The National Assembly, yesterday, cut short plenary sessions of both chambers in honour of one of its vibrant members, Hon Ossy Chinedu Prestige, who passed on over the weekend.
As the senators returned to the chambers for the first time since their recess, last year, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, expressed shock and sadness over the death of the member.
The Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who expressed grief over the loss, lamented that the zone has lost one of its finest lawmakers, saying that Prestige was, “a major stakeholder, a political leader of repute and one personality that is beholden to all irrespective of differences in political party affiliation”
Prestige, until his death, represented Aba North/South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives for two terms, having been first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019.
President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, attested that Prestige was a good representative of his constituency in the National Assembly, and that he touched many lives through his business engagements and charity outreach such as the Prestige Ossy Foundation, and The Favoured Initiatives.
Lawan commiserated with his family, friends and political associates over their irreparable loss.
He also condoled with the Government and people of Abia State, and prayed that God Almighty would grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.
The Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, yesterday, declared that “Ossy’s death was a personal loss to him, being a bosom friend, brother and ally.
“I have lost a friend, brother, ally, a committed patriot, and a good natured Abian. I had wished in my heart and prayed that Ossy recovers to continue with his work in the House. We spoke severally while he was on sick bed, and he kept assuring me that he will be okay, and here we are with this sad reality. He will be sorely missed”, Abaribe said.
The minority leader, however, condoled with the family, the people of Aba North/South Federal Constituency, the government and people of Abia State on this huge loss.
Similarly, the House of Representatives adjourned plenary, yesterday, minutes after it resumed from its 2020 Christmas and New Year holidays.
The adjournment was to honour a fallen member, Hon. Ossy Prestige, whose death occurred on Sunday, February 7, 2021.
He was said to have been sick since the summer of 2020 and was flown to London for treatment.
The Speaker of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, while announcing the development to the House, expressed shock and regrets.
He said that though there were many announcements, including a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari informing the House about the appointment of the new service chiefs, the parliament would still not be sitting.
The speaker, however, gave hints of new Covid-19 safety measures to be announced, today.
He described Prestige as a friend and active member of the 8th and 9th House.
Gbajabiamila also gave brief details of his journey to London to visit the late lawmaker in a hospital.
The speaker said that at the appropriate time, the House would pay formal tributes and accord him the last respect.
He said, “You are well back from the recess. It’s good to see you back. We will be announcing tomorrow new Covid-19 protocols just to keep us safe. We need to take the necessary action.
“On a very sad note, we will not be doing any business, today. I have some announcements including a letter from Mr President on the new service chiefs. I am pushing all that for tomorrow.
“I want to announce the death of our colleague, Hon. Ossy Prestige.
“He’s been sick for a while since the summer of last year. I saw him in October of last year. We chatted and I announced to members to continue to pray for him. I think the minority leader also went to see him. Shortly, we lost communications until the family notified me a couple of days ago of his passage.
“When I went to see him in a UK hospital, he narrated to me how he travelled.
“He was a member of a powerful bloc in 8th assembly. He was a great guy.
“He shared something with me before he travelled to London. He kept telling me he had a dream and I will share that dream with you in good time.
“Our prayer is that God will comfort his family and also accept his soul. We will do a formal valedictory at the right time. We will do a minute silence for now.”
With the comments, the Speaker called the Majority Leader, Hon Ado Doguwa, to move the motion for adjournment.
Seconded by the Minority Leader, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, the House observed one-minute silence, and adjourned plenary to today.
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
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.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
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.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
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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