The Federal Government says four new runways will soon be constructed at four international airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Lagos.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this on Tuesday when he led the Minister of Information around facilities at the Kaduna International Airport.
The Minister added that the expansion of the runways at the four airports would offer more direct local and international flights, as well as eliminate delays often experienced in the course of landing and taking off of aircraft.
“There will be a second runway in Abuja. Hopefully within the next 24 months, we would have a new runway.
“And then there is a second runway in Kano (the military runway), a second runway in Lagos and a second runway in Port Harcourt,” Mr Sirika said.
The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, on his part briefed reporters on the Federal Government’s plan of a complete makeover on some of the airports across the country.
“As a government, we’ve put in place to the best of our ability, arrangements that will ensure security and also guarantee safety of operation both on tarmac and off tarmac, and on route,” he said.
The crisis rocking the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not appear to be abating, even with the judgement of the Court of Appeal.
The National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has asked the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to jail his rival Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and some of his loyalists over what he described as ‘contempt of court’.
The former Borno State Governor and the PDP National Secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo, accused Senator Makarfi and others of flouting the order of the court which was delivered on February 17, 2017.
Apart from the former Kaduna State Governor, Senator Sheriff also listed three other prominent leaders of the party as those to be jailed by the appellate court.
Others named as alleged contemnors are the two other members of the sacked National Caretaker Committees, Senator Ben Obi (secretary) and Mr Dayo Adeyeye (publicity secretary), and a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode.
In the suit with APPEAL NO: CA/PH/349/2016, Sheriff asked the court to commit the four persons to prison for one year over the alleged contempt.
Apart from the four contemnors, he also listed a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Emeka Ihedioha; a former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana; Chairman, Board of Trustees of the party, Senator Walid Jibrin; and an aspirant to the office of the party’s national chairman, Mr Bode George, as alleged contemnors.
Close Down Factional Secretariat
The PDP National Chairman, however, did not pray the court to commit Ihedioha, Gana, Jibrin and George to prison.
Rather, he asked the court for an order restraining them from “proclaiming or otherwise holding out to the public that the first to third alleged contemnors are national officers of the PDP for any purpose whatsoever”.
Listed as defendants in the case are the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Department of State Services (DSS).
Senator Sheriff and Professor Oladipo asked the court to stop Senator Makarfi and his group from parading themselves as national officers of the party.
They also asked the court to direct the IGP and the DSS to close down the factional secretariat being operated by the Makarfi group.
Apart from that, the duo prayed the court not to transmit the records of the court proceedings to Markarfi and his group, saying they didn’t have the permission of the party to get it.
Defy Court Order
Oladipo, who signed an affidavit in support of the claim, stated that on February 17, “soon after the judgment was delivered, the alleged contemnors proceeded to address the media and to comment negatively, contemptuously, disparagingly and contumeliously on the findings and order of the court set out above.
“Rather than accept that the justice of the matter as determined by this honourable court was as expressed in the findings, holdings and order set out above, the fourth to eighth alleged contemnors made statements encouraging the first to third respondents to defy the order of the court and flout the purpose of the court’s judgment delivered on the 17th of February 2017,” he said.
The PDP National Secretary claimed that it was on this basis that the alleged contemnors placed notices in newspapers, where they convened a meeting of what they called “PDP stakeholders.
“The said meeting was held on Monday, February 20, and was attended by the fourth to eighth alleged contemnors, who made further statements encouraging the first to third alleged contemnors to defy the holdings and order of the court”.
Purpose Of The Judgment
The motion on notice for the committal of the alleged contemnors was filed by eight lawyers, led by a former Minister of Justice, Akin Olujimi, who was joined by two other Senior Advocates of Nigeria – Dr. Alex Izinyon and B. E. Nwofor – among others.
“The actions of the alleged contemnors, as shown in the affidavit in support of this application, have the effort of flouting the purpose of the judgment of this Honourable court, which purpose is to properly regulate the exercise of powers by the alleged contemnors against the applicants and first respondent; avoid any further anarchy, lawlessness and deepening crisis capable of heating up the Nigerian polity; and establish the requirements of the rule of law and due process in the administration of justice.
“Although the alleged contemnors were not parties to the action in court, it is our humble submission that they have a responsibility to ensure that they do not aid and abet the disobedience of the judgment order or treat the said judgment with disdain and disrespect,” the lawyers stated.
Senator Markarfi and the other faction of the party are believed to have filed an application seeking for stay of execution of the judgment and leave for appeal.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of Sheriff’s case, which was filed on February 24, 2017.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the reported shooting of the ongoing Big Brother Nigeria Reality Show in South Africa.
In a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister said the NBC should determine whether Multi-Choice, by shooting the show in South Africa, has breached the Nigerian Broadcasting Code in any way, as well as the issue of possible deceit, since the viewing public was never told that the event would be staged outside Nigeria.
”As a country of laws, only the outcome of the investigation will determine our next line of action,” he said.
While expressing concerns that Nigerians have bombarded his office with calls to complain about what they regard as an anomaly (of shooting outside the country a show meant for Nigerians), he requested that they should remain calm while the NBC investigates the issue and submits its findings.
Ahead of the June 2017 deadline for digital switch-over, the federal government is hoping to facilitate a meeting of players in the broadcast industry to resolve issues affecting digitization in the country.
During a meeting with the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed in Abuja, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Mr John Momoh, suggested that the meeting be held to aggregate the challenges affecting digitization and proffer solutions to them.
He told Channels TV that the digital switch-over was on course but there were gray areas that need to be resolved.
He said: “He (Minister) has an ear to the ground and knows what he is doing as regards the digital switch-over and he welcomed the idea of a stakeholders’ meeting which I put forward.
“The stakeholders’ meeting will be such that will get (together) people like the fiber companies, the broadcasters, the platform carriers, signal distributor, content aggregators and producers as well as the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) who should actually be one of the stakeholders since they monitor the kind of setup boxes that would be manufactured in the country.
“We will all come to the table and address the issues confronting the DSO.”
The Minister admitted that the meeting was necessary and should be held regularly until the target date.
He hoped that the meeting would be called soon as it would “not only discuss issues that are strategic and important to the process”.
“We are talking about channels owners, setup box manufacturers, the distributors, the aggregators; everybody.
“We need to meet regularly so that as we move forward, we would ensure nobody is left behind,” the Minister said.
Although Mr Mohammed said that there was a near breakthrough in December 2016, he noted that talks were ongoing to ensure the release of the girls.
He added that the government was employing the sticks and carrot method, stressing the need for patience and perseverance on the part of Nigerians.
The minister, however, assured the citizens that the government was doing everything within its powers to ensure the release of the girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists in April 2014 from their school in Chibok community of Borno State.
Since their abduction, less than 60 of the over 200 girls have been rescued or released.
The Nigeria Police Force says it is set to work with the Ministry of Information to enforce the ‘Change Begins With Me’ initiative of the Federal Government.
At a meeting with the Minister of Information in Abuja, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, said the police, with its advantage of being spread across all the states of the federation, had what was required to help achieve the objectives of the campaign.
After deliberations on the achievements of the Change Begins With Me initiative recently launched by the Federal Government, Mr Idris urged police officers to take up the initiative with commitment and loyalty, as a major organ that enforces discipline in the society.
“We have decided, as the top management, to invite the minister to pass this message to the top officers of the Nigeria Police Force because we believe that the Nigeria Police Force is occupying a very critical stage in the life of this country.
“We have the widest spread and everybody knows that in democracy the police are very critical anywhere in the world.
Police are very critical in the survival of democracy. We want him to share this message so that all of us will now cue into the current direction of this administration which is the change mantra which has been spreading all over the country,” he told reporters.
On his part, the Information Minister, Mr Lai Mohammed, urged Nigerians to partake in the campaign and see it as a wake-up call aimed at promoting patriotism in the country.
Also at the meeting were top management of the Nigeria Police Force.
But the foremost task, the Minister of Information says, lies with Nigerians who he urges to partake in the national orientation campaign by practicing the change they want to see in the society.
“Change Begins With Me is a Nigerian campaign that has no toleration whatsoever.
“Whether it is political, religious or ethnic, it is a campaign for all Nigerians with the sole objective of achieving a paradigm shift in the way we do things.
“The campaign is based on one principle which is each one of us must be the change we want to see in the society.
“We are here today to formally present change begins with me to the police hierarchy.
“It is very important because the police by virtue of its duties is a critical stakeholder in this campaign,” he explained.
President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Change Begins With Me initiative on September 8, with the objective of promoting patriotism in Nigerians, a boost many say Nigeria needs, especially now that the nation’s economy is in recession.
As the Federal Government’s anti-corruption fight comes under intense criticisms, the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, has blamed corruption for Nigeria’s recession.
Mr Mohammed also insisted that the measures taken by the government were within the ambit of the law.
Speaking at a forum in Abuja on Thursday where the arrest of some judges was addressed, the Minister defended the action.
A former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, also acknowledged that the cost of corruption has brought unimaginable consequences.
He, however, noted that there should be a balance and urged the government to provide a clear blueprint for economic revival alongside the war against corruption.
A former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Nuhu Ribadu and a member of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Advisory Committee, Femi Odejide, also gave their view on the corruption fight.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has called on Nigerians not to lose faith and confidence in the Nigerian judiciary.
The CJN reiterated that despite the current misunderstanding between the National Judicial Council and the Directorate of the State Services (DSS), the Judiciary still continues to maintain cordial relations with the other arms of government.
Justice Mohammed said that the call by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmoud to suspend the judges who are currently under investigation, was unnecessary and hasty.
He pointed out that the said judicial officers are still being investigated by the DSS.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria added that the DSS is yet to forward any complaint or any official communication regarding the seven judges to the National Judicial Council.
However, some of the affected judges have already been investigated by the NJC, which found some culpable and recommended their removal from office by dismissal or retirement to the President.
He also stated in clear terms that the ‘sting’ operations carried out by the DSS in October 2016 was certainly an assault on the independence of the Nigerian Judiciary even though, the Judiciary fully supports the anti-corruption drive.
The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, has asked Nigerians not to think that the fight against corruption was a fight against judges, insisting that the Buhari administration has great respect for the judiciary as the third arm of government.
Mr Lai Mohammed made the statement on Wednesday while addressing reporters after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa.
His statement came few days after several judges’ homes were raided and some of them arrested by the operatives of some Nigerian security agencies on allegations of corruption and misconduct.
The Department of State Services (DSS) after their arrest released a statement, saying that the judges had been under investigation for alleged misconduct and corruption.
The Minister of Information enumerated the number of lawyers in Buhari’s cabinet, highlighting the kind of respect the President had for the judiciary despite losing the elections three times.
According to the Minister of Information, the government is passionate about the fight against corruption and in the process is bound to step on toes.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Senator Joshua Lidani, brought the matter of the weekend arrest of the judges before the Senate at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, says the Senate is in full support of the fight against corruption but the government must ensure that the war on corruption must be done within the rule of law.
The Senate is mandating its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to review all existing laws establishing security agencies and report back in four weeks.
After the NBA requested for the release of the judges, the DSS on Monday released them.
The judges, according to DSS sources, were released on self-recognition but are to report at the agency’s office when requested to, as the investigation and preparation to file charges against them continue.
The Federal Government has announced plans to launch digital broadcasting in December as part of efforts to ensure the realization of the June 2017 Digital Switch Over deadline.
This is in line with the directive of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to its member countries.
Fielding questions from Journalists in Abuja after inspecting a set-up box manufacturing company, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, said that digitizing broadcasting in Nigeria is irreversible and unstoppable and that the digital switch over is no longer a matter of choice but a matter of necessity.
He added that the process of digitization would also provide over a million jobs for Nigerian youths within the next two years.
The June 2017 deadline for the digital switch over from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is part of the development of all digital terrestrial broadcast services for sound and television for 119 countries who are members of the International Telecommunications Union.