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Buhari to Nigerian youths: Engage us constructively

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… ‘We’re paying staff salaries of 100,000 MSMEs’

President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged Nigerian youths to engage his administration constructively in providing solutions to myriad problems confronting the nation.

He said he had accepted the five-point demand presented to him by the youths during their protests against police brutality, adding that after promptly granting the first request – disbanding the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, measures had been put in place to address the remaining four.

The President made these pronouncements in a nationwide broadcast on Thursday night.

He said, “As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.

On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive police reforms.”

Buhari added, “I therefore call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.”

He said the administration was doing everything possible to advance the progress of the youths and enumerated some of the programmes targeted at improving their lots.

For instance, he said the government was currently “paying three months salaries of the staff of 100,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission; giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans; and guaranteeing market for the products of traders.”

Buhari said, “Government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society. These included our broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund.”

The President, however, said that while the government was willing to accede to the demands of Nigerians, it should not be considered to be weak.

He said, “In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful, and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.

“For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated.”

He said it was thus worrisome that after the demands were met, the protesters failed to back down.

He said: “I must warn those who have hijacked and misdirected the initial, genuine and well-intended protest of some of our youths in parts of the country, against the excesses of some members of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).”

He also said, “The choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our Constitution and other enactments; but this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law.

“As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.

“On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.

“Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.

“The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a Peace Maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.”

Even as he acknowledged the concerns of Nigeria’s neighbours and the international community, he urged them to always “seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgment and making hasty pronouncements.”

“This government respects and will continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but it will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation,” he added.

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Updated: Chadian President Idriss Deby dies, son takes over

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Chadian President Idris Derby has died at the age of 68.

He was said to have died while visiting troops on the frontline of a fight against northern rebels, the army said on Tuesday, the day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.

Reuters reported that Deby’s son, Mahamat Kaka, was named interim president by a transitional council of military officers, spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna, said in a broadcast on state television.

The late Chadian leader came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders.

According to the report, Deby and his army have been seen as a reliable Western ally in a turbulent region afflicted by jihadists. His campaign said on Monday he was joining troops on the frontline after rebels based across the northern frontier in Libya advanced hundreds of km (miles) south toward the capital N’Djamena. L1N2MC20E

The exact cause of death was not yet clear but a European diplomatic source said he had been killed.

“A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together,” Bermendao said, surrounded by several officers.

“The National Council of Transition reassures the Chadian people that all measures have been taken to guarantee peace, security and the republican order,” he said.

Deby, whose opponents accused him of repressive rule, pushed through a new constitution in 2018 that would have allowed him to stay in power until 2033 – even as it re-instated term limits.

He took the title of “Marshal” last year and said before last week’s election: “I know in advance that I will win, as I have done for the last 30 years.”

He was dealing with mounting public discontent over his management of Chad’s oil wealth and crackdowns on opponents.

But in the election results announced on Monday, Deby was credited with 79 per cent of the vote, handing him a sixth term in office. Several leading opposition figures boycotted the poll.

Western countries have seen Deby as an ally in the fight against Islamist extremist groups, including Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel.

His death is a blow to France, which had based its Sahel counter-terrorism operations in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena.

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Senate probes CCT Chairman, Umar, over alleged assault

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The Senate on Tuesday commenced investigation into alleged assault by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar on a guard, Clement Sagwak, at Banex Plaza, Wuse 2, Abuja.

The incident occurred on March 29, 2021.

Sagwak had also forwarded his petition to the National Human Rights Commission to probe the incident.

Senator Istifanus Gyang (Plateau North) submitted a petition on the incident to the Senate on behalf of his constituent, Sagwak.

Sagwak, had in his petition dated April 9 2021 and signed by his lawyer, Samuel Ihensekhien, accused the CCT chairman of abuse of power, assault, torture, and ‘xenophobia’.

A five-minute video that went viral captured Umar and the guard having an altercation at the plaza.

Sagwak, 22, and an employee of Jul Reliable Guards Services Limited, told the Senate he was attacked by Umar last month.

He said he was assaulted by Umar and a policeman attached to him after he informed him (Umar) that his car was not properly parked.

 

He said the CCT boss slapped him several times and forced him to kneel down in the presence of everybody while undergoing his lawful activities.

He asked the Senate to investigate the incident and ensure justice.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the petition to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to report back to plenary in four weeks.

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Governors agree to implement autonomy for assemblies, judiciary in May

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State governors under the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have agreed to implement autonomy for legislature and judiciary, with effect from May.

This coincides with the Senate through its Chairman for the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele saying autonomy for judiciary is non-negotiable.

Chairman of the NGF, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who is also Ekiti State governor, said the decision to implement the autonomy next month was reached in a meeting attended by federal lawmakers, representatives of the judiciary and legislative workers, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari.

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) is on strike to protest the government’s failure to implement autonomy for the judiciary.

President Muhammadu Buhari had signed an order to that effect in May 2020, but the gazetting of the order was suspended after the President met with governors — triggering reports that the governors were frustrating the move.

Fayemi said the governors never objected to full autonomy for the state assemblies and judiciary, adding that “the issue is about implementation.”

“There has been no objection from governors on judicial and legislative autonomies. As a matter of fact, it would not have passed if governors were not in support in the first instance, in the state assemblies,” he said.

“But we don’t just want to agree to something on paper without working out the modalities for implementation. Thankfully, the meeting we have just emerged from, with the chief of staff to the president chairing, has worked out the modalities to the satisfaction of all parties.

“As soon as the final document that is being cleaned up emerges, that is preparatory to implementation. We’re not going to put a timeframe in the air, but it will be implemented as soon as possible, definitely no later than the end of May 2021.”

He urged the striking judiciary and legislative workers should return to work.

Fayemi said, “I think we are basically at a position where, whether you speak to the conference of speakers’ chairperson or you speak to me or you speak to the representative of the judiciary or you speak to the solicitor-general of the federation, you will hear that we’re speaking with one voice on the implementation.

”And no later than May, you will start seeing the implementation of the agreement that we’ve reached.”

Also speaking to journalists on the issue on Monday, Bamidele said it was laughable to be grappling with judicial autonomy at this stage of the nation’s development.

He said, “We cannot continue to call on the judiciary to give peace a chance when we know the conditions under which they work cannot guarantee a passionate and enhanced delivery of justice. We are talking about judicial reforms; we are talking about the need for justice sector reforms.

“This is central and crucial to the independence of the judiciary in this country. We must not be left behind by the rest of the civilized world. Nobody stands to lose anything by granting independence to judiciary at the state level since it has been done at the national level.

“The fact that workers and staff of federal judiciary are joining the protest is only in solidarity with their colleagues at the state levels. It is a union matter and we do not have a control over it. We are hereby calling on the State Governors to do the needful because the independence of the judiciary is non- negotiable.

“No democracy can survive without being founded on the rule of law and independent judiciary.”

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