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Trump pressures Republicans to block Biden’s win

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Donald Trump has called out Republicans who plan to support certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the US election as members of a “surrender caucus”, deepening the intraparty split over the looming transfer of power in Washington.

The US President, in a series of tweets on Monday morning, pressured lawmakers from his own party to join his attempt to overturn the results of the November election, less than three weeks before Biden’s inauguration as president.

Trump, according to Financial Times, is facing a backlash from across the political spectrum over a call he made during the weekend to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, urging him to “find” extra votes to reverse Mr Biden’s win in the southern state.

A joint session of Congress is expected on Wednesday to certify Biden’s electoral college victory.

Twelve Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, have said they will object to Biden’s win based on unfounded allegations of voter fraud, although many Republicans are expected to accept the election result — triggering Trump’s wrath.

“The ‘Surrender Caucus’ within the Republican party will go down in infamy as weak and ineffective ‘guardians’ of our Nation, who were willing to accept the certification of fraudulent presidential numbers!” Trump wrote.

Earlier in the day, Trump had singled out Tom Cotton — a reliable ally of the president on Capitol Hill — for criticism after the senator from Arkansas said he would not join other Republican objectors to Biden’s win.

“@SenTomCotton Republicans have pluses & minuses, but one thing is sure, THEY NEVER FORGET!”, the president wrote.

In a statement on Monday, Rob Portman, the Republican senator from Ohio, defied Trump’s wishes and said he would not object to Biden’s certification.

“The Constitution created a system for electing the President through the Electoral College that ensures the people and the states hold the power, not Congress. I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters,” he said.

Trump’s increasingly frantic efforts to avoid leaving the White House on January 20 have created a febrile atmosphere in Washington and stoked new fears over the prospects for a smooth transition on inauguration day.

They have also prompted warnings from business that some Republicans were threatening democracy by attempting to oppose certifying the presidential election results.

“Efforts by some members of Congress to disregard certified election results . . . undermines our democracy and the rule of law and will only result in further division,” said Tom Donohue, chief executive of the US Chamber of Commerce, the business lobby.

Almost 200 business leaders signed a separate statement from the Partnership for New York City, warning that attempts to thwart certification of the results “run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy” and would distract from responding to the country’s health and economic crises.

Democrats said they were disturbed by Mr Trump’s approach. At a rally ahead of two pivotal Senate run-off races in Georgia on Tuesday, Kamala Harris, the incoming vice-president, attacked Trump for his call to Raffensperger.

“It was certainly the voice of desperation, most certainly that. And it was a bald, bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States,” she said on Sunday night.

Ted Lieu, a Democratic lawmaker from California, and Kathleen Rice, a Democratic lawmaker from New York, on Monday asked the FBI to open a criminal investigation into Trump’s call for “solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes”.

Nevertheless, Mr Trump’s most loyal backers on Capitol Hill have stuck by him. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican senator from Tennessee and one of the upper-chamber lawmakers intending to object to the certification of Biden’s victory, told Fox News on Monday that the president’s call to Raffensperger searching for votes was “not a helpful call”.

But she reaffirmed the plan to object to Biden’s victory and establish a commission to report back on fraud claims within 10 days.

“When there are allegations of fraud and when there’s all this conversation that is taking place around the election results, one of the things that we should do is define the problem and then offer an action item that will get us to a solution,” she said. “And that’s exactly what we are doing.”

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Ondo gov poll: Tribunal dismisses Jegede petition

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The Ondo Election Petitions Tribunal in Akure on Tuesday threw out the petition challenging the victory of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in last year’s governorship election for want of jurisdiction.

Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Eyitayo Jegede, had filed the petition seeking to be declared winner of the election on the grounds that Governor Akeredolu was not properly nominated by the All Progressives Congress.

Justice Abubakar Umar, who delivered the judgment, said Jegede had no justification to interfere in the internal affairs of the APC.

He said, “Issue raised therein in this petition are settled issue of internal affairs and Management of a political party which this Tribunal has no Jurisdiction.”

He dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.

The tribunal declared Akeredolu and his Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, as duly elected in the October 10 governorship election.

Governor Akeredolu hailed Ondo residents for the confidence reposed in his administration and urged Jegede to join him in developing the state, saying there was no need for further litigation.

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Why northern governors opposed Jonathan’s second term bid – Babangida Aliyu

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Former governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, has said northern governors rose against former President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid in 2015 because of the perceived threat of his victory to the North.

Aliyu said in Minna on Friday that the northern governors felt at the time that their part of the country stood in a disadvantaged position and would be shortchanged should Jonathan win a re-election.

He claimed that Jonathan had earlier reached an agreement with the north to complete what was left of the tenure of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and then run for only one term.

He said the ex-president’s insistence on going for another term in 2015 was against the agreement he had with the northern governors.

“Following the sudden passage of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010, the leadership of the then governing Peoples Democratic Party along with the state governors under the flagship of the party had series of meetings on the presidency and the future of our great party,” he said.

The ex-governor also said, “All the governors in the North under the PDP supported the then Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to complete the remaining years of Yar’Adua’s tenure and to contest the next presidential election as a sole candidate of our great party.

“However, midway, President Goodluck Jonathan insisted to run for the office in 2015 against the grain of our earlier agreement.

“Since this was against the grain of our earlier agreement in the party, and which we the governors in the north felt the North would have been shortchanged if Jonathan had succeeded, we rose stoutly to insist on the agreement we all had.

“On that premise, we opposed Jonathan. But all along, Goodluck Jonathan had enjoyed every support from the governors in the north and the entire region.”

The former governor said it was wrong for anyone to say that he opposed Goodluck Jonathan.

He added that as the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum then, it was his responsibility to tell the people about the stand of the governors.

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Makinde’s candidate, Arapaja, emerges PDP South-West chairman

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Former Oyo State Deputy Governor, Taofeek Arapaja, has been declared the South-West chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He was pronounced winner of the hotly contested poll by chairman of the region’s congress and Benue Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu.

Arapaja, backed by Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, polled 343 votes to defeat Dr Eddy Olafeso, who scored 330.

Olafeso is of the camp of former Ekiti Governor Ago Fayose.

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