Wednesday, 20 September 2017

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News & Stories (1578)

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Thursday accused President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress (APC) of abandoning him after helping the party to win the 2015 general election.

This came after the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, publicly declared her support for Atiku’s presidential quest in 2019.

The minister said she would support the ex- vice president even if President Buhari decides to seek re-election in 2019.

The foremer Vice President, in an interview on the Voice of America (VOA)’s Hausa Service, said he had been abandoned in spite of his efforts in making sure that the APC defeated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.

Speaking from his home town in Yola, the capital city of Adamawa State after the Eid-El-Kabir festival, Abubakar said: “Honestly speaking, I’m still a member of the APC; I was part of all the processes, including campaigns until success was achieved.

“But sadly, soon after the formation of government; I was side-lined, I have no any relationship with the government, I’ve not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get to where they are but three years down the lane, this is where we are.”

However, he applauded the president on the successes recorded so far in the fight against Boko Haram, but said it was not yet time to celebrate because a lot is yet to be done and “the ruling government had failed in many fronts.

“Yes, there were successes but not comprehensive success because the Boko Haram miscreants are still very active, killing our people and many local government councils in Borno and Yobe are under their firm grip. People cannot dare go back to their dwellings,” he said.

Posted On Thursday, 07 September 2017 23:54 Written by

A Nigerian minister has promised to quit if President Muhammadu Buhari decides to seek re-election, claiming the ailing leader had earlier vowed to serve only one term.

Women’s affairs minister Aisha Alhassan said she would back former vice-president Atiku Abubakar for the presidency at the next election in 2019 rather than the incumbent.

“If today Buhari decides to go for re-election… I will go and kneel before him and tell him, ‘Father, I’m grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve in your cabinet but you know Atiku is my mentor, staying around you will portray me as a hypocrite and I’m not one’, that is if Atiku declares his interest to contest,” she told BBC Hausa radio.

Speculation has been rife in Nigeria about whether Buhari, 74, will stand again, after he has spent much of the year in a London hospital with an undisclosed illness.

The government maintains he is back at work, although he has kept a low profile since returning from the British capital last month.

Buhari has skipped and cancelled weekly cabinet meetings, chairing his first gathering of senior ministers in five months last week.

Alhassan disclosed her allegiance on Wednesday after being asked whether Buhari had told anyone he planned to run in 2019.

She said: “In 2015 prior to the election, when Buhari decided to contest following intense pressure, he declared that he was going to serve one tenure, that is four years.

“And to date no-one can claim Buhari has expressed any desire to stand for re-election in 2019.”

Buhari made Alhassan women’s minister after she narrowly failed to be elected to run the eastern state of Taraba, making her the country’s first female state governor.

Abubakar, whom Buhari beat to be the All Progressives Congress (APC) party’s presidential candidate for 2015, nominated her for the ministerial post.

The former customs service chief, 70, who served as vice-president under former president Olusegun Obasanjo in the 2000s, is widely tipped to try again for the top job.

He has been touring the nation to drum up support but senior APC figures maintain Buhari remains the candidate to beat, should he decide to contest.

Alhassan made no further comment when asked about her remarks by AFP.

Nigerian politics is largely dependent on patronage, with little to separate the main parties other than personalities.

In 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party haemorrhaged support because ex-president Goodluck Jonathan allegedly reneged on an apparent pledge to serve just one term.

A slew of lawmakers switched to Buhari’s APC, ensuring the first opposition win in Nigeria’s history.

AFP

Posted On Thursday, 07 September 2017 23:35 Written by

A 25-year-old undergraduate of the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Imo State, Chioma Pius, who was allegedly tortured by some policemen attached to the Rivers State Police Command, has identified the patrol team behind the attack.

The victim, who spoke with our correspondent on Wednesday, said the matter had also been taken to the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit of the Nigeria Police Force, Abuja.

Our correspondent had reported Pius’ post on Facebook on Wednesday, where she briefly recounted her experience with a four-man patrol team on the Elebrada Junction, in the Emohua area of Rivers State.

She had said the police team accused her of putting on tattoos on her body and assaulted her before locking her up in a mobile cell.

During a chat with PUNCH Metro, she explained that the cops had earlier checked the vehicle particulars and that of the driver of the cab she took and finding no fault, shifted attention to her.

She said, “The incident happened around 1.05pm on Monday. My friend was having her birthday and I left Bayelsa for Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to buy groceries for her. I was in the cab when we were stopped at a checkpoint.

“One of them asked for the driver’s vehicle documents, which he gave them. I was in the car, listening to music. When the officer saw that the papers were complete, he asked me to come down.

“I asked the cab man if he had any problem with them, and he said no. The policeman asked me to identity myself and I told him my name and that I was a professional fashion designer. I told him that I was also a student of a polytechnic. I was wearing a smile on my face. I never knew that people misunderstood smiling for arrogance.

“His boss came towards us and asked if I was resisting arrest. He said I was treating him as if he was too small to talk to me. The boss asked for my identity and I reintroduced myself.

“He said, ‘Oh, you even have a tattoo, and you are resisting arrest. Ok, detain her.’ I was shocked.  I said, ‘Oga, you can’t ask them to detain me for wearing a tattoo.’ He said I was proving stubborn. Before I could turn around, the other policeman had slapped me twice.

“He pushed me towards his boss, who punched me as if he was punching a man like himself. The next thing, they poured water on me and the man went to get a horsewhip and flogged me. The boss used his gun to hit me twice in the thigh. I jumped into the mobile cell. One of them bought a sachet of pure water and poured it on me, shouting ‘Ashawo’.He also spat on me.”

The Imo State indigene explained that the tattoos on her body had been imprinted for more than eight years, adding that while one was a tribute to a deceased sibling, the other represented important memories of her life.

She said when she asked to speak with her fiancé, an Italian, the policemen called her a prostitute, saying she would soon contract HIV.

“The policemen ransacked my handbag and wallet, looking for money.  They later sneered that I didn’t have any money but I had a sharp mouth to question them.

“Three of them beat me up, while the fourth officer was busy extorting money from other motorists, who watched me suffered,” she added.

She explained that the cab driver, who had been threatened with a gun for wanting to interfere, ran to another checkpoint to beg other policemen to mediate.

The policemen were said to have pleaded with the cops to release her, saying she had suffered enough.

“I want justice because I was humiliated publicly and treated like a child. They have probably been doing this to a lot of people, but it must end. I was not indecently dressed to have warranted any harassment. I wore a black jeans and a T-shirt. I don’t dress indecently outside. What if I had worn something transparent? Then I would have lost my life,” she added.

She gave the number plate of the patrol vehicle as NPF 4982C AKU PH, adding that she had already made statements to the PCRRU.

The Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Omoni Nnamdi, did not pick his calls when our correspondent contacted him.

Posted On Thursday, 31 August 2017 03:10 Written by

Governors of the South-East states, on Wednesday, held talks with leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, in Enugu, the Enugu State capital.

The meeting held at the Enugu State Government House.

It was the first time the governors are meeting Kanu, who is championing the pro-Biafran agitation in the South-East and parts of the South-South.

One of our correspondents learnt that issues surrounding the ongoing agitation, including IPOB’s call for a boycott of the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State and the group’s recent establishment of a ‘Biafra Secret Service’, topped the agenda of the meeting.

The meeting had the Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; and the Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, in attendance.

Nkem Okeke, deputy governor of Anambra State, represented Governor Willie Obiano.

Rochas Okorocha and Okezie Ikpeazu of Imo and Abia states respectively were absent and were not represented.

A source at the meeting said both governors were outside the country.

Kanu was accompanied to the meeting by elder statesman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, and founder of the Igbo Youth Movement, Evangelist Elliot Uko.

The PUNCH equally learnt that the governors at the meeting, which held behind closed doors, spoke of the need for an amicable resolution of issues raised by the pro-Biafran activists.

While the governors have maintained that restructuring is the solution to the perceived marginalisation of the Igbo in the country, Kanu and other pro-Biafran agitators are clamouring for outright secession, and the emergence of an independent Biafran nation.

A communique after the meeting, read by Umahi, who is the chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, said the governors noted the concerns raised by the IPOB as well as the secessionists’ demands.

According to the communique, the governors informed Kanu that the demands should not be absolute.

Further meetings are to be held between Kanu and the governors towards an amicable resolution of the issues, according to the communique.

The communiqué read, “The meeting deliberated on the demands of the IPOB and noted its concerns accordingly.

“However, the meeting agreed that these demands by IPOB should not be absolute; rather the South-East governors shall immediately engage the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, and the entire leadership of IPOB in further meetings and dialogue with a view to quickening the resolution of all issues amicably.”

A source at the secretariat of the South-East Governors’ Forum informed The PUNCH that the governors would persuade Kanu to drop the agitation for Biafra and embrace the campaign for restructuring.

Kanu, dressed in Jewish attire, arrived at the Enugu Government House, venue of the meeting, in a white Toyota Venza with the inscription, ‘Eze S. I. Kanu’ on the number plate.

The vehicle apparently belongs to Kanu’s father, Eze S. I. Kanu.

The IPOB leader posed for a group photograph with the governors after the meeting before leaving the government house.

After Kanu’s departure, the governors went into another meeting with a group of Igbo leaders, including the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, and a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo.

IPOB leader’s planned re-arrest politically unwise, Umar tells FG

Meanwhile, a former military Governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Umar (reted.), has cautioned the Federal Government against a possible re-arrest of the IPOB leader on alleged breach of his bail conditions.

Umar, who is also the Chairman of the Movement for Unity and Progress, in a statement on Wednesday in Kaduna, noted that re-arrest of Kanu would be dangerous and politically unwise on the part of the government.

He stated, “Reports in the media indicate that the Federal Government has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the bail granted Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and have him re-arrested. This is both dangerous and politically unwise.

“Mazi Kanu is not a common criminal as the government appears to think. On the contrary, he is a bitter young man fighting for a fairer deal for his Igbo kinsmen.

“His seeming militant approach is the result of the strong arm tactics with which the Federal Government deals with him.  His long incarceration before a court granted him bail testifies to this.

“Like Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, many Igbos genuinely feel marginalised since they belong to the category of those who gave Mr. President only five per cent of their votes and appeared to have fallen out of his favour.”

Umar argued that President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that the unity of Nigeria was a settled issue was a nationalistic wish coming from a veteran of the civil war fought to keep the country as one.

However, he lamented that the President’s view did not take into account the mood of the nation as indicated by the growing agitations for self -determination, restructuring and many other similar demands.

Umar said, “All indications are that Nigeria has become so polarised that it requires a strong personality like General Buhari to sustain its fragile unity. Needless to say that this does not bode well for the survival of the nation.

“Nigeria’s unity can only be guaranteed when all its citizens feel they are getting a fair deal; when all its component parts are treated justly and equitably; when none feels oppressed.”

He said the fact that there were growing agitations for self -determination, restructuring and other similar demands spoke gravely of the way the federation was being governed.

Posted On Thursday, 31 August 2017 02:39 Written by

Gunmen early hours of Sunday broke into the residence of the Principal Special Assistant on Knowledge Economy and Investments to Benue State Governor, Dr Tavershima Adyorororough and killed him.

According to sources, the unknown gunmen around 12.30am on Sunday stormed his residence at Nyinma layout in Makurdi, Benue state capital where they shot at the man and his wife.

The deceased and family were said to have retired to bed when the assailants invaded the house and shot him dead while his wife was rushed to an undisclosed hospital where she is receiving treatment.

The state governor, Samuel Ortom has demanded for the arrest and prosecution of the killer of his aide.

In a press statement issued and signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Terver Akase and made available to our correspondent on Sunday, confirmed that Dr Adyororough was shot and killed by gunmen who invaded his residence.

Governor Ortom described the killing as unacceptable and condemnable, requesting security agencies to swing into action immediately so as to arrest those responsible for the dastardly act.

He described the deceased as a competent and dependable aide who delivered on assignments with dedication and honesty.

He sympathized with the immediate family of the deceased, the government and people of the state on the loss and pledges that he would support security agencies in apprehending the culprits.

He urged those with useful information that can lead to the arrest to make same available.

It will be recalled that the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on security matters was gruesomely murdered in 2016 at his residence along Mobile Barracks, Makurdi.

Efforts to get the reaction of police are not successful as Benue command Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Moses Yamu did not pick the call put across to his line.

Posted On Sunday, 20 August 2017 11:53 Written by

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the return of the country’s president from a months-long medical vacation in London is symbolic for the West African country’s economy.

“The recovery of Mr President, in some senses, is symbolic of the recovery of Nigeria,” Osinbajo said on Saturday.

The president left Nigeria on May 7 for London for the second round of treatment for an undisclosed ailment, transferring power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to lead the most populous African country. 

His absence in Nigeria since May 7 has birthed rounds of protests and calls for him to resume or resign. There is also a growing level of disenchantment with his government which came to power in May 2015 on the wings of promises to reposition the country by fighting corruption, improving security and remodelling the economy.

While appreciable progress has been recorded in the fight against insurgency in northeast Nigeria and corruption, the country’s economy is in the throes of a stubborn recession that has led to the death of many businesses while inflation continues to journey upwards.

But Osinbajo, who stood in for recuperating Buhari, insisted that the country’s economy would rebound, noting that the government is working to “ensure economic recovery.”

“Our country is on the right path,” Osinbajo said, adding that “we are going to make it as a nation.”

Posted On Saturday, 19 August 2017 21:24 Written by

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.

Posted On Wednesday, 16 August 2017 01:31 Written by

Official photos from the presentation ceremony of Ambassador Lilian Onoh at State House Namibia.

Lilian Onoh 1

Lilian Onoh 6

Lilian Onoh 5

Lilian Onoh 4

Lilian Onoh 3

Lilian Onoh 2

Lilian Onoh 1

Courtesy: Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu Facebook page

Posted On Saturday, 12 August 2017 23:01 Written by

Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, on Thursday returned from London, United Kingdom almost one month after joining her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been receiving medical attention in the British capital since May 7.

Mrs. Buhari, who left the country on July 2 had a stopover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before continuing her journey to London on July 4.

The Director of Information to the Wife of the President, Suleiman Haruna, confirmed on Thursday that the President’s wife returned to the country in the early hours of Thursday.

Haruna added that Mrs. Buhari landed in Abuja and thereafter proceeded to Owerri, the Imo State capital, where she attended the annual August Meeting organised by the wife of the state governor.

“Yes. I can confirm that Her Excellency is back. She returned to the country this morning and proceeded to Owerri for a function organised by the state governor’s wife,” he said.

The July 4 trip was the second time Mrs. Buhari visited her ailing husband since he embarked on his second medical vacation of the year.

Haruna had announced the trip in a statement made available to journalists on July 2.

The statement read, “Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, left for London, United Kingdom on Sunday, July 2, 2017, to visit her husband who is on medical vacation.

“She will convey to the President the best wishes of Nigerians and their fervent prayers for his quick recovery.

“She is expected to stop over at Addis Ababa, to make a symbolic appearance at the meeting of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS on Monday, July 3, 2017.

“She will join other members to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the organisation, and use the opportunity to reiterate the voting rights of Nigeria in the upcoming elections of the organisation.

“She will continue her journey to the United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 4, 2017.”

The first time Mrs. Buhari travelled to meet her husband was on May 30.

She returned to the country in the early hours of June 6 after spending one week in London.

The President’s wife, on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja conveyed the President’s appreciation to Nigerians for their constant prayers.

She said Buhari would soon return to join Nigerians as, according to her, he was recuperating fast.

Mrs. Buhari had also called on Nigerians to continue to be strong in the face of challenges and to support the Federal Government in implementing the agenda for which the present administration was elected.

“Mr. President thanked the acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his loyalty and called on Nigerians to continue to support the acting President in his effort to actualise the mandate of the All Progressives Congress,” Mrs. Buhari was further quoted as saying on her arrival during the first trip.

Posted On Friday, 04 August 2017 03:02 Written by

 

People walk on a flooded road at Okokomaiko in Ojo district of Lagos, on May 31, 2017.Image copyrightAFP
Torrential rainfall left many homes, shops and roads flooded in Lagos

Nigerians are facing at least three months of battling against heavy rains that could lead to deadly, destructive flooding.

At the beginning of July, the government warned that 30 of the country's 36 states could be at risk.

Already, 16 states, including the commercial hub Lagos, have been badly affected.

Five years ago, the worst flooding in more than 40 years in Nigeria claimed 431 lives and displaced nearly two million people, according to the country's National Emergency Management Agency (Nema).

BBC Africa's Ishaq Khalid explores the causes and what needs to be done to protect Nigerians from the scourge of floods every year.

How bad is this year's flooding?

The rainy season usually runs from July to September in Nigeria and every year it poses the threat of devastation and destruction across the country, claiming lives and destroying property.

So far this year, several people have been killed across the country and hundreds of residential buildings, cars and other vehicles have been destroyed or submerged under water.

Car in flood
Vehicles are often submerged or swept away by floods

Thirty-seven-year-old tea seller Sa'adu Abubakar, lost his six children and two wives when water poured into their apartment in the city of Suleja, just north of the capital, Abuja.

"I held two of the children but I could not withstand the force of the water. The children slipped out of my hands," he told the BBC's Hausa Service.

"I was just desperately praying to Allah at that moment. When the day broke, we found my family's dead bodies a short distance from our home."

A Flooded street
Fast flowing floodwaters have battered the streets of the central city of Suleja

Another resident of Suleja told the BBC: "The rain started at 23:30 at night, we heard a loud 'boom'. Before I knew it, I was up to my neck in water.

"We couldn't salvage anything... we have to save our lives. My house was well built but the water brought it down.

"We need help. I haven't been able to cook food since yesterday and I'm living on the goodwill of other people."

The tragedy in Suleja has once again highlighted the magnitude of the devastation caused by floods in Nigeria. Yet despite the yearly loss of lives and property, it seems that so far the country has not taken many concrete measures to tackle the disasters.

Which areas are worst affected?

Niger state in the north of the country has the highest number of casualties so far. Officials have confirmed that 15 people have died and many more injured. Other badly affected states are mostly in the south, near to the River Niger. Lagos has also been badly hit.

A taxi motocyclist rides on a flooded road at Okokomaiko in Ojo district of Lagos, on May 31, 2017.Image copyrightAFP
Torrential rainfall left many homes, shops and roads flooded in Lagos

Why is the flooding so bad?

The frequency of the flooding differs across the regions, but the height of the rainy season tends to be from July to September, and it is often a time of anxiety for many communities living in flood-prone areas.

Heavy rains, combined with poor drainage systems and blocked waterways cause rainwater to flow through commercial and residential dwellings.

Town planning expert Aliyu Salisu Barau told the BBC that Nigerian authorities and ordinary citizens are ill-prepared for such disasters.

"Tackling persistent flooding requires long-term planning," he said.

"In most cases the authorities do not make provision to clear drainage systems until it is already rainy season," Mr Barau added.

A sandal vendor pushes his cart through the flooded streets of Maiduguri in north-east Nigeria on July 5, 2017.Image copyrightAFP
Poor road drainage can cause flooding

Nigeria's swelling population could make matters worse.

Its currently home to 180 million people, and a recent UN report estimates that Nigeria will become the third most populous nation in the world by 2050, overtaking the United States.

This could put pressure on land as the need for more housing rises. But it is the lack of proper town planning and the authorities' inability to accommodate these changes which causes most alarm.

Some residents dump rubbish and waste in the streets, putting extra strain on the few existing urban drainage systems and preventing the steady flow of rainwater.

What about dams?

Nigeria's many dams are also seen to be part of the problem.

Used for irrigation and fish-farming activities, some are located close to towns and villages. But observers say these useful water reservoirs are poorly maintained and during the rainy season they can sometimes burst, releasing torrents of water into nearby communities.

This picture taken on August 27, 2011 shows floodwaters coursing through Ibadan, Odo Ona, in Oyo State.Image copyrightAFP
More than 100 people were killed when a dam burst in torrential rain in Oyo State in 2011

The Lagdo dam in neighbouring Cameroon, which is on the Benue river that runs through Nigeria, also poses a danger of heavy flooding in Nigeria when the Cameroonian authorities decide to release the dam's excess water.

To add to the problem, the Nigerian authorities have very few arrangements for evacuating endangered communities - even in the face of imminent flood risks. And when warnings are issued they are rarely heeded by the least well off locals.

What should Nigeria do?

Analysts say something concrete must be done to prevent the high death tolls seen in recent years.

Destruction to property can be reduced by introducing effective town planning, respecting construction rules and regulations, and rooting out corruption in the building certification process.

House damaged by torrential rains
Flooding and heavy rains can destroy peoples' homes

The number of fatalities and the impact on communities could be reduced if the authorities prepared themselves to forcibly evacuate those who are at imminent risk.

Raising public awareness and encouraging people to become more aware of their urban environment are also key.

Unless these practical measures are taken, experts say, floods will continue to destroy lives and property.

Posted On Monday, 31 July 2017 01:11 Written by
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