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N10b jet scandal: Diezani, NNPC GMD in cold war

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Controversies over claims that Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, blew a whooping N10 billion on a chartered jet provided by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) appear to be spiraling out of control with the topmost figures managing the nation’s oil industry at each other’s throats.

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Disturbed by leakage of information on alleged N10 billion expended on the chartered jet, Mrs. Alison-Madueke is poised to sack two of her Special Assistants. The aides on the firing line were after being linked with the leakage of information on the chartered jet.

The Minister has also vented her anger at a former Minister, who was recently sacked from the cabinet and some top officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the leaks and the management of the fallout.

A source within the ministry said: “There was disquiet in the Minister’s office on Wednesday when some aides were threatened with sack by the Minister. In fact, one of the affected assistants is in charge of a sensitive unit.

“But at the close of work on Thursday, I saw the affected aides in office. No one was sure whether they came to clear their desks or someone from the top has acceded on their behalf. The true picture will emerge on Tuesday when we resume work.”

The development has resulted in a cold war between pitching the Petroleum Minister against the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu.

But for the intervention of the presidency which feared it would lose the support of the people of Southern Kaduna for President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid in 2015, Yakubu was set to be ousted from his position last week.

The President is banking on Northern minorities and Christians to win his re-election bid against the backdrop of perceived hostility of the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy in the North against his ambition.

In spite of the intrigues, the House of Representatives has drawn a battle line over its intention to proceed with the probe of the alleged scandal on April 28.

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts already has in its possession documents including the movement log of Challenger 850 jet in question.

Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the chartered jet scandal has caused considerable disquiet in the presidency leading to a major split in the seat of power.

While some forces are supporting the minister to confront the House Committee by challenging its powers to investigate in court, some friends and associates of the President Goodluck Jonathan are pleading with him to allow the minister bear her cross.

It was, however, learnt that the division has put the minister in a difficult position leading to a desperate moves to reorganise her office and deployment of propaganda by her supporters through the organization of a pocket of pro-Diezani rallies in Abuja.

A top source said: “The chartered jet allegation has put the presidency under undue pressure on whether the Minister should face the probe or not. Although some forces believe that the presidency should live up to its avowed commitment to the fight against corruption, others feel the House should be checked following suspicion that it is using the investigation to undermine the presidency.

“This explains why some people in the presidency are backing Diezani to go to court to obtain injunction to restrain the House Committee on Public Accounts. There is a plan to hang on to legal technicalities to stall the probe.

“Despite plans to frustrate the probe, all is not well in Diezani’s office on how the leakage came about leading to threats to sack two Special Assistants to the Minister during the week. She was said to be uncomfortable with the roles of the SAs on her travel logs with the jet.

“There is so much anger everywhere from the Minister because she has never been under heat like in the past few weeks. During the week, the blame game continued culminating in a cold war between the Minister and some NNPC officials. It got to a stage when she was almost sacking the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu.

“A major source of the war borders on the alleged refusal of the NNPC to pay the outstanding N1.56billion debt on the Challenger 850 jet.

“About 500,000 Euros (aboutN130 million) was paid monthly to hire the jet. The company managing the lease of the aircraft is being owed for 12 months which amounted to about N1.56 billion. The NNPC management was said to be reluctant to pay the debt.

“It is also suspected that some NNPC officials might have contributed to the leakage of information on the chartered jet causing some friction between the Minister and the GMD.

“Also, the GMD was said to be unhappy at being sidelined in decision-making process by the Minister. If she had her way, the GMD would have gone by now.”

It was, however, feared that Yakubu’s sack might trigger political backlash and that “the President would lose the sympathy of Northern minorities who are mostly in the North-Central and some parts of the North-East. The President might lose the support of Northern minority, especially the people of Southern Kaduna, who have been complaining of marginalisation.”

Responding to a question, the source said: “Concerning the GMD’s fate, I am aware that he was in London for a greater part of the week for a meeting of the NLNG. Whatever happened must have been at the top.”

Meanwhile, as the House Committee prepares for its inquiry, more documents and fact-sheets on the chartered Challenger jet have been submitted by firms and individuals connected with the transactions.

One source on the committee said: “We are set for the inquiry although the Minister has refused to respond to queries from the committee. Instead, there was a plot to distract the House by casting aspersions on Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.

“We will not join issues with anybody or group on this probe. Rather, we will ensure that we are fair and objective as possible to the Minister and whoever may appear before us.

“So far, we have got relevant information to set the stage for our probe. The Minister appears indisposed to our summons, we will go ahead. No amount of propaganda by media consultants can stop us.

“The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts is already in possession of the manifest of the Minister’s trips. We have also received a fact-sheet indicating that the aircraft lease firm, Vista Jet is being owed N1.56 billion for 12 months at 500,000 Euros (aboutN130 million) per month.

“We now have response from Evergreen, which has provided records of the movement of the jet in question. They, however, did not include the manifest. We understand that they are claiming that officially the other agencies in the aviation sector are to provide manifests for the House Committee.”

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#EndSARS: Ekiti state government declares 24-hour curfew

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Following the various attacks on #EndSARS protesters in the state, Governor Kayode Fayemi has imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state effective from 10pm on today, Tuesday, October 20.

In a statement released by the Secretary to the State Government, Biodun Oyebanji, the state government said the curfew became necessary following the state government’s observation of how the end SARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.

Read the statement below

1. The Government of Ekiti State has observed with growing concern how the ENDSARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.

2. The hoodlums have capitalised on the ENDSARS protest to rape, assault, rob and extort innocent citizens across the State. These are in addition to the wanton destruction of properties, particularly private properties.

3. Government is concerned that if this state of affairs is allowed to continue unabated, it will lead to a breakdown of law and order thereby threatening the wellbeing of the people of Ekiti State.

4. For the purpose of clarity Government continues to show understanding and responsiveness to the demands of the legitimate protesters.

5. On 16th October 2020, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Governor, Ekiti State met with the protesters in person. While identifying with the legitimacy of their protests, he assured them that the State Government will immediately put measures in place to respond to all their demands.

6. Government has since then constituted a Human Rights Investigation Panel to review all cases of abuse by Officers of the disbanded SARS. In addition, Government has enabled a Victims Compensation Fund to facilitate speedy remedial measures for victims of such abuse.

7. Furthermore, several officials of Government have engaged the protesters at multiple fora and platforms including the social media in order to ensure that concerns of protesters are properly identified and responded to in a prompt and efficient manner with necessary feedback.

8. Government had also at various times drawn the attention of the protesters to the troubling hijack of the protests by individuals whose only interest is to inflict violence on the people of the state.

9. In the past 48 hours there have been incidents of gang-rape, robberies, physical assaults on innocent people, looting and burning of a police station. These acts of brigandage are not in consonance with the legitimate aspirations of the protesters. It cannot be logical to seek to remedy impunity with impunity.

10. Government therefore cannot afford to watch a deliberate enthronement of anarchy by some bad elements who have hijacked the protest for some clandestine reasons.

11. Consequently, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, hereby imposes a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State starting from 10.00 pm tonight, Tuesday, October, 20, 2020.

12. Only essential workers and service providers with valid means of identifications are allowed to move around during the period of the curfew.

13. Any person found on the street that does not belong to this category, would be promptly arrested and prosecuted according to the laws of Ekiti State.

14. We seek the understanding of the good people of Ekiti State as we continue to take deliberate steps towards ensuring that peace and normalcy return to our state.”

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Davido speaks on the events of the past 48 hours

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Davido speaks on the events of the past 48 hours

Nigerian superstar, Davido has said criminals are responsible for the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.

Davido made the claim while absolving End SARS protesters of involvement in the attacks.

The singer pointed out that no amount of mischief would stop the protest against police brutality and bad governance.

Davido made the remark while condemning the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.

The hoodlums had attacked the facilities and freed some inmates.

Reacting, the singer in a series of tweets wrote: “After seeing all that’s gone on today I just want to say that from the beginning we have preached that the protest must remain peaceful and Law Abiding and as far as I know we have kept to that! And we will continue to keep to that so the narrative can NOT be switched up on us!

“The people they claim broke into prisons to free convicted criminals, burn police stations to steal weapons, damage police, government, and private vehicles are Criminals and everybody must condemn these acts. They are not part of our movement !

“#EndSars is a peaceful and law abiding protest that is going somewhere great! And no mischief can scatter it!”

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Address Nigerians over #EndSARS protests – Senate urges Buhari

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Address Nigerians over #EndSARS protests – Senate urges Buhari

The Nigerian Senate has called on President Buhari to urgently address the nation so as to douse the tension in the country.

This comes as hoodlums continue to carry out various attacks on #EndSARS protesters and others in some parts of the country.

The Senators made the call for President Buhari to speak to the Nation after a motion was moved by Senator Biodun Olujimi and co-sponsored by all Senators on the ongoing nationwide protests believed to have been hijacked by hoodlums.

Part of the resolution of the Senators after deliberation include:

-Urge all tiers of government to put in place and sustain policies of social economic reforms that raise the standard of lives of our people;

-Call upon the Police to operate strictly in accordance with the rules of engagement appropriate in a democratic environment;

-Urge the Inspector General of Police to ensure a holistic comprehensive reforms of the police to increase the overall welfare including training and medical insurance of all members of the Nigeria Police Force

-Appeal to all Nigerians to resort to use of legal institutions to resolve disputes and conflicts;

-Urge the Nigerian youths and the Nigerian citizens to approach the National Assembly Committees Constitution and Reforms in order to secure far-reaching holistic amendments that are vital to the restructuring of our federation

-Urge the Federal Government to faithfully and comprehensively implement all the five demands of the #EndSARS movement and protesters with necessary timelines to rekindle confidence in government

-Appeal to #EndSARS movement and protesters to kindly in the interest of everyone stop their actions and embrace genuine dialogue; 7. Urge Mr. President to address the nation as soon as possible on these issues.

-Police should make it a duty to accompany protesters and should be involved in protecting genuine protesters.

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