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Nigerian election: FG reveals alleged plan by PDP to cause crisis before presidential poll

The Nigerian Government on Tuesday raised fresh alarm of alleged plot by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to “orchestrate crisis and trigger a sense of panic among the populace,” ahead of the forthcoming elections.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed claimed that the plot was aimed at discrediting the forthcoming election and causing a constitutional crisis.

In a statement issued in Abuja, Mohammed said the plot confirms the alarm raised by the Federal Government on January 21st and February 3rd 2019 that the “PDP was planning to scuttle the election and, where that fails, discredit it.”

Mohammed said in the days ahead, PDP bigwigs, including its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, his running mate, Peter Obi and PDP Governors are “planning a world press conference in order to level frivolous and unfounded allegations against the federal government and the All Progressives Congress (APC).”

Mohammed said part of the “false allegations they plan to make was the Presidency was planning to force the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to announce presidential election results that are favourable to the government in power, on the basis of the false premise that the APC’s intelligence team is worried that the ruling party would lose the elections.”

The Minister claimed that PDP bigwigs also plan to use their world press conference to further disparage the Buhari Administration as well as the ruling APC, with a view to painting an unfavourable image of both Ngerians and the international community and to put the government on the defensive in the run-up to the polls.

He said the PDP’s last joker was a two-hour live press conference to be addressed by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, on February 14, the last day of electioneering campaign, to chronicle all their concocted allegations and lies against the ruling government, cast aspersion on government and ruling party officials and throw innuendos here and there.

The statement reads: ”As electioneering campaign winds down, the PDP has realized that it cannot possibly win a free, fair and credible poll. It has thus resorted to engaging in red herring, hauling insults and abuses at the federal government and ruling party officials and making outlandish allegations with a view to creating a sense of panic and crisis.

”The truth is that President Muhammadu Buhari, a man respected globally for his integrity, has continuously assured that the elections will be free, fair, credible and peaceful. He has warmly welcomed observers, both local and foreign., because he has nothing to hide, and because he is sure that the achievements of his Administration will win him re-election.

”We are therefore calling on all Nigerians and the international community to disregard any attempt to scuttle or discredit the polls. We urge observers to keep an open mind. There is no cause for alarm, except in the warped imagination of the PDP, which has entered the panic mode and is already ruing the loss of another general election even before it has been held.”

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NAF deploys aircraft, military equipment, personnel in Abuja

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it will deploy aircraft, military equipment and personnel in Abuja during rehearsals for its 55th anniversary celebration.

NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, who announced this in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, said the rehearsals would hold between April 22 and April 30.

“The Nigerian Air Force will be celebrating its 55th Anniversary between April 27 and 29 in Abuja.

“As part of activities to mark the event, the NAF will be showcasing its air power capabilities in an Order of Battle (ORBAT) fly past,” he said.

Daramola urged members of the public to go about their normal activities without panic or fear during the activities.

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Court sacks Senator Ogbuorji, orders him to refund salaries, allowances collected after defection

The Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki yesterday sacked the deputy chairman senate committee on appropriation, Senator Sunny Ogbuorji representing Ebonyi South Senatorial District and ordered him to vacate the seat immediately.

The Court, in a decision delivered by Justice Akintola Aluko, held that Ogbuoji by defecting from the party under whose platform he was elected to another party flouted section 68(1)g of the 1999 constitution.

The Court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to withdraw the certificate of return issued to the Senator immediately and to conduct a fresh election immediately to fill the seat.

The court also ordered the lawmaker to refund all monies be it salaries, allowances or any order form of payment he may have received as benefits from the position of Senator from the date of his defection to the coffers of government.

The said section 68(1)g says that “a member of Senate or House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House if being a person whose election to the house was sponsored by another political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that house was elected. Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored”.

In other words, any lawmaker who defects to another political party when the party under whose platform he was elected was not undergoing any form of crisis or was not part of a merger with two or more political parties, should vacate his seat.

Justice Aluko in the 71 page judgement obtained by DAILY POST held that Ogbuoji who defected from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2018 flouted the above section of the constitution.

The judgement was in respect of suit number FHC/AI/CS/44/2018 filed by Evo Ogbonnaya Anegu, Oti Ama Ude, Uche Richard Ajali, Una Sunday Okoro and Simon Ajali Ogbadu for themselves and on behalf of the teaming members of the PDP in Ebonyi South Senatorial District.

They had sued Mr Ogbuoji and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC(2nd Defendant) asking the court to declare Mr Ogbuoji’s seat vacant for defecting to the APC when there was no crisis or division in the PDP.

They also prayed the court to order the 1st defendant (Ogbuoji) to refund all monies that may have been paid to him since January 2018 when he defected from the PDP to the APC.

The plaintiffs in their postulations through their counsel, Barr Roy Umahi expressed worry that Ogbuoji’s conduct if not condemned and upturned would encourage political prostitution and legislative rascality and destroy the reasons for the laws made to regulate defections of National Assembly members by the constitution.

But Ogbuoji, in his defence, claimed that he resigned his membership of the PDP and defected to the APC on January 27, 2017 and not January 2018 as claimed by the Applicants.

He noted that the crisis in the party was finally resolved in July 2017 by the Supreme Court but that before then he had resigned his membership of the party via a letter of resignation he submitted to the PDP Secretary of his Ebunwana Ward, one Ukpo Regina Agwu, in January 27, 2017.

But the Plaintiffs countered by providing evidence that the said Regina Ukpo was not the Secretary of the Ward at the time the said letter was allegedly given to her as she had already been by expelled by the party on 23 January 2017.

They also argued with incontrovertible evidence that Ogbuoji who claimed to have defected from the PDP to APC in January 2017 took active participation in the non elective and elective congresses of the PDP which held on August and December 2017 as a delegate.

The Court, in its findings, said there were discrepancies in the evidences provided by Ogbuoji which rendered them unreliable and doubtful.

For example, the court noted that some of the documentary exhibits presented by the defence like signatures of Ukpo Regina Agwu, the erstwhile Ebunwana Ward Secretary, were found to be materially different in the various documents provided to the court .

“There is no basis to attach any probative or evidential value to the said exhibits

What that means is that the defendant’s claim of resignation ( on January 2017) is shrouded in inconsistency, contradiction and suspicion,” the judge said.

The Court agreed with the Plaintiff’s claims that most of the documents provided by the 1st Defendant were concocted for the purpose of the suit only.

The Court, in conclusion, said that it has been tremendously and sufficiently established by credible evidence that Ogbuoji defected to the APC in January 2018 and not January 2017 as he claimed in his defence.

It also said that at the time of his defection there was no division or faction in the PDP to warrant such defection as permitted by section 68 (1)g of the constitution.

“By the evidence before me, I find that the 1st defendant is guilty of unholy political flirtation and coquetry which the makers and drafters of the constitution resolved to outlaw by the enactment of section 68(1)g of the constitution,” Justice Aluko declared.

The Judge further held that having defected to another party when there was no crisis in his original party, Mr Ogbuoji ought to have vacated his seat.

Having failed to vacate his seat in the Senate following his unconstitutional defection in a manner that suggests that he ate his cake and still wanted to have it, he is liable to be forced out and made to refund to the National Assembly all monies in form of salaries, allowances, or whatsoever paid to him by virtue of his unconstitutional holding on to the position as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria beginning from the date of his unconstitutional defection till date,” he stated.

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Easter: Buhari felicitates with Christians, talks tough against kidnappings, killings

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday vowed that his administration will do all it takes to adequately equip and motivate security agents to deal with the menace of kidnapping, killings and violence in Nigeria.

Buhari issued the remark while felicitating with Christians ahead of the Easter celebration this weekend.

He urged Christians to emulate Jesus Christ and his virtues of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, humility, courage and endurance.

In his Easter message to Nigerians, Buhari expressed optimism that his administration would overcome terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.

The message personally signed by him, and forwarded to DAILY POST reads: “I rejoice with all Nigerians, especially our Christian brethren on the glorious occasion of the celebration of Easter 2019.

“Easter is the most important feast in the Christian calendar and represents God’s redemptive mission over humanity, the triumph of light over darkness, hope over despair and good over evil.

“The Christian festival commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ is also a time to emulate the virtues of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, humility, courage and endurance, which Christ embodied and remarkably demonstrated during His earthly ministry.

“Let us use this auspicious season to show love to our neighbours, and cater to the needs of the less-privileged in our midst.

“Our nation is currently gripped with gloom over unfortunate killings, kidnappings and violence, as seen in the recent tragic incidents in some states of the federation.

“This should not be. We must reinforce the bond of brotherhood and good neighbourliness that citizens of a cohesive country must share. We must not allow the few bad elements in our communities to put asunder our communal tendencies and chords of unity.

“I know from my regular interactions with security chiefs, state governors, victims and members of communities caught up in the unfortunate cycle of violence, that Nigerians are united against the evil minority.

“This administration will do all it takes to adequately equip and motivate our armed forces and other law enforcement agencies to enable them successfully confront these security challenges. We will not allow merchants of evil and death to overwhelm the nation. Under my watch, the nation will triumph over them – terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and the like.

“On this holy occasion, I enjoin all Nigerians to intensify prayers for peace and security to return to all parts of the country. I also urge you not to lose hope of a brighter and greater future for the country when we do the right things in love. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

“I do not take the import of my re-election for granted, especially the expectations of majority of Nigerians towards providing adequate security, fixing the economy and fighting corruption.

“The obligation of this administration as we prepare to take governance to the Next Level, is to continue to provide dedicated and honest leadership, where every citizen irrespective of religion or ethnic origin, feels secure to live, invest and prosper; where public office holders are accountable; and law breakers are brought to justice.

“Once more, I wish all our Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria and around the world celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a Happy Easter.”

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