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Kachikwu blasts NNPC for increasing pump price in stations

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Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has criticized the recent N4 increase in price of petrol in Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) filling stations.

Kachikwu said this after receiving award at an event organized by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) in Abuja on Sunday.

NNPC had been selling fuel at N141 but on on November 1 increased it by N4 to the government benchmark of N145.

Reacting, Kachikwu said, “It is obviously humbling and too early in the day to receive an award and to be recognised so soon in some of the things we are trying to do. It is humbling, I thank them very much.

”First, I am not aware that the NNPC has increased price. I need to look into that.

“It is a bit of surprise for me, because there are processes in doing this, if they have done that, it means they are doing it wrongly.

”Let me find out what the facts are,” he told newsmen after the event.

Kachikwu, however, noted that the increase could be as a result of foreign exchange differentiation.

He explained that there were areas within government controlled aspects like payments to the Ministry of Transport and the Nigerian Ports Authority that were foreign currency denominated.

”Having said that, the reality is that what we did at the point where we did some liberalisation, was to enable the free market float the price.

”Obviously, as you look at foreign exchange differentiations and all that, it would impact. The worst thing you could do is to go back to an era where we basically were fixing prices.

”What we ought to be doing was watching the prices, making sure that they are not taking advantage of the common man; making sure that the template is respected.

”One of the things I think we had hoped to do, which we should still do, before we embark on any price increase is to work on those templates.

“Those who are investing must be able to predict the pricing methodologies, the pricing consequences and the actions, to be able to justify their investments.

“At the end of the day, I think PPPRA is the one that has the authority to say it is time.

“Otherwise, you have a crisis of individual decisions on pricing”, he said.

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Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno

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Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.

The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.

The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.

The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.

A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.

“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.

But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.

“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”

Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.

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EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.

This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.

In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.

The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.

The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.

Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.

However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.

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Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.

She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. Results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.

“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.

According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.

On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.

At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.

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