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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.

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US Congress Puts On Hold Proposed Arms Sales, Pressures Biden to Reassess US-Nigeria Relations Over Human Rights Record

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United States lawmakers have begun to mount pressure on President Joe Biden over concerns about Nigeria’s human rights records.

Already, a proposed sale of 12 attack aircraft and 28 helicopter engines worth $857 million has been put on hold.

Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military, pausing a deal worth some $875 million, according to U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.

In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale included 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by Foreign Policy, a US-based magazine.

It said the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrated a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.

It said the hold on the sale also showcased how powerfully the US lawmakers wanted to push the Biden administration to rethink the country’s relations with Africa’s most populous nation amid overarching concerns that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was drifting towards authoritarianism as his government has been besieged by multiple security challenges, including a jihadist insurgency.

Foreign policy observed that Western governments and international human rights organisations had ramped up their criticisms of the Nigerian government, particularly, in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in deadly crackdowns on protesters after widespread demonstrations against police brutality last year.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June.

Both Menendez and Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have therefore placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to Foreign Policy on the condition of anonymity.

The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January before then former US Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.

Nigeria has relied on US arms sales in the past to help address multiple security challenges, including the 12-year insurgency by Boko Haram militants in the country’s northeast, a spate of high-profile kidnapping-for-ransom campaigns targeting schoolchildren in the country’s North-west, and deadly clashes between the country’s semi-nomadic herders and farmers fueled by climate change and environmental degradation of the country’s arable land.

The State Department, it was said, described the US-Nigeria relationship as “among the most important in sub-Saharan Africa” and had provided limited funding for various military training and education programmes.

Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defence sales until it could make a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military and whether the military was doing enough to minimise civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.

“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” said Judd Devermont, Director of the Africa programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.

Continuing, he added, “But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will actually, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail. There is a culture of impunity that exists around abuses by the military,” said Anietie Ewang, the Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Ewang cited the Nigerian military’s killing of unarmed protesters during the country’s massive #EndSARS demonstrations against police corruption and brutality last year as well as cases documented by human rights organisations of abuses in the military’s campaign against Boko Haram.

“I’m sure it’s a difficult situation. There are so many conflicts springing up across the country now. The authorities, I presume, are trying to do the best they can to save lives and properties. But this must be done in accordance with human rights standards. You can’t throw one out just to be able to achieve the other.”

Nigerian Embassy in Washington did not, however, return a request for comment, foreign policy claimed.

In the past, the Nigerian military had dismissed reports of human rights abuses by its soldiers as baseless and accused human rights groups of undermining the military’s resolve to combat terrorism.

But the United States had scrubbed proposed arms sales to Nigeria in the past on a case-by-case basis.

Former US President Barack Obama’s administration cut back arms sales to Nigeria over concerns about civilian casualties and human rights abuses, including blocking a 2014 sale of Cobra helicopters by Israel to Nigeria.

During that time, US officials reportedly voiced concerns that Boko Haram had infiltrated the Nigerian military—an accusation that provoked indignation from the Nigerian government.

These moves severely strained US-Nigeria relations, with Buhari accusing Obama of having unintentionally “aided and abetted” extremist groups by refusing to expand military cooperation and arms sales.

In late 2017, then US President Donald Trump’s administration agreed to sell the Nigerian government 12 A-29 Super Tucano warplanes, resurrecting a proposed sale the Obama administration froze after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp that January.

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Over 1M Nigerians Have Completed Online Voters Card Pre-Registration – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) affirmed that over 1 million additional voters have completed their online pre-registration for the ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) within the last four weeks across the country.

INEC’s national commissioner, and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this through a statement released in Abuja on Monday.

Of the 1 million new eligible voters, 259,450 people have completed their registration in Osun State and it is currently been followed by Edo state with 98,286 new voters.

These two states were closely followed by Anambra state with 65,014, followed by Bayelsa with 63,250, and later Lagos State with 61,991, this came as Yobe with 1,893, followed by Sokoto State with 2,453, Jigawa 2,593, and Zamfara with 2,769 were some of the least stare registered.

The state’s distribution of the online fresh registration released by INEC in Abuja on Monday showed the weekly update provided by INEC for week four which also reveals that the commission received 1,135,395 applications.

The figure of the total applications received includes those for voter transfer, requests for replacement of Permanent Voter Cards, and update of voter information record, etc.

According to the commission, the distribution of the 1,135,395 total applications by age group showed that 740,063 of them were youths between the ages of 18 to 34 years.

The applications from the middle-aged of between 35 to 49 years old were 278,042; the elderly from 50 to 69 years were 102,578; while the old from 70 years and above were 14,712

The distribution by occupation indicated that artisan constituted 75,877 of the total applications; farming/fishing – 81,096; public servants -25,298; business -230,551; house wives -25,816; students 355,227; civil servants 44,093; traders 97,624; others/not specified 199,813.

Also, the distribution by gender showed that females constituted 492,449 of the received applications while males were 642,946 as well as showed that 12,274 of the applicants indicated to be persons living with disabilities.

Okoye, providing an update on the online pre-registration which started nationwide on June 28, disclosed that the commission, also on Monday, commenced physical registration at its 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.

According to the statement, “As of 7 am today, Monday, July 26, the number of new registrants has risen to 1,006,661. The detailed distribution of the registrants by age, State/FCT, gender, occupation, and disability for week four of the exercise has been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms.

“However, the distribution by age still shows that 740,063 (or 73.5 percent) are young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34. As earlier announced by the commission, physical or in-person registration begins today, Monday, July 26 at our 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.

“The exact locations of the designated centers have already been uploaded to our website and social media platforms. For further details, citizens are encouraged to contact our state offices through the dedicated telephone numbers provided in the uploaded publication.

“‘Nigerians who pre-registered online can now complete their registration at those centers based on scheduled appointments. In addition, other Nigerians who prefer to register physically/in person can now do so at those centers.

“Both online pre-registration and physical/in-person registration will continue simultaneously until the suspension of the CVR exercise on June 30, 2022, to enable the commission to clean up the data and compile the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election.”

Okoye appealed to all citizens who wished to register to approach any of INEC’s state or local government area offices nationwide to do so, as the commission entered the next phase of the CVR exercise.

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Oyo State Budgets N330M Monthly To Support Community Policing In LGAs

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Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State

Oyo State Governor, Seye Makinde has said that the state has set aside a monthly budget of N330 million to be spent on security across the 33 local governments in the state.

The governor who disclosed this in Ibadan said each local government in the state is expected to spend N10 million to support the security of lives and property in their domain.

He said part of the measures was the instruction to local government chairmen to involve traditional rulers as well as other voluntary residents in policing their areas.

Each local government is to spend N10 million monthly on this security arrangement.

Makinde explained that the initiative amounts to spending N330 million in the 33 local government areas, besides other efforts the state government had put in place to tighten security.

“We said each local government should set up a security committee, which should include traditional rulers and voluntary people willing to police their areas.

“I encouraged them to budget N10 million to service the committee every month. For the entire state, that’s N330 million per month by all local governments, excluding what we are doing generally at the state level,” the governor told a group on a visit to him during the recent Muslim festival.

“On security, most of the data in the past months shows that things are now improving. The Igangan incident, some days ago, was only falsified by some people who were saying that Fulani herdsmen had invaded Igangan again. The truth is actually about the NCS and smugglers. They know each other.

“Customs officials were accused to have entered Igangan, which is not a border town. But we are working with Federal authorities and they have arrested most of them.

“The gun that was collected is still with us. I said I won’t release it until I get the attention of the Federal authorities.

“In the Constitution of Nigeria, Oyo State is a federating unit. We are not saying Federal agencies should not carry out their operations here. But they must tell us; they must inform us. They may not disclose the details of the operation to us, but we must know about it.

“If we had known about the operation, we would have pre-informed the security detail in the town and those who died could have been alive. The Amotekun Coordinator that died in Igboora would have still been alive today.

“How can you go operating in an unidentified vehicle in a town where the security tactics have been heightened? As they wanted to enter the town, they were confronted because we have heightened security in all of those places.

“So, we will keep appealing to them and to our people that false information won’t help anybody. Nobody will profit politically from the security issues we are faced with. It is our collective responsibility. The people will play their part and the government will play its own part,” Makinde said.

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