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Armed Soldiers Shut Daily Trust, Arrest Editor, Reporter |The Republican News

Armed soldiers invaded Daily Trusthead office in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, hours after taking over the newspaper’s regional office in Maiduguri, Borno State and arrested the Regional Editor, Uthman Abubakar and a reporter, Ibrahim Sawab.

They demanded to see some senior staff, among whom was the Political Editor, Hamza Idris.

At the Abuja headquarters of the newspaper, they reportedly forced the gate open and drove in with three Jokic vans loaded with armed soldiers.

Everyone in the building was asked to move to the ground floor while they moved the newspaper’s computers.

Last night, security operatives sealed up the premises of Media Trust Limited, publisher of Daily Trust newspaper; over Boko Haram stories.

The operatives, led by a Second Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army, arrived the Utako, Abuja premises at 6:00pm, with scores of soldiers and plain-cloth personnel. They immediately demanded to see some staff. The soldiers wore masks and cordoned off the Mafeni Crescent, off Solomon Lar Street of the newspaper.

Staff of the organisation, who gathered in group outside the office, told Daily Sun that the operatives,
on arrival, asked them to converge at the front yard of the office. After that, the soldiers, reportedly disconnected computers in the office, assembled and loaded them into their vehicles and drove away.

A statement by the Deputy Managing Director of the organisation, Mahmud Jega, said the soldiers still laid siege to the newspaper’s office, as at yesterday night.

Jega said: “Armed soldiers in several vehicles have laid siege to Daily Trust headquarters in Abuja. They have surrounded the premises, dismissed the Mobile Police guards and do not allow entry or exit. “

“Soldiers had earlier today (yesterday) entered Daily Trust’s office in Maiduguri and arrested two reporters, including the Bureau Chief, Usman Abubakar. They say it is regarding today’s lead story of Daily Trust on Sunday. Production has stopped.”

As at 8.30 pm soldiers were still manning the entrance and premises of the newspaper at Utako. Several staff of the organisation gathered in groups, on the street, and discussed the development. Meanwhile, the Lagos Bureau Office of the newspaper, was also, yesterday night, taken over by a combination of armed military and police officers.

The security operatives had earlier in the day besieged and shut down the Borno regional office of the news publication before arresting the regional editor and a reporter.

At about 9:00pm, seven security operatives’ vehicles were stationed within and outside the Lagos office premises situated at the Textile Labour House on Acme Road, Agidingbi, Ikeja.

Of the seven vehicles, two Hilux vans and one Rapid Response Squad (RRS) car were situated right in front of the Bureau office.

Four other Hilux vans were situated at the other side of the road, facing TheNews publishing house, a stone throw from Media Trust office.

About 15 soldiers and police officers were seen angling around the premises; as at the time of filing this report.

But, Defence Spokesman, Brigadier-General John Agim, described the newspaper’s Sunday publication as unpatriotic and capable of undermining the war against Boko Haram.

He told Daily Sun that the newspaper published highly classified details about a Boko Haram operation; which could ultimately hinder the war against insurgency.

In a development yesterday night, the Federal Government ordered the military to vacate Daily Trust’s offices.  (The Sun)

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EXPOSED: Leaked Tapes: ‘Nigerians Are Hungry, Crying, Poverty Growing |RN

Amaechi: I’m not aware of any recording

Though the veracity of the tapes is still not clear, Amaechi was heard in the recording saying the Buhari administration has brought misery to Nigerians.

Aidoghie Paulinus and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, (with agency report)

Controversy has continued to trail leaked audio tapes exposing where Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, allegedly lamented the situation in the country under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Although the veracity of the tapes is still not clear, Amaechi was heard, in the audio recording, figuratively saying the Buhari administration has brought only misery, poverty and hunger to Nigerians.

In the audio recording, shared with PREMIUM TIMES, by spokesperson for the Atiku Abubakar Campaign, Phrank Shaibu, Amaechi, who is director general of Buhari’s Presidential Campaign Organisation, said in the three years Buhari has been in power, Nigerians are lamenting.

He said in the audio recording: “These are not things you publish ooo. If you publish them, you will never sit with me any day.

“Three years of Buhari oo, everybody is crying, crying…pressmen are crying, farmers are crying, workers are crying, politicians are crying, students are crying, three years oo!

“The rate of poverty is very high. The people are hungry. Nigeria will divide!”

The audio recording presented Amaechi as describing the president as a leader who neither listens nor cares about what is written about him, as the voice said: “The president does not listen to anybody. He doesn’t care. You can write what you want to write. The president doesn’t care. Does he read? He will read, he will laugh. He will say ‘come, come and see, they are abusing me here’. In fact, there was one case of somebody in Onitsha, a trader in Onitsha who couldn’t sell his goats during Sallah; and, I was with Oga on the plane and the man was busy abusing Buhari. He said, ‘Amaechi, come, what is my business with Onitsha goat seller?’”

Reacting to the audio recording, Amaechi dismissed it, saying he was not aware of such audio now being played on several internet platforms.

He vehemently denied knowledge of any audio recording to Daily Sun, yesterday evening.

“I am not aware of any audio recording.”

Further told that the audio is gaining momentum on different online websites, the immediate past governor of Rivers State said: “Do I do website?”

Meanwhile, the PDP has said that Amaechi has a huge responsibility to defend himself on the alleged audio tape.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told reporters in Abuja, yesterday, that if the president believes the alleged tape is normal, it is not the business of the opposition party.

“What is out in the public domain is just a demonstration to Nigerians about the lies, deceptions, contrivances and beguilement that APC deployed to win the 2015 election.

“It shows that they have no plans, no agenda, no vision in whatever form as far as governance is concerned for Nigerians…”    (The Sun)

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Britain Went Ahead To Seek Arms Deals With Saudi Arabia After Murder Of Khashoggi Which It Condemned |RN

Theresa May standing next to a vase of flowers on a table       © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited 

 

The British government pursued arms deals with Saudi Arabia in the weeks after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, even as it publicly condemned the murder.

Khashoggi was killed by Saudi officials inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, prompting global condemnation and calls for a re-evaluation of ties with the Kingdom.

As the UK government called for answers over the dissident’s death, British trade officials responsible for arms sales continued to hold high-level meetings with their Saudi counterparts.

A delegation from the Defence and Security Organisation – an office within the Department for International Trade that promotes arms exports for UK companies – travelled to Riyadh on 14 and 22 October, according to a Freedom of Information request obtained by the Mirror newspaper.

The latter of those meetings came on the same day as the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, condemned Khashoggi’s killing “in the strongest possible terms” in a speech to parliament.

“Whilst we will be thoughtful and considered in our response, I have also been clear that if the appalling stories we are reading turn out to be true, they are fundamentally incompatible with our values and we will act accordingly,” Mr Hunt said on October 22.

The foreign secretary made a point of announcing the cancellation of a planned visit to Riyadh by the trade secretary, Liam Fox. However, he did not disclose that meetings over arms sales were still taking place.

Even before the murder of Khashoggi, the UK government had been under pressure to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia over alleged war crimes and rising civilian casualties in Yemen.

Riyadh intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to reinstate the internationally recognised government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was ousted by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The fighting has killed at least 10,000 civilians – most of whom were victims of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition – and left nearly 16 million people on the brink of famine.

The coalition has admitted causing civilian casualties, but attributes the deaths to “unintentional mistakes”, and says it is committed to upholding international law. The Houthis have also targeted civilians throughout the conflict, according to the UN.

Since the war began, the UK has licensed £4.7 billion worth of weapons to Saudi forces, making it by far the largest buyer of UK arms. Khashoggi’s killing brought new pressure on the British government to reassess its ties to Saudi Arabia, after Germany and Norway halted all future arms sales to Riyadh.

“Jeremy Hunt was quick to join the condemnations of the killing, but he has done nothing to stop the arms sales. How many more atrocities and abuses would it take for him to act?” said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade.

“It has used these weapons to devastating effect in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition have inflicted the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was yet another appalling crime by the Saudi authorities.”

Even as more evidence has emerged pointing to the culpability of the Saudi government in Khashoggi’s killing, the UK appears to have made no substantial change to its relationship.

British prime minister Theresa May held face-to-face talks last month with Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de-facto leader whose close aides carried out the killing and subsequently attempted to cover it up.

The prime minister said she stressed “the importance of a full, transparent and credible investigation into the terrible murder” during her meeting with the Crown Prince at the G20 summit in Argentina. But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Ms May of not following through with action.

“Rather than be robust, as she promised, we learned the Prime Minister told the dictator ‘please don’t use the weapons we are selling you in the war you’re waging’ and asked him nicely to investigate the murder he allegedly ordered,” Mr Corbyn said last month.

“Leaders should not just offer warm words against human rights atrocities but back up their words with action,” he added.

Mr Hunt has defended arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing Britain’s “important strategic partnership” with the country “which has saved lives on the streets of Britain.”

The Saudi meetings are not the first time that Britain has been criticised for putting trade before human rights concerns. British academic Matthew Hedges was detained for months in the United Arab Emirates and accused of spying on behalf of the UK.

During the five months Mr Hedges was held in solitary confinement, Mr Hunt called the arrest “appalling” and criticised the UAE publicly. Behind the scenes, however, high-level trade meetings continued apace. Liam Fox, the trade secretary, Baroness Rona Fairhead, UK Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion and Alistair Burt, Britain’s Minister for the Middle East, all met with UAE officials to drum up trade between the two countries.

Polly Truscott, Amnesty International UK’s foreign affairs expert, told The Independent in November that the UK has “long given the impression that security and trade interests trump human rights concerns in the UAE.”

“With Matthew Hedges’ case, it almost seems to have come as a surprise to the government that the UAE actually locks up people after deeply unfair trials,” she said.

The Freedom of Information request by the Mirror found that the 14 October talks focused on “Riyadh Operations Centre requirements,” which is likely a reference to the operations centre where Saudi strikes against Yemen are coordinated.

Commenting on the meetings with Saudi officials, a government spokesperson told The Independent: “The government takes its export responsibilities very seriously, operating one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. Risks around human rights abuses are a key part of any licensing assessment.

“Visits by officials from the UK will continue to play a role in maintaining our relationship with Saudi Arabia including in how we work together to tackle regional threats, and support mutual national security and prosperity interests.”

(Independent)

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I Dropped Out Of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ogun APC Guber Candidate Admits

Dapo-Abiodun
                                                        Dapo Abiodun

Tobi Aworinde  and Tunji Bosun

 

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, has said the contention over his academic credentials is an attempt at mudslinging, adding that he never claimed to have graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife).

A suit filed earlier this month at a High Court in Abuja sought Abiodun’s disqualification from the governorship race for allegedly giving “false information” in the academic qualification he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission

Abiodun, in an appearance on Sunday Politics, a live programme on Channels Television, however, said he had never misrepresented his educational credentials to anyone.

The APC candidate stated, “I never claimed to have finished from the University of Ife (now OAU). I did go to school in Ife. I went to school in the University of Ife but I didn’t graduate from the University of Ife. I never claimed to have obtained a degree from the University of Ife.”

When asked specifically about the Bachelor of Arts in Accounting degree he claimed to have, Abiodun said he would not comment further.

When also asked to state the school he earned his degree from, the APC candidate said doing so would not be proper since the matter was in court.

“But that (degree) is not from Ife. This has all been an attempt to mudsling and confuse the electorate, and it’s bundled with a lot of half-truths.

“I never claimed to have studied Accounting at the University of Ife. I never claimed to have graduated from the University of Ife. So, this issue has been presented as the presenter wanted it presented. I do have a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and I would like to stop at that.

“The electorate know that I went to school and I have not misrepresented to anyone about my degrees. But it would be convenient for those who are intimidated and afraid of my electoral success to continue to attempt to disparage me and to present the matter as falsely as it suits them. The facts are being distorted but we will leave the matter since it is in court.”

Abiodun also said the APC chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was not responsible for his victory at the party’s primary in Ogun State as reported in some quarters.

The APC candidate has been rejected by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who has endorsed Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement as his candidate.

Abiodun further denied claims that he won the primary as a result of his alleged closeness to Tinubu and a former Ogun State governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba.

He said, “These are accusations that have been thrown all over the place and it is not unusual in politics for people to mudsling and say things to try and bring the other person down. It’s convenient for people to say one is favoured.

“I don’t see how Asiwaju, who is our leader, favouring me, had influenced the elections. I never saw any endorsement before my election.

“Chief Osoba is the leader of the party in the state. He took me by the hand because I am now the candidate of the party, so everybody in the party must now support me. That is the way it works. The governor (Ibikunle Amosun) has chosen not to support me. Ideally, my governor and I should be on the same page.

“So, if you have emerged through a process and you have now become the candidate of the party, everybody who is your leader in that party in that state (and) outside that state, in that geopolitical zone, should be supporting you. Anyone not supporting you amounts to something else.”

Asked to confirm if he was the favourite of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, in the primary, Abiodun said, “I don’t know about ‘favoured candidate.’ I don’t think primary elections are won by favoured candidates. Adams Oshiomhole did not come to conduct my elections in Ogun. I don’t see how anyone would begin to accuse Adams Oshiomhole as favouring me in place of some other persons.”  (Punch)

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Expect Unimaginable Hardship In 2019, As Never Seen In History, Fr. Mbaka Tells Nigerians

Raphael Ede, Enugu

The Spiritual Director, Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Nigeria (AMEN), Reverend Fr. Ejike Mbaka, has charged Nigerians to pray hard to overcome what he called ‘impending unimaginable difficulty’ this year.

Fr. Mbaka stated this in the early hours of Tuesday during his New Year prophetic message.

He said that the type of difficulty the country is going to face is such that has not been witnessed in its 58 years history.

While praying for the country and its leaders, the outspoken Catholic priest enjoined Nigerians to support President Muhammad Buhari to continue his fight against corruption, noting that the Catholic Church supports the fight against corruption and that was why she created ‘prayers against bribery and corruption’.

“A President that is fighting corruption needs to be supported”, he stated.

This year’s Cross Over programme at Fr. Mbaka’s church seemed to have attracted the highest number of worshippers ever, even as Daily Sun observed that the prophetic message which most times came around 2:00am was delivered around 5:00am by the priest.  (The Sun)

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How Atiku Left Nigeria Customs 30 Years Ago |The Republican News

Atiku-Abubakar2
Atiku Abubakar in Sokoto.

About six weeks to the 2019 presidential election, most Nigerians are probably unaware of the circumstances under which one of the frontrunners, Atiku Abubakar, left his first public service career 30 years ago.

Mr Abubakar is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on which platform he served as vice president between 1999 and 2007. He has also been adopted by about four dozen minor parties under the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), making him the main challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking re-election on the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)

Mr Abubakar will be standing in the crucial election almost three decades after he left the then Department of Customs and Excise on April 30, 1989, over his disappointment at being denied the top position in the agency; and the lure of politics.

He had joined the agency as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent on June 30, 1969, a few weeks after taking a diploma in Law at the Institute of Administration of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

When he joined the Customs at the age of 23 years, he had drawn a graph anticipating his career progression from Cadet to heading the agency by age 40.

“I told myself that if by the time I was 40 years old I did not head the organisation, I would quit,” Mr Abubakar said in his authorised biography, ATIKU: The Story of Atiku Abubakar. The 338-page book was written and published in 2006 by the late Adinoyi Onukaba, who at the time was Mr Abubakar’s Senior Special Assistant on Media.

According to the accounts of Mr Onukaba, who died in 2017 while trying to escape a roadblock by armed robbers in Ondo State, Mr Abubakar’s joining the Customs was fortuitous.

Fortuitous entrance into Customs

It was the period of the Nigerian civil war which broke out in 1967 as an immediate consequence of the first military coup of January 15, 1966, that sacked the Nigerian First Republic and the counter-coup that followed six months later.

“As the war raged on, some radical university students did not feel comfortable with the general indifference of Nigerian students to the unfolding tragedy in the country,” Mr Onukaba stated in the book.

“They began to mobilise their colleagues in support of the war to keep Nigeria one. There were demonstrations by students in support of the Federal Government. From Zaria, Atiku and other students marched to Kaduna to demonstrate against French support for Biafra. Twice they were arrested and detained briefly by the police.

“One day after participating in a protest in front of the French Consulate in Kaduna, Atiku marched off to the headquarters of the First Division of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna to sign up for the war. He told the recruiting officers to take him, that he was ready to go to the war front to fight. The officers took a long look at him and then dismissed him: ‘We are looking for school certificate holders and not undergraduates.’

“Atiku, frustrated and disappointed, headed back to Zaria.

“Before completing his diploma in Law programme in June 1969, a team from the Federal Civil Service Commission came on a recruitment drive to the university. The departure of Ibo from the Federal Civil Service and federal agencies and parastatals had left many vacancies. The team was touring Nigerian universities to interview graduating students interested in filling up such vacant positions.

“Atiku attended the interview. By chance one of the interviewers found in his file a report that he had been found suitable to join the police force and had in fact received some training in 1966. This information was brought to the attention of the chairman of the interview panel who promptly ruled: ‘O.k., you go to the Department of Customs and Excise.’

Atiku Abubakar’s early years in the Nigeria Customs and his marriage to Titi Abubakar

“That was how Atiku joined the Customs in June 1966.”

Bitter Disappointment

Fast-forward to 18 years later in 1987 and Mr Abubakar was appointed Deputy Director of Customs and Excise in charge of Enforcement and Drugs.

As one of the six deputy directors, he was in the line of succession to the post of Director, as the head of the agency was then known. The incumbent, Abubakar Musa, was his friend but their relationship was no longer cordial.

“Despite having played a role in Musa’s appointment by lobbying two key ministers (in the Second Republic), Ali Baba and Abubakar Iro Dan Musa, Atiku felt that as Director of Customs Musa surrounded himself with people who were telling him that he (Atiku) was after his job.

“For eight years Atiku was kept on one rank – Assistant Comptroller. He was disappointed that his friend could allow people to come in between them and destroy a relationship of many years. It was only after Musa was retired that Atiku was able to move up.

“He was promoted thrice – from Assistant Comptroller to Deputy Comptroller, Comptroller and Deputy Director – on the same day by the then Minister of Internal Affairs, Brigadier John Shagaya, who oversaw Customs following the removal of Customs from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

“In the unending reorganisation of the Department by successive governments, the Customs, Immigration and Prison Service Board (CIPB) was established with the Minister of Internal Affairs as Chairman. The Board was responsible for appointment, promotion and disciplining of Customs staff.

“In February 1988, the post of Director of Customs was moved from Level 16 to 17 while the six Deputy Directors were moved from Level 15 to 16. In addition, 18 Assistant Director positions were created on Level 15 and six zonal commands were set up as part of the decentralization of the service, which was aimed at facilitating quick decision-making.”

Mr Abubakar hoped to be appointed Director after Mr Musa retired from service and Mr Shagaya recommended him for the appointment to the then military president, Ibrahim Babangida.

His father-in-law, Aliyu Musdafa who was then the Lamido of Adamawa, also put in a word for him following which Mr Babangida assured the traditional ruler that he would do it.

“High profile appointments, such as Director of Customs and Excise, are political. Merit counts but political connection counts more. Atiku knew he had to lobby the right people and drop hints at the right places that he was available to lead the Customs,” Mr Onukaba wrote.

Mr Abubakar was confident of bagging the appointment, more so too that he counted the military president among his friends.

“Atiku had known Babangida since 1974 when he was just a Major. They met at a party in Lagos, and became good friends. In 1982 when Babangida, then a Major-General, imported a BMW car into the country, it was his friend, Atiku, who helped him to clear it from the Lagos ports. Babangida was not the only top military officer or prominent civil servant that Atiku had assisted.”

Mr Abubakar narrated to the author: “They would import cars and come and hand over the documents to me. I paid duties on those cars from my own pocket. What could I do? They were all my friends and they did not want to go through the hassles at the ports. Being the man on the ground, they wanted me to do that for them. I enjoy helping people.”

According to Mr Onukaba, “Since taking over power in 1985, Atiku had not asked him (Mr Babangida) for anything. The only matter before him was Shagaya’s recommendation for him (Atiku) to be appointed Director of Customs. It was a position for which he felt he was eminently qualified. He thought Babangida would not hesitate to give it to him.

“Indeed, Babangida approved Shagaya’s recommendation. But before it could be made public, a group of eminent Gongola State (the state was later broken into the current Adamawa and Taraba states) indigenes in his government pleaded with the President to drop Atiku.

Ibrahim Babangida, Former Nigerian dictator

“They said there were already too many functionaries of the administration from the state. If Atiku were appointed, they said, other states would protest the preponderance of Gongola State people in top government positions.

“At the time, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Gambo-Jimeta, the Chief of Air Staff, Ibrahim Alfa, and the Minister of Education, Jubril Aminu, were the most visible members of the government from the state. Murtala Nyako, then a Vice Admiral, was hoping to be made the Chief of Naval Staff. He might have also felt that giving the Customs top job to Atiku could affect his chances.

“Some people considered Atiku already too powerful and uncontrollable in the state and they felt that making him the Director of Customs would give him too much clout. Atiku was seen as an upstart, a boy from nowhere who was already threatening those who saw themselves as the power brokers in Gongola State.’ They did not want somebody outside their circle to rise,’ was how an observer put it in an interview.

“Babangida yielded to pressure from those people and appointed an outsider, Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed, as Director.” Mr Mohammed would later become National Chairman of the PDP.

“Naturally, Atiku was disappointed. From that period, Atiku said he could not trust Babangida again. He felt Babangida was not firm and reliable. It was not the first time that Babangida had disappointed both Atiku and the Lamido of Adamawa.”

Mr Abubakar found working under his new boss, Mr Mohammed, “most frustrating.”

According to the book, “Mohammed was not comfortable with having around him someone who had competed with him for the same position. He felt he could never trust Atiku and that Atiku would not be loyal and committed to his success in the job. He wanted Atiku gone

“Thrice he recommended him for retirement, but thrice Shagaya turned it down. Atiku went to see Shagaya and told him that he would like to leave service voluntarily because he did not want to be disgraced out of office. Shagaya advised him not to quit. Atiku had at least 10 more years to go in the service and Shagaya felt he could still head the agency before his retirement.

“But Atiku’s soul was no longer in the Customs. He needed to move on. He had always wanted to work for himself anyway. He asked for his annual leave and it was approved. He left for the lesser hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

“Before his departure, Atiku had written his resignation letter (dated April 28, 1989), put it in an envelope, sealed and given it to his friend, Adamu Yaro, to hand it personally to Bello Mohammed, his boss.”

“He enclosed in the letter the receipt of the payment into government treasury of his three months’ salary in lieu of notice.

“Atiku had by then packed out of his Reeve Road official flat in Ikoyi and moved into a spacious, furnished guesthouse owned by NICOTES (his oil services company) on Bourdillon Road in Ikoyi.”

He had established Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES) with an Italian friend, Gabrielle Volpi in 1982 while serving as Customs Area Administrator at the Apapa Ports.

The company was later renamed INTELS after it was seized by the regime of late Head of State, Sani Abacha. The new name was retained after the company was returned to the original owners after the death of Mr Abacha.

Politics: You will run Nigeria by age 52

“One of those Atiku consulted about his planned resignation was his old friend from Apapa Ports, Oyewole Fashawe. He visited Fashawe at Owo, his hometown. Like most of his friends, Fashawe advised him not to rush out of Customs until he had served as Director. But Mrs Lydia Ijamolayemi, Fashawe’s mother, had a different opinion. She advised Atiku to leave the Customs and embark on the journey God has destined for him.

“Five years earlier, she had visited Atiku in his office in Lagos and predicted that Atiku would be presiding over the affairs of Nigeria by age of 52 to 55 years. The matriarch of the Fashawe family was well known all over Owo and beyond as an extraordinarily gifted seer.”

Mr Abubakar jumped into politics at the deep end of the pool. In fact, he was attending meetings of the political association of his friend and business associate, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, a year before he quit the Customs.

Mr Yar’Adua had retired from the Nigerian Army as a Major-General in 1979 after serving as Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters between 1976 and 1979.

Mr Onukaba narrated how the paths of the two men crossed.

How Atiku met Yar’Adua

“While in office one day, Atiku was informed that Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the retired Major-General and deputy to Obasanjo, was waiting to see him. Atiku invited him in. The General entered and they greeted each other warmly. It was the first time Atiku was meeting him. He was simple and humble.

“Yar’Adua wanted an import license to bring beans from Niger Republic for sale in Nigeria. Since leaving office in 1979, the General had gone into business to keep body and soul together. His business included agriculture, banking, shipping and manufacturing. Some of them, such as agriculture, banking, shipping and manufacturing businesses had been disastrous, due largely to unstable government policies, mismanagement and inadequate supervision. Now, the General wanted to try his hands at buying and selling.

“Atiku told him that he would have to write an application to President Ibrahim Babangida for an import license. He showed him how to write it. Yar’Adua thanked him and left. He wrote the application as Atiku had advised and Babangida gave his approval.

“He obtained the import license, imported the beans from Niger Republic, sold it and made a lot of money. He felt he needed to show appreciation to the Customs officer who had assisted him. He offered Atiku a token of appreciation, but Atiku declined, saying it was not necessary. He said he was just doing his job.

Atiku and his political mentor, Shehu Musa Yar’adua

“Yar’Adua was highly impressed. In an organisation known for its endemic corruption and other unethical deals, he was happy to find one decent officer. From that day, a friendship developed between Yar’Adua and Atiku. They discovered they had a lot in common: they had both been big time farmers; both had interest in maritime business; and they shared a common vision for Nigeria.

“Yar’Adua briefed him about his own efforts to build a grassroots political movement that would be the vanguard of a new Nigeria with a common purpose. He wanted Atiku to work with him to realise that vision.”

Mr Abubakar would later offer 20 per cent of the shares of NICOTES to Mr Yar’Adua. By that time, the company had turned into a multi-million dollars enterprise and made Mr Abubakar “fabulously wealthy.”

Early involvement in politics

In fact, Mr Abubakar’s involvement in partisan politics dated much further back to 1983 when he worked for the election of Bamanga Tukur of the then National Party of Nigeria as governor of the Gongola State. He said he had always been involved in the affairs of his immediate community in the state.

“I was spending all the money I had to assist people and the community. If people needed employment, they came to me for assistance. As much as our people appreciated my little contributions, I felt I was not doing enough. I began thinking seriously about the possibility of using political power to transform the lives of our people, of using political power to help more people and to continue to render social services, but this time, on a grander scale. Honestly, this was when I really began to consider going into politics after retiring from service,” Mr Abubakar explained.

By 1988, Mr Abubakar had started attending regular meetings at Yar’Adua’s Ikoyi home.

Earlier in 1987, on the second anniversary of his coup, Mr Babangida set up a 46-member Constitution Review Committee and a Constituent Assembly to debate and adopt a new Constitution. He also created a National Electoral Commission (NEC) and placed a ban on past politicians from seeking and holding public office for 10 years effective from the date the ban on politics would be lifted.

“While waiting for Babangida to lift the ban on politics, Yar’Adua and his group began to put together the structure of a political party.

From Peoples Front of Nigeria to Social Democratic Party

“A month after Atiku formally left the Customs, the Babangida administration lifted the ban on politics in May 1989. The President also announced a revised transition timetable that would lead to the establishment of elected civilian government on October 1, 1992.

“The Yar’Adua group immediately unveiled its political association, the People’s Front of Nigeria (PF). At its first national convention in June 1989, Atiku was elected one of the National Vice Chairmen of the party.

“Atiku had won the position as a result of his substantial contributions to the association… Among the original founders of the association, he was the wealthiest and had one of the widest contacts. He and Yar’Adua paid the initial expenses of the PF.

“Besides income from NICOTES, his oil servicing company, he had become a big time trader. With his friend, Peter Okocha, he imported green tea from China, long before the communist country became the favourite destination of many importers. Business was so good that Atiku bought three Mercedes Benz 600 series for himself, Okocha and Yar’Adua. Money as well as his personal qualities brought him respect and influence within PF.”

NICOTES

“The PF was one of the 80 political associations that applied to NEC for registration in 1989. Although NEC prequalified 13 of the associations and recommended them to Mr Babangida’s Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) for approval, on October 7, 1989, Mr Babangida announced that the AFRC had decided not to register any of them because they were “set up by the same discredited politicians who must not be allowed back in power.”

Instead, he set up two new parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) and asked politicians to join either of the two.

Although Mr Yar’Adua, like other politicians, was shocked that Mr Babangida refused to register his association, he and his group later joined the SDP.

That very year, Mr Abubakar ran a tempestuous race against his local political rival, Bala Takaya, for the SDP governorship ticket in Adamawa, which led to both of them being banned from the race by Mr Babangida.

In 1993, he was drafted by the Yar’Adua group to run for the presidential ticket of the SDP, after Mr Yar’Adua had the previous year been banned following the cancellation of the party’s presidential primary which he was on the verge of winning. He came third in the first ballot, behind the late Moshood Abiola and Babagana Kingibe. He supported Mr Abiola to win the race during the second ballot.

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2019: It’s Game Over For Cabals In Politics – Mike Onoja |The Republican New

Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

Benue South senatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Mike Onoja, has said that his emergence as a senatorial candidate marks the end of cabalism in the zone.

Onoja stated this at the Nocros Primary School, Otukpo, during the decamping ceremony of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members from the Benue South senatorial district commonly known as Zone C to the SDP.

“The era of cabals in Zone C and in the state is ended. We don’t believe in cabalism in SDP and we will not tolerate it. The motor of SDP is good governance, sustainable development and social justice for all. We will make sure that everybody in our party is fairly treated.”

Onoja who noted that this is the first time he was emerging as a candidate of any party, said the SDP had come to change the narrative of underdevelopment that had been known to be the norm in the zone, in the state and in the country at large since 1999 till date.

“I have never participated in a general election before. I have only been participating in primary elections and as you know, primary election is highly manipulated because a few people who are connected sit together and decide who to vote for irrespective of your capacity.

“Since (the return of) democracy in Nigeria in 1999, Idoma has nothing to show for it. This is now time for change and SDP stands for change in Zone C which will bring about development in all spheres of human endeavours. Idoma land is going to see great development if SDP is voted into power.”

The senatorial candidate who expressed optimism of winning the election said the people of the zone were eager to see change in terms of dividends of democracy.

Speaking earlier, state Chairman of the Party, Mr. John Enemari, promised the new entrants that there would be equal opportunities for every member of the party.

In his remark, the senatorial candidate of the party for the Benue North East senatorial district, Chief Barnabas Gemade, disclosed that everyone he campaigned for had always won elections. He urged the people to vote for all candidates of the SDP in the forthcoming elections.

Dignitaries who graced the occasion include Chief Gemade, SDP governorship candidate, Dr. Stephen Hwande, his running mate, Amb. Dickson Akor, and a delegation from the party’s national secretariat among others.  (The Sun)

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