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Garba Shehu
Garba Shehu

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE


The reported new editorial policy of the Punch Newspapers to address President Muhammadu Buhari as Major General in his official title and refer to his government as a regime instead of administration, comes to us as totally curious and utterly incredible.

The paper claimed that it is changing President Buhari's official title to General because of his government's alleged disregard for the rule of law.

Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), for that is his title, and he was indeed a Major General, but today retired from that position and now twice democratically elected president of Nigeria – is not the choice of Punch Newspaper’s editors and owners, that is clear.

He is, however, the two-time electoral choice of the voters of Nigeria, those very people who Punch Newspapers described this morning as “lethargic”: a disdaining epithet apportioned to decent, hard-working, everyday Nigerians for not agreeing with, and for not having voted in line with their publication’s editorial and political opinions.

Punch’s editorial today is, however, entirely in line with holding and exercising the right of free speech and freedom of the press, as my friend and colleague, Femi Adesina said earlier today.

Femi, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity said the fact the Punch can insult the President in a front page editorial and they go home to sleep, peacefully, is the best testimony to the prevalence of the freedom of the press and of expression in the country.

To quote him, “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.”

In countries around the world where this right does not exist, newspapers do not publish articles such as the one Punch did today; nor do they get to express political opinions contrary to that of government. The exact freedoms Punch claims are missing are self-evident here – in print, on the internet – for all Nigerians and the whole world to see.

There is nothing wrong with expressing contrary opinions to this government - nor being in opposition to the president: this is the right of very Nigerian.

However, calling for the armed overthrow of the democratically elected administration is a different matter entirely: this Punch has in no way done – but others who they seek to defend, have.

There is the difference. Punch: oppose the government as much as you want to.

We welcome your contribution to the debate. But we ask you not to throw insults at the good voters of Nigeria for not agreeing to your choice at the last election.

Oppose in good humour: for that is the mark of the true democrat – that which you purport to be.

It is not within the power or rights of a newspaper to unilaterally and whimsically change the formal official title or the designation of the country's President as it pleases.

It is unprecedented and absurd in our recent political history. The Punch never changed President Olusegun Obasanjo's title from the President to General Obasanjo, despite the latter's refusal to comply with Supreme Court judgment, ordering him to release N30 billion of Lagos State local councils funds.

When General Ibrahim Babangida who wasn't democratically elected assumed the title of President, why didn't the Punch challenge him or address him by any title it so desired?

In fact, IBB closed media houses for several months and years, including Punch.

But the paper didn't stop addressing him as President, despite the fact that he wasn't elected.

It is obvious that the Punch newspapers are playing partisan opposition politics which has nothing to do with journalism.

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?

Is it within the paper's responsibility or power to change the official title of the man who occupies the office of the President? Does that mean any newspaper is free to address the Comptroller General of Customs a Colonel rather than his official title?

The Punch newspaper should separate journalism from partisan politics. What it is embarking upon is purely political and it is designed to play to the gallery and cause confusion.

Punch Newspaper's double standards in cuddling some of our past dictators and their open contempt for President Buhari clearly show that the paper has sinister motives for its current curious editorial judgment. Its personal hatred for and animus towards President Buhari should not be allowed to becloud its good judgment.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
December 12, 2019


Thank

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have "come through a sticky patch" and insists his young side have "always believed" in themselves.

Recent victories over Tottenham and Manchester City gave United back-to-back league wins for the first time this season and lifted them to within five points of the top four.

Despite boasting an impressive record against fellow 'top-six' sides, United have lost to Crystal PalaceWest HamNewcastle and Bournemouth this term, and draws against newly-promoted sides Sheffield United and Aston Villa raised question marks over Solskjaer's future.

However, the Norwegian remains confident his players will improve with experience and believes they have come through a difficult period.

"Consistency is vital in football if you're going to win trophies and this young team need to learn how to put on performances when they don't feel like it, when they don't feel great," the United boss said.

"You don't feel great every single time that you walk onto the pitch and we've had some games this year where we've not been able to perform as well as we would have liked.

"That's a learning curve and I'm sure these young boys in the next couple of years will improve and hopefully for the rest of the season.

"We've come through a sticky patch with bad injuries and bad results and we're looking brighter now.

"Results are the proof in the end but inside we've always believed what we are doing. There's going to be ups and downs but we are on the right track.

"I see these boys every single day in training and what their attitude is, as well as the skills and the quality they've got, so I've not been that worried."

 

United still without Pogba

United return to action on Thursday night when AZ Alkmaar visit Old Trafford in the Europa League, with top spot in Group L up for grabs between the two sides.

Midfielder Paul Pogba - who has not played since the end of September - remains out as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.

"It is too early for him to play against Alkmaar," Solskjaer said. "He's working hard to get fit so hopefully we will see him in 2019.

"Let's get Paul fit and back in form. Paul will play loads of games. For me, he's one of the best players in the world and we're looking forward to having him back."

Solskjaer's side require just a point to secure first place in the group, while victory for Alkmaar would see them claim top spot. Asked whether he would be bothered if United finish top, Solskjaer said: "Of course I'm bothered.

"I'm not going to send these boys out and say I don't care if you win or lose. We won this trophy a few years ago and it's a great tournament.

"For me I've enjoyed it with Molde and I'm enjoying it now and of course we're hoping to go all the way."

Although Pogba remains out, fellow midfielder Nemanja Matic is fit and is due to be involved. Jesse Lingard, however, was a notable absentee from United's open training session on Wednesday after he sustained a knock in the derby win at the weekend.

Solskjaer confirmed United - who fielded the youngest side in the club's European history against Astana last time out - will name an academy player in their match-day squad for the 4,000th successive match.

He added: "It's in our DNA to give young players a chance. They can only surprise you and impress you when you put them in. It goes without saying that we have a great academy."

 
 
Solskjaer condemns racist abuse

Solskjaer condemned the alleged racist abuse some of his Manchester United players suffered in their Premier League clash with Manchester City.

United midfielders Fred and Jesse Lingard were subjected to alleged racism during last weekend's 2-1 derby win at the Etihad, with the former also being hit by missiles as he went to take a second-half corner.

A 41-year-old man was arrested on Sunday in connection with the allegations, before being bailed pending further investigation.

Solskjaer said: "We have spoken with the boys, of course. They are the same as me. This isn't how it should be in football but what we can do is go out onto the pitch next time and prove we are all equal. It has been a tough couple of days for Jesse and Fred."

 

 

SKYSPORTS

Femi Adesina: Calling Buhari ‘major general’ is proof of press freedom
 

Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, says the decision of PUNCH to refer to the president as a “major general” is proof of press freedom: According to him - 

“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 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.

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media and Publicity)

Onboard the Ocean Viking in the Mediterranean - Forty-two-year old Florent* took off his life jacket, knelt to the floor of the Ocean Viking, a migrant rescue vessel, and let out a roar.

He looked up, index fingers pointing to the sky as tears rolled down his cheeks, trickling between grease stains and cracked, dry skin on his face. His eyes were red, not least from the trauma of being out on the sea for more than 36 hours after spending five years in Libya.

"If I die right now, I'll die with no regrets. I've managed to escape Libya. It was hell. Nothing less than hell," Florent, from Cameroon, told Al Jazeera after being rescued together with 89 other migrants and refugees from an overcrowded rubber boat in distress in the central Mediterranean.

"If the Libyans [coastguards] come on board right now, I will smash my head into that wall, slit my throat and jump into the water. That will be so much better than going back to Libya," he said, the quaver in his voice evident despite the smile that belied the pain, agony and distress of the last five years he spent in the North African country. 

Behind Florent was Karim*, a 16-year-old from Ivory Coast, whose dream of playing football in Europe led him to run away from home in 2016 without telling his parents.

Wearing Juventus football club track bottoms, Karim had a wide smile on his face, more out of relief than anything else, as he queued up for registration.

"You see this," he said, pointing to his shoulder, "this is where a Libyan stabbed me when I asked for money for the work I did for him."

He then pointed to his right leg and said, "This is where I was shot while waiting for work in Tripoli."

"There is complete lawlessness there. Everyone has guns and knives. There are no rights for black people, even someone who has been stabbed or shot."

Libya acts as a major gateway for African migrants hoping to reach Europe. According to the United Nations, there are more than 40,000 refugees and migrants in Libya.

However, a 2018 UN report highlighted that migrants are subjected to "unimaginable horrors" from the time they enter Libya, during their stay and in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean, if they make it that far.

These people arrive in Libya fleeing poverty, conflict, war, forced labour, female genital mutilation, corrupt governments and personal threats. Just the will to survive drives them away from home and into Libya, transiting through various countries on the way.

Some arrive in Libya by choice, others by force. For some, Libya is a country of destination and not transit. The promise of livelihood forces the testing and exhausting journey from home, unaware of what awaits them en route and also when they set foot in Libya.

"This journey is horrendous. It is perilous and very challenging," Michael Farc, project coordinator for the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on board the Ocean Viking, told Al Jazeera.

"People generally have to deal with criminal networks and traffickers. There is extortion, abuse, physical and sexual violence and arbitrary detention where people are held for ransom, forced to contact their families to send money to secure their release. And once they arrive in Libya, they face the same situation."

Libya, a large oil producer, has been engulfed by chaos since 2011 when longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in an uprising.

It is now split between two rival administrations: the internationally backed Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and the House of Representatives allied to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA).

About 4,500 people are currently held in "official" detention centres across Libya. Thousands more are held in "prisons" run by armed groups. Both types are said to be overcrowded with unhygienic and inhumane conditions, with abuse and violence rampant. There is a shortage of food and drinking water, but an abundance of torture and forced labour.

These detention centres are not safe from the conflict either. One centre in the eastern Tripoli suburb of Tajoura was bombed earlier this year, killing at least 50 migrants and refugees and wounding more than 130.

"The conditions in these centres are crazy," 17-year-old Alkaol* from the Gambia said. "Sometimes you get food, sometimes you don't. If they give you bread, you eat half and save half. You don't know when you will eat next. If you don't have money, your only way out is either escaping or death.

"If they catch people running away, they shoot at you. They may shoot you in the leg, they may shoot you in the head. Everything is a risk."

Saou*, from Central African Republic (CAR), described the time inside a prison as a "time between life and death", adding many of his friends died there because of the brutal conditions.

The capital Tripoli has been under attack since April from forces loyal to Haftar.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in the battle for Tripoli, according to the World Health Organization, which said at least 5,750 were also wounded and about 100,000 civilians forced to flee their homes.

"In most of the stories you hear from the rescued people, the common denominator is violence, both sexual and physical," Juan Pablo Sanchez, an MSF medic on the Ocean Viking, said.

"We had many people who suffered physical violence: Electrocution, wounds by knives and machetes, gunshot wounds and also being beaten up by rubber and metal pipes."

This year, the International Organization for Migration reported more than 10,700 arrivals in Italy. But according to its Missing Migrants project, more than 740 people have died making that sea crossing to Italy or Malta.

They often wait for weeks or months to board the flimsy inflatable boat, fully aware of the fate of those preceding them - but oblivious of the demands and length of what seems like their final journey.

Some are told it is a small river they have to cross, the lights at the offshore oil rigs - just more than a 100km (62 miles) away - pointed to as their destination. Others are reminded of the successful journey made by those before them.

Everyone is scared, unsure of what awaits them. Among them was Kelly*, a 32-year-old from Ivory Coast into her eighth month of pregnancy, and 19-year-old Victoria* from Cameroon, with her three-year-old daughter, juggling her decision to "leave or die".

"In life, when you see you've lost everything, you're not afraid of anything any more," Saou said with a smile. "You don't see the waves. You just see a boat. And that's your chance to get your freedom again, far away from Libya."

*Names changed to protect identities

 

 

AL JAZEERA NEWS

As British voters prepare to head to the polls for a defining general election - the third in four years - they face a difficult choice, involving two unpopular leaders.

Or as Nick Boles, a former Conservative MP, views it, an "appalling choice" between a "compulsive liar" and a "totalitarian".

The former - in Boles' opinion - is Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The latter is Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

It's as if the 2016 US presidential election, where both major candidates were deemed flawed and untrustworthy, is playing itself out again three years later, on the other side of the Atlantic.

"People are cynical and saying that they're fed up on the doorstep," Mary Roberts, a Labour candidate in the north Wales constituency of Ynys Mon, told supporters at a rally on Sunday. "That makes it difficult sometimes."

Canvassers and activists in the crowd echoed that sentiment. Voters want all of this - Brexit, the election, the nonstop drumbeat of political chaos - to be over and done with.

Welcome to the 2019 general election, a pre-Christmas present few British voters seem anxious to unwrap.

 

Johnson's trust issue

This is Johnson's first chance to stand before the British voters as the nation's prime minister. It's an election he asked for, yet the campaign hasn't been without its bumps in the road.

Critics have raised doubts about his trustworthiness - an important question, given that Johnson is trying to assure voters that he can get the UK out of the European Union by the end of January and then follow that up with successful negotiation for a new trade relationship.

They cite a string of broken promises or misleading statements, including on healthcare and his Brexit plan for Northern Ireland. He has also been criticised for refusing to discuss the number of children he has, an issue that was even picked up in the US media.

"The theme running through our questions is trust," BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil said of an interview he had hoped to conduct with Johnson. "And why, so many times in his career in politics and journalism, critics and sometimes even those close to him have deemed him to be untrustworthy."

Johnson declined an election interview on Neil's programme - the only candidate to do so in recent elections. He also declined to appear at a climate debate, and instead was represented by a melting block of ice.

Even Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, hasn't hesitated to employ his dagger.

"I've known Boris on and off for 25 years, and he is a likeable, entertaining personality, he said. "Would you absolutely trust him? No."

 

A viral moment

Perhaps most damaging to Johnson in the final days of the campaign was the publication on Monday of a photograph of an ill four-year-old boy, admitted to a Leeds hospital emergency room, lying on a pile of coats because there were no available cots.

The image, which went viral on social media, has put the Conservatives on their heels, as they apologise for the child's ordeal and defend themselves against charges that the incident was indicative of an underfunded health system.

Johnson responded with a halting interview with an ITV reporter. He initially refused to look at a photo of the child on the reporter's phone, taking the device away and putting it in his own pocket, saying he would "study it later".

His behaviour could reinforce the perception that the prime minister is not always well equipped to handle criticism and sometimes struggles to display empathy.

Corbyn pounced, saying the Conservatives have had "nine years in office, and whilst they now claim they are funding the NHS, they are not; they're not even beginning to make up the shortfall it's had over the past nine years."

 

Corbyn's credibility and ideology

The Labour Party leader isn't free from his own personal criticisms, however. His mixed and contradictory messages on Brexit - refusing to make Labour an avowedly Remain party - have undermined his credibility.

Given the party's delicate position of trying to represent constituencies that voted strongly to Leave and others that were vehemently Remain, Corbyn has tried to straddle the line between the two sides - but seems to have angered some on both sides.

However, following him in North Wales this week, he rarely brought up the subject, preferring to talk about his promise to invest in the health service.

He has also been accused of inadequately addressing anti-Semitism with his party's ranks, of pushing out moderate voices within the party and of previously harbouring sympathies for the IRA.

Johnson was quick to bring this last point up in the final leader debate on Friday, as a means of deflecting Corbyn's criticisms of Johnson's proposed solution to the seemingly intractable problem of withdrawing the UK from the EU while keeping the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic seamless.

The Labour manifesto reflects Corbyn's socialist sympathies - and has opened him up to attack from moderates, as well. He has called for higher taxes, a nationalisation of industries like mail, water and energy and a four-day work week, among other proposals.

 

A Brexit election

History books will probably remember this as the Brexit election.

Johnson himself took over the top job earlier this year only after his predecessor, Theresa May, repeatedly failed in her efforts to pass a withdrawal deal. Because of this, the Conservatives are campaigning on a "Get Brexit Done" slogan - an effort to pry away dozens of longtime Labour constituencies that voted Leave.

More than that, however, Johnson's campaign is centred on his desire to win a working Conservative majority in Parliament for the first time since 2017. Everything, he says, hinges on that - Brexit, new trade deals with the EU and US, a tax cut and increased spending on the National Health Service and education.

UK-US relations are a precarious matter for Johnson - a "special relationship" fraught with potential and peril.

US President Donald Trump is largely unpopular in the UK. His feud with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, intemperate tweets about UK politics and vitriolic treatment of a British ambassador to the US have helped make him persona non grata for many Britons.

Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party have sought to exploit Johnson's perceived closeness to the US president, suggesting that US access to the British health system was "on the table" in trade talks.

At the very least this suggests that a US-UK relationship with Corbyn in London and Trump still in Washington will be strained, at best.

 

The other parties to watch

There was some thought that the struggles of the two major parties and their leaders might leave room for some of the smaller parties - such as the Liberal Democrats, the Brexit Party, and the nationalist parties SNP in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales, to gain traction.

While the SNP appears poised to do well again in the seats they are contesting, the others are struggling, despite co-operative agreements and efforts to encourage tactical voting in marginal constituencies.

Instead, in the majority of the nation, it will boil down to a fight between two parties, Labour and the Conservatives, and the two distinct personalities and political proclivities of their leaders.

Johnson, often unkempt and unscripted, has pushed his side towards a conservative populism embodied in his full-throated support for Brexit. While direct comparisons with Trump in the US often fall apart on closer inspection, Johnson - like his American counterpart - is a disrupter, who has shown himself willing to set aside norms and traditions in pursuit of his policy objectives.

Meanwhile Corbyn, chosen to be his party's leader in 2015, represents a decisive shift to the left for the Labour Party of recent decades. If there is an American parallel here, his rise is the equivalent of a Bernie Sanders-style figure taking control of the Democratic Party.

Labour is a very different party now than the last time it held No 10 Downing Street, during the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown years of the early 2000s.

Many UK voters, regardless of political affiliation, may also look at the events of the past decade and wonder if this is a very different United Kingdom, as well.

On Thursday exactly what kind of country it is will begin to take shape.

 

BBC

Wednesday, 11 December 2019 15:05

Jersey City: Deadly gun battle kills six people

A police officer and at least five other people have died in a series of gun battles in Jersey City, in the US state of New Jersey.

Two other police officers were wounded during the incident, which ended in a shootout after two gunmen barricaded themselves in a kosher supermarket.

A motive for the incident is not yet known. But the mayor said investigators believe the location was "targeted".

Several local schools and businesses were also put on temporary lockdown.

Authorities identified the police officer who died as Joseph Seals, 39, who was part of a state-wide programme to confiscate illegal weaponry.

Speaking to reporters, Jersey City Police Chief Mike Kelly said Mr Seals was a "leading police officer in removing guns from the street".

 

How did the attack unfold?

Mr Kelly said violence first erupted at a cemetery just after 12:00 local time (17:00 GMT) on Tuesday. Local media reported that confrontation between police and the suspects was linked to a murder investigation, but this has not been confirmed by authorities.

Police at the scene immediately came under "high-powered rifle fire", Mr Kelly told reporters, and it is believed that Mr Seals was killed while approaching the two suspects, who have not been publicly identified.

The pair fled the scene in a van and took shelter in a kosher supermarket where they held off armed police and federal officials for four hours, shooting off hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Investigators believe the two gunmen killed three people in the shop before they were shot dead. At least one survivor from the shop is being treated for injuries.

Mr Kelly said investigators also believe the suspects' van contained an "incendiary device" which was removed and taken away for examination by police disposal specialists.

 

What about the motivation of the gunmen?

Officials initially said they believed the shop was chosen at random and that they did not believe it was an act of terrorism.

But on Tuesday night, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said on Twitter that authorities "now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked".

"Due to an excess of caution the community may see additional police resources in the days/weeks ahead," Mr Fulop said, noting there has been no indication of further threats.

Officials have not elaborated on why they believe the location was targeted. They have also not commented further on whether the attack was driven by anti-Semitism.

But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said while there was no known threat to the city, he had also placed police on high alert, especially in Jewish communities. Jersey City is part of the New York metropolitan area.

"This tragically confirms that a growing pattern of violent anti-Semitism has now turned into a crisis for our nation," he said in a tweet. "And now this threat has reached the doorstep of New York City."

 

 

BBC

The Presidency has said Nigerians including media outfits are free to address President Muhammadu Buhari by his military rank of Major General as the administration promotes freedom of speech in the country.

Mr Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesman, stated this while reacting to a decision of one of the daily newspapers that it would henceforth address the president by his rank of Major-General.

The presidential aide said: “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 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.”

 

(NAN)

A former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, on Wednesday, appeared before a Federal High Court in Lagos over alleged N338.8 million money laundering charges.

Ikuforiji is charged alongside his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi.

The defendants were first arraigned on March 1, 2012 before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on a 20-count charge bordering on misappropriation and money laundering.

They had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.

The defendants were, however, subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba, following a re-assignment of the case.

On September 26, 2014, Justice Buba discharged Ikuforiji and his aide of the charges, after upholding a no-case submission of the defendants.

Buba had held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to establish a prima-facie case against them.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC through its counsel, Mr Godwin Obla (SAN), filed the Notice of Appeal dated September 30, 2014 challenging the decision of the trial court.

Obla had argued that the trial court erred in law when it held that the counts were incompetent because they were filed under Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 which was repealed by an Act of 2011.

EFCC further argued that the lower court erred in law when it held that the provisions of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and 2011, only applied to natural persons and corporate bodies other than the government.

The commission had also submitted that the trial judge erred in law when he held and concluded that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses supported the innocence of the respondents.

In its judgment, the Lagos Division of the Appeal Court, in November 2016, agreed with the prosecution and ordered a fresh trial of the defendants before another judge.

Following the decision of the Appeal Court, the defendants headed to the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the ruling of the appellate court.

Again, in its verdict, the apex court also upheld the decision of the appellate court and ordered that the case be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge.

The trial is now to begin de novo (afresh) before a new judge, Justice Mohammed Liman.

On Wednesday, Mr Ekele Iheanacho appeared for the prosecution while Mr Dele Adesina (SAN) appeared for the defendants.

The case was called and the defendants moved into the dock.

The amended 54-count charge was read to them and they both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

After their pleas, Iheanacho asked the court for a trial date and prayed that the defendants be remanded in custody pending bail.

But Justice Liman held that since the charge was not new to the parties and since the defendants were already on bail, he would not make any remand order, but allow the defendants continue on existing bail.

The prosecution, however, argued that since the matter was commencing afresh, a fresh bail application ought to be moved.

The court, again, disagreed with the submission on the grounds that the charge was the same and the bail initially granted subsists.

Liman then warned parties that the court would not tolerate unnecessary adjournments or repeated amendments to the charge during proceedings.

The court also directed parties to meet and confer on which document they do not intend to oppose, so as to ensure a smooth trial.

Meanwhile, the judge said that the existing sureties should appear and renew their suretiship within two weeks, adding that where they are no more interested in being sureties, the defendants must ensure they produce new ones.

The court held that where the defendants fail to comply, a bench warrant may be issued against them.

Following agreement of parties, the case was adjourned until February 5 and February 19, 2020 for trial.

According to the charge, EFCC alleges that the defendants accepted cash payments above the threshold set by the Money Laundering Act, without going through a financial institution.

The commission accused the defendants of conspiring to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments in the aggregate sum of N338.8 million from the House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.

Ikuforiji was also accused of using his position to misappropriate funds belonging to the Assembly.

The EFCC said that the defendants committed the offences between April 2010 and July 2011.

The offences, according to the EFCC, contravene the provisions of Sections 15 (1d), 16(1d) and 18 of Money Laundering Act, 2004 and 2011.

 

 

THISDAY

 

Archbishop of Kaduna Catholic Diocese, Dr. Mathew Man-Oso Ndagoso and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Mathew Kukah have asked Nigerians not to entrust their faith onto politicians.

To them, Nigerian political leaders are not just.

 

The clerics spoke at Kufana in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State when Bishop Ndagoso led the Bishops of Sokoto, Zaria, Minna, Kano and the administrator of Kafanchan to conduct mass for victims of various killings in Kajuru.

They noted that the crises bedevilling the country were caused by injustice from government.

Bishop Kukah, who addressed families of victims of Kajuru killings, urged the people not to trust politicians.
At the mass, which held at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Kufana, the cleric advised Nigerians to entrust their faith in God instead of politicians.

He said the attacks on the communities in Kajuru should be a lesson to all.
According to him, the deaths were not natural but the handiwork of those he called evil men.

Kukah said the clerics were in the community to meet with Christians and Muslims and to see how to make them live in peace and unity.

 

He said: “The violence that occurred in the area should teach Nigerians a great lesson not to entrust their faith in politicians but in God.

“Those who were killed did not die by divine calling of God, but were killed by evil men. And this is the kind of thinking that says if you successfully robbed somebody, it is because God wants that person to be robbed. Or, when politicians carry out violence and rig elections and come to power, it is because God wants it to be so.

“My own God of the Catholic Church is not a supporter of evil and such thinking cannot be right. Our coming here is to see that all affected persons, irrespective of tribe, religion, is encouraged. Muslims and Christians in Kajuru should stand in unity and for peace. If you don’t allow the evil men to take advantage of the crack in your relationship, they will not find a space to enter.”

Addressing reporters after the mass, Archbishop Ndagoso accused political leaders of injustice.
The cleric noted that the injustice over the years had robbed the nation of the peace and unity required among the citizens for the development and growth of Nigeria.

He said he and other Christians were in the community “as church leaders to give hope, console and give joy in all circumstances of life to the families of victims of the crisis”.

Ndagoso said: “We all know the story of Kajuru Local Government crisis, especially within last year and the two quarters of this year. We knew what happened. If there is a problem between farmers and herders, it is not for us as religious leaders to take sides. Ours is to say the truth and ensure that justice is done to everybody.

“And we all know that we are where we are in this country because of inequality, simply because people are treated differently in terms of the provisions of infrastructural facilities. And so, where there are disparities and people are treated unequally, there are bound to be problems.

“So, this is where we stand as religious and Catholic leaders. Our own is to give hope and also strengthen the people.

“I can tell you that if you dig deep down, it is not only the crisis here in Kajuru, it is not only the crisis in the North or the Niger Delta region. Most of these things are hinged on injustice.”

The Northern Catholic bishops donated N2.5 million to the victims and gave the Fulani communities financial assistance.

 

TheNation

Edo State Governor Mr Godwin Obaseki
Edo State Governor Mr Godwin Obaseki

Edo State Governor Mr Godwin Obaseki has charged the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders in the energy sector to collaboratively square up against crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, saying that the country has lost $1.3 billion to the perennial menace.

The Governor gave the charge in Abuja on Tuesday at a policy dialogue organised by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

According to him, the issue of oil theft in Nigeria remains a beast that must be crushed due to the devastating economic and environmental consequences on the country.

Governor Obaseki said that crude oil vandalism, oil theft and illegal bunkering have been of great concern to the government, particularly the National Economic Council (NEC), adding that the Council has offered recommendations which are being considered.

 

“In terms of reference, we were first asked to look at how production can be sustained and restored in the three major lines: the Trans-Niger pipelines, the Nembe creek trunkline and the Trans Forcados pipeline,” the Governor explained.

“We are working with all the players in the industry, some of whom are here.

“For the first half of this year, we lost 22.6 billion barrels of crude oil with an estimated cost of about $1.3 billion. The largest losses came from lines that were operated by the same companies. We also noticed that the lines that were sourced, the third parties recorded the most losses.

“We should think of a proper governance structure for our strategic pipelines. They are strategic national assets. Yes, they are owned by individuals but they carry products that sustain the life of this country. So, we cannot deal with them like properties that are privately owned.

“To contain this crisis at this point in time we recommended that we should set up the proper governance structure which entails proper security to ensure further accountability.

“If it is possible, the Federal Government should reconsider repossessing these lines for a short while until we understand what’s going on. So, the government should be in charge with and work with the private owners to put proper security measures for these lines,” Obaseki recommended.

 

sun