The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, on Tuesday, condemned the appointment of a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, as the Acting Inspector-General of Police.
The group said the injustice of the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari was responsible for the growing agitations and insecurity in the South-East.
Ohanaeze National Publicity Secretary, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, stated this in an interview with The Punch.
Buhari appointed Baba, another northerner, as IGP despite pleas by Ohanaeze that the President considers a South-Easterner as the next police boss.
Baba is taking over from Mohammed Adamu, whose tenure Buhari extended for three months on February 4.
While reacting to his appointment, Ohanaeze said it was most unfortunate that the President has chosen to sideline the people of the South-East in his recent appointment of service chiefs and now in the appointment of an IGP.
Ogbonnia said, “It is unjust and unfair to sideline the South-East in the security architecture of the country. Injustice promotes insecurity; it promotes all forms of crisis and problems. With injustice, there is no peace anywhere.
“What is happening in the South-East today in the form of agitations is as a result of injustice. So, we the elders are put in a great dilemma because the younger generation is attacking us and we have been telling them to hold on, believing that the President would have a change of mind.
“We thought that the President would be concerned about the level of injustice, agitations and crises we have in the South-East and would try to ameliorate these things but unfortunately, he is not thinking towards that direction. It is most unfortunate and Ohanaeze will come up with a stronger statement.”
•Deploys security, intelligence agents to Imo, South-East region
By Jude Johnson
President Muhammadu Buhari has described Monday’s attacks on the correctional center and police headquarters in Imo State as “acts of terrorism”.
Buhari, who is currently on a two-week sick leave in London, reacted to the attacks through his senior media assistant, Garba Shehu.
The president ordered the immediate deployment of officers from all security and intelligence agencies in the state and South-East region toward apprehension of the suspects behind the attacks.
Buhari said the assailants must be made to pay for the consequences of their actions according to provisions of the law.
The president also ordered the immediate arrest of inmates who were freed during the attack on the correctional facility, saying many of them are believed to be “deadly criminals”.
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had earlier accused members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) of being behind the attacks.
Read full statement:
PRESIDENT BUHARI CONDEMNS DARING TERRORIST ATTACKS IN IMO
DIRECTS RELEVANT FG AGENCIES TO TERMINATE THIS ANARCHY
President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the deadly insurgent attack that took place on the Police Command Headquarters and the Correctional Facility in Owerri, Imo State, on Monday, calling it an act of terrorism.
In his reaction to the incident early on Monday, President Buhari praised the initial response by security guards and security forces for preventing greater loss of life and the destruction of public property.
The President directed security and intelligence agencies in the state and the geo-political zone to fully mobilize and go after the terrorists, apprehend them and get them punished under the full weight of the law.
He also called for the best efforts to be made to rearrest fleeing prison detainees, many of whom are believed to be deadly criminals.
President Buhari then appealed to members of the public to assist the law enforcement agencies with any relevant information that could lead to the apprehension of these criminals who perpetrated this despicable act.
He also urged members of the public to be vigilant as all of us have a stake in preserving our way of life from disruption by terrorists and anarchists while the Federal Government will use every available tool at its disposal to confront and terminate this bare-faced anarchy.
Garba Shehu Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) April 05, 2021
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah on Sunday berated the current administration for its handling of Nigeria’s security challenges, saying Boko Haram terrorists are consuming the nation under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch.
Kukah in his 2021 Easter message titled, ‘Before our glory departs’, recalled that President Buhari had in 2015 described Boko Haram insurgents as a typical case of small fires causing large fires.
“On May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari, at his swearing-in as President of Nigeria, said: Boko Haram is a typical case of small fires causing large fires,” Kukah said.
“Now, before his watch, the fires are consuming the nation, and in many instances, they indeed start small.
“In all, Nigeria’s troubles are growing by the day, but our hands must remain stretched out in supplication.”
Bishop Kukah also blamed those in power for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country, noting that insecurity keeps deteriorating because the ruling class pays more attention to rehabilitating bandits and kidnappers than the victims.
He expressed concern over the killing of security operatives and the “helplessness” of the citizens, saying: “Taunted by Boko Haram, ravaged by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other merchants of death across the nation, there is collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart! Retired military and intelligence officers lament over what has become of their glorious profession as they watch the humiliation of our military personnel.
“Traumatised citizens are tortured daily by bandits. The nation has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly.
“A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hangs in the hot air. We have no message and have no idea how long this will last. Our people seek solace and protection, but frustration and darkness threaten to drown them. Is their government on AWOL?”
SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:
NIGERIA: BEFORE OUR GLORY DEPARTS
EASTER MESSAGE, April 4th 2021
By Matthew Hassan KUKAH, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese
If a religious leader is afraid to say what is right, what else can his silence mean but that he has taken flight? Hiding behind a wall of silence is like taking flight at the approach of the wolf.
Pope St. Gregory the Great (540–604 AD)
1: Easter Sunday is here again. But first, let us step back to Friday.
Good Friday was a Kairos moment for the beleaguered followers of Jesus, a defining moment that separated truth from falsehood and light from the darkness. At Golgotha, Jesus remained silent when the first thief taunted Him, and when bystanders scornfully asked him to demonstrate His divine powers by coming down from the cross. Everything about Christ–the prophecies of His birth, His life on earth, the miracles He performed, the sermons He preached, His torture and subsequent death–now hung languidly on a wooden cross on the hill of Golgotha. There were two types of persons at Golgotha: observers and waiters. The observers had two characteristics, derision and curiosity.
The waiters were characterised by hope, fear, and anxiety. Both sides watched and waited with bated breath. After His ignominious death, everything now depended on the third day. After all, He had said He would rise after three days (Mk. 9:31).
2: Let us pause and look back at the earlier events in the life of Jesus. Let us look briefly at the drama of the three temptations of Jesus by the devil as recorded by St. Matthew. First, the devil has a sense of perfect timing when he approached Jesus. He knows that Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights without food and was hungry (Mt. 4:2). Prove that you are the Son of God: turn these stones into bread, he said (Mt. 4:3). In response, Jesus says: Man will not live on bread alone (Mt. 4:4). Here, Jesus insists
that there are higher goals for us to live or die for. The devil had hoped that like the dictators of today, Jesus could seduce the people with the bread of temporal power to gain cheap followership. No, Jesus says, you must set a higher moral goal.
Second, the devil asks Jesus to throw himself down the cliff. After all, he tells Jesus, the Angels of God will hold you (Mt. 4:6). Here, Jesus is called to take a shortcut to fame.
Why travel the hard road of suffering, sacrifice, exclusion, and powerlessness? Succumb to the seduction of the dreamer, the charmer, climb the actor’s shoulder. And then what next? Jesus rejects this temptation. Why? Because God demands more than theatrical performances from us.
Third, the devil says he will give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world (money, power, territory) only if He bows and acknowledges him (Mt. 4:8). Wow! No better evidence that the devil is a liar. He knows he has no kingdom and what he has is his kingdom of darkness and lies. It was in this same manner that the devil deceived Eve at the Garden of Eden by mixing a concoction of lies. At the base of this temptation is the seduction of pride and power. God knows that the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God (Gen. 3:5). Think of the many who have sold their souls for ephemeral power, those who have denied Jesus by action so as to ascend the throne of power. By His resistance to the devil, Jesus shows that following His path will require tremendous sacrifice.
3: It’s now Saturday night. The clock is ticking. Will He or will He not rise as He said?
No one knows what to expect. Will Jesus be exposed as a fraud? The Apostles are retired, desolate, forlorn, woebegone, and despondent. Has it all come to nothing? Have they lost everything? Has it all just been an illusion? Was Peter right when he asked what their reward would be, having forgone everything to follow Him? (Mt. 19:27) Has this been one wild goose chase? Where would they turn to now? The sun gradually sets
on Saturday. The night has in its womb, a combination of the derision and curiosity binding the observers and waiters. A cloud of trepidation envelopes everywhere. The Roman authorities have built a concrete wall of military security around the grave. They sealed the stone and placed heavy military guard just in case, as they feared, His followers come and steal the body and pretend that He had risen (Mt. 27: 64).
4: Sunday morning would seal the fate of everyone on both sides.
As it turns out, the world forgot that: He who guards Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4). Before daybreak, a woman, Mary Magdalene, visits the grave to perform a simple ritual. To her shock, she finds an empty tomb! (Jn. 20:1). Slowly, painfully, unbelievably, the words go out: They have taken the body of the Lord away and we do not know where they have put Him (Jn. 20:2). They will soon realise that, indeed, His resurrection is only a fulfilment of what He had promised during His lifetime. The devil has been defeated, and the Lord has the final word. Truth has drowned falsehood. Light has overcome darkness. Good has triumphed over evil. Life has defeated death.
5: The Roman soldiers who stood guard over the grave were like dead men (Mt. 28:3).
However, rather than face punishment, the Roman authorities offered to bribe them and asked them to lie that the Lord’s body had been stolen while they were sleeping! (Mt. 28:13). It is too late: The Lord is risen indeed! World history succumbs to the power of the Creator of heaven and earth. Time and space have merged. History’s calendar is split into two. Henceforth, everything will be marked by whether it happened before or after the resurrection of Jesus Christ! This is what Christians celebrate today. But what is the implication of all this for us in Nigeria today?
6: Nigeria’s current predicament reminds me of Israel’s situation that led to the death of Eli, the great High Priest of Israel. Israel’s defeat in the hands of the Philistines led to the death of 30,000 soldiers. The two sons of the 98-year-old priest – Hophni and Phinehas – died in the battle. Eli’s two sons had foolishly carried the Ark of the Lord into the battlefield for protection, only for it to become a trophy for the victorious Philistines.
The high priest, Eli, collapsed and died after hearing this horrible news. Elsewhere, on hearing about the death of her husband, her father- in-law, and the loss of the Ark, Eli’s daughter-in-law went into premature labour. She was delivered of a baby boy–a call for great celebration in Israel! Strangely, she responded by naming her newborn son “Ichabod,” meaning, The glory has departed!
7: Taunted by Boko Haram, ravaged by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other merchants of death across the nation, there is collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart! Retired military and intelligence officers lament over what has become of their glorious profession as they watch the humiliation of our military personnel. Traumatised citizens are tortured daily by bandits. The nation has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly. A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hangs in the hot air. We have no message and have no idea how long this will last. Our people seek solace and protection, but frustration and darkness threaten to drown them. Is their government on AWOL?
8: Two weeks ago, I came across a video in which a very frustrated Muslim cleric, addressing a Muslim audience, lamented: If you killed 200 chickens in the farm of any of the big farmers, you will be dealt with. But today, we are being killed. It is your fault. On the day of elections, you say, it is Jihad! Christians will take over Nigeria! Ok, the Christians did not take Nigeria. It has been left in the hands of those who sit and see us being killed. If we are killed, the head says, God forbid! He was not elected to say God forbid. This imaginary jihad won the elections now where are the jihadists? The lesson here is that politicians will use religion to mobilise for elections, but they cannot use it to govern.
9: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria weighed in with a strong statement on February 23, 2021, titled, We Must Pull Back from the Brink of Collapse. Part of the statement read: The very survival of the nation is at stake. The nation is pulling apart.
Widespread serious insecurity for long unaddressed has left the sad and dangerous impressions that those who have assumed the duty and authority to secure the nation are either unable or worse, unwilling to take up the responsibilities to their office.
Patience is running out. Sadly, all of these warnings are still falling on deaf ears.
10: It may sound strange, but for us Christians, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ is the greatest assurance that all these will pass away. This is not a call for us to simply sit on our hands or believe we can pray our crises away. As pointed out above, the sufferings of Jesus and His Cross provide us with the perfect mirror of our hope. St. Paul reminds us: We are hard-pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (2 Cor. 4:9). These are the hallmarks of our faith. We must remain steadfast.
11: I appeal to Christians to continue in the spirit of the Gospel, the teachings of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. St. Paul says: Though He was God, he humbled himself, became man and remained obedient up till death (Phil. 2:6ff). Following in His steps, we Christians have lived through the life of martyrdom. Jesus taught us how to pray for our enemies (Mt. 5:44). Although His teachings are hard (Jn. 6:60), it was not the guns of a powerful army that brought down the walls of Jericho. The prayers of the priests did (Jos. 6:20). Jesus defied the temptations of coming down from the Cross. He knew there was a higher truth deferred. It was fulfilled on Easter day. No matter the provocation, we must arm ourselves with the weapons of truth, the Word, the Spirit, and love. At the heart of Christianity is the Truth and Love.
12: Today, many of us erroneously speak about the trial of Jesus by Pilate on Good Friday. In reality, it was Pilate who stood trial, not Jesus. Pilate sat on a throne to judge what he himself was ignorant of–the truth. Chained by ignorance, the powerful often grope around a twilight zone between truth and lies. At the mention of the word “Truth” by Jesus, Pilate was jolted from his chair. In trepidation and apprehension, the mighty man says, Truth, what is that? (Jn. 18:38). Pilate was looking for the Truth but did not recognise it when it stood right before him. In every age, the seduction of raw power tends to blind the Pilates of this world to the truth.
13: When governments face legitimacy crises, they fall back on serving the sour broth of propaganda, half-truths, and outright lies. They manufacture consent by creating imaginary enemies, setting citizens against one another by deploying religion, ethnicity, region, and other platforms while appealing to the base emotions of patriotism. We forget the reality that without truth, the throne of power often turns into a cage, and the occupant is turned into a prisoner. In reality, the truth needs neither a judge nor a witness. The truth is its own judge and witness. Without the truth, as the old song says, all else is sinking sand!
14: Recently, according to the World Happiness Report, we are one of the unhappiest nations in the world. This is unacceptable but understandable. Our clay-footed fight against corruption has not moved the needle of transparency forward. Of course, being the poverty capital of the world comes with its rewards such as banditry, violence, death, sorrow, blood, poverty, misery, and tears. Our cup of sorrow is permanently full; hence the exponential rise in the frustration curve across the country.
15: Sadly, human life is haemorrhaging so badly in Nigeria, but the greatest tragedy is the death of empathy from those in power. Mysteriously, the government is investing billions of naira in rehabilitating so-called Boko Haram repentant members and their other partners in crime in the belief that they want to turn a new leaf. These criminals have waged war against their country, murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructure and rendered entire families permanently displaced and dislocated. Why should rehabilitating the perpetrator be more important than bringing succour to the victims?
16: When kidnapped or killed, victims and their families are left to their wits. They cry alone, bury their loved ones alone. And our government expects us to be patriotic? The victims of violence need empathy, which the dictionary defines as the ability to understand and share the feelings of the other. A critical deficit of empathy on the side of the government makes healing almost impossible for the victims. We have not heard anything about a rehabilitation programme for the thousands of schoolchildren who have been victims of abduction. We seem to assume that their return to their schools is sufficient. Left unaddressed, the traumatic effect of their horrors will haunt them for a long time. Tomorrow’s parents, military generals, top security men and women, governors, senators, and ministers will come from today’s pool of traumatised children.
The security quandary is the greatest indictment of this government.
17: There is a time for everything under the sun (Eccl. 3:1). Perhaps, we can paraphrase this by saying there is a time for war and a time for peace. There is a time for poverty and a time for wealth. There is a time for stealing and a time for returning what has been stolen. There is a time for politics and a time for governance. There is a time for tethering to the brink of chaos and a time for recovering the soul of a nation.
There is a time for the collapse of morality and a time for moral recovery. There is a time for leadership and a time for statesmanship. There is a time for losing greatness and a time for achieving greatness. Nigeria must now ask itself: What is left of our glory? Where are the values that held us together?
18: On our national Coat of Arms, we profess our motto to be: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress. But let us ask ourselves: Is Nigeria united today? Do citizens still have faith in the country? Where are the signs of peace or progress? Today, before our very eyes, these words have been emptied of their flavour and have lost their resonance and capacity to summon our citizens to patriotism. St Augustine once said: Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale? He further said that: A gang is a group of men (and women) under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention. This is the fate of our nation today. Day by day, Nigeria drifts irreversibly into a dark tunnel. Things are falling apart with unnerving rapidity because those who govern have only a pact to protect their interests. Politics is merely its conveyor belt of ambition. Nigeria has a date with destiny. If we do not turn around, The axe is alreadylaid to the roots of the tree (Mt. 3:10).
19: With some chance, we might pull through this, but it is getting tougher each passing day. Does anyone remember where we started and how we got here? On May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari, at his swearing-in as President of Nigeria, said: Boko Haram is a typical case of small fires causing large fires. Now, before his watch, the fires are consuming the nation, and in many instances, they indeed start small. The rumblings over the wearing of a hijab in Kwara State suggest that we have not seen the end of individuals sacrificing national cohesion to feed their personal ambitions by starting small fires. Most politicians hardly think through the long-term effects of these pyrrhic victories of using religion. What started as a small fire with adoption of Sharia in Zamfara in 1999, spread across the northern states. Ordinary people broke into ecstatic joy. Today, what has become of the north? What are the lessons?
20: In all, Nigeria’s troubles are growing by the day, but our hands must remain stretched out in supplication. Prophet Isaiah’s words should give us hope and consolation. He said: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (Isaiah 43:2). We shall lift our eyes to the mountain because we know that our help shall come from the Lord (Ps. 121:1). As Christians, we do not trust in God because we cannot revenge. We do not revenge because we trust in God. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still (Ex. 14:14). Just as the chains of death could not hold Jesus in the grave, so shall we triumph. Break into shouts of joy together, O ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has consoled his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem (Isaiah 52:9). Have hope and be cheerful (Rom. 12:12).
One of the umbrella bodies of herdsmen in Nigeria, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, says South-West governors, with their anti-herdsmen stance, are creating problem for the All Progressives Congress Chieftain, Bola Tinubu, and his rumoured presidential ambition in 2023.
Spokesman for the group, Saleh Alhassan, spoke on Wednesday while featuring on PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable.
Of late, nomadic herders in parts of the country, especially in the South-West geopolitical zone, have been accused of trespassing on farmlands of host farmers with their cattle. Farm produce worth millions of naira have been destroyed in the last few months. Some herders have also been accused of raping women in host communities, kidnapping the rich and in some cases, killing host residents, amongst other unprintable crimes.
Governors in the zone under the aegis of the South-West Governors’ Forum chaired by Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, have come up with many proposed solutions including prohibition of open grazing, night grazing, under-age grazing, amongst others.
Many leaders in Yorubaland including leader of socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, had also said Tinubu was afraid to speak on the herders crisis because he does not want to jeopardise his 2023 presidential ambition and because he does not want to offend the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
But the former Lagos State governor broke his silence on the matter on March 13, 2021 in a statement titled, ‘Tinubu’s Statement On The Herder Crisis’.
In the statement made available to The PUNCH, the former Lagos State governor urged state governments to convert unoccupied public lands to ranches for herdsmen.
Reacting to the proposed idea by Tinubu as a way of solving the near-perennial farmers-herders crisis rocking the nation, the Miyetti Allah spokesman lauded the idea but said the country was not yet ready to embrace or implement “progressive solutions”.
Alhassan said, “I sympathise with him (Tinubu) because if he says more than what he is saying, they will say may be he is pushing for his presidential ambition. That is why he takes time before he even respond but I expected him to call all his political godsons —who are governors — that are causing this confusion to order. He should call them and say, ‘Hey, when I become president, I will solve this problem for us’ (and) not to create problem for him, for his ambition.”
When asked whether the farmers-herders crisis could affect the political ambition of Tinubu, Alhassan alleged, “When you have a group of people attacking citizens, does it translate to political love? When you have the supposed Amotekun joining militants to attack traders in Shasha (in Oyo State), burn their properties, does it give a good political value to whoever wants to get support from those people?”
He also said the crisis was being exaggerated to score political points, adding that the Fulani herders who are of the same ethnic stock as the President are not enjoying any special preference or benefits from the Buhari regime.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, has once more enjoined Ndigbo to embrace the governement of President Muhammadu Buhari as it is a sure bet for their national integration as a people.
He made this call when a high powered delegation of chieftains of Ohanaeze Ndigbo General Assembly Worldwide paid him a visit at the State House Abuja yesterday.
In a Statement by Adesina, the SA to the President said “they came to laud President Muhammadu Buhari for the good work he’s doing in the South East.”
“It was my pleasure to receive Barrister Basil Onuoha, Amb Obizoba Chiemelu, and Barrister Chimzobam Nnalue, who were unanimous that the South East never had it so good as under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, pointing to roads, bridges, and many other infrastructure works.”
The leader of the delegation, Barr. Basil Onuoha said that the president should continue to consider Igbos in his developmental initiatives.
“We identify with this government, as it is very fair to Igbos,” he submitted.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was on Tuesday conferred with the Niger Republic’s highest national honour, Grand Croix Des Ordre National Du Niger.
He was conferred with the honour by the country’s outgoing President, Mahamadou Issoufou.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled “President Buhari receives highest Niger Republic award, congratulates outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou on Mo Ibrahim prize.”
Adesina quoted the President as congratulating Issoufou for successful completion of his second tenure, and winning the prestigious 2020 Mo Ibrahim prize for Achievement in African Leadership, describing him as a worthy African leader.
He said Buhari felicitated with the outgoing leader for upholding the tenets of democracy, improving the economy of his country and consolidating the good relations that existed between both countries.
The President was quoted as saying that “Mr. President, let me start by congratulating you on the successful completion of your second term as President of our sister country, the Republic of Niger.
“I also congratulate the good people of Niger for the successful conduct of a free, fair and credible election.
“The achievements during your tenure as President have been widely acclaimed including through your recent award of the Mo Ibrahim Prize.
“You have earned the respect and affection of your people at home and your brethren across the border in Nigeria.”
Buhari said his first visit after swearing-in in 2015 was to Niger Republic, noting that the choice of a neighbouring country underscored the value and quality of relations between both countries.
“Nigeria-Niger relations are based on a long common border and shared cultural and historical roots. Relations between the two countries have, over the years, been very cordial and fraternal. There is a spirit of good neighbourliness between us.
“Nigeria’s borders with Niger have always been largely peaceful. There have been no serious border conflicts between the two countries.
“Each country has based its diplomatic relations upon non-interference in the internal affairs of the other. It is therefore gratifying to state that Niger has remained one of the most trusted and reliable neighbours of Nigeria,’’ the President added.
Buhari said the cultural similarity between both countries, which include common languages such as Hausa, Kanuri and Fulfude and a common border of one thousand five hundred (1500) kilometres, further strengthened good relations, adding that Nigeria and Niger “refused to be divided and alienated by the artificial borders imposed by the former colonial powers.’’
He said the emergence of President Issoufou in 2011 marked a watershed in the relationship between the two countries as the frontier of cooperation expanded and mutual trust further strengthened, while congratulating the President-elect, Mohamed Bazoum, for winning the elections.
The President urged the President-elect of Niger to build on the achievements of his predecessor in office.
“Many landmark projects were initiated and successfully executed, among which was the successful border re-demarcation exercise without any incident. The socio-economic partnership resulted in the ground-breaking ceremony of a railway project from the North West of Nigeria to Maradi in Niger, which is in furtherance of regional and continental integration, joint venture and inter-state trade.
“The military cooperation that has availed the Nigerian Intelligence community information on the activities of terrorists is additional evidence of this solidarity. It was against this backdrop that Niger agreed to become part of the multinational effort to tackle insurgents’ activities across the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad Republics.
“As you know, this culminated in the establishment of the Multi-National Joint Task Force under the auspices of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, with Sector 4 based in Diffa, Republic of Niger,’’ he said.
Buhari also said some of Nigeria’s prestigious military institutions like Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji and National War College, Abuja, and the Police Academy in Gwoza and Kano have provided training for the security officers of the neigbouring country.
In his remarks, President Issoufou thanked President Buhari and all Nigerians for the support he received as leader of his country for ten years, particularly during his time as Chairman of ECOWAS, describing Nigeria as a “second home’’.
The Nigerien President said the highest national award of his country was bestowed on President Buhari because of his “fraternity, vigour, patriotism and determination to move Africa forward, starting from the West Coast.’’
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the Nigerien President distinguished himself in leadership at both national and regional levels, leaving a legacy of avoiding the trap of altering the constitution to prolong his stay in office.
Onyeama said the Mo Ibrahim award was most deserved.
■ The sidestepping of Nigeria is seen as reflective of the country’s declining global appeal.
By Ini Ekott
U.S. President Joe Biden made his first call to an African leader last week, apparently choosing not to speak to Nigeria’s President Buhari, an omission experts say reflects not only America’s diplomatic priorities but Nigeria’s estimation at a time the continent’s largest democracy faces staggering domestic problems.
Mr Biden reached out to Africa Thursday after more than a month in office and a flurry of phone calls to American allies around the world.
He spoke to President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, while Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday.
Mr Biden had earlier spoken to President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa in November 2020, days after his election.
The obvious sidestepping of Nigeria, long seen as an influential regional leader, has not gone unnoticed.
“It’s an indication that the United States government doesn’t think too much about our performance as a country right now. It’s as simple as that,” said Jide Osuntokun, professor of History and International Relations at the Osun State-based Redeemer University.
“Many governments outside Nigeria are worried about the future of our country. So it’s an indication that you have to do something or the world will pass you by.”
Many global leaders traditionally view engagements with their American counterparts, either through telephone calls or visits, as a gauge of their countries’ strategic interests with respect to the foreign policies of the world’s most powerful nation. They also pay attention to the timing of those interactions.
Former President Barack Obama called 22 world leaders in four days after his election in 2008, while President Donald Trump called 20 within seven days of his election in 2016, according to CNN data.
Mr Biden telephoned 19 global leaders in six days of his election, and as of Tuesday, had spoken to 17 leaders since taking office on January 20, White House releases compiled by PREMIUM TIMES show. The calls were made to close allies such as the United Kingdom and to those with security concerns such as Iraq and to rivals like Russia.
When Mr Biden delayed contacting America’s closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, the country took notice. Israel’s oldest newspaper, the left wing-leaning Hareetz, warned it was a “wake-up call”, and blamed it on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closeness to Mr Trump, and the alienation of the now ruling Democratic Party.
“The White House said Biden would be calling Netanyahu soon. But even after that happens, Israel will need a lot of time to repair the damage he did to the ties with the Democratic Party,” the paper said in a February 15 editorial.
Mr Biden’s office said it was not a deliberate snub, and Mr Netanyahu argued the U.S. president had not called other Middle East leaders. The two leaders eventually spoke on February 17.
‘Unstable and Insecure’ Like Europe and the Middle East where American engagements have almost always followed a pattern – UK or France or Germany, and Israel first – U.S. leaders have for decades contacted mostly the same select group of few African countries.
Their phone calls or visits have been mostly to Egypt and South Africa. Nigeria, which has received three American presidents (Egypt has received the most – 16), has seen a decline with no American president visiting in 18 years.
President Biden has promised increased engagement with Africa after the halfheartedness of the Trump years. His administration’s early choice is seen by some as reflective of Nigeria’s declining global standing. They worry it may shape future relations with other nations, although others say it is the leadership, not Nigeria, that is on trial.
“If you have a leadership that is not dynamic, that is not global in outlook you will not call such a leader,” said Sheriff Folarin, professor of International Relations at Covenant University. “If I were in President Biden’s shoes, I will not call the president of Nigeria. I won’t call him.”
He said that does not mean “I would not have something to do with Nigeria because Nigeria’s place in Africa can never be under-emphasised.”
In addition to losing its position as a major exporter of crude oil to the U.S., Nigeria has stacked insecurity baggage that afflicts everything from food to foreign investment. The Buhari administration has done little to show leadership, analysts say.
“In the last few years, it’s obvious to us Nigerians that we have been punching below our weight internationally. We cannot secure our own territory not to talk of being able to secure our region,” Professor Osuntokun said.
“With the instability we have in the country, with the insecurity and the unfortunate appearance of our government not willing to do anything about it, many governments outside Nigeria are worried about the future of our country.”
While that happens, relatively smaller African nations appear to be seizing the moment to resolve basic needs like power and critical infrastructure. And they are getting the attention.
Besides President Tshisekedi being the current chairman of the African Union, the DRC remains critical to the U.S. economic interest with its vast mineral resources essential for America’s tech industry. The country attracted more foreign direct investment than Nigeria between 2017 and 2019, retaining a place in the top five destinations in the continent, according to United Nations data.
In her call to Mr Tshikekedi, U.S. Vice President Harris spoke about the two countries exploring “economic opportunity” in their two nations.
In his call to Mr Kenyatta, Mr Biden applauded Kenya’s leadership in the Horn of Africa and emphasised the U.S. commitment to working closely with the country to support regional peace and security. The two leaders also discussed the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights crises in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
Mr Osuntokun hopes Nigerian leaders will read the signs and change the direction of the country.
“Some of us are worried about what is going on. The total breakdown of law and order. We can’t travel, even within the country, people are afraid to drive on the highways. And all these things will be communicated to the home governments not only to America but to all the governments that have diplomatic representation here,” he said.
“So it’s an indication to us that if we want to be taken seriously, we have to make sure that our home is secure and stable.”
Mr Sheriff said he was hopeful the country will receive the required attention in future.
“There are many issues Nigeria is contending with at the moment, and you can’t just call Nigeria now and say you want to talk about Africa. Nigeria is distracted right now because of its own internal problems,” he said. (Premium Times)
The new EFCC Chief appointed by Buhari, Abdulrasheed Bawa was arrested for theft of confiscated assets and selling of these assets and pocketing the money accruing from such assets, while the cases of the ceased assets were still in Court.
In a publication by People’s Gazette which were seen by The Republican News, it detaied the scale of money made by him through relooting looted assets.
Below is details of that case publish in 2020 before he was appointed the Head of EFCC office in Lagos.
Abdulrasheed Bawa’s transfer to the agency’s most prestigious bureau came amidst probe of his untidy involvement in depletion of confiscated assets.
Abdulrasheed Bawa, head of EFCC field office in Lagos now under investigation for alleged loot of recovered assets The management board of the EFCC confirmed a controversial senior detective to a prestigious appointment despite a slate of unsettled corruption allegations and a cacophony of colleagues who cried foul over the potential damage the agency could suffer if it continues to reward questionable conduct within its ranks.
The anti-graft office asked Abdulrasheed Bawa to lead its field office in Lagos with effect from August 8, despite an active probe of his alleged theft of confiscated proceeds of ill-gotten loot at his previous appointment in Port-Harcourt, multiple sources briefed on the matter told Peoples Gazette.
Mr. Bawa was in-charge of the Port-Harcourt zonal office last year when dozens of petrol-bearing trucks that were confiscated from suspected looters were abruptly auctioned off to his proxies at “ridiculous prices,” sources said.
Three of his junior colleagues who were alarmed by the sheer mismanagement of priced public assets and other suspicious acts of Mr. Bawa’s took immediate steps to curb his excesses by filing anonymous complaints to the headquarters in Abuja, the Gazette understands.
He was subsequently arrested and detained for several days in Port-Harcourt before Ibrahim Magu, erstwhile head of the agency, ordered his transfer to the agency’s training school in Abuja pending conclusion of investigation.
The months-long investigation into Mr Bawa’s alleged corruption and a jarring crackdown on Mr Magu and other ex-senior officials of the EFCC were yet to be concluded when he was tapped for the top job in Lagos, a development that underscores how arbitrary power, unmoored to a transparent standard, can propel individual careers in a frightening miscarriage of justice.
“The government said Magu and others were arrested and flushed out to save the EFCC from institutional damage,” an official said. “But how can you secure people’s confidence if you only trade one crooked officer for another?”
Five anti-graft officials who spoke with the Gazette for this story wished to remain anonymous, citing their active engagement status and a lack of clearance to speak to journalists on a matter that was still under investigation. The Gazette agreed not to identify them in accordance with its policy on anonymous sources.
Mr. Bawa was accused of selling at least 244 trucks worth between N20-30 million each to his proxies at N100,000, or slightly more, per unit.
A proxy sold one of the tankers to a businessman in Ibadan for N14.8 million, officials said, lamenting that the businessman has been evading invitation and the agency is reluctant to declare him wanted in order not to draw public attention to the investigation.
Officials said Mr. Bawa’s handling of the trucks had deprived the Nigerian people of at least N4.88 billion in potential loot recovery.
“If you take a conservative approach and multiply the trucks by N20 million each, even though some were far above that price, you will arrive at N4.88 billion for the 244 trucks he sold out,” a senior EFCC official said. “So Bawa is being compensated for ensuring that nearly N5 billion did not go into the public treasury.”
EFCC’s overhead for 2019 was N3.6 billion, which was also enough to cover its staff strength of 4,962, officials said.
Procedurally, recovered cash and assets are returned to the public coffers upon conclusion of forfeiture proceedings in court. While some of the 244 trucks have been declared as proceeds of corruption by the Federal High Court, the Gazette learnt that forfeiture proceedings on most of them have yet to be concluded before Mr. Bawa sold them off.
For nearly two weeks, Mr. Bawa declined multiple requests for comment from the Gazette for this story.
Wilson Uwujaren, chief spokesman for the EFCC, said he could not provide information on the status of the probe and the decision of moving a subject of an active investigation to Lagos.
“Since the issues of assets are already before the presidential panel, for now we cannot comment on those things,” Mr. Uwujaren told the Gazette on Thursday afternoon.
But in January, Mr. Uwujaren defended Mr. Bawa’s action publicly, saying there was no wrongdoing in the sale of the trucks. Nonetheless, he said in the same statement that a probe had been ordered into the suspicious auction.
Mr. Bawa, a deputy chief detective superintendent, was first confronted by Ola Olukoyede, then EFCC secretary, about the whereabouts of petrol tankers that were under forfeiture by Port-Harcourt zonal office in late 2019, multiple sources, including one official who was present, told the Gazette.
Ola Olukoyede, EFCC secretary on suspension from office. He investigated the controversial sale of recovered assets [Photo Credit: EFCC Twitter Account] Mr. Olukoyede had received complaints that Mr. Bawa was tampering with seized assets that were still undergoing forfeiture proceedings in court. It is illegal to take possession of a citizen’s assets without a due process, which involves getting a federal judge to declare such assets as proceeds of public loot.
“He was asked to explain what happened to over 240 trucks that the zonal office was trying to secure their forfeitures,” a source said. “But he was unable to explain.”
The source said Mr. Bawa initially told Mr. Olukoyede that he got the directives to sell the trucks from Mr. Magu, but he declined to write that claim in his statement.
“It turned out that he was just dropping names, or he was trying to protect Magu,” a source said. “He refused to write it in his statement that it was Magu who sent him.”
The source said Mr. Olukoyede immediately called Mr. Magu, who was away on an official trip at the time, with details of what transpired in Port-Harcourt. After concluding his findings, Mr. Olukoyede returned to Abuja, expecting Mr. Magu to take action upon his return from the trip.
Mr Olukoyede, who has since been suspended from office as part of the raging presidential probe, declined comments for this story.
When he returned, Mr. Magu made an urgent trip to Port-Harcourt, and Mr. Bawa was removed as the zonal head the next day.
“He was ordered to be detained in Port-Harcourt for several days,” another source familiar with the matter said. “He was then asked to report at the training school in Abuja, which we thought would be the end of his career.”
Mr. Magu did not return a request for comment. But in its January statement, the EFCC said Mr. Magu did not benefit from the controversial sale of the trucks, but instead allowed a transparent process to play out.
‘Unmerited and highly political’
Anti-graft detectives, mostly deputy chief detective superintendents, said they thought posting Mr. Bawa to the training school, known as ‘Siberia’ amongst personnel, would take him out of circulation.
They were, however, “disappointed” when a posting circular on August 8 said he had been transferred to Lagos.
An internal memo confirms Mr. Bawa’s transfer to Lagos on August 8, 2020. “We saw him on the list as the new head of Lagos office, and everyone revolted,” the source said. “But our revolt was a quiet one.”
As a member of the elite ‘Course 1’, EFCC’s first set of cadets now mostly at grade-level 13, Mr. Bawa has flaunted his association with Mr Magu, and once acclaimed himself ‘anointed leader’ of the so-called ‘Magu Boys’, sources said.
Mr. Magu led the EFCC from November 2015 until his disgraceful ouster on July 7. He was accused of grossly enriching himself while arresting and prosecuting other Nigerians for graft.
Although a government panel that was raised to hear the charges has yet to return its recommendations, Mr. Magu strongly denied all corruption and abuse of power allegations and asked his lawyers to file court processes aimed at clearing his name.
Still, serving EFCC officials who believe Mr. Magu deserved his inglorious exit said his collaborators within the anti-graft office should have equally suffered a similar fate.
But rather than being affected by his ties to Mr. Magu, Mr. Bawa has instead been propelled to the very job he had deemed beyond reach, his colleagues said.
“He was a don of Magu Boys,” one of his colleagues said. “But he thought his career had finished when he was caught in Port-Harcourt, detained for days and later transferred to the EFCC training school in Karu.”
The EFCC’s zonal office in Lagos is seen as the agency’s main hub of operations, earning a long-standing dread as the nemesis of advanced-fee crooks, corporate racketeers, money launderers and other economic criminals in the commercial capital.
Mr. Bawa’s elevation as the head of Lagos zone, ‘de-facto vice-chairman’ as officers described it to the Gazette, stemmed from his foamy political ties than fortitude, sources said.
Despite being a close associate of Mr. Magu’s, Mr. Bawa managed to maintain a working relationship with Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s controversial attorney-general who spent years waging supremacy war against the former head of EFCC, according to two EFCC officials familiar with his dealings.
Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami [Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria] “He was friends with both enemies,” an official said. “It is now clear that his transfer to Lagos is unmerited and highly political.”
Mr. Malami, himself a subject of multiple corruption claims he has denied, finally realised his plans to remove Mr. Magu from office after years of confrontation. He has since taken over the activities of the anti-graft agency and is believed to be behind a slate of policy changes aimed at undoing Mr. Magu’s legacy.
Both Mr. Malami and a spokesperson for his office did not return requests seeking comments about the attorney-general’s relationship with Mr. Bawa.
‘Joke of the year’
The EFCC has been Nigeria’s most prominent bulwark against endemic corruption since it was introduced by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003.
EFCC Head Office, Abuja. Head Office Complex of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Tuesday (15/5/18) 02538/15/5/2018/Callistus Ewelike/NAN Since inauguration, its successive heads have been dogged by the spectre of being disgraced out of office, often on allegations of corruption they were detailed to combat.
From Nuhu Ribadu and Farida Waziri to Ibrahim Lamorde and Mr. Magu, every leadership has been mired in controversies. Shortly before his removal from office in 2015, the Nigerian Senate said Mr. Lamorde had mismanaged over $5 billion in public funds. He denied the allegations as a smear campaign.
Fatima Ibrahim, an anti-corruption activist, said the EFCC cannot be taken seriously if its leadership cannot stay above temptation.
“It is now very important that they focus on fighting corruption within their ranks,” Ms. Ibrahim said, decrying Mr. Bawa’s appointment as “an insult to Nigerians.”
“They have promoted someone who has been under investigation for corrupt practices to lead an anti-corruption drive,” Ms. Ibrahim said. “This would be the joke of the year but for its serious ramifications for the country.”
Muhammadu Buhari became Nigeria’s president in 2015 on the back of a promise to check corruption, but his government has continued to wither from one corruption scandal to another.
President Buhari -2 President Buhari has faced calls to do more to check corruption in his government (Photo Credit: Twitter) Other than Messrs. Malami, Magu and Bawa, Mr. Buhari’s top administration secretary, Babachir Lawal, was disgraced out of office in October 2017 after being exposed for stealing funds earmarked for displaced victims of Boko Haram.
Mr. Lawal’s dismissal came months after Mr. Buhari had spent months exonerating the then-secretary to the government against federal lawmakers who wanted him fired and prosecuted for the theft, later widely dubbed as the grass-cutting scandal.
“For a government that keep repeating its unproven bona fides on corruption, there have been too many corruption scandals under this government for anyone to take it seriously,” Ms. Ibrahim said.
Senior aides regularly dismiss criticism that Mr. Buhari’s anti-corruption strategy is a ruse, saying the president does not hesitate to remove, and sometimes recommend for prosecution, any official found with tangible claims of theft or abuse of power.
It was not immediately clear whether or not the presidential panel probing alleged corruption and abuses at the EFCC was aware of Mr. Bawa’s ongoing probe. A spokesperson for the panel did not return a request seeking comments.
■ Asks Senate to confirm him to seal Magu’s ouster
By Jude Johnson
President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to confirm Abdulrasheed Bawa as the substantive Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
What this means is that the suspended and embattled former acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, is effectively ousted from the system.
This was disclosed on Tuesday in a statement by Femi Adeaina, that Bawa, 40, is a thorough-bred and EFCC-trained investigator.
Read the full statement…
The new anti-corruption Czar, Abdulrasheed Bawa PRESIDENT BUHARI REQUESTS SENATE TO CONFIRM ABDULRASHEED BAWA AS EFCC BOSS
President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to confirm Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In a letter to President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the President said he was acting in accordance with Paragraph 2(3) of Part1, CAP E1 of EFCC Act 2004.
Bawa, 40, is a trained EFCC investigator with vast experience in the investigation and prosecution of Advance Fee Fraud cases, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic crimes.
He has undergone several specialized trainings in different parts of the world, and was one of the pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers in 2005.
Bawa holds a B.Sc degree in Economics, and Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy.
Femi Adesina Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity) February 16, 2021