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.
China Urges U.N. States Not to Attend Xinjiang Event Next Week
China has urged United Nations member states not to attend an event planned next week by Germany, the United States and Britain on the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, according to a note seen by Reuters on Friday.
“It is a politically-motivated event,” China’s U.N. mission wrote in the note, dated Thursday. “We request your mission NOT to participate in this anti-China event.”
China charged that the organizers of the event, which also include several other European states along with Australia and Canada, use “human rights issues as a political tool to interfere in China’s internal affairs like Xinjiang, to create division and turbulence and disrupt China’s development.”
“They are obsessed with provoking confrontation with China,” the note said, adding that “the provocative event can only lead to more confrontation.”
The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ambassadors of the United States, Germany and Britain are due to address the virtual U.N. event on Wednesday, along with Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth and Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard.
The aim of the event is to “discuss how the U.N. system, member states and civil society can support and advocate for the human rights of members of ethnic Turkic communities in Xinjiang,” according to an invitation.
Western states and rights groups have accused authorities in Xinjiang of detaining and torturing Uyghurs in camps, which the United States has described as genocide. In January, Washington banned the import of cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations of forced labor.
Beijing denies the accusations and describes the camps as vocational training centers to combat religious extremism.
“Beijing has been trying for years to bully governments into silence but that strategy has failed miserably, as more and states step forward to voice horror and revulsion at China’s crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims,” Human Rights Watch U.N. director Louis Charbonneau said on Friday.
Lawmakers Tensed Over Possible Boko Haram Attack On National Assembly
Lawmakers have been notified of a possible attack by Boko Haram insurgents on the National Assembly complex and other public buildings in Abuja, The media gathered.
Several members of the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, confirmed to Punch correspondent that they had been notified of the imminent attack by the terrorist group.
One of them, who is from a state in the South-West, said his presence would henceforth be limited on the premises.
“That is the security alert I saw today. I’m already moving out of here. I’ll only be around when there is a major reason to do so. Nowhere is safe in the country anymore,” he said.
Already the notice of the impending attack has been made available to the lawmakers.
The notice, a copy of which our correspondent obtained, was sent to the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, other principal officers and all members of the House.
The ‘security alert’, dated May 4, 2021, was issued by the Chairman of the House Committee on Internal Security, National Assembly, Mr. Usman Shiddi.
It was titled ‘Re: planned insurgent attacks on VIP locations, government facilities and assets in Abuja.’
The alert read, “I refer to the above subject of which a copy of the intelligence report from the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigeria Police Force in the National Assembly Complex has been made available to my office.
“The report indicates planned insurgent attacks by some elements of Boko Haram on some VIP locations, government facilities and assets in Abuja, including the National Assembly complex.
“In view of the above intelligence, I have considered it paramount to advise that all members should, henceforth, use the presidential gate for ingress and egress.
“This is to avoid the unforeseen congestions that are sometimes encountered at the main gates since such congestions could easily be the targets for these insurgent elements.
“Security agencies are, however, actively on top of the issue to unravel and to contain the intended menace. Accept the assurances of my highest regards, please.”
Security has been beefed up in and around the complex since Thursday last week.
For the first time, security operatives on that day checked vehicles entering the premises, causing traffic congestion especially at the third (and last) gate, a process that has continued to date.
Before now, the security operatives were only after the identities of drivers and passengers to confirm that they were staff members, legislative aides, journalists, or persons working in private businesses in the complex.
The media correspondent observed that soldiers joined the regular sergeants-at-arms and men of the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Federal Road Safety Corps that manned the gates.
Recall that the Governor of Niger State, Sani Bello, had on April 26, 2021, raised the alarm over Boko Haram terrorists taking over a part of the state, hoisting their flag in Kaure village from where they had made incursions into more than 50 villages.
Bello said Abuja was not safe, with Boko Haram’s presence in Kaure – a two-hour journey from the Federal Capital Territory.
He said, “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State. Here in Kaure, I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags here.”
The same day, Gbajabiamila had met with the President, Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, in company with the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.
On the next day, the House held a long executive (closed-door) session to discuss the rising spate of insecurity across Nigeria, calling on Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security.
At the secret session that lasted over three hours, the lawmakers unanimously adopted a series of resolutions, one of which was that “the Federal Government should ensure the protection of national infrastructure and assets, particularly the Shiroro and Kainji Dams in Niger State.”
Lagos State Plans To Launch 500 Small New Buses Next Week
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has promised to introduce 500 small new buses to the state by next week Thursday in a bid to provide alternatives to local motorcycles.
The Governor said this in a speech on Wednesday to mark the opening ceremony of the Lagos Architect Forum. The forum themed, ‘The City of Lagos: The Next Twenty Five Years’ was organised by the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Lagos chapter, at the Expo Hall of Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island.
The 4-day forum which will run till Saturday had in attendance other dignitaries including the Oniru of Iru Land, HRM Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal; the Lagos State Chairman of the NIA, Arc. David Majekodunmi; SA to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye; and the President-elect of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Arc. Enyi Ben-Eboh.
In his speech, the governor noted the progress made in the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda and his vision for the Lagos master plan to ensure that Lagos becomes ‘Africa’s model megacity’ by 2050. Acknowledging the challenges in the transport sector, the Governor gave assurances on improving the various modes of transport including the roads, waterways and rail lines.
“For the waterways, we’re currently building 16 jetties and terminals. About seven of them should be ready before the end of the year; we have some that are already currently being used.
“All of them will not look as nice as the one at Falomo, but we want all of them to be comfortable. We have a fleet of almost 20 boats now each carrying 50, 60, 40 passengers. We want people to use the waterways which is why we’re investing in them,” Sanwo-Olu said.
On road and rail transport, Sanwo-Olu said the state would soon begin to operate 100 new high-capacity buses, with plans to launch 500 LASTMA small buses by next week Wednesday or Thursday as alternatives to okadas that don’t have enough passenger space. He also promised that one of either the blue or red rail lines will become operational by next year.
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