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Buhari Succumbs, Agrees to Restructure Nigeria

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*NASS, condemns Shiite protests, seeks release of El-Zakzaky

By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

There are indications that President Mohammed Buhari has finally agreed to the restructuring of Nigeria and the operation of true federalism that would see the devolution of powers to federating units.

Buhari had on some occasions demurred to the restructuring of the country on the grounds that its advocates were not on same page over what exactly it would entail for the nation.

Former governor of Ogun State and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Segun Osoba who disclosed this said President Buhari has approved the report of the committee on Devolution of Power and true federalism set up by the APC and chaired Kaduna state Governor, Nasir El-rufai.

The former Governor, who was in the Villa to present his book – “Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics” to Buhari, who featured in it prominently, maintained that the APC even had restructuring as devolution of powers from the Federal Government to States, enshrined in its manifesto.

Osoba therefore, appealed to Nigerians, especially statesmen and other activists agitating for restructuring of the country, to be patient with the President and the APC adding that steps would be taken to get the National Assembly start debate on legalising the relevant aspects of the report.

“But I can tell you, all this noise about restructuring, we APC put devolution of power, true federalism in our manifesto and we’ve moved far from there to where a committee was set up headed by the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai. “That committee has submitted its report, that report has been presented to us in the caucus and the president was there, the president endorsed the outcome. I want Nigerians to please, give us time. 

“I hope and pray that at the right time, the government or the party would send that report to National Assembly for debate.

“I would say with all authority that restructuring lies with National Assembly. The president is not a military president, he cannot change anything by decree, sovereignty in Nigeria now is vested in the National Assembly. 

“Those agitating for sovereign national conference must go through the National Assembly and unless the national assembly surrenders part of its powers by an Act, there can never be sovereign nations conference.”

According to the former governor, agitation for referendum, there must be an act of the national assembly to create that referendum, it’s not the president that would by fiat or by executive order, order for referendum. 

Explaining further he said that the process must go through the National Assembly.

“That is why “I plead with our elders: Pa Edwin Clark, Pa Adebanjo, Professor Banji Akintoyin, all across Nigeria, they met the 8th senate and they heard what that National Assembly has done in terms of the review of the constitution. 

“They should come back and tell us! We can no move forward until we recognize the importance and the powers vested in the National Assembly. And for restructuring, let us go through the legal route.”

He recalled his bow his relationship with President Buhari started saying, “the president and I have been close since the civil, he was a young officer – a lieutenant in the 1st Division. 

“It was the first division that started the civil war from Nsukka end and as fortune would have it, I followed the president to when he was a governor in the north eastern region and became the oil minister. From there on he appointed me on June 12 1984 as the Managing Director of Daily Times. It was the crowing peak of my professional life that prepared me for governance.

“I have written a book in which the president featured a lot even with pictures during the civil war. 

“So I have now come to present the book formally to the President and to autograph it to him. Part of the book was he riding on the train from the north to Ifo, Ogun State to spend his holiday when he was in Form One in 1946.  So we have had some historical reminiscences not just now. “

On what he discussed with the President at the meeting Osoba said MR President asked about the situation in Ogun State.

“I took the time to brief him on the efforts that the governor is making to ensure peace and u it’s in the state. I have told him that governor Dapo Abiodun is starting on a very good note and he said the governor has also briefed him,” he said.

On agriculture he said that President Buhari told him that he has given instruction that the central bank should give Ogun State maximum support in agriculture. 

On politics, Osoba said that he assured Mr President that the incident that occurred in Ogun state would never ever happen again and the president thanked me. 

Speaking further he said that the essence of the visit was to discuss situations in Ogun state and assessment of governor Dapo Abiodun’s administration. 

Asked to clarified on the claim that late Moshood Abiola supported some members of SDP to join Abacha’s military government he said: “there have been a lot of blackmail and denigration of people. For example, people like Jakande, Onagoruwa, late Alex Ibru, they said that they went and collaborated with Abacha which is not true. 

“Solomon La, Abububakar Rimi and all others were all in a meeting in MKO Bashorun Abiola’s house on a Sunday after Abacha seize power on November 17, 1993 and kicked us out, the following Sunday we met in Bashorun MKO Abiola’s house and we debated with chieftains of SDP and we that produced him as president and made June 12 possible and there we agreed that those that may be invited to come and serve in deter to the country, they should serve but remain loyal to the mandate and use their influence to perhaps persuade the military to return the mandate to Abiola. 

“So when people said we didn’t know about those people…. Iyor Cha Ayu was one of them, he was former senate president, I can call many of them who were at the meeting in which MKO Abiola presided. 

“So I have to clear this doubt that Abiola had knowledge and gave approval to serve in Abacha’s government.

Asked if serving in the military government made impact to the return to democracy in 1999, the former governor said, the democracy that we are into today is the one in which Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar presided over. 

Asked what advised he has for the president regarding the ministerial list, Osoba said, “I have said it, I am one of the founders of APC, I would not discuss in details because I have access, I am part of the presidency because the president is our president.”

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives yesterday asked the federal government to as a matter of urgency release the detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. 

Recall that El-Zakzaky was detained following the alleged death of a soldier who died during the December 2015 clash with soldiers and his supporters, (Shiite group).

 His supporters were accused of blocking a major road that was to be used by the army chief Tukur Buratai. However, despite several courts granting him bail; the government has insisted on detaining him. In view of that therefore, his followers have embarked on several protests, demanding his immediate release. Reps urge IGP to flush out bandits, kidnappers from Sokoto.

 The group latest protest took another dimension yesterday as they were accused of shooting and injuring security officials who held them back from entering NASS premises. They were equally accused of damaging vehicles at the National Assembly environment. 

Minority leader, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu, filed a motion calling on his colleagues to investigate the matter and ensure adequate security measures are in place at the legislative chamber. Some of his colleagues, who supported his motion, argued that the circumstances surrounding the matter are similar to what led to the emergence of the Boko Haram terrorists’ group. “If the court has given an order for the release of the man, we should call on the government to release him. The discourse should not be on the invasion of the national assembly alone”, said Onofiok Luke from Akwa Ibom. 

Mr Bamidele Salam from Osun state said El-Zakzaky’s continued detention is injustice and “injustice to one is injustice to all.” 

His words, “I want to urge the federal government to look into the matter of the leader of this movement and allow the rule of law to take its course. “If we are able to secure the national assembly, what happens to the man and woman in the market elsewhere?”. Simon Davou from Plateau state said rather than detain el-Zakzaky against court orders, the government should release him and ensure surveillance, with enough security operatives to monitor his activities.”

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2023 Election:  99 Panels Sat over Petitions – Dongban-Mensem

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By David Torough, Abuja

The 2023 general elections might have come and gone but its memories would continue to linger long in the minds of Nigerians.

The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, on Monday revealed that 99 panels were set up to sit on election petitions in 2023.

Dongban-Mensem, made this known on Monday in Abuja at the opening of a- two-today workshop to review the 2023 Election Petition Tribunals/Court and Appeals.

The workshop was organised in partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES), Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).

Others are the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) , the UK international Development and the European Union.

The workshop, she said, was organised to ensure that the country‘s electoral process excels and also to learn from errors made and ways to proceed in the process better.

”The need to review the judicial process that preceded the election 2023 was very important. It was a very difficult task, very challenging at the same time.

”A total of 99 panels were set up with three judges sitting in each of them drawn from high courts.

”That was a huge number of judges taken out of our judicial system and dedicated to the electoral process.

”This workshop is important because we are dedicated and committed to ensuring that our electoral process excels.

”We want to learn from our errors, we want to discuss what we found as wrong with our legislation during this election having tried and applied the provisions.

”We are now in the position to say whether or not those provisions can actually move our electoral process forward” she said.

She expressed appreciation to the justices of the court of appeal, judges of the high courts and customary courts; she also thanked development partners for their commitment.

Similarly, the Attorney General of the Federation and minister of justice, Lateef Fagbemi, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in his remarks, commended the judiciary for the stabilising role it plays in the electoral process as a nation.

He noted that the Court of Appeal in particular, plays a more pivotal role in shaping and strengthening the electoral jurisprudence, through the exercise of its constitutional mandate in that regard.

”I would like to note that the vision of this workshop which is targeted at promoting judicial excellence, electoral integrity, and democratic governance, accords with the vision of the current administration in the areas of advancing judicial reforms and good governance.

”I am confident that the array of diverse and esteemed judicial icons, legal minds, electoral experts, and other stakeholders will no doubt satisfactorily dissect the issues arising from the theme of this workshop.

” I therefore look forward to the resolutions of this workshop to provide further guidance for me in my commitment to enhancing the quality of administration of justice and adherence to democratic principles in our country.

”Once again, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the President of the Court of Appeal, IFES and PLAC for the vision, leadership, and dedication to promoting judicial excellence and electoral integrity.

”I also commend all our noble lordships who served either as Chairman or members of the various election petition tribunals/courts, for their hard work and commitment to the course of justice and national development” he said.

The chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola noted that political matters always tend to occupy the front burners of the adjudicatory activities.

He added as all existing electoral laws have placed some time frame within which they must be heard and decided.

”So many things have been thrown up in the course of the various adjudications that took place at the different tribunals and courts that we now have to serve on our workshop table for intense rumination and digestion, as it were.

”This workshop is no doubt coming at the most auspicious time. It will, undoubtedly offer us the rare opportunity to review those things that we may have done at our various levels which may not have been done with the best of intention and professionalism.

” Like they always say, it is better late than never. Every given opportunity in life offers us a free ticket to do something novel and more impactful, especially misapplication of discretion.

On his part, executive director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre Clement Nwankwo, said the outcome of the judgments was preserved by the citizens’ matters.

He noted that when the election umpire fails the judiciary should stand to correct.

” Review of the past election is very important, review is meant to make us know how to move next time.

”As judges, I know you are guided by the law, the perception and interpretation make the judiciary more prominent.

”You should be able to look at what was done, the judgments given and the decisions taken to ensure that it will be seen as justice,” he said.

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Mutfwang Declares War against Land Invaders in Plateau

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From Jude Dangwam, Jos

The Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang has declared that the state would not surrender any of its land to any violent body or group.

Mufwang reiterated his commitment in providing adequate securities to farmers across troubled communities in order to boost food production in the state.

He said this while addressing Berom Nation at the 2024 Nzem Berom Cultural Festival held at the famous Rwang Pam Township Stadium at the weekend in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

Mufwang said the State plays a key role in contributing to national food security and as such machineries have since been put in place to safeguard farmers in this year’s farming season.

“Plateau people are not beggars; if nobody supports us, we don’t ourselves. This resilience kept us together over the years despite the attacks.

“And that is why today; the contribution of the people of Plateau State to the national food basket cannot be underestimated. If not for food that comes from Plateau State, Nigeria will go hungry.

“In the coming days, we will stand shoulder to shoulder to resist those who seek to decimate us, we will stand shoulder to shoulder to protect the land that God has given us for inheritance. Though the giants may be on our way to hinder but God will give us victory, God will be with us as He has always over the years,” he stated

He added, “this year, we are making arrangements to beef up the security around our farmlands, I therefore urged you to go back to the farm, we will not surrender the farmlands to anyone.

“We are trusting God that security will begin to move round and make sure that our people go to the farm and return safely. By the grace of God, we will continue to work with the security agencies on ground and make sure they do their jobs better and better.” He noted

He commended the Berom Nation for their doggedness and determination to add value to their society with the launching and fund raising for the building of a training hub to complement government efforts as a people.

The Governor further appealed to citizens of the state who have gotten fertilizer not to resale them but make good use of the fertilizers on their farms, adding that the state is expecting a little more from the federal government and only verified farmers will have access to them.

Mutfwang promised to redeem the pledges made four years ago to the Berom Nation by the last administration of Simon Lalong at the turn of N25mn.

He equally announced his personal support to the “Wurom Legacy Trust Fund” to support the training of 75 young women, and 75 young men at the Hub respectively.

The President of the Plateau State Council of Chiefs and the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba appealed for adequate protection of his people as they returned back to their ancestral land to cultivate which were earlier displaced from.

“Our people have gone back to their lands to continue the age-old traditions of farming. We will appeal that the security works with the government of Plateau state to ensure protection for the people so that we can produce the food that we will need to sustain our lives, not only in Plateau state, but in Nigeria as a whole,” he stated

The Royal father lamented that prices of food have been so disturbing because the demand has kept rising on a daily basis with the supply being shut down by the displacement of locals at various locations in the state.

“The food supply has been shut, not because our people are lazy, but because of the insecurity. And so we will appeal for security so that we can continue to farm and feed our people accordingly.

“We will also appeal to the government to ensure the peaceful coexistence of the people of Plateau State. But like I said, the lands that each ethnic nationality occupies was given by God,” Buba reiterated

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Again, TAJBank Wins ‘Best Islamic Bank Award’

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

TAJBank Limited, Nigeria’s fastest-growing non-interest banking services provider, has won the Islamic Finance News’ (IFN’s) “Best Islamic Bank in Nigeria 2023”, beating other nominees from across the global geopolitical zones in the competition.

The IFN’s Organizing Committee stated that the award was conferred on TAJBank in recognition of its superior value-adding, world-class products and innovative service delivery to non-interest banking customers globally.

In his acceptance speech, the bank’s Founder/CEO, Mr. Hamid Joda, commended the IFN’s Committee for the global recognition, saying “the Board and management of TAJBank are grateful for recognizing our bank as an emerging frontline player in the global Islamic banking landscape and my humble self for the IFN Award for 2023.

“As we keep saying, these awards and several others TAJBank has received in the past three years will further encourage us to do more in surpassing the expectations of our growing customers in terms of quality products and service delivery for invaluable value-addition to them and their businesses”, Joda added.

Also commenting on the IFN 2023 awards, the bank’s Co-Founder/Executive Director, Mr. Sherif Idi, lauded “the IFN for the award and our customers for their growing confidence in TAJBank to deliver superior products and services with, in some cases, personalized touches to confirm to them that our only interest is in them.”

The IFN Organizing Committee commended the TAJBank for hard work, persistence, and innovative strategies that enables the bank to make giant strides despite the whirlwinds in the Nigerian economy.

The selection of winners for the 2023 IFN competition was conducted by the IFN Organizing Committee with support from the Redmoney Group, the foremost global provider of specialized Islamic financial media services across three core divisions of events, publishing, and training.

It would be recalled that TAJBank had won the BusinessDay newspaper’s ‘Islamic Bank of The Year’ awards for 2021, 2022 and 2023 and before then clinched the Leadership newspapers’ ‘Bank Of The Year Award’ in 2020, amongst other laurels since it commenced operations three years ago. 

In recognition of the non-interest lender’s strict compliance with global best practices, particularly in information security standards in all areas of its operations, TAJBank in 2022 received the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) certification and three International Standards Organization (ISO) certifications by the Certification Partner Global (CPG), namely ISO 27001, ISO 22301, and ISO 20000 on Information Security, Business Continuity, and IT Service Management Systems.

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