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Biafra: Arewa Youths to Lobby N’Assembly on Referendum

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Nnamdi Kanu
  • Biafra: Arewa Youths to Lobby N’Assembly on Referendum

There are strong indications that the coalition of northern youths will soon start lobbying members of the National Assembly to include referendum in the ongoing constitution amendments.

The Arewa Youths Consultative Forum’s President, Yerima Shettima, who gave this indication in an interview, said the coalition would not use force to effect the quit notice it gave to the Igbo.

But he expressed confidence that the referendum would not favour the Indigenous People of Biafra’s leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, and other secessionists, saying the people of the zone would reject secession.

The group had a few months ago told the Igbo living in the North to leave the region on or before October 1. It hinged its ultimatum on the secessionist agitation of IPOB.

Following a lot of public outcry and condemnation from eminent Nigerians and organisations, there were reports that the forum would withdraw the quit notice.

But at a press conference in Kano on Thursday, the forum said there was no going back on the quit notice.

Shettima, at the event, had said, “We have not renounced our earlier position on the quit notice to the Igbo.”

He had said that the Northern youths would not use force, but constitutional means to achieve their goal.

He said the forum had written the United Nations to prevail on the Federal Government to opt for referendum.

The referendum, he explained, would enable those who were desirous of leaving the federation to do so without force.

Shettima stated, “We are looking at having a referendum. It is part of our prayers to the United Nations. Our second prayer is for the UN and the international community to prevail on the Nigerian government through the National Assembly to create an exit for those who want to leave.

“We are also planning to lobby members of the National Assembly to formally agree to a referendum on Biafra. We want the Igbo to have the opportunity of voting on this issue.

“We are saying Nigeria cannot sign international treaties and not implement them. We want a constitutional amendment for referendum because it is not currently part of our constitution.”

The youth leader said he was expecting a response to the group’s letter to the United Nations.

According to him, the group will hold consultations across the North on the need for a referendum.

He said, “We are expecting the UN to respond and we would also talk to our lawmakers, but we are in consultation. Nigerians should not panic; we are not a violent organisation.”

He further stated that his group had been holding meetings with stakeholders in the North, adding that the youth coalition had just concluded a parley in Kano after which it would also meet with people in the North-Central and North-East.

He said, “We have made it abundantly clear that we would not enforce anything. We are not the government and we do not have the power to enforce anything, but we are using legal means because the issue is about Nnamdi Kanu who is heaping abuses on our people and undermining the government.

“We are saying the government must rise to the occasion and checkmate the guy. We may review our position after our consultations, but we mean no harm, we won’t harass innocent Nigerians, no. It is not in our power to do so.”

Referendum will not favour Biafra Republic, Kanu

The Arewa youth leader also expressed confidence that a referendum would not favour the Biafra Republic or its promoter, Kanu.

Shettima said Kanu could not speak for Igbo leaders such as Chief Emeka Anyaoku and other intellectuals, noting that the IPOB leader was merely engaging in survival antics.

He said, “The truth is that Biafra cannot succeed even through a referendum. The truth of the matter is that an average Igbo man does not believe in Biafra but rather some few individuals are clamouring for it just to survive.

“When the referendum holds, it would not favour Biafra. It will not favour Kanu. He cannot speak for strong intellectuals like Chief Emeka Anyaoku and other Igbo intellectuals.”

He alleged that Kanu was being sponsored by disgruntled Nigerians in foreign countries seeking political relevance, adding that such people were being deceived by Kanu.

The Arewa youth leader explained that the steps so far taken by his coalition were done to expose the agitation for Biafra as a scam that should not be taken seriously by the international community.

He said, “Most of those funding the Biafra agitations are Nigerians in foreign lands who have lost relevance. They want to come back home. They want to be more relevant because they are not relevant at all.

“Kanu is using their psyche assuring them that there would be a new Republic of Biafra. We are doing what we are doing to expose them to the international community that these guys are just jokers and that they are not speaking for the Igbo.

“The real Igbo who want to stay in Nigeria are more than 80 per cent and he cannot in any way speak for them. Through a referendum, you would get to know that truly, more Igbo believe in Nigeria.”

We are certain of victory –IPOB

Reacting to the development, IPOB said it was certain of victory if there was any referendum on Biafra.

IPOB spokesperson, Mr. Emma Powerful, told one of our correspondents, “My leadership told me not to respond to any statement credited to the Arewa youths but their fathers, that is, the Arewa Elders Forum.

“But you know very well that if they call for a referendum today, we will win.

“We are praying, let them venture to call for a referendum in Biafraland, then you will know that God Almighty has done it for us.

“They don’t know what we are doing and what we are planning to do.”

Ango Abdullahi, Junaid urge FG to invite parties

Speaking on the quit notice, a Northern elder statesman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, said if the Federal Government invited both Northern and Southern agitating youths and elders to a roundtable, some common grounds in the interest of the country could be gained.

Abdullahi, who is the spokesperson for the Northern Elders Forum, said, “When you want the latest on the quit notice, go to the youth. I am not a youth. My understanding is that I participated in one of the elders’ consultations with the acting president (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo). We were the first group to meet him and he listened to our views. I learnt he met with the other group too.

“The initial idea was that all the groups would be put together for a joint discussion; I think this is what perhaps has not taken place. Perhaps, at that time, when the groups meet, we might be able to extract some common positions which will be communicated to the general public.”

Also, a Second Republic lawmaker and a Northern elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said, “I cannot speak for the youth. But the issue about the Northern and Southern agitators which has refused to go away is an indication that we as Nigerians are not sincere democrats. You cannot build a democracy without having a sincere mind of a democrat. This mind is neither in the North nor in the South.

“We have to be sincere with ourselves and see whether the Nigerian project is an implementable project. We have to see whether we have been fair to our existence as a country and whether any country can survive with this level of continuous agitations.”

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.

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US Congress Puts On Hold Proposed Arms Sales, Pressures Biden to Reassess US-Nigeria Relations Over Human Rights Record

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Soldier

United States lawmakers have begun to mount pressure on President Joe Biden over concerns about Nigeria’s human rights records.

Already, a proposed sale of 12 attack aircraft and 28 helicopter engines worth $857 million has been put on hold.

Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military, pausing a deal worth some $875 million, according to U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.

In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale included 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by Foreign Policy, a US-based magazine.

It said the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrated a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.

It said the hold on the sale also showcased how powerfully the US lawmakers wanted to push the Biden administration to rethink the country’s relations with Africa’s most populous nation amid overarching concerns that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was drifting towards authoritarianism as his government has been besieged by multiple security challenges, including a jihadist insurgency.

Foreign policy observed that Western governments and international human rights organisations had ramped up their criticisms of the Nigerian government, particularly, in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in deadly crackdowns on protesters after widespread demonstrations against police brutality last year.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June.

Both Menendez and Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have therefore placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to Foreign Policy on the condition of anonymity.

The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January before then former US Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.

Nigeria has relied on US arms sales in the past to help address multiple security challenges, including the 12-year insurgency by Boko Haram militants in the country’s northeast, a spate of high-profile kidnapping-for-ransom campaigns targeting schoolchildren in the country’s North-west, and deadly clashes between the country’s semi-nomadic herders and farmers fueled by climate change and environmental degradation of the country’s arable land.

The State Department, it was said, described the US-Nigeria relationship as “among the most important in sub-Saharan Africa” and had provided limited funding for various military training and education programmes.

Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defence sales until it could make a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military and whether the military was doing enough to minimise civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.

“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” said Judd Devermont, Director of the Africa programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.

Continuing, he added, “But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will actually, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail. There is a culture of impunity that exists around abuses by the military,” said Anietie Ewang, the Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Ewang cited the Nigerian military’s killing of unarmed protesters during the country’s massive #EndSARS demonstrations against police corruption and brutality last year as well as cases documented by human rights organisations of abuses in the military’s campaign against Boko Haram.

“I’m sure it’s a difficult situation. There are so many conflicts springing up across the country now. The authorities, I presume, are trying to do the best they can to save lives and properties. But this must be done in accordance with human rights standards. You can’t throw one out just to be able to achieve the other.”

Nigerian Embassy in Washington did not, however, return a request for comment, foreign policy claimed.

In the past, the Nigerian military had dismissed reports of human rights abuses by its soldiers as baseless and accused human rights groups of undermining the military’s resolve to combat terrorism.

But the United States had scrubbed proposed arms sales to Nigeria in the past on a case-by-case basis.

Former US President Barack Obama’s administration cut back arms sales to Nigeria over concerns about civilian casualties and human rights abuses, including blocking a 2014 sale of Cobra helicopters by Israel to Nigeria.

During that time, US officials reportedly voiced concerns that Boko Haram had infiltrated the Nigerian military—an accusation that provoked indignation from the Nigerian government.

These moves severely strained US-Nigeria relations, with Buhari accusing Obama of having unintentionally “aided and abetted” extremist groups by refusing to expand military cooperation and arms sales.

In late 2017, then US President Donald Trump’s administration agreed to sell the Nigerian government 12 A-29 Super Tucano warplanes, resurrecting a proposed sale the Obama administration froze after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp that January.

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Over 1M Nigerians Have Completed Online Voters Card Pre-Registration – INEC

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INEC-PVC- Investors King

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) affirmed that over 1 million additional voters have completed their online pre-registration for the ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) within the last four weeks across the country.

INEC’s national commissioner, and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this through a statement released in Abuja on Monday.

Of the 1 million new eligible voters, 259,450 people have completed their registration in Osun State and it is currently been followed by Edo state with 98,286 new voters.

These two states were closely followed by Anambra state with 65,014, followed by Bayelsa with 63,250, and later Lagos State with 61,991, this came as Yobe with 1,893, followed by Sokoto State with 2,453, Jigawa 2,593, and Zamfara with 2,769 were some of the least stare registered.

The state’s distribution of the online fresh registration released by INEC in Abuja on Monday showed the weekly update provided by INEC for week four which also reveals that the commission received 1,135,395 applications.

The figure of the total applications received includes those for voter transfer, requests for replacement of Permanent Voter Cards, and update of voter information record, etc.

According to the commission, the distribution of the 1,135,395 total applications by age group showed that 740,063 of them were youths between the ages of 18 to 34 years.

The applications from the middle-aged of between 35 to 49 years old were 278,042; the elderly from 50 to 69 years were 102,578; while the old from 70 years and above were 14,712

The distribution by occupation indicated that artisan constituted 75,877 of the total applications; farming/fishing – 81,096; public servants -25,298; business -230,551; house wives -25,816; students 355,227; civil servants 44,093; traders 97,624; others/not specified 199,813.

Also, the distribution by gender showed that females constituted 492,449 of the received applications while males were 642,946 as well as showed that 12,274 of the applicants indicated to be persons living with disabilities.

Okoye, providing an update on the online pre-registration which started nationwide on June 28, disclosed that the commission, also on Monday, commenced physical registration at its 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.

According to the statement, “As of 7 am today, Monday, July 26, the number of new registrants has risen to 1,006,661. The detailed distribution of the registrants by age, State/FCT, gender, occupation, and disability for week four of the exercise has been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms.

“However, the distribution by age still shows that 740,063 (or 73.5 percent) are young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34. As earlier announced by the commission, physical or in-person registration begins today, Monday, July 26 at our 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.

“The exact locations of the designated centers have already been uploaded to our website and social media platforms. For further details, citizens are encouraged to contact our state offices through the dedicated telephone numbers provided in the uploaded publication.

“‘Nigerians who pre-registered online can now complete their registration at those centers based on scheduled appointments. In addition, other Nigerians who prefer to register physically/in person can now do so at those centers.

“Both online pre-registration and physical/in-person registration will continue simultaneously until the suspension of the CVR exercise on June 30, 2022, to enable the commission to clean up the data and compile the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election.”

Okoye appealed to all citizens who wished to register to approach any of INEC’s state or local government area offices nationwide to do so, as the commission entered the next phase of the CVR exercise.

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Oyo State Budgets N330M Monthly To Support Community Policing In LGAs

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Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State

Oyo State Governor, Seye Makinde has said that the state has set aside a monthly budget of N330 million to be spent on security across the 33 local governments in the state.

The governor who disclosed this in Ibadan said each local government in the state is expected to spend N10 million to support the security of lives and property in their domain.

He said part of the measures was the instruction to local government chairmen to involve traditional rulers as well as other voluntary residents in policing their areas.

Each local government is to spend N10 million monthly on this security arrangement.

Makinde explained that the initiative amounts to spending N330 million in the 33 local government areas, besides other efforts the state government had put in place to tighten security.

“We said each local government should set up a security committee, which should include traditional rulers and voluntary people willing to police their areas.

“I encouraged them to budget N10 million to service the committee every month. For the entire state, that’s N330 million per month by all local governments, excluding what we are doing generally at the state level,” the governor told a group on a visit to him during the recent Muslim festival.

“On security, most of the data in the past months shows that things are now improving. The Igangan incident, some days ago, was only falsified by some people who were saying that Fulani herdsmen had invaded Igangan again. The truth is actually about the NCS and smugglers. They know each other.

“Customs officials were accused to have entered Igangan, which is not a border town. But we are working with Federal authorities and they have arrested most of them.

“The gun that was collected is still with us. I said I won’t release it until I get the attention of the Federal authorities.

“In the Constitution of Nigeria, Oyo State is a federating unit. We are not saying Federal agencies should not carry out their operations here. But they must tell us; they must inform us. They may not disclose the details of the operation to us, but we must know about it.

“If we had known about the operation, we would have pre-informed the security detail in the town and those who died could have been alive. The Amotekun Coordinator that died in Igboora would have still been alive today.

“How can you go operating in an unidentified vehicle in a town where the security tactics have been heightened? As they wanted to enter the town, they were confronted because we have heightened security in all of those places.

“So, we will keep appealing to them and to our people that false information won’t help anybody. Nobody will profit politically from the security issues we are faced with. It is our collective responsibility. The people will play their part and the government will play its own part,” Makinde said.

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