The Big 5: Buhari is new ECOWAS Chairman, Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa resigns, joins PDP I More stories

These are the stories you should be monitoring today:

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday was elected as the new Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The President’s election was one of the high points of the 53rd Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS which held in Lome, the Togolese capital.

He takes over from the President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbe and would lead the regional body for the next 12 months.

Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Ahmed Ibeto, has resigned his position and defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Ibeto, who is running for the governorship of Niger in 2019, is reported to have handed over his letter of resignation at the Ministry of External Affairs on Monday and has been issued a PDP membership card at his ward in Magama Local Government Area of Niger on Tuesday.

The immediate past deputy governor of Niger was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as High Commissioner in 2017.

The swearing-in ceremony of the Imo Deputy Governor-designate, Callistus Ekenze was on Tuesday cancelled, following an interim order restraining the exercise by a state high court sitting in Owerri.

The ceremony was reported to have commenced at the Sam Mbakwe Hall of the Imo Government House in Owerri, with guests and government functionaries, including Governor Rochas Okorocha, seated, until the news was broken by the state’s Attorney General, Militus Nlemadim.

The order granted by Justice Benjamin Iheaka followed a suit instituted by the impeached deputy governor, Prince Eze Madumere on Tuesday morning challenging his impeachment by the state legislature.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has reacted to what it described as a witch-hunt against the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, opposition leaders, and voices of dissent by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) led-Federal Government.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja, accused the government of misusing the anti-graft and security agencies close to the 2019 general election.

It further warned the APC administration to desist from “highhandedness and witch-hunt of the opposition” in order not truncate the country’s democracy.

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has deployed troops and air assets to Katsina and Gusau, in support of anti-armed banditry operations in the North-West, code-named Operation Diran Mikiya.

Director of Public Relations and Information, Olatokunbo Adesanya, who disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, said the deployment of air assets was in compliance with the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The operation, which was being conducted in close coordination with other security agencies, would be executed with precision and high intensity to quickly degrade the armed bandits and pave way for the return of normalcy in the affected areas, ” he said.

And stories from around the world:

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party won the majority of seats in parliament after sweeping rural constituencies by huge margins, official results showed on Wednesday, setting the stage for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory. (Reuters)

Senior Iranian officials and military commanders on Tuesday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer of talks without preconditions as worthless and “a dream”, saying his words contradicted his action of reimposing sanctions on Tehran. (Reuters)

A plane has crashed in the capital of Mexico’s Durango state, television images show, with the state governor confirming nobody was killed among the 101 aboard, although around 85 were injured. (BBC)

The co-founder of Cambodia’s disbanded opposition has decried the landslide victory of Hun Sen’s ruling party in an uncontested poll as a “terrible setback”, urging a campaign of non-cooperation with the next government. (AFP)

South Africa will push ahead with plans to amend the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation, President Cyril Ramaphosa says. (BBC)

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