**President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday urged the military and other security agencies to remain apolitical in their involvement in the provision of security during the nation’s 2023 general elections. Speaking at the commissioning of the Defence Intelligence Agency, DIA’s newly acquired estate in Idu-Karmo in Abuja yesterday, the President urged the agencies to handle the distribution and monitoring of classified materials and other logistics ”professionally and in accordance with Standing Operation Procedures. Reiterating his earlier directive to security agencies to remain apolitical, the President said they must desist from behaviour that could bring disrepute to their organisations and the country and avoid compromising the democratic process. On the newly acquired DIA Estate, the President said the befitting accommodation would enhance productivity and coordination of activities of staff of the agency, in view of increasing number of personnel to face new challenges and responsibilities. He said: ”The significance of today’s occasion can be better understood by making the connection between shelter and productivity. This underpins the administration’s vision for provision of shelter to improve performance as well as comfort for workers, families and communities.” This commissioning ceremony further avails another opportunity to reaffirm my confidence in the competence, commitment and achievements of the Defence Intelligence Agency’s giant strides achieved across the nation. ”I am confident that this new premises will yield enormous shelter dividends to the Defence Intelligence Agency staff, their families and the host locality. ”The acquisition of this accommodation is a great leap forward, but the envisaged benefits would be aborted without diligent maintenance.”

**George Obiozor, the President-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, is reportedly dead. It was reported that Prof. Obiozor’s exit from a highly positioned chieftain of the organization. Obiozor died of a heart-related disease Monday, but the apex Igbo body would not announce Obiozor’s demise until his family formally makes the announcement. “The man is dead but it’s not in our tradition to announce such death even when we have such information, we allow the family members to make such an announcement. “He died on Monday of heart-related disease. I’m not specific about where he died but he travelled abroad and returned to Lagos. “I was called in the early hours of December 26th that he died in the early hours,” a highly-placed chieftain of Ohanaeze said. Obiozor is a Nigerian professor and diplomat. The 80-year-old was the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States of America (USA).

**The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed January 27, 2023, for ruling on the suit challenging the candidacy of Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 general elections. Justice Binta Nyako fixed the date on Wednesday when the case resumed in court. A group – the Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, the APC and Tinubu as 1st to 3rd defendants, seeking the disqualification of Tinubu from contesting the 2023 presidential election. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the group in an originating motion on notice marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1960/22, sought an order of mandamus directing INEC to exercise its statutory power in accordance with Section 84(13) of the Electoral Act 2022 to immediately expunge Tinubu’s name from its final list of presidential candidates contesting the 2023 poll. The group premised its position on the failure of the APC to comply with the mandatory provisions of Section 91(3) of the Electoral Act 2022 which stipulates that a political party shall not receive any contribution of cash or kind exceeding N50 million without showing the source of the contribution to INEC, among others. However, the former Lagos State governor in a preliminary objection filed by his lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the suit on the ground of incompetence. Tinubu’s counsel who gave a 14-ground argument said the suit challenges his client’s eligibility in contesting for the 2023 presidential election on the ground that the APC failed and/or neglected to identify the source of the N100 million which he paid for his expression of interest and nomination form. He described the suit as non-justiciable and argued that the suit was statute barred as the plaintiff had failed to bring their claim against Tinubu within the 14-day period stipulated by the 1999 Constitution (as amended). He further noted that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case. Fagbemi told Justice Nyako that the plaintiff was neither a political party nor a candidate in the poll, arguing that it lacked the locus standi (legal right) to institute the case, which invariably challenged the political party’s decision and its internal affairs. Fagbemi’s argument was affirmed by the lawyer for the APC, Ibrahim Audu. After the lawyers adopted their processes and presented their arguments for and against the suit, Justice Nyako fixed January 27, 2023, for judgment.

**The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), popularly known as Shi’ites, has demanded the immediate release of an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abduljabbar Kabara, who was sentenced to death by hanging by the Upper Sharia Court in Kano over alleged blasphemy. The group described the charges filed against the cleric and the judgement delivered as baseless and politically motivated. IMN disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja in a petition signed by Halima Aliyu on behalf of the Academic Forum of the movement and addressed to the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Legal Aid Council, Amnesty International and Human Rights Monitor. The group called on international organisations to take action and prevail on the Kano State government and the Sharia court to review the judgment in the interest of justice. The petition also called for an appeal against the ruling delivered by Judge Ibrahim Sarki Yola of the Upper Shariah Court with a view to overturning the judgement. The petition reads in part, “We write to draw your attention to a questionable court judgement sentencing Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasuru Kabara, Kano to death by hanging; and to seek the intervention of all people of conscience for the unconditional release of the cleric. “Sheikh Abduljabbar is a prominent cleric and son of Sheikh Nasuru Kabara Kano. The family of Sheikh Nasuru Kabara is a highly respected family not only in Nigeria and Africa but across the globe. Recently, people who are active in listening to speeches of some self-proclaimed Muslim scholars in Kano State and other parts of Northern Nigeria have witnessed how grudges developed between Sheikh Abduljabbar and the scholars as a result of research being conducted by the Sheikh. “Sheikh Abduljabbar is well known for conducting research on Islamic history and the authenticity of traditions reported on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). He is known for the presentation of his research findings through lectures and book publications. Prominent books authored by the cleric include Muqaddimatu Azifa and Jawful Fara. “Moreover, audio and video clips available in the public domain prove that the aforementioned scholars who share different views with Sheikh Abduljabbar ganged up against him in order to stop him from propagating his knowledge. “Likewise, the inaction and views of Sheikh Abduljabbar on the Gandollar video published by the Daily Nigeria newspaper also contributed to creating political issues between the cleric and the present governor of Kano, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.” In 2018, Jafar Jafar, the Publisher of Daily Nigerian released videos showing Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje receiving bribes from contractors. The scandal is known by Nigerians as ‘Gandollar’. However, Ganduje dismissed the allegations, claiming the videos were doctored. “People of Kano who are active on social media have witnessed a video clip where Abdullahi Umar Ganduje promises to persecute the Sheikh, and also there is another video where Ganduje is celebrating the arrest of the Sheikh,” the IMN further said in the statement. The group accused Governor Ganduje of framing the cleric. “It is pertinent to state that the lectures of Sheikh Abduljabbar which are in the public domain and the books he authored were centred on reverence, adoration and love of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). “Sheikh Abduljabbar is known by the public for propagating love of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), but funny enough, Judge Ibrahim Sarki Yola convicted the Sheikh for blasphemy against the Prophet. “We believe that the allegations and charges filed against Sheikh Abduljabbar are baseless and the court ruling delivered against him is politically motivated. “We petition numerous organizations, including the National Human Rights Commission, the European Union, the United Nations, the Legal Aid Council, Amnesty International, Human Rights Monitor, and so on,” the movement added.

**The National Assembly (NASS) on Wednesday passed the Finance Bill 2022 which was transmitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, earlier this month (December). It was reported that the bill amends several laws specifically the Capital Gains Tax Act, Companies Income Tax Act, Personal Income Tax Act, Petroleum Profits Tax Act, Stamp Duties Act, Value Added Tax, and Public Procurement Act. Presenting a report on the Finance Bill, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, said the bill is intended to enhance tax equity by bringing more economic sectors into the tax net and ensuring a fairer distribution of revenue receipts to all tiers of government. The Finance Bill seeks to change the name of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to Nigeria Revenue Service. The board is to be headed by a chairman who is separate from the management.

**Professor Akin Osuntokun, the newly-appointed Director-General of the Peter Obi Presidential Campaign Organisation, has said he abandoned his senatorial ambition under the platform of the Zenith Labour Party to take up the position. Peter Obi is the presidential candidate of the Labour Party. Osuntokun stated this during a live programme on Channel TV on Wednesday night, which was monitored by SaharaReporters. Osuntokun said he accepted the position because he believes it is more important than any other aspiration. It was earlier reported that the suspended National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Mr Abayomi Arabambi, had asked Osuntokun to resign from his position considering that he is listed as the ZLP candidate for Ekiti central senatorial district for the 2023 elections. Osuntokun’s name is number 392 on the list. The former political aide to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo was announced as the new campaign helmsman in Abuja during a strategic meeting of the LP candidates and the National Working Committee of the party on Tuesday. Osuntokun replaced former DG of the campaign organisation, Doyin Okupe, who announced his resignation in a letter last Tuesday following a Federal High Court ruling in Abuja that convicted him of violating the Money Laundering Act. Reacting to Arabambi’s remark on Wednesday, Osuntokun said, “No. I don’t know what you mean by officially. I have abandoned it. The campaign officer has issued a press release in that regard. Look, the question you should ask yourself is what law have I breached in accepting the appointment, what law has the presidential candidate who appointed me breached? “The man who is doing this is supposedly a national publicity secretary of the Labour Party. Ask him, why will the national publicity of a party do that to his own party? It is a redundant question. It is of no consequence at all.” Osuntokun said he is confident of leading the Labour Party to victory in the 2023 presidential election considering his previous contributions to politics. He continued: “I am used to presidential campaigns, I led before in 2003 and 2007 as a political adviser and as a campaign coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan in 2011”. When asked if he was recommended for the position by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was described as an ally of Osuntokun and his predecessor, Okupe, he said, “Yes, you are correct, he is a father figure. It is a father-figure relationship. Assuming what you are saying is correct, am I not qualified for the job, am I not competent? “I don’t know what you mean by Obasanjo’s slot. You have to ask the presidential candidate, my principal, whether it is an Obasanjo slot or not. Forget about who recommended me to somebody, that is not an issue. It is my capacity and competency to do the job that matters most.”

**The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Adamu Abdullahi has said that it will be ‘shameful’ if President Muhammadu Buhari hands over Power to an Opposition Party in 2023. It can be recalled that the Peter Obi of the Labour party and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP are the two frontline opposition candidates battling the Candidate of the ruling APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the nation’s top seat in next year’s election. In an interview with BBC Hausa, the party chairman however said Buhari wants APC to win more than anyone else. Dismissing the criticism alleging that President Buhari is withdrawing from campaigning for the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Adamu said it is inappropriate for him to leave his job as president because of the electioneering. He said, “Things go the way we want, we are grateful to God, everyone in our journey is seeing the signs that God shows us. We believe in success, all other parties know that we are ahead.” On criticism that Buhari has withdrawn from party rallies, Adamu said it is untrue. “Anyone who tells you that he wants (APC to) win this election more than Buhari is lying. My reason is that it is a shame for the President to hand over power to a political party that it is not his. What people don’t consider is that Muhammadu Buhari is the president and there is an oath on him that every citizen belongs to him. So he has to be careful because if he doesn’t do that, his critics will accuse him of working for APC instead of working for Nigeria,” he added. On the crowd pulled by other political parties during their rallies, the chairman said APC is not scared. “I didn’t see it and it will not scare us because it is normal. This is a country with about 200 million people, and there is no place where PDP can gather a million people. “The Waziri of Adamawa who is contesting for presidency, so far he has not been able to unite members of his party,” Adamu added.

**The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have listed conditions for the proposed review of the national minimum wage, saying the continuous rise in inflation and the devaluation of the naira must be checked before the salary increase announced by the Federal Government could be considered. The organised labour explained that the cost of virtually all consumables in Nigeria had been on the rise, stressing that if this should continue; any amount of money that would be added to the minimum wage might not meet the expectations of workers. The NLC and TUC spoke against the backdrop of the disclosure by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, that the Federal Government would soon announce salary increments for civil servants and public officials due to the steady increase in prices of consumer goods. It was reported that Nigeria’s headline inflation has continued to rise this year, hitting a new high of 21.47 per cent in November 2022 from 21.09 per cent in October 2022, according to the Consumer Price Index report released by the National Bureau of Statistics this month.

**To get the support of the five aggrieved governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, will have to prevail on LP gubernatorial and senatorial candidates to drop their aspirations. We understands that this is part of the condition to get the support of Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia). The G5 governors are currently in the United Kingdom to choose between Obi and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, after deciding not to support the presidential candidate of their party, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The governors, who are focused on ensuring the next president comes from southern Nigeria, had zeroed in on Obi and Tinubu, but were split on who of the two they should unanimously support. While some of the governors are reportedly favouring Tinubu, others are disposed to an Obi presidency. According to reports, despite former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, prevailing on the governors to support the LP presidential candidate, getting them to be unanimous has proven difficult.


**Fulani socio-cultural group, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, has finally announced its preferred candidate for the 2023 presidential race. It was reported that there have been speculations on the candidate the pastoral group would be supporting in the forthcoming election. Miyetti Allah ended the speculations after it declared support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. It was said that the endorsement was the outcome of extensive discussions between the Fulani Pastoralists and the representatives of the APC presidential candidate, which was concluded recently. A week ago, the president of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Baba Othman Ngelzarma, told reporters that the pastoral association would reveal the candidate to support before the February 2023 election. According to him, the group had presented a seven-point agenda to the major presidential candidates and would unveil a preferred presidential candidate after due consultations. He stated that the group has already met and presented its seven-point agenda to the presidential candidates of the APC, Tinubu, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso.

**The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has backed former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal’s endorsement of the candidate of the Labour Party (LP) for the 2023 presidential poll, Peter Obi.
Lawal, a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had said he decided to back Obi because: “Nigerians are yearning for change and people are determined that this time around the change that we have been yearning for will come”. In a statement yesterday, MBF Chairman, Bitrus Pogu said the ex- SGF “must have realised that his people’s interest is put first”.
He however, faulted the ex-House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s reported endorsement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. Pogu said: “One would have expected that after the hues he went through in the ruling APC, Dogara’s preference of his name and personal political interest against that of his people would have given way to a much better people-driven position. “Maybe, his sole calculation was that Atiku will beat Tinubu and Obi and his appointment guaranteed. “He wants to belong even if it is going to be against the overall interest of his own people but when the dice is cast, he will realize how important the power of the people is compared to that of personal interest.”

**As the general 2023 Presidential election set to kick-off in the next few days in Nigeria and the commencement of the Presidential campaign, many Nigerians, including top politicians have been sharing their views regarding the Presidential candidates and their chances in 2023. Based on these notes, a former member of the House of Representatives and member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ogbeide Ifaluyi-Isibor while sharing via his official Twitter page has noted that he likes the fact that a few Igbo elites are rejecting the former governor of Anambra State and Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Gregory Obi while Northern and South Western elites are embracing him (Peter Obi) without an apology. Further speaking, Ogbeide Ifaluyi-Isibor noted that this proves that Peter Obi’s election is a National call and not an Igbo issue, adding that Nigerians are united to rebuild the country.

**A former managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of Pensions Alliance Limited, Funso Doherty, says that anybody who says he built the city of Lagos is really a fraudster because he knows the real history of Lagos State and is also a real-life born Lagosian. He further stated that he thinks that Lagos State is blessed, but not much has been done with its resources. Lagos State has been a commercial center for centuries; ignore people who say they built it in the past 25 years because we know the history of Lagos State. According to him, Lagos State is an infrastructure-based state, and many of its infrastructures were also inherited from its time as the country’s former capital. So that is just it; anyone that comes out and says that he built Lagos State is a fraudster. I did not say Bola Tinubu did not do anything for Lagos State; moreover, he was supposed to do something as a governor, he said.

**Anambra State Government, yesterday, expressed sadness over the activities of the Army in the state, alleging that it has converted its checkpoints to extortion points. Commissioner for Information in the state, Mr. Paul Nwosu, in a statement, flayed soldiers at various checkpoints for mass extortion of drivers, and other road users instead of looking for the criminals terrorising the state. In the statement titled: checkpoints or extortion-points, the government wondered why the army had not apprehended any of the criminals that have been unleashing terror on the state since it has checkpoints scattered across the state. “It is a tragedy that the checkpoints manned by military men on literally all the roads across the state have precipitated punitive gridlocks, where the mass of Yuletide vacationers are argonously trapped for many hours, an experience which the state government had worked hard to avert at this period. “The recent practical experience of the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, in courageously confronting the soldiers on the Amansea end of the state calls for grave concern. “It seems these military men manning the checkpoints have turned these places into toll points this season, thereby causing traffic jams and thwarting government’s effort to ensure free flow of traffic. “The case of Amansea is particularly instructive because the Deputy Governor had warned the military personnel earlier in the day to allow traffic move smoothly, but immediately he left they resumed the unwholesome checking. “The sad aspect is that the military personnel are obviously not apprehending the hoodlums harassing the state. What then is the use of blocking roads at this time when there is no particular intel to track an impending crime or fleeing criminals? “This leaves one with one conclusion: that the long traffic jams are orchestrated just to extort money from drivers and motorists. “This pernicious attitude to traffic management by our military is condemnable. The security of the state must not be compromised on the altar of making filthy lucre by men who ought to protect the people. “Military subordination to civil authority should be emphasized forthwith and henceforth”, the statement reads. The deputy governor’s experience referenced by the commissioner, reportedly happened on Friday, December 23 at the Amansea axis of the Enugu – Onitsha expressway. A trending video had shown him rebuking the soldiers for allegedly extorting users of the road and causing gridlock in that area. The deputy governor was seen in the video angrily tongue-lashing the military personnel for deliberately subjecting users of the road to untold hardship for no reason. “I came here in the morning to warn you about this thing. We must be sane in this country. I don’t want you to cause hardship on my people. This nonsense must stop in this country”, the visibly angry deputy governor had thundered when he revisited in the evening of the same day. He subsequently took over the control of the traffic so that the vehicles, many of which had lined up on the road for too long, could move while he was still there. Commercial drivers plying that expressway every day have always lamented that they spend hours in the gridlock caused by the army who they said appeared more interested in extorting money from them than securing the state.

**During an interview with Channels Television, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, stated that the force is trying to fish out the bad ones among them. He also stated that apart from being police officers, they are also human beings, adding that it’s natural for some of them to be bad. He made the statement after Seun Okinbaloye asked him why there are so many bad police officers in Nigeria today. As regards this, the FPRO stated that it’s a natural thing that is bound to happen in every society. According to him, “Seun, you agree with me that you’re a lawyer, and you must have done little about sociology.” It’s a natural theory that when you have more than one society, you must have deviants. So you can’t rule out the fact that, because we’re police and we wear the uniform, you want to rule out the fact that we’re human beings.”

**He equally suspended the project coordinator to allow for unhindered review of the loan administration while the consultant was directed to return to government the N70million bullet proof jeep in her possession.
The governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, has directed the immediate suspension of the project consultant for the Ilesa Water Project, Mrs Tawa Williams, over alleged questionable handling of $106million dollar loan for the project. The governor in a statement by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, further ordered full scale probe of the entire project and disbursed loans especially as there was no progress on the project despite reported disbursement of N10billion and another $28million on the project. He equally suspended the project coordinator to allow for unhindered review of the loan administration while the consultant was directed to return to government the N70million bullet proof jeep in her possession. The statement said the governor’s directive was sequel to the interim report of the State’s Assets Recovery Committee chaired by Dr B.T. Salami which made recommendations for immediate action to stop further squandering of loans secured to execute the Water Project. “The State Chief Executive frowned at large scale corruption reflected in the handling of the loans and the project, an action he regretted has denied people of Ilesa and environs of drinkable water.

**Former France international Adil Rami and Juventus forward Angel Di Maria have engaged in a war of words over Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez. Martinez has received a lot of backlash over his FIFA World Cup final antics, which were key to Argentina’s victory over France. Rami had earlier slammed Martinez over the Aston Villa goalkeeper’s actions in the World Cup final and his mockery of Kylian Mbappe. Rami posted on his Instagram account earlier, deeming Emi Martinez “the biggest son of a **** in football.” And Argentina international Angel Di Maria responded, saying, “El Dibu is the best goalkeeper in the world. Go cry elsewhere.”

**Former Leeds United goalkeeper, Paul Robinson has criticized Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola after his comments about midfielder, Kalvin Phillips. Recall that Guardiola had left Phillips out of the Manchester City squad that defeated Liverpool in the Carabao Cup a few days ago as he was deemed ‘overweight’ by the head coach. However, Robinson believes the overweight comments were unnecessary, adding that Phillips would not have gained too much during his time away from Man City. The former Tottenham Hotspur shot-stopper branded Guardiola’s comments on Phillips as ‘harsh’ and ‘wrong’. “I think it was really harsh from Guardiola. Players are monitored to an incredible level now,” Robinson told Football Insider.

May we have a blessed and stress free day.

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