Monday, March 02, 2015

Police kill notorious hoodlum in 9-hr gun battle in Ilorin

By Demola Akinyemi

ILORIN—A notorious hoodlum, who has been terrorising Ilorin and environ was killed yesterday at Pakata area of the city, while an army officer sustained severe injury in a fierce battle that lasted nine hours.

Eye witness account told Vanguard that Anifowoshe community in Pakata, Ilorin, Kwara State capital, was a theatre of war in the battle between the hoodlum and a combined team of Army, Airforce and Police.

Residents of the area were held hostage for hours, while the main road around Government Girls Day Secondary School was blocked by the security team, thus preventing vehicular movement from both sides.

The suspect, believed to be in his thirties, suspected to be a policeman from Okene, Kogi State, reportedly rented an apartment in the area for his wife and aged mother  from where he had been carrying out his nefarious activities.

The source said:  “In the ensuing crossfire, the suspect was said to have been gunned down,while an unidentified man of Nigeria Army among the security team sustained wound on his arm as a result of bullet fired at him by the suspect.

“The area became tension soaked while the gun duel, which started around 2am of yesterday’s morning lasted till around 11am.”

Another eyewitness account said the security operatives had been on the trail of the suspect for the past three days

Friday, February 27, 2015

Do not betray our support - Ebira youths tell Kogi APC Governorship aspirant

Abdulazeez Omeiza Aliyu
By Ismail M. Kabir

The Kogi state governorship aspirant, Alhaji Abdulazeez Omeiza Aliyu has been told not to disappoint the people of Kogi central senatorial district in the face of growing support for his ambition.

The call was made yesterday in Abuja when a group of youth from Kogi central met with the aspirant, Alhaji Abdulazeez Omeiza Aliyu who is contesting under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The meeting which held at the Funplex Garden, Wuse Zone 6 in Abuja was conveyed by the President of Ebira Unity Forum, Prince Abdulkarim with the aim of initiating a structure for periodic interaction with the gubernatorial aspirants ahead of his public declaration.

The highpoint of the meeting was the unanimous declaration of support for the gubernatorial aspirant by the comrades and a call for the development of a workable plan for timely mobilization of the grassroots especially the undecided electorates just as they implored  the aspirant to avail the comrades his manifesto to guide their communication to prospective supporters.

The comrades, however, urged the aspirant to be sincere in his ambition, noting that his decision to run for the Kogi governorship race has reawakened the hope of Ebira people in the state.

Comrade Albert Isah, in his contribution, told the gathering that Abdulazeez Omeiza has taken a bold step by breaking the long silence.

"I have already made up my mind to contest for the Kogi governorship election if nobody deemed it necessary to contest in Kogi central". Albert berated the lack of interest by Ebira notable politicians to contest the number one seat in the state since 2011.

Other comrades at the event reechoed the need to salvage the people of Kogi central from the pangs of maladministration, poverty and marginalization in a state where the resources is enjoyed only by a particular zone.

"In the past, we had a similar experience where we all rallied around a young man but later found out that he was out to trade", Comrade Ismaila Aminu said, urging the aspirant to work with all the major stakeholders in Ebira politics regardless of their party affiliations.

Comrade Abdulrazaq Mamman charged the aspirant to be firm and remain true to his ambition, saying that the cause should not be viewed as personal but for the good of Ebira people in particular and Kogi State in general.

"I want to assure you that my presence here today is not for you but for our people back home. My support for you is to ensure that an Ebira man becomes the governor of Kogi state in the next election and I want to be remembered for my role in ensuring your success".

Comrade Abdulrazaq further charged the attendants to be selfless in their solidarity for the aspirants and called for a formidable structure to drive the agenda.

Responding, Abdulaziz Omeiza thanked the comrades for their intelligent contributions.

"I am dumbfounded by your impressive contributions. It is a great pleasure holding this brainstorming session with you today.

" All the suggestions are noted and will be considered".

Abdulazeez reminded the gathering that since the ban on Kogi governorship campaign by INEC was yet to be lifted, only consultation was necessary for the time being but assured the comrades that his manifesto would be ready in a couple of weeks.

Other comrades at the meeting included the former president of the National Association Kogi State Students (NAKOSS), Cmr. Abubakar Eneye Shuaibu, Cmr. John Alabi, Cmr. Abubakar Kamaldeen (Moon), Cmr. Ahmed Isah (Mark One O) and Cmr. Ismail M. Kabir of EbiraView Media.

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Abatemi-Usman condemns abduction of American missionary in Kogi

The Senator representing Kogi Central in the Red Chamber and candidate of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) for Kogi Central Senatorial election, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman, has condemned the abduction of an American missionary, Rev. Mrs. Phillis Sortor in Kogi State.

The 80-year-old missionary worker with Methodist Church resident in Emi-Woro community along Ajaokuta/Okene road was reported to have been abducted by unknown gunmen within the church premises on Tuesday.

In a statement issued by Abatemi-Usman’s media aide, Michael Jegede, the Senator described as callous and ruthless the action of the kidnappers, wondering what they intend to achieve from putting an old innocent woman who has dedicated her life to the service of God and humanity in Nigeria through such an excruciating pain.

The PPA chieftain called on the security agents, especially the police to leave no stone unturned to ensure the immediate release of the missionary from the hands of her abductors, warning that nothing should happen to the aged woman.

The Senator lamented the increasing cases of crime such as kidnappings, assassinations and armed robberies in the Central Senatorial District of Kogi State, stressing that effort must be made to nab the perpetrators and bring them to book to serve as deterrent to others involved in criminal activities in the area.

He further called on the people of Kogi Central to be vigilant and always report any suspicious activity to security agents, adding that the peace that has come to stay in the district must be sustained.    

Also in the statement, Abatemi-Usman applauded the Nigerian Military for their efforts in surmounting the Boko Haram sect. According to him, every Nigerian should give kudos to the military officers for their recent gains against the terrorists, whose nefarious activities have claimed the lives of over 13,000 innocent citizens and caused the destruction of property worth billions of naira.

He described as a welcome development the announcement of a special promotion for all soldiers involved in the liberation of Baga in Borno State from Boko Haram militants by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, maintaining that the officers deserved such reward for their gallant effort in flushing out the insurgents.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

We Can Make Ajaokuta Steel Plant a Pride for Africa-Mr Quanli

INTERVIEW (Daily Trust)

By Hamisu Muhammad

A consortium of Henan Taihang Quanli Heavy Industry and Total Steel Nigeria recently renew efforts to restart the Ajaokuta Steel Plant. Last month the group visited the plant site, at Ajaokuta LG, Kogi state and some government officials in Abuja. After the visit, the leader of the group Mr Huang Quanli shared his experience with Daily Trust's Hamisu Muhammad and unveiled some of the plans they have for the abandoned steel plant if given the opportunity.

May we know a little background of your Group?

Our group of companies specialises in metallurgical plant building and management. We are very well connected at a very high level to the Chinese government and also have the financial sources and technical capability in China which we hope to tap from in order to restart Ajaokuta Steel Plant if given the chance. We already have the requisite international projects and investments experience as we are currently handling similar projects in Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam etc.

What is the purpose of your visit to Nigeria and what did you see in Ajaokuta Steel when you visited the plant?

We are in Nigeria to develop a partnership between China and Nigeria to develop Ajaokuta Steel Company in conjunction with our Nigerian partner: Total Steel Limited which has had a long experience in the sector and the local market. We believe the project will support the economy of Nigeria. The visit is basically exploratory, to look at the facilities, resources available and also to assess our partner - Total Steel's and Total Mining's capabilities and see what they have and in what quantity. To examine the process flow of Ajaokuta plant and other information available with the view to conducting techno economic analysis before coming out with a statement on our basic strategies on what we want to do. One thing is very clear: We are excited about the possibility of starting Ajaokuta Steel because we have the technical wherewithal. As you know, with us here is Professor Guo Hanjie, who is a famous Chinese metallurgist, whose specialty is iron and steel making. He is part of this team and he is also confident that there is no big issue on Ajaokuta. It is a plant that can be started. We are working on the possibility of upgrading Nigerian coal to make sure that we do not import a lot of coal to start the plant. Also looking at alternative technology of coal-based direct reduction to start Ajaokuta and make it produce 2 million tonnes of steel per annum is not a big deal.

So, I will also say that the condition of the plant is very good. Ajaokuta is not antiquated. We are very impressed with the condition and preservation of the equipment and we are looking forward to restarting the plant.

Some companies were given the opportunity to start the plant in the past and failed. What assurances will you give that if given the opportunity you will succeed?

We learnt that most of the companies that were given the opportunity to restart the plant lacked the technological and financial resources to do so successfully. We are not in a hurry to make public statements on what we will do unlike other groups who came and shout how much money they have as if they are going to restart Ajaokuta tomorrow. If you check our records, it speaks volumes. Last year alone we and our partners produced about 20 million tonnes of steel globally. And we are operating in many countries such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Iran etc.

Some people view the blast furnace technology in the company as an obsolete technology that cannot be developed in a short time. What is your take on this view?

There are thousands of blast furnaces in China. Of the 880 million tonnes of steel that China produced last year, 98 percent is through the blast furnaces technology. There is no special risk in it. No rocket science involved with blast furnace production. India's 56 million tonnes of steel, 33 million of it were produced via blast furnace. So, I think there have been exaggerations on the complexities of running blast furnaces. We are told. By officials that among the main reasons Ajaokuta not started is that Nigeria does not have coking coal. We learnt that enough and conclusive research on the upgrading of coal to make it cokable was not conducted and this is what we are going to cooperate with them in the next few months. We also think that significant technological innovations have already taken place in blast furnace production processes over the last 30 years such as non-coking coal dust injection system to substantially reduce the amount of coking coal required per ton of steel produced via a blast furnace. Whereas 30 years ago you will require about 800kg of coke per ton of liquid steel today's technological innovations necessitated by financial and environmental standards have reduced it to 200kg per ton of liquid steel with very minimal engineering modifications to the blast furnace.

Have you met any government official during your visit?

We have visited the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development. We met Mr. Abdullahi, the Director of Steel. As you do know it is election time and most of the ministers are away campaigning. We met him and he gave his kind permission for the group to visit the plant. We also met the Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta engineer Joseph Isa Onobere, and on both occasions we noticed a very strong desire and commitment to restarting the plant. We also observed a very high morale and dedication to duty by the Engineers and workers.

What exactly do you hope for the plant eventually if the government decides to invite you?

You have just raised the issue of how complex steel making is. You cannot allow an unserious and unorganised team to handle steel production. One of the reasons Nigerians think steel plants do not work is the fact that they were tied to government budgetary system. That did not accommodate the fact that steel plants are not allowed to breakdown. They are not also allowed to run under capacity. If you build a steel plant, you must run it at 100percent. If you run it at 20percent or 10percent, it will die due to overbearing financial overheads which will not only erode working capital but also equity. Therefore, we understand the Federal Government of Nigeria has already taken a decision, not only for Ajaokuta, but for all enterprises in Nigeria, that the way forward is either through outright privatisation or through Public Private Partnerships. The workable business model that we see is that of setting up a special purpose joint venture company under a PPP model with government as owner and Total Steel and our Chinese Metallurgical Group as Core Investors and operators of the plant say for a term of 15 years during which if the PPP partners wish the government can Privatise the plant Via an IPO in an appropriate capital market. Just as with the government's investment in the oil and gas sector of the economy the joint venture partners should begin to earn a reasonable profit from the investment from year 5 of the JV prior to the IPO. It is also our hope that by year 2 of the cooperation the plant would have commenced operation as a fully integrated steel plant not just creating empowerment and employment of the local people but creating value and wealth up and down stream.

With emphasis on National Automobile Policy, do you think the plant can produce the quantity and quality of steel which the automobile industry needs in Nigeria?

It is not just about the National Automobile Policy. It is even more relevant the new Industrial Revolution Plan of the government which focuses on creating value chains. . There are hundreds of millions of tonnes of coals which have not been exploited. We also learnt that there are hundreds of millions of iron ore which have not been exploited. This coal can be used for iron ore reduction and other metallurgical use. They can be used to generate power. The essence of our cooperation is to combine natural resources of coal and iron ore which Total Steel has and our own technology and practical steel production track record and combine it together and become very successful. As I have said, our target in the first two to three years in Ajaokuta is to produce two million tonnes of steel. That's what our cooperation agreement has stipulated. A substantial part of the 2 million tons of liquid steel will be deployed to produce Hot Rolled Coils which will be the basic raw material input to cold rolling mills which provide the cold rolled sheets for use in the automotive industry. The medium section mill with slight modifications will provide rails for all rail expansion projects as well as other structural steel for the power, oil and gas and future industrial projects in Nigeria.

Anything you want to add?

It has been a great honour and pleasure to be interviewed by your famous newspaper. We look forward to a sincere honest and purposeful business and technological partnership for the mutual benefit of our two great countries and its peoples.

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