Tuesday, 30 May 2017 19:01

BIAFRA: MASSOB, IPOB SHUT DOWN ABA, OWERRI, ENUGU OTHERS

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Residents stayed indoors across major cities in south-east Nigeria as residents complied with a sit-at-home exercise called by pro-Biafran groups, with most businesses including banks, markets and motor parks under lock.

 Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, and Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, had called for a sit-at-home today in the south-east to commemorate the declaration of Biafra by late Chukwuemeka Ojukwu 50 years ago.

 In Owerri, Enugu and Aba, markets including the popular Ariara main market in Aba were on total lockdown.

Other businesses including banks, fuel stations, and parks were also shut.

A resident of Owerri and Biafra supporter, Okemiri Samson, commended the people of the city for the compliance to the exercise.

“This is the highest compliance recorded in the city in recent times”, he noted.

 In Enugu, there was also a massive compliance.

“I am at the Ogbete Main market in Enugu right now, it is under lock and key.

“My sisters went to school and their school was closed so they came back,” a resident, Raphael Onyekachi, said on phone. 

In Port Harcourt, south-south Nigeria, there was also a high level of compliance according to a resident, Okezie Omeire.

 Mr. Omeire advised commuters not to bother going to Aba or Umuahia as the road was closed.

“If you are going to Aba from Port Harcourt, please don’t even dare! You will not get to your destination. Everywhere is as dry and as silent as a graveyard. I just wasted my time and money this morning thinking I would make it to Umuahia this morning but guess what? I couldn't even make it to Osisioma junction. I have to drive back to PH (Port Harcourt),” he said.

“Starting from Port Harcourt city, Rumuola, Rumuokwuta, Rumuokoro, Choba, Mile 1, Mile 2 and Mile 3 markets, Oil Mill and any busy place you can think of in PH, everywhere is scanty and deserted!”

The exercise, according to preliminary reports has so far been a huge success in Anambra State especially in Onitsha as shops, markets, banks and schools in the city remained closed.

According to a resident, John Okorie, “MASSOB called and we answered. All businesses in the city are closed including shops in the streets.” 

Security officials were seen driving around the city to keep the peace. A similar situation was recorded in the state’s capital, Awka, and the second commercial city of Nnewi.

 In Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, there was partial compliance, as the Abakpa Market, the city’s main market, was opened but most shops still remained closed at press time.

Many of the traders were seen gathered in front of their shops discussing the situation.

 As they noticed that those who flouted the order and opened their shops were not being molested, many of them summoned courage and started opening their shops.

But the major private transporters in the city shut down their parks in compliance with the MASSOB and IPOB directives.

 However, two banks, UBA and First Bank, opened their doors to customers while other banks remained shut leaving customers, who thronged to the banks, stranded.

Hours later, some other banks opened for business after observing the tight security mounted by police and other security agencies in the city to secure lives and prosperity.

 But Ecobank and Diamond bank branches remained closed as at press time.

 Also, police helicopters were seen hovering over most of the cities to provide aerial surveillance especially in Umuahia, the hometown of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

Mr. Kanu, who is facing charges of treasonable felony, was recently released on bail. While on bail, he has, however, restated his demand for a Biafran state, and urged support for Tuesday’s sit-at-home.

The Ohaneze Ndigbo, a foremost socio-cultural Igbo group, also said it saw nothing wrong in the sit-at-home directive, saying it was a peaceful means of protest.

PT

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Tuesday, 30 May 2017 18:58

FG THREATENS TO SHUT BORDERS WITH NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES

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The Federal Government has threatened to shut some land borders if the smuggling of rice continues from neighbouring countries.

Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, gave the warning on Monday while speaking to journalists on some of the Federal Government’s achievements in the agriculture sector in the last two years in Abuja.

Mr. Ogbeh said the decision had become necessary to encourage local rice farmers and to enable the country achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2018.

“We believe they are determined to sabotage the efforts that we are making to guarantee self-sufficiency in rice and to save foreign exchange which we don’t have.

 “They insist on bringing in rice through the land borders, avoiding the duties and the levies we put on them and they are definitely bent on sabotaging our efforts and we are getting increasingly unhappy with them.

“And I must say that very soon, if they persist, we will take very nasty measures against them.

“We will like to advise our neighbours, who believe that the ECOWAS treaty means that Nigeria is a volunteer nation for economic suicide. 

“We have no such plans, destroying our own economy to make any neighbour happy.

 “The ECOWAS treaty number two does not suggest that any country can be an avenue of smuggling foreign goods not produced in that country for dumping in his neighbours territory.

“If they insist, I do not think that government is far away from considering permanently closing certain borders very near us and when we do, nothing will make us change our minds on the issue, ECOWAS treaty or not,” Mr. Ogbeh warned.

The minister said that the importation of rice reduced from 580,000 tonnes in 2015 to 58,000 tonnes by 2016.

According to him, by the end of this year, we will eliminate the difference because more people are growing rice in the country.

 He said the Federal Government would distribute no fewer than 200 rice mills to millers across the states of the federation to encourage fresh milling of locally produced rice in order to make them more palatable than the imported ones.

Mr. Ogbeh said the move would save about $5 million for the country daily when achieved. 

According to the minister, about three months ago, there was this cry about Nigeria going to starve and we told them that there will be no such thing.

 “We have never produced as much grains as we did in the last two years in this country’s history.

 “We have fed not only Nigeria, we have fed West Africa and there are still thousands of tonnes in people’s warehouses.

“Those who bought grains and stored believing that starvation was near and they will make a killing they are now begging us to take off the grains from them because they are getting stuck.

 “The only shortfall we have is maize because of the disease called the armyworm.

 “We are dealing with that and this planting season, we are going to support farmers to make sure that we bring that disease under control.

“We have done amazing things in agriculture in two years, we are still going,” Mr. Ogbeh said.

The minister said the government was working toward achieving self-sufficiency in staples within the next two years excluding wheat.

He said that government’s ambition was that in five to six years from now, Nigeria should be able to earn between N10 to N30 billion from exportation of agricultural produce annually to service the country’s debts and build robust foreign reserves.

NAN

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Tuesday, 30 May 2017 14:54

VIOLENCE MARRED APC COUNCILLORSHIP PRIMARIES, NURTW LEADER KILLED, SCORES INJURED

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Violence, yesterday, marred the councillorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Lagos billed for the 377 wards of the state.

At least one person was killed and scores were injured in the exercises in some wards.

While candidates emerged in many areas, disagreements led to postponement in some others.

Some of the councils rocked by violence include: Ejigbo Local Government Area, Ikeja, Mushin, Oshodi-Isolo, some parts of Agege and Amuwo-odofin.

Crisis marred the primaries at Shogunle area of Lagos following the killing of one of the leaders of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW popularly known as Hamburger, by a rival union and supporters of one of the aspirants in Oshodi/Isolo local government.

Vanguard gathered that fight broke out between the rival groups at Saka/Oposun area of the Shogunle, during a brawl between one of the groups led by Harmburger whose real name is Rasaq Bello and Golden group led by one Samson Agbetola, over which group was more powerful.

It was gathered that each of the groups was allegedly hired by APC aspirants identified simply as Tunde, Wasiu and Oriji.

Hamburger’s group, which has the largest crowd as gathered, threw its weight behind Wasiu, while members of Samson Agbetola’s group rooted for Tunde .

As the primaries got under way at a police post on Ago Owu street, supporters of the aspirants were reportedly chanting the praise of their respective aspirants.

An eye witness identified simply as Bolaji, said that a member of Golden group taunted one of Hamburger’s boys, an action that led to a free-for-all.

Said Bolaji: “A member of Golden group challenged one of Harmburger’s boys, boasting that they would overpower them in spite of their number. A heated argument ensued between both parties and before we knew it, bottles and other dangerous weapons were flying in the air. Harmburger was shot in the process by a member of Samson Agbetola group. He was rushed to Geo Hospital on Zuberu street, where he later died.

Two other persons were hit by stray bullets but they did not die.”

Pandemonium broke out when news of harmburger’s death filtered in, as his loyalists took to the streets in search of members of the rival group. Several persons were reportedly injured in the process with vehicles’ windscreens shattered.

A member of the rival group identified simply as Afeez, as gathered, was traced to a drinking joint around Oshodi where he was stabbed severally. He was left in the pool of his blood while the assailants went in search of other members.

Before long, the crisis escalated to other parts of Oshodi as shop owners hurriedly locked up for the day while motorists avoided the route.

Politicians who assembled at the venue of the primaries hurriedly fled with some of them having their vehicles’ windscreens shattered.

One of the politicians, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said:  “ I am for nobody. I only went there to vote for my choice aspirant. I had a narrow escape because I had to drive out of their midst.’’

The late hamburger was leader of the okada arm of NURTW. He was a lover of all. Infact, he was in support of the former local government chairman. He did not hide his full support for him as he posted his banners in front of his house. But nobody knew why he was the target”.

But for the arrival of policemen at the scene, more casualties would have been recorded. Three Police Armoured Personnel carriers and patrol vans were positioned in different parts of the area.

Vanguard gathered that several arrests were made. Among those arrested was a lady identified simply as Funke. She was picked up at her house on Ago Owu street.

Also, Amuwo-odofin recorded violence as opposing groups disrupted normal process of the primaries.

Officials of the Lagos State Independent National Electoral Commission, LASIEC, who were around to monitor the exercise were chased away by miscreants. It was gathered that Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in the area had early in the morning engaged stakeholders in a meeting on the need to maintain peace and avoid any act of lawlessness.

Irate youths at the weekend, had set ablaze the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Secretariat, located in Festac Town, to protest alleged impartiality in the election exercise.

Some points in Mushin council were also thrown into confusion as miscreants took over the exercise.

Ejigbo Local Government exercise also witnessed chaos as miscreants prevented electoral officers from conducting the exercise which led to cancelation.

One of the councils where the primary election recorded smooth exercise is the Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area, LCDA,  old Alimosho.

The Sole Administrator of Egbe-Idimu LCDA, Mr. Yakub Salami, described the exercise as peaceful.

According to him, the reason for the success recorded was mainly due to series of stakeholders’ meetings held earlier where consensus candidates were selected, “so there was no reason for any opposing views. Our leaders, led by Governor Rauf Aregbesola Osun State have done the needful to ensure rancour-free exercise.”

The exercise was also orderly and peaceful in Iba LCDA where there was a keen contest between Segun Otun and Kabiru Ododo for the APC ticket.

Mr Abayomi Joseph, a member of the party, who took part in the primaries said the exercise was hitch-free.

Olorunda LCDA holds peaceful primary

The Ward primaries of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Olorunda Local Council Development Area, Badagry was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere amid tight security.

Delegates of the party, from Ward A to E, in the LCDA converged as early as 10 am yesterday to elect Councillors, who would represent the area at the July 22 local government polls.

Accreditation of party delegates, which was held at LABOL events centre at Aradagun area, commenced at 10 am, while voting started by 1pm.

Vanguard gathered that only accredited delegates from each of the wards were allowed to cast their vote.

In spite of the violence that marred  the chairmanship primaries on Sunday during which Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, chairman of the APC Local Government Electoral Committee, was manhandled by aggrieved supporters over alleged imposition of candidates, the APC insisted that it would go ahead with yesterday’s exercises.

Asked to react on the development, Chairman, APC Lagos State chapter, Otunba Henry Ajomale declined comments saying he has not been briefed by the election committee chairman, Senator Afikuyomi.

“I can’t really make any comment on the outcome of the exercise at the moment because I have not been briefed by the electoral chairman. ‘I am sure they are still receiving reports across the councils for collation after which I will be briefed. At the appropriate time, I will make my comment on the conduct of the whole exercise.”

Vanguard 

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Tuesday, 30 May 2017 14:51

AGF, NDLEA SHELVE KASHAMU'S EXTRADITION OVER PENDING SUITS

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The Attorney- General of the Federation and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have agreed not to extradite Sen. Buruji Kashamu to the United States until the determination of all court cases on the matter.

Kashimu had gone to court to stop the two from extraditing him to face trial in the U.S over alleged importation of hard drugs.

Counsels to the two indicated the new position in a court process they filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Kashamu had gone to the court to seek their committal to prison on the ground that they were planning to abduct and deport him to the United States, contrary to the ruling of the court.

However, at the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, Kashamu’s counsel, Mr Akin Olujimi (SAN), told Justice Gabriel Kolawale that the threat of his extradition no longer subsist.

He, therefore, applied for leave to withdraw the suit against the AGF and NDLEA in view of the assurances given.

The counsel told the judge that all parties will now face the various cases pending at the Court of Appeal.

He said these were appeals that emanated from the refusal of the Federal High Courts to grant the extradition request.

Counsel to the AGF, Mr Tanko Ashang, and that of the NDLEA, Mr Mike Kassa did not object to the withdrawal of the case.

In his ruling, Justice Kolawale granted the leave sought for the withdrawal of the suit to allow the parties pursue their cases at the appellate court.

“In the light of the application to withdraw this suit and to move to Court of Appeal to pursue all pending appeals in respect of the extradition matter, leave is hereby granted for withdrawal of this suit,’’ Kolawale ruled.

(NAN)

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Monday, 29 May 2017 06:03

DESPITE COURT ORDER, NNAMDI KANU ADDRESSES PRO-BIAFRA CROWD

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Leader of Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, addressed a crowd of supporters, numbering more than 10, in his father’s compound in Abia State.

The address, whose video has since gone viral on social media, appeared a violation of conditions set by Justice Binta Nyako when she granted Mr. Kanu bail in April. 

Mr. Kanu, who is facing charges of treasonable felony at the Federal High Court in Abuja has been at the vanguard of the call for an independent Biafra republic from the Nigerian state.

In granting him bail in April, Justice Nyako listed 12 conditions, including an order for Mr. Kanu to avoid being seen in a crowd of more than ten people. 

The court also instructed that Mr. Kanu desist from granting interviews or engaging in any form of rallies as part of his conditions for bail.

However, in the 14 minutes, 22 seconds video seen by PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, Mr. Kanu is seen speaking to a congregation of Biafran supporters on the occasion of the Shabbat, a Jewish religious programme.

“Not minding what is happening, we remain IPOB, is that correct? (Crowd respond in chants of affirmation for Mr. Kanu’s question). We are unstoppable. This congregation here is very special to me. This is the very first observance of Shabbat in this very family. My joy knows no bounds because in prison I used to dream about this; I used to dream about keeping the Shabbat,” he said.

The IPOB leader also made reference to the call by his organisation for Ibos and supporters of Biafra to shut down their business operations on May 30, a call that has been condemned by the police.

“On the 30th of May, we will shut this very place down and prepare for Biafra. The choice is theirs, if they will give us a date for the referendum. And if they fail to do that there will be no election in the south east forever and ever,” he said.

Mr. Kanu had applied for the bail alongside his co- defendants, David Nwawuisi, Benjamin Madubugwu and Chidiebere Onwudiwe. He was granted bail, alone, on health grounds, with the judge granting orders for Mr. Kanu’s medical report to be delivered to the court on a monthly basis. 

Reacting to the implication of the video on Mr. Kanu’s bail condition, his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, said Mr. Kanu’s appearance in a crowd of more than 10 people cannot be regarded as a negation of court orders.

“I have not seen the video, you are referring to, but that cannot be seen in the context you are taking it. The court itself recognised the fact that Kanu is a religious man and that is why one of his sureties was required to be a religious leader from his Jewish religion.

"Remember that Kanu is a Jew. The court, for example, cannot say that Kanu should not go to church, or to a supermarket or any such similar places. That condition and a few others are part of what we are seeking to get the court to interpret,” the counsel said.

PT

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Monday, 29 May 2017 05:59

DEMOCRACY DAY: NOTHING TO CELEBRATE - MAKARFI

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PRESS RELEASE 

Today, May 29, 2017 marks another ‘Democracy Day’ and two years that our great Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bequeathed democratic governance to the current administration of All Progressive Congress (APC); which it has already squandered given its intolerance and highhandedness to any form of opposition, as well as crass ineptitude in governance. We make bold to state that our deepest concern as a Party to grow democracy in Nigeria engendered the solid foundation we put in place and guaranteed the agreeable atmosphere that enabled oppositions to thrive and consequently won elections. Unfortunately, this same Party, APC that benefited from free access to political space has left no stone unturned in suppressing the PDP and denying it to provide credible opposition in the Country. It is Ironic!

2. For the Record, Democracy Day in Nigeria is heralded by PDP as a day set aside to celebrate the enforcement of the rights of citizens to freely elect their leaders through regular elections and the need to equally promote other democratic principles, as demonstrated through a peaceful change in political leadership of the Country after 16 years of uninterrupted governance by PDP. Yes as a Nation, we may not have enjoyed total democracy but it is sad to note that the current sombre atmosphere of the APC suggests bleak 2019 elections outing. God forbid!

3. As Nigerians mark the 2nd Anniversary (Mid-term, May 2015 to May 2017) of APC in power, it is important to once again briefly remind us of the State of Affairs in the Nation as it has plunged the vast majority of the people into this 2 years of despondency, ambiguity, repressed and depressed condition and still ongoing. We would have simply wished Nigerians happy celebrations but there is nothing to celebrate from this APC Government which represents confusion in its entirety. A Government that formed its Cabinet within 6 months of assumption of office, jokes with the country's annual budget, led Africa’s No. 1 economy into depression, put in place an ambiguous Economic Plan after 2 years in power, and the list is endless.

4. Consequently, we consider it apt to recount some of the failures of this APC led Government of President Buhari in different sectors of the Nigeria’s Economy and our national life, such as:

(A) CORRUPTION

i. Beginning with the issue of corruption in this discussion is critical in line with the APC/President Buhari’s ‘Change Agenda’ and ‘hype in corruption chase’ which has left sour taste given the dishonesty and charade that has characterized the actions of this Government so far. For the record, ‘corruption’ is endemic in our system since the Military era and using it to weep citizens’ sentiments is absurd while playing ignorant of honest achievements made by PDP Governments to combat this alarming menace. The Question is what has the APC done to fight corruption? Nothing! Yes indeed nothing except noise, hounding, torturing, flouting of court orders and vilification of opposition leaders and members in and out of courts/incarcerations without proving anything; harassments, intimidation, indiscriminate arrests and detention of Judges in order to cow them to desecrate the Judiciary and deny the people justice; promote Gestapo State and by extension, kill democracy.

ii. On the much celebrated anti-corruption fight of the APC therefore, it must be noted that it was previous PDP governments that created and sustained all the institutions for fighting corruption such as the EFCC and the ICPC. Under the PDP administrations most of those who were tried by these agencies were PDP members. The PDP never made any effort to shield PDP members from prosecution and investigation as is the case with the APC Government which has made it a policy to sweep all the dirt of its members under the Carpet. Instead of entrenching transparency and accountability in governance processes, the APC’s recent ‘Whistle Blowing Policy’ for instance, appears to be a mockery of the System given the reprehensible and comic actions so far under it by finding “orphaned monies” in all nooks and cranny of the Country by the EFCC.

iii. Electoral process – Nigerians and the international community have lost confidence in INEC under the APC by not allowing it to perform its statutory functions without interference as an unbiased umpire but instead, functions as its department which was evident in the negative Conduct of Gubernatorial Elections in Edo, Ondo and Bayelsa states and other subsequent elections where it demonstrated loss of integrity and independence.

iv. The Judiciary –We know that the public will agree with us that that the PDP left a stronger Judiciary which the APC is discrediting with impunity as it flouts court orders at will.

(B) THE ECONOMY

i. Investment – Record show that Nigeria became the favoured investors’ destination in Africa with the highest investment of $8.4 billion USD; and it attracted $20 billion USD worth of foreign investments in 3 years. But two years into the APC’s governance, as a result of incompetence and President Buhari’s de-marketing of Nigeria while globetrotting; investors (both local & foreign) have withdrawn their monies from the System thereby creating economic inactivity and consequent depression that we are being faced with alarming rate of suicide. No doubt, economic activities and an enabling environment is the basic response to recession but experience and requisite skills are alien to the APC in this regard.

ii. Petrol Subsidy Removal – It is on record that APC wailed against subsidy removal and due to PDP’s Government sensitivity to the people, Petrol Pump Price was then reduced to N87 which the APC under few months of assumption of office jacked to N145. It is high time Nigerians demanded for the proceeds of this insensitive action with no palliative measures.

iii. Let us again remind APC that the US Dollar under the PDP Government was 190 Naira to 1 US Dollar but today, the difference is there for everyone to see. The 18,000 Naira Minimum Wage could buy 2 bags of Rice then with a balance in the PDP led government but today, price of food items and other commodities increased by more than 100% with static income; and instead of $1 to equal N1 as promised, it’s changing for almost N400. Every other promise made is equally not fulfilled. For instance, the Retail Price of Cement was N1,750 before but in the two years of APC led Administration, it equally skyrocketed to N2,700. Nigerians have never been this hungry in their entire lives as seen in the last two years except during the Civil War. The Federal Government under the PDP created 500,000 jobs per annum for our teeming unemployed youths. Since the APC led administration took over, more than 4.5 million people have lost their jobs instead.

(C) SECURITY

The Security Situation in the Country today has worsened with the rampaging herdsmen’s attacks killing innocent and harmless people unabated and sacking communities. The scourge of herdsmen attack across the Country under the APC is more than the activities of Boko Haram in the North East. The efforts of the PDP in fighting Boko Haram activities still speaks volume of its sensitivity towards preservation of citizens’ lives and properties; and if the APC had maintained the success achieved during the 2015 Elections in the North-East Region, the deadly Group wouldn’t have regrouped. It is also on record that it was the same weapons bought by previous PDP administration that the present government is still using to prosecute the war on insurgency in the Northeast.

5. Against this backdrop and more, it’s obvious therefore that there is nothing to celebrate as we mark Democracy Day on the 29th of May, 2017 given that we are counting loses of previous achievements recorded and none to show case by this APC led Administration in the last two years. For instance, the PDP handed over to the APC, a Nigeria that is the Africa No. 1 Economy with GDP of $546.70 billion USD and a single digit Inflation Rate of 8.5% but sadly, our GDP under the APC contracted by 0.52% with double digit Inflation Rate of 14.75%. Nigeria’s debt burden has also increased to $57.39 Billion as at February 2017 according to the Debt Management Office (DMO). The APC led Government with this suffocating debt burden is still borrowing and plunging the Country and citizens unborn into more indebtedness.

6. Finally, Peoples Democratic Party led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, CON on behalf of the entire Organs and PDP family and supporters nationwide, wish Nigerians Happy Democracy Day and call on all the citizens to continue praying for the full restoration of President Buhari’s health and his safe return to the Country. We also urge the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to assent to the 2017 National Budget as a matter of urgency and see to its successful implementation in order to reduce the sufferings of the people.

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Sunday, 28 May 2017 09:22

AMBODE, WIFE COMMITTED SACRILEGE AND SHOULD APOLOGISE - BISHOP

Rt. Rev. Michael Adeyemi is head of African Church, Ifako Diocese, and the boss of the Presiding Chaplain of the Chapel of Christ the Light, Ikeja, Venerable Femi Taiwo, who was sacked by Lagos State Government for allegedly disrespecting wife of the governor, Bolanle. In this explosive interview with SAMSON FOLARIN, Adeyemi states the position of the church.

What relationship exists between The African Church and the Chapel of Christ the Light? 

The chapel belongs to the Lagos State Government, but it is being managed by the entire Christian body and, specifically, the various blocs that form Christian Association of Nigeria. In CAN, there are five blocs. The African Church belongs to the Christian Council of Nigeria, which is one of the blocs. The position of the Presiding Chaplain of the Chapel is rotated among the blocs to avoid any disharmony in the body of Christ. So, it is our turn to produce the Presiding Chaplain.

Venerable Taiwo, who is from this (Ikeja) diocese, was the chaplain for three years and after the three years he applied to become the presiding chaplain. He was interviewed and discovered to be qualified. He was subsequently employed as the Presiding Chaplain. 

He started in January 2016, and was supposed to spend three years, but this incident happened. His predecessor came from the ECWA bloc of CAN and it was when his predecessor finished his tenure that he was appointed. 

What is the process of appointing chaplains?

When the position becomes vacant, it will be published in the newspapers. Normally, applications will be invited from everybody, but in the end it will follow the usual order of rotation. So, when everybody applies, there will be a panel that will interview the applicants and the qualified person will be employed.

What do you know about the events that culminated in the sack of Taiwo?

It was on Monday, May 15, that Venerable Taiwo called me that there was a development in the chapel and that he was coming to see me. He came and showed me the sack letter, saying that his appointment had been terminated. 

However, before now, there had been some issues in the chapel. He said the governor’s wife called him and the chaplain, who was his assistant, to see her. The two of them went there and they had a good interaction. There was no problem. That (incident) happened in the first week of May.

 He said some members of the governing council then called him to know why he went to the First Lady’s office and he explained to them that he and his assistant were invited. The council then told him he shouldn’t have gone to see her and that he should have allowed them to resolve any issue. The council then asked him and his assistant to write an apology letter, which they did. The governing council said the letter was to assuage the First Lady because she felt she was being challenged and accused of fraternising with a former presiding chaplain. According to Venerable Taiwo, that was the only encounter they had before the Monday 15th sack letter came. 

But are you aware that he got some queries as the government alleged? Has he ever told you he was queried at anytime for any offence?

I asked him specifically if he had been receiving queries from the officials of the chapel or the government, but he said it had never happened.

I know Taiwo. He is a very responsible minister of God; very knowledgeable, humble and disciplined. I have worshiped at that chapel a few times myself. And I made personal investigations about him. Even members of the chapel are saddened by this development. If you know about what they have been doing since this incident happened, you will know venerable Taiwo is a man everybody respects.

Like what?

They accommodated him and furnished the place just to make him comfortable. They have also written to the government to rescind the decision. He is not a wayward person.

A lot of Nigerians are outraged about what happened. Do you think that this anger is justified?

It is highly justified. Even as a church, we are furious with the government. But we are trying to approach the issue from different angles. One is to appeal to the government, if reason will prevail. The governor himself and his wife can rescind the order. Head of the church, His Eminence, Primate Emmanuel Josiah, has written to the governor’s office. He has been asked to book an appointment with the First Lady. We are aware that the letter written to the First Lady is not being attended to; she is not even ready to make herself available.

Has the church received any formal complaint against the Venerable.? 

That is where as a church we are angry with the government. If he is a serial offender as alleged, nothing stops them from reporting him to the church, that the person you seconded to the office here has a bad attitude and we would have called him to order. We have many others that we could have sent to the chapel. But we are very sure of him that was why we sent him. The government failed to inform us and for government now to have taken such a drastic step and tell him to leave (his official apartment) within 24 hours leaves much to be desired.

You mean the 24-hour ultimatum was truly stated in the sack letter?

I was here (in my office) when he (Venerable Taiwo) called me that they asked him to pack out within 24 hours and that he was even told that the governor’s wife would not like to hear that he was still being seen around. Then we started wondering what could have happened? Somebody that has a wife and kids, and you asked him to go within 24 hours? Where do you expect him to go?

This is very ungodly! It is a sacrilege for someone who happens to be a Christian. Even when Fashola (former Lagos State Governor) was there, despite being a Muslim, he never took such a decision. Now that the governor (Ambode) is a Christian, which we all fought for, he is the one taking ungodly decisions. We have written letters to CAN and CCN, including the Methodist Church where Venerable Taiwo’s assistant came from, that if Mrs. Ambode, is trying to cause divide and rule among the Christians, she should go ahead. We are not afraid of anything.

We understand that Mrs. Ambode is also a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, let her go and ask the RCCG Pastor, Enoch Adeboye, whether what she did was the right thing to do to a minister of God. It is ungodly and very sad.

When the church heard that the sack was about anointing oil, what was the general reaction of the church?

Anointing oil is a personal thing. Nobody has the right or power to force anybody to take anointing oil. It is even ungodly to say a worshipper should take it by force. Even Holy Communion is voluntary; there is no protocol when it comes to that. When you are in the House of God, rich or poor, old or young, you are all equal before God. If Ambode will recall, anytime she comes for service, she will be the one to sit in the front and she has the right and privilege of going to the stage first if she is interested. 

What did the Venerable tell you happened at the service that day?

 I have tried to confirm from Taiwo what really happened on that Sunday and he said the service held as usual. There were three of them who stood to minister the anointing oil and few of them who wished to receive the oil came forward. Ambode’s wife later joined the queue. And she even participated in the thanksgiving service.

But why was she angry that day? The church members said she left in annoyance.

From my findings, her point of annoyance was that she was not recognised. She was not duly recognised and I asked that at what point was she expecting that recognition? I was told that Venerable Taiwo mounted the pulpit to deliver the sermon, she expected him to recognise and welcome her to the service. To some extent, I agree with her because the Bible says we should give honour to whom it is due.

 Was that enough for a sacking?

That did not call for a sacking. The procedure they adopted was ungodly. If she felt offended because of recognition, there is a procedure. She could have called the chapel members and the management body and let them query him and ask why he didn’t recognise the governor’s wife. And then the management body would make their recommendation to the governing council. And the council will then forward their decision to the government. That is the way it should be done. But they didn’t do it.

Whatsoever it is, our own point is that the right procedure was not followed. Government has the right to employ and the right to sack. But if you are now sacking and asking the person to leave within 24 hours, that is too much.

As a church, we are demanding apology from the governor and the government of Lagos State. We demanded that we wanted a Christian governor. We came out en masse and supported the political ambition of Ambode. We told our members to go out and vote for him. Unfortunately, people have started mocking us.

 What has happened is a sacrilege and Mr. Ambode should know that. We have been appreciating his efforts in Lagos. Why will he allow himself to get involved in such a trivial issue that can spoil his public image? You are the governor and the image of Lagos State and the father of all. When any report comes to you, you should dissect that report and know what steps and action to take. 

Has CAN tried to mediate in this matter?

Yes, CAN and CCN have been trying to do some underground work to ensure that the matter did not get to this level. But now that it has got to this point, we have served them letters and I am sure they know what to do.

Will the church query the Venerable over the incident? 

Yes, however, it might not be in the form of query. The church will do its findings over his activities over there and we will forward out findings to the centre. But so far from our findings, we have not found any fault in him. Some of the elders and chapel leaders are also angry over the sacking. They were not informed. He has not done anything to warrant what happened.

What has been the experience of the pastors of the church with Mrs. Ambode and former first ladies in Lagos State? 

While I will not want to be too personal, as a church, we are very much at home with Dame Abimbola Fashola than with Mrs. Bolanle Ambode. Mrs. Fashola is a mother, very humble, knowledgeable and mature. She has a way of dealing with men, women, young, old, men of God of different cadres and she knows how to appreciate people. Many of these attributes are somehow lacking in Mrs Ambode. Maybe this is because of her tender age; she needs to acquire more experience.

What is the state of the Venerable and his family now?

I want to thank the members of the Chapel of Christ the Light. They have been very fantastic. They accommodated him and furnished the place he is staying now. His car got burnt where he parked it. If a car is parked in a government house and that car got burnt in the middle of the night like 2am, there is foul play. Even that alone, if government is very fair, they were supposed to set up a panel to investigate it. But that did not happen.

When this incident happened, it was these members that bought him another car so that he would not feel the impact of what happened. Even as a church, we are making plans to ensure he is not stranded.

 He will not be without a ministry. We are going to give him a station very soon, if he is not called back. We just don’t want to rush it.

What will the church do if the government recalls him? 

If government calls him back before he resumes at his new station, then we will need to sit down with them because this is a complete embarrassment to the church. Ambode,  his wife, the state government, embarrassed and insulted the African Church. We must sort things out and give them our stand.

They may decide to recall him because of the tension that has arisen over the incident only to do something worse. These politicians cannot be predicted. Any politician that does not have the fear of God cannot be trusted. The embarrassment they caused us has never happened to any other denomination. Even during the military era this never happened.

Why do you think some government officials don’t respect pastors and priests? 

They lack the fear of God. They are conscious of position and money and with this, the society cannot move forward. Also, our religious leaders have messed themselves up because of money. They are patronising the politicians and they are making them to believe that their anointing is not real.

But I believe that any politician, who has the fear of God in him, even if any minister misbehaves, you are not the one to judge him. You should ensure you do your part. If Ambode or his wife knows the tenets of Christianity, they will not deal with Venerable Taiwo like that. They will know that this is a man of God.

They should have said have written to us, saying they don’t want to embarrass the church and we as a church would have handled it. We have a lot of other ministers across the state and the country. But they didn’t do that because there is no fear of God in them. They are not ready to submit to the Will and Word of God. Ego is killing us.

If not ego, why should Mrs. Ambode feel embarrassed that she was not called first to receive the anointing? But when ego takes the better part of any individual, that person will misbehave and if you tell him or her the truth, he or she will not agree.

Punch

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Sunday, 28 May 2017 09:17

OSIBANJO, NAMADI SAMBO DISAGREE AT ZARIA WATER COMMISSIONING

in News

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and his predecessor, Arch. Namadi Sambo, on Saturday disagreed over the role played by present and past Kaduna governors in a water project in Zaria, commissioned by Professor Osinbajo.

Represented at the event by the national chairman of All Progressives Congress, Mr John Oyegun, the acting president claimed the project had lingered for 16 years but was speedily completed by Governor Nasir El-Rufai in two years. 

But the 150 million liters per day multi-billion water project was initiated by Sambo in 2008 when he was governor of the north western state.

Osinbajo’s representative described El-Rufa’i as one of the most visionary governors the party has produced. 

“I am glad on behalf of the party, it took an APC governor just two years to complete a project that has been in slumber for over 16 solid years.

“I want to specially thank our host, governor of Kaduna State, this is one of the showcase examples of what an APC government is all about,” he said.

He described the invitation of Sambo to witness the inauguration as a demonstration of good will of the state government.

But Sambo struck back in his speech, telling the audience that while El-Rufai’s effort was commendable, the project had not gone beyond where he left it seven years ago. 

The former vice president however said the event would bring an end to water scarcity in Zaria which had been on for over 40 years.

He urged the benefiting communities to make judicious use of the project and to protect it against vandalism.

The first part of the project inaugurated by Osinbajo would supply water to Zaria and Sabongari Local Government Areas.

When fully completed, the Zaria water supply project would also be extended to Giwa, Kudan, Makarfi, Soba and Kubau local government areas.

To facilitate the project, the Federal Government constructed the Galma dam which has 186.1 million cubic metres of water to provide raw water to Zaria water treatment plant. 

The state government also secured funding from the African Development Bank and the other financial institutions. 

El-Rufa’i described the inauguration of the project as a fulfilment of one of his major promises during electioneering campaign. 

“This water treatment plant is an important component of the Zaria water supply expansion project that Kaduna State Government is executing with the support of Federal Government, AFDB, IDB,” he said. 

The governor explained that the state government funded the construction of the new water plant, transmission mains and service reservoirs, and also rehabilitated and extended the distribution network.

According to him, the project will improve public health and standard of living, enhance investment and commercial activities, as well as create jobs, improve livelihood and reduce poverty. 

The ADB approved a credit facility of $101 million in 2012 for the rehabilitation and extension of distribution network of the project.  

NAN

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Sunday, 28 May 2017 09:12

VIOLENCE ERUPTS AT APC ELECTION, EX-SENATOR MANHANDLED

in News

Violence erupted midway into the primary election of All Progressives Congress (APC) to elect chairmanship candidates for the July 22 council polls in Lagos State on Saturday, ending the event abruptly. 

Some aggrieved party supporters engaged one another in a free-for-all midway into the election, smashing ballot boxes over allegations of imposition of candidates at the election.

 Scores of delegates and others present at the Teslim Balogun Stadium venue fled in different directions as a result of the fracas, even as some were injured.

Chairman of the Elections Committee, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, was also attacked, and partially stripped by angry supporters who accused him of partiality as he scampered to safety.

Security officials later forced him out of the grip of angry youth and whisked him away.

Trouble started when some party members in Surulere and Lagos Mainland openly protested against the names of candidates being read out by Afikuyomi for endorsement as consensus candidates. 

They alleged that the party leadership was foisting candidates on them and said the decision of the leadership to approve consensus candidates in 18 councils was wrong. 

The aggrieved members initially vented their anger through protests, but it later degenerated into fracas between supporters of selected candidates and those who opposed them.

A party faithful, Mr Wale Tokunbo, said shortly before violence broke out that the substitution of Tajudeen Ajide for the Surulere Local Government Area Chairmanship for another candidate was unjust.

“The removal of Ajide’s name for the name of somebody we don’t know is not acceptable to us.

“If we talk about democracy, we should be able to practise it. This primary is a sham; we would resist it,” he said.

Another party faithful in Mainland Local Government who pleaded anonymity said that party members were surprised at the mention of Yaba Local Government as one of the areas with a consensus candidate at the primary.

He said there were aspirants contesting for the post in the area and that nobody knew of the consensus candidate until they got to the venue.

 “What consensus candidates are they talking about? We are just knowing that Yaba is one of them now. This is wrong,” he said.

Earlier in his speech, Chairman of the party, Mr Henry Ajomale, urged delegates and other supporters not to be violent.

“I welcome you all to this election and I urge you all to conduct yourselves in a peaceful manner.

“We have the information that some people are here to cause trouble. We shouldn’t allow them because they are saboteurs," he said. 

NAN

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Sunday, 28 May 2017 08:19

ANGRY NIGERIANS BACK SACKED PASTOR, CONDEMN AMBODE'S WIFE

In the wake of a report on the sacking of the presiding Chaplain of Chapel of Christ the Light, Alausa, Lagos State, allegedly on the order of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, many Nigerians have sided with the priest, Venerable Femi Taiwo, while lambasting the wife of the governor for what they described as her haughtiness and overbearing influence. 

They also lampooned the government for ordering the priest to vacate his official residence within 24 hours.

The PUNCH, on Friday, had reported that Taiwo was sacked a day after the wife of the governor, Bolanle Ambode, stormed out of the church during an anointing service. Mrs. Ambode was said to have been unhappy that the priest did not accord her due recognition by anointing her before the other congregants.

Members of the church were said to have filed out to receive anointing oil during the service without any preference given to Bolanle, who reportedly waited endlessly with her entourage.

Chapel of Christ the Light is under the control of the Lagos State Ministry of Home Affairs but the Office of the Lagos State First Lady supervises the church.

By Friday afternoon, the PUNCH’s story had attracted up to 370 comments on our website, 400 comments and 600 shares on Facebook and was the most talked about story in several places within the major cities in the country. Most of the comments expressed shock that the wife of the governor could take such an action.

On The PUNCH website as well, almost all the entire comments under the story were against the governor and Mrs. Ambode.

A Facebook commenter, Solape Lawal-solarin, said, “The shameful dance of the fool who thinks (s)he is a jewel. God sees everyone as equal. The only thing that sets you apart is his discretion in giving grace.

“So, because you are the First Lady of Lagos State and your husband has suddenly got carried away because of the strides he has made in his first two years in the state, showing or flaunting the office is the in-thing. You have forgotten you are from the earth irrespective of your status.”

Another commenter, Kuma Julius, said, “If she couldn’t wait for her turn because she is the governor’s wife, she should have just bought an olive oil and do the anointing service in her house or office.”

A reader, Balogun Omotunde, described Taiwo’s sacking as the “height of impunity.”

“Imagine Steve Ayorinde trying to justify the chaplain’s sacking in a way that will suit his boss. Next time, Ambode will attempt to sack God. Arrant nonsense, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” he said.

On Thursday, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, had explained that Taiwo was sacked for past infractions.

According to him, the chaplain had been queried a number of times for “conduct unbecoming of his office.”

“The culmination of various indiscretions led to the Governing Council of the church issuing yet another query that led to his being relieved of his post. This has got nothing to do with the First Lady.”

But the explanation has not stopped the torrent of lambasting comments, like the one from Babatunde Adebowale Oyewole, who wrote, “This is total rubbish! Is Bolanle Ambode not equal with others before God? This is shameful! They are looking for God’s wrath if the Pastor is not recalled.”

 Another reader, Darkmanx Steve, wrote, “You are bigger than the church and God’s servant because of your position as ‘governor’s wife’. You fail to realise that after death all of us would be equal and would only be separated by judgement.

“Your judgement to the poor servant of God ends in throwing him out to render him and his family homeless and frustrated.”

Another commenter, Ola, wrote, “Tomorrow some people who do not know the definition of words will tell us the governor’s wife is very humble, the governor is very humble.

“Sacking someone because your wife was not attended to first. On the next election day, Ambode and his wife will join the queue and refuse to vote first, pretending they are humble and always ready to take their turn,” another commenter said.

A Facebook commenter, Patrick Perembowei Barnabas, was equally critical of the governor’s wife.

 “Keep your self-esteem at home while coming to church because in the church, nobody should be worshipped except God. Good Nigerians believe in first come, first serve. We don’t have first Lady in the church,” he wrote.

“Let Ambode defend this to Nigerians if he is really a nice man. Nigerians have suffered too much in the hands of their leaders,” another reader said.

Meanwhile, Saturday PUNCH learnt on Friday that Taiwo has now settled into a new and fully furnished accommodation provided by members of his congregation.

Taiwo told one of our correspondents that he got five offers of apartment from different members of the African church congregation.

A source within the church told our correspondents that church members who were miffed by the way the priest was treated came together to help him and his family.

“Apart from the apartment he moved to, he got four offers of apartment from different members of the African church congregation,” the source said.

Punch

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