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UK Visit: PDP, SANs Fault Buhari’s Refusal To Write National Assembly, Handover Over To Osinbajo

Buhari lands in London

Olusola Fabiyi, Eniola Akinkuotu, John Ameh, Leke Baiyewu and Ade Adesomoju

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has described as illegal President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘private visit’ to London and his refusal to inform the National Assembly.

Falana said this during an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday

The senior advocate said Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution stated expressly that whenever the President was travelling out of the country on vacation, he must transmit a letter to the National Assembly.

The activist said, “No doubt, the President is entitled to embark on local and foreign trips to attend the engagements of family members and friends like other citizens.

“But the President is not permitted by the constitution to abandon the enormous responsibilities of his office for 10 days on account of a private visit to the United Kingdom or any other country whatsoever.

“Since President Buhari’s current private visit to the UK for an undisclosed mission has made it impossible for him to preside over the meeting of the Federal Executive Council and perform other functions of his office, he should transmit a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the Constitution.”

He said as long as the President could not fully carry out the functions of his office, he ought to inform the legislative arm of government.

Falana stated, “Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the controversial private visit, President Buhari is deemed in law to be on vacation or leave of absence for 10 days.

“Whether the President is on vacation or not is not in dispute, but that he is unable to discharge the functions of his office for 10 days. To that extent, the President has to comply with Section 145 (1) of the Constitution which states that, ‘Whenever the President is proceeding on vacation or otherwise, unable to discharge the functions of his office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to that effect, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice President shall perform the functions of the President as acting President’.”

He wondered why the Presidency refused to inform the nation of the President’s mission to the UK as Buhari remained the chief public officer.

Falana said, “The official claim that the President is not on vacation has failed to address the constitutional implications of the privacy of the visit of the Head of the Federal Government which is administered on the basis of accountability and transparency.

“Under the current democratic dispensation, the movement and activities of the No 1 Public Officer in the country cannot be shrouded in secrecy.”

Also, in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, another human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, said the President’s decision to travel out on a private visit was not only unconstitutional but immoral.

The senior advocate said the President, as the number one public office holder, had no right to embark on a private visit without informing Nigerians of the purpose of the visit.

He wondered why the President, who had been informing the National Assembly of his previous travels and had been delegating power to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as acting President, would suddenly change.

He said, “The entire journey is not only illegal, it is also unconstitutional and immoral. It is immoral in the sense that the President travelled with the tax-payers’ money.

“The day the President was sworn in, he ceased to be a private citizen and he became a public figure whose public outings must be known, especially when he is outside Nigeria.

“The visit is illegal and unconstitutional because he did not transmit a letter to the Senate that till he returns, the Vice-President will be the acting President and perform the duties of the President.”

Also, another SAN and Queen’s Counsel, Prof. Fidelis Oditah, said although the trip might not be illegal, it violated constitutional provision that required the President to transfer power to the Vice-President whenever he was on vacation.

Oditah, whose QC title is the England’s equivalent of the Nigerian SAN, said the President’s “private” trip abroad qualified as a vacation.

He added, “How is the trip illegal? I think it is better to say that the President violated the provision of the constitution which requires him to transmit a letter to the National Assembly transmitting power to the Vice-President.

“I don’t know if that, by itself, makes the trip illegal. But I suppose it’s a matter of semantics.

“I think the Constitution is clear that whenever the President wishes to go on vacation, he is required to inform the National Assembly and to transmit a letter that he is transferring the reins of power to the Vice-President.

“I am not sure of what the President says he is doing, but if the President were to be on an official duty outside the country for five or six days, he would not be required to transmit a letter. But here he says he is making a private visit to the United Kingdom for 10 days, and I think that will count as a vacation, whether he says it is a vacation or not.”

But another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Paul Ananaba, said the trip was not illegal, stating that every issue should not be politicised.

He said, “The trip is not illegal. Transmitting letter has to do with whether the Vice President should act or not. We should not politicise every issue in the country.

“Transmitting letter or not has to do with which role the Vice President will play when the President is on a foreign trip and not the illegality or otherwise of the trip.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), said he was not competent to speak on the issue but the President’s spokespersons.

Expect more ‘I don’t care’ attitude from Buhari –PDP

In its own reaction to Buhari’s trip, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, said Nigerians should expect more daring actions from the President in coming days.

It said this was one of the many reasons why the President and the All Progressives Congress were making moves to install their cronies as the heads of the two chambers of the 9th National Assembly.

The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, said the President and the APC were planning to undermine the 9th National Assembly.

Secondus stated, “We now see one of the reasons why the President and his party are desperate to force their cronies on both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“The President wants a National Assembly that will not ask him questions. He wants a leadership that will pass bills as presented without subjecting them to public hearing and debate. The President wants to leave the country without anyone asking him his whereabouts.

“That will not be possible in a country like Nigeria. How will he leave for 10 days without informing the National Assembly and also hand over to the Vice President? This is wrong.”

Secondus asked Nigerians to get ready to confront the President in the coming days, wondering why he (Buhari) would not show commitment to end the killings in many states, including Katsina.

Buhari can rule from anywhere within short absence –Presidency

But the Presidency said on Saturday night that Buhari could govern the country from anywhere in the world.

It stated that so long as the President’s absence was for a short period, he did not need to inform the National Assembly.

The Presidency also said Buhari, while in the UK, was exercising authority as the President since his absence would be for 10 days and not up to 21 days.

In a response to an enquiry on the issue by Sunday PUNCH, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, made a reference to Section 145 (1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution to make a defence for Buhari.

When asked why Buhari did not inform the National Assembly of his trip, Shehu replied that it was not necessary.

He stated, “No, that is not necessary. The President can exercise authority from wherever he is as he is currently doing.

“This is a relatively short absence. If you check Section 145 (1) and (2) of the Constitution, you will see that the law is only infringed upon when such absence extends to 21 days.”

The President had jetted out of the country on Thursday, last week.

Meanwhile, both the presidential liaison officers in the National Assembly and officials in the offices of the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives could not confirm the transmission of a letter by Buhari notifying the legislature about his trip as of Saturday night.

When contacted on Saturday evening, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Mr Umar el-Yakub, declined to speak to one of our correspondents.

The SSA on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, also did not confirm transmission of the letter. “I will be able to speak about it on Monday. Right now, I’m home for family and political matters. When I return (to Abuja) I will officially speak next week; I will officially speak on Monday,” he said.

Also, the Special Adviser to the President of the Senate on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, could not confirm receipt of the letter by his principal as of Saturday night.

Olaniyonu, however, noted that the letter might have been transmitted to his principal after the plenary on Thursday and might be made public to members at the next sitting on Tuesday.

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Our Decision On Lawan Is Final, PDP Votes Unnecessary – Oshiomhole |RN

          National Chairman, All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole

Olalekan Adetayo and Sunday Aborisade

 

The ruling All Progressives Congress on Wednesday said only the decision on the party’s preferred candidate for the position of the Senate President for the 9th Assembly had been taken.

It said the zoning formula for the remaining positions in the Senate and those in the House of Representatives was still being worked out.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Lanre Isa-Onilu, said this at a press conference at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.

He said, “We have decided who will be the next Senate President according to what democratic principles allow and that person is Senator Ahmed Lawan.

“That has been done and announced, it is left for the party to cross the‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s to get that sorted out.

“My emphasis is on the fact that we are not going to share powers, including what the PDP people call juicy committees and we call strategic committees, with people that Nigerians have rejected. They are exclusive for the APC.

“We don’t need them to head any committee where they are going to compromise the promises we have made to Nigerians.

“Nigerians cannot give us a mandate and we will go and give part of it to those they have rejected. We cannot betray the people of this country and we will never do it. The zoning arrangement for all the other positions is in the works.

“Just as the media and Nigerians have been informed about who our preferred candidate for the Senate Presidency is, we will come out to tell you what the zoning formula will be for the remaining positions in the Senate and also in the House of Representatives very shortly.”

The party spokesman said the APC had decided to go beyond zoning to identify candidates who were fit for the positions.”

In reaching the decision, he said there was nationwide consultation among party leaders.

Isa-Onilu said the presidential system of government being practised in Nigeria encouraged the “winner to take all.”

This, he said, was the reason why the PDP would not be allowed to produce any leader in the National Assembly.

He said, “It is democracy. I have listened to the PDP and in their usual style, they exhibited gross ignorance. What we practise in Nigeria is called presidential system of government. In this type of government, it is winners take all. Once you win, you take whatever you want. There is no room for power sharing.

“We don’t need it because we don’t need them (the PDP) to run this government. We have enough number to run this government. In any case, when we were campaigning, we never told Nigerians that we were going to share power with any other party.

“What we told them was that they should entrust power to us. As it is clear that we have made good use of power in the last four years, we are going to make better use of it in the next four years.

“Nigerians accepted this. It will be a betrayal of that trust to go ahead and start sharing power with a party, particularly the PDP, that has been rejected by Nigerians.

“They were banking on the experience of the last four years when some traitors within the APC fold sold our birthright to an opposition party. Some people now took that to be the new norm. It is not. In fact, that action was not democratic. It was treachery. “

APC does not envisage election

The party spokesman also said the APC did not envisage any election on the floor of the National Assembly.

He said names of the preferred candidates would only be read to them.

He added, “We have enough number to elect all our officers. We don’t need a single vote from the PDP. In any case, we don’t actually envisage any election on that day because we are going to present our members that will occupy these positions.

“All our members are very experienced politicians who understand what this means. When we get to the floor, we are going to read out the names. If the PDP so desire, it can bring its candidates up. Since the party does not have the number, it will be an exercise in futility for the PDP to nurse the ambition to share from what Nigerians have taken away from them.

“There are positions for minority parties; the APC will not contest those positions with minority parties. They belong to them.”

Isa-Onilu said Senator Ali Ndume’s position on the party leadership endorsement of Lawan as the Senate president was not wrong, saying the dissenting senator was merely expressing his fundamental right.

He, however, said since he had signed to be a member of the APC, he must be ready to abide by the position of the party.

PDP senators will support Lawan – Senate spokesman

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, has said senators elected on the platform of the PDP, will support Lawan to succeed as Senate President in the 9th National Assembly.

He also assured Nigerians that the decision of the APC to pick Lawan as its candidate for the office of the Senate President, would not lead to any crisis.

Lawan: Oshiomhole has APC’s leaders backing

Abdullahi, who is also the spokesperson for the APC senators canvassing support for Lawan, said the Senate Leader’s choice was not unilaterally done by an individual but was a collective decision of the party.

He said the APC leaders after due consultations only asked the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to announce Lawan as the party’s candidate.

This, according to him, was contrary to claims by Senator Ali Ndume that Oshiomhole’s announcement did not have the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari and that of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

“I was at the dinner along with other APC senators-elect, the National Chairman of our party, Adams Oshiomhole, never made any announcement or submission that can be described by anybody as imposition.

“He said in the spirit of avoiding what happened in 2015, the party leadership along with the Presidency, gave the required direction for the party as regards the position of President of the 9th Senate in a very persuasive and convincing tone and recommended Senator Ahmed Lawan for the position.

“The recommendation was spontaneously and instantaneously applauded by all the APC senators-elect in attendance without anybody dissenting.

“So, for Senator Ndume to later tell a story of imposition and shock through his media briefing, is nothing but being economical with the truth,” he said.

I’ll contest deputy senate presidency, says Kalu

However, a former governor of Abia State, Uzor Kalu, has said he will contest the position of the deputy senate president in 9th National Assembly.

Kalu, who is also Abia North senator-elect, wanted the APC to zone the position to the South-East in the interest of equity and justice.

Speaking with journalists at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Wednesday, Kalu said he was aware that the APC, which had the majority in the Senate, had zoned the Senate President position to the North-East and the Deputy Senate President to the North-West.

He said, “I am a very loyal party man. The party has zoned the Senate presidency position to the North-East and I want to respect the party’s will. But the second position is what we are not going to allow to leave the South-East.

“So, as far as I am concerned, in the South-East, I am going to run openly on the floor of the house for the position of the Deputy Senate President.

“I am not going to listen to the party neither will I listen to anybody. Nobody that wants to be the Deputy Senate President is more loyal than I am to the party.”

Asked to react to the threat by Kalu’s position, Abdullahi said no APC senator-elect would go against the party on that day.

He said, “I don’t have the idea on what the party is doing on the position of the Deputy Senate Presidency. The party will ensure that a senator from each of the geopolitical zones benefit from the leadership positions, that is, two presiding officers and the four principal officers.”

He said Oshiomhole was correct for saying that the ruling party would take all the available leadership positions meant for the majority party in the Senate.

He said, “Oshiomhole was actually talking to those in the majority. The majority will have their way while the minority will have their say but the two must co-exist.

“Let me tell you very clearly that we have been engaging our colleagues in the PDP and I will tell you that majority of them are actually working for us to see that we have a harmonious, rancour-free, non-tumultuous Senate.

“Our colleagues in the PDP are not interested in any fight. We are engaging them and we are talking. They know the truth and I know that we shall work together and succeed together.”

Abdullahi ruled out the possibility of a repeat of the 2015 crisis on the day of inauguration.

Meanwhile, Isa-Onilu said the party could not help the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, who had been denied his certificate of return as a senator-elect because he was still on suspension.

He said the governor himself was aware of his suspension, hence, he had not reported his dilemma to the party.

He said, “This party cannot take any action. Don’t forget that Governor Okorocha is on suspension. As far as this party is concerned, that situation remains. He also has not come to us to say the situation he has because he also realised that he is on suspension.”

On the reported suspension of Senator Kabir Marafa, Isa-Onilu said it was within the powers of the party executive at the ward level to discipline errant members.

He added, “It is within the power of the party executives at the ward level, if they have good reasons to initiate punitive measures against a member they have considered to have flouted the rules of the party.

“In this case, we don’t have all the facts at the NWC. They don’t really need to come as far as this level before they can take that decision.”   (Punch)

 

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Kwara Central: I Was Rigged Out , Says Saraki |The Republican News

Fred Itua, Abuja 

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has revealed how he lost his third term re-election bid to the chamber.

According to the Kwara Central senator, inadequacies, including Card Readers not used in over 70 per cent of his polling units, multiple voting, over-voting and other discrepancies, aided his defeat. 

He stated that in spite of the reported inadequacies that attended the presidential and National Assembly elections in Kwara State, he wishes the candidates who emerged from the election the best of luck.

Saraki, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that while the election was generally peaceful, he still had issues with the outcome.

He added that the state chapter of his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), will take a position on the right response to these inadequacies.

“However, whatever the final outcome of the election, I wish the candidates that have emerged all the best in their attempts to serve our people. It is my prayers that the good people of Kwara state will always have the best from any government both at state and federal levels.

“As a product of a family and a political structure that is, from its foundation, devoted to the service and development of our state and its people, it is my wish that our people will always have a good deal at all times. The new development will even provide the people the opportunity to compare and contrast. After all, the people who have emerged from last Saturday’s election are not my enemies. They are fellow Kwarans.

“As we prepare for the March 9, governorship and House of Assembly elections, let me reiterate my position that the candidates of the PDP in the election represent the best materials for our dear state, Kwara.

“Therefore, I enjoin our people to come out en mass on election day and vote for them. I am going to work with our party leaders to further sell the PDP candidates to the public.

“I thank all Nigerians for their goodwill and to enjoin all of us that as we patiently await the outcome of the Presidential election, we pray for peace, unity and genuine development in our country. It is also our prayers that, at all times, the wish of the people would always prevail in the choice of the leadership and the electorate will always enjoy the benefit of good governance,” Saraki stated.   (The Sun)

 

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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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Four Lawmakers, Four National Assembly Aspirants In Bauchi Dump APC |RN

               

Armstrong Bakam, Bauchi

 

Four members of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, including the Deputy Speaker, Abdulmumini Fanti, have dumped the All Progressives Congress for the Peoples Redemption Party.

Two senatorial and two House Representative aspirants also dumped the APC.

Member representing Bauchi Constituency, Mr. Abdullahi Shehu, disclosed this in an interview with journalists in Bauchi on Sunday evening.

Shehu claimed that he and his colleagues left the APC with over 300,000 of their supporters.

He said, “Three members of the Bauchi State House of Assembly and I have left the APC for good. The party’s injustice and mandate theft in the direct primaries conducted on October 7 are some of our reasons for dumping the party.

“Our people chose us to be candidates while the party leadership denied us the mandate. The next option for us is to opt out of the party.”

He listed other lawmakers who left the party with him to include Fanti, (Alkaleri Constituency); Ibrahim Katagum (Katagum Constituency); and Auwal Hassan, (Shira Constituency).

“Two aspirants who contested Bauchi South and Central senatorial tickets under the APC, Lawan Ibrahim and Bappah Misau, have also joined the PRP.

“Two ex-lawmakers (who are House of Representative aspirants), Abdulmumini Ningi and Dayyabu Chiroma have also defected to the PRP.

“We defected along with 300,000 supporters to the PRP to salvage the state from the APC,” he added.

The state Chairman of PRP, Alhaji Shehu Ningi, confirmed to journalists that the former APC members had joined the party after they were “cheated and denied tickets” in their former party.    (Punch)

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Buhari Will Fight To Have A Better Senate In 2019 – Remi Tinubu |The Republican News

                                                   Senator Remi Tinubu

Mudiaga Affe

 

The senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, Oluremi Tinubu, has expressed the belief that President Muhammadu Buhari will work hard to ensure that the nation has a better Senate in the 9th Assembly.

She said it was important for the President to do so in order to forestall a repeat of the present situation in which she said the upper chamber of the National Assembly was populated by some people who are frustrating Buhari’s efforts aimed at repositioning the country.

Tinubu spoke in Lagos on Saturday during a media luncheon where she unveiled her plans for the senatorial district for 2019-2023.

While responding to questions from journalists on the strained relationship between the legislative and executive arms of government, she said some members of the 8th Assembly were bent on frustrating Buhari’s programmes.

She said she was sure that Buhari would not want a repeat of what he witnessed with members of the present National Assembly.

She, therefore, urged Nigerians to re-elect Buhari for another term in order to complete his task.

Tinubu also called on Nigerians not to vote for the Peoples Democratic Party because the main opposition party was responsible for the hardships currently being experienced in the country.

She said Buhari would have learnt in his three and a half years in office that his inaugural statement that “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” was not exactly the way he thought.

She said, “I believe the President would have learnt a thing or two because when he came in, he said ‘I belong to everybody and belong to nobody.’ But I know by now that he knows those people that belong to him.

“What I am saying is not to take the President’s comment for granted, but now, I am sure he knows that some Nigerians are very dangerous to his decisions, even moving forward. The President should know those who are his own by now.

“It is a lesson to him and I know that he would fight to ensure that we have a better Senate in the 9th Assembly, not what we have now with a set of people who are frustrating his efforts. I do not think he would want to go through that route again.”

Tinubu said a term of four years was not enough for the President, hence the need for Nigerians to give the ruling All Progressives Congress another chance in 2019.

“Nigerians should give the APC another chance in 2019; four years is not enough for a President to complete his task, he is not a magician. We did not get to where we are overnight,” she said.

Speaking on her plan to return to the Senate, Tinubu said the leaders of her senatorial district convinced her to seek re-election.

“I am doing a third term because the leaders of my district asked me to contest. Beyond that, there is so much more to be done.

“I have shown through our quarterly town hall meetings that power belongs to and rests with the people. This third term is thus a chance to consolidate on previous achievements.

“To ensure that the third term is even more productive, we have set out to focus more on empowering our youths and finding ways to make them self-reliant.

“Through our quarterly town hall meetings, 27 in the series, I have been able to bond more effectively with our constituents,” she added.   (Punch)

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