Members of the National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections led by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (retd.), on Tuesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari with an appeal to him to ensure that his administration follows due process in its anti-corruption war.
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah, spoke with State House correspondents at the end of the closed-door meeting held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
There have been reports that former President Goodluck Jonathan had complained to the committee on the way the present administration had allegedly been victimising some of his aides on allegations of corruption.
Jonathan himself met with Buhari on Thursday evening on what many believed was on the same issue.
Kukah told journalists that from the encounter of the committee members with Jonathan and others, it was clear that no Nigerian is in support of corruption.
He said the concern was, however, that since the country was no longer under military rule, every accused person should be presumed innocent until found guilty by competent courts.
The clergyman said, “It (the way corruption war is being fought) is not heating up the polity.
“In our conversation with President Jonathan and members of the parties, I don’t think any Nigerian is in favour of corruption or is against the President’s commitment to ensuring that we turn a new leaf.
“I think what we are concerned about is the process. It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws, everybody is innocent until proven guilty.
“Again, our own commitment is not to intimidate or fight anybody, the former President’s commitment and what he did still remains spectacular and I think that President Buhari himself appreciates that. So, our effort really is to make sure that the right thing is done.”
Kukah said committee members at the meeting with Buhari gave update about the relevance of the committee itself and how members could help to nurture the peace God has given to the country.
He confirmed that members of the committee had met with Jonathan after meeting with some political parties.
He claimed the meeting with Buhari was not at Jonathan’s instance, saying the parley was a continuation of a series of intervention aimed at getting feedbacks from the conduct of the last elections.
“Anybody is free to come to our committee but President Jonathan, never by telephone or other means, talked to the committee.
“We went to see him, but that is after we had already seen members of the political parties and members of the civil society.
“We planned to see the Speaker (of the House of Representatives) because we couldn’t see him yesterday. This is a planned series of intervention essentially just to hear out everybody and I think the good news is that Nigerians are committed to a new nation. They are committed to ensuring that the gains and blessings God has given us come to fruition,” he added.
Kukah said the meeting with the President was neither an intervention nor a hearing session.
He said Buhari also stated the need for the committee to continue to help build confidence when the need arises.
“This is not an intervention. It is not a hearing out process. When we had the elections, it was like a wedding. Now the reality of government is the marriage and people need to be encouraged.
“We need to reaffirm that this is our country and the only thing we can collectively be opposed to is injustice, iniquity, corruption and in that regard we all had one single conversation. The President has also reaffirmed the need for this committee to continue, and the international committee has very much welcomed the contributions of the committee.
“Essentially, we are not policing, but when the need arises, we will help to build confidence in the process,” he concluded.
Buhari and Jonathan signed a peace agreement ahead of the March 28 presidential elections at the instance of the peace committee.
Those who attended the meeting alongside Abubabakar, Buhari and Kukah include the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’Ad Abubakar III; the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor; Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh; Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan; a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mrs. Priscilla Kuye; Publisher of the Vanguard Newspapers, Chief Sam Amuka Pemu; National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Senator Ben Obi among others.
The meeting came a few days after Jonathan paid a secret visit to Buhari inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Deborah Samuel: Gov Tambuwal relaxes curfew
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State government has relaxed the 24-hour curfew he imposed on the state capital following violent protest over the arrest of some youths allegedly involved in the killing Deborah Samuel, a 200-level student.
Tambuwal in a statement issued by his Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Isah Bajini, said the revised curfew will now be from dusk to dawn in Sokoto township.
The statement noted that “Sequel to the briefing by the security heads in the State, the State Governor, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has ordered the relaxation of the 24-hour curfew in force in Sokoto metropolis
“The revised curfew will now be from dusk to dawn in Sokoto township. This is with a view to affording people the window to pursue their legitimate businesses and other means of livelihood.”
Recall that following the lynching of the 200-level student for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed, the State’s police command arrested some persons linked to the incident.
However, a large number of Muslim boys who were angered by the arrest, stormed the streets in the State on Saturday, demanding the release of the suspects.
The development, which triggered tension in several parts of the State, made the Governor to impose the curfew.
Arsonists burn down LG secretariat, Magistrate Court in Anambra
Suspected arsonists have burnt down Idemili North Local Government secretariat in Ogidi and a Magistrate Court in the area.
Sources said the arsonists entered the premises on Sunday night to perpetuate the act, burning down all files, properties in the secretariat, including the secretariat building.
Videos and pictures circulating online showed that the entire buildings were reduced to rubbles, while vehicles parked inside the Local Government secretariat were also burnt to ashes.
The State Police Command has also confirmed the development, attributing it to unidentified arsonists.
DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, the spokesperson of the State Police Command said: “Yes, the incident was confirmed, and our men were there to restore normalcy.
“Right now, the fire has been put off, and calm has been restored to the area,” Ikenga said.
National Assembly transmits amended Electoral Act to Buhari
The National Assembly has transmitted the amended Electoral Act 2022 to the Presiden Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
The bill was transmitted to the Presidency on Friday.
Sources in the Presidency and the National Assembly confirmed the transmission.
A source in the Presidency, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he had not been authorised to announce the development officially, said, “Yes, it has been transmitted. But wait till Monday when it may be announced when the President will sign it.”
Another source in the National Assembly said, “It was transmitted on Friday. I needed to confirm it before saying anything.”
It was further learnt that Buhari would sign the amendment ahead of primaries of political parties beginning next week.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had last week passed an amendment to the Act to recognise statutory delegates at primaries, congresses, and conventions of political parties.
The lawmakers particularly amended Section 84(8) of the Act to provide automatic or statutory delegates, ahead of the forthcoming party primaries, from where candidates would emerge for the 2023 general elections.
In March, the National Assembly had passed the bill for the Act while the President signed it into law.
While political parties are close to conducting primaries to elect candidates for the 2023 general elections, the Act did not allow members elected into public offices and executives of the parties, known as statutory delegates, to participate and vote in the conventions, congresses, or meetings of parties.
The chambers had described the omission as “a fundamental error.”
Without the provision by the law, Buhari; the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); members of the National Assembly, governors and their deputies, members of the State Houses of Assembly, chairmen of local government areas, councillors, executives of political parties, amongst others, would have been disenfranchised.
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