In spite of the public outcry trailing the impending passage of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) regulation bill by the House of Representatives, the lower chamber has said it is determined to pass the bill because some of the NGOs are used to fund terrorism and insurgency in the country.
The deputy majority leader of the House, Hon. Umar Buba Jibril (APC, Kogi), who made the position of the House known in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday said the intendment of the new NGO bill was to forestall alleged illegal activities of some NGOs that disappeared after collecting funds from people.
“The NGOs bill, therefore, is primarily to set up a commission to regulate their activities and provide a platform for robust relationships between them and the government for the interests of Nigerians.
He disclosed that “recent developments have shown that; some people registered NGOs, solicited for funds and disappeared. That happened recently in the North-east. Some NGOs are used to fund the activities of terrorist and insurgents”.
According to him, the bill “is to ensure transparency and accountability in the ways and manners the NGOs collect money and use them for Nigerians”.
Explaining further, Jibril noted that “the NGOs bill is not new or peculiar to Nigeria. It exists in many countries particularly in the ECOWAS sub-region and all over Africa and other continents. In Europe, Israel passed theirs last year! Kenya has a similar law since 1990.
He warned that “Nigeria is and should not be a banana republic where anything goes”.
Jibril stressed that religious bodies and organisations are not NGOs adding that “our quasi-financial institutions at local levels are not NGOs! These organisations have existed for centuries to serve businesses and commerce of our market women and traders.
“Now NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) are voluntary organisations that are registered to partner government at all levels to fill gaps wherever they exist. They are supposed to be partners in progress with the government; therefore the need for a commission to serve this purpose arises.
“Secondly and naturally for them to carry out their activities, the NGOs and CSOs solicit for funds from all over the world and collect billions of naira on behalf of Nigerians!
“Thirdly they recruit expatriates to help them run their activities in the country with lots of abuses”
Recall that the bill has received bashing from a cross-section of individuals and civil society organisations prominent among which are SERAP and a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, who described the proposed legislation as unnecessary.
But Hon. Jibril dismissed such criticisms saying “the way the NGOs are reacting to this wonderful and well-packaged bill particularly SERAP is not only shameful but condemnable”.
Adding, he said “The Nigerian parliament is an institution governed by rules and traditions. When a bill is for public hearing you go there and present your views like other interested Nigerians and invited cooperate bodies and government agencies for the standing committee to do justice to the bill. Period!
“Going on cheap propaganda and blackmail and even calling on World bodies including the United Nations to help you withdraw a bill from our National Assembly will not help you”
South-South leaders dump Oyegun, endorse Oshiomhole
The South-South leaders, elders and caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, dumped the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, ahead of the May 14 elective convention. In his stead, the APC leaders endorsed the immediate past governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as the choice of the zone for the plum job.
The party leaders took the decision after a meeting in Benin, the Edo State capital, yesterday.
The meeting, which lasted for over four hours, attracted who is who from the oil-rich South-South in the party led by its National Vice Chairman (South-South), Mr. Ntufam Hilliard Eta. Also in attendance were Oshiomhole; Governor Godwin Obaseki; former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Silva; Senator Magnus Abbe, Alims Agoda; Hon. Eseme Eyiboh; former Military Governor of Ogun State, Chief Sam Ewang; Mrs. Miriam Alli; Senator Francis Alimekhena; Frank Ajobena; Chief Great Ogboru; Hon. Victor Ochei; Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; Senator Domingo Obende; Speaker Kabiru Adjoto and Comrade Frank Kokori.
Members of APC caucus from South-South in the National Assembly were also in attendance. Temper rose during the meeting when some supporters of the former governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, kicked against the adoption of any candidate. But Amaechi’s supporters and four state chairmen of APC were shouted down by majority of the leaders from the zone. One of the delegates had nominated Oyegun, but thunderous voice vote for Oshiomhole’s nomination scaled through. Oyegun and Amaechi were conspicuously absent at the meeting.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the zonal meeting, Eta expressed joy with the outcome, asserting that the voice of the majority prevailed.
Eta said: “You are all aware of the happenings in the party and, luckily, one of the decisions taken by the National Executive Council (NEC) was that the positions of the party should be retained in the various jurisdictions that are occupying those positions as at now. And you are aware that the South-South is occupying the number one position of the party in Nigeria.
“And it is important that we proceed from the premise of that meeting and begin to discuss and interact on the best ways that we can use those resolutions reached at NEC to impact positively on the South-South zone of the party given that the zone is unarguably the fastest growing zone of the party. We also took into consideration the need to put our best forward. “It was on the basis of these reasons that we decided to meet today (yesterday) as the South-South zone of the party.
And in considering the retention of positions as regards the status quo, Edo State chapter of the party, led by its chairman, availed us with the information that the party in Edo has come to the conclusion that a candidate in the person of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole be presented to carry on the flag of the party. That decision was unanimous, which means every member of the state caucus did not just participate, but accepted that this must be the position of Edo State.”
According to him, “having considered the position of Edo State, it was put to vote and majority of members of the zonal executive committee decided that Edo State’s position must be affirmed by the zonal executive committee. We had some dissenting views, which is normal in a democracy. Majority will always have its way and minority its say. “In the course of the deliberation, somebody had also presented the candidature of Chief Oyegun, but through voice vote of the zonal executive committee, that vote was defeated.
The position of Oshiomhole prevailed and that stands as the position of the zonal executive committee of the party. “Oyegun was invited for the meeting, but maybe he took excuse, which is normal. This is not the first time we are doing it in the zone. In 2014, a few days to the national convention, we also had a meeting of the zone where the position of Edo was canvassed. They came to that meeting to tell us that they wanted Chief Oyegun against Chief Tom Ikimi and we followed them.
“That time, some people kicked against Oyegun, but the majority prevailed and today, the majority have said that Oshiomhole is our choice for the national chairmanship position.”
But four state chairmen – Chief Davies Ikanya (Rivers), Deacon Joseph Fafi (Bayelsa), Mr. Etim John (Cross River) and Dr. Amadu Attai (Akwa Ibom) – as well as the APC Deputy National Secretary, Hon. Victor Giadom, distanced themselves from the endorsement. The state chairmen, who spoke after the zonal caucus meeting held at the Edo State Government House, insisted that Oyegun should be given a right of first refusal as the incumbent national chairman.
The Rivers State APC chairman, Ikanya, said: “We were here for a meeting, only to be ambushed by the National Vice Chairman of the party (Hilliard Eta) to adopt a preconceived candidate.
“The Zonal Executive Committee does not have the power to elect, nominate or to adopt candidates for national offices. It is the national convention that can do that. Also, there are very senior members in the zone that were shut out of this meeting purposely.
So, in this zone, where we have a sitting chairman and he is not invited to a meeting, you have six ministers, you have former governors, you have very senior citizens of this zone and they were shut out of the meeting only for the national vice chairman to ambush everybody, ignoring every motion that was moved.
“We want you to know that four states are saying that this was an ambush, it was not acceptable, there was no resolution. We have said that every person is free to run in the election.
“What has happened at this meeting is a farce; it is not binding on anybody, it is null and void. Four states are saying no, whereas just two states – Edo and some parts of Delta – are the people that are saying that they have a resolution. This is not how democracy should be practiced. Arising from this meeting today, the majority view is that there is no consensus on any candidate.”
Bayelsa State APC chairman, Fafi, said “what happened was undemocratic, unexpected and a complete fraud.” His counterpart from Cross River, John, said the decision was “undemocratic and inconsequential.”
Akwa Ibom State APC chairman, Attai, said, “any resolution that was reached is null and void because we were not allowed to vote.”
One of Amaechi’s associates, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, dismissed the endorsement of Oshiomhole as the candidate of the zone. Jaja, who was at the meeting of the South-South APC held in Benin, said there was no endorsement. The Edo State chapter of the ruling APC had, in the early hours of yesterday, endorsed the Iyamho-born politician after a marathon meeting that ended about 3 a.m.
EFCC detains Nwaoboshi, police hunt for Melaye
This is not the best of time for some members of the Senate. Two of the senators are now in the eyes of the storm.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has for about eight days detained Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP, Delta North) over alleged fraud.
Also, Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) was yesterday prevented from travelling abroad while armed policemen laid siege to his Abuja residence.
Nwaoboshi was arrested over the purchase of a 12-storey “Guinea House” in Lagos and alleged corruption in the equipment contract he got from the Delta State Government.
The building was owned by Delta State before the sale.
The lawmaker purchased the building for N805 million through his company, Golden Touch Construction Project Limited.
Nwaoboshi, who represents Delta North Senatorial District, was detained after interrogation on April 17.
EFCC’s spokesman, Wilson Uwajare, confirmed that the senator is in custody.
The Delta lawmaker has asked supporters to be calm and law abiding, saying his ordeal was the handiwork of “detractors”.
A statement by his media aide, Hon. Andy Onyemeziem, read thus: “We hereby bring to the notice of the general public that on Tuesday April 17, 2018, Senator (Barr.) Peter Onyeluka Nwaoboshi was detained by the EFCC after series of interrogation over some pending issues part of which is already before the court.
“While, formal charges have been filed against him by the Commission, however, attention is drawn to the ill treatment meted against his person.
“As a law abiding citizen, who believes fervently in the rule of law, the senator urges his teeming supporters and well-wishers to remain calm and steadfast to the laws of the land as this is the handwork of detractors, who are bent on tainting the senator’s image and throwing cogs in the wheels of his good works for the Anioma people, the Niger Delta and Nigeria in general.”
Meanwhile, it was a day of drama yesterday as armed policemen laid siege to the residence of Senator Melaye, the vocal lawmaker who has been very critical of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in recent months.
Hordes of policemen barricaded the entrance to the palatial Signature House located on Sangha Street, Maitama and prevented human and vehicular movement in and out of the mansion.
They also blocked the street with their patrol van while a number of the armed policemen took strategic positions beside the perimeter fence of the building.
A few hours after the Police arrived the building, a group of protesters also besieged the lawmaker’s residence in protest and offered to be arrested along with Melaye.
Melaye was earlier yesterday arrested and prevented from travelling abroad by men of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. The lawmaker, who was on his way to Morocco to attend a Federal Government-sponsored programme was briefly detained at the airport before he was released.
New Telegraph learnt that following his encounter with the immigration officials, Melaye returned to his home in Abuja only for the armed policemen to arrive there seeking to arrest him.
Leader of the Police Squad, an Assistant Commissioner of Police dressed in plain clothes declined to state the reason behind the siege.
The man who also declined to give his name was courteous when our correspondent approached him but he declined to comment on the reason for the siege and how long it would last.
When New Telegraph asked him what their mission was he said: “We are here to do our job. I know why we are here but I have to keep that close to my chest.
If you want details, you can go to the Force Headquarters or call the Force PRO,” he said
Addressing journalists at the venue, the Senate Minority Whip, Philip Aduda, condemned the development.
He said he had visited the house in order to report back to the presiding and principal officers of the Senate.
Aduda said: “Some of us came here with a view to reporting to the presiding officers and principal officers on what we have seen.
“I will report appropriately on what I saw, but I don’t believe this should happen.” Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Mr. Frank Tietie, who addressed journalists at the scene of the siege, expressed disappointment at the action of the Police, describing it as an attempt by the Federal Government to silence critics and intimidate all dissenting voices in the country.
Tietie, a human rights activist and lawyer, said it was disheartening that while Nigerians were being killed everyday in different theatres of conflict, the security agencies have chosen to silence the lone voice that has been speaking against the killings and injustice in the land.
Tietie challenged the Nigeria Police to tender a court order or any other legal instrument which justifies the invasion of Melaye’s residence and holding him to ransom.
On the argument that Melaye was being hounded by the security agencies because of a pending case against him in Lokoja, Kogi State, the human right activist said the lawmaker cannot answer to the charges because the Police had failed to guarantee his safety in Kogi State.
Meanwhile, some protesters have also besieged the same residence of the embattled lawmaker, vowing to go into detention with him if the Police arrest him.
The protesters numbering over 40 were said to have been drawn from the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp in Abuja.
Melaye has been having a running battle with the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, and the Federal Government, leading to the Police declaring him wanted on an allegation that he was sponsoring some armed criminals and gun runners in Kogi State.
Offa robbery: Five bankers sacked, police officers quizzed
The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) of Offa Police Station, Kwara State, have been invited for questioning following the bloody robbery attack that recently took place in Offa.
Also, New Telegraph learnt that the management of one of the five commercial banks that were robbed by the bandits has sacked five of its officials.
The five bank officials were sacked last Friday for releasing the lender’s CCTV footage of the robbery scene to public without authorisation.
The management of the bank was said to have been concerned that the release of the CCTV footage without official approval was capable of affecting security and image of the bank.
In the robbery, at least 30 people, including nine policemen, were killed and undisclosed cash carted away from the five commercial banks.
The Kwara State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ajayi Okasanmi, said that the command was investigating all aspects of the robbery and that both civilians and uniformed men linked to the incident would not go scot free.
A new police commissioner, Aminu Pai Saleh, was posted to the state last week.
Okasanmi’s comments came against the backdrop of wide speculation that the DCO and DPO of Offa Police Station, where the robbery took place, allegedly failed to take action before the armed robbers struck.
The station was alleged to have received tip-off about the robbers, while they were lodging and planning their operation in the hotel, but the senior policemen allegedly failed to act.
The two senior policemen were further suspected after it was discovered that nine policemen were killed in the station, while the robbers allegedly collected only the phones of the DCO and DPO and then asked them to go in peace.
When asked about the whereabouts of the two officers, Okasanmi said: “Investigation is already going on. So, whether civilian or police, whoever is found culpable would be dealt with accordingly.”
So far, 21 suspects, including 12 primary suspects, one hotel proprietor, four staff of the hotel and four lodgers, have been arrested in connection with the Offa robbery.
The hotel owner, the staff and the lodgers were arraigned at Ilorin Magistrate Court last week, while the 12 primary suspects paraded at the Force headquarters, Abuja, are yet to be arraigned.
Meanwhile, Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed has challenged Saleh, to tackle insecurity and criminality in the state as well as maintain law and order.
Ahmed said he would not relent in his efforts to ensure that security challenges in the state were properly addressed.
The governor who spoke during the visit by the new police boss to the Government House, Ilorin, said that the current security trends in the country require proactive measures to combat problems such as robbery, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cultism and communal clashes arising from boundary disputes.
He added: “We want you to champion the cause of community policing which will involve all and sundry. We have alerted our traditional rulers that they should also carry on advocacy and the need to strengthen community policing at the local government levels with Divisional Police Officers.”
Earlier, Saleh had promised that he would do what it takes to restore security back to the state, stating that he had gone round parts of the state on familiarization tour.
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