President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he did not order the Senate to remove the contentious Section 84 (12) from the amended Electoral Act 2022.
Contrary to the claims of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a suit instituted against him and 12 others on the Electoral Act, Buhari said that he only expressed reservations and concerns in respect of the aspect of the Electoral Act.
The president’s position was contained in a counter affidavit filed at the Federal High Court at the instance of the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
In the joint counter affidavit by Buhari and Malami to debunk PDP’S claims in the suit, the AGF explained that Buhari on February 25, 2022 gave proper, full and unconditional assent to the amended Electoral Act.
The counter affidavit by the President and Malami was filed on their authority by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Oladipupo Okpeseyi and deposed to by Abimbola Akintola, a legal practitioner.
Buhari and Malami averred that the claims of PDP in its suit against them on the Electoral Act are totally false and replete with gross untruths aimed at misleading the court to give judgement against them.
The counter affidavit read in part, “The assent of the 1st defendant (Buhari) to the Electoral Bill given on February 25, 2022 was proper, full and unconditional.
“The 1st defendant (Buhari) assented to the Electoral Bill 2022 on February 25 but did not give conditions or directives to the National Assembly in the manner erroneously deposed to by the plaintiff (PDP).
“At no time did the 1st defendant (Buhari) give any directive to the management or leadership of the National Assembly as regards the removal of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022; from the Act.
“Prior to assenting to the Electoral Bill 2022, the 1st defendant (Buhari) merely expressed his observations and concerns about the constraints of Section 84 (12) of the Bill on serving public office holders and political appointees but gave his assent to avoid further delay as time was of essence.
“That the 1st defendant (Buhari) merely expressed his views not only to the National Assembly but to the entire nation as regards the inconsistency of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act with other provisions of the Constitution.
“On March 8, 2022, 1st defendant (Buhari) officially wrote the Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker to express his concerns about Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act and formally requested for amendment to be effected on the section so as to eliminate areas of infarction with the Constitution.
“I’m aware that the National Assembly neither accepted nor acted on the opinion or suggestion of Buhari.
“In this instance, 1st and 2nd defendant, (Buhari and Malami) truly and firmly believe that Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act disenfranchises and discriminates against Nigerians in public service or public office holders who are political appointees and prevent them from engaging in the electoral process in exercise of their inalienable rights in a participatory democracy.
“That Buhari and Malami have never taken it upon themselves to declare Section 84 (12) or any provisions of the Electoral Act unconstitutional as such is beyond their constitutional power”.
Besides, Buhari and Malami claimed that a Federal High Court in Abia State had in March through a judgement by Justice Evelyn Anyadike struck down the section, and ordered that it be deleted forthwith for being inconsistent with the Constitution.
The two defendants said that both the National Assembly and PDP have since appealed the judgement, adding that it was only the Court of Appeal that can restore the section into the Electoral Act and not any high court.
Insisting that the PDP suit has become academic and constituted abuse of court process on the strength of the pending Court of Appeal matter, Buhari and Malami asked the court to dismiss the PDP suit.
They argued that PDP should not be allowed to take over the functions of the National Assembly since it has no power to amend or enact law.
Buhari and Malami also averred that PDP has nothing to suffer if the contentious section was deleted, adding that removing the section would deepen the practice of democracy and stop discrimination against public servants and public office holders.
Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had on March 7 stopped Buhari, AGF and Senate President from tampering with the newly amended Electoral Act 2022.
The judge in a ruling on an ex-parte application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agreed that the Electoral Act having been assented to by Buhari has become a valid law and cannot be tampered with without following due process of law.
Ekwo agreed with Chief James Ogwu Onoja, SAN, counsel to PDP, that the proper place to challenge the validity of any existing law or the Electoral Act is a court of competent jurisdiction.
Specifically, the court had restrained all the defendants in the suit from removing Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act or preventing It from being implemented for the purpose of the 2023 general election.
Meanwhile, hearing in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 247/2022 has been fixed for May 16 by Ekwo.
Nigeria’s GDP Grew By 3.11% In Q1 2022, NBS Affirms
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.11per cent in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS made this known via its Nigerian Gross Domestic Product Report Q1 2022 released, last Monday.
According to the report, Nigeria’s GDP grew by 3.11per cent year-on-year in real terms in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS noted that the development showed a sustained positive growth for six consecutive quarters since the recession witnessed in 2020 when negative growth rates were recorded in quarter two and three of 2020.
It added that the first quarter 2022 growth rate further represents an improvement in economic performance.
The NBS stated: “The observed trend since Q4 of 2020 is an indication of a gradual economic stability.
“The Q1 of 2022 growth rate was higher than the 0.51per cent growth rate recorded in Q1 of 2021 by 2.60per cent points and lower than 3.98per cent recorded in Q4 of 2021 by 0.88per cent points.
“Nevertheless, quarter-on-quarter, real GDP grew at -14.66per cent in Q1 of 2022, compared to Q4 of 2021, reflecting a lower economic activity than the preceding quarter.
“In the period under review, aggregate GDP stood at about N45.317million in nominal terms.
“This performance is higher when compared to the first quarter of 2021 which recorded aggregate GDP of about N40.014million, indicating a year-on-year nominal growth rate of 13.25per cent.
“The nominal GDP growth rate in Q1 2022 was higher relative to the 12.25per cent growth recorded in Q1 2021, and higher compared to the 13.11per cent growth recorded in the preceding quarter,” the report read.
RSG Launches RIV-CARES Programme …World Bank Rates Rivers High
The Rivers State Government has launched the state COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike performed the launching at the NBA Secretariat in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Speaking through his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said the programme was to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable households and support micro and small-scale enterprises as a means of stimulating economic growth post-COVID.
According to the State Chief Executive, “the state government had signed in for the programme, made provisions in the 2022 Budget for Result Areas and signed Funds Release Policy, which is an assurance to the World Bank that funds shall be released for the implementation of the programme”.
Wike said the launching of the RIV-CARES Programme would create awareness for the people of the state and engender expression of interest by beneficiary households, communities and operators of micro and small businesses (SMEs).
The governor, who encouraged the Rivers people to take advantage of the opportunities provided by RIV-CARES to enhance their means of livelihood and reduce the spate of poverty in the communities, commended the World Bank and the Federal CARES for their support to the state.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs. Titilola Kuna Cline, said in a bid to check the negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods, food security and micro and small businesses, the World Bank in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the state governments, introduced the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) Programme.
She said the state scaled through rigorous preparatory stages and qualified to participate in the programme whose objective was “to expand access to livelihood support and food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms”.
According to her, the stages include, signing of subsidiary loan agreement and fund release policy by the government.
Others include the establishment of the RIV-CARES Steering Committee, establishment of State- CARES Coordination Unit domiciled in the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning and preparation of work plan.
“The NG-CARES, after domestication of programme implementation manual now known as RIV-CARES programme has the State Coordination Unit (SCU) saddled with coordinating implementation of RIV-CARES programme in the state and reporting to Federal-CARES supporting unit and the World Bank in Abuja.
“It is also a bridge between the delivery platforms and the State-CARES Steering Committee and for delivery platform under three Results Areas (RA1-3).
Cline listed the three areas to include cash transfer unit, labour intensive public works and community-driven development social (CDD-S) Plus.
The rest are, FADAMA and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Also speaking, the representative of the World Bank, Mr. Aso Vakporaye, said the programme must succeed in order to kick out poverty from the state in view of the fact that failure to kick out poverty would make life difficult for the entire citizenry.
He, therefore, thanked the governor for making it possible for Rivers State to participate in the programme.
Similarly, the World Bank and the Federal Government have rated Rivers State high in the implementation of the COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus scheme by the state government.
Representative of the World Bank Task Team Leader, Mr.Aso Vakporaye said this, yesterday, in Port Harcourt at the official flag offand implementation of the Rivers State COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme in the state.
Vakporaye, who is also the chairman of the Federal Government’sFederal-CARES Technician Committee,confirmed that Rivers State has met the requirements for the implementation of the programme.
He said alot still remains to be done,adding that the state needs to release more money for the implementation of the programme.
Also speaking, theTechnical Head of State CARESCoordinating Unitand Secretary,RIV-CARESSteering Committee,Mrs Imaonyeni Ephraim, said the programme would improve the livelihood of the poor and vulnerable people in the state.
She said the programme, which runs for two years,was open to many beneficiaries.
The flag off was performed by the state Deputy Governor,Dr.Ipalibo Harry Banigo, onbehalf of Governor Nyesom Wike.
By: John Bibor
PDP Elects Senatorial Candidates For 2023 Elections
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Rivers State, last Monday, held its primary election to elect candidates who will fly its flags for the Senatorial election in 2023.
The election, which took place at the three senatorial headquarters of the state, saw the emergence of the state Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, as the candidate for Rivers West Senatorial District, Chief Allwell Onyesoh won the primaries for Rivers East Senatorial District while Senator Barinaada Mpigi secured a return ticket to represent Rivers South East Senatorial District.
Speaking before the deployment of electoral officers and materials for the election, the state PDP Chairman, Amb Desmond Akawor, welcomed members of the electoral committee from the PDP National Headquarters, and briefed them on the successes so far recorded in the state House of Assembly and House of Representatives primaries.
Akawor said though some form of consensus had been reached concerning the senatorial aspirants, the party would still observe due diligence by ensuring that proper primary election was conducted at the three senatorial district headquarters, urging the electoral officers to be discrete in handling their assignment.
Chairman of the PDP Electoral Committee for the Senatorial Primary, Hon Donatus Etim, commended Governor Nyesom Wike for the enormous work done in strengthening the electoral process in the state, thereby making it possible for successful primaries to be held in the state.
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