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No controversy in NAHCON over tenure renewal – Sources

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Abdullahi Mohammed, NAHCON Chairman

Reports of alleged controversy in the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has been dismissed as the handiwork of mischief makers intent on distracting the Abdullahi Mukhtar Mohammed-led leadership, sources have told this newspaper.

A section of the media (this newspaper not included) had alleged of divisions in the commission over the extension of the appointment of the Acting Chairman of the NAHCON.

Several officials, who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media, told our correspondent that staff of the commission are proud of the achievements of the present leadership and welcome the re-appointment of the acting chairman and other members of the board.

“Who will not be proud of what the chairman (acting) and his team have done here? Today the management have given us a befitting office complex valued at over N2 billion that is the Metro Plaza.

“Also, our commission has now become a financially self-sufficient agency that can fund hajj with little or no government fund, embarking on renovation/upgrades of hajj camps across the country from development levy and reforms of administration of hajj through innovative information communication technology,” one official said.

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Also, another staff of the commission said it was a milestone for the Islamic Development Bank, reputed for its financial discipline and integrity, to partner with the NAHCON in its programs.

“This speaks to the great works being carried out by Mallam Mohammed and his team. If anybody says there is controversy, it is simply mischief and it should not be so amongst the Muslim Ummah,” the staff said.

According to the staff, Saudi Arabia Hajj authorities now rate Nigeria as the third best hajj organisers in the world. “Nigeria pilgrims for the first time are being refunded for service not render or rendered unsatisfactorily. Honestly, they deserve another opportunity to complete this cycle of transformation,” he added.

Speaking directly on the issue of the reappointment, a senior staff of the commission said the current chairman was permanent commissioner and not chairman, “so no sincere person can say he had served as chairman before, therefore no eligible for second term.”

“Let me tell you this, the people selling this fake story have no idea of the Furthermore, NAHCON Establishment Act 2006, because if they do, they won’t be waving any so-called letter other than the NAHCON ACT 2006 which separates the office of chairman as a distinct office from the three permanent commissioners. Office of Chairman as the chief accounting officer is not and cannot be the same as the office of permanent commissioner.”

This newspaper looked up on the composition of the commission, and Section 3 (1) states that the commission shall consist of (A) The chairman who shall be:

  • The Chief Executives and accounting officer of the commission
  • Responsible for the commission for the day to day management of the commission

This was followed by section 3 subsection (b) which stated that “Three full-term members and six part-time members representing two geopolitical zones two who shall be women.

Another management staff of the commission expressed shock at the introduction of ethnicity into the affairs a religious body by people of the same faith.
“It is really unfortunate for anybody to attempt to attach ethnic or regional yardstick to appointments in a religious body like NAHCON that is doing well in managing the affairs of Muslims concerning Hajj.

“In case you are not aware, out of the three permanent commissioners in NAHCON, the commissioner representing the South-East and South-South in the person of Dr Sale Okenwa has left NAHCON since 2015 and the Federal government is yet to appoint someone to fill the position.

“But no one from the zones has raised the dust of ethnic tension. That office is being headed by someone from the south-west. Official issues should not be personalized because as a Muslim, we all believed that it is Almighty Allah that gave power to whom he wishes.”

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Sowore: Falana replies DSS, says DG has stopped taking his calls

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Femi Falana, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has said that though he has an official relationship with the director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, the secret police boss has stopped answering his calls over Omoyele Sowore.
Falana said this while responding to the an earlier statement of Peter Afunanya, spokesman of the DSS.

Afunanya had accused Falana of playing to the gallery rather than reaching Bichi.

In his response, Falana admitted that he he has an official relationship with the DSS DG but said Bichi has refused to speak with him since the agency refused to release Omoyele Sowore, his client who is the convener of the Revolution Now Movement, despite a court order granting him bail.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no condition is attached to the order of the federal high court for the release of both detainees. Therefore, the SSS is aggravating the felony of contempt of court by asking sureties who had been verified by the trial court to report in its office for an illegal verification,” Falana said.

“In view of the reckless insinuations of the SSS I am compelled to point out that my colleagues and I did not risk our lives for the purpose of  substituting military dictatorship for civilian autocracy. It is pertinent to point out that suspects who were presumed innocent under the defunct military junta were not exposed to the crude intimidation that has become the lot of Sowore and Bakare.

“Even when five of us were charged with treasonable felony in May 1992 we were released after we had met the bail conditions.  On that occasion, the SSS never asked our sureties to report after they had  been verified by the trial court. I demand for nothing less for my clients  under the current political dispensation which ought to be anchored on the Rule of Law.

“I confirm that I have an official relationship with the DG of SSS. But since the commencement of the case of Sowore and Bakare the DG has refused to pick my calls while I have since become a persona non grata in the office of the SSS. With respect to the baseless allegation that I am playing to the gallery by demanding for the release of my clients in line with the valid and subsisting order of a competent law court I shall take appropriate action under the law.

He asked the secret police to release Sowore and Olawale Bakare, also an activist, from “illegal custody and should stop exposing the country to unwarranted ridicule.”

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We can only release Sowore to his sureties, says DSS

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DSS DG, Bichi

The Department of State Services (DSS) says it is ready to release Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow Movement.

Sowore was arrested in Lagos on August 3 and subsequently flown to Abuja where he has been detained.

A federal high court in Abuja had granted him bail but the activist is yet to regain freedom even after fulfilling his bail conditions.

This had prompted a nationwide outrage and protest at the headquarters of the agency. There were reports of assault on the protesters on Tuesday.

But in a statement sent to The Witness on Wednesday, Peter Afunanya, spokesman of the DSS, said operatives of the agency, did not open fire on protesters but prevented those who wanted to forcefully break into the agency to release Sowore.

Read the full statement below:

The Department of State Services (DSS) wishes to state that its operatives did not open fire on alleged protesters who had stormed its facility on 12th November, 2019.

As a normal global security practice, the operatives stood in defence of their facility when some group of persons made unruly attempts to forcefully break into the place and effect the release of Omoloye SOWORE.

Despite serial and unwarranted provocations, the Service, as a professional and responsible Organisation, did not shoot at the so called protesters. It could not have done so.

For emphasis, the Service reiterates its avowed readiness to release SOWORE once the processes are concluded. It maintains that the appropriate persons have still not turned up to take delivery of SOWORE.

While all those that have so far shown up are not directly concerned with the matter and therefore unqualified, many others have either chosen to grandstand or politicise it to achieve hidden interests.

In the last few days, the Service has continued to witness deliberate campaigns of calumny, threats and aspersions against it. It will not, for any reason, join issues with its mudslingers. The media is called upon to be neutral and remain champions of the truth.

It is only appropriate that those who stood surety for SOWORE present themselves and have him released to them. It is even more disappointing that Femi FALANA, who is a senior lawyer, would wrongly guide his client and supporters. He is rather playing to the gallery and mobilizing miscreants to subvert the Service and other state authorities. He has excellent relationship with the DGSS. But in the circumstance, he has refused to reach out to him over the case like he had on previously related ones.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Service restates its commitment to the rule of law and particularly respect to the Court. It, therefore, calls for calm but states that it will not be intimidated or harassed into hasty actions.

It reassures the public that it will not waste a second to release SOWORE if the proper processes are followed. And FALANA, sure, knows what these are.

Peter Afunanya, Ph.D
Public Relations Officer,
Department of State Services,
National Headquarters,
Abuja
13th November, 2019

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APC suspends Edo gov, deputy, SSG over alleged anti-party activities

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Leaders of the All Progressives Congress APC, in Edo State have suspended the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, his deputy governor, Philip Shuaibu and the Secretary to the state Government, Osarodion Ogie for alleged anti party activities.

A chieftain of the party, Mr. Patrick Ikhariale stated this while briefing journalists in Benin City on Wednesday.

Details later.

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