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BIG STORY

REVEALED: How Ambode Fell Out With “Lagos Landlord” Bola Tinubu; His Many Sins Against The APC

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Lagos and indeed much of the entire South-West was on tenterhooks yesterday as political permutations against a second term for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode reached a crescendo with the unravelling of the governor’s political base.

Worse, the governor’s prospects of serving out the rest of his first term, it was learnt, was hanging in the balance upon claims of momentum to remove him from office if he does not drop his second term aspiration.

The governor’s support base which had been built around Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu unravelled after it emerged that a major contender for his office had emerged from one of the major political structures in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in the state, the Mandate Group.

The Mandate Group, Vanguard gathered, is presenting Mr. Jide Sanwo-Olu, incumbent Managing Director of Lagos State Property Development Corporation, LSDPC.

Ambode’s prospects outside the APC were also not being helped with the emergence of billionaire Mr. Femi Otedola as an aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Otedola who is vacationing in Paris, it was learnt, has, however, vowed not to contest against Ambode.

SUCCESSION CRISIS

In the face of the unfolding battle, many stakeholders spoke in hushed tones yesterday on the crisis of a second term that has shadowed successive successors of the political leader of the state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Political sources in the state yesterday said that after challenges that Tinubu got from Fashola, it was unlikely that Hamzat, one of Fashola’s options as a successor could get Tinubu’s support.

That means that the momentum was gravitating towards Sanwo-Olu who ironically served as a commissioner in the Fashola government. 57 LG/LCDA chiefs desert Ambode.

It was learnt yesterday that the chairmen of the 57 local government councils and development areas in the state had in a show of force endorsed Sanwo-Olu’s forms.
“That was meant to send a message to Ambode,” a political chieftain told Vanguard yesterday.

IMPEACHMENT RUMOURS

Ambode’s options were last night being narrowed as reports of an impeachment plot started swirling around political meetings around Lagos House and the State House of Assembly. The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Haruna, however, dismissed the reports of impeachment simply saying “it is not true.”

It was also learnt that emissaries sent by Ambode to Tinubu had been shut out, making the resolution of the Ambode crisis difficult. The situation left many political stakeholders in the lurch, with many saying that they were confused. This was mainly caused by the fact that Tinubu as at last night had not made a pronouncement.
However, the body language of the national leader was reflected by the fact that many of his trusted aides were said to have gravitated towards Sanwo-Olu.

One source said: “It is difficult to say anything right now really but it is true that some people have collected forms for Jide Sanwo-Olu and if he has collected the forms, it means he has the blessing of Asiwaju. He would not have collected the forms without Asiwaju’s blessing.”

MAKING OF THE CRISIS

It was leant that though efforts were being made for reconciliation, it was gathered that the face-off worsened seriously on Monday after Ambode went to Abuja to collect the APC governorship form.

He was said to have obtained the form without a full reconciliation with Tinubu. After collecting the form, Ambode proceeded to make a public declaration at the Old Task Force Ground, Alausa, Ikeja, without the obvious presence of chieftains and leaders of the party.

The fact that the declaration was not done at the party headquarters at Acme Road, Ogba, in Lagos sent negative signals as to the possibility of his estrangement from the Tinubu mainstream in his re-election bid, a source said.

Few of the local government chairmen who attended the declaration left midway and some even left before the ceremony started at 4.00 p.m. on Monday. Before the declaration ceremony, chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the APC, Babatunde Balogun had held a closed-door meeting with all the 57 local government chairmen at the party’s Acme Road office before they later dispersed and shunned the governor’s declaration ceremony.

A confirmed source says party members are currently confused and are awaiting the declaration from the National Leader of the party.

AMBODE WEIGHING OPTIONS

Ambode yesterday summoned a closed-door meeting of some of his top associates at Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, in order to weigh the options for the governor.

The outcome of the meeting could not be deciphered as at press time yesterday.
Though the crux of the meeting was unknown, it was gathered that the governor was open to all options, including dumping the party for another or walking away to wait for another opportunity from the party.

The governor’s capacity to fight back within the party or outside, it emerged, had been limited by his strained relationship with the Lagos State House of Assembly.

There were reports from within the House that the governor had instigated a plot to remove the speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, a strong Tinubu loyalist. That plot quickly unravelled.

It was also learnt yesterday that a sizeable proportion of the members of the State House of Assembly attended a meeting at the party secretariat to discuss the development.

One of the sources, who spoke under anonymity with Vanguard, said the lawmakers have resolved to commence impeachment moves against Ambode as soon as they resume from the recess.

A member of the State House of Assembly estranged from the Tinubu mainstream who spoke on the condition of anonymity said yesterday:

“It could be rumour, but the source I heard it from was an indication that it is nothing far from the truth.

“Although, it was debunked, the people I heard it from were those I believed knew what they were saying. The people I spoke with gave it a possibility that, it is real. Asked, where the impeachment move is coming from, he said, “Unfortunately, it is coming from both the Lagos State House of Assembly and all the LCDAs.
According to another source, all the chairmen of APC in 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs have signed the nomination form of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as an alternative choice.

GENESIS OF AMBODE’S TROUBLE

Ambode’s troubles with the political establishment in Lagos had for long been reported in political circles in the state.

A South-West governor close to Tinubu was said to have been at the forefront of the agitation to stop Ambode’s second term ambition.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, and Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, it was claimed had prevailed on the APC leader to support Ambode’s re-election plan.

At the centre of the allegations against Ambode was that the governor alienated the political mainstream in the state. Some others described the governor as heady with a capacity to decapitate Tinubu and his associates should he get a second term.

The issue of the PSP operators in the disposal of refuse was said to have been very touchy for the political elite, many of whom were entrenched in the PSP scheme as a way of servicing the political base.

Ambode, however, dismantled the scheme without as much appreciation of their role.
Even worse for the governor was the fact that the alternative arrangement made to replace the PSP operators have not done a good work, leading to mounting heaps refuse in the commercial capital of the country.

Party stalwarts had also complained that traditional acts of patronage that normally came the way of government did not come from Ambode.

However, Ambode it was claimed, decided not to patronise the political leaders on the premise that he had left politicking for Tinubu while he concentrated on the act of governance.

RUDE SHOCK

The face-off between Ambode and Tinubu came to the fore recently at a stakeholders’ meeting at the party’s secretariat, at Acme Road, Ogba, Lagos where Tinubu throughout the meeting failed to raise the hands or endorse a second term for Ambode which was a rude shock to members in attendance.

It was gathered that various support groups which had been created for Ambode’s re-election campaign had for some time been put on hold, pending final clearance from Tinubu.

FAILED EFFORTS

On different occasions, recently, some APC chieftains (names withheld) have confirmed that a number of political leaders and traditional rulers had impressed it on Tinubu not “to listen to those inciting him against Ambode.”

One of the chieftains who confided in Vanguard at the weekend, simply stated, “Ambode is at a crossroads” because all his supporters have backed off as all efforts to resolve the difference met a brick wall with Tinubu who insisted on a fresh candidate (kept to his heart) for the job.

Oba Akiolu was said to have tried to convince Tinubu to change his mind, but all proved abortive.

According to the chieftain, “It is only Tinubu and Ambode that can resolve the issues, not even President Muhammed Buhari. The issue is like that of a married couple having a family grudge.

No third party can really know the source of their fight let alone resolve it. The two, Tinubu and Ambode, must have a closed-door meeting without a third party to settle this current imbroglio. This is not about loyalty, it’s fundamental.”

APC KEEPS MUM

However, it was learnt that members of the State Executive Council have been jittery over the development, not knowing where the pendulum will swing in the 2019 governorship ticket.

Those with political aspirations were said to be worst hit as they could be shown the way out at any moment. Most of them have started making moves, meeting the party leadership and stakeholders for an endorsement from Tinubu and other decision-makers.

One of the aspirants who spoke to Vanguard on the basis of anonymity said: “The decision of the party to adopt direct primaries has caused panic in the fold of the aspirants in Lagos. We are left in the dark, and that is why some aspirants have put on hold their ambition and begun moves to get Tinubu’s endorsement.”

 

Credit: Vanguard

BIG STORY

JUST IN: Orji Uzor Kalu Regains Freedom, Leaves Kuje Prison[PHOTO]

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Barely 24 hours after the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos ordered his release, Senate Chief Whip, and former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has regained freedom after six months of incarceration.

He stepped out of Kuje Correctional Centre this evening after the completion of his release formalities.

The court had transmitted the judgment as well as Warrant of Release duly signed by Justice Liman to the authorities of Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja this morning to facilitate the senator’s freedom.

Justice Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos had on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of Kalu. He also set aside the trial, conviction, and sentence of the former governor to 12 years imprisonment on December 5, 2019, in accordance with the earlier ruling of the Supreme Court.

In his ruling, Justice Liman ordered Kalu’s immediate release from prison as well as set aside the earlier trial and order given by Justice MB Idris that Slok Nigeria Limited be wound up and its assets forfeited to Federal Government.

Kalu had gone to court asking for his release in line with the Supreme Court’s judgment last month nullifying his trial and conviction.

The Supreme Court had ruled that since Justice Idris was elevated to the Court of Appeal, he had no jurisdiction to have concluded Kalu’s trial.

The apex court therefore nullified the conviction and ordered a retrial.

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BIG STORY

#JusticeForBarakat: 18-Year-Old Undergraduate ‘Gang-Raped’, Murdered In Ibadan

Gbemileke Ajayi

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An 18-year-old girl, identified as Bello Barakat, was reportedly gang-raped and murdered by unknown men in Ibadan, Oyo state capital.

The incident was said to have occurred on Tuesday in the Akinyele area of Ibadan, Oyo state.

It was gathered that her dad found her dead body around their home after her body was examined, they discovered that she was raped, then she got murdered.

Bello Barakat, aged 18, was a year one student of the Federal College of Animal Health and Production in Ibadan.

It was gathered that she has been buried according to Islamic rites.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Southwest, zone D has demanded justice for the deceased who was assaulted and murdered.

Her death has continued to attract outrage nationwide as Nigerians have taken to social media to express their displeasure over the rising cases of Rape in Nigeria with the hashtag #JusticeforBarakat.

Recall that Ms Omozuwa, a 100 level Microbiology student of the University of Benin, was assaulted inside a hall in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Ikpoba Hill, Benin City on May 13, where she went to study.

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BIG STORY

COVID-19: If You’re 55 And Above, Avoid Mosques, Churches For Now —- FG

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The Federal Government on Tuesday gave an advisory to Nigerians saying “If you are 55 years old and above, avoid churches and mosques’.

Those with health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, HIV, among others, are also enjoined to stay at home to worship, the government added.

It noted that the advice was necessary because places of worship have been recognised as a major avenue of the potential spread of Coronavirus.

The government stated this through the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control. It released the guidelines for states to follow in discussions with religious leaders before the reopening of churches and mosques for worshippers.

The government said the protocols made available would be the baseline which the states are not expected to go below while firming up an agreement with religious leaders.

Nigerians have been pressuring the government to reopen worship centres in spite of the spike in COVID-19 positive cases, leading to easing of restrictions on religious centres.

The PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Aliyu Sani, who announced the guidelines said religious centres should keep a record of attendees.

Dr. Sani said this would allow for contact tracing in the case of virus spread.

He urged worshippers experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19 to stay away from churches and mosques.

He said: “We are strongly advising vulnerable individuals such as those with underlying conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV, cancer and those above the age of 55 years to please stay at home and consider remote participation or non-contact attendance.

“When we look at the death rate for persons who have died from COVID-19 in Nigeria, the case fatality rate; more than half of those that died were above the age of 50.

“Secondly, the case fatality rate if you are above the age of 50, is 17 per cent. If you are above the age of 55, it is 18 per cent. It is almost a one in five chances of dying if you catch COVID-19 and you fall within that group.

“Worshippers should be reminded not to attend in person if experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath or have had close contact with an infected person in the last 14 days.

“All worshippers noted to have a temperature or are symptomatic should be turned back and not allowed admission.

“Places of worship should ideally keep up to date record of their staff including contact details and if possible, a record of attendees of church services for instance or an even small mosque to enable contact tracing in the event that somebody comes up positive.

“Considering the dangers posed by the pandemic, we strongly recommend that religious visits to homes by religious clerics should be discouraged.”

The national coordinator said: “It is important to note that due to the nature of religious congregations, places of worship are particularly recognised to have a major potential for spreading COVID -19 infection among worshippers and this has been clearly demonstrated in several outbreaks globally linked to religious gatherings.

“Places of worship that are unable to comply with these measures should not be allowed to operate by state governments.

“Churches are to open from 5 am and close by 8 pm. Each service should be for a maximum of one hour with an interval of 20 minutes in-between services to allow time for disinfection.”

He said the task force will not hesitate to shut down religious centres if they fail to comply with the protocols developed for their reopening.

“These guidelines provide a baseline for the states to then develop their own policies specific to their areas depending on the prevalence of COVID-19, depending on whether or not people are likely to follow and comply fully.

“But we will be reviewing these guidelines from time to time and we will definitely review them if it looks like we are having issues with regards to this relaxation and I plead with the public to understand with us but more importantly, continue to stay safe.

“It is better to stay at home and worship than to go into a place of worship,” he emphasised.

Sani reminded Nigerians of the dangers posed by the virus, noting that now is not the time to relax measures against the pandemic.

“Let me make some clarifications because I understand there has been a lot of concern nationwide about the opening of places of worship.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 is still around, there is no doubt that it is safer for you to stay at home and there is also no doubt that it is safer for you to worship at home.

“The PTF is providing safety advisory or guidance in the event that you need to upgrade your spiritual needs and you cannot do it at home but we are not making recommendations that people should go to places of worship but if they chose to, we are providing advisory to enable them to do so safely.

“COVID-19 has not gone away. You only need to look at the numbers. We are in the exponential stage of the illness. We have moved as a country right up to the third position in Africa and because of our population, we could also move to the second position or even the first.

“So now is the time to continue to take precautionary measures. Now is not the time to relax. I hope I have made that clear.

“In view of the widespread community transmission of COVID -19, it is important that places of worship operate in a safe manner to ensure the protection of public health, avoid outbreaks and safeguard the health of vulnerable members of the population.”

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