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IG Idris Afraid of Own Shadow – Senate

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The Senate on Thursday insisted that the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris was not fit to hold any public office, saying the police boss was clutching at straws with his excuses for ignoring summons by the lawmakers.

The senators also said that the IG’s refusal to honour their invitations was an indication that Idris was afraid of his own shadow.

These points were contained in a statement issued by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Aliyu-Abdullahi, in Abuja on Thursday.

The Senate had on Wednesday declared Idris unfit to hold any public office within and outside Nigeria, describing him as an enemy of democracy for his alleged refusal to honour the Senate summons thrice.

Idris had been summoned to address the Senate on the alleged inhuman treatment of Melaye during his arrest and detention by the police over alleged gun-running; and the spate of killings by armed herdsmen and militias across the country.

While Idris had sent the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Mr. Joshak Habila, to represent him in the previous times, he sent no representation for his appearance on Wednesday.

The IG had responded through a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, saying he owed the Senate no apologies.

Idris said he did not have to appear before the lawmakers, noting that a senior police officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector-General or an Assistant Inspector-General could act on his behalf in an official capacity at any function. This, he added, was in consonance with Sections 7(1),312(1), 313(2) of the Police Act.

The police described the Senate resolution against Idris as “a deliberate blackmail, witch-hunt with mischievous motives to hand-twist (sic) the IG to pervert the end of justice” in a felonious and serious offence of criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms for which Melaye was allegedly indicted by two principal suspects, Kabiru Seidu aka Osama and Nuhu Salisu aka Small.

The Senate however dismissed the claims by the police.

“The Senate today (Thursday) stated that the IG, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, should stop clutching at straws on why he refused to comply with the invitation of the Senate for him to come and explain what the police are doing on the spate of killings across the country,” the statement said.

Sabi-Abdullahi stated that the crux of the matter that informed the invitation was “the ceaseless spate of killings across the country and that matters concerning the arrest of Senator Melaye have in fact been overtaken by events.”

The statement added, “We noted the response issued by one Jimoh Moshood on behalf of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, following yesterday’s (Wednesday) resolution of the legislative chamber on the continued refusal of the IG to honour the invitation for him to come and explain what the police are doing to halt the spate of killings across the country.

“Let it be known that the IG, by trying to reduce the reason for his invitation by the Senate to the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye, is simply clutching at straws. The issue of Senator Melaye’s arrest has been overtaken by events. The courts are already handling the related cases. Our main concern is the security crisis across the country where people are being killed in scores on a daily basis.

“The primary responsibility of the police is the maintenance of law and order as well as protection of lives and property. If there is a breach along the line of this responsibility, we do not see why the IG should feel he cannot be invited to offer an explanation to the arm of government which is constitutionally empowered to ask questions and investigate the breach.”

According to the Senate, no responsible body of representatives of the people will ignore sad reports given by members on the floor of the Senate.

“For instance on April 24, two Catholic priests and 17 members of their congregation were murdered as reported by Senator George Akume.  Also, senators Kabir Marafa and Tijani Kaura had earlier informed the Senate of the killing of 35 people in the Maradun Local Government Area; over 100 people killed in Anka and 36 people killed in Birani Village in the Zurmi LGA, all in Zamfara State.

“Even as of now, reports reaching us show that recent killings have occurred in Kaduna, Taraba and Benue states. These were just few instances of daily occurrences of gruesome murder of our constituents as raised by senators,” the statement said.

It added, “The IGP definitely should not have any problem with an invitation for him to tell the Senate what he and his men are doing to stop the killings as well as their challenges and needs in doing this.

“Mr. Idris should not seek to confuse issues or play on the intelligence of members of the public with his diversionary statement or claims. The resolution of the Senate leading to his invitation is clear and we invite our people to check. It is for the purpose of having a transparent and open hearing that we fixed his appearance for Wednesday when our plenary sitting enjoys live coverage on national television.

“In one instance in the past, Mr. Idris had gone to court in order to evade honouring the invitation of the Senate and the court headed by Justice Abba Bello Mohammed of the FCT High Court on April 10, 2018, told him in clear terms that his suit lacked merit, as Sections 88 and 89 of the constitution empower the lawmakers to carry out investigations on issues of public interest.

“Any public officer who plans to place himself above an arm of government obviously is not fit to remain in office. Mr. Idris is only afraid of his own shadow by alleging witch-hunt when he is called to account on the performance of the duties of his organisation.”

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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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