PMB Urges Patience As Muslims Mark Low-key Eid-el-Kabir [LEADERSHIP]
As Muslim faithful across the country join their counterparts all over the world to revel Eid-el-Kabir, the Sallah festivities will be marked in a low-key due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that as part of measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the federal government had last week told state governments to ban Sallah festivities today.
To this effect, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday called on Nigerians to continue to exercise patience and understanding over the inconveniences created by the precautionary measures taken for COVID-19, especially the regulations on places of worship.
In his Eid-el-Kabir Sallah message issued by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari said the outbreak of coronavirus has made it difficult for people to gather in places of worship as they are used to.
While urging worshippers to follow the guidelines for the safety of their lives, and loved ones, the president said, “The coronavirus has had devastating impacts on our social, economic and spiritual lives.
“The preventive guidelines we have introduced to contain the spread of this deadly disease has unfortunately limited people’s freedom to gather and worship in large numbers in mosques and Churches.
“Every measure that has been introduced to contain this disease may have its unintended consequences on the daily lives of our people, and I, therefore, call on Muslims and other faiths to continue to show more understanding with the government as we take correct steps to protect our people through social distancing.
“No elected government would intentionally take away its people’s religious freedom by limiting the number of people that will gather in worship centres at the same time.
“These guidelines are dictated by necessity in order to safeguard public health and should therefore not be perceived as an infringement on people’s right to worship,’’ he said.
President Buhari commended the sacrifices of Muslims and Christians in abiding by the COVID-19 guidelines for the good of society, assuring that “on our own part, we shall continue to provide economic reliefs to the people to minimize the unintended hardships these guidelines have inflicted.’’
The president reminded worshippers that COVID-19 is worldwide affliction with churches and mosques closed around the world and social distancing imposed to safeguard public health.
While wishing Muslims a happy celebration, Buhari urged them not to forget the symbolic significance of the sacrifices of the Eid-el-Kabir.
He said, “Muslims should imbibe the noble virtues of our great prophets in order to establish closer connectivity between religious teachings and practice
“We can create the greatest impact by putting into practice the noble teachings of our religion. In whatever we do in life, we must put the fear of God in our daily activities in order to make our society better.’’
The president reminded the people of his efforts to root out corruption in the country, stating that the efforts had so far brought a lot of changes in the country’s polity and appealed for support and understanding as investigations are carried out into both legacy cases and in fresh cases”.
Edo Gov’ship: APC Gains More Ground As Another Obaseki’s Top Ally Resigns [LEADERSHIP]
Despite being dealt a bad hand in Edo State following the defection of the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) is gaining political traction in the state as more supporters and associates of the governor are returning to the party fold.
An ally of the governor, Prince Emmanuel Odigie, yesterday officially announced his resignation from the Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Area Development Commission (EDOSOGPADEC) and his defection to the APC together with his supporters.
Odigie, two other commissioners and a special adviser had earlier in the week, hinted about their exit from the Edo State government, but yesterday, he declared his support for the APC and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
The governor’s special adviser, Hon. Bright Njor of Ugbeka Ward 03 had also resigned his position.
Odigie and the two other commissioners as well as the special adviser all said they will now be working relentlessly to ensure the emergence of APC and Ize-Iyamu as governor of the state in the resignation letters they sent in.
Announcing his exit from the state government and the PDP yesterday, Odigie explained that the lack of issue-based campaign and lack of human face of the PDP government in the state was the reason he left.
He said: “When Obaseki came to Edo, he told us he is an investment banker. He knows how to raise funds and attract investors. Look at Edo in the past four years, there is nothing to show. I will give you a list of the industries we have in Edo; they are dead till date. When Obaseki was coming on board, a lot of us were happy that at last we have a technocrat governor.
“What did we get? Why is Ewu Flour Mill not functional? Where is Okpella Cement Factory? Not functional. Where is Eghor Juice Factory? Not functional. Where is Cassavita Uromi? Where is Bendel Pharmaceuticals, Edo Line? The list is endless. As an investment banker that he said he is, we expect by now all these industries will be functioning. He would have brought investors to partner with the state government to create jobs for Edo youths.
“Where are all the schools? The school of nursing shut down, College of Education, Ekiadolor, shut down, College of Agriculture, Iworahen shut down, and College of Education, Igueben shut down. The list is endless,” he said.
In a statement he issued yesterday, after addressing the press on his resignation, which was made available to LEADERSHIP Friday, Odigie lamented that the health sector had not fared better. He said that the governor had refused to open the Central Hospital built and equipped by his predecessor for Edo people to use.
He added: “Godwin obaseki appears to be an over ambitious man and an ambitious man is a desperate man and a desperate man is a very dangerous man. Since the fallout of Godwin with his predecessor, Comrade Adams Ali Oshiomole, Obaseki has been on the drive like he will say, ‘crush them, pepper them’. That is his language.
“If you are not supportive of his election bid he is ready to take on you. He has demonstrated it again and again. He started with Oshiomhole, he deployed Edo tax payers’ resources to fight Oshiomhole, mobilised people from Benin to Abuja to protest.
“Oshiomhole showed him to Edo people. Some members of his family didn’t even know him. So, why this trouble, why this tension? Why this ‘pepper them, crush them slogan?’ Whom does he seek to crush; those he wants to govern? You must first love the people; you must deal with the people with empathy, and with a human face. The governor is taking these things too far,” he stated.
Senate President, Speaker, Governors, Akande, Others Mourn Fasanmi [THE NATION]
Senate President Ahmad Lawan has commiserated with the family, friends and political associates of Pa Ayorinde Fasanmi, the leader of Yoruba socio-cultural and political association.
Lawan, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, also condoled with the government and people of Ekiti State and the Yoruba nation in general over the demise of a leader who throughout his life was committed to the cause of his people and Nigeria.
The Senate President said the late elder statesman made immense contributions to nation-building as a two-time parliamentarian, public office holder and political party leader.
Lawan said Nigerians would miss Pa Fasanmi’s forthrightness, consistency, wise counsel and wealth of experience.
The Senate President prayed God to grant the soul of the deceased perfect peace and grant those that he left behind the fortitude to bear his loss.
Gbajabiamila mourns Pa Fasanmi’s passing
House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has expressed sadness over the death of the leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Fasanmi.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker said though the demise of the late patriot would be felt by the nation, the progressives and his family, solace would be taken in the fact that his footprints have been firmly entrenched in the sand of time.
The Speaker noted that Pa Fasanmi’s passionate quest for democracy and good governance saw him leave Pharmacy to join politics and later became the leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere.
Gbajabiamila said: “As a federal lawmaker at the national level, first as a member of the House of Representatives and later a Senator, Pa Fasanmi came across as a symbol of humility, selflessness and integrity. These attributes have continued to inspire lawmakers across the country.
“It is my prayer that his soul rests in perfect peace, and may God give those he left behind the fortitude to bear the loss.”
Buhari Should Hand Over To Southeast Candidate, Says Ohanaeze [THE NATION]
IT will be just and equitable for President Muhammadu Buhari to hand over to candidate from the Southeast in 2023, the Ohanaeze Youths said on Thursday.
It insisted that it was the turn of the Southeast to produce the President’s successor.
According to him, for equity, peace and justice to reign, Nigerians, especially the North, should support the Southeast in their bid.
“Buhari should hand over to an Igbo candidate in 2023. It is a glaring fact that it is the turn of the Southeast in 2023,” Dozie said.
To him, anything short of a President from the Southeast will not be fair to the region.
Also, President of Ohaneze Ndigbo in Anambra State, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, restated the organisation’s position that is the Southeast’s turn to produce President Buhari’s successor.
Dozie and Okeke-Ogene were reacting to a statement yesterday by past Secretary-General of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Chief Anthony Sani, who said that President Buhari was not a product of rotation.
Dozie said the former ACF scribe was expressing his personal opinion.
Mallam Mamman Daura, President Buhari’s family member, stirred the hornet’s nest when he said in an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Wednesday that only the most competent, irrespective of region, should be elected as President in 2023.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) distanced itself from Daura’s statement.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said: “That is not our position but a personal opinion by an individual who happens to be a member of our party.”
NNPC: No Stolen Crude Oil Found In China [THE NATION]
THE Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Thursrday denied reports (not by The Nation) that its officials sold 48 million barrels of stolen crude oil and issued death threats to a whistleblower.
It said the publications and television commentaries replicate the content of a letter to NNPC on behalf of SAMANO SA DE CV by its solicitors.
NNPC, in a statement by Afe Babalola & Co, said the reports were not true.
The Corporation said SAMANO first contacted Federal Government officials in 2015 indicating that it had been approached by an unnamed group in China to buy 48 million barrels of crude oil “stolen” from Nigeria.
NNPC said SAMANO requested that it be allowed to purchase the stolen crude after its recovery by the Federal Government.
The Corporation said shortly thereafter, SAMANO indicated that it was no longer interested in buying the stolen crude as it only obliged the Federal Government with the information to assist the administration’s fight against corruption.
“The Federal Government and NNPC receive hundreds of spurious claims of this nature daily, and they always turn out to be false.
“NNPC also believed that based on the operations and state of the international crude oil market in 2015, it was impossible to ship 48 million barrels of crude oil from Nigeria to China without any record or trace of same,” the law firm said in a statement.
It noted that as of 2015, the daily production of crude oil in Nigeria was below 1.6 million barrels, adding that 48 million barrels of crude oil would have been the total production capacity of the country for a whole month.
NPPC said: “It was and remains simply impossible for one-month crude oil production for the entire country to disappear without any record or trace from the shores of the country.
“NNPC was also aware that as at the material time and because China is one of the most regulated economies in the world, the export of crude oil from Nigeria to China was exclusively undertaken by four known companies approved by, under the control, ownership, and management of the Chinese Government.
“It would, therefore, have been impossible to transport 48 million barrels of crude oil from Nigeria to China without the active involvement of the said companies.
“Again, from an economic perspective, it made little sense that anyone would store that volume of crude oil in China for such a considerable period having regard to the attendant significant storage costs.
“It is noteworthy that the Chinese government had, through its officials, stated emphatically in response to this allegation at different for a, including the United Nations General Assembly, that there was no stolen Nigerian crude oil stored in any port or terminal or storage facility in China.”
Pilgrims Observe Coronavirus Rules At Hajj In Saudi [THE NATION]
MASK-WEARING Muslim pilgrims gathered near the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Thursday for the climax of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which was significantly curtailed this year due to COVID-19.
A few thousand people are taking part, a fraction of the 2.5 million people who usually gather every year in Mecca for Islam’s biggest gathering.
This is the first time Saudi Arabia decided to drastically limit the number of pilgrims at the Hajj in modern history.
But the situation may be almost the same in many worship centres and recreation grounds in parts of Nigeria, except in Oyo State where the government gave the nod for Eid grounds to be opened for Muslim faithful to gather for prayers today.
Recreation centres in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will be devoid of fun-seekers and entertainers as the authorities directed that they be shut down.
In Saudi on Thursrday, pilgrims, who were clad in their traditional snow-white robes, wore face masks and observed distancing as they prayed inside al-Namirah Mosque in the area of Mount Arafat, around 20 kilometres east of Mecca.
The granite hill is the site where the Prophet Mohammed is believed to have delivered his last sermon, around 14 centuries ago.
A senior Saudi cleric urged the Muslims to show patience during the “tribulation” of the pandemic.
“Among the traits of the faithful is to be patient over painful fates,” Abdullah al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia’s highest Islamic body, said in a televised sermon marking the peak of the Hajj.
“Life in this world is not without disasters. [But] tribulations, however large their scale may, will not continue forever. God’s mercy is larger,” he added in the sermon delivered in al-Namirah mosque.
Live broadcasting of the ritual sermon showed mask-wearing pilgrims listening and praying using personal rugs as part of strict health precautions.
Saudi authorities also set up sterilised tents to accommodate pilgrims in Arafat, Saudi state television al-Ekhbariya reported.
The pilgrims stayed at Arafat until dusk yesterday praying and reciting the holy Koran.
They ritually chant there for God to forgive their sins.
The pilgrims moved from there to a nearby area of Muzdalifah, where they picked sanitized pebbles from a bag for a symbolic stoning of the devil ritual in the desert valley of Mina, about seven kilometres north-east of Mecca.
Today, which marks the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha, the pilgrims will converge on Mina for the stoning ritual.
In Abuja, FCT Minister Muhammad Bello urged residents to enjoy the festivities from the comfort of their homes as all recreational parks and other leisure locations remained closed.
Bello, who said this as part of his Sallah message, congratulated the Muslim faithful in the FCT and urged them to use the occasion to offer supplication to Almighty Allah for a quick end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He reminded the Muslim Ummah that the celebration of Eid-el-Kabir was significant because it was a festival of sharing and caring for the less fortunate members of the society.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye, quoted him as also reminding the residents that “the protocols of facial coverings, physical distancing and regular hand washing have been put in place to safe-guard against contracting the virus.”
Soldier Goes Berserk, Kills Senior Officer Over Frozen Salary Account [PUNCH]
A soldier serving with the 202 Battalion of the 21 Special Armoured Brigade, Bama, Borno State, has shot dead his adjutant, Lt. Babakaka Ngorgi, for allegedly refusing to give him a travel pass to enable him resolve his inability to access his salary account, which had been frozen for about eight months.
The private, whose identity could not be ascertained, was said to have fired some rounds at the officer, who was making a phone call in front of the unit headquarters on Wednesday.
The killer soldier was immediately taken into custody at the scene of the incident, while the remains of the officer were evacuated to the 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.
The shooting reportedly threw the officers and men of the 202 Battalion into confusion.
Military sources said the suspected killer’s bank account was frozen by the authorities because he went AWOL (away without official leave) for six months.
He was said to have returned to his unit in Bama and had been pestering the deceased to give him a travel pass so that he could sort out the problem, but Ngorgi reportedly refused to accede to his request.
But the matter took a tragic turn when the soldier went to the deceased’s office and gunned him down.
Ngorgi, according to reports, got married last December.
A source said, “The tragic incident occurred at the 202 Battalion, Bama, when a soldier shot his adjutant. They had a disagreement over an undisclosed issue.
“In addition to that, the adjutant refused to give the soldier a pass to go and solve his problem after eight months without salary and allowances. The soldier had gone AWOL for six months and his account was frozen.
“So, on Wednesday morning, he emptied his magazine of 30 rounds on the officer. The soldier was arrested and handcuffed immediately.”
PUNCH Metro gathered on Thursday that Military Police investigators had commenced investigation into the incident.
The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Musa Sagir, confirmed the incident in a statement.
He said, “A trooper of the Nigerian Army serving in the 202 Battalion of the 21 Special Armoured Brigade, Bama, Borno State, went berserk around 10.30am on July 29, 2020, and fired at an officer (a Subaltern), which led to his death.
“The incident happened when the soldier approached the officer, who was standing in front of the unit’s headquarters and making a phone call. The soldier has been arrested and is undergoing investigation. The general situation in the unit is calm.”
COVID-19 Guidelines Not Designed To Oppress Nigerians –Buhari [PUNCH]
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday urged Muslims and Christians alike not to see the guidelines released to curtail further spread of COVID-19 as infringement on their rights to worship.
He said the guidelines were necessitated by the need to safeguard public health.
Buhari made the call in his Eid-el-Kabir message by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
Shehu qouted Buhari as saying, “The preventive guidelines we have introduced to contain the spread of this deadly disease have unfortunately limited people’s freedom to gather and worship in large numbers in mosques and churches.
“Every measure that has been introduced to contain this disease may have its unintended consequences on the daily lives of our people, and I, therefore, call on Muslims and other faiths to continue to show more understanding with the government as we take correct steps to protect our people through the social distancing.
“No elected government would intentionally take away its people’s religious freedom by limiting the number of people that will gather in worship centres at the same time.”
In the same vein, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, in his goodwill message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Yinka Oyebode, urged all Muslims to endure the inconveniences occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic which had reduced the pomp associated with the celebration of the Eid Kabir festival.
The governor, however, charged them to continue to pray and be optimistic that a lasting solution would be found through divine intervention.
Likewise, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, admonished the people to continue to promote peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance and national unity, among other virtues that would ensure accelerated progress of the state and the nation.
His counterpart in Abia State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, advised Muslims to celebrate responsibly.
In his goodwill message, Ikpeazu expressed his appreciation to the Muslims in the state for their commitment to peace and good neighborliness, adding that his administration was committed to the provision of an enabling environment which would allow everybody to practice their religion.
In his own message, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State said, “My administration is committed to promoting peaceful co-existence between and among adherents of the different faiths in order to build a prosperous and peaceful state for everyone to realise their dreams.”
Also, the Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, urged Nigerians to see the pandemic as a test from God which required a combination of faith in the Almighty, collective discipline to the flattening of the curve.
“The governor appeals to everyone particularly the Muslim community to spend the Arafat Day and the blessed Eid days to pray to God for His mercies upon humanity,”the statement reads partly.
Similarly, the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, in a statement he signed, cautioned clerics to ensure that worshippers comply with the health guidelines for the benefit of all.
“I urge you to continue to preach peace, show love, understanding, tolerance and good neighbourliness amongst ourselves and humanity at large,” he added.
APC, Buhari, Others Mourn Afenifere Leader, Fasanmi [SUN]
Gale of tributes and encomiums have been pouring in for leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Fasanmi.
First son of the deceased, Justice Obafemi, confirmed his death. Fasanmi was admitted at the Osun State hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo since last week, but died on Wednesday, two months before his 95th birthday.
A senator in the second republic and devout follower of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he was an indigene of Ekiti State, though he lived all his life in Osogbo, Osun State.
While condoling with the people, governments of Osun and Ekiti, family members, friends and associates of the elder statesman, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a message by Mr Femi Adesina, described his death as a big loss to the nation.
The president said the elder statesman always stood for the truth, especially on issues related to the uplifting of the downtrodden. He affirmed that Fasanmi’s wise counsels borne out of humility, deep reflection, diligent studies and experience, would be sorely missed by governments at different levels.
Leaders and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), described his death as a huge loss to the progressives family in Nigeria.
The South West Zonal Publicity Secretary of APC, Chief Karounwi Oladapo, in statement, said Pa Fasanmi, was an honest and consistent politician, who never flirted from one political ideology to the other.
The South West APC Leaders urged the Federal Government to name a national monument after him, in recognition of his innumerable contributions to democracy, good governance and national development.
End Killings Now, Middle Belt Leader Urges FG [SUN]
A leader of the Middle Belt Forum, Ben Akarka, has appealed to the federal and state governments to put a stop to the killings in the region.
Akarka who is National Treasurer of the Middle Belt Forum, condemned the spate of violent crimes in Plateau, Kaduna, Adamawa, Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states that had led to the death of hundreds of innocent people wondering why people who had lived together peacefully in the region for years had suddenly taken up arms against one another.
He described the persistent bloodletting in the region as unfortunate and disheartening even as he called on governments at all levels to set up a committee to investigate the killings of innocent persons, including children, women, men and the aged.
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom has said that the newly established Miyetti Allah Vigilante security outfit would not operate in Benue State.
Ortom stated this while reacting to a statement credited to Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH), in which the group announced that it had established its security outfit called ‘Miyetti Allah Vigilante’ to operate nationwide.
Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said the idea of running a nationwide vigilante group was a strategy by the Fulani socio-cultural organisation to elevate their nefarious and inhuman activities to another level.
“Benue State does not need the Miyetti Allah vigilante. The state government is working with conventional security forces and has already established a vigilante group at the state, local governments and ward levels. This is evident in the ongoing recruitment of personnel for community policing who will soon be trained as recommended by Inspector General of Police. As much as we do not have any problems with Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore floating a security outfit in other states, it is important to say that such a vigilante group will not operate in Benue State. Miyetti Allah has no constitutional right to establish a nationwide security outfit.
“They (MAKH) have repeatedly claimed responsibility for the killing of thousands of children, women and other vulnerable people in different states, yet, members of the group walk freely in Abuja and hold press conferences threatening to unleash terror on the people of this country.”