- Ortom Defects to PDP, APC Says Gov’s Action Surprising
At last, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Wednesday formally announced his defection from the All Progessives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party.
This is coming a day after the APC lost 13 of its senators and 37 of its House of Representatives members to the PDP, thus giving the majority status to the former ruling party in the Senate.
Ortom made the declaration during the meeting with local government chairmen and their councillors at the new banquet hall of the Government House, Makurdi.
Thirteen local government chairmen and 276 councillors were in attendance.
Ortom, who said that despite the intervention of the national leadership of the APC, the “state chapter of the party has continued to launch attack on me.”
“This morning, I had wanted to go to Abuja to attend the meeting but some youths in the state refused, they asked me to go back.
“But let me formally inform this gathering that I have forwarded my resignation letter from the APC to the chairman of my council ward and he has promised to join me in the new party,” Ortom declared.
Immediately he announced his resignation from the APC, the governor displayed his resignation letter to the people.
“As I talk to you, 10 out of 17 state lawmakers of the APC are ready to follow me to the new party. May I formally announce to you that I have formally moved to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,” Ortom declared.
Earlier, the 13 council chairmen and leaders of the legislative council in attendance promised to follow the governor to the PDP to ensure his re-election aspiration.
Earlier, youths under the auspices of ‘Coalition of Benue Youths’, comprising 40 groups on Wednesday had stormed the government house and prevented Ortom from travelling to Abuja as they forced him to return to the government house.
Ortom was on his way to Abuja to meet with the leadership of the APC with a view to settling the rift between him and Senator George Akume.
The governor had around 10am taken off from the Government House, Makurdi when the youths in their hundreds blocked his route.
The youths carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “Ortom don’t go back to the APC,” “We don’t have land to donate for ranching,” “The APC is Miyetti party,” Our farms are not for cows,” You must leave the APC,” Ortom is our party, “ and “2019: On Ortom we stand.”
Terrence Kuanum and Pastor Dave Ogbole, who spoke on behalf of the youths, advised the governor not to attend the meeting but to seek an alternative platform for his re-election bid.
The youths threatened not to vote for him if he shunned their advice and attend the meeting.
To give fillip to their declaration, Ogbole, ordered the removal of the APC flag from the governor’s official car.
The governor’s driver complied immediately by removing the APC flag.
“We need a leader that will protect us and you have shown that in the past three years but we don’t want you to attend the meeting with the leaders of the APC.But if you insist, there is no problem but be ready to crush all of us,” Ogbole said.
The governor, who pleaded with the youths to allow him attend the meeting with the promise to protect their interest had to make a U-turn when the youths insisted that he should not go to Abuja for a meeting with the APC leaders.
“I know the support you have shown and still show to me but I promise you that I will protect your interest,” the governor pleaded.
Ortom’s defection somewhat surprising, says APC
But the APC on Wednesday lamented Ortom’s defection, saying the party found the governor’s action “somewhat surprising.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said the party was surprised because efforts were being made by the national leadership of the ruling party to ensure that Ortom did not dump the party.
Abdullahi said. “The party recalls efforts made by the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to address some of the grievances raised by the Benue State governor pertaining to the local politics in Benue State.
“The governor had left the meeting saying he was satisfied with the assurances given by party leaders. We are still working on giving effect to the resolutions from the meeting. Therefore, we are somewhat surprised by Governor Ortom’s decision.
“The party reiterates its earlier position that it respects the rights of every citizen to choose their political affiliation but expresses hope that those who have left the party will rescind their decisions.
“Even with this development, we don’t think it is too late for reconciliation. We have to continue to talk. As long as people keep their minds open and have the courage to put the real issues on the table, reconciliation is still possible,” he added.
PDP hails Ortom, says Benue gov courageous
But the PDP has welcomed Ortom back to its fold, adding that two more APC governors will join the party before this week runs out.
The PDP also urged all its members in the APC to return ‘home’ and salvage the nation.
The party also hailed Ortom for allegedly showing patriotic courage and boldness in what the party described as “these times of brazen dictatorship.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said that the return of the governor to the PDP confirmed the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the APC “do not have the welfare of Nigerians at heart, as they have continually offer flimsy excuses over the mindless killings that have caused untold sorrows across the country, particularly in Benue State.”
He said, “The PDP recalls that the Buhari-led Federal Government has failed in its basic responsibility of protecting lives, property, and the territorial integrity of our nation.
“Painfully, Nigerians are being slaughtered in Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Kaduna, Zamfara and Sokoto, nearly on a daily basis.
“The party also recall how the APC-led Buhari administration, would rather plead for the accommodation of persons who have been repeatedly fingered as being responsible for heinous killings in the Benue valley rather than take decisive and concrete actions to preserve lives of Nigerians.
“The PDP, however, hails the governor for standing firm by the people of Benue State and refusing to mortgage their welfare to a government that has consistently demonstrated cluelessness.
“We urge the governor to rest assured that he will be accorded his dues and rights as a member of the PDP.”
Ologbondiyan added that the return of Ortom to the PDP, which he said was a reflection of his people’s desire, allegedly further confirmed the rejection of the Buhari -led APC administration by Nigerians.
“It also buttresses the fact that the PDP remains the viable platform for all Nigerians that are desirous of rescuing our nation from the gross mis-governance and authoritarianism exhibited by the APC-led administration,” he added.
PDP set to receive Sokoto, Kwara govs
Also, the national leadership of the PDP has set in motion modalities to receive two governors elected on the platform of the APC into its fold, The PUNCH learnt on Wednesday.
The governors are said to be coming to fortify the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
A national officer of the party, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said that the two governors might declare for the PDP before Sunday.
He named the two governors as Aminu Tambuwal and Abdulfatah Ahmed of Sokoto and Kwara states, respectively.
He said that the two governors would be the first set of “about five governors” the party would be expecting to defect to it from the ruling APC.
The source said, “Anytime from Thursday (today), we are expecting two governors to publicly renounce their membership of the APC. The two governors are going to be the first set of governors that will come after the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom.
“We are also expecting more members of the National Assembly and even state Houses of Assembly members in coming days.”
Tambuwal and a former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, may join the PDP presidential race soon.
When contacted, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said that the “PDP is expecting more people, including governors in coming days.”
Secondus, who said that he would not want to be specific about the number of governors that would defect to the PDP, insisted that “very soon, the APC will be empty.”
He added, “The APC won the 2015 general elections in borrowed robes. Unfortunately, it does not have the capacity to manage its success.
“The leadership of the party and the leadership it produced for the country do not have the capacity to manage the huge success and a country with divergent opinions and ethnic groups like Nigeria. That’s why both the country and the people are in a mess.
“Like I said yesterday, soon, and very soon, those deceiving themselves that they are not losing sleep over the loss of their membership will start having migraine that cannot be treated.”
Defection not a threat to Buhari’s re-election – BCO
However, the National Coordinator, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Alhaji Danladi Pasali, has said the defection of some senators and House of Representatives members from the APC to the PDP will in no way affect the re-election of President Buhari in 2019.
He said the lawmakers defected in order to save their political ambitions, noting that no serious politician could have left the party at this critical time when election was just a few months away.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, Pasali stated that with or without the former APC members, “the President is already the man of the masses and no serious politician could dump President Buhari or the ruling party at this particular moment.”
He said, “All of those that defected to the PDP need Buhari in their political career more than Buhari needs them. Except few among them, the majority of them rode on the wave of popularity of President Buhari in 2015 to secure their mandates.
“So for us at the BCO, we regard this as great political miscalculation and suicide. In most cases, you can’t make progress if you have an enemy within because he will pretend to be with you, but in reality he is using the relationship to bring you down,” the BCO leader stated.
He counselled the President to be wary of those pretending to support him when in reality, they were his political detractors.
Pasali asked Nigerians to judge the President on the parameters of his developmental strides, stating that his administration had revived the rail, agriculture and education in the country.
“The masses of this country know what Mr President stands for, and they tested the good governance that they never witnessed before in terms of infrastructural development in the area of roads, rails, agriculture, health, education and employment generation,” he argued.
Buhari meets APC senators after gale of defection
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday evening met behind closed doors with senators elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
The meeting, which was held inside the First Lady Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, started at about 10pm.
The meeting came barely 24hours after a gale of defection hit the APC caucus in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
As of the time of filing this report, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who has yet to defect from the APC, was not in attendance.
The senators were led to the meeting by the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan.
About 43 senators elected on the platform of the APC attended the meeting.
Buhari was joined to receive the senators by the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, among other top government officials.
Your son is back home, Tejuosho tells President
Senator Lanre Tejuosho from Ogun Central who was reported to have left the party on Wednesday attended the meeting.
He told the President while introducing himself that “Mr. President, your son is back home.”
Other senators present were Adamu Aleiro, Bala Ibn Na-Allah, Aliyu Wamako, Ibrahim Gobir, Kabiru Marafa, Abu Ibrahim, Kabiru Gaya, Barau Jibrin, Abdullahi Gumel, Shehu Sani, Ali Ndume, Abubakar Kyari, Baba Kaka Garbai, Aliyu Abdullahi, David Umaru, and Abdullahi Adamu.
Others were George Akume, Francis Alimekhina, Andrew Uchendu, Magnus Abe, Ovie Omo-Agege, John Enoh, Nelson Effiong, Andy Uba, Sunny Ugboji, Hope Uzodinma, Ben Uwajimogu, Yusuf Yusuf, Oluremi Tinubu, Gbenga Ashafa, Solomon Adeola, Tayo Alasoadura, Soji Akanbi, Ajayi Boroface, Yele Omogunwa, Fatima Rasaki, and Yahaya Abdullahi.
The meeting was still ongoing as of the time of filing this report.
Buhari had last Thursday met with members of the House of Representatives loyal to him.
The lawmakers, under the auspices of the Parliamentary Support Group, were led to the meeting by their chairman, Musa Sarkin-Adar, and Abdulmumini Jibrin.
At the end of that meeting, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, had told journalists that senators would take their turn in a matter of days.
Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.
The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.
Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.
Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.
The statement in full:
“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.
The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.
With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;
Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website www.immigration.gov.ng;
- applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
- a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
- upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
- that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
- that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
- applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
- a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.
The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.
Signed AMOS OKPU MNIPR
ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER OF IMMIGRATION
SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
For: COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION 8TH JUNE, 2021″
INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.
Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.
He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities
He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.
“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.
“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.
“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.
“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.
He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.
“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”
Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.
According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.
“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.
“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.
“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission
“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.
Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.
Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.
“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.
“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria
“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.
He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.
Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.
“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.
“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.
“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said
Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.
Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.
Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum
The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.
The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.
The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.
The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.
He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”
“You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.
Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.
Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.
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