The Federal Government said it cannot be intimidated by threats of litigation and hack writers from releasing more names of the alleged looters of the public treasury. That was even as it admitted that the power to try or convict anyone was the exclusive preserve of the courts. Already, a High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Friday, granted the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, leave for substituted service to the Federal Government and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed for listing his name among alleged looters. Former Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’Azu Babangida Aliyu and Chairman of Daar Communications, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, have also threatened legal action.
But in a statement yesterday by Mohammed, the Federal Government observed that since the release of the first two lists of the alleged looters, there have been overt and covert attempts to intimidate and blackmail it into discontinuing the release of more looters’ names. “Hack writers have inundated the social and traditional media with articles casting aspersion on the lists, while some newspapers have even resorted to writing editorials against the Federal Government over the release of the lists. “Most of the write-ups have accused the government of politicising the anti-graft war by releasing the lists. We strongly disagree with them,” the statement added.
The statement, which was signed by Special Assistant to the Minister, Segun Adeyemi, said even though the Federal Government did not have the power to try or convict anyone, it has “the power to let Nigerians know those who turned the public treasury into their personal piggy banks, on the basis of very concrete evidence, and that is what we are doing.” Mohammed said the government has always known that corruption would fight back, fast and furious; hence, it is not surprised at the hiring of hack writers to attack the very idea of naming and shaming the looters, or the hysterical threats of litigation. He added that the politicisation of the anti-corruption fight was aimed at preventing the government from releasing more looters’ names.
“But 1,000 negative write-ups or editorials will not deter us from releasing the third and subsequent lists. For those, who have chosen to give succour to looters, we wish them the best of luck with their new pastime,” the minister said. According to him, the pressure being mounted on the government over its decision to expose looters was not unexpected. Said the minister: “We know where the pressure is coming from.
However, the die is cast. We will not stop until we have released the names of all those who have looted our commonwealth. Those who have not looted our treasury have nothing to be afraid of.” He challenged anyone who felt that he or she has been wrongly accused to seek redress in court, rather than engaging in exhibitionist sophistry. Mohammed explained that the list contained only members of PDP because the party challenged the Federal Government into releasing the list of PDP looters.
Killings: Nigeria is a failed state – Dickson
Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson said the wanton killings in the country by Fulani herdsmen is symptomatic of a failed state.
Dickson who spoke yesterday at a National Prayer Conference in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, stated that Nigeria is seriously bleeding and divided more than ever.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Francis Agbo, the Bayelsa State governor said Nigerians must unite in prayers and resolve to work together to ensure fairness, justice, equity and equal citizenship.
“In this country, God’s children, human beings irrespective of the God they worship are being slaughtered mercilessly, remorselessly in many parts of the country.
“Our nation is bleeding, we must unite in prayers and resolve to do what is right and fair. Our nation should be a nation of fairness, justice, equity, equal citizenship and united by common ideals of being the greatest black nation,” Dickson added.
He called on the nation’s leaders to take the responsibility to stop the bloodletting, adding that this is the time Nigerians have to intensify prayers for the nation to overcome its challenges.
The governor said: “We are united by our common shared humanity and nationality, so injustice and unfairness anywhere should be a concern to anyone and everyone in our nation.
“I join you in praying that the bloodletting, unnecessary killings in our nation under any shape or guise ends in Jesus name.
“God should intervene so that people will feel the need to do the right thing, be fair and just to one another.”
Chairman and convener of Nigeria Prays, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), stressed the importance of prayers, which he said, could help to solve Nigeria’s problems better and faster than military generals and soldiers could do with physical weapons of war.
Gowon assured Nigerians that God would honour the collective prayers and intercession for the nation, while also advising people to shun violence and retaliation.
Also, the National Director of Nigeria Prays, Reverend Moses Aransiola said the organisation believes in the efficacy of prayer, and argued that it is the patriotic responsibility of all Christians to pray for their leaders.
President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Revd. Felix Provide, in a message, assured of God’s intervention to the nation’s problems.
N21.5bn SUKUK bond: Lawmaker lambasts Niger Governor
The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Barrister David Umaru, has lambasted the Niger state Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello over the N21.5 billion SUKUK loan facility applied for, saying it will plunge the state into bankruptcy.
Barrister Umaru who is also the chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights at a press briefing on Sunday in Minna said the capacity of governor Sani Bello to put to judicious use the funds from SUKUK bonds if access is not only doubtful but nonexistent.
According to him “it is obvious that this administration is badly obsessed with accessing bond facilities in the presence of infrastructural development while it has consistently failed to account for the billions of naira accrued from statutory allocation to the State including other huge financial interventions from the government.
“Governor Bello should be aware that the well-informed people of the state including my humble self cannot be deceived by the needles lies being canvassed as benefits derivable from the huge burden-laden bonds meant to impoverish the state.
While calling on the state house of Assembly not to approve the loan, he said “this administration when compared to previous administration of former Governor Babangida Aliyu is more financially reckless.
“While the former administration had left a total sum of N44 billion as external debts and close to N30 billion as internal debts, the present administration appears ready to break such record with heavier debt burden despite huge resources that had accrued to the state in the past three years.”
He added that between 2015 and 2017, governor Bello administration had accessed over N114 billion as net FAAC. Though the State budget keeps increasing (36.3 % and 9.4% for the periods 2016-2017 and 2017-2018), the government is increasingly becoming incapable of delivering the democratic dividends as it is enmeshed in growing external and internal debts.
Accordingly, he said “the state’s external debt is put at N17.13 billion and, N31.98 billion as internal debt. We are asking governor Bello to tell us how the Bail-out funds from the federal government and the disbursements from the Paris Club refunds allegedly amounting to about N250 billion were utilized.”
Furthermore, he said the loans taken by the state which include $226 million bond from the Islamic Development Bank and $330 million from Kuwait find for Arab Development, are meant to further impoverish the state which is yet to recover from the comatose condition imposed by the huge debt bonds borrowed from the capital market by the previous administration.
He, however, called on members of the State House of Assembly to withhold approval on the loan request adding that this would save the state from further impoverishment, “history will not be kind to our House members if they do otherwise. Future generations of Nigerlites and indeed the present generation will hold our lawmakers responsible for mortgaging their future.”
He then called on the people of the state to stand up and vehemently resist and oppose the clueless misadventure of the Governor in seeking the N21.5 billion Sukuk bond.
Naka military invasion: Benue PDP guber aspirant blasts army, threatens court action
A Peoples Democratic Party governorship aspirant in Benue State Prof. Eugene Aliegba has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently end the on-going killings by Fulani herders\military rascality of innocent citizens in the state.
Prof. Aliegba made this call in Makurdi while reacting on the attacks by the military on the peace-loving people of Gwer West local government on the allegation of a killing of an army officer where two lives and over 300 houses were burnt down.
He described the reprisal by the military as lawless, uncivilized, brutal and a calculated attempt to provoke the law abiding citizens of Gwer West.
Professor Aliegba who was visibly angry over the military’s action said he is not comfortable with the present level of insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in Benue.
He added that as it stands now, the people of Agatu, Guma, Logo, Okpokwu, Gwer West, Kwande and Ukum Local Government areas are under siege and appealed to the federal, state governments and relevant security operatives including, Army, Police Department of State Services (DSS) and others to stop the senseless killings in Benue State.
Prof. Aliegba further called on the state government to set up internally displaced camps in Gwer West where presently inhabitants in nine out of fifteen council wards are moving helter-skelter in Naka town without shelter.
The former commissioner in Benue State, who also called for a thorough investigation into the incident that led to the loss of lives, called on Non-Governmental Organizations, public-spirited individuals and the international community to come to the aid of IDPs as well as ensure rehabilitation and resettlement of the areas devastated by the herders crisis in the state.
He advised army never to deviate from their primary responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country Nigeria as failure to do so will force the citizens to heed to the statement credited to General Theophilus Danjuma of self-defense.
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