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Senate Probes $105bn NLNG Funds Diversion …NASS, CUPP Condemn Assassination Attempt On Ekweremadu As Four Rep Members Dump APC

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The Senate has resolved to investigate the diversion of 105 billion dollars from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividend to build up the shortfalls between the landing cost and pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).
Raising a point of order during yesterday’s plenary, the Chairman of the Committee on Gas, Senator Bassey Akpan urged the Senate to give approval for the committee to investigate the withdrawal and payments.
He noted that the funds belong to the three arms of government and described NNPC’s withdrawal of the funds as illegal.
The Leader of the Senate and Chairman of the Senate’s adhoc committee probing the alleged operation of an Illegal Account by the Group Managing Director, and one other as well as an unappropriated subsidy regime at plenary raised issues on the call for another investigation by the committee on gas as he said it amount to dualising the probe.
However senators who spoke on the issues noted that there are two different probes and would not clash on mandates given.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki in his ruling mandated the committee on Gas to proceed with the probe.
Also at the Plenary. yesterday President Muhammadu Buhari in a communication to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki transmitted the 2019-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper to the Senate for consideration and approval.
In the letter read on the floor of the Senate by the Senate President during plenary, President Buhari requested the Senate to give the document a speedy consideration in order to bring preparatory works on the 2019 Budget to a conclusion.
Similarly, the Senate also received President Buhari’s request to confirm the appointment of Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Diaspora Commission.
Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa, is currently the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, yesterday condemned in strong terms, the alleged attempt on the life of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who was Tuesday morning attacked alongside members of his family by assailants, at his official residence in Apo, Abuja.
The PDP in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan expressed fear over the safety of the lawmaker, adding that certain forces are bent on silencing him. It noted that the attacks on the Senator have assumed a frightening dimension since he became Deputy Senate President, even as it called on the authorities to do a holistic probe of Tuesday’s latest invasion of the lawmaker’s residence to unravel the identity of those behind the alleged assassination plot.
“The PDP draws the attention of Nigerians to the series of uninvestigated security threats around the person of Senator Ekweremadu.
“Nigerians could recall that on November 17, 2015, a similar attempt was made on Senator Ekweremadu’s life by some assailants on his way to work.
Though that attack was reported to the authorities, there have been no investigations by the security agencies. No arrests have been made and no culprit has been brought to book.
“Instead, the Senator has been a subject of unrelenting harassments and attacks on his person and office since his emergence as Deputy Senate President, including the May 26, 2017 invasion of his official quarters by security agencies, purportedly in search of phantom caches of arms, and the July 24, 2018 siege of his official residence at Apo Quarters.
“These were in addition to the invasion of the Senate chamber and carting away of the mace on the day Ekweremadu presided, in an otherwise very secure Three Arms Zone.
“The PDP family is, therefore, worried about the relentless attack on the Deputy Senate President, which we believe is part of a scheme to silence him,” the statement read in part.
The party called for an immediate wide-range probe into the attack “as well as an assurance from the federal government on the safety of the Deputy Senate President, as the nation is not ready to accept any harm on his person or his family at this critical time.”
On its part, CUPP described as “shocking” news of the botched assassination attempt, saying opposition figures were no longer safe in their own country.
In a statement by its first spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, the coalition called for the interrogation of the arrested alleged assassin to ascertain the real sponsors of the failed move to harm the key opposition leader.
“The President should immediately sack the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and appoint a gallant and committed officer of the police that will help check the growing internal insecurity in the country,” the statement read.
Similarly, four members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the House of Representatives, who failed to win re-nomination to contest in 2019, have announced their defection from the party.
The Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara announced the defections on the floor of the House in Abuja, yesterday.
Among them are Mr Abiodun Awoleye-Dada (Ibadan North) who moved to the Accord Party; Mr Samuel Segun-Williams (Abeokuta South) who moved to the Labour Party and Mr Lawan Hassan-Anka (Anka/Mafara Zamfara State), who joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The fourth member, Mr Lam Adesina (Ibadan North East/South East) from Oyo State defected to the African Democratic Congress (ADC).

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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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