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The Big 5: President Buhari explains why he delays visiting violence-hit areas, EFCC secures warrant to arrest House Minority Leader and other stories

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These are the top stories you should be monitoring today.

President Muhammadu Buhari told critics of his delayed visit to trouble spots on Monday that he has his way of monitoring developments instead of “rushing” to crises spots and “making noise”.

I am here (Taraba) to meet with the leadership of the state, to offer my condolences to those who lost loved ones and properties in violence.

People, sometimes expect me to rush out to the fields, to go and make noise.

But I have my ways of gathering intelligence. I get to know what is happening across the country without necessarily going to those areas.

I will be going to Benue and Zamfara after I return from Ghana to also condole with the people,” Buhari said.

The United States has described the abduction of 110 Dapchi schoolgirls as “horrendous, unacceptable and terrible”.

The Department of State officials stated America’s position Monday during a background briefing ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first trip to Africa.

Tillerson is due to meet with President Buhari and leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya between March 6 and 13.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has secured a warrant from a court to arrest the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Leo Ogor, over alleged 20 constituency projects, which were tagged as “suspiciously unexecuted”.

The anti-graft agency may effect the arrest of the Minority Leader any moment from now, following alleged failure to appear for interrogation.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as fictitious the claim by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that it spends N24 billion monthly and N774 million daily on subsidising pump price of fuel for Nigerians.

It said it was “cleverly fabricated to retire the already exposed stealing of trillions of Naira by Presidency cabal and APC interests in secret oil deals“.

The PDP said it is duplicitous for the NNPC to claim a sudden surge in fuel purchase expenses at the same time that the nation faced the “harshest fuel shortage across the country with Nigerians paying exorbitantly for the product.”

The serving overseer of Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare has disclosed plans to form a political movement to champion the restructuring of Nigeria.

Bakare who was an ally of President Buhari and served as his running mate in the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), said the new movement named, ‘New Nigeria Progressive Movement’ would fight to entrench true federalism in the country.

And stories from around the world…

A man who is critically ill after being exposed to an unknown substance in Wiltshire is a Russian national convicted of spying for Britain, the BBC reports.

Sergei Skripal, 66, was granted refuge in the UK following a “spy swap” between the US and Russia in 2010.

He and a woman, 33, were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping centre in Salisbury on Sunday.

The leader of Zimbabwe‘s newest political party has met with Robert Mugabe, leading to speculation about whether the former president is really done with politics.

Retired Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri says he visited the politician at home to update him on his new role as presidential candidate for the National Patriotic Front (NPF), which is made up of former Zanu-PF members who were ousted alongside Mugabe in November.

At least 77 people have been killed in the besieged Syrian enclave of eastern Ghouta on Monday; the deadliest day for civilians there since the UN security council demanded an immediate ceasefire and Russia’s president ordered a daily five-hour truce in the area.

A further 12 people were killed on Sunday but their bodies were only recovered on Monday, doctors said.

The intense violence continued despite the arrival of a humanitarian convoy in the enclave, two weeks into a renewed regime offensive that has killed more than 700 civilians.

France plans to make 15 the age of sexual consent after a public outcry over two cases of sex involving 11-year-old girls, equality minister Marlène Schiappa said on Monday.

After public consultations and the recommendation of a panel of experts, “the government has decided to set the age at 15”, Schiappa told AFP.

Theresa May’s chances of securing a deep free-trade deal with the EU was dealt a blow when Stefaan de Rynck, the main adviser to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, stressed that the rules of the single market required far more than her chief proposal – a mutual recognition of standards.

May claimed in her speech last Friday that the UK could negotiate a future trade relationship based on mutual recognition of standards overseen by a third party court, made up of EU and UK nominees.

Read » The Big 5: President Buhari explains why he delays visiting violence-hit areas, EFCC secures warrant to arrest House Minority Leader and other stories on YNaija

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