As preparations for the 2023 general elections gain momentum amid a worsening security situation across the country, the demands for bullet-proof Sports Utility Vehicles have increased significantly. The Punch reported that VIPs have been procuring customised vehicles that offer special protection in the run-up to the campaigns and elections. Confirming the increase in orders for armoured vehicles, the President, Armor Max, Mr Mark Burton said his company had been getting orders from clients, noting that sales were very good in March. Burton however said that approvals for end-users certificates which enable the importation of armoured vehicles into the country takes time. A sales manager at Inkas Armoured Vehicle Manufacturing, Mr Haresh Jethmalanito, also affirmed that the armoured vehicle market is presently booming, noting that dealers were making brisk business. But he lamented that his company was not benefitting from the boom because of the long time it takes to procure the end-user certificate from the ONSA. Two civil rights organisations under the aegis of Yiaga Africa and Transition Monitoring Groups said it was a dangerous signal and reflection of what to expect in the campaigns. About three weeks ago, there was an attempted assassination of the lawmaker representing the Anambra South Senatorial District, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah. Four persons, including police aides, were killed by gunmen who opened fire on the senator’s convoy at the Enugwu-Ukwu junction, Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State while he was on his way to his country home in Nnewi. The YPP senator, who is seeking re-election to the Senate in the 2023 general elections, however, escaped death as he was riding in a bullet-proof SUV.

At least 13 worshippers were killed when bandits attacked a mosque in Ruwan Jema community, Bukkuyum Local Government Area of Zamfara State, during Juma’at service on Friday. Speaking on the latest attack, a resident and an eyewitness, Usman Lawal, told DailyTrust that the attack caused a stampede in the mosque. Lawal said, “When they laid siege, the armed criminals stormed the mosque when the worshippers were observing Juma’at prayer. We were observing the last Rakaat when suddenly they started firing. Pandemonium broke out as everyone was running for dear life. “They opened fire on the worshippers, killing at least 13 people on the spot. Dozens of others were also injured in a stampede. The armed criminals also killed a number of residents they found in the surrounding bushes. “The remains of the residents are being picked from the farms and their funeral prayer was slated for evening today. Bodies are still being picked from the forest. Some of the injured victims are responding to treatments in medical facilities in Zamfara and neighbouring Sokoto State.”

The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has approved the issuance and immediate implementation of the guidelines on accessing Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA) balance for payment of equity contribution for residential mortgages by RSA holders. In a statement issued over the weekend in Abuja and signed by the management of the Commission, all stakeholders and the public, particularly Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders, were notified of the approval and immediate implementation of the Guidelines. According to PenCom, the approval was in line with Section 89 (2) of the Pension Reform Act 2014 (PRA 2014), which allows RSA holders to use a portion of their RSA balance towards the payment of equity for a residential mortgage. The Guidelines cover pension contributors in active employment, either as a salaried employee or as self-employed people. However, to qualify for the mortgage, PenCom said that interested RSA holders (applicants) must have an Offer Letter for the property duly signed by the property owner and verified by the Mortgage Lender, adding that the RSA of the applicant will have both employer and employee’s mandatory contributions for a cumulative minimum period of 60 months (five years). It further explained that a Contributor under the Micro Pension Plan (MPP) is also eligible, provided they have made contributions for at least 60 months (five years) prior to the date of his/her application. Also, the guidelines stated that RSA Holders that have less than three years to retirement are not eligible, and that married couples, who are RSA holders, are eligible to make a joint application, subject to individually satisfying the eligibility requirements.

Mali’s interim prime minister poured damning criticism on France at the UN on Saturday, saying they were “stabbed in the back” when the French military withdrew from the country. Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga said Mali felt abandoned in its fight against terrorism. “The world will remember that, after being abandoned in mid-air on 10 June, 2021 by France’s unilateral decision to withdraw the Barkhane force from Mali, my country was then stabbed in the back by the French authorities,” said Maïga. “In view of the seriousness of the acts committed by the French junta, Mali, in its letter dated 15 August, 2022, requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. “The purpose of this meeting is to allow Mali to present the evidence in its possession, demonstrating that the French army has repeatedly attacked my country.” But the PM said the fight is now in the hands of citizens. “I would like to say that the Malian people have decided to take their destiny into their own hands. They fully support the government in rebuilding Mali and in returning to a peaceful and secure constitutional order in March 2024, following free, transparent and credible elections.” Maïga also directly criticised U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. But praised the influence of Russian mercenaries and the “exemplary and fruitful cooperation between Mali and Russia.”