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The Demise of Chadian President, Idriss Déby

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Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world received with great shock the sad news of the death of  Chad’s President, Idriss Déby reported to have  died of injuries following clashes with rebels in the north of the country at the weekend.

The announcement of his death came on Tuesday,  a day after provisional election results projected he would win a sixth term in office.

Following his death,  The government and parliament have been dissolved. A curfew has also been imposed and the borders have been shut. The late Chadian leader  Déby, 68, spent more than three decades in power and was one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

He  died of wounds suffered during a visit to front-line troops battling a little-known rebel group, the military announced Tuesday, just hours after he was declared the winner of a an election that would have given him another six years in power. An Army officer by training, he came to power in 1990 through an armed uprising. He was a long-time ally of France and other Western powers in the battle against jihadist groups in the Sahel region of Africa.

President Déby  had gone to the front line, several hundred kilometres north of the capital N’Djamena, at the weekend to visit troops battling rebels belonging to a group calling itself Fact (the Front for Change and Concord in Chad).A military council led by Mr Déby’s son, a 37-year-old four star general, will govern for the next 18 months.

Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno will lead the council but “free and democratic” elections will be held once the transition period is over, the Army said in its statement. Ahead of the election on  April 11, Mr Déby campaigned on a platform of bringing peace and security to the region.

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But there has been growing discontent  over his government’s management of Chad’s oil resources.In foreign relations under his leadership, his  country sent forces to assist Nigeria in the campaign against Boko Haram. It has been a major player in the G5 Sahel, with troops deployed in Mali and Niger. Chad also holds a big influence over events across its southern border in the Central African Republic.Internally, the government still appears to be in command and will seemingly be headed by Mr Déby’s son.Observers say  the longer term outlook is uncertain. Mr Déby had just been re-elected in a contest that opponents felt was far from democratic. With this in mind, it is not clear whether his successor will be able to sustain an authoritarian system.

 The previous bout of rebel activity had been much further north, in the Sahara and near to the border with Libya. This suggests instability has moved much further south.

There are also deep underlying political, societal and development pressures in Chad that were contained by Mr Déby’s forceful rule but certainly not resolved.Much will depend on whether his son’s military regime will seek to develop dialogue and consensus about the way forward or try and sustain the type of constitutional strongman regime that Mr Déby built.Founded in 2016 by disillusioned former army officers, the rebel Fact group accuses President Déby of repression in the run-up to the election.They built up their base in Libya in the Tibesti mountains, which straddle northern Chad and part of southern Libya.On election day the group mounted an attack on a border post and gradually advanced on N’Djamena the capital.

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The new leader, Deby’s 37-year-old son, Mahamat, is best known as a top commander of the Chadian forces aiding a U.N. peacekeeping mission in northern Mali. The military said Tuesday he now will head an 18-month transitional council following his father’s death.The military called for calm, instituting a 6 p.m. curfew and closing the country’s land and air borders as panic kept many inside their homes in the capital, N’Djamena.

“In the face of this worrying situation, the people of Chad must show their commitment to peace, to stability, and to national cohesion,” Gen. Azem Bermandoa Agouma said.

The circumstances of Deby’s death could not immediately be independently confirmed due to the remote location of the fighting. The government has released few details of its efforts to put down the rebellion in northern Chad. The army said Tuesday that Deby had fought heroically but was wounded in a battle. He was then taken to the capital where he later died of unspecified wounds.As time goes on  details of the Chadian leader’s demise will come to  fore. Nevertheless, Chad and indeed Africa has lost one of its most courageous and pragmatic leaders. Nigeria and its government has lost in Deby, one of its most trusted friends and allies. On the coming to power of President  Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, the Chadian leader was among those  he visited to solicit support in the fight against  insurgency in the Northeast. Deby stood by Nigeria and gave the country the required support , and even on several occasions  he led his military in operations against the insurgents in the Northeast of the country. Nigeria will no doubt miss him for support.. Like some African leaders, his major weakness was staying too long in power. Thirty years in office was too much time for any leader to hold on to power. With the benefit of hindsight,  the attempt to extend his stay after three decades  in office was a great mistake.

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If he left the scene,when the ovation was loudest,  probably, this fate wouldn’t have befallen him. There are even speculations that what happened was a coup d’etat in disguise. Whatever the case,  we enjoin his son, who just took over from him  to embark on reconciliation of the various groups in the country. He should   initiate genuine  talks with the rebels im the bid to restore peace and keep the country together. . Most importantly, efforts should be made to organise free and fair elections in the country, aimed at restoring true democracy at the shortest  possible time.

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VAT War: Lagos, Rivers Lose First Round to FIRS

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Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu
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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has denied the Rivers and Lagos state governments of the rights to collect Value Added Tax (VAT) in their respective states.

The court said the oral application for the restraining order against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) adopted by the states’ legal team, was not acceptable.

A three-man panel of the court, led by Haruna Tsanami, directed the lawyers representing the two states to file a formal application in place of an oral application.

The FIRS had appealed against the judgement of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt empowering the Rivers State government to collect VAT.

The Tsanami-led panel had last Friday ordered parties to the case to maintain status quo, which appeared to be the decision both Rivers and Lagos tried to overturn yesterday.

The court had also adjourned till Thursday for the hearing of an application by Lagos state, not yet officially a party to the suit, to be joined as a respondent to the FIRS’ appeal.

Emotion ran high after Rivers and Lagos legal teams prayed for the restraining order against FIRS at yesterday’s proceedings.

The lawyers on the two sides of the divide had tense back-and-forth arguments over the request for restraining order.

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Rivers and Lagos legal teams, led by Ifedayo Adedipe and Moyosore Onigbanjo, prayed for what they described as “preservative order” restraining the FIRS from collecting VAT and sharing the proceeds to states pending the determination of the substantive appeal.

“My Lords, the appellant (FIRS) collects VAT and shares amongst states of the federation.

“Therefore, if it is not stopped from doing so, and the court finds its action unconstitutional, it will be difficult to recover the VAT proceeds that must have been shared to the States,” Mr Adedipe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said.

Onigbanjo, the Attorney-General of Lagos State, and SAN, canvassed the same line of argument.

According to him, if FIRS is not restrained from collecting VAT and sharing it among the states of the federation, in the event the court finds its action inappropriate at the end of the day, “then it will be difficult to recover the VAT proceeds that must have been shared to the states.”

Reacting to the oral request by Rivers and Lagos lawyers, FIRS lawyer, Mahmud Magaji, also a SAN, faulted the arguments of his opponents in a combative tone.

“My Lords, I think my learned colleagues are testing the patience of the court, when it is clear that their application has no basis,” Mr Magaji said, adding that the Lagos government lacked the right to make such a request when it was yet to be joined as an interested party.This submission drew Onigbanjo’s ire who wanted to reply Magaji, but for the intervention of a member of the Appeal Court panel, cautioning the FIRS lawyer to “exhibit higher sense of decorum in addressing his colleagues

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Plateau Assembly Commends FG Delegations to State

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From Jude Dangwam, Jos

The Plateau State House of Assembly has commended the Federal Government for sending delegations at different levels to facilitate peace in Plateau following the recent serial attacks that claimed many lives and property worth millions of naira destroyed in the state.

They stressed that the presence of the Secretary to the Government of Nigeria, Boss Mustapha (SGF), Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle (SUPO Ayokunle) CAN President, Gen. Lucky Iraboh – Chief of Defence Staff, the Sultan of Sokoto and President Supreme Council for Islamic in Nigeria, His Eminent Mohammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, has gone a long way in reinforcing the confidence of citizens of the state on Government.

The State Assembly states this yesterday through its spokesperson, Hon. Dasun Philip Peter, the Chairman, House Committee on Information at a Media briefing in Josl

They also applauded Governor Simon Lalong for implementing five out of the six resolutions earlier issued to him by the 9th Assembly with a two weeks ultimatum for actions in the interest of citizens of the state.

According to Hon. Dasun “You may recall that the House of Assembly gave two weeks for the Governor to act on its resolutions on Security to address the insecurity challenges affecting the State at that particular time.

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“We felt it is important as an organized institution; we have a duty to communicate back to the people of Plateau State the outcome of the resolution and of the present position of the Assembly.

“We gave a six-item resolution to the Executive Governor to act on within two weeks. He has so far been able to address five of the items remaining one that is ongoing,” he explained.

The Chairman House Committee on Information said the six resolutions were for the Governor to “Visit Yelwa Zangam Community in Jos North and pay the hospital bills of those affected in the conflict.

“Visit to extend relief materials to the Rukuba Irigwe Community, Riyom, Bokkos and Mangu, and to address the people of Plateau on the Security situation and show to people of Plateau state a renewed commitment.

“To improve the security situation in the State by engaging the advance security operatives. To also suspend the planned Adhoc teachers recruitment and to replace it with the Vigilante, and Local hunters as well as implement the Anti Land Grabbing Law to enable those occupying illegal lands on the Plateau to vacate such lands and native owners to take back their lands.”

The Assembly said it will not condone any action that is capable of threatening the peace and progress of the state, as they pledged to continued to stand with the people of the state at all time.

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“We as an institution will not condone any act of insecurity and killings in the Plateau henceforth. As an Arm of Government with the People at heart, we are still putting on record that we stand with the people of Plateau and we give assurances of commitment to the course of Plateau and its heritage.  

“Worthy of note, is the fact that the House is still resolute in support of the Leadership of Rt. Hon. Abok Nuhu Ayuba, our firm Speaker and our Loyalty to him is unshakeable,” he firmly stated.

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Umahi, Uzodinma, Obiano others absent from Southern Governors Meeting

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Four Southeast Governors were absent at the Southern Nigeria Governors Forum meeting winch commenced in Enugu yesterday.

Enugu Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who  hosted the meeting, was the only Governor from the Southeast present at the venue at the time of filling this report.

His counterparts from Abia, Ebonyi and Imo sent representatives while that of Anambra State did not send any representative.

The closed-door meeting, which was being coordinated by Ondo Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredol, commenced with nine Governors and seven deputies.

Other Governors at the meeting were Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Gbenga Oyetola (Osun); Babajide Sanwo-Olu(Lagos); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Duoye Diri (Bayelsa) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).

The Deputy Governors were Prof Evara Esu (Cross River); Udo Okochukwu (Abia); Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti); Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi); Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo); Philip Shuaibu (Edo) and Prof. Placid Njoku (Imo).

The governors first ushered in to a security guard of honour, were later received by Ugwuanyi at the Government Lodge.

Before entering the venue of the meeting, Akeredolu welcomed his fellow governors to the Coal City State and assured the outcome of the meeting would be made known in a communiqué.

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