The Lagos State House of Assembly reconvened for an emergency parliamentary session on Wednesday where it declared Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode may be impeached over alleged financial infractions in the 2018 budget and the yet-to-be-laid 2019 Appropriation Bill.
The House had on Monday adjourned till Feb. 4, after summoning the governor and relevant commissioners to appear before it in seven days to explain themselves.
The lawmakers said if they failed to show up, gathering of signatures for the governor’s impeachment would begin.
Following the threat, about five different groups staged peaceful protests to the House on Wednesday, demanding that the House should desist from any attempt to impeach Ambode.
In another development, a group, the Legislative Probity and Accountability (LPA) asked the Assembly to account for the N28.8 billion allegedly collected as running cost.
Reacting on behalf of the House at a news conference after Wednesday’s emergency meeting, the Majority Leader, Mr Sanai Agunbiade said that the House was not witch-hunting Ambode, but wanted due process on the appropriation bill.
Agunbiade said that the House would apply the maximum sanction on the governor if he failed to utilise the window of one week given to him to appear before the House for explanations.
According to him, the House is doing all in the interest of the public and the tax payers’ money.
The majority leader said it was illegal for the governor to start spending budget estimates without the appropriation bill being first laid before the House.
“We are responding to various groups that have come today to appeal to the House in respect of what they heard and the seeming impasse between the executive and the House.
“We decided to correct the misconceptions and wrong information that have been fed the public.
“We wish to state clearly that today, about five groups paid visit to Lagos Assembly to plead with the House not to impeach the governor.
“The issue before us is not whether or not we want Gov. Ambode to end his tenure. He is still the governor of Lagos State and we take him as the governor.
“We want the public to know that the major issue in contention is the 2019 appropriation bill, which by now we feel should have been before the House,’’ Agunbiade said.
Agunbiade said that the House waited for the budget in December but did not get it.
“Unless the budget is laid before the House, there is no budget before the House of Assembly,’’ he said.
The lawmaker added: “We were willing to take the budget, but we didn’t have the budget.
“We now discovered that expenditures are being incurred and warrants have been issued in respect of the budget that has not been laid before the House.
“This we found inappropriate, and before this also, we have found some infractions in the 2018 budget, where we discovered that some expenditures were made outside the budget without the approval of the House.
“We have to make these clarifications so as to let the public know that what is going on is not witch-hunting.
“We are legislators and we must do things properly. The government must be well funded; why should we be managing when we can make things work freely?
“The House of Assembly is doing all these in the interest of the state and the intent that we want Lagos to continue to flourish, but we cannot compromise the constitution.’’
Kogi: Senator endorses Yahaya Bello for a second term
Senator-elect of Kogi East Senatorial District, Alhaji Jibrin Isah, has backed the second term ambition of the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
According to the lawmaker-elect, he arrived at the decision after taking time to think about the welfare and progress of the people of his constituency and the entire Kogi people.
In a statement he personally signed yesterday, Isah said, “I am wholeheartedly endorsing the bid of my friend and brother, Yahaya Bello, for a second term in Office as Governor of Kogi State. I have taken a while to make this decision because the welfare and progress of the great people of my Kogi East Constituency and Kogi State as a whole lie in the balance.”
“I am a man who has poured his life into the pursuit of the overall best interests of my people and state. For many years, first as a professional, then as a businessman and lately as a politician, I have dedicated myself to achieving this objective.
“In the process, I have become intimately acquainted with the peculiarities of our state, the challenges of her people and the perfidies of her politicians.
“I have experienced firsthand the character and leadership of several past occupants of Government House, Lokoja and I can attest that Governor Yahaya Bello stands out for trustworthiness, forthrightness and commitment to good governance”.
The Senator-elect noted that he would rather have Governor Bello preside over the affairs of Kogi State for the next four years “than any of the other individuals who have shown interest in the job”.
He continued: “I admit that no society has ever found Plato’s Philosopher-King, that prototypical ruler who by a perfect blend of knowledge, intelligence, reliability and simplicity is the epitome of good governance. Leaders may emerge who display his ideal attributes to a lesser or a greater degree, but none can achieve his perfection.
“Governor Bello is no Philosopher-King, but I have observed that he possesses a sincere desire to lead well, a disposition to serve the people and the political will to take difficult decisions and follow through on them.
“His Excellency has shown great promise in his first term and I am convinced by his track record that he remains our best option towards a brighter future for our state from amongst those who present themselves and meet the legal requirements to run for the position of Governor of Kogi State.
“Governor Bello’s Economic Blueprint , which was unfolded during the last Kogi State Economic Summit is being pursued, resulting in various partnership arrangements, meant to harness the abundant natural resources, and equally revive some of the hitherto vibrant government enterprises, in the state , in order to create employment opportunities for all categories of Kogites.
“It is thus my considered opinion, after due consultations with my followers and stakeholders, that for the Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections in November, 2019 our incumbent Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, remains the best candidate. We shall give him our unalloyed fidelity and strong support. I call on all lovers of our state to join me in this worthy endeavour,” he stated.
Rotimi Amaechi seeks forgiveness from people of Rivers State
A former Governor of Rivers State and current Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that himself and other political leaders must asked God and the people of the state for forgiveness for things left undone and for the pain and anguish the people have “brazenly suffered.”
According to the Minister, the state, known as the Treasure Based of the Nation, is now almost always in the news for the wrong reasons.
He stated this on Sunday in his Easter message to Nigerians and Rivers people.
He urged Rivers people and other Nigerians to have hope and a renewed commitment to wait till the resurrection morning.
Amaechi said, “No doubt, our state has endured a tortuous political season, which saw political parties jostle and cajole Rivers people to make choices.
“Our state, which was known and respected as the Treasure Base of the Nation, is now almost always in the news for the wrong reasons. This is not the Rivers State of our dreams.
“We must find our way back to the path of a glorious future. I am one of you, therefore, as your father, son and brother, I beseech you to be of good courage and join hands to build and restore the glory of our state.
“For us as Rivers people, this is a moment for sober reflection and forgiveness.
“I will not hesitate to implore that we all ask God for forgiveness and mercy for all the things done or left undone and from the citizens for the pain and anguish that they have brazenly suffered, which most times are unreported.
“The persistence of gang violence, kidnappings and killings in parts of the state has dealt a telling blow on the psyche of the people. People no longer feel safe or sleep with their two eyes closed.”
Comedian becomes Ukraine’s president
Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian with no political experience won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election Sunday, exit polls showed, dealing a stunning rebuke to the country’s political establishment.
Zelensky whose only previous political role was playing the president on television, trounced incumbent Petro Poroshenko by taking 73 percent of the vote, according to exit polls conducted by several think tanks.
Poroshenko, who lost to the television star across all regions of the country, including in the west where he traditionally enjoyed strong support, has already called Zelensky to congratulate him.
In a series of tweets, he also said he would not quit politics yet.
“Never give up…. Never, never, never… Neither in the big nor in the small, nor in the a significant, nor in the shallow… Never give up if that doesn’t contradict honour and common sense.
“Already next month I will leave the post of head of state. So the majority of Ukrainians decided, and I perceive this decision. I will go from the office of President. But I do not go out of politics. Firmly want to declare and explain why.
“Our team will defend our course for the European Union and NATO membership. Because only in the world’s strongest collective security system, we can receive reliable protection from Russia, guarantee the independence of the country and the safety of citizens.
“Our team will be protecting visa-free. Our team will protect our army from mid-country attacks, from any attempts to diminish the historical significance of its exploit. Our team will protect the Ukrainian language. If the next week’s board adopts the law on language, I will definitely sign it.”
The election was an extraordinary outcome to a campaign that started as a joke but struck a chord with voters frustrated by poverty, corruption and a five-year war that has claimed some 13,000 lives.
The 41-year-old star of TV series “Servant of the People” will now take the helm of a country of 45 million people beset by challenges and having run on the vaguest of political platforms.
After taking the most votes in last month’s first-round election, Zelensky had enjoyed a strong lead over the 53-year-old Poroshenko going into Sunday’s poll.
Voting earlier in the capital Kiev, the beaming frontrunner had said his campaign managed to bring Ukrainians together.
“We have united Ukraine,” he said, wearing a casual suit with a t-shirt and accompanied by his wife. “Everything will be all right.”
Sparkling wine was on offer at his campaign headquarters as the star’s team prepared to toast his victory on Palm Sunday, a week before Orthodox Easter.
Preliminary results were expected in several hours but the same exit polls were accurate in the first round.
From Ukrainian-speaking regions in the west of the country to Russian-speaking territories in the war-torn east, many voters said they feared uncertainty but yearned for change.
“We’re tired of all the lies,” said Marta Semenyuk, 26, who cast her ballot for the comedian.
“I think it just cannot get any worse and I hope he’ll live up to his promises,” said Larisa, an 18-year-old student from the government-held eastern port city of Mariupol.
Zelensky’s victory opens a new chapter in the history of a country that has gone through two popular uprisings in the last 20 years and is mired in a conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in the east.
His supporters say only a fresh face can clean up Ukraine’s politics and end the separatist conflict.
But others doubt the showman will be able to take on the country’s influential oligarchs, negotiate with the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and stand up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
“People have gone mad,” Viktoriya Olomutska, a 39-year-old Poroshenko supporter, said in Kiev. “Cinema and reality are two different things.”
Fraud: Eight Nigerians sentenced to death in UAE
Eight men, identified as Nigerians, have been sentenced to death in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, for a string of robberies at money exchanges and cash machines (ATMs) across the emirate in December 2016.
The ninth Nigerian, found guilty for possession of stolen money, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
He will be deported after serving his prison term.
The Gulf News is reporting that the Nigerian denied the charge against him, saying that one of the accused’s brothers asked him to transfer Dh60, 000 to an account in Nigeria.
Both the Gulf News and Khaleej Times, local newspapers, which reported the trial, did not identify all the convicted Nigerians.
A total of 20 suspects were initially held for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016.
Out of the 20 suspects, nine were convicted.
Some of the accused confessed to their crimes, while others denied the charges levelled against them.
Judge Majid Al Muhairi of Sharjah Criminal Court handed down the verdict on Wednesday.
The eight-member gang attacked security trucks and entered establishments by force and threatened and assaulted staff and members of the public with bladed weapons in a spate of robberies, three of which were carried out on the same day on December 18, 2016.
The gang, who were all in the UAE on visit visas, were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of orchestrated attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to and from ATMs, and at least one money exchange in Sharjah.
The first robbery took place at a Dubai Commercial Bank ATM on King Abdul Aziz Street, where Dh340, 000 was stolen.
Then two days later, they attacked an ATM in Al Safeer Mall in Al Nahda, fleeing with Dh700, 000, and an ATM in Muweilah where they stole Dh710, 000.
Police foiled a fourth attack at a money exchange office near National Paints.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa has described the death sentence passed on eight Nigerians in United Arab Emirate (UAE) as unfortunate.
Dabiri-Erewa in a statement yesterday in Abuja expressed concern over the development, saying the incident was not an actual description of personalities of people of Nigeria.
”It is an unfortunate incident, but it is not an incident that defines who we are as a people.
”If a few Nigerians have committed a crime for which they are being punished, thousands of Nigerians are doing great in that same country and are being appreciated and celebrated.
”Mr President, who meets Nigerians every time he goes on official trips outside the country, always appeals to Nigerians to be good ambassadors wherever they are.
”I must commend millions of our brothers and sisters excelling all over the world.
“Bad news travels fast and I appeal to the media to help spread the good news about Nigerians and not concentrate only on the once in a while negative stories,” she said.
The gang of 20 was arrested in record time, but police confirmed that only a portion of the stolen money — almost Dh1.8 million — had been recovered, as the gang members had divided the money among themselves and transferred it to their home country.
Suspects were taken into custody in cooperation with police in Dubai, Ajman and Fujairah.
The gang committed the heists at the busiest times of the day when streets were crowded, which added to the confusion and enabled them to escape, said police.
In each robbery, the assailants struck quickly before police could arrive.
The attackers, however, could not evade security cameras and police were able to recognise the suspects through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.
Video footage showed the suspects attacking security guards, making off with cash and in one of the robberies, slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with moneyboxes.
Police believe the suspects had monitored and tracked the security trucks used to transport money for a period of time before launching the attacks.
A prosecutor told Gulf News on Thursday that as per the law, groups of people who threaten the lives of others, while committing robbery, are subject to the death sentence.
However an appeal is expected to be launched and the sentences could get downgraded to life imprisonment.
The trial appeared unconnected with the arrest of five Nigerians in March this year, who robbed a Bureau de Change operator of Dh2.3 million (N225.4 million) in Sharjai, Dubai.
The suspects were identified as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozoh, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Ngoka, Tochukwu Leonard Alisi and Chile Micah Ndunagu.
The five Nigerians reportedly barged into the BDC on March 20 and smashed the glass barrier between the customers and the staff, stole the money in multiple currencies and fled.
Two employees at the exchange were injured as they resisted the robbers.
One of them managed to notify the police.
The Sharjah Police coordinated with forces from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to nab the suspects from four emirates within 48 hours after the robbery was committed.
A top police official said the suspects came to the UAE on visit visas on March 18, 2019.