Review: Debating Lists, Losing Winnie, Processing A Bloody Robbery And More

Oluchi Ibrahim-Anikoh  
Updated April 9, 2018

 

April 1-7 In Review

It was another week of continued controversy following the Federal Government’s release of alleged looters’ list.

Of course, the list did not go down well with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the first version contained only names of top members of the party.

The back and forth over the list dominated the week along with the outrageous robbery in Kwara, giving way momentarily for the world to mourn South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement heroine, Winnie Mandela, and who died at 81.

Sunday, April 1

The week started on a celebratory note. It was Easter Sunday and Christians in Nigeria joined others around the world to mark the day.

But the controversy over the alleged list of looters continued to rage with the Federal Government releasing more names of people who allegedly looted the nation’s treasury.

This is despite the fact that the initial list which had six names had been criticised and attracted a lawsuit from the PDP Chairman whose name was on it.

Alleged Looters’ List: Secondus Demands Apology, N1.5bn Damages

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who released both lists,  waved off the criticism that followed the first list due to its length and for containing only members of the opposition party, inisting it was just a teaser.

“At the press conference where the (first) list was released, I did say it was a tip of the iceberg,” he said.

“Apparently, this does not mean anything to people whose style is to comment on issues they barely understand, or just to shoot down anything coming from the government.”

 

Accusations of Rigging 

The alleged looters’ list may have dominated the news in Nigeria, but, globally, there was the Facebook data breach by the United Kingdom-based firm Cambridge Analytica. It was a storm that hit Facebook stocks, piqued the interest of the UK government and US congress.

The company linked to the Donald Trump’s campaign had used stolen private date to influence the US election in 2016.

Nigeria was soon in the mix.

An ex-employee of the firm, Christopher Wylie, alleged that the firm employed hackers to dig ‘dirty’  information about President Muhammadu Buhari who was a candidate of the then opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

Wylie, who served as a whistle-blower alleged that a Nigerian billionaire and supporter of the then President Goodluck Jonathan paid £2million to Cambridge Analytica for its services which include hacking into the medical records of Buhari.

Of course, the Federal Government of Nigeria commenced an investigation into the allegations.

A source from the Presidency told journalists on Sunday that the Federal Government has set up an in-house committee to investigate if Cambridge Analytica infringed or broke laws of Nigeria.

 

Anti-Apartheid Movement Heroine Goes Home

Winnie Mandela, heroine of the anti-apartheid movement and ex-wife of South African anti-apartheid fighter and former president Nelson Mandela, died on Monday, April 2, at the age of 81.

She died in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness, spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement.

Her death made headlines across the world with her life and contributions to the anti-apartheid movement celebrated.

 

Obasanjo Gives A Damning Verdict

Also on Monday, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo again criticised the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

As far as the former President was concerned, the Federal Government had failed.

The former president gave the verdict when he received members of the New Nigeria group at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Obasanjo first turned against the Buhari administration on January 23, 2018, when he issued a statement criticising President Buhari’s performance and warning him against seeking re-election.

Presidency Fires Back

Of course, the Presidency did not accept the verdict. Speical Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, spoke in defence of his boss in a phone interview with Channels hours after.

Apart from defending the government, the Presidency did not want to join issues with the former president.

According to Mr Adesina, the statement issued by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, in response to the earlier criticism by former President Obasanjo had already addressed the issues raised.

 

Senator Melaye gets an ultimatum

On Tuesday, Senator Dino Melaye and the Nigeria Police Force were among the top stories with the Police giving the Senator an ultimatum to appear in court.

Since March 19 when the police accused Senator Melaye of arming thugs in Kogi State – a claim the Senator has denied – there has been a bit of back and forth between both parties.

The police, after accusing the Senator of ignoring invitations and a court summon, gave him an ultimatum to appear in court on May 10, 2018, on a case of conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms already filed before a Federal High Court in Lokoja, Kogi State.

 

Another Lawmaker Dies

Wednesday arrived with sad news. News that threw Nigerian lawmakers into mourning. Another lawmaker, Senator Bukar Mustapha, representing Katsina North, had died.

 

The news of his death came two weeks after the Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Umar Jibril, died. Jibril who representing Lokoja/Kogi Federal constituency in the House of Representatives died at the age of 58.

Three weeks ago, the Senate had mourned the death of another Senator Ali Wakili, who represented Bauchi South Senatorial District.

The Controversial $1bn ‘Approval’

The President’s approval of $1bn for the purchase of military equipment was one of the week’s controversies.

The President gave the approval during a meeting with the Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan-Ali (retd), and the service chiefs at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The $1bn in question had generated controversy last year when state governors gave the Federal Government approval to withdraw it from  Excess Crude Account to fight the insurgency in the country.

News that the President had given approval for the amount to be withdrawn and utilised provided ignited another war of words between the Federal Government and the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party.

Analysts were also divided over whether the President could authorise such withdrawal without the approval of the National Assembly.

Should the amount be released to the military, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, promised it will be spent judiciously.

Bottom line. The last has not been heard of the matter.

A brutal robbery

On Thursday, 30 gunmen stormed Offa town, the headquarters of Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State and carried out one of the deadliest bank robberies in the country.

In all, the robbers hit five banks. By the time they left, parts of the banks were in ruins and at least 30 people were dead.

Among the dead were nine police officers.

The deadly robbery was widely condemned; with President Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki and others decrying the loss of lives and destruction.

Following the attack, the Inspector General of Police, (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, redeployed three Police Mobile Force Units, a police investigation team, Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) with ten crew members and Anti-Robbery equipment to the state.

The Police have also arrested several suspects in connection with the robbery.

On Sunday, the Kwara State Government announced a reward of N5m for anyone with useful information about the whereabouts of the robbers.

On the same day, the Minister of Information and Culture visited Offa and vowed that those behind the robbery won’t go unpunished.