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Buni, Malami, Emefiele to confer with Buhari in UK

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  • Yobe Governor, Sani Bello differ on transfer of functions

  • Tinubu: party should remain democratic

The ousted caretaker chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mai Mala Buni, is due in London to confer with President Muhammadu Buhari, it was learnt last night.

Sources said Buni, who was expected to rush back home on Wednesday from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he went for medical checkup, had a rethink.

“He will now travel to London to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the situation in the party,” a source said.

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), it was learnt, had arrived in London also to meet with the President.

Another official listed to meet with the President is Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele.

It could not be confirmed last night whether the CBN governor had arrived in the UK capital.

Ahead of his London trip, there was a leak of Buni’s letter, which faulted Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s narratives on how Buni was removed as chairman of Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).

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A source, who spoke in confidence, said the APC crisis has shifted to London with Buni struggling for survival.

The source added: “Instead of coming home, Buni went London to state his own side of the crisis in the party and hear from the President on whether or not he directed that he should leave office. He has also gone there with facts and figures on the situation of the party.

“He has insisted that no verbal or written directive was given to him by the President. He said he cannot depend on third party information. He wants to know his fate directly from the President.

“I think Buni and his backers have succeeded in breaking some protocol barriers to see the President, who has been under pressure to hear the other side to APC crisis.

“Buni confided in some governors and few loyalists that he would clarify a few things in London including court injunction to halt the convention and defiance of presidential directives on the reform of the party.”

In Buni’s letter, the Yobe State governor legally handed over the affairs of the party to Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello before travelling out.

In the letter dated February 28, Buni directed Governor Bello to act in his absence as the chairman of CECPC.

A copy of the letter was sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and members of CECPC.

The letter reads: “This is to please inform you that I will be embarking on a medical trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from today, 28th February, 2022.

“In my absence, I hereby transmit the functions of my office as the National Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) to you.

“This is to enable the committee conclude all arrangements leading to the National Convention slated for March 26th, 2022 and other duties that may be required of the office.

“I invite all members to cooperate with Governor Abubakar Sani Bello by extending to him all the support that I have enjoyed from you.

“Please do accept the assurances of my best regards.”

However, Sani Bello denied receiving any transfer of authority letter from Buni. Speaking to reporters at the secretariat in Abuja, Sani Bello simply said: “I have not seen it.”

An aide to Buni, who spoke in confidence, said: “Buni couldn’t have been removed by anybody or a group of governors because his letter was explicit. He followed due process and nominated Bello to act for him.”

On Emefiele, a source said: “His mission was to brief the President on developments on the economy, particularly the effect of the Russia-Ukraine war on our earnings as well as the resultant huge subsidy on fuel.”

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Another said: “Emefiele might discuss his perceived presidential ambition with Buhari, in view of the Senate’s rejection of President Buhari’s request to amend a section of the new Electoral Act, which precludes appointed officials of government from voting or being voted for at primaries of political parties, unless they resign.”

Malami is expected, according to sources, to discuss some constitutional and legal issues with Buhari.

The Senate’s rejection of a presidential request to review Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 was said to be a source of concern to the Presidency.

It was learnt that the President and the AGF are likely to weigh options on the Electoral Act in line with the time constraint before the 2023 primaries begin in April.

One of the alternatives being considered was to approach the court for a pronouncement.

The sack of Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi by a Federal High Court will also feature because Malami was yet to issue an advisory on the judgment.

Another source added: “The AGF is in London to discuss the implications of the Senate’s rejection of a gentleman’s agreement with the President on Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act. The President needs legal advice on whether or not those in his cabinet and states’ executive councils should resign before the primaries.

“Buhari may rub minds with the AGF on any legal window which the government may explore to file an action in court.

“Some parties are already in court. So, the most important aspect is the implication of any court verdict on Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act on the 2023 general election. We are in dire straits because some Senators claimed that they cannot review the Electoral Act because it will affect the timetable for the 2023 poll.

“Yet, the fear of the President is that some political office holders will be disenfranchised. So, Buhari sees the Electoral Act as a violation of the fundamental human rights of those in political offices.

“Malami, believed to be interested in contesting to be governor of Kebbi State and others like the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Babatunde Fashola (Works), Uche Ogah (Mines and Steel), Chris Ngige (Labour and Employment), Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu (Science and Technology) and Festus Keyamo (SAN) (Minister of State for Labour and Employment) are affected.

The source added: “The removal of Governor Umahi by a Federal High Court and the dilemma APC is facing on the injunction against its March 26 convention are other legal matters which are sources of concern to the President.

“If the injunction is not vacated, APC cannot hold its National Convention. The party can defy the court by holding the convention and living with the consequences. This is why there is so much anger in the party.

“Since the sack of Umahi, the AGF has not made his position known as the Chief Legal Officer of the Federation. He is in London to share his views before addressing the nation.

“The manner in which Umahi attacked the Judiciary made most APC members to be upset with him. The AGF will also offer his advice.”

The Nation

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2023: E-Transmission Of Election Results Has Come To Stay – INEC

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Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday promised that the results of the 2023 general elections would be transmitted electronically.

There have been calls by stakeholders that the deployment of technology in the country’s electoral processes be enhanced to address hitches witnessed in previous elections.

It was against this backdrop that the Electoral Act was amended by the National Assembly. President Muhammadu Buhari had, on February 25, assented to the Election Act 2022 after its passage by the National Assembly.

One of the key provisions of the law is the deployment of technology in the electoral process.

Section 52(2) of the Act says: “Subject to Section 63 of this bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission (INEC), which may include electronic voting.”

Speaking on Wednesday in Abuja when he hosted a delegation of Media Trust Group (owners of Daily Trust newspapers and Trust TV) on election debate, the INEC boss said going forward, the electoral body would transmit election results electronically.

Media Trust Group is organising a series of debates for presidential and governorship candidates ahead of the next year’s general elections, dubbed ‘Media Trust Nigeria Election Debate 2023’.

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Yakubu, told the delegation that the transmission of elections results from the polling units (PUs) would be a permanent feature in the nation’s electoral processes.

“Yes, it is going to be permanent in all elections conducted by the commission going forward. But I wish to draw your attention to the fact that we did not start the electronic transmission, at least, from the polling units to the IReV Portal, in Anambra or FCT elections.

“It was actually on August 2020 that we deployed that for the Nasarawa Central State Constituency by-election, the first election conducted under COVID-19. So, if you look at the IReV Portal, you could see all the results from the 2020 to the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and all the other by-elections we conducted,” Yakubu said.

What INEC learnt from Kenyan presidential poll

On lessons learnt from the just-concluded Kenyan presidential election, Yakubu said that the INEC had received a letter from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya that it wanted to deploy the Kenya Integration Election Management System (KIEMS) and that it was going to transmit polling unit level results to the collation centre. KIEMS is the equivalent of the Nigeria’s Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

He said like Nigeria, the transmitted results were collated manually.

He also noted that Nigeria’s BIVAS is a significant improvement on the Kenya’s system because in Nigeria, the collations have to pass through several stages from the polling units to the ward level, to the local governments and the states before reaching the national portal for the presidential election.

This, Yakubu said, allows agents of all political parties and candidates to observe the collation process at all stages, unlike in Kenya where results go straight to the national portal.

The INEC chairman also said that while Nigeria learnt from the 2017 Kenyan elections, the Kenyans had also learnt a lot from the conduct of the 2019 and 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

He said the collation of results was faster in Kenya possibly due to the fewer numbers of polling units and registered voters compared to the larger number of same in Nigeria.

On pending by-elections, the INEC boss said that there were 27 pending by-elections across the country.

He said the commission would conduct the elections pending when court cases and insecurity in some of the affected constituencies were resolved.

Speaking further, Yakubu said the INEC would support the Media Trust Group’s debates in order to deepen issue-based politicking ahead of the 2023 elections.

According to him, there are other debates and more expected to be conducted ahead of the 2023 elections.

He, however, said that the commission would be watching all the debates like other Nigerians.

Daily Trust reports that for four months, three Senate seats: Borno North, Nasarawa West and Zamfara Central Senatorial Districts have been vacant following the resignation of the occupants, including the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu; Senator Abubakar Kyari and Senator Muhammad Hassan Nasiha.

The Media Trust Group delegation, including the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mallam Mounir Haliru Gwarzo, was led by the MTG’s Election Debate Committee Chairman, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim.

Ibrahim had earlier said that the visit was to seek the support and participation of the INEC in the coming debates and other activities to promote and sustain issue-based politics and campaigns in Nigeria.

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PDP crisis: Pressure mounts on Ayu to step aside, old video surfaces

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PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu

National Chairman of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Iyiochia Ayu, is under fresh intense pressure to step aside as a video of him pledging to do so should a northerner emerge as presidential candidate of the party is trending in the social media.

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APC supporters hold carnival as Tinubu visits Obasanjo

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Obasanjo, Tinubu

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, met behind closed doors with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta.

Both leaders had frank discussion.

Scores of supporters of the APC in state stormed Obasanjo’s residence, dancing and singing praises of the candidate while the meeting lasted.

The meeting, which started at 1.09pm, lasted for three hours and ended without either of the parties speaking with newsmen on the outcome.

Tinubu was believed to have seized the opportunity of the meeting to seek Obasanjo’s support for his presidential ambition.

The former Lagos State Governor was accompanied to Obasanjo’s Penthouse within  the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Oke- Mosan, Abeokuta, by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; a former National Chairman of the APC, Bisi Akande; and a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu,  among others.

He was received by the state governor, Dapo Abiodun; and former Governors Segun Osoba and Gbenga Daniel.

Also at the gathering were former deputy governors of the state, Gbenga Kaka and Salimot Badru and other state government functionaries.

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While Tinubu emerged from the Penthouse into the hands of the  crowd which  included newsmen, Obasanjo remained indoor as his guests made their way out after the meeting.

The presidential candidate did not grant press interview as he entered a waiting vehicle which conveyed him to the MKO Abiola Stadium for another programme.

When he was asked to address members of the Artisan Association of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter at the stadium, Tinubu only prayed for them and left the venue.

A source, who did not want his name because he was not authorised to speak to journalist on the outcome of the meeting, told our correspondent that some selected persons were allowed to join Tinubu and Obasanjo for the second phase of the meeting.

The source said a pre-meeting was held where almost all the personalities that followed him were in attendance.

The second phase of the meeting was said to have had only five persons who joined the two leaders in the inner room.

The source described the meeting as fruitful, saying the two parties agreed that no one should make the meeting a media affair.

The source said, “It was a very truthful and tough discussion from both sides.

“Obasanjo, as usual, was direct and Asiwaju was very straight forward in his report.”

Punch

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