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FBI Asks Justice Department to Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claim

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  • FBI Asks Justice Department to Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claim

FBI Director James Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly refute President Donald Trump’s explosive, unsubstantiated accusation that Barack Obama tapped his phone during last year’s election campaign, US media reported on Sunday.

Comey’s extraordinary measure questioning the president’s truthfulness provides an indication of the implications of Trump’s incendiary claim about his predecessor. The department has not made any statement.

Trump’s aides were scrambling on Sunday to limit the political fallout of Trump’s accusation 24 hours after it was made — admitting it was still unproven, and calling on Congress to investigate.

Citing still undefined “reports” of “politically motivated investigations,” press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was calling on Congress to “determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.”

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders echoed those comments.

“If this happened,” she told ABC, “this would be the greatest abuse of power, and overreach, that has ever occurred in the executive branch.”

Trump, who has returned to Washington from a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, has not publicly commented further on his allegations.

On Saturday, he tweeted, “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

He provided no evidence to back up the claim.

Watergate is the generic term for the scandal that brought down president Richard Nixon in 1974. It began with the revelation of a secret wiretap in the offices of the Democratic National Committee at Washington’s Watergate Hotel.

Obama, via a spokesman, denied Trump’s new allegation as “simply false.”

US presidents can’t legally order such wiretaps, which require the approval of a federal judge and reasonable grounds for suspicion.

Obama’s director of national intelligence James Clapper told NBC there was “no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time as a candidate or against his campaign.”

– President ‘furious’ –

Trump’s comments appear to have been based on unverified claims made by the right-wing Breitbart News outlet. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, used to run it.

The New York Times, citing senior US officials, first reported that Comey believes Trump’s claim to be false.

The FBI director made the request on Saturday because “there is no evidence to support it, and it insinuates that the FBI broke the law,” the paper reported the officials as saying.

Previous media reports have indicated that US prosecutors investigated communications between a server registered to the Trump Organisation and a Russian bank.

In his roles as a reality TV showman and presidential candidate, and now as president, Trump has repeatedly embraced conspiracy theories, including the suggestion that Obama was not born in America. Obama was born in Hawaii, a US state.

Trump leveled the latest charges in a string of tweets early Saturday, at the end of a week in which his administration was battered by controversy over links between his advisors and Russian officials.

Trump was said to be furious that good reviews of his maiden speech to Congress on Tuesday were overtaken by a series of revelations about aides’ meetings with Russian officials.

The president was also said to be angry that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any campaign or Russia-related investigations.

Sessions’ recusal came after it emerged that, speaking under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings about campaign contacts with Russia, he failed to disclose two meetings with Moscow’s ambassador in Washington.

Amid that and several other revelations of Trump aides holding meetings with Russian officials, the White House has denied allegations of collusion.

– Diversionary tactics –

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a campaign to meddle in last November’s presidential election in a bid to tilt it in Trump’s favour.

Former CIA director Leon Panetta on Sunday accused Trump of diversionary tactics.

“They are trying to obfuscate and trying to cover up. They are trying to somehow raise other issues,” he told CBS.

“In the end, it is going to be the truth that will determine what is involved here, and not tweets, but the truth.”

However, the Republican chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Devin Nunes, said his panel would look into Trump’s claims.

“The Committee will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party’s campaign officials or surrogates, and we will continue to investigate this issue if the evidence warrants it,” he said in a statement.

Democrats and a growing number of Republicans in Congress have called for the appointment of a special prosecutor and a bipartisan inquiry to look into the Russia issue.

With approval ratings already low, Trump could do without another scandal in his young presidency.

Republicans have largely stood behind him, hoping he will enact tax cuts and other policies they favor.

But some Republican lawmakers appear to be losing patience with the drama of Trump’s presidency.

“We are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust,” Senator Ben Sasse said, adding that Trump’s allegations of wiretapping “demand the thorough and dispassionate attention of serious patriots.”

AFP

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

African Union Holds Global Conference to Accelerate African Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Capacity

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African leaders assembled at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.

“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union.

The meeting was attended by several African heads of state, health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public. The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.

Although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. The region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.

The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the conference’s main objective.

The African Union and the Africa CDC said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.

Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. “Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.

The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy.

The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.

Quaynor said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system. “Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees. We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”

The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.

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ITF, Nigerian Air Force, Others, Sign MOU To Advance Research

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The Industrial Training Fund, ITF has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, and Equipment and Protective Application International Limited to establish the framework that will give room for optimal performance as well as enhance productivity.

The Director General, Industrial Training Fund, Sir Joseph Ari while speaking at the NAF headquarters in Abuja, said the MOU will be pursued with vigour and all the seriousness it deserves so that greater success would be the catalyst that will drive their intentions.

He explained that over the years, ITF had redirected its focus on technical, vocational training and education noting that developed nations are where they are today because of the initiative.

According to him, “even here in Abuja, we have a model of a skills training centre and the model was brought in from the Singaporean experience of the institute for technical education and services of Singapore”.

“We brought a semblance of it here to experience with five trade areas, Mechatronics and Autotronics, Computer Networking, ICT, Facility Technology as well as culinary in both African and Western cuisine is right there in the heart of Abuja in the ITF house, it is like a university”.

“The ITF is well positioned to work hand in hand with the Nigerian Air Force,” he said

The ITF boss added; “I must say that the Chief of Air Staff has a lot of foresight with his men to think about this Memorandum of Understanding because I deed, ITF is where you should be”.

“The ITF came into contact with the Nigerian Air Force even though a lot of the officers of the Air Force might have participated in its programmes in the past and since then I have noticed that NAF has not relented in its efforts to equipped it’s workforce and also upgrade and retrain its people,” Sir Ari added.

He also commended the men and officers of the NAF for their sacrifice in keeping the nation safe.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Oladayo Amao said the Nigerian Air Force has a highly technical Service and technology is the bedrock of all its operations.

Represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal, Olusegun Philip, Amao noted that in line with the focus of the Federal Government in promoting indigenous technology, the Nigerian Air Force has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and to become more innovative and resourceful.

“Therefore, in order to advance the Nigerian Air Force’s Research and Development efforts, we have deemed it necessary to formally collaborate with indigenous organizations through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding,” Amao stated.

“These collaborative efforts provide pedestals to leapfrog capability as well as a repertoire of capabilities that can be harnessed”.

“The collaborative efforts also provide platforms to synergise ideas for innovations that are key to achieving meaningful results to solve the technological challenges we currently face in a cost effective manner,” he said.

The Managing Director, Equipment and Protective Application International Limited, Engineer, Kola Balogun however, assured that the MOU entered would be for the overall economic benefit and development of the nation.

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SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.

The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.

In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.

SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.

The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.

“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.

“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”

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