Conveners of International Witchcraft Conference billed to hold in Enough State Have vowed to proceed on holding the conference in spite the cancellation of the venue booked earlier for the conference after series of protests by students of University of Nigeria (UNN) an Chriatian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Director of the B.I.C. Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research, Professor Egodi Uchendu, while making this known, said the protest and campaign by the Christian Association of Nigeria and Christian students in the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka will not deter them from holding the academic conference.
“Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right. CAN and others are free to express their opinions just like we have the freedom to have an academic conference on witchcraft”, Mrs Uchendu, a professor of history said.
“I’m delighted that the conference is generating the debate it should across the nation. Nigerians should look critically into the subject of the conference and identify how it’s impeding our national existence and personal experience”.
Speaking further on the cancellation, Professor Uchendu said the booking for Energy Centre, as venue for the conference, billed to begin 26 November as centre owned by the Federal Government and domiciled in the UNN.
Prof Uchendu said; “UNN DID NOT deny us use of Energy Centre, Energy Centre did. Energy Centre is a Federal organ domiciled in UNN.
The conference on witchcraft has generated controversy since it was announced that it would take place in UNN, Nsukka.
Students, believing that witches and wizards would descend on UNN during the conference, printed posters decrying the plan.
They were purportedly joined by the Christian Association of Nigeria, which escalated the opposition and urged Christians in the South East zone to embark on prayers to dissuade the organisers from holding the conference.
Chairman of CAN in the South-East zone, Bishop Dr Goddy Okafor demanded that the programme be called off immediately.
“I call on all heads of Blocks, state chairmen and other stakeholders of Christian Association of Nigeria, South-East zone to take up aggressive prayers against the planned convention of witches and wizards slated to hold on November 26 at UNN.
“I hereby direct all Christian Churches in South East of Nigeria to take up lamentation and pray against this evil movement in all our churches this coming Sunday.
“I also call upon all Christian Campus Fellowship Groups and other Christian Students’ Associations to join in this effort and stand up for JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD against this evil development in South East Of NIGERIA.”
“This convention is not of God and must not hold in Jesus name. Exodus 22:18 says, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’ “, he added.
Obanikoro Testifies Against Fayose, Says Ex-Ekiti Gov Got N1.2bn For Election
A former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, on Wednesday, narrated to a Federal High Court in Abuja how N1.219bn cash was airlifted to support the election of a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose.
According to him, the inability of a defunct bank, Diamond Bank, to handle huge amount of money prompted the airlifting of the money.
Fayose and Spotless Investment Limited are standing trial on 11 charges bordering on money laundering and stealing to the tune of N6.9 billion.
Led in evidence by the counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Wahab Shittu (SAN), Obanikoro explained that the money came from the former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (retd.), adding that only he could explain its source.
He added that he only got the information about the money from Dasuki, saying that it was the former NSA who told him that the said money had been paid into the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Limited.
Obanikoro said, “I was a minister under Jonathan’s administration in 2014. Sometime in 2014, we were going to have an election in Ekiti State. I was saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the activities in the election.
“Some days before the election, I got a call from Gov. Fayose asking me if I received any message for him from ONSA, I can recall that prior to that, we had some activities among which was fundraising for that election.”
He also denied taking out the money as speculated in a report by an online media platform.
READ ALSO: Bauchi SEC Approves N300bn 2024 Budget
Obanikoro said, “When Mr. Fayose called, I told him I would call him later. I had a call conversation with the NSA and was told he would get back to me. After, he got back to me that N2.2 billion was paid into the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Lomited..
“The money came came from the NSA. Only the NSA can explain the source of the fund.
The bank lacked the capacity to handle the situation. It was a last-minute decision- to ferry the money to Ekiti.
“I handed over the cash to Agbele for onward delivery to Fayose. I did not take any money or N19 million, contrary to the publication by a Lagos-based online platform.”
When asked about his relationship with Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, Obanikoro said the account was initially opened to tackle terrorism in Lagos after which it was used to disburse funds for elections.
He said, “The account was created to deal with the issue of Boko Haram in Lagos, the account was created by Taiwo Kareem, and the account was used for the purpose of disbursing funds for election.
“I put a call through to let Fayose know that the money had been paid. Diamond Bank had said it did not have the capacity to make the funds available, so we opted to airlift the fund. The funds were airlifted from Lagos in two tranches, the volume was much.”
After listening to Obanikoro’s testimony, the presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba adjourned the case till February 27, 2024.
Northern Elders Forum Gets New Spokesman
The Northern Elders Forum has appointed Abdul-Azeez Suleiman as its new spokesman, following the exit of Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.
The PUNCH reports that Baba-Ahmed was appointed by President Bola Tinubu, as the Special Adviser On Political issues in the office of Vice-President Kashim Shettima.
Until his appointment, Suleiman was the spokesman for the Coalition of Northern Groups which comprises over 50 civil society organisations in the 19 northern states and Abuja.
NEF’s Convener, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, in the appointment letter he personally signed, said Suleiman’s appointment was a reflection of his contributions towards promoting and protecting the interests of the North and Nigeria.
Abdullahi, a former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said, “I am pleased to inform you that I have approved the recommendation to appoint you as the spokesperson for the Northern Elders Forum.
“Your appointment is a reflection of your unwavering dedication and contributions towards promoting and protecting the interests of the North and Nigeria as a whole, during your time with the Coalition of Northern Groups.
“Furthermore, your extensive experience in credible, fearless, selfless, and ethical journalism, also contributes to making you a great fit for this role.
“The NEF hopes that you will utilise your exceptional qualities and experience to enhance NEF’s activities and promote its image through cooperation with its directors and other members of the Forum.
“Congratulations on your appointment, and we look forward to the incredible value you will bring to the NEF.”
Bauchi SEC Approves N300bn 2024 Budget
The Bauchi State Executive Council (SEC) has approved the medium term expenditure of about N300 billion for the 2024 physical year.
Mr Aminu Hammayo, the Bauchi state Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, disclosed this while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the State Executive Council (SEC) meeting on Wednesday.
According to him, the budget estimate was made on the basis of certain assumptions like increase in oil production capacity, increase in Value Added Tax.
Other assumptions he said included the impact of the withdrawal of oil subsidy as there had been an increase in the amount of revenues accrued into the federation account as well as the increase in the cost of goods and services.
“The budget estimate for the year 2024 is about N300 billion and we have a proportion of about 58.8 per cent allocated for capital expenditure and about 41.2 per cent for recurrent expenditure.
“This means the emphasis is basically on capital expenditure so as to generate more revenue in the future.
“This budget estimate is going to be presented as a bill to the state House of Assembly and after the presentation, we will still come back to where there will be a budget briefing to give the details of what the budget is all about,” he said.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr Usman Garba, explained that a decision had been taken to create a Ministry of Regional Integration so that the problems and challenges of the people would further be attended to.
He said that this decision was taken during the Northeast Governors Forum meeting held in Yola, Adamawa state on Saturday.
“Here in Bauchi state, the governor has decided to merge this new ministry with the ministry of Higher Education.
“So, what we have now is the Ministry of Higher Education and Regional Integration,” he said.
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