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Amaechi, Fashola, Lai Mohammed, Onu Set To Retain Seats In Buhari’s Cabinet

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Buhari

There were strong indications last night that between 12 and 15 ex-ministers will join President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet.

It was learnt that the ex-ministers’ names are on the list which was reportedly submitted to Senate President Ahmed Lawan on Wednesday.

But there was still a pall of uncertainty on the size of the cabinet.

The President has the constitutional right to have a 36-man or a 42-man cabinet.

The President is said to have decided to retain some of the ex-ministers on merit.

Those speculated to be on the list last night are ex-Ministers of Justice and AGF Abubakar Malami ( SAN); Adamu Adamu( Education); Hadi Sirika ( Aviation); Zainab Ahmed (Finance); Aisha Abubakar (Women Affairs); Lai Mohammed ( Information); Babatunde Fashola (Works, Power and Housing); Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation); Mohammed Musa Bello( FCT); Suleiman Adamu Kazaure (Water Resources); Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu (Science & Technology); Solomon Dalung (Sports & Youths Development) and others.

Although Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, former governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Niyi Adebayo (Ekiti) and Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos) were also being speculated last night to have made the list, none of our sources could confirm such speculations.

The sources confirmed that some ex-ministers, such as Adebayo Shittu (Communications) and Okechukwu Enelamah (Trade and Industry) lost the battle to return to the cabinet.

A government source said: “I know that the two women ex-ministers are returning to the cabinet. We have a few others who have really added value that the President will be retaining.

“It is not a total overhaul, which you are anticipating. What the President promised was to leave sustainable legacies in his second term.”

As of press time, it was difficult to ascertain whether or not the President of the Senate had received the ministerial list.

A principal officer of the National Assembly said “Lawan dropped a hint that he will receive the list on Wednesday”.

Another source said: “I think the list is already with the Senate President and some officers but they said it will not be made public until Thursday.”

A source in the Presidency simply said: “All things being equal, the Senate will receive the list on Thursday morning. “

It was uncertain whether or not the President will retain the 36- member cabinet in his first term or expand it.

Section 147(1-3), provides that the President should have no fewer than 36 ministers at one per state.

The section reads: “There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.

“Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.

“Any appointment under Subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of Section 14(3) of this Constitution:

”Provided that in giving effect to the Provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state.”

Lawan confirmed on Wednesday that the list of ministers will be out this week.

President Buhari had promised to appoint into his cabinet those who would help him to implement his “Next Level” programmes.

Lawan spoke during plenary on Wednesday, following a Point of Order by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom Northeast).

Akpan, who spoke under personal explanation, prayed the Senate to mount pressure on Buhari to transmit the list to the chamber.

The senator reminded his colleagues that the Senate would embark on its annual recess within the next two weeks.

He stressed the need for Buhari to transmit the list before the recess.

Akpan said: “Mr. President, in view of the yearly long recess the Senate and the House of Representatives will embark upon in two weeks, there is need to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to forward the much expected ministerial list to the Senate for screening and confirmation.

“This is very important because if such list is not made available for the required legislative attention before we embark on the long recess, there will be no ministers and, by extension, the federal cabinet for the President to work with till September.

“Making the list more urgent now from the President before our long recess, is the fact that if it is not made available, the concerted effort being made by both arms of government to return to the yearly budget cycle of January to December will be defeated.

“On this note, I call on the President of the Senate to inform President Muhammadu Buhari of the need for the ministerial list before we embark on recess.”

Lawan said: “Let me, on the strength of this motion, inform the Senate that the Executive arm of government is working very hard on the ministerial list.

“In fact, the list, based on information at my disposal, will be forwarded to us by the President before the end of this week.

“May I, therefore, appeal to us all to be ready to make the necessary sacrifice in terms of sufficient time to be spent in carrying out thorough screening and confirmation of appointments of the expected ministerial nominees.”

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How I Spent N38.8bn Security Votes In 8 Years — Ex-Abia Gov, TA Orji

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Theodore Orji

A former Governor of Abia State, Senator Theodore Ahamefula Orji has furnished the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with details of how he spent his N38.8billion security votes during his eight years in office.

Orji who was in charge of the state between 2007 and 2015 is being investigated by the anti-graft commission for corruption.

He said he collected N38.8billion as security votes during the period and not N48billion as alleged by the EFCC.

Orji who is currently representing Abia Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly said he shared much of the N38billion with members of the state House of Assembly, his security informants and traditional rulers.

He claimed to have also given part of the money to military units,the police,the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and security agencies as what he called statutory allocations.

In a tell-it-all statement to his interrogators, the former governor said he gave successive members of the State House of Assembly N5. 760billion, at N60million per month, in the eight years.

He also claimed to have paid N75million monthly to security informants in 15 of the 17 local government areas of the state within the same period.

The yet-to-be identified informants allegedly pocketed a total of N7.200billion between 2007 and 2015.

Some of the security agencies, according to him, received N2million per month.

However, he told the interrogators that he does not have a comprehensive list of all the beneficiaries of the largesse because the Government House staff who used to disburse the cash is no more.

He gave the man’s name simply as Felix.

Orji said he did not ask for the list from Felix at the expiration of his tenure as governor.

He only issued directives to Felix on how to share the security votes.

He also said he never collected cash either from the Director of Finance or the Cashier in Government House.

The EFCC insists that Orji collected N48billion in eight years.

It has retrieved five huge bags of documents from the relevant desks in Abia State on the ex-governor’s financial transactions.

Based on Orji’s confessions, the EFCC is expected to arraign him in court soon being in what a source described as “a straightforward case.”

The Nation gathered that the former governor made the revelations during a session on oath in the presence of his lawyer, who he referred to as Edmund.

It was the first time Orji would open up after many years of trying to make him respond to allegations against him.

Orji said he received N370million monthly as security votes in 2007 and N410million monthly from 2008 to 2015.

He said that from his assumption of office up to his exit the funds were distributed in cash. “There were also statutory funds to the security agencies,” he was quoted as saying.

He said the first Speaker in 2007 and the last Speaker in his second term confirmed the receipt of N60million monthly from his security votes.

He said the Majority Leader also attested to the receipt of the monthly cash although he claimed he did not know “ how they shared the money.”

He could not explain what the monthly cash to the lawmakers was meant for or remember the exact amount he was giving the traditional rulers monthly.

Orji admitted that all disbursements by the late Felix were based on his directives.

Usually, according to him, the funds were brought by the Director of Finance (DF)in batches.

The DF would then inform the ex-governor on how much had come and would then be kept in the accounts.

Orji would, in turn, issue directive to the late Felix on what to disburse and to whom.

He was quoted as saying “Felix comes to show me how disbursement is made. After disbursement, Felix keeps the list for safety. As I was leaving the Government House, I didn’t ask him for the list.”

He claimed that he never personally collected any cash from the votes whether from the Director of Finance or Government House cashier.

The funds were channelled through Felix “on my directives,” he said.

The EFCC is still working on the charges against Orji.

But a reliable source told The Nation that investigation had “reached an appreciable stage for trial.”

Continuing, the source said: “We have been on this case since March 2017. Our operatives were painstaking in cracking this case.

“We will arraign ex-governor in court any time from now because the charges are ready. The only challenge is COVID-19 but we won’t allow it to affect the arraignment.

“In the face of the law, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court. The onus is on him to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he did not commit the financial recklessness.”

The source said the use of security votes was the first leg of the ongoing probe of Senator Theodore Orji.

The former governor has been under investigation since November 22, 2018 following a petition from a group, Fight Corruption: Save Nigeria Group

In the March 17, 2017 petition, the group alleged that Orji received and diverted various sums of monies that accrued to Abia State while in office.

The breakdown of the amounts allegedly received by him are as follows:

  • N383 billion revenue from federation accounts
  • N55 billion Excess Crude Revenue
  • N2.3 billion Sure – P
  • N1.8 billion Ecological funds
  • N10.5 billion loan from First Bank of Nigeria through the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs.
  • N4 billion Loan from Diamond Bank
  • N12 billion Paris Club refund
  • N2 billion Agricultural loan for farmers
  • N55 billion ASOPADEC.

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Court Orders Atiku To Pay Trader N5 MILLION For Using Her Photo For Advert

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Atiku

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his Campaign Director, Dr Bukola Saraki, to pay N5million in damages to a Lagos trader, Amuda Adeleke, for unauthorised use of her photo on their campaign billboard.

In a suit marked FHC/L/CS/19, Adeleke had told the court that the defendants used her photograph on their campaign billboard without her consent.

Justice Ayokunle Faji, however awarded N5 million to the trader, to be jointly paid by Atiku, Saraki, the PDP and Peter Obi, who was Atiku’s running mate in the poll, The Nation reports.

The trader said this caused her embarrassment and she prayed the court to award N45m against the defendants for infringing on her fundamental right to privacy as enshrined, in the 1999 Constitution.

But after entering judgment in her favour, Justice Faji awarded N5m against the defendants.

In the suit, Adeleke explained that in December 2018, during the build-up to the 2019 general elections, agents of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, led by Saraki, came to Oyin Jolayemi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos to campaign for Atiku and his running mate, Obi.

She said Saraki and his team engaged people on the street, including herself.

Adeleke said she saw members of the campaign train taking photographs during the engagement with the crowd and she thought it was merely to preserve the memory of the event.

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I Oppose Buhari Based On Principle — Fani-Kayode

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femi fani-kayode

Former Minister of Aviation Chief Femi Fani-Kayode said yesterday that he opposed President Muhammadu Buhari’s style based on principle and conviction.

He said that he could not keep mute in the face of the “dark and sinister forces” represented by the administration.

Fani-Kayode, a defector from the All Progressives Congress (APC), said his constant criticisms of the President in the last five years were driven by “the atrocities of herdsmen and Boko Haram, and the tyranny, wickedness, evil, corruption and incompetence of the regime.”

He noted that he had been “humiliated, persecuted, incarcerated and insulted” than most people in the country due to his unrelenting opposition to the Federal Government.

The former minister, who is undergoing trial for alleged corruption, lamented that Nigerians ignored his advice to reject President Buhari at the polls in 2015, saying that they repeated the same mistake by re-electing him in 2019.

Fani-Kayode, son of the controversial former Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) stalwart and Deputy Premier of defunct Western Region, the late Chief Remi Fani-Kayode, said in a statement in Lagos that he chose to speak for the oppressed members of the society.

Noting that his principled position is risky, he said he took pride in exposing and doing damage to the evil forces more than any citizen.

Fani-Kayode said: “I have also spoken up for the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the deprived, the voiceless and the persecuted across ethnic, religious and party lines.

“And I have done all this right under the noses of those in power and not from distant shores or foreign land. That does not, however, mean that I have lost my humanity. That does not mean that I will relish in anyone’s death.

“That does not mean that I will dance on the grave of others because death comes to us all and doing so diminishes us as human beings and makes us little better than beasts.

He added: “For the last 30 years I have written and spoken out against the atrocities and the hegemony that the people of the South and the Middle Belt and the Christian community have suffered in the hands of our collective oppressors since 1914 and over the last 106 years.”

The former minister spoke on past injustices that have not been redressed, stressing that Southeast continued to count the cost of the 30-month old civil war.

He said: “I have also consistently argued that the people of the Southeast were subjected to nothing less than genocide during the civil war and that if we really want peace, we must make the necessary amends and atonement for this and they must be treated in an accommodating, reasonable and compassionate way and with far more decency and sensitivity.”

Fani-Kayode said the Christian minorities in the North, who have been victims of ”ethnic cleansing, mass murder, crimes against humanity and genocide” in the last 60 years should be treated with respect and dignity.

Peeping into the future, he said: “What lies ahead for our country is frightful and chilling because the extremists and hardliners in the Federal Government are now in full control with no one to moderate, restrain or put them in check.”

He added: “What makes it worse is that the President has hidden himself in the Aso Rock bunker and has refused to step out and offer direction or provide strong and purposeful leadership.”

Fani-Kayode alluded to what he described as “a dangerous power vacuum,” stressing that “unless the President has the presence of mind to resign or to step up to the plate, rid us of the nepotism and the ethnic and religious divisions that plague the land, heal our wounds, change his ways and lead us fairly and boldly, it will not end any time soon.”

Fani-Kayode predicted that “the next few months and years will be difficult, harsh, unpredictable, unstable, bloody, vicious, brutish, hard, retrogressive, divisive, nasty, horrendous and nightmarish for our dear country.”

He also said “there will be little respite for anyone because that is all our government has to offer.”

Fani-Kayode warned that “what is likely to happen in Nigeria will make the ugly events that unfolded in Zaire and the Congo DRC over the last few decades and the horrendous events that occurred in Rwanda in the early 90’s look like a child’s play.”

However, he said although his predictions will come to reality, “the only saving grace is that God, and not any man, shall eventually deliver us.”

Fani-Kayode defended his tribute to the deceased Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, saying it does not translate into the abdication of the struggle.

He said those who were against his position on Kyari “are entitled to their opinion and are free to stop reading my contributions and commentaries.”

He said: “Regardless of their disposition towards me, I will continue to hold on to my views and express them. I owe myself, my God and my nation that much if nothing else.”

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