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Judge Fixes May 24 For Suit On Electoral Act 

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Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has adjourned to May 24 for definite hearing in a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to stop the National Assembly from deleting the controversial Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The judge adjourned hearing in the matter to enable parties to address him on the effect of the recent Court of Appeal’s judgment on the contentious section.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had, last week, voided the judgment of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, which directed the Federal Government to delete the said section for being unconstitutional.
The appellate court in its unanimous judgment held that Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court in Umuahia did not have the necessary jurisdiction to make such an order because the plaintiff who brought the case did not have the locus to file the case in the first place.
The Appeal Court, however, after setting aside the judgment of the lower court, delved into the merit of the case and came to the conclusion that the said Section 84 (12) was unconstitutional because it infringes on the fundamental rights of a class of persons (political appointees).
Based on this decision, Justice Ekwo at the resumed hearing of the case asked the plaintiff represented by Joseph Daudu, SAN, if the court can still proceed with the matter.
Daudu, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, answered in the affirmative, explaining that there is no issue of fundamental rights before the court.
The PDP’s case was aimed at stopping the National Assembly from tampering with the Electoral Act, 2022, as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The president had, while assenting to the amended bill, written the lawmakers to delete Section 84 (12) from the Electoral Act, 2022 for being anti-democratic.
But the PDP in the suit, is challenging the legality of the National Assembly to delete provisions of the law without recourse to the court.
In responding to Justice Ekwo’s questions, Daudu stated that the appellate court in its judgment held that Section 84 (12) contravened Section 42 (1)(a) of the Constitution which has to do with the fundamental rights of certain class of citizens, adding that fundamental rights issue was not among the issues before the court, hence the court can proceed.
He also clarified that the appellate court in the judgment also held that the Section 84 (12) did not violate the provisions of the Constitution on requirements for qualification and disqualification as the said portions of the Constitution concerns Public Servants of whom the appellate court held is quite distinct from political appointees.
The senior lawyer also informed the court that the judgment of Justice Anyadike was set aside because the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit in the first place.
However, Mr Oladipupo Okpeseyi, SAN, who represented President Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation, told the court that there is no difference between the suit before him and the one of the Federal High Court, Umuahia which the Appeal Court has already passed its verdict.
The appellant at the Court of Appeal is the same plaintiff here,” he said.
Responding, Justice Ekwo advised the PDP to take a second look at its process and fixed May 24, for hearing.
Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act bars all political appointees from participating in the congresses and conventions of political parties unless they resign 30 days earlier.

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NDLEA Arrests 774 Suspects, Seizes 3,874.3kgs Of Drugs In Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau

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NDLEA arrested 774 suspects and seized 3,874.3kgs of various narcotics and psychotropic substances in Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau State in the first half of 2022.
The three states make the Zone D of the narcotics agency.
Zonal Commander in the zone Umoru Ambrose, said this in Lafia yesterday while marking the 2022 UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
He said 134 drug suspects were prosecuted during the period, while 378 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated.
He added that states in the zone had intensified their operations in the War against Drug Abuse and sensitisation.
Ambrose called on all stakeholders to get involved in curbing drugs menace in the zone.
In his remarks, NDLEA Commander in Nasarawa State, Peter Odaudu, said the celebrations underscored the need for access to proper treatment for people with drug disorders.
He stressed that the war against drugs must be intensified in Nasarawa State especially given its position as the second highest drug prevalence state in the North Central after Kwara.
“Statistics from the 2018 drug survey showed a very alarming trend, the involvement of females in drug issues.
“We have at least one female out of every four drug users; this development is worrisome and must be reversed,’’ he said.
Odaudu thanked Nasarawa State’s Governor Abdullahi Sule for his support for the NDLEA and solicited urgent intervention in the provision of operational vehicles and the construction of a rehabilitation centre.
Guest speaker, Mr Nwora Okpalaeke, who is coordinator of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria in Nasarawa State, said 494,000 users died of drug abuse in 2019.
He spoke on “Illicit Drugs in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’’
He said drug abusers suffered liver cirrhosis, stroke, hepatitis, kidney and heart failure, noting that 14.3 million Nigerians are drug addicts, while three million are suffering from drug-related disorders.
“Government should strengthen the system to prevent proliferation of drugs and pay attention to agencies charged with reversing the situation.
“Drug abuse affects economic growth; the higher the abuse the higher the level of insecurity and poverty,’’ he said.
Senior Special Assistant on Primary Healthcare to Governor Sule, Margaret Elayo, commended the NDLEA in the state and assured of partnership to curb drug abuse in Nasarawa State.
The theme for this year’s celebration of the Day is: “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’

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NDLEA Arrests 218 Suspects, Seizes 1,471.314kg Of Drugs In Imo

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The Imo State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested 218 drug suspects made up of 171 males and 47 females.
The agency has also seized 1,471.314kg of drugs between July 2021 and June 2022.
The state commandant, NDLEA, Mr. Reuben Apeh, disclosed this while speaking to The Tide ahead of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drugs Trafficking.
He said that 1,458.49kg of Cannabis Sativa, 1,0513kg of cocaine, 0.2077kg of Heroine, 3.896kg of Methamphetamine and 3.184kg of Tramadol were exhibits seized within the period under review.
Apeh disclosed further that cannabis farm in hectares was also destroyed in Imo State while 0.5278kg of Rohypnol and 2.5135kg of diazepam were among the seized exhibits.
He stated that some of the arrested suspects had been arraigned and convicted for drug related offences at the Federal High Court.
According to him, “Within the period covered, 51 were convicted and 145 were charged and their cases are still on going”.
Apeh described the drug situation in Imo State as worrisome, saying women have joined the illicit trade for financial gains.
He lamented that drug peddling was alarming among the younger generation in the state.
He, therefore, called on the stakeholders to partner with NDLEA to sensitize the society on the dangers of drug abuse.

By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri

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NDE Trains 750 Youths On Apprenticeship Skills In Imo

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The National Directorate for Employment (NDE) has commenced the training of 750 youths on various apprenticeship skills in Imo State.
Director-General of the NDE, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu-Fikpo, made this known while flagging off the training programme in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The Tide reports that the training is captured under the Advanced National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (A-NOAS) and Basic National Apprenticeship Scheme (B-NOAS) of the Directorate’s Department of Vocational Skills Development (VSD).
The training skills include barbing, basic tailoring, hairdressing, welding, event planning, make- up, confectionery and auto mechanic, among others.
Nuhu-Fikpo, represented by the State Coordinator of the NDE in Imo State, Mrs Ngozi Ihenacho, explained that the trainees include youths and women drawn from the 27 local government areas of the state.
According to him, the intensive training programme will take place in the Directorate’s training centres, one in each senatorial district of the state, and last for three months.
He urged the trainees to utilise the opportunity provided by the training programme to acquire viable skills that would enable them become self-reliant, and thereby decongest the labour market, and reduce poverty and hunger.
“In today’s world, opportunities such as these are rare and hardly come on a platter and I  urge you, my dear beneficiaries, to take this opportunity serious, be punctual at the training venue with the aim of liberating yourselves from the chains of poverty and unemployment”, he advised.
Also speaking at the programme, Director of the VSD, Mallam Isa Abdu, explained that the training scheme would run simultaneously, with the beneficiaries receiving transport allowances for the duration of training.
Abdu, represented by a senior staff in VSD, Mr Onyekwelu Igwesi, said that expert trainers had been hired to conduct the training and urged the trainees to justify the opportunity given them to become employers of labour.
“All over the world, as the value of money depreciates, entrepreneurs are adjusting with the times, hence the need for viable skills that can drive the economy. Learn the skills and be your own boss”, he said.
One of the trainees, Miss Oluchi Uchenna, who responded on behalf of his colleagues, thanked the NDE for creating the opportunity for them to thrive in their quest to become economically independent.

By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri

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