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COVID 19: Al-Qaeda, Infiltrating North West, US Alerts Nigeria [LEADERSHIP]

The United States yesterday shared very crucial intelligence with the Nigerian government, alerting that Al-Qaeda terrorists were gradually infiltrating the country through the North West zone.

Specifically, the US Africa Command (US AFRICOM) warned that the Al-Qaeda terrorist group and ISIS were exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to progressively take over the West African Region after losing ground in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.

Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa, General Dagvin Anderson, who stated this during a digital press briefing, noted that the terror group was already deploying several strategies to silently re-establish themselves in the region and expand further in the entire continent without drawing attention.

Of late, there had been a surge in attacks in North West states, including Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina, prompting President Muhammadu Buhari to acknowledge in a rare interview last Friday that the scale of insecurity in the zone and its neighbouring North East zone were becoming “very, very disturbing”.

During the media briefing, Anderson noted that America will continue to partner with Nigeria in sharing intelligence.

The Commander said, “We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intelligence sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing. And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaida starting to make some inroads in.

“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaida are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.”

He hinted that the Al-Qaida sect has already expanded in Mali, and have moved into northern Burkina Faso, where they attacked infrastructure, took out local governance and security forces, and are now controlling the local economy and exerting their control over the population.

“And we’re seeing them continue to move further south in Burkina Faso towards those littoral nations in the Gulf of Guinea, and also further west towards Senegal and West Africa. So that’s concerning to us as we watch them continue to move throughout the region”, the Commander said.

He also described as very concerning that some local terrorist groups that had local grievances now are being galvanized into a larger ideology and a larger movement.

He noted that al-Shabaab, another affiliate of al-Qaida, was already driving that instability in Somalia to destabilise the region and the horn of Africa.

He also disclosed that the extremist group was exploiting the fastest-growing humanitarian crisis is in the Sahel to gain deeper roots in the region and in the West with Islamic State-West Africa and Grand Sahara.

Anderson said the jihadists were already moving down the east coast of Africa, adding that they have already established affiliates or leverage local grievances and consolidated those into their larger movement in DRC and Central African Republic and down towards Mozambique, as well as in Somalia.

Anderson stated: “So as we see both Islamic State and al-Qaida take their overall methodology, their ideas, we see them leverage local grievances and spread their ideology, which is concerning; it should be concerning not only to the United States but to the international community.

“They are looking to Africa to try to find a means to re-establish themselves. And we can’t forget that al-Qaida has African roots and has a lot of African connection as well. That’s very concerning to us because it’s a deliberate strategy, and part of that strategy is to be quiet about how they act, how they expand. They’re not looking to advertise a lot of what they’re doing.”

NNPC Returns To Profitability, Records N2.68bn Surplus [LEADERSHIP]

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday announced a trading surplus of N2.68 billion for May 2020, compared to a deficit of N30.81 billion recorded in April 2020.

In a statement on the release of its May 2020 Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR), the NNPC also stated that the country earned N92.58 billion from the sale of white petroleum products in the month under review, comprising premium motor spirit (PMS) also known as petrol; kerosene and diesel.

The corporation, in the release signed by its group general manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Kennie Obateru, explained that details of the report as contained in the May 2020 version of MFOR indicated that 37 pipeline points were vandalised representing about 43 per cent decrease from the 65 points recorded in April 2020.

The May 2020 report further indicated a trading surplus of 2.68billion compared to the 30.81billion deficit posted in April 2020 when the effect of COVID-19 was at the peak, leading to reduced demand with fluctuating prices.

The NNPC report noted that the 109 per cent upturn in revenue this month is the cumulative result of improved performance by some of the corporation’s Strategic Business Units.

While the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) posted a surplus due to substantial growth in the market fundamentals as demand began a slight recovery; the Nigerian Gas Marketing Company (NGMC) recorded 257 per cent increased profit attributed to improved debt collection.

Similarly, PPMC’s surplus rose 250 per cent from investment dividend received and significant drop in average product landing cost.

In addition, Corporate Headquarters deficit ebbed by 47 per cent in May, according to the report, compared to last month’s, while NNPC Retail, Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), NNPC Shipping and Ventures also contributed positively to the month’s performance, leading to the significant NNPC Group surplus position during the period under review.

On pipeline report, it said that Mosimi-Ibadan pipeline axis accounted for 38 per cent of the vandalized points while Atlas Cove—Mosimi axis recorded 19 per cent of the breaks. Suleja-Kaduna logged 16 per cent of the breaks, while other locations make up for the remaining 27 per cent.

The Corporation stated in the May report that in collaboration with the local communities and other stakeholders, it would continuously strive to bring the malaise under control.

The NNPC May MFOR, further said the corporation had continued to diligently monitor the daily stock of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise called petrol, to achieve smooth distribution of the products to ensure zero fuel queue across the nation.

It stated that towards this end, 950.67million litres of white products were sold and distributed by the corporation’s downstream subsidiary, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) in May, 2020.

This comprised 950.67 million litres of PMS only with no Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) or Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), adding that there was no sale of special product in the month.

Total sale of white products for the period May 2019 to May 2020 stood at 19,865.80 million litres and PMS accounted for 19,704.49 million litres or 99.19 per cent.

The report stated that ₦92.58 billion was made on the sale of white products by PPMC in May 2020. Total revenue generated from the sales of white products for the period May 2019 to May 2020 stood at 2,393.88 billion, where PMS contributed about 98.84 per cent of the total sales with a value of 2,366.15 billion.

In the gas sector, natural gas production in May 2020 increased by

2.38 per cent at 226.51Billion Cubic Feet (BCF) compared to output in April 2020; translating to an average daily production of 7,480.36 million Standard Cubic Feet of gas per day (mmscfd).

Likewise, the daily average natural gas supply to gas power plants increased by 5.87 per cent to 834mmscfd, equivalent to power generation of 3,128MW.

NDDC Squandered N1.1bn On Political Campaigns, Others – Senate [LEADERSHIP]

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) allegedly spent a combined sum of N1.14billion on what it described as ‘public communication’ without justification and outside its mandate, a Senate report has revealed.

On pages 89 and 90 of the report, the Senate Adhoc Committee on the investigation of the alleged Financial Recklessness in the NDDC detailed how the Commission through its first and second Interim Management Committees (IMCs) spent a total of N36m and N1.1bn respectively on public communication.

According to the report obtained by LEADERSHIP yesterday, other expenditures by the NDDC were on campaigns against electoral violence and voter’s awareness on Not-Too-Young-To-Run law in the Niger Delta region carried out on May 14, 2020.

The activities, according to the report, were carried out outside the mandate of the Commission as prescribed by the Part III of the NDDC Establishment Act.

The report noted: “Of the amount under IMC 2, N156,813,025 was disbursed through staff of the Commission.

“The expenditure of N89.5million on ‘sponsorship of campaign against electoral violence, voter’s awareness on Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act for the Niger Delta region. ‘Not-Too-Young-To-Run’ issue occurred in the build-up towards the presidential election in early 2019 and was never an issue in 2020. This was also not a case of settlement of arrears.

“Broadly, NDDC is charged with infrastructural development, ecological and environmental issues. Nothing in its mandate authorises it to engage in political campaign as indicated in the expenditure of N89million on the ‘Not-Too-Young-To-Run’ campaign. It should be noted that the ‘Not-Too-Young-To-Run’ issue was a national campaign and the President signed it into law in May 2018. It certainly was not an issue peculiar only to the Niger Delta.

“This further shows the disbursement as another clear example of gross abuse and misappropriation of public funds”.

The committee pointed out in the report that it was even doubtful if the campaigns ever took place especially at the height of COVID-19 national lockdown when the payment was made.

“It is the view of the Committee that all the 41 members of staff who partook in this gross abuse should refund in full the amount each received,” it stated, describing it as ‘financial recklessness’ of IMC 2.

LEADERSHIP recalls that the Senate had set up the seven-member ad-hoc committee to probe the alleged financial recklessness of the IMC of the NDDC.

The committee was specifically asked to probe the IMC for allegedly squandering N40 billion in three months and seek account for other financial transactions within z

The committee’s report was submitted and adopted by the Senate two weeks ago and awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s further action.

#Revolutionnow: Over 40 Protesters Arrested In FCT For Violating COVID-19 Protocols [THE NATION]

SECURITY personnel on Wednesday arrested scores of #RevolutionNow protesters in some parts of the country for various offences.

The protesters had taken to the streets of Lagos; Abuja, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Osogbo, the Osun State capital and Ore, in Ondo State, to express misgivings about some happenings in the land.

They appeared angry about what they called increasing insecurity, festering corruption, the poor state of the education and health sectors as well as sundry issues, as expressed in their placards.

Many of them were held for breaching the COVID-19 protocols; others were arrested for alleged acts of violence.

In Abuja, over 40 protesters who were arrested by the joint security personnel at Unity Fountain in Maitama area for violating the COVID-19 protocols were brought before an FCT Mobile Court for prosecution.

But Magistrate Idayat Akanni, who was to preside over the matter, had other cases in another court and could not sit.

Speaking on behalf of the FCT Ministerial Task Team on COVID-19, Ikharo Attah said Nigerians have the right to protest but must do so within the ambit of the law and COVID-19 protocols.

General Secretary of United Action for Democracy and a leading member of #TakeItBack Movement, Kunle Ajayi said: “We are here to lead the revolution and protest for free functional and standard education at all levels, free functional and advanced healthcare. A very good example is under the current COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are not working, doctors are on strike, a lot of things are wrong with the country. We decided to mobilise community by community, street by street, for people to come out and tell the government that enough is enough.”

Security operatives took over the Unity Fountain to forestall likely breakdown of law and order.

In Lagos, security operatives arrested 22 protesters who were demanding actions against insecurity, bad governance and corruption.

The protesters were arrested at Ikeja Underbridge around 9 a.m, about an hour after hundreds of youths converged on the venue for a peaceful protest.

Salami Panel Rejects Magu’s Request, Pledges Fair Hearing [THE NATION]

THE Presidential Investigation Committee on the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday rejected the request for video recording of the panel’s proceedings made by the suspended Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.

The chairman of the panel, Justice Ayo Salami, however, pledged fair hearing to all parties appearing before it.

He also made it clear that no one is on trial before the committee, which is on a fact-finding mission.

According to sources, Magu, who appeared at the committee’s sitting yesterday, demanded the video recordings of the proceedings of the panel in the past few weeks.

He alleged that some sessions involving him and a few others were video-taped at a stage and sought for copies.

One of the sources said:”The panel has not been comfortable with some representations on its activities and following Magu’s demand, it decided to make some clarifications for the benefit of the public.:

“In his usual characteristic of being soft spoken and sincere, His Lordship Hon Justice Isa Ayo Salami said he and the other members of the committee are not conducting trial or enquiry on Mr. Ibrahim Magu or the EFCC

“He insisted that this is not a panel but a committee saddled only with investigation. The committee undertakes to guarantee fair hearing to Magu and all those appearing before it in its fact-finding exercise.

Another source said the panel cannot make video recordings of its proceedings available to Magu.

Agbakoba, Quakers Differ On China Loan ‘Sovereignty Clause’ [THE NASTION]

TWO senior lawyers have expressed divergent views on the ‘sovereignty clause’ in the $400m commercial loan agreement between Nigeria and China.

The clause has pitted critics and the National Assembly against the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The opponents argue that the clause ousted the nation’s sovereignty, should Nigeria fail to repay the loan.

They explain that such a clause should not have been included in a commercial agreement.

But, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), said there is nothing to worry about.

He dismissed the claim that such a clause ousted the country’s immunity.

Another lawyer Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN) disagreed with Agbakoba.

According to him, the clause “is an error” which should not have been inserted.

The loan pact was signed by the Federal Ministry of Finance on behalf of Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China on September 5, 2018.

It will fund the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Projects.

The contentious clause states: “The borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic assets.”

The ministers clarified that the lawmakers must have misconstrued the concepts of international diplomatic immunity and commercial immunity.

Agbakoba agreed, adding that the appropriate term for the clause is “a waiver of immunity clause” and that it is a standard contractual provision.

He said: “There is a lot of confusion, hot air about the sovereign immunity clause. There is nothing about a sovereign immunity clause.

“The standard clause that is introduced when two sovereigns are doing business –  like China and Nigeria – or a non-sovereign and a sovereign are doing business is for the sovereign debtor, such as Nigeria, to have her credit assessed.

“Now, look at Nigeria or Africa’s credit rating generally. Africa’s credit rating is sub-optimal. No bank in Nigeria will give a loan unless there are assurances of it being repaid.

“If you’re the governor of a state, the bank manager will ask: ‘If I give you a loan, will you not invoke your immunity?’ and you say no. Then the manager will say, ‘Let us have it in the contract that in the event you default, you will not invoke your immunity.’

Zulum: Governors Await Buhari’s Response On Attack [THE NATION]

GOVERNORS are awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s  response to their complaints on last week’s attack on Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum.

They are also concerned about the general insecurity in the country.

These issues formed the major points of discussion at Wednesday’s meeting of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), it was leant.

Although the communiqué of the meeting is expected today, The Nation gathered that some of the governors who spoke during the online meeting expressed anger that such an attack against a sitting governor could take place.

Zulum was unhurt, but two of his security aides were injured in the attack believed to have been carroed out by Boko Haram fighters.

The governor accused some of the troops on the Baga –Monguno road where the attack took place of sabotage. The military on Wednesday denied it, saying its investigation did not reveal any form of sabotage.

The governors endorsed the position expressed in a letter to Governor Zulum on Monday by NGF chairman and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi.

The letter criticised the “worsening security situation” in the country as epitome of “our collective vulnerability and the fragility of the country’s security architecture.”

The letter also expressed the readiness of the governors to meet with the President and service chiefs to discuss “this worrisome and rapidly degenerating situation”

Wednesday’s meeting endorsed the plan to meet with the President while they await his action plan on the security situation.

On Tuesday after the National Security Council meeting, the President ordered a rejig of the security apparatus of the country.

On Wednesday, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is expecting the delivery of 12 additional Super Tucano aircraft to be deployed in the fight against insurgency

He spoke during an operational visit to the 407 Air Combat Training Group (407 ACTG) Kainji, Niger State.

The Air chief said: “We are expecting additional aircraft paid for by the Federal Government. We are working to get the aircraft out as quickly as possible to add value to what we are doing.”

He described the Super Tucano as particularly important in the fight against insurgency.

The CAS was also briefed on the progress of work on the ongoing Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) of the Alpha Jets, the activation of the aircraft and the engine.

The air chief expressed satisfaction with the progress of the Alpha Jet PDM, as well as with the technicians working on the aircraft.

The CAS also inspected ongoing infrastructural development projects aimed at improving the operational environment and enhancing the welfare of personnel and their families.

The projects inspected include the ongoing re-construction/re-modeling of two blocks of 10 x single-bedroom flats for Single Quaters, Married Officers quarters and Airmen Transit accommodation.

Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari, who took his case against banditry to the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday, said banditry must be fully battled in Katsina and the Northwest,.

He spoke after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

DHQ Silent As US Says ISWAP, Al-Qaeda Taking Over West Africa [PUNCH]

The United States Africa Command has said that the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups were gradually taking over the West African region after being displaced in Syria and Iraq.

Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa, Maj. Gen. Davin Anderson, noted that the extremist groups had begun deploying strategies to re-establish themselves in the region and expand further in the continent without drawing attention.

Speaking during a virtual media briefing with journalists on Tuesday, the commander disclosed that the Al-Qaeda  had expanded in Mali, and had moved into northern Burkina Faso, where they attacked infrastructure, took out local governance and security forces, and currently controlling the local economy and exerting control over the population.

He said, “We are seeing them continue to move further south in Burkina Faso towards those littoral nations in the Gulf of Guinea, and also further west towards Senegal and West Africa. So, that’s concerning to us as we watch them continue to move throughout the region.”

Anderson observed that some aggrieved local terrorist groups were being galvanised into a larger ideology and movement, stressing that al-Shabaab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda , was already instigating instability in Somalia in order to destabilise the horn of Africa.

He stated that the extremist group was exploiting the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel to gain deeper roots in the region and in West Africa with Islamic State, West Africa and Grand Sahara.

The groups, according to him, have established affiliates or leverage local grievances and consolidate this into a larger movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, Mozambique, as well as in Somalia.

Female Soldier Raped By Bandits Appeals Dismissal [PUNCH]

The Nigerian Army has dismissed a soldier for getting pregnant after she was raped by suspected bandits while travelling to Ogbomoso, Oyo State.

The rape victim was charged with one count of ‘conduct prejudicial to service discipline,’ found guilty and dismissed from the regiment.

She, however, declined to speak on her ordeal when contacted on the phone on Wednesday, saying, “I have not asked you to publish anything, but we are working on the appeal.”

Her lawyer, Johnson Oyewole, expressed the conviction that his client’s unlawful dismissal would be overturned and she would be recalled to continue serving her fatherland.

According to an appeal to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, filed by her lawyer, the victim enlisted in the Army in March 2012 as a member of 67 Regular Recruits intake, and was serving with 56 Signal Command, Mile 2, Lagos, before the incident.

The letter, which challenged the soldier’s dismissal, read, ”It is manifest that the purported trial of our client was tainted with substantial irregularities; there is no offence under the law and no element of the offence of misconduct prejudicial to service discipline that talks of pregnancy while in service and warranted dismissal under section 103(1).”

It explained that the soldier obtained a pass to travel to Oyo State, sometime in October 2014 when the vehicle she boarded ran into bandits along Odo-Oba road and she was allegedly raped by five men.

She was taken to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, where she was treated for six days.

Nigerians Spent N2.37tn On Petrol In 13 Months – NNPC [PUNCH]

In 13 months, Nigerians spent N2.37tn on petrol imported into the country by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, data released by the corporation have shown.

The corporation said on Wednesday that its total revenue generated from the sales of white products for the period May 2019 to May 2020 stood at N2.39tn.

It disclosed that petrol contributed about 98.84 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.37tn.

The corporation said it made N92.58bn through the sale of petrol in May 2020.

It said the revenue from petrol sale was generated through its subsidiary, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, as the oil firm also announced a 43 per cent decrease in oil pipeline vandalism in May.

NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Kennie Obateru, explained that these were contained in the May 2020 version of the corporation’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report.

The report stated that the N92.58bn was made on the sale of white products (only petrol this time) by PPMC during the review period.

The oil firm said 950.67 million litres of white products were sold and distributed by the corporation’s downstream subsidiary, PPMC.

This comprised 950.67 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, only, with no Automotive Gas Oil or Dual Purpose Kerosene.

There was also no sale of special product in the month.

Nigerians Question Minister Over Claims FG Spent N523m On School Feeding During Lockdown [SUN]

Nigerian social media users, including lawyer and rights activist,  Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, have reacted to the claim by Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (MHADMSD), Sadiya Farouq,  that the government spent over N523.3 million feeding school children in Lagos, Ogun and FCT during the lockdown.

Farouq had said the programme was modified and implemented following a March 29 Presidential directive that locked down Lagos, Abuja and Ogun in a bid to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

But human rights lawyer, Prof. Odinkalu, tweeted on his social media handle asking:“Somebody pls help me. How many pupils were in school in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun during a lockdown? They were feeding homeschooled kids through their devices? How does sovereign Hushmummi become the method of “Humanitarian” work?” Another prominent lawyer,  Bulama Bukarti, also expressed surprise asking how children who were at home were fed with meals worth N523 million.

“Wow! So the Buhari admin spent over N500m on school feeding, while children were locked down?

“I first thought it might’ve been e-feeding, but then recalled that our connection isn’t great to send rations virtually. Maybe it’s sent by radio.  Audio feeding,” Burkarti said.

Another Twitter user that goes by the name Peace_man said: “This is where you have Bsc in feeding/helping the less privileged using the treasury account. @Sadiya_farouq have failed Npower beneficiaries. Some are owed of two to five months. @Sadiya_farouq failed our kids on school feeding. She failed masses on palliatives.

“They’re playing around with our brain especially this @npower_ng. Our friends are being owed their benefits but they have refused to pay them. Maybe they’re trying to hijack the money or they have selfish interest against them.”

Other social media users like Joshua Michael said: “This woman and her team should be probed immediately. Who did you feed? Are they ghost student? How did you feed them when they where not in school. How can you spend N500 million in feeding when schools are not in section? Which state/LG did you feed?”

Yet another user @JohnEzeakolam said: “There was lockdown and schools were closed, therefore where exists the schools where Madam Sadia Farouk aka hush mummy spent N500 million of taxpayer’s cash?”

Parents of some primary schools in Abeokuta metropolis also carpeted the minister for claiming such humongous figure for the project, especially when majority of the pupils did not benefit. .

Over 60,000 pupils were reported to have benefited from the programme, valued at N4,200 per a pupil, between May 14 and July 6, in Ogun State.

Mr. Kazeem Babarinde, whose son is a Primary One pupil at Owiwi Primary School, Obada, Ewekoro Local Government Area, said packages brought to the school could not go round the pupils from primary one to three.

Imo Gov, APC Plotting To Import Fake Mace, Take Over Edo Assembly –Speaker [SUN]

Edo State House of Assembly Speaker, Frank Okiye, has raised the alarm over a plot by Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, and stakeholders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, to import a fake mace to take over the Edo Assembly.

Okiye, who spoke after plenary, yesterday, in Benin, said the plot is to be executed in cahoots with the impeached Deputy Speaker, Yekini Idiaye.

“The dubious plan by Governor Uzodinma and APC stakeholders in Edo to import a fake mace to take over the state Assembly working in cahoots with the deputy speaker, who recently declared support for APC candidate to congregate in a secret location to illegally and violently take over control of the Assembly has been brought to our notice,” he said.

Warning of the grave consequences such a move portends for democracy in Nigeria, Okiye called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Imo governor, and others working with him to execute the illegal plan, to desist from their plans and allow the laws of the state to guide them.

“The state’s polity is already heated by the high political tension from the electioneering. Their planned action is akin to lighting a match in an already tensed political environment, which conflagration is capable of causing crisis in the state, and of a scale beyond our imagination.

“We call on Edo people, whose mandate and interests the state’s legislature holds and protects, to rise against this planned attack and plot to subvert their will and subjugate them using external forces.

“We urge lovers of democracy, across the world, institutions that uphold democratic tenets and values, pro-democracy groups, to denounce this planned illegality that seeks to distract a duly constituted authority.

“We recognise the constitutional rights of the three members of the Assembly to support the candidate of their choice, but that should not distract them from coming to work to carry out the job they were elected for.

“We are, as always, committed to the protection of the democratic rights of our people as the legislature remains a sacred institution in the democratisation process,” he said.

Meanwhile, Governor Uzodimma has described as false and baseless, allegation by the Edo speaker that he was plotting to import mace to the Edo Assembly.

Uzodimma, who reacted through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, said the governor has no business with the problems in the Assembly, urging those concerned to settle their problem and leave him out of it.

“It is unimaginable for somebody to say such a thing, how can he leave his saddled responsibility of governing his state to delve into such issues, they are only imagining things, it is not his business how they run their Assembly. Right now, he is only thinking of how to take Imo to greater heights.

“So, the allegation is false, baseless and unfounded and they should withdraw the allegation with immediate effect,” Emelumba said.

Regardless, a member representing Orhionmwon II Constituency, Roland Asoro, has been elected deputy speaker.

His election followed the impeachment of Idiaye, yesterday, during plenary.















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