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Another INEC office set ablaze — second in a week

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Ohafia LGA of Abia state has been set ablaze.

Festus Okoye, INEC spokesman, said in a statement that the incident occurred on Sunday night.

This is happening a week after one of the commission’s offices in Akwa Ibom was razed.

There is no known cause of the fire incidents yet which are suspected to be caused by hoodlums attacking the commission’s facilities.

Okoye said although there are no casualties in the latest fire incident in Abia, all electoral materials and office equipment were destroyed.

He said the attacks could affect the ongoing expansion of voter access to polling units, resumption of the continuous voter registration (CVR), pending bye-elections and ultimately the 2023 General Election.

“The latest incident in Abia State is one too many. These facilities are national assets, which must be protected. Accordingly, the Commission is convening an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) next week to discuss this disturbing trend,” he said.

“Meanwhile, the Commission wishes to reassure Nigerians that all activities in relation to the ongoing expansion of voter access to Polling Units and preparations for the resumption of CVR as well as all scheduled elections will proceed as planned.”

This is not the first attack on INEC’s facilities in Abia in recent times.

Five months ago, on December 13, its LGA office in Aba south was completely burnt down while that of Arochukwu LGA was vandalised in October 2020.

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No single government can solve Nigeria’s problems – Buhari

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Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said that no single government can solve Nigeria’s problems.

Buhari, at a state- of- nation dialogue on security, economy and administration of justice in Abuja, stated that efforts of successive governments were required to see the country through its challenges

The President hoped that the event, which was organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), would contribute to Nigeria’s development.   Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, reminded lawyers that they owed the nation some responsibilities.

His words: “This is the direction to go. I want to thank you for restoring the hope of Nigerians. I want to believe the bar would provide the necessary leadership. I hope in the course of the discussion, we would be able to bring out a playbook that would provide the guided processes for the incoming regime.

“I would say no one government in this country would be able to solve the problems of Nigeria. But as we build on the precedent set by successive governments, not discarding completely what has been put in place, we would in the course of our desire to build a Nigeria of our dreams, be able to pick one or two things, on which we can concentrate and move.

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“As a government, the outcome of this dialogue can be transmitted to us so that whatever resolutions are reached, that would become part of the documents would prepare us as we transit and hand over to an incoming government.”

Kebbi State Governo, Atiku Bagudu, who also attended the event, said one of the ways to tackle insecurity was to give priority to primary education in the country.

He said most of the causes of insecurity were a result of the breakdown of the social contract towards the people.

Bagudu, therefore, advocated more investment in primary education to turn the situation in the country around.

The governor pointed out that in developed countries, as much as $27,000 is spent on a child, while in Nigeria, a rich state like Lagos, spends far less.

He said: “They (children) have not been provided education.  The challenges of inclusion are the most current. We need to include more people and so we have to mobilise more resources.”

Bagudu praised the NBA for the theme of the dialogue, which according to him, is holding ahead of the general election.

Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Amina Mohammed, condemned the attacks on facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

She also frowned at attacks on some candidates for the general election, as well as fake news and hate speeches focusing on religious and ethnic identities.

The UN chief said: “INEC has been making great strides in improving the transparency, accountability and credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process. The increase in the number of registered voters from 84m to 93m is encouraging and suggests Nigerians are enthusiastic about the electoral process.

“However, we continue to witness attacks against the institution. Fake news, hate speech, based on religious and ethnic identities, violence against candidates as well as INEC facilities and staff since the political campaigns began.”

Mohammed hoped that the elections would provide an opportunity for Nigerians to unite and shape the future of the nation.

She said as Africa’s largest economy with a youthful population, Nigeria cannot afford to fail.

The UN chief said Nigeria must be steeped in economic, social and environmental principles and must be guided by Agenda 2030 and its 17 goals.

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent to-do list, a blueprint for global and local action. We needed it to develop peace and prosperity and a thriving natural environment for current and future generations.”

NBA President Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) said there was a need to continuously engage government at all levels on issues affecting the country and the citizenry.

He urged members of the Bench and Bar to always ensure that justice was served without fear of favour.

The New Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Solomon Arase, encouraged the deployment of technology to secure the country.

Arase, who added that government cannot solve security problems alone, said the establishment of reform panels over insecurity was a waste of time.

The Nation

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Angry youths protest in Kano, stone Buhari’s helicopter

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There was a protest in some parts of Kano on Monday by some angry youths during President Muhammadu Buhari’s working visit to the state.

In an area, the youths were seen throwing stones at Buhari’s helicopter.

They were however dispersed by security agents who fired shots in the air to scare them away.
The protesting youths were chanting “Ba mu so” (We don’t want) as they set a bonfire of tyres along Hotoro Road where the President went to commission the Muhammadu Buhari Interchange.
The development came hours after Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano governor, made a U-turn over the president’s visit to the state.

Ganduje had asked the president to postpone the visit over security concerns and difficulty in accessing the new naira notes.

There were also videos that went viral on Monday showing stones littering a road said to be the area where the president’s convoy was expected to pass through.

In one of the videos, a voice in the background said the people were angry at the president and decided to attack him with stones.

Reacting to the incident in a statement, Debo Ologunagba, PDP spokesperson, described the alleged incident as treason and sacrilege.

“This organised attack on the person of the President is outrightly treasonable and a sacrilegious assault on our national sovereignty which must be condemned by all,” the PDP said.

“Our Party is alarmed that this attack is part of APC Presidential Candidate’s alleged plot to undermine the Presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections and derail our democracy; having realised that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.

“The PDP invites Nigerians to note how Governor Abdullahi Ganduje attempted to abridge President Buhari’s movement and even tried to stop him from visiting Kano State. More disquieting is the fact that the APC Presidential Campaign sought to humiliate and harm President Buhari, while performing his official duties in Kano.

“It should be noted that the APC Presidential Candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr. President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world, that Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and Party of their choice in the 2023 general elections.

“The apparent frustration of Asiwaju Tinubu to resort to encourage or condone violence is fueled by his entitlement mentality, that it is his turn to be President, despite his numerous ineligibility and disability baggage.

“Nigerians are reminded about Asiwaju Tinubu’s infamous statement in London where he declared to his supporters that ‘political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte. It is what we are doing; It is being determined; you do it at all cost; fight for it, grab it, snatch it and run with it’.”

However, Bayo Onanuga, spokesperson for the APC presidential campaign council, dismissed the claim of the attack and criticised the PDP for reacting to something “imaginary”.

“We were not surprised to read of the imaginary attack on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria being peddled by the Peoples Democratic Party since the party has nothing tangible to tell Nigerians from its crumbling Presidential Campaign,” Onanuga said.

He also said,“This invented attack on President Muhammadu Buhari must have happened only in the fertile imagination of PDP National Publicity Secretary, one Debo Ologunagba.

“Nigerians should disregard this fake news from a party that has lost touch with reality and suffering the agony of violating its own rules on power rotation.

“Just as it has been masterminding fake news against the APC presidential candidate and trying vainly to cause disharmony in the APC family, we believe the party may have planned to embarrass President Buhari in Kano and then put the blame on host Governor Ganduje and Tinubu.

“This is because PDP has of recent morphed from being a Buhari virulent critic to strangely becoming a Buhari spokesperson! The last time it issued a self-serving misinterpretation of Asíwájú’s statement in Abeokuta as an attack on President Buhari.

“It should be quite obvious to Nigerians that the knowledge of impending defeat of PDP at the coming presidential poll has pushed the party and its candidate into frenzied hallucinatory mode of mindless, ridiculous, ludicrous litany of lies and fabrications against APC and its candidate.

“The PDP is a drowning party feverishly clawing at any straw of lies and lashing out in all delusional directions to keep afloat – but sink it will. We believe Nigerians are not taken in by the jejune antics.”

Onanuga also asked security agencies to “arrest” Ologunagba over his comments regarding the alleged attack.

 

 

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Ex-Minister Diezani in court to recover seized assets

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Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has asked a Federal High Court, Abuja, to vacate an order granted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for final forfeiture of her seized assets.

Alison-Madueke sought an order extending the time within which to seek leave to apply to the court for an order to set aside the EFCC’s public notice issued to conduct the public sale on her property.

The anti-corruption agency had planned to conduct a public sale of all assets seized from Alison-Madueke beginning from Jan. 9 as contained in its public notice following various court judgments/orders issued in favor of the commission as final forfeiture orders against property and personal effects of the former minister.

But in the motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/21/2023 dated and filed Jan. 6 by her lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, before Justice Inyang Ekwo, the ex-minister sought five orders from the court.

While Alison-Madueke is the applicant, the EFCC is the sole respondent in the suit.

The former minister who argued that the various orders were made without jurisdiction, said these “ought to be set aside ex debito justitiae.”

She said she was not given fair hearing in all the proceedings leading to the orders.

“The various court orders issued in favor of the respondent and upon which the respondent issued the public notice to conduct a public sale of items contained in the public notice most of which court the interest of the applicant were issued in breach of the applicant’s right to fair hearing as guaranteed by Section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, and other similar constitutional provisions,” she said.

She argued that she was neither served with the charge sheet and proof of evidence in any of the charges nor any other summons howsoever and whatsoever in respect of the criminal charges pending against her before the court.

She further argued that the courts were misled into making several of the final forfeiture orders against her assets through suppression or non-disclosure of material facts.

“The several applications upon which the courts made the final order of forfeiture against the applicant were obtained upon gross misstatements, misrepresentations, non-disclosure, concealment, and suppression of material facts and this honorable court has the power to set aside same ex debito justitiae, as a void order is as good as if it was never made at all.

“The orders were made without recourse to the constitutional right to fair hearing and right to property accorded the applicant by the constitution.

“The applicant was never served with the processes of court in all the proceedings that led to the order of final forfeiture,” she said, among other grounds given.

But the EFCC, in a counter affidavit deposed to by Rufai Zaki, a detective with the commission, urged the court to dismiss Alison-Madueke’s application.

Zaki, who was a member of the team that investigated a case of criminal conspiracy, official corruption and money laundering against the ex-minister and some other persons involved in the case, said investigation had clearly shown that she was involved in some acts of criminality.

He said Alison-Madueke was therefore charged before the court in charge no: FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018.

“We hereby rely on the charge FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018 dated 14th November 2018 filed before this honorable court and also attached as Exhibit C in the applicant’s affidavit,” he said.

The EFCC operative, who said he had seen the ex-ministers motion, said most of the depositions were untrue.

He said contrary to her deposition in the affidavit in support, most of the cases which led to the final forfeiture of the contested property “were action in rem, same were heard at various times and determined by this honorable court.”

He said the courts differently ordered the commission to do a newspaper publication inviting parties to show cause why the said property should not be forfeited to the Federal Government before final orders were made.

Zaki argued that one Nnamdi Awa Kalu represented the ex-minister in reaction to one of the forfeiture applications.

“We humbly rely on the judgment of Hon. Justice I.LN. Oweibo dated 10th September 2019 shown in Exhibit C of the applicant’s affidavit,” he said.

The officer said that contrary to her, the final forfeiture of the assets which were the subject of the present application was ordered by the court in 2017 and that this was not set aside or upturned on appeal.

According to him, the properties have been disposed of through due process of law.

Upon mentioning the matter on Monday, Alison-Madueke’s counsel, Oluchi Uche, told Justice Ekwo that they were just been served by the EFFC on Friday and they would need time to respond to the counter affidavit.

Farouk Abdullah, who appeared by the anti-graft agency, did not oppose and the judge adjourned the matter until May 8 for a hearing.

Alison-Madueke was Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.(NAN)

 

 

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