- Certificate: ABU to Speak on Melaye Today, Senate Begins Probe
The Senate, on Tuesday, decided to investigate the allegation that an armoured Range Rover car said to worth N298m and seized by the Nigeria Customs Service belongs to the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki.
The move was based on a point of order raised by former Majority Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, who also called on the upper chamber of the National Assembly to investigate the allegation that Senator Dino Melaye did not complete his first degree in Geography at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Also, the ABU management said it would issue a statement on Melaye’s academic status on Wednesday (today).
An online news portal, SaharaReporters, which made the allegation in a report published on March 18, 2017, said the seizure of the Sports Utility Vehicle, allegedly belonging to Saraki, was the reason why the Senate was moving against the Comptroller General of the NCS, Col. Hammed Ali (retd.).
The medium reported that the car was intercepted and impounded on January 11, 2017, by the service for allegedly having fake documents.
Ndume, at the plenary on Tuesday, said previous certificate scandals involving members of the National Assembly were probed by the lawmakers.
He said, “One has to do with the distinguished Senator Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, and it was reported in a paper; I have it here. With your permission, I will want to, after making presentation, lay it down. It says that, ‘Senate on Vengeance After Nigeria Customs seized Senator Saraki’s bulletproof Range Rover Over Fake Documents.’
“My colleagues that are following events, particularly online, have seen, heard or read the rain of abuses on this Senate and the misconception of the fact that we invited the Customs CG based on a very unpopular policy that affects the people we represent.
“During the 4th Assembly, Salisu Buhari was accused of certificate forgery; he was investigated and his fate determined. After that, in the 5th Assembly, Bello Masari was accused of certificate forgery (secondary school); it was investigated and was cleared. In the 6th National Assembly, Dimeji Bankole was accused of not having NYSC certificate; it was investigated and he had to show his NYSC certificate.
“Now, that brings me to the second matter. In the National Assembly, here in the Senate of the 4th Assembly, Enwerem was accused and it was also investigated. Wabara was accused of collecting a bribe and it was investigated and determined. So, a lot of precedence had been set. Now, the second matter of privilege affects my colleague, Sheikh Dino Melaye, and it is in The Punch of today (Tuesday) on Page 10; I have the newspaper. In The Punch, it says, ‘Dino Melaye in first degree certificate scandal.’”
Ndume also quoted an online medium with a report titled, ‘Dino Melaye Allegedly Did Not Graduate From University.’
He added, “Therefore, accordingly, I will appeal we refer the matter to the Ethics and Privileges Committee to investigate so that our colleagues would be cleared and this Senate will stand as it is supposed to.”
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, referred the matter to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which was asked to report back to the lawmakers in four weeks.
Saraki, however, denied any link with the seized car.
The Special Adviser to Senate President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, in a statement, stated that the allegation “lacks basis as it was outright falsehood.”
Olaniyonu said from the facts and documents about the seized vehicle, it was obvious that the Senate President had nothing to do with the importation of any vehicle.
He said, “A supplier was engaged by the Senate to supply a vehicle. While transferring the vehicle between Lagos and Abuja, it was impounded by the customs. We believe that is an issue between the supplier and the customs because the Senate has not taken delivery. So, why is somebody trying to drag the name of Saraki into the issue?
“The documents on the vehicle are there for the general public to view and make their conclusions. Now that the matter has been referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, all the facts will be out.”
Melaye, who is a member of the committee, in his reaction after the plenary, told journalists that he was ready to be probed. He also said he would suspend his membership of the panel pending the determination of the case.
He said, “I’m here to respond to the issue raised by the … senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Ali Ndume. I want to say, to me, it is a welcome development. Democracy is about investigation and no senator is above investigation. To me, it is a welcome development and it will finally clear the air on all the malicious and vindictive allegations.
“To say that I did not graduate from ABU is to say that I am not a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. ABU is a very prestigious university in this country and it is not possible for one to be running a Master’s programme in the university when one did not graduate from a university. I have successfully completed one and I am doing the second one.
“I want to announce that this is the eighth degree that I am pursuing. I am also a graduate of the University of Abuja, where I did Master’s in Policy Analysis. I am a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science. I am also a graduate of Harvard University. The course I am pursuing now will make it my eighth degree.”
When asked what would happen to his membership of the panel directed to probe him, Melaye replied, “Definitely, in the interest of justice, I will excuse myself from the consideration of this matter except when invited for questioning.”
He added, “I have my admission letters, results, certificate of discharge from ABU. Not only that, I was the Student Union Government President of ABU. On three occasions, I was the most popular student on campus.”
However, the Information Officer of ABU, Mr. Adamu Muhammed, told one of our correspondents that the university would issue a formal statement on the status of Melaye on Wednesday (today).
He said, “We are gathering all the facts from the faculty and the department concern and we will issue a press statement tomorrow (today).”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
US Intelligence Says ISIS and Al-Qaeda Are Planning to Attack Southern Nigeria
The United States has warned the Federal Government of Nigeria that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are planning to attack Southern Nigeria.
This was disclosed by Dagvin Anderson, the Commander of the US special operations command, Africa.
According to Dagvin Anderson, AlQaeda is planning to expand into the Southern part of Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.
He, however, said the US will continue to share intelligence with Nigeria.
“We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing,” he said.
“And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaeda starting to make some inroads in.
“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them with an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaeda are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.
Anderson regretted that despite successes recorded in previous years, there has been a setback, adding: “We as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.” Anderson said for international efforts to yield desired results in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, the government must take the lead.
“When it comes to Nigeria in general, Nigeria, obviously, is a critical nation to West Africa. It is a critical nation and we realise that Nigeria is a lynchpin,” he said.
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