US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REGISTERS BRGIE AS ENTRY FOR BIAFRA INDEPENDENCE, CLAIMS SIMON EKPA BIAFRA activist, Simon Ekpa, appears not to be backing down on his movement as he announced on Friday that the United States Department of Justice has officially registered the Biafra Republic Government In-Exile, BRGIE, as an entity for Biafra Independence. This is coming at a time the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu offered room for a possible dialogue with the Nigerian government. A week ago, Ekpa insisted that the declaration of Biafra Independence would restore peace to the West African region. Ekpa, who is known as the Prime Minister of BRGIE through his official X handle on Friday, said the decision by the US Department of Justice was a step in the right direction. He said the US Justice Department approved all paperwork requesting legitimacy.“Following the approval of the United States Department of Justice, the Biafra Republic Government In Exile BRGIE is now an officially registered entity with the United States Department of Justice,” he said.


RIVERS HOUSE OF REPS CAUCUS WANTS UGOCHINYERE SANCTIONED The Rivers Caucus in the House of Representatives has issued a stern rebuke and call for disciplinary action against Honourable Ikenga Ugochinyere following his controversial press briefing on Tuesday, June 18th. The briefing, which addressed the ongoing discord between the Rivers State Governor, the House of Assembly, and Local Government Chairmen, was labeled as misleading and provocative by the Caucus. A statement signed by Rt. Hon. Dumnamene Dekor, Leader of the Rivers Caucus, and Hon. Cyril Hart, Secretary of the Rivers Caucus, stated that Ugochinyere has consistently exhibited a lack of decorum and responsible conduct befitting his high office. They accused him of acting as an agent provocateur, disseminating blackmail, misinformation, and malicious propaganda, all for personal gain. “Hon. Ugochinyere’s latest intervention is laden with all the ingredients that have characterized his previous actions: blackmail, half-truths, outright lies, misinformation, and disinformation,” the statement read. “In every instance, his prejudicial media statements also constitute a thoughtless assault on due process and ongoing judicial processes aimed at resolving the disagreement in Rivers.” The Caucus further criticized Hon. Ugochinyere, who represents a constituency in Imo State, for meddling in Rivers State affairs, describing him as an “insignificant twerp” with no political value in Rivers. They emphasized that his actions are not only uncalled for but also undermine the integrity of the House of Representatives and the privileges of its members. “One year into his term as a lawmaker, Hon. Ugochinyere has rather doubled down on infamy, dishonour, and disreputable behaviour details of which we have at our disposal,” the statement continued. The Caucus underscored that the disagreement in Rivers State has never been brought to the floor of the House of Representatives, thus not warranting intervention from members, particularly from those not representing Rivers State. They called his actions a reckless violation of the constitution, specifically sections 49 and 72.In their concluding remarks, the Rivers Caucus publicly urged the leadership of the House of Representatives to take urgent steps to discipline Hon. Ugochinyere. They accused him of bringing disrepute to the House and misleading some members by not fully disclosing his pecuniary interests.


NERC APPROVES N21B FOR PROCUREMENT OF ELECTRICITY METERS AT ZERO COST The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Friday announced the approval of N21 billion for the procurement of electricity meters for Band ‘A’ customers, explaining that the purchase and installation will come to end-users at no cost. In an order signed by the commission’s Chairman, Sanusi Garba, and the Commissioner in charge of Legal, Licensing and Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, NERC stated that the fund was the first tranche of the Presidential Metering Initiative (PMI) under the Meter Acquisition Fund (MAP). NERC stated that although other regulations provided several options for metering of customers, but the interventions had not resulted in the closure of the national metering gap which currently stands in excess of 7 million customers. It identified the inability of distribution companies (Discos) to raise financing in the form of debt or additional equity as the major constraint in the acquisition and deployment of end-use meters and other capital investments. The MAF scheme, it said, was therefore developed and approved by the commission, primarily to address the challenge of Disco creditworthiness inhibiting the deployment of meters by creating a credible revenue stream from the market funds. In addition, NERC stated that the presidential metering initiative has the overarching objective of closing the metering gap in the country within three years, leveraging on smart metering technologies for data analytics. The deployment of funds under the MAF scheme, NERC explained, shall accelerate the deployment of meters and a closure of the current metering gap, thereby reducing commercial & collection losses to Discos, enhancing quality of service and improvement of customer satisfaction. NERC pointed out that there was an imperative to accelerate a closure of the metering gap for all customers currently classified under tariff Band ‘A’ for the purpose of revenue protection and facilitating demand side management for the affected customers. Out of the accrued available N21.86 billion under the MAF scheme as at the April 2024 market settlement cycle, NERC noted that it had made available the sum of N21 billion to be spent on the purchase of the metering devices. The amount to be apportioned pro rata to contribution by the Discos as tranche ‘A’ of the MAF scheme, showed that Ikeja Disco will get the lion’s share of N4.35 billion, followed by Abuja Disco with N2.99 billion. “All the meters to be procured and installed under the MAF framework shall be at no cost to the customers of the Discos,” the power sector regulatory agency stated. Also, Eko Disco will get N2.92 billion, Ibadan Disco will have N2.51 billion of the first tranche, N1.72 billion will accrue to Enugu distribution company, Kano will get N1.58 billion, while Benin Disco will get N1.57 billion. Besides, Port Harcourt Disco will get N1.36 billion, Kaduna gets N1.22 billion, while Jos Disco and Yola Electricity will get the least sum of N521 million and N243.3 million respectively. The commission ordered that Discos shall utilise the first tranche of disbursement from the MAF scheme to procure and install meters for unmetered Band ‘A’ customers within their franchise areas. “Discos shall, within 14 days from the effective date of this order, conduct a transparent and competitive procurement process, for meter price determination, selection and engagement…for the metering of end-use customer meters under the MAF scheme,” it added. According to NERC, a report containing details of the process undertaken for the selection meter providers, including meter price, meter specifications, and the list of customers to be metered shall be sent to the commission for approval, within 20 days from the effective date of the order.“The installation of contracted volume meters shall be completed within 60 days from the date of approval of the process by the commission, and…


US POLLS: TRUMP SAYS HE’LL GRANT AUTOMATIC GREEN CARDS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IF RE-ELECTED Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, has said if re-elected his government would grant automatic Permanent Resident permits, known as Green Cards, to Nigerians and other international students who graduate from US colleges. The former Republican President disclosed this recently in his immigration proposal titled ‘Build America visa’. Trump is known for his hardline and conservative immigration stance, however, the new proposal represents a potential shift in how the US handles immigration, particularly in retaining international talent. The US grants 1.1 million permanent legal resident visas yearly. “What I would like is a new legal immigration system that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.” He added, “What I will do is you graduate from college, I think you should get automatically as part of your diploma a Green Card to be able to stay in this country.” He stressed that this policy would apply to graduates from all types of US colleges and those with doctorate degrees.Trump is expected to battle for the US presidency with the incumbent President, Joe Biden, a Democrat, on November 5, 2024.


SANUSI, BAYERO RESUME HOSTILITIES IN KANO AFTER COURT RULING On Friday, both the 15th Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, and the 16th Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi II, resumed their hostilities following a recent court ruling on the emirate tussle between them. Both Sanusi and Bayero conducted court sessions at their respective palaces. Each of the embattled emirs participated in Friday prayers: one at the Central Mosque and the other at the Nassarawa Mini Palace. Earlier, the Federal High Court, under the direction of Justice Abdullahi Muhammad Liman, declared Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf’s actions on May 23, 2024, null and void. However, the court clarified that its ruling did not invalidate the Kano Emirates Council (Repeal) Bill 2024, which had been passed by the Kano State House of Assembly.Governor Yusuf’s actions on May 23 included the removal of the 15th Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, and the downgrading of the emirs of Bichi, Rano, Gaya, and Karaye emirates to district head status. This followed the merger of their emirates into the Kano Emirate. Additionally, the Governor reinstated Muhammadu Sanusi II as the 16th Emir of Kano.


DEATH TOLL FROM HAJJ HEAT WAVE RISES TO OVER 1,000 – AFP The death toll from this year’s hajj has exceeded 1,000, an AFP tally said on Thursday, more than half of them unregistered worshippers who performed the pilgrimage in extreme heat in Saudi Arabia. The new deaths reported Thursday included 58 from Egypt, according to an Arab diplomat who provided a breakdown showing that of 658 total dead from that country, 630 were unregistered. All told around 10 countries have reported 1,081 deaths during the annual pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam which all Muslims with the means must complete at least once. The figures have come via official statements or from diplomats working on their countries’ responses. The hajj, whose timing is determined by the lunar Islamic calendar, fell again this year during the oven-like Saudi summer. Pilgrims worship and circumambulate around the Kaaba, a stone building at the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, after fulfilling the hajj pilgrimage, June 19, 2024. The national meteorological center reported a high of 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) earlier this week at the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Egyptian officials reached by CBS News would not confirm the figures stated by the AFP, but dozens of videos posted on social media in recent days showed bodies lying on the streets around the Grand Mosque. Jordan’s Foreign Ministry released a statement via social media on Thursday confirming the deaths of 68 nationals who had traveled to Saudi Arabia for the hajj, adding that 16 others remained missing. The ministry said many of those who had died were being buried in Mecca per the wishes of their families. According to a Saudi study published last month, temperatures in the area are rising 0.4 degrees Celsius, or just less than one degree Fahrenheit, each decade. Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims attempt to perform the hajj through irregular channels as they cannot afford the often costly official permits. Saudi authorities reported clearing hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims from Mecca earlier this month, but it appears many still participated in the main rites which began last Friday. This group was more vulnerable to the heat because, without official permits, they could not access air-conditioned spaces provided by Saudi authorities for the 1.8 million authorized pilgrims to cool down after hours of walking and praying outside. “People were tired after being chased by security forces before Arafat day. They were exhausted,” one Arab diplomat told AFP on Thursday, referring to Saturday’s day-long outdoor prayers that marked the hajj’s climax. Rescuers carry away a man affected by the scorching heat as Muslim pilgrims arrive to perform the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ritual as part of the hajj pilgrimage, in Mina, Saudi Arabia, June 16, 2024. The diplomat said the principal cause of death among Egyptian pilgrims was the heat, which triggered complications related to high blood pressure and other issues. In addition to Egypt, fatalities have also been confirmed to AFP by Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Jordan, Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, though in many cases authorities have not specified the cause. Friends and family members have been searching for pilgrims who are still missing. On Wednesday they scoured hospitals and pleaded online for news, fearing the worst during the scorching temperatures.Saudi Arabia has not provided information on fatalities, though it reported more than 2,700 cases of “heat exhaustion” on Sunday alone.


550 MUSLIMS DIE AT HAJJ AS TEMPERATURES AT MECCA HIT 51.8C At least 550 people have died during the Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in the scorching heat, it has been reported. Temperatures reached at least 51.8C (125F) in the shade in the Saudi Arabian city, as huge crowds of Muslims undertook the annual religious journey – one of the five pillars of Islam. “Hajj is a difficult task, so you have to exert efforts and perform the rituals even in the conditions of heat and crowding,” an Egyptian pilgrim said. Pilgrims used umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun, as Saudi authorities warned pilgrims to stay hydrated and avoid being outdoors during the hottest hours between 11am and 3pm. Stampedes, tent fires and other accidents have caused hundreds of deaths during the Hajj in the past 30 years. Some 240 people reportedly died last year. This year’s pilgrimage began on Friday and as usual coincided with the religious holiday, Eid al-Adha. Dozens of deaths have been reported during this year’s Hajj, with the AFP news agency putting the total at 550, citing diplomats. Some 323 of the dead were Egyptians, most of whom perished due to heat related illness, AFP said. A 2024 study by the Journal of Travel and Medicine found that rising global temperatures may outpace strategies to deal with the heat. A 2019 study by Geophysical Research Letters said that as temperatures rise in arid Saudi Arabia due to climate change, pilgrims performing Hajj will face “extreme danger”. A Saudi health official, speaking on Monday before many of the reports of deaths were issued, said authorities had not noticed any unusual fatalities among Muslim pilgrims amid the extremely high temperatures.The ministry had so far treated more than 2,700 pilgrims who suffered from heat-related illness, he added.


AL-QAEDA JIHADIS FROM BENIN MOVE TO NIGERIA, SETTLE AT KAINJI LAKE NATIONAL PARK Jihadi fighters who had long operated in Africa’s volatile Sahel region have settled in northwestern Nigeria after crossing from neighboring Benin, a report said Wednesday, the latest trend in the militants’ movements to wealthier West African coastal nations. The extremists believed to be linked to al-Qaida have in the last year crossed over from Benin’s hard-hit northern region and settled in Kainji Lake National Park, one of Nigeria’s largest, where other armed groups have also gained access, according to the report by the Clingendael Institute think tank, which has done extensive research in the Sahel. Residents close to the park told The Associated Press that the facility, which holds one of West Africa’s fast-declining lion populations, has been closed for more than a year because of security threats from armed groups attacking neighboring villages and roads. “Before, it was like a tourism center (but) now, people find it difficult to pass through there,” said John Yerima, who lives near the park in New Bussa town. “You cannot enter that road (leading to the park) now. It is dangerous, seriously.” The security situation at the 5,300-square kilometer (2,000-square mile) park in Niger state and along the nearby border with Benin is “getting out of hand” and is “a much more explosive situation than we had anticipated,” said Kars de Bruijne, one of the authors of the report and a senior research fellow at the institute. The “sustained presence” of the armed groups in the park is the first sign of a connection between Nigeria’s homegrown extremists that have launched a decadelong insurgency in its northern region, and al-Qaida-linked militants from the Sahel, the vast arid expanse south of the Sahara Desert, Bruijne said. Their presence offers an opportunity for the extremists to claim large-scale success in both countries, already wracked by deadly attacks in recent years, he added. Known as a global hot spot for violent extremism, the Sahel region’s worsening security crisis comes as military coups are toppling democratic governments. As the military governments struggle to contain the violence, they are increasingly severing security with traditional partners France and the United States and turning to Russia for support. In northwest Nigeria, security analysts have in the past warned that the region’s remote territories, where the government is largely absent but have rich mineral resources and high poverty levels, present an opportunity for expansion for jihadi groups that had operated mainly in the Sahel, as well as the Islamic State group, whose fighters hold sway in the Lake Chad basin. “A link between Lake Chad and the Sahel is a major opportunity for al-Qaida and the Islamic State to boast about their profiles as leaders of global jihad,” the report said. There are also concerns from conservationists that the presence of armed groups in the park could further threaten the remaining lions whose populations have declined as a result of poaching and climate change. They say the park and most protected wildlife areas in Nigeria are poorly patrolled, making them easy targets for armed groups. “The security situation has become top of the list when it comes to the concerns about the lion populations in Nigeria,” said Stella Egbe, senior conservation manager at the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. The Nigerian military often conducts aerial bombardments and deploys its personnel in criminal hideouts in the conflict-battered northern region. However, security forces — fatigued by the decadelong war in the northeast — are still outnumbered and outgunned in those remote villages, and the root causes of the conflict such as poverty remain. The Clingendael report said it is unclear what the motive of the Sahel extremists in the park is and what their relationship…


POLICE REJECT KANO GOV’S DIRECTIVE, SAY WE WON’T EVICT DEPOSED EMIR BAYERO The Kano State commissioner of police, Usaini Gumel, has explained why his men are yet to evict the deposed emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero. Recall that the attorney-general and commissioner for justice in Kano State, Haruna Dederi, had ordered the Bayero’s eviction to pave way for reconstruction of the facility. Dederi ordered the commissioner of police to remove Bayero from the Nasarawa Palace. But reacting to the order, CP Gumel said the directive has been ignored as any action in that line will amount to “jumping the gun”. According to him, the Kano State Government had filed a case at the State High Court on the eviction order which would come up on Monday, June 24. “The police will not evict the deposed Emir because the same government has filed a case at the State High Court on the eviction order, which would come up on Monday, 24th June 2024,” Gumel said. “The government is jumping the gun because the same government has filed a case on the eviction order, which is coming up on the 24th of June, 2024. So, if we carry out the order, it is like we are pre-empting the court because we don’t know what will happen at the court,” he added. Meanwhile, security has been beefed up around the Nasarawa mini palace where Bayero is currently staying.Sources say the deposed emir is still within the facility attending to visitors and how supporters.


HEAVY SECURITY AT EMIR BAYERO’S RESIDENCE AS KANO GOVT MOBILIZES BULLDOZERS There is heavy security presence around Nasarawa Palace, the official residence of the deposed 15th emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero. The Kano State Government had ordered the eviction of the deposed traditional ruler. Addressing journalists on Thursday evening, the attorney-general and Commissioner of Justice in Kano State, Haruna Isah Dederi, said Bayero should be evicted because all is set for the reconstruction and renovation of the property. In a video seen on Friday morning, security personnel blocked all entrances to the palace which is owned by the Kano State Government. The move was to prevent thugs from interfering with the planned demolition of the Nasarawa Palace. In a separate video, a bulldozer and excavator were seen headed to the palace. Recall that the Federal High Court in Kano had nullified the removal of Emir Bayero and others by the State Government.However, the Kano State Government had insisted that Emir Sanusi Muhammad II remains the emir of Kano.