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Senate Stands with Buhari, Tells Protesters to Leave Him Alone

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  • Senate Stands with Buhari, Tells Protesters to Leave Him Alone

The Senate Tuesday lashed out at civil society organisations (CSOs) protesting the prolonged medical vacation of President Muhammadu Buhari abroad, asking the protesters to leave the president alone as he had not violated any law.

It noted that Buhari, before his medical trip to the United Kingdom, fulfilled the constitutional requirement of informing the National Assembly of his vacation and transmitted power to the vice-president.

Some CSOs had in the past two days besieged Abuja, demanding that the president either resumes duty immediately or resigns his position.

The protest march, which was led by entertainment icon and activist, Mr. Charles Oputa (Charley Boy), however, took a new turn Tuesday as the police dispersed it, firing tear gas at the protesters that had gathered at their Unity Fountain, Abuja rendezvous.

The police explained later in the day that it disrupted the protest to forestall the breakdown of law and order.

The Senate in a reaction to the protest by its Chairman of Media and Publicity Committee, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, cautioned the protesters against overheating the polity with what it called their unreasonable demands, saying their actions were creating unnecessary tension in the country.

It said the protests could divert the attention of the federal government from its efforts at tackling the economic and security challenges facing the nation.

“The president has broken no law and therefore we do not see any justification for this diversion and noise making,” the Senate said, adding: “The sponsors are merely seeking cheap publicity at the expense of the peace of Nigeria.”

It denied the claim of the protesters that the president’s absence had created a vacuum and disrupted the workings of government. “We, in the National Assembly, are satisfied that there is no vacuum. The federal government is working. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is providing the required leadership. So, there is no reason for the protests.” it said firmly.

According to the upper legislative chamber, “All Nigerians now should focus on praying for the safe return of the president. We in the Senate are happy about the report by the governors and party leaders who recently visited President Buhari in London and we know he will soon return to continue to provide leadership to our people and the rest of Africa.

“We, therefore, call on the protesters to stop all these demonstrations and let their sense of patriotism overshadow the zeal for activism by joining other Nigerians to pray for the president, the acting president and Nigeria as a country at this critical period.”

But the protesters were swift in replying the Senate Tuesday, saying the position of the upper legislative chamber was an embarrassment to Nigerians, who were asking necessary questions on the whereabouts of their president.

The protesters under the aegis of #OurMumuDonDo said they would not back down from their request calling on the president to either resume or resign, despite the harassment by the police.

The leader of the group, Oputa, in a statement Tuesday said the Senate had failed in its constitutional responsibilities by not asking necessary questions on the health status of the president.

“I am disappointed in this country. But let it be known that no amount of intimidation on us by security agencies will deter us from demanding explanations from the government,” he said, adding: “They must be accountable to Nigerians because they were elected into power by us, and it is on this basis that they will account for their actions. We are tired of the back and forth stories from the Presidency on Buhari’s whereabouts.”

Oputa stated: “Also, to compound the mess Nigerians are in, it is disheartening for the Senate that ought to ask questions to be the very ones supporting such show of shame. Indeed, the feeling out here based on their position is that they are nothing but Buhari’s errand boys. I guess the Senate is desperate to please the president. They have failed Nigerians when most needed.”

He said the position of the Bukola Saraki-led Senate that the protesters should leave Buhari alone as he had violated no law was outright ridiculous.

“Saraki’s position,” he contended, “is a desperate attempt to patronise the president.”

Police Disperse Protesters

The second day of the protest by campaigners urging Buhari to resume work or resign had ended in pandemonium Tuesday after riot policemen fired tear gas canisters and water canon to disperse the crowd.
The first protest held on Monday by the group that called itself ‘Concerned Nigerians,’ was largely successful.

But they got more than they bargained for in their resolve to resume the sit-in and even extend the protest to the Presidential Villa when policemen disrupted the procession at the Millennium Park and Unity Fountain in the Central Area of the federal capital.

In the process, many of the protesters, including Oputa were injured.
Two journalists from the stable of Silver Bird Television, Uyi Amadim and Femi, were also brutalised along with Oputa.

He later fainted after inhaling teargas but was revived by sympathisers, who poured water on him.

Subsequently, policemen neutralised the protest by preventing the protesters from assembling at the Unity Fountain.

They also stopped the group from proceeding further to the National Assembly gate and the State House.

But the leader of Concerned Nigerians, Mr. Deji Adeyanju, accused the police of high-handedness and said no amount of police assault would deter the protesters from continuing on their call on the president to either resume or resign.

He insisted that nobody in the country had the right to stop the citizens from gathering.

Adeyanju said: “The president should resign if he is incapacitated. We are not interested in the lies the cabal is telling.

“The police told us that they have an order from above, claiming that our protest is embarrassing the government, and we queried them to know who gave the order.

“Buhari is a complete servant and Nigerians have the right to ask questions about the health of the person that is serving them.
“The cabal in Aso Rock cannot continue to take the president in and out of the country at will, and continue to tell us lies.”

The police, however, said it dispersed the protesters to prevent the breakdown of law and order.

According to the FCT Police Command spokesperson, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, “In the early hours of today, 8th August, 2017 the Police intervened and prevented breakdown of law and order, and disturbance of public peace in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja by dispersing some miscreants, hoodlums and other criminal elements that have infiltrated the protest being carried out by a group of concerned Nigerians under the auspices of Our-Mumu-Don-do Movement at Unity Fountain, Maitama, Abuja.

“It will be recalled that ‘Our-Mumu-Don-do Movement’ carried out their protest on Monday 7th August, 2017 at the same venue and were accorded necessary Police presence to safe guard public safety and public peace, and protect their rights to freedom of expression, rights to peaceful assembly and association, and right to freedom of movement as provided for in sections 39, 40, and 41 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

“However, yesterday 8th August, 2017 the same group assembled at the same venue but allowed miscreants, hoodlums and other unruly individuals to infiltrate the protests, who started blocking the major roads adjoining the Unity fountain, obstructing traffic and preventing movements of other innocent citizens from going to their means of livelihood, and thereby exhibiting unruly behaviours and other violent acts very likely to cause the breakdown of law and order and disturbance of public peace.”

Manzah explained that the police personnel intervened at the point the Concerned Nigerians group lost control of the crowd and prevented miscreants, hoodlums and other criminal elements from hijacking the protest to cause mayhem and chaos.

He added: “It is pertinent to state here that the FCT Police Command is fully aware and recognises the constitutional rights of every citizen including ‘Our-Mumu-Don-Do Group’ to assemble and move freely in any part of the Federal Capital Territory, but the command will not allow any protest under any guise to turn violent and jeopardise the prevailing peace, law and order currently being enjoyed in the FCT.

“The command wishes to assure all residents and visitors to the territory of adequate security and protection of lives and property of everyone including those who choose to express their constitutional rights of protest with decorum.

“Consequently, members of the public, parents and guardians, religious/opinion leaders and other interest groups are advised to prevail on their children and wards, followers and adherents not to allow themselves to be used by any group to cause disturbance of public peace and breakdown of law and order.”

Meanwhile, the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has said Buhari should be made the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he failed to resign.

Speaking at a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) forum in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital Tuesday, Fayose criticised the Presidency for shrouding Buhari’s health in secrecy.

He said he was excluded from the delegation that visited the president in London because the organisers of the trip knew that he would “definitely reveal the truth”.

Two weeks ago, Buhari hosted seven governors from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP at the Abuja House in London.

Fayose said if he had joined his counterparts on that trip, he would have observed Buhari closely and disclosed the outcome of his findings to Nigerians.

He asked: “Why did they not take me to London? Why didn’t they take me there?

He answered: “They obviously knew very well that I would listen to the man and know whether his voice is clear or not. Then, I would be able to tell Nigerians the truth.”

He added: “Leadership must come with a certain measure of strength. If you don’t have strength, how can you govern the country?
“So, we need a president that is hale and hearty. If our president doesn’t want to go, let him become the minister of foreign affairs in London. These are statements of fact.”

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

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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Government

China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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