Supreme Court sacks Niger Senator

Supreme court sacks Umaru, declares Musa senator for Niger East

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie,

The Supreme Court, yesterday, declared Alhaji Mohammed Sani Musa winner of the Niger East Senatorial election. The apex court also set aside the April 8 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which declared the ex-chairman of Senate Committee on Justice, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru, the valid candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and winner of the election.
In a unanimous judgment, the five-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, upheld arguments by Musa’s legal team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to the effect that Musa, the actual candidate for the election, won the APC primary election.

The apex court upheld the appeal filed by Musa and affirmed the February 7 judgment by Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared Musa the validly nominated candidate of the APC for the election.

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, in the lead judgment, faulted the Court of Appeal’s finding that the case was statute barred. Justice Ariwoola upheld Olanipekun’s argument that the suit was filed at the trial court within time and that the Court of Appeal was in error to have held that the cause of action was the outcome of the primary election, saying the course of action, as argued by the appellant, was the submission of Umaru’s name to INEC, instead of Musa, who won the primary.

Olanipekun, who led Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN), for the appellant, had, while arguing the appeal on May 17, prayed the court to uphold the appeal and restore the judgment of the Federal High Court in favour of the appellant, arguing that the Court of Appeal was in error when it held that the appellant was out of time and that the cause of action arose from the day the primary was held.

Olanipekun said: “The appellant could not have complained about the primary election that he won. The cause of action accrued when the first respondent’s name (Umaru) was sent to INEC as the candidate of APC. The cause of action arose when the APC sent the name of the first respondent (Umaru) to INEC as its candidate, instead of the appellant who won the primary.

“The primary election was conducted on October 2, 2018, the 14 days could not have started counting, because the name of the first respondent has not been sent to INEC. “If the 14 days is calculated from their position that the cause of action arose from October 2, 2018 when the primary was held, the cause of action would not have arisen as at October 16, 2018. The cause of action only arose on October 18, when the first respondent’s name was sent to INEC and we are within time when we filed our suit at the trial court on October 26, 2018.”

Olanipekun noted that the Court of Appeal only set aside the judgment, but failed to upturn any of the findings of the trial court in the judgment of February 7. Both Babatunde Ogala, who represented the APC, and Taminu Inuwa (SAN), who represented INEC, urged the court to allow the appeal. After the February 7 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Umaru approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which reversed the trial court judgment and declared him winner. Aggrieved by the decision, Musa appealed to the Supreme Court, an appeal that was upheld yesterday.

Source: The Guardian

Senate presidency: Five reasons why Lawan defeated Ndume

Senate presidency: Five reasons why Lawan defeated Ndume


by Praise Olowe

Senator Ahmed Lawan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday emerged President of the 9th Senate.

Lawan defeated Senator Ali Ndume with total votes of 79 to 28. Here is a look at five reasons why Lawan defeated Ndume:

· APC’s endorsement

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC met with governors and members of the National Assembly elected on the platform of the party on Monday in Abuja to endorse candidates for positions of the Senate President, Speaker and their deputies.

The forum endorsed Senator Ahmed Lawan as Senate President. It is safe to say that the endorsement of Lawan could have influenced his victory.

Unlike 2015, the endorsement worked because the party didn’t stop at that. It mobilised all forces to make sure the endorsement worked.

Read Also: Lawan floors Ndume to emerge Senate President
· Buhari’s intervention

On Thursday 6th June, President Muhammadu Buhari met with Senators Danjuma Goje and Ahmed Lawan. After the closed-door meeting with the President, Goje withdrew from the race making, the road clearer for Lawan’s victory.

As against 2015, the President took the bull by the horn, ensuring he neutralised almost all the oppositions, cementing his status as a father figure in the party.

· Wide consultation

The same Lawan was endorsed in 2015 by APC but didn’t do much. He, more or less, trusted the party to ensure his victory. But this time around, he didn’t bank on the endorsement alone. He went round the nation, speaking to stakeholders and lobbying senators to support him.

He was able to rally round key forces to make his ambition a reality.

· Disaffections with Ndume

Most People’s Democratic Party (PDP) senators, somehow couldn’t trust Ndume with their votes. The 28 votes he garnered clearly indicate all PDP members didn’t vote for him despite his endorsement by the NWC of the party.

Ndume, to many of them, is never a good alternative to Lawan. He was in the PDP some years ago and they believe he may just be a sell-out.

· PDP’s late moves

PDP endorsed Senator Alli Ndume late. It was only on Tuesday’s morning, few hours to the election, that the party made its preference for the senate presidency public. To many of the senators, it was one move too late. If they had probably endorsed him earlier, he would have probably won.

Source: The Nation

Lawan, Ndume and the politics of endorsement

Lawan, Ndume and the politics of endorsement

By Solomon Fowowe

“May the best man win.” The catchphrase that precedes every contest even if there is barely any belief in it. It’s simple, the All Progressive’s Congress wanted their man to win. The opposition People’s Democratic Party crunched the numbers, knew there wasn’t any way they could pull off a win with a PDP candidate.
They simply acted as the opposition party unwilling to endure an embarrassing loss, pitched their tent behind the APC dissident, Senator Ali Ndume. It’s APC vs APC for all PDP cares.

“As the opposition political party, we must be seen to play a responsible opposition role. Yes, none of the two presiding officers we are rooting for belong to the PDP, but we know that as a critical member of the National Assembly, we must have a say in the election of its leaders. This is the reason why we are backing both Ndume and Bago,” PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus told Punch

In a statement signed by PDP’s national secretary, Umar Tsauri, the party noted that its decision was in order “deepen democracy, ensure a strong and independent legislature, strict compliance with the principle of separation of powers as well as constitutional checks and balances in the polity.”

Admittedly, there were a lot of factors at play as the leadership of the 9th National Assembly was contested. Many dealings, tacit and clearly stated promises, quid quo pros but there was something that came first for the APC – the smooth relationship between the Executive and the National Assembly.

None of the frosty, stilted air between President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon Yakubu Dogara regarding bills and the budget.

APC looks to have learnt from the leadership tussle of the 8th National Assembly where they were undercut by Saraki and Dogara. They leveraged on alliances with the opposition People’s Democratic Party to emerge the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives against the wishes of the APC leadership.

Saraki’s defiance set the tone for the next four years, his defection from the party three-quarters into his tenure merely formalised the lingering distrust.

APC placed their seal of approval on Senator Ahmad Lawan, made sure there was no meeting on the voting day and persuaded/ordered other candidates from the party to step down. Senator Danjuma Goje stepped down but Senator Ndume remained in the race.

He hoped his act of defiance would produce results. It produced 28 votes while Lawan had 79 votes.

Senator Ndume couldn’t pull off a Saraki-esque machination, for one APC are the wiser, PDP doesn’t have vested interests and Ndume doesn’t quite have the gravitas of the former Senate President.

PDP knew it was going to be a coronation, still, they went through the motions to put up an endorsement as a mere formality. Even if the endorsement meant, parking behind the same senator the PDP led government accused of sponsoring terrorism in Nigeria.

It does feel firmly like an APC-led house. But for democracy’s sake, the big hope will be that the National Assembly will put the country ahead of their party inclinations. That there will be an independent legislature that checks the excesses of the executive.

Credit: The Guardian

Ndume v Lawan: The danger ahead

Ndume v Lawan: The danger ahead

Azu Ishiekwene

What would it take President Muhammadu Buhari to get the politics of the National Assembly right? Four years ago, he had a problem which, like a stubborn fly, has refused to go away.

After his election victory speech in 2015 when he was for all and for none, things went haywire, leading to the emergence of a National Assembly leadership that would haunt him for the rest of his tenure.

His wars with the legislature – from inflated budgets to outright refusal to confirm a number of high profile appointees and God knows what not – were probably next to his ill-health in the pecking order of his woes.

Most people blamed Buhari. If he had taken the lead early on and given a clear indication who he was comfortable to work with, instead of barricading himself in Aso Rock after the election, his party and, perhaps, his government, might have been spared the misery of a tumultuous executive-legislative relationship that made Tom and Jerry look like best of friends.

To avoid that this time, it appears that at Buhari’s behest, the APC has made its preference clear: Ahmed Lawan for Senate president, and Femi Gbajabiamila as speaker for the House of Reps. Buhari did not issue a statement or call a press conference to announce his preference. He apparently gave his party the hint and left Chairman Adams Oshiomhole to do the rest.

If delay or indifference was the source of his problem the last time, it does not look like speed or enthusiasm will make any difference now. Not only have significant numbers of legislators made it clear that it is not the business of the President or the executive to choose their leaders for them, politicians within the ranks of the ruling APC have also told Oshiomhole to find a job and Buhari to mind his business.

Buhari, an introvert by nature and practice, must be wondering how he got himself into this mess: Steer clear he’s damned, get involved he’s damned. Interestingly, Ali Ndume who is probably the biggest threat to APC’s official candidate, Lawan, said he had personally informed Buhari of his decision to contest and received the President’s consent. Two private meetings with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the matter have, so far, been unable to persuade Ndume to drop his ambition.

Ndume has maintained that he is opposed to anyone “imposing” a candidate on the Senate. Which sounds sensible until you remember that in 2011 Ndume was not the preferred candidate of Southern Borno senatorial district. A returnee member of the Peoples Democratic Party at the time, he was, in fact, imposed on the district over GarbaSanda, who was forced to step down for him.

But in politics where one week could be a lifetime, eight years are like eons past.

You would think that after the bloodletting of the last four years, the ruling party would have learnt its lessons and members would desperately avoid anything that could make it a laughing stock so soon. But politicians, being politicians, they have only one motivation: power and how to keep or advance it at any cost and for as long as possible.

Ndume’s case is complicated by two things. The first is the nagging sense of injustice which goes back to his roots in Southern Borno, generally regarded and treated as the political backwaters of the state. If a Gwoza, Shani or Biu cannot be governor in Borno but manages, against all odds, to make it to the Senate, why should the candidate be prevented from pursuing his ambition to the end?

The second complication is Ndume’s sense of entitlement. Having occupied a leadership position in the Senate before Lawan, he feels the prize should naturally come to him. Why should he sacrifice his rank for Lawan’s ambition or the party’s vanity? He fancies himself as the truly “independent” candidate, a worn-out mask for self-interest.

Beyond Ndume, however, there is what may be described as the latent spite factor – the resentment of APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu – who for some strange reason is regarded as good party talisman at the time of election but resented and despised as bad omen when it is time to share the spoils.

A lot has been said about what the so-called Tinubu agenda might be: that he’s lining things up for a bid for the presidency in 2023; that he is planting his men everywhere – including the National Assembly – to expand and consolidate his power base against the next general elections; that he is driven by an obsession for control and power grab and nothing else. Quite harsh and mostly far-fetched, to be honest. Does anyone seriously believe that Tinubu is single-handedly pressing the candidacy of Lawan and Gbajabiamila without the consent and approval of Buhari? Seriously?

It’s shaping up like an answer to the prayer of the PDP. Nigerians rejected the party at the polls in 2015, but Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, both elected on the ticket of the APC, opened the backdoor for PDP and consummated a marriage of convenience whose illegitimate children have haunted the country for four years.

And I’m not talking here about insinuations that Saraki is prepping DanjumaGoje or whoever he thinks can smear pepper in Buhari’s eye to take over the leadership of the National Assembly. I’m saying that I’m shocked beyond words that once bitten, the APC is not even remotely shy to see that the precarious numerical advantage it has in the Senate, for example – 65-41 – would again be exploited ruthlessly by the PDP.

It may appear that this is not our business: that the results of the last general elections show that some regions are overrated and those who have delivered the numbers should not only get preferential share of the pie but also the legislature as a whole should be left alone to choose its leaders.

That sounds great, except that after four years of weaponised hybrid leadership in the National Assembly, we have seen that it only produces stalemate, blackmail and a permanently divided house fighting over more allowances and benefits for its members.

It’s difficult to hold the National Assembly to account when its leadership, which sets out and provides direction for legislative business, has been subverted by the opposition. We cannot and will not have another four years of the minority tail wagging the majority dog after voters made their preference clear at the polls.

PDP is waiting to pounce again – and it will if APC refuses to look in the flea market just to purchase common sense. If other contestants refuse to step down for the party’s preferred candidates – and they have a right to refuse – then the party should ask the pre-designated zones to present candidates.

There’s no guarantee that desperate, wounded moneybags will not find their way to the zones, but that’s a lesser evil compared with the chaos that awaits the party if matters continue this way, and eventually end up on the floor of the National Assembly.

Since indifference is proving to be as deadly as meddling, a viable way to manage the chaos would be to let the candidates test their strength at the zones. The irony of these matters is that we may never see the real demons in the candidates – and that includes even the most carefully pre-selected ones – until they have been tested with power.

Ishiekwene is the managing director/editor-in-chief of The Interview and member of the board of the Global Editors Network.

Senate: How Saraki, Akpabio, others lost out

Senate: ‘How we dislodged Saraki, Ajimobi, Akpabio, Alasoadura, Sani’

When the 9th National Assembly takes off in June, some of the notable names that will be missing on Senators list are Bukola Saraki, the current Senate President; Abiola Ajimobi, current governor of Oyo State ; Godswill Akpabio,erstwhile Minority Leader of the Red Chambers and former governor of Akwa Ibom State; popular human rights activist Shehu Sani; and the Chairman,Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream); Tayo Alasoadura following their defeat in last weekend’s election. How did it happen? Those who defeated them spoke to correspondents Abdulgafar ALABELEWE, Bassey ANTHONY; Damisi OJO, Akure; Yinka ADENIRAN, Ibadan and Adekunle JIMOH, Ilorin

The National Assembly election is only a week old today, but the Senator elect for Kwara Central,Dr. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe is already taking stock of his victory over Senate President Bukola Saraki. Oloriegbe, a former World Health Organisation (WHO) consultant, thanked God and the people for making his victory possible.

Saraki’s cup is full – Oloriegbe

“My reaction is that of gratitude to the Almighty God. He who gives power to who He wishes and takes power from He wishes,” he said in an interview in Ilorin.

He said the people went a step further to demonstrate that they meant business with to the slogan “O to ge”.

The people, according to him, decided to “walk the talk because the talk has been enough is enough (“O to ge”) and the voice was loud.

“This voice was demonstrated at the polls by voting out those that they considered were not delivering the dividends of democracy in the real sense of it. Those they considered as selfish, self-centred and those that used our commonwealth for self.

“Those that have not provided Kwarans good education, healthcare, good roads, potable water. Those that have been cutting the people’s salaries. These are all the issues and more. Lack of job opportunities for the youth.

“The other reaction is to look at the enormity of the current situation and the expectations of the people from us for the true change to happen in the state. But on that one, my belief is that we have good intention and our belief is that the people are still with us and they should be patient with us to start together with them to correct the wrongs on the past.”

On the description of the voting pattern in the state as a revolution,Oloriegbe said: “ It is a combination of so many factors. It is not only about the revolution. Yes, there was that revolutionary movement of ‘O to ge’.

“Kwara central people had made request to opposition parties to present candidates that are credible and have track records of performance for them to vote.

“O to ge came up, but going back into history, 2015 people were in despair against the candidates presented by the opposition party against the status quo.

“Then, if you go back to 2011 when I was the candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), if you look at the performance when my current opponent, Senator Bukola Saraki, was a sitting governor, people voted massively for me.

“The supposed winning by him then came from Asa local government area of the state, where the voters’ turnout was claimed to be over 80 percent as compared to the Ilorin metropolis where the voters’ turnout was put at about 40 percent.

“That was a reflection of what should have been. In my view, I think the two factors came together. But far and above all those factors and human conjectures, it is God’s time that has come.

“As we all know, in life nobody will live in perpetuity. It is only God.”

Asked what had changed between the previous elections when Saraki had defeated him and now for the people to go for him this time around,the senator-elect said: “There are several things that have probably changed. But there are certain things that have not changed.

“Even in 2011 when he said he defeated me and I accepted the verdict but then at the tribunal, we proved that there were a lot of irregularities in that election. But through the use of the federal might, we were not able to get anywhere.

“That was unfair. Now we have not used any federal might, we have ensured a level-playing ground. Apart from that, INEC is now stronger and more transparent. The use of the card readers has prevented many politicians to manipulate the elections. With card readers, there cannot be over-voting again.

“What has changed again is that the cup of the Saraki dynasty is full beyond what the people can tolerate.

“People have become intolerable of the bad governance they have been experiencing in the last eight years.

“Eight years ago, when he left as governor for the Senate, things were not as bad as they are now. Salaries of workers were paid then but now they are not paid.

“The current Abdulfatah Ahmed administration, which Saraki installed, has not performed at all. Of course, we cannot totally remove his attitude to the APC government, a platform that he used to get the Senate Presidency.

“He worked against that party to become a minority in the National Assembly, minority in terms of leaders and not in terms of membership; that is particularly important for us, especially Ilorin people as he cannot handle trust.

“He used his position to work against Buhari. Buhari, in Ilorin, is a friend by virtue of his friendship and relationship with the late Major General Tunde Idiagbon. Ilorin people see the sincerity and credibility of Buhari.”

It’s a surprise Shehu Sani got up to 70,000 votes, says Uba Sani

Kaduna Central Senator-elect, Malam Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress (APC),who defeated incumbent Senator Shehu Sani, also spoke on his own triumph at the polls.

Sani came a distant third in the race with 70,613 votes.

Second was Lawal Adamu of the PDP who had 195,497 votes. Uba Sani recorded 355,242 votes.

Aiming a dig at Shehu,the senator-elect said: “It is even a surprise to me that Shehu Sani got up the 70,000 votes that he got. I didn’t even expect him to get more than half of what he got. So, I congratulate him for even getting 70,000 votes.”

They used to be in the same party,APC,until Shehu fell out with Governor Nasir El-Rufai apparently because of Shehu’s ambition to succeed the former.

A parting of ways between the governor and Shehu soon came when El-Rufai vehemently refused to give the senator another chance to contest on the platform of the APC.

He accused Shehu of working against the interest of the people by voting in the Senate against the approval of a $350million World Bank loan for the state.

Shehu moved on and berthed in the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).

Uba Sani believes that Shehu’s constituents have repaid him back for abandoning them.

“Defeating an incumbent like Senator Shehu Sani is as easy as anything because, right from the very moment he was elected, he abandoned the principles of the APC,” he told The Nation.

He added: “The principles of the APC require that you are close to the people, but he abandoned the very people that elected him.

“Kaduna central zone is a very important one, where you have a lot of elite and highly educated people, who know what is going on in the National Assembly.

“So, if you don’t constantly come back to tell them what you are doing, ask about their problems and go back to the assembly to make a case for them, and promote the development of their constituency, they will vote you out.

“An instance is the issue of the $350million World Bank loan the Kaduna State government requested for. Shehu Sani rejected it. He might have take n it as a joke, and I saw his explanation for rejecting the loan, but that was a major mistake he made. You don’t toy with the interest of your people; we are talking about nine million people of Kaduna State.

“When you look at the template we submitted to the World Bank, we are supposed to build over 1,000 schools, primary and secondary schools and enhance our healthcare. We are building infrastructure in Kaduna, and someone sat there saying, I am going to block this loan, simply because he didn’t want Governor Nasir El-Rufai to achieve anything.

“For me, it is not about El-Rufai, it is about nine million people of Kaduna State, and that singular act made us to be able to defeat the incumbent. He committed a lot of unfortunate errors.

“I also challenge you to go to his constituency office, you will see it taken over by dust, because he has not opened it in the last two years. You cannot do that in Kaduna central, and that is why we found it very easy to defeat the incumbent.”

Uba Sani also said that the party on which platform he(Shehu Sani)contested –PRP- has no structure to win an election.

His words: ” I don’t think the PRP has any structure on ground to win an election. In fact, he (Shehu) should be worried that it is so bad that he even lost in his polling unit; APC which is my party is a very popular one in Kaduna central zone, Kaduna State and Nigeria as a whole.

“The truth of the matter is that, we never regarded PRP as our challenger in this contest and of course, you know that the major reason why he was rejected is that, he abandoned his people. “Take for example the situation in Birnin Gwari, the road from Kaduna to Birnin Gwari, which is a federal one, and as a senator for almost four years, he never for one day made a case for the government to do anything on the road until recently when Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai reached out to the federal government, which has made a commitment to fixing the road.

“So, for me, the people of Birnin Gwari rejected him because he abandoned them; he never for one day stood up on the floor of the National Assembly to move a motion on the security challenges in Birnin Gwari.

Why Ajimobi fell- Balogun

The senator-elect for Oyo South District, Dr Kola Balogun,sees the hand of God in his election.

“My victory is absolutely by God’s mercy,” Balogun told The Nation in Ibadan.

He said: “My victory is absolutely by God’s mercy.

“And talking about political factors, I will say that through my interaction with the people of the district, I discovered that they were tired of government policies and programmes, particularly at the local level.

“There is so much poverty, there is the inability of the government to develop the local economy, pay salaries promptly, pay serious attention to the entitlements of pensioners, ensure that collapsing infrastructure are attended to, revamp the education sector, inability to pay teachers’ salaries, provide teaching aids, affordable healthcare, develop agriculture, which is one of what we can leverage on to provide employment for our youths, inability to assist market men and women with low interest loans and inability of the government to provide security. All these produced hopelessness.

“But we presented better alternatives which people embraced. We also leveraged on my track record. They also saw my sincerity of purpose during my interaction with them. They saw that I could represent them well.”

On how he feels after defeating the incumbent, Sen. Soji Akanbi and the APC candidate, Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Balogun said: “I give all the glory to God. It is not by my power. I thank God and I feel fulfilled. I also thank the good people of Oyo South Senatorial District for their tremendous show of support. I reassure them that I will not disappoint them.”

I knew God was going help me defeat Akpabio, says Ekpenyong

Dr. Chris Ekpenyong, who defeated Senator Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom Northwest also attributes his victory to God.

Ekpenyong, deputy governor of the state between 1999 and 2007, said his own political sagacity also went a long way to give him victory.

“It was just like what happened to Jehoshaphat in the Bible when he was accosted by people with chariots and weapons and he called upon the name of the Lord and the enemies vanished,” he said in Uyo.

“I knew I was going to beat him because I was backed up by the blood of Jesus Christ.

“God led me to the political battle field with prayers as my only weapon of war. I made several supplications to God asking Him to let His will be done in the election.

“I’m glad God gave me victory; it shows that there is always victory in humility. I told God to come and set His people free the way He set the Israelites free from the hands of pharoah.”

On his mission in the Senate, Ekpeyong said:“Since the war ended, our people are yet to be rehabilitated and reintegrated. There is no reconstruction and we are still having the relics of war.

“We need reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration. Governments have come and gone, yet no action.

“We need someone to bring it to the front burner. My primary responsibility is to ensure that there will be good laws and resolutions that will positively change the fortunes of the people of Akwa Ibom north west senatorial district. My victory is from God”.

He said he supported and worked for Senator Godswill Akpabio’s reelection until he dumped the PDP for APC in August 2018.

According to him, “In 2007 when I laboured for power shift to our senatorial district, Akpabio contested and won as governor; I supported him.

“When he wanted to go for a second term, he took me to the then President Jonathan and I knelt down and begged Jonathan to allow him contest a second term as governor.

“I didn’t do it for a fee but I showed humility in service.

“In 2015, Akpabio went to the Senate, I supported him. Even in 2018 when he declared for reelection, I supported him wholeheartedly until he left PDP for APC and the PDP fielded me to contest against him. It is just a change of baton.

“My name is Christopher and I am a cross bearer, I bear the cross of my people “.

Akinyelure: my victory is of God

Mr.Ayo Akinyelure (PDP) is returning to the Senate for a second time after defeating Mr.Tayo Alasoadura (APC) and former Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Zenith Labour Party in the contest for the Ondo Central District ticket.

Incidentally, it was Alasoadura who defeated Akinyelure in 2015.Akinyelure,like Ekpeyong and Balogun, attributed his victory to God.

He was also full of praises for his constituents for reposing confidence in him.

“My people had resolved to pay me back for the good work I delivered to Ondo Central during my stewardship in the 7th Assembly as the senator that represented the district,” he said.

“During that period, I was able to add value to the citizenry of the district by providing employment for over 550 graduates in various federal ministries and parastatals and many empowerment programmes designed to raise my people.”

Recalling his defeat by Alasoadura in 2015,the senator-elect said:”When I was defeated in 2015 election by Senator Alasoadura, I was the first to congratulate him and accepted the verdict of my people.

“The incumbent came second in the just concluded election,and has congratulated me.”

This developnent,he said, demonstrated the spirit of sportsmanship.

However, he said he was still expecting a congratulatory message from former Governor Mimiko.

He said:”He should remember that one good turn deserves another. We all stood by him when the whole Ondo State decided to vote him twice as governor of the state.

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“Ondo State belongs all of us and therefore, any one of us is qualified at one time or the other to be chosen by the majority of the people of Ondo State, particularly Ondo Central to represent their interest.

“It is,therefore, my turn now, and they have resolved to re-elect me to the Senate as a ranking senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Credit: The Nation

Saraki loses Senate seat to APC in Kwara

BREAKING: Saraki Loses Senatorial Seat To APC’s Oloriegbe In Kwara

Senator Bukola Saraki

By Biola Azeez –

Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has lost his seat as Senator representing Kwara central senatorial district of Kwara state under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to his longtime political arch-rival, Dr Yahaya Oloriegbe, of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In the general elections conducted on Saturday, the Senate President lost in all the four local government areas that make up Kwara Central senatorial district, namely Asa, Ilorin West, Ilorin East and Ilorin South local government areas.

The winner, Oloriegbe polled 15,932 votes to defeat the incumbent senator with 11, 252 votes in Asa local government area.

In the Ilorin East local government area, APC polled 30, 014 and PDP scored 14, 654.

In the Ilorin South local government area, APC polled 26,331, while PDP scored 13,013.

In the Ilorin West local government area, APC polled 51,531, while PDP got 30,075.

It was gathered that APC members, had trooped onto major streets in Ilorin metropolis celebrating the victory of the APC candidate, Oloriegbe even before the official announcement of the results.

Credit: Tribune

PDP senators Olujimi, Faseyi lose reelection bid in Ekiti

PDP senators Olujimi, Faseyi lose reelection bid in Ekiti

Abiodun Nejo, Ado Ekiti

Two Peoples Democratic Party senators in Ekiti State – Biodun Olujimi (North) and Duro Faseyi (South) have lost their reelection bid to the All Progressives Congress candidates.

The Returning Officer for Ekiti South Senatorial District, Prof Laide Lawal, returned APC candidate, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye, elected having scored 77,621 votes to defeat his closest rival, Olujimi, of the PDP, who polled 53,741 votes.

The Returning Officer for Ekiti North Senatorial District, Prof Abayomi Sunday Fasina, also declared the APC candidate, Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi, the winner having polled 60,689 votes to defeat Faseyi, who got 49,209 votes.

PDP candidate and House of Representatives member representing Ekiti South 2 Federal Constituency, Segun Adekola, having secured 25,707 votes, lost reelection bid to the APC candidate, former Chief of Staff to Governor Kayode Fayemi, Mr Yemi Adaramodu, who scored 41,864 votes.

Also, for Ekiti North 2 Constituency, APC candidate, Olanrewaju Ibrahim, won the election, having scored 29,388 votes as against the 23,684 votes scored by PDP candidate, Olusola Omotoso.

Credit: The Punch

How fear of removal forced Saraki to abort planned resumption of Senate sitting

Senate: Why Saraki aborted planned emergency plenary

Saraki

By Fred Itua, Abuja (fredo.itua@gmail.com)

He didn’t see it coming. Like a trap, he almost met his waterloo, but for the intervention of some senators who immediately intervened and saved his seat. When the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, hurriedly summoned senators to Abuja penultimate Saturday, ahead of an emergency plenary last Tuesday, he must have miscalculated.

On Monday morning, barely 24 hours to the aborted emergency plenary, slated for Tuesday, there was chaos in Saraki’s camp. His aides and allies, for several hours, were in limbo as to what to do next. They had been reliably informed that a major tsunami, which will consume Saraki was coming and may likely be the last straw that will break the camel’s back.

Calls were made and opinions of no-so-relevant people were tapped. After almost 10 hours, Saraki found a perfect alibi to escape the trap that had been set for him. In an unusual manner and first in its kind, Saraki’s media adviser, Mr Yusuf Olaniyonu, released a statement on behalf of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Customarily, the spokesman of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, ought to have signed the statement, which was hurriedly packaged. Unfortunately, the Senate spokesman has joined the league of those asking for the head of Saraki. He has not signed any press statement in over six months or spoken in defence of the Senate. Ironically, he still enjoys the perks of office as chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, despite a clear case of dereliction of duty.

Prior to the abortion of the planned emergency plenary, a meeting of principal officers of the Senate had been scheduled for Sunday night. Saraki was expected to preside, although the venue of the meeting was not disclosed. Nine other senators who are principal officers were expected at the meeting.

However, Saraki was far away in Kwara State. At about 10:00p.m on Sunday night, Saraki was still not on ground in Abuja. In the end, the meeting didn’t hold. No official reason was offered. Some PDP senators who are still loyal to Saraki had some meetings. But the big fish was the meeting called by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday night at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

That proposed meeting called by President Buhari sent shock waves to the camp of Saraki that something sinister was in the offing. Ahead of the meeting with APC senators, the national chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole met with the lawmakers. Although the details of the meeting were not made public, it was, however, gathered that plans were concluded on how to either sack Saraki or create a parallel leadership in the Senate.

Unfortunately for Saraki, his party, the PDP is still in the minority. Currently, the APC maintains a slim majority of 57 senators. PDP has 46, while other political parties make up the other seven. Two-third majority of 73 senators is needed to sack Saraki or his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu. With cracks within the PDP camp and alleged plans to splash hard currencies on senators, Saraki wasn’t ready to gamble with his coveted office.

The Supreme Court case

Saraki allegedly in connivance with PDP senators approached the Supreme Court on Monday to interpret certain clauses in the 1999 Constitution as amended, on whether or not the president could suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN). Whenever there is any issue between any arm of government, the Supreme Court becomes the court of first instance.

“Earlier today (Monday), the Senate filed a case in the apex court of the land, the Supreme Court, seeking its interpretation on whether President Buhari acted within the provision of the constitution in his suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice Walter Nkannu Onnoghen or whether the action of the President amounted to usurpation of the powers of the Senate as provided for in Section 292 of the constitution.

“Following the filing of the case, the matter of the suspension of the CJN which is the main issue for which the Senate had planned to reconvene tomorrow, has become subjudiced.

“Therefore, in line with the standing rules of the Senate not to debate issues that are already pending before the court, the reconvening of the Senate tomorrow has been put off. The previous adjournment of the Senate till February 19, 2019 stays,” a statement signed by Saraki media aide, Olaniyonu, read.

Expectedly, the APC caucus fired back. Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who doubles as head of APC caucus, in a statement, retorted: “It has come to the notice of the APC caucus that the Senate has approached the Supreme Court for the interpretation for the suspension of Justice Walter Onneghen by the President.

“For the records, the Senate never met to take such a resolution and at no time mandated anyone to approach the Supreme Court on this matter on its behalf.

“Consequently, the Senate APC caucus dissociated itself from the said request for the legal interpretation of the suspension.”

The dust from the bitter exchange between Saraki’s camp and APC senators was yet to settle down, when PDP lawmakers joined the fray. Biodun Olujimi, Minority Leader of the Senate, fired a shot.

She said: “I am surprised that a few of my colleagues in the APC Caucus are spreading disinformation that they were not party to the decision to file a case seeking interpretation of the provision of the constitution concerning the President’s decision to suspend the CJN.

“Those who are saying this are just being mischievous. They know such a decision is not meant for debate on the floor of the Senate. It is the prerogative of the presiding officer and in this particular case, majority of the people in Senate leadership suggested and supported the idea. There is no precedent of when decision on whether to resort to court is referred to the plenary. And there are several cases that the Senate has been and is still involved in.

“Incidentally, those our colleagues in the APC who are spreading this dis-information are those who have been in the Senate for many years and they know the rules, conventions and practices. That is why I consider their current position as mischievous.

“What do they stand to lose in our seeking judicial interpretation of the law? I believe as democrats and lawmakers, it should be our interest to strengthen the law and support the independence of the judiciary.

This recourse to the Supreme Court will only strengthen our understanding of the law and clear ambiguities about the provision of the constitution, which we all swore to protect.

“It has always been my position that Nigeria is greater than any person or party.

Therefore, as legislators, we should always take position in the interest of the country and not allow partisan, party, group or individual interest to push us into taking a stand that will be counter to national interest.

“As members of the 8th Senate, we have always agreed among ourselves to stand for Nigeria even when it is against the preference of our party. My colleagues in the APC caucus should return to this agreement. It is Onnoghen today, it may be somebody else tomorrow.”

The battle ahead

Saraki may have gotten a reprieve. But plans to sack him before the expiration of his tenure as President of the Senate are still alive. Since he was elected in 2015, Saraki and the Senate have not known peace. Several attempts had been made in the past to remove him.

Saraki’s emergence as Senate in 2015 altered what some pundits described as the skewed power sharing formula the ruling APC had proposed. With President Buhari from the Northwest, APC had wanted Lawan who hails from Yobe in Northeast as Senate President. Saraki, in a last minute deal with PDP senators clinched the seat. He hails from North Central. Ekweremadu, who hails from the Southeast was re-elected as Deputy President of the Senate.

Although unconfirmed, Oshiomhole-led APC has reportedly tipped Mohammed Ali Ndume from Borno State in Northeast to replace Saraki as Senate President and Hope Uzodinma from Imo State in Southeast as his deputy. The fresh move, it was learnt, is to clear the coast for President Buhari’s requests pending in the Senate to get smooth acceleration.

The Senate is yet to consider the 2019 budget proposal. There are some pending loan requests and confirmation of nominees still pending before the Senate, which Saraki has not given the nod to be considered.

Beside, there are apprehensions that the PDP may become bolder after the general elections and initiate moves to impeach President Buhari whether or not he secures another term. Although no one from any of the camps has confirmed it, no one has denied it either.

“When we resume, there will be serious fireworks. Tempers will rise as expected. Those who will lose elections will be bitter. People will switch camps and so many things may happen.

These things are normal in a democracy. For now, the PDP is still in charge in the Senate. When we get to the next bridge after the elections, we will cross it,” Senator Clifford Ordia, representing Edo Central Senatorial District and a member of the PDP, told Sunday Sun.

CREDIT: Sunday Sun

Onnoghen: Battle shifts to NASS as Senate reconvenes on Tuesday over embattled CJN

Senate to reconvene on Tuesday over sacked CJN

•FG places accounts of more judges on surveillance

•Timing of Onnoghen’s removal raises concern –UK, US

•Stop meddling in our affairs, FG tells UK, US governments

The Senate will, on Tuesday, reconvene to discuss the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, and the swearing-in of Tanko Mohammed as the acting CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday.

A principal officer in the Senate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents on Saturday that the leadership of both chambers would have a crucial meeting today (Sunday) to deliberate on the agenda for the emergency session.

SUNDAY PUNCH, however, learnt that the sudden decision of the National Assembly leadership to reconvene might not be unconnected with the public outcry that greeted Buhari’s suspension of Onnoghen on Friday.

The source said, “The leadership of the two chambers has agreed to reconvene on Tuesday. They will, however, hold a crucial meeting in the private residence of the Senate President on Sunday evening (today).

“The meeting will set agenda for the emergency session they plan for Tuesday. I cannot confirm whether the impeachment of the President will form part of the agenda but I can assure you that a drastic decision will be taken against him.”

The lawmakers had, during Thursday’s plenary, adjourned sitting until February 19, which will be after the presidential and National Assembly elections.

We’ll resist any impeachment move against Buhari – Ndume

However, the leaders of the All Progressives Congress in the Senate have vowed to resist any attempt by the presiding officers of the federal parliament to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.

A former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues in an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, maintained that the President did not breach the constitution by his action.

He said, “As members of the APC in the National Assembly, we will put the nation’s interest above any parochial or sectional consideration in dealing with the issue.

“However, if anybody wants to start another trouble in the Senate over the issue, we are ready. We have the number; we have the strength because we constitute the majority.

“It’s just that the Senate leadership wants to play to the gallery, otherwise, I don’t see the same leadership that accused the judiciary of meddling in its affairs now moving against the President for fighting corruption in that arm of government.”

Reps keep mum

At the House of Representatives, the lawmakers had scheduled Tuesday for the passage of the 2019 Appropriation Bill second reading and the New Minimum Wage BiII.

Several members, who were contacted on Saturday either declined to speak or asked one of our correspondents to wait for the turn of events on Tuesday.

A lawmaker from Lagos State, who did not want to be named, declined to speak on the telephone except our correspondent could meet with him during the week.

Another lawmaker, Mr Chinda Ogundu, of the Peoples Democratic Party, said, “Wait till Tuesday.”

FG places accounts of more judges on surveillance

In another twist, there were indications in Abuja on Saturday that the Federal Government had directed that the accounts of more judges be placed on surveillance, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt on Saturday night.

It was gathered that the plan by the government was aimed at identifying those believed to be corrupt in the judiciary and remove them from the system as the 2019 elections draw nearer.

Authoritative sources close to the government said the task of looking into the accounts might have been handed over to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.

It was gathered that the same agency was asked to probe the salary account of the suspended CJN.

The agency launched the probe into his salary account from September 2005 to December 2018.

A very reliable source, who was part of those privy to the Onnoghen saga, said more judges might be affected when the NFIU would submit its report.

The source said, “The government is placing the accounts of more judges under watch. You will see what will happen soon. It is wrong to assume that Justice Onnoghen was being singled out for punishment.

“The government decided to start with him because of the sensitive position he is holding. That is what happened.

“Now, more judges are under scrutiny and I can tell you that majority of them may have questions to answer. The courts are the hope of the common man. If the courts are monetised or commercialised, what then is the hope for the country?

“Therefore, salary and other accounts of these judicial officers and that of their relations are being watched.

“Apart from that, their assets declaration forms are also been scrutinised. If there are those with undeclared assets, they will be made to answer questions.”

Timing of Onnoghen’s removal raises concern –UK, US

Meanwhile, the British Government has expressed worry over the removal of Onnoghen.

This comes barely hours after the American government disagreed with the Federal Government over the removal of the CJN.

The United Kingdom said the timing of the removal, which occurred three weeks to the election, could cast a shadow over the polls while the US believed that the CJN’s removal could affect the credibility of the polls.

The statement read, “We respect Nigeria’s sovereign authority and its right to adjudicate on constitutional provisions but as friends of the Nigerian people, we are compelled to observe that the timing of this action, so close to national elections, gives cause for concern. It risks affecting both domestic and international perceptions on the credibility of the forthcoming elections. We, along with other members of the international community, are following developments closely.”

Also, the United States of America asked Buhari to resolve the issues raised by Nigerians against the suspension of Onnoghen quickly and peacefully in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

The US Embassy said this in a statement on Saturday in a reaction to the suspension of Onnoghen by the President.

The statement read, “The Embassy of the United States is deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections.

“We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch. That undercuts the stated determination of government, candidates, and political party leaders to ensure that the elections proceed in a way that is free, fair, transparent and peaceful – leading to a credible result.

“We urge that the issues raised by this decision be resolved swiftly and peacefully in accordance with due process, full respect for the rule of law, and the spirit of the Constitution of Nigeria. Such action is needed urgently now to ensure that this decision does not cast a pall over the electoral process.”

Parties, groups, others flay Buhari over Onnoghen’s suspension

Suspension can truncate Nigeria’s democracy – UP

The acting National Chairman of United Patriots, Mr Chukwudi Ezeobika, in his own reaction, described the suspension of Onnoghen as illegal and unconstitutional.

Ezeobika, who doubles as the party’s senatorial candidate for Anambra South, said Buhari’s action was against the ruling of Justice Abdul Aboki who ordered the Code of Conduct Tribunal to stay all proceedings pending the ruling on the application before it.

He said, “It is indeed of great concern to watch, in utter disbelief, President Buhari, who, before all Nigerians and the international community, swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of Nigeria, chose to disobey subsisting court orders with such impunity and arrogance.

“We hereby call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately retrace his steps and without further delay, reinstate the ousted Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, and obey all court orders relating thereto.”

It indicates Buhari’s desperation to rig polls –Senate minority leader

Also, the Senate Minority Leader, Biodun Olujimi, described Onnoghen’s suspension as embarrassing and indicative of Buhari’s desperation to perpetuate himself in office through rigging of next month’s elections.

Olujimi, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Chief Sanya Atofarati, in Ado Ekiti, on Saturday, said, “The manner, drama and circumstances leading to the litigation against and suspension of Onnoghen are not only unconstitutional, illegal and embarrassing, but also amount to executive impertinence, rascality, recklessness and impunity which portend enormous danger to our growing democracy.

“The current development has gone a long way to show the level of desperation of the All Progressives Congress and Buhari government to rig the forthcoming general elections at all cost, even to the detriment of the rule of law, the fundamental rights of Nigerians and our hard earned democracy.”

It’s political, unconstitutional, says NBA

In the same vein, the Chairman of Ilesha Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Kanmi Ajibola, on Saturday, said the suspension of Onnoghen was politically-motivated and far from being a fight against corruption.

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Ajibola, in an exclusive interview with SUNDAY PUNCH in Osogbo, noted that effort by Buhari to hinge his action on alleged corrupt act by the CJN was untenable.

He said, “First and foremost, the suspension is political. Buhari is trying to link it to the alleged corrupt act by the CJN, but what of other glaring corrupt acts by Buhari’s cronies that were investigated?

“Buhari has breached the Constitution by suspending the CJN. If it were to be in another clime, the parliament would have set to work and commence impeachment proceedings against the President, but we don’t have a vibrant National Assembly again.

“The judiciary should not be an annex of the executive arm. The court should be allowed to function. Thank God NBA is coming up strong on the issue. If needs be, we should give it to Buhari administration like we did during the military era. Buhari’s action is a clear abuse of the right to fair hearing.”

Presidency plans to truncate democracy –Ortom

Also, the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, on Saturday, condemned the suspension of Onnoghen, saying the suspension and his hasty replacement was an attempt by the Presidency to truncate democracy and throw the country into anarchy.

Ortom stated that by the sacking of the CJN, the Presidency had demonstrated that it did not believe in the rule of law, due process and the principle of separation of powers.

The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, in a statement, wondered why the current administration, which had no antecedent of respecting court orders, acted swiftly relying on a ‘directive’ from the CCT to suspend the CJN.

Ortom stated, “The hurried removal of Justice Onnoghen appears to have the imprints of the cabal which the President’s wife said is running the government.

“I advise the Presidency to remember that its integrity is at stake and should reverse the CJN’s suspension in the interest of the country.”

YCE warns against arresting CJN Onnoghen

In its reaction, the Yoruba Council of Elders described the suspension of Onnoghen as a national embarrassment and an invitation to crisis.

The Secretary-General of the YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, who said this in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH in Lagos on Saturday, said the President should not go ahead to arrest Onnoghen as being rumoured if he had such plans.

Olajide said, “The suspension of the CJN is very disturbing. One would have expected Mr President to tread cautiously. We are dealing with the head of the third arm of government and all necessary precautions should have been taken to ensure that no room is left for any mischief or suspicion.

“But the haste at which the suspension was announced was very frightening. There is a pending Court of Appeal decision that the Code of Conduct Tribunal should halt all processes on this matter. One would have expected the Federal Government to have respected that decision in conformity with the best global practices.

“Let us sincerely hope that the action will not cause a chain of reactions that might be a national embarrassment. So, going ahead to arrest him will, of course, escalate matter. I don’t want to believe he will be arrested because the consequences of doing that will be very unpredictable especially when this is coming at the election season.”

Court order leading to suspension suspect –Falana

In the same vein, a Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), said the CCT’s order relied on by Buhari to suspend Onnoghen, was suspect.

According to Falana, the exparte application relied on was filed on January 9 while the motion on notice of the substantive suit was filed on January 11 with the name of the lawyer that argued the exparte motion not stated in the order.

He also suggested that Onnoghen might have contributed to his own ‘downfall’ by postponing indefinitely the meeting of the National Judicial Council, which could have deliberated on the matter and taken an informed position.

The senior advocate stated this in a statement made available to SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday in Abuja.

Stating that the exparte order was procured in an act of brazen impunity by the executive, Falana urged the President to respect all orders of the court, earlier obtained, which restrained the Federal Government from removing the CJN.

The senior advocate added, “It is unfortunate that the Bar and the Bench have played into the hands of the sponsors of incipient fascism in the country. For reasons best known to them, the stakeholders in the legal profession stood by and allowed the Office of the Chief Justice to be completely desecrated.

“It is intriguing that the 12 lawyers, including three Senior Advocates of Nigeria in the federal cabinet, did not deem it fit to dissuade President Buhari from carrying out the illegal suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the basis of an ex parte order issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“In particular, they ought to have reminded the President of the compulsory retirement of Justice Stanley Nnaji and Justice Wilson Egbo-Egbo for issuing illegal ex parte orders for the removal of Dr. Chris Ngige as Governor of Anambra State. It is sad to recall that it was the Federal Government, superintended by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, that instigated the illegal removal of the governor at the material time.”

Falana challenged his colleagues to collectively rise up to the occasion by reviewing the entire Onnoghen saga in the interest of the nation’s judiciary.

He said, “Meanwhile, the legal team of the Chief Justice should proceed to challenge his suspension from office either at the Code of Conduct Tribunal or the Court of Appeal.”

NASS should reconvene to sack Aso Villa tyrant –Peter Obi support group

In its own reaction on Saturday, the Peter Obi Support Network asked the National Assembly to reconvene immediately and begin impeachment proceedings against Buhari, who it described as “the tyrant in Aso Villa” for suspending Onnoghen.

The spokesperson for POSN, Chief T. E. Ezeoke, in a statement on Saturday, said Buhari had confirmed the statement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Nigeria had returned to the dark era of dictatorship.

Ezeoke said, “The National Assembly should assert its constitutional authority and powers and prevent this slide into chaos and erosion of the rule of law. We call on the Federal Government to avert the looming constitutional crisis precipitated by its ill-advised action.

“In particular, POSN demands the reversal of the purported suspension of Justice Onnoghen, failing which NASS should immediately reconvene to start impeachment proceedings against the tyrant in Aso Villa.”

Nigeria now like Germany’s 1933 Reichstag fire –Dogara

Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said dictatorship was now full-blown in Nigeria with Buhari’s purported suspension of Onnoghen as the CJN.

“As of today, Nigeria is now Germany in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire. Our democracy is on fire, ignited by the very people who swore to protect and defend it. That this fire must not convert the Chancellor to Fuhrer, as it happened in Germany in 1933, depends on our collective response and that of the international community. We must not bow our knees to dictatorship; not now, not ever again,” Dogara said in a statement on Saturday.

The Speaker stated that no provision in sections 157 and 292 of the 1999 Constitution supported the President in purporting to suspend the CJN or swearing in an acting CJN.

Dogara also noted that the Constitution did not contemplate a situation whereby the Judiciary would have a suspended CJN and acting CJN at the same time.

He said, “Therefore, it is right to posit, as some have done, that the President now has his own Chief Judge to do his bidding while Nigeria has a sitting CJN until he is removed in line with the provisions of the constitution.”

He added, “With the unconstitutional suspension of the CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari, the world has been served with notice that Nigeria is now a full-blown dictatorship.

“This did not come as a rude shock except to those that have been blind to the gradual but progressive erosion of democratic values in the polity as President Buhari’s government has never hidden its disdain for the rule of law.”

Reinstate Onnoghen now, PANDEF tells Buhari

In its own reaction, the Pan Niger Delta Forum called on Buhari to immediately reverse the CJN’s suspension and reinstate Onnoghen.

PANDEF, in a statement on Saturday, said Onnoghen’s suspension based on the orders of the CCT was akin to suspending the Nigerian constitution and enthroning dictatorship and anarchy in the country.

The statement, signed by the forum’s National Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, indicated that the people of South-South would not tolerate the continued persecution of their people.

The statement read in part, “We shall employ all legitimate means to demonstrate our insistence on the reversal of the illegal removal of CJN Walter Onnoghen. This country belongs to all of us, and we are critical stakeholders in the Nigerian State.

“The President acted on a fraudulent order, emanating from an inferior court without jurisdiction to advise the President to remove the CJN. He acted on the order procured by a tribunal, which blatantly and flagrantly chose to disobey a subsisting court order.

“PANDEF therefore declares as follows: The NBA should call for total boycott of courts until this illegality is reversed.

“Justice Tanko Mohammed should be sanctioned by the NJC for his willful participation in this ‘coup’ against the Office of the CJN and the Nigerian Constitution.”

It’s the right move to fast track anti-graft war –BMO, gov candidate

But the Buhari Media Organisation has supported the President’s decision to suspend Onnoghen.

The group said the action signified a conscious shift of policy to fast-track the fight against corruption.

The group said in a statement by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, that Buhari had no alternative but to respect a valid suspension order issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal pending the final determination of the case against Onnoghen.

It stated, “Resignation was the only meaningful option for the suspended Chief Justice. He is indeed a confessed felon after claiming in one breadth to have made a mistake and also forgot to have properly declared his assets in line with the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau for public officials when confronted by investigators.

“Just like the President said in his speech at the swearing in of the Acting CJN, someone with a moral authority so wounded by serious charges of corruption by his own written admission ought to have stepped down on his own volition.

“But in the character of tainted high office holders in Nigeria, Justice Onnoghen preferred to lash on to the rigmarole of legal technicalities as well as a desperately shallow opposition party that is on the lookout for anything to use to cast aspersions on President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress to shore up its flagging campaign and an apparent failed effort to market a presidential candidate with questionable moral standing.

“So, from whichever angle one looks at it, it would be difficult to fault the President’s action with all the facts at his disposal as well as the CCT suspension order.

“We urge Nigerians across all divides to show support and solidarity with the President in his bid to fast track the fight against corruption, no matter whose ox is gored.”

Meanwhile, the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party in Bauchi State, Ambassador Shuiabu Adamu, has commended Buhari for firing Onnoghen, for alleged corrupt act, saying it is long overdue.

Adamu, who spoke to journalists in Bauchi on Saturday, said what the President did was the right thing considering the fact that there was an established corruption case against the suspended CJN as contained in his purported written confessional statement.

He said, “As far as I am concerned, I want to align myself with the action of Mr. President. In fact, I feel that it should have been done much earlier without even wasting time about all these court cases that kept coming up.

“The facts are there; they should just have been presented to the CJN at that time and ask him to resign, and if he doesn’t resign, this action that was taken should have been taken.”

Stop meddling in our affairs, FG replies US, UK

The Federal Government said last night that Nigeria reserved the right to control its internal affairs and noted that it would not subscribe to other countries “meddling” in its affairs.

The government said the forthcoming elections would be free, fair and credible.

It said Nigeria had rules and laws governing its affairs and would apply them in all circumstances for the purpose of promoting good governance.

In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, the FG made a reference to concerns raised by other countries over Friday’s suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria over alleged false asset declaration.

Recall that many observers, including the United States and the United Kingdom had expressed reservations over the action of President Muhammadu Buhari, coming so close to the February and March general elections.

They had observed that this could heat up the polity and might signpost possible mayhem during and after the elections.

But, on Saturday, the government, through Shehu’s statement, dismissed the apprehension as an attempt by outsiders to interfere with the internal affairs of Nigeria.

The statement said, “The Federal Government welcomes the prevailing keen interest and partnerships for successful elections and peaceful Nigeria.

“However, we reject any interference or perception management that promotes apprehension, citizens’ distrust or undermines the transparency and acceptability of the outcomes of our electoral process.

“Nigeria reserves the right to be insulated from suggestions and or interference with respect to wholly internal affairs and commends international laws, customs and norms that mandate and require nations and the comity to respect this prerogative to all.”

OLUSOLA FABIYI, JOHN AMEH, OLALEKAN ADETAYO, ENIOLA AKINKUOTU, SUNDAY ABORISADE, FRIDAY OLOKOR, KAMARUDEEN OGUNDELE, FEMI MAKINDE, LEKE BAIYEWU, ADELANI ADEPEGBA, ABIODUN NEJO, BOLA BAMIGBOLA, JOHN CHARLES, ARMSTRONG BAKAM

Credit: The Punch

Dariye and the joys of VIP criminal

Dariye and the joys of VIP criminal

Joshua Dariye

By Paul Onomuakpokpo

It is an uncommon case that negates the Kafkaesque leitmotif that the law is beholden to the privileged, especially in a third world country like Nigeria – a former state governor, Joshua Dariye, was jailed for corruption.
Reflective of his preoccupation with the bizarre conundra of the human condition, Franz Kafka’s “Before the law” confronts us with the huge impediments in the path of the less privileged to get the law on their side. In the rare cases where the law grants access to the poor, it is because its defences have been broken down by bribery or the real fury of the oppressed.

But in the case of Dariye, the law is not really out to assert its equality before the rich and the poor. As a member of the privileged class, Dariye has found a way to make the law serve him even though he is in prison. Before Dariye went to jail, he was a serving senator. Dariye was Plateau State governor from 1999 to 2007. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuted him for embezzling N1.162 billion within this period. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison. But after his appeal was decided, this sentence was reduced to 10 years.

The unpredictability of the law and its amenability to the powerful comes into sharp relief in the case of Dariye as even though he is in jail, he is getting his salary as a senator. For the past six months, he has been receiving the N750,000 salary and N13.5 million monthly running cost from the National Assembly.

As though mocking the law and attempting to prove that the prison walls were no barriers to his social and political clout, Dariye even paid N8 million for a ticket for re-election as a senator on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). But apparently by a fortunate stroke of serendipity, the party staved off the imminent obloquy and threat to its political fortunes by disqualifying him. However, we should be reminded that Dariye was not on the path of recording a groundbreaking history as a senator who got elected into political office while in prison. No, he was on a beaten path. Before him, there were Iyiola Omisore and Theodore Orji who got elected as senator and governor while they were in prison.

Perhaps, Dariye became a governor ahead of his time. He should have waited for the APC and Buhari era. He might have been prosecuted and jailed for corruption because he was a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor. If he were a governor in the Buhari era, he would not have gone to jail. Even if the evidence of his culpability were stacked high against him, he would have been enjoying his proceeds of corruption in the plenitude of the freedom of the innocent. He would have even been one of those railing against the unmitigated corruption of the PDP era.

This is not far-fetched. In this Buhari and APC era, the patently corrupt become garlanded citizens. The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, was accused of stealing billions. Buhari was not willing to sack him. But it was only after so much pressure from the outraged public that Buhari suspended him. Buhari did not send the EFCC after him. So, Yusuf is somewhere enjoying his stolen billions while an investigation whose outcome we may not see is said to be going on. There is Abdullahi Ganduje who is accused of taking bribes in dollars. He is still the governor of Kano State. He has never been prosecuted by the EFCC. He is using his freedom to prepare for how he would deliver five million votes to Buhari next year. There is also Babachir Lawal who allegedly embezzled the money meant for the welfare of displaced persons.

Buhari was also not willing to sack him. And when he did after so much pressure, he did not prosecute him. Lawal even replaced himself with his relation. Lawal remains till today as a key member of the APC and he has unfettered access to Aso Rock. Still, there is the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai whose questionable source of income was enough to make him to be an owner of foreign assets in Dubai. There is Musiliu Obanikoro whose N500 million houses were seized from him because they were considered as proceeds of corruption. But they were returned to him after he defected from the PDP to APC. It was the same thing with Timipre Sylva whose confiscated 48 houses were returned to him because he is in APC.

Now, to justify the rank perfidy being perpetrated by Dariye, there has been the blithe recourse to legal sophistry. Dariye has taken his appeal to the Supreme Court and therefore his seat has not been declared vacant, so goes the argument of Dariye’s aide. And from the office of the Senate comes the argument that the National Assembly has not been informed that Dariye has been imprisoned.

Is this why the EFCC has not frozen his accounts and stopped the payment of salaries to a convicted prisoner? It is the same EFCC that was busy freezing the accounts of a whole state like Ekiti because it accused the governor, Ayodele Fayose, of corruption. It was the same thing in Benue State where Governor Samuel Ortom was accused of corruption after refusing to be used by Fulani herdsmen to wipe his people from the face of the earth. It is the same EFCC that has been freezing the accounts of Patience Jonathan and confiscating her property even though she has not been convicted.

Let us forget the legal cant and humbug. What should be clear to us is that in a nation that is sincere about fighting corruption, the right thing would have been for the salaries of Dariye to be stopped. If his appeal succeeds at the Supreme Court, then his suspended salaries could be paid to him. If his salaries cannot be stopped because the Supreme Court has not ruled, why should he be allowed to go to jail in the first place before the apex court’s verdict of guilt?

Inevitably, we are alerted to the grim reality that in these climes, anyone who wants to be a criminal must choose to be a big one. When the criminal has so many billions he can hire many Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) who would defend him. After all, it was the same way that President Muhammadu Buhari hired a plethora of SANs to defend him when he was simply asked to present his educational certificates. It is in the consciousness that the bigger the crime the better that government officials in the Buhari era approximate their fantasies to reality. Or why does Buhari claim to have achieved so much whereas misery stalks the land? Or why did Lai Mohammed find it easy to lie that the government spends N3.5 million monthly to feed the Shiites leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky while the latter is racked by neglect?

While the law protects the powerful even though they are corrupt, it is easily deployed to punish the weak under the guise of the flimsiest charge of its violation. This is why the prisons are brimming with the poor who stole chickens or goats because they were hungry. This was why Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State would pull down the building of Ayefele’s Music House even though no court had given an order that this was the most appropriate course of action for the state government.

Thus, like Dariye, erstwhile Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke might snigger when the EFCC hectors about the imperative of extraditing her in order for her to be prosecuted. This might be an opportunity she is waiting for to regain her freedom from the surveillance of the INTERPOL and the British Police. Secure in the knowledge of the pliability of the law and its bias for the privileged despite its avowed disposition to equality, she might be eager to return home to hire SANs. These would insist on her innocence and with dollar-inspired nous and vim, they would argue for the retrieval of her swanky property and bank accounts that have been confiscated before a court declared her guilty.

Credit: The Guardian