mpeached Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Elder Simon Achuba, yesterday, said his political adversaries treated him like a common criminal in spite of his constitutional immunity.
Achuba, who was impeached on Friday by the state House of Assembly over alleged gross misconduct, said he was forcefully ejected out of his official residence.
He told reporters in Lokoja, the state capital, that he was placed under house arrest and electricity to his official residence disconnected.
Achuba was impeached few hours after the submission of the report of a Judicial Panel of Enquiry constituted by the state Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajana.
The panel, headed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. John Baiyesha, had reportedly cleared Achuba of all the allegations levelled against him.
Narrating his ordeal, Achuba told journalists at his private residence that a police patrol van, on Saturday morning, blocked the main entrance of his official residence at the GRA Lokoja, preventing anyone from going in or out.
His words: “I was in the house on that fateful Saturday, when a police Hilux van parked and blocked the main gate of my official residence. They refused anyone to come into the house and also stopped anyone from going out of the house. What it implied was that I was placed under house arrest.
“With the situation then, and since my security details were withdrawn and I didn’t know if the policemen at the gate were real or fake, I had to lock myself in the room. After a while, the electricity to the house was disconnected.
“I asked my private assistant to put on the generator, which he did. After some minutes, a technician led by armed policemen, went straight to the generator and put it off, removed the battery, so I was in a total darkness throughout the night.”
Achuba explained that he had earlier forwarded the soft copy of the Certified True Copy of the panel report to the state Police Commissioner, Director of Department of State Services (DSS) and Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
He added: “But I was shocked when the state Police Commissioner told me on phone that I have to vacate my official residence. His actions also proved that he has long been bedding with my adversaries.
“As I speak to you now, I have no single car; some of my personal effects are still in the office and my official residence.”
Achuba, however, appealed to President Muhammad Buhari and leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to intervene and save the party from embarrassment, saying the illegality going on in the state was capable of costing the party fortunes.
He also urged well-meaning Nigerians to rise up as the sanctity of the nation’s Constitution was being trampled upon.
He insisted that swearing-in anyone else as deputy governor amounted to illegality and a breach of the constitution.
“My purported impeachment last Friday by the state House of Assembly was unconstitutional and an illegality that will not stand the test of judiciary,” he said.
But in a swift reaction, the Kogi State House of Assembly has said there is no going back on Achuba’s impeachment as deputy governor.
The House Leader, Hassan Bello, who spoke on behalf of the state legislators, asked the former deputy governor to approach the court if not satisfied with his impeachment.
Bello also accused members of the judicial panel of inquiry of allegedly compromising the assignment given to them.
He said: “Based on the Rule of Procedure given to members of the panel, their assignment was a fact-finding one, and were not required to give any resolution.
“The panel submitted report to us and based on their report, we gave our verdict. The rule of procedure says that the panel is a fact-finding panel; they are not to give judgement and it was in the rule of procedure which they accepted. They are not supposed to give any verdict in this circumstance.
“The decision of whether the deputy governor is guilty or not guilty is that of the House. If you look at Section 188(11), it says the House of Assembly is the only authority which determines what gross misconduct is. It is not for the panel to say, proved or not proved.”
On the panel’s report which has gone viral, Bello expressed concern that the panel chairman attempted to compromise the process.
The lawmaker said: “I don’t know where that is coming from, can you imagine the panel chairman who said while addressing pressmen at the Assembly complex shortly after he submitted the report to the Speaker that it is not constitutional for him to disclose what is in report since he has submitted to the appropriate channel?
“How come few minutes later the whole report was on social media even before the deliberation of the House on the same report? Again, just to let you know that even the report in the public domain is not signed, for us, we know that the panel has compromised in the process.
“In the rule of procedure, it was written boldly that the panel shall not give the report of their investigation to anybody, except to the House of Assembly.
“We question the rationale behind the statement credited to the Panel Chairman, Barrister John Baiyeshea on the issue and wonder; what is his interest?
“So, if the panel has gone ahead to release the report to anybody, that means they are compromised.
“It is a known fact that the impeached Deputy Governor was on some national television stations discussing issues that should be classified information about the state government, going against the oath of secrecy he swore to himself. Does that not amount to a gross misconduct?
“Even at the panel, Elder Simon Achuba confirmed that he did appear on those stations. Then, how come the Panel said it was not proved?
“Aside that, he also affirmed through an affidavit that he did commit the offence as alleged and beside the reports he submitted came in three parts – part 1, 2, 3. How come, the version on social media is only part 1 and 2?
“In a nutshell, his actions already negated the oath of secrecy; is that not gross misconduct? Achuba also lied that he was not paid his salary when the schedules of payment showed clearly that he was paid. These and many more show that he negated his function as a Deputy Governor.
“Basically, our action was based on the report of the Panel and there is no going back from what we have done. If he is not comfortable with our decision, he can go to court.”
Osinbajo to Monarchs: Condemn drug abuse in your domains
Disturbed by the myriad of social vices in the country, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on royal fathers in Nigeria to use their royal stools and moral authority to condemn drug abuse and other social problems in the country.
According to the Vice President, if the traditional institution declares a particular practice as wrong and worthy of condemnation, or affirms it as right and laudable, such messages of prohibition or affirmation go a very long way.
Professor Osinbajo spoke at the 11th General Assembly of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria with the theme: “Imperative of Community Policing and Menace of Drug Abuse: The Role of Traditional Rulers”, saying that the traditional rulers must join hands in condemning bad habit which is gradually destroying the society.
He said: “Your Royal Majesties possess a moral authority that arguably transcends the legitimacy conferred on political leaders by electoral cycles. It is this moral authority that we respectfully urge your Royal Majesties to exercise against drug abuse in your domains. It is the combined effect of the corrective and coercive powers of state agencies and actors, and the moral authority of the throne that we believe can deal a death blow to this terrible scourge that today destroys the lives of thousands of our young people.
“We are, your majesties, faced with a major drug abuse and addiction problem. The 2018 National Drug Use Survey indicates that there are 14.3million drug users between the ages of 15 and 64. Drug use is most common among those between the ages of 25 and 29 years which are the years of peak productivity in anyone’s lifespan. In effect, young Nigerians that should be in the prime of their lives are being ravaged by the plague of substance addiction. In addition, Nigeria’s drug use prevalence rate is almost three times above the global prevalence rate.”
Kogi, Bayelsa polls disasters – NSA
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Mungono has scored the conduct of the November 16 governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states low, and said things “unthinkable happened” during the election.
The NSA, who spoke on Wednesday at an Inter-Agencies Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting in Abuja, said despite the assurances of adequate security before the elections, the polls “were a fiasco where the unthinkable happened.”
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, however, disclosed that 49 persons have been arrested on election related violence in the two states, including six persons arrested in connection with the killing of the woman leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mrs. Salome Abuh.
Mungono, who was represented by Mr Sanusi Galadima, recalled that prior to the two elections, the ICCES was told of the level of the preparedness and assured of adequate security.
“They made promises and told the meeting of the level of their preparedness but unfortunately, the fiasco was the answer. What happened was quite unthinkable.
“Violence erupted in the two states of Bayelsa and Kogi, particularly, the violence that occurred in Kogi State which aftermath of that election led to the death of a woman leader in that state,” he regretted.
The NSA expressed the fear that if nothing is done to curtail such violence in future elections, voters might not come out to vote.
Ex-lawmaker to EFCC: Probe NASS over severance allowances, constituency projects
A Second Republic politician and former House of Representatives member, Chief Olumuyiwa Akinboro, on Wednesday, decried the huge sums accruing to National Assembly members from severance allowances and constituency projects.
Akinboro, a legal practitioner, who was called to Bar in 1968, asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to commence immediate probe of the money received by federal lawmakers.
The octogenarian, who is also the Convener, Advocate for Peace and Better Nigeria, spoke at a press conference held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He bemoaned the level of corruption in the country, saying the situation requires urgent attention.
Akinboro accused the National Assembly, which is the second organ of government, of gross abuse in remuneration of members.
He said, “I was a member of the National Assembly during the Second Republic representing Abeokuta on two terms, 1979 and 1983 till December of that year during which the late indefatigable Senator Olusola Saraki, from Kwara State, was the Senate Leader.
“At that time, our wages, a mere peasant compared with what it is now, were fixed by all the party leaders. What the National Assembly pays its members at present is at the whims and caprice of the members of the National Assembly themselves which should not be so.
“Apart from the vast sums of money set aside for the so-called constituency projects which is often subject to gross abuse, they usually pay themselves the so-called severance package at the end of each term of four years.
“Is there any Act of the National Assembly that fixed and permitted that kind of payment? Do they pay the so-called severance package to all members or those who lost at the last election and would not be coming back like the last Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, or to all Senators even those who were reelected?
“In England, what parliamentarians earn is fixed and controlled by an Act of Parliament and is verifiable by all and sundry. Do other democracies in the world pay their legislators such so-called severance package? Do our legislators pay any corresponding income tax on their self-fixed earnings? How much do they pay?”
Buhari sends 2020 FCT budget to National Assembly
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has sent the 2020 statutory budget of the Federal Capital Territory Administration to the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
Buhari, in the letter dated December 10, 2019 and addressed to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, explained that his request to the Senate was in compliance with Sections 121 and 299 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The letter read: “Pursuant to Sections 121 and 299 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), I forward herewith, the 2020 statutory budget proposal of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, for the kind consideration and passage by the Senate.
“While hoping that this submission will receive the usual expeditious consideration of the Senate, please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
Meanwhile, the red chamber also on Wednesday referred the retired general’s request for the confirmation of the Chairman and Members of the Federal Inland Revenue Service to the Senate Committee on Finance.
Lawan asked the Committee to start work on the screening and confirmation of the newly appointed Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Muhammad Nami.
Lawan, who stated this at the plenary, also asked the finance panel to carry out the confirmation and that of 13 other members of the FIRS board and submit its report Wednesday.
The Senate President also referred the screening and confirmation of Mr. Edward Adamu, as the new Chairman of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria to the Committee of Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions.
Nami will replace Mr. Tunde Fowler in the FIRS while Adamu will replace Muiz Banire at AMCON.
Lawan asked the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Olamilekan Adeola, to submit his report on December 18 before the National Assembly adjourns on Thursday for the Christmas break.
The upper chamber also, on Wednesday, approved the report of the Conference Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on the Finance bill passed by the National Assembly recently.
Malami: FG has ordered probe of court invasion by DSS
The Federal Government has ordered an investigation into the Friday invasion of the Federal High Court, Abuja, by the operatives of the Department of State Service, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has said.
The DSS, in their bid to rearrest the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress in the February 2019 general election, Omoyele Sowore, had invaded the court, during which the judge fled the scene.
Malami spoke to reporters on the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, after paying a courtesy visit to the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho.
He evaded question on the reason for Sowore’s rearrest, which had drawn criticisms locally and internationally.
Fielding questions from reporters, he said did not visit the Chief Judge over Sowore’s case but to congratulate him on his confirmation by the Senate as the substantive Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
Asked if he was not appalled by the DSS’ conduct, Malami said, “Whatever affects the integrity of the court is a worrisome issue for us.
“I can never be preemptive of an incident over which I was not a live witness to.”
He added: “But one thing I am certain of is that the government has put in place mechanism for investigation of the reported incident.
“So, I would not like to be preemptive in terms of a conclusion, one way or the other, without allowing the consummation and conclusion of the investigation process.”
JUST IN: US seizes jet of Nigerian ‘involved in multi-million dollar fraud’
The US federal authorities have seized an aircraft belonging to a Nigerian facing multi-million dollar fraud charges in the country.
According to WSB-TV, the seizure was made on Tuesday at the Peachtree DeKalb Airport in Georgia.
Federal agents were said to have ransacked the aircraft for evidence, while another team searched for drugs and other contraband.
However, the authorities did not mention the name of the Nigerian whose aircraft was seized, reports TheCable.
“For the most part, people don’t even understand. They don’t know what’s happening in Atlanta, Georgia,” one of the special agents said.
“This is all day, every day. I mean, this is the fruits of our labor, and this is the successes of a great team effort by our state, local and federal partners coming together to hit the bad guys where it hurts, in their pocket.
“When we see a certain type of aircraft get sold, it raises our suspicions.”
In November, US authorities indicted Allen Onyema, Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, for allegedly moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through US bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of aircraft.
Onyema was said to have started travelling frequently to Atlanta, where he opened several personal and business bank accounts. Between 2010 and 2018, over $44.9 million was allegedly transferred into his Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources.
Onyema was indicted alongside Ejiroghene Eghagha, the airline’s chief of administration and finance, who is said to have committed aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.
A US district court of the northern district of Georgia was also reported to have issued a warrant to arrest Onyema and authorised US Marshals Service to bring him into custody.
ASUU Strike, Naira Marley,Reginal Daniels, others top most searched on Google in 2019
Popular search engine, Google on Wednesday announced the results of its ‘2019 Year in Search’ with Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) strike topping this year’s trending news search.
Mr Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Google Communications Officer, said that ASUU strike was followed by `AFCON 2019’, ‘Naira Marley’ and the ‘Women’s World Cup 2019’.
Kola-Ogunlade said that the results of the ‘Year in Search’ offered a unique perspective on the year’s major moments and top trends based on searches conducted in Nigeria.
“This year’s top trending news search is `ASUU Strike’, which took the highest place over other trending news topics like ‘AFCON 2019’, ‘Naira Marley’ and the ‘Women’s World Cup 2019’.
“Naira Marley’, leads the list as the most searched person over ‘Atiku’ (Abubakar), Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party at the 2019 Nigerian general election.
“Neymar’, Brazilian professional footballer. ‘Neymar’ made the lists as the top trending sports person searched by Nigerians in 2019,’’ Kola-Ogunlade said in a statement.
According to him, Regina Daniels was the most searched actor, ranking over other actors like Genevieve Nnaji, Tonto Dikeh, Hadiza Gabon, among others, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
He said that Wizkid, “Joro” was the most searched song this year; ‘what is xenophobia?’ the most asked question; while Big Brother Naija and Mehek were the most searched movies and TV shows.
Uber, Bolt, others not banned at airports – FAAN
The Management of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it did not ban Uber, Bolt and others at Lagos and other airports in the country.
Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, said in a statement in Lagos on Wednesday that the attention of FAAN was drawn to an online report, which she said was false.
Yakubu said: “We will like to state with all emphasis that passengers and the general public are free to use whatever means or mode convenient to transport themselves to the Lagos and other airports in Nigeria.
“We will, therefore, like to use this medium to inform the general public that the said signpost did not emanate from FAAN.
“Our security personnel have been instructed to remove the signpost and investigate the issue.”
Kogi, Bayelsa elections peaceful, IG insists
Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police (IGP), says the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states were peaceful.
Adamu said this while speaking at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) inter-agency consultative committee on election security (ICCES) meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
The elections, conducted on November 16, were marred by cases of violence, thuggery, ballot box snatching and intimidation of voters and electoral officials.
At least four persons were reported dead in separate attacks in the two states.
But speaking at the meeting which was held at the INEC headquarters, Adamu, who was represented by Bashir Makama, an Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), said the polls were “relatively peaceful”.
He, however, admitted that there is a need to improve election security.
“In the whole, despite the related infractions or some sort of thuggery observed and other challenges that were faced, the election could be said to be relatively peaceful,” he said, adding that “there is still room for improvements.”
He said the police arrested at least 43 suspects in connection with violence and violation of electoral laws during the elections in the two states.
In his remarks, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, asked for proper identification of all police officers deployed in polling units “so that they will be held responsible for the conduct of elections in those locations”.
“The commission believes that the purpose of security deployment during elections is to protect the voters, election officials and materials, accredited observers, the media and to safeguard the integrity of the processes generally, including the polling units and collation centres,” he said.
“Therefore, the deployment of security personnel in all future elections should be tied to specific locations and activities.
“All security personnel deployed to polling units and collation centres should be identified by name as is the case with INEC officials.
“This will not only enhance transparency, but the commission and security agencies will know who to contact in specific locations during elections when the need arises.”
Greta Thunberg is TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year
Greta Thunberg, the soft-spoken Swedish teenager who became a global conscience for climate change and environmental activism, has been named Time’s Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.
The magazine announced 16-year old Thunberg as its choice Wednesday exclusively on “TODAY.”
“She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told “TODAY,” adding that Thunberg is the magazine’s youngest choice ever to be named Person of the Year, reports NBC News.
Thunberg quickly bloomed into one of the world’s most notable and youngest climate change activists, sparking a collective movement to fight climate change after protesting alone outside the Swedish parliament during school hours on Fridays when she was 15. The teen held up a now universally recognized hand-painted sign that read “skolstrejk för klimatet,” which translates to “School strike for the climate.”
Thunberg’s initiative to strike galvanized students to protest against climate change throughout Europe and that momentum quickly fanned across the globe, becoming the “Fridays For Future” movement.
Her solo protest, Fensenthal noted, eventually prompted millions of people in 150 countries “to act on behalf of the planet.”
He also said that Thunberg “represents a broader generational shift in the culture,” with youth standing up for what they believe in — from Hong Kong to Chile.
“Young people are demanding change, and urgently,” Felsenthal said. “She embodies youth activism.”
Thunberg’s signature no-nonsense blunt style of speaking made her a force that could not be ignored by world leaders and she was asked to speak in front of several high-profile entities, including the United Nations and the United States Congress.
Thunberg, who has Asperger’s syndrome, first learned about climate change at 8 years old and said she became instantly concerned to the point that she plunged into depression over it.
“I remember thinking that it was very strange that humans that are an animal species, among others, could be capable of changing the Earth’s climate,” she said during a 2018 Ted Talk.
She gave up eating meat and traveling via airplane, among other things, to reduce her carbon footprint.
In October, Thunberg was the recipient of another honor — an environmental award at a Stockholm ceremony held by the Nordic Council. But she declined it, explaining in an Instagram post, “The climate movement does not need any more awards.”
“What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science,” she wrote.
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