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Ambode issues Commissioners, Advisers deadline on handover note submission

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

Indication that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State would dissolve his cabinet earlier than his predecessors has emerged, ordering commissioners, Special Advisers and other political appointees to submit their handover notes by May 10th.

Unlike his predecessors who often delay submission, the governor, it was gathered, ordered Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Adesina Odeyemi, to direct all political appointees on or before the date to submit their handover note.

In the circular signed by Odeyemi with Reference number SSG/LS/P/C/2019/Vol.1/01, which was issued on April 23, 2019, the appointees were asked to submit their report to apparently aid smooth transition to the governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

According to the circular, Personal Assistants, Special Assistants, Special Advisers and members of the State Executive Council were those mandated by the circular.

Meanwhile, the circular exempted members of Statutory Boards, Chief Executive Officers of Parastatal Organisations and Governing Council, whose tenure had not elapsed were not affected by this directive.

The circular was issued with the heading, “Preparation for smooth Transition and Submission of Handover Notes-Cabinet and Non-Cabinet ranks.”

It added that the affected people were expected to prepare their individual handover notes and submit same to the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office in hard and soft copies.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Statutory Boards under reference above are: Civil Service Commission, Judicial Service Commission, Independent Electoral Commission, House of Assembly Service Commission, Audit Service Commission, State Universal Basic Education Board, Health Service Commission, Primary Health Care Board and Lagos State Pension Commission,

“Consequently, concerned individuals are enjoined to comply with the content of this circular. Accounting officers are to give this circular the adequate publicity it deserves,” it stated.

Buhari to visit Lagos, commission international airport road, other outgoing governor’s projects

By NewsDesk,

The Lagos State Government has announced that President Muhammadu Buhari would be visiting the state on Wednesday for commissioning of rehabilitated Murtala Muhammed International Airport road, the president’s visitation which was said could also served as appreciation visit to Lagos after election victory.

It was said that Buhari, during the one-day visit, would also commission the state’s outgoing Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, other projects, including 170-bed  Maternity Hospital at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), considered for public use after completion.

Also, the president would also have Lagos State Theatre at Oregun, new 820 Mass Transit buses and multi-level Oshodi Transport Interchange on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, commissioned, before the present administration leaves office.

However, in a state statement issued by the state’s Ministry of Information and Strategy on Tuesday, it disclosed that Buhari would be visiting the state and also carry out commissioning of various completed projects, embark upon by the state government months ago.  .

It listed the project that would be commissioned by the president to include rehabilitated 10-lane Oshodi-Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road, and the 170-Bed ‘Ayinke House’ (Maternity Hospital) at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in Ikeja.

“Other projects to be commissioned include the Lagos State Theatre at Oregun in Ikeja, new 820 Mass Transit buses and the multi-level Oshodi Transport Interchange on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

“`The Presidential visit would hold between 9.00 a. m. and 3.00 p.m. on Wednesday, during which traffic on some routes will be diverted in order to ensure a free flow of traffic,’’ it said.

According to the statement, the routes that will be affected by traffic control include the Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way (coming from the Presidential wing of Murtala Muhammed Airport to LASUTH under bridge); Kodesoh Road; Obafemi Awolowo Way; Kudirat Abiola Way and Ikorodu Road (between the Ojota Intersection and Anthony Interchange).

Other routes are the Oworonshoki-Apapa Expressway (between Anthony and Oshodi Transport Interchange) and the International Airport road through the Local Wing of the airport to Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way and back to the Obafemi Awolowo Way.

“The listed roads shall only be cordoned-off when necessary, Obafemi Awolowo Way and portions of Mobolaji Bank-Anthony shall be closed to traffic on three occasions within the specified period, as they are central to the President’s itinerary,’’ it said.

The state government advised motorists to avoid listed roads where necessary and make use of alternative routes of their choice.

It implored ,motorists and commuters to bear with state government for inconveniences as a result of the diversions, traffic managers, enforcement and security agents will be positioned at all strategic intersections to allow orderly vehicular movements.

Trump accepts Queen Elizabeth’s state invitation

By NewsDesk,

Buckingham Palace has disclosed that United States President, Donald Trump, had accepted Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to make a state visit to Britain in June, with expectation that the US president would meet with British Prime Minister, Theresa May.

As learnt, Trump and his wife, Melania, would embark on the trip on 3rd of June 3 and return by 5th of same month, though the palace would also release further detail in due time.

According to the palace, Trump would hold a meeting with  May in Downing Street and the trip also coincides with events to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War Two.

Through a statement on Tuesday,  May reaffirmed on UK and U.S.  deep and enduring partnership said to be rooted in common history and shared interests.

She explained that the Trump’s state visit was an opportunity to strengthen the two countries’ already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defense, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead.”

It would be recalled that Trump met with the queen in Britain in July, 2018, which was not deemed a state visit.

As gathered, from White House statement on Tuesday, Trump and his wife would also travel to France on June 6, where Trump would also meet with French President, Emmanuel Macron.

Buhari’s request on Ag. CJN, Muhammed, approved

By News desk

President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the appointment of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, by another three months.

It was gathered that Buhari sent the recommendation to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the supervisory body approved the appointment before close of work on Thursday.

Confirming the approval, NJC spokesperson, Soji Oye, in a statement on Saturday, denied an planned meeting the Council next week to deliberate on extension of Muhammad’s term as the acting chief justice of Nigeria.

“Contrary to the above, the Council actually met on Thursday 18th April, 2019 and at the 88th Meeting considered and approved the request of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for the extension of the Appointment of Hon. Dr. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR, as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria for another three (3) months and Council has since forwarded its approval to the President.”

Muhammad was first appointed in January after the president controversially suspended Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen who was accused of false declaration of asset.

Onnoghen was convicted on Thursday by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, and was barred from holding public office for 10 years. He has denied all allegations against him, and has appealed the ruling.

The president’s suspension of Onnoghen sparked uproar as the move was deemed unconstitutional.

Also, coming just weeks before the February presidential election, it raised suspicions, with the opposition accusing Buhari of moving to appoint a stooge who would ensure judicial support after the polls would have been rigged.

Onnoghen notified two weeks ago he was stepping down, but the Presidency has yet to announce whether his exit had been approved by the president.

SERAP writes CCB, demands Buhari, Obasanjo, Jonathan, Govs asset declarations details

By News desk

Following Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) judgement on former Chief Justice of the Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a Freedom of Information request to Chairman, Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Dr. Muhammed Isah, demanding information on specific details of asset declarations submitted to bureau by Presidents and state governors since 1999.”

SERAP is seeking information on: “details of asset declarations by successive presidents and state governors between 1999 and 2019, including details of declarations made immediately after taking offices and thereafter, and for those who have left public offices, at the end of their term of office. Information is also sought on the number of asset declarations so far verified by the CCB and the number of those declarations found to be false and deemed to be in breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, by the Bureau.”

In the FOI request dated released on Thursday and signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “While we welcome the judgment by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Justice Walter Onnoghen, we now urge the CCB to extent its mandates to enforce constitutional provisions on asset declarations by public officers to cover elected officers and to vigorously pursue the prosecution of any such officers who use their powers either as presidents or state governors over public funds to enrich themselves.”

“While judicial corruption is bad, the level of corruption involving many politicians since 1999 and the entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators is equally appalling. Publishing the asset declarations of elected public officers since the return of democracy in 1999 to date would improve public trust in the ability of the Bureau to effectively discharge its mandates. This would in turn put pressure on public officers like presidents and state governors to make voluntary public declaration of their assets.”

The FOI request read in part: “SERAP is concerned that many politicians hide behind the fact that members of the public do not have access to their asset declarations to make false declarations, and to cover up assets illegally acquired in corruption or abuse of office. The CCB can use the opportunity presented by the Onnoghen judgment to increase the accountability of politicians through the asset declaration provisions if it is not to be accused of witch-hunting the judiciary.”

“The grim condition of many of our citizens since 1999 has been worsened by the deterioration of public services whereby access to clean water and affordable health-care has become a pipe dream and the supply of electricity became epileptic and irregular due to years of grand corruption by many politicians at the highest level of government.”

“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal action under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.”

“The persistent refusal by successive presidents and state governors to make public their asset declarations is entirely inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the 1999 Constitution, and has been particularly harmful to the country and its people, especially given the widespread evidence of grand corruption among politicians holding public offices in Nigeria.”

“The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) seeks to prevent corruption and abuse of office through its provisions on the declaration of assets not just by judicial officers but by all public officers including elected officers like presidents and governors.”

“Nigerians can longer accept the excuse by high-ranking government officers that declaring their assets before the CCB is enough, as such pretext is not supported by the oaths of office by elected public officers. The failure by successive presidents and state governors to voluntarily make public their asset declarations would seem to suggest that they have something to hide.”

“Given that many public officers being tried for or convicted of corruption are found to have made a false declaration of their assets, the CCB should no longer allow politicians to undermine the sanctity and integrity of the asset declaration provisions of the Constitution by allowing them to continue to exploit legal gaps for illicit enrichment.”

“SERAP believes that while elected public officers may not be constitutionally obliged to publicly declare their assets, the Freedom of Information Act 2011 has now provided the mechanism for the CCB to improve transparency and accountability of asset declarations by elected public officers.”

“Asset declaration forms are public documents within the meaning of section 109 of the Evidence Act, and therefore, Nigerians are entitled to have access to such information. SERAP urges the CCB to vigorously push for change in law to provide penal sanctions for politicians that fail to make public their asset declarations.”

“By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the asset declarations by elected public officers since the return of democracy in 1999.”

“SERAP notes that provisions on the declaration of assets by all public officers in Nigeria are entrenched in the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, contained in Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. The primary objective is to prevent corruption and abuse of office and to ensure transparency in public officers.”

“SERAP also notes that public officers for the purposes of the Code include the President and the Vice-President of the Federation, state governors and their deputies; the President and Deputy-President of the Senate, the Speaker and Deputy-Speaker of the House of Representatives and Speakers, the Chief justice of Nigeria, justices of the Supreme Court, the President and justices of the Court of Appeal, and other judicial officers and all staff of courts of law.”

Disclose including by publishing on a dedicated website, details of asset declarations submitted by presidents and state governors since the return of democracy in 1999

Disclose details on the number of asset declarations so far verified by the CCB and the number of those declarations found to be false and deemed to be a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers by the Bureau

Immediately take cases of false asset declarations to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for effective prosecution of suspects, and include banning the politicians involved from holding public offices for at least a period of 10 years and seeking refund of stolen public funds as part of the reliefs to be sought before the Tribunal.

Saudi Arabia to execute another Nigerian over drug trafficking

By News desk

Days after executing a female Nigerians over drug trafficking, the Saudi Arabian authorities could execute another Nigerian for allegedly smuggling about 1,138g of cocaine into the country.

The Nigerian, Wahid Somade, who was in his 20s was arrested at Jeddah airport yesterday by the country’s authorities, increasing number of Nigerians on death roll.

Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who disclosed the arrest on Friday in an interview with newsmen in Abuja expressed disappointment that this was coming shortly after a Nigerian lady was executed in the same country for a related offence.

“The sad thing is that in the midst of talking of about 20 Nigerians on death roll, even as eight had been executed, just yesterday another Nigerian, Wahid Somade, was arrested at Jeddah airport with about 1,138g of cocaine.

“The latest one would be added to those that could be executed. We keep appealing to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure for trial trial is fair,” Dabiri-Erewa said.

On the execution of a Nigerian for drug-related offences on Monday, the presidential aide appealed to Nigerians to obey the laws of countries they go.

“After informing her family, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially released the name of the lady that was executed in Saudi Arabia a few days ago and her name is Kudirat Afolabi, a widow and a mother of two.

“We pay our condolence to the family and keep begging Nigerians to obey the laws of other countries and Saudi has replied us officially, saying their law is their law.

“However, diplomatic engagement will continue at the highest level. It does not matter where you come from, you hold a green passport. Do not let a few people denigrate every one of us,” she said.

Dabiri-Erewa, however, stressed on the need to celebrate the success stories of Nigerians in the diaspora, saying, we have Nigerians doing great things all over the world; we are going to focus on them.

She also called on concerted efforts on compulsory baggage identification at airports as well as more security surveillance and cameras at screening points at the airports.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja clarified that all legal and judicial procedures were followed regarding the accused person.

The embassy stated that death sentence is only carried out after all proofs and legal evidence have been exhausted regarding the accused.

Specifically on Afolabi, the Saudi Embassy reaffirmed that all legal and judicial procedures were followed regarding the accused person and she was accorded every legal right before the death sentence was carried out on her.

“The death sentence is only carried out in the Kingdom after all proofs and legal evidence have been exhausted regarding the accused, and the process goes through various legal stages until the allegations against the detained persons have been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

“Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs was always in consultation with foreign embassies and consulates in the kingdom and facilitated visits from nationals of detainees,” the statement read in part.

The embassy also reiterated that the penalty for drug trafficking is the death sentence and applied on all persons convicted without any exceptions.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not neglect the enforcement of penalties in terms of matters of drug trafficking and is determined to apply the law on any person against whom evidence is established in order to combat drug trafficking and protect its citizens from this dangerous menace.”

Pa Fasinro contributed immeasurably to growth and development of Lagos- Sanwo-Olu

By NewsDesk, 
The Lagos State Governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has described Late Hassan Fasinro, who was reported to had passed away yesterday, as a patriotic Nigerian, whose contributions were immeasurable to growth and development of the state.
Sanwo-Olu stated that the former senator during second republic, contributed immeasurably to Lagos state since his days as council clerk at the state’s city council during pre-independent era.
Through a statement issued from the governor-elect’s office on Monday, to express his state of mind on the demise of the 99 years old statesman, Sanwo-Olu said that Lagos had lost a man with a repository of knowledge of ancient and modern Nigeria and that the late Fasinro was encyclopedia of Lagos and Nigeria’s developmental trajectory.
Having expressed grieve on the death of Fasinro, from the statement, the governor-elect added that the former senator served Lagos and the country diligently and was a lifetime accomplished man.
According to him, late Fasinro’s footprints spread across many spheres of life as an author, politician, community leader, lawyer and above all, a firm believer in Allah. Papa also made history in 1950 when he emerged  as the first Clerk of Lagos City Council, which was the administrative unit of Lagos  created under a new Local Government Law in succession to the Council created by the 1941 Ordinance.”
 “Pa Fasinro was a man that I personally admired and always looked forward to meeting for fatherly counsel. Although his departure at this time is painful, we take solace in the fact that Pa Fasinro lived a very fulfilled life, which he dedicated to the service of Allah and the humanity. We will miss him greatly in the State.” Sanwo-Olu stated.
While commiserating with family of the deceased, Sanwo-Olu urged those the former senator left behind to continue with legacy of the late politician, saying best form of memorial would be to preserve the great feat achieved by late Fasinro during his lifetime.
“On behalf of my family, I want to express our heartfelt condolences to the family of late Pa Hassan Fasinro. The family and the rest of us should be inspired with his life of service and commitment to the overall well being of Lagosians and Nigerians as a whole,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Gbenga Daniel out of partisan politics, writes PDP

By NewsDesk,

The Ogun State former Governor and People Democratic Party (PDP) Chieftain, Gbenga Daniel, has openly declared his intention to quit from partisan politics, having served in various capacities under his party.

Daniel, who recently served as Director General of PDP’s Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, campaign organisation, clarified that his decision to quit his participation in daily politics was as result of his resolve to embark on other vocations and new challenges.

In a resignation letter written to PDP during the week, the Ogun state two-term governor explained that the action was based on desire to immerse himself in other vocations and that to also take on new challenges.

He said: “My decision in this regard is entirely personal to me and having served in various capacities, including as Governor of Ogun State, I have resolved to immerse myself in some other vocations and take on some new challenges,” he said.

Besides, there were insinuations from various quarters that Daniel’s action may be as a result of how he was sidelined after Atiku’s primary elction victory and that his moves signaled otherwise.

 

Whereas, Daniels’ last political engagement was his appointment as the Director-General of Atiku Campaign Council in preparation for the February 23 presidential election.

Excerpts from Daniel’s letter:

“14th March, 2019
The National Chairman,
Peoples Democratic Party,
Wadata Plaza, Michael Okpara Street
Wuse Zone II, Abuja

Attention: Prince Uche Secondus

Mr. Chairman,

Resignation from Partisan Politics

This is to inform you of my intention to resign from active and partisan politics with effect from today, the 14th day of March, 2019.

My decision in this regard is entirely personal to me and having served in various capacities, including as Governor of Ogun State, I have resolved to immerse myself in some other vocations and take on some new challenges.

Preamble
My Political Journey so far

I joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State on Sunday, the 9th of September, 2001 at an event which was described as one of the most ceremonial political rallies in our recent political history in the South Western part of Nigeria.

We rose from that rally to create a highly robust and effective political campaign machinery which resulted in an electoral victory for the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State in 2003; this movement and vibration affected the politics of the region positively with a victory in five (5) states of the South West.

2. I served as Governor of Ogun State for eight (8) years and our administration till today remains a point of reference in terms of physical, social, economic, educational and human capital development since the State was created in 1976.

3. Notwithstanding these widely acclaimed achievements however, our party, the Peoples Democratic Party ran into trouble waters towards the end of our administration (about the year 2009) which led to the sad loss in the election of 2011, and regrettably ten (10) years after the party has been unable to resolve those internal disputes and challenges.

4. Meanwhile, the PDP in Ogun State was confronted with a very difficult situation in matter of choice. Whereas the national leadership of our party, recognized one candidate for the 2019 election, by court pronouncements another candidate, and in compliance with those court orders, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognized was on the INEC list. The candidates recognized by INEC were not acceptable to the national leadership of the party.

Our situation was then compounded because the candidate which the court and INEC recognized and accepted as valid has also been expelled by the party. This was the dilemma we found ourselves as we approached the March 9, 2019 Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.

5. Going forward, we have responded to the yearnings of our people and joined others in emplacing an administration that we believe will better serve the interests of our people than what currently exists. The rest they say is now history.

6. I must say that looking back, I do not have any regrets over that patriotic choice and decision, especially as several of our citizens, leaders and stakeholders in the state and outside have commended that singular action. Many stakeholders within and outside Ogun State feel fulfilled, excited and grateful about our decision to join others in putting a stop to a regime that was believed to be against the collective and general welfare of our people.

7. Let me also add, that in the last few months, I have had one of the rare privileges of traveling round the entire length and breadth of our great country on at least two occasions; the first being during my campaigns to become the National Chairman of our great party, and later as the Director General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organization (APCO).

8. I must sincerely admit that in the course of all these travels, I have built a network of contacts, of friends and associates in a mutually rewarding relationships which I cherished most and greatly too. I am therefore persuaded that I have fewer points to make and prove in my Political journeys in partisan politics.

9. My decision to quit partisan politics notwithstanding, I have decided to rejuvenate my charity based organization, the Gateway Front Foundation (GFF) which will literally continue to dispense succor to our people in need, address and assist in the areas of some of their health challenges; I also plan on resuscitation of the non-partisan Political Leadership Academy (POLA) which I established some years ago as a platform of political education to our citizens.

10. Without doubt, I will miss the company of my friends and associates and all those relationships I built in the course of the years all over the country..
While I crave for your kind understanding, accept assurances of my highest regards.
Yours faithfully,

Otunba (Engr.) Gbenga Daniel, FNSE, FNAEng
Governor of Ogun State (2003-2011).

Cc:
His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar GCON
Chairman, Board of Trustees (PDP)”

Buhari, APC Governors meet behind closed doors in Abuja

By News desk

Hours after President Muhammadu Buhari returned from his hometown in Daura, Kastina State to Abuja, met All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors behind closed doors.

It was learned that the meeting was to appraise the just concluded gubernatorial election especially the states were the poll had been declared inconclusive by Independent national Electoral Commission, (INEC).

The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara State led the governors to meet the President at the Aso Villa, shortly after his arrival.

Others that joined him on the trip include Kashim Shettima (Borno), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.

Some of the governors were re-elected for a second term in the March 9 elections.

Although the purpose of the meeting was not made known, the visit came three days after the Governorship and House of Assembly elections.

APC candidate, Shehu, wins Zamfara Governorship election

By News desk

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mukhtar Shehu, winner of the Zamfara State governorship election.

According to the Returning Officer in the state, Prof. Kabiru Bala, the APC candidate polled 534,541 votes to defeat his closest rival, Bello Muhammad of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 189,452.

Bala, who is a lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria made the announcement on Monday at the INEC headquarters in Gusau, the state capital.

“Mukhtar Shehu of the APC; having satisfied the requirements of the law, has scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared the winner and returned elected.”