The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja, over his alleged involvement in grass-cutting contract fraud amounting to N554million.
Lawal, who was SGF under President Muhammadu Buhari between August 27, 2015, and October 30, 2017, was re-arraigned on an amended 10-count charge with six others.
The other six are: the ex-SGF’s younger brother, Hamidu Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday and two firms – Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited.
They all pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them before a new judge, Justice Charles Agbaza, who is taking over the case, following the demise of the earlier trial judge, Justice Jude Okeke, on August 4, 2020.
Justice Agbaza allowed the defendants to continue to enjoy the conditional bail earlier granted them by the former trial judge, and adjourned till January 20, 2021 for trial.
The late Justice Okeke had, on February 13, 2019, granted the defendants bail at N50million each, with one surety in like sum.
The court seized the international passports of the accused, even as it barred them from travelling out of the country without permission.
The ex-SGF was, among other things, alleged to have connived with the other defendants and illegally diverted a contract the Presidential Initiative for North-East (PINE) awarded for the removal of grasses in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps to his own company.
Army Names Abubakar Sponsor Of Terrorists
Troops of Operation Hadarin Daji have identified one Alhaji Abubakar as the financier of two terrorist collaborators arrested in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Musa Danmadami made this known at the bi-weekly news briefing on the operations of the armed forces, yesterday, in Abuja.
Danmadami said the suspects were apprehended on September 15 at Access Bank, PZ Branch in Zaria while trying to withdraw the sum of N14million deposited into the account of Abubakar.
He said the relevant agencies were working assiduously to track the said financier and others who had been fingered for terrorism financing.
The director said the military and other security agencies remained committed to apprehending all terrorism financiers and collaborators in the country.
Danmadami also said the troops conducted operational activities in villages, communities, and towns in Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina and the Kaduna states during the period and neutralized 16 terrorists.
He added that troops also arrested 10 notorious terrorists and rescued 21 kidnapped civilians at different locations in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
According to him, the air component on September 13, conducted an air interdiction operation at an identified terrorist hideout in Dutse Babare in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State.
“The air strike led to the neutralisation of a terrorist leader identified as Ibrahim Dangawo and other members of his gang.
“Similar, operation was carried out at Gidan Guga in Faskari Local Government Area also in Katsina State, at an identified terrorist enclave.
“The airstrike led to the neutralization of a terrorist kingpin known as Babaru who has been on the wanted list of security agents,” he said.
Danmadami said the troops also neutralised a large number of terrorists in an air raid at Kawari axis in Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State.
He said it was revealed that the terrorist group had been responsible for kidnapping and robbery incidents in the area.
In the North Central, Danmadami said the Commander, Operation Safe Haven, on September 10, held a joint peace summit to sensitise communities in Plateau on the need for peaceful coexistence.
He said the summit was part of the non-kinetic approach to resolving lingering security challenges in the state.
He said the air component of Operation Whirl Punch on September 8, carried out an air interdiction operation at an identified terrorist hideout at Gaude, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger, killing scores of terrorists.
“It was further revealed that all the attacks around Shiroro were orchestrated from this location and consequently, the hideout was bombarded.
“Feedback revealed that several terrorists were neutralised with others fleeing with various degrees of injuries.
“Also, two suspected gun runners en route Onitsha to Abuja were arrested by personnel of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency along Okene-Lokoja road in Kogi State.
“Items recovered from the suspects were 12 pump action guns and 374 cartridges.
“The arrested suspects and recovered items were handed over to the Nigerian Police for further action,” he said.
PDP Crisis: Wike, Makinde, Others Ditch Atiku’s Campaign Train …Insist On Ayu’s Resignation, National Chairman From South
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, his Oyo State counterpart, Engr Seyi Makinde, and other stakeholders have resolved not to participate in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign until, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, resigns as the national chairman of the party.
They emphasised that the publication of the Presidential Campaign Council list without the resolution of Ayu lingering debacle, translates to “putting the cart before the horse.”
Rising from a crucial meeting in the early hours of Wednesday in Port Harcourt, Makinde said they hope that the powers that be within the PDP would listen to the voice of reason and do the needful.
The former PDP South-West national vice chairman, Chief Olabode George, who read out the communique after the meeting, said they were concerned about the divisions in the party, and bemoaned the failure of the leadership to utilise the internal conflict resolution mechanisms to ensure inclusiveness of all and guarantee victory for the PDP.
“The published presidential campaign council list translates to putting the cart before the horse. The pertinent issue before the party remains the resolution of the Ayu leadership debacle, which is a departure from the spirit and letter of our constitution which undermines the unity of our great party.
“We, therefore, resolve that Senator Iyorchia Ayu resigns as the national chairman of the party for an acting chairman of Southern Nigeria extraction to emerge, and lead the party on the national campaign.
“Consequently, we resolve not to participate in the campaign council in whatever capacity until the resignation of Senator Iyorchia Ayu”.
In the same vein, former Plateau State Governor, Senator Jonah Jang, said the description of Sokoto State Governor, Hon Aminu Tambuwal as the PDP presidential primaries hero by Ayu, is antithetical to the principle of justice, fair play and equity on which the party was formed.
“It is true that everything is been done for us to have internal democracy in the party. But, for the national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu to go and embrace Tambuwal, calling him the hero of the convention, which means there was a private arrangement that was done with Tambuwal to short change other contestants, including Wike.
“Here was a referee who now helps one of the sides to score a goal, and then blow the whistle that a goal had been scored.
“This is not what we formed the PDP to do for Nigerians, and therefore, we unequivocally asked that Ayu has to step down, so that having got the presidential candidate from the northern part of the country through his assistance, he should as well now step down so that a national chairman can move to the south, and the party can be united for the campaign towards 2023.”
He said Wike and others call for Ayu to resign is aimed at addressing the structural imbalance in the party’s hierarchy.
On his part, former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, said if PDP cannot restructure itself, it cannot restructure Nigeria.
He insisted that as committed PDP members, they’re sincerely desirous that the PDP returns to power and provide Nigerians excellent governance.
“But that cannot be achieved unless we have a proper structure of the party as designed by the founding fathers. We are men and women who are committed to the issues of justice, fairness, equity. You cannot build on a faulty foundation.
“Therefore, this call for the chairman to step down or resign is not because any of us is aggrieved, but because we believed it is important to ensure a fair structure, a just structure, a principle structure, a constitutional structure for the party.
“If we want to restructure Nigeria, we should have the courage to restructure our party. And that is why we have met and decided that this is extremely important, and therefore we want Nigerians to know.”
Gana maintained that they will remain committed members of PDP, but will continue to insist that the right things be done.
“We remain PDP, but we want things done justly, fairly, equitably.”
Former Gombe State Governor, Dr Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who also spoke, declared that they will work for the party to the extent that fairness, equity and justice is ensured in the party.
Those who attended the meeting are Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Oyo State Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde; former governors of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose; Dr. Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo); Donald Duke (Cross River); PDP South-South National Vice Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih; former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, SAN; Senator Olaka Nwogu; Senator Lado Danmarke; Senator Mao Ohuabunwa; Senator Sandy Onor; Sulaiman Mohammed Nazif.
Others include, Rt. Hon. Chibudum Nwuche; Hon. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau; Hon. Nnenna Elendu Ukeje; Hon. Mohammed Maifada; Hon. Bayo Lawal; Mohammed Jamu; Caleb Mutwang and David Emmanuel Ombugadu.
Ariolu Calls For Diligence, Value-Oriented Service At Schools Board
Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council, Barrister George Ariolu, has called for a paradigm shift and improved reforms in the education sector to enable discipline amongst academic staff as well as enhance learning activities in the area.
He said those whose positions were to render services must show diligence in the discharge of their duties in order to add immense value to the society.
Ariolu stated this while addressing members of the Rivers State Senior Secondary Schools Board, Obio/Akpor Zone, at the Council Headquarters, Rumuodomaya.
He stressed that any service rendered which was not value-oriented, does not depict governance, adding that leaders must first be of service to God before humanity.
Acknowledging the challenges in the education sector, Ariolu explained that his primary concern was the curriculum system, which if not designed in line with the dynamics of the country, may not be sustained.
Addressing the concerns around the challenges in the sector, Ariolu highlighted the role of board members in also tackling the issues.
While advocating the cooperation of zonal board members for the advancement of education in the area, the chairman said that his administration had paid requisite attention to education through the award of grants to deserving Post Graduate students drawn from different religious and tribal backgroundswithout considering party leaning.
Emphasising the importance of education in line with his administration’s vision, he also revealed that the council was training nine persons from the wards, including non-indigenes in Charkin Maritime Academy.
He said that the training cost his administration a whopping sum of over N4.2million per person.
Ariolu re-echoed continuous support for the promotion of education in the area, and disclosed the commencement of application for the second batch of the Post Graduate grant for students in the area.
He reaffirmed his administration’s resolve in ensuring that things run smoothly in the area, adding that people need to know their rights and defend it.
He blamed poor performance of leaders in authority on the failure of the electorate to question their actions, especially when they are not carrying out their duties in line with the requirements of the Constitution.
Responding to the demands of the board members, Ariolu maintained that efficiency of workers was largely affected by the nature of work environment, adding that the council would intervene where necessary.
He, however, promised to provide a larger office space to accommodate the over 60 staff strength of the board in the area.
Speaking earlier, Zonal Director of the board, Mrs Esther Owhor Chukwu, called for an improved partnership with the local government to tackle challenges of the sector and to enhance academic activities in the area.
She also lauded Ariolu’s efforts in the development and growth of education in the area, particularly in human capital development.
Also speaking, a former Caretaker Committee Chairman and member of the board, Dr Mesua Wilson Nwibari, described Ariolu as a people-oriented chairman, who had continued to put his people first in governance.
He further eulogised the council chairman as a man with vast knowledge to lead, considering the metropolitan nature of the local government.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
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