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Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani (left); Director, Praxis Academy, Jaye Gaskia and Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Rights, Ibrahim Zikirullahi during a press conference on current state of the nation in Abuja… yesterday.PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO

APC applies pressure on Malami over S’Court order

• Falana gives CBN seven-day ultimatum, demands details of new naira notes distribution
• Bayelsa governor urges calm over cash crunch • CSOs asks Buhari to uphold rule of law
• El-Rufai has advanced on his treasonable trajectory, says Osuntokun

Ahead of tomorrow’s Supreme Court sitting on the suit filed by governors against the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) currency swap, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is not leaving anything to chance in enforcing the apex court’s order over the controversial naira swap policy.

Yesterday, the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, held a crucial closed-door meeting at the secretariat of the party in Abuja with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), alongside the three aggrieved APC governors who sued the Federal Government to challenge the February 15 deadline on usage of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes – Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara).

The meeting is coming on the heels of Sunday’s meeting of APC leadership with the Progressive Governors’ Forum where they called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the AGF and CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to respect the order of the Supreme Court on the naira redesign policy.

The meeting, which started at 3:35p.m. took a little over an hour before all the relevant parties, departed.Efforts to get them to address the media proved abortive as they left without discussing or giving a hint on the agenda of their meeting. Malami declined to speak to reporters just as efforts to reach any of the governors met a brick wall. Adamu, who saw them off, simply said: “We are on the same page, there is nothing to say for now.”

“They won’t tell you anything. The national chairman has told them to ignore you people,” a source at the secretariat said.

RIGHTS activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has written to CBN, demanding details of the amount of new naira notes distributed to commercial banks across the country.He also demanded that CBN should provide the list of customers who have withdrawn more than the N100,000 maximum sum approved by the apex bank.

CBN has maintained that it printed enough new N200, N500 and N1,000 notes to go round, blaming politicians for hoarding the new notes. However, in a letter from Falana Chambers, signed by Femi Adedeji, Falana demanded that the CBN should provide details of how the new notes were disbursed to commercial banks. He further threatened to take legal action if CBN failed to provide the information in seven days.

MEANWHILE, Bayelsa State governor, Senator Douye Diri, has sued for calm following the raging controversy over the redesign of the currency notes.
Diri maintained that it is within the rights of the government at the centre to implement the policy and urged it to take practical steps to reduce the pains being experienced by Nigerians.

His Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as having spoken during the 22nd state security council meeting in government House, Yenagoa, yesterday.

He lauded the people of the state for not resorting to illegal means of resolving the issues, expressing optimism that the challenges being faced as a result of the policy will soon be over. His words: “We are all aware that by Saturday elections will commence. Our state has been safe and I like it to continue. 

“All of us should join hands with the security agencies, give information to ensure our state remains safe. Let me commend service commanders for ensuring our state is safe.

“We are all currently undergoing difficulty caused by some policies of the Government. The pain is time-bound but the policy has its advantages.

“Currency redesigning is an exclusive matter for the Federal Government. All we can do is to call on the Federal Government to reduce the impact on the people. I appeal to all Bayelsans to keep the peace. We have no other state of our own.”

THE Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, has virtually declared the Republic of Kaduna State and has continued to advance on his treasonable trajectory without being called to order, the Labour Party has observed.

The party also said that if el-Rufai had responded with same measure of alacrity he has demonstrated on the naira swap controversy to deal with the inter-ethnic sectarian crisis that has claimed thousands of lives in his state, would have been averted.

The Director General of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Organisation, Balogun Akin Osuntokun, said this while briefing the media in Abuja yesterday.

According to Osuntokun, in a speech titled ‘The Audacity of Duplicity’, since the infamous pronouncement of the Emilokan principle of the APC standard bearer, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Nigeria has been subjected to the full measure of utter selfishness and duplicity inherent in this concept. Leading the pack are the presidential candidate and his roaring proxy, Governor el-Rufai.”

Speaking about el-Rufai’s insistence on using old currency even when the Federal Government had ordered new monetary policy, Osuntokun said: “If you have a President who violated the Constitution, what you do is initiate impeachment proceedings at the National Assembly, not embark on internal insurrection and rebellion.  

“We urge the Nigerian public to shine their eyes very well and not allow themselves to be used as cannon fodders by duplicitous politicians, lest they become unwitting victims of sham populism and rank opportunism. Here is a refresher of the hew from which the Kaduna governor is cut.”

MEANWHILE, the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), on Monday, called on President Buhari, to uphold the rule of law order on the CBN naira redesign policy. They said the Federal Government must listen to the voice of the people.

The Director, Praxis Centre, Mr Jaye Gaskia, disclosed this in Abuja, on behalf of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and other partners at a news conference. He said the combined effect of the policy has been amplified hardships on the citizens.

In his remarks, the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said that citizens and businesses must have unfettered access to their money, access to cash, and ability to undertake unhindered transactions through both non-digital and digital platforms without further stress.

He said: “The principle of separation of powers must be respected and the FG should respect and uphold the pronouncement of the Supreme Court on the old denominations of the Naira that it marked to be phased out as legal tender.

“It must also, in particular, make the lower denominations of the Naira available for the operations and convenience of citizens in the informal sector and small business operators who, by acts of omission of the FGN and CBN, have become the primary victims of the assumed well-intended Naira redesign exercise.”

The executive director, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Dr Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, said: “It is horrifying that instead of responding to the cries of the people in the face of government induced of deprivations, pains and despair the oppressive machinery of the state was unleashed on protesting citizens, resulting in avoidable killings.

“Government must take responsibility for deploying actions that lead citizens into discomfort and force them to come out in protest.”

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Says it’s a reminder of Abacha’s dictatorship

A veteran journalist and rights activist, Mr. Richard Akinnola, has raised the alarm that the incoming government of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be intolerant of the free press.
Akinnola vowed that Nigerians would resist any planned “insurrection” against the independent media the way they fought Abacha’s dictatorship against the media.

Akinnola in an open letter dated April 1, 2023, written to the Director of Media of the Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Bayo Onanuga, expressed dismay that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) slammed Channels Television with a N5 million fine, following a petition allegedly written by Onanuga over an interview by the vice presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed.

NBC had last week slammed a fine of N5 million on Channels Television for allegedly breaking the broadcasting code in a programme with Baba-Ahmed.
The sanction came a few hours after Tinubu petitioned the station over its interview with the LP vice presidential candidate.
While fielding questions on a Channels Television programme, Baba-Ahmed asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, not to swear in Bola Tinubu as president.

The LP vice-presidential candidate said there is no president-elect because Tinubu did not allegedly meet the requirements of the constitution.
However, Akinnola, who in his letter reminded Onanuga of their long-time friendship, accused him of violating all the principles they both fought for under the military, particularly against the military onslaught on the free press.

He warned that Nigerians would resist any planned “insurrection” against the independent media the way they fought Abacha’s dictatorship against the media.
The letter read: “I hope you are now happy and satisfied that NBC has sanctioned Channels with a N5 million fine, following your petition over Datti Ahmed’s interview on Channels Television.

“Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Dr. Olu Onagoruwa (both of blessed memories) were the best of friends for several years but that friendship was truncated when the latter decided to join the Abacha junta as the Attorney-General, churning out despicable Decrees. Their relationship ended and Gani publicly upbraided his erstwhile friend.

“You and I have been friends for several years, fought many battles together against the military, particularly against their onslaught on the free press. I, therefore, feel pained that l have to publicly upbraid you for your recent public statements, particularly your petition against Channels Television, to NBC.
“Et tu, Bayo? I’m still trying to wrap my head around your sudden 360 degrees against all you fought for under the military. You are yet to be in government and you have started exhibiting intolerance against the independent media, the same thing you fought for all your years like Dr Onagoruwa did. I’m sure your principal, who has been a lover of a free press, would be embarrassed by your position.

“I watched the interview under reference and I must say, you are very unfair to Seun Okinbaloye, the anchor man who repeatedly cautioned Datti Ahmed for making some seemingly inciting comments, to the anger and discomfiture of Datti-Ahmed. So, in all conscience, what then is the basis of your petition to NBC? Can you compare that to your recent incendiary post against an ethnic group? Why are you making enemies for your principal, instead of friends, in a country so polarised? While your principal is preaching unity and healing, you are busy trying to make more enemies for him. Yesterday, it was ARISE NEWS Channel; today, it is Channels. Is that a foretaste of what to experience in the incoming government? So, we should be fixated on NTA and TVC? Isn’t that what you are trying to say proverbially? To say that I’m totally embarrassed by your silly conduct would be stating it mildly.

“For eight years, despite all vitriolic attacks on the president, Femi Adesina, as Special Adviser, Media to the president, did not petition against any medium but you wey never enter, don dey censor the media. What a shame! I can expect the disaster that awaits us if you become the presidential spokesperson. Do l subscribe to unfettered press freedom? No. I believe every freedom comes with responsibility. However, when you create a perception that the incoming government would be intolerant of the free press, we need to sound the alarm bell.

“My dear Bayo, it is often said that until a man tastes power or has access to money, you can’t judge his character. That may not be true because one of our mutual friends, Tunji Bello, has tasted both but has been the normal self that l have known for over three decades. His decent character has not changed, in and out of government. So, could it be that your real character is just unfolding? Just because you are now at the periphery of power, you are ready to obliterate all the values and principles you held all these years. What a shame!
“Take notice that we would fight this your planned “insurrection” against the independent media the way we, including you, fought Abacha’s dictatorship against the media.”

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The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has slammed a fine of N5 million on Channels Television for breaking the broadcasting law in a programme with Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed, Labour Party Vice Presidential candidate.

This is contained in a letter addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the television station and dated March 27.

The letter was exclusively obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.

The letter, with the title: “Broadcast of an Inciting Interview, A Sanction”, was signed by Balarabe Ilelah, the commission’s Director-General.

It read in part:” The NBC monitored the broadcast of a live interview of the running mate of the Labour Party Vice presidential candidate, Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed, by the anchor of Politics Today, Seun Okibaloye, on Wednesday, March 22.

“Dr Baba-Ahmed said it will be unconstitutional to swear in an elected president on May 29, 2023, because of election irregularities,” Ilelah said in the letter.

He noted that the broadcast was volatile and capable of inciting public disorder and therefore violated some sections of the broadcasting code.

This, according to him, includes the section that said no broadcast shall encourage, or incite, be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organisation, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity.

Ilelah added that according to the broadcasting code, broadcasters shall ensure that no programme contained anything which amounted to subversion of constituted authority.

He recalled that the NBC had engaged Channels Television severally to consider public interest before any programme is broadcast.

This, he said, was to ensure that the country was not plunged into anarchy.

“Consequently, on the following infractions, Channels Television is hereby sanctioned and shall pay a penalty of N5,000,000 (five million naira) only in the first instance,” he said.

He added that any further infraction by the television station would attract higher sanctions.

“You are advised to pay within two weeks from the day of receipt of this letter or the penalty will be graduated,” the NBC Director-General said


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Labour Dead

A governorship aspirant under the platform of the Labour Party in Imo state, Chief Humphrey Anumudu, has been found dead in his house.

WITHIN NIGERIA reports that his death comes after his return from a meeting at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja on Friday.

He died in his Lagos house in what family sources described as a “spiritual attack.”

A close friend of the deceased said he died around 5:30 pm on Friday.

Neither his family, nor party has made official statement on the development.

This is a developing story…

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