Trump called on spy chiefs for help as Mueller probe began

international News, Politics, Power

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two months before special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in the spring of 2017, President Donald Trump picked up the phone and called the head of the largest U.S. intelligence agency. Trump told Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, that news stories alleging that Trump’s 2016 White House campaign had ties to Russia were false and the president asked whether Rogers could do anything to counter them.

Rogers and his deputy Richard Ledgett, who was present for the call, were taken aback.

Afterward, Ledgett wrote a memo about the conversation and Trump’s request. He and Rogers signed it and stashed it in a safe. Ledgett said it was the “most unusual thing he had experienced in 40 years of government service.”

Trump’s outreach to Rogers, who retired last year, and other top intelligence officials stands in sharp contrast to his public, combative stance toward his intelligence agencies. At the time of the call, Trump was just some 60 days into his presidency, but he already had managed to alienate large parts of the intelligence apparatus with comments denigrating the profession.

Since then, Trump only has dug in. He said at a news conference in Helsinki after his 2017 summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin that he gave weight to Putin’s denial that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, despite the firm conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that it had. “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia, Trump said. And earlier this year, Trump called national security assessments “naive,” tweeting “perhaps intelligence should go back to school.”

Yet in moments of concern as Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election got underway, Trump turned to his spy chiefs for help.

The phone call to Rogers on March 26, 2017, came only weeks after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had angered Trump by stepping aside from the investigation. James Comey, the FBI director who would be fired that May, had just told Congress that the FBI was not only investigating Russian meddling in the election, but also possible links or coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

The call to Rogers and others like it were uncovered by Mueller as he investigated possible obstruction. In his 448-page report released Thursday, Mueller concluded that while Trump attempted to seize control of the Russia investigation and bring it to a halt, the president was ultimately thwarted by those around him.

The special counsel said the evidence did not establish that Trump asked or directed intelligence officials to “stop or interfere with the FBI’s Russia investigation.” The requests to those officials, Mueller said, “were not interpreted by the officials who received them as directives to improperly interfere with the investigation.”

During the call to Rogers, the president “expressed frustration with the Russia investigation, saying that it made relations with the Russians difficult,” according to the report.

Trump said news stories linking him with Russia were not true and he asked Rogers “if he could do anything to refute the stories.” Even though Rogers signed the memo about the conversation and put it in a safe, he told investigators he did not think Trump was giving him an order.

Trump made a number of similar requests of other top intelligence officials.

On March 22, 2017, Trump asked then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats to stay behind after a meeting at the White House to ask if the men could “say publicly that no link existed between him and Russia,” the report said.

In two other instances, the president began meetings to discuss sensitive intelligence matters by stating he hoped a media statement could be issued saying there was no collusion with Russia.

After Trump repeatedly brought up the Russia investigation with his national intelligence director, “Coats said he finally told the President that Coats’s job was to provide intelligence and not get involved in investigations,” the report said.

Pompeo recalled that Trump regularly urged officials to get the word out that he had not done anything wrong related to Russia. But Pompeo, now secretary of state, said he had no recollection of being asked to stay behind after the March 22 meeting, according to the report.

https://www.newsbreakapp.com/n/0LfqeUcH?s=a99&pd=31667862

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APC Planning to Influence 2019 Elections with Military Operations – PDP

2019 Elections, APC, PDP, PMB, Politics


“Our investigation shows that part of the plot is to use the military operation as a subterfuge to unleash heavy security presence to intimidate, harass and instil fear in voters in PDP strongholds across the country and pave the way for the allocation of fictitious votes to President Buhari and the APC,” the spokesman of the opposition party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement on Saturday.

Tinubu and buhari


President Muhammadu Buhari, has been accused of planning to use a military operation code named ‘Operation Python Dance 3’ to influence the results of the February 14, 2019 presidential elections in Nigeria by the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Operation Python Dance designed as a military ‘show of strength‘ exercise by the Nigerian Army directed at silencing the growing influence of Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) and other criminal associations in the South East region of the country in the first and second versions of the operation took place in the region between 2017 and 2018.

Nigerian Army parades Armoured Tanks in the streets of Port Harcourt Rivers State

Announcing the launch of a third version on Friday, the military said the exercise would now be conducted nationwide and would commence from January 1, 2019 and last till February 28.

The presidential election is billed to take place on February 16.

The army said the military operation was needed to tackle already “observed upsurge” insecurity challenges anticipated before, during and after the 2019 general election.

But kicking against the timing of the exercise, the PDP alleged that Mr Buhari was plotting to use the planned nationwide military exercise to legitimise his administration’s alleged ploy of using the military to intimidate voters and rig next year’s presidential election.

“Our investigation shows that part of the plot is to use the military operation as a subterfuge to unleash heavy security presence to intimidate, harass and instil fear in voters in PDP strongholds across the country and pave the way for the allocation of fictitious votes to President Buhari and the APC,” the spokesman of the opposition party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement on Saturday.

“Further investigation revealed that agents of the Buhari Presidency are working in cohort with some compromised top officials of the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral Commission to use soldiers to provide cover for diversion of electoral materials, as well as aid APC agents in their plan to unleash violence and disrupt the electoral process in areas where the PDP is winning.

“In spanning the military operation to February 28, 2019, the Buhari Presidency betrayed its anticipation of public rejection or violence, which can only come when a result that does not reflect the actual wish of the people is announced,” he said.

Ologbondiyan, who is also the Director, Media and Publicity, PDP Presidential Campaign Organization, said Nigerians are eager for a new president, having lost confidence in Buhari, due to his alleged failures in governance.

“The PDP PCO, therefore, rejects this deliberate attempt by the Buhari Presidency to set our military on a collision course with Nigerians, bearing in mind the collateral damage that usually occurs whenever the civilian population clashes with military.

“Our nation is a democratic state and we are not in a state of emergency that requires the militarization of our electoral process.

“Our military, which is cherished by Nigerians, should, therefore, foreclose any attempt by the Buhari Presidency to use it to set our country on fire.”

Zimbabwe’s scaled-back Christmas celebrations

Africa, economy, Politics
Box of Christmas crackers

Most Zimbabweans have been unable to afford Christmas treats because of soaring inflation, writes the BBC’s Shingai Nyoka from the capital, Harare.

Two women with large trolleys had come prepared to stock up for the holiday season, but they looked at each other in dismay.

“What kind of a party are we going to have?” one asked the other.

They were staring at a notice taped to the supermarket fridge door which said: “2 units per customer”.

This was the drinks section of a shop in the centre of Harare, and the units referred to were the 300 millilitre bottles of soft drinks and beer.

The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are usually a time for Zimbabweans to loosen their belts for feasts and celebrations.

Notice saying "2 units per customer
The rationing of drinks has affected people’s ability to hold parties

During the break the whole country shuts down. Factories close for the month, and the rains herald the start of the agricultural season.

Many Zimbabweans travel to their rural homes to see their extended family and to plant maize, to provide a year-long supply of the staple food.

On Christmas Day most people attend church, while throughout the season family gatherings are at the centre of the holidays.

Avoiding Christmas trimmings

This year, however, things are different, and belt-tightening is the order of the day.

The country is in the middle of an economic crisis.

People queuing outside a bank
At times, there have been long bank queues of people hoping to get hold of much-needed cash

According to the latest inflation figures, prices rose overall by 30% in the last year and each month that figure seems to be going up.

Supermarket shelves may be abundant with goodies but shoppers’ trolleys are uncharacteristically sparse as they face the consequences of rising prices.

The chicken that just over a year ago cost $3.50 (£2.76) is now priced at $7.19, while the price of 400g of muesli has risen from $5 to $12 and a pack of nine rolls of toilet paper has gone up from $8 to $19.

Salaries, however, have not kept up with inflation. In fact, the average wage of $300 a month is the same as it was a year ago.

A man wearing a hat decorated with worthless note bearers' cheques during a protest against government plans to introduce bond notes
Zimbabweans have held a series of protests to show their money has become worthless

Given that, the trimmings that can give a meal an extra sparkle might be avoided.

For example, an ordinary pack of 12 Christmas crackers with a joke, a hat and a small gift is selling at $40, compared to less than $15 last year.

Parties cancelled

It explains perhaps why some party invitations have been withdrawn and planned celebrations have been scaled back.

One businessman told me that he had to cancel his usual holiday party and turn it into a more abstemious lunch, thereby removing the burden of having to buy lots of drinks.

Back at the supermarket, a man was standing in an aisle next to shelves of rice, carefully comparing prices and products.

His eye rested on an unfamiliar product, Broken Rice.

Bags of broken rice
Image captionBroken Rice is made up of pieces of rejected rice

The 2kg package was priced $4.69 and was the cheapest brand available.

“Broken” is a euphemism for tiny imperfect pieces of rejected rice.

It had been packaged in time for the festive season, where no meal is complete without chicken and rice, an imported luxury.

‘More suffering in post-Mugabe era’

In a way the broken rice is a metaphor for the season, which feels imperfect.

“I started seeing it in the shops about a month ago,” the man, who introduced himself as Shupi, told me.

“We are used to having rice at Christmas. It is supposed to be a treat but it has become so expensive.

“Initially, people had shunned this rice because it is in small pieces and in different sizes. Some complain it doesn’t cook evenly, but at least it is affordable.”

A protester with a fuel container, due to the continuing fuel crisis,as Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance party members gather in the Africa Unity Square, in Harare, Zimbabwe, 29 November 2018, to protest against the current economic situation facing the country.
Discontent with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is growing

Many, like Shupi, remember the promises made when President Emmerson Mnangagwa swept to power in November 2017 after Robert Mugabe was ousted.

“He promised us better years ahead and blamed our suffering on years of being under Robert Mugabe.

“But he has been in power for more than a year and the crisis has gotten worse,” Shupi added.

Runaway inflation

Zimbabweans have endured much over the last decade.

Ten years ago, supermarket shelves were mostly empty and record-breaking inflation was estimated to have topped 79 billion %.

It meant that prices for basic commodities would double or triple in a day, and bank balances for ordinary people could range from trillions of Zimbabwean dollars to octillions, that is a one followed by 48 zeros.

In 2009 the government scrapped the local currency and adopted the US dollar.

Emmerson Mnangagwa delivers a speech during a "Thank You" rally on November 24, 2018, in Murombedzi, Zvimba, Mashonaland West, Zimbabwe
President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power in November 2017
with a promise to improve the economy

Then, in 2016, in order to get over a shortage of physical cash, the authorities introduced a surrogate note, known as a bond note, that was supposed to have the same value as the US dollar.

In other words, a two-dollar bond note was supposed to be worth $2.

But the bond notes, or “bollars”, have lost value because of a lack of foreign currency backing the note. They are now worth 30 US cents each on the black market.

Zimbabwean companies are not producing enough to satisfy local demand or to earn foreign currency by exporting goods. Instead, the country is importing more, and struggling to pay.

In the six months from February to July this year, the country brought in goods and services worth $3.43bn, a 26% rise for the same period in 2017.

Driving the imports are the demand for fuel, electricity, soya beans, rice and wheat.

Businesses that want to import goods have been forced to buy US dollars on the black market at a premium price. This in turn pushes up the prices in the shops.

In order to increase its stock of hard currency, the country’s largest fast food franchise, Simbisa Brands, announced last Thursday that it had introduced a two-tier pricing model, offering discounts to customers who pay in US dollar notes.

‘Give us your cash’

“We need something like $1.2m in hard currency every month, but on average we are only managing to get about $100,000, so we need the foreign currency to meet our obligations.

“We are simply asking our clients to be able to support to get the forex we need,” chief executive Warren Meares told local daily paper Newsday.

But not everyone is complaining.

Man loading goods into a minibus
Image captionPeople transporting goods across the border are doing a roaring trade

The Beitbridge border post which connects Zimbabwe to South Africa is the busiest in the region, and Christmas is the busiest period of them all.

Cars, pick-up trucks, lorries and buses are laden with groceries from South Africa ready to be delivered to Zimbabwean homes.

The cross-border traders known as Malayitshas – meaning “one who carries goods” in the Ndebele language – have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the crisis.

They offer a courier service for those with foreign currency. They buy goods – anything from soft drinks to building materials – across the border and deliver them for a fee of 30% of the value.

‘Austerity for prosperity’

In Musina, on the South African side of the border, business is picking up and small Indian and Chinese-owned shops are coming back to life.

Many had closed in 2009 when the economy began to improve, but they have recently reopened as the prices have spiked in Zimbabwe.

Solomon Chakauya, waits for customers in his grocery store, in Chinamhora district north-east of Zimbabwe's capital Harare on December 10, 2018.
Image captionMany shopkeepers say business has been bad this Christmas

Despite the Christmas woes Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has expressed confidence in the future of the economy.

He says it is “just a matter of time” before the country is “restored to its glory days”.

Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of southern Africa feeding its neighbours and providing economic refuge and jobs in times of crises.

The government has now introduced what it calls “austerity for prosperity” measures. These include lowering government expenditure while increasing duty on items such as cars to reduce imports.

The optimism is not shared by those whose Christmas meal will consist of reject rice and miniscule portions of chicken washed down with small amounts of drink.

Source: BBC News

Mexican Asylum Seekers into US Are to Be Returned Back for Asylum Proceedings

law enforcement, News, Politics, SEcurity

The U.S. has reached a deal with the Mexican government to force asylum seekers at its southern border to remain in Mexico while they wait to bring their case before an American immigration judge, a process that could take several months or even years, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced at a congressional hearing on Thursday.

The new policy, effective immediately, is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to curb what it insists are loopholes in the immigration system. Like many of its immigration policies, the plan was likely to face pushback in court.

Nielsen’s announcement before a House Judiciary Committee came as President Donald Trump remained locked in a bitter dispute with lawmakers over whether to shut down the government if he doesn’t get the money he wants to buy a border wall.

PHOTO: A mother migrating from Honduras holds her 1-year-old child after surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol agents for illegally crossing the border near McAllen, Texas, June 25, 2018.
A mother migrating from Honduras holds her 1-year-old child after surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol agents for illegally crossing the border near McAllen, Texas, June 25, 2018.more +

“We have a huge problem with asylum fraud,” Nielsen told the House panel. “We need to work together to combat that.”

Nielsen’s testimony encountered immediate pushback from congressional Democrats who called the plan a misguided attempt to demonize immigrants.

“Is it as (though) you can’t see the realities of modern immigration or the contributions of anyone who came from countries other than Norway or other parts of Europe,” said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Illinois. “It’s as though you and others in the administration are blind.”

At issue is how the United States decides who should be granted asylum, a right granted to migrants by U.S. and international law. According to the Homeland Security Department, border officials have seen a surge in migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and that the vast majority are granted entrance into the United States after passing a “credible fear” interview.

DHS said in a statement Thursday that in nearly half of these cases in 2018, the person later failed to appear at a hearing or file an asylum claim, indicating that the person likely opted to remain illegally inside the U.S. As a result, DHS says, only 9 percent of people from those three countries are ultimately granted asylum.

John Cohen, a former acting under secretary at the Homeland Security Department and an ABC News contributor, noted that the law does allow for the federal government, through the attorney general, to deport someone to a “safe third country” pending an asylum claim, if there is bilateral agreement.

But, the law requires that the person’s “life or freedom” not be threatened, and that the person claiming asylum still have “full and fair” access to the U.S. immigration system. That means it’s likely the U.S. will have to devote resources to either bring people into the United States to see an immigration judge, or set up U.S. courts in Mexico — a highly unusual situation that presents legal complications, Cohen said.

“It’s highly probable this will be challenged in court,” Cohen said. “It’ll be up to the courts to determine whether processing someone in Mexico is consistent with the law or not.”

PHOTO: Central American migrants taking part in a caravan heading to the US, line up to borrow a sleeping pad, after arriving at a temporary shelter, set up in a stadium in Mexico City, Nov. 5, 2018.
Central American migrants taking part in a caravan heading to the US, line up to borrow a sleeping pad, after arriving at a temporary shelter, set up in a stadium in Mexico City, Nov. 5, 2018.more +

Administration officials said they expect a dramatic drop in asylum claims if people are not allowed to enter the U.S. and are instead forced to wait in Mexico. Several Republicans on the House committee said they supported the move.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the plan “historic” and said that the Mexican government has promised to give the migrants humanitarian visas to stay on Mexican soil, as well as the ability to apply for work.

“We think that they (migrants seeking asylum) will now see that they can’t disappear inside the United States, and so they will remain in their home countries,” Pompeo told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

Mexico has previously refused to accept the return of migrants who aren’t Mexican citizens. But earlier this week, the U.S. signed a joint declaration with Mexico promising to invest $5.8 billion in southern Mexico and the three countries where most of the migrants were coming from — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The administration also promised a U.S.-Mexico business summit next year and a cabinet-level meeting in January.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department called the latest agreement to allow U.S. asylum seekers to remain in Mexico was a temporary, humanitarian measure)

Trump has been under political pressure from his supporters to take a hard line with immigration. While illegal crossings fell during his first year in office, they have returned to previous levels.

The president’s other executive actions aimed at curbing those crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border have faced setbacks in court. On Wednesday, a federal judge blocked a separate policy that restricts asylum claims of migrants fleeing domestic and gang-related violence. Another federal judge in California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against a Trump administration rule that made anyone who crosses the southern border outside a port of entry ineligible for asylum.

Trump has expressed frustration in recent days that he hasn’t been able to fulfill his promise to build a border wall.

“When I begrudgingly signed the Omnibus Bill, I was promised the Wall and Border Security by leadership,” Trump tweeted. “Would be done by end of year (NOW). It didn’t happen! We foolishly fight for Border Security for other countries – but not for our beloved U.S.A. Not good!”

ABC News reporters Conor Finnegan and Luke Barr contributed to this report.Sponsored Stories

Nigeria: Elections and Human Rights

2019 Elections, Politics, Power

Oge Onubogu 
USIP, Senior Program Officer,                    Africa Programs

Statement before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

I would like to thank the co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Congressman Hultgren and Congressman McGovern, for convening this briefing today on Nigeria. I appreciate the opportunity to present my views. I am a senior program officer at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), although the views expressed here are my own. USIP was established by Congress over 30 years ago as an independent, national institute to prevent and resolve violent conflicts abroad, in accordance with U.S. national interests and values.

It is a privilege to appear before you today, along with colleagues to discuss the risks, challenges, and opportunities around the upcoming elections in one of Africa’s most important countries.  

Nigeria’s keenly anticipated presidential and national assembly elections are scheduled for February 16, 2019, while the elections for state governors and state assemblies are scheduled for March 2, 2019. These elections come 20 years after the restoration of democratic, multiparty constitutional rule in Nigeria. The 2019 elections follow the country’s first-ever peaceful transition of power to an opposition candidate in 2015. Thus, the upcoming elections will test the resilience of Nigeria’s democratic institutions to successfully conduct two consecutive credible elections. While democratization is not a linear process, many Nigerians expect further progress in 2019, including a credible electoral process.

While Nigeria has made major strides in its democratic development, the struggle to control the widespread violence that plagues its communities is far from over. Nigeria’s democracy remains fragile and its elections remain vulnerable.

Nigeria’s political parties are now in full campaign mode ahead of next year’s elections. Unfortunately, signs are emerging that election-related violence is a real possibility. However, it is not too late for Nigerians and the international community to take steps to reduce the risks of election-related violence in 2019. The United States has actively encouraged Nigeria’s democratic progress in the past and should step up its attention on Nigeria’s 2019 elections.

To do this effectively, it is crucial that as much attention be paid to flashpoints at the state-level as to tensions surrounding the higher profile campaigns for the presidency. International and domestic observers reported incidents of voter intimidation by security forces and party agents during the re-run of the off-cycle gubernatorial election in Osun state in September. This illustrates the intensity of state elections and the associated risks. Elections next year in states that are considered higher profile than Osun are likely to be even more volatile.

The 2019 state-level elections will usher in leadership to some of the most populous and economically important states in Nigeria and Africa, including Lagos, Kano and Rivers, as well as in states that experience recurring intercommunal violence including Plateau, Kaduna and Benue.

The gubernatorial elections will take place in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states, just two weeks after the presidential elections. Seven other state elections are scheduled off-cycle for various reasons. In the 29 contests, incumbent governors are defending 19 seats. Of those, 12 are members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The other seven belong to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of opposition candidate and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Incumbent governors running for a second four-year term hold significant advantages because of their domination of state party structures, leverage over powerful patronage networks, and the ways they can manage to employ state funds to bolster their campaigns.  Incumbents in the remaining 10 of the 29 states, cannot run again because of term limits or because they lost out in their state party primaries, making elections in these states’ competitive open races.

State-level elections are important for democratic progress in Nigeria. State races often function as a proving ground for candidates aspiring to national office. Moreover, the country’s powerful state governors, allocate federally disbursed revenue, shape policy on development and security, and also oversee the state election commissions which manage local government elections across Nigeria’s 774 local government areas. A 2018 USIP study on the Nigeria elections noted the growing prominence of local government elections among Nigerians, who are increasingly viewing local elections as a testing ground for budding politicians – in order words, democracy at the grassroots.   

The USIP study which was conducted in 8 states (Kano, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Rivers, Ekiti, Lagos, Anambra) and in the federal capital territory, Abuja, found that many political and conflict conditions have changed since 2015. So, it is important that the nature of these changes—and the forces behind them—be considered in weighing whether election-related violence at the national or state-level is likely, and if so, how to prevent it or mitigate the consequences.

Among these changes are the shifting perceptions of narratives of security and insecurity in Nigeria.  The prominence of the pastoralist-farmer conflicts has shaped perceptions that large parts of the country are insecure. Clashes between farmers and herders over land and water have escalated and are particularly deadly in the northern states of Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Zamfara and Kaduna. Some of those states, including Benue and Plateau, fall within the politically influential region of North Central Nigeria. In the country’s Northeast, the military claims to have “technically defeated” Boko Haram, but the terrorist group continues to stage well-publicized attacks. Meanwhile, paramilitary forces, such as the civilian joint task force (CJTF), which were organized in response to the terrorist threat, now pose a danger themselves in places such as Borno State – the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency. So, the state-level contest to replace Borno’s term-limited Governor Kashim Shettima will be especially important.

Another significant change since 2015 are the proliferating divisions within the two largest political parties, the APC and the PDP. Particularly within the ruling APC, it continues to exhibit an inability to consolidate its internal party structure and effectively resolve internal rivalries. The recent October party primaries in the APC-led Zamfara state were marred by violence and the party leadership has been unable to address the internal grievances. Preparations for the Zamfara state elections in 2019 also continue to be controversial. Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declined to accept the APC’s gubernatorial candidate, stating that the party submitted his name too late.

As intraparty conflicts sharpen, rivalry between the APC and the PDP remain intense. This competition lies at the root of persistent violence, including around elections, in the Niger Delta’s leading oil producer, Rivers State. This state is considered a “political prize” for any party that can capture control of the jurisdiction. State-level elections in Rivers are often characterized by high levels of violence. According to the Fund for Peace, Rivers state experienced the most election violence incidents and fatalities of any Nigerian state during the 2015 elections. Political hostilities in Rivers have heightened since APC’s growing challenge to the PDP’s previous dominance in the 2015 elections. The personal rivalry between the former Governor and current transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi (APC), and the current state Governor, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike (PDP), continues to exacerbate divisions along party lines.

Despite the short amount of time before the elections and the potential for election violence in 2019, there are still opportunities for action.

First, clear plans for the prevention of election violence need to be in place now. These plans should be effectively communicated to citizens by the INEC and security agencies and should be sustained longer to contain post-election incidents.

For many Nigerians, the memories of election-related violence are still current because the Nigerian government has been unable to establish mechanisms to address electoral offenses. The recommendations from the 22-member presidential committee on the 2011 post-election violence – Nigeria’s bloodiest elections since the transition in 1999 in which human rights organizations estimated over 800 people were killed – have not been implemented.  

The National Human Rights Commission, which is a statutory body mandated to document human rights violations and initiate processes for prosecution, is a weak institution and has been relatively ineffective since 2015. A bill to a create a specialized electoral offenses commission with the authority to investigate, enforce, and prosecute electoral offenses is still pending in the National Assembly. It is unlikely that this bill will pass before the 2019 elections.

With less than three months to the elections, the U.S. and international community should prioritize engagements with their Nigeria counterparts on ways to effectively address and prosecute electoral offenses in the 2019 elections. In addition, Nigeria should hold itself to a higher standard when it comes to prosecuting electoral offenses. Proposing that a credibly elected government that emerges after the 2019 elections prioritize the passage and implementation of the bill to establish a specialized electoral offenses commission could be a good way to start.     

In the short term, Nigerian authorities should identify credible state-level and community leaders in advance who could provide leadership and advice—or even mediation—in the event of rising tensions. USIP’s Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance, a group of eminent civic leaders from diverse backgrounds, could be a source of support to the Nigerian authorities. Other community leaders with the skills and influence to prevent and defuse violence should be engaged as well.

The National Peace Committee, which played an important role in securing the peaceful transition of presidential power in 2015, should be reenergized. Given the current realities and possibilities of higher levels of violence during the gubernatorial elections, peace committees should also be created at the state-level.   

Some states already have institutions designed to reduce violence, such as the Plateau State Peacebuilding Agency, the Kaduna State Peacebuilding Commission, and the Adamawa State Peace Commission. These bodies are still getting their footing. USIP is working closely with them and with local community leaders and civil society representatives to address state-level violence before, during, and after the 2019 elections.  

Secondly, the U.S. and other international supporters of the electoral process in Nigeria should intensify their efforts to reinforce the work of key institutions that administer and support the electoral processes, most notably the INEC and the Nigerian Police.

INEC’s election management process has improved over the years, but challenges remain. The Commission has carried out many commendable reforms under its new Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. However, their good technical work may be of limited value if it is not widely known, understood, and trusted by the electorate or if voters feel that they will experience intimidation on election day.

Nigeria’s security agencies, particularly the police that is the lead agency on election security, should commit to better coordination with INEC and neutrality in the electoral process to positively influence voter confidence.

The U.S. government should support INEC and the Nigerian Police to ensure that the existing Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), which bring together INEC, the police, and other security agencies in a forum for election security planning at both the federal and state levels, serves as an effective coordinating mechanism. This coordination is especially important at the state-level to ensure a peaceful electoral process.

The INEC should also implement a more assertive and far-reaching public relations strategy to communicate with the voters, media, and political parties before, during, and after elections. The INEC should also have a transparent approach on the release of election results. A reinvigorated INEC strategy could go beyond generic voter information and civic education and be designed and differentiated for the realities of different regions, states, and elections in Nigeria.

Finally, Nigeria will be looked to in the region to fulfill its proper role as one of the best examples of democratic development in Africa. While there has been much improvement, Nigeria’s political leaders can and should do better.

The United States and international community, including the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), should intensify their pre-election diplomacy. All stakeholders with potential influence on Nigeria’s leaders can convey their expectation that Nigeria’s political parties act responsibly throughout campaigns, balloting and the post-election period. They can also convey to Nigerian leaders an expectation that political parties discipline their members, officials and their candidates if they violate standards of acceptable conduct.

The conduct of the 2015 elections raised citizen expectations for government performance. A credible electoral process in 2019 will strengthen Nigeria’s democratic development and enhance public confidence in its democratic institutions. A flawed election could result in a regression in democratic values in Nigeria and weaken the democratic progress that prevails in much of West Africa.

Despite its many challenges, Nigeria shows a commitment to democratic values. It is in the interest of the U.S and the international community to continue supporting Nigeria’s democratic development. Focusing efforts to reduce election-related violence in 2019, especially in the state gubernatorial elections, could be an important place to start.

The view expressed in this statement are those of the author and not the U.S. Institute of Peace

The Current Situation in Nigeria

2019 Elections, Africa, Nigeria, Politics, Power, SEcurity

A USIP Fact Sheet

President Buhari’s 2015 election saw the country’s first peaceful transfer of power to an opposition candidate. Elections raised hopes that some of Nigeria’s most pressing problems—including weak governance, corruption, the Boko Haram insurgency, and persistent intercommunal conflicts—could soon be under control. Despite President Buhari’s vision for reform, the country’s security challenges are surging as the factors that fuel violent conflicts remain largely unaddressed. 

USIP’S Work

USIP brings together state governors and civic leaders to design, foster, and implement inclusive policies that mitigate violence and strengthen community-oriented security. The Institute engages a variety of influential figures, empowers citizens, and uses its expertise and convening power to inform Nigeria policy in the U.S., the region, and around the world. Recent work includes:

Promoting Inclusive, Peaceful Societies.

Many of the factors driving conflict and the Boko Haram insurgency exist across Nigeria’s northern region. These include governance challenges, marginalization, and youth unemployment. Nigeria’s federal system gives governors great responsibilities to address these issues.

The Institute leverages the governors’ influence by working with them to focus policies on citizens’ needs and establish strategies that prevent and resolve violent conflict. In the process, USIP and the state governors build more inclusive processes and send the message that addressing violent extremism must be achieved cooperatively.

Through the Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance, the Institute adds public figures to the dialogue. The Working Group fosters relationships between citizens and governors—ensuring that a diversity of citizens’ voices impacts important decisions. The Working Group also demonstrates thought leadership through publications, research, editorials, and op-eds on state government roles in addressing conflict.

Strengthening Local Security.

USIP’s peacebuilding initiatives in Nigeria improve state-level institutions’ ability to manage local conflict by piloting dialogue-based approaches and providing recommendations and lessons learned to policymakers.

  • Network of Nigerian facilitators. USIP recruited and continues to provide technical and financial support to a cadre of facilitators to convene dialogues related to election security, transitioning to community-oriented policing, and manage communal disputes that pose a risk of violence.
  • Justice and Security Dialogue project. Modeled an approach for community policing through ongoing dialogues between police and the community, particularly youth.
  • State peacebuilding institutions. Bolstering the ability of state peacebuilding institutions in Plateau and Kaduna states to respond to local conflicts before they become violent.
  • Conducting research that translates into action. USIP’s Nigeria research improves understanding of violence’s risks and develops effective approaches to managing violent conflict.
  • Elections violence risk assessment. Together with several partners, USIP is conducting an elections violence risk assessment ahead of Nigeria’s 2019 elections to provide actionable and timely analysis that will help key figures work to prevent violence before, during, and after the elections.
  • Transitioning from military operations to civilian policing. The Institute conducted research on the transition to community-oriented policing following military-led security in northeast Nigeria. The research incorporated the perspectives and priorities of vigilante groups into recommendations for a more responsive security sector.
  • Researching resistance to violence. With USIP’s support, the Centre for Information Technology and Development examined the factors that make certain communities more resistant to the threat of violence in north-east Nigeria. The research showed that community resilience thrives when there is a robust community platform for active citizen participation and democratic decision-making. The absence of such a platform in many communities led to their quick and brutal destruction by Boko Haram.

Download full Report at: USIP

The Risk of Election Violence in Nigeria is Not Where You Think

2019 Elections, Africa, APC, Oil, PDP, PMB, Politics, Power, SEcurity

Containing violence at the state level will be key to a peaceful election

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 / BY: Oge Onubogu ; Idayat Hassan

Nigeria’s political parties are in full campaign mode ahead of national and state-level elections early next year, and unfortunately signs are emerging that election-related violence is a real possibility. It’s not too late, however, for Nigerians and the international community to take steps to reduce the risks of coercion and possibly even bloodshed. To do so effectively, it’s crucial that as much attention be paid to flashpoints at the state level as to tensions surrounding the higher profile campaign for president.

People gather and watch election coverage at a small market in Kano, northern Nigeria, March 31, 2015. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)
People gather and watch election coverage at a small market in Kano, northern Nigeria, March 31, 2015. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)

In Nigeria, All Politics is Local

September’s off-cycle election for governor in the southwestern state of Osun illustrates the intensity of state elections and the accompanying risks. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the initial results inconclusive because of technical problems and other disruptions, and the vote had to be redone. In the second round, U.S., European Union and U.K. observers reported that they found “incidents of interference and intimidation of voters, and heard reports of harassment of party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.” Social media posts showed photos of allegedly injured civilians. Higher profile state races in 2019 are likely to be even more volatile.

State-level elections are important for democratic development in Nigeria, which serves as a bellwether for stability in Africa as the continent’s most populous country and biggest oil-producing nation. State races often function as a proving ground for candidates aspiring to national office. Moreover, the country’s powerful state governors, who allocate federally disbursed revenue and shape policy on development and security, oversee the state election commissions that manage local government elections—the essence of grassroots democracy.

The 2019 state-level voting will usher in leadership to some of the most populous and economically important states in Nigeria, including Lagos, Kano and Rivers, as well as in states that experience recurring intercommunal violence including Plateau, Kaduna and Benue.

The electoral calendar will be crowded in the first quarter of 2019. Just two weeks after the general elections, balloting will take place on March 2 to select governors and state assemblies in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states (seven others are scheduled off-cycle for various reasons). In the 29 contests, incumbent governors are defending 19 seats. Of those, 12 are members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The other seven belong to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of opposition candidate and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Incumbent governors running for a second four-year term hold significant advantages because of their domination of state party structures, leverage over powerful patronage networks and the ways they can manage to employ state funds to bolster their campaigns.

In Lagos state, the APC incumbent lost in the October primary, and in the remaining nine of the 29 state contests (Borno, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Oyo, Yobe and Zamfara), the incumbents cannot run again because of term limits, making for competitive open races.

A Complex Risk Environment

In the 2015 state elections, voting generally proceeded smoothly across the country, according to the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD), a U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) partner organization in Nigeria. Even so, “significant incidences of shootings, protests, arson and fatalities were recorded in most geopolitical zones,” the CDD reported.

Three years later, conditions have changed. The nature of these changes—and the forces behind them—must be considered in weighing whether state-level election violence is likely, and if so, how to prevent it or mitigate the consequences.

The number of violent conflicts across the country and their toll have increased. Clashes between farmers and herders over land and water have escalated and are particularly deadly in the northern states of Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Zamfara and Kaduna. Some of those states, including Benue and Plateau, fall within the politically influential region of North Central Nigeria.

In the country’s Northeast, the military claims to have decimated Boko Haram, but the group continues to stage well-publicized attacks. Meanwhile, paramilitary forces organized in response to the terrorist threat now pose a danger themselves in places such as Borno state. So, the contest to replace Borno’s term-limited Governor Kashim Shettima will be especially important.

Another change since 2015 is proliferating fissures within the APC and the PDP. In Kano, northern Nigeria’s most populous state and long considered a harbinger of a party’s political prospects across that region, divisions are deep within the APC between supporters of incumbent Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and backers of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, formerly the state’s governor, and now member of the opposition PDP. Already, the party primaries in October in Zamfara were marred by violence. Preparations for that state’s elections in March continue to be controversial, as INEC has declined to accept the APC’s gubernatorial candidate, saying the party submitted his name too late.

As intraparty conflicts sharpen, rivalry between the APC and the PDP remains intense. That competition lies at the root of persistent violence, including around elections, in the Niger Delta’s leading oil producer, Rivers state—hostility heightened by the APC’s growing challenge to the PDP’s previous dominance in the lead-up to the 2015 vote. The Fund for Peace, another USIP partner in Nigeria, reports that “the personal rivalry between former Governor Rotimi Amaechi (APC) and current Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike (PDP)” exacerbates divisions along party lines. Rivers state is considered a political crown jewel for any party able to capture control of the jurisdiction.

How Election Violence can be Mitigated

So, what can be done? Nigeria must be held to a higher standard than in the past in order to fulfill its proper role as the best example of democratic development in Africa. While there has been much improvement in recent years, the country’s political leaders need to do better.

First, planning for prevention of election violence needs to occur earlier and be sustained longer to contain post-election incidents.

Secondly, the United States and international community, including the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), should intensify their pre-election diplomacy. All stakeholders with potential influence on Nigeria’s leaders must clearly convey their expectation that Nigeria’s political parties will act responsibly throughout campaigns, balloting and the post-election period. They must demand that parties discipline their members, officials and their candidates should they violate standards of acceptable conduct.

Finally, Nigerian authorities should identify credible state-level and community leaders in advance who could provide leadership and advice—or even mediation—in the event of rising tensions. USIP’s Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance, a group of eminent civic leaders, could be a source of support, and there may be other community leaders with the skills and influence to prevent and defuse violence. Some states already have institutions designed to reduce violence, such as the Plateau State Peacebuilding Agency and the Kaduna State Peacebuilding Commission. These bodies are still getting their footing, but they can work closely with local community leaders and civil society representatives.

While Nigeria has made major strides since democracy was restored almost 20 years ago, the struggle to control the widespread violence that plagues its communities is far from over. Reducing election-related violence, especially in the all-important state gubernatorial elections, is a crucial place to start.

Oge Onubogu is a senior program officer for Africa programs at USIP. Idayat Hassan is the director of the Centre for Democracy and Development–West Africa, an Abuja-based policy advocacy and research organization.

Buhari Presidency plotting to plunge the 2019 elections into a needless controversy – PDP /PPCO

2019 Elections, Africa, Nigeria, PMB, Politics, Power

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declined signing the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 into law, saying that it was capable of derailing preparations for 2019 polls. It was the fourth time he would reject the bill as previous rejections were based on observed errors. The President said he did not want to impose on the country the electoral uncertainty his assent might cause. He said that changing the rules a few months to the next general elections could lead to disruption and confusion. He asked the National Assembly to save the nation’s democracy by ensuring that the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 comes into effect after the February 2019 polls. He also raised issues on four amendments to the bill and asked the National Assembly to revisit the observations. Buhari, who made his opinion known in a December 6, 2018 letter to the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said he had decided to place the interest of the country above any other matter. The letter was titled,‘Presidential decision to decline assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018’.

It reads: “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate my decision on 6th December to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly. “I am declining assent to the Bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general elections, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process. “Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.

“This leads me to believe that it is in the best interest of the country and our democracy for the National Assembly to specifically state in the Bill that the Electoral Act will come into effect and be applicable to elections commencing after the 2019 General Elections. “It is also important for the following drafting amendments to be made to the Bill:

•Section 5 of the Bill, amending Section 18 of the Principal Act should indicate the subsection to which the substitution of the figure “30” for the figure “60” is to be effected.

•Section 11 of the Bill, amending Section 36 should indicate the subsection in which the proviso is to be introduced.

•Section 24 of the Bill which amends Section 85(1) should be redrafted in full as the introduction of the “electing” to the sentence may be interpreted to mean that political parties may give 21 days’ notice of the intention to merge, as opposed to the 90 days provided in Section 84(2) of the Electoral Act which provides the provision for merger of political parties 

•The definition of the term “Ward Collection Officer” should be revised to reflect a more descriptive definition than the capitalised and undefined term “Registration Area Collation Officer.” “Please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

President Buhari had refused to sign the Bill the first time as a result of the reordering of the election sequence by the National Assembly, and the second time because of what the Presidency called “drafting errors.” He also declined signing the bill the third time because of what the Presidency called “drafting issues that remained unaddressed.”

National Assembly may override Buhari There were indications yesterday that the National Assembly may override President Buhari’s withdrawal of assent on the Electoral Act, 2018. Although several calls made to obtain the reaction of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, yielded no result, a source close to the leadership of the Senate said the National Assembly would likely override the President on the Bill. It is, however, not clear whether the two chambers of the National Assembly can muster the required two-thirds majority to override the President.

The source said: “It is obvious that the National Assembly has bent backward almost to breaking point to give the President the benefit of the doubt. “The National Assembly has no other alternative but to override the President because nobody is in doubt that he does not want to sign the Bill.” “The days ahead will determine what will happen.” Senators express divergent views Former Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, and Clifford Ordia, who spoke with our correspondent in separate interviews yesterday, expressed divergent views on the refusal of the President to sign the Electoral Act amendment Bill.

Ndume said the President must have his reasons for declining assent to the Bill. But the Borno South senator said the National Assembly was at liberty to respond as it deemed fit. He added that the rejection would not affect the conduct of the 2019 general elections, saying “the President does not conduct elections.” He said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the body in charge of elections.

“All the president needs to do is to provide the necessary support, which I am certain that he has done,” he said. Ndume added: “I cannot fully comment right now since I am not aware of the reasons given by the President. “I am sure his reasons will be contained in the letter addressed to the leadership of the National Assembly. Let us wait and see till next week.” Senator Ordia, on his part, noted that the rejection of the amendment bill by the President was a clear sign that the APC was not ready to conduct a free and fair election. The Edo Central senator said that the rejection will further cast doubt on the ability of the President to give Nigerians an election that will be accepted by all. Ordia said: “Many of us are not surprised. We knew the amendment bill was not going to be signed.

“The earlier excuses advanced were just to distract everyone. “Now that we know, we also need to go back to the drawing board as a party and find a way to counter any plans the APC will be hatching.” PDP campaign urges N/Assembly to override Buhari The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) yesterday charged the National Assembly to save the nation’s democracy by immediately overriding President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the amendment of the Electoral Act. The PDP Campaign said the legislative action had become imperative as the President’s decision was a calculated attempt to hold the nation to ransom. In a statement signed by the spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said the President’s action was capable of injecting crisis into the electoral process and ultimately scuttle the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The opposition party insisted that the President was avoiding free and fair contest. The statement said: “President Buhari’s repeated refusal to sign amendments passed to check rigging in the election raises issues of his sincerity of purpose and has the capacity to trigger political unrest and violence, which can, in turn, truncate our hard-earned democracy. “The PPCO invites Nigerians to note that this is the fourth time President Buhari is withholding assent on the amendment, without any cogent reason following his rejection by Nigerians. “Nigerians can recall how the Buhari Presidency plotted to plunge the 2019 elections into a needless controversy by delaying the submission of the election budget to the National Assembly, presenting it at the time the legislators were commencing their annual vacation and asking for virement of funds already approved for development projects, instead of sending a fresh supplementary budget for the election.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. President, in his desperation to hold on to power, has resorted to taking steps that are capable of destabilising our nation, just because the people are resolute in voting him out of office democratically. “It is also instructive to note that President Buhari is mortally afraid of the amendments because they essentially checked the All Progressives Congress (APC) rigging plans, including the use of underage and alien voters, vote-buying, alteration of results and manipulation of voter register; for which the APC and the Buhari Presidency have been boasting of winning the 2019 elections. “While urging the National Assembly to save our democracy and forestall an imminent electoral crisis, the PPCO also charges all political parties, other critical stakeholders and Nigerians in general to rise in the interest of our nation and demand the entrenching of rules and processes that will guarantee the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, as nothing short of that would be accepted.”

It may affect deepening of democracy— CNPP The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) warned yesterday that the negative impact of not assenting to amendments to Nigeria’s Electoral Act as contained in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill (2018) before next year’s general elections will endanger the deepening of the country’s democracy. In its reaction to the rejection of the amendments to the bill by President Buhari, CNPP’s Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, said in a statement issued in Abuja that “there are indications that a cabal that resents credible electoral process is bent on frustrating the signing of any amendment to the electoral laws ahead of 2019.” It urged the National Assembly to save the country’s democracy and veto the President’s assent. According to the umbrella organisation of all registered political parties and political associations in the country, “it has become obvious that while President Buhari may ordinarily wish to ensure credible electoral process, some persons around him, which constitutes the cabal, resent free and fair contest and may have again deceived him into withholding assent to the bill.

“The CNPP as a body conceived as a common platform for political parties in Nigeria shares common concerns of well-meaning Nigerians on issues bordering on rule of law, promotion and defence of democratic principles and practices. “Therefore, this singular rejection of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill (2018) by Mr. President is another repressive attempt to stem multi-party democracy and have completely removed the last hope of level playing ground for all political parties in the forthcoming elections. “It is ironical that President Muhammadu Buhari has been promising free and fair elections and at the same time refusing to give effect to the only instrument that would have proven his commitment to credible electoral process in 2019.

“As one of the greatest beneficiaries of free and fair election from the last administration, we thought that Mr. President and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should have been at the forefront of promoting transparency in elections. “However, to save our democracy and to take Nigeria’s electoral process to the next level of free and fair polls, not the next level of rigging, we demand that the National Assembly, as a matter of urgency, override Mr. President’s veto with a two-third-majority. “As it stands, the only hope Nigerians have left now rests on the National Assembly’s willingness to do the needful at this trying moment in our democratic journey.”

Russia will build missiles if US leaves treaty, Putin warns

Politics, Power, SEcurity, Tech, War
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Nato’s accusation was a pretext for the US to leave the treaty

Russia will develop missiles banned under a Cold War agreement if the US exits the pact, President Vladimir Putin has warned.

His comments follow Nato’s accusation on Tuesday that Russia has already broken the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Signed in 1987 by the US and USSR, it banned both countries’ use of all short and medium-range missiles.

But Mr Putin says the accusation is a pretext for the US to leave the pact.

In televised comments, the Russian leader said many other countries had developed weapons banned under the INF treaty.

“Now it seems our American partners believe that the situation has changed so much that [they] must also have such a weapon,” he said.

“What’s our response? It’s simple – in that case we will also do this.” 

US President Donald Trump has previously said the country would leave the treaty because of Russian actions.

Analysts say Russia sees the weapons as a cheaper alternative to conventional forces.

Arriving for talks with Nato foreign ministers, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini urged the two countries to save the treaty, saying it had “guaranteed peace and security in European territory for 30 years now”.

What has Nato said?

On Tuesday, the Western military alliance formally accused Russia of breaking the treaty.

“Allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security,” the Nato foreign ministers’ statement read.

The statement said the member nations “strongly support” the US claim that Russia is in breach of the pact, and called on Moscow to “return urgently to full and verifiable compliance”.

A Russian missile is fired during military exercises
Image captionRussia denies building missiles that violate the accord

Speaking after the release of Nato’s statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia had 60 days to return to compliance with the treaty, after which time the US would suspend its own compliance.

“During this 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we’ll see what happens during this 60-day period,” he said.

Russia has repeatedly denied breaking the Cold War treaty.

Presentational grey line

What is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty?

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signing the INF Treaty in 1987
Image captionSoviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signed the INF Treaty in 1987
  • Signed by the US and the USSR in 1987, the arms control deal banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges, except sea-launched weapons
  • The US had been concerned by the Soviet deployment of the SS-20 missile system and responded by placing Pershing and cruise missiles in Europe – sparking widespread protests
  • By 1991, nearly 2,700 missiles had been destroyed
  • Both countries were allowed to inspect the other’s installations
  • In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the treaty no longer served Russia’s interests
  • The move came after the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002

Saraki to Nigerian government: Scrap ‘Trader moni’ now, APC reacts

2019 Elections, APC, PDP, PMB, Politics, Power

Senate President and Director General of the Atiku Abubakar PDP Presidential Campaign Council Dr. Bukola Saraki has directed the Federal Government of Nigeria and the All Peoples’ Party to stop the criminal act of distributing money to market women as free Trader Moni. 


Senate President Bukola Saraki tells the Nigerian government to scrap Trader Moni, says it is a “sophisticated vote buying.”

Hunters said they were ready to help infighting terrorists provided they were incorporated in the salary scheme and provided with enough logistics to fight the terrorists. The National Adviser of Board of Trustees of the association, Chief Yusuf Alao, disclosed this while receiving a confirmation certificate as the new National Adviser of the association.

hunters said they were ready to help infighting terrorists provided they were incorporated in the salary scheme and provided with enough logistics to fight the terrorists.

The National Adviser of Board of Trustees of the association, Chief Yusuf Alao, disclosed this while receiving a confirmation certificate as the new National Adviser of the association.

He lamented the high rate of terrorism in the country, saying, the hunters are capable of fighting terrorism anywhere in the country.

He said: “The Federal Government ought to be paying us salaries as a way of encouraging us to fight the menace of terrorists in the country.

“The payment of salary to hunters is our rights, because we are working tirelessly for the Federal Government not only in the fight against terrorism, but, protecting lives and properties.”

He boasted that the hunters remained the most competent and powerful in fighting terrorism in Nigeria.

He said: “We, hunters, are capable to fight terrorists; we have the traditional power which makes us different from others in curbing terrorism in Nigeria.

“The police and the soldiers do not have the kind of power we have, and that is why some of them, while fighting the terrorists lose their lives in the process.

“The Federal Government should also consider us because we are doing great job for them, we are not relenting, most of the time we are always in the bush working diligently for government.”

via Hunters; pay us we’re ready to fight terrorism — NEWSSPLASHBLOG

Hunters; pay us we’re ready to fight terrorism — NEWSSPLASHBLOG

Boko Haram, Herdsmen, law enforcement, News, Politics, SEcurity

Of Buhari, Tinubu, Macbeth and Odu Isa

2019 Elections, Africa, APC, Corruption, economy, Facts, Nigeria, PDP, PMB, Politics, Power, relationship

Of Buhari, Tinubu, Macbeth and Odu Isa.

“Owe ni Ifa npa, Omoran ni imo” Ifa’s revelation is always in parables; only the wise can understand their meanings.

In his analysis of the Shakespearean Tragedy “Macbeth” Michael Stratford argues that the essence of human pride was covered in three dimensions by this work. He asserted in supports of the works of Majorie Garber on the play which concluded that Macbeth’s confrontation with morality at the end of the play portrayed “real recovery” and completed the depiction of the phases of pride in men. He went further to outline these stages as: The hubris that hurls a man into sin and error, the false pride that secure and justifies all and perpetuates us in evil acts, and the final realization of our immortality and futility of all things.

The play Macbeth has been analyzed by many due to its relevance in everyday human progression. Macbeth was a young and virile soldier honored for his love of Scotland and bravery at war by King Duncan. He was at the zenith of his profession as a soldier and revered titled gentleman in Scotland when the story started. A chance meeting with the “three witches”, their predictions of Macbeth as the King of Scotland, transported this gentleman into a murderer and usurper and finally his death.Given the level of public exposure to education and the current public discourse about the ruler of Nigeria which pulls towards lack of proper formal education, maybe this narrative could be brought home more.

Curiosity recently made me look into the Ifa esoteric and cosmogony and I was amazed at the level of sophistication of the Odu Ifa in explaining and predicting main pattern of human conscious, and unconscious acts; going even further to reveal the purpose and destinies of humans on earth. I was further impressed by the manner with which knowledge and wisdom for managing pride and power were expressively itemized thorough the use of parables.For noninitiates, the Ifa divinity comprises of sixteen major quadrant of ancient Yoruba Ifa cult, which was subdivided into 256 distinct sub-heads detailing all areas of human: wisdom for proper interrelations, truth and moralities, science, cosmology, metaphysics, medicine and other established norms of the Yoruba People of Southwest Nigeria as established by Orunmila. Orunmila the first Ifa priest was reputed to have started the accumulation of this knowledge base, handing it over to his sixteen children, who continued to practice and develop the Ifa practice.

In Odi Isa, amongst the Odu Ifa, Orunmila tried to balance power and pride; where he depicts the travail of the Tiger, the king of the jungle when the entire animal challenged him to battle. The tiger despite his acclaimed overwhelming power, applied wisdom and appealed to the elders for help. The elders asked the Tiger to perform a sacrifice and in respect to the words of the elders, the Tiger performed all necessary rites. And to this day, no animal was able to conquer the tiger.

Tiger’s powerful could have stupidly against public opinion challenged the whole animal kingdom. which will then overrun him and take over his kingdom. When faced with adversities, he went begging the elders for advice. Instead of ruin and death as in Macbeth case, the tiger excel and its kingdom expanded.

Many writers in the pre-2015 era had lauded the achievements of the new progressives led by General Mohamadu Buhari and Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The duo in conjunction with other heavy weights in Nigerian politics had performed the first presidential election upset in Nigerian history; the defeat of a sitting president in a general election. The global press was agog in the spirit of the wave of change coming to Nigeria politics.

The emergence of Buhari as the new government leader was heralded as a milestone in Nigerian political arena. Given the sixteen years politicking before his emergence as the president, people were thoroughly misled that the “Buhari presidential dream” was driven by passionate goals for real change. When the new government started showing signs of unpreparedness to rule and obvious lack of cohesion were being revealed, the Nigerian people still believed and attributed it to huge challenges emanating from long period of institutionalized corruption by previous governments. Nigerian new government was later revealed to have been distracted by huge amount of propaganda, vain retribution, illegal and unnecessary arrests and prosecutions in its first year in power.

Apparently, governance and economy finally start to show negative growth. Before the end of the second year, the country which was reputed as one of the ten growing global economies was in recession. Economic indicator aside, the failing security architecture has been witnessed in all theaters of operation. Conflict escalations in most areas were being witnessed. Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) continued to rise as conflicts engulfs the state. Youth and elites migration have more than doubled within three years, and statistics on youth unemployment is reading above one third of population. The national currency’s value in international trade fell by over 200 percent in the first year of this government and it took direct intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria to shore up the Naira to its current 360 to one dollar status.

Failed economy, repetitive conflicts, insurrections, low school attendance, thriving illicit economies, and high youth emigration, according to Mary Kaldor are signs of failing states. The constant stay outside the country by the president was a minor issue until the whole world was treated to the caricature of Nigerian President’s show of shame in faraway Poland on the Saturday Night Show recently. The lack of grace and charisma that goes with the esteemed office of the president of Federal Republic of Nigeria, the representative of over 200millon people and one of the fastest growing states globally by this current president reflects his depth of understanding of the power and privilege of Nigeria in global politics.

Tinubu’s rise to stardom in Nigerian politics was midwifed by the NADECO movement against military rule in the late eighties and early nineties. The movement which led to the emergence of this ongoing republic equally blessed BAT with the governorship of the most priced state in Nigeria, Lagos. Lagos represents the hub of commerce and economy of Nigeria. Nigerian position as a giant in Africa business resides in the economic performance of Lagos State. Eight years of his direct rule, twelve years of his protégés ruling, characterized by unashamed plundering of Lagos state’s resources has created a new Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The Czar of Southwest Nigeria was born. By 2014, Tinubu had in his control a war-chest big enough to start and prosecute any political war in Nigeria against any opposition.

When Tinubu pitched his tent against President Goodluck Jonathan, midwifed a coalition of parties to form All Peoples’ Congress (APC) in supports of Buhari, the die was cast. Tinubu’s prowess and political machinery was founded on the Lagos State dynasty. This base he has always controlled since 1999. Experts have posited that the loss of Lagos by the Tinubu gang will surely sound the kernel of his political demise. Recent happenings have shown the arrival of the new Tinubu. Four month to general elections, Tinubu unilaterally influenced the removal of the name of the incumbent governor of Lagos State from the ballot and imposed a new man as the party representative. A move that has been reported irked many locals and party faithful.

Obviously, Tinubu’s power as sole godfather and power broker in Lagos politics is on test as 2019 February elections looms. Buhari’s reign and reelections as president is being supported by the Tinubu’s camp. The alliance many agreed was based on the pact to return Tinubu as president in 2023. This ambition has fueled the unalloyed support from Lagos APC for Buhari’s return. It’s a big gamble on the path of Tinubu and Buhari. Like the proverbial fly, Buhari has tasted the wine and is ready and willing to die in the same cup of wine.

Tinubu’s ambition also has turned him to the fly that refused to heed the warnings of the elders and has decided to follow the corpse into the earth. Ambition is necessary to achieve and progress in life, yet ambitions should be ethically based, no normal leader will continue to aspire to hold and office in which he does not have capacity for managing, and no normal human being will sacrifice the future of his people, merely for his own selfish ambition.

Ambition contaminated by acute pride surely begets disaster. Macbeth ambition was fueled by greed and selfish ambition to rule Scotland, never because he was a pushed by a need to work a better society for his people. His endgame led to war and carnage pushing Scotland which was growing as a nation into complete recession and pillage by ravaging armies. Equally, the Tiger would have resorted to use of might against his enemies as he was in power, but wisdom led him to the elders. Tinubu and Buhari have achieved the impossible in Nigerian politics; the time has come for them both to respect the people and leave the scene. Unrestrained pride and ambition, the elders says always lead to death and destructions.

Don Michael Adeniji                                                                                          Director, African Initiative for Peace and Human Development, Abuja Chicago Illinois. December, 2018

Negotiating new Leadership for Nigeria

Africa, PMB, Politics, Power, SEcurity

Leadership have been identified as a service which combine all human and nonhuman resources nurturing them to produce real and measurable results in any organisation or society. Any society without leaders with inherent ability to manage people and resources properly always fail.

The failure of the Nigerian society is regtetable given inherent human reaources and immeasurable minerals deposits. The paucity of able men to steer the affairs of this nation to Eldorado has been blamed on obvious lack of capable hands to manage these inherent potentials.

In 2015, a desperate move by the public led to hugely aclaimed judgemental error. The people elected an ancient and tired hand to manage a festering modern problem. Several schools have concluded that the uniqueness of the Nigerian problem requires a more agile and dedicated decision maker hence current leaders cannot nd might not be the batch to negotiate a new deal for Nigerians.

Great leaders are known by their acute listening and negotiation senses. Unfortunately leadership in Nigeria is based on the use of blunt force to overwhelm all nad any opposition. Government suspends rthe ruke of law and imposes the rule of force to serve their personal ends.

As the 2019 elections approaches,aside from all rhetorics there exists need for an academic look at basic qualifications for a new president for Nigeria. While many analyst and public commentators have contribute to this discussion, I will love to add these few qualities to the till.

For Nigeria to succeed, its leaders must be willing to understand the neeed to articulate national interest and move from self or regional interest. We must have leaders willing to stand and negotiate with global leaders using articulated national interest to design a place for Nigeria in International finance and trade. No nation can develop and geow without playing a major role in international trade. Effective leaders seek to understand the interests of those they lead and to find ways of satisfying those interests in order to achieve organizational and societal goals.

Nigerian are fleeing the country in thousands because of lack of business opportunities and means of achieving their individual and collective aspurations within Nigeria. It is ab I it time the Nigerian State recognise that human security goes beyond proviso of physical armed guards. Nigerian economy needed a boast and noone will give you what you never asked for. Nigeria cannot continue to attend international organisation meeting as a side show. A nation of over 200 million people, the largest market and biggest economy in Africa should be able to negotiate trade deals that give advantage to its people.

The leader Nigeria need should be firm and meliable enough to negotiate local and international business and trading relationships. The era of illmanaged international agreements and negotiations should come to an end. The new leader shoukd look at government as viable concern with potential for growth.

Relationships are the basis of trust. Positive relationships are important because they engender trust – a vital means of securing desired actions from others. People will be willing to sacrifice more when the leaders visions are clearer and are communicated in more friendly environment.

The right leadership is the voice of the people and uses his voice to negotiate a vision for the people using collaborative approach The age of know all solution leadership shoukd be jettisoned. New leasers must be able to fave squarely the challenge of forging a single vision out of the multiplicity of visions held by the group’s members.

National consensus are not easy to achieve but with the right voice, which the people can trust it’s achievable.

#justkukukilllme

Houston police chief: Vote out politicians only “offering prayers” after shootings – Tillet

Corruption, Crime, law enforcement, Politics, SEcurity

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo slammed elected officials for inaction on the state and federal level in response to repeated shootings at schools across the country. His comments come in the wake of the latest school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas which left 10 people dead.

Appearing on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, Acevedo said that political leaders are failing to heed the will of the voters when it comes to gun regulations and reforms.

“Let me tell you, people at the state level and the federal level in too many places in our country are not doing anything other than offering prayers,” Acevedo said. “We need to start using the ballot box and ballot initiatives to take the matters out of the hands of people that are doing nothing that are elected into the hands of the people to see that the will of the people in this country is actually carried out.”

Acevedo added that “local governments are starting to make a difference” by enacting their own reforms.

“I think that the American people, gun owners — the vast majority of which are pragmatic and actually support gun sense and gun reform in terms of keeping guns in the right hands,” Acevedo said.

Acevedo posted on Facebook that he had “hit rock bottom” and “shed tears of sadness, pain and anger” over the Texas killings. The post went viral in the days after the shooting.

On Sunday, he said that one policy to consider would be stronger laws mandating proper security of guns in private homes. According to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the suspect used a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver which his father owned legally. Abbott told reporters that he didn’t know whether the father was aware his son had obtained the weapons.

“If you have firearms in your home and you do not secure them and you don’t secure them in a manner that can preclude someone from grabbing them and taking them and carrying out this carnage, [there] is a criminal liability that attaches,” Acevedo suggested.

He added, “I believe that anyone that owns a firearm that doesn’t secure it properly [and it] ends up in the wrong hands and used to kill innocent people, that that should carry some significant consequences. We need to think about that on the national level across this country.”

Two Obvious Gaffe in the Tuccano Purchase

APC, law enforcement, News, PMB, Politics, SEcurity, Tech, Terrorism

Buhari-Saraki-and-DogaraThe hue and cry on the propriety of the Federal Government payment for 12 unit of A-29 Tuccano Super Fighter Jets without due consent from the National Assembly still remain a mystery in public discussions. Clear facts revealed that several terror groups are challenging Nigerians’ security and killing innocent civilians on daily basis; the Nigerian Army need better air support to dislodge these terror groups especially the Boko Haram from their entrenched hideouts; it is a fact that the Tuccano is cheaper and retained all capabilities of more advanced fighter jets avionics; the Tuccano are also designed and has been used for guerrilla warfare and low level fast attack operations in areas similar to the Northeast Nigeria terrains, which make them ideal for the current security challenges in Nigeria; and to top these, the aircrafts have one of the lowest operation costs in the industry –at less than $1000USD per flight hour.

Incredible credentials for a turboprop trainer converted for low-intensity combat operations, so why the challenges on the purchase. We have tried to assuage two major facts behind the obstreperous challenges of this payment of $496 million for 12 A29 Tuccano Super Fighter Jets by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Unit Cost:

 Average costs of the Nigerian purchase for these jets remained the highest ever paid. The airframe cost of the Tuccano as paid by the Dominican Republic for training purposes was a mere $8m. Industrial facts put the costs of a Tuccano at about $12m for a fully equipped versions though recent American buys of Super Tuccano for Afghanistan have come out to between $20 and $30 million because of inflation, different equipment, the inclusion of long-lead spares, and other factors.

The Nigeria government paid a total of $496m for 12 aircrafts giving an average of $41.33m each. Discounting the fact that four of the order were filled for basic airframe suited for Pilot trainings, the average could go higher than $50m per aircraft. Experts reasoned that Nigeria could have purchased better equipment for the price we are currently expending on these Tuccanos.

Delivery Date:

Given the expediency of current security challenges in Nigeria and the attendant-growing spate of attacks in the country, the purchase of the Tuccano would have been a welcome idea if the jets will be available to join in the fray immediately. The delivery dates for these equipment by the American government is in 2020. The jets might not come into formal usage before the end of 2020 give need for training of pilots and tests of equipment before formal commissioning and deployment.

For a nation with a depressed economy fighting serious on-going battle with terrorists using current scarce resources to purchase equipment that might not come into service to aid current security onslaught could be “technically flawed”.

RE: The 8th Senate, Not IGP Idris Is The Real Enemy Of Democracy By Bala Ibrahim

2019 Elections, Nigeria, PMB, Politics

Police IGP.pngI am never a fan of Nigerian politician, I have never believed in the processes and operations of the Nigerian National Assembly and I am mortified at the numbers of cases against the present members of this eight Senate of the federal Republic, yet we need to face issues when our national institution of democratic governance are being ridiculed in the public domain. Most Nigerians imbued with ‘messiah worshipping zeal’ are wont to misunderstand the basics of a presidential system of government. The Senate of the Federal Republic represents the lead organ in the National Assembly of Nigeria given power by the constitution to make laws and oversees all operations of the Executive organ led by the President.

The fact that a Nigerian would denigrate the Senate of Federal Republic as “uncultured, uncivilised, undemocratic and immature” and come into the public domain with the insult merely due to an aversion to resolutions of the Senate on the Inspector General of Police, shows a lack of patriotism; a crude and uninformed reasoning always displayed by really inequitable elements that have perpetually resolved issues in public domain through an appeal to cyclical reasoning.

Obvious lack of proper understanding of the democratic principle and harried researches would have informed the contributions of several elements deliberately engineered to perpetuate ignorance on a condescending but largely unread public via a sustain attack on their intelligence with hugely fabricated missives. For the sake of prosperity there should be proper well-researched response to properly educate the obfuscated critics amongst us and inform the public on the proper use of words in public domains.

Buhari-Saraki-and-DogaraFacts remain that Senator Dino Melaye’s travail could have been self-imposed, avoidable and clearly challenge the process of law enforcement operation in Nigeria. That Dino intentionally refused Police invitations in Kogi State would have been construed as an affront to the legal processes and local laws. Yet a clear circumstantial observation of the reason for his refusal to attend to the Kogi State Command’s requests were striking. Dino maintained he cannot and will never have fair hearing in Kogi State, stating the case of his on-going row with the state government as basis.

For the sake of Clarification, I invite Bala Ibrahim to please read:

The invitation by the Senate was for the IGP Idris to attend its session and clear issues dealing with National security based on continuous killings in Benue, Nassarawa, Kaduna and other states in Nigeria, the Melaye issue was adjunct.

For the avoidance of doubts, a look at Sections 88 of the 1999 Constitution says, “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed investigation into – (a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for – (i) executing or administering laws enacted by National Assembly, and (ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.”

The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to;

(a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and (b) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.

What amazes me in this narrative remains the assertion of invaluable excuse by Bala in his write-up for the IGP’s refusal to attend the Senate summons. Even the IGP has never in any fora denied this absolute right of the Senate to invite him to its session, but his litany of excuses shows a flagrant disdain for a democratic institution. The Police Act quoted by Mr. Bala could never and will never over rule the Constitution that empowers the Senate to act as supervisor of the public trust in the executive and all its agencies.

The office of the IGP is the central management point for coalescing all operational, intelligence and administrative operations of the Nigeria Police Force, which are gathered by separate departments. The IGP’s main duty was to manage all these resources and employ them in designing an effective operational system. DIGs are administrative heads of different department of policing operations; hence IGP Operations cannot be in possession of as much information as the IGP. Common sense would have dictated that given the fact that a formal invitation was sent to the IGP, there should have been a letter from the IGP office to the Senate leadership on his schedules and possible date for his visit.

Read: http://www.pulse.ng/news/local/igp-idris-is-wrong-for-shunning-senate-summons-id8360996.html

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/267875-analysis-snub-by-igp-idris-what-next-for-nigerian-senate.html

Disparagement for any organ of democracy is the way towards anarchy. We cannot continue to condone our public officials for doing the wrong things. The president should be made to understand basic tenets of a working democracy. When the executive continually ignores National assembly resolutions on major national issues, we have drawn the line towards abrogating the rule of law in Nigeria.

See: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/226181-breaking-senate-rejects-magu-efcc-chairman-2.html

http://dailypost.ng/2017/12/21/magu-no-longer-efcc-acting-chairman-nigerian-senate/

The distinguished senators on individual basis could be an issue, but the national assembly is an institution we must gather round and support. The executive should learn to appreciate and support the operations of the Senate and harken to it. Our democracy needs our concerted protection and not derision.

 

 

The 8th Senate, Not IGP Idris Is The Real Enemy Of Democracy By Bala Ibrahim

APC, News, Politics

In the heat of Police investigations into the crimes Mr. Melaye was being accused of, he was intercepted at the Airport trying to leave the country and was detained by the men of the Nigerian Immigration Service, his passport having been seized. The “distinguished” Senator snatched his passport from the Immigration officers and ran out of the custody of the Immigration Service to the residence of the Senate President who harbored him for some time before he sneaked to his house.


BY BALA IBRAHIM

Bala Ibrahim

The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on Wednesday the 9th of May, 2018, said it made a resolution declaring the Inspector General of Police (IGP) “Enemy of Democracy”. The Senate said by this resolution, the IGP has been rendered unfit to hold any public office henceforth in Nigeria or elsewhere. Obviously, the Senate was irked by the inability of the IGP to appear personally before it in response to its invitation to him in relation to the arrest, escape from custody, hospitalization, and arraignment of one of its own, Senator Dino Melaye.

Mr. Melaye was invited by the Nigeria Police in connection with a criminal offense, and he refused to honor the invitation. A letter was written by the Police to the President of the Senate, Bokola Saraka to intervene and convince Mr. Melaye to respond to the invitation. Still, Mr. Melaye refused to respond.In the heat of Police investigations into the crimes Mr. Melaye was being accused of, he was intercepted at the Airport trying to leave the country and was detained by the men of the Nigerian Immigration Service, his passport having been seized.

The “distinguished” Senator snatched his passport from the Immigration officers and ran out of the custody of the Immigration Service to the residence of the Senate President who harbored him for some time before he sneaked to his house.Mr. Melaye was later arrested at his home and was being taken to court in Lokoja when the convoy was waylaid by hoodlums who distracted the Police and paved way for him to jump out and escape from Police custody.

He was later Re-arrested the same way the hoodlums who masterminded his escape were arrested. They turned out to be his brother and cousin. Both are already facing prosecution at the appropriate courts.He was taken to the National Hospital where he stayed for days before doctors officially certified him fit to be discharged. In fact, doctors’ report has it that there was virtually no health issue that could hinder any of his activities. But the Senator deliberately refused to leave the hospital, causing the Police to take him to the court on a stretcher. The Police were convinced that he was only playing tricks, having observed him to be entertaining his visitors with songs and delirious dance steps.

It was over this matter that the Senate wanted the IGP to appear before it. At a time when the country is being faced with so much security issues that require the rapt attention of the Police chief, he decided to send a representative, a Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operation. The Senate was not impressed; they wanted the man who at that time was in Kaduna state, where over 60 Nigerians lost their lives to gunmen attacks.Why the Senate would not want a representative of the IGP beats the imagination. These are people who are in the red chambers as representatives of about 180 million Nigerians. One would have expected that the principle of representation is already part of their system.

It is also clear, by virtue of the provisions of the Police Act, that a Deputy Inspector General of Police and an Assistant Inspector General of Police are technically IGPs. Since the letter to the IGP was not addressed Ibrahim Idris as an individual, but to the office of the IGP, any of the designated IGPs can as well do. In fact, the DIG in charge of operations is surely the most appropriate to provide all relevant information regarding the Melaye saga. Now, by declaring the IGP “Enemy of Democracy” and unfit to hold public office henceforth, the Senate is only treading a familiar rough ground.

It did same in a matter involving it and the incumbent governor of Kaduna state. The Nigerian courts, in 2004 declared such a resolution null and void. Today, the same El-Rufai that the Senate said is unfit to hold public office is a sitting governor, validly elected by the people of Kaduna state.This 8th Senate, which has the highest number of docked members so far in the history of the Nigerian Senate, including its president Bukola Saraki, has a worrisome penchant for unruly behavior and disregard for law and order. Otherwise, how does one explain away the refusal of a Senator to honor invitation over an alleged crime?

More dramatic was the commissioning of hoodlums to obstruct the process of justice. And most unexpected was the attempt to escape from lawful custody, itself a criminal act. From the same Senate came a senator, who stormed the plenary, wreak havoc, and abduct the Mace. This says a lot about the level of seriousness, sanity and lawful conduct of our Senate members. How does a Senate that perpetrates thuggery and refused to pass the budget, six months after it was presented to them, expect to be taken seriously by serious people?It is important that our Senators do everything within their capacity to uphold the sanctity of the Senate of the Federal Republic by abstaining from uncultured, uncivilized, undemocratic and immature behavior. When they do that, they will command the respect of all.

Mr. Ibrahim writes from Abuja

Third Force Movement: Oyinlola Dumps APC

APC, News, PMB, Politics

Prince-Olagunsoye-Oyinlola-TVCNews

Former Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola has written the APC NEC of his intention to leave the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Mr. Oyinlola communicated his decision to the leadership of the party through a letter received at the National Secretariat of the APC in Abuja on Wednesday.

It is understood that Oyinlola, alongside others would be floating a new political party soonest.

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo is said to be behind the new party.

The retired general recently emerged as the leader of the Coalition of Nigeria Movement (CNM) floated by Obasanjo.

Oyinlola was unceremoniously removed as the National Secretary of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in 2013 and he later joined APC in 2014 in the count down to Osun gubernatorial election of August 9.

in 2017, President Buhari appointed him Chairman of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Board. It was seen by many as a pacification after the former military man lost out in the ministerial and ambassadorial appointments.

Mr. Oyinlola has also resigned from the same office.

Conspiracy Theory: Security Men, Lawmakers Conspired To Steal The Mace-Police

APC, Crime, News, PMB, Politics

The Divisional Police Officer in the National Assembly, CSP Sulu-Gambari Abdul, on Wednesday blamed the April 18 invasion of the Senate and removal of the mace by hoodlums on an internal conspiracy between the security men and legislators.

mac.jpgThe Divisional Police Officer in the National Assembly, CSP Sulu-Gambari Abdul, on Wednesday blamed the April 18 invasion of the Senate and removal of the mace by hoodlums on the internal conspiracy.

Abdul stated this during an investigative hearing into the incident by joint ad hoc committee investigating the incident.

According to him, what happened at the National Assembly was an act of internal conspiracy among some security agencies and some lawmakers.

“There should be cooperation between security agencies and the lawmakers but in this case, the attack came from the roof as the senators are not helping security matters.”

On April 16, there was an earlier hint that a group planned to invade the National Assembly and disrupt activities, which called for a build-up of security with two units of mobile police mobilized to the complex.”

“However, on April 18, at about 11 a.m., my attention was drawn to a group protesting at the gate, and while I moved to address the group, I was informed that some people were running away with the mace.”

“I signaled all the entry points that nobody drives in or out but three men approached me identifying themselves as security operatives and requested to be allowed to go.

“The strain of blood on their clothes made me suspicious and I ordered their arrest.”

“In all, six people were arrested same day and handed over to the Force Headquarters alongside charms recovered from them.”

“In addition, an unmarked Prado jeep and a Toyota Hilux were impounded and they are with the police.”

“It was later that I observed that the protest was a diversionary attention to move me out and that the protesters were the same group with those that attacked”, Abdul said.

He said that there was no communication from the Sergeant-at-Arms to the National Assembly during the invasion by the thugs.

Earlier, the Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Brighton Danwalex, had said that report from the investigation after the incident revealed that Senator Ali Ndume instructed the men assigned to protect the mace not to touch it during the invasion.

According to him, it was wrong for them to take orders from Ndume.

“Security men are having challenges with some legislators because they don’t want to follow checks,’’ he added.

Danwalex said that security men were overpowered due to lack of non-functional security gadgets to enhance operational capacity.

“There is no functional walkie-talkie; we would have alerted all the exit points.”

“The CCTV is not functioning and there is only one operational patrol vehicle and the entrance into the white house requires biometric doors,’’ he said.

Chairman of the committee, Sen. Bala N’allah, requested the Police to furnish it with copies of station diary where entry of the crime was made.

He also directed that the committee should be given copies of the crime routine diary, pictures of those arrested and the transfer register explaining where the invaders were transferred to.

On her part, the Co-Chairman of the committee, Rep. Betty Apiafi, blamed the invasion on negligence on the part of the Sergeant-at-Arms.

She accused them of failing to raise alarm having observed something unusual.

Similarly, Sen. Shehu Sani accused the security operatives in the complex of regularly collecting money to allow unauthorized persons into the premises.

“People troop in here by paying money to security. Supposing they were terrorists and had it been that they came in to kill someone, they would have succeeded.”

“How could five thugs succeed if there was no collusion?”, Sani said.

 Originally published in the Punch Newspaper and Sahara onlineriginally published in the Punch Newspaper and Sahara online

Nigeria’s President Draws Criticism for Seeking Medical Care Abroad

2019 Elections, APC, News, Nigeria, PMB, Politics
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, who visited the White House last month, traveled to Britain this week to seek medical care for an undisclosed illness.CreditChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

ABUJA, Nigeria — President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, who has urged politicians not to go abroad to seek medical care, has traveled to Britain on his fifth official trip to see a doctor there.

Mr. Buhari, 75, left for London on Monday for a four-day visit, setting off renewed concerns about his health. His trip also comes after three weeks of strikes by health care professionals who are calling for better working conditions and more funding.

For nearly two years, Mr. Buhari has been receiving treatment for an unspecified illness, which he has repeatedly refused to discuss.

The president is scheduled to return to Nigeria on Saturday, at which point he will have spent more than 170 days in London on official medical leave since becoming president in 2015.

Mr. Buhari recently declared his intention to run for a second term next year, but many people in Nigeria, including some former presidents, have called on him to step down because of concerns about his health.

After Mr. Buhari visited Washington to meet with President Trump late last month, he surprised reporters by not returning directly to Nigeria but instead making what his media team called a “technical stopover” in London. His aides later confirmed that he received medical treatment while in Britain.

Mr. Buhari’s aides have insisted that the president is healthy and capable of running for office again, claiming that his political enemies are exaggerating any health concerns to attack him.

In April 2016, months before his first medical trip to London, Mr. Buhari condemned the use of Nigerian resources on international medical expenses.

“While this administration will not deny anyone of his or her fundamental human rights, we will certainly not encourage expending Nigerian hard-earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad, when such can be handled in Nigeria,” Mr. Buhari said, according to a statement from the Health Ministry at the time.

During his campaign the president promised to end “medical tourism,” the practice of Nigerian politicians receiving medical treatment abroad even as most citizens are forced to rely on underfunded state medical services.

After what was reported to have been motorbike accident in January, the president’s son, Yusuf Buhari, was also treated abroad, although the president’s aides would not confirm where he was treated.

Nigerians see Mr. Buhari’s actions on health care as hypocritical, said Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of Enough Is Enough, a coalition of groups committed to building a culture of good government and public accountability in Nigeria. “As he’s getting a superior standard of health care for himself and his son, he’s done virtually nothing to invest in health care infrastructure and provision in Nigeria,” Ms. Adamolekun said.

This year Nigeria spent 3.9 percent of its budget on health care, a fraction of the 15 percent target set by the United Nations.

“Health professionals have been on strike now for three weeks, and they aren’t even talking about it,” Ms. Adamolekun said, referring to the government. “So we have poor health infrastructure, an exodus of qualified medical staff and now a strike with no conversation on how to fix it, yet our president jumps off to the U.K. for his own health.”

A nationwide strike of 72,000 public health care workers has crippled medical services in state hospitals across Nigeria, and many more are expected to join the protest in the next few days.

Biobelemoye Josiah, president of a coalition of unions involved in the strike, said that health care in Nigeria had suffered under Mr. Buhari’s administration. “There has long been medical tourism because our hospitals are grossly underfunded and that has continued,” Mr. Josiah said.+

Trump slams Kerry over ‘shadow diplomacy’ to save Iran deal -CNN

News, Politics

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday to condemn former Secretary of State John Kerry for engaging in “shadow diplomacy” to try to preserve the Iran nuclear deal by holding meetings and speaking with major players, who, like Kerry, do not want Trump to withdraw the US from the agreement.

Image result for Kerry and Zarif, photos

Then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Speaks With Hossein Fereydoun, the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif before Press conference in Vienna, July 14, 2015
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Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the United Nations in New York two weeks ago, their second meeting in about two months, to discuss ways of keeping the deal limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons program intact, according to two sources familiar with the interactions.
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The former secretary of state also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, separately sat down with French President Emmanuel Macron and spoke on the phone with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the sources told CNN.
The Boston Globe was first to report Kerry’s meetings with Zarif, Steinmeier and Mogherini.
Trump slammed Kerry’s reported engagement on Monday.
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“The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal. He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!” Trump tweeted.
But a Kerry spokesman pushed back against Trump’s remarks in a statement on Monday.
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“I think every American would want every voice possible urging Iran to remain in compliance with the nuclear agreement that prevented a war. Secretary Kerry stays in touch with his former counterparts around the world just like every previous Secretary of State,” said the spokesman in a written statement. “Like America’s closest allies, he believes it is important that the nuclear agreement, which took the world years to negotiate, remain effective as countries focus on stability in the region.”
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Kerry’s interactions with Iranian officials won’t affect the Iran nuclear deal, the White House said on Monday.
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“I don’t think it impacts it at all. The President spoke out about that pretty clearly, and I don’t think that we would take advice from somebody who created what the President sees to be one of the worst deals ever made,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said. “I’m not sure why we would start listening to him now.”
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Kerry has also quietly lobbied members of Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, placing dozens of phone calls in recent weeks.
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Professor Saikrishna Prakash, who teaches constitutional and foreign relations law at the University of Virginia School of Law, said the 200 year-old Logan act is not something that is prosecuted.
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“Both sides just trot this out whenever the other side has some sort of communication with a foreign government,” he noted. “It’s more a political charge than it is anything serious.”
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Prakash says there are two reasons the Justice Department would be weary of going after Kerry. First, it risks drawing additional attention to alleged violations by members of the Trump administration during the transition, and second, if the charges don’t stick they could have “egg on their faces.”
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Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, suit
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif and Russian FM Lavrov
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“It’s definitely a political football,” Prakash said.
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During his Friday speech to the National Rifle Association, Trump attacked Kerry for his initial role in negotiating the Iran deal, which Trump called “horrible.”
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“And we have the former administration as represented by John Kerry, not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen,” Trump said. “He never walked away from the table, except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg.”
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The Trump administration faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue waiving sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
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Trump tweeted Monday that he “will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00 pm.”
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https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/07/politics/john-kerry-iran-deal-shadow-diplomacy/index.html

via Trump slams Kerry over ‘shadow diplomacy’ to save Iran deal — Peace and Freedom

What Saraki, Dogara Told Buhari About Dino Melaye’s Travail, 2018 Budget

2019 Elections, APC, News, Politics

@APROKOGIRL

Buhari-Saraki-and-DogaraThe Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara on Monday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to compel the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to obey the laws of Nigeria.

Both presiding officers of the National Assembly had earlier met with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Speaking with State House Correspondents after the closed-door session, both presiding officers of NASS condemned the treatment allegedly meted on Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye.

They described the arraignment of Melaye on stretcher as “barbaric and uncivilised,” stressing that there was nowhere in the world that people were arraigned on a stretcher, even criminals.

Both officers also said the 2018 budget report will be passed this week.

source: nai

Saraki, Dogara Report Police IG To Buhari Over Disdain For Senate, Melaye

2019 Elections, APC, News, PMB, Politics

Buhari-Saraki-and-Dogara.jpgPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met behind closed doors with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
The meeting was held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja shortly after Buhari returned from his weekend trip to his hometown, Daura in Katsina State.

At the end of the meeting, Saraki and Dogara told State House correspondents that they reported the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to the President over his handling of the case involving Senator Dino Melaye and his disdain for the National Assembly.

They also said the meeting which was at the instance of the President discussed the issue of the 2018 Appropriation Bill still before the National Assembly, the recent invasion of the Senate during which the mace was taken away and the fallouts or Buhari’s recent visit to the United States of America during which he met the US President, Donald Trump.

They, however, said the issue of the impeachment process being contemplated in the National Assembly over Buhari’s approval for the payment of $496m for fighter jets before he sought the approval of the Federal lawmakers was not discussed at the meeting.