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APC govs meet Sunday, to insist on convention before presidential primary

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Friday Olokor, Oladimeji Ramon and Stephen Angbulu

The ruling All Progressives Congress will meet on Sunday, January 9, to decide a substantive date for the party’s national convention.

This is partly in response to the caution issued by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority, which aired on Thursday.

In the interview, Buhari warned that by dilly-dallying, the APC might be setting itself up for defeat by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 presidential election.

The Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, met with the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, on Friday.

Speaking with State House Correspondents, Lalong noted that deliberations at the Sunday meeting would centre on picking a date for the party’s convention.

This was a governor, who spoke to on condition of anonymity on Friday. He said the APC governors would insist that the national convention holds before the presidential primary.

The governor said, “Some people like OUK (Orji Uzor Kalu) are pushing for the conduct of the presidential primary before the convention. That is not possible. The caretaker committee chairman of the party, who is also a governor, needs to return to his state and pay attention to governance.

“The idea of the caretaker committee is just for the members to oversee the party for just six months. Now, we are almost having them as alternative to the party’s National Working Committee. That will not work. We want to put the convention behind us.

“Look at the PDP, they have held their convention and have moved on. We need not pay too much attention to distractions. The convention should hold so that we can face other issues in the party.”

Lalong, on his part, described Buhari’s caution as a wake-up call on the party to have a seamless convention to avoid disintegration.

Lalong said the APC governors had assured Buhari that the convention would hold in February.

Lalong said, “I agree that all the times there are meetings, especially taking final decisions on the party; I’m always part of it and part of it was also why I visited the President and the President still stands committed that there must be an immediate convention.

“You know, when a convention is coming, there are fears here and there; some people will tell you it will work, some will say it will not work. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but the visit to the President has already assured us and you know that there is already a notice that all the governors are meeting on Sunday. By Sunday we will tell you when we’re having the convention.

“We’ve taken a date already. I think our first date before Christmas, we said we’re going to hold the convention in February and we are still working towards that, as far as I’m concerned, except things change from another angle. But as far as I’m concerned, we’re working towards our convention in February.”

Lalong explained that despite the concerns the President raised, the governors were determined to ensure that nothing stops the convention.

 He said, “Some parties have held their own – the PDP did their own, nothing will stop APC from holding their own.

 “So, all the fears that we’re talking about, which the President also re-echoed, are also telling the governors to please do more and keep the party alive. So, by God’s grace, we’re going to put our party alive.”

Lalong stressed that efforts were being made to lay all intra-party differences to rest.

He added, “A political party is a collection of interests. The interests may be the same, they may not be the same, but at the end of the day, what we’ll do is that we are going to elect people who are going to represent you.

“I just want to assure you that in so many ways, when we meet, we’ll harmonise all interests and we’ll come out as one APC and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

On whether the APC could influence the withdrawal of ongoing court cases against the convention, Lalong said, “There are procedures for holding court processes. Many of the court processes were there when we set up the caretaker committee, but up to this moment, if you go to take a census of some of the court proceedings, you will realise that a lot of them have been resolved out of court. So, it’s still the duty of the party. It’s still part of the functions of the party to resolve differences.

 “But we must not wait to resolve all court cases before going for the convention. I don’t think so because there are also ways to resolve court processes, even after convention.

“I had a court process in my state, that did not stop me from going on and at the end of the day, we resolved the court process and we’re still going on, preparing and waiting for the convention.”

On whether the APC can meet the speculated February 5 date for the convention in view of the need for mandatory 21-day notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission, Lalong stated, “Well, I’m not the chairman of the convention committee, but I want to assure you that we’ve called a meeting for Sunday and if there is a meeting on Sunday, and you’re thinking about next Friday, Just wait and see what will happen before next Friday. I don’t want to draw conclusions now.”

Meanwhile, the APC internal crisis over the convention may have worsened as some members have dragged the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The applicants are seeking an order of the court to restrain the Buni-led CECPC from going ahead with the convention.

Already, the Progressives Governors Forum of the APC has scheduled a meeting for this weekend in Abuja at the Kebbi State Governors Lodge in Asokoro.

The chairman of PGF and Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, said top on the agenda of the meeting was the national convention.

The plaintiffs in the suit dated January 4, 2022 are Suleiman Dimas Usman, Muhammed Shehu, Samaila Isahaka, Idris Isah and Audu Emmanuel.

The APC, Chairman of APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and the Independent National Electoral Commission were listed as the first to third defendants in the suit.

The plaintiffs, in their suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/3/2022, are praying the court to make an order stopping the convention on the grounds that APC state congresses have yet to be completed in all the 36 states of the federation.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.

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Ugwuanyi fetes Haitians on trace of Igbo roots

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Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, yesterday, received a Haitian delegation at the Government House, Enugu, amid excitement and pomp.  

The 10-man delegation led by Senator Moise Jean-Charles was on a homecoming mission to Enugu, the political capital of Igboland, to perform conventional Igbo rituals such as traditional naming and name adoption, after they traced their roots to Igboland.

Addressing the delegation, Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, delightfully welcomed them to Enugu State in particular and the entire Igboland in general, and commended them for the bold step.

The governor also appreciated them for keeping a date with history and following their heart and for getting back to their roots.

The governor, while stressing the significance of the visit said: “Today is a new beginning for all of us. We open our doors to you and we are ready as we have demonstrated. We also want you to know that changing your names is in agreement with the Igbo tradition that you have a new name for a new born.

 “Today, you are born new in Enugu State and in the land of your fathers. Congratulations!”

In his remarks, leader of the delegation, Sen. Jean-Charles, who described the visit to Enugu State as homecoming, thanked Ugwuanyi for the hospitality accorded to them in the state.

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He recounted the affinity of the people and culture of Enugu State and Haiti, revealing that Enugu has five letters as Haiti and that Enugu and Haiti mean cities on top of a hill.

 “I have visited many countries, many places around the world but this is the first time I have visited a country where everybody looks like me. I have not come here as a foreign person. I have come back home.

Before I keep on talking, I want to on behalf of all Haitians, all the blocks in Haiti, to thank you (Ugwuanyi) for receiving us after 218 years,” Jean-Charles said.

In their separate goodwill messages, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Ugonna Ibe, the Chairman, Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRH Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, the immediate past President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo and Ozo (Dr.) Ferdinand Anikwe, gave a historic background of the Haitians and their link with Igbos, applauding the visitors for taking such a bold step in identifying with the place of their origin.

The climax of the event were the traditional naming and name adoption by the Haitian delegation, which was performed by Igwe Agubuzu in company of other traditional rulers present.

The visitors also performed the Igede cultural dance and also received souvenirs from the Enugu State government. 

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2 killed, houses burnt as suspected herdsmen attack Benue

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From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

At least two persons have been reportedly killed after gunmen suspected to be herdsmen attacked Igama community in Ojugo wards, Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.

Sources from the affected community disclosed that the gunmen invaded the community last Tuesday afternoon and burnt many houses. The invaders were said to have stormed the community in broad day light and shot sporadically in all directions while the locals scampered for safety.

When contacted on telephone, the Chairman of the council, Mrs Amina Audu, confirmed the report, saying it was the third time in the last two weeks that the attackers invaded her council. She told newsmen that the attack was perpetrated by herdsmen without any form of provocation.

“Fulani herdsmen came and attacked the community and burnt houses, and a woman was found dead after several days,” she said.

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Mrs Audu, who noted that the incident was reported to the police, said some security personnel were detailed to the area to forestall any breakdown of law and order, adding that men of the Livestock Guards were also sent to the area but the herders quickly ran away before the security men arrived.

“They have attacked the community for three consecutive times since January 13, 2022. They will just come into the community and attack them. They normally come in the afternoon. It is because the security people have been stationed on ground that we did not record many casualties.”

Audu, however, disclosed that those who were killed were immediately buried because their bodies were already decaying by the time they were found. The council boss appealed to the Federal Government to urgently rise to the occasion and stop the marauding herders from taking innocent lives.

When contacted, the Benue Police Public Relations Officer, (PPRO), SP Catherine Anene, said she was yet to receive any information about the incident.

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Anti-open Grazing Law: Bayelsa govt goes tough on violators,

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From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

The Bayelsa State government has clamped down on violators of the Anti-open Grazing Law in the state.

To this end, it arrested 44 cows found grazing along Imiringi road, Ogbia Local Government Area of the state.

Governor Douye Diri had on March 10, 2021 signed into law the Anti-open Grazing Law known as Livestock Breeding Rearing and Marketing Regulation Law.

He also set up the Livestock Management Committee headed by the Commissioner for Agricultural Resources, Mr David Alagoa, with members drawn from the security agencies.

However, many farmers in Imiringi, Elebele and Emeyal in Ogbia Local Government Area, Tombia and Okutukutu in Yenagoa Local Government Area have been complaining of the destructive activities of cows despite the law.

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The farmers had lodged their complaint to Alagoa and the state task force to help arrest the situation before things got out of hand.

Alagoa had during a patrol at the weekend arrested the cows, while the herders escaped into the bush to evade arrest.

The arrest followed a complaint to the task force by farmers along Imiringi road near Megastar camp where the cows were said to have destroyed crops.

Alagoa said the task force would continue to take action to demonstrate that the state government would not condone flouting of its laws.

Meanwhile one of the farmers, Mr Tempo, explained that his farm at Elebele where he planted maize and cassava was destroyed by cows.

He urged the state government to take more action because any farmer that tries to confront the herders is usually threatened with attack.

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