Assets sale: PENGASSAN, TUC threaten to shut down Nigeria

Fidelis Soriwei, Everest Amaefule, Okechukwu Nnodim and ’Femi Asu

Oil workers, under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, have threatened to shut down the country should the Federal Government carry out its plan to sell national assets to augment revenue shortfall.

Also, the Trade Union Congress on Sunday said it would join PENGASSAN to shut down the country if the government remained adamant on its plan to sell some national assets.

PENGASSAN, in a statement on Sunday by its National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ojugbana, said the government should look into other ways to increase its revenue base while plugging loopholes and leakages in government’s finances.

The union, which described the plan to sell the national assets as a self-destructive move for Nigeria, said, “The plan meant to solve short-term financial obligations is targeted at handing over our collective wealth to a few individuals and further impoverish the rest of our countrymen and women.”

It said government at all levels should pump money into the economy through the execution of capital projects and payment of workers’ salaries to revive the economy.

PENGASSAN said it would not sit back and watch the sale of national assets, especially those in the oil and gas industry, such as the Nigeria LNG that had become a huge revenue-earner for Nigeria; refineries and shares in the upstream oil and gas JV operations being shared among those in power and their cronies.

It said, “Any attempt to sell these national assets will be met with stiff resistance from the association, as PENGASSAN will galvanise every support, including that of our sister union and labour centres to shut down this country by ensuring that every activity in the oil and gas sector is brought to a complete halt.

“Some opportunists in the clothes of businessmen and short-sighted politicians had earlier advocated the sale of public assets such as the NLNG, four state-owned refineries, Nigeria’s stakes in the Africa Finance Corporation, the nation’s airports and reduction of government’s shares in upstream oil joint venture operations and this was approved by the National Economic Council.”

Reacting to the recent approval of the sale of the national assets by the NEC, Ojugbana said the sale of the assets would further compound the economic and security problems in the country.

He added, “They should tell us what will happen after the recession if we have sold the assets to greedy individuals. Will the country go cap in hand begging those individuals who bought the assets and borrowing from them?”

He said the plan “is ill-timed and unwarranted as it does not serve national interest,” adding that no nation could develop, survive or feel secure after selling all its national assets.”

PENGASSAN stated, “Doing this will further mortgage the future of our great country in the hands of few cabals. These individuals are just looking for advantage to further loot the country through illegal acquisition of the national assets as in the case of various oil blocks held by a few powerful Nigerians.

“The sale of national assets is not only surprising but also embarrassing for a nation experiencing economic recession. The proponents of the sale of national assets are those who have been actively involved in the operations of the nation’s economy in the past. They were part of those responsible for the country’s current economic situation.”

According to him, such sales in the past, including the power and steel sectors privatisation, are just a shift from public monopoly to private monopoly, which has further worsen those sectors.

“It is, therefore, the candid position of PENGASSAN that such a plan should be thrown into the trash bin. Government should continue to seek better ways to address the present economic challenges and reduce areas of wastage. The long overdue calls for diversification of the economy should be driven with all seriousness; more action is required urgently than propaganda mechanism,” he said.

The President of the TUC, Mr. Bala Kaigama, said on the telephone on Sunday that the Congress would collaborate with the two major unions in the oil sector because the planned sale of the assets was flawed.

He noted that if those who invested in the assets had sold them, the current administration would not have met them.

Kaigama said, “We will solidarise with them. You cannot sell vital assets like that. You don’t. If those who invested in the assets had sold them, would they have met them?

“Of course, these business people, who are saying sell and sell, let them pay the appropriate taxes. Those people who are not paying the appropriate taxes, let them pay the appropriate taxes and money will accrue to the Federal Government.

“TUC will solidarise with NUPENG and PENGASSAN to shut down the country.”

The Nigeria Labour Congress, on its own, said while it would take necessary steps on the issue, it had not taken the decision to shut down the country.

The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, stated on Sunday that the congress would inform Nigerians when the decision was taken.

Ozo-Eson added, “No. We are a democratic organ; we have our processes. We have not taken a decision; when we take a decision, we will let the country know.

“If individual unions have announced, we have no quarrel with that. We are opposed to it (assets sale) and we will take the necessary steps. We have not yet taken that decision of shutting down the country or whatever. We will inform the nation when we take that decision.”

Selling national assets signifies panic, says don, activist

Also, a frontline economist and Executive Chairman, African Centre for Shared Development Capacity Building, Prof. Olu Ajakaiye, has said selling national assets because of the current economic recession in the country will amount to taking a panicky measure.

In an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, Ajakaiye said rather than selling national assets in a hurry, the government should undertake a comprehensive study of the funding gaps required to bail the nation out of recession in order to determine the best step possible.

He stated, “The highly publicised Medium Term Expenditure Framework and similar basically financial programming tools do not contain specific screened, selected and prioritised projects and programmes to which Nigerians can relate. Resource gap determined from such tools can be dangerously misdirecting and can create unnecessary panic. Sale of assets in a panic situation like was done carelessly during the late 1980s should not be repeated.

“If the resource gap includes recurrent, sale of assets to close such gap will be inappropriate because it is tantamount to consuming capital and that will be irresponsible. Moreover, what happens when the proceeds of the sale is exhausted? What are we going to sell to pay the next salary, for example?

“If the resource gap is exclusively due to bona fide capital projects that have been properly screened, selected and ranked in order of priority based on their direct and indirect contributions to national development goals, alternative financing options should be carefully considered. The first step is to surgically consider cutting excesses and illegitimate as well as unreasonable components of recurrent expenditure.”

Ajakaiye said the personnel cost component of government should be cleaned up by sustaining and generalising ongoing application of technology to eliminate all forms of impurities in the system including ‘ghost’ workers.

He argued that no attempt should be made to retrench workers, saying this would be inconsistent with the goal of reducing unemployment and legitimately reflating the economy.

He added that salaries and allowances of political and public office holders should be drastically reviewed downwards.

Ajakaiye said, “This is consistent with the slogan of Change Begins With Me. Change should begin with those at the top. The Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission should quickly propose such reductions so as to make it mandatory. Very few political and public office holders followed the example of the President and Vice-President because it is optional.”

A civil rights activist, Imma Okochua, said savings from the removal of petrol subsidy as well as monies recovered from looted public funds should be used to fund gaps in government resources.

He said, “If the recession was caused by the fall in oil price and especially by the reduced production and exportation due to militancy, why don’t you solve the militancy problem? Is it impossible to solve?

“When you have sold our national assets and we have consumed the proceeds, or the government has squandered it, and oil prices remain low and the militants remain undefeated or persuaded, what will the government do? Will they sell us to the highest bidder?”

He urged the government to ensure that it made effective use of the N50 stamp duty it was collecting from payments into current accounts.

 

SERAP sues FG over Patience Jonathan’s $15m

A rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, said it had sued the Federal Government for its failure to initiate criminal proceedings against the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, in relation to the $15m traced to bank accounts belonging to her.

The group said in a statement on Sunday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbi Mumuni, that it resorted to suing the Federal Government after its request for Patience’s prosecution was ignored by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

In the said suit marked, FHC/L/CS/1318/2016, SERAP is seeking an order of mandamus, compelling the AGF to immediately file a criminal charge against Patience for what the group termed illicit enrichment.

It argued that the AGF was bound by Section 174 of the constitution to prosecute anyone found to have contravened any law enacted by the National Assembly.

It stressed that the failure of the AGF to prosecute Patience was at variance with the rule of law binding on all citizens.

SERAP said, “The Attorney General of the Federation has failed, neglected and or refused to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan over the $15m unexplained wealth frozen in her accounts.

“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens, but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution, is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a democratic society, this is meant to be the norm; it is an apostasy for government to ignore the provisions of the law and the necessary rules made to regulate matters.

“Mrs. Jonathan is a politically-exposed person under anti-corruption standards. She is also covered under the definition of ‘public officials’ contained in the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party. Under Article 2 of the convention, public officials include Mrs. Jonathan or any other family members of former President Goodluck Jonathan who exercised official duties while he was President.”

SERAP is urging the court to declare that Malami’s refusal to file a criminal charge against Patience was in conflict with his constitutional mandate as well as the provisions of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

The court has yet to fix a date for the hearing of the suit.

Police arrest SARS officer for killing undergraduate

• Joseph File photo

The police have arrested the Special Anti Robbery Squad officer who fired the shot that killed an undergraduate of a polytechnic in Edo State, Joseph Eidonojie-Ugbeni.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the suspect was nabbed on Friday shortly after PUNCH Metropublished the report.

Our correspondent had reported that some SARS officers, who were chasing a suspected Internet fraudster at the Ogoja Market along LASU-Igando Road, had started shooting sporadically.

The bullet was said to have hit 20-year-old Joseph in the head, while his cousin, Friday Ojah, fled to avoid been killed.

Ojah had told our correspondent that the policemen took Joseph’s corpse and dumped it in the boot of the fraudster’s car, before driving away to the command headquarters in Ikeja, Lagos.

It was gathered on Sunday that the officer that fired the shot had been arrested and taken to the scene of the incident.

A source said, “He was arrested on Friday and taken in handcuffs to the place where the incident happened.”

A legal practitioner and friend of the victim’s family, Saheed Sanni, said the family had decided to petition the Inspector-General of Police on the case to demand justice for the victim.

It was learnt that the suspected fraudster,Badoo, who the officers were allegedly chasing on the day of the incident, had reported at the command headquarters.

A source said the suspect had been detained.

He said, “Badoo lives in that community and is popular; the SARS officers also know him. He was not their target that day. They had actually conducted a raid and arrested some people. They were leaving when they sighted him in his car. They called his name and he quickly abandoned his car and fled.

“He had just returned from the bank that day. Badoo had travelled to South Africa and had recently returned to the community.”

The victim’s father, Patrick Eidonojie-Ugbeni, demanded justice for the son.

He said, “The Badoo they were chasing showed up on Friday at the SARS office with his lawyer and parents. I met the Officer-in-Charge of SARS as well. They shot my son in the head and they claimed that he had a gun and that they shot him in self-defence. How is that possible when he was shot in the head from behind? All I want now is that the police should release the post-mortem result and the police report on the incident.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, said the case had been transferred to the homicide section of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department for discreet investigation.

She said, “The state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, has directed that the case be investigated by the homicide section. We will come out with the full report at the conclusion of investigation.”

Condemnation greets purchase of bulletproof cars for govs, wives

Apart from corruption that has crippled Nigeria’s economy, another cankerworm that is devouring our nation’s treasury is the extravagant lifestyles of public office holders. The public officers do not show restraint in the usage of public resources as far as their pleasure and that of their families is in concerned. They are schooled in the art and science of ensuring maximum enjoyment of office to the detriment of the majority of the citizens. Their ostentatious lifestyles defy logic and commonsense.

This issue started long ago but regrettably the present government has not shown any sign that it would change the culture. Apart from the judiciary, the other two arms of government have always displayed their appetite for pleasure and comfort even when the economy is bleeding. At the beginning of this administration, the senators scorned the people by purchasing SUVs at a unit price of above N35m; that happened at a time the signs were obvious that the economy was not healthy. When questions were asked, their explanations were that these expensive cars were necessary for their oversight functions. What is painful about their decision was that it happened when experts were warning that Nigeria’s economy was heading for a fall. The lawmakers, at national and state levels, have continued in that fashion. These things are happening in a country where an average individual cannot afford a decent accommodation or a square meal.

The executives, both at the national and state levels, are in a world of their own. The worst are the governors, especially those from the South-East and South-South. What is heartbreaking is that these governors owe arrears of salaries of close to a year in some cases. They are eager to advise workers and citizens to tighten their belts, whereas their own belts enjoy abnormal elasticity.

Nigerians should take the destiny of this country into their hands. They should take an unusual step/s to flush out the parasites.  Lawmakers that need to be recalled should be recalled while chief executives that require impeachment should be impeached. The majority cannot afford to be wallowing in poverty and squalor while the minority lives in opulence. Monday Ubani (Vice-President, Nigerian Bar Association)

Salvaging the sinking economy requires absolute sacrifice and self-denial by public office holders. We cannot get a different result by doing the same thing the same way. Also, we cannot continue to circulate the same set of people whose obsolete and primordial ideas have yielded nothing other than an economic recession.

The practice where public officers shield themselves and their wives in bulletproof cars is nothing but a needless display of extravagance and affluence in a society where the larger population suffers untold hardship. If their policy framework and implementation gladden the minds of Nigerians, they would not need bulletproof cars to move about.

The change agenda of the current regime should be made total, starting from the top. State governors, after spending eight years wasting taxpayers’ money on bulletproof cars, proceed to the National Assembly with the same ostentatious disposition.

Whether we believe it or not, Nigeria has become a laughing stock in the global community. People are laughing at us because of our unserious leaders who cannot lead by example. We thought the presidential fleet would have been reduced to three by now. After all, we read of a country where the president moves around with a self-driven beetle car, a move borne out of stringent cost-saving measure. Despite the public outcry, the National Assembly members still went ahead to purchase extremely expensive SUVs. What a callous and insensitive decision! Now, the country is thinking of selling national assets to raise money to fund expensive governance. To get out of the recession, public officials should jettison their ostentatious living, cut their jumbo pay and entitlements and embark on selfless service. Adeleye Matthew (Public affairs commentator)

We cannot continue to tolerate lavish and wasteful spending of public resources. What I have come to realise is that public officers are so deceitful that what they tell the masses is, in most cases, the opposite of what they do. The current administration is not different. They live lavishly on taxpayers’ money while the people are neglected. That cannot be tolerated.

You cannot be moving around in expensive bulletproof cars to tell the people to tighten their belts. If we must make a sacrifice, everybody should be ready to adjust his lifestyle. As a matter of fact, sacrifice at a difficult time like this should start with the public officers.

Everybody must pay a price. But my worry is that they are not ready to join the masses in sacrificing for the good of the country. Why should they use taxpayers’ money to buy bulletproof cars at this hard time? Do their families know what it means to be hungry?

The truth is that nothing has changed. Rather, what the people are saying is that President Muhammadu Buhari should take Nigeria back to where it was last year when he assumed office. He has not changed anything. Rather, the suffering has multiplied. Our demand is simple; Buhari should take Nigeria to the state it was when he took over power.

It took Buhari six months to compose the current cabinet, which has turned out to be the worst cabinet we have ever had. And all they do is to waste the country’s resources on extravagant lifestyles. They talk too much but do nothing. I am not a card-carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party or any other opposition party. But I speak as a Nigerian. This administration has increased the woes of Nigerians. Its deceit is enough. We want to see impacts, not excuses. Shettima Yerima (President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum)

Wasteful spending is one of the things that have ruined the country. It is one issue that the current administration is trying to stop. But we would recall that some of these things started several decades ago, and many people have actually benefitted from them. So, they are difficult to stop.

Notwithstanding, Nigerians are not ready to tolerate such wastages. It is the responsibility of the current administration to stop all forms of wasteful spending. The All Progressives Congress-led administration must be held responsible because it came to power on the wings of the promise to change things. I am sure the administration would change the culture of bulletproof cars. Maybe we should give it some time to see what it would do.

What we have is a civil government. So, the President cannot direct that an existing practice be stopped without following due process and meeting with relevant stakeholders for dialogue. The government would take the change agenda step by step. We can only pray that the judiciary and other concerned institutions live up to the expectation. Nobody wants waste. Actually, it is immoral for a few people to live in affluence in a society where many cannot meet their basic needs.

Apart from the elite, which are not up to five per cent of the population, not many people live comfortably. The wasteful avenue should be blocked so that Nigeria would be able to utilise its resources for the good of the majority. There should be justice and fairness in the way we use national resources. Every form of corruption should be tamed. •Frank Kokori (Human rights activist/former labour leader)

I am not sure any sane person would encourage public officers to continue to continue in their extravagant lifestyles, including the use of expensive cars.

Why should the so-called leaders protect themselves at the detriment of those they govern?  Are their lives more precious? In a saner clime, the masses would revolt at the slightest display of ostentatious lifestyles by their leaders because the money they spend belongs to taxpayers.

The political leaders should put in more efforts at ensuring a more equitable distribution of our wealth. They should strive to create jobs in order to reduce unemployment. When they do that, the general society would be safer to live in. Doing this, to me, is a better security measure than buying bulletproof vehicles.

In my opinion, there should be a ban on the use of bulletproof cars by public officers with a few exceptions. Only the President, the Vice-President, governors, deputy governors and the leaders of the National Assembly should use bulletproof cars. This is because of the sensitive nature of their offices. But the relations of the listed public office holders should not be allowed have bulletproof cars. When we do this, public officers would see the need to ensure that the entire society is secured. Olugbenga Adimula (Financial analyst)

It is unfortunate that despite the current economic crisis our the country, some reckless leaders have not controlled their wasteful spending of public resources, looting, outright stealing, misappropriation and diversion of public funds. Much of the spending has nothing to do with public well-being or creating conducive socio-economic atmosphere for productive activities.

Their primitive accumulation of wealth leads to this unreasonable spending. Also, this is a result of electoral frauds. They do not win election through transparent and participatory process. So, they are always afraid of the people they claim to represent. If you won an election through a fair contest and carry out your responsibility, you would not be hiding in bulletproof cars. But you would be scared when you know you manipulated the people and the process.

Instead of investing in health care, education, infrastructure and sustainable jobs through transparent and accountable governance, public officers choose to spend public funds on bulletproof cars for themselves and their families. This clearly shows lack of vision and an appetite to abuse public office.

It is high time Nigerians resisted this primitive culture and insist on prudent management of public resources. Democracy is not a license for reckless spending and wastefulness. Even if there was no economic recession, we must not allow this shameful act of mismanagement and diversion of public fund in the name of security. Enough of irresponsible spending, enough of  expenditures that have no impact on the collective well-being of Nigerians.  •Auwal Rafsanjani (Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre)

Ondo primary: Crisis hits APC as Tinubu says Oyegun must go

Oyegun and Tinubu

The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, has demanded the removal of the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, over what he called the latter’s anti-democratic handling of the  party affairs.

Tinubu made this demand in a scathing statement entitled, “Oyegun’s Ondo fraud: The violation of democracy in the APC,” released by the Tinubu Media Office on Sunday.

The party leader said the APC’s democratic credentials had been dealt a big blow by Odigie-Oyegun’s conduct, especially with his handling of the outcome of the Ondo State governorship primary.

He said the APC was a party borne out of the quest for democratic good governance, arguing that the ideology was currently under a critical threat by those who managed to be in the party but were never part of it.

According to him, from the party’s inception, the principles of democratic fairness and justice are to guide the APC’s internal deliberations.

He stressed that the party’s founders realised that it was only by fair dealing that the party could remain faithful to the progressive ideals that were presented to the Nigerian electorate as governing creed.

“If the party can not justly govern itself, it will find it difficult to establish and maintain just government throughout the nation,” he said.

The APC leader stressed that before now, the party was the embodiment of a democratic promise made between its members as well as a democratic vow made to the public.

Tinubu said, “Evidently, some errant members believe that promises and vows are mere words to be easily spoken and more easily broken. Chairman John (Odigie-) Oyegun has breached these good pledges in a most overt and brazen display.

“In doing so, (Odigie-) Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira.

“The party was supposed to buttress the APC members elected to government at all levels. Because of (Odigie-) Oyegun’s conduct of our affairs, the party is rapidly becoming an albatross to those it is meant to help.”

On the just concluded Ondo State governorship primaries, Tinubu said, “(Odigie-) Oyegun’s comportment regarding the Ondo State primary will become the textbook definition of political treachery and malfeasance of the basest order.

“In early September, the (Ondo) State primary was held. A purported winner was named. Having faith in the ways of the party, Tinubu publicly accepted what he assumed to be a verdict honestly derived.

“As a democrat, one must face the possibility of defeat and accept such an outcome with as much grace as one would embrace victory.”

The APC leader said one of the few bright spots during the conduct of the primary was the Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, whom he said chaired the primary convention with decorum and impartiality. He noted that he (Abubakar) was unaware that a tampered list had been slipped into the process.

Tinubu added, “Indeed within hours of the announcement, news began to filter in that gravely disturbed me. Credible allegations of fraud troubled the waters.

“The delegate list had been materially altered by someone in a strategic position to do so. The names of over 150 valid delegates were excised to make room for an equal number of impostors.

“This was not a clerical error. The alteration was wilfully executed that the primary would be directed toward a chosen end that bore nothing in common with the will of most state party members. A cunning few had tried to deceive many into believing they were outnumbered.”

The APC national leader narrated details of what transpired behind closed doors during the NWC meeting, held to deliberate on the report of the appeal panel saddled with the responsibility of handling the appeals.

He accused Odigie-Oyegun of upturning the decision of the majority who voted in favour of the cancellation of the primary and the conduct of a fresh one.

Tinubu stated, “He has shown that he and democratic fairplay cannot exist in the same party at the same time.

“If Tinubu is to choose between John (Odigie-) Oyegun and progress toward a better Nigeria, the choice has already been made. For those who care about the party, who care about Nigeria and its chance for a better tomorrow, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all we have built and all we hold dear.”

Attempts to get the reaction of Odigie-Oyegun were unsuccessful.

He neither picked nor returned several calls made to his line.

A response to a text message sent to him was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.

I can’t predict when recession’ll end –Finance minister

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun loans
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said that she cannot predict when the nation will get out of the current economic recession.

She, however, said that some of the efforts of the government to reflate the economy had started yielding results.

The minister, who spoke in an interview in Abuja, stated, “I don’t want to predict when we will get out of recession. Let me tell you that we will get into growth and that’s how you get out of recession, because of the stimulus that we are providing.

“And it may take longer than we would like, but we will definitely get out of it. We are already seeing some positive signs in agriculture and solid minerals;and with what we are trying to do with other sectors, I am very sure we will get out of it soon.”

The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had last week stated that the country would start getting out of recession by the fourth quarter of the year.

He had said, “We are already in the valley, the only direction is to go up the hill and the government is doing everything possible to ensure that we move up the hill. I am optimistic that based on the actions being taken by the monetary and fiscal authorities, the fourth quarter results will show evidence that we have started to move out of recession.

“The worst is over. The Nigerian economy is on the path of recovery and growth. So, please if you are a bystander or sideliner, you are losing; join the train now before it leaves the station.”

To facilitate the recovery of the economy from recession, Adeosun said about N770bn had been channelled into the economy for various capital projects this year, adding that the monitoring team in the Ministry of Budget and Planning was putting contractors on their toes to ensure that they delivered the projects.

Investors interested in Nigeria

The minister explained that despite the recession, lots of foreign investors were still interested in coming to invest in Nigeria.

As a demonstration of their interest in the country, she said the $1bn Eurobond being floated by the country had received a lot of commitments from investors, adding that the funds would start coming in before the end of the year.

Adeosun added that the report of the committee set up last month to review the national tax policy would be ready this week

No final decision on asset sales

She also said that the Federal Government had yet to take a final decision on which of the country’s national assets it would dispose of to finance the 2016 budget.

The position of the minister is against the widely held belief that the government has concluded plans to dispose of some important national assets such as the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the refineries.

The planned sale of the assets is being opposed by the organised labour, civil society organisations, industry stakeholders, professional bodies and financial analysts.

But Adeosun said while the government was mindful of the feelings of Nigerians, it was currently faced with serious financial challenge, which had made it imperative to raise funds from other sources.

She said the government recognised the fact that funding could be raised through borrowing, but lamented that this was not the best option now owing to the huge infrastructural deficit in the country.

The minister added that the type of financial resources needed to fund critical projects that would unlock the economic potential of the country could not be raised from borrowing, hence the need to dispose of what she described as underutilised national assets.

She said, “I think there are a number of assets that are being considered and I don’t think we have said this one or that one. There are some unused assets that are just lying idle, which people have come and suggested that ‘these things you are not using, can we lease them from you for money?’

“Hence, when they lease them from us, the taxes are still going to come to us. So, there are some things the government is sitting on, we don’t have money to do it, it makes sense for me to unlock those things. So,they bring money into the economy at these difficult times so that we can move forward.

“We have not got to the stage of saying it’s this asset, or that. But it’s more of the conversation around should we just keep on borrowing or shall we know that things are a lot more difficult than we envisaged and turn on to an alternative strategy, which is looking at some of the underutilised assets and releasing them.”

She added, “We think that the infrastructure challenges that we face are so serious and the kind of money that we need, we can’t borrow. When you have an accumulated deficit, you need to look for the money that will sustain what you are doing for the next three to four years.

“That is what we are doing, having more of a strategic approach so that over time, we will borrow less, and which of course is good.”

When asked what type of sale arrangement the government was considering for the national assets, the minister said this depended on the asset classes.

She said, “It depends on which one. There are some assets which you can lease and others you may need to divest from. The investor will also have to look at the risks and the pricing. Some assets just make sense to just leave them and there are some, which you may just sell but still hold on to the majority stake.

“So, it makes sense and you can sell to the Nigerian people and list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. So, there are different kinds of sales.”

Lending rate reduction

When asked if she was disappointed that the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria did not reduce the benchmark lending rate to make domestic borrowing attractive as suggested by her,the minister said the government would explore other cheaper sources of funds, particularly from international institutions.

She said, “We are looking at a range of options and one of the biggest issues for us was the cost of borrowing. Of course, the government is the biggest borrower. So, what we have said from the beginning was that we will look for cheaper funds to bring down our cost of borrowing.

“Currently, it is cheaper to borrow internationally than to borrow locally.So, we are working with the Debt Management Office to try and refinance some of the existing local debts into external to get lower interest rates and to structure them over the medium term.

“That will reduce our cost of debt servicing and increase the amount of money available for capital projects, which is really our focus.”

N500bn new housing fund

In a bid to stimulate activities and return the economy to the path of growth, Adeosun said a mass housing scheme that would make Nigerians become homeowners under a mortgage arrangement would commence in the next three to four weeks.

She said under the initiative known as the ‘Family Home Fund’, the sum of N500bn had been earmarked to create mortgages for affordable houses for Nigerians, starting with the construction of 100,000 houses annually from next year.

According to her, the housing fund is expected to increase from N500bn to N1tn to make it possible for the government, through the private sector, to deliver about 400,000 houses annually through mortgages.

The mortgage, according to her, will be created at a single digit interest rate of 9.99 per cent payable in 20 years, with homeowners making an initial deposit of 10 per cent.

She said the low and middle-income earners would benefit more from the scheme as about 70 per cent of the houses would be given out for between N2.5m and N4.5m depending on the type.

Adeosun said, “We have done a lot of work around how we can bring down the cost. The tag is N2.5m and it is a house you can move into. So, we are bringing down the cost.

“These are affordable houses for Nigerians;the scheme is going to be linked with the BVN. One house per person; so, you cannot buy the house and rent it to somebody else.”

Land grabbers invade estate, kill monarch’s son

• Jamiu Photo: Facebook

Some land grabbers and their thugs  have invaded the Federal Housing Estate in the Alagbado area of Lagos State, killing Jamiu Olipede, the son of Oba Musiliu Olipede, the Olorile of Itori Oke Egba land, Ogun State.

It was learnt that Jamiu’s death was the culmination of a land crisis in the estate, as the land grabbers had claimed that part of the land on which the Federal Government built the estate belonged to them.

Our correspondent gathered that 29-year-old Jamiu, who stayed on Lewis Avenue, Federal Housing Estate, was shot and hacked to death on Wednesday during another attempt by theland grabbers to enforce a court judgement which purportedly gave them the portion of land.

PUNCH Metro learnt that for some months, theland grabbers had also attempted to eject some of the residents.

It was gathered that on Wednesday, at about 11pm, some of the land grabbers, led by men identified only as Sholebo, Bature, Kosoko again invaded the estate and allegedly went to Jamiu’s apartment on the avenue.

Our correspondent learnt that they allegedly called him out, after which they shot and hacked him to death.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the incident was reported at the Alagbado Police Division.

The monarch, Oba Olipede, said his son had called him on the telephone that some people were threatening him.

He said, “Some people came to his house and asked him to move out. They said they had won a case in court. The men were violent and told my son to pack out or they would kill him. The Federal Housing Authorities sold the land to my son. So, there was no need to argue with the land grabbers. But they brought hoodlums to kill my son.”

A landlord in the estate, who gave his name only as Salami, said the thugs had earlier threatened to evict him and other residents from their apartments.

He said, “That was on September 1, 2016. They were led by one pastor who claimed that they got a court judgment and that I and some other residents should leave our apartments.

“They disconnected the power supply to our apartments. I reported the harassment to the police at the Alagbado division. The Divisional Police Officer invited the land grabbers to his office and asked them to produce court documents to back their claims; but they could not.”

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, confirmed the incident.

She added that efforts were on to arrest those responsible for the killing and their sponsors.

She said, “The victim was killed by some people, led by one Adebayo. Policemen went to the scene and removed the corpse. Effort is on to arrest the ring leader of the group.”

Awo was the only strategist that ever ruled in Nigeria, others are tacticians –Nyiam

Nyiam

The failed April 22, 1990 coup carried out by a group of young army officers led by Major Gideon Orkar shook the military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. Orkar and his co-plotters attacked Dodan Barracks, Lagos, the military headquarters and residence of the former military president. But Babangida escaped from being hit by the bullets fired by the coup plotters.

Major Orkar, in his broadcast to the nation, said the coup was meant to oust Babangida from power because his regime was dictatorial, corrupt and deceitful, among others. Orkar branded the coup as ‘a well conceived, planned and executed revolution for the marginalised, oppressed and enslaved peoples of the Middle Belt and the South with a view to freeing them and their children from eternal slavery and colonisation by a clique in the country.’ Before the coup was executed, Orkar had enlisted the support of a senior Army officer, Col. Anthony Nyiam, to ensure the success of the forceful takeover of Babangida’s government.

But after the coup was aborted by troops loyal to Babangida, Orkar and 41 other coup planners were convicted of treason and executed by firing squad on July 27 1990, while Nyiam managed to escape, hence he was not killed.

In this interview with Fisayo Falodi and Tunde Ajaja, Nyiam, the most senior among the coup plotters, explains how he escaped and that the issues that prompted the plotters to carry out arms against Babangida have yet to be addressed

You were one of those who staged the 1990 coup against the government of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. Why did you stage that coup?

Let me begin by making some corrections. It was not a military coup in the sense that it was not a coup against an elected government. What we did was a pro-democracy uprising. We did not rise up or attempt to take over government from an elected government. Instead, we saw that there was going to be a perpetuation of politicians-in-military-uniform occupying offices and acting in their own interests, not even in the corporate interest of the military. We rose up against them because we wanted power restored back to civilian authorities. And if you read the text of our message, alongside the regime change we wanted, it was actually to go beyond that to what had been our problem and is still our problem, which is going back to the foundational basis of governance, and that is true federalism. Some people also felt we didn’t involve Northerners, but we had people from the Middle Belt, who are also Northerners. So, it was not a coup, but an action by people of the Northern minority group alongside Southern officers, and the main reason for our action was to restore democracy and alongside restore federalism which we have moved away from. I’m not a fan of coups and I prefer Nigeria to have democratic rule.

Are you implying that you sole interest was to displace the military regime so the country could have democracy?

There were lots of attempts by Babangida to restore democracy in the country, but we were close to the dramatis personae involved and we knew that there was no intention to hand over power to the civilians. So, young officers were frustrated by this and that was why they identified me to be part of their plan. They identified and approached me in February, which was about two months to the action.

You were about the most senior officer in that coup and in the military, those junior officers must have been very courageous to convince a senior officer to join them for the uprising…

(Cuts in…) The young officers had been planning the uprising for over nine months before they approached me because they knew I was close to Gen. Babangida, a man of ideas and he liked me because I was ideas-oriented. Working as the secretary of the conference of the Chief of Army Staff and also going by the advice some of us used to give Babangida, we were clear that he was not ready for real transition to democracy. When there was need to experiment the kind of diarchy created in Egypt whereby the military will produce the head of state and the civilian will produce the prime minister, I was part of the team Babangida asked to go and understudy the system. Babangida started very well until some people from a part of the country pointed a gun at his head (indirectly) and forced him to dance to their tunes. That was when he started to lose focus. So, when the young officers approached me and I realised that what they were saying were correct, I did not have the conscience to report them. In the military, if you hear of such a plan, it is either you report it or join. But I thought that I would not be able to sleep throughout my life if I had gone to report those boys whose intention was very clear, even though they were not experienced enough because the act of coup, as you used the word earlier, is only carried out by crooks, but these boys were clean officers.

Does it mean you had to join them because of your own safety or that you believed in the cause the young officers were fighting for?

If I was thinking about my own safety, I would have gone to report them. We have lacked leadership that has vision since the days of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. So, our action was to restore Nigeria back to governance based on true federalism, the type Awolowo set in the West and Ahmadu Bello did in the North. The problem with Nigeria is that governance, since a long time, has been led by people who feel that they can be smart and they can be crafty. At best, they are what the military will call tacticians. We have never had a strategist ruling this country since Awolowo’s time and that was what we wanted to achieve. Having been well trained at the expense of the Nigerian government in the United Kingdom, likewise Saliba Mukoro, who was trained in the United States, we felt that we must return Nigeria back to what our founding fathers created. What we were aiming to correct then is still the same problem with the country now.

If the uprising, as you prefer to call it, was successful, how would you have effected the system change you spoke about?

If you read our text, you would discover that we had three things to do within 18 months. The first thing we would have done under the leadership of Saliba Mukoro, who initiated the action, was to convene a sovereign national conference and subject the outcome to plebiscite. The second thing was to organise a census with the help of some United Nations agencies and correct the injustice that previous census created. After the first two exercises, we would have conducted free and fair general elections. Both the census and the general elections would be conducted by the UN agencies.

Between the time you hatched the plot and the time you carried it out, how did you keep the meetings, conversations and other underground activities pertaining to the uprising from the prying eyes of Babangida’s intelligence team?

Like I said, I was not part of the plot initially, but I will say we kept everything from Babangida because we were very intelligent chaps. Secondly, we did not rely essentially on people in uniform as much as we relied on ex-soldiers and civilians for the action. I also took advantage of my position to ensure that Babangida did not get a wind of what we were doing and if possible, distract the attention of the authorities from what we were doing because I was very close to Babangida.

Some people would describe what you did as betrayal of the military and your boss, did you ever see that way?

You need to describe military to know if what we did was betrayal. A true military man, first and foremost, stands for the people. That was what happened in Egypt, when the military came out to defend the people. A true military man, like Jerry Rawlings, saw the corruption in Ghana and he came, told them to bring back the money or be killed. That was a military man. Secondly, a true military man respects the constitution, and he doesn’t suspend the constitution. So, who did I betray? I betrayed those who betrayed the military, in the real sense of it. I come from a tradition of those who started the military thinking. I mean Alexander the Great. He started the military concept. He was partly African and partly Greek. Why is he called the great? Because he was a great man, and one of the greatest generals. Most things we do in the military came from him. He was an African. People should make no mistake about that. The military he brought up was to defend the defenceless; stand by the people. Once you are a soldier who is loyal to a corrupt establishment, then you are not a true soldier. The problem was a struggle beyond Babangida and I. He was with a gun to his head, indirectly, protecting a system which I wanted changed. So, the issue of betrayal does not come in. I stand for the uprightness of the military.

You said ex-soldiers were recruited to partake in the uprising. How did you bring them in?

The cry for change had been there before now; not cry for regime change, but cry for the return to the path of social justice. I can’t remember how many of them we had, but we had more ex-service men than those still in service. We also had civilians. Those ex servicemen were soldiers who knew that the military government was not serving them right. Many of them had not been paid their pension. It was (former President) Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and others who started paying pensions. During the military regime, retired soldiers were hanging around in Abuja, dying. That was how they were treated when a fellow military man was in power. So, it was a set of disgruntled people who willingly joined us. We also tapped civilian criminals. They were people who were lured into crime for not having something to do. In every human being, there is some goodness. So, sometimes, it is the system that has turned some into criminals. That was why we wanted a system change. If we don’t change the structure of the system, we are just wasting our time.

Were the many bullets fired during that uprising that night meant to kill Babangida or to capture him alive?

The bullets were not fired to kill anybody, but to put aside those who were feasting on the corrupt system. What happened was that our plan leaked, so we carried out the action about two weeks before the time we should have acted. When the plot leaked, about 11 of us took pre-emptive action because we did not have enough manpower. We managed to get to one of the armoured tanks and turn the gun to fire the dormitory where soldiers guiding the president were sleeping. The shooting was not meant to necessarily hit them, but to destabilise and scare them. The firing of the gun at the dormitory gave the soldiers shell shock and destabilised them. That was what happened.

Who among you leaked the plan?

The person who leaked our plan was Col. Patrick Fortata, a one-time military aide to Gen. Mohammed Haladu, who was once a chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority. He was the one the young officers used to reach me. And because of that betrayal, he has been poor like church rats since then. He’s still alive. And he leaked it earlier. When he did that, the first thing they did to compensate him was to give him his unit, which was the unit we were to use to do our rapid deployment force for the action. He was commanding the air-borne battalion brigade in Makurdi. He was to use the air-borne to carry the unit for us to do our operation, but he leaked the information. As compensation, they gave him a very plush appointment to lead ECOMOG in peace-keeping operation. That was a lucrative assignment at that time. Thereafter, he was involved in something and he was retired. I would say he is poorer than any of us living.

After the uprising was aborted by troops loyal to Babangida, many of the plotters were arrested, tried and executed, but you escaped. Why did you, the most senior officer among them, do that?

First of all, my escape was to the Glory of God. For now, any recalling will be tantamount to self-glorification. All I can say is that I give gratitude to God for being alive. God is my protector and so, for me to start talking about how I escaped will become an egoistic thing.

It won’t be egoistic. People would like to know how you managed to escape despite the heat and the manhunt for you and others. Could you tell us?

I had to change to civilian dressing while escaping. You see, why I have always been a lover of the poor is because it was the poor people who saved us that day. Before Dolphin Estate was built, the Ilaje people inhabiting that area then really helped us. The Baale of that community said, “These people are our officers, they cannot eat our food and drink our water.” So, he called one of his sons and asked him to quickly go and buy us bread and coke. What they did for us showed the generosity of poor people. When there was a curfew, they helped a lot of our people to cross over with boat to Ebute Metta. From the coast, they helped many of our people to cross over to the University of Lagos area through canoe. So, they helped us out of Lagos Mainland.

Where was your first point of call immediately you escaped from Lagos?

It was the boundary between Lagos and Badagry, where I spent a night before I continued the movement and I found my way to the United Kingdom.

Did you have a family then?

Yes, I had. I was then married to a British woman, and I went back to my family. Even when I was in UK, I could not stay in one place but to be moving from one place to another, until Margaret Thatcher had to give a warning to Babangida. I actually enjoyed the British intelligence protection when I was there. They were very good and they supported us against the military regime.

Immediately the uprising failed, Okar escaped but when he realised that his colleagues had been arrested, he came back to surrender himself. Why didn’t you also surrender in solidarity with them?

I’m not sure that would be exactly what happened, because if I want a system change, and I’ve not achieved my objective, why would I go and surrender? I was not there to ascertain that he truly surrendered, and this is all hypothetical and speculative. For me, I couldn’t have turned myself in, because I was fighting for a cause and we had not achieved the cause, I could not go and surrender myself to those people who were upholding the wrong system and perpetrating oppression against Nigerians. I wouldn’t have done that.

Babangida was the main target of the coup, but what was your plan for the then Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Sani Abacha, who later told the nation in a broadcast that the action of the plotters was motivated by greed and selfish interest?

God is our witness and time is also our witness. Who is greedy now, Abacha or us? The plan was meant to essentially put aside those who were feasting on the corrupt system, including Abacha. Bagangida himself was a pawn, though a man of ideas. But what could he do when some people were indirectly pointing gun at his head?

Since you claim you were close to him, who were those who indirectly pointed gun at Babangida’s head?

They were people who were traditionally politicians in uniform; they were the people (late) Fela Anikulapo Kuti referred to as awon egbe (cabal). In those days, if they were not succeeding in politics, they called their military boys to take over government.

Then, Babangida was seen to be fully in charge and he was the number one citizen, does it mean that those you allege put gun at his head were his juniors?

You can be in office, but not be in power. In a relative sense, Gen. Yakubu Gowon was in office, but he was not in power. Gen. Hassan Katsina and Gen. Murtala Mohammed had the power. Gowon is a great Nigerian. Unfortunately for the country, when we have a great man in office, the power belongs to a group in the dark. That is why we pray that President Buhari does not experience this.

Who were the members of that?

It is a system thing. Of course, Abacha was one of them. They wanted to perpetuate oppressive system. People who felt that governance should always be for them alone. That was why Babangida could not do anything without Abacha’s approval.

Even though your team had a mix of armoured men, infantry men and ex-service men, but Babangida was still able to escape and ran to Abacha’s house. Are there other reasons why the coup failed?

First, there was a leakage. So, the action was pre-empted and carried out when it was not due. If the action had been carried out at the time it was to be executed, it would have been successful. Secondly, because we were very few officers, it meant we didn’t have arms. That very night, we had to plan one action to help the other action. We had to take over a military unit with pistols and from there we got the arms with which we carried out the main action. We were trained officers, so to use the arms was not an issue to us at all. Like I said, the plan got leaked and 11 officers, in less than 42 hours, had to muster the courage and prepare to continue to make sure that we were not arrested. So, it had its problems. Having said that, to the extent that we went, if we had captured Ikeja Cantonement where the reinforcement were kept, we would still have succeeded.

Was it not part of the plan to capture the cantonment?

It was part of the plan, but the person who should have led the action was the one who failed.

But you and Orkar had a disagreement over the wife of Babangida’s ADC, Col. U.K. Bello…

(Cuts in…)Myself and Mukoro, not Orkar, met Bello’s wife that night. She came out and we met her,  that was just what happened.

It was said that that was the beginning of the failure of the uprising. Who killed Bello?

The person who killed Bello is well known and that has been said before. Certainly, I wasn’t the one who killed Bello. I have said that it was a mistake to have woken Bello up when there were officers we had captured earlier at Dodan Barracks, which means that pushing Bello to the action in Dodan Barracks dominated by Hausa forces was dangerous. Bello was not part of the plotters, he was my course-mate and good friend. When it comes to duty to the people, it does not matter whether the person is my brother or not, duty is duty. I am talking about nation state, which is a man construct; I am talking about duty to the people. So, it was unfortunate that U.K. Bello and I were on different sides of the battle that night. U. K. Bello came into the action with confidence and later realised that the uprising troops were dominating the ground. He came to fight against us and he was felled by bullets while he was already on an armoured tank and moving towards us, while the sergeant who was with him ran away. The aim of the uprising was not to waste lives, but to effect system change that would engender true federalism.

Another member of your team, Lt. SOS Echendu, said he saw Babangida when he was escaping in that Peugeot 504, but he didn’t kill him because you all wanted to capture him alive. Was that not painful that one of you sighted him but could not hold him?

Echendu was a very courageous officer and he singlehandedly created destabilisation in Dodan Barracks. He is a great guy and we are in touch, but I have not heard this statement from him. He remains a very courageous Nigerian and it was in the same fight to return Nigeria to its right course.

Nigeria would be 56 in a few days. Are you saying that with the plans you claim you had, Nigeria would have been better if the uprising had succeeded?

Yes, absolutely. The issues we wanted to correct are still there. Since Rawlings coup in Ghana, that country has progressed. All the coups that have succeeded in Nigeria had not been military coups and they have never served the corporate interest of the military. They were there to enrich themselves. Civilians treated soldiers better than the military. People, who after leaving office, own many farms. Did they share the farms to soldiers? Instead, people like Shagari, Umaru Yar ‘Adua, Goodluck Jonathan did a lot for the military, including the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, unlike when military men were in power. They wouldn’t equip the military for the fear that they could be overthrown. So, they deprived the soldiers of everything. Those were not military coups; they were whom I call politicians-in-military-uniform. They were people who came into the army just for coup. They used the military. They did not develop the military when they were there.

Echendu also said the fact that he took over Dodan Barracks was what drove Babangida to Abuja to make it the seat of government. What do you think?

I was in exile, but from what I gathered, they had to rush to move the capital from Lagos to Abuja. There are other dividends of our action. Some states were created after our action and that allowed MKO to go as far as he went, because that action demystified the invisibility of certain persons and groups. When Babangida came, he tried to deal with the parasites in Kuramo Lodge. He wanted to clean the system, like the racketeering surrounding import licence, whereby someone would sit down and get an import licence and sell same to Igbo traders, but he, Babangida, was overwhelmed by the powers that be.

Looking at the outcome of the uprising, do you regret ever participating in it?

The only regret I have is that the action was seen to be against the Hausa-Fulani. The action was actually against the corrupt people or oligarchs who held Nigeria to ransom for years. They were the ones backing those elements who held Babangida hostage. But as to what those boys died for, I have no regret in the sense that as I speak now, we still need to return Nigeria to true federalism and governance established on the truth. We need system change.

You once said you didn’t fire a shot that night, how do you feel that there are still insinuations that you killed U. K. Bello that night?

I certainly did not shoot U.K. Bello. I was the commander and most commanders don’t fire shots. By the time it gets to a situation where a commander shoots, maybe he has been ambushed or he’s failing. Commanders give orders, they don’t shoot. It’s like a management structure. You don’t see the managing director doing the operations. He delegates authority and gives out the instructions. The irony of this is that most of those who did the shooting were strangers who were on duty in Dodan Barracks that night. They even told us well done. They thanked us, saying the system was not good to them and that their Ration Money Allowance was not being paid. And some of those soldiers were Hausa and Fulani soldiers. The mistake was when they started hearing the announcement that it was a coup against Hausa and that is my only regret.

Terrorists threaten to bomb UI before October 1

UI

There was tension in the University of Ibadan on Friday as a threatening message that purportedly emanated from a group, al-wilayat al-Islamiyya Gharb Afriqiyyah, was circulated among some staff of the institution and on social media platforms.

According to the message, the group threatened to bomb the school before Independence Day on October 1, 2016, saying that students and staff were their targets.

When contacted, The Director of Communication, UI, Olatunji Oladejo, dismissed the threat, saying it was the handiwork of mischievous individuals who wanted to cause commotion in the school.

Our correspondent gathered that while some lecturers got the mail through their institutional e-mail addresses, others were copied through social platforms such as Whatsapp.

In the mail, the group described the university as an embarrassment to Nigeria for bringing western education.

It was observed that security arrangement was strengthened at the school gates with scanning devices deployed while stop and search was conducted on everyone entering the school, leading to a gridlock.

The letter read in part, “You people are an embarrassment to Nigeria and are the people that brought in western education to Nigeria. You doomed this nation and in turn you all are going to be doomed. Most of you are going to die before Independence Day. You will not spend the Independence Day in peace, you and your students.

“Detonation will start going from tomorrow till Independence Day and there is nothing you can do as we are among you. Even your little searches at the gate won’t do anything. By the time we are through with you, your government will be sorry.”

Speaking on the alleged threat, Oladejo said like others, he also received the letter, while saying that it had not affected the peace of the school.

He said, “I also got it. Anyone could instigate such thing. Some people could be mischievous. Our international students are having their carnival on the campus and everywhere is peaceful. I attribute it to the handiwork of mischievous individuals and vehemently deny any commotion.”

Police Public Relations Officer of the state police command, Adekunle Ajisebutu, told our correspondent that the command had received information on the threat to lives and property on the campus and had responded appropriately.

He said, “We have received the information. The state Commissioner of Police, Samuel Adegbuyi, working in concert with the other security agencies, has put in place all necessary security arrangement to forestall such an ugly incident.

“We have deployed our intelligence officers to provide adequate security in the school. As it is, it is still a rumour but we don’t want to take things for granted and because of this, we have provided adequate security, not only for the school, but for the people of the state.

“We enjoin members of the public to go about their lawful businesses and to be law-abiding.”

Jonathan could have given $20m to Patience, says lawyer

Former President Goodluck Jonathan

A self-professed solicitor to Dame Patience Jonathan, Mr. Charles Ogboli, says the $20m found in the five accounts traced to Patience could have been given to her by her husband, former President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said this on Friday during a breakfast television show titled, ‘Sunrise Daily’ onChannels Television.

Ogboli, who contested for the Delta State governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2014, said Patience had told him about all that transpired, adding that her case was nothing but a witch-hunt.

When asked where Patience could have got the money from, the lawyer said $20m (N8bn) was not too much for a woman whose husband served as a deputy governor, governor, Vice-President and President within a period of 16 years.

Ogboli confirmed an exclusive story by The PUNCH that Patience’s personal account, with a balance of about $5m, which is domiciled in Skye Bank, had been frozen.

He said, “They have gone ahead to put a no debit order on her personal account which is unfair. My question is this: Being a former first lady and being a woman whose husband was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State, thereafter governor, thereafter Vice-President then President, are you now telling me, if we want to go through the figures her husband received in salaries, estacodes and allowances received in all these years, her husband would not be able to give his wife money, even if it is $20m? If we want to fight, let us fight justly.”

Ogboli, who initially claimed to be a human rights activist before later confessing to be an aide to Patience, told the Channels TVpresenters that Patience had sometimes in 2013, instructed the then Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa, to open domiciliary accounts for herself and her late mother.

He said Patience was, however, surprised to find out that one account was opened in her name at Skye Bank while four company accounts were opened.

He added that platinum cards were given to Patience with which to make withdrawals.

Ogboli said Patience had instructed Dudafa and the bank to correct the error but they refused to do so for over two years until the accounts were finally frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The lawyer said, “Her personal name was on first card while the other two cards had her mother’s name. Her mother used two of the accounts for business. The fact is that the names on the cards were supposed to be the names of her mother and herself.”

Ogboli, however, distanced Patience from the threats by a militant group to bomb the NNPC Towers if the restriction on Patience’s account was not lifted.

Meanwhile, the Civil Liberties Organisation has distanced itself from a protest held in Port Harcourt in support of Patience Jonathan, saying the protesters who stormed the Port Harcourt office of the EFCC were not members of CLO.

The CLO said in a statement by its President, Uche Durueke, that it would take steps to unravel those behind the embarrassment and impersonation.

“I hereby assure the bona fide members of the organisation and the public that CLO will not condescend so low to embark on such an infantile protest,” the statement read in part.