The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says the Federal Government is not aware of any $875 million ammunition deal with the US which is being purportedly obstructed by some lawmakers in the States.
Mr. Mohammed stated this while speaking with newsmen on Friday in Abuja. According to him, there is no contract of such nature and sum between Nigeria and the US.
He described as #Fakenews, the purported sale of the weapons and explained that apart from the 12 AH-I-Cobra attack helicopters of which Nigeria has taken delivery of six, the government is not aware of any contract as being speculated.
The Minister said the received AH-1- Cobra Attack helicopters would be launched sometime in August, adding that the Federal Government is“quite satisfied with the progress and cooperation that we received from the government of the US on this issue”.
Reports suggesting that influential U.S. lawmakers were obstructing a proposed sale of ammunition and attack helicopters to Nigeria over allegations of human rights abuses and anti-democratic actions of the present administration have been making the rounds.
These reports suggest that the blocked proposed sale includes 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters accompanied by defence systems, 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, and 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell.
Lai Mohammed however stated that the reports are false, emphasizing that “the relationship between Nigeria and the US is smooth and waxing stronger”.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome, says the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has thin skin for criticism and cannot take ‘punches.’
This is in reaction to the Federal Government’s announcement placing a ban on Twitter operations in the country.
Ozekhome in a statement on Friday titled, ‘When A Tottering Government Twiddles Twitter’ said the government is trying to cover its atrocities from global exposure with its decision to suspend Twitter in the country.
“The Nigerian Government through the Information Minister, Mr Lai Mohammed, suspended indefinitely, operations of the Micro-blogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria.
“It was a retaliatory action against Twitter for humiliating President Buhari based on his incendiary statement against protesting Nigerians.
“Well, I am not surprised that the Federal Government has suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria. I have always said that this Government has a very thin skin for criticism. It is a government that cannot take punches, but delights in always giving punches to adversaries, real or imaginary,” the human rights lawyer said.
He lamented that Nigerians will suffer the decision of the government and not the microblogging site.
“What does Nigerian government think Twitter loses by being suspended? It is just the Nigerian people that will suffer. There are well over 300 million people across the world that use Twitter. So Twitter will not feel it. It is just like a drop of water in an oasis. Twitter will not even know that a country has suspended it.”
He also called on the Federal Government not to stop at just banning Twitter operations in Nigeria but “dissolve” citizens and get new people in their place.
“My humble appeal to this Government is that it should go further than this. It should actually suspend or dissolve the Nigerian people which it has become so allergic to and no longer wants to see or hear about.
“Then, it can now go ahead to elect or select another people in place of the present Nigerians who appear to have become a nuisance to it. I am very ashamed of this government,” he said.
Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello says he handles insecurity in his state without necessarily seeking a solution by visiting the President in Abuja.
The governor who made the statement on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily stressed that he doesn’t pay lip service.
“The Nigeria Police that are in the country today are the same in Kogi State. The Army in the country is the same in Kogi State. All the law enforcement agencies we have in the country today are exactly what I have in Kogi State.
“So, when they provide such information, we act on it, we don’t pay lip service, we don’t pass buck, we don’t visit Abuja for solutions at all times. I don’t think there is any day I have ever visited Abuja for any solution. What I do is to sit down here and do my job,” the governor said.
Speaking further on security in the state, he added that stakeholders in the state collaborate with security agencies to analyse intelligence to forestall the breakdown of law and order.
“We are corroborating, the commissioner of police, my director (of) DSS, my Army commander, my naval commander, civil defense commander, we are corroborating and they are relating very well with the citizens, they connected to the people and leadership at all levels are doing their best starting from the community leaders, ward leaders, the local government chairmen, and leaders, youth leaders, market leaders, farmers and what have you. We are corroborating very well,” he added.
The governor also said there is a need for governors to collaborate and implement policies that will put an end to the farmers-herders crisis affecting parts of the country.
He said the national livestock transformation plan by the Federal Government should not be allowed to go down the drain.
“When the issue of livestock transformation was muted, it was first given the name Ruga. Ruga means a settlement of herders or livestock farmers.
“When it broke out in this country, it was politicised. That ‘Mr President wants to take our lands.’ I think, when we stop politicising every government policy and programmes, we will get it right,” the governor said.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) says the abduction of the students and staff of Government Science College in Kangara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, suggests that the Nigerian government has failed in providing a safe learning space for the people.
In reaction to the abduction which took place in the early hours of Wednesday, SERAP said it will hold the government to account if the students and others abducted are not urgently rescued.
“The abductors must be arrested and brought to justice. Victims must be granted access to justice. The incident, which started at about 2:00am on Wednesday, suggests that Nigerian authorities are failing to live up to their commitments to provide safe a learning environment,” SERAP stated.
The rights group said it will hold the Nigerian Government accountable if the students are not urgently rescued.
SERAP further asked the government to probe the reported spending of N3.2bn on the Safe School Initiative in 2014, and publish details of spending to date on the Initiative.
According to SERAP, public funds budgeted for the initiative have clearly not achieved a safe school environment for children in the country.
The advocacy group also stressed that attacking students and teachers is a crime against humanity, adding that such attacks inflict severe psychological distress on victims, and cause interruptions in education.
“I am confident that we will eventually convince the small number of people with resources and influence that are a nuisance to this great country. God willing, we will identify them, and deal with them. I am extremely concerned about your constituency like the rest of the country.”
President Buhari also noted the request for the upgrade and development of infrastructure in the states and assured that while he would do his best in acceding to the requests, he would, however, prioritise developments in education.
“We are aware of the infrastructure deficit. Our priorities will be education because all our citizens know that children within a certain age must receive it otherwise if they miss it, the future is destroyed.”
He expressed appreciation to the leaders for coming to terms with the positive improvement that has occurred in the states since the inception of the administration.
In his remarks, Professor Babagana Zulum, Governor of Borno State, said the leaders were in Abuja to thank the President for the tremendous improvement in their states and to intimate him with some of the prevailing socio-economic conditions.
Also speaking at the event, Architect Bunu Sheriff and Gambo Gubio expressed appreciation to the President as well as the armed forces for what he described as their commitment and sacrifices in bringing a new lease of life to the Northeast.
They requested for completion of long-standing infrastructure and on-going projects in the states, especially roads.
They also called on the President to continue oil exploration in the Chad Basin initiated when he was the Minister of Petroleum in the 70s and the recharging of the Lake Chad which the President is passionate about.
Also on the delegation were Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, former Governor Kashmir Shettima of Borno State, as well as senators, traditional rulers and elders in the two states.
The Federal Government has reacted to a list by the United States which added Nigeria as a country with severe religious violations.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed in a statement titled ‘Nigeria Denies Religious Freedom Violation Allegation’ said Nigeria jealously protects religious freedom as enshrined in the country’s constitution and takes seriously any infringements in this regard.
He described the US inclusion of Nigeria on the list as a case of “honest disagreement between the two nations on the causes of violence in Nigeria.”
”Nigeria does not engage in religious freedom violation, neither does it have a policy of religious persecution. Victims of insecurity and terrorism in the country are adherents of Christianity, Islam and other religions,” the Minister said.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, says the Federal Government’s decision to dissipate State funds on behalf of State judiciaries, under the purported Executive Order 10, is illegal and ill-advised.
He said if the decision is implemented more problems will be created and this will hamper the independence of the judiciary.
Governor Wike stated this during a special court session organised to mark the opening of the 2020/2021 legal year of the Rivers state judiciary in Port Harcourt on Friday.
He argued that the action of the Federal Government constitute yet, another clear breach of the constitutional powers of the Governors to manage State resources in a federal system. According to him, the Federal Government cannot legitimately claim to be more interested in the progress of State judiciaries than the Governors of the respective States; particularly, Rivers State.
The governor stated that the independence of the judiciary is not only about finances, but the ability of judicial officers to write judgments without the fear of being harassed by officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) or the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
Governor Wike said while the issue of inadequate funding for the judiciary has been a recurrent challenge preventing the judiciary across the nation from enjoying practical autonomy and efficiency, the situation in Rivers State under his administration has been different.
The Governor, however, took a swipe at the chairman of Nigerian Bar Association Port Harcourt branch, Prince Nyekwere, for alleging that some persons were extrajudicially killed by the military, in the aftermath of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) killing of six soldiers, four policemen, and destruction of all police stations and Court buildings in Oyigbo.
He wondered why the NBA, which is yet to make a formal submission to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the State to probe the atrocities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), will without evidence allege extrajudicial killings in Oyigbo.
The Governor lauded the Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Adama Iyaye Lamikanra for her illustrious service and commitment to the progress of the judiciary in the State.
He stated that people had opposed her elevation as the Chief Judge based on her status as a non-indigene. But, noted that fortunately, she has vindicated the government’s decision to support her appointment.
“As the Chief Judge, you have been honest, effective, and transformational. Under your leadership, the judiciary developed effective cooperation with the executive and the legislative branches of government to secure, strengthen, and advance the administration of justice.”
In her remarks, the Chief Judge, Justice Adama Iyaye Lamikanra, lauded Governor Wike, for providing the State judiciary the needed funds to ensure people have unhindered access to justice.
She condemned the destruction of all court buildings in Oyigbo by members of the outlawed IPOB, describing it as a set back for dispensation of justice.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zacchaeus Adangor, said his ministry as an institutional stakeholder in the justice sector, will continue to cooperate and collaborate with the State judiciary and other stakeholders in driving the necessary reform and improving the administration of justice.
Earlier, there was a rededication church service that held at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral Church, Port Harcourt where the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took the first lesson, while the second lesson was taken by Chief Judge of the State, Justice Adama Iyaye -Lamikanra.
In his sermon, the Archbishop of Port Harcourt Methodist Church of Nigeria, Most Reverend Sunday Agwu admonished the need for the judiciary to continue to uphold the truth, fairness, and justice without compromise.
He noted that most judicial officers devote more time to pursuing financial gratifications in order to deliver justice to favour the highest bidders to the detriment of the poor.
Archbishop Agwu reminded them to do self-evaluation on this occasion of rededication service so that they can resolve to confidently check the excesses of the other arms of government and contribute their quota to building a virile society.
The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was accompanied by his wife, Justice Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Senator Sam Anyanwu, and several other dignitaries.
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata has faulted moves by the Federal Government to further regulate social media and believes the timing is wrong.
“I struggle with the terms that we bandy around. Like I said, I think the social media space is regulated already, ” the NBA President said on Sunday Politics when asked if social media need further regulation.
“Are we saying regulate or shutdown? What are we saying because we hear them using regulate? We hear the minister of Information use the word ‘sanitize.’ I just say to myself, ‘what are we trying to do?’ The timing is suspicious.”
While admitting that there are people who are “irresponsible” in their usage of social media, he said the country has laws to deal with such kind of persons.
“And if we need to tweak the laws here and there, as we amend our laws every day to meet with issues that may come up that were not previously contemplated, we are all well and good,” he argued.
“But it is not throwing out the baby and the bathwater approach like I suspect that is in contemplation by those who are handling the levers of power today. That is not going to work.”
—Well Within Their Rights—
On the setting up of panels of enquiry into the activities of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the legal practitioner noted that despite arguments on their legality, the governors have the right to do so.
“I think the governors are well within their rights or the power of the law to set up those panels of enquiry for the purpose of determining whether or not the now-disbanded SARS went beyond their remit; whether or not the claims that we have from various Nigerians as to how they were mistreated or illegally treated by SARS are correct,” he noted.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola on Thursday said Nigerians are disappointed in the present administration because they are looking for results in the wrong place.
Fashola who disclosed this in an interview on Channels Television said Nigerians should note that governance is not magic and the results they promptly need can only be delivered by state and local government which are the closest to grassroots.
“Governance is not magic. It is the act of the possible and our responsibility is to always project hope. Perhaps those who feel that way (disappointed) should be made to realize that what we expect of the Nigerian Federal government lies more with the state government and the local government…some of the most basic things.
“What we should do is to focus on the government that is closest to us. I will urge people to go and read the constitution, the powers the President has are about 45, many of them are categorised as power but they are even functions and duties.
“The government that can transform us and give us what we want quickly are the government closest to us – state and local government,” he said.
Fashola notes that basic infrastructure like primary healthcare, primary education, among others which Nigerians clamour for, can only be delivered by state and local governments.
“Looking for the Federal Government or a magic President is why we seem to have been disappointed. We are looking for the results in the wrong place,” Fashola said.
He urged Nigerians to read the constitution to understand better the divide between the state and the Federal Government.
According to him refuse management, water supply, primary healthcare, basic education, etc are all matters within the local and state government and the duties rest upon the state governors.
The Federal Government has directed all account holders in the country to obtain and fill self-certification forms in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.
The directive contained in a series of tweets on Thursday stated that each account holder must submit the filled forms in their respective financial institutions.
“This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc) are required to obtain, complete, and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions.
“Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions is required to complete & submit the form to each one of the institutions,” it stressed
The government, however, stated that the exercise is part of due diligence exercise mandated by the banks and other financial institutions in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.
According to the directive, the forms have been categorised into three: Form for Entity, for Controlling Person (Individuals having a controlling interest in a legal person, trustee, etc); and form for individual
The directive by the government warned that “failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account.”
The Federal Government has launched a central database for the management of recovered assets.
The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami during the launch on Thursday, in Abuja, said all the assets that have been recovered by the Federal Government are now tied to specific projects.
The launch was witnessed by officials from government agencies including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
In his remark ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye said all anti-corruption agencies should be digitised and integrated for easy access.
He adds that the idea of the central database system is to ensure that all anti-corruption agencies harmonise all recovered assets.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had earlier in December 2019 told journalists in Abuja that a central database will be created for the management of recovered assets stolen from the country.
He stressed that the war against corruption in the country by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is devoid of any political or ethnic sentiments.