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Plateau killings, another church scandal: Weekly roundup of top stories

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As the week wraps up, here are a few noteworthy headlines from Nigeria.

Bandits struck fear once again in a Plateau community; a private jet overshot the runaway in Ibadan again; another church scandal; and the tensions of the Rivers Crisis reignite.

Here are the highlights of the week’s biggest news stories, from January 21 to January 27, 2024.

In the midst of the ongoing tensions following the Christmas Eve attacks in Plateau State, armed individuals targeted Kwahaslalek village in the Mangu Local Government Area. The attack claimed the lives of 30 persons, with the majority being women and children.

Christian leaders accused the military of bias, alleging that troops supported the attackers. The Plateau State Government has called for a military investigation into these allegations, emphasising the need for an unbiased response. This incident raises concerns, with communities deserted and casualties rising, underscoring the escalating security situation in Plateau State.

Muslim leaders also condemned the violence and called for unbiased efforts to restore peace, while residents fled their homes, seeking refuge in the bush.

The Ondo State House of Assembly, led by the Speaker, Mr. Olamide Oladiji, pledged support for Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa following the confirmation of Mr. Olayide Adelami as deputy governor. Adelami’s confirmation came after Aiyedatiwa submitted his name for screening. The Assembly, previously in a political battle with Aiyedatiwa, expressed support for the executive to ensure more dividends of democracy. Aiyedatiwa had assumed the governorship after the death of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

The confirmation indicates a resolution of tensions, and Adelami, a retired Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, promised not to betray the confidence placed in him. Additionally, the governor dissolved the State Executive Council, surprising some aides who expected the move after Akeredolu’s burial.

The Rivers State Crisis reared its ugly head again. The Supreme Court had earlier in the week upheld the election of Siminalayi Fubara as the Governor of Rivers State, dismissing the appeal by the All Progressives Congress candidate, Tonye Cole. Fubara said the victory marked an end to distractions. However, the political turbulence continued as the Rivers State House of Assembly overrode Governor Fubara’s assent to four bills. The House, citing constitutional provisions allowing them to override the governor’s decision, pressed on despite Fubara’s objections, adding another layer to the ongoing political drama in the state.

Furthermore, political tensions escalated with the arraignment of Fubara’s loyalists in connection with the explosion at the State Assembly complex. The accused, including Chime Eguma Ezebalike and Lukman Oladele, face terrorism charges for orchestrating the attack during the political upheaval in Port Harcourt. The charges involve allegations of invading, vandalising, and burning down the Assembly.

Meanwhile,  Fubara has sworn in nine re-nominated commissioners who had earlier resigned amidst the political tussle with former governor Nyesom Wike. The re-nomination and re-confirmation were part of the agreements on the eight-point agenda following the intervention of President Bola Tinubu. In his address to the commissioners, Fubara acknowledged the challenging circumstances they faced, stating, “I don’t blame you. You were caught in the crossfire.”

The relocation drama continues this week. The Bola Tinubu administration faces criticism and dissent regarding the recent decisions to relocate key government offices. Despite assurances from the Presidency that there are no plans to move the Federal Capital back to Lagos, the directive to relocate the Department of Banking Supervision of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the head office of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to Lagos has sparked discontent, particularly among northern senators and youths who view it as a move to short-change the North.

Senator Ali Ndume expressed concerns during an interview, accusing President Tinubu of being misled by “Lagos boys” and warning of potential political consequences. The Presidency, in response, dismissed claims of relocating the Federal Capital, attributing the rumors to political opponents seeking to undermine Tinubu’s presidency.

The Presidency statement emphasised that these moves were administrative and strategic, not indicative of relocating the capital. Meanwhile, Senator Karimi Sunday criticised Ndume’s remarks, stating that they were personal and did not represent the Senate’s position. Doyin Okupe, a former spokesperson for President Goodluck Jonathan, cautioned Ndume, describing his pronouncements as provocative. The controversy surrounding these decisions continues to fuel debates.

President Bola Tinubu’s recent departure for a private visit to France  raised questions from opposition parties, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party. The PDP’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi, challenged the Presidency to provide clear details about the trip, expressing suspicion that it might be for medical treatment. Abdullahi emphasised the need for transparency, particularly during a challenging time for the nation in terms of security and the economy.

On the other hand, the Labour Party’s spokesman, Yunusa Tanko, alleged a hidden agenda for the trip and questioned the President’s health, pointing to observed signs during his recent public appearance in Imo State. Tanko called the travel undemocratic and unacceptable, insisting on detailed information and the temporary transmission of power due to the prevailing insecurity in the country.

A private jet overshot the runaway at Ibadan Airport. While there were no reported fatalities, the Federal Government has dispatched investigators from the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau to examine the situation. The recent incident has sparked worries, especially in light of a previous incident near the Ibadan Airport in November 2023. During that incident, the Minister of Power, Bayo Adelabu, and nine of his aides escaped death when their private jet crash landed.

The earlier NSIB report revealed deficiencies in night flight experience for the operators. The recent crash is under investigation, and details remain pending official communication from authorities.

The founder of Lagos-based iReign Christian Ministry, Bishop Oluwafeyiropo Daniels, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a church member. This development follows the BBC documentary on TB Joshua that shook the news space a few weeks ago after allegations of sexual assault, physical abuse, faked miracles, and trauma. While some members support Daniels, claiming a political conspiracy, social media reflects divided opinions. The incident further intensifies scrutiny of religious leaders and their accountability, adding to the ongoing discourse sparked by recent revelations in the faith community.

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