Femi Falana (SAN) has described the 2019 general elections as an ‘expensive joke’.
Falana, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, urged Nigerians to organize themselves by going back to the drawing board if the country stands a chance at having credible elections.
“This country spent over N250 billion from public purse on this useless enterprise apart from what each of the governors and political party spent, which is more than 250 billion.”
“If we want to get out of the crisis of monumental dimension, we need to go back to the drawing table, beyond the two major political parties. Nigerians must organize because this expensive joke cannot continue.”
On the issue of reported violence across the country, Falana believes that no matter the amount of preaching, electoral violence cannot end, except there is an effort by the human rights community and the electoral offences tribunal to follow through the cases after elections.
“We have close to 40 million illiterate adults, the majority of them are roaming the street. In such an environment, you could preach till the second coming of Christ, but that will not stop people from getting involved in electoral offences and other acts of criminality.”
“All those who have been caught disrupting our elections are agents of politicians. The police and security agencies have arrested in the last 6 months, over 2000 electoral offenders, what do we do with them, once the elections are over, our attention will shift elsewhere.”
“An electoral offences tribunal are to take over these cases like the EFCC or ICPC and investigate them thoroughly and charge those who have been indicted, but the suggestion was rejected.”
“From the human rights community, we are trying to partner with the police and the INEC to ensure that we can assemble young lawyers to take on the prosecution of the cases of behalf of INEC. Otherwise, everyone will go back to business as usual as soon as possible.”
Falana opined that the option of ‘E-Voting’ would be problematic, citing examples of its use during the elections of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, and the Nigeria Bar Association NBA.
“Electronic voting is not the solution with the state of impunity and recklessness in the country; it is difficult. The EFCC is now investigating what we now call ‘E-Rigging’ in the NBA. The E-Voting system would be problematic because our political class is rarely prepared for credible elections,” he maintained.
Wike Accused of Funding Separatists, Criminals in Niger Delta
Governor Nyesom Wike has been fingered as the financier of separatists and criminal elements in the Niger Delta region.
This strong allegation was made by foremost civil society group, 4th Force Liberation Movement after thoroughly reviewing development in the polity in the state.
In a statement signed by Boniface Tegha, Secretary General, the group reasoned that owing to the governor’s antecedents, the state may be thrown into severe crisis as he resorts to violence as a favourite strategy.
Recently, a militant group known as Network of Niger Delta Republic Fighters warned of an impending breakaway, highlighting some selective maltreatment of Niger Delta people.
This and other separatists groups are heavily funded by Governor Wike according to the 4th Force as his individual greed continues to take prominence.
However, the group advised the embattled governor to forthwith desist from further separatist agenda and avoid dragging the Nigerian Army into his personal scheme.
“ The 4th Force Liberation Movement, after reviewing development in the polity of Rivers state in recent days, is concerned at the belligerence being exhibited by the governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike.
“ Already, since the conduct of the elections this year, Rivers state has been experiencing violence of a frequency, intensity and complexity never seen in the state before. We reliably gathered that the intelligence community have traced this upsurge in violence to the activities of thugs that the state governor empowered with weapons for the purpose of rigging the election in his favour and that of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), his party.
“ It has also been confirmed that the so called Niger Delta Republic Fighters, Wike’s new terrorist group is a reincarnation of Niger Delta Avengers, which suffered reputational damage after meddling in politics and becoming exposed to slush funds. The new group is reported to be packed full of thugs that engaged in acts of violence at Wike’s behest during the elections.
“ Disappointingly, even though Barrister Wike has been identified as the brain behind most of the criminal acts now bedevilling the Niger Delta region, he has taken no steps towards remediation, like calling the foot soldiers he armed to order. Even with the recent threats by some elements, like the Niger Delta Republic Fighters, to declare a breakaway republic on June 1, the Rivers state governor has not shown contrition.
“ What Barrister Wike has done instead was to begin a campaign of deceit and distraction, which he is using to take attention away from the key problem of growing separatist activities under his guidance. His lies about the military being involved in illegal oil bunkering is intended both to make Nigerians unaware of his plot at secession and to fool the federal government to withdraw the military from the Niger-Delta to allow his boys strike without resistance.
“ We therefore want law enforcement agencies to investigate talks of Barrister Wike and one Mrs Patience Jonathan know more than they are letting on in the instability brewing up in the Niger Delta. Of particular interest should be donations and fundings they have made in recent weeks since they use the covers of patronage for youth groups, socio-cultural associations and NGOs to finance the militants that are now threatening Nigeria with secession. Barrister Wike and Mrs Jonathan know that what they are involved in is no ordinary funding and provision of logistics for seemingly legitimate groups.
“ Security agencies are further urged to trail the flow of messaging from the terror groups since the press statements for most them are issued from Rivers State Government house with state resources being deployed for their publication. These statements, we gathered, Barrister Wike has instructed should be increased in frequency so that there will be uncertainty about the May 29 inauguration date for most states and at the federal level.
“ The 4th Force Liberation Movement uses this opportunity to warn Barrister Wike to cease and desist from further implementing his separatist agenda against the Nigerian state. This requires that the Rivers State Governor shuts up and stops using spurious allegations to distract Nigerians while his militants plan attacks against the country. Failure to heed this call will see Barrister Wike being exposed to the entire world as everyone now knows about his love for the blood of innocent citizens in the name of politics.”
Buhari’s Wife Acted Below Expectation, Playing Politics With a ‘Noble Project’
A group known as Global Economic Policy Initiative (GEPI) has accused Aisha Buhari, wife of the president, of playing “dirty politics” with a noble project.
Reacting to her criticism of the social investment programmes (SIP), Bernard Okri, president of GEPI, said Buhari’s wife acted below expectation.
At a programme in Aso Rock on Saturday, the president’s wife had said the programmes failed in the north.
She also tackled Maryam Uwais, special adviser to the president on social investment, saying she did not think that the N500 billion budgeted for SIP was being spent judiciously.
Buhari’s wife said she was sure that her husband appointed Uwais because she is from Kano where the president secured the highest votes in 2015.
Although the SIP is domiciled in the office of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, it is being coordinated Uwais.
Reacting to her comments, Okri said SIP remains one of the best programmes of the Buhari administration.
He said the president’s wife could not substantiate her points because she conducted a poor research.
“It is unfortunate that the wife of the president has decided to needlessly upbraid the social investment programmes of the President Buhari administration,” he said in a statement.
“She missed the point in her attempt to politicise and ethnicise a noble programme. One would expect Mrs Aisha Buhari to, like her husband, commend the programme. This is the first time in our country’s history that Nigerians would apply for a government programme and be picked strictly on merit, without knowing anybody in government.
“We have conducted independent surveys and have met real beneficiaries in rural areas in the northern and southern parts. All states have been covered. The N-Power programme for instance has beneficiaries in all the 774 local governments of the country. At least 80% of the states have all the programmes fully running in all local government areas.
“It is shocking that the Wife of the President without doing any proper survey makes an attempt to drag the programmes in the mud. For whatever reason this is being done, it is unkind and unfair.”
GEPI said Buhari’s wife drew conclusions from an encounter with one man, criticising her for claiming to know the impact of SIP from her “comfort” zone in Aso Rock.
“She can’t know the impact of the social investment pprogrammes from her interaction with one 74-year-old man. That is a very faulty methodology,” the statement read.
“To then use this faulty standard to deride an entire programme in the northern part of the country is unfair and amounts to playing dirty sectional and ethnic politics that divides the country needlessly.
“If the president had poured adulation on his deputy over the successes of the programmes, how come his wife saying the opposite? She should know better than play politics with this humanitarian project.”
Fulani Radio to Educate Herdsmen, Fishermen, Farmers, Hunters — NBC
The National Broadcasting Commission has said the proposed Fulani radio station will broadcast “purely educational,” programmes designed to cater for the interest of itinerant fishermen, herders, hunters and farmers.
It also called on all broadcasting stations to exercise restraint in the treatment of sensitive issues that could threaten the unity and stability of Nigeria.
The commission, in response to criticism of the planned radio station by Federal Government to reach Fulani herdsmen, urged broadcasting stations to be professional and take guidance from the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, at all times.
The NBC, in a statement on Saturday, reminded all broadcasters to be mindful of their social responsibility to promote the well-being and peaceful co-existence of the various groups in Nigeria in keeping with the objectives of broadcasting in Nigeria.
It stated, “The commission is reacting to the media controversy over the license granted to the National Commission for Nomadic Education for the establishment of a radio station to operate on the AM band.
“The National Commission for Nomadic Education duly applied for broadcast license in furtherance of its objectives to develop and maintain nomadic education outreach programmes, including electronically mediated ones.
“The letter of provisional approval dated September 28, 2018, was issued to the National Commission for Nomadic Education. The duration of the license is from October 8, 2018 to October 8, 2023.”
The NBC noted that the station’s programmes, which it describes as “purely educational,” were designed to cater for the interest of migrant fishermen, herders, hunters, farmers, and migrants.
It added, “Consequently, it is a misrepresentation for any person or organisation to imply that the licensed station was just for a particular group.
“The commission wishes to state that similar educational broadcast licences were issued to institutions of higher learning and other governmental institutions with comparable needs, such as the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the Federal Road safety Commission, and related institutions.
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