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U.S. assures NDLEA of more support, collaboration on fight against illicit drugs

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U.S. assures NDLEA of more support, collaboration on fight against illicit drugs

By: Michael Mike

The United States government has assured the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) of more support and collaboration in different areas of its strategic operations to enhance its capabilities against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.

The assurance was given by Dr. Mark Hove of the Africa and Middle East Office, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, US State Department, on Wednesday when he led another top official of the Bureau, Craig Nixon on a courtesy visit to the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

This comes on the heels of a recent official letter by the Bureau announcing the U.S. project grant to the NDLEA following requests by Marwa during series of meetings both in Abuja and in Washington DC. The letter had noted that the support grant which will be implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Nigeria, covers forensic and chemical analysis capacity of the agency, intelligence-led investigations through diverse resources as well as legal books and an e-library for prosecution and other legal needs of the agency..

Speaking during the visit Mark Hove commended the tremendous work done so far by the Marwa-led NDLEA while expressing satisfaction with the response of the agency to the threat of lethal illicit drugs such as Fentanyl, Captagon and Methamphetamine. He cited the recent seizure of over 2.1 tons of cocaine in Ikorodu area of Lagos by NDLEA as an incredible feat.

Hove said he came on the visit to discuss areas of more assistance for the agency and further collaboration. He said with the NDLEA success story, the agency is well positioned to be a training centre for other anti-narcotic agencies in Africa.

In his response, Marwa expressed appreciation to the INL for its support to the agency and its readiness to do more. He said such will significantly enhance the investigative and prosecutorial capabilities of NDLEA especially coming at a time when the enabling Act of the agency has been amended by the National Assembly to further strengthen its capacity.

The NDLEA boss expressed happiness with the collaboration between NDLEA and the US Drug Enforcement Administration to combat trafficking of illicit drugs between the US and Nigeria as well as globally. “There’s need for greater collaboration on Fentanyl and others”, Marwa added.

U.S. assures NDLEA of more support, collaboration on fight against illicit drugs

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Prepare for Rainy Days, Invest in UK Properties, Property Consultant Advises Nigerians

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Prepare for Rainy Days, Invest in UK Properties, Property Consultant Advises Nigerians

By: Michael Mike

Nigerians have been asked to considering investing in properties in the United Kingdom as another way of preparing for the rainy days.

Director, UK-based Property Consultancy Firm, Daniel Ford International, Yemi Edun said Nigerians owning a property in the UK is a brilliant investment and a perfect pension plan that can match inflation anytime.

Edun who spoke at the sidelines of UK Property Roadshow Holding in Abuja called on Nigerians to embrace the opportunities offered by the Berkeley Groups to own properties in the UK.

Edun said: “We won’t get involved in anything that will be untoward property-wise. So this is encouraging Nigerians to come buy homes in the UK. Yes. As an option.

“As an investment option. As a second home. As a mitigation for their currency that keeps crashing, you know.

“And you ask me who buys? We have people in inheritance money, divorce settlement, up-and-coming technology people, farmers, bankers, you know.

“They buy for a certain amount. In another 10 years that property has doubled or tripled, you know.

“It’s a good pension plan so that when you retire, you have income that can match inflation. Because imagine you buy a property and you are getting a rent of two million Naira. Two million Naira is a lot of money.”

Speaking on why London should be of particular interest, Edun said: “London is special. The age long connection is one of the reasons that people get to London and they don’t suffer a cultural shock.

“Most Nigerians can get to London and you won’t even notice he’s a foreigner. So English language, schools, medical, lifestyle, football, and it’s just six hours away.”

He said the Roadshow helps to remove some of the barriers as prospective buyers have the opportunity to meet with developers like Berkeley Groups.

He added that: “We have come with what I call the buffet of properties that we’ve hand-picked, you know, specially for them, negotiated good deals that they would otherwise not be able to get themselves.”

The Berkeley Groups is one of the leading property firms in the UK and they are quoted on the London Stock Exchange.

Prepare for Rainy Days, Invest in UK Properties, Property Consultant Advises Nigerians

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France denies secret deployment of troops in Benin against Niger

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France denies secret deployment of troops in Benin against Niger

By: Michael Mike

France has denied media reports that it has clandestinely deployed troops in Benin Republic as part of plans to counter the junta government in Niger Republic.

A Nigerian newspaper in an article entitled ‘French Military Transport Plane Drops Off French Soldiers in Benin Republic’, alleged that France took the measures following the expulsion of its troops from Niger Republic.

The report in itself is a follow-up to allegations by the military junta in Niamey that France has set up a military base in Benin to also enforce the continued border closures between the two neighbouring West African countries.

In response, the French Embassy in Nigeria described the report as baseless, unfounded and part of the growing disinformation aimed to sustain the growing anti-French sentiment.

The statement read: “The French Embassy wishes to inform the public that the aircraft mentioned in this article is not a French military aircraft, nor has it connections to France. Furthermore, Beninese and French authorities have denied the existence of French military bases or of plans to establish French military bases in Benin at multiple occasions in the last months, in the context of growing disinformation campaigns on that topic.

“In every country, French security and defense cooperation is based on a partnership of equals and full respect for sovereignty. Any action or programme is carried out with the full agreement of relevant authorities. We remain available to answer questions from journalists and hope Leadership will take these clarifications into consideration.”

Also speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior officer of the French Embassy, noted: “I don’t need to tell you that most of the information in this article is fake. We have no military bases in Benin. Our cooperation with Benin is not hidden but explained in detail on our Embassy website (https://bj.ambafrance.org/-Cooperation-de-defense-), so if we were trying to hide it, we would be doing a terrible job… As all French military cooperation, it is based on request from the partner country and done with the utmost respect for its sovereignty.

“And finally, of course, Niamey authorities have never demonstrated the ineffectiveness of military cooperation with France: cooperation was working very well before the July 2023 coup and giving good results. Accusing us of training terrorists, as the current Nigerien Prime Minister is doing, is so ridiculous. I can’t even understand why the media would report on that without disproving it.”

Earlier, the Beninoise government Spokesperson, Mr. Wilfried Houngbédji, refuted the alleged presence of French military operations which would justify the continued closure of Niger’s border with Benin.

He iinvited the junta leader, General Tiani as well as independent media from Niger to come and see on site the absence of such bases.

He said: “A military base is not a needle in a haystack after all! The Prime Minister can deploy the satellite resources he wants with his current military allies to check if we have a military base.”

Houngbédji also made the distinction between “Fortified Forward Points” and military bases, affirming that Benin has several military camps intended to ensure national security and fight against terrorism.

He stressed that these installations are known to everyone, and that others are planned to be built, particularly in border communities.

“Now, if he talks about our Fortified Forward Points, our small military camps that we have built to secure our country and fight against terrorism, that’s something else. We are making them and today we have around twenty of them and there are others planned to be made. There are some in our border communes in particular and the Head of State spoke about it about two years ago in a message on the state of the Nation; it’s known to everyone ,” clarified Houngbédji.

He noted that the Beninoise Government has invited General Tiani to send the independent media to verify their claims. “They should come and see if there is a base here ,” he challenged.

France denies secret deployment of troops in Benin against Niger

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Nigeria/EU trade volume hits €45b

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Nigeria/EU trade volume hits €45b

By: Michael Mike

Latest statistics has shown that Nigeria and European Union trade volume has grown to €45 billion.

The statistics showed that this was the case as at September 2023, even as the
United Nations COMTRADE database indicated that Nigeria remains EU largest trade partner, accounting for 20.9% of Nigeria’s global trade.

The EU is made up of 28 European countries, though there are 50 countries considered European.

The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu during the celebration of 2024 European Day in Abuja on Thursday night said the value of trade between Nigeria and the EU has increased consistently, demonstrating the
potential for even greater collaboration.

Kalu while disclosing that Nigeria is prepared to provide an encouraging environment for investment, said: “The European Union is one of our most significant trading partners, and our economic ties have grown steadily.

“The value of trade between Nigeria and the EU has increased consistently, demonstrating the potential for even greater collaboration.”

Kalu while quoting the United Nations COMTRADE database, added that “as of September 2023, the EU’s bilateral trade with Nigeria has surpassed €45 billion.

“The EU is Nigeria’s largest trading partner, accounting for 20.9% of Nigeria’s
global trade.”

He assured EU that: “As we look to the future, Nigeria is committed to engendering an environment encouraging investment and trade with our European
partners.

“We recognize the vital role that
European businesses play in our economic development, and we welcome
continued investment in ourindustries, infrastructure, and technology
sectors.”

He equally, commended the cultural exchange between both parties, saying “Europe is a source of rich history, art, and
innovation, while Nigeria is a vibrant hub of diverse cultures and traditions.

“By having cultural exchanges, we build bridges of understanding that
transcend geographical boundaries.

“I am pleased to see that more
European cultural events are being held in Nigeria and that Nigerian
artists, musicians, and scholars are gaining recognition in Europe.

“These exchanges contribute to a more harmonious and interconnected world.”

The Deputy Speaker also commended the EU for it support to the country, especially in the area of education, healthcare,
digital economy, agriculture, security, and governance.

He noted that: “The European Union (EU) is supporting Nigeria’s digital transformation with a €820 million
investment through its Global Gateway initiative.

“This investment includes €160million in grants and €660million in loans.

“The EU is also supporting
Nigeria’s digital future through the AU-EUD4D Hub, a project that helps
African institutions create an enabling environment for a sustainable digital
transformation.

“Further more, the European Union has initiated several projects aimed at
promoting climate-smart agriculture and advancing Nigeria’s green transition.

“The GENESII: Mobility for Plant Genomics Scholars to Accelerate Climate-Smart Adaptation Options and Food Security in Africa II, is designed to foster academic exchange and research in plant
genomics, enhancing Africa’s adaptation to climate change and promoting
food security.

“The Small Hydro Power Development for Agro-industry Use (SHP-DAIN) project promotes the use of small-scale hydro power to boost agro-industrial production.”

He stressed that the EU’s commitment to the Climate-Smart Agriculture for Development Programme “underlines its support for climate-smart, innovative agriculture with an improved agribusiness climate and equitable participation of women and youth.”

He also said: “Beyond these projects,
the EU has also demonstrated its commitment to security and peace in the
Lake Chad region, mobilizing €2.5 billion since 2014 to support stabilization, peace, and security initiatives.

“This extensive support highlights the EU’s dedication to sustainable development and enhancing the quality of life for Nigerians”.

Kalu said: “As the Deputy Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, I believe in the importance of strengthening our democratic institutions and promoting
good governance.

“Europe has been a valuable partner in this regard, offering support and guidance as we work to uphold the principles of
democracy and the rule of law.”

In her remarks, Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Samuela Isopi said Nigeria remains a strategic partner to EU.

Isopi said EU cooperation with Nigeria tops global rankings whether in the energy and climate, digital, innovation, health or entrepreneurship areas.

She also said EU is targeting critical private and public investment in Nigeria.

Isopi also assured Nigeria of EU support in the efforts at ensuring democratic rules in the West African region.

She noted that: “A year ago, we met to celebrate Europe Day on the eve of the inauguration of the new administration in Nigeria and the start of a new chapter in our partnership. Since then, the joint visit of EU International Partnerships and Energy Commissioners, Jutta Urpilainen and Kadri Simpson, in October last year for the EU-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue, positioned Nigeria as a primary partner for the European Union.

“By now, EU cooperation with Nigeria tops global rankings whether in the energy and climate, digital, innovation, health or entrepreneurship areas. This is further amplified by our joint work with EU Member States and EU financial institutions (such as the European Investment Bank) as Team Europe, which combines our strengths across most areas of cooperation.

“In line with the Global Gateway strategy, EU cooperation is now targeting critical public and private investments, thereby providing the necessary instruments to make such investments viable and sustainable. In the health sector, besides continuous support to public actors at federal and state level, our support includes the mobilisation of public and private sectors investors towards increased local manufacturing of vaccines and other health products. “

On the coming Nigeria/EU Business Forum on July 2nd in Abuja, Isopi said it will bear witness to progress made and raise our ambition for the years to come.”

Adding, “As we increasingly focus on investments, our support to migration, governance, peace and security will continue unabated. This support reflects the fundamental values and challenges that bind the EU and Nigeria, such as the rule of law, democratic governance and protection of fundamental rights.

“In that regard, we believe that the position – and empowerment – of women and youth in today’s Nigeria deserves our collective attention. “

On the political front, the envoy said “While working with the National Assembly, Government at Federal and State level, we remain strong advocate and supporters of the need for a vibrant civil society, which provides a unique opportunity to promote change and accountability.

“Since we last met to celebrate Europe day, West Africa has gone through one of the most difficult times in its history.

“The EU continues to stand by Nigeria, by its regional partners and by ECOWAS and remains committed to supporting the region in building a community for the people.”

Nigeria/EU trade volume hits €45b

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