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Reintroduction of Ruga Will Disintegrate Nigeria, Clark Warns

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The convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Edwin Clark, has warned the Federal Government against reintroducing the suspended controversial Ruga scheme.

He said the reintroduction could lead to the disintegration of Nigeria.

While saying that it was good to diversity Nigeria’s revenue base from oil to other sources of income such as agriculture, he warned that policies to be introduced to boost agriculture must not offend the sensibilities of host communities or other parts of the country.

Clark gave the warning in his Abuja home while talking with journalists. He said, “Nigeria belongs to all of us. It is true that this country has been depending on oil and gas. One appreciates the efforts of the FG to diversity into areas of agriculture; but the recent introduction of Ruga is an abomination to the entire people of Nigeria. It is obnoxious, it is unacceptable. We cannot remain in a country where various different groups of people live to make Nigeria since 1914 and today you are introducing some sort of settlement of a particular group of the country in every part of the 36 states simply because you believe you are solving the problem of herdsmen and farmers. That is not the issue; you are not solving it.

“Ranching is the solution. If you want to maintain cattle rearing, it is ranching. That is what operates everywhere in the world. Even in less civilised developed countries in Africa. If you go to Brazil and East Africa, ranching is what they are doing. Even our founding fathers in the first republic established ranches. There were ranches at Obudu Cross River State, Ondo State and in the north. Nobody kicked against it but for you to introduce a settlement for resolving the problem between herdsmen and farmers is unthinkable.”

He accused some government officials of nursing hidden agenda and allowing foreigners from Niger, Chad and some other neighbouring countries to illegally settle in Nigeria under the guise of herdsmen.

He said, “Let us go back, we have been living with Fulani and their herds for very long time; even when I was young, they lived with us. When they are bringing their cows, they used their sticks and everybody gave way but today we see herdsmen armed with Ak-47 all over the country moving around, killing people, raping women, killing children and so forth, destroying farms and today not one single one has been arrested, no single one has been caught and his gun removed; that is the country we belong.

“Government is not interested in seeing that the herdsmen with arms that came from Niger, Libya and other places are addressed; they want those people to be settled in our midst. It is not the Fulani who are going round with cows that they want to settle. These (foreigners) are not the ones they want to settle. So I disagree with that project.

“They should now withdraw it completely. Whether they suspend it for another 10 years or so, if it comes back, Nigeria will not survive as a country. It is good they withdrew it. If they say they have just suspended it and they are bringing it back, no Nigerian will agree to it and that may be the beginning of the disintegration of this country. God forbid!”

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Let The Court Decide El-Zakzaky’s Fate – Presidency

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The Presidency appeals to El-Zakzaky-led Shiite members to desist from needless violent street protests and await the decision of the court in Kaduna where their leader is currently being tried.

The issue of El-ZakZaky is before the court in Kaduna and his supporters should focus on his on-going trial instead of causing daily damages, disruptions and public nuisance in Abuja.

It is wrong to be in court and resort to violence at the same time in order to get justice for anybody accused.

The destruction of public property in the name of protest is not within the right of this group of Shiite members and no government anywhere would have tolerated a situation where any group would take over public roads in cities as they have done in Abuja and interfere with the rights of other citizens who are prevented from reaching their destinations.

We imagine a situation where families are taking their loved ones to hospital for emergency treatment and they are held up needlessly by the protesters. No government anywhere in the world would turn a blind eye to this unlawful behavior.

As far as this country’s Ministry of Justice is concerned, the case involving El-Zakzaky is no longer in its domain. The Federal Government no more has hands in the matter and to that extent, the government at the centre can be said to be clear of any alleged violations of court orders as being trumpeted everyday.

These rallies and street dances ostensibly to openly insult the President and other leaders, threatening bloodshed will lead nowhere because President Buhari will not ask the country’s judiciary to abandon due process and set a suspect free. At the same time, the administration is determined to enforce the decision of the court clearly issued. The Buhari administration has absolutely no hand in the on-going court case and the courts are free to determine the bail request and the final outcome.

The mentality that you are above the law and that your own rights are superior to other people’s rights is unacceptable.

You can’t be provoking other citizens by interfering with their own rights on public roads and disrupting their businesses and call it democratic freedom. In democratic traditions, their rights end where the rights of others begin.

Law abiding citizens must avoid deliberate lawlessness. It is not within the rights of any group to enter protected public institutions such as the National Assembly by force to attack police and destroy public and private property.

It is always advisable to embrace dialogue and eschew violence in all our actions so that we can continue to live together in peace.

We therefore appeal to the Shiite group to stop deliberate provocations that result in violence and fatalities and allow the trial of El-ZakZaky to take its course.

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Atiku Gets 55 Cartons of Documents From INEC, Closes Case

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday produced the documents which the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, in Abuja called for on Wednesday at the instance of the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The documents contained in 55 cartons ahead of Friday’s sitting when the petitioners are expected to close their case.

As of Wednesday, which was the ninth of the ten days allocated to them to present their case, the petitioners had only called 58 out of its 400 proposed witnesses.

The petitioners are, by their petition, challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress at the February 23 poll.

The tribunal of five judges led by Justice Mohammed Garba had on Wednesday ordered INEC to produce the documents by noon on Thursday.

This followed the complaints by the petitioners that the subpoenas issued and served on INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, and the commission’s Residential Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara State to produce the documents had not been complied with.

The tribunal had on Wednesday adjourned the case till Friday, but the counsel for the PDP and Atiku, Chris Uche (SAN), attended the Thursday’s proceedings scheduled for hearing in respect of other petitions filed by the Hope Democratic Party and the Peoples Democratic Movement.

Uche said his presence in court was to ensure INEC’s compliance with the Wednesday’s order of the tribunal.

At about the time the five-man panel was to recede to chambers to write a ruling in respect of PDM’s petition, Uche informed the bench of his intention in court on Thursday.

In reaction, Justice Garba asked for update from INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN).

Replying, Usman informed the tribunal that the “documents had been substantially produced.

“It is a very tedious task, but we have to obey the court’s order.”

Within the period of the one-hour break observed by the members of the tribunal, INEC officials had brought in a total of 55 boxes of documents into the court room.

When the tribunal resumed sitting, INEC’s lawyer informed the panel that the order of the court had been complied with.

Pointing to the cartons of documents lined up in the courtroom, Usman said since the order of court was not for INEC officials on whom the subpoenas were earlier served to testify, the Director of Legal Services, Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola, was present to represent the commission.

He also said there was a cover letter signed by the secretary to INEC, Mrs. Rose Orianran-Anthony, accompanying the documents.

He noted that the request by the petitioners for result sheets for the National Assembly rerun election in Zamfara State were not available as no such election was conducted.

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Northern Coalition to Buhari: We’ll Hold You Responsible if Any Herdsman is Killed in the South

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The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) says it will hold President Muhammadu Buhari responsible if any northerner is attacked in the south.

Abdul-Azeez Sulieman, spokesman of the group, said this in a statement on Thursday.

The statement was released after Buhari told herdsmen to disregard a call to vacate the southern part of the country.

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) had asked herdsmen to leave the southern part of the country if their safety is no longer guaranteed.

However, Suleiman accused southern leaders of instigating violence against herdsmen after the murder of Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Reuben Fasoranti, Afenifere leader.

“A meeting with the Northern elders was fixed for Tuesday, 15th July 2019. We went to the meeting with a prepared position which we presented to the leadership of Northern Elders Forum. We highlighted the utterances made by the southern leaders including decisions taken by some notable political, religious and cultural leaders of the south,” he said.

“It is apparent that government’s initial silence throughout the recent weeks when various southern leaders and regional organizations were busy issuing incendiary threats and vituperation against the Fulani and northerners living in the south smacked of discriminatory application of this important constitutional provision.

“It is astonishing that the death of the daughter of an Afenifere chieftain in the hands of unknown assailants, painful as it is, should trigger more robust and timely response than that of the large scale and massive killings being witnessed in the above mentioned northern states.

“CNG wholeheartedly welcomes the assurance given by Mr. President and his government to protect and guarantee the safety of all Nigerians anywhere they are, including the threatened herdsmen in the south. We, however, wish to remind Mr President and the government that northerners would hold them fully responsible should any one of them fall victim of the consequences of the concerns we raised.”

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