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Buhari/Saraki Relationship: A Partnership That Works…

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Just last week, I reviewed most of the pictures from the Muhammadu Buhari campaign before the March 2015 presidential election that I culled from the newspapers. From my observation, the sitting arrangement was a big surprise. It is as if as at then, those who arranged how the key individuals in the campaign sat had envisaged the eventual ranking. In most of the pictures, Buhari was ensconced between his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and then Senator Bukola Saraki.

As fate will have it, the three men are now occupying the top three positions in the land. Those pictures made me to do a flashback into how Saraki emerged as Senate President. It has always been clear to President Buhari that what Saraki wanted in the emerging new government was to be Senate President and the then Presidential Candidate, seeing the commitment of the man morally, intellectually, physically and financially, was not opposed to it. In fact, both men worked together closely.

This was the situation until some forces who had an agenda to control the National Assembly as a devise to constitute a constant check to the Buhari Government identified Saraki as a threat to their design. They then covertly went to the President and poisoned his mind against Saraki. That was when the claim of being “too ambitious”, “will use the legislature against you” and “he cannot be trusted with such a powerful position” came.

They then encouraged the President to support a candidate who they presented as the party’s candidate. What those power mongers hid from Buhari was their own plan to hold the National Assembly as a means to always checkmate the President. However, even though they succeeded in making the President withdraw his plan to openly endorse Saraki for the Senate Presidency, Buhari chose not to join the fray in a bid to stop him. Rather, he announced his preparation to work with whoever emerged.

However, Saraki created his own coalition to emerge as Senate President. When Saraki upon becoming Senate President refused to accept the list sent to him by the APC National Working Committee, he incurred Buhari’s wrath. The President felt it was an overkill and that the Senate President wanted to do a winner takes all.

The same anti-Buhari group masquerading as his acolytes told Buhari to allow them teach the recalcitrant Senate President a lesson he would not forget. And that was how the Code of Conduct (CCT) and the forgery of Senate rule book trials commenced in September 2015.

The forgery case has since collapsed as the initiator saw that it lacked substance. The CCT case is still wobbling there with its prosecutor fumbling along. The asset declaration case appeared not well investigated and inelegantly drafted. Even the evidence produced by the prosecution has been debunked and made empty by their own witnesses under cross-examination.

Buhari realized the antics of his ‘new friends’, when they moved against the President on the Kogi and Ondo governorship polls. At that time, the friends refused to toe the party position. Rather, they were ready to destroy the party structure to ensure they get their own candidates in. Their anti-party activities in aid of the candidates of the opposition made Buhari to have a re-think on these type of ‘friends’.

Actually, these ‘friends’ had planned to move alongside their loyalist incumbent Governors with their supporters into another party and fight the President. Their plan was foiled when Saraki aligned with the President and mobilized men and materials to ensure their defeat and the victory of APC candidates in the two elections.

After their failure in both Kogi and Ondo States, the group shifted attention to the party and plotted to get Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the party’s national chairman, out of the national secretariat. However, the President stood by the party chairman. In defending Oyegun, Buhari enjoyed the support of Saraki. All these defeats and the cold shoulder the ‘friends’ now get from Buhari made them uncomfortable. They quickly beat a retreat and started plotting on how to win the President’s confidence all over again.

In what appeared to be a show of support for Saraki, he and the President began to see very regularly. They share same thoughts on key national issues and presented a common front. This renewed partnership between the President and the Senate President led to the appointment of Saraki’s protege, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, a former Minister of Youth and Sports as the National Publicity Secretary of the party. Today, Abdullahi is one of the young Turks providing cover for Oyegun who continues to enjoy the President’s support.

Another indication of the closeness between Buhari and Saraki is evidenced in the turn of events in the relationship between the President and Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. During the period the President was in London attending to his health, a memo El-Rufai wrote to him several months before became public. The private memo was a damning report on the general situation of things in the government and as it concerns key members of the administration.

Close watchers of government believed the private memo became public because somebody miscalculated that the President might not survive the illness and was therefore eager to remove himself from what the blame that may result from the perceived failure of the government. An African proverb says ‘let us feign death so that we can know those who will genuinely mourn us when we eventually depart’.

However, in the case of Saraki, he led the National Assembly’s three man delegation to London to see the President. At another occasion, he privately saw the President and informed the nation that there was no cause for panic. His statement after the visit contributed in calming down the tension and apprehension over Buhari’s ill-health. Saraki further briefed his colleagues that the President was okay and would soon return home. His message averted the plan by some hawks in the Senate who wanted the President’s health and prolonged absence from the country debated on the floor.

Since Buhari’s return to the country, Saraki has been a frequent visitor to the Presidential Villa without making any noise. On such occasion, he and the President exchanged ideas and Buhari gets briefed on issues in and around the work of the legislature. On many occasions, Saraki served as sounding board to the President on some executive policies and initiatives which if implemented the way it was initially conceived would have led to public outcry or have a backlash.

As Senate President, Saraki has led his colleagues to confirm the nominees of the President, even when some of the lawmakers have objections. These nominees include ministers, ambassadors, heads of parastatals and many others.

However, it is obvious that those who feel they have something to lose when it becomes obvious that Saraki and Buhari are getting on fine have continued to invest so much resources and efforts in propaganda stuff to create tension between some members of the executive and the legislature while presenting it as if there is a rift between the President and the Senate President.

It should be restated that it is in the interest of Nigeria if these two leaders, against all odds, maintain their good relationship and co-operate to deliver the good times that their party, APC, promised Nigerians, irrespective of the intrigues spawn by the power mongers around them.

 

Leadership NG

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More Troubles For Umo Eno As Court Rejects Stay-of-execution Request

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday dismissed an application filed by Pastor Umo Eno seeking a stay-of-execution of the Order which had nullified his nomination as the PDP governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State.

The court which nullified Eno’s nomination, ordered that he should be replaced with Rt. Hon. Michael Enyong as the authentic PDP candidate.

In throwing out the request for stay of execution, the Court ruled that Umo Eno was never a party to the case filed by Enyong, and so his request could not be entertained by the COurt. The court therefore described Umo Eno as ‘’meddlesome interloper’’ for seeking to file an application in a matter he was never a party of.

Recall that in a judgement delivered on January 20, Justice Fadima Aminu of the FHC, Abuja, had ordered the PDP to submit Enyong’s name to INEC as its candidate. In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1295/2022 filed in August, Enyong had submitted that he won the party’s primary held on May 25. The defendant in the case was PDP. Enyong did not join Eno as a party in his case. How clever!

This means that it is only the PDP that has the locus to file an appeal or stay of execution application against the judgement which sacked Eno. So far, the PDP’s National Legal Adviser (NLA) is not willing to participate in the matter especially since he was never carried along in all the Umo Eno legal matters. Rather, the Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Party had always engaged Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem (the former NLA) as its legal counsel, totally sidelining the current National Legal Adviser. Recall also that the PDP National Legal Adviser had a few weeks ago issued a public statement announcing that it is only the NLA that has the authority to brief and engage lawyers holding briefs for the party. The public statement had also warned party members to desist from engaging lawyers without his knowledge.

Meantime, I understand that Enyong’s lawyers had served INEC with the Court order and his name would soon be published by the electoral umpire as PDP’s authentic governorship candidate.

My Take:

1. The chances of Umo Eno returning to his former status as the governorship candidate is very, very slim. It probably will not happen.

2. Gov. Udom Emmanuel and the PDP have yet to come to terms with the fact that Umo Eno’s name has been deleted as the candidate. They are inconsolable in anger, grief and pain. ‘’They are experiencing a great sense of separation, akin to the overwhelming feeling of loss which one experiences when he is bereaved’’, says a political analyst and business man, Elder Aniefiok Isatt.

3. This development is also the greatest setback and the most devastating blow the PDP has ever suffered in the state since 1999. This case might just be some kind of ‘’Nunc Dimittis’’ for the PDP in the State.

4. Privatively, PDP stalwarts are quick to blame the governor for the woes that has befallen the party this season. They believe that by imposing a very unpopular person as the candidate, the governor had bruised and hurt the majority of the members.

5. The question many are pondering is: Will Udom Emmanuel take to Enyong and accept him as the PDP candidate, thus conceding that Umo Eno was never God’s revelation, contrary to what he told the people; or will the governor leave Enyong to his own devices and embrace a different person?

 

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Our Client Wanted To Say ‘Pupsy’, Not Her Private Parts — Lawyer Defends Embattled Nigerian Polytechnic Female Graduate

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Barrister Ikechukwu Nwaopara, a legal practitioner representing the interest of Sharon Ogechi Okoroafor, the graduating student of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri, Imo State, who went viral on social media for saying that she graduated with the help of God and her private parts, has said his client was misinterpreted.

The lawyer, who made the appeal to the institution’s management in a statement made available to newsmen, claimed that their client had no intention of disparaging the institution’s reputation, standards or integrity.

The statement reads: “We are solicitors to OKOROAFOR OGECHI SHARON (our client under our Pro Bono (Free Legal Services) on whose behalf we write this memo to you.

“We are aware that she will be facing the school disciplinary panel this morning, and we wish to use this medium to express our confidence that the panel will carry out their duties in compliance with the principles of Fair hearing, good conscience and natural justice, devoid of harassment, intimidation, and threats.

“We have met and discussed with our Client and evidence before us shows that she has no intention to defame the character, standard and integrity of the institution. In her words what happened in the said viral video was a slip of tongue as a result of her uncontrollable ecstasy over her graduation. Her intended words were “God and Pupsy” in appreciation of the Almighty God and her dad.

“It is clear, therefore, that she had no intention whatsoever to use such a “foul word” in the said viral video to cajole or blackmail the institution, as no lecturer or name of the institution was mentioned or referred to in the said viral video.

“Our lawyers are already on ground at the institution now to follow up the proceedings at the panel against any form of intimidation or harassment. The integrity and standard of the said institution is not in doubt especially since my senior brother, Rev Dr Arimanwa took over as the Rector. Indeed, justice is for all parties.”

We had reported that after Sharon’s video went viral on the internet, the management of the institution announced that it would investigate her action as it was capable of dragging the reputation of the school to the mud.

 

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Alleged N1.4bn Fraud: Witness Reveals How Kogi Assembly Candidate, Atumeyi Fraudulently Benefitted N681m from Union Bank Customers’ Accounts

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The first prosecution witness, PW1, Olusegun Falola, in the ongoing trial of Ismaila Yousouf Atumeyi, a Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, and two others, on Monday, January 31, 2023, told Justice Tijani Ringim of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how the sum of N681m (Six Hundred and Eighty-one Million Naira) was paid into Atumeyi’s business account.

Atumeyi is standing trial alongside Ngene Joshua Dominic and Abdulmalik Salau, a former employee of Union Bank Plc, on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged cybercrime and money laundering to the tune of N1.4bn.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, Falola, an Internal Auditor and Team Lead, General Investigations, Union Bank Plc, told the court that “sometime in October 2022, during the periodic internal review of accounts of customers, we observed that some accounts that were placed on No-debit were debited.

“In the course of our review, it was observed that the methodology employed in debiting the said accounts was different from the way accounts are being debited in the normal banking activity.

“Based on this, the case was assigned to me for further internal investigation. During the review, I observed that beyond the few accounts that were referred to me for investigation, there were other numerous accounts that were being debited.

“Furthermore, the debits on these accounts were traced to two beneficiaries, Atus Homes Limited account and Fav Oil and Gas Limited.

“These two accounts received the sum of N681m and N1.38bn, respectively from the account of 429 customers.”

He also told the court that further investigations revealed that Atumeyi is the signatory to the Atus Homes Limited account, while the signatories to Fav Oil and Gas are Shuaibu Yusuf and Nurudeen.

According to him, all illicit debits on the customers’ accounts were done via internet banking on one of the bank’s platforms known as Union 360.

Giving further testimony, he said: “As at the time of investigation, over 600m had been withdrawn from the account of Atus Homes Limited and over N800m withdrawn from Fav Oil and Gas.

“We also realized that they were able to make those fraudulent transfers because the bank system was fraudulently manipulated.

“It was this realization that made us know that only a person with privileged information on the bank’s information technology could have carried out such illicit transactions.

“It was based on that knowledge that we reported the matter to the EFCC for further investigation.”

Oyedepo sought to tender the petition written to the EFCC, the correspondences between EFCC and the bank as well as the defendants’ statements of account that had been identified by the PW1.

However, counsel to the third defendant, Babatunde Ogunwo, objected to the admissibility of the attached statement of account on the grounds that the prosecution had not sufficiently complied with Section 84 (2) 2(4) of the Evidence Act.

“I strongly believe that the prosecution has not satisfied the provisions of Section 84 (2) 2(4) of the Evidence Act. All I heard the witness say is questions put to him by the prosecution.

“However Section 84(2) of the Evidence Act gives conditions more than what the witness has stated.

“There are four legs as stated by the Evidence Act and the witness has only answered one. These conditions have to be complied with.

“I humbly submit that the prosecution has not complied with the conditions stated for the admissibility of the statements of account”, Ogunwo argued.

Responding, Oyedepo said that the argument of the defence counsel was misconceived and also missed its target.

He, therefore, urged the court to discountenance the objection of the defence.

He also submitted that the certificate of identification as enshrined in the Section of the Evidence Act “is not a ritual that must be performed in achieving admissibility of computer-generated evidences.”

He further argued that “where the issue is as to the failure to comply with procedural steps towards admissibility, the order the court will make is not to reject the document, but to urge the tendering party to regularize.

“This document is relevant in the determination of this matter and I urge my Lord to so hold.”

In a short ruling, Justice Ringim overruled the objection of the defence and admitted the evidence in exhibit.

Justice Ringim also granted the second defendant, Dominic, bail on the same terms of the 3rd defendant, as granted on January 6, 2023.

The matter was adjourned to February 2, 2023 for continuation of trial.

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