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Buhari, Saraki, Dogara Meet Over Budget, NASS Invasion, Melaye, IGP, Others |RN

Buhari-Saraki-and-Dogara

President Muhamadu Buhari, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker Of the House Of Representatives

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The non-appearance of the of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, the ill-treatment being meted to Senator Dino Melaye, the invasion of National Assembly by suspected thugs as well as the passage of the 2018 budget were among the issues that President Muhammadu Buhari discussed with the leadership of the National Assembly.

Senate President  Bukola Saraki and Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Monday afternoon on the invitation of President Buhari, told State House Correspondents that they talked on the key issues of importance to both arms of government.

Saraki and Dogara, arrived the Aso Rock in the same car to meet with Buhari, barely two hours after he arrived Abuja from his home state of Katsina, where he had participated in the ward congress of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Saraki said the President invited them over to discuss with them his recent visit to the United States of America, the passage of the 2018 Budget, and the invasion of the National Assembly by thugs, but they used the opportunity to complain to him their reservations about the non-appearance of the IGP, despite repeated invitations.

They appealed Buhari to make officers of the executive arm of government operate within the ambit of law in their actions.

Melaye, who represents Kogi West Senatorial Zone, had been accused of gun-running and later, attempted suicide, by the police, which eventually arrested him, confined him to the hospital and later stretchered him to two different courts to face the charges.

Some hoodlums had on April 18th invaded the Senate and made away with the Mace, the symbol of authority.

Saraki on why they were in the Presidential Villa said, “Well, we came on the invitation of Mr President, he wanted to brief us on his trip to the United States and also the issue of the budget. We also talked about the issue of concerns to us, the invasion of the National Assembly, which he showed great concern and said action will be taken to investigate that.”

Asked when they are passing the budget, the Senate President said, “Well, hopefully, it should be laid this week. If it can be laid this week then it can be passed early next week but we are hoping it will be laid this week.”

On what was the President’s response on invasion, Saraki said, “Of course, he sees it as an embarrassment to the country and that there will be a proper investigation because is something that is not just about the National Assembly, it is about the country.”

On efforts to improve the strained relationship between the executive and the legislature, the Senate President said, “You see we are here today, it was the initiative of Mr President to brief us on his visit to America and to engage on discussions and I think that is a good sign. We in the National Assembly have always been ready to give all our support to the executive and we will continue to work along those lines. As I said, the presidential system that we operate, we sometimes have the responsibility to check the excesses of the executive, so there will always be times we will disagree but by and large, we will always work for the interest of Nigerians and always keep on moving on.”

On where the issue of Senator Dino Melaye came up in the meeting, Dogara said, “On the issue of Senator Dino, of course, anything that happens to one of our members or any member of the National Assembly is of concern to us. And there is no way we can have this kind of meeting without raising that. This is a civilian administration, it is a democracy and it is imperative and very very important that all institutions of democracy operate within the ambit of the rule of law.

“There is nowhere,  I have said it before that police will behave in a democracy like a clan of tribesmen, like an upgraded barbarians sort of. So there is the need for us to act with civility. We are not saying that anybody should be protected and defended. Once you have committed an offence, our law said you should answer to it but you just have to utilize the provision of our constitution, the rule of law and that this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has overemphasised in order to bring people to book. But a situation where people are wheeled to court, that doesn’t give a good image of our democracy. I have not seen a democracy where people are wheeled to court, they are not in the proper frame of mind and they are forced to undergo trial.

“Whatever it is, even if Dino is pretending as some have said it in some section of the media, he cannot pretend forever. He is there, he will not run away, he is a senator and he can be tried any time he is in the proper frame of mind. As a lawyer, I can tell you, any judge that assesses an accused person not to be in a proper frame of mind, even if the accused person pleads guilty, he is duty bound by law to record a plea of not guilty if he is not satisfied as to the soundness of the mind of the accused person.

“So the emphasis is there and I believe the president being a listening president will definitely take steps and do something about it.”

Asked if the issue of planned impeachment process came up in the meeting, Dogara said, no as it wasn’t part of the agenda of the meeting.

“Well, I don’t think we have the authority to discuss issues of impeachment, impeachment is a political offence and I don’t think we are there yet.

“No, never. It wasn’t part of the agenda.”

Saraki speaking on the non-appearance of the IGP said, “Just talking about the issue of the police, we also raised the issue of the non-appearance of the IG at the Senate and felt that they must continue to ensure that he continues to apply obedience to the issue of constituted authority. We are of great concern that this is the first time this is happening and that this matter needs to be addressed considering the importance of the powers of the  constitution that gives investigative powers, also gives to us and that there is need for police to accept that they too are under constitution and they must obey that. We raised that concern.”

Saraki said the meeting was a good one as it touched on some of the important issues. (The Sun)

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Youths Protest Rumoured Plan By Saraki, Others To Return To PDP |The Republican News

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                                   Senate President Bukola Saraki

Success Nwogu, Ilorin

Some youths in the Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party on Monday protested against the rumoured plan by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki; his former special adviser on Special Duties and Parliamentary Affairs, Alhaji Moshood Mustapha (popularly known as MM); and other associates of the Senate President to defect from the All Progressives Congress to the PDP.

The youths, on the sidelines of a media briefing by a PDP group, Face of Change, displayed placards that expressed their opposition to the rumoured defection.

Some of the placards read: ‘No to Bukola Saraki and cronies in the PDP,’ ‘MM defection is a liability,’ ‘PDP exco, shine your eyes,’ and ‘PDP gov ticket is not for sale.’

The state Coordinator, Face of Change, Alhaja Kubrat Abdullateef, however, said in an interview with journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, that the protesters were only expressing their personal views, adding that they were not part of the conference.

She said, “What we are trying to do is that we do not want a repeat of what had happened in the past when Bukola Saraki planted his cronies in our party and we had a very rancorous primary. We are guarding against that and we do not want a repeat of that. Those who are carrying placards, that is their personal opinion.”

Abdullateef lamented the action of some members of the party, which she said, bordered on anti-party activities.

She said, “With the spate of incidents over the last couple of weeks, it seems the party is apathetic to anti-party (activities).  As much as we welcome new members into our party, it is important to highlight the fact that there is a laid-down process that allows one to be a member of our party.”

The state Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Gidado Alakawa, said the party was not against the entry of new members or the return of former members, adding that new members and returnees must however abide by the constitution, process and procedures of the party.

He also stressed that the protesters were only expressing their democratic rights, adding that the party leadership did not have the power to reject new members.

“Everything we do in this party follows certain procedures and rules. To that extent, there is always this opportunity for free entry and free exit. There should not be anything personal about people coming into the party. Generally, people that want to come to the party are free to come as long as they are ready to work with the rules and regulations that guide entry into the party.

“There are rules that govern  any form of re-admittance of any former member of the party, who for whatever reason left the party and is now coming back into the party. It is not for the party leadership to say who must not come in or who must come in.

“Beyond that, the party already has a structure and the structure is working along with the constitution. So those people saying they do not want X,Y to come into the party, that is their opinion but the party leadership will do whatever they can to work in line with the constitution and in line with the desire of the majority of our people to be sure the party wins in all elections.”  (Punch)

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Anti-Corruption Agencies Looting Recovered Assets, Says Saraki |RN

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Senate President, Bukola Saraki

From Fred Itua, Abuja 

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has alleged that proceeds of corruption recovered by the Federal Government are being looted by the anti-corruption agencies.

The senate president blamed anti-graft agencies in the country for making it difficult for the federal government to convince other nations to return funds looted.

Saraki said these at a one-day strategic retreat on Tackling the progress of anti-corruption bills in the National Assembly, yesterday, where he reiterated that many assets recovered were relooted by the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria. 

He was  represented by the Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn Bala Na’Allah.

“Nigeria is finding it difficult to convince other nations to return funds looted from our treasury. This is because of other nations’ exasperation over the management of returned assets.

“Only recently,  Mr. President inaugurated a committee to audit all assets recovered by various government agencies.

“The National Assembly has been strident about the opacity shrouding the management of recovered funds, which, in many cases, gets reported by the agencies that investigated and recovered them. 

“An ad-hoc committee of the senate, which is investigating some administrative infraction in the Executive,  has discovered that many properties recovered from fugitives from the law have not been accounted for, by the investigating agency.  This gives global community great concern about the commitment of Nigeria to the anti-corruption drive.”

In his opening remarks, chairman of the committee, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, said Nigeria’s struggle against entrenched corruption is a global concern.

Utazi expressed dissatisfaction with the suspension of Nigeria by the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, at a time Nigeria has made anti-corruption a cardinal policy of government. 

He added that the suspension greatly impedes the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Utazi said: “The suspension activated the immediate shutdown of the EGMONT secure Web, ESW,  against Nigeria, with the implication that Nigeria can no longer exchange sensitive information with about 172 other member countries in order to carry out investigative and regulatory responsibilities as they affect local and international bothering on money laundering, terrorism financing. 

“This is dreadful consequences on sharing criminal intelligence and financial information bothering on money laundering, terrorism financing, proliferation of arms,  corruption, financial crimes, economic crimes and such like offences geared towards the support of local and international investigations, prosecution and asset recovery.”

In his own remarks, Director of Africa network for Environment and Economic Justice,  (ANEEJ), David Ugolor, disclosed that Swiss government and Nigeria government are at the final stage of returning $321 million to Nigeria.

from Abacha’s loot. 

According to him, the return of $321 million Abacha’s loot is at the final stage. “We want to commend the federal government for making sure that the country take recovery of Abacha’s loot,” he said.   (The Sun)

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Saraki Welcomes Buhari, Says President Will Resume With Greater Vigour |RN

Bukola-Saraki

Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki

Senate  President Abubakar Bukola Saraki has welcomed President Muhammadu Buhari back to Nigeria.

In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki thanked God for the safe return and recovery of the President, and reaffirmed the commitment of the National Assembly to continue working alongside the President in achieving objectives aimed at improving the standard of living of Nigerians and overall development of the country.

“I thank Almighty Allah for bringing President Muhammadu Buhari back whole, hale and hearty. I am thoroughly delighted that President Buhari has returned home after his medical vacation”, the Senate President said, “I was privileged to have met him twice in London during the period of the vacation. After our first meeting, I told Nigerians there was no cause for alarm. After our recent lengthy meeting on Thursday this week, I informed Nigerians that Mr President’s return home was imminent.

“In all, we must thank Almighty God for sparing all our lives and granting Mr President a most remarkable recovery. His return marks a new lease of life for this administration. I am confident that Mr President will resume with even more vigour to pursue an economic agenda that will improve the welfare of all Nigerians.  In this vein, Mr President should seize this opportunity to further consolidate and strengthen his team in order to meet the challenges ahead.

“On our part, the Senate is ready to work closely with the Executive and bend over backwards to support Mr President. I congratulate all Nigerians on Mr President’s return.

We thank the Acting President for his hard work in holding forte and steering the ship of governing the nation during this period.”

“May the Almighty Allah continue to bless our nation, and give our President, Muhammadu Buhari, the strength and wisdom to lead us successfully, ” the Senate President said.   (The Sun)

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Saraki, Other APC Members Did Well To Block Tinubu’s VP Bid – Northern Elders

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Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and APC National leader, Asiwaju  Bola Tinubu

 ENIOLA AKINKUOTU, BAYO AKINLOYE, TOBI AWORINDE, and Godwin Isenyo

Some northern elders have said they supported Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai’s staunch opposition to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s vice presidential ambition and a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2015 presidential poll.

Last week, Tinubu was reported to have stated that his moves to become President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate were prevented by Saraki and el-Rufai.

Tinubu had in a book, ‘Against the Run of Play’, authored by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Olusegun Adeniyi, accused the Senate President and other individuals of prevailing on Buhari not to pick him as the running mate for the 2015 election.

Speaking on Saturday, one of the northern elders, Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa, who is also a chieftain of the Northern Elders Forum, said he was one of those who threw their weight behind those who opposed Tinubu to become Buhari’s running mate.

The cleric, who was the Youth President, Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, stated in an interview with journalists in Kaduna on Saturday that a Muslim-Muslim ticket would have worked against the All Progressives Congress.

Dangiwa described Tinubu as being “selfish” to have thought that a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket would have worked for the party in 2015.

He went further to praise Saraki for ensuring that the Muslim-Muslim ticket as advocated by Tinubu did not work, arguing that a good percentage of the country’s Christian population would have been neglected.

“Tinubu’s thought of becoming (Nigeria’s) Vice President to a Muslim presidential candidate was not only self-centered or selfish, but it would have worked against the APC. We knew Tinubu’s move for a very long time – most northerners contributed to Saraki’s choice of working against a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 2015 poll.

“So, Saraki’s decision not to have a Muslim-Muslim ticket was in the best interest of the socio-political development of the nation. There are still good Muslims and good Christians who mean well for this country, and Saraki is one of such good examples,” the NEF chieftain noted.

His views were corroborated by the National Leader of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Saturday night.

Yerima told SUNDAY PUNCH that while the country looked forward to a time when religion and ethnic background would not be the determining factors in electing the president of the country, the 2015 presidential election would not have been won by the APC if the party had gone into the poll with a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

“There’s no way that Muslim-Muslim ticket could have worked with the current way the country is set up and with Tinubu who wanted to run with Buhari. The APC would have lost the election. While the youths of this country want a situation whereby religion, ethnicity, and language do not determine who govern the country, we are mindful of the fact that present realities wouldn’t have given victory to the APC if it had Muslims for its candidates (president and vice president). Everybody knows that Tinubu wasn’t an ideal person to be Buhari’s running mate.

“Making him Buhari’s running mate would have affected the party adversely. It is true that he has helped many people. He has been useful to many causes and people. But I am not sure anybody would have supported him as Buhari’s running mate. As he said during the week that Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Nasir el-Rufai blocked his chance of becoming Buhari’s running mate – that wasn’t a bad move because APC wouldn’t have won the election with a Muslim-Muslim ticket involving a Tinubu,” Shettima stated.

In a similar vein, a National Executive Council member of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Mohammed Abdulrahman, criticised Tinubu’s vice presidential aspiration, noting that a Muslim-Muslim ticket would have killed Buhari’s 2015 presidential bid.

He said, “There is no viability for any two people that are Muslims to steer the ship of peace and unity in Nigeria at the moment. Tinubu is a Christian most of the time. It is only when it is convenient for him that he is a Muslim. It is when it is convenient that he becomes Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“He is what we call ‘Christ-Mus.’ He is a ceremonial religious person. But they (APC) would never have made it (with him and Buhari for the 2015 presidential poll). That will not push Nigeria forward.”

Speaking on the issue, another northern elder, the National President of Arewa Youth Forum, Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, commended Saraki for promoting peaceful coexistence among Nigerians and for truncating the Muslim-Muslim ticket proposed by Tinubu during the 2015 presidential poll.

He argued that a Muslim-Muslim arrangement would not have given the APC the winning ticket in the last presidential election and would not have yielded any positive result in future elections.

“The Muslim-Muslim ticket will only cause a crisis in the country. Nigeria is not ripe for a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the nation’s presidency because Nigerians now play politics of religion and ethnicity,” Gujungu stated.

He also said that he would not support a Muslim-Muslim ticket in future presidential races.

Asked why in 1993, Nigerians, particularly Christians, did not raise eyebrows at the MKO Abiola/Babagana Kingibe Muslim-Muslim ticket under the defunct Social Democratic Party, he pointed out that Nigerians then were not into the politics of religion and ethnicity.

According to him, the politics of religion and ethnicity became more pronounced particularly after former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.

Gujungu said it was no longer possible to field two candidates of the same religious orientation in the country.

Weighing in on the issue, a former spokesman for the ACF, Anthony Sani, said he did not support a Muslim-Muslim ticket because of the present “atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion which tends to promote cleavages of the nation along ethnic and religious lines.”

Sani told SUNDAY PUNCH, “When there were mutual confidence and social contract among groups in Nigeria in the past, it was possible for SDP to field Abiola and Kingibe, who were both Muslims, and it came to pass but for the annulment.

“I would not have supported not only a Muslim-Muslim ticket but also a Christian-Christian ticket until such a time mutual trust and social contract among groups would have been restored in the polity.

“The duo (Saraki and el-Rufai) advised against such tickets due to prevailing circumstances. And Tinubu himself accepted the advice without any demur. And that explains why he gladly nominated Prof. Osinbajo to be the running mate to Buhari.”

Reacting to accusations that Tinubu was self-serving in wanting to be Buhari’s running mate, the senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District, Adesoji Akanbi, told one of our correspondents that it did not matter what people said about the APC chieftain, noting that their actions and reactions were that of envy.

“It is jealousy – Asiwaju Tinubu is a man well-loved nationwide. He is not a sectional or religious leader. He warmly embraces all religions in the spirit of love and peace. He is the only member with fantastic influence across the country. Most of the other leaders in the party cannot boast of the influence Asiwaju wields. Let people say what they want to say.

“Those railing against Asiwaju Tinubu want to rewrite history. Can they achieve that? No. It is sheer jealousy to want to reduce Tinubu’s efforts to selfish acts – that’s incorrect. The APC would not have achieved any success without Tinubu in the 2015 presidential poll; there’s no doubt about that. Reasonable people will continue to praise whatever efforts and sacrifices that Asiwaju made. Remember what ex-President Goodluck Jonathan said about Tinubu that a man he feared most in the APC was Tinubu,” Akanbi stated.

Attempts by SUNDAY PUNCH to get a response from Tinubu’s media aide, Mr. Tunde Rahman, did not yield the desired results. Repeated calls to his mobile telephone were neither picked nor returned as at 9:57 pm.

A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being expected as of the time of filing this report.   (Punchng.com)

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