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Threats: CAN demands special security for Kukah

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Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies to provide adequate security for Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, currently under attacks over his Christmas message in which he accused the President of promoting northern hegemony.

It also cautioned those threatening the bishop to stop their action, warning that no harm must befall the cleric.

A statement by the CAN’s General Secretary, Rev. Joseph Daramola, condemned the threats on Kukah since he spoke on the state of the nation in his Christmas sermon.

The statement came after the presidency had also cautioned an Islamic group that demanded that Kukah should apologise or quit Sokoto State for allegedly attacking Muslims.

The presidency said in a statement by a presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, that it was wrong for the Soko-based group, Muslim Solidarity Forum, to ask Kukah to apologise or leave the seat of the Caliphate over the comment.

Kukah had said that there could have been a coup if a non-northern Muslim president had done a fraction of what Buhari did.

CAN wondered if those threatening the bishop were above the law or sacred cows in the country.

It said, “We have studied the whole Christmas message of Dr. Kukah and we are yet to see any incitement against Islam or non-Christians. We see nothing wrong in his message to the nation that has been under the siege of terrorists, herdsmen, killers, bandits and kidnappers as if there was no government in place.

“We see nothing wrong in telling a government whose lopsided appointments are against Christians the whole truth.

“If criticism against a Muslim president today is an incitement to violence against Islam, it then means those who were criticising the duo of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan when they were in power were actually attacking Christianity.

“When has it become an offence to speak the truth to power? When has it become a crime to criticise a government in the country?”

The CAN wondered why security operatives had failed to arrest those threatening to attack the bishop.

“When did the police and the Directorate of the State Security Services lose their power to miscreants and lawless people who are making boasts of their lawlessness without a challenge? We wonder if those Muslim groups who are threatening to deal with Kukah got an equal response from their Christian counterparts. Are we not setting up the country on fire?”

CAN said threatening Kukah to leave Sokoto amounted to a threat to Christianity worldwide because he was posted there to serve by the Papacy.

“In this same country, we have a Catholic priest whose name is synonymous with President Muhammadu Buhari, yet the Catholic Church has not deemed it fit to sanction him because freedom of speech and association is not only a constitutional matter but godly,” CAN said.

The association called on the security agencies to rise up to their constitutional responsibilities, adding, “Nothing must happen to Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.”

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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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