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It is obnoxious to equate Amnesty for Niger Delta militants with Bandits, Edwin Clark



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***Don’t make militants to return to the creeks

An elder stateman and Ijaw leader, chief Edwin Clark has adviced President Bola Ahmad Tinubu not to be carried away by various statements by some uninformed Nigerians that the Amnesty Programme in Niger Delta has not contributed to the prevailing peace in the region.

Clark who gave the indication at a press briefing on the state of the Nation in Abuja on Wednesday, spoke against the backdrop that many northern leaders and apologists have repeatedly called for Amnesty for the bandits and terrorists equating it with the Amnesty granted by late President Umaru Musa Yaradua for the Niger Delta militants.

According to Edwkn Clark, the attempt to equate the Niger Delta Amnesty with that they are calling for the Northern Bandits is not only obnoxious  but criminal.

He said former Governor of Zamfara State, Governor Ahmad Yerima and Ahmad Gumi an Islamic Cleric who called for Amnesty for the bandits were merely confusing two contemporary security issues, fight for resources in the Niger Delta and blatant criminality by the bandits in the North and agitation over oil.

Speaking more on the Ahmad Gumi, he said the cleric constantly defies logic by claiming that the bandits kill because of their ‘maltreatment’ by the Nigerian State.

“They also mistake amnesty for a blanket idea, to be politicised or invoked to reward mass murderers. It is not. 

“Amnesty worked in the Niger Delta primarily because its militants anchored their fight on the sound economic and federalist principle of resource control. 

“With their people alienated from the oil wealth extracted from their land, and the environmental despoliation in the region, the agitators had legitimate demands.

“But the blood-thirsty bandits ravaging the North have no legitimate, political, or economic claim that Nigeria is obliged to countenance. Because of the bandits, killer Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram/ISWAP/Ansaru, and IPOB, the 2023 Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria as the eighth most terrorised country in the world.

“Together, these terrorist groups slaughtered 63,111 Nigerians between 2015 and May 2023, the National Security Tracker estimated. Therefore, any deal with them translates to rewarding mindless criminality. 

“As some North-West states discovered, negotiating with amorphous groups of bandits with no central command or leadership has no positive outcome”.

He however, commended the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), for their forthrightness in condemning the advice of Ahmed Yerima to President Bola Tinubu in which he said the President should grant amnesty to the murderous bandits. 

“The reports stated that “the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, describe Yerima calls as unnecessary and unreasonable, noting that the bandits have no legitimate reason for their nefarious activities, unlike the Niger Delta militants whose agitation for Resource Control and good governance was legitimate and reasonable”.

He also commended some very prominent and reasoning northern Nigerians who also condemned the advice of Alhaji Ahmed Yerima to Mr President.

“On the other hand, I deeply regret the unfortunate statement credited to our newly appointed, most respected Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja on his statement as published in the media, where he said “I think we need to look at this issue of Amnesty Programmes. 

“The agreement have proven to be incorrigible and so Amnesty has created an avenue for them to re-organize and launch attacks on defenceless citizens. So, I think we need to look at that. 

“We also have the issue of the Amnesty Programme that has been instituted, and which has failed not only in the North, but also in many other states”. 

According to him,The statement of the Chief of Army Staff comes across to him as a proposal for the scrapping of the amnesty granted to legitimate agitators for a better life and environment by the Niger Delta youths. 

“If my understanding is correct, I seriously disagree with the Chief of Army Staff. I will rather advice him to consult through the past records of his former colleagues since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, viz Lt. Gen. Victor Malu, Lt. Gen. Alexander Ogomudia, Lt. Gen. Martin Agwai, Lt. Gen. Owoye Azazi, Lt. Gen. Luka Yusuf, Lt. Gen. Bello Dambazau, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, and his predecessor in office, Maj. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, the state of insecurity in the Niger Delta before the granting of the Amnesty, and what it is now. 

“I am confident that the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme has succeeded in bringing peace to Niger Delta particularly the vandalisation of oil pipelines and oil platforms. He should note that “Operation Crocodile Smile” could not stop the insecurity in the Niger Delta.

“As a leading stakeholder of the Amnesty Programme, it is, therefore, very necessary that I respectfully draw the attention and remind President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his government and the people of Nigeria, how the granting of amnesty to the Niger Delta youths, came about.   

“Before President Olusegun Obasanjo, handed over to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007, as leader of our people, I had earlier addressed a letter to him on the 11th of February, 2007, about Amnesty Programme, and he promptly replied on the 12th of February, 2007. I reproduce here an excerpt of the President Obasanjo’s response to my letter: 

“If MEND is ready to release the hostages in their custody and you are elected to mediate the process, this is acceptable to the Federal Government as I have indicated in the past, Government Ekpemupolo and his men will receive a general Amnesty if they agree to lay down their arms and follow the pact of peace, democracy and dialogue. 

“Since it is obvious that you know them and you know their movement, I hold you personally responsible for bringing these boys to order, particularly through their so-called leaders, Government Ekpemupolo and Henry Okah as indicated by you. I look forward to the release of the Italians and the Philippinos and their ship this week as you have promised…. 

“I would like to conclude by reiterating that the course in the Niger Delta can only be advanced if all stakeholders deal with a sense of honesty of purpose, integrity, and genuine interest in the development and prosperity of the region.

I wish you well in your undertaking which I hope will bring peace and sanity to the Niger Delta.

“I strongly therefore appeal to Mr. President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, not to be carried away by various statements by some uninformed Nigerians 

I therefore advice Mr. President to pay special attention to the survival of the Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta which still has some phases, and the word “Interim” should be removed from the “Administrator” because the impression being given by our people is that the interim is there because the Federal government want to scrap the Programme.

He also advised that the Amnesty Programme should not be confused by the massive oil theft being carried out by some elitist Nigerians in collaboration with some security agents which came to the open in 2005 when the scandalous arrest of the Russian MT African Pride by Admiral Bob Manuel that led to the trial of three Admirals, Rear Admiral Francis Agbiti, Rear Admiral Samuel Kolawole and Rear Admiral Antonio Bob-Manuel, and the other two Admirals were found guilty and Admiral Bob-Manuel was exonerated. 

He appealed to the youths to remain patient and not to do anything to affect the smooth operation of the oil companies while they continue to fight for our right legitimately, 

He reminded President Bola  Tinubu that it is only in Nigeria, that the oil producing communities are among the poorest, whereas, in other part of the world including USA, the oil producing States like California, Texas, etc are among the wealthiest 

“I reiterate again, that the attempt to equate the Niger Delta Amnesty with the northern bandits is not only criminal, but obnoxious and unconscionable. “The whole idea of comparing the Niger Delta militants who are exposed to all kinds of diseases, illnesses and deprivations, as a result of oil exploration, with people whom we are told are not Nigerians, who enter into the country illegally, thus violating the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol, is very inhuman. 

“Some Nigerians who live outside the Niger Delta, who are not affected by the pollution going on in the Niger Delta, but whose lifestyle is supported and sustained by the resources of the Niger Delta behave like the imperialists, who live by the proceeds of the colonized. “Unfortunately, such wealthy Nigerians, particularly from other parts of the country, rather than using these proceeds for the good of all by developing their region, they use it for and on themselves, for their selfish purposes, hence today, Nigeria is regarded the poorest country in the world taking over from India.”

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Akume inaugurates 15-man Committee for 63rd independence anniversary




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The Federal Government has inaugurated a 15-man Inter-Ministerial Committee to organise the celebration of Nigeria’s 63nd Independence Day anniversary.
The committee is headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume with the special adviser to the President on Policy and coordination Hadiza Bala Usman.
Speaking during the inauguration, Akume said the committee was constituted to plan, organise and execute all approved activities befitting Nigeria’s 63nd Independence Anniversary celebration on October 1, 2023
While reading his address Akume said,
“The celebration of the 63° Independence Anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices of our national heroes and heroines who fought for the independence of Nigeria from the colonial masters.
“The Celebration also affords the government an opportunity to showcase its achievements in dealing with myriads of challenges in social and economic sectors confronting the nation.

“Based on the foregoing, it Is expedient to note that time is of essence regarding the preparation for the 63° Independence Anniversary Celebratigh.

According to him, the proposed activities for the celebration would be subject to finalization by the Inter-Ministerial Committee and would Involve the following to be anchored by sub-committees: Worid Press Briefing 25″ September
and Church Service 1st October, Juma’at Service 29″ September, Symposium/Public Lecture 28″ September, Presidential Broadcast 1st October and Parade 2nd October

“The Terms of Reference of each Sub-Committee and list of members would be sent by the Secretariat while Sub-Committee Secretaries would present their budgets for consideration and approval as soon as possible.

Members of the committee includes, Minster of information and national orientation, Minister of interior, minister of foreign affairs, minister of FCT, inspector General of Police, the Commander Guards Brigade. The director of DSS, special adviser to the President Policy and Cordination, Permanent Secretary General services, permanent secretary Ecological project office, permanent secretary Ministry of Health, permanent secretary special services office, permanent secretaries political and economic affairs office.

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Akpabio grieves over the demise of Akintola Williams




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President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has expressed deep grieve over the death of Nigeria’s first indigenous chartered accountant, Chief Akintola Williams who died on Monday in Lagos at the age of 104.

Akpabio in a condolence message signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Public Affairs and Communications, Rt. Hon. Eseme Eyiboh lamented that the nation has lost an icon, adding that the late Williams was an institution.
“I received the news of the loss of our first indigenous chartered accountant, Chief Akintola Williams with utmost sadness because there could not have been a better time than now that Nigeria needs to drink from his fountain of knowledge and savour his fatherly advice and wisdom.
“It is indisputable that no Nigerian has impacted the accounting profession as the late sage for his achievements are firmly entrenched on the sands of history and would remain indelible in the history of our country”, the Senate President stated.

According to Senator Akpabio, “Nigeria has indeed lost an icon, an institution and father of accountancy who stood for truth and honesty and proclaimed the principle of accuracy and integrity with passion.

“Chief Williams was a perfect gentleman, a professional to the core and a strict disciplinarian whose footprints will be difficult to be matched by any accountant in Nigeria. He symbolized hard work, resilience and determination.

“As the first indigenous chartered accountant, he played a significant role in etching Nigeria’s enviable place on the world map in the accounting profession. He was also a role model to many generations of accountants who took to the profession because of him.

“I join millions of well-wishers across the globe to condole his immediate family, the accounting profession and indeed the entire Nigerians on.the loss of this sage.

“May the Almighty God grant the family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss and may He have mercy on the soul of Chief Akintola Williams and welcome him in His paradise, amen,” the statement stated.

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Obi celebrates boy who won global Toyota dream car art contest




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By John Akubo, Abuja

Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has congratulated a 10-year-old Nigerian pupil, Oluwademilade Odumuboni, who won the global grand prize for the 2022/23 edition of the Toyota Dream Car Art Contest.

Odumuboni, pupil of Corona School, Gbagada, Lagos, achieved the feat after beating 782,852 other contestants from 90 countries. The contest is organised yearly by Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan for pupils worldwide, challenging them to draw their dream cars with an inspirational idea.

Odumuboni’s waste converter drawing, with the concept of helping countries, especially African communities, in food production and ensuring clean environment, was adjudged the best. He was on September 2 honoured and presented with a prize money of $5,000, a trophy, and a certificate. His school, Corona, was also given $10,000 prize money.

Obi who tweeted on his verified Twitter handle, wrote: “Oluwademilade Odumuboni has carved his name on the global map at such a young age after creatively presenting a unique and truly inspirational idea.

“His story, therefore, reinforces my ever-consistent message on the overwhelming importance of education, especially at the basic level, and the need to invest aggressively in it.
“With over 18 million out-of-school children in different parts of the country, Nigeria misses out on the great opportunity of raising creative kids like Odumuboni, who will bring honour to the nation and grow to be responsible citizens, contributing to national development.”

“We will not only prioritise investment in education but ensure that every Nigerian child has access to at least, basic education, to be productive in today’s fast-changing world.
“I congratulate Master Oluwademilade Odumuboni, once again, and wish him the best in his future endeavours.”

He said with a future built on such bright upcoming stars, a greater Nigeria is Possible.

Culled from the Guardian

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