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FG asks court to remove Onnoghen as CJN, NJC chairman

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The Federal Government has filed a motion before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, asking for the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen,  be removed as the CJN and the chairman of the National Judicial Council.

In a  motion  filed by Musa Ibrahim and Fatima Danjuma Ali on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation on Thursday.

The move, according to the government, is aimed at ensuring that Onnoghen is not a judge in his case and that the next in line of seniority, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, becomes the acting CJN pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The plaintiff asked the court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to name the next most senior judge as the acting CJN and chairman of the NJC.

The motion on notice was brought in pursuance of Section 6(6) Paragraph 11 (1) of the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

The Federal Government prayed the tribunal for an interlocutory order “directing the defendant/respondent to step aside as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and chairman of the National Judicial Council over an allegation of contravening the provision of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP C15 Laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004 pending the determination of the case.

“An interlocutory order of the honourable tribunal directing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to take all necessary measures to swear in the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court as an acting Chief Justice and chairman of the National Judicial Council in order to prevent a vacuum in the judicial arm of government pending the determination of the case.”

Born on December 31, 1953 at Doguwa – Giade, a local government area in Bauchi State, Justice Muhammad attended Ahmadu Bello University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Law in 1980.

He later obtained a master’s degree and doctorate from the same university in 1984 and 1998 respectively.

The fresh move against Onnoghen came after the National Industrial Court, Abuja, had on Monday restrained the Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, the AGF, the Code of Conduct Bureau and the police from removing Onnoghen.

 

This was pursuant to a motion ex-parte filed by a lawyer, Mr Peter Abang.

Opposition alleges move to arrest Onnoghen on Tuesday

Meanwhile, the opposition political parties on Friday claimed they had uncovered a plan by the Federal Government to arrest Onnoghen on Tuesday.

The first national spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties, Imo Ugochinyere, made the claim at a press conference in Abuja on Friday.

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Ugochinyere said the arrest would be carried out shortly after a bench warrant would have been issued by the CCT against Onnoghen.

He added that arrangements had been concluded to immediately name Justice Justice Ibrahim Muhammad as acting CJN.

He said Nigeria’s democracy was currently in danger.

“Members of the cabal in the Presidency have just concluded a meeting last night (Thursday) where they have now set the stage to burn down the institution of democracy and constitutional governance for the purpose of achieving a narrow aim of annexing the judiciary.

“Just a few hours after our release of the secret letter directing the freezing of the account of the CJN illegally without a court order, these men have at the end of their meeting last (Thursday) night directed the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, to disregard the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja which had directed the tribunal to maintain status quo.

“They have asked him to go ahead to issue a bench warrant on the next adjourned date being Tuesday, January 22 in the event the CJN does not appear in court. The meeting of the Presidency cabal also resolved and directed the new Acting Inspector-General of Police that the immediate arrest of the CJN on the same Tuesday as effort will be made to ensure he is served with the order same day, following the issuance of the arrest warrant would be his litmus test for his speedy confirmation as the substantive Inspector-General,” he said.

Ugochinyere alleged that the meeting also resolved that a fresh petition against Onnoghen would immediately be forwarded to the National Judicial Council.

He said the strategy was to force the CJN out of office and pave the way for Justice Ibrahim Muhammad who is the deputy chairman of the NJC to take over and do all their bidding.

“Let it be known that unless and until the CJN is found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, he will not resign!” he said.

He claimed that some other Justices of the Supreme Court were also being targeted for persecution.

“They further resolved that another petition would now be forwarded to the National Judicial Council and that petition had already been drafted in the chambers of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

“This petition will precede the other frivolous and trumped-up allegations which will be submitted against Justice Mary Peter-Odili, Justice Cletus Nweze and Justice Rhodes Vivour just to scare them away and tarnish their good names,” Ugochinyere added.

He claimed that a minister, a state governor from the northern part of the country, another top government official and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, drafted the petition.

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He said President Muhammadu Buhari was aware of the development because it was resolved at the meeting that the minister and the state governor should brief him.

“They want to force him out at all cost and put an acting CJN whose bidding will include setting up appeal panels to resolve the Rivers and Zamfara APC crisis in favour of the APC and the other states where they fear they will lose elections.

 

“The states include Akwa Ibom, Delta, Lagos, Benue, Imo, Kwara, Plateau, Kaduna, Abia and Sokoto and also constitute a pro-Buhari post-presidential election tribunal. The CJN may not speak out because of the demands of his office, but we will not as the opposition, the bearers of the conscience and consciousness of the Nigerian people keep quiet and allow these felons to desecrate the Nigerian judiciary,” he said

He added, “The only way the CJN can leave office is by Section 292 of the Constitution or by a proper conviction and not by stepping aside from the NJC.  We are shouting it from the rooftops; let them put the CJN in handcuffs, let Danladi Umar in dancing to the tune of his APC blackmailers and issue arrest warrant, let the IG dance to the tune of the litmus test of arresting the CJN, let the APC-funded petition be brought to the NJC, Justice Onnoghen will not be forced out of office.”

Ugochinyere also alleged that there was also pressure on the members of the NJC and moves to conscript them to force the CJN out of office.

“Nigerians must rise now before this final bridge of the semblance of constitutional governance falls,” he added.

Wike’s allegations against me false – Amaechi

Meanwhile, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has described the allegations that he was plotting to destroy the judiciary as false and spurious.

Amaechi, who spoke on Friday through a statement from his media office, challenged Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to name the chieftain of the All Progressives Congress he (Wike) claimed he (Amaechi) spoke with on the alleged plan to bring down the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Amaechi maintained that he was not a judicial officer and could not be part of whatever was happening in the nation’s judiciary.

“This is another blatant lie just to smear Amaechi and put him on collision course with the judiciary. Ordinarily, we would not have bothered to respond to a governor whose stock-in-trade is to concoct stories and lie about almost everything and anything. The former Rivers State governor and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, is not a judicial officer and is not part of whatever is happening in the judiciary. We challenge Nyesom Wike to mention the name of the APC chieftain, he falsely alleged, Amaechi discussed the ‘destruction of the CJN’ with.”

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Wike had on Thursday alleged that Amaechi was behind the plot to destroy the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

My life is under threat, says Ex-Buhari aide

The Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption and Research- Based Data Initiative, Dennis Aghanya, has raised the alarm over threats to his life following his petition against Onnoghen for failing to declare five bank accounts with about $3m.

The former media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed this  on Friday that a number of people have asked him to disown the petition against the CJN for a huge amount of money.

He said those behind the threats were “the people who are telling Nigerians that the petition does not have merit.”

He declined to identify the people making the threats.

Aghanya said, “Since this petition came to light, they have been sending friends and families to me and at the same time issuing threats. They are giving me two options: If I don’t accept, I would go down six feet. If I mention the amount they are offering, it is something a hungry man would accept, something they cannot resist, big money,  as much as a billion naira.”

According to the activist, those faulting his action should instead encourage the CJN to defend himself at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

He stated that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, did the right thing by ensuring the prosecution of Onnoghen for concealing five domiciliary accounts in Standard Chartered Bank.

He dismissed arguments that the petition did not follow due process, noting that Nigerians should be concerned with the facts and evidences presented on the case “instead of leaving substance to chase shadow.”

 

Aghanya again denied that the petition against Onnoghen was politically-motivated, noting that many other investigations were also being carried out by ARDI against other government officials whom he declined to identify.

When asked if he feared for his life, Aghanya said, “I’m human, but then, it is God that gives life. Because I am a good Christian, I don’t feel bothered. If I were to be killed, do you know the kind of enemies I have had to contend with since I was born? The enemies would come, they would rise, do all sorts of things, but if God is with you, all those things would be in vain.”

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Ex-Oyo deputy gov, Arapaja emerges PDP vice chairman in South-West

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The former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Taofeek Arapaja, on Monday emerged the Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West.

Arapaja, who is backed by the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde , scored 343 votes to defeat the party’s ex- chairman in the zone, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, who garnered 330 votes.

Olafeso is the candidate of former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, who on Monday acknowledged Makinde as PDP leader in the zone.

 

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Why APC Will lose 2023 presidential election – Progressive Governors’ Forum DG

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The Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman, has advised the All Progressives Congress against having what he called “blind trust” in some of the leaders of the ruling party towards the 2023 general election.
Lukman warned that the APC may not be able to win the next presidential election or have its candidate to succeed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The DG of PGF, in a statement issued on Monday and titled ‘Determining Factors for 2023 Contests in APC: Internal Contest and Inconvenient Reality,’ recalled how the ruling party lost governorship election in some states in the 2019 general elections, which he attributed to sabotage by APC leaders in the affected states.
Lukman, therefore, called for regulation of party leaders’ activities, saying there is a need to ensure that “appropriate conditions exist to regulate the conduct of political leaders especially elected representatives.”
He said, “Given that APC has become the go-to party in Nigerian politics, the need to regulate the conduct of party leaders is paramount. Inability to develop the capacity to regulate the conducts of party leaders will be injurious to the vision of developing the APC as a truly progressive party.
“As much as it is a welcome development that the party is winning new members, there must be corresponding effort to regulate the conduct of party leaders, based on which efforts are made to provide new orientation to all party leaders, especially the newcomers.
“Beyond the need to regulate the conduct of political leaders, there is also the need to appeal to leaders of the party to rise above the narrow attitude of relating with challenges based on estimation of support or opposition for ambitions of party leaders.
“Once political leaders are able to estimate support for their ambitions, what follows is blind trust for both officials of the party and decisions they take even when such decisions are wrong and contravenes provisions of the party’s constitution.”
The DG of PGF pointed out that the immediate past National Working Committee of the APC led by Adams Oshiomhole between 2018 and June 2020 “was a classic case of how many party leaders overlooked the obstinacies of some actions of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC.”
He stressed, “Had all leaders of the party been able to insist that Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC convened meetings of organs of the party where the required decision to resolve issues could have been taken, perhaps even Comrade Oshiomhole himself would have still remained as the National Chairman of the party.
“Unfortunately, factors of blind trust by many party leaders which produced inconsiderate tolerance for wrong actions became the case. The truth is also that Comrade Oshiomhole and many members of the dissolved NWC became emboldened by the awareness of a divided APC leadership.
“So long as APC leaders are divided, the potential that elected officials who will emerge in the reconstituted NWC will take advantage of such divisions to manipulate internal processes and in some cases, members of the new NWC may also become part of the problem of the party, in the same way that Comrade Oshiomhole led NWC was, if not worse.”
According to Lukman, part of the requirement for the APC to be able to retain the electoral advantage of Buhari is that “factors of blind trusts in the party must be eliminated.”
He stated that “no matter the estimation of support or opposition of members of the new NWC to the ambitions of leaders, APC leaders must have very high moral credentials such that when the NWC erred, they are not beyond correction; or at least, they should not be allowed to be emboldened by any division in the rank of leadership of the party to block interventions by statutory organs of the party to resolve problems.”
The DG of PGF added, “Similarly, members of the party must not relate with ambitions of party leaders based on blind trust. Members should be able to speak out and critically engage party leaders.
“While there is no guarantee that critical positions of party members will not become the source of disqualification for consideration to appointive and elective positions, it is important that it is recognised that no matter what, it is better to be members of a party in power working to develop Nigeria than to be governed by any party whose mission is adversative to Nigeria’s development.
“The other related issue is that when all leaders of the party relate with elected representatives based on demands for appointive positions in whatever form, it also weakens the capacity of party leaders to influence the initiatives of elected representatives.
“Part of it also is that once leaders prioritise issues of securing appointments as the basis of relationship with elected representatives, rather than acting as sources of support for elected leaders, they become sources of distraction. This is dynamic, which played out in APC in 2015. Moving towards 2023, this needs to be rectified.”
According to Lukman, an “inconvenient reality” which every APC leader and member who is committed and working towards protecting the electoral viability of the party should be worried about is that the strongest opponent of the APC is within the APC.
He stated, “The truth is; other parties, especially the PDP, are shadow opposition whose electoral prospects are largely dependent on the outcome of internal contests in the APC, mainly because of the reckless and undisciplined conducts of some APC leaders.
“If anything, the lesson from the 2019 elections, which every APC leader and member should be reminded of is that APC was defeated in Rivers, Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa, Oyo and many other places by aggrieved APC leaders who worked against candidates or leaders of the party as a result of internal disagreements around candidate selections for governorship of these states.
“Such internal disagreement almost cost the party the loss of Imo State until the Supreme Court confirmed the victory of the APC. In Ogun, it was a traumatic victory. Kano State governorship election certainly had its baggage of painful experiences. Lagos State was a shocking narrow victory, no thanks to avoidable challenges. Rambo political contest led to the loss of Edo State in the 2020 governorship election.”
The DG of PGF also said APC leaders should also be reminded that it was “internal rancorous contest” that caused APC to lose the 2014 Ekiti governorship election. He added that a similar rancorous contest produced marginal victory for the APC in the Ekiti and Osun elections in 2018.
According to him, if the APC had face any of the challenges of the governorship elections in Rivers, Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa, Oyo, Ogun, Kano, Lagos, Edo, Ekiti and Osun during the 2019 presidential election, winning the election would have been impossible.
“If anything, absence of any problem during the internal contest for the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the party in December 2014 was a major source of electoral strength, which made the party to win elections in virtually all the states it won in 2019, as well as majority seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives,” he noted.
Lukman, who highlighted Buhari’s electoral performances since 2003, stated that the President’s popularity even before gaining power in 2015 had been a force to reckon with.
He said, “With such reality, it can be concluded, therefore, without any dispute, that the electoral advantage of the APC is more on account of the presence of President Buhari in the party. The question, which every APC leader and member needs to answer is; will the APC continue to enjoy such electoral advantage when President Buhari is not the Presidential candidate of the party? Is there another leader in the APC with the towering electoral profile of President Buhari?
“These are not easy questions to answer, although it can also be easily expected that every APC leader and member would want APC to continue to have all the electoral advantages associated with President Buhari. Whether there is another leader with the electoral profile of President Buhari, is yet to be seen, at least not based on any electoral evidence.
“Therefore, what can be done to ensure that the APC continues to have all the electoral advantages associated with President Buhari? Is it even possible for APC to continue to have the electoral advantages associated with President Buhari?”
According to PUNCH, the  DG of PGF stated that there is a very high potential that once appropriate organs of the APC are meeting and decisions are being taken in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution, processes of electing standard-bearers of the party for the 2023 elections would be acceptable. He added that party leaders would also accept the result of the election and support the winner.
According to Lukman, part of the reality of the situations in states, especially where APC lost elections as a result of poor management of internal processes, is that the operation of organs of the party requires a lot of improvements to guarantee transparency and fair participation of party members.
“Often, allegations of manipulations by party leaders, especially around internal processes of candidates’ emergence are the common issues,” he noted.

 

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Nigeria is in huge financial trouble’, Obaseki laments, says FG printed N60bn to share in March

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Obaseki wonders where the Federal Government would find money to share in Abuja when Shell is pulling out of Nigeria and Chevron investing in alternative fuel.

Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki. [Pulse]

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has decried the state of Nigeria’s economy, saying the Federal Government had to print N60bn in March to support federal allocation to states.

The governor expressed worry on the rising debts of the country, saying Nigeria is in ‘huge financial trouble.’

When we got FAAC for March, the federal government printed additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share”

“This April, we will go to Abuja and share.

By the end of this year, our total borrowings are going to be within N15-N16 trillion”, he said.
The governor, who condemned the country’s over-dependence on crude oil lamented that Nigeria’s economy has changed, adding that the current price of crude oil is only a mirage.
Oaseki said, “Nigeria has changed. The economy of Nigeria is not the same again, whether we like it or not. Since the civil war, we have been managing, saying money is not our problem as long as we are pumping crude oil everyday.
“So we have run a very strange economy and strange presidential system where the local, state and federal governments, at the end of the month, go and earn salaries. We are the only country in the world that does that.
“Everywhere else, the government relies on the people to produce taxes and that is what they use to run the local government, state and the federation.

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“But with the way we run Nigeria, the country can go to sleep. At the end of the month, we just go to Abuja, collect money and we come back to spend. We are in trouble, huge financial trouble.
“The current price of crude oil is only a mirage. The major oil companies who are the ones producing are no longer investing much in oil.
The governor wondered where the Federal Government would find money to share in Abuja when Shell is pulling out of Nigeria and Chevron investing in alternative fuel.

 

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