The Federal Government has ordered Turkish Airlines to suspend its operations into Nigeria due to repeated cases of poor passenger treatment by the international carrier.
It gave the directive through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, directing the airline to suspend its operations until it was ready to operate with the right size of aircraft that could transport all passengers with their baggage at the same time.
It was gathered that the government’s directive came as a result of recent cases in which the airline failed to bring in passengers into Nigeria together with their checked-in baggage.
In a letter to the airline by the acting Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Abdullahi Sidi, which was made available by the Federal Ministry of Aviation in Abuja on Thursday, the authority expressed displeasure at the incidents, which it said had been going on for over two weeks.
Sidi said the incidents had become so bad that most recent Turkish Airlines flights arrived in Nigeria without more than 85 per cent of passengers’ baggage on board.
He said, “Our airport authority has been facing a serious crisis controlling the passengers at the airport whenever they arrive without their baggage. This issue has made passengers to carry out several mob actions at our airports and it is a great threat to our airport facilities.
“In view of all these, and a series of meetings held with the Turkish Airlines personnel, which did not yield any solution to this problem, the NCAA is therefore left with no option than to direct Turkish Airlines to suspend its operations into Nigeria until such a time when the airline is ready to operate with the right size of aircraft that can transport all passengers with their baggage at the same time.
“If no remedial action is carried out by your airline, this suspension shall be effective from the 16th of December, 2019.”
Kinsmen of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), have faulted his wife, Aisha, over her Wednesday’s statement, which attacked the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu.
The kinsmen in Daura, in separate exclusive interviews with the Kastina State correspondent of The PUNCH, on Wednesday evening, berated Mrs Buhari for making what they called a purely private family affair, public.
Mrs Buhari, had in the statement on Wednesday morning, said, “It was Garba Shehu, who claimed that the government would not allow the office of the first lady to run. He was later to confirm to one of my aides that he was instructed to say so by Mamman Daura and not the President. This antic attracted the anger of Nigerian women. He didn’t realise the fact that the first lady’s office is a tradition which has become an institution.”
Commenting on the statement by Aisha Buhari, residents of Daura, the home town of the President, said the first lady should have reported the matter to her husband.
Attack on Shehu akin to attacking Buhari – Daura associations
The Chairman of the Coalition of Associations in Daura, Mallam Muhammed Saleh, in an interview with The PUNCH, said Mrs Buhari’s feud with Shehu should be seen as a pure private affair.
He said that the outburst by the wife of the President was not good enough. According to him, attacking Shehu was akin to attacking Buhari.
Saleh said, “I try as much to refrain myself from commenting on the issue as some people are bound to misinterpret whatever one says on the issue. But I need to stress that this is a family affair which should be resolved.
“Attacking Garba Shehu who is the spokesperson for the President is akin to attacking the President himself and I think , this is not good enough. I will urge all of them to resolve any issue at stake privately.”
Aisha is giving wrong impression of her husband – Daura elder
But another elder in Daura, Alhaji Usman Kalgo, said the first lady’s public outburst on Shehu was an insult to Buhari.
Kalgo said, “ If Aisha sees any shortcomings on the part of Garba Shehu or any other person working for her husband, the best person to complain to is her husband and not making the issue public.
“The President knew that Garba Shehu was competent before giving him the job of a spokesman and if there is a feud between Aisha and him or any other person, Aisha should respect her husband. She should report Shehu to her husband and not making it public. By making the issue public, she is giving a wrong impression of her husband, which is not good enough.”
A lawyer, who is an indigene of the town, Ado Lalu, said the wife of the President’s approach of making the issue public would not solve the problem.
Lalu said the feud between the first lady and Shehu or any other person in the Presidency ought to have been resolved behind closed doors.
Lalu said,” Logically, attacking Garba Shehu publicly by the first lady is not good enough. The first lady has a direct access to the President and she could have discussed the issue that concerns her with him. Making her grievances public will not help matters.
“Even if he (President) is busy to attend to her complaints now because of his tight schedule, she will always get time to discuss the issue with the President. There are several ways of making one’s grievances known not by making such public, which will only aggravate matters. This is a strictly private matter and should be settled privately.”
It’s a family affair – Daura emirate
But the Spokesman for the Daura Emirate Council, Mallam Usman Ibrahim, when contacted on the phone, said, “It is a family matter and we don’t speak on family issues.”
It’s a family affair – Emir of Gusau
In Zamfara State, the Emir of Gusau, Alhaji Ibrahim Bello, told The PUNCH through his Protocol Officer, Alhaji Abdulkadir Usman, that the issue was entirely a family affair.
He stated, “It is a family affair; it is not an official issue, as such, I wouldn’t want to talk much about it.”
Before the 2019 elections, the President’s wife had alleged that those who did not contribute to the election of her husband in 2015, were benefiting from the regime.
The crisis between the first lady and Daura’s family worsened in October, when the President’s nephew’s daughter, Fatima, released a video.
Fatima, in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service, admitted that she recorded the video that went viral to provide proof for her parents and security officials about Mrs Buhari’s outburst during an encounter with the first lady.
In an interview with the BBC Hausa Service after her return from Europe in October, Mrs Buhari reacted to the viral video.
She said, “I was the one in the video, those behind me were the security personnel given to protect me, but Mamman Daura’s daughter, Fatima, shot the video in the presence of security officials and everybody. She was laughing at me because my husband said they should vacate the place (Glass House) for my son to occupy.”
Friday’s mega rally by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to welcome Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defectors in Edo State will no longer hold, the Police said on Thursday.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Abubakar directed that the rally be suspended indefinitely for security reasons.
The directive followed the shutting of all schools by the state government and protests by APC youths against the rally.
The rally suspension is until further notice, the IGP said.
In a memo addressed to the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, Mohammed directed the Edo State Commissioner of Police to put apparatuses in place to ensure the rally does not hold.
The memo, a copy of which was made available to journalists during a briefing by Shaibu, also directed the Commissioner of Police to schedule a meeting with parties in the APC crisis to inform them of the order suspending the rally.
The memo, with reference number CB: 2002/IGP.SECPABJ/VOL.172/446 and dated December 12, 2019, was in response to a request made by the Edo State government to the IGP, demanding for the suspension of the rally over security fears.
The memo, signed by ACP Idowu Owohunwa reads: “I am directed by the Inspector General of Police to convey his warmest regards and to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s letter ODG.134/59 of December 12, 2019 on the above-underlined subject.
“In cognisance of the security consequences of the proposed mega rally, I am to confirm that the Inspector-General of Police has directed the Commissioner of Police, Edo State Command, to emplace appropriate security framework that is directed at suspending the rally until further notice.
“He has also been directed to summon a meeting of all parties involved in the political development to engage them towards giving effect to his directives in overriding internal security interest.
“I am to renew the assurances of the highest regards of the Inspector General of Police to Your Excellency, please.”
Asked to react to the IGP’s permission granted to the APC Edo State to hold its mega rally, Shaibu said he needed to acting, being the Acting Governor.
Governor Godwin Obaseki travelled abroad on an official assignment.
The Deputy Governor said: “I had to write as the chief security officer of the state to let him (the IGP) know the situation in Edo State and to inform him.
“In line with the party constitution, the governor is the leader of the party. And if the party that he leads wants to do a rally in his state and he has not authorised it and he is not aware, such rally cannot take place.
“Also, I informed him that the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is suspended from the state APC, does not have the locus to preside even on issue that concerns APC as we speak.
“The IGP has responded to me that based on security situation that I have highlighted, he has directed the Commissioner of Police to put all security in place to suspend that planned rally.”
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has declared a lawmaker representing Maiyama/Koko/Besse Federal Constituency in Kebbi State, Shehu Mohammed, wanted.
A statement posted on the commission’s website by its spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, on Thursday, said Mohammed was wanted for failure to appear before the ICPC in an ongoing investigation against him.
The statement said, “Mohammed is hereby declared wanted by the ICPC for his failure to appear before the commission, for an ongoing investigation against him.
“Mohammed, an indigene of Kebbi State, is currently serving as an honourable member representing the Maiyama/Koko/Besse Federal Constituency in the National Assembly. He was born on June 16, 1978 (41 years old) and is dark in complexion.
“His current address is Wamban Koko Campaign Office, Jega Road, Maiyama, Kebbi State.
“Anyone who has useful information on his whereabouts should report to the ICPC headquarters Abuja or any of the ICPC state offices or the nearest police station, or call the ICPC toll-free lines: 0803-123-0280, 0803-123-0281, 0803-123-0282, 0705-699-0190, 0705-699-0191 and 0800-call ICPC (0800-2255-4272).”
A high court sitting in Yola, presided by Justice Nathan Musa on Thursday jailed two Independent National Electoral Commission staff for 42 years for collecting bribes.
Justice Musa also asked the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the International Police to produce former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to face prosecution over the N362 million she sent to the two convicted INEC staff in order to compromise the 2015 presidential election in Adamawa State.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had brought the case against Ibrahim Mohammed Umar, Sahabo Iya Hamman, both staff of INEC as well as the former Minister of Petroleum for conspiring to defraud the federal government with the intent to compromise the 2015 general elections.
Musa said the court delivered the verdict after due diligence established a conspiracy between the persons, as such he convicted and sentenced the two INEC staff to seven years each on the three counts brought against them by the EFCC.
The judge said he was giving a lenient sentence since the accused were first-term offenders adding that the sentence would run concurrently.
“The offence has a mandatory provision. I’m constrained by the law. They shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment without the option of fine.
” However in view of plea to temper justice with mercy, I will allow the sentence to run concurrently,” he said.
Prominent lawyers, including Mr Femi Falana, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa and Jiti Ogunye, on Wednesday supported the decision of PUNCH to henceforth address the President of the country as Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
But the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr Alex Izinyon, opposed PUNCH’s decision.
The PUNCH, in a front page comment on Wednesday, assessed the President and stated that Buhari, who ruled the country as a military head of state from 1983 to 1985, had failed to “wean himself off his military antecedents.”
A few hours after PUNCH’s comment was published, two presidential aides expressed reservations about the decision to prefix Buhari’s name with Major General.
The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in a statement, said PUNCH’s decision was an indication of freedom of speech in the country.
He stated, “A newspaper says it will henceforth address President Muhammadu Buhari by his military rank of Major General.
“Nothing untoward in it. It is a rank the President attained by dint of hard work before he retired from the Nigerian Army. And today, constitutionally, he is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“All over the world, just as in our country, a large number of retired military officers are now democrats. It does not make those who did not pass through military service better than them.
“Rather than being pejorative, addressing President Buhari by his military rank is another testimony to free speech and freedom of the press, which this administration (or regime, if anyone prefers: it is a matter of semantics) has pledged to uphold and preserve.”
But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, in a separate statement, disagreed with the newspaper for changing the title of the President to Major General. He said a newspaper did not have the power to change the title of a President.
He said PUNCH “never changed President Olusegun Obasanjo’s title from the President to General Obasanjo, despite the latter’s refusal to comply with the Supreme Court judgment ordering him to release N30bn to Lagos State.”
Shehu said when “General Ibrahim Babangida, who wasn’t democratically elected, assumed the title of President,” PUNCH did not challenge him.
He recalled that Babangida closed media houses, including PUNCH, for several months.
“The Constitution of Nigeria recognises the President as the formal official title of the occupant of that office. Can the Punch newspapers, in their hubris address the President as Prime Minister as it pleases?” he asked.
NBA backs PUNCH
The Nigerian Bar Association, however, threw its weight behind the decision by PUNCH to begin prefixing the President’s name by his last military rank, major general.
The National Publicity Secretary of the association, Mr Kunle Edun, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the newspaper did not violate any law by its decision.
He noted that the newspaper was only expressing its right to freedom of expression in reaction to the acts of the regime.
Edun stated, “We all know that military regimes have no respect for the rule of law and the judiciary is usually under attack,” he stated.
Edun said referring to Buhari as a major general was not defamatory since it was his last rank in the military.
He said, “I am not aware of any law that expressly states how the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be addressed or prefixed; whether as Mr President, a General or simply as Alhaji, is of no consequence at the moment because it is a fact that Buhari is a retired military general and someone who has undergone the mandatory hajj.
“Moreso, the appellations used are not defamatory. Punch has just decided how to express its fundamental right to freedom of expression in conveying its reactions about certain actions of this government.”
PUNCH has not violated any law – Falana
A Lagos-based rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), said PUNCH had not violated any law, adding that the description was appropriate for the present regime.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria explained that the reactions of both Adesina and Shehu did not address the grave allegations of gross human rights abuses that had become the hallmark of the Buhari regime.
Falana noted that contrary to the diversionary ploy of the presidential spokespersons to cover up the desecration of the Federal High Court in Abuja last Friday, the State Security Service had apologised to Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu and the Chief Judge of the court for the armed invasion of the temple of justice.
He said, “While commending PUNCH for imposing the symbolic sanctions on the Buhari regime, it is pertinent to remind Mr Garba Shehu that he was arrested and detained by the State Security Service in 2006 during the Obasanjo/Atiku face-off. It was the human rights community that fought for his release from the illegal custody.
“In the case of the IGP vs ANPP (2008) 12 WRN 65, we also won the Nigerian people the right to protest for or against the government without police permit. In exercise of the right of freedom of expression won through the court, Major General Buhari and other APC leaders convened rallies to protest election malpractices and insecurity in the country. But as far as the Buhari regime is concerned, any Nigerian citizen, who participates in a peaceful rally, is liable to be charged with treasonable felony or terrorism.
“Mr Garba Shehu alluded to the illegal closure of the PUNCH newspaper by the Babangida junta. It is embarrassing that the senior journalist is not aware that the closure was declared illegal, while the sum of N22m was awarded in favour of the newspaper by the Federal High Court. The said judgment has since been affirmed by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The era of military dictatorship in Nigeria has passed. The current era of civilian dictatorship will pass too.
On Wednesday, December 11th, Abdullahi Fatima, younger sister to Abdulrasheed Maina testified against him at the ongoing trial between Maina and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Fatima testified behind a screen where her face was only seen by the judge, Justice Okon Abang, while her voice could be heard through the public address system of the court. In her testimony, Fatima distanced herself from the monies and assets linked to her, saying she was not aware of it and had nothing to do with them.
She said she was arrested by the EFCC in August 2019 in connection with common input accounts and told the agency that she was unaware of her name being listed on the company’s registration paper.
She said, “Sometimes in August 2019, I went to the ATM to withdraw some money but unfortunately I could not. So, I went inside the bank to see the manager to complain. The manager told me to hold on, that he would find out the reason.
“After waiting for an hour, the manager told me that I was under arrest and he took me to an office and asked me to wait for the EFCC official to come and take me to their office in Kaduna.
"On getting to the EFCC’s office, they told me that there was a transaction in Common Input and I told them I am not aware of the transaction. So, they made me to write a statement.
“Afterwards, I was given an administrative bail on the same day and that I should proceed to the EFCC office in Abuja the next day.
“The next day, I went to the Abuja office together with my lawyer. The officials also asked me if I knew any company by the name Common Input to which I say I do not.
So, they presented a CAC incorporation form of the company where the name Fatima Samaila Abdullahi was stated together with my date of birth but the phone number on the form is not my own. Even the name as stated on the form is not my name as my full name is Fatima Abdullahi.”
She also said she was shown another CAC form for Kangolo Digital and Drew Investment and said she does not understand how her name got to the papers including her Bank Verification Number.
The judge adjourned the matter to December 16 for cross examination and hearing of the bail variation application filed by Maina
The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has reiterated that the National Minimum Wage law is binding to all, and that state governors have no right to pay below N30,000.
NLC President, Dr Ayuba Wabba, said this at a one-day review meeting on the New National Minimum Wage with state council chairmen.
He stressed the need for state governors to ensure the speedy conclusion of negotiations on implementation of the new wage Act.
Wabba said since the President signed the New Minimum Wage Act to law, every state governor was bound to respect the new wage structure and negotiate with labour to decide what the consequential increase should be.
“All of us are aware that from the day the president signed the minimum wage bill into law it becomes enforceable.
“It can be enforced through the court of law, and certainly, there is no excuse for any state to say that it is not going to respect a law that is actually based on the constitution.
“The national minimum wage is actually a constitutional issue, so clearly, it is about respecting our laws and also respecting international conventions and procedures.
“But importantly, it is to respect the principles of Tripatism, social dialogue in addressing industrial relation issues.
“So clearly, you can see that we are providing this guide, so that we can also play our role effectively as National Labour Congress, as workers’ organisation, to be able to see that there is seamless implementation.
“Where there are challenges we are also ready to intervene in this thing.
“I’m not aware of any governor that will say he will not respect any provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or an Act of parliament that was signed by the President.
“I have not heard of any such intune that any governor said he will not respect the law.
“What I heard is that N30,000 is already a law and that will be the basis; you can pay higher but you cant pay below N30,000. That is what the law provides.
“This is where we are and what we are doing to take stock to find out the situation of where every state is, and local governments, in terms of the implementation process.”
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, while briefing State House correspondents said the Federal Government had given Dec. 31, as deadline for payment of arrears on consequential adjustments of the National Minimum Wage.
Ngige said that the Council also approved the payment of all outstanding financial implications of the consequential adjustments as worked out by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, beginning from April 18.
“Council today approved for us that the financial implications be worked out by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, as consequential adjustments should take effect from April 18, the date the new national minimum wage came into being.
“The Council also approved for us that the financial implications be worked out and the attendant payments completed on or before Dec. 31.
“Council further directed that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, through the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, should effect all these payments as scheduled before Dec. 31,” Ngige said.
Move will show we can run transparent, accountable security trust fund’
Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, on Wednesday signed into law the Oyo State Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Law.
With the signing of the law, which is a domestication of the anti-graft law made by the Federal Government, all proven cases of corruption, financial mismanagement and misappropriation of government funds are now punishable under Oyo State laws.
Makinde signed the bill into law at a brief ceremony, which held at the Executive Chamber of the Governor’s office, Agodi Secretariat.
He described the latest move as an opportunity for his administration to prove to the whole world that he could run a transparent and accountable government.
The event was witnessed by top government functionaries, including the Deputy Governor, Rauf Olaniyan; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, who was represented by the Majority Leader, Mr. Sanjo Adedoyin; Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubanwo Adeosu; Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka; state Head of Service, Mrs. Amidat Agboola; commissioners, special advisers and members of the state House of Assembly, among other political appointees.
In a brief remark after signing the bill into law, Governor Makinde reiterated that corruption is a menace that must be fought to a halt because of its negative consequences on the people, especially in terms of delaying the putting in place of infrastructural amenities.
He assured the people that the law was not to harass or witch-hunt any individual or political party but to ensure a new culture of doing what is right in the interest of the development and progress of the people and the state, adding that he remained committed to his promise of wavering his immunity to answer questions before the Commission, if the need arises.
Makinde said: “All we have just signed is the anti-corruption law for Oyo State. There is nothing to be afraid of, nothing to fear, at all.
“Why we have domesticated the anti-corruption law is just as we want governance to get closer to the grassroots, the same way we have to guide the resources of the state up to the grassroots level.
“Corruption kills the society. When monies meant for projects, monies meant for salaries, monies meant for certain developmental initiatives are diverted, then we miss the opportunity. So, we believe that we have to tackle corruption. I said during my inaugural address at the Executive Governor of Oyo State that I will be ready to wave my immunity to face any corruption charges against my person and my statement still stands. I still maintain the position.
“This is not a law to witch hunt anyone, it is not about politics or political interests, it is not about APC or PDP, it’s about our state, Oyo State. We know for a fact that, if we tackle corruption, then we have more resources to take care of our people and that is exactly what this law is meant to achieve for us.
“If you write to us a frivolous petition, you also will be sanctioned because that is corruption in itself. The law is to ensure that first, due processes are followed in our financial dealings and also that, our resources are deployed for specific reasons that such resources were appropriated in the first instance.
“So, it’s a new opportunity for us to show to the world that we can run a transparent and accountable government. I do hope that no one in this Executive Chamber this afternoon will fall into the trap of corruption.”
“I did mention before that yes there are very serious temptations. For instance, myself, I am being paid N550,000 and then I have to run a yearly budget of over N200billion. One will be tempted, but we have to resist that temptation. We have to know that, whichever position we currently occupy, it’s based on the trust of the people and when we leave this position, we will still go back to the larger society.
“Our decisions whether we want to perpetrate corruption, the effect is waiting for us out there. So, I want to thank you and give assurance to the people of Oyo State that this law is to keep ourselves in check, hold ourselves accountable and they can also hold us accountable also. Please, if you have anything about any of us, bring such facts out and the law will take its course.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said the Federal Government has ordered a probe into the invasion of a Federal High Court last Friday by operatives of the Department of State Service.
Malami spoke to reporters at the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, after visiting the Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho. He also visited the President, National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Benedict Kanyip.
DSS operatives committed sacrilege by invading the court room, to re-arrest Sowore on Dec. 6.
Fielding questions from reporters, he said he did not visit the Chief Judge over Sowore’s case but to congratulate him on his confirmation by the Senate as the substantive Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
Asked if he was not appalled by the DSS’ conduct, Malami said, “Whatever affects the integrity of the court is a worrisome issue for us.
“I can never be preemptive of an incident over which I was not a live witness to.”
“But one thing I am certain of is that the government has put in place mechanism for investigation of the reported incident.
“So, I would not like to be preemptive in terms of a conclusion, one way or the other, without allowing the consummation and conclusion of the investigation process.”
The minister also paid a courtesy visit to the President, National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Benedict Kanyip, on his confirmation as substantive head of the court.
Malami pledged the Federal Government’s support to Kanyip towards achieving his mandate.
According to him, the Federal Government is committed to the independence of the judiciary and we are looking at the possibility of coming up with an Executive Order to strengthen the judiciary independence.
Kanyip, who thanked the minister for the visit, said the major challenge facing the court was how to reduce the trial time because justice delay is justice denied.
He assured the minister that the court would continue to live up to its expectation on labour and employers’ related matters.