The Late 5: Presidency says approval of $1bn for purchase of weapons is not final, US sanctions seven Russian oligarchs, and other top stories

These are the top five Nigerian stories that drove conversation today.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has described the coordinated bank robbery in Offa, Kwara State, which left several persons dead and injured as “a despicable act committed by cruel individuals.”

In a post on his Facebook page, Saraki said he and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed discussed the matter on Thursday and they both agreed that those who carried out the attacks must be found and prosecuted.

The Senate President said, “Yesterday’s savage attack on unsuspecting citizens and establishments in Offa Local Government Area, that led to significant loss of lives and injury, is a despicable act committed by cruel individuals.

“Make no mistake, there will never be any valid grounds or rationale behind such violence, that has left many families without their loved ones, and one more community in grief and shock.”

Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media, says the approval of $1 billion by his principal for the purchase of weapons to combat the Boko Haram insurgency is not final.

On Wednesday, Masur Dan-Ali, minister of defence, said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the sum of $1 billion for the purchase of equipment for the military.

But speaking on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme on Friday, Shehu said a draft bill will be sent to the national assembly for consideration and approval.

“The process has begun, it’s not concluded, therefore, everyone will be involved. Mr President will not breach the constitution of this country. Approval at that level is granted, there is nothing controversial,” Shehu said.

OurMumuDonDo, a civil society group, has demanded the arrest and prosecution of Ibrahim Mantu, former deputy senate president, for admitting that he rigged elections.

The group made the demand when its members staged a protest to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja on Friday.

While being interviewed on a TV programme recently, Mantu had said he helped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig elections in the past.

Submitting a protest letter at the INEC office, the group asked the electoral body to expedite action and prosecute Mantu “for subverting the free will of Nigerians”.

The Benue police command says it has recovered 10 corpses of villagers killed by suspected armed bandits in Tse-Audu and Enger villages in Gwer west local government area of the state.

In a statement on Friday, Moses Yamu, the command’s public relations officer, said the corpses were victims of Thursday attacks on the villages.

He said the corpses were found by the mobile police contingent deployed to Naka, the capital of the local government council.

He attributed the deaths to armed bandits, claiming that the police had in their routine surveillance, also encountered the bandits.

The Nasarawa State Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has warned foreigners living in the state not to come out to vote in the forthcoming local government and general elections.

Comptroller of Immigration Service in the state, Aliyu Malik, who gave the warning yesterday in an interview with newsmen in Lafia, said foreigners yet to be granted citizenship had no right to vote and that anyone of them with a Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) should willingly submit it to the Divisional Immigration Officer (DIO) in any of the local governments close by to avoid arrest and prosecution.

Malik said the warning became imperative due to the forthcoming local government elections in the state and bearing in mind the current security challenges being faced in some parts of the state.

And now, stories from around the world…

The US has imposed sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and 17 senior government officials, accusing them of “malign activity around the globe”.

Twelve companies owned by the oligarchs, the state arms exporter and a bank are also sanctioned.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the penalties targeted those profiting from Russia’s “corrupt system”.

The move was a response to Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, he said.

Mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor has been charged with assault and criminal mischief by New York City Police Department (NYPD) following an incident at a UFC media day.

The former two-weight champion was one of a group alleged to have vandalised a bus containing rival fighters, the Ultimate Fighting Championship said.

The Irishman turned himself into police custody at 9pm local time on Thursday.

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has been charged with corruption linked to a 1990s arms deal.

After the 75-year-old’s 15-minute appearance at the High Court in Durban, the case was adjourned until 8 June.

He faces 16 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering, which dogged his presidency and were reinstated in 2016.

Mr Zuma, who was forced out of office in February, denies any wrongdoing.

His supporters descended on the city to rally for him, while his critics think court action is long overdue.

President Donald Trump ratcheted up the trade war rhetoric with China on Thursday evening, saying he was considering another wave of steep tariffs on the country’s exports to the United States.
“In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the [United States Trade Representative] to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate,” the president said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the United States announced new tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, claiming that China is stealing US intellectual property. China responded within hours by announcing $50 billion worth of tariffs on US goods.

The moves follow US tariffs that were imposed earlier this year on Chinese steel and aluminum, which also prompted retaliatory measures from China.

A federal judge has ordered the arrest of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, giving him until late Friday afternoon to present himself to federal police, according to an arrest warrant.

The order was given after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that Lula da Silva must start serving a 12-year jail sentence for corruption, a move that may end his political career.

Lula da Silva will not be handcuffed and will be placed in a separate jail cell upon his arrest, according to the arrest warrant. His legal team has not yet commented.

Lula da Silva, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011, had been considered a frontrunner in elections due in October. But the court’s decision not to grant his request to remain free while appealing the conviction has cast doubt on his bid to regain power.

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