Human Rights Abuses: Global Amnesty Watch Calls for Speedy Implementation of SBOI Reports

The Global Amnesty Watch, an international humanitarian organization has endorsed the report of the Special Board of Inquiry (SBOI), which investigated the alleged war crimes man by the Nigerian Army personnel in the fight against insurgency in the North East and Internal Security Operations in the South Eastern part of the country.

Recall that the Nigerian Army had said on Thursday that it was studying the report of a special panel that investigated allegations of human rights abuses against the army.

The panel headed by a retired major general, A.T. Jibrin, submitted its report to the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai last week at the army headquarters in Abuja.

Mrs Helen Adesola, Nigerian Representative of GAW, said it was clearly established that all the allegations of rights abuses, extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances were mere concoctions from the imaginations of those of those that have been issuing inaccurate reports.

According to her, “Other instances of documented abuses were transposed from a previous era to give the impression that the cases in question were recently committed.

She added, “The report, which should be given the widest publicity possible, should now put to rest the controversies that had raged around the efforts by Nigerian military authorities to secure the country and keep citizens safe from terrorists and other life threatening criminals.

“The revelations that certain unauthorized organizations were able to obtain classified military documents and signals through leaks is one that should keep the world worried as it implies staffers of such organizations could have been engaged in passing vital Army strategies and troop movement to terrorists, making it difficult to protect civilians.

“We have noted calls for independent investigation and further probes suggested by certain organizations.

“The Global Amnesty Watch however wishes to caution the Nigerian Army and the Federal Government of Nigeria to resist the temptation of being drawn into a popularity contest of pleasing smaller groups to the detriment of the larger population,” her statement added.

The GAW urged the military authority not compromise the interest of the people in the areas affected by terrorism, insurgency and other crimes because they want to be compliant with the request of a narrow spectrum of activists.

She added, “The response for an independent investigation or commission of inquiry must be realistically balanced with the safety and security of citizens since such exercise can compromise national security.

“Nigeria must never lose sight of the fact that the Army is its institution as a sovereign nation and no amount of blackmail should force it to surrender state institutions to fifth columnists especially in this era that terrorists have infiltrated the ranks and file of various military which the Nigerian Army has successfully insulated itself against.”

 

Terrorists Behind US Suit Against Nigerian Military, Says MPN as Group Demands Investigation of Plaintiffs

A civil liberty organisation, Movement of the People of Nigeria, on Wednesday alleged that the persons behind the lawsuit against personnel of Nigerian military authorities in the United States, were not Nigerians “but terrorists and extremists.”

The group, which demanded an investigation of their real identities, however promised to raise its own team of lawyers to confront anyone desperate to rubbish the image of the country or attempts to further diminish its citizenry before the international community.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees of MPN, Dr. Innocent Oche Pita, told journalists in Abuja that the suit was aimed at causing a diplomatic row between Nigeria and US.

The suit was said to have been instituted by some persons against Nigeria’s military leadership before a US District Court for the District of Columbia.

But the MPN described it as an abuse of the Torture Victims Protection Act and Alien Tort Claims Act Complaint of the United States.

“The world is aware that Nigeria has suffered in the hands of terrorists and extremists and the Biafra agitators are another brand of terrorists that must not be admitted into the United States, Nigeria or any other peace loving nation.

“It will be wise for the Donald Trump’s administration and the security agencies to discretely investigate the plaintiffs as regards their activities in the United State before they become the kind of nuisance that is presently threatening the United Kingdom and other European countries”, MPN alleged.

The MPN said much as it was glaring that the US courts lack jurisdiction to try such issues, there is no record or evidence that the Nigerian Military abused the rights of any citizen within or outside the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The group said those who fear such “are common criminals who had held the country by the jugular in the recent past through acts like banditry, kidnaping and gun-for-hire.”

According to Pita, the suit is nothing short of a calculated attempt to rubbish the US judiciary for its liberal stand on human rights and protection of lives.

He said it was to allegedly abuse the law under which the suit was filed so that it no longer serves the purpose for which it was crafted, “and to use it to cause strain in Nigeria – US relations.”

MPN said, “Secrecy in a case that claims to be as grounded as the plaintiffs claimed is dubious as it implies that criminals can hide under such unanimity to further questionable agenda. The plaintiffs would only fear exposing their identities either because they are not real in the first place or that they are persons with criminal records in the US.

“Our position is that these people behind the suit are not Nigerians and should stop dragging the name of our country’s military to the mud.

“This is why we are worried that even non-Nigerians can be coached to give evidence since it is apparent that the people that filed the suit are not honest enough to show themselves.

“We will raise our own team of lawyers to confront anyone or any group that is out to rubbish the image of our great country or attempts to further diminish its citizenry in the eyes of citizens of the world”, the group said.

Turkey Military Coup Fails, President Returns to Istanbul

A military coup attempt, which plunged Turkey into a long night of violence and intrigue on Friday, may have failed.

The coup threatened its embattled President, leaving nearly 200 dead and injecting new instability into a crucial NATO member and American ally in the chaotic Middle East.

The coup attempt was followed hours later by an equally dramatic public appearance by the President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose whereabouts had been unknown for hours after the plotters claimed to have taken control.

Flying into Istanbul Ataturk Airport from an undisclosed location early Saturday, Mr. Erdogan signaled that the coup was failed.

Turkey CoupThe government has rounded up thousands of military personnel on Saturday.

The personnel were said to have taken part in an attempted coup, moving swiftly to re-establish control.

By noon, there were few signs that those who had taken part in the coup attempt were still able to challenge the government, and many declared the uprising a failure.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the insurrection “a stain in the history of democracy” at a news conference on Saturday in Ankara, the capital.

He raised the death toll in the clashes to 265, with 1,440 people wounded, and he said that 2,839 military personnel had been detained.

As the insurrection unfolded Friday night, beginning with the seizure of two bridges in Istanbul by military forces, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not heard from for hours.

He finally addressed the nation from an undisclosed location, speaking on his cellphone’s FaceTime app — a dramatic scene that seemed to suggest a man on the grip of losing power.

But in the early hours of Saturday morning, he landed in Istanbul, a strong sign that the coup was failing.

According to the Turkish President after the private television channel NTV showed him greeting supporters, “A minority within the armed forces has unfortunately been unable to stomach Turkey’s unity.”

He blamed political enemies for the development, saying that “What is being perpetrated is a rebellion and a treason.

“They will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey”, Mr. Erdogan said.

He suggested that the plotters had tried to assassinate him, referring to a bombing in the Turkish Mediterranean resort town of Marmaris after he left on Friday.

“It would appear that they thought I was there,” he said.

Supporters of Mr. Erdogan responded to his call to take to the streets in Istanbul, and by Saturday morning, the coup appeared to be unraveling.

The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that about 200 unarmed soldiers had surrendered to the police in Ankara.

CNN Turk showed video of soldiers abandoning tanks in Istanbul, and by morning, civilians were climbing onto the tanks and waving flags, according to images posted on social media.

Anadolu said more than 1,500 members of the armed forces linked to the plot had been detained across Turkey, including a brigadier general in the country’s northeast.

Turkey’s acting chief of general staff, Gen. Umit Dundar, said on Saturday that 194 people had been killed, and he called 104 of them “coup plotters.”

Of the 90 others killed, 47 were civilians, the general said at a news conference in Ankara, the capital.

Seventeen police officers were killed in a military helicopter attack by coup plotters on a police special forces headquarters outside Ankara, Anadolu Agency had reported earlier.

CNN Turk reported that 12 civilians had died in an explosion at the Parliament building.

Martial law was declared after the coup attempt in the country, which has been convulsed by military takeovers at least three times in the past half-century.

Before he made his televised remarks from the airport, Mr. Erdogan was forced to use his iPhone’s FaceTime app from a secret location to broadcast messages beseeching the public to resist the coup attempt.

“There is no power higher than the power of the people,” he said amid contradictory accounts of who was in control.

“Let them do what they will at public squares and airports.”

After Mr. Erdogan spoke, many followers obeyed his orders to go into the streets, and mosque loudspeakers urged his supporters to protest the coup attempt.

The events began unfolding around 10 p.m. Friday as the military moved to stop traffic over two of Istanbul’s bridges, which cross the Bosporus and connect the European and Asian sides of the city.

There were reports of gunfire in Taksim Square, in central Istanbul, where pro-Erdogan supporters had gathered, but there were no reports of injuries, and it appeared that security forces were acting with restraint, the New York Times reports.

On the Bosporus Bridge, closed earlier in the evening by the military, there were reports of gunfire as protesters approached, and according to NTV, three people were hurt.

Some military officials spoke out against a coup, including the commander of the First Army, Gen. Umit Guler, who issued a statement, carried by a pro-government news channel, saying, “The armed forces do not support this movement comprised of a small group within our ranks.”

The Defense Department has roughly 2,200 uniformed military personnel and civilians in Turkey.

About 1,500 of them are based at Incirlik, an air base in southern Turkey near Syria.

The United States has used the base to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State.

Since March, Incirlik has been on an “elevated force protection level” amid concerns that militants were targeting it.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter in May ordered all family members of military personnel based at Incirlik to leave the country.

 

Vatican Priest Pledges To Advocate For Gay Rights, Expelled By Pope Francis

VaticanGayPriestThe Vatican, on Saturday, sacked a senior priest, Krzysztof Charamsa, who, on the eve of a major meeting of church leaders to discuss the Church’s stance on social issues such as divorce and homosexuality, publicly declared to be gay.

The embattled 43-year-old priest has, however, pledged to dedicate his life to advocacy for gay rights, saying, “I’m out of the closet, and I’m very happy about that. I want to be an advocate for all sexual minorities and their families who have suffered in silence.”

The Vatican in a statement by a spokesman for Pope Francis described the Polish priest’s action as “very serious and irresponsible.”

In the statement, the Vatican noted that he would be immediately sacked from his post as a theologian in the Vatican.

The statement read, “The decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the synod assembly to undue media pressure.”

Charamsa, who is a mid-level official in the Vatican bureaucracy’s dealing with church doctrine, flanked by his Spanish boyfriend while donning his priest’s collar, on Saturday, had earlier told a news conference in Rome that he was compelled to speak out against the “hypocrisy and paranoia” that he said had shaped the Church’s attitude to sexual minorities.

The fired priest had presented a 10-point “liberation manifesto” against “institutionalised homophobia in the Church,” which he said particularly oppressed the gay men who, according to him, make up the majority of priests.

He also revealed plans for a book about his 12 years at the heart of a Vatican bureaucracy, only just recovering from a scandal under previous Pope Benedict XVI over the influence of a “gay lobby” among senior clergy.

 

Buhari, Jonathan Make History As Nigeria’s New President Takes Over

Buhari-taking-oath-of-officeFormer military ruler, General Muhammadu Buhari has made history as the first Nigeria’s President from the an opposition political party, even as former President Goodluck Jonathan became the first incumbent president to relinquish power.

The history was made in Nigeria today at exactly 10.55AM when the new President, Muhammadu Buhari, was sworn in.

The event, which is still ongoing at the Eagles Square in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory at the time of this report has past Nigerian leaders as well as other world leaders witnessing the inauguration.

Moments before Buhari was sworn in, Prof Yemi Osinbajo was invited to take his oath of office as Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This followed the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at March 28, 2015 Presidential election.

Goodluck Jonathan led the country since the death of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010.

This is Nigeria’s first successful switch of power from a ruling party to an opposition.

Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party has ruled Nigeria since 1999 when the country returned to democracy.

It is also be Buhari’s second time ruling Nigeria. He seized power through a military coup in 1983 but was toppled by another coup in 1985.

Why OPC supports Jonathan –Gani Adams | The Sun

National Coordinator of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams has said that only President Goodluck Jonathan’s candidacy can protect the collective interest of the Yoruba nation.

He said that the implementation of the recommendations of the National Confer­ence organized by President Jonathan would largely address the long dream of the Yoruba for a restructured Nigeria.

Otunba Adams made the remarks yesterday when he received the Special Adviser to the Presidency on the Amnesty Programme, Mr Kingsley Kuku in his Lagos home.

The OPC leader enjoined people of the South West not to allow opportunists and those who do not have the interest of Nigeria at heart to deceive them.

He said that the National Coordination Council of the OPC decided to support Jonathan after exhaustive deliberations and conclusion that only his candidacy would make the Yoruba to realize its long dream for restructuring the nation.

His words: “Ten years ago, we of the OPC always shied away from politics but we discovered that if you do not give your people a direction, opportunists and those who do not love this country would cash in on that and misdirect them.

“It is because of that, that we from the National Coordinating Council of the OPC decided to support President Goodluck Jonathan. It is not a decision by Gani Adams alone. We are supporting Jonathan because of the issue of National Confer­ence which will address the needs of the Yoruba nation.

“We have been clamouring for national conference since 1992 but all the past gov­ernments have not been able to organize it.

“Even our kinsman in 2005 organized the National Political Reform Conference and gave the members conditions unlike Jona­than who gave us a blank cheque except on the issue of the unity of Nigeria.

“In 2005, there was a stalemate and we could not complete it. But somebody from the minority in the person of President Jonathan just decided on October 1, 2013 to organize the conference.

“If Jonathan implements the recommen­dations of the conference, Nigeria would become a changed country compared to those who did not want the conference to hold and are clamouring for change.

“You cannot change a nation when you have a bad constitution, a constitution written by one person. Jonathan is a cool headed President fit for our young democracy. Nigeria was last year adjudged number one in Africa. So, what do you want from President Jonathan?”

He urged the Yoruba not to buy into the propaganda of a few politicians who are merely working to further their selfish interest.

Speaking earlier, Kuku commended the Yoruba for their steadfastness, saying that just like in 2011, the region would determine the outcome of the coming presidential election.

He recalled the effort which the Yoruba nation has committed in the struggle to entrench democracy in the nation and noted that Jonathan’s election in 2011 was largely because of the support from the South West zone.

“In 2011, the South West determined the result of the general election. President Goodluck Jonathan won overwhelmingly because of the support from leaders like you (Adams). The South West people were unanimous in their support for Mr President in that election.

“Again, as providence would have it, the South West is going to determine the election on March 28 that will see to the re-election of Mr President for another term of four years.

“It is clear to me that President Goodluck Jonathan’s election and re-election ultimately lies with the South West and it therefore lies with you as one of the leaders that supported him then.

“The South West has contributed so much to the stability of this country. The democracy we have enjoyed from 1999 till date is the sweat, blood and toil of mostly South Westerners and we as South Westerners cannot allow people to mix with wrong elements to derail this democracy at this point.

“We are here to formally once again thank you for providing leadership and to request you to support Mr President Jonathan’s bid for a second term. He is not perfect and there are so many things he could have wanted to do but would not achieve that after one term of four years.

“He has been distracted for three out of the four years. Even at that, his achievements are legendary for people to see in all sectors. I would love to tell you that if this President is given four more years, he is going to take us out of the woods. His next four years would put us on the path of democratic governance and the nation would now be entrenched democratically”.

He said that by 2019 when Jonathan would be handing over to a brand new President, the country would have its pride of place in the comity of nations.

Senate Summons Jega Over Polls Posponment, To Appear With Card Reader

Following the postponement of Nigeria’s general election, the Chairman of the country’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega was on Tuesday summoned to appear before the Senate on Wednesday.

Prof. Attahiru Jega
Prof. Attahiru Jega

Even as Senate President, David Mark, had warned that an interim government is unconstitutional and those clamouring  for it are embarking in an exercise in futility.

Jega is expected to brief members of the upper legislative House on the level of the commission’s preparedness towards the  general elections.

The decision to summon Jega followed a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba at Tuesday’s sitting of the Senate.

He is expected to appear before the Senate in plenary by 11 am.

The Senate has also asked Professor Jega to appear before it with card readers to demonstrate how INEC would use them during the elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced a shift in the general elections dates to March 28 and April 11.

The new schedule was announced on February 7 by Prof Jega, after meetings with political stakeholders.

Prof Jega said that the Presidential Election will hold on March 28 while the Governorship election on April 11, saying “We have done wide reaching consultations to enable us have as much input as necessary before taking an informed decision.

“In the series of consultations that we had with stakeholders, the questions constantly posed to them for consideration are; in view of the latest developments, should INEC proceed with the conduct of the general elections as scheduled in spite of the strong advice and if so, what alternative security arrangements are available to be put in place?” Jega asked.

“We have done this, relying on section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act, as amended.

“Where a date has been appointed for the holding of an election and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct an election as a result of natural disaster or other emergencies, the commission may postpone the election and shall in respect of the area or areas concerned appoint another day for the holding of the postponed election provided that such reason for the postponement is cogent and verifiable.”

The chairman of the INEC pointed out that for the fact the commission was not a security agency that could guarantee protection of personnel, voters during elections and observers, the commission could not likely wave-off the advice by the nation’s security chiefs.

“The commission is concerned about the security of our ad-hoc staff, the young men and women of the NYSC and students of the tertiary education who constitute at least 600,000 young men and women that we will use in the election,” he said.

In the new schedule, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on March 28 while the Governorship and State Assemblies elections will hold on April 11.

In the initial schedule, the elections were meant to hold on February 14 and 28.

How Nigerian Security Force Foiled Boko Haram Attack, Intercepted 19 High Calibre Bombs in Adamawa

Adamawa State Police Command has uncovered 19 high calibre bombs in a bush near Yola, the state capital.

The State Commissioner of Police, Gabriel Adaji, who disclosed this at a media briefing at the weekend, said the bombs were busted in Hong local government area of the state, stressing that Boko Haram gunmen were planning to use them for attacks on the state.

Maintaining that the weapons were ready to be used when they were intercepted, as they were at 90 percent completion and only needed to be connected to batteries, Adaji said it is believed that the insurgents wanted to use the bombs to disrupt the forthcoming elections.

He disclosed that the interception was made possible based on intelligence report that some suspected suicide bombers were apprehended by soldiers in Yola, and that some of the insurgents were still at large within the town.

According to Adaji, “This made us to beam our searchlight on the some spots. Something that would have caused a hell of sorrows to the state was averted. One of the bombs is capable of bringing down a 10 storey building.”

Maintaining that the insurgents were planning to bomb Jimeta, the Police Commissioner said if the insurgents had t succeeded in their plan, several people would have been killed and properties destroyed.

He disclosed further that the insurgents wanted to blow up strategic structures including the more than one kilometre River Benue Bridge linking the state capital with Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola and Mubi area.

“The bombs have been detonated by the anti-bomb squad of the state police command, the feat has averted a major calamity because some of the bombs were capable of destroying a ten storey building” Adaji said, adding that the smallest among the bombs can completely destroy structures within 200 metre radius and they were on the verge of being moved to where they were to be deployed when they were intercepted.

Adaji urged the people of the state to be vigilant and report any suspicious character to the nearest security outfit.

X-raying General Buhari’s certificate scandal

The recent media report credited to Alhaji Lia Mohammed, the publicity secretary of All Progressive Congress, to the effect that the ongoing efforts being made by some concerned Nigerians in the Court of Law by seeking an incontrovertible clarifications on sundry issues pertaining to Major General Mohammadu Buhari’s certificate controversy amounted to an attempt to scuttle our fledgling democracy, is, to say the least, completely misplaced.

This is because in any democratic setting or any society that is sincerely committed to upholding the principles of rule of law, the Court of Law remains the orthodox channel through which aggrieved citizenry are meant to ventilate their disaffection and dissatisfaction to the fullness, as opposed to taking recourse to violence for same purpose.

Little wonder that the Law Court is often regarded to be the last hope of a common man.

Incidentally, there is clearly nothing wrong for concerned Nigerians to drag General Muhammadu Buhari to the court of law over his questionable and contradictory claims pertaining to his seemingly nonexistent Cambridge University WASC, and neither is there anything sinister about the intention of litigants on the matter as being hallucinated and fussed about by Alhaji Lia Muhammed the APC spokesman.

After all, it is a well established position of the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act that Nigerians who feel dissatisfied with any contestant’s information/documents as attached in INEC’s contest form should do what some litigants are currently doing on the issue concerning General Buhari’s certificate scandal.

Needless to say that with this approach, our democracy is not only gaining consolidation but also has begun to ensure that those who offer themselves for the service of Nigerians do so with a sense of rectitude and self assurance.

To this end, there is an urgent need for Lia Mohamed and his ilk to desist from utterances capable of undermining the spirit, the validity and the good intentions of our laws.

Also read: PDP supporters campaign for Buhari in Jonathan’s presence
No doubt, as it were, only a competent Court of Law is at the moment apparently positioned to either validate of vitiate whatever claims that Major General Mohammadu Buhari and all interested litigants are currently holding on to over the former’s certificate saga.

However, based on the prima facia inconsistencies arising from Buhari’s certificate scandal so far and upon which barefaced lies have thus emerged, nothing could be further from the truth.

To begin with, Buhari’s averment under oath that his credentials were with the Nigeria Military Board, a copy of which he reportedly submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in wrong fulfillment of the provisions of the Electoral Act, remains a controversial issue that needs to be sorted.

On the other hand, the subsequent refutation of this Buhari’s bogus claim by the Nigeria Army Authority is yet another matter that has brought to the fore the abysmal level of integrity bankruptcy of General Mohammadu Buhari.

Probably speaking with a pang of malice, this may even help to explicate the real rationale behind his disposition towards the issue of restructuring the army.

But beyond this refutation, it smacks of immense curiosity that at a time, in 1961 to be precise, that Mohammadu Buhari claimed in his 199A form (ie in his Army recruitment form) that he had credits in English language, Geography, Health Science, Hausa and a pass in English literature, the principal of his Provincial Secondary School, Katsina,“in recommending Buhari for commissioning as an officer, said I recommend him for military commissioning; I consider that Mohammadu Buhari will pass the West African School Certificate in English, Maths and three other subjects”.

But like many Nigerians would want to ask: at what point then did the young Buhari credit the foregoing subjects?

Could it be in the same 1961 when he applied to be recruited into the Nigeria Army and following which he sought and obtained the foregoing recommendation from his principal at the time?

Or could it be after he had been commissioned as an officer in the Nigerian Army? These and more are all questions of abiding interests.

Meanwhile, as these puzzles linger, it is important to note that no sooner did the Army speak out in swift denial of General Buhari’s baseless claim about the custody of his credentials than the General helplessly recanted, blurting out a gaffe like a child aroused from a nightmarish slumber.

Thus on 20 January, 2015, General Buhari publicly announced to the chagrin of many Nigerians and his supporters alike – while addressing a press conference in Kano State over his Secondary School Certificate – that “I had assumed all along that all my records were in the custody of the military Secretary of Nigeria Army.

“Much to my surprise, we are now told that although a record of the result is available, there are no copies of the certificates in my personal file”.

To say the least, this is really an aberration. How could a man reputed to have served as one time secretary to the Nigeria Military Board be wallowing in the world of assumption?

Or is this assumption in any way devoid of the legal offence of perjury.

Or could ignorance in the prevailing circumstance constitute sufficient grounds or plea for the breach of law as relates to lying under oath? Or is Nigerian law going to be construed to suit and accommodate General Bahari’s ignorance with impunity?

If that is so, would that be in tandem with the universal concept of rule of law and the government’s propensity to philosophise about it?

Anyway, as the date of the Presidential election draws closer Nigerians and the world are keenly watching and awaiting the judicial interpretation on this matter at the earliest.

Moreover, on the recent statement reportedly released by the incumbent principal of Buhari’s Provincial Secondary School (now Government College) Katsina, it is crystal clear that Buhari’s futile attempt so far to improvise a Cambridge University WASC for himself has only ended up breeding more lies.

For one, unlike the initial report of having made credit in mathematics as contained in his personal file with the Nigerian Army, the same Buhari reportedly scored F (failure) in the same subject as evidenced in the said statement of result recently released.

Similarly questionable is the emerging twist associated with Buhari’s name.

Curiously, while Buhari had always been known and addressed over time as “Mohammadu”which is evidently attested to by both the letter of recommendation on him issued by his School Principal in 1961 and the name in his personal service file with the Nigeria Army, his emerging novel name “Mohamed” as contained in the recent Statement of result released by the current principal of Government College (aka Provincial Secondary School) Katsina, leaves much to be desired.

In fact, in no small extent, it bugles one’s mind how these names -“Mahammadu” and “Mohamed” – and their respective spellings could now be considered same and as appropriately belonging and referring to one and the same man who had never effected any change of name ab intio or, at least, publicly confessed otherwise.

Viewed from all ramifications, therefore, it is embarrassing that up till now General Mahammadu Buhari has not deemed it timely, essential and imperative to show Nigerians and the world at large the authentic copy of his West African School Certificate, if at all he possesses one.

Also, it is a pity that all General Buhari has been telling us and doing all this while concerning the barrage of questions about his so-called Cambridge University WASC has mainly bordered on attempts at whipping up irrelevant sentiments and striving in the process to usher in unnecessary diversion of attention from the vexed issue.

Even more ignominious on the whole is the crass remark often heard from Buhari’s supporters and fellow party men, especially from certain supposedly educated minds amongst them, to the effect that it does not matter whether or not the retired General has lied under oath about his credentials or indulged in the outright forgery of his Cambridge University WASC.

According to their thinking, even if it is a marriage certificate that General Buhari is able to produce in the long run as an evidence of his secondary school education, that of course should be accepted rather than rejected or be used as a basis for disqualifying him for not abiding by the stipulations of the laws of Nigeria.

Funny enough, this line of thought is similarly and shamelessly being echoed and propagated by no less a person than Alhaji Lia Mohammed, the publicity secretary of All Progressive Congress (APC).

In an interview with Saturday Tribune Newspaper of January 31, 2015, Alhaji Lia Mohammed contends that “I think what Nigerians are saying is that even if all he (Buhari) has to show is a NEPA bill, they will vote for him”.

Hmm! Wonders shall never cease! Just imagine a nation in this 21ist century mortgaging its sovereignty and feature to a man whose qualification for desiring the authority to govern derives validity from the notion that he possesses his electricity bill (?).

This is utterly ridiculous. And it is high time Alhaji Lia Mohammed and his ilk desisted from making Nigerians and Nigeria a laughing stock.

All said, as far as democracy is concerned, General Mahammadu Buhari must adhere to the dictates of our laws and there is no other time than now.

The fact that the issue about his secondary school education result was not emphasised in his previous Presidential contests is no excuse to ward off or suppress the clamour for it now.

If the allegation by Alhaji Lia Mohammed that the current and commendable efforts of some patriotic Nigerians in the court of law aimed at compelling General Muhammadu Buhari to produce an authentic copy of his so-called Cambridge University West African School Certificate (WASC) is conceived by the All Progressive Congress as an attempt to scuttle our democracy, then it may not be out of place to submit that the APC is totally bereft of the culture of democracy.

Of course stopping Major General Buhari from participating in the forthcoming Presidential election on whatever legitimate grounds by a competent court of law is never tantamount to an attempt to scuttle our democracy.

After all, General Buhari is only one out of other Presidential aspirants in the current race for the Presidency.

And nobody, man or woman, is forcing any of these Presidential aspirants not to tell lies about anything, but if they must do that, such must be done under the circumstances of our laws which must be justified.

(MyNews24)

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FG Unveils Take-off of High Speed Train from Abuja to Lagos

  *Full operation from Abuja to Kaduna begins in March

Nigerians who often feel unsafe in Nigeria’s airspace and yet cannot endure a nine-hour road trip between Lagos and Abuja, have received cheery news from the federal government who announced the planned take-off of a three-hour high-speed train project between the two cities.

Announcing this in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, disclosed the federal government’s partnership arrangements with private firms within and outside Nigeria towards the commencement of the project.

Umar made this disclosure at the public presentation of a book, “Showcasing Goodluck Jonathan’s Monumental Strides: A Third Party Perspective,” authored by the Director-General of  Citizens Network For Peace and Development in Nigeria,  Mr. Dressmann Preye.

According to Umar who also said the Abuja-Kaduna rail project would commence full operation next month, the federal government equally carried out a number of feasibility studies with the plan to construct more standard gauge lines across the country.

He disclosed that the government had also successfully completed feasibility studies in seven new corridors including, the Abuja-Lagos high speed train adding that different private firms within and outside Nigeria have expressed interests in the project.

The project, largely expected to be private sector-driven, according Umar, would formally take-off in 2018,

“The consultants who carried out the feasibility studies have submitted their reports. Part of the report contains the involvement of the private sector to drive the project. This is because we want to develop these lines under a public, private partnership arrangements.

“We have already received a lot of expression of interests even ahead of advertisement for the purpose from various companies in the country and indeed, in other countries of the world.

“The idea is that, if we have this in place, the trains can move from Abuja to Lagos and from Lagos to Abuja in a maximum of three hours. We are intending to compete favourably with other transportation systems in carrying passengers from Abuja to Lagos.

“When fully actualised, a train will leave Abuja to Lagos and Lagos to Abuja, every hour. The feasibility studies had been completed, it is not a question of story. The trains will start running within the next three years, say by 2018.”

He further explained that the federal government had completed the rehabilitation of western rail lines through the administration’s revivalist strategy in the rail transport sector, insisting that Jonathan’s government is working towards the completion of the eastern line.

He said: “At the moment, the trains are moving from Port Harcourt all the way to Gombe – a distance of over 1, 000 kilometres but as soon as the security situation improves around Borno State, we will complete the line from Gombe to Maiduguri.

“While that is going on, we have constructed the standard gauge from Abuja to Kaduna. We have completed the laying of the track and very soon, President Goodluck Jonathan will inaugurate it and by March this year, we are going to commence full operation on that line.

“We have placed orders for the procurement of locomotives and coaches that we are going to deploy on the track. It is a standard gauge. The trains can move on an average speed of 150 kilometres per hour.

“That means that in a maximum of one and half hours, you can leave Kaduna for Abuja and from Abuja to Kaduna by rail. It is the first standard gauge to be completed fully in the whole of West Africa.”

He used the forum to drum support campaign for the re-election of the president for another term of four years, saying his re-election, would offer him the full fledged opportunity to complete the projects in the works.

Also speaking at the occasion, Preye, the author of the book, said the contents were drawn by a team of independent media practitioners as well as representatives of civil society organisations whom he said carried out an on-the-spot assessment of all projects executed by Jonathan’s government.

“I am convinced that this book, will serve not only as a research material but also, a proof that the transformation agenda is working and is yielding fruits,” he claimed.

In his submission, the book reviewer,  Dr. Casimir Anyanwu,  accompanied by his wife, Senator Chris Anyanwu, said the book embodied the landmark achievements of Jonathan’s government in 15 critical sectors of the economy.

Such areas where he said federal government’s footprints had been visible were macro-economic management strategies; trade and Investment policies; infrastructure development; agricultural transformation;  oil and gas industry reforms; power and renewable energy;  education and health reforms, among others.

(ThisDay)

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Why Afenifere adopted Jonathan By Pa Ayo Adebanjo, NADECO Chieftain


■ ‘How Tinubu, ‘fellow progressives’ deviated from Awolowo’s path’

Pa Ayo Adebanjo, a leader of the Yoruba group, Afenifere, was a top member of the Action Group, led by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in the first republic. He also belonged to the Awolowo – led Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the second republic. At the in­ception of the latest democratic experiment in 1999, he joined the late Pa Abraham Adesanya and Chief Bola Ige, among others, to form the Alliance for Democracy which dominated the governments in the South-west. In this inter­view, he speaks on the state of the nation.

Afenifere, unlike before, is no longer active. What is happening?

Afenifere is still very active. In fact, very soon, we are going to meet in Akure, Ondo State.

It is no longer as vibrant as it was

Well, I am sure that would be because of the press. You are light on to the world, just like the motto of the defunct West African Pilot. There is no doubt that there is some kind of division among us caused by some rebels who didn’t want the right thing to be done, because we are strictly Awolowo’s disciples,undiluted. We don’t modify Awo’s principles for our own interest, progressive is progressive; not progressive today and conser­vative tomorrow. Those who were never progres­sives, the moment they join you, they automati­cally become progressives.

How are you resolving the challenge of people trying to twist the principles of Awo?

We shall continue to say what is right for people to decipher. There are no two ways about it. What we are doing now is to ensure that you people follow the right path. The principle of Afenifere leaders, particularly myself, is to tell you the truth because lying and falsification of things have dominated the country.

But there are a lot of people now call­ing themselves progressives?

I will say all those ones are fake. All those people in the then ACN that is now APC are fake progressives.

How?

They are fake in the sense that they don’t pur­sue the principles laid down by Awolowo. Take, for instance, the issue of federalism, you know we were part and parcel of National Democratic Coalition, NADECO.

And during the NADECO days, we were the only ones shouting about the issue of Sovereign national conference for the re­structuring of the country because the federation was an awkward one. It was not balanced. And it was because the military choked us in 1966.

The Constitution the colonialists gave us at indepen­dence was jettisoned after the 1966 coup. And that is why you saw arbitrary creation of states and local government areas because the people there were northerners. And we said we don’t want the country to separate; for us all to live in peace, let us all sit down and restructure the country on the principle of federalism. Federalism is the sys­tem whereby the various ethnic nationalities that formed the country can grow at their own pace, and then still keep the country as one, that was what we insisted upon.

NYou would also remem­ber when Abdulsalami; Abubakar (former Head of State) said we should go for election, and we said no, we should first of all hold a conference that would lead to a new Constitution which we would all be happy about, but he said, ‘No, I am in a hurry, when you get your civilian government, you can go and do it’. That was why one was held during the Obasanjo time. All those with us during the NADECO time that insisted on national con­ference are the same set of people saying now that the Goodlock Jonathan conference was a diver­sion. That was what Bola Tinubu said. I have said it before, let him challenge it.

Sovereign national conference was one of the manifestoes we used in electing him into office as governor of Lagos State. It was part of the Alliance for Democracy that there must be a national conference. When we won elections in 1999, it was because we reluc­tantly took part in the election because we didn’t want people we didn’t believe in to win elections in South-west and claim later that we were not representing the South-west.

That was why we  contested the elections so that everybody could see that we had the support of the people. After the elections, all the six states in the South-west where we had our governors, Afenifere leaders toured the Houses of Assembly led by the late Papa Abraham Adesanya, for them to pass a resolution that there must be a national conference. Tinubu was there. Now because something does not suit him, because he has some motive now, he says the national conference was a diversion. Is that con­sistent with our policy? Now, what you find these days is imposition of candidates which is against the beliefs of Awolowo.

Take the issue of free edu­cation, you hear free education in Lagos, have you been to their primary and secondary schools and see the number of children there? Can you find any of the children of these ministers in any of the public schools? Is that what they inherited? It is a matter of principle. This is what separated us the Afenifere from the ACN who called them selves progressives. It is not a personal thing.

Where do the Yoruba people stand in the February elections?

I think that would also be a matter of principle. The question of South-south is a matter of prin­ciple of Papa Awolowo that a minority would also have the right to aim for the highest position in the country. That was what I was trying to point out about the recent national conference we had.

That conference has taken care of everything concern­ing Nigeria. Like the issue of power, it is no longer going to be the North-west. Whenever it gets to the North, it must rotate within all other regions in the North. The same thing for the South, it is no longer about South-west but all other regions in the South such that everybody now know when each of the regions would be president, it is no longer the issue of we are born to rule. Why I am supporting Jonathan is because he is the only man who can implement the recommendations of the national conference which was set up to bring eq­uity to Yorubaland and to Nigeria. He is the only man. And once he does that, all these things we are complaining about will be rectified. People talk about corruption but they never care to know the root of corruption.

The thing is that the Federal Government has more money than all other tiers of government. Now, we have closed that gap in the confab. We have done it in such a way that the states now have more powers which may not be palatable to those ones in the North. For example, how did you have more local government areas than the South? How are the local governments in Kano and Jigawa more than those in Lagos? The military at that time just allocated states and local governments to themselves.

There was really no criteria with which they arrived at those local gov­ernments. So, they now went further by allocating funds on the basis of the number of local govern­ments. You will recall that Lagos State was denied local government funds even when the Supreme Court ruled that it should be paid. That is the kind of wholesome power the Federal Government has, and that is one of the reasons I feared if Buhari should govern under this Constitution.

Why?

Because they have the mentality that they are born to rule. And that is why I think this romance with the South-west of picking a vice presidential candidate with him is just a mere gimmick. That is why I am insisting that all the recommendations of the confab should be implemented before the elections because, the inequality this country has been suffering all this while has been rectified with the recommendations of the confab.

All the things that could cause us conflicts have been rectified. So, all our problems have been attacked from the root. And, that is why those who think it is not to their advantage don’t want it done. Everybody believes that this present Constitution is bad and we then say let us all sit down and harmonize it, what is wrong in that one? We have done it now but yet you don’t want it to be implemented.

And where is the antagonism coming from ? From the beneficiaries of the awkwardness of the constitu­tion. And they still want the Yoruba to continue to go along with that? If some Yoruba follow them sheepishly, probably because they don’t know the background, that cannot happen to someone like me. And part of the inequality we are talking about is what has come out in the Buhari certificate mat­ter. In the First Republic, you set up a standard for everybody but when it comes to the northerner, you set another standard. That is exactly what hap­pened in Buhari’s case.

Those of us who knew all these things from the beginning are not surprised by the new turn of events. You heard that his prin­cipal sent a letter to the military that he was ca­pable and that he expected that he would pass his examinations. That was what was happening in those days in the North. Go and ask serious federal civil servants in this country, many of the perma­nent secretaries that were senior to them whether they were not superseded without being qualified. They cannot deny that. If you have read General Isama’s book, you will find it there where he said when they were about to be commissioned, the standard set for them was usually lower for the North. I am sure he never anticipated a situation like this.

And do we have corruption on selective basis? Look at the PTF which he superintended. Even though Obasanjo was trying to cover him up, has he denied anything of such? He knows that if he does, the document is there for everyone to see. There was the issue of the N25billion there. It is all in the report. So, how can I, as a NADECO man, come and support a dictator. All his antecedents are dictatorial and military like.

That was then.

Don’t give me that. When did he become a democrat? What has he done to show he is a dem­ocrat other than the fact he is saying he is being punished because he is now a democrat? When he first came as a military man, he was issuing ret­roactive actions to convict people for murder. We are all living witnesses to what he did with Decree 4, so, that is the type of man you want me to vote for in a civilian regime? He says he is not a funda­mentalist. It is just that people forget about records easily. Here was a man who campaigned in the North and said Muslims should vote for Muslims. Here was a man who said he was going to work for the operation of Sharia through out the country. He has not denied it neither has he apologized for all the anti-democratic things he has done. I won’t be deceived by bringing a first class technocrat as running mate.

That is where I was going that if you cannot support because of Buhari’s per­sonality, how about that of his vice?

That is not possible because the running mate has no political experience. He is a first class tech­nocrat, a distinguished lawyer and a nice gentle­man, but if you are talking of politics, it is another matter entirely. They just brought him in. Tinubu brought him in as Attorney General, he was never in politics. He comes from Ikenne. Does he know the politics of Ikenne?

So, the South-west may be making a mistake.

Exactly, there is no doubt about that, that they will be making a big mistake and digging their graves. They may not listen but, I, Ayo Adeban­jo, am telling them. I am 87 years old, I can die any moment, so that whenever it happened, they would be able to say that indeed, that man told us. Buhari is only deceiving them . Go and read what Wole Soyinka said about him in 2001. Has it changed? Go and read what El- Rufai said about him in 2002 that he is not electable. These are the same people polishing him. When I look at the whole scenario, I feel sorry for this country.

But, it is like Yoruba are irrevocably committed to following Buhari through Tinubu.

I don’t believe Yoruba are following Tinubu. There are so many factors that made him win elec­tion in those days. When it comes to these facts, it is now left for the Yoruba to decide. Those of us who suffered imprisonment during the NADECO days under Abacha , Tinubu was not around. To those of us who were really victims of dictatorship, you cannot send Buhari to us. I don’t know those who are now doing chop chop politics.

From the beginning, we were never those who believe that a military person should come and rule under a ci­vilian regime and that was one of the reasons the Yoruba strongly voted against Obasanjo in 1999. It was the military that imposed Obasanjo on us, because it was Babangida and Abdulsalami that brought him and imposed him on us. They may have disagreement later because Obasanjo didn’t perform. It was Obasanjo that brought Yar’Adua, he brought Jonathan.

The old brigade in the Afenifere are the real progressives according to you be­cause you are the authentic Awolowo’s followers. Is it not an irony now that in­stead of the South-west following people like you, they are following Tinubu and his ‘progressive’ party?

That is left for them. I have given all the facts. This is a democracy. With all we are saying, you and I know that we are suffering here in Lagos.

I am Fashola’s fan, I won’t say he has not done well, but those of us who created his predecessor, Tinubu, know that he could do better for Lagos, that is what we are saying. You may not appreciate what is happening now except you remember the Western Region where things moved well. A man ruled the Western Region for seven years without strike. He introduced free education when our in­come was barely five and a half million pounds including Edo and Delta at that time by share eco­nomic ingenuity. Is that what we are having now?

You have people who do job of N50 million and say it is N250 million and yet, the people would be saying he has done a good job. With all that is being done in Lagos, some of us have asked the question,how much does it cost? What is the rev­enue of Lagos, both the internally generated and the allocation? And yet, we are still owing that much debt. And yet we have to pay for tolls. I am not contesting election for anybody to vote for me, all I am saying is for posterity. Where they have done well, I say it, where they are wrong, I say it as well. When they talk of corruption in Jonathan government,

I won’t say the government is clean, but those who are talking about corruption, how clean are they themselves? This is the question and yet these are the same people you journalists extol to high heavens. Are you saying there is no corruption in Lagos State? The only job we have now is to reform this country and urge Jonathan to implement the recommendations of the confab so that we can all start on a clean slate.

There may have been a lot of irregularities in the past and it is the irregularities that people are fight­ing. Everybody must have autonomy to rule itself and we all combine at the centre for what joins us together. If we had no federal system, Awolowo could not have done what he did in the Western Region.

So INEC should just allow Buhari to run the election and forget about the cer­tificate?

I don’t know. Don’t put words into my mouth, that is left for INEC to prove if indeed he has the certificate; otherwise he is not qualified.

He is not qualified?

That is what the law says. It is not me. You journalists must be honest to this nation. You are not doing me any favour neither are you doing the country any good by trying to plaster what should not be plastered. What the law says is this: You must have a school certificate before you can qualify.

But the school has presented that now?

This is not the kind of certificate I have. I don’t think this one is tenable. If they can be fooled, I cannot. That is why I think Jega should come in. Though Jega doesn’t want to be seen as support­ing anybody, from the law that he is expected to implement, Buhari has not satisfied the Constitu­tion. Jega is only trying to shift responsibility by saying people opposed to Buhari’s qualification for the polls should go to court.

I heard the APC saying Buhari has been contesting election for the past 12 years and nobody said anything about it, why now? And my answer in form of question is, if someone has been committing robbery and getting away with it, the day he is caught, you are now asking, why has he not been caught all this while?

Are you saying it is as good as INEC disqualifying the man based on what is on ground?

Except you are saying the law should not be obeyed. The law is not made for fun. We should not be sentimental about this thing. That is why we say there are two standards, one for Ayo Adebanjo and one for Buhari.

That is what is happening in the secondary schools. When they say examina­tion cut-off mark is this but lower cut-off mark for those in the North, that is the kind of thing we have been going through since amalgamation and we have been shouting that let us educate the people of the North, but they don’t want to be educated as we are. Yet they want to be qualified as we are.

You are 87 now and mummy is 85. What is the secret of your longevity?

It is about honesty. We are at peace with our minds. I won’t see black and call it white because of monetary gain. It is the grace of God. Although I try to eat well and exercise, all still amounts to the grace of God.

(The Sun)

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Jonathan’s Successor: My Advise To Northern Nigeria By Ahmadu Ali

The Director General of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Organisation, Ahmadu Ali says the Fulani socio-cultural group – Miyyetti Allah, the Yoruba socio cultural groups – Afenifere, and Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) have all endorsed the re-election bid of President Jonathan.

Ali said this at the campaign rally of the PDP on Saturday in Kaduna.

“We should tell ourselves the truth, Miyetti Allah, Afenifere and OPC have endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election”.

He said the North should start grooming a non-dictatorial leader who is between the ages of 40-50 to take over from President Jonathan in 2019.

“I want to tell my fellow Northerners to start grooming a 40-50 year-old candidate that President Goodluck Jonathan will hand over power to in 2019 and not a dictatorial leader who attempted to kidnap my friend late Umaru Dikko. Is that the person you want to vote for? God forbid!” Ali said.

Ahmed Makarfi, a serving Senator, in his remarks said the PDP “will use our power of persuasion to ensure that, PDP is voted on the 14th and 28th of this month.

“I assure you that by this persuasion and consultations by the Vice President, the governor, many stakeholders and I will deliver Kaduna state to PDP,” he added.

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February Elections Will Hold, Jonathan Assures Nigerians, Accuses APC of Rumour Mongering

President Goodluck Jonathan has said Nigerians should be assured that the general elections scheduled for February 14 and 28 will not be postponed under any guise.

The President gave the assurance while debunking allegations by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is involved in surreptitious schemes to postpone the February elections.

The assurance was conveyed in a statement by the president’s Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Prof Rufai Ahmed Alkali.

The president said that it was the APC through its members and supporters that has been doing everything possible to frustrate the conduct of a free and fair electoral process and not PDP or the presidency.

According to him, the APC has been breaching the Abuja Peace Accord, which all the presidential candidates subscribed to, with impunity.

The statement emphasised that President Goodluck Jonathan has been receiving unprecedented support since he embarked on the nationwide campaign and he is fully prepared for the presidential election.

“The attempt to denigrate the Presidency of Nigeria and drag it down the cesspit of vile propaganda and rumour mongering is unfortunate and signpost’s the APC’s disregard for our revered institutions.

“Nigerians have seen President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan criss-cross the length and breadth of the country in the last one month to rousing receptions everywhere.

“This certainly is not the sign of someone who is frightened about elections or unprepared for same.

“From our tours and the unprecedented outpour of goodwill, we are confident of a wider margin of victory than ever before.

“We are ready and fully prepared for this election.

“We wish to draw the attention of Nigerians to the fact that it is the APC and their unruly supporters that have been doing everything possible to frustrate the conduct of a free and fair electoral process.

“They have consistently violated the Abuja Peace Accord through violent conducts in Katsina, Bauchi, Taraba, Gombe and Plateau states.

“They have engaged in unprovoked attacks on our billboards in Lagos State.

“They have done all these to trigger a reaction from our supporters and create an enabling environment for the truncation of the elections.

“It is, therefore, a great irony that those who have consciously worked to frustrate the February 14 elections are the ones crying out the most and accusing others of the plans to shift the polls.

“Nigerians have been assured by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that preparations for the elections are on course. We therefore have no doubt that the elections will be a huge success, much to the disappointment of the naysayers,” Alkali stated.

“We wish to assure Nigerians that the President is committed to a peaceful and successful conduct of the February 14 polls and will not be distracted by tissues of lies and cocktails of deceit from people who have run out of ideas on how to move our country forward.”, he insisted.

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Herbalists Endorse Jonathan for Second Term

The National Association of Nigerian Traditional Medicine Practitioners, Ekiti State chapter, has thrown their support behind President Goodluck Jonathan in the upcoming election in February.

Speaking to the press in the state capital, Ado Ektit, the State Chairman of NANTMP,Chief Jacob Orisamika described Jonathan as a humble person who can be trusted with power.

“We are supporting President Jonathan because we have consulted the oracle and it revealed that he is the best for the position.

“It was revealed that Nigerians will benefit more under him than any other candidates.

“Aside this, we have to show our support to Governor Ayodele Fayose who has been relating with Ekiti people closely.

“I believe that whatever the Governor supports must be supported by all Ekiti indigenes because Fayose is a man of the people,” he said.

At its first meeting of the year held in Ado Ekiti on Friday, January 30, over 4,000 members across the 16 Local Government Areas of the State converged to offer prayers for the state and the country.

The association also appealed to clerics to stop prophesying doom for the country, which it said could further ignite tension and cause chaos in the system.

(Pulse)

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Presidential Debate: APC Shields Buhari’s Intellectual Laziness, Says Jonathan *Charges APC ‘Prove You’re a Party of Progressive Intellectuals At Debate’

The Presidential Campaign Organisation of President Goodluck Jonathan has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of stopping its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari from participating in a presidential debate being organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) as a means of shielding the intellectual laziness and inability of the former military dictator to constructively engage contemporary national issues in a live television and radio debate from Nigerians and the international audience.

Jonathan who spoke through the Director of Media and Publicity of his Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, stated that the APC knows that General Buhari will flunk it if he is subjected to the rigours of debate on national issues relating to governance and development.

Jonathan’s Campaign body said it was aware that the APC had already expressed its concerns, when approached by an international news channel for a debate, about the intellectual acumen of General Buhari, and had assured the news channel that it was only comfortable with its vice presidential candidate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who has capacity to feature brilliantly on the programme.

“We have just read a report in the media credited to the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation that the party would not allow its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, to participate in the radio and television presidential debate organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).

“The APC accused the organisers of the debate of unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme against the corporate political interest of the party and its candidates.

“Whilst we will not bother ourselves with the many reasons adduced by the APC, we wish to state that we see the APC decision as an attempt to shield its presidential candidate from displaying his intellectual laziness and inability to constructively engage contemporary national issues in a live television and radio debate.

“We had envisaged that the APC would be reluctant to expose General Buhari to the rigours of a live television debate because the opposition party knows that its candidate will flunk it.

“If the APC truly believes that it is ‘a party of progressive intellectuals’, as it claims it should allow General Buhari to prove that at the debate.

“Should the APC fail to participate in the debate, it would also show the disdain both the party and its candidate have for the Nigerian people, denying them the opportunity to make informed choices on the basis of what each candidate will articulate as propositions on issues that will be raised.

“We are convinced that General Buhari does not have what it takes to sustain a coherent argument on germane issues of governance and development.

“We challenge General Buhari to a debate on any national and international medium of mass communication and our candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan will be ready to participate.

“On the other hand, President Jonathan’s running mate, Vice President Namadi Sambo, is also ready to participate in the debate and any other debate.

“Our presidential candidate and his running mate will not raise flimsy and escapist excuses such as “unhidden bias” and the like, since we believe that they are well-rounded intellectuals who have been prepared by their experience in office to answer any question under the sun on the governance of our nation.”, Jonathan Campaign group noted.

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Agbaje Promises to Complete Lagos-Badagry Road, Says He’s Contesting Against a Puppet, Two Puppeteers

Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State governorship election, Jimi Agbaje, has lashed out at the All Progressives Congress (APC) government in the state for trying to make him look bad before the people of the state.

Agbaje expressed his anger at a rally organised at Apapa and Amuwo–Odofin local government areas, adding that rather than resorting to mudslinging, APC should focus on issue-based politics.

Agbaje, who vowed to remain focused in his quest to liberate Lagosians, decried the campaign of calumny against him by the APC.

Apparently referring to the out-going Governor Babatunde Fashola and the APC governorship candidate, with his running mate, Agbaje said, “As you all know, I am contesting against three candidates. One is the puppet, the two others are the puppeteers.

“They have said am too old to govern the state but I still look younger than them. I do not have experience but I want you to know that governance is not about experience but it is qualification.

“So far, we have done two debates, those of you who watched the debate will agree with me that we floored the APC candidate.

“They have resorted to using all manner of ways to portray me in a bad light.

“Recently they said I am a tax evader but only this month, the state government sent me a letter commending me for paying my tax promptly”.

Promising to complete the ongoing Lagos-Badagry express way project, Agbaje berated the state government of using the project as an avenue to siphon fund.

He said, “When they started this road, they told us that the road will be ready by 2012 but as you can see, this road is yet to be completed.

“They plan to toll this road but it is an avenue to get money for themselves.

“I want you to know that they are using this road to siphon money into their pockets. By the grace of God, we shall complete and commission this road”.

He assured that a PDP administration under him would have a human face, saying, “we will not discriminate against anyone, especially the non-indigenes.”

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APC Candidate Says Ekiti Gov Abused Bible Verse, Insulted Muslims as Buhari Attacks Punch, SUN newspapers Over Fayose’s Frontpage Adverts

Sample Photo of The Advert
Sample Photo of The Advert
Governor Ayodele Fayose has come under fire from the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over a front page advert the Ekiti State governor paid for in The Punch and Daily Sun newspapers on Monday morning.

Buhari, in a Facebook post, accused Mr. Fayose of abusing a Bible verse and insulting Muslims, especially Northerners.

*General Muhammadu Buhari, sick like late Yar'Adua?
*General Muhammadu Buhari, sick like late Yar’Adua?

The governor had paid for front page adverts in the national dailies, depicting three former Heads of State from the North, who are Muslims and died in office, together with the APC presidential candidate, suggesting that what happened to them may happen to Buhari.

Fayose, in the advert urging Nigerians to “vote wisely” by casting their votes for President Goodluck Jonathan, said “NIGERIA…‘I have set before thee LIFE & DEATH. Therefore, choose LIFE that both thee and thy seed may LIVE (emphasis not ours)’”.

The advert, which has attracted reactions of Nigerians on the social media, was described by Buhari as a breach of the peace pact signed last week by leading presidential candidates, including President Goodluck Jonathan.

“First, it is totally unprofessional and abusive to Ethical codes of Journalism for Punch and Sun Newspapers to publish such content. Punch and Sun Newspapers must revoke the advert immediately and apologize to the people of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari and the APC for such folly.

“Second, if till now, there is no denouncement of the post from PDP and GEJ (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan), it means that they support it because Fayose is a stakeholder of the party, and a front man for GEJ’s campaign.

“GEJ signed a peace pact last week against election violence and he, through the insensitivity of this advert, is the first to break that pact.

“The Jonathan administration is cruising on lies and propaganda. It is bent on amassing votes to siphon more public funds and has no interest of Nigerians at heart. It is bound to fail”.

The Facebook post reiterated Buhari’s commitment to peace and urged Nigerians to get their Permanent Voters Cards and “vote these bigots out of power come February 14”.

“Encourage your neighbors, let them know that GEJ has nothing to offer them but lies and empty promises”, it added.

As Muna Obiekwe, Nollywood Actor Dies

*Muna Obiekwe in hospital bed
*Muna Obiekwe in hospital bed
Muna Obiekwe1
Nollywood star, Muna Obiekwe, is dead.

The popular actor reportedly died after battling with kidney failure.

News of his death filled the social media airspace at about 7.30 p.m. on Sunday.

According to reliable sources, Muna died on Sunday afternoon at an undisclosed hospital in Lagos.

President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Ibinabo Fiberesima, confirmed the death of the prominent actor.

The deceased had been in the movie industry for over a decade, featuring in over 100 movies before his death.

Some celebrities in the nation’s entertainment sector on Monday expressed shock at the demise of Nollywood actor, Muna Obiekwe, who passed away on Sunday due to kidney complications.

Speaking to Newsmen in separate interviews, the entertainers lamented the death of their colleague and decried the actions of one Twitter impersonator who used his name to cause confusion.

Reports had it that Obiekwe, who was based in Enugu, had been suffering from the ailment for some time but kept it a secret from friends and colleagues.

It was said that the actor had become broke as a result of the cost of managing the ailment, but rejected seeking public assistance because he didn’t want to disgrace himself.

A fake Twitter account @MunaObiekwe had caused confusion by denying his death but later came out clean and tweeted an apology for its actions.

“Anyway, sorry guys for d deceit, Munaobiekwe is truly dead and I’m signing out from this account…. Sorry guys.’’

As at the time of filing in this report, the Twitter account had an estimated 12, 500 followers, and was following 120 people and had Tweeted 2, 249 times.

Speaking to newsmen, actor, Chinedu Ikedieze, aka, Aki, said: “I find it difficult to believe but it’s true and very unfortunate for the Nigerian movie industry and the youth as a whole.’’

Aki condemned the spate at which celebrity Twitter accounts are being hacked or cloned, and even narrated how he discovered those impersonating him on Twitter and Facebook.

Kenneth Okolie, an actor and winner of Mr Nigeria 2010 said: “Death is a very sad thing.

“Losing someone is sad news. It’s even worse when it’s someone dear to you and one you hold in high esteem.

“Muna Obiekwe’s death is indeed a shocker and my heart goes out to his family and loved ones. May his soul rest in peace.’’

Okolie said those impersonating others on Social Media were jobless people who had a lot of worthless time on their hands to fool themselves and deceive others.

He advised them to get a life and work for their own path and not wear someone else’s skin.

Bethel Njoku (Senator), a comedian said: “Muna’s death is a sad start for Nollywood for the year. He was a good actor and one of the prominent daring acts, it’s a sad loss for Nigeria.’’

He called the creation of fake celebrity Social Media accounts a ‘State Crime’.

“I hope the one who was operating Muna’s Social Media account is dead by now because the person he was impersonating is dead, so he or she should die with him in solidarity for his fraud.’’

Micah Aruochaa, comedian and On-Air Personality said: “I was heartbroken because he was a fellow I admired and even though our paths never crossed.

“I saw him as a colleague in the entertainment industry and I pray God has mercy on us the remaining ones.’’

Daniel Lloyd an actor said: “It’s so painful to refer to him as the past now because he inspired me a lot in acting.

“He is the kind of actor that says a lot with his facial expressions than with words and that’s something most actors lack these days. May his gentle soul rest in peace.’’

In the same vein, Victor Osuagwu, Chairman Actors Guild of Nigeria, Lagos Chapter, described the development as shocking and heartbreaking.

Osuagwu told newsmen that the guild received the earlier in the day and are making further enquiries.

“We are not making any public statement yet until we conclude our investigation into his death, so that we can make a statement based on facts and not rumours”, he said.

In his reaction, Nonso Diobi, another renowned thespian, described Obiekwe’s demise as unfortunate and untimely.

“He has been living with this ailment for sometime before it got to this stage, if only he had reached out to the public, the situation might have been different.

“I wish him blissful eternal rest, while my heartfelt condolences go out to his family”, he said.

Reports have it that Obiekwe was a popular Nollywood actor whose later works became controversial as a result of some explicit sexual content.

In one of his controversial works; “Pregnant Hawker’’, he was alleged to have grabbed the breasts of actress, Biola Ige, and stuffed it into his mouth.

Both later denied ever acting such a scene in the movie and claimed the pictures which had gone viral was doctored and “photo shopped’’ by detractors.

FG Reduces Fuel Price to N87 Per Litre

The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced the reduction of the fuel price of petrol from N97 per litre to N87 per litre.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said at a press conference at the presidential villa, Abuja, that the new price regime would take effect immediately.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke said the N10 reduction in fuel price was necessitated by the reduction in crude oil prices in the international market.

The Trade Union Congress [TUC] had earlier on January 5 asked the government  to take advantage of the falling oil prices to reduce retail prices of petroleum products.

The TUC had argued that the best time to review the retail pump price of petrol was now, in line with the argument put forward by government in 2012 when the price was adjusted from N70 per litre to N97.

Details later

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Uncertainties Over APC Presidential Candidate’s Health as Buhari Travels to US

There have been rising concerns were raised over the health status of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, following his planned trip to the United States of American towards the end of January.

*General Muhammadu Buhari, sick like late Yar'Adua?
*General Muhammadu Buhari, sick like late Yar’Adua?

Buhari is reported to have filled an online application for the United States of America Visa to enable him travel to the country around January 26 for medical scrutiny.

The application for the visa, it was learnt, instantly fuelled speculations that Buhari had been weighed down by the strain of the campaigns which he had been undertaking in recent days, thereby requiring urgent medical attention in the foreign land.

His opponents argued that Buhari would not have sought to abandon his campaigns midway and travel abroad for medical attention if his health condition was not dire.

They contended that the general’s failing health had become a serious concern to his handlers, who have, however, quietly managed the situation to avoid any damage to his candidature.
But in a shift response, Buhari dismissed the claims over his health as mere fabrication of lies by those afraid of his rising popularity among Nigerian voters.

While insisting that he was hale and hearty, Buhari, through his Campaign Director of Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, asked Nigerians not to be distracted by the antics of desperate and unpopular candidates who were afraid of losing in a free and fair contest. The media campaign director dismissed as a figment of the imagination of “wicked and evil persons,” the rumour that Buhari may be travelling to the United States towards the end of this month for medical check up.

While dismissing the report as fabrications, however, he said that “as a prominent leader of the opposition, many interests across the globe want him (GMB) over for political and diplomatic consultations,” adding that the “invitation to the US may not be unconnected to this.”

Shehu also dismissed as fake and untenable a purported medical report from the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital showing that Buhari had been diagnosed of prostate cancer by the institution.

In a statement, he described the claim, said to have been credited to a ‘renowned source in the hospital’, as disdainful, distractive, mischievous, fake and fallacious.

The Buhari aide said, “It (report of cancer) is untrue and condescending of its exponents. I have it on good authority that GMB has not visited the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in the last five years. So, how can anyone say that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer last October, barely three months ago?

“This is the highest point of political distraction, malice and mischief. The report was not only fake but unfounded. I have spoken to impeccable sources at ABUTH all of whom deny the report and also claimed that the letterhead used was not their regular one, and that Dr. Bala Mohammed that purportedly approved the false medical report is not on the personnel list of that department.”

Beside, Shehu said sources at ABUTH disclosed that “medical report analysis only come from laboratory technologists and not medical doctors as handwritten in this particular case”, stressing that Buhari did not attend the hospital for cancer or any other ailment.
He restated its statement of Friday that Buhari is as fit as a fiddle.

“The Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) has discredited the purported report said to have emanated from the hospital to the effect that General Muhammadu Buhari is stricken with cancer,” the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation has said.

Meanwhile, there is a groundswell of opposition from Nigerians in the Diaspora against the candidate of Buhari in the February 14 presidential election.

The opposition against the former military ruler is being championed by the United States chapter of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO), the flagship association of Nigerians living abroad.

Speaking at a press conference held at the Hilton Garden, Washington DC, Hon. Victor Ugho, the immediate past Vice-President of NIDO, who is the current President of the Georgia State chapter of the association with headquarters in Atlanta, urged the former Head of State to perish the thought of becoming the next president of the country, saying that the world has moved past the likes of Buhari.

Ugho regretted that Buhari has allowed himself to be pushed around by some people whom, he said, were looking for ways to cause more pains to Nigeria. He noted that Buhari, as Head of State, had ample opportunity to turn the country around, stressing that, “as a matter of sincerity, I do not think Buhari is the best candidate for Nigeria at this period in time. He was there as Head of State, what did he do?

“Again, he has not told us what he is going to do differently. We need continuity; the choice should not be based on tribal sentiment. Let him tell us how he is going to fix the so-called terrible situation he has identified. We need somebody who will not bring disunity.”

Also speaking, the Public Relations Officer of NIDO, Mr. Ndubusi George called on Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to think wisely and vote for the right candidate in next month’s presidential election.

(Vanguard)