​Maina: Ndume regains freedom after 5 days in prison

Respite came the way of the Senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, on Friday, as the Federal High Court in Abuja, granted him bail after he had spent five days in prison custody.

The lawmaker was remanded in Kuje Correctional Center by the court last Monday, following his failure to produce the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, whom he stood surety for.

Maina is answering to a 12-count charge alongside his firm, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited, over their alleged involvement in money laundering, to the tune of N2billion.


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alleged that Maina equally stole over N14billion from the federal pension account, using names of fake pensioners and non-existent biometric contracts.

The agency told the court that the ex-Pension reform boss used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts, as well as recruited his relatives that were bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled, adding that he used part of the stolen funds to acquire landed properties in Abuja.

Meanwhile, Maina had since September 29, refused to attend his trial, a development that led the trial court to remand his surety, Ndume, in prison custody.

The court said Ndume should either produce Maina for the continuation of his trial, or forfeit the N500million bail bond he signed on behalf of the Defendant.

Alternatively, the court directed the sale of Ndume’s property situated at Asokoro in Abuja to raise the N500m it said should be paid into the Federation Account.

Justice Abang held that the lawmaker should remain in custody pending the fulfillment of any of the conditions, even as he gave the Prosecution the nod to try the Defendant in absentia.

However, following an application Ndume filed from prison, the court, on Friday, okayed his release on bail pending the determination of the 12 grounds of appeal he lodged before the Court of Appeal in Abuja to challenge the forfeiture proceeding the EFCC initiated against him.

Justice Abang said his decision to grant the bail application was based on the fact that Ndume “has been of good behavior and conduct”, and always submitted himself to the authority of the court, not withstanding his schedule of duties as the Chairman of Senate Committee on Nigerian Army.

The court however dismissed Ndume’s contention that his continued detention would occasion hardship to both the Senate and the Nigerian State.

Justice Abang held that the lawmaker ought to have taken into account the gravity of the charge against Maina, before he deposed to an affidavit on May 5, wherein he pledged to always ensure his availability for trial or forfeit the N500m bail bond.

Though the trial Judge described Ndume’s pending appeal as “incompetent”, he said the peculiar circumstance of the case and the Applicant’s respect for the court as an institution, was enough to sway judicial discretion in his favour.

Justice Abang held that the trial court had the requisite jurisdiction to grant Ndume’s bail application since the record of appeal in the matter was yet to be compiled and transmitted to the Court of Appeal.

Consequently, the court ordered him to produce a surety who must be a respectable person that is resident within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

According to the court, the surety must be an owner of landed property in Abuja, with evidence of ownership.

It ordered Ndume to deposit his International Passport to the Chief Registrar of the court pending the determination of his appeal.

More so, the court held that Ndume must sign an undertaking that he would within 10 days, compile and transmit the record of proceedings to the Court of Appeal.

Ndume had in the application he filed through his lawyer, Mr. Marcel Oru, described Maina’s action that led to his detention as “highly despicable”.

He had on October 19, told the court that he only met Maina once in his life before he decided to stand as his surety, being the lawmaker that represents his constituency.

The lawmaker said he was pressurized to stand surety for the Defendant by three former governors he met at the Kuje Correctional Center when he went to visit Maina after he was reported sick.

He said: “As a senator serving him (Maina), his family, wife, mother, and uncle appealed to me to stand as a surety.

“I went to prison to confirm for myself whether he was actually sick and the prison officers told me that he was actually sick and appealed to me to be his surety so that he could have access to medical attention.

“Orji Kalu when he was in prison then, Joshua Dariye, former Governor of Taraba, Rev. Jolly Nyame, all appealed to me in the prison to assist him.

“It took me eight months my lord to take that decision. In fact, I have to be given an indemnity by his uncle; signed by me, him, and a lawyer that Maina would always be in court.

“This is one of the professional hazards we face as lawmakers, representing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

“If I was not a serving senator, I wouldn’t have a course to stand as surety,” Ndume added.

He decried that Maina who claimed to be ill, recently released a video clip that went viral on social media, concerning his state of health, but refused to make himself available.

“I am helpless before you my lord. I appeal that such innocent citizens like me holding a public office for over one million people should not be subjected to this,” Ndume pleaded.

Though EFCC opposed his bail application, Justice Abang granted it, even though he held that it failed on many other grounds.

​No agreement yet to suspend strike ― ASUU

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU has denied a news report that it agreed to call off the ongoing strike after meeting with the Government negotiation team led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige on Friday.

The Federal Government at the meeting at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Labour and Employment reportedly increased its offer for Earned Allowances EA to university based unions and funding for the revitalization of public universities from N65 billion to N70 billion.

There was news report that ASUU has given an indication that the meeting, the strike which started since March would soon be called off after a meeting with the leadership of union and its organs.

According to the report, the university teachers agreed to call off the strike after the government pledged to pay N40 billion for Earned Allowances and N30 billion for the revitalization of the university system bringing the total payment to N70 billion.

It was further reported that the Government agreed to settle the arrears of salaries of the lecturers before December 31.

The report also noted that ASUU was expected to report the agreement to its organs and then communicate their decision to the government after which a date for the calling off of the strike would be announced.

It quoted a source within the university union, that ASUU insisted that the agreement to call off the strike should not be announced until it has been approved by its members.

But ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, has denied knowledge of any agreement to call off the strike, stressing that at the meeting, it was only agreed that union should convey Government message to their organs and get back to Government.

Prof. Ogunyemi, said : ” I am not aware of that. All I know is that we had a meeting and we are going to report to our members. But I don’t know about suspension of strike.”

However, a source in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, said that after the meeting, the Minister, Senator Ngige, who described the meeting as “fruitful,” added that the government made a proposal to ASUU which it would take back to its members.

Ngige told reporters after the meeting that, “Many issues were discussed at the meeting including salary shortfall, the payment system and revitalization of the university system. I am positive that all the issues would be resolved at our next meeting.”

Friday’s meeting was about the seventh time both sides have met to resolve the issues in contention since the university union embarked on strike on March 23.

After the meeting of last Friday November 20, Government agreed to exempt ASUU members who had not enrolled in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and put them on the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System (GIFMIS) pending when ASUU’S preferred payment platform- the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) will be approved.

ASUU had consistently rejected IPPIS, stressing that it will erode the autonomy of the university system.

​No plan to sack workers, Obaseki assures

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has assured that no worker in the state will be sacked as a result of ongoing reforms to reposition the civil service for optimal performance and efficient service delivery.

He gave the assurance during an interactive session with civil servants who are undergoing training at the John Odigie Oyegun Civil Service Training Academy in Benin yesterday.

The governor disclosed that the ongoing reform was aimed at strengthening and retooling the civil service, bestowing the workers with tools and skills that stand them out so as to ensure efficiency, productivity and drive sustainable development.

He reassured that no civil servant will lose his or her job but rather they will be trained and introduced to technology to enable them deliver efficient services to Edo people and contribute their quota to the development of the state.

He said, “The priority of my administration is re-tooling the Civil Service with the aim of strengthening it to deliver efficient services. If you want government policies to succeed, you must strengthen the people and institutions that have the constitutional responsibility to ensure the delivery of those services.

“We are undertaking reforms to make the public and civil service of the state to be one of the strongest, if not in the sub-continent but in Nigeria.

“We are training our civil servants to enable them to do their job well. We need to bring in more people into the civil service and make sure that they are clear on what they will be doing when hired.”

“Government can’t deliver services to its people if the civil servants who are supposed to help the government are not properly trained. These facilities have been built and people brought in to train our workers, making them understand what their challenges are and redesign the system to make it work better”.The training will be a continuous one, exposing civil servants to technology and bringing in more people into the service.

“The average age in our civil service is about 45 years. We need to bring in younger people to reduce that because in the next five to seven years, 50 per cent of the people in the service will be retiring and we don’t want to wait till then to bring in these people. Let’s bring in younger people now, who the older workers will pass on some of the experience to”.

On her part, Chairman, Edo State Civil Service Commission, Princess Ekiuwa Inneh, thanked the governor for institutional reforms in the civil service as well as the prompt payment of salaries, which she said, “has become a motivating factor for Edo State Government workers.”

She said the state’s civil service was aging, with many of the workers cropped in the middle and at the top levels, noting, “this is as a result of people exiting through natural processes like death, retirement and upward mobility with no corresponding recruitment over the years.”

“Even if we recruit 1,000 persons to level 8, it will take some time before they mature and grow. We are robbing minds with the governor on how to fill some of these positions.”

​#EndSARS protest stresses need for youths empowerment — Sanwo-Olu

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babjide Sanwo-Olu has said that the recent #EndSARS protests brought out the need for governments at all levels to redouble their efforts and prioritise youth development and empowerment.

To this end, the governor disclosed that his administration has earmarked a special provision for youth capacity development in the 2021 Appropriation Bill awaiting approval by the state House of Assembly.

Sanwo-Olu made the remarks on Friday, at the inauguration of various capital projects in Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area, LCDA and Apapa-Iganmu LCDA of the state as part of efforts to scale up service delivery.

At the separate events, Sanwo-Olu inaugurated each of the three-storey buildings held in the two councils’ headquarters.

The Governor and his entourage, which comprised the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, members of State Executive Council, and political leaders led by All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman in Lagos, Tunde Balogun was received by jubilant residents.

Also, a 28-room secretariat complex in Agboyi-Ketu LCDA was named in honour and memory of late Senator Adebayo Osinowo, who represented Lagos East Senatorial District in the Senate until his demise last June, the council headquarters in Alapere,

Sanwo-Olu, seized the opportunity to canvass support for the APC candidates in the forthcoming by-elections in the East senatorial district and State Assembly seat in Kosofe II Constituency, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru, and Femi Saheed.

While inaugurating the buildings, the Governor commended the council chairmen, Dele Osinowo (Agboyi-Ketu) and Dr. Funmilayo Akande-Mohammed, Apapa-Iganmu, describing the initiatives as “symbolic strides” that would bring good governance close to the grassroots and strengthen the capacity of the councils to deliver on their mandates to residents.

Sanwo-Olu said the decision of the council leadership in Agboyi-Ketu to name the edifice after the late Sen. Osinowo testified to the immeasurable contribution made by the late Osinowo to the council area, describing him as “grassroots progressive and benevolent politician,” in his lifetime.

According to the Governor, “The completion of this new 28-room Administrative Block constructed by Agboyi-Ketu LCDA is not only historic, but it is also unique and symbolic because it is the first stride to immortalise a great man, a progressive and grassroots politician, Sen. Adebayo Osinowo, who passed away in June. Also, I sincerely congratulate and commend the Apapa-Iganmu LCDA chairman, Hon. Funmilayo Akande Muhammed and her team for the laudable achievement of delivering a modern secretariat complex in the council.

“I have no doubt that these new complexes will provide the much-needed conducive work environment for public servants working in the councils and enhance their productivity and better service delivery.

“While projects such as these are really a commendable initiative, as they will have a great impact on the workforce at large; it is important to emphasise the need for all of us to understand that public infrastructure are part of our commonwealth being provided with public funds. We must safeguard them against vandalism, as witnessed in the State in the past couple of weeks ago.”

Sanwo-Olu also used the occasion to highlight his administration’s programmes targeted at driving development at the grassroots, stressing that his Government had supported the physically-challenged and provided low-interest loans to support thousands of women across the State.

He, therefore, cautioned youths against willful destruction of the Government’s assets and infrastructure built with public funds, saying “the recent EndSARS protests brought out the need for governments at all levels to redouble their efforts and prioritise youth development and empowerment.

The Governor disclosed that the state government was about to commence a Graduate Internship Programme, under which 4,000 young graduates would be engaged training and paid N40,000 monthly stipend for six months. He urged local councils, as the independent tier of government closest to the people, to embark on welfare projects in their communities and give people a new feeling of governance.

He said: “As we prepare for a new fiscal year, let us ensure that adequate plans are put in place to, more than the current year, ensure that the welfare of our young people, women, elderly and the physically- challenged are well catered for. At the State level, we have made special provisions for youth capacity development in the 2021 budget.

“This is in addition to the ongoing youth empowerment programmes, including the Graduate Internship Programme under which 4,000 thousand young graduates would be engaged and paid a monthly stipend of N40,000 for 6 months.”

Agboyi-Ketu LCDA chairman, Osinowo, said the inauguration of the new secretariat would enhance the capacity of the council to bring dividends of democracy to people at the grassroots. He said the council took the decision to immortalise the late lawmaker, given his legacy and impact in the locality.

He said: “The edifice is massive to herald a new beginning in our administration’s quest not only to improve the landscape and aesthetics of community but also boost our drive to deliver governance at the grassroots. The building is constructed to provide a conducive and enabling environment for our public servants and the residents to the interface.

“The decision to name the edifice after the late Senator Adebayo Osinowo was taken by the distinguished members of the Agboyi-Ketu legislative council during a special plenary session in honour of the late Senator.”

Osinowo hailed Sanwo-Olu for listening to the residents’ request to rehabilitate Demurin/Agidi Road and construct concrete lining in Ogunsombo-Igbonla Channel, among other State Government-led projects in the council.

In addition to inaugurating the new Apapa-Iganmu secretariat complex named after the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Sanwo-Olu also commissioned 13 newly constructed and rehabilitated roads, a library complex, and Primary Health Centre delivered by the council chairman, Dr. Funmilayo Akande-Mohammed.

The Governor urged residents to take ownership of the projects, asking them to protect the infrastructure initiated for their use.

Akande-Mohammed said the projects were part of the deliberate efforts of the Apapa-Iganmu council leadership to drive up socio-economic growth and enhance wellbeing in line with the needs of the residents.

In order to make his administration’s grassroots engagement more robust, Sanwo-Olu, during project commissioning at Apapa-Iganmu LCDA, announced the immediate appointment of Babatunde Adewale as Special Adviser (non-cabinet) on Community Development. This announcement was greeted by spontaneous jubilation, with Ijora Badia residents thanking the Governor for the choice.

​LASG raises alarm over serial manhole vandalisms

Lagos State Government has raised alarm over continued theft of manhole covers on roads in the state, promising to continually pursue infrastructure delivery that would meet needs.

Mrs Aramide Adeyoye, Special Adviser to the state Governor on Works and Infrastructure, raised the alarm at a stakeholders’ meeting for the rehabilitation of Sobo Arobiodun Street in Ikeja GRA.

She was responding to concerns raised by some residents over missing manholes in some parts of the GRA, constituting danger.
Adeyoye said that she was saddened by continued `serial’ vandalism of manholes in the state.


“It grieves my heart that it is not because the state government has not provided the manholes.

“Eric Moore Road was constructed eight or 10 years back with every manhole on that alignment but if you go there now, 90 per cent of those manholes is gone.

“They are gone not because government has not provided them, but because of the serial vandalism that we have seen taking place.

“On most of our major roads, they are gone,’’ she said.

She said that influx of people had made scavengers to steal manhole covers for sale, adding that some other residents turned them to refuse cans.

She appealed to the residents to assist the government to take ownership of manhole covers and other road infrastructure to prevent their damage.

Adeyoye added that the state government would revisit its environmental laws to profile scavengers to ensure they would not sell stolen road infrastructure.

She said that the Sanwo-Olu administration was following a standard operating practice which must include stakeholders’ input so that people would understand projects and get involved.

She said the planned rehabilitation of Sobo Arobiodun Street in Ikeja GRA was in line with the Urban Regeneration Intervention Programme which recommended upgrading of road infrastructure within Ikeja Government Reservation Area (GRA).

“Sobo Arobiodun is a major arterial which connects directly, Bank Anthony Road to Oba Akinjobi Street and interconnects eight roads to form a network.

“The road is for you, and we need to have your buy in so that there will be less friction during the course of the project,’’ she said.

She said that the road was located in a high-end residential area with commercial businesses, adding that its construction would improve socio-economic activities due to its interconnectivity with other roads in Ikeja.

She said that the construction which included provision of a functional drainage system would eliminate gridlock and reduce travel time.

Adeyoye also said that the government would address other issues raised at the meeting including security challenges and inadequate laybys.

A town planner from the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Akeem Animasaun, said the Right of Way (RoW) recovery would follow due process.

He said that staff of the ministry would be visiting the site in collaboration with some other ministries to mark affected buildings in line with dimensions given to the ministry.

The General Manager, Lagos State Parks and Gardens, Mrs Ibilola Popoola, said that an assessment of the green areas had been done and 75 trees on the RoW would be given the right treatment.

She said that those constituting nuisance due to old age would be removed and viable ones transplanted.

She said that on completion of the road, the remaining portions would be landscaped and trees replanted.

“We have estimated that we should be able to plant about 200 to 300 trees depending on what is on ground including grass,’’ she said.

Dr Muize Banire, a three-term Lagos State Commissioner, thanked the government for the project but noted that heavy trucks were going through the GRA.

He promised cooperation of residents and urged that a maintenance package should go with the contract for the contractor to maintain the road for some time.

Banire who is the Ikeja Residents Association Chairman called for measures on Adekunle Fajuyi Road – a major road linking a rail line and has a lot of pot holes.

He called for increased budgetary allocation to tackle flooding on the Remi FaniKayode Road.

He also called for fixing of emerging potholes on Isaac John Street while urging improved street lighting facilities in the area.

Some other residents complained of accessibility of roads on the GRA to commercial vehicles, which they claimed caused increased vehicular traffic and quick road degeneration.

A representative of the contractor, Mrs Grace Okoya, while giving a brief of the project, said that the contractor had the capacity to handle the project and assured commitment to deliver high quality work.

She said that the delivery period would be 12 months but cooperation of stakeholders could reduce the completion period.

​Humanitarian affairs ministry launches portal for N-Power beneficiary to apply for CBN empowerment

A Portal that will enable Exited N-Power Beneficiaries to apply for Central Bank of Nigeria Empowerment Options has been launched by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The platform which was developed in collaboration with the CBN will enable Exited N-Power Beneficiaries to log on and apply for the various economic, empowerment and entrepreneurship options provided by the CBN.

In a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Bashir Nura Alkali, the Honourable Minister Sadiya Umar Farouq urged and encouraged interested Exited Beneficiaries of N- Power to log on to the portal and provide the required additional information for possible placements into the various CBN intervention options.

The Minister also emphasized that the NEXIT PORTAL will determine the suitability of the beneficiaries for the CBN affiliated programs.

“The NEXIT portal is to determine the suitability of the beneficiaries for the CBN affiliated programs and is dependent on meeting the criteria and conditions set by the CBN for the said programs”.

The Minister expressed her deep appreciation to the CBN Governor Mr Godwin Emefiele CON for his support adding that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs remained committed to the vision of Mr President to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.

Minister Umar Farouq pledged the Ministry’s willingness to collaborate with relevant agencies of government and other stakeholders towards the realization of that vision and congratulated the exited beneficiaries while wishing them well in their future endeavours.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria is very proud of the milestones you have achieved during your period of service to the nation. As we prepare to exit into prospective endeavors, we are confident that you will be able to channel all you have learnt over the years into successful ventures that will improve the economy of the country and create further opportunities for you and other citizens.

“Chasing a dream requires effort, passion and hard work which you are now halfway through. I congratulate you and wish you a very successful future”.

​#EndSARS: Why we’ll not spare CNN for spreading fake news ― FG

The Federal government has vowed to punish the Cable Network News, CNN for carrying out unverified information from the controversial Lekki Toll Gate protest.

It also vowed not to spare any media organization both local and international that attempted to set Nigeria on fire through unverifiable reportage.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Laid Mohammed made the vow on Friday at a stakeholder’ meeting with the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) held in Abuja.

The Minister, was reacting to the controversial report by the American Cable News Network, CNN which it said had acknowledged their letter of complaint and promised to probe same on its merit.

He accused CNN of spreading fake news by switching casualty figures at Lekki Toll Gate so casually without a credible source, hence, its decision to write a letter to CNN asking it to use its own internal mechanism to probe its investigation.

Mohammed insisted that “the use of unverified videos and the non-adherence to the basic tenets of journalism have combined to land the international broadcaster, CNN, in trouble”, saying that the station had been caught in the web of fake news and disinformation, after it relied heavily on videos it took from social media for a supposed exclusive investigation on the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th.

He also stated that the station was found to be inconsistent, adding that “after tweeting, without a shred of evidence, from its verified handle on Oct. 23rd that soldier killed 38 peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th, the same station now said only one person was killed – after a month of its investigation.”

His words: “It is baffling that an organization like CNN will rely on unauthenticated videos to carry out an investigation

“More worrisome is that an international broadcaster like CNN will switch casualty figures so casually without a credible source.

“This is why we have written a letter to CNN asking it to use its own internal mechanism to probe its investigation.

“We have received an acknowledgement of our letter, saying the letter has been referred to CNN’s Editorial Team.

“We await the outcome of their probe, but that’s without prejudice to whatever we may decide to do as a government.

“We will not sit by and allow any news organization, local or foreign, to set Nigeria on fire with irresponsible and unprofessional reporting.

“CNN did not have a reporter or cameraman at the Lekki Toll Gate on the night in question, yet it emphatically reported a hoax story.

Conversely, the BBC that had a reporter and an editor on ground reported that soldiers shot into the air, not at protesters. I will rather believe the person on the ground than the one who is thousands of kilometres away.

“Since we sent our letter, CNN has been grasping at straws in desperation, to justify its inaccurate and unbalanced investigation.

But in the process, it is sinking more and more into professional infamy.

“Yesterday, Nov. 26th that is, in the clearest indication yet of the its confusion over the Lekki Toll Gate incident, CNN tried to clarify

its tweet of Oct. 23rd by saying it never attributed the death toll of 38 to Amnesty International and that the tweet also did not make it clear that the death toll was for protests across the country.

“Commentators on the tweet tried to redirect CNN to the issue: which is its tweet of Oct. 23rd in which it said ”At least 38 people were killed in Nigeria on Tuesday (Oct. 20th) when the military opened fire on peaceful protesters.”

“This is very unambiguous and CNN is exhibiting panic by seeking to clarify its tweet some 35 days later! Instead of engaging in such panic, CNN should come clean by admitting that it goofed badly on the Lekki Toll Gate incident.

“But the big lesson to draw from CNN’s faux pas is that it magnifies the failure or inadequacy of our own broadcast organizations.

“In the wake of our spat with CNN, people are asking: Why didn’t our own broadcast stations take the lead in reporting the incident at Lekki?

“Why didn’t they take the lead in presenting an authentic narrative? Why must we allow the foreign broadcast stations, some of which didn’t even have correspondents on ground, to dictate the pace, thus misleading the world? These are questions begging for answers and I think for BON, this must form part of their review of the coverage of the incident.

Role of security agencies

On the role of the security agencies during and after the EndSARS protest, the Minister said they acted professionally as they also restrained themselves, which helped to save many lives, even in the face of attacks and provocation.

“The security agencies, in particular the police and soldiers, acted within their rules of engagement. The reporting of the EndSARS protest has been skewed against the security agencies.

“While most reports have become fixated on the so-called massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate, only a few have highlighted the attacks and killings of security agents, as well as the destruction of public and private property. This is selective perception and it is condemnable.

“For the record, six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed all over the country during the crisis. Also, 196 policemen were injured;

164 police vehicles were destroyed and 134 police stations burnt down.

“The killing of the policemen was particularly gruesome and dastardly. Yet, human rights organizations and the media have not given this the attention it deserved.

“Rather, they have remained fixated on the so-called massacre. It seems human rights do not matter for men and women in uniform. This is unfortunate and must be corrected. Please note that the violence also left 57 civilians dead, 26 private/corporate facilities burnt/looted/vandalized, 243 government facilities burnt/vandalized and 81 government warehouses looted.”

Social media regulation

While reiterating government’s plan to regulate the social media, Mohammed assured that the administration has no plan to stifle free speech, neither does it have any intention of shutting down the internet but has decided to act to ensure a responsible use of social media.

“Social media has come to stay, and those who use it responsibly have nothing to fear. But we cannot give the same assurance for those who weaponize social media.

“By the way, the issue of regulating social media content is generating debate around the world, so Nigeria is not an exception.

N3m fine by NBC

On the N3m fine imposed on three television stations on the aftermath of EndSARS by National Broadcasting Commission

(NBC) for using unverified and dangerous information from social media, Mohammed said two of the stations have so far paid in full, while one has paid in part.

He, however, appealed to broadcast stations to avoid using unverified information from social media, as this is fraught with danger.

He insisted that despite the temptation, the stations must adhere strictly to the gate-keeping tradition instead of rushing to use materials that are not authenticated.

Recall that last month witnessed an EndSARS protest by the youth, who were calling for an end to police brutality and the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The protest started peacefully but soon degenerated into violence after it was hijacked by hoodlums.

The EndSARS protesters made five demands of: Immediate release of all arrested protesters.

ii) Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and

appropriate compensation for their families.

iii) Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct within 10 days.

iv) In line with the new Police Act, psychological evaluation and

retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded

SARS officers before they can be redeployed.

v) Increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated

for protecting the lives and property of citizens.

The Federal Government, however, while responding through the Inspector-General of Police announced the immediate

disbandment of SARS across the 36 State Police Commands and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Also, on Oct. 12th: President Muhamadu Buhari addressed the nation, stating: ”The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people. We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice.”

NNPC begs Labour for one-week to consult on reversal of fuel price

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on Thursday night, requested that the organized labour should give it one week to consult on the reversal of the increase in pump price of petrol.

This is as the National Administrative Council, NAC, of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, will meet on Friday to have a holistic look at the ongoing negotiations with the government.

The organised labour at the meeting with the government team led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, demanded an immediate reversal of the last increase of fuel price.

Recall that the organized labour had walked out of the meeting with government representatives last week over the same issue, even though the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige had said that there was nothing like walk-out at the meeting, but a normal recess.

At the resumed meeting on Thursday night which entered into early hours of Friday, the NNPC requested for one week to make consultations on the labours insistence for the reversal of the new fuel price increment before discussions could continue.

It was agreed by both the labour and government team that the meeting should be adjourned and to resume on December 7.

Speaking to Vanguard, the Deputy President of the NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero said that it was believed that on December 7 when the parties will continue with the negotiation, the reversal must have been effected.

According to him, “We took one-week adjournment for them to reverse it (fuel increment) for us to begin discussions because the GMD (Group Managing Director) was saying that he can’t just announce it there, that he needs to do consultations.

“Exactly one week will be next week Friday so the following Monday we will reconvene by 5 pm. We insisted on 2 pm, the Minister said 7 pm but we eventually agreed by 5 pm.

“We insisted on reversal for any other talk to place although we have agreed to brief our organs, the NLC NAC is meeting today (Friday) so we are briefing our NAC, we may have to delay other organs after that Monday if they didn’t announce it.

“That’s why we said we don’t need to be shouting strike strike, we need to put our house in order,.”

Asked if the management of NNPC consented to labour’s demand for reversal of the fuel increase, he said, “The NNPC GMD asked for the one week, we had wanted it to be announced there.”

At the meeting on Thursday night, President of the NLC Comrade Ayuba Wabba was absent, making it the second consecutive times he was not present at the meeting.

Wabba was absent on the Sunday meeting where the labour team comprising the NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC walked out of government in protest of government team’s refusal to reverse the fuel price before the commencement of discussions.

The reason for his absence was not disclosed by his colleagues as at few minutes before 9:00pm when the meeting began.

Before the Thursday night dialogue went behind-closed-doors, the TUC President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye had warned government’s delegation to be sincere with the deliberations to avoid further embarrassment and another deadlocked meeting.

He said, “It will be beneficial when we can agree and disagree constructively on some of the things we have on the table, and have a clear communication even which a layman will understand where we are going. We don’t want this meeting of going front and back every time that is so confusing that we don’t even understand what we are discussing.

“We are here today with an open mind. And if possible, we need to have a lot of recess today but the bottom line is that we must be leaving here today with an agreement”, Olaleye said.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige had in his opening remarks alleged that “agents of darkness had predicted that the meeting will not hold.”

He also said that “it was not really true that anybody walked out on anybody.”

But the Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Ajaero, who stood in for Wabba countered, “We didn’t adjourn peacefully and we didn’t take recess normally.”

​Those defecting to APC intimidated, have skeletons in their cupboards ― MBF

The National President of the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr Pogu Bitrus has stated that politicians defecting to the All Progressives Congress, APC, are those who have cases and problems hanging on them or those who have skeleton in their cupboards.

He said he would therefore not be amazed if the assertion by the All Progressives Congress, APC, that it would shock Nigerians with massive defections actually happened because they were being coaxed and intimidated to join the APC.

Dr. Bitrus who spoke to Vanguard Thursday in Makurdi noted that Nigerians were watching the development as they unfold since they were not stupid people.


His words, “Of course I will not be surprised if that happens because if you look at the characters who defect, they are people who have cases, skeleton in their cupboards or some problem hanging on them.

“That means that they are being coaxed or intimidated into coming into the party to have safe haven so that they would be safe from prosecution and other things.

“So that technique, I believe is what they are going to use, so I won’t be surprised if we have people who have skeletons in their cupboards seek cover in the party.

“But they must realize that the ordinary Nigerian will be sad about this. Just like the latest ones, a senator who had an issue at a sex shop who decamped and the Governor from the east.

“So it is people who have some problems but what I know and believe is that Nigerians know what is going on and they are not stupid and let’s wait and see.”

MBMJP reaction:

On his part, the Convener of Middle Belt Movement for Justice and Peace, MBMJP, Comrade Joe Bukka said “It will be foolhardy for any politician to opt for a party that has unleashed unimaginable poverty and pains on Nigerians.

“A party that dragged Nigeria into recession twice in five years should certainly not be a party of choice for any right-thinking politician.

“Nigerians have now realized that they were deceived into voting out former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2015 and no right thinking person would want our country to remain in the hands of a political party that has led us to become the poverty capital of the world.

“Under the watch of APC we have witnessed the escalation of insecurity and insurgency in the country. Nigerians are going through terrible hardship. Families cannot feed and our children are dropping out of school because we cannot pay their tuition.

“This is a political party that gave us so much hope in 2015 that it will fight corruption and transform our country, but today all those who they claimed were corrupt have ran into APC and gained immunity from prosecution for corruption.

“Armed herdsmen are killing and sacking our people from their ancestral land and this APC government turns a blind eye to their atrocities. They have refused to take action to end the killings.

“An APC led government that refused to tag well-armed killer herdsmen a terrorist group as acknowledged in parts of the world but choose to slam IPOB an unarmed group as a terrorist organisation is certainly not a party a well-thinking politician should be proud to identify with.

“If all the politicians want to run into APC, they can go ahead but we the masses will choose those we want to lead us come the next general election irrespective of the political platform.

“We will not allow self-seeking politicians ruin our lives anymore because we are all going through hell in the hands of the present APC led federal government at the moment and we will not allow that to continue. So they can all defect to APC but the pain we are going through is enough to tell those defecting that they are about to commit political suicide.”

​Research: TETFund releases N12bn to 12 varsities

Twelve public universities have been given N12 billion by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund TETFund, to undertake researches.

The amount which according to TETFund, would be shared equally among the universities, is to enable them to carry out research and development programmes that would contribute to national growth.

Among the universities picked included University of Abuja (UNIABUJA), University of Benin (UNIBEN), University of Ibadan (UI), University of Maiduguri (UNIMAD), Bayero University Kano (BUK) ,Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Akwa, University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, University of Jos (UNIJOS), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) and Uthman Danfodio University, Sokoto.

The universities were drawn from first, second, and third-generation universities in the country. Two universities each per geopolitical zones.

Presenting allocation letters and guidelines to Vice-Chancellors of the universities, Executive Secretary of the Fund, Suleiman Bogoro said the Federal Government graciously approved N1billion as a take-off grant for each of the universities, totalling N12billion.

According to the terms of reference, within a five-year period, the University of Abuja is expected to blaze the trail as a centre of excellence in public governance and leadership.

In the same vein, the University of Jos and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University are expected to churn out research in food security, while the University of Maiduguri would focus on arid zone research and development and Usman Dan Fodio University Sokoto to concentrate on urology and nephrology.

Bayero University Kano would focus on renewable energy, Micheal Okpara University to focus on root crop research and development, Nnamdi Azikiwe University to dwell on agricultural and engineering translational studies.

Others are the University of Benin, aquaculture, and food technology, University of Uyo, in computational intelligence, University of Ibadan, in multi-disciplinary studies and the University of Lagos in biodiversity conservation and eco-system management.

Bogoro said the aim for establishing the centres of excellence is to support strategic and applications-oriented research and expertise with potential industrial applications.

He said the implications of these are that they would be expected to support national and globally competitive research and development in strategic and applied sciences, including medicine with the aim of generating innovations.

The 12 pioneer universities are also expected to bring together the complementary resources needed for technical development and industrial application.

“This includes concentrating multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and translational research competence in order to further the development of products, processes, and services, typically by focusing on problems that demand larger efforts than can be provided by smaller projects.

“Bridging the gap between researchers and users, stimulating and strengthening triple-helix relationships. This is in order to enhance scientific research being patronized by industry and in order to make the tertiary educational institutions generally more responsive to industry needs.

“In addition is expertise development and training at doctorate level in areas of industry interest, and the development of knowledge management platforms and innovation hubs, “Bogoro stated in the terms of reference.