The Late 5: Atiku apologises over claims he called widow of slain soldier; Agbaje promises to dismantle Lekki toll gate if elected | Other top stories

These are the stories that drove the conversation today:

Seven weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari saddled it with the assignment of investigating allegations of fraud against the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, the committee has submitted its report.

The panel headed by Dr. Bukar Hassan, a retired Permanent Secretary, submitted the report on Monday to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

It however refused to make public their recommendations.


The Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Monday said that he did not call Seun Sakaba, Lt. Col Ibrahim Sakaba, wife of one of the 44 soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents during an attack on 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Borno in November.

As contained in a statement issued on behalf of the former Vice President, following efforts to get the contact of his widow to enable him express his condolences over the loss of the fallen hero, he was over the weekend availed with phone numbers of Mrs. Sakaba and Maryam, younger sister of the late soldier, in the alternative but was only able to contact Maryam during which he expressed his deepest condolences to the family, after unsucessful attempts at reaching the widow of the deceased on Sunday.

“However, this communication was erroneously communicated. The error is regretted. Atiku Abubakar, however, reaffirms his deepest condolences to the Sakaba family, which sacrifices, like those of their brave son, keeps us safe,” he said.


Governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos, Jimi Agbaje, has to the one-hour toll-free passage recently given to all motorists by his All Progressives Congress counterpart, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, promising to dismantle the Lekki Toll Gate, which he described as illegal, if elected as the states’s chief executive.

Agbaje who disclosed this in a statement he issued on Sunday, said the toll gate is opaque as no one knows its financial records and asking people on his campaign trail and others to pass without paying for just one hour is absurd and regrettable, pledging however to deliver on good road which he stressed is a fundamental right of citizens.

“At the moment, most Lagos roads are impassable because of their poor condition. Now, motorists are compelled to pay heavily for pass“How about the so-called alternative routes? Ideally, government should have provided alternative routes to the Lekki Toll Gate, but the available alternate route is in a terrible shape, so everybody is forced to use the toll gate and pay.“Therefore, yesterday’s drama by the governorship candidate of the APC is a farce. Nobody was deceived by the party’s action which also smacks of disrespect and bondage.” he added.


President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday condemned the killing of innocent Nigerians in Birnin Magaji and Magami communities in Tsafe and Maradun local government areas of Zamfara, following attacks by suspected bandits and has expressed his deepest condolences to the families of those affected by the attacks, the government and people of Zamfara,

According to Presidential media aide, Garba Shehu in a statement issued on Monday in Abuja, Buhari who reassured residents of states plagued by bandits — Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Niger and Taraba, that their safety was an enduring commitment of his administration and that he would continue to ensure that security agencies worked round the clock to protect local populations, said he had authorised an assessment trip to Zamfara and Sokoto by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadiq, on Christmas and Boxing days.

“These horrendous acts of violence are crimes against humanity. This violence must stop,” he said.


The Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Enugu says it has filed a motion for interim forfeiture of $2.8million confiscated by the agency before a Federal High Court in the state.

The anti-graft agency which filed alongside the motion an affidavit of urgency for the matter to be heard on December 27, before a vacation Judge in Port Harcourt, also claimed in a statement on Monday that the suspects had “confessed” during interrogation that they had been in the business of moving cash for ‘some notable banks’, for over six years and were in the process of doing same for Union Bank Plc, located at New Market, Onitsha, Anambra State, before their arrest.

Bankers Warehouse in a swift reply however, said the agency’s actions constituted threat to its operations and lives of its employees and has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to intervene, Premium times reports.


And stories from around the world:

At least 222 people have been killed and 843 injured after a tsunami hit coastal towns on Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, government officials say.

There was no warning of the giant waves which struck at night, destroying hundreds of buildings, sweeping away cars and uprooting trees. (BBC)


Militants stormed a government building in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Monday, taking civilians hostage as they fought a gun battle against Afghan soldiers, officials said. (Reuters)


Barcelona was on alert on Monday after the US State Department warned of the risk of a terrorist attack in Spain’s second-largest city during the Christmas holidays.

Several police vehicles were parked on both ends of Barcelona’s central Las Ramblas boulevard, which was targeted last year by a deadly van attack claimed by Islamic State militants. (AFP)


The Mexican government on Monday pledged to end the “horror” migrants face crossing the country en route to the U.S. border, and pressed Washington for more details of its plan to send asylum-seekers to Mexico while their requests are processed. (Reuters)


US President Donald Trump has said he was replacing Defense Secretary James Mattis on January 1 with deputy defence secretary Patrick Shanahan in an acting capacity after Mattis resigned over policy differences and offered to stay in his post for two more months. (Al Jazeera)


 

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