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Withdraw Your Budget Padding Allegation, It’s Careless, Irresponsible – Saraki Tells Tinubu

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President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has challenged the  National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to prove that he has padded the national budgets since   2015.

Former  Lagos State governor Tinubu in a statement on Sunday accused  Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, of padding national budgets since they came to power.

“National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them,” Tinubu claimed in the statement.

“Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefited the average person. After four years of their antics, halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly.

“He (Saraki) planted himself at the apex of legislative power. But his actions as Senate President showed a man devoid of compassion for the average Nigerian. All he cared for was power and position.”

But in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, on Monday, Saraki slammed the allegation as “careless, irresponsible and callous”.

The former Kwara State governor challenged Tinubu to prove the allegation or withdraw it.

The statement said, “In all the three budgets already passed by the National Assembly, we challenge Tinubu to make a specific reference to where  Saraki and the leadership of the National Assembly ‘sought to pad with pet projects’ as he alleged.

“Tinubu should be graceful enough to substantiate this allegation. We consider that allegation careless, irresponsible and callous. We, therefore, demand that he withdraw it.”

Olaniyonu described  Tinubu’s statement as “another of his now well-expected quarterly vicious attack” on  Saraki.

He added, “Since we have taken it for granted that Tinubu’s attack on Saraki every three months will come as expected, we would just have ignored his statement but for the fact that it was filled with untruth, fallacies and misrepresentations. The statement was another effort to sell a concocted narrative about the 8th  National Assembly and its leadership.

“To further make the points here clear, we invite  Tinubu to look at the records of the time of  the submission of  the budgets and their passage since 2010 and he will see that, with the exception of the 2013 budget, which was passed on December 20, 2012, all the budgets were passed between March and May of the same fiscal year.

“This    should give him a better understanding of the fact that the date the Appropriation Bill is submitted to the parliament and the readiness of the MDAs to defend the proposals submitted as well as a  timely agreement on the figures by both chambers of the National Assembly are the main determining factors when the budget is eventually passed. So, Tinubu should see that the facts cannot support his spins and fake narrative.”

Saraki faulted Tinubu’s criticism of the leadership of the 8th National Assembly, insisting he and other leaders of the upper chamber were democratically elected.

The statement said, “It is because they are the choice of their colleagues that they have remained in office for the past 46 months despite  the plots hatched by anti-democratic, reactionary and fascist elements pretending to be ‘progressives.”

It added, “In fact, Tinubu should know that if there was any mistake made on June 9, 2015, it was the miscalculation by himself and his cabal in the APC who felt they could decide for the senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect. When they failed after their grandstanding that they could always get whatever they desired, they resorted to undermining the institution of the legislature and waging a campaign of calumny against the lawmaking body.”

Saraki’s aide also accused Tinubu of attacking his principal due to his belief that the APC chief frustrated his ambition to be President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in 2015 as well as his presidential ambition in 2023.

The statement said, “It is obvious his arbitrary and tactless interference in the process of the emergence of the leadership of the 9th National  Assembly is already falling through. The frustration from this experience might have been responsible for this needless and baseless outbursts.”

It added, “A situation where  Tinubu is dictating to elected legislators and ordering them to either comply with his directives or get out of the party will not augur well for the legislature in the next dispensation. History should have thought him that only leaders that truly enjoy the support of members can help the President and his administration to achieve their objectives.

“It is a good development that the candidates for the various positions are already reaching out to their colleagues and forging alliances. We can see that after he realised that he has misfired, he is trying to retrace his steps.”

Meanwhile, an aspirant to the House Representatives speakership, Mr Mohammed Bago, has urged Tinubu to allow the best aspirant to get the job.

Bago in a statement on Monday by spokesman for the Bago Campaign Organisation, Mr Victor Ogene, said, “Not too long ago, in 2015, when Tinubu tried to foist the same mentee of his as Speaker. In spite of the rational voices of caution by many stakeholders, many have been left wondering if the enforcement effort was at the instance of President Buhari and the party.

“Although a greater portion of the statement centred on his probable scheming for the 2023 presidential election, real or imagined, our concern revolves around the oblique reference to loyalty as the basis for his decision to stand by his adopted (son) as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.”

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Gbajabiamila Threatens to Report Service Chiefs to Buhari for Shunning Security Meeting

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Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, berated the nation’s military Service Chiefs for allegedly refusing to appear before the House to offer explanations on the security situation in the country.

A visibly disappointed Gbajabiamila, who described their action as an insult to the National Assembly, promised to report the matter to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Gbajabiamila noted with dismay that the act of shunning the invitation of the National Assembly by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and the Chief of the Air Staff (CAF), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, was uncalled for.

The Speaker, who declined to meet with representatives of the Service Chiefs, directed the affected military officers to appear before the House on Monday morning.

He commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar Adamu; the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi and the Comptroller General (CG) of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, who were present at the meeting.

Gbajabiamila described the conduct of the Service Chiefs as a sad development since all arms of government were supposed to work in unison for the development of the country and the benefit of Nigerians.

He said: “Let me first of all commend Mr President for the commitment he has shown in trying to stem the spate of insecurity in the country. Mr President has to have people he would delegate those powers to as the Commander-in-Chief as dictated by our constitution.

“Mr President has delegated those powers to the Service Chiefs, so we decided to call this meeting, as representatives of the people. Let me commend the Inspector General of Police for being here personally. Let me also commend the DG DSS and the CG Nigerian immigration for being here.

“Let me say, as a House, as an institution, I cannot understate my disappointment or our disappointment that the rest of the Service Chiefs are not here.

“Again, like I said, we called this meeting because it was inevitable. It was important. You can see members from Borno State here. There is a crisis in Borno State right now.

“We wanted to hear from the Service Chiefs to know what was going on, how the House can help and what the problems are as well as what are the challenges; to talk about strategy, to talk about what we need to do.

“I’m sure you really didn’t expect the House to fold its arms while people in Maiduguri and other parts are being killed. There is migration now from local councils in Borno State to Maiduguri. Here we are, we called the Armed Forces coordinated by the CDS, who is not here with Service Chiefs being represented. I’m actually at a loss.

“For me, I believe my colleagues are in tandem with this. The Service Chiefs — the CDS, the COAS, the CNS and the CAS — are not represented as far as we are concerned. I’m sorry, when I said not represented, as far as I’m concerned, the heads are not here, the Service Chiefs are not here. I know one or two of these Service Chiefs were somewhere yesterday night. I am aware of that.

“I can almost say it shows a disdain for this institution. The budget is on its way. Yes, we need to talk about that. What do you need? What is required? I’m almost embarrassed. To tell you the truth. I’m almost embarrassed.”

The Speaker added: “There was no call placed to my office to explain why. I’m just seeing accountants and representatives. So, I’m not sure how to handle this, because I don’t think this is happening anywhere in any Parliament that I know of in the world, where the head of parliament will call the Service Chiefs for a nagging problem, how to resolve it and you have what we have here as representations.

“So, I think it’s important that we might need to postpone this meeting to Monday morning. I will personally see the President myself.  We are supposed to work together as a body, but it shows lack of seriousness apart from the disdain on Parliament. It shows that this is not as serious to the level that we believe it is. Unfortunately, this meeting can no longer hold.”

In his terse remarks, the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, described the development as an insult to his person and the institution of the legislature.

“In strong terms, I condemn those who have deemed it fit not to be here. As far as I’m concerned, as the Chairman of a Committee, I never attended to any agency in the absence of the chief executives and the accounting officers, and I know that these Service Chiefs are the accounting officers in their various agencies. It is our practice, tradition and I am insulted.”

After the remarks, the Speaker postponed the meeting to Monday morning. Present at the session were some principal officers of the House and chairmen of relevant security committees.

The Guardian

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FG Slams Sowore with Treason Charges, Accuses Him of Insulting Buhari

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The Federal Government on Friday filed seven counts of treasonable felony and money laundering against the Convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore.

Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters and a presidential candidate in the February 2019 presidential election, is charged along with Olawale Bakare, also known as Mandate.

The charges were signed on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), by Aminu Alilu, a Chief State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The charges were filed a day before the expiration of the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja permitting the Department of State Service to keep the activist for 45 days.

The detention order elapses on September 21.

In the charges instituted against the defendants, the prosecution accused Sowore and his co-defendant of committing conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of section 516 of the Criminal Code Act by allegedly staging “a revolution campaign on September 5, 2019 aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

The prosecution also accused them of committing the actual offence of reasonable felony in breach of section, 4(1)(c) of the Criminal Code Act, by using the platform of Coalition for Revolution, in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, to stage the #RevolutionNow protest allegedly aimed at removing the President.

It also accused Sowore of cybercrime offences in violation of section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, by “knowingly” sending “messages by means of press interview granted on Arise Television network which you knew to be false for the purpose of causing insult, enmity, hatred and ill-will on the person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

It also accused Sowore of money laundering offences in breach of section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 by alleged transferring by means of swift wire.

The sums of money he was said to have been involved in the alleged transfers were the sums of $19,975 on April 2, 2019; $20,475 on May 21, 2019, $16,975 on June 27, 2019, and another $16,975 on July 16, 2019.

The DSS arrested Sowore in Lagos on August 2, 2019, following his call for revolution in a protest he organised to take place in some major cities on August 5.

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Atiku Breaks Silence, Gives Reasons for Heading to Supreme Court

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 23, 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, on Friday said he would appeal at the Supreme Court the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to ensure that votes of Nigerians count.

In his first official statement after President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress defeated him at the tribunal, he also said he believed he would get justice at the Supreme Court.

Atiku said, “Nothing good comes easy; and hard as the task to rid Nigeria of the forces of fascism and be an instrument for the full restoration of the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria is, your support makes the struggle worthwhile.

“I owe so much to this great land of Nigeria that took me from the streets of Jada, where I sold firewood to the heights I have attained, by God’s benevolence, in the civil service, in corporate Nigeria and in public service.

“If I do not play my part in making it possible for other orphaned children, indigent youths and the less privileged, to replicate and even surpass my path to significance, I would have failed my maker. If I do not ensure that the ladder I climbed remains accessible to those at the bottom, middle and top tiers of society, I would not have fulfilled my purpose.

He added, “And only by ensuring that democracy is not just done but seen to be done can Nigeria and Nigerians have a sense that this dear land is indeed a land where unity, faith, peace and progress reside.

“Yes, those who do not want this as Nigeria’s reality will use every trick in the book to undermine, discourage, misinform and mislead, but with God’s help and the support of Nigerians, we will ensure that Nigeria makes a course correction away from tyranny and towards democracy.

“We must return to being Africa’s bastion of democracy, where the rights to freedom of speech and freedom after the speech are guaranteed. We must stand together to pursue this just cause all the way, so that our judiciary is not afraid to do its job and has to be wary of blackmail, intimidation and victimisation.”

The Punch

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