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Courts negates plans to remove senate leaders

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has struck suit that sought to prevent the removal of the leaders of the Senate in ways other than as provided in the Constitution.

In a judgment on Monday, Justice John Tsoho said the plaintiff – the Civil Society Observatory for Constitutional and Legal Compliance (CSOCLC), failed to establish its claim of plot to unlawfully remove the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu

The plaintiff had on August 29, 2018 after some security personnel laid to the residences of Saraki and Ekweremadu last year in an alleged attempt to prevent them from accessing the Senate chamber.

CSOCLC had claimed the incident was a plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC) members in the Senate, the executive arm of government and security agencies to harass Saraki and Ekweremadu with the aim of illegally removing them from office.

The plaintiff argued under Section 50(2) (c) of the Constitution, Saraki and Ekweremadu cannot be removed from office unless by a resolution of the Senate supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate.

Justice Tsoho, in the judgment on Monday, declined to grant any of the many reliefs sought by the plaintiff, including the one for an order of perpetual injunction stopping any plan to remove Saraki and Ekweremadu except by resolution backed by two-third majority votes of the Senate.

The judge noted that although not all the 110 respondents contested the suit, but stated that e plaintiff failed to prove the case with cogent and credible evidence.

Justice Tsoho said: “The plaintiff’s suit must succeed on the strength of its evidence and not on the weakness of the defence of the respondents.”

The judge was of the view that the newspaper reports presented before the court as the evidence of alleged threats of attempts to remove both Saraki and Ekweremadu through unconstitutional means in August 2018 lacked probative/evidential value.

“In law, newspaper reports are not generally admissible as the fact of what is recorded in them by virtue of section 37 of the Evidence Act,” the judge ruled.

Justice Tsoho stated that newspaper reports could be admissible as evidence of publication of a particular piece but not as the truth of the fact recorded in them.

He noted that relying on newspaper reports as evidence of the truth of an event amounted to relying on hearsay evidence which lacked evidential value.

The judge added that, although the prayers sought by the plaintiff were declaratory in nature, the plaintiff must establish its entitlement to them by adducing credible evidence.

“Applying the laws aforestated, it is crystal clear that in its bid to establish its case, the plaintiff has not shown any credible evidence in its affidavit to persuade this court in anyway,” Justice Tsoho said.

He added that “the burden” on the plaintiff “is quite heavy in view of the fact that declaratory relief is not granted even on admission by the respondents where the plaintiffs fail to establish its claims.

“Accordingly, all the prayers sought cannot be granted for want of credible evidence. They are hereby refused and the plaintiff’s suit is struck out,” the judge said.

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Makinde donates salary to Teachers pension board

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Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has disclosed that his monthly salary as the state governor is N650,000. He, therefore, declared his readiness to tackle poor remuneration in the state’s civil service. Makinde made this declaration while addressing the newly sworn-in Commissioners in the state as he reiterated his commitment towards finding a lasting solution to the issue of poor remuneration in the civil service.

He maintained that poor remuneration packages could be counterproductive to anti-corruption initiatives.
He said, “We do have challenges and I can give you an example of the kind of issues that we are faced with. When I was on the podium being sworn-in, I announced that I was donating my salary to the pension board. I actually thought my salary was going to be like N3 or N4 million monthly but when I came in here, I discovered that my salary is only six hundred and fifty naira (N650,000) monthly, which is less than two thousand dollars ($2,000). And then, I have a budget of over five hundred million dollars.

Declaring that his administration would definitely make some uncomfortable decisions, he, however, noted that such decisions would be fair and just, stressing that people should hold him accountable for whatever happens during his administration.

Makinde promised to run a progressive administration, stressing that he would consult with his predecessors if there was a need to do so.

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PDP Governors back Atiku

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Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors have given their backing to the decision of the party’s 2019 presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar to appeal the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal’s judgment upholding President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory.

The PDP Governors Forum said the tribunal stood justice on its head in the September 11 verdict.

It added that if the verdict is not challenged at the Supreme Court, it may have far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s democracy.

In a statement by its Chairman and Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, the Forum said the tribunal’s judgment attempted to lay a faulty moral foundation for future generations.
The governors said: “After painstakingly and prudently understudying the line after line tenets of the judgment, several holes were picked and countless anomalies identified by us.

”We would be doing a greater disservice and moral injustice to our party, our democracy and Nigerians in general if we turn blind eyes, swallow such bile and applaud that rape of justice.

”The judgment, to say the least, has further painted our judiciary with darker colours; only this time around with a never-before-seen blemished coat of tar.

”However, we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will re-write that history by ensuring that such stains and tar are removed from our judicial archives.

“The apex court should know that its integrity is at stake and in order to avoid it been shredded to particles, must employ all known technicalities to save our nation and the future of Nigerians yet unborn from a development that may further make us a perpetual laughing stock amongst the comity of nations.”

The Forum said Nigerians were very hopeful that the tribunal’s “wrongs” will be made right by the Supreme Court.

“Without any iota of trepidation, it is most paramount for us to once more restate and reconfirm our undiluted loyalty, deserving support and maximum commitment to our great party and the Atiku-Obi presidential ticket.

“This is our stand, now and in the future. Posterity would judge us harshly if we did otherwise,” the governors added.

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Kogi deputy governor’s impeachment gains momentum

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The Secretary to the (Kogi) State Government (SSG), Mrs. Folashade Ayoade-Arike, on Monday, entered the witness box to testify at the panel hearing investigating allegations of gross misconduct against the deputy governor of the state, Elder Simon Achuba.

Others that testified at the panel sitting at the state High Court, Lokoja, included the Acting Director (Treasury), Office of the Accountant General, Mr. Elijah Ebinemi, who presented before the panel, evidence of alleged salaries/allowances payment, to the embattled deputy governor.

The certified true copies of said payment were said to have covered between 2016 and 2017. Also testifying was Saliu Hassan Itopa, Cashier, Office of the Deputy Governor.

The Chief Judge (CJ) of Kogi State, Justice Nasir Ajanah had on August 23, constituted a seven-man panel to investigate allegations of gross misconduct raised by the state House of Assembly against the Deputy Governor.

Members of the panel are Mr. John Baiyeshea (SAN) (Chairman), Hajia Bilikisu Abdulmalik Basher, Mr. William A. Aliwo, Canon Z. A. Asun, Alhaji Isa Adeboye, Mr. Muhammed A. Aikoye, and Mr. Ada Shaibu. Mr. Bamidele Aina, while the Deputy Court Registrar (DCR), Special Duties at the High Court will serve as secretary to the panel.

The SSG under cross-examination by lead counsel to Achuba, Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), among others, alleged that the state deputy governor last attended the weekly state executive council meeting, in August 2018.

She said that she was incompetent to issue a query to the deputy governor, the latter being her boss.

She stated that while it is not under the schedule of the Office of the SSG to pay the salary of the deputy governor, all workers of the state, including the deputy governor and his aides, have however been paid “up-to-date”.

She said that her office is responsible for the payment of salary to political officeholders.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Anthony Adeniyi, lead counsel to the state government, Itopa, the cashier in the office of the deputy governor, explained that allowances and other monies, including impress are paid directly into the bank accounts of those concerned.

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APC demands apology from Atiku, PDP

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, Thursday taunted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for losing their bid to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the election.


The duo urged them to apologize to Nigerians for challenging the president’s declaration as the winner of the election, adding that Buhari will win the former vice president even at the World Court or the Supreme Court.

But the PDP, which has signified its intention to appeal the judgment of the tribunal, which rejected its petition to nullify Buhari’s election, at the Supreme Court, fired back, saying their triumphalism would be transient.

Mohammed called on Atiku and the PDP to apologise for deliberately distracting the Buhari administration with what he described as a frivolous election petition.

In a statement yesterday from St. Petersburg, Russia, Mohammed acknowledged that while the PDP and its candidate reserved the right to pursue their petition to the highest level, “they will be better served by dropping their toga of desperation and realising that there is a limit to tomfoolery.”

“Nigerians are tired of this orchestrated distraction, and will rather wish that the opposition, having lost at the polls and in court, will now join hands with the government to move Nigeria to the next level.

“This is more so that the judgment validating the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari was unanimous that the petition lacked merit, that the petitioners failed to prove any of the grounds upon which their case was anchored and that President Buhari is eminently qualified to contest the poll,” he added.

According to him, instead of casting aspersion on the judiciary with their poorly-framed reaction to the ruling of the tribunal, the PDP and its candidate should be thanking their stars that they are not being prosecuted for coming to court with fraudulently-obtained evidence.

“It is intriguing that a party that trumpets the rule of law at every turn will present, in open court, evidence it claimed to have obtained by hacking into a supposed INEC server.

“Don’t they realise this is a criminal act for which they are liable? Instead of threatening to head to the Supreme Court, driven more by ego than commonsense, they should be sorry for allowing desperation to overwhelm their sense of reasoning. Enough is enough,” Mohammed stated.

He commended the tribunal for not only doing justice to the case but for explaining, in painstaking details that lasted hours, how it arrived at its judgment.

”We also thank Nigerians who voted massively to re-elect President Buhari for their continued support,” he said.

On his part, Oshiomhole yesterday said Buhari and the APC would defeat the PDP and Atiku should they go to the Supreme Court, and if possible, the World Court, to challenge the ruling of the tribunal.

Oshiomhole spoke with State House correspondents when he accompanied APC women leaders from the national, zonal and 36 states of the federation to meet with Buhari.

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