The Presidency disagreed on Monday that President Muhammadu Buhari was “sleeping on duty as the Commander-in-Chief,” a description the Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese, Rt Rev Fr Stephen Mamza, gave of Buhari on Sunday.
The cleric had, during an Easter homily he delivered in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, criticised the Buhari administration for allegedly failing to halt insecurity in the country, especially escalating kidanappings, banditry and other violent crimes.
Speaking specifically on the latest killings in Zamfara, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba and Southern Kaduna, the bishop said, “We are really in a dilemma. We (Nigerians) are feeling that we don’t have protection. From all indications, there is nothing being done. There have been calls from all over the country. Look at what is happening in Zamfara State; look at what is happening in Benue periodically, in Nasarawa State and now in Adamawa (Southern Adamawa).
“If there is a government in place, then the government should listen to the people and address the security challenges. We have mass burials from time to time and there is no sign the government cares about what is happening.”
But the Presidency on Monday disagreed with the bishop, denying that Buhari had been sleeping on duty.
It accused Mamza of not “staying above politics” and also not making “a fair comment” about Buhari.
The Presidency went on to recount what Buhari had done to restore security since he assumed duty in 2015, especially in the war against insurgency.
It argued that but for Buhari’s efforts, Yola and other towns in Adamawa and the rest of the North-East would still be under the control of Boko Haram.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, who gave the Presidency’s position, stated, “There is so much that has changed in the past three to four years in and around Yola, and the Catholic Church in particular that a true assessment would show that, but for the change administration of President Buhari, things would have continued the way they were, or even get worse. These could not have happened if a Commander-in- Chief was asleep.
“Bishop Mamza was, and is still a strong member of the Adamawa Peace Initiative, API, composed of religious and community leaders, which did the lovely work housing and feeding 400,000 displaced people from Northern Adamawa and Borno states in 2015. The API also did the extraordinary work of easing tensions between Muslims and Christians during that period and ensured that both groups did not turn on one another based on suspicion.
“As widely reported by the local and international press, in the premises of St. Theresa’s Cathedral where Rev Mamza ministered, there were more than 1,500 IDPs, mostly women and children on whom the church administered food rations and issued bags of maize, cooking oil and seasoning. We are truly touched and very grateful for the work that the Bishop and the others had done in that difficult period.
“Now that Boko Haram has been degraded, the more than 400,000 displaced people absorbed by the Adamawa community have all gone back to Borno State and to those council areas in northern Adamawa.”
“In addition to the capital,Yola, the towns of Michika, Madagali and Mubi, which had been occupied by Boko Haram during their military advances, have since been retaken by the Nigerian military, whose personnel are also clearing litters of Boko Haram’s carnage and are, through the support of the administration as well as local and international partners, rebuilding roads and bridges, power lines, burnt schools, markets, destroyed churches and mosques.”
Claiming further credits, the Presidency said the North-East fared better under Buhari in terms of security of lives and property.
It added, “Without an iota of doubt, the North-East is better off with President Buhari than it was under the previous administration. That should explain the massive turnout of voters in the region, in spite of threats to life and property, to vote for the return of the President for a second term of four years.
“Sadly, one of the realities of today’s Nigeria is that it is easy to blame President Buhari for the violence all around us. Community leaders are too scared to blame the warlords and the sponsors of killings we live with because they fear for their own lives.”
On the recent inter-communal and religious clashes in parts of the country, the Presidency noted that the leaders in such communities were to blame by failing to expose the perpetrators.
It explained, “What is happening in several communities racked by inter-ethnic and religious violence is arising from the refusal of community leaders to point at known criminals in their midst for the law enforcement agencies to act against them. They rather blame President Buhari for their woes.
“It is indeed an irony that in the week that Bishop Mamza was speaking, another Bishop with a known commitment to peace, and results to show for his work in neighbouring Plateau State, is being dispatched to go to Taraba, Adamawa and Benue states to work in collaboration with security agencies in mending broken inter-communal relationships.
“This senseless violence can never be condoned by the administration and we sympathise with the families of those who lost loved ones as well as those injured. The administration’s intense security efforts and peace building will not only continue, but will expand in response to such explosions of violence in the country.”
Brazil Rally Back to Win U-17 World Cup
Brazil staged a remarkable comeback for the second time in a week on Sunday to beat Mexico 2-1 in front of their own fans and win the Under-17 World Cup for a fourth time.
Just three days after they recovered from being 2-0 down to beat France 3-2 in the semi-finals, Brazil scored two goals in the last 10 minutes to overcome their Latino rivals.
Although Brazil had more of the early chances, Mexico took the lead at 66 minutes when Bryan Gonzalez rose between two defenders to head a cross from the left into the net.
Kaio Jorge equalised from the penalty spot with six minutes remaining after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) advised officials to pull playback following a challenge on Veron.
Then three minutes into stoppage time, substitute Lazaro ran on to a cross ball and calmly fired home, to the delight of the home crowd.
The Flamengo forward had also come off the bench to score the winner in Thursday’s last-minute win over France.
“They use the VAR when it is convenient for them,” said an unhappy Mexican coach Marco Ruiz. “We had the game under control until the VAR decision. They grew after that.”
The win was revenge of a sorts for Brazil, who lost 3-0 to Mexico in the Under-17 final in 2005, as well as to their Under-23 team in the final of the 2012 Olympics.
Earlier in the day, Arnaud Kalimuendo-Muinga scored a hat trick to help France come from behind to beat the Netherlands 3-1 and take third-place.
Dutchman Sontje Hansen won the golden boot for the top goalscorer with six goals.
Bayelsa Guber: APC Dislodges PDP in Massive Landslide Victory
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State, Chief David Lyon, has emerged the winner of the governorship election held on Saturday.
Lyon, who won in six of the state’s eight local government areas, defeated his closest rival, Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Diri won in two local governments.
Lyon’s victory marks the first time the PDP would lose a governorship election in the state since the nation returned to democracy in 1999.
The Chief Returning Officer, Prof. Faraday Orumwense, had after he released the result of the Ekeremor Local Government Area, which was the last being expected by INEC on Monday night, promised that the final result would be made public before 1am on Monday.
Orumwense made good his promise as he announced that Lyon polled 352,552 votes to defeat Diri, who polled 143,172 votes some minutes after 1am.
Lyon was declared winner in six out of the eight local governments announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission at the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu Media Centre in the state commission’s headquarters in Yenagoa, the state capital.
The six local government areas won by the APC are Brass; Nembe; Ogbia, Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor and Yenagoa while the PDP won in the Sagbama and Kolokuma/Opokuma local government areas.
Theatres of War: Four Killed in Kogi, Violence Rocks Bayelsa
The Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship elections as well as the Kogi West senatorial rerun were on Saturday characterised by violence, shootings, killings, vote-buying and ballot box snatching as many polling units across the two states experienced tension created by political thugs.
Four people were killed in Kogi during the election by political thugs while many were injured in Bayelsa where peace took flight as a result of electoral violence.
The Commissioner of Police in Kogi State, Hakeem Busari, had before the elections assured residents of the state of the safety of their lives and property as adequate personnel would be drafted for the polls.
The elections commenced on a peaceful note across the state as there was a large turnout of voters with the electorate, mostly women trooped to the various polling units as early as 6.30am in Kogi.
But in spite of Busari’s assurance and voters enthusiasm, mayhem broke out in some polling units in Kogi East, Kogi West and Lokoja, the state capital.
Two persons were also reportedly killed by stray bullets at the Adankolo polling unit in Lokoja.
Sunday PUNCH gathered that the incident happened when some hoodlums tried to snatch ballot boxes at the polling unit.
Eyewitness said the two persons were killed when voters resisted the thugs. The thugs, it was gathered, killed the two persons while a passerby sustained a life-threatening injury from gunshot wound.
This angered the youth who mobilised and set the house of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in the area ablaze.
When the state police command was contacted, its spokesperson, DSP William Aya, said all enquiries should be directed to the Commissioner of Police in the state Commissioner of Police.