Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Jonathan, who arrived at the forecourt of the Villa at 2:58p.m., headed straight into the President’s office for the meeting, which agenda was not officially disclosed. He left at about 3p.m.
The former President himself did not speak with newsmen who were on hand for a chat.
Jonathan, who was escorted to his car by the State House Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, only answered greetings from State House correspondents and other staff.
Jonathan’s visit to the Villa was the first yesterday under President Buhari’s second term in office.
In Buhari’s first term, Jonathan had visited the Presidential Villa, Abuja, about thrice privately on a courtesy arrangement.
The former president, who is visiting the Presidential Villa for the fifth time, was last seen in the State House in 2016.
Bayelsa decides: Dickson rejects election result
* Describes it as a ‘coup’ against Bayelans
The governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, has described the just concluded election in the state as a democratic coup perpetrated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ) and security agencies against Bayelsans.
Addressing a world press conference on Tuesday in Yenagoa, the governor, however, advised the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters to remain calm as moves are on to reclaim the mandate of the people at the Election Petition Tribunal.
Dickson said the PDP and it’s candidate, Senator Douye Diri never lost any election, but that the All Progressives Congress (APC) used it’s federal might to hijack the process.
The governor, who also disclosed that he will set up a transition committee to work out modalities for the smooth transition of power in the state come February 14, 2020, said that with the way the last weekend election was hijacked, the people of the state were denied the rights to vote for the governor of their choice.
Dickson said: “Our candidate, Senator Douye Diri and the party Chairman have been speaking about the charade called ‘Election’ that took place in Bayelsa last Saturday and the invasion of our state by security forces of our country and about the dehumanization of our people.
“Also how the majority of the areas and in places, where our people were denied the right to vote for the governor of their choice.
“The story is all out there that what took place in Bayelsa on the 16 and 17 of November was not a democratic election. It was a military coup against our democracy, It was the height of conspiracy by the Federal Government and the security agencies and with the umpire (INEC) colluding and enabling in most cases the subversion of the democratic rights of our people for the sole purpose of achieving a pre-determined conclusion, I think that the story is all out.
“I need to commend the peaceful people of Bayelsa, I know our people have been mourning, forget the stage managed series of celebrations by a few APC supporters, but in general, our people are in mourning, our dignity has been invaded and ravaged, with the complicity of the institutions which by the law and the constitution are there to give credible and peaceful election.
“So, today, I’m here to lend my voice to all that have been said already, and it was so brazen, it has never been like this in this state before, I know that in 2015, we went through a very tough time. There was display of federal might but at least, it was not as bad as this. In this year, not only was the Nigerian army directed to take over our state.
“Not only did the police, who claimed that they have over 30,000 men and officers on ground, were looking the other way while our people were held down in Nembe and no steps were taken either to protect the people or to hold those who did that dastardly act to account.
“That was the first time that people were mowed down and killed, some ripped open in Nembe and thrown into the river. Up till now no arrests. We know that APC leaders plotted and carried out that acts.
“Voters did not have the courage to go out and vote in Nembe, and yet you saw the results that were turned in from Nembe, and INEC which has invested so much resources, not tax payers’ money, but our oil money never bothered about the processes but accepted and collated the votes from Nembe where no voting took place, people were gathered together, INEC officials held at gunpoint and they were thumb printing.So what took place in Bayelsa was not an election. It was a carefully planned federally executed operation.”
Trader slams N45m suit on Saraki over unauthorised use of picture
A Lagos-based trader, Mrs. Amuda Adeleke, has slammed a N45 million suit on a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at a Federal High Court in Lagos over alleged unauthorised use of her picture for campaign on billboards across the country during the 2019 general election.
In the suit marked FHC/L/CS/19, the trader alleged that Saraki, who was the Director-General of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, engineered the unauthorised use of her picture on campaign billboards.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party’s Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his Vice, Mr. Peter Obi, were joined as co-respondents in the suit.
In an affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by the trader, it was averred that on December 4, 2018, the agents of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation (AACO) under the leadership of Dr. Bukola Saraki led a campaign on behalf of Atiku and Obi to Oyin Jolayemi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, to draw support for the candidacy of Atiku and Obi in the 2019 presidential election.
It was further averred that in the course of the campaign, AACO and Saraki began to personally engage individuals, traders entrepreneurs and other citizens on the said street including the plaintiff on their expectations in respect of the forthcoming 2019 general election.
It was further stated that during the interactive engagement, most of the individuals in the locality of the campaign including the plaintiff pledged support for Atiku and Obi due to the harsh economic situation in the country.
Kalu, Secondus, CUPP mourn as Atiku’s aide dies in Dubia
Umar Pariya, an aide to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has reportedly died in Dubia.
His death was announced on Tuesday by Atiku on his Twitter page.
The former vice president said: “Umar Pariya was much more than a longstanding aide to me; he was incredibly loyal and qualified as a member of my family. He will be missed.
“May Allah comfort his family, forgive his sins and grant him AlJannah Firdaus. Amen.”
The cause of his death was not immediately known. There was a report that he was on life support for about two weeks now.
Meanwhile, political associates of the PDP candidate have been commiserating with him over Pariya’s demise.
Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu described the deceased as hardworking, honest and God-fearing.
Kalu in a statement by media office, urged Alhaji Abubakar to take solace in the fact that the late Pariya would be remembered for his good deeds.
“The late Pariya was urbane, humble, easy going and respectful. He was indeed a loyal and dedicated associate of Alhaji Abubakar.
“I pray to Allah to give the former Vice President and members of the deceased’s family the fortitude to bear the loss.”
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus noted the commitment of late Pariya to the projects of his boss both in private and public life.
Secondus described him as an honest, courageous and trust worthy person, noting that his humility was disarming.
Terrorism: NAF to take delivery of 18 aircraft – CAS
The fight against insurgency and other threats to national security is set to receive a boost, as the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will soon take delivery of 18 additional aircraft.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, made the disclosure on Tuesday at at the opening ceremony of a two-day capacity building workshop on strategic communications in Abuja.
Accorsing to the CAS, the aircraft, upon delivery, will enhance the service’ operational efficiency in its fight against insecurity in the country.
The CAS, who was represented by the Chief of Administration, NAF Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Kingsley Lar, further noted that the service had procured 19 brand new platforms, in addition to the reactivation of 20 unserviceable aircraft in the past four years.
“We have remained committed to the Vision of repositioning the Nigerian Air Force into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of Air Power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
“In line with this, over the past four years the Nigerian Air Force has ensured steady improvements in infrastructural development and personnel welfare. Accordingly, the Service has executed over 900 infrastructure projects including office and residential accommodations, messes and recreational facilities as well as schools and hospitals, amongst others. As a result, we have been able to raise accommodation sufficiency from 35 per cent in 2015 to about 72 per cent today. This is despite the fact that the strength of the Service has almost doubled within the same timeframe.
“The unflinching support of the Federal Government has also enabled the Service to acquire 19 brand new platforms as well as reactivate 20 erstwhile unserviceable aircraft, while another 18 aircraft have also been ordered and awaiting delivery,” Abubakar said.
Bayelsa, Kogi guber: PDP to sue INEC officials, police for aiding rigging
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it would challenge the outcome of last Saturday’s governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States at the tribunal.
The party also said it would file actions in court against identified officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security officials who allegedly aided the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the violent rigging of the election.
PDP said in a statement Tuesday by Kola Ologbondiyan that it would not fold its hands and watch the mandates given to its candidates in Kogi and Bayelsa States, Engr. Musa Wada and Senator Douye Diri taken away from them.
“Indeed, the nation is still at shock over the brazen show of violence, where security forces coordinated the invasion of polling units, shooting and killing of voters and carting away of ballot boxes to government facilities where results were altered and fictitious figures given to INEC to declare the APC candidates as winners.
“Nigerians watched with horror as APC thugs and security forces traumatized and held voters hostage, murdered our compatriots, injured and maimed many more in violent attacks that involved the deployment of police helicopters.
“Our party has been made aware of the roles played by the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as well as the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu in the elections,” PDP said.
It urged officials INEC and security agencies to do some introspections on the anguish they have caused the people from the two states since the results of the elections were announced, and said it would not hesitate to expose such ignoble roles at the appropriate time.
Sowore: DSS insists on proper documentation of sureties
The Department of State Services (DSS) on Tuesday insisted that Omoyele Sowore, the convener of the planned RevolutionNow protest would only be released upon proper documentation of persons willing to bail him.
Dr Peter Afunanya, the Public Relations Officer of the Service disclosed this at a media conference in Abuja.
He said the service was prepared to release Sowore in line with the bail granted him by the court but waiting for persons to take his delivery through proper documentation.
According to him, Sowore was granted bail by the court and the service has received the order, but people who should take his delivery through proper documentation have not come.
He said claims by some individuals that they were at DSS to take Sowore’s delivery without seeing officials of the service was not true.
Afunanya said the service would not release Sowore to miscreants, protesters and persons who were not qualified to stand for proper documentation for his release.
He expressed dissatisfaction over the unruly behaviour of protesters who attempted to force themselves into the facility of DSS to seek for the release of Sowore.
The information officer said reports, circulated on social media that officials of the service engaged in shooting during the protest was not true.
“DSS is a respectable organisation that discharges its duties with utmost responsibility and accountability.
“We have standard operating procedures on the use of arms. So, our officials could not have used gun on any person,” he said.
He said that its officials had been receiving threats since it insisted that the protesters were not the kind of persons to take possession of Sowore.
Taliban swap Western hostages for top militants
The Taliban have freed two hostages in exchange for three imprisoned senior militants, Taliban sources say.
American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, lecturers at the American University of Afghanistan, were released on Tuesday, three years after they were kidnapped in Kabul, reports the BBC.
The three militants arrived in Qatar from Afghanistan as part of the swap.
Last week Afghan authorities revealed a deal had been reached in an effort to restart peace talks with the Taliban.
President Ashraf Ghani said at the time that the decision to conditionally release the prisoners was “a tough, but important” one and a “humanitarian gesture”.
24 soldiers, 17 militants killed in Mali attack
Twenty-four Malian soldiers were killed and 29 wounded in an attack on an army patrol in northern Mali on Monday in which 17 militants were also killed, a spokesman for the army said.
The West African country is still reeling from an attack on an army post that killed 54 in early November – one of the deadliest strikes against its military in recent memory, which underscored the increasing reach and sophistication of armed jihadist groups active in the wider region, reports Reuters.
The Malian patrol attacked on Monday was in Tabankort, Gao region, while on a joint operation with Niger against militants operating near the border.
“During this attack, Malian forces suffered 24 deaths, 29 wounded as well as equipment damage. On the enemy’s side, 17 were killed and a certain number captured,” army spokesman Diarran Kone said.
The authorities have not named the assailants or identified which group they belonged to. From strongholds in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilising parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.
Violence has surged this autumn with heavy military and civilian losses in Mali and Burkina Faso.
In addition to November’s bloodshed in Mali, 38 Malian soldiers were killed on Sept. 30 in coordinated attacks on two army bases in the centre of the country, which has slipped from government control despite the presence of the French army and other international forces.
Meanwhile 39 people were killed in Burkina Faso on November 6 when militants attacked a convoy carrying workers of Canadian gold mining company Semafo.
Hong Kong leader urges peaceful resolution of campus standoff
Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she hoped a standoff between police and a hold-out group of anti-government protesters at a university could be resolved and she had told police to handle it in a humane way.
A last group of about 100 defiant protesters remain in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University after more than two days of clashes with police surrounding it in which more than 200 people have been injured.
Lam spoke at a news conference shortly after the city’s new police chief urged the support of all citizens to end five months of unrest, triggered by fears that the Beijing government is stifling the city’s special autonomy and freedoms, reports Reuters.
Lam said her government was very much on the “reactive side” but did not rule out further violence even as she urged peace.
“If the protesters are coming out in a peaceful manner … then there is no situation when that sort of violence would happen,” she said.
But if the situation changed, police would have to take “necessary action”, she said, adding she had been shocked that campuses had been turned into “weapons factories”.
Lam said 600 protesters had left the campus, including 200 below the age of 18.
The university is the last of five that protesters occupied to use as bases from which to disrupt the city, blocking the city’s central cross harbor tunnel and main roads, and forcing the closure of businesses including shopping centers, in order, they said, to put the government under economic pressure.
Hundreds of protesters fled from the university or surrendered overnight amid running battles on surrounding streets as police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets and protesters lobbed petrol bombs and bricks.
At one stage, dozens of mask-wearing protesters staged a dramatic escape from the campus by shimmying down plastic hosing from a bridge and fleeing on waiting motorbikes as police fired projectiles.
Police allowed two prominent figures onto the campus late on Monday to mediate but many protesters refused to leave even though food was running out.
“There have been so many people who have sacrificed for this,” said a 21-year-old university student, who identified himself as T, after escaping from the university on Tuesday.
QUESTION OVER COURT
Many protesters say they fear even more bloodshed with no resolution in sight to a standoff that has seen some of the most intense violence in what has become the worst crisis since Hong Kong’s return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Protesters were initially angered by a now-shelved bill that could have sent people to mainland China for trial but has since broadened into calls for full democracy and an end to what many see meddling by Beijing in China’s freest city.
China says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula introduced in 1997 granting Hong Kong autonomy and has accused foreign countries, including Britain and the United States, of inciting trouble.
The city’s police deny accusations of brutality and say they have shown restraint.
But the city’s autonomy has been thrown into question after China’s top legislature questioned the power of the city’s High Court to overturn a government emergency ban on face masks worn by protesters.
A spokesman for the legislative affairs commission of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, said Hong Kong courts had no power to rule on the constitutionality of the city’s legislation, the state Xinhua news agency reported.
‘MASSIVE’ BREAKING OF LAW
Newly appointed Police Commissioner Chris Tang, meanwhile, warned of an “institutional mismatch” that his 30,000-strong force was having to contend with.
“There is a massive scale of breaking of law in Hong Kong and there is a certain sector of the community that also condones that illegal activity,” Tang said in a brief public appearance.
He also said “fake news” was undermining the reputation of the force that had long been known as one of Asia’s finest.
The number of people demonstrating has fallen in recent weeks but clashes have worsened since last week, when police shot a protester, a man was set on fire and the city’s financial district was filled with tear gas in the middle of the workday.
Police spokesmen said they fired three live rounds early on Monday but no one was hurt.
Protesters have torched buildings, infrastructure and shops.
The city’s Cross Harbour Tunnel linking Hong Kong island to the Kowloon peninsula remained shut on Tuesday due to extensive damage, authorities said.
Some train services and many roads across Kowloon remained closed. All schools were shut again on Tuesday, extending a string of closures since last week due to safety concerns.
The city’s hospital authority reported 221 injuries over the past day with 12 people in serious condition.
The unrest poses the gravest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters the United States was “gravely concerned” and said the Hong Kong government bore primary responsibility for ensuring a return to calm.
Democrats dubious as Trump dangles impeachment testimony offer
Democrats responded skeptically on Monday to President Donald Trump’s declaration that he might be willing to testify in his impeachment inquiry and also said they were examining the truthfulness of his testimony in the Russia 2016 election interference probe.
Trump said on Twitter that he would “strongly consider” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion that he testify in the House impeachment inquiry into whether he pressured Ukraine to investigate domestic political opponent Joe Biden.
House Democrats saw his participation in the inquiry as unlikely, reports Reuters.
“President Trump should testify,” Representative Don Beyer said in a tweet. “He should allow top White House aides to testify. … He should turn over the documents Congress subpoenaed. He should end his illegal coverup. I’m not holding my breath.”
Trump has come under increasing pressure as public hearings have started in the impeachment probe, and the Democratic-led committees conducting the investigation have released transcripts of interviews conducted in closed sessions that contain potentially damaging allegations against him.
Late on Monday, they released a transcript of an interview with David Holmes, a top aide from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, who will testify at a public hearing on Thursday.
Holmes testified that he had overheard on July 26 a call, held on the outdoor terrace of a Kiev restaurant, between Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Trump.
In the call, he testified, Trump asked Sondland whether Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy had agreed to announce an investigation into the son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a rival in Trump’s race for re-election next year.
Holmes, an aide to acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, said he could hear the conversation and believes two others at the table could as well.
“So he’s gonna do the investigation?” Holmes said he heard Trump ask.
“He’s gonna do it,” Sondland said, adding that Zelenskiy would do “anything you ask him to.”
Holmes described the call as extraordinary.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, someone calling the President from a mobile phone at a restaurant, and then having a conversation of this level of candor, colorful language,” he said.
Holmes said he was concerned Trump’s call with Sondland could pose a security risk. “We generally assume that mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored,” he testified.
Asked whether Ukrainian officials felt pressure to announce investigations into the Bidens, Holmes said, “I think the Ukrainians gradually came to understand that they were being asked to do something in exchange for the meeting and the security assistance hold being lifted.”
Holmes said the call – which came to light in Taylor’s testimony last week – took place one day after Trump’s July 25 telephone call with Zelenskiy, which prompted the whistleblower complaint that led to the impeachment probe of Trump.
On that call, Trump asked Zelenskiy to open a corruption investigation into Biden and his son Hunter, and into a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump has defended his call with Zelenskiy as “perfect.”
Joe Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump in 2020.
Separately, House general counsel Douglas Letter told a federal appeals court in Washington that lawmakers were examining the truthfulness of the written answers the president provided in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump initially offered to testify in that investigation but only provided written answers after months of negotiations.
Those answers drew renewed scrutiny after they appeared to conflict with the testimony of a former Trump campaign official last week in the trial of Trump ally Roger Stone.
Lawmakers are examining whether Trump abused his power by withholding $391 million in aid to Ukraine as leverage to get Kiev to investigate Biden. The money, approved by the U.S. Congress to help U.S. ally Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists, was later provided.
The Republican president has said he did nothing wrong and has railed against the impeachment inquiry and attacked witnesses, much as he did in the two-year Mueller investigation.
Holmes is one of nine witnesses set to testify in the second week of public impeachment hearings. He will testify on Thursday.
The committees also released a transcript of testimony behind closed doors by David Hale, a senior State Department official. In his interview, Hale confirmed that he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo knew ware of the campaign against Yovanovitch, but were not going to act on it without evidence.
Pompeo declined to discuss the impeachment inquiry – or defend Yovanovitch – at a news briefing on Monday.
Hale is set to testify at a public hearing on Wednesday.
Others due to testify this week include Sondland, whose direct contacts with Trump are likely to be a main focus in the investigation of whether the president used U.S. aid as leverage to get Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on Biden.
Trump told reporters last week that he knew “nothing” about the call with Sondland.
Several witnesses testified last week that they were alarmed at the pressure tactics used against Ukraine, as well as the role of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
The hearings could clear the way for the House to approve articles of impeachment – formal charges – against Trump. That would lead to a trial in the Senate on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. Republicans control the Senate and have shown little support for Trump’s removal.
Business23 hours ago
Nigerians to pay more for fuel
Education22 hours ago
N-Power teachers can’t drive early childhood education – NUT
News19 hours ago
Presidency to PDP: You’re a disgrace for rejecting polls’ results
Politics20 hours ago
Change of baton in Ezza South
Politics22 hours ago
Dickson’s defeat, lesson to others – Nkire
Metro and Crime21 hours ago
Kidnapped Enugu Catholic Priest regains freedom
News19 hours ago
Total: Nigeria’s untapped oil assets hit 1trn barrels
Metro and Crime21 hours ago
Suspect grabbed after he tries to sell stolen phone to owner