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You’re Complicit In Secession Bid, Northern Elders Tell Southern Govs

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The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) on Tuesday accused governors in Southern Nigeria of building “ethnic monsters and hiding behind them to whip up sentiments” in order to achieve their sinister motive.

It also alleged that the governors and some political leaders in the country, who swore to protect the constitution and protect the unity and integrity of Nigeria had surrendered to the secessionists.

In a statement made available to journalists by its spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the forum berated Southern leaders over their recent moves, saying they were making a desperate but futile attempt to split the North along fault lines.

Daily Trust reports that agitations for secession were gathering momentum in the South-West and South-East as exemplified by the unhindered activities of ethnic chauvinists.

For instance, Sunday Igboho, who is championing the actualisation of Oduduwa republic and Nnamdi Kanu who is the leading the agitation for the Biafra republic, were seen as getting the tacit support of some political leaders in the South.

While Igboho is freely moving from one state to the other and holding rallies in public places preaching separatists agenda without any resistance from the chief executives of those states in the South-West, Kanu, who jumped bail after he was accused of treasonable acts, is giving directives for militants loyal to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) who are wreaking havoc on symbols of authority like police stations and INEC offices in the South-East.

The Northern elders believed that the “I-don’t-care-attitude” of the Southern leaders was giving oxygen to regional agitators and sundry criminals to perpetrate evil against the people of Northern extraction living in the South, all in an effort to dismember the region.

Our correspondents report that the 17 governors from the South-South, South-East and South-West had met in Delta State, on May 11, during which they arrived at the widely publicised Asaba Declaration which among other things banned open grazing in their regions.

Pundits believed that the declaration was in bad taste considering that while the governors were all out to frustrate the federal government’s livestock transformation agenda by refusing to give lands for ranching, they nonetheless banned open grazing and indirectly asking Fulani herders to leave all the states as against the letters of the 1999 Constitution.

While disagreeing with the position of the Southern governors, President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement by his media assistant, Malam Garba Shehu, on Monday, described the ban as “questionable legality” and cited the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of our 36 states (and FCT)-regardless of the state of their birth or residence.

‘They want to divide Nigeria’

According to Dr Baba-Ahmed, “It is now clear that elected people sworn to protect the constitution and protect the unity and integrity of Nigeria have decided to surrender to deeply divisive or outrightly irredentist and secessionist tendencies and movements.

“Governors are building ethnic monsters and hiding behind them to whip up sentiments in a crude attempt to extract concessions no one is in a position to give or guarantee.

“A desperate but futile attempt is being made to split the North along lines that suit people who ignore its complexities and plurality when it is convenient to lump all northerners and submit them to humiliation or attacks,” he said.

NEF maintained that it was only national dialogue that could address some pertinent issues in the country.

“In the South-East, governors are yielding their political turf and mandates to secessionists, criminals and subversives who think they can exterminate federal presence and Northerners from the region and achieve dubious political goals related to 2023, or break away from the country.

“In the South-West, elected leaders and pampered ethnic bullies are closing ranks to provide a front that apes the the do-what-we-want-or-we-leave-the-country strategy of the marginalised leaders of the South-East.

“The South-South is squeezed between fear and uncertainty and its leaders are gambling that they can benefit from further weakening the federal administration and the North if it rides along with the rest of the South.

“The forum supports a citizen-driven national dialogue and a campaign to get the government to accord its outcome the respect it deserves.

“The forum extends its hands to groups that genuinely believe that Nigerians should demand and design the type of country we want and should not wait for people we elected to set the boundaries and conditions of our existence.

“The forum restates that the North will not be cowed and stampeded into escorting political ambitions of politicians at the cost of its rights, security and dignity,” the statement said.

The Northern group also advised President Buhari to assert the powers given to him by the constitution to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and its citizens.

Evacuate all herders from south, CNG tells FG

Responding to the position taken by the Southern governors, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), yesterday, asked the federal government to evacuate all herdsmen and their families from the Southern part of the country. The CNG, through its spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in a statement, called on Northern governors to commence preparation to receive the returning Fulani communities and their livestock assets by identifying suitable grazing lands for them and making sufficient allowance for farmers at the same time.

“A study has shown that with all the overhyped hatred for the pastoral communities by the South and their leaders, only ten per cent of herders live in the entire South which can conveniently be accommodated in the North,” Suleiman stated.

The CNG called on President Buhari and the 19 Northern state governors to act now and protect law-abiding members of Fulani communities from falling into traps set by “the aggressive policy of the Southern governors who apparently believe that Fulani have no rights in Nigeria.”

Garba Shehu not speaking for Presidency – Akeredolu

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has said that what the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Malam Garba Shehu said on ban on open grazing was not the position of President Buhari.

Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr Doyin Odebowale, on Tuesday, Akeredolu said the “press statement purporting to represent the position of President Muhammadu Buhari, on the farmer/herder clashes and what he termed as deep-rooted solutions to the herdsmen attacks, is the position of Garba Shehu.”

According to him, “He (Shehu) also attributed a unilateral decision to the President who clears way for ranching and revival of forest reserves as part of the permanent solution to the frequent clashes between them, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding killer-herdsmen.

“Anyone who has been following the utterances of this man, as well as his fellow travellers on the self-deluding, mendacious but potentially dangerous itinerary to anarchy cannot but conclude that he works, assiduously, for extraneous interests whose game plan stands at variance with the expectations of genuine lovers of peaceful coexistence among all the peoples whose ethnic extractions are indigenous to Nigeria,” the statement said.

“Mr Garba must disclose, this day, the real motive(s) of those he serves, definitely not the President. He cannot continue to hide under some opaque, omnibus and dubious directives to create confusion in the polity. The easy recourse to mendacious uppity in pushing a barely disguised pernicious agendum is well understood.

“The declaration that the recommendations of the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, a mere political appointee like Garba Shehu, are now the lasting solutions, which eluded all the elected representatives of the people of the Southern part of the country exposes this man as a pitiable messenger who does not seem to understand the limits of his relevance and charge,” the statement said.

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Anxiety over plans to truncate inauguration of NDDC board

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A group in the Niger Delta region has claimed that some people are desperately working to truncate the inauguration of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The 21st century youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience (21st CYNDAC) raised the alarm yesterday in a statement made available to The Nation.

It would be recalled that the upper legislative chamber on 5th November 2019 screened and cleared 14 of the 15 nominees to the board of the NDDC by President Muhammadu Buhari.

But their inauguration was put on hold to allow for the completion of the comprehensive forensic audit of the Commission.

The report of the audit has since been submitted to the President on 2 September 2021.

Two weeks after submission and no talks of inauguration of members of the boards of the Commission, tongues have started wagging over plans by some powerful persons working to maintain the status quo.

The Commission has been under the control of a Sole Administrator, Effiong Akwa since December 2020.

Reacting to the rumour, the group stressed that the continuous running of the activities of the Commission by a Sole Administrator is inimical to the representation of the various stakeholders in the region and thus is totally rejected.

The group alleged that those behind the scheme are doing it for their own personal interest and not for the good of the region.

Consequently, the group urges President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency inaugurate members of the board already cleared by the senate to deescalate the agitation already going on over the issue.

The statement which was signed by Mr. Izon Ebi leader of 21st CYNDAC reads: “The 21st century youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience (21st CYNDAC) have been made aware of the various underhand tactics been employed by political jobbers to truncate the inauguration of the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC.

“As critical stakeholders, we reiterate our stance that any attempt to truncate the inauguration will bid the region and the Commission no good.

“The attempt by these political jobbers to truncate the inauguration is for their political and pecuniary gains and nothing else, of what benefit will it be for the people and the region? Nobody is talking about the prosecution of people found culpable of the decades-long malfeasance, these rogues masquerading as stakeholders are only interested in planting people in the commission as a means of getting their hands on the cookie jar to fund their lifestyle.

“We use these medium to urge Mr. President to keep to his promise of cleaning the NDDC Augean stable by making the NDDC to benefit the people and the region, any attempt to allow fifth columnists to truncate the work of the forensic audit and further delay in inaugurating the substantive board will be of no benefit to the people and the region.

“The palpable restiveness and tension of the youths in the region is already being felt.  We urge Mr. President to do the needful and deescalate the tension and agitations. The 21st CYNDAC therefore use this medium to urge the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to take his redemption mission of the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC to its logical conclusion by making sure that the substantive board of the commission is sworn in.

“Words on the street is that the minister is more amenable to running a one man show through the sole administrator vehicle which gives him unilateral power over the running of the Commission,  though the 21st CYNDAC are not in tandem with this submission taking cognisance of the forensic audit of the Commission which is more or less the brainchild of the Honourable Minister,  it behooves on the minister to come clean on his plans for the inauguration so as not to give charlatans an avenue to rubbish his noble objectives about the Commission to downsize the board of the Commission is inimical to the representation of the various stakeholders in the region and thus is totally rejected by the 21st century youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience  ( 21st CYNDAC  ) and other stakeholders in the region.”

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Lawyer: We have CCTV evidence of how Kanu was abducted from Kenya

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Details of a N5 billion suit filed by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) against the Kenyan government have hinted on the torture the IPOB leader allegedly went through in the custody of security agents in the East African country.

Kanu’s lawyer, George Wajackoyah, claimed in an audio tape that he had CCTV and other evidence of how his client was abducted in Nairobi, Kenyan capital by the Muhammadu Buhari government.

“We have copies of his passport and a stamp that he was indeed in Kenya. We also have evidence he was in his residence on a particular day.

“We also have material proof that he was at the airport on a particular day to meet a friend and there he was arrested.

“Definitely, he was kidnapped,” Wajackoyah said.

The Kenyan government had strongly denied involvement in the process that led to the arrest and repatriation of Kanu back to Nigeria, with its High Commissioner to Nigeria, Wilfred Machage, describing the claim that Kanu was arrested in the East African country as “deliberately concocted to fuel antagonistic feelings in the minds of certain sections of the Nigerian people against the people of Kenya.”

The high point of Kanu’s ugly experience, according to the law suit, was that he got his body smeared with his own urine and faeces because the security agents allegedly denied him permission to use the toilet.

The suit, which was filed in Umuahia, Abia State by Kanu’s counsel Aloy Ejimakor on September 7, revealed that Kanu was beaten severely until he fainted and was revived with cold water.

The suit is seeking to enforce Kanu’s right to life, dignity of the human person, personal liberty and fair hearing.

The affidavit in support of the originating motion, which was done by Kanu’s brother, Emmanuel, stated: “That the facts and violations deposed to in this affidavit started at the applicant’s residence in Isiama Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State; to wit; the military invasion of the applicant in September 2017 by a combined team of Ohafia-based 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, the Abia State Command of Nigeria Police Force and the Abia State Directorate of the State Security Service.”

“That it was the said invasion that nearly took the life of the applicant that caused him to seek refuge abroad which ultimately to Kenya, where the respondents lawfully pursued him, abducted him, disappeared with him and ultimately brought him to Nigeria and detained him.

“That in October 2015, the applicant was arrested in Lagos upon his return from the United Kingdom, detained in Abuja and ultimately charged for certain offences Charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015 (Federal Republic of Nigeria vs Nnamdi Kanu).

“That the applicant was detained for 18 months, but was later released on bail whereupon he returned to his home in Isiama Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia North, Abia State, and there awaiting his next trial date set for October 2017.

“That on or about 10 September, while the applicant was resting at home with some family members and friends, the Ohafia-based Nigerian Army, police and DSS launched military invasion and assaults at the applicant’s residential building and premises.

“That in the course of the military action, 28 people were killed and several others, including the applicant, were wounded. Both of the applicant’s parents sustained grave injuries from the military invasion and both of them eventually succumbed to those injuries and are now late.

“That in the course of the invasion, the applicant managed to escape to a safe location from where he managed to flee overseas to save his life. That there was neither a court order revoking the applicant’s bail nor any arrest warrant that could have justified the deadly military assault.

“That had the President implemented the provisional measures, the applicant would have felt safe enough to voluntarily end his exile and return to Nigeria to face prosecution in the said charge under reference therein.

“That in the course of his exile, the applicant on or about May 5, 2021, entered the Republic of Kenya on his British passport and was admitted as such at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. After his admission, the applicant settled in at a temporary location in Nairobi, Kenya.”

Giving details of the alleged abduction of Kanu from the East African country as well as his ordeal at the hands of the Nigerian security operatives at a private residence where he was taken to, Emmanuel said: “That on June 19, 2021, the applicant drove himself and without any companion to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, to drop off a friend at the airport.

“That as soon as the applicant pulled to stop at the parking lot and alighted from his vehicle, about twenty respondent’s agents (hereafter abductors) violently accosted and abducted the applicant, handcuffed and blindfolded him, bundled him in a vehicle and sped away, while telling onlookers that the applicant is a “terrorist separatist.”

“That the applicant’s abductors took him to a nondescript private house (not a police station) somewhere in Nairobi, Kenya, and chained him to the floor. That while chained to the floor, the applicant’s abductors took turns to beat him torturing him to a point that he fainted several times and was intermittently revived when they poured cold water on him.

“That to prevent the applicant’s anguished screaming from being heard in the vicinity, the applicant’s abductors tied a cloth over his mouth and so close to covering his nostrils that the applicant struggled to breathe.

“That the applicant remained chained to the floor for eight days and was thus forced to relieve himself of urine and excrement where he was chained with same being smeared all over his body.”

That throughout the duration of the applicant’s captivity, he was not allowed to bathe and was fed only on bland bread once a day and given non-sanitary water to drink.”

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2023: PDP governors split over zoning

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Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, a fresh crisis is brewing in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over which zone should have its presidential ticket.

Since the party was defeated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 to bring its rule for 16 years to an end, it has been struggling to reclaim the presidency without success.

While the opposition party is in the process of holding an elective national convention to elect its new leaders, there are indications that the issue of zoning is tearing it apart.

For months now, there have been severe agitations as to where the presidential ticket of the party should be zoned to, with leaders and chieftains of the party, particularly from the southern part of the country, insisting that the party’s unwritten zoning arrangement be respected and the 2023 presidential ticket zoned exclusively to the South.

It is believed in many quarters that the zoning controversy is at the bottom of the storm that has been the lot of the suspended national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus.

His alleged tacit support for a presidential aspirant from the north in spite of the clamour for power shift is believed to have won him several enemies from his home zone.

However, fresh indications have emerged that anti-zoning forces may have devised new plans to forestall the possibility of the party zoning the presidential ticket to the South.

The Nation gathered that an ongoing process towards the election of a new national chairman for the party is brewing suspicion and creating a fresh crisis within it.

Very reliable party sources said the high number of southern PDP chieftains indicating interest in the national chairmanship while no northerner is showing interest has become a source of worry for pro-zoning agitators within the PDP.

It was gathered that some prominent leaders and chieftains of the party, including governors, National Assembly members and Board of Trustees (BoT) members from the southern zones have expressed dissatisfaction with what they described as an attempt to scheme the zones out of contention for the presidential ticket.

It was also gathered that governors elected on the platform of the PDP are now divided over the zoning issue.

The Nation gathered that while some of them are now openly supporting national chairmanship aspirants from the south, others like Governor Seyi Makinde and Udom Emmanuel of Oyo and Akwa Ibom states respectively are warning that the emergence of a southerner in that position may nail any hope of the region getting the presidential ticket.

An ally of the Oyo State governor explained in a chat with our correspondent yesterday that Makinde’s position is based on his understanding of the practice in PDP.

An aide to the governor said: “A look at previous arrangements revealed that the national chairman and the presidential candidate had never emerged from the same region in the past.

“So, our governor, given his commitment to the southern presidency project, is asking his colleagues for a commitment that the chairmanship is not a bait to stop power from shifting to the South in 2023.

“He is not alone in this. There are other governors with him.”

The Nation however gathered that some other governors have recently proposed that the presidential ticket be thrown open for aspirants from all zones of the country to contest for it. “Their major arguments are that the last president the PDP produced is from the South and it may not be easy to defeat the APC with a presidential candidate from the South So, they have a plan to retain the ticket in the north,” a source claimed.

Finding by our correspondent revealed that majority of southern governors are opposed to the new plan by their colleagues from the north. “Though a couple of southern governors are now being convinced to join the anti zoning push, with offers like the vice presidency and other promises, the majority is still unrelenting in the quest for the ticket in 2023,” a party source said.

Determined to send the message clearly to their colleagues, PDP governors in the south have joined their APC colleagues to insist that the next president of the country should come from the South in 2023, in spite of indications that many of their colleagues are plotting to keep the ticket in the north.

“At the recent meeting of southern governors, PDP governors sent a very strong signal to their colleagues from the north and others opposed to zoning when they openly supported and signed the communique insisting on power shift. The implications are that PDP governors are now poised for showdown over the zoning issue,” our source said.

The Nation also gathered that members of the PDP caucus in the National Assembly are also not on the same page on the zoning issue.

Last week, the Southeast caucus of the PDP NASS met and decided that it will not be part of any arrangement that opposes the zoning of the presidential ticket to the South.

The legislators were responding to alleged moves to give the Southwest the national chairmanship in order to keep the presidential ticket in the north.

“Our position is to put it on record that the chairmanship is not the same as the presidential ticket and that those angling for the seat are not doing so on behalf of the entire south,” our source added.

As the drama continues to unfold, prominent chieftains of the party are urging the gladiators to be careful not to cause an implosion within the party. They have also been expressing fears about the chances of the party in the next general election.

A member of the PDP BoT, while speaking on the current crisis, accused some governors of trying to return the party to its troubled era.

He said: “The plot to give the Southwest the chairmanship so as to block the South from the presidential ticket will fail.

“It is an attempt to destroy the PDP and we must be careful. If PDP wants to win in 2023, we must respect zoning and give the South the ticket.

“I commend the governors that are still standing and I am sure they will prevail.”

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