No Disquiet In Military Over Chibok Girls Release – DHQ, Says Operation Against Boko Haram Continues in North-East

the Defence Headquarters yesterday said the release of the girls has not caused disquiet in the military.

It also said the operation in the North-East against Boko Haram insurgents will continue.

The DHQ made the clarifications in a statement by the Acting Director Defence Information Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar.

He said: “The Defence Headquarters attention has been drawn to an online and newspaper publication insinuating that there is a mixed feeling among Nigerian military ranks and files as a result of the recent release of some Chibok girls.

“The military wishes to state unequivocally that the Armed Forces will continue to work closely with all our sister security agencies to achieve more feat in this direction.

“The military also want to debunk the baseless and unfounded story that there is disquiet in the military over the condition of release of the girls.

“The Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies are one working together to finish the war on terror and other criminalities which can be done covertly or overtly.  The most important thing is achieving our strategic objective.

“The DHQ has said before that negotiation with the terrorists or any other group rests purely on our respected political leaders.  The military operations to rid our land of terrorists continue.

“It is important to state that not all information is meant for public consumption due to processes which is purely political.  More so, the ongoing military operation is making unprecedented progress with the rescue of many captives held by the terrorists.  The general public should discountenance with this baseless and misleading story.

“While the Armed Forces hold the media veritable partner, it urges the media to be mindful and clarify with the military when reporting security and defence issues bothering on sensitive national matters of this nature.”

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The DSS Sting Operation Against Some Judges And The Real Colour Of The Truth, By First Baba Isa

 

A lot of people have approached this issue like we always approach everything: it’s either Arsenal or Chelsea, APC or PDP, Black or White, Yes or No, Right or Left… but as Aristotle will say, “Virtue resides in the centre, all others at the extremes are vices.”

We need to stop and realize that most times progress and national interest is not in the right or left but in the middle; most times truth is not white or black but a shade of grey. My stance is a little bit of there and here…

Assuming and even partially conceding they are corrupt… Yes, the DSS has tons of evidence against them… Is this the proper way to arrest a justice of the Supreme Court or a judge? Even when a man is sentenced to death, there is a proper way to kill him. If a man has been sentenced to die by hanging, you can’t just take him out and gather your family members to stone him to death.

Someone might argue that dying is dying and killing is killing. But such a submission will be bereft of legality and logic. So, sir, stop waiting for whether they will come out squeaky clean. Even if they don’t come out clean, the procedure adopted by the SSS is faulty prima facie; please note that I didn’t say illegal, we will come to that.

There are salient and noble reasons why procedures for investigating and punishing erring judicial officers are put in place. And one of the reasons is so that the bench should not be shamed and demystified, for want of a better word. A judge should first be removed as a judge before he should be arrested and made to stand criminal trial.

Once a judge, like every other person, is arrested for a crime, the Constitutional presumption of innocence kicks in, meaning such a judge will most likely be released on bail and he continues to be a judge, presiding over cases, while attending his trial. And most of those cases the judge who was arrested by the DSS, the judge standing trial and prosecuted by the DSS, will be brought and prosecuted by the same prosecutors, the DSS. In other words, his prosecutors will be appearing before him as a judge to prosecute other cases. Can you imagine that?

That is why a procedure is put in place to first remove these erring judges through the instrumentality of the National Judicial Council before they are arrested and prosecuted. It is not because they are better than the rest of us, it is for the sanity of the system.

Procedural law is the fuel that drives substantive law to birth justice. You cannot copulate procedural law in the mouth and expect substantive law to birth justice… That might be a waste of national and administrative sperm!

But what if this faulty procedure leads to an unraveling of heavy corruption… As might already be unfolding? Should will throw away the truth because the procedure was faulty? Is the sting operation even illegal? This is where the truth begin to take the colour of grey. Not white. Not black.

I have already stated in clear language that there is procedure of disciplining erring judges. The National Judicial Council is saddled with this responsibility. This is an admirable procedure for the reasons I gave above. But here I am, perusing the Third Schedule, Part 1, Paragraph 20-22, that establishes and outlines the function and powers of the National Judicial Council and I can’t see anywhere here, where it is expressly stated or remotely implied that because of the existence of the NJC, our law enforcement agents cannot arrest a judge for an alleged crime. If you have seen it, please show me.

The NJC as a body is not even empowered to remove a judge, they only recommend a certain punishment to the executive arm of Government to be meted out to the erring judges. So nothing prevents the executive arm of Government from enforcing the law against judges suspected of committing crimes. “The National Judicial Commission (NJC) is responsible for the appointment, discipline/punishment of judicial officers only in respect of breach of judicial ethics, and not crime.  Even where a judicial officer has been sanctioned by the NJC for any misconduct, the state still reserves the right to prosecute the erring officer if his misconduct amounts to a crime.”

A corrupt judge cannot be allowed to hide under the procedural cloud of the NJC to evade arrest. We cannot sacrifice justice and the fight against corruption in the judiciary on the altar of decorum.

Breaking down doors and arresting judges in the middle of the night is not the decorous thing to do, infact it is shocking and disgusting but that it is shocking and disgusting doesn’t make it illegal; thus inputting illegality to the DSS operation is nothing but grand mischief designed to tell an already story or play out a script.

The DSS executed their search/arrest warrant as empowered under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA). Section 144 provides for the issuance of search warrant and this warrant may also empower the officer to arrest. Section 148 of the ACJA states clearly “A search warrant may be issued and executed at any time on any day, including a Sunday or Public Holiday.” So those saying it is illegal to arrest them by 1:00 am in the morning are talking out of their imagination and not within the purview of our extant law.

I never thought a day will come when I will see the door of a Supreme Court Justice broken down to effect his arrest. But that day came. But as sad as I am, I will not allow my emotions prevent me from showing us what the law says in this regard. Section 149 (1) of the ACJA states that: “Where any building liable to be search is closed, a person residing in or being in charge of the building, thing or place, shall on demand of the police officer or other person executing the search warrant, allow him free and unhindered access to it and afford all reasonable facilities for its search.” And when unhindered access is denied, what happens?

Go and do a community reading of Sections 9, 10, 12, 13 and 149 (2) of the ACJA  and you will see that a law enforcement agent executing a search warrant and/or arrest warrant is empowered to “break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place” where unhindered access is denied. So if the suspects (judges) denied the agents unhindered access, sad as it is, the hacking down of the door is lawful.

Now to the point of whether the DSS has the statutory responsibility to carry out the raid. A very senior lawyer even claimed that he has read the Act establishing the DSS and nothing therein empowers them to arrest the Judges. Really? Let’s see for ourselves.

Have you forgotten the SSS Instrument 1, promulgated by General Abdulsalam Abubakar? This instrument was promulgated pursuant to the powers conferred on the Head of State by Section 6 of the National Security Agencies Act (the Act that created the DSS). Section 3(1) SSS Instrument 1 states that: “For the purpose of facilitating the discharge of its function under this instrument, personnel of the State Security Service are hereby conferred with the power of Superior Police Officer in respect of searches and arrests”

And before you accuse me of quoting a law made by the military, this instrument has been anointed by section 315 (5)(C) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria; and what the Constitution has blessed no man can curse.

Section 12 of Police Act defines a Police Officer to include, “any officer of an equivalent rank in other security agencies” Section 7 of the same Act states unequivocally that, “police officers, custom officers, any member of the Armed forces and Security Agencies can arrest without warrant, any person committing an offence prescribed by law”. So I don’t know where some persons conjured the submission that a DSS operative cannot arrest.

We all feel bad about the arrest but the arrest is lawful. I don’t want to belong to a profession where judges are hounded, intimidated and arrested like common suspects by security agents; but I don’t also want to belong to a profession where judges sell justice like yams in a bazaar to the highest bidder.

I want the law enforcement agents to hold off until a judge has been disciplined by the NJC before they can make arrest and prosecute but if the NJC is glossing over petitions, being tardy and letting off corrupt judges with a slap on the wrist then by all means let the law enforcement agents swoop on the judges.

Break down the door if you must but by all means stop corruption on the bench. I am a young lawyer and the law is my life. I burn the midnight candle to be the best for my clients and to get to the apex of this profession but my hard work won’t stand a chance before a corrupt judge who sells justice like oranges.

But don’t just break the doors of judges, break the doors of some ministers, break the doors of some legislators, break the doors of some politicians, break the doors of some military officers, break the doors of some law enforcement agents, break the doors of some activists… go on, break doors; maybe we will have enough wood from the broken doors to build the broken fabric of our nation.

 

First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and the President of Lawyers For Peace Initiative; he writes from Abuja

@firstbabaisa

07037162029

meandisa@gmail.com

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Passengers Stranded As Arik Air Grounds Operation Over Fuel, Insurance Debts

Hundreds of air passengers across the country are currently stranded as one of Nigeria’s largest airline, Arik Air has grounded its operations.

Apart from the early flights on Tuesday, several other flights expected to take off across the country has not taken off.

Sources said the situation is due to the massive debts of the airline to major oil marketers who regularly supply aviation fuel

Other sources said the withdrawal of the airline’s insurance cover in Europe and other parts of the world also forced the airline to stop flight operations.

Meanwhile, the airline has issued a statement to announce temporary disruption to its operations.

“Arik Air, West and Central Africa’s largest airline has alerted all air travelers of a temporary disruption to its operations, pending approval of aircraft documentation related to insurance renewal,” read the statement issued by Ola Adebanji, Arik’s spokesman.

“The airline said that it was working around the clock to resolve the necessary documentation, which has been a challenge due to the long weekend holidays due to Ed al Adha.

“At the present time, all flights of the airline have been cancelled for Tuesday, 13 September 2016 and the airline has stated that it would be getting in touch with passengers to provide an update on rescheduling of their flights.

“This situation is likely to continue for the next few days until such time that NAICOM (National Insurance Commission) approves a waiver on a priority basis for the new insurance company to renew the policy.

“All customers are kindly advised to contact Arik Air’s Call Centre (01-2799999), Airport or City ticket offices or visit the airline’s Website (www.arikair.com) for further updates. Passengers are also advised to check with the airline regarding the status of their flights before proceeding to the airport.

“Arik Air’s Group CEO, Dr. Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, wishes to advise and assure the public, its customers, stakeholders and partners that we are fully committed to returning to our normal operations and minimize any unfortunate inconvenience to our passengers. Where flights have been cancelled, the airline will notify passengers through SMS and in such cases, passengers will be accommodated on first available alternative flight as soon as normal flight operations resume.

“The Group CEO has apologized and appealed (on behalf of the airline) for the understanding of passengers while it works diligently to resume normal operations at the earliest.”

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EFCC Investigates ‘Missing’ N3bn Military Operation Cash

How did the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) utilise the multi-billion naira it collected from some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for military operations between 2007 and 2015?

This is one of the issues the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is expected to look into as it begins the probe of 56 individuals and organisations, including two former army chiefs – Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah —and former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki, over N405 billion defence contracts scam.

The MDAs were said to have funded the Nigerian Army procurement through the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

A document obtained by The Nation said ONSA collected various sums from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), among others for military operations, but the Defence Headquarters and the Services denied receipt of the money.

The document said: “The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) on 13 May 2013 requested funds for the conduct of Operation BOYONA aimed at dislodging terrorists camps along the common borders with Cameroun, Chad and Niger.

“Consequently, the government released N1,340,000,000. 00 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which were disbursed to DHQ and the Services accordingly.

“In August 2013, ONSA requested and got approval for additional N2,000,000,000.00 for logistics requirements and sustenance of troops, which was credited to ONSA’s account.

“However, DHQ and the Services confirmed non receipt of any additional funds for Operation BOYONA.

“The Committee is of the view that the then NSA, Lt Col MS Dasuki (rtd) should be made to account for the N2,000,000,000.00.

“The  Committee  also  noted  that  between  3  September  2014  and  30 April  2015,

NIMASA funded accounts of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield with various

sums totalling N8,542,586,798.58 purportedly to enhance operations of the JTF in the Niger Delta. Neither the need assessment that warranted the release of funds nor the details of the expenditure was made available to the Committee.

“However, analyses of the accounts of the Joint Task Force showed that transfers totalling N6,277,698,885.13 were made to the following companies for yet to be established purposes:

  • Jaggan Lt-N1,764,721,724.12
  • East Point Integrated Services Ltd-N1,660,514,283.79
  • Al Nald Ltd-N804,893,064.22
  • Jaggan Trading Company Ltd – N 791,939,812.00
  • Paper Warehouse Ltd -N500,315,000.00
  • New Building Services -N330,000,000.00
  • Jaggan Global Services –N 250,315,000.00
  • UVN Global Services Ltd- N 175,000,000.00

Also for probe are 18 serving and retired military officers, a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, three former permanent secretaries, eight  former and serving directors in the Ministry of Defence, and 24 companies.

The investigation follows the recommendation of the Air Vice Marshal (AVM) JON Ode Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement (CADEP).

The money spent between 2007 and 2015 is N185,8 billion and $685,349,692.49 million

The probe’s outcome will determine who among the short listed 56 persons and companies will be arraigned.

The document added: “In continuation of its assignment, the Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement (CADEP) in the Nigerian Armed Forces analysed procurement contracts awarded by or for the Nigerian Army between 2007 and 2015.

“The Committee so far noted that within the period under review, the sum of N71,775,313,451.30 and $685,349,692.49 was spent on Nigerian Army procurement by the Ministries of Defence, Finance, Foreign Affairs and Environment. Others were the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

“Additionally, some state governments, notably Adamawa, Kano and Yobe, as well as Federal Ministries of Finance and Power, funded Nigerian Army operations with the sum of N114,067,739,113.00.

“The contributions made by other states such as Borno and Plateau, among others were not available as at the time of writing this report.

Those serving and retired military officers under investigation are as follows:

Lt Gen OA Ihejirika (Rtd), former COAS; Lt Gen KTJ Minimah (Rtd), former COAS;

Maj Gen JAH Ewansiha (Rtd)- former CTOP(A); Maj Gen U Buzugbe (Rtd),  former COPP(A);

Maj Gen ER Chioba (Rtd),  former Director-General DICON;  Maj Gen AI Muraina (Rtd) former CAB(A); Maj Gen EJ Atewe, former  Commander  JTF  Op  PULO SHIELD; Maj Gen DD Kitchener (Rtd)-

former COLOG;  Brig Gen DM Onoyiveta, former COS to COAS; Brig Gen AJS Onibasa, former OMT;  Brig Gen M Mamman HQ NAE; Col N Ashinze, former SA – NSA; Col AA Abubagaji former AD Fin;  Col AM Inuwa former AD Fin (COPP); Lt Col MS Dasuki (Rtd), former NSA; bLt Col El-Hussaini Boyi (Rtd)-former AD Fin;  Sqn Ldr M Oyaduogba    –    Finance Offr JTF Op PULO SHIELD; and   96NA/43/8364 Cpl Abubakar Usman

The serving and retired public officials are  ex- Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Nurudeen Mohammed; Mr Bukar Goni Aji, former Perm Sec (MOD);Mr Haruna Sanusi former Perm Sec (MOD); Mr EO Oyemomi, former Perm Sec (MOD); Mr Abdulrazak Salau, former DJSD MOD;  Mr Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla, former DFA MOD; Mrs Josephine N Opara, former DFA MOD;  Mr Abdullahi Maikano, former DFA MOD; Mr John Bamidele, former DFA MOD;

Mr Buba M Gamawa; former DJSD MOD;  Mr Tajudeen Gbenga Fetuga – former DFA MOD

Alhaji Salisu Shuaibu, former Dir Finance ONSA.

The companies and the Chief Executive Officers  involved are Col Olu Bamgbose (Rtd), CEO Bamverde Ltd; Mr Amit Sade, CEO Doiyatec Comms Ltd & DYI Global Services Ltd; Mr Noam Sade, GM  Doiyatec  Comms  &  DYI  Global Service Ltd;  Mr Jimmy Ntuen, CEO Barnes & Tubbies Ltd;

Dr O Ayandele, CEO TS-Y Ltd;  Mr Hima Aboubakar, CEO SEI; Alhaji Gujja Attom, CEO Baram International Nig Ltd; and Alhaji Maisudan Bello Mohammed – CEO Dalfam Nig Ltd.

Others are Mr Lawal Oriyomi, CEO 2020 Nig Ltd; Mr Chinedu Onyekwere, CEO Chok Ventures; Mr Eleojo Peters m CEO Clover Nig Ltd; Mr Alon Nelken Samuel, CEO  Hadassa  Investment  Security  (Nig) Ltd ; Mr Edward Churchill CEO Westgate Global Trust Ltd;

Capt Rohit Nandal, CEO Hercules Manufacturing (Nig) Ltd; Mr JM Claassens, CEO Conella Services Ltd;  Mr Kingsley Onyeabor, EO Phoenix Technology Trading Company;

Mr Donald Peterson,mCEO  Richfield Technologies Ltd; Kaja Alexander Onyemachi, CEO Jiangxi 299 Metal & Stones Ltd; Mr Ponnle Abiodun, Berwick Integrated Services Ltd;

CEO Rapiscan System Ltd; CEO Dorema Nigeria Ltd. CEO  Progress Ltd;

CEO Koncept Auto Centre Ltd;   Mr Kime Egozi.

It was learnt that part of what the EFCC is looking into was how the Nigerian Army procurement was funded by some Ministries, Departments and Agencies ( MDAs) including NIMASA.

A source in the EFCC said last night: “All those recommended for investigation by the panel cannot be said to have committed infractions until we have concluded our assignment.

“Do not forget that some of them are still in either the military or in the public service. We will be fair enough in our investigation without hurting the innocent. One or two officers who appeared before this commission before and were released.

“ Most of the companies and their CEOs are also in business, even beyond our shores. We are conducting this investigation with the fear of God and in line with international best practices.

“This is why we have taken time to study the report and to raise a Special Committee of incorruptible detectives and investigators who will be painstaking.

“You can now appreciate why we have neither invited nor arrested anybody recommended for investigation. We are involved in due diligence. Whoever is not guilty will be free. So, it is too early to say whether or not there is aprima face case against them or not.

“After our preliminary findings, we will then invite those that need to be invited.”

Credit: TheNation

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Army Launches ‘Large Scale Operation’ In Sambisa Forest

The Nigerian Army said on Sunday that it had commenced large scale operations to smoke out Boko Haram terrorists from their Sambisa forest hideout in Borno.

Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole said this while briefing newsmen in Maiduguri.

“I want to inform you that troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole are conducting operations in the heart of Sambisa as we speak.

“The troops are deep into the forest to smoke out Boko Haram terrorists,”

He said that the troops were led by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 division of the Nigerian Army Maiduguri Brig.-Gen. Victor Ezugwu.Irabor said.

“In fact the GOC 7 division is leading the operations,” Irabor said declining to give further details.

He said that the troops had also recorded tremendous successes against the terrorists in the last couple of days.

“Following a tip-off, troops intercepted four female suicide bombers approaching from Sambisa in the general area of Jimini-Bolari village. Two unexploded Improvised Explosive Devices on the suicide bombers were safely detonated by our own team.

“Also, a suspected terrorists training camp at Mudallah llage in Dikwa Local Government Area was raided by troops on April 16.

Irabor said that the troops also rescued over 1,000 civilians held captive by the terrorists.“Consequently, troops made contact and killed a suspected terrorists leader and six others while capturing five of them. During the raid, five vehicles and several terrorists flags were destroyed.”

He said on April 3, troops also launched a fighting patrol to Boboshe, Garna, Kyare, Ginba and Ajiri villages where they recovered eight industrial gas cylinders and five regular gas cylinders, being used in bomb making, at a primary school.

He said during the operation three terrorists were captured while four motor cycles, three bicycles, a solar panel and two containers of liquid herbicides were destroyed.

In another operation on April 28 troops in the general area of Bogoro, Duguno 1, 2 and 3 encountered and cleared some terrorists elements around Mmbaraka.

“The troops proceeded to Jadda village where they engaged and killed four terrorists. The patrol team also discovered a big pit where the terrorists used for dumping their victims to die and rot.

“The patrol team later freed some hostages and recovered an AK-47 rifle, 30 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 12 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition, 14 Dane guns, a motorcycle, two solar panels, 120 liters of diesel, some packets of panadol and a food storage facility.

“During the operation, one of the troops suffered gunshot wound and was evacuated for medical treatment. I am glad to state that he is in stable condition and responding to treatment,” Irabor said.

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Troops Arrest Boko Haram leaders As Military Plans Joint Operation Against Herdsmen

Troops yesterday tracked and arrested six  terrorists kingpins  who sneaked into Kala Balge as a result of the onslaught of troops on terrorists in the Sambisa forest.

The six  notorious Ameers (leaders), noted for getting logistics support and information for the Boko Haram terrorists, were arrested in a swift military operation by troops  of 3 Battalion, 22 Brigade.

The unrepentant and hardened insurgents which include Musa Kalile Sabakara (an Ameer), Babagana John  (an informant and also seller of foodstuffs), Isah Abakar (an Ameer) and Usman Abasa,  (who specializes on cattle rustling and selling of food stuffs), as well Bukar Gujja (a tailor who prepare clothes for the terrorists) and Bukar Kahalifa (also a tailor who prepares the dress for the Boko Haram terrorists), are presently undergoing interrogation, according to a military statement.

Meanwhile, the military high command in the country might come up with a joint operation involving the various security agencies against the menace of Fulani herdsmen in the country.

The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, on Thursday  that the expected operation would not be restricted to a single service of the Armed Forces.

He said that the operation would be similar to the ones formed to battle the insurgency in the North-East, the militancy  in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country.

Abubakar was reacting to the question of what the military would do in view of the recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the military and the police to stop the recurrent killing of hapless villagers by armed Fulani militia.

Buhari‘s directive followed the public outrage that greeted the murder of 50 people at Ukpabi Nimbo Community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State by suspected Fulani herdsmen on Sunday.

The Acting Defence spokesman added that the issue of the threat posed by the herdsmen would be given the deserved attention by the military.

He said that the military would ensure effective compliance with the presidential directive to stop the current killings by the rampaging herdsmen in the country.

“The ideas of joint operation will always be there because it is a common knowledge that it is not a one service business. It must involve all other security agencies.

“Each and every one of us has a role to play: physical security, giving information, synergising with other stakeholders. That is what we are doing in the North-East and the Niger Delta and other parts. It would involve not only the military.

“The current resurgence of this issue of herdsmen is something which must be given a priority now that there is a glaring security threats to lives and property which the Armed Forces and other security agencies cannot close their eyes to.

“All efforts are now on towards ensuring that there is security of lives and property in the general area where such activities of herdsmen are being carried out.

“Just of recent, the President has given us a directive and it is something which we must comply with and in other cases, we deploy our men through operations such as the one against cattle rustling, Operation Sharandaji, which is to ensure that no herdsmen involved in criminal activities are spared.”

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Building Nigeria, Not An Overnight Operation, US Tells Buhari

The United States has acknowledged Nigeria’s challenges and told President Muhammadu Buhari administration that building Nigeria would not be “an overnight operation.”

The US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, who stated this on Wednesday at the US-Nigeria Binational Commission’s meeting in Washington, said America wanted Nigeria to succeed.

He stated, “You know there are challenges. That’s what your election was about. And so we are all aware that the world right now is facing many different challenges in terms of governance in various parts of the world and for various reasons: absence of capital, absence of structure, having to build capacity.

“These things take time. Nobody is pretending that it’s an overnight operation. It wasn’t for us. And some people sometimes are very revisionist in America about our own history, but we’ve gone through some very difficult periods and very difficult issues.”

Kerry recalled that America took slavery out of its constitution after it had been written in, adding that it was no small task.

He stated, “We’ve been through a history. And what we’re trying to do is, really, share with people the shortcut, if you will – how you can manage to avoid some of the mistakes that we’ve made in the course of our own development in ways that can embrace the hopes and the aspirations of millions upon millions of people. That’s what this is about.”

He added that Nigeria was finding very vibrant expression in every branch of the arts. He said that like the United States, Nigeria “is a diverse country with a very large and assertive civil society.”

Kerry said, “The United States, let me be clear, is very encouraged by President Buhari’s commitment to an economy that is more diversified, less dependent on a single commodity for export earnings, and that means we need to develop sustainability.

“Sustainable growth depends on a climate that is welcoming to investment and respectful of the environment and of workers’ rights. And we have learned in these last 25, 30 years that it is never a competition between the environment and development.

“That is a false choice – completely false, and particularly in the context of today’s challenge of climate change. You can develop in ways that protect the environment and also are competitive and provide jobs for people.”

According to him, Nigeria’s future is in Nigerians’ hands. He said the United States would help Nigeria.

“Our development assistance this year will top $600m, and we are working closely with your leaders – the leaders of your health ministry – to halt the misery that is spread by HIV/AIDS, by malaria, and by TB,” he added.

He explained that the US Power Africa Initiative was aimed at strengthening the energy sector where shortage in electricity had frustrated the population and impeded growth.

He explained that America’s long-term food security programme, Feed the Future, would help to create more efficient agriculture and to raise rural incomes in doing that.

Kerry said that under Buhari’s administration, Nigeria had been taking the fight to Boko Haram and had reduced Boko Haram’s capacity to launch full-scale attacks.

He, however, stated that the group remained a threat to the entire region, adding that the US and Nigerian governments had been collaborating on new ways to institute security measures.

“The threat that is posed by Boko Haram is serious, but it must not – and I really believe this – it will not be allowed to shape Nigeria’s future. Nigeria is a country with could almost boundless capacity for economic growth,” he stated.

He also said no country could make progress with a culture of impunity.

The US also supported Nigeria’s fight against corruption. The secretary of state also backed Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s efforts to prosecute corruption cases.

Kerry said that no country, including Nigeria, could make progress with a culture of impunity.

He stated, “We back the role of civil society and of the media in exposing corruption and in advocating for greater transparency.

“And we emphasise the message that in the United States, we don’t have a holier-than-thou attitude about this. Believe me, we don’t. We’ve had our own challenges with organised crime through some of our history, but we have fought back against it.

“And we have fought back against it with prosecutors, who are above reproach, above the possibility of any kind of interference, and that has made all the difference in the world. You cannot have impunity in your culture – in anybody’s culture – and expect to be able to make progress.”

He added that all countries should emphasise that the fact that the soliciting of a bribe at any level of government could not be considered business as usual.

In his address, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said it had not been easy for Nigeria.

“President Buhari has really persisted. He is somebody, as you all know, whose unimpeachable integrity is respected in Nigeria and around the world. And it was not an easy task for him in opposition to come into power, but as you found also with your incumbent President, anything and everything is possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BNC in a communiqué at the end of the meeting said it discussed among other things, measures to counter violent extremism and encourage defections from Boko Haram; the importance of protecting civilians and safeguarding human rights; the need for integrated planning for the restoration of full civilian authority, resettlement and reconstruction; the need to understand and eliminate sources of terrorist financing; and ways to expand intelligence sharing.

The BNC’s discussion on security cooperation was co-chaired by Mansur Dan-Ali, Nigeria’s Minister of Defence and US Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

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Let Us Go To Back To Operation Low Profile – Senator Adeyeye

Today, I once again stood before the Nigerian People to speak on the general principles and merits of the estimates of the 2016 Appropriation Bill brought by President Muhammadu Buhari before the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly.

I did not mince words in saying that the 8thNational Assembly has given itself too short a time to do justice to the 2016 Appropriation Bill unlike congressional practice in the US which has Budget submitted to the congress 8 Months before the approval.

There should be a Law that mandates the current and future Nigerian Presidents to submit the annual budgets at a timely and appropriate period. I further pointed out that the N115Billion allocated to National Assembly representing only 1.8% of the whole budget of N6.08Trillion will not be shared by Senators & Honourables but includes the expansive staff strength of the National Assembly which are as large as that of any government ministry.

This also includes resources to National Assembly Staff Commission NASC and the National Institute of Legislative Studies NILS. It is therefore unfair to portray the impression that it is because of the profligacy of the National Assembly that Nigeria has economic challenges. It is rather due to the profligacy of the entire nation.

The United States has up three research departments that independently conduct researches on Budget with the Congressional Budget Office being the most respected. This is what we hope to achieve in the 8thassembly with the National Assembly Budget and Research Office NABRO.

In furtherance, I pointed out that about 54% of the Annual Budget of the US comes from tax, suggesting that we must expand our tax system as a Nation. If we want to move this country forward, we must begin to tax cigarettes and alcohol; we must begin to tax allowances and the parking tolls in our airports must be per hour.

In conclusion, as a Country we must sit down to decide our areas of priority. We cannot keep on fighting ourselves for increased allocation to different sectors of the economy without a goal. I believe we must focus on Education as the 6 – 7% we are budgeting for Education is not enough. There is no greater infrastructure in any country than the minds of the young ones. We must equally reduce the cost of governance as a nation. We must jettison the use of extravagant cars by Judges, Senators & Ministers and follow the likes of Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo in going back to ‘Operation Low Profile’ of using Peugeot 504 Cars.

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Dasuki Allegedly Paid Ex-minister N18.09billion For ‘Operation Capture North West’ For PDP

Former-Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto State and his son, Sagir Attahiru and Dalhatu Investment Limited may have to account for over N18.09billion when their trial begins next week.

Part of the cash was for the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s ‘Operation Capture North West’.

The cumulative cash does not include the $9.809m allegedly collected by ex-Minister of State Yuguda from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA between December 23, 2014 and February 10, 2015.

According to the charge sheet filed by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the suspects benefited from the said funds between April 14, 2014 and May 7, 2015.

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Customs To Sack 400 More Officers, Says Operation Won’t Be Affected By Retirements

There are indications that 400 officers of the Nigeria Customs Service will soon be shown the way out for various reasons ranging from corruption, insubordination, indiscipline to absenteeism.

This is just as the service on Sunday said that the retirement of 35 of its senior officers would not affect its operations.

A total of 35 senior officers of the service were retired last week in a reorganisation exercise aimed at repositioning the customs for improved performance.

Those affected in the exercise were five deputy comptrollers-general, three Assistant Comptroller-General and comptrollers serving in Customs headquarters, zonal offices and various area commands.

Some of the officers pencilled down for next round of retirement were said to have flouted re-deployment directives as well as influenced their promotion even when they were not due to be promoted.

It was gathered that some of these officers refused to report at their new postings and instead obtained notes from legislators, who lobbied customs management to stop such re-deployment.

Stakeholders believed that though the retirements will create room for Customs Comptrollers who have been idle for some sometime to be posted or deployed to commands, it would also give rise for Deputy Comptrollers to be promoted as some of them had been on same rank for a long time.

The Public Relations Officer, NCS, Mr. Wale Adeniyi, stated that the level of synergy within the organisation would make it difficult to feel the absence of the retired officers.

He explained that Assistant Comptrollers-General had been directed to take charge in order to continue the duties of those officers.

Wale, however, admitted that while “restructuring always comes with its costs, the agency will adjust by taking up the challenges as they emerge.”

He said, “There is no doubt reorganisation of this magnitude may come with some initial problems.

“However, don’t forget we have walked this route before. I believe we will readjust and take on the challenges the change process may bring.

“Already, the Assistant Comptrollers-General have stepped up and are holding the fort.”

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Army Appoints New Commander For Operation Lafiya Dole

To meet up with the established time line of bringing to a successful conclusion the fight against terrorism and insurgency, the Nigerian Army has appointed a new Commander for OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE. He is Major General Yusha’u Mahmood  Abubakar.

A statement by the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman said the appointment is with immediate effect.

Until this appointment, he was the Commander of Nigerian Army Armoured Corps. Although it is a unified command coordinating 3 and 7 Divisions of the Nigerian Army as well as other elements of Operation LAFIYA DOLE.

“one important point to also note is that this is the first time the Nigerian Army in its history is deploying Corps Headquarters in the field,” Usman said.

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Two FM Radio Stations Announces Shut Down Of Operations Over Power Supply Problem, Shortage Of Diesel

Two sister radio stations, The Beat FM and Classic FM announced on Saturday that they would be going off air for the day by 8.30pm due to the shortage of diesel to power their generators.

In messages shared on their social media accounts, the stations said they have to ration what they have.

The statement shared on the handles of the two stations reads as follows:

“We will be shutting down at 8.30pm today due to diesel shortage. We have to ration. We will be back on tomorrow. We will keep you updated.”

Nigeria’s power generation and distribution has continued to take a nose dive, despite the billions of dollars expended.

Only yesterday, the Ministry of Power said that the power generation has fallen to an all time low of 1,327 megawatts.

It had dropped from a recent peak of 4,500MW on April 3, to 2,800 as of March 30.

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