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2023 Presidency: Northern Elders Agree to Work with Other Regions

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The Northern Elders Forum on Wednesday made a U-turn on its earlier position on northern presidency in 2023 with a promise that the North would work with other ethnic groups in Nigeria to produce a competent leader that would restore confidence in the system.

The organisation also noted that the ongoing debate about labelling bandits as terrorists is a waste of energy, adding that it would only support such if it would lead to improved security.

The spokesperson for NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said these in a statement on Wednesday after a meeting convened by its leader, Prof. Ango Abdullahi.

The statement said the meeting was also of the view that scrapping of the State Independent National Electoral Commissions should be included in the ongoing constitutional amendment.

It reads partly, “The Forum salutes all Nigerians who toiled to restore a level playing field to our democratic system. It is now left to politicians and other leaders to conduct the type of politics that builds into it real equity, fairness, competence and justice, through inclusive campaigns and responsible approach towards the 2023 elections. The people of the North want to work with other Nigerians to produce a competent and committed Nigerian leadership that will restore confidence in our country’s capacity to survive and rebuild itself for the next generations.”

The NEF noted the Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress dominated the political landscape, adding that Nigerians would benefit from additional options.

“The NEF looks forward to the emergence and consolidation of other parties in the political environment. The continued existence of State Electoral Commissions which conduct elections into local government councils is damaging the democratic process. The NEF advises that the on-going constitutional amendments should include the scrapping of these commissions and the assumption of their duties by INEC.”

The organisation urged Nigerians, especially northerners, to register and prepare to vote for new and more competent leaders in the 2023 elections.

“The Forum took note of the worsening security situation in the country. Boko Haram insurgency continues to be a major threat in the North-East, while kidnapping and large scale banditry in many other parts of the North are taking over lives of large portions of the population. The IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) threatens to eradicate the influence of legitimate authority in the South-East. Politicians and influential people are worsening the nation’s fault lines by the manner they seek political advantages through threats to our unity and peaceful co-existence.

“Poverty and poor governance are fueling widespread alienation from mainstream social existence.

“The Forum joins the nation in its outrage over the fact that Maiduguri, Borno State capital has been without power from the national grid for 10 months, and is alarmed by signs that its population could be forced to resign to living with this additional assault on their lives and livelihood. This situation must be reversed at all cost.

“The planned closure of Internally Displaced Persons’ camps should be carefully considered so that it does not place more victims in avoidable peril.

“The Forum regrets that the argument over labelling bandits as terrorists is a waste attention and energy. If labeling bandits as terrorists will substantially improve the capacity of the Nigerian state to eliminate this expanding scourge, the Forum supports it without reservation,” the statement added.

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UN Deputy Sec Gen Condemns Gruesome Killing of Deborah, Demands Justice

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Amina Muhammed, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, has called for justice following the killing of Deborah Yakubu in Sokoto over blasphemy.

Muhammed spoke out via her official Twitter page on Tuesday, stating that religions should not be “misinterpreted to preach violence”.

“Justice must be done for the senseless, brutal killing of the young Deborah Yakubu in Nigeria. Religions should not be misinterpreted to preach violence when they promote peace.

“My prayers are with the family and for the repose of her soul,” she tweeted.

Yakubu, a second-year student of the Sheu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was lynched on the school premises on Thursday after classmates accused her of blasphemy.

On Monday, the Sokoto Police Command arraigned two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in the state, for their alleged participation in the crime.

The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges while the defence counsel, Prof. Mansur Ibrahim, applied for their bail on liberal terms, citing constitutional provisions and sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.

The trial judge reserved the ruling on the bail application and ordered the accused to be remanded at a correctional centre.

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AfDB’s Adesina Not Contesting for Presidency – Report

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The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina, will not be contesting the Presidency of Nigeria.

A support group had purchased and submitted the N100m Presidential form of the All Progressives Congress for the top banker last week.

Some had also reported that Adesina visited Mamman Daura, the influential nephew of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) last week to seek his support.

But The PUNCH confirmed that Adesina will not be taking part in the Presidential screening of the APC slated for May 23.

Adesina’s office is expected to issue a statement in a few hours distancing himself from Nigeria’s partisan politics.

The AfDB regulations bar its President from partisan politics.

Specifically, Paragraph 2 of Article 38 of the agreement establishing AfDB, titled ‘Prohibition of Political Activity; the International Character of the Bank’, states that “The Bank, its President, Vice Presidents, officers and staff shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member (country); nor shall they be influenced in their decisions by the political character of the member (country) concerned.”

Paragraph 3 of the article states that “The President, Vice Presidents, officers and staff of the Bank, in discharge of their offices, owe their duty entirely to the Bank and to no other authority.”

Similarly, the AfDB code of conduct bars its executive from partisan politics. Section 10 of the Code reads: “Although Executive Directors are elected representatives of governments from their constituencies, they shall during their tenure of office as executive directors refrain from participating in active politics in their home countries or elsewhere.”

Should Adesina seek to run for the office of President of Nigeria, he would need to resign his current position permanently, a risk it was learnt the top banker was not willing to take.

There are at least 25 other aspirants running for President on the platform of the APC.

Some of them include APC stalwart, Bola Tinubu; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; oil mogul, Tein Jack-Rich; Senator Ajayi Boroffice; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State and many others.

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N80bn Fraud: EFCC Arrests Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris

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Nigeria’s Accountant-General, Ahmed Idris, has been arrested over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds, according to a report by PREMIUM TIMES.

According to the report, Idris was intercepted in Kano by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday evening and flown to Abuja, the nation’s capital, for interrogation.

Sources said the EFCC has for sometime now been investigating a case of diversion of at least N80 billion in public funds which was allegedly laundered through some bogus contracts.

The companies used in laundering the funds have allegedly been linked to family members and associates of the accountant-general, investigators said.

The sources further said that after progress was made in the investigation, Idris was summoned repeatedly for interrogation but he failed to honour the invitations.

“We kept inviting him but he kept dodging us,” one of our sources said. “We were left with no choice than to keep him under watch and arrest him.”

However, a top EFCC confirmed the development but asked not to be named because he had no permission to discuss the matter with the media.

President Muhammed Buhari appointed Mr Idris accountant-general on June 25, 2015.

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