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Nigerian blogger regains freedom after two days in police detention

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Nigerian blogger regains freedom after two days in police detention

Utitofon Ukpong, a blogger in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s South-south, was on Wednesday released on bail at a magistrate court in Uyo after spending two days in police detention.

Mr Ukpong publishes a popular blog, Sitippe Ke Akwa Ibom, which focuses on the happenings around Akwa Ibom state.

He was arrested on Monday and detained at the police headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, for allegedly publishing defamatory materials against a senator and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, his lawyers told PREMIUM TIMES.

He was granted bail in the sum of N10 million and two sureties in like sum showing evidence of ownership of property within the jurisdiction of the court, after the Chief Magistrate, Effiong Effiong, listened to the charge and the arguments from the prosecution and the defence counsels.

The case was adjourned to December 21 for trial.

Lawyers to the blogger told PREMIUM TIMES his arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

“Instead of letting him go with apologies, the police detained him while a fresh petition was quickly authored against him,” Ewa Okpo Edmund, one of the lawyers to the blogger, said.

Mr Edmund said the blogger was arraigned after much pressure was exerted on the police by his lawyers and the press community in Akwa Ibom.

“I cannot be intimidated or blackmailed. Whatever a man sows, that shall he reap,” Mr Ukpong wrote on Facebook, shortly after regaining his freedom.

The blogger was represented in court by Abasiodiong Ekpenyong, Toyo Jimmy, Ekanem Morgan, Ewa Okpo Edmund, and Ini Emembong, who is a lawyer, as well as the spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom.

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Reps committee threatens to block aviation agencies’ 2019 budgets

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Reps discharge 16 committees of 25 referral bills

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has warned it may block the budgets of agencies under it over the failure of their heads to turn up for a budget defence meeting with the committee.

The committee Chairman, Nkiru Onyejeocha (Abia, APC), at a scheduled meeting of the committee with the agencies on 2018 budget performance said the committee would be left with no other option than to block the 2019 budgets of the agencies.

Ms Onyejeocha was reacting to the absence of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and heads of parastatals.

None of the heads of parastatals were present at the meeting but rather, sent in representatives.

Prior to the passage of the 2018 budget by the National Assembly, some agencies had alleged that some lawmakers demanded bribes as conditions for passing their budgets.

The officials said the unceasing demand for gratification was responsible for the reluctance of a number of heads of MDAs to honour invitations by Senate and House of Representatives committees to defend their budgets.

“It is either one director-general is not in the country or the other has travelled out,” Ms Onyejeocha said while lamenting their absence.

“Let it be on record that we are not happy with the ministry and all its agencies,” she continued.

“It is unfortunate because your minister is a product of this parliament. As a former member of the House of Reps and of the Senate, he should know the rules,” she told the representatives.

Ms Onyejeocha said the committee was not satisfied with the way the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, was running the ministry, adding that he cannot get anything good out of it.

“We won’t ask questions and get a reply, the budget implementation is zero to the best of our knowledge as far we are concerned. If they do not take time, they won’t have a 2019 budget; we have sent referrals and consultants to the ministry but they refuse to comply.”

The chairman said her committee recently contacted the ministry and its agencies that they would be coming for oversight but was either told the minister was not around or the head of agency had travelled.

“We are not here to play politics, we would just collect these documents, our hands are tied, the committee’s hand is tied, the House of Reps’ hands’ are tied. After this session, we may issues summons for them to appear before the House.”

She said the controversial issue of Air Nigeria and others were forwarded to the committee for investigation but was withdrawn and forwarded to the committee of the whole due to the absence of the minister and his officials.

“If Aviation is now domiciled abroad, let us know that we may request to the House and that we need visa to see your DGs. Today, we the members of the committee are saying no, we can’t take this committee for a ride, we shall collect the documents and let them speak to it.

“We give them not less than 48 hours to appear before the committee, it must happen, and if it does not, you people must appear on the floor of the House,” she ruled.

In his comments, Abiante Dgomie (PDP, Rivers), said the ministry and the various parastatals under it had become very evasive and were not accountable to Nigerians.

He said this was unfortunate, as it was happening under a regime that has a signpost of anti-corruption.

Mr Dgomie said the representatives of heads of agencies did not have sufficient information for the committee.

“If we begin to interrogate the documents, you will hear that I am not the DG or minister and so I can not talk on the matter. This is a waste of precious time and Nigerians are watching and observing a and they will run their own commentaries themselves.

“Those saddled with these responsibilities have failed Nigerians and let us put it on record. The strength of any nation is not as regards for individuals but for the strength of the institutions that run the affairs of the nation,” he said.

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I met my wife and an old man in a compromising position – Divorce-seeking husband

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I met my wife and an old man in a compromising position – Divorce-seeking husband

A Grade `C’ Customary Court, Bode Igbo, Ibadan, on Tuesday adjourned the divorce suit filed by Taiwo Philip, as the wife, Bukola, urged the court to plead with her husband on her behalf.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Philip, a plank seller, allegedly accused his wife of disobedience, keeping late nights, unfaithfulness and arrogance.

According to Philip, who resides at Omi-Adio, Bukola is also fond of not caring for the well-being of their six children; the oldest being 16-years-old and the youngest, one-year-eight-months-old.

“Two years after our marriage, my wife told me she wanted to further her education of NCE, of which I didn’t refuse.

“I established a Nursery and Primary School where she served as the headmistress but in spite of all these efforts, she still turned out to be an ingrate by behaving badly at home, ‘’ he said.

Philip said he once met his wife and an old man in a compromising manner in her shop when he went in search of their second child, who ran away from home.

According to him, as I demanded explanation from my wife, some goons, called ‘Gobe’, beat me up right there and then.

“I reported the incident at the police station for my wife to produce all those involved but the matter degenerated.

“With the matter still with the police, we were directed to approach the court for divorce, ‘’ he said.

The Respondent, Bukola, said she agreed to all her husband’s allegations, except that she never had an affair with the alleged old man.

Bukola said the old man in question was the husband to the woman who introduced her to Philip and facilitated their marriage.

“I usually approach this man for advice, because my husband will not allow me to visit my family since we wedded,’’ she said.

Bukola also defended herself by saying that her husband was the violent type at home and that he was fond of driving her as a slave.

“He places curse on me at will and he is fond of keeping late nights.

“My lord, he once sent me out of the house, forcing me to sleep in the shop.

“Sir, in spite of everything, if the court can beg him, I will still be willing to settle the issue,’’ she said.

After hearing the plea of the wife, the President of the court, Chief Muraina Agbomeji, adjourned the case until Dec. 17 for possible settlement out of court.

(NAN)

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Nigeria ‘deeply grateful’ to Switzerland over return of stolen funds

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Presidency tackles British MP on doing business, corruption in Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has thanked Switzerland for returning funds stolen from Nigeria and for its support for internally displaced persons in the North-east.

According to a press release by a presidential media aide, Garba Shehu, on Tuesday, Mr Buhari made the comment when he received letters of credence from the Ambassador of Switzerland, George Steiner, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Below is the State House statement.

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

THANK YOU FOR RETURNING ILLEGALLY STOLEN FUNDS, PRESIDENT BUHARI TELLS SWISS GOVT

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja said Nigerian government remains deeply grateful to the government and people of Switzerland for their support in resuscitating the economy, especially the return of illegally stolen funds.

Receiving Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of Switzerland to Nigeria, Mr George Steiner, at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari said the return of stolen funds and interventions in the crisis in the North East further indicate the Swiss government’s commitment to the development of Nigeria.

“We are grateful to the Swiss government for allowing illegally stolen funds to be brought back to Nigeria,’’ he said.

The President noted that the facilitating roles the Swiss government had been playing in the North East, particularly in reaching out to Internally Displaced Persons, had been most helpful, adding that bilateral relations between both countries will continue to be strengthened.

Responding, the Swiss Ambassador said his government will always be disposed to supporting Nigeria in ensuring peace in the country, especially in the North East.

“We have strong and solid relations with Nigeria. It’s an honour and privilege for us to contribute to issues of importance in the country,’’ he added.

Steiner told President Buhari that the Swiss government looks forward to having stronger relations on economic issues with Nigeria that will be mutually beneficial, pointing out that the ongoing reforms in the country already send right signals to investors.

President Buhari, who also received Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of Belgium, Dr Daniel Dargent, said feasibility studies to revamp the Lake Chad Basin will require a diversion of River Ubangi in the Congo Basin.

The President said the diversion of River Ubangi will improve the livelihood of more than 40 million people who survive on Lake Chad Basin, urging the Belgian government to support the negotiation.

In his remarks, the Ambassador of Belgium said his government will support an initiative that will improve the livelihood of people.

“We are in a global world and we need to start evolving more on issues that directly touch lives, especially in supporting Nigeria which will one day become a Permanent member of the Security Council’’ he said.

While receiving his Letters of Credence, President Buhari congratulated the Ambassador of Hungary, Dr Sandor Gyorgy Beer, on his posting to Nigeria, urging him to sustain the healthy relations that had existed between both countries for many years.

The Hungarian Ambassador said relations between both countries had been strong over many years, noting that he will work towards improving it, especially on economic issues and sports.

Dr Beer said Nigeria and Hungary already had a strong pedigree in sports, especially in football, that can be improved, assuring the President that he will work towards more exchanges between both countries by setting up a football academy in Nigeria that will promote matches, trainings and skills development.

“Nigeria is a great country and it’s an honour to be here,’’ he said.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
December 11, 2018

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