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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday returned to the country after spending 49 days on medical vacation in the United Kingdom, sparking celebrations in the Federal Capital Territory and some states in the North, including Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Nasarawa and Kaduna.
Many well-wishers slaughtered rams, chickens and celebrated on the streets.
The Presidential Aircraft with registration number 001-5N-FGT, conveying Buhari and some of his aides, landed at the Nigerian Air Force 401 Flying Training School Aerodrome at exactly 7.47am.
Buhari, who alighted from the aircraft at about 7.55am, after exchanging pleasantries with top government and military officials, went straight into a waiting helicopter that took him to Abuja.
Wild jubilation in Abuja, Katsina, others
There was jubilation in the FCT following Buhari’s return to the country on Friday after a prolonged absence.
Hundreds of youths in the FCT, particularly in the satellite towns, trooped out as early as 9am on hearing the news of the President’s return.
In Maraba, a border town between Nasarawa State and the FCT, hundreds of youths were sighted along Abuja-Keffi Road, celebrating the President’s return.
Abuja-Nasarawa Road was also shut down as it had been taken over by some northerners celebrating Buhari’s arrival and chanting, ‘Sai Baba’.
In Nyanya and Karu, youths, particularly from the northern part of the country, were jumping up and shouting “Baba oyoyo, baba yadawo (Baba welcome. Baba has returned). 2019, babu chanji (2019, no change).”
As of noon on Friday, the celebration was still going on along Abuja-Keffi Road, thus causing traffic congestion, particularly at the Nyanya axis.
There was also jubilation by residents in Jos, Plateau State, particularly along Bauchi Road.
It was learnt that there was reckless driving by youths and commercial tricycle operators in areas on Bauchi Road and Murtala Muhammed Way.
In Buhari’s home state, Katsina, there was also festive mood for the better part of Friday as residents trooped to the streets to celebrate the President’s return.
Jubilant residents thronged major streets, including Sabo Line, Nagogo Road, IBB Road, Kofan Kaora and Kofa Waya, some riding on motorcycles and in private vehicles singing the President and Governor Aminu Masari’s praises.
Some of the residents also displayed posters of the President and the state governor.
One of the jubilant residents, Halheri Haladu, expressed happiness that the President was back in the country.
Also, in Daura, Buhari’s hometown, residents took to major streets to express their joy.
The state governor, Masari, in a statement through his Special Adviser on Media, Abdul Labaran, described the President’s safe return to Nigeria as the best gift Nigerians had received this year and commended the people for their love and support for Buhari during the time he was away.
Some Bauchi residents also took to the streets on Friday to celebrate the President’s return.
One of our correspondents observed as some residents assembled at the gate of the Bauchi State Government House, requesting to see the governor to rejoice with him.
They displayed APC posters and flags.
One of them said, “We are happy that Baba Buhari is back safely. We are here to rejoice with the governor.”
As of the time of filing this report (5pm), they were still at the Government House, awaiting the governor, but no government official had yet to address them.
Some jubilant youths were also sighted on motorcycles on Gidan Mai-Ahmadu Bello Way and Wunti Road.
About five police vehicles were stationed at the Government House gate to forestall any breakdown of law and order.
There were also online reports of jubilation in Gombe State, with pictures of youths slaughtering rams, goats and fowls to celebrate Buhari’s return.
Early Friday morning, there were online reports that some residents of Kaduna State, particularly in its southern part like Kakuri area, had started throwing parties to celebrate the President.
APC, Atiku celebrate Buhari’s return
The All Progressives Congress and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar also expressed delight with Buhari’s return, saying it has put to rest speculations over his prolonged absence.
This was contained in two separate statements issued by the APC and the Atiku Media Office, in Abuja, on Friday.
The APC statement, which was signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, welcomed the President back into the country after his medical vacation in the UK.
Similarly, the former Vice President described Buhari’s safe return as a happy moment for him as a fellow party member and Nigerians in general.
Atiku said the President’s return at this time would put an end to the uncertainty and the conspiracy theories that attended his absence.
I’ve never been this sick, says President
On his return, President Buhari on Friday declared that he had never been that ill.
His statement contrasted sharply with that of top government officials who had insisted that he was hale and hearty.
“I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man, including in the military with its ups and downs,” Buhari said at a meeting he had with top government officials led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo shortly after he arrived the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It was learnt that the dignitaries that were there to receive the President at the military base had been awaiting his arrival since 3.30am.
Buhari, however, did not spend up to 20 minutes at the air force base in Kaduna as he was airborne at exactly 8am.
Addressing newsmen shortly after seeing off the President, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Barnabas Yusuf-Bala, said the state was elated to have received Buhari hale and hearty.
He said contrary to the insinuations from some quarters, the President was alive and well and had gone to “Abuja to resume work.”
There were top government officials waiting to receive the President by the time his helicopter touched down at the Presidential Villa, Abuja at about 8.42am.
Those already at the helipad include Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello; National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura; and Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
Dressed in a dark grey kaftan with cap to match, Buhari looked frail.
He shook hands with all the government officials there to receive him and waved to journalists.
The President and other government officials later moved in a motorcade from the helipad to the First Lady Conference Room, where some other ministers were waiting for them.
The wife of the President, Aisha, was absent at the helipad.
Some women however joined her at the President’s official residence to receive her husband.
Buhari meets with government officials
At the meeting Buhari had with top government officials, he said he could not recall the last time he had blood transfusion.
He said he was grateful to all Nigerians who prayed for his good health.
The President said the support he had received was a testimony that despite the hardship being experienced, Nigerians were in support of the government in its efforts to tackle the country’s challenges.
According to him, the best way he could repay Nigerians for their goodwill was for him to dedicate himself to serving them and protecting their interests.
Although Buhari said he felt better, he gave an indication that he would need to do further follow-ups on his health in few weeks time.
He said, “I am deeply grateful to all Nigerians -Muslims and Christians alike- who have prayed and are continuing to pray for my good health.
“This is a testimony that in spite of the hardship being experienced, Nigerians support the government in its effort to tackle our country’s challenges.
“The best way for me to repay you all is to rededicate myself to serving you, protecting your interests and keeping your trust. I thank you very much.
“I am feeling much better now; there may, however, be need to have further follow-ups within some weeks.”
The President also asked politicians and others who may be planning to send delegations to welcome him home to stay back in their bases and continue to pray for the country.
“Rather than sending delegation upon delegation to Abuja to welcome me, may I appeal to all Nigerians to continue to pray for our country’s unity, progress and prosperity,” he said.
Buhari said he had rested as much as humanly possible and had received the best treatment he could get.
The President also gave an indication that he had blood transfusion and had to be going in and out of laboratories.
“I couldn’t recall when last I had blood transfusion; I couldn’t recall honestly, I can say in my 70 years (sic),” he said.
Buhari identified one of the problems of health care facing Nigerians as self-medication.
He however did not say whether that was responsible for his ill health.
He said, “I think one of our terrible things is self drug administration. We have to trust our doctors more and trust ourselves more.
“Where I visited, they only take drugs when it is absolutely necessary. They don’t just swallow everything.
“Having said that, I am pleased that I am back. I am pleased that the Vice President enjoyed this break and he has to do much more this time around.
“Youthfulness and intellect are squarely behind him while age and purely military experience are behind me.
“Let us continue to do the work. Nigeria will continue whether we are here or not.”
Buhari said he deliberately returned on Friday so that he could continue his rest while Osinbajo continued working.
“I deliberately came back towards the weekend so that the Vice President will continue and I will continue to rest,” the President said.
I had a challenging time, Osinbajo says
Earlier in his remarks, Osinbajo had said he had a “very interesting and challenging time” while he held the fort for Buhari as the Acting President.
He thanked the President for the confidence reposed in him by handing over the reins of government to him as Acting President and thanked God for Buhari’s safe return.
Osinbajo said, “Mr. President, I must say that personally, it has been very interesting few days for me. First, I want to thank you very much for the confidence reposed in me, more importantly, you demonstrated belief in our system, which is even more important than anything else.
“For me, I must say that it has been an interesting period going around the nation in borrowed robes.
“I must say I had a very interesting and challenging time but above all, the President gave us the good support.”
Buhari absent at Jumat service inside Aso Rock
However, the President on Friday afternoon did not join Muslim faithful for Jumat service inside a mosque located beside his office in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
After his meeting with some government officials at the First Lady Conference Hall, the President retired to his official residence.
Some government officials including Mohammed and Kyari attended the service.
Some civil servants and others, who had hoped to see the President, were disappointed.
Although no reason was given for his absence at the service, it was believed he needed rest after his flight from London.
President’ll transmit letter to NASS Monday -Adesina
In the meantime, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, has said that Buhari will on Monday transmit a letter to the National Assembly, informing the federal lawmakers of his return from vacation.
Adesina disclosed this in a message he posted on Twitter.
The presidential aide said the letter to the National Assembly would make Buhari’s return to work formal.
“PMB will on Monday transmit a letter to the N’ Assembly on his return to the country. That makes his return to work formal, and constitutional,” he wrote.
Also according to a statement by Adesina, the President on Friday called for more concerted efforts in ensuring that all Nigerian children get good education in order to be relevant in a world driven by new technologies.
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A Yola High Court on Monday sentenced a former Governor of Adamawa state, Mr James Bala Ngilari, to five years in prison without the option of fine. He was found guilty of the corruption charge filed against him by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The case was filed in September 2016.
The court presided over by Justice Nathan Musa, acquitted the former Secretary to the State Government, Mr Andrew Welye, and Former Commissioner of Finance, Mr Sunday Lamurde, who stood trial with the former governor on same offenses of 17 count charges.
Delivering judgement, Justice Musa, said that the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Ngilari violated the Public Procurement Act of the state by awarding contract for the procurement of 25 vehicles for his commissioners at the cost of N167 million without following due process.
He said Ngilari’s action amounted to executive lawlessness. Musa said that the five years was the least he could give Ngilari, whose lawyer, Mr Samuel Toni (SAN) pleaded for leniency “in view of his (Ngilari) invaluable contribution while he was the governor of the state during the trying moment of insurgency.
”Musa said that Ngilari would serve the sentence in the prison of his choice in the country “but for now he should start with Yola prison.”
Musa expressed hope that the conviction and sentence of Ngilari would serve as a deterrent to serving governors who engage in doing things without following due process. “It is my hope that this conviction and sentence will serve as deterrent to serving governors..”
The judge however discharged and acquitted Welye and Lamurde, saying that the prosecutor could not prove the case against them. Ngilari told newsmen before he was taken away from the court that he would appeal the sentence.
|Posted by Admin on March 4, 2017 at 11:05 AM||comments (0)|
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor Just as the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, Thursday took a swipe at two agencies of the administration for still engaging in untidy deals, President Mohammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption fight has taken more knocks, it was revealed yesterday.
While the Federal Govern-ment has adopted and placed incentives for whistle blowing as a means of fighting corruption in the country, top government officials have slapped the government policy by terminating the career of an assistant director, who raised the alarm that the sum of $229,000 and N800,000 had been diverted by key officials in the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa, an agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The whistle blower, Mr. Ntia Thompson, an assistant director with the Directorate for Technical Cooperation in Africa, who blew the lid in the fraud that embarrassed the key masterminds, was initially suspended from work on December 19, 2016 and was finally dismissed from service on February 7, 2017.
According to a public notice, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, KHADIJA BUKAR ABBA IBRAHIM, who supervises the DTCA, approved the compulsory retirement of Ntia from work with immediate effect. Although it was not clear as at last night if the letter had been served on the sacked director, a copy of the notice of his dismissal had been posted on the DTCA public notice board.
The sack letter signed by Sanda S. Isah, Head of Administration Department in DTCA and addressed to all staff, said, “ I am directed to inform you that following the recommendations of the Senior Staff Appointment Promotion and Disciplinary Committee on Acts of Serious Misconduct against Mr. Ntia U. Thompson, the Honourable Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chairman Presidential Inter-Ministerial Committee on the DTCA, has approved the Compulsory Retirement of Mr. Ntia U. Thompson from the services of the DTCA with effect from 7th February 2017. “In view of the above, Mr. Ntia U Thompson ceased to be a staff of the DTCA with effect from 7th February 2017. “All members of staff and the general public are hereby advised to take note”. The letter was signed and placed on the public notice of the DTCA on Friday with a handwritten instruction ‘Please Read’.
However, competent staff within the agency, who believe that the money in question was actually diverted wonder why both the police and the anti-graft agency whose attention was drawn to the fraud, turned a blind eye to the inimical act and allowed the suspects to go scot-free and boldly unleash their fangs on the victim. Competent senior officials in the DTCA provided documents to allege some of the 14-member panel raised by the government to probe the allegations of breaching service rules levelled against the whistleblower could have been compromised.
The officials provided a list of 11 new senior staff hurriedly employed by the leadership of the DTCA without advertisement or declaration of vacancies by the directorate in order to silence the panellists and get them to ease out the whistleblower from the establishment. The document shows that the 11 ‘new staff’ were all employed as either Administrative Officer or Accounts Officer on the same date of December 30, 2016, just a day to the end of the year.
The officials confirmed that the new employees are either direct children or relatives of the panel members who were supposed to interview Mr. Thompson and write a report based on the civil service regulations and decide on whether he should be commended for the act of patriotism which he showed by reporting the diversion of the money in question. One of the officials in the DTCA said, “If the government wants to know the truth about the identities of the 11 new staff and their relationship with the members of the panel that recommended the dismissal of Mr. Thompson, it should ask for the names of the new workers, their state of origin and their parents and see if they are related to the panellists.
“We have all the names and we can give them to the government any time they are ready to do proper investigation to know if the right thing was done and whether a minister and other top officials benefitted from the diverted cash or not,” one of the aggrieved workers at DTCA said.
It was not clear whether the sack of the staff would be approved by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, which has not been informed of the ugly development. Whistle blowing a new concept introduced by the present administration to horn in graft, has reportedly led to the recovery of billions of Naira so far but it is not clear why many top government officials are frontally opposed to it.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said he would speak to President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday on the outcome of the National Security Council meeting he presided over.
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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Defence, retired Brig- Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali; Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and service chiefs, during a security meeting at the State House in Abuja yesterday.
Addressing State House reporters after the meeting, Osinbajo said the fact that he received briefings from the security chiefs did not indicate that Buhari would not return soon from his medical vacation in London.
“No no no! Almost every month, these briefings are held, it is routine and it is the president who put in place this whole idea of regular briefings. It is even more important that we do so because of some of the issues arising like the cases of kidnappings, and I wanted the IG to inform us fully. Besides, the president is a process person and certainly, I am going to speak with him on developments here.
“So, it’s not an indication of anything. It’s only an indication that we’re committed to the security of the nation. The primary duty of government is to protect lives and properties, and that’s why we have to be regularly briefed. The good thing is that our men are doing extraordinarily well in the Northeast and that Southern Kaduna has also been contained. The peace building process is also going on very well,” he said.
Osinbajo, who affirmed that Boko Haram terrorists had been degraded, however stressed that the war had not ended yet.
The acting president said the Federal Government was still vigilant because of the terrorists’ capacity to do damage with suicide bombers.
Expressing satisfaction with what the military had done so far, Osinbajo said the briefing had shown “graphically that they are really on top of their game and that they are doing excellently well in the North east.”
Defence Minister Mansur Dan-Ali declared that the country was now very safe as all security challenges have been surmounted.