TUKUR Buratai, chief of army staff, on Monday, stated that the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, did not declare the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB a terrorist organization in the country. The Army Chief made the denial in Abakaliki during the official launch of Operation Python Dance II, he argued that what the Defence Headquarters did was a pronouncement on IPOB added that the statement of the military gave room for the right steps to be taken on the matter. According to Buratai, the action of the Federal government concerning IPOB was right and that the military did not over step its bound towards the protection of lives and properties in the country. “You have to get it very clear. First of all, what the Defence Headquarters did was to make pronouncement. It wasn’t a declaration per se. But this has given room for the right step to be taken. I think the government is doing the right thing. “It is not that we are overstepping our bounds. We are still within the limits. And I ensure you that what the military said was to set the ball rolling and to bring the awareness to the public that this is what this organization is all about. I’m happy that the government has done the right thing right now. The Chief of Army staff, General Tukur Buratai further assured the people of the Southeast that the Army will abide by the rule of law and rules of engagement in carrying out the Exercise Egwu Eke II which kicked off on Saturday in the region. Also in a courtesy to Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, the Chief of Army Staff noted that the exercise was targeted at improving the security situation of the zone which according to him, was very strategic to the security of the country. According to him the exercise will help to bring about the much needed peace and security and also be used to train the Military in basic internal security. “They army have taken into cognizance the security of the people in deployment of it’s personnel for the operation”. He said the army in carrying out the operation will liaise and work with other security agencies in the region. “The army is very sensitive to the cultural norms of the people and will abide by all the rules of engagement and code of conduct that have been laid down which is quite in tandem with the Constitution”. According to him, some of the activities of the exercise will include Patrols, indoor battle exercises, Civil-Military cooperation activities like medical outreach, sanitation, donation of books to schools etc. He therefore appealed for understanding.View items...
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senate Caucus on Wednesday, met with the party’s, minority leaders of State Assemblies, assuring that the party was stronger and set to dislodge the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), from power in 2019. Senate Minority Leader, Sen. made this known while briefing newsmen shortly after the meeting, which held behind closed door at the National Assembly Complex. He said that a teeming number of stalwarts of other political parties “were on their way to the main opposition party in droves. “These are the Minority Leaders of the PDP in different State Houses of Assembly, who are in Abuja to interact with the Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, and the Minority leadership of the Senate. “We congratulated ourselves that we stood firm and at the end. God gave us victory at the Supreme Court and the party is now waxing stronger. “We have reviewed the state of the party and re-evaluated the situation, state by state, and we found out that the party is stronger than it was. “And as I speak, stalwarts and thousands of members of other political parties, starting from APC, all the way down to APGA, are on their way to the PDP. “We also want to urge the leadership of the party at the national level to open the door wide open between now and the next convention to receive them”. Akpabio said the caucus also discussed the guideline for the forthcoming national convention of the PDP in order to make meaningful contributions to the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC). Speaking on behalf of the PDP Forum of the State Assemblies, Minority Leader of the Imo House of Assembly, Hon. Ken Agbim, assured of total support and mobilisation at the grassroots to give the party victory in 2019.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has once again rejected overtures from leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to return to the party and help it win power in 2019. Obasanjo told the PDP National Caretaker chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and others who visited him in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Tuesday that he was done with partisan politics. Addressing journalists shortly after the meeting with the PDP leaders, at his presidential library, Obasanjo said: ”I have also told the party chairman that before, before I was in PDP, not now. God forbid say when a dog vomit he will go back to his vomit. I’ve told him no partisan politics for me again but Nigeria is my passion until death do us part. ”And anything that concerns Nigeria, the good of Nigeria, will always have my involvement.” The former president added that “for democracy to thrive and continue to be strong, we need a strong party in government and strong opposition party. It has to be that way, otherwise the strong party in government will get away with impunity and that is not good enough.” He added on a lighter mood: “The chairman has come to greet me and I don greet am, so, the chairman can go home and you ladies and gentlemen of the press can go home.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday expressed concern on the growing complaints and agitations by workers in states over unpaid salaries and allowances, in spite of interventions by the Federal Government. The President made his feelings known when he received a group of governors led by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Abdul’Aziz Yari, at the State House, Abuja. The Federal government had on May 4 released details of the second tranche of Paris Club refund to States totalling N243.795 billion. A breakdown of the payment, showed that Abia got N5.72 billion; Adamawa, N6.11 billion; Akwa Ibom, N10 billion; Anambra, N6.12 billion; Bauchi, N6.88 billion; Bayelsa, N10 billion; Benue, N6.85 billion; and Borno N7.34 billion. Cross River got N6.08 billion, Delta, N10 billion; Ebonyi, N4.51 billion; Edo, N6.09 billion; Ekiti, N4.77 billion; Enugu, N5.36 billion; Gombe, N4.47 billion; Imo, N7 billion; Jigawa, N7.11 billion; and Kaduna, N7.72 billion. Kano got N10 billion, Katsina, N8.2 billion; Kebbi, N5.98 billion; Kogi, N6.03 billion; Kwara, N5.12 billion; Lagos, N8.37 billion; Nasarawa, N4.55 billion; Niger, N7.2 billion; and Ogun, N5.7 billion. The others were Ondo, N7 billion; Osun, N6.3 billion; Oyo, N7.9 billion; Plateau, N5.64 billion; Rivers, N10 billion; Sokoto, N6.44 billion; Taraba, N5.61 billion; Yobe, N5.41 billion; Zamfara, N5.44 billion; and the Federal Capital Territory, N684 million. The refund is in respect of over-deductions on Paris Club, London Club Loans and Multilateral debts between 1995 and 2002. However, President Buhari said the plight of workers in the states needed urgent attention as many could barely survive. “How can anyone go to bed and sleep soundly when workers have not been paid their salaries for months. “I actually wonder how the workers feed their families, pay their rents and even pay school fees for their children,’’ he said. The President told the governors that two out of the three-pronged focus of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to secure the country and fight corruption had received some commendable reviews by the people. He further noted that the challenge in payment of salaries in states had taken a toll on the people. President Buhari said the Federal Government and state executives would need to work closely together to ameliorate the situation of workers across the country. He added, “God has been merciful in hearing the prayers of his servants so the rainy season has been good, you can ask the Kebbi State Governor on this, and our enormous food importation bill has gone down.’’ The President said he had instructed all government agencies to comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in order to ensure more transparency and prudence in accounting for the revenues of the government and the sharing of entitlements with states. In his remark, the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum said the various interventions by the Federal Government, which included the bailouts, were judiciously utilized by the states. He stressed that the governors inherited backlog of unpaid salaries and huge debts portfolios on assumption of office. “We are concerned with the situation in our states, and we are trying our best to manage the resources,’’ he said. Yari noted that the bailout funds, and part of the fallout from the London-Paris Club that had been received by the states, were properly expended to alleviate the plight of workers, but more had to be done. The NGF chairman also commended the efforts of the President in improving the economy. He assured that the states would continue working with the Federal Government to improve the livelihood of workers and all Nigerians. Governors of Ondo, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kwara, Akwa Ibom and the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State among those who visited the President.
A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba has said that Nigeria has been having accidental leaders since the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999. Na’Abba who served as Speaker of lower legislative chamber from 1999 to 2003, called on more Nigerians to participate in politics with a view to opening up the political space. He stated this in Abuja at the 2016/2017 Matriculation and Fellowship Endowment Ceremony of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS)/University of Benin Postgraduate Programme. He expressed regret that leadership recruitment process in the country has been hijacked by a few politicians. The former Speaker advocated for what he called regular ‘tutorials’ for political leaders at all levels. “I believe that not just the Legislature, every arm of government that is serving the purpose of governance must invest in exposing democracy to the people. “It is a sad commentary on our political life that today recruitment into leadership has been subverted by a few politicians because they deny Nigerians opportunity to contest elections and achieve their aspirations through the systematic appropriation of political parties to themselves. “These politicians have stopped the growth of democracy. And it is true that unless democracy is allowed to grow, we cannot achieve the desired political growth, we cannot achieve the desired economic growth and we can also not achieve the desired social growth in our country. “That is why we are still in political, economic and social doldrums. We have been having successive accidental leaders since 1999. “It is time for us to begin to understand that the more participation Nigerians enjoy in politics, the more political development we attain. And consequently economic and social development. “We have been advocating that tutorials must be taking place on a continuous basis for stakeholders in democracy from the local governments to the states,” he said. He stressed that every stakeholder particularly party executives must distinguish the duties, functions and distinction between and among our political institutions. He added that when leaders of political parties are unaware of the differences, it is almost impossible for them to understand the kind of people that should serve at various levels. On his part, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said the National Assembly had made appreciable efforts in fulfilling its democratic obligations to Nigerians by paying particular attention to capacity building. Dogara explained that parliamentary capacity development was important to ensure balance of power among the branches of a democratic system. He commended NILS/UNIBEN for the programmes designed to build capacity of legislative staff. He said that the knowledge imparted to participants would build a pool of competent staff and members to enhance international best practices in the discharge of their duties. On her part, the Director General NILS, Prof. Ladi Hamalai, congratulated the students and urged them to take their studies seriously. Over 85 students matriculated in Masters in Legislative Drafting, Masters in Parliamentary Administration as well as Masters in Legislative Students. Besides Na’Abba, four former Presiding Officers of the National Assembly received NILS Award of Fellowship. They include: former Senate President from 1979 to 1983, Sen. Joseph Wayas; Dr. Ken Nnamani (2005 to 2007); Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari (2003 to 2007) and current Governor of Katsina State and former Deputy Senate President Sen. Ibrahim Mantu (2001 to 2007).
Police in Britain are ramping up efforts to investigate cases of modern slavery, yet the true scale of the crime is hugely underestimated. UK’s anti-slavery chief, Kevin Hyland, appointed in 2014 as part of Britain’s widely hailed Modern Slavery Act, called for greater support for slavery victims and urged businesses to do more to ensure their supply chains are free of forced labour. No fewer than 13,000 people are estimated by the government to be victims of modern slavery, from sexual exploitation to domestic servitude, but police say the figure is the tip of the iceberg. Hyland said in a statement: “I deem this (the 13,000 estimate) far too modest, with the true number in the tens of thousands. “We must continue to prevent this abhorrent abuse.” Data from the report showed police in Britain recorded 2,255 modern slavery crimes in the past financial year, an increase of 159 per cent from 870 crimes during the same period for 2015 to 2016. Hyland said he was pleased by the figures, which showed that six in 10 reported cases of potential slavery were officially investigated, up from just 28 per cent for the previous period between August 2015 and September 2016. Britain’s Modern Slavery Act has been lauded as a milestone in the anti-slavery fight for cracking down on traffickers with life sentences, forcing businesses to check their supply chains for slavery, and protecting people at risk of being enslaved. Yet the British government’s scheme for identifying and supporting victims of slavery and trafficking, the National Referral Mechanism, has several flaws, according to Hyland, who said improving the system was now his top priority. He called for a complete reform of the system, including immediate support for victims to stop re-trafficking, training for staff to improve identification of victims, and a focus on long-term care to ensure they can rebuild their lives. “The safety of victims is paramount … their protection is non-negotiable. “Policies and processes mean nothing if they do not keep the victim at the centre,” Hyland said. He said that more and more firms in Britain are publishing statements detailing how they are tackling modern slavery. The Modern Slavery Act requires businesses with a turnover of more than 36 million pounds (48 million dollars) to each year outline the actions that they have taken to combat slavery in their supply chains. Hyland also urged greater international collaboration within the anti-slavery movement to tackle the evolving, global crime. Britain in September pledged to double its aid spending on global projects tackling modern slavery to 150 million pounds. “Potential victims identified in the UK in 2016 came from 108 countries; this is precisely why it is crucial to address the crime both at source and en route,” Hyland said, referring to top source countries such as Vietnam, Nigeria and Romania. The report comes a month after the first joint effort by key anti-slavery groups to estimate the number of victims worldwide. The International Labour Organisation, rights group Walk Free Foundation and International Organisation for Migration said that at least 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016, either trapped in forced labour or forced marriages. Anti-Slavery International welcomed Hyland’s decision to put the care and protection of victims at the heart of his report. The anti-slavery international programme manager for the UK and Europe, Klara Skrivankova, told the Reuters that the organisation was disappointed by the omission of foreign domestic workers. “One area that should be improved … is the situation of overseas domestic workers, whose visa arrangements make their status dependent on their employers, and therefore making them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” she said.
Constitutional lawyer and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN has asked the Federal High Court Abuja to disqualify President Muhammadu Buhari from holding the portfolio of the Minister of Petroleum Resources. In a suit he filed against the Federal Government of Nigeria, Agbakoba is challenging the constitutional qualification of the President of Nigeria to also hold executive office as Minister of Petroleum Resources. Agbakoba submitted that on the basis of section 138 of the Constitution disqualifying the President of Nigeria from taking any paid employment or holding executive office of Minister of Petroleum Resources, the President cannot hold office as Minister of Petroleum Resources. The affidavit supporting Agbakoba’s claim states the determination of the questions in the claim are of vital national importance, in view of the governance chaos at the NNPC. Agbakoba urged the court to rule that President Buhari is not validly qualified to be Minister of Petroleum Resources and in any event the President is also disqualified to be Minister of Petroleum Resources, not having been confirmed by Senate. No date has been fixed for hearing.
It is not yet victory for former soccer star George Weah in the Liberian election as he would need to go for a run-off against incumbent vice-president Joseph Boakai. Weah ended up with 39 per cent of the votes, 11 per cent less than the 50 per cent needed to win outright. Runner-up Boakai recorded 29.1 percent out of a total of more than 1.5 million votes counted and with 95.6 percent of polling stations having reported. Boakai was more than 280,000 votes ahead of the third placed candidate, lawyer Charles Brumskine, on 9.8 percent. The final certified results from Tuesday’s poll must be announced by Oct. 25. But with less than five percent of precincts yet to be counted, it appeared mathematically impossible that the order would change. Turnout based on votes counted so far was nearly 75 percent. A total of 20 candidates competed in last week’s poll seeking to succeed Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in what would be Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power in more than 70 years. Weah and Boakai had both predicted outright victory in the first round. Supporters at Weah’s headquarters in the capital Monrovia crowded around cars listening to the results broadcast on the radio and voiced frustration as it became clear that a second round of voting was unavoidable. “We need to be calm. But we are worried that they are going to cheat us. We feel disenchanted from 2005 and 2011. People say ‘no second round’ because of the desire they have,” Weah supporter Luke Harris, 31, said. Weah, a national hero in Liberia, became the first non-European to win European soccer’s player of the year award in 1995, the same year he picked up the African and world player of the year awards. He finished runner-up to Johnson Sirleaf in a 2005 election that helped draw a line under years of civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. He was the vice-presidential candidate on a ticket with Winston Tubman, who lost to her six years later. Officials from both Weah and Boakai’s campaigns said they would accept the result. “We are disappointed that there is going to be a run off. We had anticipated that we would win in the first round. But we will accept it and go with it,” said Mohammed Ali, spokesman for Boakai’s ruling Unity Party. Even before Sunday’s results announcement, both campaigns had already begun courting other candidates, seeking their support in the run-off. Officials with ex-warlord-turned-senator Prince Johnson, who finished third in the 2011 election but had a disappointing showing this year, said he had already been contacted by both Weah and Boakai. Brumskine has denounced the vote, claiming it was plagued by fraud and called for a new election. International observers gave the poll a clean bill of health. But the vote will be re-run in two polling places in Nimba County on Tuesday due to irregularities, although that measure only concerns a few thousand votes.
Chairmanship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State capital, on Friday, annulled the election of Chief Ifeanyi Isikaku, the Chairman of Isialangwa South Local Government Area. The chairmanship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Christian Okeri, in his petition alleged that Isikaku (PDP) did not pay his tax as required by law. The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice O. O. Agbala, ruled that the petitioner proved his case beyond reasonable doubt. Agbala said Isikaku failed to provide evidence of his tax payment for three years as stipulated by law. He, therefore, nullified his election, ordered a fresh one and excluded the PDP from fielding any candidate. Isikaku said that he would appeal at a higher court and urged his supporters to remain calm and law abiding. The state chairman of APGA, Rev. Augustine Ehiemere, hailed the judgment, saying that “it has helped to restore the battered image of the judiciary in Abia.” Ehiemere, however, said that the tribunal “should have declared the petitioner the winner and ordered his immediate inauguration since it disqualified his only opponent in the election. He congratulated Okeri “for his steadfastness and resilience, even in the face of intimidation and attempts to compromise him and make him withdraw his petition.”
Mr Ularamu Ubandoma, the National Coordinator, Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) says 18 more states will benefit from 500 million dollars World Bank assisted projects. The project is under the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP3). Ubandoma said this at the unveiling of selected participants in the 18 states under the RAAMP 3 project and Pre Appraisal Mission Wrap Up Meeting with the development partners in Abuja on Friday. According to him, the selected states are able to meet the criteria set up by RAMP and the three development partners were involved in their selection. He said that 50 to 60 million dollars would be used to construct about 500 km roads in each of the 18 participating states across the country. “The whole essence of the project sponsored by the World Bank, French Development Bank and Africa Development Bank is to provide suitable road network for rural farmers to convey their farm produce to the market to avoid losses. “What we are doing here today is a meeting with new RAAMP states. New RAAMP is rural access and agricultural marketing and we have about 18 states that have been selected to participate in this new project all over the country. “In the North East, we have Borno, Bauchi and Taraba. In North Central, we have Plateau, Benue, Kogi and Kwara. In North West, we have Kano, Kastina, Sokoto and Kebbi. “In South East, we have Abia and Anambra. In South South, we have Cross River and Akwa Ibo. In South West, we have Ogun, Oyo and Ondo States. These are states that emergence from the six geo-political zones. “The new RAAMP3 will be a little different from the usual RAMP1 and 2, and we have implemented projects in seven states and these projects are almost 100 per cent conclusion. “The only difference is that we are targeting RAAMP3 in line with president Buhari’s policy on agricultural transformation. “The policy is implemented through the Green Agricultural Alternative under the leadership of the Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh. “The thinking now is zero rejection of our agricultural produce at the international markets,” he said. Ubandoma said that the third phase of this project, RAAMP3 was to improve rural access and agricultural marketing in the selected participating states, whilst enhancing sustainability of the rural and state road network. “We are going to target markets and the value chains by adding value to our agricultural produce right from production level. We will be looking at storage and processes. “We want to know how these produce can access different level of markets. We are trying to shift away from the usual market not considering the rural people. “We are now considering the rural people because they form the bulk of our production level and they are predominantly farmers living in the rural areas. “We believe if we develop the rural farmers through the provision of markets, definitely the economy will improve and we will be earning foreign exchange through exportation, ” he added. Ubandoma, however appealed to state governors to show some level of seriousness in paying their counterparts fund which is just eight per cent of the total cost of the project in their states. Mr Tesfamichael Nahusenay, the World Bank Task Team Leader said from the result of study conducted in Nigeria, 60 per cent of farm produce got wasted during transportation and lack of storage facilities. He said that World Bank hoped to add value to farmer’s income by giving them access to market after harvest, proper handling of farm produce after harvest and provide storage facilities to them. “World Bank has been providing assistance to Nigerian government for many years and we have standard for procedure in execution of any project in the country. “The Federal Government will receive the fund they lent to states. We have mechanism to process the procurement process to ensure that value for money is achieved and transparency in transaction. “At the end of the day, money intended for any project is used correctly. We do direct checking of the projects across all the states. The states bring back the money if they cannot achieve the set project. “We do field visit to ensure that the goods are delivered in appropriate time and ensure standard,” he said. Assessing the level of RAMP2 project, the Adamawa Project Coordination, Mr Abbas Adamu said about 201.4 km of roads had been completed in 13 locations under the first phase in the state. He added that about140 km was ongoing under the second phase which would be completed by December across the state. He said so far, farmers in the state had benefited from RAMP projects through easy access to market after harvest for better livelihood. The Project Coordinator however appreciated the support of the state governor on his intention to change the entire state with good and quality roads, adding that the governor did not deviate in payment of counterpart fund. Mr Gideon Akpan, the Project Coordinator, Akwa Ibom RAAMP3 said that the state decided to join in the project because of the state governor’s transformation agenda in agriculture. “Looking at the past resources we have in agriculture sector, we decided to express interest in joining the third phase of the project to bring development to our rural farmers. “Most of the challenges our farmers faced is the inability to access market after harvest due to bad road networks,’’ he said. NAN reports that RAMP is a Federal Government agency saddled with the responsibility of constructing rural roads to help farmers to access markets to avoid post harvest losses. RAMP is a co-sponsoring project of the World Bank, the French Development Agency, Africa Bank and the Federal Government.
Football icon, George Weah, is in early lead in the official provisional results of Tuesday presidential elections in Liberia. The results were released by Mr Jerome Korkoya, Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) at the commission’s headquarters in Monrovia. In all, the results of 1,232 polling units or 22.9 per cent of the total 5,390 polling units across the country were announced. Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) led other candidates in 11 out of the 15 counties that constitute Liberia in the results released so far. Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) led in one county, while veteran opposition leader, Mr Charles Brumskine of Liberty Party, beat others in two counties. Former warlord and presidential flagbearer of the National Union for Democratic Progress, Prince Johnson, defeated others in one county. While results of the remaining 4,158 polling units are being awaited, the NEC boss was quick to note that no winner has been declared yet. “It is important to point out that results published by the National Elections Commission are the only official results. “The Commission asks all other organisations to refrain from announcing anything other than the official results released. “Candidates and political parties should also be patient and await the official results and not rush to premature conclusions. “The Commission is committed to the timely release of the results, but this cannot be done at the expense of accuracy. He advised the media against reporting results that have not been verified by the commission. “This can lead to problems and expectations that cannot be met. It is important for all to be responsible at this point. This includes the media. “The National Elections Commission also calls on any person or party that has a complaint to use the established legal channels. “Our complaints process will investigate thoroughly any complaints and we ask aggrieved parties to submit evidence to support their claims. “We also call on all parties to be responsible in any allegations they make,’’ he said.