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Alleged forgery: Why we can’t disqualify Obaseki by INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it does not have the power to investigate or disqualify candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo during the September 19 election of Governor Godwin Obaseki, over alleged forgery of the University of Ibadan’s (UI) certificate.

It noted only a court order could disqualify a governorship candidate from participating in an election.

INEC stated that it could not investigate the originality, authenticity, or otherwise of the disputed UI’s first-degree certificate presented to the commission by Edo Governor because it was beyond its responsibility.

The electoral commission, as the first respondent in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party (ADP) and its governorship candidate, Iboi Emmanuel, at the Edo governorship election petitions tribunal in Benin, made the submissions in its reply, with a copy obtained on Sunday.

The reply was signed by INEC’s lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

The electoral commission said: “The information given by the third respondent (Obaseki) in the affidavit and documents submitted by him as a candidate at the election in INEC’s nomination form (Form C.F. 001) are presumed manifestly true or prima facie correct until and only if the contrary is proved and/or pronounced false by an order of the court.”

PDP, last week, admitted there were noticeable errors in Obaseki’s UI’s certificate, which it claimed occurred while filling the forms for the election in 2016.

It claimed the governorship candidate “mistakenly” wrote 1976 as his year of graduation, which ought to be his year of admission.

The PDP said: “At the time Obaseki was completing his Form CF001 in 2016, he deposed to an affidavit, stating that he had misplaced the originals of all of his certificates, while changing offices, with the intention to apply for a re-issuance if his certificates.

“The original certificate was issued in A5 size. In order for the photocopy of the certificate to be attached to Form CF001, the size was reduced to A4 and in the process, leaving out some information on the certificate.”

Five petitions were filed at the tribunal chaired by Justice Abdulrazak Abdulkareem against INEC; PDP; Obaseki and his deputy/running mate, Philip Shaibu; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its standard-bearer, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

Besides ADP and its governorship candidate, there were four other petitions from Action Peoples Party (APP) without joining its governorship candidate, Amos Areloegbe; Action Alliance (AA) and its governorship candidate, Ukonga Onaivi; Allied Peoples Movement (APM), excluding its governorship candidate, Igbineweka Osamuede, and Tracy Agol, without joining her political party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

The petitioners prayed the tribunal to nullify the September 19 election over forgery, perjury, and massive rigging as well as ordering a fresh election with the exclusion of PDP and Obaseki.

-The Nation

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Buhari to present 2023 budget proposal to NASS Friday

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President Muhammadu Buhari will present the 2023 Appropriations bill to a joint session of the National Assembly on Friday.

The appropriations bill will contain budget proposals for the 2023 fiscal year.

He made this known in a letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, which was read out at the start of plenary on Tuesday.

The formal budget presentation is scheduled for 10am

and it will be the last main budget Buhari will be presenting as he will leave office on 29 May 2023 when his second four year term will end.

The Federal Government is already proposing an aggregate expenditure of N19.76 trillion for the 2023 fiscal year with a budget deficit of about N12.41 trillion.

Some key assumptions in the proposal include an estimated oil benchmark of $70, crude oil production put at 1.69mbpd, exchange rate of N435.57/$ and inflation rate at 17.16 per cent.

The Federal Government pegged growth rate at 3.75 per cent because it believes that “Growth is expected to be moderated to 3.30% in 2024 before picking up to 3.46% in 2025.”

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had disclosed that the federal government will borrow over N11 trillion and sell national assets to finance the budget deficit in 2023.

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ASUU also corrupt, undermining govt investment – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said a number of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are involved in corrupt practices.

He said the corruption in the universities and other institutions was undermining government’s funding and investment in education.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 over increase in lecturers’ allowances and salaries as well as improved funding for the universities.

Buhari has appealed to the union to call off the strike but the lecturers have stood their ground.

The President on Tuesday while declaring open the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), said ASUU was no less complicit in the corruption in tertiary education.

He said corruption in the education sector had continued to undermine investments, while critics downplayed funding by focusing only on budgetary allocations, urging a more comprehensive re-evaluation of expenditure.

The President said, “This year’s summit will mirror how corruption undermines educational policies, investments and create an unfriendly learning environment for our youths.

“Incessant strikes especially by unions in the tertiary education often imply that government is grossly underfunding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.

“The 1999 Constitution places a premium on education by placing it on the Concurrent List, thereby laying the responsibilities of budgeting and underwriting qualitative education on both the Federal and State Governments.

“The total education budget for each year is therefore a reflection of both federal and state budgets and should be viewed as other financial commitments in their totality.

“The allocation to education in the federal budget should not be considered via allocation to the Federal Ministry of Education and also academic institutions alone, but should include allocation to the Universal Basic Education, transfers to TETFUND and refund from the Education Tax Pool Account to TETFUND.

“Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions.

“I call on stakeholders to demand accountability in the administration of academic institutions and for unions to interrogate the bloated personnel and recurrent expenditure of their institutions. Let me also implore the Unions to work with the government to put faces and identities to names on the payroll.

“Due to declining resources, the government cannot bear the cost of funding education alone. I task our academics to attract endowments, research and other grants to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education similar to what obtains in other countries.”

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Seven police officers dismissed, 10 others demoted

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The Police Service Commission (PSC), on Tuesday, dismissed seven senior police officers over gross misconduct.

The commission also announced the demotion of 10 other officers through reduction in rank.

These decisions were taken during the continuation of the 15th plenary meeting of the commission.

The meeting is expected to end on Thursday, October 6, 2022, according to a report by The Trust.

Presided over by its acting chairman, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, the meeting considered all the Pending Disciplinary Matters (PDM) before the commission.

The PDMs, which totalled 47, also treated some appeals from dismissed police officers.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the meeting in Abuja, the spokesman for the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, said, the dismissed officers include one CSP, one SP and five ASPs.

He said that one SP was retired in public interest, adding that the commission reduced the ranks of one CSP to SP, three SPs to DSP, and two DSPs to ASPs.

The commission further reduced the ranks of four ASPs to Inspectors.

10 senior police officers, including an ACP, a CSP, a SP and two DSPs were given the punishment of severe reprimand.

Five ASPs were also awarded the punishment of severe reprimand.

Thirteen officers received the punishment of reprimand; two are to receive letters of warning while four officers were exonerated.

Ani quoted Justice Ogunbiyi as saying the commission would henceforth give the desired attention to Pending Disciplinary Matters so that those found guilty are punished immediately while those found not guilty are cleared to continue with their career progression.

Justice Ogunbiyi called on police officers to ensure they operate within established rules and avoid taking laws into their hands.

The commission, she said, would continue to work to sustain a professional police force.

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