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Jega: Some lecturers in Kano conspired with politicians to rig elections

Prof Attahiru Jega, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has faulted Nigeria’s electoral system which he says has been under assault.

Jega also alleged politicians used university lecturers to commit irregularities during the elections, particularly in Kano state.

According to Guardian, the former INEC chairman spoke at the annual conference of the Fulbright Alumni Association of Nigeria at Bayero University Kano (BUK).

He said the BUK lecturers who worked with politicians to perpetrate “all sorts of irregularities” betrayed the confidence reposed on them by compromising the electoral process.

A former vice-chancellor of BUK, Jega oversaw the 2015 election which was widely described free and fair.

“I think the major crisis in Nigeria’s democracy is that our electoral integrity has been under assault, compromised and undermined by those who have control over the process,” he said.

“Look at what happened during the last elections, and the story of irregularities being spread even in the four walls of BUK.

“The politicians, through crooked means, got alliances with lecturers in the university to compromise the system and they perpetrated all sort of irregularities, which pave way for a faulty process for the continued entrenchment of bad people in governance.

“Maybe, I am preaching to the converted or I am talking nonsense but frankly speaking, I am beginning to think that we are not taking the obligations of scholarship and intellectual engagement with the seriousness it deserves.”

INEC server: Atiku to invite Microsoft, IBM, Oracle experts as witnesses

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election, is willing to engage experts from Microsoft, IBM and Oracle to verify his claim that the servers belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed that he defeated President Muhammadu Buhari by 1,615,302 votes.

INEC’s polling figures from the 36 states and federal capital territory (FCT) gave Buhari 15,191,847 votes, while Atiku came second with 11,262,978 votes.

But in his petition submitted at the tribunal, the PDP candidate alleged that he garnered a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari, who, according to him, polled 16,741,430 votes in the presidential election held on February 23.

INEC, in response, said the results being paraded by Atiku was fabricated and not from its website.

But in their response to the INEC’s submission, a copy of which was obtained by TheCable, Atiku and the PDP said address of the server from which the results were obtained is unique to INEC.

“The Servers from which the said figures were derived belong to the first Respondent (INEC). The figures and votes were transmitted to the first Respondent’s Presidential Result’s Server 1 and thereafter aggregated in INEC_PRES_RSLT_SRV2019, whose Physical Address or unique Mac Address is 94-57-A5-DC-64-B9 with Microsoft Product ID 00252-7000000000-AA535. The above descriptions are unique to the 15t Respondent’s Server,” they said.

According to PUNCH, Atiku and the PDP would rely on the services of some prominent technology companies to argue the case at the presidential election tribunal.

“The petitioners will at the trial of this petition rely on experts on Microsoft, IBM and Oracle, amongst others,” they added.

JUST IN: Fayemi wins as supreme court dismisses Oni’s appeal

The Supreme Court has dismissed the suit of Segun Oni, a former governor of Ekiti state, who challenged the candidature of Kayode Fayemi.

Oni had filed the suit after losing the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ticket to Fayemi in 2018.

In a unanimous judgement on Wednesday, the five-man panel held that the appeal by Oni was without merit.

In the lead judgement, Amiru Sanusi held that the case was not opened at the trial court, within the required time, as stipulated under the Forth Alteration Act.

Oni had asked a federal high court in Ekiti to determine if it was proper for Fayemi, who was at the time minister for solid minerals, to contest the primary without resigning as a member of the federal cabinet.

He also asked the court to determine if Fayemi’s action did not violate the Nigerian constitution and the guidelines of the ruling party primary.

El-Rufai’s resignation order – Full list of those affected

Governor Nasir El-Rufai has directed political appointees in Kaduna  state to resign by 30th April 2019.

According to a statement signed  by Samuel Aruwan,Senior Special Assistant to the Governor (Media & Publicity) the governor has directed all appointed to submit their letters of resignation on the said date.

According to Aruwan, “Each notice of resignation must be submitted along with a handover note, signed by the political appointee on behalf of the MDA or office to which he or she had been appointed. All resignation letters should be properly addressed to the Principal Private Secretary.”

The statement, which also contains the list of those expected to tender  their resignation letters reads:

“As he commences selecting the team for his second-term in office, Governor Nasir El-Rufai has directed all political appointees to submit letters of resignation by 30th April 2019. The governor will exercise his constitutional prerogative to decide on re-appointments while giving the Kaduna State Ministry of Finance adequate time to compute severance payments and reconcile any liabilities.

“According to the directive, each notice of resignation must be submitted along with a handover note, signed by the political appointee on behalf of the MDA or office to which he or she had been appointed. All resignation letters should be properly addressed to the Principal Private Secretary.

“A government notice issued in Kaduna State stated that Malam Nasir El-Rufai has thanked all political appointees for their contributions and service to the state during his first-term. As he constitutes the team that will assist him in his second-term, the governor said he expects the process to be enriched by the handover notes from the political appointees, and the report of the Transition Committee headed by the Deputy Governor-elect, Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe.

THE LIST: “The government notice specified that the following appointees are expected to comply with the directive:
• All Commissioners in the State Executive Council,
• All Permanent Secretaries,
• Special Advisers,
• Directors-General, Executive Secretaries, Managing Directors, General Managers and other Heads of Agencies,
• Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants and Technical Assistants to the Governor, other than the Kashim Ibrahim Fellows.

“Excluded from compliance with this directive are full-time Commissioners of certain State Executive bodies who retain their tenured appointments in the following agencies:

i. Fiscal Responsibility Commission
ii. Civil Service Commission
iii. Judicial Service Commission
iiii. Assembly Service Commission
v. The State Independent Electoral Commission (SIECOM)
vi. The Peace Commission
vii. Public Procurement Authority
viii. Water Regulatory Authority

“Due to recent adjustments in roles within the government, the occupants of and recent appointees into the following offices are also exempted from the directive to resign:
a. Commissioner of Finance
b. Principal Private Secretary
c. Accountant-General
d. Special Adviser, Intergovernmental Relations
e. Managing Director, Kaduna Markets Development Company
f. Managing Director, Kaduna Investment and Finance Company, and
g. Any other political appointee sworn-in or appointed to their current role within the last six months.”

Supreme Court to give verdict on Fayemi’s eligibility

The Supreme Court will on Wednesday deliver judgment in the appeal filed by former Ekiti State Governor Segun Oni challenging the eligibility of Governor Kayode Fayemi to stand as a candidate in the July 14, 2018, governorship poll.

Oni in the suit claimed that Fayemi was not eligible to run as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate having not resigned as Minister of Mines and Steel Development 30 days before the party’s primary election.

The ex-governor who came second in the APC governorship primary also claimed that Fayemi shouldn’t have contested on the strength of an indictment by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by former Governor Ayo Fayose.

The Panel’s White Paper which indicted Fayemi and banned him from office for 10 years has been quashed by a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.

Oni’s cases before a Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti and the Court of Appeal, Ado Ekiti were dismissed for lacking merit.

The judgment notice of the case marked SC 205/2019 which was seen by our reporter was signed by one Ibrahim Gold, Director/Head of Litigation, on behalf of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court.

The notice reads: “Take notice that the judgment on the above appeal will be delivered at 9.00hrs before the Supreme Court of Nigeria sitting at Abuja on Wednesday the 17th day of April, 2019.

“And further take notice that this Notice is deemed sufficiently served on you if it is delivered on your legal e-mail or/and telephone via this number even if same is not acknowledged.

“This Notice Supersedes the earlier one.”

Nnamdi Kanu offers to give Atiku legal advice over Cameroon citizenship debate

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has offered free legal advice to Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Speaking during a broadcast on Radio Biafra, Kanu said Atiku’s defence in court regarding his citizenship is “weak and porous”.

The PDP candidate had gone to court to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.

But the APC in its defence, told the court Atiku is not a Nigerian by birth and as such, is not qualified to contest the election.

The issue of Atiku’s citizenship was first raised by Kanu in the build up to the 2019 elections.

In his latest broadcast, Kanu said he merely used the issue of “Atiku’s citizenship of Nigeria, via a referendum”, to buttress his point about the need for a referendum on Biafra.

“When I first raised this issue, which incidentally has been ignored by all arms of government including INEC whose duty it is to ensure that candidates meet all stipulated constitutional requirements, it was not to insinuate or imply that Atiku is not a Nigerian, but rather to highlight the very constitutionally critical point at the heart of IPOB agitation for Biafra independence; which is that asking for a referendum is never a crime in any law known to man,” he said.

“However, the weak and porous argument Atiku’s defence team is making in response to this line of attack by APC is to say that, ‘it is ludicrous to allege that a man who became Nigeria’s vice-president, who has lived, invested and paid tax in the country for years is not a citizen.

“This is a wholly unnecessary digression that failed to address the constitutional question of place of birth as key qualification for anybody seeking to become the president of Nigeria. That Atiku was the Vice President is not the issue at hand but rather his suitability as defined by the constitution of Nigeria.”

He said APC putting up the argument in court is a “vindication that everything I say on Radio Biafra is the truth.”

“It may appear outlandish and unbelievable at first, but eventually history always vindicate me. It is now over the Atiku’s team to unleash what they have against Jubril,” he said.

“I will offer free legal advice to Atiku live on air in the hope that they will use it because it is obvious Atiku won the election and APC are deploying all instruments of coercion at the disposal of the Nigerian state to deny him his mandate. Between Atiku and the man occupying Aso Rock, only Atiku is a Nigerian, the other is Sudanese.”

Atiku releases ‘evidence’ of election result from INEC website

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has insisted the result from the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shows he defeated President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election.

In his submission to the presidential election tribunal, the former vice president gave the “unique MAC address and Microsoft product ID of the INEC server” from where the results were obtained.

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

But in his petition submitted at the tribunal, the PDP candidate claimed he garnered a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari, who, according to him, polled 16,741,430 votes.

INEC, in response, said the results being paraded by Atiku was fabricated and not from its website.

But in their response to the INEC’s submission, a copy of which was obtained by TheCable, Atiku and the PDP said address of the server from which the results were obtained is unique to INEC.

“The Servers from which the said figures were derived belong to the first Respondent (INEC). The figures and votes were transmitted to the first Respondent’s Presidential Result’s Server 1 and thereafter aggregated in INEC_PRES_RSLT_SRV2019, whose Physical Address or unique Mac Address is 94-57-A5-DC-64-B9 with Microsoft Product ID 00252-7000000000-AA535. The above descriptions are unique to the 15t Respondent’s Server,” they said.

“There is no conjecture in the votes and scores in the table pleaded by the Petitioners. The figures are factual. The Spokesperson for the 2nd Respondent’s Campaign Organization openly admitted that the data in question was in the first Respondent’s Server when he wrote and submitted a petition to the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) asking the Security agencies to investigate the 2nd Petitioner herein for allegedly hacking into the Server of the 1St Respondent and obtaining the data in question.

“Specifically, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, the Spokesperson of the 2nd Respondent claimed in the said petition that it was the first Petitioner who smuggled the data into the Server.”

Atiku and the PDP also alleged the INEC chairman “committed grave errors in the final collation exercise” for the election by “falsely crediting” some persons with political parties, including “Okotie Christopher, Reverend Dr. Onwubuya and Ojinika Jeff Chinze.”

“The grave errors referred to in paragraphs 4 and 5 above were under the hands and signature of the first Respondent’s Chairman, (who was also the Returning Officer) in the conduct of the final collation of the results of the Presidential Election,” they added.

“The Petitioners state that the final results as declared by the first respondent are those that were transmitted online to the website of the first Respondent (www inecnigeria.org).”

Atiku scammed, no poll result on server, says INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission said it never transmitted the 2019 presidential election result on a server as claimed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The rebuttal was stated in INEC’s reply to the petition filed by Atiku and PDP challenging the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, as declared by INEC on 27 February.

The commission, which is being represented by Yunus Usman (SAN), as lead counsel, said the results of the poll were never transmitted or collated electronically.

The vehement dismissal of Atiku and PDP’s claim meant that the petitioners must have been scammed to believe that the results were stored electronically.

To be sure, INEC added in its response, that it kept no such server where such electronically transmitted results could have been obtained.

INEC on February 27, 2019, four days after the poll on 23 Februaray, declared that the All Progressives Congress candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, won with 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku, who polled 11,262,978 votes.

But the petitioners stated that “from the data in the 1st respondent’s (INEC’s) server…the true, actual and correct results” from the “state to state computation” showed that Atiku polled a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari who they said scored 16,741,430 votes.

They said the results were the total votes scored by the candidates in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, as there was “no report on sever” about the results from Rivers State as of February 25, 2019.

By calculation, Atiku and the PDP claimed to have defeated Buhari by 1,615,302 votes. But the commission, urging the tribunal to dismiss the petition, said in its reply filed on April 10, that the petitioners’ claims were false.

The INEC’s Director, Information and Communications Technology, Mr Chidi Nwafor, in his witness statement on oath attached to the reply, specifically denied the “server results” which the petitioners were laying claim to.

He said all the results were collated manually and were never transmitted electronically.

9th Assembly: APC clears Lawan, others to consult PDP colleagues

All Progressives Congress (APC) National Assembly members on Sunday got the nod to negotiate with the opposition in their bid for principal positions in the Ninth Assembly.

It is democratic to do so, the party said in a statement signed by National Publicity Secretary Lanre Issa-Onilu, who stressed that the party has nothing against its members seeking cooperation with other legislators as it is confident that they will not betray the party.

There has been reports of Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan, who has been adopted for Senate President, holding meetings with members of the opposition, but Issa-Onilu said that Lawan was adopted by the party for the position in the first place because of his ability to carry everyone along, which is needed for such a position.

He also said that the party will announce its zoning arrangement for the National Assembly leadership in the coming days.

The statement reads: “We are inundated with reports of our members in the National Assembly holding consultations with members of the opposition over the election of leaders into the Ninth National Assembly. Let me state that our party has no objection to such consultations.

“It is a normal democratic practice world over to stretch hands across the divides.  And contrary to some media reports, the actions of our members do not contradict the party’s position. APC has a comfortable majority in both chambers. Therefore; we have the number to produce the leadership.

“But democracy recognises the importance of the opposition, especially when you do not have two-third, which would be required at some very critical situations. For us as a ruling party, we understand that a stable and peaceful National Assembly would enhance our capacity to deliver more for the people of Nigeria.

“So, the party is not averse to negotiation by Senator Ahmed Lawan and our other senators-elect working to fulfil the position taken by our party.

“It is important to note that one of the key considerations for adopting him as the party’s candidate for the Senate presidency is his ability to carry everyone along. On top of that, the party has confidence in him not to compromise the progressive ideology of APC. So, clearly, Senator Ahmed Lawan is capable of conducting his negotiations within the prism of APC’s objectives.”

On zoning and the leadership of the House of Representatives, Issa-Onilu  assured Nigerians that the party will put to rest ongoing agitations and “will soon release the zoning arrangements for the principal positions of the incoming Ninth National Assembly.

“The party will also make its position clear in the coming days on the principal positions in the House of Representatives,” the party’s spokesman said.

He said that the nationwide consultations being championed by the Senate Leader and Leader of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, who is seeking to become the Speaker of the Green Chamber, were in line with the party’s policy of inclusiveness.

According to him, national interest is guiding the ongoing rapprochement between APC’s candidates and members-elect from the opposition.

Issa-Onilu said: “It is just part of politics and in a democracy, consensus is a key element. To have a smooth sail in the National Assembly, you don’t go to the floor pretending that the opposition parties do not exist.

“Even if the opposition parties cannot defeat you, in the spirit of national interest, you must work with them. We want to run a government of inclusiveness, we need every party.

“We will support every effort by our candidates for principal offices in the Senate and the House of Representatives to carry elected members from the opposition along.

“As long as we can, we will keep our members-elect united to present common candidates to lead the National Assembly. The fact that we are saying that we can go it alone is not the same thing as saying that the opposition does not matter.

“We have the numbers to achieve our aim but we have to ensure comfort for the opposition too. Unlike in the past, what we are pushing before the 9th National Assembly is a national interest agenda.

“We want them to see our candidates within the prism of the national agenda we are pursuing.”

The Senate Leader at the weekend had audience with more senators-elect from PDP.

He was busy selling his vision of a united Ninth National Assembly.

A PDP senator-elect said: “Actually, Lawan met with us to seek our support. He tried to make a few clarifications which boosted our confidence in him.

“It is not a party affair at all. It is left to individual senator to decide who to vote for.”

Lamido didn’t import fetish blind men for Bindow’s election, says royal family

The Modibbo Adama Descendants Liaison Office, a body of descendants of the founding Lamido of Adamawa, has dismissed claims that the incumbent Lamido, Muhammadu Musdafa, imported three blind men from Burkina Faso “to perform fetish” acts to win the March 9 governorship election for Governor Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow.

The group described the claim as a brazen and misguided form of hate speech by its author, Ibrahim Mustapha, otherwise called Baba 10, in an advertorial published in a newspaper.

The Modibbo Adama Descendants Liaison Office said the “cock and bull story of the three blind men” was an obnoxious and unfounded claim intended to tarnish the image of the Lamido Adamawa and the traditional institution.

The body also faulted the claim by Mustapha that the reigning Lamido was foisted on the emirate, asserting that the Lamido ascended the throne in March 2010, when a duly formed kingmakers committee selected him and was approved by the state government.

The Adama Modibbo descendants, in a refutal signed by its liaison officer, Aminu Nyibango, said the claim and other allegations were calculated to insult the Lamido and desecrate the legacy of the founder of the throne.

“Evidently, the euphoria of the author on the victory of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the recent governorship election in Adamawa State has provided a platform for him to launch another wave of blackmail and mischief in the media.

“The author, who was defeated as a candidate of another political party for the seat of House of Representatives, hijacked the victory of the PDP candidate to vent his anger and frustration,” the group stated.

The group demanded formal apology from the author of the controversial advertorial.

Atiku disowns ‘Pukka’ billboards, posters in Abuja, Yola

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar has disowned campaign posters titled “The Pukka’’ that festooned some of the major streets of the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

Atiku disowned the posters in a statement issued by his media adviser, Mr Paul Ibe, on Wednesday.

Pukka, an Hindi word, means “authentic, genuine, sure, solid and excellent”.

The posters boldly carry Abubakar’s portrait and the message, ‘HE Atiku Abubakar GCON, The Real and The Right’, with a web address www.deservation.org, which the News Agency of Nigeria found belongs to a group of the same name based in Magaji/Sanda ward in Yola.

NAN correspondent in Yola confirmed that the posters have also appeared on some streets in the capital of Adamawa, Atiku’s home state.

Dr.Sani Adamu, the director-general of the Atiku Deservation Group, an Atiku Abubakar campaign group, claimed the group was not waging a political campaign or breaching the campaign rules of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“Our attention has been drawn to posters of Abubakar, Presidential candidate of PDP in the 2019 election being circulated in Abuja”, said Paul Ibe in a statement.

“We dissociate the former Vice President of Nigeria from the said posters in circulation. The campaign season is over. The tainted electoral victory by the incumbent is being challenged in court.

“We refuse to be distracted, which is exactly the objective of our opponents, but to remain focused on diligently pursuing our election petition with a view to retrieving the stolen mandate.’’

Ibe earlier in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said that the posters had nothing to do with the just concluded elections and the PDP Presidential Campaign Organization had no connection with it.

“I have not seen the posters. I am just hearing it from you. We are not aware of it. Whatever it is it not connected to the PDP campaign organisation.

“The campaign season has long been over but following the electoral hype by the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abubakar, as a democrat has submitted himself to the electoral tribunal to decide on matters arising from the concluded election.’’

A search on the web address (www.deservation.org) shows Atiku Deservation Movement (Project 774 for Atiku 2019) with RC 1167591 with the contact Magaji/Sanda Ward Yola South Adamawa State as well as phone number and a mail address.

The boldness of the campaign and the meaning it connotes have triggered questions whether the group behind it has not breached the electoral law. The campaign for presidential election began on 19 November 2018 and officially ended 48 hours to the election initially scheduled for 16 February, 2019.

Section 99(1) of the Electoral Act, 1999 as amended states that every political party shall commence campaigns 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day.

Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of  the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in an interview with NAN, said that the posters could not be considered as campaign materials.

Oyekanmi, who said he had not seen any of the posters said if a poster has no party logo or name, the commission does not consider it to be campaign materials.

“Is there anything like party name or logo on it? If a poster does not contain any of these or ‘vote for a person’ the commission does not see it as campaign.The election is over and I wonder if anybody will be campaigning for an election that had been concluded,’’ Oyekanmi said.

Dr. Sani Adamu, the Executive Director of the Deservation group in a telephone interview with NAN, justified the poster’s PUKKA theme. He claimed that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the PDP in the just concluded presidential election is Nigeria’s authentic president.

Reminded that Abubakar already has a case before the presidential election petition tribunal, Adamu expressed confidence that Abubakar would get justice at the tribunal.

He insisted that the posters in circulation were not for campaign, adding that they did not carry the logo of any political party.

He also explained that the posters did not carry ‘vote’ Abubakar, insisting that it was not for campaign.

He said that the group was established to galvanise support for credible candidates that can make Nigeria great.

“We support only candidates and not political parties,” he said.

Abubakar was also recently reported to have hired two American lawyers, close to President Donald Trump, to lobby Trump’s inner circle and the Congress, so that the United States can delay recognising President Muhammadu Buhari as the elected President of Nigeria. He also wanted to be recognised ‘as the authentic President’ of Nigeria, going by the claims he has made at the tribunal.

PDP abusing freedom of speech, says AGF

Abubakar Malami, attorney general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, has accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of “taking the freedom of speech too far”.

Malami was reacting to the allegations that he was involved in a plot to cause constitutional crisis in Rivers state.

The PDP had alleged that Malami and Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, were pressuring the supreme court to reverse the nullification of the primaries of Rivers chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

The court had upheld the verdict of the trial court that excluded the APC from participating in the general election that held in the state, ruling that the APC did not conduct credible primary elections.

But fielding questions from state house correspondents on the outcome of the federal executive council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday  Malami said “the PDP has taken freedom of speech too far.”

He said unless otherwise proven in court that he is involved in the act, the allegation will remain an accusation.

“Regarding what was leveled against me by PDP, I think it remains an accusation. It has to remain so until proven through a judicial process,” he said.

“But for me I think it is freedom of speech that has been taken too far.”

Courts have legitimised vote buying – Falana

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the courts have legitimised vote buying.

Speaking on Wednesday at the ninth forum of the anti-corruption situation room in Abuja, Falana said since 1999, the purchase of votes has been the order of the day.

He said measures should be put in place in a bid to reform the country’s process “in a way that we will not be all collectively disgraced.”

The event was organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and some civil society groups.

“Unfortunately, under the current political dispensation, our courts have legitimised vote-buying and other violations of the provisions of the electoral act,” Falana said.

“I will refer to few cases. In the case of Falae and Obasanjo, in 1999, it was proved in the court of appeal that bags of rice, salt and garri were distributed to entice voters for the candidate of the ruling party, general Olusegun Obasanjo.

“The court of appeal so found such infraction of the law, however it turned round to say even those distributing were said to be PDP stalwarts, the court of appeal said it was not proven that there were winners of the election.

“Since then, the purchase of votes, bribing of voters have been the order of the day.

“The battle ahead is how we are going to reform the democratic session in a way that we will not be all collectively disgraced. We have never gone this low where publicly people are trading in votes. We never went that low.”

Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said vote buying comprises the free choice of the voter.

Yakubu, who was represented by Festus Okoye, national commissioner, urged the national assembly to clearly define what vote buying is and provide stiff sanctions.

Atiku denies hiring US lobbyist, blames APC for ‘fabrication’

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has denied hiring a US lobbyist firm to advance in his bid to take over power from President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement on Wednesday, Atiku, a former vice-president, said the reports of the alleged contract is a handiwork of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Atiku is at the presidential election tribunal to challenge the declaration of Buhari as winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to a report by Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP), Bruce Fein, former justice department official and his firm Fein & DelValle PLLC registered as foreign agents of PDP and Atiku on March 24.

The report said the firm is expected to “encourage Congress and the executive to forbear from a final declaration and recognition of Nigeria’s February 23, 209 presidential election until outstanding legal challenges to the initial government of Nigeria assertion that incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari was the victor are impartially and independently resolved by the supreme court of Nigeria without political or military influence, intimidation or manipulation.”

But in the statement issued on his behalf by Paul Ibe, his spokesman, Atiku dismissed the report as “total fabrication” by the APC, adding that it “didn’t come as a surprise to us because lying has become their only bragging rights of competence.”

The statement added that “since Atiku resisted pressure not to go to court, the APC has been behaving like a cat on hot bricks because the outcome of the 2019 elections has exposed and shattered the facade of their dubious integrity.”

“The APC are behaving nervously like a thief living under the fear of being exposed and shamed; they are now using fake news against Atiku instead of focusing on defending themselves in the court,” the statement read.

“For a party that has broken the worst record in election rigging, the APC doesn’t have any iota of integrity to be taken seriously by anybody.

“Atiku’s court case has become their biggest burden because it exposes their integrity as a sham, and instead of defending their stolen mandate in court, they are now using fake news to divert public attention from the historic electoral heist they have committed against Nigerians.

“No amount of diversionary propaganda and fake news campaign by APC will stop Atiku Abubakar from continuing the court action he started to reclaim the stolen mandate.”

Ambode inaugurates transition committee

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, on Tuesday, inaugurated a 20-man transition committee to ensure a smooth transition of power from the outgoing administration to the incoming.

Ambode was represented at the event, which was held in Ikeja, by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello, who is also Co-Chairman of the committee.

He said that the inauguration was imperative to ensure that the machinery of government continued to roll smoothly.

Ambode said the committee was organised to maintain stability, build on solid status of the state and ensure seamless transition to incoming administration of All Progressives Congress (APC) Governor-elect, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat.

In his response, APC Deputy Governor-elect and Co-Chairman of the Committee, Hamzat assured that the handover would be a seamless one.

Earlier in his welcome address, Lagos State Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, described the transition as a result of the success of the APC in the last elections.

Muri-Okunola said that on May 29, the baton of leadership of the state would be handed over to a new administration, hence the need for a transition committee.

Members of the Committee include the Head of Service, Muri-Okunola; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem; Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade; Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Ade Akinsanya; Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr Obafela Bank-Olemoh; and Special Adviser on Urban Development, Mrs Yetunde Onabule.

Other members are Permanent Secretary, Works and Infrastructure, Mr Jimi Hotonu; Accountant General and Permanent Secretary Treasury Office, Mr Abimbola Umar; Permanent Secretary, Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Abayomi Kadiri.

Mr Ayo Gbeleyi; Sam Ngube; Dr Muyiwa Gbadegesin; Mr Tayo Bamgbose-Martins; Mr Bayo Sotade; Solape Hammond; Mrs Bunmi Fabanwo; Mrs. Bukola Odoe and Mrs Toke Benson Awoyinka are also members.

Buhari group asks security agencies to investigate Atiku

The Buhari Media Organisation, BMO on Tuesday asked security agencies to investigate what it described as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar’s “unholy romance with foreign bodies especially the United States of America, in pursuit of a mandate he never had.”

The group which made the call in a statement by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju; and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, accused Atiku of seeking to destabilise the country in a bid to realise his failed presidential ambition.

It claimed that the former vice president had been lobbying the US authorities to recognise him as Nigeria’s President despite his electoral defeat in the February 23 election.

The BMO said Atiku’s action was treasonable with dire consequences. “We had in the past drawn attention to the desperation of the failed PDP presidential candidate to rule Nigeria at all cost, and it is becoming more obvious with his latest gambit.

“Not satisfied with pushing out cooked-up figures which he and his party claimed they got from the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission and are using as the basis of their legal challenge at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, Alhaji Abubakar is now using lobbyists in order to con the United States to his side.

“We at BMO are not surprised because we had raised the alarm even before the election that the PDP elements had been preparing ground for what they called a ‘Venezuelan option’ by instigating the international community against the President Buhari-led administration, and by raising all sorts of false alarms.

“Now that news has filtered out that Atiku has hired some prominent American lawyers to lobby the US Congress and the Executive to recognise him as President, it is shocking that a man who rose to the position of vice president can be engaging in acts that amount to treasonable felony, especially as the legally authorised body in election matters, INEC, declared that he lost the presidential election.”

The group further claimed that increasing insecurity in parts of the country was planned to make President Muhammadu Buhari appear helpless.

It added, “We have seen how banditry has suddenly threatened to spiral out of control in Zamfara State and some other parts of North-Western Nigeria almost immediately after the election.

“These are places that were relatively peaceful before and during the election and which also had a reasonable turn out of voters.

“It should not be a surprise that this spectre of violence is deliberately orchestrated and coordinated as part of a game plan to make the incumbent President look helpless and win US support for the failed PDP presidential candidate who is not even known to be popular in that part of the country.”

The pro-Buhari group urged the US authorities to guard against being used by those it described as unpatriotic Nigerians to work against an election that their representatives in the country had hailed as largely free and fair.

It added that main local election observer groups validated Buhari’s victory as declared by INEC.

Over 30 APC senators are ‘backing Ndume’ for senate presidency

At least 36 senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are backing Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south, for the position of senate president, a senator-elect who did not want to be named, has said.

The senator-elect, who is from the north, disclosed this on Tuesday while speaking with select journalists on the sidelines of the induction exercise for members of the incoming national assembly at Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja.

Although, the APC has already thrown its weight behind Ahmad Lawan, senate leader, for the position, Ndume is insisting on running.

After a meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday, Ndume told reporters that he would still contest for the number one position in the senate.

The senator-elect said some of them are angry because “juicy” committees have been shared among those supporting Lawan.

“There are about 36 senators-elect who are rooting for Ndume and that is because we are angry about how they are going about this senate presidency thing,” he said.

“How will Lawan suggest that APC senators have donated their senators-elect for him to realise his senate presidency bid. They have gone ahead to share committees already excluding us.

“Things are not done that way.”

He said those supporting Ndume are angry over the “bullying” by Adams Oshiomhole, APC national chairman.

The APC won 62 senate seats in the 2019 election.

Recently, Eyinnaya Abaribe, senator representing Abia south, said Oshiomhole was not in a position to dictate to them on who to elect into the office of number three citizen.

Atiku hires new US lobbyists for recognition as ‘president-elect’

Atiku Abubakar, the defeated presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party is not solely casting his lot on his legal challenge of President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the 23 February election as he has enlisted the assistance of two high-powered Washington, D.C. lawyers.

Their role will be to lobby those in President Donald Trump’s inner circle and the US Congress to delay recognising Buhari as the winner as declared by Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) on 27 February. Instead, Atiku craved to be recognised as the ‘authentic president’ of Nigeria.

In addition, he has set up what he called a “US Situation Room’.

Bruce Fein, a former Justice Department official and his firm Fein & DelValle PLLC and W. Bruce DelValle are the new lobbyists hired by the failed candidate. They were registered as foreign agents on Abubakar’s behalf, according to a report by the Centre for Responsive Politics, a research group that tracks money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. The report was published on opensecrets.org

According to Opensecrets.org, Delvalle, one of the lawyers, has a varied background tackling civil rights and constitutional law issues, litigating intellectual property and liability disputes, along with representing a number of sports and entertainment personalities. Fein on the other hand was the associate deputy attorney general in Ronald Reagan’s administration and general counsel to the FCC. He was reported to have played a significant role in the repeal of the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine.” He also later worked with then-Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) in drafting articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton.

Atiku’s liaison with the American lawyers is a Nigerian lawyer, Lloyd Ukwu, who was described as the failed candidate’s confidant.

In the run-up to the election and Abubakar’s controversial visit to the United States, weeks to the election, Abubakar and his party hired political consultants such as Riva Levinson, who worked with Paul Manafort, and Brian Ballard, a major Trump fundraiser.

“The filing also asserts that the lobbying effort will demonstrate that an Abubakar presidency is “the will of the People.” It warns that if Abubakar is denied a victory, problems like genocide, poverty, corruption and strife will “undoubtedly continue.”

And when Abubakar visited the United States on 17 January this year, he opted to stay at Trump International Hotel to bolster his standing with Trump, like other foreign leaders seeking Trump’s attention.

Abubakar joins opposition politicians like Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in turning to lobbyists to garner American support, opensecrets.org reported.

The lobbying agreement notes that Lloyd Ukwu, who is described as “a Nigerian barrister and trusted confidant [of Abubakar],” is assisting “in the operations of the U.S. Situation Room.”

According to the filing under the Foreign Agent Registration Act(FARA), Fein will be paid $30,000 over a 90-day contract to provide “legal, consultancy and public advocacy services to encourage Congress and the Executive” to wait on recognising a winner of the Nigerian election until after the legal challenge is “impartially and independently resolved.”

Opensecrets.org also reported another filing which lays out how the influence campaign will be conducted.

Lobbyists will meet with members of Congress and their staff to persuade them to pass resolutions in the House and Senate “to forebear from a final declaration and recognition of a winner” until after Abubakar’s appeals are decided fairly and independently. Additionally, the firm will “draft articles and op-ed pieces” about the issues surrounding the Nigerian election and appear on television and other media programs.

“In the contract, Fein’s firm is explicit in promising to “obtain official recognition that you are the authentic President of Nigeria based on an accurate counting of legal ballots.” The goal of the effort is straightforwardly described as “to convince the United States that your presidency would open a fresh and new chapter in Nigerian politics.”

“The filing also asserts that the lobbying effort will demonstrate that an Abubakar presidency is “the will of the People.” It warns that if Abubakar is denied a victory, problems like genocide, poverty, corruption and strife will “undoubtedly continue.”

Abubakar’s lobbying gambit may be a waste of energy and resources as the United States already recognised President Buhari as the winner of the 23 February election.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, in a statement on March 1, congratulated President Buhari and the people of Nigeria for the largely peaceful election.

Pompeo said: “The United States congratulates the people of Nigeria on a successful presidential election, and President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election.

Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes while Atiku Abubakar polled 11,255,978 votes as runner-up, according to the official result by INEC.

Pompeo added: “We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the election and condemn those whose acts of violence harmed Nigerians and the electoral process.

“We note the assessments of international and domestic observer missions affirming the overall credibility of the election, despite localised violence and irregularities. We also congratulate all the other candidates for their peaceful participation in the electoral process”.

Abubakar has a rocky legal history in the United States. A Senate subcommittee report on foreign corruption cited him as a case study regarding his transfer of millions of dollars into the U.S. through shell companies. He was never prosecuted.

In 2009, the FBI alleged that Abubakar demanded bribes from former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), who was convicted of corruption charges. At one point, Jefferson claimed he stored $90,000 in cash for Abubakar in his freezer. That year, a search of Abubakar’s Maryland home, which he had since sold yielded nothing incriminating. But Abubakar never visited the US until his visit on 17 January for 24 hours.

INEC fixes Nov 2 for Kogi, Bayelsa guber polls

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed November 2 for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

Festus Okoye, chairman of INEC’s information and voters education committee, announced this on Tuesday evening.

Okoye said parties interested in fielding candidates for the polls are expected to hold their primaries between August 2 and August 29, while campaigns will commence from August 2 lasting till October 31.

The deadline for the submission of names of agents by parties is October 31.

“The Commission at its meeting held today approved the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the Governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States which will hold in both States on Saturday 2nd November 2019,” he said in a statement.

“The official notice for both elections will be issued on 1st August 2019 while political parties that intend to sponsor candidates are to hold their primaries for the nomination of such candidates from 2nd-29th August 2019.

“Campaigns by Political Parties in public shall commence on 2nd August 2019 and end on 31st October 2019.

“The parties sponsoring candidates are required to submit the list of their agents not later than 2nd October 2019.

“The stated timelines are in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). All stakeholders are urged to take cognizance of and adhere strictly to them.

“Details of the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election are on the Commission’s website.”

Ndume meets Osinbajo, insists on senate presidency

Ali Ndume, former senate leader and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says he is still eyeing the number one position in the senate.

Ndume, who represents Borno south senatorial district, made this known after meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa in Abuja on Monday.

He arrived at Aso Rock around 3pm before proceeding to Osinbajo’s office for the meeting.

The APC is expected to produce the next crop of national assembly leaders after emerging with the majority lawmakers in the two  the party leadership as well as President Muhammadu Buhari have endorsed Ahmad Lawan as senate president.

But Ndume is still determined to run against Lawan who took over his position as senate leader after the Borno lawmaker fell out with Senate President Bukola Saraki.

At the end of the one-hour meeting with Osinbajo, state house correspondents asked Ndume if he had withdrawn from the race and he asked rhetorically: “Me?”

He declined to comment on the issues discussed with the nation’s number two citizen but said he was still consulting over his bid to head the ninth senate.

“This is not the time to talk now because I am still holding consultation,” he said.

Last week, the senator rolled out a nine-point agenda which he said he would implement if elected the next senate president.

The senator, in the agenda, promised to make the office of the senate president less attractive by reducing the unnecessary privileges attached to it.