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Rig 2019 and invite trouble, PDP warns APC



The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has warned the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that any attempt to rig the 2019 general election would be a recipe for crisis.
The party also said Nigerians have lost confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for attempting to cover its alleged complicity in the widespread impunity recorded in last Saturday’s Kano State local council elections.
PDP’s position was made known yesterday by the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, at two separate events in Abuja.
Secondus, who spoke when he received President of the International Republican Institute (IRI), Dan Twining, said the major concern of the party was that INEC and the APC were not prepared to conduct free and fair elections in 2019.
“Our major concern is for INEC to conduct a free and fair election, because if the 2019 election is rigged, it is a recipe for crisis,” Secondus warned.
He appealed to IRI president to meet with INEC to ensure that the conduct of next year’s general elections is free and fair.
Secondus decried the spate of insecurity in the country, noting that Nigerians are passing through difficult times since the APC came to power, but said the PDP has been repositioned to reclaim the presidency it lost in 2015.
“We have strategised and reorganised our party, and today we are happy that we are hitting the ground running.
“We have planned out our strategy on how to get to our people and our major target is the grassroots; we will get to the grassroots and to our supporters,” he said.
Ologbondiyan, in a statement on the alleged underage voting in Kano local government election, accused INEC of registering minors as voters and, as such, should not in any way attempt to exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud, simply because it did not directly conduct the elections.
It said this showed clearly that INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was unreliable and cannot be trusted.
“We ask: Who is fooling whom? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued them with Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to participate in elections as clearly documented in the Kano council election?
“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the original culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?” PDP asked.
The party said that by resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVCs, INEC has shown that it could not be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.
“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now, it should have ordered the immediate review of its voters’ register in Kano and Katsina states, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states,” the statement suggested.
PDP added that if the alleged irregularity in Kano local government election was “viewed alongside series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favour the ruling APC, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the last Saturday’s Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency supplementary election in Katsina, any reasonable person will decode that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.
“While we now hold the statement by INEC as part of our strong evidence of irregularities and violations in the elections, we charge the commission to redeem its name by immediately reviewing and sanitizing its voters’ register in affected states, particularly, Kano and Katsina, as that is the only way it can demonstrate its dependability to Nigerians.”
The party further warned that Nigerians would not accept anything short of credible, free and fair general elections.
“The commission should, therefore, ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be highly resisted,” it warned.
But the ruling APC has dismissed PDP’s claims.
APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, said: “If PDP is sure of what they are saying, they should provide the evidence and approach the police not to sit down and be issuing allegations against APC.”
Abdullahi emphasized that the party would not be given into reacting to allegations it considers spurious.

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Bed sharing raises risk of baby deaths



Scientists have raised the alarm over the number of babies dying of suffocation, occasioned by an increase in the number of parents sharing beds with their infants.


According to the findings of a report published in ‘Paediatrics,’ babies are safest sleeping on their backs in their own cribs without any pillows, toys, blankets or other loose bedding. From 1999 to 2015, the suffocation death rate for babies younger than one year climbed from 12.4 to 28.3 fatalities for every 1,000 United States (US) infants.


Similarly, the study shows that in 2015 alone, this translated into 1,100 infant deaths that were entirely preventable.


The majority of these suffocation fatalities occurred while babies were in bed. Although, there is lack of data to show the trend of these activities in Nigeria where bed sharing between mothers and newborn is very common among low income and the poor, it is believed that this practice might also be impacting negatively in the country.



However, going by the guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), if babies do sleep in parents’ beds, parents should have a firm mattress, remove soft objects such as pillows, and move the bed away from the wall, as part of measures to ensure the safety of the babies.


Similarly, the AAP said parents should also be aware that bed sharing is most dangerous for newborns, less than four months old, premature babies and underweight infants, or if babies were exposed to tobacco during or after pregnancy.



Study co-author, David Schwebel, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said: “It may be that parents are not following `safe sleep’ recommendations to place infants in beds without stuffed animals, soft blankets, pillows, and other items that could cause suffocation.


Suffocation and strangulation deaths increased across the board for boys and girls, regardless of race, ethnicity or whether they lived in urban or rural communities, the study found. At least some of the increase in suffocation deaths might be due to a change in how these fatalities are categorised, researchers note.


Some fatalities that were attributed to sleep-related causes like sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at the start of the study might have been categorised as accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed by the end of the study period.-

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El-Rufai orders demolition of APC parallel secretariat



…turns factional office to recreation park


Party heads for court


Senator: Governor personally drove bulldozer to my house


Two days after the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State suspended Governor Nasir el-Rufai for six months, the state government yesterday ordered the demolition of the party’s factional secretariat in Kaduna.



The el-Rufai’s government said it was forced to demolish the parallel APC office situated at 11B, Sambo Close, Kaduna GRA for “flagrant violations of land use”. It has since turned the piece of land into a park for recreation. The demolition was executed by the State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA) in the early hours of Tuesday. This came as the faction called for the immediate removal of the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division, Nigerian Army, for allegedly meddling in the politics of the state. The party also said it would go to court to challenge the demolition.


On its part, the Senate condemned the demolition. The owner of the structures and Senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial District, Suleiman Hunkuyi, alleged that Governor el-Rufai personally drove the bulldozer which demolished his house. The El-Rufai administration had on April 6, 2017, ordered the demolition of the Kaduna residence of Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, the party’s North-West Vice Chairman. KASUPDA officials who demolished the Zonal Chairman’s house, located at No. 29 Yakubu Avenue, alleged that the structure was erected in violation of the state development plan.


The Director-General, Kaduna State Geographical Information Service (KADGIS), Ibrahim Husseini, in a statement, said the demolition of the APC secretariat became necessary because “KAPSUDA is currently undertaking operations across Kaduna metropolis in clearing illegal structures, tackling street hawking and restoring order across Kaduna.”


He said: “The land has now been allocated to KASUPDA for the purpose of developing and maintaining a public park that will provide a green area and a serene place for recreation in that residential neighbourhood.”



The demolished building was the secretariat of Kaduna APC faction which has Alhaji Danladi Wada as its acting chairman. The faction had, on Sunday, suspended el-Rufai from the party for six months for what it described as antipeople and anti-party activities and for also failing to reply to the query earlier issued to him.



But the demolition, which took many by surprise, occurred between 4a.m. and 5a.m. It was learnt that the officials of KASUPDA were led by heavily armed soldiers who came in about five Hilux vans and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) to forestall any breach of the peace or resistance from those guiding the property.


The soldiers were said to have blocked both sides of the road leading to the building, and kept watch until the demolition was completed. But the state government exonerated the Nigerian Army in the demolition of the APC secretariat. According to the government, “Whenever KAPSUDA is carrying out its statutory functions, it receives the support of law enforcement agencies, and this does not involve the Army.”




Husseini said the demolition was not political. He said: “The building on 11B, Sambo Close, was removed for flagrant violations of land use and nonpayment of ground rent since 2010. This illegal violation of land use had begun to distress neighbours who were being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road.


“The KADGIS issued a revocation notice of statutory right of occupancy No  KD. 16712, that covers 11B, Sambo Close, in the Ungwan Rimi area. The appropriate notice of revocation was delivered at 28, Inuwa Wada Road, the registered address of the company that held the title to the property.


The notice was also delivered to the building in question, and sent by post to the registered address of the previous title holder.” Speaking at the site of the demolition, a chieftain of the APC, Tom Maiyashi, said despite the demolition, el-Rufai’s six-month suspension remained. Maiyashi said the action showed that the governor could not withstand political pressure even within his own party. He said: “This is madness, embarrassing and this has shown that the governor has failed the people of Kaduna State. Despite all this madness, his suspension stands.


“I am disappointed with what I am seeing today. This is my saddest day as a politician. Since my career as a civil servant and as a politician, I have never seen this kind of political witchhunting.”


Meanwhile, the party’s Director of Administration, Yahaya Shinko, “urged the Chief of Army Staff to relieve the GOC 1 Division for meddling into partisan politics.” “The GOC allowed his men to give cover to the governor with trucks numbering over 20 fully loaded with military personnel and carried out the shameless act, thereby bringing the military to disrepute,” Shinko said.


He condemned the government’s action, and dismissed as untenable, reasons it advanced for the demolition. “The offence of Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, his teeming supporters and all other members of the APC with us in this secretariat is none but for aligning ourselves with the position of the national headquarters of the party. “This is to the effect that S.I. Danladi Wada is the recognized Deputy Chairman of the APC in Kaduna State and stands as the Acting Chairman until a substantive chairman emerges at the next state congress of the party,” the statement said. Meanwhile, the Senate has condemned the demolition.


The resolution was sequel to a Point of Oder raised by Senator Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna) during yesterday’s plenary. Rising under order 43, Sani said that: “In the last two and half years, we have been faced with tyranny and open dictatorship in Kaduna State.


“My constituency office was attacked by violent thugs and it has also been clear that armed military personnel and policemen have been consistently used by the governor to intimidate and harass people who don’t agree with him.


“How can a governor, a democratically-elected governor, demolish a house without notice simply for the fact that we have set up an office different from the one he had personalised as a so-called party man? In his remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, condemned the act, saying democracy had no place for tyranny and this kind of impunity.


“If we decide to go on the path of democracy, we must accept some of the things that come with it, and one is the rule of law,” Ekweremadu said. Hunkuyi, while briefing newsmen in Abuja, described the act as “bizarre, rare and unimaginable decisions.


“My property, which doubles as the state APC office in Kaduna, is part of my contribution to the party, the structure of leadership of the party has been brought down. “Should I bear the consequences of bringing him to leadership? Is it too much price to pay? People like that have no business in executive position,” he said.


Reacting to the demolition in a series of tweets yesterday, Hunkuyi said: “In the early hours of today (Tuesday), the @Gov- Kaduna Mallam @elrufai personally drove a bulldozer accompanied by armoured tanks to destroy my house at 11B, Sambo Road. This is a new low and fighting dirty, such low level of pettiness is indeed unprecedented in Kaduna State.



“It is on record that few months back, @GovKaduna Mallam @elrufai marked another property of mine in Hunkuyi town for demolition, but residents of the area prevented the officials from demolishing it.


Today, he came well prepared with military men to destroy my house at Sambo Road.” The Wada-led faction had on February 18 suspended El-Rufai from the party for a period of six months. El-Rufai was on February 15 queried by the Wadaled faction over allegations of anti-party activities among other related offences. The faction had equally suspended three of the governor’s aides, including his Adviser on Political Matters, Malam Uba Sani, and the State Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Suleiman Kwaru, for similar offences.

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Fuel crisis: NNPC imports $5.8bn worth of petrol



Marketers demand subsidy arrears


LCCI: Modular refineries won’t end scarcity


The Nigerian National Petroleum Cor p o r at i o n (NNPC) has imported 9.8 million metric tons of premium motor spirit (PMS) worth $5.8 billion to combat the fuel crisis that resurfaced since late last year.


This was disclosed yesterday by the Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, during a public hearing by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.


Baru, who was represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Finance and Accounts, Mr. Abdulrazaq Isiaka, stated that NNPC carried out the massive importation in fulfilment of its statutory role of supplier of last resort to ensure that Nigerians do not suffer as a result of product unavailability.



According to him, the Corporation’s provision of 9.8 million metric tons of petrol so far has helped a great deal in ameliorating the suffering of Nigerians. He said the Corporation’s intervention became necessary following the inability of the major and independent marketers to import the product because of the high landing cost, which made cost recovery and profitability difficult owing to the regulated price regime.


Meanwhile, the Senate chided the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) for asking the Federal Government to pay for fuel subsidy claims between 2013 and 2015. The Senate committee poured its anger on the oil marketers following a presentation of the Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, who appeared before its investigative hearing on the controversial secret and illegal fuel subsidy purportedly being paid by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.


In his submission, Olawore asked the Federal Government to pay the arrears of subsidy claims owed its members between 2013 and 2015, including the interests accrued to enable them settle the loans owed banks, which he said had frustrated MOMAN members out of fuel importation. Olawore, who said that paying arrears of subsidy to the marketers would enable them resume importation of fuel into the country, did not, however, state the amount owed his members, saying that they would need more time to compute the figures and return to the committee.


“The banks are always adding their interests at the end of every month. We had a promise from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that the aspect of interest will be stopped at a certain period of 2017, but that did not come to pass, so, the banks, at the end of every month, are charging us interest,” Olawore said. He said that two out of six major marketers imported fuel into the country in 2017 to “cover some specific customer needs.


“These are mainly those that have their foreign affiliates who could cover them in terms of dollar coverage,” he added. In his presentation, Razak told the Matthew Urhoghide-led committee that the oil marketers abandoned the importation of petrol due to losses. He expressed concerns that the task of importing fuel into the country was left in the hands of NNPC alone, noting that the Corporation was absorbing so much operational losses in the course of importing fuel to satisfy petrol needs of Nigerians. “For one year, marketers avoided importing fuel because they incurred losses. The private sector cannot bring in the product because it does not make economic sense for them.


They cannot land it at a price for which they are going to sell and make profit. That is the main reason they are not bringing in the product. “As a national oil company, NNPC is the supplier of last resort and we must take that responsibility where the private sector that is profit-driven runs away from a particular business. “The economics is that if you bring in the product into Nigeria, you will make a loss, if there was profit in this business, the private sector would have been the ones bringing in this product.


“NNPC was designed to bring in the product 100 per cent; they have stepped out, but we have a national responsibility that Nigeria does not suffer and that is the role the Corporation is playing by bringing in the product,” Razak said. However, not satisfied with the submissions by NNPC and the independent marketers, a member of the committee, Senator Dino Melaye, accused the marketers of conniving with NNPC to defraud the Federal Government.


Meanwhile, the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), in its submission to the committee, claimed that the agency was not in the true picture of details of payment of subsidy of premium motor spirit (PMS) by NNPC. The representative of the executive secretary of the agency, Joshua Peter  said that the agency was not in position to give details of the subsidy because their officials only witnessed discharge and truck out of fuel.


He said: “We only witness discharge and truck out; things have changed; we don’t know much about subsidy payments. On the issue of amount paid so far on subsidy, PPRA does not have that information.” Angered by this disposition, a member of the committee, Senator Bayero Nafada, said that the PPRA was in the best position to give the committee information on pricing of petroleum products because that is its primary function.


Nafada said: “Your primary purpose is details of landing cost. That is your primary function; nobody is more competent to respond to the issue of landing cost than PPRA.” Urhoghide has, however, mandated PPRA to give the panel details of cost of fuel importation from January till December 2017 within 24 hours.

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