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Is Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production, consumption as Buhari, Osinbajo claim?

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Buhari govt wants teachers' retirement age raised to 65 - Minister

The Muhammadu Buhari administration has always maintained that its ‘rice revolution’ has made the nation attain food sufficiency, especially in rice production.

For far too long, the government has claimed that the Anchor Borrowers’ Program, its flagship agriculture program, has reduced the nation’s dependence on importation of rice.

Responding to a question on the state of the economy in an interview with ThisDay/Arise TV last week, Mr Buhari restated the same claim on how reduced importation figures are a sign of surge in local production and consumption of rice.

In the interview published on Monday, which is by far, his most revealing interaction with the local media after his first and only media chat held shortly after he was sworn-in in 2015, Mr Buhari again echoed the sentiment of the government that its administration has done well in rice production.

“I am sure you know that we virtually achieved food security,” the president said. “And you, especially you who are responsible for informing the people of Nigeria, you have failed, in my own opinion, to fully appreciate the luck we have and what we did in agriculture.”

He later spoke on the intervention in fertilizer, saying that the government partnered Morocco and it has made locally produced fertilizer available to farmers at cheap prices.

He attributed the nation’s ‘food sufficiency’ to the ABP intervention anchored by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ministry of Agriculture. He explained that farmers were given soft loans without interest and that impacted on the nation’s local production and reduced importation in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“We don’t import rice, virtually, anymore. We don’t import rice. We have stopped importing rice and we are even exporting grains,” the president said. “We made very, very large stride in agriculture.”

Last December, the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, made a similar claim at the Vice Presidential Debate, when he said Nigeria produces 90 per cent of the rice it consumes.

Earlier in March, Audu Ogbe, minister of agriculture, made a similar claim, when he said Thailand accused Nigeria of being responsible for the collapse of its seven rice mills, following the drastic fall in rice importation from the country. That claim was faulted by the diplomat.

For Messrs Buhari, Osinbajo and Ogbeh, one thing is common: they have attributed the nation’s reduced rice importation figures to the effectiveness of the government’s ‘rice revolution’. But how true is this claim?

CLAIM 1: Nigeria’s rice importation figures have slumped

According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, the volume of rice importation into Nigeria (in metric tonnes) declined drastically in 2018. Isaac Okorafor, CBN’s spokesperson, said the figures obtained from India and Thailand, (two dominant rice exporters to Nigeria) indicated that as at September, Thailand had so far, exported about 5,161 metric tonnes of rice to Nigeria, while India sold only 426 as at July.

The CBN’s spokesperson attributed the reduction to concerted efforts by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the interventions of the CBN, adding that the bank had not allocated any foreign exchange for the importation of rice this year.

PREMIUM TIMES’ independent check revealed that in 2016, about 58,260MT of rice was imported into Nigeria from Thailand, according to the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

This represents a huge reduction when compared to about 805,765 MT recorded in 2015. By November 2017, the figure reduced to 23,192 MT and between January and November 2018, the figure had crashed to 6,277 MT.

Within the years, the Thai Exporters statistics show that there had been a 72.9 per cent reduction in quantity of export to Nigeria while the export value had also crashed by 72.2 per cent. This, clearly, confirms that there has been reduction in Nigeria’s rice import figures.

CLAIM 2: Importation figures crashed because of local production, consumption

On the flipside, as Nigeria’s importation figures slide downward, neighbouring Benin Republic has seen its export figures skyrocket exponentially, within the same years.

According to the Thai Import statistics, from 805,765 MT in 2015, Benin Republic has seen import figures rise to 1,650,237 MT in 2017 and 1,487,188 MT between January and November 2018.

Nigerian borders are notoriously porous and several reports have established how numerous goods, including rice, find their way into the country through the borders, especially the ones adjoining Benin Republic.

In November 2016, the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, said the nation’s boarders were porous because of their interconnectivity with adjoining nations, adding that there was no line demarcating Nigeria from its neighbours.

Similarly, Mr Ogbeh once acknowledged the illegal importation of rice and other products into the country through the land borders. “Too much rice, too much fake fertiliser is still coming across the borders into this country in spite of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we have with them they are not listening,” the minister said in March 2018.

More importantly, Benin Republic consumes mostly white rice and most of its par-boiled rice imports, up to 30,000 containers per year, are routed via transit shipments through Niger to the northwest of Nigeria, according to HAS Rice, a leading exporter in Pakistan.

Between Tuesday and Thursday, PREMIUM TIMES monitored activities in Sango and Owode markets, two major rice hubs in South Western Nigerian with border communities stretching through the notorious Owode-Idiroko road. The road is an international lane linking Nigeria and Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, among other countries.

Multiple traders at the markets confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the bags of parboiled rice being transported from the markets are smuggled into Nigeria from neighbouring countries. In three days, PREMIUM TIMES observed that an average of two commercial vehicles (Danfo) conveyed bags of rice from the markets to Agege and Alimoso through Iyana-Ipaja, arguably two of Lagos’ most populated areas. Checks revealed that while some were produced in Thailand, others were produced in Pakistan.

The locally produced LAKE rice is rarely available, except during festive periods.

Last December, Nigerians lamented its unavailability and were forced to consume foreign alternative.

Since the CBN has declined giving out Forex for importation of rice, the foreign alternative are largely smuggled into the country through the borders in Ogun, Lagos, Katsina, among other places.

VERDICT:

The claim that Nigeria’s rice import figures have crashed is TRUE.

The claim that the crash was triggered by surge in local production and consumption is at best, INCONCLUSIVE––and at worst, FALSE.

This is because, smuggling and other illegal activities, rather than a surge in local production, have sustained local consumption of rice among Nigerians.

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Court sentences Man to 5 years in prison for manslaughter

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Four tenants in court for allegedly exhuming landlord’s corpse, selling his property

 

An Ado Ekiti High Court has sentenced a 52-year-old man, Joshua Akanbi, to 15 years in prison for manslaughter. He committed the offence during a land dispute between Ayede Ekiti and Itaji Ekiti in 2017.

The convict was arraigned alongside Abiodun Ogundamisi, 40, and Segun Ogundamisi, 22, on a two-count charge of conspiracy and murder preferred against them.

The trial judge, Justice Toyin Abodunde, held that evidence before the court proved that Akanbi was guilty of manslaughter for opening fire on one Seyi Oladipupo during a dispute when the two communities were laying claim to Orisunmibare farm settlement which later caused the victim’s death.

Justice Abodunde ruled that evidence before the court was not enough to find the accused persons guilty of murder under Section 316 of Criminal Code Cap C16 Laws of Ekiti State 2012 and subsequently discharged them of the charge.

The court consequently found the convict guilty of manslaughter for shooting the deceased contravening Section 319 and 326 Cap 6 Laws of Ekiti State 2012.

An argument ensued between the two contending parties who invaded the land with weapons accusing one another of trespass.

The convict reportedly opened fire when an attempt was made to disarm him of the gun he was holding.

The accused persons were first arraigned on July 6, 2017, when the charges were read to them to which they pleaded not guilty.

During the incident which occurred on January 31, 2017, at the farm settlement, the deceased was rushed to the nearest hospital after being shot but he later died owing to excessive loss of blood according to the medical personnel who conducted a post-mortem examination on the body at Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital.

To prove the case against the convict, the solicitor-general of Ekiti State, Mr. Babatope Ojo, called seven witnesses including the investigating police officer (IPO) and the medical doctor.

Exhibits tendered include one pump action gun, photographs taken at the scene of the incident, live cartridges and statements of the accused persons.

The accused persons in their defence through their counsel, Mr. Sule Longe, called eight witnesses and also tendered photographs of the machete wounds sustained by the convict and the statements volunteered to the police.

 

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Three Schoolgirls face 5 years jail term for writing on President, Nkurunziza’s Photo on their books

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Three schoolgirls have been charged by Burundian authorities defacing a picture of President Pierre Nkurunziza, spokeswoman for the country’s Supreme Court, Agnès Bangiricenge, said on Thursday.

The three girls were among seven school children arrested last week in Kirundo province, in Burundi’s northeast and some 200 kilometres from the commercial capital Bujumbura. Four others were subsequently released.

All were accused of insulting Nkurunziza by scribbling over images of him printed in their school text books.

A regional court in Kirundo decided on Wednesday to detain the three further and proceed with a full trial, Bangiricenge said.

They will await trial in a nearby prison and could face up to five years in jail on conviction, a judge told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“It is true that scribbling (on the president’s picture) is a punishable offence under the Burundian law but since it was committed by teenagers, I believe  this is a mitigating circumstance,” David Ninganza, a children’s rights defender working for local group SOGEPAE, told Reuters.

“Those school children are not engaged in any political fights and need no political posts. That’s why judges have to consider all those issues in their investigations.”

School children have in the past been kicked out of school for similar offences, with some jailed and released.

Source: Reuters

 

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Two JetBlue Pilots drug & rape 3 Airline Workers, infect one with STD

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Two pilots of JetBlue Airline have allegedly raped three airline workers during a layover in Puerto Rico and even left one of the women with an STD, according to a new lawsuit.

The Brooklyn suit alleges that on May 9 in San Juan, crew members met Flight Officers Eric Johnson and Dan Watson on the beach.

The women starting drinking beers with the men once learning that they were pilots with JetBlue, the suit reads according to the New York Post.

‘The beer was laced with a drug, and after that point, the rest of the night became a blur for [the women],’ the lawsuit reads. It was filed on Monday.

Both women and a third crew member wound up at the Intercontinental Hotel with the pilots.

Jane Doe 1,  from Riverton, Utah, claims that Johnson raped her and the third crew member in the hotel.

‘Johnson was on top of [Jane Doe 1] raping her,’ the lawsuit states. ‘[Jane Doe 1] felt the influence of the drug that [Johnson] laced the beer with, and was unable to react to the situation, but was simply aware that it was happening.

‘[Her] flashes of memory included Johnson having sexual intercourse with the other crewmember who was also under the influence of the drugs.’

Johnson is said to have thanked the woman for ‘making my fantasy come true.’

Jane Doe 2,  from Fort Worth, Texas, says that she became ill from the drugs and was repeatedly puking.

‘Johnson and Watson drugged [Jane Doe 2] and intended to rape [her] but did not when [she] began vomiting which was a turnoff,’ the suit continues.

While on a flight to Newark, NJ, the next morning, the women ‘expressed to each other that they were stunned by what had happened’ and expressed feeling ‘groggy and numb.’

The women say that the airline has taken no action against the pilots after they were notified of the incident.

Jane Doe 1 also accused Johnson of intentionally giving her HPV.

‘What happened to my clients is truly horrific, and Jet Blue’s failure to take appropriate action is appalling,’ said Abraham Melamed, the women’s attorney.

Both women are suing for at least $75,000 plus attorney’s fees.

JetBlue said in a statement that it couldn’t comment on pending litigation but that it took ‘allegations of violent or inappropriate behavior very seriously and investigates such claims thoroughly.’

Daily Mail.com

 

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