By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, has accused the Nigeria Police Force of plotting to detain him today in order to stop lawmakers in the National Assembly from defecting from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
On Monday night, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, ordered the Senate President to report to a station in Guzape over the Offa robbery investigation.
Reacting to the invitation, the Senate President, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the invitation as a “mere afterthought which is designed to achieve political purpose.”
He said he has it on good authority that the police had already decided on the suspects to arraign in court in Ilorin, Kwara State on Wednesday based on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mohammed U.E. and that the turn around to invite him was a ploy aimed at scoring cheap political points.
“I have been reliably informed that the police invitation was planned by IG as a ploy to stop an alleged plan by some Senators and House of Representatives members from defecting from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“It was also said that if I was detained between Tuesday and Wednesday, that will abort the so-called defection plan.
“While I continue to maintain that the issue of my position on the 2019 elections is not a personal decision for me alone to make, it should be noted that all these concoctions and evil plot cannot deter me. Those behind this fresh assault will fail as I have nothing to do with the robbery incident or any criminal matter for that matter.
“I am aware that following a request made by the Police on June 13, 2018 to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation had written a legal advice dated June 22, 2018, in which he stated on page 5, paragraph (f) that ‘For the Senate President and the Kwara State Governor, this office is unable to establish from the evidence in the interim report a nexus between the alleged office and the suspects.’
“The police have obviously corrupted and politicized their investigations into the Offa robbery incident.
“They have turned it into an instrument for the party in power to suppress perceived opponents, witch-hunt issue for blackmailing people from freely choosing which platform on which they want to pursue their ambition and a matter for harassing the people whose exit from APC would harm the chances of the party in the forthcoming elections.
“I want to make it apparent that I have no hand in either the robbery incident or any criminal activity. The Police in their haste to embarrass me sent the invitation to me at 8pm and requested that I report to the station by 8am tomorrow morning. This obviously demonstrated their desperation as I do not see why they are now in a hurry.
“They also stated in today’s letter that because in my response of June 7, 2018 to their own letter written on June 4, 2018, I stated that I was responding simply to the contents of the letter and that the full text of the statement made by the arrested suspects which they claimed indicted me was not made available to me, they were now including the suspects statements in the current letter.
“Yet, instead of including the suspects’ statements, they only attached two copies of my own letter to the invitation. No suspect’s statement was made available.
“This plot aimed at compelling me and my associates to stay in a party where members are criminalised without just cause, where injustice is perpetrated at the highest level and where there is no respect for constitutionalism is an exercise in futility and it will fail.
“Once again, my confidence in God and our judicial system remains intact and unshaken. The truth shall also prevail in this case,” he stated.
Group Laments Absence of Sign Language Interpreters at TV Stations, Hospitals
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
A former leader of the women’s wing of the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), Mrs Monsurat Abdulwasiu, has raised the issue of exclusion of hearing-impaired individuals, especially in major TV broadcasts.
The counsellor made the complaint to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, on Thursday during the 2021 annual lecture organized by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in partnership with the Albino Foundation and the European Union (EU).
Speaking through an interpreter on behalf of the disadvantaged, Mrs Abdulwasiu said that because many TV stations across the country do not feature sign language interpretations in their major broadcast, persons with disabilities only look at images during news hours without understanding the message.
In her words, “Only the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, has a sign language interpreter during one of its news hours. In the other media platforms, there are no sign language interpreters. Even in the healthcare sector, no sign language in Nigerian hospitals.
“So, what happens to deaf people when they are reading news, and when they are sick and go to the hospital. Does it mean that we are not entitled to information and healthcare? The government needs to look into this.”
Responding to this, the Minister confirmed this and said he was touched by the point raised, adding that there was a need for sign interpreters during the network news and other major news belts.
Mr Mohammed then assured that he would direct all TV stations in the country, both public and private, to feature sign language interpretation in their major broadcast.
“I am going to ask the NBC to direct all our television stations to ensure that there are sign [language] interpreters in all television stations during their major news hours.
“This will not apply to only the Nigerian Television Authority. Whether public or private television stations, they must comply with the directive.
“This directive will work both ways. It means the complaint of exclusion will be tackled and the persons with disability of hearing will also be included in programs and policies of the government,” he said.
CBN to Inject Fresh N15bn into Lagos Blue Line Railway Project
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that another tranche of N15 billion is due for disbursement to Lagos State for the completion of the ongoing Blue Line Railway project.
This is part of the N60 billion the apex bank has earmarked for the project of which the sum of N45 billion has been disbursed to the state already.
The provision of the funding by the central bank, through select banks, is under the Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement (DCRR) intervention to ensure Lagos State had the financial capacity for the project.
Speaking after a tour at the Marina site on Thursday, October 14, to monitor the progress of the infrastructure operated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the Director of CBN Development Finance, Mr Yusuf Philip Yila, remarked that the “progress of the job matches the funding so far.”
“The total amount we have made available for this line is N60 billion. We have disbursed N45 billion. There’s another tranche of N15 billion.
“We are confident, based on what has been shown, that progress has been made. Disbursement of the funding is being done in tranches. So, another tranche is due.
“As the central bank, we felt it is important to come and see what is on the ground and the quality of work is quite impressive,” Mr Yila disclosed.
Evaluating the work done on the site so far, he noted the job opportunities that have been opened to young Nigerians in the state through the avenue which includes welding, fabricating and others.
He said, “There are over 500 jobs on-site here, which is a good takeaway. I am happy, having met some of the people on-site and across other stations.”
FG Approves N2.5bn for Senior Citizens to Curb Poverty
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has approved N2.5 billion as a take-off grant for the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ms Sadiya Farouq, has disclosed.
The Minister said this at a one-day Southern Zone Stakeholders Consultation on Development of NSCC Strategic Plan on Thursday in Lagos, where she was represented by the ministry’s acting Director, Social Services, Mr Mansur Kuliya.
According to her, the money is presently being processed for disbursement to the centre and would be used to identify the strategic priorities, processes and approaches that would provide an impetus for the centre to achieve its mandate of integrating senior citizens.
The Minister said that the centre was collaborating with relevant stakeholders to brainstorm and produce ideas for the development of a 10-year strategic plan.
“This consultation indicates the commitment of the ministry, board and management of the centre to ensure full implementation of Mr President’s agenda toward the establishment of the centre.
“The ministry and the centre will ensure that the country benefits from the wisdom and wealth of experiences of the senior citizens,” she said.
The Director-General of NSCC, Mr Emem Omokaro, in his presentation, said the consultation was to inform stakeholders about the National Senior Citizens Act and its mandate.
Mr Omokaro said the Act aligns with the National Policy on Ageing and the SDGs Agenda 2030, which was the guiding document for the operations of the NSCC and the parameters of the stakeholders’ deliberation.
Corroborating this, the Minister noted that, “This consultation is also to engage stakeholders on critical issues affecting older persons; to listen to your views, context, evidence and even myths.
“It is to bring innovative solutions that will constitute actions that NSCC should consider and the means to achieve them.
“By this consultative forum, NSCC is creating and fostering an environment of collaboration in the key decision-making process.”
The Lagos State Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr Segun Dawodu, in his remarks, said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was committed to reducing the sufferings of older citizens in alignment with the theme policy agenda of the state.
Mr Dawodu, who was represented by Ms Caroline Inegbedion, the ministry’s Deputy Director, Correctional and Elderly Care Services, noted that the commitment was geared toward reducing the vulnerability of elders to poverty.
He said it was also to make them economically independent and improve their general well-being.
The Commissioner said plans were underway for the construction of Day Care Centre in each of the three senatorial districts, adding that the facility was at 85 per cent completion in Epe.
He noted that the state government had a functional and well-funded Old Peoples Home to take care of its vulnerable aged people with social workers, nurses, doctors and physiotherapists attached.
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