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JUST IN: Tunji-Ojo Shuns CCB Invite

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The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has shunned an invitation by the Code of Conduct Bureau over an ongoing investigation bordering on alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for public officers.

The PUNCH correspondent who was at the CCB headquarters, Federal Secretariat, Abuja on Tuesday, observed that the minister, who was scheduled to meet with interrogators at 11am, did not show up at the bureau between 10am and 1pm.

Confirming the development in a telephone interview on Tuesday, the spokesperson for the CCB, Veronica Kato, said the minister’s interrogation would be rescheduled for a later date following his memo to the bureau citing national assignment.

“Yes, the minister’s interrogation has been rescheduled. He wrote, asking that it be rescheduled because he has a national assignment, so it has been rescheduled for a later date,” Kato said.

When asked about the next scheduled date, she said there was no specific date yet.

We don’t have a precise date now, but it has been rescheduled to another day,” she said.

READ ALSO: CCB Invites Tunji-Ojo Over Alleged N438m Contract Scam

The CCB had invited the embattled minister over the involvement of his company in a ₦438 million contract with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

The company, New Planet Projects, allegedly belonging to the minister, benefitted from a contract from the ministry.

A document exclusively obtained by our correspondent on Monday revealed that the CCB invited the minister to appear before it on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, at the CCB headquarters, Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja.

The document signed by Gwimi S.P, the CCB Director, Investigation and Monitoring, on behalf of the CCB Chairman, Murtala Aliyu, revealed that the bureau’s invitation is hinged on its mandate and powers as enshrined in the Third Schedule, Part 1, 3 (e) of the 1999 Constitution.

READ ALSO: Edo Poll: APC Chairman, Imuse Resigns

The letter addressed to the minister, read, “The bureau is investigating a case of alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers in which your name featured prominently. Consequently, you are invited for an interview scheduled as follows:

“Date: Tuesday, 16th January, 2024. Time: 1100hrs prompt. Venue: CCB Headquarters on 5th Floor, Annex III, Phase I, Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja.

“This invitation is pursuant to the mandate and powers of the Bureau as enshrined in the Third Schedule, Part I, Paragraph 3 (e) to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. Please be properly guided.”

Meanwhile, some interest groups, the Coalition of Civil Rights Organisations and Elite Africa, have defended the allegations against the embattled minister, while alleging media trial and accusing his opponents of being unhappy with his ‘growing popularity’.

In a statement on Monday, CCRO said, “The Coalition of Civil Rights Organisations unequivocally wishes to debunk the purported invitation of the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, by the Code of Conduct Bureau over alleged corruption.

“This latest report by a section of the media is another in the series of the campaign of calumny which has recently been orchestrated by sponsored propagandists who are mainly out to discredit the radical transformation, being undertaken by Tunji-Ojo, and by extension, to undermine the achievements of President Bola Tinubu.

READ ALSO: Edugate: Presidency Speaks On Tinubu Reshuffling Cabinet

“There is no doubt that the timing and nature of these allegations appear suspicious and politically motivated, aiming to tarnish the reputation of a public servant known for his commitment to transparency and accountability.

“We have thoroughly examined the circumstances surrounding the purported invitation by the CCB and find them to lack credible evidence, resembling a smear campaign rather than a genuine pursuit of justice. We want to strongly believe, that if perhaps, there is a need for any conversation or interrogation to be conducted by the CBB, how did such become a media affair, if it is not a smear campaign, like we suspected?”

The second group, Elite Africa, in a statement, attacked the South West Integrity Group for demanding the suspension of Tunji-Ojo over alleged corruption.

The statement read in part, “The South West Integrity Group, in a publication, had stated that Tunji-Ojo should resign over his alleged involvement in the recent controversy in the award of contracts at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

“The timing of these allegations, coupled with the sweeping reforms he has instituted, raises eyebrows. It seems certain elements within the political landscape are uneasy with Tunji-Ojo’s unyielding stance against corruption.

“His track record of dismantling established systems of exploitation has made him a thorn in the side of those who thrived on malfeasance.”

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Terrorism: Court Frees Rivers APC Chieftain After Two Years

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A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has discharged and acquitted a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and Deputy Chairman of Youth Movement in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, Chief Fubara Ohaka, of charges filed against him by the Federal government.

Ohaka had been standing trial on six counts of alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering, terrorism, dealing in illegal refining products without a licence, and conspiracy among other charges preferred against him since 2022 by the Federal government through the Department of State Services.

Delivering judgment in the matter, the trial judge, Justice Stephen Dalyop-Pam, held that the Federal Government failed to provide evidence to back its claims, hence failing to prove its allegations against the defendant.

READ ALSO: Rivers Eders Drag Tinubu, Others To Court Over Peace Agreement

Our correspondent reports that Justice Dalyop-Pam agreed on no-case submission by the counsel for the defendant and thereby discharged and acquitted him.

Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, Ohaka expressed happiness that he has been vindicated, saying the judgment has put shame on the faces of all those who conspired to tarnish his image.

He said, “I’m happy that the judiciary has vindicated me today. I told the world that I never had any idea of the allegations against me, I am not a bunker, I have never sponsored any person to do bunkering,

READ ALSO: Fresh Bill Seeks Creation Of Three States

“Thanks to the judiciary who in its wisdom have reached to the root of the matter and proven to be the last hope of the common man.

“I want to thank those who stood by me in the time of trial, I’m happy that I never disappeared from them when I was told I was innocent of the allegations against me.

“Let me also use this medium to advise government agencies to always carry out proper investigation before engaging in legal battles, because if they had I would not have spent the number of months I spent in detention before the legal action that turned out in my favour today.”

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NLC Insists On Planned Protest, Knocks DSS

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has insisted that the planned protests against the prevailing economic situation in the country will hold contrary to the warning issued by the Department of State Services to shelve its protests.

The organised labour, on Monday, began mobilising its members for a nationwide protest slated for February 27 and 28 over the cost of living crisis in the country.

The Federal Government’s failure to fulfil its promises after the 14-day ultimatum by Labour, according to sources, will be met with a two-day nationwide protest already slated for February 27 and 28.

Reacting to the planned protests in a statement on Wednesday, the DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, urged the union to shelve the plan in the interest of peace and public order.

READ ALSO: Economic Hardship: CSO Gives FG Ultimatum, Threatens Nationwide Protest

The Secret Service urged the union to pursue dialogue and negotiation rather than engage in conduct that could heighten tensions.

However, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday evening, noted that the protests will still hold and questioned why the DSS had yet to execute the arrest of those planning to disrupt the protests.

We are concerned by the unsolicited advice of the Department of State Security to shelve our planned protest against the unprecedented high cost of living despite the indescribable suffering in the land, spiralling inflation, deepening poverty and the Naira at an exchange rate of N1,900 to the US Dollar.

“According to the Service, the planned protest should be shelved ‘in the interest of peace and public order’, pre-supposing that the action is intended to be violent and disruptive even when we have a history of peaceful protests’.

“More worrying is the new role the Service has assigned to itself, the chief spokesperson of the government.

READ ALSO: Obasanjo Advocates Law To Curb Organ Trafficking

“We are equally worried that although the “Service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence and yet have not executed the arrest of these elements,” the NLC president said.

Ajaero noted that the NLC will not compromise the sovereignty or security of the country while assuring that the protests would be peaceful.

We are equally intrigued by the innuendos of the Service, their philosophy of “peace” and wild allegations and we want to reassure them that no one loves this country more than us and on our honour, we would never do anything that will compromise its sovereignty or security.

“Having said this, we would not have ourselves blackmailed or lied against by the Service. Our protest is a peaceful one against the unpardonable cost of living of which the unserviced personnel of the Service are also victims.

“We cannot fold our hands and pretend all is well. That will be a grievous conspiracy that history will not forgive,” he said.

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VIDEO: Give Tinubu Time To Get Things Done, Gowon Begs Nigerians

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A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), has urged Nigerians to exercise patience with President Bola Tinubu’s administration, emphasizing that it’s premature to anticipate flawless outcomes at this stage.

Gowon spoke in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with Tinubu on Wednesday.

The former Head of State, who noted that he was visiting Tinubu for the first time after the latter’s inauguration, disclosed that discussions revolved around matters concerning peace and security within the West African sub-region.

Responding to inquiries about his advice to the President regarding the prevailing national circumstances, Gowon acknowledged the existing challenges but stressed that it’s too early to anticipate perfection.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Tinubu In Talks with Gowon At Aso Rock Villa

He said, “I was telling him that there’s no Nigerian leader that can get there, that will not get all of these, all that is being said about him. But certainly, there is no doubt about all that one has heard and seen from various media. I think the government is trying its best to deal with the various problems of the country.

“But with Nigerians, don’t worry, you will get criticised but people who get there know better than you know. I think all one can say to Nigerians is that they have to give the President time to get things done and it is too early to sort of say a perfect result will be achieved. That is my opinion.

“At least, if I remembered, I was told that I was too slow, fighting the war and that probably Nigeria would not make it and we should seek for discussion. Well, did we do it or not? They probably did not know the problem there on the ground there.”

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