Coalition of forty-six pro-democracy organisations under the aegis of United Action for Democracy, UAD, yesterday called for a holistic probe into alleged hiring, training of snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely by President Goodluck Jonathan as raised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
According to UAD, the alleged placing of over 1000 Nigerians on political watch list by Jonathan government must also be investigated against the backdrop that it centres on credibility and tendency of taking Nigeria back to the dark days of late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
Addressing journalists yesterday in Abuja, National Convener of UAD, Comrade Baba Aye, also lampooned the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal over recent statements credited to him where he accused President Jonathan of promoting corruption, saying that Tambuwal was hypocritical, alleging that the National Assembly was itself a haven of corruption like virtually all the institutions of elite governance.
Flanked by the General Secretary, Comrade Zulu Ofoelue and National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Steve Obodoekwe, the National Convener who noted that Nigeria was drifting towards what might very well be a precipice in a period of global crisis, said however that former President Obasanjo cannot be exonerated from the country’s problems.
According to him, “What needs to be added is that the pursuit of “selfish personal and political interests, which is brewing a crisis of gargantuan proportions, is not limited to President Jonathan and his clique, but is a general nature of the band of brigands that are the country’s leaders, and the neoliberal capitalist system which they run.
Aye said, ” the UAD decries the worsening security situation in Nigeria. We are appalled by the continued wasting of lives and livelihoods as criminal and insurgent activities increase throughout the country. Hunger, illiteracy, disillusionment and anger are at the roots of the heightening insecurity. The strong arm tactics which the government is pursuing such as the state of emergency in three of the North Eastern states have obviously failed. Indeed, they have aggravated the spate of killings, as several reports show that soldiers as much as insurgents have killed hundreds if not thousands of innocent civilians over the last eight months, in this region”.
According to him, “It is particularly worrisome that there is surreptitious sharpening of the teeth of state terrorism going on, which could take us back to the dark ages of the Abacha dictatorship. Information to this extent has been provided by a former President, Chief Obasanjo, in his recent letter where he stated that the president has placed over 1000 Nigerians on political watch list and is “training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely”.
“The UAD regards these allegations with utmost seriousness, and demand an urgent verifiable response from the presidency. We make bold to say that nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. The poor masses and other patriotic citizens in Nigeria rose against General Abacha and his military regime despite its arms and ammunitions and triumphed. We will defend the democratic rights we have won, and not be cowed by cowardly militaristic machinations of the Nigerian state, supposedly in a civilian garb.”
On Corruption, Aye said, ” The UAD notes that corruption has remained institutionalized in Nigeria as a patronage mechanism of the ruling elite to foster their control over the economy and polity. With the recent rating of Nigeria as the 33rd most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International, the brazen faces of corruption continue to disrupt national development.
“UAD views the recent statement credited to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mallam Aminu Tambuwal in which he accused President Goodluck Jonathan of promoting corruption as a case of the kettle calling the pot black. The UAD views Mallam Tambuwal’s statement as being hypocritical since the National Assembly is itself a haven of corruption like virtually all the institutions of elite governance.”
He said the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria a few years ago pointed out that the National Assembly gulps 25% of all the national budgets’ recurrent expenditures. Nothing can be more corrupt than that in addition to the various cases of corruption involving members of the Assembly, which have never been conclusively treated or prosecuted in courts of law.
“UAD insists that corruption permeates every facet of social life in the country because it is in-built into the economic and political system of governance. System change is thus required to eradicate it,” he added.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
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.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
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.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
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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