Tag Archives: abdullahi

Hate speech bill: Nigeria deserves nothing less – Senator Sabi ..

Senator Sabi Abdullahi says there is no better time to have an anti-hate speech bill in Nigeria than now.

Reacting to rumours that the Hate Speech bill has been set aside due to the controversy it generated late 2019, Abdullahi, who sponsored the bill, disclosed that it is still alive.

The Niger State lawmaker expressed optimism that the bill will gain more support in days to come.

He noted that the death sentence penalty would be relaxed.

“Because the baby is dirty, we can’t say the baby should be thrown away with the bathwater,” Abdullahi told journalists at the Villa on Tuesday, January 28, 2020.

“The death penalty was the main issue. I will ensure that the death penalty is put away from the bill.

“But Nigeria deserves to have a hate speech bill. There is so much hate speech in Nigeria. “

Abdullahi expressed fears that of there is no law to regulate hate speech, Nigeria runs the risk of becoming the next Rwanda.

The lawmaker who lamented the inciting speeches being made in Nigeria, added that they are capable of igniting religious, ethnic or communal crises.

Senator Sabi Abdullahi

“About 80-90 per cent of crises were incited through hate speech, be they religious, ethnic or communal crises,” he said.

The bill passed first reading on the floor of the Senate on November 12, 2019 amid criticisms.


Kogi governor returns for second term..

Today’s inauguration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as governor of Kogi State crowns activities to herald the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government in the “Confluence State” after the incumbent was re-elected in the keenly contested November 16, 2019 governorship election.

Bello is returning to power for a second term, following his defeat the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Engr. Musa Wada in the election that served as a test of might for the ruling APC and main opposition PDP after the 2019 general election. Bello polled a total of 406,222 votes against Wada’s 189,704 votes. Natasha Akpoti of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) came a distant third with a score of 9,482 votes.

The APC candidate won in 12 of the 21 local governments of Kogi State – Lokoja, Ibaji, Adavi, Okehi, Okene, Kabba Bunu, Ogori Magongo, Koton Karfi, Mopa Muro, Ajaokuta and Olamaboro, while his PDP counterpart won in Omala , Igalamela, Yagba East, Yagba West, Idah, Dekina, Bassa, Ofu and Ankpa local governments.

Bello had earlier secured his party’s ticket after polling 3,091 votes from 3,596 delegates, who participated in APC’s indirect primary election on August 29, 2019. Those he routed to clinch the party’s ticket are Hadiza Ibrahim (zero), Yahaya Audu (10), Sani Abdullahi (seven), Abubakar Bashir (three), Danlami Mohammed (zero), Yakubu Mohammed (zero), Ikele Aisha (zero), Hassan Abdullahi (44) and Babatunde Irukera (109).

However, the election that returned Bello and APC to power in Kogi State was largely marred by violence and ballot box snatching, which prompted election observers to call for the cancellation of the exercise as according to them, the outcome did not reflect the wishes of the people.

Journey to Lugard House

Popularly called Fair Plus, Bello’s journey to the Kogi State government house was by fate. He made history on January 27, 2015 as the first person from a minority ethnic group of the state to occupy the historic Lugard House. He is Ebira of Kogi Central Senatorial District.

Before then, the Igala people of Kogi East Senatorial Zone have had enough of power, having ruled the state since it was created in 1991. Kogi State comprises the people of Kabba province of Okun and Ebira; Igala and Bassa speaking parts of old Benue State. The Igala and Bassa formed the Eastern Senatorial District; Ebira and Ogori-Magongo formed the Central Senatorial District, while the Okuns, Kotos and Hausa-speaking part of Lokoja formed the Western Senatorial District.

There is a claim of an agreement reached by elders and political stakeholders in the state in 1991 on a power sharing formula that will see the governorship rotating among the three senatorial zones, but the Igala, who constitute about 45 per cent of the total population of the state held on to power for more than two decades.

However, Bello’s emergence as governor for the first term would not have been possible if not for the demise of his party’s (APC) candidate in the November 21, 2015 governorship election in the state – Prince Abubakar Audu.

The former two-time governor of the state (1992-1993 and 1999-2003) was coasting to victory when he passed on. This unfortunate incident almost triggered a constitutional crisis as the 1999 Constitution (as amended) did not envisage such situation.

The impasse over the incident was however resolved, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) directed the APC to nominate another candidate as Audu’s substitution for the December 5, 2015 supplementary poll in the 91 polling units, where elections were cancelled.

The electoral body had declared the election inconclusive midway during collation and announcement of results, following the cancellation of results in the affected polling units due to incidences of violence, ballot boxes snatching, over voting, among others.

Late Audu was at the time leading his closest rival and then incumbent governor, Capt. Idris Wada by 41,000 votes, whereas the total number of registered voters in the 91 polling units was 49,953, a figure, the commission explained was higher than the margin between the top contenders.

The window to substitute Audu, rather than serve as a relief to the APC, sparked off another round of crisis as the deputy governorship candidate, Hon. James Faleke wrote to INEC that he should be declared winner on the ground that the supplementary poll was needless as the number of eligible voters in the affected areas stood at 25, 000 and so will not make any impact in the overall result.

The PDP, on its part, urged the electoral body to declare its candidate –Wada, winner of the election as the votes garnered by Audu were not transferable. The party further argued that Audu’s votes died with him.

INEC, however, insisted on going ahead with the supplementary poll and the APC was left with no other option than to nominate the first runner up in its governorship primary election (Bello) as Audu’s substitution.

But the Audu/Faleke Campaign Organisation, which rejected his candidature, insisted on taking over the party’s candidacy. It argued that Bello did not participate in the campaign processes and therefore, Faleke will pull out of the race, leaving it vulnerable to be challenged in a court of law by the opposition parties. Faleke also vowed to challenge the party’s decision in court.

On its part, the Kogi State PDP said the result of the election was unacceptable to it and cannot stand the test of time. The party insisted that the death of Audu on November 22, while collation was ongoing, made it inevitable for the electoral commission to declare its candidate (Wada) winner of the poll.

Both camps later filed suits to stop Bello from participating in the supplementary poll before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. While Faleke prayed the court to compel INEC to declare him the winner of the inconclusive poll, Wada of the PDP urged it to compel INEC to declare him winner of the election on the ground that he is the only surviving candidate in the election who scored the second highest votes after the deceased candidate of the APC.

Three other additional suits were also filed on the matter. Emanuel Daiko, who claimed that he contested the election as a candidate of the People for Democratic Change (PDC), urged the court to among others declare the supplementary election as illegal, prevent APC from substituting Audu and to prevent the party from participating in the election on the ground that it no longer has a candidate.

In the fourth suit filed by a member of the House of Representatives then, Raphael Igbokwe (Imo State) and Stephen Wada Omaye, the plaintiffs joined INEC and APC as defendants. They asked the court to annul the November 21 election and conduct a fresh one.

The fifth suit was filed by one Johnson Jacob Usman, an indigene of Kogi State and a registered voter as well as a lawyer. Usman joined the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and INEC as defendants in the suit. He asked the court to compel INEC to suspend all actions in relation to the election, pending the determination of the suit and a declaration that the election ought to be cancelled.

But the court, presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, after listening to the arguments of the various parties, struck out all the cases instituted before it. In his judgement on the consolidated four cases, Justice Kolawole said the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain all the reliefs sought by the various parties.

According to him, passing judgement on the reliefs would amount to usurping the powers of the governorship election tribunal that would be constituted by the President of the Court of Appeal after the supplementary election has been held.

As expected, Bello was declared winner of the governorship election after the supplementary poll. His party (APC) garnered 6,885 votes to bring its total votes to 247,752, having polled 240,857 in the first round of voting. The PDP candidate (Wada) scored 5,363 to take his total votes to 204, 877 votes. He had earlier garnered 199, 514 votes.

Despite INEC’s declaration of Bello as Governor-elect, the Audu/Faleke campaign organization described the supplementary election that produced him as “unnecessary and a complete waste of tax payers’ money’’ and headed for the tribunal to challenge it.

Faleke, in a petition he filed before the Kogi State Election Petitions Tribunal, insisted that the election had already been won and lost before the supplementary poll, praying the tribunal to declare him winner.

Wada also challenged the outcome of the election and return of Bello, joining APC and INEC as respondents. Wada, who also prayed the court to declare him winner of the election, also urged the tribunal to stop Bello’s inauguration.

But ruling on the suits, the tribunal’s chairman, Justice Halima Mohammed, said that though the tribunal had jurisdiction to hear the case contrary to insinuations, the prayers were not contained in the original petitions as it was merely a motion on notice. She explained that if the tribunal grants the motions, it will definitely affect the life of the original case before tribunal.

With the court clearing the coast, Bello mounted the stage, perhaps, as the youngest elected governor in Nigeria’s political history. He was 40 years old then.

First term promises and catalogue of crisis

It was message of hope in 2015, when Bello first mounted the saddle as governor of Kogi State. He then promised the people of taking the state to the next level. “By the grace of God I would have no reason not to perform excellently. After four years, Kogi State will never be the same again. Expectations are high, and we know there are challenges out there, but we are going to move in aggressively to ensure we do well,” he said.

Among his strategies was reorganization of the state civil service to make it more efficient and productive. He has also promised to ensure massive industrialization to create employment for the teeming populace in the state as well to harness the mineral potentials across Kogi to significantly improve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state and its economy.

The accountant-turned-politician had then identified solid minerals, agriculture and tourism as key economic drivers that can take the state to the next level, and pledged to liaise with the Federal Government to realize the potentials of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Itakpe Iron Ore Company.

But, the belief of most indigenes of state, who have suffered the impact of poor governance for years, was that it was unfulfilled dream after Bello’s first term in office. Many even went to extreme by saying that Kogi State, under Bello became a study in leadership failure given the catalogue of crisis the marred the era.

The crisis started barely a month after Bello’s administration was inaugurated, when five out of the 20 members of the state House of Assembly impeached the then speaker, Hon. Jimoh Momoh-Lawal.

Following the impeachment, crisis erupted in the House thereby compelling Hon. Sunday Steve Karimi to sponsor a motion on the floor of the House of Representatives on February 23, 2016. The motion was unanimously adopted with a 10-man committee headed by then deputy chief whip, Hon. Pally Iriase, to investigate the matter.

The committee subsequently visited Lokoja, the Kogi State capital and met with the governor, members of the state Assembly and heads of the relevant security agencies in the state. After the meeting, the committee found out that the House of Assembly had not performed its legislative functions since the suspension of plenary on February 15, 2016, as none of the factions held any sitting in the hallowed chambers of the State House of Assembly.

It also found out that there was an understanding to change the leadership of the Assembly in order to comply with Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to avoid lopsidedness in the distribution of power between the major tribes in the state since Bello and Lawal are coincidentally from the same local government area.

While Bello maintained then that he had no hand in the Assembly crisis as he never tried to influence the decision of the House given that he was then new in office and does not have any prior relationship with the legislators other than to work for the good of the entire state in line with his oath of office, Jimoh-Lawal’s group accused him of a subtle plot to install his choice candidate, Hon. Umar Imam as speaker.

The suspicion was later confirmed, when Imam emerged as speaker of the Assembly on July 26, 2016, following Jimoh-Lawal’s resignation. Many had thought that the crisis would be over given that the governor had his way, but that was not to be as Imam equally bowed out like his predecessor on August 3, 2017 after another round of crisis. In his stead, Mathew Kolawole, the member representing Kaba/Bunu state constituency was elected as speaker.

Besides the state Assembly crisis, Bello also had a long running battle with the then lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye. Interestingly, both were allies before they suddenly fell apart.

Melaye had stood behind Bello from the period of the supplementary election that brought him to power to his inauguration. But trouble started when the senator, alongside some stakeholders in Kogi State APC gathered in Abuja to pass a vote of no confidence on Bello on his administration’s one year anniversary.

Expectedly, the governor fired back and accused the lawmaker of hurling unbridled attacks at him. He also accused Melaye of waging a “selfish and egocentric” war. From then, it was an unending ego battle between the duo, with both actors deploying conventional and unconventional tactics to outwit each other.

There was also a running battle between Bello and the state’s civil servants as well as the various labour unions, following a workers’ verification exercise embarked upon by the state government. While the exercise revealed thousands of ghost workers on the state’s payroll, it equally caused untold hardships and pains to many workers, with some being owed backlog of salaries running into months.

In all these, Bello persistently admonished those he described as detractors to allow his government to focus on its goal of a better Kogi for its citizens, but analysts kept reminding him that the deterioration of any administration begins with the decay of the principle on which it was founded, and that he should be mindful of his actions as power belongs to the people.

Echoes of that counsel reverberated, when Bello declared his intention to seek reelection for a second term. The governor said his declaration came after consultations with the leadership of his party both at the national and state levels and pressure from the people of the state on him to seek re-election.

Bello said of his ambition: “I would like to inform the good people of the state, the APC family and supporters from the state, the local government areas down to the wards and polling units, as well as various stakeholders, opinion molders, families and friends of my interest to run for a second term in office as the executive governor of the state. “I have sought the blessing of the Almighty God and our good people; I will have to contest for the second term, so that we can build on our modest achievements so far in the state by taking it to the next level.” The impeachment of Bello’s deputy, Simon Achuba, on October 18, 2019, capped the catalogue of crisis.

Achuba’s impeachment followed the submission of a report of the committee set up by the State Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajana, to investigate an allegation of gross misconduct against him.

The then deputy governor had raised the alarm of an alleged threat to his life and accused his principal of intolerance of contrary views. He also criticized the administration for non-performance, claiming that it was the reason for the rift between him and Bello. With Achuba out of the way, Bello nominated his then Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja, who was consequently screened and cleared by the state Assembly as deputy governor.

Onoja later became running mate to Bello for the November 16, 2019 governorship and both would be inaugurated today as deputy governor and governor, respectively. Second term triumph despite stiff opposition No doubt, it was Bello’s constitutional right to aspire for a second term as governor of Kogi State, but the belief in some quarters then that it was unfulfilled dreams during his first four years in power, boosted PDP’s bid to return to power in the Confluence State.

This, perhaps, explained the tension that trailed the November 16, 2019 poll.

In what seemed a replay of the 2015 contest, Bello’s main opponent – Wada, from the majority Igala ethnic stock of the state – has close links to two former governors of the state.

He is ex-Governor Wada’s sibling and an in-law to former Governor Ibrahim Idris. Interestingly, the younger Wada trounced his brother – ex-Governor Wada and his brother in-law – Abubakar Ibrahim – in the PDP primary election, but he failed to turn the table against Bello in the main election. Bello, who dedicated his second term victory to his mother, Hajia Hawawu Bello and the people of Kogi State, averred in his victory speech that his re-election election has broken ethnic jinx as well as class and age differences in the state.

His words: “I appreciate my mother, Hajia Hawawu Bello. As a matter of fact, I dedicate this victory to her. I sincerely appreciate the good people of Kogi State from all the length and breadth of the state, starting from Kogi East to Kogi West and Kogi Central. You are the winners of this particular election. “We are making this feat and we have decided to break the jinx; the jinx of ethnicity, class differences and age differences. In diversity lies our strength. With the renewal of our mandate to serve for another four years, I reiterate the promise of our first time, which is to make all citizens of Kogi State benefit from the entirety of our resources. May the Almighty God protect, guide and direct us toward the part of righteousness, good governance and development.”

Not yet Uhuru for Bello The battle in Kogi over the governorship is however not yet over even as Bello takes oath office for a second term today. Wada, who alleged foul play and headed to the tribunal after the poll, is challenging the election’s outcome on the ground that INEC and the police worked in favour of the APC. To the PDP candidate, the election was a coup against the people of the state.

“It is clear to all that there was no election on Saturday, November 16, 2019, but a declaration and execution of war against the people. What happened in Kogi was an organised war against democracy; coup against the people and seizure of power through brigandage and the barrel of the gun with members of the police and other security agencies coordinating the stealing of people’s votes,” he said. Wada accused the police of aiding armed APC thugs to invade polling units with impunity, shoot and kill voters and carted away ballot boxes to government facilities, where results were allegedly written in favour of APC and handed over to INEC to announce against the will of the people.

His words: “Police helicopters were used to attack polling units, fire tear gas on voters and provided cover to APC hoodlums and policemen who brutalised the people of Kogi State and stole their mandate.

The APC turned our state into a theatre of war. No fewer than nine innocent Nigerians were killed. Many more were maimed and injured by the APC in their desperation to seize power at all cost. It is therefore distressing that INEC went ahead with a shameful collation and declaration of fabricated results despite the glaring disruptions that characterised the shambolic exercise.”

The PDP candidate further accused INEC of cancelling votes cast for him in his party’s strongholds and subtracting from PDP votes in many other areas, while padding the votes of the APC to give a semblance of victory to Bello. “We therefore stand with the people of Kogi State without equivocation that this brigandage and stealing of our mandate cannot stand.

We will never despair but remain strong in our determination to retrieve the mandate freely given to us by the people in their desire for a change. We will pursue this course to its logical conclusion within the confines of the law of this country,” he added. The allegations, notwithstanding, Bello, who seems unperturbed over the suit challenging his election, said he is ready to meet any of his opponents in court. He said: “I told you sometimes back that the issue of winning the election was not in question, but the margin with which I will defeat my opponent, and that he will have no reason whatsoever to go to the tribunal.

However, going to the tribunal is their right and if they so wish, we will meet in court. “But I want to use this opportunity to call on all those that contested the election with me starting from the primaries of our party to the main election, all other political parties to please join me in this next level, so that we can together do more for Kogi State.

“We have a lot of task ahead of us, the journey has just begun; I need the cooperation and understanding of every citizen and resident of Kogi State to join hands with me, so that we can do more for the state.”

Second term expectations Political analysts are of the view that Bello would have learnt some lessons from his first term and therefore suggested that he should this time around involve technocrats in government for them to proffer policies that will impact positively on the people of Kogi State. It also the opinion of many that although the issue of state workers’ salaries is been addressed, there is the need to the state government to also accord priority to the plight of pensioners, teachers and local government workers. Equally expected by Bello in his second term, is the issue of local government elections.

Council elections were not held in the state all through the governor’s first term, but it is the hope of many that will dissolve the present unelected administrations at the 21 local government areas in the state to pave the way for elections. The governor is also expected to look into his pattern of appointments by carrying along leaders across political divides. More importantly, it is hoped that the governor, upon taking the oath of office, will hit the ground running in order to basic infrastructure, create job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the state as well strengthen the security architecture of the state to ensure safety of lives of the people and that of their and property.


Ile Arugbo Demolition: Saraki, Kwara Govt to settle out of court

Kwara state government and the Saraki family have agreed to settle out of court over the demolition of Ile-Arugbo which was built by late Olusola Saraki.

Lawyers to both parties told Justice Abiodun Adewara on Friday January 24, that they’ve resolved to settle out of court and have also fixed a meeting on January 27 to resolve all issues amicably.

Justice Adewara who commended Kwara State government and Saraki family for choosing to resolve the issue without acrimony, also told them to give peace a chance and discuss an amicable resolution of the dispute.

The Federal High Court Judge further adjourned the case till March 2, 2020, for report on the settlement.

Bukola Saraki | Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq

The political home of Olusola Saraki, late father of former Senate President Bukola Saraki was demolished by the Kwara state government following the revocation of the land.

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said the land originally designated for the construction of a secretariat and parking lot of the civil service clinic, was illegally allocated to Asa Investments Limited, a private firm owned by the late father of the ex-senate president.


Your tenure will be meaningless – Kwankwaso tells Ganduje

... Kwankwaso, clueless politician

…they will regret

Former Kano state governor and former Senator representing Kano central senatorial district, Engineer Rabiú Musa Kwankwaso have revealed that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and his allies will definitely regret at the end of their second tenure.

Kwankwaso made this known during a radio programme aired by many local radio stations across the state. According to him, the current Kano state government administration is being run on deception and falsehood which he said will make the governor to regret at the end of his tenure.

“They will definitely regret at the end of their tenure, they will be saying had we know we would have handed over to the winner in 2019,” Kwankwaso said. Ganduje yesterday said his predecessor, Kwankwaso, was planning to return to the All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest for presidency come 2023.

Receiving the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Rabi’u Sulaiman Bichi, into the APC, Ganduje said Kwankwaso’s most pressing ambition is to contest for the presidency.

Ganduje, while describing Kwankwaso as a “clueless politician’’, who knew nothing in politics, said his predecessor “does not want any other person to shine”.

“I know Kwankwaso more than any other person. He is the kind of person that knows everything, knows better than any other person and who is self-centered.

Whatever this man asks you to do or to pursue will be for his own benefit, not yours. “I know all his political tricks, deceptiveness and doggedness but I endured him for all the years we were together.

He will never appreciate you for whatever you did to him, be it big or small,” he said. In his remarks, Bichi said their decision to cross carpet to the ruling party APC was unanimously taken in response to Ganduje’s invitation to the opposition to join hands with the government in moving the state forward.

“We believe in Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje’s genuine commitment in developing the state, that is why we resolved to join hands with him to develop our dear state.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje

“So we are today answering the call of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

The infrastructural development we are seeing all over the state and other human-centered policies like free and compulsory primary and secondary education are some of the major reasons that informed our decision to honour the invitation,” he added.


Christian Persecution: Gov Sule Abdullahi Assures Nassarawa CAN.

Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule has assured Christians in the state that he is Governor for all citizens irrespective of religious beliefs.

The Governor gave the assurance while hosting the leadership of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), led by its Chairman, Bishop Dr. Joseph Masin, who paid him a courtesy call at the Government House on Tuesday.

Engineer Sule emphasized that he is Governor for all, be it Muslims or Christians, stressing that he strongly believed that the world was created for everyone to leave in peace with each other.

He noted that though he is a devoted Muslim from a devoted Muslim home, he still remains a student of Christianity, having attended a Catholic primary school in Gudi, his country home, as well as stayed in a parish while attending university in the United States.

Engineer Sule said he is not the kind of person who will criticise or say anything negative about other religions.

“I am a devoted Muslim but I am a Christian student. I started my Christian studies in my primary school because I went to a Roman Catholic primary school in Gudi. From there at the US while at the university, I actually lived in a parish,” he stated.

While thanking the leadership of CAN for paying the visit at a time when Christians are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, he said for the rest of his life, his work is to see how people will live in peace with one another and how they can become independent in life.

Earlier in an opening remark, state Chairman of CAN, Bishop Dr. Joseph Masin, said the purpose of the visit by a representative of the entire Christians in the state was to show appreciation to the Governor for being Christian friendly.

While thanking Engineer Sule for relating well with Christians in the state, Bishop Masin, represented by the Secretary of the association, announced that a special day will be set aside where Christians in the state will give the Governor an award.

“I bring you the Christmas and New Year greetings on behalf of the entire Christian community in Nasarawa state.
“We are glad that you are able to spare a moment from your tight schedule, a special time to see us, to come today as representatives of the entire Christians in Nasarawa state to appreciate you for being Christian friendly,” the CAN Chairman said.

The CAN chairman used the opportunity to show appreciation to the Governor for carrying the Christian community along.

“We specially want to thank you for increasing the number of pilgrims this year. We thank you again for finding time to visit our secretariat and other places of worship in Lafia.

Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule

“We thank you for supplying rice to the state CAN, as well as women and youth wings of CAN across the 13 LGAs for Christmas celebration. We want to thank you for expanding the horizon of learning at the Nasarawa State University by siting a faculty of engineering in Gudi.

“We thank you for your plans to industrialize Nasarawa State, we pray that this your dreams will become realities. This will create employment as well as place Nasarawa state in the position of the best states ever, another Singapore, Malaysia, and Dubai in Nigeria,” Bishop Masin stated.


PMB tells Gov. Sule, Says Make APC Happy.

…as he clocks 60

…many more years and good health

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, on his 60th birthday, urging him to make good governance his priority in order to leave a lasting and favourable legacy.

President Buhari said: “Life is the most invaluable gift from God and we should use our birthday to thank our creator and reflect on life, with humility.’’

The President, who wished the governor “many more years and good health’’, advised him “not to rest on his oars because the task of fulfilling campaign promises is even greater than the campaign efforts.’’

“I urge you to make good governance your watchword because your good performance will be the yardstick by which your tenure will be judged for years to come. I wish you a happy birthday and more prosperous years ahead,’’ President Buhari added.


(SAN) Malami AGF said he will comply with court orders over ex governor’s pension refund

…affected by the order are five ministers

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) said he will comply with the order of a Federal High Court which directed him to recover monies being paid to former governors that are currently serving as senators and ministers.

The order was made on Wednesday by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, of the Lagos division of the Federal High Court while delivering judgment in a suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

In the said suit, SERAP had approached the court for an order of mandamus to compel the Attorney General of the Federation to file action to challenge states’ pension laws for former governors and recover public funds collected by them in the interest of the public.

The group further sought an order directing the AGF to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.

Responding to the judgment on Thursday, Malami said that the Federal Government will be guided by public interest in complying with the court order.

Malami’s position was contained in a statement made available to journalists by his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu.

“We will work and be guided by the legalities of the case, the dictates of justice and public interest in complying with the judgment”, the minister said.

A total of 21 states had at various times promulgated pension laws allocating huge benefits to their former governors despite public objection. They are Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Delta, Kano, Gombe, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Abia, Imo, Bayelsa, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Ondo, Ebonyi, Rivers, Niger, Kogi and Katsina states

Immediately affected by the order are five ministers in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari and nine senators.

The ministers are Mr. Babatunde Fashola (Lagos, Housing and Urban Development), Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom, Niger Delta), Hon. Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers, Transportation), Mr. Rauf Aregbesola (Osun, Interior) and Chief Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa, State Petroleum).

The senators caught by the judgment are Orji Uzor-Kalu and Theodore Orji (Abia), Kassim Shettima (Borno), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Danjuma Goje (Gombe) Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibrahim Shekarau and Kabiru Gaya (Kano) and Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe).


U.S official meets Sen. Abdullahi Sabi Aliyu Over Hate Speech Bill.

…wants NASS to engage NGOs & CSOs

A Political Officer of the Embassy of the United States of America, Jerry Howard, on Tuesday met with the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate and sponsor of the Hate Speech Bill, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

Howard said that he is impressed with the research the Senator did on the bill, according to a statement from Senator’s media office.

According to the United States Embassy official, the visit was intended to engage the sponsor of the Hate Speech bill and to seek an understanding into the proposed legislation under consideration by the Senate.

Following explanations by Senator Sabi Abdullahi on the bill, Mr. Howard said he is now better educated about the Bill, reports in the media notwithstanding.

He, therefore, advised the sponsor of the bill to engage and educate Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations in the country on its proposed contents so as to muster support for the bill.

Speaking on the decision of the US Embassy to engage the National Assembly on the Hate Speech bill, Howard said, “We want Nigeria to succeed and we think a prerequisite for Nigeria’s success is successful democracy.

“For democracy to succeed, the people must have a house, the people must have a place where their representatives can argue and complain, come up with new ideas and come up with solutions to guide the executive branch and lead the country forward.”

He commended the lawmaker for the level of work and research carried out on the bill.

“I’m very impressed with the research you’ve done on the bill. The media has had a field day with this, really.

“You’ve thought it through. I was depending on the media for my education, and it was very misleading. You’ve done your research and it is very interesting.

“But you have a difficult job selling this to the NGOs, CSOs. You need to talk to them. You’ll need to talk to Civil Society Organizations, you need to educate them. You’ve educated me,” Howard said after Senator Abdullahi explained the contents of the bill.

Earlier, speaking on why he decided to introduce the bill, Abdullahi said, “Part of the reasons why violence takes place is attributable to discriminatory practices.

“It is discrimination that creates the socio-political imbalance that you see leading to a group feeling shortchanged and marginalised.

“Discrimination is also another very serious matter why I sponsored the bill. This bill basically is about preventing discrimination, and prohibiting people who incite violence,” he said.

Abdullahi further stated that the bill’s introduction by the National Assembly has the backing of Section 45 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

The Section states: “Nothing in Sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society; in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom or other persons.”

On measures in place to ensure that the bill is not abused by politicians, Senator Abdullahi explained that “an Independent Commission shall be constituted and whose membership will be restricted to persons without any history of promoting ethnic or religious causes, or anyone with political affiliations.”

He added that the passage of the Bill by the National Assembly into law will address all forms of discrimination, hostility and violence which are on the rise in the country.


Clerics, Editors, IPI frowns at hate speech bill.

…Abdullahi said haters of the bill are pretenders.

Opposition against the controversial Hate Speech Bill has continued with the International Press Institute (IPI), Nigeria Guild of Editors and a cleric calling on the Federal Government to discontinue any plan or move to abridge freedom of expression of Nigerians.

Several Nigerians including Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Fr. Hassan Kukah, Chief Mike Ozekhome, Sani Uba and Femi Falana had earlier kicked against the bill.

The law to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches championed by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, has passed second reading on the floor of the Senate. Details of the Bill are not different from the one abandoned by the eighth Senate. For instance, it reintroduced the death penalty proposed in the botched Bill. The Bill, promulgates that any person found guilty of hate speech that results in the death of another person shall die by hanging. Depending on the degree of the offence, the Bill also provides for life jail, five-year imprisonment or an option of N10 million fine for persons convicted of hate speech.

In a statement, yesterday, the Nigerian chapter of the IPI called on media stakeholders to seize the opportunity of the impending public hearing on the social media bill to vigorously push for desired amendments or changes to any such Bill prior to its likely passage or rejection by the legislature.

Kabiru Yusuf, IPI president said in a statement: “We wish to make it known that IPI does not in any way support the peddling of hate speech, fake news and deliberate misinformation through any social or conventional media platform.

“We are aware that all of the aforementioned are usually the preserve of quacks and non-professionals who have no regard for the implications that such acts would have for our polity and for national peace and security.

“But we are decidedly opposed to laws with prescription of capital punishment and any other stiff and dehumanising penalties for such abuse of the media space.”

He called on the National Assembly to explore the alternatives “of either re-examining the provisions of the Cyber Crime Act (2015) to accommodate current realities or advocating the applications, when necessary, of its provisions to check any negative use of social media.”

Editors at the All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC)in Sokoto condemned what it called “attempts to punish conventional media for the wrongs of non-professionals on the social media platforms” and described the proposed fake news and hate speech bills “draconian legislations that have no place in Nigeria’s democracy.”

The editors called for a “collective fight against all media abuses by non-professionals.”

In a communique signed by Mustapha Isah and Mary Atolagbe, president and general secretary respectively, NGE also called for the release of all detained journalists across the country, stating that “democracy thrives better in countries that cherish and promote media freedom.”

Reacting, the Bishop on the Niger Diocese, Anglican Communion, Anambra State, Rev. Owen Nwokolo, said the bill is a plot to cow Nigerians and deprived people of their rights to freedom of speech and expression.

He, however, called on Nigerians not to worry about the bill saying it will not succeed in the National Assembly.

“We condemn any such law which the National Assembly will want to enforce on the people of the country except the law is such that will help in building up the country, that is the only reason we will accept such law, but if it is championed to cow the people, then it is unfair, we will speak against it, condemn it in its entirety.”

“The National Assembly is not made up of people who are stooge to the present administration, and I am not sure they will allow the Social Media/Hate Speech Bill, to scale through, neither will they allow anybody seeking for third time as president of Nigeria.

“We should allow the members of the National Assembly to exercise their rights and duties as those elected to make laws for the nation. Social Media/Hate Speech has not passed the public reading or hearing, so when it comes to that stage I’m sure with the outcry by the people it will be thrown into bins, the National Assembly will withdraw the bill,” Bishop Nwokolo, who spoke after church service to mark the end of “Fresh Manna Conference” organised by the Diocese where the church under the Calvary Foundation donated the sum of N10 million for scholarship to indigents pupils and students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, said.

Notwithstanding the opposition, Abdullahi has maintained that opponents of the “hate speech bill” are ignorant of the dangers that loom if it is not passed into law.

In a statement, Abdullahi said its opponents were only pretending to protect freedom of speech.

He asked people to beware of “false information being spilled out by some persons and groups parading themselves as serving the interest of the nation.”