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Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Mr. Joseph Akande, Monday told the House of Representative ad-hoc committee that the commission was blackmailed into reabsorbing the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pensions Reforms (PTFPR), Abdulrasheed Maina. In his shocking revelations Akande said that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, virtually blackmailed the Service into re-absorbing Maina, who eloped from the country after being declared wanted over allegations of multi-billion naira pensions fraud. Mr. Akande said the commission’s refusal to yield to Malami’s memo resorted to blackmail as the AGF threatened that as the number one law officer of the country, the commission could not turn down his directive. Mrs. Winifred Eta-Oyo, Head of Service of the Federation, also told the committee which is investigating the disappearance, sudden reappearance and reinstatement of Maina that she only learnt of Maina’s reinstatement and promotion through the media as there was no way she would have approved any request to that effect. Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Eta said categorically that she never acted on the letter requesting the reinstatement of Maina which emanated from the Attorney General’s office based on a request from the Ministry of Interior. Present at the hearing are Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau; Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Valentine Tochukwu, representing the Inspector General; and Mohammed Sani Kado, counsel to Maina. The committee, chaired by Aliyu Madaki (APC, Kano), is still sitting as at press time.

Good Christians should not just follow the commandments, but must also actively help the poor, Pope Francis says in a homily. “[The poor] are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our passport to paradise. For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them,” the pope said. Francis is celebrating the World Day of the Poor, a new Catholic festivity for which some 6,000 to 7,000 poor people, mostly from Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Poland, have been invited. The Pontiff warned that is is “sad” when Christians “do no more than keep to the rules and follow the commandments, like employees” of the Lord, and do not actively engage in charity. “All too often, we have the idea that we haven't done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. […] But to do no wrong is not enough,” he adds. Pope Francis is spending Sunday with thousands of poor people from all over Europe, leading a special Mass in St Peter's Basilica and later sharing lunch with them. At the 10 a.m. (09:00 GMT) service, Francis is being assisted by 12 migrants, poor or homeless people, and one of the readings is to be delivered by a Syrian refugee. The Vatican said after Mass, about 1,500 poor people were due to have lunch with the pope inside Vatican walls, while the others were to be given food by volunteers at several locations around Rome. Francis, who calls himself “a street priest,” said days after his election to the papacy in 2013, that he wanted to lead “a poor church, for the poor.” On Thursday, the day he visited a field hospital for the poor near St Peter's, he tweeted: “Poverty is not an accident. It has causes that must be recognised and removed for the good of so many of our brothers and sisters.”

International evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke has arrived Lagos for the Farewell Gospel Crusade which kicks off on Wednesday. The German evangelist addressed a news conference at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island on Monday and promised a mighty revival and outpouring of God power. Bonnke, 77, said he was glad to be back in Nigeria for his last crusade in Africa, describing Nigeria as his favourite nation. He said he had no regrets for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in Africa for 50 years now. The man of God said Nigeria was about to witness a mighty outpouring of the move of God on Wednesday when the crusade kicks off. “God’s words will be preached, miracles will be full and the Holy Spirit will come down. The ripple effects of this crusade will be felt all over the world. “No man has invented water but no one can live without water. We can’t live without the gospel, the gospel is eternal and can never be invalid. The gospel is true today Because it was true at the beginning,” Bonnke said. Bonnke added that he chose Nigeria because of its huge population, saying that he could smell harvest of souls beginning from Wednesday. Chairman, Central Working Committee of the Bonnke Farewell Crusade, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola said the nation was glad that Bonnke chose Nigeria for his last crusade in Africa. “We believe that if there is any darkness still remaining in Africa, after this crusade, such darkness will vanish. Bonnke arrived on Sunday and we can feel the mighty presence of God in this land. We believe that millions of people will receive Christ,” he said. The crusade kicks off on Wednesday behind Sparklight Estate, opposite OPIC, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and end on Sunday.

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