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June 12: ‘Immortalise Abiola, Wife’

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Thirteen years after the death of Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, Presidential Poll, his family on Saturday called on the Federal Government to immortalise him. Abiola died while in custody in Abuja on July 7, 1998.

He was arrested for declaring himself president following the annulment of the election which he was adjudged to have won.

Speaking at a forum organised by the Action Group of Nigeria (AGN) at Abiola’s residence in Ikeja, his son, Jamiu Abiola, said it was high time the late politician and his late wife, Kudirat, were immortalised.

“Nigeria should name monuments after MKO and his late wife, Kudirat.

“My parents sacrificed their lives for the democracy Nigerians are enjoying today and it is so painful that they are yet to be given their rightful place in the annals of the nation’s history.

“If the government refuses to properly honour them, we leave it to God. In civilized countries, it would never have happened,’’ he said.

Abiola said the family was not asking for contracts or appointments as compensation, but that the nation should recognise the sacrifices his parents had made.

“For Nigeria to move forward, one of the ways is to honour all those who laid down their lives for democracy.

“People like Alfred Rewane, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti and others should also be immortalised as heroes of our democracy,” he stressed.

“How will Nigeria move forward when the beneficiaries of my father’s sacrifices refuse to acknowledge that he bought them democracy with his life?,’’ he asked.

Abiola thanked Nigerians who stood by the family by keeping the ideals of June 12 alive.

In his speech, Prof. Pat Utomi, the Protem National Chairman, Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP) and Chairman of the forum, said June 12 should be observed as a national memorial day.

“The day should be set aside in memory of the nation’s heroes.

“Nations are built on myths. A country without heroes will lack the soul and spirit to overcome challenges that come with nation building.

“This is why we are thankful for the privilege of having had men like Abiola walk the path they did and gave their all that generations yet unborn may be inspired to give.

“It is for Nigeria to attain the dreams of its founding fathers,’’ he said.

Mr Mike Igini, a newly-appointed INEC National Commissioner, stressed the need for a fresh voters’ register if Nigeria must get it right in 2011.

He noted that the June 12, 1993, elections were successful because voting took place simultaneously and were free and fair.

He urged states Houses of Assembly to adopt the recommendations of the Justice Mohammed Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee, describing them as panacea to free polls.

In his remarks, Mr Tony Uran, the National Secretary, United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), called for adequate mobilisation and sensitisation toward the 2011 polls.

Mr Mohammed Fawehinmi, son of the late human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, said:“Abiola gave us a platform to actualize participatory democracy.

“We must do our best to make 2011 a year of electoral rebirth.

Dignitaries at the occasion included the President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, a former Vice Chancellor, University of Calabar, Prof. Kelvin Etta, and the National Secretary of SDMP, Dr Sadiq Abubakar.

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Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court

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The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.

Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.

The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.

It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.

They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.

According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.

The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.

However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.

Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.

The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.

Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.

He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.

More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.

Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.

The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.

Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.

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World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.

The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.

The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.

“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.

“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?

“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.

“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.

“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.

“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”

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Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation

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Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.

It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.

The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.

“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.

Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.

It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.

It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.

“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’

“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.

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