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Senate Threatens to Shut Down NASS over Continuous Killings

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The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has said the National Assembly may be shut to help President Muhammadu Buhari administration find an end to the spate of killings by herdsmen and militias across the country.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly  also noted that the campaign by the Federal Government for more foreign direct investments in the country would fail if the spate of insecurity persisted.

Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary on Tuesday, spoke while ruling on a motion moved by Senator Suleiman Adokwe (Nasarawa-South) over the continued killings in his senatorial district.

Adokwe said, “Throughout the weekend to this moment, herdsmen have unleashed mayhem on the people of my senatorial district, leaving many dead bodies, numerous injured persons and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons.

“The victims are largely the Tiv speaking ethnic nationalities, with a reported dead toll of 32 persons, and we are still counting.”

The senator described the attacks as “a well -coordinated and simultaneous carnage” across Awe, Obi, Keana and Doma Local Government areas of the southern senatorial district.

“The tragedy is that for four days running, this mayhem has continued unhindered, unchecked, unstopped by any arm of the law and security enforcement agencies.

“Indeed, right under the nose of the armed forces and the police, this killing is sustained by sheer negligence or refusal to act by the security agencies. It is very sad that in Nigeria, with all the security forces, a whole senatorial district will go on being punished by militia and no action coming from government,” Adokwe said.

Making reference to the recent call by a former Chief of Army Staff and ex-Minister of Defence, Lt-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), that Nigerians should defend themselves against killers, the lawmaker said the call was right.

He said, “It is no wonder that very eminent Nigerian citizens have urged Nigerians to defend themselves because their security is in their own hands and no longer in the hands of the Nigerian security forces.

“I am very emotional on this matter and I am not one given to emotion very easily. But what I have gone through this weekend is very horrifying; it is very distressing and sad. It is as if we are in a lawless society where life is brutish; where there is absence of state powers. We call on the Federal Government to stop this carnage.”

Several senators who spoke on the killings decried that Buhari, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, had not done enough to end the attacks. Some of them also accused the security agencies of negligence and bias.

After the debate on the motion, which lasted about one hour, Ekweremadu stated that there was the need for the legislature to do more in seeking an end to the killings.

He pointed out that the National Assembly could not exist without the people who the members are representing. He also said there would be no election if the electorate had been killed.

Ekweremadu said, “If we have nobody to represent, nobody will have a job here. So, security is more important than any other thing that we do here.

“If it gets to a level where we have to shut down this National Assembly and sit down with the executive for as long as it lasts to resolve the problem, we will have to do that.”

The Deputy Senate President said the chamber deliberately gave the matter the attention and priority it deserved through the debate.

He said, “As we have pointed out, the primary purpose of government anywhere in the world is the preservation of the lives of citizens.”

The Deputy Senate President pointed out that such trends would not have lasted in a country like South Africa. He said Nigeria should seek help from other countries if it had been overwhelmed by the security challenge.

He said, “I ask myself: assuming this is happening in America, in the United Kingdom or France, will it take all this time to be resolved? Not even in South Africa. But it appears that we are taking too many things for granted. The time has come for us to seek help from other countries. We should not be ashamed to ask for help.”

In his contribution, Senator Barnabas Gemade backed Danjuma on his self-help call, alleging that there was an ongoing cleansing of his ethnic group, Tiv.

He said, “This country is becoming a state without control. It is a state in which we have seen ethnic cleansing.

“It is a shame that a sitting government could watch criminality go to the level that we have seen it today. Rather than rise up and take very decisive steps against it, we embark on denials and shield this evil by just explaining, with flimsy excuses, that these are communal clashes between communities.

“The carnage in Nasarawa-South affects mainly people of my ethnic group, who are in large population in Nasarawa-South. It is the same kind of killing that is going on in the Goma, Logo and Gwer West local government areas of Benue State. And it is the same kind of killing we are witnessing in Wukari and Takum LGAs. It is targeted at a particular ethnic nationality – my own people.

“I don’t understand why responsible people elected to control the government of Nigeria will simply turn away from the reality of this matter.

“Yet, there are people who are armed and are killing people as they like. And the Inspector-General of Police would fly by helicopter to a town, land in the market square and be asking people whether there was any militia in the town or not. And nobody seems to caution anybody. This is very sad. We have done enough of a minute silence for innocent Nigerians being killed.”

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We’re Not ‘Officially Aware’ of Anyone Working Against Tinubu’s Victory – FG

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The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it was not “officially aware” of any entity in the Presidential Villa working against the victory of the All Progressives Congress’ flag bearer, Bola Tinubu. It also said that President, Muhammadu Buhari was neither favouring nor disfavouring any presidential candidate ahead of the February 25 election.

“If there’s anybody who is working against any candidate, we don’t know officially,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, told State House Correspondents after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, alleged that some “elements” in Aso Rock are working against Tinubu’s emergence as President.

El-Rufai, who spoke on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, explained that the persons in question were aggrieved that Tinubu defeated their candidate in the June 2022 APC presidential primary.

He cited the naira redesign policy as one of several schemes targeted at the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, who also made a similar claim a week earlier.

According to El-Rufai, “I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.

“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the President’s desire to do what he thinks is right. I will give two examples: this petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed.

“In fact, I discussed with the President and showed him why it had to go. Because how can you have a capital budget of N200b for federal roads and then spend N2 Trillion on petroleum subsidy? This was a conversation I had with the President in 2021 when the subsidy thing started rising. He was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed.

“The second example I will give is this currency redesign. You have to understand the President. People are blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for the currency redesign, but No. You have to go back and look at the first outing of Buhari as President.

“He did this; the Buhari-Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with a view to catching those that are stashing away illicit funds. It is a very good intention. The President has his right. But doing it at this time within the allotted time does not make any political or economic sense.”

But fielding a question on the issue on Wednesday, Mohammed argued that the Buhari-led government has been fair to all candidates regardless of party affiliations.

He said, “On a more serious note, one thing I can assure you is that, no matter who, this administration is focused and determined to ensure a free and fair election. And I think this administration, and for that matter now, the most important person in this regard is Mr. President.

“I think he has shown by words and deed that he is committed to a free, fair and credible election. And fair, free and credible elections mean not favouring or disfavouring anybody.

“Everywhere he goes, he makes that very clear, even as recently as Friday, when he was in Daura. He said the same thing. So if there’s anybody who’s working against any candidate, we don’t know officially.”

Speaking in Ogun State last Wednesday, the APC presidential candidate alleged plans to sabotage the coming election.

Tinubu cited the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the lingering fuel crisis and as part of plots to thwart the polls and his expected victory.

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2023 Elections: INEC Deploys 707,384 Presiding Officers

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The Independent National Electoral Commission will deploy 707,384 presiding officers for the general elections scheduled to commence on February 25.

The commission also said that since electoral education was important, there was a need to infuse it into the National Values Curriculum of primary schools in Nigeria.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, stated these during the public presentation of the Electoral Education Curriculum and Teachers’ Guide for primary schools.

The curriculum which was developed by the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening  – Sustaining Electoral Engagement for Democracy project funded by USAID and FCDO and implemented by National Democratic Institute and IFES, was in partnership with the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council, INEC (through the Voter Education Department), National Orientation Agency, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All and academia from across the country.

Okoye said, “We believe that electoral education is important in the goals of our nation. Electoral education is a specialized area and that is why we have this curriculum being infused into the National Values Curriculum in our primary schools.

“For instance, for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the commission will deploy a total of 707, 384 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.

“These presiding officers will be drawn from the crop of young men and women doing their National Youth Service Corps, while the assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students from federal tertiary institutions.

“It is therefore important for us to understand the importance of electoral education in the development of our democracy.

“A national civic education curriculum and teachers’ guide with a specific focus on electoral education will prepare our children for the challenges ahead and also prepare them on how to respect other people’s races and also prepare them to assume leadership in future.”

The President of IFES, Anthony Banbury, said its contribution to the project was to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process through effective teaching and learning of civic education in primary schools.

“To catch them young, the revised curriculum is a hallmark innovation that will introduce children and youth very early to the concept, processes, ethics, and values of democratic systems and governance.

“It will be essential for the young people’s orientation to initiate a shift from the existing norms. In the long term, it will increase civic participation and knowledge of democratic systems and values, as the children of today become the adults and the voters of tomorrow,” Banbury said.

The Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, said the aim was to strengthen the fabric of the nation’s democracy for sustainable growth and development.

According to him, since the return of democracy in 1999, citizens’ participation in elections and the electoral process had remained an issue of concern.

He also said that a known reason for this was the lack of adequate electoral knowledge.

“Hence, promoting democratic electoral culture and developing civic skills are therefore necessary for well-informed and responsible participation in elections and in the electoral process,” Junaidu said.

He said that the above informed the initiative of the NERDC in collaboration with IFES to develop the Electoral Education Curriculum for primary schools in Nigeria.

According to him, the curriculum, generally, is developed to expose young learners to the rudiments of democracy and inculcate in them the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for active citizens’ participation in the democratic process.

“Specifically, the curriculum is designed to achieve five key objectives, which are to: equip learners with basic knowledge of the concept of democracy, the role of elections in democracy and good governance.

He said the choice of primary school learners was hinged on the core principle of using education as an instrument of socialisation for the young to assume adult roles for the good of society.

“Thus, the teaching of electoral education at this level will ensure that when children reach voting age, they would have already understood the fundamentals of active participation in the political and electoral process,” Junaidu said.

While commending the management of NERDC for the initiative, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Dr Claris Ujam, said the curriculum had become a dynamic process for sustainable national development.

He said, “Every time, there are changes or developments happening around the world, the school curricula are affected.

“Therefore, the inclusion of concepts and contents of electoral education under Civic Education is in line with the drive under the Ministry’s Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan.

“This is to enable the acquisition of citizenship values and skills through quality education. The electoral education curricular contents constitute a remarkable step to create positive change in the election landscape and political development.”

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Pro, Anti Ekweremadu Protesters Storm UK Trial

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The human trafficking case against a former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, resumed in a London court on Tuesday.

However, anti- and pro-Ekweremadu protests were staged in front of the court ahead of the proceedings.

AFP reported that before court proceedings, there was a gathering of protesters, some of whom were in support of the lawmaker while others were against him.

The lawmaker was in June 2022 arrested alongside his wife at Heathrow Airport in London on the allegation that they flew a young man from Nigeria to the UK to harvest his organ.

The allegation added that the organ was meant for Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia, who is currently hospitalised with a kidney-related illness.

Some Nigerians had in October 2022 protested in Abuja against the continued detention of the lawmaker who has now spent 223 days in the custody of UK authorities.

Protesters, once again, gathered at the court on Tuesday to either support the embattled lawmaker or protest his continued detention in UK custody.

“I mean, this case is unbelievable,” one protester, Citizen Gbola, was quoted by AFP as saying.

“Where else in the world would you have a deputy senate president, who is still a serving senator, he’s still getting his regular wage?”

According to Daily Mail, Sonia couldn’t make it to court on Tuesday but sought permission with a psychological report by her team claiming she was not fit to stand trial.

She had pleaded not guilty to the allegation of trafficking a homeless man into the UK to harvest his organs for herself, when she appeared in court on November 7, 2022.

The young man, who levelled the allegation against the Ekweremadus, told Staines Police Station that he was made to undergo some medical tests, none of which he consented to.

A 50-year-old medical doctor from South London, Obinna Obeta, was also arrested in connection to the allegation.

During proceedings at the Old Bailey court, Ekweremadu who wore a grey tracksuit top only said “Yes, miss” when asked to confirm his name.

Seated beside the lawmaker in the dock and dressed in black was his wife who was granted bail in July 2022 while her husband was said to be a flight risk.

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