The Big 5: Saraki meets Babaginda in Minna behind closed doors, Govs Forum condemns freezing of Benue accounts by EFCC | More stories

These are the stories you should be monitoring today:

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki on Wednesday held a private meeting with former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida at his hilltop mansion in Minna, Niger.

Saraki, widely believed to have met the former head of state to consult him on his yet to be declared presidential ambition, however tweeted using his official Twitter account: “Dropped in to pay my respects to General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. Always happy to be with a father and leader.”

The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) has described as unconstitutional the freezing of the accounts of Benue Government by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday.

Chairman of  the forum, Gov. Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, disclosed this while speaking with State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday in Abuja, stressing that by the security situation in Benue, it was unwise to dislocate the state financially.

If EFCC freezes the accounts of any state government, Benue or anywhere else, I think it is unconstitutional, it is not right, because you are shutting down government. Government must spend, more especially Benue where there are issues of insecurity,” he added.

The Leadership of the Senate, led by its President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday, met with the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the budget for 2019 elections.

At the end of the meeting, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu revealed that the main issue discussed, was how to speedily pass the INEC Budget as he added: “We have been assured of speedy passage of the budget perhaps as early as next week.”

Minority Whip of the Senate, Senator Phillip Aduda who confirmed the development, said the Senate through its President had already agreed to reconvene if the need arises to consider the INEC Budget.

“If need be, we will resume to consider the virement request and we are agreeing we will fix a date to discuss this budget and ensure passage,” he said.

Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday met with the acting Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Matthew Seiyefa; and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.

The meeting held shortly after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting took place inside Osinbajo’s office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Both Seiyefa and Magu did not speak with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday approved N12.104 billion for ecological projects in 12 states across the country and World Bank’s $150 million credit facility in support of polio eradication in 12 states of the country slightly behind in the fight against polio.

Presidential Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents after the weekly FEC meeting, presided over by Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja,

Adesina said FEC approved N12.104 billion for ecological projects in 12 states of Anambra, Lagos, Oyo, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

And stories from around the world:

Argentina’s senate has rejected a bill which would have legalised abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

After a marathon debate, 38 senators voted against it and 31 in favour. Its defeat means lawmakers must wait until next year to resubmit legislation. (BBC)

Washington said on Wednesday it would impose fresh sanctions on Russia by the end of August after it determined that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in Britain. (Reuters)

A super-legislative body loyal to President Nicolas Maduro revoked the immunity of two Venezuelan opposition lawmakers Wednesday, in order to put them on trial for allegedly masterminding a drone “assassination” bid on the leader. (AFP)

At least three Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old child, were killed by Israeli air attacks and artillery shelling on the besieged Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian health ministry. (Aljazeera)

Three of the young soccer players who were trapped in a cave in northern Thailand for almost three weeks were granted Thai citizenship on Wednesday.

Their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, 25, who was trapped in the cave with them throughout their ordeal also gained citizenship. (The Guardian)

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