Tuesday, 21 November 2017

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday held that an application by former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke seeking to be tried in Nigeria was “bizarre” and “misconceived”.
 
Justice Rilwan Aikawa dismissed the application for lacking in merit.
 
He agreed with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) it was a bid by the former Minister to escape justice in the United Kingdom. 
 
Mrs Alison-Madueke asked for an opportunity to defend allegations against her in a charge filed against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mr Dele Belgore and a former Minister of National Planning Prof Abubakar Suleiman.
 
The prosecution said in the charge that Mrs Alison-Madueke (who is at large) allegedly shared $115,010,000 (about N35billion) to different individuals in 36 states ahead of the 2015 general elections, and that Belgore and Suleiman allegedly got N450milion from her.
 
Ruling on the application, Justice Aikawa referred to EFCC’s counter affidavit where it was stated that while in the United Kingdom, Mrs Alison-Madueke was invited by the Metropolitan Police who are investigating her for several financial crimes.
 
EFCC said she had been released on bail in the UK, but cannot leave the country, as investigations had reached an advanced stage and her trial imminent.
 
The commission said the application to list her as a defendant and facilitate her return to Nigeria was designed to scuttle both her investigation and imminent prosecution in the UK and the ongoing trial of Belgore and Suleiman.
 
According to the prosecution, Mrs Alison-Madueke’s application was a bid is to escape justice in the UK under the guise that she was coming to face trial in Nigeria.
 
Justice Aikawa held: “This averment, as far as my record shows, has not been controverted by the applicant. They are by law deemed admitted by the applicant, in which case I have no option than to believe them.
 
“By this unchallenged averment, the action of the applicant is simply a ploy to avoid justice in the UK. This court, unfortunately, cannot be used promote just that.
 
“The discretion to prosecute or not to prosecute the applicant is entirely that of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation. This court has no power to interfere with that discretion. It will, therefore, not attempt to do so.
 
“On the whole, therefore, I find this application to be lacking in merit and is accordingly dismissed.”
 
Mrs Alison-Madueke’s lawyer Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) had argued that Section 216 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) provides that a court may permit an alteration or addition to a charge or the framing of a new charge before judgment is pronounced.
 
He submitted that the section does not expressly state that the power to amend a charge was exclusively that of the prosecution.
 
But, Justice Aikawa held: “I disagree with him. It cannot by any stretch of the imagination be envisaged that a person other than the prosecution may amend a charge under this provision. The power to amend lies, in my opinion, exclusively with the prosecution and not any other person.”
 
Ikpeazu had also argued that Mrs Alison-Madueke was a “necessary party” to the case and therefore ought to be joined.
 
To that, the judge said: “Again, I disagree. As far as I understand, in every criminal trial, the necessary parties are the complainant and the named defendants.
 
“These are the persons the court will pronounce verdicts on at the conclusion of trial. The inclusion of the name of the applicant in counts one to four does not in my view make her a named defendant.
 
“Counts one to four in relation to the applicant remain mere statements and no more. It has not graduated to the status of a charge.”
 
Justice Aikawa also dismissed the SAN’s contention that the former minister would be denied her right to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution if trial proceeds in her absence.
 
The judge held: “In my view, this is a case of crying wolf where there is none.”
 
According to the judge, if anyone was to validly raise the issue of fair hearing, it was Belgore and Usman, not Alison-Madueke who is not part of the trial.
 
Besides, the judge said the application was belated.
 
He held: “Assuming all is in order, this cannot be the right time to make such an application when witnesses have been called and a number of exhibits have been tendered.
 
“The prosecution has even given a hint to the court that it’ll soon close its case. To roll the case back will definitely be tormenting for both the prosecution and the defence, and it will run contrary to the new spirit of speedy dispensation of criminal matters in particular.
 
“Therefore, I have no option than to agree that the application is misconceived from the onset. I’ll refrain from calling it an abuse of court process. But I’ll not hesitate to call it a misuse of court process..
 
“I say this because my curiosity has been aroused. Why did the applicant wait all this while before she came up with this bizarre application?”
 
After dismissing the application, Justice Aikawa, in another ruling, admitted in evidence an electronic e-mail in which Mrs Alison-Madueke gave instructions on how the money was to be shared. The email contained a list of persons to be given the money.
 
Afterwards, prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo continued with the examination of the second prosecution witness, EFCC’s Senior Detective Superintendent, Usman Zakari.
 
The witness said Belgore and Suleiman’s names were in the list and that they received N450million, which they also signed for.
 
He said there was no connection between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the fund that the defendants collected.
 
“I did not recover any cheque issued by the PDP to the first and second defendants,” Zakari said.
 
The witness said Belgore made a cash payment of N50million to one Sherif Shagaya without going through a financial institution.
 
“The first defendant made several cash payments to various individuals without going through a financial institution,” he said.
 
For instance, he said N61 million was paid to a representative from Kwara North; N102 million to some from Kwara Central, and N87 million to someone from Kwara South.
 
EFCC had also tendered a document entitled Payment for Security and Transportation (Exhibit 7).
 
Among security agencies in Kwara who allegedly got part of the money include: the Military, N50million, Civil Defence, N20million, Director of State Security Services and his men, N2.5million, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), N10million, INEC Administrative Secretary, N5million, Resident Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), N1million, among others.
 
Total amount disbursed to security agencies amounted to N126.5million. Justice Aikawa adjourned till November 13 and 14 for continuation of trial.

Liberia's Supreme Court has ordered preparations for Tuesday's presidential run-off to be halted amid allegations of fraud in the first round.

Ex-football star George Weah and Vice-President Joseph Boakai are due to go head-to-head in the 7 November vote.

But the Liberty Party's Charles Brumskine, who came third in the first round, has challenged the result.

Last month's election was the country's first independently run vote following the end of civil war in 2003.

Following the announcement, riot police were deployed to guard the court and electoral commission.

Later, a delegation arrived in the capital, among them the heads of the regional grouping Ecowas, and the Africa Union. They are meeting the heads of all the political parties.

Who does the president support?

Mr Brumskine and the Liberty Party said the first round was "characterised by massive systematic irregularities and fraud", including polling stations opening late and therefore preventing people from voting.

The election is to be postponed until his accusations are properly investigated, the court says.

But even if his case is thrown out, observers say it is likely to delay next week's vote as the commission will have lost valuable preparation time.

The Liberty Party is not alone in its allegations. The accusation of irregularities is backed by two other political parties - including Mr Boakai's Unity Party, which on Sunday alleged that its own president had interfered in the process.

In a statement, it said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female elected president and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, had attempted to influence the outcome of the poll.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a speech in New York in 2015Image copyrightAFP/GETTY
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is accused of not supporting her deputy's presidential bid

Relations between Mrs Sirleaf and her deputy are not warm, with some ruling party officials saying the vice-president was not her choice to succeed her, the BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh reports from the capital Monrovia.

Mrs Sirleaf, 79, has however said more than twice that she supports Mr Boakai, who won 28.8% of the vote compared to Mr Weah's 38.4% in the first round.

Mr Weah's Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) responded to the accusations by noting it was "sad for a ruling party that has been in power for 12 years [to] be crying".

International observers, including the European Union, had not raised major concerns about the first round of voting, although some irregularities were observed, AFP news agency reports.

The court has instructed the Liberty Party and the electoral commission to present their cases by Thursday.

However, election commission spokesman Henry Flomo told the BBC it had not yet been officially informed of the Supreme Court's order, made late on Tuesday.

But if there is an injunction, the commission will abide by it as the Supreme Court is the highest court and its decisions are final, Mr Flomo added.

 
The Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, showed her anger on Wednesday when she reacted in a very unusual manner at the Council Chambers apparently over her leaked memo to President Muhammadu Buhari.

This happened before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council ( FEC ) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Her angry reaction was witnessed by all those who were in the Council Chambers for the swearing-in of the new Secretary to the Government or the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and the launch of the 2018 armed forces emblem.

 Many Council members were also in the hall for the Federal Executive Council meeting.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari were seen questioning Oyo-Ita, shortly before the commencement of the event which started at 10:55am.

Oyo-Ita, who has never lost her cool in the public, was seen angrily gesticulating while trying to make her point in what was obviously a heated argument with Kyari.

The Head of Service went back to her seat and then rose again and headed straight to Osinbajo, who also engaged her in a tête-a-tete over the issue.

The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, later joined the conversation after which the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation was seen calming the Head of Service.

She was later asked to return to her seat by the Deputy Chief of Staff Femi Ipaye, when it was now obvious all eyes were fixed on them.

The drama, which lasted about 10 minutes, was witnessed by Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Chief of justice of the federation, Walter Onnoghen, the Governor of Adamawa, Jibrila Bindu, All Progressives Congress National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, chief of defence staff, service chiefs, Inspector General of Police and other heads of paramilitary service among others.

A national daily had quoted Oyo-Ita, in the leaked memo, as saying that Buhari was aware of the reinstatement of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.

Oyo-Ita was also quoted to have stated that she had warned the president against the controversial recall of the embattled former pension boss.

President Buhari had ordered last week the immediate disengagement of former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdullahi Abdulrasheed Maina.

Maina was in 2013 recommended for dismissal by the Federal Civil Service Commission following a recommendation by the Office of the Head of Service.

In 2012, Maina was accused of leading a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion.

He was drafted by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2010 to sanitize a corrupt pension system.

A member of the House of Representatives during the Second Republic, Dr Junaid Muhammed, has revealed that the newly appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, is a first cousin to Babachir Lawal.

“Before you begin to celebrate the appointment of Boss Mustapha as the new SGF, do you know that he is in fact, Babachir Lawal’s first cousin? This is a continuation of the cronyism and nepotism the Buhari-led administration has become infamous for,” Muhammed told one of our correspondents.

But even as many Nigerians lament the failure of the President to direct further actions on the sacked officials, the All Progressives Congress has said Buhari’s sacking of the two officials couldn’t have come at a better time than now.

APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said, “Few days ago, when the President directed the dismissal of Abdulrasheed Maina, some people said that was right but what about the suspended SGF, BD Lawal? But we as a party said look, the President is the only person who has all the information. All of us can only have one side of the story or the other.

“But the President by the virtue of the position he occupies is the only one who has all the information and he would do what is necessary at the right time, now we have been vindicated and it shows that the President has not in any way waived his commitment not to tolerate corruption at any level no matter who is involved.”

Similarly, the Arewa Consultative Forum applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for sacking Lawal and Oke. In its reaction to the development, the ACF through the National Publicity Secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, said, “The action taken by President Buhari on the report submitted by the Osinbajo Committee that investigated the suspended SGF and the DG NIA is appropriate and timely.”

The Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita,  has said  President Muhammadu Buhari is aware of the reinstatement of a former Chairman  of the Pension Reforms Commission, Mallam Abdulrasheed Maina, into the civil service.

She however said she warned the President against it.

Oyo-Ita said that her warning was based on the implications such reinstatement would have on the anti-corruption war of the Federal Government.

The HoS stated this in her memo to the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari.

The memo, with reference number HSCSF/HCSF/LU/COR/FCSC/750/T, was dated October 23, 2017.

The memo, titled, “Re: Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina,” was received in the office of the Chief of Staff to the President on October 23.

A copy of the memo was sighted by our correspondent in Abuja on Monday.

The President had directed the HoS to investigate the circumstances that surrounded the return of Maina to the civil service.

He gave the directive following the public outcry that trailed Maina’s reinstatement.

Maina, whose whereabouts is still unknown,  has been accused of embezzling pensioners’ funds running into billions of naira and is currently under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Explaining further, the HoS said she met the President after the Federal Executive Council meeting of Wednesday,  October 11, where she verbally warned Buhari against bringing Maina back to the service.

She, however, did not say what the response of the President was after briefing him.

Oyo-Ita said, “Please, note that the OHCSF was never in agreement with the reinstatement and consequently never conveyed the approval of the FCPC to Mr. A. A. Maina, nor approved his posting to the Ministry of Interior or any other MDA

“Rather, I sought audience with His Excellency, Mr. President on Wednesday, 11th October, 2017 after the FEC meeting where I briefed His Excellency verbally on the wide-ranging implications of the reinstatement of Mr. A. A. Maina, especially the damaging impact on the anti-corruption stance of this administration.”

The letter partly read, “Further to your letter Ref. SH/COS/100/A/1570 dated 23rd October, 2017 on the above subject matter, I write to inform you of the circumstances leading to the irregular recall of Mr. Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina.

“I wrote to place on record the following facts as it permits to Mr. A. A. Maina who was dismissed from service on 21st February, 2013.

“The move to recall Mr. A. A. Maina was at the instance of a series of letters from the Attorney General of the Federation to the Federal Civil Service Commission requesting the commission to give consequential effect to the judgement that voided the warrant of arrest issued against Mr. A. A. Maina which formed the basis for the query and his eventual dismissal.

“The letters herewith attached as Annexes I-III are:

(a)  Ref. HAGF/FFCSC/2017/VOL.1/1 dated 19th January 2017,

(b) Ref. HAGF/FFCSC/2017/VOL.1/ 2 dated 21st February 2017; and

(c)Ref. HAGF/FFCSC/2017/VOL.1/1 dated 27th April 2017.

“The FCSC thereafter requested that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation should advise the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior to consider the AGF’s letter and make appropriate recommendations to the commission and this was so communicated to the Ministry of Interior.

“The Ministry of Interior took the matter to the Senior Staff Committee of the ministry and recommended the reinstatement of Mr. A. A. Maina into the service as Deputy Director.

“The OHCSF forwarded the recommendation to the FCSC which has the constitutional responsibility for appointments, promotion and discipline for further action.

“The FCSC in consideration of the letter from the AGF and the recommendations of the SSC of the Ministry of Interior consequently approved and conveyed the reinstatement of Mr. A. A. Maina with effect from 21st February, 2013 vide letter herewith attached as Annex IV.

“(vi) The letter of reinstatement, as communicated to HCSF Ref. FC. 4029.82/Vol. III/179 dated  18th September, 2017 attached herewith as Annex IV, ostensibly also copied the Ministry of Interior which is the one erroneously used to document Mr. A. A. Maina on a claim that he has resumed work since 28th September, 2017. The Ministry of Interior informed the OHCSF of this development vide letter Ref. MI/1436/II/24 dated 16th October, 2017 from Ministry of Interior stating that Mr. A. A. Maina has resumed with effect from 28th September, 2017 is attached as Annex V.

“Please note that the OHCSF was never in agreement with the reinstatement and consequently never conveyed the approval of the FCSC to Mr. A. A. Maina nor approved his posting to the Ministry of Interior or any other MDA. Rather, I sought audience with His Excellency, Mr. President on Wednesday, 11th October, 2017 after the FEC meeting where I briefed His Excellency verbally on the wide-ranging implications of the reinstatement of Mr. A. A. Maina, especially the damaging impact on the anti-corruption stance of this administration.

“However, I have requested the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, to provide any documentary evidence to support the claim of reinstatement and posting of Mr. A. A. Maina by OHCSF, since after his dismissal.

“The letter to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior is attached as Annex VI. The foregoing is accordingly submitted for your information and further consideration.

“Please accept the assurances of my best regards.”

President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the suspended secretary to the government of the federation Babachir Lawal and the director-general of the National Intelligence Agency Ayo Oke.

Lawal has been replaced by Mr Boss Gida Mustapha, said Buhari’s media adviser Femi Adesina. Until his appointment as SGF, Mustapha was the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).

Adesina did not state if anyone has been appointed to replace Oke.

Both men were suspended in April for their alleged complicit in separate corrupt practices.

A three-man committee comprising Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, National Security Adviser Mohammed Babagana Monguno and Attorney-General and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami was set up by President Buhari to investigate the allegations against the two men.

Lawal was grilled by the Osinbajo-led three-man Presidential panel over the N220 million meant for welfare of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in North-East, while Oke was suspended over the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, over which NIA made a claim.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in 2015 on a promise to tackle corruption, has come under fire since taking office for targeting political opponents.

But the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party has accused him of a witch-hunt, as the overwhelming majority of those arrested and charged are PDP supporters or former ministers.

The Lawal and Oke cases have been seen as a litmus test of his commitment to prosecuting graft, regardless of political allegiances.

Buhari’s deputy, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, submitted a report into the claims in August.

The presidency has recently been embroiled in a scandal involving an indicted civil servant who went on the run after being accused of stealing two billion naira ($5.6 million).

The official managed to avoid arrest and return to Nigeria, where he was reappointed to the civil service. Buhari last week ordered his dismissal and arrest.

The Presidency on Monday said the nation’s security agencies were free to go after the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists.

The statement read, “The President has taken the administrative action. All other actions will be taken by relevant government agencies.

“The position of the President, therefore, is that investigation agencies which have already commenced the investigation of the two officers removed from office will go on with their work of investigation without any interference or hindrance.

“The President who is fully conversant with the provisions of the constitution will not stop the investigation of anyone because he has no such power under our laws. This is a decision of the Supreme Court.

“The President under our laws can, through the Attorney General enter a nolle prosequi to stop an on-going trial. He may upon conviction, order a pardon.

“Beyond these, the president cannot order investigation agencies to not investigate anyone and does not intend to do in this, or any other circumstance.

“Based on his wish and desire for a strict observance of the law, the President expects the EFCC, ICPC and such agencies to proceed with ongoing investigations.

“When and where they have reasonable grounds to charge former or serving officers to court under our laws, they do not require the permission of the President to do so.”

Sunday, 29 October 2017 14:26

KING JOSHUA RULES AGAIN


•Stops brave Takam in 10th round

•Retains Boxing World titles

•Joshua praises opponent

•Takam wants a rematch


ANTHONY JOSHUA stopped a resilient Carlos Takam in the 10th round to successfully defend his IBF and WBA heavyweight world titles in Cardiff.

The Briton made it 20 victories from as many bouts in front of an estimated 78,000 at the Principality Stadium.

Joshua’s nose was cut in the second by the head of Takam, 36, who replaced Kubrat Pulev 12 days before the bout.

Joshua, 28, then cut Takam’s eye in the fourth, but it took until round 10 for the Cameroon-born boxer to be stopped.

Joshua has now cemented his status as the best pound for pound heavyweight boxer on the planet after overpowering a resilient and determined Carlos Takam in front of a brimming Principality Stadium.

Eager to prove the bookmakers wrong who had stacks the odds so heavily against him, Takam started out determined to make a go of the showdown, digging in early on and catching Joshua with a clash of heads. Joshua talking in the ring, he said: “First and foremost, Cardiff thank you for coming out this evening.

“Takam, it was a pleasure. I come to fight, I don’t sit on the edge and make decisions. it was a good fight until the ref stopped it, so I have the utmost respect for Takam.

“I have no interest in what is going on with the officials, that’s not my job. I think people want to see Takam unconscious on the floor, and that’s what I was trying to get to.” Joshua’s gallant challenger Carlos Takam, who is asked whether the referee was right to stop the fight, replied: “No, I don’t think so.

“I don’t know why the referee stopped the match. I respect the champion and the UK fans, they are great fans and I am happy to box here. I don’t know why they stopped it.

“I want a rematch, I make my preparations with 12 days to fight Anthony. I want a rematch, I want to box him again, I want him, he is a great champion.”

After a brief short-out prior to the ring walk the power was back on in the area. Thankfully Joshua was with it as the first bell sounded. He bounded across the ring, perhaps open to stifle the expected early charge. AJ towered over the 6ft 1in Takam, who crouched even lower as if to minimise Joshua’s target further. He hardly threw a punch in the first, though, which Joshua took without landing many of his own.

Joshua, warned by trainer Rob McCracken that Takam possessed knock out power, was taking few risks at the start. But it was the challenger’s head rather his punches which inflicted he first facial damage of the night. Joshua reared away from the impact, which gave him a bloody nose, but then opened up in retaliation.

With just few hours to the all-important showdown between Anthony Joshua and Carlos Takam, the sleepy town of Sagamu has become a beehive of activities as residents trooped out in their numbers to support their son in what they have dubbed a must win encounter.

Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua is defending his heavyweight world title for the fourth time against French- Cameroonian Carlos Takam.

The event, hosted by the Joshua family partnering with Kwese Sports had people of all ages and from all works of life congregate at the Pa Joshua Memorial Hall to see how their illustrious son dismantle  willy Takam.

Sagamu holds a special place for Joshua as the heavyweight champion spent a year schooling within the vicinity during his teenage years. He has often stated that the discipline inculcated in him during his boarding house years in Sagamu made him the tough and successful boxer he has become today.

The heavyweight world champion faces Takam at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday evening as he looks to retain the titles he fought so hard to win against Wladimir Klitschko.

With an anticipated crowd of 80,000 people set to gather in the Welsh capital, Joshua would not be blamed for feeling some nerves.

But judging by his Instagram snap, Joshua has not been struck by any fear ahead of that encounter.

He wrote as a caption to the social media photo: ‘Feeling fight day fresh #stayhungry’.

The Nigerian born British fighter came in at the largest weight of his career, a full stone heavier than Takam, contrary to promoter Eddie Hearn’s predictions.

Joshua commented when asked: ‘I don’t know what’s happened. I’ve been starving myself.

‘I’ve trained hard so maybe it’s the extra running. Maybe I’m filling out naturally as I’m getting older’

He has turned 28, but insisted: ‘I’ve never felt better and fitter in my life. ‘

• Declare War Against Anti-Buhari Ministers, Open Campaign Office
• 50% PDP Members Hijacked Buhari’s Govt, Says Custom Boss

There are strong indications that President Muhammadu Buhari would seek re-election in the 2019 general elections. Yesterday, his supporters, under the aegis of the Buhari Support Organisations (BSO), openly beckoned on him to seek a second term of four years, while opening his campaign office in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The gathering brought together some serving governors, ministers and other appointees, who called themselves “Buharists,” even as they declared war against cabinet members considered to be working against the President’s interest.

In attendance were Governors Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi); Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Simon Lalong (Plateau); Ministers of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Mohammed Bello; Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali; Niger Delta, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani; and Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, as well as Chairman of the occasion, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, among many others.

Head of BSO in the pre-2015 polls and presently Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali, lamented that Buhari’s government has been hijacked by 50 per cent opposition People Democratic Party (PDP) members serving as cabinet members, promising aggrieved supporters that the issue would be looked into.

He said: “When we were there working and jumping on the street and reaching every corner, we were shouting change, change for a better Nigeria. Now, the key word is good governance for Nigerians.

“We must agree that we cannot finish our four years without delivering and leaving something to be remembered for in this country for a long time to come. We have no problem with our President, because he is on course.

“But I must confess here that we have been infused by people who were not part of this journey and these people are the ones that call the shots today. That is why we are derailing.

“If we had the right people who had the vision and have been there in and out, I believe we would not be going the way we are going today. “It is my belief that those of us who have been in the trenches all these years to get good governance will surely be sleeping with belly ache everyday, especially in the recent past.

“Everyday, when you wake up, there is a story that makes you shiver. We cannot, as a people who have fought and committed everything we had to bring this government to being, sit back and allow things to happen the way they are happening.

“At the end of the day, the fingers will point at us, because we were the ones who went to people and urged them to give us their votes. These people that are calling the shots today were not there and when the chips are down, they will disappear and melt within the system. We are the ones that will be asked to account for what happened.

“Are we willing to face Nigerians and tell them that we have failed? I think this is the time for us to come together, create a system that is very robust enough to fight back and take back government in our hands and ensure that we deliver.”

He, however, called on all the support groups to “go back to the study room,” adding: “This is a commission, but it is also the beginning of the fight for good governance. We must get back to the trenches, draw our own battle plan and battle line.

“I enjoin you with that same commitment we had in 2015, I implore you to bear with us and commit yourself to a better future for Nigeria.” Lalong, who reinforced Ali’s assertions, added that some of them who are governors, too, were not carried along when appointments were made.

“Let Mr. President be aware that this is the time to do it, because even as governors, we are also complaining in our various states. We complained in our state that while we are here, sitting down, we hear appointments made and then people start asking, you are the governor, where is this man coming from? But when we turn right and turn left, we don’t know where such man is coming from.

“Many people have complained. I’m sure governors have complained that we should be able to know who and who will protect Mr. President and his administration, so that when you appoint him and you find him guilty or you find him wanting, hold the governor responsible, because in our various states when we established BSO, we also had BSO.

“But today when we turned back and find out that they are not enjoying, it means that something is wrong and that is the wrong we have pointed out and we must be very brave to say it.”

Abubakar, who said he was not part of the BSO at the beginning, but believe in the vision of the President, asked the supporters to continue the support, saying: “It is incumbent on us to support the BSO to succeed.”

Earlier, despite his silence on the issue, a group of lawmakers, under the aegis of Buhari Support Group (BSG), yesterday said the President has what it takes to lead the country beyond 2019.

Addressing State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, leader of the group, Senator Abu Ibrahim, said even though the issue did not form the crux of their meeting, members were poised to mobilise massive support for his re-election in 2019.

He said BSG, which is an umbrella platform of about 180 different support organisations that worked for the party’s victory in 2015, believes in Buhari’s philosophy and capacity to solve the myriad of challenges facing the country, as well as facilitate stability, prosperity and progress. Hence the group has been holding series of meetings and discussing the problems of Nigeria and how to improve the situation in the country.

Also speaking, Senate Leader and member of the group, Ahmed Lawan, expressed satisfaction with the APC-led administration, saying Buhari should be given another opportunity beyond 2019 to complete all that he has started, particularly in the areas of insecurity, anti-corruption and the strive to revitalise the economy.

He said the present administration has achieved a lot in driving the socio-economic development efforts and, therefore, deserves another chance.

A statement by the Presidency later quoted Buhari as expressing satisfaction with the group’s support for his administration.

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