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Daily Archives: February 4, 2019

Lagos demand return of historical sculpture from British Museum

The Lagos State government has made a formal request to the British Museum in London for the return of the ‘Lander Stool’, an extremely important sculptural wood carving believed to have been taken from Nigeria in 1830.

Steve Ayorinde, the state’’s  Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, made this request on behalf of governor Akinwunmi Ambode at the just concluded symposium on Emerging Museums Project

“The Lander Stool is a material representation of the earliest contacts between Britain and the Yoruba. It is highly appropriate that it should be displayed in this new heritage space that the Lagos State Government has made possible,” Dr. Will Rea of the University of Leeds.

Prof. Rowland Abiodun, a prominent Nigerian academic at Amherst College in the US also described the Stool as “highly significant in the colonial story”.

The Stool is currently in storage in the British Museum. It was taken by one of the earliest known British explorers in Africa, Richard Lander, who was instrumental in pioneering colonisation of Nigeria.

When returned the Stool will be the centerpiece to the opening exhibition planned for the new cultural facility in Onikan, the John K. Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, 85% complete and to be opened to the public before May 2019.

Richard Lander was a celebrated figure in the UK and received the Royal Geographical Society Founder’s Medal in 1832, but died of a musket ball wound, after he was shot by inhabitants defending their territory during his final trip through the South-West region.

There is a Lander Street — apparently named after Mr Lander — in the historic slavery town of Badagry on the western tip of Lagos.

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, who also attended the event, announced the intention of his government to formally seek the return of some Benin Bronze artefacts from various British museums once its new Royal Museum project is completed.

Both Lagos and Edo States were joined at the colloquium by Ghana to outline plans for their various new museum projects.

The J.K Randle Centre, says Ayorinde, is not just a world-class cultural institution but one “that will enable the Yoruba people to reclaim their heritage from a colonial narrative, and present for the first time a high standard cultural and resource centre for millions of people in the state.”

The Centre, he adds, will be a befitting and conducive gallery space that can host on a permanent basis some of the Nigerian artefacts expected to be returned from Europe and America.  

Pope, Grand Imam sign historic pledge of fraternity in UAE

The pope and the grand imam of Al-Azhar have signed a historic declaration of fraternity, calling for peace between nations, religions and races, in front of a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths.

Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s Catholics, and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious seat of learning, arrived at the ceremony in Abu Dhabi hand-in-hand in a symbol of interfaith brotherhood.

The document pledges that Al-Azhar and the Vatican will work together to fight extremism. Claiming to be in the name of “all victims of wars, persecution and injustice”, it warns against a “third world war being fought piecemeal”.

It says: “We resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood.”

In the first ever papal visit to the Arabian peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, the pope specifically called for an end to wars in the Middle East, naming Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya. All religious leaders had a “duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word war”, he said in a 26-minute address.

The UAE is part of the Saudi-led military coalition engaged in the war in Yemen. On Sunday, before leaving Rome for Abu Dhabi, Francis said he was following the situation in Yemen “with great concern”, and that the population was “exhausted by the lengthy conflict, and a great many children are suffering from hunger”.

In his speech on Monday evening – his first public comments during the three-day trip – he welcomed “the opportunity to come here as a believer for peace … We are here to desire peace, we are here to promote peace, to be instruments of peace.”

Violence, extremism or fanaticism could never be justified in the name of religion, he said. He also called for religious freedom “not limited only to freedom of worship”, justice and for religions to “stand on the side of the poor”.

Sheikh Tayeb, who addressed the pope as “my dear brother”, said millions of Muslims had paid the price for the actions of “a handful of criminals” following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

FG revokes 4,176 mining titles

The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development said it revoked 4,176 mining titles between 2011 and 2018.

The Ministry disclosed this in a report made available in Abuja.

It said that 908 mining titles were revoked in 2011, none was revoked in 2012, 548 were revoked in 2013 and 250 in 2014.

The report said no title was revoked in 2015, while 941 titles were revoked in 2016, none was revoked in 2017 and 1,529 were revoked in 2018.

The report said that revocation of the titles were as a result of failure on the part of licensees to meet up with the required obligations as stipulated in the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 and the Regulation, 2011.

It said that the justification and major benefits that the government derived from the exercise include the removal of dormant and unused titles in the Mining Cadestre Office (MCO) mineral titles database.

According to the report, the revocation has helped to reduce to the barest minimum the level of speculation and discouragement in the sector.

The report said it also helped to ensure only genuine investors had access to the minefield among others.

Wike in trouble over alleged forgery of birth certificate

The Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo has adjourned until Feb. 6, the hearing of the substantive suit seeking to disqualify Governor Nyesom Wike from contesting the Rivers state governorship election.

The plaintiff, Elvis Chinda, in a suit marked FHC / ABJ / CS /1430/3018 filed on November 26, 2018 prayed for an order to disqualify Wike from contesting the election scheduled for March this year

Chinda is seeking the disqualification of Wike for alleged forgery of certificate of birth which he presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for his clearance.

According to the suit, Wike has violated the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

According to Tribune, Justice Ekwo last Friday adjourned the hearing of the substantive suit after plaintiff’s counsel, Mr Achinike William-Wobodo, informed the court that INEC, who filed some processes was not represented in Court.

Chief F. O. Orbih, counsel to Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had urged the court to take his preliminary objection challenging the suit, but, plaintiff counsel opposed the submissions on the ground that the application was not ripe for hearing.

According to the document in Court, Wike had forged his certificate of birth and lied to INEC to secure his nomination as the governorship candidate of the PDP for the forthcoming election in Rivers State.

He further averred that Wike certificate of birth (Statutory Declaration of Age) attached to his Form C.F.001 presented to INEC, purportedly deposed to on the 3rd October 1986 by one Collins Nyeme Wike had claimed that Nyesom Wike, at the time of deposition is a native of Rumuepirikom in Obio / Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State and that the said certificate was forged.

“That as at 3rd October 1986 there was no local Government Area known as Obio /Akpor Local Government Area in existence in Rivers State as at 1986,

“Rumuepirikom was not in Obio /Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, but in Port Harcourt Local Government Area of Rivers State being the parent LGA from where Obio /Akpor Local Government Area was carved out”.

He said that Obio /Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State was created in 1989 by Decree No 12 of 1989, two years after the alleged forgery was committed and that the certificate of birth (Statutory Declaration of Age) was purported sworn to and issued at the High/Magistrate’s Court Registry, Port Harcourt but allegedly bears stamp of the Judiciary Probate Registry, Port Harcourt.

CBN denies manipulation of foreign exchange market

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday denied involvement in foreign exchange manipulation as alleged in one of the national dailies.

The bank’s Director, Corporate Communications of the CBN, Mr Issac Okorafor made the denial on its Website.

The regulator noted that the story by BusinessDay Newspaper titled, “Exposed The Sleazy Face of N306/$1, inside Nigeria’s racket where faceless agents pocket over N32bn annually” was unfounded and untrue.

It therefore, challenged the BusinessDay Newspaper to provide the names of agents involved, and also verifiable evidence of collusion.

The CBN said: “The management of the CBN wishes to react to the report wherein BusinessDay Newspaper alleges that faceless agents in Nigeria are exploiting the country’s multiple exchange rates to devastating effects and allegedly with the backing of regulators.

“The CBN wishes to state unequivocally that this report is unfounded and untrue and challenges BusinessDay to provide the names and also verifiable evidence of collusion between these faceless agents and officials of the CBN, who are working to perpetuate these so called Forex (Fx) racket schemes.

“We would also urge the management of BusinessDay to contact the CBN prior to making such spurious allegations, as we were denied the benefit of responding to this article.

“The CBN wishes to remind BusinessDay, as most financial observers have noted, that the Fx rates across various markets governed and regulated by the CBN have been converging, leaving no room for arbitrage opportunities in Nigeria’s Fx market.

“For avoidance of doubt, the CBN will continue to act in the best interest of Nigeria and shall ensure it remains focused on its core mandate of sustaining the stability in the Fx market.”

Even if witches and wizards endorse Atiku, he won’t win, says Femi Adesina

Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, says Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), will not win the election even if witches and wizards endorse him.

Adesina said this in reaction to the endorsement of Abubakar by five socio-cultural groups in the country.

Writing via his Twitter handle on Monday, he said President Muhammadu Buhari’s opponents will fail during the elections, no matter whose endorsement they get.

“NEF, PANDEF, Afenifere, others endorse Atiku. Let witches and wizards also endorse, if they like. The harder they come, the harder they fail. No beating the Nigerian people,” he tweeted.

Femi Adesina

@FemAdesina

NEF, PANDEF, Afenifere, others endorse Atiku. Let witches and wizards also endorse, if they like. The harder they come, the harder they fall. No beating the Nigerian people.

566 people are talking about this

On Sunday, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and Middle Belt Forum (MBF) had adopted Abubakar, saying he had shown that he would restructure the country if given the mandate.

But the Buhari campaign had described the endorsement as a deception, alleging that it was engineered and carried out by PDP supporters and sympathisers.

In a statement, Festus Keyamo had said the PDP candidate and the people supporting him are “attracted to themselves” because of their self interest and what they would benefit from one another.

“As regards the endorsements by the socio-cultural groups, there is no fraud bigger than that of known PDP members and/or hardened PDP sympathizers wearing the apparel of socio-cultural groups, purporting to represent entire regions and endorsing their own political party,” the statement read.

“Their excuse that they are supporting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar because of the bogey called ‘restructuring’ is nothing but a subterfuge. In any case, Ohaneze had said in its earlier release that the first reason they are endorsing Atiku Abubakar is that his running mate is an Ibo man.

“Unfortunately for them, President Muhammadu Buhari has managed to navigate his way directly to the masses who they purport to represent and is ensuring that the dividends of democracy reach the people directly.”

Onnoghen absent as CCT adjourns his trial till February 13

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has adjourned the case against Walter Onnoghen, suspended chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), till February 13.

The adjournment was sequel to the application of Adeboyega Awomolo, counsel to Onnoghen. The ex-CJN was absent at the tribunal like he was on previous occasions.

Aliyu Umar, counsel to the federal government, did not object to the Awomolo’s application.

While Onnoghen challenged the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, the federal government counsel asked the tribunal for an interlocutory order to “cement” an earlier order given by the CCT chairman.

The CCT had ordered Onnoghen to step aside and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to swear in the most senior justice of the supreme court as acting CJN pending when Onnoghen’s case is determined.

At the tribunal on Monday, Onnoghen’s lawyer argued that the matter should be adjourned to a later date because Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), had petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) against his client.

“Our application is that proceedings be further adjourned, so it does not result in double jeopardy before the tribunal and the NJC,” he said.

“In the interest of of due process we want the NJC to look into this matter.”

The FG counsel said: “I ask that the matter be adjourned to Thursday.”

He also said the AGF “can discontinue the matter at the tribunal if he likes.”

Umar said if Onnoghen is not in court on the next adjourned date “he will ask for appropriate orders.”

However, Danladi Umar, CCT chairman, insisted that the pending applications before the tribunal be heard.

“I love you, they (appeal court) realise that I love seeing your beautiful faces,” he said.

In response, Awomolo said: “We have both agreed for adjournment, the tribunal cannot decide to take the matter out of our hands.”

At that point, the CCT chairman accused Onnoghen’s lawyer of “using delay tactics.”

After what appeared to be an argument between Awomolo and the CCT chairman, the federal government’s counsel prayed that the tribunal be stood down for 30 minutes.

After about 20 minutes, the CCT chairman adjourned the case till next week Wednesday.

Jonathan’s ex-minister, retired generals endorse Buhari

Caleb Olubolade, a retired navy captain and minister of police affairs under former president Goodluck Jonathan, has endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term.

He was at the presidential villa on Monday, in company with other retired military officers who endorsed the president for another four years in office.

In all, there were 13 major generals, eight air vice marshals, two rear admirals, 12 brigadier-generals, nine air commodores, eight commodores and 17 former military administrators — all retired.

They were led by former military administrator of Lagos State, Buba Marwa, a retired brigadier-general who currently heads the presidential advisory committee on the elimination of drug abuse in the country.

Marwa said if Buhari had failed in his duties, they would not have endorsed him.

He said: “As an officer and a gentleman, his word is his bond. After winning the elections, he brought out simple three-points programme – security, economy and fighting corruption. He led the fight and is leading the fight by personal example. That is the height of leadership. Do as as I do not as I say. He has demonstrated that.”

Asked if the endorsement was out of fear, Marwa said: “Absolutely not.”

The most senior of the retired officers, Jubrila Ayinla, a vice admiral and former chief of naval staff, said future generations would acquit President Buhari.

“On behalf of the generals here today, I congratulate you on the tremendous work done by this administration, and wish to state unequivocally that we are proud of you and fully behind you in the presidential elections next week. We pledge our full support and continued loyalty,” he said.

Buhari swears in 27-year-old female lawyer as ICPC board member

President Muhammadu Buhari has sworn-in 27-year-old Hannatu Muhammad as a member of the board of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

Muhammad was appointed as one of the board members to represent the youth in compliance with the provision of the ICPC Act.

According to the Act, the board shall include “a youth not being less than 21 or more than 30 years of age at the time of his or her appointment”.

The president also swore-in Bolaji Owasanoye, who was screened and cleared by the senate in 2018, as the chairman of the commission.

Other members are Grace Chinda (Delta); Olubukola Balogun (Lagos); Okolo Titus-(Enugu); Obiora Iqwedebia (Anambra); Adamu Bello (Katsina); Abdullahi Maikanu Saidu (Niger) and Yahaya Umah Daudu (Nasarawa).

The swearing-in ceremony took place at the Council Chamber, State House, in Abuja on Monday.

While swearing them in, President Buhari noted that he was “particularly delighted that the ICPC law under which you will operate is robust enough to assist government to sanitise the public sector in service delivery, public procurement, diversion of public revenue, deliberate misuse of public funds, and so on.”

Speaking at the event on Monday, the new chairman swore to “eschew, expose and fight corruption” in Nigeria.

He also said that he was encouraged by “the unquestionable, unshakeable and unequivocal stand of Mr. President against corruption, which indicated a very strong political will to fight corruption”.

He promised the president that the new board members would not disappoint the nation in their assignment.

 

Atiku only got temporary waiver to enter US – Report

Lobbyists hired by Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), played a huge role in making him get a temporary waiver to visit the US after a ban which lasted over a decade.

In a report, Reuters quoted unnamed US government officials as saying the travel ban was waived temporarily by the US state department after lobbyists mounted a campaign among congressional lawmakers arguing that the administration should not snub the leading challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 16 election.

“One person familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Atiku was allowed to enter because the United States saw little benefit to creating bad blood with the man who might be the next leader of Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s biggest oil producer,” Reuters said in the report.

The agency said during his visit, Atiku met with top US diplomats and lawmakers to thank them for the temporary suspension of a travel ban linked to bribery scandals.

Atiku’s critics had said he went to the US as an aide of Senate President Bukola Saraki, who was among those with the presidential candidate during the trip, but the Reuters report has laid that aside.

The visit was seen by his supporters as a major landmark, especially as the All Progressives Congress (APC) had argued he would be arrested if he tried entering the country.

Atiku’s row with the US authorities began after the FBI investigated a bribery scandal involving William Jefferson, former US congressman, in 2004. He was accused of demanding a bribe of $500,000 to facilitate the award of contracts to two American telecommunication firms in Nigeria.

The FBI had searched his residence in the posh neighbourhood of Potomac, Maryland, but no money was found. The investigators had videotaped Jefferson, who was the congressman representing Louisiana, receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills which he claimed was meant for Atiku, but the former vice-president has consistently denied the allegation.

In another case, US senate investigators had alleged in 2010 that one of Atiku’s wives allegedly helped him transfer more than $40 million in “suspect funds” into the United States from offshore shell companies. At least $1.7 million of that money was bribes paid by German technology company Siemens AG, according to the US senate investigators.

The company pleaded guilty to bribery charges in 2008 and agreed to pay a $1.6 billion fine. Neither Atiku nor his wife is however, facing criminal charges in the US.

After leaving office in 2007, Atiku was unable to enter the US after his request for visa was refused.

Commenting on this in December 2017, he had said: “It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not. I’m not running away from America. I applied, but wasn’t issued a visa.”

In November, The Cable had reported that Atiku’s party signed a deal with Brian Ballard, a top US lobbyist, to enhance US-Nigeria relations, with a focus to “maintaining political and security conditions free of intimidation and interference”.

TheCable also reported that he had been granted visa.

According to Reuters, Atiku engaged Holland & Knight, a lobbyist for the firm, “to help him secure a visa, in part by enlisting members of Congress to request one on his behalf.”

“Lobbyists hired by Atiku said they sought to overcome resistance at the State Department by securing support from members of Congress for the visit, as well as arguing that the top U.S. official for African affairs, Assistant Secretary Tibor Nagy, had an obligation to encourage democracy in the seventh most populous country in the world,” it reported.

A source at the US state department was also quoted as saying: “Assistant Secretary Nagy was pleased to meet with him and share the U.S. government’s expectations that Nigeria’s elections be free, fair, transparent, and peaceful, and reflect the will of the Nigerian people.”

The source added that the department had not requested the waiver.

Online media had reported how Judd Legum, former research director of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, suggested the former vice-president paid as much as $540,000 to get his way into the US.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo was said to have been very instrumental in the process which made the US grant Atiku the visa.

 

N2.2bn fraud trial: It’s painful testifying against Fayose, says Obanikoro

Musiliu Obanikoro, former minister of state for defence, says it is painful testifying against Ayodele Fayose, former governor of Ekiti state.

Obanikoro is one of the witnesses testifying against Fayose, who is standing an alleged N2.2bn fraud trial.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Fayose for allegedly taking N2.2bn from the office of Sambo Dasuki, ex-national security adviser (NSA) for his governorship election in 2014.

The EFCC said Fayose received the N2.2bn from Dasuki, through Obanikoro.

While being cross-examined by Olalekan Ojo, Fayose’s counsel, Obanikoro said he was testifying against Fayose reluctantly because they enjoyed a good relationship while they were both members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

At a federal high court in Lagos on Monday, Obanikoro said despite testifying against Fayose, he would not want their relationship to be destroyed.

“I’m trying to restrain myself from saying things that will further damage our relationship,” Obanikoro told the lawyer.

“It’s painful for me to give evidence against him (Fayose); no doubt about it. It is indeed very painful.”

Obanikoro also denied reports that his properties were seized by the EFCC before he agreed to appear as the prosecution witness.

“At no point was any of my property confiscated during the investigation to the best of my knowledge,” Obanikoro said.

“The newspaper reports on confiscation of my properties can be said to be wrong. They were selling their papers.”