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Thursday, 22 September 2022 05:37

Osun NNPP candidates dump Kwankwaso, back Tinubu

Four candidates contesting in the 2023 general election on the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party in Osun State, on Wednesday, declared support for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu.

The candidates, Clement Bamigbola, Osun Central Senatorial candidate; Bolaji Akinyode, Osun West Senatorial zone; Olalekan Fabayo and Oluwaseyi Ajayi of Boluwaduro/Ifedayo/Ila, and Ijesa South Federal Constituencies respectively, attributed their decision to dump the NNPP presidential candidate, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, for Tinubu to lack of transparency in the running of their party at the national level.

Addressing the media in Osogbo on behalf of other candidates, Bamigbola further said, “In view of the prevailing circumstances within our party and after due consultation and approval of our supporters, we wish to announce and declare our support and endorsement to the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

“This is as a result of our dissatisfaction with the leadership of the party at the National level, coupled with the inability of the party stakeholders to work in accordance with the principle of justice, law and undemocratic running of the party.”

He further stated that good governance and dividends of democracy would be guaranteed for Nigerians under Tinubu’s presidency.

“Passion for good governance and capacity to deliver dividends of democracy, which can realised under a new Nigeria, can be found in the APC presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu,” Bamigbola said.

Thursday, 22 September 2022 05:39

[OPINION] A Funeral To Remember - Abdu Rafiu

Everything was in the superlative. Joe Biden said of her: “A stately woman of unmatched dignity.” The outpouring of affection wrapped in grief. In genuine grief. To a clergyman: “She represented the finest of our generations.” That was his summation of the quality of the being of the Queen. There was repeated mention of and indeed, emphasis on her selfless service. The Very Reverend, Dr. David Hoyle, the Dean of Westminster where the funeral took place said of her: “…we gather from across the nations, from the Commonwealth, and from nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service…With gratitude, we remember her unswerving commitment to a high calling over so many years as Queen and Head of Commonwealth. With admiration, we recall her lifelong sense of duty and dedication to her people.” The Archbishop of Canterbury upon admonishing Queen Elizabeth to “Go forth, O Christian soul, from the world in the Name of God the Father Almighty Who created thee; in the Name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God…” supplicated that her path may lead her to “Thy dwelling in the Heavenly Jerusalem.”

Former United States President, Barack Obama, recalled his first meeting with Queen Elizabeth 11, describing her as a woman of “extra-ordinary generosity” He said: “The first time that I met the Queen was visiting London…she could not have been more kind or thoughtful to me and Michelle. Michelle and I were lucky to know Her Majesty the Queen. Back when we were just beginning to navigate life as president and First lady, she welcomed us to the world stage with extraordinary generosity. It was sort of generosity and consideration that left a mark in my daughters’ lives that’s still there. The Queen was an excellent listener, she had a genuine curiosity, although she was impatient to get to the point…The combination of a sense of duty and a clear understanding of her role as symbol for a nation and as the carrier of a certain set values combined with a very human quality of kindness and consideration; I think that’s what made her so loved not just in Great Britain but around the world.”

 

A retired General who called her Mum broke down in tears recounting his interaction with Queen Elizabeth. He said: “My whole being wanted to be there,” that is at the funeral. From the clergy to dignitaries and from dignitaries to the ordinary people. They were united in grief and love over memories they shared of the departed monarch! The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, referred to what he called the Queen’s warmth and affection and her 70 years of accumulated wisdom. “Few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen for her…Leaders of loving service are still rare. But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten… We will all face the merciful judgment of God: We can all share the queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership. Hers was “service in life, hope in death.” Laudatory words such as “She represents the hope of the present and the future,” filled the air waves.

Correspondents’ notepads carried words, phrases and sentences noted for their robustness of language. Consider the following for example in describing the funeral: An extra-ordinary day; a historic day; record breaking moments. The most colourful in the world. Unforgettable! Many were at the funeral to learn the meaning of service. Many consider her as our forever queen! The most colourful in the world. A Queen for all Ages. The Dean of the Westminster Church, Dr. Hoyle said: “We now honour her extraordinary grace and strength. She lived through long years of changes with us and was utterly steadfast. Her integrity and her dignity have seen us weather the most serious national and international storms. She set at the heart of our national life her own character: a devotion to the principle, not power; to service, not self. She believed in a common life governed by justice and law, she had profound faith and a real hope. It is that character, and not mere personality, which we honour today.” A clergyman said she led the nation in 70 turbulent years. She was uncomplicated and profound in faith. Her duties in this world were fulfilled …and she was headed for “her dwelling in Heavenly Jerusalem.” She was a passing glimpse of history filed away forever. The Dean of the Westminster church said the funeral was in remembrance of an extra-ordinary life in service. She was the last of two guiding figures. There was special relationship between the Queen and the public. Her calm and dignified presence gave confidence. Some of the ordinary mourners were reported to have described her as “a bridge between generations; one monarch, 15 PMs” She would be remembered for showing to the Britons, “where we live, how we live and who we are; and one whose “era brought about mass consumerism.”

 

The queen’s eight grandchildren kept vigil over her coffin. Two of them, Princess Beatrice and Eugene paying personal and moving tributes to the Queen said: “Goodbye our dearest Grannie. It has been the honour of our lives to have been your granddaughters and we are so very proud of you.”

The newspapers were at their beats at the state funeral. Los Angeles Times described it as “an exercise in tradition, respect and national unity rarely seen in modern times.” It went on: “The largest bell at Westminster Abbey tolled in the note of D once a minute for 96 minutes, starting around 9:20 a.m. London time and marking each year of the queen’s 96-year life. Later, Heathrow Airport suspended all flights for a half-hour so no air traffic noise disrupted the two minutes of silence at the end of the state funeral.” According to an online report, some of the eight ballbearers had to be recalled home from Iraq when the passing away of the Queen was announced. The major newspapers used the pictures of the coffin on which were flowers and pall bearers generously, allowing the photographs to speak by themselves. The headlines were in subdued solemnity, with many editorialising. The Financial Times, for example, adopted a quote from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement: “People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer;” The Telegraph: “An outpouring of love;” The Sun: “God bless the Queen;” on the front page and on the back: “We sent her victorious;” The Mirror: “Until we meet again” at the bottom of page one; ” Times of London: “Carried to her rest;” The Express: “God rest our Queen” on the front page and “God save the King” on the back page; and The Guardian: “The final farewell.”

 

It is to be expected that many would be wondering why the Queen’s funeral was so special, so unique that it attracted such huge crowds from many parts of the world who wanted to pay respects. An online report said that queue in Edinburgh was about 14 kilometres long. In London area it was put at 3.5 miles long, people moving one after another. The figure together with that of those who lined the route on Monday rose to 5 miles of people waving and dropping flowers at the flag-draped and lead-lined coffin being driven past. Those not along the route had filed calmly wanting to catch a glimpse of the queen lying in state before the queues were closed on Monday morning. Audience throughout the world was estimated at 4 billion. There were public viewing centres mounted for those who could not make it to Winsor. Joe Biden described the funeral as “the biggest state funeral for decades.” A correspondent television correspondent said it was the largest gathering of world leaders ever seen; an “unprecedented gathering of world leaders.” What was it that pulled such multitude to bid the queen farewell? A correspondent said she had a special relationship between her and the public. Her calm and dignified presence gave confidence, he said. Across many people simply said: “Thank you,” as the casket was being driven to King George chapel.

In 1952 the then Princess Elizabeth was crowned the Queen after the Act of Settlement of 1701 was invoked. And the text of the proclamation read to anoint her Queen goes as follows as contained in the work Government in Great Britain, The Empire and The Commonwealth by L.W. White and W.D. Hussey: “Whereas it has pleased Almighty God to call to His mercy our late Sovereign Lord King George V1, of blessed and glorious memory, by whose Decease the Crown is solely and rightfully come to the high and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.

 

“We, therefore, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm, being here assisted with His late Majesty’s Privy Council, with other Principal Gentlemen of Quality, with the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of London, do now hereby with one Voice and Consent of Tongue and Heart publish and proclaim, That the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary is now, by the death of our late Sovereign of happy memory, become Queen Elizabeth 11 by the Grace of God, Queen of this Realm, and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith to whom Her Lieges do acknowledge all Faith and constant obedience with humble Affection, beseeching God by whom Kings and Queens do reign, to bless the Royal Princess, Elizabeth 11 with long and happy Years to reign over us. God Save the Queen.

“By the Royal Titles Act, 1953, the royal title of the United Kingdom now is: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”

When Prince Charles assumed office, he was proclaimed the King immediately, within barely 48 hours, without allowing any vacuum on the Throne. This is part of the reform Queen Elizabeth 11 brought about during her long reign. All the rigmarole is boiled down. During Barack Obama’s visit, the secret service had advised in advance his wife Michelle to sit in front of the car conveying the Queen. Obama was to be in another vehicle. When the convoy was to set out, the Queen noticed that Michelle was going to sit in the front. She objected and invited her to sit by her side at the back, describing the regulation as awkward and outdated.

There are 13 Queens in the world today, although with only one as Head of State. The remaining ones are Queens by marriage and are consorts to the Kings. The only world renowned Queen was Queen Elizabeth 11. This position is an invitation to contemplation in the light of higher knowledge—In The Light of Truth. Why were nations and peoples falling upon themselves to obtain a mere nod from the queen of England? I will start from the Name: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. Each human being is the name he or she bears. In other words, there are no accidents in our appellations no matter how much thought or calculation goes into coming up with a name for a new born child. It must strike us that in the name are contained Elizabeth, Alexandra and Mary! What radiations does each of the names sought to bring to bear on the Queen, and then a combination of them to give her life direction? (Food for thought!). When the question is thrown into our face: What is in a name? Of course, everything is in a name even when a man bears Mr. Green or Mr. Brown. Otherwise, why do we all take umbrage at our names being mis-spelt or wrongly mispronounced? Even Mr. Stone will protest making light of his name or when it is wrongly spelt. Do we know the tones that ring out of a name and the rays it emits? There is a picture and conception arising from a name. The name rings deep down each human being. I recall in his first coming on 31 December, 1983, Buhari wasted no time in firing letters to editors that he was not Mohammed Buhari but Muhammadu Buhari! Do I need to say more? (Food for thought!). In what vibrational waves of numbers did Queen Elizabeth swing—her birthday, the number of years which is 70 she spent on the throne which most say were glorious. Many testified to her life of selfless service, warmth, grace and strength; that she was a bridge between generations. And what with the crest of the waves under which she exited from this earth on 08 September, 2022! The premonition she had which made her to journey to the quiet of her holiday resort, Balmoral Castle in Scotland!

 

A highly esteemed lady sent this to this column at the weekend: “The Queen! What a queen, what a life! What a departure! What an endowment of Grace from Above!”

The funeral was with the unaccustomed colour, polish, orderliness, precision, artistry, beauty, uniqueness in march synchronisation, and grandeur, waving of flags, and class, all blowing the mind.

(The exploration of the Queen’s life to be concluded next week).

The umbrella body for the emancipation and independence of the South West geopolitical zone, Yoruba Nation, has said it will not throw its weight behind the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.

Prof. Banji Akintoye is the President of Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO) and leader of Yoruba Self-Determination Movement (YSDM) made this known in recent interview with select journalists.


Prof. Akintoye insists that the agitation for Yoruba Nation won’t stop and it would be achieved before the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

He noted that the movement is not against the ambition of Tinubu because it’s his right to aspire to the highest elective office in the land but the objectives of the Yoruba nation cause are at variance with his ambition.

He said “Our attitude is this, our big brother, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is struggling to become the president of Nigeria, there is nothing wrong with that. But we would not because of him collapse our struggle for the Yoruba nation, just as we cannot ask him to collapse his own campaign for the Yoruba nation. So, we have here two parallel lines in the same country, among the same people. What we handling the Yoruba self-determination struggle must do is to be thoughtful, competent, and proper in the ways we handle matters. We don’t believe we will be in Nigeria in 2023. And by the grace of God, we are not going to be in Nigeria in 2023.

“So, we don’t hurt our brother who wants to become president of Nigeria and he must not try to hurt us. We won’t try to hurt him. We have developed very sophisticated ways of getting messages to our youth across Yorubaland. If they are going on a rally, they have a blueprint in their mind. If the police say ‘don’t stand where you are standing. Do your rally there’. Then, leave the place. Police are not our enemies. They are young men like us, who were looking for jobs, and who got the job of policemen. They have nothing against us and we have nothing against them. So, don’t ever fight the police. And you will never find Yoruba boys fighting the police or the military. We have educated our young people that much. So, it is the same thing with our brethren who want to become one thing or the other through elections in Nigeria in 2023. The boys who want the Yoruba self-determination movement will never hurt the campaign of these our kinsmen. So, what we are asking for is that the campaign of these our kinsmen must not attempt to hurt the Yoruba self-determination struggle. The two streams must flow freely and leave it to our people to decide.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested one Hassan Babangida, for alleged criminal conspiracy, employment scam and forgery.

Hassan was arrested in Kano on alleged fraudulent claims of being an employment agent.

EFCC arrests man who collected N15m for fake government job


The suspect claimed he could secure jobs for applicants in different federal ministries and parastatals.

EFCC Head of Media, Wilson Uwujaren announced his arrest in a statement on Wednesday.

Hassan allegedly defrauded an applicant, Usman Rilwan, of N14,950,000 in the guise of getting a paid job.

Rilwan informed the anti-graft commission that he paid the suspect the money as “facilitation fee” to “process” the job.

Hassan allegedly issued his victim an appointment letter which was later discovered to be fake.

Uwujaren added that the suspect will be charged to court after investigations end.

Only someone devoid of humanity wouldn’t have been moved by the heartbreaking story of the 49-year-old widow, Dorothy Dike and her son, Osinachi Ndukwe. Last week, they wept profusely as their vehicle (and the family’s only means of livelihood) was publicly auctioned. The Lagos State Taskforce auctioned 134 confiscated vehicles at the event and defended their action by stating that 80 per cent of pedestrians knocked down by hit and run drivers on Lagos roads, especially in the morning hours, were victims of motorists who drove against traffic. According to the Chairman of the Task Force, Shola Jejeloye, “Some of the supposed victims who pleaded for their vehicles to be auctioned to them were serial and notorious one-way defaulters. One of them was the man who came with his mother (widow) to reclaim his vehicle. He was arrested sometime in May for driving against traffic all the way from Oshodi to Mile 2 and even assaulted the officers trying to arrest him by biting off the officer’s finger. He was charged accordingly, and he spent three months in Badagry Correctional Facility and his vehicle impounded.” Jejeloye also listed cases of people who had been killed due to the recklessness of one-way drivers.

Notwithstanding the explanation, public opinion is swayed against the Lagos State government on this issue. Last Saturday, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 general election, Olajide Adediran (popularly called Jandor), visited the family and gifted them an undisclosed amount of money as a relief gesture. Although Jandor can be accused of political opportunism, especially in this season, I am delighted that the poor widow received the assistance. Jandor also spoke well at the occasion by stating that he does not condone traffic offences. What he opposes are impunities: “A situation whereby markets were announced closed just because one individual or two committed a sin” and laws that take away peoples means of livelihood simply on account of traffic infractions.

 

For me, the real issue is not that the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) is enforcing their law, however draconian it may seem. But rather that such an exercise is selective in Nigeria. I have seen the photograph of the confiscated vehicles put up for sale by the Task Force and can hazard a profile of those who own them. While I will never use Whataboutism to excuse infringement of the law or query the Lagos authority for doing their job, it is also a notorious fact that we have managed to create two jurisprudences in our country: one for the rich and connected and the other, for the poor. If you belong to the latter category, no matter how minor your infractions, you will be punished severely. On the other hand, the rich and the powerful who have the means to secure the services of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) are most likely to get away with any crime, however heinous. No society advances with such dichotomy in the application of the law.

I dealt with this issue seven years ago in a two-part series titled, ‘Crimes and Punishment in Nigeria’. For the benefit of readers, I have merged the two pieces and abridged the text to illustrate the class character of the administration of justice in Nigeria. I commend it to readers before I conclude with a few words.

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Because I would be driving to the airport by morning and I was not sure the fuel in my car would take me there, I decided to patronise the black market. I drove to the road linking Asokoro to Garki by Area 11 where many young “fuel merchants” were waiting. After much haggling, I eventually struck a bargain with three boys who agreed to accept N5,000 for a jerry can of 30 litres. That would translate into around N167 per litre (as against the official N87 per litre at the time) but a fair deal in the circumstance.

To avoid policemen who were trailing them, the boys begged me to drive into a poorly lit corner of the road. Although a bit apprehensive, I nonetheless felt that the boys were mere hustlers and not necessarily criminals out to harm me, so I obliged their request. When they eventually appeared with their jerry cans of fuel, there was a sense of unease about them that worried me. “Why are you looking scared?” I asked. One of them responded: “The police people are always after us and they have arrested many of our people.” As they were speaking, a pick-up van drove in almost from nowhere as seven gun-wielding policemen jumped out of the vehicle to engage the boys in what became a hot pursuit in different directions. Inside the police vehicle, I saw no fewer than 30 jerry cans of different sizes, filled with petrol which I presumed were seized from ‘similar operations’.

 

I pondered on what I just witnessed. Assuming what the boys were doing was criminal, how many of such people have been arraigned in court in Nigeria? Since many of them are arrested every day, it means that their cases usually end up in police stations where they either pay to regain freedom or are dumped there to swell the list of detained people. A corollary to that is the issue of the “exhibit”. What happens to the fuel usually seized from those boys? Do the police have the right to deploy “proceeds of crime” for their own use, if we assume that selling fuel at the black market is a crime in Nigeria?

That now brings me to the most important issue. As I watched the drama and waited, I expected to be accosted by the policemen. If by selling fuel at black market the boys were committing a crime, the implication would be that the person also buying such product should be deemed to be committing a crime also. But the policemen didn’t bother about me as they entered their vehicle to wait. After a while when it occurred to me that they would not leave, I had to drive off.

 

Now, as I reflect on that incident and the enthusiasm with which the policemen pursued those boys, I cannot but wonder about how we have come to a situation in which the laws (including the ones that may not be in any statutes book) are made only for the poor. The message from the episode was simple: While those boys were pursued like common felons, I (as the big man in the scenario) was left alone because I was deemed to be above the law, even if the crime was an invented one. That unfortunately depicts the story of Nigeria. And the problem goes even beyond the police to the courts.

Indeed, nothing demonstrates this as graphically as two contrasting verdicts delivered within an interval of five days in January 2013—one in Abeokuta, Ogun State and the other in Abuja. In Abeokuta, a magistrate court sentenced a 49-year-old man by name Mustapha Adesina to two years in prison for stealing vegetables valued at N5,000. But five days later in Abuja, a former director of the Police Pension Board, Mr. John Yusuf, who admitted to stealing N2 billion in the N32.8 billion police pension scam, was sentenced to two-year imprisonment with an option of N750,000 fine. From media reports, the man practically dipped his hands into his babanriga, paid his fine and was driven home in a SUV, perhaps with some drummers in tow!

 

Meanwhile, a Kado Grade 1 Area Court, Abuja, last week sentenced a 27-year-old man, Sunday Vincent, to three weeks imprisonment for “wandering” around the streets of Abuja without any satisfactory explanation. The prosecutor, Zeerah Doglass, had told the court that the convict was arrested by a police patrol team and that the offence is punishable under Section 198 of the Penal Code. In sentencing Vincent, the judge, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq, gave him an option to pay a fine of N3,000 which the accused didn’t have.

A concerned citizen who posted the story on a listserv to which I belong sought our intervention and a member immediately detailed a lawyer from her firm to follow. This was the feedback from the lawyer as reported back to us: “I visited the Area Court in Kado where I confirmed that Sunday Vincent was convicted for the offence of wandering, and he is at the moment serving his 21-day term in Keffi prison. I further learnt that the Presiding Magistrate is ill and that we will need him to sign a ‘Release Order’ which would be taken to Keffi Prison after the payment of the N3,000 fine. Furthermore, according to the court officials, if I pay the fine, we might be unable to get the Magistrate (due to his ill health) to sign the Release Order until the convict serves out his term. The fine would have been paid yesterday, but the revenue officer whose schedule is to receive such payments and issue receipts wasn’t on seat.”

Let us begin from the police officers who arrested the man for wandering and had to detain him for a week, apparently because he (Vincent) could not “bail” himself out. Then you have the “diligent” prosecutor for whom the less said the better. And now to the judge who could apply neither discretion nor compassion. And finally, we have the court revenue collector whose dereliction of duty ensures that Vincent cannot get justice even if he meets the condition for freedom. There is a way in which the actions of all the dramatis personae in the fate that befalls the “wandering” Vincent tell a tragic but compelling story of justice administration in our country.

 

Two years ago, a Port Harcourt Magistrate Court sentenced a 40-year-old man, James Okosun, to six months imprisonment without any option of fine for stealing a Nokia phone handset valued at N2,500. The judge also ordered that the convict be made to serve with hard labour and given 10 strokes of cane by the prosecuting police officer, Sergeant Ikosi Omanoje, before being whisked to prison. In contrast, Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, last month sentenced five Filipinos and four Bangladesh nationals to five years imprisonment each, after convicting them for stealing 3,423,097 metric tons of Nigerian crude oil. I enjoin readers to do the financial arithmetic of that heist before reading the judgement that follows.

“The case of the prosecution is as clear as the daylight,” Justice Buba held, before he added: “It is people like the convicts that have made Nigeria a laughingstock in the eyes of the world. The court must send a strong signal that Nigeria is a nation, not a nation of booty. It is not right for either Nigerians or foreign nationals to deny this country its God-given natural resources through illegal use.” At the end, the “strong signal” for the accused nine foreigners involved in such a large-scale organized crime still carried an option of fine: N20 million!

ENDNOTE: As I stated at the beginning of this intervention, I do not blame the Lagos State Government for attempting to restore a measure of order on roads within the city. But I hoped to make the point that too often punishment does not correlate with crime in Nigeria so we can draw a few lessons from the experience of the widow and her son. I am sure that is what drives public outrage on the issue. One, to the extent that equality before the law is fundamental to building a just, inclusive and egalitarian society, enforcement is good only to the extent that it is blind to the status of the individuals involved. It is also a prerequisite for peace and stability. Two, since deterrence rests on the principle that criminal penalties do not just punish violators, but also discourage others from committing similar offenses, our society will be better if examples are also made of the Nigerian ‘Big Men’ who have scant regard for the law. Three, laws must not become a not-so-subtle revenue generating gambit in which touts are deployed to the roads as government enforcers, as we see in Lagos and many other states across Nigeria. Four, those who interpret laws that deal with what ordinarily are minor infractions should be compassionate and responsible. Five, in a milieu where driving against traffic and bullying innocent road users have become a status symbol for political leaders, most of whom exhibit no discipline when it comes to public conduct, how can anybody respect those who enforce traffic rules selectively?

 

On the whole, in circumstances in which laws that guide the conduct of all citizens should apply only to the poor of our society, it is difficult for the government to earn the trust of the people. And without that trust, we cannot build a new Nigeria.

A Majestic Exit 

I arrived the United States in the early hours of Monday to participate in the Nigerian International Economic Partnership Forum (jointly organized by the federal government and the African Business Roundtable) holding today. Despite the exhaustion of a long flight, I stayed awake throughout the burial ceremony of the late Queen Elizabeth II, beamed live on television networks. It was worth the trouble. While no one should discount the facts of history on our continent, especially regarding slavery, colonialism and the role that may have been played by the British monarchy, I confess to being an admirer of the late Queen. Simply on account of her personal discipline, strength of character and fidelity to duty.

To be sure, Queen Elizabeth II was a ceremonial player in the leadership structure of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth which she headed. Yet for several decades, she remained one of the most powerful people in the world and an unparalleled icon of tradition and culture. And she understood the power of symbolism. In 1986, (36 years ago) in Sydney, Australia, at a ceremony to celebrate the restoration of ‘Queen Victoria Building’ named after her great-great grandmother, she wrote a sealed letter with an instruction and gave it to the Mayor of the city: “On a suitable day to be selected by you in the year 2085 AD, would you please open this envelope and convey to the citizens of Sydney my message to them.”

That letter remains sealed in a vault for the next 63 years. And with her death, the daily diary she kept throughout her reign would also not be opened for another 100 years! I don’t know a better way to preserve a legacy across different generations.

Since her passage two weeks ago, I have read numerous obituary tributes, but none captured her essence better than the one by Sarah Lyall in New York Times: “Queen Elizabeth II was an analog celebrity in a digital age, perhaps the most famous, and famously inscrutable, woman in a world more inclined toward oversharing reality TV stars and internet influencers. Discreet, reserved, impassive of expression and reticent of manner, she embodied traditional British values and was as remarkable for the things she did not do — in service of her sense of duty and self-discipline — as for the things she did. Even before she became queen at the impossibly young age of 25 — the newly elevated King Charles III her son, is 73 — Elizabeth set the tone for her reign by declaring, in effect, that the job was bigger than the person. Most Britons — indeed, most people — have never lived in a world without Elizabeth. There are many who questioned or reviled the institution but still admired the queen. She was a comforting figure, somehow both cozily maternal and majestically remote.”

 

On Tuesday, reports of her burial were the lead story in all the American national newspapers with several pages devoted to coverage and photographs. The New York Times headline says it all: “With sadness and uncertainty, Britons close an Elizabethan age”. To the Washington Post, she was a “seemingly timeless queen” while USA Today remembered her as “A woman who made history. A woman who—in dying at age 96 after 70 years on the throne—was history.”

Even though available reports indicate that Queen Elizabeth II played a role in planning her own burial, I doubt she envisaged it would be as grand. When you think of the genuine outpouring of grief not only in the United Kingdom but across the world, the sacrifices made by thousands of people from diverse backgrounds—David Beckham waited 13 hours in the queue at Westminster Hall—just to pass before her (closed) coffin as a mark of respect, and the number of leaders who congregated in London for the ceremonies on Monday, one can only conclude that the world may never witness a royal like Queen Elizabeth II again.

SOME Northern elders have called out a Katsina-based activist, Shehu Mahdi, over what they termed a provocative statement against the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in the 2023 general election.

A video of the statement which has gone viral captured the ethnic champion advising Christians in the North against voting for a presidential candidate of southern extraction in the election.


In the video, already in the social media space, the Katsina-born activist was seen urging Northern Christians not to vote for Christian Candidates from the South, particularly the Labour Party, LP, candidate, Mr Peter Obi, purporting that a vote for him would amount to a vote for Biafra, and a secessionist.

Madhi further claimed that Northerners – both Christians and Muslims – are being discriminated against in the South East, South West, and South-South, hence his despicable outing.

But in an angry reaction to the development, the Coalition of Northern Elders For Peace and National Unity, CNEFPNU, described the disposition of Mahdi as “distasteful, provocative, and capable of inciting ethnoreligious tension”.

While insisting that the outing constituted hate speech and fake news, the elders called on relevant security agencies to arrest, interrogate, and where culpability is established, prosecute him, to serve as deterrence to others, who may contemplate such an infamous path especially as political parties would soon commence their campaigns.


In a statement signed by the National Coordinator, Prof Abdulkadir Mohammed Gummi, and National Secretary, Hajiya Hadiza M. Gwazo, the elders maintained that the position of Madhi was a brazen attempt to incite Christians against Muslims in the North on one hand, and Northerners against Southerners on the other.

“As responsible Northern elders, we view the video by Shehu Mahdi, as a deliberate attempt to instigate ethnoreligious tension in the country, hence our call on relevant security agencies to take him in immediately for questioning.


“We further enjoin our people to disregard the provocative comments made by Mahdi, even as we urge them to vote for presidential candidates of their choice, devoid of ethnic, religious, or political consideration.

“May we also clarify that having followed Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, for a long time now, we can say, without equivocation, that he is a detribalised, and patriotic Nigerian, who has the interest of the ordinary people at heart”, the statement read in part.

According to the patriots, by calling out Northern Christians and urging them not to vote for Obi, Madhi has inadvertently demonstrated that Christians in the North should be held accountable, should an unpopular candidate from the South emerge as President in 2023.

The statement reads: “This would mean that Christians from the North would automatically become targets of disparaging remarks and violence.

“Secondly, Mahdi’s charge is laced with a lot of tribal and religious slur aimed at causing disaffection between Northerners and Southers, Northerners against Igbos and Northerners against Southeast in general.

“In an election period and in a period when Northern Nigeria is going through a very turbulent period, what the North needs is unity in face of all odds and not a campaign of calumny against anyone or region.

“As far as the coalition of Northern Elders Forum for Peace and Unity is concerned, Peter Obi was duly certified and cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), the Department of State Security ( DSS ) as a Nigerian who is eligible to contest for any elective office.

“INEC which cleared Obi did not say that the Labour Party Flag bearer is a Biafran. The DSS did not come out to say Obi is from Biafra and these organisations are headed by Northerners. Nigerians should be asking Madhi to tell them how he came about his allegations against Obi.

“Mr Peter Obi is running to be President of Nigeria and not President of Biafra or Igbos or Southern Nigeria. His ambition according to him is to guarantee economic prosperity and security for all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic, tribal, or religious affiliation.

“The Peter Obi campaign is broad-based and all-inclusive. His track record of inclusivity is not in doubt. It is callous for anyone to accuse Peter Obi of running to represent the interest of Biafra. Peter Obi is running to represent the interest of all Nigerians”.

It was the contention of the Forum that the current insecurity, untold hardship, and economic deprivation, among other challenges facing Nigerians; with the North worst hit, can only be truly addressed by a visionary and committed leader like Mr Peter Obi.

Therefore, it would be foolhardy for anyone to tell Northerners to vote on a tribal, religious or regional basis again.

“We as a group would encourage Northerners to scrutinise the economic blueprints of all the Presidential candidates and then choose who has the competence to bring about a positive change, for us in the forum we took our stand with the wave of a new Nigeria that’s about to be birthed, a position we will make public soon.

“Similarly, Northerners should interrogate the achievements of all the contestants before choosing who should lead them. What Northerners should not do this time around, is to vote on religious or regional lines as Madhi is advocating”, the statement concluded.

Suspected fraudsters, during a three-day cyber-attack, have hacked a customer’s account domiciled in an old generation bank and fraudulently transferred N523,337,100 from the account to 18 different accounts in the same bank.

The spokesperson for the Police Special Fraud Unit in Ikoyi, Lagos State, SP Eyitayo Johnson, in a statement on Wednesday, said the suspects subsequently transferred the money from the 18 accounts into 225 other accounts domiciled in 22 other banks and financial institutions.

He said the coordinated cyber-attack was carried out on Saturday, April 23, till the early hours of Monday April 25, 2022, before business opened, adding that two suspects had been arrested in connection to the crime.

Johnson said, “The legal section of the Police Special Fraud Unit in Ikoyi-Lagos, headed by CSP E. A. Jackson, has successfully obtained an order of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, for the preservation/forfeiture/attachment of a net sum of N523,337,100 fraudulently transferred by Internet fraudsters who hacked a customer’s account domiciled in one of the old-generation banks and posted the funds into 18 different accounts in the same bank before transmitting same to 225 other accounts in 22 banks/financial institutions.

“In the course of the investigation, the sum of N160,287,071.47 was recovered from different banks; with two suspects arrested, while operatives are following other leads in order to apprehend the remaining members of the syndicate. The suspects will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”


In another development, Johnson said the legal section of the unit charged one Sikiru Olayinka along with his company, Excampo Nigeria Limited, to the Federal High Court, Ikoyi-Lagos, for offences bordering on fraudulent conversion and stealing of $123,000.00 being money wrongly transferred into his company’s domiciliary account on September 5, 2018.

He said, “On receipt of the funds into his account, Sikiru Olawale, within hours, quickly visited the bank and transferred $120,000.00 in two tranches into accounts of his cronies. The bank made concerted efforts to recover the funds in order to channel same to the rightful account but Sikiru Olayinka refused and frustrated these efforts and continued to dissipate the money contrary to the provisions of Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 1991, and the Failed Banks Act, 1994.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, September 15, 2022, Johnson said the PSFU arraigned one James Abidemi and his company, Diamondsmith De-Great Universal Petroleum Corporation, and others at large, before the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos for conspiracy and obtaining the sum of N396,999,080.00 by false pretences, fraudulent conversion and stealing.


He said, “The complainant is a consulting firm with prime focus in assisting clients to source and render payment services in foreign exchange for goods and services around the world.

“In furtherance to the memorandum of understanding between the consulting firm and the suspect, the suspect’s company, Diamondsmith De-Great Universal Petroleum, received the aforesaid sum in tranches, between May 23 to 28, 2022.


“The money was meant for the purchase of $688,000.00 at an exchange rate of N577 per US Dollar and was supposed to remit the same as $250,000.00, $325,000.00, $100,000.00 and $13,000.00 to specified beneficiaries in mainland China and Hong Kong.”

Johnson said the suspect provided fake telexes as proof of remittance to foreign business partners of the complainant while the money was actually diverted to another member of the syndicate, a banker based in Ghana, who dispersed the funds to several other accomplices.

“Consequently, the PSFU has solicited the cooperation of INTERPOL to apprehend the remaining members of the syndicate that are outside Nigeria.

“The Commissioner of Police, SFU, Anyasinti Nneka, has advised banks and financial institutions on the need to increase their cyber-security surveillance, conduct routine background checks on staff who have login privileges that could be compromised to make banks porous to cyber-attacks.

“She equally enjoined the public on the need to investigate sources of unexpected inflows into their accounts. Where such funds are found to have been wrongly credited, the recipient should cooperate with their banks and make conscious efforts to reverse or re-route the same. Utilising such funds is a criminal offence,” the statement said.

The National Industrial Court, NIC, in Abuja, has directed the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to suspend its over seven-month old strike action.

The court issued the order in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Polycarp Hamman on Wednesday.


The ruling followed an application the Federal Government filed for an interlocutory order to compel ASUU which embarked on strike action since February 14, to return to the classroom.

FG’s lawyer, Mr. James Igwe had prayed the court to order the striking varsity lecturers to in the interim, return to work, pending the determination of the substantive suit before the court.

He maintained that the matter was not only urgent, but of a great national interest as millions of students have been at home for over seven months.


“Sections 47 of the Trade Dispute Act, TDA, gives your lordship the power to direct that no worker should continue to embark on strike pending when the applications are heard and determined”, Igwe argued.

He contended that under section 18(1)E of the TDA, employees, could not continue a strike action, when a matter is already referred to the industrial court for adjudication.

Igwe said there was need for the matter to be expeditiously determined to enable university students to return to school, adding that failure to call off the strike would cause irreparable damage to not only the students but also to the nation.

According to him, since the dispute between FG and lectures is already before the court for adjudication, it would be proper and in the interest of justice for the strike to be suspended.

In his ruling, Justice Hamman held that the application was meritorious and deserved to be granted by the court.


While dismissing objections ASUU raised through its lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, the court held that the strike action was detrimental to public university students that cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.

“The balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant.

“I hold that this application is meritorious and this application is granted”, Justice Hamman ruled.

The court, thereafter, issued an order, restraining ASUU, “whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action, pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed.”

It however declined to award cost against ASUU as FG had demanded.

It will be recalled that ASUU had embarked on an initial four weeks strike to press home its demands that included an improved funding for universities, as well as a review of salaries for lecturers.

It subsequently extended the strike action indefinitely on August 29, following the breakdown of negotiations between the union and the government.

While ASUU accused FG of not being sincere in its negotiation, the government, through the Ministry of Labour and Employment, approached the court to compel the striking lecturers to return to the classroom.

Babachir Lawal, former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), says the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to field a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2023 presidential election is a plan to divide the north.

Lawal said this on Wednesday in an interview with ARISE TV.

His comment comes hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the final list of presidential and national assembly candidates for the 2023 general election.

Bola Tinubu from the south-west and Kashim Shettima from the north-east, both Muslims, are the APC presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively.


Commenting on the development, Lawal said northern Christian politicians remain opposed to the same-faith ticket by the APC.

“The introduction of a Muslim-Muslim ticket by the APC or same-faith ticket is a wicked plan to further create divisions within the north. We try as leaders of societies to live as brothers and sisters, but out of the blue, this demonic proposition just came out of the blue,” he said.

“For all lovers of unity in this country, in the north in particular where we are most affected, this ticket must never succeed. And we will make sure we defeat it in such a resounding manner that nobody in his right senses will ever think about it again, at least in the near future for our political journey in Nigeria.


“So, we are set on it and we are determined to kill it. Our people are mobilised, and our people are ready for the election.

“I and Dogara alone aren’t the only ones involved in this. Indeed, we are leaders of groups of about 40 leading Christian politicians in the north. We started work on this years back when we suspected that if a Muslim emerges from the south as the candidate for any of the political parties, there is a risk of what has happened that will happen.

“Now, there are two issues here. First and foremost, we are politicians and our job is to win elections and form government. Second, when we looked at this ticket and decided principally, it excludes northern Christians from governance. It will not be wise for us to hand ourselves and exclude ourselves from the incoming government.

“So, while we plan that the same faith ticket of APC should fail, we also believe that we should align with one of the leading political parties that has the chance of wining.


“Our strategy is we will not just waste our votes because we want to protest the same faith ticket of APC. We will like to partner with another group that is more sensible to the Nigerian situation and realises that Nigeria needs harmony, unity and peace.”

Earlier, Lawal had said that the same-faith ticket issue will be resisted with prayers and permanent voter cards (PVCs).

Former Aviation Minister and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Femi Fani-Kayode, has advised Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike to join forces with the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Fani-Kayode gave the advise on Wednesday via his Facebook page, in a statement, titled,

“A WORD FOR THE WIKE GROUP: LEAVE THE CARCASS AND STAND WITH US.


He said the People’s Democratic Party, PDP is no longer a national party and does not even pretend to have respect for Southerners.

He wrote, “Honestly my sympathies, heart and pity go out to the Wike group. They are being treated like filth by their own party. They literally had no choice but to pull out of the Atiku campaign.


“Yet I saw all this coming long ago. Why do you think I left the PDP in the first place? It is a party that is incapable of rewarding loyalty and keeping its word. It is a party that begins and ends in the North and every Southerner and Middle Belter that is still there is nothing but a quisling and a stooge.


“It is a party that does not believe in or understand the importance of building bridges of peace, love and understanding between the North and the South and ensuring fairness, justice and equity for all.

“It is a party that does nothing but insult and seek to marginalise and destroy it’s perceived detractors and enemies and putting Nigeria in its hands would mean the end of our country within a matter of months.

“This is not the PDP of OBJ, UMYA or GEJ. This is a dying and decaying fly and maggot infested carcass and a pitiful shadow and shell of its former self.

“A party with no morals or decency that treats those that stood by it, helped it and fought for it over the years with contempt and disdain.

“A party that uses and dumps. A party that seeks to deride, misrepresent and humiliate all those that once stood in the trenches with them and fought fir their cause.


“A party which has close and covert links with the terrorists that are killing, maiming and kidnapping our people.

“A party which is powered and controlled by hidden forces that believe they own Nigeria and that have not only sought to destabilise our nation but have also unleashed murder, mayhem, hell and terror against our people.

“A party that does not want peace but delights in conflict, rancour, division, hegemony and war.

“A party some of whose leaders and members are behind much of the insurgency, bloodshed and mass murder in the North West and parts of the North Central and particularly in Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger, Nassarawa and Katsina.

“A party that has done nothing but humiliate it’s former President and flagbearer for the 2015 presidential election, President Goodluck Jonathan, over the last seven years and who did not even see fit to give him a place or a role in their Presidential Campaign Council.

“A party whose National Chairman is little better than a haughty peacock and who is so vain, puffed up, conceited and deluded that he believes he is more important than all the Presidents on the African continent put together.

“The only thing they know how to do is use religion and ethnicity to fight. They know nothing else. They pit Nigerians against Nigerians and seek to divide us rather than bring us together.

“They do not care about progress and they do not even know the meaning of the word: they only care about their pockets.

“The only way forward for the Wike group is to come out of the shadows and support Asiwaju for the presidential campaign and get their supporters to vote for his candidacy. It is a matter of honor.

“They took everything from them including their self-respect and dignity. What more do they have left and what are they waiting for?

“If Atiku wins the election he will come after them with all he has got and utterly crush and destroy them.

“Even if Atiku or Okowa themselves are not interested in doing so the hawks around them like Sule Lamido, Attahiru Bafarawa and Adamu Waziri will ensure this is done.

“For the Wike group the threat is now existential. Each and every one of them has been marked for destruction and humiliation by the new leaders of their party.

“PDP is not only a menace to their own loyal members but a very real and present danger to Nigeria.


“They should be treated with contempt and the shameless club of degenerates and clan of lepers that they are.

“The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP gets messier on Wednesday with a group loyal to Governor Nyesom Wike announcing that they will not be part of the campaign of presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, for the 2023 elections.

“The group, after an all night meeting in the private residence of Wike in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, said they will not participate in the campaign unless Iyorcha Ayu resigned as the chairman of the party.”

“The decision of the group was announced by former Deputy National Chairman of APC, Bode George after the meeting that was held from 7pm on Tuesday, September 20 to past 2am on Wednesday September 21.”