The Niger State Government has signed a N7bn contract with four different firms for the purchase of 200 buses that will use compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel.
The signing of the contract took place at Government House on Tuesday.
The governor, in his remarks, said the purchase of the 200 buses was in fulfilment of his promise to provide free transportation for pupils and students in the state.
He said the fares for the 50-capacity buses will be subsidised for all civil servants.
He further explained that the first 100 buses will be used to serve commuters between Abuja and Suleja, 50 will be used in Minna, the state capital, and the remaining 50 will be spread across other local government areas.
The governor explained that an additional 300 buses will be purchased next year as part of the second phase of the scheme.
Describing the initiative as a way of reducing hardship faced by citizens due to fuel subsidy removal, Governor Bago said the gesture was also to bring about a revolution in the transportation system and reduce the rate of accidents on the roads.
He said that in the next four years, the state intends to purchase 1000 CNG buses and electric motorcycles to reduce the pollution caused by fuel-engine motorcycles.
While calling on the contractors to deliver the buses according to the specifications, the governor also called on investors to take advantage of the policy to establish CNG plants in the state.
The commissioner for transportation, Hajiya Hadiza Idris Kuta, said the buses will cost the state government about N7 billion.
Representative of Nationwide Unity Transport Limited, Mohammed Bawa, who spoke on behalf of other contractors, disclosed that the 200 high-capacity buses will be of great quality and will come with a warranty of two years, while availability for spare parts is guaranteed for the next 10 years.
He assured the governor that all contractors would stick to the contract agreement.
The four contracting firms were Topdesk International, Nationwide Unity Transport Limited, Afrobase Services Limited, and Musako Motors and Transportation Nigeria Limited.
The four companies were to provide fifty buses each, and the delivery is expected to be completed in 12 weeks.
Thirteen persons alleged to have taken part in the killing of the late Village Head of Lambata, Alhaji Mohammed Abdulsafur, have been arraigned before Suleja High Court Number Three.
They were earlier standing trial at Minna Senior Magistrate Court Number Seven, presided over by Hajiya Fati Kabir, who held a preliminary charge before they were properly arraigned before the Suleja High Court.
Twenty-nine of the defendants were charged to court, out of which 13 were physically present, and they took their plea before Justice Aisha Wodu Bawa of Suleja High Court Number Three, while 16 of the defendants were said to have been at large.
Also, two others were still in Minna correctional custody to be brought in on the next adjourned date for them to take their plea.
Those in court were Umar Ilyasu Sarki, Hamza Umar Sarki, Dauda Umar Sarki, Abdulkareem Dantani, Yusuf Chaska Zubairu Dabaka Donbitso, Jibrin Garba Dende, and Ibrahim Mohammed.
Others included Ilyasu Dantani, Yakubu Bisalla, Musa Mohammed, Adamu Yusuf, Yunusa Ibrahim Abdullahi Umaru, Musa Abubakar, Danladi Dashi, Mohammed Atiku, and Usman Habib.
The office of the Attorney General in the state Ministry of Justice arraigned the 13 defendants on five counts of charges, which included culpable homicide, disturbing public peace, inciting disturbance, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous means, and mischief by fire.
The five-count charges, according to Assistant Chief State Counsel Barrister Mohammed Galadima, are punishable under Section 221 of the penal code and the joint act read together under Section 79 of the penal code.
When the five-count charges were read by Justice Aisha Bawa Wodu and interpreted to them, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At this point, Barrister Ahmed Baba Shehu applied for their bail, stating that the bail application was in support of a 14-paragraph affidavit, urging the Court to grant the defendants bail and asuring that if granted bail, they would provide a reasonable surety that would stand for them and would abide by any of the bail conditions.
Objecting to the bail application, the assistant chief state counsel told the court that he had filed a counter affidavit to object to the bail application as moved by the defence counsel and requested the court adjourn the case to commence hearing into the matter.
Justice Aisha Bawa Wodu ordered their remand in correctional custody pending the ruling on the bail application, and then adjourned the case to October 17, 2023, for the commencement of the matter.