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How Akande, Tinubu lost APC hold in South East

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South East protagonists are blaming both the All Progressives Congress (APC) interim National Chairman, Bisi Akande, and one of its national leaders, Bola Tinubu, for the defection of prominent politicians from the party to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State in particular, and the region in general.

Akande-and-TinubuThe snub by the APC national leadership was the catalyst for the massive defections in February, they allege.

The APC had been bolstered by the defection of five PDP governors into its fold in November last year, but was hit by a chain of defections to other parties, particularly the PDP in the first two months of 2014.

In Imo State, the party allegedly witnessed an exodus of 5,000 members, including former Governor Achike Udenwa; former Secretary to the Imo State Government, Cosmas Iwu; Senator Ifeanyi Ararume; Mike Ahamba; and Mayor Eze, former member of the House of Representatives.

It was a big blow to the quest by APC for a strong foothold in the South East, an enclave historically carved up between the PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

The defectors were protesting against the flouting of internal democracy when founding members were sidelined for defecting governors to hold the reigns of the party in their states.

But the problem in Imo is slightly different.

A source told us that the defections in February arose from two planks: (a) the struggle between the aggrieved members and Governor Rochas Okorocha for the control of APC machinery and (b) the failure of Akande and Tinubu to nip the crisis in the bud.

He alleged that Okorocha, who left APGA for APC, planted his loyalists in strategic positions in APC formations in the South East.

“What it means is that other members of the party are forced to defer to him on party issues in the state and the region at large,” the source claimed.

The grudge led to a frosty relationship between Okorocha and Udenwa on the one hand, and between Okorocha and other big wigs who came from the PDP, APGA and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) on the other hand.

A decisive response by the APC national leadership could have saved the situation. “The defectors were disappointed by Akande and Tinubu’s refusal to acknowledge the entreaties brought before them by prominent members of the party in Imo,” claimed the source, one of the defectors to the PDP.

“We tried to reach them, especially Tinubu. On two occasions, we were invited to meet them at events, but they failed to turn up.”

Frustrated by the apparent hide-and-seek tactics of the national leadership, the agitators decided to quit the party.

“If Tinubu or Akande had granted us an audience, Imo would have remained an undivided APC state,” he rued.

The allegations were, however, denied by Imo State interim APC Chairman, Marshal Okafor-Anyanwu.

“If the leadership of APC refused to attend to their (defectors’) complaints,” he said, “it was probably because they knew they had been bought over.”

Okafor-Anyanwu also laughed off claims that they defected because of Okorocha’s domination of the party.

“It is not true that Okorocha was instrumental to the emergence of all the South East APC officials because all the merged parties brought in their candidates to fill their own slots.”

The PDP has exploited the friction.

During the rally on February 22 in Owerri to welcome the defectors, President Goodluck Jonathan said the ultimate objective is to reclaim Imo for the PDP.

To achieve the goal, the PDP may settle for a consensus governorship candidate in the state.

But Okafor-Anyanwu rubbished the idea that the gang-up against Okorocha and the defections to the PDP may harm APC in the 2015 ballot.

“Udenwa and others are featherweight politically now in Imo State and the South East,” he said.

“Their exit from APC is a blessing as they were not card-carrying members.”

APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, declined comment when Society Reporters contacted him.

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Paris-bound bizman arrested with 111 cocaine wraps

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has arrested a 48-year-old businessman, Emmanuel Orjinze, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine.

The suspect, who claimed to be a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on May 21 during the outward clearance of an Air France flight to Paris, France.

This was made known in a statement signed by the agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, and shared on the agency’s website on Sunday.

The statement read, “Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have arrested a 48-year-old Paris, France-bound businessman, Emmanuel Okechuku Orjinze, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine, which he excreted after days of observation in the agency’s custody following his arrest at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

“Okechukwu, who also claims he is a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on Tuesday, May 21, during the outward clearance of Air France flight AF 878 from Abuja to Paris, France.

“After a body scan confirmed he ingested illicit drugs, he was taken into custody where he excreted a total of 111 pellets of cocaine that weighed 1.603 kilograms over three days. The suspect claimed he did business in the maritime sector while still scouting for any European football club to engage him. ”

In the same vein, the NDLEA officers operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos hinted that they had dismantled another drug trafficking syndicate at the airport.

This, they said in a statement, followed the arrest of four members of the network and the seizure of a total of 8kg of methamphetamine and 7.60kg of Loud, a synthetic strain of cannabis imported from South Africa.

The statement added that a drug trafficking syndicate was busted at the airport when an official was caught with illicit substances in their backpack and bag.

On May 21, 2024, the NDLEA officers, supported by aviation security, intercepted the official at Terminal 1 and discovered the drugs during a search, blowing the lid off the syndicate.

“A swift follow-up operation at the Ajao Estate area of Lagos led to the arrest of two other members of the syndicate: Chris Nwadozie and Chinedu Nwaosu. Further investigation led to the arrest of another member of the cartel working within the airport system on Saturday, May 25,” the statement added.

In a related development, the agency also arrested a freight agent, Sonubi Abiodun, for attempting to export eight parcels of cocaine concealed in paint buckets to the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the NDLEA operatives arrested suspects producing and distributing skuchies, a mixture of black currant and illicit drugs, in Lagos, and recovered 2,480 litres of the psychoactive substance.

In Cross River State, a suspect, Ogar Emmanuel, was arrested with 2.5kg of cannabis, while 290kg of cannabis was recovered from the warehouse of Usani Ikpi, who is still at large. Additionally, three suspects – Sa’adu Sule, Mukhtar Nura, and Hamza Nura – were arrested in Katsina State with 70kg of cannabis, which originated from Ogun State.

The statement added, “No fewer than five suspects including Ezekiel Munda, 30; and Sule Mustapha, 21, were arrested by the NDLEA operatives on Thursday, May 23, during raids at the Karu Abattoir, Jikwoyi and Tora Bora hill area of the FCT, Abuja, where 95.01kg of cannabis and different quantities of opioids were recovered from them.

“In Edo State, operatives arrested a physically challenged notorious drug dealer, Zekere Sufianu, 45, at Auchi town on Wednesday, May 22. At the time of his arrest, he was found with 751 grams of Loud, 178 grams of tramadol, and pills of swinol,” the statement concluded.

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FG suit against 36 govs over LG funds begins

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The Federal Government has approached the Supreme Court with a suit seeking to compel governors of the 36 states of the federation to grant full autonomy to the local governments in their domains.

The suit, marked SC/CV/343/2024, was filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), on behalf of the Federal Government.

The Federal Government is urging the apex court to issue “an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government leaders for local governments.”

In the suit predicted on 27 grounds, the Federal Government accused the state governors of gross misconduct and abuse of power.

The FG, in the originating summons, prayed the Supreme Court to make an order expressly stating that funds standing to the credit of local governments from the Federation Account should be paid directly to the local governments rather than through the state governments.

The justice minister also prayed for “an order of injunction restraining the governors, their agents and privies from receiving, spending or tampering with funds released from the Federation Account for the benefits of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is put in place in the states.”

The Federal Government further sought “an order stopping governors from constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the Constitutionally recognised and guaranteed democratically system.”

The originating summons was backed by a 13-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Kelechi Ohaeri of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Ohaeri, in the affidavit, averred that the AGF instituted the suit against the governors under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on behalf of the Federal Government.

He said,“The Constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, states and local governments as three tiers of government and the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution.

“By the provisions of the Constitution, there must be a democratically elected local government system and the Constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the local government level other than a democratically elected local government system.

“In the face of the clear provisions of the Constitution, the governors have failed and refused to put in place a democratically elected local government system even where no state of emergency has been declared to warrant the suspension of democratic institutions in the state.

“The failure of the governors to put democratically elected local government system in place is a deliberate subversion of the 1999 Constitution which they and the President have sworn to uphold.

“All efforts to make the governors comply with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution in terms of putting in place a democratically elected local government system has not yielded any result and to continue to disburse funds from the Federation Account to governors for non-existing democratically elected local government is to undermine the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution.

“In the face of the violations of the 1999 Constitution, the Federal Government is not obligated under Section 162 of the Constitution to pay any state, funds standing to the credit of local governments where no democratically elected local government is in place.”

The AGF, therefore, urged the apex court to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that the state governors and state Houses of Assembly are under obligation to ensure a democratic system at the third tier of government in Nigeria and to also invoke the same sections to hold that the governors cannot lawfully dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

Furthermore, he urged to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that “the dissolution of democratically elected local government councils by the governors or anyone using the state powers derivable from laws enacted by the state Houses of Assembly or any Executive Order is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.”

The apex court has fixed Thursday, May 30 for hearing.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees hailed the move by the Federal Government, saying it would join the lawsuit as a concerned party.

 

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JUST IN: Tribunal affirms Diri as Bayelsa governor

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The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, upheld the election that produced Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State.

A three-man panel led by Justice Adekunle Adeleye dismissed the petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Timipre Sylva, and the party for lacking in merit.

In a unanimous decision, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove any credible evidence to back up any of the allegations they raised against the re-election victory of Diri.

Details shortly…

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