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Buhari shelves plan to address NASS on security

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  • Reps step down motion to admit President
  • Lawmakers can’t summon him – Malami

Indication emerged on Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari has shelved his plan to address the joint sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday on the security situation in the country.

This came as the conventional legislative practice, ‘Admittance into the Chamber’ motion, slated on the Order Paper, which should have been sponsored by Hon Garba Alhassan Ado to suspend relevant House rules, was not entertained by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The motion provides that “that the House, pursuant to Order 19, Rule 8 (1) and (2) of the Standing Orders, do admit into the Chambers, the ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the service chiefs and other dignitaries for the purpose of receiving an address by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the security situation in the country.”

Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Wednesday said that the National Assembly lacked the constitutional power to summon President Buhari over security matters.

The President’s change of mind, it was learnt, might not be unconnected with an alleged plot by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus to embarrass him.

The resolution for Buhari not to attend the forum was reportedly reached at a meeting held on Tuesday night which lasted into the midnight at the Conference Room 028 New Building of the House of Representatives.

Some of the governors seen at the meeting are Aminu Masari of Katsina State and Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, as well as the former FCT Minister of State, Senator James Udoedehe.

One of the principal officers in the House of Representatives, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the decision was to avoid any form of embarrassment from the members of the opposition party, PDP.

Malami, in a statement, argued that the issue of security is confidential and how the president handles it should not be for public exposure.

“The confidentiality of strategies employed by the President as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not open for public exposure in view of security implications in probable undermining of the war against terror”, he said.

He argued that Buhari had recorded tremendous success in containing the hitherto incessant bombings, colossal killings, wanton destruction of lives and property that bedeviled the country before attaining the helm of affairs of the country in 2015.

According to him national security is not about publicity and the nation’s security architecture cannot be exposed for the sake of getting publicity.

While stating that the President enjoys Constitutional privileges attached to the Office of the President including exclusivity and confidentiality investiture in security operational matters, which remains sacrosanct, he added that the National Assembly had no Constitutional Power to envisage or contemplate a situation where the President would be summoned by the National Assembly on operational use of the Armed Forces.

“The right of the President to engage the National Assembly and appear before it is inherently discretionary in the President and not at the behest of the National Assembly,” the statement added.

But immediate past Chairman, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Hon Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, said there was no justification for the President’s decision to turn down the invitation to brief Nigerians on the state of security.

“It was the House of Representatives of Nigeria that invited the President of Nigeria. It was not a summon; it was an invitation to bring us up to speed on the security matter in Nigeria, now that security is now topical and almost urgent.

“If he thinks to look at it legally, he may say you cannot summon because you can’t discipline. But one thing to look at is the security importance. He’s the commander in chief of all armed forces and the invitation is to tell us if there is any trouble in the security architecture so that we will know exactly what is the issue is.”

He also spoke on the reported role played by the governors to prevail on the President from honouring the House invitation.

He said, “We heard that the governors prevailed on him not to come, and it is very easy to understand why the governors said so because if he honours the invitation, the state assemblies will ask the governors to come, which is the proper thing. But because the relationship is master-servant; most parliaments in Nigeria run master-servant relationship; in that context, how can a servant order his master to come to render account?

“And if you are a governor, you owe the governed the duty to explain.”

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BREAKING: Court dismisses suit seeking Soludo’s disqualification as Anambra governor-elect

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Professor Charles Soludo

A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit seeking the disqualification of Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo as the governor-elect of Anambra State.

Justice Taiwo Oladipupo Taiwo, in a judgment, described the suit as frivolous, irritating, and lacking in merit.

The judge awarded a punitive cost of N2 million against the two plaintiffs to be paid to Soludo and his deputy, Ibezim.

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Alleged N11.8b scandal: Ayu vows to probe past PDP administrations

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National Chairman-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu

The National Chairman-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, has pledged the readiness of his administration to look into the books of the party with a view to enthroning a culture of accountability and transparency in the running of party affairs.

The incoming National Chairman disclosed this in a parley with newsmen at the party’s secretariat in Abuja on Thursday.

This followed the end of a two-day retreat organised for the National Working Committee members-elect.

The former Senate President’s vow came against the backdrop of a paper presented at the retreat by Okwesilize Nwodo, former National Chairman of the PDP.

Nwodo, in a veiled dig at successive administrations, wondered what happened to the huge sums of money he handed over to the Bello Haliru-led executive committee.

He said: “I handed over N11 billion in fixed deposit and N800 million in current account when I left as national chairman after seven months.

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“I don’t see what was done with that money.

“Millions were raised to finish our national headquarters, we don’t seem to have a trace of where all that money went.

“Our headquarters is yet to be completed.

“Today we don’t even have a party account.

“We have to get back to strict monitoring of our party accounts.

“Our internal audit department needs to be strengthened and supported by the party leadership.

“Very strict sanctions must be imposed on the mismanagement of party funds.

“I suggest that we include inviting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe erring officers and members and prosecution of those found culpable.

“This is the only way to create a deterrent.”

Reacting to the development, Ayu said the PDP under his stewardship will breathe the fresh air of transparency.

He said: “By the time we come to the office, accountability will remain our watchword and I want to assure all of you that we will run the PDP administration as transparently as possible.

“The outgoing NWC has set up different committees to look into different areas.

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“We shall take up all the reports, review them, look at the facts and then attend to each issue according to the facts available to us.

“I want to assure you that we shall try to clean our house no matter who is going to be affected.

“We shall try to clean our house following due process and that due process also includes exhausting all internal conflict resolving mechanisms before we bring in any external intervention when we cannot resolve the issues.”

That said, Ayu slammed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration over the planned increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit, saying: “The PDP does not believe in visiting more hardship on the Nigerian people.

“The party has not discussed the issue of an increase in petroleum prices but our general position is that the people of Nigeria are already hard-pressed.

“There is so much hardship.

“If you are poor, you are not going to benefit from what is called petroleum subsidy.

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“I want to assure Nigerians that when we come back to power as a party, everything will be done to make sure that the massive sufferings that Nigerians are going through come to end because if you increase the price of petroleum products today, with the kind of suffering that Nigerians are going through, it means that there will be enormous difficulty in transportation.

“Food prices will escalate and they are already very high out there.

“You will find that the crime rate will increase.

“Every single vice which has escalated under the All Progressives Congress will double.

“So the APC government is trying to take us into the highest level of suffering and ultimately, taking Nigerians to a position of non-existence.”

Ayu further promised to explore alternative sources of funding for the party as well as organise periodic retreats for party officials to keep them abreast of various spheres of party administration.

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Tinubu visited me to seek support for presidential ambition – Yakasai

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Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Tanko Yakasai

A founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum and elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, has revealed that he would support the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s presidential bid in 2023.

Tinubu had on Wednesday visited the elder statesman at his Abuja residence.

Yakasai told Saturday PUNCH that the ex-governor of Lagos was at his Abuja residence to solicit his support for his (Tinubu’s) presidential ambition in the next general elections.

Of recent, posters and billboards advertising the rumoured presidential bid of Tinubu, who was Lagos governor from May 1999 to May 2007, have been seen in major cities, including Lagos and Abuja.

Though Tinubu has yet to declare his intention to contest any office in 2023, there have been reports and veiled indications that he might be interested in the exalted seat.

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had in October inaugurated the South-West Agenda 2023, a political movement mobilising support for Tinubu to contest the 2023 presidential election.

Tinubu, who celebrated his 69th birthday in March 2021 and commands an arguably large following of political loyalists, has been reported to nurse presidential ambition in 2023, even as political debates get intense for a southern president after the eight-year regime of the incumbent, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who is from Katsina State, North-West Nigeria.

Between July and October 2021, while Tinubu was in the United Kingdom for a knee surgery and physiotherapy, over 50 politicians, including the President, six governors, dozens of senators and House of Representatives members, visited him at his London home and turned the place to a Mecca of sort.

In October, the Northern Caucus of House of Representatives, led by Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase, had also paid a get-well visit to the APC leader in London and declared support for Tinubu’s reported 2023 presidential ambition.

Speaking with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, 96-year-old Yakasai said he had earmarked two politicians to support for Presidency in 2023.

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He, however, said he has no intention to join politics but he has the constitutional right to back any candidate of his choice.

Asked whether he planned to join the ruling party after Tinubu’s visit, Yakassai said, “I don’t want to join any (political) party but I can support a candidate of my choice. I have said it way back in 1951 that I will not be a party member but I will support a candidate of my choice.”

On the APC leader’s visit, the elder statesman said, “He (Tinubu) just came to visit me but actually I have two of them (presidential aspirants) that I have earmarked right from the beginning and I made a vow that any one of them who came to ask for my support first is the person I would support. Tinubu is the first person.”

When asked whether Tinubu told him he would be contesting for President in 2021, Yakasai said, “He (Tinubu) did and he asked for my support.”

Yakasai, however, said he didn’t disclose to Tinubu, during the visit, that he would support his ambition.

He also said that interested aspirants must first scale the hurdles of primary elections in their various political parties “then we will begin to compare them.”

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