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General News of Thursday, 28 July 2022


Impeachment Threat: Presidency attacks opposition senators while Lai Mohammed adopts conciliatory tone

President Muhammadu Buhari President Muhammadu Buhari

The presidency has described as ‘ridiculous’, the threat by opposition senators to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari if he does not check the worsening security situation across the country.

Senators from opposition political parties staged a walkout from the Senate plenary on Wednesday after Senate President Ahmad Lawan refused to entertain discussion on a motion to mandate Mr Buhari to improve the security situation in six weeks or be impeached.

Killings and kidnappings have become the norm in many parts of Nigeria under Mr Buhari.

After their walkout, the aggrieved lawmakers told journalists that they had agreed with their colleagues from the ruling party, APC, at a closed-door session, that the president would be given the six weeks ultimatum.

In its response in a statement Wednesday evening, presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu described the actions of the opposition lawmakers as ‘babyish’ and the impeachment motion as ‘ridiculous’.

“The performative and babyish antics of those senators staging a walk out notwithstanding, Senate President Ahmad Lawan’s refusal on Wednesday to entertain the ridiculous motion to impeach our President was quite appropriate and correct,” Mr Shehu wrote.

“Rather than making a mockery out of voters by trying to imitate what they see in America, the opposition would be well advised that their time would be better spent tackling the pressing issues Nigerians face, such as the current global cost of living crisis.

“Their continued failure to do so goes some way to explaining why they remain in opposition.

“In contrast, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is committed to finding lasting solutions to the emerging security threats, including those left behind by the PDP in the South-South, the Northeast and throughout the federation. In the last 24 hours, two more Chibok girls were freed, in addition to the three brought home last week.”

Mr Shehu described the action of the lawmakers as ‘headline grabbing stunts’ for which the opposition is now well known.

“We would respectfully remind them that it is those same constituents that they were elected to serve, and are paid to do so with public money.

“We would welcome their collaboration in our efforts to solve the problems Nigerians face on a daily basis. No one is asking them to waste their time attempting to impeach a democratically elected President at the end of his second term – certainly not their constituents.

“They should ask themselves: do they want to be in government or do they want to be in the headlines? If they want to be in government they should start acting like it and stop undermining Nigerian voters,” he wrote.

Lai Mohammed

In his reaction, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, adopted a more conciliatory tone, saying there was no need for any ultimatum, as all is being done to address the security problem in the country.

The minister, who was responding to questions by State House Correspondents after Wednesday’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, however lauded the senators for their patriotism and concerns, saying steps are being taken to address them.

“… we thank them for their patriotism and their concern, but we are working round the clock, 24 hours, to ensure that the situation is brought under control,” Mr Mohammed said.

“I want to assure you that the president is aware of all these and as a matter of fact, I think tomorrow there’s going to be another security council meeting. So, it’s not a matter the president is taking lightly and like I’ll always, say some of the measures we are going to take are not measures that you can discuss openly here, but we’re as concerned as you are, we’re not going to abandon our responsibility.”

The minister also described the reported threat by terrorists to kidnap the president as laughable and a mere propaganda.

“As to those who have issued threats to Mr President, I think it’s more of propaganda than anything. It’s laughable,” he said.

Asylum Seekers

Mr Mohammed also said that the council approved a memo by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, for a standard operation procedure on maintaining the civilian and humanitarian character of asylum seekers in Cameroon.

According to him, “You all know that due to the insurgency in Cameroon, Nigeria has witnessed an influx of Cameroonian asylum seekers and there are basic standard procedures for you to be granted status as an asylum seeker

“This is what the council considered and approved today. And basically is that anybody from Cameroon who is seeking asylum in Nigeria must first convinced the authorities that he or she has actually renounced armed struggle, before you can even be considered as an asylum seeker.

“Also they are cases of some of them who have come even when they claim to have surrendered their arms, go back at times, to join the separatist movement in Cameroon. So, the procedure was explained and approved today that will evaluate the basic criteria to grant asylum.”

He said with the security challenges in some parts of the country, government was taking the step, to ensure that insurgents or terrorists do not take advantage of asylum to infiltrate Nigeria.

“The issue of the standard operating procedure for asylum seekers from Cameroon is not a matter that started today. The issue of the separatist movement in Cameroon is many years old and every day, because of the proximity of Cameroon to Nigeria, we’ve witnessed an influx of refugees, seeking asylum, and under international regulations, there are certain procedures you must take for asylum seekers.

“So, all we have done today is to establish the standard procedure to ensure that those who claim to be asylum seekers are actually not insurgents themselves that have come to destabilize Nigeria or people who will come and be launching attacks against their own country from the comfort of Nigeria,” he said.

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