2019: Saraki Meets With Jonathan In Abuja

Senate President Bukola Saraki on Wednesday held a closed-door meeting with former President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.

Saraki visited the former president in company with ex-National Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Barnabas Gemade, Abubakar Kawu Baraje; Senators Dino Melaye, Rafiu Ibrahim, Doyin Okupe and others.

This meeting comes amidst speculations that the Senate President will join the race for the seat of presidency in the forthcoming 2019 elections.

Saraki earlier in this month visited former military head, Ibrahim Babangida, in Minna, Niger State capital.

See photos of Saraki’s meeting with former President Jonathan below…

 

Babangida Denies Receiving N1.6bn From Jonathan’s Govt

Former Governor of Niger State, Muazu Babangida Aliyu

 

The immediate past governor of Niger State, Aliyu Babangida on Monday reacted to the Federal Government’s list of looters in which his name was mentioned saying he never collected N1.6billion from office of National Security Adviser (NSA).

Aliyu explained that the former President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration never deemed him fit to be entrusted with the said funds. He claimed that the inclusion of his name in the list is aimed at tarnishing his good image.

“Let me categorically state for the records that I never received such amount from the Jonathans administration. As leader of the G-7, I was not considered loyal enough to be entrusted with the fund, which was meant for campaign.

“I have never been mentioned in any ONSA disbursement since 2015. I have no case with the Federal Government over the alleged disbursement or any other. I have every reason to believe the looters list in which my name was included was drafted to tarnish my image,” he said.

READ ALSO: Alleged Looters’ List Is Politically Motivated, Afterthought – Fayose

Aliyu, in the statement which was signed by his Media Adviser, Israel Ebije, therefore called on the Federal Government to remove his name from the list of alleged looters.

He also urged the Federal Government to be balanced in naming and shaming alleged looters. He claimed that the list is politicised and craftily deployed to score cheap political points, adding that he await to see names of politicians working with the APC government who have benefited from the said loot.

Probe Missing Chibok Safe School Funds, SERAP Tells EFCC

SERAP Drags Senate To UN Over Magu's RejectionThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Nigeria’s anti-graft body to investigate allegations that the  Safe School funds for Chibok girls is missing and cannot be accounted for.

The group’s request was contained in a petition SERAP sent to the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, requesting him to urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into the issue.

The said fund of 500 million Naira was commissioned by former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to rebuild the Government Girls School in Chibok community in Borno State, northeast Nigeria.

SERAP, in a statement on Wednesday, urged the EFCC to “invite for questioning, and name and shame anyone suspected to be involved in the alleged diversion, including the contractors allegedly handling the project”.

In the petition dated December 27, 2016 and signed by SERAP’s senior staff attorney, Timothy Adewale, the organisation said: “The allegation that 500 million Naira has been lost to corruption has resulted in denying the girls access to education, and shows the failure of the former President Goodluck Jonathan government to live up to Nigeria’s commitments under the global Safe School Declaration”.

Chibok Community Celebrates Homecoming For 21 Rescued Girls
Some of the rescued Chibok girls

Monitor Government’s Spending

It further read: “SERAP believes that the diversion of the funds will expose the school to attacks in the future. This is a fundamental breach of the country’s obligations including guarantees of non-repetition, which contributes to prevention and deterrence of future attacks.

“SERAP urges the EFCC to work with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to set up a mechanism to monitor government’s spending of the safe school funds in order to ensure that the funds are spent exactly to prevent and deter future attacks, and to allow the girls to go back to school as soon as possible.

EFCC
Some EFCC officials

“SERAP is seriously concerned that the school has remained in a state of disrepair since the abduction of the girls, and students have remained at home.

“SERAP is concerned that the alleged diversion of 500 million naira meant for reconstruction of Government Girls School in Chibok has directly violated the right to education of the girls, as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

Breach Of Anti-corruption Legislation

“The diversion has undermined the obligation of the government to take step to the maximum of its available resources to achieve the right to education. The alleged diversion also shows a serious breach of anti-corruption legislation including the EFCC Act, and Nigeria’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption, and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption both of which the country has ratified.

“The EFCC should ensure full accountability and bring to justice anyone found to be responsible for corruption and diversion of safe school funds. The EFCC should also ensure that all proceeds of corruption are recovered and returned back to the treasury.

“This request is based on allegation by Governor Kashim Shettima that 500 million Naira set aside by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is missing and cannot be accounted for.

Kashim Shettima, Sambisa, Borno, Military
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima

“The funds were released for rebuilding of the Government Girls School in Chibok under the Safe School Initiative programme, which was commissioned former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.

Jonathan, Okowa Take Message Of Peace To Niger Delta Region

goodluck-jonathan-and-ifeanyi-okowaFormer President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State have taken a message of peace to the creeks of the Niger Delta.

According to both leaders, the destruction of pipelines and other national assets in the area has not only affected revenue generated to the Federation Accounts but, has also, reduced revenue accruable to Delta State.

They both spoke during the presentation of the Staff of Office to the Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom, HRM Oboro Gbaraun II, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, agreeing that peace is the only solution for meaningful development to take place.

Thrilled with the display of a rich cultural heritage showcased by the people of Gbaramatu, the former President told the crowd that dialogue and peace were the only way forward.

“We need peace for development to take place, Nigeria is a great nation, no matter what is happening, Nigeria will, Niger Delta will succeed, Gbaramatu Kingdom will succeed” Dr. Jonathan said.

The ceremony, which was colourful, attracting political office holders, traditional rulers, captains of industries, friends and well wishers, caught the excitement of the Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

He said: “It is time we realise that under a peaceful atmosphere, where everybody lives in peace, we can build a future of trust for our children.

“There is no alternative to partnership, when you are aggrieved, you have reasons to feel bad but, we can carry out our agitations with dialogue. It is time to forgive those who needs to be forgiven because, when we do that, it will be easier for us to speak boldly and be heard”.

Thanking the state governor, HRM Oboro Gbaraun II encouraged his people to always uphold the culture and tradition of the Gbaramatu Kingdom.

Both leaders are pushing for peace in the region where militancy has resurged since second quarter of 2015, with oil facilities bearing the brunt.

Some oil companies have declared force majeure, as attacks on oil facilities increased.

A group that calls itself the Niger Delta Avengers has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks that have dropped oil production output to less than 1.6 million barrels per day, dipping the nation’s revenue at a time it needs funds to finance deficit in its budget.

Attacks on oil pipelines have also affected power generation, with plants, which largely rely on gas supply from the Niger Delta region shutting down.

The situation has also forced the nation to reconsider more input in hydropower generation that it had relied on before huge gas deposit was discovered.

Absence of EFCC Counsel Stalls Trial Of Jonathan’s Aide

Judges, Court, Judges, Court, Absence of EFCC Counsel Stalls Trial Of Jonathan's AideThe trial of Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, the former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, could not go on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, owing to the absence of the EFCC’s counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo.

Presiding judge, Justice Muhammad Idris, told the court that he received a letter from the EFCC counsel seeking for an adjournment.

In the letter, Mr Oyedepo asked the court to grant the adjournment to enable him attend to an appeal filed by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ricky Tarfa against the commission

Counsel to Mr Dudafa, Gboyega Oyewole, did not object to the request for an adjournment. He however informed the court that he was surprised that his client was not present in court.

Upon enquiry from the prison’s officials, Mr Oyewole said he was told that Dudafa is seriously sick.

He complained about the EFCC treatment of his client.

Justice Mohammed Idris has granted the prosecutor’s application and adjourned the matter till Thursday November 10, for the continuation of the defendants’ trial.

Dudafa and one Iwejuo Joseph Nna, are standing trial before Justice Mohammed Idris on alleged 5.1 billion naira fraud.

In the first count, the defendants on or about June 11, 2013 in Lagos allegedly conspired amongst themselves to conceal the sum of 1.667 billion Naira said to be the proceeds of crime.

The Offence was said to be contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a) of the same Act.

In the other charges, Mr Waripamo-Owei also allegedly used six companies – Seagate Property Development and Investment Limited, Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited, Ebiwise Resources, Pluto Property and Investment Company, Rotato Interlink Services and De Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant Nigeria Limited  – to conceal varying sums of money between June 2013 and April 2016.

The EFCC’s Prosecuting Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had listed 21 witnesses to testify against the defendants, including Representatives of some banks.

Ijaw National Council Warns FG, Condemns Proliferation Of Adhoc Groups

 

militant, NPDC, Delta, Pipelines, Crisis, Negotiation
The council says there are too many parties jostling to be part of the negotiation talks with FG

At least 32 groups have emerged and are scrambling to be part of negotiations with the Federal Government over the Niger Delta crisis.

This was according to the President of the Ijaw National Council, Charles Harry, who mentioned this during a meeting of the council with journalists in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.

The Ijaw leader who described it as inimical to the interest of the region, called on the federal government to avoid ad-hoc arrangements which is believed to only produce temporary relief.

Ceasefire Agreements

There have been several attacks on oil facilities in the region, leading to a drop in oil output of the nation that relies largely on crude oil sales for revenue.

A group that calls itself the Niger Delta Avengers has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks.

Recently, it said it has agreed to a ceasefire and was ready for negotiation with the Federal Government.

Ijaw national council, adhoc groupsThe Ijaw council however opined that the recent bombings in the Niger Delta even in the face of ceasefire agreements, are also an expression of grievances.

This according to them is over what they believe is the “persecution of the Former President, Jonathan, by prosecuting his wife Patience Jonathan”.

‘Don’t touch Mrs Jonathan’

The Niger Delta Avengers had threatened to initiate more attacks if Mrs Jonathan is arrested, suggesting that the EFCC should begin with the “prosecution of past first ladies”.

One of the groups, Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC) headed by Udengs Eradiri said “Mrs Jonathan should not have to answer any questions from the EFCC as she got her wealth through gratification and ‘thank you’ gifts from those who seek her help”.

Mr Eradiri also made reference to the funds allegedly recovered from ex-Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

He alleged that “Bayelsa state money is in their coffers” saying such monies ought to be put back into the state for its well-being.

The Avengers appear to have split into several groups, making the task of securing proper negotiations with the actual group seem a bit daunting for the government.

However, with the military’s initiation of Operation Delta Safe and Exercise Crocodile Smile, there are hopes that there will soon be an end to the attacks on oil installations.

 

New Pension Boss Promises Reform And End To Payment Delay

Osun-Pensioners
Pensioners In Sousn protesting

The new Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, has resumed office, with a promise to resolve all challenges delaying the payment of pension.

Speaking to Channels Television in Abuja on Wednesday, Mrs Ikeazor said her immediate task was to reform the agency and improve service delivery to retirees.

The former National Woman Leader of the All Progressives Congress and 13 others were recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to head some government agencies.

Pensioners in Nigeria have lamented poor management of their pensions, which they usually receive late.

Many of them are owed months of pension, a situation that had triggered protests in some states.

On July 12, hundreds of Local Government retirees in Akwa Ibom State protested against the non-payment of their pensions for four months.

The pensioners displayed placards with various inscriptions requesting for the intervention of the state government in ensuring the prompt payment of their entitlements.

The leader of the retirees, Obong Etta, recounted the ordeal of the senior citizens in an interview with Channels Television in Uyo, the state capital in southeast Nigeria.

In a swift response, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Victor Antai, appealed to the pensioners to be patient with the state government.

He explained that the Ministry had not been able to meet its obligations due to the shortfall in financial allocation to the local governments.

France’s Premier Warns Of New Attacks, 15,000 People On Police Radar

french primeFrench Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, said on Sunday there would be new attacks in France but proposals by former president Nicolas Sarkozy to boost security was not the right way to deal with threats.

The French capital was put on high alert last week when French officials said they dismantled a “terrorist cell” that planned to attack a Paris railway station under the direction of Islamic State.

“This week at least two attacks were foiled,” Manuel Valls said in an interview with Europe 1 radio and Itele television on Sunday.

Valls said there were 15,000 people on the radar of police and intelligent services who were in the process of being radicalized.

“There will be new attacks, there will be innocent victims… this is also my role to tell this truth to the French people,” Valls said.

In an interview newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD), Sarkozy said France needed to get tough on militants by creating special courts and detention facilities to boost security.

“He is wrong about trying to wring the neck of the rule of law,” Valls said.

Sarkozy proposed to systematically place French citizens suspected of having militant links in special detention facilities.

Acting NAFDAC Boss Explains Use Of E-Clearance System

NAFDAC D.GThe Acting Director General of the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control, Yetunde Oni, has explained that the E-Clearance system is what the agency uses for products that are coming in through the port or land borders either for importing or exporting.

She stated that the products have to go through a lot of processes but said that the agency was working closely with the Nigerian Customs Service to ensure the E-Clearance system is functional.

Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily on Thursday, the NAFDAC boss further explained that the E-Clearance system had helped in determining the status of the product, checking the list of all the NAFDAC registered numbers and in analysing products.

She mentioned that the if the product was a food commodity, the agency had a nutrition directorate that would sample the product at an established facility.

She explained that before the sample would be taken, a lot of inspection would have been done to ensure the company had good manufacturing practices in place.

Efe Ajagba Begins Campaign With A Knockout

efeNigerian boxer, Efe Ajagba gave a promising start to the country’s Olympic boxing campaign with a knockout victory over Trinidad and Tobago’s Nigel Paul in round one.

Ajagba needed two minutes, forty-four seconds to see off his opponent and prevented spectators who were still sorting things out at the gate from seeing the fight.

The Nigerian boxer has now qualified for the quarter finals to face Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko who also qualified via a knockout win over his opponent from Azerbaijan.

Ajagba who is the only boxer representing Nigeria in Rio jumped to the rope to acknowledge the crowd’s roaring support before dashing to his coach’s corner to hug Anthony Konyegwachie in celebration.

The Super Heavyweight Boxer who won gold at the 2015 All Africa Games in Congo, Brazaville and a bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, has another chance of moving to the medal’s zone with his next fight scheduled for Tuesday at the Riocentro Pavilion.

The Trinidad and Tobago opponent fell awkwardly on the canvass and the Russian referee did not hesitate to end the fight.

The manner of his fall raised fears when he hit his head on the canvass but rose up and wobbled to his corner. The Lion of the ring, Efe, pumped his fists to the sky enjoying the moment.

Efe’s next opponent is also huge and slightly taller, whose left hook opened a deep cut on his Azerbaijan opponent but coach Anthony Konyegwachie has assured that his boxer will not have any problem against his competitor.

Atiku Abubakar Lends Support For Restructuring of Nigeria

atikuThe former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, is in support of the restructuring of Nigeria along federating units.

He stated that Nigeria is not working as it should because the centre has more powers than the federating states.

The former V.P said that a restructuring would foster national unity and integration, and also lay to rest the continuous agitation for resource control and creation of more states by different geo-political zones.

He made the remark in Kaduna State during the memorial conference for late General Hassan Usman Katsina.

Speaking on the topic, “Restructuring Nigeria For Greater National Integration and Democratic Stability”, Atiku said that there is the need to restructure the nation to make it stronger and more united.

According to him, while Nigeria must remain a united country, the unity which most citizens desire should never be taken for granted or taken as evidence that Nigerians are contented with the current structure of the federation.

The conference which had the theme: ‘Challenges of National Integration and the Survival of Democracy in Nigeria’, gathered dignitaries who came to celebrate the former military governor of the defunct Northern region, General Hassan Katsina.

Atiku also argued that the current presidential system of governance has thrown up so many issues in the polity such as struggle for power rotation at the centre, and overbearing control of resources by the federal government with limited resources going to the states and local governments.

The former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Ango Abdullahi, cautioned the agitators for control of oil deposits in the Niger Delta region to have a rethink.

He argued that it was the proceeds from the North that was used in developing the country before the advent of oil.

He also stated that Nigeria is divisible if the various political zones fail to work collectively as one, stressing that the north is not scared of separating from the rest of the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahaman Danbazau, said that the time to achieve national unity was now, considering the numerous security and economic challenges confronting the nation.

He also stated that good governance remains the key for the sustenance of national integration, adding that the federal government under his leadership is making effort to enthrone political stability and protect the lives and property of every citizen.

FG Renegotiates Lagos-Calabar Rail Contract

Railway-NigeriaThe Federal Government of Nigeria said on Friday that it has renegotiated the contract for the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Railway Project.

During a contract signing ceremony in Abuja, the Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, revealed that the contract was reviewed for $11.117 billion from the $11.917 billion agreed with the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The reduction in contract sum is attributed to drop in prices of key materials such as steel among others.

On the funding of the project, the Minister said that funding would not pose any hindrance to the smooth commencement and final completion of the project.

The project was part of the controversial points during the budget impasse between the executive and legislature earlier in the year.

The executive had accused the legislature of removing the project from the budget but the legislators said the project was never added to the budget.