|NEWS PAPER REVIEW|
2019- I’M NOT BOTHERED ABOUT POLITICS – BUHARI
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari in London on Monday told the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, that though the country will be having elections in 2019, his primary concern was to tackle insecurity and also put the nation’s economy in a better position. President Buhari said this when he held a bilateral meeting with the British Prime Minister, at 10, Downing Street, London. He told the British Prime Minister that his administration from the onset was focused on three cardinal areas which were security, economy and fight against corruption, adding that as his opponents were interested in the forthcoming elections, his interest was to deliver on his election promises. He commended British companies like Unilever, Cadbury, and many others, “who have stood with Nigeria through thick and thin. Even when we fought a Civil War, they never left. “But like Oliver Twist, we ask for more investments. We are encouraging more British companies to come to Nigeria. We appreciate the support you have given in training and equipping our military, particularly in the war against insurgency, but we want to also continue to work with you on trade and investment.”
In her remarks, Prime Minister May said Britain would continue to work with Nigeria in the areas of training and equipping the military. She was particular about abduction of young schoolgirls by Boko Haram, noting that Britain would continue to give Nigeria needed assistance. She said the Buhari administration has “been making good progress on the economy,” and urged it to maintain the focus, despite approaching elections, and increase in political activities
POLICE SHOOT AT SHIITE PROTESTERS, ARREST 115
Scores of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria were injured on Monday in Abuja during a clash with policemen at the Maitama area of the city. The police arrested about 115 Shiite members who were protesting against the continued incarceration of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakyzaky by the Federal Government. The protesters had moved to the National Human Rights Commission when the police swooped on them and fired tear gas canisters at them to break up the protest. The Shiite members in turn, threw stones at the policemen, damaging many parked vehicles and injuring passersby and motorists. Their action infuriated the cops who responded with live bullets, some of which hit the Nigerian Communications Commission building and other offices in the vicinity. The security personnel also scalded the mob with hot water from their cannon truck. The development paralysed commercial activities in the area as everyone fled while vehicles avoided the neighbourhood. The police had last Friday cordoned off the Unity Fountain where the Shiite members usually hold their rallies. They also arrested an activist and convener, Concerned Citizens, Deji Adeyanju, who had been championing the protests for over seven weeks.
The group in a statement said the police were out to portray the movement as violent in nature adding that it would not relent on its peaceful protest until El-Zakzaky was released from detention.\
APC DISAGREES WITH YAKASSAI OVER NORTH’S RIGGING CLAIM IN 2015
The Deputy National Chairman (South) of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Mr. Segun Oni, has rejected the claim by a statesman, Tanko Yakassai, that the North in 2015 took advantage of the malfunctioning card readers to rig the elections in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. Yakassai, who is the chairman of the Northern Leaders and Stakeholders’ Assembly (NLSA), had led his group to meet with former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), at the weekend and had informed his host that the 2015 elections were rigged in the North because the card readers used by the Independent National Electoral Commission malfunctioned and had to be discarded for manual voting while those in the South worked and were used in the polls. Reacting yesterday, Oni, who is also seeking the ticket of the party to contest the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State, dismissed Yakassai’s claim as untrue, describing his position as nothing but an afterthought.
Speaking yesterday when he came to the secretariat of the APC to pick his nomination form ahead of the party’s governorship primary, Oni said Nigerians actually rejected the People’s Democratic Party government at the polls in 2015. Oni said: “I want to say that it is not true. The card reader cannot rig elections. Human beings can rig elections not card readers. I must say that when people are looking for ways to justify their inadequacies, they will look for failures; they will look for faults, so the card reader has suddenly become one. The people of Nigeria were tired of the PDP. They were stealing oil and they were selling it into individual pocket. Have you ever heard that? So, if we had a government that was reckless, a government of a president of all us, declaring that stealing is not corruption.”
PRESIDENCY: HOW SANI SIDI, 7 NEMA DIRECTORS LOOTED BILLIONS
The Presidency last night released what it called an authoritative report on how seven suspended directors of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) stole over a billion naira, $284,000 and £95,000. A Presidency official said the report indicated that the immediate past NEMA Director General, Mohammed Sani Sidi, maintained 20 different accounts in various banks despite his public servant status. He alleged that the suspended staff had hurriedly and illegally taken the matter to the House of Reps in a pre-emptive move to stonewall the ongoing investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; hoping for a cover-up. He said an authoritative report submitted to the Presidency by agencies involved in the investigations and activities of the suspended directors, revealed clear cases of abuse of office, graft and collusion on the part of the NEMA directors.
He said, “The indicted officials indeed have genuine cases to answer; actually some of the officers have made confessional statements, while others could simply not explain the money and properties already traced to them. Based on the facts contained in the report, their claim of innocence cannot be substantiated and the presumed understanding they are getting from the House of Representatives is indeed a true reflection of the current state of affairs in Nigeria, where the most corrupt often seek to cover their misdeed by pointing accusing fingers at others.” The House of Reps Committee on Emergency and Disaster Management had recently called for the immediate reinstatement of the directors, saying they were suspended without due process by the NEMA governing council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. But the Presidency official said on Monday that details of the report “revealed that the affected persons, in league with the former Director General of NEMA may have formed an alliance with certain already identified House Committee members and illegally procured and stole various papers from NEMA files in their bid to exonerate themselves and challenge their suspension, claiming they were innocent whistleblowers being victimized by the board.
$350M LOAN: NO STATE’LL ACCESS W/BANK FACILITY IF KADUNA DOES NOT GET—EL-RUFAI
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State said, yesterday that he had been told by the World Bank that no state in the country would access its loan without Kaduna State being considered by the National Assembly. The Senate, two weeks ago rejected the loan facility for Kaduna State following objections from the three senators from the state on the ground that Kaduna was already too heavily indebted. Apart from Kaduna, Abia, Ogun, and Lagos, among others, also applied for various sums from the World Bank for development purposes. Speaking at the maiden edition of Barnawa branch of Nigerian Bar Association yesterday, Governor El Rufai said the World Bank assured him that if Kaduna, which met 90 per cent requirement to access the facility, was denied by National Assembly; then no other state would be considered. The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Bala Bantex, accused the three senators from the state of playing politics with the issue of development. He said: “When we applied for the loan, some people brought politics into it; but the World Bank is saying that Kaduna State has met 90 percent of the loan requirement and, therefore, it would not give the loan to any state that applied, if Kaduna State is not given. We should separate politics from the need to develop our state as quickly as possible.
FG PROBES ALLEGED CONTRACT INFLATION, ASSET DIVERSION IN 28 MDAS
The Federal Government is currently investigating 28 of its Ministries, Departments and Agencies over allegations of contract inflation and conversion of government assets to personal use. The probe is being done by the investigative section of the whistle-blower unit. The Director, Special Projects, Ministry of Finance, Mohammed Dikwa, confirmed these in a presentation at an evaluation workshop on the whistle-blower policy and asset tracing team organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption. The purpose of the workshop was to initiate a discussion on how to improve the implementation of the policy in accordance with global best practices. In the presentation, Dikwa said that 791 investigations were being carried out by the whistle-blower unit. Giving an analysis of the 791 cases, he said the unit was investigating the payment of unapproved funds in 27 MDAs, while allegation of diversion of excess crude oil funds was being investigated in five MDAs.
He said that one agency of government was under investigation for improper reduction of financial penalties. Other investigations being conducted are non-remittance of pension and National Housing Fund deductions (102 cases completed, 35 ongoing); failure to implement projects for which funds had been provided; and embezzlement of funds meant for payment of personnel emoluments (113 cases completed, 35 ongoing). In the same vein, 87 cases of financial misappropriation are being probed, out of which 76 have been completed, while 11 cases are pending. Dikwa, who is also the Secretary Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, said, “The objectives of the whistle-blower policy is to increase exposure of financial or related crimes, support the fight against financial crimes and corruption.
FRESH HERDSMEN ATTACKS CLAIM 36 IN BENUE, NASARAWA
Gunmen suspected to be herdsmen have again killed at least 36 persons in Benue and Nasarawa states. The four persons killed in Logo Local Government Area of Benue State were police officers, while 11 others were declared missing after an ambush was laid for the policemen by the herdsmen on Sunday evening and yesterday morning. However, the Logo Local Government Council Chairman, Mr. Richard Nyajo, maintained that the casualty figure was far higher, adding that many sustained injuries in the attack. Nyajo said: “The well-armed herdsmen entangled the Police personnel on duty in the area at about 6pm and killed several of them but some managed to flee. Though I cannot confirm the total casualty figure but many were reported dead and several others sustained injuries. That is what those who managed to escape told me when I met them.” The state Police Command Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent Moses Yamu, confirmed that the policemen lost their lives in an attack that started Sunday evening and lasted till the early hours of Monday (16-Apr-18).
Meanwhile, the Benue State Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Prof. Tersoo Kpelai, has said that over 56 persons were killed by suspected herdsmen in last Thursday’s attack on Gbeji town of Tsaav ward, Tse-Akaanya and Tse-Hiityo of Lumbuv council ward of Ukum Local Government Area of the state. Kpelai, who hails from the area, made the disclosure after undertaking an on-the-spot assessment of the sacked communities. He said the figure could be far higher at the end of search for the remains of victims in the affected villages. In the Nasarawa incident, no fewer than 32 persons were killed when herdsmen launched a fresh attack on over 32 Tiv communities in the southern senatorial district of Nasarawa State. The suspected killers carried out the attacks simultaneously in Awe, Keana, Obi and Doma Local Government Areas of the state, leaving 19 others with severe gun and machete injuries.