THE recent threat by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, to start attacking mosques and Islamic leaders appears to be unpopular. The South-South leaders’ forum said the threat by a faction of MEND was regrettable and condemnable. In a statement issued by Edwin Clark, in Abuja on Wednesday, April 17, the leaders urged security agencies to properly investigate the sources of the publications and expose the masterminds.
Besides, the South-South leaders called on security operatives to redouble their efforts in protecting places of worship for both Christians and Muslims to frustrate the plans of unscrupulous elements. “I will like to state that these threats are obviously, the handiworks of mischief makers hiding under the cover of some bogus and faceless groups that are known by many to be non-existent,” Clark said.
Speaking on the same issue, Asari Dokubo, a former leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, NDPVF, has cautioned the MEND, stressing that such attack could lead to a religious war in the country.
Dokubo, who renounced violence through the amnesty granted the Niger Delta militants by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, said any form of religious war or crisis would be inimical to the collective existence of the country.
In an interview with State House correspondents in Abuja on Monday, April 15, Dokubo said the consequences of such an action would spell doom for the country. “I want to say that there is no religious crisis in Nigeria and nobody should try to throw Nigeria into a religious crisis that will be far reaching; the consequences will be far reaching” he said.
Committees on Boko Haram, Small Arms
The federal government set up a 26-member committee on amnesty on Wednesday, April 17, in a renewed effort to resolve the Boko Haram. This came barely 24 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan met with the nation’s service chiefs to consider the details of the report submitted to him by the committee earlier set up to consider the merit or otherwise of granting amnesty to the Islamic fundamentalist group.
The President also constituted a 17-member committee on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in keeping with his pledge to the United Nations, UN, to stem the tide of the dangerous spread of small arms and light weapons and their use in creating instability in various parts of the world including Nigeria.
Rueben Abati, special adviser to the President on media and publicity, said while briefing State House correspondents on Wednesday, that the decision to name the panel headed by Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, SAN, minister of Special Duties, was informed by President Jonathan’s determination to ensure the issue of insecurity was finally resolved in a just and constructive manner.
Prominent members of the Boko Haram amnesty committee include Bolaji Akinyemi, a professor and former minister of External Affairs; Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State; Shehu Sani, a Kaduna-based civil rights activist; Abubakar Danso Sodangi, and a former chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Others are Abubakar Danso Sodangi, secretary to the Borno State Government; Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, a retired permanent secretary; Musa Shehu, a retired colonel and secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF; Sheik Ahmed Lemu; Mohammed Nur Alkali, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri; Datti Ahmed and Sheik Abubakar Tureta.
Also on the committee are Zakari Ibrahim; Naja’ átu Mohammed; Malam Adamu S. Ladan; Joseph Golwa; A. I. Shehu, air vice marshal; R.I. Nkedirim; DIG P.I. Leha, a deputy inspector-general of Police; Salihu Abubakar; Abubakar Sani Lugga; Ibrahim Tahir; Ibrahim Sabo, a brigadier-general; Bilal Bulama, a group captain and a representative of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF.
However, Shehu Sani, a human rights activist and Ahmed Datti, president of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, have both rejected to serve on the committee. Sani said he was neither contacted nor informed about the committee, while Datti, who rejected the appointment barely 24-hour after Sani made his own announcement, said he not sure of the government sincerity in tackling the Boko Haram menace.
The committee on small arms and light weapons has Emmanuel Imohe as chairman. Other members are Martin Uhomoibhi; T.D. Hart; Ghali Umar; B.G. Wakil; Opelusi Olureti; representatives of the ministries of Interior, Justice, Defence; National Security Adviser, NSA; Defence Intelligence Agency, DIA; State Security Service, SSS, National Intelligence Agency, NIA; Nigeria Police Force, NPF, Nigerian Customs Service NCS; and the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, OSGF. The Director of International Organisations Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the secretary to the committee.
Both committees will be formally inaugurated by President Jonathan at the Council chambers of the Presidential Villa Abuja, on Tuesday, April 24.
Ten-year Jail Term for Pension Thieves
Federal Government wants any person or organisation convicted of mismanagement and embezzlement of pension funds to spend at least 10 years behind bars. This was contained in a proposed bill President Goodluck Jonathan forwarded to the National Assembly on Wednesday, April 17. The bill read in part: “Any Pension Fund Administrator or Pension Fund Custodian or person or body, who misappropriates or diverts pension funds, commits an offence under this Act.
“The individual or group will also be liable on conviction to a fine of an amount equal to three times the amount misappropriated or diverted, or to a term of not less than 10 years or both the fine and imprisonment.” The bill also instructs the Accountant-General of the Federation to make payment of retirement benefits directly into individual bank accounts of retired persons covered under Section 5 of the Act. Details of such payment should be submitted to the Commission and the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory established under Section 42 and 44 of this Act respectively. The President’s letter, read on the floor of the Senate, urged the lawmakers to urgently consider and enact the pension reform bill.
Warming Up for 2015
Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), former head of state and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change in the 2011 presidential election, wants another chance to run in the in 2015 presidential election.
Addressing the CPC north-West zone Contact and Mobilisation Committee in Kaduna, on Wednesday, April 17, Buhari said he would not disappoint Nigerians if he was given the mandate to lead in 2015. He also promised to transform the country positively.
Buhari stated that the country is in a mess because the elections of 2003, 2007 and that of 2011, lacked fairness and credibility. He blamed the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the nation’s poor development, saying the party had almost ruined the country. He, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to support the opposition parties’ merger initiative to wrest power from the PDP.
Jonathan Guessing Game
For now, it appears, President Goodluck Jonathan wants to keep his 2015 presidential ambition to himself. Perhaps, for the umpteenth time, President Jonathan, said again on April 17, that he was yet to take a decision on whether or not to seek the 2015 presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Reacting to a newspaper publication that the President had set up a 21-man committee to strategise on his bid for the 2015 presidential election, Rueben Abati, special adviser to the President on media matters, said it was a tissue of lie. Abati’s statement said in part: “This is totally untrue and without any basis in reality. As he has truthfully declared on several occasions, President Jonathan has not yet taken a decision on whether or not he will seek re-election in 2015 and has therefore not mandated any individual, committee or organisation to start working on his behalf for the 2015 elections.”
He said the President would like “to be left alone to focus on delivering on his promise of good governance and national transformation without unnecessary distractions should be respected.” He attributed the speculations on Jonathan’s re-election bid as the work of political jobbers and some collaborators in the media.
— Apr. 29, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT