The Federal Government on Monday signed the contract papers for work to begin on the Kano-Maradi, Kano-Dutse railway project. Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi added that the contractor, Mota-Engil Group, also pledged to build a university for the country as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility effort. “Today, we signed the contract documents for the commencement of the Kano-Maradi, Kano-Dutse railway project. “The contractor, Mota-Engil Group, a Multinational Engineering & Construction firm has also agreed to build a University as part of their CSR while working on the project,” the minister tweeted. The 248-km rail to link Kano, Katsina, Jigawa states to Maradi, Niger Republic attracted fierce criticism when it was first announced last year. President Muhammadu Buhari had approved a $1,959,744,723.71 contract for the rail line at a Federal Executive Council meeting in 2020. Amaechi said the line is expected to aid the transportation of crude oil to Niger.
Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, said the ongoing National Identification Number enrolment may be suspended over COVID-19 risks. He urged the National Identity Management Commission to go back to the drawing board and re-order the enrolment process to avoid large crowds at its centres across the country. Dr Mamora, who is a member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the government has a duty to ensure Nigerians are protected at all times. He said, “I don’t feel good looking at the picture where people are gathered in multitude; it’s like a super-spreader event which we don’t like. But I’m also aware that the relevant ministry which is the communications and digital economy is looking at this. My understanding is that the whole process may be suspended so as to reorder the whole process in terms of management of the crowd because it was never intended that it would become a rowdy process like that.” In a related development, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has suspended its screening of applicants for recruitment due to the national second wave of COVID-19 cases. NDLEA’s spokesman, Jonah Achema disclosed this in a statement on Monday in Abuja. Achema said that the screening suspension was based on strict compliance with the directive of the Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami. NDLEA had released a list of shortlisted candidates on 8 January.
The Lagos State Government says it has lost at least ₦2.5 billion in projected revenue due to the closure of the Lekki toll plaza and the Ikoyi Link Bridge toll plaza over the last 95 days. The figure was obtained from the daily and monthly targets set for the tollgates by the Lagos State Government, which owns the toll gates but is being managed by the Lekki Concession Company. The Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge is expected to generate about ₦10 million daily, while the Lekki toll plaza is expected to generate at least ₦16.6 million a day. This implies that the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge has lost ₦950 million, while the Lekki toll plaza has lost ₦1.5 billion over the period. Following the violence that greeted mostly peaceful protests, the toll gates have not reopened. The Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate cases of brutality and human rights violations committed by operatives of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad ordered that the toll gates should not operate until hearings were concluded. The counsel for the Lagos State Government at the panel, Olukayode Enitan, made an application for the reopening of the Lekki Toll plaza for repairs and insurance. However, Justice Doris Okuwobi (rtd), who heads the panel, adjourned the matter till 29 January for further consideration of the application.
Facebook said Monday it had removed a network of accounts and pages linked to Uganda’s information ministry. The ministry used the fake accounts to “manage pages, comment on other people’s content, impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular than they were,” Facebook said in a statement. Uganda is holding the presidential election on Thursday. Long-time leader Yoweri Museveni is facing a challenge from opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a pop-star turned politician. Although Mr Museveni is currently ahead in polls, he sees Mr Wine as a threat to his 34-year rule of the East African country. “Given the impending election in Uganda, we moved quickly to investigate and take down this network,” a Facebook spokesperson said. The run-up to the election has been violent, with government security forces using tear gas and live bullets to disperse opposition rallies, killing dozens. Presidential spokesman Don Wanyama told the Associated Press that Facebook was “interfering in the electoral process of Uganda,” adding that the removal of the accounts was evidence of outside support for Mr Wine. Mr Wine and other opposition figures have called the 76-year-old Museveni a dictator, who has ruled without any opposition since 1986. Museveni, Wine claims, has destroyed institutions and taken control of parliament and the judiciary. “President Museveni hates to lose, and yet he is doing everything that makes him lose.”