Presidency: Buhari Not Travelling to UK, Saudi Arabia, Austria

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Femi Adesina

•Says president didn’t accuse Borno residents of colluding with Boko Haram

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The presidency yesterday asked Nigerians to ignore “fake news” circulating on the social media that President Muhammadu Buhari had concluded plans to embark on foreign trips to the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Austria respectively.

It also denied reports that Buhari accused residents of Borno State of colluding with Boko Haram.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, described the claim as fake news and concocted information.

He said the purveyors of the fake news claimed that Buhari would first travel to the UK for 20 days after which he would proceed to Saudi Arabia and later to Austria.

Adesina who advised Nigerians to desist from further sharing the false information on social media, said members of the president’s family, ministers, the military and some government officials had also been victims of the alleged falsehood.

The statement read: “Purveyors of fake and concocted information are currently on overdrive, and Nigerians are urged to be careful what they consume as news, and also share with others, particularly from the social media.

“An unfounded information has been making the rounds that President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to travel to the United Kingdom for 20 days and from there proceed to Saudi Arabia and then Austria. “Fake. It is nothing but falsehood from mischievous minds.

“Members of the first family, ministers, top government officials, the military, and other key institutions, are equally objects of this orchestrated falsehood, coming from enemies of national cohesion.

“We urge Nigerians to be discriminatory about what they accept as credible information and restrain themselves from sharing what they have not authenticated as genuine. That is how we can all collectively beat the malevolent minds at their pernicious games.”

Buhari  last week returned to the country from a trip to Ethiopia where he attended the African Union (AU) summit and flew directly to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, on a condolence visit over the recent killings in the state.

About 30 travellers were killed in attacks on Auno, a location just 25 kilometres to Maiduguri, last week.

Buhari had last month returned to Nigeria from the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020, which held in London from January 17.

During the trip, the president met with British Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson, and briefed him about developments in Nigeria.

He told Johnson about the efforts of his administration in the agricultural sector, saying it has led almost to self-sufficiency in rice and other grains production.

According to him, Nigeria has saved billions of naira in foreign exchange and the efforts are now deployed in other areas of development.

On the war against insurgency, Buhari had said things were a lot better, stressing that the Nigerian government is making efforts to disabuse the minds of the people on the true philosophy of Boko Haram.

Meanwhile, the Presidency has also denied that the president accused residents of Borno State of colluding with Boko Haram.

Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garuba Shehu, said this yesterday on NTA’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme.

Buhari had at a sympathy visit to Maiduguri last week stated, “Boko Haram or whatever they are cannot come to Maiduguri or its environs without the local leadership knowing, the local leadership is in charge of security in their own respective areas.

But Shehu said the president’s words were misrepresented, adding that he also received a backlash on the social media because of the comment.

The president’s spokesman said: “I am happy that Isa (Gusau) raised the issue. When the president left Maiduguri, he stressed the need for more intelligence and more support for security and we received a backlash on the social media that the president had raised questions about the commitment of the people of Borno in the war against insurgency.

“Never would the president have said such a thing. But as I just said, quality intelligence is a condition sine qua non for the success of any war.”

The Special Adviser to the Borno State Governor on Public Relations and Strategy, Mr. Isa Gusau, who was also on the same programme with Shehu, faulted the allegations by the president that Boko Haram was succeeding due to the collaboration of residents.

South-west States to Hold Public Hearings on Amotekun Bill

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Houses of Assembly in the six states of the South-west will hold separate public hearings on a bill for the establishment of a joint security outfit for the region, Operation Amotekun.

The public hearings, it was gathered, was fixed for February 24 at a meeting of the Speakers of the Houses of Assembly of the six states.

According to an advertorial signed by the Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of South-West State Legislatures, Hon. Bamidele Oleyelogun, said, “After an exhaustive deliberation, the conference resolved that, as a matter of urgency, all the State Houses of Assembly should commence action on the process of passage of the (Amotekun) bill into law.

“The conference, also in this regard, mandated all the State Houses of Assembly to simultaneously hold public hearings on the bill in their respective states on Monday, 24th February 2020.

“The Conference of Speakers of South-West Legislatures urges all the people of the South-West to attend and make meaningful contributions to the bill that regulates the protection of lives and property in our states.”

The advertorial added that after the public hearings, the six speakers would reconvene and meet with Attorneys General from the states “to address all conflicting areas and to review the contents of the reports generated at the public hearing for harmonisation into the proposed law”.

While the conference of the South-West speakers said a public hearing on the proposed law would hold on Monday, the status of the bill differed in the six South-West states.

The Ekiti State House of Assembly had passed the bill on Friday, while the Osun State House of Assembly yesterday commenced work on the Amotekun bill.

The lawmakers later received the bill from Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and it scaled the first reading.

Also, the Ondo State House of Assembly said yesterday that it was ready to start legislative process on the passing of the bill known as the Ondo State Security Bill.

The lawmakers had last Wednesday received the bill from the State Executive Council.

However, the lawmakers are currently on recess but the Director of Information Service of the Assembly, Mr.  Sehinde Falokun, has hinted that the lawmakers would cut short their holiday and reconvene today (Tuesday) to work on the bill.

While the Oyo State House of Assembly will hold public hearing tomorrow, the Ogun State House of Assembly has fixed today (Tuesday) for the commencement of the hearing of the bill.

The Lagos State House of Assembly is on recess and would resume in March.