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Magu: I’m Glad Senate Didn’t Confirm My Appointment |The Republican News

EFCC Boss, Ibrahim Magu

Oluwatosin Omojuyigbe

 

The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, said on Thursday that he was glad the Senate refused to confirm him as the substantive chairman of the anti-graft agency.

Magu said if the Senate had confirmed him, perhaps he would not have been able to perform as much as he had done.

The acting chairman said this before the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja where he was testifying in a libel suit he filed against The Sun Newspaper.

Magu had sued publishers of the Sun Newspaper for a series of publications which he described as libellous and injurious to his character.

The EFCC boss who sued the publishers before Justice Doris Okuwobi claimed N5bn damages and also demanded that The Sun Newspapers should publish an apology and retract the alleged libellous publications.

Magu, under cross-examination by the respondent’s counsel, Charles Enwelunta, said he was not worried that he had been rejected by the Senate twice.

He said, “I have been rejected by the Senate twice and it does not worry me that I’m not confirmed; I’m not bothered. It’s good that they did not confirm me, I may not be able to work very well as we have been able to get over 700 convictions.”

He claimed before the court that he had only one house in the Karo area of Abuja as against the publication of The Sun Newspaper alleging that two houses were traced to his wife by the Department of State Services.

Magu dismissed as false The Sun Newspaper’s publication of March 25, 2017, titled ‘Magu under fresh probe,’ which claimed that two houses located in a highbrow area in Maitama, Abuja were traced to his wife and that he was under discreet investigation by the DSS.

He said, “Since I came to the EFCC, nobody has investigated me. I am not under any probe, the publication is totally false. Even if I have the money, I wouldn’t buy houses in Maitama.

“My wife is a civil servant. We only have one house sold to us in Karo, Abuja. The publication is completely untrue.

“I want to tell you the damage it has done to me. It was not done to me alone, it has gone down my lineage, the entire family, and it has done so much wrong. It has done so much damage.”

Justice Okuwobi adjourned the matter till February 28, 2019 for further proceedings. (Punch)

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Buhari: “I’m Not Desperate”, Over The Electoral Act Controversy |RN

… As Olu of Warri marks 3 years on the throne

Ben Dunno, Warri

 

Amid the controversies trailing President Muhamadu Buhari’s decline to assent to the amended Electoral Act, he has allay fears that his refusal was not to encourage manipulation of the electoral process, insisting that he is not in any way desperate to remain in power against the wish of the people.

President Buhari made this clarification in a goodwill message delivered on his behalf by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, at the 3rd coronation anniversary of the Olu of Warri, Ogiamme Ikenwoli, held in Warri. He reaffirmed his commitment to a peaceful and transparent process in which every Nigerian would be free to exercise their voting rights.

Dr. Kachikwu noted that the president never sees next year’s elections as a ‘do or die,’describing him as a man who is more than ever committed to good governance and peaceful coexistence of the nation.

“The President as a peace-loving man who strongly believes in the corporate existence of the nation, has assured severally (that he would)  accept the outcome of the 2019 general elections based on his conviction that leadership position is a call to serve the people in whatever capacity one is being elected.”

He urged all Nigerians to be rest assured of a transparent democratic process that would ensure a free, fair and credible process in the build up to the 2019 general elections.

In his remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, expressed the need to reach out to other ethnic groups in the country in order to foster unity, love and peaceful coexistence among the Nigerian people.

He admonished the political class on the significance of peace and good governance as twin factors that must complement each other if it is truly sincere about delivering the dividends of democracy to the electorate.

While applauding the rich-cultural heritage of the various ethnic groups in the country, especially the colorful dresses and dance of the Itsekiri people, the Sultan noted that these had become our strength as they further unite Nigerians as one people rather than divide them.

On the 2019 general elections, the Sultan urged the electorate to be weary of politicians who would come out to make empty promises they could never keep and counseled the people to use their votes wisely to elect leaders who would better their lots as a people.

He condemned the act of vote-buying during elections and advised the electorate not to mortgage their conscience for the token they would be given to sell their votes on election days, stating that by so doing they will also mortgage the future of their children.

He called for prayers for the leaders for God to guide and lead them right in making critical decisions about the future of the nation as Nigeria is the only country Nigerians have as a people.

He also decried the poor state of development of Warri and urged Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who was present on the occasion, and Dr. Kachikwu to convey to the Federal government, the need to develop the area.

In his speech, Dr Okowa, extolled the peaceful disposition of the Olu of Warri, Ogiamme Ikenwoli, which he noted had helped in sustaining peaceful coexistence in the area and its environs.

He said that his administration has laudable programmes and expected to complete some major road projects within Warri and its environs as captured in the state’s 2019 budget.

Earlier in his address, the host, Ikenwoli, drew the attention of both the state and Federal governments to some very critical projects that needed to be carried out in his domain, to further boost the nation’s GDP, job creation, gas exploitation and utilisation, foreign exchange earnings and other economic benefits.    (The Sun)

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2019: Yakasai Implicitly Endorses Atiku For President |The Republican News

 

Okwe Obi, Abuja 

A founding member of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, has tacitly endorsed the candidature of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Mr Peter Obi, ahead of 2091 presidential election.

The 92-year-old politician spoke in Abuja, at the launch of a book entitled ‘The Coming Revolution: A Manifesto for National Greatness,” authored by Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher.

Yakasai, who did not mention Atiku and Obi names, said it would be an opportunity for the North East and South East to have a taste of the proverbial national cake.

“2019 would be a very important election in our history. It would afford a very good section of the country an opportunity to have its own share of the national cake. I’m talking about our brethren from the south eastern part of Nigeria.

“There is also a section in the North that has never produced a president; that is the North East. It has produced a prime minister once. That was under a different constitution. The South East and North East have never produced a president for Nigeria.

“If it happens that the running mate of Buhari is able to win the election after him, and if God grants him the wish of ruling for eight years, it may likely come back to the North East. If you add it up it would come to 20 years.

“And it would go back to the South and anybody can win because it would be open to South East, South West and South-South. If by whatever reason power stays in the North, after the South West has ruled for eight years it would be 20.

“It would go to the South and stay there for 8 years. If it is the wish of God for the South East to get it, that is how long they will wait for it,” he added.

He lamented the constant change of political parties by politicians connotes the lack of integrity.   (The Sun)

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Cohen Sentenced To 3 Years After Implicating Trump In Hush-money Scandal

New York Times

Michael D. Cohen, the former lawyer for President Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday morning in part for his role in a scandal that could threaten Mr. Trump’s presidency by implicating him in a scheme to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with him.

The sentencing in federal court in Manhattan capped a startling fall for Mr. Cohen, 52, who had once hoped to work by Mr. Trump’s side in the White House but ended up a central figure in the inquiry into payments to a porn star and a former Playboy model before the 2016 election.

Judge William H. Pauley III said Mr. Cohen had committed a “smorgasbord” of crimes involving “deception” and motivated by “personal greed and ambition.”

“As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better,” the judge said.

Before he was sentenced, a solemn Mr. Cohen, standing at a lectern, sounded emotional but resolved as he told the judge he had been tormented by the anguish and embarrassment he had caused his family.

“I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today,” he said, “and it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man” – a reference to Mr. Trump – “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”

Mr. Cohen said the president had been correct to call him “weak” recently, “but for a much different reason than he was implying.”

“It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass,” Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Cohen then apologized to the public: “You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.”

Federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office and home in April, and he later turned on Mr. Trump, making the remarkable admission in court that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange the payments.

Mr. Trump at first denied knowing anything about the payments, but then acknowledged that he had known about them. This week, he insisted that the payments were “a simple private transaction” — not election-related spending subject to campaign-finance laws.

He also maintained that even if the hush-money payments were campaign transactions in violation of election regulations, that should be considered only a civil offense, not a criminal one.

Since Mr. Cohen came under investigation, Mr. Trump has mocked him as a “weak person” who was giving information to prosecutors in an effort to obtain leniency when he is sentenced.

In fact, Mr. Cohen did not formally cooperate with prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan. In addition to the campaign-finance violations, the sentence covered Mr. Cohen’s guilty pleas to charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and making false statements to Congress.

He took a calculated gamble in pleading guilty to this litany of federal crimes without first entering into a cooperation agreement with the government. He offered to help prosecutors, but only on his terms, and there were some subjects he declined to discuss.

His lawyers argued he should not serve time in prison. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said he deserved around four years.

Judge Pauley had the final say. The judge said Mr. Cohen’s assistance to the special counsel’s office, though useful, had not “wiped the slate clean,” and a “significant term” of prison was justified.
In the end, the judge gave Mr. Cohen three years for the crimes he committed in New York and two months for lying to Congress, to be served at the same time. He was also asked to pay nearly $2 million in fines, forfeitures and restitution.

Mr. Cohen’s sentencing was unusual because it involved guilty pleas he made in two separate cases, one filed by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and a later one by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In the case brought by Mr. Mueller’s office, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the duration of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, as well as about the extent of the involvement of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen revealed that Mr. Trump was more involved in discussions over the potential deal during the election campaign than previously known.

The investigation of Mr. Cohen by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan burst into public view in April when the F.B.I. raided his office, apartment and hotel room. Agents hauled off eight boxes of documents, about 30 cellphones, iPads and computers, even the contents of a shredder.

Four months later, on Aug. 21, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and making false statements to a financial institution.

Mr. Cohen admitted in court that he had arranged the payments “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.
The payments included $130,000 to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, which the government considers an illegal donation to Mr. Trump’s campaign since it was intended to improve Mr. Trump’s election chances. (The legal limit for individual contributions is $2,700 in a general election.)

Mr. Cohen also admitted he had arranged for an illegal corporate donation to be made to Mr. Trump when he orchestrated a $150,000 payment by American Media Inc. to a former Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal, in late summer 2016.

Prosecutors in Manhattan wrote last Friday to Judge Pauley that Mr. Cohen, in arranging the payments, “acted in coordination with and at the direction” of Mr. Trump, whom they referred to as Individual 1.

On Nov. 29, charged by Mr. Mueller’s office with lying to Congress, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty again.

The two prosecuting offices each wrote to Judge Pauley, offering sharply contrasting portrayals of Mr. Cohen.

The Southern District depicted him as deceitful and greedy and unwilling to fully cooperate with its investigation. It said it declined to sign Mr. Cohen as a formal cooperator because he refused to discuss fully any crimes in his past or crimes by others that he was aware of — its policy for witnesses who seek to cooperate.

The Southern District wrote to the judge that Mr. Cohen had a “rose-colored view of the seriousness” of his crimes, which they said were “marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.”

Mr. Mueller, on the other hand, said Mr. Cohen had “gone to significant lengths to assist” the Russia investigation and recommended that he receive some credit for his help.
Lawyers for Mr. Cohen, who once claimed he would “take a bullet” for Mr. Trump, cited his cooperation with Mr. Mueller and his attempts to assist the Southern District prosecutors in asking that he be spared prison.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyers, Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester, argued in a memorandum to the judge that Mr. Cohen had taken responsibility for his crimes and had cooperated with Mr. Mueller’s office, meeting seven times with those prosecutors to offer information. They also noted that Mr. Cohen had met twice with prosecutors in Manhattan.

Mr. Trump last week weighed in with his own sentencing recommendation, tweeting angrily, “He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”    (The Sun)

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2019: Only God Can Stop Buhari From Winning – Bature |The Republican News

“Only God can stop Buhari from winning the 2019 presidential election. You will remember this day… only God will stop Buhari and not Atiku Abubakar.”

Gyang Bere, Jos

 

Rufus Bature, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and candidate for Plateau North Senatorial District, believes that only God can stop President Muhammadu Buhari from winning his election and not PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. He said it is a taboo for his people in Northern Plateau to be refugees and enslaved in their own land.

What are your fears about President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid?

Honestly, I do not have any fear. Only God can stop Buhari from winning the 2019 presidential election. You will remember this day that I said only God will stop Buhari and not Atiku Abubakar. Buhari will win his election without any obstruction. I am not a Prophet but from what I see, and what I hear, Buhari will win the election. I have the confidence that Buhari will get more votes in Plateau and in all parts of the country than he got in 2015, because different groups are mobilising for massive votes for him and the APC in 2019. I have not seen anybody that will thwart his re-election, not even Atiku Abubakar.

APC is swimming in trouble waters following the outcome of its party primaries where some governors have insisted that the national chairman must resign, don’t you think that it is a sign of defeat for the party ahead of the 2019 general elections?

You should expect that everybody will want to belong to a house that is very busy and if that is so, you will expect these intrigues, squabbles and blabbing in the APC. But at the end of the day, I am assuring you that APC will come out stronger and victorious in 2019.

With this crisis, don’t you think your National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole should resign?

Why should he resign? Unless they have found him wanting with clear cases of mismanagement, clear cases of corruption or cases of ineptitude. If he is not found wanting in any of these why should he resign? One thing with him is that as a Labour man, he has been so combative to an extent that people are not comfortable with him but I believe that he should give a little ear to whoever has a complaint. Like thepresident said, he should not bar people from going to court, if you genuinely feel that you are aggrieved, you can seek for redress in the court of law because that is what our constitution says. The Constitution of APC cannot be above the Constitution of Nigeria; therefore, I agree with Mr. President that whoever feels aggrieved should seek redress in any court of law.

Lalong came into power in 2015 on the basis of protest votes, do you still believe that he will win in 2019?

I am very optimistic that APC will form the government in Plateau State, it will form the government at the national level and I am optimistic that I will be part of the government that will be formed at the national level. We are all human beings, nobody is 100 percent right, we have our weaknesses; we are looking at these weaknesses and trying to make amend. But I believe rational thinking people and people who are objective on the Plateau, considering the circumstances that we met when we came on board and looking at what this government has done, will treat us fairly, we need to be looked at from our performance and not from any sentimental issue or bias point of view.

Most Plateau people and the Beroms who are the majority in the Northern zone are affected by killer herdsmen attacks and they appear not too comfortable with the APC government, how will your party win election when the people appear angry with APC?

We started APC on the Plateau together with the current governor, I know how many people voted APC from my own constituency, despite that and to be magnanimous in victory, Governor Lalong appointed me as Secretary to the Government, if it was just because of the vote that my people gave, I wouldn’t have been the Secretary to the Government. One of the first thing we did together was to look at this issue of crisis, and the first person that the governor consulted was the Gbong Gwom Jos. The second Group of people was the Fulani, we started a meeting, which culminated into a committee that was set up; it sat for months and brought up a very germane recommendations and the government started implementing some of the recommendations, which brought peace until the recent carnage.

What happened in the state is like a baby that is sucking breast and all of a sudden he was pull off the breast, you will certainly hear a striking cry, that is what happened. My other folks who were predominantly in PDP never believed that any government can emerge outside PDP, they were not ready for anything call hand-over, they were not ready to believe that it was not a PDP person that was going to emerge, therefore whatever that this government is doing that is good, they have never seen the good in it. If the government that I served were not magnanimous in victory, we would not have the appointment that we have. I have the record because I was the Secretary to the Government, all the political appointments that were made; even though they might not be quality but quantity wise, no single tribe on the Plateau has up to half of the appointments that the Berom people have, I stand to be corrected.

The governor was magnanimous enough in the Northern zone to allow me to nominate people into positions of Special Adviser, Senior Special Assistants, Board members, commissioners and so on. Infact, in Berom land, 95 percent of the appointees were nominated by me. We have built roads that are spread all over the local government areas that did not even vote for him. The governor said we are all Plateau people and therefore, they should benefit. Sometimes I feel so sad when people say this government has not done anything for Berom people, it is very glaring that this government is an all inclusive one. Lalong’s government is not anti-Berom.

At what point will you say this issue of land grabbing started in your home, Barkin-Ladi?

It has been there since 2001, there are many communities that were sacked and the people never went back to their land. So it is not today, it did not start under this government; if you go to Riyom Local Government area, you will see the same thing. This thing started right from the onset and because it was not nip in the bud, it continued unabated. When you go to Gashish you will see what I am talking about, I wept the day I went there. It was not in 2015 that this land grabbing started, it has been there for a very long time.

But do you believe that the Military are colluding with the Fulani herdsmen to attack your people just like Gen. TY Danjuma (Rtd) alleged in Taraba?

I have heard people saying that but I don’t have any incontrovertible evidence to prove that the Military is colluding, I don’t have any evidence. People might have their own evidence but I as a person don’t have any evidence.

What do you suggest the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari should do to the people of the area before 2019?

I appeal to him to do what he has said through the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo when he came to sympathise with the victims of the crisis and the president repeated it when he came to Jos recently. He said nobody who has been chased out of his community that will not go back unless he does not want; he is making every effort to make sure that people go back to their communities. One thing I want to emphasise, is that we must learn to respect, tolerate and understand one another, it is very important. When the lands were grabbed the other time, nobody made any effort to reclaim and take the people back to their communities.

You mean the PDP government did not make effort to take displaced persons back to their homes in the state?

Yes, of course. Nobody made any effort; today President Buhari is trying to take these people back to their communities even those who left since 2001 but some people are being very critical about it. It is unfortunate that some are saying is it only now that the government is concerned about the people; we are aware that things have happened, what did the leaders do during that time that the people were first displaced? I don’t want to start making comparison, all I want is that the people should be treated fairly, we should do justice, whether there was justice or no justice, we will be accountable for our own period. Whatever happened during the PDP period, is for them and will be judge by what they did, but as far as we are concern, we are doing what we believe is right, we are doing what we believe is just.

Plateau North Senatorial Zone is predominantly PDP, how do you intend to emerge APC Senator from the zone?

I want to contest that presumption that the Northern zone is predominantly PDP. If you look at the combination of members of the House of Assembly, about four of them are APC and four of them are PDP; for House of Representatives, out of the three of them, two are APC, while the senator is PDP and the governor is APC. APC is the home of Plateau North as far as I know. PDP was the government in power during the 2015 elections and the governor was from the Northern zone that was why some people thought that PDP was strong in the zone. But with what is on ground now, APC is in total control of the zone and the 2019 election result will show clearly that Northern zone is predominantly APC.

You resigned your position as Secretary to Government of Plateau State, to run for the senate. What is the motivation?

As a human being, everybody should have an ambition; I have had the opportunity of serving Plateau State in the House of Assembly for eight year, representing my constituency, Barkin-Ladi. My performances at the House of Assembly then are there for people to talk about; and having served in that capacity and not just a member of the House but as a leader of the minority in the House, I did my utmost best. We were the Guinea pigs that came in, in 1999 after a lonely political arena in Nigeria; with robust workshops and seminars held within and outside Nigeria, to give us a good start. I feel that the knowledge I acquired then while in the House is still with me and therefore I feel I should deploy the knowledge at a higher level. The experience which I had while in the House of Assembly for eight years and having been out of government for another eight years and returning to serve as Secretary of Government now in a ruling government; were the things that propelled me to seek for the position of Senator to represent Northern Zone of Plateau State.   (The Sun)

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APC Has No Governorship, Other Candidates In Rivers, Appeal Court Rules |RN

On October 10, 2018, a High Court in Port Harcourt nullified the nomination of Mr Tonye Cole as the APC governorship candidate in Rivers

Tony John, Port Harcourt

The Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, on Wednesday confirmed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State will not field any candidates during the 2019 General elections when it dismissed the appeal filed by the factional Rivers State APC Governorship Candidate Mr Tonye Cole.

The Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division also confirmed the judgment of Justice Chinwendu Nwogu that Rivers State has no ward executives, local government executives and State Executives as it dismissed the appeal filed by Sacked Rivers State APC State Chairman, Mr Ojukaye Flag-Amachree.

The Court of Appeal Port Harcourt Division Special Panel Chaired by Justice Abubakar Yahaya dismissed the two appeals for lack of merit.

The third appeal which centred on the judgement by Justice Chinwendu Nwogu was dismissed because it was filed out of time and therefore statute barred. Delivering his judgement Justice Yahaya, said the appeal against the Justice Chinwendu Nwogu High Court judgement on the party Congress crisis lacks merit, adding that the application for joinder failed to observed the 14 days rules of Appeal.

Delivering judgement on the substantive appeal number CA/PH/198 which bordered on Justice Nwogu’s judgement, the panel ruled that the Ojukaye faction failed to seek leave of court before appealing against the judgement.

Justice Yahaya ruled that the judgement delivered at the lower court was a consent judgement, adding that Ojukaye faction should have done the needful legally before approaching the court. Counsel to Ibrahim Umar and 22 others, Mr Patrick Luke said that the rulings of the Court of Appeal confirm that the judgement by Justice Chinwendu Nwogu remains valid and is still subsisting. Counsel to Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, Emenike Ebete noted that the court heard the three matters and in her wisdom arrived at the rulings confirming the judgment of Justice Chinwendu Nwogu.

He said: “Arguments were taken but the Court in its infinite wisdom held that in appeal 461, that is the substantive appeal, that the consent judgement of the High Court of Rivers state and by provision of the constitution, we ought to have sought leave of court to appeal against that consent judgement. That is their own decision and they struck it out.

“The one for the candidates and the party state executives, we were dismissed on the ground that it was a pre-election matter, that we did not bring the application within 14 days after decision was delivered on October 10. What that means is that, we will approach the Supreme court to contest the judgment.”

On October 10, 2018, a High Court in Port Harcourt nullified the nomination of Mr Tonye Cole as the APC governorship candidate in Rivers; on the ground that his nomination is a function of illegality and unconstitutional acts.

The court also nullified the state’s APC senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly primaries conducted on the premise of the illegal ward congresses.

The High Court further nullified all the elections of Rivers APC Ward Executives, Local Government Executives and State Executive Committee that arose from the illegal ward congresses.

In a judgment delivered by Justice Chiwendu Nwogu, in a suit filed by Ibrahim Imah and 22 others, against the APC, the court declared that the ward congresses of Rivers APC were illegal because they were not conducted in line with the APC Guidelines and Constitution.  (The Sun)

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Uproar In Senate As Buhari Excludes South-South, South-East From EFCC Board |RN

Olalekan Adetayo, with agency report

There was a rowdy session in the  Senate on Tuesday over the four members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The senators were divided as the lawmakers from the South-East and the South-South protested the exclusion of the two geopolitical zones by the President in his nominations.

But the senators from the North, particularly the All Progressives Congress members, argued that the Senate should proceed with the confirmation of the nominees.

The division led to a resolution to suspend the confirmation for more legislative input.

The nominees whose names were submitted to the Senate for confirmation are Ndasule Moses (North-Central), Lawan Mamman (North-East), Galadanci Imam Najip (North-West) and Adeleke Adebayo Rafiu (South-West).

The Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes led by Chukwuka Utazi had presented a report on the nominees to the plenary.

The committee recommended their confirmation on the basis of their “qualification, experience and suitability” for the job.

However, Utazi said the committee noted that the nominations did not reflect the Federal Character principle as the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones were excluded.

He stated, “The committee observed that three out of the four nominees were from the North-Central, North-East and North-West geopolitical zones, with only one nominee from the southern part of the country, that is South-West.

“The committee notes that this is not in strict compliance with the Federal Character Principle as provided for in section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The committee makes this observation to guide the Executive in future nominations,” Utazi said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that after the committee had presented its report,   senators Rabiu Kwankwaso (PDP Kano Central) and Barau Jibrin (APC-Kano North) supported its recommendation  that the nominees should be confirmed based on their “experience and competence.”

However, trouble began when Senator Victor Umeh (APGA-Anambra Central), rose to oppose the nominations because they would send more wrong signals about the fight against corruption.

The senator noted that “while the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, is from the North-East, the recently confirmed Secretary of the commission, Olanipkekun Olukoyede, is from the South-West and two of the nominees are from the North.”

Umeh said, “Mr President, we have continued to say this that there is a need to accommodate all parts of Nigeria in activities of government, particularly in appointing people into agencies of government.

“That has been the practice in this chamber, and on this issue of fight against corruption, the EFCC is a very important commission because the fight involves all parts of Nigeria.

“People are investigated in all parts of Nigeria and the commission cannot fight corruption to the satisfaction of all Nigerians if some parts of the country are not represented in it.”

He added, “This makes a total of four people from the North. The South-East and South-South are not accommodated in this commission.

“It is important that we include all regions in governing roles and in the fight against corruption, as it involves us all. All geopolitical zones should be included in this commission.”

He urged the Senate to be “bold enough” to step down consideration of the report and return the nomination to the Presidency.

Senator Matthew Urighide (PDP-Edo-South) supported Umeh, saying the exclusion of the South-South and the South-East would paint a bad picture.

Urighide also called on the Senate to step down consideration of the report until federal character was reflected in the nomination.

He stated, “Let us delegate people to look at the distribution of these appointments. I suggest that this matter be stood down while it is looked into.”

Eyinnaya Abaribe from Abia State also argued that the confirmation should be stepped down and nominees be returned to the President for reconsideration.

Asked by the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, to give more information on the composition of the EFCC board membership, Utazi said there were six positions, including the chairman and secretary.

He noted that the positions could go round the six geopolitical zones of the country, and give everyone a sense of justice, describing the “lopsidedness” as unfair to the excluded zones.

The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC-Yobe North), however, said as far as the nominations were concerned, no law was breached.

He said that they did not breach the EFCC Act which, he argued, was silent on the zones from which the members should be appointed.

Senator Ali Ndume also said the issue should not have been raised on the floor of the Senate since the chairman of the committee who is from the South-East did not raise the issue.

The chamber was thrown into pandemonium as the senators rose from their seats and yelled at each other, while the rowdiness lasted.

Efforts by Saraki to calm the angry lawmakers were unsuccessful. This prompted the lawmakers to go into a closed-door session, which lasted for 25 minutes.

It was at the session held behind closed doors that they agreed the confirmation be suspended for further legislative input.  (Punch)

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