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Rising tension: Abdulsalami asks govs to resolve differences, take responsibility

The former Head of State warned that the tension in the country might lead to a point of no return

Former Head of State and Chairman, National Peace Committee (NOC), General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has called on the 36 state governors to resolve their differences, speak with one voice and confront the security challenges bedevilling the country.

He also appealed to Nigerians to give peace a chance in the face of rising tension in different parts of the country.

Addressing journalists at his Hilltop residence in Minna on Tuesday, the Niger State capital, the former head of state noted that if care was not taken, the growing tension in the country might lead Nigeria to a point of no return.

Daily Trust reports that at the height of the eviction order for herders in some states in the South West and South East, and the attendant banditry and kidnapping in North West and North Central, some governors engaged in verbal war and calling themselves out.

For instance, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State had condemned the statement credited to his counterpart from Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, that herdsmen had no option but to carry AK-47 for self-defence.

But the Bauchi governor said his reference to AK47 was simply to put in perspective, the predicament and desperation of those law-abiding Fulani herdsmen who, while carrying out their legitimate cow-rearing business, had become serial victims of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping and assassination

He also condemned South West and South East governors, and also Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in North Central, over the manner in which they were handling farmer/herder clashes.

Elsewhere, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State had said his colleagues in North West were working at cross purposes, and therefore unable to address the security challenges in the region. Responding, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State said it appeared El-Rufai doesn’t understand issues around insecurity. Observers believed that going by the enormous influence they wield, the federal government will not succeed in taming security challenges if governors kept shifting blames among themselves.

Officials of Yoruba and Hausa communities during a peace meeting in Ibadan

‘Governors must work together to end insecurity’

While expressing his displeasure over the security challenges, Abdulsalami said some people were fanning the embers of disunity, anarchy, and disintegration.

He said recent happenings in some parts of the country occasioned by ethnic attacks were unfortunate because they were adding to the problems of insurgency, kidnapping and robbery.

“We appeal to the citizens of our dear country who have borne so much pains and suffering to remain resilient and patient. Thousands of our people are homeless and refugees across the length and breadth of their own country. We know what farmers have faced in the last few years and the harvests will be a serious challenge this year. Therefore, let us all rally together in these hard times, make the required sacrifices and remain vigilant, standing by one another,” he said.

While appealing to the state governors who are the chief security officers of their states to sheath their swords, Abdulsalami said they should tone down their rhetoric and take full responsibility for managing the divergent voices and frustrations within their states.

He said, “It is true that we are all in a state of fear and collective anxiety. However, the last thing we need is for the enemy to sense a lack of unity on our part or a break in our ranks.

“We appeal to the new service chiefs and IGP to rise to the urgent demands of the moment by rallying their troops and designing the best strategy for ending the tragic war that has continued to consumed and destroy the foundations of our dear country.

“We hope that based on their field experiences in the war, they can draw up a well-coordinated programme to ensure that all our resources are deployed to achieve the much-needed victory in this avoidable war.”

President Muhammadu Buhari

We’ll fish our people behind the crisis – Buhari

Hours after Abdulsalami called on those that matter to work together and solve Nigeria’s security challenges, President Muhammadu Buhari attributed the upheavals in some parts of the country to a few people with resources and influence.

President Buhari, who spoke on Tuesday while receiving a delegation of Borno/Yobe Elders Forum on a courtesy call, assured that these people would be identified and dealt with in due course.

“I am confident that we will eventually convince the small number of people with resources and influence that are a nuisance to this great country. God willing, we will identify them, and deal with them. I am extremely concerned about your constituency like the rest of the country.”

The President said the stability of the country was of paramount interest to him and the federal government would continue to work towards it despite the actions of a few people.

President Buhari said:  “We need this country. We will continue to work for its stability. I feel that whatever happens, we will continue to make it, and will keep on praying to God so that for those who feel that they don’t need Nigeria, we will succeed over their intentions and actions.”

He expressed appreciation to the leaders for coming to terms with the positive improvement that has occurred in the states since the inception of the administration.

In his remarks, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State said the leaders were in Abuja to thank the president for the tremendous improvement in their states and to intimate him with some of the prevailing socio-economic conditions.

Also on the delegation were Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, former Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno, as well as senators, traditional rulers and elders from the two states, including Architect Bunu Sheriff, Gambo Gubio, the Ministers of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Shehuri and Works and Housing, Abubakar D. Aliyu.

We’ll liaise with NGF to address insecurity

The House of Representatives has advised political and public office holders against inflammatory and inciting statements that may cause further divisions and unrest in the country.

This followed a resolution passed by the House on a motion of urgent public importance moved by Rep. Dachung Bagos (PDP, Plateau).

The motion was on the heels of the alleged statement by Governor Mohammed of Bauchi and the attendant responses.

“If all public officials regardless of their position or status are not cautioned against inciting or provoking the general public, the already tense situation in the country will lead to open hostilities,” the legislator said.

After the presentation of the motion, the House resolved to interface with the Nigeria Governors Forum through its relevant committees in order to find a lasting solution to insecurity in the country.

Shasa crisis not a tribal war- NGF

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Tuesday said that the crisis in Shasa, Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State, has nothing to do with tribal war but regrettable conflict in two different communities.

The governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who led three other governors from the northern states on behalf of the NGF to Shasa, explained that the four northern governors were sent to Ibadan to resolve the crisis.

The governors are: Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Abubakar Bello (Niger).

The host governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, who led the guests to assess the level of destruction occasioned by the clash between the two communities in the area inhabited by the Yoruba and Hausa, sued for peace and promised that his government would find means to restore peace to the community.

Receiving the governors, the Sarkin Sasa of Ibadanland, Alhaji Haruna Maiyasin, who regretted the unfortunate incident, however, lauded Governor Makinde for his peaceful relationship with the Hausa community since the inception of his administration.

Addressing newsmen on behalf of the other visiting governors, Governor Bagudu appealed to the aggrieved ethnic groups to maintain peace and unity that have been in existence between the Hausa and the Yoruba communities from time immemorial.

His words: “We are well received by our host governor. He briefed us about what happened, and today, took us to Shasa Market and on our way, there was a stopover at Bodija Market and we are pleased that we saw Nigerians of all tribes in the market conducting their activity, which is evident of return of normalcy.”

“First, there have been contentions over the leadership of the Shasa market. Even though the Sarkin Shasa and the Baale of Shasa are in agreement about leadership, but other interested groups were no so carried along.

“Then the trigger, there was somebody, either pushing or carrying a wheelbarrow with tomatoes and it fell in front of a shop. Ordinarily, that is just normal in a market, but once emotions are high, and social media are instigating, unfortunately, we had the situation we had, which included loss of lives and we regretted and we sympathise with families of all those who lost their lives and property.

“As we speak, it is certain that some people are afraid about what will happen; so it is our responsibility to ensure that we communicate properly so that those who are living in fear whether in Ibadan or in other states because others will now be in fear that there will be reprisal to know that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies are working hard to ensure that we treat things for what they are.

“Incidences are bound to happen, sometimes, they are exploited by miscreants in the society to loot, to steal and to cause mayhem and part of what has happened in Ibadan has to do with that. Just like we saw during the EndSARS riots, but we are glad reasons are prevailing and people are calming down and encouraging us.

“To those outside, particularly in the northern states, we want to extend that a regrettable spontaneous incident has happened, but it is not a tribal conflict; it is a regrettable conflict that the different communities in Oyo are working and holding each other’s hands to sort out,” Bagudu said.

Arms proliferation behind Nigeria’s security challenges – Senate

Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday called for stiffer punishment for anyone found with illegal firearms.

He said the security situation in the country would be improved if the proliferation of illegal firearms was adequately curtailed.

Lawan was contributing to a debate on a bill titled: “The Firearms Act CAP F28 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2021” sponsored by Senator Uba Sani (Kaduna Central).

“The security situation would have been far better if we are able to control the proliferation of firearms in the country.

“I believe that there is no compromise for stiffer penalties for anyone caught with an illegal arm,” the Senate president said.

He said the Senate had limited powers to address insecurity ravaging the country, but could only talk about it, debate it and insist that something is done to address the problem.

He noted that the power to implement policies and programmes aim at addressing security challenges rests on the executive. Lawan said: “For us in the National Assembly, it has been a very difficult time probably the most difficult because our people face these daily security challenges.

“The question is always what are you people doing and unfortunately the legislature is limited in what it can do. It cannot implement, but it can talk about it, discuss it, debate it and insist on it,” he said.

Earlier in his lead debate, Sani said that the bill sought to impose stiffer penalties for offences in the “Principal Act” as well as provide for the destruction of firearms imported illegally into the country or in the possession of individuals without valid licences.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa as substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has generated some dust.

Bawa, 40, was on Tuesday named to head the anti-corruption agency by Mr President, seven months after the suspension of the former acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu.

But immediately after the appointment, several allegations of infractions have surfaced against the nominee, whose name has been forwarded to the Senate for confirmation.

Why Buhari settled for Abdulrasheed Bawa

President Buhari, in a letter to President of the Senate Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, said he was acting in accordance with Paragraph 2(3) of Part1, CAP E1 of EFCC Act, 2004.

A presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, in a statement issued on Tuesday said Bawa is a trained EFCC investigator with vast experience in the investigation and prosecution of Advance Fee Fraud cases, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic crimes.

Adesina said the nominee had undergone several specialized training in different parts of the world and was one of the pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers in 2005.

He said Bawa holds a B.Sc. degree in Economics, and a Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy.

The EFCC chairman-designate hails from Jega Local Government Area of Kebbi State.

Allegations of oil trucks sale in Port Harcourt

There have been allegations, during forfeiture proceedings in court, of the auctioning of 244 trucks been proceeds of corruption worth N20 to 30 million while Bawa was zonal head in Port Harcourt.

Impeccable sources told Daily Trust that Bawa was removed as EFCC’s zonal head in Port Harcourt by the Ibrahim Magu leadership of the commission following controversy around the trucks recovered by the zone.

However, a source said yesterday, that Bawa was not indicted of misconduct as no truck was sold or diverted by him.

The source attributed “administrative lapse created by communication gap for which Bawa was unfairly transferred out on a punitive posting to Karu. He was actually sent out for respecting court orders.”

In December 2019, Bawa was transferred to head the Capacity Development Division of the EFCC Academy in Karu from his post as head of Port Harcourt zone.

Two sources, privy to what transpired then, separately told Daily Trust that Bawa was punished for releasing some tankers to their owners as directed by the courts.

Also, multiple sources at the commission said Bawa was never detained at any time.

“Bawa was close to Magu, just like he was with Lamorde. They all utilised him very well for his proficiency. In fact, it was a shock that Magu even removed him. Many of us couldn’t believe it, looking at their closeness,” a senior EFCC officer said.

Bawa stepping into EFCC’s top vacancy

On November 20, 2020, the retired Justice Ayo Salami-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations against Magu recommended that in appointing a new chairman of the EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and core staff as provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.

The Salami panel revealed the recommendation while submitting the report of the team on the investigation of Magu at State House, Abuja.

The retired Justice of the Court of Appeal noted that the four chairmen of EFCC since inception were from the police.

“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, arrangement would be made for appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by the National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism,” Justice Salami had said.

He said Magu and 113 witnesses appeared and testified before the commission, adding that 46 petitions and memoranda were presented by individuals and organisations with complaints against the suspended acting chairman, EFCC.

President Buhari had constituted the panel led by the former President of the Court of Appeal in July last year to probe various allegations levelled against Magu, following petitions by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

Malami’s memo allegedly accused Magu of diversion of recovered loot.

The memo contained 22 allegations against the former EFCC acting chairman.

Magu was suspended during the course of the probe and the agency’s Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, was appointed to oversee the activities of the commission pending the conclusion of the investigation.

 Magu’s issue not resolved -Lawyers

Lawyers to Magu, Wahab Shittu Esq and Tosin Ojaomo Esq have expressed disappointment over the treatment of the former EFCC czar, arguing that the matter was not resolved before the new appointment was made.

Although the lawyers admitted that the appointment is the prerogative of Mr President, there were still some concerns.

“The fact still remains that the issue of Magu has not been completely disposed of. Don’t forget that it is not just Magu alone, are were other people that were suspended from the commission. The issue ought to have been laid to rest before a new appointment is made,” Ojaomo said.

He said with all the issues of injustice on ground, the morale of the officers and the person being put at the helm will be affected.

 Let the Senate determine allegations against him

Reacting, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) said the EFCC Act prescribes that the chairman must be a serving member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank or Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent.

“The law is very clear and unequivocal. Our country is immensely blessed in terms of the abundance of human resources. On the strength of these, it should not be difficult to have the office legitimately and legally filled by someone with the requisite criteria. Of course, if the gentleman nominee is qualified for the office, good luck to him as there should be nothing to stop him from being confirmed by the Senate,” he said.

On his part, Ahmed Raji (SAN) said any complaint or observation about the nomination of Bawa as EFCC chairman can only be handled by the Senate which now has the role to vet the appointment.

Investigate allegations against appointee – Southern, M’Belt leaders

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) yesterday queried the nomination of Mr Bawa as new EFCC chairman.

The forum called on President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate and clear the air on the allegation of corruption against the new EFCC chairman nominee.

The forum made this position known in a statement jointly endorsed by spokesmen of the group, Yinka Odumakin (South West), Chief Guy Ikokwu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).

“The anti-graft war has suffered so much damage of mismanagement under this regime and this may be the last straw to break the back of its camel,” they said.

The Southern, Middle Belt leaders said the president, despite proclaiming anti-corruption as one of its cardinal programmes, the administration had been tainted with several corruption cases.

“But walking the talk has been a challenge for the president as his first nominee, Ibrahim Magu, remained unconfirmed in almost five years because of the damming report of the DSS on him which showed he is a man that should be running from anti-graft instead of looters running for him.

“As they are managing to clean up the Magu mess, he has put forward Mr Abdulraheed Bawa as a replacement.

“But facts coming out about his latest nominee show that the whole anti-corruption war is a joke that can only impress the unwary.”

CSOs raise expectation for first non-police appointee

When contacted, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said as with every agency, it is expected that the president’s nominee, Mr. Bawa who is the first to be nominated from within the commission will better understand the challenges of the commission having risen through the ranks.

According to him, if he is confirmed by the Senate, that is what Nigerians and international partners will be expecting from him and that he hoped he lives up to the expectation.

On his part, the Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, said the nomination was a good development that a substantive head has been appointed for the EFCC.

“So, for the new person appointed, he will do well to explore ways of deepening the fight against corruption by making it a collective responsibility. One of the issues used as a pretext to harass Magu was the use of recovered assets. Is there a transparent and accountable mechanism for the management of recovered assets now? These are the difficult questions that the new man will have to confront,” Zikirullahi said.

Also, National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, expressed shock that President Muhammadu Buhari has not told Nigerians the current status of the suspended acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, for many months.

On the newly appointed substantive chairman of EFCC, Onwubiko charged the National Assembly not to act like presidential puppets but conduct extensive investigations on the background of the nominee so that the nation would not be subjected to the public odium associated with the monumental fall from grace to grass that engineered the removal of Ibrahim Magu by the government.

Challenges before EFCC chair-nominee

Few hours after the announcement of Abdulrasheed Bawa, a Deputy Chief Detective Superintendent, as the nominee for the position of chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, mixed reactions have continued to trail his nomination.

A retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, who does not want his name in print said, “I think the affiliation of the nominee with Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, if confirmed by the lawmakers will surely affect his delivery.

“I’m not saying he does not have the capacity to deliver but he wouldn’t want to bite the finger that fed him. It is in the public domain already that Malami nominated him to become the EFCC boss.”

Another security expert, Hassan Jubril, noted that it would be good for Bawa’s reputation if he defies all odds to prosecute to logical conclusions, all politicians on trial.

“I know there are enormous challenges if he is finally confirmed by the Senate. One of it is rejigging the system in the commission,” he said.

Speaking on whether his appointment would affect his mates at the commission, Jubril said the president has the prerogative of nominating anyone for appointment.

From Romoke W. Ahmad (Minna), Muideen Olaniyi, Abdullateef Salau, Balarabe Alkassim (Abuja), Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan) & Peter Moses (Abeokuta)

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