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Bayelsa Guber Race: Court Orders INEC To Include PDP Candidate

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There was wide jubilation yesterday in Barrister Seriake Dicksons’ camp following an Abuja court’s order directing the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to include his name as a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next month’s governorship election in Bayelsa State.

Last week, the electoral body released a total of 35 names representing different parties for the election without naming any person in the PDP, because of what it called “litigation”.

However, Dickson approached the Abuja court for remedy and an interim injunction directing INEC to include his name was obtained.

Justice G.K. Olotu gave the order following an application for “judiciary review by way of mandamus” in terms of the reliefs set out in the statement of facts that accompanied the application.

Justice Olotu after hearing the submission of Barristers F. N. Nwosu and Obinna Mbuka, counsels for Hon. Dickson in a 17 paragraph affidavit restrained INEC from further removing or excluding the applicant and his deputy, John Jonah as duly nominated candidates of PDP from contesting the February election in Bayelsa State.

The order according to the court is given under rule 34(5)(3) of the Federal High, and thereafter adjourned the case to January 26 for hearing.

Immediately the news filtered in Yenagoa, there was a wild jubilations among PDP supporters in Dickson’s camp. A party stalwart described the situation as positive development in the efforts to bring change to the state.

But in his reaction, Chief Timpre Sylva, described the order as “strange, despicable, and untenable.” An Abuja Federal High Court granted the order late Wednesday night under an unusually heavy police presence, which compels the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to publish the name of Mr. Seriake Dickson as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February 11, governorship election in the state.

The governor  on INEC to challenge the “immoral, ungodly and pathetic” court order obtained by fraud in the dead of the night.

Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Doifie Ola, Sylva said the order and the processes leading to it were “a grave insult to the integrity of the judiciary”.

Governor Sylva noted that prior to the events of Wednesday, he had instructed his lawyers to do a permanent search at the court registry to monitor the judiciary in case his adversaries were up to any tricks. Through the search at the registry, his lawyers found the pendency of a suit filed by Dickson against INEC requesting for an order of mandamus to compel the electoral commission to publish his name as the PDP candidate for the 2012 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State.

He explained that when the finding was brought to his attention, he instructed his lawyers to file a joinder, as an interested party, requesting a stay of proceedings on the suit, pending the determination of the motion for joinder.

Sylva observed that on Wednesday, 17 January, both parties were in court until 6.30pm, and about that time, the registrar of the court called the lawyer to Dickson into the chambers. The governor’s lawyer was not invited, but he followed them into the chambers. In the chamber, the judge, Mrs. Olotu, pointedly told his lawyer that she did not invite him, but the lawyer insisted he was an interested party in the matter and deserved to be there.

The governor noted that at this point, the judge threatened his lawyer with armed policemen, saying if he did not go away, the police would be instructed to throw him out forcefully. Out of respect for the institution of the judiciary, Sylva’s lawyer left the judge’s chamber, but he remained in court till 9pm, when about 100 policemen were brought into the court premises to forcefully chase out the lawyer and other sympathisers of Governor Sylva.

Sylva said he later learnt that 15 minutes after the police action, after his lawyer and supporters had been chased out, an order was granted by the judge.

Sylva is aware that what Dickson sought was an ex parte motion for relief to compel INEC to put his name as PDP candidate. But the judge went ahead and granted not only the leave to compel INEC to publish the name, but also the mandatory order to compel INEC to put Dickson’s name as the PDP candidate.

The governor observed that in so doing, Justice Olotu determined the substantive relief sought by Dickson at the ex parte stage, which meant that INEC was not heard, his application for stay was not heard, and the relief Dickson was seeking had been heard at this preliminary stage.

“It is sad that on these matters that are awaiting determination at the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, a judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria will go ahead to hear and give a ruling,” Sylva observed.

Governor Sylva observed that there was enough material before the court to show that the subject matter of Dickson’s application was a matter of litigation at the Supreme Court. He interpreted the Justice Olotu’s action as sitting on an appeal that is before the Supreme Court

Sylva sees the speed with which the matter has been determined as a clear pointer to the fact that the judge was interested not only in justice but in some other special interests.

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Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking Of Ancient Arts

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The Federal Government and the United States, yesterday, signed the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) Agreement.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the CPIA would reduce the pillage of Nigeria’s ancient arts which are mostly smuggled to Europe, the US and other places for the benefit of art collectors.
Mohammed said the signing of the MoU became necessary because, despite all efforts by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies, to prevent illicit export of the nation’s archaeological and ethnological materials, widespread looting and illicit excavation of these materials still continue.
He said this when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the CPIA with the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.
Special Assistant to the President on Media, Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking of Ancient Arts.’
Mohammed was quoted as saying, “This legislation was enacted by the United States to restrict the importation into the US of archaeological materials ranging in date from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1770 as well as ethnological materials, including those associated with royal activity, religious activity, etc from nations that have entered into the kind of bilateral initiative that we are signing here with the United States today.”
The minister said on the basis of the agreement, Nigerian antiquities being imported into the US without the requisite export permit will be seized at the border of the US and returned to Nigeria without the arduous and costly task of going through the labyrinth of judicial and diplomatic processes.
“We are optimistic that this agreement will reduce the pillage of our irreplaceable archaeological and ethnological materials, as the market for these materials is being shut in the United States against illicit traffickers.
“The agreement will last for an initial period of five years. If it works well, as we anticipate it will, it shall be renewed for a longer term. We implore other friendly nations to take a cue from the United States of America and join us in finding means to prevent the illegal importation of our antiquities into their countries,” he said.
The minister, who thanked the US Government, in particular the US Embassy in Nigeria, for making the MoU possible, said the Nigerian Government looks forward to a diligent implementation of the landmark agreement, so it can become a game-changer in the nation’s efforts to prevent the looting of its priceless ancient works of art.
In her remarks, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Beth Leonard, said the agreement was aimed at preserving, restoring and protecting Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
“In Nigeria, over the past decade, the US Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government and state institutions to preserve cultural landmarks and sites through projects worth over one million dollars and funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
“Just last November, I signed a grant award to digitally survey the Busanyin Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove. That $125,000 grant will help document a series of shrines within the Grove and provide training to local professionals in digital tools and cultural heritage management,” she said.
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Three Out Of 10 Nigerians Are Mentally Sick -Reps

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The House of Representatives has said that three out of every 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or another.
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, the House added that over 20,000,000 Nigerians were currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Health Institutions and Healthcare Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health towards improving mental health facilities around the country and further carry out serious sensitization of Nigerians on this issue.
It also asked the Committee on Health Institution to explore the modalities of liaising with stakeholders in the health sector to promote, educate and sensitise Nigerians on mental health.
The resolution, however, followed a motion titled “Need to Address the Rising Cases of Mental Health in Nigeria” presented by Hon. Uchechuku Nnam-Obi from Rivers State and considered by the House at yesterday’s plenary.
Presenting his motion, Nnam-Obi noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual can cope with the stress of life, work productively and contribute to the community.
According to him, mental illness manifests in mood disorder, anxiety disorder, trauma-related disorder, personality disorder, old age-related disorder, substance abuse disorder or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.
He said: “According to the World Health Organisation statistics, over twenty million Nigerians are currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
“Three out of 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or the other, presently there is no mental health legislation in Nigeria. However, the Nigerian mental health policy is the only framework that has access to mental healthcare, dealing with mental and neurological disorders in Nigeria, discouraging stigmatisation against persons with mental disorders and has institutionalised standards for Psychiatric practice.
“The increase in cases of depression is traceable to multifactorial inter and intrapersonal issues which leads to suicidal death in the country and this requires urgent attention.
“Nigeria has only 130 Psychiatrists with over 20million citizens suffering from mental disorders.
“With the few functional Mental Health Facilities and inadequate mental health practitioners in the country, mental health cases are left for traditional practitioners, hence the upsurge in mental health in Nigeria.
“The statistics are troubling and the continued lack of a legal framework on mental health in the country will simply cause the situation to degenerate”
Adopting the motion, the House gave six weeks to the committees within which to carry out the assignment and report back to it for further legislative action.

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Wike, PDP Govs Commiserate With Tambuwal Over Brother’s Death

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Representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, yesterday, paid a condolence visit to the Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal over the death of his elder brother, Alhaji Muhammed Bello.
Bello, who is also the Waziri of Tambuwal, passed on in Sokoto, last Tuesday night at the age 87.
He was the head of the Tambuwal family.
On the PDP governors’ delegation were, Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo); and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State.
The Vice Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who led the delegation, said they were in Sokoto to commiserate with Tambuwal and his entire family over the sudden death of his elder brother.
“We feel your pain, and we understand that a great vacuum has been created, not only within the caliphate, but across Nigeria and other places where Daddy had sphere of influence. We believe that God Almighty will grant you the fortitude to bear this great loss.
“We are, however, consoled by the fact that Daddy left legacies that will remain indelible; one of them is your very good self and your impact and contributions to our dear country.”
The governors urged the Tambuwal family, particularly the Sokoto State governor, to remain strong, steadfast and uphold those virtues which the late Waziri of Tambuwal, cherished so much.
In his response, Sokoto StateGovernor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who is the PDP Governors’ Forum chairman, said the entire Tambuwal family was gladdened by the condolence visit.
According to him, his late elder brother, who lived his life in the service of community, held the family title, Waziri of Tambuwal for 37 years after the demise of their father.
“We are, indeed, very highly consoled not only by your presence, but your words of consolation. For you to have left behind whatever you are doing in your respective states to come all the way to Sokoto this afternoon, shows clearly how you sympathise with us and how close you are to us. I assure you that we appreciate this.”

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