Following the non-payment of verified Presidential Amnesty Programme contractors from November, 2019 to date, and the rumours making the round on the alleged plans by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to scrap the programme, aggrieved ex-militants in the Niger Delta region have indicated interest to join the ongoing #EndSARS protests and use the platform to ask the National Security Adviser to the President, Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd) to facilitate the payment of all contractors within 48 hours, and also give account of his stewardship on the amnesty office.
Sources said that the ex-agitators may be preparing to unleash more hardship on the economy in the coming days, should the NSA’s office fail to oblige them their requests.
Speaking on a live radio programme monitored by The Tide in Yenagoa, last Monday, leader of the Third Phase of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), ‘General’ Ebi John, lamented the pains the ex-militants in the region were going through as a result of the non-payment of contractors handling various training and empowerment schemes of the programme.
He reiterated that the most critical part of the programme was the reintegration of the ex-agitators into civil life, which according to him, would enable them have sustainable sources of livelihood in line with the amnesty deal.
John said the Amnesty Office deliberately stopped payment of verified contractors since last November, which has resulted in the suspension of the training and empowerment of the ex-agitators, adding that the action was a clear indication that the rumoured plans to scrap the PAP by the present APC-led administration was true.
“Our findings indicate that Monguno, who is the National Security Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, is the brain behind the non-functioning of the programme because of his secret agenda of eventually scrapping the Presidential Amnesty Programme”, he said.
“The United Amnesty delegates are sending a message to Monguno that his plans to further loot funds meant for the programme, coupled with his secret plot to scrap the programme are now clear to the entire Niger Delta people, particularly the ex-militants, and we will resist it with our blood as usual”, the ex-militants noted.
“The non-payment of contractors/vendors by the Amnesty Office since November, last year, is a ploy by Monguno to cleverly scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme, as beneficiaries of the programme no more undergo skills training because of the backlog of monies the office is owing contractors.
“We are calling on the Nigerian government to call Monguno to order in the next 48 hours, and prevail on him to pay all verified contractors to enable the beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme to return to their various training centres to continue with their training and empowerment schemes without further delay”, they reiterated.
“If the government fails to address this appalling situation within the next 48 hours, we shall have no other option than to go back to the creeks and take actions that will compel the Presidency to react appropriately, immediately”, they restated.
The ex-militants called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order Monguno to hand over everything that concerns the PAP office to Col Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) to enable him begin to act as the substantive coordinator of the programme, saying that their demands should, as a matter of urgency, be met within the next 48 hours or else, they would go back to the creeks where they came from.
The ex-agitators hinted that information reaching them from reliable sources has it that the new amnesty boss cannot pay anyone because his hands are tied, saying that, “Col. Dikio (rtd) does not have any control over financial matters in the office, as approvals are made by the NSA, who is the one running the office”.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Amnesty Vendors’ Forum, Mr Samson Graham, had recently hinted that the Amnesty Office allegedly stopped paying contractors since November, 2019, for inexplicable reasons, saying that the contractors cannot continue their training and empowerment schemes without funds.
The sources quoted Graham to have appealed to the Presidency to facilitate the payment of verified contractors to enable them return to the various training centres to continue their job, explaining that his forum has a large number of registered vendors from the Niger Delta region.
Efforts to reach the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col Milland Dikio proved abortive as at the time of filing this report.
Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
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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