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Trump fires election security official who rejected fraud claims

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United States President Donald Trump has fired the government’s top election security official, who rejected the President’s claims of “massive” fraud in the November 3 poll, which he lost to the Democratic Party candidate, Joe Biden.

Trump announced on Twitter the termination “effective immediately” of Chris Krebs, who led the agency that jointly declared “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”

Trump, who refuses to acknowledge that he lost his bid for reelection to Biden, has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the voting and count were replete with fraud.

“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

“Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”

Krebs, who reportedly told friends last week he expected to be removed, appeared to confirm it in a tweet on his personal account.

“Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow,” he wrote.

Krebs was in charge of fending off possible foreign and domestic hacker intrusions into myriad voting machines, sorting and counting machines, databases and other systems that states and localities rely on to tally ballots.

Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Krebs and his team had “worked diligently to safeguard our elections.”

“Instead of rewarding this great service, President Trump is retaliating against Director Krebs and other officials who did their duty,” he said in a statement.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse wrote: “Chris Krebs did a really good job — as state election officials all across the nation will tell you — and he obviously should not be fired.”

The challenge was even tougher this year because of the complexities of the coronavirus, which forced a sweeping turn to voting by mail.

Under Krebs, CISA had also warned several times that Russians and Iranians were making attempts to break into the US systems, as Russians had tried in 2016.

The White House was reportedly particularly unhappy about a CISA webpage set up to fight disinformation called “Rumor vs Reality.”

The page rejected claims Trump and others have made, including that many votes were made in the names of dead people, that counting the ballots days after election day is not normal and that shifting vote counts indicate fraud.

Through numerous reviews, investigations and lawsuits, no evidence has come up of any significant distortion or loss of votes, by accident or fraud.

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” an official group of senior US federal and state election officials said in a report last week.

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400 suspected Boko Haram, bandits’ sponsors arrested

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Security agents have arrested about 400 businessmen for allegedly funding operations of Boko Haram and bandits in the country.

Daily Trust reported that the businessmen were arrested in an operation coordinated by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), and in collaboration with the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have approved the operation in 2020.

The newspaper reported that an initial list of 957 suspects comprising bureau de change (BDC) operators, gold miners and sellers, and other businessmen is being acted upon.

A source told the newspaper that about 400 persons were arrested in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna and Zamfara.

Names of the BDC operators arrested were given as Baba Usaini, Abubakar Yellow (Amfani), Yusuf Ali Yusuf (Babangida), Ibrahim Shani, Auwal Fagge, and Muhammad Lawan Sani, a gold dealer.

Those arrested are reportedly being kept in military and the DSS facilities in Abuja and other places.

“Because this is economic warfare against the insurgents and other militant groups, the president, when approving the operation directed that the NFIU take the lead as the country’s financial intelligence powerhouse,” Daily Trust quoted a source to have said.

The source added that “with the presidential approval, a task team was composed of personally selected senior officers who were deployed under the DIA to carry out the special assignment”.

“The main person coordinating the funding ring for Boko Haram is in our custody, he and his closest ally in the business,” he said.

Another source was quoted to have said about 19 BDCs owned by persons with “direct connection with Boko Haram” were uncovered, while over N300 billion was found to have been used in funding terrorism.

Apart from one person in Borno and another in Zaria, Kaduna state, the source said over N50 billion were traced in funding to the armed groups.

“A number of those arrested have divulged vital information including operational details of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents. But they are being kept to aid further arrests,” the source was quoted to have said.

Family members of those arrested, the newspaper reported, have been calling on the government for their release.

In 2020, six Nigerians were also jailed in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly funding Boko Haram.

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Former Ondo deputy governor agrees to return vehicles

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Former Ondo Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi has finally agreed to return the two vehicles in his possession to the Ondo State Government.

The state government last week said it would embarrass Agboola if he failed to return the four vehicles.

But Agboola, who said he had only two vehicles, insisted they were part of his benefits.

The state government also petitioned the Ondo State Police Command to help recover the vehicles.

In a statement on Sunday, the former deputy governor said he was not the problem of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration.

Agboola stated it was in the interest of everybody that Governor Akeredolu demonstrated good governance, transparent policy making and effective change.

He said it was unfortunate some members of the inner circle of Akeredolu have prioritised harassing him on a number of issues most especially the return of vehicles

Agboola said he hoped “these petty interactions would have ceased after the recent inauguration.

“To be clear – if the return of these two vehicles will make the administration focus more on the avalanche of pressing needs, challenges and predicaments facing the state most especially insecurity, the absence of governance and unpaid salaries across the entirety the Ondo public sector – then I’m ready to make the sacrifice and return the two vehicles which they so desperately need.

“I am not the problem of the present administration. I have moved on.”

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Pensioners demand payment of N35bn arrears

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Nigeria pensioners who retired from the electricity sector have urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to come to their aide in order to resolve the lingering issue of their owed N35billion pension arrears.

The pensioners under the aegis of Electricity Sector Retiree Welfare Association (ESREWA), led by its  President, Elder Benjamin Amako, asked President Buhari to save countless dying pensioners whose fate are tied to the delayed payment of their pension arrears.

Rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, Amako said every Nigerian, including President Buhari, knows the pathetic situation of pensioners in the country.

Amako said: “First we thank God that Mr President returned from his medical trip healthier, stronger and successfully. The news of his return gave us pensioners so much joy because we know  he will not sit quiet and watch more pensioners lose their lives because of humanly inaction. So far, his administration has ensured that pensioners gets their rights and this arrears we are asking for is our right.

“Interestingly, President Buhari had already directed that this same arrears (N35billion) be paid to us, but for over five years ago he issued the directive, the relevant authorities who it is their responsibilities to ensure we get this arrears for our dying members seems to be working contrarily.

“So for the past five years, these arrears have always been part of the National Budget under Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) budget and accordingly transferred to Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). But sadly, we have not been paid a dime even as I speak, for reasons that are totally and obviously human making.

“So we are pleading with President Buhari, the SGF, Minister of Finance, Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Accountant General of the Federation, PTAD and other relevant authorities to save our lives by paying us this money without further delay.”

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