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February 16, 2019: Why Nigerians Will Not Look Back By Laolu Akande

13 January 2019 - 2:17pm


Laolu Akande

 

In this past three and a half years of the Buhari presidency, one, thankfully, has learnt, experienced and been part of quite a number of things. One of those things is the amount of dedication, the depth of patriotic zeal and sheer hard-work that is going on in this administration.

I know the President’s determination to end grand corruption, not only by hisexemplary personal example, but by insisting on the proper processes and by empowering institutions. I know the level of intellectual exertions and sheer human rigour that the Vice President daily brings to his work. Even most, if not all Nigerians and close watchers of Nigerian events, have settled on the notion that not only are both gentlemen, honest people of integrity, but that they are also truly united in taking Nigeria to where this country truly belongs. We have seen the direction of the Change promised, it is a right direction, and direction is destiny.
 
Today, in the early days of a new year in which elections are due in a matter of weeks, there is simply no match for this team, be it in vision or political probability and other forms of readiness to take Nigeria forward. The choice can’t be more stark: between Buhari and Osinbajo on the one hand and Atiku and Obi on the other. Whichever way you dice it, this is a black and white, open and close case.
 
So, we have an opposition that is led by a politician that represents the failure of the past, backed by a running mate who seem determined to simply bamboozle the Nigerian people with any imaginable talking point regardless of veracity, who himself have openly conceded to being part of the problem.
 
Let us start from there. Former Governor Peter Obi concedes in a Channels TV video of August 2018 (which has actually gone viral) that he was part of the decision not to save for the rainy day; his own admission before he joined this race. His principal, former Vice President Abubakar Atiku admitted that he was in charge when the electricity power reforms were being bungled and, by his own admission, money simply went down the drain while he was VP and similarly in all the other PDP presidencies that followed. So, we have about $16B thrown out the window by the opposition and their flag-bearer indeed owned up to that confounding profligacy,  and incredible acts of corruption, waste and mismanagement.
 
Just so we don’t leave matters to conjecture, or hearsay, here are the words of the former VP in a May 25, 2014 Channels TV interview: “We collected money from local governments, States and others. Five sets of contracts were given. Some contractors were paid 100%. We left, nothing was achieved. Then President Yar’Adua came, he also made available money and it went down the drain. President Jonathan came, he also made money available and it went down the drain.”
 
Now add to that, the matter of grand corruption. If you are in my job environment in the media and communication arena, you could even think this matter has been over-flogged. We have been told by some that we should stop talking about it and rather focus on what we have succeeded in achieving.

Yes, we have succeeded in relaunching a massive infrastructural era in the history of this country, spending an unprecedented N2.7 Trillion in two budget cycles on capital expenditure, even when our revenues are at times 60% lower than previous administration. And we have the projects in practically every State and geopolitical zone. Yes, it is true that the World Bank endorsed the economic direction of the administration when it ranked Nigeria among the top ten reforming economies in 2017, the same year we moved up 24 places in the bank’s global Ease of Doing Business ranking.
 
Yes, we have put in place an Anchor Borrowers Programme for farmers, where close to 800,000 farmers have benefited from soft loans to help in the agricultural diversification of the economy. This explains in good part what The Punch Newspaper editorial of December 31, 2018 described as “Nigeria’s Rice Revolution,” praising the quest for self- sufficiency.
 
Yes, we have been paying pensioners (in different public sectors) their claims that had backlogged for years and which were not paid when oil was selling at over $100. Yes, we have hired half a million otherwise unemployed graduates across the country and are feeding about 9.3m primary school pupils in 26 States one freenutritious meal a day.
 
Yes, almost 2 million petty traders are collecting a N10,000 initial loan - a collateral and interest free micro-credit scheme called TraderMoni - to support their bottom of the ladder trading; traders who otherwise have no access to any form of credit. This is besides MarketMoni, where traders and artisans are getting between N50,000 to as much as N300,000 soft loans to enlarge their business. We have done about 400,000 of such loans. And yes, we have a Conditional Cash Transfer of N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable among us, with almost 300,000 Nigerians benefiting, although we are targeting one million.
 
Now, the point is we were able do all these even when we are earning less, at times 60% less, simply because President Buhari has ended grand corruption! So, there is no such thing as ‘stop talking about grand corruption.’ My Principal has in fact come under some orchestrated media onslaught on account of the anti- grand corruption narratives. But we have to talk about it! We should not and would not relent because honest leadership is very central today for Nigeria’s leadership. 

Nigerians are now comparing those highlights with the opposition party’s 16 years of grand corruption, lies and visionlessness. Certainly, the people are wiser and will not be given to the comprehensive display of grand deceit that is now hallmarking the campaign of the other party.
 
Besides, how can you set aside the several instances - at home and abroad - of settled facts regarding corrupt PDP leaders including its current presidential flag-bearer? In many of such cases these are open secret and the prosecution of these cases would certainly have to be taken to their logical conclusions sooner or later, both at home and abroad.
 
One example that readily comes to mind is the February 2010 report of the US Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee that implicated the PDP flagbearer. This is what the Chairman of that committee, Senator Carl Levin, had to say then:
 
“Our third case history examines Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and a wife of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and former presidential candidate in Nigeria. From 2000 to 2008, she helped her husband bring more than $40 million in suspect money into the United States through wire transfers from offshore corporations. Ms. Douglas is alleged in a 2008 civil complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission to have received $2.8 million in bribe payments from a German conglomerate, Siemens AG. Siemens has pleaded guilty to criminal charges and settled civil charges related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and told the Subcommittee that it sent payments to her account at Citibank. The Subcommittee located three wire transfers, substantiating $1.7 million in payments from Siemens to Ms. Douglas in 2001 and 2002. Of the $40 million, the Subcommittee traced nearly $25 million in offshore wire transfers into U.S. accounts controlled by Ms. Douglas, provided primarily by three offshore corporations called LetsGo, Sima Holdings, and Guernsey Trust Company.”
 
Continuing, the report added that, “Ms Douglas indicated that all of the funds came from her husband and professed little familiarity with the offshore corporations actually sending her the money. In addition, two of the offshore corporations wire transferred about $14 million over five years to American University in Washington DC to pay for consulting services related to the development of a Nigerian university founded by Mr. Abubakar.”
 
According to Levin in that report, this kind of corruption “is a cancer that corrodes the rule of law, undermines economic development and eats away at the fabric of civil society. Corruption can destabilize communities, and lead to failed states, lawlessness and terrorism.” In fact, the accomplices in some of the criminal cases that developed out of this are cooling their heels in jails, including a former US Congressman. Whoever thinks Nigerians will fall for the grand scale deceit that attempts to ignore this reality will learn a telling lesson next month!
 
Which is why I am confident that there is no way Nigeria is going backwards. It just won’t happen. The days of politics and governance based on outrightly raw personal aggrandizement have not quite disappeared, but you bet those days are now numbered.
 
Nigerians are now paying attention to the undeniable fact that a federal administration which earned less resources in a little over three years has more to show for it than all previous administrations in the 16 years before it, including several years when oil was selling in the international market for over $100.
 
That does not take rocket science to figure out. According to OPEC statistics between 2010 and 2014, Nigeria earned over $383B from oil sales. Yet at the end of 2014 and into 2015, the nation’s foreign reserves was as low as below $30B. Fast forward to 2015 to 2018, even when oil prices dropped, Nigeria’s foreign reserves has increased significantly. As at January 4, 2019, Nigeria’s foreign reserves stood at $43B, the highest in the last six years. 

Let me conclude on a slightly personal note. I believe with all my heart that President Buhari & Vice President Osinbajo are on a restoration mission and it is divine.  There are many like me who had prayed and hoped for a dutiful government that will reform the Federal Government. The truth is: that prayer has been answered. And while there is still so much left to be done, we as a people must ensure that we stay the course and give our nation a true opportunity to fulfill what I believe is a manifest destiny already. What use is their in going back to Egypt?

 

Akande is the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity

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BREAKING: South-South Governors Tell Onnoghen Not To Appear At CCT

13 January 2019 - 1:41pm



Governors of five states in the south-South have asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, to ignore the court summons by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). 

The governors stated this in a communique issued at the end of an emergency meeting held at the Bayelsa Governor's lodge on Sunday in Abuja.

The communique was read by Seriake Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State.

According to the governors, the action against the CJN is the reinforcement that the Muhamaddu Buhari administration has no regard for the sentiments of Nigerians, in particular the people of Niger Delta, and the rule of law.

The communique read: "The meeting deliberated on the recent happenings at the Supreme Court involving the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen and resolved that the action against him constitutes a setback to the gains of the nation’s democratic experience of 20 years.

"We note that under Section 158(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Judicial Council, has ample powers to deal exhaustively with matters pertaining to allegations of misconduct and discipline of Judicial officers. Specifically, the NJC has the powers and clear procedures for investigating allegations, and recommending appropriate sanctions or disciplinary measures against judicial officials as a matter of first instance before any further steps.

"The judicial pronouncements in the cases of FGN Vs Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court (January 9, 2018) and Justice Ngajinwa Vs FGN 2017 at the CCT have given validation to the express provisions of the constitution on this issue.

"We note that the attempt to drag the CJN to the CCT is also a grave and dangerous escalation of the assault on institutions of state including the National Assembly and the judiciary. We believe that the President, Muhammadu Buhari, has a constitutional responsibility and huge moral obligation to defend our democracy.

"Therefore, we consider this step, which is directly aimed at humiliating the nation’s highest judicial officer and a prominent son of the region, as totally unacceptable as it is reflective of the South South story of endless marginalization and intimidation. The unceremonious removal of former Acting Director General of the Department of State Service, Mathew Seiyefa and his replacement is still very fresh.

"We note that the unfortunate action against the CJN further reinforces the perception that the Buhari administration has no regard for the sentiments of Nigerians, in particular the people of Niger Delta, and the rule of law. It is a fact that this administration has a penchant for flagrant disobedience of and disregard for legitimate and valid court orders.

"We expect President Buhari to know that democracy cannot survive without respect for the constitution, strict adherence to the rule of law, and separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution. We strongly believe that the regrettable development at the Supreme Court at this critical time, when preparations for the general elections are wobbling (with serious concern about INEC and security agencies) is capable of causing avoidable anxiety, tension and possible breakdown of law and order in the country.

"We note further that the action undermines confidence not only in the judiciary but also the electoral process that has already commenced, in view of the pivotal role that the judiciary plays in the process of electoral adjudication.

"We affirm President Buhari should know that the continuous assault on critical institutions of state is a defining feature of a dictatorship, and that the President is obliged to live up to his word that he is a born-again democrat, as he assured Nigerians in 2015.

"Based on the foregoing, we hereby call on the President:
1) To condemn without any equivocation, this assault on the CJN and the judiciary especially coming after similar assaults on the National Assembly, to save the country from this embarrassment and global contempt: 2) We call on the CJN to ignore this so-called Court summon from the CCB and the provocative call for his resignation in some quarters."

The governors stressed that they were not opposed to the fight against corruption, but noted that "such an action must always be anchored on the rule of law".

They also complained about the "massive buildup of arms by APC leaders and members across the Niger Delta with the intent to cause mayhem and a general breakdown of law and order during the elections".

Aside the Bayelsa State Governor, the meeting was attended by the Governors of Cross River, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Delta States.

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BREAKING: Lagos Police Commissioner, Edgal Imohimi Redeployed

13 January 2019 - 12:47pm



Edgal Imohimi, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, has been redeployed to the Force headquarters in Abuja, as the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Explosive Ordinance Unit.

The Police boss would be replaced by Kayode Egbetokun, who is in acting capacity.

According to a source in the Lagos State Police Command, Imohimi is expected to resume at the Force Headquarters immediately.

Officers at the command were summoned for an emergency press briefing on Sunday evening.

Attempts to get official confirmation were unsuccessful as Chike Oti, the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, did not answer calls and text messages sent to his phone.

Details soon...
 

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'MC Oluomo' Not Dead, Says Lagos State Task Force

13 January 2019 - 10:54am


The Lagos State Task Force has issued a statement on claims that Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya, popularly referred to as 'MC Oluomo', a strong member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is dead.

Akinsanya sustained injuries after a fight broke out at the Lagos governorship rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held on January 8, 2018. See Also CRIME 'MC Oluomo' Stabbed, Dozens Injured As Lagos APC Rally Turns Violent 0 Comments 1 Week Ago

The International Press Centre (IPC) had condemned the attack, as journalists covering the rally were also injured. Among those affected were the group political editor of The Nation Newspaper, Emmanuel Oladesu, a New Telegraph correspondent, Temitope Ogunbanke and Ibile Television cameraman, Abiodun Yusuf. See Also CRIME IPC Condemns Attack On Journalists At APC Lagos Rally 0 Comments 1 Week Ago

A statement by Adebayo Taofiq, Head of Public Affairs Unit of the Lagos State Task Force, received by SaharaReporters on Sunday, noted that Akinsanya was not dead but recuperating in the hospital.

The Task Force also warned hoodlums against disrupting the peace in the state over the incident.

The statement read: “The Chairman of the Agency, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, confirmed that Mr. Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya (aka MC OLU-OMO) is not dead as being circulated but recuperating at hospital. He stated that the 'death' of the NURTW leader was being rumoured by miscreants and hoodlums who want to foment trouble and cause panic around Oshodi and other major motor parks in Lagos.

“CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi called on the leadership of NURTW to immediately address all their members across the state and call them to order as the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Edgal Imohimi has directed that any miscreant or hoodlum caught causing or disturbing the peace of innocent members of the public would not be spared.

“According to the Chairman 'Once again, we are using this medium to seriously warn miscreants and hoodlums who might want to foment mayhem to desist or face the full wrath of the law, and also, urged parents and guardians to closely monitor activities of their wards.

"The Agency would continue the use of patrol vans and power-bikes to patrol round all nooks and crannies of the entire Oshodi area to forestall any possibility of breakdown of law and order. The Chairman confirmed that he always got in touch with him regularly through phone conversations and visitations to the hospital.

“Members of the public are hereby enjoined not to panic and go about their lawful businesses around Oshodi and other parts of the state."

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Nigeria Needs A President Who Is Honest, Competent, Intellectually Sound And Can Still Do Push-ups By Qansy Salako

13 January 2019 - 9:57am


Nigeriana .org

Last week, it was reported that some leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) promised to pull 20 million votes for President Muhammadu Buhari at the February 2019 presidential elections. Not surprising that Nigerian bloggers literally chewed up the ‘lazy’ NANS leaderships on the internet. Some wondered what they were smoking, others were sure they must have been intimidated by being in the presence of Buhari and the enveloping opulence of the presidential palace. I just kept wondering whether the 20 million NANS votes would be in celebration of existing quality of education and/or extant prosperity of the Northeast NANS Chapter in the shadows of Boko Haram.

The weird pledge by the strange NANS crew got me thinking, so I checked and did some maths. The independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) confirmed that 84 million Nigerians have registered to vote in the 2019 elections. Using 30% of total population being in the 18-35 years age group implies that youth electorates are 35 million strong. Since 2003 when the voter turnout at elections under Babangida’s shenanigan electoral processes peaked at 70%, voter turnouts at other elections have ranged between 57% (2007) and 39% (2015). Assuming 90% turnouts for voters between 18-35 years age group and 50% for voters above 35 years age group, voter population breakdown at next month elections comes to 32 million for the 18-35 voting group and 25 million for the 35 years and above voting group.

Indeed, in spite of his dud presidency, Buhari has assumed an avatar stature of sorts with some Nigerians! It is a bizarre thing. At 76 and in suboptimal heath, Nigerians hardly hear from him directly. They rarely see him live at times of national disasters. When he talks to them, at all, on sleepless national issues, he does so through rent political jobbers or outside the country, typically in jaw dropping comments. Still, Nigerians want him back anyway for four more years.

These Nigerians are so smitten by his legend that they even now believe Boko Haram cannot be defeated by anyone since Buhari is unable. So they ignore hunger, deaths and destructions in which they live and giddily point to the roads his government has constructed during the past four years as evidence of his good governance. You would think roads were never constructed by any governments before Buhari came along. I ask them anyway, how much useful will the roads be as infrastructures when Boko Haram ride into town?

Rewind back to March 2018 when Bill Gates chided the Nigerian leadership to invest in human capital (health, education and opportunities), warning: “People without roads, ports and factories can’t flourish; and roads, ports and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy.” He might as well be talking to a room full of turkeys for none of what he advised on is still evident on the government agenda four frigging years after winning the elections. Trillion Naira budgets year on year, all treacherously cannibalized or foolishly wasted in corruption, incompetence, or both. If Gates was not dismissed as a wailer or his speech a hate speech, Government might have prioritized its programs. Rather, N61.73 billion is still being allocated to Education out of a N8.612 trillion budget and Buhari’s government casually limps on in the middle of negligent corruption, criminal impunity, wars and killings. 

Arrgh, the killings! The 2018 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) ranks Nigeria as the third most terrorized nation on earth coming after countries like Iraq and Afghanistan which are plagued by war. Sometimes, I wonder where Nigeria will be on the traumatized citizenry scale. The savagery of barbarous herdsmen and unremitting bloodshed of Boko Haram, the hundreds of thousands of forlorn Nigerians being banished to thousands of unsecure internally displaced persons (IDP) camps across the country. I saw the photo news of downtrodden Nigerians recently fleeing Maiduguri with all their life belongings on their heads as they ran in fear from expected Boko Haram advance. The same Boko Haram that government insists had been degraded, but who have grown so confident they don’t attack police stations or markets as prime targets anymore. Today, they bring the war to the military which they find as sitting ducks. They come in, sack military bases, cart away government stockpiles, mortars, grenades and pins and kidnap fresh batches of Nigerians on their way out. I don’t know how our military end up in the underdog position of always giving “hot chase” of a degraded Boko Haram, after the fact.

One of the concepts in self-government that appears to be beyond our capability in Nigeria is the importance of public institutions. In a recent report, at least, 50 Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) are yet to remit about N2.78 trillion to the Federal Government as operating surpluses in compliance to the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act which mandates any government agency that generates revenue to remit 80 per cent of its operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account. Some of the implicated GEOs and Agencies include the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) owing N801.18 billion; Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), N1.34 trillion; Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), N30.85 million; Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), N11.99 billion, National Examination Council (NECO), N16.33 billion; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), N192.10 billion; Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), among others. It is not only GOEs, even individuals and corporate entities withhold monies that are due to the Nigerian federation account.

Still, excluded from the GOEs deficits is the stamp duty revenue that Buhari administration instituted in 2016 for banks to collect on behalf of the Federal Government from every electronic transfer and deposit of N1,000 and above and which now has reportedly accrued to N20 trillion but has not been remitted by the banks to the federation account. 

Meanwhile, in jeopardy are: about N40 trillion that Government invested in the GOEs which included a N2.8 trillion loan portfolio of banks from which Government often borrows at high interest rate of 18 percent to finance its obligations; implementation of the N9.1 trillion 2018 budget which has a N1.9 trillion fiscal deficit; and Nigeria’s foreign debt portfolio of about $11 trillion in the last four years, bringing the total debt stock to $22 trillion today.

The least sector that should pose difficulty in collection of revenues to any government should be its own agencies. I mean, what really does it take to hold the Heads of GOEs accountable, fire the Oga at the top, invoke civil service disciplinary rules on the rank and file and force compliance to statutes? Not so easy in our Nigeria where everything is intentionally complicated.

The series of floundering governments that Nigeria has had since birth, especially after thorough bastardization by the military during their ignorant interregnum years, only know how to run the government as one-man shows. The Police Force jumps into action to catch a killer or kidnapper only after the president yells at it, Water Works never works, Electricity never stays, Petroleum Board never ceases to import refined petrol, etc, unless the president determines what government agency is concessioned, to whom, and which concessionee needs subsidy or bail out. Appointments of Heads of GOEs are based purely on political obligations without a care for job fit or job descriptions. So we end up with public institutions that function more as extensions of political parties. It is only in Africa that you will find governments being run like this.

As I was saying, a bloc with 32 million votes is one of the largest electorate groups anywhere in the world. That is an enormous balance of power in the hands of the much beleaguered, abused and mismanaged Nigerian youths! Even if the youths are inexperienced to run the country, they can at least put their votes where their interest is.

Nigeria continuously plays out its inability to overcome its problems on the open stage for all to see, every day. Anyone who desires and comes out to lead Nigeria should come in ready with full awareness of what ails us and what s/he can do to solve/contain our problems right from Day 1. No more learning on the job or lamenting through the first four years on how bad things are. We already knew the terrible state of our living conditions and thought you knew. You are not the leader we need if you come in to fight corruption only to turnaround and be whining that corruption is fighting you back. We are voting you in to come and help us stop the hunger, the killings, the impunity, the incompetence, the corruption and general national stupidity that have held us hostage in stone-age for 58 years.

We want a multi-commodity economy, quality education and technological evolution. We want jobs, security of lives and property, food security, and law and order. We want easier access to potable water, health care and housing. At this point in our flag independence, Nigeria needs a leader who can still do push-ups, who is a nationalist, progressive, intellectually sound, competent, brave, and who can establish and effectively run strong public institutions.

Nigerians, the coming February elections are not and should not be a contest perfunctorily between the same old feckless PDP and APC parties. These two parties are mirror images of each other. They are populated from the same gene pool of vacuous and greedy Nigerians who cross into each other’s bear hugs simply for access to easy loots or lootable positions. Nobody is putting a gun on your temples demanding that you must vote for APC or PDP.  Such thinking is in your subconscious minds due to being subjugated in a prolonged state of impoverishment by the rapacious political class. Absolutely nothing says you must continue to keep memberships of these two parties afloat as hangmen/women over you with their votes.

The belief that Buhari is the only honest Nigerian out of 200 million is a delusion grandeur. It is not a pride for Nigeria, it is an indictment of us all. If you believe the hype that sai-Baba is the only one who can manage Nigeria at 76, then worry for the plight of Nigeria when Baba must leave the stage at 80. If you believe that Atiku can save Nigeria by selling it off and earn foreign exchange by trading in bitcoins, then worry for what scraps remain of Nigeria and are left over to your children after just four years at the helms.

There are 20 presidential candidates in this election. For sure, many of them are unfit and crooks. But if you examine carefully, you will find one or two that will make better alternatives to the PDP/APC old school. Nigerians, don’t be satisfied with declarative statements as manifestoes. Ask serious questions of each candidate. What are your priority national issues that you wish to tackle for us when you become elected? How will you tackle them? Where will you get the funds you need to prosecute your programs, will you raise our deficit ceiling by borrowing more loans and mortgaging our future to China or IMF? Give us the figures. How will you create real jobs? What are your target timelines for getting results? Specify what results you aim to achieve on each selected problem. Then vote for the one you like his/her answers the most.

Listen to me, Nigerian youths. Come out en mass and vote intelligently in February. You of all voting blocs should aim at 100% turnout. It’s not that you have better things to do, you have no jobs anyway. Come fricking out and vote in your new Nigeria. It’s your one bloody chance in four years.

Even if all intelligent voting could do is break up the voting blocs between our two predatory parties away from 55%/45% into say 22%/15%/32%/31%, then Nigerians would have taken a giant step toward retrieving Nigeria from the edge because irresponsible politicians would have to form political alliances with responsible and progressive politicians.

Use your PVC wisely and make 2019 a good milestone in the history of Nigeria.

We can change the status quo in Nigeria this year.

The Brits left a long time ago.

Dr. Salako writes from Boston, MA. USA. He is a frontline social critic and commentator on Nigeria. He may be reached by email at kanzi345@gmail.com

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NCAA Reads Riot Act To Illegal Charter Operators

13 January 2019 - 8:59am


The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says it would not hesitate to revoke or suspend the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) of any operator found engaging in illegal charter operations.

The regulatory agency also warned members of the public not to patronise illegal operators, stating that in the case of a major incident or accident, the operator may not have insurance that covers all occupants of the aircraft.

The warning is coming months after some helicopter operators in Nigeria accused the Nigeria Police Force of engaging in unapproved charter operations.

Although the Police debunked the claim at the time, sources in the industry insisted that the authority and some private jet operators consistently engage in commercial operations to the detriment of approved operators.

A statement by Sam Adurogboye, the General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, on Sunday, noted that NCAA would not hesitate to sanction operators engaging in illegal activities henceforth.

NCAA also warned the public to desist from patronising such unapproved operators, stressing that holders of Air Transport Licence (ATL) and Airline Operating Permit (AOP) with valid AOCs were the only authorised operators to carry out charter operations in the industry.

He declared that the warning was in line with the NCAA statutory responsibilities of safeguarding the interest of the general public and that of investors in the aviation sector.

According to Adurogboye, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015 Part 18.2.3.1., reads in part: ‘No person shall use any aircraft in Nigeria for hire and reward in public transport category to provide non scheduled or charter air service unless such a person holds an ATL  or Airline Operating Permit (AOP) issued by the Authority’.

He explained that for the purpose of verification and authentication, the list of current holders with appropriate authorisation to carry out charter operations was on the NCAA website.

“It therefore follows that any member of the public transacting business with any unauthorized operator will be doing so at a high risk as such operations may not have valid insurance cover. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority will continue to ensure strict compliance to safety regulations as violation(s) will be viewed seriously," he added.

Last November, some helicopter operators had raised the alarm over involvement of the Nigeria Police Force in operating charter operations with the choppers in their fleet. The helicopter operators alleged that the Police involved in the services illegally without the required permit for such operations.

Investigations by our correspondent had revealed that helicopter charter shuttles, for which commercial operators charge $105,000 were being allegedly carried out by the Police Air Wing for a paltry $30,000, thereby reducing the cost by $75,000.

A source close to scheduled operators confided in our correspondent that the involvement of Police Air Wing Helicopters in hire-and-reward operations was not only jeopardising the interest of commercial operators, which had proper permit, licences and approvals to carry out charter flights, but also constituted danger to the industry.

It was gathered that the Police helicopters operated between Kaduna and Abuja in 2017 during the Nnamdi Azikwe international Airport renovation. Police choppers are also said to operate at Gombe airport without insurance for their clients, which negated civil aviation regulations.

With their involvement, the chopper operators lamented that the Police was undercutting their market share and resulted in reduction of the cost of charter. The operators said that with this, the Police had brought down the cost of hiring to Bell Helicopters to a ridiculous 20 per cent the value of such flights.

They warned that such illegal operations by the Police Air Wing could push scheduled operators out of business if not quickly nipped in the bud.

It was gathered that the operators had complained of the purported illegal operations to the industry regulator, NCAA, to probe the infractions by the Police Air Wing.

A source close to commercial helicopter operators said though helicopters in the Police Air Wing are meant for government services under the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCAR), they are, however, allegedly being used for commercial services.

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Militants Occupy Another Conoil Facility In Bayelsa

13 January 2019 - 7:52am


File Photo

File Photo

A group of militants have taken over 'Auntie Julie' ConOil production platform offshore in Sangana community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

Last Sunday, a group referred to as Koluama Seven Brothers, had claimed responsibility for an attack on a Conoil facility, which it said was a warning to the oil company.. See Also Oil Gunmen Attack On Conoil Facility In Bayelsa A Hoax, Says Ex-Militant Leader 0 Comments 1 Week Ago

However, in the recent attack, the gunmen, said to be 15 in number, arrived the platform at about 4:30am on January 9 and took over the Conoil production platform.

According to security sources, the gunmen came with several speed boats and allegedly demanded to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the management of Conoil as part of their demands from the indigenous oil firm.

The militants were suspected to be members of the group known as Seven Koluama Brothers.

The Commander of the NNS Soroh, Navy Captain Felix Esekhile, confirmed the development via telephone, stating that: "They only came to protest, like it happened with Shell and other oil companies on issues of MoU with Conoil. We intervened and no production came to a halt and no worker or security personnel at the platform was taken hostage. The platform is up and running as we speak".

An ex-militant leader, who preferred not to be named, said he intervened in the matter and "the boys have been persuaded to leave the platform and they have left today".

"I did the negotiating with them to give peace a chance and they listened to me," he added.
 

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'The Timing Is Condemnable' — NBA President Speaks On Onnoghen's Impending Trial

13 January 2019 - 7:25am


Paul Usoro, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has berated the Nigerian government for the timing of the charges filed against Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Onnoghen is scheduled to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday, at the Federal High Court in Abuja, after the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) filed corruption-related charges against him.

The charges were based on fraudulent declaration of assets, and was instituted after a petition by a civil society group, the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI). See Also Corruption Nigeria's Chief Justice Onnoghen To Face Corruption, Assets Declaration Charges 0 Comments 5 Days Ago

A statement by Usoro on Sunday, condemned the timing of the trial, just as he accused the Nigerian government of "targeted assault of the judiciary by agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria".

USORO's FULL STATEMENT

 

Assault, Intimidation and Desecration of the Judiciary Must Stop

 

1. Nigerians have witnessed again the targeted assault of the judiciary by agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria (“FGN”) epitomized by today’s media trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honorable Mr. Justice Walter S N Onnoghen, GCON (“CJN”). According to media reports which have now been validated by the Statement of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (“CCT”) that was released today an application was “filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau to the CCT Chairman yesterday for the trial to commence against the Chief Justice of Nigeria on six count charges” and that the CCT “will commence the trial on Monday, 14th January 2019”. The Nigerian Bar Association unequivocally condemns this assault, intimidation and desecration of the Judiciary by FGN agencies and demands that it be stopped immediately.

2. In Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391(CA), the Court of Appeal made it very clear that any misconduct attached to the office and functions of a judicial officer must first be reported to and handled by the National Judicial Council (“NJC”) pursuant to the provisions of our laws. Only after the NJC has pronounced against such judicial officer can the prosecuting agencies of the Federal Government proceed against him. As the Court pointed out, these requirements of the law are anchored on the overriding principles of separation of powers between the executive, the judiciary and the legislature and on the need to preserve, promote and protect the independence of the judiciary. Our respective liberties and the rule of law are best protected and preserved if the judiciary remains independent and shielded from intimidation and assault by the other arms of the government.

3. In Nganjiwa v FRN (supra), the Court of Appeal made reference to Rule 3 of the Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of February 2016 (“Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers”) and held that the said Rule 3 “makes provision in relation to fidelity to the Constitution and the Law”. The provisions in regard to assets declaration as they apply to all public officers including the CJN are contained in both the Constitution and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act 1991, the enabling law that establishes both the Code of Conduct Bureau (“CCB”) and the CCT. The fidelity which judicial officers therefore owe “to the Constitution and the Law” pursuant to Rule 3 of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers encompasses compliance with the provisions relating to assets declarations as contained in the Constitution and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. Any infraction in that regard by a judicial officer, as the Court of Appeal rightly held, constitutes a misconduct by the judicial officer and becomes the subject matter for discipline by the NJC as a condition precedent to any possible prosecution of the judicial officer by any of the FGN’s prosecuting agencies.

4. Why has FGN decided to embark on this anomalous course of charging the CJN before the CCT without first presenting whatever facts it purportedly has against His Lordship to the NJC for its deliberation and determination? The Petition that triggered the CCB action was on its face received by the Bureau on 09 January 2019 and the Charge was promptly drafted and is dated the following day, 10 January 2019 – giving the CCB a record 24 hours for completion of its investigation and the drafting of the said Charge and ancillary processes! If one contemplates the fact that the CCT arraignment is scheduled to take place on 14 January 2019, we have in total a record number of 3 (three) working days between the receipt and processing of the petition, investigation, preparation of Charge and ancillary processes and the arraignment! Such unprecedented speed and efficiency in Nigeria’s criminal justice administration! It is clear, given the rush with which this matter was conducted by the CCB, that the NJC was not privy to it and did not conduct its mandatorily required disciplinary processes prior to the filing of the Charge before the CCT.

5. We still wonder why the FGN choose to deviate from the laid down and explicit provisions of the law as expounded in Nganjiwa v FRN (supra). Could it be that it was misadvised? Or is this a naked show of power and force by agencies of the FGN? And why embark on the media trial of the CJN? This, unfortunately, is a predilection of the FGN’s prosecuting agencies with the possible exception of the Federal Ministry of Justice. As the NBA pointed out in its International Anti-Corruption Day Statement that was issued on 09 December 2018 “media trial of persons charged with corrupt practices... amount to corruption itself. Indeed, those orchestrated media trials degrade and corrupt the justice administration system quite apart from the incalculable (but obviously intended) damage that it does to persons who may ultimately be discharged and acquitted. In point of fact, it is corrupt practice to use as license or hide under the cover of the fight against corruption to recklessly destroy the names, characters and reputations of persons who have not been found guilty of corrupt practices by competent courts and who may ultimately be pronounced innocent of such charges.” These media trials must, alongside the on-going desecration and assault of the judiciary, cease forthwith.

6. There are two final issues that we must touch upon in this Statement, albeit, briefly. First, could it possibly be a coincidence that the current assault on the judiciary is taking place only weeks to the 2019 National Election? Apart from the conduct itself being wrongful and deplorable, its timing is condemnable. FGN will find it difficult to convince any reasonable person that its assault against the CJN and by extension the judiciary is not aimed at emasculating that arm of the government and intimidating our Judges ahead of the 2019 National Elections. In our afore-referenced International Anti-Corruption Day Statement, the NBA had deplored “conducts that qualify as... political non-accountability, absence of transparency and impunity in public service.” The FGN’s conduct in this instance qualifies, amongst others, as “impunity in public service”.

7. As a final point, it is also difficult for a disinterested observer not to see a pattern of consistent assault by agencies of the FGN on the heads of the two independent arms of government, to wit, the legislature and the judiciary, starting with the prosecution of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the CCT and now, the ill-fated prosecution of the CJN before the same CCT. The impression must not be created that the agencies of the Executive arm of the FGN are interested in destabilizing and laying prostrate the other arms of the Government and in the process eliminating and destroying any and all voices of dissent and checks and balances. That is not desirable for the democracy that we strive to build neither is it good for the image of the Government.

We urge restraint on the part of Government and demand that the CCB follow due process in proceeding against the CJN by complying with Nganjiwa’s Judgment (supra) and other similar judicial precedents. This continuing attack on the justice sector must cease forthwith. FGN and its agencies must desist from debasing the rule of law.

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Otudeko, Other Witnesses May Appear In Court On Monday Over N5.5bn Debt

13 January 2019 - 6:02am


Consequent upon the directive of Justice Ayotunde Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos asking Ecobank Nigeria Limited to bring to court all his witnesses in its legal tussle with the Honeywell Group of Companies Limited over an alleged N5.5billion indebtedness, the chairman of the conglomerate, Oba Otudeko may appear in court on January 14 to give evidence in the suit.

When the matter came up for hearing on Friday, first plaintiff witness Oluwakemi Olanrewaju Owasanoye, Head of Treasury and Finance to Honeywell Group of Companies while under cross examination from  Mr. Divine Agbua , Ecobank Plc counsel, told Justice Faji that by an agreement dated July 22, 2013, at a meeting with the then Oceanic Bank Limited, the company agreed to merge all the indebtedness of the company's three subsidiaries and put the total indebtedness at N3.5billion.

Owasanoye added that part of the agreement was that N500million of the debt must be paid immediately, while the balance of N3billion must be paid before the exit of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) examiners from the bank.

The witness said Honeywell Group complied with the agreement by paying N500million same day, July 22, 2013 and also ensured the payment of the balance of N3billion before the exit of the CBN examiners from the bank.

Owasanoye said after complying with the terms of the agreement, the company wrote the defendant (Oceanic Bank) informing the bank of its compliance with the terms of the agreement and the need for the bank to discharge her of any obligation. The witness said the bank in its reply to the letter did not say anything contrary. The witness added that the company was surprised when after a year, the bank came up via a letter to make further demands of the alleged indebtedness which had been fully liquidated.

Under cross examination, Owasanoye confirmed that the whole money was paid in four instalments of N500million, N850million, N1billion, N1.15billion and that all the money was paid before the  exit of the CBN examiners, in line with the terms of agreement.

She added that when the dispute arose, the matter was referred to the Bankers' Committee consisting of bank managing directors, representatives of the CBN and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), and that the matter was resolved in favour of Honeywell.

In his own testimony, Ecobank witness, Mr Elemi Gabor, Head of Corporate Communications of the bank, while being cross examined by Honeywell lawyer, Mr Olabode Olanipekun (SAN), insisted that the agreement for the payment was for a two-term payment only. He said the agreement stipulates that N500million must be paid that same day and the balance immediately.

Agbor said Honeywell breached the terms of agreement that same day.

However, when asked about the time the first tranche of N500million was paid, the witness said on the same day July 22, 2013, but with a letter. When asked further about the importance of the exit of CBN examiners to the terms of payment as contained in the terms of agreement, Agbor said: "I don't know if payment was tied to the exit of the CBN examiners".

When asked to show where in his statement on oath it was stated that the payment must be made twice, the witness said: "I can't find it".

Meanwhile, Justice Ayotunde Faji has adjourned further hearing on the matter till January 14 and 17, 2019. He also direct counsel to bring all witnesses on the next adjourned date, and reminded them of the order of accelerated hearing made by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Legal hostilities over the disputed N5.5billion debt commenced afresh last Thursday before Justice Ayotunde Faji, following the the elevation of the former trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris to the Court of Appeal.

At the last hearing of the matter before the former trial judge, Justice Idris (now Appeal Court Judge) adjourned the matter indefinitely, following an interlocutory appeal filed by Ecobank Plc, challenging his refusal to recuse himself from hearing the matter.

However, when the matter resumed on Thursday, both parties agreed to adopt all exhibits and statements on oath earlier tendered in the matter before the former trial judge (Justice Idris) and the court consequently consented to the agreement. Upon the consent of both parties, the first plaintiff's witness, Oluwakemi Olanrewaju Owasonoye, Head of Treasury/Finance of Honeywell Group of Companies, who was led in evidence by Honeywell's lawyer, Mr. Olabode Olanipekun (SAN), was subsequently asked to enter the witness box so as to adopt her earlier statements on oath, which she did.

Following the plaintiff's witness adoption of her statements on oath, lawyer to Ecobank Plc, Mr. Divine Agbua, informed the court of a pending motion to call additional witness on March 7, 2018; this was moved and subsequently granted by the trial judge. Lawyer to Ecobank Plc lawyer also sought for an adjournment till Friday, to cross-examine the plaintiff's witness. This matter was subsequently adjourned till Friday for further hearing.

The suit, which was filed by Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, and its sister company, Anchorage Leisures Ltd, against Ecobank Nigeria Limited is urging the court to hold that they are not indebted to Ecobank.

However, Ecobank Plc is claiming that Honeywell and its sister companies are indebted to it in the said sum, by refusing to  comply strictly with the terms of agreement dated July 22, 2013 by which all the company"s indebtedness were merged and the company asked to pay a concessionary sum of N3.5billion.

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FLASHBACK: Five Times Onnoghen’s Accuser Proved Himself Buhari’s Main Man

13 January 2019 - 2:43am

In less than 24 hours that the petition written by Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), alleging asset declaration irregularities against Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), became public knowledge, the arrowhead of the organisation, Denis Aghanya, has been unveiled.

Aghanya has never been obscure in the media, and he has a history of aligning with President Muhammadu Buhari or with his interests.

Former Media Aide

Aghanya is a former media aide to Buhari and was also the Publicity Secretary of defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He is also the current media adviser to Juliet Chikaodili Ibekaku, a senatorial candidate under the umbrella of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Supported Buhari Over the National Assembly

ARDI and its Executive Secretary have always been vocal in the media, pitching their tents with President Buhari and his government.

Nine months ago, Aghanya and ARDI sided with the President when he purchased $496 million aircraft without the approval of the National Assembly. In his entreaties for the President, he pleaded with the leadership of the National Assembly not to take stringent measures in addressing the President’s faux pas.

In justifying the President’s act, Aghanya reasoned that the President had not committed any serious offence since he did not embezzle the said sum.

“The President’s only sin is that he did not seek the approval of NASS for the release of the fund; he did not embezzle it. For anyone to think of impeachment process against him is not right. We have many problems at hand. Violation of a constitutional provision is bad but it is worse to act in an immoral manner.”

He continued; “There is no doubt that Mr President erred in his approval and release of such magnitude of fund to place order for the controversial aircraft, but I prefer to view his actions from his intention rather than the technicalities associated with the process of releasing the fund. He meant well and nobody can take away that fact. We were all witnesses in this country when funds were appropriated and released and it was completely diverted and embezzled and nobody was questioned. I must confess, however, that I am also happy that the National Assembly could be on top of its game by living up to its oversight function.”

Sided With Buhari During EKweremadu’s EFCC Travails

Aghanya cautioned Ohaneze Ndigbo, an ethnic and socio-cultural organization, against giving ethic colouration to the investigation of Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He said: “The ethnic dimension given to the ongoing investigation of the Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, by the EFCC is worrisome. Most worrisome is the role of Ohaneze Ndigbo, which sees every prosecution of their own extraction as unjust. Our position is that Ekweremadu should answer to the issues raised by the EFCC over the alleged 60 assets traced to him. He should also stop giving it the coloration of a persecution against Ndigbo.

“The fight against corruption does not recognize religion or ethnicity and should not be given such coloration. Ekweremadu’s problems are personal and should be treated as such. We wish to commend the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property led by Okoi Obono-Obla for tracing those alleged assets.”

‘Chief Convener’ Of Buhari Unity Band

In November, Aghanya was at the Presidential villa in Abuja to unveil the Buhari Unity Band, a group to propagate support for Buhari ahead of the 2019 presidential election. He splashed the picture on his Facebook page, vividly describing his activity at the villa.

“At the conference centre, state house presidential villa Abuja for the unveiling of Buhari Unity Band by GOGAN (Good Governance Ambassadors of Nigeria) in my capacity as the Chief Convener of C24 (Coalition of 24 Civil Society Organization for Good Governance and Electoral Integrity for Nigeria).

Buhari’s Friends Are His Friends

In 2017, Aghanya’s ARDI awarded Abdullahi Ganduje, Governor of Kano State, the Award of Best Governor in Curtailing Drug Abuse in the country in recognition of his “sustained and systematic fight against corruption through curtailing drug abuse in the state”. 
At the award ceremony, Aghanya had said: "Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje represents most of the values that ARDI as an organisation is known for in standing in support of the fight against corruption and graft in Nigeria.

“To be specific, he has taken the anti-corruption campaign to the grassroots by commissioning the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in all the 44 local governments of the state.”

However, since October, when Daily Nigerian released videos of the same Ganduje collecting bribes in dollars from contractors, Aghanya has been dead silent.

These, and many more, are the reasons many are wondering if Aghanya’s petition against Onnoghen is not part of a larger pro-Buhari scheme.

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PDP, CSOs Accuse Buhari Of Plot To Remove CJN Onnoghen

13 January 2019 - 1:00am


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s main opposition party and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have accused President Muhammadu Buhari of being the mastermind behind an alleged plot to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

PDP, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), and Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution (CDNDC), made the accusation in different statements on Saturday.

The opposition party said the presidency is plotting to destabilise the judiciary ahead of the general election.

PDP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “If President Buhari is committed to cleaning up the system as he claims, we challenge him to allow the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, whose tenure has expired and who had also been rejected by Nigerians due to his manifest partisanship, to go.

“President Buhari should also ask Amina Zakari to recuse herself from INEC following her rejection by Nigerians over issues of impropriety in her appointment as Chairman of the Presidential Election Collation Committee.

“Furthermore, we challenge Mr. President to also commence plans for the immediate prosecution of members of his campaign organisation, including his co-chairman, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the (factional) National Chairman of his APC, Adams Oshiomhole over the allegations of corruption against them."

Similarly, Edwin Clark, President of PANDEF, said the arraignment of the CJN is a plan for President Buhari to install his loyalist as the head of the judiciary.

“The news of the (planned) arraignment of the CJN came to us as a surprise. He has been doing his job satisfactorily; he is an intelligent man. But Mr. President, who never wanted him to be appointed before the election, now wants to remove him in order to put his own candidate as CJN, so that after rigging the election, he would set up the tribunal that would try the case.

“If he didn’t declare his assets, there is a procedure. Why didn’t they follow that procedure? This harassment will not be accepted by us," he said.

In the statement released by its convener, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, CDNDC said: “From the outset, the despotic Buhari regime had fruitlessly sought to control and undermine the judiciary to do its illegal bidding, but it failed.

“The unfolding plot is part of Buhari’s plan to drive Nigeria into a closed society, where only extremists can survive. We will mobilise Nigerians to resist another phase of assault on the judiciary.”

However, Itse Sagay, a senior advocate and chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) said the persecution of CJN showed that no one is above the law in Nigeria.

“It shows that in Nigeria, nobody is above the law. I do not rejoice, neither am I pleased that such high officials are being probed or investigated, but it shows that in Nigeria, the law is working and that the rule of law operates and that no one is higher than the law.

“That is the good aspect of it. Otherwise, I am not happy about it but if the reason arises why they should be investigated or invited and they are invited, it shows that the Nigerian legal system is working and that the rule of law operates but if it is you or I, you know that automatically, we will be indicted; but when the bigger guns in the country, who have all the power are also being indicted, it means it is a good sign for the rule of law in Nigeria.”

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CJN Onnoghen's Accuser Denies Petition Was Politically-Motivated, Says He Sued Buhari In 2011​

13 January 2019 - 12:58am


Dennis Aghanya, Executive Director, Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative (ARDI), who wrote the petition against Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, claims he took President Muhammadu Buhari to court in 2011.

In an interview published by The Punch on Sunday, he denied being sponsored by the presidency.

Aghanya affirmed that he used to be Buhari's aide, but dismissed the claims that the petition against Onnoghen was politically-motivated.

"Did you not know that I once took Mr. President to court in 2011? I used to be one of his aides but I took him to court. This is a petition by an NGO. What has Mr. President got to do with it? People are just trying to avoid a major issue. Our concern is to unveil irregularities. People should not try to politicise the good work we are doing. The person the petition was written against owned up to everything. In issues of this nature, should we be sentimental or do we face facts?” he queried. 

Asked why the petition against Onnoghen was coming so close to the elections, Aghanya said there was no time lag in things of that nature.

He noted that his organisation commenced investigation against the CJN about a year ago.

He dismissed the allegations that the petition was politically-motivated, adding that ARDI should rather be commended for exposing the alleged misdemeanour of the CJN.

Aghanya said it was not true that the petition was calculated to emasculate the judiciary or help President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in the forthcoming presidential poll, adding that Nigerians should be more interested in the substance of the case.

He continued: “There is no time lag in things of that nature, but it appears people are leaving the substance of the case to pursue shadows. People have not looked at the merit of the case, so they are not bothered that something was going wrong and we had to point it out.

“I weep for this country. How are we working for Mr President? Is it because we came up with a petition that was substantiated? Why should it be tied to the elections? It is immaterial. Even before he was sworn in as the CJN, there were cases established against him, but nobody had the courage to take them up.”

Onnoghen is expected to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday.

Aghanya also said he would address a press conference soon.

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Crisis Mars APC Rally In Imo

13 January 2019 - 12:55am



Crisis Mars APC Rally In ImoThe All Progressives Congress (APC) rally held at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri on Saturday was marred by violence as supporters of two governorship candidates engaged in fisticuffs.

It was gathered that the supporters of Hope Uzodinma, the APC governorship candidate and those of his Action Alliance (AA) counterpart, Uche Nwosu, engaged in a fight at the APC women and youth rally.

Supporters of Nwosu chanted songs of victory and raised his posters excitedly in the air prior to the clash.

It took the intervention of security operatives, who kept shooting sporadically in the air as they quickly cordoned off the VIP stand, where the wife of the vice-president, Dolapo Osibanjo who represented wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, was seated alongside other dignitaries.

Some persons sustained injuries, before the clash was quelled by the security operatives.Rochas Okorocha, Governor of the State, blamed the fracas on thugs allegedly hired by Uzodinma. 

"Hope Uzodinma can never win the governorship election in the state. The alliance between AA and APC is a perfect one. We are working to deliver President Buhari and Uche Nwosu in the state," he said.

In her remarks, Mrs Osinbajo urged the crowd to vote Buhari and the APC candidates in the forthcoming election.

Barely one week ago, violence erupted at the APC rally held in Lagos, leaving many people injured.

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Truck Carrying APC-Branded Rice Crushes Dozens To Death In Ekiti

13 January 2019 - 12:37am






PHOTONEWS: Dangote Truck Carrying APC-Branded Rice Crushes Dozens To Death In Ekiti


More than 20 persons were crushed to death on Saturday night in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, by a truck conveying branded rice linked to a politician.

SaharaReporters gathered that the truck was transporting the branded rice from Abuja, and was en route the Ifaki-Iworoko road in Ado Ekiti, when the incident occurred.

The truck was transiting from Ado Ekiti to Iju/Ita Ogbolu in Ondo State to deliver the rice. 

It was learnt that the trailer caused multiple accidents on Iworoko road, as it also affected an 18-seater Toyota bus and a Toyota Corrolla car, thereby causing heavy traffic.

SaharaReporters also gathered that the scene of the accident was a stone-throw from the Ekiti State University.

Titilayo Ayelola, who witnessed the fatal accident, noted that the driver of the truck lost control of the wheels and rammed into the people.

Ayelola disclosed that the lorry was conveying rice branded with 'Senator Tayo Alasoadura for Senate 2019'. 

Narrating the incident, Ayelola said: "The driver of the truck lost control of the wheels and rammed into the market which was close to the road in Iworoko. Many traders, who were still selling at night, were affected. In fact, it ran into the popular barber's shop close to the road and crushed everyone in the place to death.

"The trailer was conveying branded APC rice which belonged to Senator Tayo Alasoadura of Ondo State and while other were crying, some other persons were busy looting the rice."

Caleb Ikechukwu, spokeperson of the Ekiti State Police Command, confirmed the accident via a phone interview with SaharaReporters. 

"The accident actually happened at Iworoko road in Ado Ekiti just this evening and I heard that there were causalities, but I cannot give figures. I am yet to get proper briefing about it. I learnt that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of that area is now on his way to the scene. So, I cannot give you the details, until he is back to brief us," he said.

It was gathered that the corpses of those who lost their lives in the fatal accident have been deposited at the hospital's morgue. 

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Vote PDP And Get Millions Of Naira, Politicians Tell Sokoto Residents​

13 January 2019 - 12:32am


Prominent members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have promised residents of Sokoto State millions of Naira if they vote for the party in the coming elections.

These promises were made during the zonal campaign rally held in Bodinga Local Government Area of Sokoto State.

According to Daily Trust, Attahiru  Bafarawa, a former governor of Sokoto State promised to give the sum of N50million to any zone in the state with the highest number of PDP votes.

Similarly, Alhaji Umarun Kwabo, a Sokoto-based businessman, and Muntari Maigona, the Director-General, PDP’s presidential and gubernatorial committee, promised the highest voting zone a brand new jeep and the sum of N10million respectively.

Bafarawa said he was backing Tambuwal’s re-election bid because the incumbent governor meant well for the state.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, Tambuwal promised to construct 5,000 kilometres of feeder roads across the state in collaboration with the World Bank, if reelected.

He also promised to provide potable water to the nooks and crannies of the state, as well as farming inputs to farmers at very subsidised rates.

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Kashamu Insists On Running, Denies Supporting Adebutu

13 January 2019 - 12:27am


Senator-elect, Buruji Kashamu

Buruji Kasamu, the senator representing Ogun East at the National Assembly, has debunked the media reports that he has withdrawn from the Ogun State governorship election scheduled for March 2, 2019.

Kashamu made the clarification on Saturday while addressing newsmen in Lagos, adding that the statement attributed to him on Wednesday was twisted.

He said he remains the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State and urged his supporters to dismiss the report that he had withdrawn from the race.

"I have never issued any statement that I stepped down for Adebutu. What I said was that we should all join hands together for the victory of the party. If the court rules that Ladi is the candidate, eventually, I will support him and if the court upholds my victory, I expect him to work for me. But the most important thing is that we should all work together for the victory of the PDP," he stated. 

He said he only asked his supporters to give their full support to Adebutu should he win the court case, insisting that he would not step down unless the court ruled otherwise.

"It is strange that the national leadership of the PDP is claiming that Ladi Adebutu is the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun, despite that he emerged through an illegal process. The PDP leaders are the ones making a mistake.

They are respectable people, but there are no two governorship candidates of the PDP in Ogun. It is the exco of Adebayo that is known to the law and that is why INEC is relating with his exco," he added.

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Police: We Didn't Arrest Photojournalist For Sporting Dreadlocks

13 January 2019 - 12:26am


The Lagos State Police Command has said its anti-cultism division did not arrest Yinka Badmus, a photojournalist, for sporting dreadlocks.

Chike Oti, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), said this in a statement received by SaharaReporters on Saturday.

It had been earlier reported that Badmus was arrested by some police officers because of his dreadlocks, which the officers allegedly said portrayed him as a cultist. 

However, in an attempt to set the record straight, the command said: “To start with, it is ridiculous to say that the Anti-Cultism Unit of the Lagos State Police Command charged a suspect to court because of his hairstyle. Clearly speaking, Yinka Badmus and 13 others were charged to Ogudu Magistrate Court on January 4, 2019, on a two-count charge. 

“The first count is conspiracy, i.e. for conspiring amongst themselves to commit felony to wit membership of unlawful society contrary to and punishable under Section 411, Cap CH, C17, Vol. 3 Laws of Lagos, 2015. 

“The second count holds them for belonging to an unlawful society known as Eiye confraternity, contrary to and punishable under Section 42(a), Cap CH, C17  Vol. 3, Laws of Lagos State 2015. 

“The suspects were, however, granted bail in the sum of fifty thousand Naira (N50,000) by a court of competent jurisdiction. 

“However, those who could not meet the bail conditions were remanded in prison custody, pending when they would meet the stipulated conditions for their bail. This is an issue that is neither within the purview of Force nor its control.

“In view of the development, the Command wishes to put the matter straight. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no section of the Lagos State Criminal Law and indeed the Criminal Code, that criminalises hairstyle. 

“Therefore, there is no way the said Yinka Badmus could have been charged to court for wearing dreadlocks by the Police. Suspects are charged to court based on the existing law and not for mundane reasons."

Badmus’ boss, Stephen Oguntoyinbo, had claimed that Badmus was arrested on December 31, 2018, while eating noodles in the community he lives, on the suspicion that his hairstyle presentes him as a cultist.

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150 SANS Volunteer To Represent CJN Onnoghen In Court

13 January 2019 - 12:24am


Walter Onnoghen and Buhari

Walter Onnoghen and Buhari

At least 150 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) have signalled interest to appear before the Justice Danladi Yakubu-led Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday in defence of Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice Of Nigeria (CJN), in connection with allegations slammed against him.

Sabastine Tartenger Hon, a senior advocate, disclosed this to Daily Trust via a phone conversation.

The Code of Condict Bureau is acting on a petition written by Dennis Aghanya, the Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative (ARDI), accusing Onnoghen of financial mistrust, including operating domiciliary foreign currency accounts, in apparent disregard for the law that prohibits public officials from having such.

In another statement released by the senior advocate, he encouraged the CJN to be strong, describing the charges against him as an attempt to muzzle the judiciary.

His words: "While I know that the Chief Justice of Nigeria does not enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution, I see this move by the Federal Government as dangerously political and tendentious. 

“Suddenly we woke to see a petition leaked to the informal or social media, allegedly received by the Code of Conduct on 9th January 2019. Suddenly, we are told charges have been filed against the CJN. Suddenly, the presidency is reportedly asking him to step aside! Was he interrogated or interviewed and his reactions obtained?”

Contrary to Hon’s position, Johnson Esezebo, a Lagos-based lawyer, said the CJN should be held accountable if he is found wanting of the law.

He cited a case by Justice Akinola Aguda, who gave maximum punishment to a lawyer accused of wrongdoing because a lawyer ought to have known better.

He reasoned that lawyers must remain the fortress of the people, adding no matter the people’s nomenclature, tribe or religion, "we should be guided by the law".

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South-South Governors Call Emergency Meeting To Discuss Impending Trial Of CJN Onnoghen

12 January 2019 - 12:56pm


The South South Governors' Forum has scheduled an emergency meeting for Sunday to discuss the impending trial of Walter Onnnoghen, the Chief Justice of the Federation for alleged corruption and false assets declaration.

A statement by Fidelis Soriwei, the Special Adviser on Media Relations to the Governor of Bayelsa State, stated that the security of the Niger Delta, during and after the election, plus the issue of derivation, would also be discussed.

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had filed corruption-related charges against Justice Walter Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The charges are based on fraudulent declaration of assets, and the trial is set to begin on Monday. See Also Corruption Nigeria's Chief Justice Onnoghen To Face Corruption, Assets Declaration Charges 0 Comments 5 Days Ago

Speaking on the development, Seriake Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State, said although he was yet to know the full details surrounding the case, "it is a grave and dangerous escalation, coming a few weeks to the general election".

He said the South-South governors would address a press conference after the meeting to convey the position of the zone to the Nigerian public.

According to Dickson, "all efforts must be on deck to prevent the subversion and desecration of the ethos of democracy in Nigeria as nation moves nearer to the elections".

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Stomach Infrastructure As A Political Tool In Nigeria By Muhammed Adoke

12 January 2019 - 7:57am

...Stepping out of the vehicle was a delight. I looked at my wrist watch and the time clocked 1:15pm. I walked towards the gathering of mothers in their multitude and noticed how they relish behaving like children when they are among their folks. That sense of familiarity makes even the strictest of all mothers to act childishly in the midst of her contemporaries.

“My own nkor?”

“U never give me o!” 

“What of my neighbour own?” The noise was too much that no one seemed to be hearing what the other was saying. The distributors were in uniformed blue face cap, white polo T-Shirt and black trousers. They were two women and a young man. They gave orders and commanded respects, amid awe and admiration from the recipients. They must be persons well ‘connected’ to the Ogas at the top. In a critical period like this, getting an appointment to be in charge of food and other relief materials is the nicest of all white-collar jobs. Such job is a sure licence to not die of hunger. I looked around turning my head from one side to the other, and almost twisting it in order to know whether or not any significant changes had taken place during my absence.  

Going back to the handout, I remembered that some years before, these hardworking women of my beloved community used to be timid when it came to jostling for material things in the public. Then, it was perceived an insult to motherhood. Why, have things changed so fast? Why?

In the middle of the crowd, I could recognize the head teacher of my former primary school, shouting back at one of the women who had accused her of collecting twice. I felt disappointed and at the same time sad that she has come down to this. That was a woman who ought to be living well on her pension after over thirty years of serving her country. In a sane society, the retired head teacher would not be there arguing about her share in such a gathering.  My heart bled. I walked briskly backwards to the direction of my mother’s house.

At the centre of the Village Square is situated an aged long statue of a woman in her prime. It was said that she used to dance to the sound of thunder and lightning. Her name is Mother Iya.

Folklore has it that in those days she lived underground as a spirit and showed up when thunder and lightning struck. It is also said that whenever she was in dancing posture, whoever sought favour from her would have success. Nowadays, it is said that the activities of religious fanatics have desecrated our lands and forced Mother Iya out of the community. For many years, so many sacrifices have been performed to appease Her, but, Mother Iya has refused to return. Still, every generation is advised to keep hope alive for, someday, Mother Iya will reappear and dance the dance of Blessings and Favours to the people.

I walked towards Mother Iya, determined to ask Her some questions which I believed she would have answers. She always does. Getting closer to the statue, I heard “Dada”, called in a mellowed female voice. I wondered who the caller might be. “Who is this person, a woman that could recognize me from my back despite my long absence from this land? The voice did have a close resemblance to that of my mother. “No! I was certain it could not be her’s. My mother would not be in such a gathering” I said to myself with a high degree of certainty.

“Dada, is that you?” the voice sounded again and sounded familiar to me. I turned round to see who it was that called me.

“Onyamioo, oh, nyehi Onyiam” (My mother, oh I’m back, I said.) I sprang on her in a solemn embrace. She was full of joy.

“You’ve grown into a man! Look at your moustache?” She said and hugged me.

“I’ve missed you so much” I told her.

“Tah! If you truly missed me, you wouldn’t have stayed so long before you pay me a visit…” she said, and was sombre. I felt she missed me just like I missed her. 

“I’m sorry mother; you know how busy we are at school. I hardly have time for myself…” I explained. She became cheerful. She gazed at me for a couple of minutes, studying me so as to be sure that ‘she is with whom she thought she is with; that is 'Dada'!

“What’s that you are holding?” I asked, looking at the polythene bag that her right hand was carrying.

“Oh! You mean this? It’s my share….” She said dismissively.

“What share?”

“My share of the National cake; so they said….” She smiled and her beautiful gum glittered. She looked younger than she was when I saw her last time. 

“What’s in the bag? And from who?” I wanted to know more.

“Rice and salt, from these party people” she answered shyly.

I frowned and felt a bit heartbroken. Mother knows how much I detest seeing people collecting gifts from politicians. It is like the people are being bribed.

“Do you really have to collect it?” I asked.

“I did that because they told us it is for everybody. Moreover, if I refuse it, other people will see me as an oddity and might think something is wrong with me!” She lamented.
“How many cups of rice are there?’’

“Five cups of rice plus a sachet of Dangote salt….” She revealed. “I’m sorry son….” She added. 

“You don’t have to appologize to me, mother. You only did what a lot of women in the village did. Look at the crowd! But next time, always search your conscience…” I said and then added: “Do you really want to vote for the man who brought these gifts?”

Nigerian politicians always have their blatant ways of influencing the hearts of even the most complicated Nigerian. But what hurts me most is that Nigerian politicians think that individual handouts of salt and garri can compensate for unfulfilled promises on good roads, unbroken supply of electricity and water and provision of good health Care system; and education available and accessible to all. The Nigerian politicians don’t think highly of the electorates, that’s why they offer them ‘pieces of fish’ instead of showing them how to fish for themselves, as a Chinese proverb says.

Comrade Muhammed Adoke is a social commentator and activist who schools at University of Abuja. He is the author of the novel, 'MY JOURNEY TO MOTHER IYA'. He's also a Media Assistant at Northern Nigeria Initiative For Peace, Unity and Development (Northernnipudev). 
Email: muhammedjamiuadoke@gmail.com 
Phone: +234-706-681-7091

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