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QuickRead: Plateau killings. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter



Gunmen last week killed over 190 people in coordinated attacks across 15 communities in Barkin-Ladi and Bokkos local government areas of Plateau State.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the same week invited the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, for questioning over an alleged N37 billion fraud in the ministry.

These and three other stories we tracked dominated public discourse in the country last week.

1. Plateau killings

On December 25, the Plateau State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang, confirmed the killing of several people in the state.

The governor disclosed this at a luncheon organised by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, for troops of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) in Mangu.

He said: “From intelligence reports available to me, at least 50 persons have been killed in Mangu and Bokkos in the last 48 hours.

“This is unacceptable. Enough is enough. These stupid, senseless, and unprovoked acts must stop.

“However, no amount of attacks will break the spirit of the Plateau people. We remain resolute and determined to progress as a people.”

Why it matters

The relentless attack on communities and other soft targets means that the government like the one before has no solution to the criminals’ onslaught against the Nigerian state.

The unfortunate killing of about 200 people in Plateau State not only illustrates the abysmal failure of the country’s security architecture but reinforces the assertion that nowhere may be safe in Nigeria.

Given the effortless ease with which the terrorists carried out the heinous activities, there are fears that the country is rapidly sliding into the class of a failed state unless the government comes up with an effective approach to check their threats, and fast too.

2. EFCC invites Buhari’s minister over alleged N37bn fraud
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The anti-graft agency on December 30 invited Umar-Farouq over an alleged N37 billion in her ministry.

In a document seen by journalists, the ex-minister is expected to appear at the EFCC office in Jabi, Abuja, on January 3, 2024, to explain the mystery behind the missing money.

It read: “The commission is investigating a case of money laundering involving the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development during your time as minister.

“Given the above, you are requested to kindly report for an interview with the undersigned scheduled as follows: Wednesday, 3rd of January, 2024. Time: 10:00 a.m.

“This request is made pursuant to Section 38 (I) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 & Section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”

Why it matters

The ex-minister’s invitation by the EFCC speaks to public officers’ penchant for breaching their oath of office, especially in the management of public resources.

In a country mired in corruption, a more punitive approach is required to deter public servants and their cronies who now see looting of public funds as a way of life from continuing with their enterprise.

3. Director’s corruption claim about Governors’ Forum
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The Director of Media and Public Affairs at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, on December 25 alleged fraud and recklessness at the forum’s secretariat.

In a letter addressed to the chairman of the NGF, AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, the director demanded an audit of the forum’s accounts.

He said the NGF was now more transactional than developmental.

The letter read: “The secretariat’s accounts have not been audited in the last decade, to say the least, that even the phony auditors invited to mock the auditing process have at various times confessed that the job they are doing for the secretariat is a wash.

“Has anyone ever wondered why an institution that midwife’s huge monetary deals like the Paris-London refunds does not have a qualified accountant?

“In an organisation that makes over three billion Naira annually, the total annual income of its entire staff is seventy million Naira. The staff of the Forum are always asking where all the money goes. There is a staff that earns N20,000 a month ($20).”

Why it matters

Bello-Barkindo’s position on the NGF is a sad reminder of the true state of the larger Nigerian society where corruption and other unacceptable conduct have become the new normal and right values eroded.

READ ALSO:QuickRead: Supreme Court ruling on Kanu. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter

It also confirms the widely held perception on the management of state resources by the governors, many of whom live in opulence while their subjects groan under harsh conditions induced by unfavourable policies.

Indeed, it brings home the question of accountability and whether public officials involved in barefaced corruption are being sufficiently punished as a deterrent to others.

4. Emefiele faults CBN investigator’s fraud claim

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on December 25 faulted the report of the special investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu to look into the activities of the apex bank under his watch.

The special investigator, Jim Obaze, had in his report claimed that the ex-CBN governor opened 593 bank accounts in the United States, United Kingdom, and China without the approval of the apex bank’s board.

He also alleged that Emefiele lodged £543,482,213 in fixed deposits in UK banks alone without authorisation.

However, in a statement he signed, the former CBN chief denied that he lodged £543,482,213 in fixed deposits in UK banks alone without authorisation among other allegations.

The statement read: “I have gone through the publications, and I say boldly that the contents of the said publications are false, misleading, and calculated to disparage my person, injure my character, and serve the selfish interest of the private investigator.”

Why it matters

While the investigator’s claim points to the perceived rot in the CBN under Emefiele’s watch, the onus lies on those who alleged to discharge the burden of proof in the ongoing case against the former Nigeria’s top banker.

Anything short of this will reinforce the assertion of the government’s desperation to nail Emefiele for contemplating the redesign of the naira notes a few weeks before a national election that involved the incumbent president.

5. Tinubu on out-of-school children

President Bola Tinubu on December 29 decried the alarming figure of out-of-school children in the country.

The president spoke when members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) visited him in Lagos.

He said: “We must address this issue (out-of-school children) by establishing more schools, recruiting teachers, and providing at least one meal a day for the school children. This will align with the progressive ideology we aim to pursue.”

Why it matters

The president’s remark points to the need for the government to quickly address the issue along with the twin problems of unemployment and poverty.

While the challenge persists, it can be safely assumed that the large army of out-of-school children together with unemployed youths across the country would become willing tools in the hands of desperate politicians and extremist groups as seen with Boko Haram and other criminal groups across the country.

By Hamed Shobiye

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