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Monthly Archives: February 2019

BREAKING: Osinbajo meets Kukah, Abdusalami in Aso Villa

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, a former military Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, and other members of the National Peace Committee are currently in a meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, The PUNCH understands.

Our correspondent learnt that the members of the committee ended their meeting with the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, around 8pm and headed to the Presidential Villa where another meeting began with Osinbajo.

The meeting, it was learnt, is aimed at toning down the war of words between the APC and the PDP following the announcement of the result of the Presidential election.

While Atiku has rejected the result describing it as a sham, the APC, most especially its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole,  has been lambasting Atiku, describing him as a sore loser.

The peace committee, it was learnt, was asking both parties to abide by the accord they signed during the build up to the elections.

Kukah, Abdusalami meet Atiku, Obi

former military Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar; the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese,  Matthew Kukah, and other members of the National Peace Committee are currently in a meeting with the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, The PUNCH can report.

Others in the meeting include: Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and Rev. Fr Atta Barkindo of the NPC Secretariat.

Atiku’s running mate, Peter Obi; Senate President Bukola Saraki; PDP Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus; Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; and other PDP leaders were also at the meeting.

The meeting, it was learnt, was convened following Atiku’s decision to go to court to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory.

The meeting, which is holding in Abuja, started around 6pm.

EFCC detains Kwara finance commissioner, accountant general

…as noose tightens on  official corruption

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained the Kwara state Commissioner of Finance and the Accountant General of the State, over investigations into alleged slush funds for 2019 elections.

A top EFCC source disclosed  that the duo are being held at the Ilorin, Kwara state Zonal head office of the anti-graft agency to explain the utilization of over N1 billion fund received from a commercial bank a few days to the election.

It was learnt that the Commissioner of Finance, Nurudeen Banu and the Accountant General of the state, Sulaiman Ishola, are being held to explain why the money was received and how it was disbursed.

The EFCC had been asked by the Kwara Coalition for Good Governance and Accountability (KWARA-CGGA) to probe the over N1billion loan the State Government secured from a bank a few days before the general elections.

The secretary general of the group, Hassan Omoiya said it had intelligence that the state government obtained the loan on 13th February from a first generation bank using the remittance of Kwara State VAT allocation due in February and March 2019 as collateral.

He said, “We urge the EFCC and indeed the Federal Ministry of Finance to determine the appropriateness of utilization of credit facility of N1 billion by Kwara State Government at the twilight of general election.”

Also, “The status of VAT Account as collateral for the credit facility in the absence of prior approval and authorization from Debt Management Office and Federal Ministry of Finance in tandem with extant laws and regulation on granting of loan to State Governments.

“It is our expectation that your investigation will extend to individuals and corporate institutions that participated in the unwholesome act with a view of prosecuting the affected individuals and institutions with attendant cost and penalty.”

Ogun pensioners back APC for guber election

Pensioners in Ogun State on Thursday said they would not mind their ill treatments by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, but however declared to ensure the victory of All Progressive Congress (APC) in the governorship election.

The pensioners under the auspice of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Ogun state chapter, made the call while playing host to the Governorship candidate of APC in Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun during their monthly meeting in Abeokuta.

The Pensioners also called on the APC governorship candidate to embark on a rescue mission towards their plights.

They advised him to avoid the path of Governor Amosun who make promises he would not honour, promising to mobilise and canvass for APC during the governorship election coming up on Saturday March 9th, 2019.

The state chairman of the Union in Ogun State, Comrade Kessington Oduwole urged members to vote massively for the ruling party, stressing that, “he will bring succour to the retires in the State by addressing all our demands”.

“Dapo Abiodun is someone we have known from childhood. His parents are also Pensioners and are well known to us. I want to assure you that all our wants and needs will be met when he becomes the governor. I hereby implore you all to rally round him and mobilise for him during the poll. I am promising you that he will not let us down. By the special grace of God, we shall accompany him to Oke Mosan by May 29th during his swearing-in as governor”.

Earlier, the secretary of the Union, Comrade Bola Lawal added that, failure of the current administration to pay their gratuities since 2013, irregular payment of pensions and entitlements, lack of input in the current government among other anti pensions policies have put majority of their members in a state of hopelessness.

He accused governor Amosun of plunging the State into huge debt and not running a transparent and open door government.

In his own submission, a former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba who accompanied the APC candidate to the event expressed shock that the Pensioners who are classified as senior citizens could be denied their entitlement.

He assured them that that Dapo Abiodun would run a responsible and responsive government when he becomes the governor of the State.

Meanwhile, the APC governorship candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun commended the Pensioners for their rare show of love and support.

He promised them of qualitative governance at all levels if given the opportunity to pilot the affairs of the State.

According to him, “I want to appreciate our fathers and mothers who have worked tirelessly for the service of this State. My parents who were both teachers are also Pensioners.

“The Pensioners are informed electorates that have influence within their communities and i want to express gratitude for their support. As someone from a private sector, my aspiration was borne out of my desire to see our people being provided with quality governance they deserved. I am assuring you that all your demands will be addressed when I become the governor and I promise to run a listening and inclusive government”, he concluded.

Saudi King, Emir of Qatar congratulate Buhari…Russia hails transparent elections

 

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election for a new presidential term.

In a telephone conversation with President Buhari on Thursday, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques wished the Nigerian President success and good health in his second term in office.

The Saudi King extended good wishes of steady progress and prosperity to the government and people of Nigeria.

President Buhari expressed appreciation to the King, affirming his readiness to enhance aspects of cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

Also, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sent a cable of congratulations to President Buhari on his re-election, wishing the Nigerian President success and the Nigerian people further development and progress.

Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexey Shebarshin, also sent a congratulatory message, saying:

”I am honoured to extend my congratulations to you personally, Mr President, and the people of Nigeria on the successful conduct of free, transparent and credible Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23, 2019, that will shape the destiny of this nation for the upcoming four years and beyond.”

While describing the elections as yet another substantial step towards further strengthening of Nigerian democracy, the Russian Ambassador wrote: ” It is my conviction that your decisive victory will pave the way for yet stronger and more prosperous Nigeria that you will be able to deliver on the people’s mandate. ”

The Russian Ambassador expressed the hope that the Nigerian President’s second term in office will be associated with further enhancements of bilateral cooperation and closer contacts between the two countries.

UK Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, said: ”I offer my congratulations to President Buhari on securing a second term as the Nigerian President. The UK is a long-standing friend and partner of Nigeria and the Nigerian people, and a stable and prosperous Nigeria benefits Africa and the world. ”

French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in its congratulatory message said:

”France congratulates President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election on February 23. It will continue to stand by Nigeria and to provide its full support for the implementation of the country’s priorities, especially economic diversification, job creation, counter terrorism and the fight against corruption.”

President Buhari has also received congratulatory messages from Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.

 

Police stop anti-Tinubu rally in Lagos

Policemen have invaded Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, where some political activists are holding a rally ahead of the March 9 governorship election.

Under the Orange Movement, the group converged on Oramiyan Hall in the hotel to strategise on how to stop Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from having his way in the election.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, candidate of the APC in the election, has the backing of Tinubu.

Some critics of the APC leader and members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have alleged that a win for Sanwo-Olu translates into  a fifth term for Tinubu, who served as governor between 1999 and 2007, and influenced the emergence of Babatunde Fashola, who governed the state between 2007 and 2015.

Tinubu also played a key role in the emergence of Akinwunmi Ambode, incumbent governor of Lagos.

The Orange Movement had adopted “O to Ge”, meaning “Enough is Enough”, a crusade which was used to uproot the political structure of Senate President Bukola Saraki in Kwara state.

A member of the movement said on Thursday that the police said the group did not seek permission from the appropriate quarters before organising the rally.

The policemen are mounting strategic positions in and outside of the hotel.

Buhari likely to dissolve cabinet before May 29 – Adesina

Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, says President Muhammadu Buhari will likely dissolve his cabinet before May 29.

After assuming office in 2015, it took Buhari six months to unveil his cabinet and this attracted widespread criticisms.

But speaking on Arise Television on Thursday, Adesina said the president will not spend a long time before choosing his cabinet members.

He said the president had already promised to do so as soon as possible.

When asked if the president would reshuffle his cabinet, Adesina said: “One thing about governance is that the first mandate was for four years.

“That mandate lapses on May 29, and shortly before May 29, the president is likely going to officially dissolve his government. That is the way it is usually done.

“He says thank you to everybody that he has called to work with him and then he dissolves that government officially.

“Then when he is inaugurated for a second time, he now reconstitute a government; he appoints his personal aides, he forms his cabinet, he appoints other people to fill other positions.”

Buhari was declared winner of the presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday.

The president, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), won a second term bid after polling over 15 million votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who secured over 12 million votes in the election.

Trump, Kim summit ends in fiasco

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to reach an agreement on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula at their summit in Vietnam on Thursday, the White House said.

Earlier, both Trump and Kim had expressed hope for progress on improving relations and on the key issue of denuclearisation, in their talks in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.

“The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearisation and economic driven concepts,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

“No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future.”

Trump had been scheduled to hold a “joint agreement signing ceremony” with Kim at the conclusion of their summit talks, according to an earlier White House announcement.

Both leaders left the venue of their talks, the French-colonial-era Metropole hotel, at 1.25 p.m. (0625), without attending a planned lunch together, and returned to their hotels.

News of the change in schedule sent South Korea’s currency lower and knocked regional stock markets.

Earlier Kim and Trump, seated across from each other at a conference table, appeared confident of progress.

“If I’m not willing to do that, I won’t be here right now,” Kim told reporters through an interpreter, when asked if he was ready to give up his nuclear weapons.

Trump, responding to that, said: “That might be the best answer you’ve ever heard.”

Kim did not elaborate on what “denuclearization” would entail, but asked if he was ready to take concrete steps, Kim said they had just been talking about that.

While the United States is demanding North Korea give up all of its nuclear and missile programs, the North wants to see the removal of a U.S. nuclear umbrella for its Asian allies such as South Korea and Japan.

The two leaders’ summit in Singapore in June, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, produced a vague statement in which Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

But there has been little progress since then.

Christian pilgrims board boss arraigned for stealing

The Executive Secretary of the Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Jinga Mayo, has been arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission for embezzling funds meant for the committee members of the Adamawa State Christian Pilgrims Board.

A statement by the spokesperson for the ICPC, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, said Mayo was arraigned before Justice Nathan Musa of the High Court 1 in Yola on three counts bordering on stealing.

He was charged for making a false claim on the sum of N69.2m he received to pay the committee members for the 2016 pilgrimage to Israel.

The ICPC said while Mayo did not pay the money to the committee members, he allegedly returned duly signed payment vouchers and acknowledgement receipts supposedly by each member of the committee.

The commission said the action was contrary to and punishable under Section 16 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

The statement read in part, “The accused was also charged for conferring corrupt advantage upon himself contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and also for making a false statement to an officer of the ICPC contrary to Section 25 (1) (a) and punishable under Section 25 (1) (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

The statement said Mayo pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him by the commission, while the prosecuting lawyer, Anas Kolo, prayed the court to fix a date for the trial.

Mayo’s lawyer, J. E. Owe, informed the court that he had filed an application for bail, which was granted by the court in the sum of N30m with one surety, who must be resident within the court’s jurisdiction.

The court adjourned the case till March 5 and 6, 2019, for the commencement of trial.

Military kills three during Buhari victory celebration

Some soldiers in Yola have killed three persons who were reportedly celebrating the electoral victory of President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in the Numan Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

The youth, who woke up to news of the re-election of Buhari for another term, poured out into the streets of major towns in the state.

However, it is the celebration in the Numan town that went bloody.

This followed an altercation between jubilant Buhari supporters with armed military men stationed near Numan Bridge.

It was gathered that the jubilant youths initially on a peaceful victory procession later became uncontrollable and disorderly as some of them attacked the military personnel who tried to tame their celebration.

The soldiers had allegedly fired warning shots into the air to warn the  crowd which started advancing towards them while hurling stones.

The soldiers were said to have fired shots again, which allegedly hit some persons. Three persons were  reportedly hit, while their corpses were later deposited by the soldiers in the mortuary of Numan General Hospital.

In another part of the state  around Jippu Jam roundabout in Yola, some young people who joined in celebrating  Buhari’s  victory at the polls also reportedly put up a mock ‘coffin’ of Atiku, suggesting his defeat at the polls.

The police in Yola said they were aware of the clash between the soldiers and youths in the Numan area.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Othman Abubakar,  added that the command had, however, yet to get any report.

He said, “There are many reports; but policemen on the ground told us that there were persons that were injured; I cannot confirm any death.”

APC asks Buhari to send soldiers to Ogun for election

The Ogun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress on Wednesday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to send soldiers to the state during the March 9 governorship election.

This, it said, was to avert the alleged plot to attack its governorship candidate, Dapo Abiodun.

It claimed that there were intelligence reports that Abiodun might be attacked on or before the day of the election.

The Publicity Secretary of the caretaker committee of the APC in the state, Tunde Oladunjoye, stated this while speaking with newsmen in Abeokuta, the state capital.

Oladunjoye said despite the deployment of three Commissioners of Police in the state for last week’s presidential and National Assembly elections, there were cases of violence which led to the killing of a policeman.

He predicted that there might be more cases of violence during the governorship election, if soldiers were not deployed in the state.

He said, “We are asking President Muhammadu Buhari, who has said in his acceptance speech that he is going to strengthen the presence of security men, to make sure that soldiers are sent to Ogun state.

“We are not saying they should be at the polling booths, but they should be at strategic places to prevent violence because the intelligence report we have is that attacks would be carried out in the presence of policemen who will not do anything.

“Of course, our governorship candidate is also a prime target, from the report we got this morning.

“When we said the last time, he was going to be attacked, they said it was a lie. We got this report this morning that he is going to be attacked.”

Meanwhile, Oladunjoye has called on the acting Inspector-General of Police,  Mohammed Adamu, to investigate the political violence in the state since the APC’s direct primaries were conducted in October, 2018.

He accused Governor Ibikunle Amosun of being desperate in his bid to install the governorship candidate of the Allied People’s Movement, Adekunle Akinlade.

He said the result of the presidential election in the state had indicated that the APM would fail.

He said, “We are worried by the desperation of the governor in his bid to install his preferred candidate as governor of Ogun State despite the clear signals from Saturday’s elections that, that project is a failed project.

“I also wish to remind you that in the past, our leaders,  including governorship aspirants raised the alarm at various times on security situation in Ogun State.”

Zamfara gov candidate evicts IDPs for voting Buhari

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA in Zamfara State, Sani Shinkafi, on Wednesday confirmed that he has ejected all displaced persons taking shelter in his houses in Shinkafi for voting for the All Progressives Congress in Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Shinkafi confirmed in Gusau at a news conference organized by a coalition of some political parties in the state protesting against the elections.

“I have asked all the IDPs residing in my Shinkafi houses to immediately pack out because they are not serious in life.

“These are people who had to leave their villages due to insecurity caused by a government that could not provide such basic necessity to them, yet they went and sold their votes at the last elections trying to bring back the same gang,” he claimed.

According to him, in spite of earlier advice to the displaced persons “to vote out those who failed them in the past years”, they still did.

He claimed that the Internally Displaced Persons allowed themselves to be bought over during the election by “the people who failed them.”

Shinkafi said the coalition would not support the Resident Electoral Commissioner and all security chiefs in the state to handle the March 9, governorship and state assembly elections.

“This is because we have no confidence in them and their ability to be fair and just to us,” the APGA governorship candidate added.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the coalition is comprised of the PDP, APGA, ACCORD, NRM, APP, ADC, NPP, DPP and YPP.

Dangote is world’s 64th richest

President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has significantly moved up in the world billionaires’ list, as he emerged 64th richest person in the world, with an estimated networth of $16.6 billion, as against his previous ranking of 103rd in the world.

Dangote, who remains the richest man in Africa for the eigth year running, was the only Nigerian on the list of the top 500 billionaires, as released by Bloomberg in its yearly billionaires list.

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon, remains the richest in the world with $136 billion in his kitty, while Bill Gates and Warren Buffett followed as second and third respectively with $98.4 billion and $83 billion on the world billionaires chart, which is dominated by North Americans.

Dangote’s estimated worth in the latest Bloomberg ranking far outstrips an earlier ranking by the Forbes Magazine, another elite publication which placed his fortune at $10.8billion in the 2019 Forbes Africa’s Billionaires’ list released in January, although he retained the rank as the richest African for the eigth consecutive year in the latter ranking.

There are only five Africans on the Bloomberg list of the world’s top 500 billionaires, with Dangote topping the group. The other four Africans included Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa, who was ranked No. 216 with an estimated worth of $7.05 billion; Johann Rupert of South Africa (ranked No. 225 with an estimated worth of $6.92billion) and Natie Kash of South Africa (ranked No. 263 with an estimated worth of $6.10billion). The fifth and last African on the list of 500 HNW individuals was Naguib Sawiris of Egypt, ranked No. 331 with an estimated fortune of $5.12billion.

Buhari hosts presidential campaign council to victory dinner

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday hosted members of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council Situation Room to a victory dinner at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the affected staff, who are mostly volunteers, were led by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.

Those in attendance at the dinner included the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and other presidential aides.

The President had on Feb. 25 during the collation of results of the Feb. 23 presidential and national assembly elections paid a surprise visit to the Situation Room to show appreciation for the work being done by the staff.

President Buhari also visited the Situation Room earlier today (Wednesday), where he delivered his acceptance speech shortly after he was declared winner of the presidential election by INEC.

He thanked the over 15 million Nigerians who voted to re-elect him for another four years in office.

He said: “I also thank the millions of volunteers, self-appointed overseers, canvassers, agents, escorts and sentries who sacrificed so much of their time and resources to ensure the success of these elections.

“I do not have the words adequate to thank them.’’

(NAN)

One shot dead during Buhari’s victory celebration in Lagos

Unknown gunman on Wednesday shot into a crowd celebrating President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in Sabo, Yaba, killing one person, while a police officer was seriously injured by some protesting youths in Okokomaiko, Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeri gathered that the unidentified gunman opened fire on the celebrating crowd at Iwaya area, killing one person on the spot.

Lagos police Spokesman, CSP Chike Oti, who confirmed the incidents, told NANthat the police officer was attacked by some protesting youths on the Lagos–Badagry expressway.

Oti said that policemen, led by the DCO, SP Sunday Oyekanmi, were appealing to the youths as they were causing heavy traffic on the highway.

He said that while the policemen were appealing to the youths to leave the road, the youths attacked them with machetes and sticks during which the DCO was seriously injured and collapsed.

“Many thought the DCO was dead, but the DPO of the station took him to the hospital where he was revived. He is responding to treatment now. He is not dead. The area is calm now as

“The Commissioner of Police in Lagos, CP Zubairu Muazu, has warned that the command will not tolerate any attack of his men who are working to protect lives and property in Lagos,” Oti said.

Oti said the 37 youths arrested for allegedly attacking the policemen at Okokomako were taken to the State CID, Panti for investigation, while detectives were on the trail of the suspect who shot dead one person in Yaba.

On the alleged skirmish on Lagos Island, Oti said there was no crisis between Yoruba and Ibos traders as being spread in the social media.

According to him, some areas boys were having misunderstanding amongst themselves and the police went there to stop them before it degenerates into a full-scale crisis.

“The area is calm, there is patrol everywhere. Members of the public should disregard any rumour of crisis in Lagos Island,” Oti said.

(NAN)

Trump’s lawyer, Cohen says president is a conman, racist

Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen called the US president a conman, a cheat and a racist in explosive congressional testimony on Wednesday, saying he was ashamed of a decade of working for the real estate billionaire.

Trump’s disgraced former fixer was giving evidence as Congress prepares for the final report from a probe into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia — and with the president in Vietnam for a second historic summit with North Korea.

Cohen — who is about to go to jail for three years after admitting financial crimes and lying to Congress — said Trump directed him in an illegal scheme to pay hush money to a porn star, and knew in advance in 2016 that WikiLeaks would publish dirt on Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s denials of both.

He also said Trump directed negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow through the 2016 election campaign even while denying any business ties with the Russians.

Cohen said Trump implicitly directed him to lie about the project, and that White House lawyers “reviewed and edited” his testimony in 2017 when he lied to Congress about the Trump Tower negotiations.

But Cohen, 52, also said he had no direct evidence that Trump or his 2016 campaign colluded with Russians — the central focus of Justice Department and congressional investigations.

Cohen told lawmakers he was “ashamed” of his decade-long role as the president’s personal lawyer and “fixer” for sensitive problems.

“I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat,” Cohen said.

“Today, I am here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump,” he said.

Democratic Chairman Elijah Cummings said Cohen’s testimony was “deeply disturbing, and it should be troubling to all.

“If it is as explosive as it appears to be, I think that it is the beginning of an impeachment process,” Democratic Representative Jackie Speier, another member of the panel, told NPR radio early Wednesday.

Trump, in Hanoi for a second nuclear summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, responded to the early release of the testimony by trying to discredit Cohen.

“Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately),” Trump tweeted.

“He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

– Republican threats –

Cohen appeared drawn as he began his testimony before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, the only open and televised hearing of three scheduled for him this week on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday he spent eight hours behind closed doors at the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s behavior.

On Thursday he will testify in a closed session at the House Intelligence Committee, also investigating Russian election interference, as well as Trump’s business relations with Russians.

Cohen’s testimony was greeted by a hail of counterattacks from Republicans.

Late Tuesday Representative Matt Gaetz, a close Trump ally, tweeted a veiled threat addressed to Cohen.

“Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot,” Gaetz wrote.

Democrats expressed outrage at the tweet, accusing Gaetz of illegal witness intimidation.

– Focus on Trump and Russians –

Addressing a key focus of the federal and congressional investigations into Russian meddling, Cohen said he did not have “direct evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

“But I have my suspicions,” he added.

He said he believes that Trump was informed ahead of time about a meeting between his campaign and a Russian lawyer peddling “dirt” on Trump’s election rival Hillary Clinton.

And he said he was present in mid-2016 when Republican campaign consultant Roger Stone called Trump to inform him that WikiLeaks was about to publish damaging information on Clinton that it got from Russian hackers.

“Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great,’” Cohen said.

On race, Cohen said America has seen Trump woo white supremacists and bigots but that in private “he is even worse.”

“He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States,” Cohen said.

UK statement on re-election of President Buhari in Nigeria

Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, congratulates President Buhari on securing a second term as the Nigerian President

Last night the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria declared President Buhari the winner of the 2019 Presidential elections.

Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, said:

I offer my congratulations to President Buhari on securing a second term as the Nigerian President. The UK is a long-standing friend and partner of Nigeria and the Nigerian people, and a stable and prosperous Nigeria benefits Africa and the world.

The Nigerian people have demonstrated resilience and a commitment to democracy. The result declared by the Nigerian election commission is consistent with the result obtained through the civil society Parallel Vote Tabulation process. Along with our international partners, the UK believes the Nigerian people can have confidence in the result.

However, we also recognise that independent Nigerian voices have expressed concerns about the conduct of the electoral process, in particular logistics and results collation, and reports of intimidation of election officials. We urge any party or individual who wishes to challenge the process to do so peacefully and through the appropriate legal channel and we encourage Nigerian authorities to examine all allegations of wrongdoing carefully, and take the necessary action against individuals found responsible.

My thoughts are also with the families and friends of those who lost their lives in election-related violence. No one should die in the exercise of their democratic rights. We will continue to support Nigeria and its civil society in drawing lessons from these elections and strengthening its democracy.

I didn’t lose… my mandate is waiting for me, Akpabio insists

Godswill Akpabio, former senate minority leader, says he did not lose Saturday’s election despite the declaration of Chris Ekpeyong as winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to results declared by INEC, Ekpeyong polled 118,215 votes ahead of Akpabio who secured 83,158 votes in the Akwa Ibom north-west senatorial district election.

But speaking to  journalists after the certificates of return were presented to President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja, on Wednesday, Akpabio described the outcome of the senatorial election as a temporary setback.

“I won, I won, it is a temporary setback, that is why there are processes,” he said.

“If for instance you feel you were cheated or there was wrong collation, you resort to the court. For me I did not fail, I can’t fail. I believe strongly that there must have been some wrong collation somewhere, so those things will be corrected.

“We have processes in the election; it is from one stage now, we have registration, you have to vote, you have to collate and if there are mistakes anywhere, you go to court and get back your mandate.

“My mandate is solid and waiting for me. You know that I cannot fail election, I cannot fail. Do you expect me to fail? Won’t you love me to be your senator? I can’t fail.”

Akpabio had resigned his position as the senate minority leader and joined the APC with a large number of supporters from the PDP.

The senator is widely respected as one of the most influential politicians in Akwa Ibom and in the south-south region.

Atiku: This is the worst election in Nigeria’s history

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded election, says he is confident of victory at the court.
Atiku vowed to challenge the outcome of the election which he described as “worst” in Nigeria’s democratic history.
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defeated Atiku with over three million votes.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, Atiku said the election witnessed an  “implementation of grant theft of the people’s will.”
He said voter suppression took place in Akwa Ibom which, according to him, recorded 62 percent decrease in number of votes cast when compared to 2015.
He also said while this was the case in Akwa Ibom, a PDP stronghold, “Borno state recorded 82 percent increase in votes cast despite the insecurity in the state.”
“The electoral fruad cannot produce a government of the people for the simple reason that it does not reflect the will of the people,” he added.
“It is for this reason what I reject the result of the election as announced by INEC.”
Atiku added that he was consulting with the party and Nigerians on the next step.
He said the PDP has “the real figures” from the election, adding that “this is the worst election in Nigeria’s democratic regime.”

Don’t challenge Buhari’s election, Agbakoba urges Atiku Abubakar

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN on Wednesday urged the defeated candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), in the just concluded Presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar not to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari’s election at the Election Petition Tribunal.

Rather, Agbakoba wants Atiku to rally young and aspiring Nigerians for the unity of Nigeria. “He (Atiku) can build a new Nigeria movement from the motley of small parties, third force actors, change actors and millions who are desperate for a strong, united Nigeria. There is also a lot of work to be done in both political and electoral reforms. I request former Vice President, AtikuAbubakar to step into the shoes”.

Agbakoba decried how the followers of the leading candidates voted along ethnic lines, saying such is not good for the health of the country.

“The voting pattern for the 2019 Presidential Election shows ethnicity played a significant role in the Election.  President Buhari kept his base in the North while former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar largely held his base in the South.

Both All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) benefited from primordial voting. The excepted zone is the South-west where voting occurred on the basis of issues.

The significance and consequence of the 2019 Presidential Election is huge unless we are able to reverse it. 2023 will follow the pattern of 2019 unless we do something about it. I understand the PDP is aggrieved about the outcome of the Election and alleged massive irregularities.

But I urge former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar not to approach the Election Petition Tribunal.  He might have moved backwards by his loss but he should not lose sight of the legacy and greatness that lies in front of him.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar is in a strong position to take up the mantle of a statesman. He can build a new Nigeria movement from the motley of small parties, third force actors, change actors and millions who are desperate for a strong, united Nigeria. There is also a lot of work to be done in both political and electoral reforms. I request former Vice President, AtikuAbubakar to step into the shoes.

This is not to say I do not recognize the massive irregularities in the 2019 Presidential Election. I can see how tempting it is to take the option of the Election Petition Tribunal but that in my view is not the right decision.

We look forward to a new Nigeria, strong and united; a new Nigeria that will not vote on the basis of ethnic and primordial sentiments.

As I said, I was shocked at the strength of the two parties in holding their respective bases. But the problem was that the basis was simply primordial and not driven by issues. Nigerian politics must appeal to issues and not ethnic or primordial consideration.

This is the biggest danger in the 2019 Presidential Election and we as Nigerians must stand up to redress it.