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Buhari/Saraki Relationship: A Partnership That Works…



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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N3bn Fraud Trial: Court permits Yahaya Bello’s accused nephew to travel abroad





The Federal High Court in Abuja has permitted an accused nephew of former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello to travel to the United Kingdom for medical attention.


To enable the defendant, Ali Bello, to embark on the foreign medical trip, the court ordered the release of his passport seized from him as part of his bail conditions.


Obiora Egwuatu, the trial judge, issued the order on Monday, overruling the objection of the prosecution agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to grant the accused person’s request.


He said the prosecution failed to present convincing evidence to back its claim that Ali would jump bail or tamper with evidence if allowed to embark on the medical trip.


He said he had no reason to believe Ali would jump bail, having fulfilled previous undertakings to return to Nigeria to continue his trial on two separate occasions.


“Since the grant of bail, he has not breached the terms of bail and has been coming to court to stand his trial.


“It is not controverted that this court had on two previous occasions granted the applicant similar prayers.


“On those two occasions, that is, between the 1 to 31 August 2023 and 17 December 2023 and 10 January 2024, the applicant did not breach the terms of the permission granted,” the judge said.


Stressing the need to ensure a defendant is healthy to stand trial, the judge said, “I wholeheartedly subscribe to the view that a defendant should be alive to stand trial” and face the consequences of his crime if found guilty.


Mr Egwuatu ordered the court’s deputy chief registrar who keeps Ali’s passport to release it to him, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.


He also ordered the defendant to return the passport on or before 15 September.


Series of charges relating to Kogi funds

Ali and three others are standing trial on money laundering charges involving N3 billion allegedly diverted from the Kogi State coffers during former Governor Bello’s tenure.


The three co-defendants in the case are Abba Adaudu, Yakubu Siyaka Adabenege and Iyadi Sadat.


The case is only one in a series of prosecutions the EFCC brought against Ali, Mr Bello and their associates over their alleged fraudulent handling of Kogi State Government’s funds.


Ali and a co-defendant, Dauda Sulaiman, are charged with money laundering in another case involving the alleged diversion of N10 billion of Kogi State’s funds. The case is before a different judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, James Omotosho. The prosecution has already called seven witnesses in the trial.


Mr Bello, the former governor, faces money laundering charges involving an alleged diversion of Kogi State’s N80 billion in a separate case before Mr Omotosho. Both Ali and Mr Suleiman are named as accomplices in the case.


EFCC brought the charges against Mr Bello after completing his two terms of eight years as governor in January but has been unable to get him to court for arraignment.


Since April, Mr Bello has shunned six court sessions scheduled for his arraignment, which has now been rescheduled for 25 September.


Ali’s medical trip request

On 5 April, Ali filed an application in the trial before Mr Egwatu seeking an order to release his passport from the deputy chief registrar of the court to enable him to travel abroad for medical consultation and examination.


He said the trip was to fulfil a routine cardiologic follow-up to review his medication and undergo cardiac tests.


He said he received medical advice to undergo the process annually.


He also recalled that the judge had granted him similar permissions to embark on the foreign medical trip on two occasions – first between 1 and 31 August 2023 and second between 17 December 2023 and 10 January 2024.


He said he returned to Nigeria on both occasions and returned his passport to the court’s deputy chief registrar as he was ordered to.


He pleaded with the judge to order the release of his passport again, undertaking to return it to the official upon his return from the UK to Nigeria.


The defendant also gave an assurance to be law abiding in the UK.


EFCC opposes request

The EFCC opposed the application.


Arguing against the request in court, EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, a SAN, cited a five-paragraph counter-affidavit detailing reasons for the commission’s objection. An EFCC official, Abubakar Salihu Wara, swore to the facts in the document on 19 April.


Mr Oyedepo argued that Ali failed to place any medical report before the court to show the health condition that necessitated the medical appointment.


Mr Oyedepo said Exhibit ‘A’ attached to the application did not disclose the email address of the sender and the receiver of the said medical appointment.


He added that the applicant did not present anything to show that Exhibit ‘A’ emanated from the London Centre for Advanced Cardiology as claimed.


He argued that Ali might tamper with evidence gathered for his prosecution if his application is granted.


However, Ali filed a further affidavit to dispute the prosecution’s claims.



Apart from banking on the reputation Ali had earned by fulfilling his promises to return to Nigeria when granted the foreign trip permissions on two previous occasions, the judge also ruled that EFCC’s reasons for objecting to the request were not convincing.


Mr Egwatu held that EFCC failed to show that the name of the London hospital Ali planned to visit and its address “are not in existence”. He said there was no contrary evidence disputing the fact that the applicant “has a scheduled appointment with the said cardiologist.”


According to him, there was also no evidence presented by the EFCC to show that while Ali was on bail, he did or attempted to interfere with evidence or collude with any person to tamper with evidence.


The judge further said that a defendant ought to be healthy to stand the rigours of trial.


Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele, facing multiple corruption trials, recently applied to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to seek medical attention in the UK, but the court rejected the request.


The judge in the case upheld EFCC’s objection, which was argued by Mr Oyedepo, the same prosecutor in Ali’s trial.





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Reps ask FG to suspend NMDPRA boss over anti-Dangote refinery comment





The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to suspend the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Farouk Ahmed, pending the conclusion of the investigations of allegations against what it called the unguarded statement by the CEO.


The resolution of the House followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by the member representing Esosa Federal Constituency, Edo State, Esosa Iyawe, during Tuesday’s plenary on the need to address issues arising from Farouk’s utterances about the nation’s local refineries.


The lawmaker reminded his colleagues that claims of adulterated fuel in the Nigerian market must be thoroughly investigated, stating that fuel quality can impact engine hardware.


This he said, is the reason ultra-low sulphur diesel is recommended for all types of power plants, storage tanks, industrial facilities, fleets and heavy equipment, and even ships, as high sulphur content in fuels, causes damage to engines and contributes to air pollution.


He said considering the various risks associated with sulphur, countries across the world have taken steps to regulate it by setting standards that require maximum reduction of emissions of this chemical compound, which diesel producers are expected to adhere to.


The Labour Party lawmaker, however, noted that the NMDPRA permits local refiners to produce diesel with Sulphur content of up to 650 parts per million until January 2025, as approved by the Economic Community of West African States.


He quoted the NMDPRA boss as saying that the diesel produced by the Dangote Refinery is inferior to the ones imported into the country and that their fuel had a large content of sulphur, which he put at between 650 to 1,200 ppm.



“In their defence, Dangote called for a test of their products, which was supervised by members of the House of Representatives, wherein it was revealed that Dangote’s diesel had a Sulphur content of 87.6 ppm (parts per million), whereas the other two samples diesel imported showed sulphur levels exceeding 1800 ppm and 2000 ppm respectively, thus disproving the allegations made by the NMDPRA boss.



“Allegations have been made that the NMDPRA was giving licences to some traders who regularly import high-sulphur content diesel into Nigeria, and the use of such products poses grave health risks and huge financial losses for Nigerians.


“The unguarded statements by the Chief Executive of the NMDPRA, which has since been disproved, sparked an outrage from Nigerians who tagged his undermining of local refineries and insistence on the continued importation of fuel an act of economic sabotage, as the imported products have been shown to contain high levels of dangerous compounds.”


He condemned what he called the careless statement by Farouk, noting that “Without conducting any prior investigation, he was not only unprofessional but also unpatriotic, especially in the face of the recent calls for protest against the Federal Government.”


Recall that a joint committee of the House on Monday, July 22, 2024, commenced investigations into Farouk’s allegations against Dangote Refinery.


The panel, made up of the Committees on Petroleum (Downstream and Midstream) is also conducting a legislative forensic investigation into “The presence of middlemen in crude trading and alleged unavailability of international standard laboratories to check adulterate

d products”, among others.




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Democrats Raise Over $40 Million Online Following Biden’s Presidential Race Exit




In a remarkable display of financial support, Democrats raised more than $40 million online following President Joe Biden’s announcement that he would be exiting the presidential race. This surge in donations, which occurred on Sunday, marked the most significant single day of online contributions for the Democratic Party since the 2020 election.

According to a New York Times analysis of ActBlue’s online contribution tracker, the wave of donations began shortly after President Biden’s withdrawal and coincided with Vice President Kamala Harris gaining momentum in the nomination race. Prior to Biden’s announcement, donations were averaging less than $200,000 per hour. However, within just one hour after the news broke, donations soared to $7.5 million.

The ActBlue platform processes contributions for various Democratic candidates and causes, not limited to Biden or Harris. It includes donations to Democratic House and Senate candidates as well as political nonprofits. The overall increase in donations highlights the unified support within the party during a pivotal moment.

Kenneth Pennington, a Democratic digital strategist, expressed his enthusiasm on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “This might be the greatest fundraising moment in Democratic Party history.” The previous record for single-day donations on ActBlue was set after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020, with approximately $73.5 million processed. Sunday’s donations, reaching over $50 million by the end of the day, made it one of the platform’s most successful days ever.

The influx of contributions comes at a critical time for the Democratic Party, which has been grappling with internal conflicts and a need to regain momentum in the race aga inst former President Donald J. Trump. Fundraising had significantly slowed among major Democratic donors following President Biden’s underwhelming debate performance, but his departure from the race seemed to galvanize the party’s base.

Biden’s exit and his endorsement of Vice President Harris appeared to unify Democratic supporters, resulting in a dramatic spike in contributions. As Harris builds momentum to secure the nomination, the financial backing will undoubtedly play a crucial role in her campaign.

President Biden’s withdrawal had been anticipated by many, although the timing came as a surprise. He announced his decision while recovering from Covid at his Delaware beach house. In a letter posted on X, Biden reflected on his presidency, calling it the “greatest honor of my life.” He emphasized that stepping down was in the best interest of the party and the country, allowing him to focus on his duties for the remainder of his term.

Biden’s endorsement of Harris was swift and unequivocal, with his campaign quickly rebranding to “Harris for President.” Prominent Democrats and potential rivals, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, promptly voiced their support for Harris.

The surge in donations following Biden’s exit signifies a critical juncture for the Democratic Party. With substantial financial resources now at their disposal, the party aims to leverage this momentum to overcome recent challenges and strengthen their position in the upcoming election.


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