Lawyer fumes at ‘scandalous’ decision to drop Assange rape probe

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SIA undertaking review after reporting big drop in full year profit

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has established a “transformation office” to conduct a review of the business after reporting a near halving of full year net profit for fiscal 2017.

The airline group posted net profit for the 12 months to March 31 2017 of S$441.9 million (A$427.1 million), down 48.1 per cent from S$851.8 million in the prior corresponding period.

The full year result was hurt by a fourth quarter loss of S$126 million, compared with net profit of S$234 million a year earlier.

“Intense competition arising from excess capacity in major markets, alongside geopolitical and economic uncertainty, continue to exert pressure on yields,” SIA said in its full year results released on the Singapore stock exchange on Thursday evening.

Singapore Airlines, and others, have battled the rapid international expansion of Chinese airlines and the ongoing rise of Middle East carriers offering long-haul to long-haul connections through their hubs, which have bitten into previously lucrative markets. And in Asia, low-cost carriers (LCC) have won passengers happy to pay lower fares for a no-frills product on short- and medium-haul routes.

As part of efforts to adapt to this new environment, SIA established Scoot to capture a slice of the growling low-cost long-haul market, while it recently took full control of short-haul LCC Tigerair Singapore. The two budget carriers are merging to operate under the Scoot brand from the second half of 2017.

Moreover, Singapore Airlines is embarking on a significant overhaul of its fleet through orders for Airbus A350-900s, A380s, Boeing 787-10s and 777-9Xs, while its regional wing SilkAir is replacing A320s with new 737-800s and the 737 MAXes.

SIA said the many strategic initiatives being implemented to address the structural changes in the industry were now showing positive results.

To that end, SIA said it had established a wide-ranging review of the airline group’s network, fleet, product and service, as well as organisational structure and processes as part of efforts to build on the strategic initiatives currently being implemented and achieve long-term sustainable growth.

“The review is aimed at identifying new revenue-generation opportunities and reshaping the business into one that continues to deliver high-quality products and services, though with a significantly improved cost base and higher levels of efficiency,” SIA said.

SIA said full year revenue across the airline group was down 2.4 per cent to S$14.87 billion.

A yet-to-be-painted A350-900 for Singapore Airlines seen at Airbus's headquarters in Toulouse on May 17 2017. (Jordan Chong)

A yet-to-be-painted A350-900 for Singapore Airlines seen at Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse on May 17. (Jordan Chong)

Singapore Airlines was expected to take delivery of 13 aircraft in fiscal 2018 comprising 10 A350-900s and three A380s, with 12 of the 13 expected to be in service by the company’s end of financial year date of March 31 2018.

The airline confirmed it would return four of its A380s to lessors during fiscal 2018, which will be the first aircraft of the type to enter the second-hand market.

A further two A330-300s, two 777-200s and one 777-200ER were also slated for withdrawal.

“The addition of more modern, fuel-efficient aircraft with new-generation cabin products is enabling the Group to expand its network and enhance its competitiveness in both the full-service and low-cost market segments,” SIA said.

“With Scoot and Tiger Airways preparing to operate under the single Scoot brand, more synergies are expected within the budget segment, both operationally and strategically.”

Singapore Airlines, or what SIA calls the Parent Airline Company, suffered a 20.4 per cent drop in operating profit to S$386 million.

Load factors eased 0.6 of a percentage point to 79 per cent, while yields slipped 3.8 per cent and cost per available seat kilometre excluding fuel rose 3.6 per cent.

By contrast, the financial performance of SilkAir and Tigerair/Scoot improved in fiscal 2017.

SilkAir achieved an 11 per cent improvement in operating profit to S$101 million, while Budget Aviation Holdings (the umbrella company for Tigerair and Scoot) operating profit rose 60 per cent to S$67 million.

Source : Australian Aviation

Ifeanyi Ubah: NNPC challenges court’s jurisdiction to hear suit

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By Innocent Anaba

LAGOS — The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, yesterday, challenged the jurisdiction of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, to hear the fundamental rights suit by oil magnet and businessman, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, who is contesting his arrest and continued detention by the Department of State Service, DSS.

NNPC, through its counsel, is further contending that all the alleged infringements committed by the plaintiff took place in Abuja, not in Lagos, hence the court should decline jurisdiction on the matter and strike out the applicant’s application. DSS, through its lawyer, also urged the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s application on the ground that it lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on its part, argued that going through the affidavit filed by the applicant, there was nowhere it was alleged of any breach of the applicant’s rights by the commission. Meanwhile, counsel to Ubah, Mrs. Isioma Esom, while arguing her client’s motion on notice, urged the court to discountenance all the objections raised by the respondents. Esom told the court that the only reason why her client (Ubah) was being harassed by the first to sixth respondents is on the allegation that he is indebted to the NNPC, informing the court that the said debt arose from a contract, which she said should have nothing with criminal offence. Trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, after listened to the submissions of both parties, adjourned till May 25, 2017, for ruling.

Source : Vanguard

One dead, 17 rescued, scores trapped as building collapses in Lagos

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By Monsuru Olowoopejo, Olayinka Latona & Chigoziri Onuoha

LAGOS—A three-story building under construction at Richard Abimbola Street, Ilasamaja, Lagos, collapsed, yesterday, killing one and trapping over 20 construction workers.

Seventeen persons were rescued alive at about 7.15p.m., with rescue work still ongoing at press time. Most of the workers were reportedly foreigners. The lifeless body of one of the workers was brought out from the rubble at 7.55p.m. Work was reportedly ongoing, when the building suddenly caved in at about 2p.m. The impact of the collapse affected a nearby church, but there was no one in the church. The collapse was blamed on substandard building materials. Residents also stated that owner of the building, who is on the run, bought an existing building and decided to raise it to three floors on the existing foundation. Rescue When Vanguard arrived the scene, rescue workers, comprising Police, Red Cross, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA; National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA; Lagos State Ambulance Service, LASAMBUS; Fire Service, among others, were battling to rescue the trapped victims. Vanguard was informed that the first set of trapped victims were rescued from the debris by policemen from Isolo and Ilasa divisions, who arrived the scene before others, with the help of some residents. At about 4. 46p.m., 13 persons were rescued alive. Forty minutes later, one more worker was rescued alive, while another was rescued at about 6.10p.m. As rescue work was ongoing, one of those trapped under the debris was heard calling on rescue workers to come towards his side. His voice became faint with time. As at 7.30p.m., none could locate where he was. Some of the survivors were Sunday Gbose, 19; Chinonso Udeh, 37; Matthew Jimoh, 12; Monday Gadonu, 25; Benjamin Uchenna, 56; John Afolabi, 18; Dayo Fatau, 30; Ope Falolu and Agba Ogundele, 40. Speaking on behalf of the foreigners, Sunday Peter, a professional photographer, who disclosed to Vanguard that they came from Akuko community in Benin Republic, said: “I was in my office when my friend called to alert me that the building where my relatives were working had collapsed. “On my arrival, I discovered that only five out of the 15, who left home for the site, were so far rescued. We are hoping that others will be rescued alive from the rubble. One of those still trapped is Philip. He is from my community in Benin Republic.” Residents’ accounts A resident of the community, Adetutu Ojumu, disclosed that the building was completed less than three months after its owner bought it from its former owner. She disclosed that after demolition, the owner erected the hotel building on the old foundation to fast-track construction work. Another resident, who identified himself as Olawale, blamed the state government officials over the collapse. He said: “We discovered that the building had tilted few weeks ago before it was  roofed. But efforts to warn the owner proved abortive, as he instructed the artisans to intensify the construction works. Survivor’s story One of the survivors, Dayo Okanlawon, blamed the collapse on the weak foundation which he said could not take the three-storey building. His words: “I discovered the fault in the structure on my arrival last week. I raised objection, but the engineer did not yield to my warning.” Also, Chairman of the Community Development Committee, CDC, Alhaji Alani Rahmon, said: “Today (yesterday) at about 1:45p.m., we discovered that the building had tilted. Few minutes later, the building collapsed on a church beside it.” Rahmon lamented that they would not have allowed the contractor to commence construction had they envisaged that the structure would not stand the test of time, adding “this is because when the contractor approached us, he assured us that the building would be constructed with the best materials.” LASEMA, NEMA General Manager, LASEMA, Adesina Tiamiyu, said: “On getting here, we discovered that the building had collapsed while unknown number of labourers were working at different areas of the site. “Further investigation revealed that the building collapsed at around 2p.m. Some of those rescued are been treated by the agency’s medical team and LASAMBUS, while others have been rushed to the hospital.” Also speaking on the incident, South-West spokesman for NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, said excavation work was still ongoing at about 8p.m., adding that “so far 16 persons have been rescued alive, while one person was brought out dead.”

Source : Vanguard

Reps summon CBN gov, Magu, others over N12bn virtual currency scheme

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By Emmanuel Ovuakporie

ABUJA—THE House of Representatives, yesterday,  summoned Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Mr Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over the N12 billion virtual currency scheme involving 60,000 Nigerian investors.

Chairman, House Committee on Public Petition, Mr Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, who issued the directive at the end of the investigative hearing on the petition instituted by Philemon Gora, promoter of the virtual currency scheme,  also directed Mr Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police, to appear in person before the committee on  May 30, 2017. The petitioner alleged that Diamond Bank unlawfully closed the scheme’s account and withheld fund deposited in the account worth N12 billion. Gora, who assured the committee of paying all the depositors as soon as the account was unfrozen, lamented that he was informed that the bank account of the scheme had been frozen on the orders of EFCC and CBN, when he wanted to refund his clients. He said he took the matter to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, after he was arrested severally and suffered demoralisation. He said: “ Clients are hunting us because of the situation,” noting that one of his staff had been  sentenced to seven years jail term due to the crisis. In her response, Georgina Nwankwo, CBN Executive Director, who acknowledged receipt of the petition in February 2014, noted that the petitioner was advised to resolve the matter with his banker, adding that the apex bank can only intervene if the parties couldn’t resolve it amicably. She said: “When a matter is in court, we don’t interfere. According to the petition we got from him, the court asked them to go back and  see how the matter can be resolved. And since the matter was before the court,  we couldn’t do anything.  It’s unfortunate that the EFCC, the Police and Diamond Bank are not here to tell us what they have done with the judgment of the court.” On her part, Unoma Ndulue, Diamond Bank Team Legal, North, who argued that there was no money in the account with Diamond Bank, confirmed that the fund in question is a “virtual fund.  A Crypto currency that is traded online.”

Source : Vanguard

Saraki, S-West govs eulogise late Gen Adebayo

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By Ola Ajayi, Monsuru Olowoopejo & Adeola Badru Ibadan—Senate President Bukola Saraki and governors from the South West Zone yesterday, converged on Ibadan to pay their last respects to the late Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo.

The  corpse of Adebayo, a former Military Governor of the Old Western Region, was received at the Government House Arcade at 2.20 pm. The corpse was received by Maj.-Gen. Martins Abraham, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 2 Division, Nigeria Army, and governors from the South West Zone led by the host governor, Abiola Ajimobi. The late Adebayo, who died on March 8, in Lagos, at 89 years, was military governor between 1966 and 1971. The corpse was later moved to the House of Chiefs, Parliament Building, for the lying-in-state ceremony. Paying tributes to the late Adebayo, the senate president described the deceased as one of those who worked to ensure the sustainability of the nation’s unity. Saraki, who also commended governors in the South West Zone for giving a befitting burial to Adebayo, condoled with the family of the deceased. He urged the younger generations in leadership positions to sustain the legacy of peace and unity which Adebayo promoted. Ajimobi, who spoke on behalf of the governors in the zone, described the late general as a fine gentleman and a shining example to younger generations. He pointed out that although Adebayo’s career spanned about three decades, he was never linked to corrupt practices. The governor described Adebayo’s exit as a monumental loss to the Yoruba nation and the country as a whole. Earlier in his address of welcome, Alhaji Olalekan Alli, the Secretary to the Oyo State Government, said the event was for a painful loss and celebration of a fallen patriarch. Alli said that the occasion availed all the opportunity to celebrate a former governor, worthy leader, elder statesman and respectable personality. Among the governors present at the occasion were Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), while Ekiti and Ogun were represented by their deputy governors. Also in attendance were Adebayo’s widow, Modupe, the son of the deceased and former governor of Ekiti, Adeniyi , as well as former APC interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande. Adebayo, born in 1928 at Iyin Ekiti in Ekiti State, attended All Saints School, Iyin-Ekiti, for his primary education as well as Eko Boys High School and Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti. He was the first National General Staff Officer, Grade 2, Nigerian Army Headquarters, from 1961 to 1962 and the first indigenous Chief of Staff of the Nigerian Army from February, 1964 to November, 1965. Adebayo served as the Chairman, Organisation of African Unity Defence Planning Committee from 1963 to 1965 and military governor, Western Nigeria, from 1966 to 1971. He was the Commandant, Nigerian Defence Academy, from 1971 to 1972 and   finally retired from the Nigerian Army with the rank of Major-General in July, 1975. The late Adebayo participated actively in the resolution of the Biafran crisis and was later appointed Chairman, Committee on Reconciliation and Integration of the Igbo back into Nigeria by Gen. Yakubu Gowon, the then military Head of State.  The roll call Among people who thronged the venue of the well-attended programme included Chief Bisi Akande, former governor of Osun State, wife of the deceased, Chief Modupe Adeyinka Adebayo, Governors Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti were represented by Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, Deputy Governor of Ogun State and Mr. Kolapo Olusola, deputy governor of Ekiti State, General Oluwole Rotimi (retd), former Military Governor of old Western State, and General David Jemibewon (retd) Governor of old Oyo State. Others included Gen. Oladayo Popoola, former military governor of Oyo state, Admiral Akin Aduwo, former governor of old Oyo, Senator Cornelius Adebayo, Gen. A Olaoni, Mrs Grace Titi LaoyeTomori, deputy governor of Osun State, Gen Tuoyo, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, former governor of Oyo State, Prof Ladipo Akinkugbe, former governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, deputy governor of Oyo, Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo, Olubadan in council led by High Chief Olakulehin, and several others.  At Lagos: Ambode, Amaechi, Daniel, others call for unity Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, among other prominent citizens have stressed the need for Nigerians to unite for national development. They made the remarks yesterday, at a Commendation Service in honour of General  Adebayo, held at Archbishop Vinning Memorial Church Cathedral, Ikeja as part of events lined- up for the final burial ceremony of the deceased. Other dignitaries in attendance were; Former Cross Rivers State Governor, Donald Duke, National Chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, oil mogul, Femi Otedola, former military administrators, Afenifere chieftains and others. Ambode in his address, described the late Adebayo as an elder statesman who worked tirelessly for the progress of the Yoruba nation and unity of the country and urged Nigerians to unite for national development. He showered encomium on the deceased, saying he was like a father to him whom he had a lot of respect for owing to the virtues and legacies he left behind. Earlier in his sermon, Bishop Diocese of Lagos West, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Rt. Revd. James Olusola Odedeji said in the history of Nigeria, the late Adebayo would be remembered for hard work, integrity, family virtues, generosity and selflessness in the discharge of duties, among other virtues.

Source : Vanguard

Senate probes alleged lopsided recruitment in DSS -Update

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By Henry Umoru

ABUJA — THE Senate, yesterday, commenced the process of carrying out a holistic investigation into the alleged lopsided recruitment recently carried out by the Department of State Services, DSS. Senate chamber The Senate has mandated its Committee on Federal Character and Inter- Governmental Affairs to as a matter of urgency, probe the matter. The decision of the Senate followed a point of Order 43 by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter- Governmental Affairs, Senator Tijani Kaura (APC, Zamfara North), who informed the senate that his committee has been inundated with petitions, adding that it was prepared to open a thorough investigation into the matter. He said that his committee based on petitions received from concerned Nigerians on recent recruitment carried out by DSS, resolved to probe the exercise considered to be highly lopsided in favour of a particular state and section of the country. According to him, a total of 479 candidates were recruited into the DSS, out of this number, Katsina took a “lion share” of 51 slots more than those recruited from the South East. According to the Senate, probing the alleged lopsided recruitment by the DSS and taking needed steps thereafter, will go a long way in restoring the confidence of Nigerians on the principles of federal character required for such exercise on the basis of equity, justice and fairness. In his remarks, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki who gave the Senate Committee the go ahead with the probe and update the Senate with its findings, said, “Your committee should please go ahead with the planned investigation on the alleged lopsided recruitment in DSS to right whatever wrongs that must have been committed in the general interest of all Nigerians.”

Source : Vanguard

Presidential assent possible in three days if…, says Ita Enang

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By Levinus Nwabughiogu

ABUJA-Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday formally received the 2017 budget passed by the National Assembly last week.

The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Mr. Ita Enang in a closed door session presented the document to Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The budget first presented in December 2016 before the two chambers of the national assembly by the President had an estimate of N7.28 trillion but was raised to N7.44 trillion by the federal lawmakers. Details of the budget showed that N434.4 billion was appropriated for statutory transfers to the National Judicial Council (N100 billion); Niger Delta Development Commission (N64.02 billion); Universal Basic Education (N95.2 billion); National Assembly (N125 billion); Public Complaints Commission (N4 billion); INEC (N45 billion); and National Human Rights Commission (N1.2 billion). In a tweet, the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande said that the Appropriation Bill would be subjected to consideration. “2017 Budget-Appropraitions Bill now officially received in the Acting President’s office & undergoing very prompt and diligent considerations”, he tweeted. Speaking to State House correspondents delivering the bill, Ita Enang gave indications that a presidential assent was possible within two or three days if the standard operation processes are completed instead of waiting for the statutory 30 days. “The budget as passed by the National Assembly has just been transmitted to the Acting President. I just delivered it. Let me use this opportunity to clarify an issue. The Acting President has the power to assent to the budget and he will assent to it when the processes are completed. “The Acting President has the power to assent to the budget. In February, he assented to 7 or 8 bills. Those that he didn’t agree with, he wrote the Senate and House of Representatives that he had withheld his assent from them. He has the power of the president to assent to it. “But the assent to the Appropriation Bill will be after the completion of the standard operation process. The bill has 30 days within which it will be assented to but the process can be completed within two or three days. “So, it is not possible to say it will be assented to in so, so and so day or in two or three days. It’s upon the completion of the process that it will be assented to by the president and the president here now is the acting president”, Enang said.

Source : Vanguard