Nigeria - Kogi: Wada, Akpoti, Melaye react to governorship, senatorial elections
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
Politics
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) in Saturday’s Kogi governorship election, Musa Wada, has described the results so far released by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a sham.

He rejected the results saying it did not reflect the wishes of the people who willingly cast their votes for him.

He urged all lovers of democracy to join hands with the PDP in the condemnation of the entire process.

While addressing journalists in Lokoja on Sunday flanked by his running mate, Sam Aro, Mr Wada decried what he tagged as the “militarisation of the election” alleging that security agents colluded with the APC to harass and intimidate voters.

He said the whole exercise was a daylight robbery as results were written everywhere for the APC.

“It is better for the government not to in the first place conduct the election when it knows it will not reflect the wishes of the people,” he said.

Mr Wada also accused the Commissioner of Police of relocating to Dekina collation centre to influence the elections in favour of the APC.

Mr Wada won nine of the 19 local government areas declared so far, scoring a total of 168, 144votes as against the APC candidate and governor of the state, Yahaya Bello, who scored 375,083 votes across 10 states.

Also the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Natasha Akpoti, has called for the outright cancellation of the election, saying it was a “civil war” imposed on the Kogi people by Mr Bello.

She said violence and thuggery inflicted on the people on election day should not be allowed to go without a penalty.

She said the results were a product of massive rigging.

Mrs Akpoti scored a total vote of 8539 votes from the 19 local government areas declared so far.

The candidate of the PDP in the Kogi West senatorial seat, Dino Melaye, also shared the view of the SDP, calling on INEC to cancel the election,

While reacting to the outcome of the election, Mr Melaye said he was surprised that INEC was busy declaring election which saw people dead and violence unleashed on the party.

He said the elections should be cancelled as they were heavily rigged.

Although the results of two local government areas were yet to be declared, it is obvious that Mr Bello is in a clear lead and most likely to emerge the winner.

The elections across the state were largely marked by violence, ballot box snatching, and vote-buying which left at least four persons dead.

Many observers, including PREMIUM TIMES reported the extent of violence and vote-buying that characterized the elections.

At least two observer groups, YIAGA and Situation Room, have called for the outright cancellation of the election.

But the National Commissioner for Voter Education, Media and Publicity, Festus Okoye, said the issue of cancellation of the results was beyond INEC, saying only the collation and return officers had the powers to make any pronouncement on the election.

He told Channels Television on Sunday that the commission did what it was required to do by law, and other stakeholders were required to play their roles to ensure a peaceful election.

The APC, which is set to win the Kogi governorship election, has however commended the process and the security operatives for their efforts. The party accused the PDP of trying to instigate violence when it knew it could not win the election.
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An elderly man casts his vote in Kabba Bunu, Kogi West 16/11/2019 NAN
Nigeria - PDP, APC squabble over polls’ credibility
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
Politics
Rights bodies flay elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, petition ICC

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections as shameful, saying the polls have damaged Nigerians’ faith in democracy.

In a statement, the opposition party said: “The shameful elections conducted in Kogi and Bayelsa states have damaged the faith of Nigerians in a democratic order. Nevertheless, the PDP remains strong and united in the face of all odds. Nigeria is our nation and no individual or group can appropriate our collective sovereignty as a people at all times.

“Nigerians and the entire world watched in horror as the APC-led government trampled our democracy under foot with an utmost impunity that can only be obtainable in Hitler’s Germany and Samuel Doe’s Liberia, where the lives and rights of citizens meant nothing to suppressive power-mongers.

“Citizens agonized as APC-controlled security forces aided armed hoodlums to invade polling centres, shoot and kill innocent citizens, cart away ballot boxes, stuffed them with already thumb-printed ballot papers in favour of APC, after which results are allocated and handed over to a compromised
INEC to announce against the will of the people.

“It is distressing that under the President Buhari-led APC administration, votes no longer count; power and governance no longer derive from the people but from violence, manipulations and the barrel of the gun. Nigerians now ask; are we still in a democracy?

“With the outcome of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, Nigerians and the world have lost hope in our institutions of democracy and security system as presently constituted. They have completely lost hope in INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, which has shown itself to be a repressive tool in the hands of dictatorial forces.

“As a party, we condole with the families of our compatriots that were killed in Kogi and Bayelsa states and prayed that God grant their souls eternal rest.“The shameful elections conducted in Kogi and Bayelsa states have damaged the faith of Nigerians in a democratic order. Nevertheless, the PDP remains strong and united in the face of all odds. Nigeria is our nation and no individual or group can appropriate our collective sovereignty as a people at all times.

“Our party will therefore continue to fully exert itself in upholding the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians despite the manipulations of the APC.“The PDP urges Nigerians to remain resilient and focused. Our party will, in due course, address Nigerians on the way forward in the overall quest to retrieve stolen mandates, rescue our nation from dictatorial forces and reinforce democratic practice in our country.”

But in a statement yesterday, the APC applauded the elections, saying; “In Kogi and Bayelsa States, we were certain of securing the majority votes for the two governorship seats and the Kogi West senatorial seat. “As expected, not being in the tradition of PDP to thrive under orderly and credible electoral process, they did their best to discredit the process. We are glad that the voting processes came to a successful end in Kogi and Bayelsa States.

“The party thanks security agencies and other officials who did their best to minimise the impact of the PDP thugs whose sole agenda was to create chaos and scare voters from coming out to vote. Of course, the PDP did not achieve their objective of winning through violence.”

Meanwhile, the elections have continued to draw criticisms over violence and intimidation by security operatives.The police confirmed three persons dead during the election in Kogi. Commissioner of Police, Akeem Busari, who made the disclosure to newsmen, said the command was still compiling its report on the poll, to ascertain the actual number of casualties. Busari also said 10 persons were arrested during the election.He said the three died in Lokoja when armed thugs invaded St. Luke Primary School, Adanakolo. He described the situation in the state as calm.

Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room said the Kogi State governorship and senatorial election was a major dent to Nigeria’s democratic process and called for its cancellation.It also called on INEC “to fully interrogate the election in Bayelsa State with view to identifying the high incidences of malpractice that took place and reflect the genuine vote of the people.”

Criticising the polls, former Kaduna State Governor and leader of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Balarabe Musa, said: “What do you expect from the results of the elections in the two states? The outcome is already known. There is no democracy in Nigeria.”

Also, rights group, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, YIAGA AFRICA rejected the outcome of the governorship and senatorial elections in Kogi State. Addressing a press briefing in Abuja, Abdul Hussaini, the chairman of YIAGA’s Watching The Vote, said the people of Kogi were not given the opportunity to fully exercise their right to vote. “Therefore, the results of these elections, regardless of the outcome, cannot be said to reflect the preferences of voters in Kogi.”

Rights body, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) went further by petitioning the International Criminal Court (ICC), asking it to investigate persons behind violence in Bayelsa and Kogi States during the elections.

The petition dated November 16, 2019 was sent to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, ICC Prosecutor.SERAP said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC. If the results of the preliminary investigation suggest that further investigation is warranted, the ICC should work with Nigerian anti-corruption agencies on the matter. Election-related corruption and violence are not just minor infractions, they suggest serious crimes against Nigerians, in particular, crimes against humanity.”

International observers, Diplomatic Watch, also expressed alarm over reports of violence and intimidation in both states.The Watch consists of teams deployed from Austria, European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States.

The PDP candidate in the Kogi State election rejected the poll, accusing the police of colluding with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to undermine the will of the people.Describing the results released by INEC as sham and murder of democracy, Musa Wada urged all lovers of fairness to join hands with the PDP in condemning the charade.

Flanked by his running mate, Sam Aro, during a press conference in Lokoja, Wada decried the militarisation of the election, even as he accused security agents of colluding with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to intimidate voters.

He said the exercise was daylight robbery, alleging that results were doctored for the APC. INEC should not have conducted the election if it knew it would not reflect the wish of Kogi people, he said.“Imagine, Okene LGA, which used to return 40,000 votes in past elections suddenly brought out 112,000 votes while her neighbour, Okehi, also brought in 64,000; figures that would be more than the rest of the local governments in the state.

“It is the insincerity of the APC that has made the whole process a sham. It is not about Wada but of the suffering masses of the state. I am pained for the people who would continue to suffer for another four years.”

On whether he could get justice at the courts, Wada said: “It is common knowledge how all the institutions have been bastardised by the APC government. However, I have to exhaust all legal means to get redress.”
“You can see that Lokoja, the state capital, which was agog yesterday is a shadow of itself as nobody is celebrating. The results are not the true representation of what happened on the field.

“We were prepared for the election. We campaigned across all the local government areas. But how can one confront a government with all the apparatus of cohesion? Imagine security agents using helicopters to teargas voters. It happened in Ganaja. Some people were shot at from the helicopter. In fact, two persons lost their lives.”

The candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mrs. Natasha Akpoti, also rejected the results of the poll, calling on INEC to cancel the election in Kogi Central Senatorial District and other parts of Lokoja, and order a rerun.In a petition to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Akpoti claimed election did not hold in 780 polling units in Kogi Central.

“The APC-led thugs were shooting at voters, which resulted in the death of voters. The thugs, in most cases, were shielded by security agents who were supposed to provide security for the citizenry.“What happened in Kogi Central and other parts of the state is a far cry from a credible election. Ballot boxes were destroyed and burnt in Okene, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori Magongo and Okehi Local Government Areas and other parts of the state.

“SDP agents were chased away from various polling units of Kogi Central. In some polling units, SDP agents were tied with ropes by APC thugs. In Okene Local Government, our agents were not even allowed to come near the polling units, as APC thugs were seen brandishing guns and announcing to voters not to come and vote unless they were to only vote APC.”

Also, the Bello/Onoja Governorship Campaign Council yesterday called on the PDP to shelve its alleged plan to spread falsehood. It urged the opposition party to await the conclusion of the election process, which it described as “free, fair and peaceful.”

According to a statement by Kingsley Fanwo, chairman of APC Media and Publicity Committee, the party said it had credible intelligence that “the leadership of the PDP has directed the national publicity secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, to quickly address a press conference, to condemn an ongoing process that has been adjudged free, fair, credible and peaceful, just because they are seeing the handwriting of people’s rejection on the wall.”
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National Commissioner in charge of Kogi, Kwara and Nassarawa, Muhammed Kudu Haruna (left); Resident Electoral Commissioner, INEC, Kogi State, Prof. James Apam and Administrative Secretary, INEC, Kogi
Nigeria - Buhari congratulates Bayelsa Governor-elect David Lyon
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
Politics
President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Bayelsa state governor-elect David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Lyon shocked his PDP challenger Senator Douye Diri, by winning the governorship election on Saturday by a large margin, in a state hitherto a stronghold of the PDP, since 1999.

His victory was announced by the returning officer, Prof. Faraday Orumwense, Vice-chancellor, University of Benin, at the INEC Collation Centre in Yenagoa on Sunday night.

Lyon won in six out of eight local government areas and scored 352,552 votes while the PDP candidate polled 143,172, more than half of the votes coming from Sagbama LGA, home base of Diri’s sponsor, Governor Seriake Dickson.

Buhari in a statement on Sunday night commended Lyon for the impressive victory, the first time the APC would win a governorship post east of the Nigeria since its formation in 2014.

President Buhari also commended APC supporters in particular and Nigerians in general in the State who exercised their civic rights in a peaceful manner, notwithstanding the pockets of unrest recorded in some locations.

Condemning the loss of lives in Bayelsa, particularly prior to the election, the President commiserated with the families of the victims.

‘‘Violence during elections vitiates our commitment to demonstrate to the world and upcoming generation that we are a people capable of electing leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner.’’

He noted that while officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies did their best within the ambit of the law to ensure free, fair and credible elections, it was unfortunate that pockets of unrest, mostly sponsored by desperate politicians, were recorded during the poll.

The President looked forward to working with the incoming government to improve the lives of the people in Bayelsa State, while ensuring the security of lives and property of all citizens.

President Buhari urged Governor-elect Lyon to carry other divergent interests along in the next phase of governance, imploring those not satisfied with the outcome of the poll to seek redress through the constitutionally established channels.
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Governor elect David Lyon
Nigeria - Buhari right not to have submitted certificates to INEC – Supreme Court
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by FricNews
Nov 15, 2019 - 10:11
Politics
The Supreme Court has held that President Muhammadu Buhari was right not to have submitted his academic credentials to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The court, while giving reason for dismissing the appeal by the PDP and Atiku Abubakar, held that Buhari was eminently qualified to contest the last presidential election.

The court held that contrary to claim by the appellants, no law requires a candidate to submit his/her academic certificates to INEC before being allowed to contest election.

The Supreme Court also held that the constitution does not require one to possess secondary school certificate to be qualified, but that schooling up to secondary school, without possessing the result of the final examination was sufficient.

It said, Buhari did not only show that he has secondary certificate and rose to the rank of Major General in the Army, attended military training, became the nation’s Head of State, could communicate in English and possessed primary school leaving certificate, all to the satisfaction of INEC.

The court upheld the decision of the PEPC on the issues of Buhari’s qualification and possession of relevant certificates.

It resolved issues 1 and 2 against the PDP and Atiku.
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World - Factbox: The rise of Spain's far-right - Vox becomes third-biggest party
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by FricNews
Nov 11, 2019 - 10:11
Politics
Far-right Vox became the third-largest party in Spain’s parliament in a national election on Sunday, winning 52 seats, up from 24 at its debut in April.

The April election was the first time a far-right party won more than one seat since Spain returned to democracy in the 1970s.

NEWCOMER RISING FAST

Founded in 2013 by former members of the mainstream conservative People’s Party, Vox is anti-Muslim, nationalist, anti-feminist, Eurosceptic, socially conservative, economically liberal, and staunchly pro-Spanish unity.

It got its first foothold in office last December, winning 12 parliamentary seats in a regional election in Andalusia.

Vox is aligned with the broader populist movement that has also risen swiftly in other European countries, notably Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and Italy.

CATALONIA AND BEYOND

One of Vox’s founding aims was “recentralisation”: rewriting the constitution to abolish regional autonomy and parliaments, a theme that has struck a chord with many after a failed independence bid by Catalonia in 2017 and unrest in the northeast triggered by jail sentences for separatist leaders last month.

Positioning itself as vehemently anti-secessionist, it has berated the caretaker Socialist government for making deals with separatists to win their backing in parliament over the past year, and for failing to maintain order in Catalonia.

FRANCO AND “SPANISH REBIRTH”

Vox has also capitalised on its opposition to the recent exhumation of Fascist leader Francisco Franco - whose legacy still divides opinion 44 years after his death.

Vox’s rhetoric plays with notions of a Spanish “rebirth”, with party leader Santiago Abascal referencing founders of fascist ideology, and Francoist sympathisers have joined its ranks.

PACTS WITH MORE MODERATE RIGHT

Following April’s election, Vox struck pacts with the People’s Party and centre-right Ciudadanos to govern major municipalities, including Madrid or Murcia, loosely based on their first regional pact in Andalusia. A GAD3 poll showed Vox got more votes in Murcia than any other party.

Vox successfully lobbied to remove the former Madrid mayor’s signature programme - a low-emissions zone in the exceptionally polluted capital - from the governing pact.

Economically, Vox’s manifesto has been ultra-liberal: halving the highest income tax rate to 15%, reducing corporate tax, and abolishing wealth and inheritance taxes. It also proposes to partially privatise Spain’s pension system.

CAMPAIGN STAR

Several opinion polls identified Abascal as the winner of Monday’s final pre-election debate as he delivered parts of his campaign message - on immigration, Spanish unity and wasteful public spending - largely unchallenged by his four rivals.

Spain's election board had blocked Vox from participating in debates before the April eletcion, so that Abascal was addressing such a large audience for the first time, as 8.2 million viewers tuned in.(Full Story here)

Abascal, 43, is a career politician from the Basque country. Echoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric, he has called for a wall to be built around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and paid for by neighbouring Morocco.

“I am a supporter of discrimination,” he told 7TV Andalucia in 2017.

OTHER VOX PROPOSALS

* Intensify diplomatic efforts to return Gibraltar to Spain

* Repeal the law that bans Franco-era symbols and envisages compensation to dictatorship’s victims

* Ban medical procedures such as gender change and abortion under the public health system

* Repeal the law on gender violence

* Pass a law to protect bullfighting

* Deport illegal immigrants and any legal immigrants who commit a crime

* Shut “fundamentalist” mosques
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Nigeria - With 2019 Presidential Election Settled, Race for 2023 Begins
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by FricNews
Nov 01, 2019 - 9:11
Politics
With the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the appeal filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, the curtain finally fell on the poll, unveiling the hustling for the 2023 race.

THISDAY gathered wide-ranging consultations that had been restrained by the pendency of the appeal have now been unleashed with known gladiators whose presidential ambition has been barely concealed, hitting the road.

Leading the pack are two-term governor of Lagos State and National Leader, All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; his Kaduna State counterpart, Malam Nasir el-Rufai; former national chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega; and former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi.

A source said, although it is believed that Atiku might still show interest, his close associates are telling him that it is over and that he should take up an advisory role in politics.

The ambition of Obi, who was the running mate to Atiku in the February 23 presidential content, is said to be sustained by the clamour for a South-east presidency by Southern and Middle-Belt leaders, who argue that equity demands that after eight years of Buhari, the presidency should revert to the South of the country.

That the Southern leaders’ argument is failing is evidenced by the caliber of aspirants from the North and South-west, who analysts say, have positioned themselves strategically for the run.

Bola Tinubu

Clearly ahead of the jostle in terms of positioning, the two-term governor started the race long ago, when after a THISDAY publication of his presidential interest in 2017, he issued a clarification that he would only throw his hat into the ring if Buhari stood down from the race.

As president Buhari indicated interest for a rerun, he got appointed as the vice chairman of the presidential campaign council, a position second to only the president himself. With that, access to the presidential villa that had been partially shut for the greater part of the earlier days of the Buhari administration became more open to the consternation of his political tormentors in the inner recess of power.

Watchers of the power game say Tinubu has not only used the presidential campaign of Buhari to bounce back to reckoning but has also leveraged on his control of the party machinery, held in trust for him by the national chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.

Yemi Osinbajo

The vice president has been subject of a flurry of corruption insinuation in the media, particularly in the social space. His close associates told THISDAY that this is fueled by the belief of powerful forces that he is nursing a presidential ambition. “They wish to rubbish him,” a source said.

Although Osinbajo has not told anyone that he would be contesting for the coveted post, a few analysts contend that he might be looking to reap from the principle of right of first right of refusal. Said to be trusted by the president, he is said to be banking on that trust to reap the president’s support to push for him to ascend to the presidency. The case for that, said a source at the Presidential Villa, is the need for continuity.

Not a few political and social analysts agree that the little opportunity he got to stand in for his boss, he proved that he too could be president.

Respected for his intellectual clarity and wide understanding of political and economic issues, Osinbajo, say some political watchers, may be the dark horse that would upstage Tinubu in the impending contest. But will vested interests baying for blood in the media allow him?

Kayode Fayemi

Also reputed for his intellectual arsenal, Fayemi is believed to be positioning for the presidential slot. Political analysts point to his deft political move in clinching the position of the chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum earlier in the year, pointing out that he appears to be leveraging on it.

To be fair, said an analyst, the Ekiti State governor, who just clocked one year of his second tenure, has shown leadership in his new position, breathing life into the almost comatose forum under former Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari.

Standing on the forum’s platform, Fayemi, who was also minister of Solid Minerals, has been around the country, either delivering addresses or leading his colleagues on one advocacy or the other, the most recent being the governors’ battle against wholesome deduction of bailout refund as well as uniform implementation of minimum wage and the allied consequential adjustment.
He is believed to be sounding out his colleagues and other power brokers on what 2023 would look like as he moves around the country supposedly on the forum’s assignment.

Tunde Bakare

The fiery pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly is the only one of the lots that has openly declared his intention to replace Buhari at the villa.

Having run the race with Buhari in 2007, Bakare said he was the most suitable person to succeed the president in 2023. He told his congregation recently that he was not only interested in the race but was certain to win.

It is, however, unclear on which platform he would run being without a known party presently.

Nasir el-Rufai

When in a prologue titled, ‘Defeating a Determined Incumbent – The Nigerian Experience,’ which he contributed to a book –Power of Possibilities and Politics of Change in Nigeria – written by the Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Mr. Salihu Lukman, el-Rufai, canvassed the argument for the scrapping of zoning, to give way for competency, those not versatile in the subtlety in the nuances of Nigerian politicians would look at the argument on the face value.By 2023 when Buhari is expected to round off his term, power is expected to return to the South under the nation’s informal arrangement of power rotation.

Should the political elite buy into el-Rufai’s well-considered argument, the 2023 race will be opened to aspirants from the North, especially in the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP that to a large extent considered the power rotational principle an article of faith.

And one of the main beneficiaries of such a new arrangement would be the promoter of the no-more-zoning campaign: el-Rufai.

El-Rufai, who by 2023 would have ended his tenure as governor, is one of the key Northerners being touted to take a shot at the presidency. Although he has not officially acknowledged his political ambition, as typical of a Nigerian power seeker, there is no doubt he nurses an ambition to be the next occupant of Aso Rock.

Just on Wednesday, a shadowy organisation, Nasiriyya Group, modelled after a grassroots association promoted by former Kano State Governor, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, for political mobilisation, rallied the governor’s loyalists to launch his 2023 bid.

The Nasiriyya Group, a support group loyal to el-Rufai, and headed by Alhaji Ibrahim Nabuga, Garkuwan Rijau, has started putting the blocks together to give wings to el-Rufai’s muted ambition. The Plateau State Chairperson of the group, Hajiya Nafisatu Omar, made a pitch for him, describing the governor as “a detribalised, and not a religious bigot, suitable for the job of a president.” The group has opened a campaign office for el-Rufai in Jos has launched the Nasiriyya Organisation Support Group(NOSG) to drive the governor’s yet-to-be declared presidential bid.

A quantity surveyor, who launched his public service career as Director General of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), to oversee the nation’s privatisation programme under the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, made such an impressive showing that he got promoted to cabinet rank as Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) during Obasanjo’s second term from 2003 to 2007.

El-Rufai, who will be 63 by 2023, is a focused administrator who pursues his agenda with determination and has networks across party lines.

Peter Obi

Against the run of play, Mr. Peter Obi, a businessman with vast interest in banking, brewery and commerce, among others, emerged the running mate to Atiku. What undoubtedly gave him the post despite opposition from his fellow South-east politicians, where the position was zoned to, was his eight-year stewardship as governor of Anambra State and his reputation as a parsimonious manager of public funds.

Had the PDP succeeded with its appeal at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, he would have been the nation’s vice president by now. But with the apex court’s summary dismissal of the appeal and age not being on his septuagenarian principal side by the next election season, Obi, who is now 58, looks sure, for now, as one of the likely serious contenders to scramble for the presidency in 2023.

Given the groundswell of sentiments for the South-east to be allowed to take a shot at the presidency, for the first time since the rebirth of democracy in 1999, given his credentials, Obi would stand tall among his kindred, should such concession get a nationwide backing.

The 1984 Philosophy graduate of University of Nsukka, and member of the Presidential Economic Team in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan began his foray into politics when he vied for the governorship of his state on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2003.

Before he left office in 2014, he had started hobnobbing with the PDP, the then ruling party and his eventual defection to the party came as no shock to political watchers.

Aminu Tambuwal

Until the last hours, the auguries favoured Tambuwal, a former speaker, House of Representatives, to pick the PDP presidential ticket to square up to Buhari for the occupation of Aso Rock, the seat of power. He and Atiku were the frontline contenders for the party’s ticket and with backing from the powerful bloc of his fellow governors, he looked good to clinch the ticket until the table finally turned in favour of Atiku. With his defeat by Atiku, he returned to his state where through subterfuge, he had prepared the ground to be able to run for the governorship election, in case he lost the presidential ticket as he eventually did.

Tambuwal, now 53, is a 1991 graduate of Law from the Usman Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto, who began his political career at the outset of the Fourth Republic in 1999 as a Personal Assistant on Legislative Affairs to the then Senate Leader, Senator Abdullahi Wali.

In 2003, he contested election into the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to represent the Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency, and won.

Towards the 2007 general elections, he dumped the ANPP to join former Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, in Democratic People’s Party (DPP), which the latter founded. His membership of DPP was, however, brief as he returned to ANPP when his new party denied him, along with some other defectors, tickets to run for election. Again, he dumped the ANPP and moved with the party’s governorship candidate for Sokoto State in the 2007 election, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, to PDP.

During his stay in the House of Representatives, he was minority leader, deputy chief whip and at various times, a member of several committees, including the House Committees on Rules & Business, Communications, Judiciary, Inter-Parliamentary and Water Resources.

Should the PDP throw open the 2023 race by abandoning the zoning policy or conceding the presidency to the North, Tambuwal, who is a veteran of many political battles and has over the years built political alliance across party lines, is in a good stead to vie for the party’s ticket.

Attahiru Jega

Until June 8, 2010 when the then President Goodluck Jonathan nominated him as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the reputation many Nigerians have of Prof. Attahiru Jega, a former Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, was that of an academic and a unionist.

As President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), in the early 1990s, Jega rallied the union behind labour and other activists to form a body of opposition to the military administration of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, over his convoluted transition programme and other policies.

However, his defining moments were his superintendence of the electoral commission, especially after the shambolic conduct of the 2007 elections by his predecessor, Prof. Maurice Iwu, which the winner of the presidential stanza, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, said had shortcomings and his running mate who eventually succeeded him, Jonathan, confessed caused him a lot of embarrassment, notwithstanding the Supreme Court judgment that upheld their victory.

Jega, a leftist academic with a doctoral degree in Political Science from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois in the United States, brought credibility to the conduct of elections in the country that under his leadership, led to a drastic reduction in number of election petitions filed to challenge electoral outcomes.

His leadership style and predisposition contributed largely to the plaudits that trailed the conduct of the 2015 general election that saw for the first time in Nigeria’s annals the defeat of an incumbent president and the peaceful transfer of power from the ruling party to the then opposition party.

He returned to his base after his tour of duty at INEC and nothing could have linked him to the jostling for the 2023 presidential race but for his declaration in August for the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), a party with a leftist leaning.

Since his declaration for the party, the polity has been awash with tales of Jega’s warming up to throw his hat into the ring and be an active participant in a race he was once the chief officiating official.
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Liberia - Scapegoats?
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by FricNews
Oct 21, 2019 - 9:10
Politics
President George Manneh Weah has dismissed the president of the State – run University of Liberia (UL), Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, at a time the University’s faculty members are striking for salaries.Her dismissal comes days after a social media post purported to be that of Rep. Acarous Gray of the Coalition of Democratic Change or CDC accused officials of the former regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who are still serving in the Weah’s government as the hidden hands behind the series of recent demonstrations including that of the students of the Monrovia Consolidated School System or MCSS.

Following that alleged accusation, photographs of Dr. Weeks touring with former President Sirleaf circulated on social media again purported to be from Rep. Gray insinuating that the plans of the Mrs. Sirleaf’s appointed officials were working. This was published hours after faculty members of the state run University had also threatened to go on a go slow if their overdue salaries were not paid.

This news also come at the time another appointed official from the Mrs. Sirleaf regime tendered in his letter of resignation from the sometime last week. Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, now former Director-General of the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL), is reported to have tendered in his resignation to President Weah on October 9, 2019 and might vacate office on November 29, 2019.

It is not clear whether Mr. Nyenswah’s resignation is as a result of the alleged accusation by the CDC lawmaker that these former officials of the Mrs. Sirleaf regime serving in the Weah’s government are undermining his administration.Meanwhile, President Weah who is also the Visitor to the University of Liberia has appointed Dr. Julius Sawolo Nelson as the University’s new president.

President Weah’s decision came just a day after Dr. Weeks’ plead with faculty members to return to their respective classrooms while their concerns were being addressed.
Protests for salaries have been ongoing in recent times in various government institutions, including national public health workers union and public high school teachers.

Dr. Weeks was appointed UL president nearing the end of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s last term in 2017 and was inducted in September that year as the University’s 14th president.Her successor, Dr. Nelson who has worked at the University for years as Dean will face Senate confirmation hearing for the job.

In other appointments, President Weah has nominated Mr. Edwin Juah as Assistant Minister for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Mr. Ssiaka Sheriff as Assistant Minister for Research, Planning and Development at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
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Liberia - VP Taylor Urges Women to Prepare Now for 2020 Elections
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by FricNews
Oct 17, 2019 - 10:10
Politics
Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, ahead of the 2020 mid-term senatorial election in which 15 of the 30 senators are seeking reelection, has challenged her women colleagues to begin preparation now in order to make themselves politically relevant to the constituents if the Legislature can have a good number of them.

VP Taylor, Liberia’s first female Vice President and second to former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to occupy such a senior elected position in government, is an advocate for gender equity in political participation. Prior to her ascendancy to the VP position, she served as Senator of Bong County before the 2017 presidential election and went ahead to carve a resolution calling for 30 political seats exclusively for women.

“As 2020 approaches, women are not making effort to start soon, but sitting until when it is six months to election before coming up to express their interest in the process. You are supposed to start working by now before that time,” VP Taylor said.

She made the statement on the Campus of the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) Graduate School, during its 5th Lecture Series, held on October 14, 2019. She said women remain complacent and make the mistake of not gearing up now to prepare for the time ahead, in spite of the advocacy that is taking place not only in public talk in the media, but also on document for passage at the Legislature.

She assumed that 49% of Liberia’s population constitutes women, stressing that this percentage is huge enough to decide the outcomes of election.  She said because women have been seen as domestic servants to do all the work in the home, while the boys and men sit to play checkers, football and other games, women are finding it difficult to participate at a larger scale in government.

“Just imagine seeing a senate of 30 senators, and only one woman is among 29 men; and 73 Representatives are in the House with about eight or nine women.  As such, women will not have a voice to air and make decisions about what affects them,” VP Taylor said.

She further told the students that in order for women to realize what they want, they must be determined to decide and work at it. She also called on women to avoid hatred for one another as has always been the case when they converge to prioritize women candidates in the upcoming election so that at least 15 of the new senators coming on board can be women.

VP Taylor, through advocacy for women’s participation in politics and other areas of life for gender balance, could not withhold what could be true about how many women present themselves in the competitive environment.

She acknowledged that many women are afraid to study Biology, Physics, Chemistry and other science courses, because they believe that the subjects are difficult to study.  Rather, she said women prefer Sociology and other business courses which, after graduating from university, will not provide them jobs or cause them to be in demand  in the job market.

“How many jobs can Sociology provide for the many women graduating from universities?  If you study Engineering, Biology, and other science courses that will put you in demand for the job market, you will see yourself going up,” VP Taylor said.

Highlighting some conditions that manifest marginalization of women in the Liberian society, the Vice President said in the home, for instance, girl children are made to work more than boys because the perception is that the woman will marry and will apply such duty in her home.

She also noted that in most of the villages across Liberia, schools are built far from the towns so that the young girl child cannot easily cover the distance, as would the boys.  “By the time the girl has reached the age to walk with the boys to the school built far from the village, she has left behind plenty of things she should have covered along with the boys,” she noted.

VP Taylor said that gender encompasses every sphere of life and that, having gender equity in every part of a society will enhance development, leaving no one behind in participation.

She said gender was not about making someone a subordinate or superior, but it is about having partners; mainly a man and a woman, walking side by side in fostering socioeconomic development that will alleviate poverty, referencing the Bible, which says that the woman was taken from the side of a man and not from the foot or from the head.

The lecture series at which VP Taylor spoke is one that invites high profile government and diplomatic officials, as well as private sector actors, to discourse on issues relative to such functionaries.

This monthly lecture series, according to Dr. Augustine Konneh, Dean of the Graduate School, is shifting the thoughts of the students from youthful imagination to a mature state that will put them in position of decision making.

The previous lecture was on Human Trafficking, delivered by guest lecturer, United States Ambassador Christine Elder.
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VP Taylor lectures students on Gender
Nigeria - PDP, APC in fresh fight ahead of Supreme Court’s ruling
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by FricNews
Oct 14, 2019 - 8:10
Politics
With an appeal by the presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, awaiting determination at the Supreme Court, his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday intensified the fight to assert their credibility before Nigerians.The Spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, fired the first round in a write-up dubbed “Nigeria’s opposition is missing,” where he claimed: “The opposition is close to reneging completely on the compact it holds with the voters.” This, according to Shehu, amounts to “dereliction of duty.”

He said rather than “scrutinise” the business of governance and “hold the government to account,” the opposition has busied itself with fake news and the pursuit of legal redress, which he termed “lawfare.”

Atiku and PDP recently filed a 66-ground appeal at the apex court, following the verdict by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld Buhari’s victory in the February 23 presidential poll.

“The opposition’s over-excretions are leaving a mess for the elected government to clean up,” Shehu lamented, affirming: “Last week, they opened their next salvo in lawfare by taking they are the exact same, fatally flawed case to Nigeria’s Supreme Court. We must sincerely hope the opposition has the wherewithal to appreciate they will fail once more, given the facts and the math remain the same.”

APC spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu, jumped into the fray, declaring: “As a party that believes in democracy and progressive politics, we cannot pretend any longer. Democracy cannot be said to be fully operational in a situation where the supposed ‘main’ opposition party, PDP, has become a joke, irresponsible and rudderless.”

Issa-Onilu, in a statement, said: “There is a lot to gain by our democracy and our country in an atmosphere of robust engagement by responsible and patriotic opposition. The political system we practise has important roles for the political parties outside of power. The system envisaged that such parties would provide alternative viewpoints and put the governing party on its toes.

“Instead, the PDP and their minions have in the name of opposition continued to distract the government and Nigerians with their post-election delusions, salacious fictions, conjured rifts in government circle and, of course, the lowest of it all, the pathetic and senseless Jubril of Sudan malicious tale, among other fake news. Tragic!”

He added: “As the current administration tackles our national challenges, and at a period we all should focus on issues of nation-building, the best PDP and its acolytes are offering is a distraction. While the PDP wallows in its obscene conduct, Nigeria under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration will continue to consolidate on its status as Africa’s largest economy.”

But the opposition party countered the accusations, maintaining: “The PDP does not contain certificate forgers. It is not the party of people who are contrivers. Our political party is relating directly with Nigerian people and we are working assiduously to make sure that democratic tenets of our nation are not only entrenched but seen to be entrenched in our nation.”

At a news conference, PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party would not have space to respond to the gimmicks of “former democrats who went around the nation and brought a despot into a democratic order,” and would, therefore, ensure “the mandate which was given to Atiku and has been stolen is restored to us.”

He said: “Neither do we have space to engage in verbal discussion with characters who are known to be pillaging and stealing directly from the patrimony of our nation. As such, we are not going to respond to the innuendos such characters are bandying.”

He said because of the emptiness of the ruling party, the PDP decided to create an alternative government, to make suggestions on how good governance should be entrenched.

“PDP has been carrying out that responsibility. As far as APC needs to know, our nation has survived dictators. We have succeeded as a people to ensure that those who seek to rule us without our consent do not succeed. And as such, it is strange and totally unacceptable that the APC and the Buhari presidency will, within its whimsical thinking, claim that Nigeria will become a one-party state.

“This country is a resilient nation and no individual no matter how highly placed in the past has succeeded in reducing us to a nation of cowards. Even today, it will be unacceptable to Nigerians to be so reduced. So, PDP will continue to play its opposition role and we will play it successfully.”

The PDP further faulted alleged moves by the government to gag the media. It warned: “This dictatorial pathway which the Buhari presidency seeks to impose if allowed, will herald the gradual emasculation of freedom of expression, repression of a free press, infringements on the rights of citizens and foisting of siege mentality on the people.”It said the decision by Buhari to impose stringent regulations on online media and broadcast organisations, as recently announced by the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, is completely obnoxious, anti-democratic, and a direct violation of statutory rules governing media practice and freedom of expression in Nigeria.
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Tunisia - Election: exit polls point to landslide win for 'Robocop' Kais Saied
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by FricNews
Oct 14, 2019 - 8:10
Politics
Political outsider Kais Saied has thanked the country’s young people “for turning a new page” in Tunisia after exit polls pointed to a landslide victory for the conservative academic in a presidential runoff with media magnate Nabil Karoui.

In a contest that reflected Tunisia’s shifting post-revolution political landscape, Saied, an independent, scooped 72.5% of the vote according to the Emrhold exit poll, and 76.9% in the Sigma one – more than 40 points ahead of Karoui.

Thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Tunis to celebrate Saied’s victory, honking horns and singing the national anthem. “It’s a historic day: Tunisia is reaping the fruits of the revolution,” said Boussairi Abidi, a 39-year-old mechanic. “Kais Saied is going to put an end to corruption, he will be a fair president.”

The official results are expected on Monday. Karoui told a news conference he had been denied a chance to compete fairly and would decide whether to appeal once the electoral commission had announced the official tally.

In his first reaction, Saied thanked the country’s young people and vowed to try to build “a new Tunisia”. About 90% of 18- to 25-year-olds voted for Saied, according to estimates by the Sigma polling institute, compared with 49.2% of voters over 60.

“Kais Saied, voice of the people,” a gathered crowd chanted. “Long live Tunisia!”

The runoff was contested by two political newcomers – Saied, nicknamed “Robocop,” and businessman Karoui, who was dubbed Tunisia’s “Berlusconi”.

They trounced the old guard in a first round of voting on 15 September, highlighting voter anger at a stagnant economy, joblessness and poor public services in the cradle of the Arab Spring.

Karoui walked free from prison on Wednesday, having spent more than a month behind bars on suspicion of money-laundering.

The poll, Tunisia’s second free presidential elections since its 2011 revolt, followed the death of president Beji Caid Essebsi in July. Turnout was higher than in the first round, and estimated at around 57%.

In one polling station, voters said they were divided between “the one who will apply the law” and the one “who helps the poor”, referring to a charity television show that boosted Karoui’s popularity.

Karoui portrayed himself as a bulwark against political Islam, which he accused his rival of supporting.

Saied, a 61-year-old constitutional law expert, whose low-cost, door-to-door campaign caught fire in the country, called for Tunisians “to make a choice today in complete freedom”.

“You have created a new concept of revolution, let your conscience guide you,” he said, casting his ballot.

Saied campaigned upon the values of the 2011 revolution, based on opposition to westernised and corrupt elites, and in favour of radical decentralisation.

H A Hellyer, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, tweeted: “Congratulations to Tunisia; less for whom they voted, and more for showing a continued commitment to resolving differences via peaceful transitions.”

For what was the third election in four weeks, some Tunisians organised car-sharing and free transport for students who had to travel far to their home towns to cast their ballots.

“I am doing it out of love for my country. I support the one who embodies hope for Tunisia,” said taxi driver Bakri who offered free rides to Saied supporters between Tunis and the coastal city of Nabeul.

While the candidates were both seen as anti-establishment figures, the contrast between them was sharp, with Saied earning his nickname for his rigid and austere manner.

A social conservative, he has defended the death penalty, criminalisation of homosexuality and a sexual assault law that punishes unmarried couples who engage in public displays of affection.

Saied taught at the Tunis faculty of judicial and political sciences for nearly two decades.

Karoui presented himself as a candidate for the poor and the appeal of the flamboyant candidate, who always appeared in designer suits, stemmed largely from his media empire and philanthropic activity.

After the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Nessma TV channel that Karoui founded turned from entertainment programming towards news, becoming one of Tunisia’s largest private broadcasters.

Karoui has dismissed the allegations against him as politically motivated.
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 People come out onto the streets of Tunis after exit polls suggested a win for Kais Saied in Tunisia’s presidential election. Photograph: Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters
Zimbabwe - 600 delegates to supervise Zanu-PF DCC elections
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by FricNews
Oct 11, 2019 - 9:10
Politics
MORE than 600 delegates drawn from Zanu-PF’s eight provinces arrived yesterday to supervise the party’s District Coordinating Committee (DCC) elections for Harare on Saturday.

The delegates were drawn from Masvingo, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Manicaland, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Midlands.

They will be led by provincial chairpersons who will subsequently report to the team of five Politburo members led by national chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri that is overseeing the re-establishment of a District Co-ordinating Committees (DCC).

The other Politburo members are Secretary for Administration Dr Obert Mpofu, Political Commissar Cde Victor Matemadanda, secretary for Finance and Economic Development Cde Patrick Chinamasa and secretary for Security Cde Lovemore Matuke.

The party’s DCCs were disbanded in 2012 after it was felt they had been hijacked by elements that wanted to manipulate party structures to foment factionalism and disharmony in the party.

Zanu-PF National Political Commissar Cde Victor Matemadanda said the delegates will be briefed on the tasks today.

“We want to have a clean voting exercise to ensure the party come up with proper structures, which will be used in the formation of other structures such as cells, wards, branches and provincial structures,” he said.

In addition, Cde Matemadanda said the increase in the numbers of supervisors was meant to maintain the integrity of the process.

“It is now all systems go as the party is ready to conduct successful DCC elections. The printing of ballot papers is currently underway and is almost through. We expect the printing of ballots to be through by the end of the day (yesterday).”

The reintroduction of DCCs is the first step towards the re-structuring of the party as Zanu-PF prepares for the 2023 harmonised elections.

After Harare, the DCC elections will move to Bulawayo and spread to all the other provinces.
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Cde Matemadanda
Nigeria - APC, Buhari under fire over insults on Jonathan
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by FricNews
Oct 07, 2019 - 10:10
Politics
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday said the All Progressives Congress (APC) unwarranted invective on former President Goodluck Jonathan was misdirected as it best suits President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, which has “gone down as the most incompetent and most corrupt in the history of our nation.”

The party said the distortions and groundless attack on President Jonathan is a desperate tactic by the APC and the Buhari Presidency to divert public attention from the recent shocking corruption and fraud revelations in which close relatives and confidants of Mr. President are
mentioned.

In a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, the opposition party claimed that it has been made aware of “how the Presidency has been in a frenzy to suppress investigations and deflect public enquiries from the arrest of President Buhari’s known confidant deported from the United Kingdom for alleged international passport scam and money laundering, as it
knows that an inquest will further expose the huge rot in the Buhari Presidency.”

“Our party has equally been made aware of how the APC and the Buhari Presidency have been desperate to divert public attention from the administration’s obnoxious decision to further oppress Nigerians by reintroducing tollgates on our highway, increasing Value Added Tax
(VAT), electricity bill and other tariffs as well as their despicable plot to sack government workers.”

The PDP also charged the APC and the Buhari Presidency to “perish the idea of thinking that this unnecessary distortions on the Jonathan administration would bury the demand for an inquest into the Danu racket through which billions of naira meant for the wellbeing of Nigerians are
allegedly being diverted to private purses.”

The opposition party also stressed that Nigerians should note how the APC had remained silent since

revelations that its key leaders and the cabal at the Presidency are involved in the stealing of over N14 trillion meant for the wellbeing of Nigerians.

“Our party further challenges the APC and the Buhari Presidency to speak out on the alleged diversion of the N500bn meant for the Social Investment Programme among other humongous fraud directly perpetrated under the Buhari Presidency.

“Furthermore, in trying to tar the PDP, the APC forgets that it is already common knowledge that all the bad eggs that brought a bad name to the PDP have since left our repositioned party to the APC where their National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who also has a huge corruption
allegation on his neck, admitted that the party is a haven for corrupt persons.

“Moreover, the fact that President Buhari can only surround himself with persons openly indicted for corruption, as ministers and advisers, speaks volume of the administration’s posturing on corruption,” the statement added.

The PDP therefore charged the APC not to think that it can cover its mess by trying to make “unfounded allegations against President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP as Nigerians can now see through their shenanigans.”
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Nigeria - Buhari’s independence broadcast insult to Nigerians – PDP
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by FricNews
Oct 02, 2019 - 9:10
Politics
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s Independence Day broadcast as an insult on the psyche of Nigerians and a mockery of the nation’s integrity as an independent state.

The party said the President’s speech was completely unpresidential, lacking in patriotic stance and replete with manifest inconsistencies, contradictions, paradoxes and false performance claims.

In a statement Tuesday by the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, the main opposition party said the President’s broadcast was a “mockery of democracy” and has further confirmed that the country is in wrong hands.

It noted that President Buhari, in his recorded address, failed to forcefully address the key issues of freedom, social justice, constitutional order, separation of powers, rule of law, human rights, credible elections, national cohesion, accountability and transparency in government.

According to the PDP, President Buhari ignored these very fundamentals of an independent state, because his administration had violated them all.

It expressed regrets that the President had no forceful reassurances on the challenge of escalated insecurity under his watch.

“He (President) had no clear-cut and operable blueprint to revamp our economy, which his administration wrecked in a period of four years, resulting in so much hardship and despondency that Nigerians now resort to suicide and slavery abroad as options.

“Our party notes that this address further exposes that the Buhari Presidency is not interested in nation building; that it is completely disconnected from the people and remains insensitive to the plights of Nigerians”, the PDP said.

The party further stated that if anything, the President only succeeded in further demonstrating that his administration is, indeed, in no position to deliver a credible, acceptable and satisfactory independence address.

This PDP lamented that under the Buhari Presidency, the nation has experienced the worst form of division, deprivation, human right abuse, constitutional violations, disregard for rule of law, electoral malpractices, disobedience to court orders, disrespect for separation of powers and curtailing of press freedom.

It added that due to the incompetence and legitimacy challenges confronting the Buhari Presidency, the nation has lost its voice and due regard in the international arena; “as the administration has remained lacking in the required capacity and boldness to forcefully engage other world leaders on critical issues”.

“The dearth in foreign direct investments and the inhuman treatments being meted out on our citizens in countries where we were once held in very high esteem, are some of the injuries our nation is suffering under the Buhari administration”, the statement said.

The party observed that while other leaders motivate their citizens on Independence Day, President Buhari presented uninspiring claims, propaganda and empty promises, describing the development as “depressing”.

The PDP however urged Nigerians not to despair but keep hope alive, as the nation collectively awaits the Supreme Court to deliver justice and retrieve “our stolen” presidential mandate, so that the nation will have a leadership that it truly deserves at this point in the nation’s history. 
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Nigeria - 2023: Presidency speaks on Buhari extending his tenure
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by FricNews
Oct 02, 2019 - 8:10
Politics
The Presidency has reacted to the report making the rounds that he may seek to amend the constitution in order to stay on beyond 2023.

One of the President’s support groups had last week staged a protest calling for his tenure to be extended.

The Presidency, however, in a statement signed by Garba Shehu, said he wishes “to correct internet-based gossip and un-informed media commentary regarding presidential term limits, given credence by so-called support groups, staging street demonstrations asking President Muhammadu Buhari to do a third term.”

The statement added that “There are no circumstances – nor set of circumstances – under which President Buhari may seek to amend the Constitution regarding the two-term term limit on holding office as President.

“President Buhari intends to serve his full second elected term in office, ending 2023 – and then there shall be a general election in which he will not be a candidate.

“There is not even the faintest possibility that this will change.

“It is important to note that there was a past attempt to change the Constitution to allow for the-then incumbent president to stand for a third term. That attempt was wrong, unconstitutional – and rightly rebuffed. No such attempt will happen under this President.

“President Buhari is a democrat. He respects the Constitution. Any activity aimed at altering the two-term limit will not succeed and shall never have his time nor support.”
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Liberia - House Gets 51 Signatures to Establish War, Economic Crimes Court
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by FricNews
Oct 01, 2019 - 9:10
Politics
— Expects Senate concurrence

The Daily Observer has gathered that eight representatives have added their signatures to the already 43 obtained earlier, totaling 51, of the 73 lawmakers to compel the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in the country.

The lawmakers’ decision, came five days after President George Weah’s message to the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in which he outlined major steps to bring justice for atrocities committed during Liberia’s civil wars (1989-2003) by endorsing a war and economic crimes court.

On September 23, the Daily Observer reported that 43 representatives had signed the Resolution for the Establishment of a war and economic crimes court, and six signatures were needed to oblige the House of Representatives to legally act on the document as the Liberian Constitution calls for at least two-thirds membership of both Houses.

In an exclusive interview with three (names withheld) of those wanting the establishment of war and economic crime court on Monday, September 30, they said that the “Resolution for the Establishment of the War and Economic Crime Court” is expected to be on the House Agenda on Wednesday, October 1, 2019, for onward transmission to the Senate for a concurrence of the signatures of at least 19 Senators, which is two-thirds of the Senate.

They said in separate interviews that if the Senate concurred, with the Resolution on the Establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court it will be sent to the President for approval or attestation, and then be printed into handbills.

The anonymous representatives told the Daily Observer that Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah, who is allegedly accused as being one of the perpetrators, signed the resolution and, when contacted, confirmed signing and said that he (Kolubah) is poised to exonerate himself before the court.

The sources said Deputy Speaker Prince Moye also signed as well as Representative Edward Karfiah. But the source failed to state whether Speaker Bhofal Chambers has signed or not. But sources in the Speaker’s office said that the Speaker also affixed his signature.

Whether the Speaker affixed his signature or not, his leadership as head of the House of Representatives and the  54th Legislature will make it possible to pass the establishment of the war and economic crime court, which has been lingering since 2005 and during the 51st Legislature.

Four of the nine representatives from Nimba County have signed the Resolution, including Representatives Larry Younquoi and Joseph Somwarbi.

Most of the members of the Independent Legislative Caucus, including Representatives Ivar Jones, Francis Dopoh, Rustonlyn Dennis, Hanson Kiazolu, Dixon Seeboe and Mary Karwor, also signed the Resolution.

It can be recalled on Wednesday, September 25, while addressing the 193 members of the UNGA High-Level General Debate, President Weah hailed and recounted the United Nations contributions to Liberia, which in recent years include the restoration of peace and stability following over 14 years of civil unrest. The president divulged that Liberia has begun proceedings for the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as he vowed to listen and do the will of the Liberian people.

He said the TRC report calls for the establishment of an extraordinary criminal tribunal to prosecute those identified as having committed gross violations of human rights and economic crimes between 1979 and 2003; the  TRC, importantly, also recommended the use of a conflict-resolution mechanism which has been traditionally used in Liberia and is called the “Palava Hut.” This is a mechanism whereby various district meetings, conducted by community elders, would see perpetrators publicly request forgiveness from their victims and where the aims of restorative justice could be served.

“It is important to bring closure to the wounds from the 14 years of Liberia’s brutal civil war, and we need to agree on a mechanism that would guarantee the sustenance of peace, stability, justice and reconciliation as well as enhance our prospects for economic recovery,” President Weah further said.

Before traveling to attend the UNGA, the president,  in a letter to the Legislature dated September 12, 2019, wrote: “I … do hereby call on the Legislature to advise and provide guidance on all legislative and other necessary measures towards the implementation of the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] report, including the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court.”

Accordingly, Adama Dempster of Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia has reportedly said that “President Weah’s support for a war and economic crimes court is an important step for victims and for helping to ensure the violence that brought so much pain and loss to Liberia will not happen again.”
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The House of Representatives will make history to pass the establishment of the War, Economic Crime Courts.
Nigeria - Senate: Why We Are Buying N5.5bn Cars for Legislators
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by FricNews
Sep 19, 2019 - 9:09
Politics
The Senate Wednesday justified the N5.5 billion voted for the procurement of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) for each of the 479 members of the Ninth Assembly, saying the amount was part of the 2019 approved budget of the National Assembly.

It, therefore, described the hue and cry over the planned purchase of the utility cars as nonsensical.
The move by management of the National Assembly to purchase the vehicles was roundly condemned by some concerned citizens and social crusaders led by the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, while reacting to criticism trailing the purchase of the vehicles told newsmen yesterday that the N5.5 billion voted for the official vehicles was part of the N125 billion National Assembly budget passed for this year.

He said: “The N5.5billion is from the National Assembly fund and not money being sought from any other source. Besides, the scheme as it has always been with previous assemblies is a monetised one, requiring each of the lawmakers to pay back the cost of whatever vehicle given to them.”
Abdullahi said it was highly insulting that some public commentators are criticising and kicking against the move.

According to him, there is nothing for anybody to cry over as far as the plan is concerned because a serving senator and his counterpart in the House of Representatives deserve to have an official vehicle in the mode of a functional utility vehicle or Jeep.

“To say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep in Nigeria is an insult. The outcry over it is very unnecessary and insulting to the institution of the National Assembly and status of the federal lawmakers,” he stated.

The Senate leader went further: “When I was a Permanent Secretary, I know what ministers get; we cannot even compare ourselves with ministers because we are higher than the ministers.

“Each of the ministers move in convoy of three to four utility vehicles without anybody raising any eyebrow while some people who either as a result of ignorance or mischief, always cry to high heavens anytime management of the National Assembly wants to buy just one utility vehicle for a lawmaker on the template of monetisation.

“Go and tell the people that the work that we do at the National Assembly, is more than the work of ministers and as representatives of the people, money we spend on daily basis to all forms of indigent people, far, far outweighs whatever they as ministers or executive officers spend.”

Both chambers of the National Assembly, he further said, were ready at anytime to engage any group of people in the polity on its operations and spending in line with the principles of accountability and transparency the 9th National Assembly stands for.

Senate Constitutes Standing Committees Next Week

In the meantime, the leadership of the Senate is set to name members of the 69 standing committees whose chairmen and vice chairmen were announced shortly before the upper legislative chamber went on annual vacation in July.

Senate sources told THISDAY yesterday that upon the resumption of the Senate from its two-month long vacation next Tuesday, the list of members of the various committees would be made public for the senators to know the committees they belong to and work for the realisation of the legislative agenda of the Senate.
One of the sources who is a ranking senator from the South-south confided in THISDAY that apart from the two presiding officers, all the remaining 107 senators would belong to at least three committees.

It was further learnt that the leadership of the Senate, comprising presiding and principal officers, took their time during the vacation to look at the background of every senator before putting them in committees where they could add value to the goals of the Senate.
THISDAY also gathered that the formal inauguration of the committees may take place almost immediately but it would depend on the schedule of the Senate president who is expected to do so.

The ranking senator added that with this scenario, the inauguration of the committees may span over a two-week period “because the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, is expected to personally inaugurate the committees with a clear mandate of what is expected of them”.

Lawan, shortly before the Senate went on vacation on July 30, had released the names of chairmen and vice chairmen of the 69 standing committees.
A breakdown of the committee chairmanship slots showed that senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) got 49 slots while those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had 20 slots.

Further breakdown of the chairmanship slots on zonal basis revealed that North-west had 16; North-east, 11; North-central 10; South-west, 13; South-east 9; and South-south, 10 slots.

Lawan, who made the announcement shortly before the Senate adjourned plenary till September 24, named the committee chairmen to include Senators Jubril Barau (Appropriation), Dino Melaye (Aviation), Uba Sani (Banking), Ibikunle Amosun (Capital Market), Oluremi Tinubu (Communications), Peter Nwabaoshi (Niger Delta), Ike Ekweremadu (Environment), Gabriel Suswam (Power), Solomon Olamilekan (Finance), Rochas Okorocha (Culture), Benjamin Nwajunogwu ( Employment), Bello Mandiya (Water Resources), Bayo Oshinowo (Industry) Kashim Shetima (Interior), Suleiman Kwari (Anti-corruption), Ibrahim Oloriegbe (Health) and Sam Egwu (Housing).
Others are Senators Kabir Gaya (INEC), Opeyemi Bamidele (Judiciary), Danjuma Goje (Marine Transport), Clifford Ordia (Local and Foreign Debt), Adedayo Adeyeye (Media and Public Affairs), Ali Ndume (Army), James Manager (Gas), Teslim Folarin (Local content), Aliyu Wamakko (Defence), Albert Bassey (FERMA), George Sekibo (Navy), Adamu Ailero (Works), Obinna Ogba (Sports), Abdullahi Adamu (Agriculture), Sabo Mohammed (Downstream Petroleum Sector) and Abubakar Kyari (FCT).
Chairmanship of 16 out of the 23 of the standing committees considered to be ‘juicy’, were given to APC senators while their PDP counterparts got the remaining seven.

The committees are Appropriation, to be chaired by Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North), Agriculture – Abdullahi Adamu (APC Nasarawa West), Interior – Kashim Shetima (APC Borno Central), Finance – Olamilekan Adeola (APC Lagos West) and Communication – Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos Central).

Others are Petroleum (Downstream) – Sabo Mohammed (APC Jigawa North West), Marine Transport – Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central), Customs, Excise and Tarrif – Francis Alimikhena (APC Edo North), Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters – Bamidele Opeyemi (APC Ekiti Central), Federal Capital Territory – Abubakar Kyari (APC Borno North) and Health ( Secondary and Tertiary )- Yahaya Oloriegbe ( APC Kwara Central) .

The seven ‘juicy’ out of the 20 committees allocated to PDP Senators as Chairmen are Petroleum ( Upstream ) to be chaired by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan( Akwa Ibom North East), Public Accounts – Mathew Urhoghide (Edo South), Gas Resources – James Manager (Delta South), Power, Steel and Metallurgy – Gabriel Suswam ( Benue North East), Aviation – Dino Melaye (Kogi West) , Local and Foreign Debts – Clifford Ordia (Edo Central) and Sports, Youth and Development – Obinna Ogba ( Ebonyi Central).

Other Chairmen of the committees across party lines are Army – Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), Air Force – Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes – Suleiman Kwari (APC Kaduna North), Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions – Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central), Capital Market – Ibikunle Amosun (APC Ogun Central ) and Corporation and Integration in Africa and NEPAD – Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP Enugu East ).

Others include , Culture and Tourism – Rochas Okorocha (APC Imo West), Defence – Aliyu Wamakko (APC Sokoto North), Diaspora and NGOs – Bashiru Ajibola (APC Osun Central), Drugs and Narcotics – Hezekaiah Dimka (APC Plateau Central), Ecology, Climate Change – Mohammad Gusau ( PDP Zamfara Central), Education (Basic and Secondary) – Ibrahim Geidam (APC Yobe East), Employment, Labour and Productivity – Ben Umajumogwu ( APC Imo North), Environment – Ike Ekweremadu (PDP Enugu West) and Establishment and Public Service – Ibrahim Shekarau (APC Kano Central).

Others include Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions – Patrick Akinyelure ( PDP Ondo Central), Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs – Danjuma Laah ( PDP Kaduna South ), FERMA – Gershom Bassey (PDP Cross River South), Foreign Affairs – Mohammed Bulkachuwa ( APC Bauchi North), Housing – Sam Egwu ( PDP Ebonyi North), ICT and Cybercrime – Yakubu Useni (APC Kogi Central), INEC – Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano South), Industries – Adebayo Osinowo (APC Lagos East), Information and National Communication – Danladi Sankara ( APC Jigawa North East), Interparliamentary Affairs – Godiya Akwashiki ( APC Nasarawa South), Land Transport – Abdulfatai Buhari, ( APC Oyo North), Legislative Compliance- Oriolowo Adeyemi ( APC Osun West), Local Content – Teslim Folarin (APC Oyo Central), Media and Public Affairs – Adedayo Adeyeye ( APC Ekiti South), National Identity and National Population – Sa’idu Alkali ( APC Gombe North).

Others include National Planning – Olubunmi Adetunmbi ( APC Ekiti North), National Security and Intelligence – Abdullahi Gobir ( APC Sokoto East), Navy – George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East), Niger Delta – Peter Nwabaoshi (PDP Delta North), Police affairs – Dauda Jika (APC Bauchi Central), Poverty Alleviation and Social Investment Programme -Lawal Gumau (APC Bauchi South ) and Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases – Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North).
Others are Privatisation – Theodore Orji ( PDP Abia Central), Public Procurement – Shuaibu Lau (PDP Taraba North), Rules and Business – Sadiq Umar ( APC Kwara North), Science and Technology – Uche Ekwunife (PDP Anambra Central), Senate Services – Sani Musa (APC Niger East), Solid Minerals, Mine, Steel Development and Metallurgy – Tanko Al-Makura (APC Nasarawa North), State and Local Government – Lekan Mustapha,(APC Ogun East), Special Duties – Yusuf A. Yusuf ( APC Taraba Central), SDGs – Aisha Dahiru ( APC Adamawa Central), Tertiary Institution and TETFUND – Ahmed Baba Kaita ( APC Katsina North), Trade and Investment – Rose Oko (PDP Cross River North), Water Resources – Bello Mandiya (APC Katsina Central), Women Affairs and Youth Development – Betty Apiafi (PDP Rivers South) and Works – Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi Central).
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Nigeria - Six Days to Deadline, PEPT Yet to Give Judgment Date
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by FricNews
Sep 10, 2019 - 10:09
Politics
When will the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal determine who between President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his main challenger in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), won the election?
The question begs for answer six days to the deadline specified by the 1999 Constitution as altered and Electoral Act 2010 as amended for the determination of a petition filed by Atiku and his party.

That was the cause of anxiety in the camps of both parties yesterday as they await with bated breath, the tribunal’s decision in the petition filed by Atiku and the opposition party challenging the declaration of Buhari as winner of the election.

The concerns are triggered by the fact that as at yesterday, the tribunal had not fixed a date for judgment after August 21 when it reserved its verdict on the matter and a few days to the expiration of the 180 days provided by the Electoral Act, for the tribunal to conclude the matter.

The five-member panel of the tribunal, led by Justice Mohammed Garba, reserved judgment after the petitioners and respondents adopted their final written addresses.
Justice Garba while reserving judgment on the petition had informed parties that the tribunal would communicate to them the date the verdict would be delivered.
Sequel to Section 134 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the hearing and judgment in petitions at the tribunal of first instance are supposed to be concluded within 180 days.

However, 19 days after it adjourned to deliver judgment and with barely six days in the life span of the petition, THISDAY’s investigation last night revealed that the tribunal is yet to communicate the date for the judgment to the parties in the petition.
While Atiku and PDP are the petitioners in the suit, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Buhari and APC are the first to third respondents respectively.

Speaking exclusively to THISDAY yesterday in Abuja one of the counsel to the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said no date had been communicated to them, adding that “it is not going to be a secret thing, once a date is given, we will all know.”
Also speaking, a senior member in the legal team of Atiku and PDP, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), confirmed that the tribunal as at the time of talking with THISDAY was yet to communicate with them concerning the date for judgement.

While looking at Thursday or Friday as possible day for the delivery of the judgment, Uche stated that long notices were usually not given in such circumstances.
“I’m sorry I cannot confirm yet. We are looking at Thursday or Friday. We are following up on it. As we text, our lawyers are at the court registry waiting for official communication.

“I am sure by tomorrow we will know. Usually, in such matters as I have noticed in the recent past, a long notice is not usually given,’’ the senior lawyer stated.
The 180 days provided by law within which an election petition must be heard and judgment delivered, will expire on Sunday, September 15, 2019 and as such any decision taken outside that day becomes null and void, a mere academic exercise and disadvantageous to the petitioners.

In order not to be caught in the time trap, the Atiku/PDP camp had last Wednesday written to the tribunal on the imperative not to allow the petition at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to be caught by legal timeline.

THISDAY gathered yesterday that nearly a week after the letter was received at the Court of Appeal, response to the letter was still being awaited.
The PDP and Atiku had on March 8 petitioned the tribunal over the February 23 election in which INEC returned Buhari as duly elected.

However, following what he considered as perceived foot-dragging by the tribunal in hearing his petition, Atiku had on June 2 first petitioned the Court of Appeal alleging a deliberate ploy to truncate the constitutional timeline of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

The petition came 11 days after the President of the Court of Appeal and erstwhile chairperson of the 2019 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, recused herself from the tribunal following the petition of the PDP and Atiku/Obi legal team.
The PDP and Atiku, among other things, had said Justice Bulkachuwa, being the wife of Adamu Bulkachuwa, a prominent card-carrying member of the APC and senator-elect for Bauchi North Senatorial District, which is a political party involved in the suit, would be biased in deciding the case.

After Justice Bulkachuwa recused herself from the case, it took her over two weeks to appoint a replacement, which made Atiku to express concerns over the delay in her finding a replacement for herself on the tribunal.

The PDP candidate in a letter through his counsel, dated May 31, 2019, urged the President of the Court of Appeal to appoint a replacement forthwith.
According to him, the tribunal has a timeline to prosecute the petitions, adding that 76 days have already been expended out of the 180 days allowed by law, as seen in Section 134 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act (2010 as amended).

With Justice Bulkachuwa naming her replacement, the tribunal resumed sitting during which Atiku and PDP called 62 witnesses to prove their case.
While INEC did not call any witness, Buhari and APC called seven witnesses before abruptly ending their defence.
Many legal minds had said the expected tribunal’s decision was one that would define the jurisprudence of electoral matters and democracy in the country.
Atiku and PDP in the petition, had insisted that they and not Buhari and APC won the presidential election.

According to them INEC had connived with Buhari, APC and agents of the federal government, including the military to rig the election in favour of Buhari.
They therefore urged the tribunal to nullify the victory of Buhari and declare them winner of the presidential election.

The petitioners also asked the tribunal to nullify Buhari’s participation in the election on the grounds that he did not possess the necessary academic qualifications for the office of the president, stating that Buhari submitted false information to the INEC to aid his qualification for the said election.

In their final address, Atiku and PDP, had argued that the respondents instead of defending the claim by the petitioners that Buhari failed to provide proof of any of the three certificates he claimed to possess, dwelled on the issue of whether the president could speak English language or not.

According to lead counsel to the petitioners, Dr. Levy Uzuokwu (SAN), the mere fact that artisans on the streets of Nigeria can speak English language does not make them qualified to contest for the presidency.

The PDP presidential candidate also faulted the claim of INEC that it has no central server, adding that server is a storage facility, which include computer, database of registered voters, number of permanent voter card and election results amongst others are stored for references.
He said the claim by INEC that it has no device like server to store information, “is laughable, tragic and a story for the dogs”.

Atiku’s lawyer in the final address debunked the claim of INEC that collation and transmission of results electronically was prohibited by law in Nigeria.
However, Usman urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost because INEC conducted the election in total compliance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010.

Usman said INEC did not transmit election results electronically because the law prohibited doing so and that the commission did not call any witness because there was no need to do so.

In his defence, Buhari through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said Atiku’s petition was liable to be dismissed because it was lacking in evidence, merit and substance and that the petition was ill-advised and signified nothing.

Olanipekun cited Section 131 of the Constitution, which stipulated a minimum of secondary school attendance to qualify for election in Nigeria, adding that Buhari cannot go beyond that and he does not need to tender or attached certificate before he can get qualification for any election.

He averred that there was nothing in law to persuade the tribunal to nullify the February 23 presidential election as pleaded by Atiku and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost.
Fagbemi, in his own submission, said the petition lacked quality evidence that could warrant the nullification of the election as pleaded by the petitioners and urged the tribunal to throw it out with a huge cost.
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Buhari Vs Atiku
Nigeria - Court upholds election of Ekweremadu, Ekwunife, Ubah, orders re-run in Abia
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by FricNews
Sep 10, 2019 - 10:09
Politics
The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday lost its bid to unseat representative of Enugu West Senatorial District, Ike Ekweremadu, as the elections petition tribunal sitting in Enugu dismissed the petition filed by Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu.The three-man tribunal held that the former Deputy Senate President was duly elected with valid votes cast during the February 23, 2019 polls.Ibekaku-Nwagwu had after the election, approached the tribunal, alleging that Ekweremadu was not elected by majority of lawful votes cast during the election.

She also claimed that the election was invalid by virtue of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines, among other allegations.Delivering judgement, the Tribunal, headed by Justice H. H. Kerang, held that there was an incurable deficit in the petitioners’ prayers.

Also, the Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka, upheld the elections Uche Ekwunife of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Democratic Party (YPP).

The tribunal, headed by Justice Ebime Okara in the lead judgment in the case instituted by All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate for Anambra Central Senatorial District, Victor Umeh, dismissed the suit seeking to nullify Ekwunife’s victory on the ground that she was neither PDP’s lawfully nominated candidate nor properly substituted to carry the party’s flag.

Reacting to Ekwunife’s victory, Umeh asked his supporters to remain calm, as he would appeal the judgment. Affirming Ubah’s victory, the tribunal dismissed the petitions filed by Chris Uba of PDP and Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for lack of merit.However, the Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State ordered the conduct supplementary elections in some wards of the North Senatorial District.INEC had declared APC Candidate, Orji Uzor Kalu winner, and his PDP rival Mao Ohuabunwa was awarded second winner.

Relatedly, the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Jos, Plateau State affirmed the election of Solomon Maren of PDP representing Mangu/Bokkos federal constituency in the House of Representatives.APC’s Danjuma Haruna who contested with Maren in the elections, lost to him but he challenged the outcome at the tribunal.

Haruna had told the tribunal during its proceedings that the election of Maren was invalid without substantial compliance with the electoral act and was characterized by manifold irregularities.He had argued that there was a serious and weighty electoral offence of polling violence, which qualified Maren’s election to be nullified.

Delivering judgement having reviewed the submissions by counsel to both parties, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Theophilus N. Ezeugwu, ruled that the petition failed because the petitioners could not prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.In the case of Johnbull Shekarau of PDP who challenged the validity of Komsol Longap Alphonsus of APC’s election, the tribunal dismissed the petition as the petitioners failed to establish their case.
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Ekweremadu
Tunisia - Presidential election to put young democracy to the test
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by FricNews
Sep 09, 2019 - 10:09
Politics
Arab spring’s sole democratic state has proved resilient despite anger over price rises.

Tunisia will hold its second-ever presidential elections on 15 September in a poll seen as a major test of the only democracy to emerge from the 2011 Arab spring.

The death in July of the country’s president, Beji Caid Essebsi, 92, a secularist who was instrumental in steering the country’s transition to democracy, forced the polls to be held earlier than originally scheduled in November.

Without Essebsi, Tunisia’s broadly secular forces – held together by little other than opposition to the powerful Islamist Ennahda party – have scattered, creating an unpredictable contest that could reshape the political landscape of the fledgling Maghreb democracy.

The country’s 2011 revolution, the trigger for waves of popular uprisings in Syria, Libya, Bahrain and elsewhere, was driven as much by the price of bread as the cloying authoritarianism of the country’s former leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. By many measures, the Tunisian economy is now in an even worse state, contributing to regular protests and a widespread sense of alienation from politics, according to public surveys.

“People say things are worse now than in 2011 because of problems with security and the cost they face, for example for schooling and day-to-day life,” said Hichem el Amri, an engineer and youth worker in Sidi Bouzid, the town where the vegetable vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in December 2010 and ignited fierce pro-democracy protests across Tunisia and the Arab world.Advertisement“If we compare the cost of vegetable, fruits, clothes, they are now twice or three times as expensive.”

The disillusionment has contributed to the radicalisation of young Tunisians, with an estimated 30,000 attempting to or successfully reaching battlefields in Syria and Iraq. Many are now seeking to return. Tunis, the capital, was rocked by two suicide bombings in June that were claimed by the Islamic State group.

Yet Tunisia’s transition to democracy has proved more resilient than some expected. The largely peaceful run-up to the polls has raised hopes the country will achieve its first handover of the presidency from one elected leader to another, considered a key hurdle in the development of young democracies.

Another democratic milestone was broadcast on the country’s television screens on Saturday: the first presidential debates between the Tunisia’s major presidential candidates.

“Often in the Arab world, when we speak of competition we know who wins at the end, with 99.99%,” Lassad Khedder, the head of a private TV channel syndicate, told Agence France-Presse on the eve of the debate. “Today, we don’t know who is going to win.”

One of the election’s leading contenders was missing from the stage: Nabil Karoui, a populist television tycoon who has been compared to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, was arrested on the eve of the campaign on charges of tax evasion and corruption. He has denied all the charges.

He is still running as part of a crowded field of 26 candidates including Abdelfattah Mourou, a lawyer and the first Ennahda member to run for president since the revolution, and Abir Moussi, a supporter of Ben Ali trading on nostalgia for the former president’s harsh rule, which is growing in some quarters.

“The political class are happy there is democracy, elections and freedom of expression,” Amri said. “But for other people, they don’t care about these things if they have difficulties in their lives.”

Hailed as the Arab spring’s only success story, Tunisia’s revolution nearly descended into chaos in the years to 2013 after several leftist leaders were assassinated, allegedly by Islamic extremists, deepening the polarisation between the country’s Islamist and secular factions.

Yet it pulled back from the brink, helped by a coalition of civil society groups who brought warring parties together and were later awarded the 2015 Nobel peace prize.

“A large part of it is also due to the [political] leaders themselves,” said Sarah Yerkes, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. After a close legislative election in 2014, Essebsi and his political rival, the Ennahda president Rached Ghannouchi, struck an improbable agreement to share power, widening the tent to include smaller parties in 2016.

“These men were older, more experienced, and were both extremely committed to democracy, they saw the importance of it for Tunisia and decided it was best for the country to work together.”

Opinion is divided on the wisdom of the power-sharing truce, which has calmed the country’s politics but stalled progress on difficult but urgent reforms that might split the unity government.

Fearful of the bloody chaos that has enveloped some of the other Arab states that revolted in 2011, Tunisian leaders prioritised consensus, said Yerkes. “Tunisia gets all this attention because of what it did in 2011, and it would lose so much prominence if it was to lose that [democracy], including billions of dollars in aid from the US and EU,” she said.

“But stability also has a cost, and part of that is anger and frustration [at the lack of change]. We’re close to nine years since the revolution and people’s patience is running out.”

Sunday’s polls, and legislative elections scheduled for October, will indicate whether the country’s next generation of political elites will be as willing to accommodate each other, and if so, whether they can effectively govern a population frustrated by the lack of progress towards “work, freedom and national dignity” – demands Tunisians chanted on the streets nearly nine years ago.
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Supporters of Tunisia’s former defence minister and presidential candidate Abdelkrim Zbidi in Monastir. Photograph: Mohamed Messara/EPA
Nigeria - Tribunal affirms Oduah’s election
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by FricNews
Sep 06, 2019 - 10:09
Politics
The Anambra State election petition tribunal has affirmed the election of Senator Stella Oduah (Anambra North).

The Independent National Electoral Commisison (INEC) declared Senator Oduah winner of the February 23 election. She contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Chinedu Emeka challenged Oduah’s victory. He sad Oduah was not qualified to contest the election because she did not possess the required academic qualifications.

According to him, Oduah was still a member of APGA by the time of the election. The former deputy governor also alleged that the election did not comply with the Electoral Act.

But Justice Esther Haruna. said the petitioner failed to prove his allegations beyond reasonable doubt and therefore said Oduah was validly elected

The tribunal also affirmed the election of Valentine Ayika of the PDP, representing Anaocha, Njikoka and Dunukofia Federal Constituencies.

Ayika’s election was challenged by APGA candidate, Dozie Nwankwo.

The election petition tribunal in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State Capital, has dismissed a petition by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Abakaliki/Izzi Federal Constituency, Uchenna Nshi, against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Sylvester Ogbaga.

Nshi approached the tribunal to declare Ogbaga’s election as invalid because, according to him, it was fraught with corrupt practices, voter intimidation, violence, non-compliance to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and unlawful alteration of results in favour of Ogbaga.

He urged the court to set aside the results of polling units, wards and local governments as declared by the first respondent (INEC).

Tribunal chairman Justice Sika Aprioku held that the petition lacked merit as the petitioner failed to bring preponderance of evidence to prove his case.

The tribunal also held that the allegations of corrupt practices, non-compliance with Electoral Act 2010 as amended, and guidelines for the election was not substantiated by the petitioner, even as he did not prove to the court how they affected the outcome of the election.

Justice Aprioku said the testimonies of the petitioner’s witnesses amounted to hearsay as they confirmed during cross examination that they were not present at the polling units where the infractions happened and accordingly, are unreliable and cannot be attached any probative value.

The tribunal awarded N150,000 cost each in favour of the first and second respondents while N20,000 cost was awarded in favour of the third respondent.

Ogbaga described the judgment as the reaffirmation of INEC’s verdict.
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