Killings: Senate Delegation Commiserates With Plateau Govt, People

A Senate delegation led by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday paid a condolence visit to Plateau State over the latest killings.

The delegation is also in the state for an on-the-spot assessment of situation of the state, according to the Twitter handle of the Senate President.

Speaking during the visit, Saraki conveyed the sympathy of the National Assembly, “on this unfortunate sad incident that occurred here in Plateau State”

“This is something that is very sad. This is not only a loss to Plateau, but also a loss to the entire country. Words cannot describe how the affected families are feeling with this kind of loss.”

 

See video of Saraki speaking in Plateau state:

The Senate President

@SPNigeria

VIDEO: “On behalf of the National Assembly, we convey our deepest sympathy on this unfortunate sad incident that occurred here in Plateau State” – Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki

NASS To Visit Plateau Over Killings – Dogara

The National Assembly said it was planning to pay a condolence visit to Plateau State.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said this in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he and the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.

Dogara did not give the details of the meeting, however.

Persons suspected to be Fulani herdsmen had sacked 11 villages in Plateau State over the weekend, with death toll put officially at 86 by security agents.

 

He said, “We met with the President to, first of all, commiserate with him and get a briefing from him.

“As part of the briefing, he explained how steps were being taken to forestall reoccurrence and restore sanity, because this is a great concern to him and to us also.

“We will see what can be done with NEMA and security agencies. We will all work towards it. Nobody is happy with it and we will all come together to ensure that we restore sanity.

“We commiserate with all families. It is our own intention to also go and pay our own condolence visit to the people of Plateau.”

Dogara advised Nigerians to learn how to live in peace, saying it is the only way communities can be secure.

“My advice to our people — not just Plateau State, Benue, Zamfara, Taraba — virtually all communities faced with this situation, especially in the North, I think the issue of securing our communities, living in peace must be taken as a project.

“It is something each and every one of us must invest in, whether as traditional rulers, as community leaders, councillors, chairmen, all strata of society must invest in peace building.

“That is the only way we can live in a secure community and ensure that we progress as a country,” he said.

Saraki also said that the President briefed them on the steps being taken to restore peace to troubled spots.

“Our general appeal at the end of the day is that we all live together in peace and harmony and we will continue to do our best to see that this kind of thing does not happen again,” Saraki said.

Plateau Killings: Saraki, Dogara Meet Buhari

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have met with President Muhammadu Buhari over the killings in Plateau State.

Both leaders of the National Assembly arrived at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

Discussions at the meeting focused on ways in which the Legislature and the Executive can work together to resolve the security issues in the country.

The two leaders of the National Assembly also received a briefing from the President on the steps being taken to tackle the crisis.

The Presidency also confirmed the meeting in a tweet.

Presidency Nigeria

@NGRPresident

President @MBuhari met with Senate President @bukolasaraki and Speaker House of Reps @YakubDogara this morning at the State House, on the Security situation in Plateau State.@AsoRock & @nassnigeria working together to end the killings,restore peace and ensure justice

Plateau Killings Shows Nigeria Isn’t Safe – Saraki

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to direct his security chiefs to immediately produce quick-response measures aimed at tackling the spate of killings in Nigeria.

Saraki, while responding to the killings in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area in which scores of people were murdered in attacks on some villages, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja on Sunday night.

He stated that it was important for Nigerians to start having the assurances that the government was “decisively responding to the current threat to lives and properties in parts of the country.”

Saraki said, “I am very sad to hear the news of the incident in Plateau State. This is very depressing and giving the impression that the country is not safe. The problem of Boko Haram in the North-East is well known to everybody, but this killing by unknown band of assailants in Benue, Taraba, Plateau and Kaduna states is now giving another dimension to the crisis.

“Coming at the time we are getting ready for elections, we need to respond fast. If the plan is to develop some long-term measures, we also request that the President should mandate the security chiefs to put forward an immediate short-term and quick-response measure which will restore confidence in the system and demonstrate to the criminals behind these killings the capacity of government to tackle the issue.

“We have to immediately device a plan through which the criminals behind the killings and their sponsors can be nabbed and made to face the wrath of the law. We have to also develop plans to mop up illegal fire arms in the hands of dangerous elements while also stopping the influx of these arms into the country.”

Buhari Battles Saraki In Offa Pool Of Blood By Tunde Odesola

(Published In THE PUNCH Newspapers of Monday 25th June, 2018)

 

A thin white smoke swirled through the muzzle of the gun and the pregnant woman crashed face down, curling up like a beheaded giant millipede. One of the masked killers rushed into the banking hall and commotion preceded the ensuing graveyard silence as spines shivered, teeth gnashed, hearts skipped, sweat broke out on terrified faces tucked in trashcans and drawers…, the maniacal robber pulled the trigger and the automatic rifle began to sing another round of staccato dirge in Offa. Welcome to Kwara State, the land of blood.

 

Offa is an Ibolo-speaking Yoruba town of Kwara State steeped in the art of wrestling. If Ede had the great archer, Timi Agbale Olofa Ina, as its progenitor, Offa’s illustrious cognomen also affirms the proud archery exploits of its forefather, Olalomi Olofa gan-gan. It equally highlights the combative nature of its people in these words, ‘Ijakadi loro Offa,’ meaning – ‘wrestling is Offa’s tradition’. Were Olalomi a white man, his surname would have been Archer. Were Offa an English town, Arrow would’ve been its name. Offa is a Yoruba word for archery. That was the Ofa of 1000 AD.

Today’s Offa is an adulteration, its spelling, O-f-f-a, is corrupt and very wrong. Linguistically, the existence of two consonants in succession i.e ‘ff’ or ‘tt’ or ‘dd’ or ‘rr’ in some words is an aberration to Yoruba morphology. Thus, Offa, Ebute Metta, Iddo, garri, etc, are modern-day wrong influences in the Yoruba Language. The correct and orthographic spelling of the land of peacocks in Kwara State is ‘Ofa’ and not Offa.

Similarly, the railway terminus on sand-filled Lagos Island is at ‘Ido’ and not Iddo. Ebute Meta is the place of three shores linking mainland Lagos to the three main islands of Victoria, Ikoyi and Lagos – hence the name Ebute Meta, and not Ebute Metta. Yoruba’s staple food, gari, doesn’t need another letter ‘r’ on its journey to the stomach. Ewedu, gbegiri, eja, bokoto, ponmo, panla and saki would make good enough company. So, it’s not only rain and electricity that cannot exist simultaneously in Nigeria, double consonants such as ‘ff’, ‘tt’, ‘dd’ and ‘rr’ cannot exist simultaneously in the Yoruba Language, too.

Corruption, violence and impunity shouldn’t coexist in Nigerian politics. The unexampled Ofa bank robbery, which witnessed the killing of over 40 innocent Nigerians in broad daylight, was a spinoff of years of rudderless, corrupt and insensitive leadership in the country. I’ve read a thousand and one stories and reactions on the early morning madness in Ofa and grief enveloped my heart over the soullessness of our politics. In a country with a soul, a national mourning would have followed.

 

On October 1, last year, a 64-year-old American, Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, killing 59 people in a crowd attending a country music festival. There was an instant national mourning and the attention of America shifted to the scene for several weeks to come. A blow-by-blow account of how Paddock hatched his killing was televised live daily. The police gave an accurate figure of the dead and the injured 515 persons in the most fatal mass killing in the history of the US. According to media reports, one of the Ofa suspects confessed that he killed over 20 victims. Another suspect said he killed nine, while a number of others confessed to killing over 15 people. How all these add up to 30 in the arithmetic of the police is inexplicable. While, the spurting blood of innocent lives meandered from Ofa to Abuja crying for justice, our leaders dip their paintbrushes in the blood, writing “Vote for me in 2019!”

Were Nigeria a sane country, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, wouldn’t have twice failed to parade Kayode, the arrested son of Chief Ayo Opadokun, an Afenifere chieftain, along with other suspects. Also, Idris wouldn’t have failed to parade the arrested armourer and gang leader, Michael Adikwu, a dismissed policeman, whose confessions had allegedly been embarrassing to the force.

It’s not enough for the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Aminu Saleh, to say that many people died in the robbery because of “intelligence breakdown”; Nigerians reserve the right to know the nature of the intelligence breakdown because effective policing in this age is neither achieved by alienating the public nor by churning out half-truths and falsehood. In a report published by The Punch on April 28, 2018, Saleh, who said the police had no foreknowledge of the attack, contradictorily added, “We had little information on the attack before it happened.” He woefully failed to disclose what the police did with the little information they got.

The shoddy police investigation into the robbery has left many questions unanswered. The questions include what the Ofa police did when it received ‘little’ information that some suspicious people were lodging at the Xontex Hotel along Igosun Road, Ofa, a night before the bloodletting. In a sane clime, police authorities would’ve made public the amount of money collected by the policemen, who stormed the hotel on investigation, the night before the genocide. As if those who died only went to the market and would return shortly, the police commissioner said, “What essentially went wrong is our response capacity. We’re going to correct all those anomalies and get our men to be more responsive.” In an ultimate verdict that exposes government’s utmost irresponsibility, Saleh said, “It’s true that we have a deficit of APCs in the state!”

But it’s by conducting a thorough investigation that the police will be seen as unbiased and not acting a nail-Saraki-at-all-cost plot. The trial shouldn’t be an extension of the power struggle between Buhari and Saraki for the Presidency in 2019.

In a sane country, Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Kwara State Governor, Ahmed Abdulfatah; his Chief of Staff, Abdulwahab Babatunde, would’ve resigned in ignominy for the fact that one of the leaders of the gang, Ayo Akinnibosun, openly established a connection between his group, Liberation Youths Movement in Kwara-South, and them. Akinnibosun, who stated that Saraki, Abdulfatah and Babatunde had no hand in the robbery, however, maintained that his group got two guns from Babatunde. He stressed that they got emboldened to participate in the robbery because some of them were political thugs to Saraki.

Akinnibosun said, “We’ve been working for him (since) when we were in the PDP, it has been long – when he was Governor of Kwara State. Where we can’t win, we scatter the election, the connection between me and the Senate President is that he’s the one that’s arranging everything for us. For example, this car was given to me by His Excellency (Abdulfatah) through the Chief of Staff as a gift from the leader, (Saraki).”

If a five-point resolution of the Saraki-led Senate could hold President Muhammadu Buhari accountable for the actions of his (Buhari’s) appointees, the Senate President, Abdulfatah and Babatunde, by the same token, should be held responsible for the killings of the Ofa robbery if it is proved that the arms or the ammunition they allegedly provided were used in the killing.

It is easy for some people to see the trial of Saraki as political victimisation because it wasn’t their relatives that were killed on Thursday, April 5, 2018. If it would take Saraki’s trial and imprisonment to stop this type of killings, so be it. With the recent jailing of two-term ex-governors and members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Jolly Nyame (Taraba) and Joshua Dariye (Plateau), more members of the APC, including Abdulfatah and Babatunde, should be jailed appropriately if found guilty. Some argue that all notable politicians across the country maintain political thugs, and that Saraki and Abdulfatah shouldn’t be singled out. I ask, were Dariye and Nyame the only thieving ex-governors in Nigeria? Let’s begin from somewhere, please.

“The dead cannot cry out for justice. It’s the duty of the living to do so for them,” says American speculative writer, Lois Bujold. I agree with her, absolutely.

Tunde Odesola is a former Journalist with the PUNCH and writes from the United States. He can be reached on [email protected]

Senate President, Saraki to Address Russian Parliament

The President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki will be addressing the Russian Parliament during an exchange visit between June 19th and June 22, 2018.

Saraki who announced the visit on Thursday at plenary, told his colleagues that he would be addressing a special plenary session at the Russian Federal Council.

“This is to inform the distinguished Senate that i will be leading a delegation of the Senate to the Federal Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on an exchange visit from the 19th to the 22nd of June 2018.

“During the visit, i will address a special plenary of the Federation’s council,” Saraki said.

Speaking to our correspondent on the visit, Special Assistant to Saraki on Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Bamikole Omishore said that the visit is sequel to the meeting of Saraki with the Chairperson of the federal council Madam Valentina Matviyenko at the 2017 Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly (IPU).

“They exchanged ideas and she invited the Senate President to deliver a speech during a joint special session.

“The event will also have a wreath laying ceremony at tomb of unknown soldier and other meetings to strengthen parliamentary relationship between both Russia and Nigeria.

At the 2017 IPU, Saraki also began negotiations for a better trade relationship between Nigeria and Russia.

Omishore disclosed that Saraki will also make out time to support the Super Eagles during one of their games at the World Cup.

He listed those that would be accompanying Saraki on the trip to include: Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Majority Whip, Senator Adeyeye, Senator Danbaba, Senator Sunmonu and others.

Source NAN

National Assembly Draws Battle Line With President Buhari, Threaten Impeachment

The Senate and the House of Representatives sent warning signals to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, saying that he must halt ongoing killings in the country and stop using the police to intimidate political opponents.

They said if the trend continued, the National Assembly would invoke its constitutional powers.

Both chambers held a joint executive session, which lasted for over two hours before making 12 resolutions.

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, presided over the joint session.

The resolutions taken at the session were read out by Saraki after the closed-door session ended.

Although, the word impeachment was not mentioned in the resolutions, it was implied in the 12th resolution.

The National Assembly stated, “And if nothing is done, the National Assembly will not hesitate to invoke its powers against the Executive.”

A senior National Assembly official said the interpretation of the invocation of the federal lawmakers power against Buhari “is impeachment.”

He added, “It means impeachment. We have given the President ample opportunity to improve on security and all the issues listed in our resolutions.

“At the executive session, senators and members were on the same page on the position that if the President does not improve on his style and the security situation in the country in the weeks ahead, impeachment proceedings will become the option.”

The source, who explained what the National Assembly meant by invoking its power, said the lawmakers were giving the President two to three weeks to implement the resolutions.

BREAKING: SSS Partially Restores Saraki’s Security Detail

The State Security Service (SSS) on Tuesday partially returned some of its operatives who were withdrawn from the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

The secret police reportedly withdrew nearly two-thirds of personal security guards attached to Mr Saraki and the remaining three presiding officers at the National Assembly on Saturday.

Over a dozen officers were withdrawn from Mr Saraki’s detail alone. But five of them have now been restored, according to sources close to the Senate President.

Details of the development were still murky as at the time of this report.

It was not immediately clear whether the personnel withdrawn from Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun have been partially or fully restored alongside Mr Saraki’s.

Police Cancel Summon To Saraki; Demand Written Explanation

Senate President Bukola Saraki would no longer need to appear before the police for questioning, the top lawmaker said on Monday.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Saraki said he now has a formal communication from the police, but it was not for him to appear but rather to answer questions bordering on the robbery in Offa, Kwara State, in April.

“Following my earlier tweet, I have received the letter from . They are no longer asking me to appear at any station, but to respond in writing to the allegations within 48 hours — which I plan to do,” Mr Saraki said.

The announcement comes minutes after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met behind closed-doors with Mr Saraki and police chief, Ibrahim Idris, as well as the head of State Security Service, Lawal Daura, at the State House.

It also comes about four hours after Mr Saraki announced he was yet to get a police invite.

Earlier on Monday, the senate president said he dispatched his security detail to the Force Headquarters in Abuja to ask the police for an invite when none came.

The police say some of the suspects in the Offa robbery confessed to being sponsored by Mr Saraki.

PIB Will Curb Corruption In Petroleum Industry, Says Saraki

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will curb corruption in the Petroleum Industry.

The Senate President stated this on Monday during the PIB public hearing.

He said, “Our reform agenda is driven by the need to overhaul a system that has led to corruption being endemic in the petroleum industry.”

“For instance, billions of dollars have been lost through non-invocation of provisions in subsisting laws, at those times when crude oil price crosses certain thresholds.

”The Bill will fix this as well as remove difficulties and uncertainties surrounding our tax assessment and collection system.

On investment, the Senate President said that the bill will create more investment opportunities in the oil and gas sector.

He said the Senate will commence the process on the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill, which would reshape how we utilise the resources we earn from oil and gas, noting that the bill will create a framework that will free up acreages that are not being developed by current license and leaseholders, thereby creating opportunities for new investors.

“This will bring substantial new investment to our oil and gas industry.

“It will ensure effective management of the environment by petroleum operators and administrators.

“It provides a framework to unleash midstream activities which will open up the market for the supply of gas and other downstream products, for economic growth.

“I believe the most important feature of this Bill is that it provides much needed legal backing for the deregulation of our downstream petroleum sector”.

The Senate President added that the objective of the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill is to transform the administration of the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the Nigerian petroleum industry.

 

Court Strikes Out Suit Against Senate President, NHIS

The National Industrial Court, Abuja, on Monday struck out a suit filed against the Senate President and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), for lack of jurisdiction.

The claimant, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, NHIS chapter, instituted the suit challenging the employment exercise carried out in 2013 and 2014 by NHIS.

The claimant had alleged that the employment was an exercise marked with irregularities and was not in conformity to laid down administrative procedures.

The judge, Sanusi Kado, in his ruling held that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter and accordingly struck it out.

Mr Kado said the claimant as an association lacked legal capacity to institute a suit against the defendants.

According to Mr Kado, the evidence before the court showed it was a faction of the association that was aggrieved by the employment exercise.

He said the decision to institute a suit challenging the exercise should have been brought by the aggrieved members of the association and not the association itself.

The defendants’ counsel, Osikhena-Boih Donald, said the staff whose employment was being challenged brought the association before a public hearing of House Committee on Health of National Assembly in 2017.

Mr Donald said investigations and findings from the hearing gave birth to a Senate Resolution that nullified the stepping down of the grade level of the NHIS staff.

The counsel alleged that it was in an effort not to comply with the resolution of the Senate that the association instituted the suit against the defendants.

The claimant joined the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, National Assembly and Minister of Health, as co- respondents in the suit.

(NAN)