Democratic Republic Of Congo Joins The East African Community (EAC)
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was on Tuesday officially admitted into the East African Community (EAC) during the 19th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State and Government chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta virtually.
Welcoming the newcomer to the EAC, President Kenyatta termed the admission of DRC into the EAC a historic event that demonstrates the agility of the community to expand beyond its socio-cultural boundaries to new people and trade centred partnerships and collaboration that will expand opportunities for citizens of the region.
“Today as chairman of the EAC, I proudly and warmly welcome our brothers and sisters from the DRC to the EAC and look forward to joining hands in strengthening our community together. Working together, we have more to gain than when we are separate.
“Indeed, the combined population and GDP of our community will grow by 50 percent and 25 percent respectively, implying a corresponding expansion of the market for goods and services. These numbers imply expanded market opportunities for producers located within EAC under the Customs Union,” President Kenyatta said.
The President added that the expanded community will attract more investments across all sectors, a move that will create more wealth and employment for the people.
He pointed out that with the inclusion of DRC, the EAC will be in a better position to combine resources to develop the much-needed infrastructure, especially the main transit corridors running from east to west.
“The said infrastructure is crucial in facilitating cross-border movements of goods, people and physical capital as envisaged in the EAC Common Market,” the President said.
With a larger market of about 300 million people, President Kenyatta expressed optimism that the community will achieve better outcomes brought about by the economies of scale and pooling of productive human and financial resources.
Speaking during the summit, other East African leaders commended President Felix Tshisekedi of DRC for working hard to ensure his country joined the community noting that the action he took is not only beneficial to his country but the region at large.
Leaders who included Presidents Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Samia Suluhu (Tanzania) thanked the EAC Council of Ministers and the Secretariat for speeding up the process that led to the admission of DRC into the community.
“The joining of East Africa Community by DRC is an event of great significance. I have been involved in these efforts for almost 60 years and this is really very pleasant that DRC has finally reconnected formally with EAC,” said President Museveni.
On his part, President Kagame said the admission of DRC into the EAC is in line with the community’s quest to widen and deepen integration for the region and the continent at large noting that Rwanda is ready to play its role in ensuring the success of the community.
“Rwanda commends the Council of Ministers and the Secretariat for speeding up this process. I urge all EAC organs to accelerate the full integration of DRC into our organization in line with the roadmap approved by the Council of Ministers,” he said.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu said the decision by President Tshisekedi to seek admission for his country into the EAC will provide an opportunity to entrench peace and security in DRC.
“To my brother Felix Tshisekedi, I commend you for the decision to seek admission to the EAC. And to the people of DRC your country’s decision to join EAC will accord you a great opportunity to extend space for peace and security, prosperity and solidarity within your country as well as the region,” she said.
In his inaugural speech at the EAC summit, President Tshisekedi thanked the EAC leaders for welcoming him to the community and assured of his commitment to working closely with them for the development and prosperity of the region.
President Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi was represented at the summit by Vice President Prosper Bazombanza while President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan was represented by Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin.
The summit designated President Kenyatta, the EAC Chairman, to sign the treaty of accession of DRC into the EAC by April 14 this year.
Court of Appeal Upholds Adeleke’s Victory in Osun State Governorship Election
In a landmark judgement, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the victory of Senator Ademola Adeleke as the rightful governor of Osun State.
The ruling, which comes as a surprise to many, overturned the decision of the Osun State Governorship Tribunal which had earlier nullified Adeleke’s election victory.
Following the governorship polls in the state, an Election Petition Tribunal had sacked Adeleke from office, citing his failure to secure the majority of lawful votes during the July 16 governorship polls. However, in a unanimous agreement by a three-man panel led by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu, the Court of Appeal quashed the tribunal’s judgment and gave its verdict to uphold Adeleke’s victory.
The Appeal Court Panel revoked the tribunal’s order which directed that a Certificate of Return be withdrawn from Adeleke and issued to his predecessor and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Gboyega Oyetola. The panel held that the Osun State Tribunal was wrong to have said that there was overvoting, a claim that only relied on the evidence by Oyetola and the APC, and as such, doesn’t prove their case in any way.
The judge faulted Oyetola and APC, that they only relied on the data from the back end server and failed to look at the voters register which forms the foundation of the whole electoral process and as such, cannot strengthen their allegations of overvoting. The court also resolved in favour of Adeleke on the issue of jurisdiction, stating that section 285(8) of the constitution as amended, the court has every right to entertain the appeal.
The ruling is a significant victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Adeleke, who had been locked in a legal battle with the APC over the governorship position since the election. Many Nigerians have applauded the Court of Appeal’s decision as a step towards consolidating the country’s democracy and upholding the rule of law.
The decision has also set a precedent for future electoral disputes in the country, as it highlights the importance of credible evidence in proving electoral malpractice claims. This ruling has shown that allegations of overvoting cannot be sustained without concrete evidence from the voters register, and political parties must be thorough in their investigations and presentation of evidence in such cases.
NIMC: Presidential Council Faults N1000 NIN Fee, Demands Review
The recently announced N1000 National Identification Number (NIN) verification fee for the application, issuance and renewal of international passports by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has been criticised.
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC faulted the mandated charge and called for a review.
Investors King had earlier reported that NIMC declared that Nigerians living in the country will pay N1000, while Nigerians residing in other African countries will pay $3 or its equivalent in other currencies and those in other continents across the world will pay $10 or its equivalent in other countries as NIN verification fee for application, issuance and renewal of their international passports.
Reacting to the development, the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business/PEBEC Secretary, Jumoke Oduwole, in a statement, emphasised the need for a review to make citizens enjoy quicker and less expensive government services.
Oduwole, who commended the collaboration between NIMC and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), said such a partnership will enhance passport services.
She noted that stakeholders are not impressed with the extra charge to be paid for the NIN verification before they can process their passports.
According to her, the outline of the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2022 signed into law by the President Muhammadu Buhari on February 8, 2023 states that where an applicant requires the service of a ministry, department or agency, the MDA involved is mandated to conduct the necessary verification or certification from relevant MDAs, in respect of the applicant.
Investors King understands that PUBEC was set up in 2016 by President Buhari with the aim of curbing hectic bottlenecks and bureaucratic limitations accompanied with owning and managing business enterprises in Nigeria.
The chairman of the council is the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. PUBEC has since its existence periodically issued EO1 Compliance Reports containing monthly reports of Ministries, Departments and Agencies submitted to the council.
INEC Considers Postponement of Governorship and State Assembly Elections Amidst Legal Battles
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is currently considering the possibility of postponing the upcoming governorship and state assembly elections, following the legal battles that have arisen from the recent presidential and national assembly polls.
INEC is expected to make a decision on the issue during a meeting of its national commissioners, scheduled for Wednesday night.
Investors King understands that the legal battles revolve around the extraction of data embedded in the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the inspection of other election materials.
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, have filed similar applications seeking to obtain the certified true copy (CTC) of all the data in the BVAS.
INEC has opposed the applications, arguing that granting them would affect its preparations for the forthcoming elections.
Tanimu Inuwa, counsel to INEC, has asked the court to vary the orders granting permission to Obi and Atiku to inspect all the sensitive materials used in the conduct of the presidential election.
However, the court has refused to grant INEC’s request, stating that the commission failed to specify which of the orders it wished to vary.
The court has clarified that it granted Obi and LP permission to do electronic scanning and/or make photocopies of voter registration and ballot papers used in the conduct of the election, and not permission to access the database of INEC, as misconceived by the electoral body.
Given the legal battles and the possible impact on preparations for the forthcoming elections, INEC is now considering postponing the governorship and state assembly elections.
This decision, if taken, would have significant implications for the electoral process and could further heighten tensions in the country.
The ongoing legal battles highlight the need for all stakeholders to work together to ensure a free, fair and credible electoral process. It is essential that INEC and other stakeholders prioritize the integrity of the electoral process over political expediency and work towards resolving these legal disputes in a timely and transparent manner.
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