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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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Buhari’s Using Security Agencies To Intimidate, Silence Other Tribes – ACF Chieftain

A National Executive Committee member of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Mohammed Abdulrahman, tells TOBI AWORINDE that President Muhammadu Buhari may not achieve balance in the appointments of his security chiefs before the 2019 elections

What do you think of the predominance of northerners among the security chiefs in the country as we approach the election year?

The 2019 elections will be inconclusive because the blood flowing in Nigeria is beyond what God permits. God does not even permit blood flow. Nobody has a power to destroy His creation. People are losing their lives every day in Nigeria to the extent that America, England, Europe and other countries are saying the bloodletting should stop. It is unfortunate that all these are happening in a country where we are supposed to be the strongest force among the African peacekeeping forces.  Even on social media, they are wasting their time, watching and monitoring what people say. Is leadership about that? Has what you hear people discuss got anything to do with good eldership? It will never help them. They are spending billions on what will not help the common man. God gave Buhari the Presidency but removed his ability to watch whether he is going to serve the common man or not because that is what God brought him to do – to change the face of Nigeria, reposition Nigeria in Africa. But instead of repositioning Nigeria, they made the situation worse.

So, the appointment of security chiefs from one section of the country and the heavy spending on security payments can never save Nigeria form insecurity.

He is not God. He is a human being like all of us. He cannot use power and security to break people. He has left the issue of leadership, but God is going to intervene. We all have to be patient.

What do you think of the ethnic composition of the appointments of Buhari’s service chiefs in particular?

That is what I am telling you. It was done to create the conquering of other tribes in Nigeria. But Nigeria has about 370 tribes. They are the owners of Nigeria, not the northerners; every Nigerian — Yoruba, Igbo or Ijaw — owns Nigeria. Mark my words: no human being has the capacity to chain them. War does not knock on the door. It triggers intolerance and impunity, which are happening now. If they put the entire security outfits in (the hands of) one ethnic group, just watch what God is going to do about it.

Do you think Buhari can reshuffle the appointments before the elections?

Think about it. You know Buhari’s antecedent since his first coming as a military head of state. The National Security Organisation was very powerful because it was a military outfit. Nothing happened in government without the NSO. That’s where I was. Even if he (Buhari) makes the whole security outfit from his house, it cannot change anything. It’s now in God’s hands. The Igbo have known that there can never be Igbo presidency in Buhari’s time. All these things we are watching are part of God’s intervention. He (Buhari) can never change his cabinet. Even if he changes it, it is cosmetic with no desire to move Nigeria forward, but to deceive Nigerians. And if we’re talking about deceit, well, you know very well the credentials of this government as far as deceit is concerned. (Punch)

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Buhari Is Not Power Drunk But Won’t Tolerate Corruption, Presidency Tells Atiku|RN

Buhari-Atiku4
Former Vice-President Atiku abubakar, President Muhammadu Buhari

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

 

The Presidency on Wednesday denied former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s depiction of President Muhammadu Buhari as an “uncompromising” and a “power-drunk” retired general.

The  Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said in a statement that while Buhari, who is on a working visit to China, “is uncompromising against corruption, he is not power-drunk.”

Atiku, who recently dumped the All Progressives Congress to return to his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party, in his bid to pursue his presidential ambition ahead of the 2019 election, was quoted to have made the comment critical of President Buhari in an AFP report.

The AFP report said Atiku expressed fear about the forthcoming general elections which he said might not be free and fair under Buhari as President.

He described Buhari as “very uncompromising, also power-drunk; (and) who will not be ready to leave power without a fight.”

A few days ago, Atiku had criticised Buhari’s deputy, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, for the comment on restructuring which he made while speaking to an audience in the United States of America.

But Osinbajo, had in a letter he personally signed, debunked Atiku’s comment further clarifying his stance and flaunting his credentials as one who had successfully contributed to the deepening of fiscal federalism in Nigeria.

Responding to Atiku’s critical comment of Buhari’s democratic profile, on Wednesday,  Adesina said the former VP was only trying to use Buhari’s name to buoy his bid to get the presidential ticket of the PDP, which he said was still mourning the defeat it suffered in the 2015 election.

He stated, “Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, was quoted by a foreign news medium as accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of being “very uncompromising, also power-drunk; (and) who will not be ready to leave power without a fight.”

“Rather than use the name of President Buhari to buoy his bid to get the presidential ticket of a party, whose flag has been flying at half-mast since it got roundly trounced at the polls in 2015, the former Vice-President needs be told that the President is truly uncompromising, but only when it comes to looting the common patrimony of Nigerians, and squandering their riches.

“President Buhari is uncompromising in the quest to restore probity and accountability to public office. He is uncompromising in cleaning the rot Nigeria was consigned into pre-2015, thus the war against corruption is being fought without fear or favour.

“The President is equally resolute in the determination to ensure that Nigeria is no longer a mono-economy, depending only on oil.

“Yes, President Buhari is single-minded in effecting change in every area of Nigerian life. So, Alhaji Abubakar is right, if that was what he meant by the President being “uncompromising.”

“But power drunk? No! And being a man “who will not be ready to leave power without a fight?” Never! Not President Buhari, who has demonstrated in many ways that he is a committed democrat, though also a retired military general. He has no apologies for that. Through a sterling military career, he served Nigeria with his heart and might, before venturing into partisan politics.”

Adesina said, contrary to Atiku’s claim, Buhari had wielded power with decency, advising him to borrow a leaf from the decorous language employed by Vice-President Osinbajo in debunking his recent press statement on the restructuring debate.

He said, “In many ways, President Buhari has wielded power with decency, and as a means of serving the people, rather than for personal ends. If there’s one person not intoxicated by power, it is President Buhari, and scores of millions of Nigerians know this.

“That is why they will invest him with power again next year, knowing that he won’t misuse or misapply what has been entrusted to him.”

“Former VP Abubakar may want to borrow a leaf from the decorous language employed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, in answering his recent press statement on the restructuring debate.

“That is the hallmark of statesmen, and not crying wolf where none exists, which is what the allegation of being uncompromising and power drunk truly is.”

He also refuted Atiku’s comment that Buhari would not leave power in case he was defeated without a fight.

Adesina stated, “President Buhari is actuated by service to the country, and nothing else. So, there couldn’t be anything like “not ready to leave power without a fight.”

“Indeed, the insinuation of a fight is the mindset of a man who is either undemocratic, or has seen defeat staring him, and his party, in the face.

“Let the former Vice-President rest assured that there will be no ‘fight’ over power in Nigeria.

“Not under President Buhari’s watch. The people don’t want a fight. It is some political leaders we must beseech to eschew pugnacity and mind their language.”  (Punch)

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Kwankwaso: Eagle Square Belongs To All Nigerians – Saraki |RN

Bukola-Saraki
                                  Senate President Bukola Saraki

…as ex-gov declares presidential bid in hotel

John Alechenu and Olusola Fabiyi

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has denounced the last-minute cancellation of the approval earlier granted to Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, to use the Eagle Square for his 2019 presidential declaration.

The denunciation is contained in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja on Wednesday.

Saraki was quoted as saying “The refusal to allow Senator Kwankwaso to utilise the Eagle Square for his presidential declaration, despite an earlier approval, sends a wrong message about our democracy, particularly the tolerance level in our politics.

“That square belongs to all Nigerians because it was built with public funds. We hope this is not what we will be seeing as we approach the 2019 General Elections.”

Recall that the Federal Capital Territory Administration denied him the use of the Eagle Square and the International Conference Centre, which he had initially booked for the occasion.

The FCTA had claimed that it took the action because Wednesday was a workday and that the event would impede the movements of workers.

The Senate President insisted that the “Eagle Square belongs to all Nigerians,” noting that the cancellation sent a wrong message about the tolerance level in our politics.

Meanwhile, Kwankwaso has declared his intention to run for the presidency in 2019 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Kwankwaso, who used a private hotel for the declaration in Abuja on Wednesday, promised to provide what he called “value-added leadership” if elected.

Dressed in the white kaftan with a red cap, Kwankwaso exuded confidence as he spoke amidst shouts of “kwankwasiya” by his supporters, who came from across the country for the event.

He said, “As I formally declare my intention to vie for the office of the President on the platform of the PDP, I promise you a value-based leadership.

“We shall provide national security and as a former Minister of Defence, I know what I am talking about here.”

Kwankwaso listed national unity and cohesion, restructuring and qualitative education as some of the key areas he would focus on if he was elected President.

The former governor, who was a minister of defence, stressed that his administration would focus on the economy, human capital development, global competitiveness as well as research and innovation.

He said, “The primary responsibility of the government is the security of life. My understanding of national security transcends the stereotype limiting it to the armed forces and other security agencies.

“As former Minister of Defence, I understand security from that point; it covers more and includes the entire scope of food, health care delivery, education, economic prosperity, and enjoyment of human rights on the physical defence and security side.

“There is the need for well-timed, motivated, well-equipped and intelligence-propelled security architecture. That requires decisive options of strengthening and equipping the military while restructuring the police to make it more effective.”

He said his administration would also pursue other institutional reforms in the polity.

Kwankwaso maintained that the priority of his leadership would be the enhancement of a united Nigeria driven by productivity.

He added, “A key propellant of our journey must be a committed desire to ensure that the labours of our heroes shall truly not be in vain.

“We will strive to create an atmosphere where every Nigerian has an equal opportunity to contribute.

“Our restructuring will be to ensure an inclusive political, social and economic space for all. All of this will ensure that first, we are Nigerians.”

Kwankwaso pointed out that he would lead a Nigeria where people are educated and exposed beyond the confines of their tribe, religion, linguistic group or place of birth.

“l want to lead a Nigeria where citizens respect their leaders and leaders to lead and forge a team to promote and protect the interest of all Nigerians.

“I want to lead a Nigeria where all are comfortable anywhere and on any positive issue can compete fairly with their peers without favour or discrimination.

“Education in Nigeria will be rejuvenated and restructured to make future generations not only problem solvers but proud custodians of their culture, heritage and history and also for creating confidence in all Nigerians across all the states, sectors and talents,” he added.

Linking us to Kwankwaso’s inability to use Eagle Square mischievous – APC

The All Progressives Congress has described attempts to link it to the inability of an aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party to secure the use of the Eagle Square, to declare his intention to run for the office of President as mischievous.

Although the APC did not name the aspirant, only former Kano State Governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, was on Wednesday denied access to the Eagle Square after he had paid for the use of the facility for his declaration.

In a statement signed by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena, in Abuja on Wednesday, the APC described attempts to link the party to the development as mischievous.

The statement read, “We frown on mischievous attempts in some quarters to blame the All Progressives Congress for the inability of a Peoples Democratic Party presidential contestant to secure the Eagle Square for his declaration.

“The party read in the media reasons given by the facility managers of the Abuja International Conference Centre and Eagle Square not to allow campaigns on its facility on Wednesday to avoid disruption of workflow at the federal secretariat, the main hub of civil servants in Abuja.

“Hence the allegation is unnecessary and misplaced. We should not be dragged into a private transaction involving entities we have no business with.”

It added, “In any case, the 2019 elections will not be won by cheap campaign ground antics but actual votes from the Nigerian electorate who are wise and know who is working in their interest.

“Never again will we return governance of our dear country to the hands of those that selfishly have held us back for years.”  (Punch)

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IPOB Declares Sit-AT-Home Over Nnamdi Kanu’s Disappearance |RN

NnamdiKanu1

IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu

“Nationwide general strike observed as a sit-at-home across Biafraland on September 14, 2018, is the only way we Biafrans can honour our fallen brethren”

• Sets aside Sept 14 to mark invasion of leader’s Umuahia home

Okey Sampson, Aba

Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has declared September 14, 2018, as sit-at-home in all Biafra land in protest of the invasion of the home of the leader of the Biafran group at Afara Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State by the military.

In a statement  by  Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Emma Powerful,  the protest will “be a way to register our anger regarding the men and women killed at Afaraukwu in Umuahia, during Operation Python Dance II on September 14 last year.”

Powerful said the protest will also be for “those killed in Ngwa, Aba, Igweocha (Port Harcourt) and buried in unmarked mass graves as a result of an unprovoked military invasion of Biafraland by the Nigerian Army.

 “We shall also remember all those killed in the struggle for the restoration of Biafra independence since August 2015, when the army shot dead one Okafor in Onitsha on a peaceful march from Nkpor to Onitsha main town. Their sacrifice will neither be forgotten nor will it be in vain, because come what may, this generation of IPOB must and will restore Biafra. 

“The sacrilegious and disgraceful humiliation of Igbo women, some of them great grand-mothers, ranks as one of the most abominable acts of desecration ever visited upon the land of Biafra in recorded history. It will mark the defining event that completed the shame and humiliation of the Igbo race. 

“Nationwide general strike observed as a sit-at-home across Biafraland on September 14, 2018, is the only way we Biafrans can honour our fallen brethren and legitimately remind our northern oppressors and their collaborators in our midst that enough is enough. 

“We do not want another Operation Python Dance or another mass murder of Biafra agitators and humiliation of our mothers in our land.  Biafraland, we state categorically, must emerge as a free nation under God, whether our enemies like it or not.   

“What happened at Afaraukwu; the desecration of the house of a traditional ruler, the slaughter of innocent men and women: the wholesale massacre along the Ngwa segment of Enugu-Igweocha (Port Harcourt) Expressway, countless number of mass graves across Biafraland, are repulsive, inhumane, barbaric and worthy of total condemnation by all right-thinking people,” the statement stated.  (The Sun)

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NASS Invasion: Buhari’s Ominous Descent Into Dictatorship |RN

THE horizon is looking ominous for Nigeria. Under President Muhammadu Buhari, the country is rapidly descending into a full-blown dictatorship. With scant regard for the separation of powers, the rule of law and the tenets that underpin a sound democracy, masked State Security Service and police officers invaded the National Assembly early in the morning on Tuesday in Abuja. The officers prevented the legislators, who had convened an emergency session, from deliberating. But in an uncharacteristically swift response from the Presidency, the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, sacked the Director-General of the SSS, Lawal Daura. Rightly, Osinbajo described the unauthorised takeover of the National Assembly complex “as a gross violation of the constitutional order, rule of law and all accepted notions of law and order.”

The essence of constitutional government is to ensure that the powers of the state are kept in check so that personal liberty would not be infringed. The scene that played out at the Three Arms Zone on Tuesday is a throwback to full military dictatorship, which ceased to be in 1999 when the Fourth Republic came into being. For masked SSS officers to have locked out legislators and NASS members of staff from their chambers and offices was reckless and unconscionable. Although some NASS members confronted the SSS operatives, they refused to do the right thing. These types of breaches occur only in banana republics, where the rule of law is in abeyance and government has become unpopular.

Though the Acting President claimed that the unlawful act was done without the knowledge of the Presidency, it didn’t come out of the blue. Before now, cases of abuse of power by the Buhari government had become more prolific and severe. In July 2016, the SSS operatives reportedly rounded up principal officers of the Zamfara State legislature and took them to Abuja, where they were detained. Their only offence was their move to press impeachment charges against the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari. In early 2016, there was a clampdown on peaceful protests held in several cities to highlight the economic hardship citizens were passing through and failure of government’s policies to address it, even when the then Acting President,  Osinbajo, avowed the administration’s acknowledgement of peaceful protests as the “fundamental right of the people.” Daura has taken Nigeria for a ride for too long!

The abuse of power is only reaching epidemic proportions as the 2019 elections draw nearer. For the past three weeks, Nigeria has been awash with tales of use, misuse and outright abuse of power. The upheaval began on July 24 when 14 senators and 37 House of Representatives members defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress to other parties, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party. This seemingly altered the balance of power against the APC, especially when the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, announced his own defection from the APC to the PDP.

On the day of defection, the police and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission officers had invaded the Abuja homes of Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, preventing them from leaving their homes. Events escalated quickly with the defections of Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto states, from the APC to the PDP. But the trend of violating the sanctity of the legislative arm of government first came to the fore forcefully in Benue when the police locked down the state assembly and aided eight minority lawmakers, in an assembly of 30 members, to launch impeachment proceedings against Ortom. The EFCC is also probing Ortom’s spending of security vote.

These cases are no doubt disturbing. Specifically on Ortom’s travails, Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, says, “Coincidences are, by their very nature, suspect, and I certainly perceive the beginnings of a heavy-handed campaign of reprisals from ruling circles over your political decision…This bodes ill for the nation. It goes beyond any immediately-affected state and alerts us all to fascistic threats against a common democratic destination, and the basic right of free choice of political paths towards its attainment.” We agree.

Put bluntly, Buhari bears the responsibility and blame for this avoidable or needless recourse to naked abuse of power to further personal political interests. Perhaps, the most deeply depressing aspect of Buhari’s dictatorial tendency is that it is not shocking. In 2015, many had doubted his claims of democratic metamorphosis. In response, Buhari pledged in his inaugural speech, “The Federal Executive under my watch will not seek to encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government. The law enforcing authorities will be charged to operate within the Constitution.” Nigerians now know better.

The founding fathers of democracy saw the danger of vesting the powers of government in one person; and therefore separated them into three: the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature. Undoubtedly, the parliament is the unmistakable symbol of democracy. Its abrogation, while the other two arms continue to exist in the event of military intervention, underscores this point.

Buhari should halt this dictatorial tendency. While we will be the first to assert the bedrock principle that no one is above the law, the recent events have crossed the line from law enforcement into a brazen intolerance for dissent. Noah Feldman, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, says, “The people with the guns listen to the president. So if the president marched in and had a Supreme Court justice removed, you’d need some way to respond to that. That’s a high crime.”

The loss of trust in someone in whom voters had placed so much hope in 2015 is disturbing.  Our state institutions should be seen to be conscientious and accountable. Buhari should refrain from further plunging Nigeria deeper into an abyss of unnecessary crisis, the type that is capable of showing the country in a bad light. A country already blighted by unprecedented levels of insecurity – terrorism, militancy, robbery, uncontrolled bloodbath and other acts of criminality – should not allow herself to be sucked in by an eddy of self-contrived political instability. What is happening does not bode well both for Nigeria’s political stability and economic prosperity. A country very much in need of foreign direct investment should be more tactful in her actions, especially in portraying herself to the outside world as an embodiment of the rule of law, not as an arena for rascals to exhibit lawlessness and impunity. No investor would take Nigeria seriously enough to consider her a destination for investment when the environment does not suggest that it would be safe and protected.

Besides, as the country to which leadership is naturally bestowed in Africa, Nigeria should not be seen to be promoting the kind of political intolerance associated with countries such as Zimbabwe, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, where opposition to government is always met with a serious crackdown. These countries, including Nigeria, would have experienced a far higher level of development if they had inculcated the politics of tolerance and inclusiveness. It is only a government that has become very unpopular that behaves this way; it shows a level of desperation to hold on to power – at all costs.

Nigeria should not be seen as one of the countries where the President, at the least provocation, has to deploy state security apparatus against the opposition.  Nigerians have a duty to speak up now, defend democracy and make it clear that they will not tolerate any form of abuse of power.  (Punch)

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Palace Coup In Senate As PDP Becomes Majority With 56 Seats, APC 48 |RN

BUHARI-SENATE

 

• PDP now 56, APC 48, ADC two, APGA one
• How Saraki, loyalists foiled alleged leadership change

Fred Itua Romanus Ugwu, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja and Noah Ebije, Kaduna

The high wired intrigues and acrimonious power play between the two dominant political parties took a dramatic turn, yesterday, as 35 lawmakers defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to give the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) majority in the Senate.

At plenary, 12 lawmakers in the fold of the ruling party announced their defection to the PDP while two cross-carpeted to the African Democratic Congress (ADC). With the development, PDP has 56, APC 48, ADC two and APGA one.

The gale of defection also spread to the House of Representatives where APC lost 37 members: 32 to the PDP, four to the ADC and one to the United Progressive Party (UPP).

Following the notices of defection read by Speaker Yakubu Dogara at plenary, the APC now has 186 members, PDP 160, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) five; ADC, four while Accord Party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the United Progressive Party (UPP) have one each. The seat of the late former deputy House Leader, Buba Jibril is still vacant, while Orker-Jev is yet to announce his new political party. President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, read out names of the 15 senators, predominantly from the South West, North Central, North East and North West.

Those who announced their defection included Lanre Tejuoso, Shaaba Lafiagi, Barnabas Gemade, Dino Melaye, Mohammed Ubali Shittu, Rafiu Ibrahim, Shitu Ubali, Isa Misau, Sulaimon Hunkuyi, Monsurat Sunmonu (ADC), Mohammed Danbaba, Usman Bayero Nafada, Suleiman Nazif, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Abdulazeez Murtala-Nyako (ADC). APGA) has Senator Victor Umeh (Anambra Central) while seats of two lawmakers from Bauchi and Katsina states, who died earlier in the year are yet to filled by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC).

The defection did not come without any protest, as Ahmad Lawan, Leader of the Senate begged Saraki to step down the list containing names of defectors noting that the crisis rocking the APC will soon be resolved. He was jeered by senators, who kept yelling ‘point of order.’

Saraki, who had been rumoured as one of those to defect was silent on his next move. He predicted that more people would defect in the coming days and lampooned the ruling APC and the Federal Government for muzzling the opposition.

Siege to Saraki, Ekweremadu’s houses

As soon as 7am, police operatives had laid siege to the homes of Saraki located in Maitama District of Abuja and that of his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu in Apo area.

A source in the media office of the Senate president told Daily Sun that Saraki got wind of the police invasion about 30 minutes before time. One of the senators who attended the meeting of BSG had reportedly alerted Saraki of plans to barricade his house.

The police in the early hours had barricaded the street leading to the residents in Maitama, preventing his motorcade from leaving the vicinity.

But a source close to Saraki said that unknown to the Police, the Senate president had left his home as early as 5am.

Unlike his usual long convoy, Saraki arrived at the National Assembly at about 6.45am through the back gate in a saloon Mercedes and made for his office, where he stayed until the session started at 10.40am.

While the Police were still holding down his motorcade, Saraki appeared in the red chambers.

Ekweremadu, on the other hand, was stopped from leaving his Apo residence by a combined team of police, EFCC and Department of State Service (DSS), who barricaded the street leading to his residence.

Confirming the siege, his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Uche Anichukwu, in a telephone conversation said: “I can tell you this is true. The house of Ekweremadu is presently surrounded by DSS and EFCC operatives.”

A plot to oust Saraki, others failed

According to informed sources, the siege was part of a grand plot allegedly masterminded by members of the Parliamentary Support Group for President Muhammadu Buhari, to effect a leadership change.

Key loyalists to Buhari and Saraki arrived at the Senate chamber as early as 7am. Oluremi Tinubu, Lawan, Abdullahi Adamu, Ovie Omo-Agege and others, were among the early callers.

On Saraki’s side, Dino Melaye, Samuel Anyanwu, Ben Murray Bruce, Aita Aidoko, Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim and others, also arrived at the chamber as early as 7am.

According to multiple sources familiar with what transpired, Buhari’s loyalists had planned to impeach Saraki and Ekweremandu as president and deputy president of the Senate respectively.

With the absence of Saraki (if he had honoured police invitation) and Ekweremadu’s arrest by the EFCC, a senator from North Central, who served as governor, would have been appointed as Senate President pro tempo to act, supervise and effect the leadership change.

The principal officer from the north who was reportedly anointed to succeed Saraki was among the early arrivers at the chamber. Daily Sun gathered that at a meeting held last night by members of Buhari Parliamentary Support Group at the residence of a ranking senator plans were allegedly hatched on how to execute the plot to oust Saraki and Ekweremadu.

However, Saraki’s unexpected emergence in the chamber changed the permutations and rubbished the plot.

Saraki was meant to report to the police on account of an invitation to answer to alleged involvement in a robbery case in Offa, Kwara State some months ago.

He said there would not have been plenary if he had gone to the police headquarters, given the fact that Ekweremadu was prevented from leaving his home.

Meanwhile, the Senate has proceeded on its annual vacation and adjourned plenary till September 26.

SENATE-PDP

Bukola Saraki enters the Senate at the surprise of the members after police tried to stop him

No cause for alarm – APC, Oshiomhole

The ruling party and its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole have dismissed the mass defection with a wave of the hand as a non-issue.

National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said in a statement that the APC remains in firm control of 25 states of the 36 states of the federation and maintains a clear majority in the House of Representatives and state assemblies.

It urged its members to remain calm as it continued to work hard to position the party strongly for the 2019 general elections.

“We assure members and supporters that our great party will continue to consolidate on our majority status in the leadup to the 2019 general elections, even as our government continues to work hard to deliver on our promises to Nigerians.”

In his reaction, Oshiomhole maintained that he would not lose sleep over the mass defection.

He described them as big masquerades with no electoral value who will soon be disgraced in the 2019 elections.

Oshiomhole who spoke after meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa Abuja said the defectors were men and women with no honour.

“I am committed to listening to very legitimate grievances and engaging all those who are aggrieved that we can see through their grievances. But I insist that I will not miss a sleep one minute over mercenary activities.

“I had said and I want to repeat, this business of governance must be driven by men and women of honour. If the only motivation is personal interest, what is in it for me, if that is the basis, the earlier those in this business of personal gains returned to where they belong, the better.

“This party that I am privileged to the chair is not worried at all, we are not disturbed, I am not going to miss my sleep and we will go into the campaign. Check the electoral results, you will find that a lot claimed to have decamped. On a good day, the vote they got that made them members of the Senate, our president got much more in their constituency. So, we are not fooled at all….I am not a poor student of struggle, I am not a professor of struggle, I am a product of struggle, I know what I am talking about. Very soon Nigerians will go to the polls and we will see who will deliver what in his constituency.”

Asked if the Senate adjourning till September did not have implication for the party, he said no.

“The business of the Senate or the National Assembly is not to legislate for the good governance of APC, it is to legislate for the good governance of Nigeria. If people have chosen that it is more politically convenient to suspend the process of legislation ahead of time because it is not convenient for their political interests and choose to insubordinate the Nigerian national interest for that purpose, it is their choice. If there are implications it is for the Nigerian nation not for APC.”

I’m not surprised – Balarabe Musa

The former governor of old Kaduna State and National leader of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa has said the siege on the Abuja residence of Saraki and the mass defection did not surprise him.

“In short, the NASS is under siege by the presidency. The president taking on the NASS this way should not be a surprise anybody because since the beginning of this administration the relationship has not been good between the Executive and the Legislature.

“With this recent development, it amounts to a fight to finish between this two arms of government.

“It took President Buhari so long to form a cabinet, and the appointment came from all sources. So I am not surprised at what is happening with the president.

“Now that the NASS has adjourned plenary for almost two months, they are leaving the president to perform alone.  (The Sun)

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