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Oyegun Confronts Buhari; Says NEC’s Tenure Extension Stands …It Is Unconstitutional, Buhari Insists …As Scores Decamp To PDP In Rivers

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The leadership crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) has deepened following President Muhammadu Buhari\s directive that the tenure elongation granted Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and other National and State Executive officers of the APC should be reversed.
Giving the directive at the party’s National Executive Committee meeting (NEC) yesterday, Buhari described the elongation of their tenure by one year as unconstitutional , but in a swift reaction, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party rejects the directive of the President, insisting that the decision to extend the tenure stands.
Reacting to the directive of the President, the National Executive Committee (NEC) said it is yet to take a final decision on President Buhari’s call for a reversal of its earlier stance on tenure of party officials.
The NEC on February 27, 2018 extended the tenure of the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) by one year, amidst dissention from party bigwigs like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Senate President, Bukola Saraki were absent at the NEC meeting.
Although those who absented themselves from the meeting have kept mum, an aide to Bola Tinubu, national leader of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, yesterday said the APC chieftain did not attend the party caucus meeting because he had another event organised to mark his birthday.
Tinubu had complained against the decision, saying that it infringed on the rights of other APC members to seek to occupy elective offices across all tiers.
Addressing journalists at the end of the NEC meeting, Bolaji Abdullahi, the party’s spokesperson, said the NEC has set up a small technical committee to advise the party on the matter.
He said the committee is expected to submit its recommendations on or before today.
Pending that time, however, he said the last decision to extend the tenure remains.
“Members of NEC thanked the president for his graciousness. Of course we had a situation because we recall that after the last NEC and this decision was taken some members felt aggreieved and they went to court.
“Of course you know that any issue that goes to court is sub-judicial. Then that also presented its own complications so the NEC decided to set up a small team that will advise the party on the way forward.
“At the moment there is no decision taken. So the position of NEC still stands from the last meeting. There is a technical committee at the moment that is looking at it. That position may change tomorrow but as it is today that is the position of NEC”.
Buhari had told the National Executive Committee meeting of the party in Abuja, yesterday, that he had reflected on the elongation and also sought advice, and had come to the conclusion that it was unconstitutional.
Nuhari said, “This motion was duly carried by a majority of members present at the last NEC Meeing, even though some of our party members have since spoken up very vehemently against it. Others have even taken the matter to court.
“I have taken some time to review and seek advice on the resolution. And what i foud is that it contravenes both our party Constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“While the APC Constitution, in Article 17 (1) and 13.2(B), limits the tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election, the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), in Section 223, also prescribes periodic elections for party executives at regular intervals, which must not exceed four years.
“Furthermore, Article 31 of our party Constitution provides that any principal officer wishing to re-contest or contest for another post must resign from his current post at least one month before the election.The APC had in its NEC meeting on February 27, 2018, extended the tenure of members of National Working Committee (NWC) led by John Odigie-Oyegun by one year.
Speaking, yesterday, Buhari said, “This motion was duly carried by a majority of members present at the last NEC Meeting, even though some of our party members have since spoken up very vehemently against it. Others have even taken the matter to court.
Buhari said he was optimistic that the on-going meeting would provide an avenue to resolve the outstanding issues and consolidate plans towards making APC stronger.
The president explained, however, that it was expected that a fresh elections be conducted once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end.
“A caretaker committee cannot remedy this situation, and cannot validly act in place of elected officers.
“Furthermore, I think if we deviate from the constitutional provisions, we might be endangering the fortunes of our party. If the tenure of our party executives can be legally faulted, then it means that any nominations and primary elections that they may conduct can also be faulted.
“This is not to talk of divisions that would arise, and is already arising within the party, when some of our members feel that they are being denied the right to aspire to executive positions, or that internal democracy is not at play within the party.
“I am therefore of the firm view that it is better to follow strictly the dictates of our party and national constitutions, rather than put APC and its activities at grave risk.’’
He said that a timetable had already been approved for the holding of congresses and elections.
“I think these should be allowed to go forward and all efforts should now be geared towards making them a great success,’ Buhari added.
Meanwhile, over 2,500 supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Etche Ward 3 in Rivers State have dumped the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The defectors, including men and women, said that the decision to dump their party for the PDP was to ensure that Governor Nyesom Wike returned to Government House in 2019 to continue with his people-oriented projects.
Receiving the decampees, the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Engr Samuel Nwanosike thanked them for making the right choice, stressing that the party will give them all the privileges accorded to old members.
Nwanosike charged them to work for the victory of the governor and the Peoples Democratic Party in 2019.
Meanwhile, the former chairman of the APC in Etche Local Government Area, Chief Musa Elekwa has backed the state government’s Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law.
Elekwa, who expressed his support in an interview with newsmen at the event, said that the law will bring peace to the state.
The former Etche APC chairman said that the defection of the APC card-carrying members also marked the end of the party in Igbo-Etche Ward 3.
Also, the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Igbo-Etche Ward 3, Chetuchi Owume said that with a stronger PDP, the party will take the over 60,000 votes in the area in the 2019 elections.

 

Amieyeofori Ibim

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2019 Rivers Guber Poll Tribunal: PDP Tenders Polling Units’ Results To Affirm Wike’s Victory …Election Held In Substantial Compliance With Electoral Act -Counsel …Conduct Of Poll Peaceful, Lawful, Akawor Affirms

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, yesterday, tendered strategic polling units’ results from different local government areas to the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to justify the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The polling units’ results were tendered in respect of the petition filed against the election of Wike by the Governorship Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi.
Tendering the polling units’ results from the Bar, counsel to the PDP, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) said the polling results were from 356 polling units.
Obla told the tribunal that the result sheets were from some of the polling units in Obio/Akpor, Khana, Ogu/Bolo, Bonny, Akuku-Toru, Ahoada East, Opobo/Nkoro and others.
He informed the tribunal that the PDP resolved to tender results to prove that elections held across the state at the polling units and declarations made under very peaceful atmosphere.
The counsel added that since INEC and Wike have called witnesses to prove that the Governorship Election was conducted in line with the Electoral Act, the PDP chose to prove the conduct of the elections through documentary evidence.
Addressing journalists after closing the PDP defence, Godwin Obla said that from documentary evidence and oral testimonies of witnesses, it was clear that the 2019 Governorship Election in Rivers State was held in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and that Wike emerged victorious.
He said: “This morning on behalf of the 3rd respondent, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), we tendered a total of 356 exhibits in support of our case. We feel satisfied that the requirements of the law required of us, have been fully met and that is why we decided to close our case today.
“Don’t forget that the 1st respondent, INEC, called witnesses, the 2nd respondent, Governor Nyesom Wike, who is the candidate of the 3rd respondent, PDP, also called witnesses and tendered a lot of documents that relate to this same subject matter. The interests of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents are actually the same”.
Also speaking, counsel to ADP, Mr Dolapo-Telle Attoni, said “The PDP presented from the Bar a bundle of electoral documents they claimed INEC used in conducting the governorship election. They tendered about 356 alleged polling units’ results. We had asked for few minutes to study these same documents, and also obtain Certified True Copy of the said documents which was not complied with by INEC”.
Following the PDP closing its case, the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has adjourned till September 16, 2019 for the adoption of addresses by parties in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party and its governorship candidate, Mr Victor Fingesi.
Earlier, the Director-General of Rivers State PDP Campaign Council, Amb. Desmond Akawor, had said that the 2019 Governorship Election held throughout the state with Governor Nyesom Wike emerging victorious.
Testifying at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, last Wednesday, as the last witness for Wike in a petition filed by the candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi, Akawor said that the governor won the election by the lawful votes cast on March 9, 2019.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea told the tribunal that he received his party’s duplicate certified copies of election result sheets for all the units, wards and the 23 local government areas.
Responding to a question by counsel to the ADP governorship candidate on why the state government set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the 2019 Elections, Akawor said that the commission of inquiry was established to find out what happened at the collation centres, because voting took place peacefully at all polling units.
However, after closing his case on cross-examination of DW31 (Akawor), the ADP counsel sought to tender an application which is a certified copy of The Tide Newspaper of April 29 in respect of the commission of inquiry.
But Counsel to the governor, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) urged the court to refuse the application, arguing that the petitioner voluntarily closed his matter on July 16 with 23 witnesses.
Ukala noted that in accordance with the rules of the tribunal, each witness was cross-examined within the time given; adding that conduct of proceedings was guided by truth and not by sympathy.
Ruling on the application after hearing arguments from the counsels, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Orjiako, stated that “this application in our view cannot be allowed, the implication being that it should have been tendered within the time allocated to him, therefore, the application is overruled and refused”.
Justice Orjiako had adjourned the matter till yesterday for further cross examination.
In an interview, counsel for Governor Nyesom Wike, Emmanuel Ukala, explained that the ADP application was refused as a result of improper filing.
He said, “The 2nd respondent (Governor Wike) called all together 20 witnesses, and we closed our case. So, it is left to the PDP, if they wish to call any other witness. They may call, and thereafter, we will all address the court”.

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Stop Deducting Money From Rivers Statutory Allocation, Court Orders FG

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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court in respect of OML112 offshore and stop the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 or any sum whatsoever, forming the proprietary rights of the Rivers State Government.
The presiding Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, also ordered the defendants to make full refund of the accruable 13 per cent derivation illegally denied the plaintiff from crude oil and gas production within OML 112 and sale from September, 2018 till the determination of the suit; and thereafter.
The judge equally ordered the Attorney General of the Federation, the Accountant General of the Federation and the RMAFC to pay monthly interests at the various commercial rates at no less than 15 per cent per annum on the illegally deducted 13 per cent derivation due to the plaintiff from OML 112 until the liquidation of all outstanding and accruing debt.
Justice Taiwo further restrained the defendants, their agents, assigns, representatives, privies or howsoever called from disregarding the finality of the Supreme Court judgment delivered on March 18, 2011 in Suit No: SC/27/2010, between: Attorney General of Rivers State and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State & Anor as it relates to the proprietary rights of the plaintiff in respect of OML 112.
The suit was instituted by the Attorney General of Rivers State to challenge the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 accruing from OML 112 from the statutory allocation of the state by the defendants.

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Biafra: Fresh Questions Over Future Of Campaign

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Just as the recent physical attack on former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu in faraway Germany is trending globally for the bizarre affront it represents, so many questions are raging over the integrity and future of the campaign for the actualisation of the Biafra secessionist agenda. It is no more news that Ekweremadu was ambushed and attacked during his visit to Germany to participate as a guest speaker at a traditional Igbo ‘New Yam’ festival. The trailing reactions not only captured the wide divide between the proponents and the opponents of the ‘Biafra’ agenda across the world. It also betrayed and reinforced a more profound aspect being the unmasked, hysteric xenophobic mindset to which the most ardent proponents of the Biafra agenda subscribe to. Primary among these is the endorsement of the outrage of the assailants by Nnamdi Kanu, the now exiled leader of the IPOB, which is just one of the active groups canvassing for the actualisation of the Biafra dream.
From the now trending video clips of the incident,the aggrieved assailants could be heard lamenting about the killing of their kit and kin in the ‘Operation Python Dance’ military assaults on Iboland, at the peak of the IPOB domestic activism phase. Until that point, the German assault on Ekweremadu could easily have passed as a result of the bereaved lamenting and perhaps, over-reacting over the death of their loved ones at home. However, the intervention of IPOB especially with the claim that responsibility for the attack fell on its members changed the entire narrative. First of all, information in the public domain did not specifically mention that the occasion was organised by IPOB. Hence, the intervention of the organisation by persons later identified as IPOB operatives captures the event as having been hijacked by the IPOB for reasons strange to the organisers. Now, the blame or whatever ascription from the event goes to all Ibos, just as the proverb that when a finger picks up oil, it soon spreads it to all the other fingers.
And this is where the various stakeholders of the Biafra agenda, comprising the Igbo represented by the OhanaezeNdigbo, the Eastern minorities and even the entire country need to take the Ekweremadu attack with appropriate discretion. Whatever circumstances that will instigate members of a political pressure group to leave the shores of its home country and brazenly attack a home government official in public glare and in a foreign country, deserves more than a slap on the wrist. The situation calls for renewed discretion especially by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo which can be credited with the misfortune of living in a hut on which roof a snake has climbed. That is putting it in classical Igbo metaphor.
For anybody especially the leadership of the Ibos to see the situation otherwise, is to indulge in a mis-read of the festering situation, and expose Ndigbo to a future of miasma in the politics of Iboland as well as that between Ndigbo and the rest of the country. IPOB may remain a most divisive factor in the political calculus of the Ndigbo both at home and abroad as has been dramatically demonstrated in the German attack on Ike Ekweremadu, both for now and in the unknown future. And against the backdrop that not all Ibos and even Ohanaeze are members of IPOB, the need for the group to tread with care becomes most acute. Most Ibos simply want to be left alone to pursue their legitimate businesses in which they are already excelling, and do not want to be bothered by a pie in the sky called Biafra. After all, was it not the great novelist, Chinua Achebe who cited the Ibo proverb that all lizards lie on the ground making it difficult to know which one has stomach pain.
As for the Eastern minorities whose youth especially are being enamoured with flashes of paradise in the Biafra dream, all that needs to be said is that they should go and study the history of the previous Biafra, which occurred before they were even born. They will find out not only why it failed, but also why the mainstream of Ibo intelligentsia is not supporting the campaign – at least spiritedly. Fortunately for them, there are still some survivors of that failed exercise who can provide them valuable insights, to lead them aright. On a cautionary basis, let it be stated here that a child found toying with the very strain of mushrooms that killed his or her parents, is asking for nothing better than the very fate that befell the parents.
As structured today, the Nigerian federation cannot be restructured along secessionist lines without elaborate dialogue and negotiations, in place of a full scale war, no matter the grievances of its component ethnic parts. Meanwhile, IPOB has not demonstrated willingness or capacity for negotiations and the rest of the country is not ready for war. Until further notice therefore, Biafra and all it represents remain hanging in the balance.

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