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Senate Presidency: APC, Northern Senators Clash

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The  All Progressives Congress has opposed northern senators vying for the senate presidency.

It insisted that any northerner angling for the leadership of the senate had no respect for the party’s constitution.

The National Vice Chairman of the APC (North-West), Malam Salihu Lukman and the party’s Director of Publicity, on  Monday,  Bala Ibrahim,   said for fairness, northern senators contesting the post should step down.

Party chieftains in the South-South and South-East had called for the zoning of the senate presidency to their regions in the spirit of fairness and to give other geo-political regions a sense of belonging in view of the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket adopted by the party.

So far, no fewer than eight senators had indicated an interest in the race. They include Senators Jibrin Barau (Kano Central), Sani Musa (Niger East), Orji Kalu (Abia North), and GodsWill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom North-West ).

Others are Senators Osita Izunaso (Imo West), Peter Ndubuze (Imo North), Abdul’Aziz Yari (Zamfara West), and Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North), amongst others.

But  Lukman called on Yari, Barau and other northern senators to step down from the race for the office of Senate President in the 10th National Assembly.

Lukman noted that it was compelling for the ruling party to zone the prestigious office to either the South-South or South-East for national unity.

The APC chieftain made the appeal in a statement issued in Abuja titled ‘Cash-and-Carry contest for leadership of 10th National Assembly.’

He said, “It is therefore very compelling that the Senate President should come from either the South-South or South-East. I want to specifically note that two respected Senators-elect from North-West have made public declarations about their aspirations for the position of Senate President. These are His Excellency Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Barau Jibrin.

“Now that power has shifted to the Southern part of the country, as a region, we equally have the responsibility to regulate the conduct of all our Senators-elect from the North-West, including the two Senators-elect Abdulaziz Yari and Barau Jibrin to withdraw their aspiration for the Senate President.

“All party leaders from North-West must prevail on these leaders to in the overall interest of the unity and peaceful coexistence of the country withdraw their aspirations to contest the position of Senate President for the 10th Senate. At the most, they should aspire for the position of Majority Leader of the Senate in line with the 1999 zoning formula in the Senate.”

Lukman, a member of the APC National Working Committee,  reiterated that no North-West or North-East candidate should be considered for the position.

While describing the lobbying by the lawmakers and NWC members as worrisome, he warned against the imposition of another Muslim leader as the Senate president following the outrage that greeted the emergence of the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his deputy-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, who share the same faith.

He noted, “Apart from the clear disregard for national unity and outright disrespect for Nigerians, especially the persons of Tinubu and Shettima, being the President-elect and Vice-President-elect respectively, some of the aspiring candidates for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives are neither concerned about the security and well-being of Nigeria nor are they in any way disturbed about factors that could erode the electoral viability of our party – APC.

Aspiring candidates

“These are aspiring candidates for these positions, two of them Muslims from North-West aspiring for the position of Senate President and one of them from North-East aspiring for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives, who are desperately mobilising support.

“Certainly, these aspirants know that there is a very high probability that once the party is allowed to finalise the processes of zoning positions of leadership, the probability is high that these positions would be zoned to other sections of the country outside theirs.

“’It should be very clear that any person whose aspiration for the position of Senate President, the number three highest ranking position in the Federal Government, who is a Muslim will not mean well for Nigeria and will be working to undermine the electoral viability of APC as a political party.”

“Any Muslim aspiring for the position of Senate President has no respect for both the constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the APC. ’This is because chapter II, section 14(3) of the Nigerian constitution clearly outlined that ‘the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”

‘’With two Muslims already elected to be sworn in as President and Vice President of the Federal Republic on May 29, any attempt to consider another Muslim as Senate President will promote the dominance of Muslims in the Federal Government and will be injurious to national unity and peaceful co-existence of Nigeria as a sovereign entity, which must not be allowed.”

On his part,  the APC Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, described Lukman’s call for the withdrawal of North-West aspirants from the race as ‘ethical.’

“Fairness demands that these aspirants step down. It will seek to give a semblance of inclusiveness and give everyone a sense of belonging. But the ultimate decision rests with the party which will not do anything injurious to its interest,” he stated.

Asked if the APC had taken a position on the zoning of the senate president and speaker, the APC image maker disclosed that no formal position had been taken on it.

He said, “We haven’t come to that yet (zoning) but it has been discussed. I think people want the atmosphere to be cool following the stress and tensions generated by the elections. But consultations are ongoing, it doesn’t have to be formal, where everybody will meet and decisions taken.

“The Saraki-Dogara lesson has been learnt and I don’t think the 10th Assembly will happen that way. The party will not lose focus. I think they want to see the outcome of the supplementary elections. That will give an impetus to the direction where things will go. My intuition is telling me, probably, the 1999 arrangement is probably what will hold.”

On whether the president-elect would have a say in who emerges as NASS leaders, Ibrahim stated that it was incontestable.

“That is an understatement. It is only the president (Buhari) that says he belongs to nobody. But this one (Tinubu) belongs to everybody. He will certainly have a say because the function of the executives is dependent on the relationship with the legislature.

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FG Drops Tax Charges Against Binance Executive

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service, on Friday, says it is dropping the tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan, Binance’s head of financial crime compliance.

Confirming the development, Dare Adekanmbi, the agency’s spokesperson, said the federal government “is dropping charges against the two individuals sued along with the cryptocurrency firm, Binance.

“Please note that the charges are being dropped against the second and the third defendants in the matter,” he added.

Speaking in a statement on Friday, Binance said the development illustrates that Gambaryan is not a decision-maker at the cryptocurrency firm.

“We are relieved that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has served and filed amended charges today, resulting in tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan being dropped,” the statement reads.

“Further illustrating that Tigran is not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held in order for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government.

“We await the court’s ruling on this, discharging Tigran from this matter completely.”

Binance also commended the FIRS for their diligence and professionalism throughout this process.

The company said the situation unequivocally demonstrates its commitment to resolving the issue with the government transparently and cooperatively.

Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional manager for Africa; were detained by the Nigerian authorities on February 28.

Although Anjarwalla escaped from the custody of the office of the national security adviser (ONSA), both executives, alongside Binance, were charged by the federal government for tax evasion and money laundering.

On March 25, FIRS filed a criminal charge against Binance for “tax evasion”.

According to the service, the move was to uphold fiscal responsibility and safeguard the economic integrity of the country.

The lawsuit, designated as suit number FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2024, was said to “implicate Binance with a four-count tax evasion accusation”.

On May 17, the FIRS filed an amended four-count charge against Binance Holdings Limited and its executive, Gambaryan, on alleged tax evasion.

The matter drew the attention of lawmakers in the United States who accused the Nigerian government of taking Gambaryan, “hostage”.

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HoS Suspends Perm Sec over Sexual Harassment Allegation, Orders Probe

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The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa, has been suspended by the Office of the Head of Service over sexual harassment allegation.

The Head of Service, Folashade Yemi-Esan, said the permanent secretary would be on suspension pending the outcome of a probe into the allegation against him.

“The permanent secretary has been suspended pending the outcome of the probe by the committee set up, “ a senior director in the OHCSF told our correspondent in Abuja.

It was learnt that following a petition submitted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, against Lamuwa, the HoS constituted a committee to look into the matter.

The complainant in the petition submitted by Tuggar was one Simisola Ajayi, who accused Lamuwa of serial sexual harassment.

Ajayi, in the petition filed by her lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), outlined alleged instances of harassment.

In a letter addressed to the Head of Service on May 27, 2024, Tuggar expressed his concern over the serious nature of the allegations involving the permanent secretary.

“I am compelled to write to inform you of a formal complaint against the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa, on allegations of sexual harassment.

“Bearing in mind the gravity of the matter, I feel it necessary to draw your attention to it and ask that you handle it accordingly,” the minister stated in the letter.

An official familiar with the case told our correspondent on Wednesday that following the receipt of Tuggar’s letter on the allegation against Lamuwa, the HoS had set up a probe panel.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said, “Yes, the Head of Service has set up a committee to probe the whole matter. There are pieces of evidence, which will be tabled and witnesses who will also be invited to speak on the matter,  so it is not a matter that will be swept under the carpet.

“The minister (Tuggar) is also very much interested in the outcome. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a special ministry that operates even outside the shores of the country, so you can’t expect that an issue of such gravity will be swept under the carpet.”

Ajayi had, in a petition dated May 29, 2024 and addressed to Tuggar, accused the permanent secretary of serial sexual harassment.

The petition, signed by Adebayo A. Oniyelu LP of Falana & Falana’s, was titled “Request For An Investigation Of Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s Conducts Of Sexual Harassment At The Place Of Work, Abuse Of Office, Official Intimidation And Discrimination.”

According to the petition, Ajayi narrated multiple instances of harassment allegedly by Lamuwa, which had created an unsafe and uncomfortable working environment.

She claimed for instance that during a policy retreat on October 7, 2023, Lamuwa allegedly made inappropriate advances towards her, suggesting she joined him in his hotel room.

He reportedly continued with inappropriate remarks throughout the retreat.

She also cited an incident on November 10, 2023, where Lamuwa allegedly invited Ajayi to travel to Hong Kong, promising significant personal benefits from the trip.

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DSS Warns Against Protests to Undermine Public Safety, National Security

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The Department of Security Services (DSS) has issued an alert, warning the public about a planned physical protests across the country.

A statement signed by the Service’s Director, PR & Strategic Communications, Mr. Peter Afunanya, also noted that though citizens have a right to protest, it should not be to undermine public safety and national security.

Read the statement in full:

The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to plans by certain individuals and groups to stage physical protests in some parts of the country on 12th June, 2024. The protests are designed with sinister objectives to coincide with the Democracy Day Celebration. While citizens may have the rights of assembly and expression, such freedoms should not be used to undermine public safety and national security.

The determination by some non-state actors to incite mass disaffection through demonstrations that may turn violent will not be tolerated. However, it is instructive to note that violent demonstrations are at variance with the peaceful disposition of the Federal Government to amicably address all contentions including the minimum wage. Citizens are, therefore, called upon to resist any persuasions to be lawless or cause disorder and anarchy in the nation. Displeased persons are rather encouraged to appropriately channel their grievances through the right channels and procedures.

Consequently, the DSS reaffirms its unequivocal position to protect the country from inimical acts being orchestrated by disgruntled groups to cause a breakdown of law and order. It will also sustain collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including sister security agencies, to maintain the peace as well as protect lives and property across the nation. Law abiding citizens are enjoined to go about their businesses without fear.

The Service, while felicitating the government and citizens on this auspicious occasion of celebrating 25 years of unbroken democracy, calls for continued patriotism, unity and commitment in building a Nigeria of our collective dream. Meanwhile, the DSS website, dss.gov.ng; email address- dsspr@dss.gov.ng and Telephone lines +2349153391309;+2349088373514 remain open to the public in the event that there is need to contact it.

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