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Why FG is yet to resume flights to Dubai – Aviation Minister

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The Federal Government on Monday said flights to the United Arab Emirates are yet to resume due to the discriminatory nature of protocol introduced by the UAE.

The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, made the remark during the briefing by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday.

Sirika, who explained that the protocol appeared to be targeted at only Nigerians, added that it was discriminatory and not backed up scientifically.

He explained that UAE was insistent that all passengers intending to visit its country must use Emirates Airline or spend two weeks in the alternative carrier’s country before gaining entrance to Dubai.

The minister dismissed insinuations that the continuous delay in the resumption of flights was ego related.

He, however, said that talks were ongoing to resolve the matter.

According to him, Emirates in particular and other airlines, including KLM, gave some conditions that were not acceptable to Nigeria because they don’t make scientific sense.

“After review, some of the airlines, especially KLM, saw sense with what Nigeria presented which is that you can do the test 48 hours to 72 hours before you leave and do another test on arrival.

“Emirates at that time wanted us to do the test 48 hours before boarding and 48 hours is not yet the incubation time.

”They expect us to do a rapid test at the airport and then fly seven hours later and do another test in Dubai and then follow us to our hotel or our accommodation and do another test.

“That dragged on and in the interest of our people and cordial relationship, even though it is a commercial decision for the airline to take at any point in time, we ceded and accepted that we would do those tests that doesn’t make scientific sense to us at the expense of our people and our monies.

“We accepted what Emirates presented and proceeded even though KLM and other airlines saw our reasons and rationale and towed the lines of Nigeria.

“In this case, Emirates insisted again that in addition to the test on arrival and other tests, that Nigerians cannot fly to UAE except through Emirates airline.

”And that if we choose to do so through other airlines like Ethiopia, Qatar, Turkish or other airlines, we must remain in the country of that airline for two weeks if we are Nigerians before we continue to Dubai.

“Meaning that if I buy my ticket in a free market which Nigeria and UAE practices, if I buy a ticket on Ethiopian Airline, that means I must remain in Addis Ababa for two weeks whether I have a visa or not before I proceed to Dubai.

“So, they insisted that we must fly by Emirates and majority of Nigerians are petty traders and the ticket of Emirates in this case may be higher than other airlines,” Sirika explained.

He stressed that civil aviation was being guided by agreement and international convention.

”It is only one aviation and we found this position to be discriminatory against our country and it is not acceptable.

“We thought we could take it diplomatically and we have been meeting and exchanging ideas because at some point, they said they are being hard on Nigerians because there are fake results.

”And I said there are fake results in UAE, Germany, UK, USA, all over the world, there are fake results but Nigeria went ahead to put measures in place to detect fake results.

“So, we have gone the extra mile plus if you look at the rate of infection and the rate of people catching COVID-19 in Nigeria, we are far less than many other countries in the world which UAE did not apply that principle upon.

Sirika said that the total number of deaths in Nigeria might be 3000 and in one day, 3000 Italians died or British and they were still being allowed to go direct to UAE.

”Even Ghanaians, Nigeriens and other African countries can go to Dubai directly; so the protocol is country-specific and it is not acceptable by the agreement and convention that we signed with UAE.

“So, this is the position, it has nothing to do with ego, it is a fact that we cannot be isolated as the only country that they will apply this to.

“In one of our discussions, they said it is also the same case with South Africa, I want to put it on record that South Africa as a country wrote and demanded that the condition be applied upon them.

”So, it is their own choice but it is not the choice of Nigeria that we should be excluded and discriminated against.

“We are still talking with them and we would likely escalate the matter and I am sure that we would resolve it soon.

Sirika, however, apologised to passengers, saying, ”we are aware that some have to travel for medical reasons while some have to resume work, some are students and even holidaymakers.

”We believe that you have the right to travel to Dubai and you will do so and for the sake of the international convention, we cannot be discriminated against,“ he explained. (NAN)

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Crypto is a danger to world economy, tool for money laundry- EFCC Boss

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Advancement in digital assets such as cryptocurrencies increasingly portends huge risks to the world economy, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said.

This, according to Bawa, is partly because, many criminals now play significant roles in crypto-currency markets. He said the virtual currencies had become their preferred mediums of exchange.

Bawa spoke while delivering his keynote address Monday at the 38th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, themed, ‘Economic Crime-Who pays and who should pay?’

The event was organised by the Centre for International Documentation on Organised and Economic Crime (CIDOEC), Jesus College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who captured some highlights of the event in a statement, quoting Bawa as saying, “The developments in new technologies and the growth of cryptocurrencies portrays a far greater danger to the world economy than ever before with many criminals playing significant roles in crypto-currency markets.

“Criminals now elect to transact or receive illegal monies (such as ransom money) for

cyber-attacks in cryptocurrencies with Bitcoins and Ethereum as the most commonly used mediums for these exchanges.”

He lamented that “the sophistication and complexity that defines the dynamics of economic crime in the 21st Century continues to evolve, spurred by technological advancement in the global economy that has become borderless and transnational.”

This he said had “inevitably led to the prioritisation of law enforcement action on crimes that drive Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) across the globe”.

‘No nation is immune’

According to the EFCC Boss, “economic crimes which are largely illegal acts committed for private gain affect the vital structures of global economies, causing significant damage to the Global Financial System and depriving developing nations of the needed resources for sustainable development”.

He noted that developed countries are not immune to the scourge, which, according to him, has “magnified with the proliferation of cyber-crimes which threatens the stability of Global Financial Institutions.”

Bawa said the platform of the event provided an opportunity to interrogate the challenges of economic crimes.

“As the victims of crime continue to suffer globally from the effects of financial crimes, either directly or indirectly as part of a social system, the determination of who pays or who should pay becomes a critical measure of the criminal justice system in place.”

He underlined the imperatives of an impartial judiciary in ensuring that “the perpetrators of acts and not the victims pay for their crimes.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had barred commercial banks and other financial institutions from transacting with cryptocurrency in fear of the risks it poses to investments and the economy at large.

Despite these actions, there have been reports over the use of these digital or virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and others, with criminals turning it to a haven to launder proceeds of corruption, fraud, drug trafficking, and other heinous crimes.

PRecall that last month that the United States Department of Justice training over 50 Nigerian investigators and prosecutors to tackle cryptocurrency-enabled organised crimes.

Efforts to fight crypto-related crimes

While highlighting some of the transparency and accountability achievements of the current administration by President Muhammadu Buhari, Bawa pointed out that the EFCC, as the rallying point in the fight against economic crimes in Nigeria, has recorded important milestones in investigations, prosecutions and assets recovery.

“Since its establishment in 2003, the Commission has recorded no less than 3,500 convictions and recovered assets of significant value including properties in Nigeria, the UK, USA, and the UAE. All these have measurably contributed to the national efforts against economic crimes in Nigeria,” he said.

The EFCC charged participants to come up with practical solutions to curb the international threat of economic crimes.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the symposium, Saul Froomkin, thanked the EFCC boss for his insightful presentation, and the support received from Nigeria in organising the event.

Participants at the symposium were drawn from law enforcement and security agencies, accountability institutions and partners across the world.

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SuperTV CEO: Lagos DPP to charge Chidinma Ojukwu, two others

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A Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State has adjourned to sept 29, further hearing in the murder of Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV.

A 21-year-old student, Chidinma Ojukwu and one Adedapo Quadri were again presented. before the Chief Magistrate, Adeola Adedayo on Monday after they were ordered to be remanded for thirty days at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre last month.

Police Prosecutor, Cyril Ejiofor, informed the court that the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution had issued a legal advice on the case, recommending their trial for murder which implies that the case will now be heard at the high court of Lagos state which has jurisdiction to hear matters of this nature

She, however, adjourned the case to await further Information from the DPP as to the status of the case at the high court that will now hear the matter.

The News Beat also gathered that the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, Olayinka Adeyemi, recommended the release of four persons who are also standing trial at the Magistrate court for obstruction of justice and dishonestly receiving stolen belongings of the deceased .

The four persons are Babalola Disu, Olowu Ifeoluwa, Olutayo Abayomi, Nkechi Mogbo, Ojukwu Onoh, who is said to be Chidinma’s adopted father.

One Egbuchu Chioma who was allegedly found in possession of the deceased’s iPhone 7, and who had initially refused to release the phone on demand, is however to continue her trial.

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Omoyele Sowore’s younger brother shot dead

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A file combo photo of Omoyele and Olajide Sowore

Sahara Reporters Publisher and ex-presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, has narrated how kidnappers shot dead his brother in the Okada area of Edo State on Saturday.

According to him, Olajide was killed in the early hours of Saturday on his way from the Igbinedion University where he was studying Pharmacy.

Sowore, in a tribute on his Facebook page, described his deceased brother who almost clocked 50 as an “out-of-the-box thinker”

He wrote, “My immediate younger brother, Olajide Sowore was today shot and killed near Okada in Edo state by reportedly herdsmen /kidnappers on his way from Igbinedion University in Edo sate where he is studying Pharmacy.

“They snuffed out the life yet another real human being!

“Rest In Power, “Dr. Mamiye!”

“This act in itself will not delay their day of justice.

“I travelled widely with you and our father as a little kid. You were the most loved robust kid I ever first knew. You, Mr. magnet had no enemy!

“You, Mr. Sunshine Foundation who made everyone happy.

“You, the boy who snuck out his older ones to parties, taking all the blames when our disciplinarian father found out.

“You, the guy who was an out-of-the-box thinker who decided school wasn’t for you and created you own genre of music and then turned around to go to school after you almost turned 50!

“You lived your life so that everyone could be alright but now assassinated by everything that’s not alright!

“Saddest day yet!”

Details later…

 

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