Four northern state governors have risen to the challenge thrown to them by some eminent Nigerians to initiate talks with members of the Boko Haram sect to embrace the amnesty offered them by the Federal Government.
The governors’ action has put an end to the growing fears that the planned dialogue between the Federal Government and the insurgents to pave the way for the amnesty proper had hit a brick wall.
Our correspondent gathered from very authoritative sources close to some northern governors at the weekend that Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe and his Borno State counterpart, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, had made a breakthrough in their negotiations with some leaders of the group.
Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State has called on the speakers of the 19 Northern states to support President Goodluck Jonathan’s proposed amnesty programme for members of the Boko Haram sect.
He made the call last Saturday in Minna, at the 24th Forum of Speakers of the 19 Northern States.
“The President needs to be supported and encouraged by all Nigerians to succeed in the effort aimed at finding solution to the insecurity challenges bedevilling the nation,“ the governor said.
He said amnesty was a good step toward resolving the insecurity, and stressed the need to explore other avenues.
The governor said there might be international dimensions to the issues of Boko Haram and urged the relevant authorities to look into that aspect.
Aliyu identified child abuse as a major problem in the north, adding that the almajiri education must be integrated into formal school system.
He urged the speakers to go back to their various constituencies and articulate development plans for education, security, agriculture and health services.
Speaker, Niger House of Assembly, Alhaji Adamu Usman, urged his colleagues to give priority to passage of bills that would boost development.
Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, who also spoke on the matter in Minna last Saturday, named Gombe State as the fourth state that had opened talks with the insurgents.
One of the sources declared that, “the three governors are already speaking with members of the sect. These governors reported to the last National Economic Council (NEC) meeting the progress they had made in reaching the leadership of this sect and they were mandated to continue”.
Governor Aliyu stated that the amnesty programme was not an automatic solution to the problems of Boko Haram but meaningful dialogue with the sect.
Opening the Northern States Speakers’ Forum conference in Minna, the state capital, the governor explained that the purported rejection of the amnesty offer by Boko Haram was to further widen the scope of discussion, and urged Nigerians not to be discouraged by the media report.
Aliyu specifically called on the government of the vulnerable states to intensify contact with the sect so that there would be no hitches when the Federal Government reels out the amnesty programme.
The governor, who is also the chairman of the Northern State Governors’ Forum, said that the Boko Haram members were not ghosts because the government of Bauchi, Gombe, Borno and Yobe had established contacts with them.
“I think when people hear amnesty; they think it is something that is the solution to the security challenges. No! That is the process; it is like saying come and let us discuss; all what you have done, I am not going to look at that. But people think by amnesty, the problem is solved, No! “ he stated.
According to him, “because somebody says they are rejecting amnesty, we are discouraged. No! It is part of the negotiation, raising the ante so that discussion will take place.”
While commending the Borno State Government for raising a committee on the amnesty, he said that it was a good thing also that Bauchi, Yobe and Gombe states had hitherto established contact with the members of the sect.
He stated that the effort made by the affected state governments would provide the avenue to properly organise the amnesty so that when the Federal Government is ready, the states would be ready.
On the legislative function, Aliyu described the legislature as the most powerful arm of government, and urged the state lawmakers to make laws to promote peace in the country.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Northern Speakers’ Forum and Speaker of the Kebbi State House of Assembly, Hon. Aminu Musa Jega, stated that the forum would discuss the security challenges in the north and the proposed amnesty for Boko Haram by the Federal Government during the meeting.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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