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Senate summons security chiefs over illegal arms

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N’Assembly begins probe into invasion by thugs
• Presidency has confirmed Buhari unfit, says PDP

The Senate, yesterday, summoned heads of the nation’s security agencies with a view to curbing illegal possession of firearms.

The security chiefs were Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; Director-General, Department of State Services, Lawal Daura; Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, and others.

The lawmakers blamed the situation on negligence by government agencies tasked with controlling how individuals and corporate entities acquire firearms. Consequently, the Senate mandated its committee on Intelligence and National Security to probe the remote and immediate causes of the problem.

The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, who traced the genesis of unlawful possession of firearms to the cases of religious, communal and other conflicts across the country.

Hunkuyi regretted that despite repeated killings in Benue, Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara and other states, government has not done enough to curtail the illegal possession of arms.

He warned that unless the matter is tackled urgently, ongoing calls by some opinion leaders for self-defence could make more citizens stock up on firearms.

In his contribution, Senator Shehu Sani accused the political class of complicity on the matter. He said the rate at which people were being killed suggests the country has more illegal firearms than ever before. He called for a new national mindset where people would see politics as an opportunity to serve rather than a do-or-die affair.

Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, also insisted the proliferation of firearms explains the many killings in the country. He tasked the security chiefs to find a lasting solution to the issue.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, while approving the resolutions, said the rate of the killings and poor response by the security agencies called for a concerted effort.

Also, Saraki inaugurated an ad-hoc committee of Senate and House of Representatives members to probe the April 18 invasion by thugs who made away with the upper legislative chamber’s mace.

The committee is to be chaired by Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na’ Allah.

The Senate president said: “The incident will go down as one of the darkest days of our democracy. The precincts of the National Assembly are not just places where the National Assembly meets, they are the symbol of our liberty and freedom from autocracy, and the base of our democracy.

“This should not happen. It should never have happened. The violation of this solemn place, the symbol of our liberty, by a group of mobsters and criminals, cannot simply be ignored. It has been inferred in many quarters that a serving, distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria led this group of thugs and urchins. This is most despicable and unspeakable.”

He added: “We owe it a duty that the legislative process is purged of this dirt and the legislature restored to its full place of dignity. This is a duty that must be achieved. We cannot let a precedence proceed from this. Everyone involved, from conception to execution of this heinous crime, must be brought to book.

“This committee, therefore, must see its charge as pivotal to the restoration of the sanctity, the preservation of the dignity of the National Assembly, and the restoration of the security, integrity and moral authority of the National Assembly.”

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, said: “After months of deceit, the Presidency has confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari is unwell, ailing and unfit to attend to state matters.”

The party described as unfortunate the fact that “the President and his handlers had chosen to shroud the issue of his persistent illness in secrecy in a government that prides itself on claims of transparency and integrity.”

At a press conference in Abuja, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Nigerians were taken for granted, deceived and treated like lesser men and women without reasoning capacity, while our nation, at those periods, was left with no leadership, as Mr. President refused to transmit power as required by the 1999 Constitution, as amended.”

The PDP said though it has nothing against Buhari’s decision to take care of his ailing health, it “detests the deception and lies that trailed the handling of his unabated health issue.

“Even as we speak, Nigerians are not aware of the ailment our President is suffering from and the identity of the doctors and the hospital attending to him.

Shortly before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April, Mr. President, without transmitting a letter to the National Assembly, as required by the constitution, undertook a private visit to the U.K., where his doctors are known to reside, five clear days ahead of CHOGM.

“Nigerians were left in the dark for the period, despite demands for full disclosure by the PDP. Only last week, two days after his departure from the United States where he had gone for a state visit, Mr. President went ‘missing’ again. When concerns began to mount on his whereabouts, the Presidency claimed he had a ‘technical stopover in the U.K., citing flight issues, only for revelations to emerge from the same Presidency, on Monday, that Mr. President was actually in the U.K. to see his doctors.”

The PDP also drew the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the “import of the response by the Presidency to the petition filed by our party to the United Nations, detailing the gross violation of human rights, mass killings, state- sponsored violence, persecution of the opposition, subversion of democratic tenets and large-scale corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.”

The party said it was incontrovertible that “our petition, which was signed by our National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, embodies the pains, anguish, mood, wishes and voice of the generality of Nigerians across board, particularly the victims of extrajudicial killings, state instigated violence, arrests and detentions, economic hardship occasioned by large-scale corruption and government incompetence.”

It noted: “The world was, however, shocked when the Buhari presidency, in a brash show of power and siege mentality, arrogantly dismissed the issues raised by the PDP and the international agencies as ‘comical’, and even went ahead to issue new threats to opposition and dissenting voices in our country.”

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Emmanuel Ekon Empowers 50 Constituents on Livestock Production

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Boosting the participation of youths in agriculture, Chairman House Committee on Local Content and honourable member representing Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency Hon. Emmanuel Ekon has partnered with the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science to train and empower 50 of his constituents to become agro-preneurs in livestock farming.

Prof. E. A Iyayi. Photo Credit: Ekon Media Centre

The beneficiaries, who are mainly youths and women drawn from the federal constituency, benefitted from the training and empowerment programme on how to rear chickens like broilers, layers and cockerels for local consumption and export.

Speaking at the two-day training held at Abak Local Government Council Secretariat, the Coordinator of the training programme, Professor E. A Iyayi said that the institute’s collaboration with the lawmaker was a way of curtailing the menace of youth unemployment in the society. Stressing the essence of agriculture to food production and nation building, the scholar commended the lawmaker for empowering youths and women in poultry farming. “The oil sector is failing, we must resort to agriculture which is emerging as the mainstay of our economy” he added.

Barr. Imoh Williams, the Chairman of Abak Local Government Area represented by the Supervisor, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. Emem Westgarth noted that engaging the youths positively in such initiative, will considerably enable them to utilize their innate abilities for profitable ventures in agriculture and thereby prevents restiveness in the constituency. He tasked the participants to take the training seriously and focus on multiplying the impact to the ward level.

Responding, the lawmaker represented by Mr. Ubong Affia said he has taken steps to engage his constituents, especially the youths, frequently, through skills acquisition, capacity building and educational development; and more importantly, to key into the industrialisation drive of Governor Udom Emmanuel.

The lawmaker noted that he decided to train them on livestock production in his first phase project because the business is lucrative and will add more value to their lives and also bolster economic diversification which is the cardinal project of this administration.

“We as lawmakers should not fold our arms, but support the Governor in this agenda. He wants to diversify the economy and our youths must be empowered and encouraged to embrace agriculture,” he said.

Ekon added that the youths were being trained and financially empowered to start the business without any challenge.

The participants were given startup funds and operational guides worth millions of naira.

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World Press Day Lecture: Ekon Commends Udom Emmanuel, Wins NUJ Commemorative Award

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Chairman House Committee on Local Content and Member Representing Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency has commended the professional commitment of journalists for safeguarding our democratic values and projecting Akwa Ibom State to the outside world.

During his opening remarks as Chairman of NUJ public lecture organised to commemorate this year’s world press freedom day, the lawmaker represented by Hon. Imoh Ibokette, Former Member Representing Abak State Constituency paid glowing tributes to journalists around the world, especially in Africa who have made huge commitment to liberate societies from the hands of power-drunk individuals.

The lawmaker commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for making the environment conducive for journalism practice and for accommodating all shades of opinion even when it comes in the form of negative criticisms against his administration.

“This cordial relationship has enhanced the socio-economic and political development of the state and I strongly appeal that the press should continue to give the Governor the necessary support to succeed in developing the state”.

Speaking further, he described press freedom as the “cornerstone of human rights. It is also the driving force for a thriving democracy all over the world.” He noted that “It is however sad to say that while we have dedicated and committed journalists who have worked tirelessly to protect and promote the integrity of the noble profession, there are few out there who have turned themselves into paid agents of blackmail, character assassination and what is commonly known as the ‘pull him down syndrome’.”

Ekon expressed gratitude to NUJ for acknowledging his modest contributions to the development of the state especially in the area of advancing the cause of our youths in the oil and gas sector. “For this singular honour, the door of my office would remain open for partnership and collaboration with the state council of the NUJ.”

“I have been a friend of the media for so many years and it is my hope that this new accord would further cement our bond of friendship”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Journalists presented Hon. Emmanuel Ekon with a commemorative award at the public lecture. Presenting the award, Comrade Ini Ememobong, State Publicity Secretary of PDP said it was in recognition of the lawmaker’s outstanding achievements and steering local content development to the benefit of Nigerians, especially young people and commitment to human capacity development.

Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, State Commissioner of Works; Engr Etido Inyang, Chairman, Ibom Power Company were among recipients of the commemorative award.

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N1.4b Fraud: Peace Corps Boss Seeks to Stop Trial

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, fixed June 11 to rule on a motion seeking to stop further hearing on the money laundering charge the Federal Government slammed against the Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Mr. Dickson Akor.

The Federal Government is prosecuting Akor on an amended 13-count charge bordering on his alleged involvement in N1.4billion recruitment scam.

The Incorporated Trustees of the Corps was equally cited as the 2nd defendant in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/45/2017.

The defendants were accused of obtaining money by false pretence contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other fraud related Offences Act, Cap A6 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.

Specifically, FG alleged that the defendants had between January 1, 2013 and March 6, 2017, obtained money from unsuspecting job seekers who it said were made to pay money into Eco bank account No. 4582022099.

It accused the defendants of laundering funds obtained through unlawful activity contrary to section 7(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other fraud related Offences Act, Cap A6 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Aside charging Akor for organising and training members of Peace Corps of Nigeria as a quasi- Military organization contrary to section 6(1)(a) of the Public Order Act, Cap P42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act, FG accused the defendants of operating as a private guard without licence contrary to section 1(1) of the Private Guard Companies Act Cap P30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, an offence punishable under section 32 (1) of the Act.

At the resumed proceeding in the case, the defendants, through their lawyer, Mr. John Ochogwu, applied for the trial to be adjourned sine-die (indefinitely) pending compliance to an order the court made on January 16, which directed the Nigerian Police Force to unseal the National Headquarters of the Corps in Abuja.

Ochogwu told the court that Police has continued to lay seige at the Peace Corps head office in disobedience to two court orders and a directive from the National Assembly.

He argued that section 287 of the 1999 constitution imbued the court with powers to enforce its orders, insisting that action of the security agents not only amounted to a direct affront on authority of the court, “it is a sad reminder of the dark days of military rule”, Ochogwu added

“My lord the office of the defendants has been under seal and lock. This is a year and two months now since the arraignment. Some of the facilities needed for their defence is still under lock by the complainant.

“The defendants are thoroughly disadvantaged. There is no how the matter will proceed without the defendants being allowed facilities to prepare their defence.

“Granting this application will serve as deterrent to those who undermine the powers of the court”, the defence lawyer submitted.

However, in its five-paragraphed counter-affidavit, FG maintained that section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, prohibited the court from staying proceedings in a criminal trial.

“Their prayer seeks to operate as a request for stay of proceeding. We urge my lord to uphold decisions of the Supreme Court in the case between FRN vs Saraki and FRN vs Metuh”, government lawyer, Mr. A. S. Don-Oboh stated.

After he had listened to both parties, trial Justice John Tsoho adjourned to rule on the matter.

It will be recalled that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, on August 11, 2017, took over prosecution of the defendants from Police.

The AGF equally pruned down charges against the defendants from 90 to 13 counts.

Akor had pleaded not guilty to all the allegations against him, even as the trial court granted him bail to the tune of N30million.

The court however ordered him to surrender his international passport to the Deputy Chief Registrar, pending the determination of the case against him.

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Dangote Emerges Only Nigerian in Forbes 2018 Most Powerful List

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Of the nearly 7.5 billion people on the planet, Forbes has identified the one person out of every 100 million whose actions mean the most.

Nigerian business mogul and Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, 61, was the only Nigerian to make the 75 Most Powerful People in 2018, according to a list released by Forbes.

He’s pegged on 66th position coming a spot ahead of Vice President of the United States of America, Mike Pence, who’s pegged on number 67 on the list. It will be recalled that the President of the Dangote Group of companies has often made such lists due to his business concerns and humanitarian efforts in Nigeria and other parts of the world.

Dangote, who made his fortune in the cement industry, is turning his attention to dairy and sugar farming; he’s earmarked $800 million to buy 50,000 cattle in the hope of producing 500 million litres of milk annually by 2019.

He’s also racing to finish a 650,000-barrel-a-day oil refinery near Lagos, set to be one of the world’s biggest, and says he intends to spend as much as $50 billion in the next decade on renewable energy and petrochemical refineries, including investments in the U.S. and Europe.

Which is all fine, but not quite his grand ambition: buying Arsenal, his favorite soccer team. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, seizes the top spot on Forbes’ 2018 ranking of The World’s 75 Most Powerful People for the first time ever. China’s congress amended its constitution in March, broadening Xi’s influence and eliminating term limits.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (No. 2) has been knocked out of the top spot, a title that he held for four consecutive years. A little over one year into his term, President Donald Trump falls to the No. 3 spot.

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