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Irakpo Congratulates New ‘Sheriff’ in Delta, Seeks Partnership to Combat Drug Abuse

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By Eric Elezuo

Delta State born Anti-drug Advocate and Founder, Silec Initiatives, Amb. Sunny Irakpo, has sent a hearty congratulatory message to the newly sworn in governor of Delta State, Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, urging the governor to pay adequate attention to the fight against drug abuse among the youths while seeking partnership and support to continue to propagate the Delta Beyond Drugs campaign.

In the message, the US exchange alumnus, hailed the new governor for the overwhelming reception that heralded his election victory, and the swearing in ceremony that followed, describing the excitement and ovation in the air as “electrifying”. He maintained that “Deltans, home and abroad, felicitate with you as you assumed the number one position and wish you all the best in your tenure.”

Irakpo reminded that governor that his position is a call to duty as the task ahead demands assiduous efforts to fulfill the MORE Agenda of his government to the good people of Delta State while urging him to see youth welfare as the centre piece of his administration.

“As a lover of youths, we know that your administration will take the centre stage to address the social issues that affects young people which includes drug abuse, unemployment, lack of youth inclusiveness in governance, foster leadership and capacity building and opportunity for a robust engagement with the youths and critical stakeholders in order to achieve meaningful socio-economic development.

“Your Excellency, the issue of drug abuse has become so prevalent in the state that for the past decade, Delta State has been in the news, where some of her indigenes have been arrested as drug traffickers and barons inflicting lots of harm in the lives of the youths and damaging the good image of the state.

“The availability of these drugs has triggered in the youths an unlawful quest for consumption of one form of hard drugs or another thereby increasing social vices such as criminality, prostitution and cyber crime,” he said.

The anti-drug advocate also found space to commend the immediate past governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa for some of his social intervention policies under his SMART Agenda and for engaging youth in skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programmes. He urged the new governor to sustain the programmes to continue to arrest social ills.

Speaking on the Delta Beyond Drugs Campaign Project, Irakpo said it is for the wellbeing of the state and to attract foreign investment and make youths to add their quota to the development of the state.

“Over the years, Silec Initiatives as one of the leading anti-drug agencies in the country is passionately driving this message home with massive sensitization and drug prevention programs to assist the government in the fight against drug abuse. We are urging the governor to make a proclamation against drugs and substance abuse currently destroying the lives of promising youths”, adding that “as a pragmatic non-governmental organization, we shall continue to lead the campaign across the nooks and crannies of the 25 LGAs of the state for the rate at which our youths consume these drugs without medical prescription has led to behavioural, cognitive and psychological dysfunction of their brains in recent times.”

He also frowned at the rate women are also getting involved in drugs, citing the case of Bridget Emeka aka Mama, who was arrested on May 17, 2022 for the production of methamphetamine. He noted that according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as at 2018 revealed that 1 out of every 4 drug users is a woman. So where does the wellbeing and sanity of our homes lie? He queried.

“My recent tour to Delta has fueled my passion to address this challenge that is confronting the state because on a regular basis seeing youths experimenting different types of hard drugs to get ‘high’ without considering even the health implication is extremely worrisome.

“The commercialization of hard drugs like Colorado (colos), tramadol, codeine, refnol, swinol, pentatozine, Canadian loud, cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, heroin and other substances in clubs and public space, the state under your leadership should clamp down on drug merchants in order to drastically reduce these hazardous threats to our existence.

“The consumption of drugs in secondary schools is also what we are bringing to the front burner. It was identified that secondary school students in the country abuse over 15 different types of hard drugs. Our tertiary institutions have become profitable markets for the sales of drugs. Most students cannot do without drugs, and the irony is that they are replacing foods for drugs. This is most pitiable.

“Delta State remains one of the richest states in Nigeria, our strength is in our youths, it is so troubling seeing the lives of our productive work force and greatest resource being wasted. Your Excellency, as one of the United States Government Sponsored Exchange Alumni, invited and trained in this regards, we shall deploy all our technical know-how to bring the best in our youths.

“We cannot fold our arms and watch the drug market grow exponentially while other productive sectors are nosediving. As we have taken it upon ourselves to prevent our people from poor life through community education, grassroot mobilization, peer-to-peer sensitization, awareness creation through concert, seminars and town hall meetings,” he informed the governor.

Irakpo used the opportunity to inform the governor of a Silec Initiatives programme in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Oleh Church of Nigeria under the Episcopal Leadership of His Lordship The Rt Rev’d John Usiwoma Aruakpor in commemoration of the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking this Saturday.

He therefore called on the needed support from the government and the governor, who was a one-time parliamentarian, representing Okpe Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly, known for being a listening leader.

“We believe so much in you, and that you will work with NGOs, civil society groups and other well-meaning Deltans to fight the scourge of drug abuse head long,” Irakpo concluded.

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FG Drops Tax Charges Against Binance Executive

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service, on Friday, says it is dropping the tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan, Binance’s head of financial crime compliance.

Confirming the development, Dare Adekanmbi, the agency’s spokesperson, said the federal government “is dropping charges against the two individuals sued along with the cryptocurrency firm, Binance.

“Please note that the charges are being dropped against the second and the third defendants in the matter,” he added.

Speaking in a statement on Friday, Binance said the development illustrates that Gambaryan is not a decision-maker at the cryptocurrency firm.

“We are relieved that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has served and filed amended charges today, resulting in tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan being dropped,” the statement reads.

“Further illustrating that Tigran is not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held in order for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government.

“We await the court’s ruling on this, discharging Tigran from this matter completely.”

Binance also commended the FIRS for their diligence and professionalism throughout this process.

The company said the situation unequivocally demonstrates its commitment to resolving the issue with the government transparently and cooperatively.

Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional manager for Africa; were detained by the Nigerian authorities on February 28.

Although Anjarwalla escaped from the custody of the office of the national security adviser (ONSA), both executives, alongside Binance, were charged by the federal government for tax evasion and money laundering.

On March 25, FIRS filed a criminal charge against Binance for “tax evasion”.

According to the service, the move was to uphold fiscal responsibility and safeguard the economic integrity of the country.

The lawsuit, designated as suit number FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2024, was said to “implicate Binance with a four-count tax evasion accusation”.

On May 17, the FIRS filed an amended four-count charge against Binance Holdings Limited and its executive, Gambaryan, on alleged tax evasion.

The matter drew the attention of lawmakers in the United States who accused the Nigerian government of taking Gambaryan, “hostage”.

TheCable

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HoS Suspends Perm Sec over Sexual Harassment Allegation, Orders Probe

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The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa, has been suspended by the Office of the Head of Service over sexual harassment allegation.

The Head of Service, Folashade Yemi-Esan, said the permanent secretary would be on suspension pending the outcome of a probe into the allegation against him.

“The permanent secretary has been suspended pending the outcome of the probe by the committee set up, “ a senior director in the OHCSF told our correspondent in Abuja.

It was learnt that following a petition submitted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, against Lamuwa, the HoS constituted a committee to look into the matter.

The complainant in the petition submitted by Tuggar was one Simisola Ajayi, who accused Lamuwa of serial sexual harassment.

Ajayi, in the petition filed by her lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), outlined alleged instances of harassment.

In a letter addressed to the Head of Service on May 27, 2024, Tuggar expressed his concern over the serious nature of the allegations involving the permanent secretary.

“I am compelled to write to inform you of a formal complaint against the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa, on allegations of sexual harassment.

“Bearing in mind the gravity of the matter, I feel it necessary to draw your attention to it and ask that you handle it accordingly,” the minister stated in the letter.

An official familiar with the case told our correspondent on Wednesday that following the receipt of Tuggar’s letter on the allegation against Lamuwa, the HoS had set up a probe panel.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said, “Yes, the Head of Service has set up a committee to probe the whole matter. There are pieces of evidence, which will be tabled and witnesses who will also be invited to speak on the matter,  so it is not a matter that will be swept under the carpet.

“The minister (Tuggar) is also very much interested in the outcome. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a special ministry that operates even outside the shores of the country, so you can’t expect that an issue of such gravity will be swept under the carpet.”

Ajayi had, in a petition dated May 29, 2024 and addressed to Tuggar, accused the permanent secretary of serial sexual harassment.

The petition, signed by Adebayo A. Oniyelu LP of Falana & Falana’s, was titled “Request For An Investigation Of Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s Conducts Of Sexual Harassment At The Place Of Work, Abuse Of Office, Official Intimidation And Discrimination.”

According to the petition, Ajayi narrated multiple instances of harassment allegedly by Lamuwa, which had created an unsafe and uncomfortable working environment.

She claimed for instance that during a policy retreat on October 7, 2023, Lamuwa allegedly made inappropriate advances towards her, suggesting she joined him in his hotel room.

He reportedly continued with inappropriate remarks throughout the retreat.

She also cited an incident on November 10, 2023, where Lamuwa allegedly invited Ajayi to travel to Hong Kong, promising significant personal benefits from the trip.

The Punch

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DSS Warns Against Protests to Undermine Public Safety, National Security

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The Department of Security Services (DSS) has issued an alert, warning the public about a planned physical protests across the country.

A statement signed by the Service’s Director, PR & Strategic Communications, Mr. Peter Afunanya, also noted that though citizens have a right to protest, it should not be to undermine public safety and national security.

Read the statement in full:

The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to plans by certain individuals and groups to stage physical protests in some parts of the country on 12th June, 2024. The protests are designed with sinister objectives to coincide with the Democracy Day Celebration. While citizens may have the rights of assembly and expression, such freedoms should not be used to undermine public safety and national security.

The determination by some non-state actors to incite mass disaffection through demonstrations that may turn violent will not be tolerated. However, it is instructive to note that violent demonstrations are at variance with the peaceful disposition of the Federal Government to amicably address all contentions including the minimum wage. Citizens are, therefore, called upon to resist any persuasions to be lawless or cause disorder and anarchy in the nation. Displeased persons are rather encouraged to appropriately channel their grievances through the right channels and procedures.

Consequently, the DSS reaffirms its unequivocal position to protect the country from inimical acts being orchestrated by disgruntled groups to cause a breakdown of law and order. It will also sustain collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including sister security agencies, to maintain the peace as well as protect lives and property across the nation. Law abiding citizens are enjoined to go about their businesses without fear.

The Service, while felicitating the government and citizens on this auspicious occasion of celebrating 25 years of unbroken democracy, calls for continued patriotism, unity and commitment in building a Nigeria of our collective dream. Meanwhile, the DSS website, dss.gov.ng; email address- dsspr@dss.gov.ng and Telephone lines +2349153391309;+2349088373514 remain open to the public in the event that there is need to contact it.

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