By Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onu, on Friday, said federal government through the National Institute for Chemical Technology, Zaria in Kaduna State, an agency under the ministry had developed a home grown solution to the ravaging tomato pest tuta absoluta, otherwise known as tomatoe ‘Ebola’
The disease, the minister stated had ravaged hundreds of hectares of tomatoes farms resulting in dire scarcity of the farm product and thereby skyrocketing the prices of tomatoes in the market.
Onu made the disclosure while playing host to the Director General of the institute, Prof. Bugaje, who came to brief the minister about the development at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.
The minister said: “Very recently the nation woke up to hear that a pest ravaged our tomato farms in many parts of the country and the nation sustained a lot of loses. As a result of tomato factories were unable to get enough supply of tomatoes and had to shut down.
“Fortunately an agency of the ministry has developed a pesticide agent that is very effective against this new tomato pest called tuta-absoluta.”
While expressing confidence that the pesticide would eradicate the tomato disease, he added: “The pest ravaging tomato farm is of great concern to the nation, and this had led to an agency of the ministry to develop a pesticide agent which is very effective against the new tomato pest.
According to him, the research institute in Zaria had been working on the disease using locally available material to develop the pesticide agent, which he said was very effective in combating the pest.
Onu said: “Now there is a factory producing this very agent that is very effective, so there is no reason for us to go outside when we have the solution in the country.
“We should even let the world know the solution is coming from Nigeria, and should there be any outbreak anywhere in the world, they can come to ,Nigeria for a solution”
He said the ministry would get in touch with the ministry of agriculture on urgent need to get farmers across the country to begin to apply the solution to the disease for food security sake.
He urged parents to allow their children study in schools, adding that N19.7bn Fraud: Court adjourns arraignment of ex-JTF Commander, Atewe, Akpolobokemi, others.
The arraignment of Former Commander of Joint Task Force (JTF), Major General, Emmanuel Atewe and a former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime and Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi, over alleged N19. 7 billion fraud before a Lagos Federal High Court, has been adjourned till June 3.
The adjournment was at the instance of the first accused person, Dr. Akpolobokemi, who objected to the reading of the 11 counts charge on the premises that he was never served with the charge and proof of evidence.
Akpolobokemi, Major General Atewe, alongside Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga, are charged before Justice Saliu Saidu’s Court on 11 counts charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud, stealing and fraudulent conversation of the sum of N19. 744, 041, 556 billion, to their personal use.
At the resumed proceedings today, Akpolobokemi informed the court that he was not aware of the arraignment before the court today.
Akpolobokemi whom the trial judge described as ‘notorious defendant’, due to multiple criminal charges hanging on his neck, said he was just coming from the hospital to attend his trial in another criminal charge before Justice Buba, he was not aware of the new charge.
He further informed the court that neither his lawyer nor himself were briefed about yesterday’s arraignment.
However, in his response, the EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo, informed the court that the accused person had never made himself available for the Commission since the last adjourned date at Justice Buba’s court.
Oyedepo also informed the court the charge sheet and proof of evidence had been served on the accused lawyer’s firm, Dr. Joseph Nwobike & Co., which was received by one of the lawyers in the firm.
However, upon the argument put up by the former NIMASA DG, the court adjourned the arraignment of the four accused persons till June 3, when all of the accused would have been properly served with the charge sheet and proof of evidence.
The anti-graft agency in a charge, alleged that the former JTF Commander and other three accused persons, had between 2014 and 2015, in Lagos, used six companies, namely: Jagan Trading Company Limited, Al-Nald Limited, Jagan Limited, De-Newlink integrated Services Limited, Paper Warehouse Limited, and Jagan Global Services Limited, to commit the alleged acts.
Count one of the charge reads; “that Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga, sometimes in 2014, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Court with intent to defraud conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: Conversion of the sum of N 8, 537,586,798.58 (Eight Billion, Five Hundred and Thirty Seven Million, Five Hundred and Eighty Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety Eight Naira, Fifty Eight Kobo), property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
While the count eleven of the change reads; “that you, Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga, between the 5th day of September, 2014 and 22nd May,2015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Court, with intent to defraud stole by fraudulently converting to your own use the sum of N1,147,723,362.42 (One Billion, One Hundred and Forty Seven Million, Seven Hundred and Twenty Three Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty Two Naira, Forty Two Kobo), through Jagan Trading Company Ltd, property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
The alleged offences are contrary to and punishable under sections 18(a), 15(1), 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act, and Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.