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2023: Tinubu Dares IPOB’ Sit At Home Order, Fixes Campaign Rallies In Anambra, Imo On Mondays

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…APC Condemn Arrest, Detention Of Tinubu Media Coordinator In Bayelsa

…Demands Immediate Release

The APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, will hold his campaign rallies in Imo and Anambra States on Mondays despite the controversial sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South-east region.

The timetable released by the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) shows that Mr Tinubu will hold a campaign rally and a stakeholders’ engagement in Imo State on Monday, 21 November.

On Monday, 30 January, the campaign train will move to Anambra, the home state of Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate.

IPOB declared the sit-at-home order in August 2021 to put pressure on the Nigerian government to release its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is standing trial at the Federal High Court, Abuja, for treason and terrorism.

The proscribed separatist group initially declared the holiday for Mondays but later extended it to every day Mr Kanu appears in court.

There have been reported cases of the use of force by the group to enforce compliance. Gunmen have attacked traders and commuters across the region who flout the order. However, in recent times, compliance with the order has reduced with South-east governors deploying means to take control of the situation.

The group has also vowed to disrupt all election activities in the region and has attacked electoral officers and party members.

Tinubu has yet to declare his stance on the group, unlike Mr Obi that already promised to sit down with all agitators to find peace. However, the APC candidate’s campaign team is now set to dare the separatist group.

Apart from enforcing the controversial sit-at-home, gunmen suspected to be IPOB members have also routinely carried out attacks in the South-east, killing many people and kidnapping others for ransom.

On Thursday, the Director General of the campaign council and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, said the campaign will flag off in Jos, the Plateau State capital on 15 November.

This will be followed by rallies in Delta on November 15, Imo on 21, Kwara on 22, Anambra on 24, Ogun on 26, Enugu on 29 and Sokoto on 30 November.

The APC will hold two rallies in Lagos and Kano State. In Lagos, rallies will be held on 3 December and 13 February.

And for Kano, 4 January and 11 February.

While the Rivers State rally is scheduled for 1 December, the timetable says Mr Tinubu will spend the second week of December on “international engagement.”

The Osun State rally is scheduled for 24 January. And for Abuja, there will be a rally and musical concert on 8 February.

The Lagos State rally on 13 February will mark the end of the presidential campaign activities for the party and the last ten days before the election will be spent on “election planning.”

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has called for the immediate release of its Publicity Secretary in Kolokuma/Opokuma L.G.A of Bayelsa State, Ebikpoemi Ebikibina Ugo, from police custody.

Ugo, who is the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT) Media Centre Co-ordinator in Bayelsa State, was allegedly arrested on the order of Governor Douye Diri, by operatives of the Bayelsa State Police Command on 18th of October, 2022, over a Facebook Post.

He was subsequently arraigned before a court and remanded in Prison for “Defamation of Character” and “Conduct Likely to Cause Breach of Peace.”

The party in a statement issued on Friday, by the Director of Public Affairs and Chief Spokesperson,

Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, urged the Bayelsa State government to withdraw the Charges.

The statement read: “We are extremely disturbed by the actions of Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State in respect of the arrest, charge and remand in prison custody of the APC Publicity Secretary of Kolokuma/Opokuma L.G.A of Bayelsa State, Mr Ebikpoemi Ebikibina Ugo. Incidentally, this gentleman is also the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT) Media Centre Co-ordinator, Bayelsa State.

“We have been reliably informed that following a complaint by Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa State to the Police, Mr Ugo was arrested by the Bayelsa State Police Command on the 18th of October, 2022, for making two Facebook posts as follows:

(a)“What about the N150m the Federal Government sent to the State?

(b)“Shameful broadcast and you still have mind begging Muhammadu Buhari for more money when the one he brought was pocketed.”

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‘Stop Threatening Nigeria With Break Up’, Shehu Sani Warns Adebanjo

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Ahead of the 2023 election, former Kaduna Central Senator, Shehu Sani, on Thursday criticised the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, for threatening Nigeria with separation if his preferred candidate, Peter Obi, is not voted as the nation’s next president.

According to Sani, it “is unbecoming” of the elder statesman.

The respected elder statesman Chief Ayo Adebanjo has the right to market his preferred Presidential candidate;but threatening us on the breakup of our country if his candidate is not voted is unbecoming of him.I also don’t think even his candidate will subscribe to this.

— Senator Shehu Sani (@ShehuSani) February 9, 2023

“The respected elder statesman Chief Ayo Adebanjo has the right to market his preferred Presidential candidate; but threatening us on the breakup of our country if his candidate is not voted is unbecoming of him.

“I also don’t think even his candidate will subscribe to this,” Sani said via a tweet on his verified handle.

This newspaper reports that Adebanjo on Wednesday warned there would be no Nigeria if Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, is not voted into power on February 25.

Speaking at the celebration of the life and times of late President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof. George Obiozor, the Yoruba leader said voting Obi remained the best option for Nigeria as its candidature was just, fair and equitable and in respect of the agreement that binds the country.

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One Killed In Multiple Accidents On Kara Bridge, Motorists Groan In Gridlock

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About seven vehicles including a container-laden truck were involved in the multiple accidents that have paralysed movement and left motorists and travellers on the ever-busy road stranded in nerve-racking gridlock.

Already, first responders including officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) have arrived the scene.

The FRSC Sector Commander in Ogun State, Ahmed Umar, told Channels Television that a traffic hawker was killed in the unfortunate accidents, adding that emergency responders are still rescuing those injured.

Umar attributed the cause of the accidents to brakes failure by the truck whose driver rammed into the vehicles in front of him from behind.

Similarly, a spokesperson for LASEMA told our correspondent that rescue efforts are ongoing at the scene of the accidents.

The situation, coupled with the repair works ongoing on the narrowed road, has caused intense traffic along the axis with scores of motorists struggling to find their way out of Lagos.

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Naira Hoarding: Sterling Bank In Fresh Trouble, Faults ICPC’s Arrest Of 2 Staff

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Few days after Sterling Bank defended allegation of hoarding new N200 notes in the vault of  its Ekiti  branch office, the bank on the evening of Tuesday February 8, 2023, faced similar ‘charges’ at its Abuja regional office and other Federal Capital Territory branches.

Sterling Bank, in a communication, admitted that ICPC invited two of its staff for questioning in respect of the naira hoarding allegation.

The new allegation, this time coming from the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), hinted of the bank deliberately withholding new naira notes from customers, two days away from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN)  February 10 deadline for return of old notes.

ICPC had, on Tuesday evening, tweeted  that it discovered millions of new naira notes in Sterling Bank’s Abuja offices, an allegation the bank denied in a statement.

Sterling Bank Respond ICPC’s Allegations

But the bank in a carefully crafted response to the naira hoarding allegation early Wednesday evening, said it complied with all complied with all guidelines on distribution of redesigned notes from inception to date.

What the bank is saying:

OUR ABUJA REGIONAL OFFICE

This report is developed for the purpose of providing the true representation of events to the narrative as expressed by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) in a tweet late on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

Background

  1.  A regulatory monitoring team visited our Abuja Central Business District (CBD) Complex on February 3, 2023.
  2. The monitoring team, in the company of the branch service manager and other staff, inspected and observed the following꞉
  3. The branch’s ATMs were dispensing all denominations of the newly designed notes.
  4. The branch was in full compliance with the regulator’s recommendations on Over ‑ The‑Counter (OTC) disbursements.
READ ALSO  Sterling Bank Wins Best Employer Award For Fifth Time

During the inspection, the monitoring team made inquiries about the details of the cash observed in the vaults. To which the team responded with details of the branch’s ATM and OTC cash disbursement processes.

To our knowledge, all responses provided were satisfactory as no further queries were raised.

The monitoring team promptly left the premises upon concluding the inspection.

  1.  Approximately  one  hour  later,  officials  of  the  Independent  Corrupt  Practices Commission (ICPC), accompanied by the monitoring team, returned to the branch and removed two of the branch’s staff for further questioning at the ICPC headquarters in Abuja.
  2.  The Sterling staff were held at the  ICPC office and were later released withoutany charges levied against them by the close of the business day on February 3, 2023.

About the visit to Sterling Bank, CBD, Abuja

  1.  The Sterling branch at the Central Business District, Abuja, is a regional headquartersand serves as a hub for 5 Sterling branches and 15 ATM terminals within the region.
  2.  During the visit, members of the monitoring team inspected the vault of the branchand observed the sum of N258,000,000 in N1000, N500 and N200 denominations.
  3. The distribution records from the CBD branch to other locations served within the region were presented for the evaluation of the monitoring team.
  4. The  monitoring team  proceeded to visit two  branches  in  Utako and Wuye as  both locations receive their cash disbursements from the regional headquarters ofSterling in CBD.
  5.  Upon their visits to the Utako and Wuye branches, the monitoring team reviewed the records submitted for the movement of cash from the CBD branch to other branches served within the region.  It is important to state that cash was being paid over the counter at  both  branches,  and  the  ATM  terminals  were  dispensing  the  newly  designed denominations during the monitoring exercise.

Matters Arising

Sterling deems it necessary to point out the following꞉

  1.  Members of the regulatory monitoring team were informed of the sums contained in the branch’s vault prior to the inspection. These sums were confirmed with are view of the records as presented by representatives of the Bank.

The assertion of a “discovery”, as presented in the narrative, is inaccurate and grossly misleading.

  1. All cash observed in the vault of the CBD branch was earmarked for distribution to other branches in the region for disbursement to customers of the bank and the public.
  2. The sum of N5,000,000 each as contained in the monitoring team’s report,represents the cash moved to augment the vault balances of the Utako, Wuye, Seda Close and Kotangora branches (in line with the bank’s daily routine of cash management) and also for disbursement to the public via their ATM terminals.
  3. All balances in our vaults are reported daily to the Central Bank of Nigeria and form the basis for the allocation of new notes in an efficient manner; it is therefore,untrue that such monies are ‘stashed’ or ‘hoarded.’

Sterling’s Distribution of New Notes

From the commencement of the distribution of the re‑designed denominations, the CBD branch has received the total sum of N1,543,000,000 from the apex bankand paid to customers as summarized below꞉

  1.  The  sum  of  N892,700,000  paid  out  in  about  104,821 transactions  across  15ATM terminals between January 6 to February 6, 2023.
  2. The sum of N78,600,000 paid out in approximately 3,892 over‑the‑counter transactions across all 6 branches in the Abuja region between February 2, 2023 to February 6, 2023.

This was commenced upon receipt of the directive from the regulator to disburse the new notes over the counter ‑ subject to a limit of N20,000 per transaction.

  1. The sum of N1,000,000,000 in a combination of old and new notes, wasdisbursed to customers over the counter in about 2,124 transactions betweenDecember 15, 2022 and January 5, 2023.

The current balances across the 6 branches in Abuja as at the close of business on February 7, 2023 stood at N178,670,000.

The average vault balances currently held in the six locations is N30m per branch; well below our historical vault balances.

Conclusions

  1. The  representatives of the  bank duly  informed the  regulatory  monitoring team and officials  of  the  ICPC  of  the  sums  in  the vault,  stating  the  purpose  as  intended  for distribution to other branches.
  2. It must be noted that no cash was “stashed” in the vault of the regional office.

For emphasis, we wish to state that Sterling Bank has complied with all the guidelines on the distribution of redesigned notes from inception to date,” the bank said regarding the naira hoarding allegation.

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