Tinubu’s Opposition to Academic Records Probe Suspicious – Atiku’s Counsel; Cooking Gas Prices Set to Surge From Next Week, Marketers Warn – Okonjo-Iweala | 5 Things That Should Matter Today

  • Tinubu’s Opposition to Academic Records Probe Suspicious – Atiku’s Counsel
  • Cooking Gas Prices Set to Surge From Next Week, Marketers Warn
  • Okonjo-Iweala Denounces False ‘Threat Letter’ Following Meeting with President Tinubu
  • Okupe Calls for Senate to Get Written Undertaking from El-Rufai Before Confirmation
  • Court Sets August 30 for Verdict in Matawalle’s Suit Against EFCC

Across Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, these are the five top Nigerian news stories you shouldn’t miss

Tinubu’s Opposition to Academic Records Probe Suspicious –  Atiku’s Counsel

Angela Liu, the legal representative of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has raised significant concerns over the unyielding resistance displayed by President Bola Tinubu as efforts to unveil the truth behind his academic records intensify.

Recently, a legal suit seeking access to President Tinubu’s academic records was dismissed by a US court following Atiku Abubakar’s withdrawal of the case. Shedding light on the withdrawal, Phrank Shaibu, a close aide to the former vice president, elucidated that the decision was rooted in the aim to prevent the misuse of judicial processes.

However, Angela Liu, in a statement issued on Wednesday, contends that President Tinubu should have exhibited a proactive stance in resolving the ambiguity surrounding his educational accomplishments at the US institution. “Mr. Tinubu should have demonstrated a willingness to clarify any disparities within his academic achievements and rectify the record by facilitating a swift legal course,” she asserted.

Liu further emphasized, “If there exists a valid explanation for the discrepancies we have identified, it would be reasonable to anticipate Mr. Tinubu’s eagerness to provide such clarification. We remain open to receiving any explanations that Mr. Tinubu may wish to present, as this might potentially negate the necessity for, or at least expedite, the deposition process.”

Liu’s remarks take on a distinct candor as she observes that President Tinubu’s fervent resistance to this inquiry seems to be fanning suspicions rather than allaying them. Her analysis delves into the sequence of events, revealing that President Tinubu was initially advised to engage with the case, yet he chose to remain reticent.

Moreover, it was only after Atiku Abubakar’s legal team submitted an “order directing discovery” of President Tinubu’s academic records in court that the latter indicated his interest in joining the lawsuit. Liu highlighted, “Mr. Tinubu’s actions are perplexing. He waited until the eleventh hour, then promptly filed an application to join the case, all the while circumventing any consultation with Mr. Abubakar. This delay tactic raises questions about the sincerity of his intentions.”

Concluding her statement, Liu emphasized that while President Tinubu professes non-opposition to the motion, the manner in which he pursued this matter independently, rather than collaborating with Atiku Abubakar’s legal counsel, raises valid concerns about the underlying motives.

As the academic records controversy continues to unfold, the scrutiny surrounding President Tinubu’s stance and actions only serves to deepen the intrigue and skepticism. The legal intricacies and maneuverings within this saga evoke broader questions about transparency and accountability within the corridors of power.

Cooking Gas Prices Set to Surge From Next Week, Marketers Warn

Gas consumers in Nigeria are poised to encounter challenging times ahead, as indications from gas marketers point towards an imminent surge in prices set to take effect next week.

Olatunbosun Oladapo, President of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, issued a candid warning, urging gas consumers to prepare for an uptick in prices. Oladapo outlined an array of factors contributing to this anticipated price hike, including escalating international prices, elevated tax rates, increased vessel costs, forex scarcity, and the devaluation of the national currency.

Elaborating on the circumstances prompting the impending price review, Oladapo explained, “The increase is scheduled to begin next week due to the upward trajectory of international prices. The costs associated with vessels have risen, coupled with the burden of high taxes. This is occurring at a time when consumers’ earnings have not seen a corresponding increase.”

“The erosion of purchasing power is evident, and the repercussions are being felt across the board. Consumers, intermediaries, and retailers are grappling with the repercussions as business activities wane,” Oladapo emphasized.

Regrettably, Oladapo characterized the impending price escalation as an unfortunate development. He underscored the broader context, stating, “This situation is deeply disheartening as prices continue their ascent. Nigerian consumers find themselves in an increasingly challenging predicament, as the affordability of gas becomes more elusive.”

As a consequence of these escalating costs, Oladapo noted a concerning trend where consumers are reverting to traditional alternatives such as firewood, charcoal, and sawdust for cooking purposes.

In light of these challenges, Oladapo appealed to the government for intervention to mitigate the hardships faced by the populace. He called for the implementation of measures such as palliative support, tax and levy reductions, and a shift from taxing products to taxing profits. He argued that local taxes are exacerbating the crisis, stressing that a more compassionate approach towards consumers is imperative.

The warning from Oladapo comes amidst findings by The PUNCH publication indicating that the scarcity of vessels in the international market is poised to elevate local prices of Liquified Natural Gas (LPG), commonly referred to as cooking gas, in the forthcoming months.

Vessel scarcity has triggered a surge in charter rates, particularly in anticipation of the heightened demand for heating fuel during the winter of 2023. Charter rates have skyrocketed to unprecedented levels, with data indicating quadrupled prices for chartering compared to recent periods.

This scarcity of tanker supplies is attributed to traders using ships as floating storage in anticipation of a rise in LNG prices during colder weather. The ripple effects of volatile shipping rates extend to higher prices for buyers, reflecting the interconnectedness of global market dynamics.

The impending surge in gas prices underscores the intricate connection between international market fluctuations, local currency devaluation, and the resultant impact on the affordability of essential commodities for Nigerian consumers. As the nation grapples with these complexities, the populace awaits with bated breath to see how authorities respond to the mounting challenges.

Okonjo-Iweala Denounces False ‘Threat Letter’ Following Meeting with President Tinubu

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the distinguished Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), has unequivocally distanced herself from a fabricated letter that falsely claimed she faced threats following a recent visit to President Bola Tinubu.

On Tuesday, Okonjo-Iweala paid a visit to President Tinubu at the State House in Abuja. This marked the second occasion that the two prominent figures had convened since the president’s inauguration on May 29.

Their prior encounter took place in June when they both participated in a leadership summit held in Paris, France. Following her meeting with President Tinubu, Okonjo-Iweala underscored that her visit was conducted in a personal capacity, distinct from her role as the WTO Director-General.

Shortly after this visit, a fabricated letter, wrongfully attributed to Okonjo-Iweala, began circulating on social media platforms, with a noticeable presence on WhatsApp. The fictitious letter purportedly depicted Okonjo-Iweala expressing dismay over alleged threatening calls and messages directed towards her for her meeting with the president.

The fraudulent letter contained inflammatory language, alleging that a visit made with the intention of benefiting the nation was being exploited to endanger her and her family. The letter further insinuated a paradox by questioning the act of seeking assistance from a president while simultaneously not recognizing him as the leader.

Reacting promptly to this deception, Okonjo-Iweala took to Twitter to set the record straight. In her tweet posted on Wednesday, she unequivocally discredited the false statement, categorizing it as a calculated attempt to spread misinformation and discord among Nigerians.

“It has just been brought to my attention that there is a false statement circulating on WhatsApp attributed to me saying that I am being attacked for my visit to President Tinubu,” Okonjo-Iweala clarified.

She emphatically stated, “That statement circulating is false, in fact wickedly designed to create mischief among Nigerians. Please disregard the statement.”

Okupe Calls for Senate to Get Written Undertaking from El-Rufai Before Confirmation

Doyin Okupe, previously the Director-General of the Peter Obi presidential campaign, is urging the Senate to adopt a cautious approach regarding the confirmation of ministerial nominee Nasir El-Rufai. Okupe suggests that El-Rufai should be required to provide a written undertaking, pledging not to engage in discussions pertaining to religion.

Okupe’s proposition follows the Senate’s decision to withhold confirmation of El-Rufai as a ministerial appointee, citing security concerns. Despite this setback, Okupe advocates for the reconsideration of El-Rufai’s appointment, emphasizing his capacity to address Nigeria’s pressing power crisis.

Taking to Twitter to express his views, Okupe stated, “I am not a fan of Mallam El-Rufai, whom I consider to be a radical of some sort and who has in the recent past demonstrated some traits of religious extremism. Still, very few people will doubt El-Rufai’s competence and immense capacity to perform.”

In his tweet, Okupe proposes a unique approach to address the concerns regarding El-Rufai’s rhetoric. He suggests that the Senate request a formal commitment from El-Rufai before his confirmation, specifying that he will refrain from making any comments or statements related to religion while serving as a minister.

Okupe particularly underscores the significance of the power ministry in Nigeria’s economic landscape and its crucial role in the nation’s poverty alleviation efforts. He asserts, “If any Nigerian can fix our energy problems, former Governor El-Rufai is certainly one of such people.”

The Senate’s initial hesitation to confirm El-Rufai stems from security considerations. El-Rufai was among the nominees on the 48-person ministerial list submitted by President Bola Tinubu. Despite the reservations expressed, Okupe’s proposal highlights the complexity of the decision, balancing concerns over rhetoric with acknowledgment of El-Rufai’s expertise in addressing critical issues such as the power crisis.

Court Sets August 30 for Verdict in Matawalle’s Suit Against EFCC

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja has announced that the verdict in the case brought by former Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle against ongoing investigations will be delivered on August 30, 2023.

The amended originating summons, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/753/2023, lists the State Security Service, Nigeria Police Force, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Immigration Services, and the Attorney General of the Federation as the first to sixth defendants respectively.

Matawalle, who has also been appointed as a minister by President Bola Tinubu, filed the suit seeking a court declaration on the judgments delivered by Justice Aminu Aliyu on May 31, 2023, in Suit No: FHC/GS/CS/30/2021. He asserts that the fourth defendant, EFCC, lacks the authority to conduct investigations or prefer charges against him, his family, associates, and contractors related to funds of the Zamfara State Government.

The former governor also invokes sections of the Zamfara State Anti-Corruption Law No. 12, 2021, to assert that only the Zamfara State Anti-Corruption Commission holds the authority to investigate alleged corrupt practices during his tenure.

Matawalle’s counsel, Kehinde Akinlolu (SAN), argues that the allegations against his client are false and fabricated. He emphasizes that all contracts during Matawalle’s tenure were executed with due process and meticulously documented.

He further contends that unless restrained, the defendants could infringe upon Matawalle’s right to a fair hearing and enforce actions in breach of the Zamfara State Anti-Corruption Law.

During the proceedings, legal representatives for the first and fourth defendants presented their arguments. The counsel for the first defendant requested the striking out of the State Security Service’s name from the suit, while the counsel for the fourth defendant moved for the dismissal of the case, citing constitutional and merit-related grounds.

The court also noted the absence of legal representation for the third and sixth defendants. A representative for the fifth defendant presented an oral application, highlighting the Immigration Act 2015’s provision for prohibiting the departure of individuals subject to court orders.

In anticipation of the forthcoming judgment, the presiding judge, Ahmed Mohammed, has reserved the final decision on the matter until August 30, 2023.

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