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Senators Walk Out Buhari’s Aide …FG Tells Saraki, Deputy To Face Trial

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Senators, yesterday, walked out President Muhammadu Buhari’s Adviser on Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono Obla, who appeared before the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters led by Senator David Umaru to answer questions on the forgery case against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
Obla, represented the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, during a hearing on the Senate Rules forgery case.
The AGF’s failure to honour the invitation was sequel to the letter for him to do so initially on the 23rd of June, 2016, which he responded to demanding for adjournment to enable him prepare for his responses, which was granted.
Though he was represented by the Special Adviser to the President on Public Prosecution, in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, the Committee Chairman, Senator David Umaru, expressed dissatisfaction with Obono-Obla’s explanations that his principal was unavoidably absent, adding that it was not in the tradition of the Senate to interact with proxies.
“Mr. Obla, this is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and this invitation was for the Justice Minister to appear in person, hence, we cannot interact with you on this matter,” Umaru declared.
A member of the Committee, Senator Joshua Lidani, who was visibly angry, said he was not surprised at the turn of events, maintaining that the action of the AGF undermines the Senate.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi stated that Nigeria’s democracy was being jeopardised on the altar of egocentricism by those who should know better.
He insisted that there were court judgements in favour of the Senate, while wondering what the AGF was looking for to have interferred with issues that were purely Senate’s internal affairs.
Committee Chairman, David Umaru, however, promised that the committee will revert to the Senate with report within the two weeks given to them
The Senate had penultimate Tuesday summoned Malami over the forgery suit following a motion sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West).
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, outgoing Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and the Deputy Clerk, Ben Efeturi, are being tried at the FCT High Court.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has hit back at the Senate President Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, over statements they made last Tuesday after they were arraigned for allegedly forging the Standing Rules of the upper legislative chamber.
The government said it would be better for Saraki and Ekweremadu to either honourably resign or face the judicial process.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, said statements issued by both Senate leaders targeting the government, and President Muhammadu Buhari as an individual, as if the executive arm was the initiator of the forgery case against them, were not acceptable.
Lawal, who also signed the statement, said the separate comments by “the two leaders of the Senate also gave this erroneous impression that by their arraignment, it is the entire Senate and indeed, the legislative arm of government that is on trial.
“They want the public to believe that their prosecution is in utter disregard by the executive arm of government for the constitutional provisions of separation of powers and that preferring the forgery case against them is a vendetta exercise.”
He said the two separate statements conveyed ‘‘messages that are far from being complementary to the person and government of President Muhammadu Buhari.’’
‘‘Senator Saraki in his statement clearly insinuated that Mr. President is not in control of his administration and that a cabal now runs the federal administration.
‘‘On the part of Senator Ekweremadu, he insists that President Buhari is exhibiting dictatorial tendencies that can derail our democracy.”
Although he said the case is in court and the judicial process must be allowed to take its course, Lawal absolved the executive arm of government of blame, saying: “It is important to emphasize that this case involves only the four accused persons and should not be presented to the unsuspecting public as involving the entire Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The complaint leading to the forgery investigation was reported to the police by some aggrieved senators who specifically accused certain persons. It is not the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is involved and definitely not the House of Representatives.
‘‘To bring the National Assembly as a body into this court case is totally unwarranted. It can only be for other purposes and reasons outside the investigation and legal proceedings.”
He explained further that it was a case of alleged forgery, which cannot be preferred against an institution but on individual.
Citing the case of former Speaker Salisu Buhari, who forged a certificate showing that he graduated from a Toronto University, Lawal said: “What he did was to resign, honourably. The matter did not even go to court. In that particular case, it was never orchestrated as a matter for the National Assembly. The individual involved did not drag the entire legislature into the matter.”

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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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