The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general election and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, will today, show Nigerians that he means business to overturn the verdict of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) that confirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election, as his lawyers file a 70-point appeal at the Supreme Court, to beat Wednesday’s deadline.
One of Atiku’s lawyers said: “We will file latest on Monday, September 23, and at most, due to any unforeseen reason, by September 24. Bear in mind that the deadline for submission is Wednesday. We won’t file on Wednesday for tactical reasons.”
According to sources, one of the 70 grounds of appeal is that, “the judgement of the PEPT was based on the facts; the judgement was not on the issues presented to the presidential tribunal by the petitioner, especially in relation to the respondent’s academic qualifications.
“Take, for instance, one of the respondent’s witnesses, Major-General Paul Tarfa (rtd) called by President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyers said that they did not give their certificates to the Military Board. Tarfa’s testimony is against the claim by Buhari that the Nigerian military is in possession of his certificates.
“Secondly, Buhari said that he was recruited into the military in 1961, and Tarfa said he was recruited in 1962. So, what is the correct date of his recruitment into the Army? Somebody is not telling the truth.
“The issue in question is who entered the different grades for him from both the Cambridge and the West African School Certificate results. This is the first time that the court will say that the documents are admitted in the interest of justice. So, who entered the different grades for him and if he did it, why?
“One of the grounds of appeal is that the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, brought the Cambridge documents dated July 18 and testified on July 20. The point here is that it was not pleaded, when the respondent replied to the petitions of Atiku. So, speaking as in point of law, you don’t speak on documents not pleaded.
“The WAEC documents contradicted the Cambridge documents. This is a case of forgery, inconsistency in documents.”
The lawyer added, “On the INEC server, the judgement of the PEPT said the INEC server was hacked, and we then asked, which of the servers was hacked?
“The tribunal judgement was based on the Electoral Act Section 52 (1) (B), but this aspect of the law has since been deleted in 2015. It is no longer in existence. This was the case in Wike Vs Peterside.
“If the judgement said INEC server was recklessly hacked, then, there is a server and, therefore, a criminal offence. Yet, INEC did not claim so or that its documents were stolen. How come the judge reached this scandalous decision?
“If Section 52 (1) (B) is no longer in existence, how come the lead judgement came to this decision? It was not based on the documents pleaded. Therefore, how come it was decided so? That means that the judge went on a voyage of discoveries and exploration. Buhari was not accused of forgery. Rather, he was accused of lying, when he said the army was in possession of his documents
“In his form CF001, he presented an affidavit, instead of his certificates. PEPT relied on the CV presented. We are asking, is that supposed to be so? CV is basically to show working experience. No primary school certificate. The judgement was based on inferences. The judge simply inferred.
“We are surprised that the PEPT went the way it did. It is our view that the judges would have gone further to help improve our electoral laws as well as use it to commence the reform of the electoral laws. So, these are some of the issues that form the grounds of the 70 points of appeal at the Supreme Court.”
Meanwhile, as President Muhammadu Buhari departed Abuja yesterday for New York, USA, to participate in the 74th Session of United Nations general Assembly, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has berated him, saying that he has no agenda and did not articulate any definite objectives, plans and proposals to attract tangible benefits to the nation.
It would be recalled that the Presidency had said that Mr President’s participation in this year’s gathering of world leaders was particularly significant as it coincides with Nigeria’s Presidency of UNGA.
It equally stressed that Buhari would underscore his administration’s commitment to building on the achievements of its three-point agenda, following the renewal of his electoral mandate by a majority of Nigerians.
But in its reaction, the PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, frowned at Buhari’s departure to USA and charged him to address EU, AU reports on 2019 polls.
The full statement reads, “The party says attending such an important meeting of world leaders and policy makers without a clear-cut national agenda shows that the Buhari Presidency is not committed to our nation but only going out for another showboating on the international platform.
“Is it not lamentable that while other leaders are heading to the meeting with well-articulated national proposals that will boost their nations’ competitiveness on international engagements, the Buhari Presidency is going empty with zero capacity to engage; a clear signal that it will equally return empty?
“The sad effect of such leadership failure is worsened by the acceptability issues trailing the rigging of the February Presidential election, for which the Buhari Presidency is largely lacking in confidence and poise to vigorously engage other world leaders on issues. In over four years of this administration, the Buhari Presidency has not been able to harness opportunities presented by such important events despite huge resources deployed for attendance.
“The PDP painfully recalls how, earlier this month, President Buhari returned empty from the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), at the same time his Ghanaian counterpart, Nana Akufo-Ado, sealed a deal with automobile giant, Toyota, to establish a Toyota and Suzuki manufacturing plant in Ghana.
“Nevertheless, since Mr. President is appearing before the UNGA, the PDP tasks him to use the opportunity to address world leaders on the reports by the European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and other international bodies, detailing heavy manipulations and outright rigging of the 2019 general election to favour him and his party.
“Our party also urges Mr. President to address the world on reported issues of violations of human rights, disregard to the rule of law and constitutional order, disobedience to court orders, arbitrary arrest and detention of citizens, extrajudicial killings, impunity and swelling corruption under his watch.
“The PDP also insists that President Buhari should address the world on the UN Rapporteur’s report as well as issues of violent division, escalated banditry, bloodletting and general insecurity in our dear nation under his woeful administration. In the same vein, the PDP demands that Mr. President addresses the world on how his administration wrecked our once robust economy from a prosperous nation to the world poverty capital in a space of four years.
“The PDP states that these are facts known to all and for which the world is demanding answers from the Buhari Presidency. Our party also urges Mr. President to assert the confidence and courage required to demand for help from other world leaders.”
Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari had departed Abuja, yesterday for New York, United States to participate in the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA74).
The president will arrive the US, today.
The session opened on September 17, with preparations ahead of the arrival of world leaders.
The President’s participation at this year’s gathering of world leaders is particularly significant as it coincides with Nigeria’s Presidency of UNGA.
On June 4, 2019, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, was unanimously elected as the President of UNGA74 – an indication of the country’s high esteem in global reckoning.
This marks the second time Nigeria would be occupying that prestigious position following late Maj-Gen Joseph Nanven Garba’s election during UNGA44 in 1989.
The theme for UNGA74 is, “Galvanizing Multilateral Efforts for Poverty Eradication, Quality Education, Climate Action and Inclusion.”
The general debates would kick off tomorrow during which leaders of delegations would present their national statements as well as speak to the theme of the session.
Buhari is scheduled as Number Five Speaker on the first day of the debates – another plus for the country as most world leaders will be listening in the General Assembly Hall while the global audience watches on live television.
The President is expected to underscore his administration’s commitment to building on the achievements of its three-point agenda following the renewal of his electoral mandate by majority of Nigerians.
He would also reaffirm Nigeria’s position on salient global issues.
While in New York, the Nigerian leader and members of his delegation are expected to participate in the Climate Action Summit with the theme, “A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win,” convened by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres; the high-level meeting organized by the President of UNGA74 on Universal Health Coverage with the theme, “Moving Together to Build a Healthier World”; UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development; High-Level Dialogue on Financial Development as well as High-Level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
The Nigerian delegation is also expected to participate at the side-events organized by the country’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
These include: SDGs Integration – Bridging the Policy Planning – Budget Gap for the Achievement of SDGs, organized by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals; Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows and Strengthen Good Practices on Assets Recovery and Return to Foster Sustainable Development, organized by the Office of the National Coordinator/CEO, African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development/African Peer Review Mechanism (AUDA-NEPAD/APRM) in collaboration with the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption bodies.
Seven European and African countries have confirmed their participation at this event designed to mobilize collective global action against illicit assets and their recovery and return for developmental projects.
Moreover, the meeting would further boost the profile of President Buhari as the African Union anti-corruption Champion.
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources is also organising a side-event on Sanitation and Hygiene Campaign for a Clean Nigeria: Sharing Lessons and Key Insights.
This is crucial for Nigeria as donor nations and organisations are willing to support the country’s target to end open defecation by 2025.
The Nigerian leader is also billed to hold bilateral meetings with some leaders of other delegations; chief executive officers of big companies keen to invest in the country; Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates on sustaining the polio-free campaign as well as issues on human capital projects and development.
Before returning to Abuja at the conclusion of his engagements, President Buhari will meet with a select group of top America-based Nigerian businessmen and potential investors.
The President will be accompanied to New York by Governors Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi and Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
Buhari Seeks NASS’ Amendment Of PIA …Wants NNPC, EFCC Boards’ Confirmation
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate, seeking an amendment to the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
President Muhammadu Buhari also sought the House of Representatives’ amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act, including removal of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning from the boards of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
In the letter, Buhari wants an amendment to the new Act to allow for the removal of the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance from the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), saying that they can continue to perform their functions without necessarily being members of the board.
In the letter read, yesterday, during plenary by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, Buhari is also seeking for the amendment to allow the Non-Executive Members to be increased from two to six in the national interest.
The President, in three other letters to the Senate, asked for the confirmation of nominees into the boards of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The three confirmation letters from the President were read in yesterday’s plenary by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan.
In a letter dated September 16, 2021, Buhari stated that the request to confirm the chairman, chief executive and executive directors for the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority was being made in accordance with the provision of Section 34(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The nominees for confirmation into the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Board are: Idaere Gogo Ogan (chairman); Engr. Sarki Auwalu (chief executive); Abiodun A. Adeniji (executive director, Finance and Accounts); and Ogbugo Ukoha (executive director, Distributions Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure).
In another letter also dated September 16, 2021, the President while relying on the provision of Section 11(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, requested the Senate to confirm the appointment of four nominees as chairman, chief executive and executive commissioners to the Board of the Upstream Regulatory Commission.
The nominees are: Isa Ibrahim Modibo (chairman); Engr. Gbenga Komolafe (chief executive); Hassan Gambo (executive commissioner, Finance and Accounts); and Ms Rose Ndong (executive commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management).
According to the President, requests for the confirmation of the board’s membership were made “in order to fast track the process for the establishment of the commission”.
In the third letter dated September 17, 2021, Buhari requested the upper legislative chamber to confirm the appointment of the secretary and board members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He explained that the request for the confirmation of the nominees was in accordance with the provision of Section 2(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.
Those to be confirmed include George Abbah Ekpungu, secretary (Cross River); Luqman Muhammed (Edo); Anumba Adaeze (Enugu); Alhaji Kola Raheem Adesina (Kwara); and Alhaji Yahaya Muhammad (Yobe).
At the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, read the cover letter attached to an executive bill presented to the House by Buhari at the opening of plenary, yesterday.
The proposals also include the appointment of non-executive board members; removal of the ministries from the boards of the two institutions; and appointment of executive directors to the boards.
The President’s requests to the House of Representatives are a rehearsal of the same demands he made to the Senate.
It would be recalled that the joint National Assembly committees that worked on the PIB had proposed five per cent equity share for the development of the host communities but the Senate-led the campaign for its reduction to three per cent while the House of Representatives approved the panel’s recommendation.
The conference committee set up by the presiding officers of both chambers in their recommendation, fixed the equity share at three per cent and was invariably approved by the National Assembly.
The development generated into controversy with senators from the South-South geopolitical zone kicking against it and asked Buhari to resolve the impasse by seeking amendment to increase the equity share to five per cent.
However, the new amendments proposed by the President did not address the concerns of the South-South stakeholders.
Rather, Buhari’s fresh request centred basically on the need to review the administrative structure of the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
Buhari is seeking the senators’ approval to increase the numbers of the non-executive board members of each of the regulatory agencies from two to six, in order to capture the six geopolitical zones.
He said, “The Petroleum Industry Act 2021 provided for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions.
“I am of the view that this membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country.
“Therefore, I pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity.
“Needless to add that this amendment will provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as oil industry.
“If this amendment is approved, it will now increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six that is one person from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country”.
The President also removed the Ministers of Finance and Petroleum Resources from the board of the two agencies.
He said the two ministers already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations.
He said, “They can continue to perform such roles without being in the board.
“It is also important to note that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be directors – being the same rank with the directors in the institution
“This may bring some complications in some decision making, especially on issues of staff related matters.”
Buhari added that the appointments of the executive directors who would be in charge of the seven departments in the NMDPRA should not be subjected to Senate confirmation since they are civil servants who were promoted in the course of their career.
He said, “The Act has made provision for seven departmental heads in the Authority to be known as executive directors.
“Their appointment (according to the PIA) will also be subjected to Senate confirmation. These category of officers are civil servants and not political appointees.
“The Senate is invited to note the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments.
“This will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the authority.
“In the future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the authority.
Buhari said the proposed amendment would also increase the membership of the board from nine to 13 members that is representing 44 per cent expansion of the board site.
He said, “This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions”.
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Emohua, Three Kalabari LGAs Partner On Joint Security
The Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr Chidi Lloyd, has met with his counterparts from the three Kalabari-speaking local government areas; Degema, Asari-Toru and Akuku-Toru, to review the security situation along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, and plan strategies for a joint network to checkmate any infractions in the security of the LGs.
The meeting, which was held at the instance of Lloyd at the headquarters of Emohua Local Government Area, followed the recent abduction of an expatriate attached to Lubrik Construction Company; the contractor handling the construction of Trans-Kalabari Road by yet to be identified gunmen.
The chairmen of Akuku-Toru, Degema, and Asari-Toru LGAs, Hon Roland Sekibo, Hon Michael John Williams, and Hon Onengiyeofori George; respectively, in their separate remarks, commended Lloyd for initiating the process for a partnership to improve the security of lives and property along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, which presently calls for concern.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting which lasted for hours, Lloyd said the meeting condemned the abduction of the expatriate staff, who was supervising the construction work being executed by the Rivers State Government on Trans-Kalabari Road.
The council chairmen also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate by his abductors, as well as the apprehension of the masterminds of the reprehensible act by security agencies.
The meeting further agreed to set up a local security outfit with members drawn from the four local government areas to support the security agencies in providing effective security along the Emohua-Kalabari Road.
Lloyd said the meeting was also expected to be hosted concurrently amongst the four local government areas, with a view to strengthening the relationship between the LGAs as well as the promotion of the socio-economic development of the area.
The chairmen also appointed Hon Lolo Ibiene to serve as their rapporteur.
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