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Biafra: Group to honour Kanu for “restructuring” Nigeria

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The Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA), a pro-Igbo and restructuring group, on Friday, announced plans to honour the leader of the recently outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in October.

A statement made available to Saturday Telegraph in Enugu and signed by Chief Mrs. Maria Okwor, Deputy Leader, ECA and also the leader of Igbo Women Assembly (IWA), noted that Kanu will be honoured at a presentation of a book titled “How Nnamdi Kanu Restructured Nigeria”.

Mrs. Okwor stated that the book produced by the ECA, documents the travails, the journey and frustrations in the spirited attempt by good
men and women to save Nigeria from collapse, through a holistic restructuring of the policy back to true federalism and regional autonomy.

“The book reveals how Nigeria is crippled by an over-powerful centre, prebendalism, unitary structure, ethnic divisions, corruption and
ill-fitting military constitution. The book also recalls the struggles by Late Anthony Enahoro, Late Abraham Adesanya, Late Rotimi Williams,
and Late Tunji Braithwaite etc. to reconstruct and redesign Nigeria through a wholesome restructuring of the polity that will throw up a new people’s constitution that would be affirmed at a referendum.

“The book exposes the reasons why enemies of progress have consistently killed reports of past National Conferences, just so they could continue to hold Nigerians hostage and deny the people opportunity to take back their country from the vicious cabal that believes they are born to rule and dominate others forever.

“Kanu is being honoured for achieving under two years the restructuring of Nigeria, something that seemed impossible just two years ago,” ECA deputy leader stated.

She stressed that as every group and government has set up their own committee on restructuring, going round organizing public hearings/sittings, the unborn generations of Nigeria will forever remain grateful to Nnamdi Kanu for moving the restructuring agenda
from the realm of speculation into reality, something he achieved at great sacrifice.

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Buhari removes Oyo-ita, names new HoS

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Buhari removes Oyo-ita, names new HoS

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Dr. Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan as the Acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation with immediate effect.
In a statement signed by Mr. Willie Bassey, Director Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita has been directed to proceed on an indefinite leave to allow conclusion of the investigation being carried out by EFCC.
Yemi-Esan, until her appointment was the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The President has also approved the extension of the tenure of seven retiring Permanent Secretaries for one year with effect from October 1, 2019.
The statement said the Permanent Secretaries were given an extension to ensure stability in the Federal Civil Service and effective delivery on the nine priority areas of the administration as well as the mandates given to the new Ministers.
The affected Permanent Secretaries are Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, Ministry of Interior; Mrs Ifeoma I. Anagbogu, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs; Mrs Grace Gekpe, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; and Dr Umar M. Bello, Federal Ministry of Agriculture Rural Development.
Others are Suleiman Mustapha Lawal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mrs. Comfort C. Ekaro – Federal Ministry of Water Resources; and Mr Olusegun A. Adekunle, General Services Office (Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation).
“The action of Mr. President is in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 171 (2) d of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended,” the statement said.

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Reps honour Air Peace Chairman, Onyema

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Reps honour Air Peace Chairman, Onyema

The House of Representatives has decided to honour the Chairman Air Peace Airlines, Allen Onyema for his patriotism.

The Chairman was invited to appear before to the House on Wednesday in recognition of his magnanimous decision to put his planes for use to evacuate Nigerians who wanted to leave South Africa following the recent xenophobic attacks in that country.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said that the House is honouring Onyema for the level of his patriotism.

According to the Speaker, as at the present moment Onyema has lifted over 498 Nigerians from South Africa, and his planes have returned to South h Africa to airlift more retunees.

He said it was a rare show of patriotism and that the House will recommend him to the federal Government for further honour.

Speaking on his motivation for the gesture, Onyema said his decision was spontaneous, and was to mitigate the hardship being faced by Nigerians in South Africa.

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Just in: Niger Tribunal upholds Gov Bello’s election

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Just in: Niger Tribunal upholds Gov Bello’s election

The Niger State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday upheld the election of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State and dismissed the petitions of the PDP and its candidate Umar Nasko for lacking in merit.

On the allegation by the petitioners that the governorship election in 2019 was marred by intimidation, violence, vote buying among other act of irregularities, the Tribunal said the petitions are bereft of evidences and was bound to fail on arrival.

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Army Court Martials General over missing N400m

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Army Court Martials General over missing N400m

The Nigerian Army Tuesday arraigned a former General Officer Commanding, GOC 8 Division, Sokoto, Major General Hakeem Otiki, before a General Court Martial (GCM) sitting in Abuja, over alleged diversion of N400million.

The GCM, which is sitting at the Nigerian Army Officers’ Mess, Asokoro, is headed by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun.

New Telegraph recalls that five soldiers on escort duty from Sokoto to Kaduna were alleged to have absconded with the huge cash, leading to the arrest and detention of the embattled GOC.

It was learnt that the convening order for the constitution of the GCM, may have been issued by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai.

Details later…

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Xenophobia: We’re sorry, S’Africa begs Nigerians

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Xenophobia: We’re sorry, S’Africa begs Nigerians

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has apologised to Nigerians over recent xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in his country.

President Ramaphosa’s apology was conveyed through his special envoy, Jeff Radebe, who met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday.

Radebe, at a joint press conference, said: “The president has deemed it appropriate to send us to meet with the Nigerian leader.

“Our young people must believe in the future of Africa. All of us must play our parts to ensure that this incidence does not happen again.

“We met a short while ago with His Excellency, President Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to convey our President, Ramaphosa’s sincerest apologies about the incident that have recently transpired in South Africa.

“Those incidents do not represent what we stand for as a constitutional democracy in South Africa and the president has apologised for these incidents. He has also instructed law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned that all those involved must be brought to book, so that the rule of law must prevail in South Africa.”

The presidential envoy continued: “He also conveyed his belief that both Nigeria and South Africa must continue to play a critical role in the rebuilding of Africa to attain the agenda 2063, the Africa that we want.

“We also recall with fond memories the historical times that existed between Nigeria and South Africa during the dark days of apartheid; we always knew that the Nigerian people and their government always stood behind our leaders who were fighting against the obnoxious system of apartheid.

“Even, Nigerian families contributed to make sure that apartheid was ended and even though Nigeria is far from South Africa, it was regarded as the frontline state because of the principled stand that all leaders of Nigeria made to end the system of apartheid.

“We also remember, among others, President Murtala Mohammed, who played a key role and, of course, the founding father of the Nigerian nation, President Nnamdi Azikiwe.

“So, we believe that the crisis, as the minister has just described, must serve as an opportunity for us to make sure that the level of unemployment, poverty and inequality in Africa is attended to by our leaders.

“We also expressed the president’s wish that when His Excellency, President Buhari pays his state visit to South Africa on the 3rd of October, the bi-mission commission that exists between the two governments that has now been elevated to the heads of states level, will serve as a forum to address all those issues of mutual concern about South Africa and Nigeria.

“I’m very happy to have been here to convey this message to President Buhari and leave with very good information that President Buhari has given to us to take back to President Ramaphosa.”

 

On Nigeria’s insistence on compensation to victims of the attacks, Radebe said: “During President Buhari’s state visit to South Africa, there will be detailed discussions, which will be held there. I do understand that the issue of compensation or restitution is part of the agenda in the draft the Nigerian government has presented to South Africa. So, I think we should wait until October 3rd to see how that unfolds.

“But I can indicate, as a lawyer, that the South African laws require that all registered companies must have public insurance in terms of things of this nature. But, like I said, that meeting will just be held.”

On the apprehended attackers of foreign nationals in the country, the South African special envoy said: “The law enforcement agencies are working day and night to apprehend all those involved in this unfortunate incidents. I’m told that over 50 people have been arrested thus far. I think we should wait until the whole issue has been resolved. It is a security cluster led by the Minister of Defence, as well as the Minister of Police, that are working round the clock to ensure that all those that are alleged to be involved in these incidents are brought to book.”

Commenting on why it took South Africa so long to take this step since xenophobia is not a recent development, Radebe said: “This incident has been happening from time to time, but I recall that it always coincided with economic tough times in our country. As you know, we are still emerging from the system of apartheid, where, according to statistics, the last unemployment rate in South Africa was around 29 per cent.

“It seems to us that some of these incidents occur in areas where there is poverty, unemployment and fight for scarce resources. But having said that, no amount of hunger or hardship justifies the looting of property and killing of people, whether they are South Africans or foreigners. We regard that as an act of criminality.”

The South African envoy, meanwhile, noted that the economy of the country was currently being impacted as a result of those attacks.

“Obviously, there is an impact of this event on the economy and that is why the president, at his level, deemed it necessary to send us as special envoy, so that we take appropriate steps and measures to deal with these incidents.

“At the end of the day, we believe that the ‘Agenda 2063, the Africa we want,’ is one that will help not only South Africa, but the whole of Africa, to unite around that common agenda of ensuring that our people, especially young people, must believe that the future of Africa is bright.

“So, it is the responsibility, therefore, not only of governments of Nigeria and South Africa, but of ordinary citizens, to play their parts in ensuring that these incidents do not reoccur.”

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the press conference, however, cleared the air on whether the Nigerian ambassador to South Africa has been recalled.

Onyeama told the gathering that the diplomat “has not been recalled, but has been asked to just come and give a comprehensive picture of events there to Mr. President.”

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, in a statement, said Buhari reminded the South African team on the roles played by Nigeria in engendering majority rule in South Africa and ending the apartheid segregationist policy.

He disclosed that during the closed door meeting, President Buhari recounted that he was a junior military officer to Generals Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo, who were military heads of state at different times in the mid to late 1970s.

According to Buhari, “Going back to historical antecedents, we made great sacrifices for South Africa to become a free state. I was a junior officer to Gen. Murtala Muhammad and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. They were not operating in a democracy, but they got Nigerians to support them in the bid to see a free South Africa.

“Our leadership was quite committed to the cause. We made sacrifices, which younger people of today may not know. During my last visit to South Africa with the late President Robert Mugabe, it was very emotional, as Mugabe spoke about Nigeria’s contribution to free South Africa.”

Buhari extended appreciation to President Ramaphosa, through the special envoy “for coming to explain to us what happened in South Africa recently, leading to the killing and displacement of foreigners.”

Buhari, in response to the profuse apologies from the South African President, pledged that the relationship, which exists between the two countries “will be solidified,” while describing the xenophobic attacks as “very unfortunate.”

Radebe, the statement further said, apologised on behalf of his president for what he described as “acts of criminality and violence” that recently occurred, adding that “such do not represent our value system or those of the larger number of South Africans.”

The special envoy disclosed that 10 people died during the attacks – two Zimbabweans and eight South Africans. He said there was no Nigerian casualty.

He added that South Africa remains eternally grateful for the role Nigeria played in ending apartheid and hoped that the coming visit of the Nigerian president would solidify relationship between the two countries.

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Minimum wage: Again, strike looms as talks end in deadlock

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Minimum wage: Again, strike looms as talks end in deadlock

There are indications that workers under the auspices of the Joint National Public Sector Negotiating Council (JPSNC), might embark on strike over  delayed implementation of minimum wage.

A meeting between the Federal Government and the Joint Public Sector Negotiating Council (JPSNC), has once again ended in deadlock.

Negotiations on the consequential adjustment, which was earlier adjourned to September 4 to allow the government team brief President Muhammadu Buhari and later rescheduled for September 16, yesterday suffered another setback. Both  parties failed to reach an agreement despite minor adjustments in their separate positions.

During the meeting, which was chaired by the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, government shifted from its earlier position of 9.5 per cent to 11 per cent for grade levels seven to 14 and 6.5 per cent from 5.5 per cent for levels 15 to 17.

But the workers insisted that government should adjust the salaries of workers on grade levels 07 to 14 by 30 per cent and those on levels 15 to 17 by 25 per cent, having stepped down to 29 from 30 per cent for grade levels 7 to 14 and 24 from 25 per cent for levels 15 to 17.

Expressing dismay over the turn of events, the Chairman of the Labour team and National Auditor of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Simon Anchaver, who accused the government team of toying with workers, said the JNPSNC has resolved to write to the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress, (TUC) on their advice on a possible industrial action.

According to him, government’s action was an open invitation for industrial action, since workers were already engulfed in fear and agitations whether their accumulated arrears would be paid when talks were finally concluded.

He, however, said that the meeting decided that the two positions be presented to the President for further action.

Secretary of the JNPSNC, Slade Lawal, who noted that organised labour would decide on a next line of action towards the issue of the minimum wage, maintained that in due time, Nigerians would be informed on the next step to take.

In his words: “The meeting is deadlocked; we found out that the Federal Government officials are not serious about it at all. We  are suspecting foul play or a hidden agenda somewhere. So, we have decided to report the development to our principals, including the Labour unions. Nigerians will be adequately briefed of our next line of action very shortly.”

New Telegraph recalls that recently, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said President Buhari has directed that a deadline be fixed to conclude the process of negotiations as soon as possible to ensure immediate implementation of the new wage for workers to enjoy.

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Shell deploys cameras to check oil thieves, vandals

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Shell deploys cameras to check oil thieves, vandals

Oil super major, Royal Dutch Shell, has deployed state-of-the-art high definition (HD) cameras against oil thieves and pipeline vandals who reportedly stole 4.015 million barrels from its Nigeria’s multibillion dollars assets in 2018.

The cameras, Shell announced through its subsidiary in Nigeria, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), would also help in quick detection of and response to crude oil spills from its facilities in addition to tracking vandalism of SPDC joint venture assets.

SPDC’s General Manager, Igo Weli, who declared this at a media workshop for journalists in Warri, Delta State, noted that the “cameras are attached to specialised helicopters which carry out daily over flight over our facilities.”

This measure, he said, had improved “the surveillance of our Joint Venture assets.”

In addition, Weli said, SPDC had implemented anti-theft protection mechanisms on key infrastructure, such as wellheads and manifolds to stem constant attacks from vandals and thereby prevent and minimise sabotage-related spills.

According to him, the daily loss of over 11,000 barrels of oil per day in 2018 and the threat to the integrity of the joint venture assets necessitated the multi-pronged approach to protecting what he called ‘critical national assets.’

He said: “We collaborate with community leaders, traditional rulers, civil societies and state governments in the Niger Delta to implement several initiatives and partnerships to raise awareness on the negative impact of crude oil theft and illegal oil refining. Such public enlightenment programmes on the negative impacts to people and the environment help to build greater trust in spill response and clean-up processes.”

Weli noted that SPDC would sustain its air and ground surveillance to complement the efforts of government security forces in checking crude theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal refining.

“But for the efforts of Operation Delta Safe in protecting critical oil and gas assets, the situation would have gone beyond control,” Weli said, calling on the Operation Delta Safe, a special oil and gas asset protection force, and other government security forces to intensify their activities around oil and gas facilities.

Also speaking at the workshop, SPDC’s General Manager, Safety and Environment, Chidube Nnene-Anochie, noted that the majority of spill incidents on SPDC pipelines were as a result of sabotage.

“We are burdened by the continuous increase in cases of sabotage and theft. Oil spills due to theft and sabotage of facilities, as well as illegal refining, cause the most environmental damage from oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta,” he said.

According to Nnene-Anochie, SPDC removed more than 1,160 illegal theft points from its pipelines between 2012 and end of 2018, adding that the attendant spills from the theft points were sometimes made worse by challenges of access to the incident sites to investigate and stop leaks.

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Dethroned Emir emerges PDP Deputy Chairman in Zamfara

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Dethroned Emir emerges PDP Deputy Chairman in Zamfara

Former Emir of Bakura in Zamfara, Alhaji Hassan Marafa has emerged as the Deputy Chairman of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Marafa emerged during the party’s state congress held in Gusau yesterday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Marafa was appointed Emir of Bakura in 2010 by former governor, Aliyu Mamuda, but was removed by the immediate past governor, Abdulaziz Yari who replaced him with the current Emir, Alhaji Bello Sani.

Marafa would now deputise for the chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Mallaha who was re-elected for second term during the state congress of the party, supervised by the former Niger State governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu.

Alhaji Hamisu Modomawa emerged as the state secretary of the party while the party’s former Woman Leader, Hajiya Ai Maradun, was elected Vice-Chairman, Zamfara West.

Other leaders that emerged during the congress include Alhaji Sani Sada, Vice-Chairman (North); Alhaji Isa Maigemu, Vice-Chairman (Central) and Alhaji Sule Anka as Auditor.

Speaking at the end of the congress, Aliyu expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the delegates and charged members of the party to support the state executives in the discharge of their duties.

Aliyu urged them to resolve contentious issues amicably whenever they arise.

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Politics

AGF to judges: Be credible in your judgements

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AGF to judges: Be credible in your judgements

116,623 cases pending before Federal High Court

Body of SAN makes case for specialised courts

NBA: Judiciary independence under threat

 

 

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), yesterday, told judges to be credible in all their judgements and rulings.

This, he said, will ensure that the sacred integrity reposed in the courts remain unshaken at all times in order to foster and promote public confidence in all judgements and rulings that emanate from the court.

Malami, who made the call in Abuja during the special court session held by the Federal High Court to mark the commencement of the 2019/20 legal year, however appreciated the court over the speed at which it handled pre-election matters in the wake, during and after the general election.

“This court has set the records straight, which helped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to effectively field the right candidates for the elections and the efficient conduct of election processes,” he said.

Malami urged lawyers to cooperate with the Federal High Court in ensuring that the dignity, integrity and credibility of the court are not put to ridicule.

He said: “We must collectively shun fraudulent practices and to render sound and unbiased advice to our clients based on laid down laws and not on sentiment. We should also not be seen encouraging our clients to ridicule this court into doing the impossible. As ministers in the temple of justice, we must together foster the desired growth for a better society because this court, on its own, can only do little as permitted by law.”

The Acting Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho, while declaring the new legal year open, revealed that 116,623 cases are pending before the courts across the country.

According to him, “16,144 cases were filed in this quarter alone in which 12,692 have been disposed of. It is obvious that the judges were overburdened with work in the last legal year.

“We therefore need to engage more judicial officers to help out. However, it does appear that there was no provision for appointment of judges in the current budget. I will make effort to discuss with the relevant stakeholders to see to the visibility of facilitating the recruitment of more judicial officers in the course of the year.”

Also speaking, the body of SAN, represented by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, called for specialization of courts.

The group said: “The challenge, which we wish respectfully, to place before my Lord, the Chief Judge is to break this court into specialized divisions. What I mean is that the era of general jurisdiction in one judge, has shown that a judge in each day, has over 25 cases to deal with. Their claims or causes include political matters under Electoral Act, criminal matters under National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and sundry crimes.

“In the same cause list, you have suits on aviation, fundamental enforcement, bankruptcy and insolvency, terrorism, mines and minerals including pollution, natural gas, including arbitration matters, arms and ammunition, cybercrimes treasonable felony and allied offences and interpretation of the constitution causes. The learned trial judge moves from law to the other within hours with rulings and judgements to be delivered thereon.

“My Lord, specialized divisions of the federal court will lead to specialization, increase productivity and reduce the much talked about delay in the administration of justice arising from unnecessary work load. The calls and argument for “Special Corruption Court” will pale into insignificance and spent.

“We are in 20th Century, where information technology has become a tool for efficient management of cases, resources and time in the administration of justice. It is not an impediment to elevation even up to the Supreme Court.

“All you need is to invest in training, retraining and continuous education in the specialised fields. The judges will suffer less stress and pressure. We believe the greatness of the court lies in creativity and innovation and so, respectfully, recommend this idea for the consideration of all stakeholders.”

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), on its part, stressed that the independence of the judiciary is under threat by the executive arm.

The President of the Bar, Paul Usoro (SAN) noted that it is not for nothing that the Federal High Court is described and looked upon in terms that suggest its ranking as primus inter pares in the hierarchy of High Courts in the Nigerian Federation.

According to him, “The gamut of its jurisdiction, both exclusive and concurrent, stands it out. But more than that, it is the primary High Court in the federation that has jurisdiction over the entire federation, with its divisions dotted all over the country.

“Your Lordships therefore have the unique advantage of being periodically transferred from one division of the court to another and in that process, Your Lordships get to work in, know and understand all the different component units of the Nigerian Federation and also appreciate the different quirks and idiosyncrasies of the people that make up this great country.

“Your Lordships are therefore in a prime position to pronounce, as Your Lordships always do, through this Honourable Court’s decisions, that, though tribes and tongues may differ, we remain one great country and are strong in spite of and indeed because of both our diversity and unity.

“It is in that context that I specially congratulate Your Lordships for stepping forward at critical moments to reaffirm and cement the bonds of our Nigerian unity through the various pronouncements and decisions of Your Lordships’ courts.

“The opening of the legal year traditionally affords the Bar and the Bench the opportunity for introspection and to ruminate on national issues particularly those that affect the justice sector. Topping the list of such issues at all times is the need to promote and protect the rule of law in all its ramifications. That need is perhaps more pronounced today given the siege under which the justice sector is currently operating, evident in the open and sometimes veiled incursions by the executive arm and its agencies. In particular, the independence of the judiciary is under severe threat.

“To be exact, the independence of mind and thoughts by Your Lordships in the determination of matters before the courts is under severe siege. The executive arm of government and its agencies are increasingly and unceasingly critical of the judiciary and its decisions, particularly in matters that the government and its agencies may be interested in. It is not unusual these days to hear high officials of government talk down the judiciary and ridiculously and rather ill-advisedly dump all the ills of society on the judiciary.

“Decisions by Your Lordships are sometimes brazenly denigrated and attributed to ulterior and ill motives – and these on social and traditional media platforms. Veiled and sometimes open and, in all cases, audacious attempts are made to teleguide and programme the decisions of courts. These are very dangerous practices that destroy the independence of the judiciary and by extension the rule of law and indeed the fabric of our society.

“The society needs and can only survive if we have independent-minded judges, who are empowered to dispense justice to all manner of men, including government departments, without fear or favour. We can only survive as a nation if the independence and vibrancy of the judiciary, particularly, the non-interference with the thoughts and decision-making processes of Your Lordships, are guaranteed and protected.”

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PEPT: Now that the verdict has been delivered

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PEPT: Now that the verdict has been delivered

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) sitting in Abuja, last week, threw out the petition filed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, against President Muhammadu Buhari over the February 23, 2019 presidential election.

Buhari was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.

The tribunal held that contrary to Atiku’s petition that Buhari was not qualified to contest the election on the basis of his educational qualification, the president was eminently qualified to run for the election.

The Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-man panel, also, in a unanimous judgement that lasted for almost nine hours, threw out the entire petition of Atiku. The tribunal reasoned that the petitioners – Atiku and PDP – failed to prove all their allegations beyond reasonable doubt.

Among other things that came out of the ruling of the tribunal were that contrary to APC’s claim that Atiku was not a Nigerian by birth, he was a Nigerian; that tradermoni, the masses-oriented Federal Government’s welfare programme, did not amount to bribing the electorate; that Livy Uzoukwu, Atiku’s lawyer, was recognised at the Supreme Court and that Atiku’s petition cannot be dismissed as demanded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It is a few days after the verdict. By Nigeria’s constitution, the courts are the final arbiter in any dispute. Currently, the court has ruled against Atiku on his petition at the tribunal level, but we are aware that he has another window at the Supreme Court to further his case, fault the ruling of the tribunal or demand a review.

The former vice president either has the option of accepting the tribunal ruling and move on or going on appeal at the Supreme Court.

We are of the view that whatever option he chooses remains his right. We cannot forget in haste that President Buhari won the presidency on his fourth attempt. The three previous ones he lost in 2003, 2007 and 2011, he went all the way to the Supreme Court to pursue his cause. He did not succeed. Rather, it was in 2015 that he was able to unseat the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to become president.

Until Atiku exhausts his right in this case, he is still within the legal means.

That is why we think that some of the utterances that have followed the ruling, particularly from APC, should not come up at this time. We do not, for instance, find the comment of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that Atiku should apologise to Nigerians over the tribunal matter as appropriate.

We are aware that in 2011, when Buhari lost the presidential election to Jonathan, there was bloodshed in some states of the North, including Bauchi, where many corps members were murdered in cold blood.

Nigerians rose to condemn such barbarism on citizens over an election. After that, Buhari still went to the tribunal and lost. He did not apologise to Nigerians over the time spent at the tribunal to challenge former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’Adua or even Jonathan. Nigerians did not demand apologies from Buhari because it was believed he was within his rights.

By the same token, the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had boasted that the party would defeat Atiku and PDP, even at the World Court. While we can pass that as a confidence statement from Oshiomhole, we do not agree with the tone of arrogance the statement was laced with.

APC might think that it has a water-tight defence against Atiku, but such statements, coming when the Supreme Court has not ruled on the matter, smacks of overconfidence. We are aware that the Supreme Court’s decision is final and cannot be appealed against. Although, history does not favour Atiku, when viewed from the prism that no Nigerian president has even been removed by the courts, we are also mindful that no Nigerian president was defeated in any election until 2015, when Jonathan lost to Buhari.

That is why we call for caution. Even on the side of PDP, it is important that decorum is maintained in the language used over the ruling. PDP cannot expect to get any justice at the Supreme Court by running down judges of the Appeal Court, who did not favour it. It is not cast in stone that the tribunal would favour PDP, neither is it a right that the courts must unseat Buhari. It is entirely a decision of the court based on the facts and arguments before it.

We strongly believe that even if Atiku goes to the Supreme Court and loses, the world would not come to an end. It did not come to an end for Buhari, after three attempts. What matters is Nigeria and the spirit of sportsmanship, knowing well that there is another day after the ruling.

We implore both APC and PDP to show humility with the ruling, bearing in mind that Nigeria is the main issue. It is not a personality contest. It is about the interest of Nigeria, which is and should remain paramount to all players in the political game.

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