ABUJA- NATIONAL Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, admitted Tuesday that he collected some money from former President Goodluck Jonathan to handle a job, just as he did not mention the nature of job that was given to him and how much was involved.
Addressing Journalists yesterday, Metuh cried out that the All Progressives Congress, APC led Federal Government has concluded plans to “silence” him.
In a text titled, ” Government Out to Silence Me” said, “Gentlemen of the press, this press briefing is expedient, taken into consideration the times we find ourselves, especially as they relate to me.
“In the last seven months, as opposition spokesperson, I have been hounded, harassed, intimidated and threatened severally. In order to avoid personal and family pressure, I had refrained from bringing them to the public domain.
“However, on account of recent information available to me, I now have cause to believe that the Federal Government is desperate and may have finalized plans to silence me.
“Nevertheless, I make bold to state the following: As someone who has been a private person, having not taken any public office, the choice of where, how and when to invest and conduct my personal business remains my prerogative. In this regard, I note that I never had any contract dealings with the immediate past Federal Government or any of its security apparatus.
“In the course of my duties as the National Publicity Secretary of our party, the then leader of our party and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria invited me and directed that I carry out some assignment relating to my office and which he duly funded. It is important to note that the former President was fully satisfied with the way and manner I handled the assignment.
“Finally, I reiterate that the present government should not use the apparatus of state power to settle personal scores.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday urged religious leaders across the country to do more in supporting the Federal Government’s efforts to strip Boko Haram of all of its religious pretensions.
He said he expected the leaders to also join hands with his administration to fully expose the group as vicious terrorists, devoid of any moral or philosophical direction.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke while granting audience to Ecuador’s new Ambassador to Nigeria, Leopoldo Verdesoto, who was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to present his letter of credence.
Buhari was further quoted as saying that a lot had already been done to properly expose Boko Haram as a ruthless, destructive and misguided terrorist group.
The President added, “What we have succeeded in doing is to separate terrorism from religion. The initial attraction for recruitments was religion.
“But now, people cannot relate with their relevance anymore and they are only associated with the destruction of lives and property.
“If your life does not mean anything to you, other peoples’ lives will not mean anything to you as well. And people are beginning to see that Boko Haram is just about destruction and nothing else.”
The President also told the new ambassador that his administration would continue to prioritise diversification and other measures to help the Nigerian economy withstand the shock of falling crude oil prices.
Buhari also received the letters of credence of the new Ambassador of Zambia, Dr. Solomon Jere; and the Ambassador of Colombia, Ms. Claudia Quintereo.
He wished all the three envoys successful tenure in Nigeria.
The Federal Government yesterday clarified its position in the ongoing trial of former National Security Adviser (NSA) Mohammed Sambo Dasuki before the High court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
It said the ex-NSA was being tried because he was involved in various activities that bordered on economic sabotage, compromise of the nation’s security and endangering the lives of Nigerian soldiers involved in the anti-terrorism fight with members of the Boko Haram sect.
The government said investigation by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) operatives revealed that Dasuki allegedly diverted huge funds meant for the nation’s security, with which he allegedly procured properties in foreign cities, such as Dubai and London.
It warned against granting bail to Dasuki on the grounds that he could be attacked by relatives of ill-equipped soldiers, who died in the anti-terror war as a result of Dasuki’s alleged diversion of funds meant for the purchase of arms and ammunition for the military.
It said investigation had been intensified to trace his assets in other foreign countries and ascertain where the yet to be located stolen funds are being hidden outside the country.
The government’s position is contained in a counter affidavit filed by the EFCC against Dasuki’s bail application. The affidavit was deposed to by an operative with the EFCC, Hassan Saidu, who said he was part of the team investigating Dasuki.
“The offences being alleged against the defendant/applicant border on economic sabotage that strikes at the very foundation of Nigeria’s wellbeing and existence.
“The security of the Nigerian nation was compromised and the lives of innocent Nigerian soldiers in the battlefront against terrorists were endangered on account of diversion of funds meant for the security of the nation by the applicant herein.
“It is in the interest of justice to put the applicant in protective custody so as to protect him from a possible attack by the relatives of the innocent soldiers who lost their lives due to lack of adequate equipment and facilities caused by the diversion of the funds meant for that purpose.
“Apart from the cases that are pending against the applicant, he is also being investigated in respect of other criminal allegations. The applicant acquired a large volume of assets with the proceeds of crimes and my team is currently tracing the assets and, if released on bail, the applicant will interfere with the asset tracing activities.
“The applicant transferred huge sums of monies to various companies, whose identifies we are still trying to trace. And, if released on bail, the applicant will interfere and frustrate our investigation. Our investigation also revealed that the applicant transferred large sums of monies outside Nigeria and he acquired several assets in Dubai and London with these funds.
“The prosecution is prepared to prove its case within the shortest possible time if the application is refused and the court orders accelerated hearing,” Saidu said.
The lead prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), arguing the counter affidavit yesterday, urged the court to refuse the bail applications by Dasuki and two others arraigned with him on Monday on a 19-count charge of criminal breach of public trust and diversion of public funds. They are ex-Finance and Administration Director in the office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu and former Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Aminu Baba-Kusa.
Jacobs faulted the argument by Dasuki’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN), that a Federal High Court, before which another case was pending against his client, had ruled that the offences are bailable. He contended that both cases were distinguishable.
‘‘Money laundering is a secondary offence and not a primary offence. But the charges before My Lord here are primary offences. My learned friend didn’t tell My Lord whether his client was enjoying the bail granted him by the other court before he was transferred to us (EFCC). Every money laundering case has a predicate offence.’’
Jacobs argued that presumption of innocence is not a sufficient ground for the accused persons to be granted bail. He noted that the status of the first defendant would intimidate the prosecution witnesses who had worked under him.
‘‘They are not entitled to bail because they may jump bail. I recognise that the granting or refusal of bail is at the discretion of the court, but if they will interfere with investigation of other cases that will be instituted against them, you can refuse them bail. If bail application is filed, it is not automatic that it must be granted,’’ Jacobs said.
On Raji’s argument that the charges did not indicate that the alleged money was for procurement of arms, Jacobs said the proof of evidence showed the purposes for which the money was meant, which was for the purchase of security equipment.
Moving his client’s bail application earlier, Raji urged the court to allow Dasuki on bail pending the conclusion of his trial.
He argued that under the Constitution, an accused is presumed innocent, no matter the gravity of the charge before the court. Also, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 has made bail possible in all cases.’’
Raji urged the court to discountenance Jacobs’ argument, particularly in relation to his claim that the former NSA would interfere with further investigation and witnesses in the current case.
He urged the court to seriously consider the ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja which had earlier granted Dasuki bail in another case.
“It will amount to internal inconsistency. I urge you, My Lord, to grant the first defendant bail on very liberal terms, even if you are not moved by the ruling by your brother at the Federal High Court.’’
Justice Baba-Yusuf cut in, telling Raji that the case before him and the one in which the first defendant is standing trial at the Federal High Court, Abuja are different.
‘‘Move the circumstances on which the bail should be granted and that is what will impress me,” Justice Baba-Yusuf said.
Salisu’s lawyer, A.U. Mustapha, argued in a similar manner, noting that his client has served the country meritoriously for 29 years.
“He is a responsible citizen of this country and he is ready to defend himself. He needs his liberty and unfettered access to his lawyer. He also needs to consult his books. So, he needs his freedom to be able to do all this,’’ he said.
Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf adjourned till Friday for ruling on the bail application. He directed that the defendants be further remanded in the custody of the EFCC.
There was anxiety yesterday in Kaduna, following a clash between members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and policemen in Tudun Wada.
An eyewitness account said the Shiite sect members were preparing for a protest against the arrest of their leader, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, by the military when the police came to disperse the crowd.
But the sect members regrouped at Tudun Nupawa where many of them were said to have engaged the police in a shootout, leading to injuries on both sides.
The source also said three persons were feared dead.
A source at the police clinic on Independence Way in the heart of Kaduna also hinted our correspondent that four policemen were injured, one in critical condition.
The clash came as the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau, led a Federal Government delegation to Kaduna State over the crisis between the army and the sect. They clashed last weekend when members of the sect blocked the Zaria/Jos road, preventing Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai’s convoy from passing.
The Minister also held a close door meeting with the Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai on the development before going to Zaria to ascertain what really transpired between the sect and the soldiers.
Danbazau told reporters at the Government House: “I came to Kaduna to see the situation of things and I decided to see the Chief Security Officer of the state.
“I’m on my way to Zaria to see the situation of things.”
On yesterday’s incident, the sect issued a statement, saying: “The mobile police unit (MOPOL) attacked a peaceful protest staged by the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in Kaduna, killing three people on the spot, with many receiving gunshot injuries.
“As usual with such protest conducted by the Muslim brothers, it started peacefully from Layin Kosai area of Tudun Wada Kaduna. However, when it reached Tudun Nupawa near Enugu Road, MOPOL, in about five vehicles, opened fire on the protesters.
“The main aim and slogans of the protesters was ‘Release Sheikh Zakzaky!’ “Enough is Enough!
“The protest was dispersed by the police by their sporadic shootings.
However about 9 police vehicles moved to Tudun Wada where the Markaz (Islamic Centre) of the Muslim brothers is situated and opened fire there.
“As if in continuation of what the army started in Zaria over the weekend.
“Report reaching us said many were killed or wounded there also.
Similar protests were held in Bauchi, Gombe, Kano and Gusau, and they all ended peacefully, becouse no police were ordered to shoot the protesters.
The question is, who are those in authority that are bent on creating choas in Kaduna through such brutal attacks on ordinary unarmed people.” The statement read.
The city centre was initially paralysed, as shops, banks and other businesses were shut for the fear of the unknown.
President Muhammadu Buhari will on December 22, present the 2016 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly for consideration and approval, The Nation learnt yesterday.
A reliable source in the Senate told our reporter that the subject matter of the presentation of the 2016 Appropriation Bill on Tuesday next week was discussed at a close door session the upper chamber held yesterday.
He noted that the Senate would have adjourned plenary for Christmas break tomorrow but didn’t do so because of the presentation of the 2016 budget “tentatively slated for next Tuesday.”
The source however added that “nothing is sacrosanct as the date can still be changed if occasion demands.”
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi did not mention the presentation of the budget at a briefing yesterday.
Sabi only said Nigerians would be informed whenever the 2016 budget was received from the Presidency when he was asked whether the fiscal document had been submitted to the Senate.
President Muhammadu Buhari and his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, may soon meet over the mind- boggling revelations from the arms cash probe.
Former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki, who is standing trial for alleged misapplication and fraudulent disbursement of over N31b meant for purchase of arms, has alleged in his statement to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that all his disbursements were approved by the ex-President.
Sources said some associates of Dr. Jonathan were arranging a private meeting between the leaders to enable Jonathan “straighten out” some things with the President.
The ex-President is believed to be desirous of addressing some of the allegations in confidence because he is not keen on speaking publicly “so as not to heat up the polity”.
It was also gathered that the ex-President’s camp noted that some of the N31billion cash was sourced from “security votes and budget for Special Services”.
“Jonathan will prefer a private audience with the President rather than taking up issues with the suspects in public. Some of the expenditures have grave security implications as they involve some neighbouring countries,” a source said, adding:
“As a statesman, Jonathan cannot just open up at all. For example, there is a unit where the overhead of past Presidents and Heads of State was taken care of. Some of the funds disbursed by the office had to do with these funds. If Jonathan speaks, will he not rubbish these past leaders?
“Some Presidents from some countries sought financial assistance from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. Do you expect the former leader to issue a statement on such a sensitive request?”
The source spoke of how Nigeria bought vehicles and some equipment for some countries from the funds, adding that diplomatic etiquette does not allow such a disclosure.
“At a point, there was negotiation to end Boko Haram insurgency. This type of deal cannot be put in the public domain”, he said, pleading not to be named because he is not permitted to talk to the media.
Also yesterday, it was learnt that some of the suspects facing trial may opt to return looted funds and forfeit some assets in exchange for freedom or light sentences.
It was also learnt that some leaders of the North may prevail on President Buhari for soft-landing for some of the suspects.
About N31billion has been traced to more than nine suspects facing trial in Abuja courts.
Some of the suspects, according to sources close to the investigations, are already overwhelmed by the evidence against them and would prefer the plea bargain option.
The suspects are said to have volunteered to return the funds traced to them and their cronies through phoney companies.
They are also said to be considering the plea bargain option to save time and get lighter jail terms where conviction becomes necessary.
The names of the suspects seeking plea bargain were kept under wraps last night, but only a former Minister of State for Finance, Alhaji Bashir Yuguda, has indicated his willingness to recover N600million out of the over N1billion traced to him.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Despite the fact that most of the suspects pleaded not guilty, some of them have been considering plea bargain to get off the hook.
“Those affected have told the EFCC in confidence that they want to return looted funds and assets for outright state pardon or lighter jail terms.
“These few ones seeking plea bargain said they ought to regain freedom to retrieve funds where they are stashed.
“In fact, one of the suspects said having admitted that he had slush funds, there was nothing to prove in court again.”
Last night, counsel to one of the key suspects said: “I think there is a plea bargain offer by some suspects. Some lawyers appearing in the cases have been meeting to enable the nation to get some of these funds back.
“These suspects would, however, prefer to return funds and assets to the EFCC for outright pardon.
“As I am talking to you, we have not reached any conclusion on the terms of plea bargain to be presented to the EFCC, which is prosecuting all the suspects.”
Some elders, led by a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation are said to be pushing for soft landing for some of those on trial.
The elders are said to be worried that most of the suspects are from the North.
It was learnt that the elders had been under pressure to save these key Northern figures on trial.
But some of the elders, who are unsure of President Buhari’s reaction, were said to have met with presidential confidants.
There were plans last night for the elders to have an audience with the President.
Another source said: “These elders want a plea bargain alternative, which will lead to the surrendering of all looted funds by the suspects.
“Thereafter, an amicable political solution will be reached to allow the suspects to go home and sin no more. Alternatively, those with bad cases can serve lighter jail terms.”
A former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, says the highhandedness of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government will make Nigerians beg the Peoples Democratic Party to return in 2019.
Fani-Kayode was reacting to the clash between the Nigerian Army and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria whose members allegedly attacked the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Saturday.
The Nigerian Army confirmed on Monday that about seven members of the Shiite sect were shot dead while 10 other members of the group were wounded in its bid to ward off an alleged attack by the group on Buratai.
The army said the shooting by the troops accompanying the COAS’ convoy was “in line with the rules of engagement” to save the life of the COAS from ‘heavily armed’ members of the Sheik Ibrahim El- Zakzaky-led Shiite sect.
But Fani-Kayode, in a series of tweets on his official Twitter handle on Tuesday slammed the army for allegedly shooting innocent citizens.
He said, “They are soft on Boko Haram while they kill Shiite, Christians and Biafran protesters. They defy court orders and mock the judges. They abuse power and defy the word of God. Shame to all those that have joined this government!
“By the time it’s over, Nigerians will beg the PDP to come back. Like the proverbial frog that is being slowly boiled in water but that does not even feel it, our people are being taken for a ride by President Buhari.”
The former minister also condemned what he called disrespect for court orders by the Federal Government.
He added, “Trial by the media does not often lead to a conviction by the court of law. Meanwhile, as this obscene show of labelling everyone but himself a crook and feeding the innocents to the lions, Buhari is ruining the economy.”
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said all youths in the country are not entitled to the N5, 000 monthly stipend promised by the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government.
The minister also said the Federal Government intends to convert most of the unemployed graduates to teachers in a bid to tackle graduate unemployment.
Ngige explained that contrary to the widely-held belief that the N5,000 was meant for all youths, only the vulnerable ones amongst them would benefit.
Ngige spoke at an event held to mark the 5th anniversary of Bina Foundation and graduation ceremony of its students in Enugu.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment donated equipment worth N10m to the graduands.
Commending the Foundation for uplifting the less privileged in the society, the minister went ahead to shed more light on the payment of the N5,000 monthly stipend, which is expected to commence in 2016.
He said, “The APC government anchored delivery on three pillars; security of lives and property, improving economy under which employment creation is the third sub-head, and infrastructure revival.
“You can see that employment creation is the main issue. We have heard people say we are waiting for N5, 000. We did not say we are paying N5,000 to all the youth. We are saying it is for the most vulnerable.”
Giving further insight to how the government intends to tackle unemployment, Ngige said that the Federal Government had budgeted N500bn for social safety needs in the coming year.
“Most unemployed graduates would be converted to teachers. The move is equally aimed at boosting the education sector,” he said.
Ngige noted that majority of the current crop of teachers in public schools were half-baked.
In the same vein, the minister, who said the era of white-collar jobs was gone, added that the government would pay serious attention to skill acquisition.
Ngige said, “For the social safety needs, we have budgeted N500bn for the next fiscal year.
“We have captured unemployed graduates. We are doing two things; we get those who read Law, Engineering and other disciplines but do not have jobs. We would train them for nine months and convert them to teachers.
“Most of our schools have half-baked teachers. We want to redefine our schools and make them what they are.
“We are also building skill acquisition centres. We have 12 of them across the country. The era of white-collar industry is gone.
“Nobody in Nigeria will be unemployed, people will learn how to use their hands.”
He also disclosed that the Federal Government would fight poverty in 2016, by giving aid to people with special needs while children will get their own through the school feeding programme.
On assumption into office, President Muhammadu Buhari kept faith with his electoral promise of fighting corruption by instituting a committee to investigate how security funds appropriated for the fight against terrorism was managed under his immediate predecessor administration.
However, even before Mr. President embarked on this fight against corruption via how the funds meant to wage war against terrorism was spent by the previous administration, one thing stood out like a sore thumb, and that was the fact that the Goodluck Jonathan administration was very insincere, unpatriotic and political in the war against terrorism. Why do I say so?
The reason is not far fetched. Reason being that, we were all shell shocked at the seeming incompetence and unpreparedness of our once revered military institution, which had always shone like a million stars on international assignments and even won laurels, to confront and defeat a rag tag bunch of miscreants. Infact, Nigerians were thoroughly disappointed and alarmed by how the Nigerian military personnel were fleeing the battle ground when confronted by a bunch of poorly trained gangsters, called boko haram.
Things got to a despicable level when the Nigerian troops on war duty resorted to desertion and even mutiny against their commanding officer. Infact, this indiscipline and disrespect for constituted authority by the soldiers, led to the court martialing of a lot of soldiers who complained of being poorly armed by the authorities and thus, were sent on a suicide mission. To cut the long story short, almost a whole battalion or more, were facing court martial for mutiny which exposed the fact, that there was something fundamentally wrong with the military and the way and manner, the Nigerian government was prosecuting the war.
We should also not forget that along the line and in the midst of this abnormally, the Nigerian government and the military authorities kept churning out lies, propaganda and half truths about how they were winning the war which was in sharp contrast with reality.
One also recollects, how at a point in the course of the prosecution of the war against boko haram, the governor of Borno state, ran to Abuja and raised alarm, that the terrorists were gaining the upper hand because they were armed with superior and sophisticated weapons than the Nigerian military. He was called names by the Presidential spokesperson and President Jonathan, personally threatened to withdraw Nigerian troops from Borno state in order to teach this loud mouth governor, a lesson that, you don’t speak the truth when you know its the truth.
One also want to refresh our memory with how the then previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan embarrassed Nigeria internationally by ferrying raw cash in dollars in the private jet of a cleric (Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor) into South Africa in violations of the laws of Nigeria and South Africa by not disclosing the cash in their possession and claiming that the money was meant to buy arms, but which was eventually confiscated by the South African authorities.
A stamp of confirmation of the insincerity, corruption soaked and politicization of the war against terrorism by the ex President Goodluck Jonathan administration was sealed when the ex minister of defence and ex chief of army staff, Alex Badeh and Kenneth Minimah, at their passing out parade, respectively, lamented the poor morale and funding of the military under their command. Thus, the chicken finally came home to roost with this self indicting statements which exposed the fact that the whole war against terrorism had been purely hug wash as suspected by discerning and patriotic Nigerians.
Thus, after the committee on the probe into the war against terrorism submitted its report which indicted the office of the National Security Adviser for abuse of public trust with regards to diversion of security funds meant to prosecute the war against terrorism, Mr. President ordered the arrest and prosecution of all the parties involved in the violation of the laws by the appropriate state agencies.
Then, entered into our political lexicon, what is known today as Dasuki armsgate and what followed is the arrest, revelations and confessions of how the funds meant for prosecuting the war against terrorism which had claimed thousands of lives of both military personnel and civilians, destroyed properties worth billions of naira, displaced millions and assaulted our psyche as a people, was diverted and shared by the office of the National Security Adviser to cronies of the then government, in his own words, according to the authorization of ex President Goodluck Jonathan.
As the revelations continue to pour in, about how public trust was abused and national security imperiled by the criminality which went on in the office of the ex NSA, Sambo Dasuki, it is important to state issues in proper perspectives.
No matter the puerile, ridiculous and assault on our sensibilities defence being put up by agents of darkness and corruption to justify and rub salt into our injury by affirming that the office of the NSA paid people for job done, such as party primaries mobilization fees, consultancy, political party committee members, publicity of a political party candidate, campaigns, spiritual exercise, etc. This line of defence, makes you want to question the mental state of such persons or groups, except perhaps, they are being mischievous.
However, it is important to state very clearly and in unequivocal terms that the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is purely an advisory office to Mr. President, no more, no less. It is unconstitutional, illegal, criminal and an assault on the democratic rights of the citizens for such an office to be transformed into what it was not set up to do. Which informed the reason why Nigerians shouted down and condemned Col. Sambo Dasuki when he went to London on January 22, 2015 to fly the kite for the postponememt of the 2015 general elections, which he eventually achieved in conspiracy with the service chiefs by arms twisting and forcing INEC to accede at gun point.
The ministry of defence is the institution statutorily empowered by law to handle security matters ranging from procurement of arms and ammunition to recruitment and training of personnel of the military, any other agency or institution doing that, is only embarking on illegality. So one wonders, what to make of this usurpation of the responsibility of the ministry of defence by the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), if its not to commit criminality as exposed?
As the President Muhammadu Buhari administration embarks on prosecuting this infraction of the laws with impunity by the indicted persons, it is important to admonish the government to ensure that it remains focused in keeping to its constitutional oath and doing justice to the memory of those whose lives were cut short, limbs maimed, property destroyed, internally displaced and psychologically traumatized by the criminality of those who sacrificed the blood of their fellow country men and women for pecuniary gains.
We must request that after arraigning the suspects for money laundering, stealing and other related offences, it is equally important to demand that the Nigerian government, also prosecute them for manslaughter of those who lost their lives as a result of their action of making money at the expense of human lives and national security.
Niger Delta ex-agitators, under the aegis of Presidential Amnesty Phase II, on Monday threatened war over the Federal Government’s alleged plan to slash the 2016 budget for the Presidential Amnesty Office.
They argued that the proposed N20bn for the initiative was unacceptable to them.
The ex-militants comprises those in the 6166 Presidential Amnesty Phase II, 3142 and 20192 Ex-militants Phase III and Phase I.
While the protesters said the amount could not cater for their monthly stipends, they urged the Federal Government to respect the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with them.
The ex-militants in a peaceful protest around major streets of Warri, Delta State, on Monday carried placards with inscriptions such as “Senate President, beg President to leave the amnesty budget alone;” “We say no to the plan to reduce the amnesty budget;” “Buhari, please don’t force us to go back to the creeks;” “Saraki, leave our budget alone;” “Ex-militants reject the 2016 amnesty budget;” and the amnesty budget should increase and not reduce.”
Speaking to journalists in Warri, the National Chairman of the 6166 Presidential Amnesty Phase II, Gen. Aso Tambo, accused the Federal Government of allegedly reducing their monthly stipend in the budget to N20bn as against the N68bn budgeted for the office last year.
He said, “Our problem is that we have been receiving budget of this programme from October 4, 2009 till today and our budget used to be N86bn. Last year it was N68bn. But this year, we were reliably informed that the 2016 budget for the programme is N20bn.
“If they are giving presidential amnesty programme a budget of N20bn, we don’t know what the Federal Government wants to use the money for because N24bn is what they use in paying the N65,000 monthly stipend of the 30,000 ex-militants. So, if you are giving a budget of N20bn, we don’t know what they want to use the money for. Is it for our stipend or is it to push us to the creeks to go and fight a war? Or they want to use the money to buy arms for us to go and fight Boko Haram?
“That is why we decided to stage a peaceful protest. We want to use this medium to tell the Federal Government that they should reverse the budget. We know what amnesty stipend is. Amnesty stipend is N65,000. When you multiply that by 30,000 it will amount to about N1.9bn monthly. So if you put it together in 12 months you will arrive at about N24bn and above. So we don’t know why the Federal Government has approved N20bn.”
Tambo noted that the alleged slash in their monthly stipends had reached “a provocative climax.”
The ex-agitators warned the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to leave the Amnesty Programme alone if it wants to sustain the peace initiated by the late President Yar’Adua in 2009.
Prince Abubakar Audu was born 1947 to the late Pa Audu Oyidi, Orego Atta of Igala land and the paramount ruler of Ogbonicha-Alloma in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State. He was the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 21, 2015 Kogi State election.
He served twice the governor of Kogi State. His first tenure was from January 1992 to November 1993. He came back for the second time from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2003.
He started his education at the then N.A. Junior Primary School, Alloma, and later N.A Senior School Ankpa. He later proceeded to Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha and later to the Jos Commercial College where he sat for General Certificate of Education Ordinary and Advanced level.
The former governor proceeded to London from 1975-1978, where he studied banking, personnel management and other professional courses. He was a Fellow of the Association of International Accountants of London and the Chartered Institute of Industrial Administration of Nigeria.
His banking career lasted for a total of 25 years, which he spent with First Bank and Standard Bank. He served in various management capacities until 1991. In 1991, he was appointed Executive Director of FSB International Bank PLC.
Audu ventured into public service in 1986, when he was appointed Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in the old Benue State. He served in this capacity until 1988 when the cabinet was dissolved and returned to Fist Bank of Nigeria PLC as a General Manager.
When Kogi State was created in 1991, he participated in the unfolding political development. He contested on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC) for the governor of the state and won the election in 1991. He was subsequently sworn in as the first governor the state in January 1992.
In 1998, he came back under the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) was elected. He was sworn in on 29 May 1999 as the second executive governor of the State.
His socio-economic contribution to the state has remained a reference point to the generality of the people. Some of his major achievements during his brief first term of office include the establishment of three different housing schemes for public officers consisting of over 1,500 housing units in Lokoja. The transformation of Lokoja township with asphalt roads, street lights, aesthetic roundabouts, the construction of inter-township and rural roads are recorded as laudable achievement.
He provided over 75 electrification schemes and 50 water projects to rural communities.
His administration built an ultra modern stadium and a five-star hotel in Lokoja.
He also wooed prospective investors and harnessed the numerous solid mineral potentials in the state. He established Obajana Cement Factory.
The establishment of a state university, Kogi State University Anyigba, is another testimony to his vision and resourcefulness. The foundation stone was laid on November 30, 1999, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited the state.
The Kogi State Polytechnic was equally established to support his education programme. He established a television station, radio stations, newspaper and he transformed the colonial residence of Lord Lugard into an ultra modern Government House Complex.
Other landmarks by the late governor include: 250 units Housing Estate, a Sport Complex, a Specialist Eye Hospital and 25 other medical Institutions. Others are: a Special Government Girls Secondary School on student exchange programme, 350 borehole schemes, 300 kilometers of township roads, the procurement of 100 transit buses and completion of 40 rural electrification projects.
He contested the 2003 Kogi State governorship elections but lost. His loss was attributed to electoral rigging and other forms of manipulations.
In 2007, he went to the polls and was again defeated by massive electoral fraud committed by the then incumbent for Governor Ibrahim Idris.
He went to the Election Tribunal which nullified that election, and ordered fresh election. Again, Audu contested against Ibrahim Idris and was defeated.
In 2012, Audu again contested against Captain Idris Wada and was defeated.