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Senate revisits bill to establish N’Assembly budget office

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Senate revisits bill to establish N’Assembly budget office

The Senate, yesterday, reintroduced a bill seeking to establish the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO).

The bill was passed by the 8th Senate on May 3, 2019 but President Muhammadu Buhari did not sign it into law.

The proposal was first conceived in 2005 under the Senate Presidency of Senator Ken Nnamani but did not receive the support of most senators when it was presented for consideration on the floor of the Red Chamber.

Similarly, it also failed to scale through in the 6th Senate, when it was to be reintroduced under the leadership of Senator David Mark, as it also failed to receive the required support for its introduction.

The Bill was first introduced on the floor of the 7th Senate under Senate President David Mark, and sponsored by the then Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba.

However, the bill, which is being sponsored this time by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North), scaled first reading.

The proposed National Assembly budget office will report annually to the Senate and House of Representatives all items funded in the preceding financial year for which no appropriation was made by the National Assembly and all items contained in the Appropriation Act in the preceding financial year but which were not funded by the Federal Government.

The office is to be headed by a Director-General, who shall also report to a governing board made up of a chairman and six members and shall “provide independent and continuous review of the Federal Government budgets, including monitoring of existing and proposed programmes.”

NABRO, when established, will also provide independent, unbiased analysis of the budget of the National Assembly and assist all the committees of the National Assembly in developing their annual budgets.

It will further provide assistance to all committees in both chambers of the National Assembly including but not limited to information with respect to budget and all bills relating to new budget heads and information with respect to estimated future revenue and changing revenue conditions.

The bill seeks to empower the Director-General to obtain information, data, estimates and statistics directly from ministries, departments and agencies.

It also provides that, “the Director General may, upon agreement with the head of any MDA utilise its services, facilities and personnel as needed by the (National Assembly Budget and Research) Office.”

In addition to the NABRO bill, nine others scaled first reading yesterday, including: National Industrial Court Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central); Court of Appeal Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Nigerian Maritime Zones Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2019, by Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East); City University of Technology Yaba Bill, 2019, by Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos West).

Others are: Federal College of Agriculture Ofoni, Bayelsa State (Est.) Bill, 2019, by Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor (APC, Bayelsa West); Police Act CAP P19 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Senator Gershom Bassey (Cross Rover South); Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill,  2019, by Senator Abdullahi Adams (APC, Nasarawa West);  and Federal Medical Centres Bill, 2019, sponsored by Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West).

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Kogi, Bayelsa polls: EU urges security agencies to be neutral

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Kogi, Bayelsa polls: EU urges security agencies to be neutral

European Union has urged security agencies to be neutral in the discharge of their duty within the framework of the electoral law in light of the elections taking place on Saturday in Kogi and Bayelsa state.

Speaking on Friday during a press conference in Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State, the Head of Delegation, European Union Delegation to Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, said they are in Kogi and Bayelsa states to support the consolation of democracy in Nigeria and not there in support of any political party and candidate.

The European Union team, which comprises many foreign officials from the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Austrian embassies, also implored the citizens of Kogi and Bayelsa to come out and vote for the candidates of their choice, noting that “the beauty of democracy is for people to come out and vote candidates they believe will help improve their socio-economic conditions.”

The EU, while discouraging the electorate from vote buying, noted that: “In any democracy, elections should be about a competition of ideas and serving the people. Therefore, vote buying is illegal and should not be encouraged. We hope that tomorrow’s elections reflect this.”

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Kogi guber: Makinde, Wada escape abduction

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Kogi guber: Makinde, Wada escape abduction

The Chairman Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Kogi State election and Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde alongside the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Engineer Musa Wada, Friday afternoon escaped possible abduction by men wearing police uniforms in Lokoja, Kogi State.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Operation, Kabiru Gworzo, who confirmed the incident, said they have already swung into action to apprehend the suspects.

According to reports, about 40 men wearing hoods were said to have invaded the Suitorial Hotel where the Oyo State governor, the PDP candidate, including the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, and other chieftains were lodging.

Some of the men were said to have jumped the hotel fence and started heading towards the apartment were the PDP chieftains were lodging.

It took the intervention of the heavily armed security personnel attached to Makinde to repel the attackers.

Reacting to the incident, Ologbondiyan described the attack as shameful and last kick of a dying man.

Ologbondiyan, who urged the Police to quickly investigate the matter, claimed that the gunmen were fake policemen doing the bidding of government.

“We have been raising the alarm long before now that the APC government in the state has been importing security hardware to the state, to legitimise their thugs. What happened today was a clear evidence of all the complaints we have laid.

“They were almost 50 in number, some of them jumped through the fence, while others surrounded our hotel. A real policeman should not be wearing hood to carry out operation, but because these men are fake that was why they wore hoods. We are very lucky that the security men attached to the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde rose to the occasion and chased away,” he added.

Meanwhile, a businessman and PDP chieftain,  Dr Alex Ayodele Delex, who is also the proprietor of the Suitorial Hotel, was on Thursday abducted by unknown gunmen.

Delex is a philanthropist from Mopamuro Local Government Area of Kogi West and a strong supporter of the PDP in the state.

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Kogi guber: Court adjourns suit challenging Yahaya Bello’s eligibility till Nov 21

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Kogi guber: Court adjourns suit challenging Yahaya Bello’s eligibility till Nov 21

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, adjourned continuation of hearing on the suit challenging whether Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi, is fit to contest in Saturday’s governorship election till November 21.

The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, who adjourned the case, said the decision was to afford Bello, who sought to be joined in the matter, a fair hearing.

Justice Ekwo said all preliminary objections in the suit would be taken in the adjourned date and any party absent on the day would be deemed to have adopted them.

NAN reports that Bello had, through his lawyer, Mike Enahoro, filed a motion to be joined in the case on Friday.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who acknowledged receipt of the motion this morning, hinted that the motion sought to stop court’s proceeding on the matter.

He, however, argued that the motion be thrown out considering that the election is Saturday.

On his part, Counsel to the APC, Abdulwahab Mohammed, said he would need more time to study the motion.

However, Counsel to INEC, Alhassan Umar (SAN), said he had no objection to the motion.

NAN reports that the suit dated October 10 and marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019, filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Akpoti’s behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday election, having allegedly involved in double registration as a voter.

Akpoti said: “That by his wilful act of making double registration as a voter, Yahaya Bello, candidate of the 1st defendant is not a fit and proper person to be allowed by the 2nd defendant to vote or be voted for in the forthcoming Kogi state governorship election, having committed act of electoral fraud.

“That Mr Yahaya Bella. the candidate of the 1st Defendant. was initially registered as a voter sometime in 2011 in Abuja, by the 2nd defendant.

“That Bello. the candidate of the 1st defendant again fraudulently procured from the 2nd defendant. a second registration as a voter on May 23, 2017, at Government House, Lokoja, while his 2011 first registration as a voter in Abuja was still live, extant and subsisting.

“That the said Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant carried out the double registration with the 2nd defendant so as to scuttle due electoral process.

“That such a person is not a fit and proper person to vote for in any election, let alone for the high office of the governor of a state.”

Justice Ekwo had, on Tuesday, delivered judgment, disqualifying the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa, Sen. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, over false information given in his CF0001 Form submitted to INEC for the Saturday’s poll.

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Buhari mourns Alex Akinyele, condoles with govt, people of Ondo

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Buhari mourns Alex Akinyele, condoles with govt, people of Ondo

President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with family of former Minister of Information, Chief Alex Akinyele, who passed away on Thursday night.

The President’s condolence message is conveyed through a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Friday.

President Buhari also commiserated with the government and people of Ondo State, friends and professional colleagues of the departed, urging them to take solace in the lasting legacies of the former colourful minister.

President Buhari affirmed that Akinyele’s scrupulousness, discipline and diligence were always obvious to those who worked closely with him, and his love for the nation, which was zealously demonstrated through providing exemplary leadership.

The President prayed that the Almighty God will grant the soul of the former minister eternal rest, and comfort all members of his family.

Akinyele, who died at the age of 81, was a trained teacher and Public Relations Specialist, and had also served as Chairman of National Sports Commission and Chairman of National Reconciliation Committee.

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Kogi poll: Court begins hearing on suit challenging Yahaya Bello’s eligibility

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Kogi poll: Court begins hearing on suit challenging Yahaya Bello’s eligibility

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, commenced hearing on the suit challenging whether Governor Yahaya Bello, is fit to contest in Saturday’s Kogi Governorship election.

The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, however, stood down the case for 30 minutes in order to study a motion filed by Bello, who is seeking to be joined in the suit.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s Candidate in the Saturday’s poll, Natasha Akpoti, is the plaintiff; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.

At the hearing on Friday, Bello’s lawyer, Mike Enahoro, who filed a motion of a party seeking to be joined in the matter, said he filed the application this morning because they got wind of the case yesterday.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who acknowledged receipt of the motion this morning, hinted that the motion sought to stop court’s proceeding on the matter.

He, however, argued that the motion be thrown out considering that the election is Saturday.

On his part, Counsel to the APC, Abdulwahab Mohammed, said he would need more time to study the motion.

However, Counsel to INEC, Alhassan Umar (SAN), said he had no objection to the motion.

The suit, dated October 10 and marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019, filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), on Akpoti’s behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday election, having allegedly involved in double registration as a voter.

Akpoti said “that by his wilful act of making double registration as a voter, Yahaya Bello, candidate of the 1st defendant is not a fit and proper person to be allowed by the 2nd defendant to vote or be voted for in the forthcoming Kogi state governorship election, having committed act of electoral fraud.

“That Mr. Yahaya Bella. the candidate of the 1st Defendant. was initially registered as a voter sometime in 2011 in Abuja, by the 2nd defendant.

“That Bello. the candidate of the 1st defendant again fraudulently procured from the 2nd defendant. A second registration as a voter on 23rd May,. 2017, at Government House, Lokoja, while his 2011 first registration as a voter in Abuja was still live, extant and subsisting.

“That the said Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant carried out the double registration with the 2nd defendant so as to scuttle due electoral process.

“That such a person is not a fit and proper person to vote for in any election, let alone for the high office of the governor of a state.”

NAN reports that Justice Ekwo had, on Tuesday, delivered judgment, disqualifying the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa, Sen. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, over false information given in his CF0001 Form submitted to INEC for the Saturday’s poll.

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Lightning strikes kill 27 in Pakistan

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Lightning strikes kill 27 in Pakistan

Officials said separate incidents of lightening killed at least 27 people and injured over two dozens of others in different areas of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province during the last 24 hours, local media reported Friday morning.

Saeed Ghani, the provincial government spoke man said that local authorities declared an emergency and rushed rescuers to the Thar Desert in the province of Sindh after the overnight tragedy.

He added that several dozen people including women and children were being treated at the hospitals, reports dp.

They sustained injuries caused by lightning and falling structures due to the rain.

Aslam Chandio, the local rescue official said that three districts including Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur were hit by heavy rains from Thursday evening that continued into Friday.

Anwar Kazimi the spokesperson for Edhi Charity that works in the region equally added that the death toll might increase as information were pouring in from remote villages still inaccessible for rescuers.

Flash floods, land erosion, cloudbursts, droughts and smog resulting in low air quality have been on the rise in Pakistan in recent years.

Climate expert Chaudhry Qamar Zaman also said that sandwiched between highly industrialized China and India, Pakistan would have to bear the brunt of the global warming.

Zaman added that both the state and people will have to realise the gravity of the problem and act swiftly.

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IGP appoints new CPs for Lagos, Ogun,5 other states

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IGP appoints new CPs for Lagos, Ogun,5 other states

Emmanuel Onani, Abuja

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the postings of new Commissioners of Police (CPs) to Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.

Also affected in the posting/redeployment are Bauchi, Kano and Edo states.

A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, late Thursday night, listed the new CPs and their commands as follows: Nkereuwem A. Akpan (Cross River); Kenneth Ebrimson (Akwa Ibom); Imohimi D. Edgal (Ogun); Sani Ahmadu (Kano); Lawal Jimeta (Edo); Philip Sule Maku (Bauchi); and Odumosu H. Olusegun, who is acting CP, Lagos.

Adamu charged the new command CPs to build upon the operational gains of their predecessors, while striving hard to implement the community-based policing initiative.

“The Inspector General of Police charges the newly posted officers to ensure the consolidation and improvement on the gains of their predecessors in the areas of public safety and crime fighting.

“He also directs the new Commissioners of Police to work with relevant stakeholders in adopting aggressive, proactive and community based crime prevention strategies to combat crime in their Areas of Responsibility.

“In addition, the Inspector General of Police enjoins the citizens of the affected states to accord the Commissioners of Police maximum cooperation to ensure they succeed in the realization of their mandate,” Mba said.

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Man dies in Hong Kong protests as Chinese President calls for end to unrest

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Man dies in Hong Kong protests as Chinese President calls for end to unrest

Another person in Hong Kong has died in protests that have convulsed the financial hub since June, a tragedy that comes just after China’s leader issued his most direct rebuke of the unrest yet.

A 70-year-old cleaner who was believed to have been hit in the head during a skirmish between protesters and residents died Thursday evening, the Hospital Authority confirmed.

According to a government statement, the man was on his lunch break Wednesday when he was struck by “hard objects hurled by masked rioters.”

His death follows less than a week after a student protester sustained a fatal injury after falling from a parking garage during demonstrations, reports time.com.

While the circumstances leading to the student’s fall remain unclear, many supporters of the protest movement see him as a martyr, and his death galvanized a fresh round of strikes and protests that have roiled the city for five consecutive days.

Traffic continued to be snarled and train services disrupted Friday as protesters occupy major thoroughfares and parts of the railway tracks. Schools and universities remain shuttered, and many businesses encouraged employees to stay home.

Speaking from a summit in Brazil, Chinese President Xi Jinping said “continuous radical violent activities in Hong Kong seriously trample [on] rule of law and the social order, [and] seriously disturb Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”

Beijing firmly supports Hong Kong’s leader, the police and the courts “in severely punishing the violent criminals,” he said in rare comments on the situation.

According to Chinese state media, Xi called ending the turmoil Hong Kong’s most pressing task.

But with no end to the protests in sight, Asia’s financial capital is struggling. The territory of 7.5 million has fallen into a recession as tourists stay away and high-end shopping malls are transformed into battlegrounds between riot police and protesters.

After clashes with police moved from the streets to the outskirts of academic institutions earlier this week, unleashing some of the fiercest battles in six months of unrest, student demonstrators barricaded themselves inside their university campuses.

Behind the walls of the fortress-like campuses, students have stockpiled Molotov cocktails, swords and arrows as they seek to safeguard their academic sanctuaries.

Several universities have suspended classes for the duration of the semester, and allowed an exodus of international students.

In the city’s Central business district, lunchtime flash mobs have brought white collar workers out to the streets to erect roadblocks and face off with police, even as the clashes have become increasingly violent.

In the face of a deepening crisis, Hong Kong’s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam has doubled down on her insistence that there will be no capitulating to the protesters’ demands. Earlier this week, she called it “wishful thinking” that the government would yield to the “escalating violence.”

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US Speaker says impeachment testimony shows ‘bribery’ case against Trump

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US Speaker says impeachment testimony shows ‘bribery’ case against Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that testimony from two U.S. diplomats in the Democrats’ first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday uncovered “evidence of bribery” against President Donald Trump.

“The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That’s bribery,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters at her weekly news conference in the Capitol.

Pelosi said that the testimony shows Trump made a “clear attempt” to give himself an advantage in the 2020 election, jeopardizing national security and the U.S. election in violation of his oath of office, reports abcnews.

“We haven’t even made a decision to impeach,” Pelosi said when asked whether an article of impeachment would be crafted around the charge of bribery. “That’s what the inquiry is about. When the committees decide that, they will decide what the articles are. But I am saying that what the president has admitted to and said it’s perfect, I say it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery.”

The Democrats’ shifting focus to the allegation of bribery in recent days appears to be no accident. Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states: “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Asked whether Wednesday’s hearing moved the needle for Democrats as they mull impeachment, Pelosi insisted the inquiry is “not about politics.”

“It’s not about anything political. It’s about patriotism. It’s about honoring our oaths of office and to uphold the constitution, and the constitution spells out what our responsibilities and what our penalties are,” Pelosi said.

“I do believe the truth will set us free and so the truth coming from the president’s own appointee, the president’s own appointee, describing bribery and threatening, in the course of it, threatening the identity of the whistle-blower, is just shameful behaviour.”

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Kogi, Bayelsa guber polls: APC begs for votes

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Kogi, Bayelsa guber polls: APC begs for votes

Ahead of Saturday’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has begged the electorate to vote for its candidates in the polls.

In particular, the chairman, Kogi State APC Campaign Council, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna, yesterday knelt down in Lokoja, the state capital, begging the electorate to forgive Governor Yahaya Bello and re-elect him in the Saturday election.

El-Rufai, who mounted the podium during the grand finale campaign for the APC at the Confluence Stadium in Lokoja, pleaded with the people to forgive Governor Bello on account of his young age, for his real and perceived past wrongs and return him for a second term on the platform of the APC on November 16.

According to him, young persons are susceptible to mistakes.

His words: “Many people say Yahaya Bello is young; that he has fought many people. For every one that the governor has offended, I’m asking all of you to forgive him. He is young; he is supposed to make mistakes.

“When you are young, you make mistakes. Please, I am kneeling down on my knees to beg you. Please, forgive whatever wrong he has done to you. He cares about the people of Kogi State. He has brought progress to this state; he has brought young people and women into government.

“He has cleared salary arrears that he inherited from previous governments. You must all come out to support him. I beg you all. Let us make history. Let us not dishonour the memory of Prince Abubakar Audu by allowing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to return to Lugard House – the Government House. We must work for the unity and progress of Kogi,” he said.

El-Rufai said the campaign train had come not only to re-elect Yahaya Bello, but to bury PDP once and for all. He stated that the four years’ achievement of Bello has surpassed the 13 years of the PDP in Kogi state.

“That is why we must all come to together and finally burry the PDP in Kogi State. We are going to do them “murus” (in Hausa dialect, meaning, total finishing of the opposition party in the state),” he added.

He appealed to the electorate to also vote for Senator Smart Adeyemi and not to repeat the mistakes of the past by voting Senator Dino Melaye.

“You all have the choice to choose between foolishness and goodness,” he said.

On his part, National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole urged the people of the Kogi West to join in kicking the “Rascal” out of the Senate.

Another drama took place when the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, invited the governor to come back to the podium and clear the air over the issue of non-payment of salary.

Bello, in response, said: “Your excellency, I can assure you that my administration has cleared all salary arrears owed workers in the state.”

The governor, who stated that he was already smelling victory, vowed that any thug deployed to the state to foment trouble in the Saturday election, will not go back to their home safe.

Addressing the gathering, Bello appealed to the people to uphold the unity so far achieved in the state, and speak with one voice by returning him as governor on November 16.

“We have been able to unite Kogi State. What we have now is Kogi Agenda, not ethnic agenda. Ethnicity has brought Nigeria to its knees. But today in Kogi, the Igalas, the Okuns and Ebiras are brothers.

“I want Mr. President to return to meet a new dawn in Kogi State that his son has been re-elected the governor of Kogi State,” he said.

But the PDP said the public apology by El-Rufai, was an acknowledgement that Bello does not deserve a second term in office.

The party in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, also observed that Edo State deputy governor, Philip Shuaibu, agreed that Governor Bello misused the opportunity given to him to lead the state.

“Unfortunately, the apology is coming too late in the day and cannot be accepted by the people of Kogi State, whose lives, Yahaya Bello had turned into a living hell in the last four year.

“Moreover, Yahaya Bello openly confirmed that he is irredeemable as he stood without any sign of remorse while El-Rufai and the Edo State deputy governor begged the unimpressed scanty crowd.

“Governor El-Rufai and the APC ought to have counselled Bello at the time he was busy suppressing, insulting, abusing and making life unbearable for the people of Kogi State as if there will not be a day of reckoning.

“The irreversible fact is that the day of reckoning has come. The people of Kogi State have moved beyond Yahaya Bello and the APC,” PDP said.

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