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1
NEWS / Anambra Doctors To Screen Gov Aspirants
« on: Today at 05:17:15 AM »
The Nigerian Medical Association, Anambra State chapter, on Tuesday said it would participate actively in the process that would produce the next governor of the state on November 18.

It said the time when the elite stood aloof and allowed the barely educated to foist leaders on the people of the state had passed.

The Chairman of the NMA in Anambra State, Dr. Jude-Kennedy Emejulu, stated this at a press conference at the association’s secretariat in Awka.

For this reason, the group said it had set up a committee called ‘Governorship Public Square Interaction’, headed by Dr. Jide Onyekwelu, to screen the governorship aspirants in the state.

Emejulu said the NMA was set to increase its socio-political relevance in the state and increase the visibility of the group in governance.

He said the NMA had, in the previous governorship elections, organised a political debate for aspirants but that this time  it would go beyond debate.

He said, “The interaction we are putting together is expected to actualise attitudinal change among the leaders and the followers because the major problem of Nigeria in general, Anambra State inclusive, is the failure on the part of the leaders and the followers.”

Speaking, Onyekwelu, who gave an overview of the political development in the state since its creation, said the state had had a chequered history.

He said, “Our elections were not won through the ballot but at the court of law. This has brought about voters’ apathy and vote sale. The voters believe their votes do not count and they easily fall to the temptation of selling to politicians.

“The politician, when he ‘wins’, has the preoccupation of recouping his expenses first before considering the welfare of the people. Whether the people vote or not, the court uses one technicality or the other to declare a candidate the winner.”

2
Angry female protesters from Effurun and its neighbouring communities, on Tuesday, shut down commercial activities at the Benin Electricity Distribution Company in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, owing to the failure by the BEDC to fix a faulty transformer several months after collecting money from residents.

The protesters, in their hundreds, had earlier barricaded the busy Effurun/Sapele Road and the popular PTI Road, Effurun, stalling vehicular movement and causing gridlock for several hours.

They demanded the BEDC to immediately investigate the situation and restore light to the area.

Leader of the protesting women, Mrs Kehinde Ejebubor, claimed that one of the transformers servicing the area had gone bad for over four months without BEDC’s officials fixing it, which made residents of the area to contribute money to the BEDC to urgently fix it.

Ejebubor lamented that despite the contribution made to BEDC’s officials to fix the problem, the power situation in the area had not improved.

 She said, “Over four months ago, our transformer was bad and the BEDC did nothing about it. Whenever we complained to them, they told us they do not have the materials to fix it. We resorted to self-help and we tasked each building to contribute N5,000 each, which we gathered and handed over to BEDC officials to fix the transformer.

“Two months after fixing it, the situation still did not improve. We were told they were going to be rationing light on a daily basis, even the one day we are supposed to have power supply, they give us for just one hour and we stayed in darkness for the rest of the day.

“To worsen the issue, all those months our transformer was bad and we were in blackout, they still brought us bills. For instance, I stay in a three-bedroomed apartment along Alegbo road, they billed me N23,000 in one of those months our transformer was bad and we asked them how they arrived at the estimation when we never had power.”

The protesters further lamented that the power situation was forcing many petty traders and other business owners from the area out of business as they could not afford the high cost of fuel to power their generators.

“We have been complaining and the management of the BEDC has turned deaf ears to our plight and that is why we have decided to stage this peaceful protest to register our grievances with the BEDC management in this area,” she added.

The Chairman, Uvwie Local Government Council, Mrs. Stella Dobonor, in company with some council leaders, rushed to the scene to appeal to the protesting women and promised to meet with the official of the distribution company.

Dobonor promised to personally preside over the meeting in order to ensure there was a lasting resolution to the tension between the affected communities and the BEDC management.

3
NEWS / NDLEA Arrests Mothers For Selling Cannabis
« on: Today at 05:15:42 AM »
Three women have been arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency in Badagry, Lagos State.

It was learnt that the suspects — Adesola Kolawole, 30; Sade Oyewale, 44; and 36-year-old Kadijat Mojeet — were found with about four kilogrammes of cannabis in their hideouts.

A statement by the NDLEA on Tuesday said the arrest followed complaints from members of the public, who reported that the suspects constituted a nuisance in the area.

Adesola, a mother of two children, who allegedly sold cannabis mixed with alcohol, popularly called ‘monkey tail’, said she used the proceeds for the upkeep of her family.

She said, “I am from Ekiti State and I have been selling the mixture for over a year. I earn an average of N5,000 daily, which I use to sustain my family.”

Sade, a native of Osun State, and Mojeet, who have four children respectively, were also said to have confessed to the crime.

The NDLEA commander in Seme, Mr. Udotong Essien, said the command was on the trail of other suspects at large.

He said, “Kolawole was caught with 2.750kg of cannabis fermented in alcohol; Oyewale was caught with 300 grammes of cannabis and Mojeet was found with 1.1kg of dried weed of cannabis.

“We received complaints that these three women were illegally selling and allowing the use of cannabis on their premises. Investigation confirmed the allegation of sales and smoking of cannabis.  Subsequently, they were apprehended while drug exhibits were recovered from them.”

The NDLEA Chairman, Col. Muhammad Abdallah (retd.), expressed disappointment over the action of the women, saying they were supposed to be role models to their children and the society.

“They will be prosecuted to deter others from getting involved in drug trafficking,” Abdallah added.

4
NEWS / Epe Kidnap: ERC Decries Failure To Rescue Pupils
« on: Today at 05:15:03 AM »
The Education Rights Campaign, Lagos State chapter, says the continuous stay of six pupils of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, with kidnappers is condemnable.

The ERC, which expressed sympathy for the families of the victims, demanded immediate rescue of the six pupils.

A statement on Tuesday by the state Coordinator of the ERC, Nurudeen Omomeewa, urged the police and other security agencies to stop giving assurances and start showing results.

“That the six kidnapped pupils have stayed for over a month in kidnappers’ den is clear evidence that the police and other security agencies have failed in the discharge of their responsibilities,” the statement added.

The body called on the Lagos State Government to do everything possible to rescue the children, saying excuses were unacceptable.

“The only result we want to see is the rescue of the six pupils and their safe return to the arms of their families. We will like to remind the state government that one of its major responsibilities as enshrined in the constitution is the safety of lives of the citizens. If those six pupils were to be children of politicians and highly-placed individuals in the society, we are sure that the state government would have been more proactive in seeking their release.

“The continuous stay of the children in kidnappers’ den is a stain on the state government and its capacity to guarantee the safety of citizens,” the ERC said.

It called for a solution to the problem of kidnapping, adding that the crime and others were direct consequences of youth unemployment, lack of opportunities and poverty.

“In Lagos in particular, the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led All Progressives Congress government’s anti-poor policies of rendering people jobless and homeless through seizure of commercial motorcycles, confiscation of wares of petty traders and arbitrary demolition of poor people’s homes to pave the way for developers are the reasons that kidnapping and other social vices are on the rise.

“Unless these anti-poor policies of the government are immediately reversed and replaced with pro-people policies that create jobs and ensure that the poor and the vulnerable are taken care of, it will not be possible to curb the menace of kidnapping and other social vices,” the ERC said.

5
NEWS / Kogi To Electrify 100 Communities This Year
« on: Today at 05:14:22 AM »
The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has inaugurated rural electrification projects expected to serve eight communities in Lokoja and Kontokarfe Local Government Areas of the state.

The governor said that the state would extend the electrification projects to 100 communities before the end of this year.

The electrification projects already inaugurated included a 33KVA overhead line extension moving through Jamata from Zango-Daji junction to Banda in Lokoja Local Government.

Bello said the communities that would benefit from the overhead line extension project included Banda, Kungbani, Karara, Ijiho, Ohono, Akpayan, Jamata and Koton Karfe.

Bello, while inaugurating the project, said it was in fulfilment of his campaign promise to provide electricity that would serve as a catalyst for cottage industries development in the state.

He added that the project, which was completed within a year, would improve the living standard of the people, especially the rural dwellers.

Bello, who promised that the electrification project would be extended to more rural communities, urged artisans to take advantage of the power supply to expand their business.

The governor urged the people to protect the facility from vandals and pay their bills promptly so that effective service would be sustained.

Earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Energy, Mr. Otayitie  Eminefo, had said the government had lined up 100 communities to be electrified in 2017, adding that the people of the state would continue to benefit from the New Direction Agenda programmes and policies of the Bello administration.

“Kogi is going in a new direction and before 2019, the state will compete favourably with other developed states in the country. I will say that the governor has done so well in so many aspects,” he added.

6
The leader of the Boko Haram terrorist sect, Abubakar Shekau, has said the sect was responsible for the attack on a military/police convoy and the abduction of about 10 policewomen along the Damboa-Maiduguri Road last week.

Shekau said this in a new video posted on the website of online newspaper, Sahara Reporters.

The post was viewed by our correspondent, in Abuja, on Tuesday.

The video, which lasted about 17 minutes, showed the sect leader accusing Nigeria’s military and political leadership of lying to the public that Boko Haram had been defeated.

While condemning the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians in the country, Shekau warned that the sect would not spare liberal Muslims when attacking unless they repented and follow ‘the path of Allah’.

“Did you not read that the prophet said you (Muslims) should not eat with a plate used by a Jew (infidel) without first washing the plate?” he asked.

Shekau claimed that Allah had helped his sect capture some policewomen and made them the slaves of the sect.

He said, “I want to tell you that we are responsible for the work. We thank Allah. We got victory from our creator. That work that happened along the Damboa-Maiduguri Road, it was Allah who did it, not us.

“The people of Nigeria, repent and go to Allah. Your leaders are lying to you. We are here in good health, if you see how we are, you will say let me go there and also enjoy. This is just here on earth, what we look forward to is heaven.

“This work has put a lie to claims by Nigeria’s military, the police and the big men of Nigeria who keep telling the people that ‘we have defeated Boko Haram’. Even with the people, those who lie always cannot succeed, let along with Allah.”

“In short, we are responsible for this, what we did is nothing compared to our women, children and friends that have been arrested, detained, tortured and killed by the Nigerian government. They (policewomen) are not more than 10 or there about.”

7
A former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, has blamed President Muhammadu Buhari’s media team for the controversy generated by the President’s Sallah message which was broadcast only in Hausa.

Okupe said this in a write-up titled, ‘My take on PMB’s Hausa broadcast,’ which was posted on his official Facebook page on Tuesday.

Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had, in a statement on Saturday conveyed the message of the President to Nigerians while the BBC aired a recorded audio version of the message.

There had been reports in the social media claiming that the President was suffering from speech impairment and memory loss. The audio was intended to counter the narrative.

However, Okupe said Buhari’s media aides should not have acted out of desperation.

He further rejected the excuse that the broadcast was part of an interview Buhari had in Hausa with the radio station.

Okupe said, “I have pondered a while on the supposed message to Nigerians in Hausa language by President Buhari. I believe the voice is the voice of PMB and not any phoney laboratory creation.

“I also believe strongly that PMB never intended the statement to be used as a direct message to the nation. It’s one of two possibilities

“The media handlers, in desperation to dispel unwarranted rumours of the President’s ‘death’ or extreme incapacitation, arranged for a correspondent of the BBC Hausa Service to record a message for the station to be relayed to its listeners.

“The claim that it was an interview cannot be correct. An interview is a question and answer session, not a monologue. What question was PMB answering when he said ‘I, Muhammadu Buhari’?”

Okupe said it was likely that there was a lack of coordination within the Buhari’s media team which led to the fiasco.

He advised them to learn from the mistake in order not to repeat it.

Okupe added, “The other possibility, which I consider to be more probable, is that someone, maybe Garba Shehu, requested a message from PMB and because he was talking with an aide who is a northerner, he spoke to him in Hausa, expecting that this will naturally be translated to English and issued out officially from the Presidency.

“Thereafter, before the official process could be concluded, someone had forwarded an advance copy to the BBC Hausa Service, and journalists, being who they are with insatiable desire for scoops and breaking news, released it instantly for maximum effects.

“No matter how we look at it, sheer desperation has caused someone to commit a near fatal public relations disaster. Alas, the President has suffered an incalculable damage for that but I am sure the handlers have learnt yet another painful lesson.”

8
NEWS / Sanusi Calls For Peace, Unity Among Nigerians
« on: Today at 05:12:14 AM »
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, has called on Nigerians to continue to live in peace with one another irrespective of their religious or ethnic affiliations.

Sanusi made the call on Tuesday during the traditional Hawan Nasarawa at the Government House, Kano.

The Emir advised adherents of the Islamic faith to practise the lessons of Ramadan for peace to continue to reign in the country.

He also urged the state government to enlighten the people of the state, especially the youths on the importance of peace.

Sanusi called on the state government to provide pesticides to farmers whose crops were affected by pests in some local government areas of the state.

The royal father then called on government to ensure sanitation in order to avoid flooding.

In his remarks, the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, thanked the Emir for his contribution to the peace, stability and unity in the state.

“We are very grateful for your call on peaceful co-existence due to the position of Kano as centre of commerce and industry.

“We also want to emphasise the need for peaceful co-existence because it is the tool for achieving unity and progress as no nation can make progress without unity,” he said.

The governor said that the government and the people of the state had a cordial relationship with the heads of other ethnic groups.

“We completed two hospitals with 500 beds and we provided them with state of art equipment,” he said.

He further urged all Nigerians to contribute to the development of the country and pray for the speedy recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari.

9
INEC officials accused of collecting N360m bribe from Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, during the Rivers State rerun polls, appearing for their arraignment in Abuja... on Tuesday.
Femi Makinde, Osogbo

The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the All Progressives Congress of conniving with some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission officials to disenfranchise voters by deleting their names from voter registers especially in the opposition party’s strongholds.

The Chairman of the PDP in Osun State, Mr. Soji Adagunodo, said this at a press conference he and other leaders of the party addressed in Osogbo on Tuesday ahead of the by-election for Osun West Senatorial District scheduled for July 8.

He also alleged that the ruling party, in connivance with some electoral officers had perfected plans to send wrong electoral materials to polling units in areas where the PDP was popular just to delay the commencement of voting and to manipulate the process in favour of the candidate of the APC, Mudasiru Hussain.

The opposition party also claimed that the APC had perfected plans to cause violence in Ede and some other local government areas on election day  in order ensure cancellation of the result.

“The APC election strategy committee is conniving with certain elements in INEC to recruit OYES cadets and other party sympathisers as presiding officers and polling clerks. Part of the plans is to provide fake NYSC uniforms and distribute same to these elements in order to make them carry out this criminal plan.

“There are also plans by the APC to ensure that INEC allocate non-functioning card readers to areas considered as strongholds of the PDP. This, in their thinking, would slow down accreditation of voters and get voters discouraged.

“We have credible information about the plans of the APC and the state government to arrange the kidnap and or arrest of leaders of the PDP in certain local government areas on the eve of the July 8th by-election.

“As we speak, certain chieftains of the APC have compiled names of their party members and sympathisers to be accredited by INEC as election observers and monitors.

“You will recall that 181 of these same elements from Osun State were arrested somewhere in Imo State in 2013, while travelling as fake observers for the Anambra governorship election.”

Adagunodo also alleged that the APC was pushing for a shift in the date of the election because it had become obvious that its candidate was not popular among the electorate and they needed more time to repackage him.

He advised INEC not to yield to the pressure the APC was allegedly mounting on it to shift the date by three weeks, in order for it not to appear as a puppet of the ruling party.

Adagunodo said, “ At the stakeholders’ meeting we had with INEC in this state,  we suggested that the election should hold on 22nd of July but out of 24  political parties that attended that meeting, 22 parties agreed that it should  hold on 22nd of July with the exception of the APC and one other party that suggested that the election should hold on the 8th.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission has been under immense pressure from the APC leadership  to shift the date of the forthcoming by-election by three weeks. We hereby advise  INEC to refuse this request as doing so will compromise its integrity and cast a great doubt on its independence as an electoral umpire.”

But the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, described the allegations against the ruling party as baseless and product of ‘sick mentality.’

Oyatomi said the PDP should substantiate all its claims with evidence otherwise the party leaders should be arrested and prosecuted by the police.

He said, “We challenge the PDP to go further and authenticate the so-called allegations and identify the so-called leaders of the APC with all the technical,  electronic and forensic evidence necessary to prove the allegations.

“We also call on the security agents to invite the PDP leaders to convince them of all the allegations, otherwise they should be prosecuted. The APC believes that this allegation of rigging is the product of sick mentality of the Osun PDP and its supporters, who are psychologically tormented by the obsession to win Osun West Senatorial seat by any concoctive and demonic means.

“We declare that the APC can never descend to the criminality of accessing electoral materials let alone of planning to  rig the forthcoming election.

“We are therefore alerting all good people of the state of Osun to discountenance the stupid allegations by the PDP who could not do anything to the constant defeats they have suffered in the hands of APC since 2011.”

10
Kinsmen of former President Goodluck Jonathan under the aegis of Ogbia Brotherhood Youth Council on Tuesday warned the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, to desist from attacking on the ex-President.

The PUNCH reported that the IPOB leader had described Jonathan as weak and incompetent.

Kanu had accused the former President of not completing the East-West Road and for doing nothing for his people.

“I love Yar’Adua and Shehu Shagari, Patience Jonathan would have made a better President than Goodluck,” Kanu had said.

But the National President of the OBYC, Dr. Laguo Gilbert, in a statement, described Kanu’s comments as most unfortunate and advised members of the public to disregard them.

Gilbert said, “Such radical statements remain one of the reasons the IPOB agitation lacks its required substance.

“The OBYC, however, advises Kanu to learn from the mistakes made by the group in the past and its predecessor, as this will be necessary to implement its vision.”

While maintaining that bringing Jonathan into Biafra issues in such a manner would not help or give credence to its deep-rooted rancour, the group warned Kanu “to stop linking a honourable man like Jonathan with his agitation which is lacking vision and direction.”

“Bringing former President Jonathan into its issues in such a disrespectful manner will neither help nor give credence to its rancour. The OBYC, therefore, warns Nnamdi Kanu to desist forthwith from linking a man of honour like Jonathan with his visionless agitation.”

11
The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the All Progressives Congress of conniving with some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission officials to disenfranchise voters by deleting their names from voter registers especially in the opposition party’s strongholds.

The Chairman of the PDP in Osun State, Mr. Soji Adagunodo, said this at a press conference he and other leaders of the party addressed in Osogbo on Tuesday ahead of the by-election for Osun West Senatorial District scheduled for July 8.

He also alleged that the ruling party, in connivance with some electoral officers had perfected plans to send wrong electoral materials to polling units in areas where the PDP was popular just to delay the commencement of voting and to manipulate the process in favour of the candidate of the APC, Mudasiru Hussain.

The opposition party also claimed that the APC had perfected plans to cause violence in Ede and some other local government areas on election day  in order ensure cancellation of the result.

“The APC election strategy committee is conniving with certain elements in INEC to recruit OYES cadets and other party sympathisers as presiding officers and polling clerks. Part of the plans is to provide fake NYSC uniforms and distribute same to these elements in order to make them carry out this criminal plan.

“There are also plans by the APC to ensure that INEC allocate non-functioning card readers to areas considered as strongholds of the PDP. This, in their thinking, would slow down accreditation of voters and get voters discouraged.

“We have credible information about the plans of the APC and the state government to arrange the kidnap and or arrest of leaders of the PDP in certain local government areas on the eve of the July 8th by-election.

“As we speak, certain chieftains of the APC have compiled names of their party members and sympathisers to be accredited by INEC as election observers and monitors.

“You will recall that 181 of these same elements from Osun State were arrested somewhere in Imo State in 2013, while travelling as fake observers for the Anambra governorship election.”

Adagunodo also alleged that the APC was pushing for a shift in the date of the election because it had become obvious that its candidate was not popular among the electorate and they needed more time to repackage him.

He advised INEC not to yield to the pressure the APC was allegedly mounting on it to shift the date by three weeks, in order for it not to appear as a puppet of the ruling party.

Adagunodo said, “ At the stakeholders’ meeting we had with INEC in this state,  we suggested that the election should hold on 22nd of July but out of 24  political parties that attended that meeting, 22 parties agreed that it should  hold on 22nd of July with the exception of the APC and one other party that suggested that the election should hold on the 8th.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission has been under immense pressure from the APC leadership  to shift the date of the forthcoming by-election by three weeks. We hereby advise  INEC to refuse this request as doing so will compromise its integrity and cast a great doubt on its independence as an electoral umpire.”

But the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, described the allegations against the ruling party as baseless and product of ‘sick mentality.’

Oyatomi said the PDP should substantiate all its claims with evidence otherwise the party leaders should be arrested and prosecuted by the police.

He said, “We challenge the PDP to go further and authenticate the so-called allegations and identify the so-called leaders of the APC with all the technical,  electronic and forensic evidence necessary to prove the allegations.

“We also call on the security agents to invite the PDP leaders to convince them of all the allegations, otherwise they should be prosecuted. The APC believes that this allegation of rigging is the product of sick mentality of the Osun PDP and its supporters, who are psychologically tormented by the obsession to win Osun West Senatorial seat by any concoctive and demonic means.

“We declare that the APC can never descend to the criminality of accessing electoral materials let alone of planning to  rig the forthcoming election.

“We are therefore alerting all good people of the state of Osun to discountenance the stupid allegations by the PDP who could not do anything to the constant defeats they have suffered in the hands of APC since 2011.”

12
The acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday again assured Nigerians that the present administration was not deaf to grievances in parts of the country.

While urging that such grievances should be expressed with grace, he said the Federal Government would address all of them.

The assurance was contained in a statement made available to journalists by the Senior Special Assistant to the acting President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande.

Akande, while summing up the series of consultations Osinbajo had with critical stakeholders on the agitations in parts of the country, said the acting President assured his guests that the government would address their grievances.

He said while the consultations were concluded last week, the Presidency would continue to actively engage with different segments of the Nigerian population at different stages and format in the near future.

He explained that the consultations were meant to provide a platform for frank and open discussions between the concerned stakeholders and by extension the Nigerian public on issues relating to the unity, peace and security of the country.

He disclosed that the meetings touched on various issues relating to the ethnic agitations that had manifested most recently in a call for secession by some youth groups from the South-East and the ultimatum given by northern youths to south-easterners living in the North to leave the region by October 1.

Akande said the meetings condemned all the hate and divisive rhetoric by the concerned groups; affirmed the primacy of the nation’s constitution, which guarantees freedom of residence and of movement for all Nigerians anywhere in the country, without fear of discrimination or prejudice; and affirmed the need to draw a line between the freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution and the degeneration of such expression into hateful rhetoric, prejudice and hatred.

He said under no circumstances would government condone or tolerate hate speech in any way or form.

He added, “The meetings also affirmed the necessity of confronting all grievances and frustrations head-on, however uncomfortable that might seem now; instead of ignoring issues and allowing them to fester.

“The meetings affirmed the need for all leaders and elders, regardless of political or ideological persuasion, to speak out more forcefully to counter divisive and hate speeches and any form of warmongering.

“The acting President expresses appreciation to all the leaders for their time and commitment to the unity, peace and progress of the Nigerian nation.

“He also assures the Nigerian people of the determination and resolve of the Buhari administration to ensure their well-being and security at all times.

 “The Federal Government will continue to actively engage with Nigerians of all shades and opinions in its bid to move the country forward on a path of socio-economic development and ultimate greatness.”

13
The Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, on Tuesday, led his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party and some Rivers monarchs to the Palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar.

Also present at the visit were a former acting National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus; a former Governor of Rivers State, Celestine Omehia, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ohueze Okocha (SAN); the Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanayabo of Opobo Kingdom, King Dandeson Jaja, and two other monarchs.

Tambuwal’s media aide, Imam Imam, said in a statement that Wike reiterated the need for Nigeria to remain as one, indivisible and united nation, adding that the government and people of Rivers would not be part of agitation to break up the country.

Wike said every nation in the world had its peculiar challenges as such the onus was on the leaders of Nigeria to find lasting solutions to the various challenges confronting the nation.

He said there were better ways to solve the agitations and problems facing Nigeria, rather than a pondering on a break-up.

“Rivers State and its people believe in the oneness and unity of Nigeria and that is our stand. In Sokoto, we have a father in the Sultan. In fact, he is a father to all Nigerians and he is a peace builder in this country and beyond.

“I have also been friends with Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, before his emergence as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and this will be sustained despite the fact that we belong to different political parties,” he added.

Tambuwal, who accompanied Wike, had earlier said that the visit could not come at a better time than now and restated his belief in the unity of Nigeria.

The former Speaker said the visit would help to strengthen the bond of unity between the two states.

In his remarks, Sultan Abubakar said ongoing agitations in the country were symptoms of the rot in the Nigerian system.

According to him, lot of things had gone wrong in the past, but hope is not lost.

“A lot of things were done in the past by some people with impunity and nothing was done. That is why you find shortage of good governance now weighing us down in the country. However, as it is now, no matter how bad your hand is, you cannot cut it and throw it away,” he added.

The Sultan stressed the need to adopt dialogue to resolve all the misunderstandings and problems in the country.

The monarch said Nigerians should sit together, brainstorm, look at what went wrong, retrace their steps and move forward.

He appealed to statesmen in the nation to wade in this direction.

The Sultan added, “We are not short of statesmen across Nigeria and they should help the country by championing the dialogue.”

14
Some female Internally Displaced Persons in Borno State have lamented celebrating the sallah festival while their relations were allegedly held in military detentions. They urged the Federal Government to ensure their release.

The IDPs, under the umbrella of Knifar Movement, said on Tuesday that they celebrated sallah in pain without their ‘dear ones’.

They claimed that their ‘husbands, sons, daughters and mothers’ were clamped in military cells as suspected Boko Haram terrorists.

The movement, had last week, called on the acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, to wade into the matter.

The IDPs said, “This crisis has taken a lot from us. It has taken lives and peace of mind. While we celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr, the pain lingers. Ramadan is a month of solidarity. We need your solidarity to seek justice and secure the return of our dear ones.

“Many are celebrating this Eid-el-Fitr with their families. We aren’t. The Eid-el-Fitr, for us, comes with the void of our missing fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.”

15
NEWS / Restructuring: Atiku Hails APC Govs, Others
« on: Today at 05:04:16 AM »
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has commended the APC Progressive Governors Forum for joining the call for restructuring and true federalism, noting that the issue transcends religion and ethnicity.

The former vice-president, who is also a chieftain of the APC, described as patriotic the convergence of positions on restructuring by leaders and stakeholders from diverse regions of the country.

Atiku said this in a statement released by his Media Office, in Abuja, on Tuesday.

He noted that the position of the APC governors and other stakeholders confirmed that he was not a lone voice in the wilderness over the need to restructure Nigeria for the good of all.

The APC Progressives Governors Forum recently suggested reforms to Nigeria’s federal structure.

The forum said, “The focus of this restructuring is to restore the principle of non-centralisation of power in the country’s federal arrangement being the defining element of a federal polity.”

The former vice-president noted that the agitations for secession would not have arisen if the country had shown sincere readiness to address the underlying problems that fed the agitations by separatist forces.

The Waziri Adamawa explained that the restructuring debate transcended the ambition of any single politician in Nigeria, and that any attempt to ignore the agitations could make a bad situation more complicated.

Meanwhile, a former Governor of Abia State, Chief Uzor Kalu, has joined the call for the restructuring of Nigeria, saying it would bring an end to several agitations in the country.

Kalu, who spoke in Aba, Abia State, shortly after delivering a lecture at the Aba branch of the Nigerian Bar Association Annual Law Week 2017, attributed the current structure of the country to the reason for hate speeches and agitations for secession in the country.

 He said, “Hate speeches are coming from everywhere in Nigeria. It has been very terrible and it is not good for the country. People should speak about what will unite the country more. This country is in need of healing. If we are all committed, we can achieve it.

“I’ve always supported restructuring, remember when I was governor, I called for state police. In my first year as governor in 2000, I called for state police when we were tacking the problem of criminal activities in Aba. I called for state police since we were not having enough men from the Nigeria Police Force. That was why Bakassi (Abia State Vigilante Group) was created and they went ahead to bring peace to Aba.”

16
THE Leader of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Shettima Yerima, who was among the youths who issued a notice to the Igbo to quit the 19 northern states, on Tuesday, said he would submit himself for questioning if declared wanted.

According to him, he was not on the run and had nothing to fear because he only expressed his views as a Nigerian.

He was reacting to enquiries by our correspondent, following allegations that he had gone into hiding in the Republic of Chad.

Arewa youths had, after their meeting in Kaduna some days ago, given a three-month ultimatum to Igbo people living in the 19 states in the North to leave the region or be forced out by October 1, 2017.

Apart from Yerima, those who endorsed the resolution were Nastura Sharif (Arewa Citizens Action for Change); Aminu Adam (Arewa Youth Development Foundation); Alfred Solomon (Arewa Students Forum); Abdul-Azeez Suleiman (Northern Emancipation Network) as well as Joshua Viashman (Northern Youth Vanguard).

But in an interview with our correspondent, the AYCF leader said he would make himself available if invited by security agencies.

Yerima said, “I did not go into hiding and will never go into hiding. We need to put the record straight. For now, nobody is looking for me and I am ready to submit myself if I am called. I am not a joker. Nobody is looking for me and I am not hiding anywhere from anybody. I am in my village, I am a Nigerian. If anybody looks for me, I will submit myself. I am not above the law. I am not on the run.”

While insisting that he would not go into hiding, Yerima insisted that the Igbo should leave Nigeria.

He said, “Why should I go into hiding? I have a name, I have a face. I am not faceless.

“I am not hiding anywhere. Why should I hide? Where did I go wrong? Somebody wants to go and I said, ‘go, you’re free to go’. What is wrong about it?

“You cannot be in our country and begin to clamour for another country. Go to your place and declare your own country, not in my zone. It is a simple language. I have not committed any offence.”

17
NEWS / We Want Referendum, Not War, Says IPOB
« on: Today at 05:02:49 AM »
The Indigenous People of Biafra on Tuesday said the mission of the group was being misconstrued by most Nigerians.

The group said it had never thought of using war as a solution to achieving its objective of self-determination.

In a press statement made available to our correspondent in Awka, Anambra State, by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, the group described its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, as a peaceful and civilised personality, who would not be quick to go to war.

The group said its struggle was legitimate and within the confines of international laws.

It maintained that the enemies of Biafra were fuelling hate against the group either as a result of ignorance of the situation or deliberate manipulation of facts.

The group’s statement read in part, “It is fair to assume, going by the utterances of certain corrupt segments of the Nigerian society, that most of what IPOB is saying and stands for is lost in translation because anybody with a basic understanding of rudimentary English and constitutional law will know that self-determination does not mean war and that referendum is not hate speech.

“Again, when badly educated and ill-informed people dabble into a discipline above them, such mistakes are bound to happen.

“We would like to use this opportunity to clarify, once again, that IPOB is asking for self-determination as recognised in both the United Nations’ Charter on the Rights of Indigenous People and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

“Before these northern (elements) threaten us with war that IPOB hasn’t called for, let them spend a bit of their valuable time acquainting themselves with these charters and declarations.”

18
THE Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, on Tuesday, said he had lost confidence in Nigeria’s security agencies and proposed that traditional rulers should be given  security votes to help in curtailing the increasing rate of crime in the country.

Bello said, “Despite the huge amounts voted and given to security agencies monthly, they have failed in making the state and nation safer as crime seems to have become the order of the day.”

He, therefore, suggested that if N100m was given to traditional rulers monthly, the nation would fare better in the aspect of security.

“I suggest that we go back to the traditional ways of securing our communities, the traditional system performed better in the past and they can do better now if more powers are given to them. I recommend that we give powers to traditional rulers for security.

“We spend a lot of money on security but we do not have a safe environment. In Niger State, we spend N100m every month on security, I am sure that if we spend a fraction of that money on traditional rulers, we will get better results than what we have now.”

The governor stated this when the Niger Council of Traditional Rulers led by the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, paid him a sallah visit at the Government House, Minna,

He expressed dismay over the new wave of crime currently sweeping across the state, adding that there was a total breakdown of law and order in the state as criminals were beginning to take over the state.

He added that the state needed a lot of prayers as all efforts to combat the new wave of crime seemed not to be working, stressing that he had lost confidence in security agencies.

“We need a lot of prayers in Niger State. We are faced with a new kind of security challenges that are unusual. There is a new wave of kidnapping, murder, armed robbery and clashes. It is a new wave that seems to be engulfing the state. People have decided to take the laws into their own hands and kill because they have conflict with others.

“We are beginning to lose it as a people and as a state. In the past, nobody got away with murder, kidnapping or other crimes but these days, kidnappers and other criminals walk the streets freely. As a governor, I am becoming afraid because I do not know who to trust or who to talk to,” he said.

Earlier, the Etsu Nupe commended the developmental strides of the present administration in the state.

19
NEWS / Emmanuel Distances Self From Anti-Akpabio Report
« on: Today at 05:01:30 AM »
The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has distanced himself from a report that derided the administration of his predecessor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, saying he is totally against negative remarks concerning past leaders or other stakeholders from the state.

Making reference to an interview granted by the governor in a newspaper (not The Punch), where the writer had, in the introduction, chided Akpabio’s administration, Emmanuel said even though he aligned himself with the content of the interview, the introduction was entirely the view and words of the writer, stressing that he had nothing to do with it.

A statement by the state Commissioner for Information, Charles Udoh, on Tuesday, partly read, “While we align ourselves with the contents of the interview, which are excerpts of the views expressed by His Excellency, the governor, we completely dissociate ourselves from the introductory aspect of the publication which tends to cast aspersion on the records and achievements of the immediate past governor and Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

“The said sentence read, ‘As a banker, his experience came handy and today, Akwa Ibom is generally believed to have fared better than the days of the lousy uncommon transformation with a relatively conservative but generous effective approach to governance.’

“Governor Emmanuel holds Senator Godswill Akpabio in high esteem and like every well-meaning Akwa Ibomite, the governor appreciates the successes of the uncommon transformation era as the foundation of today’s Akwa Ibom, which his administration is building on.”

“We therefore urge the general public to discountenance the said comment which we believe was made in error by the newspaper.”

20
THE Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has warned the Federal Government against the full concession of the nation’s refineries.

The Group Executive Chairman, NNPC Branch of PENGASSAN, Mr. Abdullahi Sale, who made this remark on Tuesday shortly after a tour of the Port Harcourt Refinery, explained that it would be wrong for any government to hand over it energy for privatisation.

He pointed out that government could decide to hold 20 per cent equity, adding that such action had to be gradual, stressing that like security, the energy sector should not be fully privatised.

Sale, who is aspiring to become the next PENGASSAN national president, said, “We are not averse to concessioning or privatisation of the refineries; however, what we are saying is that no nation would like to toy with its issue of energy.

“Our position is that we don’t want a situation where 100 per cent of our energy sector is given to private hands. We want to maintain some level of security. Because energy is security, just like we cannot hand over our security 100 per cent to private hands, we also should not totally privatise our energy.

“We are not supporting the sale of the refineries in totality, however, the PIGB being passed in the Senate has provided room for 20 per cent of government equity to be in the hands of the BPE. That means that eventually 20 per cent would go off.”

On the proposed operation of modular refineries in the country, Sale stated that such refineries would not be able to meet the 40 million litres per day demand of Nigerians.

 He maintained that the output from modular refineries would not be sufficient enough to rely on.

He said, “Our national demand on a daily basis is within the range of 40 million litres, which modular refineries cannot provide. However, it will be able to provide us some level of sufficiency, but not up to what we desire.

“Modular refineries are quick ways to get products available to Nigerians, but in the real sense, they are not the final solutions because they are not going to take us to where we want to be.”

 He said the way forward for Nigeria’s oil and gas sector was to have a road map to tap the potential in the sector and also allow for diversification into other areas.

 Sale said such road map was necessary, particularly with the call for cleaner energy which was fast making oil irrelevant globally.

 He noted that the policy thrust he would pursue if he emerged the National President of PENGASSAN on June 29, 2017 would be to operate a union that would pay attention to members’ welfare, but also to unfolding development in the oil and gas sector.

21
NEWS / We’ve Not Increased Tuition, Says OAU
« on: Today at 05:00:02 AM »
The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, has said that it is not planning to increase its tuition to N55,700.

It was gathered that OAU students currently pay between N19,700 and N33, 700 depending on their faculty.

In a statement on Tuesday, the OAU Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olarewaju, explained that the tuition had not been increased, saying the last time tuition was increased was three years ago.

He said, “The attention of the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife, have been drawn to a news item that ‘38 varsities increase tuition fees’, where OAU was listed among the universities that had increased their tuition fees.

“Although there may be paucity of funds from the Federal Government in running the institutions of higher learning, which might have prompted some universities to upwardly review their fees, the situation in OAU is quite different.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no meeting, either of the university management or the senate, where the fee increment was announced, and the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Tope Ogunbodede, has not contemplated on increasing any fee in OAU.

“In actual fact, his administration is poised to making the welfare of members of staff and students a topmost priority.”

He urged students and parents to disregard the information, adding that the new VC was committed to running a transparent administration.

“Accordingly, the VC has advised the students, their parents and, or guardians to completely disregard the unfounded rumour in the said news item. The administrative and academic affairs of OAU will not be run in secret. The VC will not renege on his pledge of running a very open and transparent administration,” he added.

He subsequently urged journalists to avoid reports that could plunge universities into avoidable crisis.

22
NEWS / Probe NHIS’ Functions, Hmos Tell Presidency, Others
« on: Today at 04:59:05 AM »
The Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria on Tuesday urged the Presidency and the National Assembly to set up a high-powered committee to investigate the functions of the National Health Insurance Scheme from its inception.

The National Publicity of the organisation, Mr. Lekan Ewenla, who stated this in a statement in Abuja, said that at the inception of the scheme, stakeholders agreed that fees for services such as  capitation and medications should be reviewed every two years.

This, he said, was aimed at reflecting the inflationary trend and ensuring the provision of qualitative services.

Ewenla added that it was also agreed that the NHIS should “warehouse the annual contribution” of the civil servants, which is 10 per cent of their basic salaries.

According to him, the NHIS is expected to regularly review the spread of the enrollees across the primary health care facilities.

He, however, noted that many of the enrollees chose teaching hospitals.

Ewenla added, “The NHIS was expected to embark on systematic re-distribution of enrollees from teaching hospitals to primary facilities with lower volume of enrollees.

“Unfortunately, the warehousing of the funds completely altered its focus and understanding of its regulatory roles to that of operating the scheme and growing a single pool fund.”

He said that the capitation fee, which was meant to be reviewed in 2007, was increased by N200 in 2011, thus making it N750.

Ewenla stated, “Most disheartening is the stagnation of the denominated services at the secondary and tertiary levels since 2005 till date as the NHIS has completely jettisoned regulation and completely focus on marketing and growing the funds.

“For example, at the commencement of the programme in 2005, an intermediate surgery like caesarian section was denominated at N55,000; appendixentomy was N35,000. Does this amount reflect today’s economic reality?”

He recalled that stakeholders suggested that five per cent of contributions for the scheme should be kept in a separate account, adding that HMOs also volunteered five per cent of their administration fee for two years.

According to him, the fund is meant to be utilised by the NHIS and HMOS to set up a robust information communication technology infrastructure that would interact with HMCAN members and monitor disbursement of capitation fees and the settlement of fee-for-service bills.

“It is disheartening to know that the five per cent deduction is still ongoing and the suggested ICT platform has not been implemented.

“Instead, the NHIS decided to hire hundreds or thousands of members of staff, created zonal and  offices in 36 states, while by law the NHIS is only allowed to establish zonal offices in the six geo-political zones,” he said.

Ewenla said rather than reconciling payment electronically, the NHIS sent its workers to HMOs’ offices.

This, he said, could be done through technology.

He claimed that HMOs were doing well on the organised private sector scheme and had refused to release their figures and the spread of their coverage to the NHIS.

 The HMCAN national publicity stated, “We call on the Presidency, the National Assembly and the judiciary to set up a high-powered investigative committee to dig deep into the functions of the NHIS since inception, redirect or re-emphasise its statutory functions and possibly begin to consider the creation of a separate entity.”

According to him, the new entity would anchor the disbursement of the funds.  Ewenla suggested that NHIS should account for all the money it had deducted from contributions.

He added that the NHIS should be changed to the National Health Commission to make it strictly a regulator.

The NHIS Executive Secretary, Prof. Yusuf Usman, had at a public hearing of the House of Representatives, on June 21 described the operation of the scheme and the role of the HMOs as “monumental fraud.”

He added, “Health care financing in Nigeria is a huge fraud. HMOs cash their cheques and they leave town to enjoy their money while Nigerians are dying.

“This fraud is more than the fuel subsidy fraud with only 1.5 per cent of Nigerians covered since 2005.”

23
NEWS / Police Arrest Four In Ondo Ritualists’ Hideout
« on: Today at 04:43:57 AM »
Ondo State Police command on Tuesday paraded four suspected criminals arrested at a recently discovered ritualists’ hideout in Akure, the state capital.

The building sited near the Ondo State House of Assembly was discovered on Monday.

The spokesman of the state police command, Femi Joseph, who paraded the criminals, said three of the suspects were ex-convicts.

He said the criminals were arrested following a tip-off by members of the public.

24
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the July 8 Osun West senatorial by-election, Senator Mudashir Hussain, has said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr. Ademola Adeleke, is not competent to speak on the negotiations that rescued his late brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, in 2014.

In a statement by his media aide, Kamil Opeyemi, the APC chiftain berated Adeleke for claiming on a live radio programme in Osogbo, the state capital, that his late brother did not benefit from his obedience to the party to step down for him.

He said: “For Senator Adeleke’s brother, Ademola, to come out and claim that he did not step down for his late brother is a clear indication that he is totally ignorant of the issues that led to his brother’s coming to the APC from the PDP, where he and his loyalists had been disgraced.

“Has he forgotten so soon how a serving Minister of Police Affairs at the time, who was a loyalist of Otunba Iyiola Omisore, threatened to beat him to coma but for what he knew was Adeleke’s poor health then?

“If he is so sure that their family’s so-called empowerment of Ede people or Osun West people was so strong enough to win him election, why not stay in the PDP and fight it out?

“The results of previous elections in our zone are there for all to see. I defeated his late brother before. In 2015, I was asked by the party to relinquish the ticket to enable him return to the Senate. As a loyal party man, I carry that responsibility to help my party in whatever it would take for it to win positions to better the lots of our people. I could not have done otherwise.”

Hussein added: “Why is he announcing a N250 million scholarship scheme for Osun West students now? Why not before? If he had so much money and was ready to help, why at the point of using his brother’s shadow to deceive the people?

“We have said and we mean it: humiliating defeat awaits Adeleke on July 8. Adeleke accused some people that they are Lagos-based! How else does a candidate prove to be shallow? Assuming we are Lagos-based, where is he based? He is based in America. What knowledge of the Osun West does he possess to know what really their needs are?”

According to him, Ademola’s claim on the radio programme showed his strategy of deceit to participate in the election.

25
NEWS / Firm Sues Hyundai For Allegedly Selling Defective Car
« on: Today at 04:42:03 AM »
A firm, Starcom Media, has sued Korean automobile giant, Hyundai Motors, at a Lagos High Court for allegedly selling a defective car to it.

The firm said it bought a brand new Hyundai Grand Santa Fe Luxury car on October 5,  last year.

Six days after purchase, the vehicle allegedly developed brake failure, an ‘auto hold’ light kept blinking on the dashboard, while there was a loose bolt on the rear left wheel.

Starcom Media’s counsel, Wale Ogunade of Wale Ogunade Chambers, said his clients became suspicious on noticing that the mileage on the dashboard read 1,800km, suggesting that the vehicle might have been previously used by a third party in Nigeria.

Following Hyundai Motors’s alleged refusal to accept responsibility, Starcom Media opted for legal action.

It approached the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, demanding a refund.

Hyundai Motors initially denied culpability, claiming to have conducted extensive pre-delivery assessment on every component of the vehicle and certifying it okay before delivery.

The company, however, accepted to service the vehicle for two years or upon it attaining 40,000km. The agreement was signed by parties on March 23.

Contrary to the terms of agreement, Starcom Media alleged that the vehicle was delivered on April 19, 20 days after the promised delivery date.

The plaintiff said less than a month after the delivery, the brake problem reoccurred on May 17.

Ogunade said the development was symptomatic of how Nigerians are ripped off by foreign companies operating in the country. “That category of vehicles has been rejected even in South Korea but somehow, they found their way into Nigeria. A vehicle of this price attracts at least six months warranty or a refund if found defective.

“Unfortunately, in this case, all attempts by our client to get a refund, replacement or total repair has proved abortive. The vehicle has since been parked with its value depreciating by the day,” the lawyer said.

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