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Kano State Fertilizer Company closed down for adulteration of fertilizer

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The Kano State Fertilizer Company (KASCO) Ltd has been ordered to be shut down immediately by the Federal Government for allegedly adulterating fertilizers and manually mixing the components of the NKP 20:10:10 blend of the agricultural input.

The order to close the company, owned by the Kano State Government, came through the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative and the National Sovereign Investment Agency (NSIA), through its subsidiary, NAIC-NPK Ltd.

KASCO, which is headed by Mr. Bala Inua, a close friend of the State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, was discovered, during a sting operation, to be adulterating the NPK 20:10:10 blend of fertilizer and selling same to unsuspecting members of the public.

In a video circulating on social media, labourers at the factory are seen manually mixing fertilizer raw materials with shovels and using the same to fill fertilizer bags on the factory floor.

Commenting on the video, an expert said: “Hazardous chemicals are used to blend fertilizers and if badly handled, could endanger the lives of people. When not in its right proportions, the chemicals could also destroy the soil and permanently compromise its ability for valuable crop yield.”

It was learnt that Kano State owns two fertilizer blending plants but has allegedly abandoned them due to lack of maintenance.

A source hinted that besides adulteration, there are also fears that manual handling of fertilizer blending may provide access to unauthorised people to some raw materials such as Urea ammonium nitrate that could be used for illegal purposes.

Urea ammonium nitrate (UAN), anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, diammonium phosphate (DAP), ammonium sulfate, monoammonium phosphate (MAP), and muriate of potash are ingredients commonly found in commercially blended fertilizers.

According to Wikipedia, Urea nitrate is a fertilizer-based high explosive that has been used in improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and various other terrorist acts elsewhere in the world, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. This is why the Federal Government, through the national Sovereign Wealth Authority, has exercised control of the chemicals to ensure they do not end up in the wrong hands.

NSIA through its subsidiary, NAIC-NPK Ltd, is in charge of the implementation of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), an initiative of the Federal Government designed to ensure high-value fertilizers are made available to Nigerian farmers at affordable costs. It also aims at delivering significant quantities of NPK (20:10:10) fertilizers in time to farmers for wet season farming.

Adulteration of fertilizers has recently begun to spike in some parts of the country. A few weeks ago, the Nigeria Police Force, Niger State Command, intercepted a truck-load of adulterated fertilizers, heading to Bida from Minna, the state capital.

According to the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Wasiu Abiodun, the discovery was made by Policemen attached to the Kpakungu Division of the state, while on patrol along the Kpakungu-Bida Road

The PPRO said investigations led to the arrest of the driver of the vehicle and one Alhaji Maikudi Abdullahi, the owner of the factory where the alleged adulteration of fertilizers was taking place. A total of 456 bags the adulterated fertilizer was recovered from this factory.

Phone calls to Mr. Bala Inua, the CEO of Kano State Fertilizers Company was not answered before going to press.

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NIGERIA

BUHARI suspends Magu as EFCC Acting Chairman

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Ibrahim Magu has been suspended as Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by President Muhammadu Buhari, Signaturetv.org can confirm.

Magu spent the night in a police cell at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) Headquarters in Abuja.

This followed a six-hour grilling by a presidential panel, chaired by Justice Ayo Salami, a former president of the Court of Appeal.

Buhari set up the panel to probe various allegations levelled against Magu, following a petition by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the Department of State Service (DSS).

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NIGERIA

Senate passes sexual harassment prohibition bill

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A Bill that seeks to protect students in the nation’s tertiary institutions was passed for third reading in the Senate on Tuesday.

The Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress sexual harassment of students in tertiary educational institutions and for matters connected therewith, Bill, 2020” was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie-Omo Agege (Delta Central) and co-sponsored by 105 other Senators.

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NIGERIA

WAEC appeals for PPE ahead of WASSCE Exam period reduced by four weeks

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The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has appealed to the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, State Governments and corporate organizations for funds to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for manpower that would conduct the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) starting August 4.

WAEC Nigeria Head of National Office, Mr. Patrick Areghan, said at a briefing on Tuesday that it would need more supervisors and invigilators for the examination kitted with appropriate PPE, the cost of which was not captured in the budget for the examination.

Lamenting the examination would be conducted under unfriendly conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Areghan said it would cost the Council more than N50 million to give one face mask and one hand sanitizer to each of its supervisors nationwide.

He said: “There are many well-spirited individuals donating face masks and hand sanitizers – that is what we are asking for.

“Even if we are going to give only one washable/reusable face mask and one bottle of hand sanitizer to every staff and supervisor that will not cost us less than N50 million.

“And if we make it two per staff and supervisor, that will not cost us less than N100 million.

” A committee has already worked on it; these are not just fictitious figures. We have even done negotiations with some companies.

“If we now say if you have hand sanitizers, give us; if you have face masks, give us, is it out of place?” he asked at the briefing at the Council’s headquarters in Yaba.

“These are not normal times. When we were planning for the examination nobody anticipated a situation like this.

“When we talk about supervision; we used to have one supervisor to 299 candidates. Once it is 300 we now have two supervisors.

“But now we are going to have one supervisor to about 150 candidates in order to maintain this social or physical distancing.

“All these have cost implications. For example, we are going to engage 23, 250 supervisors from 10,667. That is a lot of money.

“Now, we have 19,129 schools. If a school has 300 candidates, for example, we are going to have two supervisors. And it also even depends on the number of classrooms they are going to use because we are going to maintain a social distancing of two meters apart.

“How many candidates will sit in a hall like this and put one supervisor there? So we are really going to spend more money than originally budgeted.”

A total of 1,549,463 SS3 candidates have been registered to take the examination in 19,129 schools nationwide on Mondays-Saturdays from August 3-September 5, 2020.

Areghan said the examination would hold at the same time in the other four member countries.

However, he noted that the international timetable for the examination would be domesticated for use in Nigeria to align with local time.

He said the examination was shortened by four weeks to reduce the period of mass interaction and check the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Areghan said schools would be required to soap and running water for handwashing; hand sanitizers, non-contact infrared thermometers, as well as face masks for all candidates.

He added that there would be two-meter spacing between candidates while regular hand washing would be required during the examination.

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