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Buhari Would Have Arrested Me If I Was Corrupt – Atiku

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has said President Muhammadu Buhari would have arrested him if he were to be corrupt.

Abubakar said this on Monday in reaction to a statement by the Buhari Campaign Organisation that he was corrupt.

The reaction, via a press statement by the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation, said confusion had set into the President’s camp with the emergence of Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the PDP.

It said, however, that the statement by the Buhari Campaign Organisation, signed by its spokesman, Festus Keyamo, cannot hold waters as it is just a rehash of the old allegations not proven.

The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement released by the Buhari Campaign Organisation which cast aspersions on the emergence of His Excellency Atiku Abubakar as the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and suggested that his emergence was the result of money politics.

“We are not surprised that there is confusion in the President’s camp. We expected that they would be thrown into a catatonic state knowing that HE Atiku Abubabakr’s emergence automatically means the coming end of their ignominious reign. That much was admitted by the President’s former running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare when he praised the emergence of HE Atiku as an ‘Eagle’ and ‘a cosmopolitan wazobia’ politician. Obviously, Pastor Tunde Bakare has foreseen that the era of 97% versus 5% has come to an end with the emergence of the pan Nigerian Atiku Abubakar.

“We ask how can the Buhari Campaign Organisation disparage the PDP Primary that produced His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, when even the President’s own wife, Aisha Buhari, has condemned the APC’s primary? Not only did Mrs Buhari condemn APC’s primaries, but she also described them as ‘unfair’ and lacking in integrity. Who can know President Buhari better than his wife?

“Eleven aspirants contested against His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, during the Presidential primary of the PDP. Every single one of them accepted his victory.

President Buhari was the only candidate cleared by the APC to contest its primary.

Yet, a coalition of 5 aspirants is challenging his victory. That alone tells Nigerians his emergence is fraudulent.

“Nigerians know that Atiku Abubakar is the most investigated politician in Nigeria and any smear by the Buhari administration remains just that. With the vindictiveness of President Buhari, he would have arrested HE Abubakar if he had been found wanting.

“However, to set the record straight, we want to remind Nigerians that PDP’s primaries were genuine, free and fair. Atiku Abubakar got 1,532 votes in a contest televised live to millions of Nigerians. The All Progressives Congress’ primary, on the other hand, was a study in dictatorship and corruption. The sole candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, scored almost 15 million votes. How could that occur without rigging or manufacturing of faceless voters?

“No wonder Transparency International rated Nigeria as more corrupt today under Buhari, than just three years ago when the PDP was in power. The scandals are too numerous, including the $25 billion NNPC contracts awarded without due process, the several padded budgets, the $41 million Ikoyi Apartment scandal, the recall, reinstatement and double promotion of pension thief and Buhari financier, Abdulrasheed Maina, the N200 million grass cutter scandal, and many others too numerous to mention.”

BIG STORY

Lekki Shootings: US Reaffirms Visa Ban Policy For Anti-Democratic Forces

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The United States Government may impose a visa restriction on persons found culpable in the shooting of unarmed #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos on Tuesday.

This is just as the judicial panel set up by the Lagos State Government to probe the Lekki killings is set to begin an investigation into the incident on Monday.

Soldiers deployed to quell the protests had opened fire on protesters. While the Defence headquarters has denied deploying soldiers in the Lekki Toll Plaza, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu insisted the military carried out the shooting on the peaceful protesters at the toll plaza.

The governor said, “For clarity, it is imperative to explain that no sitting governor controls the rules of engagement of the military. I have, nonetheless, ordered an investigation into the rules of engagement adopted by men of the Nigerian Army that were deployed to the Lekki tollgate last night.”

Although the casualty figure remains a subject of controversy, a global rights group, Amnesty International, says 12 persons were killed in the incident.

Saturday PUNCH subsequently sent an email inquiry to the US Foreign Mission to Nigeria on whether those found wanting in the shootings would be banned from visiting the US.

The email enquiry read, “With regard to the shootings at the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos and attack on protesters in various parts of the country, will the United States Government be considering a visa ban on persons found wanting in the last few weeks?”

In its response, the embassy stated, “We stand by Secretary Pompeo’s statement of October 8, 2020: Adherence to these democratic norms and to the rule of law allows all citizens to engage in political dialogue and support their choice of candidates, parties, and platforms.

“We will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions.”

Earlier, senior officials of the United States Government on Thursday met with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and expressed displeasure over the shootings.

Although the Nigerian Army had denied deploying soldiers to the scene, the US officials demanded that the soldiers behind the shootings be brought to justice.

The spokesperson for the State Department, Morgan Ortagus, said in a statement that the officials were led by the Counsellor of the US State Department, Ulrich Brechbühl.

Others at the meeting include Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali.

The officials, according to the statement, raised concerns over the ongoing violence in Nigeria as well as human rights violations and human trafficking.

The statement read in part, “Counsellor T. Ulrich Brechbühl met with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo today in Abuja, Nigeria as part of a previously scheduled delegation, which included Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali, to raise US concerns about the ongoing violence in Nigeria, human rights, religious freedom, and trafficking in persons, and to hear from senior Nigerian government officials how they are addressing those issues.

“The counsellor expressed the US condemnation of the use of excessive force by military forces that fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos. He expressed condolences to the victims of these shootings and urged the government of Nigeria to abide by its commitment to hold those responsible accountable under the law.”

According to the statement, Osinbajo, as well as the counsellor, noted that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles.

“Counsellor Brechbühl and Vice-President Osinbajo emphasised the importance of US and Nigerian collaboration on common goals of improving security cooperation and strengthening economic partnership to foster mutual prosperity,” the statement read.

The Nigerian Army had on Wednesday denied that soldiers were at the toll plaza despite eyewitnesses’ accounts and video evidence showing soldiers shooting.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, had also acknowledged receipts of complaints over the incident.

She tweeted, “My office has been closely following the events around the current protests in Nigeria and the reaction of Nigeria’s law enforcement and security agencies.

“Any loss of life or injury is concerning. We have received information alleging crimes and are keeping a close eye on developments, in case violence escalates and any indications arise on that Rome Statute crimes may have been committed.”

However, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) made no mention of any investigation or arrest during his national broadcast on Thursday.

 

PUNCH

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BIG STORY

Sanwo-Olu Orders Clean Up Of Lagos, Eases Curfew From 8am To 6pm

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Following the widespread arson and destruction suffered in Lagos State this week, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has ordered the clean up of the state, saying Lagos must heal.

The governor made this known during a briefing on Friday at the State House in Marina.

He also eased the curfew imposed to stem the tide of the unrest in the state effective Saturday between 8 am and 6 pm.

He said, ” We have commenced the clean up of the city because the city needs to be clean up — a whole lot of roadblocks, tires burnt on the road…LAWMA (Lagos Waste Management Authority) are out already. They will be working all through the night.

“But in the event that they do not finish, I want to admonish and appeal to motorists and our citizens to be careful on the road. Please if you do not need to go out, please stay at home. But if you must and you have to go out, please drive with a lot of caution because there are still a lot of barricades, bonfires, broken bottles, burnt tires. Please be careful.

“We will try to clean up the city overnight. We’ve pushed all of the men outside.”

The two-week-old #EndSARS protests against police brutality had turned violent earlier in the week as rampaging hoodlums looted and razed public and private assets including banks, police stations, local government secretariats, television station, newspaper house, first-class palace, shopping malls, and many others in the state.

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BIG STORY

Dangote Demands Total Ban On Tomato Importation

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Managing Director, Dangote Tomato Processing plant in Kadawa, Kano State, Abdulkarim Kaita, has called on the Federal government to put a total ban on the importation of tomato paste into the country.

He made the call while flagging off the distribution of tomato seedlings to 5,000 farmers under the Anchor Borrowers programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday at Kadawa village in Kura Local Government Area.

“We are appealing to the Federal Government to put a total ban on the importation of tomato like what it did to rice,” Kaita said.

He said the call was necessary to boost the local production of the commodity and ensure that Nigeria was self-sufficient in tomato production.

According to him, the ban on the importation of tomato paste would lead to the establishment of more tomato processing plants, thereby creating job opportunities for many people in the country.

He lamented that the importation of tomato paste was still thriving as the commodity was being imported from Cameroon and Cotonou in the Benin Republic.

According to him, the company had on several occasions visited the Customs Headquarters and met the Controller General with a view to lodging complaints over the issue, but nothing was done to check the ugly trend.

“It is only by putting a total ban on tomato importation that the government can encourage farmers to grow the commodity for the country to be self-sufficient,” he said.

He said the company was working with the CBN under the Anchor Borrowers programme to provide tomato farmers with high yield seeds which would enable them to produce a minimum of 40 tons per hectare.

The company, he mentioned, was putting a lot of effort to ensure that Nigeria was self-sufficient in tomato production by establishing the biggest greenhouse in Africa, which had the capacity to produce 350 million seedlings annually.

He said, “There are 12 major tomato producing states in the country which if fully cultivated, in the next one year Nigeria will be able to start exporting tomato.”

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