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RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Russian military reports massive Ukrainian drone incursion

The Russian military intercepted more than 50 drones overnight, including 44 over Rostov Region, the Defense Ministry reported on Friday morning. Local officials said an electric substation was damaged during the Ukrainian raid.

The attack happened in the Morozovsk district of Rostov Region, which is located some 190km west of the administrative center, Rostov-on-Don, Governor Vasily Golubev said on Friday. The region is located closer to the front line.

According to the ministry, air defenses also engaged Ukrainian unmanned aircraft over Saratov, Kursk and Belgorod regions, with a single drone intercepted over each. Six more were intercepted over Krasnodar Region.

The head of Saratov Region, Roman Busargin, reported that the city of Engels, which hosts a major air base, had come under attack. No damage was caused, he said.

Governor Roman Starovoyt of Kursk Region reported strikes by two Ukrainian drones in a village. Some buildings and cars were damaged, but nobody was injured.

Kiev has ramped up its drone attacks against targets deep inside Russia in the past month. Causing damage to oil infrastructure is now one of its priority goals.

According to The Guardian, Ukrainian special services claim they had “no choice” but to do this, since the country had no way of achieving any progress on the battlefield.

The issue was raised this week during a joint press conference by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne in Paris. The US diplomat stressed that the Americans “have neither supported nor enabled strikes by Ukraine outside of its territory.” The French official stated that Ukraine was “acting in self-defense” and thus “there is hardly anything to say” about the attacks.

CNN reported this week that foreign partners are assisting Kiev with programming flight paths and overcoming jamming in its long-range drone operations.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Ukrainian forces try to hold Russians back from stronghold in east

Fighting raged on Friday between Ukrainian and Russian forces near the town of Chasiv Yar, a Ukrainian stronghold in the east, but Kyiv denied that Moscow's troops had reached the suburbs.

Russian forces are inching forward in eastern Ukraine after capturing the bastion town of Avdiivka in February. Kyiv's soldiers are trying to dig in, facing long-term shortages of artillery shells with U.S. aid stuck in Congress.

Ukraine has needed the U.S. arms package for months in its fight with a much larger and better armed foe, and had hoped House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson would unveil an aid bill next week that would clear the Republican-controlled chamber.

But Republican infighting has created pressure to postpone it again.

A rapid Russian advance on Chasiv Yar, a heavily fortified town with a pre-war population of 12,200 situated west of the ruined, Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut, would be a grim setback for Kyiv.

Russia controls around 18% of Ukrainian territory and has stepped up its long-range strikes on energy infrastructure in recent weeks, causing large-scale outages.

Russia's RIA news agency cited an official as saying Russian troops had entered the suburbs of the town, which Moscow sees as an important staging point for Kyiv's troops.

Andriy Zadubinnyi, spokesman for Ukraine's eastern military command said the report was untrue and that fighting continued. He told Reuters the situation was "tense".

On Thursday, Serhiy Chaus, the mayor, said the situation in Chasiv Yar was at its most difficult since Russia began its full-scale invasion more than two years ago, in comments broadcast by the Espreso TV channel.

RUSSIAN WARPLANES DESTROYED, UKRAINE SAYS

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday that Ukraine had managed to stabilise its positions and that "given the shortage of shells and a significant slowdown in supplies, these results are really good".

Zelenskiy has said Russia may mount a new offensive in late May or summer, but that Kyiv has a battle plan of its own.

As Ukraine has gone onto the defensive, it has deployed hundreds of long-range drones to attack targets deep inside Russia.

A Kyiv intelligence source told Reuters that Ukraine's SBU security service and military had attacked an air base at Morozovsk in the adjoining Rostov region, destroying six Russian warplanes.

Reuters could not independently verify the claim. The source did not say how the attack was conducted but said eight more warplanes had also been damaged.

Russia's RIA news agency cited the Russian defence ministry earlier as saying air defences had downed 53 Ukrainian drones overnight, most of them over the Rostov region.

The source said the air base had been used by Russian tactical bombers that had fired guided bombs at Ukraine.

 

RT/Reuters

We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to give us tips on staying safe in hotels while traveling solo. Here are the eye-opening and helpful results:

1. "Lock every lock that is on the door. I also keep the 'do not disturb sign' throughout my stay because I don't want anyone in there with my things. That said, if I have valuables, I still hide them somewhere if I don't take them with me."

"Also, not necessarily a safety tip, but check for bed bugs. Better be safe than sorry."

flubber7777

2. "As a woman who travels solo for work often and has been in many uncomfortable situations, this is my advice: Avoid first-floor or street-level rooms, especially those with sliding or balcony doors. The anxiety of someone entering through those doors is too much."

"If you’re staying in a street-level room, make sure the shades or curtains are closed."

JerseyJ619

3. "If the front desk ever says your room number or any personal info, out loud at check-in, ask for a different room. THIS makes it so easy for predators to find you easily."

joscelynem

"All you have to do is politely ask, 'Actually, can I please change rooms?' Just because everyone in earshot now knows where you will be staying, that could be very dangerous."

radiantpunk19

4. "If you have an issue with your room, and they want to see the issue with you, tell them to check for themselves while you wait at the front desk. I had a room issue and felt cornered when the front desk attendants were in the room with me."

joscelynem

5. "If parking a car in a lot adjacent to the hotel, ask for an escort to the hotel. You never know what/who is lurking while you're on that walk and will likely catch you off guard while you try to juggle your luggage."

joscelynem

6. "Trust your gut. If anything seems off, workers seem shady, get out if you can. Also, let someone know where you are. Share your location with them, and let them know you're nervous. And have a contingency plan set up with them."

"I've texted my best friend that if she doesn't hear from me by X time, call the cops. Here is my room number. Please have them do a wellness check. I've also preemptively called the police to alert them that there seems to be a shady vibe, and I'd like them to visit the hotel — and if anyone calls about me, it's because I told them I didn't trust my surroundings. Stay safe out there, everyone! Travel is fun, but it is also incredibly stressful when you don't feel safe!"

joscelynem

7. "If you're using room service, take the food yourself at the door. Yeah, paranoia, but once a stranger is in your room, that door is locked, and you're alone with a stranger. I'm a guy, and it still scares me."

"And maybe this is health, not safety, but do not put the ice from the hallway ice dispenser in your drinks! When was the last time you saw one being cleaned?"

angelicduck46

8. "Always use the deadbolt. It happened to me several times when the front desk assigned me a room that was already occupied, or someone tried to enter my room. Avoid Murphy doors if possible; if you get one, put a nightstand or chair in front of it."

"Know where the emergency exits are in case of an emergency in the middle of the night. It gets chaotic if alarms go off and people run around lost. Don't use the glasses or coffee pot. They never get cleaned, or at best, they are wiped with a dirty rag that just cleaned your toilet."

sarac4574b3b4f

9. "Don't get distracted by burying your face on your phone when walking. Keep your head on a swivel. And take a lot of pictures!!! Street signs you pass, buildings around, license plates of cars that make you 1% suspicious, or people making you feel uncomfortable.

"You may just delete them after the trip if all is well, but if you need them, you’ll want them."

savorytree93

10. "Make reservations for two people (this includes restaurants as well). Staff and owners will always assume two people are in the room. I've even asked for extra towels for my 'fiancé.'"

—Anonymous, New York

"When asked how many room keys you'll need, always say two (or more), or make sure to ask for two keys before they ask/give you any. This lets others listen in that there will be someone else coming that will need the other room key."

—54, Michigan

11. "Use Google Maps/Google Earth to look at the street view of wherever you are considering staying. 'Walk' up and down the street. Make sure it's well lit, that there aren't run down buildings, that there aren't dead-end streets, etc. There have been plenty of hotels I thought looked lovely from the photos, but once I Google Earthed them, it was clear it was in a shady area."

—Anonymous, New York

"Google Street View is useful for me when vetting out places to stay, especially in cities. Seeing what the surrounding area looks like is usually a good indication of how safe it is as well as the parking situation."

—32, Michigan

12. "Check everything the second you get to the room. Make sure there is nobody in the closet, shower, behind the curtains, etc. People are creeps. Check for cameras as well. Then, check the bed for bedbugs, as those will not make your trip fun."

"As I write this, I am on a bus en route to a hotel for a work trip, so I am about to put these things into action myself."

—Anonymous, Connecticut
13. "Always pack one of those little rubber door stops in your bag. Wedge your door with it when you're in your hotel room to stop people from getting in. They are cheap, small, and light to carry but give you great peace of mind!"

"Oh, unmarried women might want to consider wearing a wedding ring and inventing a fake husband who is 'on his way to meet her' if any random men ask her who she is traveling with."

—46, UK

14. "ALWAYS lock hotel doors. Even if you are gone for only a few minutes, lock your door so you and your belongings stay safe."

—Anonymous, 27

"Invest in a travel door lock for your hotel/hostel door. They fit most doors and provide extra security so no staff (or criminals) with universal keys can access your room."

lesliec21

15. "If it's late, you've been drinking, or if you simply get on an elevator, and there's one other 'sketchy' person who has already pushed your floor number, push the floor above or below and take the stairs. Alternatively, exit on that floor and catch another elevator to yours."

—59, New York

16. "I was a flight attendant for 25 years. I always used the hotel ironing board against the door when I was in the room, along with the 'do not disturb' sign."

—58, Florida
17. "For women, especially: Cover the peephole! I always put a piece of toilet paper in it because, in some hotels, you can see in the room from the outside through it."

—Anonymous, Virginia
18. "Check the windows and all doors first — make sure they lock. I used to travel for work and sometimes in very remote places. If they do not lock, immediately ask for a room change. Safety is a priority. I used to travel with a steel bar to put in the track of a sliding glass door, window, etc."

—49, USA

19. "Choose a place close to restaurants, stores, etc., so if you need something at night, you're nearby. Of course, read reviews and comments, and choose a place in a safe area."

—42, USA
20. "I do a lot of small trips alone frequently due to college. Recently, I went to Florida to visit a friend, and while we stayed together, we're both women in our early 20s, which is daunting in an unfamiliar area. Always tell people in your family where you're going. She told hers, and I told mine — address and everything. We even did a shared Life360 (a location-sharing app) for the both of us just in case we separated."

"We also kept the key we had hidden; it was never visible for others to see. When I travel alone, I always keep the curtains closed, even during the day, especially if I'm not there. It just ensures that anything in your room can't be seen."

—21, USA

And finally...

21. "Don't get a room by the stairwell. It's well known that in case of an attack/assault, the perpetrator can escape quickly or access your room quickly, too. Also, don't get a room beside or across from the elevators! It seems obvious, but front desks always want to put clueless people there if they can get away with it. It will never not be noisy, and you will get little sleep. Too many times, BTW."

"If you have sliding doors or windows, always check that they are locked. I have found them unlocked more times than I can count."

angelicduck46


Buzzfeed

An Italian woman with no direct heirs left all her €5 million ($5.4 million) fortune to her Albanian caretaker, completely blindsiding the 10 nephews who were expecting the inheritance.

Maria Malfatti, a descendant of one of the most famous families in Rovereto, a town in Italy’s Trento province, died last November at the age of 80.

A descendant of Valeriano Malfatti, a former mayor of Rovereto and vice-president of Vienna’s Parliament, the woman owned a number of valuable assets, including several apartments, a historic building in the town center, as well as significant sums of money kept in bank accounts.

However, Maria Malfatti had never been married and had no children to leave the family fortune to, so her nephews stood to inherit everything. Only the woman apparently had other plans, as she decided to leave everything down to the last cent to the woman who had cared for her over the last few years, an Albanian national.

It’s unclear what the relationship between Maria Malfatti and her nephews was like, but the woman’s relatives were definitely shocked to learn that they had all been snubbed in favor of the woman who had worked as the octogenarian’s caretaker.

After the late woman’s will was read, they contacted lawyer Luca Fedrizzi and filed a case to have the Malfatti fortune frozen, claiming that the late Maria Malfatti had lost her senses due to old age and had been taken advantage of by her Albanian caretaker.

The late woman’s nephews are convinced that the caretaker appointed herself as the sole heir of the Malfatti fortune, completely taking them out of the will. A judge agreed to freeze all assets – considering that the risk of them being sold was too great – while an investigation sheds light on the situation.

This wouldn’t be the first time that someone snubbed their relatives, especially if they had been ignoring them and just waiting for the inheritance to fall in their lap. Earlier this year, a Chinese woman left her $2.8 million fortune to her pets, excluding her three children out of the will because they had neglected her.

 

Oddity Central

Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has said that its members have lost at least N1.5tn in the last six months to forex-related transactions.

Director-General of MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, made the disclosure to The PUNCH in an exclusive interview on Monday.

The revelation came amid dissent by manufacturers that contrary to claims made by the Central Bank of Nigeria that all valid forex requests had been cleared, several manufacturers still have pending dollar requests, some of which have been left unattended for an extended period.

Two weeks ago, the CBN announced it had successfully cleared all valid foreign exchange backlogs, effectively eliminating a legacy burden.

The announcement was made by the bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Sidi Ali.

The bank said it completed payment of $7bn, resolving obligations to bank customers, thereby clearing the residual balance of the FX backlog.

The statement partly read, “The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced that all valid foreign exchange backlogs have now been settled, fulfilling a key pledge of the CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, to process an inherited backlog of $7bn in claims.

“Clearance of the foreign exchange transactions backlog is part of the overall strategy detailed in last month’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting to stabilise the exchange rate and thereby curb imported inflation, spurring confidence in the banking system and the economy.”

However, in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Francis Meshioye, said the forex requests by his members were yet to be cleared.

According to Meshioye, the lingering status of the forex requests by manufacturers, which remains unmet, has taken a negative toll on many businesses.

Meshioye said, “Surely not. They have not cleared it. We know there are a lot of issues surrounding forward contracts, especially forex that is due to be paid. The agreement is that the money (forex) should be paid at a future date, and the future date has passed.

“They are in arrears. This is a concern to the manufacturers because it has a lot of effects, not only on the manufacturers but the country as a whole. In the first instance, you will lose your credibility.”

To address the issue, a stakeholder meeting comprising NACCIMA, MAN, the affected banks and customers was convened by the Minister of Industry Trade and Investment at the Bank of Industry in Lagos on March 21, 2024.

The meeting, however, failed to comprehensively address the concerns of the affected businesses. The CBN, which appointed Business Management Consultant, Deloitte Nigeria to oversee the settlement of the forex backlog, said the requests that were not attended were deemed invalid.

According to Ajayi-Kadir, the N1.5tn forex-related losses incurred by the manufacturers in the last six months have revolved around interest payments that have accrued as a result of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s delay in settling outstanding forex forward contracts.

Other factors that have contributed to the loss include excess payments made for import duty assessment and the rapid depreciation of the naira during the first quarter of the year.

Ajayi-Kadir added that many manufacturers are unable to produce due to the inability to import new raw materials, having defaulted in settling their outstanding dollar debts.

He expressed regret that some of the manufacturers’ funds have been left hanging for more than 18 months, a development that has been fraught with disastrous consequences.

He said, “Within the last six months, our companies have incurred not less than N1.5tn in forex-related transaction losses. By the time our results are out for Q1, in terms of the performance of companies, this will be very clear.

 “So, you cannot imagine a situation where the CBN is completely insulated from this challenge because they have fully received the naira cover for the forward purchase. The banks are also collecting interest on their naira credit facilities to manufacturers. The corresponding bank outside the country is also earning interest on the dollar component. And, until they pay what they owe, they cannot go for fresh raw materials, because you’ll be seen as a bad customer.

“Whenever you have something like this, it affects the supply chain — productivity, your loan repayment schedule, employment target and the contribution of the sector to the GDP will be compromised. Whenever something like this happens to manufacturers, it has serious implications for the logistics value chain.

 “It impacts security and of course, the level of well-being reduces because, wherever you can, you have to pass the cost to the consuming public. That is when you are even able to produce. When the financials for the first quarter are out, you will see that it is a dire situation for the manufacturing sector.”

Speaking further, the MAN DG said that sequel to the earlier consultation held at the behest of the Federal Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, further consultation will be held with the National Assembly to explore a viable solution to the unsettled forex forwards.

Reacting to the claim by the apex bank that the requests which were not settled were deemed invalid, Ajayi-Kadir faulted the argument, insisting that neither the CBN nor its agent (Deloitte) had communicated to the banks the criteria through which the determinations on validity were made.

He called on the CBN to reassess the requests to avoid any possible pushback in the form of litigation on the part of the manufacturers, which may further worsen the already dire situation.

He added, “It is a very difficult situation for manufacturers. You can imagine, some of these forwards are more than two years old. The point is that some of those transactions had been concluded.

 “The raw materials had been imported, the raw materials have been used to produce goods. Those goods have been sold. The account has been closed for that financial year. So, the situation we are having now is that we are still paying interest both on the naira and the dollar debts because most manufacturers borrowed money to deposit for the forex in the first instance. When the corresponding bank of your local bank, that is the one abroad pays the dollar on your behalf, you pay interest as well.

 “So, manufacturers have continued to pay because the matter has not been fully vacated. That means that the dollar has not been fully paid back by the CBN, which is the forward nature of this transaction. The situation now is such that it undermines our capacity to operate. Most of our members who get their raw materials and use them as a basis for production to generate funds to be able to make another round of production are having it difficult. They are piling up interest rates that they are paying.”

Asked about the basis for arriving at the N1.5tn loss, Ajayi-Kadir said the losses were incurred through interest payments on unremitted dollar debts, excess payments on import duty assessment, and the depreciation of the local currency.

He lamented that the loss had put the manufacturing sector in a state of distress and that more factories may close if the situation is not resolved.

“Going to court may be a last resort, but it’s not something that I  believe is in anybody’s particular interest. You know how the judicial system works. We are already saying that the forward has taken one year and a half. I don’t know how long this one is going to take, knowing that it can go through all the different layers of the judicial process.

 “So I hope that it will not get to that. I am not ruling it out, but I am saying that I am confident that it shouldn’t get to that and that we should be mindful of the implications on the national economy,” he said.

 

Punch

At the backdrop of a huge discrepancy between the number of feeders covered as Band A customers by electricity distribution companies (DisCos) and what was approved by the Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) the DisCos are now making moves to return more of their consumers to Band A to charge the new tariff.

Vanguard learnt that the DisCos had recorded 1,100 feeder coverage areas for Band A but NERC said the actual coverage area for the new tariff was only 480.

A source in one of the DisCos in Lagos told our correspondent that they are now working on increasing the number of Band A consumers to return those earlier removed by NERC back to Band A.

Recall that the NERC, on Tuesday, hiked electricity tariff, for Band A customers by 240 per cent from N68 per kilowatt hour to N225/kWh.

Band A customers are those who receive an average daily supply of electricity supply of 20 hours or more. With the new order issued by NERC, Band A would no longer enjoy Federal Government subsidy on electricity.

Meanwhile, the new tariff regime is expected to reduce subsidy costs by N137.1 billion per month following the decision to raise tariff for about two million consumers by 230 percent.

 

Vanguard

Kano State government has filed an eight-count charge against Abdullahi Ganduje, former governor of the state, for allegedly collecting $200,000 from a contractor.

In a charge sheet filed before the Kano high court, the state government said the offence contravened Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law 2008.

The defendants in the case are Ganduje, Hafsat Umar, Abubakar Bawuro, Umar Abdullahi Umar, Jibrilla Muhammad, Lamash Properties Limited, Safari Textiles Limited, and Lesaga General Enterprises.

The state government also accused Ganduje of collecting $210,000 kickback from “people and entities seeking or holding the execution of Kano State Government contract and or project for the remodelling of Kantin Kwari textile market as a bribe through one of the contractor’s (agent)”.

“That you, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje sometime between the period of September 2020 and March 2021 or thereabout, at Kano in the Kano Judicial Division, together with one Hafsat Umar (your spouse) and Abubakar Bawuro, a Businessman, Safari Textile Ltd, a limited liability company, wholly owned and maintained by the 3rd Defendant, agreed to do an illegal act to wit: dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N1,376,000,000.00 (One Billion Three Hundred and seventy-six million Naira) through account No. 7085982019 belonging to the 3rd Defendant being monies earmarked and approved for the purchase and supply of face marks and other hospital equipment for the health sector, thereby causing wrongful loss to the people and government of Kano State and thereby jointly committed the offence of Criminal Conspiracy contrary to section 96 and punishable under section 97 of The penal code (as amended) CAP, 105, Vol.2. The Laws of Kano State of Nigeria, 1991,” part of the charge sheet reads

“That you, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, sometime between the period of September 2020 and January 2022 or thereabout, at Kano in the Kano Judicial Division, together with one Hafsat Umar (your spouse) and Abubakar Bawuro, a Businessman, Safari Textile Ltd, a limited liability company, while entrusted with the sum of N1,376,000,000.00 (One Billion Three Hundred and seventy-six million Naira) or dominion over the said sum, earmarked for the purchase and supply of face masks and other hospital equipment dishonestly misappropriated and/or converted the said sum to your own use through account No. 7085982019 belonging to the 3rd defendant, thereby jointly committed the offence of Criminal Breach of Trust contrary to section 311 and punishable under section 312 of The penal code (as amended) CAP, 105, Vol.2.

“That you, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje sometime between the period March of 2021 or thereabout, at Kano in the Kano Judicial Division, while serving as the Governor and being a public servant in the government of Kano State for your own benefit and that of your immediate family conspire with the 4th defendant (Umar Abdullahi Umar) being your biological son using 6th defendant (Lamash Properties Ltd) a company owned and or operated by members of your family including the 4th defendant and dishonestly allocated 501 (five hundred and one) high-density plots of lands you hold in trust for the benefit all Nigerians at Zawachiki layout No. TP/KNUPD/256B in the name of the 6th defendant company under the pretext of site and services arrangement in the land compulsory acquired by you being the Governor of Kano State from destitute members of the public (peasant farmers) where it was sold and the proceed part of which the sum of #700,000,000.00 (Seven Hundred Million Naira) was deposited in the account of Bureau de change operator vision Steel link Ltd No. Domicile at Access Bank where dollar equivalent was given to the 4th defendant to the detriment of the people and government of Kano State thereby jointly committed the offence of Criminal Conspiracy contrary to section 96 and punishable under section 97 of The penal code (as amended) CAP,105, Vol.2. The Laws of Kano State of Nigeria, 1991.

“That you, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje sometime between the period March of 2021 or thereabout, at Kano in the Kano Judicial Division, while serving as the Governor and being a public servant in the government of Kano State for your own benefit and that of your immediate family conspire with the 4th defendant Umar Abdullahi Umar, being your biological son using 6th defendant Lamash Properties Ltd a company substantially owned and or operated by members of your family including the 4th defendant and dishonestly allocated 501 (five hundred and one) high-density plots of lands you hold in trust for the benefit all Nigerians at Zawachiki layout No. TP/KNUPDA/256B in the name of the 6th defendant company under the pretext of site and services arrangement in the land compulsory acquired by you as a governor of Kano state from destitute members of the public (peasant farmers) which was sold and the proceeds, the sum of #700,000,000.00 (Seven Hundred Million Naira) was deposited in the account of Bureau de change operator vision Steel link Ltd No. 7816362026 Domicile at FCMB where dollar equivalent was given to the 4th defendant thereby causing wrongful gain to yourself and causing wrongful loss to the people and government of Kano State thereby jointly committed the offence Criminal Breach of Trust contrary to section 311 and read together with section 79 and punishable under section 312 of The Penal Code (as amended), CAP. 105, Vol. 2. The Laws of the Kano State of Nigeria, 1991.”

The state government said a forensic expert would analyse the video, showing the former governor receiving dollar notes from a contractor.

BACKGROUND

Ganduje, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), served as governor of Kano from 2015 to 2023.

In 2018, Daily Nigerian, an online newspaper, published a video of Ganduje allegedly receiving bundles of dollars from contractors, which he stuffed into his “babanriga”, a traditional outfit

The newspaper said the former governor requested $5 million as a bribe from the contractors who recorded the video.

In 2023, the Kano state Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC) invited Ganduje for questioning over the incident in the video.

The former governor did not honour the invitation and instead instituted a suit against the agency.

In March, a federal high court in Kano stopped the agency from inviting or questioning Ganduje over the bribery allegations.

The court ruled that the agency lacks the power to invite or investigate Ganduje over the allegations.

Abdullahi Liman, the presiding judge, said the alleged infraction is a federal offence that cannot be prosecuted by the state anti-graft agency.

 

The Cable

PRESS RELEASE

President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, 3 April 2024, signed into law the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2024. The Act seeks to guarantee sustainable higher education and functional skill development for all Nigerian students and youths.

WHY THE PREVIOUS ACT WAS AMENDED

The repealed Student Loan Act, 2023, had some challenges bordering on governance and management, purpose of the loans, eligibility criteria for applicants, method of application, repayment provisions, and recovery of the loans.

THE AMENDMENTS UNDER THE NEW ACT

Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Act, 2024 sufficiently resolved the challenges highlighted above and includes the following amendments:

(a) Establishes the Nigeria Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) as a body corporate that can sue and be sued in its name and has the power to acquire, hold, and dispose of movable and immovable property for the purpose of its functions.

– This ensures that the Fund can legally enter contracts, including loan agreements, and may also initiate action to ensure repayment by beneficiaries.

(b) Empowers the Fund to provide loans to qualified Nigerians for tuition, fees, charges, and upkeep during their studies in approved tertiary academic institutions and vocational and skills acquisition institutions in Nigeria.

– Build, operate, and maintain a diversified pool of funds to provide loans to qualified applicants and ensure access to higher education, vocational training, and skills acquisition.

– These amendments ensure that students can apply for and receive loans to cover tuition, institutional charges, and some upkeep.

(c) Separates the governance functions from the management operations of NELFUND by establishing a board of directors with a chairman and a secretary.

– The board’s members are drawn from relevant ministries, regulatory bodies, and participating agencies, including the Federal Ministries of Finance and Education, the FIRS, NIMC, NUC, NBTE, and NCCE, as well as representatives of universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, students of tertiary institutions, and the organized private sector.

– Establishes a management team led by a managing director, including executive directors responsible for the day-to-day management and operations of the Fund.

– The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria appoints the Board and Management.

(d) Properly defines the resource structure of the Fund by, among other things, establishing the General Reserve Fund into which shall be paid 1 per cent of all taxes, levies, and duties collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service and accruing to the benefit of the Federal Government, and

– From which the Fund shall pay amounts payable as loans to qualified applicants for tuition, fees, charges, and upkeep, as well as the Fund’s operational expenses and such expenditures necessary to attaining the Fund’s objectives and functions.

(e) Changes to eligibility criteria for applicants

– Removes the family income threshold so Nigerian students can apply for these loans and accept responsibility for repayment according to the Fund’s guidelines.

– Removes the guarantor requirement so that students can apply for and receive loans subject to application and identity verification guidelines as provided by the Fund.

– Student applicants can no longer be disqualified based on their parent’s loan history.

(f) Establishes a justice and fairness provision mandating the Board to ensure a minimum national spread of loans approved and disbursed in each financial year.

(g) Applicants to the Fund may apply for loans to cover tuition and other fees payable to the school and maintenance allowance payable to the student.

(h) Repayment of loans by beneficiaries

– The Fund shall not initiate loan recovery efforts until two years after the completion of the National Youth Service Programme.

– A beneficiary may request an extension of enforcement action by the Fund by providing a sworn affidavit indicating that he/she is not employed in any capacity and is not receiving any income.

– Only a person who provides a false statement to the Fund under this section is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

– Makes provision for loan forgiveness in the event of death or acts of God causing inability to repay.

The Act effectively removes the previous encumbrances found in the first iteration of the Act and paves the path for the protection of Nigeria’s future by ensuring that citizens have the means to fund their education, acquire critical skills, and become productive contributors to national development.

Ajuri Ngelale

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

ISRAELI REPORTS

IDF: Earlier today, a number of launches were identified crossing from Lebanon toward the areas of Betzet and Shlomi in northern Israel. The IDF struck the sources of fire.

A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck terrorist infrastructure in the areas of Yaroun, Aynata, and Maroun El Ras.

Attached is a video of the strikes: https://bit.ly/4anHQQM

** IDF: IDF Spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari:

"In the past six months we have been in the midst of a multi-arena war, and we are on high alert in all arenas."

Please find attached the translation of a briefing by the IDF Spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari: https://www.idf.il/190486

 

HAMAS’ REPORTS

Al-Quds Brigades:

After our mujahideen returned from the clashes in Khan Yunis, they confirmed that they had carried out a number of tasks:

- Targeting a special Zionist force holed up in a building with an anti-armor and anti-fortification missile, and they blew up a Zionist tank with a “lightning-shock” device in the same place.

- Our Mujahideen shot down a Zionist drone and took control of it.

Our mujahideen targeted gatherings of enemy soldiers with a barrage of 60-caliber regular mortar shells around Al-Amal Hospital and the Al-Arishiya area on the front lines of advance west of Khan Yunis.

#Al-Aqsa Flood

** A paramedic was killed and 3 others were injured while trying to help citizens in the Beit Hanoun area in the northern Gaza Strip.

** Hezbollah: We targeted an Israeli technical team while it was maintaining technical and espionage equipment at the Bayad Blida site with appropriate weapons.

** Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades:

After their return from the battle lines, our fighters confirmed that they had bombed gatherings of Zionist occupation soldiers and their military vehicles with a barrage of regular 60-caliber mortar shells on the front lines, west of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip.

** Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades:

After their return from the battle lines, our fighters confirmed that they targeted a D9 military bulldozer with an R.P.G. shell west of Gaza City.

** Al-Quds Brigades: We bombed “Ashkelon”, “Sderot”, “Niram” and the settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip with missile launches in response to the crimes of the Zionist enemy against our people.

#Al-Aqsa Flood

#Flood_of_Freemen

** Clashes broke out during the occupation forces’ storming of the town of Kafr al-Ra’i.

** A helicopter carrying dead and wounded Israeli occupation soldiers was monitored landing at Nahariya Hospital after a military vehicle was targeted with a guided missile at the Metulla site in northern occupied Palestine.

 

IDF/Hamas Brigade al-Qassam

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Russia hits ‘foreign mercenaries’ base in Ukraine – MoD

The Russian military has carried out high-precision strikes on an ammunition depot and a temporary base for foreign mercenaries in Ukraine’s Kharkov Region, the Defense Ministry in Moscow has announced.

Both targets were located near the town of Merefa, about 20km (12 miles) southwest of Kharkov, it said in a statement on Thursday. “Operational-tactical aviation, unmanned aerial vehicles, missile forces, and artillery”were involved in the attack, it added.

Underground coordinator Sergey Lebedev claimed in an interview with RIA Novosti news agency that one of the targets was the Merefa Mechanical Plant, where Kiev troops were producing and storing drones, while the second was a tank school, which housed tanks and instructors provided by Ukraine’s foreign backers.

A train carrying Ukrainian troops and equipment, which was unloading not far from the school at the time of the strikes, was also hit, he stated. However, these details have yet to be confirmed by officials.

Earlier on Thursday, Ukrainian officials and media reported that residential infrastructure in Kharkov had been hit by drones. According to the reports, the attacks resulted in at least four deaths. The drones also reportedly hit a thermal power plant located near the village of Slobozhanskoye, 55km from Kharkov.

Moscow has repeatedly said that its forces do not target civilians.

Russian forces first began targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in the autumn of 2022 in response to the bombing of the Crimean Bridge. Kiev had initially denied responsibility, but later admitted its involvement in the attack.

Last month, the Russian military carried out a massive wave of strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, causing widespread blackouts.

Russia has stepped up its airstrikes on Ukrainian military targets and critical infrastructure in the wake of Kiev’s recent attempted incursions into Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk Regions, as well as indiscriminate attacks on settlements along the border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month suggested that a “cordon sanitaire” – a sort of a buffer zone – should be established on Kiev-controlled territories to protect the Russian population in regions bordering Ukraine.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Fragments of presumed Russian drone found in Moldova

Border police in ex-Soviet Moldova said on Thursday they had found and cordoned off what appeared to be fragments of an Iranian-made Russian drone just inside the country's border with Ukraine.

A police statement said the fragments were found near the villages of Etulia and Vladiceni and bore the inscription Heran-2, another name for Iranian-made Shahed drones used by Russia in its conflict with Ukraine.

The fragments were found in an area about 500 metres (1,600 feet) from the border with Ukraine, with access to the area restricted, the police said. There were no dangerous elements in the fragments and no danger to the area's residents.

There have been several instances of fragments of Russian drones and missiles found on the territory of Moldova, which lies between Ukraine and Romania. Drone fragments were found near the same villages in February.

Pro-European President Maia Sandu has denounced Russia's invasion of its neighbour and singles out Moscow and corruption as the two biggest threats to her country's sovereignty.

Sandu has set a drive to join the European Union as her main policy goal.

 

RT/Reuters

Anikura thought he was going to have a pleasant night last Tuesday after taking his wife out on a sumptuous dinner treat. It was fun throughout the evening at the Hotel Gbewiri where Anikura and his plus-size wife of 30 years had a 9-course meal with tantalizingly bewitching damsels feeding their eyes with scenes of pole-dance and other out-of-this-world lurid entertainment. That was customary of this super-rich couple whose lavish tastes had no respect for decorum or decency.

‘Darling me”, Abora had hardly put her second foot out of the glistering limousine when she called out in a not-too-friendly tone, “I thought you heard the news as we were having dinner when the newscaster reeled out names on the latest list of billionaires with special attention to those who made the grade in our country.”

“Yes, darling. I did. What about it?’’

“What about what?”

“Yes, what about it? Have you ever heard them mentioning my name among the names of billionaires in this country?”

“That’s my point. And why have you never protested?”

“Protest over what?”

“Look, dear, don’t frustrate me this night. Look at the small boys, yes boys, not necessarily in age, but small by virtue of the newness of their wealth and the smallness of their wallets.”

“Age has nothing to do with Forbes categorisation or newness of the wealth. I think their assessment is based on visibility and I think, possibly on verification of the assets and market value of those they parade as the wealthiest or something like that. I don’t work for Forbes, so I really don’t know for certain what their criteria are”

“You see, that’s where I’m coming from. Are you saying the Forbes people are blind? Can’t they see the palatial buildings we have all over the places. In The US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Dubai, Canada? I’m sure if Forbes people are serious and not corrupt, they should know that you are qualified to top the list of billionaires in this country.

The atmosphere was getting charged and Anikura was at a loss as to what to tell his wife to calm her down. She was fuming and as she punched out every word from her large mouth, her breasts seemed to be moving up and down in response to heavy breathing.

Abora was hypertensive and she also nursed a sizeable measure of diabetes. She stammered and that God’s gift jacked up her temperature whenever she lost her cool or appeared worked up in an argument.

“Look, darling”, Anikura tried to calm down her nerves; may be I should call our accountant to explain to both of us why my name was missing”.

“Come on. Am I an illiterate? What is there to explain to me by your accountant? Don’t you have money? Are we not by far wealthier than those boys and girls in the Forbes list of billionaires? How much billions do they have? In Dollars, we are not their mate. In Pounds Sterling we are not their equal. In French franc, we are by far ahead of their grandfathers. In Naira, we are richer than the Central Bank. So, what is it? What is the so-called accountant you built a house for coming to tell me? Are we not the ones who sent his 2 daughters abroad? Is that the man coming to educate me on what I know?” Abora would not let go. Anikura, her husband, former Governor, former Senator, former Council Chairman, former Ambassador, former Minister and former ex-Military Chief rolled into one, was already perspiring. He also was diabetic and suffered renal challenges.

“No sir, Yes sir, no sir, Okay sir, Beg your pardon sir” That was accountant Manotan Paramole.

“Please if you can drive down to our mansion now, I will appreciate it very much”.

“Expect me shortly sir” Paramole concurred.

“I will walk out on you both if he should show up his ugly face here tonight.”

“What exactly is the matter with you this night? I tried to explain to you how Forbes conducts their business, you said No; I want to bring in an expert, you still say No; what do you want me to do? It’s already past 8, o, clock. We should be in bed by now”.

“Not me and you in bed this night. This Forbes nonsense, exposing me to ridicule in the eyes of my friends who always hail me as ‘Super Billionaire’s Heartthrob’ must stop.”

“Come in!” Anikura gave Manotan a cheerful welcome. “Please sit down”

“Thank you sir”.

“Darling, please come and listen to our accountant”

“Madam, ma, as I was saying….”

Abora interrupted him. “What were you saying? Even by your records, the way we lavish money on you and your entire family, including your father and mother, are we not billionaires? Is my husband not qualified to be dubbed the NO1 billionaire in this country, in this continent, even in the world? You know our assets distributed all over the world and the humongous cash stashed away abroad in several special designated banks? Now, your story?”

“Thank you Madam, ma. The way billionaires are ranked is based majorly on visible, verifiable assets and wealth, possibly along with products or services which engendered such wealth. You know, we are not allowed to advertise my client’s wealth especially since we cannot prove the source or sources of the huge funds stashed away in hidden accounts. And Madam Ma, may be you are not aware, most of the assets you and oga have are in fictitious names and fictitious companies’ names.”

Abora turned to her husband, her jaw drooping: “What am I hearing?”

“But you heard him”, Anikura responded calmly.

“Is he saying you are a shady billionaire, to your face, in our own house?” “Cheeky eh?”

“I don’t think that’s what the accountant is saying. He is just explaining how his company works. He surely can’t sit in my house and call me a thief, or embezzler of public funds or such profane words bothering on character assassination. No, God forbid!”

“I hope not” the confused Abora let down her guard.

“After you have served this country meritoriously almost all your life, working as a public servant for close to two-thirds of your life span so far, how would anybody impugn your integrity? My darling. I’m so sorry. I now understand. Forbes classification is for nouveau rich. For small boys who still have to prove how they came by their sudden wealth. We have long passed that stage.”

“You see, my darling wife, we are billionaires from the womb. Me, Anikura, Forbes doesn’t have one percent of my wealth. It will be an insult for me, and a major insult on my wealth and riches if Forbes should rank me with these little tots.”

All hail Anikura, the billionaire beyond Forbes orbit.


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