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FG suspends commencement of new national carrier, Nigeria Air

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FG suspends commencement of new national carrier, Nigeria Air

The Nigerian government on Wednesday announced immediate suspension of its widely publicised national carrier because the nation’s Economic Management Team (EMT) did not approve it when it launched, sources familiar with the matter have told PREMIUM TIMES.

Sources at the presidential villa told this newspaper Wednesday night that the EMT recommendation was that the Nigerian government should not set up a national carrier with public funds.

The EMT is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s aviation minister, announced the cancellation on Wednesday shortly after the cabinet meeting. The minister later posted the announcement on his Twitter page.

Mr Sirika said: “I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured. We thank the public for the support as always.”

Mr Sirika gave no explanation for the development, which has in the last few hours generated heated debate among Nigerians.

But a presidential sources familiar with the matter told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night that the EMT wanted the ministry of transportation to instead accelerate the search for strategic investment partners who will finance and manage the new airline.

In the absence of a borrowing plan for government participation, a source said, the president ruled against spending money that is not in the budget. Promoters of the idea of the new national carrier were therefore asked to work towards 2019 budget if any government investment is to be involved, PREMIUM TIMES gathered.

The cancellation announcement comes barely two months after Nigeria unveiled the proposed airline at the Farnborough Air Show in England on July 18.

Critics and industry experts raised concerns over the project when it was launched in July, with many suggesting that Nigeria cannot afford it at this time.

Among the critics was former education minister, Oby Ezekwesili, who argued that the process was not completely transparent.

But the Nigerian government dismissed all concerns raised, saying the airline would begin operation before the end of 2018. During electioneering in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised to establish a national airline.

In July, shortly after receiving the Outline Business Case Certificate of Compliance for the establishment of the airline from Chidi Izuwah, the Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr Sirika, a former pilot, boasted that the airline would be viable. He also said Nigeria will receive the first set of five airplanes for the airliner on December 19, with projections that the airline will make profit in three years after operations.

The proposed airline was expected to gulp $8.8 million preliminary cost and $300 million as take-off cost.

Nigeria’s defunct carrier, Nigeria Airways, became moribund due to corruption and poor management. More than a decade after the national career stopped operations, however, the numerous controversies surrounding its winding up have not been resolved.

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How I discovered my daughter Ochanya had been repeatedly raped by her uncle

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How I discovered my daughter Ochanya had been repeatedly raped by her uncle

The father of the late teenager, Ochanya, has narrated how he discovered that his teenage daughter had been repeatedly raped by her guardian.

Ochanya Ogbanje, 13, died of Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) in October, eight years after she was in 2010 taken to live with Andrew Ogbuja whose wife, Felicia Ogbuja, is an aunt to the deceased. Her death followed a series of rape allegedly perpetrated by Mr Ogbuja and his son, Victor.

Narrating the sad events that resulted in his daughter’s death in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Ochanya’s father, Michael Ogbanje, said he only got the clear picture of his daughter’s type of infection, after he decided against the plan of Mrs Ogbuja, and brought his daughter to a caregiver who took her for medical tests for the umpteenth time.

“We started the treatment at a local government clinic. From there, we were referred to Saint Mary’s hospital. In February, Mr Ogbuja’s wife, Felicia Ogbuja, came to me and told me that my daughter’s case had gone beyond what will be treated at Saint Mary’s.

“I gave them money, N16,000 and fuelled their car which was used in taking my daughter to the hospital that day. They were admitted till April. The entire hospital bills were paid by me. Yet Mrs Ogbuja made sure to keep the test results from us.

“We have been the ones paying her school fees. We even buy things and take to her occasionally,” Mr Ogbanje added.

The victim’s mother, Rose, who went with their daughter to the hospital, added that she made several demands for the details of the problem, but her requests were never granted.

“Each time I ask, they will tell me that my daughter will be well. Even when they discharged her, my daughter could not walk. When I enquired to know why she could not walk since they said she was better, they told me she would soon walk again,” the aged woman added, in pidgin English.

But days ran into weeks and nothing changed. Mr Ogbanje said he later asked his wife to question the girl when they noticed that she was passing out faeces and urinating uncontrollably.

“It was during that interrogation by her mother that my daughter confessed that she was sexually abused by Mr Ogbuja and his son.”

Mr Ogbanje’s immediate reaction was that of utter dismay and confusion, to the point of assuming his daughter was going mad.

“I was surprised when she told me who had raped her. I asked her, “are you mad?” but she insisted that she was telling the truth.

“I called her elder one and asked her to repeat what she had told me and she did so. Then the following day I took her, very early to Mr Ogbujah and asked that she narrates the story she had told us.”

Mr Ogbanje added that when Mr Ogbuja denied assaulting his daughter, the 13-year-old girl stated the places and the times when she was allegedly assaulted by the 51-year-old suspended lecturer and knight of the Catholic Church.

“But he insisted that only his son had an intimate meeting with my daughter. I then asked him what would happen next, given the state that my poor daughter was in and his wife told me that we should come back the following week so that they would go with us to the hospital and check to know if it is the incidence of rape that resulted in the problem my child is having.

“This happened on a Monday. But I thought to myself that I could not watch my daughter for another week without knowing how to help her. That was when I took Ochanya to the caregiver, Enuwa Soo, who went with my wife to run some tests at a hospital and all the results came out. That was the first time we knew what was really wrong with my daughter,” Mr Ogbanje said. “This was in June,” he added.

Mr Ogbanje further narrated that Mr Ogbuja later came with his wife, kneeling and begging them to avoid reporting the matter to relevant authorities.

“The first time he came, he was in the company of his wife and some men. They brought some kolanuts and knelt down, saying I should understand that the deed is already done. They offered to continue treating my daughter and refund the money I had spent on her treatment in exchange for my silence, but I refused,” Mr Ogbanje said.

Mrs Ogbuja was reportedly the first to discover the heinous crime perpetrated then, by her son, Victor. Rather than ensure it did not repeat itself, the Ogbuja’s family watched the menace continue till it caused the13-year-old her dear life, Mr Ogbanje said.

The death of Ochanya has attracted widespread condemnation, with many demanding a thorough prosecution of Mr Ogbuja and his son, Victor.

While Mr Ogbuja has been arrested and detained by the police, Victor is still at large months after the matter was reported to the police.

The spokesperson for the Benue State Police Command, Fatai Owoseni, did not respond to calls and text messages when contacted about an update on the whereabouts of Victor by this newspaper on Thursday evening.

The Catholic Church, in a statement issued in November by members of the Knight of Saint Molumba, suspended Mr Ogbuja from the order of Catholic Knights, pending the outcome of the matter.

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Linda Ikeji reveals identity of son’s father

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Linda Ikeji reveals identity of son’s father

Popular Nigerian blogger, Linda Ikeji, has finally released photos of her three-month-old son and confirmed that a socialite, Sholaye Jeremi, is his father.

She disclosed this in an early morning post on Instagram on Friday.

“Meet my son Jayce! And yes, Sholaye Jeremi is his dad. Unfortunately, he and I are a completely closed chapter,” her post read.

She welcomed her son in a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S. on September 17, two days to her 38th birthday.

Little Jayce bears a striking resemblance to his father Jeremi, with whom his mum had a secret on-and-off affair over a three-year period.

In the post on her website, she shared how their paths crossed, and what led to their separation.

Linda, who described herself as single mum in the article, also addressed social media comments criticising her of being a hypocrite, for encouraging people to be celibate.

Linda’s latest revelation comes in the wake of allegations by the blogger, Kemi Olunloyo, that she faked her pregnancy to lure Jeremi into marrying her.

Not much is known about Jeremi except that he is believed to be an acquaintance of Nigeria’s minister of state for petroleum resources Ibe Kachikwu and Forte Oil chairman, Femi Otedola.

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Campaign on pro-people policies, not killings

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Campaign on pro-people policies, not killings

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to desist from using killings to campaign but to run an issue and people-based campaign.

The party said this in a statement Thursday by Lanre Issa-Onilu, its National Publicity Secretary.

According to the ruling party, everyone owes the victims of killings solemn conducts in their honour and in empathy with the bereaved families; “not to play politics with unfortunate events.”

The APC said the PDP in its latest campaign was attempting to “distort facts” on the security record of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.

This kind of “blatant falsehood” has become the favourite pastime of the PDP, it said.

The party said its statement was in reaction to a declaration by the PDP’s National Chairman, Uche Secondus, in a recent television interview that under the APC administration, more Nigerians have been killed than during the Civil War that ended in 1970.

The party said if it were to join the PDP in its “mindless game” of playing politics with the state of insecurity, then the number of casualties during the civil war will be pitched with what Nigerians witnessed under PDP.

It, however, said unlike PDP, it will engage the electorate based on the projects and pro-people policies it has embarked on as a government for the benefit of the country, as it believes significant successes have been recorded in the last three and half years.

The party named the Niger Delta violence which it said was prevalent under the PDP government, as one of the issues the APC has tackled, including the environmental cleanup of Ogoniland to restore the ecosystem of the area.

The environment of the Ogoni area in Rivers State has over the years been destroyed by oil leaks leading to the destruction of surrounding waters and farmlands which led to a report after a scientific study recommending a total clean up of the environment.

Although the report was released during the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2011, the administration did little to carry out the cleanup. President Muhammadu Buhari, shortly after his assumption of office in 2015, launched the clean-up exercise.
But not much was on the ground until last month when the former Minister of Environment, Ibrahim Jibril, said his ministry had reached the final stage of procurement processes that will lead to the award of contracts to 21 firms so the exercise can finally begin.

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