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Buhari rejects Amnesty reports, gives ministers one week to submit ENDSARS reports

Benjamin Ukpabi

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The President Muhammadu Buhari has given ministers one week ultimatum to submit reports of their consultations with their constituents on the ongoing #ENDSARS protests which had been hijacked by hoodlums thereby resulting in a state of lawlessness in different parts of the country.

Recall that President Buhari had at last week’s Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting told the Ministers to go and interface with their constituents in a bid to stop the looting and burning of government and private properties by hoodlums as aftermath of the protest against police brutality.

It was gathered that President Buhari has given the cabinet members one week to turn in their reports on their town hall meeting with their consultants.

The Presidency Thursday rejected the report of Amnesty International alleging that the report on the Lekki shootings was skewed.

The Presidency said the Amnesty International cannot have more facts about things happening in the country than the President

Speaking at the Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, disputed the allegations that the looting and rioting was not caused by the military shootings, insisting that there was already violence in some parts of the country before the Lekki incident.

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Fielding question that the looting was a fall out of the Lekki shootings, Adesina said, “You are not quite correct. You are falling for the narrative of Amnesty International. And Amnesty is wrong. Anarchy had broken loose before even Lekki. The prisons in Benin and Oko had been broken open before Lekki. Orile police station had been burnt before Lekki.

“Many policemen had been burnt before Lekki. So, you cannot say it was Lekki that precipitated all those things. Look at the timelines, look at all those things. You will discover that it had happened before Lekki. So, you are falling for the gambit of Amnesty International.

“Amnesty International does not have all the facts, they don’t run this country, they shouldn’t know beyond what they have been told. They shouldn’t know more than you and I should know as media people as watchers of developments.”

Asked if it was the President’s thinking that Amnesty’s report was wrong, Chief Adesina alleged that Amnesty International was in the habit of making unsubstantiated reports about Nigeria.

According to him, “Many times, the military has come out to dispute facts brought out by Amnesty.”

When asked whether President Buhari approved the military action in Lekki as the commander-in-chief, the presidential Spokesman said he would not want to undermine the work of the panel of inquiry looking into the matter.

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Speaking on the directives to ministers to visit states to douse tentions in their respective states, Adesina said: “I can tell you because there was another Federal Executive Council meeting yesterday (Wednesday), the president asked for briefs from ministers who went out. Only two had their reports ready as at yesterday because some others were still in their respective states still carrying out their assignment.

“So, the president said all of them should turn in their reports through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the incoming week.”

Asked what to expect out of the reports, Adesina said: “Well, it can only be positive.

“One, it will help us to establish the truth to something’s because there are a lot of conjectures, colourations, outright falsehoods, fake news and all that. The ministers can come with what is near authentic based on the consultations they are going to make.”

The Water Resources Minister Sulaiman Adamu, had during a courtesy call to Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State in Dutse, disclosed that ministers were directed to meet with stakeholders to explain federal government’s efforts to meet the demands of the youths.

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He had said that the cabinet members were directed to “go to our states to solicit the support of political, traditional, religious and community leaders against the violence that emanated from # EndSARS protests.”

Adamu had said he was therefore in the state to meet with leaders on “promoting tolerance, peace and stability in this critical moment and hear from them and report back to him (Buhari) immediately.”.

Adamu had also acknowledged that the #ENDSARS protests started well and was in line with the Nigerian constitution only to be hijacked along the line by those who infringed on the rights of other citizens, killed innocent persons, looted and engaged in other criminal acts.

He said: “President Muhammad Buhari is soliciting the support of all other political leaders in the state to properly address the people of the state on the need to dispel any rumour that is tantamount to creating disunity among Nigerians and also throw the nation into crisis.”

The Minister of State for Power, Prince Jedy-Agba was in Cross River State few days ago with his constituents on the matter.

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Boko Haram terrorists are our Muslim brothers, shouldn’t be killed like pigs: Minister Pantami

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s communications minister Isa Pantami once condemned Nigerian Army’s incursion into Boko Haram strongholds, describing the insurgents as “our Muslim” brothers who did not deserve to be killed like pigs.

“See what our fellow Muslim brothers’ blood has turned to? Even pig blood has more value than that of a fellow Muslim brother,” Mr Pantami lamented in a sermon issued a few years ago when former President Goodluck Jonathan ramped up military operations against the rampaging terror sect.

Peoples Gazette obtained the audio through an anonymous contact on Thursday night. The location of Mr Pantami’s sermon and those who attended could not be immediately obtained, but the words, nonetheless, contradicted his recent claims that he had long maintained a hardline posture against Boko Haram.

Mr Pantami’s media allies have also been on an image laundering blitz to cast him as a moderate preacher who has been widely celebrated for his longstanding contempt for Boko Haram. Mr Pantami also joined his supporters to amplify a threat issued against him by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, evoking it to dismiss insinuations of his sympathy towards terrorists as counter-intuitive.

But in the February 2020 video, Mr Shekau appeared more frustrated by what he saw as Mr Pantami’s betrayal in becoming a top government official after spending years preaching Salafi doctrine than he was about the minister’s purported condemnation of Boko Haram’s deadly exploits.

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Mr Pantami has long been famous across northern parts of Nigeria as a respected Islamic cleric. He used most of his preachings to rail against the government’s high-handedness, and Peoples Gazette published a video on Thursday that showed him promising never to go into public service. The sermon was delivered in the mid-2000s, years before Mr Buhari appointed him in 2016 as the head of NITDA and later in 2019 as a cabinet minister in charge of communications.

“We are praying to God to answer all our prayers. It’s our right and obligation before all Muslim leaders, politicians, government appointees, academics,” Mr Pantami said in his prayers. “All of us should not fold their arms and watch helplessly how they shed our Muslim brothers’ blood and cheat them in vain.”

Mr Pantami said Boko Haram elements should have been treated with dignity as against the deadly military campaign, saying extermination of insurgents amounted to extrajudicial killing.

 

“Even if the Boko Haram fighters commit a crime, but can we justify the way and manner they are being killed?”

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“Just look at how they are killing people as if they are shooting pigs even though they commit a crime, why the extrajudicial killing? Take them before the law for a fair trial.

“You caught someone sleeping and you killed him. If it’s not Muslims that undergo such treatments who else?” Mr Pantami said.

The minister also said the previous administration should have pampered Boko Haram insurgents in the same manner as the Niger-Delta militants. Unlike Boko Haram that has been on senseless bloodshed against Nigerians of every faith and creed, the militants were fighting for a better share of oil wealth explored and extracted from their parts of the country.

After about three years of their violent campaign, which largely involved frequent abduction of expatriate oil workers and exchange of fire with security forces, the militants acquiesced to economic solutions and relinquished their arms in a deal brokered by former President Umar Yar’Adua.

But Mr Pantami disregarded the context of both groups and instead took a parallel position on how the government should respond to them.

“The Niger Delta people did something similar to this. They massacre people, steal weapons, killed expatriates and kidnap some of them,” Mr Pantami said. “Yet, you still accept them back, open a ministry for them, gave them a minister and put them on a monthly salary pay without work.”

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“The militants did more harm compared to what Boko Haram boys did,” the minister said. “But why will they do something like this? Why selective justice?”

 

The audio was part of a series of controversial sermons which Mr Pantami delivered at several worship centres and learning institutions across the northern parts of the country between the mid and late 2000s. The Gazette obtained the audio this week, most of which had already been transcribed and contextualized by an academic journal published online since March 2019.

Calls have now intensified for Mr Pantami to either publicly renounce his statements or step down from office, with some activists arguing that his position as a federal minister in charge of citizens’ data and the country’s telecoms infrastructure had become untenable.

As part of our series, The Gazette reached out to Mr Pantami repeatedly to learn whether or not he had renounced his controversial views but he declined all requests.

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Rapper CDQ Arrested by NDLEA For Being in Possession of Drugs, Currently Under Investigation

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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The Nigerian Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has confirmed that rapper CDQ was arrested for being in possession of a banned substance popularly known as ‘loud’.

The NDLEA confirmed on Thursday through it’s Director for Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, that CDQ was arrested in his Lekki home on Wednesday night.

He was that after being detained for some hours, CDQ was subsequently granted bail and was asked to return to the anti-drug law enforcement agency for further investigations.

The agency said it had an anonymous tip that the artist was in possession of cannabis which is illegal and they swung into action to make the arrest, adding that the rapper also mentioned some other big artists in the industry who use the illegal drugs.

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Yes, CDQ was arrested in his house at Lekki for being in possession of cannabis. He was arrested based on intelligence.

“As of last night, he was granted administrative bail, but he is expected back into custody today because it is an ongoing investigation. Some substances were found and he mentioned some names of some other big artists. So, it is an ongoing investigation.”

Babafemi further noted that the outcome of the investigation would determine if the rapper would be charged to court or counselled by the agency.

The outcome of the investigation would determine what would happen. There are cases whereby the investigation shows some sufficient infractions, and then the case will go to court.

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“There are other cases whereby if the quantity is insignificant, we will bring him in for counselling and possible rehabilitation. Those are likely scenarios that will happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, CDQ has taken to Instagram to react to the incident which he hinted that he must have been framed up.

“No sleep for the wicked. Iyalaya yin o ni sun for dis Lagos.They tryna set me up today but Olohun wa.” He wrote.

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Hunger, Hardship Bites Hard As Kidnappers, Bandits Now Demand Foodstuffs as Ransom

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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The current economic reality being faced by Nigerians may have spread to the forests where criminal elements reside as kidnappers and bandits now demand bags of rice, cartons of noodles, bread and other food items as part of the conditions to free their captives.

It has been revealed that the level of deteriorating security situation bedeviling the entire nation at the moment may not be unconnected to the current hardship in the land birthed by high cost of living as prices of essential commodities in the market have continued to skyrocket.

Recently, abductors of some residents of Kiyi and Anguwar Hausawa community in Kuje and Abaji area councils of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, told members of the families of their hostages to include food items in the ransom.

Some of the items demanded by the kidnappers included bags of rice, noodles, spaghetti and cartons of seasoning cubes.

According to a relative of one of the victims who identified himself simply as Joshua, the items were taken along with N1.5 million as condition for the release of each abductee.

Findings revealed that all the families of the eight people who were kidnapped alongside a Pastor of the RCCG, in Kiyi had to purchase foodstuffs and condiments for the kidnappers as demanded.

According to Joshua, “Other family members did the same thing before their kidnapped relatives were released.

“If you fail to buy those things and take only the cash to them, they will collect it and still hold the victim until you get the foodstuffs for them.”

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Similarly, late last year, families of those kidnapped from Ushafa in Abuja were instructed by the kidnappers to include 30 loaves of bread, 40 packets of cigarettes and other items. This was done alongside the payment of ransome before the victims were released.

This trend has stimulated reactions from concerned Nigerians as some have blamed the bandits and Fulani militias for making farming activities difficult for farmers across the country which according to them, has resulted in food crisis.

Some believe that the inability of governments in all levels to attend to the plights of the citizens particularly in the area of job creation, has plunged the entire nation into unimaginable hardship which may have been extended to criminal elements in their various hideouts.

A resident of Kaduna State where scores were recently abducted by bandits, Ijanebu Odeh, traced the trend to lack of job opportunities which has triggered unbearable hunger in the land.

According to her: They are doing that because of the situation of the country. Imagine how employers are sacking their workers, leaving them with frustrations and hunger, to even get a job in this country now, one needs connection and when you don’t have the connection, then there’ll be no job for you.

“Those kidnapping and demanding foods for ransom are hungry. They are people that think of how to feed their belly and those of their families too.

“No working class person or a businessman will just decide to go into kidnapping because he/she has money to provide whatsoever they need.

“Just of recent here in Kaduna, El-rufai sacked so many local govt workers, leaving them jobless and most of these workers have families to cater for.

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“So you see, the Govt is not trying at all and they are the cause of all these kidnappings. They should provide jobs for the youths because not everyone is good at business and there is the need to do something concerning the country’s poor economy.

“It’s not that there’s no money but our leaders have decided to take all the money to themselves and their family members.”

Meanwhile, Simon Bameyi, a radio presenter who spoke with DAILY POST correspondent via telephone interview was of the view that poisoning the food items before handing them over to the Kidnappers, would be a better way of eliminating them.

He said: “It’s cool. Let’s poison the food and give them. Kidnappers killed a police officer in my area yesterday and abducted no fewer than four people.

“In fact, since this year, this place has been their abode. They also deserve to die so whenever they demand for food items, it should be poisoned.”

Similarly, Aguredam Keghter Moses,
State Coordinator Africa Youth Union Commission, Benue State Chapter, lamented how prices of food items have skyrocketed in the market.

“Do you know how much foodstuff is in the market now? Bandits are not allowing farmers to go to farm. This has created hunger and poor supply of foodstuffs.

“If not hunger what else could make kidnappers to demand for foodstuffs? They prevented farmers from engaging in their usual farming activities and now they are also facing the reality and the repercussions of their actions”.

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Also, an educationist in Makurdi, the Benue State Capital told DAILY POST correspondent in an interview that the country is currently “about survival of the fittest”.

According to him, “Kidnappers asking for food as ransom! As hilarious as it might sound, it just exposes us to the current reality of things in the land. It’s about survival of the fittest and in this case, the kidnappers are holding firm because one is beginning to wonder why there is this sudden rise in cases of kidnapping and banditry.

“There’s hunger in the land, universities keep churning out thousands of graduates yearly with no employment opportunities, farmers and herders crisis is persisting daily, families are losing their means of livelihood. This sudden food for ransom is a clear departure from the norm. This is simply an act of desperation for survival.

“The government of the day needs to sit up because it is in this same country in 2020 that foods meant for the poor as palliatives were stored and not given to the masses even when there was hunger ravaging the land.

“They shouldn’t forget that desperate situation calls for desperate measures or like Sound sultan said ‘one day, the bush meat go catch the hunter’. A word is enough for the salacious”.

Meanwhile, when contacted for comment on the way forward, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mbah was unable to take his calls and could not respond to text messages forwarded to him.

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