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PDP Crisis: Makarfi, Sheriff Agree To Cease Fire …Supreme Court Hears Application, May 4

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There were indications in Abuja yesterday that the protracted crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party may soon come to an end following the resolve of the two combatants to sheath their swords and work for the progress of the party.
National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sherif and the Chairman of the sacked National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi agreed that there would be end to exchange of words between them over the crisis in the party.
This was the outcome of the meeting between the two groups which was brokered by the party’s Reconciliation Committee headed by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson.
Though both Sheriff and Makarfi were not physically present at the meeting, their representatives signed the agreement, which was read by a former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ibrahim Mantu.
The communiqué said, “All actors of the party should desist from making derogatory, inflammatory and divisive statements against party officials, stakeholders and members.
“That the party should not dissipate her energy amongst itself but to focus on how to unite and be a formidable opposition capable of taking over power from the failed All Progressives Congress-led government.
“That all key actors in the on-going peace process should henceforth desist from making public press statements attacking each other and statements insinuating negative acts capable of dragging the party to the mud.
“In conclusion all Key actors in the PDP have agreed to work together with National Reconciliation Committee led by Governor Seriake Dickson to engender peace and genuine reconciliation.”
A former Presidential aide, Mr Ahmed Gulak and the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Bernard Mikko, signed the communique on behalf of Sheriff.
A former Minister of State for works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye and Dave Iorhemba, signed for Makarfi.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has fixed May 4 for the continuation of hearing in appeals concerning the ongoing leadership crisis of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The apex court gave the date yesterday, after listening to counsel’s arguments in the appeals challenging the February 17judgement of the Appeal Court which confirmed former Borno State governor, Ali Sheriff, as leader of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Mr. Sheriff’s challenger for leadership of the party, Ahmed Makarfi, had approached the Supreme Court after the ruling by the Port Harcourt Division of appellate court, starting the final phase of the judicial battle for the PDP leadership that has lasted almost a year.
The judicial struggle began on May, 17 2016 when a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court ordered the party to suspend its national convention earlier scheduled to hold on May 21 that year.
Contrary to that order, however, the PDP held its convention, amidst conflicting information from the Makarfi and Sheriff led factions of the party, respectively, regarding the said convention.
During the convention on May 21, Mr. Makarfi was elected leader of the caretaker committee of the party.
Shortly after that convention, however, loyalist of the Sheriff faction filed a motion before the Federal High Court, FHC, in Lagos, challenging the emergence of Mr. Makarfi as leader of the party.
Consequently on May 24, the court presided by Justice Ibrahim Buba nullified the emergence of the Makarfi-led leadership of the party, and reinstated Mr. Sheriff as leader of the party
After that judgement, other judgements emanating from separate divisions of the FHC, gave controversial rulings on the convention.
In February, however, the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt announced Mr. Sheriff leader of the party, paving the way for the suit at the Supreme Court.
Yesterday, at the commencement of hearing in Mr. Makarfi’s application, the counsel representing the Sheriff faction, Akin Olujimi, said his client (PDP) was not aware of any application, challenging the emergence of the current leadership of the party.
He, however, prayed the court to set aside the application, stressing that ‘the appropriate authorities to have made the said application have not decided to appeal.”
The counsel representing the second defendant in Mr. Sheriff’s appeal aligned with Mr. Olijimi’s submission.
The counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, said his client, the National Secretary of the party from Mr. Sheriff’s faction, Wale Oladipo, would want the court to set aside the application made by Mr. Makarfi’s counsel, Kanu Agabi, stressing that the appellant had no authorisation to have made the said application.
He also prayed the court to determine the application by the Sheriff faction, before hearing the main appeal by the faction led by Mr. Makarfi.
In his response, Mr. Agabi, a former attorney general of Nigeria, said the respondents should make the submissions written.
Mr. Olujimi had prayed the court to allow them make their submissions within a period of 21 days. So, after hearing the arguments of counsel, the panel of five justices, led by Mohammed Tanko, adjourned to May 4 for hearing of the appeals by the Sheriff-led faction.
In the interim, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State yesterday met with the representatives of the two warring factions of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abuja.
The meeting was part of efforts to resolve the party’s prolonged leadership crisis.
Mr. Dickson heads the party’s reconciliation committee, which seeks to resolve the feud between the factions led by Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi, former governors of Borno and Kaduna States.
The Court of Appeal recently affirmed Mr. Sheriff as the national chairman of the party.
Part of outcome of Thursday’s meeting was the agreement by both factions to “cease fire” and stop making public statements on the crisis.
While the Sheriff faction was represented at the meeting by a former presidential aide, Ahmed Gulak, Bernard Mikko and Cairo Ojougboh, the Makarfi group was represented by Dayo Adeyeye and Dave Iorhemba.
According to the communique of the meeting signed by the representatives, the warring factions agreed that “all actors of the party should desist from making derogatory, inflammatory and divisive statements against party officials, stakeholders and members.
“That the party should not dissipate her energy amongst itself but to focus on how to unite and be a formidable opposition capable of taking over power from the failed APC led government.
“That all key actors in the on-going peace process should henceforth desist from making public press statements attacking each other and statements insinuating negative acts capable of dragging the party to the mud.”
The communique also said both factions have resolved to work with Mr. Dickson’s committee to “engender genuine reconciliation”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Dickson has also submitted copies of his committee’s report to the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustee, BoT, Walid Jibrin, at his Abuja residence.
Mr. Dickson had earlier submitted copies of the report to both Messrs. Sheriff and Makarfi.
Mr. Dickson says the report he is the best way out of the prolonged crisis.
He said it is amenable to amendments as the leadership and relevant bodies deem fit.
The Bayelsa governor said the governing All Progressive Congress, APC, has failed to meet the expectations of Nigerians.
He said the PDP has a chance to wrestle power from the APC if it puts its House in order.
He also said Mr. Sheriff had already signed an undertaking not to contest for any position at the proposed national convention and also to give party members free hand to operate.
He appealed to all members of the party to unite.
Responding, Mr. Jubril thanked the reconciliation committee in its effort to bring peace to the party.
“There is no need for us to engage in unnecessarily issue, those with selfish interest should not destroy our party.”
“We are ready to do the proper thing. In a bid to repair this party, I urge all leaders to desist from using language that will further divide us. This report comes at the right time,” he said.

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North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.

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Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?

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Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.

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2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”

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