Senator Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe Central) has stepped down to allow Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC-Yobe) to contest for the Presidency of the 9th Senate.
Goje, who made the announcement after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock Villa yesterday, said he was stepping down in the national interest.
He thanked his supporters and associates across the country, who had been urging him to declare for the Senate Presidency.
Goje said, as an elder statesman in the Senate for a long time, he should be able to appreciate leadership coming from the party elders, adding that in spite of the calls from his supporter, he had because of his loyalty to the president and for the interest of the party, decided to step down from the race.
“Even though he had enormous respect and following, he has willingly chosen to respect the wishes of the party and president, is the best position any politician could take,’’ he said.
He thanked those who had been working behind the scene to try and broker the understanding, adding that the race had been changed for the better.
Meanwhile, one of the major contenders for the position of the Senate President in the incoming Ninth National Assembly, Senator Ali Ndume (APC-Borno) has reiterated his resolve to contest on the floor of the Senate on June 11.
Ndume, who stated this in an interview with journalists, yesterday, also said he had no reason to visit President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in order to step down for Senator Ahmad Lawan, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the position.
The former Senate Leader also dismissed a social media report that he was invited to the Villa by Buhari who directed him to stop his aspiration to contest for the Senate President position.
The lawmaker said this while contributing to the valedictory session to mark the end of legislative business for the Eight Senate, yesterday.
The Borno-born politician said that the difference between democracy and military government was the independence of parliament.
Ndume said: “We had loads of disagreements. I respect your resilience and your ability to stand for what you believe in. We started together and we were doing fine. What happened was part of the learning process.
“I see a dangerous thing coming. The only thing that makes democracy different from military rule is the Parliament. We need to ensure the independence of the Parliament.
“If we take away the Parliament, what we have is not democracy. I am one of those that were controversial in the last four years. Within the process, we may have offended one another. I take nothing personal.
“This institution is very important. Let us protect the sanctity of the parliament. This is the Nigerian Senate. There is no APC or PDP Senate. This is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We will continue to support the other side but we must work at all times to protect the sanctity of the institution of the parliament. We must continue to enhance the sanctity of the Senate at all times.”
Meanwhile, An FCT High Court, Jabi, yesterday refused to bar Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, a top contender of the Speakership of the 9th House of Representatives, from going ahead with his ambition.
The suit with No. M/6810/2019 was filed before the court by way of motion on notice by Mr Ikenga-Imo Ugochinyere and the Action Peoples Party (APP) on May 30.
Other respondents in the suit are Clerk of the National Assembly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Inspector General of Police.
Justice Charles Agbaza refused to grant the order in an ex-parte motion with No. M/6809/2019 seeking an interim injunction restraining Gbajabiamila from contesting for the speaker of the 9th National Assembly and other principal offices, our correspondent reports
The Judge also refused to grant the fifth order praying the court for an interim injunction restraining the National Assembly from recognising the candidacy of Gbajabiamila for the speakership position or swearing him in peradventure he wins the election.
Justice Agbaza, however, ruled that the defendants should be served the court processes by way of substituted means instead of restraining Gbajabiamila which was part of the orders sought before the court.
The Judge also granted an order of accelerated hearing and adjourned until June 14 for hearing in the suit.
Meanwhile, the claimants, Ugochinyere and his party had alleged in the suit that Gbajabiamila, the member representing Surulere 1 Federal Constituency of Lagos State had been convicted and sentenced to prison.
The claimant alleged that Gbajabiamila had been convicted for the offence of involving in dishonesty and fraud by the Supreme Court of State of Georgia, United States of America in suit No. S06Y0829.
Ugochinyere alleged in the suit that Gbajabiamila gave false information in Form CF001 that he has no criminal allegation or sentence submitted to INEC in 2011 and 2018.
The claimant added in the suit that while the defendant was living in the United States of America, he was subjected to investigation by the Investigative Panel of the State Disciplinary Board for violation of Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.
Ugochinyere alleged that the offence against Gbajabiamila arose out of the defendant involvement in the case he has between MsHadyatou Barry and her sister Yaye, who were involved in an accident in 2001 and engaged the service of the defendant.
The claimant alleged in the suit that the Gbajabiamila later settled the case for the two sisters, received a cheque of 25, 000 dollars but failed to communicate and remit the share due to them.
Also, a civil rights movement under the aegis of Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA), yesterday, claimed that it was in possession of all documents and evidences which established a clear case of fraudulent dishonesty and abuse of trust against a member of the House of Representatives-elect, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila.
The organisation also faulted the refusal of Gbajabiamila to address allegation of imprisonment, perjury and stealing levelled against him through a proxy and former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon Abdulmumuni Jibrin.
The Convener of COPA and human rights activist, Pelumi Olajengbesi, told journalists during a press briefing in Abuja, yesterday, that the best opinion left now was for President Muhammadu Buhari to direct security agencies to undertake an in-depth investigations into the allegations against Gbajabiamila.
“COPA is in possession of all documents and evidences that establishes a clear case of fraudulent dishonesty and abuse of trust against Femi Gbajabiamila. The facts against Gbajiamila are, in fact, readily available to the public as they were established in a Court of Record with same being accessible to the public, and are attached herein for the avoidance of doubt.
“We have established correspondence with the Supreme Court of Georgia and we have documents of Disciplinary Case No. S06Y0829 and the family of the victim of Gbajiamila’s fraud, Hadyatou Barry and also Vesta with P. O. Box 23410 Nashville TN, 31202, the insurance company that paid the claim misappropriated by Femi Gbajabiamila”, he stated.
According to him, such investigation by security agencies would “prevent Nigeria from embracing a reputation crisis even before the 9th National Assembly takes off.”
Olajengbesi said, “On Wednesday, June 5, 2019, Nigerians were treated to a classic case of political masturbation when the touted candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Femi Gbajabiamila, chose to spit in our faces rather than respond to the weighty issue of fraud levied against him.
“For several weeks now, Gbajabiamila has been assailed with mounting cases. But, perhaps, in tandem with its public image of fighting corruption with insecticides when it concerns an opposition party members, virtually all the top echelon of the APC have continued to look the other way.
“Even Gbajabiamila adopted the same whimsical attitude, until a combination of civil society, opposition political parties and citizens’ outcry compelled him to promise a ‘world press conference’ during which he would tackle the issues.
“It was, therefore, with utmost shock that come the D-day, instead of having Gbajabiamila mount the rostrum, a motley crowd of APC lawmakers gathered at the elitist Transcorp Hilton, to instead trifle with the issues.
“As a coalition of public spirited officers in the temple of justice, we insist that nobody should be allowed to put his personal integrity at stake, least of all the image of Nigeria and Nigerians for a man who is being gripped with weighty allegations.
In another development, members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House of Representatives have debunked media reports that they had endorsed Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila or any other candidate for the speakership position for the incoming 9th National Assembly.
In a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, the House Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, described such reports as the handiwork of propagandists and mischief-makers, clarifying that PDP lawmakers had neither endorsed Gbajabiamila nor any other speakership candidate for that matter.
The statement reads, “In our Eid-el-Fitri message, we felicitated with all our Muslim brothers and sisters across Nigeria, and emphasised the significance of worthy virtues, stating that our members may participate in meetings, strategy sessions and other activities of speakership aspirants to come back to the caucus with convincing assessments.
“While some publications disseminated accurate and objective report, few others fabricated a completely new angle with one even using a deliberately fictitious and grossly erroneous headline in a manner that suggests being used for the ruling party’s usual misinformation and propaganda.
“Contrary to what has been sensationally reported by some, at no time did we give our members a directive to vote for any APC speakership aspirant; I hereby categorically dissociate myself and the PDP House caucus from the false comments being attributed to us as participation in meetings should not be deliberately misinterpreted as a directive on voting,” Ogor said.
The minority leader pointed out that the PDP House Caucus has remained solidly united although it has continued to grant audience to various speakership aspirants who were currently consulting them.
Meanwhile, the former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, has insisted that he would run for the position of Deputy Senate President even if the All Progressives Congress (APC) opposes his ambition.
He said this when he appeared on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday.
“Let me be honest with you, even if the party asks me not to run, I will run on the floor of the House. This is one position I have to run for because you cannot leave the South-East alone, you can’t leave them behind,” Kalu said.
He further stressed that giving the South-East a worthy position was in line with ensuring that the nation was ruled with equity.
“We are in the process of doing the right thing, and the East will be given a place in the scheme of things. I am asking that the East should be given the Deputy Senate President.
“There is a high level of discussions about that, and I’m sure that it would be a law in the House,” he added.
PH Law School Campus’ll Be Best, Chiroma Confirms
Director General, Nigerian Law School, Prof Isa Hayatu Chiroma, has expressed optimism that the new Port Harcourt campus of the institution would be the best in the country.
Chiroma made the assertion when he paid a working visit to inspect ongoing civil construction work at the Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The director general was accompanied the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to assess progress of work at both the Nabo Graham Douglas Campus, Rumueme and staff quarters at New Government Residential Area, Port Harcourt.
He expressed gratitude to the state government for the intervention to build and deliver the Port Harcourt campus in order to help address the challenge of inadequate lecture and accommodation space for the ever-increasing number of students seeking to acquire vocational legal training at the current campuses of the Nigerian Law School in the country.
“The last time we were here was when the ground-breaking ceremony took place, and today, there is massive construction going on, and there is progress. I want to thank the governor and the good people of Rivers State for this progress.”
Chiroma, who observed that the teeming rainy season in Rivers State has slowed down the pace of work, noted that the amazing aspect of the project is that the quality of materials used for the raft foundation at the Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas campus is world class.
“The kind of materials used with what we have seen on ground, it is unimaginable, it is excellent. I can assure you that the problem we will be having is about our students, who will prefer to be posted to this place with what I have seen.
“That is the battle we are going to be faced with. But, I can assure you that all our Law School Campus are the same, but with the development going on here, it is going to be a problem for us to decide who comes to Port Harcourt. From what I have seen it is going to be the best.”
Facilities under construction at the Port Harcourt campus will comprise 14 structures, including 1,500-capacity classroom blocks, hostel blocks, students’ multipurpose hall, 16 units’ 3-bedroom flat staff quarters with swimming pool, gymnasium and lawn tennis court.
Other facilities are, library, moot court/law clinic building, sick bay, administrative block, cafeteria and sporting facilities for students.
Nigeria, Suffering From Leadership Failure, Wike Affirms
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that it was regrettable that 61 years after Independence, Nigeria was still grappling with leadership challenge.
The governor pointed out that because of such leadership failure, Nigeria was now at a point in its history needing God more than ever.
Wike made the assertion at the Interdenominational Church Service organised in commemoration of the 61st Independence Anniversary of Nigeria at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor stated that there was hardly anything for Nigerians to celebrate as the country marks 61st Independence anniversary because its leadership continues to entrench hatred, mediocrity, promote ethnicity and religion.
“This is the time that Nigeria needs God more. The country is gone. Insecurity everywhere! Everyone needs to say God; we need you because man’s leadership has failed this country.”
The governor noted that, perhaps, the only thing Nigerians can boast of celebrating was the existence of the name, Nigeria.
“At 61 years, Nigeria is full of enmity, full of divisions, hatred, and ethnicity: A country that cannot put itself together.
“Everybody has responsibility; so, ask yourself questions, have I done my own part?”
Wike also observed the sorry state of Nigeria, and said at 61, it was far removed from being a country that can compete favourably with prosperous countries of the world, given its abundant resources.
The governor bemoaned what has become of the nation’s Legislature that continues to approve anything for the Presidency, and not minding the consequences.
He also decried how the nation’s Judiciary has succumbed to intimidation because its judges have abandoned their responsibilities out of fear, and wondered what fate Nigerians would have under such seeming tyrannical atmosphere.
“We cannot do the right things. Other countries are talking about how their elections will be transparent; we are talking about how we will rig the election in 2023.
“Simple thing, transmit election results electronically to show transparency, that really that the person you’re declaring won the election but we are afraid.”
“Where is the Legislature? A Legislature that cannot think, a Legislature, anything they bring is right, a Legislature that cannot say that Nigeria has nothing to regret from conducting free and fair election.
“A Legislature that you’ll close your eyes, anything they bring, about borrowing, you say borrow. A Legislature that cannot say that this money we are borrowing, where is it? Where are you applying it? You have no confidence to ask questions.
“The courts have been intimidated. The judges have abandoned their responsibilities out of fear. You’re seeing something that is wrong, but because you will be summoned in the night, you abandoned your responsibility.”
Wike also blamed the woes the country has suffered on all Nigerians who have refused to do the right things, but rather allowed the wrong things to be perpetrated in all facets of the society.
He noted how ascendancy to leadership was no longer by merit but by ethnic affinity and religious consideration, even when such persons do not have the capacity required to function in such offices.
Speaking further, Wike berated the church leadership over the inordinate dressing of a young man that he saw in the church, and attributed such sight to lack of enforcement of discipline in the church.
In his sermon, Bishop of the Diocese of Niger Delta North, Rt. Rev. Wisdom Ihunwo, noted that only foolish people despise God and attribute their successes in life to personal efforts and ingenuity.
Ihunwo said such foolish people abound in Nigeria because they have hearts of corruption, treat humanity with disdain and delight in doing abominable things and divert public funds for personal use.
According to Ihunwo, it was baffling that despite having leadership over the country, there was unabated spree of killings, a seemingly thriving kidnapping business with some officers of the military killed without drastic measures taken to return Nigeria to the path of sanity.
While charging the church to rise to speak courageously against wickedness in the land, Ihunwo declared the judgement of God upon the sponsors of such killings and kidnapping that have put Nigeria in a pitiable state that its people cannot celebrate independence of the country at 61 years.
Special prayers were said at the service for God’s favour and grace upon Nigeria and its leaders, Rivers State Executive Council, Judiciary and the Legislature, for the governor and his family, as well as the church and its leaders.
Dreams To Achieve Peace, Dev In N’Delta Achieved, FG Boasts
The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio, has said that the Federal Government has achieved its dream of moving the Niger Delta from incessant protest to peace and development.
Dikio said this, last weekend, when an ex-militant, High Chief Biobopere Ajube, was conferred with a chieftaincy title in Arogbo Ijaw Ibe, Beleukoriwei (Pathfinder) by the Paramount Ruler of the kingdom, Pere Zaccheaus Doubara Ebgunu, in his palace in Arogbo, Ondo State.
According to him, the present administration has succeeded in curtailing the restiveness in the region through engagements with the ex-militants.
He assured them that government would not renege in its promises to ensure that the region and its people are developed.
Dikio called on ex-agitators to emulate the disposition of Ajube in peace and entrepreneurship.
He lauded Ajube for leading the charge for a peaceful and prosperous Niger Delta, noting that he was the face of what can happen in the region.
According to him, “with the likes of Ajube, who had undertaken the task of having 400 ex-agitators trained in his Bradama facility under the PAP’s Train, Employ and Mentor (TEM) model, the dream of moving the Niger Delta from incessant protest to peace and development is achievable.
“We’re here to tell this community and indeed the world what Ajube means to us. He is very special and we’re excited that he bought into our vision in PAP which is tailored to change the narrative in the region.
“He took the lead of our Train, Employ and Mentor initiative and has pledged to have 400 of our people trained in his facility.
“He is the face of what can happen in the region and there is no doubt that with people like him, the Niger Delta can truly be the place to live and do business”
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by his Deputy, Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa, described Ajube as a proud son of Ondo, who had made a tremendous impact in the lives of his people.
He said the honour was a testament of all he had been doing for his people, and urged him not to relent but extend similar gestures to other parts of the state.
“We’re gathered here to celebrate a man who through self-development and engagement is where he is today. We’re proud of him as a true son of Ondo State. All he thinks about is development, peace and empowerment which is a good thing”.
Also speaking, former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe said Ajube, during the height of militancy in the Niger Delta, was grossly misunderstood by the Federal Government but as head of the Amnesty Programme, he stood firmly by his side, to explain that he meant well.
He said, “This honour is well deserved. The story and struggle of the emancipation and dealing with the issues in the Niger Delta will not be complete without the mention of High Chief Bibopere Ajube. The story is deep for some of us.
“So, I’m proud that we’re gathered here to celebrate peace, excellence, leadership, strive for sustainable development, honest, and sincere man that loves his God. I know him when he had nothing. He is a man that has the interest of his people in his heart”.
The Traditional Ruler of Arogbo Ijaw Ibe, Pere Zaccheaus Doubara Ebgunu, said it was not a mistake that Ajube was honoured with the highest title, noting that the kingdom has been blessed by him and decided to display that by conferring the prestigious title on him.
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