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NCS Pardons Defunct Bendel Gov, Coup Plotters …IBB, Gowon, Abdulsalami, Jonathan Attend

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The National Council of State meeting presided over by President Muhammedu Buhari, yesterday, ratified the presidential pardon granted to Former Governor, Prof Ambrose Alli (governor of the now-defunct Bendel State, 1979—1983, now Edo and Delta States), over N900,000 fraud.
Although Ali later paid the money back to government, he was convicted.
The NCS also gave presidential pardon to three other Nigerians.
Those pardoned along with Alli are Col. Moses Effiong, Major E.J. Olarenwaju (for attempted coup in the Ibrahim Babangida era) and Ajayi Olusola Babalola.
Addressing State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, which had in attendance four former heads of states – General Yakubu Gowon, General Ibrahim Babangida; Chief Ernest Shonekan, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and Goodluck Jonathan; the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said that the ratification follows his presentation of a memo from the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy.
According to him, “The memo presented for consultation in line with one of the constitutional requirements and consideration of grant of pardon to 45 persons, two inmates for pardon, 39 inmates for clemency and four ex-convicts for presidential pardon.
“To further clarify on the prerogative of mercy, Mr. President because of the Covid-19 pandemic has directed the decongestion of our correctional centres across the country. And by way of collaborative action, the governors, heads of courts across the nation, have worked assiduously in collaboration with the Presidential Committee on Decongestion of our Correctional Centres, and at the end of the day, we have succeeded in taking over 4,000 inmates out of our correctional centres across the country.
“What we have today is a consolidation of what has been done, and the strategies put in place to see to the decongestion of our correctional centres.
“As you are aware, more than 70 percent inmates in our correctional centres were awaiting trial across the country, and a lot of considerations were put in place to ensure our correctional centres are decongested. The prerogative of mercy was one of such considerations by Mr. President.”
Malami said the Council of State also approved the appointment of two new legal practitioners as members of Federal Judicial Service Commission.
The AGF explained that the law confers on President Buhari the right to appoint members of the Federal Judicial Service Commission, subject to consultation with the Council of State.
He said: “The exercise this morning relating to the presentation of the council memo was for the purpose of fulfilling the constitutional righteousness relating to the appointment of the two new legal practitioners; in essence, it is to consult with the Council of State out of desire for compliance with constitutional requirements.
“The two members to represent Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on the Federal Judicial Service Commission are Namoso Ekanem (SAN) from Akwa Ibom State representing the South-South geo-political zone and Mammud Abubakar Mogaji (SAN) from Niger State to represent the North-Central geo-political zone.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on his part, said Council of State also approved the appointment of Silas Agara, as chairman of National Population Commission (NPC).
Members of the commission also approved are: Muhammed Chuso A. Dottijo (Sokoto); Alhaji Razaq Gidado (Kwara); Ibrahim Mohammed (Bauchi); Joseph Kwai Shazin (FCT); Engineer Bala Almu Banya (Katsina); and Mrs Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin (Lagos).
It would be recalled that the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, had denied media reports that he joined forces with the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof Ibrahim Gambari to stop the appointment of Agara as chairman of NPC.
Buhari had in two separate letters dated March 20 and August 12, 2020, nominated Agara, a former deputy governor of Nasarawa State, to head the NPC.
The SGF said apart from the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, that was absent, the meeting was attended by all living former Nigerian leaders.
Mustapha said council members also commended the Presidential Task Force on National Response on Covid-19 for a job well done.
He said the council noted that the impact of the panel on the nation’s economy and the fact that it has exposed the weaknesses in the system.
The members, however, appealed to Nigerians to continue to adhere to non-pharmaceuticals measures put in place pending when vaccines would be found for the virus.
Also speaking, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen Babagana Mungonu (rtd), briefed the council on the security challenges facing the country, adding that in response, the council approved the setting up of the National Centre for Control of Small and Light Weapons to be domiciled in his office.

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Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court

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The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.

Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.

The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.

It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.

They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.

According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.

The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.

However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.

Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.

The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.

Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.

He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.

More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.

Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.

The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.

Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.

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World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.

The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.

The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.

“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.

“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?

“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.

“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.

“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.

“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”

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Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation

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Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.

It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.

The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.

“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.

Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.

It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.

It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.

“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’

“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.

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