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Court Nullifies Ndume’s Suspension

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Ali Ndume
  • Court Nullifies Ndume’s Suspension

The Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday nullified the suspension of former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, from the Senate, describing it as illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

It consequently set aside the suspension letter, dated March 30, this year, and issued to the Borno South senatorial district’s representative by the senate.

The court also ordered the president of the senate and the senate, who were the first and the second respondents in the suit filed by Ndume, to pay him all outstanding salaries and allowances.

Ndume had approached the court following his suspension from the senate for a total of 90 legislative days, for what it described as “not conducting due diligence before filing a petition against the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the lawmaker representing Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye.”

Ndume was also indicted “for bringing Melaye, his colleagues and the institution of the senate to unbearable disrepute,” as contained in the report submitted by the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, headed by Senator Samuel Anyanwu.

Delivering judgment in the suit, which was marked FHC/ABJ/CS/551/2017, Justice Babatunde Quadri, held that the suit has merit and as such, succeeded in part.

He said: “The suspension of the plaintiff is hereby declared illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional. The purported suspension contained in the letter of March 30, 2017, is hereby set aside.

“The first and second defendants are hereby directed to pay the plaintiff his outstanding salaries and allowances forthwith.”

The court, however, declined to grant relief Number Five, which urged it to award N500million to Ndume as general, exemplary and aggravated damages over his suspension.

The Judge held: “Relief No. five is hereby refused because I hope this will facilitate reconciliation in the senate between the plaintiff and other members of the senate and bring peace to our nascent democracy. and all senators will hold sacrosanct, their Standing Order, rule of law and by extension, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Besides the president of the senate, the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Anyanwu, who recommended Ndume’s suspension was also a defendant in the suit.

In a 3 -paragraph affidavit in support of his originating motion, and which was deposed to by Ndume, the lawmaker averred that on March 21, pursuant to Orders 14 and 15 of the extant Senate Standing Orders (as amended), he drew the attention of the senate to media insinuations already published online by an online and medium and one print medium.

“That the insinuations or allegations mentioned online and in the print media were that Melaye did not complete his first degree programme at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria; and that the invitation of the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) by the senate was informed by the seizure of a bullet-proof SUV vehicle belonging to the senate president and attempt to clear same with fictitious documents, and I urged the senate to look into these insinuations or allegations being made by these outfits.

“That pursuant to my rising on Orders 14 and 15, based on the aforesaid insinuations and allegations by the media on the said March 21, I laid the said publications before the senate.

“Consequently, the senate presided over by Deputy Senate President, in line with Order 41 (3) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 amended, referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions (herein “called ” the Committee) headed by Anyanwu (the third Defendant) for detailed investigation.

“In the course of the investigation by the Committee, the Committee invited me amongst others and I specifically informed the Committee that I did not write any petition against the 1st defendant or anybody for that matter, but raised the issue as a matter of privilege, seeing that the integrity of the senate could be damaged by such publications, in order that senate may clear any alleged smear on its integrity.

“That on March 28, 2017, the Committee, headed by the 3rd defendant, submitted its report to the senate, wherein the Committee cleared the 1st defendant and Melaye and recommended that the senate should suspend me for 181 days (1 year), with effect from March 28, ‘for bringing Melaye, his colleague, and institutions of the senate to unbearable dispute.”

Meanwhile, the senate has kicked against the judgment, vowing to file an appeal on Monday, November 13.

In a statement issued by its counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), shortly after the judgment, the senate said it had earlier challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter and consequently disagreed with the judgment.

According to Ozekhome: The senate, which has the strong conviction that the decision of the trial court will be overturned by the Court of Appeal, has accordingly instructed the law firm to file an appeal against the judgment immediately.

“The notice of appeal is ready and would be filed unfailingly by Monday morning.

“An application for a stay of execution of the orders of the court will also be filed same time.”

Meanwhile, Ndume, declared yesterday that he has forgiven its leadership for imposing six months suspension on him, just as a Federal High Court in Abuja nullified his suspension.

Briefing journalists on the matter, Ndume lamented that his constituency was denied representation in the National Assembly during the period.

The Senate leader, who was full of praises to God for his victory in court, expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Northeast Development Commission Bill into law, which he claimed was his pet project from the beginning.

Ndume was placed on six months suspension on March 29, this year for raising issues of alleged illegal vehicle purchase against Senate President Bukola Saraki and failing to provide proof.

At the press conference yesterday, Ndume said: “I am just from court and I thank God that the court has declared my suspension unconstitutional, illegal and null and void, and that was what I approached the court for, a declaratory judgment, and I got that judgment today.

“I am not taking anything personal against anybody. If anybody takes anything personal against me, I leave him with God, because I don’t have the advantage, it is just that they are taking advantage of their positions and the confidence we have given in them.

“I have said that I have been betrayed, because all of you know the role I played in the struggle of making that senate to be better than what we had during the 7th one. Unfortunately, it became worse because last time on the 7th senate, the few of us were there, the concept we had that made it to be disobeying the party order was that the senate should belong to the senators.

“That was why we brought in even the other parties, so that was why we had the like minds.”

He said even though the court had voided his suspension, he was not too keen about reclaiming the allowances he was denied, pointing out that he simply went to court to place it on record that the senate leadership had no powers to suspend him the way it did.

“My entitlements are mine, as the court said, but my entitlement has been denied from April to date, but I am alive. So, I am not going to go back because of my entitlement; I am ready to move forward and I don’t think that is a big deal anyway.

“My right is my right and my right has been trampled on and in fact, my constituents have been denied representation, which is a constitutional matter.”

“My going to court is not primarily because of the financial aspect of it. As I said earlier, senators died, they cannot be paid, senators have been removed, they cannot be paid and many of us are out there.

“So, the emphasis is on the declaration and the interpretation of the action taken that was unjust on me,” he added.

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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Government

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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Government

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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