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Hong Kong airport reopens, official China newspaper urges end to violence

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Hong Kong airport reopens, official China newspaper urges end to violence

Hong Kong’s airport resumed operations on Wednesday, rescheduling hundreds of flights that had been disrupted over the past two days as protesters clashed with riot police in a deepening crisis in the Chinese-controlled city.

Ten weeks of increasingly violent clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters, angered by a perceived erosion of freedoms, have plunged the Asian financial hub into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

A few dozen protesters remained at the airport on Wednesday while workers scrubbed it clean of blood and debris from overnight. Check-in counters reopened to queues of hundreds of weary travelers who had waited overnight for their flights.

Police condemned violent acts by protesters overnight and said on Wednesday a large group had “harassed and assaulted a visitor and a journalist”. Some protesters said they believed one of those men was an undercover Chinese agent, while another was confirmed as a reporter from China’s Global Times newspaper.

Five people were detained in the latest disturbances, police said, bringing the number of those arrested since the protests began in June to more than 600.

Operations at the airport were seriously disrupted as riot police used pepper spray to disperse thousands of black-clad protesters.

Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said on Wednesday it had obtained an interim court injunction to stop people from obstructing airport operations. It said protesters could only demonstrate in designated areas.

Dicky, a 35-year-old protester at the airport for more than two days, said protesters would obey the injunction if it meant they had to leave, despite anger felt towards the government and the police, plus triad gangs who have been blamed for attacking some protesters.

“We saw the government arrested many people, many are injured, some committed suicide. We will continue to fight for what we deserve otherwise all of that would have been in vain,” he said, declining to give his full name.

In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump said the Chinese government was moving troops to the border with Hong Kong and urged calm.

He described events in Hong Kong as tricky but said he hoped it would work out for everybody, including China, and “for liberty” without anyone getting hurt or killed.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the city had been pushed into a state of “panic and chaos”.

China condemned some protesters for using dangerous tools to attack police, saying the clashes showed “sprouts of terrorism”. The protests represent one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012, reports Reuters.

In a potentially ominous sign, a front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper said on Wednesday that using the “sword of the law to stop violence and restore order is overwhelmingly the most important and urgent task for Hong Kong”.

Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that enshrined some autonomy for Hong Kong when it returned to China in 1997.

The protests began in opposition to a now-suspended bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects for trial in mainland China but have swelled into wider calls for democracy.

‘ACT NOW’

Flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways published a half-page advertisement in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Wednesday pledging its support for the government and calling for the resumption of the rule of law and social order.

“Rule of law is the cornerstone of prosperity and for people to live and work in peace. We have to act now to oppose violence, to resume the peace, and to maintain the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” it said.

Cathay’s largest shareholder, Swire Pacific, said in an advertisement in the same paper that it supported the carrier’s “zero tolerance on illegal activity”.

China’s aviation regulator demanded last week that Cathay suspend personnel who engaged in or supported protests in Hong Kong from staffing flights into its airspace. The carrier later suspended two pilots.

Property developers Henderson Land Development, Cheung Kong Holdings and Sun Hung Kai Holdings also took out newspaper advertisement in support of the government on Wednesday.

ISSUES AT STAKE

“To do a protest you have to get people’s attention. Protests at the airport can let the whole world know what is happening in Hong Kong,” said Canadian tourist Jason Grafstrom.

Check-in operations at the airport were suspended late on Tuesday afternoon, a day after an unprecedented shutdown. Thousands of peaceful protesters had swarmed the arrivals and departures halls earlier on Tuesday, chanting, singing and waving banners.

Some protesters used luggage trolleys to blockade the doors to customs checkpoints. Protesters scuffled with police and several police vehicles were blocked amid heated scenes later on Tuesday night, according to Reuters witnesses.

A policeman was seen drawing his gun at one point.

The United Nations human rights commissioner, Michele Bachelet, urged Hong Kong authorities to exercise restraint and investigate evidence that tear gas was fired at protesters in ways banned under international law.

China responded by saying her comments sent the wrong signal to what it described as violent criminal offenders.

As Hong Kong’s political crisis deepens, China denied a request for two U.S. Navy warships to visit Hong Kong in the coming weeks, U.S. officials said on Tuesday. One official said no specific reason was given.

Forward Keys, a flight data company, said the crisis had deterred people from making travel plans to the city, citing a 4.7 percent fall in long-haul bookings to Hong Kong between June 16 and Aug. 9 compared with the same period last year.

Statements of apology from protesters were displayed in the airport on Wednesday, promising to allow passengers to depart, to assist medical staff to carry out their duties and not to hinder the work of the press.

“We are not afraid of facing the issues directly…only afraid of losing your support to the whole movement due to our mistake, and that you give up on fighting.”

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Buhari expresses anguish over Boko Haram’s execution of aid workers in Borno

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Buhari expresses anguish over Boko Haram’s execution of aid workers in Borno

President Muhammadu Buhari is saddened by the reported execution of four aid workers in the North-East by terrorists.

The presidency, in a statement on Saturday, said Buhari condemned the killings.

However, Buhari made reassurances of his regime defeating the terrorists.

“The defeat of evil by good is inevitable, no matter the pyrrhic victory evildoers seem to win”, a part of the statement read.

It added: “The President feels saddened by the claimed development, and commiserates with the family and loved ones of the aid workers, who had offered themselves to serve humanity at grave risks.

“The aid workers had been abducted near Damasak, Borno State, in July, and had been held despite all efforts to secure their release, till their alleged execution.”

It quoted the President in his own words, saying: “Evil will always be defeated by good at the end of the day.

“Whatever seeming victory evil records, eventually rebounds on the evildoer. We are resolved to beat evil in this land, and we remain unrelenting till we achieve it.”

Buhari called on all insurgents to quit terrorism.

The statement was signed by his media aide, Mr Femi Adesina.

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‘Not my prime minister’, protesters march in London against Johnson

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‘Not my prime minister’, protesters march in London against Johnson

Several hundred noisy protesters marched through central London on Friday to protest against Britain’s election result, chanting “Boris Johnson: Not My Prime Minister” and “Boris, Boris, Boris: Out, Out, Out”.

The protesters, brandishing signs that read “Defy Tory (Conservative) Rule” and “Refugees Welcome”, walked at speed from outside Johnson’s Downing Street residence to Trafalgar Square and on to the theatre district, blocking traffic and drawing a heavy police presence, reports Reuters.

Johnson’s Conservatives won Thursday’s election by a large margin. On Friday he called for “closure” over the Brexit divisions that have riven the United Kingdom for the past three and a half years.

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Lawyers’ attack on hospital leaves 3 dead

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Lawyers’ attack on hospital leaves 3 dead

It was a horrific sight when dozens of lawyers attacked the Punjab Institute of Cardiology in Pakistan in an escalation of a feud that started last month in a dispute over the care of a lawyer’s relative.

Three patients died during Wednesday’s incident after they were left unattended while others, including attendants and nurses, were injured when lawyers went amok to settle a score between their group and doctors who took part in a brawl at the same hospital last month, reports ABC News.

“They came prepared,” and had planned for a fight, Dr. Salman Haseeb, President of the Punjab Young Doctors Association, said.

The previous attack on the hospital was repulsed by hospital security, but this time, “the lawyers overwhelmed us by their sheer numbers,” he said.

As a result, the emergency room, wards and other parts of the hospital were ransacked, causing a loss of Rs 70 million ($989,000).

“We called everyone for help and threw the lawyers out,” Haseeb said.

While Asim Cheema, President of the Lahore Bar Association, expressed remorse over the incident, he said that the lawyers’ protest was initially peaceful until doctors allegedly started throwing stones at them as they walked into the institute. He said the lawyers were simply retaliating, but he did not explain the deaths nor the thousands of dollars in damage to the equipment caused by the lawyers.

Doctors disputed his account, who said that the lawyers “came prepared” with the intention to ransack the institute and “to attack the doctors.”

The initial fight took place in November when a group of lawyers came to the hospital for a medical consultation for one of the lawyers’ mother, according to Haseeb. Doctors told ABC News that the lawyers went to pick up medication from the institute, but refused to wait in line and jumped the queue. After being denied the medicine and being forced to leave, violence broke out.

Lahore government official Kamran Ali, according to Reuters, said the lawyers become violent after doctors shared videos on social media of beating the lawyers up.

A country-wide strike was observed Friday by lawyers to protest the arrest of 40 people in connection with the incident.

Their cases have been registered under various charges, including terrorism and unintentional murder by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan.

Zeeshan Asghar, the investigating police officer, said that the “charges against the lawyers are being investigated.”

Eyewitnesses allege they saw inhuman scenes that day, with people running for protection or trying to protect their patients from harm’s way.

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58-year-old National Grid collapses twice in 3 days

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58-year-old National Grid collapses twice in 3 days

…grid restored after collapses hit 13 times in the year

 

Major parts of Nigeria were y e s t e r d a y plunged into five hours of blackout as the 58-year old National Transmission System also known as national grid suffered a collapse, again, for the second time in three days. The collapse, which occurred around 1:09 PM on Friday, was the 13th system failure between January 1 and December 13, 2019.

Though the grid was, according to checks by Saturday Telegraph, restored at about 18:01 hours on Friday, the major parts of the country were thrown into blackout for over four hours that the restoration works were being carried out by engineers from the Transmission Comoany of Nigeria (TCN). One of the 11 power distribution companies, the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC), however, confirmed the collapse on its Twitter handle on Friday. “Dear Customer, at exactly 1309hrs we experienced another system collapse affecting parts of the country.

TCN team is working to restore supply. Please, bear with us as we expect supply soon,” the utility company said. The Electriciry Company of Nigeria (ECN) in 1961 – 58 years ago – completed a 132 KV transmission line linking Lagos to Ibadan via Shagamu, in 1965, this line was extended to Oshogbo, Benin and Ughelli to form the Western System. The phones of the Managing Director of TCN, Usman Gur Mohammed, and Spokesperson for the company, Mrs. Ndidi Mbah, rang out when our correspondent called them to seek clarifications on the collapse.

A source at the company told this newspaper that the partial collapse may not be the last for the year. This, he said, was because the incessant collapses experienced by the grid were caused majorly by the obsolete nature of the national installation. “The grid was constructed over 50 years ago and since then it lacked major engineering Turn Around Maintenance (TAM). Asides the on-and-off partial maintenance, the grid will need a total overhaul to end the incessant collapse,” he said. The Electricity Consumer Protection Forum had also blamed the incessant collapse of the national grid on obsolete power transmission and distribution equipment across the country. Its National Coordinator, Mr Adeola Samuel- Ilori, made the assertion in an interview. Samuel-Ilori said that the electricity end users were, according to Samuel-Ilori, the worst hit by the epileptic power supply as they had to spend their hard earned resources in seeking for alternative power supply to their homes and businesses. “The frequent collapse of the grid, these days, are factors of many things which include obsolete lines, materials still in place and non-investment in that area.

“The Transmission Company of Nigeria should be asked why such equipment is not replaced despite the intervention funds supplied by the African Development Bank (AfDB),’’ he said. According to him, the …grid restored after collapses hit 13 times in the year privatisation process has not yielded the desired result due to the non-performance of the transmission and distribution layers as well as their failure to invest in equipment.

He said that the Forum just received a complaint from a community in Ifako- Gbagada, saying that their transformer, which recently packed up, is 30 years old. “Yet, the distribution company is not ready to invest in buying another one. “Such obsolete transformers can do wrong feedback which may lead to grid collapse and we have many of them like that across the country,’’ Samuel-Ilori said.

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2023 presidency divides northern leaders

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2023 presidency divides northern leaders

The battle for 2023 presidency is currently leading to division among the Northern leaders over where the presidency should go to despite the insistence of some gladiators that the North must retain power beyond 2023. Saturday Telegraph exclusively gathered that while prominent leaders of the apex Northern group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) as well as the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), are insisting on North producing the presidency, some groups of people in the North are looking toward the South producing President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor on May 29, 2023. It would be recalled that the acting chairman of ACF, Alhaji Musa Liman Kwande, while speaking in Lafia, Nassarawa State capital, last month declared that Northerners would vote for only a presidential candidate of Northern origin in 2023 irrespective of the political party he belongs to. “I am expressing my opinion as a full-fledged Northerner and a citizen of Nigeria and not that of ACF. Northern Nigerians who are tested and trusted should contest for any political office with anybody from any part of Nigeria and the people should exercise their democratic franchise to vote for their candidate of choice,” he said.

In what seem to be a total support of the Northern agenda for 2023 presidency, the National President of the AYCF, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, during an exclusive interview published by New Telegraph on Thursday said Alhaji Kwande is just affirming what he (Shettima) said many months ago that the North would produce the next president. He said: “Did he say anything different from what I said before? Was I not the one who started it? Do you think I would just come out and say something I am not sure of? It is not possible, and that is why I will advise all political parties to zone their presidential tickets to the North. “Any political party that makes the mistake of presenting a southerner as presidential candidate in 2023 is wasting its time.

“The North will massively go one way, so I will advise the various political parties to present a Northern candidate. My argument is based on the fact that rotation of the presidency was jettisoned in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan. So, if President Muhammadu Buhari eventually completes his second term in 2023, the North would only have had nine years, while the South would have had 15 years.”

Saturday Telegraph gathered from multiples sources that among those being considered for 2023 presidency in the North are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna) and Simon Lalong (Plateau); former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and former Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. The above options from the North is based on the calculation of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), zoning the presidency to the North. But the North is also looking beyond the two major parties as they might likely look for another alternative platform if APC and PDP did not zone their presidential candidate to the North. Confirming the possibility of the North seeking another platform to actualize the 2023 presidential aspiration, Shettima said: “There are other political parties, so we will look for an alternative platform without considering the size of the party. By the way, what makes you think that people will go for APC or PDP? Think beyond that. We are thinking of an alternative beyond APC and PDP and we will get there.”

But despite preference for a Northern candidate by the power bloc in the North, Saturday Telegraph exclusively gathered that some Northern leaders believe the South should be given consideration in 2023 and to actualise their aim, they have started shopping for a candidate from the South to replace President Buhari, on May 29, 2023.

The move according to a reliable source, who is a member of ACF, is to ensure that an alternative plan is put in place to protect the interest of the region if the leading political parties zone the presidency to South. The source said though some Northern leaders are in support of the North having another shot at the presidency in 2023, the calculation may change as some personalities in the Northern have started working toward ensuring that a Southerner, who can be trusted in protecting the interest of the North, succeeds President Buhari in 2023.

He said those rooting for Southern candidacy has narrowed their choice to the South-West and three names are already in the calculation. Those being considered for 2023 presidency according to him are; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, but noted that Fayemi is more favourable to the North than others due to his religion and clean record. He also did not rule out the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as one of the contenders for 2023 presidency. He said: “The North is interested in producing President Buhari’s successor in 2023 and they have started working toward it actualizing that dream. But in recent time, some Northern leaders have started thinking toward supporting the South for 2023 presidency and they have started searching for a candidate they can trust and they know will protect North’s interest. “South-East and South- South is out of the North calculation.

The North is going to work with a candidate from the South-West. At the moment, the North is considering Fayemi and Fashola while Osinbajo is also in the calculation. But among the three of them, Fayemi has an upper edge.” Speaking exclusively to Saturday Telegraph yesterday on 2023 presidency, an elder statesman and founding member of ACF, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said it is too early to be talking about which zone should produce presidency between the North and South. “We are in 2019 and there is still plenty of time before 2023 elections. For me, I can’t comment on the issue of 2023 presidency now because it is still far,” he said. Also speaking to Saturday Telegraph, the National Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Yinusa Tanko, kicked against a particular section of the country laying claim to the presidency.

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EDO APC CRISIS:Ize-Iyamu declares for APC amid tight security

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EDO APC CRISIS:Ize-Iyamu declares for APC amid tight security

Defiantly, a faction of the Edo State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday held what it called a ‘mega rally’ in Benin, the state capital, through which it received into its fold, the former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2016 election, Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu and his supporters.

However, the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party were conspicuously absent at the rally. In a move which political observers described as an apparent response, the Edo State Government yesterday placed a total ban on political rallies, demonstrations and processions in the state, citing rising security concerns occasioned by the spike in protests around Benin metropolis. But the ‘mega rally’ welcoming Ize-Iyamu to the party, which was attended by some APC leaders, elders, members, support groups, was held in Ize-Iyamu’s residence at Ugbor Government Reservation Area (GRA), amid tight security by armed mobile and regular policemen.

Initially billed to hold at the Garrick Memorial Secondary School, the venue had to be changed due to the last minute suspension order by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, following violent clashes by youths loyal to the Oshiomhole on one hand and those of the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on the other. Former deputy governor of the state, Dr. Pius Odubu; factional state chairman of the party, Col. David Imuse; Chief Lucky Imasuen, Rep member, Johnson Oghuma, members of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) and several other chieftains of the party, were among those present at the venue. Meanwhile, in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, the state government expressed concerns over actions capable of breaching public peace in the wake of plans by those it called mischief-makers to organise an unauthorised rally in defiance of the directives of the IGP.

The government warned all property owners that any venue used for activities in breach of its orders shall have its right of occupancy immediately revoked and forfeited to the Edo State Government, noting that it will not allow any person to turn the state into a battlefield. “The Government of Edo State has, over the past few days, made clear its position that the plans by some identified mischief-makers to organise an unauthorised political rally in Benin City, was capable of leading to a breakdown of public peace and also a danger to the persons and property of Edo citizens. “The events of yesterday, December 12, 2019, were a scary prelude to the absolute mayhem which these irresponsible activities would generate if left unchecked. “In defiance of the clear and publicised instruction of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), calling off the proposed rally owing to the security implications, these desperate persons are presently shopping around for alternative venues to carry out their incendiary activities,” the statement reads in part.Noting that the primary purpose of government is the protection of life and property, he said “the government of Edo State announced a total ban on all political rallies, demonstrations and/ or processions in any part of Edo State. It is no longer news that Obaseki and Oshiomhole, his estranged political godfather and predecessor, have been locked in a supremacy battle over the control of the party structure and the Edo State House of Assembly.

The governor and APC factional state chairman, Anselm Ojezua Esq., insisted they were not aware of the rally, despite Ize-Iyamu reportedly stating that he adequately informed Governor Obaseki through an SMS and a letter. The Oshiomhole faction of the party led by Col. David Imuse (rtd) said the rally was being organised to receive Pastor Ize-Iyamu. Youths in the state had staged protests across major roads in Benin metropolis on Thursday, warning that desperate politicians were importing thugs from outside the state to cause mayhem during the rally. Adamu had on Thursday night, ordered that the event be cancelled over “overriding internal security interests”, directing the state’s Commissioner of Police to meet with the opposing political interests.

It was learnt the police manned strategic points across the state to give effect to the state government’s directive, which led to the dispersion of crowds that gathered at the Ugbor-Amagba axis of the state. While the rally was going on, bonfires set by suspected hoodlums at the popular Abuja junction on First Ugbor Road rented the air as sporadic gun shots also rang out around Junction and Limit Road areas ostensibly to discourage people from attending the rally. Residents of the areas were forced to scamper for safety while vehicle owners sought alternative routes for fear of possible attacks. Saturday Telegraph gath-ered that about 15 persons sustained serious injuries during the Thursday mayhem and were rushed to the Specialist Hospital on Sapele Road.

However, shootings and bonfires continued yesterday along Airport Road and other link roads which caused a traffic gridlock that lasted eight hours as youths blocked a section of the Benin Airport Road. Soldiers were later deployed in the troubled areas to dislodge rampaging youths. Ize-Iyamu and others were received into the party by Imuse, who handed him the symbolic broom of the party showing all of them are co-partners of the party as there are no owners. Responding, Ize-Iyamu said: “Those who think we are enemies, we want to tell them that we are not enemies; we have not come to fight.” Speaking to journalists shortly after his reception into the party, Ize-Iyamu said he was pleading to those who felt threatened by his home coming to have a rethink and that he is only coming to add value to the party and not to wage war against anybody. He said: “Well, I am very happy. In my life, I have learnt never to be deterred by obstacles and so, I have made up my mind with those who also believed in me to join the party that we founded in this state and even in this country, the APC. “So, today, we are surrounded by old friends and comrades in politics who have come to receive us. The crowd, as you can see, is mammoth and we thank God that there was no obstacle.”

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Sowore: Lawyers disagree over AGF’s request to take over

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Sowore: Lawyers disagree over AGF’s request to take over

… AGF should file a nolle prosequi motion immediately –Falana

 

Lawyers yesterday disagreed over the request by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), seeking the transfer of the case file of the convener of #Revolution- Now protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, to his office. The Department of State Services (DSS) is prosecuting Sowore before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over alleged treason charges. However, the counsel to Sowore, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday urged the AGF to file a nolle prosequi motion without any further delay to end the macabre dance, which had exposed the country to avoidable embarrassment. While some lawyers said the request was a good development, others said that it would bring about a delay in the already commenced case. Malami, as part of deliberate efforts to probe emerging issues related to the recent imbroglio involving Sowore’s case and for speedy dispensation of justice requested that the case file in respect of charge pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja be forwarded to his office.

This was contained in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and made available to journalists in Abuja yesterday. In the statement, Gwandu said the request for the transfer of the case to the office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice was contained in a letter dated December 11, and addressed to the Director General of the DSS, National Headquarters Abuja. The Solicitor General of the Federation and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata (SAN), who signed the letter referred to a letter from the DSS office on September 9, 2019. The letter stated: “The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice upon a further review of the case has directed the immediate takeover of the prosecu-tion of all charges in respect of Omoyole Sowore by the Federal Ministry of Justice in line with the provisions of Sections 150(1) and 174 (1) (ac) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).” The letter requested the Director to “promptly forward all the case files” in respect of Omoyele Sowore to the office of the Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

However, reacting, an Abuja-based lawyer and rights activist, George Atavti, noted that the takeover of the case was a welcome development as it was likely to enhance justice for Sowore. “The AGF by the constitution is the only office of government that has a prosecutorial power on behalf of the Federal Government. “All other agencies only have investigative roles, but lack power to prosecute. With the planned takeover, it is certain that the cause of Justice will be enhanced.”

In a contrary opinion, another Abuja-based lawyer, Ibrahim Shekari, submitted that the planned takeover was a delay tactics that would not in any way do the defendant any good. “It is a trite law, that when a matter is taken over, such matter starts de novo.

That means, starting afresh. With the AGF taking over the case, the trial will start all over again and possibly before a new judge. “It is also possible, the charge will be amended. And the bureaucratic nature of government is waiting to receive instruction from a superior. “My take is that the DSS should have been allowed to continue the prosecution, but, however, on a speedy trial.” Meanwhile, Falana in a statement sighted by an online news portal, SaharaReporters, said the AGF’s directive, “is not a takeover because it was the AGF and Minister of Justice, Abukabar Malami (SAN), who filed Omoyele Sowore’s case and farmed it out to Dr. Hassan Liman (SAN). “But in view of the violent invasion of the court by armed operatives of the SSS, the AGF has decided to sack the prosecution team and have the case prosecuted by the DPP.

“Having been advised that Sowore cannot be convicted on the basis of the proof of evidence filed in court, the SSS has refused to make the statements of the prosecution witnesses available to the defendants as ordered by the trial court. Hence, hearing in the case has been adjourned till February 20, 2020 at the instance of the prosecution. “Convinced that the pending case would collapse like a pack of cards, the SSS is currently fishing for evidence to nail Sowore. In spite of the directive of the AGF to take over the case, the SSS subjected Sowore to a four-hour interrogation on Thursday.

“The entire interrogation pertained to Sowore’s alleged links with the proscribed Boko Haram sect, IPOB and IMN, which he vehemently denied. “At Sowore’s instance, a member of the legal defence team, Mr. Abubakar Marshal, witnessed the marathon interrogation. The plan of the SSS is to charge Sowore with terrorism in line with the unsubstituted allegations of presidential media aides. “In view of the foregoing, we urge the AGF to file a nolle prosequi motion without any further delay to end the macabre dance, which has exposed the country to avoidable embarrassment.”

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Emefiele: Transactions on I&E window hit $60bn

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Emefiele: Transactions on I&E window hit $60bn

Over $60 billion worth of transactions have taken place on the Investors and Exporters (I&E) foreign exchange window since it was established by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on April 2017. CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this yesterday at the opening of the 2019 Bankers’ Committee Retreat, taking place in Ogere, Ogun State. The CBN governor stated that the country’s foreign exchange reserves, which are currently at $39 billion, compared with $23billion in October 2016, could finance 9 months of current import commitments. Emefiele also attributed the huge volume of transactions on the I&E window to the impact of the apex bank’s tight monetary policy regime, as well as its measures aimed at ensuring attractive yields in the money market, He also noted that the CBN’s measures had resulted in the naira-dollar exchange rate remaining stable at the I&E window over the past 30 months at N360 – $1, adding that there had been significant convergence in the exchange rate across the various market windows.

Furthermore, Emefiele, stated that since the financial crisis, the country’s financial system was now in a much stronger position as capital buffers and liquidity in the banking system had continued to improve. Specifically, he pointed out that: “Industry wide Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) has increased from 10.2 percent in Dec. 2017 to 15.5 percent in September 2019. The percentage of non-performing loans in the banking sector has declined from its high of 14.7 per cent in January 2017 to under seven percent as at October 2019.”

He also noted that credit conditions in the banking system had improved in recent months due to the CBN’s new policy measures, which require banks to maintain a minimum 65 per cent Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) coupled with the new policy which allows lenders to recover delinquent loans from a customer’s accounts in other banks. “As a result, gross credit increased by N1.16 trillion between May and October 2019.

These measures have placed our banks in a much better position towards supporting a stronger economic recovery,” Emefiele said. He, however, stated that despite the positive indicators, the nation was still far from its potential as GDP growth rate remained below estimated annual population growth of 2.6 per cent. In addition, he noted that although headline inflation had moderated, it was still above the CBN band of six to nine per cent, even as unemployment continues to be a challenge.

The CBN boss pointed out that this year’s Retreat titled, “Delivering Inclusive Growth: Leveraging Digital Finance” comes at a critical time in our nation’s history, when efforts are being made by the monetary and fiscal authorities to structurally rebalance and diversify the Nigerian economy.” While noting that this could be achieved by leveraging digital finance tools in supporting growth across key sectors of the economy, including agriculture, manufacturing and the creative industries, Emefiele, however, said this would require Nigerians having unique identification numbers. He said: “This is important in order to verify the identity of individuals and to avoid duplicity. It enhances the comfort level of financial 16 institutions in providing services to verifiable entities through digital channels. “Even when they possess mobile devices, individuals in rural communities may be unable to provide unique identification numbers that are required to open accounts and ewallets.”

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Stanbic IBTC Bank supports growth of Nigerian entertainment scene

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Stanbic IBTC Bank supports growth of Nigerian entertainment scene

Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc has reaffirmed its interest in the growth of the Nigerian entertainment industry as the bank is set to support the construction of various cinemas as well as the provision of infrastructure to galvanize growth in the industry. Mr. Damian Umeasala, Enterprise Finance Officer, Enterprise Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, made this known at the maiden edition of The Entertainment Fair and Festival Conference (TEFFEST). The theme of the event, which held at The Podium, Lekki, Lagos was ‘Entertainment is Life: Welcome to the Future’. Umeasala stated that the financial institution was already in talks with movie distributors and cinema houses like Filmhouse, Genesis and Silverbird Galleria, amongst others, to provide a funding structure for the construction of more cinemas across the country.

He also pointed out that Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc was partnering with TEFFEST to understand the dynamics of the industry so as to grow its investment in the sector. He added: “Our support for the creative sector is also in line with a mandate that we have from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under a special intervention fund called ‘The Creative Industry Financing Initiative’ in which the regulatory body has mandated all banks to set aside five per cent of their profit after tax for the purpose of lending to players and professionals in this creative sector at nine per cent interest rate.”

The Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) is a loan scheme developed in collaboration with the CBN, to provide access to long-term and low-interest financing for entrepreneurs in the creative industry. Umeasala further noted that the bank was prepared to support players in the creative sector with loan facilities either as individuals or as a group; adding that the gesture extends to media content creators for Cable TV Stations.

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Respect your oath of office, CJN charges judges

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Respect your oath of office, CJN charges judges

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mohammad Ibrahim, yesterday charged judges in the country to always respect their oath of office by being just and fair in the discharge of their judicial functions. He said as judges accountable to God for their deeds, they must ensure that they dispense justice with honesty and transparency to all human beings that come their way.

The CJN, who spoke at the inauguration of Justice John Tsoho, as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and Justice Benedict Kanyip, as President of the National Industrial Court (NIC), asked them to live up to expectations of Nigerians. He told them that the oath administered on them did not call for celebration but sympathy because with their status their conduct and behaviour must be guided by the oath. Justice Mohammad said dispensing justice is a tedious one that requires prayer for God to guide them from the beginning till the end of their tenure of office.

“Let me tell you here, that even though we need God to help us, the truth is that God will not help any person who does not help himself and so as Judicial officers we must learn to help ourselves so that God can be of help to us,” he said. The CJN warned them not to allow any personal interest to override the discharge of their function as demanded by law and their oath of office, adding that on no grounds should they compromise their principles.

He added: “This inauguration does not call for a long speech, but let me remind you that you are holding your new offices in trust for people and you must not do anything to betray the trust. “You should try as much as possible to justify the oath and your appointment by putting your experience to bear in the discharged of your duties.”

The CJN also reminded them of the need to respect the law by avoiding pitfalls because the Lord does not respect anybody who runs foul of the law itself, adding that they should always consult whenever they have challenges that require consultation.

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