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Four perish in Ondo road crash

No fewer than four persons were reportedly burnt to death in a road accident that occurred on Benin-Lagos Expressway at Omotoso town in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State on Monday.

According to a source, the bus, with registration number MNY 406 XA, was carrying eight passengers, four of whom died while others sustained injuries.

It was gathered that the Toyota Hiace bus was reportedly coming from Lagos and heading towards Benin.

The source said one of its tyres burst, causing the vehicle to summersault several times before going up in flames killing four of the occupants.

Confirming the incident to our correspondent, the  Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps in the state, Mr. Rotimi Adeleye, said the vehicle’s tyre got damaged before it somersaulted while on motion.

He said, “The accident was as a result of speeding. That is why we are appealing to the drivers to mind their speed while traveling, if the speed was not much, the impact of the accident would not have been much.”

He added that the victims had been taken to a hospital in Ore.

Boko Haram seizes Baga, five other towns in Borno

Boko Haram now controls Nigerian land space as the military has been pushed back from Baga and neighboring villages in the Lake Chad axis of Northern Borno State, North East Nigeria, multiple sources and fleeing residents say.

Sources said there were no more military presence in Baga as they were forced to retreat by the rampaging Boko Haram insurgents who attacked their bases on Wednesday, December 26.

Some of the residents of Baga who fled to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, after last Wednesday’s attack told our correspondents that the insurgents drove into the area in a large convoy and after several hours of gunfire drove the military away.

Abba Masta, one of the fleeing residents of Baga said: “The insurgents, driving in a convoy of more than ten fighter vehicles, used the main road from Kros Kawwa to launch coordinated attacks on the military on Wednesday, December 26.

“They overran the Multinational Joint Task Force ‎Headquarters at the outskirts of Baga, a naval fighting base and a Marine Police base in the area.”

According to him, the first point of call of the insurgents was the heavily fortified base of the multinational forces located at Mile Four (an area outside Baga town). The attack was in the early evening.

He said they met a stiff opposition as the exchange of fire lasted until midnight when the military retreated and the insurgents moved into the base which was in ruins.

Buba Ibrahim, another fleeing resident, said the military returned the next day, Thursday, with fighter jets which bombed the multinational force’s base and killed many insurgents who were still celebrating their perceived victory.

A Nigerian soldier who is with the multinational force, said the bombardment of the Base was to destroy the ammunition so that they won’t be of use to the insurgents.

He confirmed on Monday that the base and the rest of Baga is still in the hands (control) of the insurgents.

The insurgents on Thursday according to the fleeing residents, turned their searchlight on Mile Three, where the Navy had a fighting base, close to the military. They attacked the Navy who put up a stiff resistance but eventually lost control after hours of gun fight. They (Naval officers) were said to have escaped to Monguno.

The insurgents were said to have continued to maraud the area and on Friday, moved to another naval base located about three kilometres north of Baga, an area called Fish Dam on shores of the Lake Chad.

They took over the base after a fierce battle with about 40 naval men fleeing to Kaiga, a riverine community in the Republic of Chad.

The insurgents finally entered Baga town and attacked a marine police station, which fell easily.

Abba Mohammed said they told the already fear-stricken residents of the town that they were not after them but rather the military, security, and members of the armed civilian JTF.

They told us that: “You have a choice to stay or to freely leave the town,” but the majority of us sensing that the military may come back to engage them took the option of leaving.

He said about 2,000 residents trekked 60 kilometres to Monguno through a bush path.

He said some soldiers including the Commander of the Multinational force, some of his troops, and members of the civilian JTF joined them in the journey to Monguno.

He said, “Our knowledge of the terrain was useful to the military to get safe to Monguno.”

He lamented, “As I am talking to you, Boko Haram has seized Baga, Doron-Baga, Kross Kawwa, Bunduran, Kekeno and Kukawa towns of Borno State.”

The attack and perhaps takeover of the town was confirmed in a statement by the military.

The military had in a statement on Sunday said there was an ongoing plan to relocate the residents of Baga.

The military said the planned relocation is to give room for a massive bombardment of the terrorist group and to prevent civilian casualties.

The military revealed the plan in a signed statement by the Deputy Director of Public Relations in charge of the counter-insurgency operations in the North East ( Operation Lafiya Dole), Col. Onyema Nwachukwu.

The statement said: “Operation LAFIYA DOLE troops in conjunction with Borno State Government are working towards relocating the residents of Baga, to safer locations in view of the ongoing military operations in the area.”

The statement, however, said that there was no basis for the people of Bama, Dikwa, and Monguno to vacate their respective communities as there was no immediate threat to them.

It said: It has been observed that some unscrupulous individuals with likely sinister motives within and outside Borno State are trying to create panic and unnecessary humanitarian problems for undisclosed reasons.

“It has come to our attention that these people are plotting to instigate the inhabitants of Bama, Dikwa and Monguno communities to abandon their communities and relocate to Internally Displaced Persons Camps for undisclosed reasons.”

The statement advised: The inhabitants of these towns and the general public to discountenance such calls and remain calm.

It promised that: “Theatre Command, Operation LAFIYA DOLE and other Security Agencies will shed more light on the issue in a Security Council meeting with the Borno State Government, scheduled to hold on Monday 31st December 2018.”

It urged the members of the public to remain calm, stating that “the military is in firm control to guarantee their safety and security.”

The statement, however, warned that any attempt to cause further panic through this false alarm would be viewed very seriously.

The military further revealed on Monday that though there is ongoing military operation in Baga, the Maiduguri-Monguno road remains opened.

Saraki lied! He didn’t donate a dime after Offa robbery – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, minister of information, has asked Senate President Bukola Saraki to stop dancing on the graves of victims of the Offa robbery incident.

Mohammed said this while reacting to a comment credited to Saraki’s aide.

The minister had asked Saraki, who said he donated a sum of N10 million to the victims, not to play politics with the incident.

Thereafter, Yusuph Olaniyonu, media aide to the senate, said Mohammed known to be an “unrestrained and compulsive perjurer” only commented on the incident to score cheap political points.

But the minster said the claim by the senate president that he donated the sum for the care of the robbery victims is false.

“Instead of stopping at that, which in itself constitutes an acceptance of wrong-doing, Dr. Saraki went ahead to hurl insults at me, even when I have been largely restrained in issuing my earlier warning,” Mohammed said.

“Had I not been restrained, I would have gone ahead to divulge what actually transpired. For example, the claim by Dr. Saraki that he donated 10 million Naira to care for the victims of the Offa robbery is patently false.

“He did not! The 10 million he referred to was donated when the Offa market got burnt, and it was made in Ilorin, not Offa. When Dr Saraki visited Offa to commiserate with the community in the aftermath of the robbery, he did not donate a dime! I challenge him to prove me wrong.

“But with politics in the air, the truth becomes the first casualty. Realising that he goofed, Dr. Bukola apparently caused the radio interview in question to be edited to remove the donation reference, and then re-aired. Is it not an irony that the people who engaged in this egregious act of dishonesty are the same ones calling others names?

“The people of Kwara, who are bone-tired of the long years of ‘bolekaja’ governance in the state, are all saying in one voice, ‘O to ge’ (enough is enough), and will soon have the opportunity to express their frustration with their votes.”

In April, not less than 20 persons were killed after armed robbers invaded Offa and raided banks.

Govt shutdown: US embassy halts operations in Lagos, Abuja

The US embassy in Nigeria has announced a closure of its Lagos and Abuja offices due to the ongoing government shutdown in its country.

The closure will affect thousands seeking to apply for, or renew their visas, as their appointments would have to be rescheduled.

In a post on its official Facebook page, the embassy said the both offices would re-open once the shutdown is resolved.

“Due to the current U.S. government shutdown, the American Centers located in the Embassy, Abuja and Consulate General, Lagos are unfortunately closed,” the post read.

“They will re-open once the U.S. government shutdown is resolved. Sorry for any inconvenience to our valued patrons.”

In US politics, a government shutdown occurs when congress fails to appropriate funds for the following fiscal year.

It could also occur when the president refuses to sign legislation for the funding of federal government operations and agencies

The shutdown, the third in the US this year, began on the midnight of December 21.

The government had partially shut down after the White House and congress reached a deadlock on budget funding deal of five billion dollars for the construction of a wall along the US- Mexico border.

Mick Mulvaney, incoming chief of staff of President Donald Trump, said the shutdown may continue till congress convenes on January 3.

“It’s very possible that this shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress,” Mulvaney had told ABC.

Corruption in Military responsible for faltering B’Haram war — Report

Massive corruption among top military chiefs appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari is the reason Nigeria is losing the war against Boko Haram, the Defense and Foreign Affairs has revealed in its Special Analysis released on December 28.

The Defense and Foreign Affairs reports are published by the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) based in the United States of America. ISSA is a Washington-based non-governmental organisation with a worldwide membership of professionals involved in national and international security and strategic policy.

The association, in 1998, took over publication of the Defense and Foreign Affairs publishing and information group, which began in 1972, providing strategic information and analysis to governments worldwide. It also incorporates the Global Information System (GIS), an encrypted on-line intelligence service for governments.

President of ISSA, Gregory Copley, told THISDAY yesterday night that their analyses were not released to the public but to governments the organisation had affiliation with. Investigation shows that not less than 160 countries have some form of affiliation to the organisation’s reports.

Asked specifically if the organisation had any affiliation with Nigeria, Coley, replied, “All I can say is that our report go to all countries we have some form of affiliation with. I will not comment on specific cases.”

The report obtained by THISDAY is damning and blames corruption among higher ups in the military high command for the faltering war against Boko Haram. Extracts from the analysis stated that at present, the Nigerian government had completely and comprehensively lost control of the engagement with Boko Haram and could show no instance when the government presently had tactical, theater, strategic, or information dominance of any aspect of the conflict.
According to the report, the insurgent groups grow stronger, and the government forces grow weaker and more beset by morale collapse.

It said, “It is fair to say that the Nigerian intelligence community itself is no longer sure what groups even comprise ‘Boko Haram’, nor has it addressed the international logistical, ideological, and support aspects contributing to the ongoing viability of the groups.”

The report stated that the leadership of the military, rather than concentrating on how to defeat the insurgents, were preoccupied with how to stop the leakage of information about massive corruption that had taken place on the pretext of fighting Boko Haram.

Excerpts from the report states as follows, “The conflict will almost certainly prove the undoing of the present government of President Muhammadu Buhari at the February 16, 2019, presidential elections.

“Despite this, the only significant engagement which the Nigerian military leadership — up to and including the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. (rtd.) Mohammed Babagana Monguno – seems to prioritise is the fight to stop the leakage of information about massive corruption, running into the equivalent of several billions of dollars, in the purchase by senior military officers of major military capital goods and military consumables, including the troops’ own food.

“The conduct of the war in the North is tied to the corruption in the military, and Buhari — ring-fenced by his own team — is unable to tackle the issue.

“His poor health does not help, but he had always (even as a military president, taking office on December 31, 1983) been indecisive and vindictive.

“This ongoing set of characteristics mean that the coming months will be dramatic, even more than the dying days of the preceding administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

“It is significant that Buhari, who received the findings of the commission as much as a year ago, has refused to allow it to be made public and he, through National Security Adviser Monguno, has attempted to have the commission disband.

“However, it is believed that Monguno and Buhari are aware that copies of the report are beyond their reach and could be released unofficially if further attempts are made to assassinate commission members.

“The commission, investigating defense procurement from 2007 onwards, made significant strides which were initially accepted by the Buhari government, until the scope of the inquiry went beyond the period relating to the former government of Pres. Goodluck Jonathan, and began to show corruption patterns extending into officers still serving under President Buhari.”

The report stated that the death of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal (rtd.) Alex Sabundu Badeh (who became Chief of Defence Staff), and that of a former Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army, Major General Idris Alkali, on September 3, 2018 were not a mere coincidence .

It said, “Given the upsurge in momentum by ‘the highest levels of government’ to stop the findings becoming public from the corruption commission on defense procurement, it is plausible that the attribution of a criminal ‘kidnapping-attempt-gone-wrong’ against the Air Chief Marshal was a convenient excuse to ensure that the victim — Badeh — could not divulge in court the pattern and details of corruption which has grown even more rampant in the current generation of defense leadership.

“On September 3, 2018, the retired Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Idris Alkali, was also killed, ostensibly by a gang of youthful protestors who set up a roadblock near Jos, the capital of Plateau State. His body was discovered on October 31, 2018. And his death was blamed on ‘an irate mob’, who were protesting in the Du-ra-Du community against the September 2, 2018, killing of 11 members of their own community.”

The report further stated, “No significant economic or political progress can be achieved in Nigeria until the issue of the Boko Haram insurgency is resolved. Other insurgencies are also expected to emerge, or re-emerge, particularly in the Niger Delta. And while other pending internal security issues are important, it is on the BH issue that the prestige, credibility, and reliability of Nigeria is assessed by the international community. Thus, all questions of the viability of Nigeria as a candidate for inward foreign direct investment (FDI) and international cooperation are dependent on a resolution of the BH issues.

“Domestically, resolution of the BH issue is a pre-requisite to enabling issues of intra-Nigerian regional equity imbalances to be addressed. Moreover, the credibility of the Federal Government as an arbiter of justice is assessed by the domestic electorate and the world community.

However, the Nigerian Armed Forces have consistently denied any allegation of corruption against the leadership. They have also stated and demonstrated the fact that they are capable of not only stopping the insurgents but rooting them out of the country.

Two days ago, army spokesman, Brig. General Sani Kukasheka Usman, said the nation’s military repelled an attack by the insurgents in Baga, Boro State. According to him, the insurgents on Wednesday, December 26 attacked the 7 Brigade of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), based in Baga, Borno State, about 7pm.

A statement issued by Usman read, “The troops along with their Nigerian Navy counterparts put up a very determined fight to repel the attack throughout the night, while Sector 3 Operation LAFIYA DOLE sent in reinforcement who are in hot pursuit of the terrorists.

“Similarly, a Search and Rescue team has been constituted.

“The Nigerian Air Force component has also been mobilised and are engaging the fleeing terrorists. Unfortunately, a naval personnel was killed in action. So far, no further details of casualties yet as efforts are ongoing to clear the terrorists hiding in Baga and environs.”

Keyamo to Atiku: Produce evidence of corruption against Buhari or keep quiet forever

Festus Keyamo, spokesman of President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, has asked Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to quit peddling allegations against Buhari if he has no evidence.

Keyamo said this in reaction to the demand by Atiku that Buhari’s family be probed over their alleged ownership of substantial shares in Etisalat Nigeria and Keystone Bank.

The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in a statement on Sunday, accused the PDP of spreading fake new, while its candidate “has refused to issue a personal statement up till this minute clarifying in details his record of crass corruption and abuse of office”.

Keyamo said Abubakar is himself, not free from corruption charges, saying he has “sealed indictments” with the US justice department.

According to him, Abubakar would be brought to face charges if he visits the US.

He also alleged that the immediate reason Abubakar is contesting for the presidency is to plunge the nation’s wealth.

He asked the PDP to provide evidence against Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo or “forever keep quiet”

“How do we as a Nation end up with anyone with this sordid record locally and internationally? We have heard the lame defence that the U.S Justice Department said it has no pending case against Atiku Abubakar,” the statement read.

“ That is only a defence for the ignorant ones. In the United States, there are indictments the Justice Department can confirm to the world. But there is another category of indictments known as SEALED INDICTMENTS that the Justice Department cannot confirm to anyone.

“These indictments are sealed under the orders of a Judge. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has a sealed indictment waiting for him in the U.S. The day he visits the US, not as a candidate in an election, he will face charges.

“There is no question that the reasons for Atiku’s frequent contests for the Presidency are to steal the resources of Nigeria for self-enrichment and to prevent prosecution for his crimes of laundering and receiving bribes.

“No amount of fake news or ridiculous false allegations against the President or Vice President that can wash away the well-documented history of theft.”

Read the statement below

A few days ago, the Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, called out President Muhammadu Buhari over certain allegations of “corrupt practices” which the President allegedly condones in his government. Whilst we have repeatedly addressed each and every of the instances cited by him to show the transparent nature of the government, it is shocking that the Presidential candidate of the main opposition has refused to issue a personal statement up till this minute clarifying in details his record of crass corruption and abuse of office. He is clearly taking Nigerians for a ride and hopes to distort the ethical revolution in public office that Nigerians clearly desire to his own philosophy of abusing public office to promote private interests. By his subliminal messages, he wants Nigerians to accept that becoming wealthy by abusing public office is not a bad thing after all.

With the avalanche of fake and unsubstantiated news released in the last few days, it is now clear that PDP’s strategy in the run up to the elections is to spread fake news and make wild allegations without any proof against the President and the Vice President. This is clearly to divert attention from the record of crass corruption and abuse of office of their own candidate. Nigerians cannot and should not be insulted by the PDP after 16 years of looting of the nation, by now putting forward a man whose record of corruption they very much acknowledge, but would rather we all overlook it.

Some of the indisputable facts regarding Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are as follows:

1. The U.S Congress in a report titled, KEEPING FOREIGN CORRUPTION OUT OF THE UNITED STATES: FOUR CASE HISTORIES, featured Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as one of the four notorious cases of money laundering in the world!

2. The Congress report said “Jennifer Douglas Abubakar, a U.S. citizen, is the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President of Nigeria and a former candidate for the Presidency of Nigeria…… from 2000 to 2008, Ms. Douglas helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States, including at least $1.7 million in bribe payments from Siemens AG, a German corporation, and over $38 million from little known offshore corporations, primarily LetsGo Ltd. Inc., Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., and Sima Holding Ltd”.

3. Atiku’s co-conspirators, Williams Jefferson and Siemens in the bribery deal were convicted and Jefferson went to jail. By running for President of Nigeria, Atiku intends to get some immunity from prosecution. Already he is hoping to obtain a visa to visit the US, as a guest of the State department, a concession that the US will grant to a Presidential candidate of Africa’s biggest Nation.

4. Both the BBC and Voice of America reported that “In a probe ordered by Mr. Obasanjo, (then Nigerian President) the vice-president was accused of diverting $125m from a public development trust fund into his personal businesses.”

5. A Senate subcommittee investigating the PTDF indicted Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,having found that he abused his office by aiding and abetting the diversion of public funds in the sum of $145 million” as loans to his friends. This report was a subject of a full-blown investigation by the EFCC which actually recommended his prosecution in a court of law. That report is still pending and alive till today.

How do we as a Nation end up with anyone with this sordid record locally and internationally? We have heard the lamedefence that the U.S Justice Department said it has no pending case against Atiku Abubakar. That is only a defence for the ignorant ones. In the United States, there are indictments the Justice Department can confirm to the world. But there is another category of indictments known as SEALED INDICTMENTS that the Justice Department cannot confirm to anyone. These indictments are sealed under the orders of a Judge. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has a sealed indictment waiting for him in the U.S. The day he visits the U.S, not as a candidate in an election, he will face charges.

There is no question that the reasons for Atiku’s frequent contests for the Presidency are to steal the resources of Nigeria for self-enrichment and to prevent prosecution for his crimes of laundering and receiving bribes. No amount of fake news or ridiculous false allegations against the President or Vice President that can wash away the well-documented history of theft.

We also challenge the PDP to publish a single line in the sub-committee recommendation of the House of Reps on the NEMA Emergency purchases where the report accused the Vice President of embezzlement of funds. They either do this within 24 hours or keep quiet forever. It is even noteworthy that the House of Representatives has not adopted any such recommendation to make it a report of the House.

We also challenge them to show any proof whatsoever of their allegations regarding the TraderMoni.
After three days of publicly announcing that they have hard proof that the President’s relations bought shares in Etisalat and Keystone Bank, the PDP has not produced a single piece of paper, a document of any sort to buttress the grave allegations it made. This is how shameless and callous the Atiku team has become, all in a desperate bid to get their hands on the public purse.

Lastly, we challenge Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the umpteen time to produce his tax receipts for 2015, 2016 and 2017. It is shocking that a man who has not been paying his Personal Income Taxes now says he wants to “get Nigerians working again” – whatever that means. He is only deceiving himself and not the intelligent Nigerians that we know.

Atiku asks Buhari to release probe report on military arms procurement

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of covering up corrupt practices in the Nigerian military.

He also called on the president to release the report of the probe panel that investigated alleged corruption in arms procurement in the military from 2007 to 2015.

Atiku made the call in a statement issued on Sunday by Phrank Shaibu, his special assistant on public communications.

He was speaking in reaction to the recent Boko Haram attacks on the military in Borno state and parts of the Lake Chad Basin.

Atiku told Buhari that the said report could be released unofficially if “further attempts were made to silence members of the committee or those with knowledge of the massive corruption which took place and is still taking in time”.

‘‘There is no gainsaying that Buhari has got his priorities wrong and has acted in a manner that suggests total disregard for human lives,” the statement read.

“Or how else does one explain a situation where citizens, including security agents, are being hacked down daily by the Boko Haram insurgents and all the government is doing is to waste time and resources on an undeserving re-election bid?’’

Atiku said if Buhari had spent half of the resources devoted to his re-election bid on the Boko Haram crisis, “it would have been resolved and hundreds of precious lives would have been saved”.

He also urged him to probe reported “massive” corruption in the purchase of defense equipment and consumables, including the feeding of troops.

Officers at Melaye’s residence won’t leave until he surrenders, Police insists

The police say the officers at the Abuja residence of Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi west, will not leave until he surrenders.

Jimoh Moshood, force public relations officer, said this in a statement Sunday night.

Some police officers have been at Melaye’s residence since Friday in an attempt to arrest him over culpable homicide. The police said the senator’s armed thugs attacked Danjuma Saliu, a police officer, in Kogi state on July 19.

Moshood said the officers have a warrant for his arrest and a letter was written to the national assembly to inform him about their invitation over the matter.

“Senator Dino Melaye is wanted by the police for a case of criminal conspiracy and attempted culpable homicide, committed on 19th July, 2018, when Senator Dino Melaye and his armed thugs attacked police personnel; shot and wounded Sgt. Danjuma Saliu, attached to 37 Police Mobile Force (PMF) on stop and search duty along Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa road in Kogi state,” he said.

“The police operatives with a duly obtained warrant of arrest deployed to arrest senator Dino Melaye in his residence in Abuja will not retreat until Senator Dino Melaye surrenders himself for arrest and investigation.

“It is on record that the police investigators submitted a letter of invitation dated 23rdJuly, 2018, signed by the commissioner of police, Kogi State Police Command addressed to the clerk, national assembly, Abuja, inviting senator Dino Melaye to report on 26th July, 2018 at 1100Hrs at the Kogi State Police Command, CIID, Lokoja to answer to a case of Criminal Conspiracy and Attempted Culpable Homicide against him under investigation in the Kogi state police command.

“The claim by the senate president in the media that the police did not submit a letter of invitation to the clerk of the national assembly is therefore incorrect as can be seen on attached letter with acknowledgment stamp of the Clerk, National Assembly, Abuja ’24 JUL 2018′. Despite this, Senator Dino Melaye bluntly refused to report himself to the police till date.

“For avoidance of doubt, attached to this Press Release are the copies of pictures of the shot police officer, Sgt. Danjuma Saliu, the police invitation letter addressed to the clerk of national assembly, Abuja and the Medical Report from the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, Kogi State, confirming the admission of Sgt. Danjuma Saliu into the Hospital for treatment of the gunshot injury he sustained from the attack by senator Dino Melaye and his armed thugs while on Stop and Search duty along Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa Road in Kogi State on 19th July, 2018.”

Moshood said Saliu is yet to recover from the gunshot injury he sustained during the alleged attack.

Atiku replies Buhari, says ‘you have history of bringing in looted funds’

People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate,  Atiku Abubakar  has rejected allegations of importing suspicions funds, insisting the FG was the controller of such channels.

In a statement on Sunday, the PDP, the main opposition party backed by many others, cited mudslinging and hogh level hypocrisy.

The full statement:

Our attention has been drawn to a statement by President Muhammadu Buhari accusing the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, of planning to smuggle in looted funds into the country just before the February 2019 elections.

This new accusation, like their previous allegations, is another infantile outburst that tells more about the accuser than Atiku Abubakar.

For the avoidance of doubt, history shows that rather than smuggle in looted cash, Waziri Atiku Abubakar has a record of preventing looted funds from being smuggled into Nigeria.

In 1984, it was Atiku Abubakar, as head of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Command of the Nigerian Customs and Excise Department, that stopped the ADC of the then Military Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, from smuggling in 53 suitcases of looted money into the country.
Young Nigerians and Millennials who may not be aware of this incident, will do well to Google it. Only the guilty are afraid. It is President Muhammadu Buhari who has a history of smuggling in looted funds and not Waziri Atiku Abubakar.

In fact, Nasir El-Rufai, a favourite of the President and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, said as follows on October 4, 2010:
“In 1984, Buhari allowed 53 suitcases belonging to his ADC’s father to enter Nigeria unchecked at a time the country was exchanging old currency for new.”
Only recently, Mr. Abubakar’s plane was searched, his accounts have been perused and his businesses have been thoroughly investigated with a fine tooth and nothing remotely corrupt or illegal has been found.

Atiku replies Buhari, says 'you have history of bringing in looted funds'
In desperation, the Buhari administration released this statement to cover their shame on a day that the US based International Strategic Studies Association reported that it is the unprecedented corruption around President Buhari that has led to the recent setbacks in the war on terrorism in the Northeast and the heavy loss of lives amongst the military rank and file. May God save Nigeria from a government that values money over lives.
We, therefore, urge Nigerians to note that it is Muhammadu Buhari who has a history and a record of smuggling in looted funds and it is Waziri Atiku Abubakar who has a history of preventing such from happening.
And while they are at it, we urge them to tell Nigerians those behind Etisalat, now 9Mobile and Keystone Bank, now Polaris and how they suddenly possessed such wealth overnight.

Finally, Nigerians should note that the Buhari administration cannot defend their record on jobs and poverty – the things of most concern to voters- thus, their only resort is slander.

Signed:
Paul Ibe
Media Adviser to HE Atiku Abubakar

Buhari visits the Shagaris, to immortalise late leader

The Federal Government will in due course immortalise the country’s first executive president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who passed away Friday December 28, 2018, aged 93.

This promise was made in Sokoto on Sunday by President Muhammadu Buhari, while paying a condolence visit to the Shagari family.

Wammako, Buhari, Tambuwal, Bala Shagari and Governor Atiku Bagudu

In a letter to the Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, read by the governor at the event, the President stated:

“I received the very sad news of the passing away of Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Tambuwal, Buhari, Gov. Bagudu of Kebbi
Tambuwal, Buhari, Bagudu and Captain Bala Shagari

“This, indeed, is a grievous loss, which will be felt throughout Nigeria, irrespective of any difference. The late Alhaji Shagari was a landmark figure being virtually our last link to the post-independence government of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa , and the first elected Executive President of Nigeria.

“Please convey to his immediate family, the government and the people of Sokoto State my heartfelt condolences on the passing away of this great statesman.

“The Federal Government will in due course institute a suitable memorial to the late former President”.

UN asked to wade into FG, ASUU face off, varsities closure

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project(SERAP) has sent an urgent appeal to two UN special rapporteurs urging them to “prevail upon the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to reach an agreement to end the ongoing strike action by ASUU.

SERAP said the strike continues to have real and dire consequences on the right to higher education, specifically university education, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Nigeria is a state party.”

In the urgent appeal dated 28 December 2018 and signed by SERAP senior legal adviser Bamisope Adeyanju, the organization said: “By failing to prevent and end the ongoing strike action by ASUU, the Nigerian government has defied and breached the explicit requirements of the right to equal access to higher education by Nigerian children and young people, under article 13(2)(c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”

The urgent appeal sent to Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education and Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights argues that: “The failure by the Nigerian government to reach an agreement with ASUU has also implicitly made access to higher education a privilege of the rich and well-to-do rather than a right of every Nigerian child and young person, as students in private schools continue to attend classes while those in public universities stay at home.

According to SERAP, “The failure to end the ongoing strike action by ASUU is also a fundamental breach of the right to higher education without discrimination or exclusion, as strike actions continue to penalise economically disadvantaged parents who have no means or lack the capacity to pay to send their children to private schools.

The urgent appeal read in part: “The obligations of the Nigerian government to create the conditions necessary for the enjoyment of the right to education include to take preventive measures to address the root causes of strike action by ASUU and to take steps to end any strike action in a timely manner when it occurs.”

“It is the responsibility of the government to preserve and strengthen education as a public good and a matter of public interest. Without the urgent intervention of the Special Rapporteurs, the ongoing strike action by ASUU would continue and this would continue to impede access to university education for the poor and marginalized.”

“SERAP is concerned that Nigerian students in public universities have suffered many years of academic disruption as a result of the failure of successive Nigerian governments to address the root causes of strike action by ASUU and to timely reach agreement to end strike action and its devastating consequences on the right to equal and quality higher education.”

“Persistent strike actions in the education sector have continued to cause disruption of classes and undermine both the quality and duration of students’ education.”

“We note that the right to strike is one of the fundamental means available to workers to promote their interests. However, we are seriously concerned that the failure by both the Nigerian government and ASUU to make substantial progress in negotiations and reach amicable settlement to end the unduly prolonged strike action has undermined the right of Nigerian children and young people to higher education.”

“The ongoing strike action by ASUU in Nigeria if not urgently addressed would continue to have grave consequences for the youth of our country as well as the country’s development and progress as a whole.”

“Universal access is an essential prerequisite for the exercise of the right to education. But the failure by the Nigerian government to end the strike action by ASUU has contributed to denying students from disadvantaged backgrounds equal access to university education, as these students are unable or lack the capacity to pay to access private schools.”

“This situation has aggravated existing disparities in access to university education in the country, further marginalizing economically disadvantaged parents and students.”

“SERAP believes that providing Nigerian children and young people equal access to higher education should be the core public service functions of the Nigerian government. Providing public schools ranks at the very apex of the function of a State.”

“SERAP believes that equal access of Nigerian children and young people to quality and uninterrupted education including at the university level would contribute to producing citizens who are fundamentally equal and people who actively participate in society. It would enable people to enjoy the rights as well as fulfil obligations that are associated with citizenship.”

“According to our information, members of ASUU suspended their academic responsibilities in the first week of November 2018, and weeks of negotiations with the Nigerian government since then have yielded no amicable settlement or agreement. ASUU is alleging failure by the Nigerian authorities to implement 2009 agreement and the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding.”

“SERAP notes that article 13(2)(c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights explicitly guarantees the right to higher education, which includes university education. According to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, states parties are required to make higher education including university education available on equal basis, and to ensure the progressive introduction of free education at all levels of education.”

“States parties including Nigeria have obligations to ensure that the liberty of providing education set out in article 13(4) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights does not lead to extreme disparities of educational opportunity for some groups in society.”

“The rights and values enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) all point to the right to the provision of equal access to quality education including at the university level. These rights include human rights, such as the right to equality and the right to human dignity as well as numerous other civil and political rights, such as access to information, which cannot be properly understood or exercised if one is inadequately trained and uneducated.”

Ambode appoints Muri-Okunola as new Head of Service

Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state has approved the appointment of Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola as the state’s 21st Head of Service (HOS).

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Habib Aruna, said Muri-Okunola’s appointment followed the retirement of Mrs Folasade Adesoye on Dec. 27.

According to Aruna, in a statement, Muri-Okunola was the former Executive Secretary, Land Use and Allocation Committee between 2005 and 2011.

Until his appointment, he was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Social Development.

The statement qouted Ambode as thanking the outgoing HOS, Adesoye, for her meritorious service to the state and wished her well in her future endeavours.

Similarly, the governor also appointed six new Permanent Secretaries.

They are Dr Goncalves Fausat; Mr Kosoko Adeyemi; Dr Balogun Sherifat; Mr Adeniji Olufemi; Mrs Adelaja Omobolanle and Dr Lawal Temidayo.

Ambode said, the new HOS and the Permanent Secretaries would be sworn in on Monday at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja. (NAN)

Corpses burnt ‘beyond recognition’ in Anambra mortuary

A fire outbreak erupted at the mortuary section of a general hospital in Anambra state on Saturday, consuming corpses.

The fire was said to have started around 5:40pm at the hospital located at Enugwu-Ukwu in Njikoka local government area of the state.

Relatives, who had deposited remains of their loved ones at the mortuary, were said to have besieged the hospital and could not control their emotions as most of the corpses were burnt beyond recognition.

Haruna Mohammed, state police public relations officer, said the cause of the fire was unknown.

He said the fire had caused extensive damage to the building and the occupants before fire servicemen arrived to quench it.

Mohammed did not give the figure of the affected corpses but said the police had started investigating the incident.

“Police patrol team, led by the Divisional Police Officer in-charge of Nimo Police Division, CSP Benjamin Egu on arrival at the scene, contacted fire Service department, which later put out the fire with the help of local volunteers,” Mohammed said.

“However, the fire caused extensive damage in the building as almost all the corpses at the mortuary were burnt beyond recognition.

“The cause of the fire incident is still unknown but the case is under investigation to ascertain circumstances surrounding the incident.”

Lagos Reps member, Abayomi Ayeola, dies

A member of the House of Representatives representing Ibeju Lekki Federal Constituency of Lagos State, Mr Abayomi Ayeola, is dead.
Ayeola reportedly died at St. Nicholas Hospital in Lagos on Sunday afternoon after a brief illness.
The two-term lawmaker had clinched the ticket of the All Progressives Congress to contest for a third term in the 2019 general elections.
Until his death, he was the leader of the Lagos State caucus in the House.

Leading English Premier League scorers

Leading English Premier League scorers after Sunday’s matches:

13: Aubameyang (Arsenal), Kane (Tottenham), Salah (Liverpool)

10: Hazard (Chelsea)

9: Aguero (Man City), Richarlison (Everton), Sterling (Man City)

8: Anderson (West Ham), Mané (Liverpool), Martial (Man Utd), Mitrovic (Fulham), Murray (Brighton), Sigurdsson (Everton), Wilson (Bournemouth)

7: Ings (Southampton), Lukaku (Man Utd), Pogba (Man Utd), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

6: Jimenez (Wolverhampton), Lacazette (Arsenal), Lucas (Tottenham), Pedro (Chelsea), Pereyra (Watford), Sané (Man City), Shaqiri (Liverpool), Silva (Man City), Vardy (Leicester)

AFP

Again, Pogba scores brace as Man United thrash Bournemouth

Paul Pogba scored twice for the second time in five days as Manchester United’s revival since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho continued unabated with a 4-1 thrashing of Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

A third consecutive victory since Solskjaer took caretaker charge until the end of the season keeps United eight points adrift of Chelsea in the fight for a top-four finish.

Marcus Rashford also shone as the England international’s stunning run and cross teed up Pogba’s opener before he scored United’s third.

Nathan Ake pulled a goal back for Bournemouth just before half-time, but Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to round off the scoring before Eric Bailly was shown a late red card to leave United to finish with 10 men.

The change in mood around United in the 12 days since Mourinho was sacked is palpable, no more so in the performances of Pogba who was discarded from the Portuguese’s starting line-up for his final three league games in charge.

The French World Cup winner played a part in four of United’s five goals at Cardiff last weekend to get Solskjaer off to a flying start before scoring twice against Huddersfield on Boxing Day.

Solskjaer has spoken of his desire to see Pogba break into the box more regularly and he had the simplest of tasks to prod the ball into an empty net after Rashford had bewildered the Bournemouth defence.

Ake and Diego Rico were left beaten by Rashford’s combination of fleet-footed dribbling and pace before his cross perfectly picked out Pogba’s run.

The roles were reversed 10 minutes later when this time Pogba’s header teed up Rashford for a powerful strike that was deflected just behind.

However, in stark contrast to the final days of Mourinho’s tenure, it seemed only a matter of time before United struck again and once more it was Pogba who provided the finish with a bullet header from Ander Herrera’s cross.

Unlike Pogba, Nemanja Matic was one of Mourinho’s most trusted lieutenants but the Serbian has also epitomised the change in tack orchestrated by Solskjaer with the former Chelsea midfielder much more willing to look for a forward rather than sideways pass.

And Matic began the move for United’s third when he picked out Anthony Martial’s run and the Frenchman’s cross with the outside of his boot was turned home by Rashford.

For all the improvements of late, though, Solskjaer is still waiting for a first clean sheet since November as Ake beat Matic to power home David Brooks’s cross.

Rashford should have added to his tally when put clean through by Pogba, but didn’t get enough elevation on his attempted chip over Asmir Begovic before making way for Lukaku 20 minutes from time.

And the Belgian netted almost instantly when he squeezed the ball past Begovic on his weaker right foot from another Pogba pass.

Only the post then denied Pogba a first ever hat-trick when his low strike from the edge of the box came off the woodwork.

But United had to see out the final 11 minutes a man light after Bailly needlessly lunged in on Ryan Fraser to see a straight red card.

 

Air Force neutralises bandits’ hideout in Zamfara

The Nigerian Air Force said the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation DIRAN MIKIYA successfully neutralised bandits hideout at a compound West of Tsamari in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

He explained that the attack was conducted at dawn on December 28, following intelligence reports indicating that the compound was being used by the bandits as a camp from where they launch attacks on innocent civilians.

Accordingly, the ATF detailed a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, which confirmed the presence of bandits armed with high calibre weapons at the location.

“Consequently, an Alpha Jet aircraft was dispatched to strike the compound, recording direct hits on the target area and resulting in significant damage to the structures and neutralisation of some bandits.

“This was later confirmed by credible human intelligence sources,’’ he said.

Daramola said surface troops later invaded the compound and recovered some motorcycles abandoned by the fleeing criminals.

“The ATF working in concert with surface forces and other security agencies, will continue to conduct reconnaissance and air interdiction missions with a view to restoring normalcy to the affected states in the North-West”.

Yari has sidelined me, Zamfara deputy governor cries out

Ibrahim Wakkala, deputy governor of Zamfara state, says Abdul’Aziz Yari, the governor, has sidelined him.

Speaking with reporters in Gusau, the state capital, on Sunday Wakkala said the governor had denied him his rights and privileges .

“For months now,several of the legal funding that are supposed to be made to my office have been stopped and I have been completely sidelined by the state government,” he said.

“This attitude against me started since I indicated interest to run for the governorship of the state on the platform of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“I know that nothing stops me as a citizen from contesting for any elective position, so I want those concerned and responsible for the interpretation and implementation of the constitutional provisions that accorded me rights and privileges to explain to me why I am being treated this way.

“If my crime is my declaration, then what about my supporting staff made up of casual staff, feeding of security personnel, fueling and services of vehicles attached to my office, what have they done to have their allowances stopped.”

Yari by-passed his deputy and handed over control of the state to Sanusi Rikiji, speaker of the state assembly, when he travelled out of the state recently.

Wakkala said up till now, it has not been officially communicated to him that the speaker would be serving as acting governor of the state.

He said it was on the pages of newspapers that he realised that Yari decided to frustrate him because of his political ambition.

“I knew this on the pages of newspapers, the social media and when the state commissioner of information told a journalist that I am treated this way because I belong to the G8 group,” he said.

“My concern at the moment, however, is to see that Zamfara is free from all these security challenges where the killings, kidnappings and animal rustling have taken charge.”

Yusuf Idris, the deputy governor’s spokesman, said “the only reason someone else aside from the deputy governor can act in the governor’s absence is when the deputy governor has been impeached, removed from office by the court”.

“None of these is the case at the moment,” he said.

When contacted, Yari told journalists that “my main concern in the state now is how to tackle the security situation and see our people living without any threat to their lives, businesses or property.

“We can only discuss this issue when we begin to talk politics.”

The APC in the state is factionalised between the governor and his supporters and the G8 made up of eight persons including the deputy governor.

In new UN report, Nigerians narrate how they were raped, tortured in Libya

The United Nations has released a new report detailing the experience of Nigerian migrants subjected to slavery in Libya.

Titled “Desperate and Dangerous: Report on the human rights situation of migrants and refugees in Libya”, the organisation said the report covered  a period of 20 months.

It gave accounts of violations and abuses committed by state officials, armed groups, smugglers and traffickers against migrants and refugees.

Findings were reportedly based on first-hand accounts from Nigerian migrants in Libya, those who had returned to Nigeria, and those who managed to reach Italy.

According to the report, “Nigerian women and girls appear to be vulnerable to trafficking by multinational criminal networks in their countries of origin.

“They embark on their journeys believing office work awaits them in Europe but find themselves in so-called “connection houses” (brothels) in Libya.

“Countless migrants and refugees lost their lives during captivity by smugglers after being shot, tortured to death or simply left to die from starvation or medical neglect.

“Across Libya, unidentified bodies of migrants and refugees bearing gunshot wounds, torture marks and burns are frequently uncovered in rubbish bins, dry river beds, farms and the desert.”

The migrants were quoted as saying women and girls were compelled to engage in sexual acts against their will and were under the “absolute power and control of their captors”.

A 27-year-old Nigerian, held captive in Sabratah, a district in the country, between May and October 2017, described witnessing a migrant being shot by a “drunk guard for no apparent reason”, and another being shot point blank over a disagreement on a SIM card.

Speaking on sexual violence, a Nigerian woman who had returned home in December 2017, was quoted as saying: “To be sold and forced to have sex with Arab or African men either to pay for the journey or to extract your money is a common thing to happen to you as a woman or a girl, all over the journey from day one in the desert until you depart Libya.”

A woman from Nigeria who was said to have arrived Italy in April 2018 recounted being raped consecutively by four men, about three times a week, while held at a site in Sabha, southwestern Libya.

When she arrived in Libya, she was in the early stages of pregnancy and suffered a miscarriage, she believed, as a result of rape.

A 22-year-old Nigerian woman, who was forcibly taken to a “connection house” in Tripoli’s Gergaresh neighbourhood after arriving Libya, said was given a the choice of either paying a “debt” of 24,000 Libyan dinars (about $28,000) to her traffickers or engaging in sexual activities.

She was reportedly forced into the second option for nearly one year until the brothel was raided by a Tripoli-based armed group in early 2017.

She described the brothel as several three-bedroom flats, where an estimated 100 Nigerian women and girls aged between 15 and 22 shared rooms, using a curtain as a partition when engaging with “clients”.

She said the women were never allowed to leave the “connection house” or to make contact with the outside world while they had to endure being raped by up to 20 men a day without contraceptives.

A 19-year-old girl from Nigeria, who was promised a domestic work by her traffickers, but found herself in a “connection house”, was quoted to have said: “At first, I refused to work. But if girls refused to work, they – connection house management and guards – would kill you or rape you and do anything they wanted to you.

“I had to stay there for nearly a year, until I paid my debt of 1.3 million Naira ($3,500).”

A group of Nigerian men, detained at the Zuwara detention centre for two months following interception at sea in January 2018, described being beaten with water pipes and given electric shocks daily.

They also talked about how detainees were locked up in a freezer van used to transport perishable food as punishment.

A group of 16 Nigerian women arrested during house raids in Misrata in late August 2017 recounted being beaten with sticks and water pipes and given electric shocks at a local police station, while being called “whores”.

They were reportedly transferred to Al-Jawiya prison on accusations of prostitution and alcohol consumption.

Tens of thousands of young men and women have been returned from Libya by the federal government since 2017 through the voluntary humanitarian returns programme of the International Organisation for Migration.

Dame Julie Okah-Donli, director-general, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), said at least 13,000 trafficked Nigerians had been rescued by the agency since March 2018.

Yari visits soldiers who survived attack in Zamfara forest

Abdul’aziz Yari, governor of Zamfara state, has visited soldiers who sustained injuries in an ambush by bandits on Saturday.

The soldiers are currently recuperating at the Federal Medical Center, Gusau, capital of Zamfara.

The governor was accompanied by 9Sanusi Rikiji, speaker of the state house of assembly and heads of security agencies in the state.

In a statement, Ibrahim Dosara, spokesman of the governor, said Ahmad Danjuma, a captain, received the governor and his entourage on Sunday.

“The Zamfara State Governor and Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Hon. (Dr)  Abubakar on Sunday 30th December, 2018 has sympathised with the military officer and seven soldiers that were wounded in a recent battle with bandits in Dumburum Forest of Zurmi Local Government Area,” the statement read.

One of the soldiers injured in the attack

“The Governor who was in the Federal Medical Centre Gusau where the affected officer and soldiers are receiving medical treatment, visited them with a view to ascertaining their condition.

“Hon. Abdul’aziz Yari during the visit talked with the officer Captain Ahmad Yusuf Danjuma alongside the seven soldiers and expressed satisfaction with the way they are responding to treatment.

“He reassured his administration’s relentless commitment to the sustainability of security agencies’ welfare and the logistical supports to strengthen them in the fight against banditry and other criminal activities in the state.”

A military source said that the bandits opened fire on soldiers who were on an operation in the forest.

The source said the attackers who had bombs and sophisticated weapons gunned down many soldiers.

The high rate of insecurity in the north-west state has been a source of concern to the government.

Over 3000 people have reportedly been killed in the state in the last two years.