was no discrimination in the corporation’s recruitment process, saying that he was not aware of any agreement to convert casual workers to full employee.

Ughamadu said, “We have been announcing the various stages for recruitment. In that advertisement, it was thrown open for all the staff and they were asked to apply. How many of them applied?

“The casuals were also invited; but that aside, we have engaged them. We told them that after this exercise, there is another stage.

“If they didn’t fall into the first category, they may fall into the second category. That is what we are on. We don’t have casuals only in Warri Refinery, we have casuals in all of our subsidiaries, including the headquarters and many of them applied, and they are undergoing interviews now.

“There’s no discrimination in the process. I am not aware if there was any agreement with them.

“I’m appealing to them to exercise restraint. We’ll continue to engage them to ensure that amicable resolution is reached.”

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NUC, NYSC to block ‘fake’ foreign-trained graduates from service

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The National Universities Commission (NUC), in collaboration with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), on Tuesday said it had put measures in place to block fake foreign-trained graduates from partaking in the compulsory one-year national service.

The NUC said it would continue to ensure the credibility of certificates issued by Nigerian universities and block fake foreign-trained graduates coming into the country.

Its Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, spoke when the NYSC Director General, Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, visited him at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

A statement in Abuja by the NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi, regretted the challenges in vetting the certificates obtained from universities established by Nigerians outside the country.

The NUC chief said many universities produce quality graduates while some produce graduates who cannot defend their certificates.

He said the commission had not approved the degrees of some online universities operating in the country.

Rasheed added that the commission had approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to shut down some illegal universities operating in Nigeria.

“NUC and NYSC must work together to help the country in producing quality graduates. The NUC will continue to certify the credibility of certificates obtained from Nigerian universities,” he said.

The NYSC DG said the scheme will not issue Certificate of National Service to unqualified graduates.

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Eid-el-kabir: FG declares Monday, Tuesday public holidays

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The Federal Government has declared Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th August as Public Holidays to mark the 2019 Eid-Al-Kabir celebrations.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Barr. Georgina Ehuriah, who made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulated the Muslim faithful on the occasion .

She called on all Nigerians, at home and in diaspora, to use the period of this year’s Eid-Al-Kabir celebration to embrace the virtues of love, humility, peace and sacrifice as exemplified by the Holy Prophet Mohammed.

She urged Nigerians to shun any form of disruptive tendencies and join hands with the Federal Government to build a peaceful, strong and united Nigeria so as to achieve an enviable Next Level of growth and development.

According to a statement by Director (Press & Public Relations), Mohammed Manga, the Permanent Secretary reaffirmed the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari led-administration to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians, adding that Security Agencies under the Ministry have been directed to ensure the provision of adequate security, before, during and after the Eid-Al-Kabir celebrations.

She restated government’s desire for all Nigerians to live a life of sacrifice, charity and love for one another.

Bar. Ehuriah wished Nigerians a happy, peaceful and fulfilling Eid-Al-Kabir celebrations.

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N9.9b fraud: Court freezes Lagos accounts

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THE Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the freezing of three accounts belonging to the Lagos State Government over an alleged N9.9 billion fraud.

Justice Chuka Obiozor made the order following an ex-parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He ordered the accounts’ “suspension” pending conclusion of investigation and possible prosecution of the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Adewale Adesanya.

The accounts are domiciled in First City Monument Bank (numbered 5617984012), Access Bank (0060949275) and Zenith Bank (1011691254).

In a supporting affidavit, an EFCC investigator, Kungmi Daniel, said the commission discovered huge inflow of N9,927,714,443.29 from the state accounts into the FCMB account.

He said the account, operated by Adesanya, was opened last September 17 during the Akinwunmi Ambode administration.

According to the deponent, investigators found that Adesanya and other signatories made fraudulent transfers from the state’s accounts and dissipated the funds.

“The trend is that the account always witnessed huge inflow from Lagos State Government in the above scheduled accounts managed by the respondent (Adesanya).

“There have been concerted efforts and attempts to dissipate the contents of the accounts listed in the schedule to this application.

“Without freezing the nominated accounts and temporarily forfeiting the money to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there is no way the fraud being perpetrated using the scheduled accounts can be stopped,” the EFCC said.

EFCC counsel Mohammed Abbas urged the court to grant the order temporarily attaching the accounts to enable it to conclude its investigations.

Justice Obiozor granted the prayers and adjourned till Friday.

Some legal sources wondered last night why the victim, the state government, is being made to suffer while those suspected to be involved in the matter are left untouched.

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