The Late 5: Lai Mohammed hammers Saraki over alleged statement on Offa robbery; PDP kicks against Operation Python Dance during elections | Other top stories

These are the stories that drove the conversation today:

Former President, Alhaji Shehu Usman Shagari was on Saturday laid to rest in his hometown, Shagari Local Government Area of Sokoto.

Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, led the Federal Government delegation to the burial, with other dignitaries attending the funeral prayers including Governor Aminu Tambuwal, alongside members of the state executive council, Governors of Kebbi and Zamfara states, former Sokoto Governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, former Independent National Electoral Commission chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, Senator Aliyu Wamakko and former Minister, Mukhtar Shagari.


The Presidency late Friday said Aliko Dangote, is not a member of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) as erroneously announced on Friday.

Presidential Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, who made the clarification in a statement in Abuja, said “it has become imperative to further clarify the status of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, named under the sub-head ADVISORY MEMBERS in the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council announced on Friday, December 28, 2018, adding that “Africa’s richest man, not being a card-carrying member of APC, cannot, and is not member of the PCC.”

“He is also a member of the Peace Committee, and thus cannot be in a partisan campaign council,’’ the statement read.


Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has taken a swipe at Senate President Bukola Saraki for what he described as an indecent attempt to trivialise the April 5, 2018 robbery attack in Offa that left 33 people dead.

Speaking in Offa, Kwara on Saturday at the 2018 Ijakadi Festival, Mohammed who was reacting to an alleged claim by the Senate President during the radio programme that when he visited the town to commiserate with the people after the attack, he donated 10 million Naira, even when what was stolen from the banks’ vault was 7 million Naira, as he said claims of compensating the victims in monetary terms cannot equate the lives lost in the incident.

“How many of those who were killed in that attack have they also been able to bring back? How can any sane person equate human life with money? No amount of money is worth any human life. And no one should play politics with human life. All people of conscience must condemn this glib comment by a desperate political warlord,” he said.


The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) says it is opposed to the reintroduction of a nationwide military exercise, Egwu Eke III otherwise called Python Dance, scheduled to commence from January 1, 2019 and last till February 28 in preparation against security challenges anticipated before, during and after the 2019 general election.

In a statement on Saturday by the PDP spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari was plotting to use the military operation as an opportunity to unleash heavy security presence to intimidate, harass and instil fear in voters in PDP strongholds across the country and pave the way for the allocation of fictitious votes to President Buhari and the APC, having realised that he cannot win in a free and fair poll.

“In spanning the military operation to February 28, 2019, the Buhari Presidency betrayed its anticipation of public rejection or violence, which can only come when a result that does not reflect the actual wish of the people is announced,” the statement added.


Embattled former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana has declared that he is in the Social Democratic Party (SDP), to win the forthcoming 2019 presidential election and not to be running mate to former Cross River Governor, Donald Duke. 

As reported by The Nation, Gana, who was speaking at the unveiling of his campaign programme tagged ‘SWIFT’ said the leadership of SDP would not want to take the decision of him accepting to become running mate to Duke, if the party wants to win election. 

“I do not mind at all but, the party will definitely want a strategy, that is a winning strategy. Let us be very realistic the South South have just concluded a turn of the presidency during former President Goodluck Jonathan, if Nigerians are to be real they will know that it is too soon to have a presidential candidate running for an election from that zone. 

“The other zones of Nigeria would also want to have the vote, so if you want to win election the party will not do that. But if they want to just play politics they would do that. I am not for that I am for winning election,” he said.


And stories from around the world:

US President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed opposition Democrats for the death of two immigrant children in US custody, comments set to heighten tensions as the second week of a government shutdown began over his demands for a border wall. (AFP)


Russia and Turkey have agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria after last week’s announcement of a United States’ military withdrawal, Turkish and Russian foreign ministers said. (Al Jazeera)


France’s “yellow vest” demonstrators kept numerous roads across the country blocked on Saturday as groups of protesters gathered in city centers, but the anti-government backlash was more muted than in previous weeks.Police in Egypt have killed dozens of militants during security raids on their hideouts, the interior ministry has said. (Reuters)


The raids killed “40 terrorists” in Giza and North Sinai on Saturday morning, according to a statement from the ministry. (BBC)


Yemeni rebels have begun to withdraw from the lifeline port of Hodeida, under an agreement reached in Sweden earlier this month, a UN official said Saturday.

The official, who requested anonymity, said the Huthi rebels began to pull back from the Red Sea port at midnight. (AFP)


 

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