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Utomi reacts to reports Peter Obi asked supporters to charge fees for US meetings



A leader of National Consultative Front (NCF), Pat Utomi, has distanced himself and the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, from the controversial sale of tickets in the United States to support Mr Obi in the 2023 election.

Mr Obi, in a video posted on social media, last week said he would be a guest speaker at several events being organised by Nigerians in five U.S. states from 31 August to 3 September.

However, one of the flyers being distributed shows that the cheapest ticket to attend the Atlanta version of the meeting costs $250 (N175,000) while the VIP and Executive tickets cost $1,000 and $5,000 respectively.

The costs of the tickets attracted criticisms from some of Mr Obi’s supporters who had extolled his prudence and acclaimed love for a better Nigeria.

“Ordinary seat = $250, VIP seat = $1000, Executive seat = $5000.

“Peter Obi is just a clever man that knows he will not win and wants to use this election to cash out! Look at the prices he is charging. And he says he is for the poor! If you don’t have shishi, stay away!,” one of his strong critics and former presidential aide, Reno Omokri, said in a tweet in reaction to the development.

Responding to the question on the controversy on “Sunday Politics”, a programme aired on Channels Television, Mr Utomi said the LP presidential candidate knew nothing about the charges.

He said the money for tickets may be a way to cater for attendees breakfast or dinner but they definitely have no hand in it.

“We have been invited to an event, we don’t know what the mechanics are. You know, so, in America it is a tradition, if some people will give it breakfast or dinner, they may want to charge people that come to eat, but we have never not been associated with anything. We just get invited by Nigerian groups and we attend. So I don’t think that is an issue,” Mr Utomi said.

With reference to how Diaspora helped the historic change in Japan, India, among others, he said it would be unthoughtful not to engage Nigerians in Diaspora in Mr Obi’s mission to rescue Nigeria from the grip of its current leadership.

Given the precarious situation of the country’s economy, Mr Utomi noted that it is not the time to underrate the help Nigerians in Diaspora can offer through foreign remittances.

“When the time is right. The Diaspora will give money, they have always given money to campaigns. I have run for president as you know before and I got support from the Diaspora in 2006 and 2007, and then when I ran in 2011.

“When the time is right, we’re going to solicit obviously from Nigerians across the board. We are already setting up portals where people can give money,” he said.

He also dismissed speculations of disagreement between him and Mr Obi over campaign structures and funding ahead of the exercise.

The leadership of the LP recently rejected the choice of Charles Odigbo as spokesperson of Mr Obi’s presidential campaign team.

Mr Odigbo’s appointment was announced by Mr Utomi-led NCF at the unveiling of the LP media team in Lagos.

The group is an umbrella body of some Third Force parties jostling to end the political dominance of the ruling APC and its main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2023 General Elections.

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New State lawmaker appoints 14 aides



Ondo lawmaker Chris Ayebusiwa
A first–time Ondo lawmaker Chris Ayebusiwa has announced the appointment of 14 aides.

Seven of the newly appointees are to work as legislative aides while seven others would work at the Ward level of the party.

Ayebusiwa was among the 26 lawmakers that took oath of office into the 10th Assembly at the weekend.

He said the appointments was to ensure smooth running of office.

Among those appointed were: Monday Akinsulere as Senior Legislative Aide; Femi Olawoye as Personal Assistant; Morayo Itiolu as Special Assistant Women & Girl Child Affairs; Kehinde Akinyemi as Special Assistant, Media & Advocacy; Joshua Akindoyo as Special Assistant, Youth & Mobilisation; Ayo Olowoselu as Special Assistant, Special Duties and Osedele Gbenga as Special Assistant, Party Affairs.

Others are: Adebayo Saheed, Obolo Morenike, Idowu Fasalejo, Simeon Adedeji, Atinuke Arikawe, Koya Mewaye and Mrs Ayebuola.

He urged the appointees to put communal interest above their personal comfort and advised them to work toward achieving improved status for the constituency.

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Gunmen kidnap UNIZIK student



Revd. Fr. Stanislaus Mbamara, abducted
A student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State who is also a Catholic Priest, Revd. Fr. Stanislaus Mbamara, has been abducted by gunmen.

The student, who was abducted over the weekend, was said to be returning home from school when the gunmen ambushed and whisked him away to an unknown destination.

It was also gathered that the victim is a clergyman working with the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi.

Announcing the victim’s abduction in a press statement, the Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, Rev. Fr. Raphael Ezeogu identified the abducted priest as Rev. Fr. Stanislaus Mbamara.

He further called for insistent prayers to ensure the safety and immediate release of the abducted clergy.

“Our priest, Rev. Fr. Stanislaus Mbamara, a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, was kidnapped Friday evening, on his way from Awka to Nnewi.

“Let’s storm heaven with humble and insistent prayers for his quick release in sound health of mind and body. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Help of Christians, pray with and for us,” he said.

Efforts to receive the reaction of the Police Public Relations in Anambra State, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, proved abortive, as his phone number was not connecting.

It would be recalled that another UNIZIK student, Sylvester Mercy Chinomso (Mesi Sylvia) of the of Parasitology and Entomology Department, was sometime ago abducted  by unknown gunmen.  She was  abducted along with her sister.

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PSC to elevate junior Police lawyers, others



Dr Solomon Arase, Cheirman PSC

…Says Commission will review their status, place them properly

The Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Dr. Solomon Arase, former Inspector General of Police has promised to look into the status of qualified lawyers serving in the Nigeria Police Force and appearing in Courts with the ranks of Corporals, Sergeants and Inspectors.

He also said the cases of other junior Police Officers who acquired additional certificates in other disciplines while in service will also receive the attention of the Commission.

Dr. Arase noted that this will give the Officers the required self confidence to perform better.

He spoke in Abuja when he received in audience the leadership of the Unity Bar, (Nigerian Bar Association Abuja branch).
Bar. Afam Okeke Chairman of the Association who led the delegation had complained that Lawyers who came into the Police as Junior Officers but improved their qualifications are currently appearing and defending cases in Courts for the Nigeria Police Force but still wearing junior ranks.

The PSC Chairman told the delegation that the Commission may decide to send these categories of Police Lawyers and other junior Police Officers with additional qualifications on a short Service training after which they would be properly placed as Officers.

He said the Nigeria Police needs the services of more Lawyers stressing that the Commission will come out with a decision that will leave all parties in a win-win situation.

Dr. Arase used the opportunity of the courtesy visit to call on the Nigerian Bar Association to advise practising Lawyers to stop criminalising civil matters.

“It is wrong and should be discouraged, civil matters should be treated as civil matters and arbitration should serve the parties and the society better.

“We should avoid time wasting in criminalising civil matters and sending them to the Police when it can be better handled outside of the Police,” he noted.

Dr. Arase called for a robust legal system in Nigeria that inspires the citizens to seek for redress and justice. He noted that Offenders must be arrested and prosecuted to restore confidence in the system.

He informed his visitors that the Commission is setting up a Compliance Monitoring Unit to ensure the Police Complaints Response Units promptly attends to public complaints.

This new Unit, he said will be directly under his supervision for effectiveness and efficiency. The Commission according to him will henceforth ensure that it prevents a system that does not attend to public complaints.

Dr. Arase also spoke of the Commission’s desire to collaborate with the Nigeria Bar Association and organise some training programmes on human rights so as to expose its staff Lawyers to a better appreciation of its duties.

He promised the participation of the Commission and its Staff Lawyers in the Law Week of the Abuja branch and the National body’s convention in Abuja.

Bar. Okeke, the Chairman of the Unity Bar had earlier congratulated the PSC Chairman on his appointment and pledged the Union’s support.

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