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11 Govs Storm PDP Confab ’Morrow – As Rivers Delegates Back Secondus For Chairman

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Less than 24 hours to the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Chairman of the organising committee for the event, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa saysd everything has been put in place to ensure a successful outing.
Speaking to a cross section of journalists at the Wadata Plaza, National Secretariat of the PDP in Abuja, yesterday, Okowa, who is also the Governor of Delta State, said after the committee meetings that lasted more than four hours, the committees for the event have submitted their reports, assuring that all was set for the convention.
According to the governor, “We are not having challenges as it concerns the convention, we are working to ensure that everything is set, today, we took committee reports, and I can tell you that everything is going on smoothly.”
Asked specifically if paucity of funds will not affect the convention, Okowa said, “We don’t have too much fund, we don’t need too much fund but, we have enough to take care of the convention.
“Everything is set for us to have a successful convention on Saturday,” the governor emphasized.
At the PDP secretariat, many PDP chieftains were seen going in and out of the secretariat with business picking up in the area.
Ninety-two aspirants have signified their intention to run for 23 offices in the Saturday’s national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Some of the offices to be contested are national chairman, deputy national chairman (South), deputy national chairman (North), secretary, deputy national secretary, national legal adviser, deputy national legal adviser, national organising secretary, national youth leader, and national publicity secretary.
A list of the aspirants obtained by one of our correspondents in Abuja yesterday night showed that nine of the aspirants were running for the office of the national chairman.
The aspirants are Uche Secondus, Gbenga Daniel, Jimi Agbaje, Rashidi Ladoja, Taoheed Adedoja, Tunde Adeniran, Olabode George, Raymond Dokpesi and Aderemi Olusegun.
Ninety-two aspirants have signified their intention to run for 23 offices in the Saturday’s national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party.
A list of the aspirants obtained by our correspondents in Abuja yesterday night showed that nine of the aspirants were running for the office of the national chairman.
The aspirants are Uche Secondus, Gbenga Daniel, Jimi Agbaje, Rashidi Ladoja, Taoheed Adedoja, Tunde Adeniran, Olabode George, Raymond Dokpesi and Aderemi Olusegun.
All the chairmanship aspirants had been screened by a screening panel headed by a former governorship candidate of the party in Edo State, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
The screening took place at the Presidential Campaign office of the party, popularly known as Legacy Building, which is located at Maitama District in Abuja.
Seven out of the nine aspirants are from the South-West. Secondus and Dokpesi are from the South-South.
There were surprises on the list of those competing for the position of Deputy National Chairman (South), as some names from the South-West featured prominently on the list.
They are a former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi, and a former Minister of Solid Minerals, Chief Sarafa Isola.
Also in the race for the office of the deputy national chairman are Yemi Akinwonmi, Adisa Oladapo and Sterling Ellis
Six candidates are vying for the position of the deputy national chairman (North).
They are a former Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Inna Ciroma; Alhaji Musa Usman, Nuhu Poloma, Senator Babayo Garmawa, Bala Ilela and Abdulmalik Mahmud.
Aspirants for the position of NPS are a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman; Faruk Adejoh-Audu, Mohammed Usman, Kola Ologbodiyan and Ben Duntoye.
Only three people are however vying for the position of National Organising Secretary.
They are Emeka Donald, Godwin Duru and Austin Akobundu.
Meanwhile, 11 governors elected on the platform of the party are said to be angry with the reported move of a former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, to impose his front as the chairman of the party.
Babangida, who is being accused of contributing nothing to the party when it was in crisis, is alleged to be attempting to impose a candidate on the party as its national chairman.
A governor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said rather than help in building the party, Babangida had been holding clandestine meetings aimed at disorganising the party.
The source said, “He wants to impose someone on the party because he has a candidate for the presidential slot of the party in 2019. We won’t agree to that.
“He has not identified with us. We didn’t see him during our trying times and all that. Now, because he has seen that there is a prospect for the party in 2019, he wants to plant his stooge here. It will fail.”
A former National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, who arrived at the party’s national secretariat with some PDP stakeholders in Anambra State, alleged that the list of delegates, sent from the state, had been fraudulently altered.
They accused a national officer of the party of being the brains behind the action and specifically urged the national leadership of the PDP to be wary of the said fake list by rejecting it.
The stakeholders made their position known in a communique at the end of a meeting on Wednesday night in Abuja, which they submitted to the Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
Signatories to the communique include Metuh, Chris Ubah and Okey Ezenwa.
Another group of protesters equally submitted a petition to the national caretaker committee asking it to disqualify one of the aspirants for the position of the NOS.
The petition, which was signed by Onyebuchi Nwosu, alleged that the aspirant had engaged in acts of misappropriation and misconduct in running the party affairs in the past.
Meanwhile, at a press briefing in Abuja, Adeniran declared that he was satisfied with responses to his petitions ahead of the convention, adding that he was ready for the convention.
Speaking through the director-general of his campaign organisation, Shehu Gabam, Adeniran said the governors elected on the platform of the party had agreed that the election would be transparent.
“We don’t have much to complain about. Most issues have been taken care of. We raised issues on the chairmanship of the electoral committee and the party responded. We now want to allow everything to lie,” he said.
Ahead of Saturday’s national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Buruji Kashamu, has called on delegates, leaders and stakeholders of the party not to elect any aspirants undergoing corruption trial.
He said the delegates should discard anyone being tried for corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, stressing that the anti-corruption agency was also planning to re-arrest some aspirants accused of corruption.
In a statement in Abuja on Thursday, Kashamu said, “While it is true that an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, our great party cannot afford to close its eyes to this potential threat.
“It is a no-brainer that if a national chairman with a corruption case is elected, the party will literally be put on trial with him.
“This is one avoidable risk that is too much to take. You can be sure that a corruption trial of the national chairman of an opposition party will come with a lot of bad publicity that will sound the death knell for the party.”
Kashamu urged the delegates and stakeholders, especially those from the South-East, to support the quest of the South-West to produce the national chairman in the interest of equity and justice.
While calling on the South-East to learn from the Northern Elders Forum in supporting the South-West in its aspiration, Kashamu said, “Our brothers and sisters from the South-East need to be categorical now in support of the South-West on the ongoing national chairmanship tussle between the South-West and the South-South.
“The implication of this avoidable tussle is to make uncertain the settled South-East vice-presidential quest in 2019. If the South-East expectedly takes a principled stance in support of the South-West, naturally as a reliable race in adhering to agreements, the Yoruba people will reciprocate without any prompting.
“What is currently happening is glaringly an orchestrated assault on the South-West to end up with nothing in 2019, just like we did when our party was in power. This is a dangerously illogical political permutation for 2019 national elections.”
Although the lawmaker acknowledged the right of others to seek election, he was of the view that it should not be done at the expense of established norms and agreements.
“It was because of this that the other positions zoned to the South-West are innocuous deputies to substantive offices except the National Treasurer.
“All these are because the vital national chairmanship had already been conceded to the South-West.’’
A former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, has told delegates to the Saturday’s PDP elective national convention to allow the will of the people to prevail and restore the dignity of the party.
Mark, in a message to the delegates, urged them to shun imposition of candidates and impunity, which he said, ruined the chances of the party in the previous elections.
“I am sure we have learnt some useful lessons from our electoral misfortune in 2015. We now have the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past by allowing the will of the people to prevail at the convention.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has endorsed Prince Uche Secondus as the new national chairman of the party ahead of tomorrow’s National Convention of the party in Abuja.
The state Chairman, Bro. Felix Obuah, announced the endorsement, last Wednesday, during a press briefing in the state capital, Port Harcourt.
He described Secondus as the best among the candidates, saying that he has all it takes to return PDP to power at the centre in 2019.
Obuah said: “As you are aware, our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party, the largest of its kind in the whole of the African continent will again, be making history as it convenes in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for its National Convention on Saturday, December 9, 2017.
“The journey to this point, as you are all aware, has been tortuous, but interestingly, we were able to surmount all the challenges, winning our opponents and detractors roundly up to the apex court of the country, the Supreme Court.
“We’ll ever remain grateful for a strong, virile and fearless judiciary that despite all manner of political undercurrents that threatened to sway it from the path of justice, not only insisted on the truth, but also saw to it that justice was done.
“This is a victory for our democracy, and we will continue to salute its courage as well as the efforts of you, the gentlemen of the press, that painstakingly followed and reported the struggle and legal proceedings to the very end.
“It is all these efforts that facilitated this great National Convention due on Saturday during which our great party hopes to choose, most democratically, leaders that will pilot its affairs, tested and impeccable men and women from across the length and breadth of this nation that have the intellectual capacity, political dexterity and administrative ingenuity to redirect and lead our party to victory come 2019.
“The need for this is self explanatory. Our dear nation is currently in a state of social decadence, economic strangulation and political quagmire for the singular reason that those presently in charge of her affairs are a bunch of incompetent, visionless and self-seeking people who do not have what it takes to lead a great nation and a great people like Nigeria.
“Consequently, the PDP is poised and more prepared than it has ever been to take power back from the All Progressives Congress (APC), and redirect the country on the path of progress, development, economic recovery and social justice for all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, party affiliations, religion or creed, etc.
“To achieve this great feat, we of the Rivers State chapter of the PDP have resolved to ensure that only men and women who have the intellect, the acumen, the leadership qualities, tested technocrats and most importantly, honest and God-fearing people are elected as its new executive that will deliver and lead the party to victory come 2019 so that Nigerians will once again be happy in the midst of God-given abundant resources.
“In this regard, we are pleased to inform you that the PDP has fairly and democratically zoned its national offices according to geo-political zones.
“Here, in the whole of the Southern part, we are to produce the national chairman.
“Unlike other zones, ours is easy because we are lucky to have as one of our own, a tested and seasoned personality, with the requisite experience not only to occupy the office of the National chairman but also capable of carrying out the onerous tasks with relative ease and satisfaction.
“He is a pioneer member of the PDP, has served in different capacities including a onetime state chairman, national organizing secretary, deputy national chairman, acting national chairman and a member of BOT, among others.
“He is no other than our very own, Prince Uche Secondus. He needs no introduction to you. For want of a better language, he is a bulldozer whose contributions to the victories recorded by the PDP in the state and at the national level can hardly be quantified.
“We are solidly behind him and those in his camp because Nigerians need him, the PDP needs him, and the nation’s democracy also needs him, if it must endure to redeem the dying Nigerian people.
“We are, therefore, calling on our supporters and members in the state and across the country to see beyond their nose and rise above primordial sentiments; political manoeuvring, and vote for Prince Uche Secondus for PDP National Chairman come Saturday, December 9, 2017.
“We believe in him, we trust in him, we are for him. The voice of the people is the voice of God’, Obuah added

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Southern Govs Back Wike, Insist On VAT Collection …A’Court Urges Rivers To Submit Written Application For Receiver

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Southern Governors met in Enugu, yesterday, and declared their support for Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, insisting that it is within their purview to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).
This is coming amid row between the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government, a case that is now subject of litigation.
The governors also reaffirmed their stand on open-grazing ban, urging every state in the region to quickly pass a law to that regards.
The resolution by the Southern Governors Forum is part of the six-point communique reached at its meeting at the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State, and read by Chairman of the Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
The meeting of the Southern Governors Forum, which reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of the implementation of the decisions reached in its previous meetings, expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in Southern Nigeria were enacting and amending the anti-open grazing laws which allowed a uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors, and encouraged the states that were yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.
Reading the communique after the closed door meeting to journalists, Akeredolu said that the meeting reiterated its earlier position that the next President of Nigeria most come from the southern part of Nigeria, in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
According to the communique, the Southern Governors agreed to encourage the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfit which will meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.
Akeredolu opined that the meeting also reaffirmed its earlier commitment to stick to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasize the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective state Houses of Assembly, as well as representation in the National Assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution, through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
The communiqué, according to the forum’s chairman, expressed satisfaction with the array of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of NNPC by the larger Nigerian Governors Forum.
The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors Forum meeting in November, 2021.
Present at the meeting were Rivers StateGovernor, Chief NyesomWike; Delta StateGovernor, Dr.IfeanyiOkowa;AkwaIbom StateGovernor, Chief Emmanuel Udom; and Osun StateGovernor, IsiakaAdegboyegaOyetola.
Others were Enugu StateGovernor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi;Bayelsa StateGovernor, Senator DuoyeDiri;Lagos State Governor,BabajideSanwo-Olu; and Ogun State Governor,EngrOluwaseyiAbiodun.
The governors of Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyistates were represented by their deputies.
The communiqué read in full, “The Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting of Thursday, September 16, 2021 held in the Government House, Enuqu, Enugu State, reviewed the state or the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:
“Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in the Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti-Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the states that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.
“Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.
“Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to structural and fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasized the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“Following from paragraph 3 above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.
“Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
“Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
“The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November, 2021″.
However, the Court of Appeal, yesterday, declined to accede to the request of Rivers and Lagos states for the appointment of Receiver or Manager for the purpose of collecting and keeping Value Added Taxes (VAT) in place of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) pending the resolution of all legal disputes in the matter.
The two states separately canvassed that the order of status quo ante bellum granted on September 10 in favour of FIRS to continue the collection be put on hold given the appeal already lodged at the Supreme Court against the order.
Counsel to Rivers State, IfedayoAdedipe, SAN, in his oral application, pleaded with the appellate body to exercise its power under Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal to appoint a Receiver or Manager to take custody of the VAT in the interest of justice to parties in the matter.
The Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr MoyosoreOnigbanjo, SAN, who stood for his state, toed the path of Rivers in canvassing that the court be fair and just in the pending appeal.
Onigbanjo specifically asked the Appeal Court to restrain FIRS from further collecting the tax and replace it with a Receiver or Manager that would act for parties that are locked in the legal battle.
The Lagos Attorney General predicated his expressed fear of unjust treatment on the fact that FIRS apart from collecting the tax has been sharing it among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) despite the pendency of the legal tussle.
“I think it is also necessary to restrain the FIRS, because they collect the VAT, distribute to all the states and keeps their own 4 per cent.
“If, at the end of the day, the court agrees with the judgment of the Federal High Court, how do we retrieve the funds that have been shared?”,Onigbanjo added.
The appeal by the FIRS is against August 9, 2021 judgment by Justice Steven Pam of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, voiding the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act and holding that states could collect VAT.
Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, who led a three-member panel, directed them to make the application formal by providing the necessary facts, including ascertaining the amount being collected as VAT.
Other members of the panel are Justices BatureGafai and Peter Affen.
Meanwhile, the court has reserved ruling on an application by Lagos State to be made a respondent in the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The court, after listening to arguments by lawyers to parties, yesterday, said they would be informed when the ruling was ready.
In arguing Lagos’ application, Onigbanjo (SAN) said his client was a necessary party as it would be affected by the outcome of the case.
He noted that, as a federating unit/state in Nigeria, Lagos was entitled to collect VAT by virtue of the judgment of the Federal High Court that annulled VAT Act.
Onigbanjo argued that even the appellant (the FIRS) recognised that Lagos State has an interest in the case, which he said, was evident in the affidavit it filed, wherein copious reference was made to the Lagos State Government.
He further argued that since FIRS, in an affidavit supporting its application for stay of the judgment, recognised the interest of the Lagos State Government in the case, “it cannot now turn around to say the Lagos State Government has no interest in this case and should not be joined. It cannot blow hot and cold or speak from both sides of its mouth.”
Onigbanjo also contended that it was unfair for the FIRS to oppose Lagos’ request to be heard in the case after making allegations against the state.
He added that even the court recognised the interest of Lagos State in the case when it extended its order on maintenance of status quo to Lagos State, which was not yet a party in the case.
Onigbanjo prayed the court to join his client as a respondent.
Adedipe adopted Onigbaajo’s argument, and urged the court to allow the application by Lagos State.
Following the observation by Onigbanjo that the written address filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was incompetent, the lawyer representing the AGF, TijaniGazali (SAN), withdrew the address, subsequent upon which the court struck it out.
Lawyer to FIRS, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), objected to the joinder application filed by Lagos State, arguing, among others, that the state was not a necessary party.
Magaji faulted the competence of the application, and urged the court to discountenance it.
On second thought, Magaji said if the court was willing to join Lagos; it should extend such indulgence to the other states of the federation.

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Okonjo-Iweala Makes ‘TIME 100’

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Nigerian-born Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has thanked the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, for the kind words they penned about her as she makes the TIME 100 list of The World’s Most Influential People.
The magazine has noted the globally-rated economist’s activities around the efforts to ensure that everyone on the planet earth gets vaccinated against any preventable disease for which there is a vaccine.
The ex-World Bank guru has been the Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since January 1, 2016.
Gavi has the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries.
Concerning the TIME entry, the Duke and the Duchess state, “What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation—and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake; her job affects every person, family and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.
“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated.
“Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, we can get there soon”, they wrote.

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Relocation Of Insurgents, Wake-Up Call, CAN Warns

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The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State Chapter, Revd Joseph Hayab, has described the alleged relocation of Boko Haram leaders to Southern Kaduna as a wake-up call on people of the area.
Hayabsaid that though the news of the alleged relocation was not new, government has not done enough to protect the people.
He claimed all the calls from voices of reason appeared not to have moved both the federal and state governments to rise to the occasion.
“The relocation of Boko Haram to Southern Kaduna is not new. Who are those that have been killing people indiscriminately in that area in the last few years? The church, SOKAPU and the people have been complaining about killings in Southern Kaduna but only fell on the deaf ear of those in authority.
“Therefore, the leaked document has simply confirmed our worries and shows that more days for killings of innocent citizens are coming unless the people take personal initiative to defend their lives and land. Our government has not done enough to convince us that they want to stop the killings going on all over the area.
“Now, we were being told that there is a leaked memo about Boko Haram when those in authority have always turned deaf ears to cries of our people when we complain about killers that people see every day. Boko Haram fleeing North-East to Southern Kaduna is simply a wake-up call for the Southern Kaduna people to rise to the occasion,” he said.
A leaked DSS memo had said insurgents were relocating from Sambisa forest in BornoState to Chikun LGA in Kaduna State.
The alert was in a leaked memo marked NSCDC/NHQ/INT&INVST/323/2021, dated September 9, 2021, and signed by the Acting Deputy Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Intelligence and Investigation, B.O. Bassey.
The DSS, therefore, asked the civil defence to be on the alert.
“It has been uncovered, plans by senior Boko Haram fighter, Ibrahim (FNU) alongside his foot soldiers relocating from ‘Sambisa Forest in Borno State to Rijana Forest in ChikunLocal Government Area of Kaduna State with a view to joining their counterpart under the leadership of one AdamuYunusu (aka Saddiqu).
“In light of the above, you are hereby directed to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering on the aforementioned areas and environs.”
Meanwhile, months after the crash involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) King Air 350 aircraft on May 21 at the Kaduna Civil Airport, Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, has submitted an interim report to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Amao, at his office at NAF Headquarters, Abuja.
After the crash, the CAS directed that a joint investigative body consisting of NAF safety officers and the AIB be constituted to investigate the causes.
A joint statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, and General Manager, Public Affairs, AIB, TunjiOketunbi, revealed that at this interim stage, a total of 27 initial findings and eight safety recommendations were made for the convening authority as well as other aviation-related agencies for immediate implementation.
They further disclosed that it is expected that the final report would contain the flight data recorder readout, the reviewed operator’s and service provider’s standard operating procedures as well as other detailed analyses.
While receiving the report, the CAS reiterated the main essence of activating the ‘joint investigative’ clause contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NAF and the AIB on July 1, 2020.
He said successful collaboration is a clear indication of the potency of collaboration in aircraft accident investigation, which must be encouraged.
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has blamed Almajiri system in the North for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country.
The Chairman of CAN in Imo State, Rev. Eches Divine Eches, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, ahead of the organisation’s 45th anniversary and Founder’s Day billed to hold today in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to him, banditry and kidnapping are increasing because the authorities have failed to pay more attention to the critical factors behind the widespread insecurity in the country.
Eches also expressed concern over Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s links with the bandits terrorising the North-West region and the alleged helplessness of the government to arrest and caution him for his many ‘unguarded utterances’ about their activities.
He said, “You can’t have Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities.
“They are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday they will leave the street and go to the bush where they will begin to do the trade of kidnapping.
“Also, you can’t, in any sane nation, have the likes of Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.
“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation, if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets, give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potentials.
“These bandits we find today were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging for food.
“We are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.”
On CAN’s 45th anniversary of its Founder’s Day, Eches said the programme was necessary to remember the labour of past heroes, including over 250 retired church leaders and indigent youth and women who were weak.
“They retired church leaders laboured to bring to bear what we are enjoying and working on today.
“We thought it very necessary to remember the weak among us as most of them are passing through terrible times, especially in such a time as this in our nation.
“So, we thought it very important that we will use this 45th anniversary of our Founders’ Day to celebrate such a people and remember their labours, and say to them ‘you deserve to be celebrated’ both by cash and gift,” he said.

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