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NASS REPUBLIC: Fighting Buhari for press freedom. Two other stories, and a quote to remember

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2020 budget to be passed on November 28

The Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives, led by Honourable Ndudi Elumelu, last week, condemned the alleged harassment of Channels Television and its presenters, Chamberlain Usoh, Kayode Okikiolu and two others.

The Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), had issued a notice of infraction against the broadcast station for what it deemed unauthorized content.

Amidst this notice, news that the presenters had been arrested by Nigeria’s secret police made the rounds.

The move against the media has since generated a lot of debate, and this has been complimented by two other developments in the National Assembly.

Defending press freedom

Following the alleged harassment of Channels Television, and its staff, on August 27, House Minority leader, Elumelu, in a statement said, among others: “The assault on press freedom has reached a crescendo under the administration. Little wonder that Nigeria has emerged as the most dangerous place in West Africa for journalists…”

The disposition of the Elumelu-led Minority caucus did not come as a surprise given its institutionalized opposition role and need for pro-democracy groups to speak up against injustice and infringements on fundamental human rights.

Indeed, the treatment meted out to Channels Television may easily pass as a subtle intimidation and creates a dent on the human rights records of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

While it can be argued that no nation in the world enjoys unfettered freedom, Buhari government’s penchant for being intolerant to the media and social critics is becoming rife.

The checks on the presidency and its agencies are, no doubt, welcome.


NASS MEMORY LANE

Who said;

“I didn’t feel betrayed. He (Nnamdi Kanu) escaped for his life. If he is running for his life, how would he communicate with me. I was surprised like everybody when he surfaced in Israel. I immediately wrote a letter to our foreign affairs ministry asking them to instruct our Nigerian ambassador in Israel to ascertain whether the person we saw in the photograph is actually this person but I never got a response?”

Answer: See end of post


Two other stories

Ndume, do more!

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, on August 26, debunked reports making the rounds that security agencies had started granting amnesty to repentant Boko Haram commanders, accompanied with huge financial empowerment.

Answering questions from journalists, Ndume said: “It is not true that the Department of State Services is granting amnesty to repentant Boko Haram commanders and giving them financial inducement. The DSS cannot do that because it doesn’t have the mandate to carry out such task. Even the President (Muhammadu Buhari) cannot grant such amnesty without the involvement of the National Assembly.”

Read also: NASS REPUBLIC: Hey! Omo-Agege, what did you say? Two other stories, and a quote to remember

Ndume’s clarifications could not have come at a better time given persistent unsavoury comments on Buhari’s perceived failures to manage insecurity.

Ndume has been at the forefront of the campaign against reintegration of ‘repentant terrorists’ into the society. The time has, therefore, come for him to do more than just make clarifications, and this he can deliver by leading the battle for application of existing laws, their refinement or enactment of fresh laws in the compulsory prosecution of suspected terrorists.

Lawan and borrowings

On August 23, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, emphasised the need to reduce external borrowing through the blockage of revenue leakages from government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“There are so many agencies of government that are not remitting their internally generated revenues and this is something that we have to address and address it stiffly as possible and as quickly as possible because we need to find a way of reducing the borrowing that we do,” Lawan had said.

As potent as Lawan’s submissions may be, an important question to address is why these MDAs have continued to act with impunity, even with oversight checks conducted by different committees of the National Assembly.

Lawan and his colleagues must, therefore, rise from being toothless bulldogs that can only bark but not bite. They must admit that their indolence has substantially been responsible for the shabby treatment of its resolutions by the executive arm of government.

Will Lawan rise above the sentiments of being a ‘party man’? The answer remains consigned to the realm of uncertainty.


Answer: Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe

Abaribe made the statement, on July 21, 2021, when he featured on Journalist Hangout, a programme on Television Continental (TVC). He was speaking on not feeling betrayed having stood as a surety for the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, when he fled Nigeria in 2017, sequel to the invasion of the military personnel in his residence in Abia State. Abaribe represents Abia South Senatorial District at the NASS.

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