The newspaper review for Tuesday, July 24, leads with the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, inviting the Senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki, again to report to the Force Intelligence Response Team over alleged links to the masterminds of the Offa bank robberies among other stories.
Vanguard reports that indications emerged that the Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigeria Press Council Act, 1992 may have died a natural death after the public hearing organised by the Senate, yesterday, in Abuja.
Lampooning the bill during the one-day public hearing by the Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, led by Senator Suleiman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa), newspaper publishers, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, editors and Nigeria Union of Journalists, unanimously asked the upper chamber to throw away the bill.
They contended that the bill was not only draconian, unconstitutional, anti-people, anti-business and anti-free speech but also seeks to criminalise journalism practice, despite the fact that the laws of the country already had enough provisions and avenues for seeking legal redress.
Presenting the position of media stakeholders at the public hearing, chairman, Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria / president, Nigerian Press Organisation, Nduka Obaigbena, urged the Senate to borrow from best practices in other jurisdictions that have expressly provided for and guaranteed press freedom without any form of government interference.
The Punch reports that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has again invited the Senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki, to report to the Force Intelligence Response Team office at Guzape, Abuja, for interrogation over alleged links to the masterminds of the Offa bank robberies.
The IG, in a letter dated July 23, addressed to Saraki, asked him to report to the police on Tuesday (Today) at 8am to provide further clarification on his relationship with the five leaders of the robbery gang.
The robbers had attacked some commercial banks in Offa, Kwara state on April 5 during which nine policemen and 33 persons were killed.
Following the attack, the police arrested 27 suspects including five leaders of the gang and also recovered some AK47 rifles.
The police said their investigation into the matter showed that all the five gang leaders, namely: Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salawudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran had a direct connection with the Senate president.
The Guardian reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suggested urgent amendment of the Electoral Act before 2019 general elections to establish a non-partisan agency to prosecute electoral offenders.
INEC noted that although Section 150 (2) of the 2010 Act put the responsibility of prosecution on its shoulders, lacks the power to investigate and arrest those involved in the act of buying and selling votes as well as announcement of false election results.
At the public presentation of Ekiti state governorship election monitors’ observation report, represented by INEC’s director, Legal Services, May Agbamuche-Mbu, who represented the chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said: “The commission is deeply concerned about the rising phenomenon of vote buying during elections and is determined to continue to work with all stakeholders, law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, among others, to find solutions to this menace.”
The national co-ordinator of election monitors, Abiodun Ajijola, in his presentation of the report, said although INEC was apt in the deployment of electoral materials and human resources to the polling units, the election was marred by massive vote buying, which is a threat to Nigeria’s democracy.
The Nation reports that Senate president Bukola Saraki last night described the police invitation as “a mere after thought which is designed to achieve political purpose.”
In a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki said he had it on good authority that the Police had already decided on the suspects to arraign in court in Ilorin, Kwara state on Wednesday based on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution Mohammed U.E. and that the turn around to invite him was a ploy aimed at scoring cheap political points.
He said: “I have been reliably informed that the police invitation was planned by the IG as a ploy to stop an alleged plan by some Senators and House of Representatives members from defecting from the All Progressives Congress (APC). It was also said that if I was detained between Tuesday and Wednesday, that will abort the so-called defection plan.
“While I continue to maintain that the issue of my position on the 2019 elections is not a personal decision for me alone to make, it should be noted that all these concoctions and evil plot cannot deter me. Those behind this fresh assault will fail as I have nothing to do with the robbery incident or any criminal matter for that matter."
This Day reports that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has set up a committee to meet with the reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) and harmonise the positions of both parties on their bid to work together in 2019.
The committee, which party sources said would be announced during the week, is also to discuss the possibility of changing the name of the PDP as requested by some of the other political parties and politicians proposing to join the party.
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The party’s decision was taken at its 80th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting Monday following assurances that many big wigs in the rAPC would defect to the PDP by Thursday.
Those expected to leave the All Progressives Congress (APC) nest, include Senate president Bukola Saraki, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara).
According to a reliable THISDAY sources, they are expected to move with their loyalists in the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly.
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