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Liberia parliament slashes lawmakers’ earnings by over 30%

Liberia’s house of representatives has voted to slash its monthly earnings by 31 percent and that of the senate by 36 percent.

The lower legislative chamber voted in favour of the cut when it recently passed the country’s draft national budget of $526 million for the 2019/2020 fiscal year.

FrontPageAfrica, a Liberian magazine, reports that the house said it slashed the lawmakers’ salaries and benefits to accommodate the pay of government workers, including about 1,200 health workers.

It said the cut was also to realise its projections, avoid the recurrence of budget shortfall as well as meet the International Monetary Fund (IMF) standards.

The report of the joint committee on ways, means, finance, and public accounts and expenditure also indicate the house removed the $7 million contingent revenue as was initially provided for in the budget.

The report reads: “By this, the Committees with the mandate of Plenary instituted a national action that led to the proposed reduction of all employees’ salaries by six percent in the Executive excluding teachers, medical and security personnel, and those earning US$500 and below, while members of the National Legislature will have a reduction of 31 percent or US$2,586 (for House of Reps.) and 36 percent or US3,600 (for the Senate) net of monthly income tax for salaries and allowances, and other reductions to include 50 percent cut in gasoline distribution, so as to address compensation gap.”

Only recently, Italy’s parliament approved slashing the number of its members by 37 percent.

Amid the cost-saving initiatives, Nigeria’s federal lawmakers, said to be among the highest paid in he world, continue to face criticisms for earning huge sums in a country currently the poverty capital of the world.

A senator earns N13.5 million as running cost monthly while a member of the house of representatives is said to earn N12 million monthly.

Rochas Okorocha, senator representing Imo west, recently said Nigeria does not need 109 senators and 360 members of the house of representatives.

He told his colleagues that the number should be slashed by 70 percent.


Govs stealing public funds need deliverance, says Nasarawa gov

Abdullahi Sule, governor of Nasarawa state, says any person elected as governor has no justification to steal public funds.

According to NAN, Sule spoke during the closing ceremony of the 23rd national Quranic recitation competition organised by the Jamaatul Izalatul Bid’ah Wa Ikamatus Sunnah (JIBWIS) on Saturday in Lafia, Nasarrawa state capital.

He said governors were well provided for in the scheme of things, and as such, only a diabolic governor would resort to stealing public funds.

“When I assumed office as governor, I realised that only those who have no true knowledge about God would steal or that their major preoccupation would be to steal public funds.

“Any person who is a governor and is stealing public funds, then such a person is in need of God’s deliverance.”

He dismissed insinuations that one must be wealthy before joining politics, saying that as long as religious scholars keep avoiding politics, then they should be prepared to elect leaders who would betray their trust.

The governor, therefore, called on scholars and other educated elite to join politics in order to help bring sanity to the system.

He also urged them not to relent in telling people the truth even at the risk of being rejected.


PDP inaugurates reconciliation panel, campaign councils for Kogi, Bayelsa

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has inaugurated a national reconciliation committee and campaign councils for Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, scheduled for November 16.

The reconciliation committee is headed by a former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki.

While the party’s campaign council for Kogi is chaired by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, that of Bayelsa is headed by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State.

The PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, while inaugurating the committee and the councils, urged the reconciliation committee to work assiduously to reconcile all grievances by members in the two states and bring them back to the party.

He said the party should not go into both Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections as a divided house.

Mr Secondus, who expressed confidence in the members of the campaign councils, advised them to work for the victory of the party in the two states.

He said the campaign council had the task of ensuring that the electoral desires of the people of the two states were realised.

“I charge you to make sure that you bring the best of our programme for the two states during your campaign.

“Preach one man, one vote; obey all the rules and the laws of the land, because we are a party that believe in the rule of law.

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“Make sure that we win in Bayelsa and Kogi states,” Mr Secondus said, adding that the party had credible and best candidates for the two states.


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He said given the achievements of Governor Seriake Dickson in the last eight years in Bayelsa and the current situation in Kogi, the elections in the two states would be smooth contest for the PDP.

The PDP chairman, however, said that the information available to the party showed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was planning to rig the elections.

Mr Secondus advised INEC to be neutral in the conduct of the elections to ensure that they were free, fair and credible.

He called on the international community and all lovers of democracy to show more than passing interest in the forthcoming elections in the two states.

Mr Secondus also advised President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC to enforce peace and the rule of law in the country.

In his response, Mr Saraki said his committee would do its best to reconcile all aggrieved members in the two states.

“The work of winning Kogi and Bayelsa starts with reconciliation and end with reconciliation, because the two states belong to PDP,” he said.

Mr Saraki said the driving message was that a government headed by PDP was better than that headed by another party.

Also speaking, Governor Mohammed said the issue of reconciliation in Bayelsa was half done, as former President Goodluck Jonathan had directed him to accept the responsibility.

“I am taking this responsibility with the seriousness and energy that it deserves. Politics is not a joke.

“If the other side is planning evil, we will plan excellence. If they are planning violence, we will plan peace. If they are planning a loss, we will plan victory,” he said.

On his part, Governor Makinde promised that his committee would run issue-based campaigns in Kogi State and do PDP proud.

He said that the elections in the two states were an opportunity for the electorate “to press the reset button” that will end in the ultimate victory for the PDP in 2023.


Makinde, APC trade words over N7.6bn loan

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State has berated Governor Seyi Makinde and Speaker Adebo Ogundoyin over expressed approval of a fresh N7.6 billion loan aimed at reviving two farm settlements in Ido/Ibarapa East Federal Constituency of the state.

The House of Assembly on Thursday approved the governor’s request to borrow the sum three months after a similar request to obtain a N10b “infrastructural loan” was granted, bringing the total to N17.6b.

The approval was granted amid opposing voices by legislators who wanted the loan to be applied to farm settlements across the state.

The APC, in a statement by its Assistant Publicity Secretary, Prince Ayobami Adejumo, condemned what it described as the “conspiracy of bad governance” between Makinde and Speaker Ogundoyin over an alleged disrespect for the opinion of majority of his colleagues who had questioned the rationale behind the fresh loan request at the plenary on Thursday.

It reads in part: “The current governor has succeeded in bringing the whole machinery of local government administration to a halt completely and to further demonstrate his resolve to drag Oyo State backward by many years within the shortest period of time, we have again been made to see the need for the concerned citizens to beam their searchlight on the PDP administration of Engr. Seyi Makinde as financial indiscipline is now the order of the day in the business of government.

“As much as we would not even like to dwell much on the futile attempt by Gov. Makinde’s media handlers to change the narratives on the controversial fresh loan, the whole world has realised that the present administration is here to mismanage resources and enmesh the state in an inimical debt crisis. Without a clear cut action plan, the Makinde administration has made itself a good customer to many financial institutions as it gets all forms of loans.

“Unfortunately again, most of these loan transactions are done covertly and to the disadvantage of the good people of the state.

“The latest N7.6 billion loan, as announced, by the state legislature was different from the N10 billion obtained three months ago even as tongues are already wagging on what has become of the whopping over N17b billion which came into the state government treasury in the month of June alone.

“Apart from the statutory payment of salaries to government workers, nothing concrete has been done by the PDP government since May 29, 2019.

“The orchestrated Light-Up Ibadan City project and purchase of 100 security cars have not come to any fruition even when bogus amount of state funds had been expended on them without any due process.

“Oyo has a governor who would always singlehandedly design capital projects and approve funds for their execution without any recourse to State Executive Council.

“As if this was not enough, he has found an ally in the Speaker who overrules his colleagues at will only to dance to the tune of Mr. Governor.”

Reacting, however, Makinde described the loan approval as victory for the people of the state.

He pointed out that the loan was in pursuit of agricultural sustainability and economic emancipation of the Makinde administration.

In a statement through his spokesman Mr Taiwo Adisa, the Governor said the loan was borrowed from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for “agricultural equipment” by the immediate past administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi.

Makinde maintained that contrary to insinuations that he was obtaining an additional N7.6 billion loan after an initial approval for N10 billion loan facility for infrastructure development, the N7.6 billion loan had already been approved by the CBN before he got to office.

He added that the apex bank had begun to deduct money from Oyo State’s Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocations from source to repay the loan.

The Governor stated that his administration had only approached the House of Assembly to seek approval to change the purpose of the loan facility so that it could be put to better use in developing farm estates in Eruwa and Akufo farm settlements in a pilot scheme that will be used as a model for the state-wide farm estate initiative of the administration.

Makinde further explained that limiting the scope of the project to Akufo and Eruwa Farm settlements, which were in the same federal constituency, was to allow for effective planning, monitoring, evaluation and coordination for the pilot scheme, adding that the project would extend to other settlements across the state, as his administration will remain fair to all zones in the state.

The statement added: “The farm estates will serve as pilot schemes for our Private Public Development Partnership (PPDP) farm estates and will eventually generate funds to develop the other seven farm settlements in Oyo State. This is a deliberate plan aimed at creating sustainable development in the state.

“The N10 billion is still intact as it has not yet been accessed. The loan is meant for specific infrastructural development projects. Once the Due Process Office is through with the approval process of hiring contractors for the earmarked projects, we will start accessing the loan to fund these projects.

“Our administration will continue to be transparent and accountable to our people about how public funds are utilized in the state. We will ensure our people get value for any project that we execute, and also ensure that infrastructural development projects are tied to our economy.”

Dickson appoints 60 new aides — five weeks to guber poll

Seriake Dickson, governor of Bayelsa state, has appointed 60 new special advisers.

This development was announced in a statement signed on Thursday by Fidelis Soriwei, chief press secretary to the governor.

The appointees, drawn from the eight local government areas of the state, Soriwei said would help the government finish well.

“His Excellency the Governor of Bayelsa State, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, has approved the appointment of 60 new Special Advisers as part of the deliberate efforts to enable the Restoration Government to finish strong in the avowed commitment to deliver effective governance to the good people of Bayelsa State,” the statement read.

The appointment comes weeks to the state’s governorship election fixed for November 16.

Soriwei further said the “governor has directed the caucuses to nominate women for appointment as special advisers next week, in areas where they have not been considered for appointment.

“However, the government and the party deplore the ungrateful and unpatriotic attitude of a few appointees who have been sustained and recognised in the midst of far more qualified persons for over seven years but are falling prey to the antics of the All Progressives Congress which is inducing party members with money and fake promises.

“While the government wishes them well in their new endeavours, it is pertinent to note that for every appointee, the PDP has several other more qualified people who are ready and willing to be trusted with such privileged positions of responsibility.”

Dickson, who is completing a second term, have had over 2000 appointees in his cabinet since he got reelected in 2016.

Senate seat: Melaye loses at appeal court

The Court of Appeal has affirmed the decision of the election petition tribunal sacking Dino Melaye as senator representing Kogi west.

The court ordered the conduct of a fresh election in the zone.

Melaye, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had filed three appeals asking the court to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal, which voided his electoral victory, on the grounds of denial of fair hearing and refusal to evaluate evidence adduced during the hearing.

He claimed the tribunal erred when it hinged its judgement on over-voting resulting from the number of permanent voter cards rather than the voter register.

Smart Adeyemi, his challenger and member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), asked the court to dismiss the appeals because Melaye was not denied fair hearing.

He said the tribunal based its findings on over-voting on a report of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which contained the number of collected voter cards unit by unit.

Melaye acknowledged his loss on Twitter.

“I just lost my election at the appeal court. In all things, I give God the praise. He who started a good thing will definitely complete it. I ask my supporters to be law abiding as we shall always overcome. To God be the glory,” he tweeted.

Senator Dino Melaye. (SDM)@dino_melaye

I just lost my election at the Appeal Court and Fresh election ordered. In all things I give God the Praise. He who started a good thing will definitely complete it. I ask my supporters to be law abiding as we shall always overcome. To God be the Glory.

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Fayemi says Nigeria can do away with senate

Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti state, says Nigeria can scrap the Denate as all the country really needs is a unicameral legislature.

Speaking at the just concluded 25th edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group conference, the governor said Nigeria has to look into the size of government.

“We do need to look at the size of government in Nigeria and I am an advocate of a unicameral legislature. What we really need is the house of representatives because that is what represents,” he said at a session.

“You have three senators from little Ekiti and you have three senators from Lagos state. It’s a no-brainer that it’s unequal, I guess the principle is not proportionality but that if you are a state, you get it automatically but I think that we can do away with that. There are several things that we can do away within the government.

“The Oronsaye report that proposed mergers of several MDAs that are doing the same thing is something that the government should pay serious attention to and reduce the resources being expended on them.”

Nigeria’s National Sssembly consists of a senate with 109 members and a 360-member house of representatives.

Defending the security vote spent by governors, Fayemi, who was also a former minister of mines and steel, said: “Security vote exists in various forms and not just in Nigeria. They may not call it security vote, they may call it contingency vote.

“The important thing is the government utilises a wide range of mechanism to guarantee security in a state and it is not just ammunition and weapons that I am talking about. Even keeping the touts in check is a security challenge in many states and managing that process may cost you money that you cannot necessarily show the auditors.

“The other element which states don’t get credit for is what we do for the federal police. Nigeria is the only federation in the world that I know runs a centralised police force. You have federal police that is not being funded properly by the federal government so the responsibility for funding those guys that are posted to your state is on the state. You buy uniforms, ammunition, pay allowances, do life insurance, buy vehicles; that is not provided for and that is security vote because we are expected to protect the citizens.

“Let me also say this, you will not hear it out there from anybody. When people are kidnapped and their relatives are harassing the governor or security institutions to track down the victims.

“We track them down, we know where they are. What you hear us say outside is that we don’t pay ransom and we stick by that. We don’t pay ransom, we don’t bribe kidnappers but we get those people released.

“I will not go into the ugly details but we spend money in ensuring that we get abductees and victims out of harm’s way because ultimately that is what the victim wants us to do. The parents don’t want to hear the story that we don’t pay a ransom. You just have to whatever you have to do to ensure that we get our citizens out of danger.”

Fayemi was on the panel alongside Babatunde Fowler, executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Jordi Borrut Bel, Nigerian Breweries MD, and Eme Essien, country manager of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

No apologies for appointing my daughter as aide, says Gov. Okowa

Delta Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has declared he has no apologies for appointing one of his daughters as an aide.

His daughter, the governor said, is eminently qualified for the position. “It is not true that I have two of my daughter’s appointed. I have only one appointed and she is rightfully qualified.

“I do not have any daughter in social media. The one appointed for girl child education is rightfully qualified. I do not have any apologies for that because I know the quality of daughter that I have.”

Okowa also said the choice of who becomes the next governor of Delta State in 2023 will be determined by God.

He said although he expressed his personal view that his successor should come from Delta Central, the choice ultimately was beyond him.

Okowa said he has his views which he cannot enforce, adding that the most important factor is the need to ensure “unity and equity”.

The governor, who spoke at a media quarterly briefing in Asaba, said the PDP will continue to work towards achieving a situation that keeps the people United, realising that working together makes the party stronger.

“I am not God. I don’t make a Governor. Nobody makes a governor. It is only God that can make one.

“The important thing is we want to ensure there is unity and equity and we will continue to work towards achieving a situation that keeps us United as Deltans realising that working together makes us stronger as a people.”

He said the huge debt profile of Delta State was not adversely affecting governance as his administration has devised smart approaches to tackling its indebtedness.

He added that his administration was not piling debts for his successor as new contracts are planned to chime with expected receipts.

He said Delta State had at October 2018 exited from payment of the bond taken by the previous administration by making a monthly payment of N1billion from 2015 to 2018.

He declared with the restructured debt the state pays a manageable N1.5 billion monthly.

He said his administration “was planning its economic approaches in a manner that his successor will be debt-free save for old restructured debts”.

Okowa, however, admitted to taking short term loans for contracts that are financed through Irrevocable Standing Payment Orders (ISPO).

He said the huge figures credited to Delta State are not the actual debts accumulated by the State but includes both capital and the interest rates computed over a period.

Marafa asks Matawalle to review Sharia law…says Zamfarans have been decieved

Kabir Marafa, a former senator, is demanding a review of Sharia law in Zamfara state.

Sani Yerima, a former governor of the state, introduced the law in 1999.

But Marafa said the Sharia practised in the state is not based on the teachings of Islam, alleging that some persons introduced it to hold on to power.

Marafa spoke when he met with Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara, at the government house in Gusau, the state capital, on Sunday.

“For long, the people of Zamfara are being deceived with Shariah (Islamic legal system) in the state,” he said.

“Your Excellency, it is high time that you looked at the system with a view of reviewing it to meet up with the standard stipulated in the glorious Quran and Hadith of our prophet, Mohammed (SAW).

“The Sharia being practiced in Zamfara is not based on the teachings of Islam. Our sharia courts in Zamfara are not practicing Sharia system. Magistrate courts have been phased out.

“Sharia is not an agenda of any party, I was in the ANPP and I’m an APC member.”

Marafa also said he is still a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“I want to use this opportunity to reaffirm to the people of Zamfara and other Nigerians that I remain an APC member. I want to inform Nigerians that APC in Zamfara remain divided,” he said.

“My faction is still intact and no going back.”

Marafa said he wants Matawale to succeed because of the role he played in his emergence as governor.

“This is because of the role I played in your emergence,” he said.

“Before now, people thought we were playing politics with our reservations on the past administration but today, to the glory of Allah, we are experiencing peace again in Zamfara.”

On his part, Matawale said his government would work with everyone, irrespective of party affiliation.


Nigeria does not need 109 senators and 360 reps, says Okorocha

Rochas Okorocha, senator representing Imo west, says Nigeria does not need 109 senators and 360 members of the house of representatives.

Speaking during senate plenary session on Thursday, Okorocha said the number of lawmakers from each state should be reduced to cut cost of governance.

He said the number of senators from each state should be reduced from three to one while each state will have only three members in the house of representatives.

“What (are) three senators doing that one senator cannot do?” Okorocha asked.

“Here, we have three senators per state. Over there,(house of representatives) over there, we have 360 eligible human beings. This country must begin to make sacrifices and cut down the cost of governance.”

Okorocha said he does not know what the current senate is doing different from the eight senate and previous ones.

“And if what we are doing today is similar to what we did in the 8th senate be rest assured the product will be the same,” he added.

He also told Senate President Ahmad Lawan that he pleaded with him “just two days ago to change your style”, adding: “If you change your style, you will get a new result.”

“Let’s proffer solutions and not create more problems for the executives. They are waiting for us. What do we have different to show?” the senator asked.

“The summary of what we have been talking about is money, we don’t have enough funds to support the needs of Nigerians, to create jobs and put food on the table of the common man.

“This problem arises from the fact that we depend on only one source of income which is crude oil, which consists of over 50% of our revenue and 90% of our foreign reserves, ad this oil is static.

“We should look inwards. Let us cut our clothes according our materials not our sizes. The budget of Nigeria is cut according to our size not the material available, and according to the solution.”

No attempt to ‘whittle down’ Osinbajo’s influence – APC

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has debunked reports of an attempt to “whittle down” the roles of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The reports, mostly on social media, claimed that a cabal in the presidency was trying to render the office of the vice president ineffective and subject the incumbent’s person to humiliation.

President Buhari in his independence anniversary address to Nigerians on Tuesday announced plans to move the National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIPs) to the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The programmes had been domiciled under the office of the vice president since they were created in 2016.

The programmes under the N-SIPs to be moved from the vice president’s office to the new ministry include N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP).

However, in a statement by its spokesperson, Lanre Issa-Onilu, on Wednesday, APC dismissed the reports attributing the movement to a ‘rift’ between President Buhari and Mr Osinbajo as “one of the many fake news flying around in recent days.”

The party said the “fake news” began after the “setting up of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) comprising some of Nigeria’s most independent-minded economists (some vocally critical of government’s fiscal policies) to advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues, working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.”

The vice president statutorily heads the National Economic Council with members including state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

“Constitutionally, while the power of the Vice President is derived from the President, the conspirators deliberately choose to ignore Section 141 of the Constitution, which spells out the Vice President’s statute membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council,” the APC said in the statement.

The party said President Buhari’s decision to move the N-SIPs to the new ministry does not portend crisis at the presidency.

“The conspirators are desperately trying to link government decisions on the N-SIPs, which have been under the office of the Vice President since it started in 2016 to support the conspiracies, however mundane.

“In the same October 1 address, the President announced the recent redeployment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF). Was this also to ‘whittle down’ the powers of the OSGF?”

Osinbajo’s ‘frontline role’

The party said the N-SIPs since 2016 has impacted “over 12 million direct beneficiaries and over 30 million indirect beneficiaries.

“The Vice President played a frontline role in the conceptualisation of these policies and programmes and the President, in demonstration of his trust for him, charged him with the responsibility of nurturing the programmes to the current stage.

“Tremendous successes have been recorded under the guardianship of the Vice President. In demonstrating the administration’s commitment to the cause of the poor, these interventionist programmes have been elevated to the Next Level with the creation of the new ministry.”

“The purveyors of the conspiracy theory about the imagined rift in the Presidency have missed the opportunity to see the commendable efforts of this government. Perhaps, if these policies were about the elites, they would have focussed on the positive imports rather than fishing for a crisis that only exists in their fatuous imagination,” he concluded.

“The SIPs are already gaining global and local acclaims across the globe on account of its nationwide social impact, particularly from endorsement by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), World Bank, World Economic Forum, Action Aid (Nigeria), Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) among others.

“A question we should ask the conspirators and their partisan sponsors is how did they miss the import of the President’s decision to create a whole ministry to superintend the social investment programmes and humanitarian issues?

“How did they not realise that the President’s action is an indication of the importance he attaches to policies that are targeted at the poor?

“Why does it appear that the so-called analysts always do not see things from the point of view of the poor?”

The APC accused the opposition of not being critical enough in assessing government policies. It implored the media and critics of the government to be noble when reviewing public policies.

Efforts to speak with the PDP’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, for his party’s reaction were unsuccessful.

His known telephone lines were unreachable after several attempts. He also did not respond to text messages at the time of this report.

Tribunal upholds Ganduje’s election as Kano governor

The Kano State governorship election petition tribunal has upheld the election of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

Delivering the four-hour judgment on Wednesday, the chairman of the three-member panel, Halima Shamaki, announced the dismissal of the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Abba Yusuf.

Yusuf and the PDP had filed the petition against Ganduje, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) challenging the governor’s victory in the March 23 supplementary election.

Justice Shamaki said INEC was right both in declaring the March 9 election as inconclusive and in declaring Mr Ganduje the winner of the re-run election.

She said the petitioners claiming the electoral rules and guidelines were not complied with in an election they claimed to have won the majority of lawful votes is a paradox. “It’s like trying to mix oil and water,” the judge said.

Shamaki added that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations of corrupt practices and non-compliance by the respondents beyond a reasonable doubt.

She said that declaring an election as inconclusive where there are lawful reasons is constitutional.

“The carbonised copies of documentary evidence tendered by the petitioners were mostly unstamped, some are unsigned, others contained re-written data, hence amounted to documentary hearsay and therefore inadmissible.

“We shall not go into details in the petition. He who asserts must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Respondents are not bound to prove. In civil cases, the burden to prove lies on the plaintiff. Where the plaintiff fails to prove his case, the case must fail. As such, the petition is hereby dismissed,” she declared.

Three judges on the tribunal unanimously adopted the judgment.

Tribunal upholds Tambuwal’s election

The Sokoto State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Wednesday, upheld the election of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the Peoples Democratic Party.

In a unanimous judgment delivered in Abuja by its three-man panel, the tribunal dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress and its governorship candidate, Ahmed Aliyu, to challenge the governor’s victory at the March 9, 2019 poll.

The tribunal led by Justice Bawale Abdullahi held that the petitioners failed to adduce credible evidence to prove their case.

It held that the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission were presumed to be regular and could only be adjudged to be unreliable if the petitioners discharged the burden of proof placed on them by law.

It held that the petitioners failed to lead credible evidence to discharge the burden of proof, as it dismissed documentary evidence tendered by them on the grounds that the exhibits were not properly certified.

It held that the testimonies of most of the witnesses relied on by the petitioners were hearsay which were unreliable in law.

The tribunal chairman, Abdullahi, who delivered the lead judgment, noted that while some of the petitioners’ witnesses made their written statements in Hausa language, the petitioners blundered by only tendering the version of the statements translated in English language, as exhibits.

Other members of the panel, Justices E.N. Anyadike and Kadi M.A. Oniye, agreed with the lead judgment.

INEC had declared the Sokoto State governorship election held on March 9, 2019 as inconclusive.

A re-run poll that was conducted on March 23, which saw Tambuwal emerge victorious with a slim margin of 342 votes.

Dissatisfied with the outcome, Aliyu and his party, alleging irregularities in the conduct of the poll, filed their petition before the tribunal to challenge Tambuwal’s victory.

Abaribe: Soldiers once stopped kidnappers — now they help them

Enyinnaya Abaribe, senator representing Abia south, have accused soldiers of “helping kidnappers” in the country.

Abaribe made the accusation while contributing on a motion on insecurity along Abuja-Lokoja road during senate plenary session on Wednesday.

He also decried the cases of insecurity in parts of the country, saying Nigeria is in a “very big and difficult situation.”

The senator recalled an instance when soldiers were deployed to help fight kidnapping in Abia state, and said the reverse is now the case where the victims cannot be handed over to soldiers for safety.

Abaribe said: “What else do we do asides getting up and making this presentation? As I stand before you, I do not know but I can only say what is that abnormal thing we will do?

“I know on this floor when I was on the other side, sometime in 2008, we raised a motion on Abia state and the president agreed and sent soldiers. They helped reduce the kidnapping.

“But all of a sudden, we now see that some soldiers are helping kidnappers which we can’t even say let us handover to them. We are in a very big and difficult situation. We sympathise with the people killed.”

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator further said many lawmakers have abandoned the Abuja-Kaduna road because of insecurity, adding: “This means we have yielded to the bandits. Some state governments have even gone to negotiate with the bandits.”

Dino Melaye, lawmaker representing Kogi west, who sponsored the motion, said the Abuja-Kaduna road has been plagued with various cases of kidnapping and complained adequate attention has not been paid to the road.

He called on the upper legislative chamber to enforce “citizen diplomacy” to ensure the lives of citizens are well protected.


We’ve failed to take Nigeria to enviable position —Taraba Gov

Taraba State Governor, Mr. Darius Ishaku, on Monday said Nigeria as a country is not yet mature after 59 years of Independence.

Decrying the nation’s situation, the governor lamented, “We’ve failed to take Nigeria to enviable position.”

He called for a drastic change in attitude and approach to governance.

Ishaku spoke while answering questions from journalists in Jalingo shortly after he arrived the state from Abuja.

Ishaku said, “Yes, we are 59 years old, but I don’t think we are 59 years mature — it is sweet and ugly.

“It is sweet because we have independence, but ugly because we have not been able to utilise the 59 years to take the country to an enviable position.

“It’s a shame that Nigeria as a giant of Africa is still lagging behind.

“I was in Rwanda and I was amazed at their development in the healthcare sector alone.

“Here we are being called the giant of Africa, but are just sitting giant.

“A lot still needs to be done. We need to transform our thinking, work hard in education, health and power, among others.

“If we can improve on power alone, the multiplier effects will be tremendous,” he said.

Governor Ishaku, who won his election case at the tribunal in Abuja, said he will consolidate on his achievements in agriculture, education, and healthcare, among others, for the good of the people of Taraba State.

Bayelsa speaker removed as gunshots rock assembly

Tonye Isenah, Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, has been removed.

Isenah was removed shortly after gunshots rocked the assembly over the crisis that broke out as a result of the refusal of Isenah to step down.

Isenah had been under pressure to resign following the emergence of Douye Diri as gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the November 16 election.

Isenah and Diri are from his Kolokuma-Opokuma local government area of the state, a development which some political pundits say could work against the PDP candidate in the election.

Trouble started on Monday after Isenah, who had told reporters on Friday that he would relinquish his position, adjourned plenary indefinitely.

Suspected thugs were said to have invaded the chamber after which the mace was forcefully taken away.

Some lawmakers later reconvened and took the decision on replacing Monday Obolo, the former majority leader of the house.

Obolo represents southern Ijaw constituency 2.

But Ranami Afagha, spokesman of Isenah, said the impeachment would not stand as it was done against the standing rules of the house.

Afagha said the mace of the house was “violently taken away by thugs”, adding that since the symbol of authority was not in the house, activities of those who removed Isenah were illegal and unconstitutional.

‘My abductors said they kept coming back because my son is rich’ … Siasia’s mother

With her eyes swollen in tears, Beauty Uguoere Siasia, the mother of a former Super Eagles skipper and coach, Samson Siasia broke down and cried.

“I dont know why they keep kidnapping me. Only God knows,” the 80-year-old woman sobbed as tears dripped down her wrinkled face.

Mama, as she is fondly called, lamented that she had been kidnapped twice saying that her abductors on the two occasions told her that her son, Siasia is a millionaire.

She said after whisking her away to an unknown place, her assailants fed her with garri and bought drugs for her.

Saying that they took care of her, the traumatised woman said there was no time they beat her, adding that sometimes the abductors prepared soup for everybody in their camp.

Narrating the latest incident, she said: I was at my house when they came to kidnap me. They took me to the place. They took care of me.

“I was sick and they bought the drugs. They cooked and gave to me.

“They didn’t beat me. There were days that there was no food. Those days they drank garri and gave me garri to drink too.

“Sometimes, they cooked soup, prepare garri and we ate.

“But on Sunday, they told me we had stayed for too long and they were tired of our problem.

“They carried us on a flying boat and dropped us in a village. I dont know the name of the village.

“The carried us to their chairman place. I don’t even know the man. They called Seifa and Seifa came.

“As I am talking to you, I am not well. Before they took me I was not well. I want to go to the hospital.

“They built small house and use tarpaulin to cover the top. That was where they kept us”.

When she was told that she won’t be kidnapped again, Siasia’s mother quickly said Amen.

But she added: “They keep worrying me because they said my son, Siasia is rich and a millionaire”.

Also one of the victims, who was abducted when he took some undisclosed amount of money to the kidnappers, said on getting to where they directed him, the gunmen surrounded his boat, blindfolded him and took him away.

Relieving his ordeal, he said: “Where they kept us was very bad. I didn’t see anything there and I didn’t recognise anybody because before I got to the place, they blindfolded me.

“But the place was rough. We slept on benches. There was no foam. At times, they fed us with garri and beans.

“We used oil to eat garri. Sometimes, they cooked yellow soup and any how they cooked it you will eat because you want to live.

“I was in a critical condition. They were fond of beating me maybe because I am a man.

‘They would beat me morning, afternoon and night. They would tie me before I sleep.

“Even if mosquitoes were biting me, I couldn’t chase them away. They kept four people to guide me. I suffered a lot”.

CAN defends Osinbajo on N90bn allegation

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says the church will defend for Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the N90 billion allegation levelled against him.

Supo Ayokunle, CAN national president, made this known on Friday when he led a delegate of the association to visit Osinbajo.

Timi Frank, a former deputy spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had alleged that Osinbajo mismanaged N90 billion allegedly made available by the FIRS for 2019 election campaign purposes.

The FIRS had denied the claim, saying it doesn’t have such funds.

Speaking at the Christian Ecumenical Centre in Abuja, Ayokunle told journalists that the N90billion corruption allegation is not true.

He said proponents of the claim should tender evidence or desist from tarnishing the image of the vice president.

“He has cleared the air that the allegation is baseless and there is no truth in it and that some people are plotting against him and he was ready to provide himself to be cleared,” he said.

“If there is an allegation there must be evidence and that it can never happen and will never happen. The church and the entire country will fight for him.”

Meanwhile, Osinbajo had said he would waive his constitutional immunity to be investigated.

He also said he has commenced legal action against two individuals, “one Timi Frank and another Katch Ononuju, who have put their names to these odious falsehoods.”

INEC disqualifies 14 underage candidates in Kogi/Bayelsa gov polls

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disqualified 14 underage candidates in the upcoming Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections.

According to a statement released on Friday by Festus Okoye, INEC commissioner for information and voter education committee, six underaged were discovered in Bayelsa while Kogi had eight.

According to an earlier report, some of the governorship and deputy governorship candidates are below the 35 years of age provided for by the 1999 constitution.

A total of 52 political parties submitted the list of their governorship and deputy governorship candidates for the Bayelsa election while 49 submitted candidates in Kogi.

He also said a total of 68 candidates have been cleared to participate in the elections — 45 in Bayelsa and 23 in Kogi.

According to the commissioner, some parties had written the commission admitting their error and requesting to submit new nominees but this was after the deadline for submission.

“As such the Commission could not accept any fresh nominations. In like manner, since the parties did not submit valid nominations before the deadline, they cannot substitute the candidates on the grounds of death or voluntary withdrawal, in accordance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which assumes the prior existence of valid nominations.

“At the close of the time stipulated by sections 31, 33 and 35 of Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) for the submission of the names of nominated candidates, 49 nominations were received for Kogi State.

“Out of these, 41 nominations were valid, while 8 were invalid. Subsequently, 18 political parties withdrew from contesting the elections. Therefore, 23 political parties will contest the Governorship election in Kogi State.

“For Bayelsa State, a total of 52 nominations were received. Out of these, 46 were valid, while 6 were invalid. One political party has since withdrawn from the contest, leaving a total of 45 political parties to contest the governorship election in Bayelsa State.”

He said INEC will publish the names and addresses of qualified candidates on Monday.

I trust God that the right leadership will come, says Bakare

Tunde Bakare, the senior pastor of Latter Rain Assembly, says he believes God to give Nigeria the right leaders.

NAN reports that Bakare spoke on the sidelines of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Annual Goalkeepers meetings in New York, on Friday.

He said Nigeria’s education system needs a total overhaul to create sound graduates.

He said 50% of Nigerian youths are not employed while 25% are unemployable.

According to him, the current system has huge implications on the economic development and life outcomes of young people.

“In the past, when you are coming out from the university, there are regular jobs, car loan and other facilities that will keep you in the country,” Bakare said.

“Right now, because of the lack of jobs, job creation has become a major issue. Our young people are now taking to crime and are benefiting from proceeds of crime and kidnapping.

“But with the right policy in place, we can inject new ideas that will create jobs for our people.

“I trust God that the right leadership will come. I call them a new breed without greed that will consider others and begin to create opportunities for us within our countries.

“About 50% of our youth are not employed and 25% of them are not employable. So, there is something fundamentally wrong with our education system that is producing semi-illiterates.”

The pastor, therefore, called on the government to review the education curriculum saying Nigeria would need better-educated graduates to cope and compete in the world.

Bakare had trended at the weekend after a February 2018 video recording where he said he is “number 16” after President Muhammadu Buhari, who he says is “number 15″ in the ”scheme of things” resurfaced.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeeper’s report, which measures the state of performance of the SDGs across the world, had said there is inequality in almost every location in the world.

According to the report, the quality of education people receive differs depending on the state or local government area they live in.

The report showed that a girl born in Ado Ekiti will most likely finish her secondary education, but if the same girl were born in Garki local government in Jigawa, she will not complete primary education.