Official death toll of the Sunday suicide attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka has soared to 290 with another 500 injured.
Most of the dead are said to be Sri Lankan nationals, but 31 people from other countries are believed to have been killed in the unfortunate incident.
No-one has admitted carrying out the bombings, but the Sri Lankan government has blamed a local jihadist group known as the National Thowheed Jamath which it said had the support of an “international network”.
According to the BBC, 24 people have been arrested by police in a series of raids.
Another blast on Monday also occurred near a church in the capital, Colombo, as security forces tried to defuse explosives inside a vehicle used by the attackers.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been reported to have complained that authorities were “aware of information” of possible attacks but that the intelligence was not acted upon.
World leaders have been expressing outrage at the deadly attacks and, at the same time, paying tributes to the victims.
US President Donald Trump called Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday to express condolences while the Prime Minister reportedly appreciated the president’s concern and updated him on the progress of the investigation into the attacks.
Mr Trump was also reported to have pledged his country’s support to Sri Lanka in bringing the perpetrators to justice, and the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the fight against global terrorism.
Other world leaders, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine, have also been expressing condolences to the people of Sri Lanka and other affected nations in the sad event.
The The Nigerian Communications Commission has declared that registration of 95.7 million invalid subscribers are fuelling crimes like kidnapping in the country.
According to the Commission, a total of 151,449,837 registration data of subscribers have been processed, with only 55,749,652 records valid, making 63.2 per cent of the total records invalid based on invalid face capturing and fingerprints, since the SIM registration exercise started in 2011.
The Commission warned that it would no longer be business as usual for perpetrators of fraudulently registered Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards as it will henceforth prosecute those indulging in the illegal activity for felony with a 25-year imprisonment as prescribed by law.
It stated that, once an agent engaging in pre-registered SIM cards is arrested, the culpability in such a case will cascade to other players in the SIM registration value chain, including the super agents, the Heads of Marketing of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and possibly the chief executives of licensees who illegally benefit from such illegal SIM registration activities to meet their marketing targets.
This was disclosed by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management of NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare, who stated this during the South South regional sensitisation workshop on the dangers of fraudulently activated SIM cards organised by the commission in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
He explained that aside several sanctions provided in the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations 2011 for improperly registered SIM cards, penalty for violation, imposition of N1m on a person found to be dealing with subscriber information in a manner inconsistent with the regulations, arrest and prosecution, among others, which the commission had been enforcing, the NCC “will begin to be placing national security and national interest against anybody found culpable in fraudulently registered SIM cards in the telecoms industry.”
The international oil benchmark, Brent Crude, on Monday, increased by $2.28 to $74.25 per barrel to attain its highest level since late October 2018.
This is coming after the United States President, Donald Trump, announced the decision to end waivers that allowed some countries to buy crude oil from Iran without facing US sanctions.
In 2019 alone, the Brent, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, has risen by about 40 per cent, thanks to production cuts by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
This development is expected to boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves, which have been increasing in recent months.
As of April 17, the reserves rose from $42.296bn on February 28 to $44.736bn.
Meanwhile, the 2019 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari had benchmarked oil price at $60 per barrel with a targeted daily production of 2.3 million barrels.
The Zimbabwean Government on Tuesday paid tribute to Chinese companies that are assisting in rehabilitating infrastructure that was damaged by Cyclone Idai in the Eastern part of the country in March.
Addressing a media briefing Tuesday, information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said a total of six Chinese companies were using their own funds to rebuild infrastructure in the affected areas and would be reimbursed by the Chinese government.
She said the firms were involved in the rehabilitation of damaged roads, dams, boreholes, power infrastructure, provision of mobile hospitals and construction of houses and communication networks.
She said as relief and reconstruction efforts continued in the two affected districts of Chimanimani and Chipinge, the government was also forging ahead with its cholera vaccination programme where about 71.6 per cent of the targeted population has been vaccinated.
Over 1,500 people displaced by the cyclone had also been sheltered and were receiving assistance at seven sites set up in the two districts, the minister said.
The cyclone left a trail of destruction and death in the eastern part of the country and has killed over 300 people while hundreds are still missing.
The chief executive officer of Galaxy Transportation and Construction Services Limited, Babagana Dalori, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly defrauding Nigerians through a ponzi scheme.
In a statement, Tony Orilade, EFCC spokesman, said 27,400 Nigerians lost N7 billion through fake promises of high returns on their investment in Dalori’s companies
According to the commission, Dalori had initially paid investors 200 per cent interest on their deposits in his companies.
It was also said that the suspect later reduced the interest to 135 per cent “before the scheme crashed in 2018.”
“Dalori, who is currently undergoing interrogation in the Commission, had incorporated the firm in 2012 with one tricycle (Keke NAPEP), which through pool investments by members of the public later boasted of 50 tricycles,” the statement read.
“The entrepreneur later diversified into other business ventures while promising mouth-watering returns to investors.
“To suck as many unsuspecting victims into his ponzi net, Dalori engaged in massive advertisements on radio and television, including a production of a movie by A-list Nollywood actors, which aimed at convincing members of the public to invest in his companies.”
The anti-graft said a victim lamented the frustrations of unsuspecting investors who can no longer get their funds back.
According to the victim, “at the moment, he has used the investors money to incorporate different entities without getting their consent. He now has Galaxy Global Energy Concept Ltd, Galaxy Miners Concept Ltd, Galaxy Global Farms, Galaxy Computers, Galaxy Block Making Factory, Galaxy Hospital and Galaxy Hotel.”
The commission accused Dalori of committing a criminal act, saying all bank accounts belonging to his company have since been frozen.
A fire outbreak at Aiteos Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited, has driven down the volume of crude oil export by Nigeria.
The fire outbreak forced Aiteo to declare a force majeure on Nembe Creek Trunk Line.
The NCTL, a major crude oil transportation channel used for export, evacuates crude to the Bonny Crude Oil Terminal. It is 100 kilometres long and has a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day at Nembe Creek.
Force majeure is a legal clause that allows companies to cancel or delay agreed deliveries due to unforeseen circumstances.
“We have been informed of a fire outbreak by our surveillance team comprising the JTF, FSS around NCTL Right of Way near Awoba today, April 21, 2019.
“Our Operations Emergency Response team was immediately activated and following its urgent intervention and containment action, we are constrained to shut in injection as well as other related operations into the NCTL. In accordance with standard procedure, we requested the other injectors to do such”, Aiteo said on Sunday in a statement.
The Nigerian Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has assured that Nigeria’s borrowing still remains healthy at 19 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); which is low compared to Ghana, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt and Angola.
In a statement, her Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr. Paul Ella Abechi, also said the minister reiterated the Federal Government’s promise that fuel subsidy would not be removed at this time.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had advised Nigeria at the just concluded Spring Meetings in Washington DC, USA, to end the subsidy regime and free up more resources for educational projects.
She said, “We are still at 19 per cent to GDP; our borrowing is still low. What is allowed by our Fiscal Responsibility Act is the maximum of 25 per cent of our GDP compared to other countries like Ghana, Egypt, South Africa, Angola and Brazil, and we are the lowest in terms of borrowing.”
The minister noted that subsidy was no longer paid to petroleum marketers as “NNPC is the sole importer of petroleum products, thus deducts costs of operations before remitting the surpluses to the government.
“It is more cost-effective, it is cheaper and what is being done now is easier to monitor what transpired,” she added.
On challenges in revenue generation, she said, “What we have is revenue problem, and when revenue performs at the aggregate rate of 55 per cent, it hinders the ability to operate in our budget. So it hinders our ability to service all categories of expenditure, including salaries, allowances, capitals, as well as debts.”
Meanwhile, she assured that the ministry was not resting on its oars in regards to boosting the nation’s revenue.
The minister also maintained that there was no intention of subsidy removal as reported in some sections of the media as government had not come up with any plan in that direction.