Wednesday, 20 September 2017

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Gunmen on Wednesday attacked the head office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.

The Spokesman of EFCC, Wilson Uwajaren, said in a statement that the gunmen left a death note for one of the Commission’s top detectives.

He, however, said the attack on the complex was repelled by security guards on duty.

Uwajaren said: “A major security breach was recorded at the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the early hours of Wednesday, August 16, 2017, as unknown gunmen attacked the office located at Wuse Zone 7, Abuja.

“The group of heavily armed bandits invaded the office at about 05.00 hours and began shooting into the premises, damaging vehicles parked in the premises in the process. However, the attack was repelled by guards on duty.

“The hoodlums escaped in a getaway vehicle but not without leaving a message; a white envelope dropped by the fleeing attackers was found to contain a death threat addressed to Ishaku Sharu, a senior investigator with the Commission. Ishaku who heads the foreign exchange malpractices fraud section is in charge of corruption investigation involving several politically exposed persons and retired military brass hats.

“The attack on the zone 7 office which houses the commission’s AMCON desk, procurement fraud and foreign exchange malpractices sections, is coming few weeks after another investigator, Austin Okwor was shot and wounded by unknown assailants in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.”

Uwujaren added that the incident had already been reported to the police for investigation.

Chris Brown has spoken about his assault on ex-girlfriend Rihanna, describing how a violent relationship culminated with him punching her.

The Barbados-born singer was pictured bruised and with a split lip after Brown attacked her in his car in 2009.

In a new documentary, he said Rihanna had been kicking and hitting him during an argument about another woman before he "really hit her" and bit her arm.

He said he felt like a "monster" and the fight would "haunt me forever".

Brown received five years probation and a community service order for the assault.

In the documentary, Chris Brown: Welcome to my Life, he said the relationship started going downhill after he admitted being unfaithful with a former employee, despite previously denying it.

Chris Brown and Rihanna in 2012Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
The couple got back together after the assault but split for good in 2013

After that revelation, Brown said Rihanna "hated" him and their relationship turned increasingly volatile.

"She didn't care, she just didn't trust me after that," he said. "From there, it just went downhill because it would be fights, it would be verbal fights, physical fights as well...

"We were fighting each other. She would hit me, I would hit her. But it never was OK."

'I was in shock'

The infamous 2009 assault happened on the way back from a party where Rihanna spotted the other woman.

She then found a message from her on his phone, which led to them "arguing and arguing and arguing" in the car, he said.

Chris Brown in court in 2014Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Chris Brown appeared in court in 2014 for a probation violation hearing

"I remember she was trying to kick me. It was just her just being upset. But then I really hit her. With a closed fist, like I punched her and it busted her lip. And when I saw it I was in shock. Why the hell did I hit her?

"From there, she just spit in my face, spit blood in my face, so it enraged me even more. It was a real fight in a car."

He said he realised it was a "petty, stupid fight" and pulled over, and Rihanna drove home on her own.

Of the police picture of Rihanna that showed her injuries, he said: "I look back at that picture and I'm like, 'That's not me, bro'. I hate it to this day.

"That's going to haunt me forever."

At least 600 people are still missing following a mudslide and flooding that devastated parts of Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, a spokesman for the president has told the BBC.

President Ernest Bai Koroma earlier pleaded for "urgent support", saying entire communities had been wiped out.

Nearly 400 people are confirmed dead after a mudslide in the Regent area and floods elsewhere in Freetown on Monday.

The Red Cross has warned it is a race against time to find survivors.

A mass burial of victims is planned on Wednesday to free up space in mortuaries.

Presidential spokesman Abdulai Baraytay told the BBC that bodies were still being pulled from the mud and rubble.

"The entire community is now in mourning. Loved ones are still missing, well over 600 people," he said.

 
Sierra Leone mudslides: Rescue and recovery operation in Freetown

The UN said its teams in Sierra Leone had mobilised and were supporting rescue efforts.

"Contingency plans are being put in place to mitigate any potential outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Homes in the hilltop community of Regent were engulfed after part of Sugar Loaf mountain collapsed following heavy rain early on Monday. Many victims were asleep in bed when disaster struck.

President Koroma fought back tears as he toured Regent on Monday and said the devastation was "overwhelming us".

"Entire communities have been wiped out. We need urgent support now," he said.

Map shows the location of the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown

He urged people to stay away from the affected areas.

"This tragedy of great magnitude has once again challenged us to come together, to stand by each other and to help one another," he said.

Flooding is not unusual in Sierra Leone, where unsafe housing in makeshift settlements can be swept away by heavy rains.

The rains often hit areas in and around Freetown, an overcrowded coastal city of more than one million people.

Bill Gates made his largest gift since the turn of the century, giving away Microsoft Corp. shares that accounted for 5 percent of his fortune, the world’s biggest.

The billionaire donated 64 million of the software maker’s shares valued at $4.6 billion on June 6, according to a Securities & Exchange Commissionfiling released Monday. While the recipient of the gift wasn’t specified, Gates has made the majority of his donations to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charity he and his wife use to direct their philanthropic efforts.

It’s the largest gift of Microsoft shares that Gates has made since 2000. The 61-year-old gave away $16 billion worth of Microsoft shares in 1999 and $5.1 billion a year later, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

Spokesmen for Microsoft and Gates didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Historic Giving

Bill and Melinda Gates have given away about $35 billion of stock and cash since 1994, based on the value of the shares at the time of gifts, according to a review of two decades worth of Gates Foundation tax returns, annual reports and regulatory filings. Gates createdthe Giving Pledge in 2010 with billionaire investorWarren Buffett, and the pair have been joined by 168 others who’ve promised to give the majority of their wealth to charity.

Gates has probably directed more than 700 million shares of Microsoft into the foundation, adjusting for stock splits. Those would be worth about $50 billion today had he held onto them. The June gift represents 38 percent of his holdings in the company and is the latest in a long line of Microsoft share disposals that have whittled his stake down from 24 percent in 1996 to 1.3 percent today.

Gates remains the richest person on earth after the donation with a fortune the Bloomberg Billionaires Index values at $86.1 billion. The drop once again puts Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos close to the top spot. Bezos, whose fortune has risen 30 percent since Jan. 1, briefly leapfrogged Gates to become the world’s richest person based on intraday prices last month.

Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has returned home from South Africa after failing to turn herself in to police in Johannesburg to face accusations of assault, officials say.

It was not immediately clear why Mrs Mugabe did not report to police after saying she would do.

A 20-year-old South African woman has accused Mrs Mugabe of hitting her over the head with an extension cord during a row at a hotel on Sunday evening.

Mrs Mugabe has so far not commented.

Zimbabwean government sources confirmed that Mrs Mugabe, wife of President Robert Mugabe, had returned home.

"Yes, she is back in the country. We don't know where this issue of assault charges is coming from," said one senior official quoted by Reuters.

Earlier, South African police said they had been negotiating with Mrs Mugabe's lawyers to get her to hand herself in.

Confusion surrounded the case with officials saying at one point that Mrs Mugabe had handed herself over to police and would appear in court. She did not appear and police sources later said she had agreed to turn herself in but failed to do so.

Gabriella Engels, a model, accused Mrs Mugabe, 52, of hitting her after finding her with her two sons in a hotel room in Sandton, a wealthy suburb north of Johannesburg.

Ms Engels released an image of a head injury online.

Photo posted by Gabriella EngelsImage copyrightGABRIELLA ENGELS
Gabriella Engels says she was beaten with an extension cord

"When Grace entered I had no idea who she was," she told South African broadcaster News24.

"She walked in with an extension cord and just started beating me with it. She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug. Over and over. I had no idea what was going on. I was surprised. I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away.

"There was blood everywhere," she added. "Over my arms, in my hair, everywhere."

She registered a "case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm", police said.


Who is Grace Mugabe?

Grace MugabeImage copyrightAFP
  • Began affair with Robert Mugabe, 41 years her senior, while working as a typist in state house
  • Mr Mugabe later said his first wife Sally, who was terminally ill at the time, knew and approved of the relationship
  • Married Mr Mugabe, her second husband, in 1996 in an extravagant ceremony. They have three children
  • Nicknamed "Gucci Grace" by her critics who accuse her of lavish spending
  • Along with her husband, is subject to EU and US sanctions, including travel bans
  • Praised by supporters for her charitable work and founding of an orphanage
  • Received a PhD in September 2014, a month after being nominated to take over the leadership of the Zanu-PF women's league

Three female suicide bombers have carried out an attack that has killed at least 27 people in north-eastern Nigeria, officials say.

Dozens were injured when the women blew themselves up outside a refugee camp near Maiduguri in Borno state - a stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

There has been an upsurge in violence in the city in recent months.

Boko Haram has been fighting to set up an Islamic state since 2009.

A report published by US anti-terrorist researchers last week said it is the first insurgency in history to use more women suicide bombers than men.

Baba Kura, a member of a vigilante force set up to fight the jihadists, told AFP news agency on Tuesday that the first bomber blew herself up near the camp, triggering panic.

"People were trying to close their shops when two other female bombers triggered their explosives, causing most of the casualties," he said.

Last year, Nigeria's government said that Boko Haram had been defeated.

But correspondents say that the army is failing to stop the attacks, and people have continued to flee their homes in Borno State and poured into camps.

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ABOUT six persons were said to have been feared dead when pro-President Muhammadu Buhari attacked a group known as Our Mumu Don Do led by Charles Oputa, popularly referred to as Charley Boy.

The incident, according to an eyewitness, happened when Charley Boy was about leading other protesters with various placards to Wuse Market in Abuja, on Tuesday, as continuation of their protest calling President Buhari to either resume and continue from where he stopped or resign if his health condition could not cope anymore.

It will be recalled that the protesters under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Organisation began their protest penultimate Monday in Abuja, against the long vacation of President Buhari in London hospital.

Investigations by the Tribune Online however revealed that their decision to stage a protest inside the market, on Tuesday, was rebuffed vehemently by pro-Buhari who had earlier warned the former to go back to Unity Fountain, Maitaima to continue their protest.

Eyewitnesses further stated that one of the executive members of the Wuse Market Association came out to persuade Charley Boy and other protesters to leave with a view to allowing peace to reign, having realised that the youths within the market have been mobilising themselves.

According to one of the witnesses, “the chairman of the market came out to persuade him to go but he insisted that he will protest inside the market and as they were arguing, the pro-Buhari descended on him and his members, destroying his BMW sport car with woods and stones.”

Conflicting reports however said about six persons were feared dead from both parties, while others said four people were killed as different weapons were freely used before the arrival of combined security operatives.

Unformed report further said Charley Boy and four others who sustained serious injuries have been rushed to undisclosed hospital for medical attention.

The market has since been closed down to forestall escalation of the civil unrest.

Lecturers action unnecessary, says Presidency

The Federal Government and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities on Tuesday presented different views on a parley involving both parties over the strike by university teachers.

While the Federal Government said significant steps were taken at the meeting towards the resolution of the issues raised by ASUU, the President of the union, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, said it was a “mere consultation.”

He said, “We have not yet had a formal meeting (with government); we are still making consultation. Don’t worry; I will get back to you when there is information. But there is no information for now.”

But the Director of Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Samuel Olowookere, in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday said the Minister of Labour and Employment,  Senator Chris Ngige, led government to the meeting on behalf of the government.

He said the meeting held took significant steps towards the resolution of the issues raised by ASUU.

Olowookere said the meeting agreed on the forensic audit of N30bn earlier given to ASUU in 2010 and further agreed on monthly remittances to ASUU while the audit lasts.

He said, “The Minister hence wishes to assure members of ASUU, and indeed all Nigerians that government is already at work   to resolve all outstanding issues in line with the resolve of the present administration to cast any form of disruption of universities’ academic calendar into the dustbin of history.  The meeting continues on Thursday August 17, 2017.”

ASUU strike unnecessary, says Presidency

The Presidency on Tuesday described the industrial action declared by ASUU on Monday as “totally unnecessary.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in an interview on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily.

Shehu said the union leaders were aware of the fact that the Muhammadu Buhari administration inherited the agreements based on which the industrial action was declared.

He said they were also aware that the Federal Government had set up a committee on the matter.

The presidential spokesman regretted that while the union leaders were expected to sit down and negotiate with the committee, they resorted to a strike.

He gave an indication that the government might not be able to meet the huge financial obligation the striking university teachers were asking for since the N850bn debt was more than the total allocation to the Ministry of Education in the 2017 Budget which he put at N369bn.

Shehu said, “Governments enter into agreements that they can pay for. Ability to pay is a key requirement in going into agreements.

“Since President Buhari assumed office, he has sent words out there in form of a warning to all government institutions that they should not go into negotiations and agreements that they cannot pay for; but get clearance.

“I understand that they are talking about debts owed their members to the tune of N850bn. If I am correct, the entire appropriation for the Ministry of Education for this year is N369bn. So where do they want us to get the money from?

“We have inherited these agreements and we are not running away from them. Government has set up a committee led by (Dr Wale) Babalakin. They are already sitting. Why didn’t they sit down and negotiate?

“This strike is totally unnecessary. The issues can be resolved, especially where we have full understanding of where we are coming from. The governments that signed those agreements did not deem it fit to implement because the capacity was not there.

“If they are ready, they can sit down and discuss with the committee that has capable and qualified people as members.”

Shehu said the university teachers opted to go on strike because they expected that all their problems should be solved with a wave of hand.

“They want all the problems to go with a wave of the hand. They want all the answers to all their problems at a go. There is an avenue that the government has opened for them for dialogue and it is not closed yet,” the presidential spokesman said.

Poly lecturers threaten sympathy strike

The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics on Tuesday said it supported the strike embarked upon by ASUU.

The union in a statement by its Secretary General, Anderson Ezeibe, noted that the strike was aimed at restoring sanity to Nigerian universities and the education sector.

It also urged government to commence the implementation of agreements entered into with ASUP to forestall an impending crisis in polytechnics.

The union lamented that it had become a norm for government to renege on agreements entered into with trade unions, particularly in the education sector.

It said failure of government to implement agreements   frustrated unions and left them with no choice but to go on strike.

The group said that it was concerned about the consequences of the strike on students, parents and society at large.

It urged government to address the issue of shortfall in personnel releases in federal institutions since December 2015, non-payment of salaries in state polytechnics, non-implementation of Needs Assessment report and non-payment of allowances.

“ASUP notes the renewal of hostilities on the country’s university campuses between ASUU and government of Nigeria.

 “While we are in unconditional solidarity with ASUU in this struggle to restore sanity to Nigerian universities, we are calling on the government to commence without further delay the implementation of agreements entered into with ASUP to forestall an impending crisis in the polytechnic sub-sector.”

Presidency rejects claim that PDP left healthy economy

The Presidency yesterday dismissed former President Goodluck Jonathan’s claim on the state of the economy at the end of his administration in May 2015.

Jonathan said at the weekend that he handed over a healthy economy to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We tamed inflation at a single digit, maintained price stability, and drove the economy to become the largest in Africa”, the ex-president explained.

But the Presidency disagreed, saying the economy President Buhari inherited had crumbled.

In a statement titled “Your Excellency Dr Jonathan, this is the economy you left behind, in case you have forgotten”,  the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said: “With due respects to the former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, these are the facts about the economy you left behind, in case you have forgotten.

“I hope this will help to erase the wrong statement credited to you at your party, the PDP Convention at the Eagle Square last weekend that you handed to President Buhari a robustly healthy economy.

“To the same extent, this should also help to erase yet another false statement by Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, the Caretaker Chairman of the party, to the effect that under the previous administration there was money but now things are very hard.

“Let me start by reasserting an obvious statement, which is that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was handed an economy ravaged by years of mismanagement and corruption.

“It is understandable that Dr Jonathon kept his comments short, because a cursory look at any sector clearly indicated that he and his government presided over the most monumental and tragic economic mismanagement recorded in our national history.

“The oil sector boomed under his tenure, with oil prices as high as US$ 120 and peace in the Niger Delta. Nigeria earned unprecedented dollar revenues. Sadly,that is where the story turns sour. There is nothing to show for the revenues earned, no major capital project was completed,  neither power generation, road development, rail nor agriculture benefited from the windfall earnings. Rather the administration presided over  the diversion of oil revenues on such a massive scale that even without the protection now accorded to Whistle blowers, the   then Central Bank Governor blew not only a whistle but a trumpet.

“He was hurriedly shown the door. Meanwhile, the acquisition by public officers and their cohorts of private jets, luxury yachts and the accumulation of expensive property portfolios world-wide continued unabated. Indeed the President once celebrated having the largest number of private jets, whilst our youth languished without jobs, our fields stood idle and our factories began the lay-off of workers.

“Government simply reticulated oil revenue  through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and  salaries. This was done rather than investing in what would grow the economy. Economies grow due to capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing. Nigeria cannot record a single major infrastructural project in the last 10 years. In short the money was mismanaged.”

“Such was the looting that even the goose that was laying the golden egg was being systematically starved. The direct contractual  costs of oil produced , in the form of cash calls, remained unpaid.  The incoming, President Buhari’s welcome from the oil majors included  demand for US$6Bn owed by Nigeria for oil that had already been sold or stolen,” he said.

Shehu recalled that at the inception of the Buhari administration, 21 States were unable to meet their salary bills and the spectre of workers arrears had begun.

“The PDP solution was the raid of the Ecological Fund and it selectively granted N2Bn each to the PDP states.  It was only aggressive borrowing by the Ministry of Finance under Dr  Okonjo- Iweala that prevented Federal Government from also owing salaries. The economic wisdom of borrowing to pay recurrent bills  is a questionable one, particularly as those paid would have included over 45,000 that have subsequently been removed by the Buhari-led administration as ghost workers.

“It also included the lavish costs of chartering private jets, first class travel   and other wasteful acts that have been eliminated under this administration.

“To compound the problem, the government was borrowing heavily and owed contractors, and international oil companies. When this government took over we had accumulated debt back to the level it was before the Paris Club Debt forgiveness.

“All these factors  were building up to Nigeria heading for a major crisis if the price of oil fell. Nigeria did not have fiscal buffers to withstand an oil shock.

“The oil shock should and could have been foreseen.  When Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, crisis started, it was clear that the United States of America wanted to cut off funds to terror groups by crashing the price of oil. When America granted permission for exploration of oil on land (Shale), the warning signs were evident, but these were ignored by Nigeria’s economic managers,” Shehu said

The spokesman added: “In summary, Nigeria earned a lot of money when oil prices were high but there is nothing to show for it. Now oil prices have fallen we are suffering.

“What could they have done differently? They could have begun doing the very things that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is doing so painfully now:

“Fight corruption, sanitise the huge salary bill  by eliminating payroll fraud, reduce wasteful expenses like first class travel and private jets, encourage state governments to reform their spending and build savings or investments, Increase spending on capital projects, especially on infrastructure needed to make Nigerian businesses competitive, and create jobs, block the leakages that allowed government revenues to be siphoned into private hands, Focus on key sectors  ( apart from oil) that can create jobs and or  generate revenue, such as agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing.”

“If these things had been done when the oil price was as high as US$120 per barrel, Nigeria would not be in the current predicament.”

In Shehu’s view, Nigeria would not have been suffering, if we had cash reserves, power, or a rail system, or good roads, or good housing. “But we don’t have money and we don’t have the projects either.

“Now that the oil has fallen below those levels, it is very difficult to do what is needed but they must be done to save Nigeria. There is no other way if we want to be honest,” he said, adding:

“If PDP were still in power they would have continued deceiving people, by borrowing to fund stealing and wastage and the problem would have simply been postponed for future generations to face.

“One of former President Jonathon’s specific boasts is that dollar under him was N180 compared to today.  With such a line of  argument, it is clear why we are where we are. With oil prices as high as $120, the average inflow of dollars each month was high, making it easy to support cheap dollars. However with oil price plummeting as low as $28, the fundamental laws of supply and demand dictate that the currency would need to adjust, since oil was the sole export.  It is instructive to note that virtually every major oil exporter has witnessed currency adjustments with the fall in oil price.

“The Buhari administration has taken a long term strategic view of supporting a stable naira on both the supply and demand sides. President Buhari has driven Import substitution to reduce demand for dollars to buy things we can produce, thereby creating thousands of rural jobs in rice and other staples. In addition, there is a credible plan to diversify our revenue sources away from oil, with focus on export crops as well as solid minerals, with the release of US$100m fund to develop solid mineral extraction.

“President Muhammdu Buhari has a  positive and prosperous vision for Nigeria. A nation in which  the natural talent and hard work  of the people is  being supported by an enabling environment of  infrastructural development  and policy reforms that will develop a firm future for our nation.  Nigerians are looking forward and the PDP’s lurking in the economic rear view mirror only underscores the resolve of Nigerians, that as far as the economy is concerned it is ‘never again’” Shehu said.

There was drama at the Edo State House of Assembly on Monday when the Speaker of the House, Dr. Justin Okonoboh, was impeached, following an impeachment notice signed by 16 out of the 24 members of the assembly.

Okonoboh was replaced with Mr. Kabiru Adjoto, while Mr. Victor Edoror emerged as his deputy.

The new leadership of the House said Okonoboh; his deputy, Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie; and the House Major Leader, Mr. Foly Ogedengbe, were suspended for three months.

Since its inauguration in June 2015, the Edo State House of Assembly has been led by no fewer than four speakers.

But Ogedengbe rejected the impeachment, describing it as illegal, contending that the House did not form a quorum.

“An illegal impeachment was moved today by a group of 11 people parading themselves to be 16. But they did not have that number.

“The Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly has made a pronouncement on those persons and they stand suspended; so, shall it be,” he added.

When asked if the development was related to an impeachment scare in May, Ogedengbe said, “Yes. Yes, it is.”

The House had only reconvened after 26 days of break for oversight functions when the incident occurred.

It was gathered that at the resumption of plenary on Monday, a member, Emmanuel Agbaje, read a letter on the floor of the House, passing a vote of no confidence in Okonoboh as the Speaker.

The member representing Etsako West II, Mr. Sylvanus Eruaga, was said to have, thereafter, asked Okonoboh to vacate the exalted seat of the Speaker, a development that was said to have led to a free-for-all among some of the lawmakers in the chambers.

Okonoboh was, however, said to have left the seat after much pressure, paving the way for Eruaga to sit as the Speaker pro tempore.

 Efforts by another member of the House, Magnus Igbas, to prevent the removal of Okonoboh was vehemently resisted by some of his colleagues, who descended on him.

It was also learnt that Adjoto was later elected as the new Speaker, after he was nominated by Eruaga.

Staff members of the Assembly were locked out while the impeachment proceedings lasted.

There was also a heavy presence of security operatives with several police Hilux vans around the premises, so as to prevent further breakdown of law and order.

Addressing journalists, Adjoto said that the decision to effect a change in the leadership of the House became necessary following the alleged incompetence of Okonoboh.

The new Speaker accused his predecessor of desecrating the state parliament by running the House as a private affair.

But Okonoboh declined comments on the matter as he was led by his aides and security details into a waiting vehicle that sped off immediately at about 11.56am.

However, Adjoto explained, “But we discovered that for selfish reasons, the ex-Speaker would adjourn proceedings in the House, either because his wife was marking her birthday or his son was graduating from the Covenant University or the son is going to the NYSC camp and he wants to throw a party for his son. Between June and July, we have worked for just three weeks; he adjourned the House for more than six weeks.

“Today (Monday) is August 14, and we are just resuming. Then, the House is expected to adjourn again next week for another four weeks for the normal holiday. Is that a normal parliament? All of us came together and said, ‘Enough is enough.’

“The institution deserves to be protected above the interest of an individual. The ex-Speaker’s wife, like I said earlier, has turned herself into the 25th member of the House of Assembly to the extent that anything we discussed at the executive session, the wife would hear and start calling our wives to tell them what was discussed.

“The wife uses the Speaker’s convoy as if she is Mr. Speaker and at random. The other day, the wife and the son took the convoy to the NYSC camp. When the soldiers and policemen there saw that it was coming, they all stood, hoping that they would see Mr. Speaker, only to see the wife and the son coming out of the vehicle. That is desecration of the parliament.”

Adjoto, who also accused Okonoboh of flouting due process by allegedly awarding contracts to himself, noted that the three-month suspension of the affected members would subsist to enable a committee chaired by Edoror to investigate their conduct.

He added, “Mr. Speaker is not supposed to be a contractor at all. But we discovered that he awards contracts to himself without due process. We have cautioned him several times but he refused to listen to our advice.

 “He just came back from the United States of America where he claimed he visited eight states. He was telling us, joyfully, how he toured America, whereas, he shut down the House. We are not supposed to go on holidays, but because you were going to America to have a party for your son that graduated, you shut down the House, stopping us from working for Edo people.”

Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has held a peace meeting with warring members of the state House of Assembly over Okonoboh’s impeachment.

Present at the closed-door meeting, which was held at the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress on Airport Road in Benin, were the Deputy Governor, Mr. Philip Shaibu; the state Chairman of the APC, Mr. Anselm Ojezua; and other chieftains of the party.

Although Obaseki did not grant any interview after the meeting which lasted for about two hours and ended at about 5.35pm, the state chairman of the APC told journalists that consultations were still ongoing.

Ojezua said that deliberations on what transpired at the House of Assembly were still on, adding that the resolution would be made public at the appropriate time.

“Let me just say that we have started talking and hope that we can resolve the issue very soon,” he stated.

 When asked if the change of leadership in the House of Assembly would remain, the APC Chairman said, “I said we are discussing. When we resolve, we will make a statement. When we finish, we will address the press.”

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