Dennis Aghanya, Justice Walter Onnoghen, Muhammadu Buhari
The identity of the man who wrote a damning petition against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has been revealed.
According to online information about Mr. Dennis Aghanya, he was a media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari between 2009 and 2011; while he was also a pioneer National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change.
Aghanya is not new to controversy, as he once advised the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, to dissolve the party’s two factions in Enugu State when they couldn’t seem to agree on the way forward.
In a letter made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on the APC Enugu issue, Aghanya had said, “The situation is currently threatening the fortunes of the party to the detriment of efforts by serious candidates who are investing time and finance to ensure victory for themselves and President Muhammadu Buhari at the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
“I suggest that the National Working Committee of the APC should, as a matter of urgency, dissolve the two factions led by Okey Ogbodo and Ben Nwoye respectively.
According to him, ignoring the advice will amount to deliberately weakening the party to the advantage of the incumbent in Enugu State;and that it will deliberately “sabotage Buhari from making inroad into the South East.”
Aghanya, on November 5, 2018, as reported by NAN, as the Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, led a coalition of 24 Civil Society Organisations (C24) to assert that some “desperate politicians” were planning to destabilise the country’s peace, before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
Aghanya raised the alarm on behalf of the coalition at a news conference in Abuja. The allegation has not been proved, however.
Again, on April 29, 2018 Aghanya-led ARDI appealed to the National Assembly to show understanding over President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged purchase of $496m aircraft from the U.S. without due process.
He had told the legislators: “The President, as a human being, could make mistakes.”
He then advised the legislators to avoid actions that would heat up the system, NAN had reported then.
Aghanya is reasonably active on Facebook, with mostly political posts, though his LinkedIn page is nuanced. He is new to Twitter and has only made three tweets within his nine months of joining, all on political matters.
His petition against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, is Aghanya’s latest foray into public space. (Punch)
There was a rowdy session in the Senate on Tuesday over the four members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The senators were divided as the lawmakers from the South-East and the South-South protested the exclusion of the two geopolitical zones by the President in his nominations.
But the senators from the North, particularly the All Progressives Congress members, argued that the Senate should proceed with the confirmation of the nominees.
The division led to a resolution to suspend the confirmation for more legislative input.
The nominees whose names were submitted to the Senate for confirmation are Ndasule Moses (North-Central), Lawan Mamman (North-East), Galadanci Imam Najip (North-West) and Adeleke Adebayo Rafiu (South-West).
The Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes led by Chukwuka Utazi had presented a report on the nominees to the plenary.
The committee recommended their confirmation on the basis of their “qualification, experience and suitability” for the job.
However, Utazi said the committee noted that the nominations did not reflect the Federal Character principle as the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones were excluded.
He stated, “The committee observed that three out of the four nominees were from the North-Central, North-East and North-West geopolitical zones, with only one nominee from the southern part of the country, that is South-West.
“The committee notes that this is not in strict compliance with the Federal Character Principle as provided for in section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The committee makes this observation to guide the Executive in future nominations,” Utazi said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that after the committee had presented its report, senators Rabiu Kwankwaso (PDP Kano Central) and Barau Jibrin (APC-Kano North) supported its recommendation that the nominees should be confirmed based on their “experience and competence.”
However, trouble began when Senator Victor Umeh (APGA-Anambra Central), rose to oppose the nominations because they would send more wrong signals about the fight against corruption.
The senator noted that “while the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, is from the North-East, the recently confirmed Secretary of the commission, Olanipkekun Olukoyede, is from the South-West and two of the nominees are from the North.”
Umeh said, “Mr President, we have continued to say this that there is a need to accommodate all parts of Nigeria in activities of government, particularly in appointing people into agencies of government.
“That has been the practice in this chamber, and on this issue of fight against corruption, the EFCC is a very important commission because the fight involves all parts of Nigeria.
“People are investigated in all parts of Nigeria and the commission cannot fight corruption to the satisfaction of all Nigerians if some parts of the country are not represented in it.”
He added, “This makes a total of four people from the North. The South-East and South-South are not accommodated in this commission.
“It is important that we include all regions in governing roles and in the fight against corruption, as it involves us all. All geopolitical zones should be included in this commission.”
He urged the Senate to be “bold enough” to step down consideration of the report and return the nomination to the Presidency.
Senator Matthew Urighide (PDP-Edo-South) supported Umeh, saying the exclusion of the South-South and the South-East would paint a bad picture.
Urighide also called on the Senate to step down consideration of the report until federal character was reflected in the nomination.
He stated, “Let us delegate people to look at the distribution of these appointments. I suggest that this matter be stood down while it is looked into.”
Eyinnaya Abaribe from Abia State also argued that the confirmation should be stepped down and nominees be returned to the President for reconsideration.
Asked by the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, to give more information on the composition of the EFCC board membership, Utazi said there were six positions, including the chairman and secretary.
He noted that the positions could go round the six geopolitical zones of the country, and give everyone a sense of justice, describing the “lopsidedness” as unfair to the excluded zones.
The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC-Yobe North), however, said as far as the nominations were concerned, no law was breached.
He said that they did not breach the EFCC Act which, he argued, was silent on the zones from which the members should be appointed.
Senator Ali Ndume also said the issue should not have been raised on the floor of the Senate since the chairman of the committee who is from the South-East did not raise the issue.
The chamber was thrown into pandemonium as the senators rose from their seats and yelled at each other, while the rowdiness lasted.
Efforts by Saraki to calm the angry lawmakers were unsuccessful. This prompted the lawmakers to go into a closed-door session, which lasted for 25 minutes.
It was at the session held behind closed doors that they agreed the confirmation be suspended for further legislative input. (Punch)
The plan by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to assert its control over the people of the South-East and some parts of the South-South failed in most parts of the two zones yesterday.
The order by the group to the Igbo to sit at home, as a mark of remembrance of the Biafran struggle, was not obeyed in totality.
Last year, at the peak of the popularity of the group, it had shut down the whole of the South-East and parts of the South-South on May 30.
The sit-at-home in Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra State, was successful.
The Onitsha main market, as well as other markets, was shut down. Commercial banks and other big companies in both cities were also shut.
Motor parks in Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka, the state capital, were deserted as not a single bus could be found on the road. As a result, roads were also deserted, especially in the early hours of the day.
In Awka, however, the main Eke Awka market opened in the morning following what was said to be an order from the government.
Leaders of the market had, on Tuesday, announced the closure of the market.
Also, the state secretariat was open with skeletal activities going on there. The courts opened for full sessions.
In Awka, banks opened their back doors for business for fear of attacks, but there was no report of any attack.
In Ebonyi, the sit-at-home witnessed failure in the state.
In Abakaliki, the state capital, all the major markets, including the popular Abakaliki Main Market located along Gunning Road, Kpirikpiri market and Eke-Aba markets opened for business as buyers and sellers were seen transacting businesses when our correspondent visited at 10:30a.m.
The situation was the same as the mechanic village where artisans were seen doing their normal work.
All the schools in the state, both private and public, and filling stations opened for academic and commercial activities respectively.
However, few schools and shops at Nkaliki axis of the capital city refused to open for academic activities.
Although transport companies opened for activities, most of them refused to carry passengers to Asaba, Onitsha and Owerri.
Also, when New Telegraph visited banks in the capital city, normal commercial activities were ongoing.
Security agents made up of police, Army and Civil Defence were seen moving around streets and major roads in the capital city.
In the afternoon, a police helicopter was seen hovering around the capital city.
The sit-at-home order also failed in Delta State.
Public and private schools, banks, industries, shopping malls and marketplaces, especially the biggest Ogbogonogo Market, along the popular Nnebisi road in Asaba, the state capital, and the Midwifery Market along Okpanam road, were fully in session.
As early as 6 a.m. in Asaba yesterday, men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Anti-Crime Patrol, Safer Highways Patrol, Anti-Cult Patrol, Anti-Kidnapping Squad and the Eagle Eye Patrol, had mounted guards on the sensitive flash-points within the metropolis.
In Enugu, there was partial compliance with the sit-at-home order.
But 21 members of the Biafra Zionists Federation (BZF) were arrested by the police while marching to the Enugu Government House.
Our correspondent who moved round Enugu metropolis observed that security operatives were stationed at some strategic points while the mobile team patrolled the whole state, even as traffic in most roads were scanty.
Most public and private schools were shut even as the few public schools that opened witnessed low turnout of students, although some of the schools were said to be observing mid-term break.
Banks opened for business, but there was low patronage by customers, just as activities at the Enugu State Secretariat was at a low ebb as the premises were scanty and lacking the usual boisterous mien during normal working days when workers move around.
The ever-busy Coal Camp motor spare parts market and the Ogbete Main Market, as well as other markets in Enugu, were a ghost of what they used to be as most shops remain shut, with only food vendors and drinking joints holding sway.
Similarly, the ever-busy Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Shopping Complex along Ogui Road, Enugu was a ghost town as all the shops were shut.
Many traders and artisans were seen at various drinking joints.
Meanwhile, members of the BZF, led by their self-acclaimed President, Benjamin Onwuka, were at the Enugu Government House as early as 7a.m. with Biafra flags.
The group had earlier vowed to be at the Government House on May 30 for the purpose of declaration of Biafra Republic.
Our correspondent reports that upon their arrival at the Government House gate, they were rounded up by security operatives.
The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Superintendent of Police (SP) Ebere Amaraizu, confirmed the arrest of 21 agitators.
Our correspondent learnt that Onwuka and about 20 other members of the group were arrested while others escaped.
In Imo, residents defied the order as they freely went about their businesses ignoring the directive.
Unlike the last time it happened, markets, business offices, eatery joints and filling stations were all in full operations.
Not even the commercial banks which are usually careful and sensitive to issues of agitation were shut, as the Bank Road and banking hall bustled with activities.
The order did not stop civil servants, teachers and school children from reporting to their places of work and learning. Hawkers were not left out as the Bank Road/Assumpta Road hawkers were seen doing brisk business.
However, there was a heavy presence of security operative across the city. (New Telegraph)
Nineteen people, among them, an ordained Bishop, have been arrested by troops of the Nigerian Army in the ongoing Operation Crocodile Smile II in the South South and South West, for armed robbery, kidnapping and cult activities in Akwa Ibom State.
It was learnt that the Bishop, identified as Uwah Mfon and other suspects who include Saviour Friday, Nsika Udoh, Akan Monday, Abak Obong and Oyobong Frank were arrested for allegedly terrorising Abak Obong, Oruk Atai and Ikot Obong in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of the state.
Deputy Director, Army/Public Relations, and 6 Division spokesman, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, said the suspects, who were arrested by troops of 2 Brigade, have been handed over to the Police for prosecution. Iliyasu said bishop Mfon was allegedly believed to be a financier of wanted criminals terrorising the areas.
“The bishop is believed to be the financier of wanted criminals. He was arrested in Ikot Ibekwe community. “The suspect is volunteering information about gangs of kidnappers and cult members linked to him.
“All the suspects and recovered items have been handed over to relevant security agencies for possible prosecution while the operation continues,” said Iliyasu.
…Dickson justifies support for exercise
From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has said his support for Operation Crocodile Smile II in Bayelsa State has been justified. He said the military operation, which is basically made up of patrol in the creeks and rivulets, to demonstrate military presence, would enhance the security strategy the state government has been putting in place.
There had been mixed reactions in Ijaw communities since the military announced commencement of the exercise, especially its medical outreach programmes in some communities.
But Dickson, who spoke in Yenagoa, yesterday, allayed the fears of the people and disclosed that he is in full support of the military and the medical outreach programme. The governor said he had met with the top echelon of the army and had been briefed on its operation and the communities they would visit for the medical outreach programme.
He urged community leaders and the people to cooperate with the army, and noted that their presence in the waterways would drive away criminal elements who have been tormenting the people.
Dickson also assured the people that the army has promised to be professional in their operations, and added that any misconduct by any soldier should be reported to him, through dedicated hotlines lines on Contriman Direct, for him to take it up with the military.
“I think the exercise of going to the creeks in a show of force has the capacity to scare away the bad guys.
“The exercise would have a great impact on our security rating. The Operation Crocodile Smile has my support.
“The army commanders have explained to me. Bayelsans should trust me that if the army do anything illegal against my people, I will take it up with them.
“Bayelsans should trust me to speak out. We should allow the army to go to the creeks, chase out the sea-pirates, kidnappers and vandals. I have already received briefings on what they want to do.
“I would not support the military in going into any community unless there is a compelling reason or without me being informed.”
The governor also endorsed the army medical outreach when he received the Chief of Logistics, Army Headquarters, Maj. Gen. Rogers Nicholas, who delivered a letter of commendation from the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai.
“The military and other security agencies are a force for good. And, I want to seize this opportunity to call on community leaders to continue to support the military.
“We can’t have a Nigerian military that is coming here to inject people with poisonous substances. “That is not the army we have. This is our own army. These are our brothers, friends and fellow Nigerians, who mean well for all of us”. …Dickson has justified support for exercise From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has said his support for ‘Operation Crocodile Smile II in Bayelsa State has been justified. (The Sun)
The Nigerian Army has said that the military exercise, Operation Crocodile Smile II is to increase the operations of the Nigerian Army in the Niger Delta region.
The Army also reacted to the report of a vaccination which caused pandemonium in Yenagoa.
The Brigade Commander, 16 Brigade, Brig- Gen Kevin Aligbe who said the operation was to increase the rhythm and mileage of the army in the Niger Delta maintained that there was no need for the people to panic.
Aligbe spoke Saturday during the environmental exercise by the 16 Brigade as part of the activities for the period of the operation and said the Army would maintain professionalism during the exercise.
“Operation crocodile smile II is intended to increase the rhythm of our combat operations in the creeks and land-based activities. At the end of the day the operational skills of all those participating will be sharpened and of course, we would have gained more mileage. Of course, a lot of resources have been given to the army headquarters to boost what we are doing.
He said apart from the routine activities in the creeks, rivulets and all land patrols, confidence building and all of that, the military decided to undertake some communities’ relation activities to bridge the gaps between the army and the immediate communities where they reside.
On the reported vaccination, Aligbe who noted that the Army has no intention of conducting a vaccination since it is not part of its medical outreaches noted that its medical outreaches are not forced on people.
‘‘During our outreach, we do not do vaccinations, we do not do immunization; we do basic medical checks and then offer medical materials to individuals that need them and it not by force. You will be surprised that in this time and age when you have social media that not even a shadow of the called people dressed in military uniform was caught on camera, especially with everybody having a cell phone that has a camera in it. Not even one school, not anywhere the same message, the same rumour that was heard in other states, but unfortunately was replicated here in Yenegoa, yesterday and caused a lot of apprehensions but as leaders we must stay on the part of truth in making sure that the services that are expected of us are delivered to the people. That is the professional responsibility that we have to the community where we reside and so our business.” (The Sun)
As Operation Python Dance in the South-East region continues to generate controversy, the Nigerian Army said on Saturday that it would launch an operation, Crocodile Smile II, which would cover the South-South region and some parts of the South-West.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, said this in an interview with Signature TV on Saturday, monitored by our correspondent.
The army spokesman noted that “encouraging feedback” from the South-East after Python Dance I made the army commence Python Dance lI.
He said, “Look, this is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Nigerian military belongs to Nigeria and they have a duty to exercise in any part of the country. It is so sad that some people try to politicise these issues. They should have exercised patience and seen how this exercise would go.
“We had Operation Harbin Kunama II covering the North-West and parts of the North-Central this year. As soon as we are done with Egwu Eke II (Python Dance), we are also going on Crocodile Smile II that will cover the South-South and some parts of the South-West of the country.
“Operation Python Dance II came about based on the encouraging feedback we received as a result of Python Dance I held last year. This is especially because of the crimes during the ‘ember’ period in the region. You know that the South-easterners, who are enterprising and industrious people, have to return to their places at the end of the year.
“Unfortunately, some criminal elements take advantage of this period to perpetrate crimes. We have armed robberies, kidnappings, and communal clashes. But the Christmas of 2016 and New Year 2017 were the most peaceful in that part of the country, and that is attributed to the field training exercise, Python Dance I.”
The army spokesman said the activities of a group of “vocal people, out of mischief or ignorance trying to create violence” should not be taken as the stand of the South-East region.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, and 82 Division’s spokesman, Colonel Sagir Musa, while appraising Operation Python Dance II, told our correspondent on Saturday that people had been calling the communication lines supplied by the military to supply information.
Musa said, “There is no reported friction anywhere so far in the whole of the South-East. Apprehension has gone down and people are freely conducting their business. The volume of calls received so far through our dedicated public information cell phone numbers is unprecedented.”
Also, the Nigerian Navy said on Saturday that it was on a red alert to secure Nigeria’s unity, despite the tension generated by the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, said this in Abuja during the Navy Route March at the Mogadishu Cantonment, saying he had ordered the naval personnel to mobilise and secure the maritime domain.
Represented at the event by the Chief of Naval Transformation, Rear Admiral Ibe Enenwo, Ibas said, “Even without tasking, we are fully deployed in internal security situations as required by the constitution and for our own peculiar environment, the maritime environment.
“This exercise is holding simultaneously in all naval locations all over the country, and it is required now that we as military personnel keep fit. For you to execute the demanding task I have pointed out, things like security challenges are more now than we have before.” (Punch)
The police have increased the numerical strength of their personnel in the South-East and South-South zones of the country as part of measures to prevent a breach of the peace, which may result from the activities of Biafran agitators ahead of the upcoming Anambra State governorship election, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.
And apart from the Mobile Police Force operatives, the force told Saturday PUNCH on Friday that it had deployed the Counter-Terrorism unit, the Intelligence unit and other conventional policemen, who would work with the state commands in the South-East and South-South zones.
In addition, top sources in the police told Saturday PUNCH that the security agency had placed the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, under surveillance to prevent him from fleeing the country should the court revoke his bail and order his re-arrest for allegedly flouting his bail conditions.
The Federal Government had last week asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the bail granted to Kanu, who is being prosecuted along with others on treasonable felony charges.
The government had accused the IPOB leader of flouting his bail conditions and filed an application asking the court to revoke his bail and direct security agencies to re-arrest him.
The prosecution had said that instead of using the opportunity of his bail to attend to his health needs, Kanu had gone ahead to inaugurate a security outfit, known as Biafra Security Service.
The prosecution said this constituted a threat to national security.
But when contacted, the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, confirmed that the police had deployed more riot policemen in the South-East and South-South regions to avert a breach of security and maintain law and order.
But Moshood did not confirm if Kanu was under surveillance to prevent him from fleeing the country should the court rule in favour of the government, even though, sources in the police maintained that that was the situation.
Moshood said, “We have made additional deployments, particularly in Anambra State, because of the upcoming governorship election and also to other South-East and South-South states to ensure that IPOB did not actualise its threat of stopping the election.
“So also, any pronouncement from the court would be strictly enforced, irrespective of the persons involved. Nobody is above the law so any court pronouncement would be enforced by the police.”
Moshood reiterated that the force was closely monitoring the situation in the South-East.
“We are strictly monitoring the situation for any eventuality from the court since there is an ongoing judicial process,” the police spokesman explained.Moshood said the police would not leave anything to chance while noting that any judicial order in respect of Kanu and other agitators would be enforced immediately.
He added, “We are not leaving anything to chance; we are to ensure there is law and order and any pronouncement from the court would be strictly enforced. We are watching the situation closely. We have made enough deployments and we are going to act appropriately.”
But when asked to give the number of the police operatives deployed for the operation, the Force PRO said it was against the policy of the police to give out the number of the personnel on deployment.
“We have yet to deploy helicopters because the situation is not ripe for it,” he added.
Kanu had, in his application filed on July 1, 2017, urged the court to vary the conditions of the bail granted him on April 25, 2017. But the Federal Government had, in its application filed on August 25, 2017, asked the court to revoke the bail granted Kanu, on the grounds that the IPOB leader had flouted the bail conditions.
It maintained that Kanu had flagrantly violated all the bail conditions, adding that the essence of the bail, which was for Kanu to look after his health, had been defeated.
Attempts to get IPOB’s reaction to the development were not successful as of the time of filing this report.
Calls to the mobile telephone line of the group’s spokesman, Mr Emma Powerful, did not connect and messages sent to him on WhatsApp, which is usually the best way to reach him, were not replied to.
But IPOB had, last weekend, vowed to resist any attempt by the Federal Government to re-arrest Kanu, without first obtaining a court order.
Powerful had said Kanu was prepared to be locked up in his quest to achieve Biafra.
In a statement released then, IPOB said, “IPOB wishes to notify the public about the illegal and undemocratic moves by the Federal Government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, to re-arrest our leader, who committed no crime known to the laws of the Nigerian state.
“Before Buhari decides to make a move to arrest our leader, he must first go to court to obtain an order or else it will be resisted by millions of IPOB members.”
Reacting to the development, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra warned the Federal Government not to take the ‘non-violence approach’ of the pro-Biafra agitators for granted.
MASSOB National Director of Information, Samuel Edeson, who spoke to one of our correspondents in Enugu, said the secessionists were not bothered about the deployment of police and security agents to the South-East and South-South regions.
Edeson vowed that ‘Biafrans’ would use all resources at their disposal to resist any attempt to re-arrest Kanu.
He said, “The Inspector General of Police is just trying to please his masters, but we are not bothered.
“The deployment of security agents is just a ploy to clamp down on peaceful agitators who are only seeking self-determination, but it is a plus to the struggle because it shows that the government is jittery. We cannot be intimidated.
“But we want to warn that our nonviolent approach should not be taken for granted. The Nigerian government should not take our peaceful disposition for granted.
“There is a limit to human endurance. President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian government should know that the Biafrans of today are different from the Biafrans of yesterday – a lot has changed and we cannot be taken for granted.
“They are plotting to arrest Nnamdi Kanu, and we are waiting for them. They know they cannot arrest Nnamdi Kanu when they have failed to arrest the Arewa youths, who issued quit notice to Igbo in the North. We will resist any attempt to arrest Nnamdi Kanu. If they try to do that, all Biafrans will use all resources at their disposal to defend Nnamdi Kanu.” (Punchng.com)