Why I ordered armed herdsmen out of Benue – Ortom

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Thursday said that he ordered the expulsion of armed herdsmen out of his state was to protect the lives and property of his people.

Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, he said that it was incumbent on him to secure the people against any internal and external aggression.

Stressing that he couldn’t have continued watching helplessly while his people were getting killed by the herders, he said that his action is in line with the rule of law.

The governor also disclosed that he had appropriately directed the security agencies to ensure that the armed herdsmen were arrested and prosecuted.

He said: “I ordered armed herdsmen out of my state. They are not friendly to my people. They are killing them and I cannot tolerate that. My job as governor is to provide security for lives and property.

“I cannot watch seeing people being killed unprovoked. It is not right. The only thing my people are living on is farming. When you go to their farmland and destroy their crop and then when they complain you kill them, that will never be acceptable. I will not fold my hands to watch this happen.

“I have told the security men to ensure they arrest of all those who have arms. You are aware that through my amnesty Programme, I was able to disarm the criminal elements in my society because I believe in the rule of law and due process.

“Without the rule of law, there is no way we can govern. A stronger person will come and take over the affairs of the state from where ever you are. And so, we must abide by the rule of law. The impunity is what we should stand up and fight outside from corruption.” he said

He went on: “Another thing is impunity, it is worse than corruption. So, why we are fighting corruption, we just also fight impunity. This is not right. Those armed herdsmen, are they above the law?

“So, the security men must track and arrest them and prosecute them according to the law. I have told my people that as farmers, they have no business carrying arms. And so, I will protect them as long as I am governor is my state.” he said

He also refuted the claims that his directives were not accepted by the Commissioner of police, stressing that they were both on the same page.

“People with arms? The commissioner of police should arrest those people with arms. These are not licensed arms. I was with him when we went to Buruku, he never said anything to contradict what I said earlier. I don’t know where this fabrication is coming from. As far as I am concerned, I am in touch with my security council in Benue State. We meet regularly and all these problems we discuss them when we meet.

“And I as far as I am concerned, we are on the same page to ensure that those weigh arms should be arrested otherwise, they should leave the state”, he said.

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Court refuses Dasuki’s request to merge charges

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama Thursday rejected a request by former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki for a consolidation of two charges pending against him and others before the court.

Ruling Thursday, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf said Dasuki did not substantiate his claim that he will suffer double geopardy should he be tried separately on both charges.

“The allegation of double jeopardy was not substantiated because trial has not commenced in the other matter, so it is premature to consolidate the charges,” the judge said.

Justice Baba-Yusuf also rejected Dasuki’s argument that the simultaneous prosecution of both cases amounted to an abuse of court process.

He said the persons involved in both cases are not the same and the transactions on the two charges were not carried out on the same date.

Dasuki’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN) had, while arguing the application on March 2 this year, urged the court to consolidate consolidate the two charges marked: CR/42/2015: FRN VS Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) & 4 others and CR/43/2015: FRN VS Bashir Yuguda, Sabo Dasuki & 4 others.

Raji said the application was brought pursuant to Sections 211, 212 and 213 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

He said the application was intended to avoid the abuse of court processes and prevented his client from suffering double jeopardy.

Prosecuting lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) opposed the application and said it was unfortunate that Dasuki chose to file the application.

Jacobs, who described the application as an abuse of court’s process, noted that Dasuki filed a similar application dated May 21, 2016 which he was yet to withdraw.

He noted that parties had agreed to have the two cases tried before the same judge, which necessitated a letter from Dasuki’s other lawyer, Joseph Daudu to the Chief Judge of the High Court of the FCT, advising that the two cases be handled by a judge in the interest of speedy dispensation of justice.

Jacobs, who described the application as a ploy to frustrate the trial urged the court to dismiss it.

Justice Baba Yusuf, after his ruling yesterday, adjourned to today for trial.

Dasuki is, in the first charge of 22 counts, named with a former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, his son, Sagir Bafarawa, a former Director of Finance and Administration in the office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda an Sagir’s firm – Dalhatu Investment as defendants.

They are charged, among others, with diverting about N13bn said to have been meant for the purchase of arms.

In the second charge of 19 counts, Dasuki, Salisu, and Aminu Baba-Kusa and Baba-Kusa’s two firms – Acacia Holdings Ltd and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited – are accused of diverting N32bn meant for purchase of arms.

The two cases are now before Justice Baba- Yusuf.

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Ailing Aero Contractors sacks 60 per cent of workforce

Aero Contractors Airline, which is under the management of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), has sacked 60 per cent of its workforce.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that letters of redundancy were issued to the affected employees during the week.

Media Consultant to the airline, Mr Simon Tumba, who confirmed the development in a statement issued on Thursday in Lagos, said the workers would be paid their pension and gratuity.

Tumba said the airline had been grappling with huge and unrealistic personnel cost as well as other operational challenges worsened by lack of enough aircraft to keep all the workers meaningfully engaged.

“The issuance of notification of redundancy is a business decision that will ensure Aero’s survival.

“The current situation where over a thousand people are basically not engaged due to lack of serviceable aircraft is not sustainable for the airline.

“The huge monthly salary associated with a bloated workforce will eventually kill the airline, which is not the intention of the current government,” he said.

According to him, Aero Contractors currently has aircraft-to-employee ratio of 1:500, which analysts believe is perhaps the worse in the history of global airline industry.

Tumba said government’s intervention in Aero was to save it from total collapse therefore, all steps such as this (issuance of redundancy letters) to ensure its survival must be put into consideration to save the airline.

He said :”This decision will immediately reduce the whooping operational cost, which has been stifling Aero; enable the management bring in more aircraft through savings from overheads and pay for C-checks.

“It will also enable Aero have a more manageable and committed workforce in line with international best practices of 50 to 60 personnel to one aircraft unlike what obtains in Aero at the moment.”

He, however, added that those in Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and other essential staff in critical departments would not be affected.

Tumba said Capt. Ado Sanusi, the Chief Executive Officer of Aero, had also assured the workers that they stand a chance of being recalled as soon as the airline increases the number of aircraft in its fleet in the near future.

A part of the redundancy letter made available to NAN read:, “Following the operational challenges of Aero culminating in loss of business opportunities that adversely affected company finances vis-à-vis operations, we are constrained to place you under redundancy pending a possible future review.

“This decision was communicated to the unions where their understanding was solicited in view of prevailing operational difficulties.

“Whilst Aero appreciates your contribution to the company and continues to regard you as worthy ambassadors, we solicit your understanding as we struggle to stabilise operations and rebuild the company.”

However, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) , have kicked against the move by the airline.

Mr Frances Akinjole, General Secretary, ATSSSAN, told NAN that a notification had been sent by the unions to the affected workers not to accept the “purported letter of redundancy “.

“We are totally against it because in the first place, our members are still being owed salaries and we have not even negotiated the redundancy package.

“If they go ahead with this move then the unions are prepared to face them headlong,” he said.


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Obasanjo is the father of corruption in Nigeria – Fayose

For attempting to extricate himself from the web of $1.09 billion Malabu oil deal, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has come under scathing attacks from Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose.

Fayose, in his second tirade against Obasanjo in two weeks, described the former President as “the father of corruption in Nigeria who sits on stolen wealth and lacks moral rights to accuse anyone of corruption.”

While challenging Obasanjo to explain to Nigerians his source of “stupendous wealth”, Fayose in a statement yesterday by his Special Assistant on Public Communication and New Media, Lere Olayinka, attacked Obasanjo for his alleged “holier-than-thou posture”, grandstanding and pontification on issues of corruption.

The chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum claimed that Obasanjo presided over one of the most corrupt administrations in the nation’s history.

He restated his call that the ex-leader should refund the N10 million he (Obasanjo) forced him (Fayose) to donate alongside other 29 governors to his presidential library project in 2005 with interest.

He said: “It smacked of the highest level of hypocrisy for someone like Obasanjo to be sermonizing about corruption, having superintended over a corrupt government himself.

“The former President must come out clean on his roles in the controversial $1.09 billion Malabu Oil deal, instead of warning former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke to stop mentioning his name in the deal.

“It is on record that the out-of-court settlement on the controversial Malabu Oil Block was initiated in 2006 during Obasanjo’s administration. Obasanjo’s accusing anyone of corruption was like “Oyenusi accusing Shina Rambo of armed robbery.

“I challenge the former President to explain to Nigerians the source of his stupendous wealth. We saw how Obasanjo was when he became president and the magnitude of both direct and indirect investments that he has now. Can he in all honesty tell Nigerians that he acquired his wealth through legitimate means?

“Other Nigerians who left offices as President are still relevant to their people, but can the same be said about Obasanjo? Was he useful to the Yoruba race as President and now as former President?

“The bad state that he left major roads linking the Southwest to other zones in Nigeria, especially the Lagos-Ibadan expressway remains a pointer to this. Yet, he goes about postulating as if he is the only honest Nigerians who can make things right in the country.”

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Alleged $9.7 million gift: Court remands Yakubu in prison

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu, to be remanded in Kuje prison until March 21.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the order yesterday after listening to arguments on Yakubu’s bail application, after the ex-NNPC boss was arraigned on a six-count charge.

Justice Mohammed said Yakubu should remain in prison pending when ruling is delivered on his bail application on March 21.

Yakubu, who among others, is charged with money laundering and failure to make full disclosure in relation to the about N3 billion recovered in his Kaduna home, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The ex-NNPC boss, who has been in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the past one week, was brought to court yesterday by the commission.

Shortly after Yakubu took his plea, his lawyer Ahmed Raji informed the court about the pending bail application he filed for his client.

Arguing the application, Raji urged the court to grant his client bail on self-recognisance or on liberal terms.

Raji urged the court to order interim release of the defendant’s international passport to enable him travel abroad for medical treatment.

Raji said Yakubu was about to treat prostate cancer in the United Kingdom, when the EFCC’s invitation came.

He said: “By combined provisions of Sections 158-165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, except in capital offences, an accused is ordinarily entitled to bail.”

Opposing the bail application, prosecution lawyer Ben Ikani urged court not to grant bail to Yakubu on self-recognisance.

Ikani contended that the medical reasons cited by the defence could not hold water as he said the anti-graft agency monitored Yakubu while in detention.

H said: “While under our custody, EFCC monitored his health daily. We have facility and we have been taking care of him.

“We have better medical facilities all around Abuja. That he is sick and wants to go on medical treatment abroad is like a fairy tale because there is no report of experts to ascertain his health status.

“But, if the court is mindful of granting their request, we submit that the court applies stringent conditions to make him appear for trial.

“We plead with the court to refuse granting the defendant bail on self-recognisance,” Ikani.

At the conclusion of argument on the bail application, Justice Mohammed adjourned to March 21 for ruling.

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Senate send Customs boss away for failing to appear in his uniform

The Senate yesterday sent the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), packing from its chamber over his failure to comply with the directive to wear service uniform to the session.

The upper chamber had summoned the Customs boss to appear before it to throw light on the controversial policy on retrospective payment of duty on vehicles.

The invitation also mandated the CG to wear Customs uniform.

In line with the resolution, Ali appeared yesterday.

But, he was left waiting in the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, for about two and half hours.

By exactly 12.05, Ali was ushered into the chamber by Enang following a motion by Senate Leader Ahmed Lawn.

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, reminded Ali why he was invited and went ahead to ask the CG why he did not wear appropriate uniform in line with the directive of the Senate.

The Customs boss acknowledged receipt of the first summon, which required him to appear in Customs uniform, but claimed that the second summon was silent on whether he should appear in uniform or not.

Ekweremadu told him that the second invitation was a reminder that he must appear before the Senate.

Ali responded that on the issue of whether to wear uniform or not, he was seeking legal opinion and asked the Senate to also seek legal advice so that they could operate at the same level.

Ekweremadu then threw the matter to the floor for comments.

Na’Allah, who was the first to speak, reminded the Customs boss that he raised the motion over the policy on retrospective payment of duty on old vehicles.

He said: “I crave your indulgence to try and put a recital with what I can best refer to as unnecessary controversy.

He then referred the Customs CG to relevant Sections of the Customs and Excise Act.

Senator Solomon Adeola (Lagos West) put it more succinctly.

Adeola said: “To start with, this Senate, the highest lawmaking body of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, issued a resolution and the content of the resolution is crystal clear and which states that the Comptroller-General of Customs appear before it in uniform. The resolution still stands and what is happening here today is contrary to the resolution passed by the 109 senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I believe it is only right and proper for the C-G of Customs to comply with that resolution and as you can see here this afternoon, every other person that have followed the CG of Customs into this chamber are fully dressed in their attire as member of the NCS and I want to say this, anybody can dress in mufti and call himself CG.

Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North), in his contribution, noted that having heard what Na’Allah said, the Customs boss should go back and comply before he could be allowed to address that Senate.

Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers South East) reminded Ali that he is the image-maker of the NCS and should work to build the image of the Service he superintends.

Senator Thompson Sekibo said that the business of governance should always be based on rule of law.

He moved that Ali should be given another date on Wednesday to comply with the Senate resolution by wearing appropriate uniform before he could be allowed to address the Senate.

Senator Barnabas Gemade seconded the motion.

The adoption of the motion that the Customs CG should go back and appear on Wednesday in proper uniform was unanimous.

Ekweremadu amplified the resolution, saying: “The Senate observed that the Comptroller-General was not properly dressed. The Senate, therefore, insists to see the Comptroller-General of Customs in uniform on Wednesday, 22 of March at 10a.m. prompt.”

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