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.

Supporters of national assets sale are economic predators —Sani

Senator Shehu Sani

The senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, has described those calling for the sale of national assets as economic predators.

Senate President Bukola Saraki had on Tuesday recommended the sale of some national assets and the utilisation of the proceeds for the development of infrastructure.

Saraki had said, “The executive must raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up foreign reserves. This will calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilise the economy.

“The measures should include part sale of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Holdings; reduction of government’s shares in upstream oil joint venture operation, government stake in financial institutions…”

The National Economic Council, comprising of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the 36 state governors, said on Friday that the Federal Government had endorsed plans to sell some national assets as part of efforts to address the current economic recession in the country.

But Sani, in a Facebook post on Friday, tagged those backing the call for the sale of the country’s assets as “economic predators.”

He said, “The call for the sale of our national assets and investments is condemnable. The proponents (of the call) are economic predators and parasites who want to profit from the recession. Nigerians must resist and rise up against this heist and roguery.

“They don’t want to buy the Ajaokuta Steel Company because it is not profitable; they don’t want to invest in solid minerals, agriculture or science and technology, they don’t want to invest in the exploration of oil in the Chad basin or Benue trough. They want to buy NLNG and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Many but not all Nigeria’s captains of industry are fronts for captains of politics.”

Recession: Governors lavish billions of naira on bulletproof cars for selves, wives

There are indications that some governors, their wives and deputy governors have continued to ride in expensive bulletproof vehicles in spite of the biting economic recession in the country.

Saturday PUNCH investigations revealed that the number of bulletproof vehicles in the convoy of 14 state governors, their deputies and wives is close to 100 while the citizens have been struggling to enjoy daily meals.

Findings by our correspondents revealed that the average cost of an armoured vehicle is about N75m. The cost could be more, depending on the level of armour recommended or requested by the buyer, and such depends on the location of use and the type of threat the owner is guarding against.

According to JPA Armouring Group, an armoured vehicle manufacturer in Germany, the cost of a bulletproof 2014 Lexus LX 570 starts from €192,000 (N89.3m), an armoured 2015 Toyota Prado starts from €125,000 (N58.1), while the cost of an armoured Toyota Land Cruiser starts from €149,000 (N69.2m), excluding shipping costs.

Another armoured vehicle manufacturer, Texas Armoring Corporation, in the United States, says armoured vehicles needed in West African countries tend to be more expensive and buyers from the region are often advised to adopt the T6 protection level because high-powered rifles are the predominant weapons used by criminals there.

Interestingly, many governors that have yet to pay their workers’ salaries for many months and who are blaming their inability to pay them on the dwindling monthly federal allocation have enough money to buy these vehicles for themselves and the use of their wives.

At the beginning of the year, the Federal Government and states recorded a drop in allocation from N387.77bn in December 2015 to N370.38bn in January 2016 when oil prices fell from $43.4 per barrel to $39.

In March 2016, allocations from the Federation Account to the three tiers of government declined by a whopping N18.2bn – from N299.74bn to N281.5bn, according to the Federation Account Allocation Committee.

But in spite of this, it was learnt that some of the governors, their deputies and wives still maintain ostentatious lifestyles.

Saturday PUNCH investigations showed that Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, and his deputy, Mr. Nuhu Gidado, have three bulletproof cars. A security source attached to the state Government House told one of our correspondents that while the governor uses two bulletproof cars, his deputy uses one.

The source said, “I can confirm that Governor Abubakar has two bulletproof cars while the deputy governor has one. The governor inherited two bulletproof Prado sport utility vehicles from his predecessor, Isa Yuguda.

“But just about a month ago, a new bulletproof car was acquired by the state government. The newly acquired bulletproof car is a Mercedes Benz 4matic. This car has yet to be put into use.”

The security source, however, said the governor and his deputy might need the bulletproof cars because of the precarious security situation in the state.

He said, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with the governor and his deputy using bulletproof cars. Definitely, they need these special cars because of the security situation in the country.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the Bauchi State Governor on Media, Sabo Mohammed, admitted that both Abubakar and his deputy, Gidado are currently using bulletproof vehicles but said the cars were inherited from the past administration.

He, however, denied the recent purchase of a brand new Mercedes Benz 4matic bulletproof car by the state government.

When asked about the newly acquired bulletproof car by the state government, he laughed saying “how did you know that?”

“I can tell you without mincing words that the state has not bought any new bulletproof car for the governor. It is not true. I only read that of Kogi State recently but not in Bauchi,” Mohammed said.

Also, Saturday PUNCH learnt that there are no fewer than six bulletproof vehicles in the fleet of the Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola.

A security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, listed the vehicles as three Mercedes Benz product, a bus, G-Class, and a 4matic and two Toyota Land cruisers.

It was also gathered that the state deputy governor, Mrs. Titi Laoye-Tomori, has one armoured Toyota Land cruiser.

But the Consultant on Information to Osun State Government, Mr. Sunday Akere, said he doubted that the governor had armoured cars in his fleet.

He said, “I can’t confirm that the governor has bulletproof cars. If at all there are bulletproof cars among his vehicles, they might be the ones he met in the Government House before he became the governor.”

Findings also showed that Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, has at least four bulletproof vehicles. This is in addition to four others used by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, and the wife of the governor, Dr. Lynda Ayade.

Investigations revealed that the bulletproof cars in the pool of the governor’s convoy include a 2015 Range Rover Vogue, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (2015), BMW 7 series (2015) and Toyota Sequoia (2012).

The deputy governor uses a Range Rover Vogue (2015) and a BMW 5 series (2014), while the governor’s wife has a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (2015) and Lexus jeep (2010) bulletproof vehicles.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Christian Ita, did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his mobile telephone.

A security expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that it was imperative for the governor and his deputy to use bulletproof vehicles because of criminal activities in some parts of the state.

He listed dangerous spots where the governor would, as a matter of necessity, visit periodically to include Akpabuyo and Bakassi local government areas where activities of militants had posed security threat for some time.

Findings also showed that two bulletproof Ford Expedition SUVs were among the fleet of the Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Masari.

It was learnt from a source in the government that the two vehicles were bought last year shortly after the governor’s inauguration.

The source said the condition of Nigerian roads and the general insecurity in the country might have informed the governor’s choice of the vehicles.

Investigation, however, revealed that the governor’s three wives were not permanently resident in Katsina, but stayed in Kaduna and Abuja and used to visit the state during important celebrations.

Findings further showed that no official vehicle was attached to the three wives, but it was learnt that they use three vehicles, namely: Mercedes Benz “C’’ Class, Honda (End of Discussion) and Peugeot 607.

A Government House source told one of our correspondents that the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, and his wife, Olukemi, have three bulletproof SUVs.

He said, “The governor and his wife often use the bulletproof vehicles when they travel out of the state or to attend social and official functions.

“The governor was initially using a Toyota bulletproof car during his first term, but later added the Lexus Jeep to his fleet after he was inaugurated for a second term in office.”

The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, and his wife were said to have two bulletproof vehicles in their fleet.

The Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Jide Orintusin, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the governor was using the Toyota Land Cruiser bulletproof car he inherited from his predecessor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu.

Orintusin, however, said that buying a new bulletproof car was not the priority of the governor now.

He said, “We are interested in the well-being of our people especially in this economic recession that is affecting the country. We do things in order of importance; the happiness of our people is our concern.”

Similarly, it was gathered that two armoured Mercedes Benz G-wagons were in the fleet of the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

Of the about five exotic cars the Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, is using, the Range Rover and E-Class Mercedes Benz car among them were suspected to be bulletproof cars. His wife, Omolewa’s Lexus SUV and Prado SUV were also suspected to be bulletproof vehicles.

The Governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, declined to comment on whether any or all of the vehicles had bulletproof facility.

“For security reasons, I cannot answer that question,” he said.

In Benue State, Saturday PUNCH found that the number of bulletproof vehicles currently available for the use of the state governor, Samuel Ortom, his deputy and their spouses are 12.

One of our correspondents gathered that while Ortom and his wife are using five of the cars, the deputy governor and his spouse use three.

A source at the Government House said the immediate past governor, Gabriel Suswam, left six bulletproof cars for Ortom, while Suswam inherited two from the erstwhile governor, George Akume.

Investigation revealed that the model and year of each of the bulletproof vehicles belonging to  Ortom are 2012 Mercedes Benz S550; 2015 Mercedes S550; two 2014 BMW 7 series; 2015 Lexus LX; two Toyota Land Cruiser and two 2013 Escalade.

A Government House source said that each of the bulletproof vehicles cost between N70m and N120m.

The source added that Ortom bought two of the vehicles in addition to the eight purchased by Suswam.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Terver Akase, declined to comment on the bulletproof vehicles.

He said, ‘The question you put before me is purely security matter. Therefore, I cannot comment on that because if I do, it means I am exposing my boss to danger. It is not proper to ask me to tell you what kind of cars my governor is using. So, it is not right for me to disclose such information.”

The situation is the same in Enugu, Abia and Anambra states. It was gathered that the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has three armoured cars in his fleet. His Abia State counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu, has two armoured cars in his fleet.

Ikpeazu, whose convoy moves without siren, has one 2016 LX Lexus car, a Toyota land cruiser XXRL 2016 and Toyota Land Cruiser XXL 2015, among others.

Reacting to the development, the Special Assistant to the Enugu State Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Louis Amoke, said Ugwuanyi had been using the vehicles he inherited from the previous administration in the state.

Amoke said the governor had not bought any official vehicle for himself since he came into office.

He added that the need for bulletproof vehicles was a security matter that concerns the Office of the Governor, and not necessarily the holder of the office.

James Eze, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Obiano on Media, neither answered calls made to his mobile telephone nor replied a text message sent to him.

Investigation also showed that Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has 10 vehicles in his convoy.

A Government House source said eight of the vehicles are Toyota Prado SUVs.

It was gathered that the governor’s main vehicle, a Toyota Landcruiser 2014 model, and his backup car, are armoured.

It was also learnt that Governor Mohammed Bindow of Adamawa State and his Delta State counterpart, Ifeanyi Okowa, have many armoured vehicles in their fleet.

While a source said Bindow has two bulletproof Lexus LX cars in his fleet, Okowa is said to have four.

One of our correspondents gathered that of Okowa’s four bulletproof cars, three were bought in 2015 after his inauguration.

His wife, Edith, is also said to be using a bulletproof Lexus 570 jeep, which Okowa was said to have bought before he was elected as governor.

While giving the breakdown of the numbers, our sources said the governor has Benz 550 and Lexus 570 Jeep as official bulletproof vehicles.

An ex-security aide to a former governor in the state said two other bulletproof cars aside the four mentioned by Okowa’s aides were usually stationed in Abuja and Lagos.

The Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, said he was at a meeting and could not speak on the issue.

Security chiefs in the state also declined comment. They described the issue as classified information.

But the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, explained that the vehicles were not meant for luxury but to provide security for the governor. He explained that presidents, governors and ministers are expected to have bulletproof vehicles to safeguard their lives.

Aniagwu added that the governor did not have more than the number of bulletproof vehicles he was required to have, but declined to give the number.

Yohanna Mathias, Chief Press Secretary to Bindow, said visitors to the state are being chauffeured in one car because the former administration left only two Toyota Prado (bulletproof) SUVs, two Hilux vans and one 406 Peugeot vehicle, which it uses to convey guests.

He also said the wife of the Governor does not have any bulletproof vehicle assigned to her, adding that the case was pathetic because the previous administration had boasted of over 60 vehicles, but that the current administration had inherited not more than seven vehicles.

A security expert, Patrick Agbam, says governors do not need more than two bulletproof vehicles in their fleet even if the economy is prosperous.

Considering the increase in poverty and hunger, he added that it was immoral for the governors to have spent huge amount of public funds on acquisition of bulletproof vehicles.

He said, “I don’t think the current economic reality requires governors to spend so much on acquiring bulletproof vehicles. I wouldn’t know how their security advisers convinced them to acquire more than two bulletproof vehicles.

“In security analysis, when poverty and hunger increase, there are bound to be increase in security threats, but that doesn’t mean they should spend so much money to acquire such vehicles. They could have used the money to cater for the citizens.

“If they do this, hunger will decrease and when hunger decreases, there will be decrease in security threat. Governance is about serving people. Even if we have a buoyant economy, governors and their deputies shouldn’t have more than one bulletproof vehicle each.”

An economist, Dr. Babatunde Abraham, referred to the governors’ action as economic sabotage.

He said, “It is not only when vandals destroy pipelines that we have economic sabotage. Spending state resources extravagantly is also economic sabotage. Even if there is no hunger, it is wasteful for any governor to have more than one bulletproof car, if they need it at all.”

Budget padding: Jibrin risks six months in jail/suspension

Abdulmumin Jibrin

The former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, risks six months in jail, suspension or a fine of N200 if convicted of allegations of misconduct.

Jibrin is currently being investigated by the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges for acts of misconduct following several public utterances considered to be targeted at bringing the leadership and members of the House to public ridicule.

The Ethics Committee began hearing into the matter on Friday with a testimony from the sponsor of the motion that led to the hearing, Emmanuel Orker-Jev.

Orker-Jev, in his testimony Jibrin’s utterances maligned and defamed the House, as well as incited members of the Nigerian public against the members.

He also said he was constrained to sponsor the motion after several of his colleagues approached him with evidence that Jibrin’s allegations not “only offended them, but also infringed on the integrity of the House as an institution.”

The lawmaker, had in his motion which was adopted by the House at plenary, accused Jibrin of several breaches of the privileges of the House of Representatives, members of the House, as well as provisions of the National Assembly Legislative Houses (powers and privileges) Act.

Orker-Jev tendered printed evidence of reported statements, where Jibrin accused the House of Representatives of corruption.

He cited some of Jibrin’s utterances as captured on the pages of newspapers to include: “As it stands today, these corrupt elements have infected the House, making the institution a hub of systemic corruption.

“I repeat, there is massive individual and systemic corruption in the House of Representatives. And all Nigerians have a responsibility to avail themselves of this rare opportunity to flush out corruption in the House.”

Orker-Jev explained that based on provisions of section 24 of the Legislative Powers Act, if found guilty, Jibrin is liable on conviction to “12 months in imprisonment or a fine of N200.”

This, he explained, is if the matter is handled by the Office of the Attorney-General but in the case of the House of Representatives, he could be suspended for six months.

In response to a question on whether there was a precedence, he cited the case of a former member, Patrick Ogbahiagbon, whom he explained was pardoned by his colleagues after he apologised for making disparaging remarks about the House in the media.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Committee, Ossai Ossai, promised that the committee would give all parties a fair hearing, noting that committee members were not out to intimidate anyone.

However, Jibrin earlier gave conditions under which he would appear before the committee.

According to him, he would only appear before the committee if civil society organisations, labour unions, student groups and members of the public are allowed to observe proceedings.

Jibrin had in a letter dated September 23, 2016, addressed to the  committee Chairman, said he was surprised that instead of the committee addressing the allegations against the Speaker and those accused of corrupt practices, he was being put on trial.

On allegations levelled against him, the former Appropriations Committee chairman said, “May I draw your attention to the fact that the privileges of the House and Members do not accord the former and latter immunity to being exposed if involved in corrupt practices and equally, exposing budget fraud and corruption does not amount to misconduct.

“These are all service to the nation worthy of commendation. I strongly believe that you will be doing a great service to the country if you concentrate on investigating the privileges of Nigerians that Speaker Dogara and few other members have grossly breached and further investigate the misconduct therein.”

Meanwhile, human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has demanded the immediate suspension of the activities of the House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges which began hearing of an allegation against Jibrin, his client.

Stating in a letter dated September 23, 2016, Falana said investigating Jibrin contradicts the standing orders of the House.

In the personal letter Jibrin wrote to Dogara, he maintained that his allegations of corruption against the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Yusuff Lasun, Whip Alhassan Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor three other leaders of the House remain valid.

He explained that he was in pain and deep agony as he watched the Speaker, whom he said had a soiled reputation presiding over the House on Wednesday.

According to him, it was another bout of mental torment when he watched the Speaker taking advantage of the office to lie in what he referred to as a desperate bid to attract public sympathy, “paint me in bad light and use the institution of the House to cover the fraud you perpetrated in the 2016 budget and other monumental corrupt practices.”

He stressed that he was not surprised that rather than address the allegations of budget fraud and corruption levelled against him and three principal officers of the House and open the matter up for discussions, the Speaker “embarked on a wild goose chase.”

Rights Group Asks Buhari To Stop ‘Political Persecution’ Of Nnamdi Kanu

A pro-democracy Non-Governmental Organization under the aegis of Human Rights Writers Association, HURIWA, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to end what it calls “persistent political persecution” of Mr Nnamdi Kanu, the Director of the Europe based Radio Biafra and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. The group also called for negotiated and peaceful resolution through constructive dialogues of the agitations by some youth for the actualization of the state of Biafra.

Nnamdi Kanu

Nnamdi Kanu

HURIWA, in a statement jointly endorsed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affaires Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said the reported success of yesterday’s “stay-at-home” order by IPOB, and its affiliates in the South East, was a “clear demonstration that it was now more than ever urgent that meaningful and constructive dialogues towards a peaceful resolution to the groundswell of agitations for self-determination are started.”

It said the prolonged detention under dehumanizing conditions of the founder of the Radio Biafra by the president amounted to the use of psychological and physical torture against voices of dissent. “The pattern of unduly overstretched detention and willful disrespect to the reported bail orders represents a serious breach of the human rights of the detained leader of IPOB and an abuse of power particularly since it is a notorious fact that twice the government disobeyed a binding bail orders granted in favor of Nnamdi Kanu by competent courts of law, “he said.

The group submitted that under the constitutional norms which we operate the head of the executive branch of government is obliged to comply with binding decisions of competent courts of law just as it further stated that under section 36 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria all accused persons are presumed innocent until a contrary determination is made by the court of law.