•  Dismisses alleged assassination plot against governor
  •  Rivers gov: FG has no regard for human life

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Wednesday declared that but for the immunity enjoyed by the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, he would have been a guest of the law enforcement agents by now.

Mohammed, who made this remark while responding to a question after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wike’s allegation that the federal government was plotting to kill him, said immunity was the reason Wike was not already answering questions over the allegation.

According to him, when he (Mohammed) had made a similar allegation in the past, he immediately became a guest of the police at the Nigeria Police Force headquarters, saying Wike’s case would not have been any different.

“As to the question about the allegation by the governor of Rivers State that he has information that he will be assassinated by the federal government in a crowd, I think one of the beauties of being a governor is that you enjoy immunity from prosecution and arrest.

“I remember a couple of years ago when I made similar allegations, I was invited to Force Headquarters,” he said.

Mohammed also responded to a question on why the Minister of Mines and Steel, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had not resigned from the cabinet despite his promise that he would resign this week.

Fayemi, who recently became the governorship candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Ekiti gubernatorial election, is required to resign from the cabinet.

Responding to the question, Mohammed said it was too early to draw a conclusion that Fayemi failed to keep his word because the week was yet to end.

“I think I read it just like you that he will resign this week. If he did say so, today is just Wednesday. I think we still have the rest of the week to see if he will resign.

“But I think really he is the best person that can speak on it,” the information minister said.

Mohammed, who also gave a briefing on behalf of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said FEC approved a contract award for the construction of the Ila-Orangun-Ilale road in Osun State meant to link Ekiti and other South-west states.

According to him, the 34-kilometre road project taken over from the Osun State Government by the federal government would cost N5.195 billion.

Also, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said FEC was briefed on the GDP figures for the first quarter of 2018, which showed that the economy grew at 1.95 per cent.

Udoma said the report on the economy was received with excitement by the cabinet.

According to him, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report which showed a fall from the 2.1 per cent GDP growth rate in the preceding quarter, also showed that the government would meet its target growth of 3.5 per cent for 2018.

Udoma said the report also showed that there was progress in major economic indices, as the quarter witnessed a reduction in the inflation rate, growth in foreign reserves and stable exchange rate.

He also said with more investments in infrastructure, more jobs would be created.

However, he did not confirm a comment credited to him at the weekend that President Muhammadu Buhari would not sign the recently passed 2018 budget by the National Assembly because it was increased by over N500 billion.

According to him, the 2018 Appropriation Bill as passed by the legislature was yet to be transmitted to the executive by the National Assembly, so no comment could be made on a document that was yet to be seen.

In his briefing, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said FEC ratified a protocol to eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco.

The minister said by the decision, Nigeria joined 34 other countries, which had signed the protocol, noting that it would help in controlling smuggling and consumption of the product.

He also said the protocol would assist the country in raising taxes on tobacco and minimising its negative effects on people’s health.

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, said FEC also approved the construction of a technology building for the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to accommodate a data communication command control centre.

However, in a swift riposte to the federal government’s dismissal of the alleged threat to his life, Wike said Wednesday that Nigerian citizens were being killed daily in the country because the federal government “does not care about the protection of lives and property”.

In a statement by Simeon Nwakaudu, the governor’s media aide, Wike said it was unfortunate that the federal government had decided to trivialise an issue of this sensitive nature.

Wike said because the federal government had relegated the sanctity of human lives, that is “why they keep giving conflicting reasons for the security challenges that have led to wanton killings in different parts of the country”.

“They don’t care about the issue of protection of lives and property. That is why people are killed in their numbers every day.

“But I will not be slaughtered easily. They will not succeed in their plot,” Wike said.

The governor expressed shock that rather than indicating that the weighty intelligence report on the plot to assassinate a sitting governor would be duly investigated, the Minister of Information had struggled to trivialise the matter.

He said there are laid down constitutional processes for handling weighty issues of this nature, pointing out that it was “unfortunate that the federal government has deliberately refused to follow the constitutional path”.