The Big 5: ACF says Nigeria cannot survive without the North, Cambridge Analytica suspends CEO after data scandal and other top stories

These are the top five stories you should be monitoring today.

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has declared that the nation cannot survive without the North.

ACF Chairman Ibrahim Coomassie stated this when the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Forum received leaders of the foremost northern women socio-cultural organisation, Jam’iyya Matan Arewa (JMA), in Kaduna.

Mr Coomassie said: “We all know that without the North, Nigeria can never survive. We still stand by it. But now is the time to walk the talk in the interest of our people.

Chibok girls are still missing. Now it has gone to Dapchi in Yobe State. What happened? Are we always going to be the victims? Boko Haram; see what they did to the Northeast. They have spread over to the Northcentral and even to the southern part of the country.

Should we continue to be regarded in the negative side? No. We are leaders in our own right and we must exercise this responsibility for our people”.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo Tuesday warned new board members against corrupt practices in their assignments.

Speaking through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, while inaugurating boards of agencies under his office supervision, Osinbajo said, “let me at this point reiterate the determination of this administration to succeed in the fight against corruption. In carrying out your responsibility as Board Members, you must, therefore, eschew corruption totally as Government will not hesitate to sanction all infractions.”

The Defence Headquarters and Inspector General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris said Tuesday that no security force was informed of Dapchi schoolgirls abduction as alleged by Amnesty International (AI) in its latest report.

In its report, Amnesty International had accused Nigeria’s security agencies of ignoring information on the presence of a large number of the insurgents in the area shortly before the abduction but failed to act on the tips.

But, besides dismissing the report as a “calculated attempt to whip up sentiments” against the military, the Defence Headquarters said AI was doing everything possible within its power to frustrate the United States (U.S.)/Nigeria Anti -Terrorism cooperation backed by US President Donald Trump.

The presidency has finally admitted that some government agencies are yet to submit required details to lawmakers before the 2018 budget is passed.

In the memo, dated March 19, the SGF said, “It has come to the attention of Government that a number of Agencies, Corporations and Government owned Companies have not fully complied with the provisions of Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007.”

Agencies are reminded that the FRA 2007 provides that consequent upon laying of summary of budget estimates of Agencies listed in the schedule to the FRA alongside the National Budget by Mr. President, it is required that details of such budgets are made available to the National Assembly for consideration and passage. This position was reiterated in the attached publication in the Nation Newspaper of Wednesday, February 7, 2018, by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (SSAP) on National Assembly Matters (Senate).

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved that negotiation should be carried out for $15 billion loan for the completion of work on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, made this known when he briefed State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

According to him, the president has also given the approval for negotiations of funds for the execution of Lagos to Calabar rail project to ensure its speedy completion.

And stories from around the world…

Cambridge Analytica, the firm involved in a row over its use of Facebook data, has suspended its CEO  Alexander Nix.

The chief executive’s comments, secretly recorded by Channel 4 News, “do not represent the values or operations of the firm,” it said.

The report on Tuesday featured undercover footage of Nix claiming he met Trump “many times” and that the company was responsible for a wide swath of the Trump campaign’s activity.

We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting,” Nix said. “We ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy.”

A Fox News analyst, Ralph Peters, sharply criticised the network on Tuesday, denouncing the outlet as a “propaganda machine” devoted to President Trump, and saying that it was “wittingly harming our system of government for profit,” in a stunning internal email announcing his exit from the company.

In a letter confirmed by CNN, the US Army lieutenant colonel who served as a military analyst for Fox News said that he believed Fox News “degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices” to morphing into a “mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”

At least 35 people were killed and scores wounded Tuesday, when a rocket struck a busy marketplace in a southeastern suburb of the Syrian capital, state-run news agency SANA reported.

A police source told SANA the rocket landed in Kashkul market in the outskirts of Jaramana city, part of greater Damascus.

The suburb, home to a largely Christian and Druze population, is under government control. It has repeatedly come under fire by rebel forces in nearby Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian army said.

The Tongan government has banned schoolgirls from playing rugby or boxing because the sports are deemed undignified and not in keeping with the island’s traditional culture.

The letter from the ministry of education has caused outrage among many Tongans, who say the directive is outdated and sexist.

The exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said he has decided not to employ personal security guards in London despite the rising unease among the Russian diaspora, because he recognises that if President Putin wants him dead “no amount of security measures can prevent that”.

He believes that the targeting of Sergei Skripal was a clear case of security agency retribution towards a defector, and said it had little bearing on the safety or otherwise of political and economic exiles in the UK. He said he was convinced that the death of the former Aeroflot executive Nikolai Glushkov was unconnected to the poisoning in Salisbury.

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