Below are the headlines in Nigerian Newspapers today:
1) Two feared dead in Lagos pipeline fire
Two persons were feared dead in multiple pipeline explosions at Abule-Egba area of Lagos State last night.
Many people were injured.
Fire from the explosions razed houses and vehicles.
The fire, which started around Ile-Epo bus stop at about 8 pm, was said to have spread to Abule-Egba, Fagba and Ekoro roads.
In a swift reaction, Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr Gbenga Omotoso said: “A pipeline fire has been reported at Abule-Egba.
2) Niger Delta ministry goes tough on NDDC contractors
All monies paid to contractors of all abandoned projects by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) will be recovered, Niger Delta Affairs Minister Godswill Akpabio, has again vowed.
The minister said the erring contractors will be compelled to either return to the sites, or refund the cash they received.
He assured that the forensic audit of the NDDC as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari will expose the contractors who abandoned the jobs given to them after collecting mobilisation funds.
The minister spoke at the weekend at the Palace of the paramount ruler of lbeno Local Government Area, of Akwa lbom State, Owong Effiong Bassey Archianga after the inspection of the Mkpanak -lbeno Skill Acquisition Centre.
3) Foreign reserves hit $38.3b
After months of steady decline, the foreign exchange (forex) reserves gained $23.7 million last week closing at $38.3 billion.
The six basis points uptick in external reserves on January 15 came after months of declines, a report by Afrinvest West Africa Limited, an investment and research firm said.
Another Economic Report by Financial Derivatives Company Limited disclosed that last week’s recovery followed projected rise in quarterly oil revenue to around $15 billion at the new oil price of $68 to $69 per barrel.
This was caused by tensions from Iran response to the US killing of its military commander, Qassem Soleimani.
4) APC, PDP clash over Supreme Court verdict on Imo
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) drew the ire of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for describing the governors elected on the platform of the ruling party as products of manipulation.
In its reaction to the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) defence of the Supreme Court judgment which sacked Emeka Ihedioha as Imo State. Until his judicial ouster on Thursday, last week, Ihedioha was a PDP governor.
In a statement on Sunday by the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, the main opposition party said that the APC governors benefitted from huge electoral manipulations.
5) Atiku backs community, state, zonal policing
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has thrown his weight behind the setting up of community, state and zonal policing to complement federal policing.
In a statement on Sunday by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, the one-time vice president insisted that the primary responsibility of government at all levels is the protection of lives and property of the citizens as enshrined in the constitution.
Atiku’s statement came amidst controversies over the setting up of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), codenamed Operation Amotekun, by governors of the six states in the Southwest.
6) Food items, tuitions, others exempted from VAT
Some basic daily needs are exempted from the Value Added Tax (VAT), the Presidency said on Sunday.
President Muhammadu Buhari last week signed the Finance Bill. One of the components being the hike of VAT rate by 2.5 per cent.
Despite the increase, Nigeria’s VAT rate of 7.5 per cent remains the lowest in Africa and one of the lowest in the world.
The new VAT regime will go into effect on February 1.
In South Africa, the VAT rate is 15 per cent; Ghana (12.5 per cent); Kenya (16 per cent); Egypt (14 per cent); Rwanda (18 per cent) and Senegal 18 per cent).
7) 50 directors moved in massive FIRS shake up
No fewer than 50 directors of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) are affected in the massive shake up effected by Executive Chairman Muhammad Mani.
Mani replaced Mr. Babatunde Fowler as EC in December. He has been consolidating his hold on the tax agency “to be able to meet the N8.5trillion 2020 tax revenue target,” according to officials.
There is disquiet in the agency as a result of the movements, which also affected about 50 deputy directors, assistant directors and over 100 other employees have either been transferred who have their portfolios swapped.
8) Southwest governors won’t back down on Amotekun
Southwest governors insisted on Sunday that the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) Operation Amotekun has come to stay.
The security outfit, launched on January 9 to give cover to the zone, was declared illegal by the Federal Government.
Reiterating the position of the governors on Sunday, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said they would not “capitulate to blackmail either from within or outside the region but ready to pursue the Amotekun security scheme through all permissible political and legal means.”
9) FAAN, NCC to curb sale of pirated books at airports
Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) at the weekend agreed to develop and implement a national anti-piracy strategy.
The pact is meant to tackle the sale of pirated books, films, music and other copyright infringing materials in and around the nation’s airports.
FAAN Managing Director, Captain Rabiu Yadudu and NCC Director-General, Mr. John O. Asein, said both agencies agreed to work out the modalities for sustained proactive enforcement to protect the interests of copyright owners.
10) Fed Govt to tackle insurgency with technology
The Federal Government has said it will deploy technology in its fight against insurgency in the Northeast.
The government, through the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), said it would collaborate with the Yobe State University, Damaturu, to actualise the plan.
It said this would also create jobs for the youth, men and women in the areas to make it impossible for them to be recruited into criminal groups.
NASENI’s Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Prof Mohammed Haruna, who broke the news, said the agency could intervene in several areas, such as water projects or irrigation, by using small hydro-Kinetic turbine or solar energy produced by the agency to generate electricity.