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Ex-NBA President, Akpata, Distances Self From Abure’s Arrest

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Former National Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and frontline governorship aspirant of Labour Party (LP), for the September 21st gubernatorial election in Edo, Olumide Akpata, on Thursday, denied involvement in the arrest of the party’s National Chairman, Julius Abure and five others in Benin City on Wednesday.

In a statement issued in Benin City, and endorsed by the LP gubernatorial hopeful, Akpata slammed another aspirant of the party for making reckless unfounded comments linking him with Abure’s arrest, describing Imansuangbon’s allegations as false and irresponsible.

“I have been made aware of reckless and unfounded comments made by Mr Kenneth Imasuagbon in the press yesterday, February 21, 2024, where he accused me of being behind the recent arrest and detention of Comrade Julius Abure, National Chairman of the Labour Party, Comrade Kelly Ogbaloi, Edo State Chairman of the Labour Party, and other party officials by the Nigeria Police Force.

“Let me categorically state that these allegations made by Mr Imasuagbon, who claims to be a lawyer and should therefore know better, are completely false and, frankly, very irresponsible. I had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in the arrests he referred to.

“As we have been told by the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Police Force Zone 5 Zonal Headquarters, the arrests stemmed from an entirely separate incident that occurred in Benin City on December 29, 2023, where one Comrade Anselm Eragbe, a former National Youth Leader of the Labour Party, was allegedly assaulted.

“Comrade Eragbe thereafter submitted a petition on the attack, accusing the arrested officials of orchestrating the incident. It was this petition that prompted a police investigation and subsequent arrests.

“I must make it clear that I have no connection at all to this unfortunate matter, beyond also being falsely accused on national television on December 29, 2023, of being responsible for the incident involving Comrade Eragbe.

“As someone falsely implicated in this matter, I have a strong interest in the outcome of the police investigation in order to clear my name fully”, Akpata said.

The LP governorship aspirant expressed concern over the arrest of the party’s National Chairman and other party officials barely 48 hours to the party’s governorship primary election in Edo State, just as he expressed worry over the delay of the release of the party’s delegates’ list of the ward congresses conducted last Tuesday.

“Given the timing of the arrests just 48 hours before the Labour Party primaries scheduled for February 23, 2024, the last possible day for political parties intending to field candidates in the September 21, 2024, Edo State Gubernatorial elections to conduct primaries, it raises some very serious concerns. It is imperative that the party be able to conduct free, fair, and smooth primaries as planned on Friday, February 23, 2024.

“I strongly urge the party leadership to explore all lawful options as provided by the party’s constitution to ensure the activities and operations of the Labour Party continue without obstruction. The party must urgently release the final delegate list from the ward congresses of Tuesday, February 20, 2024, which were monitored by INEC.

“It is worrying that we still do not have full delegate information more than 24 hours after the congress. I want to use this opportunity to caution Mr Kenneth Imasuagbon to cease his campaign of falsehoods and calumny against me, which he renewed with vigour on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 and has continued with his latest unwarranted attacks, where he attempted to link me to the party leadership’s arrest. Mr Imasuagbon is clearly intimidated by my aspiration and has resorted to spreading lies in a desperate bid to derail my campaign. I can no longer allow his disgraceful smear tactics to go unanswered.

“He should be ashamed for tarnishing my good name without justification. If Mr. Imasuagbon does not immediately stop his dishonourable attacks against me, I will not hesitate to pursue legal action to protect my reputation against his baseless claims.

“The time has come for him to face consequences for his deceitful conduct.

“In closing, I sincerely hope the detained officials secure and are allowed access to proper legal counsel, as is their constitutional right, and that this unfortunate matter is resolved quickly.

“However, I implore that the internal issues of the party must not hamper our preparations for the crucial primaries, as we have no wiggle room for error. I remain committed to the principles and values of the Labour Party and call for unity behind our shared vision,” Akpata stated.

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Just in: Ganduje to know fate on suit seeking his removal as APC chairman, June 26

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja says it will hear the suit seeking to sack Abdullahi Ganduje as the national chairman of the all Progressives Congress (APC) on June 26, 2024.

Ruling on the matter on Thursday, June 13, Justice Inyang Ekwo said the court would also decide on the objection raised against the competence of the suit.

Justice Ekwo said the ruling is sequel to a request by Benjamin Favour, the lawyer to the plaintiff —the North Central APC Forum — which seeking to be allowed time to reply to the responses filed by Ganduje.

The Forum, led by Saleh Zazzaga, is querying the propriety of Ganduje’s appointment as the chairman of the APC when he is not from the north-central geo-political zone.

Listed as defendants in the case are Ganduje, the APC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

At the mention of the case on Thursday, Davou said although the suit was slated for hearing, it would not be possible because Ganduje’s lawyer, Raymond Asikeni just served him the notice of preliminary objection and counter affidavit filed by the first defendant.

Davou promised to file his reply to the two sets of documents files by Ganduje first thing on Wednesday after the public holiday.

Justice Ekwo then adjourned till June 26 for hearing, adding: “On the date of hearing, the preliminary objection will be taken together with the substantive suit.”

“The processes of any party that is absent from court shall be deemed as adopted,” the judge said.

The plaintiff, in the main suit, wants the court to, among others, restrain Ganduje from further parading himself as the chairman of the APC.

It also wants the court to issue an order directing INEC not to accord recognition to all actions taken by the APC, including congresses, primaries, and nominations, since Ganduje became APC Chairman on August 3, 2023.

The plaintiff is contending among others, that Ganduje is occupying the office of the APC Chairman illegally, not being from a state in the north-central geo-political zone.

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Akpabio denies teaming up with El-Rufai for 2027 presidency

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The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, on Wednesday, described as mischievous campaign posters in circulation suggesting a political alliance between himself and former Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, for the 2027 presidential election.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Eseme Eyiboh, Akpabio described the campaign posters as “the handiwork of mischief makers.”

“Senator Godswill Akpabio does not have any intention to contest for president in 2027 nor is he nursing any ambition of a joint presidential ticket with Mallam Nasir El-Rufai or any other person by whatever name,” Eyiboh said.

Describing the posters as “spurious and mischievous,” Eyiboh said Akpabio was focused on his role as the Senate President, supporting President Bola Tinubu in resetting Nigeria and restoring the nation’s pride on the global stage.

“Since assuming office on June 13, 2023, Akpabio has been dedicated to providing the necessary legislative support to the Tinubu administration and has not contemplated running for President at any point.

“It is embarrassing for anyone to link the person of Senate President Godswill Akpabio to an insipid presidential ambition, when a competent, trusted, and tested leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, is in the driving seat, effectively navigating the contours of purposeful leadership and adept governance with his Renewed Hope Agenda,” Eyiboh said.

He urged Nigerians to disregard the posters “as attempts to distract from the significant and positive interventions being made by the Senate under Akpabio’s leadership.”

The statement also called on security agencies to investigate and identify those behind this “ugly enterprise.”

El-Rufai is currently facing an allegation of N423bn theft allegation levelled against him by the Kaduna State House of Assembly.

Though shortlisted by President Bola Tinubu for ministerial appointment, the National Assembly declined to confirm him, citing unfavourable security reports.

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Aregbesola forms new political group after alleged expulsion from APC

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Former Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has reportedly launched a new political group named, ‘Omoluabi Progressives’.

According to The Will, Aregbesola also began the group’s membership registration at his ward last weekend.

The former Minister of Interior floated the political group shortly after his alleged expulsion from the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osun State by the party’s top chieftains.

The APC in Osun State said that Aregbesola is not a member of the party.

The party in a communique signed by State Chairman Tajudeen Lawal, while officially informing party leadership about the upcoming electronic party membership registration as directed by the national secretariat, warned members against registering with Aregbesola’s group as it is not recognised as part of APC in Osun state.

The communique added that as far as the APC was concerned in Osun State, Aregbesola is no longer a member of the party.

It accused Aregbesola of causing distractions within the party’s affairs in the state and that it had notified the national secretariat, at least thrice, to take appropriate actions since it was unable to tame him at the state level.

Prominent members of Southwest All Progressives Congress (APC) were also absent at Aregbesola’s 67th birthday.

There have been rumours that the ‘Omoluabi Progressives’ is allegedly a prelude to a new political machinery Aregbesola will use to determine who becomes the next governor of Osun.

Meanwhile Aregbesola has not yet publicly denounced his membership of the APC.

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