2021 Budget: Reps Seek Increase Of Allocation To N/East, Agriculture [LEADERSHIP]

The House of Representatives has called on the executive arm of government to increase budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector and the North East geopolitical zone to address the deplorable state of infrastructure in the region.

The chief whip of the House, Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno, while contributing to the debate on the 2021 budget estimates on the floor of the House yesterday, explained that the increase in budgetary allocation became necessary in view of the damage done to infrastructure such as roads in the North East by the Boko Haram insurgents for over a decade.

Monguno who represents Marte/Monguno/Nganzai federal constituency of Borno State, said that steps should be taken to address some of the infrastructural challenges of the North East through annual budgets.

He noted that the North East region had suffered poor budgetary allocations even before the advent of the current administration.

Monguno also called on the government to focus more attention on the agricultural sector, which he said accounts for about 70 percent of employment, not just in Nigeria, but also in the entire African continent.

“Agriculture in Nigeria and Africa in general accounts for about 70 percent of employment. So, there’s a need for an improvement in the agricultural sector in view of the fact that it accounts for 70 percent of employment,” Monguno said.

While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for the timely presentation of the 2021 budget proposal, Monguno also lauded the executive arm for implementing nearly 50 percent of the 2020 Budget.

The chief whip equally called on the House to strengthen its oversight of the executive arm, so that Nigerians will continue to enjoy the dividends of democracy.

 

…Senate queries sectoral allocations, borrowing

Meanwhile, the debate on the general principles of the 2021 Appropriation Bill entered its second day in the Senate yesterday with Senators raising various issues around the proposed budget and possible way out.

The proposed 2021 budget was presented to a joint sitting of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, October 8, 2020.

On the second allotted day for the consideration of the Bill, the debate deviated from politics as manifested on Tuesday as Senators raised issues of inadequate sectoral allocations, low revenue drive, excessive borrowing, cost of governance, including teething issues of unemployment and diversification of the economy.

Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who was the first to speak on the proposed budget, drew the attention of the Senate to the high rate of youth unemployment and infrastructural decay in the South-South region, saying relative peace in the area can only be sustainable if adequate care was given to the Niger Delta.

“We must maintain the peace in the Niger Delta Region before we can achieve this. Mr President when I say this, it begins to sound like a broken record. Every day, for those of us who represent the Niger Delta, we hardly sleep.

“But Mr President, they are jobless. There is nothing for them to do. It is very important that the youths of these communities are engaged.

“So, it is bad enough that the economy is in a state it is right now, we also need to at least maintain the little infrastructure we have.

“Finally, there is also something that is troubling our people which I think I should also bring up here. It is clear that the only two sources identified in the budget for the funding of the budget is the revenues from oil on the most part and borrowings, both local and foreign. But we also have other sources or potential sources of revenue that are not being looked at. We often talk of leakages but why even go into leakages when we can go directly to the solid mineral sector?” Omo-Agege queried.

He bemoaned a lack of commitment to the much-talked-about diversification of the national economy, a situation that has made the country vulnerable to economic shocks owing to over-reliance on crude oil.

On harnessing the nation’s solid mineral resources for more revenues to reduce borrowings, he wondered why the gold in Zamfara State will solely belong to the state while crude oil in the Niger Delta belongs to the whole nation.

“Not too long ago, we saw the governor of Zamfara State come before the CBN to present a gold bar worth close to about N5 billion. The gold bar was presented for sale to the CBN. Mr President, our people are beginning to wonder who owns this gold that is being sold to the CBN.

They don’t sell oil in any of the Niger Delta states. I am wondering why a governor of a state should be selling gold bars from Zamfara to the CBN.

“There are two problems with that. We believe that whatever revenue that ought to come from that transaction belongs to the entire country and not belonging to the state government. That is number one and we should actually look into that. That is an area we really need to develop. There is a lot of revenue that could come from there that will take the burden from this international borrowings,” Omo-Agege added.

Also contributing, Senator Bima Enagi (APC, Niger South) commended President Buhari for the budget size of N13.08 trillion for the 2021 fiscal year, which is about 21 per cent above the 2020 budget in spite of the contractions in the second quarter and the possibility of the economy going into recession.

Enagi, however, said that as laudable as the budget was, there were areas of concern like worsening insecurity in the country and inadequate funding for the agricultural sector.

“One would expect the country to spend more on security so as to confront the evil challenge that is facing the country.

“Our annual allocation to agriculture has remained below three per cent negating our commitment to the Malabo Declaration of not lower than 10 per cent of the annual budget,” Enagi observed.

 

Again, Buni Warns APC Members Against Pending Litigations [LEADERSHIP]

Chairman of Caretaker/Extra-ordinary National Convention Planning Committee and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, yesterday warned members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to withdraw all pending litigations involving the party in the courts.

For the umpteenth time, Buni told the chairmen of the state chapters of the party to ensure that all litigations within their domains are withdrawn before the next National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party.

He also asked them to update the membership registers across the states for harmonisation at the national level.

Speaking at a meeting with the state chairmen at the APC national secretariat in Abuja, yesterday, Governor Buni said, “The CECPC has embarked on massive conflict resolution in the party across the 36 states and FCT. We have also been able to reach a compromise that demands the withdrawal of all internal litigations against the party, to allow for internal resolutions and settlement of disputes. This alone is a huge positive that would not have been possible without your full support and collaboration as party chairmen across the states of the federation.

“The CECPC, however, will still plead with you to use the goodwill of your offices to ensure the full withdrawal of such litigations that may still remain within your domain before the next NEC meeting of the party. You may however reach out to my office in writing if need be for assistance in such matters that may be beyond your powers – as it is a part of the consensus building process to restore our party to the path of glory.

“The CECPC will also wish to state categorically that the party and its management belong to all of us. The door of the National Secretariat and that of the chairman CECPC is always open to all our state chairmen and all members of our great party, the APC.

“Please, also allow me to use this opportunity to inform us all that the need for our party to undertake party-wide national memberships register updates is sacrosanct to our strength and preparation for all upcoming and future electioneering outings. The CECPC is already at the table strategising on the national membership registration exercise.

“The responsibility is on you as able state chairmen to commence the procedure for full sensitisation and needed awareness for a successful membership registration exercise in your various states as we all wait for the final briefing from CECPC”.

The state chairmen also passed a vote of confidence on the Buni-led caretaker committee, just as they condemned attempts to discredit the work done by the caretaker committee.

While passing a vote of confidence on the Buni-led committee, Borno State APC chairman, Hon. Ali Bukar Dalori, said, “Our attention has been drawn to Social Media stories, allegedly giving an Ultimatum to the CTC, by a group calling themselves “Concerned All Progressives Congress Members”.

“This is hitherto an unknown group in the APC and we wonder if they are actually concerned”, as their name suggests. The APC Chairmen unanimously condemn any attempt to distract efforts of the Caretaker Committee from the commendable work they have been doing.

“The APC has recognizable processes through which members can lodge any legitimate grievance(s). Shadowy Groups, with questionable agenda cannot claim any concern for the party”.

 

Disbanded F-SARS Operatives Barred From Joining SWAT [LEADERSHIP]

Operatives of the now defunct Federal Special Anti-Robbery Sqaud (SARS) unit won’t be allowed to join the newly created Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.

In a memo circulated yesterday at the Force headquarters, Abuja, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, noted that SARS’ former officers are barred from joining the newly-created Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit of the Nigeria Police Force.

Following nationwide protests to push the demand to scrap the F-SARS championed by the hashtag, #EndSARS, IGP Adamu had on Sunday announced the scrapping of the F-SARS nationwide with immediate effect and directed all operatives of squad.

Accordingly, he set up the new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to fill the gap arising from the dissolution of the defunct SARS.

One of the criteria for the selection of SWAT officers contained in the IGP’s memo stipulates that the prospective must not have worked for SARS.

The officers to be recruited, according to the memo, must also have at least seven years policing service experience, and must pass physical fitness and be able to withstand training and operation.

They will also undergo medical and psychological fitness to certify them fit medically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Operations of the newly formed SWAT team will be strictly intelligence-driven, entailing that members of the tactical team are barred from routine patrols, indiscriminate and unlawful search of phones, laptops and other smart devices

Another criterion for selection of the SWAT members is that prospective officers must not have pending disciplinary issues, or any serious previous record of professional misconduct touching on intemperate behaviour, incivility to members of the public, corrupt practices, and misuse of firearms.

 

#Endinsecuritynow: Northern coalition begins protest in 19 states [SUN]

Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), yesterday, said it would commence an indefinite protest today in the 19 northern states over rising insecurity, economic hardship  and prolonged closure of universities in the region.

The group accused the Federal Government,  President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and other northern leaders of abandoning the region, as opposed to southern leaders who they claimed were always there for their people and even stood up against the operations of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

CNG spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, said the protest would be tagged #Endinsecuritynow, and would be sustained until the Federal Government met their demand for the declaration of a state of emergency on security in the north, among others.

“It is contradictory  that despite several protests and pleas by northerners, the authorities never deemed it fit to extend the swift spirit deployed against FSARS into  securing the North, or addressing the myriad distresses faced by northerners.

“The authorities appear bent on sustaining the harsh, unacceptable regime of exploitative hikes in  electricity tariffs for which the North shall bear the brunt more than other parts of the country. “The Federal Government appears not keen on resolving the lingering dispute with the Academic Staff  Union to enable the recommencement of university education.

“The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has followed developments around the globe and necessary steps taken by Nigerian citizens in some parts of the country including some northern states to call attention to the deteriorating national security and other pressing concerns around the dwindling economy, prohibitive commodity prices, rising inflation amidst mounting poverty and  prolonged stay at home by university students.

“The CNG notes the appreciative progression of the citizens’ action that climaxed with government’s swift response to one of the concerns raised  with the scrapping of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police, and its immediate replacement with Special Weapon And Tactics Team (SWAT).

“CNG notes also the reassuring cooperation and solidarity extended by governors and elected representatives to the protesters in mostly the southern parts of the country and Zamfara and Borno state in the North.

 

#EndSARS: Car runs into protesters, kill 2, injures many in Lagos [SUN]

Mass protests by Nigerians, particularly youths, to push for reform in the police and other areas continued to gain momentum, yesterday, in spite of series of promises from government.

The protests started across the country over a week ago.

From the South West to South East, Abuja to Kaduna, Oyo to Kano, demonstrators trooped out in their thousands as the EndSARS protest entered the eighth day.

Protesters in Lagos have literally shutdown the otherwise bustling former nation’s capital inspite of entreaties from the authorities. While thousand of the defied the early morning downpour to converge in various locations in Lagos including Lekki, Ikeja, Akute and other parts in a carnival-like manner, several persons were, however, ran over by a car at Alagbado, a Lagos suburb. Footage from a viral video showed two motionless bodies being carried away by some youths while a volunteer of medical corps was deployed, especially around Amikanle area to take care of the wounded before those with severe injuries were moved to Cavesbury Hospital.

The protest also turned bloody in Abuja as suspected thugs attacked protesters at a popular roundabout, Berger in Utako District. The assailants, who stormed the venue of the #EndSARS protest, with dangerous weapons harassed protesters, including passers-by and destroyed vehicles. At least five vehicles were vandalised while an unconfirmed number of persons sustained injuries.Popular singer, Mayorkun has offered to assist one of those whose car was vandalised.

But in other cities, the protests was carnival-like as the youths stormed the streets in colourful attires, banners, placards and loud speakers.

Amnesty International had said police have killed at least 10 persons since protesters took to the streets last Thursday to protest against police brutality and extra-judicial killings.

Last Tuesday, the presidential panel on the reform of SARS accepted the five-point demand of the protesters even as it replaced the dreaded out with a new one called SWAT..

Police Commissioner, FCT, Bala Ciroma, confirmed the bloody face-off “among those for and against #EndSARS”

“We have commence investigation to determine what happened at the Berger junction. About five vehicles were vandalised, no arrest has so far being made but investigation is on, there is no casualty recorded.”

There was another incident at about 4pm in Lagos as thugs attacked protesters at the Alausa-Lagos/Ibadan Expressway. However, the EndSARS demonstrators fought back and  overpowered four of the hoodlums.

However, Aisha Yesufu, co-convener of BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) has warned that attacks on anti-SARS protesters would not deter youths from the ongoing campaign.

In a post on Facebook, she wrote: “Nigerian government needs to be careful. Sending hoodlums to attack #SARSMUSTEND protesters in Abuja the way they did to BBOG members in 2014 will not work now the way it didn’t then. “The youth have resilience and intelligence. Don’t mess with them #SARSMUSTEND.”

 

FG considers adopting ASUU’s UTAS in place of IPPIS [SUN]

The Federal Government said it was willing to adopt the University Transparency and Accounting Solution (UTAS), the preferred payment system proposed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), if it passed its integrity test.

This was part of the outcome of a  dialogue between the Federal Government and ASUU to resolve the lingering dispute that had led to university lecturers downing tools for months.

At the end of the meeting held at the instance of Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, in Abuja, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said government’s acceptance of UTAS would be dependent on it passing of a series of integrity tests that it would be subjected to.

“A demonstration of it would be done on Wednesday at the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation. Other relevant agencies of governments, like National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) would also assess it. It is a stage-by-stage process.

“We are continuing next week. After the test on Wednesday, we will reconvene in the Ministry of Labour and Employment on Thursday. We will then convene again on next Tuesday or Wednesday for a final decision,” he said.

Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, called for a speedy resolution of the impasse saying students staying away from school for too long posed enormous danger to the society.

He called for understanding and accommodation on both sides, as the danger inherent in the situation went beyond education. “It borders on security as well, with the attendant adverse effect on the society,” he said.

At the meeting were principal officers of the senate, Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, representing Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, and the leadership of ASUU, led by its president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi.

 

Governors, IG parley on raging EndSARS protests [THE NATION]

AFTER publicly identifying with the EndSARS protesters, governors on Wednesday intervened in the unabating protests despite government’s concession.

They met on Wednesday in Abuja with Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu on the issue and the way forward.

They have also resolved to meet with identified leaders of the EndSARS protesters to end the street rallies.

Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Hope Uzodimma (Imo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo) attended rallies and spoke in support of the demands by protesters.

Adamu on Tuesday announced government’s decision to implement the demands of the protesters – immediate release of all arrested protesters; justice for all deceased victims of SARS brutality; Independent Investigation into reports of police brutality; physiological evaluation of all SARS operatives before redeployment and increased pay for policemen.

The IG also announced the creation of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to replace the defunct SARS. He said yesterday that no member of SARS will be in SWAT.

But protesters have refused to be pacified.

They remained on the streets in many cities on Wednesday – including Lagos and Abuja.

Speaking on the meeting with the IG, a governor said: “We were briefed on the operation of the disbanded SARS by the IGP. We also compared notes on the agitations of Nigerians and the modalities of SWAT operations.

“ We want a sustainable police system that will  earn the confidence of Nigerians without going back to the days of SARS.

“The IGP assured us that SWAT will work in the interest of Nigerians.”

“We resolved to hold public conversation with the IGP and some of the leading lights of the #EndSARS.”

There were indications that the Presidency has restrained  the police, security agencies and the military from moving with force against the protesters.

According to a top source, security agencies and the police were worried about the motives behind the continuing protests.

He said the funding of the protests and the coordinated logistics raised a flag of likely sponsorship.

The source said there were intelligence concerns that the protests might have a larger agenda against President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The source said: “Security and intelligence agencies are working round the clock to probe the objectives of #EndSARS protests and the likely sponsors.

“It is curious that after President Muhammadu Buhari made concessions, the protesters are still on the streets.

“The spontaneous back up of the protests abroad has made the probe more compelling.”

 

‘Deduction into Police Fund illegal’ [THE NATION]

GOVERNORS elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have faulted the deduction of 0.5 per cent of revenue accruing to the Federation Account into the newly established Police Trust Fund.

The Governors urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to immediately repeal Section 4(1) of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act, 2019.

It’s the said Section 4(1) of the Act that authorises the President to deduct 0.5 percent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account for the Police Trust Fund.

In a communique released after a Zoom meeting and signed by the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, the governors described the deduction as patently unconstitutional.

They further observed that there were discrepancies in Section 12(2) and 12(4) of the Act regarding the appropriate authority with responsibility to deploy Police Commissioners to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

The communiqué stated: “The meeting noted the signing of the New Nigeria Police Act, 2020 by Mr. President, Commander in Chief.

“While acknowledging the many important innovations in the new law, the Forum emphasised the need to make the Nigeria Police Council, which has Mr President as Chairman and 36 state Governors as members, fully operational and the clearing house on all issues bordering on the organisation and administration of the Nigeria Police Force as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

“The Forum further observed the discrepancies in S.12(2) and S.12(4) of the Act on the appropriate authority with responsibility to deploy Police Commissioners to the respective states.

“Whereas S.12(2) gives the responsibility to the Police Service Commission, S. 12(4) gives either the Police Service Commission or Inspector-General of Police the same responsibility.

“This is even more regrettable as the Constitution gives this responsibility to the Police Service Commission (S. 215)(1)(b). We advise that the constitutional provision be upheld.

“Furthermore, the Forum canvassed for appropriate consultations with the Governors of various states on the deployment of Police Commissioners to the states since the Police is a common institution that executes the laws of both the federal and state governments.

“The Forum implored Mr. President and the National Assembly to repeal Section 4(1) of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act, 2019 which purports to authorise the President to deduct 0.5% of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account for the benefit of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, as it is patently unconstitutional.

“The beneficiaries of the Federation Account are the federal, states and local governments only. More creative funding options should be explored.

 

FEC approves $2m for WAPP, N33.01b for roads, rail security, others [THE NATION]

NIGERIA’S contribution to the 2020 Budget of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) was approved yesterday by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Also approved were the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oworonsoki-Ojota Expressway (N22.28 billion); the Kano-Wudil-Maiduguri section of the Kano-Maiduguri Expressway (N8 billion) and the installation of security gadgets for seven railway sections (N1.21 billion).

The project on the e-Government procurement system was also approved for N1.6 billion, Council members told reporters at the State House.

The news conference was addressed by Lai Mohammed (Information, Culture & Tourism); Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation); Dr. Isa Ali Pantami (Communications & Digital Economy); Mamman Saleh (Power) and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Director-General Mamman Ahmadu.

Speaking on the WAPP budget, Saleh said the specialised pool covers 14 of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The minister listed them as Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

The WAPP was created by a decision at the 22nd Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government last year.

At the 29th Summit in Niamey, in 2006, ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government adopted the Articles of Agreement for WAPP organisation and functions.

According to Saleh, participation in the regional market will generate immediate foreign exchange for Nigeria as oil revenue is dwindling.

“The pool is about having synergy within the West African region. The decision has been taken by ECOWAS, it’s for the generation of electricity of the region so as to have more constant and steady power supply.

“It’s like the national grid in Nigeria, so we are going to have regional grid. It means in case there is a failure in one country, another can supplement. The $2 million is a contribution.”

Mohammed, who briefed on behalf of Works and Housing Minister Batunde Fashola, said the FEC approved two road projects located in Lagos State and an inter-state, stretching from Kano to Maiduguri.

“I want to report that he presented a memo which was approved in council today for the award of a contract for the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oworonsoki-Ojota Phase Section II, which is bit land Interchange, 8.1 kilometer stretch. You will recall that in 2018, the Federal Government approved an award of contract to Dangote Industry for the sum of N72 billion.

“By the time the award was made, there was this Section of the road that was in fairly good condition. But with the construction of the Oworonsoki project coming to an end, it now makes better sense to include that section which was fairly good.

“This contract was awarded today for the sum of N22, 247,332,000. But you must know that this is one of the projects being awarded under Infrastructural Tax Credit Scheme. In other words, it is awarded to Dangote and Dangote will construct it and over the years, it will be deducted from the tax payable by the group. It is one of various means of PPP that this administration has embraced.

“It is not only restricted to Oworonsoki-Apapa road, it is the same system that is being used in Obajana-Kaba road. Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) is also using the same formula for the bridge to link Bonny and Boro in Rivers State.

“Another memo, which he presented, was for the award of contract for the dualisation of Kano-Maiduguri road. That is Section One. That is Kano-Wudil-Shuarin section. This is about 560 kilometers contract between Kano and Maiduguri.

“The section awarded today is actually more of approval for an estimated total cost. They found out that at the time of the award of the contract, certain conditions have to be known. He sought for a revision and an increment in the sum of N8 billion which will bring the total cost of the contract to N63 billion. It was approved by council today.”

Amaechi said the FEC granted approval for a contract the installation of security gadgets for seven railway stations at the cost of N1.21 billion.

He said: “We presented a memo for the supply, deployment, installation, testing and commissioning of security equipment for seven railway stationsa, mainly Idu, Rigasa, Jere, Kubwa, Kaduna and Kano in favour of Messrs Avonics Services Nigeria Limited, in the sum of N1, 208,335,464.60, inclusive of 7.5% tax with a completion period of 12 months.”

 

Chaos as protesters clash in Abuja [THE NATION]

it was chaotic in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on Wednesday as pro-SARS and #EndSARS campaigners clashed.

Many people were injured and vehicles vandalised during the incident at the busy Berger Roundabout.

Before the clash, the #EndSARS campaigners marched at the roundabout chanting: “End police Brutality now”.

The protesters, ever-growing in number, blocked the junction, creating gridlock for hours and almost grinding commercial activities to a halt.

At about 12:30 pm, the pro-SARS campaigners were seen marching towards the junction.

Shortly after, pandemonium erupted.

The protesters fled in different directions as gunshots were heard and vehicles were smashed.

Some tried to defend themselves as the invading groups attacked the protesters with sticks and machetes, destroying anything else in their path.

Some of the youths responded and beat up some of their attackers, who they accused of being thugs.

Policemen and other security agencies tried to restore order. Nobody died.

Twitter users claimed the “thugs were sent to attack harmless protesters, but got more than they bargained”.

Popular comedian Mr Macaroni tweeted: “I fear who no fear Abuja ooo!! Pro-SARS miscreants went to disrupt protest.

“They flogged them and put them in ambulance for treatment. Wahala for who wan disrupt our protest ooo!!!”

Another user, Wale Adetona, tweeted: “Pro-SARS thugs have been rented to hijack the peaceful protest at Berger Bridge, Abuja.”

Before the clash, the #EndSARS protesters expressed anger at the setting up of the Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) unit by the Inspector General of Police Adamu to replace the scrapped Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

“We will not back down from this protest. How can you just disband the notorious SARS and immediately create another unit for the same set of criminals? We say no to that,” one of them said.

Another protester said: “How can it be possible within 24hrs to hurriedly assemble a squad? It is a way to reintroduce SARS.”

The youths said they were also protesting against injustice and bad governance which insensitive leaders brought upon the suffering masses.

Others asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sign an Executive Order on the dissolution of SARS.

The FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, said he had ordered an investigation into the clash.

He said the intervention of his men saved the situation and that no arrests were yet made.

According to him, five vehicles were damaged in the clash.

The police restated yesterday that no personnel of the defunct SARS will be part of SWAT.

A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, said the new tactical team will be strictly intelligence-driven.

A coalition of civil society organisations applauded President Buhari and the IGP for disbanding SARS.

At a rally in support of police and other security agencies at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, the coalition condemned the continuation of the #ENDSARS protests across some states.

Chief convener of the coalition, Comrade Olayemi Success, believes the #EndSARS protests were “totally uncalled-for and unacceptable”.

He said: “This solidarity march is very important to boost the morale of the policemen and women; for them to know that well-meaning Nigerians appreciate their sacrifices in securing Nigeria.”

 

Uncertainty surrounds APC convention as fresh registration splits party [PUNCH]

A fresh crisis is looming in the All Progressives Congress over the decision of the Mai-Mala Buni-led Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary National Convention Committee to conduct fresh membership registration.

The PUNCH gathered on Wednesday that the decision had pitted the committee and governors sympathetic to it against some elements in the party, including the immediate past National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

It was learnt that those who were opposed to the Buni-led committee’s decision were of the view that the panel was going beyond its mandate by planning fresh membership registration.

An APC chieftain, who confided in The PUNCH, said the committee was indirectly seeking tenure extension through the planned membership registration.

Buni, who met with APC chairmen from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja on Wednesday, confirmed that the party would embark on a fresh membership registration before the national convention, which was initially scheduled for next month.

Buni said, “Please, also allow me to use this opportunity to inform us all that the need for our party to undertake a national membership register update is sacrosanct to our strength and preparation for all upcoming and future electioneering outings.

“The CECPC is already at the table strategising on the national membership registration exercise. The responsibility is on you as able state chairmen to commence the procedure for full sensitisation and needed awareness for a successful membership registration exercise in your various states as we all wait for the final briefing from CECPC.

“The chairman of CECPC and the entire membership of the committee reiterate our unreserved commitment to the full development of our party and continually seek your full support to drive the party to our desired destination. By this, I finally submit that your freedom to express yourself within the ambit of our party laws and regulations in the interest of the party cannot be more guaranteed than it is now.”

After Wednesday’s meeting, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, issued a statement titled, “36 APC State Chairmen Pass Vote of Confidence in Governor Buni-led Caretaker Committee.”

The statement read in part, “Chairmen of the APC in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory have passed a vote of confidence on the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the APC.”

Recall that some party members under the aegis of Concerned All Progressives Congress members, had on Monday issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Buni-led panel to release ther timetable for the party’s national convention or risk a nation-wide protest by members.

A former Bauchi State Secretary of the defunct Action Congress, Abdullahi Dauda, who is the spokesman for the group, issued the threat at a media briefing in Abuja, on Monday.

However, a top-ranking member of the party, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, in Abuja, dismissed the group’s ultimatum.

He said “We were not in the least surprised. As a saying goes, you can’t beat a child and deny that child at least the right to express his feeling of privilege by crying.

“We didn’t expect those who were benefiting from the chaos in the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee to be happy about the dissolution of that NWC.

“This (ultimatum) is the handiwork of some disgruntled members. They are already up in arms against the planned fresh registration of members of the party. Take the registration done in Lagos since 2011, for example, Tinubu is the only one who has access to it. We need to have a proper record of party members which is verifiable and accessible by members for claims and objections.”

He said that fresh registration would have been done, but was delayed because of Edo and Ondo polls.

When asked if the planned national convention would hold this year as earlier envisaged, the source said the caretaker committee would definitely ask for more time.

Another party source said there were realignments among power blocs in the party.

 

N10bn suit: I’m ready to forgive Oshiomhole, says Ortom [PUNCH]

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Wednesday assured a former Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, of forgiveness if he tenders an apology.

Ortom stated this while speaking to journalists during the distribution of 46 vehicles to the 23 local government chairmen and leaders of the state House of Assembly in Makurdi.

The PUNCH had reported on Wednesday that Oshiomhole, at the further hearing of the N10bn libel suit Ortom instituted against him at the state High Court in Makurdi on Tuesday, sought out-of-court settlement.

Ortom had slammed the suit on Oshiomhole after he, as APC chairman, accused the governor of having a hand in the death of two Catholic priests and other parishioners at Mbalom community, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State on the grounds that one of the priests preached a ‘very critical sermon’ against him (Ortom)’.

The presiding judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman, had adjourned the case till October 29, 2020, for the report of settlement.

Responding to the development, Ortom said, “I am a Christian and the Bible says forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

“So, if your brother offends you and comes back to apologise, you will forgive. Moreover the conditions are there, and I know that I was innocent even when he made all those allegations.

“If he comes back now to tender an apology to me and also go back to the same news medium that he used to scandalise and vilify me to have the apology published and also meet the condition set by my lawyers, I will certainly forgive him.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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