The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the umbrella body of the monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of Niger Delta has appealed to the authorities of the Nigerian Army to reconsider launching Operation Crocodile Smile II in the oil region, saying, there was no basis for it.
The group, in a statement by the Coordinating Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade noted that the planned deployment was wrong, especially at a time that efforts were being made by the Federal Government and leaders of the region, as represented by PANDEF, to consolidate the much- needed sustainable peace and development in the region.
It said, “It is no longer news that there have been relative peace in the Niger Delta region following the understanding reached with the aggrieved agitators by PANDEF, which has consistently demonstrated the primacy of dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts rather than destruction of oil and gas assets in the region.
“It is on record that the Federal Government has made some indications of its readiness in ensuring the fast-tracking of the development efforts in the region by the adoption of the 16 -point agenda as working tool for this purpose as well as the positive pronouncements on some of the 16-point items for immediate implementation.
“PANDEF, therefore, is of the strong opinion that whatever actions on the part of government that will undermine this much desired hard earned peace process should be discouraged.
“It is on this premise that PANDEF was taken aback by the announcement of the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig- Gen Sani Usman of the readiness of the Nigerian Army to launch ‘Operation Crocodile Smile 11’ in the oil-rich South-South region, just as ‘Operation Python Dance’ was being deployed in the South-East zone of Nigeria, which has elicited mixed reactions from wide range of stakeholders,” the group said.
It added: “Whilst it is not the position of PANDEF to challenge operational deployments of Nigerian soldiers in any part of Nigeria in accordance with best practices and rules of engagement, and without prejudice to the constitutional role of the military in a democratic setting, we, however observe that, this contemplated deployment of the ‘Operation Crocodile Smile 11’ is certainly misconceived, especially at this time when the region is gradually coming to terms with the urgent need for sustaining the relative peace in the region.”
PANDEF stated: “It is on record that the previous launch of the ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ in the Niger Delta, last year, left in its trail bitter tales of woes, including harassment, destruction of helpless communities and killings of innocent persons.
It is palpable that the second coming of this Operation Crocodile Smile’ will not be any better, as it is fraught with the tendencies for heating up the fragile peace in the Niger Delta region.”
It pointed out: “This fear and concern is being expressed by cross section of the people of the helpless communities and stakeholders in the region, including the Delta Ijaw Women Initiative (DIWI), a body of concerned women, which had also lend its voice to the call for restraint on the part the Nigerian Military in the planned deployment of ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ in the region.
PANDEF further argued: “The basis for the second coming of ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ in the Niger Delta region does not arise at this moment. The reasons canvassed by the military to justify the launch of ‘Operation Python Dance’ in the South-East, which included kidnappings, robbery and other vices prevalent in the South-East, have very low occurrence level in the South-South, and so do not require the deployment of any special ‘crocodile’.
“Militarisation of the region is certainly not the way out. What is needed now is to consolidate on the existing peace to fast-track peace and development in the Niger Delta region.
“At the just concluded 2nd National Council on the Niger Delta, which was held at Akure, Ondo State, from 7th to 14th September, 2017, and declared open by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the governments and all stakeholders are unanimous that there is the urgent need to sustain the prevailing peace and fast-track development in the region. No provision was made for militarization of the region, under any guise,” PANDEF said.
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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