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PDP crisis worsens as Secondus, Wike differ on peace terms

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The crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have worsened following a disagreement between the two main gladiators – Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the suspended National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus – over a peace term proposed by the governor.

The governor, in the peace plan he gave the  eight-man reconciliation panel headed by Chief David Mark, insists that Secondus must quit as national chairman; his tenure expires on October 31;  he can no longer attend  meetings of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), National Executive Council (NEC) Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Caucus henceforth; and should withdraw his case at the Kebbi State High Court which had restored him to his position as PDP chairman.

But the embattled chairman and his backers regard the conditions as “awkward, one-sided and unacceptable.”

Secondus is said to believe strongly that his mandate remains sacrosanct and that his suspension by court from his ward in Rivers State is illegal.

He is also of the firm conviction that no individual is empowered by the PDP Constitution to remove a party officer and that Wike cannot excise him (Secondus) from NEC, NWC other statutory meetings of organs of the party.

While he is willing to withdraw court case, Wike must show concrete commitment to peace by withdrawing the court case against him (Secondus) too.

With both sides unwilling to compromise, party sources hinted last night that it was becoming obvious that the only option left for the aggrieved parties to settle the crisis is litigation.

Elders of the party are however said to be worried that leaving the crisis for the courts to resolve could cost PDP the 2023 elections.

Consequently, the Mark committee may meet with Secondus and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) tomorrow or Tuesday.

The panel is expected to submit its report on or before the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party on Thursday in Abuja.

It was gathered that Wike gave his terms when he met with David Mark’s committee in Port Harcourt.

According to a source, the governor restated his commitment to peace and stability in the party but declared that Secondus should not be allowed to be part of the meetings of the NWC, NEC, Board of Trustees and National Caucus meetings.

He insisted on October 31 as the date for the National Convention.

He said if the conditions were met, PDP’s problems and cases would be over.

The source said: “The governor listed his terms which he felt will help resolve the PDP crisis and pave the way for a smooth, free and fair national convention.

“After listening to his terms, members of the panel promised to get back to the governor.

“But his options were untenable to Secondus and his backers because they amount to technical removal of the PDP chairman.

“They alleged that Wike has not conceded anything other than lip service commitment to end legal disputes.”

A source in Secondus’ camp dismissed Wilke’s terms as unacceptable.

The source said: “He is desperate to ensure that Secondus does not complete his term in office. And we know he has no genuine case in court. The so-called restraining order is unfortunate; it cannot stand.

“On our part, Secondus is willing to withdraw his case in court but without conditions. Wike has not shown any commitment to peace.

“A few days after Mark panel’s members left him, Secondus was suspended at the Ward level in a kangaroo manner when the PDP constitution is clear on the procedures to follow.

“The reality is that the intervention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria has made Wike’s camp to be jittery. No court will issue an ex parte order again or recklessly.

“Were it not for his respect for the party and elders, Secondus would have preferred to go the whole hog of the legal process. There is no way the suspension can stand. But in politics, one must learn to concede.”

It was gathered that party leaders are worried over the consequences of lingering court cases on the chances of the party in 2023.

“You can see how leaders like ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso are already raising the red flag on how the party is sliding into brinkmanship.

“All our leaders believe that judicial process cannot solve the problem at hand. This was why the Mark committee was set up,” a BOT member said.

It was similarly gathered that Mark panel members will meet with NWC members between Monday and Tuesday.

A source close to the panel said: “NWC members have been put on notice that Mark and his team will have audience with them and Secondus.

“The committee is actually expected to submit its report for NEC consideration. So, as critical stakeholders, the panel opted to seek their inputs too.

“NEC is going to meet on Thursday in Abuja to take a definite position on the crisis in the party.”

Former governor of Kano State, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, on Friday warned the warring parties in the PDP that their conduct is capable of  tearing the party apart.

The PDP chieftain said in a BBC Hausa interview that the party does not need any crisis at this time it is losing members.

“Now the strength of the party has reduced and in the end what will happen is that it will tear us apart,” he said.

“You see, the result will not help us since we do not have a president and we do not have many governors.”

He urged party members to wait and let the chairman end his tenure as he has only one month left. Kwankwaso also advised party leaders to focus on their people and see ways they can help them.

Secondus on Wednesday expressed willingness for an out-of-court resolution of the crisis that led to his suspension from office.

The embattled chairman told the Mark Committee that he was forced to approach the Kebbi High Court for a counter-injunction in response to the one initiated in Rivers State.

Secondus is said to have backed up his claim with Article 59 (3) of the party’s constitution which stipulates that no executive committee, whether at ward, local government, state or zonal level, can remove or sanction any member of the party’s National Executive Council.

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Fire guts documents, furniture, others at Nigerian National Assembly

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he management of the National Assembly has confirmed the fire outbreak at the new wing of the House of Representatives on Thursday evening.

The incident happened at a storeroom in the lower chamber’s section of the complex in Abuja.

Passers-by around 6pm who noticed smoke coming out from a store on the second floor of the New Building, House of Reps Wing of the Complex, raised the alarm.

The wing houses the offices of the lawmakers, committee rooms, banks and other private businesses.

The office of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and principal officers are on the fourth floor.

Firefighters from the Federal Fire Service within the premises and other first responders rushed to the scene.

The inferno was later put out by the firefighters and other responders.

Agada Rawlings, Director, National Assembly Information in his reaction to the Incident in a late-night statement, said that the situation was immediately brought under control.

He said the fire was suspected to have resulted from an electrical fault which was noticed by one of the staff members working with the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

He said the employee quickly alerted the Federal Fire Service Unit in the complex.

Rawlings explained that the fire was put out with the assistance of staff members on duty who immediately broke into the affected office and used fire extinguishers before the arrival of the fire service officer.

He said; “There was a fire incident this evening (Thursday) in one of the Janitors, located on the 2nd floor, Room 227 in the new-wing, of the House of Representatives, suspected to have resulted from an electrical fault which was noticed by one of the Staff to the Clerk, House of Representatives, who promptly alerted the Federal Fire Service Unit stationed in the National Assembly Complex.

“Consequently, the combined prompt efforts curtained the fire to the affected office only and power supply to the wing put off to enable a full assessment and investigations into the incident.

“It is expected that after due assessment by the fire service and the Estate and works directorates, normalcy in the New Wings, housing all principal officers of the House of Representatives and Honourable members offices will be restored immediately.

“Management wishes to commend the prompt response/actions by the first responders particularly, National Assembly staff and the Fire Service Unit in helping to curtain the fire outbreak.”

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El-Rufai writes Buhari, says terrorists creating ‘parallel’ govt in Kaduna

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Terrorists are consolidating their grip on communities in Kaduna with a parallel government and permanent operational base, according to Governor Nasir El-Rufai in a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari.

El-Rufai in the memo, warned the president of the terrorists’ consolidation in a late July memo, according to online platform, Premium Times.

The terrorists belonging to Ansaru for short, are believed to have moved to Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State in 2012 when they broke away from Boko Haram.

In the memo, the governor laid  bare how the terrorists have infiltrated and dominated communities and formed “a parallel governing authority,” exercising control over social and economic activities and dispensation of justice in the area.

He said the terrorists had advanced in their plans to make Kaduna forest areas their “permanent operational base” for the North-west region, citing a “series of intelligence reports.”

“Observed movement patterns and intercepted communications of migrating terrorists have shown a clear interest in setting up a base, with the stretches of forest area between Kaduna and Niger states strongly considered,” he wrote.

Law banning political activities

As the political activities towards the 2023 general elections pick up steam, the terrorists, El-Rufai told Buhari, have promulgated a law to ban residents from participating.

“The insurgents enacted a law in the District, banning all forms of political activity or campaign ahead of the 2023 elections, especially in Madobiya and Kazage villages,” the governor wrote.

The Ansaru terrorists are known to have an extremist ideological posture against democracy and secular authorities.

In 2021, the census enumeration exercise could only hold in two of the 11 wards that form Birnin Gwari due to the threat of armed banditry and terrorism, officials in both Kaduna State government and the population commission had said.

The ban on political activities, the governor said, followed a recent wedding ceremony involving the terrorists.

“According to actionable intelligence, members of the Jama’atu Ansarul Musulmina Fi’biladis Sudan (aka Ansaru) are hibernating in Kuyello district of Birnin Gwari LGA, which recently conducted a nuptial ceremony during which they married two yet-to-be-identified female residents of Kuyello village,” Mr El-Rufai wrote.

“The ceremony was attended by various Ansaru members and witnessed by residents of the area. After the marital rites, insurgents in attendance reportedly conveyed the brides to the dreaded Kuduru forest, in the same District.”

Extracting revenues

In the area of adjudicating disputes, Mr El-Rufai said the terrorists “fined one Mu’azu Ibrahim, a resident of Kuyello community, the sum of One Million Naira for selling plots of land without the consent of the owners.”

In addition, with the government becoming removed from rural communities, leaving them at the mercy of violent criminals, terrorists, Mr El-Rufai suggested, are manning the ungoverned space and extracting revenues from the people.

“Multiple reports also exist of bandits and terrorists exacting protection levies and similar taxes from farmers and communities, in return for permission to cultivate their fields,” the governor said.

Terrorism researchers say that revenues from taxes and levies forced on ungoverned spaces – created by the failure or limited capacity of the government – are a major source of financing and sustenance for terrorists.

Like the Kaduna situation described by El-Rufai, ISWAP terrorists based on the Lake Chad islands are also extracting huge revenues from the fishing activities and pastoralists operating in the area.

El-Rufai, when contacted, said he would not comment on this story because his correspondence was supposed to be confidential communication to the president.

In 2016, he wrote a similar confidential letter to the president, warning that the Buhari administration was losing momentum just about a year after coming to power

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Soludo suspends LG Chairman over alleged killing of wife

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Anambra State governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo has suspended the transition committee chairman of Nnewi North Local Government Area, Hon Mbazulike Iloka.

Iloka, who is popularly known as Mba Mba, was suspended over the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death last Sunday morning.

Iloka’s wife, Chidiebere, was said to have slumped and died on Sunday morning, after serving her husband breakfast.

But those who know the coupe insisted that Iloka may have killed his wife, as he has a record of consistently battering her.

Signs of violence was also found on her body, while a huge wound on her head aroused suspicion, leading to public outcry over her death.

In a letter of suspension, which was signed by Anambra State Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affair, Tony Collins Nwabunwanne, the chairman was asked to hand over to the head of Local Government administration, to avoid interfering in investigation.

The letter read: “Following the sad news of the death of your wife, late Mrs Chidiebere Iloka on 7th August 2022, there have been a massive outcry over the circumstances leading to her death, including alleged possible homicide.

“While you are presumed innocent until the completion of investigations, it has become imperative that you step aside to allow unfettered investigation and justice.

“Consequently, you are directed to step aside and to hand over the affairs of the local government to the head of local government administration, not later that 12th August 2022, until further notice.”

Iloka has only recently been appointed chairman of the local government. He has only been in office for about a week before his eventual removal.

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