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Anambra election: Fear, doubts over November polls as Nigerian govt mobilizes against unknown gunmen

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In less than one month, eligible voters in Anambra State will file out to elect a new Governor for the State. There have, however, been controversies over the election as many believe that the election is already threatened. This is because of the spate of violence in the state, which has for months remained sustained.

The first real doubt about the election holding first came in March 2021, when some unidentified gunmen stormed the home town of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Isuofia in Aguata LGA of Anambra State and attacked a gathering where he was speaking with young people about his vision for the state. Soludo is the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for next month’s election.

The gunmen came at a time when Soludo was still struggling as an aspirant to get the ticket of APGA. Even before the attack on Soludo, there have been sustained attacks on federal establishments, including Police Stations, Correctional Centers and burning of vehicles belonging to government establishments, including attack on INEC. The attack on Soludo, however, gave it a political coloration, leaving all with the question of whether the election would hold or not.

In the last few weeks, the level of insecurity in the State has become alarming. It came to the climax penultimate week when Dr. Chike Akunyili, the widower of the late former Minister of Information and former Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Dora Akunyili, was murdered in the most gruesome manner, along with eight others.

Before then, in Ajalli, Orumba North Local Government Area, a police station was attacked and two policemen killed. Also, the vehicle of a member of the House of Representatives and former PDP governorship aspirant, Hon. Chris Azubogu was attacked, and his driver killed.

The gunmen also set ablaze the offices of the Department of State Services (DSS) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Nnewi, Anambra State, leaving two people dead on their trail. Also set ablaze was the Nnewi country home of a Lagos-based chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Joe Igbokwe, and the home of another prominent son of Nnewi and former minister, Dr. Chu Okongwu, which was also invaded and burnt down.

In most of the incidents, eyewitnesses have pointed at the separatist group; Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), even though the group has been struggling to extricate itself from it. Those who have witnessed scenes of attack always say the heavily armed groups have always passed one message for their lucky victims who escaped alive to go and tell the concerned authorities that there will be no election in Anambra State.

Away from IPOB, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been in a war of words over who is responsible for the attacks in the State.

The APC had first accused APGA of not doing enough to stem the tide of insecurity in the state. Senator Andy Uba, the party’s governorship candidate, had accused Governor Willie Obiano of having a hand in the increasing violence in the State for the purpose of putting off the scheduled election.

Uba said with the huge monthly security vote collected by the governor and his wife, the security of the State ought to be better managed. Uba who spoke through the media director of his campaign organisation, Hon. Afam Ogene said: “Each time Gov Obiano clownishly adorns himself in military camouflage, does he do so for mere comic display?”

But in a swift response, APGA stated that by accusing Governor Willie Obiano of having a hand in the insecurity in the state, the APC was indirectly accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of ineptitude, since the president is the Chief Security Officer of the country.

The state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba who also doubles as the Director of Media and Publicity of the Soludo Campaign organization, argued that the “Anambra APC indicts President Buhari anytime it comments gratuitously on a negative security development in the state. President Buhari, not Governor Willie Obiano, is the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces and head of all security agencies in the country. Security is on the Exclusive List of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

“Each of the 36 state governors in the federation is merely the titular chief security officer of his state. No governor has control over the police force or the Department of State Services or the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in his state, let alone any of the Armed Forces. Even the Anambra Vigilante Group (AVG) is supervised by the state police command, like any other state vigilante service,” Adinuba explained.

As the brickbat continues, there have been arguments about whether there will be election in the state or not. Attorney General of the federation, Abubakar Malami reacting to this said the federal government was determined to ensure that elections hold, and that even if it means imposing an emergency rule in Anambra, it will not hesitate.

Malami has, howeve,r been roundly condemned for the statement, with many stating that he has an ulterior motive by making such an utterance, especially, being that he is a member of the APC campaign council in the state.

Governor Willie Obiano who visited President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue said: “I was warmly received today at the State House in Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari. I reported the statement credited to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to him. The Minister had threatened that the federal government will impose a state of emergency on Anambra State over security challenges.

“The President assured me and Ndi Anambra that the federal government is not contemplating taking such drastic action. Rather, President Buhari said that the federal government will increase its support to security agencies operating in Anambra State to contain the challenges. Among other measures, the President said that there will be more booths on the ground”.

Obiano said that President Buhari frowned at those who use his name and that of the federal government to intimidate Anambra voters. “We also discussed the November 6th. 2021 Anambra gubernatorial election. President Buhari assured me that he will not support intimidation of the electorates in any form, and promised that the federal government will support INEC and other agencies connected with the election to ensure the conduct of a free, fair and credible Anambra gubernatorial elections”.

On the feasibility of elections holding in Anambra State, the federal government has responded by launching operation Golden Dawn, not only for Anambra State, but for the entire South east. DAILY POST confirms that there is a massive presence of the military and mobile police operatives in all corners of Anambra State.

Hon Emeka Aforka, a member of the House of Assembly, while reacting said: “Anambra has not recorded death above 15 persons since the new scales of violence in the state. For a state that has for the past 7 years enjoyed well-deserved reputation of being Nigeria’s safest and most peaceful state.

“Anambra has not recorded a fraction of casualties the nation has seen in places like Borno, Zamfara, Katsina, Benue, Plateau, Yobe, Niger, Adamawa, Taraba, amongst others, where terrorists have killed several thousands of civilians and attacked military formations. The bandits operating in Northern part of the country have even brought down some sophisticated combat aircraft, were elections not held successfully in these states in 2019?

“Is the number of victims of the politically motivated violence in Anambra State anything near what the nation has seen even in such states as Imo and Ebonyi controlled by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)? Why hasn’t Malami considered a state of emergency in these APC-controlled states? Anambra will hold its election, and it will be peaceful,” he declared.

Echoing same stand, A human rights Lawyer, Barr Kelechi Eze who spoke with DAILY POST said, “Let us assume that the insecurity continues, have there not been elections in other states in the North, even in the heat of terrorists attacks? I am very confident that elections will hold in Anambra. The state governor has said he is ready for the election, the APGA, APC and even PDP have also said same. So, is it people from other states as the governor has said that will come and destabilize what we are doing here?

“It is a one-state election, and so all focus would be here. I think the federal government can also mobilize to ensure that the state is better protected for the election.”

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‘Tax evasion’: Tribunal okays Multichoice’s N8bn deposit, fixes date to hear appeal against FIRS

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The tax appeal tribunal (TAT) has ruled that Multichoice Nigeria Limited met the conditions necessary to prosecute an appeal against the N1.8 trillion tax levied on it by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

 

Multichoice is the owner of the satellite televisions, DStv and Gotv – popular subscription-based platforms in Nigeria.

 

At the hearing in Lagos on Wednesday, the administrative court said it was satisfied that MultiChoice had complied with the directive by depositing N8 billion — as instructed on the provision of the FIRS Act.

 

Paragraph 15(7)(c) of the fifth schedule of the FIRS Act, 2007 requires an appellant to pay 50 percent of the tax paid the previous year plus 10 percent mark-up as security before prosecuting an appeal.

At the last hearing in September, the FIRS had asked the tribunal to discontinue the hearing of MultiChoice’s appeal and enter judgment against the appellant for failure to pay 50 percent of the disputed N1.8 trillion sum under assessment — about N900 billion.

 

But Multichoice Nigeria Limited said it had complied with the directives of the tax tribunal by depositing an amount required by the law with the FIRS, which according to the company, is N8 billion.

 

Both parties had expressed diverse views on the amount expected to pay as security for prosecuting an appeal before the TAT — as stakeholders, including PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), faulted loopholes in the FIRS Act.

 

Reading the ruling, AB Ahmad, the tribunal chairman, dismissed the contention of the FIRS that the deposit made by MultiChoice amounted to non-compliance with Paragraph 15(7) of the FIRS Act.

 

He said the appellant has shown respect to and complied with the tribunal’s directive.

 

The tribunal also dismissed the argument of the FIRS that the security deposit MultiChoice was required to make should cover 10 consecutive financial years — not just that of the preceding financial year, which is 2019.

 

The tribunal agreed with the position of MultiChoice that the relevant provision of the FIRS Act stated the preceding year and not years — as the FIRS had argued.

The tribunal then fixed November 17, 2021, for the commencement of the hearing of the appeal.

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How 16 Army Generals Were Unjustly Eased Out Of Service, Despite Malami’s Interventions

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Nine Major Generals and 7 Brigadier Generals ‘arbitrarily’ sacked by the Nigerian Army in 2016 for not justifiable reasons have been technically eased out of the service, despite interventions of Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

PRNigeria gathered that the affected generals have reached their run out date this year and cannot be reinstated into the military even after the resolutions of the National Assembly (NASS) and several courts ordered their reinstatements which were flagrantly ignored by the Nigerian Army.

 

The affected military generals were among the 38 Army Officers that were compulsorily retired on 9 June 2016 without any cogent reason.

 

The affected officers ‘technically’ eased out of service while waiting for justice are Major Generals F. O. Alli, E.J. Atewe, I.N. Ijioma, L.C. Ilo, T.C. Ude, L. Wiwa, S.D. Aliyu, M.Y. Ibrahim and O. Ejemai.

The Brigadier Generals arere D. M. Onoyeiveta, A.S.O. Mormoni-Bashir, A.S.H Sa’ad, L.M. Bello, K.A. Essien, B. A. Fiboinumama and I. M. Lawson.

Meanwhile, three brigadier Generals: D. Abdusalam, A. I. Onibasa and G.O. Agachi can still be reinstated as they still have active years to serve.

 

Several attempts by Malami, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to resolve the impasse between the Army Generals and their military authorities were also futile.

 

PRNigeria gathered from credible investigation that the Army Council, then presided by the trio of Mr. Mohammed Mansur Dan-Alli (then Minister for Defence), General AG Olonsakin (then Chief of Defence Staff) and Lt Gen TY Buratai (then Chief of Army Staff) sat and announced the compulsory retirement of the 38 Army officers.

 

The announcement of the compulsory retirement of the 38 officers was made via the media even before the affected officers were eventually informed by text messages of their retirement, sources revealed to PRNigeria.

 

While announcing the compulsory retirement to the media, the Nigerian Army claimed that the 38 Army officers that were compulsorily retired have been investigated and found professionally corrupt in defence procurement and/or election-related offences in the 2015 General Elections.

But one of the sources, with vast knowledge on the case, maintained that none of the 38 Army Officers that were compulsorily retired was ever investigated or court-martialled before their public compulsory retirement.

The source, a senior serving military personnel, who asked not to be named, said: “None of the affected officers was ever at any time before their public compulsory retirement queried, notified of any culpability, or subjected to any military police investigation and none was ever court-martialed – these are the mandatory disciplinary process in the military as recognized by law!

 

“The Army records will show that none of the 38 Army Officers that were compulsorily retired was ever charged with any infraction in accordance with expressed procedures in Armed Forces Act CAP A20 The Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”

Another source, while confiding in PRNigeria, said that after their public retirement, many of the victimized officers wrote to the Army leadership under Lieutenant General Buratai, asking to be furnished with facts that constitute any alleged offense as stated in their respective letters of compulsory retirement, but regrettably, the Army failed to respond to this simple request over 5 years now.

 

“Some of the affected officers also sent letters of redress to both the Senate and the House of Representatives on the victimization of the 38 Army officers. The Nigerian Congress through their respective Public Petition Committees investigated the matter and were shocked that the Army could not provide any allegation of wrongdoing against the officers whose careers were publicly cut short.

 

“After their respective investigations of the matter, both Houses had admonished the Nigerian Army over arbitrary disengagement of officers without any wrongdoing and due process and warned that such abuse of office would discourage serving officers and soldiers from giving their full commitment to the service of the nation. Both chambers of the National Assembly further recommended the immediate reinstatement of the affected officers.

“The resolutions were duly forwarded to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Chief of Army Staff, but these resolutions of Congress have been completely ignored which indicates a deliberate pattern of abuse against these innocent officers,” he said.

 

Checks by PRNigeria indicates that after the refusal of the Nigerian army to reinstate the officers based on the resolutions of the National Assembly and court orders, Malami, through the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, wrote letters and reminders to the military authorities in October 2019, November 2020 and even in February 2021 seeking clarification “over grave acts of injustice and unlawful compulsory retirement from service Senior Officers.”

In one of the letters, which was also sighted by PRNigeria, Malami reminded the Army Chief that he was yet to receive any response for the initial letter he had sent, in order for him to advise Mr. President appropriately.

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Babagana Kingibe: Nigeria’s unity negotiable

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Nigeria’s envoy to Chad and the Lake Chad basin region, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, says the unity of the country is negotiable.

He stated this at The Sun Newspapers 2020 Awards held in Lagos on Saturday.

According to the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), even the union between a husband and wife is negotiable.

But he told separatist agitators that the land they reside would not be carved out and taken to anywhere else should the country break up.

“I was born in Nigeria. I was groomed in Nigeria. I believe in Nigeria. People of my generation believe in Nigeria. We have no doubt about the fact that we have no option, but Nigeria.”

“However, I think that a few of my colleagues believe that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. Of course, it is negotiable. Even the unity of a family is negotiable. Even the constitution of husband and wife is negotiable.

“The moment either parties feels this union is no longer bearable, that he or she will rather go his/her way. You help them to sit down consider their condition after a careful and rational examination of the pros and cons of how to be married that they take the decision which suit them best.

“When we ever say we want to go away, I do not think they realise the going away. It is not that you carve out the piece of land, take it up and put it in other side of Ghana. The piece of land will be here. You will be here. Everybody will be here. And we all want to prosper. My appeal to everyone is, please, let us be respectful of one another. Let us not demonise one another. Let us respect the views of everybody.”

Kingibe, who received the newspaper’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ advised those seeking to leave Nigeria to consider the implications.

“Are you sure where you are going? Are you sure of the consequence of where you are going? Do you really feel that the grass is greener on the other side?”

“If you do, sit with your partner in respect, in mutual respect, in love if possible, but without demonising your husband or your wife because you will always remain the ex of the other person. But discuss quietly so that even if you separate in the future you can inter-relate with love and respect,” he added.

 

 

 

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