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US Has No Preferred Candidate For 2015 – Envoy

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Managing Director, Resort Savings and Loans Plc, Mortgage Banks, Mr Abimbola Olayinka (right) chatting with the Deputy president, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mine and Agriculture and former Commissioner of Health Rivers State, Dr Emi Membere (left)  during the council meeting of PHCCIMA in Port Harcourt recently. Photo: Egberi A. Sampson

Managing Director, Resort Savings and Loans Plc, Mortgage Banks, Mr Abimbola Olayinka (right) chatting with the Deputy president, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mine and Agriculture and former Commissioner of Health Rivers State, Dr Emi Membere (left) during the council meeting of PHCCIMA in Port Harcourt recently. Photo: Egberi A. Sampson

The United States has said it was not supporting any candidate in the forthcoming polls, including the presidential election slated for February 2015.
It has also asked the various Nigerian security agencies to be neutral during the forthcoming 2015 general elections.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, said these while he led a delegation of some members of the embassy staff, to the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, over the weekend.
The advice by the US ambassador came on the heel of recent alarm by especially the APC of worsening partisan roles played by the various security agencies in the recently held governorship elections in Ekiti State on June 26 in Ekiti and August 9 in Osun.
The APC had repeatedly alleged that the various security agencies openly took side with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by intimidating leaders and supporters of APC in during the elections in the two states.
The ambassador, who said he was on a mission of advising political parties, politicians and Nigerians in general on the need to eschew violence in the February 2015 polls, said elections were key to democratic governance.
He said Nigerians must be conscious of their right to vote, while security agencies must ensure they were neutral during the forthcoming elections.
He said, “I have always told Nigerians to be careful about their right to vote because it is the most precious thing in the world.
“The other thing is the role that the security agencies have to play. They have a very huge responsibility in any country to maintain security and peaceful atmosphere during elections. That is their job and we support them in that. But they have to maintain absolute neutrality so that they are not seen as favouring either sides.”
He said of late he had been inundated with questions of who his country would be supporting in the forthcoming election.
Entwistle, who said he was previously US Ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasha, said his response to the inquiries had always been that the support of the US was for the Nigerian people.
He said, “I have been frequently asked who the United States is supporting for the February 2015 elections and my answer has always been that the United States supports the Nigerian people in their quest for a credible, transparent election that they want and deserve.
“So, we are not here to support anybody or any candidate, but to support a credible process in which the Nigerian people can freely express their wishes. That is why we provide support to INEC and civil societies as we get ready for this election.
“Let me be clear and say that what I am saying t you now, I say to the PDP and all others who are involved in the democratic process in Nigeria.”
Earlier, APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, who welcomed the US delegation to the party’s secretariat, and thanked the US government for its support for the development of democracy in the country, said opposition parties were disadvantaged by the new trend of heavy militarisation of elections in the country.
During an interview with journalists after the meeting, Odigie-Oyegun said the fact that there was no violence on the Election Day did not necessarily mean a transparent election had been conducted.
He pointed out that “about 70,000 troupes were put in Osun with the obvious intent of intimidating voters.”
He said, “The truth is that we are often blamed for being bad losers, not just the APC, but Nigerians. But losers find it difficult to accept because there is no demonstrable level playing field.
“The kind of thing we are having is that weeks to elections, the might, militarisation and the rest of it and monetary inducement are deployed in such a way that it places the opposition clearly at a disadvantage.
“In a situation like that, quite frankly, it become very difficult to say that there was a free and fair election just because there was no violence on the day of the election itself.
“The so-called famous observers will tell you that nobody snatched a box or nobody got killed. The run off to elections are as important as the days of the election itself. We want you as a good friend of this nation to talk to those that you normally talk to nature that this nation.”

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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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