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Security operatives foil jailbreak in Kano

 

Security agents, on Thursday evening, prevented a jailbreak by inmates of Kurmawa prison, located around the emir’s palace in Kano state.

 

Sporadic gunshots were heard within the area where the prison is located, as residents prepared to break their Ramadan fast on Thursday evening.

 

Musbahu Nasarawa, spokesman of the Nigeria correctional service in Kano, confirmed the incident, adding that the inmates attempted to cause pandemonium but were resisted.

 

“We have put down the rebellion through the concerted efforts of the prison officials,” the spokesman said.

Nasarawa noted that violence broke out when prison officials attempted to retrieve illicit items found with some of the prisoners.

 

Unconfirmed reports had initially claimed that the commotion was the result of the poor quality of food the prisoners were served when they wanted to break their fast on Thursday.

 

Nasarawa, however, denied the claims that the crisis was the result of lack of food items or poor quality of food for the inmates.

 

He added that normalcy has now been restored to the area.

 

More to follow…

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Reps fall for satire, set to probe fake report on China-bound penises from Nigeria

 

The house of representatives has resolved to probe a report on a confiscated shipment of p3nises from Nigeria — only that no such thing happened.

At Thursday’s plenary session, the green chamber deliberated on a motion on the purported shipment which was said to be on its way to China.

 

Sponsored by Rimamnde Kwewum and Olajide Olatubosun, respecitively, from Taraba and Oyo, the motion sought the intervention of relevant government agencies in probing the reported illicit trade in human organs.

 

According to Kwewum, “about two weeks ago, acting on the information provided by an anonymous source, Chinese authorities seized a cargo ship that sailed from Nigeria with 7,200 refrigerated penises, which were found in 36 boxes labelled as plantain on the ship that harboured at the Shanghai port called Red Market.

 

“The Chinese General Administration of Customs had alerted that an increasingly large number of armed groups in Africa use organs which are harvested in unsanitary conditions to finance their nefarious activities.”

 

Pause. It is purely a satire.

 

The lawmakers approved the motion, not knowing that the story in question was fabricated by a satirical website.

Checks by TheCable showed it was first reported on March 19 by World News Daily Report (WNDR), a satirical website “where facts don’t matter.”

 

WNDR had said in its report: “Chinese customs officers have made the world’s biggest seizure of human organs in history this morning, a total of 7221 penises of African origin hidden in a refrigerated freight container.”

 

But the story, like every other article published on the website, was meant to be a satire and not from a real event.

 

There is also no record of such incident anywhere as confirmed by previous fact check reports including from Reuters.

According to a disclaimer on the WNDR website, “all characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people –  are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.

 

“WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content.”

 

So, who will tell the lawmakers?

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Al-Qaeda: I stand behind Pantami – Buhari breaks silence, blasts Nigerians

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the backlash against Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

 

Buhari declared his support for Pantami amid the backlash from Nigerians.

 

Pantami was recently linked to terrorists’ organisations like Al-Qaeda and Taliban due to his past radical preachings.

 

Following the emergence of his past, Nigerians have been calling for his sack and prosecution.

 

Pantami, however, distanced himself from such extremist groups.

 

He also admitted making such controversial comments but claimed his perception has changed.

 

Responding, Buhari berated Nigerians for their harsh disposition towards Pantami and some public officials.

 

He stated this in a statement signed by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.

 

The statement reads: “Today, there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that makes leaders in politics, religion, and civil society liable in the present for every statement they have ever made in the past – no matter how long ago, and even after they have later rejected them.

 

“This insidious phenomenon seeks to cancel the careers of others on the basis of a thing they have said, regardless of when they said it.

 

“The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is, currently, subject to a “cancel campaign” instigated by those who seek his removal. They do not really care what he may or may not have said some 20 years ago: that is merely the instrument they are using to attempt to “cancel” him. But they will profit should he be stopped from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.

 

“The Minister has, rightly, apologized for what he said in the early 2000s. The views were absolutely unacceptable then, and would be equally unacceptable today, were he to repeat them. But he will not repeat them – for he has publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong.

 

“In the 2000s, the Minister was a man in his twenties; next year he will be 50. Time has passed, and people and their opinions – often rightly – change.

 

“But all discerning Nigerians know this manufactured dispute is nothing to do with the Minister’s prior words, but solely concern his actions in the present.

 

“This Administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians – and that includes ensuring they are not over-charged or under-protected for those services on which modern life depends.

 

“The Minister has been leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing; he has revolutionized the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money; he has established ICT start-up centres to boost youth entrepreneurship and create jobs; he has changed policy to ensure locally produced ICT content is used by ministries, starting with his own; and he has deregistered some 9.2 million SIMs – ending the ability for criminals and terrorists to flagrantly use mobile networks undetected. In two short years, Minister Pantami has driven the contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP to more than 18 percent, making it one of the top two playing a critical role in the emergence of the economy from the COVID 19-induced recession.

 

“In putting people first, the Minister and this administration have made enemies. There are those in the opposition who see success and want it halted by any means. And there is now well-reported information that alleges newspaper editors rebuffed an attempt to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies, many of which do indeed stand to lose financially through lower prices and greater consumer protections. The government is now investigating the veracity behind these claims of attempted inducement, and – should they be found to hold credence – police and judicial action must be expected.

 

“The Administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.”

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NEC refutes Obaseki’s claim, says no money was printed to support March allocation

 

The National Economic Council (NEC) says the federal government did not print money to support allocation to states in March.

 

Laolu Akande, spokesman to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, in a statement, said the council affirmed this position at its meeting on Thursday.

 

Godwin Obaseki, Edo state governor, had raised allegation that the federal government printed N60 billion in March to support allocation for states.

 

The governor had insisted that Nigeria is in deep financial trouble, despite rebuttals from the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to the statement, NEC received presentations from Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, and Kayode Fayemi, chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), during the meeting.

 

The council affirmed that “there was no printing of N60 billion or any other amount whatsoever to shore up allocation for the month of March.”

 

The statement said both Ahmed and Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, informed the council that “the allegation of the printing of money to augment allocation was out rightly false.”

On the issue of security, the spokesman said the council unanimously affirmed the unity of Nigeria and said it would adopt the report of the national townhall meeting on national unity and security held recently in Kaduna.

 

He said the council welcomed the outcome of the townhall meeting, while urging states to hold wider consultations across the country and report back to NEC the outcome of the meetings.

 

Akande added that a national consensus would be reached on the recommendations including the adoption of state police, among other matters.

 

Present at the NEC meeting presided over by Osinbajo were state governors and ministers of FCT, finance, transport, information, aviation, water resources, and state for budget and national planning.

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Stop pushing me, I can crush you all – Buhari to bandits

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the latest killing of tens of people by bandits in Zamfara State.

The Nigerian leader warned that “such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later.”

 

President Buhari in a reaction to the incident said that “this insane and persistent violence against innocent people must stop”.

 

He added that “these criminals should stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks the capacity to crush them.”

 

The President directed the military, security and intelligence agencies to take immediate steps to close all existing gaps in their operations being exploited by criminals to wreak havoc.

 

He expressed hope the Special Operation launched by the military at 3:00am on Thursday from Maru Local Government area will prove decisive in ridding the state of the “frequent and horrifying “bandit activities.

 

“The violence against poor villagers who are struggling with poverty and other severe economic challenges is not going to be tolerated by this administration,” the President warned.

 

Buhari has called on the security forces to “redouble their efforts in bringing an end to this mindless violence against innocent people.”

 

“Let’s not give these criminals any opportunity to succeed by taking the war to their own camps and stop them in their tracks before they even have the time to respond under our massive fire power.”

 

Buhari reassured the people of Zamfara State that, “despite the latest set back in our efforts to protect our citizens, there will be no compromise in our determination to defeat these enemies of humanity.”

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93-year-old Adebanjo weeps, dignitaries pay tributes as Odumakin burial rites begin

Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, shed tears uncontrollably while paying tributes to his organisation’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, on Thursday.

Adebanjo wept when he joined other dignitaries at lying-in-state, day of tributes and service of songs held on Thursday at Police College, Ikeja as parts of the funeral rites for the late activist, who died at 54 on April 2 in Lagos State.

Adebanjo, who broke the barrier of culture to attend the funeral rites, urged human rights activists to continue in the spirit of Yinka Odumakin, by being courageous and fearless if they truly love the deceased.

“I am not God, I am a human being. There is nothing impossible for God to do but as a human being, I will say it will be difficult to replace Yinka. Where can we find a young man of his age, not materialistic pursuing a cause he believes in selflessly, courageously, relentlessly and consistently? Yinka, God knows you are a blessing to Nigeria,” he said.

Speaking in tears, Adebanjo added, “It is not easy to talk about Yinka. Yinka is an irreplaceable material. Why should I be here? You can’t question him, leaving a man of 93 to take a man of 55-years. God, you are omnipotent, please replace him quickly for us.”

On his part, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu charged politicians and members of the Civil Society Organisations, to uphold the legacy and struggle of the late Odumakin.

The Governor said, “Yinka was one-half of the most formidable couple that we have seen in our history and the other half is his beloved wife, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who now sadly has to continue this struggle without her husband, fellow comrade, and big friend that I know he is to her. My sister, you will continue to push on strongly in the trenches.

“We are passionate about what he believed in and what he stood for. He wanted the best for Nigeria. He wanted the best for his Yoruba nation but he was completely detribalised and he used his voice to advance the cause and the needs of the voiceless. Until the very end, he kept going.

“He kept speaking up, he kept working hard for a Nigeria that we all can be truly proud of. A  Nigeria that will be land of justice, a Nigeria that will be fair, a Nigeria where equity would become the watchword, and a Nigeria that will truly reflect true modern federalism.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said he left the Green chamber where he was presiding to pay last respect to the late Odumakin, who he described as “a man of courage, integrity, true democrat and a man who stood for truth and nothing else”.

The widow of the late Afenifere spokesman, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who described her husband as an “encyclopedia of positive activism” said the tributes by Nigerians will continue to embolden her to do more by continuing what her husband fought and stood for.

“One thing that will never make me break down is that his ideals will live forever; his legacy will remain. All that he has lived for remain. Yinka, you are not dead; you are alive, you will continue to live in our unconsciousness. And to live in the unconsciousness of the people is to live forever. Yinka Odumakin, my comrade lives on,” she said.

The lying-in-state, day of tributes and service of songs was attended by Mr. Tayo Ayinde, the Chief of Staff to Governor Sanwo-Olu; former governors –Mr. Peter Obi (Anambra), Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), and Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), ex-Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele; Pastor Ituah Ighadalo of Trinity House Church, Afenifere chieftains, politicians, and human rights activists among others.

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‘1 million Pantamis can’t stop spread of Christianity in North’ – Apostle Johnson Suleman

Apostle Johnson Suleman of Omega Fire Ministries, has declared that people like Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Planning cannot stop the spread of Christianity in the North.

Pantami was recently linked to terrorists organisations like Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

This followed the resurgence of an audio recording of his past teachings where he supported these terrorists organisations.

He also distanced himself from such extremist groups.

Amid his denial, another allegation was raised against Pantami that some Muslim leaders plotted the death of former Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa.

Reacting, Suleman warned that divisive and separatist ideologies would have adverse effect on governance.

In a tweet, the clergyman wrote: “1million ‘patanmis’ cannot stop the spread of Christianity In northern Nigeria or anywhere for that matter.

“Divisive mentality and separatist ideology can never produce good governance. We are counting days to the exit of a failed system. We have survived,we will survive.”

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BREAKING: Security operatives foil jailbreak in Kano

 

Security agents, on Thursday evening, prevented a jailbreak by inmates of Kurmawa prison, located around the emir’s palace in Kano state.

 

Sporadic gunshots were heard within the area where the prison is located, as residents prepared to break their Ramadan fast on Thursday evening.

 

Musbahu Nasarawa, spokesman of the Nigeria correctional service in Kano, confirmed the incident, adding that the inmates attempted to cause pandemonium but were resisted.

 

“We have put down the rebellion through the concerted efforts of the prison officials,” the spokesman said.

Nasarawa noted that violence broke out when prison officials attempted to retrieve illicit items found with some of the prisoners.

 

Unconfirmed reports had initially claimed that the commotion was the result of the poor quality of food the prisoners were served when they wanted to break their fast on Thursday.

 

Nasarawa, however, denied the claims that the crisis was the result of lack of food items or poor quality of food for the inmates.

 

He added that normalcy has now been restored to the area.

 

More to follow…

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‘Isolation centres, hazard allowance, PPEs’ — FG explains how N500bn COVID fund was disbursed

 

Clement Agba, minister of state for budget and national planning, has given a breakdown of how the federal government disbursed the N500 billion allocated for COVID-related expenses.

 

Agba disclosed this at the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP) conference organised by Connected Development (CODE) in partnership with BudgIT, a civic advocacy organisation, in Abuja.

 

On Monday, BudgIT had said there are no comprehensive details of disbursed COVID-19 funds on the government’s open treasury platform.

 

But speaking at the conference on Thursday, Agba said out of the N500 billion for COVID-19, N288 billion has been released to implementing agencies.

According to NAN, he also noted that the total package includes “N500 billion stimulus from special federal government account in the budget, and N1.8 trillion through financial institutions”.

 

“From the N500 billion stimuli from the revised 2020 budget, there is provision of N126 billion to build resilient health system in Nigeria to prevent possible loss of lives,” he said.

 

“The government set out to improve health infrastructure by building molecular labs in 52 federal medical centres and teaching hospitals across the country.

 

 “Others include provision of isolation centres, paying hazard allowance for health professionals, providing personal protective equipment for security agencies and hospitals to continue their operations, supporting agencies like the NCDC, NAFDAC, among others, to play their roles in combating this pandemic.

 

“Most of the MDAs received at least 50 percent of the budget for projects. Like ministry of agriculture, which has N34 billion as budget for rural roads,  was given 50 percent of that amount and they were also given 50 percent of the amount for land preparation, which is N1.25 billion.

 

“The mass rural electrification and solar power strategy had N6.2 billion released to them; FERMA received 30 billion for bridges and major roads; ministry of trade and investment got N75 billion MSME programmes, while federal medical centres with about N49 billion budget, received 50 percent of that amount allocated.”

 

Agba said the government provided mass rural electrification and solar power projects, while the president also directed the disbursement of cash to additional one million households, as part of social intervention programmes to protect vulnerable persons affected by the pandemic.

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DSS informed FG of Pantami’s extremist views before ministerial appointment, says ex-director, Amachree

 

Former Assistant Director with the Department of State Services, Dennis Amachree, has said the secret police informed the Federal Government and the National Assembly of the past radical pro-Taliban views of embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami before his confirmation as minister in 2019.

This came as the Federal Executive Council, FEC, said the alleged link of the minister with Al-Qaeda and Taliban some years ago was not discussed at its meeting yesterday.

 

These came on a day the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, at plenary, moved for the immediate resignation or sack of the minister for showing sympathy to the deadly activities of insurgents.

 

Amachree, who spoke while featuring on PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable, yesterday, however, said the minister must have been confirmed by the National Assembly due to a lot of factors, including federal character balancing.

 

Pantami, a former director-general with the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, is the only member of the Federal Executive Council from Gombe State.

 

Amachree also said the minister should resign as it was difficult to deradicalise someone of his kind.

 

He said DSS had information on all individuals of interest, adding that the minister’s past extremist views were communicated to the Federal Government and the legislature.

 

He said: “There is no information that escapes the DSS. We have all of it, all. When I was working there, we keep a catalogue of anybody of interest that comes up to limelight in this country.

 

“During the vetting process for anybody to be appointed a minister or commissioner or anything, your name is sent to the DSS for vetting. They check your background up to the extent of your grandmother.

 

 ‘’They check your schools up to the extent of your primary school. And of course, they keep a tab on you online and offline. We get a lot from open source intelligence and I can tell you that in Pantami’s case, we have it.

 

“But there is a political angle to it. When somebody is being appointed, if the security agencies see that there is something wrong with his name, they will send it to the appointing agency.

 

’The appointing agency will now decide amongst other variables either religious variable, federal character balancing variable, or political variable and say that, ‘Oh, yes, we know that this guy has this and that but let’s appoint him.

 

“So, the political decision is not taken by the SSS. Even when you go to the Senate for confirmation, there is party by party and you can see that there are some political candidates that the opposition party will say that this one will not be appointed but because he belongs to that party, they will appoint him.

 

‘’So, these are political and federal balancing where they will say that there is nobody from this place that has been appointed, so let’s appoint him.”

 

The ex-DSS director, who disclosed that the United States was gathering information on the communications minister, said:  “He (Pantami) has just submitted his name into US database. The cataloguing of people is not automatic, it comes in drips and drops.

 

‘’Now, people are talking about him and that has come to the attention of the United States Embassy in Nigeria already. Now, they will do a deeper dive into his background. They will catalogue him and now they will start watching him and if it comes to a very critical level, they will place him on a no-fly zone.”

 

Also yesterday the Federal Executive Council, FEC, said the minister’s alleged link with Al-Qaeda and Taliban some years ago was not discussed at its meeting.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who briefed State House correspondents at the end of the council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the issue was not raised at the meeting.

 

Pantami was not physically present at the meeting but attended virtually from his office.

 

Fielding questions on whether the council discussed the matter and government was comfortable with its burden on its image, Alhaji Mohammed said:  “I’m not going to go into the issue of whether government is comfortable or not.  I will answer your question directly. It was not discussed at the council meeting.”

 

Pantami, who had been embroiled in controversies over his previous comments endorsing both terrorists organizations has, however, announced that he had renounced the views.

 

He said during his daily Ramadan lecture at Annor Mosque in Abuja last Saturday that he now knew better about some of the comments he made in the past.

 

Pantami had posited that the campaign against him was politically motivated, saying “for 15 years, I have moved round the country while educating people about the dangers of terrorism.

 

‘’I have traveled to Katsina, Gombe, Borno, Kano states and Difa in Niger Republic to preach against terrorism.

 

“I have engaged those with Boko Haram ideologies in different places. I have been writing pamphlets in Hausa, English and Arabic. I have managed to bring back several young persons who have derailed from the right path.

 

“Some of the comments I made some years ago that are generating controversies now were based on my understanding of religious issues at the time, and I have changed several positions taken in the past, based on new evidence and maturity.

 

“I was young when I made some of the comments; I was in university, some of the comments were made when I was a teenager.

 

“I started preaching when I was 13, many scholars and individuals did not understand some of international events and, therefore, took some positions based on their understanding, some have come to change their positions later.”

 

Meanwhile, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, yesterday called  for the immediate resignation or sack of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami for showing sympathy to the deadly activities of insurgents.

 

Relying under matters of privilege, Elumelu asked the House to cause a debate on the issue, particularly demanding Pantami’s exit from office.

 

Elumelu said that Pantami’s apology didn’t hold water, stressing that even the minister had apologized for his previous links with terrorists.

 

He said:  “Mr Speaker, my privilege borders on one of the serving ministers called Sheikh Ali Isa Ibrahim Pantami. He is the Minister for Communication and Digital Economy of the federal republic. And the portfolio that he currently occupies gives him the free latitude to administer, coordinate and manage flow of sensitive information within and outside the shores of Nigeria.

 

“Mr. Speaker, there have been insinuations that he has direct links and personally subscribes to the extreme Islamic beliefs of Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Boko Haram sects. Evidence compelling the cyber space lays strong credence to a relationship and existing mutual collaboration between him and the deceased Yemen terrorist.

 

‘’Recently, Mr speaker, while the minister was answering questions during his daily Ramandan lecture a few days ago, he owned up that he took extreme positions in support of the brutal exploits of Al-Queda and Taliban out of ignorance, claiming that he was young when he did that but now he is matured.

 

“Mr Speaker, I feel it will be out of place for me to sit here and allow this chamber not to speak about it and totally call for his resignation or suspension.”

 

Ruling on the matter, the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, who presided over plenary, faulted Elumelu for raising a point of privilege without showing how his privileges were breached.

 

This however, came when many members had indicated interests to speak on the matter.

 

Usually, such issues are presented as a formal motion to be debated but Elumelu came under point of personal privilege, prompting a technicality to it.

 

“I think you came under the wrong order. But your point of order is well noted. As you know, we don’t debate such issues, if it comes under privilege. Thank you,” Gbajabiamila said.