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No Cause For Alarm Over S’Court Decision -PDP, Atiku

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the February 23 election, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, said there was no cause for any alarm on the verdict of the Supreme Court to strike out his appeal to inspect the central server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The apex court had in a judgment held that Atiku’s request could not be granted because it was brought after parties have joined issues on the existence or otherwise of the server.
In the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Chima Nweze, it said the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal was in order in refusing to grant Atiku’s request at the time it was made so as not to prejudice other parties in the matter.
In addition, the apex court held that the appeal lacked merit because the appellants failed to prove how the decision of the tribunal was unfair to them.
Justice Nweze said a party can only complain of the lack of fair hearing when discretion of court was wrongly or arbitrarily used by the court, adding that in this instant case, the tribunal used its discretion judicially and judiciously.
“I see no reason to depart from the decision of the lower court, the appeal is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed”, Justice Nweze said.
Reacting, Atiku, who spoke through his lead counsel at yesterday’s proceedings, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, said that the decision was anticipated and that proactive action had been taken during the hearing of the petition.
Jegede said that the issue of server which was aimed at establishing that the election was rigged during collation of results was thoroughly addressed through witnesses and documents tendered and admitted during the presentation of the petition.
He expressed optimism that the tribunal would do justice at the end of the day.
Atiku had approached the Supreme Court praying for an order to set aside the decision of the tribunal which refused to compel INEC to allow him access to the central server alleged used in the conduct of the presidential poll.
The senior lawyer told the five man panel of the apex court led by Justice Mohammed Datijo, that access to the INEC’s central server is germane to the joint petition of Atiku and PDP and urged the court to grant the request of the appellants by ordering the electoral body to allow access to its database.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, asked the court to turn down the request and to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the appeal has become academic.
Olanipekun drew the attention of the court to the fact that the life of the appeal will expire tomorrow and even if the request is granted it will serve no purpose to the two petitioners since they have long close their case.
Olanipekun further told the court that parties will on Wednesday adopt their final written addresses at the tribunal after which a judgment date will be fixed.
The position of Olanipekun was, however, adopted by counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman SAN and that of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Charles Edosamwam.
Recall that the tribunal in a ruling on June 24 refused to grant the request of the petitioners on the grounds that doing so would amount to admitting the existence of the ‘controversial INEC central server’.
The tribunal in its ruling delivered by its Chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba further held that granting the application would be prejudice to the respondents in the petition.
Dissatisfied, the petitioners approached the Supreme Court to upturn the decision.
However, in a related development, the apex court struck out another appeal by Atiku and the PDP following the withdrawal of same by the two appellants.
At the resumed hearing of the appeal, counsel to the appellants, Eyitayo Jegede, informed the court that the appeal having not been argued within 21 days allowed by law has become statute barred.
The appeal SC/738/2019 was seeking to upturn the decision of the tribunal which held that the petitioners lost their right of objection to the APC’s application seeking the dismissal of their petition or expunge some parts of the petition having not filed a reply within the time prescribed by the law.
The withdrawal was not opposed by the respondents; INEC, Buhari and the APC.
Accordingly, presiding Justice of the five man panel, Justice Mohammed Datijo struck out the appeal.
The parties in the petition will tomorrow adopt their final written addresses to state their respective positions in the petition challenging the declaration of Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential election.
The tribunal had adjourned till August 21 for adoption of final written addresses after the parties in the petition had argued and close their cases for and against the petition.
But the tribunal is expected to announce a date for its decision after parties have adopted their final addresses tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has reacted to Supreme Court ruling against appeal filed by its Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar at the ongoing Election Tribunal.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last presidential election had approached the apex court seeking permission to be allowed access to a supposed server.
The Justice Datijo Mohammed-led panel of the Supreme Court struck out the interlocutory appeal.
But this development came after the appeal was withdrawn by Mr Abubakar’s counsel.
Reacting, PDP, in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, noted that the main petition was still before presidential tribunal and has not been decided on.
The statement read: “The case that was determined today by the Justice Dattijio Mohammed led five-man panel of the Supreme Court, was an appeal filed by the PDP and Atiku/Obi on a ruling of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal concerning an application made by the APC to withdraw one of the replies made to the petitioners’ petition.
“The APC had erroneously made two replies to one of PDP and Atiku/Obi’s petitions but later came to the courtroom and apply to withdraw the very reply the PDP and Atiku/Obi had replied to, thereby adopting the one not replied to.
“This request was later granted by the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal and the PDP and Atiku/Obi had gone to the Supreme Court, seeking the leave of court to grant the party fair hearing.
“Please, note that the main petition is still before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal and the adoption of the final written addresses by various parties will take place on Wednesday, August 21, 2019, at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, venue of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
“Important Information: It is also important for the general public to note that the PDP and Atiku/Obi have already done justice to ‘ALL’ the replies made to their Petitions by the 1st Respondent, (INEC), 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) and the 3rd Respondent (The All Progressives Congress), in their final written address.
“The Issues for determination: Whether the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the election; whether the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) submitted to the 1st Respondent (INEC) affidavits containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election; whether from the pleadings and evidence led it was established that the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) was elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election; whether the Presidential election conducted by the 1st Respondent (INEC) on the 23rd February 2019 was invalid by reasons of corrupt practices; and whether the presidential election conducted by the 1st Respondent (INEC) on the 23rd February 2019 was invalid by reasons of non-compliance with the electoral act 2010 (as amended) and the electoral guidelines 2019 and the manuals issued for the conduct of the elections.

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RVHA Dismisses Amaewhule’s Resolution On Rivers Govt Expenditure

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Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, has dismissed the purported resolution passed by Martin Amaewhule and his co-travellers wherein they claimed to have barred the Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, and the State Government from withdrawing money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.
This is contained in a statement signed by the Clerk of the House, Dr G. M. Gillis-West, on Tuesday.
In his opening speech before the start of legislative business at plenary in Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo wondered the basis of such audacity by Amaewhule and his cohorts when their seats had been declared vacant on December 13, 2023, by the immediate former Speaker of the 10th House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie.
Oko-Jumbo stated: “The House states as follows: On the 11th Day of December, 2023, at the 87th Legislative sitting of the House, former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule and the 24 former members defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“By virtue of Section 109(1)(g) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution, which are self executing, and consequent upon their defection, on the 13th Day of December, 2023, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie, DSSRS, Esq, PhD, as the then duly recognised Speaker of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, by virtue of a court order granted by Hon Justice Danagogo on the 12th Day of December, 2023, in Suit No. PHC/3030/CS/2023, and pursuant to Section 109(2) of the 1999 Constitution, declared their seats vacant.”
The speaker, therefore, said it is laughable to have heard and seen the news of the illegal sitting of the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, led by Amaewhule on television screens and
social media space on the 15th Day of July, 2024.
Recall that Amaewhule and 24 others had passed a resolution to the effect that Governor Fubara was not permitted to authorize the withdrawal of moneys from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.
The resolution further threatened that the Amaewhule led House would declare a shutdown on expenditures, until an Appropriation Bill for the 2024 fiscal year is presented and passed by the group.
The purported resolution also directed the governor to desist from further authorization of withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State, while directing all Rivers State Government Ministries, Commissions, Agencies, Departments and Extra-Ministerial Departments to desist from spending taxpayers’ funds until the 2024 Appropriation Bill is laid before the former lawmakers.
Decrying the Amaewhule-led Assembly directives, Oko-Jumbo insisted that “Consequent upon constitutional provisions and the declaration of their seats vacant, the recognised 10th Rivers State House of Assembly is the one led by Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo.
“Thus, the Rivers State Government has ceased paying any form of salaries, allowances or statutory remunerations to the former members.
“The 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, which is the legitimate House under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo is the only one recognised by law and the Rivers State Government, and thus, has been receiving all statutory allocations due the House of Assembly.
“And has been discharging its financial obligations by paying the salaries of the recognised Honourable members of the House, their aides, and allowances of the public servants in the Rivers State House of Assembly.”
Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo said Amaewhule and the 24 ex-lawmakers had hinged their resolution on Section 122 of the 1999 Constitution, which empowers a State Governor to continue to make appropriations for six months, from the budget of the previous fiscal year, where for any reason, he was unable to present an Appropriation Bill to the House.
He noted, “May I remind the defected members that His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, GSSRS, presented the 2024 Appropriation Bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly, under the leadership of the then Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie, DSSRS.
“And it was duly passed on the 13th Day of December, 2023, and assented to on the 14th Day of December, 2023.”
Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo said further: “This House awaits to receive from His Excellency, the presentation of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for the next three financial years, pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers State Fiscal Responsibility Law, No 8 of 2010, in order to prepare for the 2025 fiscal year.
“The general public is, therefore, called upon to disregard and ignore those misguided former members, and also discountenance their illegal actions.
“I once again call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to expedite preparations towards the conduct of a bye-election to fill the vacant seats created in the Rivers State House of Assembly by the defection of Martin Amaewhule and 24 others.”
Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo explained that the position of the Rivers State House of Assembly led by him has been communicated to the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, the Head of the Civil Service of Rivers State, the Accountant-General, and Auditor-General of Rivers State.
Other institutions that have also been communicated, according to Oko-Jumbo, include the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria; Chairman of Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission; Accountant-General of the Federation; Group Managing Director/CEO, Zenith Bank PLC; and Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank Group.
At the commencement of legislative business, member representing Opobo/Nkoro State Constituency and Deputy Speaker, Hon Adolphus Orubienimigha, proposed the Rivers State Vocational and Technical Training Institute Bill 2024, which passed first reading.
The bill seeks the establishment of a comprehensive training institute where Rivers youths, including women can access to learn and acquire requisite and industry-based skills to become self-reliant or employable where such skills are needed.
Also at plenary, the House entertained the motion to Prohibit Public Defecation, which was proposed by Deputy Speaker, Hon Adolphus Orubienimigha, demanding the declaration of public health emergency on public defecation in order to protect public health, dignity of lives and ensure environmental responsibility in the State.
The House also received a petition from the Ataba Community in Andoni Local Government Area over ongoing land dispute between Bonny and Ataba communities, with the House Speaker referring the petition to the Committee on Public Complaints headed by the member representing Ahoada West State Constituency and Leader of the House, Hon Sokari Goodboy Sokari.

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N70,000 Minimum Wage: How Tinubu Convinced Labour Leaders

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President Bola Tinubu yesterday increased the Federal Government’s offer on the national minimum wage from N62,000 to N70,000, with an assurance that it will be reviewed after three years, instead of five years.
Tinubu said he had to intervene in the negotiations, knowing the economic challenges faced by many Nigerians, and the need to provide urgent succour.
He said this at a meeting with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja.
“I have heard all your presentations. You came here with the intention to get something on behalf of your members. It has been tough globally. And if you review my track record, I have never been found wanting in ameliorating the problem of workers.
“I belong to the people and to all of you in leadership. Without you, this job is not interesting,” the President said, in statement by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, his spokesman.
He said the labour leaders challenged the thinking faculty of leadership, “and we have reviewed the position. I have consulted widely, and when the tripartite committee submitted their reports, I reviewed them again and started to think and rethink.
“Last week, I brought the workload to you because we have a timeline. We have a problem, and we recognise that you have a problem too.
“We are in the same economy. We are in the same country. We may have different rooms, different addresses, and different houses; we are just members of one family that must care for each other.
“We must look at the parameters of things. Here, I have a speed limit, and I must pay attention to traffic warnings; slippery when wet, curved roads, and be careful not to have an accident. That is why I went as far as having this meeting today.”
He said the government and labour leaders were driving the economy together.
“Let us look at the tenure of review. Let us agree on that, and affirm three years. Two years is too short. We affirm three years. We will review.
“I am going to move from the tripartite committee. I am going to edge a little bit forward, looking at the review that we have done.
“Yes, no one in the federal establishment should earn less than N70,000. So, we are going to benchmark at N70,000,” he said.
Tinubu explained that renewing the hope of Nigerians extended to providing infrastructure that would improve their livelihoods and create an inclusive economy that all could participate and benefit.
The President said the government was committed to reducing the cost of transportation with the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas-powered buses, which would be cheaper and efficient.
He also assured the labour unions of providing buses that would be deployed across the country.
President Tinubu also said the entitlements of members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions would be considered.
He urged the Ministries of Finance, and Budget & Economic Planning to look at the possibilities of clearing the backlog.
At the meeting, Sen. George Akume, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, thanked the President for his consideration of issues as the “Father of the Nation” and scheduling two meetings to resolve the initial impasse.
“Mr President, at the tripartite meeting, and the resolutions of the government, Organised Private Sector and labour unions; we were all united as one family to promote and grow our economy, and deepen our democracy, by implication to the benefit of all.
“Basically, that is what we are saying today. We have a listening President here,” said Akume.
Comrade Joe Ajaero, the NLC President, and Comrade Festus Osifo, his TUC counterpart, thanked the President for creating time to host two meetings on the review of the national minimum wage.
The two labour leaders acknowledged that at the last meeting, the President directed the rescheduling of an official trip in order to attend the second meeting.
The labour leaders also expressed their appreciation to the President, applauding him for his clear show of commitment to the welfare of Nigerian workers.

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Rivers Crisis: Sanction Wike Before He Throws Nigeria Into Chaos, Momodu Tells Tinubu

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A 2023 presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dele Momodu, has called for stricter discipline within the administration, particularly regarding the ongoing political situation in Rivers State.
Dele Momodu made this known in an open letter to President Bola Tinubu, yesterday.
“You must enforce Discipline as a leader,” Momodu stated in the open letter, The Tide gleaned from his X handle.
He specifically addressed the actions of the former governor of Rivers State and current Federal Capital Territory minister, Nyesom Wike.
“Your new disciple, Nyesom Wike, has publicly disrespected you in the Fubara matter,” Momodu wrote.
Momodu warned of potentially severe consequences if the situation is not addressed promptly, stating, “You need to sanction him before he throws Nigeria into total chaos.”
In his letter, Momodu, despite being a member of the opposition, positioned himself as a concerned friend with a long-standing relationship with the President.
Momodu wrote, “Nigeria is in big trouble. Our economy has virtually collapsed. And what’s the way out? You’ve been wasting too much money at a time that requires absolute frugality. Please, stop this reckless propensity for wasting scarce resources.
“Purchasing Presidential jets, building outlandish monuments, distributing cash as palliatives, etc, are signs of a failed and careless government. If you can curb the excessive spending of your government, you will free up a lot of resources for serious development.”
He criticised what he perceives as wasteful spending by the administration, urging for absolute frugality in these challenging times.
He said, “I believe you’re frittering away our resources because you desperately crave a second term. But the best assurance of a second term is Performance. Nigerians are not expecting you to turn water into wine but they don’t want you to turn their wines into water.
“Here are my tips: invest in vocational skills for our highly talented youths who can demonstrate their capacity for hard work. Invest heavily in local agriculture. Upgrade our institutions of learning. Giving cash to politicians to distribute is unhealthy and unhelpful. It is the height of cluelessness.”
Momodu also cautioned against the influence of sycophants, particularly in the National Assembly, advising the President to be wary of those who worship him.
He wrote, “In the name of God, beware of those hero-worshippers at the National Assembly who have turned you into God. NDUME is your best friend. Listen to him. There’s danger ahead.
“You must enforce Discipline as a leader. Your new disciple, Nyesom Wike, has publicly disrespected you in the Fubara matter. You need to sanction him before he throws Nigeria into total chaos.”

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