The Big 5: Oil Marketers proceed on strike over subsidy claims; NBA reacts to charges against its President by the EFCC | Other top stories

These are the stories you should be monitoring today:

The Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) has directed its members to shut down all loading operations by midnight, noting that oil marketers have disengaged their staff due to inability to pay salaries.

DAPPMAN Executive Secretary, Olufemi Adewole, who issued the directive on behalf of the union in a statement released on Sunday, said  “the Association took a bold step to stop the financial hemorrhaging of its members by the painful disengagement of its loyal workers after over 3 years of engaging with the Federal Government in the efforts to secure the payment of all subsidy induced debt owed marketers.

The association had earlier denied reaching an agreement with the government because the Ministry of Finance failed to agree to demands that the claims should be paid in cash instead of using promissory notes.

President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, on Sunday said  he is innocent of the N1.4 billion money laundering charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and called called for a legislation that would prohibit media trial of persons in court.

Speaking to reporters after the NBA National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja, Usoro said the funds he received from Udom and the Akwa Ibom State Government were professional fees, stressing that he will not resign based on the charges, adding that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NBA which could decide whether to remove him from office or not, during its meeting held on December 6, adopted his explanation on the allegations.

“I will be in court on Monday, I haven’t been served. I expect I will be served but the facts as I know it, I am completely innocent and the facts as I know it, I presented it in the address that was adopted by NEC,” he said.

In same vein, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said that the EFCC lacks the powers to meddle in client and lawyer contractual relationship, stressing that the EFCC appeared to be straining hard to criminalise the fees that were earned by lawyers for their legitimate work.

As contained in a communique issued on Sunday at the end of its NEC meeting in Abuja, Usoro was investigated by the EFCC based on a bank’s N300 million inflow into his law firm’s account on March 14, 2016, which it said was payment by Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom in respect of an Election Petition Appeal that was determined by the Supreme Court, for which Usoro served as the coordinating counsel.

“As we all know, non-parties to a contract are complete strangers thereto and lack the locus standi to question and/or determine the propriety of such contract(s). The EFCC stands in that position in this and other matters of this nature; it lacks the locus standi to question the basis for the fees,” the communique read.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Sunday, described the vice-presidential slot given to the Igbo by the PDP to the South East as a “mere spare tyre that might be used for over six years,” as he said the South-East’s shortest route to the presidency is to work for President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection, Punch reports.

Ngige who stated this while speaking with reporters in Obosi, Anambra said “If Igbo refuse to play their cards right in next year’s general elections, the South-West will take away the chance from them,“ stressing that President Buhari if re-elected can only do one term and return home, and an Igbo man will replace him, but leaving the shortest route to take a gamble would mean that the Igbos “are on their own.”

“My good friend Babatunde Fashola has blown the whistle. What he said should be a warning signal to the Igbo,  because you can’t stop the South-West from producing the next president of the country after supporting Buhari and the APC government.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) says the intimidation of its Vice Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, and a former presidential aide, Doyin Okupe, by agents of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government would not save President Muhammadu Buhari and the party from being defeated in the 2019 elections.

Party spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, who stated this in a telephone interview with Punch on Sunday, accused government agents of deliberately targeting those who are expected to play strategic roles for it ahead of the elections, noting that the spate of harassment and intimidation of its members by the Presidency worries the party and Nigerians are aware of it.

“This is becoming unbecoming and Nigerians should rise up against it. It is building up daily and we are not comfortable with it. One thing is sure: Nigerians are hungry and are suffering under this government. “We will vote out the ruling party in 2019. We will vote out hunger and sufferings from the land next year. They can’t stop us,” he said.

And stories from around the world:

President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation on the “yellow vest” crisis Monday and meet trade unionists and business leaders in search of a way to end the protests that have rocked France. (AFP)

Armenia’s acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has won a convincing victory in Sunday’s snap parliamentary election, consolidating his authority.

His bloc won more than 70% of the vote, the country’s election commission said. (BBC)

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Sunday ruled out the extradition of suspects in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after Istanbul’s chief prosecutor filed warrants for the arrest of two former senior Saudi officials. (Reuters)

Similarly, the fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has called for the perpetrators of the murder to be identified and put on trial.

In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera that aired on Monday, Hatice Cengiz said she will keep fighting to ensure everyone responsible for his murder is brought to justice. (Al Jazeera)

A top executive of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] argued that she should be let out on bail while awaiting an extradition hearing due to severe hypertension and fears for her health while incarcerated in Canada, court documents released on Sunday showed. (Reuters)

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