The major headlines in mainstream newspapers today, Friday, August 16 are focused on the revelation by presidency sources about how the federal govt foiled a legal ambush laid by Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky; President Muhammadu Buhari’s prayer to the presidential election petition to dismiss the application by Atiku Abubakar and the PDP; the arrest of over 25 military and police personnel following the murder of three police operatives by soldiers in Taraba; the confusion over President Buhari’s directive to the CBN on food importation; and VP Yemi Osinbajo’s disclosure that the govt is creating policies to open Nigeria’s electricity market to new investors.
Kicking off the review, ThisDay reports that with concrete evidence by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) that the leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, had secured the services of some human rights lawyers in India to file a court case on Friday, August 16 to restrain the federal government from bringing him and his wife back to Nigeria, the federal government with the support of the Indian government on Thursday afternoon, August 15, moved to return the cleric and his wife, Zeenah, back to Nigeria.
Authoritative presidency sources told the publication that the federal government had to move fast to avoid the legal ambush since El-Zakzaky’s plot only confirmed the intelligence agency’s initial information that the cleric’s insistence on foreign medical treatment was a decoy to escape prosecution in the country.
The presidential sources information, however, contradicts IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Musa’s, who said El-Zakzaky had decided to return to Nigeria following the refusal of Medanta Hospital in New Delhi to allow his medical team to observe his treatment.
He also said the cleric was uncomfortable with the tight security around him, complaining that he felt unsafe without his doctors supervising the medical procedures in the hospital.
The Nation reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has described the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atikiu Abubabar, as the most worthless in election litigation history.
The president urged the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) to dismiss the petition for lack of merit.
The publication, however, reports that the PDP candidate insists that the president is unqualified to contest the election. Atiku urged the tribunal to quash Buhari’s victory.
These were contained in the final written addresses submitted to the court, which they are expected to adopt on August 21 when the court will hear final submissions from parties to the petition by Atiku and the PDP challenging the outcome of the 2019 presidential election.
Buhari and the APC argued that not only are the reliefs sought by the petitioners “ungrantable and meaningless”, they (Atiku and the PDP) failed woefully to prove the allegations as contained in their petition.
Moving on, Vanguard reports that following the killing of three policemen in the IGP Intelligence Response Team and a civilian by soldiers in Taraba state as they returned from arresting a kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Wadume, no fewer than 25 military and police personnel have been arrested.
The arrested security operatives were said to have colluded with Wadume, who was allegedly set free by soldiers, in his multi-million naira kidnapping business.
A source disclosed that a machinery of security operatives, including police and military personnel from across Taraba state, was maintained by the wanted kidnap kingpin.
According to the publication, this machinery fed him with information on movements and location of victims for kidnapping.
They also reportedly fed Wadume with information on possible hideouts and escape routes, as well as dossiers on those capable of paying ‘good’ ransom.
On its part, The Guardian reports that there is confusion over the state of food production in the country and the autonomy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) amid possible implications for the real sector, foreign investors and consumers.
This follows the recent order by President Muhammadu Buhari, which stopped the CBN from providing foreign exchange for food imports.
Citing investors’ worries, inflation and activities of the real sector, operators in the Organised Private Sector (OPS), analysts and manufacturers have asked the apex bank to identify the HS codes of food items to be thus restricted and provide an updated list of the same.
Besides, the operators expressed reservations about claims of food security when capacity to locally produce wheat flour, sugar, milk and even rice remains low and in some cases, undermined by smuggling.
Rounding off the review, Punch reports that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated that the federal government is creating policies that will open up the nation’s electricity market to new investors in generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure.
Osinbajo said on Thursday, that resolving the power supply problem had been a top priority of the federal government in the past few years.
He, however, said the current structure of the market could not deliver on the government’s promises for power for domestic and industrial use, adding, “A substantial change of strategy is being pursued.”
According to data obtained from the Nigeria Electricity System Operator, total power generation in the country stood at 3,586.5 megawatts as of 6am on Thursday.
This confirmed the publication’s previous report that the federal government was considering repossession of 10 electricity distribution firms as one of the options to rescue the nation’s beleaguered electricity industry.
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