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Ondo: PDP Crisis Deepens as Court Panel Withdraws

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  • PDP Crisis Deepens as Court Panel Withdraws

The fate of factional Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the Ondo State election Eyitayo Jegede was hanging in the balance yesterday.

A three-man panel set up by Court of Appeal President Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to determine all appeals relating to the dispute over the governorship candidate of the PDP withdrew from the case.

The Justice Jumai Sankey-led panel announced its withdrawal mid-way into proceedings, citing a petition written against it by the factional chairman of the PDP in Ondo State, Prince Biyi Poroye.

Copies of the petition were sent to President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) Lawan Daura and National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen. Babagana Monguno.

Senior members of the two factions of the PDP were in court.

Some of those in court were Ali Modu Sheriff, Ahmed Makarfi, Cairo Ojougboh, Ben Obi, Abdul Ningi, Jimoh Ibrahim, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye, former Niger State Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu, former Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido, Senator Annie Okonkwo, former Sports Minister Damishi Sango and former Minister of Solid Minerals Odion Ugbesia.

Although they are from different camps of the party, they did not betray the enmity between them.

On arriving the courtroom, and noting that Makarfi, Obi, Adeyeye, Babangida and Lamido were seated in a corner within the courtroom, Sheriff went straight to them and greeted them loudly. He shook hands with and hugged each of them.

Ibrahim, the candidate of the Sheriff faction, who arrived the court earlier, also went to where Makarfi and others sat and shook hands with each of them.

He spoke with Lamido and Makarfi briefly. Lamido was overhead telling Ibrahim that they should all work for the survival of the party.

A mild drama ensued later when the first case for the day was called and Sheriff and Makarfi stood up to announce their presence in court.

Sheriff was first to stand up and announce himself as “National Chairman of the PDP”. When it was Makarfi’s turn, he announced himself as “Makarfi of the PDP”, a position his supporters objected to by shouting National Chairman.

Sensing that those with him, including Obi, Babangida, Lamido and Adeyeye were not comfortable, Makarfi stood up again and re-introduced himself as “Ahmed Makarfi, Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the PDP.”

On hearing how Makarfi later introduced himself, Sheriff, who sat on the other side of the courtroom, shook his head in approval, saying “yes, he is the Chairman of Caretaker, I am the National Chairman of the PDP”.

Shortly after, parties and lawyers in the case, who had expected the opening of proceedings, were surprised when Justice Sankey spoke of Poroye’s petition.

The appeal that was called was the one filed by former Attorney General of Ondo State and a PDP candidate, who was recently replaced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with Ibrahim (following the October 14 order of the Federal High Court, Abuja.), Eyitayo Jegede.

Justice Sankey disclosed that a petition had been written against the panel, containing many allegations, including claim that members of the panel were induced to act in favour of the appellant.

“The petitioner is not only complaining about the speed with which the panel is going about the case, he also said that the setting up of the panel is unnecessary because the case did not require any urgency.

“The petitioner accused me of being very poor. He said because I was ill some years ago, I have become so poor that I am open to corruption. He is using my illness of about five years ago to say I am so poor that I am now open to corruption.

“I carry my poverty with pride. I will not steal anybody’s money,” Justice Sankey said.

Another member of the panel, Justice Emmanuel Agim, wondered why the petitioner failed to explore the legitimate process of asking a judge to withdraw from a case rather than resorting to casting aspersions on innocent judges via a petition containing unsubstantiated allegations.

“One of the allegations in the petition is that the reason we are doing this case is that we have been paid money,” Justice Agim said.

At a point, the Justices in the panel, including Justice Oluwayemisi Williams-Dawudu, asked the petitioner to step out in the open court.

Justice Williams-Dawudu said “if the petitioner was confident enough to raise allegations against them, he should be bold enough to come out in the open and defend his allegations”.

Poroye, it was learnt, left the court moment before the issue was raised.

When the panel sought the views of Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who represented Jegede, the lawyer said he was embarrassed by the petition. He condemned it and asked that the panel should proceed to hear the case in view of the fact that time was of the essence.

Olanipekun urged the Justices not to succumb to an attempt to intimidate them. He suggested that the petitioner should be handed over to security agents for interrogation and that the outcome of the investigation should be made public.

Lawyer to Pororye and eight other members of his executive in Ondo PDP, Alex Iziyon (SAN), distanced himself from the petition. He said he was not informed by one of his clients that a petition was being authored.

Iziyon said the Justices should not be bothered by the antics of politicians, who have chosen to turn the court into a football that they could play around as it pleases them.

He told the court that a similar petition was written “by the other party against the trial judge at the lower court. They cannot now complain because they are now at the receiving end.

When asked by Justice Agim if he would continue to risk his good name by continuing to represent Poroye, Iziyon said he would take a decision on whether or not to withdraw his representation after he must have had audience with Poroye.

After listening to lawyers in the case, the panel rose briefly, only to return about 30 minutes later to announce its withdrawal.

“Ordinarily, since no facts have been placed before this court formally, to show a likelihood of bias on the part of the panel, and since learned Senior Advocate for the petitioner and first respondent has disassociated himself from the petition, we would have been minded to continue with the hearing of these appeals.

“Even though this petition has fallen short of showing any likelihood of bias, nonetheless, we consider it more desirable to recuse ourselves at this stage in respect of all appeals and applications connected to the Ondo State governorship election.

“All the files in this regard are now sent back to the Honourable President of the Court of Appeal for re-assignment,” Justice Sankey said in a short ruling.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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