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Aregbesola To Correctional Centres: Ensure That All Escaped Inmates Are Arrested, Brought Back To Custody  

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The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has called on the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) to spare no effort at ensuring that all escaped inmates are arrested and brought back into custody.
The Minister made the call at the opening of a two-day retreat for senior management of the service in Sokoto, Sokoto State on Monday, 27 June, 2022.
He said the strategies and deliberations at the retreat should be centered around solutions on recapturing all escaped inmates to safeguard communities who may become prey to criminal activities of escaped inmates.
The Minister also noted with dismay, the negative impact of the #EndSARS protests which later turned violent leading to attacks of custodial facilities which gave rise to the attacks on the facilities.
He said “Retreats are for bonding, contemplating purpose and setting future goals” and a  major issue that must be considered during the this retreat is the decongestion of custodial facilities.
He pointed that during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, “one of the policies we quickly put in place then was the decongestion programme under which thousands of inmates were released on compassionate ground.”
The follow up to that is the consideration that we should find further ways to keep decongesting our facilities. We started work on the idea of compiling the list of convicted inmates serving light terms for not too serious offences, who were in custody because they could not pay their fines”
While commending the service for being able to manage the centres during the pandemic without recording a single infection, Aregbesola said the agency did a good job of keeping the virus away and must continue to keep the facilities safe and sound from inside and out.
Continuing, he urged that as the officers deliberate, strategize and set target for the next five years, it must  ensure that the biodata of all inmates are harmonised with sister agencies, the Nigeria Financial Unit (NFIU), all banks and the INTERPOL to track all escaped inmates.
He said “It is also very important to have their fingerprints, pictures and other details you have with you to be harmonised with them.”
The Controller General of the service, Haliru Nababa, said that the two-day retreat will not only afford the hierarchy of the agency the opportunity to restrategise and bond towards efficiency in service delivery,  it also serves to provide clear perception on set targets.
He said the current capacity of the 244 custodial facilities in the country stands at 58,278 as against the population of 75,000 inmates it now holds, leading to congestion of inmates, worsened by recent incessant attacks which were externally organised and executed.
“Drawing from the above, the NCoS has taken measures that will forestall future attack such as the formation and activation of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) initiate, more intelligence sharing with other security agencies,  the sensitization and encouragement of State Governments to implement non-custodial measures as well as the scaling up of the capacity of Armed Squad and Intelligence personnel on the use of high calibre weaponry and intelligence gathering.”
Whilst declaring the retreat open, the Governor of Sokoto State, Alh. Aminu Tambuwal, who was represented by his deputy, Manir Dan’iya, stated that his government will continue to support the Nigeria Correctional Service in achieving it goal of reforming and rehabilitating its inmate.
“As a government, we will continue to support you in your role as one of the critical operators in the administration of criminal justice system. The role of reforming and rehabilitating inmates cannot be overemphasized in order for us to have a crime free society.
“I wish you a successful deliberations and on behalf of the Governor, I hereby declare this retreat open,” the governor stated.

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No Passport Booklet Shortage Again In Nigeria – FG; Deploys 10,000 Booklets To New P/Harcourt Passport Production Centre

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There is no shortage of booklets again for the production of passport in Nigeria, the Federal Government has revealed.

This was made known by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, at the commissioning of the Enhanced Passport Production Centre in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital on Tuesday, 9 August, 2022. The newly commissioned passport centre will now be responsible for the production of passport demands from Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States.

“We have left no stone unturned in our quest to make passports available to Nigerians. Last year alone, we provided 1.3 million passports to Nigerians. As of today, there is no booklets shortage in Nigeria.

“As at the second quarter of this year (in June), the NIS have provided 645,000 passports out of the 750,000 applications received. To address the challenge of the backlog, we have sent 11,000 booklets to Ikoyi, 11,000 to Alausa and 8,000 to FESTAC centres in Lagos.

“We have also sent sufficient booklets to all the centres nationwide to address this challenge. There is therefore no excuse again for delay and non-issuance within a reasonable period,” Minister told the cheering public.

The Minister also urged the listening public to make sure they apply by themselves online to avoid being shortchanged by unscrupulous elements.

“I will urge applicants for the Nigerian passport to apply early enough before their travel date to avoid cutting corners and falling into the hands of scammers and other opportunists. It is important also that they apply by themselves at the Nigeria Immigration Service portal and not through touts and unscrupulous officials, which often bring heartaches.

“We have provided a window of six weeks and three weeks for fresh application and renewal respectively, after biometric data capture, by which time, other things being equal, the passport will be ready for collection. This timeline is to enable NIS investigate and validate the claims of applicants and confer integrity on the passport issued. It is a reasonable provision in passport administration by global standard. There is no wait-and-get passport service anywhere in the world. The only wait-and-get passport is passport-sized photograph from Polaroid camera,” the Minister stated.

The Minister further stated that the Passport Production Centre launched today will serve applicants from Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States, but was quick to add that it doesn’t confer any advantage or disadvantage on any of the centres, noting that a deployment of 10,000 booklets has been deployed to serve the fours states with immediate effect. He also stated that there are currently no backlogs in any of the four states.

“The production centre we are launching today will serve Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States for production purpose only. It doesn’t confer any advantage or disadvantage on the applicants in any of the four states. It’s simply a production centre.

“We have also delivered 10,000 passports to this centre. This is in addition to the fact that there are no backlogs to be cleared. In some advanced countries we often like to cite, it takes months to procure their passports. But in addition to the standardized timeline, we have also introduced tracking mechanism in the application process, to enable applicants monitor the progress of their application.

“We are also introducing data capture centres all over the country before the end of this year, to eliminate physical contacts with NIS officials. We shall continue to introduce necessary and available innovations to passport administration in order to best serve applicants in our quest for establishing citizenship integrity,” the Minister stated.

While speaking, Governor Nyesom Wike, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Gogo Banigo, promised to continue to support the Nigeria Immigration Service in the state, as it was the policy of his administration.

“We would continue to support the Nigeria Immigration Service, just as we provided the building now housing the production centre.

“Just as we provide support to all security agencies in the state and in particular, the agencies under the ministry of Interior, we would continue to prioritize the welfare of the citizens of the state,” Gov. Wike stated.

During his opening address, Acting Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Idris Isah Jere, revealed that the service will no longer condone any act of indiscipline by officer, noting that they must be professional in carrying out their assigned duties.

Also at the event were: the General Officer Commanding, 6 Division, Nigerian Army, represented by Brig. General EC Echebuwe; Commander, 115 Special Operations Group, Group Captain AA Opaleye; Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Mr. Friday, Eboka; Controller of Customs, Rivers State Command, Dappa Williams; Rivers State Director, Department of State Services, Mr. Mohammed Shittu; Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Umar Salisu Galadunchi; Rivers State Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Mark Balm; amongst other dignitaries.

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Climate Change: Delivering Objectives Of Act 2021 Without “Humongous Bureaucracy” – By Mardiyyah Omikunle   

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Recent moves by President Buhari to implement Climate Change Act 2021, Nigeria’s framework law to deliver green growth for sustainable economic development, are rubbing against bureaucratic infighting over the form and composition of the implementing mechanism the National Climate Change Council (NCCC) and its secretariat. The NCCC is chaired by the President with broad participation from government and civil society, and is supported by a Secretariat headed by a Director General who is recommended by NCCC and appointed by the President. Because the NCCC is chaired by the President and Vice President and located within the presidency, it signals to the world that Nigeria is taking a whole-of-Government approach to low carbon development and is not merely delegating the issue to a line ministry. Recent pronouncements by the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, questioned both the ‘humongous bureaucracy’ CCA created and the composition of the NCCC. Such doubts as COP 27 approaches, may be misinterpreted as sending mixed signals to development partners interested in supporting Nigeria’s energy transition.
Recently, the Minister vented his frustration at the unwieldy ‘humongous bureaucracy” of “state and zonal directors” in the NCCC’s secretariat. He went further adding that “membership of the council also inadvertently takes out commissioners of environment as members of the Climate Change Council. The secretariat has no directorates to support functions of the director-general, no transitional provisions in relation to functions of the department of climate change and the Climate Change Council.” The minister then announced that he had set up a technical review committee within the Ministry of Environment to initiate “amendments of the Act”.
An internal ministry of environment technical review committee to amend the Act is the classic bureaucratic response to a bureaucratic problem. The Act’s implementing structure appear designed to avoid capture by a single ministry and be nimble enough to respond to reform priorities across ministries departments and agencies and between the levels of government. While this may have drawbacks, the more pertinent question relating to structure and institutional transition is whether the NCCC and the secretariat can provide the framework for sustainable economic development achieved through low carbon means to occur across government and society. Here, the ministry of environment has specific inputs to make the climate diagnosis. The treatment plan or cure is actually provided by other stakeholders responsible for the policies, technologies and societal changes that make sustainable economic growth a reality. The treatment aspects of the CCA’s objectives and NCCC’s mandate involve inputs primarily from other agencies such as the petroleum, power, transport, water, works and housing sectors among others. The CCA and NCCC thus require a whole-of-government review, and not just a ministry of environment technical review.
While, the Minister and the ministry are understandably territorial about the CCA and NCCC, the NCCC is unlike other councils or committees superintending particular sectors as with say communications with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). The NCCC and its secretariat are crosscutting institutions that resemble the defunct Office of the Senior-Special-Assistant to the President on Millennium-Development-Goals (OSSAP-MDGs) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). The BPE as secretariat to the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) closely resembles the NCCC and its secretariat. Both OSSAP-MDGs and BPE were created within the Presidency and operated on a whole-of-government premise rather than being hived-off from a parent-ministry – a kind of prodigal children as the Minister seems to think the NCCC and secretariat are.
It is worth mentioning that the pioneering Director-Generals or leaders of both OSSAP-MDGs and BPE had successful non-civil service professional and managerial careers and brought that private sector drive, energy, can-do spirit and organisational discipline to the new institution. They also possessed the requisite stakeholder management skills to navigate social and political interests across all levels of government. This does raise questions, given the vast all-encompassing and existential challenge climate change poses, whether the Minister sees the proverbial forest from the ministerial tree.
Seeing the forest from the ministerial tree generates the perspective needed to discern the internal inconsistencies in the Minister’s position. As it is difficult to reconcile the minister’s criticism of the CCA with his proud announcement, in the same breathe, “that just last week, Mr. President appointed the pioneer director-general of the National Climate Change Council.” If the deficiencies in the Act can prompt the minister to review and recommend amendments, why then announce the appointment of a Director-General when the CCA expressly says that such an appointment can only be made after the NCCC recommends a Director-General to the President? Such an appointment and announcement fits squarely into the problems the CCA has that the technical review committee should have also reviewed. It is even more irregular when the appointment is announced by the minister or the ministry rather than the Presidency, which usually announces such appointments. It is unclear whether the appointment has been announced by the President or presidency at all. These irregularities and inconsistencies will not have gone unnoticed by the international community, private sector investors and interested parties to Nigeria’s climate change objectives.
In the end raising issues about the CCA while making unconfirmed pronouncements on staffing this close to the 27th Conference of Parties (COP 27) in November in Egypt sends the signal that Nigeria is not ready politically, institutionally or policy-wise to receive the investment required to transition to a low carbon economy. This ultimately defeats the very objectives of the CCA.
If Nigeria is to achieve the objectives in the CCA, the Minister and Ministry of Environment will need to play their indispensable part by not going it alone, but by being in lock step with the entire government and people of Nigeria. We all go farther on the road to net zero when we go together.
Mardiyyah Omikunle, specialises in Energy Law and Climate Change, she writes from Lagos.

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Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan Hits the Right Safety Button with LNSA

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Since the inception of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s Administration in 2019, there is one thing he reiterated in his manifesto and has sworn to uphold under his THEMES agenda where he highlighted Security as one of the pillars of his administration. In a bid to ensure all Lagosians can go about their lawful activities without fear of the unknown, he saddled himself with the responsibility as the Chief Security Officer of the state to ensure he puts the necessary security apparatus in place to ensure the safety of lives and properties. Without a doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu delivered in every aspect as no stone was left unrolled. Taking the Security of lives and properties serious, he invested a heavy financial war chest in the acquisition of security gadgets for the Police, the Response Rapid Squad RRS and the Lagos State Neighbourhood Agency LNSA headed by the indefatigable Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan.
Since the Administrative commencement of the Agency in 2017 during the Past government till this moment, Mr. Governor has ensured proper funding for the safety outfit investing Billions of Naira to equip it so it can give the necessary security support in the aspect of surveillance to the necessary agency for a swift collaboration and a positive synergy for a better Lagos. When Ifalade took over in 2021, He was like a fresh Gust of Summer wind who had a loft idea owning to his background as a seasoned technocrat having worked at the Law Enforcement Training Institute LETI and his experience working with a dredging company and also as a season legal luminary. On assumption of office, one thing he ensured was to bring a different feel to consolidate the effort of Governor Sanwo-Olu in ensuring the agency functions optimally to ensure it lives up to its expected expectation. He used his good relationship to ensure Mr. Governor increases his stake in the affairs of the agency. The transformation agenda started by re-orientating his officers on proper conduct, proper dress code and proper ethics among the citizenry. He introduced the use of Body cameras for his officers. He also ensured they often attend LETI for proper updating of knowledge in discharging their duties. In addition to that, he also ensured proper welfare packages for his staff by raising a motion for life insurance for officers who are injured in the cause of discharging their duties or eventually loss of life. This was infused as many commended his effort that to protect lives and properties, one must be fully motivated to give his all. Falade did not only stop at that with the help of Mr. Governor, He also ensured several visiting routines were taken to ensure the functionality of each Local government and a general meeting with the head of commands where they relay their concerns on pressing issues and the challenges. This gives room for positive and negative feedback which the agency acts upon to be above board at all times.
In his process of rebranding, he also requests the permission of Mr Governor to further recruit more hands to enable adequate manpower for the agency to function well. Currently, the Agency is recruiting over one thousand officers who will be commissioned into the agency before the end of the year. In a bid to also spread its tentacles through a public and private partnership with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP, the agency launched an anti-trafficking unit last year August in collaboration with NAPTIP on child and human trafficking among other vices. In a bid to rebrand, he has gotten the approval of Mr Governor to create several units in the agency that will also be supportive of intelligence gathering. The agency will create a research and documentation unit, Forensic unit, Situation Room, Water Ways surveillance, Drone deployment, Forest Monitor team and a host of others.
Over the week, at the Agency’s head office in Bolade, Oshodi, Falade and ensured the distribution of tactical materials like; caution tapes, Ropes, Scanners, Tasers, Shin and elbow guide, Generators, Riot Shield, LNSA Photo book and a host of items for administrative purposes and enforcement.
In his quest to show effectiveness in duty through proper monitoring, the agency under Falade’s watch also commissioned 16 zonal heads. The Zonal heads will monitor zonal local Government unit. He also handed out brand new patrol cars to the officers who emerged having gone through proper scrutiny, training and exams. The Zonal head will ensure the smooth running of their domain and ensure all unit functions optimally and report to the Agency’s head office. As part of the rebranding process, The Agency next month will commence the rebranding of all its offices across Lagos with full painting with the agency’s Blue and Yellow colour with visible signage to ensure uniformity. The agency will also commence building and furnishing of new offices for some units that run under a temporary office.
A close source disclosed that; all these giant strides and impeccable records would not have been possible if not for the full support and the quest for the protection of lives and property of the State Government under Governor Sanwo-Olu. In a quick conversation; Prince Ifalade averred that; “Mr Governor has been supportive in all ways. Our mode of operation now is different from what it used to be. Anytime we give Mr Governor a proposal on anything regarding security, he does not joke with it. In fact, he signed it with immediate alacrity. He has also told us to ensure that each time we have any request we should not hesitate to call his attention that he is ready to support us to the fullest so we can keep functioning at a higher capacity.”
“The Agency is not relenting despite some challenges we face. We will continue to intensify our effort to make Lagos a safe haven for all. We are also open to public and private partnerships. Every top individual and private firm in Lagos who wants to reach out through their Corporate Social Responsibility CSR, will also ease the burden on Government. Security is the responsibility of all sundry and should not be left to some selected people only. If all hands are on deck, Lagos will be a safer place”. He further concluded.

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