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Senate seeks accelerated consideration of petitions

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All petitions against ministerial nominees are to be heard and considered before next Tuesday, it was learnt yesterday.

Senate President Bukola Saraki has mandated the Senate Committee on Ethics & Privileges to ensure that all petitions submitted against the nominees are considered before the scheduled date for the screening and confirmation of the nominees.

Saraki gave the order after receiving a three-page petition against the nomination of Amina Ibrahim from a group – the Southern Kaduna Coalition.

He directed Committee Chairman Senator Samuel Anyanwu, “to ensure that all the petitions we received against ministerial nominees are treated before the screening of nominees on Tuesday.”

The upper legislative chamber has been inundated with petitions from concerned Nigerians opposed to the nomination of certain persons on the list sent by President Muhammadu Buhari for consideration.

There have been protests over the nomination of Adebayo Shittu (Oyo State); Ahmed Ibeto (Niger); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) and Babatunde Fashola (Lagos).

But Senator Danjuma La’ah (Kaduna South) submitted the Southern Kaduna Coalition petition against the nomination addressed to the Senate President and entitled: “Petition against the submission of Amina Ibrahim Mohammed as ministerial nominee for Kaduna State.”

The Southern Kaduna Coalition is an amalgamation of all the pressure and public interest groups of Southern Kaduna extraction with the objectives, among others, of pursuing the socio-political interests of Southern Kaduna indigenes in the country and in the Diaspora.

They said that they are opposed to the nomination of Mohammed as a minister representing Kaduna State, alleging that she is not an indigene of Kaduna State. The nominee, the petitioners insisted hails from Gombe State.

The petition read in part: “In the discharge of his constitutional duty to appoint ministers to form the Federal Executive Council (FEC), President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Wednesday, the 30th of September, 2015, submitted the list of the ministerial nominees to the Senate vide your good office for screening and, possibly, clearance.

“At the plenary session of the Senate on Tuesday, the 6th of October, 2015, the list of the ministerial nominees was made known to the public. To our consternation, the ministerial nominee for Kaduna State was one, Amina Ibrahim Mohammed, who we have credible evidence to believe that she is an indigene of Gombe State and not Kaduna State as constitutionally required.

“We strongly object to the nomination of the Ministerial nominee for Kaduna State, Amina Ibrahim Mohammed. Our objection is predicated on the fact that we have reasons to believe that she is not an indigene of Kaduna State but Gombe State.

“The nomination and subsequent confirmation of ministers of the Federal Government is a constitutional exercise that must be strictly followed.

“First, section 14 (3) and (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides thus:

“14 (3) The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.

“(4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation.”

The petitioners also quoted that Section 147(1), (2) and (3) of the Constitution provides as follows:

“147. (1)There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.

“(2) Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.

“(3) Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:- Provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such state.”

They further stated that “Usually, political offices in Kaduna State have always been fairly shared or distributed amongst the three (3) Senatorial Districts in line with the principles of Federal Character enshrined in section 14 (3) and (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. For instance, when the governor comes from the North Kaduna Senatorial District, the deputy governor and the ministerial slot will be zoned to South Kaduna Senatorial District.

“The Central Kaduna Senatorial District will then take the other key positions. Presently, apart from the Deputy Governor who is an indigene of South Kaduna Senatorial Districts, all the other key positions of governance have been shared between the other two Senatorial Districts.

“From the above constitutional provisions, the President is constitutionally and duty bound to observe the principles of Federal Character in the appointment of Ministers; and each State of the Federation must have a Minister who must be an indigene of that state.

“If the nomination of Amina Ibrahim Mohammed is allowed, the indigenes of the State, especially those from South Kaduna Senatorial District will be short-changed; and this will be against the Constitution which the President, the Senate President and all the Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have sworn to uphold.

“We pray that you will use your good office to reject the nomination of the said Amina Mohammed and direct that an indigene of Kaduna State, from South Kaduna Senatorial District, be nominated and sent to the Senate for screening.

“The need to have a nominee from South Kaduna is very important if the constitutional principle of Federal Character is to be maintained; and, also, to give the people a political belonging at the Federal level.”

The petition is endorsed by the Coordinator of the Coalition, Barrister James Kanyip

Signatories to the petition are: Gurara Patriot Foundation/Gurara Forum, Vincent Bodam; Southern Kaduna Youth/Student Forum –SKYFORM, Ganaka James Kogi; Southern Kaduna Youth Liberation Movement, Khalin Wujat; Southern Kaduna Progressive Union/SOKAPU Youth Wing, Sabastine Luka; Southern Kaduna Youth Advocacy Network,Bagudu Joseph; Souther Kaduna Women Entrepreneurs, Larai Ishaku; Southern Kaduna Ladies Forum, Grace Ndi Manasseh; Southern Kaduna Farmers Forum, Samuel Kambai; Southern Kaduna Lawyers Forum and Southern Kaduna Practicing Journalists, Bomba Dauda

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senators Ita Enang, said 10 of the ministerial nominees were in his office yesterday to submit their curriculum vitae. He said the 11 others will submit theirs today.

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Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno

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Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.

The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.

The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.

The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.

A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.

“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.

But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.

“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”

Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.

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EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.

This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.

In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.

The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.

The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.

Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.

However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.

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Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.

She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. Results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.

“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.

According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.

On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.

At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.

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