Katsina anti-banditry protesters burn Buhari, Masari billboard [Punch]

Some protesters in Yantumaki town, Damusa Local Government Area of Katsina State, on Tuesday burnt down a campaign billboard of the All Progressives Congress with the pictures of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and Governor Aminu Masari.

The burnt billboard is along the highway leading to the town.

The protesters bemoaned the level of insecurity in Yantumaki town and neighbouring communities, making reference to the kidnap of a health worker, Alhaji Mansir Yusuf, and his daughter by bandits around 1am on Tuesday.

Also, on Monday, the district head of the area, Atiku Maidabino, was killed by unidentified gunmen at his palace.

Some eyewitnesses said the protesters barricaded the Katsina/Kankara highway and set bonfires along the road leading to the town, a situation that forced scores of motorists plying the highway to turn back.

The protesters, who moved from one end of the town to the other, chanted anti-government songs in Hausa and demanded improved security of lives and property.

Though policemen were seen trying to restore normalcy, the atmosphere in the town was tense on Tuesday.

It was learnt that the Commissioner of Police in Katsina, Sanusi Buba, ordered the Area Commander for  Dutsinma, Aminu Dayi to  relocate to Yantumaki.

The spokesman for the command, SP Gambo Isah, said, “We are monitoring the situation and our men are firmly on the ground controlling the situation to ensure that the protesters do not take the law into their own hands as miscreants can take over the situation and start looting or burning property.

“The command and indeed other security agencies are not leaving any stone unturned to ensure those responsible for the two recent crimes (the killing of the district head and Tuesday abduction) are brought to book.

“The CP has detailed Area Commander Dutsinma to relocate to Yantumaki as more senior officers are deployed in the area to take care of the situation.”

Katsina in serious trouble, says PDP

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state,Alhaji Salisu Majigiri,declared that the Yantumaki protest an indication of the loss of confidence by the people in the APC government.

He said, “The government needs to wake up to its responsibility. Security and welfare of people should be the responsibilities of any serious government but which the state-led APC has failed to address.

“The issue of insecurity is not only in the Danmusa LGA, it is in all the eight frontline local government areas in the state.

“The so-called peace pact with the bandits collapsed over a year ago. Granting amnesty is not new but it must be robustly done.”

Neither the APC chairman in the state, Alhaji Shittu, Shittu, nor the state publicity secretary, Abu Danmusa, picked their calls or replied the SMS sent to them, for their reactions.

The special adviser to the governor on security, Ahmad Katsina, said he was in  transit and could not comment due to network challenges.

His reply to the SMS sent to him read, “I am sorry, I am on the road now and could not comment because of network challenges.”

“The road infrastructure, dearly needed to link and open up the communities to access the huge agricultural produce coming from the region yearly, is not in place, thus cutting the communities off.

“It is the responsibility of government to provide such basic infrastructure in communities such as those unfortunate towns, villages and hamlets that are close to the Sambisa forest.”

 

Taraba killings’ trial: Activists, lawyers lampoon Malami over exclusion of killer soldiers [Punch]

More lawyers and activists on Tuesday descended on  the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), for his decision to remove the names of  10 soldiers named as accomplices in the kidnapping charges involving an alleged Taraba State kidnapping kingpin, Bala Hamisu, also known as Wadume, and others.

The  Defence Headquarters and Army authorities kept mum over the development when contacted by one of our correspondents on Tuesday.

The Defence spokesman, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, and his Army counterpart, Col. Sagir Musa, failed to respond to inquiries on the refusal of the military authorities to court-martial Captain Tijjani Balarabe and his troops for their involvement in the killing of policemen  who went to  arrest Wadume.

They did not respond to calls nor replied to an SMS on the issue as of the time of filing this report.

The amendment to the charges announced at the Federal High Court in Abuja by  the prosecuting counsel, Mr Shuaibu Labaran, on Monday, came days after the AGF took over the case from the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, on June 3, 2020.

The AGF office cited the “bureaucracy” involved in bringing the soldiers to court and the need to allow the case to begin quickly as the reason for the amendment to the charges.

On March 16, 2020, the first time the matter was mentioned in court, Mr. Simon Lough, the lawyer who was then prosecuting the case on IGP’s behalf, complained to the judge that he was unable to produce the 10 soldiers in court because the  Army authorities refused to release them.

Prompted by Lough, Justice Binta Nyako, at the March 16, 2020 proceedings issued an order directing the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, to release the 10 soldiers, including the army captain,  for arraignment.

The AGF office took over the case from the police on June  3, 2020, and, on Monday, announced an amendment to the charges which saw the names of the soldiers removed from the charges.

The soldiers, whose names were removed in the amended charges are, Captain Tijjani Balarabe,  Staff Sgt. David Isaiah; Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon; Corporal Markus Michael; L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra; and Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.

A policeman’s name, ASP Aondona Iorbee, as well as the name of one Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball); was also struck off the charges.

Reacting to the development on Tuesday, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chino Obiagwu, described the refusal of the Army authorities to release the accused soldiers and the AGF’s subsequent decision to remove their names from the charges as unjustifiable.

He said, “It is not justifiable that the military is reluctant to release the defendant soldiers. The law is clear that  when military officers commit an offence under the criminal law, they must face their trial in the regular court. It is only when they commit an offence under the military law that they will be court -martialed. Nobody is above the law. There is no rational legal basis for the AGF to remove the names of the soldiers from the charges.”

Another activist and lawyer, Mr Kunle Edun, also said the AGF’s decision had raised questions that required answers.

He said although the prosecutor had the discretion to choose who to charge with an offence based on the evidence available, “he is expected to perform his prosecutorial duty in the interest of the public and justice.”

He added, “Some policemen were brutally murdered. Policemen and soldiers were indicted. Every person found to be involved in the dastard act must be arraigned for the murder of those policemen.

“That will be justice. No one is and should be seen to be above the law, and it is the duty of the Attorney General to ensure that justice is manifestly seen to be done in this case.

“Nigerians have not been told why the soldiers who are in the custody of the Nigerian Army were excluded amongst those to be arraigned for murder of the policemen.

“Was it that they were exonerated? And by whom? The AGF may need to let Nigerians know what is really happening. There are many questions that require answers to give Nigerians the assurance that the right thing is being done in this case.

“Ordinarily, it is the Attorney General of the state where the crime was committed that should be handling the murder charge, not the AGF. Why is this so? I think Nigerians need to know.”

On his part, another lawyer and private prosecutor, Mr. Tosin Ojaomo, said Malami’s removal of the names of the soldiers from the charges was tantamount to frustrating the court orders issued by the court to compel army authorities to release the soldiers.

Also an activist, Ezenwa Nwagwu, who is the Co-Convener, Say No Campaign, said it was “important in a matter of this nature for the attorney general of the country to proactively disclose reason why some of the suspects were dropped in the public interest.”

The Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson, said,  “The Federal Government, through the Attorney General of the Federation, owes Nigerians further explanations, as to why the decision to drop charges against these military personnel who were practically directly involved in the summary execution of those policemen from the Inspector-General Response team, who have gone to Taraba State to effect the arrest of the notorious kidnapper, Wadume.”

Lawson added, “Several suspicions have initially arrived based on the decision of the AGF, to take over the  prosecution of the matter, from the police and this latest decision confirms our fear.

“This has also raised fundamental needs to actually demand  an investigation into the actual role being played by that particular Army unit in Taraba, since it is now clear, that certain interests have successfully worked to ensure that they are not prosecuted for the obviously committed crime.

“Finally, this decision will greatly demoralise that particular unit of the police  that has been known to have made landmark efforts in arresting high profile criminals in our country.”

A lawyer, Mr Sani Abubakar, said although the AGF’s discretion in a criminal case could not be questioned, the public interest in the removal of the names of the soldiers from the charges was “doubtful.”

Sani said, “The AGF has absolute discretion to file charges, to withdraw charges or to discontinue charges,  although the public interest in this case is doubtful.”

Govt must not send wrong messages to people, international observers – AI

But Amnesty International  called on the Federal Government to bring all those involved in the killing of  policemen in Taraba State to justice.

Commenting on the sudden withdrawal of criminal charges against the army captain and other nine other soldiers, AI Nigeria Director, Dr Osai Ojigho, said necessary steps must be taken to effectively prosecute all the perpetrators in court in a transparent manner.

This, she noted, would inspire confidence in the citizens and the international community.

She stated, “I think the government needs to be careful about the message they send out in very sensitive cases like this because one of the biggest issues that have faced the security forces in the last few years is the issue of accountability and impunity.

“It is important that when you have cases like this, that all the principles of fair hearing are upheld including the fact that the trial is open, transparent and that everyone has their day in court.”

“The Nigerian government can do a lot more to increase confidence in the people and international observers by making sure they get to the root of this particular issue,” she admonished.

Ojigho noted that the AGF ought to explain the reasons for the withdrawal of the charges against the security personnel, adding that the nation deserved to know if the government was not ready to prosecute the defendants.

She stated, “Our call would be that they should not leave any stone unturned in order to attain justice and that means, everyone that is involved or suspected to have been involved should have their day in court. The government should take the necessary steps to show that they are committed to justice.”

FG can set Wadume free – Odinkalu,

In a tweet, on Tuesday, a former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, said the removal of the soldiers’ names from the charges, could be a precursor to setting Wadume free.

He noted that the policemen killed by the soldiers in order to free Wadume might have died in vain with the consent of Malami.

“Remember the soldiers of @HQNigerianArmy who killed @PoliceNG unit sent to arrest notorious Wadume in Taraba, NE#Nigeria, last year? It’s like they’ll walk, u know? All those police officers may have died in vain & with consent of @MalamiSan,” the tweet read.

 

Oshiomhole, Obaseki extend war to gov’s varsity certificate [Punch]

  • Contact UI to confirm Obaseki’s certificate, APC chair directs panel
  • Tell Nigerians varsity you attended, Edo gov tells predecessor

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Adams  Oshiomhole, and the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, on Tuesday criticised each other  over  the first degree certificate presented by the governor from the University of Ibadan.

Oshiomhole, in Abuja at the inauguration of the APC’s screening and appeal committees for its members contesting governorship  primary in Edo State, expressed  doubt over the authenticity of Obaseki’s UI certificate.

But the governor, through his spokesman, Crusoe Osagie, challenged  Oshiomhole to go and confirm the authenticity of his certificate at the UI. He also said the national chairman should tell Nigerians the university he attended.

The dispute, which began last year between Obaseki and his predecessor has defied efforts of the APC governors and the African richest man, Aliko Dangote, to reconcile the two politicians.

Approach UI to confirm Obaseki’s certificate, national chair tells panel

Doubting Obaseki’s UI certificate, the national chairman on Tuesday directed the screening committee to confirm it from the nation’s premier university

Oshiomhole said, “Someone should approach the UI and end this matter once and for all. If the certificate Obaseki parades is that of the UI, find out how did he pass senate screening of those days? I’m aware that in those days when this man never dreamt of becoming a governor, every student, no matter your status or your family name, must pass screening.

“It is done every third term at the UNN (University of Nigeria Nsukka), then we ran terminal not semester programme. The final screening was in the third year, before you go in for your final year.

“How comes the UI allowed him then. Did he do a remedial? which was not unlikely. These are questions. Many came in especially in education and linguistics, did remedial for one year and if the result was good, gained direct entry and graduated three years after.’’

Bayelsa gov poll has taught bitter lessons – APC national chair

While inaugurating the two committees, Oshiomhole said the APC had learnt bitter lessons from the sad experience it went through after winning the Bayelsa State governorship election only to lose at the Supreme Court on account of the submission of a questionable academic credential by the deputy governorship candidate.

He charged members of the two committees not to spare any effort in ensuring that they conducted due diligence on all claims contained in the documents submitted by all six aspirants seeking to contest the party’s primary.

He stated,  “The screening is not a formality and we expect you to be very meticulous in every material in particular to protect our party so that it would not  be said that we did not learn anything from Bayelsa.  As you know sometimes when things go wrong, everybody sees it that NWC did not do a thorough job.  So, people personalized it. They say, ‘If the chairman is thorough, if he has done his job this will not happen but that is the price for leadership.”

He urged  the screening committee  to interact with all those who had aspirations to contest the Edo State governorship poll.

According to him, if anybody is dissatisfied with the screening committee’s recommendations, he or she will file an appeal and it will be forwarded to the appeal committee.

NWC can reject screening result – Oshiomhole

Oshiomhole stated, “The NWC can reject the screening result. Screening committee is high court. The appeal committee is the Appeal Court and the NWC, the Supreme Court.”

Members of the two panels were drawn from the academia as well as the party’s team of legal professionals.

Members screening committee are Prof Jonathan Ayuba (Chairman), Prof Agbo Madaki, Ibrahim Zailani, Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed “Binani, Dr Jane- Frances Agbu, Fort Dike while Dr Rabe Nasir will serve as secretary.

The appeal committee has Dr Abubakar Fari as Chairman, and Daniel Bwala as Secretary. Other members of the committee are Prof. Sadeeque Abba, Gbenga Olubajo, Mohammed Idris and Esther Bepeh.

The six aspirants, who have bought, completed and submitted the party’s expression of interest and nomination forms are  Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu,  Obaseki, Dr. Pius Odubu, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Osaro Odubu and Mathew Aigbuhuenze Iduoriyekemwen.

Go ahead and verify from UI, Obaseki replies Oshiomhole

But contacted by one of our correspondents, Obaseki, through his Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Osagie, said, “The University of Ibadan is perhaps the most reputable university in Africa. The University of Ibadan awarded a BA degree in Classical Studies to his excellency the governor as far back as 1979. The university is still there. If anybody feels the certificate is not credible why doesn’t the person go there to verify?

“Why are we just seeing this only in the media? Bear in mind that the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, was among an elite corps of illustrious alumni of the university people  to deliver a national alumni lecture in August 2018. Do you think such an institution will call someone who is not an alumnus to deliver such a lecture?”

Tell us varsity you attended, Obaseki challenges Oshiomhole

“Describing the allegations as baseless, he said,  “We have said before, these allegations are baseless and come to think of it, which university did (Adams) Oshiomhole attend to know what the admission process is like? The responsibility of setting guidelines for admission into a university rests on the Senate of the institution. The lecturers who taught the governors are still alive and the institution is still there.”

APC, unlike Oshiomhole, believes  in rule of law – Obaseki

Obaseki also reacted to Oshiomhole’s claims that the NWC would  have a final say on Obaseki and others on the certificates and other issues.

Osagie, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the  governor believed in the rule of law.

He said, “Our reaction is simple. We are not like Oshiomhole who is the judge and executioner. We believe in the prevalence of the rule of law. For us, that is more important than what one individual says.

“As we have always said, Oshiomhole has not hidden the fact that he has an ‘axe to grind’ with Governor Obaseki, but our hope is in the fact that our party is a law-abiding party. Our party is one that abides by its constitution and we believe that the constitution does not put all the powers in the hands of one man. On the strength of that, we know we are going to prevail.”

 

 

Gbajabiamila rejects estimated billing system in power sector [Sun]

Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has rejecting estimated billing system in the power sector saying it “remains a no, no,” and whatever needs to be done to address the issue must be carried out.

He stated this, yesterday, while inaugurating the House Ad-hoc Committee on Power Sector Reforms chaired by House Leader, Alhassan Doguwa, saying he was concerned about the myriad of challenges in the power sector.

Gbajabiamila said setting up the ad-hoc committee became necessary because of the resolve of the House to ensure a comprehensive review of all legislation relating to the power sector.

“Our nation has long struggled with the problem of fixing the power sector and getting it to work in the optimal interest of all our people. We have not succeeded in spite of the best efforts of many. The consequences of that failure are evident in the many industries that have collapsed across the country.It is also apparent in the abysmally low productivity of existing industries due to the enormous cost of generating their power independently.

“The power sector is so integral to our national economic growth, to national security and even to social development that we cannot ever stop trying to get it right,” he said.

Gbajabiamila said that to address the issues, the green chamber had on May 12 resolved to set up a committee to undertake a holistic review of the power sector and recommend legislative action to remedy it.

 

Revised 2020 budget suffers setback in Senate [Sun]

  • Says no amount of detractions can stop NDDC probe –Senate

The revised 2020 budget forwarded to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari a fortnight ago suffered a setback on the floor of the upper legislative chamber, yesterday.

Chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee, Barau Jibrin, said the senate had issues with the executive for failing to include about N186 billion meant for COVID-19 emergency response in the budget.

He said though the amount was included in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the Budget Office excluded it from the Appropriations Bill. He said the omission had forced the budget which ought to have been considered and passed into law to be deferred.

“The N500 billion earmarked for COVID-19 emergency was fully captured in the MTEF. But in the budget, about N186 billion was omitted and that’s supposed to be for the health sector. We drew the attention of the Budget Office to it and we even invited the Director General.

“We put a call across to the minister of finance and she promised to send a letter, requesting that we include the amount. As I speak, they’re yet to send that letter. We maybe tempted to go ahead and if they want us to do that, it will come as a supplementary budget,” he said.

However, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, disagreed with Jibrin saying the adjusted 2020 Appropriation Bill (budget) must be passed into law by tomorrow. He stated this despite appeals from some lawmakers to stay action pending the inclusion of some of the missing components.

“You did the right thing by insisting that they send a letter to include the money in the budget. If we go ahead and put the figure, they will accuse us of budget padding. Nigerians will begin to castigate us and no one will understand why we did that. So, go ahead and print copies of the budget today. We will distribute it to senators tomorrow (today) and the budget will be passed on Thursday (tomorrow) without any further delay. Some people are supposed to do their work, but they’re not doing that. We can’t wait because of that,” Lawan said.

Meanwhile, the Senate has vowed to go ahead with the probe of alleged misappropriation of N40 billion in three months by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

It also hit those making accusations and counter-accusations on alleged financial impropriety in the NDDC, triggered by its planned probe, saying no amount of blackmail or distraction will stop the audit.

The red chamber issued the warning following a request by Olubunmi Adetunbi, Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee mandated to carry out the investigation, asking for more time.

Adetunbi had, while making the request anchored on order 43 of the senate standing rule complained that due to COVID-19 pandemic and attendant lockdowns, many of the stakeholders invited by the committee did not respond on time.

Ruling on the request, Lawan said six weeks was too long and approved  four weeks instead.

“So many side attractions, detractions and disruptions pro or against the planned investigation are being carried out by people or groups. Part of the distractions are series of write-ups in the media by vested groups almost on daily basis, but unfortunately all these cannot stop the senate from forging ahead with an assignment backed by resolution and firmly within the ambit of its constitutional responsibilities. So, in their own interest, the earlier they stop the distractions the better, because our committee will forge ahead with the assignment,” he said.

Considers bill to tackle erosion in South-East

The senate also considered a bill to address the problem of erosion in Nigeria, with special focus on the South-East geo-political zone.

The bill which scaled the second reading seeks to establish the Erosion Control and Prevention Commission.

Ifeanyi Ubah, (YPP– Anambra South), who sponsored the bill, said the establishment of a commission for the purpose of erosion control and prevention had become imperative given the catastrophic impact of erosion in several parts of the country.

“Almost every part of the country is characterised by one environmental problem or the other. However, the menace of erosion is unarguably the severest in terms of devastation and destruction.

“For instance, the 2012 flooding in Ibadan, Oyo State, the coastal erosion in Lagos, Bayelsa and Rivers States and almost all parts of Anambra State.

“It is also important to note that gully erosion is almost taking over the entire landmass of the South-East and South-South.

“The problem of erosion is catastrophic in the southern part of Nigeria, while desertification is in the North but with the enactment of the Green Wall Act by the National Assembly, the issue of desertification was laid to rest.

“In the southern part of the country, erosion is responsible for the widespread destruction of transportation and communication systems, degradation of arable land, contamination of water supply, isolation of settlements and migration of communities.

“From available statistics, more than 3,500 gullies occurred in the South-East states alone. These gullies are formed by surface runoff from localized rainfall of high intensity in the fine-to coarse-grained sand and sandstones,” Ubah said.

Also citing a World Bank survey carried out on Nigeria in 1990, the lawmaker stressed that “erosion is one of the three main environmental problems facing Nigeria.”

According to him, the study notes that gully erosion causes damage with an annual cost to the nation, estimated at N800 billion naira.

Ajayi Boroffice (APC – Ondo North), in his contribution, kicked against the establishment of a commission for the purpose of erosion control in the South-East.

Boroffice, who is the Deputy Senate Leader, said an amendment of the Ecological Fund to accommodate the erosion problems in the South-East would address all challenges faced by the zone.

Rochas Okorocha (APC – Imo West), said the commission when established, would not only address the erosion challenges faced by the South-East but also every other part of the country affected adversely by such environmental challenge.

Ibrahim Gobir (APC – Sokoto East), argued that creating a commission would be a burden on government, particularly at a time government was trying to cut down cost.

Gobir advocated the need for the adoption of preventive measures through the introduction of legislation by the National Assembly.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan, said, “the debate tended to sway whether we need a commission or not but the fact is we have to address the ecological challenges we have in the country.

“If we have gully erosion that is destroying lands in various parts of the country, especially in the South-East, then we have to do something, whether it is a commission or not. I believe that there are ecological challenges in other parts of the country.

“Coastal erosion is also a strong challenge in the Nigerian coastal environment, just as desertification is a big problem in the northern part of the country.

“I want to say that the Green Wall Project actually is not desertification control. It is simply afforestation. Desertification control should be much more comprehensive than that.

“Similarly, when we have gully erosion, it is just not about stopping the erosion. There are other things that need to be done beyond stopping it because communities’ livelihoods are affected. So, you need to have something comprehensive.

“As representatives of the people, we should be looking at how we really deal with these issues.

“The ecological fund office is there. Do we transform through legislation the ecological fund office, instead of just leaving money there?  Sometimes, we know where the money goes, which is to non-ecological issues.

“Can we make the ecological fund office to be responsible for all ecological issues and then take it as one institution that will address desertification and other ecological problems like gully erosion and so on. Can we do that in the light of the arguments of our colleagues or do we need separate agencies to address the various issues.

“We must ensure that government attends to these ecological problems because people are affected. Like Rochas Okorocha said, people lose their lands, properties and villages and this is not something that we should be arguing about as to whether we need a commission or not.

“How do we address the problems as quickly as possible to safeguard our communities?,” Lawan asked.

The bill after scaling second reading was referred by the senate president to the Committee on Environment.

 

Kalu resumes in Senate, urges Nigerians to keep hope alive [Sun]

Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, resumed plenary, yesterday, following his release from Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja.

The former Abia governor who came into the Senate Chamber  at about 9am was cheered by staff and colleagues.

The Abia North senator exchanged pleasantries with his colleagues and  acknowledged greetings from legislative staff and security operatives.

Addressing newsmen on arrival at the entrance to the Senate Chamber, Kalu described his experience as “an occurrence of fate.”

“I just want to thank God for everything that has happened. It is the will of God. I want to urge Nigerians to keep hope alive. We just give thanks to God. Go and thank God for me,” said Kalu.

When asked further about what his constituents should expect from him upon his return, he said:”my people know that I was an action Governor and I am also going to be an action senator.”

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, while welcoming kale, said his return to the Senate was worth celebrating.

“I want to welcome back our one and only Chief Whip of the Senate and indeed the National Assembly. Chief Whip, you are welcome. We are very grateful to the Almighty God for his blessings. Congratulations for being here,” Lawan said.

Kalu resumed work immediately as Senate Chief Whip and stayed till the end of the day’s legislative business.

 

No rift, say Tinubu, Aregbesola [Nation]

All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola on Tuesday denied any rift between them.

They spoke against the background of reports that the decision to disallow groupings within the Lagos APC was targeted at Aregbesola.

Media Adviser to Tinubu Alhaji Tunde Rahman  in a statement, maintained that there was no quarrel between Tinubu and Aregbesola.

He said: ”Today, the Governor’s Advisory Council, the highest decision-making body within the All Progressives Congress in Lagos State, passed a resolution calling for the disbandment of all factional groups within the party.

“This was to promote discipline, harmony and cohesion and engender party supremacy. The APC is one united political family in Lagos.

“Our attention has, however, been drawn to a report in an online newspaper alleging that the GAC’s appropriate and candid resolution had worsened a phantom cold war between Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

“This is a figment of the imagination of the news organisation that authored the report. Asiwaju Tinubu remains Ogbeni Aregbesola’s leader. The former governor of Osun State has been unswervingly and wholly committed to the progressive ideology of the Tinubu political family.

He added: “There is no war, cold or hot, between them. There has never been and there will never be. Asiwaju believes in him and he believes in the APC leader.

“Our political family remains strong. And we are staying focused in our commitment to building and maintaining a cohesive political party.

“The GAC is a very strong body within the APC leadership structure in Lagos. Its resolution is not targeted at any particular individual or collection of individuals.

“The resolution was to restate the often-stated position that the only group known to us is APC and not any of the factional groups. It was to renew the commitment to APC and its unity.

“Ogbeni Aregbesola is a strong member of the political family. The GAC position does not imply any division within the group. The resolution is well-meaning and should not be misinterpreted.

“To do so impulsively as the authors of the report has done is to take the frontier of reporting away from facts to the realm of groundless speculations.

Aregbesola also debunked claims of nursing presidential ambition in 2023.

He said his loyalty to Tinubu is total,  stressing that his commitment to his leader is unwavering.

The minister said  he knew where the story was coming from and the identity of those sponsoring it.

Aregbesola said:”’Rift with Asiwaju Tinubu? Nothing can be more impossible. Nothing can be farther from the truth. I remain committed to my mentor. The group our detractors claim has been banned is the most committed to the realization of Asiwaju’s ambition.”

He added: “They even said I have presidential ambition. False.”

The minister maintained that the APC is one, adding that the party is like an oak tree that keeps growing.

He said his focus and goal are to execute his ministerial duties as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, urging his supporters to ignore the publication in its entirety and refrain from being distracted from the goal of building a strong APC and a united Nigeria.

 

Edo 2020: Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, others face screening panel [Nation]

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Dr. Pius Odubu, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Osaro Obazee and Matthew Iduoriyenkemwen will appear before a panel raised to screen All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirants for Edo State governorship party ticket.

The seven-man committee was inaugurated at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja on Tuesday to screen the aspirants Wednesday and Thursday.

A six-member Appeal Committee to hear the petitions of aggrieved aspirants after the screening was also inaugurated.

But, the party said its National Working Committee (NWC) remains the final clearing house for all eligible aspirants seeking the ticket ahead of the primary slated for June 22.

National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, who inaugurated the committees, said the party invited the “wise men and women” to assist it in screening aspirants to avoid the Bayelsa State experience.

Urging the committees made up of legal luminaries and academicians for a thorough job, Oshiomhole said the party had gone a step higher by displaying the credentials of aspirants at the national secretariat and the state office in Benin.

According to him, the decision was taken to enable members of the party and public verify the information provided by the aspirants, with a view to providing any counter information that will help the screening committee in discharging their duties.

The party chair said: “After intensive consultations, we decided to have people who in our own judgment are sound and when they go through this process, their recommendations will be very helpful. Under our rules, we are expected to set up a screening committee before every election.

“The responsibility of the screening committee is to interact with all those who have aspirations to contest, strictly speaking, not yet aspirants. You become an aspirant after the screening committee has passed you.

“If anybody is dissatisfied with the screening committee’s recommendation, he/she will file an appeal and it will be forwarded to the Appeals Committee and after that, they will make a final recommendation to the National Working Committee (NWC) that has the final decision as to who is eligible or who is not eligible.

“In the past, we had always performed this role but maybe we did not give it the appropriate weight. May be we had assumed that people who want to aspire to certain offices, particularly high elective offices of executive governor, won’t submit documents containing information that may possibly lead to disqualification.

“In the past, this was more of a formality but with what happened to us in Bayelsa earlier this year, we decided to approach the issue of screening much more seriously than ever before.”

Oshiomhole, however said should there be discrepancies at the end of the screening and appeal exercises, the “NWC can reject the screening result” stressing that, “the screening committee is High Court, Appeal Committee is Appeal Court and the NWC is the Supreme Court”.

The appeal committee will be sitting on Friday for any protest from the screening.

The screening committee, chaired by Prof. Jonathan Ayuba, has Dr. Rabe Nasir as Secretary while members are Prof. Agbo Madaki, Hon. Ibrahim Zailani, Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Binani), Dr. Jane-Frances Agbu and Hon. Fort Dike as members.

Members of the Appeal Committee are: Prof. Abubakar Fari (Chairman), Daniel Bwala (Secretary), Prof Sadeeque Abba, Gbenga Olubajo, Mohammed Idris and Esther Bepeh, as member.

 

Lagos APC bans Mandate, Justice Forum, other groups [Nation]

…Groupings inimical to unity, say party elders

Internal groups within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State have been banned.

Party elders under the aegis of the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) announced the decision in a communiqué after its meeting on Tuesday.

The GAC is made up of senior leaders of the party including all former governors and deputy governors.

The council ensures stability of the party and moderates its affairs.

Some of the groups within the APC are Justice Forum, The Mandate Group and the Ideal.

The GAC said: “All factions like JF and MG are inimical to unity and are hereby permanently disbanded and prohibited within the party.

“Party members should no longer make use of these factions or their names with regard to future party business and activities. To continue to hold meetings in the names of these groups or to continue to promote such associations will amount to a violation of this resolution.

“Any violation of this decision is subject to party discipline, including suspension and expulsion. The party remains supreme.”

The leaders added: “If we allow factionalism, we not only weaken the party, soon, those who should see each other as brothers and sisters in the same party will view each other with increasing enmity as rivals, instead of members of the same political family.”

According to the elders, preoccupation with factional in-fighting will give little room for collective party work and progressive governance.

The GAC said permanent factional groupings have often breached the spirit, letter and history of the party, adding that they only “serve merely as vehicles to foster and advance ambitions at the expense of party cohesion”.

Justifying the resolution on the ban, the GAC recalled that attempts were made in the past by the Tinubu administration to unify and reconcile Justice Forum and Mandate by appointing their members into the Executive Council.

The apex leadership body traced the genesis of the Justice Forum to the period of the pro-democracy struggle to free Nigeria from military rule. It also recalled that Mandate became a group that championed Tinubu’s governorship ambition.

It said while there is a tendency to form sub-groups in a party, such groups should not be allowed to become permanent identifications that could rival the primary identification as a party member.

Tension has often been reported during party nominations among the caucuses.

All the groups claim to be loyal to Asiwaju Tinubu.

The resolution on the ban was passed to the Lagos State APC Executive Committee, led by Alhaji Tunde Balogun, for implementation.

The GAC also mandated Balogun to promulgate detailed regulations with regard to prohibited and permissible activities for sub-groupings.

The party chairman said the 27-member GAC took the decision in the interest of the party.

Balogun, a GAC member, said the dissolution was meant to strengthen party unity and harmony.

He added:”It is true. All groups have been dissolved. The decision was taken this afternoon (Tuesdsy). You are a member of the APC and nothing more. No more groups within the party. We are all one under the APC.”

A source said the party elders are concerned about the likely polarisation of the chapter by the divise interests of the rival caucuses and the need to enhance harmony.

Some of the elders and their followers belong to the two main groups-Mandate and Justice Forum.

The GAC members in attendance are: Asiwaju Tinubu, Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, Deputy Govermor Obafemi Hamzat, Ex-Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Otunba Henry Ajomale, Otunba Bashuru Alebiosu, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye, Omoba Murphy Adetoro, Cardinal James Odunmbaku, Senator Tony Adefuye, Alhaji Akanni Seriki (BAMU), Asiwaju Olorunfunmi Basorun, Prince Rabiu Oluwa,  Chief M.A Taiwo, Alhaji Mutiu Are, Dr. Yomi Finnih, Omoba Muyiwa Sosanya, Prof. Tunde Samuel, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Chief Rasak Lanre (KLM), Mudashiru Obasa, Alhaji Babatunde Balogun, Mr. Wale Edun, Dr. Oluranti  Adebule and Chief Mrs. Kemi Nelson.

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