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*Govs demand concurrent use of new and old notes till year end, postponement of February 10 deadline for currency swap 

*President begs for 7 days to resolve cash crunch 

*Emefiele: No plans to extend deadline for old naira 

*Protests in Ibadan, Warri, Benin

*Akeredolu to Buhari: Cash, petrol scarcity may yield unpleasant consequences, act now 

*Deploy more money agents, Osinbajo tells banks

Deji Elumoye in Abuja, Nume Ekeghe in Lagos, Fidelis David in Akure, Sylvester Idowu in Warri, Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

Eleven governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) met with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday at the State House, Abuja, over the lingering cash crunch in the country following the Naira redesign, and demanded for the concurrent use of the new and old notes till the end of this year.

At the meeting, which was also attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, President Buhari rejected the demand of the governors and urged Nigerians to give him a seven-day grace to resolve the cash crunch.
Many Nigerians are finding it difficult to obtain the new Naira notes, resulting in protests in parts of the country like Benin, Ibadan and Warri.
The governors sought to share with Buhari the negative impact of the Central Bank’s policy, which they said had been undermining the painstaking efforts that had been put forth by this administration in transforming the economy.
But the President said the objective of the policy was not to create hardship but to provide the economy with much needed revitalisation and the benefits will be borne in the medium to long term.

Unfortunately, Buhari said, “inefficiencies and underhanded practices being carried out on the part of our banks as the primary distribution medium, have destabilised the smooth and successful execution of the policy.
“Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves. An extension of the time frame within which to complete this process will be made insignificant for as long as greed and selfishness continue to guide our actions.”
The President said he had received and seen televised reports about cash shortages and undue hardships that local businesses and the citizens are being subjected to and gave assurances that the balance of the seven of the 10-day extension will be used to rectify whatever issues that pose a threat to successful implementation.

While continuing to monitor the situation, the President assured that he would be meeting with both the CBN and the Security and Minting Company and a decision would be taken based on current realities in the best interest of the people.
The President stated that when considering the policy, prior to its initial approval, he demanded an undertaking from the CBN that no new notes would be printed outside the country, and he received firm assurances that there was enough capacity, manpower and equipment for the domestic execution of this exercise.
However, the president said he would interrogate these assurances as part of his engagement with the responsible agencies of government.
Finally, he thanked the governors for bringing the cries of the people to him, given their proximity to them and assured that there would be a solution to the problem.

Earlier, the governors, led by Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, while briefing the President, reiterated their position which is in full support of the policy decision to redesign the currency, and were convinced about the intent behind its thinking, but shared their concern regarding the current fallout which has a debilitating impact on their constituencies.
They told the President that as leaders within the party and the government in their various states, they were becoming anxious regarding the economic impact and the potential erosion to the democratic process, particularly the upcoming general elections.
They, therefore, requested that the President directs an adequate injection of the new notes and the continued utilisation of the old ones until the end of the year.
Speaking with newsmen after the APC governors’ session with the President, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State disclosed that they urged Buhari to allow both the old and new naira notes to co-exist to ease the suffering of Nigerians while also postponing the February 10 deadline to complete the currency swap.
The governor, who spoke with some reporters in Hausa, said while the CBN mopped up over N2 trillion of the old notes, it printed only N300 billion which was not enough to cater for citizens’ needs.

El-Rufai, who was in the company of his Kano State counterpart, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, said the apex bank should have printed at least half of what they mopped up, which is N1 trillion if it had wanted to implement the cashless policy.
According to him, the governors told the president that the masses were suffering and traders were losing their goods due to lack of patronage, citing the case of tomato sellers that travelled to Lagos with their goods but all got wasted because people have no money to buy.
El-Rufai, who said the governors appealed to the president to reconsider his earlier stance, however, said he did not tell them yes or no.
He added that Bagudu went back to meet the President privately with the hope of convincing him.

On the notion that he criticized the President because he wanted to become “a godfather”, the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said: “I don’t criticize President Buhari. I have never criticized President Buhari, it’s only those working with him who are telling him lies, they don’t tell him the truth, and they don’t tell him what the people are going through on these policies or decisions that are taken.
“What President Buhari brought, we support it. We know the reason he wants to do something, but they are not doing it right and they don’t tell him the right thing. We, the true followers of Buhari are not using him to get money for shopping, we are mandated to tell him the truth, and that’s what we’ve done.
“President Buhari himself knows me, he knows how we have been together, all these allegations I’m used to hearing them. Which godfather am I looking for? Tinubu is our Presidential candidate, we want him to win the election.

Emefiele Rules Out Further Extension of Deadline

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele at a press briefing in Lagos yesterday stated that there would be no further extension of the Naira swap.
He urged Nigerians to be calm, reassuring that the CBN is working assiduously to address all the challenges related to the redesign of Naira notes and the unavailability of cash.
He added that undue charges by Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) and super agents would be stopped.
He further reiterated that the policy was not targeted at any politicians as stated by some political bigwigs.
He said: “We do see that there will be some transient or temporary pains. But we are appealing, we are begging, we are on our knees begging people to please show understanding they should be calm. In our meetings with the banks, we have told them to set up tents and chairs, and give people numbers, which I’m sure some people will say is old-fashioned.
“But at this time that we’re trying to get the currency to circulate there should be a queuing arrangement and please be patient. The assurance we give is that it would eventually go around. “Eventually, the limits would be raised and the limits would be removed and people would be able to conduct their exchanges and businesses in the way it has always been in the past.”

Also, on the clamour to move the deadline by one year, Emefiele said: “I would say no. I’m sure that people are going to say that only last Tuesday, I said no, but I want to say unfortunately again, this time, we will not be looking at an extension of the deadline. Because we at the central bank, the deposit money banks, and other very important stakeholders, we are looking at areas where there is pressure and we are doing everything possible to address those areas of pressure.”
On the allegation that the Naira redesign is solely directed at a presidential candidate, he refuted such claims and stated that the policy was in line with best practices of managing the macroeconomy.
He said since the commencement of the programme, N2.1 trillion had been collected, leaving about N900 billion balance.

IG Orders Arrest, Prosecution of Naira Notes Racketeers

The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has ordered the arrest and subsequent prosecution of all individuals engaged in the sale or abuse of the new Naira notes issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Force spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, revealed this in a statement yesterday.
Baba directed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department and the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Force Intelligence Bureau to place officers and men of the department and the bureau across the nation on high alert to carry out the directives.
The police chief noted that this was in furtherance of the federal government’s policy and drive to uphold the provisions of the CBN Act, 2007, and dignify Nigeria’s currency.

The IG similarly charged all supervisory AIGs and Commissioners of Police in charge of police commands and formations to carry out full enforcement of the provisions of Sections 20 and 21 of the CBN Act, 2007 which criminalises, among other things, the hawking, selling or otherwise trading of the Naira.
“And, also, the spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira notes, falsifying or counterfeiting of bank notes, refusal to accept the Naira as a means of payment, tampering with the coin or note issued by the CBN,” the statement read.
Adejobi further noted that the IGP reiterated the mandate of the NPF to enforce all laws and regulations without any prejudice to the enabling Acts of other security agencies.
He also urged “all and sundry to cooperate with the police as it brings the long arm of the law to bear upon all violators of the provisions of the CBN Act, and other extant statutes in Nigeria, with a view to having a well-policed society in all ramifications within the country.”

Akeredolu to Buhari: Cash, Petrol Scarcity May Yield Unpleasant Consequences

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has advised President Buhari to take urgent steps to address the scarcity of Naira notes and petrol price hike in the country.
The petrol crisis and scarcity of Naira notes are resulting in protests in parts of the country.
In a statement yesterday, Akeredolu said the current situation was a recipe for “unpleasant consequences” if not properly handled.
He said: “The struggles and actual fights recorded in banking halls, ATMs and POS points, and markets across the country are disquieting. The choice of this period for the implementation of a policy, which bears an instant negative impact with no discernible mitigation in sight, raises serious suspicion of partisanship on the part of the CBN.
“The ordinary people are the victims. Depositors can no longer access their monies even to feed their families. Hunger is not the anticipated result of a monetary policy.

“While no reasonable person will contend with the decision of the CBN to discharge its statutory functions, the plight of the downtrodden must, however, be considered. Majority of Nigerians groan, at present, under the crushing weight of these crises.
“There is pervasive discontent in the land and unless some urgent redemptive steps are taken to ameliorate the debilitating effects of seeming desultory and nonchalant disruptions of their normal simple lives, a series of events with unpleasant consequences is inevitable.
“There is palpable anger engendered by frustration in the land. The wave of discontent increases with unbelievable rapidity across the country. The current hardship being experienced by the ordinary people forebodes unpleasant consequences. These crises may set in motion a chain of events, the end of which is better imagined.

“The federal government must make a categorical pronouncement on the availability of petrol and its price since it is the general belief that the country still pays humongous amounts as subsidy. A situation which permits a few individuals to inflict pains on the populace, seemingly without check, is deplorable.
“Emefiele must come clean on the new monetary policy. Nigerians are practically buying the country’s currency to feed when we are not in a state of war.
“The fact that the ruling party hopes to present candidates for election in the general elections in the coming weeks accentuates the level of suspicion as regards the possibility of having certain elements whose interests stand at variance with the general aspirations of the party and its committed members.
“There is no better way to de-market a brand than this ruthless execution of a pernicious motive. The Federal Government, through the President (Muhammadu Buhari), must act now.”

Deploy More Money Agents, Osinbajo Tells Banks

Concerned about the difficulty experienced by Nigerians in getting the new Naira notes, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met with some players in the FinTech space yesterday, with a view to exploring possible ways of mitigating the hardship.
Specifically, the Vice President at the meeting held at the State House, Abuja, urged regulators and the banks to deploy more FinTechs and money agents to the hinterlands to address the worrying situation.
Osinbajo said: “You need cash to pay for transport. For instance, in Abuja how do you take ‘drop or along’ or use a Keke NAPEP without cash, or buy foodstuff on the road or in canteens, or even buy recharge cards?

“Parents with kids in public schools give money daily to their children for lunch, most commerce is informal, so you need cash for most things.”
During the interactive session with a number of FinTech investors and ecosystem players, the Vice President said the CBN and the commercial banks should work with all FinTechs that have mobile money agents, not just some of them, in order to reach the farthest places in the country.
According to him, “it seems to me that banks must engage their mobile money operators – FinTechs with mobile money licenses and many of them have micro-finance bank licenses now and already have a network of mobile money agents or human banks or human ATMs (as they are sometimes called) who are responsible to them and they can supervise by themselves. They can do currency swaps and open bank accounts.”

Speaking further about some of the concerns arising from the redesign of the new naira notes, Osinbajo disclosed that more disturbing is the fact that after depositing your old notes, there are no new notes, so people everywhere in the urban areas and rural areas simply have no money.
The Vice President acknowledged that “there are logistical challenges that have to be addressed by the CBN and the banks, especially from the point of view of the average Nigerian and those in the hinterland who hardly use any electronic platforms.”

Protest in Warri, Benin, Ibadan

Scores of youths and women barricaded major roads in Warri and environs yesterday protesting fuel hike and the scarcity of Naira notes in the country.
The angry protesters took over the ever-busy Warri-Sapele road in Warri, breaching socio-economic activities along the route.
Another band took over the NPA expressway, by Delta Broadcasting Station, setting fire at the two sections causing traffic gridlock on the busy road.
The protesters accused fuel marketers and various bank managers of being responsible for the current hardship befalling citizens.
The protest, which started at about 10 am, took a concerted effort of soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Effurun to calm and dislodge the protesters, promising to prevail on relevant authorities to address the situation.

The protesters lamented that the Naira notes are being sold in high amounts by bankers and POS operators and fuel is also being hoarded by marketers.
According to the protesters, many families were now dying of hunger due to the scarcity of the Naira notes, as internet banking is being frustrated by bad networks.
In Benin City, Edo State, depositors who could not access their funds in different banks in the city blocked the ever-busy King Square (Ring Road) to traffic in protest.
The protest caused diversion of vehicular traffic to adjourning streets and roads.
The depositors, who are majorly youths, turned down all pleas from a detachment of police and men of the Edo State Traffic Management Agency who were available to control the traffic.

Residents of Ibadan metropolis, in large numbers yesterday, stormed major roads protesting against refusal of commercial banks in the city to dispense new redesigned naira notes through the ATMs and over the counter.
The protest which began peacefully at Agodi-Gate axis turned violent in some parts with the burning of a police station and destruction of public utilities.
When the protesters stormed the Oyo State Secretariat, Agodi, a police officer attached to the Governor’s office was injured during an attack.
The protesters who came with sticks, woods, broken bottles and other dangerous weapons forced the two main gates of the Secretariat open making the security operatives on ground to run for their lives.

However, an unconfirmed report said the police station at Agodi-Gate was set on fire, after a confrontation with officers of Operation Burst.
In most areas, roads were blocked while tyres were set on fire with thick smoke all over the sky.
In some areas, angry protesters resorted to molesting harmless passersby and extorting money from them.
The situation thus forced many banks to hurriedly shut down operations in the city.

There were reports that some banks were attacked by the protesters who were said to have damaged some of the ATMs.
Most major roads in Ibadan were deserted, while people were seen with green leaves trekking long distances.
Armed policemen in their patrol vehicles were stationed along the road to prevent breakdown of law and order.
Areas mostly affected by the protest included Agodi Gate, Idi Ape, Iwo Road, Mokola, Dugbe and Monatan.
In October 2022, Emefiele announced the plan to redesign the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, and asked Nigerians to deposit their old notes before January 31, 2023 when they would cease to be legal tender.

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 veteran journalist, Liadi Tella

In this Interview with EMMANUEL OJO, veteran journalist, Liadi Tella, shares the experience of his years of practice and other contemporary issues

You celebrated your 75th birthday on March 3. How do you feel attaining that age despite the below-average life expectancy in this part of the world?

Well, I’m grateful to Almighty Allah that made it possible for me to reach this stage. I’m in good health and sound mind; I just concluded my third book and I’m writing the fourth one. So, for the fact that I am this agile, I need to show gratitude to Almighty God, and I’m very pleased that Allah has been very kind to me. I’m so healthy; I still stand and I still drive myself occasionally. I have a driver and I also exercise a little. I hope I can live a little bit longer.

On your birthday, you got commendations from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); and the president-elect, Bola Tinubu. How best can you describe the way you felt?

I feel highly honoured and I pray that the Almighty God will bless the outgoing President and the incoming president. I thank God that he made me a journalist. If he didn’t make me a journalist, how would I have got such recognition from the outgoing President and incoming president? So, I thank God.

How did you venture into journalism? Was it coincidental or intentional?

When I started my journalism career in 1978, I didn’t know I would go that far. I started with Daily Times and by 1982, I was News Editor of The PUNCH before I joined Concord, where I spent one and half years on the foreign desk. God has been very kind to me.

I started unconsciously practising journalism at the Baptist High School, Iwo. I started the club, which was called Adete Press Club. We had a large board where we pasted articles, where people went to read in the morning, afternoon and in the evening, commenting on events around us in Western Nigeria and in Nigeria as a whole, and to answer questions on what we learnt in the class. So, with it, I eventually came up with a magazine called Adete Periscope. Adete Periscope was a student magazine launched by the principal of my school.

My class teacher then, Mr Oladunni, wrote in his testimonial, ‘A potential journalist.’ I went to him and said I couldn’t be a journalist because journalists of that era usually weren’t dressing well and weren’t wearing good shoes. So, I couldn’t fathom it. I said it was not going to be possible but he said, ‘That is what I see in you; you are the founder of Adete Press Club and the founder of Periscope magazine; is that not journalism?’ That was an apt statement from a psychological-oriented teacher. So, when I went for my degree course at the University of Benin, where I read Political Science, believing that I would be an administrator for politicians, in the class Augustus Adebayo, former SGF of the old Western Region, taught us Public Administration and told us in the class that administrators must be seen and not heard, they must be on tar and not on top. I said what kind of thing was that. I said I didn’t want to become a civil servant.

Having practised journalism for about five decades, how will you describe the experience?

Well, let me say that everything surrounds destiny but you have to walk into your destiny. When I was doing the NYSC service with Daily Times, I began to write articles for Times International. I wrote analysis for them since I read Political Science. I wrote great analysis for Times International and commentaries for Sunday Times. Within three months, the management invited me and others to choose between working in the administrative Department and going for Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at the expense of the company. So, I chose to go for Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at the then Institute of Journalism, Iganmu. That was where I became a trained journalist. Three months before the end of the NYSC programme, I was employed by Daily Times as a senior reporter. All graduate reporters were senior reporters.

I cannot be grateful to God enough. Four years as a reporter and news editor of The PUNCH. Again, PUNCH was the most radical newspaper in the 80s; respected and feared. You dare not give a PUNCH reporter a ‘brown envelope’, you dare not. We were very hard.

When I was appointed a foreign editor at the Concord, within one and half years, I was sent back to the news room as the editor. I never thought I would have gone back to the newsroom because I was travelling all over the world and I was enjoying myself and writing good reports, which were based on my knowledge of political science. There were no conferences held that I was not invited. I was a member of the International Committee against Apartheid. At some point, I was in Russia, in India, in Spain and all over.

Being an editor in such an era when the military government was in force, how was the experience for you not to compromise on the truth and on matters of public interest?

As journalists then, we were very stubborn. We didn’t mind the military. We were always ready to go to detention. When going to the office, we had our tooth brush and other items with us. Should they (the military) come to arrest, we were ready to go. We balanced our reports and gave people the opportunity to recall their sides of the stories. If we call and the person declines, we call again and after the third time, if there is no response, we publish the story like that and report that all attempts to get through to the person proved abortive. You can’t sue me for treason.

At Concord, I had an encounter that had to do with the military. My reporter scooped a story about military posting. It was detailed. I called the public relations officer of the military and he did not respond. So, we used the story like that and slammed it on the cover. Many of them that were promoted and deployed had yet to get their letter of deployment. The military came for my reporter and arrested her because it was her by-line that was on the story. I told the editor that we had to rescue the reporter, and the training is that you must never disclose your source of information. So, I surrendered myself by going to Apapa, and I told the director that the reporter couldn’t have published a story on her own because I edited and published it and that if there was anyone that should have been arrested, it should have been me. So, I was put in detention and my reporter was released.

After two days of interrogation, they got nothing from me. The last person to interrogate me was my friend from school days, and he told me that I had not stopped my rascality and socialist movement. Then he released me, saying that I shouldn’t die in their detention. I didn’t really care because I felt that the act of the arrest itself would make me more popular in career as a journalist; so, I never minded.

Even in the days of (Major General Tunde) Idiagbon and those eras, things were very tough. In my column in The PUNCH in 1984, I wrote a six-serial titled, ‘The Kingdom of rat and rabbit’ and it was only The PUNCH that could publish such at that time. That was during the time of (Major General Muhammadu) Buhari and Idiagbon, telling them of how they treated Nigerians at the time. Luckily, I was not arrested.

In 1993, the election won by Chief MKO Abiola, who was your boss at the time in Concord, was annulled. What roles did you play at that time and did you have a personal relationship with him?

Apart from official duties as a journalist, I was Special Adviser to Abiola on Islamic Affairs and later turned Religious Affairs, because I was the one connecting the Catholic Church and other churches, seeking assistance and help for Abiola. I was the one that was sent to them with money. I was very close to him and I usually went to his house after the close of work. I would be there sometimes till midnight or past midnight before leaving. That story had been told in a book, one of my books, which will be out soon. So, I was very close to him and was his errand boy to so many people. I enjoyed it.

I saw the whole thing coming. In 1990, I wrote him a four-page letter that in making reparation for the Black race for over 200 years of slavery, the Americans would not look kindly at him. The European colonists who are owners of France and Britain would not look kindly at you to let them to pay reparation. If Germans under Hitler, who killed six million Jews, were meant to pay reparation from 1947 to 1990, why shouldn’t Africa be paid reparation for over 200 years of slavery and who were the beneficiaries of the slave trade? It was America and Europe. I knew they were going to conspire against him.

Secondly, he held a world conference on food sufficiency for the continent of Africa where he brought agric experts from all over the world in London and for two weeks, they were brainstorming on the Africa food plan. That was adopted by the OAU (Organisation of African Unity), now called AU (African Union) and later adopted by the United Nations. MKO Abiola used his personal and private resources to do these things. If he had become the president of Nigeria, you can imagine what he would have done. So, the West feared him, so, they conspired against him and killed him, using our local artists.

When the election was coming, it was the Yoruba people that dragged him into the presidential race; he (Abiola) never wanted to contest the presidency. At a time, he said he didn’t have money to go for or contest such an enterprise, that if he knew, he would have been saving for some 15 years earlier. The leaders of Yorubaland, about 16 of them, accompanied by Baba Gbadamosi came to visit MKO and in a single night, they raised N600m as donation.

What was your experience of the Abacha junta that shut down media houses?

I was not under any particular threat at that time because I was the deputy editor of the National Concord and the daily production of the paper took me away from the centrality of the actualisation of the June 12 struggle. I was only providing backup, networking, soliciting to media and protecting Kudirat (Abiola), who was upholding the mandate of her husband.

The day she was killed, we struggled to prevent her from going out because we had information that mad killers were after her but she was to meet the French ambassador. Sadly, I wrote the story of her assassination myself, where I laid out the story the way it happened.

You also ventured into politics at some point and contested the House of Representatives seat for the Iwo Federal Constituency but lost. What prompted you to venture into politics?

Well, as a journalist, I was connected to the movers and shakers of Nigeria, and whenever they were taking critical decisions, I also wanted something for my town, Iwo. But each time I wanted to intercept, they told me to also go into politics. So, I ventured into politics so that I could also attract federal projects to my constituency. It wasn’t really that I lost, but the Action Congress of Nigeria then rigged me out through my agent at the collation centre.

The BVAS was used in accreditation but could not transmit results in real time during the presidential and National Assembly elections as promised and that was used as a yardstick by many, including international observers, to say that the polls were not credible enough. What is your response to this?

I disagree with that because they (international observers) are agents of imperialism and they marked Nigerians down and wanted us to move towards their own kind of democracy and not our own kind of democracy. Hillary Clinton had an election in America, beat her opponent by almost two million votes and she was not declared president. Is that democracy?

What do you actually mean by ‘our kind of democracy’ and how does that differentiate from that practised in the United States?

Hillary Clinton, despite winning, was not declared winner. The white supremacies of America are the manipulators of the American election. They must be told the truth; they should leave Nigeria alone. America should leave Nigeria alone. They are the ones that killed Abiola. They had several plots, about six plots to stop Tinubu (Jagaban) from becoming the president of Nigeria. They did everything possible but God disgraced them.

Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party, didn’t garner his votes from the South-East alone. Some Yoruba and youths voted for him. How will you react to this?

Let them come out with the facts and figures. Facts are sacred. Well, Obi gave a good account of himself. The role of the church is that they are far more responsible for the election than the role of the youth. The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Catholic and other churches went to the grassroots to make sure that Obi was treated as the preferred candidate. Religion was taken to the highest point than any other election in the history of Nigeria.

During the Nigerian Civil War when the Igbo crossed Benin to Akure, we, the Yoruba donated two trailers loaded with food items and animals to the Biafran Army in Western Nigeria. If we hated the Igbo, we wouldn’t have done that. The impression given to the young Igbo is that Yoruba are traitors, but we will treat that on another day. We were never traitors to the Igbo. The subject matter is that those who want to destroy Nigeria are at work and they are making sure that Nigeria does not industrialise and work to become the world power. I am saying it loud and clear, please quote me. If they like, they can come for me. I will die at the time appointed for me. This blackmail of election is a plot to destroy Nigeria and we must not play into their hands.

Are there changes that journalism has undergone over the years based on the kind of journalism you practised then and that which is being practised now?

It is a very grave disaster. This era we find ourselves is the era of ‘fend for yourself’ journalism. Many media houses are not paying salaries. They also don’t give letter of employment, don’t give condition of service or review salaries for 10 years and the Nigerian journalists will be fighting for the Nigeria Labour Congress, for government to review the salaries of workers.

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The Zamfara State Police Command has paraded 21 suspects for various criminal offences, including banditry, kidnapping, theft and vandalisation, among others.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the command, SP Mohammed Shehu, said 17 of the suspects took part in post-election violence that led to the vandalisation and looting of public and private properties, including All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign offices across the state capital.

Items recovered are two semi-silent generators belonging to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Gusau; two standing refrigerator; vandalised doors; windows, tables, chairs, electric wires and different calibres of electronics, couches, 40 pieces of women’s wrappers, burglar-proof for windows and pillar reinforcement rods.

It could be recalled that police detectives led by the Commissioner of Police, Kolo Yusuf, had earlier arrested 40 suspects, recovered some of the looted items and vandalised property worth millions of naira which were displayed, and later charged the suspects to court and thereafter, remanded them in prison.

The police command in Zamfara also arrested a “wanted” notorious bandit accused of terrorising the state and environs.

The suspect, a male aged 25, was arrested by police tactical operatives on patrol who acted on intelligence.

According to the police, the suspect was already on the wanted list of the police for banditry, kidnapping and other heinous crimes.

“In the course of investigation, the suspect confessed of series of attacks and kidnapping on different communities in Zamfara State where millions of Naira collected as ransom from the relations. The suspect who further confessed of bearing GPMG during their operations, mentioned some of his allied which the police detectives is working assiduously to arrest. Discreet Investigation is ongoing,” the police said.

The command also arrested two suspects in connection with possession of 22 rustled livestock.

The suspects, aged 31 and 55, were reportedly arrested when the police were on patrol. Acting on intelligence information, they said to have intercepted and arrested three Toyota buses loaded with suspected stolen cows, sheep and goat from Dansadau to Gusau.

On sighting the police, the suspects attempted to abandon the vehicles and exhibits to escape, but they were rounded up and arrested by the police operatives, the authorities said.

“Suspects are currently undergoing discreet Investigation that will lead to the arrest of their collaborators before being charged to court for prosecution,” the PPRO added.

The Commissioner of Police, Kolo Yusuf, while applauding the people of Zamfara State for their unalloyed support and partnership, tasked them to sustain the synergy with the police and other security agencies for effective service delivery.

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The Department of State Services has said the embattled self-acclaimed Eze Igbo of Ajao Estate, Lagos State, Chief Fredrick Nwajagu, will be transferred to Abuja from the Lagos holding facility.

A security source at the DSS Headquarters, Abuja, who craved anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, disclosed this to Sunday PUNCH.

In an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday night, the source said, “He is in our custody in Lagos. We expect him to be taken to Abuja. He may not be alone.

“We have said before that there are people who are threatening the peace of the nation. The country will not allow anyone to plunge it into avoidable crisis.”

Sunday PUNCH reports that Nwajagu was arrested during a raid by a joint team of policemen and operatives of the DSS on Saturday.

A source within the Force, who preferred to be anonymous, told Sunday PUNCH that the Igbo leader had been arrested.

“A team of police and DSS went to his palace but he had already fled. He was later traced to a hotel in Ejigbo where he was arrested,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the state police spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the arrest, adding that the chief had been handed over to the DSS for further action over his inciting comments.

He said, “Yes, he (Fredrick) has been arrested and is currently in the custody of the DSS. They are in charge of anything associated with terrorism.”

In a now-viral video sighted by one of our correspondents, Nwajagu, speaking in a mixture of Igbo and English, had issued a threat to invite members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra to secure the property of Igbo people in the state.

He said, “We must have our security so that they will stop attacking us at midnight, in the morning and the afternoon.

“When they discover that we have our security, they will think twice before attacking us. I am not saying a single word to be hidden.”

He also charged the public to make his claims go viral.

Reacting, the leadership of the Lagos State chapter of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide said the comments made by Nwajagu did not represent the ideals of the Igbo people in Lagos.

The President of the socio-cultural group, Chief Solomon Ogbonna-Aguene, said the detained chief would be made to face the music alone, adding that he spoke out of his interest.

“He (Igbo leader) did not discuss his statement with any of us. The comments are his personal decisions and for his personal interests. Ohanaeze does not support such comment as its views.

“There are some comments that should not be heard from us as a socio-cultural organisation. We are supposed to be apolitical.

“We are not in support of what Chief Fredrick said. For him to mention that he is going to bring IPOB to Lagos is completely unnecessary. No Igbo person will support such arrangement. So, he is the one that will answer for himself. Let him go and face the music,” he said.

Ogbonna-Aguene explained that Igbo people had not found things easy with IPOB even in the South-East, stating that it was unfair for Nwajagu to threaten to invite the group to Lagos.

“Why then should he bring it up here in Lagos? If he wants to speak to IPOB, he should have met with them in his personal capacity, not as Eze Igbo. Who gave him the power to speak on Igbo interest,” Ogbonna-Aguene queried.

When contacted, the Chairman, Supreme Council of Ndi-Eze, Lagos State, Mr Omega Lawrence, said Nwajagu was not an Eze in Lagos.

“He is not a member of the Council of Eze. That is the truth. He is just our brother and his statements are unfortunate, but we cannot deny him. I condemn the statement in its entirety. We are not part of it,” Lawrence added.

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