Soldiers Kill 23 Niger Delta Militants In Gun Battle

wenty-three Niger Delta militants were allegedly killed during a firefight with troops of the Nigerian Army.

Ibrahim Attahiru, general officer commanding (GOC), 82 Division, Enugu, disclosed this on Saturday, saying 55 assorted weapons were recovered and 38 camps destroyed.

He added that 91 illegal refineries were destroyed and many of the suspects fled with various degrees of injury.

“The precursor operations were followed by `Exercise Crocodile Smile’ proper, which was orchestrated and conducted with sequencing and lines of operation to upgrade the skills, expertise and competence of the troops in land and riverside environments,” he said.

“Over 3,000 soldiers were deployed along two axis on land, creeks and the general littoral area of the Niger Delta region, while forward-operating bases were established from where operations were conducted along the creeks and littoral area.”

Attahiru, however, regretted that four soldiers died during the exercise, explaining that three lost their lives in a boat mishap, while one died during cross fire with the militants.

He said the exercise was also used to cement relations with civilians through humanitarian services in neighbouring communities.

“Books, stationeries and generators were donated to some schools while others were given facelift and infrastructure improvement,” he said.

“The effects of these humanitarian programmes were immediately felt in the peaceful and warmth relationship that existed between troops and local communities throughout the exercise period.”

Attahiru said collaboration between the army and other security agencies, including the navy and air force and police, had remained “very emphatic’’.

He revealed that the recent voluntary handover of arms and ammunition by militants and “criminal elements” in Imo and Rivers had direct bearing with the exercise.

“By and large, the exercise was a huge success as those engaging in economic sabotage were stopped during the period, while a number of criminals, militants and economic saboteurs were also arrested,’’ he said.

The operation was largely carried out in Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers, as well as some states within the supervision of 82 Division of the Army.

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Plot To Drag Tinubu Into Dogara, Jibrin Fued Uncovered As Message Circulated Leaks

By Ibrahim Rugu

As the allegations of budget padding being thrown at each other by the former Chairman of the Appropriation Committee in the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin and the camp of Speaker Yakubu Dogara continues unabated, an alleged plot to drag the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu into the fued has been uncovered.

Hon. Dogara and Hon. Jibrin had been at loggerhead since the latter was removed as the appropriation committee chairman. While Jubrin accused the speaker among other things of padding the 2016 budget with N30billion and diverting some Federal Government projects to his constituency or personal use, the speaker’s camp in return accused Jubrin of padding the budget with N250bn and acting without other members of the appropriation committee.

Both camps have since been battling to outdo each other with Jibrin reeling out accusations upon accusations on a daily basis.

However, a new twist was added to the battle on Saturday following the leakage of a whatsapp message said to have been circulated by a member of the lower legislative chamber.

It is not clear what the true intent of the message is, but a clear indication is that Tinubu is being dragged into the fued.

“Plot to destabilize the leadership of the House of Reps has taken a new dimension as the AGF working with Gbajabiamila, Jibrin and SGF has drafted charges to arraign and detain principal officers of the House so that the transparency group which recently met with Tinubu’s wife will effect a leadership change with Gbajabiamila as Speaker and Jibrin as Deputy. This is why Jibrin did not mention Femi in his allegations. The 8th House won’t be anybody’s rubber stamp. We will resist them like the senate resisted them…,” the message which has been circulated to some members of the House of Representatives reads.

A source close to the sacked appropriation committee chairman who represents Kiru-Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano said they are not aware of the allegation in the message, describing it as a plot to divert attention from the real issue.

“Jibrin has not spoken to Jagaba for several months, especially because of the role he played in ensuring that Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Surulere) did not emerge the emerge the speaker of the House, a move allegedly not down with Tinubu.” the source said.

Recall that Femi Gbajabiamila who happens to be the choice of the All Progressives Congress (APC), narrowly lost the bid to emerge House Speaker, to Dogara.

The source further added that the same way they have bandied the name of Tinubu in the case involving Senate President Bukola Saraki is the same way they want to rope in Tinubu even when he has nothing to do with it.

Asked if Jibrin is is fighting this battle on personal vendetta, the source said “what does it matter? The speaker and his gang have been accused of tampering with the budget and as you may be aware, Jibrin has submitted his petition to the appropriate security agency. If they have nothing to hide, they should go and defend themselves instead of engaging in blackmail.”

Updated

A member of the House of Representative loyal to the camp of Speaker Yakubu Dogara has also denied knowledge of the whatsapp message allegedly circulated to members of the House.

According to the lawmaker, who does not want to be named, no message of such was sent to him. Although, he said he was not sure if others received such message, he said: “It could just be part of the ploy to nail the speaker at all cost.”

“You can see that Jibrin has been making all soughts of allegations in the past few days. This may just be one of them so as to be in the good books of people that matters”

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Soldiers Declared Missing At Battle Front With Boko Haram Found – Army

Please recall that some of our troops were missing in action after an ambush at Guro Gongon on 20th July 2016.

Consequently, concerted efforts were initiated to search for and rescue them. The measures include the use of air assets, Special Forces and patrols.

We wish to inform you that the search party has this morning found 5 more officers and soldiers that were declared missing in action, including the unit’s Commanding Officer.

Although they are in a stable condition, have been moved to our Medical facilities for medical care.

Thank you.

Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman
Acting Director Army Public Relations

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13 Months After, Abia Gov, Ikpeazu Moves Into Govt House, Battles For Survival

In a bid to close his flanks, embattled Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has moved into the Government House, 13 months after he assumed office.

The governor who had been operating from Aba since his inauguration on May 29, 2015 finally moved into the Government House at the weekend apparently in response to the looming threat to displace him by Mr. Uche Ogah, who was declared governor by a Federal High Court Abuja and issued certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last week.

Until now, Ikpeazu had been living in Aba citing the need to keep close tabs on the ongoing rehabilitation of the infrastructure in the commercial city and also to allow for completion of renovation work at the governor’s lodge.
Also, Ikpeazu yesterday worshipped at the Government House Unity Chapel for the first time since becoming governor and sought the face of God in prayers to overcome his present travails.

A day earlier, Ikpeazu, at a press conference, had insisted that he remains the chief executive of the state and also maintained that it was wrong to insinuate that there are two governors in Abia state, premising his position on the fact that he remains the only one that had taken the of Office and Oath of Allegiance as governor.
Yesterday, the governor led other members of Seventh Day Adventist Church as well as government officials, PDP stalwarts, including former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara, traditional rulers and a cross section of Abia people, to participate at the church service.

Ikpeazu, along with his deputy Sir, Ude Oko Chukwu, Speaker of Abia House of Assembly, Rt Honourable Martins Azubuike, and elder statesman, Elder Emma Adaelu, took turns to pray for a favourable outcome of his appeal against the judgment of Justice Okon Abang that nullified his mandate.

Preaching at the special service, President, Eastern Nigeria Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Pastor Bassey Udoh, urged Ikpeazu to cling to God in his present circumstance as God alone has the final say in all matters.
While urging the governor to remain silent and wait on the Lord to do his battle, he assured him that “God is still in charge and does not end His things half way,” adding that “God has never lost any battle”.

He told Ikpeazu that the current political crisis in Abia had come at the right time to enable God redeem the state, noting that crisis situations like this would enable the governor to know those actually on his side, adding that he should “not be deterred by hypocrites who have already identified with his opponents”.
Pastor Udoh described the federal high court judgment that nullified Ikpeazu’s election as “a sinking sand” hence it would not stand because whatever God did not plan will not work.

Meanwhile the Abia state attorney general and commissioner for justice, Chief Umeh Kalu, has vehemently debunked the claims by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it did not receive any Notice of Appeal from Ikpeazu or an injunction stopping the Commission from issuing a Certificate of Return to Dr. Uche Ogah.
He pointedly stated that “INEC lied in its claims”, explaining that a proof of service has shown that the Commission did indeed receive the two important documents and it was signed for by Saleh N. Ibrahim, Senior Clerical Officer at the Legal Services Department at INEC headquarters, Abuja.

He said: “It’s unfortunate that INEC said that it was not served. But the truth is that they were served. I have a proof to that. Saleh N. Ibrahim, Senior Clerical Officer at the Legal Services Department of the Commission’s Headquarters, Abuja, stamped the Notice of Appeal and Injunction with the Commission’s official stamp by 12.50pm on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

“With the foregoing, it is now clear that the Commission had no reason or cause to proceed with their dangerous action of issuing a Certificate of Return to Dr. Uche Ogah when it was clearly in receipt of a Notice of Appeal and Stay of Execution expressly forbidding them from taking any further action on the Judgment of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court pending the determination of the Appeal in the case.
“It is rather surprising that the Commission could lend itself to be used for an act capable of destabilising a state in Nigeria with the attendant consequences for anarchy and breakdown of law and order,” Kalu said.

Also, the State Government has continued to dispel any notion suggesting that Ikpeazu was no longer the governor of the state, saying that the status quo has not changed.
This was contained in a statement signed by the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos, saying, that the state government “wishes to reiterate for the umpteenth time that Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu remains the Governor of Abia State irrespective of whatever order was issued by the Federal High Court and the consequential actions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) pending the full exhaustion of all judicial avenues of seeking redress.”

Ogah however said at the weekend that he would been sworn in in due course.
“Dr Ikpeazu has been duly removed as Abia state Governor and not amount of legal shenanigans and illegal public holidays will derail the law of the land taking full effect.

Dr Ogah will be sworn-in in due course so as to avoid the dangerous power vacuum that currently exists in Abia state, and for him to begin the urgent task of empowering Abians with his laudable developmental programmes already lined up,” Special Adviser to Ogah on Public Communications, Mr. Monday Onyekachi Ubani, said at a news conference in Abuja.

He said Ogah’s declaration as governor by the court was a victory for the sanctity of the law and “testimony to the majesty of the rule of law upon which constitutional governance is founded and relied on in Nigeria”.

Ubani said INEC acted within its powers as a law-abiding institution in issuing Ogah a certificate of return so as to avoid an unpalatable leadership vacuum in the state.
Regarding the controversy over the issue of stay of execution of the valid order by the Federal High Court, Ubani argued that the difference between a pre-election matter on which the Federal High Court based its ruling on and the post-election trial of electoral matters by tribunals on the issue of stay of execution or arrest of judgement is very clear.

“In a pre-election matter the enforceability of a court judgement is immediate as the losing side in the legal argument, in this case, Dr Ikpeazu, was never adjudged to have been qualified to contest the election in the first place while in a post-election matter the mandate enjoyed by an incumbent subsists until the tribunal or appellate courts rule otherwise,” he said.

As tension mounts over the governorship crisis in the state, Police Force headquarters has said it would ensure law and order is maintained. Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Donald Awunah, said the Police were on top of the situation and would continue to monitor developments to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order in the state.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the capital city with more anti-riot policemen stationed at strategic areas of the city. The main entrance gate to the government house has also been blocked by the police leaving the exit gate to serve dual purposes of entry and exit.

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Battle For 2019 Has Started — PDP Chair, Sheriff… Begs Gana, Others

Ali Modu Sheriff, National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said, yesterday, that the battle for 2019 general election had started in earnest.

Appealing to aggrieved stakeholders of the party to put aside their differences, the chairman said PDP could not afford to remain divided if its desired goal was to be achieved.

He also distanced himself from the comment made by Inuwa Bwala, his media aide, regarding the call for Sheriff to step down.

Bwala had referred to the stakeholders, who made the demand as “self-styled” elders, threatening to report Jerry Gana, former Minister of Information and leader of the group, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly defrauding the PDP to the tune of N500 million.

But reacting at a media briefing in Jalingo, Taraba State capital, Sheriff said: “As a well cultured and astute politician, I would never make any comment that would ridicule the party.”

He added that it was not in his character to join issues with highly respected elders, noting that he never authorised any of his aides to react to issues raised by the aggrieved elders.

Sheriff said the elders deserved the right to complain about issues they considered inimical to the progress of the PDP.

He explained that the present leadership of the party was poised to lend a listening ear to all shades of opinions, with a view to strengthening it to face the challenges ahead.

“Under our leadership and the support and encouragement of stakeholders and supporters, PDP will definitely bounce back in 2019,” he said.

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Rivers: Tension As Thugs Engage DSS Operatives In Gun Battle, Kills One

Barely few hours to the conduct of the rerun elections in Rivers State, thugs on Friday engaged operatives of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), in a gun battle in the state.

The operatives were intercepted in Egi area of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area of the state?, killing one in the process.

According to reports a team of security operatives were intercepted during their operations in the area ahead Saturday’s rerun elections. The interception reportedly resulted in a fierce gun battle between the security personnel and the hoodlums.

Assistant Director of Army Public Relations, 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Captain Eli Lazarus, in a statement said the shootout lasted for several hours.

He said: “A joint security team consisting of the Army, Police and DSS, while conducting patrol today (Friday), at Egi in Omoku Community of Ogba/Ndoni/Egbema Local Government Area of Rivers State, were attacked by unknown gunmen.

“The criminals engaged the security team for several hours before they were eventually dislodged. Sadly, a security agent lost his life in the unfortunate incident. Reinforcement has been sent to beef up security in the area and normalcy has been restored.”

The 2 Brigade therefore urged members of the public to remain calm and be law abiding throughout the “election period and beyond, as security agents will continue to work assiduously to ensure security of lives and property”.

There is undoubtedly serious tension in Rivers state as reports emerged on Thursday that gunmen suspected to be sea pirates shot dead three soldiers and a major in the Nigerian army.

Before the gruesome murder of these security personnel, the state had been witnessing killings along party lines. A development that made some political actor like the All Progressives Congress (APC) acting national chairman, Segun Oni, alleged that the killing of his party members are politically motivated.

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Tinubu Reveals The Toughest Battle Of His Political Career

Bola Tinubu, national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has revealed that the race to unseat former President Goodluck Jonathan was the toughest of his political career.

Tinubu, known to be a dogged politician who has fought many battles, told The Sun in an interview that Jonathan’s camp bombarded people with the kind of money that required letting go of “personal temptation” to resist.

“President Jonathan’s battle was the toughest. When you are fighting the incumbent, it is tough,” he said.

“You had the challenge of terrorism; you had a class that is divided and a nation that was almost moving from its focus of religious tolerance and diversity to religious division. You had a system that had been corrupted beyond any­body’s imagination. People were being bombarded with money in Lagos. But you have to forget personal temptation.”

Tinubu also spoke on why he used his resources to fight for the enthronement of good governance in the country, explaining that he derives pleasure in fighting the status quo “if it is perverted”.

“I am not a thoroughbred politician, having come from a corpo­rate background. But I believe in strategy; and strategy to win is that of every politician,” he said.

“We can be politically sensitive and come up with the fact that you want to be a good politician but no boxer steps into the ring to lose. No investor would want to invest to lose; otherwise, you can carry your money and throw it to the Lagoon. You are there to win.

“How do you plan that strategy to win and to come on top? That is where I always like to specialise. Then, there are elements of diabolical perversion in the political process paticu­larly in the maintenance of status quo. Mine is to chal­lenge the status quo if it is perverted. How do I chal­lenge it?”

Tinubu said his first litmus test in political battles was the 1999 governorship election in Lagos when he had to contend with a lot of forces. “When we came back in 1999 and the political space was opened, we had our politi­cal party, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the plat­form where I contested,” he said.

“The perversion started with the so-called delegates’ election. How can I want a free and fair election if I subscribe to the delegates’ election where you buy people like chickens and apples and you pay them off? I said let the Lagos people determine through the political party structure who and who they wanted.

“I created a process to eliminate that delegates’ election system and we won. We won the debate and we now have direct primaries in all the local governments. Those who have followed politics here know that it was a tough battle between Funsho Williams of blessed memory and myself. I won 17 local governments out of 20 and in two of them, there were no elections. They chewed the results in my local government, Ikeja. Lagos Mainland was the stronghold of late Funsho Williams and Ikorodu too with Ogunlewe and co. But we challenged the status quo because it was evident that I won that election no matter whatever story any­body tells you. I still have that record. It is there. Then I was determined to form a government that is profes­sionally and intellectually balanced to be a model for other states. It is very easy for people to forget.”

He also spoke on how he survived when other south-west governors under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) lost their seats due to a deal entered with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“The high is when I survived as the only governor and one man standing on the platform of the AD in the South West after the 2003 governorship election,” he said.

“In leadership and political battles, you must be able to recognise the talent of your opponent. Don’t ever underestimate your opponent particularly a per­sonality like former Presi­dent Obasanjo. First, he is not just an army general for nothing; they call their overall fatigue uniform, camouflage. What does that mean? Deception! They are trained in strategy, deception and tactics to defeat the enemy. If you underestimate them, you do that at your own peril. If you now recognize that quality in them, you know how to play the game with them.

“There are some aspects of it that I cannot discuss here; they are my own weapons tomorrow. When I started a journey of a tree that can make a forest, the game is first of all, survive. I made it clear that everybody should know that this friendship is laced with poison. I kept the warning to everybody very loud. How can you trust a man whose uniform is camouflage? How can I believe that he is my politi­cal friend when I am in the opposition? No, draw the battle line.”

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Sambisa Is Last Battle Ground With Boko Haram, Says DHQ

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday said Boko Haram has been knocked down in Borno and other parts of the Northeast.

It said the only battle ground left is in the Sambisa Forest, the about 80 kilometres swathe of thick bush that is the sect’s stronghold.

It said once the battle for Sambisa is over, Boko Haram will become a thing of the past.

But the DHQ pleaded for support from every citizen because it is a Nigerian war against Boko Haram insurgents.

Director of Defence Information Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar spoke exclusively with our correspondent against the backdrop of the allegation by Senator Baba Kaka Garbai (Borno Central) that half of Borno State is still being occupied by Boko Haram.

Gen. Abubakar said: “The situation is clear on how much we have decimated Boko Haram. Technically, we have knocked down these insurgents.

“ The insurgents have been beaten and I stand by what I said. I can beat my chest that the insurgents have been decimated.

“All these attacks on soft targets do not mean that Boko Haram insurgents are occupying any territory. They are carrying out these attacks in order to remain relevant. The insurgents are pretending to be alive when in reality they have lost out.

“The attacks on soft targets by the insurgents do not translate to occupation of territories or some parts of Borno State or the North-East.

“The insurgents’ attacks on soft targets are not peculiar to Nigeria. These terrorists do so in the U.S. France, Britain, and many countries. We are doing our best to protect these soft targets.”

Gen. Abubakar said: “What is left is Sambisa Forest. That is the last battle ground with the insurgents.

“ This Forest is about 80kilometres but I believe very soon, we will overrun the Forest and rout out the insurgents. We will certainly send them packing from the Sambisa Forest.”

“For anyone to make a claim that half of Borno State is under the insurgents is not helping the military. It is just to get media attention. We have decimated Boko Haram. This is the reality.

“We want to appeal to Nigerians to appreciate and support our gallant troops to maintain the high rate of success we have achieved in the war against the insurgents.

“This is a Nigerian war versus the insurgents. Boko Haram is a national catastrophe which requires the support of all to address. Every Nigerian must be seen to be contributing morally to the war against these insurgents. “

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Benue Assembly: PDP, APC In Epic Battle As Plot To Remove Speaker Thickens

 

By Adah Samson Ocholi

Following a High Court ruling ordering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh election for Ushongo and Mbagwa constituencies where the Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly, Hon Terkimbi Ikyange represents, there have been attempts by lawmakers to unsit him.

The latest being just over a week ago when member representing Agatu state constituency, Hon. Sule Audu raised a motion questioning the eligibility of the Speaker to preside over the house sitting. Although the issue was squashed and several lawmakers have since publicly denied knowledge of any plot, details of the overtures behind the scenes have continued to emerge.

It was discovered that the plot was hatched by the Deputy Speaker, Hon James Okefe after falling out with Hon. Ikyange over the outcome of a contract scam involving the purchase of vehicles for assembly members and his desire to remain Deputy Speaker should Hon Ikyange relinquish his seat as a result of the High Court ruling.

A close source revealed that Hon. Okefe, a PDP member who teamed up with the APC for the sake of being made the Deputy Speaker, recently met with Hon. Paul Biam, another PDP member recently installed by the court who has also not hidden his desire to be Hon Ikyange’s replacement. It was the fallout of this meeting that it was agreed that Hon Sule Audu will move a motion for the removal of the Speaker.

Unfortunately, the motion was left high and dry when it was raised on the floor of the house because most PDP lawmakers were unaware of the plan.

This was apparent when member representing Ukum state constituency, Hon Kester Kyenge (PDP), speaking on Radio Benue, denied knowledge of any plan to remove the Speaker.

He said, “We didn’t call on the Speaker to resign but rather sought to be clarified on the issue and also reiterate our support for the Speaker ”

With the APC and PDP having equal number of lawmakers and the High Court order yet to be clearly understood, interesting times lie ahead for the Benue State House of Assembly.

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APC, PDP Senators Set For Battle Over Amaechi …Fireworks Likely At His Screening 

Weeks after he was tipped as a minister by President Muhammadu Buhari, former Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s nomination is still generating ripples at the Senate.

He is billed for screening tomorrow – six days after 18 of the 21 ministerial nominees on Buhari’s first list were cleared.

Senators, it was gathered yesterday, are set for an epic battle over his screening.

Amaechi and Adebayo Shittu, a former member of Oyo State House of Assembly in the Second Republic, are the ones remaining on the list to be cleared.

The president has since replaced the 21st person on the list and  the immediate past deputy governor of Niger State, Musa Ibeto.

Some of the minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators are spoiling for war –  initiated from outside the Senate – vowing to stop Amaechi’s screening, but their All Progressives Congress (APC) counterparts are set to ensure his clearance.

“We are allowing the minority to have their say. We will have our way,” Senate Leader Ali Ndume, (APC, Borno North), said last night.

He said: “This issue of Amaechi is generating unnecessary tension. I think being a two-term governor and a former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, he is qualified to be a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The report of the Senate Committee is ready and we will go ahead with the screening of the nominee. Our responsibility lies in ensuring that Amaechi has met the requirements of the constitution.

“We have to confirm if he is truly from Rivers State, his agenda for the nation and if he has the capacity to serve this country.”

Ndume added: “There is no provision in the 1999 Constitution or the Senate Standing Orders that says you must disqualify a nominee because of a petition.

“If anyone has issues or allegations against Amaechi, let the person go to court to prove these. Under normal circumstance, Amaechi ought to take a bow in view of his past records.

“But we will want to hear from him what he has in stock for the nation which he wants to serve.

“ We will consider the report of the committee on Tuesday or any time in the week. But this noise from PDP cannot stop Amaechi’s confirmation.

“We have 58 APC Senators (excluding the President of the Senate who has no vote unless there is a tie) and we are all united behind Amaechi. The PDP has 48 Senators. Assuming that all the PDP Senators are against Amaechi, the majority will still have its way.

“Section 5 of the constitution is very clear on the powers of the President. President Muhammadu Buhari has exercised his powers by appointing his nominees. Those aggrieved should go to court.”

It was learnt that members of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions have sorted out their differences and finalised the report on the petition against Amaechi.

A member of the committee said: “We have completed our assignment and we will present our report to the Senate on Tuesday.

“I will not tell you our recommendation but we have been fair to the petitioner and the defendant based on issues and precedents.

“This petition gave us a tough time because a lot of legal intricacies are involved. Nigerians are becoming more interested in who leads them.”

Ahead of Amaechi’s screening, there has been a division in the rank of PDP senators.

Some of them were said to have told their colleagues that they may not support the position of the party to “halt the screening and confirmation of Amaechi.”

It was gathered that the PDP senators backing Amaechi based their decision on personal grounds.

One of them said: “I think on a personal note, he is qualified for the job. He has the capacity to deliver on any assignment given to him.

“Some of us also do not believe in politics of tit-for-tat. Amaechi worked against our victory but politics is fluid, he might be with us tomorrow.”

Another PDP senator said: “I think the interest of the nation should be paramount. This screening of Amaechi is assuming a personal dimension. We should be concerned more about his ability for the job than anything else.

“As for the allegations of graft, the court will always be there to prove Amaechi guilty or otherwise. Stopping him will amount to arrogating the powers of the court to the Senate.

“My position is that a minister does not have immunity. So, he can still be prosecuted while in office.

“I think Governor Ayo Fayose set a template for our caucus in the Senate by directing the three senators from Ekiti to support ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi’s nomination.”

Also yesterday, two groups defended the nomination of Hajiya Aisha Abubakar as the first female ministerial nominee from Sokoto State.

They urged the Senate to ignore the petition from some politicians in the state.

A group, “The Concerned Sokoto People”, said it was uncharitable to embark on such an act against a morally upright woman.

It said: “We will sadly add that it is a grave disservice to Nigerians, to President Buhari, to the APC and to Sokoto people, that it is only from Sokoto State, that an APC chieftain, a defacto leader will sponsor, in whatever guise, a frivolous petition challenging the carefully selected nomination of a minister from his own state by his own President.

“President Buhari has made it clear that he and he alone will be responsible for who serves in his government. All APC leaders across the country have accepted this position and have supported the president to succeed so that this country,  can move forward.

The group described the nominee as a role model of gender equality in the predominantly conservative northern state of Sokoto.

It added: “She is not only an international banker and top manager of human and material resources, she has dedicated herself as an employee in national and regional institutions to the promotion of developmental issues that target the low and middle income earners in Nigeria and Africa”.

Another group, “Concerned Stakeholders for Good Governance”, dismissed issues raised against Hajiya Abubakar, saying the allegations were not tenable.

The forum described as worrisome, the move by interest groups discriminating against President Buhari’s choice of a ministerial nominee based on gender.

The forum said: “Having served in various organisations in the public service with over 20 years’ experience in banking and investment, rural enterprise development and micro-credit administration, international development, policy analysis and business support, she is adequately qualified.

“There is no legal requirement under any Nigerian law that a person must be a member of a political party before they can be appointed Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or to any other executive position and it is in this regard that the appointment of Abubakar has in no way contravened any legal provision as far as party membership is concerned.

“Aisha is a daughter of ex-super Permanent Secretary and Finance Minister Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji and current Sardauna of Sokoto and heir to the sultanate throne which makes her a seventh  generation descendant of Sheikh Usman Danfodio, the 18th century founder of the Sokoto Caliphate.

“Also from the maternal side, she is a granddaughter of his Eminence, Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki, the 18th Sultan of Sokoto.”

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Saraki: Fighting A Lost Battle, By Habib Gajam

Since the inception of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Governmenton May 29, the National Assembly particularly the Senate has become a theatre of political confusion which has dominated the Nigerian political space-and has generated a lot of controversy in the courts of public opinion. This is not unconnected with the way and manner in which its leadership emerged.

The current travails of Nigeria’s number 3 citizen, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki could be seen as a direct consequence of the events and intricacies of June 9, the day the 8th Assembly was inaugurated. Saraki in a desperate bid to become the Senate President blatantly disregarded his Party’s arrangement and went into a political marriage of convenience with 49 PDP Senators and a handful of their APC counterparts. Senator Ike Ekweremadu is the biggest beneficiary of that consummation having emerged as Saraki’s Deputy in a strange and unpopular arrangement, thereby subverting the will of Nigerians. This has in no small measure undermined the APC and its change agenda. The no love-lust relationship between Saraki and the APC further deepened when he yet again, disregarded the party’s proposed nominees for Principal Officers in the upper chamber in a winner-takes-all manner.

This singular move by Saraki was the last straw that broke the camel’s back thereby leaving bleak, any chances of reconciliation and even consolidation in the Red Chamber. Concession and compromise in the art of politics and governance are key to the success and survival of leaders. Perhaps Saraki should have read and understood the implication of Robert Greene’s Law 47 in his famous book, The 48 Laws of Power – Do Not Go Past The Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When to Stop. Robert Green expatiated this Law by warning that…”Never let Success go to your head and cause you to be arrogant or overconfident. Going too far will surely attract enemies. When you’ve reached your goal, stop! Luck and circumstance always play a role in power. This is inevitable, and actually makes the game more interesting”.

The House of Representatives despite having a larger and relatively younger population, and more prone to crises, was able to avoid such quagmire as a result of the all-inclusive style of leadership exhibited by its Speaker, Yakubu Dogara. This has not only stabilized the Green Chamber, it has also endeared the Speaker to the Party Leadership and Nigerians by extension.

Speculations from many quotas are ripe that the strong man of South West politics Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is behind Saraki’s travails on the 13- Count charges against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and his subsequent trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). Others are of the opinion that it is not unconnected to the Senate Power Probe initiated by Saraki to investigate allegations of massive fraud and corruption in the Power Sector. This school of thought opines that since Saraki has decided to go after the cabal believed to have siphoned Millions of Dollars in this sector without commensurate results, they will not go down alone. You don’t throw stones at your neighbors when you live in a glass house.

These “forces” Mr Saraki stepped  on will not waver. His eight-year tenure as the helmsman of Kwara State, his stint as a Director in Societe Generale Bank (Nig), his tenure as President Obasanjo’s Special Assistant on Budget, and even his work as a Medical Officer at Rush Green Hospital in far Essex United Kingdom will come under serious scrutiny by these forces. They will not relent until they put the final nail on his political coffin.

Political witch-hunt (as Saraki’s sympathizers would argue) or Justice taking its natural course, have become the most glaring arguments in this whole saga. The wave of allegations lined up against him (and maybe many more to come) will eventually distract the man from performing his duties as the president of the Senate. This was not the deal Nigerians bargained for. The over ambition and greed of an individual cannot hold this country to ransom. The large turn out of Senators in court as a mark of solidarity to their principal does not depict him as popular, it merely shows that corruption is still celebrated in the Senate. They should rise above sentiments and let the rule of law take its course without interference .

 

Dr Saraki should have seen the writing on the wall with the current government’s zero tolerance for corruption particularly in the public service. If found guilty of the charges leveled against him, the shield hitherto enjoyed by privileged high and mighty will not protect him from the long arms and blind eyes of the law. It may have been a lost battle already.

Email: habibgajam08@yahoo.com
Twitter: @habibgajam

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Delta Tribunal: Emerhor, Okowa Battle Over Subpoena On INEC

There was drama at the Delta State Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal on Thursday in the hearing of the motions filed by the three respondents in the petition, as counsel for the parties in the case battle over a subpoena served on the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The state governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the April 11 election, O’tega Emerhor, is challenging the declaration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the April poll.

Counsel for the APC, Thompson Okpoko (SAN), at the resumed hearing in the petition on Thursday, branded counsel for the three respondents as “meddlesome interlopers and rabble rousers”, whose applications were meant to cause confusion and stall the hearing of the petition.

Joined in the suit are Okowa as the first respondent, the PDP as the second respondent while the Independent National Electoral Commission, consisting of the REC and Collation Officer, Prof Bio, as the third, fourth, and fifth respondents respectively.

Okpoko had, at the last sitting, raised the alarm that he had been served with three motions by the respondents when he was supposed to call his witnesses in the in the petition, which is before a three-man panel headed by Justice Nasir Gunmi.

Okowa’s counsel, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN), in moving the application, urged the tribunal to set aside APC subpoena (Duce Tekum)  earlier granted by the tribunal on INEC to appear at the tribunal.

Also, PDP’s counsel, Timothy Kehinde (SAN), aligned with Okowa’s counsel, arguing that the subpoena was an indirect way of asking the tribunal to sit on appeal over an earlier ruling refusing the petitioner’s application for further and better particulars.

Kehinde averred that the subpoena was “a surreptitious means to revisit the application to call additional witnesses”.

He said the documents of the petition were documents not pleaded or listed in the petition, urging the tribunal to dismiss request.

The SAN said the subpoena “is misleading and meant to overreach the PDP, who will have no opportunity for a rebuttal”.

Counsel for INEC, Damien Dodo (SAN), described the subpoena as a “tactical manoeuvre by the petitioner to bring documents that were not pleaded nor were listed”.

He argued that a petitioner “must either rise or fall with the structure of our petition”.

Okpoko argued that the three applications were an attempt to defeat the petition by delaying the hearing of the petition.

The SAN added, “These applications have one purpose: It is to stall the hearing of the petition and an attempt to defeat it by delaying the hearing of the petition. The application is borne out of rabble rousing. It is to cause confusion. They are meddlesome interlopers and trying to cry louder than the bereaved.”

He noted that the subpoena was not served on either the first or the second respondents.

Okpoko admitted that INEC could apply to set aside the subpoena, but averred that in this petition, the provision of law was not applicable.

The tribunal Chairman, Justice Nasiru Gunmi adjourned to Friday for ruling on the matter.

Source: The Punch
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