Russia’s president has sent condolences after a Russian air strike mistakenly killed three Turkish soldiers, north of Syria.
The soldiers were supporting Syrian rebels to recapture the city of al-Bab from so-called Islamic State as part of an offensive to push Islamic State and Kurdish fighters away from Turkey’s southern border.
According to Turkish military, a Russian aircraft attacked a building where some of the soldiers had been deployed.
It had been planning to hit I.S targets but “by accident three of their soldiers were martyred when a building was bombed where their units were”
Russia and Turkey back opposing sides in the Syrian war and have been jointly targeting Islamic State in air strikes recently.
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has forwarded the names of nine eligible applicants to the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, Judicial Service Commission, Walter Samuel Onnoghen, for appointment as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
This followed a rigorous process of shortlisting done by a select committee chaired by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmoud, with eight other eminent lawyers as members.
Applicants shortlisted by the NBA for appointment as Justices of the Supreme Court are the following:
(1) Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN Year of Call: 1978 State: Anambra
(2) Anthony Ikemefuna Idigbe, SAN Year of Call: 1983 State: Delta
(3) Yunus Ustas Usman, SAN Year of Call: 1983 State: Kogi
(4) Babatunde Fagbohunlu, SAN Year of Call: 1988 State: Ondo
(5) Miannayaaja Essien, SAN Year of Call: 1985 State: Rivers
(6) Awa Uma Kalu, SAN Year of Call: 1978 State: Abia
(7) Professor Awalu Hamish Yadudu Year of Call: 1979 State: Kano
(8) Tajudeen Oladoja Year of Call: 1985 State: Kwara
(9) Ayuba Giwa Year of Call: 1983 State: Edo
The above mentioned applicants were shortlisted from a total of 89 Expressions of Interest that were scrutinized.
It would be recalled that the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, had earlier forwarded a request to the President of NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN “to nominate suitable candidate for consideration as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
Kaduna state’s Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Muhammad Abdullahi, says in spite of the present economic challenges in the country, the state’s economy is not in recession.
Addressing journalists about the economic status of the state and the activities of the Ministry, Abdullahi said the present administration received meagre federal allocation compared to what past state governments collected, but was able to reasonably execute several capital projects.
He, however, raised the alarm that crisis in southern Kaduna has not allowed contractors to continue work on projects in the area.
With tears, he explained, “Initially when the contractors complained to me that they cannot move to site because of insecurity in southern Kaduna, I threatened them that I will revoke the contracts if they fail to deliver within certain periods, but I later understood with them when I saw the reality of killings on ground.
“But it is unfortunate that contractors cannot continue work in the area because when you see some dilapidated schools, you will not believe that they are for human beings, you will weep. And now contractors cannot move to site to work on such schools.”
He, however, noted that with several capital projects currently ongoing in the state, the economic status of the state has immensely and positively improved for the betterment of the people.
“When we talk of recession, it does not mean that it is all aspects of the economy that is in recession, while some areas are experiencing decline, others are enjoying increase.
“For example, agricultural production declined to 9% over the last two years, but it has been improving since last year.
“Constructions of roads and other capital infrastructures are ongoing, and this has created jobs for labourers, food vendors, masons, block cement moulders etc. This, of course, has opened up the economy of the State.
“In 2016, the state raised N18 billion internally Generated Revenue (IGR), and for the 2017, we have projected N54 billion IGR, and we hope to get it from ground rent and other sources within the State.
“We were able to generate the N18 billion last year because we were able to block all the loopholes that people used to steal government money.
“Past government was after big money before they could carry out capital projects, but same government was spending huge amount of money to run government.
“Anybody that was born in Kaduna cannot be proud of the past administrations because the previous governments messed up the state.
“For example, in 2012, the state government collected N68 billion federal allocation, and executed only N15 billion capital projects, and expended N52 billion, running itself.
“We may not do public prosecution of those who mismanaged state’s public funds because we don’t want distraction. They may be asked to make refund secretly.
“But this present government collected about N36 billion in 2016, and expended N58 billion on capital projects, meaning it cares for the people than itself, and even in 2015, we spent more on capital projects than on current expenditures.
“It is all about prudent management of meagre resources at our disposal. Despite lower federal allocation we got we were able to work with it, and this shows you how efficient this government is.
“We did not take external loan, but we intend to do so in the nearest future to open up more of the capital projects coming up this year. We are already talking with the State House of Assembly on this.”
The Nigerian Army says it has apprehended the two soldiers who were caught on camera assaulting a physically challenged man in Nigeria’s southeast.
The video clip released by eyewitnesses online showed the soldiers beating the physically challenged man allegedly for wearing a camouflage shirt.
In a statement signed by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, the Army confirmed that the incident indeed took place on Tuesday February 7, 2017, at Onitsha, Anambra State.
“In line with our zero tolerance for acts of indiscipline and unprofessional conducts especially in relation to violation of human rights, we wish to further state that the soldiers involved have since been identified and apprehended.
“They have also been charged for assault by their Commanding Officer.
“Similarly, troops have been warned to desist from such acts that infringe on human rights and cast serious aspersions on the good image of the Nigerian Army.
“The public should please regard this ugly incident as an isolated case which is not true reflection of the Nigerian Army,” the statement reads.
Despite back-to-back Premier League defeats Arsene Wenger insists his Arsenal side are still in the Premier League title race.
The Gunners are 12 points behind leaders Chelsea with 14 matches to play but Wenger insists his fourth-placed team are not yet out of the running.
“It’s never over – we cannot behave like that,” Wenger told Arsenal.com. “Even if you think it is, I don’t. We cannot even think like that.
“We look at the teams around us and we’re all in a pack that is very tight, where the fight for every position will be massive like it has always been in the Premier League, maybe even more this season than ever before.
“The way we respond to our disappointing result last Saturday is vital. If it is over for us, it’s over for everybody else. We are all together in a pack there, so first we have to focus on staying at the top, and then if we can reduce the distance between us and Chelsea after, you never know.
“They have an advantage where they aren’t playing in Europe. They have no midweek games, so of course they are in a very strong position.”
Arsenal next play a revitalised Hull City side fresh from a 2-0 victory over Liverpool, at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Wenger is not underrating The Tigers taking close look at their revival under new manager Marco Silva.
“Not really because I felt they played well since the start of the season but they had not always the results,” he said.
“The Premier League is difficult for everybody – they were a bit unlucky sometimes so they are a tough opposition for us.
“Every game is difficult, especially at the Emirates. We have to prepare well to face a Hull team with more confidence than when we played them, so we have to prepare well.
“We need to focus on what we do well and the quality of our game. As well these players have been great players [before] last Tuesday, they are still great players one week later. You are not a different player. You have to have common sense a little bit.”
The Police have condemned reports in the media that it has ordered the closure of the Ondo State House of Assembly complex.
A statement from the Force Headquarters, signed by the Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, described the report as misleading and malicious.
The statement reads: “The attention of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to a report on page 40 of the Nation Newspaper of 7th February, 2017 credited to one Damisi Ojo captioned “IG Orders Closure of Ondo Assembly”
“The report was misleading, malicious and capable of misinforming members of the public on the statutory roles of the Nigeria Police Force to restore law and order, and guarantee the protection of lives and property throughout the country.
“The story is absolutely a shadowy imagination of the writer and should be disregarded.
“It is pertinent to state that there was no time that the Inspector General of Police ordered the closure of Ondo State House of Assembly as alleged by the writer.
“It is suffice to state that on the 30th January, 2017, there was a report of pandemonium, confusion and disorder in the Ondo State House of Assembly as a result of fracas between two (2) factions who are honourable members of the Assembly over purported change of leadership of the Ondo State House of Assembly.
“Police personnel from Ondo State Police Command were promptly deployed by the Commissioner of Police Ondo State to restore normalcy and prevent total breakdown of law and order in the Ondo State House of Assembly and the attendant anarchy and chaos that may occur in Akure town and other parts of the State.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is imperative to remind the writer and members of the public who might have read the story that, Part II S.4 of Police Act and Regulations among other things states that: ‘The Police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property…’
“Therefore, the deployment of Police personnel to restore normalcy and prevent further breakdown of law and order in Ondo State House of Assembly was in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities.
“The Commissioner of Police, Ondo State is in charge of all operations of the Police in the State and does not need to wait for the order of the Inspector General of Police before taking appropriate action in ensuring law and order and protection of life and property.
“The Police personnel deployed at the House of Assembly complex in Ondo State are to maintain law and order and not to close down the Assembly. They are under instructions to be civil, firm and strict in the discharge of their duties.
“To this end, the Nigeria Police Force wishes to assure the media of its support and cooperation to ensure crime free society and credible reportage. The print media are implored not to allow the pages of their esteemed newspapers to be used by mischievous persons to publish story that are capable of causing disaffections.
“The Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris will not be distracted or deterred from carrying out his statutory responsibilities for the benefit of good people of Ondo State and all Nigerians.”
The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs has begun the screening of 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This comes at a time when officials from government ministries, departments and agencies have also been visiting the parliament for meetings and budget defence.
The chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Monsurat Sumonu, said that the lawmakers would ensure that they properly screen the nominees to make sure that the best represent Nigeria in foreign missions.
Fielding questions from lawmakers, the nominee representing Zamfara state, Garba Muhammed, advocated a reform in the country’s foreign policy.
President Buhari on January 12 resubmitted a list of 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees to the Senate for confirmation.
Also, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service was at the Senate on Tuesday to defend his agency’s 2017 budget.
But lawmakers raised several concerns in the Immigration budget.
A non-government organisation called Budgit has prepared a document for the National Assembly outlining 590 suspicious and frivolous line items in the 2017 budget.
The National Assembly committees are expected to scrutinize the allocations in the budget to ensure transparency in the appropriation of scarce funds to government agencies.
The Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr Austin Tam-George in a statement described the allegations of the Police as “shameful, defamatory and reckless in the extreme”.
He expressed belief that “the police panel is part of a bitter, politically-driven smear campaign launched by the Federal Government against Governor Nyesom Wike, and the people of Rivers State”.
In another statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, the government challenged the Police to provide proof that the accused officials had been in possession of the large sum of money displayed before they were paraded.
The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to a press conference addressed by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Investigative Panel on Rivers Rerun wherein the panel claimed that the Rivers State Government spent N360million to ensure that the rerun legislative elections of December 10, 2016 were rigged in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP).
“The statement is patently false, politically motivated and cooked by the Nigerian Police to justify the violence they visited on the people of Rivers State during the rerun.
“This Inspector General of Police and his team are neck deep crime. This statement credited to the Police High Command is aimed at diverting attention from its loss of credibility, after its attempt to assassinate Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike failed woefully.
“The Press Conference addressed by the IGP Investigative Panel headed by Mr Damian Okoro and the IGP Ibrahim Idris is yet another fictional account by a Police Force that has lost its moral base as it is intent on reinventing itself through falsehood.
“The Press Conference by the Police High Command is a hasty desperate attempt to circumvent the judicial process as Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has already challenged the legality of the IGP Investigative Panel at the Federal High Court.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, did not spend N360million to rig the Rerun legislative elections of December 10, 2016.
“The people of Rivers State overwhelmingly voted the PDP across the state because of the outstanding performance of Governor Wike since May 29, 2015.
“The drama at the Press Conference convened by the IGP Investigative Panel and the IGP reveals the script being acted by the Police High Command, which is now obviously an arm of the Ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Damian Okoro claimed that three INEC Officials who allegedly met with Governor Wike would be interviewed by journalists at the event. The IGP hatchet man after his false press statement refused to allow the promised interview to take place because he knew that the truth would be revealed.
“The Nigerian Police played an inglorious role during the December 10, 2016, helping the All Progressives Congress (APC) to rig elections in the few constituencies were they were declared winner.
“Video evidence in the public domain proved that the police killed, maimed, snatched result sheets and ballot boxes as they assisted the APC all through the ill-fated rerun elections.
“On December 12, 2016, the Rivers SARS Commander, Mr Akin Fakorede was caught on camera manhandling electoral officials as he sought to rig the Rivers East Senatorial District in favour of the APC at the Rivers East Senatorial District Collation Center.
“Prior to the rerun legislative elections, the Rivers State APC fake INEC result sheets printing syndicate was busted and the lead printer, Atonyesia Peterside arrested.
“The Nigerian Police has since swept the matter under the carpet, even though majority of the fake result sheets were used on December 10, 2016 by APC and pliant INEC Officials under police protection.
“Even in concocting falsehood, the Police High Command failed to display intelligence.
“A simple poser to the Police High Command: Where did the so-called electoral officials save the monies that they displayed before journalists two months after they allegedly received bribe? How come no funds where spent by the said officials under the present circumstances?
“This entire drama is aimed at helping the Rivers APC at the Election Tribunal as the Police High Command did during the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal at Abuja.
“Nigerians are not deceived by the Security Arm of the APC. The Police High Command as presently constituted will not escape the long arm of the law as they are complicit in the violence unleashed on Rivers people during the rerun legislative elections.
“Countless false press conferences and false press statements will not improve the damaged image of the Nigerian Police in relation to their ignoble role during the rerun legislative elections of December 10, 2016.
“A final poser to the Police High Command: Why did the Police refuse to tell the world about the persons who killed DSP Alkali?”