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How a failed plot by Nigeria’s secret police vigorously shook the Buhari Presidency

Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of governance, was barely roaring to life Tuesday morning when the country was jolted with news of a blockade of the National Assembly by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS)

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Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of governance, was barely roaring to life Tuesday morning when the country was jolted with news of a blockade of the National Assembly by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS).

The men, fully clad in combat wears and clutching assault rifles, stood menacingly, and held their grounds while stranded lawmakers fretted as they were denied entry to their offices. Only one of the masked men managed to utter, ‘Orders from above’ as reason for the stand-off.

The embarrassing incident was captured on live television.

The day before had offered an inkling into what would transpire. Senate President Bukola Saraki had informed that, in response to demands by the Buhari administration, the leadership of the National Assembly would meet Tuesday to consider some matters of urgent national interest.

The lawmakers had been on recess and were hoping to return to legislative duties late September. Among the issues that required the attention of the legislature were requests by the Executives for funding of the country’s electoral commission, INEC, and a supplementary budget for 2018.

The vacation itself had been hurriedly put together. It came almost minutes after some 52 lawmakers from both the Senate and House of Representatives upset the nation’s power structure by defecting from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Critics have argued that the vacation was forced to prevent the Presidency and the ruling party from contemplating an immediate response. The handicap was not to last for long. Plot to undo Saraki, who himself had joined the defection gale and become leader of the camp, was activated clandestinely.

The Chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole, fired the first shot, calling on Saraki to ‘honorably’ relinquish the ‘crown’. Other members of APC were not as diplomatic and made veiled references to impeachment plans, insisting that it ran against common norm and convention for a minority party to produce the leadership of the legislature.

Monday night had seen both parties building scenarios on what the opposing camp could be working on. While the APC feared PDP could embarrass the Presidency with an impeachment move, the latter was almost certain that the Senate President was going to be removed.

By Tuesday, mutual suspicions had run so deep. This was not helped by confirmed reports of planned defection of the Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, from PDP to APC.

Speculations had been rife that Akpabio was being positioned to take over the position of the Senate President.

The drama of Tuesday reached a climax when the bunch of APC legislators boycotted the meeting called by the Senate President, Saraki, opting instead to hold a caucus assembly elsewhere in the nation’s capital. While they retreated, their PDP counterparts were left to confront the siege by DSS operatives, spurring speculations that the Presidency was remotely linked to the ugly scenes that had played out.

With uproar from the media, and global attention turned to Nigeria, attempts to breach the constitution caved in. The platoon of secret policemen were quickly withdrawn, leaving Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to tackle what many have now described as an assault on Nigeria’s democracy.

Osinbajo’s immediate move to mange the image disaster was to order the sack and arrest of the Director-General of DSS, Lawal Daura, who had been fingered as the unseen hand in the Tuesday fiasco that brought the country so much shame.

In a terse statement made via his twitter handle, Osinbajo’s media aide, Laolu Akande, said, “AgP has directed the termination of the appointment of the DG of DSS Lawal Musa Daura.

“Mr Daura has been directed to handover to the most senior officer of the State Security Service until further notice”

He added, “the unlawful act which was done without the knowledge of the Presidency is condemnable and completely unacceptable.

“By this statement, Professor Osinbajo is consequently assuring Nigerians that all persons within the law enforcement apparatus who participated in this travesty will be identified and subjected to appropriate disciplinary action”.

Many have hailed Osinbajo’s initiative but not a few are worried that he may be ruffling some feathers given that the sacked Daura is not just an appointee of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari but also a very close kinsman.

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While Buhari is expected to be back from vacation in a couple days, his media aide, Femi Adesina, addressing the press on Wednesday said, “the Presidency is one”, in obvious reference to insinuations that Osinbajo may not have secured his principal’s not before firing his appointee.

Analysts argue that the full import of Daura’s sack can only be felt if Buhari returns to office and sustains the Vice President’s effort at enforcing constitutionalism and rule of law.

The battle against impunity remains a huge challenge. Buhari will resume from leave to meet the case of Benue and Akwa Ibom States whose accounts have been frozen by the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Close watchers believe that the dilemma of both states may not be far from the fact they had been caught up in the defection saga.

APC and PDP continue to trade blames over the National Assembly fracas, with each side accusing the other of recruiting the secret police in pursuit of party agenda.

Politics

2023: Nigeria’s ruling party presidential candidates, Tinubu, Masari, can’t find certificates. What we know so far

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Kabiru Masari, the running mate to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Nigerian presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the coming 2023 general elections, has declared that his school certificates and other vital documents including the certificate to landed properties, are missing.

Masari’s declaration of missing certificates, is coming barely a week after his principal, Tinubu, also declared that he could not explain the whereabouts of his primary and secondary schools certificates after soldiers invaded his house while he was in self-exile during the fight against military regime in Nigeria shortly after the June 12, 1993, presidential election, which was annulled by the General Ibrahim Babangida-led military regime.

While explaining how he lost his certificates, Tinubu had said the documents were among his personal effect destroyed when his property at the Balarabe Musa Crescent in Victoria Island, Lagos, was set ablaze by agents of former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, in 1997.

Tinubu’s Form EC9, which was published on Friday by the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, revealed that the former Lagos State governor did not fill the columns for his primary and secondary school education, which generated a lot of controversies, leading to some opposition political parties and civil society groups threatening court actions.

But while Nigerians were still grappling with the idea of a presidential candidate without the basic primary and secondary school certifications, Masari, who was named as a ‘placeholder’, effectively meaning he is a temporary vice presidential candidate while the party looks for a suitable replacement, also announced that he is in the same boat as Tinubu.

In a sworn affidavit he deposed to on July 17, 2021, and submitted to the INEC, Masari claimed that the Grade II certificate he allegedly obtained from the Katsina State Teachers’ College and his primary school certificate were missing.

He also said told the electoral umpire that the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for a plot of land in Katsina State were also missing.

“Sometimes in January 2021, while on transit within Wuse Area, FCT-Abuja, I discovered that my original Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of Plot, No KT 17522, GRA Katsina, Katsina State; Certificate of Kaduna State Development Centre from 1994 – 1995 were missing,” the affidavit reads.

“Also missing were Grade II Certificate from Katsina Teachers’ College (KTC) from 1978 –1983 and First Leaving School Certificate issued by Masari Primary School in Katsina State from 1972 – 1978.

“Efforts made to trace the documents proved abortive hence this affidavit,” he added in the sworn affidavit.

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Politics

Guinean Prime Minister, Mohamed Béavogui meets political parties to mitigate tension

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In the bid to address tension that has bedeviled its political space, Guinean Prime Minister, Mohamed Béavogui has met with political parties.

The meeting comes after the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) suspended its call for a demonstration which would have been the first major protest rally under the now ruling junta.

In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister stressed that “it is essential that each of us here understand once and for all that the only agenda that counts is that of the people.”

Guinea’s pressure group, The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) had called for a nationwide demonstration against the West African country’s military junta earlier this month. The group also led protests against former President Alpha Conde, calling against the ban imposed by the junta on public protest.

Mohamed Béavogui, told the political parties, civil society organizations and trade unions that “only an inclusive approach, adapted to the Guinean reality, will enable us to lay the foundations for the good life together that we all aspire.

“We have already set up an inter-ministerial council, a group of colleagues. We are going to refine the group as we go along… You also have to get organised. The government is counting on the good faith of all the participants in this consultation.”

Mr. Béavogui concluded by asking participants to “send their contributions” by July 1. He did not set any new meeting dates.

Guinea is one of the West African countries that have recently experienced a military takeover of government. Mali and Burkina Faso are part of the negative trend. There has been pressure on the countries from the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for transition into civil government.

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