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I Will Honour Invitation By Police, Says Melaye

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The lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye, says he will honour the invitation by the police.
He disclosed this in an interview with Channels Television on Saturday, a day after the police accused some persons in his convoy of attacking their personnel in Kogi State.
“The account of the police is false and illogical,” the lawmaker said, adding, “I will honour the invitation of the Kogi State Police Command on Thursday, despite the attempts on my life.”

Senator Melaye had accused the police of shooting at his convoy on his way to inaugurate a project at his constituency on Thursday in Kogi.
He explained that he was riding in a convoy of about 20 vehicles headed for the scheduled event and his cars were the second and third, having being led by the out riding Hilux vehicle of the personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The lawmaker noted that the police claimed that the vehicles at the back shot at them and wondered why “they shot at my cars which were in the second and third on the convoy.”
He alleged that the incident clearly indicated an attempt on his life if not for his bulletproof vehicles, claiming that the gunshots were directed at the owner’s sitting side of the cars.
Melaye purported further that after the scenario which played out on the road, there was another attack on his house in Aiyetoro where gunshots were fired sporadically.
He also said he had written to the police and the NSCDC through his lawyer, to seek protection for his planned visit.
The lawmaker claimed that while the NSCDC deployed some personnel to escort him, there was no provision made by the police.
On the other hand, the police said they were aware of the senator’s visit and had already deployed personnel to strategic points in the state.
The Commissioner of Police in Kogi, Mr Ali Janga, told reporters on Friday that part of the personnel deployed were those involved in the incident in which an officer was fatally injured.
He insisted that Senator Melaye was not attacked, but the police repelled an alleged initial attack by some individuals on his convoy.
“Unidentified civilians inside (a vehicle in the convoy) decided to open fire on my policemen. You don’t expect the police to fold their arms; eventually, they replied and opened fire too. Nobody attacked Dino but rather, his convoy attacked by policemen and they repelled,” Janga had said.
He said they had invited the lawmaker for questioning, noting that the police would not hesitate to declare Melaye wanted should he ignore their invite.

 

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Special Report/Investigation

How “Money bags” destroy Nigeria’s democracy

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The Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement on Monday said Nigeria’s democracy was not delivering its dividends adequately due to “money bag politics’’.
A member of the group, Mr Hamzat Lawal, stated this to newsmen in Abuja at the National Day of Action on Youth Candidacy and Democratic Party Primaries briefing.
According to Lawal, it is quite sad that in Nigeria’s political history, money bags and `god father’ is really affecting the nation.
“This is why we have not enjoyed the dividends of democracy and good governance.
“As a movement, that is why we have now highlighted intended cost for picking nomination forms which is N2, 000, 000 for presidential aspirant, N1, 000, 000 for governorship aspirant and N600, 000 for senatorial aspirant.
“For House of Assembly aspirant, the form should be N200, 000 while that of House of Representatives aspirant should be N400, 000.
“We need to try as much as possible to ensure that election is not all about money because we know that to the money bags, election is an investment.”
Lawal said that the money bags often put money into campaigns so that they could recuperate it after election.
He said that Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement and youths were now aware of the money politics, adding that “we are working with women group to ensure that money does not play a critical role in 2019,” he said.
He said that this was because if money played a role, the money bags would want to recoup their investment post 2019 and it meant therefore, that Nigerians would not have quality welfare.
Lawal said that the group would monitor closely how money would exchange hands in 2019 and warned that if it did, the people involved would be exposed.
Ms Nana Nwachukwu, another member of the group, said that the movement was optimistic about competent young men and women emerging as aspirants for the 2019 elections.
Nwachukwu said that the signing into law of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill addressed a major impediment to youth participation in politics.
She said that while it was a remarkable feat, the goal of achieving increased youth representation in elective offices would remain a dream if other barriers were not removed.
She said that movement believed that the right to political participation was a constitutionally guaranteed right exercised through voting at elections or running for public office.
According to Nwachukwu, until Nigeria has independent candidacy, political parties remain the only platform to exercise this right to political participation.
She said that political parties were, therefore, essential to democracy but that the lack of internal party democracy and high cost of party nomination continually undermined the emergence of youth and women.
“We remain resolute in our belief that increased representation of young men and women and persons with disability in political office will enhance the quality of democracy and governance.
“So, Aug. 8, 2018 has been declared as the National Day of Action on Youth Candidacy and Democratic Party Primaries.
“We will be organising a march to the national and state offices of political parties to press the demands for youth inclusion.
“It is a demand march to political parties as they prepare to hold primary elections to select candidates for the 2019 general elections.
“The National Day of Action is scheduled to hold simultaneously in Abuja, as well as the 36 states across the country on the same date to press for guidelines in favour of youths,” she said.

 

 Angela Atabo

 

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Special Report/Investigation

Nigerian Federation commences Preliminary Investigation into Salisu Yusuf – The Committee on Ethics and Fairplay

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No sooner has the festering dispute over the leadership of Nigerian football been resolved with Amaju Pinnick restored as its president than the federation has been rocked by bribery allegations involving a prominent member of the Super Eagles’ coaching team, Salisu Yusuf.
Yusuf, assistant to national coach Gernot Rohr at the World Cup, has become embroiled in the scandal that brought down Kwesi Nyantakyi, the second most powerful person in African football and head of the Ghanaian FA who appeared to be pictured in a BBC documentary accepting a $65,000 bribe after meeting with an undercover reporter posing as an agent seeking to sponsor the Ghanaian football league.
Reports in Nigeria say Yusuf, who also doubles as head coach of the country’s Olympic football squad, was also caught up in the sting and was filmed collecting a $1,000 bribe from the undercover journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, allegedly in exchange for selecting certain players at last year’s WAFU Cup and the African Nations Championship in Morocco earlier this year.
After initially staying silent the NFF admitted that it “has commenced preliminary investigation into the matter to assist the Committee on Ethics and Fairplay.”
The short statement was signed by NFF’s director of communications, Ademola Olajire.
On his part, the embattled coach, who is reportedly undergoing medical treatment in London, insisted he had not erred in any way. He said he did not ask for money, that players were picked on merit and consistency and that he did not break any FIFA rules.
“Be that as it may, I did accept cash handed to me by one of the said football agents, which I later discovered, upon checking, to be $750 and not $1000,” he admitted. “It was a gift and not a bribe.”
“My understanding of the FIFA and NFF Codes of Ethics …. is that gifts of any kind could be accepted by persons bound by the codes which are: of symbolic or trivial value; exclude any influence for the execution or omission on an act that is related to one’s official activities or fall within one’s discretion; are not contrary to one’s duties; do not create any undue pecuniary or other advantage and do not create a conflict of interest.”
The names of the players have not been disclosed and Yusuf is being supported by Nigeria Football Coaches Association which, in a communique signed by its chairman, Ladan Bosso, said: “It is clear to the blind that the coach’s stand wasn’t distorted by the ‘triviality’ of the pecuniary gift made to him.”
“Prior to the issuance of the gift, the players in question had already made the team and were in fact among the pillars of the team. We do not think that the integrity and reputation of football has been affected by this.”

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Special Report/Investigation

Melaye regains freedom from ‘wilderness’ after 24 hours

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Senator Dino Melaye has regained freedom from unknown men 24 hours after his abduction.

Yesterday, at 10:33am, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce alerted the public that Melaye was taken away in a Toyota Sienna in Gwagwalada while on his way to court in Lokoja to answer to allegations of gun running.

The media aide to the Kogi West Senator, Gideon Ayodele had also confirmed the incident, adding that he has no idea on the whereabouts of his principal.

The Police stated that no complaint was lodged as regards the lawmaker’s disappearance.

In a sudden twist of event however, Melaye took to his Twitter account at 10:59am on Friday, appreciating Nigerians for their support after spending “11 hours in the wilderness.”

He said: “I thank God once again for escaping another dangerous attack. I also thank Nigerians for their prayers and show of Love. Spent 11 hours in the wilderness traumatized but God preserved me. God is the best and in whom ONLY I trust. They will continue to try. WE SHALL OVERCOME!!!”

 

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Special Report/Investigation

Over 5,000 Nigerian Doctors Add Value to South Africa’s Health Sector – Consul General

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Mr. Godwin Adama, the Consul General of Nigeria in South Africa, says about 5,000 Nigerian medical practitioners are contributing to the development of the health sector in South Africa.
Adama made this known in a statement issued by the Vice Consul, Information and Culture, Mr. David Abraham, made available to the media on Monday in Abuja.
The Consul General, who made this known when Nigerian Doctors’ Forum South Africa, led by its Secretary-General, Dr. Emeka Ugwu, visited him the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg said the medical practitioners were in various teaching, public and private hospitals in South Africa.
“This shows that virtually every hospital in South Africa has a sizeable number of Nigerian doctors; and this includes teaching, public and private hospitals.
“What this means is that Nigerian doctors and other professionals are constantly adding value to the system and this cannot be over-emphasised,’’ he said.
“South Africa is replete with many Nigerian professionals who are contributing to the economic development in both public and private sectors in the country.
“Unfortunately, this has been either not reported at all or grossly under-reported.
“It is in this light that Nigerian professionals in South Africa have determined that they will no longer sit by and allow their numerous contributions undermined and eroded by negative publicity,” he said.
Adama said that Nigerian Doctors in South Africa had been involved in medical outreaches, where they rendered health services to the less privileged members of the society, particularly to the Nigerian nationals.
He said that the consulate would continue to celebrate Nigerian medical doctors and other professionals in South Africa.
He reiterated that the consulate would continue to partner all Nigerian Associations in South Africa to advance the wellbeing and welfare of Nigerians in that country.
“We, therefore, use this medium to call on all our nationals to emulate the professionals and continue to be law-abiding,” he said.
Earlier, the Secretary-General of the Forum informed the consulate about its activities and the need to continue to render improved services in the South African health sector.
Ugwu expressed satisfaction with the current improved service delivery at the consulate and urged the Consul General not to relent on his efforts.
According to him, the forum is currently planning to expand this gesture in partnership with the Nigerian Mission to cover as many South Africans as possible to foster good neighborliness between the two countries.
Ugwu said that the President of the Forum, Prof. Olalekan Ayo-Yusuf, could not make it due to exigencies of duty.
“Ayo-Yusuf is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Sefako Makgatho Health Science University, South Africa,” he disclosed.
(NAN)

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Nigeria’s plan to redistribute recovered corruption money needs a rethink

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The Nigerian government has announced that USD$322 million (£244 million) stolen by Nigeria’s former military ruler, Sani Abacha, has been returned by the Swiss authorities. Abacha, an army general who was head of state from 1993 until his death in 1998, is suspected to have embezzled between USD$3 to 5 billion of public money.
Plans have also been announced to distribute the recovered loot to around 300,000 households in 19 of Nigeria’s 36 states. Under the plan each household would get around USD$14 a month. The handouts would be paid to poor Nigerians for about six years.
Roberto Balzaretti, one of the Swiss officials involved in the negotiations with Nigeria, reported that there would be strict conditions attached to the transfer of the money back to Nigeria. Nigeria has signed a memorandum of understanding with Switzerland and the World Bank agreeing the modalities for the return of the stolen funds.
The Nigerian government has opted for cash payments to be made to help poor families as part of the Nigeria National Social Safety Net Program. The money is to be paid in instalments and in small amounts under the supervision of the World Bank, which will also conduct regular audits. If the first instalment is not properly accounted for, subsequent payments will be halted. This is to prevent the funds from being stolen again.
But there are fears that this is not the best way to use the recovered funds and that the “distribution” is just a ruse to influence the Nigerian elections next year. Concerns have been raised that it’s an easy way for the ruling political party to score cheap points ahead of the 2019 polls. And there are strong views about how the money can be better spent, particularly on the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Vote Buying?

The money is being returned to Nigeria at a delicate time. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that he will be seeking reelection next year. This despite his ill health and corruption scandals.
Nigerian politicians are infamous for buying votes.
Suspicions that the redistribution scheme is another vote buying ruse have been fuelled by the fact that the government plans to give money to only 19 states out of the 36. The government has said that 17 states where excluded from the scheme because they didn’t have the “appropriate platform” to implement the conditional cash transfers.
There are also fears that the recovered loot might end up in the coffers of ghost beneficiaries.
The Nigerian house of representatives – the lower house of Nigeria’s bicameral National Assembly – has passed a motion that the money must be distributed in line with the country’s revenue sharing formula for disbursing money to all 36 states.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, a Nigerian nongovernmental anti-corruption agency, has added its voice to criticisms of the plan. It has pointed out that the distribution of funds is mis-targeted and would not bring any tangible benefits to the beneficiaries.

The project argues that the president should renegotiate the memorandum of understanding with the Swiss authorities in consultation with the communities affected by grand corruption so that the recovered loot can be put to better use.

A better way?

Is there a better way to utilise the recovered loot?
Nigeria needs proper procedures to manage recovered money as it continues with its anti-corruption agenda. The government will be better placed in the future to manage recovered funds if it has a coherent plan detailing how they should be handled. The plan will need to be overseen by the country’s anti-corruption institution.
There’s a strong view that the recovered money should be used to foot the bill for infrastructure projects that would improve the lives of the victims of corruption and also help alleviate poverty.
Infrastructure projects, such as proper transport systems and power generation, also have the advantage of being highly visible and could be easily tracked through Budgit and Tracka. Construction projects would also create jobs.
There is a clear link between infrastructural development and economic growth – an area where Nigeria could really do with some help. The country struggles from infrastructure deficits, particularly in power generation, transport, education and health care.
Experts also argue that giving the money to poor households will only serve as temporary respite from poverty. Investing in infrastructure that can improve growth, employment, production, education and health care would create better and longer-term value.
The government might be wise to listen to these views.

 

Tolu Olarewaju
Lecturer in Economics, Staffordshire University

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Special Report/Investigation

Christians mark 150 days since Nigerian girl was held captive for her faith

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By Eno Adeogun

A protest outside the Nigerian High Commission in London was held on Wednesday to mark 150 days since a 15-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped by Boko Haram from Dapchi in Yobe state, Nigeria.
Leah Sharibu was one of the 110 schoolgirls abducted by members of the terrorist group on 19th February from the Government Girls Science and Technical College.
While five died during the ordeal and the rest were freed, Leah remained in captivity as she refused to denounce her faith.

LEAH

Speaking from the protest organised by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the charity’s CEO Mervyn Thomas  said what he hoped would be achieved.
“It’s very important to remember that this isn’t just a protest – this is prayer and protest. CSW believes in those two things going together.
“So we’re hoping first of all that God will answer prayer but we’re also hoping that the Nigerian government will take action.”

Mervyn Thomas, CEO of Christian Solidarity Worldwide delivering protest to Nigerian High Commission representative.

Mr Thomas handed a petition to a representative of the High Commission which called for urgent action to secure the release of Leah and other girls held in captivity.
The terror group has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in the country, famously kidnapping nearly 300 schoolgirls from Chibok four years ago.
Pastor and filmmaker Fred Williams lived in the northern state of Jos where he saw first-hand the devastation Boko Haram caused.

However, speaking at the protest, he told Premier he had faith Leah and other girls kidnapped would be released.
“My plea is that we continue to pray and we continue to be a voice for the voiceless and not keep quiet because it has taken so long to get a positive response.”

Christians have been urged to join in with others around the world marking 150 days since Leah was kidnapped by praying for her.

 

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Special Report/Investigation

Nigerian Police Arrest Suspects of Mass Abduction

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The Nigerian police reported today the arrest of eight suspected members of the Boko Haram group, linked to the abduction in April 2014 of 276 girls from a school in the eastern state of Borno.

Under strong police custody the detainees were shown in the streets of the state capital of Maiduguri.

According to a spokesman, the suspects were arrested in an operation conducted by officers of the Borno State Police Inspector General’s Intelligence Response Team, in whose forested areas Boko Haram has its headquarters, but also operates in Cameroon, Niger and Lake Chad.

Between 2014 and the next year Boko Haram vindicated the abduction of some 2,000 children, but the case of the school in Chibook received special attention because of the number of children.

In 2016, the Nigerian central government succeeded in negotiating the release of 22 of the abducted women, many of whom have now returned to their families after undergoing medical examinations and a psychological reintegration process at the request of Nigerian President Muhamadu Buhari.

According to estimates, Boko Haram, who has an Islamist ideological inclination and is loyal to the Islamic State, is holding 196 of those kidnapped in Chibook captive.

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Special Report/Investigation

Aviation Minister unveils new national airliner Nigeria Air

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The Federal Government of Nigeria on Wednesday unveiled the new National Carrier. It is called ‘Nigeria Air’.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, did the unveiling to investors at the ongoing Farnborough International Air Show in UK.
The colour is green white green.

The logo of the new national carrier

According to Sirika the new carrier will ply 81 routes, both local and international, after considering about a thousand destinations.
Ethiopian Airlines said it is in talks with Nigeria on the new national carrier.

 

NAN

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Special Report/Investigation

Major drugs gang caught

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AN international drug smuggling operation stretching all the way from Nigeria to Bahrain has been busted by police.
It was exposed when a drug mule arrived at Bahrain International Airport carrying 3.1kg of crystal meth, known locally as Shabu, and 177.4gm of marijuana in his luggage.
An investigation identified a Bahraini inmate at Jaw Prison, aged 30, as the mastermind behind the operation – who allegedly used his own father and brother to distribute the merchandise.
Seven defendants, five Bahrainis and two Nigerians, are now standing trial in Bahrain’s High Criminal Court in connection with the racket.
Six of them appeared before judges for the first time yesterday to plead not guilty, while the alleged mastermind was not brought from his cell to attend the hearing.
An investigating officer said police had been on the trail of the gang since last year and swooped when a man arrived at the airport in April carrying drugs.
Intercepted
The drugs were in the possession of a 27-year-old Nigerian, who was intercepted by police after arriving on a flight from Nigeria via Dubai.
“I received a tip that the 30-year-old in jail was running a drug smuggling ring from his cell,” said the investigating officer in his statement.
“My investigations led to a 43-year-old Nigerian, who was running the operation with him and arranging with people outside Bahrain to smuggle Shabu from Nigeria.”
The drug mule was detained at the airport on April 19 after police, who received word that drugs were on board, searched all Nigerian passengers.
One of the Bahraini defendants, 37, who was allegedly responsible for distributing the drugs in Bahrain was waiting in arrivals to meet him.
“He (the alleged drug mule) told us the 37-year-old Bahraini was waiting in the lounge to receive him,” added the officer.
“When we asked the 37-year-old why he was there, he panicked and admitted he was there to pick up the 27-year-old drug mule and take him to the 43-year-old Nigerian’s apartment.”
The 30-year-old alleged mastermind behind the smuggling operation is already serving a 10-year prison sentence on another drugs charge.
He is said to have overseen the trafficking of narcotics from behind bars using a mobile phone that was smuggled to him.
The 43-year-old Nigerian defendant told prosecutors he had been dispatched to Bahrain by a drug lord in his own country to meet the alleged mastermind.
“Last January the drug lord Ojay, in Nigeria, told me to go to Bahrain and give Shabu to the 30-year-old Bahraini defendant,” he said.
“I arrived in Bahrain with around 1kg of Shabu and was received at the airport by the 37-year-old Bahraini, who took me to Juffair and gave me $2,000 as commission and BD1,000 to wire back to Ojay.
“He then wired the other BD1,000 to him.
“In early April I was instructed by the 30-year-old to smuggle two to three kilos of Shabu, so I called Ojay’s brother Paul in Nigeria to make the arrangements.
“He informed me that a Nigerian, the 27-year-old, would arrive in Bahrain on April 19 with the drugs and that the 37-year-old Bahraini was supposed to pick him up, bring him to me and receive the Shabu.
“I was surprised when police burst into my apartment on April 19 at 10am and arrested me.”
The following day a sting operation was arranged near a school, in Isa Town, and an undercover policeman met a 31-year-old Bahraini defendant to sell him 250gm of Shabu, which was intended for resale.
He instead handed over a bag of white sugar and police swooped to make the arrest.
However, during questioning the alleged mastermind denied any knowledge of the drug smuggling operation.
He admitted the 37-year-old was a former colleague, but claimed neither he, his brother nor his father were involved.
“I’ve been in Jaw Prison on another drug dealing charge for the past five years and I’ve got around four and a half years left on my sentence,” he told prosecutors.
“I was in another trial for drug possession when my lawyer informed me that my brother and father were also arrested on drug charges.
“A few days after that he told me the 37-year-old Bahraini claimed I was involved in this case – and that I run a drug smuggling operation with my brother and father as distributors, which is not true.”
The two Nigerian defendants, 43 and 27, have been charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamines and marijuana.
Funding
The 43-year-old Nigerian was also charged with possession of pornographic material on his phone and failing to renew his residency permit.
The alleged mastermind’s 60-year-old Bahraini father has been charged with possessing and using methamphetamines and hashish, while his 29-year-old brother has been charged with possession with intent to distribute, as well as funding the operation.
In addition, the 37-year-old Bahraini arrested at the airport is charged with receiving narcotics with intent to distribute.
Meanwhile, the 31-year-old Bahraini arrested as he allegedly attempted to buy Shabu from an undercover officer has been charged with receiving narcotics with intent to distribute and possession of amphetamines and Diazepam.
The alleged mastermind is facing charges of possession with intent to sell drugs, inciting others to commit the crime and providing funding.
Their trial has been adjourned until September 9.

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Special Report/Investigation

Twitter to Purge Tens of Millions of Accounts

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They’re keeping it real. In a move the company says is aimed at “building trust,” Twitter announced yesterday it’s deleting tens of millions of accounts — about 6 percent of its current followers — that were deemed fake or suspicious. The sweeping measure, part of a concerted push to purge dubious accounts and curb malicious activity, means almost all users will see at least some decrease in their followings, while high-profile accounts could experience significant drops. During May and June, Twitter reportedly suspended more than 70 million accounts.

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Odenjiji Ndi Igbo

118th OVALA FESTIVAL ( IDIGO DYNASTY )OF THE ANCIENT AGULERI KINGDOM THE ANCIENT AGULERI KINGDOM H

Minister Mary of Carnaby London delivering a bag to Biola Okoya, daughter of Razaq Okoya – the renowned Nigerian industrialist, owner of Eleganza Group of Companies and Aare of Lagos

Minister Mary of Carnaby London delivering a bag to Biola Okoya, daughter of Razaq Okoya - the renowned Nigerian industrialist, owner of Eleganza Group of Companies and Aare of Lagos

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