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The Board of Dia-mond Bank Plc, has announced the appointment of Mr. Uzoma Dozie  as Managing Director/Chief Executive following the  voluntary resignation of  Dr. Alex Otti, from the bank Friday. The appointment of Uzoma is subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In an official statement released by the Bank’s Corporate Communications Department, Chairman of the Board of Directors, HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, Obi of Onitsha, announced the changes in management.
“Dr Alex Otti is a fine gentleman with an outstanding career in the Nigerian Banking industry. We are pleased with the time he spent at the helms of affairs of Diamond Bank Plc and wish him every success in his future endeavours,” Igwe Achebe added.Speaking on the outgoing GMD/CEO, the chairman said he would be sorely missed, adding that Dr. Alex Otti’s achieved enviable landmarks during his time. He described his tenure as, “the brightest years of Diamond Bank’s 24 year-history”.

Under Dr. Alex Otti’s stewardship, Diamond Bank made a remarkable return to profitability and has continued to record  growth across all performance indicators year-on-year.

After writing off toxic risk assets which resulted in the loss of N16 billion in 2011, the Bank posted a profit before tax of N28.36 billion in 2012 and N32.5 billion Naira in 2013.

The Bank also saw its total assets rise from N564.9 billion in February 2011 to N1.18 trillion by December 31, 2012 and N1.52 trillion on December 31, 2013.

He is credited with creating the office of the Chief Risk Officer and designating an Executive Director to head the department.

 

 

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President Goodluck  Jonathan on Friday congratulated Super Falcons on their qualification for Saturday’s final of the 2014 African Women’s Football Championship in Windhoek, Namibia, and next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

He equally charged the Nigerian women national team to beat Cameroon in the final and come home with the trophy.

This was contained in a statement by Jonathan’s spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati.

 

 

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Former deputy National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (South), Senator Annie Okonkwo has rejoined his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Okonkwo in statement made available to after he was given waiver by the PDP to run for Senate, said he left APC because the platform did not observe internal democracy.
Okonkwo who represented Anambra Central senatorial under PDP between 2007 and 2011 after taking his seat in the Senate, was appointed to committees on Upstream Petroleum Resources, Police Affairs, Environment (vice-chairman) and Agriculture.
According to him, “I am now a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, the platform where I was elected to represent the people of Anambra Central senatorial district in 2007 and I am also contesting the senatorial election on the platform.”
Indigenes of Dunukofia, Anaocha and Awka North Local Government Areas all in Anambra Central senatorial district, had unanimously endorsed the reelection bid of Okonkwo to represent the zone in the Senate.

A stakeholder of the party in the district, the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the council, Mr. Okechukwu Ekemezie, who said they decided to adopt Okonkwo because he distinguished himself among others vying for the position in the zone even before his election into the Senate in 2007.

And because of Okonkwho’s achievement while in the Senate, Ekemezie said the 19 wards chairmen in Anaocha Local Government Area, Adazi-Ani I, Adazi-Ani II, Adazi-Enu I, Adazi-Enu II, Adazi-Nnukwu I, Adazi-Nnukwu II, Agulu I, Agulu II, Agulu III, Agulu IV, Aguluzigbo I, Akwaeze I, Ichida I, Ichida II, Neni I, Neni II, Nri I, Nri II, Obeledu I and others stakeholders reached an agreement of adopting Okonkwo as the candidate of the party.

 

 

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The coroner’s inquest constituted by the Lagos State Government to investigate the circumstances which led to the collapse of a six-storey building in which many lives were lost at the Synagogue, Church of all Nations ,at Ikotun area of Lagos, has fixed November 5 for the founder of the church, Prophet T.B. Joshua, to appear before it.

The inquest headed by Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe insisted that Joshua must appear before it to give a first-hand testimony about what happened during the building collapse.

“The court has summoned him; let him come and tell us what he knows. The court has said that for the purpose of what we are doing that he should come over,” Komolafe said.

The coroner’s inquest was constituted under the Lagos State Coroner’s System Law No. 7 of 2007 to investigate the causes and circumstances of the collapse of the building on September 12 that killed about 115 people, and bring its findings and recommendations to the appropriate authorities.

Komolafe had led a team of interested parties to the scene of the incident last week to have a first-hand understanding of the incident, adding that the visit would assist the inquest in reaching its findings.

On Friday, the coroner’s inquest also heard from two witnesses from the Lagos State Fire Service and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Adebayo Musiliu Olayinka and Bamidele Wasiu.

The Lagos State Fire Service representative, Musiliu, who said he has 34 years experience in rescue operation, told the court that there was nothing to suggest that the accident occurred as a result of explosion.

The witness, under cross-examination by the counsel to the church led by Mr. Jude Nnadi (SAN) said though he was not an expert in building construction but the survey he conducted immediately he arrived at the scene of the collapse did not depict any sign of explosion or implosion.

The second witness, Wasiu, who is LASTMA Zonal Head for Ikotun/Ejigbo told the inquest that his agency was only responsible for managing the heavy traffic that occurred during the collapse incident.

Present at the sitting were representatives of Nigeria Aviation Management Authority (NAMA), Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Red Cross, the Nigeria Police, Lagos State Fire Service, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).

Others were South Africa High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Louis Mnguni; Consul General, Ambassador Mokqethi Monaisa and a relative of one of the building collapse victims, Ifeanyichukwu Osondu.

The Coroner while adjourning to Tuesday, October 28, ordered that the names of all guests who were in the building at the time of the collapse must be submitted to the court to enable the Chief Pathologist of Lagos State to identify the bodies and return the remains to their families.

 

 

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Ekiti State Gover-nor, Mr Ayo Fayose yesterday stunned the people of the state when he swore in as a judge of the state the man who in 2006 headed his impeachment panel.

Fayose equally announced the promotion of an official of the state Ministry of Justice,Mr Lawrence Ojo who signed his warrant of arrest papers at Ikoyi Prisons during his murder case to position of Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry.

Speaking during the official swearing in ceremony of Justice Bamidele Omotoso, the governor said he went against some of his supporters who felt he should take his pound of flesh.

Omotoso,an Ado Ekiti based legal practitioner, was cleared by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to be made a judge in the state but was refused to be sworn in by the regime of Dr. Kayode Fayemi led government.

Fayose said the inauguration of Omotosho as a judge after two years of being cleared for the post by the National Judicial Council, was a demonstration of a forgiving spirit.

“Few days after my inauguration, some people came to me and reminded me of the role played by Omotoso during my impeachment saga. They said I should not swear  him in as a  judge of the state High Court

“I am not here to revenge,vengeance belongs to God.

“If you want to report anybody to me bring the person here,otherwise I will invite the two of you.”

At the ceremony which was attended by the state Chief Judge,Justice Ayodeji Daramola and the Speaker of the state House of Assembly,Fayose stretched hands of friendship to the legislator and judiciary.

“I plead with the other two arms of government that  Ekiti should come first. You may not like my face and I may not like yours, but Ekiti should be number one.”

“I am ready to work with the Assembly. I am a man of uncommon history, coming back to office after eight years is divine. I have a stern warning from God, do not avenge.

There is nothing personal I have against the judiciary.

People would want to be where you are and life is about struggles. We need more judges and we will help in making them comfortable in the discharge of their duties.

There is need for fair hearing. I want the other arms of government to give my administration a fair hearing and the chance to perform,” he said.

Omotosho, in his remarks, promised to abide by his oath of office and thanked the governor for the appointment.

 

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The game of politics is, indeed, full of intrigues. Power players are at it again, scheming and strategizing on how to pull it through in the 2015 general elections. And Rivers State is not left out in the whole of this. Since the inception of democracy in 1999, Rivers had always been controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) until the incumbent governor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and literally took PDP’s fortunes in the state to his newly found love, the APC. This is one reason why the PDP in Rivers must play by the rule to get its acts together to win the state back. Pundits believe that for this to happen, the zoning formula of the party between the Upland and Riverine areas of the state must be respected.

Rivers State is a multi-ethnic state. For instance, Ikwerre, Ibani, opobo, Okrika, and Kalabari, Etche, Ogba, Ogoni and other tribes are rooted in the state. Rivers State is politically zoned into Riverine area and the Upland area. In all fairness the Riverine people are yet to have a taste of governorship seat since 1999. This is evidently clear in the chronicle of past and present governors of the state.

Dr. Peter Odili was elected in 1999 as the governor of Rivers State. At the end of his second tenure in 2007, his cousin, Celestine Omehia, succeeded him. He was later removed by the court and the incumbent governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was brought on board. You can now see that for fifteen years ago, the Riverine people have remained marginalised in terms of power sharing. Yet this is a tribe of people that has contributed immensely to the socio-political development of the state. Although this was to be the PDP’s undoing in the past, the party must now go back to the drawing board to cash in on the current agitation of the Riverine people to produce the next governor and right the wrongs of the past. It is able to that, it will have taken the bold step towards reclaiming the state.

Like in many other states of the federation, politicians of various stocks in Rivers are aspiring to govern the state. The ones whose interest may make or mar the polity in Rivers in 2015 include Dump Lulu-Briggs, Nyesom Wike, Magnus Ngei Abe, Sam Sam Jaja, Kenneth Ibikari Dublin-Green, Tonye Princewill and Nimi Walson Jack. Others are Larry Hallison, Emmanuel Georgewill, Pawiriso Samuel-Horsefall and Dakuku Peterside.

Political analysts in the state and beyond believe that among this list of aspirants, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs stands out tall and bright, owing to his political antecedents and pedigree.
He has been described as a mature and impeccable leader that has passed through almost all the tests of life which have equipped him for the task ahead. It is, therefore, pertinent on the people of Rivers, especially PDP state delegates to give their support to Chief Lulu-Briggs in the party’s forthcoming primary election. They should throw their political weight and might behind him to enable clinch the party’s governorship ticket. It will not only be in the interest of Chief Lulu-Briggs, but I also in the interest of the PDP, because it will be judged on the scale of fairness and justice.

The voice of the people, they say, is the voice of God. Today Lulu-Briggs stands before the good people of Rivers who are in the best position to determine whether or not he is qualified to lead them. What is more, he appears to have paid his dues and now truly deserves the place of honour and service among his people as the executive governor of Rivers State.

Chief Lulu-Briggs’ aspiration to contest the governorship of the Rivers State has been adjudged to be timely and a wise decision; what one will ordinarily described as the right step in the right decision. The shakers of Rivers politics are optimistic that Lulu-Briggs will usher in a dynamic and purposeful change and development in the state. He will also bring his wealth of experience to bear on his leadership style. He was a member of the Rivers State Economic Advisory Council for four years.

His aspiration aspiration to lead the people out of their political woods date back to 1992, when he contested for the House of Representatives under the platform of the Social Democratic Party. In 1999, he also contested against Dr Peter Odili. The people are the true judge to determine whether Lulu-Briggs has washed his hands properly before the king and elders and can now sit among men of timber and calibre. In other words, the verdict of the public means a lot and does speak volumes. And this is why the PDP in Rivers must respect the verdict of the people.

His success story:

Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs is a lawyer by training. He attended Ahmadu Bello university, Zaria where he graduated with LLB (Hons) degree in 1985. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in October 1986 and obtained a masters degree (LLM) London in 1987 from the prestigious London School of Economics(LSE). He did his National Youth Service at the Institute of Legal Administration, Katsina State Polytechnic, Katsina, from 1988-1989. He has attended local and international seminars and conferences in the course of his practice and he is a member of the Nigeria bar association (NBA) and the International Bar Association (IBA). He has also attended several leadership courses at Harvard, Cambridge and the Southern Methodist University, SMU, Dallas, Texas

● He piloted and coordinated the activities of Moni Pulo Limited, an indigenous, independent oil and gas exploration and production company as the general manager & pioneer Executive Director/COO from 1998 to 2004. He is currently the Managing Director of DLB Concerns Ltd; Immediate past Chairman, Governing Council, Maritime Academy of Nigeria; Current Chairman, Management Board of Federal Medical Centre, Owerri; and Chairman, Platform Petroleum Limited.

He is an astute entrepreneur, a grassroots politician and mobilizer. Recipient – Best Parastatals Board Chairman of the Year 2010 by the International Publications Limited (Publishers of The International Maritime Digest); Recipient – Distinguished Nation Builders Merit Award (DINBMA); Member- Rivers State Economic Advisory Council, 2007-2011, Member, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorers(NAPE); Fellow – Institute of Corporate Managers & Public Administrators of Nigeria. He is a member of several social and cultural clubs like The 1st Association of Nigeria, Kengema Mina Ogbo of Abonnema and Nyemoni Awo of Abonnema.

He is a well acknowledged Giver and Philanthropist and regularly visits The Children Home, The Cheshire Home, Home For The Elderly, and The Home For Street Kids in Port Harcourt, with cash gifts, foodstuff, toiletries, etc and has donated huge Generators to some of these Homes, and often donates equipment and musical instruments to several churches. Gives grants to women to start small trades, and pays for vocational training for young men and women in Computer Skills, Fashion Designing, Craftsmanship. Regularly gives scholarships to indigent students from Rivers State across the 23 LGAs. Most of the beneficiaries of his philanthropy he may never know. He gives financial assistance to persons with different health challenges including sponsorship of major surgeries locally and abroad. He gives grant to widows and to women.

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SELF-acclaimed Secretary General of Boko Haram, Mallam Danladi Ahmadu, has blamed armed robbers and hired assassins among other criminals, who he said  had infiltrated the terrorist group for breaching its cease fire agreement with the Federal Government, saying that the agreement is on course.

Ahmadu spoke in an Hausa Service programme of the Voice of America, VOA, monitored in Yola, Adamawa State, yesterday. Ironically, Boko Haram has killed over 12,000 people, kidnapped many young girls and women, attacked and looted homes and banks in the last four years.

However, Military sources said that the intelligence reports in their possession indicate that  Boko Haram was plotting deadly attacks across the northern part of the country.
had plans to further carry out the same pattern of attacks in Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, apart from Plateau, Benue and Niger states, using several fronts and disguises in a bid to create serious instability in the country.“Boko Haram is planning simultaneous and co-ordinated  attacks in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Gombe and Taraba states, the sources said, pointing out that the Islamic group

“We are in receipt of intelligence reports heralding simultaneous attacks across the north with the aim of bringing the region down at a go. They intend to make it wide and to stretch us beyond capacity with deadly attacks across the north. We are in receipt of other details about their fortified capacity and movement across Mali, Niger, Libya, Somalia, Cameroon and Chadian axes to get us on all angles.

“Many confessions of those we arrested at different battle zones and entry points into the country corresponded with the intelligence reports at hand,” the sources said.

We’ll finalize cease-fire agreement on Monday –B/Haram

However, Boko Haram’s  Ahmadu stressed that the final meeting between the group and the Federal Government to finalize the ceasefire agreement has been scheduled for Monday in Ndjamana, Chad to be supervised by the Chadian leader, Idriss Derby.

He stressed that the Chibok girls would surely be released on Monday to the Chadian President, Idriss Derby for onward presentation to the Nigerian government.

According to him, an enlarged meeting of the group has been fixed for the weekend to prepare ground for the Monday’s meeting with the Federal Government, even as the final ceasefire and the release of the Chibok girls remain promises that will surely be fulfilled by the group.

He further said that the Federal Government was in close consultations with Boko Haram over arrangements for the Monday meeting in Chad, pointing out that all things being equal, the issue of confrontation between the Nigerian military and the insurgents or vice verse would soon be a thing of the past.

On the latest kidnap of over 40 women and girls in the border villages of Adamawa and Borno states, Ahmadu maintained that as far as the Boko Haram was concerned, it was not aware of the incident, pointing out that although the matter was being investigated, the latest kidnap incident or attacks were carried out by many anti-social groups that had infiltrated Boko Haram.

Ahmadu stated that political thugs, armed robbers, kidnappers, hired assassins and other anti-social groups now parade themselves as members of the sect, but quickly added that if the cease fire agreement was sealed all the groups would fizzle out.

Last week, the Federal Government announced a cease fire with Boko Haram following agreement that the abducted Chibok girls would be released but the hopes were dashed about 48 hours later when suspected members of the sect carried out fresh rounds of attacks killing several Nigerians and abducted another set of 50 women and girls in Adamawa and Borno states. The abductors reportedly freed the old women among the captives and married off about 40 girls.

 

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Nigeria, has been elected as a member of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council.

The election took place at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly, in New York, United States of America.

Nigeria, alongside 14 other countries, were elected to serve on the Council for a period of three years, beginning from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2017.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system with responsibility in the strengthening of promotion and protection of human rights around the world.

The Council’s responsibility also include addressing situations around the world, as well as making recommendations on human rights violations across the world

Made up of 47 United Nations member states elected by the United Nations General Assembly, the Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly on March 15, 2006, by resolution 60/251.

Other elected countries include Albania, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ghana, Latvia, Netherlands, Paraguay, Portugal and Qatar.

Similarly, Bolivia, Botswana, Congo, India and Indonesia whose terms were due to expire at the end of the year were re-elected.

A statement by the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations made available to Daily Sun in New York, said in one round of secret balloting, Nigeria had 187 votes from the 192 valid ballots at the election.

The statement signed by the Mission’s spokesman, Dr Tope Adeleye Elias-Fatile, added that with the new development, by 2015, Nigeria will be occupying seats simultaneously at the United Nations Security Council and at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Therefore, Nigeria will be involved in series of intense activities in both councils in the coming year,” the statement said.

Held on geographical representation, Ghana, Botswana and Congo were also elected, making Nigeria and the three countries African representatives occupying the four African seats at the council in the stipulated period.

 

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Barely 24 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan declared his intention to contest next year’s presidential election, prominent Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh  Ahmad Gumi, has warned him against the move.

The Islamic scholar believes that Jonathan is guiding Nigeria into chaos and turmoil whose end he said is only known to God.

In a letter he posted on his facebook account, Sheikh Gumi said: “Mr. President, what I heard from people who are close to you, you are humble with a soft heart. But still, humility is never enough for effective leadership.

“Leadership is about listening and taking good advice from people of wisdom, not from those that benefit from you or have any agenda other than the unity and progress of this nation.”

The full text of the letter is as follows:

“Mr. President,

“We have never met despite the fact that we were all born and we lived for more than half a century in this great vast country, Nigeria. It’s here we all grew up and were educated, and I presume except by divine prudence, it’s here that we will all be buried.

“So, what truly matters is the legacy that we will bequeath to our children and the next generation of Nigerians to come. We will not want it a burnt country with hundreds of thousands dead, maimed or displaced because of the thoughtlessness and recklessness of its stewardship.

“Nigeria today is a single railway line with two heavily loaded trains heading towards each other from opposite directions. You’re the driver of the heavier train, and please do not think that even a cart on the railway cannot derail you with great catastrophe to humanity.

“You need to come out of the cocoon and face the reality. Denial of the truth can never solve problems.

“Mr. President, from what I heard from people who are close to you, you are humble with a soft heart. But still, humility is never enough for effective leadership. Leadership is about listening and taking the good advice from people of wisdom, not from those that benefit from you or have any agenda other than the unity and progress of this nation.

“The mantle of the leadership of this country was given to you under oath. Almost four years ago, you swore to protect ‘the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“You said: ‘I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions, and ‘I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will’

“Unfortunately, many people, including me, believe you broke some of your oath. I’ll only need to refer you back to the honest open letter advice you were given by your political godfather. You appear more Ijaw than Nigerian.

“It’s seldom fathers will deceive their children. Yet you never listen. And sadly, by your recalcitrance, you are dangerously leading this nation to chaos and turmoil that only God knows where it will end.

“Muslims have officially registered to you on occasions your partiality. Northern groups have complained about your bias. The youth about your neglect.

“You have divided the nation gravely on the religious divide. Already, we heard a call in a church that you are now a saviour. Now, not of Nigeria but the church in Nigeria. With this religious zeal on both sides, each side looking at the wrong people for salvation, the nation is heading towards disaster.

“My fellow countryman, it’s unfortunate that your stand on many issues have made you into a polarizing figure while the exalted office you occupy needs a nationalistic one.

“Surely with the Christian votes and northern PDP followers you can win another election. But you will also set the nation into another turmoil because that segment of the nation that rejects you do so because they believe rightly or wrongly you are involved negatively in the Boko Haram saga.

“ The natural thing any good leader will do in this situation is to step down for a person all the segments of the nation will have confidence in for their well-being; a credible person that will not stir apprehension. The decision is not about your rights but about responsibility.

“Therefore, as you pray in the Holy Land, seek for God’s indulgence to show you the light of honour and do the right thing. It’s God’s command that Nigeria stay united and ‘what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder’.

“A word of wisdom says: ‘He who consults is never disappointed and he who seeks God’s choice never regrets.’ So, please don’t brush it aside; call men of wisdom to advice you too.

“I, for a start, I am hereby candidly advising you to relinquished your presidential ambition because of peace, stability and well-being of millions of innocent Nigerians. There are many politicians that can ‘finish’ it on your behalf. The PDP can present Akpabio or Obi or Orji, etc.”

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Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, is to head the planning committee for the extraordinary convention of the All Progressives Congress meant to amend the party’s constitution.

Inaugurating the 19-member committee at the party’s national secretariat, the National Chairman of the Party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, said that the committee was expected to oversee the constitution amendment as well as other activities leading to the convention to select its presidential candidate.

Speaking after the inauguration, Governor Yari assured that the committee will successfully carry out its mandate of ensuring the amendment of the party’s constitution to pave way for a successful convention to pick candidates for the Presidential election as well as other offices.

He said: “The mandate given to us as far as the committee is concerned is to ensure that the organisation is done to ratify the amendment of the sections of the party’s constitution so that we can have a successful convention.

“As party members, we will work 24/7 to see that the party achieves its aim.”

Members of the committee include the National Secretary of the party, Mai Mala Buni; former Gombe State governor, Senator Danjuma Goje; Senator Ajayi Borrofice; Hajiya Aisha Rufai Ibrahim; Alhaji Bala Borodo and Hon. Temi Harryman.

Others are Dr. Anyim Nyerere; National Organising Secretary of the party; Sen. Osita Izunaso; the National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the National Welfare Secretary of the party, Dika Umaru Lada.

The committee also has the six zonal National vice chairmen from the South-South, South-East, South-West, North-Central, North-West and North-East as members.

Former Bayelsa State governor, Chief Timipriye Silva, is to serve as the committee secretary.

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Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, yesterday unfolded his agenda, saying that he would build on the foundation laid by Governor Babatunde Fashola, SAN, and his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

He promised to preside over a government of continuity, which will promote accountability, quality leadership, good governance and equal opportunities for all Nigerians, if elected as the next governor.

Ambode said: “Lagos is my state and you are my people. I shall work to serve you. I shall never do less. Here and now, I dedicate myself to this task. I shall not flinch nor lose focus.”

The former Accountant-General and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance declared his intention to run for the number one seat at a carnival-like rally at the Onikan Stadium, Onikan, Lagos.

“It was witnessed by notable traditional rulers from the five divisions of Lagos State, Muslim and Christian clerics, friends and associates, and party supporters from 20 local governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).

At the rally were party chieftains, including Pa Abiodun Sunmola; Pa Alabi Macfoy;  the Chairman of ‘Conference 57, Hon. Akeem Sulaimon Pris; House of Representatives members-Alhaji Yakubu Balogun, Dr. Sanuel Adejare, Hon. Toyin Suarau, Hon. Morouf Akinderu-Fatai, and Hon. James Faleke; former Agriculture Commissioner Asipa Kaoli Olusanya; Hon. Paul Kalejaye; former members of House of Assembly Hon. Obafemi Durosimi and Babatunde Ogala; Hon. Bolaji Ariyoh; Chief adeola Oyedele; Primate Dare Akindele and Mr. Rotimi Martins.

Others include Mrs. Teju Phillips; Hon. Segun Adetola; Dr. Fola Fosudo, and a retired Permanent Secretary, Dr. Femi Onanuga.

The representatives of the Muslim Community was led by Imam Olubodun Gbajabiamila, who stood for the Chief Imam of Lagos, Imam Garuba Akinola. Other dignitaries include the three wives the Eleko of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu-Olori Fadeke, Olori Titilola and Olori Olanike.

Wide endorsement

Gbajabiamila, who rendered the opening prayer, reflected on the challenges of governance, saying that Ambode is competent to succeed Fashola. He said: “Ambode has been assessed by the Oba of Lagos, Oba Akiolu; the Chief Imam of Lagos, Alhaji Akinola Garuba and the political leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. We pray that he will excel in the office.”

No fewer than 60 traditional rulers and chiefs were at the venue. They included Oba Babatunde Ogunlaja of Noforija Epe; the Alagege of Orile-Agege, Oba Ambaliu Agbedeyi; the Onitire of Itire, Oba Lateef Dauda; the Onitedo of Itedo, Oba tajudeen Elemoro;  the Olu of Ojokoro, Oba Oluwalambe Taiwo; Oba Ayinde Balogun of Isheri;  the Onibeju of Ibeju, Oba Rafiu Saliu; the Olorogun Ado of Lagos, Chief Waheed Yesufu; Chief Lateef Ajose; Chief Muideen Shobalu; Chief Tunde Temionu, and former Chairman of Kosofe Council, Hon. Tunde Braimoh, who was the master of ceremonies.

From sunrise, the stadium was aglow with festivities, with ace musicians, Wasiu Pasuma and Olamide, and popular comedians, Mr. Babatunde Omidina (Baba Suwe), Mr. Lamidi Opebe and Mr. Ojo Arowosafe (Fadeyi Oloro), thrilling the crowd.

“Banners of different shapes welcomed the party faithful to the venue. Itinerant drummers ushered in party leaders and other eminent persons to the high table.  The event, which lasted for five hours, was peaceful.

Enter the host

Around 10.40 am, the aspirant stormed the stadium with a large crowd that followed him from his residence. Decked in a white agbada with a blue cap to match, he waved the broom to the jubilating crowd, dancing and singing.

He was led to the podium by Pa Summola and presented to the people by Hon. Oris, who reiterated the support of the 57 council chairmen for his ambition.

Oris said: “Tinubu started the journey to modernity in Lagos. He was succeeded by Fashola, the actualiser. Today, we present Akinwumi Ambode. Lagos requires a financial wizard to continue from where Fashola will stop next year. He will do better.”

Excited at the huge crowd of supporters, Ambode exuded confidence, saying that it attested to his popularity and acceptance by Lagosians, following his state-wide consultations.

He said: “In recognition of this support, I, Akinwumi Ambode, in your presence and in the presence of God, formally put myself forward to run for the position of the governor of Lagos State.  I make this declaration with the highest sense of responsibility. I am putting nyself forward because I belive I have the qualities required to continue the giant strides which our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has achieved in Lagos in recent years.

 In his speech titled Continuing the Progress, Securing the Future, the Epe born politician said having witnessed 15 years of growth and development under Asiwaju Tinubu and Fashola, Lagos State deserved a governor that would build on their achievements.

He said: “I stand before you today in the spirit of the continuity of excellence that Lagos is known for. My vision and mission is to create a clean, secure and prosperous Lagos State driven by a vibrant economy and supported by quality service, equity and justice.

“I am resolved to offer you genuine leadership that will be accountable with all the principles of good governance, a government of inclusion that will not leave any race or gender behind. No matter your age, sex, tribe of any other status, as long as you reside in Lagos, we will make Lagos liveable for you.”

Ambode promised to implement the APC blueprint on wealth and job creation, in consonance with its agenda for change and prosperity for Nigerians.  He said stakeholders, including the aged, widows, artisans, students, children, the physically challenged and professionals, will be carried along by his administration.

He added: “For corporate Lagos, Lagos is open for business, even for greater business. We have the political will to move Lagos to the next level. We are going to face our challenges by ourselves. Nobody is going to do that for us. With our collective will, we will overcome them.”

Gazing at the party primaries and general elections, he said: “I call on Muslims, Christians and people of other religious persuasions to come out en mass and ensure we vote in a candidate that has the interest of Lagos and Lagosians at heart. A candidate that is passionate about Lagos. A candidate that truly understands the needs of the ordinary people. I am the candidate.”

Ambode also said that his administration will not discriminate against any tribe or ethnic group.

He said: “Lagos is the most cosmopolitan state in Nigeria and there is no room for discrimination. Whether you are Igbo, Efik, Ijaw, Hausa, Fulani, a foreigner, whoever you are, so far you live and work in Lagos, our government will work for you and you will be adequately represented.”

Urging Nigerians to also support the push for power shift at the centre, the politician advised Lagosians to mobilise their families and relations in and outside the state to vote the APC in next year’s election.

Firing salvos at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he added: “We are tired of transformation without motion. In their kind of transformation, the more they brag about, the less we see things transformed. And God will help us.”

Ambode paid tribute to patriots who have served Lagos meritoriously. He said Lagosians will not forget the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Asiwaju Tinubu and Fashola. He urged them to also vote for a new governor who will lead the state to greater prosperity in next year’s election.

Ambode added: “I stand before you today as the bridge between the elderly and the youth. I hold before you a beacon that summons us all to building together a more prosperous Lagos. I have the competence, experience and determination to lead Lagos State to greater economic heights and prosperity. I ask for your support and your votes that will send me to Alausa to continue my tradition of selfless service to this great state.”

Testimonials

Ogala, Olusanya and Temionu, who spoke, shortly before the declaration, attested to Ambode’s competence, urging delegates to vote for him at the primaries.

Ogala said: “I was privileged to work with him as a legislator when I was a member of the House Committee on Finance. I found him to be very committed. A perfect gentleman. He has a good pedigree. He is educated. He went into the civil servie and became a permanent secretary.

“In tose days, when the local governments were starved of funds by the Federal Government, the councils survived the onslaught because of the financial wizardry of Ambode under the leadership of our able leader, Tinubu. For Lagos to continue to grow, we need Ambode.”

Olusanya said Ambode will get the highest number of votes at the primaries and the general election from the six local governments in Ikorodu Division. He described him as a “techno-politician”, who has garnered experience in grassroots politics as a civil servant in the local government and civil service.

The former commissioner added: “Ambode kicked off his career in Lagos as a waste disposal agent. He moved to the local government as a treasurer. He moved to the civil service and through creative financial engineering, the state survived when the Federal Government moved against the local governments.

“ On behalf of the six Ikorodu local governments, I tell you that Ambode will have the votes of delegates. He will get 85 per cent of the votes from Ikorodu.”

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The Board of Diamond Bank Plc has announced the voluntary resignation of the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Alex Otti, from the bank. The board said Mr. Uzoma Dozie, will take over from him, subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Data obtained from LinkedIn, a global social networking site, showed that Dozie was prior to yesterday’s appointment the Deputy Managing Director of the bank. He ascended that position in April. The new Diamond Bank boss has a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Chemistry  from University of Reading, United Kingdom.

In a statement, the bank’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe (Obi of Onitsha), announced the changes in management.

He said Dozie’s appointment was in recognition of his extensive managerial capabilities and wealth of banking knowledge. He also added that it was in consonance with the bank’s succession strategy.

There were earlier speculations that Otti would be seeking a political office as Abia State Governor.

Speaking on the outgoing GMD/CEO, the chairman said he would be sorely missed, adding that Otti achieved enviable landmarks during his time. He described his tenure as “the brightest years of Diamond Bank’s 24 year-history.”

“Dr Alex Otti is a fine gentleman with an outstanding career in the Nigerian banking industry. We are pleased with the time he spent at the helm of affairs of Diamond Bank Plc and wish him every success in his future endeavours,” Igwe Achebe added.

Under Dr. Otti’s leadership, Diamond Bank made a remarkable return to profitability and has continued to record impressive growth across all performance indicators year-on-year.

After writing off toxic risk assets which resulted in the loss of N16 billion in 2011, the lender posted a profit before tax of N28.36 billion in 2012 and N32.5 billion in 2013. The bank also saw its total assets rise from N564.9 billion in February 2011 to N1.18 trillion by December 31, 2012 and N1.52 trillion on December 31, 2013.

He is credited with creating the office of the Chief Risk Officer and designating an Executive Director to head the department. He also spear-headed the expansion of the bank by doubling the full staff count from around 2,000 in 2010 to over 4,000as at mid-2014,even as he vigorously grew the bank’s footprints from a network of 210 branchesin 2011 to over 265 branches three years later. It was also under his watch that the bank established an international subsidiary in the United Kingdom, in addition to expansion in Francophone West Africa (Senegal, Togo, and Ivory Coast).

It is to be noted that the Central Bank only recently classified the bank as one of the eight systematically important banks in Nigeria under his watch.

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The Ambassador of Sudan to Nigeria, Dr Tagelsir Ali, died in Abuja yesterday.

According to the Media Advisor to the embassy, Mr Mohammed Abdulrahman, Ali, 66, died at about 1 am yesterday at the National Hospital, Abuja.

Ali, who was posted to Nigeria in February, 2012, the advisor said, was down with malaria.

He said: “He had malaria, there were some complications and he passed away around 1 am early this morning.

“There is a presidential jet coming by 5 pm (yesterday) to take the remains to Sudan for burial. He was 66 years old.

“He loved working in Nigeria and had zeal to develop the bilateral relationship between Sudan and Nigeria and was able to stretch himself very well.”

When contacted, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, said the ministry was aware of the ambassador’s death.

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Former Head of State, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (rtd); ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and the Governor of Kano State, Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso, all presidential aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), will today storm Port Harcourt, Rivers State for Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s 7th anniversary of his Supreme Court victory.

Also to honour Amaechi, who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), are two other presidential aspirants of the APC, Rochas Okorocha, the Governor of Imo State and Sam Nda-Isaiah.

Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, will lead nine other APC governors to the mega rally, among other eminent personalities.

The elaborate event, scheduled to commence at 7 am and transmitted live on many television stations, will hold at the newly-built 65,000 capacity Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Igwuruta-Ali near the Port Harcourt International Airport, constructed by the Amaechi administration to boost sports in Nigeria.

The committee put in place to oversee the mega rally has the state’s Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru, an engineer, as Chairman of the Central Planning Committee, with the state’s Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Chuma Chinye, as Secretary, while the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, is the Chairman of the Publicity Sub-Committee.

Genesis of anniversary

The Supreme Court, in its landmark judgment of October 25, 2007, had sacked Sir Celestine Omehia and pronounced Amaechi the duly elected governor of the state. He was inaugurated the following day at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

Amaechi and Omehia, both Ikwerre, hail from Ubima in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.

Semenitari, while speaking on Rhythm FM Port Harcourt’s Funky Four Plus One, said the rally would also be used by the governor to render account of his stewardship to the people of the state who renewed his mandate during the 2011 elections.

She noted that the NGF chairman and the leaders of the APC did not believe in renting crowds like some unnamed chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, stressing that the massive supporters of Amaechi volunteered to be at the stadium, without being induced, to honour a performing governor.

Rivers information commissioner said: “Governor Amaechi’s problem is that he is very frank, straightforward, calls a spade a spade and does not speak from both sides of his mouth.

“Governor Amaechi’s critics know that if he says something, he will stand by it.

“Governor Amaechi has conscience. They promised him a lot of things to abandon the fight on the ceding of Rivers oil wells to neighbouring states, but he refused. Another governor would have sold out and abandoned his people, for his personal interest and benefits, not Governor Amaechi, who will always stand by his people and will never negotiate the future of Rivers State for his pocket.

“Governor Amaechi felt it was not proper to keep quiet, when Rivers State’s oil wells were being ceded by the Federal Government to Bayelsa and Abia states, with revenues accruing to Rivers State now dwindling, thereby making Rivers people to suffer untold hardship and delivering ongoing projects being affected.”

Further speaking on the mega rally, Semenitari stated that today is a landmark day because seven years ago, Amaechi was appropriately and duly acknowledged as the winner of the 2007 governorship election in the state.

She noted that the day is significant in the sense that it would be the last time the NGF chairman would be celebrating October 25 as governor of Rivers State, reiterating that next October 25, he would no longer be governor and that he would make a mega statement at the mega rally.

She said the new stadium has 40,000 sitting capacity but could take up to 80,000 people, with many people from the 23 LGAs of the state complaining that the number of persons officially told to come was small and many people volunteering to come by themselves.

She stressed that all the entrances to the stadium would be left open to prevent any incident, with a strong team of medical personnel to be led by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, while crowd and traffic control would be efficiently handled by the appropriate agencies, with a strong security team to be in place.

Semenitari added: “Rt. Hon. Amaechi has three graces. He became the governor of Rivers State by the grace of God, the grace and the will of Rivers people, and by the grace and permission of the Supreme Court.

“Governor Amaechi will address Rivers people at the stadium. For the first time, he will publicly speak to the crowd on why he took certain political decisions and he will take feedbacks from the people. Since democracy is about participation. It is time for true Rivers people to speak.

“Once has God spoken, twice we have heard that power belongs to God. We know that there is a God who rules the affairs of men. Governor Amaechi and the peace-loving people of Rivers State will continue to put their trust only in God.”

She assured that Amaechi would finish strong and complete almost all the ongoing capital-intensive and people-oriented projects, with the people to continue to be adequately empowered.

The Chief Press Secretary to Amaechi, David Iyofor, also yesterday, in an online statement, quoted the Rivers governor as stating that despite poor funding to states by the Federal Government, the NGF chairman was determined to complete most of the projects started by his administration.

Amaechi, according to Iyofor, expressed confidence that the reserve fund in the state coffers amounting to N19 billion, which was approved by the Rivers State House of Assembly, would be used judiciously, especially to complete ongoing projects before the end of his tenure.

Governor vows to complete ongoing projects

Speaking during an inspection tour of the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium ahead of the APC’s mega rally in Port Harcourt today, Amaechi said: “We will shame those people who think we cannot complete our projects. We promised to work on Oyigbo Road, complete Elioparanwo Road and also work on Rumuagholu Road and several others.

“We will also furnish our primary schools and carry out renovation of our secondary schools. But we are starved of funds by the Federal Government. So, how do we complete our projects? That is why I said we will work until May 29, 2015, before leaving office.

“While saving N1 billion monthly, I knew that there could be a time when the economy of the country or state will be challenging. So, I started saving the money in our reserve fund. But the problem of money is not only in Rivers State. The Lagos State Governor has complained bitterly, including other APC governors. The approval of the N19 billion by the Rivers State House of Assembly from the reserve fund will help us to complete our projects.”

Worried by alleged high level of stealing in Jonathan’s administration, the NGF chairman also stated that the Federal Government had derailed from its vision of creating wealth for the Nigerian people, to sabotage the economy of the nation and deliberately impose unnecessary suffering on innocent Nigerians.

Amaechi said: “Stealing is increasing by the day, but President Jonathan said there is no corruption in the country. Corruption in Nigeria is uncontrollable. People are stealing our money every day and the police are helpless because they are part of the system.

“The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said Nigeria is not broke. If she is saying that there is money in the country, let her pay us our debts and our money.

“She said the shortfall in revenue does not mean that Nigeria is broke. When Commissioners of Finance converged on Enugu, almost everybody left without money. How then can we define being broke?”

PDP kicks

Reacting to the planned mega rally in a statement yesterday, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State condemned alleged plan to shut down markets and shops in Port Harcourt for the sake of the rally.

 The statement signed by Jerry Needam, Special Adviser on Media to the State Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah, said it was insensitive and smacked of lack of concern for the welfare of the people “by coercing them to remain indoors simply because an uncaring governor wants to celebrate a controversial court victory that took place seven years ago, which has caused the people more pains and backwardness.”

The party said it was shocked that a governor who wants the people to continue to support him in his future political career could not be moved by the conditions of public servants in the state who were being owed months of salary arrears and allowances yet Gov Amaechi is excited to organize such a jamboree with the State resources.

“It’s also surprising to the PDP that Amaechi who had wasted huge resources of the state in legal battles in defence of his faulted participation in the April 26, 2011 governorship election, claiming that his first tenure actually terminated on May 28, 2011, is still laying claim to October 25, when the controversial Supreme Court ruling was given as the date he took over the reins of office and power in the state.

“This is nothing but self deceit, a feature of a warped mind,” the statement added.

  However, the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Tony Okocha, described as a blatant lie and a campaign of calumny, the Rivers PDP’s allegation that Governor Rotimi Amaechi ordered the closure of markets and shops in Port Harcourt today to celebrate the 7th anniversary of his Supreme Court victory.

Okocha, who is the Chairman of the Mobilisation Committee of the anniversary and doubles as Amaechi’s Political Adviser, also stated that the decision of many Rivers people to attend the event was voluntary, in view of the governor’s impressive performance, adding that nobody was hired.

Okocha said the celebration was neither a jamboree nor a waste of Rivers government’s funds, describing Rivers PDP leaders as confused and visionless and that Rivers remains an APC state.

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 Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State has advised Rivers youths not to allow Rivers State to crash by ensuring that they use their votes to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from wining the Presidential election in 2015.

He said it has become necessary for Rivers people to prepare to vote against President Jonathan because of the hatred he has for them.

Governor Amaechi spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt during the 30th /32nd convocation ceremony of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education held at the Rumuolumeni main campus of the university.

Amaechi said the President had made things difficult for the state, which has resulted in decline in the revenue base of the state.

He said the students would not get jobs after graduating if they didn’t act fast to resist President Jonathan and his agents in the state.

He noted that the President gave Soku oil well to Bayelsa State and Etche oil well to Abia State, adding that no federal project had been executed in Rivers State since Jonathan became the President of Nigeria.

“As fresh graduates, what you need now is job. The President is not creating an enabling environment that would aid your employment. You must get ready to have your voter cards as the only weapon to vote the President out in 2015.

“We must not allow him to win. If he does, the state will crash. You can imagine that as a South–South President, all the roads linking the South-South are not passable. That is evidence that his government is corrupt.

“Believe me, you will not get a governor that will be like me; I mean a governor that will look at the President in the face and tell him his mind. I have walked out in the meeting with the President twice and no governor will have the mind to do that. We must be ready to vote him out.”

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Two Northern leaders  have described the recently announced ceasefire between the Federal Government and the dreaded Boko Haram group as a political gimmick to return President Goodluck Jonathan to office by 2015.

The Chairman of  the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), IGP Ibrahim Coomasie (rtd), and a top member of the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi,  said the sincerity of the Federal Government was doubtful, as people are still being killed on daily basis.

They said: “We in the Northern Nigeria are the ones losing because our people are still being killed, property being destroyed and people charged with the constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property are not doing much”.

‘I doubt the

agreement’

IGP Coomasie (rtd) said: “First of all, I have my doubt over the existence of the ceasefire agreement. Previously, several attempts have been made to reach a ceasefire agreement and get amnesty for members of Boko Haram. But, none received adequate attention.

“This insurgency has been going on for five years and we have been hearing of many Boko Haram leaders being killed. They said  Shekau had been killed. Later, they said he was alive. Now they said he had been finally killed.

“We want to know the leaders of Boko Haram negotiating with the government. And who has broken the ceasefire agreement? Is it national, continental or international. And then, what are the guarantees for this ceasefire and why did Boko Haram break the agreement and they started shooting and killing people immediately after the announcement of the ceasefire.

“Immediately after the announcement of the ceasefire agreement, it has created certain doubt as to whether the whole thing is true or just a gimmick. But, if it is true, and we are sure we are dealing with the right people from  both sides, then there is hope for this country. But, if it is not true and it happens to be another gimmick, which I believe it is, then, there is more to it.

“There are certain questions which need to be asked   at the appropriate time. We will ask those questions. We believe that eventually, the truth will come out. We think all are gimmicks. Maybe something became a stumbling block, but suddenly, they rushed into a ceasefire and less than 48 hours after it was announced, it was broken.

“Some said it was broken because the government rushed to announce the ceasefire agreement. If that is anything to go by, it means, that the ceasefire was not concluded before the government announced it. But it could also be that the whole thing is a lie and that is why Boko Haram reacted.

“Head or tail, we in the Northern Nigeria are the ones losing because our people are still being killed, property being destroyed and people charged with the constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property are not doing much.”

‘It’s a reaction to our ultimatum’

Similarly, Professor  Abdullahi said he had wished the ceasefire agreement were true, but, according to him,  it was a gimmick for the purpose of 2015 elections.

He said: “This is because the population generally believe that President Jonathan is not doing enough, either deliberately not doing enough or he is incompetent and unable to do anything.

“The point now is that, as we head for 2015 elections, he wants to show Nigerians that he is still in charge and that he is able to achieve result, so that he can continue in office, that is all. You remember that two months ago, we in the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) gave an ultimatum that by the end of October, we must see result about Chibok girls, but we were called names by the sycophants around the Presidency.

“So, we see this as a reaction to our ultimatum, especially now that the ultimatum is about to expire. Having realised that there was no result, they had to go into hasty announcement of a ceasefire.

“If the ceasefire is true, we see it as a very good thing for the country. Since the announcement of the agreement, so many people have been killed, bombs have been detonated, more women have been abducted, so where is the ceasefire?

“So, it now left for Nigerians to judge as to whether the President is succeeding or he is failing.”

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A relation of Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, Osiya Agamah, has been kidnapped in Port Harcourt, police said yesterday.

There were conflicting reports about the relationship between the victim and the minister as at the time of filing this report.

A source described the victim as a younger sister of the minister, while another source said she is a distant relation.

According to reports,  Agamah was kidnapped at gunpoint on Tuesday night, as she approached her car.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ahmad Muhammad, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the police are at a loss as to why the woman was abducted, adding, “we are not aware if any ransom demand had been made”.

Muhammad said she was kidnapped around the Leventis area of   Port Harcourt while returning from church.

Investigation is said to have commenced into her abduction.

Meanwhile,  after spending 13 days in the den of kidnappers, former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Okey Wali, yesterday regained freedom.

Wali was kidnapped on October 11 at his residence in Port Harcourt by unknown gunmen.

A statement issued by the NBA President, Augustine Alegeh, confirmed Wali’s release, commending security agencies on the role they played.

Alegeh said he had spoken to Wali, adding that “the former NBA boss is hale and hearty.”

He said Wali expressed his thanks and appreciation to members of the bar and bench, the security agencies, friends and family members for their concern, support and prayers during the period of his ordeal.

Alegeh described the spate of kidnapping and insecurity across Nigeria as worrisome, calling on the government to urgently address the situation.

“The Nigerian Bar Association is greatly delighted by the safe release of Okey Wali, SAN and wishes to express appreciation to all NBA members and well-meaning Nigerians who supported the Bar and the Okey Wali family during this trying period.

“We must also commend NBA members for keeping calm throughout this period and not taking any steps that may have directly or indirectly jeopardised the efforts for his safe release which have now yielded positive results.

“The NBA also wishes to place on record its appreciation of the efforts of the security agencies in securing the safe release of Wali.

“The Director-General of the State Security Services [SSS], the Inspector General of Police and the SSS State Directors and Police Commissioners in Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states who worked tirelessly to secure his safe release deserve special mention.

“While we celebrate the safe release of Wali, we must hasten to reiterate the fact that the spate of kidnapping and general state of insecurity in our country is cause for great concern.

“A safe and secure country is one of the primary roles of our government and we call on the government to promptly address the present state of insecurity in the country.

“We cannot continue to live in fear of kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminals. We call on the government to take much more seriously its constitutional duty of providing a safe and secure environment for all Nigerians,” said Alegeh.

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Human rights lawyer,  Mr Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday, warned that Nigeria may be plunged into a major crisis in 2015, if the security challenges and other pressing issues affecting her are not addressed by the government.

Falana, who spoke on “Current Security  Challenges: Implications for 2015 Elections,” a lecture he delivered in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, said the nation’s badly managed political economy gave rise to the current insecurity in the land.

The  lecture was organised by by the  Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Paramount FM, Abeokuta Chapel,  to mark its 2014 edition of the Press Week.

The civil rights activist said:  “Nigeria is wonderfully rich, but badly managed. Though Nigeria would not break, a major crisis is imminent next year.”

According to him, the spate of kidnapping, robbery, terrorism, human trafficking and other vices followed from the pervasive poverty in the country.

Falana said  the Federal Government had failed to sufficiently arm the military in battle against the purveyors of sectarian crises.

Falana said: “Nigeria  should  be unanimous in fighting all forms of  menace confronting the country like  we confronted Ebola.

“Government  should wake up in the provision of security to the citizenry, that is the government  primary responsibility.”

Falana condemned the government’s attitude of deploying soldiers during elections, saying “it is illegal.”

He  advised that Police should be well equipped and  allowed to do their security job during elections.

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A former Military Governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd), yesterday raised the alarm over excessive borrowing from banks by some governors to campaign for the 2015 poll.

He also accused some governors of selling off assets, including shares, belonging to their states.

Umar, who made his feelings known in a statement in Abuja, asked the anti-corruption agencies to intervene because legislatures in the affected states had been caged by these governors.

The statement said: “It has become necessary to alert the nation to a dangerous trend, indeed an explosive scheme, by which some state governors are mortgaging the future of their states through excessive borrowing from commercial banks and other financial institutions to finance projects of dubious viability.

“The motive is entirely unclear. But one suspects it is either to fraudulently acquire campaign funds as the 2015 elections approach or retirement benefits.

“Some of them are also desperately selling off state’s assets, including shares and other long term investments.”

Umar appealed to anti-graft agencies to stem the tide of unjustifiable borrowing by some governors.

He added: “In a situation where state legislatures have  reduced themselves to all, but an arm of the executive, it is unrealistic to expect them to check and stop this fraud.

“We, therefore, appeal to the anti corruption agencies to intervene.”

He advised banks to live up to the ethics of their sector by checking some of these governors.

He said: “We also warn banks to desist from connivance with those governors. They need to be reminded of their civic responsibility and banking ethics to protect helpless public.

“They must be aware that most of these states have already lost the capacity to meet their financial obligations due to huge debt burden and diminishing revenue.

“The bankers must not forget that,  in the past, collapse of oil prices in the world market has often led  to widespread collapse of Nigerian banks because they  never learned to say ‘no’  to prodigal but cash-strapped state governments in such critical periods.”

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The Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, yesterday said the All Progressives Congress (APC) will not split because of presidential primaries.

He also said none of the party’s presidential aspirants will defect to the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) or any party after losing the presidential ticket.

He  added that the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan as PDP presidential candidate is “not a settled matter.”

On the insurgency in the North-East, he asked the Federal Government to negotiate or crush Boko Haram insurgents.

Kwankwaso, who made the submissions at a briefing in Abuja, said Nigerians were already tired of PDP and would effect a change in 2015.

He disclosed that he would make a formal declaration on October 28 in Abuja

Kwankwaso, who exuded much confidence, said: “I don’t think any of us will contemplate leaving APC, if none of us gets the ticket to fly the flag of the party.

“Whatever is the case during our primaries, we are coming together as a family to ensure the success of our party .

“You see for people like me, who have millions of supporters, it is not easy for me to be flying from one party to the other.

“On the issue of consensus, that is already in our constitution and I believe it is very important. We do not know what the party has in mind. While consensus has an advantage, so also going for primaries.

“As far as I am concerned, there will be either consensus or primaries and one person will win and emerge as our candidate. I don’t think anyone of us will have reason to leave the party.  I am confident I will get the ticket

“But in case I don’t get the ticket in free and fair primaries, I will not leave APC.

“And what I said about not stepping down was clear. I said I did not sit with anybody to discuss that. Each one of us is already in the field seeking support.”

The governor expressed confidence that APC can defeat PDP in 2015.

He added: “Nigerians are sick and tired of PDP; our people want change. During the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, the level of insecurity was low. But the graph is now rising  to the extent that in some parts of the country, people are flying flags other than the nation’s Green, White, Green.”

Asked if the incumbency factor will not boost the chances of PDP, he added: “I want to remind you that in elections, whether in developing or developed countries, you normally have fatigue. PDP has won elections four times, fatigue has set in.

“In all civilized or developed societies, parties always win elections two or three times and people naturally ask for change whether they are doing well or not.”

Responding to a question on President Jonathan’s qualification for 2015 poll, he said: “I am not sure if it is settled. If it was settled, he would have declared a long time ago. Instead, he kept peeping outside to see if the coast was clear.

“The constitution says a President must spend eight years in office, not eight and a half years.”

On insurgency, Kwankwaso said: “As for me, the issue of whoever is fueling the insurgency, whether the party in government or the party not in government, does not matter. We have two options: these are either to negotiate or crush them militarily.

“We have passed the level of who is behind it; we have to end the insurgency. We must not put politics into the issue of doing it.

“All of us should join hands with the Commander-In-Chief to support the military. Also, anyone who takes over this government on May 29, 2015, his number one priority should be security for all Nigerians.”

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