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PDP workers petition EFCC, want probe of party’s NWC

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Staff members of National Secretariat of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), want anti-graft agencies to probe activities of members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).

Led by Chairman and Secretary of PDP Staff Welfare, Ngozi Nzeh and Dan Ochu-Baiye respectively, they made the call at a news conference in Abuja on Friday.

Ochu-Baiye, who read the statement signed by 74 staff members of the party, said the call was important before the NWC takes the party to the grave yard.

He beckoned on Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Police, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, to hearken to them.

They accused the NWC members of financial mismanagement, financial sharp practices and incompetence in running the affairs of the party.

Ochu-Baiye said it was curious to observe that the party could be so liquidated by executive recklessness of its NWC members so much that 12 billion naira was squandered in nine months.

“Party members will need to know why delegates were compelled to pay N10,000 each into a private account of a company called MORUFI NIG. LTD.

“We are aware that over one billion naira was realized from this fraudulent exercise. Why did the NWC compel party members to pay sums into a company account rather than the usual party account in the same Zenith Bank?

“As part of their agenda to ridicule and crumble the party, legitimate bills owed to media houses, contractors and even cleaners have not been paid till date’’, he said

He added that most party members who conducted congresses and primaries that generated these huge sums had also not been paid.

He also accused the NWC members of using party finances to fund frivolous personal obligations as weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, among others, running into hundreds of millions of naira.

Ochu-Baiye stressed that several factors, including criminal imposition of unpopular candidates caused by the NWC, were responsible for the party’s poor performance in the last general elections.

He also mentioned the allegation by Ndudi Godwin Elumelu who paid N750million naira to the NWC to obtain the gubernatorial ticket of the party in Delta State.

“There are many other victims.’’

He added that governor of Kogi was requested to pay one billion naira to the same NWC to retain his ticket.

He also mentioned non-remittance of campaign funds to state chapters and wholesome embezzlement of proceeds of sales of nomination forms.

“How on earth will any political party undergo this level of tortuous mismanagement and expect to win elections?’’ he asked.

Ochu-Baiye said millions of PDP members were in great pains with the current reality of how the party was “now being run aground by a patently incompetent and self- centered sets of NWC members.’’

He stated that the NWC had refused to summon a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) since the party lost in the last elections “due to these ceaseless acts of recklessness.’’

Ochu-Baiye said the staff members were angry, hence demanding the immediate resignation of the NWC members.

“We appeal to the Board of Trustees, the National Caucus and other members of the NEC to invoke relevant sections of the party’s Constitution to call for a meeting of NEC since the NWC is reluctant to do so.

“We wish to reiterate that the greater number of members of staff has spent over 16 years working and building the PDP.

“We remain loyal staff, party members and stakeholders committed to retrieve the founding vision of our great party’’, he added.

The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, described the allegations as force and baseless.

Metuh said the staff members were misguided in the pursuit of their interest when the PDP was fighting the cause of Nigerians with the ruling All Progressives Congress.

The Acting National Secretary of PDP, Prof. Adewale Oladipo, described the allegations as false.

Oladipo debunked the claim that he had refused to hold regular meetings with the staff, saying all the records were available to puncture the claims of the workers.

 

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Dangote’s wealth surges by $1.3 Billion in three weeks, nears Senegal’s GDP

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Aliko Dangote recorded a boost of as much as $1.3 billion in his fortune in the year to January 21, a period that was a blessing to investment for shareholders of his cement firm, Dangote Cement Plc.

At $20.4 billion according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index on Friday, the wealth of Africa’s richest man now approaches the value of the economy of the entire nation of Senegal, which the World Bank estimates to have a gross domestic product of $24.9 billion.

Dangote owes the latest rise in its fortune to the execution of the second tranche of the share buyback of his cement firm this week, which investors are betting will lift the valuation of the company further.

Dangote Cement has so far yielded 11 per cent since the turn of the year, firming up its reputation as Nigeria’s biggest company by market value at a market capitalisation of N4.9 trillion as of Friday.

It contributes roughly half of Dangote’s wealth, reaching its peak level of N265.7 per share since 2010 on Friday.

The mogul, Bloomberg reported, is among the 35 billionaires of the top 100 in the world that recorded an increase in their wealth in January. The most phenomenal advance was the jump by $13 billion to $89.5 billion in the riches of India’s most affluent man, Gautam Adani.

Dangote’s wealth is on course to see a much greater boost later in 2022 when his $19 billion petroleum refinery project is expected to be delivered.

The 650,000 barrels per day capacity refinery is said to be the largest single-train refinery in the world and is located on a vast expanse of land, about six times the size of Victoria Island.

The refinery is expected to wean Nigeria off its almost absolute dependence on imported fuel and transform it into a net exporter, helping the government to conserve scarce forex.

Dangote’s investment ambition knows no bounds, and the industrialist has told the Financial Times his intention to buy an English football club when his refinery project is done and dusted. David Pilling, the Financial Times journalist who interviewed him on the subject in 2018, said Dangote talked of buying Arsenal “as though discussing (buying) the latest model of iPhone.”

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Herdsmen from Libya, Mali, others still killing people in Benue- Governor Ortom

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Cabals have taken over Nigeria – Gov Ortom raises alarm

Benue State Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom has raised the alarm that herdsmen from Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Libya and Senegal were still maiming and killing the peace-loving people of his state.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to crush terrorists across the nation before he hands over power in 2023.

Buhari’s reassurance is coming as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called on governments at all levels to take urgent steps to stem the menace of anti-social and criminal acts going on in schools nationwide.

Also as part of the efforts to tackle banditry, the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), maintaining peace in Plateau and parts of Kaduna and Bauchi states, has trained 103 youths on armed combat and intelligence gathering.

Speaking on ARISE NEWS Channel, Ortom however, disclosed that the strict enforcement of the state’s 2017 Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law has reduced the level of insecurity, pointing out that herdsmen now comply with the provisions of the law.

The state government had enacted the anti-open grazing law on May 22, 2017, to curb the nefarious activities of herdsmen carrying AK-47 rifles about the state, maiming peasant farmers, killing them and taking over their parcels of land.

But following the failure of the law to deter herdsmen from destroying farmlands and killing farmers, the Benue State House of Assembly amended the law, which was signed by the governor on Thursday with stiffer penalties against violators.

Speaking on the amended legislation, Ortom acknowledged that all “is going well with the enforcement of the law except for the notorious criminal elements of Fulani herdsmen, who came from Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Libya and Senegal.”

Ortom noted that the intention of the criminal elements “is not for grazing or doing cattle business, but to send people away and take over their land.

“Currently, as I talk to you, those people who come around with AK-47 rifles, AK-49 rifles and other associated sophisticated weapons are not just here with cattle. These notorious elements come to kill or maim our people.”

The governor cited the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs), who attempted to return to their homes and continue with their farming activities, but were attacked, maimed and killed.

He lamented that the activities of the notorious criminal elements “are part of the reasons we have still over 1.5 million IDPs in our camps across the state.

“The children, who are not going to schools, are not happy. The old men, who are forced to stay in these camps, are not happy. The camps we established here are not even standard. Sometimes, the camps are sited in the school environment.

“The one close to a standard camp is what we have in Makurdi here. The General Theophilus Danjuma Committee constructed it to rehabilitate people. No person wants to live in this camp. But they are forced to live there.

“They want to go back. I am ready to provide logistics for them so that they can go back. But those who attempted to go back were maimed, killed and raped. These terrorist Fulani herdsmen amputated women’s hands.

“The security personnel posted to Benue State have also done their best. But over 100 of them have been killed since 2017. If security personnel, who were trained with sophisticated weapons, were killed, what do you expect averaged farmers, who were displaced and in distress, to go back and do?”

The governor, thus, commended all security agencies including Operation Whirl Stroke, the Army, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the agro rangers for working hard to ensure compliance with the anti-open grazing law and maintaining relative stability in the state.

The governor disputed claims that the legislation “is targeted at Fulani herdsmen in the state. This amendment came as a result of those who felt they have enough money to pay fines or demurrages.

“The issue of the cattle business, as it is today in Nigeria, is not just being done because they have collected enough money. So, they are always ready to pay those meagre sums,” noting that the Tiv, the Igede and the Idoma are equally affected.

Within five years that it had been experimented, Ortom clarified that the law “is not targeted at Fulani herdsmen, Hausa, Jukun or Igbo. It is targeted at every person, including the indigenous people of Benue State.”

He noted that the state’s livestock guards have done well by arresting over 50,000 heads of cattle, while over 600 people were arrested for carrying out open grazing.

“These include the Fulanis, the Hausas, the Tiv, the Idoma and the Igede,” he added.

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How secret police, DSS blocked British envoy from meeting Nnamdi Kanu during court sitting

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Operatives of the Department of State Services on Wednesday blocked a British diplomat from speaking with the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

Eno Agodo, British Vice Consul, Lagos State, had attended Kanu’s trial before Justice Binta Nyako at the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday where the pro-Biafran agitator appeared on a 15-count amended charge bordering on treasonable felony and terrorism.

At the close of proceedings in the suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, Agodo first sought the permission of Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu’s lead counsel to speak with his client, which was granted.

But as the British envoy gained access to the dock where Kanu, who holds dual citizenship in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, was speaking with family members, she was intercepted by the Director of Legal Services of the secret police and operatives who had formed a wall around the IPOB leader.

Thereafter, journalists tried to speak with Agodo on what transpired, but she declined.

A political counsellor at the British High Commission, Jonathan, Bacon had written a letter dated January 11, 2022 and addressed to the trial judge, Nyako, where he sought permission for Agodo to attend Kanu’s trial from January 18 to 20, 2022.

In the letter entitled, “Nnamdi Kanu Trial-Access for British Consular Official to Attend Federal High Court, 18th to 20th January, 2022”, the British High Commission, specifically requested that Agodo attended the IPOB leader’s trial as an “observer.”

Early this month how Kanu, through his lawyer, Ejiofor petitioned British government, the United States and the United Nations to grace his appearance in court.

Kanu after he fled Nigeria in 2017 lived in the United Kingdom, following invasion of his home in by Nigerian soldiers in 2017.

This stalled his trial in Nigeria for years until he was rearrested, reportedly in Kenya, and brought back to Nigeria, in June last year.

While abroad, Kanu continued reaching out to his Nigerian followers through social media channels as violence linked to the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed wing of IPOB, escalated in the South-east.

During the period, the UK government also resisted calls from the Nigerian government to declare IPOB a terrorist organisation as it was done in Nigeria in 2017.

Blocking the American lawyer from having access to Kanu on Wednesday highlights what appears to be government’s desperation to cut him off from having any contact with foreigners or their agents.

A similar scenario played out during Kanu’s trial on Tuesday, when Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who led the IPOB leader’s defence team, made frantic but unsuccessful efforts to get Bruce Fein, a United States lawyer, to attend the court session.

Fein, a counsel to the secessionist group in the U.S, has not been able to have an audience with Kanu, as he claimed several attempts to visit the IPOB leader at the SSS detention facility in Abuja had been resisted.

“I have not been able to meet with my client, Mr Kanu since I arrived Nigeria,” Fein said in an interview last December.

“Officials of the State Security Service wouldn’t let me meet Kanu,” Fein added, saying, the action of the spy agency is a “gross violation” of Kanu’s fundamental rights.

The American constitutional counsel had received similar treatment during previous proceedings in the case.

While it could not be ascertained if Agodo’s presence in court was in response to Kanu’s request, the American embassy had no representative at the proceedings last Tuesday and Wednesday

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