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Service Chiefs, Ambassador-Nominees Top Agenda As Senate Resumes, ‘Morrow

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After 48 days at home following the Christmas and New Year holidays, the Senate would resume tomorrow to face the challenges of legislating for the country and ensuring that good governance is in place.
In line with the Senate Legislative Calendar, the Senate adjourned December 22, 2020, and proceeded for Christmas and New Year holidays after passing the 2021 budget into law, just as it was to resume plenary January 26, 2021.
Preparatory for the resumption, the National Assembly came up with a statement, postponing the resumption of its plenary sessions to Tuesday, February 9, 2021.
The notice of postponement was contained in a statement issued by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Amos Olatunde.
According to him, the development was due to the membership registration and revalidation exercise of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which commenced on Monday, January 25.
As the Senator Ahmad Lawan-led Ninth Senate resumes, there are various issues, especially the unfinished jobs and new ones that must be accomplished.
During the holiday, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the Senate, seeking for the screening and subsequent confirmation of the newly appointed service chiefs.
Buhari, in a letter to the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, dated January 27, 2021, said that the screening was being sought in furtherance of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act Cap. A. 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
As the Senate resumes, its various Committees on Army, Navy, Air Force and National Security and Intelligence would be saddled with the responsibility of screening and to subsequently forward to the senators for confirmation of the names of the new service chiefs.
President upon nomination for appointment sought confirmation of the Senate for the appointment of Maj-Gen Lucky Irabor, Maj-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo, and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao as Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff, respectively.
This was done in furtherance of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act Cap. A. 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
In a statement in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters, Senator Babajide Omoworare, he said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has communicated the appointment of the service chiefs to the National Assembly and has sought for the confirmation of the said appointment by the Senate through his letter to the Senate President dated January 27, 2021.
“When hopefully Mr. President’s communication for consideration and confirmation of the nomination for appointment of the service chiefs would be undertaken.
“Before this administration, confirmation of service chiefs were not sought and obtained from the National Assembly in consonance with the provisions of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act Cap. A. 20 LFN. We are aware that in Keyamo Vs. President & Ors, the Federal High Court set aside the Armed Forces Modification Order 2008 (purportedly made under Section 315 [2) of the Constitution) on July 1, 2013, and ruled that the confirmation of the National Assembly must be sought for the appointment of the service chiefs. We are in compliance with the spirit and letters of both the statute and case law.”
One other major assignment that must be accomplished before the very eyes of the senators upon resumption is the confirmation of the names of the immediate past service chiefs and the Chief of Defence Intelligence sent by President Buhari to the Senate as non-career ambassadorial nominees.
With this development and upon resumption of the National Assembly, tomorrow, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, would read the President’s letter on the floor of the Senate, and thereafter, the names coming up as Executive Communication on Wednesday by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, All Progressives Congress (APC), Kebbi North, the President of the Senate will then refer the names to Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa, APC, Bauchi North-led Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for screening, then report back at plenary for confirmation.
In a letter to President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, the President said, “In accordance with Section 171 (1), (2) (c) & Sub-Section (4) of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, I have the honour to forward for confirmation by the Senate, the under-listed five names of nominees as non-career ambassadors-designate.”
According to the statement, “The nominees are: Gen Abayomi G. Olonisakin (rtd ), Lt-Gen Tukur Y. Buratai (rtd), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (rtd), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (rtd), and Air Vice Marshal Mohammed S. Usman (rtd).
It would be recalled that President Buhari had on January 26, accepted the resignation of the former service chiefs and nominated new ones to take over.
As the Senate resumes plenary, tomorrow, another issue that would top the agenda is the elongation of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu by President Buhari.
He was billed to retire from service on Monday, February 1, 2021, but his tenure was extended by three months.
The Senate would look at the legality of the action of the President as the issue when it comes up may be stormy as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senate Caucus may form an opposition against the elongation, but at the end of the day, the minority will have its say while the majority will have its way.
Another issue is the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) against the backdrop that the President of the Senate, had assured that as Nigeria begins a New Year, 2021, the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill 2020 (SB) 510 will be passed by the end of the first quarter of the year.
Lawan, who spoke at a two-day public hearing on the PIB at the National Assembly, said any further delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would cost more colossal losses to Nigeria’s economy.
He had said, “topmost on the priority list are the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which we need, to boost activities in our oil and gas sector. The PIB has defied passage for about two decades but we are determined this time around to break that jinx and pass the Bill by the end of the first quarter of the New Year.”
The lingering PIB was sent for the first time to the National Assembly in December of 2008 by the late Umaru Yar’Adua as the then President of Nigeria.

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NDLEA Arrests Doctor, Ex-Soldier For Dealing In Drugged Cookies, Cocaine

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The operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have arrested a medical doctor, Jane Chioma Ofoma, in Auchi, Edo, for selling drugged cookies and biscuits.
Its Director, Media and Advocacy, Mr Femi Babafemi, said in a statement yesterday in Abuja, that Chioma sold the drugged cookies and biscuits through an online catering service, Omachi’s kitchen.
Babafemi said the arrest followed intelligence and surveillance where narcotic officers of the Edo Command of the agency on Saturday June 19, stormed her operational base at 1 Winners Way, Auchi.
This, he said, led to her arrest and at least 94 pieces of cookies produced with cannabis sativa were recovered from the suspect.
According to him, Chioma, 26, who is a graduate of medicine from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, recently completed her housemanship at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital.
“She has confessed to baking the cookies with skunk in her statement while under interrogation,” he said.
In the same vein, Babafemi said a 30-year-old Emmanuel Ehiramhen, of No. 10 Egan Street Ekpoma, has been arrested by officers of the Edo Command of the agency for dealing in crack cocaine.
Meanwhile, NDLEA operatives in Kwara have arrested a 52-year-old ex-Soldier, Ibrahim Musa, with 12.167 kilograms of Arizona (cannabis sativa), 4 grams of Cocaine and 25 grams of flunitrazepam.
Babafemi said the suspect was apprehended on Thursday June 17, at Oke-Odo, Tanke area of Ilorin, when he arrived from Lagos to supply his customers.
He said Musa worked in the maintenance department at Abati Army Barracks, Lagos from where he was deployed to 117 Battalion in Chibok, Borno, before he deserted the Army.
He added that the suspect had arrived Ilorin with his wife, Basirat Musa, in his Honda Accord car with registration number JJ 707 BL Lagos with the seized exhibit.
He was, however, arrested at the point of delivery by operatives of the Kwara Command of the agency.
“Under interrogation, Ibrahim revealed that while at Chibok he got the connection of a supplier of Arizona (Cannabis) and other drugs in Lagos who he immediately contacted when he deserted the Army in October 2020.
“He said he decided to go into the illicit drug business to enable him fend for his two wives and three children.
“The suspect revealed that the latest journey was his second trip to Ilorin to deliver the drugs and decided to travel with one of his wives who was not aware of his mission to Ilorin,” he said.
Babafemi quoted the Chairman, NDLEA, retired Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa as commending the Edo and Kwara Commands of the agency for their vigilance and commitment to the goal of ridding Nigeria of the menace of illicit drug trafficking and abuse.
He charged the Commanders, officers and men of the two Commands and their counterparts across the country not to relent in the discharge of their responsibilities.
He assured them of his commitment towards making their welfare a priority.

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13 Vehicles Burnt In Tanker Explosion On Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

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The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) says six tankers, five trucks and two cars were destroyed in a tanker explosion at Ogere on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway yesterday.
Earlier, FRSC Sector Commander in Ogun, Mr Ahmed Umar, confirmed the incident to The Tide source, saying that it occurred at about 6.20 a.m.
Umar had said the explosion occurred in front of Romona trailer park on the expressway.
Giving update, he said, “the fire is serious, six tankers, five trucks and two cars are burnt in the explosion.’’
Umar said that one person had so far been rescued and taken to a private hospital in Ogere.
Meanwhile, the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE), has advised motorists plying the road to use alternative routes.
TRACE spokesman, Mr Babatunde Akinbiyi explained that the tanker which was laden with fuel suddenly burst into flames affecting other vehicles.
“Vehicles moving inbound Lagos should go through Saapade-Ode/Remo-Iperu-Sagamu to relink Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“In addition, vehicles moving inbound Ibadan should also go through Sagamu-Iperu-Ode/Remo-Saapade to relink Lagos-Ibadan Expressway,’’ Akinbiyi said.
The incident was the fifth of such tragedies involving fuel tankers in the Lagos and Ogun State axis since the beginning of the year.
A similar fuel tanker-related fire was recorded on Jan. 7 on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.
On March 21, a fuel tanker was the cause of fire on Otedola Bridge, also on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in which many vehicles were burnt.
On March 25, a diesel-laden tanker went up in flames at the Ikotun area of Lagos, leading to the incineration of other vehicles and shops.
On June 17, fire from the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant at the Ogun State Property Investments Corporation (OPIC) Plaza in Lagos trailed a leaking gas truck which was on motion in the area.
This resulted in a fire snowball which engulfed many other vehicles and property.
Twenty-five cars were destroyed in the OPIC Plaza inferno, while 13 persons, mostly workers in the restaurant, sustained burn injuries.

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S’ East Leaders Denounce Secessionist Groups …Seek Protection Of Igbos

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Leaders of the South East geo-political zone have urged leaders of other geo-political zones in the country to protect Igbos living in their regions, even as they condemned in totality the activities of violent secessionist groups in the zone and elsewhere. 
The lgbo leaders comprising the governors of the five states, members of the National Assembly, Ministers, Speakers of the State Houses of Assembly, the Clergy and Traditional Rulers, made their feelings known on Saturday, in a communique issued when they rose from a closed-door meeting at the Government House, Enugu. 
Explaining that they made the request in view of what they described as “threats by some groups against our people”, the South East leaders promised to protect everyone, including Igbos and people from other regions, residing in the zone.
On the impression that South East leaders are silent over agitations for secession by some youths of the region, they stated that “is not correct”, stressing that “South East Governors, Ohaneze President, National Assembly members, notable leaders had come out publicly many times in the past to speak against such agitations”.
Proclaiming firmly that “we do not support them, they do not speak for South East”,  the communiqué read by the Governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum, Engr. David Umahi, made it clear that the leaders of the zone reiterated their “commitment to one united Nigeria under a platform of justice, equality of rights, fairness, love and respect for one another”.
The communiqué revealed that South East leaders, in order not to mismanage the unfortunate situation, “have set up a committee to engage such youths to stop and allow elders speak to address such fears”. 
It added that South East leaders also condemned the killing of security agents, burning of strategic infrastructure and killing of civilians in South East and in other regions, and requested the security agencies to discharge their duties within the rules of engagement and the law
They, however, explained that the meeting was held “for articulation of our positions and further meet with the Presidential team”, sequel to the earlier meeting with the Presidential delegation, led by the Minister of Defence, Retired Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi, on June 11, 2021.
The communiqué disclosed that the meeting consequently “set up committees under Ohaneze Ndigbo to articulate and address our positions on all burning issues to further meet among ourselves and thereafter meet with the Presidential team”.
On the safety of the Igbo indigenes in other parts of the country and the newly established regional security outfit, the communiqué added that the “meeting directed our Governors and Ohaneze Ndigbo to liaise with indigenes from the northern part of Nigeria and indigenes of other regions to assure the nation, Nigeria, and their people of their safety in South East.
“The meeting endorsed our South East joint security outfit – Ebubeagu and asked them to work with security agencies and to respect the rights and privileges of all those living in the South East and our visitors”.

By: Canice Amadi, Enugu

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