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#OccupyLekkiTollGate: Tension Grips Lagos As Organisers Insist On Protest Amid Warnings From Authorities 

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…Police Storm Lekki Toll Gate To Forestall Planned Protest

There is palpable tension in Nigeria’s commercial city, Lagos, over another round of civil protests at the Lekki toll gate on Saturday despite warning from authorities to organisers to shelve the plan.

This time, the protesters are sharply divided. While one party is in support of the demonstration, the other is against.

It was observed that the opposing groups are strategizing and pushing their narratives on social media via #OccupyLekkiTollGate and #DefendLagos.

The federal and Lagos governments, as well as the Police, have threatened to crush any gathering. Citing the October riots, authorities vowed not to allow an assembly that might be hijacked.

The call for Saturday’s protest commenced after the Lagos Panel of Inquiry approved the reopening of the toll plaza.

The panel was formed in line with demands of EndSARS protesters for probe abuses of the disbanded Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

On February 6, the judicial body chaired by Justice Doris Okuwobi, permitted the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to recommence operations.

Okwuobi ruled after another application by Demola Seriki, counsel to the LCC.

But the decision was not unanimous. Apart from the Justice, others in favour were DIG Taiwo Lakanu (Police), Lucas Koyejo (National Human Rights Commission), Segun Awosanya (Segalink) and Oluwatoyin Odusanya (Citizens Right).

The remaining four – Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), Patience Udoh (Civil society), Rinuola Oduala and Temitope Majekodunmi (Youths reps) – disproved.

There was drama at the day’s sitting as Okwuobi and co walked out immediately the Adegboruwa raised objection to the ruling. The lawyer and similar opponents had walked in mid-way into the chairman’s pronouncement.

On Friday, Oduala stepped down from the panel. She insisted that the Lagos State Government and LCC had not been cleared

“What I will not do is be part of a cover-up. I did not expect piecemeal acknowledgements and efforts to sabotage vital proceedings”, her statement partly read.

Meanwhile, the Lekki Phase 1 main gate will be shut from 5:00am Saturday to the planned End SARS protest.

Lekki Residents Association (LERA), in a public notice, advised everyone to use alternative routes.

Meanwhile, the Police have dispatched teams of operatives along the Lekki corridor ahead of Saturday’s End SARS protest at the toll gate.

The Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command confirmed the deployment.

“CSP Yinka Egbeyemi is presently leading a team of police officers on a show of force to Lekki Toll Gate (Admiralty Plaza) Obalende, Ikoyi, Jakande Roundabout, and other areas in Eti Osa,” RRS tweeted Friday night.



The Police department said this was “part of efforts to deter crime as well as boost the morale of his officers in the areas”.

Two opposing camps – #OccupyLekkiTollGate and #DefendLagos – are planning separate protests on Saturday.

The call for Saturday’s protest commenced after the nine-member of the Lagos Panel of Inquiry approved the reopening of the toll plaza.

The chairman, Justice Doris Okuwobi and four others ruled in favour of another application by the Lekki Concession Company (LCC).

 

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Secondus Moves To Stop PDP National Convention

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The national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) slated for October 30 to 31 in Abuja is being threatened as the suspended national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, approached an Appeal Court to stop the convention and reverse his suspension.

Secondus in a document obtained by Blueprint Weekend is seeking the leave of the court to force the party to retain the pre-suspension status quo by returning him to his seat.

His lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), in a letter addressed to Chief E. O. Oddey of Odey and Odey Solicitors, counsel to the defendants, warned the party officials to stay action on the proposed national convention, otherwise, every action taken at the convention would be null and void.

Oyetibo in the letter wrote, “We act for the Appellant in the above captioned matter, Prince Uche Secondus, who was the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), prior to the institution of suit number PHC/2183/CS/2021, and wish to bring to your attention the following facts:

“On 23 August 2021 one Mr Ibeawuchi E. Alex and four others jointly instituted Suit No PHC/2183/CS/2021 at the High Court of Rivers State, PortHarcourt Judicial Division against Prince Uche Secondus and the PDP as Defendants.

‘On 10 September 2021, the High Court of Rivers State delivered its judgment in the Suit whereby Prince Uche Secondus was, inter alia, restrained from performing the functions of the office of National Chairman of the PDP.

“An appeal has been filed and entered against the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Judicial Division.

“In addition, an application on notice has been filed in which Prince Uche Secondus is seeking, inter alia, the following orders: An order of injunction restraining the Peoples Democratic Party, the 6th respondent herein, whether by itself, its officers, servants, agents and or representatives from holding or conducting its national convention scheduled for 30th and 31st October 2021 or any other date, pending the hearing and final determination of this appeal.

He said the application has since been served on the respondents in the appeal.

Notwithstanding the service of the application for injunction, the appellant said “it has come to the notice of our client that the PDP and its officers continue to prepare to hold the national convention on 30 and 31st October 2021.”

Sounding note of warning, Oyetibo said, “This letter is intended to draw your attention to the position of the law of Nigeria. We trust that you will wisely advise the Peoples Democratic Party and its officers in this regard.”

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You’re Absolutely Wrong, Sunday Igboho Fires Back At FG Over Sponsor Allegations

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…Malami’s Claims Illogical, Afenifere Reacts

Yoruba nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho has questioned the claim by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami that he was being sponsored by a National Assembly member.

Recall that the Minister, on Friday during a press conference in Abuja stated that the secessionist has 43 accounts in different banks, stressing that some financiers of Igboho have consistently deposited funds in the accounts.

Reacting to the claim, Ighoho, in a statement by his counsel, Chief Yomi Aliu said he is a businessman and not a terrorist. He also challenged Malami to mention the particular lawmaker he claimed to be his major financier.

The statement reads in part, “The picture the AGF wanted to paint is that our client is being financed by Abdullah Umar, allegedly involved in terrorist financing. Who is now financing who?

“Again, Chief Adeyemo is a car dealer trading in the name of Adesun International Concept Ltd. Does it mean that anybody buying a car from him or selling a car to him is a terrorist?

“I challenge the Hon AGF to mention the lawmaker that sent money to Chief Sunday Adeyemo for terrorist act whether he would not be damnified in exemplary damages for defamation”.

Meanwhile, Apex Yoruba Organization, Afenifere has reacted to a statement by Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami that Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho has ties to Terrorism.

However, in response to the development, Afenifere, in a press release signed by its Secretary-General, Chief Sola Ebiseni described Malami’s statements as “Illogical reasoning”.

“The Federal Government with its Attorney General, will not stop amusing themselves with illogical reasoning on the nationality question. It is expected that the AG would be guided by the standard of a reasonable man, which is a central test in legal inquiry, before addressing the public.”

“This time around, the team set up by him, at a time he is hell-bent on nailing Igboho, has satisfied his emotional expectations, but in a most unreasonable and tenuous manner, by suggesting that Sunday Igboho, a Yoruba nation campaigner, would be on the same sponsorship with Boko Haram.”

“Only someone with pathological hatred for Igboho and insult to the Yoruba nation will find a common bed for Yoruba nation agitation and Boko Haram which is known to act in tandem with the Fulani herdsmen whose terrorist acts were responsible for Igboho’s campaigns.”

“The whole world knows what Igboho stood and still stands for and his peaceful modus operandi, in spite of the unwarranted invasion of his house which was aimed at his life by the Federal Government.”

“It is of amusing cruelty that the Federal Government which was unable to defend itself of terrorism against Igboho and for which it was handed N20 billion in aggravated damages, would turn around that Igboho received less than N200 million to sponsor terrorism since 2013 when Igboho had never been heard of and when Major General Muhammad Buhari, as former Military Head of State then was campaigning for the Sharia as a law of general application in Nigeria.”

“The Federal Government and its security agencies should better pay the damages awarded against them, apologise to Igboho and his household for the acts of terrorism committed against the peaceful campaigner. The Federal Government may continue to play the ostrich, the whole world knows those who enacted, engineered, and continue to promote terrorism in Nigeria.

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Buhari Hints On Posthumous Pardon For Saro-Wiwa, 8 Others

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President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, told Ogoni people of his administration’s readiness to consider their request for a posthumous pardon for the late activist and playwright, Kenule Saro-Wiwa, and eight others.

Buhari, who gave the assurance while receiving some leaders and people of Ogoniland at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said his administration is committed to engendering true reconciliation and national integration, adding that it is particularly interested in laying the Ogoni issue to rest.

It would be recalled the then General Sani Abacha regime, in November 1995, executed a group of Ogoni activists led by Saro-Wiwa, who were demanding that the oil exploitation activities by the oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Ogoniland be stopped.

The group, including Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine, were, however, arrested by the regime in 1994, tried by a special tribunal on murder charges and executed by hanging in November 10, 1995 in Port Harcourt.

Buhari noted that despite the gravity of the circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request to grant them pardon and bring closure to the case.

“Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this administration’s bid to lay the foundation for genuine reconciliation and bring closure to the issues of Ogoni Land.

“The unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s leading to the loss of lives of distinguished sons of Ogoni Land and the collateral judicial processes are indelible in our memories.

“Despite the grievous circumstances, the federal government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga,’’

Buhari urged the Ogoni leaders to sensitise indigenes on value of protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying wilful damages usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.

He also noted that the federal government is committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni Land so that indigenes can regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.

“You will need to educate the people of Ogoni Land and the region more that when pipelines are broken, the damage is more to the immediate environment and the people. The majority farmers and fishermen struggle because the fishes now move to the deep sea,’’ he said.

The President observed that bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.

A statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) further quoted the President as saying: “Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished representatives of the people of Ogoni Land, I note the need to ensure completion of segment of the East-West Road traversing Ogoni Land, and steps will be taken to ensure delivery under the Infrastructure Development Fund as earlier conceived. We intend to complete this vital artery of Nigeria.”

According to him, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had been granted license to operate OML11, which will stimulate economic activities and integration in the zone.

“To ensure the stimulation of economic activities in Ogoni Land as underpinned by the vast petroleum resources underlying Ogoni Land and neighbouring communities, NPDC, a subsidiary of the NNPC has been granted licence to operate OML11.

“Accordingly, NNPC is hereby directed to engage all host communities, particularly Ogoni people to ensure inclusive processes of oil and gas exploration and production is anchored on optimum involvement of host communities. NPDC will lay a broad-based programme for the emergence of a new Ogoni Land for the benefit of the Ogoni people and Nigeria as a whole,’’ he added.

President Buhari said he was aware of the passage of the Bill on the Federal University of Environmental Technology by the National Assembly and awaits transmission for further necessary action.

“This administration has placed the rehabilitation of the Niger-Delta as a top priority and has committed a lot of resources to tackle existing problems, including launching a US One Billion dollar oil clean-up exercise to reverse the terrible damage and restore the ecosystem.

“I am pleased that the restoration and amelioration activities under the auspices of the United Nations and the vehicle of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, has commenced work since we assumed office as we promised.

“We will take further steps to ensure faithful and speedy execution of the project so as to restore the environment and enable farming and fishing activities to resume in the affected areas,’’ he added.

The President also appreciated the leaders for recognition of the Federal Government’s efforts to clean up the area and stimulate more economic activities.

“Your Royal Highnesses and very distinguished people of Ogoni Land, I thank you very much for your kind words and recognition of efforts made by our administration to bring progress to your part and all parts of the country,” he stated.

President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, His Majesty King Godwin N.K. Giniwa, the Gbenemene Tai, thanked President Buhari for various interventions in the area, particularly on clean-up of the environment.

The paramount ruler noted that the people believe in the unity of Nigeria and the future of every group could only be guaranteed in one nation.

He congratulated the President for achievements in critical infrastructure in the country, especially in railways and road constructions, urging more efforts in provision of potable water.

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