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Lagos Speaker, Obasa speaks on Easter, implores Nigerians to let God’s unending love reign supreme

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The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, has sent greetings to Christians in the State and Nigeria as they join the world in the celebration of this year’s Easter.

In an Easter message released by his media office, Dr. Obasa noted the divine love of God for mankind as confirmed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is celebrated by Christians all over the world at Easter.

He argued that such love, spread among neighbours, will help to put Nigeria in an enviable position among the comity of nations.

According to Obasa, love comes before other considerations for a society’s existence or progress.

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“It is love that propels peace. It is love that makes leaders want to act right, it is love that helps the followers to live in unity. Even Jesus noted that loving your neighbour is one of the most important commandments of God.

“It is love that will help us build faith in our country and grow it further from where it currently stands. With love, there can’t be cases of man’s inhumanity to man.

“Just as Easter allows us to understand the importance of love and forgiveness, I want to urge Nigerians to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with sober reflection on His virtues and the lessons He left behind,” Obasa said.

The Speaker further urged Christians to use the opportunity of the celebration to pray for a better Nigeria, a peaceful 2023 election as well as divine wisdom for the leaders of the country.

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He promised that the Lagos State House of Assembly will continue to promote peaceful co-existence among residents by passing pro-people laws, motions and resolutions.

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Prominent groups urgently demand release of Ambassador Otunba Adejare Adegbenro

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Two influential groups, the Egbe Omo Yoruba Parapo and the Tinubu Shettima Divine Mandate Initiative (TSDMI) 2023, have issued urgent calls for the immediate release of Ambassador Otunba Adejare Adegbenro.

Ambassador Adegbenro, a respected Yoruba leader and diplomat, has been unlawfully detained by the Nigerian police since April 26, 2024.

Egbe Omo Yoruba Parapo, a leading Yoruba ethnic group representing the cultural and social interests of the Yoruba people in southwestern Nigeria, has expressed deep concern over the detention of Ambassador Adegbenro.

The group highlights Adegbenro’s significant contributions to the Yoruba community, particularly in Ogun State, where his efforts have driven progress and prosperity.

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“Ambassador Adejare Adegbenro has long been a pivotal figure in the growth and development of the Yoruba race. His dedication to fostering unity, promoting cultural heritage, and championing socio-economic advancements has earned him respect and admiration both locally and internationally,” stated a spokesperson for Egbe Omo Yoruba Parapo.

The group condemns the detention as a violation of Adegbenro’s fundamental rights, noting that it disrupts his ongoing work as an advocate for peace, justice, and mutual understanding among diverse groups.

They urge the relevant authorities to intervene swiftly to secure his release, emphasizing his unwavering commitment to service and integrity.

Egbe Omo Yoruba Parapo calls on governmental bodies, civil society organizations, and the media to join them in demanding justice and fairness for Ambassador Adegbenro. They stress the importance of upholding the rule of law, human rights, and dignity for all individuals.

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In a related development, the Tinubu Shettima Divine Mandate Initiative (TSDMI) 2023 has also demanded the immediate release of Ambassador Adegbenro.

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TSDMI is a distinguished support group dedicated to promoting the candidature of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, as well as upholding justice, democracy, and human rights in Nigeria.

Ambassador Dr. Otunba Adegbenro, described as an illustrious son of Ogun State and a respected diplomat, has been unjustly deprived of his freedom, according to TSDMI.

The group asserts that his detention violates fundamental human rights and international protocols, specifically the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to which Nigeria is a signatory.

“TSDMI strongly condemns this blatant violation of Ambassador Dr. Adegbenro’s rights and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. As our Grand Patron, he has tirelessly dedicated himself to the agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and to the service of our nation, fostering international cooperation and advancing Nigeria’s interests on the global stage,” said a TSDMI representative.

The group urges President Tinubu and the Nigerian Police to uphold the rule of law and release Ambassador Adegbenro without delay. They warn that any adverse events during his detention will be the responsibility of the Nigerian Police.

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TSDMI stands in solidarity with Ambassador Adegbenro and his family, calling on all stakeholders, both domestic and international, to demand his immediate release and ensure that justice is served.

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Crime

NURTW member, two others jailed for drug trafficking

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A 45-year-old driver and member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Tapha Mustapha, and two others, were on Thursday convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for trafficking hard drugs.

Other convicts sentenced alongside the NURTW member are Andrew Ukelere and Anthony Chiemerem.

The three convicts were earlier arraigned before the court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, on April 27, 2024, on charges bordering on conspiracy, trafficking in 13.9 kilograms of tramadol and 590 litres of Pentazocine, a psychotropic drug similar to cocaine.

During their arraignment, the prosecutor, Mariam I. Erondu, who was represented by Julian Negedu, told the court that the convicts were arrested with the drugs on March 19, 2024, on the Long Bridge area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos State.

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According to the prosecutor, the offences committed contravened Sections 11(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N 30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and are punishable under the same Act.

The trio, however, pleaded guilty to the charges.

Following their guilty plea, Justice Kehinde Ogundare, adjourned the matter to Thursday for a review of facts and sentence, and then ordered that they be remanded at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre.

At the resumed hearing of the matter for review of facts, the prosecutor called Mr Benjamin Naetah, a Senior Exhibits Keeper with the agency, who tendered the drugs and other exhibits, which were admitted by the court.

Upon the conclusion of the review of facts, the prosecutor urged the court to convict and sentence the trio in accordance with the sections of the NDLEA Act that they were charged with.

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But the convicts’ lawyers, Lilian Omotunde and Ore-Ofe Ogunleye, in their plea for mercy, urged the court to award a non-custodian sentence on their clients, being first-time convicts and for not wasting the time of the court.

Omotunde, who is the counsel for the first and second convicts, said: “The first convict is a first-time offender; he is a member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers. He was contracted by the roadside to deliver a good after Lagos State, but he was caught up by the law.

“The second convict is a 35-year-old medicine store attendant, who was sent on an errand by his master.

“I urge the court to award a non-custodian sentence,” she said.

Also, counsel for the third convict, Ogunleye, urged the court to award a non-custodian sentence to her client.

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She particularly cited Section 426(2) paragraphs a, b, d and e of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

Responding to the counsel’s submissions, the prosecutor, Erondu, who also cited Section 311 of ACJA, urged the court to consider the commercial quantity of the prohibited drug seized from the convicts and the damage it would have done to the country.

In his judgment, Justice Ogundare sentenced the first and second convicts to two years imprisonment, while the third convict was sentenced to a year imprisonment.

The judge however ordered both the first and second convicts to pay the sum of N500,000 each, and the third convict to pay the sum of N100,000, in lieu of the jail term.

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Education

FG opens student loan application portal May 24

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The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, on Thursday, announced May 24, 2024, as the official date for “the opening of the portal for student loan applications.”

The announcement was made in a statement by the media lead for the NELFund, Nasir Ayantogo.

Ayantogo, in the statement, said the opening of the application portal marked a significant milestone in the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to “fostering accessible and inclusive education for all Nigerian students.”

On June 12, 2023, Tinubu signed the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023 into law to enable indigent students to access interest-free loans for their educational pursuits in any Nigerian tertiary institution.

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The move was in “fulfillment of one of his campaign promises to liberalise funding of education,” a member of the then Presidential Strategy Team, Dele Alake, said.

The Act, popularly known as the Students Loan Law, also established the Nigerian Education Loan Fund to process all loan requests, grants, disbursement, and recovery.

Although the government initially announced that the scheme would be launched in September, it suffered several delays leading to an indefinite postponement in early March.

The Presidency had linked the delay to Tinubu’s directive to expand the scheme to include loans for vocational skills.

After receiving briefing from the NELFund team led by the Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, on January 22, the President had directed the Fund to extend interest-free loans to Nigerian students interested in skill-development programmes.

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Tinubu based his decision on the need for the scheme to accommodate those who may not want to pursue a university education, noting that skill acquisition is as essential as obtaining undergraduate and graduate academic qualifications.

“This is not an exclusive programme. It is catering to all of our young people. Young Nigerians are gifted in different areas.

“This is not only for those who want to be doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It is also for those who aspire to use their skilled and trained hands to build our nation.

“In accordance with this, I have instructed NELFund to explore all opportunities to inculcate skill-development programmes because not everybody wants to go through a full university education,” he had said.

Through the portal, students can now access loans to pursue their academic aspirations without financial constraints.

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The portal, according to the statement, provides a user-friendly interface for students to submit their loan applications conveniently.

“We encourage all eligible students to take advantage of this opportunity to invest in their future and contribute to the growth and development of our nation.

“Students can access the portal on www.nelf.gov.ng to begin application,” the statement said.

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