Some two million Muslims from around the world began gathering Thursday on Mount Arafat for the highlight of the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia dedicated to prayers and reflection.
Helicopters flew around the area as the faithful converged from dawn on the surrounding Mount Arafat plain and the hill known as Jabal al-Rahma — or Mount of Mercy.
Dressed in white, the pilgrims could be seen climbing up the sides of the hill and taking up positions to pray on rocks already heated by the morning sun.
On the concrete pathways linking the plain to the hill, they invoked God as they walked with their palms facing the sky.
Others rested in makeshift tents or on sheets along the side of the road amid empty bottles and waste.
The second day of the hajj, a must for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it, is dedicated to prayer and reflection.
Arafat is the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon about 14 centuries ago after leading his followers on the pilgrimage.
“I went up last night and prayed, taking pictures and calling my family and friends,” said Maia, 32-year-old from Jakarta.
It was still not even 10:00 am and temperatures were already over 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).
In a hospital opposite the mountain, an area was set aside for people who suffer in the heat.
“We have deployed 326 ambulances on the pilgrimage route so they can take care of the sick very quickly,” said Meshal Alanazi of the Red Crescent.
In the evening, the pilgrims will travel to Muzdalifa where they will stay the night before taking part in a symbolic stoning of the devil.
The ritual at the Jamarat Bridge was the scene of a stampede in 2015 that claimed the lives of 2,300 pilgrims — the worst disaster in the history of the hajj.
At the foot of Mount Arafat, mobile barriers have been installed to control the movement of the crowds.
“They will be moved to enlarge the passages when there are more pilgrims,” said Ahmed al-Baraka of the Saudi security forces.
The kingdom has deployed more than 100,000 security personnel to keep pilgrims safe at this year’s hajj, according to the interior ministry.
Senators move to drop impeachment threat against Buhari
Final reprieve has come for President Muhammadu Buhari as the recent impeachment threat against him in the National Assembly may have fizzled out.
It will be recalled that the senators from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on July 26 decided to move against the President after the posting on social media of a video by terrorists flogging some of the abducted train passengers in their captivity.
The terrorists had also threatened to unleash more horror on the country.
The senators who were later joined by some members of the House of Representatives were outraged by the audacity of the gunmen, and what they perceived as government’s failure to deal with insecurity in the country.
They gave the president a six-week ultimatum to find a solution.
It was gathered yesterday that the National Assembly has since received concrete assurance from the Presidency and the military that the security situation in the country will improve drastically within a month.
Many of the Buhari-must-go campaigners are also said to have recanted and pledged loyalty to the National Assembly leadership.
Besides the assurance from the Presidency and the military to check the security crisis, it was gathered that most of the proponents of the impeachment took cognizance of the fact that the plot might fail in the end in view of the fast approaching 2023 elections.
Sources said some lawmakers, especially those from the North, fear that their involvement in the plot could cost them a return ticket to the National Assembly.
The Northern lawmakers cited former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Umar Ghali Na’abba, who they said went into political oblivion after allegedly coordinating impeachment process against ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
It was gathered that some lawmakers are of the view that the nine months left for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to quit does not encourage impeachment now and the legislature may not be able to meet up with the technicalities of impeachment.
Some of the technicalities include the signing of a notice by one-third of members of the two chambers of the National Assembly and a three-month investigation period of allegations against the president.
Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution specifies eight steps for impeachment.
A ranking Senator described the process as cumbersome.
“The conditions precedent for impeachment are cumbersome. There is no way the 9th National Assembly can remove Buhari from office because it cannot meet constitutional requirement,” he told The Nation.
“Insecurity is actually insufficient to ask a President to leave office. The constitution is emphatic on corruption and gross abuse of office.
Read Also: APC tackles opposition lawmakers over impeachment threat
“Most of the Senators and members of the House of Representatives have seen it that it will be futile to pursue impeachment against Buhari.
“Actually, what played out on the floor was not what we agreed at the executive session of the Senate. Some PDP senators were only trying to be politically smart.
“We reached a consensus that the security situation in the country was bad and we ought to draw the attention of the government to it.”
A principal officer said: “The opposition does not have the number to sack Buhari. They succeeded in crying out but we knew they were not sincere.
“Some of those shouting can be rated more as APC in spirit than PDP. They even have more sympathy for Buhari than those of us in the ruling party.
“In the fullness of time, we will reel out names of these PDP lawmakers who are closer to the seat of power.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Some of these lawmakers in the opposition have recanted and pledged loyalty to the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
“Mark my words, the impeachment plot has crumbled. You will see what will happen when we are back in session.
“In any case, the President of the Senate faulted the so-called motion. So, there is nothing on ground to confirm any sign of impeachment notice.”
A Senator from the Northeast said: “When we met with security chiefs, we were able to come to terms with the realities on ground.
“Impeachment is not the solution but how to rally round the military to curtail the security problems facing the country.
“In 2015, there were security threats to the general election from only the North-East. But now, insecurity is in all parts of the country.
“Is it impeachment we need or outright solution? We are not even sure of the 2023 polls holding in many parts of the country.
“The security chiefs released facts and figures which dazed us. But they assured us that with the response of the Presidency, the situation will improve in the next one month.
“And for those of us from the North, any involvement in the impeachment move against Buhari can lead to defeat in the general election. I have not forgotten Na’abba’s experience.”
A PDP Senator admitted that the “timelines for campaign, elections and removal process cannot be met in the remaining months left for Buhari.
“If you study Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution very well, about eight steps are involved if we want to impeach Buhari. I am a realist. It looks impossible.
“But we have made our points and Nigerians are in agreement with us that the security challenges have worsened.
“I have weighed all options, we cannot go far with the impeachment plot.”
Another PDP Senator said: “By the time we return from recess, 2023 poll campaign will occupy our time. I don’t think anyone will be talking of impeachment again.”
Section 143 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) deals with the removal of the president and vice-president from office.
It is a very long process, taking at least three months to complete.
(1) The President or Vice-President may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(2) Whenever a notice of any allegation in writing signed by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly:-
(a) is presented to the President of the Senate;
(b) stating that the holder of the office of President or Vice-President is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified, the President of the Senate shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a copy thereof to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the National Assembly, and shall also cause any statement made in reply to the allegation by the holder of the office to be served on each member of the National Assembly.
(3) Within fourteen days of the presentation of the notice to the President of the Senate (whether or not any statement was made by the holder of the office in reply to the allegation contained in the notice) each House of the National Assembly shall resolve by motion without any debate whether or not the allegation shall be investigated.
(4) A motion of the National Assembly that the allegation be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed, unless it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly.
(5) Within seven days of the passing of a motion under the foregoing provisions, the Chief Justice of Nigeria shall at the request of the President of the Senate appoint a Panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity, not being members of any public service, legislative house or political party, to investigate the allegation as provided in this section.
(6) The holder of an office whose conduct is being investigated under this section shall have the right to defend himself in person and be represented before the Panel by legal practitioners of his own choice.
(7) A Panel appointed under this section shall –
(a) have such powers and exercise its functions in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed by the National Assembly; and
(b) within three months of its appointment report its findings to each House of the National Assembly.
(8) Where the Panel reports to each House of the National Assembly that the allegation has not been proved, no further proceedings shall be taken in respect of the matter.
(9) Where the report of the Panel is that the allegation against the holder of the office has been proved, then within fourteen days of the receipt of the report at the House the National Assembly shall consider the report, and if by a resolution of each House of the National Assembly supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all its members, the report of the Panel is adopted, then the holder of the office shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.
(10) No proceedings or determination of the Panel or of the National Assembly or any matter relating thereto shall be entertained or questioned in any court.
(11) In this section – “gross misconduct” means a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this Constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the opinion of the National Assembly to gross misconduct.”
JUST IN: Police arrest wanted suspected cultist, Rasidi Oko-Ilu in Osun
A wanted suspected cultist in Osun State, Rasheed Hammed, popularly known Oko-Ilu, has been arrested.
Oko-Ilu, who has been terrorising Ede and allegedly caused deaths of many, was arrested by men of the anti cultism unit of the State police command.
He was arrested around 4 a.m. in his hideout in the State capital and is currently cooling off in the police custody.
Rasheed, a welder by vocation, is being trailed by the security agents for allegedly causing death of many people in Ede community.
‘Rasidi Baale Oko’lu’ was allegedly linked to the death of Hassan Adedeji, a Higher National Diploma graduate of Banking and Finance of Federal Polytechnic, Ede, awaiting his call-up letter, as well as, an Okada rider, whose identity was not made known.
He was consequently declared wanted by Osun State Police Command, saying anyone that harboured him would also be treated as a criminal.
A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer for Osun Command, Yemisi Opalola, in March said Rasidi was wanted in connection with offences of murder, arson, ritual killing and armed robbery.
It further read, “suspect has been causing menace in Ede and the entire Osun state. Anybody by harbour the suspect will be treated by the police as accomplice to the crimes. Anybody having useful information to his whereabouts will be handsomely rewarded.”
No respite for Nigeria as oil production falls to 1.083m bpd in July
The expectation that Nigeria’s current dollar crunch could subside soon has again been dashed as the country’s crude oil production remained below expectation, slumping to 1.083 million barrels per day in July.
July’s production figure, sourced from the data released by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), followed the trend in the country’s abysmally low drilling capacity in at least the last 10 months.
For the month under review, however, the country’s production allocation by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was roughly 1.8 million (1.799) barrels per day.
This means that Nigeria could not produce as much as 717,000 bpd or 22.22 million barrels during July. When valued at a conservative price of $110 per barrel, the 22.22 million barrels were about $2.444 billion for the month.
While the rest of the oil-producing world and oil majors continue to enjoy high oil prices, Nigeria’s case has been different.
Though the country currently needs every dollar it can get, as pressure on the economy, due to the near non-availability of the greenback continues to mount, the slump in oil production has dashed this hope.
For months, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has not been able to remit a kobo to the federation account.
The company blamed the extant subsidy payment regime as well as the massive ongoing oil theft in the Niger Delta.
In addition, Nigeria has fingered years of declining upstream investment, inability to restart oil wells shut in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as well as outright sabotage by oil-producing communities for its lack of capacity to raise production.
If there’s no improvement by September, the production deficit is likely to get worse, since OPEC and its allies agreed to an increase in oil production this month, following calls by the United States and other major consumers for more supply.
In the latest round of distribution of quotas, Nigeria got a modest 4,000 bpd increase, raising its production quota to 1.830 million bpd for September as opposed to the 1.826 million bpd output it got for August and 1.8 million bpd in July.
Nigeria only managed to hit just 1.158 million bpd in the June assessment after it fell to a record low of 1.024 million bpd in the previous month of May.
In the 2022 budget, the federal government pegged the crude oil benchmark at $73 bpd with the projected oil production put at 1.88 million bpd
A recent review indicated that Nigeria produced less crude oil in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2020 and 2021.
It showed that Nigeria’s total of 220.016 million barrels of oil drilled in 2022, is less than the 302.4 million in 2020. That’s roughly a 27.15 per cent decrease.
The NUPRC data further showed that in the first six months of 2021, when the world had started recovering from the pandemic, Nigeria also surpassed this year’s six-month drilling total for the same period by 28.6 million barrels.
Specifically, while the country managed to produce 302.4 million barrels in 2020, it drilled 248.6 million barrels in the same period in 2021, but it quickly degenerated to 220.016 million barrels from January to June this year. That is an 11.29 per cent change between 2021 and 2022.
Of the country’s recorded 35 terminals/streams, the NUPRC data showed that Ajapa, Ima and Anambra Basin remain non-producing, while Tulja-Okwuibome started producing in 2022, after a period of dormancy in 2020 and 2021.
The new low production became worse in May when 1.024 million bpd was recorded. In June, it was 1.158 million bpd, according to self-reported data by the government, however, it has fallen again to 1.083 million bpd in July, far from the projection for the period. It was also markedly lower than the production for April, which stood at 1.219 million bpd.
Similarly, Nigeria produced 1.398 million bpd in January, 1.257 million bpd in February and 1.237 in March, according to the NUPRC data.
But despite the huge gulf between expected and actual production, the Minister of State, Petroleum, Mr Timipre Sylva, had recently said the gap would be filled by this August.
Sylva’s comment came after similar assurances by the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPCL, Mallam Mele Kyari, that the country would drill enough oil to cover the deficit by December last year.
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