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Periscoping 2020 (I)

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The receding year 2020 would not easily fade in the minds of many as the year of the Coronavirus that caused large scale disruptions and colossal damage to socio-economic activities, programmes and projects of individuals, organisations, corporate bodies and countries across the globe.
Like others, Nigeria was not spared the devastation as the country slumped into a second economic recession in just a couple of years.
In varying degrees, all sectors and sections of the nation were very badly hit with some succumbing to the situation and others needing a lifeline to survive. The political sector is, perhaps, among the most resilient as it was observed to have recorded among the least disruptions within the year as the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC), managed to, largely, keep faith with its election calendar.
On the political turf, however, it was a mixed bag for players across the spectrum.
While some of the players, individuals and groups, could not have wished for better fortunes, others were visited with pains that would linger for years to come, losing exalted seats and coveted positions. For some others still, the devastation caused by COVID-19 pales in significance compared to the political debacle they suffered in 2020.
Let’s take a look at some of the events, activities and occasions that shaped the political atmosphere in Nigeria: With no fewer than 28 re-run and by-elections in 11 states to conduct on January 25, 2020, the President, Muhammadu Buhari, on January 7, 2020 met with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, top management of the electoral commission and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Abubakar in Abuja, charging the electoral umpire to ensure a free, fair and credible electoral process.
“Those that you declare as winners must be the candidates that the people have chosen. Democracy is about free will, and the will of the people must prevail. Get your acts right and leave no room for underhand tricks or manipulation”, the president told INEC.
To the police, he said: “Our elections must be done in violence-free atmosphere. The process must be free, fair, decent, devoid of intimidation or malpractices. It is the duty of the police to accomplish that and it is what I expect in the elections immediately ahead, and going forward”.
On January 8, 2020, the Supreme Court of Nigeria decided election disputes arising from the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial contests in Delta and Abia States. The court affirmed the victory of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party in Delta State.
In the same vein, the court also finally resolved issues concerning the 2019 Abia governorship election in favour of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr Alex Otti, had asked the Supreme Court to annul the results of the 2019 guber poll in 13 of the 17 local government areas of Abia State, alleging irregularities.
On January 13, 2020, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgment, sacked the Imo State governor, Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP and in his stead declared Senator Hope Uzodinma of the APC as the duly elected governor of the state.
Reacting to the judgment, the PDP described it as, “another very sad commentary on our nation’s democratic order”.
The party, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodinyan, said it found it difficult to understand how Senator Hope Uzodinma and the APC, who came a distant fourth in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo, with just 96,458 votes will suddenly, by the token of the judgment of the Supreme Court defeat Governor Ihedioha that scored 276,404 votes.
Later, at a Press Conference, addressed by the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, the party queried the validity of the judgment, pointing out that the 127,209 votes added to the votes of the APC candidate by the apex court could not be justified.
Secondus said the added votes of the APC candidate shot the total votes cast at the election above the number of accredited voters as contained in the record of the INEC.
According to him, while the INEC figure of accredited voters stood at 823,743, the apex court, through its judgment, shot the figure to 950,952, which the party said was in excess of accredited voters in the election. The party therefore asked for a reversal of the verdict.
Monday, January 20,2020, saw the Supreme Court uphold the election of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State. The court in a unanimous judgment by a seven-man justices led by Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, dismissed an appeal the candidate of the PDP, Abba Yusuf, filed to challenge the outcome of the last governorship election in the state.
Similarly, the Supreme Court, same day, affirmed Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP as the valid winner of the gubernatorial election in Sokoto State.
The court dismissed an appeal the candidate of the APC, Ahmed Aliyu filed to challenge Tambuwal’s victory.
Another case decided by the highest court of the land that same day was the governorship dispute in Plateau State. In that matter, the court ruled in favour of Governor Simon Lalong, affirming him as the duly elected governor of the state.
In a unanimous verdict handed down by a seven-man panel led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, the court dismissed the appeal which candidate of the PDP, Senator Jeremiah Useni filed to challenge the outcome of the gubernatorial coutest that held in the state on March 9, 2019.
Not least of all, Senator Bala Mohammed of the PDP also got the final affirmation of the Supreme Court as the lawfully elected helmsman of Bauchi State.
Next day, January 21, 2020, Governor Samuel Ortom and Ahmadu Fintiri of Benue and Adamawa States respectively had their electoral victories sealed by the Supreme Court.
Both governors who are members of the PDP had their returns as winners of the last gubernatorial elections in their states challenged up to the Supreme Court by the candidates of the APC in the states.
Same day, January 21, 2020, Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Chiji Collins defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), taking along with him nine other members of the house from PDP, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Action Alliance (AA).
In Abuja, same day, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) inaugurated two new Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC).
While Dr Johnson Alalibo, representing Bayelsa State was appointed to replace Frankland Briyai in Cross River State, Umar Gajiran from Borno State was sworn-in to take the place of his late compatriot, Baba Yusuf, in Taraba State.
An FCT High Court, on Thursday, January 23, 2020 turned down an experte application filed by the National Vice Chairman, North East of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Mustapha Salihu, the factional chairman of the APC in Edo State, Anselm Ojezua and others, seeking to compel Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to vacate office as National Chairman of the party.
The move to remove Oshiomhole as National Chairman was however frustrated when the court refused to grant the exparte motion and rather ordered that the Defendant (Oshiomhole, APC and others) be put on notice before the motion was heard so as to ensure fair hearing.
On Monday, January 27, 2020, deposed governor Emeka Ihedioha approached the Supreme Court for a review of its judgment of January 14 in which it declared Senator Hope Uzodinma of the APC as governor in Imo State.
The Civil Society Legialative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), on Tuesday, January 28, urged the National Assembly (NASS) to prioritise ammendment of the Electoral Reforms Act to promote credibility and transparency in the electoral process as the federal lawmakers resumed plenary for the year.
And on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, the National Assembly unanimously passed a vote of no confidence on the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian armed forces and all security services for their collective failure to curb the menace of insecurity across the country.
The Senate Majority Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, raised the motion titled: Nigerian Security Challenge: Urgent Need To Restructure, Review and Re-organise The Security Architecture.
The motion was supported by 105 other senators.

 

By: Opaka Dokubo

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Senate Sacks Ndume As Chief Whip  … Resign From Our Party – APC

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The Senate, last Wednesday, announced the removal of Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) as Chief Whip.
When put to voice vote by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, members of the APC Senate Caucus endorsed Ndume’s removal as Senate Chief Whip during plenary.
Senator Ndume was replaced by Senator Tahir Mungono (Borno North).
This comes amid his recent criticisms of President Bola Tinubu’s government.
In a letter addressed to the Senate Caucus by the national leadership of the ruling party, the APC asked Senator Ndume to resign his membership of the APC and join any opposition party of his choice.
The letter was signed by the party’s national chairman, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, and Secretary, Barrister Ajibola Bashiru.
The Tide’s source had reported how some loyalists of President Tinubu plotted to get Senator Ndume suspended.
Sources at the National Assembly told The Tide’s source that the pro-Tinubu Senators were planning to not just strip Senator Ndume of his position but equally suspend him like Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central).
Senator Ningi, also a ranking senator from the North, was suspended for three months in March this year, for granting an interview to the BBC Hausa service in which he alleged that N3.7 trillion in the national budget for the 2024 fiscal year was not tied to any projects or locations.
Senator Ndume had in an interview with newsmen at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja last week said, “Mr. President is not in the picture of what is happening outside the Villa. He has been fenced off and caged. So many of us won’t go through the backdoor to engage him.
“Now they have stopped him from talking and he doesn’t have public affairs managers, except his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, who writes press statements. Nigerians are getting very angry.
“The government is not doing anything about the food scarcity and it needs to do something urgently. We don’t have food reserve. There is unavailability of food. Food crisis is the worst crisis that any nation can encounter. If we add that to security crisis, it will be severe.”
But his submissions triggered series of reactions from the pro-Tinubu camp as Senator Sunday Karimi (Kogi West) and the ruling APC both knocked the Borno lawmaker, describing his statement as derogatory.
It was learnt that Senator Akpabio is in a fix, considering that Senator Ndume was the Director-General of the Stability Group which worked hard to make him President of the Senate in June 2023.
It was, however, hinted that some Northern senators were waiting for the cat to be let out of the bag during plenary before they would take a position.
A source said, “But of course, you know the Northern Senators will rise against another plan to destabilise their caucus, barely a few months after Ningi was suspended.”
However, some stakeholders from the North under the aegis of Concerned Northern Forum (CNF), in a statement on Tuesday signed by Mallam Abdulkadir Kura, said, “It is on record that Ndume is a critical stakeholder of the ruling APC, and a close ally of President Tinubu. Therefore, if he can take such a bold step in saying the truth about the economic and social reality on the ground, then the Southern Borno Senator need to be celebrated by all and sundry. So we stand by him.
“Ndume has spoken the minds of the average Nigerians who have been under serious economic hardship since the removal of the fuel subsidy and other anti-people policies of the present administration.
“This is not the first time Senator Ndume has criticised or challenged policies of the federal government. He consistently did so during the past administrations of Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari. Such criticisms led to positive changes by the listening governments at that time.”

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Court Reinstates Shuaibu As Edo Dep Gov

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has nullified the impeachment of Philip Shuaibu as Edo State Deputy Governor.
Justice James Omotosho, in a judgment on Wednesday, ordered his reinstatement to office on the ground that the Edo State House of Assembly did not follow due process in the purported impeachment.
Justice Omotosho held that the allegation on which the parliament based the impeachment proceedings was untenable in law and did not constitute gross misconduct.
The judge, therefore, ordered the Inspector General of Police to provide him with the security needed to enable him to resume office and perform the functions of the office until the end of his tenure.
Justice Omotosho equally set aside the appointment of another deputy governor in the place of Mr Shaibu.
Mr Shaibu, who was in court, broke down in tears following the judge’s pronouncements.
On April 8, the parliament impeached Mr Shaibu.
Mr Shaibu’s impeachment followed the adoption of the report of a seven-man committee set up by the Chief Judge of Edo State, Justice Daniel Okungbowa, to investigate allegations of misconduct against the deputy governor.
During plenary, the Majority Leader of the Assembly, Charity Aiguobarueghian, said the report of the seven-man judicial panel of inquiry presented to the parliament had two findings and one recommendation.
Mr Aiguobarueghian said that while the panel report could not establish the case of perjury levelled against the deputy governor, the panel found him guilty of disclosing government secrets.
According to the report, the seven-member judicial panel of inquiry recommended that the deputy governor be impeached for disclosure of government secrets.
The Clerk of the House, Yahaya Omogbai, conducted a head count of the lawmakers who voted for and against the impeachment of Mr Shaibu.
Eighteen out of 19 members at plenary voted for the deputy governor’s impeachment, while one abstained from the headcount and voting process.

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Alleged Fraud: Yahaya Bello Seeks Court’s Indefinite Adjournment

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Former Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has asked the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to adjourn the ongoing case instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) indefinitely.
Mr Bello also asked the court to vacate its arrest order on him, pending the determination of an appeal he filed at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
Mr Bello’s demands were stated in a letter by his counsel, Musa Yakubu. The letter was dated July 12 and addressed to the trial Judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, ahead of Mr Bello’s arraignment scheduled for Wednesday, July 17.
The erstwhile Kogi governor is being tried for laundering N80 billion. But, in his appeal against his trial, Mr Bello has expressed fears over his fate if the case proceeds.
In the Appellate case with file number CA/ABJ/CR/535/2024, Mr Bello is seeking to set aside the warrant of arrest he considers illegally issued against him on April 17, 2024. He also wants a return of the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge.
The appeal was filed against the decisions of the trial Federal High Court, Abuja Division, in case number FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024. The former governor is also seeking an order of the appellate court to set aside the service of the EFCC charge on him by substituted means, including the entire proceedings already conducted in the case.
In the letter, Mr Bello requested that further proceedings in the case be adjourned sine die, pending the determination of the appeal currently pending at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
A copy of the letter was also sent to the National Judicial Council in response to a letter to Justice Nwite by the EFCC, dated July 8, 2024 and filed on July 10, 2024.
In the said letter, the EFCC requested a variation of the earlier warrant of arrest issued against Mr Bello, additionally requesting that the various security agencies be specifically directed to carry out the earlier order of arrest.
Responding to the EFCC’s application, Mr Bello’s counsel urged the court to decline the request and await the outcome of the appeal pending at the appellate court over the said warrant of arrest and other related pronouncements of the trial court.
Mr Bello’s counsel made reference to the position of the law as contained in Order 4 Rule 11(1) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2021 and the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the case of Vab Petroleum INC V. Momah (Supra), and a litany of other cases.

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