Russia warned Syrian Kurdish YPG forces on Wednesday they face further armed conflict with Turkey if they fail to comply with a Russian-Turkish accord calling for their withdrawal from the entire length of Syria’s northeastern border with Turkey.
Moscow’s warning came shortly before Russian and Syrian security forces were due to start overseeing the removal of YPG fighters and weapons at least 30 km (19 miles) into Syria, under the deal struck by presidents Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan, reports Reuters.
A complete pullout of the YPG would mark a victory for Erdogan, who launched a cross-border offensive on Oct. 9 to drive the Kurdish militia from the border and create a “safe zone” for the return of Syrian refugees.
The accord, which expands on a U.S.-brokered deal last week, also underlines Putin’s dominant influence in Syria and seals the return of his ally President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to northeast Syria for the first time in years, by endorsing the deployment of Syrian border guards from noon (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.
Six days later, Russian and Turkish forces will jointly start to patrol a 10 km strip of land in northeast Syria where U.S. troops for years were deployed along with their former Kurdish allies.
Those changes reflect the dizzying pace of changes in Syria since President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria earlier this month, shaking up the military balance across a quarter of the country after eight years of conflict.
Kurdish militia commanders have yet to respond to the deal reached in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, and it was not immediately clear how their withdrawal could be enforced.
A joint Turkish-Russian statement issued after six hours of talks between Putin and Erdogan said they would establish a “joint monitoring and verification mechanism” to oversee implementation of the agreement.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was more blunt. If Kurdish forces did not retreat, Syrian border guards and Russian military police would have to fall back. “And remaining Kurdish formations would then fall under the weight of the Turkish army,” he said.
In a swipe at Washington, which has called into question how the deal will be guaranteed, Peskov said the United States had been the closest ally of the Kurdish fighters but had now betrayed them.
“Now they (the Americans) prefer to leave the Kurds at the border and almost force them to fight the Turks,” he said in remarks to Russian news agencies.
The Kurdish-led SDF were Washington’s main allies in the fight to dismantle Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria. Trump’s decision to pull troops out was criticized by U.S. lawmakers, including fellow Republicans, as a betrayal.
In a further sign of growing ties between Ankara and Moscow, which have alarmed the U.S. administration, the head of Russia’s defense sales agency was quoted by the Interfax news agency on Wednesday as saying Moscow could deliver more S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey.
Turkey, a NATO member, has already been frozen out of a program to buy and help produce F-35 jets and faces possible U.S. sanctions for buying the S-400 systems, which Washington says are incompatible with NATO’s defenses and threaten the F-35 if operated near the stealth fighter.
Overnight, Turkey’s defense ministry said that the United States had told Ankara the YPG had completed its withdrawal from the area of Turkey’s military offensive.
There was no need to initiate another operation outside the current area of operation at this stage, the ministry said, effectively ending a military offensive that began two weeks ago and drew global criticism.
TURKEY REVIEWS MILITARY PLANS
While Tuesday’s deal in Sochi addresses Turkey’s call for the YPG to be pushed back from the border, it also means Ankara will have to deepen its security coordination with Damascus after years of hostility between Erdogan and Assad.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey has no direct contact with Assad’s government, but “there could be contact at the intelligence level, this is natural”.
Three Turkish officials told Reuters this week Ankara was already holding covert contacts with Damascus to avert direct conflict in northeast Syria.
Alleged N5bn fraud: EFCC after Kwara ex-Finance Commissioner, 24 ex-lawmakers, others
Stephen Olufemi Oni, Ilorin
The Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has uncovered how the 24 ex-lawmakers of the Kwara State House of Assembly, the immediate past Commissioner for Finance, Ademola Banu and some companies allegedly swindled about N5 billion belonging to the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) between 2015 and 2019.
The immediate past Chairman of the KWIRS, Prof. Muritala Awodun, a former member of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon Moshood Bakare and some staff of the Internal Revenue Service are presently being interrogated by the operatives of the Commission.
It was discovered during investigations that about five companies linked to some highly placed politicians in the state allegedly benefited about N4 billion from the money without any valid contractual agreements with the state government.
Other alleged beneficiaries included the 24 ex-lawmakers, including the Speaker, Dr. Ali Ahmad, former Commissioner for Finance, Ademola Banu, ex-Kwara State Accountant General, Ishola Sulyman, and some Permanent Secretaries.
A member of staff of the KWIRS (name withheld) while being interrogated by the operatives of the Commission said: “The House of Assembly members were collecting N4 million monthly for public relations which they shared among themselves.
“The former Kwara State Commissioner for Finance, Ademola Banu was collecting N5 million every month without working for it, in fact, Mr Banu was collecting it in cash, I do take it to his house, if we don’t give him, he won’t approve anything we take to him.”
Nigeria’s total debt profile hits N25.7trn, says DMO
Philip Nyam, Abuja
The Debt Management Office (DMO) has disclosed that Nigerian’s total debt profile is now N25.7 trillion.
The Director-General of DMO, Ms Patience Oniha made this known on Friday while addressing the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts.
She said: “As at June 2019, our debt profile was N25.7 trillion; this includes federal, state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“We call it the total public debt, out of this total, the Federal Government is responsible for 80 per cent of the debt,” she said.
According to her, the external borrowing accounts for about 32 per cent of the total debt while the 68 per cent is domestic.
She explained that the DMO is agency of government which began operations in 2000 following the country debt management problems of the country which lead to the debt relief.
Oniha said that the agency is responsible for the management of public debts and its mandate includes contracting debts on behalf of the Federal Government.
The Director General explained that, this is clear under the Fiscal Responsibility Act and provisions in the DMO Act.
Sowore sues DSS for N500m for ‘unlawful’ detention
Omoyele Sowore, convener of #RevolutionNow Movement, has filed a suit against the Department of State Services (DSS) challenging his detention.
Sowore asked a federal high court to award N500 million in his favour as cost against the secret police for the violation of his rights.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ /CS/1409/2019 is dated November 20.
The reliefs sought by Sowore are: “A declaration that the detention of the applicant from November 7, 2019 till date in violation of the order for his release made on November 6, 2019 is illegal as it violates his fundamental right to liberty guaranteed by Section 35 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 6 of African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement Act (CAP A10) laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004.
”An order of this court compelling the respondents to pay to the applicant the sum of N500,000, 000, 00 ( five hundred million naira) as general and aggravated damages for the illegal violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to life, dignity of his person, fair hearing, health, freedom of movement and freedom of association.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further violating the applicant’s fundamental rights in any manner whatsoever and however without lawful justification.”
According to online newspaper, TheCable, joined in the suit is Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
Sowore has been in detention since August when he was arrested.
The security agency has refused to release him despite a court order.
Buhari approves re-appointment of NIMC boss for second term
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the re-appointment of Aliyu Aziz, Director-General, National Identity Management Commission, (NIMC) for a second term.
Mr Abdulhamid Umar, General Manager, Operations and Corporate Communications of the organisation, said this in a statement he signed and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.
Umar said that the re-appointment of Aziz was conveyed in a letter by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha.
“The President of the Federal Republic enjoins Engr. Aliyu Aziz to continue with the good work he is doing and take NIMC to the next level, in consonance with the Federal Government’s doctrine of integrity, transparency and accountability.’’
“This re-appointment is in pursuant to the NIMC ACT that provides two terms tenure for the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission,’’ he said.
According to him, the second tenure of Aziz, commences on Friday, November 22.
Handful of Hong Kong protesters surrender as varsity siege nears end
At least eight protesters who had been holding out at a trashed Hong Kong university surrendered early on Friday, while others searched for escape routes past riot police who surrounded the campus but said there was no deadline for ending the standoff.
The siege at the Polytechnic University on the Kowloon peninsula appeared to be nearing an end with the number of protesters dwindling to a few dozen, days after some of the worst violence since anti-government demonstrations escalated in June, reports Reuters.
Hong Kong’s new police chief, Chris Tang, who took up the post this week, urged those remaining inside to come out. He said he wanted a peaceful resolution.
“I believe people inside the campus do not want their parents, friends … to worry about them,” Tang told reporters.
“I hereby urge all people inside Polytechnic University to come out. We want to resolve the issue peacefully and do not set any deadline.”
Most of those who remain say they want to avoid being arrested for rioting or on other charges, so hope to find some way to slip past the police outside or hide on the near-deserted campus.
The mood on the campus was calm as the sun rose after a night where some protesters roamed the grounds in search of undercover officers. Others hid, terrified they would be arrested by infiltrators.
“We are feeling a little tired. All of us feel tired but we will not give up trying to get out,” said a 23-year-old demonstrator who gave his name only as Shiba as he ate noodles with egg and sausage in the protesters’ canteen.
“We spent yesterday trying to find ways to get outside but failed, so we came for some breakfast,” he said.
A Reuters reporter saw six black-clad protesters holding hands walk toward police lines, while a first aid worker said two more surrendered later.
The protests snowballed from June after years of resentment over what many residents see as Chinese meddling in freedoms promised to Hong Kong when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Protesters are calling for full democracy, among other demands.
Beijing has said it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula under which Hong Kong is governed. It denies meddling in its affairs and accuses foreign governments, including Britain and the United States, of stirring up trouble.
One older protester, who estimated only about 30 demonstrators remained, said some had given up looking for escape routes and were now making new weapons to protect themselves in case police stormed the campus.
The Chinese-ruled city has enjoyed two days and nights of relative calm ahead of district council elections that are due to take place on Sunday.
The government has said it is committed to proceeding with the elections and is monitoring the situation to ensure they can be held safely.
Tang said police would adopt a “high-profile” presence on Sunday and he appealed to protesters to refrain from violence so people felt safe to go and vote.
Corruption charges: Israel PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, defiant in face of ‘coup’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defiantly vowed to hold onto power after being charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate cases.
He condemned the charges as a “coup” attempt against him.
“I will not let the lie triumph,” he said during a defiant speech.
Netanyahu is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensed favours to try to get more positive press coverage, reports the BBC.
“I will continue to lead the country, according to the letter of the law,” he added.
During a 15-minute tirade, Netanyahu accused the judiciary, police and others of plotting against him with “politically motivated” allegations.
“In this tainted process the investigators weren’t after the truth, they were after me,” he said, accusing investigators of extorting witnesses to lie.
Earlier, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said he made the decision “with a heavy heart”, but said it showed nobody was above the law in Israel.
“Law enforcement is not a choice. It is not a matter of right or left. It’s not a matter of politics,” he said.
The announcement comes amid a political stand-off in Israel following two inconclusive general elections in April and September.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, Benny Gantz, said he had been unable to form a governing coalition with a majority in parliament. He had been given the opportunity to try after Netanyahu had earlier failed to do so.
President Reuven Rivlin asked lawmakers on Thursday to agree on a candidate for prime minister within 21 days and avoid an unprecedented third election in a year.
After the charges were announced, Gantz tweeted his support for the attorney general and law enforcement agencies, and wrote it was “a very sad day” for Israel.
What are the charges?
Attorney General Mandelblit said in February that he intended to indict Netanyahu in connection with three cases – known as Case 1,000, Case 2,000 and Case 4,000 – pending final hearings that eventually took place last month.
*Case 1,000: Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust in this case. He is alleged to have received various high-value benefits, including pink champagne and cigars, in return for favours for a wealthy friend. Netanyahu has said they were tokens of friendship and that he did not act inappropriately in exchange for them. The friend similarly denies any wrongdoing.
*Case 2,000: Netanyahu faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in this case. He is alleged to have agreed a deal with the publisher of a major newspaper to promote legislation to weaken a rival daily in return for favourable coverage. The publisher has been charged with bribery. Like the prime minister, he denies any wrongdoing. Both men have said they did not intend to promote the matters discussed in their meetings, and the legislation was not passed.
*Case 4,000: This is considered the most serious case because Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, as well as fraud and breach of trust. It is alleged that Netanyahu promoted regulatory decisions that favoured a leading telecommunications company in return for favourable news coverage from one of its websites, as part of an agreement with the company’s controlling shareholder. The prime minister has insisted experts supported the regulatory decisions and that he received nothing in return. The shareholder, who has been charged with bribery, also denies wrongdoing.
What happens next?
It is unclear what this means for Netanyahu’s future.
He is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise, and there is currently no legal barrier to him staying in office as prime minister.
It could take many months before the cases are brought before a district court. And even if convicted, Netanyahu would not be required to step down until the appeals process was exhausted – something that could take years.
However, correspondents say many will question the prime minister’s ability to handle affairs of state if he is simultaneously defending himself in court.
Non-governmental organisations may petition the Supreme Court to force Netanyahu to resign. The court has previously ruled that a cabinet minister charged with a crime must step down or be removed from office, and it would have to decide whether that should also apply to the prime minister.
Allies of Netanyahu in parliament may seek to pass legislation that would grant him immunity from prosecution while in office, and allow lawmakers to overrule a possible Supreme Court ruling reversing that immunity.
Navy veteran dead for 3 years before body found in his apartment
A Navy veteran who lived in Texas was dead for around three years before his body was found inside his apartment, officials said.
The body of Ronald Wayne White was discovered on the kitchen floor of his Dallas home by apartment complex staffers checking last week on units not using water, news station WFAA reported.
“What I can tell you is it is very clear when officers entered that he had been there for a while,” DeSoto Police Det. Pete Schulte told the outlet.
Police said 51-year-old White had paid his rent through an automatic withdrawal system linked to his bank account.
The third-floor apartment was new, and all of the windows had been sealed when he died, authorities said. Inside his home, there were diabetes medications, which were dated 2016, reports the New York Post.
“The way he was found, the way the apartment was arranged and so forth, there was zero indication of foul play,” Schulte told WFAA.
White’s family was shocked to learn that he had been dead for three years in the apartment.
“My biggest question is, how in the world could my son have been dead in that apartment and nobody knows anything?” said his mom, Doris Stevens.
Stevens said she became concerned when she was unable to reach him on his birthday in April 2017.
She was unaware that he was living in the complex where he was found dead and a search of past homes didn’t lead to any clues about his whereabouts, WFAA reported.
Authorities declined to launch a missing persons investigations, citing that he was an adult known to travel, she said.
“All them days, holidays, I just suffered. Because nobody wanted to help find him,” Stevens said.
She confirmed he suffered from diabetes, though it’s unclear how he died, the outlet reported. Toxicology tests have been ordered to determine a cause of death.
Presidency lobbies Senate for Magu’s confirmation
…alleges extortion of agencies, boards by lawmakers
Buhari orders security agencies to crush bandits
There are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari will re-nominate Ibrahim Magu to be confirmed as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This was even as the Presidency accused the members of the National Assembly of making monetary demands from the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government in the course of carrying out their oversight functions.
The Presidency, therefore, called on the leadership of the Senate to call to order, some of its standing committees allegedly involved in these indecorous extortions.
President Buhari had, during the 8th Senate, nominated Magu at two different times between 2016 and 2017 for confirmation in that capacity, but rejected by the Senate on account of unfavourable security report.
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), made the request for Magu’s confirmation if re-nominated during a courtesy visit on the Senate leadership.
Sagay said that the country needed Magu in substantive capacity as EFCC chairman in the ongoing war against corruption.
According to him, Magu has performed creditably well as acting chairman of the anti-graft agency based on records on ground within the last four years and should be considered for substantive capacity.
He said: “In sustaining the ongoing war against corruption in the country, we wish to appeal to the Senate to consider the speedy confirmation of the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, who has done magnificent work so far in the years of being in that position and who will be a good companion to the legislature in achieving the aims of anti-corruption in this country.”
He also called for the passage of certain anti-corruption bills like the Special Criminal Court, and other similar bills, which would help the anti-corruption war and ensure that the fight was successfully done with speed and energy.
The PACAC Chairman, however, shocked the lawmakers during the visit when he confronted them that some standing committees of the Senate were extorting government agencies under the guise of oversight functions.
“We also want to bring before the Senate, some of the criticisms of the public in the area of oversight. There is this constant complain that members of committees demand some form of gratifications before they would visit a place or write anything favourable about the MDAs.
“We appeal to the leadership to look into it and ensure that the oversight work of the Senate does not involve anything that will be described as extortion,” he said.
He also cautioned the Senate leadership, and by extension, the National Assembly, to look into the issue of constituency projects in saving their image.
His words: “This issue of constituency projects has been a controversial one. I don’t want to express any opinion. All I want to plead is that you look into it and ensure that it is something of benefit to the constituents and constituencies of this country and not a subject of controversy anymore.”
In his response, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said that as far as confirmation of Magu was concerned, a re-nomination would have to be done by the Presidency in line with the rules of the National Assembly.
According to him, the same rules and procedures also apply to anti-corruption bills being requested to be considered and passed as they will have to be re- presented for that purpose.
“You have talked about passage of anti-corruption bills, you have come to the right place, but you will also do your work.
“This is a new Senate. Going by our rules and I believe that goes for the House of Representatives too, any issue that was not concluded in the last National Assembly, will have to start all over again.
“So, as far as we are concerned, those bills will have to come again and start to go through the process from the very beginning. We are ready, in fact, we are in a haste if those bills are ready for us to start working on them.
“On the confirmation of acting chairman of EFCC, there is no request before this Senate now for such confirmation. This is a new Senate and therefore, until there is a request to this Senate, there is nothing the Senate can do.
“And I want to assure you that any request that comes from Mr. President is a request that will make Nigeria a better place in terms of appointments or legislation and the Senate will act expeditiously to ensure that we play our part in the confirmation or passing of legislation appropriately.
“As for oversight, as far as I know, I am not a receipt of any complaint and I have been in this National Assembly for 21 years. But Mr. Chairman, if any committee asks for anything from any MDA, that is not appropriate, the law is there to take its full course.
“We believe that no committee or member of the National Assembly will go out of his way to ask for anything before undertaking an oversight,” he said.
Protesters seek Oshiomhole’s sack as APC NEC meets
- Edo APC NASS Caucus endorses chair
- Obaseki kicks
Ahead of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) holding today, some aggrieved members, yesterday, stormed the party’s national secretariat in Abuja demanding the sack of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the party.
The protesters, numbering over 500, brandished several placards with various inscriptions accusing Oshiomhole of promoting rancour and de-marketing the party.
They claimed that Oshiomhole’s style of leadership has resulted into crisis in many states. They also argued that with APC in the hands of Oshiomhole, the party’s fortunes would continue to decline and members of the party will be worse for it.
Although the angry protesters made frantic efforts to gain access into the premises of the secretariat, security men prevented them from going through the gate.
One of the leaders of the protesters, Iyoha Toni Osakbovo, said the protest was geared towards saving the soul of the APC as a national party.
According to him, Oshiomhole was expected to uphold the party’s constitution, but has allegedly been working against it, leading to division in the party, especially in Edo State.
“I’m from Edo State and I am a member of APC Patriotic Stakeholders’ Forum. We have come to save our party, the person that we gave the mantle to uphold our constitution, we have realised that he is the person attacking the constitution.
“He swore to protect our great party, but so far, what we have seen is not what is working. He is the person attacking the constitution; he has factionalised the party in our state, Edo. As I’m talking to you now, he has created a faction in the party.
“We are begging Mr. President to come to our aid because the person that is supposed to uphold the constitution is now the person that is destroying the constitution. Our constitution is very clear, the National Working Committee (NWC) has no disciplinary power, but under Oshiomhole, the NWC is usurping the power of NEC. There is nowhere in the constitution that says NWC has disciplinary power, but how come under Oshiomhole the issues are now different? So, we are begging the president, it is time for us to start healing, enough of fighting,” he stated.
The protesters warned that if Oshiomhole refused to resign, they would mobilize more party members against his leadership.
However, the Edo State Caucus of the APC in the National Assembly, yesterday, passed a vote of confidence in Oshiomhole and wants him retained as the National Chairman of the party.
The caucus, led by Senator Francis Alimikhena, House of Representatives’ deputy majority leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason, Hon. Johnson Ogbunna and Hon. Julius Ihonvbere made the declaration yesterday at a press briefing in Abuja.
The caucus, which expressed displeasure over the crisis situation in the state, alleged that the “new culture of terrorism and political gangsterism” was designed to intimidate party members, officials and the general public as well as pave way for Governor Godwin Obaseki to obtain a second term by hook or crook.
Apparently linking the protest to the crisis rocking the party in Edo State, the lawmakers advised Governor Obaseki to immediately issue another proclamation as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and have all the 24 elected members of the State House of Assembly properly inaugurated to enable them to duly represent their constituents and make invaluable contributions to the growth and development of the state.
They also urged the governor to stop forthwith all forms of intimidation and harassment of elected officials, appointees and perceived enemies.
“We the APC caucus in the National Assembly, hereby without hesitation, express our undiluted and absolute confidence in the sterling and patriotic leadership of the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, who has been doing excellently well and just won two tough elections with landslides.
“We advise Governor Obaseki and his management to appreciate the damage they are doing to the state and APC with their undemocratic and unorthodox political actions and to retrace their steps.
“When the majority of the Executive came together and suspended the APC state chairman for anti-party activities, poor judgement and gross dereliction of duties, the governor organised a kangaroo meeting to suspend not just those members from the party, but also the National Chairman of the APC,” the caucus said.
The lawmakers also expressed concerns over the insinuation from Governor Obaseki and his team that the 15 out of the 24 members of State House of Assembly who were allegedly not loyal to him, planned to impeach him.
While condemning the terror unleashed against the 15 lawmakers at Golden Tulip Hotel in Benin City by thugs led by the Governor’s Chief Security Officers, the caucus maintained that: “This action was followed by wanton acts of violence, intimidation, gross violation of the rights of citizens and the use of hate speech on anyone perceived as being opposed to the governor.
“In fact, within a short time, all those perceived not to be loyal to the governor and his deputy were sacked from their jobs. These included commissioners, special advisers, senior special assistants, special assistants, and supervisory councillors. Four local government chairmen were framed on dubious grounds and also removed from office.
“The governor and his deputy abridged the rights of APC members to freely associate and organise themselves and threatened the leaders of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a socio-cultural pressure group within the party. Their businesses were marked for demolition and their homes monitored by thugs.
“The shameful acts of indiscipline and political rascality displayed by the deputy governor of the state, Mr. Phillip Shuaibu during the first convocation ceremony of Edo University, Iyamho when he mobilized thugs and motorbike riders to what ought to have been a serene ceremony, was just one more effort to step up the culture of intimidation, arrogance of power and uncivil disposition by the custodians of state power and a failed effort to humiliate the National Chairman of the APC,” the caucus said.
But two members of the APC caucus, Hons. Patrick Aisowieren and Dennis Idahosa have dissociated themselves from the press conference held by the caucus and the vote of confidence passed on the National Chairman of the party.
When contacted on the development, Aisowieren and Idahosa denied knowledge of the press conference, saying they were not aware of it.
“I am not aware of it,” Aisowieren simply said via a text message. For Idahosa, he said: “I didn’t attend any caucus meeting today as stated in the press statement.”
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, has dismissed the purported endorsement of Oshiomhole ahead of the NEC meeting.
According to him, the statement credited to a faction of the Edo Caucus in the National Assembly was the handiwork of Oshiomhole’s media aides “who are hell-bent on spewing falsehoods and propagating alternative facts to hoodwink the public. The statement should, therefore, be disregarded in its entirety.”
We’ll meet labour’s Dec deadline on N30,000 wage – Govs
Nigerian governors have given assurance that they would meet the December 31 deadline given by the organised labour for the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage to workers.
The governors, who met Wednesday night under the umbrella of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), also called on the National Assembly to follow due legislative process before the passage of the hate speech bill before it.
Deputy Chairman of the forum, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto who addressed newsmen at the end of the meeting, disclosed that negotiations on the new minimum wage have begun at state level.
“Various state governments have been engaging with their branches of Nigerian Labour Congress. I’m sure it is work in progress. Before December, all the states must have finished working out the details on the issue of minimum wage across the federation.
“We are very much committed to the welfare and wellbeing of our workforce and, therefore, we shall continue to ensure we do our best on what needs to be done,” he assured.
Tambuwal said the governors are not in support of the death penalty proposed in the hate speech bill before the National Assembly.
He expressed the belief that the National Assembly would hold a public hearing on the bill and follow due process of lawmaking so that Nigerians could express their views.
“They should respect the views of Nigerians in whatever may be the direction of debate and the eventual passage or otherwise of that bill,” the governor further advised.
The governors, however, expressed support for the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 7.5 per cent, and said it is to increase revenue base of both the federal and state governments.
“We are appealing to those who probably have no proper understanding of contexts of those bills to kindly have a rethink of those bills and reflect on quantum of works ahead of us as a country and states.
“We need a lot of resources to turn around infrastructure, invest in education, healthcare and every sector of our national life.
“There is urgent need of more revenue in Nigeria. So I appeal that we should show more understanding with the Federal Government in that regards,” Tambuwal pleaded.
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