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Odje Urges Institutional Reform To Deepen Democracy

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A Legal practitioner and humam rights activist, Dr Akpo Odje, wants increased institutional reforms in the country to deepen democracy.

He made the call in Yenagoa on Friday in a lecture entitled “Freedom of Information: The Right to Know”.

Odje said at the event to mark the World Press Freedom Day that the sack of Prof. Maurice Iwu as INEC Chairman would not bring an end to electoral fraud in the country.

Rather, he said, the nation should concentrate on reforming the entire political system in line with international practice.

The Warri-based lawyer said the reforms would engineer better progress for the country.

Odje said that no one could do any magic in terms of performance until the complete overhaul of the institutions.

“Even if you appoint tested hands, including Prof. Wole Soyinka to become INEC Chairman, there is only little he can do.

“The system is corrupt. Until the institutions are reformed, we may not be able to conduct free and fair elections,’’ he stated.

Odje expressed worry that barely 13 months to the next general election, there is no sign of preparations due largely to political crisis in the country.

“This is the month of May, and elections are been scheduled for January next year. As we talk now, no voter registration has been conducted.

‘’We don’t even know when political parties will conduct their primaries. How then can we have credible elections,” he queried.

The lawyer also faulted the manner in which the federal government was handling the post amnesty programme for ex-militants in the Niger Delta.

“We called the boys to come out of the creeks and granted them amnesty, even for not committing any crime. But the way it is going, it looks like we never prepared for the post Amnesty era,” Odje said.

He also picked on the oil companies, saying that they were “not helping matters”.

He said the companies’ failure to relocate their headquarters to their operational areas in the Niger Delta was a set back to the development of the region.

“They are impoverishing our people by paying their taxes in Abuja and Lagos,” Odje said.

He called on journalists to live above board in the discharge of their professional duties and expressed concerns over the delay in the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill by the National Assembly.

He also advised journalists to be security conscious as they remained targets of politicians who might not like them to report the truth.

“The Nigerian Constitution is not protective of journalists just like in Ghana and other developed countries. Your job is a very delicate one and you need to be careful,” Odje warned.

In an address, the Chairman of the occasion and Commissioner of Bayelsa State Ministry of Information, Strategy and Orientation, Mr Nathan Egba, described journalism as a noble profession.

He called on media practitioners in the state to see themselves as partners in the development of Bayelsa.

In his welcome address, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Tarinyo Akono, said the body was disturbed by the recent killing of journalists across the country.

Akono used the occasion to announce the re-naming of the state NUJ Press Centre after veteran journalist, Late Ernest Ikoli, for his contribution to the growth of journalism in Nigeria.

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2023: May 29 Handover Sacrosant – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday reiterated his commitment to handing over leadership to an elected president on May 29 next year, saying that his term in office will end on that day in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In a brief remark tothe Minister of National Education, Pre-School and Sports of the Kingdom of Morocco Mr. Shakib Ben Musa, who visited the State House as Special Envoy of King Mohammed the VI, President Buhari said his term of office will end with the inauguration of a new president in May next year.
He, however, said that he will study the message sent and respond accordingly, giving assurances at the same time that he will continue to cherish and strengthen the very warm and cordial relations between the two countries.
Accompanied by the resident representative of the Kingdom in Nigeria, Mr. Moha Ou Ali Tagma, the Special Envoy reiterated to the President the friendship and solidarity of the King, the government and people of Morocco with Nigeria.

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NNPP Blasts Tinubu Over Absence At Town Hall Meeting

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Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, has taken a swipe at the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for refusing to honour invitations on debate, saying that it was an indication that he has nothing to tell Nigerians or he does not have the power to rule the country.
Addressing journalists on Monday in Abuja, the NNPP National Chairman, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali said that the APC Presidential candidate should endeavor to appear for Nigerians to hear him and his blueprint for the country, asking  him to come for  debates and  say something, even if it may not be clear.
According to him, the media should interrogate all the presidential candidates as we inch closer to the 2023 Presidential election, adding, that “the NNPP would continue to engage patriotic individuals and organisations that share our vision and mission to rescue Nigeria and save democracy in the country. For the avoidance of doubt, our Party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party will not in any way be coerced or blackmailed to fulfill somebody’s inordinate ambition to rule Nigeria by all means.”
Recall that the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar; the NNPP candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso and that of Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi had featured on Sunday night at a town hall meeting organised by Arise TV, Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, in partnership with Vanguard Newspapers, Premium Times, Daily Trust, Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, and Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Abuja, where Tinubu was conspicuously absent again.
According to him, the NNPP as the Third Force has finally arrived against the backdrop that Nigerians were tired of excuses and the culture of blame games by the APC, adding, “like what happened yesterday, the 4th of Dec 2022. Apart from Arise TV, the CDD, highly respectable organisation and virtually all the media organisation in the country, so this is an open forum. It’s very clear. So why can’t you go and talk, say something, even if it’s not clear, people will get something out of you but you preferred to jet out of the country.
“So this is a different issue. This is not the first time, not the second time, it has been like that. You can assume that most of them do not have the power to rule the country. Two, they are also ashamed of what they have done. You can’t call yourself the leader of a party for eight years and now you want to rule the country, you cannot come and tell Nigerians what you have done during the eight years. You are the leader of the party because, you have, for the first time, in the history of the country, a President is different, and the leader of the party different.
“Now the person who is invited is the person who is the leader of the party, come forward, you say no, he is out of the country. So people are waiting for him, if he doesn’t come for debate, he will come for election.”

 

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Police Arrest Four Over Attempt On Senator’s Life

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The Niger State Police Command, on Monday, said that additional facts had emerged following the arrest of four suspects in Minna, the State capital, over the failed assassination attempt on the Chairman,  Senate Services Committee, Senator Sani Musa, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger East.
In a statement, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Niger State Command, explained that one of the suspects confessed further that the hoodlums led by the said Sherrif, presently at large, trailed the Senator to his home in Minna.
Recall that Senator Sani Musa on Saturday narrowly escaped assassination by unknown gunmen in his Minna residence, and four suspects were immediately arrested in connection with the incident.
It was gathered that the incident happened on Saturday night, just as the  suspected assailants were said to have trailed the Senator, who is seeking his second term into the Senate in 2023, from Abuja to his residence along the popular Old Alheri Clinic Road, Tunga area in Minna.
Unknown to the assailants, Senator Musa had returned to Abuja in the afternoon before they invaded the house in the night.
DSP Wasiu Abiodun said, “Reference to the Commands’ earlier press release on the unfortunate invasion of  Senator Sani Musa residence, Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District.
“Niger State Police Command wishes to state that additional facts emerged in the course of investigation, as one of the suspects confessed further that the hoodlums led by the said Sherrif, presently at large targeted the Senator to his home in Minna.
“The hoodlums suspected that he could be at home, having attended a coronation ceremony at Kagara on the same date and to possibly kidnap him.
“Fortunately, the gang met his absence, broke into the house and ransacked the residence in the pretence of the purported search execution in the residence.
“However, investigation is in progress, as effort is on top gear to apprehend other members of the gang and further development will be made public.”

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