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Saraki: South-West/herders crisis, threat to Nigeria’s unity

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Former Senate President Bukola Saraki has called for caution over the herdsmen crises in Ondo and Oyo states.

He said in a statement on Sunday that the developments had raised undue tension in the country.

He said the developments were a major threat to the unity of the country.

“At this point, I strongly appeal to all of us to work for peace and take initiatives that can douse tension. Both the elite and ordinary people have a responsibility to begin to take measures that will reassure the people across board that a united Nigeria will benefit everybody better than a disintegrated country.

“The deafening silence by key stakeholders, leaders and others who we think should speak out is worrisome. This silence is a dangerous tell-tale sign that things are wrong. This is not good for our country. We must all speak out and talk about the solution to this twin-problem of insecurity and threat to national unity.

“We all do not have another country to call our own other than this one country, Nigeria. We need to live in peace with each other and it is my prayer that Almighty God will continue to preserve the unity of the country. I have the conviction that there are many more things that unite us than the few points that cause disagreement among us. Let me use my case as an example of why this country should continue to grow as one united and progressive entity. I am of Fulani origin and have a Yoruba mother. My father was a Muslim and my mother is Christian. Thus, I am affected on all sides by any inter-ethnic tension in this country. I am sure there are many Nigerians that are in a similar situation.

“Also, a united Nigeria is better for the entire world than a disintegrated country. The relevance of Nigeria in the international community is due to her size, population and collective resources. Any attempt at disintegration removes the cloak of importance around Nigeria in the global community. We must all strive to douse the tension and keep our country together. This is definitely not the country we inherited from our forebears and it is not what we intend to pass on to the generation after us,” he said.

Saraki appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to take measures that would reassure Nigerians of a peaceful and progressive Nigeria.

“It is important for President Muhammadu Buhari to rally all interests and everybody at the leadership levels to a round table in order to discuss and find appropriate solutions. Let me reiterate my earlier suggestion that President Buhari should call all relevant politicians and stakeholders together – former heads of states, retired and serving security chiefs, present and former leaders of various arms of government, traditional rulers with relevant experience, experienced youth with the technological know-how to solve security problems and even international civil servants of Nigerian origin who can help. Everybody must be made to contribute ideas on how to save our country from insecurity, disunity and invasion by criminals. Mr. President, please, call everybody together and provide the much-needed leadership to solve the problem. This is a period that requires all hands to be on deck. This is not the time to talk of APC or PDP. It is time for all to work for Nigeria. This is a problem for all and should be solved by all,” he said.

Saraki urged Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila to provide the far-reaching legislative intervention that would help the executive arm in the search for peace.

“The situation is getting worse by the day. Insecurity has become the order of the day and it is fuelling disunity and criminal activities,” Saraki said.

 

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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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