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ICPC probe: Yar’Adua Foundation denies ownership of property

The Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, on Wednesday, denied ownership of an asset linked with it by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as part of the seizure of assets worth N N4.8 billion.

The Director-General of Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, Jacqueline W. Farris, made the clarification in a statement in Abuja.

The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to a newspaper article citing ICPC spokesperson, Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa, claiming seizure of property belonging to the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation for tax evasion.

“Following our request for clarification, the Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission has confirmed that their reference is not to the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, RC No. 350618.

“For the record, the Yar’Adua Foundation owns no property apart from the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre located at One Memorial Drive, Central Business District, Abuja.

“The Foundation wishes to assure the public that we are in full compliance with all tax regulations and have received our tax certificate for the year 2018 TCC NO: 10459848. “

The ICPC, on Monday, said it has moved to seize plots of land and buildings which cumulative value has been put at N4.8 billion from 30 companies operating in Nigeria.

It listed some assets to be seized as 22.9 hectares of undeveloped land, one plaza, and a block of six two-bedroom flats located in Wuse, Zone One, Abuja belonging to Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua Foundation, Vibrant Issuance Brokers, Millard Fuller Foundation, Maibuhu Farm and Construction Limited, Gabcon Enterprises Limited and a host of others.

ICPC statement added: “In the course of investigation, the alleged owners of the properties disclaimed ownership.

“The move to seize the properties spread around Abuja, followed a petition to ICPC by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), accusing the companies of defaulting in tax payment to the tune of N288.2 million.

“Section 37 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 empowers ICPC to seize assets alleged to be subject of an offence under the law while Section 48 authorizes it to apply to a High Court for an order of forfeiture within 12 months of the date of seizure.”

JAMB Registrar: NGE President Egbemode’s suggestion led to reduction of UTME fees from N5,000 to N3,500

The Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof Ishiaq Oloyede, has revealed that the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) was instrumental to the reduction of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) fee from N5,000 to N3,500.

He stated this at a stakeholders meeting held in Abuja, as part of preparations for the 2019 UTME, scheduled to hold from April 11-17, across the country and foreign centres.

Recall that in November 2018, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), approved the reduction of the examination fees as well as that of other examinations.

Oloyede recalled that at one of the board’s stakeholders meetings, the NGE President, Mrs Funke Egbemode, had suggested that rather than return money made from sales of forms to government coffers as had become the practice in JAMB since he (Oloyede) assumed office, especially that JAMB is not a revenue generating agency, the board should consider a reduction of the application fees.

He said that following the suggestion, he wrote a memo to the ministry, which was graciously approved, leading to the reduction of the fees.
Oloyede commented the media and civil society organisations for their support to the board, which had improved the conduct of the UTME.

Fowler didn’t advocate 50% VAT

Tunde Fowler, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS on Tuesday called for an increase in the number of Nigerians and companies paying VAT and not a 50 per cent increase in VAT rate.

The FIRS said that contrary to reports in the media, it’s  Executive Chairman called for a reduction in Companies Income Tax (CIT) rate for small businesses so as to improve compliance.

Though he indicated that there should be an increase in VAT rate by the end of the year, “he never  for once suggested a 50 per cent hike of any percentage increase at all.”

Rather, he promised improved collection in CIT, Petroleum Profits Tax, PPT and VAT in 2019 relative to the collection performance of the Service in 2018.

In 2018, FIRS collected the sum of N1.1 trillion in VAT N1,42 in Companies Income Tax (CIT) and N2.4 trillion in Petroleum Profits Tax (PPT).

 

Fayose’s trial: I lied to EFCC to help a friend, says Lebanese contractor

The N2.2bn fraud trial of former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose progressed on Wednesday with the prosecution fielding four additional witnesses.

Among the four witnesses were three Lebanese – Goshen Joseph; Joseph Mechleb and Maroun Mechleb – who are working in Nigeria as building and construction engineers.

Mechleb, who was fielded as PW10, is the Chief Executive Officer of a construction firm, Samchase Nigeria Limited, which is based in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

While being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Mechleb told the court that he had done various jobs for both the Federal Government and some states, including Ekiti State.

He said he did jobs for Ekiti State in 2006, 2014, 2015 and 2016 when Fayose was governor of the state.

Mechleb told the court that the jobs he did for Ekiti State were facilitated by Abiodun Agbele – an aide to Fayose.

He said there was an agreement that he would “appreciate” Agbele for every contract he facilitated for Samchase Nigeria Limited.

Mechleb said though the “appreciation” was not specified, it was usually about 10 per cent of the contract sum

The Lebanese, who told the court that he could neither write nor read English language, said the scope of the contracts was usually communicated verbally, saying, “We agreed that when he got jobs for me, I will appreciate him.

“We did not specify but it’s around 10 per cent.”

Mechleb told the court that he once lied to the EFCC about owning a property on Agbele’s instructions.

He said he falsely claimed ownership of the property in order to help Agbele, whom he described as a friend.

The Lebanese had been asked by Jacobs if he knew of a company, JJ Technical Services Limited, to which he replied that the firm belongs to his younger brother and brother-in-law, Maroun Mechleb and Joseph Mechleb, respectively.

He said his brother once approached him to help get some jobs for JJ Technical Services Limited, because since the company was incorporated in 2007, it never got any job.

I have not left PDP — Jimi Agbaje

The Lagos State Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9 election, Mr Jimi Agbaje, on Wednesday said there was no truth in the report that he had left the party.

Agbaje, in a statement by Mr Felix Oboagwina, his Director of Media and Publicity, said he was still in PDP and nobody could force him out.

He attributed insinuations that he had dumped PDP to mischief-makers determined to soil his reputation, provoke crisis within the party and dampen the spirit of party members and his supporters.

“I have never discussed with anyone any plan to dump PDP, neither has such a prospect crossed my mind.

“There is no reason for it. It is uncalled for,” he said.

Agbaje said he would remain in the party, despite the campaign of calumny being waged against him in the media by a few leaders.

He said he only on Monday released a message encouraging members to rise above the questionable defeats suffered in the last election and maintain faith in the party.

According to him, it will be contradictory for him to suddenly turn tail and flee the same party.

“For a party that has twice accorded me the honour of running on its platform, I should be regarded as uncharitable to say I am abandoning PDP now,” Agbaje said.

He said the recent vituperation in the press and social media against his person and his role in the last election were the machinations of the people he called political “featherweights”.

Agbaje said he was having issues with some people because he disbursed campaign funds to candidates as instructed, contrary to the Lagos PDP tradition of sharing money to party leaders.

“The era of taking a share of what is not ours must stop in our party.

“The bitterness is from those who find it difficult to believe that money can be channeled without a ‘cut’ being taken. Leaders must lead by example,” he said.

Agbaje also said that he relinquished the management of his firm, Jaykay Pharmacy Ltd. in 2005 into the post of non-executive Chairman and that neither he nor the company handled any contract from any State or Federal Government.

He also denied being a mole for the All Progressives Congress (APC) or its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, both of whom, he said, suffered from the butt of his campaign.

“My campaigns have been very clear on where the blame of bad governance in Lagos State should lie.

“It baffles me how the same people I hold responsible for the bondage we find ourselves in Lagos will be funding me to sabotage my party, PDP.

“I have never collected a single kobo from the ruling party in Lagos State directly or indirectly nor from its leadership or representatives”, he said.

Agbaje said that party leaders who stood on the sidelines or worked against the party in the elections should not be fooled that the loss at the elections was as a result of their negative actions.

“They should not arrogate to themselves powers they do not have.

“The elections were lost due to the intimidation of people which in turn led to voter apathy, such that Lagos recorded the lowest percentage turnout in the country,” ’he said.

Groups demand half of NNPC vacancies for PTI graduates

The African Students Education Support Initiative (ASESI) and the National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) have called for the reservation of 50 per cent of vacancies in the ongoing Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation(NNPC) recruitment for graduates of Petroleum Training Institute(PTI), Effurun, Delta State.

ASESI’s Executive Director, Mr Chinonso Obasi, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said PTI had over the years produced thousands of graduates with high leveled skills in the oil and gas sector.

Obasi said that concerns had been raised that a lot of non-oil agencies found it hard to employ this graduates as they were assumed to be specially trained for the oil and gas sector leaving the graduates of PTI jobless upon graduation.

“In-line with the recent vacancies as advertised by NNPC, ASESI has made a special request that 50 per cent of these vacancies be reserved for the PTI graduates.

“ PTI isn’t under Ministry of Education like other conventional tertiary institutions in Nigeria rather it is under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and so whenever opportunities or vacancies for recruitment are advertised in some of the oil and gas agencies of government, PTI graduates ought to be given high level of consideration for employment.

“Most of the multinational companies in oil and gas sector in Nigeria like Total, ExxonMobil, Chevron etc have gone further to operating their own training institutes which put PTI graduates at the risk of not getting employment upon graduation, ordinarily, the government of Nigeria was not suppose to allow that to operate as they already have a training institute,’’ Obasi said.

Obasi urged all the qualified PTI graduates to take advantage of the recent NNPC recruitment by applying.

He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also the Minister of Petroleum Resources, to reserve 50 per cent of the vacancies in NNPC for the PTI graduates.

Obasi said a special committee –Coalition of Nigerian students’ Union (CNSU) had been set up to meet with the management of PTI to discuss further on this subject matter within the next two weeks.

More so, the Chairman of CNSU, Comrade Eneji Mohammmed, who is also the National President of NAPS, in a statement said that CNSU would meet with the management of the PTI before further actions would be taken.

He regretted that the government was not showing intertest in absorbing PTI graduates despite the intensive trainings they undergo with a view to contributing meaningfully in Nigeria’s oil and gas sectors.

“We are confident that PTI graduates will be given high consideration especially now that the President and commander in-chief of FRN is equally the Minister of Petroleum Resources,’’ he said

Alan Krueger, Obama’s economic adviser commits suicide

Alan Krueger, a prominent Princeton University economics professor who advised U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, took his own life over the weekend, his family said in a statement on Monday. He was 58.

The statement did not elaborate about the circumstances of Krueger’s death, nor did the university when confirming it earlier in the day.

Krueger served in the last two Democratic administrations – as chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor during the Clinton era and as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers for Obama.

“It is with tremendous sadness we share that Professor Alan B. Krueger, beloved husband, father, son, brother, and Princeton professor of economics took his own life over the weekend,” his family said in the statement furnished by the university.

“The family requests the time and space to grieve and remember him.”

He had taught economics at Princeton since 1987. Last week, Krueger delivered a lecture at Stanford University in California on income distribution and labour market regulation titled “Why is Basic Universal Income So Controversial?”

“Alan was recognised as a true leader in his field, known and admired for both his research and teaching,” Princeton said in a statement.

An avid music fan, Krueger posted about Bruce Springsteen and other rock stars on Twitter and wove David Bowie into his lectures. He made this passion the subject of his latest research in his forthcoming book on economics and the music industry, due to be released in June.

Krueger received numerous awards, including the Kershaw Prize from the Association for Public Policy and Management in 1997 for distinguished contributions to public policy analysis by someone under the age of 40.

He is survived by his wife, Lisa, and two children.

Reuters

Nigerians react to factory worker Ade Goodchild’s £71m lottery win

British man, Ade Goodchild, 58, who is the winner of the EuroMillions jackpot of £71m, has attracted the attention of Nigerians on Twitter.

Goodchild, a factory worker from Hereford, has become one of Britain’s biggest ever lottery winner and his name has made Nigerians wonder if he has Nigerian roots.

Reacting to his win, Goodchild said, “I’m not one of these winners who is going to say this win won’t change me.

“It bloody well will, or at least I’ll give it a damn good go. There’ll be no more shift work for me.

“I want to travel, find myself a lovely new home, go to top sporting events, and try many other things besides.”

He said he had an urge to check his ticket on Saturday, instead of waiting for Monday as usual, and did not realise he had won the jackpot at first when he scanned his ticket on the National Lottery App, reports UK Telegraph.

“It gave me the winning ‘ping’ sound and I thought I might have won a fiver or something,” he said.

“But when I checked I thought to hang on, it looks like I’ve won £71,000.

“I put my glasses on to double check and then spotted that it was the jackpot prize and that all my numbers were circled. I thought wow, a lot of people have shared the jackpot this week but fair play. Then I read the prize amount again and realised that it was actually £71 million and just one winner -me.

“It was then that I called my Mum and Dad. Their reaction was one of complete shock — I still don’t think it’s sunk in for them.”

The winning prize – £71,057,439 – is the 15th highest in British lottery history.

See Nigerians’ reactions on Twitter:

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Wale Gates 🇳🇬🇬🇧

@walegates

To every recruiter who didn’t call him back after they saw his name…. Who is laughing now?
Oga Ade! We are family now, I’m Adewale Gates.

See Wale Gates 🇳🇬🇬🇧‘s other Tweets

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu

@Ebuka

Ah!!! All the Nigerian cousins about to resurrect.

LBC Breaking

@lbcbreaking

The winner of a £71 million EuroMillions jackpot is Ade Goodchild from Hereford.

51 people are talking about this

Wale Gates 🇳🇬🇬🇧

@walegates

Our son has made it…
Ade “Omo Dada” Goodchild is a very NIGERIAN name.

LBC Breaking

@lbcbreaking

The winner of a £71 million EuroMillions jackpot is Ade Goodchild from Hereford.

Wale Gates 🇳🇬🇬🇧

@walegates

Our son has made it…
Ade “Omo Dada” Goodchild is a very NIGERIAN name.

LBC Breaking

@lbcbreaking

The winner of a £71 million EuroMillions jackpot is Ade Goodchild from Hereford.

See Wale Gates 🇳🇬🇬🇧‘s other Tweets

Nirav Modi, Indian fugitive billionaire arrested in London

Indian Fugitive billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi had been arrested in London on behalf of his country’s authorities, British police said on Wednesday.

India had asked Britain in August to extradite Modi, one of the main suspects charged in the $2 billion loan fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), India’s biggest banking fraud.

Police said Modi, 48, had been arrested in the Holborn area of central London on Tuesday and was due to appear at London’s Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Punjab National Bank, India’s second-largest state-run bank, in 2018 said that two jewellery groups headed by Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi had defrauded it by raising credit from other Indian banks using illegal guarantees issued by rogue PNB staff.

Modi and Choksi, who have both denied wrongdoing, left India before the details of the fraud became public.

In December, a British court agreed that another high-profile Indian businessman, aviation tycoon Vijay Mallya, could be extradited to his homeland to face fraud charges.

Mallya is currently appealing the decision.

Nigeria ranks 85 on Global Happiness Report

As the world marks the International Day of Happiness, Nigeria is ranked 85 out of 156 countries and second in sub-Saharan Africa.

This is according to the annual Global Happiness Policy Report produced by the Global Happiness Council, which was released on Wednesday.
It was edited by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, Jeffrey D. Sachs, et al.

Nigeria’s ranking is an improvement from its 91 position ranking in 2018.

Finland came first as the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands.

The world’s least happy country is South Sudan followed by Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Yemen, Malawi, Syria, Botswana and Haiti.

The report ranks countries on six key variables that support wellbeing: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity.

This is the seventh World Happiness Report; the first was released in April 2012 in support of a UN High level meeting on “Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm”.

The report presented the available global data on national happiness and reviewed related evidence from the emerging science of happiness.

It showed that the quality of people’s lives can be coherently, reliably, and validly assessed by a variety of subjective wellbeing measures, collectively referred to then and in subsequent reports as “happiness.”

This year, the focus was on happiness and community: how happiness has been changing over the past dozen years, and how information technology, governance and social norms influence communities.

The report showed that the annual data for Finland have continued their modest, but steady upward trend since 2014.

So that dropping 2015 and adding 2018 boosts the average score, thereby putting Finland significantly ahead of other countries in the top 10.

Denmark and Norway have also increased their average scores.

The United States came in the 19th place, dropping one spot since last year and a total of five spots since 2017.

On the whole, Helliwell said: “What stands out about the happiest and most well connected societies is their resilience and ability to deal with bad things.

“After the 2011 earthquake and now the terrorist attack in Christchurch, with high social capital, where people are connected, people rally and help each other and (in after the earthquake) rebuild immediately,’’ he said.

Tabloid spends $200K buying Bezos texts to girlfriend

US tabloid,National Enquirer bought revealing messages between world’s richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his then-secret girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez for $200,000.

Brother of the lady sold the texts to the newspaper, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Enquirer accessed the text messages, and in January reported that Bezos had an extramarital affair with the former news anchor and entertainment reporter — a leak that led to his divorce.

In February, Bezos accused the tabloid’s publisher American Media Inc — led by David Pecker, who has been described as a close friend of Bezos critic President Donald Trump — of trying to blackmail him over lurid photos.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Michael Sanchez sold the text messages, citing people familiar with the matter.

Sanchez told the newspaper he did not want to “dignify” the reporting on the deal and called it “old rumors,” it reported.

Security consultant Gavin de Becker, who was investigating the leak for Bezos, previously told The Daily Beast that “strong leads point to political motives” — and that he was interested in Michael Sanchez, a vocal supporter of Trump with links to his inner circle, as a possible perpetrator.

Bezos, the world’s richest person, owns The Washington Post, a frequent target of Trump as he assails the US media as “enemy of the people” and a source of fake news. The billionaire, his newspaper and Amazon are all regular targets of the president on Twitter.

Chatta Umar, Emir of Patigi is dead

 

The Emir of Patigi in Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara, Alhaji Ibrahim Chatta Umar,  is dead.

Umar reportedly died in Abuja on Tuesday night after a brief illness.

The report of the emir’s death was contained in a message by Muritala
Raheem, Personal Assistant to the Emir of Ilorin and the Chairman of the state’s  Council of Emirs and Obas.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that until his death, the deceased
was the vice chairman of the state’s  traditional council.

The remains of the first class traditional ruler would be buried on
Wednesday in Patigi by 2pm.

Meanwhile, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari,  has expressed shock at  the death of the emir.

Sulu-Gambari  described  the late monarch as highly respected, adding that his demise was a colossal loss to humanity.

The emir in his condolence message signed by the National Secretary of Shehu Alimi Foundation for Peace and Development, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, said that Umar was a true epitome of peace and symbol of unity to the entire Nupe speaking tribes in Kwara and beyond.

According to him, his death will no doubt create a wide vacuum which cannot be forgotten so soon.

He further noted that late  Umar was until his death the vice chairman of the Kwara State Traditional Council and had  used his wealth of experience to promote the council through his numerous outstanding contributions.

“I received the news of his death with rude shock. Etsu Chatta Umar was
a peace loving monarch whose penchant for the growth and development of the emirate and state at large knows no bound. We will surely miss him.

  • “I pray that Almighty Allah will forgive his shortcomings, admit him into Al-Janatul Firdaos and give the family and the entire people of Patigi Emirate Council the fortitude to bear the great loss,’’ he said.

Clinton invites Adewunmi 8 year-old Nigerian chess champion

Former U.S President, Bill Clinton has congratulated the eight year-old Nigerian chess champion, Tanitoluwa Adewunmi and also invited him and his parents to his office for personal introduction.

The young Nigerian recently won the New York State Chess championship for his age bracket.

The New York Times reported that Adewunmi had won seven chess trophies including the state tournament, where he outwitted other children.

The story went viral and got the attention of Clinton.

Tanitoluwa Adewunmi and his family

According to the New York Times, the young chess champion’s family are taking asylum in a homeless shelter in Manhattan after they fled the Boko Haram insurgency since 2018.

Adewunmi, went undefeated at the state tournament, outwitting children from elite private schools with private chess tutors.

Tanitoluwa rating is now 1587 and rising fast and he is being compared with the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen, who stands at 2845.

His feat has attracted commendations from parents and celebrities.

In a tweet on his Twitter handle-@BillClinton, the former number one citizen said: “Refugees enrich our nation and talent is universal, even if opportunity is not.”

The former U.S president now joins the queue of people celebrating the boy and his feats.

Clinton said “this story made me smile, Tanitoluwa “ you exemplify a winning spirit – in chess and in life.”

“And kudos to your hardworking parents. You all should stop by my office in Harlem; I’d love to meet you.”

Tanitoluwa placed first in the New York State Scholastic Championships tournament for kindergarten through third grade, a remarkable win for anyone.

In an interview with New York Times, the young chess champion said: “I want to be the youngest grandmaster.”

Osun governorship tribunal to deliver judgement Friday

The Osun state governorship election tribunal in Abuja has fixed Friday for judgement in the petition filed by Ademola Adeleke, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to challenge the result of the election in the state.

Adeleke is challenging the emergence of Gboyega Oyetola, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the September 2018 election in the state.

At a resumed hearing on March 7, Ibrahim Sirajo, the chairman of the tribunal, had announced that the parties would be sent details of the judgement date 48 hours earlier.

At the hearing, Onyechi Ikpeazu, counsel to the petitioner, had asked the tribunal to uphold the petition and grant his prayers.

Meanwhile, Wole Olanipekun, Oyetola’s counsel; Akin Olujinmi, counsel to the APC and Lasco Pwahomdi, counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition.

Olanipekun said the petition is full of confusion and has breached the electoral law.

“They are also asking the tribunal to quash some of their votes. A self-confessed petitioner, who has in writing, admitted infringing the law, cannot be asking to be returned as a winner of the election,” Olanipekun said.

“In their relief seven, they want the court to nullify the certificate of return, but they failed to present the certificate before the tribunal. Where is that certificate? Can the tribunal nullify what is not before it?

“They said the certificate of return is with us. If it is with us, should they not have given us a notice to produce it? They did not give us notice to produce.”

BPE: No plan to sell Lagos trade fair complex

The Federal Government says it has no plan to sell the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, following a temporary shut down of the facility.

On Monday, the trade groups had protested alleged plans by government to concession the complex to new operators with some of the traders saying there was a planned takeover by a popular politician.

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) had in September approved the revocation of the concession of the complex which was awarded to Aulic Nigeria Limited in 2008.

But in statement on Tuesday, Amina Othman, head, public communications at the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), said the concession process would be transparent.

She said the agency had met with the traders’ association of the complex on March 1 to discuss the reasons why the concession has to be done.   

“The attention of BPE has been drawn to the alleged closure of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex by the Traders’ Associations operating in the Complex and the protest by the said association over the purported sale of the complex,” the statement quoted her as saying.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the bureau states that the Federal Government of Nigeria through the BPE does not intend to sell the complex rather the facility would be concessioned through a competitive transaction process.

“It is for this reason that the government has procured the services of Messrs Feedback Infrastructure Services to advise on the way forward for the proposed concession.

“It is apt to inform the public that the bureau on Friday, March 1, 2019, met with the entire Traders’ Associations to explain the essence of the planned concession.”

Othman said the BPE is willing to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure a smooth and successful completion of the transaction.

Court orders INEC to suspend announcement of Rivers election result

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt the collation and announcement of the result of the March 9 election in Rivers state.

The commission had suspended all electoral processes in the state following widespread violence.

Last week, it announced that results of the elections in 17 local government areas of the state were intact and that it would make public its decision on the election by Wednesday.

However, Iyang Ewa, a member of the panel which presided over a suit filed by the African Action Congress (AAC) ordered the commission to halt its scheduled resumption of the announcement of the results.

The applicant prayed the court for an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, collating or announcing the results of the suspended elections in Rivers.

Ewa ordered INEC to appear before the court on Friday for the hearing of the suit filed against it by AAC.

He also affirmed that the court would give its final order after it concludes the suits brought before it by the plaintiffs.

INEC, represented by Ransome Uwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), approached the court with a motion challenging its jurisdiction.

The judge ordered the electoral umpire to halt the proceedings till the court gives the final order.

PDP: Data from INEC’s server showed Atiku defeated Buhari with 1.6 million votes

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has claimed that he defeated President Muhammadu Buhari by 1,615,302 votes.

According to Punch, Atiku made the claim in a petition he and his party filed before the presidential election tribunal.

The  newspaper quoted the petitioners as saying data from the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shows the true and correct results from state to state computation.

In the 139-page document, they said Atiku garnered a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari, who reportedly polled 16,741,430 votes.

They said the results were the total votes scored by the candidates in 35 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja, since there was no report on the sever showing results from Rivers state as of February 25, 2019.

According to the result declared by INEC from the 36 states and the FCT, Buhari polled 15,191,847, while Atiku came second with 11,262,978 votes.

Atiku had rejected the result, alleging widespread irregularities. He had asked the tribunal to declare him authentic winner of the election or order that a fresh poll be conducted.

Relying on 50 sets of documents, the petition listed INEC as its first respondent, Buhari and the APC as the second and third respondents.

The petition also raised the allegation that Buhari was unqualified to vie for the presidential election considering that he did not possess the minimum qualification of a school certificate as required by the constitution.

“The 2nd respondent (Buhari) was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election,” the petition read.

“The election of the 2nd respondent is invalid by reason of corrupt practices.

“The election of the 2nd Respondent is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

“The 2nd respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election.

“The 2nd respondent submitted to the 1st Respondent an affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election.”

PDP threatens to stop Buhari’s inauguration

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the court order stopping the collation of pending results of the Bauchi governorship election.

The party described the order as unconstitutional, and threatened to obtain similar ones stopping the swearing in of all candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) “particularly President Muhammadu Buhari”.

A federal high court in Abuja had given an ex parte order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt the collation of results from Tafawa Balewa local government area of Bauchi state.

The court gave the order while ruling on a suit filed by Mohammed Abubakar, governor of the state who is of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Reacting via a statement, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesman, accused the APC of arm-twisting the judiciary over the election which he claims his party has won.

“Our party should not be constrained into a situation in which we will have no option than to allow our members to seek similar ex parte orders to halt statutory processes including the swearing-in of APC candidates at various levels, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari,” Ologbondiyan said.

“The party alerts that such development, which is akin to the infamous order that derailed the 1993 democratic process, is part of the plot by the APC and certain compromised elements in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to escalate crisis and derail our electoral process.

“The power to collate, suspend collation and or to reverse such decision based on obvious circumstances as the case in Bauchi is clearly within the domain of INEC.”

The party added that until collation is completed and results declared, “no one can question the constitutional powers of INEC.”

“Our party should not be constrained into a situation in which we will have no option than to allow our members to seek similar exparte orders to halt statutory processes including the swearing-in of APC candidates at various levels, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari,” it said.

“It is clear that collation of result is part of the electoral process and that INEC cannot act on a purported exparte order to jettison its independence and halt the collation of results, which is a key component of its statutory electoral duty.

“Our party therefore charges INEC to be properly guided by the law in this regard.”

JUST IN: Buhari rejects five more National Assembly bills

President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected five bills transmitted to him by the National Assembly.

The bills are Nigerian Film Commission bill, Immigration Amendment bill 2018, Climate change bill 2018, Chartered Institute of Pension Practitioners bill 2018 and Digital Rights and Freedom bill.

The president’s decision to withhold assent to the bills was conveyed via a letter read during plenary on Wednesday.

The president’s reasons for not assenting to the bills, as contained in the letter, range from conflicting and duplication of duties of existing government agencies, their destructive nature as well as lack of clarity.

This comes a day after he rejected two bills passed by the legislative chamber . The development brings to 13, the number of bills Buhari has rejected in 2019.

1.6 million votes claim: APC says PDP inflicted by ‘post-defeat hallucination’

The All Progressives Congress (APC) says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Atiku Abubakar, its presidential candidate, have “slipped into severe depression”.

The APC said this in reaction to PDP’s claim that it won the presidential poll by 1.6 million votes.

The opposition party based its claims on the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It filed the claim in its petition before the presidential election tribunal.

But reacting in a statement, Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC spokesman, said the claim is ridiculous.

“While the APC is not oblivious of the PDP’s antics to discredit the credible presidential electoral process, acknowledged by local and international observers, we sympathise with Atiku for the crushing defeat handed him by President Buhari through the votes of Nigerians,” Issa-Onilu said.

“Judging by Atiku and PDP’s recent utterances and actions, it is now clear that they have slipped into severe depression and post-defeat hallucination that have left many Nigerians questioning their current state of mind.

“After weeks of dilly-dallying, the PDP has woken up to the stark reality of its electoral defeat and decided to follow the constitutional path of filing a petition at the election tribunal.

“However, of all the prayers of Atiku before the election tribunal, which are at best hollow, the most ridiculous is his claim that the server of the INEC indicated he won the presidential election by 1.6million votes.

“A few questions would suffice – is this phantom figure of 1.6 million votes Dubai-invented? Was the result sold to Atiku by his numerous marabouts, who we understand, had assured him that the last election was a done deal for him?”

Issa-Onilu said the PDP’s “consistent reference” to INEC server should be a cause for concern.

He said it is possible that the opposition party has plans to jeopardise INEC’s database, calling on security agencies to foil the “evil plan”.

“Most importantly, we note Atiku’s consistent reference to the INEC server as if he is the custodian of that platform. Indeed, Atiku’s constant reference to the INEC server should raise concerns as it is becoming apparent that he and the PDP are up for some dastard activities that are targeted at jeopardising the INEC database and internal storage system,” he said.

“We recall the widespread reported cases of several programmed card readers that were retrieved from some PDP agents and their failed attempt to hack the INEC database in the leadup to the then postponed presidential election.

“We remind the Atiku and PDP that Nigerians saw through the devious schemes aimed at thwarting their will. Consequently, majority of the voters handed them a harsh verdict — that verdict remains sacrosanct.”