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Abuja-Kaduna train service resumes July 29, says minister



The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Abuja-Kaduna rail service would resume on July 29.

Amaechi disclosed this while test-running new coaches recently deployed on the route on Saturday.

Train services were shut down in March to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

According to the minister, there has been pressure from several quarters to resume the railway service before Sallah.

He said, “We will resume the Abuja-Kaduna train service on Wednesday, July 29.”

On the fare, Amaechi said after due considerations, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), agreed that the fare be reviewed to accommodate well-meaning Nigerians.

He said the fare for the economy class was reviewed to N3000 and the Business class, N6000.

The minister reiterated that measures were already in place to ensure all safety precautions were taken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 onboard trains.

The Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, said the corporation was ready for the resumption on Wednesday.

“We are ready, it is just a matter of calling the essential workers in the station. We have been checking the coaches and warming the locomotives, so we are ready to go,” Okhiria said.

On the frequency of trips on the route, Okhiria said the plan was to get it to 14 trips per day as against the initial eight.

He said for Wednesday, however, only eight trips would be embarked on because of the introduction of the Diesel Multiple Unit, 10 new coaches, and two locomotives that have arrived.

“So the DMU are still on their way from Lagos to Abuja and we have to adjust, don’t forget the ticket for the DMU is not the same as the ordinary coaches so we have to adjust and have those tickets.

“The e-ticket has been approved but it will take the time of up to three months for it to come to the doorsteps. While we are doing that, the best move is to be giving out the hard copy of the ticket before the e-ticket starts.”

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Buhari contravened law on judges’ appointment – Court



The Federal High Court in Abuja ruled on Wednesday that the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), acted in contravention of the law when he sent the names of 11 candidates recommended to him by the National Judicial Council for appointment as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to the Senate for screening and confirmation.

Justice Inyang Ekwo made the pronouncement in a suit filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Oladimeji Ekengba, contending that the forwarding of the names of the 11 nominees by Buhari to the Senate was in breach of section 256(2) of the Nigerian Constitution.

Buhari had, without explanation, picked 11 names from among the 33 recommended to him in April this year by the NJC for appointment as FCT High Court judges.

He forwarded the 11 names to the Senate for screening, but the upper legislative chamber had declined to act on the President’s list having admitted that it had no role to play in the appointment of FCT judges.

The 11 judges have since been sworn in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

Aside from faulting the sending of the names of 11 of the candidates to the Senate, Ekengba, in his suit, also contended that the President lacked the power to pick and choose whom among the candidates to appoint as judges recommended by the NJC.

He sought among other prayers, an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Senate from screening and confirming the candidates as judges of the FCT High Court.

In his judgment on Wednesday, Justice Inyag Ekwo agreed with the plaintiff that Buhari acted in contravention of the provision of Section 256(2) of the Constitution by forwarding the 11 names to the Senate.

The judge also agreed with the plaintiff that only the appointment of a head of court, like the Chief Judge, required Senate confirmation.

He, however, ruled that the contravention of the law by Buhari did not affect the judges’ inauguration.

The suit had the Senate and the Senate President joined as the 3rd and 4th defendants respectively.

Also joined as defendants are Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, the Clerk of the Senate, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, and the National Judicial Council, as the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th defendants, respectively.

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Elumelu, Nigerian doctor among TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020



Chairman of the United Bank for Africa, Tony Elumelu, and a Nigerian physician, Dr Tunji Funsho, have been named in the 2020 TIME100, the annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognises the activism, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.

Also, Toyin Adeyemi, a 27-year-old Nigerian-American novelist, who is also a creative writing coach and best known for her #1 NY Times bestselling book – Children of Blood and Bone, was among those listed.

In a short address attached to Elemelu’s nomination, president of Dangote Industries Ltd, Aliko Dangote, said, “He (Elumelu) is a leading proponent of “Africapitalism,” a belief that Africa’s private sector can and must play a leading role in the continent’s development through long-term investments, as well as entrepreneurship and regional connectivity.

“After deepening the financial market in Africa, he has found an equally important niche: giving a voice of hope to millions of youths across Africa. Having come so far, Tony still forges on, striking a fine balance between personal satisfaction and societal impact.”

Funsho, a cardiologist based in Lagos, was said to have played an essential role in ensuring Africa’s certification as wild polio-free in August 2020.

Reacting, Funsho, who is the leader of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, said, “I’m honored to be recognised by TIME for my part in ensuring that no child in Africa will ever again be paralysed by wild polio, a disease that once disabled 75,000 African children every single year.

“Eradicating the wild poliovirus in Africa was a team effort that required the cooperation and dedication of governments, partners, Rotary members, hundreds of thousands of health workers, and countless parents who chose to have their children vaccinated against polio.”

In August 2019, Nigeria reached three years without a case of wild poliovirus.

The World Health Organization subsequently certified Nigeria and other African nations polio-free on August 25, 2020.


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FG, labour meet Thursday over electricity, fuel hike



The Federal Government will on Thursday meet again with the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress on the threat by the organised labour to proceed on an indefinite strike and protest over the hike in electricity tariffs and fuel pump price.

The FG is expected to unfold its palliative plans during the parley which would hold at the Banquet hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, disclosed the meeting date in an email on Wednesday.

It read, “The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige will be hosting a meeting with the Organised Labour. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 24, 2020, and the venue is the Banquet hall, Presidential Villa, by 3pm.”

The FG and the unions had met penultimate Tuesday but the dialogue ended in a deadlock following the failure of the government to reverse the price increase or offer palliatives to cushion the effects on the workers.

The NLC and TUC subsequently declared strike and protest scheduled to commence from Tuesday.

Both unions said they would collaborate to execute the industrial action for maximum effect.

Rising from a meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, the National Executive Council of the NLC comprising the chairpersons of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory endorsed the decision earlier taken by the Central Working Committee of the Congress on the strike last Wednesday.

The CWC had handed down a two-week ultimatum to the FG to reverse the price hike or face industrial action.

The TUC had also mobilized its affiliate members to participate in the proposed civil disobedience.

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