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I’m Not Sleeping on Duty, Buhari Replies Catholic Bishop

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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.”

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Maina: Court Grants Ndume Bail

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to the Borno South Senator, Ali Ndume, who has been detained in prison since Monday over his suretyship for Abdulrasheed Maina believed to have jumped bail.

Justice Okon Abang in a ruling on Friday said he chose to grant the senator bail based on his record of good behaviour before the court, notwithstanding that the other grounds of his bail application failed.

The judge granted bail to the senator pending the hearing and determination of Ndume’s appeal filed at the Court of Appeal to challenge Monday’s order sending him to jail for his inability to produce the fleeing Maina.

He ordered the senator to produce one surety who must be a resident of Abuja and present evidence of ownership of property anywhere in Abuja.

According to the judge, the surety must also depose to an affidavit of means to indicate his readiness to forfeit the bail guaranty should the senator jump bail.

The judge also ordered the senator to deposit his passport with the Chief Registrar of the court.

He also ordered the lawmaker to file an undertaking that he would compile records of appeal and transmit it to the Court of Appeal within 10 days, a way the court wants him to demonstrate his readiness to prosecute his appeal.

Maina, a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, is being prosecuted by the EFCC on charges of money laundering involving N2bn.

On November 18, 2020, Justice Abang revoked the bail granted him, ordered his arrest, and directed that his trial would proceed in absentia.

The judge also on Monday remanded Ndume in prison until he produced Maina or paid the sum of N500m bail bond to the Federation Account.

Ndume, through his lawyer, Marcel Oru, had on Tuesday filed an appeal against the remand order at the Court of Appeal, along with an application for the bail of the defendant filed before Justice Abang.

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Trump Gives Condition to Vacate White House

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United States President Donald Trump says he will relinquish power if the Electoral College affirms Democrat Joe Biden’s win but he signals he may never formally concede defeat, Bloomberg reports.

The 74-year-old Republican candidate, who lost his re-election bid, also declined to say if he would  attend Biden’s inauguration next year, as is the custom for an outgoing president. “I’ll be honest, I know the answer, but I just don’t want to say it yet,” he said, adding that it is “not right” that Biden has begun picking a cabinet.

Trump fielded questions from reporters on Thursday for the first time since his election defeat, speaking at the White House after a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the military.

When asked by reporter gathered at the White House’s diplomatic room if he would physically leave the building should the Electoral College affirms Biden’s victory, Trump replied, “certainly I will, and you know that.” But he swiftly maintained that there was “massive fraud and massive rigging” in the election, insisting that the court cases challenging the election outcome will continue.

Trump was further pressed on whether he would ever acknowledge defeat but said it would “be a very hard thing to concede,” even if the Electoral College confirms Biden’s victory. “If they do, they’ve made a mistake,” he said. “This election was a fraud.”

The Electoral College electors in each state are due to vote on December 14. Certificates recording the electoral vote results in each state must be received by the president of the Senate no later than December 23. Biden is certified as the winner, or leading, in states totaling 306 electoral votes, well above the victory threshold of 270, while Trump got 232 electoral votes.

Trump further noted that he was running out of time to present evidence of the massive fraud he was sketching out – a signal that the evidence may never come.

He also acknowledged that the whole world is watching what becomes the fate of American democracy. “The whole world is watching and the whole world is laughing at our electoral process,” he said.

Trump, however, declined to say if he would seek the presidency again in 2024, as has been widely rumoured. “I don’t want to talk about 2024 yet,” he replied.

The PUNCH had earlier reported that major world leaders including those from China, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany and other European as well as African States congratulated Biden and his vice-president-elect, Kamala Harris, after US cable networks projected the two winners of the keenly contested election.

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Sultan Laments Free Operation of Bandits in North, Says Region Worst Place to Live

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The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, on Thursday lamented the high rate of insecurity in the North, saying it was the worst place in the country  to live.

The Sultan, who stated this at the fourth  quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council in Abuja, said bandits were fast overrunning the North as residents  slept  with their eyes open.

The meeting had as  its  theme, ‘Questioning for peace in the challenges of insecurity and COVID-19’

While describing the North as the worst place to live, he said that bandits had  become daring.

He said  they moved  from house to house, village to village, market to market, with AK-47 rifles  openly, purchasing foodstuffs and other items and even collecting  change without any challenge from the security agencies.

The foremost traditional ruler stated  that the security system in the North had completely collapsed.

He said, “Security situation in Northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation. Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there with  the governor to commiserate with the affected community.

“Unfortunately, you don’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the North. We have accepted the fact that the North does not  have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits.

“People think North is safe but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country because bandits go around in the villages, households and markets with their AK 47 and nobody is challenging them.

“They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed. These are facts, I know because I am at the centre of it.

“I am not only a traditional ruler, I am also a religious leader. So, I am in a better place to tell the story. I can speak for the North in this regard because I am fully aware of the security challenges there. We have to sincerely and seriously find solutions to the problem, otherwise, we will find ourselves soon, in a situation where we would lose sleep because of insecurity.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Ignatius Kaigama, outlined a code of conduct for both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

He said, “We Christians and Muslims must avoid imposing our religious views on others or denying them public amenities, jobs or influential positions because they don’t belong to our faith.

“Merit, not the vigour of our religious piety or affiliation should determine all we do or get in this country. We should not unjustly or corruptly deprive others of their rights, not to talk of wounding or killing anyone for economic or partisan political interests or because of blind religious zeal.

“It is preposterous that Nigerians clamouring for their rights and privileges from government would turn their anger on religious institutions by attacking Churches and Mosques, instigating Christians and Muslims to turn against one another or to destroy public amenities and infrastructure

“We understand that the budget for national and state security is huge. Let us not deceive ourselves that the bigger the budget the more peace will flow. Weapons don’t bring peace.

What we need is a change of attitude, a conversion of heart; an objective appraisal of the religious or ethnic indoctrination we perhaps were subjected to in schools or at home. If we are only propelled by religious interests that exclude others we shall always remain in chaos and darkness.

The President, Christian Association of Nigeria and co-Chairman of NIREC, Dr Samson Ayokunle, while thanking God for saving the nation from the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to other countries, urged government to always tackle problem before it degenerated.

He asked the government to quickly reverse the recent decision to hike the price of electricity and fuel.

Ayokunle said, “That’s not what we send them to do for us. The decision, evidently, has added to our pains and they should reverse it as quickly as possible.

“The development that led to #EndSARS protest was quite unfortunate, and one of that development is police brutality which ought to be addressed before now.

“We have never witnessed such a mass action in Nigeria before. People were frustrated and because those in power didn’t respond appropriately until it degenerated to that level.

“But attributing the actions of the angry youths to a particular religion or ethnic group is insincere and unsafe. No religious group was exempted from the effect of the protest. The action was a spontaneous action that cannot  be attributed to any religion or ethnic group.”

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, regretted that the nation was still faced with insecurity despite the government’s efforts.

“Today, despite all efforts including the deployment of enormous resources, our country still faces a measure of insecurity which is impacting negatively on our economy, social life, education of children and young persons, investment and remains a threat to lives and livelihood,” he said.

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