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Abuja Court Ruling: Tinubu, Ekiti Gov-Elect, Other APC Candidates Risk Disqualification

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THERE is growing concern in the All Progressives Congress over the judgement of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja which nullified the nomination of Governor Isiaka Oyetola and his deputy governorship candidate, Benedict Alabi, for the 2022 Osun State governorship election.

Ruling on a suit filed by the People’s Democratic Party challenging the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi, Justice Emeka Nwite agreed with the submission of the PDP on the grounds that Governor Mai Mala Buni who submitted their names to INEC violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

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The court declared that Governor Mai Mala Buni acted in contravention of the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution when he held dual executive positions as the Governor of Yobe State and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of APC.

The provisions of Section 183 read in part: “The Governor, shall not, during the period he holds office, holds any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”

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While the legal representatives of Osun State governor had promised to appeal the ruling, its implication, Sunday Tribune learnt, is already causing panic in the ruling party.

According to legal opinions on the issue, the ruling in its current subsisting nature, means that all actions of Buni while in office as APC acting boss, stand invalidated.

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These actions, include the signing of the nomination of Ekiti governor-elect Abiodun Oyebanji, as APC candidate for the June 18, 2022 poll in the state, the nominations of candidates for other outlier legislative polls, as well as the conduct of the party’s elective national convention which gave birth to the current NWC, among others.

The biggest threat posed by the ruling to APC, is the possible consequential disqualification of all its candidates for the 2023 poll, including the presidential ticket of Senator Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, considering that Adamu’s NWC, conducted the primaries.

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Once the NWC is invalidated by the reason of Buni’s involvement, all actions of the NWC, would be deemed null and void.

Reacting to the unfolding legal drama, constitutional lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo, said “It is a plague that could have been avoided if only they took my position on Governor Buni’s chairmanship misadventures serious. But the judgement has vindicated me.”

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In an earlier statement, dated July 31, 2021, he warned that the party could come to greater grief if Buni stayed, considering the subtle warning in the favourable majority decision.

On Saturday, Ajulo referenced the statement which read in part; “Without prejudice to the ratio decidendi of the majority decision of the Court, it is imperative to state pressistimo and very clearly too that with the unanimous position of the Apex Court that it appears the actions of the APC in permitting a sitting Governor as the Interim Chairman of the Party is in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is my sincere view that the Interim Chairman of the APC should immediately step down. My humble but cosmic review of the judgment comes with an indication that the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni has to vacate his seat, as the Chairman of APC with immediate effect.”

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Breaking down the implication of the Friday ruling, he said if the apex court goes with the decision of the high court, the current National Executive of the party, will have to go.

“If the Supreme Court upheld the judgment, the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, and other APC candidates for every elective position will have no business in participating in the 2023 General Election.

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“Can one put something on nothing and expect it to stand? Unless some strategic steps are quickly taken, invalidation of the party’s executives and candidates across all levels will be a great disaster to the APC and could mark its total collapse. This development is a stern warning to politicians to henceforth have regards for law and reasoned thoughts,” he reasoned.

But the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Felix Morka, a lawyer, dismissed the fears being expressed as misplaced.

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Speaking with Sunday Tribune in an interview, Morka expressed confidence that the judgment of the High Court would be set aside by the Court of Appeal.

He maintained that Justice Nwite erred in his pronouncement.

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He said:” The judgment of the Court is unsupportable. We are confident that the Court of Appeal will upturn the judgment.

“It isn’t supportable by fact of law. What the Governor Buni Caretaker did was ratified by Convention, which is the highest organ of the Party. The Court didn’t avert itself to the fact of the matter.

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“So, there is nothing to worry about. That decision will be challenged and we are confident that the Court of Appeal will upturn it.”

In the Friday ruling, the court, headed by Justice Emeka Nwite, sided with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which initiated the suit, primarily to disqualify Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, as the candidate of the ruling party in the July 16, 2022 governorship election in the state, eventually won PDP’s candidate, Ademola Adeleke.

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But the suit, commenced on April 7, 2022 may be doing a more significant damage to the fortunes of the ruling party, across board, with the trial judge upholding the argument that all Buni’s actions in office as the party’s acting chair, were null and void.

The party chair, alongside the national secretary, by the dictates of the election laws, signs the nomination of every candidate of the party, before such could be deemed valid, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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With Justice Nwite ruling that Buni, being governor, should not have held another executive position as the acting chair of the party for two years less 25 days.

It will be recalled that Buni, the sitting governor of Yobe State, was sworn in as the acting chairman of the party by the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, following the controversial ouster of an elected National Working Committee, chaired by former Edo governor, Adams Oshiomhole, by President Muhammadu Buhari-inspired National Executive Council.

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Justice Nwite’s ruling, however, appears in dissonance with the majority decision of the Supreme Court in the appeal arising from Ondo governorship election of October 9, 2020, won by the incumbent Rotimi Akeredolu of APC.

In a razor-thin split decision which favoured him, the apex court held that the conduct of the primary election and nomination of candidates, is an internal affair of a political party, which the judiciary can’t scrutinise.

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The majority decision went further in resolving the appeal brought by Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP that even when a political party is in error of its rules, its internal activities can’t still be challenged. The minority report how- ever ruled that Buni’s acting headship of the ruling party, was an incurable constitutional error, which invalidated Akeredolu’s nomination as the party’s candidate, because it was signed and passed to INEC by Buni.

The minority decision of three justices, out of the seven that heard the appeal, had invalidated Akeredolu’s election victory, because of Buni. While the majority decision didn’t go fully into the con- stitutionality of Buni holding two executive positions at the same time, it ruled that not joining the governor as a necessary party, to argue his case directly, weighed in his favour and by extension, Akeredolu’s.

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The judgement was given on July 28, 2021. Immediately the judgement was delivered, some top party leaders asked Buni to step down, including Minister of State, Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo. Buni, aided by his legal team, heavily backed by the deputy senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege, spurned the call.

Keyamo now speaks for Tinubu’s presidential campaign, while serving as minister. Possibly taking its cue from the stance of the majority ruling, PDP, this time, joined Buni as a necessary party in the suit, which was filed almost nine months after Akeredolu’s narrow judicial escape.

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Buni, being joined as a necessary party, must have also emboldened Justice Nwite to go into the merit of the suit, despite the subsisting Supreme Court precedent.

With the appeal arising from the all-important suit expected to advance to the apex court, an opportunity would finally be presented to Buni, to defend himself, and the final court to decide whether he violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, by accepting the acting appointment while serving as governor.

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Atiku to Oshiomhole: Where’s your imported Wife

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The Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organization apparently peeved by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole outbursts against their flag bearer asked after his imported wife.

Lara Fortes a white lady who married Oshiomhole in 2015 has not been seen around for years around him fueling rumours on the state of the marriage.

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The issue came to fore on Thursday after Oshiomhole in a television interview on on a national tv accused Atiku Abubakar of failing the simple test of being a unifier alleging that the PDP presidential candidate is a serial divorcee.

Oshiomhole, who is Deputy Director-General of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Organization, had, in the interview, labeled Atiku as ‘serial betrayer’ and a ‘serial divorcee,’ unfit to unify Nigeria.

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He said, “You (Atiku) can’t manage your household, you are a serial divorcee and you want to preach unity and family to me?”

Reacting, the Atiku Camp in a statement said:

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“Moreover, Oshiomhole is not in any position to preach about matrimonial competence and sanctimony as he has not explained the whereabouts of his imported foreign wife to Nigerians.

“It is important for Oshiomhole to note that Nigerians have moved beyond Tinubu as they have already attained consensus across the political, ethnic and religious divides to vote in Atiku Abubakar as a pan-Nigerian and unifier that will rescue our nation from the shambolic rule of the divisive, insensitive and corrupt APC.

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“Of course, Nigerian have come to a consensus that our nation needs a visionary leader, like Atiku Abubakar and certainly not a bat with its inadequacies, specie inconsistencies and aversion to light.”

The Atiku’s team said, “…This can only explain why the former APC National Chairman, who was disgraced out of office, continues as a chattering roller coaster and a musical chair politician, who specializes in making unfounded comments and inventing fictitious claims against others just to draw undue attention to himself.

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“Nigerians expect Adams Oshiomhole to note that the presidential campaign addresses serious issues and is not a platform for throwing tantrums and irresponsible commentaries.

“In any case, Nigerians will not be surprised to see Adams Oshiomhole turning around at Atiku Abubakar’s inevitable victory and inauguration on May 29, 2023, to condemn Asiwaju Tinubu and declare his current unsavory comments against Atiku Abubakar as mere political statements.

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“If Oshiomhole has honour or means well for this nation, he ought to have resigned as Deputy Director General of Asiwaju/Shettima Presidential Campaign after series of shameful revelations of reported allegations touching on the integrity of the APC Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“Our campaign holds that contrary to the garments of unity which Oshiomhole is forcing on Tinubu, the Presidential Candidate of the APC lacks antecedents that will showcase him as a believer in a truly united and indivisible Nigeria.”

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Airtel, UNICEF Launch Partnership to Connect Over 300,000 students to Digital Learning in Nigeria

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By Gloria Ikibah

Airtel is partnering with UNICEF under the Reimagine Education Initiative and will be connecting 620 primary schools in Nigeria to digital learning in the coming three months. This partnership is expected to benefit 300,000 students across the country with access to the internet and devices.

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According to UNICEF, “In the first year of the five-year partnership, Airtel and UNICEF will provide all the resources for digital learning to the 620 identified schools including reliable broadband connectivity and free access to a world class curriculum through the Nigeria Learning Passport (NLP)”.

Naijablitznews.com reports that NLP, developed by the Federal Ministry of Education, UNICEF, and Microsoft, is an e-learning platform with online and offline capability that enables continuous access to quality education.

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Airtel’s support will benefit students with uninterrupted access to quality learning materials. Airtel is also providing free access for any Airtel subscriber to Youth Agency Market Place (YOMA), a UNICEF digital platform for skilling, upskilling and encouraging young people’s engagement. Currently YOMA has 115,000 users in Nigeria. This number is expected to grow with Airtel support, especially for young people living in hard-to-reach areas with no to low access to data or connectivity.

In an MOU signing ceremony to flag-off the initiative today in Lagos, Airtel said “it has completed the process of providing free access to the two digital platforms for the targeted beneficiaries. Airtel has committed US$1.3m worth of complimentary data for the two platforms and data provision for learners in the first year alone”.

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Twenty schools in Lagos and Kano will be connected in December 2022, while the connection of the remaining 600 schools will be concluded before the end of February 2023.

Speaking at the launch, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel in Nigeria, Surendran Chemmenkotil, said, “Education, especially digital learning, forms a significant part of the company’s sustainability agenda for Nigeria and it will stop at nothing to bridge the huge digital gap that currently exists in mostly rural primary schools across the country.

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“With this programme and partnership, we are providing both world class education and digital inclusion for thousands of underprivileged children and our goal is to connect, empower and transform as many children and young people as possible. Education is power, and connectivity provides the leverage to become unstoppable. At Airtel, we are confident that this investment will not just transform lives but will create a wonderful future for millions of Nigerian children and young people”.

UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate said, “This is an important milestone and a step closer in reducing the digital divide in Nigeria. Quality digital learning is the fastest route to improving learning and equipping children and young people with the 21st century skills needed to fulfil their potential and to live their dreams. We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares UNICEF’s vision and will help in driving the process to scale-up access to digital learning for children and young people across these schools.”

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The Re-imagine education project is a five-year partnership between Airtel and UNICEF to help accelerate the roll-out of digital learning by connecting schools to the internet and ensuring free access to learning platforms across 13 countries. By providing equal access to quality digital learning, particularly for the most vulnerable children, the partnership will help to ensure that every child reaches his/her full potential.

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ECOWAS Ministers Hold 89th Ordinary Session to tackle Challenges Of The Region

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By Gloria Ikibah

The 89th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers have commenced in Abuja on Thursday, to discuss the mirage of issues confronting the sub-regions to come up with recommendations to be presented ECOWAS Heads of States.

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Chair of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and Guinea Bissau’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Suzi Barbosa, said that the sub-region have been troubled by human and food insecurity, and incessant coup d’états, climate change and other issues.

Naijablitznews.com reports that the session will focus on strengthening governance and political stability in the sub-region, address food insecurity, terrorism and extremism among other challenges.

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The two-day session of the Council of ECOWAS Ministers seeks to come up with viable solutions which would be presented to the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of States and Government.

Barbosa said: “Similar to what has happened in other parts of the globe, the economies of the countries of our regional community have witnessed the regressive effects of the covid19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine-Rissia.

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“Through food crisis and scarcity of other products that constitute essential goods for our populations.

“Furthermore, our sub-region has been troubled by human insecurity and violent extremism, and more recently by new waves of coups d’état, guided by uncertain compromises.

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“Which represents elements of fragility of some Member States in implementing mechanisms that guarantee the sustainability of the values ​​of democracy and good governance.

“As a consequence, we are witnessing increasing situations of human poverty and vulnerabilities such as climate change, irregular rainfall, waves of internal displacement, forced migration, communities kidnapped by armed bandits, among others.

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“In response to the challenges for better economic cooperation and regional integration, several initiatives have been put into practice at the level of each member state, but also at the level of ECOWAS institutions, coordinated by the Commission.

“I Would you like to highlight the importance of 89th Session of the Council of Ministers, which coincides with an important moment for the implementation of reforms that can guarantee efficient functioning and the effective use of the scarce resources available.

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“In this way, we are invited to look at various projects, through various presentations of reports, and to assume the responsibility of agreeing on them the necessary guidelines in favor of the challenges we face.

“From the financial situation and fulfilment of our obligations through managing our resources and implementing infrastructure projects that catalyze economic growth and consequent human development.

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For Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, the Ordinary session of the Council of Ministers remains a veritable platform for reviewing the programmes of ECOWAS and brainstorming on, thematic issues of the region.

Dada said that the Session also creates a platform for providing substantive advice to our Heads of State and Government on the best way to advance our collective aspiration of an ECOWAS of the people.

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“Indeed, this year’s agenda is robust, which is a testament to the commitment of ECOWAS Institutions and Member States to the integration and developmental goals of our sub-region.

“At this August gathering, we will consider like we did in the past, several issues affecting critical areas of the Community through reports and memoranda on our agenda.

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“As an assembly of stakeholders with a collective responsibility of deciding on matters relating to integration and development in our region.

“It behoves on us to discuss all items on our agenda with open mind in order to find solutions to the numerous challenges threatening our region,” he asserted.

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President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray said that the new management of the ECOWAS Commission is committed to delivering institutional reforms, restoring constitutional rule to Mali, Guinea and Burkina-Faso and progrmammes that will impact on West-African Citizens.

“Our management team assumed duty within a context of institutional reforms and important developments in the region and the world.

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“The size of the Commission has been reduced as part of the institutional reforms, but the work of realigning the new structures and improving the processes and procedures of the Organisation is just starting.

“With this also is the task of ensuring that the programmes and projects of ECOWAS are redesigned to ensure higher impact on the lives of the Community citizens and also foster close cooperation among member states and economic integration of the sub region.

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“While working on repositioning our Community institutions, we also have the task of continuing with efforts to restore constitutionalism in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea and to halt the reversals of democracy in the region through instituting a stronger regime against all forms of anti-constitutional changes of government.

“On the other hand, we have terrorism and violent extremism that persists in our region and threaten to spread from the Sahel to the coastal states.

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“In this regard, ECOWAS is required to pool together different initiatives in the sub region and coordinate the effective implementation of its regional action plan against terrorism,” Touray said.

Naijaitznews.com reports that statutory appointees of ECOWAS Institutions; the new management of the ECOWAS Commission, Heads of ECOWAS institutions also took their oath of office before the Judge of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.

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