Former Information Minister, Chief Edwin Clark, has told the Federal Government that members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) are not afraid of the military personnel deployed in the oil-rich region.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to count the cost of the frequent deployment of military personnel to resolve issues in the region, adding that the use of force had never achieved the desired peace in the region.
Clark, who spoke against the backdrop of massive military activities in the Niger Delta region, however, warned government officials and security forces to desist from “overzealous acts” that could create unnecessary anxiety and tension in the region.
He said the relative peace in the region was engendered by the concerted efforts of members of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and not necessarily the deployment of troops.
“One would have expected the Federal Government and the military to know that the NDA has never shown any sign of retreat or fear when, between February 2016 and August 2016, the area was over-militarised by the Operation Crocodile Smile.
“These are people who are ready to sacrifice their lives for what they believe in, which is remediation of the neglect of the region.
“It is the ordinary people, including women and children, that are the victims of this show of power by the military. For instance, school children will be too scared to go to school. The fishermen and the petty traders will either hide in their rooms or run away from their homes for safety.
“We are quite hopeful that the ceasefire will not be broken. Therefore, the actions by the military at the Bennett Island in Warri, Delta State, as reported in a newspaper last Thursday, is uncalled for.
“When the NDA gave its notice of withdrawing its ceasefire and resuming hostilities for obvious reasons, the leadership of PANDEF quickly intervened, appealing to them to maintain the status quo and went further to send emissaries of youths and former militants to the creeks to deliberate with the NDA.
“It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to use the military force to cow the people to submission. The wise thing for the Federal Government to do will be to sit down and dialogue with the people.
“What the Federal Government is doing right now is misapplication of resources. Can the Federal Government sit down and calculate how much it has cost it to deploy military to the Niger Delta area from 2002 to date?
“Can the Federal Government tell Nigerians what these figures are? And has military action brought peace?
“But for the intervention of well-meaning elders, let the Federal Government tell the Nigerian public what meaningful progress its actions have brought outside pain and humiliation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has expressed worry over the threat by the Niger Delta Avengers to resume attacks on oil facilities in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, and called on the militant group to drop the threat, and embrace dialogue in resolving their grievances.
The NGE said this in a communiqué issued at the end of the Standing Committee Meeting of the Nigerian Guild of Editors held in Katsina, Katsina State, last Thursday, and signed by its President, Funke Egbemode, and General Secretary, Victoria Ibanga.
The Guild urged the Federal Government not to resort to the use of force in resolving the matter, stressing that the use of force has never solved any problem.
“As stakeholders in the task of nation-building, the Guild is worried by the recent show of military force in the quest to neutralise the threat of the militants. This move has done little to calm the tension; instead, it has aggravated it. We urge caution and restraint,” the communiqué stated.
The Guild also urged the government to dialogue with all stakeholders, including the aggrieved militants to resolve the problems in the region, insisting that the only path to peace was dialogue.
“The Guild notes that renewed hostilities in the Niger Delta will reduce Nigeria’s daily oil output, which will in turn deny the country the benefits of the current marginal increase in the price of crude. Anything that is capable of returning Nigeria to economic recession should be avoided,” the communiqué advised.
“We seize this opportunity to appeal to traditional rulers in the region to use their offices and goodwill to call the Avengers and any other militant group in the region to order. As royal fathers and leaders of thought, we urge them to play a leading role in the resolution of any breakdown in communication between the Federal Government, oil majors and the militants. We cannot afford another bout of force majeure by oil majors on account of insecurity in the region.
“The Guild also notes the increasing crime rate in the country, especially kidnappings and communal clashes and calls on security agencies to rise to the occasion. The Guild urges the Federal Government to deploy the relevant security agencies to check the pervasiveness of these crimes,” the Nigerian Editors said.
According to the communiqué, “The widening spread and growing frequency of kidnappings and allied criminal acts do not only threaten the nation’s socio-political stability, they also rob Nigeria of income as potential investors are scared of coming into the country while in some instances, existing investors are being forced to leave the country. Either way, the nation loses.
“On the 2018 budget proposal currently before the National Assembly, the Guild is concerned about the size of the recurrent as against the capital expenditures. This trend, which is inimical to any country’s development, has continued for so long. We urge prudence and innovative budgeting in order to achieve a reversal in the nearest future.
“On the state of the media, the Guild is worried that in spite of the country exiting economic recession, the media industry is mired in distress. We recommend that stakeholders should come together to seek the way forward,” the NGE added.
Group Tasks IGP On Protection For Justices Of State Election Petitions Tribunal
The National Coalition Against Terrorism, has urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to ensure adequate protection for Justices of State Election Petitions Tribunal, as they deliver their judgments in states of the federation.
Mr Terrence Kuanum, the coalition’s National Coordinator said this at a news conference yesterday in Abuja.
Kuanum lauded the Chief Justice of the Federation for boosting the morale of the Justices to enable them deliver courageous judgments across the country.
“The country’s democracy will continue to advance if the judiciary is strengthened to continue with its just judgment as was done in Kano State,” he said.
He appealed to political leaders in states to guide their supporters against heating up the polity and to ensure strict adherence to the tenets of democracy.
“In a democratic dispensation like ours, it is believed that leaders of thoughts should be of good conscience and imbibe democratic principles, especially in the area of law and order.
“Political leaders are to guide their supporters and ensure strict adherence to the tenets of democracy.
“The recent Election Petitions Tribunal judgments across the country are a welcome development where irregularities during the 2023 general elections were challenged and some upturned while others were upheld,” he said.
Kuanum said that there was growing tension in the camp of those who lost at the tribunal, saying the development to an extent, was being curtailed by some political leaders who understood democracy and its value.
He said that most worrisome, was the threat by the Kwankwasiyya Movement in Kano State who were members of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
“However, since the tribunal judgment, the Kwankwasiyya movement is threatening the justices and judicial officers for been courageous enough to deliver just judgment.
“They have threatened to kill and make Kano worse than Zamfara.
“We all know what Zamfara is at the moment,”the coalition national coordinator said.
He added that for members of the Kwankwasiyya movement to be making open statements and raining insult on the justices on daily basis, it meant they had the protection of some individuals in the state.
“We call on the I-G to immediately arrest the leader of the Kwankwasiyya movement for proper interrogation over threat to life and peaceful co-existence in Kano State.
“We need urgent security measures to secure first, the judicial official and their residences, especially the Appeal Court Justices who reside in Kano State.
“With this imminent threat by the Kwankwassiya movement, if cautious measures are not put in place, we would be faced with another insurgent threat on our hands.
“And that will spell doom for all the efforts made by President Bola Tinubu in wooing investors into the country and pose as a threat to our nascent democracy,” he said.
Kuanum cautioned members of the group to desist from intimidating the judiciary, saying that the law was not base on sentiment but facts before it.
“Our democracy is matured enough, a reason section 65 sub section (2) of the Electoral Act provide room to seek redress at the tribunal or any court of competent jurisdiction,” he said.
The Kano State Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal had on Sept. 20 declared Dr Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the dully elected governor of the state, voiding the election of Gov. Abba Yusuf of the New Nigeria People’s Party(NNPP).
EFCC Records 3,785 Convictions In 2022
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it recorded 3,785 convictions in 2022, and that the figure represents the highest in a single year since the establishment of the commission.
The Head of the Legal and Prosecution Department of the commission in Makurdi, Mr. Ramiah Ikhanaede, disclosed this during his presentation at the workshop on Effective Reporting of Economic and Financial Crimes held in Makurdi, Benue State.
Speaking on the challenges of prosecuting economic and financial crimes in Nigeria, Mr. Ikhanaede pointed out that the commission was making progress in its fight against financial crime and would continue to sustain the tempo with the support of the media.
Ikhanaede, however, listed some of the challenges being faced by the commission while prosecuting its cases to include among others, societal and economic factors as well as lacunas in the nation’s laws.
He noted that despite the challenges “the EFCC recorded its highest convictions in 2022 with the convictions of 3,785 suspects.”
Speaking on the successes recorded in Benue, the Head of the Legal and Prosecution said the Commission recorded 107 convictions in the state since the establishment of the Zonal Command in 2019.
According to him, “In 2019, we had 16 convictions; in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, we had nine convictions; in 2022, we recorded 39, while 43 convictions have been recorded in 2023 and the year has not ended. So despite the challenges, we are actually making progress as a Commission.”
Acting Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulkarim Chukkol, in a goodwill message read by the Zonal Commander, Friday Ebelo, said the workshop was designed to upgrade the skill of Journalists to enable them effectively discharge their duties as financial crime reporters.
He said: “Today’s workshop is the ninth in the series by the Commission this year but the first outing in Makurdi Zonal Command. The decision to engage you all in a training session is buoyed by the appreciation of the fact that you occupy a strategic place in the fight against corruption.
“You are the vehicle through which the EFCC reaches the Nigerian public with information about our operations. You also play crucial roles in helping to mobilize the people to embrace the fight against corruption. This makes the media one of the most critical allies of the EFCC,” he added.
Chukkol urged the media to continue to align itself with the progressive aspirations of Nigerians, to see that corruption was reduced to the barest minimum, if not completely eliminated.
He said, “On this score, I would like the media to educate family members and friends of politicians and others holding political offices that they run the risk of going to jail if they allow their companies or bank accounts to be used to launder proceeds of illegal activities. Under the Money Laundering Act, 2022 family members and close allies of politicians and public office holders, including top civil servants, are now classified as Politically Exposed Persons, PEP.
“The EFCC is determined to ensure that anyone who steals from the public treasury and all those who assist them to do so under whatever guise, are brought to justice and ignorance of the law will not be an excuse.
“I won’t conclude this remark without reminding us of the challenge which we face with the involvement of youths in cybercrime within the zone. This development, in spite of the enforcement and enlightenment efforts of the Commission is worrisome. I therefore appeal to the media to lend a hand in helping to sensitize the youth against internet-related fraud activities. The youth must be reminded that they can productively use the resources available in cyberspace for legitimate pursuits without embracing criminality.”
Speaking on Investigative Journalism and Nigeria Fight Against Money Laundering, an Assistant Commander in the Commission, Dele Oyewale, urged the media to take the lead in the fight against economic and financial crimes through incisive investigative reports that would also help the Commission in its fight against the menace of financial crimes.
He said: “The media should also educate Nigerians on the provisions of the New Money Laundering Act which bars individuals from making payments beyond N5million in cash and firms and corporate organisations cannot also do same beyond N10million.”
Also, the Head of Advance Fee Fraud Section of the Command, Stephanie Philip, who spoke on Trends, Peculiarities and Challenges of Cybercrimes Enforcement in Nigeria, decried the rate young persons had resorted to materialism which had driven the rate of Cybercrime in the country saying “according to Interswitch, N12.2billion was lost by banks in six months of 2023 in the country. And N911billion was lost to Ponzi schemes in 23 Years in the country.”
Independence Day: FG Declares Monday Public Holiday
In commemoration of Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Day anniversary, the Federal Government has declared Monday, October 2, 2023, as a public holiday.
The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, made the declaration in Abuja yesterday, on behalf of the Federal Government, according to a statement by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade.
The minister assured Nigerians of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration’s continued commitment to tackling challenges facing the country.
“It is today a known fact that difficult socio-economic and security challenges are global, and Nigeria is not isolated.
“The government is daily making efforts to confront these varied and numerous challenges with all the might available until respite comes our way,” the statement quoted him as saying.
Tunji-Ojo said the greatness ahead of the country was achievable if all citizens worked together in unity.
“Our warm welcoming spirit and love as well as our unbounded human capital and the richness of our land makes Nigeria unarguably the leading black nation in the world being Africa’s pride and beacon of hope for the Renewed Hope of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
While wishing the citizens a memorable independence celebration, the Minister recalled that our founding fathers, despite the differences in faith, tribe and tongue, came together for Nigeria’s freedom which we enjoy today.
“The minister assured that this Administration through the Renewed Hope Agenda will ensure a better Nigeria for all citizens, as a befitting tribute to our heroes past,” the statement added.
Recall that the Federal Government had, last Wednesday, said this year’s Independence Day will not feature a ceremony at the Eagle Square, Abuja, but will be held “low-key,”.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume who disclosed this said this year’s Independence Day would be “a time for reflections…to think very deeply as a people and the journey forward.”c
Akume revealed this to State House Correspondents after he emerged from a closed-door talk with Vice President Kashim Shettima, at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja. c
The former Minister of Special Duties, who was reluctant to reveal details of the issues discussed, said it bordered on plans for the Independence Day. c
“Independence is a historic event for any country and we Nigerians are no exemptions. c
“We are fully prepared for celebrations and for obvious reasons, it is going to be low-key and we are wishing Nigerians the best of luck and I want to assure them that better days are coming and pretty soon too,” he noted. c
On the modalities of this year’s edition, Akume revealed, “This is going to be low key; we are not going on fantastic jamboree at the Eagle Square and other locations. c
“It’s a time for reflections…to think very deeply as a people. This journey is being charted by the captain of the ship.”
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