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Niger governor, deputy, speaker travel for hajj

Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago of Niger State; his deputy, Yakubu Garba; and the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Barrister Abdulmalik Sarkin-Daji, have all…

Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago of Niger State; his deputy, Yakubu Garba; and the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Barrister Abdulmalik Sarkin-Daji, have all travelled to Saudi Arabia for hajj, Daily Trust reports.

Also, many commissioners and some lawmakers in the state have also travelled for hajj, a development condemned by some residents and pundits, who said they felt abandoned, considering the recent happenings in the state that left many people dead.

It is not clear if the governor officially transmitted power to someone else before embarking on the trip.

The journey by the governor and other key leaders in the state happened in the wake of an accident at a mining pit that buried many people, even as rescue operation moves in a snail speed, over a week after the incident.

Sources in Minna said the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Alhaji Abubakar Usman, has been performing official government functions since Monday.

But the media has not been availed with official communication to this effect. Calls put across to the SSG went unanswered.

However, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Bologi Ibrahim, who was contacted on phone, told our reporter to write whatever he wanted to write.

“Go and write anything you want to write. No problem,” he said, and hung the call.

Section 190 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states that: “Whenever the governor transmits to the speaker of the house of assembly, a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to the speaker of the house of assembly a written declaration to the contrary, such functions shall be discharged by the deputy governor as acting governor.”

Daily Trust gathered from multiple sources that the governor left the state on Monday with more than half of cabinet members as well as the speaker, among others, in a chartered plane.

On the other hand, the deputy governor travelled from Abuja with his team after attending a function.

State in mourning mood

The trip came at a time when the fate of over 50 labourers trapped after the collapse of a mining pit at a mining site in Galkogo Community in Shiroro Local Government of the state, is still unknown.

Labourers working at the mining pit, owned by African Minerals and Logistics Limited, were on June 3, trapped inside the 400-metre-deep pit as it caved in while they were underground following a heavy rain the previous day.

Our correspondent reported that initial efforts to rescue the trapped victims, who included the site manager, Alhaji Ishaku Ibrahim, stalled due to lack of appropriate equipment.

While the authorities have kept sealed lips after failed efforts to rescue the victims, relations of affected persons have continued to grieve, appealing to authorities to at least recover the bodies of their brothers for proper burial.

Similarly, while government agencies, including the police, had put the number of trapped victims at 20 and said that six were rescued, families and residents held a contrary position, insisting that the number of people still trapped in the pit was more than 50, adding that the six people were not rescued from the pit but were lucky to have escaped when it was caving in.

Some staff of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency confirmed to Daily Trust on condition of anonymity that aside the six survivors, no one had been rescued since then.



Meanwhile, condemnations have trailed the absence of the governor, his deputy governor and the speaker.

A stalwart and former senatorial candidate for Niger East on the platform of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Alhaji Umar Danladi Abdulhamid, described the governor’s trip as “political disaster, abuse of tenets of democracy and lack of empathy”, adding that: “It is wrong for key state officers to abandon the state without transmitting power in line with the Constitution.”

According to him, “It portends danger for democracy.”

Abdulhamid said the governor and his deputy ought not to have travelled the same time when some parts of the state were battling with incessant attacks and kidnappings on a daily basis.

Also speaking, the Niger North Zonal Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Yahaya Ability, said the governor’s action was “a betrayal of the trust the citizens bestowed on him”.

He lamented that the governor travelled out of the state on the day terrorists launched a daring attack in Tegina in Rafi Local Government Area, adding that Rafi, Shiroro, Munya and Mariga, were under attacks on daily basis.

The Chairman, Campaign for Democracy, Human Right Advocacy Civil Society of Nigeria, North Central Zone, Dr Mohammed Abdullahi Jabi, said it was unfortunate for the key elected officials to leave the state at the same time.

Speaking on the issue, a former Head of Political Science Department, University of Ilorin, Dr Mohammed Alada, faulted the action of the officials, saying that it represented a slap on the Constitution and the people.

According to him, “With such development, governance will be at a standstill because the Constitution envisages where any of the three of them will take charge if such a situation comes up.

“The essence of that is to ensure continuity of governance and avoid a vacuum. There is a limit to the extent the deputy speaker can go. In fact, the Constitution did not make any provision for that office; they cannot be ruling from wherever they are, someone must be fully in charge,” he said.

Alada said: “When former President Yar’Adua died, Jonathan, who was formally acting, was sworn in as the substantive president. That is the kind of situation envisaged by the Constitution.

“God forbid, in a situation where the three of them did not return to the state, what will happen? It means it will be drifting without any definite direction”,


3 die in another pit

In the meantime, three artisanal miners have been confirmed dead while another was injured following the collapse of a mining site in Adunu village, Kafin-Koro Ward in Paikoro LGA of Niger State. Our correspondent was told that the incident happened Thursday when the site was busy with mining activities.

When contacted, the Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Abdullahi Baba Arah, confirmed the incident.

He said no one was trapped, but that three people lost their lives.

 “The incident occurred earlier today (Thursday). It involves local miners who are said to be illegally mining the gold deposit environment scavenging for the mineral. No one was trapped, and as such, there was no search and rescue operation,” he said.


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