National Assembly Approves Buhari’s $800m Loan Request; Inmates Crown Seun Kuti ‘General Overseer’ as He Leads Prayer Sessions | 5 Things That Should Matter Today

  • National Assembly Approves Buhari’s $800m Loan Request
  • Court Nullifies Alex Otti’s Candidature and Labour Party Candidates in Abia, Kano
  • Buhari Commissions N21bn Aso Villa Medical Centre
  • EFCC Challenges Matawalle to Provide Evidence in $2m Bribe Allegation
  • Inmates Crown Seun Kuti ‘General Overseer’ as He Leads Prayer Sessions

Across Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, these are the five top Nigerian news stories you shouldn’t miss

National Assembly Approves Buhari’s $800m Loan Request

A member of the House of Representatives Committee on Loans, Aids, and Debt Management, Abubakar Yunusa Ahmad, has confirmed that the federal lawmakers have granted approval for President Muhammadu Buhari’s $800 million loan request. However, Ahmad expressed his belief that the loan would not be utilized by the current administration, as he anticipated that the incoming government would adopt a different approach.

Ahmad made these remarks during an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday. He revealed that the loan committee had advised the government to leave the decision to the incoming administration. Nonetheless, since the loan has been approved, it can be accepted and utilized according to the future government’s discretion.

Notably, speculations have arisen suggesting that the incoming government might opt for a different course of action, as there have been discussions on social media indicating a possible intention to exclude President Buhari’s ministers due to perceived underperformance. While the loan has been granted, Ahmad emphasized that it would not be utilized by the outgoing government. He expressed curiosity about the approach the incoming government would adopt.

Earlier, President Buhari had submitted a letter to the Senate, seeking approval to secure an $800 million loan from the World Bank to alleviate the impact of subsidy removal. This loan was part of the Federal Government’s subsidy palliative measures, aiming to support 10 million households or approximately 50 million vulnerable Nigerians.

However, the loan request has faced opposition, particularly from civil society organizations. The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) criticized the Buhari administration’s alleged lackadaisical attitude towards the nation’s debilitating debt crisis in a recent statement. Similarly, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) called on World Bank President Mr. David Malpass to suspend the disbursement of the $800 million loan and request satisfactory explanations from the incoming administration regarding its utilization.

SERAP urged Mr. Malpass and the World Bank to reopen discussions with the incoming government, aiming to clarify the details, rationale, and purpose of the loan. Considering that President Buhari’s tenure concludes in May 2023, SERAP emphasized the need for further transparency and accountability regarding the loan agreement.

Court Nullifies Alex Otti’s Candidature and Labour Party Candidates in Abia, Kano

In a recent ruling, Justice M.N. Yunusa of the Federal High Court in Kano nullified the candidature of the Abia State Governor-elect, Dr. Alex Otti, and all candidates of the Labour Party in Abia and Kano States. The court determined that their emergence as candidates did not comply with the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act.

The judgment stated that the Labour Party failed to submit its membership register to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) within 30 days before their primaries, rendering the entire process invalid.

The Judge ruled, “A party that has not complied with the provisions of the electoral act cannot be said to have a candidate in an election and cannot be declared the winner of an election. Therefore, the votes credited to the 1st defendant [Labour Party] are wasted votes.”

Earlier reports had indicated that the Labour Party accused a breakaway group led by acting National Chairman Lamidi Apapa of seeking to nullify the party’s recent electoral victories through a court in Kano State. The acting National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Obiora Ifoh, alleged that the suspended National Legal Adviser, Samuel Akingbade Oyelekan, colluded with members of other political parties to ask the court to invalidate all the elections won by the Labour Party, claiming non-submission of the register of voters to INEC.

Ifoh further emphasized that Akingbade and the loyalists of Apapa no longer represented the party. He called on the judiciary, and law enforcement agencies, including the police and the Department of State Services (DSS), to take note of this development.

Buhari Commissions N21bn Aso Villa Medical Centre

On Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the commissioning of the N21 billion presidential wing of the State House Medical Centre in Abuja. This state-of-the-art facility is specifically designed to provide specialized intensive care for the President, Vice President, their immediate families, and other high-profile individuals.

Accompanied by his wife, Aisha Buhari, as well as other senior government officials, President Buhari marked the occasion by officially opening the medical center.

The newly commissioned medical center is equipped with modern facilities and advanced medical technologies to provide exceptional healthcare services. With a focus on intensive care, the center is capable of handling critical medical situations, offering prompt and specialized medical attention to the President, Vice President, and their families.

See photos from the commissioning below.

EFCC Challenges Matawalle to Provide Evidence in $2m Bribe Allegation

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has called on Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State to provide concrete evidence to support his claim that the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, demanded a $2 million bribe from him. The governor had made the allegation in an interview with BBC Hausa.

In response to Matawalle’s accusation, the EFCC stated that if the governor wants to be taken seriously, he should go beyond making allegations and provide substantial evidence to substantiate his claims. The commission further emphasized that it will not engage in a mudslinging match with a suspect currently under investigation for corruption and misappropriation of his state’s resources.

Meanwhile, the EFCC revealed that it is investigating Governor Matawalle for allegedly diverting N70 billion meant for contracts in Zamfara State.

The commission also alerted the public to plans by some politically exposed individuals involved in alleged corruption to flee the country ahead of May 29. The EFCC, in collaboration with international partners, is working to thwart these escape plans and bring the culprits to justice.

Inmates Crown Seun Kuti ‘General Overseer’ as He Leads Prayer Sessions

Seun Kuti, the renowned Afrobeat singer and son of the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, has been remanded at the State Criminal, Investigations and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba, Lagos. This comes after he was accused of assaulting a police officer and subsequently arrested by the Inspector-General of Police. While in custody, Seun has been given the title of ‘General Overseer’ by the inmates at the SCIID cell, and he was presented with a copy of the Holy Bible as a symbol of his office. However, the inmates initially rejected his appointment, leading to a brief commotion.

According to reports, Seun Kuti allegedly slapped a police officer on the Third Mainland Bridge on May 13, which led to his arrest and subsequent arraignment at the Sabo, Yaba Chief Magistrate Court. Following preliminary interrogations, he was placed in the cell with other suspects. However, upon his entry, the inmates expressed their disapproval by banging on their metal protective door and demanding his removal.

To resolve the situation, Seun reportedly negotiated with the inmates and offered them ₦25,000 (Nigerian Naira) as a gesture of peace. He requested the money from his wife, who promptly brought it to the police station. After receiving the payment, the inmates accepted him and provided him with a space to sit down.

It was further revealed that Seun was deeply angered by the incident and went on a hunger strike, refusing to eat the food provided, including the meals brought by his wife. However, after about a day and a half, he eventually resumed eating.

In a surprising turn of events, the inmates crowned Seun Kuti as the ‘General Overseer’ of the cell and presented him with a Bible. This means that he now leads prayer sessions for the inmates whenever necessary, and they refer to him as “GO.”

Visitors to the SCIID, including Seun’s elder brother Femi, other family members, lawyers, and friends, have reportedly come to see and support him during his time in custody.

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