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Plateau govt, ASUU to meet on Monday over lingering strike

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The Plateau State government and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Plateau State University chapter, will on Monday meet on how to resolve the lingering strike in the state owned Institution which has entered three weeks, The PUNCH learnt on Sunday.

It was further gathered that members of ASUU in the University met on Sunday to harmonise their position preparatory for Monday’s meeting with the government team led by the State Head of Service, Sunday Hyat.

It would be recalled that while declaring the latest strike by the state University which began on December 20,2021, the Institution’s chapter of ASUU had accused the state government of refusing to implement an agreement which it entered with the Union on March 2, 2021.

ASUU said that apart from failing
to address security concerns by deploying the services of armed Civil Defence Corps in the University, Plateau government had also failed to locate a functional police outpost in the university host community as well as its inability to settle the national minimum wage arrears within the first quarter of 2021.

It further alleged that the government had failed to immediately release of N70 million as part payment of the first tranche of earned academic allowance arrears.

ASUU said as at the time of its congress last year in December, the second tranche of N72 million in October, 2021, has been long overdue.

It also accused the government of failure to complete the payment of mainstreamed earned academic allowances for the 2019/2020, among others.

The Plateau State Head of Service, Sunday Hyat, who is leading the government negotiation team for the planned meeting on Monday, when contacted, was not available for comment on the matter but an official of ASUU in the state owned University confirmed the scheduled meeting to The PUNCH in Jos on Sunday

According to the ASUU official, the ongoing strike action by members of the Union would have been avoided if government was committed to the terms contained in their previous negotiations.

The ASUU leader said, “The government has called us for a meeting tomorrow (Monday) regarding the ongoing strike by ASUU in Plateau State University. It is the State Head of Service that called for the meeting which will hold in his office . It is in order to prepare ourselves for the Monday meeting that we have also held our own meeting today (Sunday).

“The truth is that we are not happy about the strike but there is nothing we can do about it. We believe the planned meeting or resumption of negotiation between the government and ASUU would have been unnecessary if the government had done the right thing by implementing the earlier agreement reached. Even though the present Head of Service was not the one that led the government team during our previous agreement, we have decided to honour his invitation to see what can be done but I can assure you that anything short of meeting the demands of the Union will not bring the ongoing strike to an end.”

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Buhari’s media aide Shehu follows Tinubu media support group on Twitter

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From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, is now following the Tinubu media support group on Twitter.

The presidential media aide, who has over 1.2 million followers, joined the microblogging site in April 2015 and follows 365 other Twitter users.

The Tinubu Media Support Group (TMS) with the handle @TinubuMediaS was opened this month following former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu’s public declaration to contest for the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).

The profile of the group describes it as “Volunteer Media Support, BAT Fans, Promoters of BAT’23 project.”

So far, the group follow 455 Twitter users and it is being followed by 954 followers including the presidential spokesman.

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President Muhammadu Buhari had declined to disclose his choice of successor in a recent media interview with Channels Television, saying he would rather keep it to himself to prevent the individual from being “eliminated.”

Buhari had said: “No. I wouldn’t because he may be eliminated if I mention it. I better keep it secret.”

Tinubu had on January 10th, while in the State House Abuja, disclosed that he had informed President Buhari of his intention to vie for the presidential ticket of the ruling party.

He said as a democrat, President Buhari did not stop him from attempting to pursue his lifelong ambition.

The APC chieftain had while responding on if he had informed President Buhari about his ambition said: “I will answer that with categorical yes. I’ve informed the President of my intention but I have not informed Nigerians yet. I’m still consulting. And I have no problem consulting. And I’ve not set a parameter of limitation to the extent of how many people will I consult. You will soon hear, all you want to hear is the categorical declaration. You’ve gotten the truth from me that I have informed Mr President of my ambition, you don’t expect more answers than that.”

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#EndSARS: Borno youth regains freedom after 15 months, says ‘hunger almost killed me in Kirikiri prison’

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Fifteen months after being arrested and wrongly detained for taking part in the #EndSARS protest, Peter John, regained freedom.

John, who hails from Borno State, told that he is 23 years old.

According to John, he was arrested on October 23, 2020 on his way to work but set free 15 months after his arrest.

“I had a horrible expereince in prison. I was arrested for what I didn’t do. I was not arrested at any riot venue. I was arrested days after the riot on my way to work at Lekki new market,” he told our correspondent while sharing his ordeal in prison.

The young man said he thought that he was going to die in prison because of hunger and beating from “senior” prisoners.

While emphasing that he suffered for an offence he knew nothing about, the 23-year-old said, “They arrested me at Lekki Phase I. I was arrested because of the #EndSARS protest that I never took part in.

“They told me that I was part of those that caused riots in Lagos State. They also said I was part of those that burnt government properties. These are lies.

“I saw many bad things in the prison. I also learnt how to praise God and stay with people in difficult times. I  have many painful experiences to share.

“I really suffered there. It was a very painful experience. I almost died ofhunger. A lot of people die of hunger there. Prisoners cannot even consume the kind of food they give to us.  They give us food two times a day. In the morning, they give us beans and you dare eat the beans, you will fall sick and suffer diarrhoea.After the beans, they will give us Garri (casava) in the evening.

“I fell seriously sick in the prison. If not for God and my family, I should have been dead. I wouldn’t have been alive to grant this interview. Some people who are seniors in the cell do beat us. They also send us on errands.

“Kirikiri prison is a place where you must do everything you are asked to do. You have no freedom. You will be severely beaten if you resist, your human rights don’t matter, and you can’t say anything.”

John said it took the intervention of his parents and human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun, for him to regain freedom.

“I thank God that the lawyer helped me out. He also helped others. I have really suffered a lot. We are plenty that they arrested. Many innocent people are in the prison because of EndSARS. Some are still there as we speak,” he added.

While lamenting that John was kept in prison despite the strucking out of his case by the court, the lawyer called for a reform of Nigeria’s criminal justice system.

He said, “We need an urgent reform in our criminal justice system. This should not happen in the first place but the criminal justice system is criminal.

“The case was struck out December 17, 2021.  It is the authority who arrested and took him to prison that should ensure he is out since the case was struck out, but they refused. We need to fix the system.”

The #ENDSARS protests lasted between October 7th and 20th in Lagos and several other states of the federation.

While the protests lasted, relations, friends, and associates of missing persons claimed their relations had either been killed or held incommunicado by security agents.

Of particular concern was the Lekki toll gate shooting of Tuesday, October 20, where peaceful #ENDSARS protesters were shot at by security agents, leading to a yet-to-be ascertained number of casualties.

The shooting incident had attracted national and international outcry, with the Lagos State and Federal governments being urged to unravel the identity of the shooters and who deployed them.

Ajudicial panel set up by Lagos State said people were killed at Lekki tollgate by security operatives but the government through a whitepaper panel debunked the claim.

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President Buhari commences two-day visit to Kaduna

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From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

President Muhammadu Buhari will commence a two-day working visit to Kaduna State, beginning from Thursday.

President Buhari will during the visit, commission several important projects which will end on Friday.

The president who will visit the three major towns of Kaduna, Zaria and Kafanchan, will also be shown around road projects across the state, which was executed by the Governor Nasir El Rufai administration.

A statement issued by Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye listed the projects that will be commissioned to include the remodelled Murtala Muhammed Square, which is located at the heart of Kaduna town.

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The Special Adviser also listed the Infectious Disease Hospital, which is located at Mando, the Dangote Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited along Kaduna-Abuja expressway, and the Sabon Gari market in Zaria.

Mr Adekeye also said that the President will also commission completed projects like the reconstructed Kawo flyover which has three grand rotaries and access roads, the WAFF Road which has been dualized with junction improvement.

President Buhari will also commission road projects in Kafanchan and Zaria.

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