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COVER STORIES

We’re Deploying More Resources To Combat Insecurity – PMB

Apparently miffed by the growing spate of killings and other forms of insecurity in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari announced yesterday that the federal government was providing more resources for the military, Police and other security agencies to deal with the unwarranted security situation in parts of the country.

Assessing the state of security in the country, the president described the situation, particularly in the North West and the North Central geopolitical zones of the country as “very disturbing.”

Speaking shortly after performing the Eid prayers with his family and aides at the forecourt of the presidential villa, President Buhari said that while much had been achieved security-wise, from the situation he inherited in 2015, more still needed to be done.

A statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted the president as saying considering the security situation on ground when he came into office, it was clear that his administration had tried its best.

“Nigerians know that we have done our best. However, what is coming out of the North West and the North Central is very disturbing”, Buhari noted.

Responding to a specific question on the performance of the Service Chiefs who he recently said needed to get better, the president said that the military, the Police and other security agencies were working hard.

“We are making available resources to them to even do better,” he assured, adding that “from the reports I am getting, they could do much better…they could do much better. But we are keeping them on the alert all the time to do their duties”, he added.

On the issue of corruption, President Buhari said that all past and present cases will be fully investigated.

“This is why we put the commission (of investigation) in place. There has been abuse of trust by people trusted by the previous administration and this administration,” he said, vowing that all of such cases will be uncovered and firmly dealt with by his government.

On the case of the Niger Delta, Buhari decried the wastage of the resources earmarked for the betterment of the lives of the people of that region, lamenting that corruption had been unhelpful in that regard, especially “if you recall there is the 13 per cent derivation.”

He also warned against vandalization of oil pipelines in the oil- producing areas, resulting in environmental pollution, saying the perpetrators are hurting the Niger Delta region more than the entire country.

He continued: “Those who are blowing pipelines and interfering with the production of petroleum products are hurting their people more than the rest of Nigerians because majority of their people are fishermen, fisherwomen and farmers.

“Now if they pollute the land and the waters, the fish goes into the deeper sea where the people cannot go and they cannot grow anything. They are hurting their immediate communities more than any other thing”.

Reps Minority Caucus Demand Review Of Security Architecture

Meanwhile, the minority caucus of the House of Representatives yesterday expressed dismay over attack on the convoy of Borno State governor, Baba Gana Zulum, by suspected bandits, insisting that the incident has again reinforced the urgent need to review the nation’s security architecture.

Minority leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, in a statement, urged President Buhari to implement the recent resolution of both chambers of the National Assembly by sacking his Service Chiefs.

Elumelu in the statement also noted that the attack on Governor Zulum and other dastardly activities of the insurgents in various parts of the nation further reinforced the urgent need to inject new hands with fresh ideas to handle the nation’s security architecture

He said, “The worsening security situation in the country under the current Service Chiefs has reached an unbearable state to the extent that insurgents have the temerity to attack an armed convoy of a state governor.

“This is more so with the insistence by Governor Zulum of compromising the security system in the area, allegedly creating an opening to the attack; a position that validates the call for immediate reorganising of the nation’s security architecture.

“The entire nation is distressed by the incessant mindless killing of our citizens and pillaging of defenseless communities by insurgents, bandits and kidnappers, which have brought indescribable agony, anguish and torment to innocent Nigerians.

“We the opposition lawmakers hereby, in the strongest terms, restate the call to President Muhammadu Buhari to honor the resolution of the National Assembly and immediately remove the Service Chiefs and bring in new hands to effectively confront the security challenges confronting our nation.”

Kogi Gov Vows To Sustain Onslaught On Criminals

Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, yesterday vowed to sustain the current onslaught on criminal elements in the state until they are crushed completely.

The governor who gave the reassurance while speaking with journalists at the Eid ground in Agasa, Okene local government area of the state said he will lead security agents in the coming days to smoke out criminals from their hideouts.

Bello said his administration would not rest on its oars until all criminal elements operating along the Lokoja-Abuja as well as Okene-Lokoja highways are crushed.

The governor noted that his administration will continue to deal ruthlessly with criminals and will never negotiate with them under any circumstance.

He stated: “The bandits are spilling into the state especially on Abuja-Lokoja highway carrying out attacks on commuters recently.

“We are not going to fold our hands and watch or think of negotiating with any criminal gangs. We know what to do and they are aware of what we can do. In the days ahead, I will lead security agents into their hideouts and smoke them out”.

Bello said those who have refused to take opportunity of the various government empowerment programmes to be self-reliant would not be allowed to unleash terror on innocent citizens.

“The federal and state governments have lofty empowerment programmes for different categories of persons to engage themselves meaningfully. Those who want to engage in illicit endeavours such as armed robbery, kidnapping and banditry will be crushed”.

On the recent visit of the NCDC to Kogi State, the governor said the state under his leadership has had a robust partnership with the agency over the years.

He said their coming to Kogi State now that ban on interstates travel had been lifted would afford the Disease Control Agency an opportunity to understudy the state’s success in managing infectious diseases particularly COVID-19 which he said “the state is truly yet to record any case”.

He charged the people to continue to adhere to all the safety protocols, ensure that they live a healthy and hygienic lifestyle while they also key into all the federal government’s empowerment and economic programmes.

Bello urged people of the state to remain law-abiding and engage themselves in productive endeavours.

Govs, Etsu Nupe, Others Sue For Peace

State governors, the Etsu Nupe and chairman, Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, as well as other Muslim faithful have appealed to communities in their respective domains to uphold peace and harmony.

Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, specifically charged all citizens to allow their faiths incline them to law-abiding conduct.

The governor who made the appeal in an Eid el-Kabir message yesterday called on all Muslim faithful to pray for the peace, progress and development of the country.

In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, el-Rufai congratulated the Muslim community on the festival of sacrifice.

He called for reflections on the tradition of deep faith that underscores the festival.

Governor el-Rufai urged citizens to remain conscious of the perils of COVID-19 and charged them to protect themselves and others by complying with the health protocols.

“The governor has requested that citizens mark this profound festival of faith with strict compliance with public health guidelines,” Adekeye said.

On his part, the Etsu Nupe urged Muslims to emulate Prophet Mohammed’s virtues of sacrifice, obedience and submissiveness to shun societal ills.

He made the appeal yesterday in his Sallah message to the Muslim Ummah and Nigerians to mark the Eid-el-Adhah celebration at the Usman Zaki Juma’at Mosque in Niger State.

“Societal ills like bribery, corruption, drunkenness and gambling do not do any good to man, society, or the Muslim faithful hence all believers are enjoined to avoid them,” he said.

The royal father implored ‘Muslim Ummah’ in his kingdom and the country at large to reflect on the significance of the celebration, which borders on encouraging piety, sacrifice and love.

Etsu Nupe said, “Today’s celebration is in commemoration of total submissiveness and obedience to the will of Allah, as exemplified by Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail.

“It is also a lesson on the virtue of keeping our promises to Allah and to our fellow man. Prophet Ibrahim made a vow to sacrifice his son to Allah, and when it was time to fulfill the promise, he didn’t back out. That is a strong virtue worthy of emulation. It was in appreciation of that gesture that Allah converted what would have been a human sacrifice to that of a sheep.”

Abubakar also admonished Nigerians to strive to live in peace with each other, irrespective of religious, political, cultural and ethnic background.

He added: “We should also continue to be our brothers’ keepers, so as to collectively foster peace, unity for the socioeconomic development of the country. The Almighty Allah has created us in different ways, with varying potentials and faiths, cultures and ethnicities.

“But our rich diversities should serve as our formidable unifying factors and not dividing ones. The Almighty Allah has not made a mistake by creating us together in Nigeria”.

Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, called on Muslim faithful to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice as a sign of obedience to Allah through observance of Eid prayers, animal sacrifice, charity and festival meals.

In a Sallah message signed by his senior Special Assistant on Media, Mukhtar Gidado, the governor charged Muslims to use the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir for self-assessment of their lives since the last one year in order to take corrective measures where necessary.

He stated that doing so will make them be among the believers who will enjoy the mercies of Allah in the thereafter.

“The religion of Islam propagates submission to the will of Allah and peaceful coexistence with our fellow human beings. As we are aware, the Holy Qur’an has commanded every Muslim to spend something (in charity), out of the treasures which Allah has bestowed on him. Also, one of the early teachings of Prophet Muhammad is that God expects Muslims to be generous with one another, irrespective of our religious, ethnic and political differences,” he said.

On his part, Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, enjoined Muslim faithful in the state to exhibit good neighbourliness through love, peaceful coexistence and generosity in the spirit of the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.

In a Sallah message to the people of the state issued by his director-general of press and media affairs, Malam Mamman Mohammed, the governor said, “I express my warm greetings and best wishes to the people of Yobe State, Nigerians and the entire Muslim faithful opportune to witness and celebrate this great day.”

On how to unite the country, he said, “We should also be inclined to mutual understanding, justice and kindness to followers of other religions for the attainment of a stronger and united country.

“This occasion inculcates in us the spirit of good neighbourliness, love, honesty, generosity, discipline and above all fear of Allah in all our actions.”

Sokoto State governor, Amimu Waziri Tambuwal, appealed to farmers to be more dedicated to their farmlands’ to ward off impending food crisis.

Tambuwal, who stated this while delivering his Sallah message assured citizens of the state that God will grant them protection over all agents of insecurity in the country.

The governor also appealed to the people of the state and Nigerians to be patient with the new normal caused by the novel Coronavirus pandemic, adding that the virus was real, hence the need to obey all laid down guidelines by health experts while they celebrates Eid-el-Kabir.

He said, “I appeal to our farmers to continue to be more dedicated to their farmlands because the economic challenges are tough this time around and we cannot afford a situation in which farmers do not go to farms; and at the end of the day we are faced with shortages of food.

“Food security is important. That is why the state government procures fertilizers annually and sale them at subsidized rates to our farmers. We hope that they will judiciously utilize all of the fertilizer, farm inputs and implements that has been provided to them at subsidized rates.”

Police Deploy More Personnel To Southern Kaduna

Meanwhile, the commissioner of Police (CP), Kaduna State, Mr Umar Muri, has ordered the immediate deployment of more Police personnel to Kajuru, Zango Kataf, Kaura and Kauru local government areas of the state.

The spokesman of the Command, ASP Mohammed Jalige, stated this in a statement he made available to journalists yesterday.

He said the CP ordered the deployment as part of his efforts to restore law and order to the areas following recent violence and other security challenges in the areas.

According to the statement, the commissioner directed all Area Commanders and DPOs within the affected areas to make adequate use of the deployed personnel in ensuring the safety of lives and properties of people as well as the full enforcement of the 24-hour curfew imposed by the Kaduna State Government.

The command also commiserated with the people of Kaduna State, particularly, those who have lost loved ones and property as a result of the crises.

He also assured them that the Command would do everything within its powers to ensure that peace was restored in the affected areas.

Umar advised all law abiding citizens in the State to co-operate with the law enforcement agencies as they carry out the full enforcement of the curfew alongside other measures with a view to ensuring their safety.

He, however, warned troublemakers to desist forthwith from acts of violence and lawlessness.

He said that the Command would not hesitate to deal decisively with any person or group of persons found working against peace in the state.

YELLOW BOX

Workers Who Retired In Last One Year May Not Get Pension

By Michael Oche and Mark Itsibor Abuja

Unless President Muhammadu Buhari intervenes with the release of outstanding accrued pension benefits, civil servants who retired since June 2019, will not get their pension benefit, checks by LEADERSHIP Weekend have revealed.

Findings by this paper showed that when President Olusegun Obasanjo signed the pension reform Act 2004 into law, serving civil servants were moved automatically to the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) from the former Defined Benefit Scheme.

The new pension scheme which commenced in July 2004 was created to assist workers to save towards retirement.

Under the new scheme, employers and the employees contribute minimum percentages of the employees’ salary to the scheme every month.

In this case, the affected workers are some federal government workers who have retired from service.

The government, it was gathered, had agreed to move the pension savings of the workers, some of whom had served up to 15 years to the CPS being managed by the National Pensions Commission (PenCom).

Those who retired under the old pension scheme are handled by Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).

Official sources said the Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan administrations either failed to remit or remitted insignificant amount to the pensioners’ account, leaving an outstanding pension liability of about N91,914,899,000 until the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari took over government and began the settlement of the unpaid pensions.

The federal government had last week released the sum of N7.45 billion as outstanding accrued rights to pensioners.

The amount is for the part payment of the outstanding accrued rights to pensioners under the CPS up to May 2019.

But the NUP, according to its national president, Dr Abel Afolayan, appealed to the federal government to release further funds to clear the backlog of the accrued rights from June 2019 to date.

He explained that until a new release is made, workers who retired in the last one year will not have their pension paid

Also, chairman of the NUP Contributory Pension Sector (NUPCPS), Comrade Sylva Nwaiwu appealed to President Buhari to bailout the sector just like he did in April 2017 when he released N54.6bn in April 2017 to clear 8 months of pension arrears in the CPS Sector

He said, “We appeal to President Buhari to come to our aid with another bailout funds as he did in April, 2017, to clear the remaining backlogs of pension accrued rights to CPS retirees who retired between June 2019 and now. Once this is done, the agonies experienced in the CPS Sector will become a thing of the past.”

He added that the pensioners applauded Buhari for his interventions so far in the CPS sector despite the fact that the problems at hand were only inherited by him from the regime before him.

He said, “Presently, President Buhari has stabilized budget appropriations for CPS retirees which before now were usually under-appropriated. Secondly and very importantly too, he has regularised monthly releases of pension accrued rights which got stuck since 2015.

“Nevertheless, the impact of his efforts are not yet felt in the sector because about 13 months accrued rights inherited from the previous regime would not allow PENCOM to pay retirees benefits as and when due as long as the backlogs remain uncleared.

“For instance, accrued rights from January2020 to June 2020 have been released by government but PENCOM would not pay those who retired between January and June,2020, when those who retired between January 2019 and June,2019 are on the cue to be paid their benefits. This is the problem.

“We appeal to President Buhari to come to our aid with another bailout funds as he did in April, 2017, to clear the remaining backlogs of pension accrued rights to CPS retirees who retired between June 2019 and now. Once this is done, the agonies experienced in the CPS Sector will become a thing of the past.”

Head of corporate communications at PenCom, Peter Aghahowa, while reacting, said there was no need to fear or raise the alarm over the unpaid pensions, assuring that government is determined to settle the backlog to retirees.

The director said PenCom was clearing the backlog of unpaid pensions as funds are released to it, nothing that the Commission has paid up to the month of May of 2019. “When federal government release more funds, we pay,” he said.

Aghahowa said only federal government retired employees who were migrated from the old Defined Benefit Scheme are being owed for some months.

“There is backlog. Funds are being released by the federal government and payments are being made,” he stated.

He did not confirm if the Commission will still flout Bonds to raise the N400bn, even as he failed to state the total sum of the unpaid pension arrears, adding however that the Commission has some initiatives on ground to raise funds to settle the backlog.

Asked about how much was the total outstanding funds, he said he did not have the information.

He stated: “Some of the files are under some of the younger colleagues who have not been allowed to resume duties due to the controlled COVID-19 restriction of movement.

“The responsibility to pay the accrued benefit under the Defined Benefit Scheme is on the employer. The only people that are owed are federal government employees.

“It’s only federal employees that are affected. Those that are treasury funded federal government workers like the ministries are the ones that are affected because they have to wait for the federal government allocation for payment of that Accrued Right. Federal government has been trying to clear the backlog. As we get more releases, we will just clear the outstanding.

“Those working in departments and agencies of government like NCC, SEC, FIRS, and Customs are not affected because their funding comes from IGR. They are not treasury funded”.

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