Congress Probing U.S. Spy Agencies’ Possible Lapses On Russia

free syriaSenior U.S. lawmakers have begun probing possible intelligence lapses over Moscow’s intervention in Syria, concerned that American spy agencies were slow to grasp the scope and intention of Russia’s dramatic military offensive there, U.S. congressional sources and other officials told Reuters.

A week after Russia plunged directly into Syria’s civil war by launching a campaign of air strikes, the intelligence committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives want to examine the extent to which the spy community overlooked or misjudged critical warning signs, the sources said.

Findings of major blind spots would mark the latest of several U.S. intelligence misses in recent years, including Moscow’s surprise takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region last year and China’s rapid expansion of island-building activities in the South China Sea.

Though spy agencies have sought to ramp up intelligence gathering on Russia since the crisis over Ukraine, they continue to struggle with inadequate resources because of the emphasis on counter-terrorism in the Middle East and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, according to current and former U.S. officials.

A senior administration official, who also asked not to be identified, insisted that there were “no surprises” and that policymakers were “comfortable” with the intelligence they received in the lead-up to the Russian offensive.

Spy agencies had carefully tracked Russian President Vladimir Putin’s build-up of military assets and personnel in Syria in recent weeks, prompting White House criticism and demands for Moscow to explain itself.

But intelligence officers – and the U.S. administration they serve – were caught mostly off-guard by the speed and aggressiveness of Putin’s use of air power as well as a Russian target list that included U.S.-backed rebels, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“They saw some of this going on but didn’t appreciate the magnitude,” one of the sources told Reuters.

Russia’s sudden move to ramp up its military involvement in the Syria crisis has thrown Obama’s Middle East strategy into doubt and laid bare an erosion of U.S. influence in the region.

A shortage of reliable information and analysis could further hamper President Barack Obama’s efforts to craft a response on Syria to regain the initiative from Washington’s former Cold War foe.

PDP Considers Expulsion Of Baraje, Oyinlola And Jaja

The National Disciplinary Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party is recommending the expulsion of Abubakar Baraje, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Sam Sam Jaja from the party.

After a meeting of the committee in Abuja, the deputy chairman of the committee, Ebenezer Babatope, said that the committee had examined all the charges against the former national leaders of the party and were passing their recommendations to the national working committee of the party.

The committee said they found the trio guilty of the charges brought against them and have recommended their immediate expulsion from the party.

“We also recommended that the suspension of the north-west vice chairman, Ibrahim Kazaure, be extended by one month,” the chairman of the disciplinary committee headed by Umaru Dikko said.

I Remain PDP’s National Secretary, Oyinlola Warns

The suspended National Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, Olagunsoye Oyinlola today (Tuesday) reacted to his suspension by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Addressing journalists in Abuja, Oyinlola insisted that he remains the national secretary of the party except a law court rules otherwise.

He further explained that the NWC erred by suspending him, citing the fact that they contravened Section 57(7) of the party’s constitution.

According to him, the section states “notwithstanding any other provision relating to discipline, no executive committee at any level, except the National Executive Committee shall entertain any question of discipline as may relate or concern a member of the National Executive Committee, deputy governors or members of the national assembly…”

He further said: “I am happy to stress that by the combined effects of the judgement of the Court of Appeal and the provisions of the constitution of our party (particularly section 57), I, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola remain the National Secretary of the PDP – except and until the Supreme Court says otherwise, any other contraption from Tukur’s NWC is illegal, null and void”.

He warned that “the ruling party risk losing its powerful status if the present crisis is not resolved on time.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had suspended the quartet of Abubakar Baraje, Sam Sam Jaja, Ibrahim Kazaure and Olagunsoye Oyinlola for allegedly engaging in anti-party activities.

The suspended members were subsequently asked to report to the party’s disciplinary committee.

They are reported to be the main pillars behind the G-7 governors in the New PDP.



Saraki Condemns Suspension Of Baraje, Oyinlola, Others

Former Kwara state governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, has described the sack by the PDP as a setback to reconciliatory moves to restore peace in the factionalized party.

At a press conference in the National Assembly, Senator Saraki said the move by the party is a means of circumventing the ruling of the court.

The Appeal Court ruling last Friday reinstated Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the party’s National Secretary.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, added that the court ruling that brought Oyinlola back to the party as national secretary was an opportunity for reconciliation in the party.

He noted that the opportunity of reconciliation offered by the court ruling on Oyinlola had been lost through the action of the party.

He said, “We woke up to read in the papers today that some key members of a faction in the PDP had been suspended. PDP as a ruling party, 14 years of democracy, I believe it’s unfortunate.

“It is a means of circumventing the ruling of the court. We should not take the issue of the rule of law with levity. Since a court had ruled that Oyinlola should resume as Secretary of the party, PDP should comply with the judgment of the court.

“These are some of the issues that some of us are angry about. The PDP will be there, long after Oyinlola, long after everybody. We should protect the institution.

“We can’t win always. We would win some, we would lose some. By doing this now, how are we going to help the reconciliation? It will surely not help reconciliation. Some of us thought it was a golden opportunity to begin to reconcile.

“I think the party should review its action and give peace a chance because to suspend key members of a faction and still expect the aggrieved governors to be sympathetic to the cause of the party and be attending their meetings will be difficult and would not help the party.

“Apart from the issue of reconciliation, this cannot help our democracy. The party is an institution that we are all holding in trust. We must all protect that institution not by being emotional or by expressing sentiments.

“The process sometimes could work in your favour, sometimes it may not. The executive there now will not be there forever. It is very sad because some of us have continued to fight on how we can bring peace to the party. All these things being done behind the scene, we should give peace a chance.”

Ogun PDP Explains Reason For Suspension

Meanwhile, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, has adduced reasons why the former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, cannot return as the National Secretary of the party.

The party says besides filing a motion for stay of execution of the judgment of the Court of Appeal and a Notice of Appeal at the Supreme Court, the judgment reinstating Prince Oyinlola has been overtaken by events.

According to the Ogun PDP, “It would be tantamount to conferring legality on illegality if Oyinlola is returned to the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-led National Working Committee (NWC) which he (Oyinlola) had voluntarily renounced. They say it is like mixing apples and oranges and have vowed to resist any attempt to return him to the party through the back door.


Dont Celebrate Yet, Baraje Tells Tukur’s PDP

The Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje faction of the PDP has advised that Bamanga Tukur and his loyalists should not celebrate yet as any such celebration would be short-lived as they are “more than ever determined to show him the way out of the exalted position he is illegally occupying”.

In an earlier press release, they reiterated “we will see this issue to a logical conclusion, including going to the Supreme Court, if necessary, to ensure that a non-member of our party does not continue to lord it over us as our National Chairman”.

They insist that their faction has every right to continue using the PDP flag, symbol and colours, as they are bonafide members of the party and thus entitled to use them.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory had earlier affirmed the election of Bamanga Tukur as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party. The presiding judge, Justice Evoh Chukwu also ordered the Baraje faction of the PDP to stop parading themselves as officers of the party.

The court also restrained the Baraje faction from interfering with the activities of the PDP or establish parallel offices.


Kaduna nPDP Secretary, Others Defect To Bamanga-Led PDP

The Secretary and some top members of the Abubakar Baraje-led faction of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State have denounced their membership, and declared support and loyalty to the Bamanga Tukur-led faction.

The members, whose names recently appeared in advertorials as signatories of the Baraje faction in the state, denied media reports of the existence of two PDP factions in the state.

Speaking when the defecting PDP members and former Local Government Chairmen paid a solidarity visit to Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero at Government House Kaduna, the former Secretary of the new PDP faction, Gideon Morik, said he was not aware of the existence of any faction of the party in the state, and maintained that there is only one PDP in the country led by Tukur.

Mr. Morik, who said he never declared support for the Baraje faction, however stressed that only the Bamanga Tukur led national working committee is the authentic leadership of the party which is recognized by the state chapter, and therefore appealed to those trying to split the party to retrace their steps.

Other members whose names appeared in the Baraje led faction, denied ever supporting the formation of New PDP in the State and claimed that those promoting the faction in the state championed their course by using their names without consulting them.

Youth Group Urges G7 Governors Not To Give Up Fight
Meanwhile any hope of quick resolution to the face-off between President Goodluck Jonathan and the seven Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors got dimmer on today as a regional youth group, Northern Youth Renaissance Forum in a statement urged the governors not to give up the fight.

The youths urged the seven governors not to back out as the group identified with it  and pledged its support for the struggle of the governors.

Titled “Salute To The True Pillar Of Democracy” the statement praised the courage of the G7 Governors to challenge what it called imposition of candidates and abuse of the party constitution while their colleagues are busy hobnobbing with the powers that be for political and personal gains,

The group also singled out the governors as the true promoters of democracy in the PDP.

Impunity Of PDP Is Catching Up With It – Omatseye

The The Chairman of the editorial board of the Nation newspapers, Sam Omatseye has said that the raging crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is nothing short of a taste of its own medicine and the disputes among members is the rewards for the party’s impunity and disregard for the law.

He said this this on Monday, while speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme Sunrise Daily.

Despite the fact that members of the Tukur led PDP have denied the existence of a crisis or another faction led by Abubakar Baraje, Mr Omatseye said “it is very clear that PDP is not at peace” and that the former are only holding on to “a construction of denial”.

He went further to describe last night’s PDP post-convention dinner hosted by President Goodluck Jonathan as “a party after a funeral”.

“You are trying to say that nobody died, you are drinking but inside of you, you are weeping,” he said, concluding that the whole thing was “a charade.”

He stated that there wouldn’t have been any need to go to court if the situation was a family matter and not the crisis it is.

Although the party has been experiencing varying levels of discord, Mr Omatse faulted the party’s approach to solving issues, which he described as “foul logic,” is catching up with it.

“The impunity of the PDP is catching up with it” he said recalling the issue of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), where they said 16 votes was more than 19, he questioned “why are they now worried that 7 members are getting away.”

He mentioned that a court case would serve no purpose because “PDP has never respected the law”. “It is about power,” he said.

Sealing Party Office Will Not Break Our Spirit, Baraje Tells Tukur

The Abubakar Baraje led PDP has described the closure of its head office in Abuja by the police as the height of impunity.

A statement issued by the National Secretary of the Baraje-led group, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola said security forces were mobilised to seal off the office on Saturday based on a non-existent court injunction which the Tukur faction claimed to have obtained on Friday.

“The whole world knows that Justice E. Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday refused to grant Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s application for an ex-parte injunction against our party’s executive. The Judge asked parties to maintain the status quo. His judgment was a reinforcement of an early order of the Lagos High Court which also asked parties to maintain the status quo. Now, should Nigerians conclude that Tukur’s interpretation of status quo is this crude display of naked power and undisguised impunity?

“We are not at all surprised at this occurrence given the fact that Tukur issued a statement on Friday evening deliberately seeking to mislead the media and the public that Justice Chukwu granted him an injunction against us. We are happy that the ever vigilant Nigerian press ignored him and his falsehood. Now, he is not only wilfully disobeying the various courts which have made pronouncements on this matter, he is spicing up his love for impunity with this reckless misuse of state power by misleading the police.

“We call for an immediate removal of the siege to our secretariat. We call on the Inspector General of police to order the immediate removal of his men from our office. Doing so, we believe, will serve the interest of justice, rule of law and democracy. Nigeria is a country ruled by law and not by might and force.

“We hasten to say that if this move is aimed at breaking our spirit, that goal is definitely off the mark. We are determined to rescue our party from the lawlessness and crass arrogance that have defined the character of the Tukur leadership since inception. Our party needs that deliverance, its members deserve the change we have brought into it,” the statement said.

The statement wondered why Tukur, who appeared before the party’s elders on Friday ostensibly in search of peace, could, in less than 12 hours, start another round of acts of impunity.

PDP Crisis: Baraje, Others Will Definitely Come Back – Mba

Although the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is currently battling with its first major fallout in over 12 years of reigning as the ruling party, which has resulted in the emergence of a faction led by Abubakar Baraje, some members are certain that the new faction will come back soon.

A PDP chieftain and former special assistant to the Minister of Works, Patrick Mba, while speaking on Sunrise said that the party is still in one piece as “we have only one PDP under Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.”

“A lot of people at the Eagle Square that day were not surprised because they’ve done it before; their doing it again for selfish reasons was not surprising to most of us” assuring that they would “definitely come back” to the main fold.

Citing an example of the few Rivers State Assembly lawmakers who said they had impeached the Speaker, Mr Mba explained that the Baraje led faction cannot overthrow the Tukur faction because they are the minority.

That most of them were laid off by the court because they were wrongly brought into the national working committee of the PDP and then walked out of the Special Convention “does not make them new PDP members”.

He said that the exit of 6 top members of the party at the convention did not surprise them as some members of the new faction had left the party in the past but later came back.