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Trump Impeachment Trial To Start After Biden Sworn In —- McConnell

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that President Trump’s second impeachment trial will not start until at least next week, formally rejecting calls to return the Senate to Washington early.

“The House of Representatives has voted to impeach the President. The Senate process will now begin at our first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House,” McConnell said in a statement.

He added that “there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial” could be wrapped up before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in Jan. 20, even if he were to agree with a request from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) to return the Senate to Washington, D.C., early to start the trial.

“This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact. The President-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the ‘quickest’ path for any change in the occupant of the presidency,” McConnell said.

The Senate is out of session until Jan. 19, a day before Biden will be sworn in.

Under a memo circulated by McConnell late last week, the earliest the Senate could begin consideration of the impeachment articles is at 1 p.m. either on Jan. 20, the day Biden is sworn in, or Jan. 21, the day after he is sworn in.

It will take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to convict Trump. No Republican senator has said yet that they will support doing so, but Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has said he’s open to considering articles of impeachment passed by the House. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have also called on Trump to resign, something he is unlikely to do.

Underscoring the shifting happening within the party, McConnell, in a letter to Republicans on Wednesday, didn’t close the door on ultimately voting to convict Trump, saying he was waiting to hear the evidence.

“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote in the letter to the caucus.

Several other GOP senators have said that Trump bears part of the responsibility of the attack on the Capitol. The president has spent weeks falsely claiming that the election was “rigged” and urged his supporters to march on the building amid the Electoral College vote.

McConnell’s statement came minutes after the House voted on a bipartisan basis to impeach Trump for inciting violence a week after his supporters stormed the Capitol as Vice President Pence and Congress were counting Biden’s Electoral College win.

Ten House Republicans voted to impeach Trump, making it the most bipartisan impeachment vote held for a president. Trump is the only president to be impeached twice.

McConnell’s announcement on the timing of the trial comes after his staff confirmed earlier Wednesday that he had rejected Schumer’s call to use authority granted to Senate leadership in 2004 to force the chamber to go back into session during a time of emergency.

Schumer, in a statement after the House vote, vowed to hold a separate vote to prevent Trump from holding office in the future if there are enough votes to convict him, which would be a first for a president.

“There will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate; there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors; and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again,” Schumer said.

“The president of the United States incited a violent mob against the duly elected government of the United States in a vicious, depraved and desperate attempt to remain in power. For the sake of our democracy, it cannot and must not be tolerated, excused, or go unpunished,” Schumer added.

McConnell’s decision means the trial will not start until after Biden is sworn in. House Democrats have also not announced when they will deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate, a first step to triggering the start of the trial.

McConnell, in his statement, argued that the federal government should instead remain focused on Biden’s inauguration, amid growing security concerns.

“I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden Administration,” McConnell said.

BIG STORY

Arewa Community In Lagos Launches Tinubu Support Group

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Arewa community in Lagos State has urged All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to run for president in 2023.

At a rally in Coker-Aguda and Itire-Ikate Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) of Lagos State to launch a Tinubu support group, the Arewa people said Tinubu possessed the quality needed to continue President Muhammadu Buhari’s developmental projects.

Their leader, Ahmed Abdullahi, noted that the former Lagos State governor had paid his dues in the political terrain; hence he deserved to lead the country.

He said Asiwaju Tinubu remained the most competent person to take over from President Buhari.

“We saw how he transformed Lagos State and made it a place for all to earn a living. He did not discriminate against any tribe by making Lagos home for all of us. We are telling the world; especially the people in the North that Asiwaju (Tinubu) can be trusted. We saw how he stood by President Buhari even when people were against him. This is the time for the North to return good for good because we are not known for betraying people,” he said.

Abdullahi said Coker-Aguda LCDA was picked for the launch because the council chairman is also a detribalized woman.

“She has made Coker-Aguda a home to all Nigerians by appointing non-Yoruba as special advisers,” he said.

Coker-Aguda LCDA Chairman Mrs Omobolanle Akinyemi-Obe thanked the Arewa community for launching a support group for Tinubu.

She said all ethnic groups in the council are routing for Tinubu to run for the president.

“We have confidence in Asiwaju Tinubu to lead our country to greater height and bring smiles to the faces of Nigerians,” she said.

Her counterpart in Itire-Ikate LCDA, Dr. Ahmed Apatira, described Asiwaju Tinubu as the best man to take over from President Buhari.

He said all tribes in the council are ready to support Asiwaju Tinubu.

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BIG STORY

South-East Governors Establish ‘Ebube Agu’, Regional Security Outfit, To Rout Criminals

Peter Okunoren

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South-east governors yesterday rolled out a raft of policy decisions, including the establishment of a regional security outfit, ‘Ebube Agu,’ to combat the security challenges facing the zone.

The outfit, with headquarters at Enugu, will complement the efforts of federal security agencies in tackling the security challenges in the region.

The governors, in a communiqué issued in Owerri at the end of a meeting, asked the heads of security agencies in the zone to draw up a comprehensive list of their logistics and material needs that will enhance their efficiency in combating the security challenges in the zone, so that the governors could provide them.

The meeting was the first gathering of the governors since last week’s attacks by gunmen who invaded the headquarters of the state police command, torching about 100 vehicles and freeing some detainees.

The gunmen also attacked the Imo State Correctional Centre and released over 1,800 inmates.

In the communiqué read by the Chairman of the South-east Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. Dave Umahi, the governors aligned themselves with the efforts of the federal government to find the solution to the security challenges in the country.

They condemned what they called terrorism and banditry in any part of Nigeria, particularly in the South-east.

They condemned the recent burning of police stations, violent attacks on custodial centers with the unlawful release of inmates, and the killing of security personnel, natives/farmers, and herdsmen.

The governors said they were on the same page with the federal government on the need to tackle the security challenges in the country.

They committed themselves to join the federal government to fight terrorists and bandits.

They also “resolved to bring together all the arsenals at their command, as one united zone, to fight and flush out criminals and terrorists from the zone.”

The communiqué noted that to achieve this, “there is a need to galvanize all the relevant stakeholders in the South-east, the political class, the business community, the bureaucrats and the intelligentsia to provide all necessary support to security operatives in the five South-east states to ensure total success in the fight against criminality in the zone.”

According to the communiqué, “The heads of all the security agencies in the South-east have resolved to exchange intelligence in a seamless, effective new order that will help to checkmate crime in the zone.

“To fast-track crime-busting in the South-east, the heads of security agencies have been mandated to draw up a comprehensive list of their logistics and material needs for sustainable success in the fight against criminality, for the immediate provision by the leadership of the South-east.”

The governors also resolved to set up a committee comprising security personnel, government officials and stakeholders, to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the Southeast joint security platform.

The governors applauded the initiative of the South-east security summit and to make it a statutory summit that would convene every quarter while its hosting shall rotate among the five South-east states.

“The meeting resolved to maintain a joint security vigilante for the South-east otherwise known as Ebube Agu. The meeting appreciated the formation of South-east joint security outfit code-named Ebube Agu, with headquarters in Enugu to coordinate our vigilante in the South-east,” the communiqué explained.

The governors also requested the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Usman Baba, to stop the influx of IG monitoring units and allow police commissioners and state and zonal commands to handle their cases.

The governors also requested Baba and other security chiefs to invite the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to find out the reason for the increasing insecurity of the region.

They also agreed that military policing in the South-east should be adequately funded to become effective.

“Meeting agreed that open grazing has been banned and the security agency should implement the ban.

“The meeting encouraged a peaceful co-existence of farmers and herders to allow governors to succeed in the fight against criminality,” the communiqué added.

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BIG STORY

774,000 Public Jobs Workers Protest Unpaid N20,000 Wage, Beneficiaries Tackle Keyamo

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Participants in the Federal Government’s Special Public Works (SPW) programme are protesting the delay in paying their stipend more than three months after kick-off.

The SPW is an Adhoc programme designed by the government to provide stop-gap three months jobs to mainly artisans to earn N20,000 monthly doing public works.

One thousand youths were hired from each of the 774 local government in the country as beneficiaries, bringing the figure to 774,000 councils.

The programme was inaugurated on January 5. The first batch of beneficiaries have completed their assignment without being paid.

President Muhammadu Buhari on March 20 directed the release of funds to pay the stipends.

Minister of Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo (SAN) hours after, directed the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Federal Government agency driving the programme, to start processing the payment plan.

Keyamo, in his official Tweeter handle, (@fkeyamo, assured the participants that they would soon receive alerts of payment.

Twenty-two days after, no payment has been made.

Some of the participants at the weekend took to Keyamo’s Twitter handle to ventilate their frustration.

One of them described the Federal Government as “heartless” for failing to pay them their stipend.

One Dubagari Jnr, tweeted: “What is happening with the SPW? Up till now, we have not been paid and have successfully finished our work. Please Hon. minister we need explanations on why we have not been paid and you have to start the disbursement before fasting (Ramadan).

Another worker, Maikudi Kolo, asked through a tweet: “Una no go pay 774, 000 workers?”

Abdoul Baqee tweeted: “People are hungry regarding the payment of stipends. Please fast track the payment of these people. 774, 000 people waiting anxiously for their payment with hunger and they don’t even have a phone to come to your timeline. When you get hungry just remember those people that work with hunger without their entitlement.”

Yusuf Mohammed Olawuyi asked: “Mr. Honourable minister, what happened to our SPW stipends? You already published that we will start receiving the alert from the beginning of April.”

When contacted, Keyamo directed our correspondent to NDE acting Director-General Abubakar Fikpo.

Fikpo said: “We are still in the process; we have identified some loopholes here and there. We want to verify the BVN of the participants. That is why we are working with the banks.

“We are verifying the BVN of those participants in order to avoid double payments to several people or to three or more accounts.”

About SPW Programme

The Special Public Works Programme is a dry season/off-season transient job for rehabilitation/maintenance of social infrastructure.

The Programme is designed to employ 1,000 persons each from the 774 Local Government Areas.

It is being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

N52billion was voted for the programme, part of it to pay participants at N20,000 monthly for three months.

The programme was expected to commence on October 1, 2020, but suffered a setback because of internal wranglings between Keyamo and a former Director-General of the NDE, Nasir Ladan. President Muhammadu Buhari fired Ladan.

There was also a big row between the National Assembly and Keyamo over the allocation of slots to hire beneficiaries.

N26 billion was released for the procurement of equipment and for logistics before the programme eventually commenced on January 5.

Keyamo, during the inauguration of the programme, said it will address poverty and hunger.

The minister said the programme was conceived following the success of the pilot scheme in eight states to gauge its impact in addressing the ballooning population of the unemployed and rising insecurity.

Keyamo noted that countries like India and Malaysia used similar programmes to fight poverty.

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