There are strong indications that the Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, has thrown his weight behind the embattled Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, against his accuser, a former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin.
It was gathered on Monday that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Mr. Abdulrahman Kawu-Sumaila, was also supporting Dogara.
It was gathered that Tambuwal had been mobilising some members of the House from the North-West to support the Speaker.
A member of the House said, “It is an open secret that the Speaker is Tambuwal’s man. The Sokoto State governor was instrumental in the emergence of Dogara as the Speaker in 2015. He has not abandoned the man. He is mobilising members of the House for Dogara.”
It was learnt that although the Sokoto State governor had succeeded in convincing the North-West members of the House to support Dogara, the South-West members had, however, declined to support the Speaker.
Findings showed that members from the South-West had not forgotten the role Tambuwal played in the emergence of Dogara as the Speaker in June 2015, dumping Femi Gbajabiamila, the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress.
It was learnt that the budget crisis would have been resolved if the South-West members had signed the list of those who were ready to pass vote of confidence in Dogara.
Journalists gathered that most members from the zone, however, decided to be neutral by supporting neither Dogara nor Jubrin.
A chieftain of the party said, “You will recall that the South-West members of the party were instrumental in the emergence of Tambuwal as the Speaker in 2011. In 2015, when it was the time to show gratitude, he abandoned the zone.”
Investigations also showed that the relationship between Jibrin and Kawu-Sumaila had been frosty since the budget padding crisis started.
It was learnt that Jibrin, who accused Dogara of padding the budget, was not happy with Kawu-Sumaila because he thought that the presidential aide prevented him from meeting President Muhammadu Buhari.
The former appropriation committee chairman had in a statement on Sunday alleged that two governors and three former members of the House were blocking him from meeting the President.
A source said, “Jibrin feels that Kawu-Sumaila has been tactically supporting Dogara.”
Kawu-Sumaila, an All Progressives Congress ex-lawmaker from Kano State like Jibrin, had previously served as the Deputy Minority Leader of the House before becoming the SSA to Buhari.
Jibrin did not name the governors, but sources close to him were said to have named Kawu-Sumaila as one of the three former Reps.
“The point is that you could see Kawu-Sumaila with Dogara in the video as the Speaker addressed State House correspondents soon after he emerged from the meeting with the President,” one of close aides of Jibrin alleged.
Efforts to get the spokesman for Tambuwal, Imam Imam, to comment did not succeed, as his mobile phone rang out. He had yet to respond to a text message sent to his phone as of press time.
The Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, declined comment.
‘Jibrin didn’t request to see Buhari’
The Presidency on Monday deplored what it said were attempts by Jibrin to drag the President into the budget padding allegations.
It said Jibrin, as a lawmaker, should know the “protocol” on how to see Buhari, as against his recent insinuations that he had been blocked from seeing the President.
Kawu-Sumaila reacted amid insinuations that he was one of the “three former” members of the House of Representatives accused by Jibrin on Sunday to have “blocked” his efforts to see Buhari to state his own version of the budget scandal just like the Speaker did.
The SSA said there had “never” been a time Jibrin requested through his office to see Buhari that he was denied access.
He said, “The way he has been going about this issue is unfortunate. He is dragging the names of innocent people into it.
“He has not approached me that he wants to see the President. If he makes a request, I will facilitate it for him. He knows the protocol.”
Kawu-Sumaila said his role in Dogara’s meeting with Buhari was to act as a facilitator.
He said he neither participated in the meeting nor knew the outcome.
The SSA added, “When the Speaker wanted to see Mr. President, he told me.
“I did my part to facilitate it. I was waiting at the office while they met. I was not at the meeting with them.
“It was after the meeting ended and the Speaker came out that I saw him off.
“The same thing would have happened if Jibrin requested to see the President.”
Meanwhile, the meeting of the Transparency Group, which was believed to be behind Jibrin, scheduled for Monday to review their strategies, had yet to take place as of 6pm on Monday.
Key figures in the group, including Mr. Abubakar Chika-Adamu and Mr. Baballe Bashir, did not pick their calls when one of our journalists made efforts to get an update.
Baballe, who had disclosed on Sunday that the group would meet in Abuja on Monday, also failed to reply to text messages that one of our correspondents sent to his mobile phones.
Jibrin meets with police panel
Jibrin on Monday met with the police Special Investigation Panel on the budget padding crisis in the House.
It was gathered that during the meeting, which began at 12pm at the Force headquarters, Abuja, Jibrin submitted a large number of documents and other evidence to prove his allegations against the Speaker and the others he accused of padding the budget.
Sources told our correspondent that the lawmaker also promised to bring more documents that were germane to the investigation into the alleged insertions under constituency projects in the 2016 budget.
A source explained that the SIP, led by an Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Amodu Ali (retd.), received the documents with a promise to diligently study them.
The source said, “Jibrin came with documents which he handed over to the SIP on Monday. It was obvious that he was well prepared to establish his allegations against the leadership of the House. He promised to bring more documents during the week.”
It was learnt that the SIP had said it would take time to study the documents and other evidence before summoning the accused to defend themselves.
“This is a high-profile case, so, the SIP is not in a hurry to conclude it; members will take their time, carry out a forensic analysis of the evidence provided, conduct a thorough and diligent probe and by the time they are through, no one would be able to fault the report of the investigation,” another source stated.
Our correspondent gathered that Dogara’s posturing after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Villa last Friday had initially confused police authorities who felt that he might have reached a political settlement with Buhari.
It was learnt that the Speaker’s statement that “budget padding is not an offence under the nation’s law” gave the public the impression that he and the President had agreed on the point.
Findings indicate that the investigation panel was later told not to get carried away by the Speaker’s publicised visit to the President, but must get to the root of the scandal.
The All Progressives Congress Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Timi Frank, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, said Jibrin would be punished for flouting the party’s order to cease public comments on the budget padding scandal in the House.
A letter addressed to Jibrin and signed by the APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, last Thursday, had asked Jibrin to stop making public comments or issuing public statements on the lingering budget scandal after the leadership of the party had intervened in the matter.
But Jibrin had, in 82 tweets on Sunday accused Dogara of colluding with some serving governors and ex-lawmakers to change media narrative against him
Frank accused Jibrin of lack of respect for the Shuaibu-led committee, which was working “tirelessly to resolve the crisis.”
The statement partly read, “It is now obvious how disrespectful and desperate Jibrin could be, even to the leaders of our party, which include the National Deputy Chairman, North; National Secretary, National Treasurer, and others who have been sleeplessly working to ensure that peace returns to the House.
“But if Jibrin does not have respect for Speaker Dogara as a person, it is expected of him to respect the Office of the Speaker, the number four citizen of our party and the country.
“Jibrin should also be told that he has clearly shown disrespect for President Muhammadu Buhari who is the leader of our party by this singular act.
“It is high time Jibrin kept quiet and stopped this public show of shame before his excesses would be made known to Nigerians and the whole world.”
Frank said Jibrin’s continued “show of shame” did not only affect the lawmaker, but had great negative impact on the party, its members and the Buhari-led government.
“He should be also aware that disobeying the party in this manner may attract sanction, if the party deems it fit,” Frank stated.
Jibrin had alleged that Dogara and three other principal officers requested the inclusion of N40bn projects in the 2016 budget, besides sundry projects in sums ranging from N20bn to N30bn.
The other three are the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Lasun Yussuff; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
He claimed that his refusal to oblige the four principal officers and his opposition to several financial infractions were responsible for his sacking by Dogara on July 20.
The House had said the allegations would be investigated internally by the committee on ethics and privileges after members would have reconvened on September 13 from their annual recess.
There had been claims and counterclaims of signature collection to pass a vote of confidence on Dogara or ask him to step down.
Jibrin had claimed that 250 members were backing the calls for Dogara to resign.
However, on Sunday, some members dismissed Jibrin’s figure and claimed that “80 per cent (288) of the lawmakers” were with Dogara.
None of the sides has made the acclaimed registers public.
Envoy Considers Establishment Of Chinese Banks In Nigeria To Boost Economy
Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, says he is in talks with Chinese owned Banks to establish operations in Nigeria.
This, the envoy said, is to boost Nigeria’s economy and expand trade relations between the two nations.
Cui made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while addressing Journalists during the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Moon Festival and China-Nigeria Cultural week.
According to Cui, the establishment of Chinese Banks in Nigeria will also be one of the key areas of discussion during the China-Nigeria Binational Committee meeting, which he is also pushing for the establishment.
He said that an efficient financial institution was a key driver to achieving a strong economy, one Nigeria can learn from China’s experience.
“Before my departure from Beijing to Abuja, I talked to several banks in China. When you list the World’s 10 big banks, six are in China.
“The Banking sector is very important, because, without money, we cannot build our industries.
“What I am thinking here is best to talk to the governor of Central Bank and how we can allow the Chinese Banks to run office here and now, they are doing the feasibility studies on that.
“I am working hard that in the Bi-national meeting, I hope we can make a big decision and give a big push to let the banking industry and insurance industry because financial integration and institutions are key.
“If you go to China, you will find our banking industry is very powerful, not only for business but the change in the way of life.
“Because of the COVID-19, the Banking Industry is a little hesitant, but I told them Nigeria has a lot of human resources and as long as we work together, we can do big things.
“And that is why it is important to invest in the banking industry, to solve this problem,” Cui said.
Extolling the extant China-Nigeria trade relations, Cui noted that the volume of trade between China and Nigeria is nearly 20 billion US Dollars, with an increase from 2020’s 19.2 billion dollars.
Cui said the Chinese economy is restoring to the normal post-COVID-19 pandemic and both governments are working hard on how to expand imports and exports.
Speaking on the event, Cui said the China’s moon festival is a very important and significant one for China as it symbolises family reunion, national peace and social harmony.
The envoy said the 2021 celebration is also a special one as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria’s bilateral relations.
He said that both countries also share Oct. 1 as their National Days.
He said it is also on that note that the Chinese Embassy is honouring 50 Nigerian employees of Chinese Companies in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contribution to strengthening diplomatic ties.
Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, also lauded the Nigeria-China relations.
She said the relations had recorded great successes over the past five decades.
“The five decades of co-operation had since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of arts, music, dance, exhibition, cultural administration, training and capacity building of cultural officers.
“And recently, the development of Cultural Industries centres in Nigeria, among others.
“I must add that China, through the youth-oriented programmes such as the photos competition and similar activities in the past is surely a dependable ally.
“In redirecting the energy and mind of our youth to creative ventures, thereby furthering the Nigerian government’s policy of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years”, Anyanwukatu said. (NAN)
Lagos Prohibits Open Cattle Grazing, Sanwo-Olu Signs Bill Into Law
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, assented to the bill prohibiting Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land, signing the legislation into law 11 days after it was unanimously passed by the State House of Assembly and transmitted to the Executive arm for authorisation.
By implication, it is now criminal in Lagos for cattle rearers to occupy unapproved public areas and private land with their livestock for grazing. The law also prohibits the act of moving cattle round public places by herders.
The signing of the anti-open grazing law by the Governor followed the decision of Southern Governors’ Forum last August, setting the September deadline to pass the law across member States.
There have been crises witnessed in some States, resulting from alleged open grazing.
Although farmer-herder crisis is not pronounced in Lagos, the anti-open grazing law is expected to prevent the spillover of the menace into the State.
Sanwo-Olu, who assented to the bill during the State’s Executive Council meeting in Alausa, directed the security agencies to swing immediately into action and enforce provisions of the law.
He said: “By the powers vested in me as the Governor of Lagos State, I am signing the bill on Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land into law to prohibit issues associated with open grazing of livestock.”
The Governor also signed legislation transforming the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) into a full-blown agency.
The development coincided with the commemorative month dedicated to raising awareness on gender-based violence in the State. The Governor and members of the State’s cabinet wore attire with purple shades to support the campaign against sexual violence.
The DSVRT legislation provides for the establishment of Sexual Offenders’ Register that would help the State efficiently tackle violations in the communities.
After signing the law, Sanwo-Olu said: “Raising awareness about domestic and sexual violence is an important piece of working to end the cycle of violence. It is important to reiterate the State Government’s zero tolerance to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. We will not rest on our oars until the menace is reduced to the barest minimum in Lagos.”
The Governor appointed Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi as the Executive Secretary of the new agency.
Vivour-Adeniyi was the coordinator of the response team before the legislation was signed into law.
ECOWAS Imposes Sanctions on Guinea Junta Over Coups
West African leaders have decided to impose travel bans and freeze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta and their families after a coup more than a week ago.
The decisions were announced Thursday after an Extraordinary Summit on Guinea in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Mediators with the regional group had traveled to Guinea to meet with junta leaders and check on the condition of deposed President Alpha Conde.
ECOWAS president Jean Claude Brou said the West African leaders have also insisted that there should be no “need for very long transition for the country to return to democratic order.”
The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s coup leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana.
ECOWAS had already warned it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.
“We are coming to address a burning issue in the region,” said Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of the regional bloc, ahead of the summit. He was joined by presidents or high-ranking officials from eight of the other 15 ECOWAS countries.
Members of the ECOWAS delegation that visited Conakry after the coup presented their reports at Thursday’s meeting, said Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. The junta has set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of regional mediators, she said but declined to disclose what they are.
The delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she said, the ex-president is still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been toppled after more than a decade in power.
“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that mentally we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.
Meanwhile, in Conakry, junta leaders were also set to meet with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea’s political future. Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country’s most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.
Guinea’s coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.
Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.
At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.
The regional bloc also planned to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.
In Mali, the ruling junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has committed to holding new elections by February 2022, though mediators who recently visited have expressed concern about whether that deadline now can be met.
Goita overthrew Mali’s president in August 2020 and then agreed to a civilian transitional government and an 18-month timeframe for holding a vote. However, only nine months after the first coup he effectively staged a second one, firing the civilian interim leaders and ultimately naming himself as president of the transition.
ECOWAS has not reinstated Mali’s membership in the bloc, marking the first time since 2012 that two of the 15 member states are suspended concurrently.
ECOWAS President Brou said there was the need to revisit the organization’s 2001 protocol on good governance “because a lot of things have changed or improved.”
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