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Everything you need to know about Florida law restricting social media access for children

Everything you need to know about Florida law restricting social media access for children

At a time when US federal government is pushing for a ban on TikTok, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a law restricting children's access to social media. The law will come into effect on January 1, 2025.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday signed into law a bill restricting social media access for minors, as concerns grow over the negative effects such platforms are having on teens in the United States.

The signing came barely two weeks after federal lawmakers in the House and Senate passed a bill that could see the Chinese-owned video platform TikTok banned in the US.

DeSantis on Monday said his administration is "trying to help parents navigate this very difficult terrain that we have now with raising kids."
What we know so far

The law, which will go into effect on January 1, 2025, will bar Florida children 13 and under from having social media accounts, and 14- and 15-year-olds will need parental consent to use them.

"Governor Ron DeSantis signs HB3 to protect children from the harms of social media," the Florida Representative wrote on his official X account, formerly Twitter.

Monday's bill was a watered down version of one previously put forth by Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Paul Renner that would have banned all children under 16 from social media.

The new version of the bill also dropped wording that detailed exactly how platforms would have to verify a user's age. Though most social media platforms require users to be 13 or older, they do little in terms of enforcement.

The new law does not target any one company but is aimed at restricting access to platforms that use "addictive" features such as "likes," push notifications, auto-play videos and those that encourage "infinite scrolling."

According to Speaker Renner, social media is fraught with risks from traffickers and pedophiles. He also claimed "social media platforms have caused a devastating effect in the mental well being of our children."

"Our bill is focused on addiction," said Renner. "Unlike an adult who can make an adult decision… a child, in their brain development, doesn’t have the ability to know they are being sucked into these addictive technologies, and to see the harm and step away from it."
Child protection vs. free speech: battle lines drawn

The law has sparked concern among those who fear it sets a precedent for restricting free speech online.

At the same time, there has also been growing concern across the country about the effects of social media on child and teen development. While proponents claim the social media ban gives parents oversight in the matter, others say the government should stay out of such issues altogether.

Renner said he expects social media companies will, "sue the second after this is signed. But you know what? We're going to beat them. We're going to beat them and we're never, ever going to stop."

DeSantis, former Republican presidential candidate and a combative "culture warrior," has seen similarly ambitious legislation overturned before. Just recently, for instance, a majority Republican appeals court struck down his signature 2022 "Stop Woke Act" for violating free speech rights.

Those opposing the new law, among them giant tech companies like Meta, say it not only violates free speech rights, it also strips away parental authority — something DeSantis and fellow Republicans claim to champion.

"This bill goes too far in taking away parents' rights," Democratic Representative Anna Eskamani said in a statement Monday. "Instead of banning social media access, it would be better to ensure improved parental oversight tools and improved access to data to stop bad actors — alongside major investments in Florida's mental health systems and programs."
Pep Guardiola sent clear 115 FFP Man City charges message as Jurgen Klopp Liverpool debate rages on

Pep Guardiola sent clear 115 FFP Man City charges message as Jurgen Klopp Liverpool debate rages on

Arsenal legend Ian Wright has given his verdict on the debate over who has been the better manager between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola - and says FFP charges could be the deciding factor.

Arsenal legend Ian Wright has shared his thoughts on the ongoing debate about who is the better manager: Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola. The pundit also believes the ongoing charges hanging over Man City could end up being a deciding factor.

The rivalry between Klopp's Liverpool and Guardiola's Man City has led to several head-to-head battles in the Premier League title races. In the past five seasons, Liverpool and Man City have been the top two teams three times.

On Sunday, Liverpool and Man City drew 1-1 at Anfield in the Premier League. The two clubs are only one point apart with 10 games left, setting the stage for another title race, with Arsenal also in contention.

Wright was a guest on Sky Sports Monday Night Football alongside Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher. He was asked to choose who he thought was the better manager between Klopp and Guardiola.

Wright suggested that Klopp might deserve the title. He also mentioned how the 115 charges currently against Man City from the Premier League could affect how the rivalry between Klopp and Guardiola is perceived.

"I think when you look at the trophy cabinet that Pep [Guardiola] has done very well, but then you look at what Klopp has done to try and catch Manchester City and the way he has built that team to get them there," said Wright.

"You have to say, yes, it's been easier for Pep with what he's done. But, Klopp has a lot of love, but it's there for everyone to see in respect to the amount of trophies."

"But, we can't speak about City without talking about the 115 charges around them. The one thing I would like more than anything else is for that to be gone so you can give the team and the manager the flowers they deserve because when you speak about them, it's like there is an elephant in the room."

"You want to speak about them, but this rivalry, it's not fair on the players and it's not fair on the club. The sooner that's gone [115 charges], the better for them. You can't look at what Klopp's done and the amount of trophies Guardiola has won and say that Guardiola has not done better."
Manchester United transfer news Rasmus Hojlund update as Real Madrid 'want' Man United target

Manchester United transfer news Rasmus Hojlund update as Real Madrid 'want' Man United target

All the very latest Man United news, views and transfer updates from the Manchester Evening News.

Manchester United will be targeting a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup when they face Liverpool at the quarter-final stage at Old Trafford this weekend. Before then, however, the transfer and manager news continues to be a real talking point.

United reached the FA Cup Final last year, only to lose to Manchester City at Wembley. They will be hoping to go one better this season and clinch their second piece of silverware of the Erik ten Hag era - and it may be crucial to the Dutchman saving his job.

A cluster of managers continue to be linked with the prospect of replacing Ten Hag in M16. The Dutchman's position is still understood to be uncertain after a patchy run of results in recent weeks. The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Gareth Southgate, Graham Potter and more have been linked with the post.

And with Sir Jim Ratcliffe coming in as co-owner, there will be a significant rebuild of the squad in the summer, and United continue to be linked with a number of players. It promises to be a busy few months.

Have your say on Ratcliffe's 'Wembley of the North' plan

Following the announcement of Sir Jim Ratcliffe's plan to build a 'Wembley of the North', a lot of debate and discussions have been had.

We're now inviting you to have your say on the new United co-owner's grand ambitions. You can do that by participating in the comment section below.
Jose Mourinho has already approved Man United candidate to replace Erik ten Hag

Jose Mourinho has already approved Man United candidate to replace Erik ten Hag

Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho told Gareth Southgate that he was capable of doing any job after managing his country, with the England boss now being linked with a move to Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho predicted that Gareth Southgate would be capable of doing "any job" in the future amid reports linking the England manager with Manchester United.

The Red Devils are currently managed by Erik ten Hag, however, the Dutchman's position is in jeopardy with United lagging some way behind the rest of the Premier League's elite. They are currently 11 points off fourth place and failure to qualify for the Champions League is likely to prove fatal for the former Ajax chief.

While new part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has yet to decide whether to make a managerial change, several top coaches have been linked with the job in recent weeks. Southgate is the latest to be touted as a target, according to a new report from ESPN.

The England manager is preparing for this summer's European Championships but his contract with The Football Association expires in December. And he revealed at the turn of the year that Mourinho - formerly of United - had told him he would be capable of doing any job after the experience of managing his country.

Southgate told Sky Sports: "I was 35 years old when I managed in the Premier League and we finished 12th and 13th. I knew nothing like what I know now. There isn’t a job in world football that would intimidate or daunt you, having lived this one.

"I remember talking to Jose (Mourinho) when he was at Man United and he said to me: 'When you've done the role you're in now you'll be able to do anything really'. I thought that was probably right, but seven years into it it's definitely right. I'm confident in this role and whatever might be in the future.

"Of course, I'm not going to be here for 20/30 years and I don't know what the future will be. I'm very calm about that, but I'm not worried about what that might be."
Gareth Southgate has been linked with Manchester United (
Image: Anadolu via Getty Images)

Although Ratcliffe has failed to publicly endorse Ten Hag since taking control of sporting operations at Old Trafford, the Manchester United chief insisted recently that he is not worried about his job.

He told reporters recently amid speculation: "I'm under contract for three seasons, so I don't care. I am in this process, I'm only focusing on the process, so I don't care what's going on around me.

"I have many talks with Sir Jim Ratcliffe, also with Sir Dave Brailsford and others in that group, so I know where we are talking about and I have a strong belief and I feel that they believe in me."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer calls out two Man United stars over dressing room leaks

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer calls out two Man United stars over dressing room leaks

Former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lifted the lid on his relationship with the players, admitting he struggled to keep everyone at the club happy

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has opened up about his time managing Manchester United, revealing there were players who would 'leak things because they were unhappy'.

Solskjaer spent three years in charge at Old Trafford and insists that he and his staff had a 'very good rapport with the players', but that United's squad was simply too big for him to keep every player happy.

"I felt we [coaching staff] had a very good rapport with the players, but there are always one or two in a squad that leak things because they are unhappy," Solskjaer said in an appearance on the Stick to Football podcast, in association with Sky Bet.

"Being a manager, you play a game Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, you sack about 14 players every game and the next morning you have to tell them they have another chance. There are only a certain amount of times you can say, 'I'll give you that game, you've got a chance'.

"In the end, they go sour, we had a big squad with too many players. If you have too many players, they get unhappy."

Solskjaer was sacked by United in 2021 and has not taken on another management job since, despite having received plenty of offers, with the 51-year-old stating he only wants to join a club that will allow him to "be myself".

He added: "I needed time out [after leaving Manchester United], and I have properly enjoyed it. Just prioritised myself, family – and I have had a few offers with [other clubs] and it's like, 'Nah, I'm not ready'.

Solskjaer was sacked by United in 2021 and has not taken a new job since (
Image: AFP via Getty Images)

"It's one of them, it's got to be somewhere where I can be myself, not like anyone dictating, 'You need to do this, you need to do this', because when you've been at United, you manage them, you learn a few things, and you want to do it your way next time.

"So, yeah, I've enjoyed myself. That's the thing, you think, 'I don't really need a job', but then if something pops up then yeah, why not? I don't think there's a magic wand [at Manchester United] as in, 'We've changed the owners'.

"Obviously, they've got their ways of working – the Glazers have still got their commercial – who knows how it's going to be in football with that side of it. Obviously Erik [ten Hag], I hope he's going to be successful."
Breaking News: Man United prepared to take huge loss on Antony and sell Brazilian star in summer after disastrous season with Erik ten Hag's side

Breaking News: Man United prepared to take huge loss on Antony and sell Brazilian star in summer after disastrous season with Erik ten Hag's side

The winger joined from Ajax in the summer of 2022, signing for an eye-watering sum of £86 million ($109m) and amid much fanfare. But manager Erik ten Hag, who spearheaded the approach having managed him in the Netherlands, is yet to get the best out of him. With no goals or assists in 20 league games Antony has gone down as one of the worst signings in Premier League history. Indeed, the Daily Mail reports that United may finally be willing to admit their mistake and let him go.

That decision will reportedly be made as part of a summer of change at the club, when minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe takes over footballing operations and drives the approach for the coming transfer window. The British billionaire is expected to scrutinise the effectiveness of United's squad - which was recently revealed to be the most expensive in football history - with Antony one of many to face the chopping block. The Mail's report even notes that the club would be prepared to lose over half the £86m fee paid in order to get him gone.

Antony's struggles at United have been clear to see in recent weeks. Even Ten Hag, who has remained one of his staunch defenders when the likes of Jadon Sancho and Facundo Pellistri were afforded no such leniency, has looked elswhere of late. The Brazilian has started just one of United's last eight matches, and has seen youngsters Omari Forson and Amad Diallo brought on ahead of him from the bench.

Ten Hag has pointed towards Antony's struggles with domestic abuse allegations - which he vehemently denies - being behind his poor form this season. But his dire record of nine goals in 70 matches across his entire United career makes for grim reading, and will likely lead to his eventual sale in the summer. Antony has been linked with a move to Saudi Arabia in the past.
Manchester United players asked for day off after defeat by Fulham

Manchester United players asked for day off after defeat by Fulham

A number of Manchester United ­players complained to coaching staff that they wanted Sunday off after the 2-1 defeat by Fulham on ­Satur­day despite Erik ten Hag’s squad ­usually going in after a match day for warm‑downs and video analysis.

The request caused surprise given the insipid display and it being part of the manager’s normal routine. It was rejected by staff, who reminded the players of their commitments, with Ten Hag thought to be unaware.

In November the Guardian revealed that a section of United’s players believed the team’s poor start was down to Ten Hag overworking the squad in pre-season. They complained of beginning the campaign feeling as tired as when they finished the previous one.

The defeat by Fulham ended a run of five consecutive wins, ­United’s best sequence of an uneven ­campaign. Ten Hag is under particular scrutiny ­following Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s 27.7% buy-in and with the side being sixth, eight points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa.

The Ineos owner is conducting a structural review. He has made significant moves by hiring Omar ­Berrada to become chief executive and ­moving to take Dan Ashworth from Newcastle to replace John ­Murtough to lead the football department. It is expected Murtough will be offered a new role and will consider whether to accept it.

Ten Hag claimed before the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday that Jamie Carragher was biased when assessing his management after the pundit’s comments on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football. Carragher claimed United’s defending at the start of the Fulham game was unlike any he had seen. Ten Hag said: “First of all, some analysts are very objective in their comments [and offer] very good advice; some are very ­subjective. Jamie Carragher from the first moment has criticised and now he wants to make his point.”

Ten Hag did agree, though, with Carragher. “Probably in the first half an hour, yeah, he had a point. Fulham in their midfield set up a little bit ­surprising and then we have to find the solutions.”

The Dutchman offered Antony support after preferring the 19‑year‑old Omari Forson to start on the right wing against Fulham.

“Antony: I backed him for a long time,” he said. “I know his abilities, great abilities. I know from the past he is unstoppable, no defender can stop him because he’s one of the quickest in the first 10 yards. I’m sure he will perform. He is resilient, he is a character and he will fight back and I back him and he now has to wait for his chance and once he is there he has to pick up [his form].”

Harry Maguire will miss the Forest game because of injury and Bruno Fernandes and Raphaël Varane are doubtful.
Group murdered man drinking coffee having pushed him into Manchester canal

Group murdered man drinking coffee having pushed him into Manchester canal

Mohammed Al-Enizi Hameed; Fares Hassan; Hussein Muhalhal; and Hussein Mouhelhel, 22; and two 16-year-old boys, all deny murder.

A group of men accused of murder stabbed a man and pushed him into a canal after a ‘call to arms’ in the Northern Quarter, a trial has heard.

Ahmed Alsharan, aged 33, had been drinking coffee with his brother and a friend beside the canal near to Dale Street when they were approached by another man, alleged to be Mohammed Al-Enizi Hameed.

He asked: “Who are you”, before a fight ensued, in which Mr Alsharan was stabbed to the heart and pushed into the canal, Minshull Street Crown Court. His friend, Sami Alhaj, was also stabbed during the incident, receiving wounds to his abdomen, armpit and lung.

Mr Alsharan climbed out of the canal before going back to Dale Street where he collapsed, it was said.

He received open heart surgery at the scene and was rushed to hospital, but sadly died after suffering from severe brain damage. A pathologist found he suffered a stab wound to his heart, the court heard.

Mr Al-Enizi Hameed, 36; Fares Hassan, 22; Hussein Muhalhal, 20; and Hussein Mouhelhel, 22; and two 16-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are on trial at Minshull Street Crown Court. They all deny murder, attempted murder and an alternate offence of wounding with intent.

A cordon was in place on Dale Street (Image: MEN)

Prosecuting, Sharon Beattie KC said that on August 16 last year, the six males separately made their way to the city centre. Mr Alsharan’s brother had a meeting with his solicitor in the city centre at about 5pm in relation to his immigration status, and was accompanied by Mr Alsharan and Mr Alhaj, the court heard. They first went to Cafe Nero on Piccadilly, where they were met by another male, it was said.

The court heard that six to seven months previously there had been a ‘fight’ which involved this male and Mr Alhaj had been arrested but denied any knowledge of the incident. “As part of the investigation he was prohibited from approaching the witnesses, but CCTV shows they were outside Cafe Nero without difficulties,” Ms Beattie said.

Analysis of the man’s phone later revealed that he contacted Mr Al-Enizi Hameed after meeting Mr Alsharan. Mr Alsharan, his brother, Mr Alhaj and the other man then walked to the canal basin where they intended to drink their coffee, the prosecutor said.

After getting to the canal, they were approached by Mr Al-Enizi Hameed and Mr Mouhelhel, before Mr Al-Enizi Hameed said: “Who are you”, to the group.

“Two of the group saw him put his hand in his pocket, Mr Alsharan’s brother was not sure why he did that or what he had in his hand,” Ms Beattie continued.

“Due to his behaviour and the way he presented himself to them, both Mr Alsharan and his brother took hold of him. His brother believes Mr Alsharan took hold of his shoulder or his arm, and he took hold of his other arm.

“He was worried about potential violence and was ready to defend himself. He said that Mr Al-Enizi Hameed said to the second man, Mr Mouhelhel, to join in the attack.”

The police scene in Manchester city centre on August 16 (Image: MEN)

It was alleged that Mr Al-Enizi Hameed then shouted in Arabic to the other defendants to come and ‘bring a knife’ with them. Prosecutors allege he shouted words to the effect of ‘let’s kill him’.

“As far as his brother was concerned, he was sure it was a ‘call to arms’,” Ms Beattie added.

The four other defendants then ‘ran’ to the scene, and a melee ensued, the court heard. During this Mr Alsharan was stabbed and pushed into the canal. It was alleged that he was stabbed by one of the youths and pushed into the canal by Mr Al-Enizi Hameed.

Mr Alhaj also said that Mr Al-Enizi Hameed was the one who ‘caused the problem’, as he had approached them first before calling out the other group to bring a knife, it was alleged.

Mr Alsharan’s brother described that it was Mr Muhalhal who stabbed Mr Alhaj after trying to kick him, before he was able to get away, jurors heard. He later saw his brother climb out of the canal before collapsing nearby.

Mr Alhaj described how they went to the canal to drink their coffee before they were approached by a man who he didn’t know but recognised from the area.

“He said he spoke to Ahmed Alsharan in Arabic but could tell he had a different accent. He said there was something about his body language and described him putting his hand in his pocket and it was concealed,” Ms Beattie said.

“He said his friend seemed surprised by this man, then ‘punches started flying’ between both men. He said he then heard him shout ‘come and fight’ to the others. He said a group ran towards them and he ran towards them to stop them from getting involved and urged them not to. He said he saw one of the youths with a flick knife.”

The Crown Court at Manchester Minshull Street (Image: ABNM Photography)

Mr Alhaj said he then jumped into the canal before swimming to the other side. He said he then saw Mr Mouhelhel pick up his rucksack which he left at the bench where they had been sitting earlier.

After Mr Alsharan collapsed, he was treated at the scene before he was rushed to hospital. He suffered from a severe brain injury which was ‘not compatible with survival’ and was taken off life support with permission from his family, the court heard.

Pathologist Dr Charles Wilson concluded that the brain damage suffered by Mr Alsharan was caused by a stab wound to his heart.

Mr Alhaj suffered from stab wounds to his armpit, abdomen and lungs, the prosecutor added.

Jurors were told that after the incident, Mr Al-Enizi Hameed went back to Crewe then to London with Mr Muhalhal, and was arrested in Crewe a week later. His house was searched and his mobile phone was recovered and was ‘ground down’ or ‘destroyed’, the court heard.

Mr Muhalhal was arrested on a flight bound for Jordan. Mr Mouhelhel was arrested at the scene and gave a statement in which he admitted he was present but denied the offences.

Mr Hassan gave a prepared statement in which he accepted his presence at the scene, but said he went to meet someone to get marijuana. He then said he heard screaming but didn’t see what happened, said he was not involved in the fight, it was said.

Mr Al-Enizi Hameed, of Brighton Grove, Rusholme; Mr Hassan, of Ribston Street, Hulme; Mr Muhalhal, of Lower Park Road, Longsight; and Mr Mouhelhel, of Wynnstay Grove, Fallowfield; and the two 16-year-old boys, all deny the charges.

Manchester United are prepared to offer €200m to land Vinicius Junior

Manchester United are prepared to offer €200m to land Vinicius Junior

Manchester United could be about to smash their own and the British transfer record with an outlandish offer for Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior.

News broke earlier this week that Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Kylian Mbappe to arrive in the summer window.

Despite technically being a free transfer, the BBC report that “he is set to sign a five-year deal with Real, earning 15m euros (£12.8m) a season, plus a 150m euro (£128m) signing-on bonus to be paid over five years, and he will keep a percentage of his image rights”.

Therefore, Los Blancos will probably need to raise cash for the deal and also have the problem of what to do with their talented Brazilian, Vinicius Junior, who occupies the same terrain on the pitch as a left sided attacker.

It has been reported numerous times in Spain that Madrid could seek to sell off the Brazil international to generate income and also free up space in their squad.

Le10Sport (via DefensaCentral), DefensaCentral, now assert that United could do the Spanish league leaders the biggest of favours.

The Spanish site relays that after the Mbappe deal, “there are many rumours about a possible important sale in Carlo Ancelotti’s squad. Obviously, not everyone fits in the attacking zone and there are those who put Rodrygo and even Vinicius in the focus” to be sold.

According to this media outlet, “Manchester United would be interested in acquiring the services of the ‘7’ Merengue. Furthermore, they point out, it would put €200 million on the table”.

Such reports seem the definition of pollyannaish for both Real Madrid and Manchester United.

In the current economic climate, it would be a massive surprise if any team in world football could reach a figure close to €200m, especially Manchester United.

The Red Devils have received new life with INEOS’ takeover being made official this week but that still does not mean the club has suddenly shed all its Financial Fair Play responsibilities.

Another major obstacle is that Vinicius, for all intents and purposes, is happy at Madrid and would probably be licking his lips at the prospect of playing alongside Mbappe and Jude Bellingham.

And a final problem with the potential deal would be it is a slap in the face of the ethos INEOS will reportedly try to create.

The petro-chemicals company want to sign young, British based players who see United as a step up in their career. The Brazil international will clearly not see this as the case, should he make the switch to England.

Therefore, Madrid will most likely need to find another dance partner to help bail them out of this potentially gigantic financial outlay they are about to undertake.
Nigeria Orders Telecoms to Block Binance, others access months after lifting ban

Nigeria Orders Telecoms to Block Binance, others access months after lifting ban

Complex factors, not us, influence FX rates in Nigeria, says Binance

Telecommunications firms yesterday effected the directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to block access to the websites of cryptocurrency firms.

A senior executive in one of the telecoms company confirmed this development to The Guardian yesternight. According to him, this was part of moves to curtail the sliding status of the naira, especially activities of speculators. The naira fell to about N1,800/$ yesterday.

Affected firms would include Binance, OctaFX, Coinbase and others. This is coming some months after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued a guideline to govern digital asset operators’ activities.

In December 2023, the CBN changed its stance on crypto assets and asked banks to disregard its February 2021 ban on crypto transactions.One of the affected firm, Binance had stated that its platform is not for currency pricing. The platform said this after users lamented their inability to buy dollars.

While noting its commitment to a market-driven, fraud-free, and manipulation-free platform for its users, Binance said, “Furthermore, as industry leaders, we are working hand in hand with local authorities, lawmakers, and regulators to ensure we act on non-compliance.”

Yesterday, the firm confirmed that it paused transactions to protect users from price suppression. Addressing rumours that currency speculation was thriving on its platform, the firm, said, “It is important to note that foreign exchange rates are influenced by various complex factors, which Binance has no influence on.

“However, we continue to actively engage with regulators, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to foster an open, transparent dialogue about managing the evolving landscape of cryptocurrency and financial markets.”

In September 2023, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) placed a disclaimer on Binance Nigeria Limited, saying the platform was “neither registered nor regulated by the Commission and its operations in Nigeria are therefore illegal.”
BREAKING NEWS: Senate rejects electricity tariff hike, probes N2tn subsidy

BREAKING NEWS: Senate rejects electricity tariff hike, probes N2tn subsidy

The Senate has kicked against plans by the Ministry of Power to approve the proposed hikes in electricity tariff by Distribution companies.

The Senate also rejected plans to remove electricity subsidy given the present hardships in the country.

The Senate then called on the government to step down the idea of an increase in electricity tariff.

The upper chamber also directed the committee on power to investigate the N2tn required for electricity subsidy payment, other debts owed in the sector, and the state of metering in the country.

The resolution of the Senate followed its consideration and approval of a motion moved by Senator Aminu Abbas (PDP, Adamawa Central) during plenary on the need to retain subsidy on electricity in the country for the foreseeable future.

Last week, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, disclosed at a press conference in Abuja that Nigeria was not likely to sustain the current electricity subsidy payment.

He explained that the indebtedness of the country’s power sector to electricity-generating companies (GenCos) and gas companies (GasCos) had risen to over N3tn.

He said, “Today, we owe a total of N1.3tn to the power generating companies, out of which 60 per cent is owed to gas suppliers. Today we have a legacy debt, before 2014, to the gas companies of $1.3bn; at today’s rate, that is close to N2tn.”

The spokesperson of the Senate, Yemi Adraamodu, as saying that it would not allow any hike in the price of electricity that might add to the woes of Nigerians.

Abbas in his lead debate said the “Senate notes with greatest dismay the plan to increase electricity tariff by the relevant statutory authority in gross disregard of increased economic challenges with attendant widespread poverty and high cost of living.”

He added, “The Senate may note that the Hon. Minister of Power was reported saying ‘the nation must begin to move towards a cost-effective tariff model, as the country is currently indebted to the tune of N1.3tn naira to generating companies (GenCos) and $1.3bn owed gas companies.

“According to him, over N2tn needed for subsidy, only N450 billion was budgeted this year. The same electricity businesses are collecting money from customers for services not rendered. When they have not added anything to the equipment, they inherited it from PHCN.

“Communities buy transformers to replace damaged ones in addition to overburden bills and arbitrary estimates for unmetered customers.”

Senator Abbas further stated, “Cognizance that in a country where a greater population live below the poverty level, with stagnant wages, rising inflation and depreciating currency, the prospect of higher electricity bill is unattainable.

“The issue of arbitrary energy charges on unmetered customers has become worrisome given the February 2024 report of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on the non-compliance with energy billing caps by DisCos and the penalty of N10.5bn imposed on the distribution companies that over-billed its unmetered customers.

“Aware that in 2018, the then Hon. Minister of Power, Works, and Housing directed the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to issue a regulation that facilitates signing of meter agreements between the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Ziglaks company and other meter asset providers to address the metering gaps in the power supply industry.”

He further noted, “Further aware that as far back in 2020 the president then, ordered the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to commence Mass pre-paid Metering to end estimated billing, and that Funds were released to that effect

“Disturbed that the multiple sanctions declared to be imposed by NERC against DISCOs for failing to comply with the scrapping of estimated bills for unmetered customers which include credit adjustments to overbilled unmetered customers for the period January – September, 2023 by the March 2024 billing cycle, publication of the list of credit adjustment beneficiaries in two national dailies, and deduction of N10,505,286,072 from the annual allowed revenues of the eleven DisCos during the next tariff review seemed to have been in futility given the continued violations by Discos.”

It would be recalled that this Senate via a motion called on the Federal Government and NERC not to increase tariff on electricity for customers and citizens of this country at this time.

Abbas further noted, “Regret that in addition to the high cost of living being experienced in the country, the unmetered customers who are owners of small and medium enterprises are adversely impacted by this level of exorbitant electricity charges and by implication have their businesses affected.

“While the prospect of the new Electricity Act, 2023 of ensuring accurate electricity charges will be negated if DisCos are not investigated to ascertain the current statistical data on unmetered customers, poor provision of electricity service despite exorbitant tariff and regulatory role of NERC which leaves much to be desired.”
SHOCKING: Lagos prophet drowns during Valentine’s Day beach hangout

SHOCKING: Lagos prophet drowns during Valentine’s Day beach hangout

A fun-seeking Lagos-based prophet, Oriyomi Remilekun, was said to have drowned during a beach hangout in the Ajah area of the state to celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day.

The deceased led some youths of his white garment church to the Avista Beach situated in the area on Saturday, February 17, to commemorate the Day.

A source privy to the incident told our correspondent that the picnic which lasted through the evening had ended when the whereabouts of the late Oriyomi became unknown.

The colleagues were said to have immediately launched a search for him but efforts to locate him proved abortive.

The source said, “The youths of the church parish at Gbagada were on a planned Valentine’s Day love feast at the Avista Beach Resort and they were 16 in number. They first lodged at a shortlet apartment very close to the resort where they had a party before later moving into the beach resort.

“Around 9pm, they prepared to leave and when they got to the car park, they discovered that Oriyomi was missing. When they asked his girlfriend, she said he gave her his phone, went in and promised to come back. They later went to the beach, searched for him and could not find him before they left.”

When contacted, the management of Avista Beach confirmed the incident but told our correspondent that the remains of Oriyomi were washed ashore on a separate beach located in the community on Monday.

Speaking on Tuesday, a member of the management team who craved not to be mentioned due to the sensitive nature of the incident said, “On Sunday afternoon, we saw a group of people with police officers from Ogombo Police Station who told us they came to report that someone was missing at the beach. They invited us to the station and we wrote our statement. After that, the police invited the remaining colleagues. About three hours after they were invited, we got a call that a body had been found at Baracuda Beach Resort. The guys did not lodge at the resort and the body was not found there. They started the search around 9pm and that time in Lagos is just like early morning. Why didn’t they raise the alarm but instead went home that night? This is a beach resort where everybody comes and goes home.”

People familiar with the late prophet have mourned him while reacting to social media posts announcing his demise.

A Facebook user, Erinle Abel, who expressed sadness over his death wrote, “Honestly, I have never met a prophet that is gifted without blemish, humble in spirit and character, very active in the vineyard and respectful to both the young and old. Our meeting was during our harvest week and since then he had been a blessing to me. It is so unfortunate that you have to leave untimely. May God rest your soul and bless your church with more truthful prophets like you.”

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said he was not aware of the incident. “I am not aware,” he said.