FG Sets Modalities for National Conference

THE proposed National Conference is to hold for at least three months. The federal government, which released modalities for the conduct of the conference on Thursday, January 30, said 492 delegates would be nominated between January 30 and February 20, to participate in the conference. Anyim Pius Anyim, secretary to the government of the federation, SGF, who addressed the press in Abuja on the matter, said those to nominate the 492 delegates were the president, states and local governments, traditional rulers, political parties, retired civil servants, organised private sector, selected associations and professional bodies, civil society organisations and other stakeholders.

On the nomination of delegates, Anyim said the president would nominate elder statesmen, one per state and the federal capital territory, FCT, making 37. The president is to appoint chairman, vice-chairman and secretary of the conference which will hold in Abuja.

But stakeholders would be responsible for the nomination of their delegates from other walks of life.

Anyim said the national conference would discuss all subject matters, except divisibility and dissolubility of Nigeria as a nation. According to him, decisions at the conference shall be by consensus and, where not achievable, it shall be by 75 per cent majority. At the end of the three months, the SGF said, the conference would decide whether there would be a referendum on its decision or not.

“The National Conference shall advise the government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the national conference into the Constitution and laws of the country,” he said.

To ensure that the conference does not interfere with the programme for the 2015 election, Anyim said the president would nominate delegates for any state that failed to nominate delegates before the time specified.

FG to Spend N1.5 Trillion on Police Reforms


THE federal government is to spend N1.5 trillion to reform the Nigeria Police Force in the next five years. President Goodluck Jonathan who disclosed at a two-day retreat on “Sustaining Nigeria Police Reforms”, organised by the Police Service Commission, in Makurdi on Thursday, January 30, said 60 percent of the money would be provided by government, while the remaining 40 percent would come from the private sector including non-governmental organisations.

Represented by Bala Mohammed, minister of the federal capital territory, FCT, Jonathan said government was committed to build the capacity of the police force in the country through ongoing reforms. He assured that the government was committed to equipping the police for enhanced performance. The president thus, urged the police commission to build a police force that would be impeccable and committed to ensuring the security of all Nigerians.

He disclosed that the federal government had accepted the recommendations of the committee on police headed by Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State and would soon issue a white paper on it. Jonathan advised participants at the retreat to contribute meaningfully to the topics, noting that such recommendations might help the government to tackle rising cases of insurgency in the country.

275 Boko Haram Suspects Regain Freedom


TWO hundred and seventy-five persons of those arrested by the police in Rivers State on the suspicion of being members of Boko Haram, the dreaded Islamist, were released on Wednesday, January 29.

Sam Ukaula, deputy commissioner, State Criminal Investigation Department, told reporters in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, that 19 of those arrested were being held for further interrogation.

Ukaula said the 19, whose mission in Port Harcourt was not clear, included an illegal immigrant from Niger Republic. One of them, he said, had spent ammunition on him. The arrest of the suspects travelling in buses on the Rivers–Imo border has generated a lot of controversy, prompting members the House of Representatives ordering a probe into the arrest. But the police boss said the interception of the vehicles and arrest of the occupants was necessitated by information to Mbu Joseph Mbu, the state commissioner of police, that a great number of the killer squads had been dispatched to cause havoc on Port Harcourt residents.

He explained that the action of the Police was meant to nip the intended trouble in the bud. He absolved the police of political connection. The suspects were arrested on Sunday, January 26, morning at the boundary between Imo and Rivers states, in a convoy of 17 buses from Jigawa State. They were held at the state CID until they were screened and freed.

My Conviction was Political — George


OLABODE George, former national deputy chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is basking in the euphoria of his acquittal from corruption charges by the Supreme Court of federation. Speaking after a thanksgiving service to celebrate the judgement, George said his trial and eventual conviction were political conspiracies aimed to cripple the PDP in the South-West and to get him out of political activities in the country.

In absolving him of any wrongdoing, the Supreme Court judgement that set aside the lower court’s verdict over his alleged contracts splitting case, said all that transpired under his leadership as the chairman of the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, were guided by the long standing administrative circular which was still in use by the authority. George noted that even Nuhu Ribadu, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, once acknowledged that his trial and conviction were politically motivated. “Even Nuhu Ribadu in his heydays at the EFCC boldly stated that whatever problem was at the NPA was a systemic issue and not fraud,” he said.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by Mike Onolememen, minister of works, acknowledged that George’s victory would help the PDP to win the South-West during the next general elections. President Jonathan said that no Nigerian should be allowed to suffer what George suffered by going to jail without committing any offence. “He did not commit any crime known to law. But God was with him. He has been vindicated and people should celebrate with him. He is not tired and he will contribute to building the nation. Please celebrate with him and members of his family because he is finally free. With Bode, PDP will take over South-West,” he said.

— Feb. 10, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT