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Senate passes bill limiting NIPOST to postal operations

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The Senate has passed the Nigerian Postal Service (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill, 2021 that would restrict the agency to only postal operations.

The bill also unbundled the agency by creating a commission to regulate its affairs.

The lingering controversy between NIPOST and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as to who is statutorily empowered to collect Stamp Duties on behalf of the Federal Government also appeared to have been laid to rest in favour of FIRS as there is no provision in the Bill as to who will to collect the tax.

Section 2 subsection 1-3 of the Bill however effectively barred NIPOST from engaging in tax collection.

The section read, “There is hereby established a body to be known as the Nigerian Postal Service (hereby designated as the Public Postal Operator) which (a) shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal.

“The Postal Operator shall be charged with the responsible of providing Universal Postal Service in Nigeria.

“In carrying out its Universal Postal Service Obligations, the provisions of any enactment, law or regulation relating to taxation of companies, agencies or trusts funds shall not apply to the Public Postal Operator save for its obligation as a collecting agent of Government.”

Also passed during plenary was a Bill to enact the Medical and Dental Practitioners Bill to establish the Medical and Dental Professions in Nigeria.

The passage of both bills followed the clause-by-clause consideration of two separate reports by the Senate Committees on Communications and Health.

The reports were considered after being presented by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and Chairman Senate Committee on Health Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central) respectively.

Giving a highlight of the NIPOST Bill, Tinubu said sub-clause (1)(a) under clause 3 which deals with the Establishment and Membership of the Governing Board of the Public Postal Operator was amended to give the Governing Board power to formulate policies and adopt strategies for the overall development of the postal sector.

She added that sub-clause (1)(b) was deleted as the Board cannot borrow or raise funds for the entity while sub-clause (1)(c) was amended to align with existing legislation.

According to the Lagos Central lawmaker, clause 5(2) was also inserted to specify the minimum qualifications for the appointment of the Postmaster-General.

Tinubu further said that clause 8 which deals with the Application of Pensions Act was amended to align with the Pension Act.

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Lawyer: We have CCTV evidence of how Kanu was abducted from Kenya

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Details of a N5 billion suit filed by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) against the Kenyan government have hinted on the torture the IPOB leader allegedly went through in the custody of security agents in the East African country.

Kanu’s lawyer, George Wajackoyah, claimed in an audio tape that he had CCTV and other evidence of how his client was abducted in Nairobi, Kenyan capital by the Muhammadu Buhari government.

“We have copies of his passport and a stamp that he was indeed in Kenya. We also have evidence he was in his residence on a particular day.

“We also have material proof that he was at the airport on a particular day to meet a friend and there he was arrested.

“Definitely, he was kidnapped,” Wajackoyah said.

The Kenyan government had strongly denied involvement in the process that led to the arrest and repatriation of Kanu back to Nigeria, with its High Commissioner to Nigeria, Wilfred Machage, describing the claim that Kanu was arrested in the East African country as “deliberately concocted to fuel antagonistic feelings in the minds of certain sections of the Nigerian people against the people of Kenya.”

The high point of Kanu’s ugly experience, according to the law suit, was that he got his body smeared with his own urine and faeces because the security agents allegedly denied him permission to use the toilet.

The suit, which was filed in Umuahia, Abia State by Kanu’s counsel Aloy Ejimakor on September 7, revealed that Kanu was beaten severely until he fainted and was revived with cold water.

The suit is seeking to enforce Kanu’s right to life, dignity of the human person, personal liberty and fair hearing.

The affidavit in support of the originating motion, which was done by Kanu’s brother, Emmanuel, stated: “That the facts and violations deposed to in this affidavit started at the applicant’s residence in Isiama Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State; to wit; the military invasion of the applicant in September 2017 by a combined team of Ohafia-based 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, the Abia State Command of Nigeria Police Force and the Abia State Directorate of the State Security Service.”

“That it was the said invasion that nearly took the life of the applicant that caused him to seek refuge abroad which ultimately to Kenya, where the respondents lawfully pursued him, abducted him, disappeared with him and ultimately brought him to Nigeria and detained him.

“That in October 2015, the applicant was arrested in Lagos upon his return from the United Kingdom, detained in Abuja and ultimately charged for certain offences Charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015 (Federal Republic of Nigeria vs Nnamdi Kanu).

“That the applicant was detained for 18 months, but was later released on bail whereupon he returned to his home in Isiama Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia North, Abia State, and there awaiting his next trial date set for October 2017.

“That on or about 10 September, while the applicant was resting at home with some family members and friends, the Ohafia-based Nigerian Army, police and DSS launched military invasion and assaults at the applicant’s residential building and premises.

“That in the course of the military action, 28 people were killed and several others, including the applicant, were wounded. Both of the applicant’s parents sustained grave injuries from the military invasion and both of them eventually succumbed to those injuries and are now late.

“That in the course of the invasion, the applicant managed to escape to a safe location from where he managed to flee overseas to save his life. That there was neither a court order revoking the applicant’s bail nor any arrest warrant that could have justified the deadly military assault.

“That had the President implemented the provisional measures, the applicant would have felt safe enough to voluntarily end his exile and return to Nigeria to face prosecution in the said charge under reference therein.

“That in the course of his exile, the applicant on or about May 5, 2021, entered the Republic of Kenya on his British passport and was admitted as such at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. After his admission, the applicant settled in at a temporary location in Nairobi, Kenya.”

Giving details of the alleged abduction of Kanu from the East African country as well as his ordeal at the hands of the Nigerian security operatives at a private residence where he was taken to, Emmanuel said: “That on June 19, 2021, the applicant drove himself and without any companion to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, to drop off a friend at the airport.

“That as soon as the applicant pulled to stop at the parking lot and alighted from his vehicle, about twenty respondent’s agents (hereafter abductors) violently accosted and abducted the applicant, handcuffed and blindfolded him, bundled him in a vehicle and sped away, while telling onlookers that the applicant is a “terrorist separatist.”

“That the applicant’s abductors took him to a nondescript private house (not a police station) somewhere in Nairobi, Kenya, and chained him to the floor. That while chained to the floor, the applicant’s abductors took turns to beat him torturing him to a point that he fainted several times and was intermittently revived when they poured cold water on him.

“That to prevent the applicant’s anguished screaming from being heard in the vicinity, the applicant’s abductors tied a cloth over his mouth and so close to covering his nostrils that the applicant struggled to breathe.

“That the applicant remained chained to the floor for eight days and was thus forced to relieve himself of urine and excrement where he was chained with same being smeared all over his body.”

That throughout the duration of the applicant’s captivity, he was not allowed to bathe and was fed only on bland bread once a day and given non-sanitary water to drink.”

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2023: PDP governors split over zoning

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Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, a fresh crisis is brewing in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over which zone should have its presidential ticket.

Since the party was defeated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 to bring its rule for 16 years to an end, it has been struggling to reclaim the presidency without success.

While the opposition party is in the process of holding an elective national convention to elect its new leaders, there are indications that the issue of zoning is tearing it apart.

For months now, there have been severe agitations as to where the presidential ticket of the party should be zoned to, with leaders and chieftains of the party, particularly from the southern part of the country, insisting that the party’s unwritten zoning arrangement be respected and the 2023 presidential ticket zoned exclusively to the South.

It is believed in many quarters that the zoning controversy is at the bottom of the storm that has been the lot of the suspended national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus.

His alleged tacit support for a presidential aspirant from the north in spite of the clamour for power shift is believed to have won him several enemies from his home zone.

However, fresh indications have emerged that anti-zoning forces may have devised new plans to forestall the possibility of the party zoning the presidential ticket to the South.

The Nation gathered that an ongoing process towards the election of a new national chairman for the party is brewing suspicion and creating a fresh crisis within it.

Very reliable party sources said the high number of southern PDP chieftains indicating interest in the national chairmanship while no northerner is showing interest has become a source of worry for pro-zoning agitators within the PDP.

It was gathered that some prominent leaders and chieftains of the party, including governors, National Assembly members and Board of Trustees (BoT) members from the southern zones have expressed dissatisfaction with what they described as an attempt to scheme the zones out of contention for the presidential ticket.

It was also gathered that governors elected on the platform of the PDP are now divided over the zoning issue.

The Nation gathered that while some of them are now openly supporting national chairmanship aspirants from the south, others like Governor Seyi Makinde and Udom Emmanuel of Oyo and Akwa Ibom states respectively are warning that the emergence of a southerner in that position may nail any hope of the region getting the presidential ticket.

An ally of the Oyo State governor explained in a chat with our correspondent yesterday that Makinde’s position is based on his understanding of the practice in PDP.

An aide to the governor said: “A look at previous arrangements revealed that the national chairman and the presidential candidate had never emerged from the same region in the past.

“So, our governor, given his commitment to the southern presidency project, is asking his colleagues for a commitment that the chairmanship is not a bait to stop power from shifting to the South in 2023.

“He is not alone in this. There are other governors with him.”

The Nation however gathered that some other governors have recently proposed that the presidential ticket be thrown open for aspirants from all zones of the country to contest for it. “Their major arguments are that the last president the PDP produced is from the South and it may not be easy to defeat the APC with a presidential candidate from the South So, they have a plan to retain the ticket in the north,” a source claimed.

Finding by our correspondent revealed that majority of southern governors are opposed to the new plan by their colleagues from the north. “Though a couple of southern governors are now being convinced to join the anti zoning push, with offers like the vice presidency and other promises, the majority is still unrelenting in the quest for the ticket in 2023,” a party source said.

Determined to send the message clearly to their colleagues, PDP governors in the south have joined their APC colleagues to insist that the next president of the country should come from the South in 2023, in spite of indications that many of their colleagues are plotting to keep the ticket in the north.

“At the recent meeting of southern governors, PDP governors sent a very strong signal to their colleagues from the north and others opposed to zoning when they openly supported and signed the communique insisting on power shift. The implications are that PDP governors are now poised for showdown over the zoning issue,” our source said.

The Nation also gathered that members of the PDP caucus in the National Assembly are also not on the same page on the zoning issue.

Last week, the Southeast caucus of the PDP NASS met and decided that it will not be part of any arrangement that opposes the zoning of the presidential ticket to the South.

The legislators were responding to alleged moves to give the Southwest the national chairmanship in order to keep the presidential ticket in the north.

“Our position is to put it on record that the chairmanship is not the same as the presidential ticket and that those angling for the seat are not doing so on behalf of the entire south,” our source added.

As the drama continues to unfold, prominent chieftains of the party are urging the gladiators to be careful not to cause an implosion within the party. They have also been expressing fears about the chances of the party in the next general election.

A member of the PDP BoT, while speaking on the current crisis, accused some governors of trying to return the party to its troubled era.

He said: “The plot to give the Southwest the chairmanship so as to block the South from the presidential ticket will fail.

“It is an attempt to destroy the PDP and we must be careful. If PDP wants to win in 2023, we must respect zoning and give the South the ticket.

“I commend the governors that are still standing and I am sure they will prevail.”

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PDP crisis: APC, two more governors begin defection talks

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Following the ongoing crisis in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), two more governors have started defection talks with the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The governors might use the defection to curtail threats from APC in their states.

The APC leadership was said to be discussing some terms with the affected governors.

One of the terms is the control of party structure in order to secure a guarantee for their second term in office.

According to a source, who is involved in the preliminary talks, one of the governors is from the South while the other is a high profile governor from the Northwest, who is rumoured to have presidential ambition but now appears to have had a change of heart and views a second term as governor as a more attainable target, using the APC platform.

Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, hinted on Thursday that three PDP governors, namely those of Bauchi (Bala Mohammed), Enugu (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) and Oyo (Seyi Makinde) were planning to defect to the APC.

He made the declaration while he was being presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by the APC Caretaker Chairman Governor Mai Mala Buni, in Abuja.

However, Governor Ugwuanyi has since refuted the insinuation by Fani-Kayode that he was contemplating defection from PDP to APC.

Reacting to the insinuation while addressing journalists in Enugu yesterday, the Chairman of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), Dr Josef Onoh, described Fani-Kayode’s comment as “a figment of his imagination”, adding that Governor Ugwuanyi had no plan to leave the PDP.

Our source said the uncertainty in PDP ahead of preparations for 2023 poll was also making some Senators and members of the House of Representatives to look for alternative platforms.

The source said: “If the negotiation goes well as designed, two more PDP governors, some Senators and members of the House of Representatives will soon join the All Progressives Congress. The way the APC is coordinating and penetrating PDP, the party may end up as a carcass.

“The two governors include one from the North-East and another from the South. I don’t want to mention the second governor’s geopolitical zone in order not to jeopardise the ongoing talks.

“A respected governor is one of those trying to woo the two governors. I think the APC deal is timely for the two governors to checkmate the party’s opposition to PDP in their states.

“This is why the PDP governors have made the control of the party’s structure a condition for defecting to APC. They want to guarantee their second term ticket.”

There were indications that some Senators and members of the House of Representatives may join the two governors if the defection pact sails through.

A senator from one of the affected states said: “I have got wind of the ongoing talks. If my governor thinks that is the best, I will follow him. We work as a team.”

Meanwhile, there were conflicting signals on where PDP is headed on its zoning formula for 2023 elections.

The party’s zoning committee is being led by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State.

The report of the committee will determine the shape of the National Convention of PDP in October and its presidential ticket for 2023 poll.

But while the committee has set out to work, it was learnt that some Northern PDP leaders have been pushing for the retention of the party’s ticket in their region.

They claimed that the 2023 poll is winnable for PDP with a strong Northern candidate.

They said it will be better to erode the 12 million voting strength of the APC in the North than to fail again at the next poll.

But some Southern governors and PDP leaders believe power should shift to the South in 2023.

They aligned themselves with the position of the Southern governors on Thursday in Enugu.

A third force in the party wants all slots thrown open, especially the presidential slot, to allow the best to emerge.

A member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of PDP said: “Zoning is a major headache for the party. We have three tendencies in the party. The North is seeking the slot after eight years in power; the South is desperate for power shift; and we have a section of PDP, which is asking us to throw open all offices.

“We are all looking forward to Governor Ugwuanyi committee which some of us see as an afterthought to douse tension in the party. PDP is in custody of a report by Governor Bala Mohammed and we ought to build only on the panel’s recommendations.”

Findings confirmed that the confusion in the party accounted for alleged hide and seek game by some of its governors and leaders.

It was gathered that while Governor Nyesom Wike has been linked with a presidential aspiration, he is also said to be interested in the VP slot as a Plan B.

Others, who are allegedly interested in the office of the Vice President in 2023 include ex-Governor Peter Obi, ex-Deputy President of the Senate Senator Ike Ekweremadu and some PDP governors who will complete second term in office by the next general election.

“The lobby for VP ticket is more pronounced and profound among PDP governors and leaders from the South than any part of the country.

“Some of us are wondering whether or not these leaders are committed to power shift to the South in 2023,” a former governor said.

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