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Lawan gets Goje boost



Senator Ahmed Lawan is inching closer in his bid to become the Senate President.  One of the main contenders, Senator Danjuma Goje, bowed out of the race after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.


Goje explained to State House Correspondents that he was standing down out of respect for the president and the party that had proclaimed Lawan as its candidate for the top job of the National Assembly. But it’s not all clear for Lawan, as the other contender, Senator Ali Ndume, quickly reacted to the development yesterday and said in a statement that he remained in the race and was confident of breasting the tape.

Goje had gone to the villa in company with Lawan, who was the majority leader of the eight Senate that was dissolved yesterday, and the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nazir el-Rufai.

According to sources close to the discussions, the meeting was in fulfillment of Goje’s condition that before he could withdraw from the race, he must hear directly from Buhari.

With the condition met yesterday he had no more straw to cling to and had to stand down.

Consequently, Goje, who represents Gombe Central Senatorial District, threw his weight behind Lawan of Yobe North Senatorial District.

Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, El-Rufai said the former governor had agreed to fully quit the race for the number one seat in the National Assembly and support Lawan, thanking him for the sacrifice he had opted to make.

El-Rufai also said Goje’s decision to withdraw his ambition and support Lawan was meant to strengthen the unity of the party.

He said: “Gentlemen of the press, I am very pleased to report to you that we just came out of a meeting with our leader and mentor, the president, with distinguished Senator Danjuma Goje, and Ahmad Lawan from Yobe to discuss steps to unify our leadership in the National Assembly, starting with the Senate.

“I am very pleased to announce that distinguished Senator Goje has agreed to fully endorse and support the choice of the party and that of Mr. President to lead the Senate. I am very grateful to Senator Goje for his sacrifice. This discussion has been going on for a very long time and am honoured to be part of the discussions.”

Confirming his withdrawal, Goje thanked his supporters whom he said had been persuading him to throw his hat in the ring, saying he was left with no option than to withdraw from the race in deference to pleas from party leaders and in expression of his loyalty to the party.

He also said he opted to withdraw from the race in the overall quest for the unity of the party as well as the necessity to assist the president in his policies for the development of the country.

Goje said: “Before I proceed, I want to use this opportunity to thank my teeming associates, supporters, and admirers across the country. Some have been calling me to declare for the Senate presidency.

“The calls have come from across the country. I listened to them. I appreciate them and thank them so much, but I want to say that as an elderly man that has been in this game for a long time and my age, I should be able to appreciate leadership coming from our elders.

“So, in spite of all these calls and my support base, I have decided in deference to loyalty to our party and in the interest of the unity of our party, the APC, and the development of our country and in order to assist President Muhammadu Buhari in his policies, I have decided by not declaring for Senate presidency. Instead, I am supporting the position of the party, thereby endorsing the candidature of Ahmad Lawan.”

Asked if succumbing to pressure from party leaders to withdraw his ambition does not amount to compromising the independence of the legislature to choose its own leaders, Goje said he was not intimidated out of the race.

He also said he was not forced out of the race, neither did his withdrawal for Lawan amount to the latter’s imposition on the Senate, explaining rather that his decision was taken from the depth of his own conviction in the interest of the country and his support for Buhari.

According to him, “I don’t think there is an imposition. I am not compelled to step down but as a reasonable person and at my age, I think I have the capacity to think well and to respect my elders and my party.

“I have been in party politics since the Second Republic and I have been independent. I have been winning my elections several times, from local government to house of assembly, to National Assembly, to governorship and also a minister, to say that I would be frightened to support somebody, it’s impossible.

“I am supporting him based on my own conviction that I am doing the right thing for our country and our president.”

Lawan expressed gratitude to Buhari and El-Rufai whom he described as the architects of the move, describing it as another step aimed at boosting the unity of the party.

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PDP Governors back Atiku



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



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



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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Tribunal sacks Senate’s spokesperson



The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Tuesday, nullified the election of Senator Dayo Adeyeye of Ekiti South. Justice Danladi Adeck, a member of the three-man tribunal, read the unanimous judgment.

He declared former Minority Leader and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Biodun Olujimi, winner of the poll.

When the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Adeyeye of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the February 23 election, Olujimi petitioned the tribunal that she was the real winner of the election.
The former Minority Leader submitted that she scored the highest number of lawful votes cast in the election.

She prayed the tribunal to nullify Adeyeye’s victory and order a supplementary election.

The petitioner claimed that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, having been allegedly fraught with all manner of irregularities.

Justice Adeck nullified the elections in some polling units to declare Olujimi the authentic winner of the poll.

Olujimi polled a total of 54,894 votes to emerge victorious over Adeyeye, who polled 52,243 votes.

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