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Eid Maulud: FG Declares Thursday Public Holiday [LEADERSHIP]

The federal government has declared Thursday, October 29, as public holiday to celebrate this year’s Eid Maulud.

Eid Maulud is the celebration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

The minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola announced this in a press statement released by Mohammed Manga, director (press and public relations).

The minister urged Muslims to “imbibe the spirit of love, patience and perseverance Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).”

He also urged all Nigerians to use democratic means to tackle some of the issues confronting the country

 

INEC Chair, Mahmood Yakubu, Gets Second Term [LEADERSHIP]

President Muhammadu Buhari has reappointed chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, for a second term in office.

Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, who disclosed this in a statement, noted that Yakubu’s reappointment was contained in a letter to president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.

In the letter, President Buhari said the reappointment was in accordance with the provision of Section 154 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“I am pleased to present for confirmation by the Senate, the nomination of Professor Mahmood Yakubu for appointment as Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a second and final term,” Buhari stated.

Yakubu who was first appointed by President Buhari in October 2015 took over from Amina Bala-Zakari, then acting chairperson after the tenure of Prof Attahiru Jega who oversaw the 2011 and 2015 general elections.

Yakubu’s reappointment marks the first time in the history of the country that incumbent chairman of the electoral body will be reappointed.

Born in Bauchi State, Yakubu completed his basic and secondary school education at Kobi Primary School and Government Teachers College, Toro, respectively.

He proceeded to the University of Sokoto (now Usmanu Danfodiyo University), where he became the first and only Nigerian from the North to obtain a first class degree certificate in history.

He studied international relations at Wolfson College, Cambridge, at postgraduate level, graduating with a masters degree in 1987.

He later studied Nigerian history at the University of Oxford, graduating with a doctorate degree in 1991.

He conducted the 2019 general election, Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa elections. He also conducted the Edo and Ondo governorship elections which held amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States, a pro-democracy think-tank, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Yiaga

Africa among other civil society organisations lauded INEC over the conduct of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

Meanwhile, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has congratulated Yakubu on his reappointment as INEC chairman.

In statement released on confirmation of the History Professors’ reappointment, the national chairman of the umbrella body of registered political parties in Nigeria, Dr Leonard Nzenwa, noted that Yakubu’s reappointment was a welcome development and a blessing to the polity.

Nzenwa restated that only few helmsmen at the commission had been able to achieve respectable results like the incumbent INEC chairman did during his first tenure.

The IPAC chairman praised the INEC chairman’s remarkable digitalisation programme which has transformed the way elections have been conducted in the country in the last four years.

He added that the success of the Edo and Ondo 2020 gubernatorial polls are clear examples of the positive technology and digitisation trajectory which Yakubu’s first tenure gave to Nigeria.

IPAC chairman further urged the INEC chair to continue with the strident effort to reform the electoral process, even as it requests the chairman to put his foot down to ensure that Nigerians’ votes counts in all elections in the country going forward.

Also, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) said the reappointment of the INEC chairman gives him an opportunity to set the country’s electoral processes on the right path.

CUPP spokesman, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, stated this in a statement congratulating Yakubu on his reappointment.

The CUPP spokesman who described Yakubu’s reappointment as novelty in Nigeria’s political history, urged him to use this second term to cleanse the electoral process and consolidate on the gains of Edo and Ondo elections.

He said, “The shifted elections earlier scheduled for 31st October, 2020 would be the first test of what this second term would be for.

Nigerians will expect nothing less than a very credible, free and fair 2023 general election from him.

“The CUPP on this note calls on the Nigerian Senate and Opposition lawmakers join to confirm the appointment so as to allow him have the needed neutrality to oversee the upcoming bye elections and adequate time to start the cleansing process for our Nations electoral process”.

 

PENGASSAN Rules Out Strike, As Fuel Queues Resurface [LEADERSHIP]

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), has said it has no plans to embark on strike action as is being speculated.

The speculation was heightened by the resurface of fuel queues as a result of scarcity of petroleum products especially premium motor spirit (Petrol) in filling stations in Abuja and other major cities across the country.

LEADERSHIP investigations reveals that most petrol stations in Abuja were shut down, while large queues were witnessed at the few ones still dispensing the commodity.

Responding to questions about the authenticity of speculation that the return of queues in Abuja may be due to a proposed strike by members of PENGASSAN, the public relations manager of the Union, Aniete Udoh, told our reporter that he is not aware of such intent.

“Before the Union can go on strike for any reason, the National Executive Council (NEC) must meet and I am not aware of any of such meeting in recent time. So I can say authoritatively that there is no pros- pect of strike on our side,” he told our reporter in a telephone chat.

He however explained that the scarcity being experienced in Abuja and its environs may not be unconnected with the protest and looting in some parts of the country.

Adding that tanker owners may have withdrawn their vehicles from

the roads for fear of vandalism.

Similarly, a member of the Nigeria Association of Tanker Owners (NATO) who does not want his name in print told our reporter that they have withdrawn their tankers from operations for now stressing that nobody wants to loss in or her

investment.

“The rate at which this looters are going about unhindered, what is the guarantee that if you put your tanker on the road they will not set it ablaze claiming it is government property?

“I cannot take the risk of going to lift fuel from a depot now when I am not sure of the safety of my tanker and the driver. We may have to wait until the situation returns to normal before we can go back into the business of letting fuel.”

This is coming on the heels of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) explanation earlier in the week that the reappearance of queues in petrol stations across the country is due to protest against police brutality, especially the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Nigeria Police.

Reacting on the queues, group general manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr Kennie Obateru, cautioned motorists against panic buying, stating that the corporation currently has over two billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, in stock.

He explained that the current fuel stock is enough to last the country 60 days, adding that fuel supply is expected to nor- malise within the next couple of days.

According to him, “The disruptions/curtailment of free flow of vehicular movement occasioned by the endSARS protests and the attendant curfews and vandalism, particularly in Lagos, must have affected petroleum products supply.

“With the easing of the curfews/restriction of movement by various state governors, normalcy is expected to return to the petroleum products supply chain in the next couple of days.

“There is no need for panic-buying, rest assured that the NNPC has over two billion litres of premium motor spirit (petrol) in stock to guarantee steady supply and at least 60 -day-product supply sufficiency to the entire country.”

Meanwhile, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) had at the weekend warned of a looming petroleum scarcity in the country, following attacks on fuel tankers and the disruption of depot operations across the country by hoodlums who had hijacked the #EndSARS protests.

This disclosure was made by the chairman of IPMAN in Rivers State, Dr Joseph Obele, while speaking on a live radio programme in Port Harcourt.

Obele disclosed that about 10 petroleum tankers belonging to its members were attacked and destroyed across the country by these hoodlums during the protests, although he noted that there had been no fatalities.

He said the scarcity of petroleum products could be inevitable if the situation failed to improve before filling stations exhausted their stocks.

 

Survival Fund: Payment Of N30,000 Grants To 333,000 Artisans Kicks Off [LEADERSHIP]

As the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan progresses, the payment of N30,000 one-time grant to 330,000 artisans across the country is now in progress.

According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Laolu Akande, the payments are being made to sets of verified beneficiaries of the Artisan Support Scheme, a track under the MSMEs Survival Fund.

In the first stream of payments starting today, beneficiaries are being drawn from the FCT, Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Rivers, Plateau and Delta States. They form the first batch of applications for the scheme submitted between October 1 and October 10.

He said “the MSMEs Survival Fundschemeisacomponentofthe

Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP, which was developed by an Economic Sustainability Committee established by President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2020. The President asked his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to head the committee which produced and is overseeing the implementation of the plan.

“Under the ESP, the Survival Fund is generally designed to among other things, support vulnerable MSMEs in meeting their different obligations and safeguard jobs in the sector.

It would be recalled that applications for the Artisans’ Support Scheme under the MSMEs Survival Fund opened on October 1.

The engagement with the Nigerian youths has to be transparent and honest in order to build a progressive society and nation, according o Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

 

Outrage over IGP’s failure to stop looting, cops shun Adamu’s order [PUNCH]

Federal, Lagos and Oyo state governments have received no fewer  126  petitions on  human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.

Government officials, who disclosed this in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Tuesday, stated  that 65 petitions had been received by the Federal Government, 46 in  Oyo and 15 in Lagos.

But  as federal and state governments intensified efforts to investigate human rights violations by security agents, the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammad Adamu, came under fire on Tuesday as looters continued attacks on government and private establishments with futile efforts by the police to stop them.

Also contrary to the IG’s directive last week, the police had yet to fully return to streets of Abuja and Lagos five days after the #EndSARS protests ended.

Recall that  youths demanding the disbanding of SARS on October 8 embarked on two weeks protests in major cities across the country.

On October 12, the Federal Government granted the demand of the protesters by disbanding SARS, but the youth insisted that government had not met their five demands,

The demands include release of all #EndSARS  protesters, justice for the deceased victims of police brutality, setting up of panels to investigate police brutality, psychological evaluation of SARS officers and increase in police salary.

But on Tuesday, the Federal   Government’s Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations by SARS said it had  received 65 petitions on rights abuses by the police unit.

The 11-man panel led by Justice Suleiman Galadima, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, was inaugurated by the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu, on October 21.

The Secretary of the IPP, Mr Hilary Ogbonna, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the panel had received 50 petitions from different parts of the country before the inauguration last week Wednesday,  and additional 16 thereafter.

“We had received 50 petitions before. Over the last one week we have received 16. So, we have received 65 petitions so far. But that is not the final figure as we keep receiving petitions,” he said.

Asked when panel would begin sitting, Ogbonna said, “We are considering next week, but no date yet.”

In Lagos State, the panel of inquiry and restitution set up by the Lagos State Government, had received 15 petitions.

In Oyo State, Governor Mr Seyi Makinde, said no fewer than 46 persons had reported cases of rights violations and police brutality through the platform created for that purpose.

The governor said this in Ibadan on Tuesday while addressing representatives of the youth, artisans, drivers and other categories of people in the state.

He said, “Forty six persons have so far reported infractions and rights abuses. Representatives  of the youth and artisans will serve on the panel of inquiry.”

But the  panel of inquiry in Enugu State did not commence sitting on Tuesday. It was learnt that it  might begin  sitting next week.

A member of the panel, who spoke on condition of  anonymity,  told one of  our correspondents on the phone that “we were yet to meet because of the curfew imposed by the state government. We are likely going to meet today or next week.”

In Ondo State, the judicial panel  has not started  sitting also . Speaking to one of  our correspondents, the Secretary of the panel, Mr Lanre Amuda, said the panel had not begun the sitting but it had been receiving some complaints.

But the Nasarawa State panel began sitting on Tuesday. The Chairman of the commission, Justice Badamasi Maina (retd.) at this inaugural sitting, said proper sittings of the panel  would begin  next month.

The Chairman of the  Ebonyi panel and former Chief Judge of Ebonyi State, Justice Aloy Nwankwo, in  a telephone interview with The PUNCH, in Abakaliki,  said the panel had not received any petition.

Police fail to stop looting, lawlessness in Abuja

In Abuja, the police failed to stop hoodlums who invaded the National Youth Service Corps orientation camp in Kubwa and  the Peoples Democratic Party office in Gwagwalada, vandalizing and stealing office equipment and welfare items.

Attempted by the looters to invade the Nigerian Customs Service Command and Staff College in Gwagwalada were repelled by armed NCS operatives who fired gunshots in the air to stop them.

The attacks happened despite claims by the authorities that they had deployed soldiers and police personnel to beef up security across the Federal Capital Territory.

 

Sanwo-Olu sounds tough over inter-tribal clashes in Lagos [PUNCH]

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has bemoaned the destruction that trailed a clash between the Yoruba and the Hausa in the Fagba, Ifako-Ijaiye area of the state.

Sanwo-Olu, during an assessment tour of the area on Tuesday, however, vowed to deal decisively with the those involved in inter-tribal clashes.

He assured residents who were affected by the mayhem that the state government would alleviate their pains.

The governor was accompanied on the tour by the Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat; Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folasade Jaji; Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr Tokunbo Wahab; and Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola.

He said, “The level of destruction that I have seen here is colossal; it is unfortunate. Enumeration will start immediately by the two local governments. The council chairmen and all the community leaders will come together and come up with a list of those whose properties have been destroyed.

“We are using this opportunity to give notices to all the miscreants in the neighbourhood and that is why I am looking at you.

“If you know that you are not doing any work and that you are one of the people that have caused this trouble, we are giving you the final notice because we are coming to clear this whole place.

He said the government would compensate victims after getting a breakdown of the enumeration, urging shop owners to be sincere while stating their losses.

 

Afenifere, NEF differ on northerners’ protection in South [PUNCH]

THE Northern Elders Forum on Tuesday raised the alarm over what it described as a deliberate targeting of northerners in southern part of Nigeria.

The forum said there had been “reported killings, destruction and stealing of property belonging to northerners and other assaults, which had been going on for days”.

The organisation, therefore, called on northerners in the South to “compile a verifiable inventory of lives and property lost, and approach relevant authorities for appropriate restitution.”

But the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere warned the northern elders to be careful about statements that could inflame passion.

“Our friends in NEF should be more careful about statements that can inflame passion. We make this appeal, not out of fear, but a deep sense of responsibility and the understanding of the place of elders.

“Our utterances should bring calm at this delicate period,” the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin said.

Earleir, the NEF Director, Publicity and Advocacy said, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement titled, ‘The need to protect northerners in the South’ explained that the forum had resisted the pressure to raise the alarm earlier “on these unacceptable acts of hostility at Nigerians living and earning legitimate livelihood peacefully in many communities in the South, out of concern that doing so would further worsen a major national crisis.”

The statement further read in part, “The forum calls for immediate stop of attacks and harassment of northerners in many southern communities.”

 

Reps caution FG over insistence on anti-social media law [PUNCH]

The Federal Government has warned that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder if the issue of fake news is not urgently addressed, insisting on regulation of the social media in the country.

The House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, however, warned against clamping down on free speech and press freedom.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while appearing before the committee to defend the 2021 budget proposed by his ministry, noted that the next war to be fought in the country and across the world might be t the social media.

The  Minister said, “The biggest challenge facing Nigeria today is fake news and misinformation. Based on that, we dedicated an entire National Council on Information’s meeting to that issue, after which we launched a national campaign against fake news in July 2018.

“The recent #EndSARS war was fought on social media. They mobilised using the social media. The war today revolves around two things. Smartphone and data and these young men don’t even watch television or listen to radio or read newspapers.”

A member, Emmanuel Oghene, however, warned against any attempt to shut down the social media in the country, saying the action will be counter-productive.

The Chairman of the committee, Olusegun Odebunmi, urged the Nigerian government to apply a technology that can regulate the social media and still allow the cyber space in the country to work.

 

Govt: Social media misuse puts Nigeria on keg of gun powder [THE NATION]

The Federal Government on Tuesday said Nigeria was sitting on a keg of gun powder as a result of fake news on social media platforms.

It said it was worried that the next war might be “fought without a shot being fired, but with the use of fake news” on social media space.

To prove this, government made reference to the #EndSARS protests, saying it was a war fought on social media by youths, who neither watch television nor listen to the radio  but depend  on smartphones and data.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this while defending his ministry’s 2020 budget proposal  before the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics, and Values in Abuja.

Mohammed  described fake news and misinformation as the biggest challenges facing the country that the social media space should  be immediately regulated through a social media policy.

But, the member representing Amuwo Odofin Constituency of Lagos State,  Emmanuel  Oghene, warned against the  attempt to shut down the social media space  in the country, saying it would be counter-productive.

The minister, who however, was quick to explain that the government’s desire was merely  to have a social media policy, added   that the  authorities had since 2017 identified  the dangers of fake news and misinformation, hence, decided to launch a national campaign against them.

He said “The biggest challenge facing Nigeria today is fake news and misinformation. Based on that, we dedicated an entire National Council on Information meeting to that issue after which we launched a national campaign against fake news in July 2018.

“We said then that the next war will be fought without a shot being fired, but with the use of fake news. We didn’t stop there. We went on tour of all media houses to solicit their support in the fight against fake news. We launched the campaign to regulate social media which was bitterly contested by the stakeholders.

“We kept saying that if we don’t regulate social media, it will destroy us. Social media and fake news will not destroy Nigeria. In 2017, there was a fake video of herdsmen and farmers’ crisis. It was a video of what happened in Tanzania and was played in Nigeria as if it was true.

“In 2017, a very popular entertainer in Nigeria raised a false alarm that students of the College of Education in Kaduna State had been murdered.

“There was almost a reprisal, only for him to find out that it was not true. In the same 2017, we found out that some of the videos being posted were  things that happened in other parts of the world.

“When there was a problem between South African and Nigeria, they were posting videos of what happened in India and Tanzania to suggest that Nigerians were being roasted alive. That was what led to the reprisals in the malls.

“At every time, the government has continued to draw attention at this menace. Unfortunately, it is not happening in Nigeria alone.”

 

Army denies shooting Lekki protesters [THE NATION]

Army’s  81 Division on Tuesday denied that soldiers opened fire on #ENDSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza last Tuesday night.

A statement by Acting Director Public Relations of the Division, Maj. Olaniyi Osoba, said soldiers were involved in restoration order in the state on the invitation of the state government.

When contacted for clarification on the statement, or evidence to back up the claims, Maj. Osoba said he had nothing to add to the statement.

The statement said: “The attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilian protesters were massacred by soldiers at Lekki Toll Plaza. This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country.

“At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian. From the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos were involved.

“However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government (LASG) after a 24 hours curfew was imposed. This was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.

“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy. The intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for Internal Security operations and all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Internal Security operations.

“Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army reiterates Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities did not shoot at any civilian as there are glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact.

“This allegation is the hand work of mischief makers who will stop at nothing to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Army. The general public is hereby enjoined to discountenance this allegation as there is no iota of truth therein.”

 

Lagos rebuilding: Southwest senators to push for federal support [THE NATION]

Seventeen senators representing the six Southwest states were in Lagos on Tuesday. They came to assess the destruction of public infrastructure and private properties by hoodlums who hijacked the #EndSARS protests.

They said the burden would be too heavy for the state government to shoulder alone and promised to push for federal help in rebuilding Lagos – Nigeria’s commercial and industrial nerve centre.

The senators’ pledge got the backing of the Forum of former Permanent Secretaries in Lagos.

Forum Chairman and one-time permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance Mohammed Olagbaye urged the Federal Government to extend assistance to the state.

Leader of the Southwest Caucus and Ondo North Senator Ajayi Boroffice gave the assurance of prevailing on the Senate to make a case for the state.

He addressed reporters at the Lagos State House, Marina, Lagos Island.

With him were senators Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central); Tofowomo Nicholas (Ondo South);  Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central); Adeola Olamilekan (Lagos West); Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central); Tolulope Odebiyi (Ogun West); Bashiru Ajibola (Osun Central); Francis Fadahunsi (Osun East); Adeyemi Oriolowo (Osun West); Teslim Folarin (Oyo Central); Buhari Abdulfatai (Oyo North); Ademola Balogun (Oyo North); Olubunmi Adetunmbi (Ekiti North); Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) and Olujimi Abiodun (Ekiti South).

The lawmakers also visited the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at his Ikoyi, Lagos residence.

 

Boroffice, who is also the Deputy Senate Leader, said the Senate would urge the Federal Government to assist the Lagos government financially to cushion the effect of the damage inflicted on the state by hoodlums.

The senator, who described the destruction as “orchestrated tragedy”, said: “The damage done cannot be handled by Lagos alone. We are going to move a motion to urge the Federal Government to come to the assistance of Lagos State”

Boroffice wondered why the protests festered and allowed to degenerate into violence after the federal government had agreed to protesters’ five-point demands.

The lawmaker expressed worry that many youths working in the businesses that were destroyed would become jobless, adding that it would take time for the owners of those businesses to recover, given the extent of loss.

e told Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu that “members of the Southwest caucus in the Senate are here to console you on the demonic violence unleashed on Lagos.

“The government and private individuals suffered incalculable loses in the unfortunate destruction that trailed the #EndSARS protest. No Nigerian is against peaceful protest, but demonstration that the protesters did not have a leadership will encourage hoodlums to hijack and wreak havoc.

“Adequate decision had been taken by the government to attend to the demands of the protesters. Of course, some of the demands require constitutional amendment and cannot be done immediately.

“The Senate showed its readiness to look into the issues with the necessary amendments. So, it was unnecessary for the protest to be prolonged to the point of being hijacked by those with violent agenda.”

On how the Caucus plans to intervene, Boroffice said the burden occasioned by the destruction cannot be shouldered by the state alone, stressing that he and his colleagues would be meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly to prevail on the Federal Government in assisting the State to recover and rebuild.

He added that the Caucus would move a motion that would enable the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to catalogue the ugly images from the destruction and send to Nigerian embassies overseas for those in the Diaspora to see proportion of damage wreaked.

The Ondo senator said: “We are concerned about the gravity of the damage on public properties in Lagos and other places across the country.

“We will be moving a motion in the Senate to urge the Federal Government to come with assistance to Lagos State, because the burden of the destruction is too much for Lagos to bear alone.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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