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SSS warns against Muslim-Muslim ticket, says it will destabilize Nigeria

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Abuja—Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s decision to nominate a fellow Muslim as vice-presidential candidate for the 2023 presidential election has been described as a tailored recipe for renewed sectarian crises that could destabilise Nigeria.

This is according to a processed intelligence report sent to President Muhammadu Buhari by the State Security Service (SSS) and shared with Peoples Gazette by national security officials this week. 

The document, which got to the president by way of the National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, said Tinubu should consider the security implications of his selection before making it public, according to three officials briefed on the report. 

“The SSS produced the report and handed a copy to the NSA,” an intelligence officer told The Gazette.

“The NSA looked at the report and added it for security briefing to the president.

“Simply put, our understanding is that the alliance will destabilise Nigeria and embolden attacks on Christian citizens from their fellow Muslim citizens,” the official said.

“The distrust Christians are likely to harbour against a presidency occupied by two Muslims won’t make our work easy at national security level.”

The official said Buhari was not involved in the deliberations that led to Tinubu’s announcement of Kashim Shettima, from Boko-Haram stronghold in Borno, as his 2023 running mate to the ire of Christians across the country. 

“People can say whatever they like about President, but as a senior intelligence administrator I can guarantee you he was not involved in Tinubu’s decision at all,” the official said in a remarkable moment of candour. 

Another official said the report was commissioned after Tinubu became the standard-bearer of the ruling All Progressives Congress on June 8 and started embracing the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticket as the most potent strategy to be elected as president in an ethnically and religiously polarised country like Nigeria. 

Traditionally, northern Muslims have voted more than southern Christians, a traditional pattern which Tinubu looked to exploit, particularly as a similar ticket in 1993 saw the election of Moshood Abiola as president despite picking Babagana Kingibe, a northern Muslim, as running mate.

While the ticket was accepted by Nigerians at the time, the victory was annulled by former dictator Ibrahim Babangida and augured a protracted turmoil across the country. Christian leaders said  Abiola’s fate should be a cautionary tale for Tinubu. 

“Strong intelligence led us to believe that he was passionate about the idea of a Muslim running mate,” the second official, an assistant director at the SSS, said.

“By the time our analysts reassessed the state of the country right now and what would likely come out of a Muslim president and vice-president, everything tilted towards negative and very dangerous times ahead.” 

A spokesman for the SSS declined requests to comment on the memo, and both the State House and Tinubu’s campaign headquarters did not respond to requests for comment.

Yet, the report could drive a wedge between the secret police and the man who may be the country’s next president on the back of President Buhari and the ruling party. 

The second official also dismissed questions about whether or not the SSS was injecting itself into uncharted political waters which could warrant serious consequences should Tinubu go on to be elected next February, saying it was after Tinubu had already taken the decision that he informed the president. 

“We have it in our files that Tinubu went to the president to ask him about who to pick but the president was very reluctant to contribute and Tinubu noticed this before walking away,” the official added. “We have a role to play towards safeguarding national security and our report was not intended as a political intervention.”

Tinubu unveiled Shettima, a serving senator under whose governorship tenure Boko Haram became an international terror network between 2011 and 2019, on Sunday evening, saying his action was based on merit as against religious consideration.

“I made this choice because I believe this is the man who can help me bring the best governance to all Nigerians, period, regardless of their religious affiliation or considerations of ethnicity or region,” Tinubu said shortly in his announcement. “Here is where politics ends, and true leadership must begin.“

But critics have inundated the media with allegations of a clandestine plot to Islamise the country, which has a roughly equal number of Christians and Muslims distributed among more than 400 ethnic groups.

Tinubu’s main opponents Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party have both nominated running mates of other political parties. 

Abubakar, a Fulani from the North-East, nominated Ifeanyi Okowa, a Christian of Igbo origin from the South-South; while Mr. Obi, a Christian from the South-East, nominated Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, a Muslim of Fulani ethnic group from the North-West.

But it was the decision of Tinubu, a Muslim from the South-West, to nominate a Muslim from the North-East that upset the political landscape last week. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) was among the first to rally Christians across the country against Tinubu’s ticket.

Members of the former Lagos governor’s party, notably Senator Ishaku Abbo and Babachir Lawal, have also led campaigns pressuring Tinubu to drop Shettima or face internal revolt that could cost him the presidency next year.

OPINIONS/OTHER NEWS ARTICLES

NSA Inaugurates Ndiomu as Chairman of panel to probe oil theft

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Abuja—The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), on Tuesday, inaugurated an 11-man special investigative panel to probe oil theft in the Niger Delta region of the country, Daily Trust reports.

The panel, comprised of retired top military brass and police officers as well as some administrators, has the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Major General Barry Ndiomu, as its chairman and Mr. David Attah as Secretary.

Inaugurating the panel in Abuja, Monguno said that Nigeria was facing a monumental loss of revenue that ought to have accrued from the sale of crude oil.

He noted that pipeline vandalism and theft of crude oil had led to a significant decline in production.
Read also: Cash withdrawals limits: PoS operators get waiver
The Terms of Reference (ToRs), according to NSA, are to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the illegal insertion into the Trans-Escravos Pipeline (TEP) around Yokri area in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State

On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Aliyu Yerro, said the menace of crude oil theft had greatly impacted the nation’s revenue growth.

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Senate seeks clarifications on new cash withdrawal policy, set to grill CBN chiefs

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Abuja—The Senate will on Friday grill two deputy governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the cash withdrawal limit policy unveiled by the apex bank on Tuesday, according to the Punch newspaper.

The red chamber planned to seek clarifications on the new directive which restricts over-the-counter cash withdrawal by individuals and organisations to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, per week.

It also limits cash withdrawals via point-of-sale machines and automated teller machines to N20,000 daily and N100,000 weekly, respectively.

According to a memo signed Tuesday by the CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, withdrawals above the thresholds would attract processing fees of five per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, for individuals and corporate entities going forward.

In addition, third-party cheques above N50,000 shall not be eligible for OTC payment while extant limits of N10m on clearing cheques still remain.

The circular also directed banks to load only N200 and lower denominations into their ATMs and restricted withdrawal to N20, 000 per day from ATMs.

The policy which will become effective on January 9, 2023, had generated criticisms but the CBN clarified on Wednesday that PoS operators could apply for waivers.

Deliberating on the policy on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, senators said there was a need to debate the policy on the floor of the red chamber.

However, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, directed the Senate Committee on Banking to grill the two re-appointed deputy governors of the CBN, Aisha Ahmad, and Edward Adamu, who will be screened on Friday, on the new cash withdrawal policy.

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2022 Flooding: Bayelsa govt directs fresh distribution of items to communities, acknowledges donors

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Yenagoa—Bayelsa State government has acknowledged donations from international agencies, state governments, political parties and their presidential candidates, individuals and corporate organisations in the wake of the 2022 flooding that ravaged the state.

Governor Douye Diri in his opening remarks at the weekly state executive council meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, on Wednesday disclosed that the government received donations in form of cash, foodstuff and other materials from well-meaningful individuals and corporate organisations during and after the floods.

According to a statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, Diri restated his administration’s commitment to transparency and assured the people that they would not be left in the dark as regards the flood donations.

He listed the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, the Akwa Ibom and Lagos state governments, which donated N100m and N50m respectively, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar (N55m), and his counterpart in the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adewole Adebayo (N10m) as some of the donors.

Other donors are Dr. Azibapu Eruani of the Azikel Group, who he said has started redeeming his pledge of N350million worth of items, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Century Energy Group, Chief Ken Etete (N50m).

The governor also disclosed that the South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria donated $100,000, Access Bank N100m, Zenith Bank N20m, Linkage Assurance N20m, Sterling Oil N15m, Paache Construction N10m and AITEO N50m.

According to Diri, organisations that donated items include the Tompolo Foundation 440 cartons of noodles, 595 bags of 50kg rice, 35 jerrycans of 25kg palm oil, groundnut oil 180 cartons, garri 40 50kg bags, beans 20 100kg bags as well as 500 tubers of yam.

Others are Globus Bank 70 bags of 50kg rice and 100 cartons of noodles, Stanbic Bank 146 4×6’ mattresses, 148 pillows and 150 plastic buckets.

The rest are Julius Berger 100 bags of 50kg rice, Redeemed Christian Church of God 100 bags of 50kg rice, Brass Petrochemical and Fertiliser Company 100 bags of 50kg rice, 100 bags of 50kg garri and 100 bags of 100kg beans.

Diri directed the task force on flood mitigation and management and the Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (BYSEMA) to immediately resume distribution of items in the warehouse to all affected communities in the state.

He also assured that the donations will be prudently used and urged people of the state to exercise patience with the process of distributing the relief materials to victims.

He further stated that the process will be devoid of political colouration.

His words: “We never played politics with the flood and the relief items for victims. The whole world saw it. Those who came to play politics, the whole world equally saw them.

“In all that we did, we never discriminated against any political party. And we commend particularly our people that bore the brunt of the flood.

“As a government, we will take decisions in the best interest of our people. Everything should not be politicised.“

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