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Just In: 2023: We Won’t Support Tinubu’s Ambition -Ambode Campaign Organisation

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…Says Group Will Challenge Sanwo-Olu At The Primary

By Unoigbokhai Adamu

The Ambode Campaign Organisation (AMCO), the political structure of former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, came out strongly on Saturday against the presidential ambition of the All Progressive Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, saying the party should reflect the wishes of the people.

Speaking through its coordinator and former Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources in the state, Mr. Olawale Oluwo, who was a guest in a City FM programme monitored in Lagos, the group said it’s interested in the next election and will fully participate in all the elections. He added that the group is ready to challenge the dominant political force in the state and restore power back to the people.

“The APC in Lagos State must be guided by its constitution and guidelines. As far as we know the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) is like an NGO and it’s not known to the constitution. The GAC can make recommendations but cannot control the party. It can sponsor candidates the same way AMCO can sponsor candidates. Governor Sanwo-Olu has picked his form and the AMCO candidate will also pick his form.



“AMCO will participate in all the elections. Ambode will not contest the governorship election; we would pick our candidate for the governorship primary. We will pick our candidate and we will go to the field. It’s not sustainable for a set of people to continue to decide who gets what in this state. We want to work with like minds. That change that was frustrated in 2019 made me leave the party, but things have changed with the new leadership in the party at the national level.

Oluwo said that with the emergence of the new National Chairman the group is confident that there will be fairness and justice, adding that AMCO members are ready to operate in a free and fair environment.



Asked if his boss (Ambode) will support the presidential ambition of Tinubu, Oluwo came out with emphatic no, saying that the former Lagos governor was not the group’s favourite candidate. He however said it was within the right of the Vice President and the National Leader to vie for the presidency.



“It’s within the right of Osinbajo and Tinubu to join the presidential race, but AMCO believes that the state is not owned by any of the candidates. It’s owned by the people. Bola Tinubu is not our favourite candidate.



“On the suitability of Governor Sanwo-Olu for second term, we sent our people to the field in the last four months to feel the pulse of Lagosians. The data we got from the field seems to suggest that he has not done well. You cannot compare our administration with that of Sanwo-Olu. Yes, he completed some projects of Ambode and he neglected some.



“AMCO is approaching politics from a completely different perspective. We have structures across the 20 local government Areas in the state. Our approach is not that of a godfather; our philosophy and approach is very clear. We want people to play an active part in the politics of the state. Our members have been collecting election forms but they are not making noise about it. But people will begin to know them by next week”.



Oluwo further said that it was not in the plans of the group to join the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to fight the ruling APC in the state, saying that they did not want to challenge the status quo from outside. “We want to challenge them from inside. If they want to cooperate we will cooperate with them, but if they refuse then let us go to the field. We are ready for a coalition, a broad coalition to defeat the status quo. If the people want change, AMCO is ready to lead that change”.

Oluwo also spoke about the silence of his boss since he was denied a second term by the same powers that be. He said Ambode’s silence was strategic, adding that he was silently building his structure to make it formidable in the state. He said the ministerial appointment that he was denied did not in any way make him to be elusive and that his staying away from public glare was a deliberate strategy.



“Ambode has not been silent. He has been strategically and tactically building his structure. Ministerial appointment is not a condition to do so. Yes, Ambode benefited from godfatherism, but the people of Lagos state say enough is enough. Why must we continue with it”, said Oluwo.

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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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MC Oluomo: Remove Lagos REC, Now, Atiku Tells INEC

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The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos, Olusegun Agbaje, for his partisanship and compromise.

In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, said it was curious that Agbaje had insisted on using the Lagos State Park and Garage Management Committee led by transport kingpin, Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council.

Shaibu described as watery Agbaje’s excuse that INEC would not be able to use the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) because they had been barred in Lagos State.

He stated, “The law is clear that only a court has the power to proscribe an organisation. That was why the Federal Government had to go to court to proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).

“What Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu did in Lagos State was to arbitrarily announce a ban on the activities of the NURTW because the organisation suspended MC Oluomo, the APC’s henchman. INEC must not promote illegality by working with a partisan organisation which is filled with APC members that are working for Bola Tinubu.

“How could such people be given sensitive materials to be distributed across Lagos on election day? This has already undermined the possibility of a free and fair election. INEC must sanction Mr. Agbaje for insisting on using MC Oluomo’s committee despite protests from members of the public.”

Shaibu recalled that Agbaje was the REC who superintended over the fraudulent 2018 governorship election rerun in Osun State which even the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union discredited.

He added, “Recall that it was Mr. Agbaje who superintended over the fraudulent and violent Osun governorship rerun which produced Gboyega Oyetola as governor. US Consul General, John Bray was spot on when he stated, ‘We witnessed what appeared to be incidents of interference and intimidation of voters and heard reports of harassment or party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.”

Shaibu noted that even election monitoring groups like the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) dismissed the Osun rerun as “fraudulent and anti-democratic”.

He added, “Unfortunately, it is the same Agbaje, who could not effectively supervise a rerun in a few polling units that has been given the task of superintending the election in Nigeria’s largest state with over seven million registered voters. The election is doomed to fail if INEC doesn’t do the right thing by removing him.

“We remind the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, that this will be his last general election before the end of his tenure. We ask him to protect his legacy by removing Mr. Segun Agbaje if he insists that MC Oluomo must be the one to handle sensitive INEC materials. This election must not only be fair but it must be seen to be fair as well.”

Shaibu noted that as of Wednesday morning, over 17,000 Nigerians had signed a petition on Change.Org titled, ‘Remove Olusegun Agbaje as the Lagos INEC Commissioner for Incompetence and Bigotry’.

Agbaje has been under fire for the last one week following his comments over the inability of a large number of non-indigenes in Lagos to vote. While explaining the development on Channels Television, Agbaje, who was visibly disgusted, stated that people of the southeast migrated to Lagos and engaged in double registration hence their inability to get their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC).

Responding to the development, Shaibu stated, “It is disheartening that the Lagos REC, Mr Segun Agbaje, has begun to show open partisanship. We find it curious that it is the local governments considered as opposition strongholds that were unable to get their PVCs.

He stated, “Historians and analysts have described this 2023 general election as a watershed. The destiny of over 200 million people is at stake. INEC says it is ready to deliver a credible and free election but one weak link in the chain of command can undermine the entire process.

“We call on Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu to remove the Lagos REC, Mr. Agbaje, as his credibility is seriously in doubt. Again, we call on INEC not to use the MC Oluomo-led partisan organisation to distribute ballot papers on election day.”

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