The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in Imo, Abia and Anambra states, yesterday, shut down Owerri, Umuahia and Awka, the states’ capitals, in protest over the removal of Emeka Ihedioha by the Supreme Court and the declaration of Senator Hope Uzodinma as the duly elected governor of the state.
This is even as security operatives, including policemen and army officers took over the nooks and crannies of the states to maintain law and order.
Adorned in black attires, the PDP members in Imo paraded the state capital, calling on the apex court as well as the jurists that presided on the Tuesday’s verdict which sacked Ihedioha, to revisit their judgment.
The dissatisfied party members said that the protest would persist if the apex court refused to revisit the matter.
A member of the House of Representatives, Hon Henry Nwawuba, who spoke to journalists, said the Supreme Court jurists had murdered democracy in the state with their judgment.
Nwawuba, who represents Mbaitoli/Ikedduru Federal Constituency of Imo State, said that the apex court had done grave injustice to the people of the state.
He said, “I am a Lawmaker and I believe that the Supreme Court must redeem the Judiciary. Since the judgment was delivered, the state has become a graveyard (and) this is unlike what was happening when PDP was holding sway”.
Nwawuba, who was first elected into the House of Representatives in 2015, said that the state had become a graveside since the Supreme Court delivered the judgment.
“How the Supreme Court justices gave victory to a candidate who came fourth in an election remains a mystery to many of us. We call on them to revisit the Imo case and do justice. “
Also, the PDP Women Leader in the state, Maria Mbakwe, who burst into tears while speaking to journalists, said that women in the state are devastated with the verdict.
She said, “I have never seen this kind of injustice since over 50 years I have been in Imo State. Imo women in the market and all over the state are crying. We are begging the Supreme Court justices to revisit the matter. We know that they are human beings and they can make a mistake.”
However, the Nigeria Police Force, Imo State Command said it barricaded Owerri, the state capital, to forestall possible clash between the members of the People Democratic Party and those of the All Progressives Congress, an action which caused traffic gridlock in the state.
The police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, told our correspondent that the police were being “proactive instead of being reactive.”
Ikeokwu said that the inasmuch as the PDP had the right to embark on a peaceful protest, the police did not want them to clash with APC members.
He said, “We barricaded the town because we don’t want protesting PDP members to clash with APC members or for hoodlums to hijack the protest. We are being proactive instead of being reactive. The police do not want any bloodshed.
“The PDP members have the right under the law to protest peacefully but we do not want anybody to hijack it or threaten the peace of the state,” adding that the situation could turn worse should APC members also take to the streets.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party in Imo State, yesterday, said that the Supreme Court was destroying the country’s democracy with its Tuesday judgment which sacked Emeka Ihedioha and declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress as the duly elected governor of the state.
The PDP Publicity Secretary in the state, Damian Opara, said that the justices of the apex court had “ ridiculed and annihilated democracy “ by sacking Ihedioha from office.
Describing the judgment as “ provocative “ and at variance with the tenets of the law, the PDP spokesperson said that the jurists arbitrarily awarded votes to Uzodinma, when the APC did not win a single seat at the state’s House of Assembly when the elections held the same day.
Describing the judgment as “infamous”, the main opposition party said that it did not agree with the verdict of the Supreme Court justice as it concerned the state’s governorship debacle.
It, therefore, urged its supporting members to remain law-abiding, saying that the apex court increased the valid votes in favour of the APC.
He said “ In the wake of the infamous judgment of the Supreme Court on the Imo State gubernatorial election petition, the State Executive Council of THE State’s chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party met and thoroughly examined the atrocious judgment that removed Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as Governor and Hon. Gerrald Irona as Deputy Governor of Imo State.
“Arising from the meeting on Friday, January 17th, 2019, the party described as unbelievable, ridiculous and annihilation of democracy, the decision of the apex court to void the lawful election of its candidate, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who polled 276,404 votes and awarded victory to Sen. Hope Uzodimma of the APC, with just 96,458 votes.
“The party in the state finds it difficult to understand how the Supreme Court arrived at its verdict, even to the point that the seven panellists who sat on the petition gave a unanimous judgment.
“The party noted that It is on record that the Total Accredited Votes as declared by INEC stood at 823,743, with Total Votes cast and Total Votes cancelled amounting to 739,485 and 25, 130 respectively, while Total Valid Votes remained 714,355.
“The Supreme Court increased the Total Valid Votes to 950,952 which accounts for 127, 209 votes in excess of Total Accredited Votes of 823,743.
“The apex court unilaterally manufactured votes from 388 units where INEC rightly did not turn in results for obvious reasons such as violence and electoral malpractice and awarded the same to Senator Hope Uzodinma/APC.
“It is shocking that the Supreme Court by its judgment said that all the votes from the alleged 388 polling units were for the APC alone, in an election that was contested by over 60 candidates.
“Even where the Supreme Court awarded all extra 127, 209 accredited votes it manufactured to Senator Hope Uzodinma/APC, it was not enough to make him the winner of the March 9 election. It will be 223,657 votes, still less than Ihedioha and PDP’s votes of 276,494, with a difference of 42,747 votes.
“The party further questioned the rationale of the Supreme Court in declaring Senator Uzodinma winner of a gubernatorial election that simultaneously held with that of the State Assembly [both having one accreditation] in which the APC did not win any of the 27 available seats in the Imo State House of Assembly whereas PDP won 13, AA won 8, and APGA won 6.
“The PDP Imo State Chapter, therefore, resolved that it does not agree with the judgment, as it is unfair, unjust and provocative.
“However, the Party advised her teeming supporters to remain law-abiding in the face of this adversity and extreme provocation.
“The Party in the state also urged its members to be united, resilient and be more committed to the party in this trying moment.”
Similarly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abia State chapter, has asked the Supreme Court to reverse its January 14, 2020 judgment which sacked Emeka Ihedioha from office and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma, as the elected governor of Imo state.
The party described the Judgment as an attempt to destroy democracy, stressing that it believes that the Supreme Court can reverse the erroneous verdict for the sake of posterity.
The Chairman of Abia PDP, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, who stated this while addressing PDP faithful during a protest march over the judgment, in Umuahia, yesterday, explained that the PDP national office had mandated state chapters of the party to organise demonstrations to register their disgust at the pronouncement of the apex court.
The party faithful, who marched through Ikot Ekpene, School and Bende roads to the PDP secretariat at St. Finbarrs Road, also displayed placards which read; “We cherish democracy passionately, Judiciary, please don’t truncate it”. “Can a government that doesn’t obey the rule of law allow justice to thrive?”, “Judiciary, stop being cowed by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, “President Buhari, leave judiciary alone”, amongst others.
Onuigbo told journalists that the Supreme Court appeared to have acted under pressure which was why they postponed the initial judgment from 13th to 14th January.
In the same vein, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, yesterday, protested the judgment of the Supreme Court of January 14th, which sacked it’s candidate for the 2019 Imo Governorship election, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha for Senator Hope Uzodinma of All Progressives Congress (APC).
Members of the party in their thousands who thronged the Anambra State Judiciary complex, led by the state chairman, Mr Ndubuisi Nwobu, called President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly wade in, while also urging the judges of the Supreme Court to reverse themselves, describing the judgment as a travesty of Justice.
Nwobu, who addressed journalists at the complex said, “We request that the Judiciary should act as an independent arm of government.
“PDP in Anambra wish to state clearly their unreserved rejection of the Supreme Court Judgment delivered on January 14, 2020 with respect to the Governorship election of Imo State.
“They want to foist Hope Uzodinma on the people of Imo State. There is no way a panel of seven judges, no matter how erudite can sit and decide the fate of the entire Imo people, after the people have made their choice.
“There have been instances where the Supreme Court reversed itself, so we are calling to question that judgment and asking the judges to accept their mistakes and remedy it urgently. That is what we urge the Supreme Court to do and not to ever make such a mistake,” Nwobu said.
Also, the former governorship candidate of the party in the state in 2017, Mr Oseloka Obaze speaking on the court being the Apex court in the land said the judges are not infallible, and should be able to accept their mistakes.
“The only thing that is impossible is to live forever. The judges that passed this judgment are not infallible and the things (judgment) they did is not right and they must find the courage to reverse themselves.”
Members of the party who dressed in all black and numbering over 3,000 carried placards with different inscriptions against the Supreme Court to protest the recent judgment.
Meanwhile, the National Secretariat of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has directed its chapters across the country to begin a nationwide protest, today, against the judgment of the Supreme Court in the specific case between Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha and Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A notice by the party, last Friday, directed all stakeholders to commence the protest from 7am in all the states, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
In the same vein, the former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha has said the Supreme Court judgment nullifying his election has placed the nation’s democracy on trial.
Ihedioha stated this, last Saturday, while playing host to the National Working Committee (NWC), of the Peoples Democratic Party, which paid him a solidarity visit in his Abuja residence.
Decked in light green attire with a trademark green cap to match, Ihedioha was full of life and betrayed no sign of anyone battling psychological pain.
Addressing newsmen, the former House of Representatives deputy speaker said the event of last week has thrown up more questions than answers, noting that in the fullness of time, truth would win.
He said: “I believe that that event will define obviously our democracy. I am certain that the judiciary and electoral system are well aware that they are on trial.
“We are as shocked as yourselves; it (judgment) was never anticipated. All legal pundits and democratic watchers never imagined and anticipated it, so for us, it remains a mystery. But we take solace in the Book of Ecclesiastics 3:1 that to everything, there is a season and time for every purpose under heaven.
“And what is fundamental about this is that the facts of the matter as relates to Imo State governorship election is that the foundation of our democratic processes, the elections in Imo were closely monitored, well advertised and everybody in Nigeria followed it through. The results were very clear, the electoral umpire still have the results, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has stated clearly that the results in question and the figures are not summing up.
“It is not about Emeka Ihedioha, it is not about Imo state. It is about the future of our country and democracy. It’s about what do we do tomorrow. Do you go into an electoral process without having an idea?
“It has to be resolved one way or the other. I am calm and we are calm, and that is why you see in Imo, there is calmness. The calmness is coming out of shock; it is coming out of belief. It is coming out of the fact that people are saying let us still see, can this be possible? We are waiting for answers and I believe there will be answers”.
And despite the loss of the plum seat, Ihedioha said his faith in God remains strong and unwavering.
“We are faithful believers in God and God does not sleep. This will make history in many ways and so this is a historical process, historical action, and I am sure there will be historical answers at the end of the day”, he added.
He chided those who have rolled out the drums in celebration, saying, “this is not the time to celebrate, I pity anyone who is celebrating that sad event. If anyone is celebrating, that person is not a student of democracy.”
Earlier in his remarks, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, charged eminent Nigerians to speak up on the Imo Supreme Court judgement, saying what happened was too dangerous for silence.
“Very eminent people are not speaking out. Today, it is at the door of Imo, tomorrow it will be at the door of another person. So, people must speak out. The truth is what we are seeking,” Secondus added.
Southern Govs Back Wike, Insist On VAT Collection …A’Court Urges Rivers To Submit Written Application For Receiver
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.
Okonjo-Iweala Makes ‘TIME 100’
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.
Relocation Of Insurgents, Wake-Up Call, CAN Warns
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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