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Election: Stop Politicising 25% Requirement In FCT, Lawyer Counsels Colleagues

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A renowned constitutional lawyer, Dr Olukayode Ajulo, has counselled lawyers in the country to be wary of politicising the issue of obtaining 25  per cent in FCT as a requirement to win the Presidential election.
Ajulo stated this while exchanging views with newsmen yesterday in Abuja against the backdrop of some lawyers insisting that securing 25 per cent of votes in FCT was necessary to secure victory for any presidential candidate.
The Tide source recalls that only Mr Peter Obi, the candidate of Labour Party secured 25 per cent in FCT in the February 25 General Elections, while the President-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu, the APC candidate, scored 20 per cent
This has generated a lot of comments and reactions from legal practitioners, while some insist on the 25 per cent, others said the FCT should be treated as a state.
Ajulo, however, said  politics had been mixed with law in order to please certain quarters of the political class, adding that it was a dangerous mix.
Ajulo said “there is politics, and there is law and while they can sometimes intersect, they should not be muddled up when discussing pertinent legal issues.”
He said such legal issues had the potential of affecting the nationhood of the country and the collective development of her citizens.
He stated that it was disturbing the way some of his professional colleagues analysed issues of 25 per cent requirement, saying some of the comments were uncomfortable and a gross misinterpretation.
“Some lawyers give certain legal opinions they do not even believe in because of politics, it is the common man on the streets that suffers this dangerous game of deliberate misinterpretation of our laws”, he said.
Ajulo said the deliberate misinterpretation of some lawyers was a mockery of the nation’s constitution and the legal profession, adding that such had a way of turning to hunt its makers.
He reiterated that it was imperative to set the record straight amidst the brouhaha surrounding the interpretation of section 134(2) of the Constitution and the multifarious explanations by public commentators and senior lawyers.
He further said that there was need to state the true position of the law, devoid of emotion and political sentiments.
“There are two opposing sides in the arguments,  those who argue that for a candidate to be declared winner, he must get 25 per cent of the votes cast in FCT asides meeting other constitutional criteria.
“Also, there are those who contend that a candidate needs not poll 25 per cent  of the votes cast in FCT to be declared winner, so far as he meets other constitutional requirements”, he noted.
“Candidate for an election to the office of the President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election.
“First, he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and secondly he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the Federation and the FCT”, he pointed out.
According to him, even though the FCT is not a state, the Constitution has clothed it with the toga of a State and all the powers of a Governor in a State is vested in the Minister of the FCT.
He said, while the Houses of Assembly of the 36 States of the Federation legislate for each State respectively, the National Assembly makes laws for the FCT.
He further said that while the States had their respective Local Government Areas, the FCT also has Area Councils.
The constitutional lawyer said, “ a reasonable, just and sensible interpretation of section 134(2) would then be that scoring 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT is like scoring 25 per cent in any other State of the federation.”

 

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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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