New social media network release: pclasp.com

https://www.pclasp.com

New social media network release: pclasp.com

Is a new social media network that connects to you and your friends and family around the world and your colleagues and it has all the features you needed as a social media network.

PAL CLASP was in in the year 2018 by innocent Cyril Okwuchukwu from imo state eastern part of Nigeria.

Pclasp is just like Facebook and Twitter and it has everything you need to promote your business and connect with your company and workers around the world.

The things that makes the pclasp.com more powerful like Facebook is that it blogging page where users can write there own blog and promote it, also it has some features like;

Blog

Poll

Ask Questions

Pages

Groups

News feed

With all this feature you can unlock the power of social media network.

You can feel free to sign up and invite your friends to join you and spread the good news.

Responsible govt shouldn’t joke with quality healthcare, education – Mimiko

focus more on its social-democratic ideological commitment to the people for the party to have a good outing at the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

He said the ZLP ideologically stood tall among other parties in the state because of its focus on quality healthcare and affordable education.

Mimiko stated this on Saturday during the inauguration of new executives of the party at the local government, senatorial and state levels held at the Party Secretariat, in Akure, the state capital.

According to Mimiko, quality healthcare and affordable education to all citizens should be the primary aim of any serious government, saying these were some of the many ideologies that set ZLP apart from other political parties.

He said, “It is the fact that we believe in the democratization of access to quality education. Education must be available to everybody in the society irrespective of your situation in life because we believe that education remains the ladder for those underprivileged in society to climb the rope of socio-economic development in society. Any government at any level should not deprive anybody to access to quality education.

“We believe as an article of faith that everybody in society must have access to decent healthcare, especially the most vulnerable in society, pregnant women and children and elderly ones. As the economy of the country and state grows giving unfettered healthcare to our people should not be negotiable. Even in the developed countries of the world, healthcare takes a primary position in discourse. In the UK, you dare not touch National Health Service.

“We must, as a party, remain committed to providing quality health care and quality education for all our people. Majority of our people are one sickness away from poverty. We also believe that everybody must be entitled to employment with a living wage.”

At the inauguration, a former federal lawmaker, Mr Joseph Akinlaja emerged the new state chairman of the party.

In his acceptance speech, Akinlaja expressed assurance that the party under his leadership would not derail in its social commitment to the people.

“Moving forward, yesterday is gone, today presents to us as a party and as a people new vista of opportunities to reunite because a tree cannot make a forest, the opportunity to re-access, to reach out and to relaunch into the political ecosystem of Ondo State and Nigeria at large,” he said.

Also, Akinlaja, who was a former leader in the Nigeria Labour Congress, lauded the initiative of the South-West governors on the creation of ‘Operation Amotekun’, noting that the move should be applauded by all instead of condemnation in some quarters.

He added “Irrespective of our political beliefs and religious persuasions, these governors deserve to be commended for their proactiveness, responsiveness, and ingenuity in handling the insecurity challenges ravaging the region.

“The initiative is timely and welcome. It will complement the efforts of conventional internal security agencies that appeared to have been incapacitated by the absence of local intelligence gathering architecture.The perceived opposition in some quarters to the novel and brilliant initiative is misplaced, diversionary, insensitive and a gross violation of the principle of federalism.”

Jihadist attack on Mali military camp leaves 19 dead

Nineteen members of the security forces died and five were wounded on Sunday in a major assault by suspected jihadists at a military camp in central Mali, the army said.

“The provisional toll is 19 dead, five wounded,” Malian Armed Forces said on Twitter.

A local lawmaker said all those killed at Sokolo military camp were gendarmes or paramilitary police officers.

“The terrorists arrived on motorcycles,” said the official, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

Sokolo resident Baba Gakou told AFP: “There were more than 100 attackers.

“They arrived at five in the morning. They cut off any withdrawal by the gendarmes.

“The firing stopped at seven am,” he said, adding that the assailants left with all the weapons and vehicles at the camp.

“They picked up all their dead. They did not touch anyone in the village,” he told AFP.

A local humanitarian source who managed to enter the camp after the suspected jihadists had left, described the scene as “complete chaos”.

“It looked like the attackers knew what they were doing,” the source said.

Sokolo is located in central Segou region where jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda are known to operate.

The armed forces tweet said troops were combing the area backed by a military aircraft following the assault.

Mali has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in the north in 2012 and has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives since.

The Bamako government announced Wednesday it would hold legislative elections in late March after repeated postponements prompted by insecurity and political infighting.

Holding the elections was a key recommendation from crisis talks in December aimed at exploring non-military solutions to the worsening violence.

Despite 4,500 French troops in the Sahel region, plus a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Mali, the conflict has engulfed the centre of the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Returning officer flees, as thugs invade INEC collation centre in Imo

There was panic at the Independent National Electoral Commission’s collation centre for the supplementary election in Orlu/Orsu/Oru West Federal Constituency of Imo State as political thugs invaded the centre and tore the result sheets.

The political thugs beat the intelligence of the security men at the entrance of the collation centre and made their way straight to the podium where the exercise was going on and disrupted the process.

Apart from tearing the result sheets into shreds, the political thugs, who did not reveal the identity of the political party they were working for, alleged that the process had been compromised.

While the agents of the various political party fled immediately, the Returning Officer ran immediately he realised that the thugs were not security men.

INEC’s spokesperson in the state, Emmanuel Opara, told The PUNCH that the electoral umpire was aware of the incident.

She, however, said that the commission was meeting to take a decision on the matter.

The police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, said that the command was also confirmed the incident.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party in a statement issued on Sunday by its state publicity secretary, Damian Opara, alleged that the political thugs were working for the All Progressives Congress.

The leading opposition party said that the thugs disrupted the process because its candidate was winning the election.

Borno, Yobe, Adamawa visit Japan for post-war lessons

It, therefore, urged the police to arrest and prosecute the political thugs.

The PDP urged INEC to go ahead and declare its candidate, Jerry Alagbaso, the winner of the election.

There was no reaction from the APC as of the time of filing this report.

An appeal court in Owerri had in November partially nullified the victory of Alagaboso and ordered a supplementary election in 18 polling units in the federal constituency.

The appeal court’s judgment was following an appeal brought before it by the APC candidate, Eddy Iheanacho.

The PDP candidate was first elected into the house of representatives in 2011.

Many Nigerians have not felt our impact – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

’Femi Asu

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said the government is far from touching the lives of many who need help in the country.

Osinbajo said in Lagos on Saturday night at the unveiling of Airtel Touching Lives Season 5 that though some Nigerians had benefitted from the social investment programmes of the government, yet the government was ” still very far from touching the majority of those who need help”.

He commended Airtel for its “wonderful acts of giving and caring,” saying, “Truly what separates humankind from all other creatures is the capacity for kindness.

“So, I want to thank Segun (Ogunsanya) and his team at Airtel for touching so many lives over the past five years. Listening to each story of the lives that have been touched this evening must remind us of the many others who need our help, our comfort and our kindness. The poor and the vulnerable will always need a voice.”

Osinbajo recalled that in 2014, he, Mr Wale Edun and Prof. Pat Utomi met to write portions of the manifesto for the All Progressives Congress.

He said they all agreed that a fundamental aspect of the party’s plans must be to create a social safety net for the people of the country.

The Vice President said, “We are feeding about 9.5 million children in 34 states now across Nigeria in all public schools. We are giving monthly cash to about a million households as part of our conditional cash transfer scheme.

“We have also engaged about 500,000 young men and women who had been unemployed for different periods of time under our N-Power Programme. But we are still very far from touching the majority of those who need help. It is clear that to do so, we need far more resources – to put far more resources behind that programme.”

He added, “This is why the work of socially-conscious organisations like Airtel is so vital – bridging the huge gap between what government can do and what is left to be done. So, as you celebrate the fifth year of this programme, we congratulate you and pray for all members of the Airtel team and their families that as you have shown such great kindness to so many, you will always find help and kindness.”

Coronavirus: Oil prices may plummet, says Goldman Sachs

The outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus in China could have a negative impact on crude oil demand, Goldman Sachs has said.

The Senior Commodity Strategist at Goldman Sachs, Damien Courvalin, said the global oil demand could potentially fall by 260,000 barrels per day, hitting the aviation sector the hardest, according to Offshore Technology.

He said, “Ultimately we expect jet fuel markets — including cracks, regrade and Asian differentials — to decline most if this outbreak persists given the likely decline in regional air travel.”

Analysts at London-based consultancy firm Energy Aspects said they did not expect the oil demand to fall significantly as the virus had not yet triggered the restrictions on travel and trade that were set in place during the 2002-2003 SARS crisis.

Energy Aspects said in a research note, “While the SARS outbreak was estimated to have impacted up to 0.26 mbpd of oil demand globally, according to anecdotal reports, we currently do not expect global oil demand to fall significantly as a result of the coronavirus.”

Voluntary trip cancellations are expected, said Energy Aspects, but as the spread of the coronavirus has been minimal outside of China, it should not impact significantly the global demand for transportation fuel.

“The World Health Organisation is currently hesitant to declare the coronavirus a public health emergency, meaning airline cancellations remain unlikely.”

Even though the Chinese government this time has taken a more efficient approach to the spread, the firm said if Chinese authorities decided to implement more aggressive measures to contain the outbreak, global oil demand could be more affected.

“In a worst-case scenario that assumes the outbreak spreads across the nation, we expect jet demand growth to slow to 20,000 bpd year-on-year after having grown by 75 thousand bpd year-on-year in H2 2019,” Energy Aspects said in its report.

Originating in Wuhan – the capital of China’s Hubei province with a population of more than 11 million people – the coronavirus has spread to other countries, including Japan, South Korea and the US.

According to the latest reports, 582 cases have been confirmed including 17 deaths, prompting Chinese authorities to impose a lockdown on Wuhan and some other cities.

Meeting friends excites me during trips — Gloria Akhigbe

Experience

How often do you travel?

I travel once in a while. I’m not really keen about leaving my comfort zone. There is nowhere like home.

What are the things you love to do when you travel?

What does one do when one travels? I like to rest, visit interesting places and also meet people. For instance, during my recent trip to South Africa, I went to Cape Town and had a great experience. I got involved in a lot of fun-filled activities such as sky diving.

Which country did you have your most memorable travel experience?

I had one of my most memorable travel experiences in the United States of America.

Can you tell us a bit about the people and the country?

The people in the US are very interesting. They are very accommodating and courteous. I really pray Nigeria can be as beautiful as that country. There are many beautiful things about the country, including constant electricity, high-rise buildings and mechanised roads.

In what ways are the people there different from Nigerians?

They are different in many ways and I can’t even begin to state them; but mostly in terms of courtesy, orderliness, calmness and neatness. These differentiate them from Nigerians.

Are there any similarities between them and Nigerians?

Perhaps, the fact that US citizens also live life to the fullest.

Did you try their food?

I’m not really a food person. I take more of fruits.

Where do you often stay when you travel?

I have a lot of friends. So most times, my friends host me.

Do you make friends anytime you travel?

Yes, I make lots of friends anytime I travel.

What do you think are some of the downsides of travelling as a Nigerian?

There so many downsides to travelling as a Nigerian. We are usually looked down on for instance. One is looked down upon at the point of entry. The immigration officers at the point of entry tend to be stricter and harsher because they believe most Nigerians overstay their visits in their countries.

What excites you the most about travelling?

The fact that I would be away from home and have the opportunity of trying other foods and meet new foreign friends.

Beauty queens are not just girls with fine faces— 43rd Miss Nigeria, Beauty Tukura

 

Childhoo

I was born in Port Harcourt, but my family moved to Lagos when I was two years old. I come from a family of six and I am the last child. We are Christians.

Education

I had my elementary and junior secondary education in Lagos. For my senior secondary education, I went to the American University of Nigeria Academy, in Yola (Adamawa State). I proceeded to study Law at the Afe Babalola University, Ado- Ekiti (Ekiti State). I have lived in the western and northern parts of the country because my father was a customs officer; so we often had to move. When I was four years old, I watched the Miss Nigeria pageant on TV and told my parents that I was going to be Miss Nigeria someday. So, you can say I had a dream but one never knows what the future holds. I thank God that the dream came true.

Pageants

I won my first pageant when I was in elementary school. I have also contested in two major pageants–Most Beautiful Girl Taraba 2015 which I won and reigned until 2017, and now I’m the 43rd Miss Nigeria.

43rd Miss Nigeria

Being the 43rd Miss Nigeria for me is a huge responsibility. There are a lot of youngsters looking up to me. The platform gives me an opportunity to promote my passion, one of which is advocacy for the girl child on all matters. And, to represent my country on all fronts and showcase her rich culture through my appearance and activities gladdens my heart.

One challenging aspect of competing in a beauty pageant is having to convince one’s family about its merits.

Opportunities

The platform has given me the opportunity to advocate and do a lot of community projects and those are things I have always wanted to do. I studied Law so I could protect the girl child with the Law and being Miss Nigeria gives me the platform to lend my voice to social issues affecting the girl child and her inclusiveness in the society.

Law

I still intend to practise Law.

Responsibilities

Before I became a beauty queen, I have always tried to live my best life– in school, my business and social activities. For me, it’s a lifestyle. I must add that I’m also thankful to the Miss Nigeria Organisation for enrolling me in a finishing school to further educate me on proper etiquette befitting a queen.

Misconceptions

I totally disagree with the opinion that beauty queens are just beautiful and not intellectually sound. Being a beauty queen goes beyond one’s physical appearance. For Miss Nigeria, the motto is ‘empowering women beyond beauty’. Beauty is one of the characteristics required but it’s more of being an intellectually sound person. How does one handle interviews if one isn’t sound? To be a beauty queen, one has to be a beauty with a purpose.

Challenges

One major challenge that beauty queens in Nigeria face is the stereotype that they had to use a connection, paid or slept with someone to win. That’s not true and it is very wrong because a lot of hard work goes into being a beauty queen. One has to prepare physically and mentally. Just like every other thing in life, there is a process to being a queen. One doesn’t just get it on a platter.

Beauty

Before and during the pageant, I maintained a good diet and tried to exercise as much as possible. A good skin care regimen is also a must.

Recognition

Beauty queens are not well recognised in Nigeria. A lot of people don’t understand their position and importance in society. Pageantries promote unity. Girls from different parts of the country come together to live in the same environment, interact and learn. A beauty queen is a peace and goodwill ambassador, and a role model, especially to young girls. So yes, beauty queens are not just girls with fine faces.

Projects

The Green Girl project has many areas under it, including education and empowerment, health, environmental sustainability and other areas. Being the current Miss Nigeria, I would be carrying out a lot of projects and activities in those areas and partnering with a lot of NGOs and companies.

Future

After my reign, I intend to continue my education. I haven’t got a Master and I still have to observe NYSC.

Memorable moment

My most memorable moment was when I was announced the 43rd Miss Nigeria. Oh, it was a lot of emotions. I realised a lot had changed for me.

Fears

One of my fears during the pageantry was having to compete with so many beautiful and intelligent young girls from different states in Nigeria. The camp was challenging, I must say.

Conduct

A reigning queen is expected to be humble, not proud.

Advice

To every young person out there like myself, it’s okay to have dreams and it’s fine if you don’t see the manifestation immediately or as soon as you expect. While you wait for the manifestation of your dreams, equip yourself and get ready. One way to do that is by being educated. Go to school, learn and make sure that every life decision you make is calculated towards helping you achieve your dreams.

Fitness

I try to eat a well-balanced diet, work out and drink lots of water.

Hobbies

I like to read, cook and travel.

Feminism

Yes, I’m a feminist.

Fashion

I am fashionable. Everyone has their own idea of fashion. One thing I maintain though is decency. My favourite fashion items are shoes.

Food

I am a ‘foodie’. Anyone who eats healthy is a foodie. One should just endeavour to eat the proper amount of food.

Admirers

It’s normal for people to be attracted to me; I don’t see it as pressure. For now, I’m focused on leaving a good legacy, not on being in a relationship. I’m sure that may happen after.

I’ve never been admitted to hospital for any ailment – UK-trained estate surveyor, 80

Eighty-year-old retired estate surveyor, Adekunle Afolabi, shares the story of his life with GBENGA ADENIJI

When were you born?

I was born at Osogbo, Osun State, on December 22, 1939 and my parents gave me many names on the eighth day after birth as it is customary to do in Yorubaland. But the one that stuck is Adekunle.

My father’s name was Pa Nathaniel Afolabi and mother’s name was Marian Afolabi. My father was a produce buyer and my mother was a petty trader, who produced eko (pap) at the time. That’s why we (children) were called ‘omo iya eleko’ (children of pap seller). My family compound at Osogbo where I was born is Ile Odeyemi.

How many siblings do you have?

When I was growing up, we were about seven.

Are you the first child?

I’m not the first or second child. If you say what my position was when I was growing up, I’ll say my position was third in the family. We have been reduced to two now. My elder brother who was born in 1926 died on August 24, 2016. I lost an older sister in 2007. She was 70 years old then. I lost two of my younger brothers on the same day – February 14, 2016.

Is the other surviving child a male or a female?

We are both males.

Can you recollect your growing up years in Osogbo?

I was withdrawn from All Saints School, Osogbo in December 1947 when my elder brother left Ibadan Grammar School; a Cambridge certificate holder. He got a job at Olu-Iwa College, Ogun State (now Adeola Odutola College); a new secondary school at the time as a tutor.

I was withdrawn from the school to go to Ijebu Ode. I lived with him while he was teaching at Olu-Iwa College. I was going to elementary school; Christ Apostolic School, Ijebu Ode. I was there during my impressionable age. I was there with him and I learnt a lot: I was exposed to a sort of enlightened life which was available at the time within an enlightened community like Ijebu Ode.

My outlook to life was changed dramatically when I lived with him in Ijebu Ode before he got admission in October 1952 into the University College Ibadan, which is now the University of Ibadan. Then I returned to Osogbo to continue my education at the All Saints School. I was in Standard Six in 1954 and took the First School Leaving Certificate examination.

I also applied to the Olu-Iwa College, Ijebu Ode for secondary education. I was given admission and started secondary school in 1955; precisely January 17, 1955. I left Ijebu Ode to join my elder brother at Ibadan. He was then a senior administrative officer with the Western Region, so I was able to secure an employment in the Ministry of Lands and Housing in Ibadan. I was appointed as a pupil inspector of lands, so that was where I decided to cut my teeth in the estate management profession.

Is that the career you had always wanted or fate brought it to you?

You know at the time, one just took up any job one got because in those days we were not given a thorough briefing as to the future professions we could dabble into. We just picked any job as a young school-leaver and tried to make the best out of it. We were being encouraged by expatriate land officers, including Nigerian land officers to take up correspondence with the College of Estate Management, London, United Kingdom.

We bought that idea and started reading, working and studying through correspondence at the same time until we were able to graduate after the final examination. I was able to graduate in 1976 after my final examination. The October exam result came out in December 1967. But I happened to do that in London because I was got a Western Region scholarship in 1966. I went to England in March 1967 and studied at the Bristol Technical College. But before the completion of two years, I was able to take the final exam in September of that same year, roughly six months of getting to the Bristol Technical College and I was able to pass the examination and get into the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

How many years did you spend in the UK?

I spent two years at the school and used the rest to take advantage of attachment with local government establishment and things like that. As a matter of fact, I worked briefly with the local Bristol Corporation and later served with the London Bureau of Barnes before I returned home on April 2, 1969. I was fortunate to have another British council sponsorship again for a master’s degree programme in 1973 at the University of Reading, England.

You returned to Nigeria in 1969 when the civil war (1967 to 1970) was on. What was your experience of the war?

The civil war was nearing the end then. I think in January 1970, the war ended.

Were you not apprehensive returning to home at the time the war was still on?

The tempo of the civil war had already decreased when I returned home on April 2, 1969. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s policy was already taking its toll on the Biafran government.

Were your parents still alive when you left for the United Kingdom?

I lost my father in 1962 and my mother died in 1993. I was in Nigeria then. I went abroad in 1967 and he died on July 21, 1962.

When you were travelling abroad, were you married?

No I wasn’t. I met my wife in 1969 when I returned to Nigeria. She happened to be a friend of my sister in the family compound and we got along well. It was when I returned home that I got to know her. By 1970, the relationship had become very strong.

Why didn’t you marry abroad?

I didn’t want to marry an English woman even though I had the opportunity. I had a close friend in Britain when I was there.

Why didn’t you want to marry an English woman?

When you’re in Britain or a civilised country, you must realise that they are well developed. The question of water scarcity, your tap running dry, no light, education and all sort of societal deficiencies doesn’t apply to them. When you pick an English or European woman for a wife, bringing her to Nigeria would be a terrible punishment for her. If you’re humane and sensitive to human feelings and don’t like people to suffer around you, you wouldn’t subject her to such a life.

In my own case, she wanted to follow me to Nigeria but I had to use deception which was not my normal behaviour to convince her not to follow me because if she had followed me, she would have suffered in Nigeria. If she had a child in Nigeria, can one put a child in a pram on the road and go shopping in any supermarket? The pram, the father, the baby and the wife would be crushed by a vehicle whereas you can push your child on a pram, wheel it on a pavement or zebra crossing to get into a supermarket abroad. When you get out of the supermarket, you would push the pram with the same ease as when you got in. You would get to your house effortlessly without any fear of motor accident or dust.

What attracted you to your wife?

She was gentle, articulate and brilliant. I wanted somebody like that so we would get along; so we got married and had children.

What was her job?

She was in the teaching profession.

Where is she now?

It was unfortunate that she died in 1998 leaving behind our four children.

Did you remarry?

I didn’t want to remarry at all. I wanted the children to grow up and get to the university level before having another woman.

Do you have another woman now?

I have a consult. Well in Yoruba terminology, we say wife but in actual fact, when you are cohabiting with a woman in a way like that and the relationship is cordial and you’re getting along with her fine, she’s your consult. This is because there’s no child between you and you don’t get married formally, whether in a traditional or legal way

How did you cope during the early years of losing your wife?

If anything comes, it is God’s wish. You have to cope because you’re not going to commit suicide. You must have a large heart to cope and then go into the realm of religion a little bit. When you come into the world, you have your destiny hanging on your neck and you’ll be battling with it from the day of your birth. That destiny is a written down script for you to follow by God. You don’t add or subtract anything but anything we do, we will be saying we are doing certain things whereas we are merely acting God’s script. God had destined that she would have to go.

What can you say about your kids?

I have two first cousins who grew under my roof. Their father died and I had to at a certain stage take them up for them to start their secondary education, technical education, higher education and they are my daughters because they are my uncle’s children from my mother’s side. They don’t know another father other than me. There’s no difference between them and my biological children so I will say I have six children.

All the arrangement for my 80th birthday was done by them. I don’t know how they contributed money. I just told them I wanted them to honour me with the celebration of my 80th birthday and that I would not add a kobo. I told them I celebrated my 70th birthday but I wanted them to do that for me to see how they would handle it. They agreed and they did it to my satisfaction. It was a fantastic celebration. I wish you were at the church service and the reception to witness it. I’m very happy. One of them is a retired senior officer from the National Assembly and her twin sister, Taye, is now a pastor.

Next to them is a male who lectures at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Dr. Adegoke Afolabi. Next to him is a female, who was a bank worker. The third child is a chartered accountant while the youngest graduated from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State. He lives in Germany. Their names in the order of my narration are; Taye and Kehinde, Goke, Bola, Shope and Gbenga.

How do you relax?

When I was younger, I used to do lots of sports with my good friend at the time, Mr Osunkunle. We would go to the Liberty Stadium to do lots of exercises and then return to the club house to relax. At the same time, I liked my library and was writing a lot.

Did you drink beer when you were younger?

Yes, I used to take beer and I was socialising heavily and at the same time, reading heavily. While socialising in the club house, I would be thinking of many things and upon returning to my car, I would jot down my things. Immediately I get home, I would go to my library and start to write.

At 80, your recollection of dates is superb. What do you think is responsible for that?

Maybe I like history a little bit and I got a distinction in History in the school certificate examination. I got C3 in other subjects.

When you lost your siblings, did you ever imagine you would get to this age?

Nobody knows what age they are going to live up to. But my philosophy is that one lives every moment at the mercy of God. In those days, I taught my wife how to handle pellet rifle whenever I travelled. I told her that if she was alone in the government quarters and someone came to harass her, she should be able to handle the pellet rifle by shooting in any direction and the person would run away.

I also told her what I wanted her to do if I travelled and died. She would say that I was young and ask, “Why are you thinking about death?’ I would say, “No, I don’t have control over my life.’ She was stupefied when I returned from Britain in 1974 after completing my master’s programme at the University of Reading and sent my books by boat because I travelled by air.

But before I sent the books, I wrote what I wanted her to do in case the plane developed fault and I didn’t survive it. I wrote, “My dear Remy, my dear wife, my books are coming by sea and I will be coming by air on ‘so-so’ date, and we will be travelling 35,000 feet above sea level. If anything happens up there, the chance of survival is zero and if I die, I want you to carry out the following assignment for me: take care of my children. You are young, you can remarry. Take one copy each of my thesis to The Polytechnic, Ibadan and the management department, University of Ibadan…” I wrote it and travelled by air and God saved me. I think it was on my birthday on December 22, 1974. We arrived safely at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

We went to take delivery of my books at Apapa wharf because I used to buy many books so when we got to Ibadan, I said to her, “Mama Goke, come and see the letter I wrote you when I knew I would be travelling by air and my books would arrive by sea.’’ She saw it and was disillusioned. She was confused and said to me, “You this man, something is wrong o” and I told her nothing was wrong. She replied, “I say something is wrong. Why do you think of death all the time?” I said that was the way God made me to be thinking of bad and good at the same time to balance life because that is how God also created human beings.”

If I boarded a plane to travel 35, 000 feet above sea level and it crashed, do I have any hope of surviving? I would die! And if I don’t write this type of thing, you will do many things on my behalf and they may not go along with my wish. That is the way I see life. You can pray to God for long but view life as something that could go this way or that way.

How would you describe your work experience when you returned fully to Nigeria?

I returned to Nigeria from the United Kingdom in 1979 after I left again in 1973. I was already in the system in the Ministry of Lands and Housing. Before I left for Britain in 1967, I was an S6 officer in the ministry. When I returned in 1969, I was made a pupil land officer. I was moving up like that and before I left for Britain again in 1973, I was already a senior officer. When I returned to Nigeria with a master’s degree, I was made principal land officer. I retired voluntarily in 1977 after 18 years of service.

Why did you resign?

We young officers at the time just wanted to see what was happening in the private practice. I have been in private practice since then but the economy started changing drastically after the then Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo’s policies in 1978.

Did you regret leaving the public service?

I am not used to regretting things because I always think deeply before taking any action.

How do you feel at 80?

Like I wrote on Facebook, it’s gratifying for me to be alive at 80. It’s indeed gratifying and I have to thank my God for giving me life up to 80 as I was always prepared for any decision of God on my life. I feel fine.

Do you wish to also celebrate 90 years of age?

I will be very happy if God can allow me to get to 90. But I have always told God that if He would allow me live beyond 90, He has to give me good health, strength and happiness. Anything above 90 to me is overtime because you would no longer enjoy life. Most of your body parts will no longer work well. Thank God if you have the grace to be 70. If you are given the privilege to live up to 80, you should express thanks to Him profusely. I am given a special grace by God. I have never been admitted to the hospital for any ailment.

What is your favourite food?

My favourite food is hot pap in the morning, pounded yam or yam flour in the afternoon and solid pap with moin-moin. My stomach takes any food except poison. But my food intake is now reduced. I don’t eat much.

Attempt to stop Operation Amotekun will tear Nigeria apart — Ex-Gov Ezeife

 

A former Governor of old Anambra State, who is also a prominent Igbo leader, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, tells RAPHAEL EDE about the South-East desire to produce the president in 2023 and other national issues

Is the South-East ready to take the presidency of Nigeria by 2023?

The people of the South-East are desirous of taking the presidency of Nigeria in 2023 and they want to do everything necessary to get it. If possible, they want to kneel down before the North, South-West, South-South and Middle-Belt; to beg them because of the importance of it. And we are uniting very fast. Igbo are united now for that goal. We will make every necessary sacrifice to get it and I hope Nigerians will see that it is time for justice. It is time for justice, in fact, a new Nigeria is in the making and it will come so, it is time for justice.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, has been advocating that zoning arrangements should be dumped for merit. Don’t you see this is an attempt to deny the Igbo this opportunity in 2023?

Well, the North has dominated the presidency of Nigeria, the West has got a fair share; and even the South –South has got some. What offence did the South-East commit? Where is justice in that, that a major section of Nigeria cannot rule? I believe that everybody has the right to ambition. El-Rufai has the right to be ambitious to rule Nigeria and fortunately, he is young, he can wait after the Igbo has taken their turn. I mean equity, justice and fairness require that an Igbo should be next president of Nigeria.

Some groups in the North want power to remain there in the 2023. How do you view their position?

Yes, I heard that statement from Prof Ango Abdullahi and Dr Junaid Muhammed that power should remain in the North for another 100 years. It is easy to say a thing like this. I am happy that some people in the North are not thinking that way. Indeed, some youth groups in the same North came to my house in the village to show support for Igbo presidency in 2023. I am grateful to them and I think we are getting close to a new Nigeria where people can think about fairness. Some young men came and told me what they think about the 2023 and the whole country. Recently, if you have been listening very closely to the ground you will know that there have been some actions in the Middle-Belt. They have even gone far to think about who should be the candidate. So, Nigeria is changing. A new Nigeria is in the making and God must be in charge.

Do you think the Igbo people stand any chance of emerging Nigeria’s president in 2023? What should they do differently?

Well, as far as I can see anybody who is thinking well, thinking about fairness, equity and justice will know that the Igbo have the best chance. However, there are people who may think differently. But you know if the Igbo do what they have to do; unite, lobby and make all necessary move to get the presidency and they are told that they cannot get it because they are Igbo, then of course you are telling them that they are not Nigerians and then should leave Nigeria. That should be the final push on the Igbo to leave Nigeria and I don’t think that is coming. There are limits to unfairness and marginalisation, and I think that is what is going to ensure that the Igbo get what is due to them in 2023. If you tell the Igbo people they are not Nigerians and you reject them; they will not reject themselves if you reject them. So you are pushing them out,(but you are) giving them a final push out.

Recently, the national coordinator of Tinubu-Not-Negotiable 2023, Muri Okunola said that APC would lose if Igbo get the 2023 presidential ticket. How do react to that assertion?

As you know ambition can blind people. It is clear that Tinubu wants to be president as soon as possible. So what he said is affected by that ambition and if APC does not want Igbo president, they should drive away all the Igbo people in their party. But they can pick an Igbo president from among themselves and that is the APC. So, I don’t see the logic in his point. But Tinubu is my friend and he can say anything he likes but I don’t believe he means it.

On January 9, South-West governors launched a security outfit codenamed Operation Amotekun and the Federal Government through the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, has declared that initiative as illegal. What do think about that?

The Federal Government has no right to declare it illegal. Has the Federal Government declared Hisbah illegal? Kano and several other states in the North have Sharia police. Why should the Yoruba case be different? So, any argument on this is a waste of time. I think the South-West has done it and nobody can change it. I think changing it is inviting chaos in Nigeria. If you want to tear Nigeria apart, go and fight the Yoruba security outfit but I don’t think anybody will go to fight it. This country is so blessed by God. God blessed us so well, no earthquake and why should we become the tsunami of Nigeria? We have reached the bottom of unfairness, of injustice. Our courts – our justice system has collapsed, our politics and our democracy have all collapsed and everything is going down. Nigeria must change. A new Nigeria is coming and it is in the making. So, my brother the South-West has reacted to the criticisms against its security outfit and the people have the support of every other part of Nigeria from the South-East to the Middle-Belt to the South-South. I am sure that within some time some other parts of Nigeria will come up with their own security arrangements. Don’t you see what is going on? Is there security in Nigeria? People are being killed as if they are flies. People are losing property. Everything is wrong.

This means, you support community policing as part of measures to tackle banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and other violent crimes. Is that right?

Community policing is inevitable. Community policing becomes a necessity when Nigeria Police can no longer take care of the problems of the community. In Anambra, we have security arrangement which is very good but that is not enough. We have to have South-East security arrangement. It is not a matter of Anambra being happy with their own arrangement, our own is very good yes but we need South-East community security arrangement. I don’t know – there was a time the government said everybody should surrender gun yet people are still moving around with their guns and killing others everywhere.

Between1954 and1965 Nigeria was working well and the World Bank made the statement that parts of Nigeria were growing faster than the rest of the world. What did we do then? We had a good structure, we had a good system and regions were growing at their own pace and growing very fast. There is nothing wrong with going back to a system that works. There is nothing wrong going back to a structure that worked.

Some say Nigeria has jettisoned the concept of true federalism. Is Nigeria not practising true federalism?

Well, of course you know that we are not practising true federalism. There are matters exclusive to the Federal Government which should not be federal responsibility at all let alone being on exclusive list. We know things are collapsing and we are taking giant steps backward. We are not growing. How do you feel when Nigeria is called the poverty capital of the World? I mean these things are not easy to swallow. The system is collapsing and if you don’t take time we will disintegrate and I don’t want that. I wrote a paper on the permanence of one Nigeria but, one Nigeria cannot be permanent with this kind of inequality, injustice and unfairness. So, I believe that the time has come for us to look around and have an emergency restructuring. For those who are afraid on the grounds of revenue allocation, there are ways of solving political and economic problems. They cannot kill us, we can device way of solving revenue allocation problem, revenue generation problem. So people who are afraid that they will lose revenue allocation by restructuring don’t understand. If they want to understand it, let them ask me. There are ways we can solve this problem of revenue allocation at least for the first five years there will be no change at all and then within the five years we build up a structure that enables each local government and state to get effective increases in their revenue generation.

Some people believe that the current regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) is being run in ways that make it look like an exclusive preserve of a particular minority. What is your take on that?

Well, it is not a speculation, that is the truth. Look at the security arrangement – when you said the truth they begin to threaten you with all kinds of things but may God continue to help me to always tell the truth; and if need be pay whatever price anybody is imposing. But I must share the truth. I don’t think that the way the government is going is the right way to go. I don’t think we are being fair and this problem I am saying can hurt the people who are giving this trouble. The Fulani people and remember when I was contesting for president, I got the Miyetti Allah as my friends and they supported me but I didn’t go far of course but the Fulani are intelligent and I don’t see intelligence in what they are doing now. If you are going to antagonize the rest of Nigeria how many are you? How can the Fulani gain by antagonising the rest of Nigeria? Even if Nigeria is to collapse who will suffer the most? I think their leadership should think again because this imposition, you conclude everything, you are head of everything, you have president too, you dominate the whole thing and you think that is good, no! You are making the rest of the country your enemies and that is not good. That cannot help any because what goes up must come down. So, what I’m saying is that, it is not in the interest of the Fulani to antagonise the rest of Nigeria by the way they are dominating everything, every organisation, every policy. They should try and pull back systematically, that will be better. The British who gave them the great advantages are not going to be there forever for them.

Out of anger, some Nigerians are calling for restructuring, some are calling for secession and some beating the drums of war. How do you react to these?

My reaction is to plead with Nigerians to go on their kneels and thank God for the gene of a country he has giving us. Then, pray to God because the hearts of kings are in the hands of God. Pray that God should touch the hearts of our leaders, our politicians for them to realise what they are damaging and turn around to do the right thing that make our country great. If we want to earn the respect and dignity of the blacks and African people, Nigerians must abandon rabid corruption and injustices, unfairness and begin to reconstruct Nigeria by removing all the negatives that make Africans to be ashamed in the world.

In the light of all these, what do you think is the reason for the sharp divisions along ethnic and religious lines in the country?

When you are going down problems arise in many ways. If we are growing the way we were growing between 1954 – 65, I mean we didn’t have sharp ethnic divisions. But this time the economic backwardness is leading to great divisions. Let me start with religion – there is no bases for religious divide in Nigeria. If you read the Qur’an well and read the Bible well you will find minor human errors which are being magnified in the system as if they were very important. No!! The God of the Christians is the God of the Muslims. The things you need to do in Christianity you need to do them in in Islam but there is only one significant difference which arose from a mistake.

So forget what they say that religion divides us. It pays some people to promote it. Ethnic divide: I am Igbo, God created me Igbo. I am Igbo on arrival. If you are Hausa, you are Hausa on arrival you didn’t chose to be. Why am I going to be disputing my Hausa-friend or my Yoruba-friend? There is no basis unless I am disputing with God who decided what each person will be. If we come together, if we lend each other shoulder we develop massively and happiness will dominate any division we have. So, yes there was this our problem in the past when Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo seemed to have different ideas but eventually, I think some of us who were alive then, should know that we have a responsibility to unite the Yoruba and the Igbo; let it form the bases of correcting the problems of Nigeria.

January marks it 50 years after the Nigeria/Biafra Civil War. Do you think that Nigerians have learnt anything from the war?

Well, we lost everything from the coup and from the war. It was the coup that resulted into war which led to the change in the structure that worked. The structure that worked is regional government with a federating units – I mean regional government as federating unit. That structure was there then, the coup came and the war followed the coup and it was in the interest of Nigeria to find ways of winning the war and that led to the creation of 12 states to isolate Igbo in the East so that it will be easier to win the war. Now from 12 states to 36 states, it got to unitary government, we got to having exclusive list. When after the war we tried to reunite, Aburi Agreement was the best and whether we like it or we don’t like it, if we want Nigeria to continue it is going to be of something very similar to Aburi Agreement.

The then Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon, instituted policy of three Rs – Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation as part of the measures to heal the wounds inflicted by the civil war. But the Igbo still feel they are marginalised in Nigeria. Does it mean there has been no full integration?

Gowon is a Godly man with very good conscience. He wanted everything to work perfectly. He declared no victor no vanquish and three Rs but Gowon alone could not implement everything. There was a bias in the implementation and it is worse now than after the war. I mean the marginalisation; humiliation of the Igbo is now by far worse than those days after the war. I don’t want to repeat what I have said in various papers but the Pull-Igbo-Down-Syndrome has been so high in the present government. Our people dominate the list of people to be sacked from the army. Our people are absent in the list of appointments. Yes, what the President says is very good, excellent but what he is doing is different from what he says and that where the problem is.

You were said to have fought on the side of the Biafra during the civil war. Looking back now do you think you fought for a right cause?

During that period, I was not very relevant in the scheme of things. I did not contribute much to the decisions and when the war was going on, all I did was begging for alms, begging in the streets of America for money to support the downtrodden – those who were suffering. My wife even fainted and when I got to where she fainted, I fainted too because things were bad. Then in Uganda I tried to make peace; trying to explain things to our people. So, mine was not a decision-making role during the war.

Are you satisfied with the anti-corruption war of this regime considering that some former governors have been convicted for corruption?

Selective justice is injustice. The war against corruption is characterised by selective justice. But the war against corruption is necessary and must be fought for Nigeria to claim its place in the comity of nations. I don’t think we have fought a great war against corruption. There is more corruption now than when we said we started to fight against it. It is even corruption to be selective in the fight against corruption.

Well, you are asking me all kinds of questions just know that things are not right now as there are people who are looking at what you are saying and they are not looking at the quality of what you are saying. During the Abacha government, my name was put among those to be eliminated and somehow, one big man Justice Mama Nasir called to meet me and we met in Lagos. After meeting Justice Nasir, four hours of talking he told me, ‘my son, Dr Ezeife from now on go ahead and say what you like to say. Say what your conscience tells you; a country must have people of conscience not every person will succumb to injustice for fear. I am going to tell Abacha that the security people should look away from you.’ I became, according to security people, untouchable but it is not easy for people to recognise that a person telling the truth even when the truth is against them is doing anything good.

How would you describe the proscription of IPOB and alleged extrajudicial killings of its members by security agents for agitating for the restoration of the Independent State of Biafra?

The Igbo youths are not helping Nigeria at all, they are only reacting to the injustice against their people. While it seems like there is a division between the youth and elders of Igboland is that the elders don’t want to be in a hurry, they want Nigeria as one but the complaints of the youth affect them. They see the injustice, the humiliation – the cheating, the inequality, the elders see them also but they said ‘oh, let’s give it some time maybe God will change the minds of the kings and create a more favourable situation. The youths may also have a wrong calculation on some of the issues but one thing is clear; when they say stay at home people stay at home.

How do you describe the Supreme Court judgement that sacked Emeka Ihedioha and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma as the new governor of Imo State?

It came to me as a very big shock. I am a friend of Uzodinma and I am a friend of Ihedioha but I am a friend of justice, equity and fairness and the Supreme Court is not just, not fair and did not apply equity in their judgement. There is no way you can justify the action. But it was a plan made by some people and they even got a prophet to prepare the minds of people about it. One particular prophet was announcing something that nobody believed until, it was a matter of those who planned those thing getting him to prepare the minds of the people. So it hurts so much. I saw Ihedioha about three weeks ago in Imo when he hosted Chief Mbazulike Amaechi to a 90-year birthday party. I know I hosted Nwafor Orizu for his 76-year birthday party but, Orizu is from Anambra; this one a governor of Imo state hosted an Anambra elder to a 90-year birthday party indicating the greater understanding among the South-East. For this one to come just after that event makes it even worse but the point I am making as far as I know is there is no way the decision of the Supreme Court can be justified. God in heaven knows that.

South-East can’t get 2023 Presidency with intimidation — ACF Secretary General, Sani

In this interview with GODWIN ISENYO, the Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, says the South-East cannot get the 2023 presidency by threatening other regions

What’s your view of the recent Supreme Court judgement on the Imo governorship election which sacked Emeka Ihedioha as governor, replacing him with Hope Uzodinma who came a distant fourth?

The judgement has explained why Uzodinma who was the fourth in the declared results of election of March 9, 2019 and why he was now declared the validly elected governor of Imo State

You may wish to note that comments before the Supreme Court judgement had predicted the outcome of the case by saying it was dicey. Even Rev Mbaka predicted the outcome. So, I do not see the basis of any misgiving or fury. I have also noticed any time the opposition wins a case, they applaud the judiciary as the last hope of the masses, and any time the opposition losses the elections, they cry foul and accuse the judiciary of pandering to the executive.

Multi-party democracy works on due process of law and consciously directed bipartisan efforts must be made to build institutions that strengthen our democracy. Efforts should not be focused on disparaging them by making the public to lose confidence in our democratic institutions.

The PDP described the judgement as another gloom episode in the country’s democratic journey…

Our politicians should learn tenets of democracy which thrives on due process of rule of law. Our democratic institutions cannot exist on the terms of the opposition party which is expected to help build and strengthen the institutions. A situation where the opposition applauds the judiciary only when judgements are favourable is not in the place of democratic practice. It is within the purview of our politicians to help build and strengthen our democratic institutions and not to make our electorate lose confidence in these institutions

The Federal Government has just declared the security outfit put in place to tackle the security challenges in the South-West by its governors as illegal. What’s your view on this?

You would recall when I was asked to react on the establishment of the security outfit known as Operation Amotekun, I said there can be no cavil with the significance of any group of people or states coming together to unleash their synergistic potential against collective challenges for common good, with the proviso that such approaches are within the limits defined by our constitution. I also said the South-West boasts of legal luminaries who can advise the governors on their limits defined by the constitution. More so that the people of the South -West profess to be democrats who are not expected to cause havoc to our democracy. In addition, there seemed to be no consensus among the six states of South-West on how best to approach the issue amid the then reticence of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice whose place in the order of things is to protect and ensure the strict observance of the provisions of the constitution. As a result, I could not make an informed comment on the issues.

However, I said the governors should address the underlying causes of insecurity which include poverty that comes with unemployment and ignorance. I also pleaded with them to pressurise the national government to provide enough number of trained and properly equipped soldiers and police personnel needed for securing the nation. There is no way the present level of soldiers and police personnel, most of who are not properly trained and adequately equipped, can secure the country. But now that the Federal Government has declared the Amotekun illegal, it is left for the governors to accept it or challenge the decision in the court. That is how democracy works. Democracy is never a bull fight in a sumo ring, but contest of ideas and reasons.

Some reactions have trailed the President’s daughter’s (Hana Buhari) use of presidential jet for her photography project. Are these attacks justifiable?

Even though President Buhari did not have to allow the use of the presidential jet by his daughter, considering his simple and humble life devoid of accoutrement of life, the criticisms are not comeuppance. Here is a president who cut his salary by 50 per cent , asked that old vehicles left by President Jonathan be used and who never promoted himself to the rank of General and who is never bothered about traditional titles and honorary degrees that are manifestations of cash for peerage.

Nigeria was recently placed on the watch list of religious intolerance by America. What’s your view on this?

I did not understand the basis of placing Nigeria on the watch list for religious intolerance. This is because there are many hundreds of churches in the core North that includes the North-East where Boko Haram makes a feint of jihadists. Similarly, there are mosques in the South-East and the South-South where Muslims worship without any form of molestations. I am also aware that the number of people killed by Boko Haram transcends religious and ethnic boundaries. In fact, more Muslims have been killed by Boko Haram. Also, the clashes between the herders and farmers are driven by economic considerations rather than religious. And I would prefer we do not give the religious colouration lest we give criminals platforms to stand and perpetrate crime under the guise of religion. I, therefore, advise America to be more comprehensive in the investigations for true and realistic appreciation of the situations.

A first class Emir in the North was recently attacked by bandits in Kaduna State and several people, including three of his aides were killed while several others, were kidnapped. Are you concerned on the growing insecurity in the region and by extension, the country?

I do not think the insecurity is growing but reducing. Recall there was time before advent of President Buhari when free worship in mosques and churches as well as visits to markets and garages could not be taken for granted. Recall high profile killings that prevail before President Buhari. There was fear and loss of hope. But when President Buhari came in, he reduced the security challenges and consigned the insurgence to fringes of the North-East and supplanted helplessness with hope across the North. This accounted for his re-election. His second coming was greeted with incidents of kidnapping, banditry, cattle rustling and increase in clashes between herders and farmers. But I think the government has reduced these attacks substantially. We are praying that the security agencies will sustain the tempo of containing the insecurity lest the sect and the criminals go under ground, regroup and emerge ready for more ferocious attacks.

That is why I saw no wisdom in going public with the stories of government plans to withdraw soldiers from hitherto violent areas, lest the sects and criminals know and attack them. It is too early to withdraw soldiers from violent and vulnerable places.

The ACF once proposed a summit on security aimed at tackling the security challenges under the President Buhari’s watch. How far has the body gone on this?

When the need arises, ACF will convene the security submit. This is because the government is on course in so far as containment of insecurity is concerned. Any short comings are due to paucity of funds.

Has the present government done enough to halt the renewed hostility by the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East?

The Federal Government can do enough only if it has put an end to all forms of attacks by the sect permanently. As long as there are some attacks by the sect, however feeble, nobody would say the government has done enough.

Why do you think insecurity has continued and why can’t FG can’t overcome the challenge?

Insecurity is now a global phenomenon because those who perpetrate it want to use fear by intimidation and threats to rule the world. That explains why America which has 243 years of independence still experiences insecurity. In Nigeria, insecurity is stoked by poverty that comes with unemployment and ignorance as well as introduction of cashless economy that makes kidnapping more attractive than armed robbery which was unleashed after the civil war. If the governments addresses the underlying causes of insecurity and people support the government, insecurity will reduce substantially.

Is negotiation the way out?

Negotiations may not be the best option, but it is an option anyway. Negotiation derives from the adage that if somebody kills another person, he would be charged for murder. And if he kills 10 people, such a person would be examined for insanity. But when he kills 1000 people, he is invited for peace talks in Geneva, not because the world is happy with the killing but to stop further killings.

Where should presidency go to in 2023?

I still maintain that it is too early to discuss politics of 2023 just after inauguration President. This is because such early discussion undermines the place of performance in our body politics in favour of politics of identity. In the absence of national consensus about politics of zoning that is binding on the political parties which are the only ones allowed to present candidates for elective offices, I advise the Igbo to develop their winning game plans and sell to other sections of the country more persuasively rather than the current approaches using intimidation threats and playing victims. This is because democracy is contest of ideas and reasons, and not bullfight.

But the likes of Prof Ango Abdullahi has said power should remain in the North in 2023 but some youth groups in the region are saying power must change hand in 2023. Do you subscribe to that assertion?

People like Professor Ango and me belong to platforms which are not political parties and legally allowed to present candidates for elective offices. And given the fact that there is no national consensus on rotation that is binding on all political parties, there is little we can do in this regard beyond advocacy.

Is it right to drop zoning now as said by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Ñasir el-Rufai?

How can you suggest a dropping of what does not exist as legally binding instrument? I have said that if there was national consensus that are legally binding instrument, Buhari would not contest with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 and President Goodluck Jonathan would not contest with Buhari in 2011 and in 2015. I have also said if there was binding rotation on political parties, over 60 candidates would not vie for president at a time it is the turn of the North in 2019.

What’s your view on the recent increase of VAT and the electricity tariff?

I have read the complaints by the generation, transmission and distributor companies that unless consumers pay economic rates for what they consume, they cannot be effective in generation, transmission and distribution. I have also read the complaints by consumers that they cannot pay for services not rendered. Where do we start? A chicken and egg relationship, one might say.

But I share the views of those who suggest that the distribution companies should provide all consumers with prepaid meters before considering any increase. As to the increase in VAT, while I share the pains expressed by consumers about the increase of 7.5 per cent VAT, we must come to terms with the reality that government needs revenues for delivering of the needed services and infrastructural development. Our ratio of revenues to Gross Domestic Product is very low compared to what obtains in Africa. For examples, VAT for most African countries is multiples of 7.5 per cent just introduced in Nigeria.

What’s your thought on the proposed social media and hate speech bill by the National Assembly?

I like social media because the platforms enable ordinary people to interact with the powerful and leaders. Unfortunately, the credibility of social media is being rubbished by fake news and hate speech capable of causing havoc in the society. As a result, older people are deserting social media to the chagrin of the youths who need it the most. That is why I want some form of regulation of the practices of social media provided that the sanctions for infraction would not include capital punishment.

I owe no explanation for selling my SUV – Kaffy

I owe no explanation for selling my SUV – Kaffy

known as Kaffy, tasted the bitter side of fame recently. She had taken to her social media page to announce that she wanted to sell her Highlander SUV and sometime later, she revealed that she had sold the vehicle. When she revealed that she had sold the vehicle, a fan had commented that she should then use the money to fund her forthcoming book launch. Some other followers also implied that Kaffy sold her vehicle because she was facing some financial difficulties.

However, in a chat with Sunday Scoop, the ‘dance queen’ stated that she was unfazed by such comments. She said, “It is not about insults getting to me. If anybody insults me, I can insult the person too. I can decide when to reply. When you communicate with people in a derogatory manner, don’t expect that they would take it easy. I am not the one angry; I am just having fun.”

The mother of two also maintained that she didn’t owe anybody any explanation for selling her vehicle. She added, “I don’t owe anybody any explanation. I can decide to sell a house; why is selling my car a problem? I don’t care. I am unapologetic about social media.”

Kaffy, who turns 40 years old and marks 20 years in the industry this year, spoke on her plans to celebrate the milestones. “2020 is the year I am celebrating my fortieth birthday and 20 years in the industry. I am going to be doing a dance concert in May. Last year, I organised an international concert and I would be repeating the feat this year. After that, I would have my book launch. Also, I would be launching an online mentorship class and the courses would be of international standard. This year is really significant for me. I want to go to 20 different locations in Nigeria and give back to people, by having seminars and other activities.”

The energetic entertainer also noted that though she hasn’t achieved everything she wanted to in her career, she was appreciative of how far she had come. She said, “I have done my best to have a well known brand and to build the dance industry to a point where young people can see it as a viable business. We have lots of dancers doing well out there and that makes me happy. For everything I have achieved so far, I believe I have done well.”

On what is responsible for her svelte shape at 40, Kaffy said, “I’ll say dancing is one of the reasons. Also, it is God’s gift. I am very active and fit too.”

BREAKING: NSCDC officer shoots senatorial candidate in Imo

There was a tragedy on Sunday as an operative of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps shot the 2019 senatorial candidate of the Action Alliance in Imo North Senatorial District, Ndubuisi Emenike.

The incident took place around 5 pm during a victory party for the All Progressives Congress candidate at the rerun election in Okigwe North Federal Constituency held on Saturday.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had announced the APC candidate, Miriam Onuoha, as the winner of the election when the tragedy struck at the APC’s candidate house at Umunachi in the Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of the state.

The  gathered that the NSCDC officer was attached to the AA senatorial candidate and had escorted him to the victory party.

He was shooting consistently into the air and mistakenly shot his boss which brought the victory party to an abrupt end, an eye witness told.

The victim fell and lost consciousness and was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital, St Joseph’s Hospital, Umunachi, before he was later rushed to the Federal Medical Center, Owerri, in an ambulance.

One of the sources said, ” Ndubuisi Emenike has been shot by one of his security aides. He was shot during APC victory party at Isiala Mbano LGA. He was shot at his lower abdomen by his aide, an NSCDC officer. This is very tragic and very unbelievable. We pray he makes it. The incident has shattered our victory party.”

When contacted, the police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, said that the incident had been reported to the police.

He said that the command would speak on the incident once it had finished gathering the facts of the incident.

As of the time of filing this report, one of the aides of the politician told that his principal was still being attended to by doctors and nurses at FMC, Owerri.

10 eligible, wealthy bachelors

10 eligible, wealthy bachelors

The first son of billionaire businessman, Dr Mike Adenuga, Jide’s marital status has been the topic of several debates. Rich, handsome and blessed with an eye for business, Jide is undoubtedly the crush of many ladies. The entrepreneur was at a time a director at the defunct Equitorial Trust Bank, owned by his father.

He is also the CEO of 3 Inclusive Limited, exclusive importers of Montaudon champagne.

Coming from a family that shies away from media attention, it is not surprising that much is not known about Jide’s love life. But it is clear that when he decides to settle down, it would be the talk of the town.

Sijibomi Ogundele

Sijibomi Ogundele is an ambitious businessman. The young man, who sits atop Sujimoto Group of Companies, has dreams to be like the Trumps and Candy Brothers of the real estate world, and it sure seems like he’s succeeding.

One of the most popular real estate practitioners of his generation, Ogundele, is very passionate about providing luxury to those who can afford it. Some of his buildings have been adjudged to be top-notch, even as he still has several ambitious projects in the pipeline.

However, it seems Sujimoto realises that man must not live by business alone. According to the words of a love song, “Every man needs a woman” and Ogundele apparently believes that too. The entrepreneur hinted that he would get married this year. The New Year resolutions he released weeks ago on his Instagram page contained the words, “I shall marry her for she’s everything to me.”

Well, his friends are waiting!

Paddy Adenuga

Unarguably one of the most eligible bachelors in the country, Paddy seems to have it all– good looks, rich background and an entrepreneurial drive.

Though born with a silver spoon in his mouth to billionaire businessman, Mike Adenuga, Paddy has chosen to find his own path. He is the founder of Pegasus Capital Investments Limited, a London-based company with special focus on food and beverages investment.

Paddy had once revealed on social media that he had been engaged twice but things didn’t work out. He wrote, “I have been engaged twice but didn’t get married on either occasions. Painful in both times, but a lot of lessons learnt.

“I can’t force God’s time and God’s will. In the meantime, I am just taking it one day at a time. Very soon, God will do it for me and it will be final.”

Needless to say, there are many ladies out there who wouldn’t mind parting with an arm and a leg to have the suave dude as the man in their lives.

Ladi Delano

The name, Ladi Delano, may not ring a bell to many people. But those in the know are aware that the young man is one of the trailblazers of his generation.

The serial entrepreneur is the CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa and he has shown quite clearly that he knows how to make money. He is reported to have made his first million as a liquor entrepreneur while living in China, and ever since, there has been no stopping him.

Not much is in the public domain about Delano because he obviously cherishes his privacy. But what is not a secret is that the businessman is one of the most sought after bachelors on this side of the divide.

Adebola Williams

It is safe to say that Adebola Williams is friends to plenty of those that matter in the country. The charismatic entrepreneur is usually on hand to support his friends and associates when they have events, thus his face is not scarce on the social scene.

Williams is the co-founder of Red Africa, which is regarded as one of the continent’s largest portfolio of youth media brands. The group is home to brands such as StateCraft Inc, Future Awards Africa and Y! Naija.

Williams was part of the team that worked on ‘branding’ the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), during the 2015 general elections. He also worked with the incumbent Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, during his election in 2016.

Many have asked the 33-year-old entrepreneur when he would walk down the aisle but he has kept sealed lips. Perhaps, it would happen this year.

Abubakar Falalu

Abubakar Falalu is the young man behind the agricultural company, Falgates. The Kaduna-based farmer has a Bachelor’s degree in Management from the Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, and a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Nottingham Ningbo China.

In recognition of his business strides, Falalu was listed among Forbes Magazine’s ‘30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa 2018. Needless to say, Falalu would be a catch for any lady lucky enough to have him.

Obinna Okwodu

Obinna Okwodu is the CEO and co-founder of Fibre, a real estate company. Born in the United States of America, the businessman once worked as an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley’s real estate division in New York. Prior to that, he obtained dual degrees in Civil Engineering and Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Intelligent and savvy, Okwodu has a keen eye for opportunities and that’s one of the factors responsible for his rapid business growth. He is one bachelor that many ladies have their eyes on.

Gossy Ukanwoke

Gossy Ukanwoke is the founder of BAU Executive Education, which provides executive education programmes to professionals, executives and graduates looking to develop business and leadership skills online and on-campus. He was listed as one of the ’30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa 2018’.

Ukanwoke’s holding company, BAU R&D, is also said to have completed investments in two Nigerian traditional universities. He has also continued to take his business to higher grounds.

He is the dream man of many ladies.

Nasir Yammama

Creative technologist and entrepreneur, Nasir Yammama, is the founder of Verdant, an agri-tech value chain company that offers innovations to farmers and other stakeholders for improved food production using novel technologies.

The Katsina-born businessman received a medal personally from Queen Elizabeth II at the Queen’s Young Leaders Award in 2017 for his contributions to agricultural business. He has also won several laurels.

Whenever stories about him are written on blogs, several ladies usually say they wish they could get married to him.

Chude Jideonwo

Co-founder of Red Africa, Chude Jideonwo, is another eligible bachelor that many women wouldn’t mind settling down with.

Highly cerebral and reserved, Jideonwo has consistently shown that he is one of the leaders of his generation. He garnered more acclaim when he interviewed Busola Dakolo, on her allegations of rape against popular pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly.

Why standards are falling in the military — Idada, retired Army provost marshal

Why standards are falling in the military — Idada, retired Army provost marshal

How would you describe the military of today and the military of your time? Would you say it has fared better?

I do not think that it is the same level of professionalism, expertise, and sacrifice that marked the army of yesteryears that is prevailing in the military of today. But it is not a surprise, because the country itself has been experiencing deterioration and retrogression in almost every facet of our national life. Whether in education, agriculture, engineering, and military there has been a steady decline to the point that everybody knows that things are no longer the same- not as they were during the time of our founding fathers. The military stayed in power for over 30 years. Even though there were periods of breaks, the corruption and lack of democratic practice that were said to be the reason for military intervention had been rubbished because we ended up having succeeding administrations or regimes that did not inherit anything better than the military that organised the coups. The present state of the nation where most Nigerians believe that we are only having democracy by name and that in particular we are only having a federation only in name but we are having a unitary system of government is the prevailing thought and that is why Nigerians have been calling for reorganisation, restructuring, repositioning or whatever name you call it.

Are you saying it is military intervention that reduced the federal system to a unitary system of government?

Certainly, we had a true federal system of government before the military intervention. Then the states were autonomous. If you remember General David Ejoor, when he was the governor of the old Bendel State, and the war broke out, he said Bendel cannot be turned into a war zone. That statement could not have come out from a system that was not autonomous. Nigeria, before Gowon, created 12 states; the Western Region had their constitution; they had their Court of Appeal and their Supreme Court. The federal was there then, only for special issues while the states dealt with most other issues. But you know what has become of governance today. The federal is in charge of virtually everything, including agriculture, roads, and employment.

So, the idea that in a federal system, the Federal Government is a special government to take care of special issues and the states are there to take care of every other issue, the idea that the state governments are the true government had become a mirage in Nigeria. Out of over 96 issues in the legislative list, almost all are on the federal list.

Against that background, there is no controversy in saying that everything is being controlled by the Federal Government. We are running a unitary system where power is flowing from the centre. How else do you have a situation where the state government is running to the centre to collect money every month? How come the Federal Government is responsible for all mineral resources in the country – a situation which is completely at variance with what it was before the 1966 coup? The military came in, they argued that they needed all the resources available to be able to prosecute the war and of course who will talk at that time. So, they appropriated all the resources for the state, oil, mineral and whatever, especially oil resource which has been our main source of revenue, the federation took over everything under the guise of being able to effectively prosecute the war. After the war, when they were handing over government from military to civilian regime, those laws of appropriation that made Nigeria a unitary system were not changed.

So, would you say the military responsible for turning our erstwhile federal system into a unitary system?

Would it not have been different if when they handed over they made sure they handed over a Constitution that guarantees the autonomy of the state? A Constitution that ensures that the states control the affairs in the majority of issues rather than having all powers concentrated in the federal and the states turned to beggars, going cap in hand to Abuja every month for allocation.

Why has it been difficult for the military in Nigeria to fight insurgency despite the huge resources committed to it by the Federal Government?

Let me put it this way. For a long time during military regime because of selfish reasons of different military regimes there was deliberate attempt to incapacitate the military because some of the rulers felt that if the military was too equipped their regime will not be safe. So, the Nigerian Army, Navy and the Air Force underwent a very serious period of denial. I think it was selfish and poor orientation because we ought to remember always that we should build strong institutions not strong individuals. If institutions are strong, the individuals no matter how highly placed will operate within the law. So, that is significant in our military development and of course since matters were not made any better since the demise of the cold war, the conflict between the East and the West which is usually referred to as the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The effect of the demise of the cold war is that the chances of war between nations became reduced. Because of this, nations, including ours, did not see the compulsion to equip and train for war. How do you explain a situation where the Nigerian military excelled in Congo, the Balkan war in Yugoslavia, as well as in Liberia and Sierra Leone? Even our policemen were sent on an international mission to African countries and European nations and they excelled. But now it is a common knowledge that our men have not been sufficiently equipped or sufficiently trained to confront headlong even local Boko Haram threats and that of herdsmen. How do you explain a situation where we have been faced with this kind of problem since 2009? It came to a point where the government told us they have been decimated, technically defeated and they are now just after soft target but of recent, we hear that Boko Haram has taken control of the substantial portion of the North-East part of Nigeria. Herdsmen are still holding sway while bandits have come up in new concept not to talk about the militancy in the South-South. All these security challenges appeared to have no solution. I am not saying that everybody in the military is useless, no, some of them who are in the military are very well-trained and exposed but they can’t perform better than their environment permits them. So, there is no denying the truth that standards are falling because the military is part of society. A society that has come to respect only material wealth, otherwise how do you explain an orderly or an escort to a General Officer Commanding escaping with N400m and to date nobody heard anything about it. If these guys have not been seeing so much money moving around; if that was the first time they are seeing such money would they have taken such a decision to escape with it? It is a society where only luxuries count. No matter how you make it, nobody rewards excellence, nobody rewards hard work; nobody rewards professionalism even in the other society. Who essentially are the people who get honoured in the country? They are political gladiators. That was why when Chinua Achebe was given National Award, he rejected it. Nigeria has not proved over the years that we are a country committed to excellence, hard work, vision, dedication, and productivity.

How would you assess the President’s decision to redeploy troops from none critical areas and replace them with police in the fight against Boko Haram?

What the President is saying is that let the military now face their primary responsibilities and let the Police now return to their routine role of keeping internal security. This measure is long overdue. I can tell you that from the government we had under the parliamentary system before Nigeria adopted the presidential system, the military, and the police were jointly responsible for internal security. It is just that the Police will be the first to appear, but as soon as the police see that they couldn’t handle the situation in the presence of the magistrate, the police in that area will hand over to the military under the close eyes of the magistrate. It was as simple as that. But all this changed in 1979 when we adopted the presidential system of government. The presidential system of government in our Constitution gave responsibilities to various branches of government and various organs of government. Our Constitution in providing for the military not only established the military in section 217 of the Constitution but also gave them their responsibilities. Their main responsibility was to defend Nigeria against foreign aggression coming either by land, by air or by sea. The only responsibility the military has under this law is stated in section 2172(c) which stated the kind of insurrection the military was to be called by the President who will make a proclamation on the state of emergency and get the parliamentary approval to use troops. When there is a breakdown of law and order in the country or part of the country, the President declares so, gazettes it and forward to the two chambers of the National Assembly for them to sit and decide. If the National Assembly says no, then it is no, but usually when a situation gets to such level everybody will see it, even members of the National Assembly will see it especially members from the affected areas. So, it means the clear intention of our constitution is that under our government troops will not be deployed for internal security situations unless on the order of the President and the approval of the National Assembly. Of course, our Constitution also makes it clear that Nigeria cannot deploy troops to foreign operation without the approval of the Senate. If it is so urgent in terms of actual war and terms of emergencies, our Constitution provides very adequately what should be done. So, I see the President’s declaration as an epoch. I see it as a very significant departure from what we have had in the past 20 years and above.

All the regimes before him abused this principle of using the military for what they are meant for and the police for what they are meant for because these regimes, let’s be frank used the military as the main source of sustaining themselves in power. The military had been ready tool for successive governments in Nigeria.

Are you saying without the connivance of the military…

(Cuts in) No, not the connivance, the military is at the beck and call of the government. The Commander-In-Chief is the President. So, if you are trying to be President and you are not the choice of the incumbent you are done for, you are just wasting your time. The President will use the military, the police, the civil defence, and everything to fight you.

What happened in the time of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost election despite being an incumbent?

What happened in Jonathan’s time was exceptional and that tells you that the people are the ultimate but unfortunately in most parts of Africa, the people don’t even realise that they have power. The case of Nigeria and that of some West African countries showed that you can defeat the incumbent government. But it is not an easy thing. People moved against Jonathan because they were yearning for a change and Jonathan was not as dastardly venomous as some of the past rulers who would have used everything available to ensure they were not defeated. It is the most difficult job to win a ruling President who has the command of the Army and all the other security agencies.

Are you saying Jonathan was more of a democrat than past leaders in Nigeria?

It is obvious, very obvious but of course, he had no choice because the way things were moving, the way votes were coming in from different parts of the country made it clear that he was already a loser. It’s a different ball game. First, it shows that people are the real government. It shows that when people agree to go a particular way, you cannot stop them. It also shows that Jonathan was not a desperate President. I am not holding brief for him because to me Jonathan shouldn’t even have contested for that election and I said so. His participation was not going to give the nation true democratic transition.

I revealed Olamide helped Majek Fashek under pressure – Manager

I revealed Olamide helped Majek Fashek under pressure – Manager

said that he revealed Olamide’s role in the former’s medical treatment because he was under pressure. Uzoma-Day told Sunday Scoop that some people felt he got a lot of money from wealthy businessman, Femi Otedola, and many other persons, and had embezzled it, so he decided to clear the air to let the public know that not many people helped out. He said, “Olamide actually helped out over six months ago and I honestly feel guilty for mentioning his name because he told me not to. However, what I said was not bad. Olamide really showed love. I didn’t even expect it from him. I didn’t want to say it but my spirit was not at peace. He helped out at a time of tribulation. Some people felt Femi Otedola gave me a lot of money but everything he gave was paid directly to the hospital. A single penny didn’t pass through my hands. After it became public knowledge that Otedola had offered assistance, some people came out of the woodworks to harass me, asking for Majek’s money and properties. There was even a time I registered Majek for a health insurance scheme in the United Kingdom but nobody came to identify with us then. I did my best for Majek but I am not a millionaire.”

Uzoma-Day also stated that he hadn’t had any interaction with Olamide after he made the revelation during a radio interview. He stated, “We have not spoken. I will speak to him at a convenient time and he would understand why I did what I did. I’m the one wearing the shoe so I know where it pinches. As a matter of fact, St. Nicholas Hospital just called me to pay the balance for Majek’s treatment because he was there at some point. People should pray not to be sick because it is a bad thing because if one is sick, one would spend a lot of money looking for a cure. Even if you have hundreds of millions, you wouldn’t know when the money would be used to pay bills.”

On Majek’s current health status, the artiste manager said, “He is doing better now. He is out of the hospital but he is still undergoing therapy somewhere else in New York. He can walk, talk and respond to people. He is also moving around.

His son, Randy, is with him at the moment and he is doing a great job. I am here in Nigeria to make some arrangements and concentrate on other things but Randy gives me constant updates.

“Meanwhile, I want to use this medium to thank the media, especially, and fans all over the world for their support. They were so wonderful. Very soon, Majek would be able to speak with his fans.”

Uzoma-Day also implored radio and television stations around the world to play Majek’s songs on his birthday, coming up on March 7. He added, “Majek is loved by many Nigerian artistes. They see him as a father figure and legend. So, I request that media outlets all over the world should play his music across their platforms. Those that can should also dress like him. All this is to make sure that we celebrate him while he is alive. I also appeal to the Lagos State government to give him a house. Majek shouldn’t have to be staying in hotels or paying rent whenever he is in Lagos.”

Doctors gave me 50-50 chance when I was sick – Shan George

Doctors gave me 50-50 chance when I was sick – Shan George

Popular actress, Shan George, has said that she was given a 50-50 chance by her doctors in 2019 after a terrible sickness that not only cost her much financially but disrupted her career. She told Sunday Scoop, “Sometime in late 2018, I had just finished organising the artistes that would be on the governor’s band for the Calabar carnival in December. After all the rigorous activities, I suddenly realised that my knee was swollen. I didn’t understand what was going on, so I just attributed it to the carnival stress. I took some drugs and rested for a couple of days expecting to be up and about in a couple of days. However, by early, January, the pain had increased. I kept managing it by using pain killers, but by March, it had become worse. I then started going to hospitals to find out what was wrong.

“Eight months later, my left leg was almost paralysed. I was already bedridden for some months. That was when my doctor asked me to do a series of tests because I had been on medication since January and I wasn’t getting any better. They wanted to know if there was any disease in me that had been feeding on the medications I was taking. All the tests came out negative and they had to do a MRI scan. After the scan, they found out I had lumbar spondylosis, which is a disease of the spine. There is no medication for it and they told me it was a surgery that could correct it; it was a 50/50 situation. I had the surgery on August 29, 2019, and it was successful. (As a result of the illness), I didn’t do anything for the whole of 2019.

“However, my first son really encouraged me. I was really scared and he said, ‘You know you are a child of God. You fear God; worship and pray to Him all the time’. He told me not be afraid, that the surgery would be successful.

“I was also scared because I didn’t have the finances to go for a surgery abroad. I had just finished making a movie and my mum had been ill for a while. I was very scared of death and not being able to walk again.”

The actress also acknowledged that being in the limelight comes with certain stress. She added, “That is why they call it limelight. One just has to respect oneself, though not like one would live one’s life for anybody. Keeping certain standards comes with being in the limelight.”

I’m sexy despite being a wrestler — Adekuoroye, Commonwealth gold medallist

I’m sexy despite being a wrestler — Adekuoroye, Commonwealth gold medallist

Freestyle wrestler and gold medallist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Odunayo Adekuoroye, speaks to Mobola Sadiq about her career, challenges facing female wrestlers, marriage and other issues

What can you tell us about your childhood?

I am from a family of nine and I am the last child. My dad is a pastor and my mother is a petty trader. I was born in Akure, Ondo State. For my elementary education, I went to Ijapo Primary School, and I attended Adegbola Memorial Grammar School for my secondary education. I later obtained a diploma in Sports Science at the Federal University of Technology, Akure. I hope to proceed with my education after the Olympics in the USA.

At what point did you develop an interest in wrestling?

At first, I didn’t like to wrestle at all. I went to the stadium to learn how to run. We were preparing for a school competition then and only the first and second would be picked. I placed second but they dropped me and picked the winner. The wrestling coach saw me crying and said if I wanted to wrestle, he would take me to the same competition. I decided to follow him because I desperately wanted to travel. Luckily, I won a gold medal in the competition at Ogun State.

How did your parents react when you chose wrestling as a career?

My parents didn’t know that I was competing in wrestling at that time. I recall that, we were getting ready for the Okada Games and I was selected to represent my secondary school. I told my coach that I couldn’t come to camp but would be coming from home because I didn’t want my parents to know. When it was time for us to travel for the competition, I packed my clothes in my school bag and dressed like I was going to school but instead, followed them to the Okada Games. After I won a gold medal at the games, I made up my mind to be a full-time wrestler. What attracted me to the sport was the opportunity to travel out of the country, which was one of my dreams as a young girl. Meanwhile at that time, my parents were looking for me and they reported that I was missing at the police station. I later called to tell them I was fine but my angry parents told me they had disowned me and warned me not to come back home. I arrived from the games four days later but I stayed with my coach. My coach and some other people then followed me to beg my parents to accept me back. My coach also promised my parents that he would take good care of me, and that’s how my wrestling career began.

Compared to your foreign counterparts, do you think you have got the best from Nigeria?

In terms of training, my coach is the best but my foreign counterparts have better facilities to train. They enjoy good support from the private sector. The best part of their careers is that they are rewarded handsomely after winning medals. But in Nigeria, things like that are scarce. We don’t even get a presidential handshake/greeting. The love for the games has been our only source of motivation.

Do you think that more women have taken interest in wrestling in Nigeria?

Yes, there are a lot of girls that want to be like me and I’m very happy for them. Wrestling was not very popular before but God has used me to bring attention to the game. A lot of young girls have now picked interest in the game. My younger sister, Mercy, also wants to be a wrestler. Thankfully, she is a junior African champion.

Are you married?

No, I’m not married. Marriage is not my priority for now. I need to further my education. To combine sports and marriage is quite difficult. However, I have seen athletes combining their careers and marriages. I know I would find a husband when I’m ready. It’s not something that needs to be rushed into. A lot of people say they love one because of one’s fame but I don’t even know who really loves me. It’s something I have to really pray about before getting into. Thankfully, I am a member of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry and a ‘daughter’ of Dr Olukoya.

What are the major challenges facing female wrestlers in Nigeria?

I think it has to do with funds; nothing more. We don’t have money to compete like we want to and it’s really affecting us. But thank God for my spiritual father, Dr Olukoya. If not for him, I don’t think people would know who Odunayo is today. For most of the competitions I partake in; when the government doesn’t want to sponsor, I run to him and he pays for it. However, it must be noted that the challenges of funding affects all sports; not just wrestling.

Do you think that the government has shown significant support for wrestling In Nigeria?

I don’t know who is showing support for wrestling in Nigeria. But as for me, Dr Olukoya has been my only support. He gives financial assistance and other things. My dad and friends also support me. My father doesn’t leave the church. He prays every time and his prayers are really working for me.

What is the highest amount you’ve been paid for wrestling?

There are different tournaments but games like the All African Games, Commonwealth Games (and others in that category) pay well– as much as seven thousand dollars. When I won the Commonwealth Gold medal, I got N2.5m. African Championship, World Championship and the likes don’t pay well; the highest one can get from them is about a thousand dollars or $1,200.

Have you ever being sexually harassed as a female wrestler?

No, I’ve never faced any form of sexual harassment. I think it’s a function of the mind. I train with guys always; I wrestle with them. On the mat, we wrestlers believe we are the same. On the wrestling mat, I have a different spirit. We believe we are the same, so there is no difference (between genders). What really brings about sexual harassment in sports is when one is trying to lobby for certain things. At least, those are the cases I’ve heard about.

Do wrestlers get attracted to one another?

There are some wrestlers who got married to one another. I know about 10 wrestlers that got married to one another.

Do you wish to marry a wrestler?

I don’t want to get married to a wrestler. If I marry one, then we would produce a weightlifter. I have never thought of dating a wrestler; talk more of getting married to one. We are good people but I don’t want. In fact, I’ve never been in a relationship with any wrestler. When I go for competitions, I’m always focused.

I’m 26 years old. People say that a woman needs to get married early so one doesn’t end up being a single mother. But for me, I believe when it’s time, the right man would come. I have a lot of friends that have been going about with promise rings for years now.

I was born into a modest background where we ate maybe once a day. So, I know what poverty is. When I have enough, I would get married. I don’t even want my kids to know what poverty is and I can’t be waiting for a guy to give me money. Since I have something that can fetch me money for the future, why wouldn’t I give it my all? I still want to compete at the Olympics before thinking of marriage.

Are you cautious of injuries during fights?

I’ve never had a serious injury or dislocation during my fights; it has just been bruises. If one is afraid of injury, one would get injured. In fact, there’s a 70 per cent chance of sustaining injuries when you are afraid. Meanwhile, if you are not afraid, even though you might get injured, it may not be serious.

How do you handle male admirers?

If I don’t like a person, I would tell him we can be friends but can’t date each other. I have a lot of male friends because they are ready to help. And because I train with the opposite sex, I know how to handle them.

I receive plenty messages from admirers on WhatsApp and Facebook but physically, I don’t meet people often. I don’t really have time for men. My coach had once seized my phone because I was making calls at midnight. When I started making my hair, my coach told me I had to cut it because I may be distracted and think that I’m now a big girl.

I thought he was punishing me but I didn’t know he was training me for great things. My coach tells me so many things about men.

People think that wrestlers are not feminine enough to be called sexy. What’s your response to that?

If I don’t tell you that I’m a wrestler, you won’t know. Some people have muscles but I don’t have big muscles. In photos, it looks like I have big muscles because the photos are bold and all my veins would show. But when you see me in person, you would be surprised. I have never been told that I look like a man. I’m so proud of my body. I’m not bothered about insults because I was born in the ghetto. Truthfully, if one is a sports person, one won’t look sexy because one trains hard– one lifts weights, do push-ups and many other things just for one’s muscles to be strong.

I once saw a former weightlifter who has three kids now. You wouldn’t believe she was once a weightlifter. So I believe in the future and I’m very sexy.

If you were not a wrestler, what would you have been doing?

I would have been an accountant if I was not a wrestler. My dad used to take me to the bank when I was little, so I thought I would be an accountant.

Is wrestling as fulfilling as you envisaged?

For now, I have tried– at least, 70 per cent. But after the forthcoming Olympics, I would know if I am fulfilled.

What’s your advice to female wrestlers trying to make a name for themselves?

They should stay strong and aspire to be big. They have to set goals for themselves and be disciplined. Your coach knows more than you, so you have to obey him/her. The most important thing is that if you’re right with God, you would go far.

How do you like to dress?

I love to wear gowns but I don’t like to apply make-up. I also love wearing heels. I don’t dress like a tomboy. I love fashionable designer clothes.

What are your hobbies aside from wrestling?

I love singing, driving and reading Godly books, especially those written by Dr Olukoya.

Are men intimidated by your strength?

Yes, they are. Even in banks, when I tell them I’m a wrestler, they quickly attend to me and say they don’t want a fight. But I don’t fight. The last time I fought was in secondary school.

I can’t act sex scenes no matter the pay – Sani Danja, Kannywood star

I can’t act sex scenes no matter the pay - Sani Danja, Kannywood star

We were the reigning kids then. I started in the choir with them (other members of the group) because then, there was no discrimination. I am a Muslim and my father knew I usually followed them to church and they also followed me to the mosque.

How did your parents react to your choice of profession?

In the past, there were so many things one did that one had to hide. But at the end of the day, my parents had no option but to accept my choice of career. They only warned me to make sure that my education was my number one priority. They said if I didn’t have good grades in school, or didn’t go to school, everything would stop. Because I really wanted to dance and make music, I had to make sure I did my best in my studies.

How does it feel being called Zakin Arewa (Lion of the North)?

The title was given to me by the Emir of Nupe Kingdom, Nsi Nupe, in Niger State. The turbanning was also done in the Emir’s palace because it is a real title. Prior to that, I was already being called Zakin, but not the Zakin of Arewa, because of a movie that I featured in. So, when I was giving the title, it was not a new thing for me.

Asides from being an ace Kannywood actor, are there things we don’t know about you?

Apart from music and acting, I do some other businesses. I sell cars, have a photo studio and other side business. I have two non-governmental organisations, Sani Danja Foundation for Good Leadership and the Centre for Youth Empowerment and Development. I’m also an ambassador for different brands and NGOs.

I’m surrounded by politicians but I don’t have intentions of being one. However, I support people that I think would make a change. If I support you and you get into public office, I would allow you to run your office. I don’t support people because I want to lobby for contracts or favours from them. I don’t collect money from them also, so they don’t question me or my activities. I only lend my voice to any course I believe in.

 

How rewarding is it being a Kannywood actor?

 

 

 

I started as a Kannywood actor but the trend has changed. Now, the world is a global village and whatever one does can be seen on the other side of the world. However, I do more of English movies than Hausa movies; with a ratio of 75 per cent to 25 per cent.

 

People think that Kannywood actors deliberately distance themselves from their counterparts in Nollywood. What’s your reaction to that?

 

It is a two-way thing. Things like that happen because their counterparts (in Nollywood) don’t carry them along. I was once opportune to be a board member of a film corporation and I could remember that so many events were going on but they didn’t carry Kannywood actors along. At a point, I had to stand up and speak about it. There was a time a list of the heroes of Nollywood was compiled but not a single actor or actress from the North was on it. That was the time we lost some popular actors in the North too and none was mentioned.

 

 

 

Also, Kannywood actors sometimes distance themselves because of their culture. There are some movie roles that they cannot do. Even if one has a wife or mother in a movie and she is dying, one cannot touch her. Kannywood actors don’t want to act roles that require any form of intimacy,. All these factors affect the kind of relationship Kannywood actors have with their Nollywood counterparts.

 

Is there an organisation that forbids Kannywood actors from featuring in Nollywood movies?

 

 

 

Not at all. No group or organisation stops Kannywood actors from featuring in Nollywood films. Everyone is more or less on their own. When it comes to movies, it is an individual decision. I am strong-willed and I have musicals that I feature women on. Nobody will tell me what to do. People don’t understand that there are certain characters that one has to incorporate in order to interpret movie scenes better.

 

What are the challenges affecting the growth of Kannywood?

 

 

 

Firstly, the movies are no longer as popular as before because of piracy. Secondly, social media has enabled people to post short trailers.

 

Politics is also one of the challenges affecting Kannywood, I’ve been to other parts of the country and I have never seen where actors are so affected by politics

 

Lagos is regarded as the home base of entertainment in the country. Do you wish you lived there?

 

 

 

I visit Lagos State very often though I don’t reside there. Lagos is not just the heart of entertainment in Nigeria; it is the heart of entertainment in Africa. This is because everything about entertainment in Africa is in the commercial city. Even companies that want to run adverts would not come to the North but to Lagos. However, I don’t want to live in Lagos permanently. I only wish to own a house there so that I won’t always stay in hotels when I’m around. The things that happen in Lagos will not suit someone from the north so I don’t wish to relocate my family permanently to the bubbling state.

 

 

 

Why are Kannywood actors less ‘showy’ on social media?

 

I think it’s about their orientation and culture. The way our people in the north view Facebook and Instagram is not the way people tend to look at them in the south. For example, most of the northerners that have large followers on Instagram are females and some are not even actors. People tend to look more at pictures of women than that of men. For males in the north, if one wants to go by Instagram, one would miss it. Our people see social media as a place for gossip only. They don’t see social media for the business opportunities it has to offer. Kannywood actors don’t really like to show the extravagant side of their lives. Even if they do, it would be once in a blue moon. The northerners are conservative by nature.

 

 

 

Does religion dictate the roles you play in films?

 

My religion does not necessarily dictate the roles I play because whatever one does doesn’t matter, what matters are one’s intentions. Generally speaking, whatever one’s intentions are determine what type of reward one would get. If one is acting certain roles to interpret certain things, the religion does not discriminate. One is only promoting one’s skills. But there are boundaries though. A scene where one has to be intimate is not for my religion. For example, no matter the amount you offer some actors, they would never act the roles of cross dressers, homosexuals and the likes. Men should not act like women. I can never act sex scenes, no matter the amount I am offered. I can only hug or kiss in movies. As a matter of fact, I have even done that before.

 

 

 

As a movie producer, what’s your take on sexual harassment in the industry?

 

The stories of sexual harassment are very true but they are not peculiar to the movie industry. It also happens in schools and every other industry.

 

However, I don’t want to address this issue as a producer. I want to talk to the ladies. When somebody says he would give you a role after you have done him sexual favours, does that mean you would become a star? The answer is no. Secondly, if you’re getting such offers, tell other producers or artistes so people would know. If you really want to make it in the industry, don’t agree to such terms. People would not respect you if you give in to sex and tales of your sexual escapades go around other producers. Once you compromise, it becomes a case of trade by batter. In the north, most of the people that offer such are not real producers. Real producers would be scared to do that for fear of being exposed.

 

 

 

Do such things happen in Kannywood?

 

With due apologies, during auditions in places like Lagos, there are people that offer money just because they want to feature in a movie. But when you call for auditions in places such as Kano and Kaduna, the turnout is always small. People who have acted in two to three movies would not come for auditions because they think they are too big for that. What I’m saying is that desperation brings about some of these cases of sexual harassment. In the north, people don’t want to talk about sexual issues at all, even if they happen, because it would give one a question mark.

 

 

 

What are your most unforgettable moments with female fans?

 

I recall once, I was coming back from a show in the Niger Republic and during the journey, our car got stuck in an area that looked like a dessert so we had to stop in a very small village. One or two people recognised us and before we knew it, a lot of people had gathered, because it was a small village. Someone took us to a place where they sold food and we ate. After eating, I was drinking from a pouch of water when I noticed some ladies. One of them asked me for water and I went to get a new one for her but she said she wanted the one I was drinking from. I obliged her but was surprised when the other ladies rushed forward to also grab the pouch from her. I was shocked at the sight because they were all struggling to drink from that one I gave the lady. This happened about two years ago.

 

 

 

How do you socialise?

 

I only socialise when I’m working. That’s when one meets new people from different cultures. I also have fun when I travel with my family.

 

What’s your favourite food?

 

My favourite food is amala, with gbegiri and ewedu. I also like rice and beans. I’m not a good cook though. Sometimes, I can’t even eat the food that I cook.

 

 

 

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12′

The Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Dr. Anthony Sani

INTERVIEW

South-East can’t get 2023 Presidency with intimidation — ACF Secretary General, Sani

Published 3 hours ago

The Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Dr. Anthony Sani

In this interview with GODWIN ISENYO, the Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, says the South-East cannot get the 2023 presidency by threatening other regions

What’s your view of the recent Supreme Court judgement on the Imo governorship election which sacked Emeka Ihedioha as governor, replacing him with Hope Uzodinma who came a distant fourth?

The judgement has explained why Uzodinma who was the fourth in the declared results of election of March 9, 2019 and why he was now declared the validly elected governor of Imo State.

You may wish to note that comments before the Supreme Court judgement had predicted the outcome of the case by saying it was dicey. Even Rev Mbaka predicted the outcome. So, I do not see the basis of any misgiving or fury. I have also noticed any time the opposition wins a case, they applaud the judiciary as the last hope of the masses, and any time the opposition losses the elections, they cry foul and accuse the judiciary of pandering to the executive.

Multi-party democracy works on due process of law and consciously directed bipartisan efforts must be made to build institutions that strengthen our democracy. Efforts should not be focused on disparaging them by making the public to lose confidence in our democratic institutions.

The PDP described the judgement as another gloom episode in the country’s democratic journey…

Our politicians should learn tenets of democracy which thrives on due process of rule of law. Our democratic institutions cannot exist on the terms of the opposition party which is expected to help build and strengthen the institutions. A situation where the opposition applauds the judiciary only when judgements are favourable is not in the place of democratic practice. It is within the purview of our politicians to help build and strengthen our democratic institutions and not to make our electorate lose confidence in these institutions

The Federal Government has just declared the security outfit put in place to tackle the security challenges in the South-West by its governors as illegal. What’s your view on this?

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You would recall when I was asked to react on the establishment of the security outfit known as Operation Amotekun, I said there can be no cavil with the significance of any group of people or states coming together to unleash their synergistic potential against collective challenges for common good, with the proviso that such approaches are within the limits defined by our constitution. I also said the South-West boasts of legal luminaries who can advise the governors on their limits defined by the constitution. More so that the people of the South -West profess to be democrats who are not expected to cause havoc to our democracy. In addition, there seemed to be no consensus among the six states of South-West on how best to approach the issue amid the then reticence of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice whose place in the order of things is to protect and ensure the strict observance of the provisions of the constitution. As a result, I could not make an informed comment on the issues.

However, I said the governors should address the underlying causes of insecurity which include poverty that comes with unemployment and ignorance. I also pleaded with them to pressurise the national government to provide enough number of trained and properly equipped soldiers and police personnel needed for securing the nation. There is no way the present level of soldiers and police personnel, most of who are not properly trained and adequately equipped, can secure the country. But now that the Federal Government has declared the Amotekun illegal, it is left for the governors to accept it or challenge the decision in the court. That is how democracy works. Democracy is never a bull fight in a sumo ring, but contest of ideas and reasons.

Some reactions have trailed the President’s daughter’s (Hana Buhari) use of presidential jet for her photography project. Are these attacks justifiable?

Even though President Buhari did not have to allow the use of the presidential jet by his daughter, considering his simple and humble life devoid of accoutrement of life, the criticisms are not comeuppance. Here is a president who cut his salary by 50 per cent , asked that old vehicles left by President Jonathan be used and who never promoted himself to the rank of General and who is never bothered about traditional titles and honorary degrees that are manifestations of cash for peerage.

Nigeria was recently placed on the watch list of religious intolerance by America. What’s your view on this?

I did not understand the basis of placing Nigeria on the watch list for religious intolerance. This is because there are many hundreds of churches in the core North that includes the North-East where Boko Haram makes a feint of jihadists. Similarly, there are mosques in the South-East and the South-South where Muslims worship without any form of molestations. I am also aware that the number of people killed by Boko Haram transcends religious and ethnic boundaries. In fact, more Muslims have been killed by Boko Haram. Also, the clashes between the herders and farmers are driven by economic considerations rather than religious. And I would prefer we do not give the religious colouration lest we give criminals platforms to stand and perpetrate crime under the guise of religion. I, therefore, advise America to be more comprehensive in the investigations for true and realistic appreciation of the situations.

A first class Emir in the North was recently attacked by bandits in Kaduna State and several people, including three of his aides were killed while several others, were kidnapped. Are you concerned on the growing insecurity in the region and by extension, the country?

I do not think the insecurity is growing but reducing. Recall there was time before advent of President Buhari when free worship in mosques and churches as well as visits to markets and garages could not be taken for granted. Recall high profile killings that prevail before President Buhari. There was fear and loss of hope. But when President Buhari came in, he reduced the security challenges and consigned the insurgence to fringes of the North-East and supplanted helplessness with hope across the North. This accounted for his re-election. His second coming was greeted with incidents of kidnapping, banditry, cattle rustling and increase in clashes between herders and farmers. But I think the government has reduced these attacks substantially. We are praying that the security agencies will sustain the tempo of containing the insecurity lest the sect and the criminals go under ground, regroup and emerge ready for more ferocious attacks.

That is why I saw no wisdom in going public with the stories of government plans to withdraw soldiers from hitherto violent areas, lest the sects and criminals know and attack them. It is too early to withdraw soldiers from violent and vulnerable places.

The ACF once proposed a summit on security aimed at tackling the security challenges under the President Buhari’s watch. How far has the body gone on this?

When the need arises, ACF will convene the security submit. This is because the government is on course in so far as containment of insecurity is concerned. Any short comings are due to paucity of funds.

Has the present government done enough to halt the renewed hostility by the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East?

The Federal Government can do enough only if it has put an end to all forms of attacks by the sect permanently. As long as there are some attacks by the sect, however feeble, nobody would say the government has done enough.

Why do you think insecurity has continued and why can’t FG can’t overcome the challenge?

Insecurity is now a global phenomenon because those who perpetrate it want to use fear by intimidation and threats to rule the world. That explains why America which has 243 years of independence still experiences insecurity. In Nigeria, insecurity is stoked by poverty that comes with unemployment and ignorance as well as introduction of cashless economy that makes kidnapping more attractive than armed robbery which was unleashed after the civil war. If the governments addresses the underlying causes of insecurity and people support the government, insecurity will reduce substantially.

Is negotiation the way out?

Negotiations may not be the best option, but it is an option anyway. Negotiation derives from the adage that if somebody kills another person, he would be charged for murder. And if he kills 10 people, such a person would be examined for insanity. But when he kills 1000 people, he is invited for peace talks in Geneva, not because the world is happy with the killing but to stop further killings.

Where should presidency go to in 2023?

I still maintain that it is too early to discuss politics of 2023 just after inauguration President. This is because such early discussion undermines the place of performance in our body politics in favour of politics of identity. In the absence of national consensus about politics of zoning that is binding on the political parties which are the only ones allowed to present candidates for elective offices, I advise the Igbo to develop their winning game plans and sell to other sections of the country more persuasively rather than the current approaches using intimidation threats and playing victims. This is because democracy is contest of ideas and reasons, and not bullfight.

But the likes of Prof Ango Abdullahi has said power should remain in the North in 2023 but some youth groups in the region are saying power must change hand in 2023. Do you subscribe to that assertion?

People like Professor Ango and me belong to platforms which are not political parties and legally allowed to present candidates for elective offices. And given the fact that there is no national consensus on rotation that is binding on all political parties, there is little we can do in this regard beyond advocacy.

Is it right to drop zoning now as said by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Ñasir el-Rufai?

How can you suggest a dropping of what does not exist as legally binding instrument? I have said that if there was national consensus that are legally binding instrument, Buhari would not contest with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 and President Goodluck Jonathan would not contest with Buhari in 2011 and in 2015. I have also said if there was binding rotation on political parties, over 60 candidates would not vie for president at a time it is the turn of the North in 2019.

What’s your view on the recent increase of VAT and the electricity tariff?

I have read the complaints by the generation, transmission and distributor companies that unless consumers pay economic rates for what they consume, they cannot be effective in generation, transmission and distribution. I have also read the complaints by consumers that they cannot pay for services not rendered. Where do we start? A chicken and egg relationship, one might say.

But I share the views of those who suggest that the distribution companies should provide all consumers with prepaid meters before considering any increase. As to the increase in VAT, while I share the pains expressed by consumers about the increase of 7.5 per cent VAT, we must come to terms with the reality that government needs revenues for delivering of the needed services and infrastructural development. Our ratio of revenues to Gross Domestic Product is very low compared to what obtains in Africa. For examples, VAT for most African countries is multiples of 7.5 per cent just introduced in Nigeria.

What’s your thought on the proposed social media and hate speech bill by the National Assembly?

I like social media because the platforms enable ordinary people to interact with the powerful and leaders. Unfortunately, the credibility of social media is being rubbished by fake news and hate speech capable of causing havoc in the society. As a result, older people are deserting social media to the chagrin of the youths who need it the most. That is why I want some form of regulation of the practices of social media provided that the sanctions for infraction would not include capital punishment.

No one died of Lassa fever in Ogun, says FMC management

No one died of Lassa fever in Ogun, says FMC management

Contrary to the report from some sections of the media (Punch not included ) that a 26-year-old pregnant woman has died of Lassa fever at the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, the hospital management has refuted the claim.

The Head of Clinical Services, FMC, Abeokuta, Dr Fedelis Ojeblenu stated this on Sunday in a reaction to the media reports quoting the Director of Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Mr. Segun Orisajo who reportedly confirmed that one person died as a result of Lassa fever.

Orisajo was said to have confirmed that a 26-year-old woman, Titilayo Akinsola had lost her life to the disease on Saturday.

He was also reported to have stated that Akinsola died on Saturday after failed attempts by the medical team of the hospital to save her life.

But, the Head of Clinical Services faulted the report, saying, no one died of Lassa fever in the hospital.

He, however, confirmed that there was a case of a pregnant woman who has been confirmed of having Lassa fever in the hospital.

Oblenu in a statement sent to our correspondent on Sunday, said “we have a confirmed Lassa fever case in the hospital.

He said one person died at the Accident and Emergency unit in the hospital, but, not of Lassa fever.

He said the PRO was misquoted by the media, adding that the death that was reported was as a result of Dengue fever.

According to him, the death that occurred was as a result of Dengue fever while the pregnant woman with Lassa fever case had been transferred to a specialist hospital in Irrua Teaching Hospital, Edo State.

He said ” Dengue fever is one of the haemorrhagic fevers with symptoms that are similar to those of Lassa, but is quite different in so many respects.

” A pregnant lady admitted four days ago. The other suspected case that died in A/E on Thursday,23rd is dengue Fever.

“The said lady has been transferred to Irrua teaching hospital on Saturday(Initially planned for FMC Owo).

“Surveillance tracing of all possible contacts especially our staff has commenced, while appropriate measures of containment and prevention are being put in place.

“The Infection control committee has already sent out reminders on standard precautionary practices. ”

Meanwhile, some patients and their relatives have expressed fear over the rumoured death of a victim of Lassa fever at the hospital.

However, an early Sunday morning visit to the hospital revealed that some patients and their relatives were apprehensive over the development.

Some of the relatives who spoke with our correspondent expressed fear that they might take their ill-persons away from the hospital.

Reacting to the implication of the report, the head of clinical services, said the clarification became necessary to avoid apprehension among the people.

He said “There is need to avoid panic and anxiety amongst staff and patients while all possible contacts are enjoined to cooperate with the epidemiologists and other personnel to successfully manage the situation

Voter apathy mars Imo rerun, supplementary polls

Voter apathy mars Imo rerun, supplementary polls

Low turnout of voters characterised the Court -ordered rerun and supplementary elections in some parts of Imo State on Saturday.

This followed the removal of Emeka Ihedioha as Governor by the Supreme Court on January 14, 2020.

However, the exercise was generally peaceful in most of the polling units with heavy security presence.

The Appeal Court had ordered a rerun for the Okigwe/Onuimo/Isiala Mbano federal constituency as well as supplementary elections in 18 polling units of Orlu/Orsu/ Oru East federal and 12 polling units in Njaba state constituencies.

The court had nullified the election of Obinna Onwubariri representing Okigwe/Onuimo/Isiala Mbano Federal Constituency and ordered a rerun, while Hon. Jerry Alagboso, representing Orlu/Orsu/Oru East Federal Constituency and Uju Onwudiwe representing Njaba State constituency had some units cancelled in their constituencies.

Our correspondent, who went round the affected constituencies, observed that INEC officials arrived early and voting commenced on time too.

It was gathered also that most of the electorate stayed away from the voting centers and most of the polling centres were empty.

At Umuneke Anara polling unit in Isiala Mbano, with a voters register of about 1300, only 30 had voted as at 2 pm.

The people defied the stay-at-home order by the INEC and moved about their businesses freely.

At Central School Umunachi, ward 003, Central School Isiau Ozuama, Isiebu ward 002 and Umuneke/Anara polling unit 013 all witnessed voter apathy. At polling centre 014 at Anara in the Isiala Mbano LGA , Social Democratic Party scored 14 votes , APC got 106 votes, PDP 9 while All Progressives Grand Alliance got 10 votes.

At booth 008 at Anara in the Isiala Mbano Local government Area , APC scored 78 votes while PDP scored 8 votes.

The same voter apathy was recorded in Duruaku village square 007, Eziere village hall 002, Eziere , Ndioha Owerre village hall 004 and Ndiuhu village hall 006 all in Njaba LG.

Most of the people who spoke to our correspondent on the streets said that their votes would not count, as according to them, the recent Supreme Court judgement about governorship election.

However, a former member representing Imo North, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, who spoke to journalists after casting his vote at his Osu Achara ward, said that he was satisfied with way the exercise went.

The politician said that there was an alliance to deliver the All Progressives Congress candidate, Mirriam Onuoha.

The Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Obinna Onwubuariri, expressed optimism that he would be re-elected.

He said: “I was elected into the house of representatives in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 but the court annulled my re-election owing to forces fighting against me. But I will win this election because we have the grassroots”

10 things you need to know this Saturday morning

Good morning! Here is today’s summary from Nigerian Newspapers:

10 things you need to know this Saturday morning

1. The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has assured Nigerians of high security and level playing ground ahead of today’s re-run elections in 28 Federal and State Constituencies across the country. He also ordered a comprehensive security arrangement for all INEC offices and facilities in the affected eleven (11) States across the country. IGP Adamu, however, enjoins politicians and candidates standing in for the elections as well as the electorates, to ensure strict conformity to the rule of law. This was contained in a statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, on Friday in Abuja.

2. Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, has taken a swipe at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), following its reaction to the murder of Reverend Lawan Andimi by Boko Haram where it blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for not doing enough. Adesina in a post on his Facebook page on Friday accused the Christian leaders of labelling Buhari an “anti-christian”, also accusing CAN of not being honest and doing the direct opposite of what God (the master) teaches.

3. President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Abuja assured that though it might take a bit longer than expected, the nation will surely put the issues associated with the troubles in the Northeast in order and move ahead. Speaking while receiving Janez Lenarcic, the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Crisis Management in State House, President Buhari said, if the country could fight a 30-month civil war and be reorganized, it will be wrong to think that Nigeria cannot win the war against insurgency.

4. Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC) on Friday lamented the latest ranking of Nigeria in the corruption index by Transparency International (TI). Nigeria was ranked 146 out of 180 Countries on the 2019 Corruption Perception Index, dropping two places in one year. The Ohanaeze Youth Council in a statement signed by its president, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to jail persons whose actions have given Nigeria a bad image, including Governors, Ministers, Senators and other highly placed individuals considered untouchable.

5. The Commissioner of Police FCT, CP Bala Ciroma, has condemned the killing of one of the officers in his command in Ushafa, Abuja. DSP Anjuguri Manzah, Police Public Relations Officer, in a statement Friday night said the action was carried out by a mob. Some unknown persons while trying to obstruct the police from arresting one Moses Peter, aka Dogo, a suspect wanted for Culpable Homicide, attacked and killed ASP Eric Isaiah at the palace of Chief of Ushafa in Bwari Area Council on 23rd January, at about 9pm. While describing the act as barbaric and unpatriotic, the Commissioner of Police promised that the killers of the police officer must be arrested and brought to justice.

6. The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Kaduna on Friday explained why some sizable numbers of Cadets have been withdrawn from the Academy and others demoted. The Academy Public Relations Officer, Major Abubakar Abdullahi who confirmed the withdrawals in a statement said, some have been found wanting in discipline and general conduct. Major Abdullahi who was silent on the number of Cadets involved, said that the relegation and withdrawal of the Cadets followed the conduct of the Academy’s periodic dossier on all cadets aimed to preserve discipline and improve general administration.

7. Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, are reaching consensus regarding the best strategy for tackling insecurity in their respective states. Many of the Governors are also settling for “Community Policing”, according to Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State. Lalong disclosed this, Friday, in Abuja during the first quarterly meeting of the Governance Programme Steering Committee of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF.

8. Less than 12 hours to the rerun elections in Essien Udim local government area of Akwa Ibom State, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state has announced its decision to withdraw from the race. It alleged a perceived bias of the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) in the state. In a press conference on Friday evening at the party’s secretariat in Uyo, the state Chairman of the party, Mr Ini Okopido said both Senator Godswill Akpabio whose candidacy has been replaced with Ekperikpe Ekpo for the Senatorial District election and Nse Ntuen for Essien Udim State Constituency will not participate in the elections.

9. Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, says Southwest governors were ready to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to explain the whole concept of the security outfit, Amotekun, and why it is urgently needed. Governor Akerelodu told journalists in Abuja on Friday morning that the meeting with Buhari would have taken place already if not for his trip to the United Kingdom last week.

10. Five young men have reportedly gone insane after drinking mixed herbs with gin fondly called ‘Kaikai’ at Omuakwuru community in Igboo-Etche, Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State. The victims, who are young men from the community, committed the act of drugging themselves when they went for the burial of one of their elders, Blessing Wokowa. Report says the boys started misbehaving immediately after the intake of the root mixed with local dry gin which was prepared by one of the young men. The Police in Igbo-Etche said they have launched a manhunt for the major culprit.

Sokoto Assembly rerun: We are unaware of APC candidate’s defection to PDP – INEC

Sokoto Assembly rerun: We are unaware of APC candidate's defection to PDP - INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission in Sokoto State has said it was not aware of the defection of the All Progressive Congress candidate, Alhaji Bature Lili in the State House of Assembly rerun election to the Peoples Democratic Party.

The state assembly rerun election is slated for Saturday, 25th January 2020.

The lawmaker had on Wednesday defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, citing the Supreme Court victory of the State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, as the basis for his defection.

However, when the INEC Head of Voter Education and Publicity in Sokoto State, Mohammed Musa, the spokesperson insisted that the APC candidate’s change of party has no effect on the election.

Musa said, “The said person remains a candidate on the ballot papers and all votes in his favour will be counted for him.

“As far as we are concerned, his decision has not been communicated to us. Besides, he is still a standing candidate in the forthcoming rerun election in the eye of electoral law.

“The rerun election has no time frame for replacement or substitution of a candidate by any political party.”

Akwa Ibom rerun: Blame PDP for Essien LG violence, says Akpabio

Akwa Ibom rerun: Blame PDP for Essien LG violence, says Akpabio

Akwa Ibom rerun: Blame PDP for Essien LG violence, says Akpabio

Gov Udom Emmanuel and Senator Godswill Akpabio

Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has dissociated himself from the alleged violence in the Akwa Ibom rerun election in Essien Udim Local Government Area.

A statement by Akpabio’s Chief Press Secretary, Anietie Ekong, on Saturday, said the decision of the minister and that of his party, the All Progressives Congress, to withdraw from the election was sacrosanct.

He claimed that there was an alleged plot by the PDP to use its thugs to cause mayhem and link it to Akpabio.

“We have however gathered that PDP sponsored thugs were planning to carry out a sinister plot during the rerun elections and link it to Senator Akpabio.

“Security agencies should be on the watch out for miscreants and sponsored thugs, apprehend them and visit the full weight of the law on them,” the statement added.

It said the news linking the minister to the violence was fake and urged the public to disregard it.

The statement read in part, “The news linking Senator Godswill Akpabio to any rerun election in Essien Udim Local Government Area is fake.

“It is well known that because of higher national responsibilities as a Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio had withdrawn his candidature from the said election. He was replaced by the APC with Obongemem Ekperikpe Ekpo.

“The other candidates, who were scheduled for the elections, Nse Ntuen and Emmanuel Akpan have written to announce their withdrawal from the elections.

“And just yesterday (Friday), the State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Ini Okopido at a widely publicised press conference announced that the APC will not participate in the rerun elections.

“So, on what basis would any sane human being link Senator Akpabio to whatever is happening in Essien Udim Local Government Area?

“As I write Senator Akpabio is not even in Essien Udim. He’s in Uyo. He has no interest whatsoever in what is going on there and has advised his supporters to heed the call of the state APC and boycott the elections.”

South-West govs back Tinubu, Afenifere hits APC leader

APC national leader takes neutral position on operation

• Tinubu’s statement lacks substance, says Yoruba umbrella group

• Former Lagos governor made objective observations – Akeredolu

 

Eniola Akinkuotu, Adelani Adepegba, Mudiaga Affe, Success Nwogu, Peter Dada, Abiodun Nejo, Wale Oyewale and Bola Bamigbola

South-West governors and the apex Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, on Wednesday differed on the All Progressives Congress leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s position on the Western Nigerian Security Network, Operation Amotekun.

The governors commended the former Lagos State governor and promised to look into the issues he raised, but Afenifere hit Tinubu hard, saying his statement lacked substance.

After almost three weeks of silence on the launching of Amotekun, Tinubu on Wednesday made his position known on the security outfit, which was launched by the South-West governors in Ibadan on January 9.

Afenifere chieftains, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Senator Femi Okurounmu, had, in a report published by Sunday PUNCH on January 19, challenged Tinubu to speak on the security outfit, which the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on Thursday last week declared illegal.

Amotekun comment: South-West govs back Tinubu, Afenifere hits APC leader laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; Ohanaeze Ndigbo and prominent lawyers, who lauded the initiative.

Tinubu blamed both the South-West governors and Malami for the controversy the matter had generated.

The APC leader, who is rumoured to be nursing a presidential ambition, said the intentions of the governors were good but the manner with which Amotekun was being set up was wrong.

The former governor of Lagos State criticised Malami for issuing a statement condemning the initiative when he could have simply reached out to them and handled it internally and more amicably.

He added, “The governors stated that they consulted regularly with the police and security agencies. This was the right thing to do. However, their failure to include the office of the attorney general in these discussions is the fount of the current public uproar. This was an unfortunate omission the governors should regret and seek to remedy. However, the conceptual merits and positive functional aspects of Amotekun should not be tainted by this procedural defect.

“While the Attorney General is a conscientious public servant, he is also human. Not having been consulted, he was suddenly faced with an unexpected public announcement regarding a matter within his official ambit. He likely feared the failure to consult him meant that federal prerogatives were being encroached. To blame him for this conclusion would be to blame human nature itself. Though his negative reaction was understandable, it was also unhelpful.

“The Attorney General acted hastily in rendering a public statement that was more inaccurate than it should have been. Amotekun was never proposed as a ‘defence’ agency; the Attorney General erred in using this description. The use of uniform and brightly coloured vehicles may not be the best ideas, but they do not render Amotekun a defence agency or paramilitary group any more than a designated school van carrying uniformed students constitutes a paramilitary deployment.”

The APC chieftain said Amotekun was a laudable initiative, but needed some operational and conceptual modifications or else it would fail.

Tinubu wrote, “As I understand it, Amotekun is to be another set of eyes and ears to assist the police. As such, it is but the second generation of Neighbourhood Watch expanded to a regional scale. Conceptually, there is nothing wrong with this. It does not appear to insult the constitution.

“However, my position regarding Amotekun is not blind or uncritical; there are several organisational and functional aspects of the proposal that could cause some problems if left unresolved.”

Tinubu said Amotekun should have been fashioned to the peculiarities of each state rather than having a regional structure.

He stated that the regional approach had only limited benefit with regard to the procurement and maintenance of vehicles and communications equipment because this wider approach allows for economies of scale.

Why I was silent initially – Tinubu

Responding to those who criticised his silence, Tinubu said as the national leader of the APC, he could not make statements without circumspection.

He added, “Until now, I have deliberately maintained a studied silence regarding Amotekun. Many have tried to goad my swift public reaction. Those who have taken this road did so not because they care about Amotekun or even the people it intends to help protect. They did so knowing this had become a delicate and emotional issue for many. These cynics did so with the adversarial hope that, in haste, I might misspeak or misstep in a manner they could twist to their political advantage.

“Such people are possessed of a mercenary aspect that permits them to sacrifice almost anything, even jeopardise the very foundations of our political unity, if they might exact personal gain from the upheaval.”

He said in the coming days, he would meet with the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who is also the Chairman, South-West Governors’ Forum, on how best to implement the Amotekun initiative.

Tinubu made objective observations – Akeredolu

Reacting to Tinubu’s statement, the Akeredolu, commended him.

The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Security, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, said it was commendable for Tinubu to have broken silence on the issue.

He said, “We have to commend our leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, for his comments. As a leader who loves his people, he has made objective observations in his statement.

“In the comment he could see that the Operation Amotekun can never be a threat to the unity of the country and that the people of the South-West needed to be protected by their governors. Also, all other issues he pointed out in the statement would be looked into . Buy he has spoken well.”

Ogun agrees with Asiwaju’s stand on Amotekun

Also, the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said he did not disagree with the submission made by the ex-Lagos governor.

The Special Adviser to governor on media, Mr Remmy Hassan, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “We in Ogun State support every agenda that promotes peace, security and welfare of the South-West people, including Operation Amotekun.”

The Director General of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, Seye Oyeleye, on his part, said mischief-makers who could not assist the South-West in the wake of security challenges ravaging it, were behind opposition to Amotekun.

He allayed fears that Amotekun would be against an ethnic group, saying it would serve the interest of all ethnic groups resident in South-West. Oyeleye said this during a programme aired by a private radio station, Rave FM in Osogbo.

Tinubu’s comment warmly received – DAWN

DAWN’s Head, Special Projects and Funding, Prince Adetayo Adeleke-Adedoyin, said the comment of Tinubu on Operation Amotekun was well conceived and warmly taken.

In a telephone conversation with our correspondent, Adeleke-Adedoyin said, “Asiwaju’s comment on Operation Amotekun is welcomed. He is from the region and he is a national leader also.”

Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Aare Muyiwa Olumilua, reiterated the state Governor, Kayode Fayemi’s position that Amotekun was established to enhance security in the South-West.

Olumilua said, “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is entitled to his opinion just like any other person. But I stand firmly by every single detail of what Governor Kayode Fayemi had said as regards Amotekun.

“Amotekun does not in any way violate the constitution. It is just a way of further strengthening the security architecture in the South-West. Nothing more”, the commissioner said.

Ex-Lagos gov’s statement lacks substance – Afenifere

But the Afenifere dismissed the statement by the former Lagos State governor, saying it lacked substance.

It said Tinubu spoke in a forked tongue, adding that his statement failed to defend the decision taken by his kinsmen to defend themselves against marauders.

The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with The PUNCH, recalled how the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), visited the then Oyo State Governor, Lam Adesina, to protest the alleged killing of his kinsmen.

He said, “Maybe, he (Tinubu) should have kept quiet. This is not the time to speak in a forked tongue. What is the reason? You are afraid of Buhari?

“In 2001, when there was a crisis between herdsmen and farmers, what did Buhari do? He went to Ibadan and told Governor Lam Adesina ‘your people are killing my people.’

“In 2013, what did Buhari do? He told President Goodluck Jonathan you can’t declare amnesty for Niger Delta militants while killing Boko Haram. Attack against Boko Haram is an attack against the North.

“We are being killed for months, our women are being raped. Now, our governors are taking a token measure to secure our people. At this point, if you can’t speak for the people, it is better to keep quiet. We are not impressed.”

Also, an Afenifere leader, Adebanjo, said Tinubu only came out to react because of his aspiration to be President in 2023.

Adebanjo, who obviously disagreed with Tinubu’s position, said the APC National Leader would not say anything that would contradict the position of Buhari.

Forward Amotekun bills to Houses of Assembly, Falana tells govs

However, a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, said the South-West governors should submit bills on Amotekun to their houses of Assembly.

In a statement on Wednesday, Falana noted that the police had endorsed Amotekun while the attorney general of the federation questioned its legality.

He stated, “Athough I had cause to take issue with Mr Malami over his legal opinion on the security outfit, I was compelled to call on each of the South-West governors to forward a bill to the house of assembly of each state for the formation of Amotekun.”

According to him, in the absence of an enabling legal instrument for the establishment, structure, functions, control, funding and operation of Amotekun various interest groups in the country have continued to express divergent views.

He stated, “Amotekun is not a regional paramilitary organisation but a zonal security outfit being set up to assist the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies in combating incessant killings, kidnapping, armed robberies and other violent crimes that are on the ascendancy in the region due to the negligence of the Federal Government to effectively police the country.”

Apart from those who are strenuously opposed to Amotekun, the concerned people in the South-West who have embraced the security initiative are entitled to know the law setting it up

Therefore, the attorneys general in the states in the South-West should be saddled with the urgent responsibility of ensuring that the enabling laws for Amotekun are enacted by the respective houses of assembly without any further delay.”

He advised the the Federal Government not resort to force or self-help in resolving the constitutional dispute.

Meanwhile, the Osun State Governor, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola, on Wednesday warned against bringing ethnic and religious sentiments into Amotekun.

The Osun Muslim Community in a statement by its president, Alhaji Mustafa Olawuyi,and secretary, Hashim Olapade, on Monday, rejected Amotekun, saying it was sectional and at variance with the constitution.

But the governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, on Wednesday, said the claim that Amotekun was an agenda against a particular faith or adherents of a particular religion was preposterous and efforts in bad taste.

Oyetola explained that no recruitment for Amotekun had been carried out in the state, adding that rather than constituting themselves into opposition of the project that residents of states in South-West all clamoured for, people should all rally support for it.

He stated, “But to politicise it on the altar of religion and ethnicity will be unhealthy, dangerous and counterproductive. Amotekun is a collective response by the South-West region to the spate of armed banditry, rape, kidnapping, and other violent crimes that suddenly became a past time in the South-West.”

The Peoples Democratic Party, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said Amotekun and such other security apparatus in various parts of the country indicated a vote-of-no-confidence in Buhari’s regime.

The PDP said the failure of the regime to take a decisive step to stem the escalated wave of killings by insurgents and the refusal to re-jig the security high command showed that the Buhari regime could not guarantee the security of lives and property.

Amotekun comment Tinubu Amotekun illegal Operation Amotekun Operation Amotekun South-West

Defection looms as Imo Assembly resumes today

Defection looms as Imo Assembly resumes today

The lawmakers at the Imo State House of Assembly will on Tuesday (today) resume from their one month Christmas and New Year break.

The lawmakers had, on December 24, adjourned till January 21 after passing into law the 2020 budget estimate presented by Emeka Ihedioha, who has now been sacked by the Supreme Court as the governor of the state.

As the lawmakers resume today, there are strong indications that majority of the lawmakers will defect to the All Progressives Congress.

A source said the lawmakers’ rumoured defection was to align them with the new government in the state and to help the new governor to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people of the state.

The source also said the likely defection would foster unity and harmonious working relationship between the Legislature and the Executive.

The APC currently has one lawmaker in the state House of Assembly while the PDP has a majority of 17 lawmakers with the Action Alliance and the All Progressives Grand Alliance having the remaining lawmakers.

Renewed attacks: Uncover, block sources of Boko Haram, ISWAP funds, DHQ tells EU, others

 

Terrorists brandish brand new weapons, says military

Insurgents encircling Maiduguri, residents warn

Renewed attacks: Uncover, block sources of Boko Haram, ISWAP funds, DHQ tells EU, others

The Defence Headquarters has called on the international community to uncover and block sources of funding for Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province and other terrorist groups in the country.

Also, the apex northern group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, supported the North-East residents as it expressed concern about renewed attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on travellers on the Damaturu – Maiduguri road.

But the acting Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Monday, insisted that the military had made progress in the war against insurgents.

Nwachukwu was reacting to a statement by the European Union parliament that there had not been progress in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents.

The EU parliament, in its resolution on January 16, 2020, said the security situation in Nigeria had deteriorated significantly.

It deplored the spate of attacks and killings by the insurgents in the past weeks, and called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to fulfil his campaign promises.

The insurgents had also launched several violent attacks on troops, including an attack on the convoy of the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi.

On Christmas eve, a faction of Boko Haram affiliated to the Islamic State West Africa Province killed 11 Christians in Borno State.

It said the action was taken to avenge the killing of a leader of an international terrorist group, Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and its spokesman, Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir, in Syria in October.

Iraq president warns against making Baghdad pick sides in US-Iran tensions

Terrorists in Nigeria blew up the Gamboru Ngala bridge in Borno State, killing about 30 persons on January 5.

On Wednesday, a terrorist group, Ansaru, attacked the convoy of Emir of Potiskum, Yobe State, Umaru Bubaram, on Kaduna-Zaria road and killed six people.

Before Wednesday, the terrorist group last carried out an attack in February 2013 when seven foreign nationals were kidnapped from a compound of a company, Setraco, in Kano.

On Friday and Saturday, 17 soldiers were killed on the Bama-Gwoza highway during two separate confrontations between insurgents and troops.

Besides attacks by the terrorist groups, there have been cases of killings and kidnapping by bandits in the North-West and parts of North-Central, particularly Niger State.

Reacting to the EU parliament’s statement, the defence headquarters spokesman said the military had been innovative in handling the security challenges in the country “in the face of conspiracies to deny Nigeria requisite military ware that will enhance the fight against terrorism and insurgency.”

Nwachukwu said violence by non-state actors was on the increase globally, noting that Nigeria was not the only one facing the challenge.

He noted that the security situation in the country had improved compared to 2013 and 2014, adding that the military had pushed back the insurgents to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin.

Nwachukwu said, “The emerging security challenges are mostly novel and are being robustly tackled by the military and other security agencies. The bandits in the North-West have approached the negotiation table to seek peace and abandon their struggle.”

The DHQ spokesman further said the military were able to overcome the conspiracy which sought to deny the nation the military hardware needed to fight the insurgents.

He stated, “The Nigerian military have been very innovative in handling these security challenges in the face of conspiracies to deny Nigeria requisite military ware that will enhance the fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.

“The international community must do its bit in addressing the sources of funding for known terrorist groups and issues of arms proliferation across the globe.”

Global effort necessary to uncover, block terrorist funding sources – DHQ

Shedding light on his call on the international community, Nwachukwu, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said terrorists usually bought weapons and other equipment with funds from illicit drug trades, money laundering and ransoms from kidnapping.

According to him, uncovering the sources of funding and blocking them are necessary to diminish terrorism globally.

Terrorists brandish brand new weapons – Defence headquarters

He stated, “Terrorist groups do not operate in isolation. They brandish brand new firearms and weapons systems that can only be acquired with huge finances. Without funding, terrorists cannot sustain their atrocious activities. They cannot buy weapons and other equipment they deploy in their activities.”

Nwachukwu affirmed that there must be a global deliberate and conscious effort to deny terrorist groups of funding.

“They are mostly funded with money from international illicit drug trades, money laundering, ransom from kidnapping. Uncovering and blocking the sources of terrorism financing is sine qua non to diminishing terrorism globally,” Nwachukwu stressed.

Rising B’Haram attacks, kicks of a dying horse – Buratai

Nwachukwu said this just as the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, described the spate of attacks by Boko Haram insurgents which had claimed scores of soldiers and civilians as “the kicks of a dying horse.”

The chief of army staff said that the counter-insurgency operations in the North-East and other ongoing operations across the country were achieving ‘tremendous successes.’

Apparently reacting to the EU resolution, Buratai in a statement on Monday, by the Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, cautioned all local and foreign interests to exhibit more commitment and restraint on issues of national security and avoid taking sides.

He said, “Furthermore, all actions and utterances must be tailored towards supporting the national cause with a view to restoring peace and tranquility to our beloved country.

“The recent moribund activity of Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province insurgents is synonymous with the kicks of a dying horse gasping for the last breath.

“The Chief of Army Staff also warned all enemies of Nigeria and Nigerians who take delight in the sufferings of our innocent citizens that the day of reckoning is at their doorsteps.”

Buratai said a review of the ongoing operations in the North-East indicated a renewed zeal and determination by troops to take the counter-insurgency operation to its logical conclusion with favourable outcomes.

Boko Haram encircling Maiduguri, residents warn

Residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, continued to groan over the possibility of Boko Haram encircling the city.

Some of the residents of the troubled town, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said it was apparent that the town had been cut off from the rest of the country.

“For about a month now, there have been daily kidnaping and killings on Maiduguri-Damaturu road. Just at the weekend Maiduguri-Bama-Gwoza road was attacked with soldiers reportedly killed. Monguno is always under attack.”

Another residents, Esther Joseph, said, “In December, I had to look for money to travel by air to Abuja from where I travelled to the East by road.”

‘Govt ensured heavy security for VIPs, abandoned other N’East residents’

A non-governmental group, the Network of Yobe Civil Society Organisations. condemned government reaction to the rising insecurity in the North-East.

It said government ensured heavy deployment of security agents during top government officials’ visits to cities in the North-East, but left ordinary citizens in the lurch.

The group in a statement on Monday by one of its leaders, Baba Shehu, expressed concern about the growing insecurity in the North-East in recent weeks, especially on the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway, where innocent travellers were killed on a daily basis; yet, the government chose to be silent without a proactive measure

Shehu said, “We wish to remind the government that as citizens, we have rendered every support required by the security forces on the ground to curb the insurgency in our state and region, even at the expense of our fundamental rights which have faced serious abuses, but, it seems our lives are taken for granted by tolerating insurgents to continually feast on.

 

“The government should equally remind itself that our priority need from her is security, which it has not done enough to provide, but succeeded in making citizens lose confidence in her sincerity in that direction.

“We are all witnesses to the heavy security deployments whenever top government officials visit our cities, exposing us to unnecessary hardship throughout their stay. Therefore, we consider the lacklustre attitude in securing our highways and communities by the government as hypocritical and the height of irresponsibility and as such we are calling on her to take proactive measures in ensuring the security of our lives and property.”

Equip troops adequately, ACF tells govt

The ACF also condemned renewed attacks by Book Haram insurgents on travellers along Damaturu-Maiduguri road.

The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim-Biu, in a statement on Monday in Kaduna, described the development as unfortunate and worrisome.

The northern group called on the troops executing the war against the insurgency, to not only repel the insurgents, but also chase them(insurgents) out of their enclaves.

The ACF also called on the military to sustain constant surveillance along the Damaturu-Mainok-Jakana-Auno roads and other parts of the states in the North-East in order to secure the road and villages along the axis.

This, the forum added, would assure commuters and villagers of adequate protection.

The statement read, “The Arewa Consultative Forum is saddened and worried by the spate of attacks on innocent people, especially travellers on Damaturu- Maiduguri road.

“Recent media reports of daily attacks by the Boko Haram terrorists on commuters and villagers on the road linking the two states capitals (Maiduguri and Damatutu) are disturbing and worrisome, as many were reported to have been kidnapped and even killed.

“The ACF also appeals to the Federal Government to adequately provide equipment and logistics for the troops at the frontline to adequately confront the terrorists head-on.

“The efforts of rebuilding the war ravaged areas can only be done and sustained in a secure environment, hence the need for the military to be more proactive and employ strategy that will permanently degrade the activities of the terrorists.”

It called on the communities to share intelligence with the security agencies in order to make the fight against Boko Haram terrorists meaningful.

“The ACF once more acknowledges the efforts of the military and other security agencies in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East. However, the ACF urges them to do more by not only repelling Boko Haram attacks, but also chasing them out of their enclaves,” it stated.

4 Advanced Ways to Use Chrome DevTools for Technical SEO Audits

 

Chrome DevTools is a fantastic tool that often goes overlooked in technical audit guides, and by SEOs in general.

Many of us pay for extensive tool suites (with some tools costing thousands of dollars) with the goals of:

Acquiring more data points.

Simplifying and automating parts of our work.

Yet, no single tool replaces the analysis that can be performed by an SEO, applying logic and qualitative prior knowledge.

Outside of the paid tool suite, there are a number of free tools in the market that all serve their own audiences. But one of the most useful free tools for both basic and advanced SEO audits is Chrome DevTools.

Built into the Chrome browser, DevTools has a number of features that allow us to validate and audit some technical SEO fundamentals, as well as more advanced audit points.

For the most part, DevTools is relatively straightforward and easy to use. That said, there are a small number of extremely useful and not-so-obvious use cases that lend themselves to the technical auditing process.

To open DevTools, you can right-click on a webpage and click on “inspect”, or by clicking on the three-dot burger menu in the top right-hand corner of the browser, and selecting More Tools > Developer Tools.

Below are some of the ways you can use DevTools to either identify issues or validate those being raised by third-party tools.

1. Check If You Content Is Accessible

Sometimes taken for granted – unless you’re working with JavaScript, which gets more focus – it’s important to verify that your main content elements are being identified by search engines.

While Google does have processes in place to crawl and render your site’s content, it’s not always 100% and sometimes can fail for various reasons.

The DOM (Document Object Model), which can be seen in the Elements tab of DevTools, enables you to:

Review various content elements including the meta title and main page body content.

Verify if it can be picked up by Google.

A key thing to look for here is the differences between source-code and the contents of the elements tab.

When auditing websites that have heavy JavaScript usage, content – such as page headers – sometimes appears fine in the HTML source code. But if injected via JavaScript, it may just show as a JS block in the Elements tab.

This can potentially be an issue, later verified through performing a site:example.com/page “content you’re looking for” advanced search and checking the cached version of the page.

While Google does have the two-step process for JavaScript crawling, it’s always best to make things as easy for Google to discover content on your site and reduce process complexity.

2. Emulate Multi-Device Experiences

Having a mobile-friendly website, in the vast majority of cases, is and has been an essential component of a successful website for a number of years now.

DevTools can help in determining both mobile-friendliness and in diagnosing usability and speed issues.

Usability

In DevTools you can shift between mobile and desktop through the Device Mode icon:

You can also shift between the two modes using keyboard shortcuts, using Cmd+Shift+M on a Mac or Ctrl+Shift+M on a Windows of Linux OS, while the DevTools interface is open.

From experience, this is an effective auditing method – rather than resizing the browser window to test responsiveness.

In Device Mode, you can change between responsive viewports or choose between different pre-set devices to test your page.

This can be useful in identifying any potential issues if you have a large number of visitors from a specific device but a lower than average conversion rate.

However, as you can see from the above screenshot the preset options list is outdated, as the Pixel 2 is now superseded by the Pixel 4. You can set custom dimensions for other devices using the Edit option.

Site Speed

Along with mobile, site speed is also an important factor in both SEO (thanks to the speed update) and usability.

While there are a number of third-party speed testing tools, if you’re auditing a staging website behind HTTP Auth and blocked in robots.txt., DevTools can be a great solution to testing these webpages.

From the three-dot burger menu in the top right of the screen, you can access Network Conditions (found under More Tools).

In the Network Conditions panel, you can choose to:

Disable the browser cache.

Purposefully throttle the network to fast 3G, slow 3G.

Or add a custom throttle.

You can also select from a gamut of user agents ranging from Googlebot Smartphone through to various Microsoft Edge UAs, and Opera.

I recommend using Google Analytics data and testing the browsers and devices that the greater majority of your users use.

Once you’ve got your settings, you should navigate to the “Network” tab, and see both the page load, but also when the initial markup on the page has been parsed, DOMContentLoaded, both of which are visible at the bottom of the DevTools panel.

For further speed analysis, you can run Google Lighthouse from the Audits tab.

3. Render Blocking Resources

As mentioned previously, from the Network tab you can identify which JavaScript and CSS resources are being loaded before the DOM.

While this isn’t necessarily an issue on all websites, having resources load ahead of the DOM can potentially lead to it being blocked, which is one of the more common and resolvable site speed issues.

These can be identified by filtering for JS and CSS in the Network tab:

4. Check Resource Status Codes

The Network tab also allows you to check the HTTP status of your resources. This is invaluable in both checking if any resources return 404s or 5XX, or if your caching is working as intended.

Resources loading a 200 are fine, as are any resources that return a 304.

304 is sometimes mistaken as a redirect, but in this case, it’s a sign that the Last-Modified cache method is working as intended and that the browser already has information on the resource and it doesn’t need to download them again.

EDUCATION:Why you at times miss the pronunciations of request, address, import etc

 

There are many words with more than one meaning. Indeed, those with a single meaning are going to be rare. Wherever you are now reading this, just look around and consider the names of the objects you see. Then, try to remember the other meanings and uses associated with them.

 

In the sitting room where I am sitting writing this article, for instance, I can see a chair, a carpet, table, fan ceiling etc. We all know the meanings of the words, but each of them means something different outside the home and office environments. The same chair on which we sit can mean ‘to act as the chairman’ in the statement, ‘I will chair the meeting.’ The same carpet on the floor becomes something else in ‘carpet grass’ while the breeze-blowing fan is something else in ‘I am not a fan of Naira Marley.’

 

 

Another side to the power of many English words to mean different things has to do with those that perform the functions of a noun and a verb without changing forms. Many words do so, really. But the focus is on those that exhibit variation in pronunciation when they move from nouns to verbs and vice versa. The fact is that, as far as the terms are concerned, the stress pattern (syllable stress) changes as they transform into the other part of speech. In other words, the form of each of the words concerned does not change, but their pronunciations change. Unfortunately, many of us do not indicate this when speaking, so that we erroneously pronounce both the same way. The stressed sound must come out louder than others.

 

 

They forwarded the request for a car to me.

 

They request a car every week.

 

Consider the use of ‘request’ in the two clauses above. In the first, it is a noun, but a verb in the second. The point to note, however, is that although there is no change in the spellings of the words, when you pronounce them, there is. This is particularly about the stress pattern, that is, the sound (syllable) to emphasise in both. You know, the word has two syllables: RE-QUEST. When used as a noun, the stress (emphasis in pronunciation) is on the first syllable. But when a verb, the second syllable is stressed:

 

 

They forwarded the RE-quest for a car to me.

 

They re-QUEST a car every week.

 

So, always be sure if you are using the word as a noun or verb at a particular time, and indicate the stress accordingly. As I noted earlier, a lot of us do not show this when speaking. It is not good as it is a mark of deficiency in the language.

 

I hope you remember why I did not put ‘for’ after ‘request’ in the second sentence. I did not write ‘They request FOR a car…’ When used as verbs, request, order, advocate, solicit etc. do not need for:

 

 

They requested for two envelopes. (Wrong)

 

They requested two envelopes. (Correct)

 

The teacher advocated for parents’ participation. (Wrong)

 

The parents advocated parents’ participation. (Correct)

 

Back to the main issue, apart from ‘request’, these other words function as nouns and verbs. You must vary their stress patterns too when used in both capacities: address, access, export, import, increase, decrease, record, permit, contest, update, survey and assent. This is the way you should place the stress:

 

 

I need his ADD-ress. (Noun)

 

I want to add-RESS the letter. (Verb)

 

She has A-ccess to the room.

 

She cannot a-CCESS the room.

 

We are waiting for the President’s A-ssent.

 

We doubt if the President will a-SSENT to the bill.

 

Exceptions

 

 

 

You must, however, note that there are many other words that can be nouns and verbs (in different contexts) without exhibiting any change in their pronunciation or stress patterns. In other words, do not overgenaralise by saying that since the examples we have given change patterns, every other word that plays the role of a noun and verb must attract a change in pronunciation. These, among others, don’t change: police, record, increase, import, capture, rally, party, shout, cry, arm, copy and power.

 

Answers to last week’s assignment

 

The governor told the workers to … for the

 

 

fundamental changes coming up in their conditions

 

of employment.

 

(a) BRACE (b) score a brace (c) brace up (d) brace on

 

Each of the 25 men … solid education, good jobs and three cars.

(a) boast (b) BOASTS (c) boast of (d) boasts of

 

The poor … government attention.

(a) DESERVE (b) deserves (c) is deserved

 

(d) are deserved

 

 

 

Those who got all the answers right

 

Ayomide Ibironke, Iniobong Ukpong, Rbert Agboola, Abolade Rasaq, Balogun Adegbenro, Alimi Abdulrahman, Ibukun Emmanuel, Leziga Mitee, Shola M., Ajayi Oluwaranti, Ogunruku Bayonle, Damian Agwu, Kolawole Emmanuel, Ikechukwu Gabriel and Josiah Abu.

 

Those who also did well

 

Adekunle Jeleel, Ayomide Ekemonde, Ishola Oluwatoyin, Sebiotimo Abdullateef, Adekoya Bayo, Uthman Kayode, Adeleye Fumilayo, Uthman Kayode, Bayo Omodara, Ade Asafa, Abimbola Sokoya, Olaide Owomoyela, Arigbabu Adelaja, Toyin Oyewoga, Apostle Ajani, Ifeayichukwu Ibekwe, Shutti Mafuz, Rasheed Salami, James Azibato, Charles Ekereke, Godwin Okey, Khaleed Tijani, Akin Gandonu, Odunayo Awe, Olufemi Oluniyi, Lateef Adio, A.B. Adejumo, David Osita, Garnvwa Nath, Oyekanmi Daniel, olugbenga Adu, Ayomuiyiwa Ayoade, Mikairu G.Y, Ademola Adedokun, John Imevbore, Adunni Ogunsakin, Clifford Brume, E.C. Porbeni, Daramola Oloniruha, Kolawole Kareem, Aluko Oluwaseun, Timothy Olufayo, Oladimeji Sunday, Ibrahim Hamid, Frances Adeniyi, Adegoke Tiwalola, Moshood Afolabi, Oludare Olufade, Iyabo Ijagbemi, Arokoyo Sylvester, Abdwakil Ashafa, Pius Uduhirinwa, Aisha Salimon, Abiala Tayo, D.G. Salimon, Mr Adeyemo Pade, Chinakwaeze Henry, Japhlet B.V, Dickson Ogala, Akinfala Ibraheem, Sebotimo Abdulateef, Alabi Mariam, Paul Olukowade, Kolawole Emmanuel, Chukwudi Uruakpa and Balogun Moses.

 

 

 

Homework

 

Based on the explanation above, which of the stress patterns here is correct?

(a) He has refused to grant me my (a) RE-quest

 

(b) reques-T (c) re-QUEST (d) REQUEST

 

The activist … the establishment of more schools.

(a) advocating for (b) advocated (c) advocated on

 

(d) advocated for

 

Have you … them the hoe?

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Imo deputy speaker resigns

 

Supreme Court affirms Ortom’s election as Benue gov

 

Oxford dictionary adds Danfo, Okada, Tokunbo, K-leg, 25 others in latest update

 

Soyinka attacks Balarabe over comment on Amotekun

 

Full List: 29 Nigerian words in Oxford dictionary latest update

(a) gave (b) given (c) giving (d) gives

PDP Governors Forum congratulates members

PDP Governors Forum

 

PDP Governors Forum congratulates members

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governors Forum, has congratulated four of its members whose elections were affirmed by the Supreme Court.

The governors are Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Samuel Ortom of Benue and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto.

The forum gave the congratulatory message in a statement signed by its Director-General, Mr Osaro Onaiwu, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Onaiwu said that the apex court by its judgements affirmed the wishes of the people who not only voted but defended their votes and the mandates they granted the governors during the gubernatorial elections of March 2019.

He said that the court’s verdicts did not come as a surprise because of the massive support the quartet received from the people and residents of their states during the election.

“The affirmation of their mandates clears the path for the governors to settle down in the enormous tasks of taking their states to greater heights without any further distractions,” he said.

He added that the victories were testimonies to the transparent, credible, democratic, free and fair electoral process that produced them and the other PDP Governors.

Lebanon protests: New government ends months of deadlock

 

Prime Minster Hassan Diab (C) held a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace on Wednesday

Lebanon has formed a new government, ending months of deadlock that have left the country adrift as an economic crisis deepens.

Saad Hariri resigned as prime minister in October in response to mass protests over corruption and mismanagement.

The Hezbollah movement and its allies chose university professor Hassan Diab to replace him last month, but they could not agree the cabinet’s make-up.

The matter became pressing after the protests recently took a violent turn.

Image copyrightEPAAnti-government protesters shout at security forces in Beirut, Lebanon (21 January 2020)
Image captionProtesters clashed with security forces near parliament on Tuesday night

More than 460 people were injured in the capital, Beirut, over the weekend as security personnel fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets at demonstrators who threw stones, attempted to invade the parliament building, and vandalised ATMs, bank offices and shops.

At least four young men reportedly suffered severe and irreversible damage to their eyes after being shot at close range with rubber bullets.

Who is in the new cabinet?

Mr Diab is a 60-year-old professor of computer engineering at the American University of Beirut and former education minister who describes himself as an unaffiliated technocrat.

He was nominated to be prime minister – a post that must go to a Sunni Muslim under Lebanon’s complex confessional power-sharing system – after Mr Hariri withdrew when other parties rejected his demand to lead a cabinet of specialists.

Mr Diab’s candidacy was backed by the biggest Shia Muslim factions, Hezbollah and Amal, and President Michel Aoun’s Christian Free Patriotic Movement.

Mr Hariri’s Sunni-led Future Movement, the Christian Lebanese Forces party and the Progressive Socialist Party of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt decided not to participate in the new government.

Image copyrightEPAHassan Diab speaks after forming a new government in Lebanon (21 January 2020)
Image captionMr Diab said his government “represents the aspirations of the demonstrators”

After more than a month of negotiations over portfolios, Mr Diab announced on Tuesday night a cabinet of 20 ministers who he insisted had no political loyalties.

Among them are Finance Minster Ghazi Wazni, an economist, and Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti, a former ambassador to the Arab League.

There are six women in the cabinet, including Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Zeina Akar and Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm.

“This is a government that represents the aspirations of the demonstrators who have been mobilised nationwide for more than three months,” Mr Diab said.

He promised it it would “strive to meet their demands for an independent judiciary, for the recovery of embezzled funds, for the fight against illegal gains”.

Image copyrightAFPFemale ministers in Lebanon's new government - (L to R) Lamia Doueihy, Marie-Claude Najm, Zeina Akar, Manal Abdel Samad, Vartine Ohanian and Ghada Shreim
Image captionThere are six women in the cabinet – a record for Lebanon

Mr Wazni said Lebanon needed foreign aid to save it, likening a looming debt crisis to an approaching “fireball”.

But analysts warned that the new government might struggle to drum up the support it needed to begin grappling with the economic crisis because it would not be seen as independent.

“The cabinet is composed primarily of advisers and appointees representing the main political oligarchs and parties allied with Hezbollah,” wrote Paul Salem, president of the Middle East Institute .

“The cabinet includes a fair number of capable technocrats, but it does not have any political independence to speak of, and on all major matters will likely operate as a shadow government to the four or five men that still cling to power.”

How did the protesters react?

Thousands of people took to the streets of Beirut in the hours after the cabinet was announced, complaining that the ministers had been selected by the entrenched political elite that they blame for Lebanon’s problems.

Image copyrightEPAAnti-government protesters in Beirut, Lebanon (21 January 2020)
Image captionProtesters in central Beirut were quick to reject the new government

“We want a new Lebanon, a Lebanon with no corruption,” Charbel Kahi, one of the protesters, told AFP news agency. “They are not taking the Lebanese people seriously with this government.”

Another protester, Wael Hassaniyeh, told Reuters: “Just like we forced the previous government to step down because it did not meet the demands of the people, the same fate awaits this government, God willing.”

Some people threw stones and fireworks at security forces deployed near parliament, prompting officers to fire tear gas and water cannon.

Why have people been protesting?

The demonstrations have been the largest seen in Lebanon in more than a decade.

They have cut across sectarian lines – a rare phenomenon since the devastating 1975-1990 civil war ended – and involved people from all sectors of society.

The BBC's Jeremy Bowen asks why people have been taking to the streets in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq
Video captionThe BBC’s Jeremy Bowen asks why people have been taking to the streets in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq

The protesters have demanded an overhaul of the political system, the formation of an independent, non-sectarian cabinet, and an end to government corruption.

They also want urgent action to resolve Lebanon’s economic crisis.

The country’s debt is equivalent to more than 150% of gross domestic product (GDP), its economy has stagnated, and the value of its currency, which was pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, has plummeted.

The country’s public infrastructure, which was already stretched before more than one million refugees arrived from neighbouring Syria, is also ailing. Electricity and water supplies are disrupted frequently and rubbish often piles up on the streets.

UTME: JAMB withdraws 11 centres’ licences for charging above N4700

 

The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board has withdrawn licences from 11 centres for charging candidates exorbitant amount in the ongoing 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations registration.

Registrar of the board, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, made this known at an interactive session with stakeholders in Abuja on Tuesday.

The registrar listed some of the centres whose licences were withdrawn for selling forms at N5,000 as Federal Polytechnics, Mubi; Adamawa; and Adazi-Nnukwu ICT/CBT.

Others are New Kings and Queens Bayelsa, for selling at N5,500; Brightfield Secondary School Delta, for selling between N6,000 and N8,000; A-Pagen Consolidated Port Harcourt, for selling at N5,000 and Influencial School Port Harcourt, for selling at N6,000.

Also included are Emkenlyn Computers, and Nneameka Secondary School Anambra.

Oloyede said the proliferation of tutorial centres was a major concern as most of the centres engaged in fraud and corruption, during registrations and examinations.

Oloyede said charging above the stipulated N4,700 for the 2020 UTME registration was illegitimate and would only destroy the nation; as it was an act of fraud and corruption.

“Many people make illegitimate money from the examination and we will be destroying the nation, if we don’t get things right.

“Prior to 2018, we sell form for N5,000; but the Federal Government considers so many things and felt the money was much and in 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari decided that the cost should be slashed; which brought the cost to N3,500.

“Also, prior to this time, there were unscrupulous people selling as high as N10,000. We now democratised the sale of the forms, to make it available so that it will not be possible for those selling to hoard the forms.

“We felt the banks are overcrowded so we decided to expand the sale outlet, to bring in mobile money operators to cover all the registered banks.

“The effects of the expansion is that some people are still penetrating the banks, thereby increasing the cost of the sale of form, ” he said.

NAN reports that the cost of the registration is N3,500, cost of materials is N500 and N700 for the CBT centres – totalling N4,700.

Concerns as Herbert Wigwe sells 28.8 million Access Bank shares

Concerns as Herbert Wigwe sells 28.8 million Access Bank shares

Access Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Wigwe, has sold 28.86 million shares worth N297.82 million, which represents 2.33% of his stakes in the bank. The transaction, which was done through Trust Capital Limited, was disclosed in a notice filed at the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

This means Wigwe had sold 6.81% of his stake in the financial institution, as he had sold a 4.48% stake on Friday. The bank disclosed in a notification of insider dealing, which was filed at the NSE on Friday, that its CEO sold 55.6 million shares ordinary shares, which he held indirectly.

Details: Access Bank said Wigwe held a total of 1.24 billion indirect shares as of April 2019. The indirect shares were made up of 537.73 million shares owned by United Alliance Company of Nigeria Limited and 702.56 million shares owned by Trust and Capital Limited.

It said the 55.6 million shares sold were from Wigwe’s indirect holding through Trust and Capital Limited

It added that the number of shares sold was an aggregation of sales made on four different instances ― 3.61 million shares on January 10, 20.14 million shares on January 13, 9.24 million shares on January 14 and 22.63 million shares on January 15.

Wigwe sold the shares at a price of N10.80 on January 10, N10.70 on January 13, N10.56 on January 14 and N10.22 on January 15.

Out of the 15 members of Access Bank’s board of directors, Wigwe has the highest stake in the bank, directly owning 201.23 million shares and 1.24 billion shares indirectly.

The additional 28.86 million shares were sold at N10.32 on January 16.

Investors raise concerns: In what is looking like a major concern to investors, the bank CEO’s is selling down his shares just after the bank announced that it had suspended its closed period. Earlier in the year, January 8th the bank announced that it had suspended its closed period which it had earlier communicated on December 30th. The closed period was supposed to last until January 29th, 2020.

Some investors who spoke to Nairametrics on the condition of anonymity are now wondering if there is a connection between the back to back sale of shares and the abrupt suspension of the announcement of the closed period.

While there is no proof, it is likely that as a leading member of the management of the bank he may have seen the results of the company giving him an undue advantage over other shareholders of the company who are not privy to results.

EFCC Invite: Herbert Wigwe was recently reported to have been arrested by officials of the EFCC even though the bank denied it issuing a statement on the website of the Stock Exchange. The bank claimed he was merely invited by the EFCC for talks on how to resolve the issue between Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, and his company Slok Nigeria Limited and Access Bank.

“Given the differing interests of the Commission and the Bank on the assets of Slok deriving from the court’s recent judgment on Slok, the Commission had invited for interrogation officials of Access Bank who were handling the Bank’s recovery efforts on Slok credit including its Group Managing Director.

The share price of Access Bank Plc closed at N10 on December 31, and recorded a sustained appreciation up till January 8, where it closed a N11.80. Access Bank closed trading on Tuesday at N10.05 having opened at N10.75.

Canadian Dollar Outlook Deteriorates after January BOC Rate Decision

USD/CAD Rate Forecast Overview:

Canadian Dollar Outlook Deteriorates after January BOC Rate Decision

A stark change in tone from the BOC from just earlier this month caught traders by surprise, sending the Canadian Dollar tumbling across the board.

USD/CAD rates have entered a short-term reversal scenario, although the longer-term outlook remains clouded thanks to a key technical development at the end of 2019.

According to the IG Client Sentiment Index, USD/CAD rates have a bearish trading bias.

Canadian Dollar Falls After BOC Meeting

The Canadian Dollar endured a meaningful setback following surprise commentary at the January Bank of Canada rate decision. After striking an optimistic tone at the start of the year, noting that the Canadian economy had weathered the US-China trade war, BOC Governor Stephen Poloz effectively took a sentiment U-turn in noting that policymakers were uncertain if the recent slowdown in Canadian economic data was temporary or due to global factors.

Rate Cut Expectations Rise After Poloz Comments

Traders were caught off guard, largely expecting an anodyne BOC rate decision in light of the fact that interest rate markets were subdued: ahead of the January BOC meeting, traders were pricing in one 25-bps interest rate cut in 2020, due for October. Dour commentary coupled with a revision to the 2020 and 2021 GDP forecasts – the BOC sees the Canadian economy growing by 1.6% from 1.7% in 2020, and at 2% from 1.8% in 2021 – has provoked a material repricing of BOC rate cut odds.

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Expectations (January 22, 2020) (Table 1)

According to Canada overnight index swaps, rates markets are now pricing in an implied probability of 64% for the a 25-bps rate cut to come at the July BOC meeting – two months earlier than previously anticipated. Similarly, there is now a 35% chance that a second 25-bps rate cut comes at the October BOC meeting. At the start of 2020, rates markets did not have any interest rate cuts priced-in for 2020; this has been a dramatic escalation in a few weeks time.

USD/CAD Rate Technical Analysis: Daily Chart (January 2019 to January 2020) (Chart 1)

USD/CAD rates are working on a bullish outside engulfing bar today, suggesting further gains in the days ahead. Having cleared out the former monthly high set on January 9 at 1.3103, USD/CAD rates have a near-term bullish bias as a reversal within the congestion dating back to July transpires. A full-scale reversal within the sideways range would call for USD/CAD rates to climb back towards the mid-1.3300s over the coming sessions.

However, there are longer-term technical considerations in play that may curtail a significant reversal. The weekly chart offers important insight for traders, short-term and long-term alike.

USD/CAD Rate Technical Analysis: Weekly Chart (September 2012 to January 2020) (Chart 2)

USD/CAD rates recently rebounded from the 61.8% retracement of the 2016 high to 2018 low range at 1.3065. While the return to the consolidation in place since July suggests a reversal towards 1.3350 is possible, traders may want to curb their enthusiasm for the time being: USD/CAD remains below the rising trendline dating back to the 2012 low.

This trendline comes into play closer towards 1.3225 through the rest of this week; failure here would signify that USD/CAD’s longer-term topping efforts may still be valid. To this end, however, if USD/CAD rates are able to clear 1.3225, we would begin to consider price action in recent months a “false breakout” scenario, ultimately calling for not only a return to 1.3350, but the beginning stages of a longer-term march higher towards the 2016 high at 1.4690.

IG Client Sentiment Index: USD/CAD Rate Forecast (January 22, 2020) (Chart 3)

USD/CAD: Retail trader data shows 58.81% of traders are net-long with the ratio of traders long to short at 1.43 to 1. The number of traders net-long is 8.39% higher than yesterday and 1.82% higher from last week, while the number of traders net-short is 12.62% lower than yesterday and 3.02% lower from last week.

We typically take a contrarian view to crowd sentiment, and the fact traders are net-long suggests USD/CAD prices may continue to fall.

Traders are further net-long than yesterday and last week, and the combination of current sentiment and recent changes gives us a stronger USD/CAD-bearish contrarian trading bias.

United States To Place Visa Restriction On Nigeria, Six Other Countries

United States To Place Visa Restriction On Nigeria, Six Other Countries

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to request for comment while the State Department also declined to comment.

The United States is planning to place stiff travel restrictions on Nigerians aiming to enter America.

Wall Street Journal reports that apart from Nigeria, other countries to be affected by the new policy include Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan and Tanzania.

The countries will not face blanket bans on travel to the U.S but could have restrictions placed on specific types of visas such as business or visitor visas, administration officials said.

The WSJ reports that some countries could be banned from participating in the diversity visa lottery program, which awards green cards to people in countries with low levels of immigration to the U.S.

President Donald Trump has called for an end to that program, saying it lets undesirable people into the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to request for comment while the State Department also declined to comment.

The administration has said its policy restricting travel is necessary to prevent potential acts of terrorism, as countries on the list don’t adequately vet their travellers to America.

Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner

Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner

In this file photo taken on January 8, 2020 rescue teams work amidst debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, killing everyone on board. – Iran said on January 11 that it unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian plane due to ‘human error’. Photo: AFP

Iran has confirmed two missiles were fired at a Ukrainian airliner brought down this month, in a catastrophic error that killed all 176 people on board and sparked angry protests.

The country’s civil aviation authority said it has yet to receive a positive response after requesting technical assistance from France and the United States to decode black boxes from the downed airliner.

The Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines plane was accidentally shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8.

Iran has come under mounting international pressure to carry out a full and transparent investigation into the air disaster.

“Investigators… discovered that two Tor-M1 missiles… were fired at the aircraft,” Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation said in a preliminary report posted on its website late Monday.

It said an investigation was ongoing to assess the bearing their impact had on the accident.

The statement confirms a report in The New York Times which included video footage appearing to show two projectiles being fired at the airliner.

The Tor-M1 is a short-range surface-to-air missile developed by the former Soviet Union that is designed to target aircraft or cruise missiles.

Iran had for days denied Western claims based on US intelligence reports that the Boeing 737 operating Flight PS752 had been shot down.

Revisiting land border closure (2)

It came clean on January 11, with the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh accepting full responsibility.

But he said the missile operator who opened fire had been acting independently.

Who is afraid of Amotekun

Who is afraid of Amotekun

In the past 10 days, about 100 people were killed by Boko Haram, bandits and highway kidnappers in different parts of northern part of Nigeria. The Emir of Potiskum escaped being kidnapped by spending the night in the forest, but some of his aides were killed. However, these killings were not the key issue in the news last week. The key issue was the declaration of illegality given by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, to the launch the South-West Security Network, code-named Operation Amotekun. Not only Malami opposed the launch of the security outfit. The Miyetti Allah Kaute Hore, a cattle breeders’ association, also opposed it.

Interestingly, most of the opponents of Operation Amotekun are northerners whose territory has been a source of serious security concern for many years now. There has never been any plan by the proponents of Operation Amotekun to move to the North in the exercise of their security duties. They will only operate within the states of the South-West. One then wonders why anybody from the North should be worried about it when there are enough things of worry to occupy the person. The issue of securing the South-West has sadly been made to look like a case of North vs South.

Given the level of insecurity in Nigeria and the number of casualties recorded every week, especially in the North where three dreaded groups operate, one would think that every Nigerian would gladly welcome any initiative that would help to check the activities of criminals in Nigeria. However, it is often said that with the exception of the gay issue, every national issue polarises Nigeria into North and South.

Our military are overstretched and war-weary. Our police are overstretched too and unable to cope with the diverse and complex nature of the security challenges facing Nigeria from different zones. And like former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said over the weekend, in his support for the launch of Operation Amotekun, local policing has become a necessity as a result of the “obvious inadequacies of the federal police to effectively deal with these rapidly growing security challenges.”

The former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the added: “The police are more likely to be effective in areas where they are well known and trusted by the local communities who in turn are willing to share information about known criminals and criminal activities, thereby foiling those crimes before they are even carried out…

“In the envisaged new order, states and local governments shouldn’t be reduced to peripheral players in policing and security matters. When local police structures are closest to the grassroots, emergency response will be more effective than the current unwieldy chain of command that renders local government chairmen ineffective when their people are under attacks.”

The most ridiculous aspect of the opposition to the launch of Operation Amotekun was the threat that by its launch, the South-West may lose the opportunity to produce the president of Nigeria in 2023. This came from Alhassan Salleh, national secretary of the Miyetti Allah Kaute Hore. It is a way of telling the people of the South-West that if they want to be given the opportunity to produce the president in 2023, they have to leave their zone porous to make it easy for their people to be massacred. One wonders if a dead person can be president.

It is this sort of subtle blackmail that has made the South-West to virtually turn to the lamb since 2015, ignoring all the threats to their people. On July 19, 2016 I had written an article titled, “Something strange is happening in South-West”, to buttress this strange behaviour of playing the lamb led to the slaughter in a bid to be considered good by the North “to inherit the kingdom of Nigeria.” Some people even added a ridiculous dimension to the debate by telling me that I would not succeed in making them clash with the North.

One wonders how protecting one’s home should equate to fighting with the North. Can a zone be only said to be friends of the North if it does not complain or react when its people are killed? What type of friendship is that?

The biggest threat to security in Nigeria since 2015 has been the fear that protecting one’s people means fighting against the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Governors and other key politicians have been afraid to complain or take measures to protect their people against the killer herdsmen because of this fear. Few governors like Samuel Ortom of Benue and Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti who tried to take action against the killer-herdsmen faced stiff opposition from Nigerian security agencies as if they were the aggressors. Rather than being supported to protect their people, they were threatened and harassed by the security agencies.

This confirms the views of many that the worsening security situation in Nigeria has the backing of government in one form or the other. In March 2018, Lt Gen Theophilus Danjuma (retd.) had said: “The armed forces are not neutral. They collude with the armed bandits. They kill people, kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movements, they cover them. If you depend on the armed forces to stop the killings you will all die one by one…. I ask everyone one of you to be alert and defend your territory, your state. You have nowhere else to go.” If anybody should know about what is happening in Nigeria security-wise, it should be Danjuma, a former Minister of Defence and Chief of Army Staff.

Thankfully, the support for Operation Amotekun has been swelling. Groups from the South-East, South-South, North-Central as well as individuals from many parts of Nigeria have given support to it. Interestingly, those with different political views from the mainstream APC in the South-West have been the strongest supporters. That points to the fact that life comes first before politics.

The words from the governors of the South-West have shown that they are not ready to be cowed or blackmailed into backing off the plan to secure the South-West. The level and depth of insecurity that the North-East and North-West have faced should not be wished on any zone. The regular kidnapping of people on the highways in the South-West is a warning that all is not well. The killing of Mrs Funke Olakunri, daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in July last year seemed to have jolted the governors out of their slumber.

For me, the South-West should take all possible measures to safeguard its zone for my selfish reasons. I live in the South-West. Because I love to drive between the South-West and South-East, I have to drive through Ogun and Ondo states. One cannot guarantee that one would not meet highway kidnappers on the way. I occasionally have projects that take me through the South-West. In recent times, I have been wary of undertaking such trips within South-West. If these highway kidnappers embarked on intelligence gathering on their targets, I would not be a target because I am not a high net-worth individual. But their modus operandi is weird.

The South-West governors should immediately individually send bills to their respective state House of Assembly to pass a law legalising the security network in each state.

The issue of bearing of arms by members of the Operation Amotekun is also a major one. Using batons to battle well-armed criminals is suicidal. People’s children and husbands should not be sent on such a suicide mission. Just as many different vigilance groups are allowed to bear arms, the operatives of Operation Amotekun should bear arms. Thankfully, the police had given support to the group. They should work closely with the police to make the South-West safe.

African countries lost over $2bn to Internet shutdowns –Report

African countries lost over $2bn to Internet shutdowns –Report

African countries dominated the list, with 12 of the 21 countries that experienced shutdowns being on the continent.

The major Internet blackouts and social media shutdowns cost African economies a combined $2.36bn during the year, according to Connecting Africa.

Sudan, Algeria and Chad all feature in the top 10 in terms of shutdown costs, while Internet access roadblocks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mauritania, Egypt, Benin, Gabon, Eritrea and Liberia also impacted local economies.

Overall Iraq was the most economically impacted nation, followed by Sudan and India.

The researchers found that there were more Internet shutdowns in 2019 than ever before, and the 18,000+ hours of Internet shutdowns around the world in 2019 cost the global economy $8.05bn. This was a 235 per cent increase in impact compared to $2.4bn in 2015/16, according to the most recently available analysis.

Top10VPN.com defines an Internet shutdown as “an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location”.

The report distinguishes between Internet blackouts — where access to the Internet is completely cut off with no option for circumvention – and social media shutdowns, where access to popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or YouTube, have been blocked but can typically be circumvented using a VPN.

The report said, “During our analysis of every Internet shutdown in 2019, some general trends emerged. They most often occur in response to protests or civil unrest, especially surrounding elections, as authoritarian regimes look to restrict the flow of information and maintain their grip on power.

“In economic terms, disruptions not only affect the formal economy but also the informal, especially in less well-developed nations. There can also be lasting damage with the loss of investor confidence and faltering development, all of which makes our estimates conservative.”

Sudan had the second highest economic impact globally of over $1.87bn with Internet blackouts of 864 hours during 2019 and 696 hours of social media shutdowns.

The next African nation on the list was Algeria in sixth place, where 47 hours of Internet blackouts and three hours of social media shutdowns caused a total cost to the economy of $199.8m.

Chad followed in eighth place with a $125.9m impact from social media shutdowns lasting 4,728 hours.

Fresh attack on Southern Kaduna, inhuman, unfortunate — El-Rufai

 

Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State on Monday described as “inhuman and unfortunate” the bandits’ attack on Gora-Gan village in the Zango-Kataf Local Government Area of Southern Kaduna on Friday.

The attack claimed two lives while the injured were reportedly taken to hospital for treatment.

Some gunmen had invaded the village market square and opened fire on the youths, killing two of them on the spot.

The Kataf LG Chairman, Elias Manza, confirmed the incident to reporters, saying that the attackers rode on motorcycles to perpetuate the crime.

Meanwhile, the governor visited the scene of the incident on Monday where he had a meeting with stakeholders on how to ensure peace in the area.

The meeting was held at the ‘Operation Safe Haven Sector 7, Kafanchan, the Zango-Kataf LG secretariat.

The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, who represented the governor, said the government was sad over the renewed killings in the area.

He, however, appealed for calm, saying that government was committed to sustaining the peace and security of the area.

The governor also said the government would launch investigation into the latest attack in the area.

El-Rufai said, “The discussions in our meeting centre on security of the state. We will continue to strategise and bring initiatives. As for the recent incident, we condemn what happened. Investigation is in progress. We are deeply committed to sustain the peace in the state.”

The District Head of Gora-Gan, Elias Usman Gora, called on the government to deploy more security to the area.

This was just as the monarch appealed to the authorities concern to reopen the police station in the area.

“Our youths should continue to live in peace and support the government in its efforts to bring permanent peace to our area,” he added.

The commissioner led the state government delegation to visit those injured during the crisis at the General Hospital, Zonkwa.

Diesel-laden tanker falls, catches fire in Lagos

A tanker conveying 33,000 litres of diesel fell on the NEPA Road in the Alaba-Rago area of Lagos State on Monday.

Diesel-laden tanker falls, catches fire in Lagos

The impact of the crash was said to have resulted in a spark and the tanker fell on its side and spilled its content on the road.

It was learnt that the spark ignited the diesel and the inferno created panic in the area.

The Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said, “Upon the arrival of the LASEMA Response Team at the incident scene, it was observed that a tanker conveying approximately 33,000 litres of diesel had fallen on its side and was spilling its content.

“The LRT and men of the Lagos State Fire Services are carrying out suppression activities to curtail the spread of the fire. Rescue and recovery operations are ongoing. We appeal to members of the public to remain calm and obey the directives of the personnel of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency and other agencies on the ground.”

POLITICS :PDP members protest in Abuja, London, demand Ihedioha’s reinstatement

POLITICS PDP members protest in Abuja, London, demand Ihedioha’s reinstatement

Members of the Peoples Democratic Party on Monday protested in Abuja and London, the United Kingdom, against the judgment of the Supreme Court on the 2019 Imo State governorship election.

The protest came 24 hours after members of the party held similar protests in some states on Sunday.

The Supreme Court had on January 14 nullified the electoral victory of Chief Emeka Ihedioha, who was the PDP Imo State 2019 governorship candidate.

The apex court had held that the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Hope Uzodinma, is the duly elected governor of the state and ordered that he be sworn in as the governor of the state.

In Abuja, the PDP leaders and members who wore black attires, started the protest from the PDP complex in Maitama, popularly called the Legacy House, enroute the Supreme Court complex.

The protesters included the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus; the 2019 vice-presidential candidate of the party, Peter Obi; the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe: the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan; and the party’s National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (retd.).

Also present were members of the PDP National Working Committee; the PDP Youth Leader, Ude Okoye, as well as a senator who formerly represented Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye.

The protesters chanted songs and displayed the PDP flags and placards with inscriptions such as ‘We are a united democratic nation, not a Banaba Republic’; Do the right thing. Save Nigeria,’ and ‘Supreme Court, reverse your judgment on Ihedioha.’

Some of the PDP protesters narrowly escaped death at the Transcorp Hilton junction when one of the vehicles in their convoy rammed into a truck, which was also conveying some other PDP protesters.

Some of the protesters were injured but nobody died.

The protest ended abruptly at the Eagle Square after the protesters noticed that some suspected members of the APC had gathered at the Supreme Court Junction.

The APC members were apparently supporters of state governors whose cases came up at the apex court on Monday.

The leaders of the protest decided to stop the PDP members from continuing with the protest to the Supreme Court, which initially was supposed to be the terminal point of the protest.

They said their action to end the protest was to avoid any clash or confrontation with the suspected APC members.

Some of the PDP leaders took turns to address the protesters.

Secondus called on the Supreme Court to reverse its decision and reinstate Ihedioha.

He said the apex court made a mistake because the figures it relied on to declare Uzodinma the governor did not add up.

Secondus said, “We are a nation governed by law; therefore, all we are seeking today is for our very highly respected jurists at the highest court of the land to correct their mistake.

“We are not against them, we are against the error. All we are asking them is to review the error because the figures are not adding up.

“We are a democratic nation, and therefore, all democratic nations of the world are hearing us – the United States, the United Kingdom, even the United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS.

“We believe that people at the highest court of the land will hear our cry, revisit, review, and if possible, reverse, the judgment so that justice will be done, not only to the people of Imo State but for Nigerians who are crying.”

In his speech, Obi appealed to the judiciary to save Nigeria.

He said the apex court’s judgment could adversely affect democracy in Nigeria.

He said, “I was in a minority party, I won election and the PDP did not intervene. I went to court, the PDP did not intervene. I benefited from it. Adams Oshiomhole wouldn’t have been a governor; he wouldn’t have been a beneficiary of judiciary if the PDP did what the APC is doing today. He benefited from it.”

Abaribe also called on the Supreme Court to review its judgment.

“We have only one message to the judiciary, if the figures don’t match, review,” the senator said.

A member of the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chinda, asked the Supreme Court justices to remedy the perceived injuries they had allegedly caused.

In London, the protesters called on the Supreme Court to reverse the judgment on Imo State governorship election.

They also displayed placards with different inscriptions such as ‘Supreme Court, reverse yourself,’ ‘Imolites voted for Ihedioha,’ ‘Imo wants Ihedioha,’ ‘Tanko, resign now Imo for justice 1+1 = 300 Not in our generation.’

Eleven workers killed in Siberia fire

Eleven workers killed in Siberia fire

private sawmill in the Prichulymsky settlement and the wooden shack was used to house workers despite its substandard conditions, authorities said.

The regional governor arrived at the scene of the tragedy and tasked officials with conducting a fire safety inspection in the entire region.

Investigators said they opened a criminal probe into negligent manslaughter.

Millions of migrant workers from Central Asia live in Russia, where they often perform menial jobs for low pay under lax safety conditions.

(AFP)

POLITICS:APC seeks clampdown on ‘dubious’ protesters

POLITICS APC seeks clampdown on ‘dubious’ protesters

The All Progressives Congress has described the protest embarked upon by the Peoples Democratic Party against the Supreme Court judgment in Imo State as disgraceful and senseless.

The party said the protest was an attempt to create widespread hatred for the judiciary and to cause tension in the country.

The APC urged relevant law enforcement agencies to immediately take the necessary steps to arrest and prosecute anyone making attempts to cause chaos and violence in the country while hiding under “dubious political protest.”

The ruling party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said it found the comments and actions of the PDP leaders on the judgment as indecorous, contemptuous and worrisome.

“The disgraceful and senseless protest embarked upon by the opposition party is being done with the sole purpose of dragging the apex court of our land, and indeed our great country into odium and scorn before the international community.

“We also view the irascible actions and irresponsible remarks by the PDP as a calculated attempt to overheat the polity. The PDP has become a present threat to our peaceful coexistence,” the APC said.

The APC argued that the judgment was based on the facts presented by the parties and the law canvassed before it by their respective counsel.

The statement read, “We know that the PDP will find justice served by our courts very hard to swallow because it had become accustomed to crooked manipulation of due process to its benefit and at the expense of the entire system.

“For the records, the APC, through no fault of ours, even as the ruling party has suffered monumental losses in our courts in respect of elections conducted in 2019.”

The party cited Rivers and Zamfara states as examples of elections lost to the PDP through court pronouncements.

Estate residents accuse power firm of extortion, overbilling

 

Residents of the Ashamu Estate in Oke-Afa, Ejigbo Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, have accused the Ikeja Electric of extortion and outrageous billing.

According to the residents, the bills given to power consumers by the IE do not reflect their actual consumption as the charges are often increased intermittently.

The residents reiterated their position that the electricity distribution company should supply them prepaid meters so that they could be in control of their power consumption.

A landlord in the estate, Isa Bakare, said the IE charged him N120,000 for four prepaid meters, alleging that when he wanted to pay, the officials deceived him to pay into the individual meters’ accounts and the prepaid meters would be provided.

He, however, noted that the prepaid meters were not provided as the firm converted the money to the payment for consumption charges.

Bakare stated, “It was a fraudulent act and I feel bad about it. I used to receive N13,000 bill monthly, but it has increased to N30,000. When some of the residents went to the IE office, we were told to apply for prepaid meters as a group. I once applied as an individual and I was defrauded by officials of the IE.

“I had an outstanding payment of N30,000 and I was charged N120,000 for four prepaid meters. I wanted to pay the N150,000 for the prepaid meters and to clear my outstanding bill, but I was told to load the money into my account so that they could remove the money for the prepaid meters from it. After funding my account, the firm increased my energy charge to N30,000 and was removing that amount every month until the money in the account was exhausted. I have receipts for the N150,000 and I want prepaid meters.

The owner of a guest house in the estate, Kunle Ariyo, said he also paid for prepaid meters but they were never supplied.

Ariyo stated, “The energy charge is just too much. Sometime last year, I was paying N10,000 monthly for my guest house; later it increased to N15,000, then to N35,000 and for December, I was billed N75,000.

“I have complained to the marketer to give me prepaid meter, but no prepaid meter was supplied. I was also told to pay N100,000 out of my arrears so that the prepaid meter could be supplied in two weeks, but it has not been provided. I paid the money a year ago. I want prepaid meter so that I can control my consumption.”

The Chairman, Ashamu Estate Residents Association, Mr Jaiye Daramola, told PUNCH Metro that he had paid a visit to the Oke-Afa undertaking manager of the IE over the exorbitant estimated charges.

Daramola said, “We are getting electricity bills that are exorbitant; you can imagine a one-bedroom flat being asked to pay over N15,000 monthly. I received a bill of N38,000 for my house, which is a duplex, and some other residents got N34,000.

“I went to see the manager of the Oke-Afa undertaking this morning and she assured me that they could install prepaid meters in houses within the estate in a day. All they need from us is to send a letter, which they will use to get approval, but she urged us to get money for the meters ready. The executive will be going around the estate to inform residents about the development so that the one-day prepaid meter installation can be achieved.”

Another resident, who identified himself simply as Francis, faulted the billing method of the IE, describing it as pure extortion.

He stated, “For my three-bedroom flat, I was billed N8,698.20 for November 2019, but by the time I got a text message for the December charge, the bill had jumped to N15,336.30. I have been asking what made the bill jumped by almost 100 per cent? Yes, power supply improved a bit in December, but it wasn’t as if we got 24-hour supply.

“Besides, many of the consumers were billed the same amount whereas our consumption pattern differs. I travelled with my entire household to my village in Enugu State on December 13, 2019, and didn’t return to Lagos until January 4, 2020; the only electrical point left on throughout was the security light. So, how come I consumed 670 units of electricity that same month compared to 380 units in November?

“When I made enquiries from their marketing agents, I was reliably informed that what the undertaking did was to use the quantum of power supplied to the estate’s transformer to determine the individuals’ bills. After removing what those with prepaid meters consumed, the balance was spread on the accounts of those with analogue meters, and those without meters, irrespective of the consumption pattern.

“This is fraudulent arithmetic on the part of Ikeja Electric and things like this can only happen in Nigeria.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the IE, Felix Ofulue, said, “The issue of customers saying we are extorting them is wrong. If customers are enjoying better power supply than before, there is a tendency for their bills to increase. We are billing according to the power supplied to our customers.

“The issue of the residents claiming that they have paid for prepaid meters and we have not supplied the meters is not possible and there is no way a customer will use for a meter and we will now use the fund to offset their bills. There is a special account where the customers are paying the money for prepaid meters into and we don’t have access to that account.

“Maybe, the affected customers had outstanding payments and we asked them to clear their bills. I am sure that was what was done to enable the customers to register for prepaid meters seamlessly.”

Malami writes Makinde to reinstate sacked ALGON members

Malami writes Makinde to reinstate sacked ALGON members

POLITICS

Malami writes Makinde to reinstate sacked ALGON members

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), has asked Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to reverse the dissolution of local government administration in the state.

This was contained in a letter dated January 14, 2020, addressed to the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State, Prof. Oyewo Oyelowo.

The letter, marked HAGF/OYO/2020/Vol.I/I., was titled, ‘Unconstitutionality of dissolution of elected local government councils and appointment of caretaker committee: the urgent need for compliance with extant judicial decisions.’

The AGF said in view of the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter that is binding on all the 36 states of the federation, “The common practice by some state governors in dissolving elected local government councils is unconstitutional, null and void.

“So, any system of local government run by caretaker committee is illegal and unconstitutional.

“I hereby request all state governors and speakers of state House of Assembly, who are currently acting in breach of the provisions of Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and also acting in disobedience of the Supreme Court judgment highlighted above to immediately retrace their step by ensuring compliance with the above in the overall interest of the rule of law and our democracy.

“The need to immediately disband all caretaker committee and restore democratically elected representatives to man the local governments has, therefore, become obligatory.

“Mr President and other relevant agencies will be advised further on compliance measures that should be taken in national interest.”

Copies of the letter were sent to the Inspector-General of Police; Director-General, DSS; acting Chairman of the EFCC and the NFIU.

However, Taiwo Adisa, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, said he had not seen the letter.

He said whenever he saw it, he would know the appropriate response.

But the Chairman of ALGON in Oyo State, Prince Ayodeji Abass – Aleshinloye, said, “We are glad with this development.”

The local government chiefs were sacked by the governor and new caretaker committees were inaugurated barely two months ago for the councils.

‘Rivers APC meeting not in Amaechi, Abe’s interest

‘Rivers APC meeting not in Amaechi, Abe’s interest

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Emma Chinda, said the peace meeting held by some stakeholders of the party on Sunday was not in the interest of the leader of the party, Rotimi Amaechi, and the leader of another faction of the party, Senator Magnus Abe.

Recall that there was a heated argument during the closed-door meeting convened by one of the stakeholders of the state chapter of the APC, Emmanuel Deeya.

Speaking in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Monday, Chinda explained that the meeting was suddenly turned to a platform to insult Amaechi.

Chinda pointed out that the argument became heated because those in Amaechi’s faction of the party made moves to stop those insulting the leader of the party in the state.

He said, “The noise you heard in the meeting was because we do not believe in some of the positions being canvassed in the meeting.

“The positions being canvassed there will not serve the interest of those who they say are with the leader of the party (Rotimi Amaechi), which I am one. It does not serve the interest of those who they say are with Senator Magnus Abe.

“Only those who convened the meeting will tell us the interest, which this meeting is to serve. Some of us said if they wanted to make peace in the party, the national secretariat of the party must be a critical stakeholder, the leader of the party in the state (Amaechi) and Senator Magnus Abe must be critical stakeholders.”

Investors regain confidence as market gains N48bn

Investors regain confidence as market gains N48bn

Investors in the equity market have regained confidence in the market following the extension of the gaining streak.

The stock market opened the week on a positive note as gains in MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc drove the All-Share Index up by 0.3 per cent to 29,710.56 basis points.

The market capitalisation increased from N15.26tn on Friday to N15.30tn on Monday while the year-to-date return appreciated to 10.7 per cent.

Activity level was mixed as volume traded fell by 17.9 per cent to 266.95 million units while value traded rose by 17.7 per cent to N4.18bn.

The top traded stocks by volume were Access Bank Plc (37.8 million units), Zenith Bank (35 million units) and GTB (33.6 million units) while GTB (N1.1bn), Zenith Bank (N790.4m) and Dangote Cement Plc (N439.9m) led the top traded stocks by value.

Performance across sectors was impressive as five sectors ended the day in the green.

The consumer goods index emerged the lone loser, down by 3.1 per cent on the back of sell-offs in Nestlé Nigeria Plc and Unilever Nigeria Plc.

On the flip side, the industrial goods and banking indices led the gainers, up by two per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively due to buying interest in Lafarge Africa Plc, GTB, Zenith Bank and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated.

Gains in Total Nigeria Plc, Wapic Insurance Plc and Law Union and Rock Insurance Plc buoyed performance in the oil and gas and insurance indices.

The AFR-ICT advanced by 0.8 per cent on the back of price appreciation in MTN Nigeria.

Investor sentiment remained unchanged as market breadth (advance/decline ratio) climbed to 1.8x from the 0.8x recorded on Friday as 21 stocks advanced against 12 decliners.

The top five gainers were Law Union and Rock Insurance Company, Total Nigeria, Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc and Jaiz Bank Plc, which saw their share prices appreciate by 10 per cent, 9.3 per cent, 8.5 per cent, 6.9 per cent and 6.2 per cent respectively.

On the flip side, NCR Plc. Nestlé, Unity Bank Plc, Oando Plc and Courteville Business Solutions Plc emerged the top five losers as their respective share prices declined by 9.9 per cent, 6.1 per cent, 5.8 per cent, 4.9 per cent and 4.2 per cent.

Analysts at Afrinvest Securities Limited said they expected gains in the stock market to persist.

They said there was, however, a possibility for investors to take profit in the near term.

Australian Open: Thiem cruises through first round

Australian Open: Thiem cruises through first round

Dominic Thiem opened his Australian Open campaign with a 6-3 7-5 6-2 win over France’s Adrian Mannarino on Tuesday.

The fifth seed wobbled midway through the second set when he was broken and allowed Mannarino to level at 4-4.

However, the 26-year-old Austrian recovered quickly, proving strong in the longer rallies, including a 28-shot stunner, to break Mannarino’s serve towards the end of the set.

Thiem sealed the victory with his seventh ace after two hours and 21 minutes to set up a meeting with either Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Australian wildcard Alex Bolt.

Oil price hits $65 as Libyan oilfields shut down

 

Oil prices rose to their highest in more than week on Monday after two large crude production bases in Libya began shutting down amid a military blockade, risking reducing crude flows from the OPEC member to a trickle.

According to -Brent crude LCOc1 was up 41 cents, or 0.6 per cent, at $65.26 by 1116 GMT, having earlier touched $66 a barrel, the highest since January 9.

The West Texas Intermediate CLc1 contract was up 27 cents, or 0.5 per cent, at $58.81 a barrel, after rising to $59.73, the highest since January 10.

Two major oilfields in southwest Libya began shutting down on Sunday after forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar closed a pipeline, potentially cutting national output to a fraction of its normal level, the National Oil Corporation said.

The closure, which follows a blockade of major eastern oil ports, risked taking almost all the country’s oil output offline

However, the earlier rise in oil prices eased after some analysts and traders said supply disruptions in Libya will be short-lived and could be offset by other producers, limiting the impact on global markets.

“The oil market remains well supplied with ample stocks and a healthy spare capacity cushion. In other words, the bullish price impact may prove to be fleeting,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

“We expect the current scale of outages to be fairly short-lived … as there is limited upside for Haftar to slow the country’s oil revenues to a trickle,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects.

“The current closures are clearly a power play aimed at boosting Haftar’s leverage amid international efforts to broker peace in the country.”

Foreign powers agreed at a summit in Berlin on Sunday to shore up a shaky truce in Libya which has been in turmoil since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

If Libyan exports are halted for any sustained period, storage tanks will fill within days and production will slow to 72,000 barrels per day (bpd), an NOC spokesman said. Libya has been producing around 1.2 million bpd recently.

“A prolonged disruption from Libya would be enough to swing the global oil market from surplus to deficit in 1Q20,” said ING analyst Warren Patterson, referring to the first quarter of 2020.

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday the European Union will discuss all ways to uphold a formal ceasefire in Libya but any peace settlement would need real EU support to make it hold.

Market activity was thin on Monday on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the United States.

UK PM says Britain will be more open to Africans after Brexit

Some African leaders with Boris Johnson (middle down) at the summit

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, told African leaders Monday that Britain would be more open to migrants from Africa after Brexit.

Johnson, who made this known as he hosted the first UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, told African leaders, including presidents Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Major General Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria that he wanted to make Britain their “investment partner of choice”.

The summit holds less than two weeks before Britain leaves the European Union.

After highlighting all that Britain has to offer, he said Brexit would mean an end to preferential treatment for EU migrants.

“Our (immigration) system is becoming fairer and more equal between all our global friends and partners, treating people the same, wherever they come from.

“By putting people before passports we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be,” he said.

On his part, Buhari said Brexit offered an opportunity for increased free trade across the Commonwealth, adding that visas were a key issue.

Buhari said, “While many in the African diaspora enjoy considerable benefits from living in the West, they do not always feel at the heart of the community.

“A renewed sense that there are ties that bind us through the Commonwealth, and a concerted effort to grow those links through trade, could act as a spur to encourage togetherness and the certainty of belonging.”

UPDATED: Five die, 39 vehicles razed, 150 people displaced in Lagos pipeline explosion

The number of deaths recorded in the pipeline explosion that rocked the Ekoro area of Abule-Egba, Lagos State, on Sunday, January 19, 2020, has increased to five.

UPDATED: Five die, 39 vehicles razed, 150 people displaced in Lagos pipeline explosion

The explosion was reportedly caused by the activities of vandals, who ruptured the pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in the area in a bid to steal fuel.

The explosion was said to have occurred during the operation around 8pm and sent shivers down the spines of residents who scampered for safety.

According to the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, five fatalities involving three adult males, one female, and a five-year-old child were recorded.

He stated that no fewer than 20 people who sustained minor injuries were given on the spot treatment, adding that the fire incident had displaced over 150 people.

Oke-Osanyintolu said, “Five fatalities including three adult males, one adult female, and a five-year-old child were discovered. Also, 20 people were treated for minor injuries and discharged at the scene, while 150 people including children were displaced.

“The buildings affected are a storey building at No 18 Musa Erimo Street and four buildings, including a storey building and three bungalows on No 1, No 2, No 7 and No 20, Joel Nnadede Street, in Ekoro. Also, on Hamed Sodiq Street, a two-storey building on No 2 and two bungalows on No 4 and No 8 were affected, while on the NNPC power line road, three bungalows on No 45, No 47 and No 49 were razed.

“17 shops and 39 vehicles including 33 trucks, three cars and three tricycles were also affected. We will continue to keep members of the public abreast with updates.”

UPDATED: Five die, 39 vehicles razed, 150 people displaced in Lagos pipeline explosion

Nigerians slam EFCC for arresting 89 youths at Ibadan club

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has come under criticism from a large section of Nigerians for raiding Club 360 in Ibadan last Friday and arresting 89 youths in the process.

The EFCC had posted pictures of the suspects on its Twitter and Facebook pages, on Monday morning, alleging that all the 89 youths in the club were alleged internet fraudsters otherwise known as ‘Yahoo boys’.

The EFCC wrote, “The Ibadan zonal office of EFCC has arrested 89 suspected internet fraudsters at the popular Club 360 located on the Akala Expressway, Oluyole Extension in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

“In preparation for the late-night operation which took place over the weekend, officers of the commission had carried out series of discreet surveillance on the nature of activities going on in the nightclub which according to intelligence gathered, the said club was notorious for harbouring yahoo-yahoo boys.”

As of 12.30 pm, the EFCC was trending at number two on Twitter.

Most respondents wondered how the EFCC was sure that all 89 persons arrested at the club were fraudsters.

They wondered why the EFCC had to arrest the club goers and start searching through their phones.

According to some, who claimed to be eyewitnesses, the EFCC operatives also arrested the bartenders as well as customers of the hotel located inside the same compound as the club.

@Animasaun_a tweeted, “Anytime I’m in Ibadan, I always go to this spot to hang out because it is very close to my parents’ house. Had it been that I was in Ibadan over the weekend, I would have been part of these guys and I’m not a Yahoo boy. You have also killed someone’s business. EFCC, this is wrong.”

@Ditoman2 also tweeted, “I do go there as well. Assuming I was there, they’ll tag me a Yahoo boy by now. Nigeria is a zoo.”

@TheOgbonnna advised the EFCC to stop acting like the Shariah Police, Hisbah, by raiding night clubs and branding everyone who goes there a criminal.

“It is wrong for the EFCC to run down a legitimately run business all in the name of a raid. It is wrong. EFCC is not Hisbah,” he tweeted.

@Olikoko61 also tweeted, “It is very wrong. I was at that place last week with a friend and his girlfriend from the United States. This habit of busting public places is barbaric. Gather your Intel and go for the exact person.”

On Facebook, followers of the EFCC did not spare the anti-graft agency for what they termed crude methods of investigations.

Simon Kilex wrote, “This is how you people go around harassing innocent people in this country. Nigerian security agencies are still living in the past. Imagine security personnel just arresting someone simply because he or she goes for a party. Complete nonsense.”

Emmanuel Collins, who commended the commission for its fight against corruption, wondered how possible it was for everyone at a party could be a fraudster.

“EFCC, I commend your good work and I urge the agency to keep the flag flying. However, I am at a loss as to how 89 Yahoo boys converged on a night club for them to be arrested,” he wrote.

“It is media trials like this that made Naira Marley popular and famous in the eyes of his followers. EFCC, there is a need to change your tactics,” Prince Francis Chidi Chilaka wrote.

PDP protest attempt to take over Buhari’s govt – Uzodinma

PDP protest attempt to take over Buhari’s govt – Uzodinma

The Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, on Monday, said the brains behind the Monday protest of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abuja were plotting to take over the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

Uzodinma said this while addressing some members of the All Progressives Congress, who were at the state Government House in Owerri, the state capital, on a solidarity match.

The governor claimed the PDP protesters nursed unhealthy motive by protesting a matter concerning Imo State in Abuja and other parts of the country.

Uzodinma said, “The motive of those who are wearing black, protesting around the country is not about the Imo State governorship election. If it is the Imo State governorship election, why are PDP members protesting in Abuja, Bayelsa and everywhere in the country? Why are they not protesting only in Imo State?

“PDP wants to overthrow the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. I, therefore, use this medium to call on all the security agencies to begin an investigation into the organised synchronised national crisis, which the PDP is plotting.

“I want you to keep supporting the government of President Buhari. You all know that I was the frontrunner candidate during the 2019 governorship election in Imo State. I did not challenge the election on the grounds of violence. I challenged the election on the grounds that INEC refused to accept the results of 388 polling units it accepted at the collation centres.

“The Tribunal did not understand our petition. The Appeal Court gave us a minority judgement, but the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, understood our petition and gave judgement in our favour.

“I am already the governor and I am in charge of Imo State Government House. Why would anybody challenge the integrity and wisdom of the Supreme Court justices? The Supreme Court justices gave us a majority judgement. The seven justices of the Supreme Court delivered their judgement in our favour.

“The same God who made me governor will sustain me. Nobody becomes governor without God’s approval. Don’t be afraid. I am in charge here and we will keep supporting and praying for our president to succeed

$25,000 extortion saga: EFCC confronts Shehu Sani with 13 audio tapes of alleged deal with bizman

 

The row over alleged extortion of $25,000 by Sen. Shehu Sani is almost ending following the retrieval of 13 audio tapes of the chats between the embattled Senator and the Chairman of ASD Motors, Alhaji Sani Dauda.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has played some of the bribe chat tapes to Sen. Sani in the presence of his lawyers, Barrister Audu Mohammed Lawal, and Barrister Glory Peter.

The Senator admitted that the voice in the tapes was his but he alleged that some aspects of the recordings have been deleted.

It was the first time in four weeks that the EFCC had a breakthrough in the investigation of the Senator and it wasted no time in presenting its evidence to the suspect.

According to findings, the EFCC team met with Sani and his lawyers on Wednesday where the 13 audio tapes were made available to prove that there was a bribe deal.

But the session could only go through five tapes when Sani allegedly “recanted.”

A source said: “A conversation between Sani and the complainant has introduced another dimension to his claims. At a meeting that took place at the Jabi office of the Commission on Wednesday, Sen. Sani, who had hitherto denied receiving any bribe money from Alhaji Sani Dauda, Chairman of ASD Motors, recanted his words after listening to five of the 13 voice recordings of his conversation and that of the chairman of ASD Motors, Alhaji Sani Dauda.

“After listening to the first of the 13 audio recordings, the Senator reportedly said ‘Do you have another one?’

“By the time the second and the third were played to him in the presence of his lawyers, Barrister Audu Mohammed Lawal, and Barrister Glory Peter, the embattled Senator said: “I am okay with this. I am okay with this”.

“When asked if he is familiar with the voices in the audio, he said: “Yes, that is my voice except that some aspects of the recording have been deleted”.

“Asked whether the EFCC or the complainant did the deletion, Sani said: “I am not saying you people deleted it. But that is not the complete conversation.”

The source gave further insights into what transpired at the session between the EFCC detectives, Sani and his lawyers.

The source added: “In the voice recording, Shehu Sani could be heard in Hausa language pleading with the complainant that he should do everything to make sure they resolve the issue because of their reputation.

“He was quoted as saying in one of the tapes as follows: ‘You have a family and I have a family; think of the way people will see the matter even though it is not public money’, he was alleged to have pleaded in Hausa.

“I believe you already discussed with Bashir; Bashir must have given you his personal advice on what we need to do so that this matter is buried here.’

In another instance, Senator Sani was said to also admitted that the money, $25,000, was “bribe money”.

He allegedly had two meetings with the complainant: one, at the complainant’s house and the second at the complainant’s office after the Muslim “Isha”(Dark night) prayers.

The source said: “Contrary to Senator Sani’s public posturing of his innocence in the alleged crime, he reportedly begged profusely after listening to the recordings that the matter should not be taken further to the media.”

Responding to enquiries, the acting Head of Media, Tony Orilade, said: “All I can say is that the investigation of Senator Shehu Sani is ongoing and he would soon be charged to court.”

In a leak from his detention cell, the embattled Senator has insisted that he is innocent of the allegation of extortion of $25,000.

He said: “On his part, Sen. Sani said: ‘Alhaji Sani Dauda and his hidden sponsors have not been able to provide any proof of their allegations.

“I’m unjustly incarcerated on the ground of an arranged two-page petition backed with no evidential or documentary proof.

“The bribe story is a heap of blatant lies and outright falsehood concocted and fabricated, using a front and the EFCC to premiere a state drama.

“ASD is a barely educated front for a state mission. Criminalizing me, or “framing me”, will not silence me, bend me or compromise me.”

He said he had never met with the Chief Justice of Nigeria or any judge or judges directly or indirectly to offer any form of gratification from Alhaji Sani Dauda.

He added: “They claim extortion and here they are closing my bank accounts, searching my houses and offices and demanding I declare my assets of which I have already done that at the CCB last year when I left the Senate.

“The extortion allegation is nothing but a wholesale falsehood, packaged in a phantom anti-graft facade to taint, stain and mute me. That shall never happen if I am alive.”

We thought forex trading would bring us fortunes — N233m fraud victims

We thought forex trading would bring us fortunes — N233m fraud victims

About 354 forex trade investors allegedly defrauded by an ex-banker, Seye Onigbinde, are currently embittered after their investments went down the drain.

Some of them, who spoke with City Round on Friday, said they were convinced to put their money in the scheme, thinking it would bring fortunes.

Onigbinde is being investigated by the police at the Area F Command, Ikeja, Lagos, led by ACP Akinbayo Olasoji, over a sum of N574.2m.

He allegedly obtained the sum from his unsuspecting victims while promising them a monthly interest of 20 to 30 per cent.

According to the police, the suspect claimed to have paid principal and interest to the tune of N482.3m, remaining an outstanding of N233.4m.

It was gathered that the suspect operated the scheme as a business venture named Blueprint Business Development and Consulting located on Hughes Street, Alagomeji, Yaba.

The police spokesperson in the state, DSP Bala Elkana, while confirming Onigbinde’s arrest, had said, “He collected this money from these individuals with a promise of extraordinary gains to those willing to invest in the scheme which he claimed was built on lucrative trading in forex trading, Bitcoin and shares purchase from four international brokers.

“This get-rich-quick scheme attracted gullible and greedy investors, who received the expected high returns. The more investors his scheme attracted, he created a business and used agents to find more and more investors.”

Our correspondent gathered that the victims include bankers, business owners, and civil servants with individual investment ranging from N1m to N10m.

Some of them, who spoke with City Round and identified themselves only by their first names, said Onigbinde dashed their hopes.

A worker at a consulting firm, Oyinlade, said her current investment is N1.3m, adding that a friend linked her with Onigbinde in February 2019.

“I started with N200,000 and I got 20 per cent interest. I reinvested all the money and added N50,000. I got more money and reinvested. I thought it would yield a fortune and I increased it to N1.3m in July 2019. The money was supposed to be due for payment on September 29.

“He (Onigbinde) contacted me in October and begged that I should give him few days. Later, he promised to pay me in October. Afterwards, he shifted it to November. He said he would spread the payments across three months. That was the last conversation we had until January when he sent me an email, stating that I should give him one year to sort himself out.”

Another investor, Desola, who lost N2.3m, said she was convinced to invest in the scheme having heard the success stories of some of her friends.

She recalled, “I invested in May 2019. I was supposed to receive payments from October to January with interest. I was expecting 30 per cent interest. Together with my principal, I thought I would get something big at the end of the day.

“When he could not pay me in October, he started making promises. The last promise he made was that he would pay me in January. It was when I read about his arrest in the newspapers that I knew have been defrauded.”

Hassan, one of the agents working for the prime suspect, said his friend, one Victor, put N5m in the failed transactions, adding that Victor had wanted to use his principal and interest to execute a project in December 2019.

Hassan, a bank official, said, “Seye (Onigbinde) and I used to work at the same bank until 2016 when I joined another bank. Sometime in January 2019, he told me he was into forex trading. He persuaded me to invest and said I would get 20 to 30 per cent interest on my principal. He also asked me to refer friends to him. I introduced a friend called Victor to him.

“Three months later, he approached me again and I gave it a try. I first invested N200,000 and got 20 per cent interest at the end of the month. I then invested N1m and got 30 per cent interest.

“I then introduced my brother to Seye. My brother invested N1m in June 2019. He received his principal and 30 per cent interest at the end of the month. Two months later, he invested N2m but he didn’t get any interest.

“Victor initially invested N1m. He got the interest and increased his investment to N5m. He got the interest for some months. I sensed there was a problem with the scheme in October 2019 when he (Seye) started delaying in paying interest.

“I advised my brother and Victor that we should pull out of the transactions. My brother agreed and we collected our principal but Victor said he would continue. He said he had a project he wanted to use the money for in December.”

Adelaja, a businessman whose N2m was trapped, said one of Onigbinde’s agents identified as Peace persuaded him to stake his money.

“She convinced me and I invested N2m. She had been telling me about the man (Onigbinde) for some time. She said the business was very reliable. I took my time to think about it. In November, I asked her if she was sure I would get 30 per cent interest on my investment and she said yes. That was when I decided to invest. I have a strong feeling she connived with him.”

Onigbinde declined to speak with our correspondent, claiming that he had told the police everything about the case.

Kidnapping: Katsina imposes curfew on use of motorcycles, tricycles

Kidnapping: Katsina imposes curfew on use of motorcycles, tricycles

Gov. Aminu Masari of Katsina State has signed an Executive Order prohibiting the use of motorcycles and tricycles between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. across the state.

The state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Alhaji Ahmed El-Marzuq, who announced this on Wednesday in Katsina, said the dusk-to-dawn curfew takes effect from Jan. 20.

He explained that motorcycles and tricycles will be allowed to operate in the state within 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. due to the rate of kidnapping in the state.

He said, “Section 5, subsection 2 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, conferred on the governor power to sign the order.

“the order is Motorcycle and Tricycle Restriction Movement 2020. Under the order, he has prohibited the movement of motorcycles statewide from the hours of 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., with effect from 20th January 2020.

“This order shall apply to all and sundry in the state.

“However, there are exceptions. The order shall not apply to the members of the armed forces, the police, other paramilitary agencies like the FRSC, civil defence, immigration, customs and other security agents,” he said.

He said that it was pertinent for all and sundry to obey the order, warning that violators would be jailed for up to one year with the option of fine or both as prescribed by the Penal Code.

El-marzuq said that the measure was aimed at protecting the lives and property of people of the state.

“Most of the kidnappings and other criminal activities are perpetrated within these hours using this means of transportation.

“People are not restricted to move, they can use motor vehicles.

“By the time the situation normalises, the order will be reviewed,” he said

Meghan Markle makes first public appearance since shock announcement

Meghan Markle makes first public appearance since shock announcement

Meghan Markle has made her first public appearance since she and Prince Harry sensationally decided to quit as full-time royals, visiting two women’s charities in Vancouver as British media reported she could face her father in court.

Harry and Meghan are in the middle of a storm after making their bombshell announcement last week — before they had discussed the plans with Queen Elizabeth II.

That followed Meghan launching legal action against the Mail on Sunday’s publishers in October after the tabloid printed a handwritten letter it had been shown by Thomas Markle.

The weekly newspaper has now issued its defence, leading to the possibility that Meghan and her father could be called to testify against each another.

A crisis summit at Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham country residence on Monday was missed by Meghan, who was in Canada — where she and Harry plan to live part-time.

The Duchess of Sussex on Tuesday visited the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, a non-profit organization that provides support to women who are fleeing violence, dealing with homelessness or living in poverty.

Meghan met with the director and a handful of frontline staff to discuss the challenges women in the neighbourhood are facing.

“She was very interested in what goes on for women in this community, who we all know are marginalized women who’ve faced many challenges and barriers to their wellbeing,” said Kate Gibson, the acting executive director of the centre.

The Vancouver-based non-profit Justice for Girls also said Meghan had stopped by, tweeting photos on Wednesday of the duchess during her visit.

“Yesterday, The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle visited to discuss climate justice for girls and the rights of Indigenous peoples,” said the group, which helps teenage girls who live in poverty.

Final details on how Harry and Meghan’s new roles might work are due in the coming days.

The prospect of a high court showdown only adds to the pressure on the couple.

Harry, sixth in line to the throne, married US former television actress Meghan at Windsor Castle in May 2018.

Her father, an award-winning former television lighting director now living in Mexico, did not attend the wedding after staging paparazzi photographs and suffering chest pains in the build-up.

– Troubled relationship –

The letter was written in August 2018 and published in February 2019 shortly after the US magazine People ran a story citing Meghan’s friends talking about the letter, which shed light on her troubled relationship with her estranged father.

Meghan filed a claim in October last year against publishers Associated Newspapers over the alleged misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

In an accompanying statement, Harry lashed out at negative press coverage, claiming British tabloids had mounted a “ruthless” and “malicious” attempt to vilify his wife.

Newly-revealed legal documents outlining The Mail on Sunday’s defence show they will rely on evidence from Markle, including that he “had a weighty right to tell his version of what had happened”.

The paper’s sister publication the Daily Mail said on its front page Wednesday that Markle would be prepared to give evidence against his daughter.

The Mail on Sunday also argues that a “one-sided” article in the US magazine People meant the letter’s existence was already in the public domain.

It could be months before any trial takes place.

More broadly, online and television debate has raged as to whether tabloid coverage had been racist towards Meghan.

Departing Labour main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn “agrees” there were “to use Prince Harry’s words, racial undertones” in Meghan’s press coverage, his spokesman said.

Harry, 38, is due to resurface at Buckingham Palace on Thursday to host the 2021 Rugby League World Cup draw.

He and Meghan, 38, want to step back as senior royals, work towards financial independence from the British taxpayer, split their time between the UK and Canada and ditch long-established pooled media access arrangements for royal engagements.

Despite Canadians’ affection for the royal couple, a large majority (73 per cent) do not wish to foot security or other costs for their relocation, according to an Angus Reid Institute survey.

Canadian media have estimated the costs of protecting Prince Harry and Meghan at approximately Can$1.7 million (US$1.3 million) per year.

ISWAP free five kidnapped aid workers

Islamic State-aligned jihadists have released five local aid workers abducted last month in Borno State, security sources and one of those freed said Thursday.

ISWAP free five kidnapped aid workersI

The aid workers were seized along with other passengers in two separate incidents in December when fighters from Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) disguised as soldiers intercepted vehicles on highways outside the Borno state capital of Maiduguri.

ISWAP, which split from the Boko Haram jihadist group in 2016, has focused on targeting military installations and troops since mid-2018.

However there has recently been an increase in attacks on civilians blamed on ISWAP.

The decade-long jihadist conflict in northeast Nigeria has killed 35,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes.

The violence has spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting the formation of a regional military coalition to fight the Islamists.

A security source told AFP “the five aid workers were released… after days of mediated negotiations with ISWAP” on Wednesday.

The hostages are local staff of international humanitarian agencies, providing aid to thousands of people displaced by the violence in the region, the source said.

Asabe Musa, a hygiene specialist with ALIMA (Alliance for International Medical Action), a French NGO, is among the five freed hostages.

“We were released by our captors today (Wednesday). Two of us are from ALIMA, one each from Red Cross, Solidarity and IOM (International Office for Migration).

“We were first taken to the DSS headquarters before we were handed over to our various agencies,” she told AFP, referring to Nigeria’s domestic intelligence agency.

“We are all in good health. I and my colleagues are now at ALIMA office here in Maiduguri where we are staying for the night.”

The negotiations for the release were initiated by the DSS, the security source said.

It was not clear whether ransom was paid for the aid workers’ release.

A sister of Asabe Musa told AFP her sibling spoke with their mother on the phone from the DSS offices after her release.

“My sister was allowed to call our mother and confirm her release along with four others,” Vicky Musa told AFP.

Asabe Musa was kidnapped along with two others on December 22 on their way to Maiduguri for Christmas from the garrison town of Monguno, 135 kilometres (84 miles) away.

On December 4 ISWAP claimed the abduction of two Red Cross staff along with 12 other passengers on a separate highway outside Maiduguri.

ISWAP has increasingly been abducting motorists at checkpoints in Borno state, targeting security personnel, anti-jihadist militia as well as Christians.

The United Nations Humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said he was “deeply relieved” at the news of the release.

But he said in a statement it was unfortunate that aid workers are being targeted by jihadists in Nigeria.

“These dedicated humanitarians were working to provide life-saving support to millions of Nigeria’s most vulnerable in north-eastern Borno state…

“I also remain gravely concerned for the lives of our (Action Contre la Faim) colleague Grace Taku, abducted near Damasak in July 2019, and Alice Loksha, a nurse and a mother, abducted during an attack in Rann in March 2018. Both are still held captive by non-state armed groups”.

Motorists, commuters spend hours in Lagos-Ibadan Expressway gridlock

Contractor, FRSC block Long Bridge’s side route

Our Correspondents

Motorists, commuters spend hours in Lagos-Ibadan Expressway gridlock

Hundreds of motorists and commuters were left stranded for several hours on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on Wednesday.

Those affected the most were motorists and commuters travelling from Ibafo to Berger bus stop end of the road following the closure of a section of the road for construction work to resume.

It took over four hours on the average to get to Berger bus stop in Lagos from Magboro in Ogun State, a journey that ordinarily would not take up to 10 minutes, with many vehicles breaking down in the gridlock and compounding the situation.

The Lagos inbound section of the road, which was blocked for reconstruction for three months last year, was reopened just before the Christmas and New Year festive season, but the other section was shut to traffic on Monday and the only available section was divided into two for Lagos inbound and outbound traffic.

The attendant gridlock forced many motorists to resort to using the earth road leading to the Kara area by either side of the bridge.

A commuter, Fayokemi Akinfemiwa, accused the police of aiding hoodlums to extort motorists plying the earth road.

She said, “We know that the government and the contractor, Julius Berger, are trying to make the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway better for use, but the suffering of the people, who live in communities around Mowe, Ibafo, Arepo and environs, and work on the Lagos Island is too much.

“I left the house around 5 am and saw the police and area boys collecting N100 from each vehicle before we were allowed to pass through the alternative road, which is very bad, but because we all wanted to get to our offices, we had no choice but to pass through it.

“We need the Federal Government and Julius Berger to make the alternative road passable pending the time the normal route will be completed.”

When contacted, the Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, stated that policemen were only deployed in the expressway to control traffic and not in the earth road, adding that motorists and commuters should come forward with evidence of extortion to allow for a thorough investigation.

However, later in the day, officials of the construction company moved a bulldozer to the earth road and dug a trench to prevent vehicular movement through it.

This compounded the already chaotic traumatic experience of motorists plying the road as many vehicles, which were using the earth road as an alternative route, had to turn back to join the Lagos inbound lane from Warewa.

A commuter, Ajayi Jimoh, who condemned the blockage of the alternative route to the Kara area of the road, lamented that he spent six hours on the road for a journey that should not have lasted up to 15 minutes.

He said, “I left my home in Mowe around 5.30 am for the office on Victoria Island, Lagos. My movement has not been progressive because I just reached Warewa. Why are we being made to suffer like this because of road construction?

“Many people have died as a result of this traffic. Last year, a motorcyclist and his female passenger, who strapped a baby to her back, were killed in the traffic caused by the reconstruction of this road. Why can’t Julius Berger open the link road?”

A motorist, Tony Okeke, urged the government to hasten the construction, saying, “I have been in the gridlock for over three hours. I have been driving my family all the way from Anambra State, but we encountered the gridlock around the Redemption Camp. This is a terrible experience.”

The Sector Commander, Ogun State, Federal Road Safety Corps, Clement Oladele, said, “If you have four lanes and you reduce it to two, definitely there will be gridlock. But because many people, who drive through the alternative roads, get ahead of those on the normal route, this discourages people and make them start driving against the traffic and compound the situation.

“So, if the alternative route is blocked, everybody will be forced to drive on the normal route and those who are behind won’t be able to jump ahead of those ahead of them. This is an experiment, if it works, it will continue until the road is completed.”

The Federal Controller of Works in charge of the project, Ademola Kuti, said, “The carriageway is the road, people should not start using other routes to join the queue in front; people should be disciplined by following the lane. It is moving traffic; the only problem is that we can have a breakdown of vehicles or accidents.

“The work has started but the diversion started on Tuesday, and all things being equal, we should be able to complete work on that section of the road by February.”

Operation Amotekun: Governors should not give up

Some of the security vehicles provided by South-West states for the Western Nigeria Security Network and some dignitaries at the inauguration of Operation Amotekun in Ibadan.

Creating an adversarial spirit, the Federal Government has declared the security outfit of the South-West states code-named “Operation Amotekun (Leopard),” illegal. The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami threw a legal spanner in the works of the six governors in the region on Tuesday, instantly stoking up tensions. Malami said, “… no state government, whether singly or in a group, has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organisation or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.” He then threatened fire: “The law will take its natural course in relation to excesses associated with organisation, administration and participation in Amotekun or continuous association with it as an association.”

He is wrong. Malami’s statement is not only provocative, it is mindless folly. This South-West governors’ commendable step should not be hampered by his dozy legalism. In a federation such as Nigeria’s, there is nothing that stops states, especially those that are contiguous to one another, from collaborating in areas of common interest and mutual benefits. This could cover economic, political and security interests. It is also in the interest of promoting regional integration – which is what the South-West states have done. This heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all solution approach to governance should be resisted. No sensible law contests a regional collaboration for the protection of lives and property. Instead, this type of effort spurs development and the spirit of cooperation among states in a federation.

Right from the outset, Amotekun was conceived to address the rampaging banditry, maiming, kidnapping and killing of people in the region. But it is not only the South-West that is confronted with the monster of insecurity. Every region is suffering from the complete breakdown of Nigeria’s fragile and over-centralised security structure. In this, the Nigeria Police Force is grossly incapacitated and overwhelmed. For the past 10 years – and in spite of the heavy deployment of the military – the North-East has been under unrelenting siege of Boko Haram terrorism, spawning a war that has recorded nearly 100,000 deaths and 2.1 million internally displaced persons. The North-Central is only trying to regroup after years of devastating attacks by murderous herders on the farming communities. Horribly, herdsmen wiped out 73 people in Benue State on New Year’s Day in 2018. A 2018 report by the Global Terrorism Index described them as killing six times more than Boko Haram that year. For the past few years, states in the North-West have been in tatters over attacks by bandits and kidnappers. The Kaduna-Abuja Expressway is still a dreaded zone, while kidnapping still dominates discussions in the South- East.

All along, the six governors in the region have insisted that Operation Amotekun is non-confrontational, but a timely response to the growing criminality in the area. Being shrewd – and for the fact that the security of lives is the raison d’être of government – the South-West governors, rising above partisan politics, collaborated to turn the tables on banditry. At the inauguration in Ibadan on Thursday, the Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, clearly reiterated, “We are not creating a regional police force, neither are we oblivious of steps to take in order to have state police.” Primarily, the local vigilance groups and the O’odua Peoples Congress members in Amotekun are to gather intelligence, which they are to make available to the federal security agencies. With this, Amotekun is clearly a pragmatic riposte to the rampant insecurity across the land.

On his part, the Ondo Governor and Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, added, “It is our sincere hope that our security efforts will serve as a complement to the security architecture put in place by the Federal Government. It is not in our intention to erect any antagonistic structure whose operation is at cross-purposes with the existing template of events.”

Host governor, Seyi Makinde, put it in proper perspective: “Our regional integration should be seen in one light and one light alone – that we are coming together to fight a common enemy. That enemy is not Nigeria.” The governors of Lagos (Babajide Sanwo-Olu), Ogun (Dapo Abiodun) and Osun (Gboyega Oyetola) pretty much agree with this worldview centred on government focussing on protection.

Amotekun is not the first state security outfit in the country. Hisbah, an Islamic or state police operating in many states in the North, came before it. The dawn of the Fourth Republic in 1999 and the declaration of Sharia in 12 states have given rise to its existence. Hisbah is most visible in Kano State, with its proclivity for abusing human rights and destroying property. It flogs citizens in an attempt to enforce Islamic canons, and arrests people extra-judicially. In September last year, Hisbah confiscated and destroyed 196,400 bottles of beer worth millions of naira, without the federal authorities batting an eyelid.

According to Hisbah’s Commander General, Sheik Aminu Daurawa, 12 million bottles of beer were destroyed in seven years that involved 800 operations. He disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria. In Zamfara, Jigawa and other states, their activities, which run against the grain of the 1999 Constitution, on the abuse of human rights, have not been halted by the Federal Government.

The fight against Boko Haram terrorism in the North-East has since 2013 received a boost in the role played by the Civilian Joint Task Force, which the federal authorities periodically commend. The International Crisis Group says the military Joint Task Force that involved Chad, Niger and Cameroon “led by (the) Nigerian Army quickly realised the vigilante’s potential as a source of knowledge, intelligence and manpower” that it started to organise them with the help of traditional authorities.

Malami’s lame statement should not abort the initiative. Collectively, the people and governments of the South-West of Nigeria have decided that the security of lives and property is, to them, at a premium. The Amotekun initiative enjoys popular support because it appears to be a realistic solution to the menace of bandits lurking in South-West forests. They see it as something that should not be politicised, knowing full well that no progress can be made in practically all aspects of life in an atmosphere of insecurity, such as have been witnessed in the country in recent times. That is why the governors and citizens have decided to band together, irrespective of their political leanings, to take this noble step of forming Amotekun.

For the purpose of clarity, it bears repeating that the Western Nigeria Security Network is not a rival police force, nor a military wing of the people. It is not a threat to the existing security agencies, such as the police, the Civil Defence, and the Armed Forces. It is about intelligence-driven security, which is so vacuous in the present security system. To give firm expression to their shared conviction, Amotekun should be given a firm anchorage in the law. The different states involved should hasten the passage of bills establishing the cooperative security outfit. The law could take the form of the ones establishing the forest guard as Olu Falae, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, recently advised. “The forest guards have the power to arrest and prosecute,” he said. Not only that, the laws should also mandate the states to be able to work in collaboration with each other to ensure that their noble objectives are not stifled.

The governors as the chief security officers of their states, according to the Constitution, should show that their resolve is unmistakeable. They should not give up, since it is about the security of the people. Indeed, it will be unforgettable and unforgiveable if Amotekun is allowed to die on the platform of a flagrant misuse of power.

Amotekun is not illegal: A reply to Malami

Amotekun is not illegal: A reply to Malami

On Tuesday, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, described as illegal the newly launched South-West security outfit codenamed, Amotekun. The Chief Law Officer, acting on behalf of the Federal Government, strongly posited that “no state government, whether singly or in a group, has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organisation or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts”.

This development, expectedly, did not go down well with many Nigerians and has been a subject of hot debate and controversy. Therefore, in this unsolicited but imperative legal opinion, efforts would be made to dissect the legal position of the Federal Government on Amotekun and other ancillary matters arising therefrom.

It is crucial to clearly state the two major grounds upon which the AGF declared Amotekun as illegal. One, he said the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), herein referred to as “the Constitution”, establishes the army, navy and air force, police, etc. and consequently, no state has the right in law to establish any form of security organisation for the defence of Nigeria or any of its part. He cited Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution. Two, he argued that his office was not consulted on the matter. That if the South-West governors had consulted, he would have provided proper “guidance” that will help avoid the “illegality”.

On the first grounds, it is a truism that the “police and other security agencies established by law” are exclusively the business of the Federal Government as provided under the Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.

The question that follows, therefore, is: Is Operation Amotekun a form of state police abhorred by our constitution? Well, during the official launch of the security network, the answer to this important poser was lucidly given. It was Rotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Governor of Ondo State, who made it abundantly clear that “Operation Amotekun is not an alternative to the Police Force but (a) complement conventional security outfit”. In other words, Operation Amotekun is simply a local intelligence-gathering outfit. Being a complement to the Nigeria Police by way of native intelligence gathering is not illegal under our constitution or any law whatsoever. Operation Amotekun is, therefore, not only constitutional but highly patriotic. Anyone in doubt about this may read together the effect of the provisions of Sections 24(e) and 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

To further buttress this point that Operation Amotekun doesn’t run contrary to any written law in Nigeria, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State made it known that the personnel of the Operation would bear no arms. The outfit was simply an intelligence-gathering one which would help the police in no small measure to bring about peace and orderliness in our country. So, if Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution provides that the “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”, it is not out of place or illegal for the government of states in a region to come together and establish an intelligence-gathering outfit which will aid and complement the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force in achieving that purpose.

Therefore, it is important to respectfully state that it only appears the Attorney-General of the Federation seems not to be abreast of what Amotekun is all about before making the pronouncement. The position of the law canvassed by the learned Attorney General, most humbly, only applies to state policing and other security agencies established by law and not a native intelligence gathering outfit. If Malami was patient enough to get abreast of what the Operation is about, he wouldn’t have arrived at that hasty and erroneous conclusion.

Let us even assume without conceding that Operation Amotekun is “illegal”, we are of the humble opinion that it doesn’t lie in the mouth of the AGF to declare it as the same. It is only the court that has the inherent power and constitutional jurisdiction to pronounce Operation Amotekun as illegal and unconstitutional.

On the second grounds, it is rather surprising that the AGF expected the South-West governors to consult him for advice, guidance and directive. It is improper for him to have that expectation because: one, it is not a requirement of law and two, because it is not the AGF who will dictate to the governors the best way to implement their constitutional mandate to secure the lives and property of their people. Making such a consultation is unnecessary and alien to our polity. It shows clearly the AGF seems to be arrogating too much power to himself.

Beyond the legalese, it must be emphasised that this back and forth on Amotekun would have been needless and avoidable if ours were a true federal system. The present federal structure is just too faulty and unsustainable. The fallacious federalism we practise in Nigeria is dubious, fictitious and fraudulent. If true federalism is what we indeed practise, I bet this issue would not have arisen at all.

This sad situation is only a quick reminder that this centralised policing system is inefficient, weak and unsustainable in a federal system. There would have been no need for Operation Amotekun in the first place if our security agencies have not failed in their primary duty to safeguard the lives and property of the citizens. With the growing rate of banditry, kidnapping, herdsmen attacks, terrorism and others, one would expect a strong and efficient policing system. What does one expect the helpless citizens to do when the state security has failed? Self-help and self-defence, provided for under Section 33(2)(a), which is inimical to the corporate existence of the country.

Frankly, it appears the Attorney-General is more political than legal on this issue. I really cannot understand why he will be quick to declare illegal Operation Amotekun but would, worryingly, close his eyes to the Hisbah Police (a state police), Civilian Joint Task Force and other security agencies, audaciously encouraging in people’s rights, in the country, particularly in the North. It was in the news recently that the so-called Hisbah Police, as unlawful as it is, even had the gut to arrest an officer of the Nigeria Police Force. The AGF decided to “look away” on all this but left no stone unturned is “illegalising” Amotekun. We must be curious!

Although I am not an ethnicist, I make bold to say there is a growing rate of social and political inequality in the country. Yes, I know verily that it is improper to justify a ‘wrong’ by making reference to another wrong elsewhere. The attitude of the AGF, condemning one and maintaining a biased neutrality on the other, is at best hypocritical and a show of one-sidedness. This unfairness and bias should give all desirous of the continuous existence of Nigeria a cause to worry.

Operation Amotekun may have its flaws that must be quickly remedied by the relevant parties. First, it is merely a reactionary initiative and that is precarious. Again, the stakeholders in charge were beclouded by emotion and were in a rush while birthing the idea without necessarily dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. It is uncontestable that the initiative is a great one but the planning and implementation were so poor. Be that as it may, the idea is a progressive one that must be supported by all patriots. The benefits in Amotekun are far beyond the challenges and inadequacies.

I hereby enjoin the stakeholders to ensure the enactment of an enabling law establishing Amotekun in the six South-West states. Although even if an enabling law is established to that effect, it would in no way affect the legality of the Operation when viewed from Malami’s lens. So, assuming it had been enacted as law before now, it would have still been ‘illegal’, according to Malami’s argument.

For the governors, I charge them never to be cowed or bow to pressure. This is a challenging time that the initiators must never compromise standard for cheap political reason by standing strong on their grounds and at their suffering people.

Nothing, nobody, can stop an idea whose time has come, it is said.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo said: APC’ll win more Igbo states before 2023

APC’ll win more Igbo states before 2023 –Ohanaeze

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo said on Wednesday that a greater number of states in Igboland would be won by the All Progressives Congress before the 2023 general election.

The Secretary-General of the apex body of Ndigbo, Uche Okwukwu, made this remark in a congratulatory message to the new Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, on his victory at the Supreme Court, describing the verdict as well considered.

Okwukwu explained that with Uzodinma’s victory, Ndigbo were happy that the APC had enlarged its political space in Igboland.

Ohanaeze’s message came barely 24 hours after the Supreme Court declared the Oru East-born politician the winner of the 2019 governorship election.

Okwukwu said, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo heartily congratulates Senator Hope Uzodinma on his victory at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

“The judgment is a well-considered and sound one. Ndigbo are happy that Uzodinma’s mandate freely given by Imo people had been restored by God.”

FG’s position on Amotekun unfair – National Youth Council of Nigeria

Some of the security vehicles provided by South-West states for the Western Nigeria Security Network and some dignitaries at the inauguration of Operation Amotekun in Ibadan…on Thursday. Photos: Wale Oyewale, Oyo State Government and NAN

The National Youth Council of Nigeria has said that the position of the Federal Government on the Southwest security outfit codenamed, Operation Amotekun, is unfair and not in tandem with the principle of egalitarianism being preached by the present APC-led administration.

The National Public Relations Officer of NYCN, Bestman Okereafor, made this known in Enugu on Thursday.

Operation Amotekun was inaugurated by the six states in the region on January 9.

Okereafor said the use of village hunters and vigilante personnel adopted by the security outfit presented the best form of community policing.

According to him, this grassroots-oriented and bottom-up structured as well as an all-involving security framework, which Amotekun presents, is the ideal policing framework for modern policing to checkmate emerging criminality in rural and remote communities.

He said, “Information at our disposal reveals that Federal Government’s position was disclosed by the Minister for Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, through his special adviser on media, Dr Umar Gwandu, via a statement issued Jan.14 declaring “AMOTEKUN” as illegal.

“Nigerian youths consider this position as unfair and not in line with the principle of egalitarianism being preached by the present APC-led administration.

“As progressive-minded Nigerian youth leadership, we expect the Federal Government to complement the efforts of the South-west governors rather than an outright rejection and condemnation of the security outfit,’’ he said.

Okereafor, however, called on all South-west residents and Nigerian youths at large to remain calm and be peaceful as ever “even as we await the position of the South-west governors and their consultations with the Federal Government on the matter’’.

I have 39 more prophecies, says Mbaka

I have 39 more prophecies, says Mbaka

The Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, says there are 39 more prophecies of his that will come to pass in 2020.

Mbaka said this in a statement while reacting to the removal of the Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, by the Supreme Court and the inauguration of Senator Hope Uzodinma as governor.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday nullified the election of Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State and declared Uzodinma as the governor of the state.

In the statement by his spokesman, Maximus Ugwuoke, the Catholic priest stated that he gave 40 prophecies on New Year’s Eve but the only one that went viral was that of Uzodinma.

The statement read in part, “Uzodinma becoming the governor of Imo was just a part of the about 40 prophetic prayers Fr. Mbaka made on December 31. But that became the only issue people satanically picked against him.

“God has vindicated Fr. Mbaka as He has always done for Fr. Mbaka and adoration ministry in all the battles, vituperations and attacks the ministry had faced in the past. To God be the glory.”

He said the victory of Uzodinma was evidence that Mbaka was truly an anointed man of God.

The statement further stated that the fact that the Supreme Court’s seven justices unanimously agreed to the judgment showed that God was behind the prophecy.

It read further, “We are not all gifted alike, Fr. Mbaka’s prophetic gift should be a source of pride for the Catholic Church and indeed all true Christians as a living evidence of divine presence within the Church. As a lawyer, I tell you that there are double fold angles to this miracle.

“One is the miraculous resuscitation of Hope Uzodinma from the far away position he was placed in the election result announced by INEC in Imo State. The second is the unanimous confirmation of the seven Justices of the Supreme Court (without a dissent view) that Uzodinma was the rightful winner of the election.”

Recall that the fiery Catholic priest had prophesied that Uzodinma, the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate at the March 9, 2019, governorship election in Imo State, would become the governor of the state this year.

The cleric was quoted as saying, “I don’t know the manner the revelation will manifest but no prophecy has ever been declared on this prayer ground without coming to pass.

“In spite of all that would happen this 2020, there is hope. In Imo State, there is hope. Hope, hope, hope! Hope in Imo State. Imo people have suffered but God is raising a new hope that would be an agent of salvation for them.”

You slept while Nigerians were being killed, Soyinka tells Amotekun foes

You slept while Nigerians were being killed, Soyinka tells Amotekun foes

Playwright and social critic, Prof Wole Soyinka, has advised those he said were sleeping all the while Nigerians were being killed to return to sleep, instead of tagging as illegal Operation Amotekun (leopard) initiated by the South-West governors to tackle insecurity in the region.

The Western Nigeria Security Outfit codenamed Operation Amotekun was launched in Ibadan, Oyo State, last Thursday.

But the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), declared the security task force as illegal on Tuesday.

Speaking in Lagos on Wednesday, the Akogun of Isara traced his past concerns for sanity on roads through a memo to the then military governor of the Western State, Maj.-Gen. David Jemibewon (retd).

He further cited talks on the protection of lives and property of Nigerians at the dawn of Boko Haram attacks during a meeting with the late National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoeye Azazi (retd) including hosting the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, in his Abeokuta, Ogun State home on security matters.

Soyinka stated that citizens have the right to defend themselves against attacks.

He said,” Some people who have been sleeping all this time, taking belated actions, watching the people being decimated… and telling us that this initiative is illegal. They should go back to sleep. Amotekun has come to stay. ”

He also urged the South-West governors to include Awosikun (think of how to feed the people of the region) after its laudable Amotekun initiative.

US House to send Trump impeachment articles to Senate

 

The US House of Representatives voted Wednesday to transmit articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, opening the way for the historic trial of the 45th president for abuse of power.

In a strict party-line vote, the House approved a resolution appointing seven Democratic impeachment managers — the prosecution team for the trial — and empowered them to deliver the two charges against Trump to the Senate later in the day.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeated her demand that the Senate trial call witnesses from Trump’s inner circle to testify and subpoena documents that were refused to the original investigation, warning the body will be guilty of a “cover-up” if it does not do so.

“My colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we are here today to cross a very important threshold in American history,” Pelosi said before the vote.

“Whatever the outcome, the American people want a fair trial.”

The momentous trial, expected to begin Tuesday in the Republican-controlled Senate and last several weeks, will be only the third ever of an American president, and will decide whether Trump is forced from office.

Before the vote, Trump, who has labelled the House impeachment a political witch hunt, accused Democrats of a “con job.”

“Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats,” he wrote on Twitter.

Grave task

Earlier Wednesday Pelosi chose seven Democratic legislators to prosecute the case against Trump.

Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman who headed the impeachment investigation, will lead the group.

In addition to Schiff, the prosecution team will include Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, and four other senior Democrats, most of them with prosecutorial experience in the US justice system.

“The task before us is a grave one but one demanded by our oath,” Schiff said on the House floor.

“President Trump put his own personal interests above the national interest, above our national security. And if not stopped he will do it again,” he said.

“The only remedy is the conviction and removal from office of President Donald Trump.”

Crazy witch hunt

Trump is accused of secretly holding up aid to Ukraine between July and September to pressure Kiev to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in this year’s White House race.

He was formally impeached on December 18 when the Democratic-controlled House charged him with abusing his power by illicitly seeking help from Ukraine for his reelection.

The president is also charged with obstruction for holding back witnesses and documents from the House impeachment investigation in defiance of Congressional subpoenas.

The articles of impeachment will be walked from the House to the Senate later Wednesday, at around 5 pm (2200 GMT), in a solemn procession seen only twice before in US history.

But their reading out loud to senators, officially placing the president on trial, is only expected Thursday.

Trump’s conviction in the Senate is highly unlikely as the president’s Republican Party has a 53-47 majority. A two-thirds super-majority of senators is required to find him guilty and remove him from office.

According to a senior administration official, the White House believes it has an easy case and that the Senate will quickly acquit.

The official said the trial was “extraordinarily unlikely” to run more than two weeks.

New evidence

Democrats continued to challenge the Senate to bring in high-level witnesses they believe will support the evidence against Trump.

They especially want to hear from Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security advisor John Bolton.

Bolton, who other officials have testified was angered by the scheme to pressure Ukraine for Trump’s domestic political needs, has volunteered to testify if subpoenaed.

“We should have witnesses, and we should have documents,” Pelosi said.

On Tuesday Democrats released newly-acquired files that showed Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani working with Ukrainian-born American Lev Parnas early last year to pressure Kiev to investigate Biden.

They also showed the two, working with Ukrainian officials, trying to force out the US ambassador to the country, Marie Yovanovitch, eventually removed by Trump.

The documents “demonstrate that there is more evidence relevant to the president’s scheme, but they have been concealed by the president himself,” Democrats said in a statement.

Battle over calling witnesses

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose solid Republican majority will set the rules for Trump’s trial, has refused to agree to invite witnesses before opening statements and arguments are delivered.

After the articles are received at the Senate, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will be sworn in to preside over the process, on either Thursday or Friday.

Roberts will then swear in the 100 senators who will act as the jury and be required to remain in the body for all the time the trial is underway.

Another Maina’s sister testifies against him, disowns account opened in her name

Another Maina’s sister testifies against him, disowns account opened in her name

Another younger sister of Abdulrasheed Maina, Mrs. Nafisat Aliyu, on Wednesday, appeared before the Federal High Court in Abuja to testify against him in his ongoing trial.

Aliyu made the second of Maina’s sisters to testify against him in his ongoing corruption trial after their sister, Mrs Fatima Abdullahi, appeared in court for the same purpose on December 12, 2019.

Maina, a former Chairman of the then Pension Reform Task Team, along with his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on money laundering charges involving the sum of N2bn of pensioners’ fund.

His first sister to appear as a witness in the case, Abdullahi, testified against him behind a screen with her face only seen by the judge, Justice Okon Abang, in December.

But testifying on Wednesday, Aliyu, who wore a veil that left her face uncovered, spoke from the witness box without any screen shielding her from the lawyers and the court’s audience.

They sat in opposite sides of the courtroom with Aliyu facing the judge and Maina facing the direction of his sister.

Maina maintained a straight face throughout the proceedings even when his sister who kept such countenance intermittently smiled in the course of fielding questions.

There was no eye contact between the two of them throughout the proceedings and did not exchange greetings despite passing by each other at the end of the proceedings.

Led in evidence by the EFCC’s lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, Aliyu, a civil servant, testifying as the fourth prosecution witness, narrated to the judge, Justice Okon Abang, how it took her three to four years to realise the existence of a bank account linked to her brother but was opened with her name without her knowledge.

The witness, a master’s student, recalled that she started receiving transaction alerts from the account about three to four years after a former tenant in their family house and employee of a new generation bank, Mr. Oluwatoyin Meseke, collected her utility bill without disclosing what he intended to do with it.

When shown the account opening documents for the bank account she was asked to talk about, she confirmed that the passport photograph which appeared on them was her picture and the data page of the passport contained in the set of documents was hers.

She, however, said the signature and the residential address appearing on the account opening form were not hers.

She also said she was a civil servant and not into importing and exporting stated as her occupation in the documents.

Aliyu also denied knowledge of the transactions carried out on the account including the transfer of N2.31m from the account to her brother on February 1, 2012.

She said, “Some years back, in Wuse 2, Abuja, Oluwatoyin Meseke, came to my house and he asked if I could give him my utility bill, which I did.

“About three to four years later, I started seeing alerts. That was when it came to my head that I gave Toyin my utility bill.

“Then I called him, and I told him that he was the only one I ever gave my utility bill and I asked him why I was seeing alerts because they (the alerts) were coming from a bank where he works.

“He said he was sorry that he was going to do something about it, but the alerts kept coming.

“I called him again and told him that I was going to go to his office to create drama if he did not do something about it. He apapologise

“That was when I last saw alerts and I continued with my normal life.”

Tambuwal urges NASS to pass Legion Establishment Bill

Tambuwal urges NASS to pass Legion Establishment Bill

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State has called on the National Assembly to hasten the process of passing the bill for the amendment of the Nigeria Legion Establishment Act.

The bill is aimed at improving the welfare and well-being of the families of fallen heroes, retired military personnel as well as injured military personnel.

Tambuwal, who spoke at this year’s commemoration of the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Sokoto, said the passing of the bill would provide the opportunity to cater for the welfare of the children of fallen heroes and their widows.

He said, “One of the best ways to honour Nigeria’s fallen heroes is to take care of the loved ones they left behind.

“I am appealing to the National Assembly to do whatever it takes to expeditiously pass the bill so that there could be an improvement in the welfare and well-being of our retirees and members of the families of the fallen heroes.”

While commending the armed forces for their sacrifices in helping to secure and keep the nation as one indivisible entity, Governor Tambuwal solicited for more support to the children and wives of the fallen heroes that paid the supreme prices for the unity and peace of Nigeria.

The 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day which took place at the Maigero Theatre Complex in Sokoto, featured a medical outreach organised by the armed forces, a parade and laying of wreaths in honour of the fallen soldiers.

Bear no grudge against those who opposed you, Tinubu warns Uzodinma

Bear no grudge against those who opposed you, Tinubu warns Uzodinma

A former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, has warned the Imo State Governor-elect, Hope Uzodinma, not to bear grudges against those who opposed his governorship ambition.

Tinubu said this while congratulating Uzodinma on his verified Twitter handle on Wednesday.

The All Progressives Congress’ national leader also cautioned the governor-elect against actions that could lead to disunity among members of the APC in the state.

Recall that the Supreme Court in a unanimous judgment on Tuesday sacked Governor Emeka Ihedioha and declared Uzodinma winner.

Tinubu said, “I congratulate Senator Hope Uzodinma, the people of Imo State and all Nigerians who believe in justice and seek the truth.

“The Supreme Court’s proper and fair decision yesterday, declaring Senator Uzodinma as the rightful governor of Imo State was indeed a victory for truth and justice in Nigeria.

“Foes of justice and democracy had engineered a plot by which the improper and wilful exclusion of over 200,000 valid votes cast for Uzodinma would deny him the office the people of Imo had chosen him to fill.

“The wrongful exclusion of such a vast number of valid votes threatened to turn the Imo governorship election into an unfortunate rejection of the sovereign will of the electorate.

“It was imperative that this injustice be corrected and in line with its responsibility, the Supreme Court carefully reviewed the case.

“Recognising the obvious impropriety and unfairness of the exclusion, the apex court objectively and impartially ruled in favour of the people and in support of democracy.

“The Supreme Court prudently and judiciously rose to the occasion as the defender of our constitution by rendering the only judgment that could protect the democratic rights and the collective will of the people of Imo State.

“This decision underscores the role of the courts in safeguarding democracy and bolsters public faith in the integrity of our judiciary to fulfil this vital mission.

“Yesterday’s decision proves that the Court has both impartiality and the integrity to pursue justice and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

“I commend Senator Uzodinma for his determination in pursuing this case to the end and applaud his faith that the judicial system will ultimately restore justice.

“Where others might have given up, he continued relentlessly in his pursuit of justice. His perseverance has now been rewarded with the restoration of his mandate.

“In effect, Imo’s new governor lived up to his very name, Hope. Indeed, Hope never gave up hope.

“The Supreme Court has now spoken. Its decision is final. Therefore, there is nothing to be gained from speculation or second-guessing. The time has come for the people of Imo to unite and work towards a brighter future under Senator Uzodinma.

“For the new Governor, the real work begins now. The Governor must dedicate himself to establishing a government that transforms the fortunes of the people.

“I urge Senator Uzodinma to reach out to those who opposed him. He must let them know that he bears no grudges and seeks only good for all people of the state.

“I know this is a disappointment for Governor Emeka Ihedioha and his supporters. I urge him to take solace in the fact that you conducted a spirited and vibrant campaign.”

The Association of Resident Doctors at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, has suspended the ongoing strike at the hospital.

 

The Association of Resident Doctors at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, has suspended the ongoing strike at the hospital.

The Association of Resident Doctors at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, has suspended the ongoing strike at the hospital.

The President of the association, Dr Adejo Arome, at an emergency congress meeting on Wednesday, said the management of the hospital had shown enough commitment that necessitated the suspension of the strike.

He lauded the support and commitment of members for the duration of the strike, and also commended the hospital’s medical director for his understanding and unwavering commitment to end the strike.

He, however, called on the management of the hospital to immediately absorb locum doctors into the hospital, adding that their appointment should be regularised as soon as possible.

While declaring that the association would write the management of the hospital and its board to this effect, he said not absorbing locum doctors should, henceforth, not be allowed in the health sector.

According to him, locum staff, otherwise known as contract staff, should be fully engaged and assured of their jobs.

“When you are not at peace, you cannot work well. They should be enrolled on the IPPIS and made to get what their colleagues of the same cadre are getting,” he stated

He, however, warned that any form of intimidation on any member, including locum staff, corps members and others, would be resisted.

Arome reiterated the call for the transfer of Mr Bako Achi, one of the accountants in the hospital, to another department to forestall further showdown.

NAN also recalls that the resident doctors had on Monday embarked on a three-day warning strike as a result of nonpayment of shortfall arrears sent to the hospital in December.

(NAN)

Ondo community arrests 150 cows for destroying farmland

Ondo community arrests 150 cows for destroying farmland

Members of the Ijare Community in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State on Wednesday arrested no fewer than 150 cows for destroying crops on farmlands in the community.

This came a few months after lightening struck dead 36 cows that belonged to the Fulani herdsmen while grazing on a ‘sacred land’ in the community.

It was gathered that the cows which reportedly belonged some Fulani herdsmen in the community, were allegedly led into the farmlands by some herdsmen to graze and allegedly destroyed crops

A source in the community said when the farmers saw the havoc the cows had wreaked on their farms they pursued them and arrested the cows while the herdsmen fled.

The source said, “After the herdsmen had seen that the farmers and some local hunters were coming they abandoned their cows and ran while the cows were brought to the palace.”

“They have been adamant and it was high time they left. We didn’t harm them but we were surprised the way they ran away like being chased by a lion.”

One of the affected farmers, Mr Sunday Fasakin, who lamented that all his last year’s efforts were in vain recounted how his cocoyam and yam farms of three hectares worth thousands of naira were destroyed by the herdsmen.

“They have been destroying our farms and we can no longer condone such losses again. We don’t have problem with them but we don’t want them and their cows in Ijare anymore.”

Fasakin also called on the government to address the ugly development to avoid reprisal from the people of the community.

When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Femi Joseph, however, said one of the herders had been arrested while investigation had commenced into the matter.

“We got the report that five herdsmen had invaded and destroyed the farms, we swung into action and one Banbuga Abu was arrested while we are still searching for the fleeing herdsmen. We have commenced the investigation.”

In the same vein, a traditional ruler of Ipinsa community in Akure South Local Government Area of the state, Oba Omoniyi Olufunmilayo, has raised alarm over invasion of farmlands and destruction of crops by suspected herdsmen in his community.

The monarch lamented that many farmers at Ipinsa had currently been counting their losses over the havoc committed by the herdsmen in the community.

He called on the state government and the security agencies to intervene in the matter to avoid a clash between the farmers of the community and the herdsmen.

PDP elder statesman escapes death in robbery attack

PDP elder statesman escapes death in robbery attack

Osaro Onaiwu, and his family escaped death by the whiskers on Wednesday, as suspected armed robbers, numbering five, invaded their Abuja home.

It was learnt that four of the suspected robbers were masked. It was also gathered that the five robbers invaded Onaiwu’s compound about 1 a.m., shot sporadically before gaining entry into Onaiwu’s house.

Onaiwu and his family members were said to have obeyed the commands of the armed robbers who ordered them to lie face-down while the robbers ransacked the house.

Onaiwu told journalists in Abuja that the robbers carted away cash and valuables estimated at over N100m.

He said the robbers stole trinkets, two televisions sets, phones belonging to him, his wife and their children, among other valuables.

He said he was shocked and devastated over the incident but was grateful to God that none of his family members died or sustained serious bodily injury.

He added that his wife and their children were still traumatised over the attack.

According to him, it was surprising that five armed robbers gained access into the estate around Games Village, raided his house and stole such valuables unchallenged and not arrested by security men.

He said it was sad that the security situation in the country had degenerated, adding that if a place believes to be secured was raided by armed men, how would Abuja environs look like.

Senator Ifeanyi Araraume: am ready to work with the new governor

The Governorship Candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance in the 2019 general election in Imo State, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, said on Wednesday that he had accepted the final outcome of the protracted legal battle on the Imo poll.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed Ararume’s appeal seeking the nullification of the Imo election on the ground that former Governor Emeka Ihedioha did not meet the two-third constitutional spread.

The apex court, however, annulled Ihedioha’s election and declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress the rightful winner of the election.

In a statement issued in Owerri, Araraume stated that he had accepted the verdict of the apex court and congratulated Uzodinma.

The statement read in part, “The Supreme Court has finally delivered its verdict on the protracted legal battle over the 2019 governorship election.

“In its wisdom, the apex court finally declared my brother, Senator Hope Uzodinma, winner of the election.

“I wish to state categorically that I accept the judgment of the Supreme Court and hereby congratulate Uzodinma.”

Araraume said that as a firm believer in the rule of law, “I affirm my readiness to work closely and harmoniously with the new governor in the overall interest of the people.”

He, however, appealed to his supporters to key into the agenda of the new government, describing peace and development of the people as the main purpose of governance.

INEC makes U-turn, gives Uzodinma Certificate of Return

INEC makes U-turn, gives Uzodinma Certificate of Return

The Independent National Electoral Commission, on Wednesday, gave Certificate of Return to Senator Hope Uzodinma after the sacking of Governor Emeka Ihedioha by the Supreme Court.

Recall that INEC initially said it would not issue a Certificate of Return to Uzodinma because it had not been served the enrolled order of the Supreme Court judgement which sacked Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State.

Uzodinma was said to have received the CoR without much ceremony at the INEC Headquarters in Abuja.

The Chief Press Secretary of INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, confirmed that Uzodinma has received the document.

He said, “I have just confirmed that the Certificate of Return has been presented to the Governor-Elect of Imo State (Hope Uzodinma) by (INEC) National Commissioner, May Agbamuche-Mbu in the presence of National Commissioners, Abubakar Nahuche and Dr. Mustafa Lecky.”

Uzodinma orders probe of Ohakim, Okorocha, Ihedioha

 

The new governor of Imo state, Senator Hope Uzodinma, on Wednesday night called for the probe of three former governors of the state.

The former governors are, Ikedi Ohakim, Rochas Okorocha and Emeka Ihedioha.

The governor who gave the order in his inaugural speech immediately he was sworn in, ordered the Accountant General of the state to within four days from Wednesday forward to him the comprehensive financial status of the state from May 29, 2010, till date.

He equally ordered all permanent Secretaries of all the ministries in the state to within the same period forward to him the status of all the contracts awarded.

The governor ordered the immediate stoppage of payment of all ongoing contracts in the state.

He said that his administration was anchored on rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery.

According to him, he would revive the state and make it working again.

Uzodinma said that he had forgiven those he said conspired to “rob me of hard-earned victory”.

He said that the judiciary demonstrated huge bravery by declaring him the duly elected governor of the state.

Uzodinma said that he was dedicating his victory to God.

Hope Uzodinma sworn in as Imo governor

Senator Hope Uzodinma has been sworn in as the Governor of Imo State.

Hope Uzodinma sworn in as Imo governor

He was sworn in by the Chief Judge of the state, Paschal Nnadi, on Wednesday evening.

Uzodinma took the oath of office and allegiance before the Chief Judge at 7:28 pm before a mammoth crowd at the Heroes Square Arena, in Owerri, the state capital.

He also signed the required documents empowering him as the seventh Governor of Imo State.

His deputy, Placid Njoku, also took the oath of office and allegiance at 7:18 pm before the Chief Judge and thereafter signed the necessary documents empowering as the second citizen of the state.

The All Progressives Congress’ National Chairman, Adams Oshiohmole; a former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, were in attendance.

The new governor of Imo state, Senator Hope Uzodinma, on Wednesday night called for the probe of three former governors of the state.

The former governors are, Ikedi Ohakim, Rochas Okorocha and Emeka Ihedioha.

The governor who gave the order in his inaugural speech immediately he was sworn in, ordered the Accountant General of the state to within four days from Wednesday forward to him the comprehensive financial status of the state from May 29, 2010, till date.

He equally ordered all permanent Secretaries of all the ministries in the state to within the same period forward to him the status of all the contracts awarded.

The governor ordered the immediate stoppage of payment of all ongoing contracts in the state.

He said that his administration was anchored on rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery.

him, he would revive the state and make it working again.

Uzodinma said that he had forgiven those he said conspired to “rob me of hard-earned victory”.

He said that the judiciary demonstrated huge bravery by declaring him the duly elected governor of the state.

Uzodinma said that he was dedicating his victory to God.

Panic in Edo community as gunmen abduct teachers

Panic in Edo community as gunmen abduct teachers

Gunmen on Tuesday abducted two teachers at Obi Primary School in Avbiosi community in the Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State.

Our correspondent learnt that the hoodlums kidnapped the teachers – a male and female – while they were teaching their pupils who had just resumed for the second term.

It was learnt that development, which came barely two days after suspected Fulani herdsmen killed an 11-year-old boy in Sobe, had sparked panic in the Avbiosi community. Sobe is also in the Owan West LGA..

An eyewitness said the gunmen stormed the school around 10.30am, ordering six teachers including those abducted at gunpoint to go with them.

They were said to have shot indiscriminately while the operation lasted.

However, four of the teachers reportedly escaped while being taken them away by the gunmen.

It was learnt that police, supported by hunters and vigilantes, rescued the male teacher at night.

Chairman of the council, Frank Ilaboya, promised that the female teacher identified as Mrs Esther Alabi would soon be rescued from her abductors.

Ilaboya, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Hassan Otinau, said, “We won’t relent until Mrs Alabi is rescued unhurt. There is hope that she will be out in no time.

“I want to commend the security agencies, the youths and other concerned members of the public who joined the search party.”

The veteran sports journalist said the kidnappers spoke with Alabi’s family, but did not disclose if the hoodlums had demanded any ransom.

Ilaboya said, “I personally spoke with her and urged her to be in good spirits that help was near.”

Police stop car theft case against Naira Marley

Police stop car theft case against Naira Marley

The police on Tuesday withdrew the car theft charges filed against the hip-hop singer, Azeez Fashola, alias Naira Marley, and his two siblings, Idris and Babatunde Fashola; and cousin, Kunle Obere.

The police filed four counts of conspiracy, stealing, assault and obstructing the police against them before the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court at Tinubu.

While Idris, Babatunde and Obere were arraigned on December 16, Naira Marley has yet to present himself in court.

At the December 31, 2019 hearing, the magistrate, Mr Tajudeen Elias, had threatened to issue a warrant for the arrest of the singer.

But after being persuaded by Naira Marley’s lawyer, Ayodeji Awokulehin, the magistrate further adjourned the case till January 14, 2020.

At the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, however, the prosecution told the magistrate that the defendants and the complainant in the case, Mr Adenekan Ademola, had resolved to settle the matter out of court.

The magistrate was presented with the terms of settlement of the case, endorsed by both parties.

As a result, the magistrate struck out the four counts, freeing Naira Marley and the others.

“I’v view of the letter of withdrawal, the defendants are hereby discharged,” the magistrate ruled.

At the last hearing, Naira Marley’s lawyer, Awokunlehin, had hinted that his client was exploring an out-of-court settlement talk with the complainant, Ademola, who alleged that Naira Marley and others stole his Toyota Camry vehicle with Registration No. FEE 120 AA valued at N1.8m and an iPhone X5 worth N330,000.

The lawyer had expressed the hope that the matter would be settled before Tuesday (today).

“The police have no problem with an out-of-court settlement; we hope that an agreement will be reached before the next adjourned date,” Awokulehin had said.

The police prosecutor, Edet Okoi, had told the court that the defendants committed the offence on December 15 at Eko Hotel Roundabout, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Okoi said, “One of the vehicles in the musician’s motorcade hit the complainant’s vehicle from the back while he was throwing out money from his vehicle to his fans.

“When the complainant came down from the vehicle to inspect the damage, Obere entered the complainant’s Camry and drove it off with the motorcade. Ademola reported to the police and the vehicle was tracked to where it was parked at Jakande Crescent, Oniru in Lagos.

“When the police arrived at the location in company of the complainant, Naira Marley and his boys started beating the complainant.

“A group of boys obstructed the police from arresting the musician but they were able to apprehend the three defendants.”

The prosecutor said they acted contrary to sections 112,172, 287 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

They promised $1,000 job but made me slave –Lebanon returnee

A 33-year-old Nigerian woman, Mrs Gloria Bright, who was rescued from Lebanon on Monday, has said she was promised $1,000 teaching job but was turned into a slave, doing domestic chores, in Lebanon.

Bright, who hails from Eruku in the Ekiti Local Government Area of Kwara State, said she was made to work for a new master.

The holder of National Diploma in Accounting said, “There is no job in Lebanon and there is no dollar in that country, but they tricked us to the place and made us to believe there was work there.”

She advised Nigerian women to beware of travel agents that promised jobs in foreign countries.

She spoke just as the Kwara State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said it was investigating a list of 27 Nigerian ladies that travelled to Lebanon in search of employment.

The NSCDC Commandant, Bello Ale, disclosed this on Tuesday in Ilorin while handing over Bright, who returned in the early hours of Tuesday, to the President of Eruku Progressive Union, Mr Shola Daniels.

Ale said the repatriation of Bright was one of the successes recorded by the security agency in its investigation of alleged slavery involving Nigerian women.

He acknowledged, however, that the repatriation was achieved through the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, and an NGO, Phemnick Life Support.

The commandant said the presence of the 27 Nigerian women in Lebanon was revealed in a document retrieved from three suspects behind their ordeals. Among the victims were Ms Omolola Ajayi and Mrs Gloria Bright, whose videos as slaves went viral.

He said the three suspects arrested were a Lebanese, Wasit Muhammad, 63 years; Adetunji Sanusi, 33 years; and a lawyer, Tunde Awwal, 27 years

Suspend electricity tariff hike, Reps tell power minister

The House of Representatives has asked the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Power, to suspend the planned upward review of electricity tariff until the National Assembly lifts the embargo.

The House Committee on Power, which met with the ministry, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and distribution companies in Abuja on Tuesday, asked that the policy, scheduled for implementation from April 1, 2019, remained on hold until the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, concluded his talks with stakeholders.

The Speaker had, on Saturday, via his verified personal Twitter handle, stated that the Discos had yet to convince Nigerians that estimated billing would be stopped if they increase the consumption tariff.

He had also said the National Assembly should ensure that the proposed new electricity tariffs were cost-reflective, while stating that the increment should not be allowed until estimated billing, popularly referred to as ‘crazy bill’ was criminalised.

The Speaker had also disclosed his resolve to meet with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and other stakeholders in the power sector on the matter.

The Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, had earlier on Thursday condemned the plan, asking the NERC, which regulates the power sector, to stop all processes leading to the increment.

The NERC had approved the increment in its December 2019 Minor Review of Multi-Year Tariff Order 2015 and Minimum Remittance Order for the Year 2020.

The NERC had on Saturday directed the 11 electricity distribution companies in the country to increase their tariffs beginning from April.

But the Chairman of the House Committee on Power, Mr Magaji Aliyu, after the members grilled the government officials for about one hour, said Nigerians would not accept the new tariffs until estimated billing by the Discos, popularly called ‘crazy bill’, had been prohibited.

The lawmaker said he received about 50 petitions by electricity users against the government and the private operators.

“On behalf of this committee, I will liaise with the Senate Committee (on Power); I want to ask you to put this on hold until proper consultation is achieved. We want to have a smooth sailing.

“We have seen what happened in the communications sector, everybody is paying, nobody is complaining. We see what is happening in the petroleum sector, some are selling (Premium Motor Spirit or petrol) at N145 per litre, and some are selling as low as N143, N142 per litre. But we are not going to allow you to charge different tariffs for different zones. It has to be uniform because the poor Nigerian in my village (in Jigawa) is the same poor Nigerian that is paying for power in Nnewi or Ado Ekiti. People will not understand, you have to do a lot of media work for people to understand what you mean.”

Earlier in his presentation, the acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Mr Ahmed Abdul, representing the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, noted that though the NERC was under the ministry, the commission was in charge of tariffs and reviews.

Abdul said, “The MYTO review is being handled by NERC, which is an agency under the ministry. A representative of the NERC is here with us, I will like him to brief the House fully where we are today.”

The General Manager, Market Competition and Rates, NERC, Sharfuddeen Mahmoud, noted that the Federal Government had announced its resolve to gradually remove subsidy on electricity.

He said this was contained in the 2016-2018 MYTO but the government made a U-turn and suspended the removal till April 2020. According to him, the aggregate price is N55 per kilowatt.

Awolalu heads Osun Customary Court of Appeal

Osun State House of Assembly has confirmed the appointment of Hon. Justice Foluke Awolalu as the substantive president, Customary Court of Appeal.

Justice Awolalu will replace the late Justice Gloria Oladoke, who died in September 2019.

A statement by Kunle Alabi, the Press Secretary to the Speaker, Timothy Owoeye, quoted the Speaker on Tuesday as saying at the plenary that Section 281 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria empowers the lawmakers to confirm appointment of the judge nominated by the governor for the post of the president of a Customary Court of Appeal.

He said, “The House, in compliance with the relevant Section of the 1999 Constitution, confirmed the appointment of Justice Awolalu as the president of the Osun Customary Court of Appeal.”

Meanwhile, the state House of Assembly had directed the Chairman of Osogbo South Local Council Development Area, Abdulhakeem Olaoye, to vacate his position for a period of two months.

Receiving recommendations of the joint Committees on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Judiciary, Legal Matters, Public Petitions and Human Rights also at the plenary, Owoeye, told the chairman to hand over to his vice chairman.

According to him, the joint Committees of the House, after the investigation of allegations against Olaoye, also considered his response to the allegations and found him wanting of gross misconduct.

“The suspension doesn’t remove the chairman as a parliamentarian, he is still representing his people as a councillor, the vice-chairman will be there in acting capacity,” he said.

Govt has failed in education sector – IMCOSA

Ijebu Muslim Old Students’ Association said on Tuesday that government had failed in the education sector, considering the rot in the quality of training and infrastructure in public schools across the country.

Alhaji Olalekan Ajia, an old student of the school, who is a consultant for IMCOSA, noted that since state governments took over schools from missions many years ago, they had been largely underfunded and poorly managed, a situation he said old student associations, like IMCOSA, were compelled to fix.

The visit was part of IMCOSA’s media tour as Ijebu Muslim College prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary on January 27, 2020.

He said, “As we celebrate our 70th anniversary, we have problems. Our children are getting prizes across the country in competitions but the general performance and standard (of education) has fallen. Most of those still getting prizes are girls. Somebody has said the boys are watching Manchester United, engaging in Internet fraud and betting.”

When asked to rate government’s performance in the education sector, Ajia, a former communication specialist with UNICEF, said, “I say without any apology that government has failed.”

IMCOSA’s First Vice President, Maj. Gen. Abiodun Role (retd.), noted that the association had made interventions in their alma mater.

Reeling out some of the programmes the association planned for the school’s 70th anniversary, Role said, “The celebrations will take off on Monday, January 27, 2020 in the College Hall with the Anniversary Lecture by Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board on ‘Investing in education to secure the future for our children’.

“Archbishop Emeritus of Ibadan, the Most Rev. Felix Alaba Job, is the chairman on the occasion. The lecture will be followed by activities, including students’ arts exhibition, inter-schools athletics and football competitions and a stakeholders’ summit to forge a centenary vision for the college.”

The Federal Government has declared the South-West security outfit, Operation Amotekun, illegal.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), made the government’s position known in a statement on Tuesday by his spokesman, Dr Umar Gwandu.

Following serial killings and kidnapping allegedly by the Fulani herdsmen last year, the South-West governors, at a summit convened by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria in June agreed to set up Operation Amotekun.

On Thursday, the governors inaugurated the security outfit, which would comprise the Oodua Peoples Congress, the vigilante groups and local hunters.

The Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, and groups, including the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; the Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, and Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, lauded the governors for setting up the security outfit.

According to the report, some elements within the Presidency and the police high command are not favourably disposed to the regional outfit because they consider it as part of restructuring agenda which the South-West has been clamouring for.

On Tuesday, the Federal Government finally came out with its verdict on the outfit about one week after its inauguration. It said it was not carried along while the outfit was being put in place.

The statement read, “The setting up of the paramilitary organisation called Amotekun is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law.

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria.

“As a consequence of this, no state government, whether singly or in a group, has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organisation or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.

“This is sanctioned by the provision of Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) authorising the Police and other Federal Government security services established by law to maintain law and order.

“The law will take its natural course in relation to excesses associated with organisation, administration and participation in Amotekun or continuous association with it as an association.

“Finally, it is important to put on record that the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice was not consulted on the matter.

“If it had, proper information and guidance would have been offered to ensure that Nigeria’s defence and corporate entity are preserved at all times.”

Malami noted that Nigeria was a sovereign entity governed by laws meant to sustain its corporate existence as a constitutional democracy.

He said although the nation is a federation of states, the Federal Government superintends over matters of national interest.

He added, “The division of executive and legislative authority between the Federal and state governments has been clearly defined by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

 

“t is against the same background that matters relating to the peace, order and good government of the Federation and in particular, the defence of the country, are enshrined in the Exclusive Legislative List.

“The Second Schedule in Item 17 deals with defence. This is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal Government of Nigeria. No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature, has the legal authority over defence.”

Amotekun is a reality , no going back, says Ogun govt

When contacted, the Ogun State Government described the AGF’s position as “a mere statement from another government official.”

The Chief Press Secretary to the state governor , Kunle Somorin, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the AGF might be taken to court.

He said, “It is a mere statement by another government official. Other political leaders across the South-West have spoken in favour of Amotekun. Other regions are planning to emulate South-West governors on the ideas and ideals of Amotekun.

“There’s no going back. We can challenge it in the law court. The AGF must know the truth that Amotekun is a reality, nothing is changing it. There’s no going back on Amotekun.”

But the Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said the state government had yet to be informed.

But the state governor, in a telephone interview with Channels Television, said the South-West governors had not met on Malami’s statement.

“We have not met. When we meet, we will react appropriately, but one thing is clear, laws are not made in the office of the AGF. He is only meant to interpret the law,” he said.

The Chief Press Secretary to Osun State governor, Ismail Omipidan, said Amotekun was a joint initiative of all South-West governors.

“Amotekun is a joint operation. The decision was taken jointly. And I believe the governors will also meet to review whatever position if the needs arises to do that,” Omipidan said.

But the state governor, in a telephone interview with Channels Television, said the South-West governors had not met on Malami’s statement.

“We have not met. When we meet, we will react appropriately, but one thing is clear, laws are not made in the office of the AGF. He is only meant to interpret the law,” he said.

A renown historian, Prof Banji Akintoye, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the Yoruba would in court challenge the declaration of Amotekun as illegal by the Federal Government.

Three killed, 12 injured in Lagos, Ogun crashes

Three killed, 12 injured in Lagos, Ogun crashes

Three persons were killed and 12 others sustained varying degrees of injury in separate road crashes in Lagos and Ogun states on Tuesday.

In Lagos, a crash occurred when the driver of a commercial bus with number plate GGE 845 X0 lost control and rammed into the pavement of the Ogudu Bridge.

While in Ogun State, a containerised truck crushed one person to death and injured four others in multiple crashes at the Sango tollgate on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway in the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area.

An eyewitness, who identified himself simply as Ayo, stated that sympathisers called the Lagos State emergency response numbers without any response.

He added that a few minutes after the crash, some officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority came to the scene but left almost immediately without participating in the rescue of the victims.

According to him, the injured passengers were rushed to the Gbagada General Hospital.

Ayo added, “Two of the passengers died on the way after the management of the Gbagada General Hospital referred them to another hospital.

“All the passengers were young persons of less than 30 years. At least, eight of them had their legs mangled. There was a young woman, who lost both legs.”

The Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed the accident and said two persons died, adding that the injured victims were rushed to the accident and emergency centres of both the Gbagada General Hospital and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, for treatment.

Oke-Osanyintolu stated, “Immediately the accident occurred, we activated our emergency response plan; all the key stakeholders, including the Lagos State Ambulance Service and our officials, among others, were there and we evacuated the victims to the accident and emergency centres at the Gbagada General Hospital and LASUTH, where they are receiving treatment.

The Federal Government has declared the South-West security outfit, Operation Amotekun, illegal.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), made the government’s position known in a statement on Tuesday by his spokesman, Dr Umar Gwandu.

Following serial killings and kidnapping allegedly by the Fulani herdsmen last year, the South-West governors, at a summit convened by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria in June agreed to set up Operation Amotekun.

On Thursday, the governors inaugurated the security outfit, which would comprise the Oodua Peoples Congress, the vigilante groups and local hunters.

The Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, and groups, including the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; the Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, and Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, lauded the governors for setting up the security outfit.

According to the report, some elements within the Presidency and the police high command are not favourably disposed to the regional outfit because they consider it as part of restructuring agenda which the South-West has been clamouring for.

On Tuesday, the Federal Government finally came out with its verdict on the outfit about one week after its inauguration. It said it was not carried along while the outfit was being put in place.

The statement read, “The setting up of the paramilitary organisation called Amotekun is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law.

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria.

“As a consequence of this, no state government, whether singly or in a group, has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organisation or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.

“This is sanctioned by the provision of Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) authorising the Police and other Federal Government security services established by law to maintain law and order.

“The law will take its natural course in relation to excesses associated with organisation, administration and participation in Amotekun or continuous association with it as an association.

“Finally, it is important to put on record that the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice was not consulted on the matter.

“If it had, proper information and guidance would have been offered to ensure that Nigeria’s defence and corporate entity are preserved at all times.”

Malami noted that Nigeria was a sovereign entity governed by laws meant to sustain its corporate existence as a constitutional democracy.

He said although the nation is a federation of states, the Federal Government superintends over matters of national interest.

He added, “The division of executive and legislative authority between the Federal and state governments has been clearly defined by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“It is against the same background that matters relating to the peace, order and good government of the Federation and in particular, the defence of the country, are enshrined in the Exclusive Legislative List.

“The Second Schedule in Item 17 deals with defence. This is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal Government of Nigeria. No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature, has the legal authority over defence.”

Amotekun is a reality , no going back, says Ogun govt

When contacted, the Ogun State Government described the AGF’s position as “a mere statement from another government official.”

He said, “It is a mere statement by another government official. Other political leaders across the South-West have spoken in favour of Amotekun. Other regions are planning to emulate South-West governors on the ideas and ideals of Amotekun.

“There’s no going back. We can challenge it in the law court. The AGF must know the truth that Amotekun is a reality, nothing is changing it. There’s no going back on Amotekun.”

But the Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said the state government had yet to be informed.

But the state governor, in a telephone interview with Channels Television, said the South-West governors had not met on Malami’s statement.

“We have not met. When we meet, we will react appropriately, but one thing is clear, laws are not made in the office of the AGF. He is only meant to interpret the law,” he said.

The Chief Press Secretary to Osun State governor, Ismail Omipidan, said Amotekun was a joint initiative of all South-West governors.

“Amotekun is a joint operation. The decision was taken jointly. And I believe the governors will also meet to review whatever position if the needs arises to do that,” Omipidan said.

But the state governor, in a telephone interview with Channels Television, said the South-West governors had not met on Malami’s statement.

“We have not met. When we meet, we will react appropriately, but one thing is clear, laws are not made in the office of the AGF. He is only meant to interpret the law,” he said.

A renown historian, Prof Banji Akintoye, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the Yoruba would in court challenge the declaration of Amotekun as illegal by the Federal Government.

We need trained workforce for high performance – CIPM

We need trained workforce for high performance – CIPM

The Federal Government has declared the South-West security outfit, Operation Amotekun, illegal.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), made the government’s position known in a statement on Tuesday by his spokesman, Dr Umar Gwandu.

Following serial killings and kidnapping allegedly by the Fulani herdsmen last year, the South-West governors, at a summit convened by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria in June agreed to set up Operation Amotekun.

On Thursday, the governors inaugurated the security outfit, which would comprise the Oodua Peoples Congress, the vigilante groups and local hunters.

The Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, and groups, including the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; the Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, and Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, lauded the governors for setting up the security outfit.

According to the report, some elements within the Presidency and the police high command are not favourably disposed to the regional outfit because they consider it as part of restructuring agenda which the South-West has been clamouring for.

On Tuesday, the Federal Government finally came out with its verdict on the outfit about one week after its inauguration. It said it was not carried along while the outfit was being put in place.

The statement read, “The setting up of the paramilitary organisation called Amotekun is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law.

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria.

“As a consequence of this, no state government, whether singly or in a group, has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organisation or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.

“This is sanctioned by the provision of Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) authorising the Police and other Federal Government security services established by law to maintain law and order.

“The law will take its natural course in relation to excesses associated with organisation, administration and participation in Amotekun or continuous association with it as an association.

“Finally, it is important to put on record that the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice was not consulted on the matter.

“If it had, proper information and guidance would have been offered to ensure that Nigeria’s defence and corporate entity are preserved at all times.”

Malami noted that Nigeria was a sovereign entity governed by laws meant to sustain its corporate existence as a constitutional democracy.

He said although the nation is a federation of states, the Federal Government superintends over matters of national interest.

He added, “The division of executive and legislative authority between the Federal and state governments has been clearly defined by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“It is against the same background that matters relating to the peace, order and good government of the Federation and in particular, the defence of the country, are enshrined in the Exclusive Legislative List.

“The Second Schedule in Item 17 deals with defence. This is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal Government of Nigeria. No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature, has the legal authority over defence.”

Amotekun is a reality , no going back, says Ogun govt

When contacted, the Ogun State Government described the AGF’s position as “a mere statement from another government official.”

He said, “It is a mere statement by another government official. Other political leaders across the South-West have spoken in favour of Amotekun. Other regions are planning to emulate South-West governors on the ideas and ideals of Amotekun.

“There’s no going back. We can challenge it in the law court. The AGF must know the truth that Amotekun is a reality, nothing is changing it. There’s no going back on Amotekun.”

But the Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said the state government had yet to be informed.

But the state governor, in a telephone interview with Channels Television, said the South-West governors had not met on Malami’s statement.

“We have not met. When we meet, we will react appropriately, but one thing is clear, laws are not made in the office of the AGF. He is only meant to interpret the law,” he said.

The Chief Press Secretary to Osun State governor, Ismail Omipidan, said Amotekun was a joint initiative of all South-West governors.

“Amotekun is a joint operation. The decision was taken jointly. And I believe the governors will also meet to review whatever position if the needs arises to do that,” Omipidan said.

But the state governor, in a telephone interview with Channels Television, said the South-West governors had not met on Malami’s statement.

“We have not met. When we meet, we will react appropriately, but one thing is clear, laws are not made in the office of the AGF. He is only meant to interpret the law,” he said.

A renown historian, Prof Banji Akintoye, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the Yoruba would in court challenge the declaration of Amotekun as illegal by the Federal Government.

‘Structure workplace to accommodate old, young workers

The Convener of the Employee Marketplace Initiative, Mr Nduneche Ezurike, has urged organisations to entrench a cross-generational workplace that combines the digital capability of the millennial with the emotional intelligence of the X-Generation.

Ezurike said this in an article he authored, titled, ‘2020: The decade of the millennial’ which was published on his LinkedIn handle.

He noted that this would enable a more harmonious working environment

He declared that in the current decade, many Chief Executive Officers would emerge from the cohort of those who were described as entitled, open, connected and confident with little regard for traditional hierarchies.

He pointed out that ahead of the famed disruptive technologies and digital transformation, the millennial question could determine the success or failure of many organisations in the new decade.

He said, “For the first time, three out of every five employees will be millennial and one a centennial. This means that many CEOs in this decade will emerge from the cohort of those who are described as entitled, open, connected and confident with little regard to traditional hierarchies.”

He explained that most organisations in Africa seeking to build sustainable businesses must be ready to confront four defining workplace challenges, first of which was to always design and implement a bottom-up approach to organisational strategy.

In the era of talent economy, he advised employers to embrace an environment where employees could work remotely, virtually and mobile. In his words, “clocking in and out of the office or signing punctuality register may not work anymore.”

He specifically also charged organisations, especially mid to large organisations to design an Employee Value Proposition; not a mission statement emphasizing that employee engagement should seek to harness employee self-interest to enhance the organisational benefits of innovation and business growth.

“The key issue is that what is in it for the millennial employee is no more a compliment, but a key component of the enterprise strategy both in the short run and long run,” he said.

Man dies in Benin hotel’s swimming pool

 

A 25-year-old man, identified as Sunday Patrick, on Sunday, reportedly drowned in the swimming pool of a hotel owned by National President of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Osakpamwan Eriyo, in Benin City, Edo State.

Eyewitnesses said Patrick was confirmed dead by the doctor at a hospital he was rushed to after he was brought out of the swimming pool.

Patrick was said to have gone to swim at the Mega Touch Hotel pool when the incident happened.

A source at the hotel, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the incident as unfortunate and shocking.

“We have never witnessed this kind of incident in this hotel and everybody was very disturbed by it. In fact, the hotel management tried all it could to save his life, but he couldn’t make it,” the source added.

The incident, according to him, happened around 6.30pm on Sunday, adding that many of the hotel workers did not report for duty on Monday to avoid being picked up by the police.

The manager of the hotel was said to have been arrested and detained for questioning.

The spokesman for the, Chidi Nwabuzor, who confirmed the incident, said the mother of the deceased, Mrs Rose Patrick, reported the incident around 7pm.

Nwabuzor said investigation was ongoing into the death of the young man.

When contacted for comments, Eriyo did not pick calls made to his telephone although he sent a text message promising to call back, but he never did as of the time of filing this report.

Court reserves judgment in engineer’s rape case

Court reserves judgment in engineer’s rape case

The Lagos State High Court in Igbosere has fixed March 25, 2020, for judgment in a suit filed by the state government against an ExxonMobil engineer, James Onuoha, who was accused of raping his tenant’s 14-year-old niece.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye fixed the date on Tuesday after hearing arguments from the counsel representing all parties to the suit.

According to the prosecution, Onuoha had on January 4, 2016, around 11.30am at No. 25 Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Oke-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos, had an unlawful sexual act with the victim without her consent.

Onuoha was first arraigned in January 2016 before the Igbosere Magistrates’ Court on four counts bordering on defilement and the case file was sent to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for advice.

The matter was transferred to the high court for trial following the legal advice from the DPP.

The offences were said to be contrary to sections 134 (2) and 135 (1), and punishable under sections 137 and 258 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

The prosecution team, led by Jide Martins, called witnesses in the course of the trial.

Onuoha, while being led in evidence by his counsel, Victor Olowonla, narrated how he visited the scene of the incident to inspect the apartment rented by his tenant, one Kenneth, who was not at home.

Onuoha told the court that the tenant did not pick his telephone calls and he decided to visit him at home.

He added that when he got to the house, the tenant was not at home but he was granted access to his apartment for inspection by the victim, who told him that she was 16 years old.

He told the court that he did not touch the girl, but gave her N1,000 as a gift because it was Christmas period

TUC, PENGASSAN call for action against insecurity

TUC, PENGASSAN call for action against insecurity

The Trade Union Congress and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria have urged the Federal Government to urgently address the insecurity situation in the country.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its National Executive Council meeting during the week, TUC called on the Federal Government to adopt more practical efforts towards wiping out killings, kidnapping and insurgency to save the country from total collapse.

The union in the communiqué which was signed by its president, Quadri Olaleye, and Secretary General, Musa Lawal, resolved to participate in the rally against war slated for January 25, as part of measures to promote global peace.

On its own, PENGASSAN called on the government to declare a state of emergency on internal national security saying it is the core responsibility of the state.

In a statement signed by its president, Ndukaku Ohaeri, PENGASSAN maintained that the peace and progress of any nation depended on peace and tranquility.

It said, “While all effort has been on terrorism, the incidences of kidnapping, armed robbery, stealing, cattle rustling, ethnic clashes and cultism have greatly increased.

“There is a need for the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and other internal security agencies to become more visible in maintaining the security of lives and properties in Nigeria.

“This should start with re-orientation of officers and men, capacity building, remuneration and strengthening of community police relations.”

PENGASSAN also called for the use of modern facilities and technologies to enhance community surveillance, saying that effort should also be made to identify and weed out officers whose unethical conducts were undeserving of the sanctity of the force.

FG orders cinemas to stop showing Banky W’s movie

 

The National Film and Video Censors Board has ordered cinemas nationwide to stop showing a recently released movie, titled, Sugar Rush.

The NVFCB, Executive Director, Addedayo Thomas, however, told The PUNCH that the movie was not suspended because of some scenes found to portray the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as an incompetent organisation.

The film, which has reportedly grossed about N160m since its release on December 25, 2019, was directed by Kayode Kasum, and largely publicised by singer Bankole Wellington aka Banky W and wife, Adesua.

The movie was, however, removed from cinemas by the NFVCB, the Federal Government agency responsible for classifying movies and giving approval for release.

The film centres on three sisters who accidentally discover $800,000 (N288m) in the house of a corrupt man.

According to some online critics, the comedy drama also shows failed attempts by the EFCC to recover the money, depicting the EFCC operatives as incompetent and clumsy.

Several online reports suggest that the poor portrayal of the EFCC in the comedy was one of the reasons it was pulled out of cinemas.

Confirming the suspension of the movie, Banky W said he was optimistic that it would return to the theatres.

He wrote on Twitter, “Thank you all so much for the support that our film Sugar Rush has received. Unfortunately, due to issues that are way beyond our control, Sugar Rush has been suspended from playing in cinemas.

“We’re hoping the issues will be resolved quickly, so we can resume screening as soon as possible.”

In a subsequent tweet, the musician said the NFVCB was already looking to resolve it.

The Executive Director of the NFVCB, however, told The PUNCH during an interview that the movie was not suspended because of pressure from the EFCC.

He added, “The movie was given temporary approval in December. They had told us that they wanted to release it on Christmas Day and they were thus given a temporary approval pending the approval of a permanent one.

“The temporary one lapsed before they could complete the process of getting the permanent one.

“The matter has nothing to do with the EFCC as is being reported on social media.”

Thomas said the movie had not just significantly increased box office revenues within a short period, but had improved our cinematic culture which is sine qua non for attracting the investment Nigeria desires.

“I am currently working with the distributor, producer, director and key actors to grant final approval for the resumed exhibition at cinemas,” he said

Ogun ex-deputy gov, former PDP secretary join APC

Ogun ex-deputy gov, former PDP secretary join APC

State has said that some chieftains of the Action Democratic Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party will defect to the APC on Tuesday (tomorrow).

This is contained in a statement issued by the Publicity Secretary of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Tunde Oladunjoye.

The party said Governor Dapo Abiodun would welcome the likes of the former deputy governor, Alhaja Salmat Badru; the governorship candidate of the ADC in the last governorship election, Gboyega Isiaka; and two-term member of the House of Representatives, Dave Salako.

Oladunjoye added that a former chairman of the PDP in the state, Joju Fadairo, and a former secretary of the party, Chief Pegba Otemolu, would also be received into the APC by the governor.

The list of the defectors according to the APC spokesperson, included, Chief Iyabode Apampa, Alhaji Ali Ajibode; and Mr Waliu Taiwo among others.

Oladunjoye said the formal declaration would take place at Ake Palace Ground, Abeokuta.

The statement added that the governor, in line with his policy of inclusiveness, would receive the politicians and their followers across the 20 local government areas of the state.

The statement read, “The event slated for next Tuesday at the Ake Palace Ground, Abeokuta, Ogun State, would mark the formal declaration of the political bigwigs and thousands of their followers from the 20 local government areas of Ogun State into the ruling party.”

Border closure effective only in South, difficult to enforce in North –Ex-Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Border closure effective only in South, difficult to enforce in North –Ex-Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Border closure is not something you do casually. You may close it, in case of a war, to prevent an incursion into your territory. But it is not the kind decision you take for the purpose of stopping smuggling.

How many borders are in the world? Maybe there are 5,000 country-to-country borders. So you get institutions that are well equipped to monitor the borders, but you don’t close them. You use surveillance cameras, drones, and other equipment or facilities because nobody can monitor a border 100 per cent, except you build walls.

In parts of Africa, where borders are very porous, like the Nigeria-Benin borders, for example, the Yoruba on the side of Benin Republic are not conscious of the modern border created by the British and the French. They have been trading for decades among themselves and smuggling is part of their business. You cannot stop it, but you can only minimise it by using intelligence to curb arms smuggling and other contrabands.

Are you saying the border closure was not well thought out?

It wasn’t well thought out. It was precipitous and sudden. They just said, “We are closing the borders tomorrow” and then they closed it. It is childish and it was borne out of a military mentality, which is still playing out in governance.

I was in London in 1983 when Major General Muhammadu Buhari took over power from the civilian government at the time. When the news filtered in that his regime was jailing politicians for 100 years, we all laughed. When we heard that the regime was planning to arrest Chief Obafemi Awolowo, I said that those boys were playing with danger. They overthrew Buhari shortly afterwards.

Closing the borders is not the best decision. Decisions like this should be taken with depth. People should come together and come out with a position, not that you just announce it overnight. The closure will not necessarily stop smuggling. If it stops it for a time, then you should put in place strong institutions that will address the problem.

Do you believe the closure has achieved its objectives?

I think the closure is getting too protracted. Four months, going to five months, is too long. You are dealing with sovereign states and no state can live in isolation. They need us and we need them.

When I was in Cameroon, domestic products manufactured in Nigeria were taken to Cameroon and petroleum products were being smuggled with the complicity of the gendarmes. It was business for Nigerians and the gendarmes. There is nothing you can do about it, especially in a situation where government agents are the accomplices of the smugglers.

You cannot win that kind of fight; you can only minimise it by ensuring there is a joint patrol team on both sides of the borders and also create a buffer zone. Any contraband caught should be impounded permanently.

Along the northern borders, the closure doesn’t make sense because there is a thousand routes that could be accessed by using donkeys. Any Customs or immigration official who fails to cooperate with smugglers on these routes may be risking his life.

Are you saying the closure is only effective in the south?

It is effective mainly in the South and difficult to enforce in the North. The people on both sides of the borders are the same. The Hausa in Nigeria are the same Hausa in Niger Republic. The Kanuri people in Nigeria are also on the other side of the border. Many Cameroonians are in the Nigerian Army, the Foreign Service and other institutions. They simply cross to their home towns on foot and they use the same market as their Nigerian neighbours. So, the closure is more effective in the south than in the north.

What is the implication of the closure for Nigeria’s relationship with other ECOWAS member states?

Nigeria needs ECOWAS because the francophone monetary zone is fully integrated by France. They have a customs union, a common currency and the same educational system. So it is the Anglophone countries that really need the ECOWAS to align with the Francophone countries. They can afford to pull out of ECOWAS and abandon Nigeria and that would be the end of the organisation and all the efforts made almost 45 years ago would just be lost.

It is not enough to have an ECOWAS parliament, ECOWAS court and all the other institutions if people are not benefiting from them. France’s military bases are protecting the Francophone territories. They don’t really need ECOMOG as long as you don’t interfere in their affairs.

I was in Cote d’Ivoire when the crisis in that country started and Nigeria wanted to help. I recall that the President sent two fighter jets to Abidjan, but France requested that the planes should be returned. Then French brought their troops and they were able to manage the crisis. So, the Francophone countries are still under the influence of France. They can afford to pull out of ECOWAS and Nigeria will be the worse for it.

Do you think the conditions given to Benin and Niger for the re-opening of the borders are fair?

One of the conditions is that a Trade Facilitation Committee, which will have the ministers of finance and trade of Nigeria, Benin and Niger as members, will be set up to promote intra-regional trade and to introduce sanctions against smuggling. Let us assume, for example, that a shipload of rice arrives in Benin, we know that they can’t consume it all. Those goods may not necessarily be coming to Nigeria because they also send goods to landlocked countries, such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, through their ports. Their imports are not for Nigeria alone.

Nigeria needs her West African neighbours. So border closure decisions must be subjected to very deep debate by civil servants, experts and the National Planning Commission. Such decisions should not be taken by a small group of people only.

The government claims the closure has positively impacted the economy? Do you think this is true?

We are looking at the wrong side of the economy. The problem is the open market. Our market is open to all commodities that are competing with manufactured goods in Nigeria. A country that opens its market to all kinds of imported goods is bound to have serious issues with unemployment and poverty. The competition with foreign manufactured products has in the past three decades forced the exit of many thriving Nigerian brands and companies.

The list includes Michelin and Dunlop tyres, Berec and Exide batteries, Bata, Lennards, Clark shoes, the assembly plants of Volkswagen, Leyland, Peugeot Automobile, Steyr tractors, Annamco trucks and the textile mills in Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, to mention a few among hundreds of local industries, which have gone down with hundreds of thousands of their workers.

The countries, which have developed their economies, rather opened their borders but closed their markets. India shut its market to all imported manufactured goods for several decades to enable the local industries to mature. The slogan buy ‘Made in India’ was enforced. The internal demands were initially met before the qualities were good enough to compete internationally.

Are you saying the current policy cannot grow the Nigerian economy?

Nigeria’s manufacturing industries can neither grow nor come out of the present economic miasma because of competition from other countries.

In the automobile industry, fully built cars have replaced the once-thriving Nigeria’s automobile industry. The Volkswagen series ( Bettle, Rio, Passat, Santana, Igala) were until the 1980s manufactured in Nigeria. The Peugeot series, (305, 404, 504, 505) were official cars used by the President, ministers, government officials, and the general public. They were also exported to West and Central African countries, whereas, at the time of their closure, most of them had achieved over 40 per cent local content components.

The oil refineries are not working and Nigeria, with a crude oil production of over two million barrels a day, imports petroleum products. This is most incredible, ironical and absurd.

Do you think that stopping the supply of petroleum products to border communities in the country check smuggling?

Those involved in smuggling are Nigerians. I lived in Cameroon for three years and in Buoya, there were no petrol filling stations. The residents bought petrol from roadside sellers.

If you stop supplying fuel to the border communities, people will find a way around it. Denying the border communities fuel supply is not a good strategy. You have to put in place something effective, a deterrent.

If our refineries were functioning, we could sell fuel to people living in Cameroon and Benin Republic just like we sell power. It is painful when you import fuel at great cost and some people smuggle it out.

Most of the people in Francophone countries use motorcycles, the car is not a priority for them. The right thing is to sell fuel to these other countries officially. By refining products abroad, we are empowering foreign countries. Turkey has no oil, but it has 27 refineries because oil refinery is big business for the authorities. They import crude oil, refine and sell to other countries.

Our refineries were built in 1976 or thereabouts, yet they are not functioning. What they are doing in the Niger Delta is distillation and it is useable. We can distill all the fuel we need in Nigeria, but racketeering will not make it work.

Operation Amotekun: Carry illegal arms, be arrested, police warn OPC, hunters

Operation Amotekun: Carry illegal arms, be arrested, police warn OPC, hunters

The police on Sunday strongly warned the South-West Stakeholders Security Group working with the Western Nigeria Security Outfit codenamed Operation Amotekun (leopard), against any breach of security.

The police commands in Ekiti, Ogun and Ondo states during separate interviews with our correspondents, said they would not tolerate illegal possession of firearms by the members of the group.

They said anybody in possession of illegal weapons would be arrested.

The SSSG, comprising the Oodua Peoples Congress, the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, the South-West Hunters Association, the South-West Agbekoya Group, Agbekoya Farmers Society Group, Yoruba Youth Council and the Community Security Awareness Initiative Corps of Nigeria, is led by Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams.

Lagos, Osun and Ekiti state governments had, on Friday, said they would recruit about 1,320 operatives from the OPC and other groups for the Operation Amotekun, which was launched by the South-West states on Thursday.

The states, had before the launch, said the OPC and other members of the SSSG, would be used for intelligence gathering.

He said for effectiveness, they should be trained and supervised by the police. “Security is about life and death. The police and other security agents can train them and license their gun use to greatly assist in the operation. They should not detain suspects but hand them over to the police,’’ Adams said.

Following serial killings and kidnapping in the South-West, governors in the zone had at a meeting in June decided to set up Operation Amotekun.

No fewer than 120 patrol vehicles were on Thursday made available to the security outfit.

The Police Public Relations Officer for the Ekiti State Police Command, Sunday Abutu, said any OPC member that had prohibited firearms would be arrested.

Abutu said it was the responsibility of the police to arrest and prosecute any individual or group bearing arms illegally.

The police spokesman, who said the community security outfits like the vigilantes and hunters could not carry prohibited firearms, said, “The approved local vigilante groups can only carry Dane guns.

“Even people that are going to use those ones (Dane and local guns) have to be approved by the police. The police know those ones that are prohibited and the ones that such groups can use.

“Once we see anybody or group with prohibited firearms, we will arrest them because they are not allowed to carry such.”

You can’t carry AK-47 rifles, police tell Amotekun operatives

The Police Public Relations Officer in Ogun State, Abimbola Oyeyemi, also warned that any civilian member of the Operation Amotekun found guilty of using unlicensed firearms would be arrested.

He said the command would not condone any form of possession of prohibited firearms from members of the Amotekun security operation.

According to him, anybody that does not belong to any security agency, such as the army, the police, and the customs, cannot carry AK-47 rifles.

According to Oyeyemi, the essence of issuing the firearm licence is to have biometric data of the bearer in such a way that if the person uses it to commit a crime, the police will arrest such a person.

He said, “You cannot be in the possession of prohibited firearms and you expect us to condone that. For example, somebody who does not belong to any security agency such as the army, the police and the customs cannot carry an AK-47 rifle. You can’t carry a pump-action.”

Also, the Ondo Police Command said it was illegal for anybody to possess firearms without being licensed.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Femi Joseph, said anyone who wished to get firearms should get the licence.

He said, “There are categories of firearms. The ones that are prohibited are those ones using cartridges. If you are carrying them without being licensed, it is illegal, but the Dane guns used by local hunters in the farm are not prohibited because they don’t use cartridges.”

We’re still expecting governors, DAWN’s invitation, says Agbekoya

In a related development, three days after the launch of the Operation Amotekun, the Agbekoya Farmers Association on Sunday said that the South-West governors and the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria had not incorporated its security arm into the initiative.

The National Publicity Secretary of the group, Chief Tunji Bandele, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday.

Bandele, who explained that the farmers’ association had over 2,500 men in its security department, described the Amotekun initiative as the best thing to happen to the Yoruba nation.

Northern elders, Southern Kaduna back Operation Amotekun

Meanwhile, the Convener of Northern Elders’ Forum and former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof Ango Abdullahi, on Sunday commended governors of the South-West for establishing Operation Amotekun.

His position is contrary to an assertion by some northern youths that Amotekun is a military wing of the OPC.

The Northern Youths Council of Nigerian led by Alhaji Isah Abubakar, had on Thursday, urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), not to allow what he described as “unconstitutionality” to prevail.

But Abdullahi on Sunday said, “I should support anything which enhances the security of Nigeria and Nigerians anytime, anywhere.”

On its part, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union hailed the formation of Operation Amotekun.

The National Public Relations Officer of the SOKAPU, Mr Luka Binniyat, in a statement on Sunday, called for the establishment of a similar security outfit in Southern Kaduna and the Middle Belt

The union said this became imperative in view of the spate of killings, kidnapping, arson and looting in the North-Central zone.

It disclosed that the ransoms paid by Christian families, churches and communities in Kaduna had risen from N300m to N400m as of January 11, 2020.

SOKAPU said, “The recent attacks underscore the urgent need for a vibrant, government funded vigilante organisation for every community in Southern Kaduna and indeed the entire Middle Belt.”

KAPU seeks similar outfit in M’Belt

“Adopting this security measure for our communities will not only improve security but also ensure greater safety for our people.

“We strongly support what the Yoruba states have done by establishing Amotekun to secure and protect all law-abiding citizens in their domain.

“We look forward to Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Niger Delta leaders toeing the same path of the Yoruba states to assist security agencies in protecting their communities.”

Amotekun within ambits of law – Ado Ekiti NBA

The Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ado Ekiti Chapter, Samuel Falade, also said that the South-West governors had not breached any section of the 1999 Constitution by establishing Operation Amotekun.

Falade, who said since the kernel of the existence of any government was to guarantee the security of lives and property, said t the South-West governors only exercised their rights under the law.

A senior police officer in the force headquarters, who spoke on condition of anonymity in Abuja on Sunday, said, “The law on the use or bearing of firearms is clear. Only the police and members of the armed forces are permitted to bear or use firearms.

“Therefore, Amotekun operatives are not allowed to bear firearms, this is beyond their mandate. Any of them found with AK-47 rifles or any modern weapon will be arrested and prosecuted.”

Asked if the police authorities were comfortable with the personnel of the regional security outfit bearing Dane guns, the officer said the Nigeria Police Force would not have any issue with that.

He stated, “Since the Amotekun personnel consist of hunters, vigilantes, and other local guards, they may bear Dane guns. I believe this is permitted since hunters are allowed to carry Dane guns for hunting.”

“But the police will not close their eyes to illegal use of firearms or to the acquisition and use of sophisticated rifles and other deadly weapons,” the officer warned.

Ogun not pulling out of Amotekun, says Abiodun

The Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, on Sunday, said his absence from the launch of the security outfit was not an attempt by the state to pull out.

He said this on the sidelines of the annual thanksgiving by a former governor of the state, Gbenga Daniel, in Sagamu.

When asked if his absence from the launch was not an indication that the state had withdrawn from the outfit, Abiodun said, “That is very false, not only false but incorrect. The Amotekun was conceived to be a joint patrol initiative of all the six South-West states.”

On why he did not attend the launch held last Thursday, Abiodun said the postponement of the initial date contributed to his absence.

11 airlines inactive, fail to renew licences

11 airlines inactive, fail to renew licences

Eleven non-scheduled airlines involved in charter flight services failed to renew their Air Operator Certificates which expired between 2018 and mid-2019.

There are about 39 scheduled and non-scheduled domestic airlines in the country. Thirty of the airlines are charter flight operators while nine are scheduled flight operators.

One charter flight operator’s certificate has been suspended, two are inactive and eight are currently expired.

Data gathered from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority showed that four of the charter airline’s AOCs expired since 2018.

The remaining seven operators’ certificates expired at different times in 2019, the latest being in the month of August.

Upon expiration of an AOC, an operator is expected to have it renewed in 90 days, failure to do this renders the airline inactive.

It was also gathered that an operator may be required to start the process all over again if it wants to renew the AOC after the 90-day period.

An AOC is a certificate authorising a firm to perform specific commercial air transport operations either as scheduled or non-scheduled operator.

It is issued by the NCAA once an intending operator has the required personnel, assets and systems in place to ensure the safety of its employees and the general public.

An AOC applicant must also have an Air Transport Licence issued by the NCAA and permits the holder to operate passenger or cargo air services.

Once obtained, an AOC lasts for two year before recertification.

According to the General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye, the process of getting an AOC to run an airline whether scheduled, non-scheduled or private is rigorous and capital intensive at the initial stage.

He said unlike the initial process, done in five stages, recertification involved mainly paper work but delays could come from the applicant if they failed to meet the requirements early.

Adurogboye stated that some of the airlines were already at various stages of renewal but were yet to complete the process.

He explained that the process of getting or renewing an AOC, though capital intensive, was standard practice all over the world to ensure that the operator had the necessary requirements to run an airline.

The NCAA spokesperson said, “Some of the processes will require spending. So whatever time is specified, meeting the requirements depends on the applicant. It is not sacrosanct.

“If for instance you say it is three months for recertification and the person requires about N300m, he may apply for due process which takes a minimum of nine months before it is ready.

“But because the airline already met the requirements for an AOC and is a running organisation, they may be given time to revalidate the AOC. But if we have to revoke it for any reason, the person will begin the process all over again.”

The Head of Research and Corporate Travel at Zenith Travel, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, said some of the challenges confronting airlines and even those intending to get an AOC or revalidate an existing one included paucity of funding, manpower and equipment.

He stated that funding could become a problem if investors pulled out, if liability exceeded assets and when the minimum bank deposit required could not be met.

“Again, some critical operations staff as specified in the Civil Aviation Regulations may not be available or the airline’s aircraft and spares required by regulations are unavailable,” he added.

The NCAA had in early 2019 threatened to revoke the AOCs of unauthorised charter flight operators, adding that only holders of valid Air Transport Licence, Airline Operating Permit and AOC were allowed to operate non-scheduled flights.

Following the warning, the regulatory agency had gone ahead to list the current certified charter operators.

Stakeholders posit that airlines are constrained by so many challenges that undermine the investment in their operations.

This, they noted, included the fact that even with the harsh business environment that airlines endured, Nigerians paid some of the cheapest air fares in the world.

But despite the operating environment and the rigorous process as well as the multi-billion naira investment involved, many investors still apply for the AOCs from time to time to run airlines.

In a recent interview with The PUNCH, the Chief Operating Officer of Dana Air, Mr Obi Mbanuzuo, said most investors coming into the industry only saw the glamorous side of the business.

He said most of them would not be aware of some of the challenges until they started the process.

He added, “The aviation industry is glamorous. So, some moneybags come in without reckoning with the cost. I wouldn’t know who is coming in next but the people underestimate the industry and when they come in, they understand better.

“First and foremost, the regulator does not allow you to have just two airplanes for scheduled flight service. Although there are many other things to do in the industry, people don’t do them. They prefer to run an airline, without knowing the challenges.”

Ohunayo said it had become necessary for the Federal Government to look into airlines’ operating environment from airport infrastructure to maintenance schedule.

“The recent embarrassment of international flights landing in Accra, Ghana and Cotonou, Benin Republic says it all,” he added.

He said the government should consider being only the regulator and commercialise other services within the industry.

Group wants Obaseki’s govt probed for money laundering

Group wants Obaseki’s govt probed for money laundering

The Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to probe the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.

The group hinged its call on the reported arrest of the Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mr Osaze Osemwingie-Ero, by the INTERPOL in France in December 2019 for alleged money laundering.

The group called for a public inquiry into the reported allegations of money laundering.

A statement by the group’s Country Director, Mr John Mayaki, also demanded a probe of the memoranda of understanding announced by the Obaseki-led administration involving millions of dollars.

The statement read, “It is safe to say here that public trust has been badly damaged by these allegations of money laundering in Europe.

“The EFCC has to immediately intervene to save the country and the (regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari) from the looming international embarrassment since major national newspapers already reported the discovery of the dirty money allegedly amounting to $2m.”

TCN to push for Discos’ recapitalisation

TCN to push for Discos’ recapitalisation

Power distribution companies must be recapitalised for Nigeria’s power industry to work and the Transmission Company of Nigeria has vowed to push for the Discos’ recapitalisation this year.

Speaking on some of the company’s targets for 2020 in the latest Power Wheel interview of the TCN obtained in Abuja on Sunday, the Managing Director of the company, Usman Mohammed, insisted that the Discos currently lacked the capacity to distribute power effectively.

He said, “We are working to see that all the projects that we have under the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme will pick up and they will continue to be implemented in a sustainable manner.

“We are going to actually push for the recapitalisation of Discos in 2020. We believe that by doing that we are pushing the power sector to sustainable growth and development. The power sector has to attract investments.”

Mohammed added, “The only way we can attract investments is to ensure that the power sector is sustainable. This means that every party is working and the regulator provides what is called a cost-reflective tariff consistent with the position of ECOWAS.”

He, however, stressed that the TCN would not wait for the Discos; rather it would continue expanding the grid, while pushing for the recapitalisation of the distribution companies.

He said, “If you look at the current situation that we are now, of course, transmission will continue to expand. We will not wait for the Discos. It takes a long time to build a transmission infrastructure than Discos’, which is easier. Therefore, we are looking at transmission as the enabler.

“Out of the 738 interfaces that we have with the Discos, only 421 have protection on their side, the remaining 317 do not have protection on the side of the Discos. This means faults in the houses of people can easily hit the TCN transformers and burn them.”

He added, “So we need to recapitalise the Discos for them to have commensurate investments to fix their networks and provide meters so that they can reduce the Average Technical and Commercial losses in their system for electricity to work.”

Mohammed stated that the government could not continue to fund the power sector on the grounds that key arms of the industry had been substantially privatised.

He said, “The industry can only work when all the players are working. If transmission doesn’t work, it will bankrupt generation and distribution.

“If distribution doesn’t collect the money, nobody gets money and this means government has to continue to finance generators through payment assurance. But for how long are we going to continue to do that? So we have to fix distribution.”

Mohammed said the current managers of distribution companies lacked the capacity to effectively distribute power nationwide.

EFCC has frozen Shehu Sani’s accounts – Aide

EFCC has frozen Shehu Sani’s accounts – Aide

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has frozen the bank accounts of ex-lawmaker, Shehu Sani, according to his spokesman.

This is just as the former Kaduna-Central lawmaker’s detention has entered the 14th day.

In a statement on Sunday, Suleiman Ahmed, Senior Special Adviser to Sani, said the EFCC was not being sincere over the investigation of his principal.

The EFCC had on December 30, 2019, arrested Sani for allegedly collecting $24, 000 (N8.6m) from Sani Dauda, owner of ASD Motors who was under investigation by the EFCC.

The money, according to the EFCC, was handed to the former lawmaker after promising Dauda that he would use the money to bribe the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu,

Although the former lawmaker denied the allegation, the anti-graft agency insisted he had questions to answer.

The commission also alleged that Sani collected money from someone with the promise to use it to bribe the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, an allegation both Sani and the CJN have denied.

In the statement, Sani’s aide accused the EFCC of bias in his principal’s case.

He said Sani, who is a fierce critic of the President, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was being persecuted and subsequently berated the acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, for trying to deceive Nigerians on the issue.

Ahmed said, “Mr Orilade, what is the connection between allegations of extortion of $25,000 and then searching his residence, blocking his accounts and forcing him to declare his assets?

“What can you say on the allegation that the accuser of Shehu Sani can neither read nor write; that it was the EFCC that guided him on what to say?

“We have it on record that Shehu Sani’s accuser has no pending case with the Supreme Court, how did he give Shehu Sani bribe to give the CJN?

“We have it on record that Shehu Sani’s accuser has no pending or ongoing case with the EFCC, how did he give Shehu Sani bribe to give the EFCC or its chairman?

“It is not enough posting statement about Shehu Sani. If you have any evidence or fact, why not post it now?”

Anxiety as Supreme Court rules on Sokoto gov poll today

Anxiety as Supreme Court rules on Sokoto gov poll today

news filtered in on Friday that the Supreme Court will deliver its judgment on the Sokoto State governorship poll on Monday (today).

Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the Peoples Democratic Party won with a slim margin of 342 votes after a supplementary election.

The All Progressives Congress in Sokoto State and its governorship candidate in the 2019 general elections, Alhaji Ahmed Sokoto, challenged the victory up to the Supreme Court.

Sokoto had challenged the judgments of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and that of the Court of Appeal that dismissed his petition for lack of merit.

To avert any breakdown of law and order, the Commissioner of Police in Sokoto State, Alhaji Ibrahim Kaoje, said no fewer than 1,000 policemen would be deployed in the venue of the judgment.

Kaoje said, “We are on a 24-hour red alert. We will keep the state safe and secure.”

Imo burglar jumps to death from two-storey building

Imo burglar jumps to death from two-storey building

A burglar, Uche Akunacha, 41, has died after jumping down from a two-storey building he entered to steal.

The police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, said on Sunday that Akunacha was running away from the apartment of one Tochukwu Okafor when he jumped out and died.

Ikeokwu explained that Okafor tried to prevent the burglar from running out of the room by raising the alarm, adding that the thief managed to escape and jumped to his death.

It was gathered that the burglar landed on his head, a situation that gave him no chance of survival though he was rushed to hospital.

He said, “One Tochukwu Okafor of the College Road, Mgbidi, reported that he came back to his house and saw his door key damaged.

“On entering, he saw a man with a spanner ransacking his room and he prevented the thief from running out of the room and raised the alarm.

“The hoodlum managed to free himself and jumped down from the corridor of two-storey building and landed on his head.”

The police spokesman added that the burglar made a confessional statement, which was recorded, adding that his wife came to see him at hospital before he died.

“He was rushed to a hospital, where he gave his name as Uche Akunacha, 41, from Amakoha Owerri. He made a confessional video-recorded statement on his dying bed and his wife was contacted before he died,” Ikeokwu stressed.

Son kills 62-year-old mother in Imo

State as one Sunday Agwim allegedly murdered his mother, Mrs Christiana Agwim.

Son kills 62-year-old mother in Imo

The police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, told Southern City News that the 47-year-old suspect had been arrested for killing his mother.

He said, “We received intelligence from one Jude Mbionwu, a security coordinator at Umuobom, who revealed that one Sunday Agwim, 47, killed his mother, one Christiana Agwim, 62, hitting a hammer and a machete on her head and completely grounded the head into powder beyond recognition with the hammer.

“The scene was immediately visited and the suspect was arrested and exhibits recovered. The corpse was not taken to the mortuary because of the damage to the head; rather, coroners’ forms were completed and a doctor from the UTH Nnewi, Anambra State, conducted an autopsy on the corpse to enable the burial to take place.

“In his confessional statement, the suspect stated that he never knew what came upon him.”

The police spokesperson added that the suspect would be charged at the end of the investigation

Buhari’s daughter goes to party in presidential jet

Buhari’s daughter goes to party in presidential jet

It’s one of the most amazing creatures in nature, though fear, cunning and deathliness rule its world. The weak don’t call its name in vain, especially at night. It runs, swims and even jumps when extremely necessary. The exquisite embroidery on its skin is the product of painstaking hypertech symmetry. Its oblong head, glassed eyes, obscure nose, pronged-teeth, thready tongue, tapering body and a brief tail bespeak the physical architecture of the ultimate, solitary killer. It’s the snake.

The snake, like Nigeria’s political class, evokes fear, hate and the capacity to do the unbelievable. How the small mouth slits open to swallow a kill bigger than its head is a wonder to behold. The journey of the kill from the mouth through the narrow neck to the stomach tunnel is indescribable. Some people don’t find it funny when the legless creature creeps on sight, moving with the aid of the friction its underbelly makes with the ground. What a clever, evasive, slithering, slender soul! Are there similarities between the snake and Nigeria’s political class? I don’t know. But I know both were created by God with the same clay.

Were it not so, the Federal Government headed by Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) won’t schedule an increase in electricity tariffs at a period when power supply is as scarce as hen’s teeth. Were it not so, Buhari won’t call on Nigerians a few days ago to stop going abroad for medical treatment when he himself is a regular pilgrim to overseas hospitals. Were it not so, the Department of State Services won’t arrest and detain an innocent Nigerian, Anthony Okolie, over a false allegation that he HIJACKED the telephone line of Buhari’s lastborn, Hanan.

Of the 7.7 billion global population, a BBC report in 2013 said 1.2 billion are Catholic faithful. The leader of the Catholic Church worldwide, 83-year-old Pope Francis, recently showed that he was mortal, after all, when he lost patience during a Mass on New Year’s Eve. The Supreme Pontiff slapped off the hands of an unidentified woman, who suddenly grabbed his right hand when he was greeting adherents at the Nativity scene on Saint Peter’s Square, Rome, almost causing him to fall.

Admitting his short-temperedness, the Pope, before celebrating Mass in the New Year, apologised for his action the previous day, saying, “We lose patience many times. It happens to me too. I apologise for the bad example given yesterday.” To further show his contrition, the Pope, during his first Mass in the New Year, said, “Every form of violence against women is a blaspheme against God, who was born of woman.” He declared women as ‘the source of life’ and stressed that they ‘(are) continually insulted, beaten, raped, forced to prostitute themselves and to suppress the life they bear in their womb’.

The Pope realises the sacredness, enormity and importance of his responsibility to not only the Church, but to humanity – hence he was quick to disembark from the temperamental high horse and offer profuse apologies. Pope Francis wasn’t made with the same clay as the snake and Nigeria’s political class. Though human, Pope Francis is godly.

The Federal Government flickered a snaky tongue penultimate Friday when the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, announced that Nigerians should stop going abroad for medical treatment. Onu had represented Buhari at the inauguration of projects at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State. Nothing but wholesome wickedness, heinous hypocrisy and abominable arrogance could make Buhari deny others what he enjoys, and yet come out publicly to exhibit his callous insensitivity.

In December of 2014, I attended the All Progressives Congress presidential primary at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos. It was an all-night political spectacle that had Buhari, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, then governors Rabiu Kwankwaso and Rochas Okorocha, and publisher Sam Ndah-Isaiah, vying for the coveted ticket to confront incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari was the favourite; tall, slim, taciturn and promissory. I watched his body language closely as he moved meekly around the stadium, greeting his teeming admirers and consulting with various state delegates in the stands, amid relaxed security. He was accessible. He shook hands with everyone, poor folks inclusive.

About six years after I encountered Buhari in Lagos, he’s still tall, slim, taciturn but the promise has evaporated like dew at dawn. In place of the promise, there’s a growing corruptive indulgence in the family and regime of Buhari. Firstly, Hanan had whined into the waxed ears of the Yusuf Bichi-led DSS. Like a child that she is, Hanan, who was studying abroad, got her complaints to Bichi that her Nigerian phone line was being used by another person. Ostensibly, the telecoms company, whose service she used, had reassigned her line to a new buyer when she didn’t use it for a long time. She, however, genuinely became disturbed when friends probably called to tell her that a male voice picked calls to her former line whenever it was called. Even in the US, telecoms companies reassign unused lines to new buyers, you only have to inform callers of the old user that the line is now in the possession of a new subscriber.

Instead of Bichi and his wanton boys to conduct a simple routine call log check with the telecoms company in question, the DSS jumped into a convoy of cars and raced from Abuja to Asaba to arrest Okolie, who had innocently bought Hanan’s SIM card from a licensed retailer and got a receipt to boot. Okolie spent 70 days in the Abuja cell of the DSS for an offence he never committed and instead of the misused DSS to apologise to Okolie, he was coerced to sign an undertaking that he won’t sue the lapdog security agency before he was released.

While the DSS had become the official footstool of Hanan with their brainless display of sycophancy, the nation’s Air Force also became an errand tool in the air, flying her in a presidential jet across the country for personal engagements that included peeping into a camera and telling guests to say ‘cheese’. Ironically, the US, whose presidential system Nigeria claims to practise, doesn’t abuse public office the way our presidency and legislature do. According to a Congressional Research Service report, when a serving US president embarks on an official assignment, the state foots all the bills, including those of his staff. But if a trip is political or unofficial, the president and his staff have to pay for their own food and lodging and other related expenses. Also, they must reimburse the government with the equivalent of the airfares that they would’ve paid had they used a commercial airline.

I watched online video of the clinical drone technology deployed by the US to squish Iranian security chief, General Qassim Soleimani, and his convoy in Iraq – three days into the New Year. I followed the threats issued by Iran against the US after the killing and the unfortunate retaliatory downing of a Ukrainian airline suspected by Iran to be an American spy plane, in Iran. I shuddered at the thought that if Nigeria’s security apparatchik can’t handle the simplistic Hanan vs Okolie telephone issue, what will the government do if faced with the Iranian situation?

Later, my mind wandered back into the recent past. I wondered if the Soleimani treatment was similar to the kind of military intervention President Jonathan allegedly turned down from British Armed Forces on the heels of Boko Haram kidnap of over 220 Chibok girls on April 14, 2014? I wondered if Leah Sharibu would’ve been with her parents today if Jonathan didn’t go to bed when Boko Haram went to work.

I wonder if Nigeria won’t be a better country if Buhari stopped indulging corruption in his family and cabinet. I wonder.