The Big 5: Endorse Buhari now and 2023 Presidency is yours – SGF tells South East; Saraki wants judicial inquiry to investigate death of Offa robbery suspect | Other top stories

These are the stories you should be monitoring today:

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Governors of the South East geopolitical zone on Wednesday held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi who spoke with journalists after the meeting, said the visit of the leaders was to show appreciation for some of the projects being handled by the Federal Government in the region, especially the contract of the second Niger Bridge and to request for more funds to speed up the completion of the projects.

“We came on behalf of the South East to thank Mr President for the award of the second Niger bridge to Julius Berger in the sum of N206 billion and we understand that N7 billion is being paid as mobilisation so we came to ask Mr President to see if there is a possibility of paying Berger 50% of the sum and secure the other 50% so that we can sleep with our two eyes closed being assured that the job will not be abandoned,” he explained.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, has again said that the quickest and easiest means to the presidency for the people of the South East is to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term bid. 

The SGF who disclosed this at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday, shortly after the President met with the some South East leaders said “whatever they do in 2019 will determine what will happen thereafter, because politics is a game of numbers and it is like a cooperative society,” stressing that the Buhari administration has corrected the impression that the federal government was not doing anything for the people of the zone.

You can’t negotiate from the point of weakness and I believe that that message resonated with the people and their response now is attributable to the fact that even before the flag-off of the campaigns, we have laid it bare on the table for Southeastern states to consider the prospect of working with us to ensure that at least by the time President Buhari finishes his second tenure, they can make a shot at the presidency depending on what they bring to the table,” he added.

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has asked the Presidency to institute a judicial inquiry into the death of the principal suspect in the April 5 Offa bank robbery, Michael Adikwu, noting that the inquiry should be constituted to determine “how and when the suspect died.”

In a statement by his media aide, Saraki noted that the Police disclosure vindicated his earlier claim that the investigation into the Offa robbery was politically motivated and targeted at implicating him and other individuals, as he urged the inquiry to confirm why it took the police so long to disclose the death of the principal suspect, after they denied it at the time he disclosed the information and it was reported in the media.

“The Police initially told the Attorney-General of Kwara that the principal suspect was alive and they only later reluctantly disclosed that he died in the course of arrest. How can a suspect confirmed to be in custody now be said to have died in the course of arrest? This contradiction shows a deliberate attempt to cover up something,” Saraki added.

National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole on Wednesday inaugurated the party’s National Peace and Reconciliation Committees for each of the six geopolitical zones with a mandate to reconcile all aggrieved members and bring about lasting peace in the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Speaking at the inauguration in Abuja, Oshiomhole said its members were expected to help the party’s national leadership find an in-house solution to the acrimony that followed the party’s primary elections, explaining that the party had to set up the committee in the six geopolitical zones to fast track its reconciliation efforts.

Chairman of the South West National Peace and Reconciliation Committee, Governor Kashim Shettima of Bormo who spoke on behalf of the committees told the chairman: “Be rest assured that we will put in our best to ensure the reconciliation of all aggrieved party members ahead of 2019 general election.”

Meanwhile, a faction of the APC in Delta led by Chief Cyril Ogodo has reacted to a threat by the national leadership of the party to aggrieved members that they either exhaust the party’s internal mechanisms in resolving their grievances and withdraw cases against it in court or face disciplinary measures.

According to a statement issued at the end of an emergency meeting of leaders and stakeholders of the party under the aegis of Mainstream Delta APC in Ughelli on Wednesday, they condemned what they described as an attempt by Oshiomhole to compel them to withdraw court cases, stressing that no amount of intimidation and blackmail by the APC National Chairman will force stakeholders to withdraw court cases against the party.

“The NWC as presently constituted with particular reference to the situation in the Delta State APC chapter, lacks the moral right to ask party members not to continue in court whereas the first official assignment of the NWC led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was to rush to court to obtain a ‘contemptuous consent judgment’ against perceived ‘Oyegun state executives’ in Delta without exhausting internal party mechanism,” the statement read in part.

And stories from around the world:

The head of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency who the West has blamed for a string of brazen attacks died on Wednesday after “a serious and long illness,” according to the Russian defense ministry. (Reuters)

US Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts has taken the extraordinary step of rebuking President Donald Trump’s criticism of a federal judge, after Trump on Tuesday called a jurist who ruled against his asylum policy an “Obama judge.”

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them,” Chief Justice Roberts told the Associated Press.

The World Trade Organisation agreed Wednesday to hear complaints from a range of countries over new US steel and aluminium tariffs, as well as complaints from Washington over retaliatory duties. (AFP)

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has slammed reports that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would not become king over his alleged complicity on the murder of a journalist that has sparked global outrage.

“Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was an “unfortunate accident” and any discussion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible and may not take the throne is “outrageous,” he said. (Aljazeera)

Australian nationals convicted of terror offences would be stripped of their citizenship if the government believes they are entitled to apply for residency from another country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed on Thursday. (Reuters)

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