The Big 5: Senator Wakili buried in Abuja, Russia expelling 23 British diplomats and other stories

These are the stories you should be monitoring today.

Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi South) yesterday slumped and died in his Gwarinpa Abuja residence.

Wakili, 58, reportedly died of suspected heart attack around 11:00 am.

He has since been buried at a Gudu District Cemetery in Abuja around 2:00 pm, after Islamic rites were performed on his remains at the National Mosque.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; the immediate past Governor of Kano, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and some political parties have been meeting as part of moves to strategise for the 2019 elections, Punch reports.

In one of such meetings, which held at Protea Hotel, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, Obasanjo was said to have met with 35 political parties under the aegis of the Coalition for New Nigeria.

Two camps – pro-governor Ayo Fayose and pro-President Muhammadu Buhari – used the N-power scheme of the federal government as a political rallying point on Saturday as beneficiaries, split and clashed.

About 3,000 beneficiaries used the accreditation exercise which held at the AB Event Center, Ado Ekiti, to show their different political leanings.

While a faction staged a rally supporting the deputy governor of Ekiti, Kolapo Olusola, who is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the July 14 election, the other faction demonstrated in support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Buhari.

In what appeared to be premeditated, both groups thronged the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital in the early hours of the morning holding placards with inscriptions in support of either the president or the governor.

The placards, which identified them with the group they belonged, either promoted President Buhari, appreciating his gesture for the scheme, or showed support for Fayose and his deputy, Olusola.

Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara said yesterday that Nigerians should expect a unanimous and appropriate response from the National Assembly to President Buhari’s recent rejection of the proposed re-ordering of elections in the country.

The leaders of the two chambers, according to them, “are in agreement on what to do, how to do it, when to do it and why it must be done.”

They dismissed as unfounded and misleading insinuations that they were in disagreement over the Electoral Act Amendment 2018 which President Buhari declined assent to partly on the ground that it threatens the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to “organise, undertake and supervise elections.”

Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central), has warned that the APC risks being voted out of power in 2019 if the killings perpetrated by herdsmen continue.

He said, “We must honestly admit that there are successes achieved by this administration but mindless killings, violence and sheding of peoples blood in most states of the federation are mind-boggling. The crisis is also a threat to the peace and unity of Nigeria. The killings are not acceptable and that is why I said the President must stand up to the reality of our country today.

If our party cannot guarantee the peace and stability, we factually have given up our moral right to ask people to vote for us again.”

And stories from around the world…

US President Donald Trump’s lawyers are seeking $20 million in damages from Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic actor whose professional name is Stormy Daniels and who claims to have had an affair with the future president in 2006 and 2007.

A lawyer representing Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants, claimed in federal court on Friday that Clifford had violated a nondisclosure agreement as many as 20 times.

Kurds have begun to flee Afrin for the regime-held city of Aleppo. Behind them, Turkish troops and Arab forces they sponsor have encircled their home city except for the squeeze point they used to flee. Ahead, Shia militants allied to the Syrian army man checkpoints deciding who can pass.

At least 250 civilians have been killed in the bombardment of Afrin as the Turks and their proxies have advanced. Many abandoning the majority-Kurdish enclave fear they may not be allowed to return when – and if – the dust finally settles on this war without restraint. Everything appears up for grabs now: their homes, futures and even the Kurdish cause.

Russia on Saturday said it’s expelling 23 British diplomats from Moscow within a week and will close the British Council in Russia, which advances cultural ties between the countries, the BBC reports.

Russia has also threatened further retaliatory measures in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.

Britain’s government said the move was expected, and that it doesn’t change their conviction that Russia was behind the poisoning of ex-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.

Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain will consider further retaliatory steps in the coming days alongside its allies.

The Russian Foreign Ministry ordered the 23 diplomats to leave within a week.

A growing number of Democrats are lambasting Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ decision to fire Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Friday.

This was compounded by Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, urging Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to shut down Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Meanwhile, McCabe has met with Mueller’s team and has turned over memos detailing interactions with President Trump, according to a source familiar with the exchange.

The memos include corroboration by McCabe of Comey’s account of his own firing by Trump, according to the source.

Former FBI Director James Comey tweeted a pointed message to Trump on Saturday after the firing of former FBI McCabe on Friday.

Comey’s book will be out April 17.

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