The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has criticised the federal government over the “restriction placed on the bank account” of Sahara Reporters.
The online newspaper is owned by Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow Movement, who is currently in custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
In a statement on Wednesday, CPJ quoted La Keisha Landrum Pierre, Sahara Reporters’ chief operating officer, as saying the newspaper’s account with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) was frozen in October without advance notice.
She said the account was subject to “a government hold and was not able to be operated”, which hindered the effective operation of the newspaper.
Pierre also said the website was separately disabled twice due to allegations of copyright infringement, and staff reported cyber attacks and increased surveillance outside their office in Ikeja, Lagos.
Senami Kojah, Sahara Reporters news editor, was also quoted as saying three vehicles carrying security officers parked outside the medium’s Lagos office during the period.
Reacting to this, Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator, said such “act of intimidation” should not be tolerated.
She said the newspaper must be allowed to keep Nigerians informed, adding that such form of harassment should not be condoned.
“Sahara Reporters must be permitted to keep the Nigerian public informed without intimidation,” she said.
“Surveillance, cyberattacks, and copyright notices against Sahara Reporters mark a concerning pattern of interference and harassment of an investigative news outlet.”
Sowore was arrested on August 3 ahead of a nationwide protest against the government.
He was charged with treasonable felony, cyberstalking and “insulting the president”.
He was earlier released after 124 days in detention but was rearrested less than 24 hours after his release.
The government of the US, where Sahara Reporters has its headquarters, has intervened in the matter, calling on Buhari’s government to abide by the basic tenets of democracy.
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) said the Federal Government has approved that all Africans could come to Nigeria without Visa from January 2020.
The Comptroller General, NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, disclosed this at the inauguration of the Africa–Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) on Wednesday in Abuja.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that European border and Coast guard Agency also known as Frontex is an agency of European Union (EU) tasked with border control of the European Schengen Area, in coordination with border and coast guard of Schengen area member states.
“The announcement would be made soon by the President of the Federation.
”But we cannot succeed without a tool like AFIC. This tool is key if we want to implement an effective free movement across our border.
“The tool is actually coming at the right time. AFIC would help African countries especially Nigeria that want to open its border for all Africans to enter at will. And now that tool is available, it would make the work easier for us,” he said.
Babandede said that it was important to acknowledge the different forces in Nigeria curbing crime and insecurity.
“But our duty is unique and you may not see it as it is in Chad, Benin or Cameroon.
“The essence is that we are very keen and we have been working with EU for a long time. Frontex is in charge of border before they got another responsibility called coast guard which is also very keen to Africa especially checking member state of ECOWAS,” he said.
The CGI commended the EU and Frontex delegates for establishing the risk analysis centre, adding that analysis could not be done physically without analytical system.
“I was opportune to be at the Frontex headquarters, and I came with useful tools which are for border and control centre.
”This has brought about the building of border and control centre which will be inaugurated next year. So the analytical system from Frontex, border control system and even mobility would all be in one place,” he said.
Babandede assured the delegates that the service would maintain the equipments and called for more training of officers.
“We assure you of the site maintenance if we have a technical know how of maintaining this system. We have done that with IOM very well.
”All the equipments donated for e-Migrants registration are already been installed by all our trained officers,” he said.
Roman Fantini, the head of sector, Frontex, assured the immigration service of training the officers as requested to help maintain the system and usage.
Fantini said that AFIC was not a new development as it started nine years ago and had since grown to what it was today.
He commended the EU and NIS for collaborating to ensure the security of the country.
Ms Eleni Zerzelidou, EU head of delegates, appreciated the immigration service for beefing up the collaboration by taking a step further to ensure border opening for all Africans by 2020.
Zerzelidou added that the EU would continually support the service in delivering its mandate and ensuring the safety of the country.
She said that the long standing partnership with NIS resulted into border management such as NIS border management strategy, MIDAS, among others.
“But we believe Frontex would do more to compliment all we have done so far in assisting the service and the county at large,” she said.
By Lanny J. Davis
Tuesday night’s decision by the House Judiciary Committee to recommend impeachment on two counts of Donald Trump for on Abuse of Power and constitutional violations and obstruction of a congressional impeachment and (illegal violation of subpoenas) are quite serious. They are also quite different than the circumstances and charges faced by President Bill Clinton in the highly partisan December 1998 impeachment vote on two counts in 1998 by a lame duck Congress.
I spent most of 1998 and the first two months of 1999 as a volunteer on TV and in print media after I left the White House as President Clinton’s special counsel arguing that President Clinton had not committed an impeachable offense. I now strongly believe that President Trump has. The two situations faced by Mr. Clinton and Mr. Trump were and are much different. Here are three facts showing these differences.
Difference number one – nature of conduct: Mr. Trump abused his presidential power and violated his oath of office by asking the head of a foreign power for two favors “though”during his July 25 telephone conversation with Ukraine President Zelensky that were in Trump’s personal political interest, not the national interest: first, to investigate Democrats on working with Ukraine to help Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election; and second, to investigate Vice President Biden and his son. It is a fact both those specific requests for two favors followed virtually immediately after Mr. Zelensky asked Mr. Trump for military aid to help Ukraine defend against Russian aggression in the East.
But there was no evidence that President Clinton abused presidential power or risked our democratic elections. Rather his conduct involves personal conduct and mistakes. Thus, the Republican House in December 1998 failed to approve the proposed impeachment on “ abuse of power” by a large margin— 285-148. Moreover — note this forgotten fact — the partisan Republican House also rejected a finding of lying under oath by President Clinton even during the civil deposition of Paula Jones — by a 229-205 vote.
Difference number two: obstruction of congressional impeachment inquiry. President Trump refused to comply with duly authorized subpoenas for documents and testimony as part of an impeachment congressional inquiry. If allowed as a precedent, this would defeat the Impeachment Clause the founders intended to check a dictatorial lawless president.
Indeed, Mr. Trump ordered members of his Cabinet and others illegally to defy congressional subpoenas, including those subpoenas not the subject to a federal court challenge.
In sharp sharp contrast, Mr. Clinton voluntarily submitted documents to Congress and appeared before a Grand Jury to testify. For this reason — again a fact falsely contradicted by Republicans and many MSM cable pundits and hosts — the 1999 55-person, majority Republican U.S. Senate during the impeachment trial could not muster a majority of 51 on any count voted by the House.
Fact: the 55-member Republican Senate resoundingly defeated the House charge of perjury before the Grand Jury, by a margin of 55-45 (i.e., 10 Republicans joined 45 Democrats to vote to reject the House charge and vote for acquittal). They could not deliver even 51 out of 55 votes in support of obstruction.
Difference number three: the level of public support for impeachment and removal.
As of last week, most national public opinion polls showed support for Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal to be at or near one-half the country. And this is before the House Judiciary Committee presents its specific proposed impeachment counts starting Wednesday night in prime time and the evidence backing them up; and before the evidence is further explained during a nationally televised Senate trial.
Contrast this with Mr. Clinton’s numbers – and Richard Nixon’s. In 1998-99, there was never support for Clinton’s impeachment and removal higher than the 30s. Not even close. Regarding Mr. Nixon, he never reached above 50 percent support for impeachment and removal until the final days before his resignation, in August 1974 after “smoking gun” tape was revealed. Another contrast between Clinton and Trump is that Mr. Clinton ultimately admitted publicly his personal misconduct and apologized. Perhaps that is one of the major differences in public on opinion job approval ratings, which certainly affect attitudes towards impeachment.
Despite enjoying a hot economy as an incumbent president, Mr. Trump remains in double-digit negative opinion measuring unfavorable job approval vs. favorable job approval. Meanwhile, thorough the 1998-99 impeachment process, Mr. Clinton remained well above 50 percent in job approval. Indeed, Mr. Clinton left office on January 20, 2001, with the highest job approval ratings since modern polling was invented for a second-term president. See here.
Now the public debate begins: Did Mr. Trump commit an impeachable offense, and should he be removed from office prior to the November elections?
In the case of Mr. Trump, I believe the Founders would say, based on their writings and the words of the Constitution, Yes. I believe they would say: If you don’t impeach a president for asking a foreign power to interfere in a U.S. presidential election to dig up dirt on a political opponent for his own political purposes, then when would you? If you allow a president to refuse to comply with congressional-issued subpoenas for documents and testimonies during an impeachment inquiry, then what would be left of the Congress’ power to impeach to challenge a president who believes he or she is above the law and is unaccountable for violating his oath of office?
Those are the two questions that congressional Democrats and Republicans should debate in good faith in the next several months. If not now, when?
Lanny Davis, an attorney in Washington, served as President Clinton’s special counsel from 1996-98 and was a member of President George Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in 2006-07. He is co-founder of the law firm of Davis Goldberg Galper PLLC and the strategic media and public affairs firm of Trident DMG. He authored, “Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life” (2013). He has been an opinion columnist for The Hill for over 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @LannyDavis.
The senator representing Kogi West at the Senate, Mr. Smart Adeyemi, has said that banks contribute “in no small measure to unemployment in Nigeria.”
Adeyemi, elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, spoke in response to a motion moved by ex-deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, during the plenary on Wednesday.
Citing orders 42 and 52, Ekweremadu had moved a motion on the escalating rate of unemployment in the country.
Adeyemi, supporting the motion, said, “Unemployment affects everyone here directly or indirectly. This is an issue that we should take very seriously.
“Banks in Nigeria contributed in no small measure to unemployment in Nigeria. They do not give credit facility to young Nigerians to run business.”
Describing it as “a complex problem,” the senator added, “Let us look at the banking sector. In addressing unemployment, we must look at funding, which is important.”
Other senators spoke in the same vein. Senator Istifanus Gyang (PDP-Plateau North Senatorial District), noted that, “The situation of unemployment has brought upon a trauma of helplessness. Many of our youths are well read, have multiple certificates and still unemployed.”
He urged Buhari regime to declare a state of emergency on unemployment, “so that all hands will be on deck and deliberate steps must be taken to ensure we rescue Nigerian youths that are in the state of trauma.”
“It is important to ensure that the private sector is empowered to provide an enabling environment to create employment for our youths,” Gyang added.
Urges APC to send his replacement to INEC
Former Minority Leader of the Senate and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has pulled out of the planned Akwa Ibom North East senatorial re-run election.
In a letter addressed to the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole and dated 2nd of December, 2019, Akpabio said as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, a huge responsibility had been placed on him.
He said he couldn’t abandon a critical assignment placed on him by President Muhammadu Buhari in pursuit of a re-run election.
He urged the party to write the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in line with Sections 33 and 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010, and submit a replacement to run in his place.
World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Anthony Joshua is to present his title belts to President Muhammadu Buhari at a yet to be decided date.
The Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, said he briefed the Federal Executive Council, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday, about Joshua’s win.
Joshua regained his titles from Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr during a repeat match in Saudi Arabia last Saturday.
Joshua, who suffered a shock defeat to the Mexican-American at Madison Square Garden six months ago, became heavyweight champion once again by unanimous decision from the judges in Diriyah.
A lawyer to Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed of the group – Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – Ifeanyi Ejiofor has sued the Nigerian Police Force before the Federal High Court.
Ejiofor, who has since been declared wanted by the police over his alleged complicity in the murder of some policemen, is accusing the security agency, in the fundamental rights enforcement suit, of invading his house and killing of four occupants.
Ejiofor, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/135/19, filed by a lawyer, Maxwell Okpara, is seeking, among others, an order to compelling the defendants to pay him N2 billion as compensation and damages for the burning of his house and shooting of his aged mother by the police at his Oraifite hometown in Anambra State on December 2 this year.
Listed as defendants in the suit are the Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police, Area Commander, Divisional Police (DPO) in Anambra State, the Nigerian Army, Chief of Army Staff, Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Ejiofor claimed to have been called to bar over 17 years ago and wants the court to restrain the respondents, their agents and privies from further harassing, intimidating, threatening his life and destroying his house and other properties.
He is also seeking an order of the court stopping the respondents from threatening him with arrest and torture and to compel them to retract the public notice made on December 3, which declared him wanted and to also tender apology to him in five major newspapers and any other form of reparation.
Ejiofor, in a supporting affidavit, claimed that he was in his Oraifite hometown in Anambra State between November 25 and December 1, for the burial of his late brother, Reverend Louis Ejiofor.
He stated that on December 2, his house was still filled with relatives, friends and well-wishers, helping him to evacuate tents, chairs and other materials used for the burial ceremony, when a group of 16 policemen allegedly invaded his house.
His senior brother, who described himself as Evangelist Emeka Ejiofor, further stated, in the affidavit, that the police claimed to be looking for suspects involved in an alleged communal clash and that he spoke on phone with the Area Commander promising that he would make himself available on same day by 11am.
He stated that by 10.15am, the same police squad led by the Area Commander, came ahead of the appointed time and violently invaded his ancestral home with sporadic shooting at every living object.
“In the confusion that ensued, the plaintiff said that four young men were instantly shot dead while his aged mother sustained gunshot injury from the trigger happy officers .
“The dead bodies were evacuated from his house to a market place and burnt there,” he said and referred photographs and video clips, which he claimed showed “the wanton destruction of” the plaintiff’s house by the police .
Ejiofor, who promised to tender the photographs and video clips during trial, added that on December 3 this year, the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State caused a public notice through television stations and other news media that he had been declared wanted without been given adequate time and opportunity to respond to any allegation against him if any.
He, therefore, wants the court to declare the alleged invasion of his house and subsequent shootings and killing of unarmed civilians as barbaric, wicked, illegal, oppressive and a gross violation of his rights to life, dignity of human person, personal liberty, fair hearing and right to private and family life as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.
Ejiofor is equally praying the court to declare that the setting ablaze of all buildings and properties in his Oraifite ancestral home in Ekwusigo Local Government of Anambra State by the police is illegal, barbaric, oppressive, unlawful and amounted to a gross violation of his rights to property as guaranteed by the constitution.
He also wants the court to declare that the December 3, 2019 public notice by the police, declaring him wanted, without giving him opportunity to respond to any allegation against him, if any, is illegal, unconstitutional, unreasonable, null and void as the action violates his right to fair hearing as guaranteed by law.
The case is yet to be assigned to any judge for hearing.
The Senate on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to set up a sustainable unemployment fund for the payment of living stipends to jobless Nigerians until such persons secure any kind of employment.
The Senate also urged governments at all levels to declare emergency on the provision of employment to the youth of Nigeria.
The upper chamber further urged the Federal, State, and Local Governments to revitalise existing industries, build new ones, and provide conducive and enabling environment for the Private Sector to build more industries in the country.
Besides, it called on the government through the Ministry of National Planning, “to put up mechanisms and programmes that would provide employment for our teeming unemployed graduates/youth at all tier of government.”
These resolutions of the upper chamber followed the consideration of a motion titled: “Escalating rate of unemployment in the country” moved by a former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
Ekweremadu in his lead debate, urged his colleagues to be alarmed that the huge number of graduates being turned out annually by the nation’s tertiary institutions without requisite employment spaces to absolve them.
According to him, the ugly development represents a time bomb waiting to explode.
The Enugu West Senator noted that a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2019 stated that Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 23.1 per cent of the workforce in the third quarter of 2019.
He lamented that according to a statement credited to the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, showed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate will hit 33.5 per cent by 2020.
He urged the upper chamber to be worried that “any nation with such number of unemployed, but employable youth population, is only sitting on a keg of gunpowder.”
He further called on his colleagues to be perturbed that the most pressing demand on the hand of every legislator and public officer in the country today is the rising number of Curriculum Vitae and application for employments from constituents and Nigerians.
He said that he is convinced that a situation where every graduate has to queue up for job only in government offices is an indication of the breakdown of the private sector, “which is the major driver of world economies.”
The Senator lamented that the energies and potential talents of youths that are lying idle and wasting away are usually misdirected toward many unprofitable and harmful ventures and lifestyles.
He further averred that the most active percentage of the nation’s population is forcefully caged by unemployment “from participating in the economic development of fatherland and from contributing toward the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Aware that high level of crimes in any society are most times related to high rate of unemployment.
“That unemployment is one of the major causes of the upsurge in Rural-Urban migration, which puts pressure on facilities at the urban centers.
“That unemployment is one of the major reasons insurgency, kidnaping, armed robbery, cybercrimes and other vices are on the increase.”
Ekweremadu recalled that various intervention programmes by successive governments targeted at “reducing youth unemployment and eradicating its co-traveler, poverty, have not yielded the desired results.”
In his contribution, Senator Istifanus Gyang (PDP, Plateau North), described unemployment as “a monster that, if we (Nigerians) are not careful, can consume us as a nation.”
On his part, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC, Ekiti North) decried the inability of the private sector to address the escalating rate of unemployed persons in the country.
He argued that the government lacks the capacity to create jobs, “as doing so would create an expansion in the fiscal responsibility of government.”
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government can not stop borrowing to finance projects.
She stated this on Tuesday while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management to defend the loan request of $22.718 billion presented to the Senate by Buhari.
Ahmed explained that there was an urgent need to fund the 2020 budget to improve infrastructural development and create jobs, hence the need to borrow.
She said: “We need to invest in roads, rails, and to be able to grow at a growth rate better than how we are growing now. The loans are strictly for infrastructure development. So that we can address the deficit that we have. We know we must comply with some criteria.”
She also dismissed fears over the loan, saying that “Nigeria does not have a debt sustainability problem but revenue challenge.
Also speaking, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, assured that every money borrowed would be judiciously used for the purpose they were gotten. Fashola stated that the government could not ignore the infrastructural development needed in Nigeria.
He said: “It is right to have this hearing because we cannot ignore the concerns of the members of the public over the debt profile of the country. As we cannot ignore the concerns about debts, so we cannot ignore the concerns and demands for the provision of life-sustaining infrastructure.
“So, everybody wants a road, everybody wants a rail project, everybody wants a port and efficient airports. They want to ensure that our ports are efficient so that business can function more effectively so that the clearing of goods can happen more quickly and cheaply.”
Aisha, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, says Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, should have resigned for going beyond his brief.
In a statement on Wednesday, she accused the presidential spokesman of interfering in the affairs of the president’s family.
“In saner climes, GarbaShehu would have resigned immediately after going beyond his boundaries and powers,” she said in the statement personally signed by her.
Aisha said Shehu has abandoned his responsibility of managing the image of the president and has “shifted his loyalty from the president to others who have no stake in the compact that the president signed with Nigerians on May 29, 2015 and 2019”.
“To make matters worse, Mr. Shehu has presented himself to these people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President. This should not be so,” she said.
She also accused Mamman Daura, the president’s nephew, of orchestrating the invasion of her family’s privacy “when the time came for him to leave” the part of the presidential villa he has occupied over the years.
“Garba Shehu as Villa Spokesperson, knew the truth and had the responsibility to set the records straight, but because his allegiance is somewhere else and his loyalty misplaced, he deliberately refused to clear the air and speak for the President who appointed him in the first place,” she said.
Aisha said Shehu’s behaviour “will no longer be tolerated,” and that the presidential spokesman recently “waged a war on the first family through an orchestrated media campaign of calumny by sponsoring pseudo accounts to write and defame my children and myself”.
“Based on Garba Shehu’s misguided sense of loyalty and inability to stay true and loyal to one person or group, it has become apparent that all trust has broken down between him and my family due to the many embarrassments he has caused the Presidency and the first family,” she said.
“We all have families to consider in our actions and therefore it is in the best interest of all concerned for Garba Shehu to take the advice of the authority, given to him sometimes in the first week of November, 2019.”