Zack Orji condemns critics of tithing

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Zack Orji, a veteran Nollywood actor, in a chat with journalists aired his opinion on tithing, an issue which has generated so much controversy on social media in recent days, report says.

OAP Freeze has been a leading voice in the controversy that has led to reactions from pastors.

Orji said tithing is a personal thing between tithers and their God. He said it is a terrible thing to condemn the men of God. He described those condemning tithing as ignorant.

The actor said he has been ordained as a pastor for five years and is careful about making certain statements.

He told journalists that:

‘I am a pastor, ordained for five years now. The issue of tithing is a personal thing.

I get very careful about making certain statements I have watched some people condemn tithing, say a lot of things about men of God and I pity some of those people because they are speaking out of ignorance.

It is a terrible thing to go on the social media and be condemning men of God and be condemning something that is in the bible.’

Workers salary needs to be reviewed, VP Osinbajo says

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President (VP) of Nigeria, has admitted that Nigerian workers are being underpaid.

Osinbajo disclosed this while speaking at the end of the year seminar for the State Press Corps with the title ‘Journalists and Retirement Plan’.

Osinbajo said there is a need to look at public sector earnings. He said it is necessary to understand why workers are poorly paid and determine what is right for them to earn.

He added that all employers must be compelled to adopt the contributory pension scheme, report says.

The vice president said:

‘Generally speaking people are poorly paid, so there is need to look at why people are poorly paid. Public sector earning must be looked at and determined what should be paid and what is right for people to earn.’

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Sanusi: Nigerian leaders should take drug test

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Muhammadu Sanusi, the Emir of Kano, has called for a law obligating Nigerian leaders to take drug test.

He made this call at the opening of a two-day Senate Roundtable on Drug Abuse Epidemic in Nigeria facilitated by the Senate in Kano on Monday, December 18, 2017.

The Emir alleged that leaders in the country condone the use of illegal substance by their bodyguards and thugs, report says.

Speaking at the roundtable, he said:

‘I will be happy to subject myself to drug test. We deceive ourselves if we say we are not part of the problem. 90 per cent of issues that we have, flourish due to lack of political will.

Anybody who an element of drug abuse is found in him should quickly resign his position because he is not fit to hold public position.

Today, it is better to be a drug baron on the payroll of a political leader, than to be a legally recognised security man, which means we must clean our acts before trying to achieve anything.’

The Emir also said it was hypocritical and amounted to mere talk for a governor or senator or any big political office holder to speak against drug abuse in the society, while having highly drugged thugs as body guards moving around freely.

He also said:

‘If we are not implementing these laws in the books, what assurance do we have that new ones will be implemented?

The trade in illicit drugs is a protective trade, and we must ask, who are those involved in this? How many rehabilitation centres do we have? How well equipped are they ready for the challenges; how many capacity development centres do we have? I think we must answer these questions for us to make headway.

Like I always say, if you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t invite me. Our major problem is that we are not implementing the laws we have for regulating drugs.

We have guidelines on who is allowed to sell drugs and who to sell the drugs to, but we are not following these guidelines.’

Senate President Bukola Saraki explained that roundtable was part of the moves by the National Assembly to tackle the menace of drug abuse in Nigeria.

Senate President Saraki said:

‘If we continue to be a society that ignores laws and do as we wish, we are not far from being a failed state.

But in the Senate, we are firm in ensuring that what is right is done to protect the nation.  We want to see here before we finish the two-day roundtable in Kano that some pharmacies are closed down for violating the rules. Then we will know we are serious about it.’

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LASU: No increment in tuition fees

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Management of Lagos State University (LASU) has debunked rumours circulating, especially on social media, that the institution is planning to increase tuition fees for students.

This was confirmed by the university’s official bulletin signed by Adekoya Martins, the coordinator of the Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations, LASU.

Adekoya explained that management has only increased the acceptance fee from ₦10,000 to ₦20,000 for students recently offered admission by the university. He noted that this was a one-time payment as well.

Adekoya reiterated that there is no increase in tuition fees and no plan to make any increment, report says.

The message in the bulletin reads:

‘Attention of LASU Management has again been drawn to the erroneous insinuations making the rounds, especially on the social media, regarding a plan to increase or purported increase in the school fee being paid by its students presently

What the university has done is to increase the acceptance fee from ₦10,000 to ₦20,000 and this remains the cheapest in Nigeria compared to what other universities charge as their acceptance fee.

The university management, however, wishes to reiterate that there is no increment in tuition, neither are there plans to effect any increment.’

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Paul of P-Square opens up on why Squareville mansion was put for sale

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – In a chat with journalists, Paul Okoye of the former Nigerian RnB group, P-Square, has disclosed the reason why their Squareville mansion located in Omole Estate was put up for sale back in September 2017.

Paul said that the mansion belongs to him and Jude and explained that, since they moved to Ikoyi and now use the mansion as a studio and lodge for signed artists, commuting through the third mainland everyday was stressful so they decided to put up the house for sale, report says.

He also said that there is an ongoing plan to buy another house somewhere on the island, preferably Lekki, which is very close to where they stay so that they will not have to check the traffic situation before visiting the house.

He told journalists that:

‘It is a normal thing. I and Jude own squareville, so we decided to sell it. We had already fixed it up as our office and studio and one side for our signed artist.

When we moved into Ikoyi, going down to Omole became too stressful. Before now, we were ok with the house on the mainland because we had no kids nor family then.

Now we have our families and going through the third mainland everyday was stressful.

So, we just decided to sell it while we are making plans to buy somewhere on the Island, preferably Lekki which is close to us, not the one that the house is on the mainland and when we have to go there, we would be checking the traffic situation.’

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Shehu Sani frowns at approval of $1bn to fight Boko Haram insurgents

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Shehu Sani, the senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district has reacted to the approval of one billion dollars from the 2.3 billion dollars excess crude account by the National Economic Council (NEC) to fight Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast of the country.

In a post on Facebook the senator expressed his dissatisfaction over the approval, report says.

Sani argued that ‘throwing of money to counter those throwing bombs’ may not work. He also said that federal government (FG) has not ‘technically defeated’ the insurgent group.

The senator wrote on his timeline:

‘One billion dollars to fight Boko Haram as approved by the FG officially means the insurgent are yet to be technically defeated.

The breakdown of the sum is necessary to make meaning out of it.

Throwing money to counter those throwing bombs hasn’t worked in the past.’

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Ekweremadu scores APC-led government low

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy president of the Senate, has scored the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) low.

The deputy senate president said the party has performed poorly on security, economy, job creation and national unity, report says.

Ekweremadu also assured that those who left the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are eager to return back to the party.

He made these statements at the national convention of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that held in Abuja, the nation’s capital, on Saturday, December 9, 2017.

Ekweremadu described the 16 years in which the administration of the country was under the leadership of the PDP as ‘glorious years for the country’.

He said the current administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari under the All Progressives Congress (APC) has brought many catastrophes to the different sectors of the country.

He argued that the current administration has accumulated more debt than any other any administration in the history of Nigeria. He claimed that during the era of PDP, the party was able to find a way to pay up the debts of the country.

He explained further that, before, Nigeria’s economy was the fastest growing economy in Africa but now the story has changed because millions of people have lost their jobs in the last two years.

‘Good men and women who left PDP for the APC are eager to return to join us to build a better Nigeria,’ he stated.

Ekweremadu also said:

‘The PDP worked out Nigeria’s debt forgiveness and paid up our remaining debts, but today, we are getting indebted more than any other time in the history of Nigeria.

We bequeathed the fastest growing economy as well as the largest economy in Africa. The story is different today. Millions of our people lost their jobs in the last two years.

There are those who struggled through higher institutions of learning to receive education but could not find jobs in the last two years. These people believe that when the PDP returns, there will be hope for them.’

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SARS: Controversial police unit arrests BudgIT staff monitoring public projects

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – On December 5, 2017, Moses Motoni, a staff of BudgIT, a civil society organisation tracking accountability in public projects in Nigeria, was arrested in Niger by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of Nigeria Police who disguised as DHL personnel, a new report confirms.

Motoni was tracking public projects in Niger, one of the states in northern Nigeria, when he was arrested. But the police claimed that he was ‘inciting public disturbance’.

BudgIT has expressed disappointment in the action of the police and wants to press charges. The organisation described the arrest as ‘an assault on democratic accountability’.

In a statement by its communications lead, Abiola Afolabi-Sosami, the organisation said:

‘We maintain that his arrest was on the order of Senator Mohammed Sani of Niger State and abuse against human rights provision, which Moses has as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We also ask that the Nigerian Police should respect the rights of citizens and embrace reforms that further professional conduct.’

Afolabi-Sosami also explained the events that lead to the arrest. He said the Motoni had visited Niger South Senatorial District in Bida town to sensitise the community members on the zonal intervention projects awarded to their constituency in the 2017 budget.

He said:

‘The exact project was the installation of transformers and electrification of the following communities: Nowanya-Tawadzuru tiffin-Emitswachi-Tawadzuru Tako in Gbako LGA, Niger South Senatorial District, Niger State for N25million, as stated in the 2017 Appropriation Act.

Moses encouraged the community members to engage their representatives at the National Assembly and ensure the budgeted projects are implemented.

Shortly after the town hall meeting in Bida, Senator Sani Mohammed put a phone call through to our PTO, Moses Motoni, inviting him to a meeting in his house, which he declined as there were instructions that BudgIT tracking personnel are not allowed to meet with public officials privately.

However, on the December 5, 2017, Moses received an SMS instructing him to pick up a DHL parcel at Markafi market in Kaduna.

Unknown to our PTO, it was a decoy by the Nigerian Police Force to apprehend him. Upon arrival, he was forcefully taken into a car, handcuffed, maltreated and driven off by SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) officials who disguised as DHL personnel,” Mr. Afolabi-Sosami narrated.

BudgIT was distraught at the development considering that Moses Motoni was merely exercising his rights as a citizen in a democratic nation like Nigeria. It is important to note that public information is the right of every Nigerian citizen, vis a vis public funds meant for developmental projects.

The information received pointed Senator Mohammed Sani of Niger State as the alleged architect of the arrest involving the SARS and our officer, Moses Motoni.’

After his arrest in Kaduna on December 5, Motoni a spent a night in SARS office in Abuja and was later bailed on December 6.

However, BudgIT insists it will press charges. It denied added allegations that Motoni was part of a move to topple a king in the district.

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#EndSARS: Campaign to shut down police unit gains momentum

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Over the weekend, Nigerians cried out against growing brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of Nigeria’s police.

Several Nigerians took to social media to retell their experiences with the police unit. They retold cases of extra-judicial killings, wanton arrests and dispossession of properties through physical assault and other intimidation tactics, report says.

The outcry against the brutal and criminal police unit led to the creation of the hashtag #EndSARS which has been trending on social media.

On Sunday, December 3, 2017, in reaction to the growing cries for an end to the menace, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris ordered the immediate reorganisation of the notorious police unit.

Today, December 5, 2017, as Senator Isa Misau (Bauchi-APC), lends his voice to the criticism of the police unit, the campaign gains momentum.

Senator Misau is pessimistic about the order given by IGP. He noted that previous attempts by the police to sanitise the unit has proven ineffective.

He strongly condemned the reaction of the police to the allegations against the special unit.

The senator said:

‘According to the Police Act and regulations, the force Criminal and Investigation and Intelligence, force CID, is the highest investigating arm of the Nigerian police. And for effective and efficient administration, the department is divided into 14 sections of which the Special Anti-robbery squad, SARS, is one of them. SARS is supposed to be a section in each state command criminal investigation department with sole responsibility of handling armed robbery cases and answerable to the state commissioner of Police.

Mr. President, I have in the last few months received several petitions from my constituency against SARS. The complaints vary from extra-judicial killings, brutality, torture, arrest for bribe and other menacing conduct by the men of the unit.

Most of the tweets with the hashtag, EndSARS, reported several cases of harassment, and arbitrary arrest of Nigerian youths labelling them Yahoo Boys.

Mr. President, the complaints have ranged from how officers waylaid citizens at ATM points to how they often threaten to kill avowing they will get away with it. There are specific cases of how SARS officers allegedly murder citizens for declining to pay bribes.

It is dangerous for us to have a unit of the Police Force act as if it is above the law. We must now take a major decision to end SARS until a unit built around the rule of law and human rights observance is created by the police.

I’m aware that in 2015, the then IGP, Solomon Arase, had due to incessant reports of abuses by the squad split SARS into two units with a view to checking its human rights abuses. This was done to ensure that officers don’t make arrest and investigate the same case. However, the abuses have continued.

The police high command had earlier said that it has no intention to scrap the squad and contrary to claims. Rather than to take note of complains by the general public, and proceed to investigate and take actions against these human rights’ abuses, they only make matters worse by calling these campaigners criminals.

I think it is clear that something wrong is going on and it needs urgent attention.’

Senate President Bukola Saraki agreed that the issue should be given urgent attention.

The Senate has referred the issue to the ad-hoc committee on security.

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Atiku likely under US sanction

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – In the past few years, former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has not been able to travel to the United States (US).

This may be because the former vice president is afraid a warrant is out in the US for his arrest, a new report suggests.

The report noted that US authorities might have issued a warrant for the arrest of Atiku owing to a broadband contract awarded to iGate, an American company which Williams Jefferson who was then a US federal lawmaker from Louisiana had interest in.

It said Jefferson reportedly used his influence and friendship with Atiku to get the contract and planned to pay kickbacks to some Nigerian officials, including the former vice president.

In a secrectly recorded conversation with the FBI, Jefferson disclosed that Atiku was to receive $500,000 for influencing the deal at the time.

Jefferson had lost his representative seat and served jail term in US owing to this. But Atiku was not prosecuted in Nigeria and it remained unclear if he was indicted in the US over the issue.

The former vice president who is interested in contending for office of president in 2019 told journalists that he had actually made attempt to visit US but was not issued a visa for administrative reasons.

Atiku said:

‘I applied, but wasn’t issued a visa. However, they did not decline me categorically either. They’ve only said my application is going through administrative process.

It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not. I’m not running away from America.’

He also explained that such administrative denials were not issued to him alone, claiming that President Buhari could not enter US for 15 years too because of his religious views.

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