On Impeachments And Defections By Femi Falana

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Introduction

The crisis of misgovernance in the country has been accentuated by the official impunity of members of the ruling class.

Hence, the executive is justifying disobedience of court orders while legislators regularly suspend their colleagues and carry out impeachment of Governors outside the ambit of the Constitution. Even though it has been decided by the Court of Appeal that a legislative house lacks the power to suspend a legislator both chambers of the national assembly and state legislative houses have continued to suspend members who disagree with their colleagues. And contrary to several decisions wherein the Supreme Court has meticulously outlined the procedure for impeaching governors by not less than two thirds majority of the members, 8 out of 30 members of the Benue State House of Assembly are said to have concluded plans to impeach Governor Samuel Ortom.

Instead of calling out the members of the APC involved in the charade, President Buhari has washed off his hands like Pontius Pilate. Since the recent defection of a number of legislators from the APC, the ruling party has generated some controversy. It is pertinent to examine relevant provision of the Constitution and decided judicial authorities on the matter.

Impunity of Legislators

By virtue of sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution which guarantee the fundamental rights of expression, conscience and opinions as well as freedom of association every citizens is entitled to to hold political opinions and belong to political associations and change such opinions and association at any time. But such freedom is circumscribed in the case of elected legislators.
Although cross carpeting by legislators was common in the first republic, it has been prohibited by the 1999 Constitution. Thus, in Abegunde v Ondo State House of Assembly (2014) LPELR 23683 the appellant, a member of the House of Representatives had decamped from the Labour Party to Action Congress of Nigeria. In justifying his defection the appellant claimed that the Labour Party in Ondo State was factionalised.

Since the division of the Labour party was limited to Ondo state the supreme court held that it did not affect the party at the national level to justify the defection. It was therefore decided that the appellant had lost his seat in the House of Representatives. Relying on the case of Atiku Abubakar v Attorney General of the Federation (2007) 4 SC (part ii) 62 the supreme court held that it is only a division, factionalisation or fragmentation that can make it impossible or impracticable for a party to function that can justify the defection of a legislator from one party to another, otherwise the defector automatically loses his seat.

From the clear and unambiguous pronouncements of the apex court, a division in a political party envisaged by the Constitution cannot be a figment of the imagination of prospective defectors. The division must make it practically impossible for the party to function. In the instant case, the APC was not split to the extent that two parallel congresses were held leading to the emergence of two parallel sets of officers at the national, state and ward levels.

A recent example of the factionalisation or division of a political party was recently witnessed when the PDP broke into two factions led by former governors Sheriff and Makarfi until the faction led by the latter was recognized by the Supreme Court. No doubt, the members of the R-APC were dissatisfied with the running of the affairs of the APC but they did not hold any parallel convention which would have produced elected officials of the aggrieved members. To that extent the defection of of the R-APC legislators from the APC to the PDP and ADC can be impugned under section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution.

However, since the APC had allowed legislators to decamp from the PDP to join its fold in the recent past the ruling party lacks the moral and political right to condemn the defection of the R-APC legislators. But the crass opportunism of the APC cannot legitimize the prostitution of the political system. Having decamped from the APC which sponsored their elections, the R-APC defectors ought to resign from the legislative houses and seek a fresh mandate from the electorate. In order to curb the dangerous trend some aggrieved members of the constituencies of the defectors ought to contest the legal validity of the refusal to resign from the affected legislative houses.

Legal Validity of Defection by Governors

However, the Constitution is silent on defection by the President and state governors from the political parties which sponsored their election. Hence, in Atiku Abubakar v Attorney General of the Federation (2007) 4 SC (Pt II) 62 the Supreme Court held that the defection of the appellant from PDP to the former Action Congress of Nigeria was not illegal and unconstitutional. On the basis of that judicial authority the decision of governors to dump the political parties which sponsored their elections was not challenged. I have therefore canvassed the argument that the defection of Governors Tambuwal, Ortom and Ahmed of Sokoto, Benue and Kwara states respectively from the APC to the PDP cannot be said to be illegal or unconstitutional.

It would be recalled that five governors had decamped from PDP to APC in 2014. While relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Atiku Abubakar v Attorney-General of the Federation (supra) I expressed the view then that the defection of the governors could not be successfully challenged by the PDP. In the same vein, i have opined that the defection or return of APC governors to PDP cannot be questioned by the APC. Since my view was limited to decamping governors in 2014, it is the height of intellectual dishonesty on the part of Dr. Doyin Okupe to accuse me of inconsistency. Whatever the agents of mischief may want to believe I have been as constant as the northern star as far as the interpretation of the Constitution is concerned.

Senate President can only be Removed by Two Thirds Majority of Senators

The planned removal of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki by the APC should be stopped as it cannot stand. The attention of APC legislators ought to be drawn to section 52 of the Constitution which provides that the President and Deputy Senate President can only be removed by the resolution supported by the votes of not less two thirds majority of the entirety of the members of the Senate.

Since the APC legislators cannot muster the required two thirds majority of the votes of the entire members, the plan to impeach Senator Saraki should be dropped forthwith. Again, the scenario playing out in the Senate is without precedent in our political history. When the accord of the National Party of Nigeria and Nigeria Peoples Party collapsed in the second republic, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Ume Ezeoke of the NPP, a minority party in the House was not forced to resign. The election of Honourable Aminu Tambuwa as Speaker was made possible by the alliance of PDP and ACN legislators and when he decamped from the PDP to APC, Honourable Tambuwa was not asked to step down from the office of the Speaker.

Therefore, the APC is estopped from demanding the resignation of Dr. Saraki as Senate President

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Manchester City Beat Chelsea To Win Community Shield

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Manchester City Beat Chelsea To Win Community Shield

Sergio Aguero spoiled Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri’s first taste of English football as the Argentine’s double gave Manchester City a stylish 2-0 victory in the Community Shield on Sunday.

Blues boss Sarri, hired to replace the sacked Antonio Conte last month, endured a miserable debut in the prestigious friendly at Wembley as lacklustre Chelsea were swept aside by Premier League champions City.

Picking up where they left off in their record-breaking campaign last term, Pep Guardiola’s team took an early lead through Aguero, who rewarded City’s dominance with a second goal after the break.

The last side to win the Community Shield and then go on to clinch the Premier League title were Manchester United in 2010-11.

On this evidence, City could follow in their arch rivals’ footsteps at the end of the season.

“It’s not easy to play after such a short time. It’s complicated for all of them but they are so competitive. My hat’s off to them,” Guardiola said of his team’s quick recovery after the World Cup.

“We couldn’t press enough because the players were absolutely exhausted. But in general we made a good performance. I didn’t expect that level of performance.”

While the Community Shield serves as the curtain raiser to the new season, City and FA Cup holders Chelsea have very different ambitions for the Premier League campaign, which kicks off on Friday.

City are favourites to defend the title and among the top Champions League contenders after becoming the first English top-flight team to secure 100 points last season.

In contrast, Chelsea are starting from scratch after chain-smoking former banker Sarri was hired from Napoli as an antidote to his antagonistic predecessor Conte.

But healing the wounds of Conte’s fractious two-year reign won’t be easy for Sarri, as this spluttering performance underlined.

Sarri and Guardiola are close friends and dined together on the eve of the Community Shield, yet this first experience of Chelsea’s reduced status left a nasty taste for the Italian.

“Today we were not in control of the match. We have a long way to go. We have to work. It’s not easy,” Sarri said.

– Aguero milestone –

Consigning Conte’s favoured 3-4-2-1 formation to the bin, Sarri sent Chelsea out in a 4-3-3 system that malfunctioned from start to finish.

Sarri has brought Italy midfielder Jorginho with him from Napoli to serve as the pivot for his manager’s attacking gameplan.

But Jorginho made an underwhelming start, repeatedly giving the ball away in dangerous areas.

Phil Foden drove at the heart of the Chelsea defence to set up City’s 13th-minute opener with little resistance from Jorginho or anyone else.

Foden’s incisive run ended with a simple pass to the unmarked Aguero, who applied the finishing touch with a fine low strike from the edge of the area.

It was Aguero’s 200th City goal — making the Argentina striker the first player to reach that milestone for the Eastlands outfit.

Foden’s contribution was the highlight of an assured display from the 18-year-old midfielder that belied his tender age and showed why he is hailed by City staff as the ‘Stockport Iniesta’.

In the absence of Eden Hazard, still resting after the World Cup, Chelsea unveiled a precocious talent on their own in Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The 17-year-old winger gave a glimpse of his blistering pace and nimble footwork when he cut in from the left flank to bring City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo into action with a stinging drive.

Hudson-Odoi was a rare bright spot for Chelsea, with subdued Spain striker Alvaro Morata offering little evidence he can make amends for last season’s flop.

Inspired by Aguero, City could have won by five but they settled for one more in the 58th minute.

Aguero made a clever run to meet Bernardo Silva’s pass with a clinical finish that flashed past Willy Caballero as the champions showed Sarri the size of the task ahead of him.

AFP.

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Buhari Okays Agency For Robotics And Artificial Intelligence In South-East

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Buhari Okays Agency For Robotics And Artificial Intelligence In South-East

Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu said President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of an agency on robotics and artificial intelligence(AI) for the South East.

Onu revealed this at a grand rally of the All Progressives Congress in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi state. The rally which received defectors from the Peoples Democratic Party, was attended by the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.

Some of the defectors who were received include, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji, former Minister of Power and Steel, Chief Goddy Ogbaga, former Secretary to the State Government, Bernard Odoh and former attorney general and commissioner for justice, Chief Augustine Nwankwegu.

Onu told the rally that in 2015 he pleaded with South-East not to put its eggs in one basket but his pleadings fell on deaf ears.

“In 2015 I pleaded with the zone not to put our eggs in one basket. Today I want them to compare the 16 years of PDP and relate it with just 3 years of APC.

“The three years of APC is greater than the 16 years of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); the second Niger bridge is nearing completion, the Enugu – Port-Harcourt and Enugu – Onitsha highways are in various levels of completion,” he said.

“The time has come for the South East to be in the mainstream of Nigerian politics by voting for President Buhari and APC in 2019”.

APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole said that the current security challenge in the country was devoid of religious or ethnic colouration.

Oshiomhole therefore urged Nigerians not to allow themselves to be deceived by the antics of selfish politicians in the country who are trying to give the security challenges in the country an ethnic colouration to score cheap political points.

According to Oshiomhole, there is a plot to paint the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in bad light by portraying all the killings in some states in the country as the handiwork of herdsmen.

“Let me urge you to be more careful because in this season people are spreading untruth. People are being hired to turn the gospel upside down. They want us to believe that every problem should be explained in ethnic and religious terms.

“We have a problem and we must confront those problems. Criminals must be dealt with individually as criminals. Government at all levels must work hard to protect every Nigerian regardless of tribe or religion, ” he said.

He said Buhari and the security agencies are working hard to put an end to the security challenges facing the country.

Oshiomhole urged the people of the South-East to vote for APC and President Buhari in  the 2019 general election as he has delivered democracy dividends to the zone.

” If Buhari has remembered the South-East which did not give him more than 10 percent in 2015, imagine what he will do if you give him 85 per cent in 2019″.

Former Governor of Abịa State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu said the new River Niger bridge, which the PDP could not construct in 16 years, has now reached 53 per cent completion.

According to him, the South-East will give the President and APC majority of its votes in 2019 in appreciation for all the projects and democracy dividends he has given the zone.

The rally earlier scheduled to hold at the Pa Oruta Ngele Stadium Abakaliki was later moved to a a playground near the Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway following the refusal of the state government to grant the APC permission to use the stadium.

(NAN)

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TRAGEDY! 9 NYSC Corps Members Drown While Swimming In Taraba River

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TRAGEDY! 9 NYSC Corps Members Drown While Swimming In Taraba River

About nine serving members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) posted to Taraba State on Saturday drowned in River Mayo-Selbe in Gashaka Local government Area.

Narrating the tragedy, the State Police Command Police Public Relations Officer, ASP David Missal, who confirmed the death of nine out of the 22 corps members who were swimming in River Mayo-Selbe, said seven corpses have so far been recovered from the incident.

His words: “Information available revealed that 22 youth corps members had gone on a picnic party in River Mayo-Selbe in Gashaka LGA on Saturday when the incident happened.

“We were made to understand that while they were swimming in the river, there was sudden upsurge in the volume of water, which carried them away.

“Nine of them drowned, while others managed to escape.

“We have so far recovered seven corpses, while the search for the two remaining corpses is still in progress.”

Also confirming the incident, the State NYSC Coordinator, Mrs. Florence Yaakugh, who described their death as “most unfortunate,” also said that seven bodies have been recovered, while the search for the other two bodies was still ongoing by the locals in collaboration with security agencies and the NYSC.

“It’s a very sad development and we would soon have the identity of all the corps members involved in the accident and make such information known appropriately.

“We have very sketchy information indicating that about nine of our corps members drowned in Gashaka yesterday.

“So far, seven bodies have been recovered and we are working with relevant persons to recover the rest of the bodies and to identify them.

“This is a very sad development and the entire NYSC family in Taraba State is already thrown into deep mourning,” she said.

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WANTED Boko Haram Terrorist Captured

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WANTED Boko Haram Terrorist Captured

The Nigerian Army has said its troops have captured a wanted Boko Haram suspect, Maje Lawan at Banki, Borno.

A statement issued on Sunday, August 5, by Brig.-Gen Texas Chukwu, the army spokesman, revealed that the suspect is believed to be number 96 on the wanted list earlier published by the army.

Chukwu said Lawan was apprehended after he infiltrated into an Internally Displaced Persons camp in the area.

“The suspect is currently undergoing preliminary investigation and will be handed over to the appropriate authority for further action,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chukwu said troops had neutralised two terrorists at Malari village also in Borno during an ambush while others fled into the bush.

He said 10 bicycles were recovered from the terrorists during the encounter.

In a similar development, he said troops had dislodged armed militia from their camp at Gbamjimba-Akor axis in Guma Local Government Area of Benue.

He said unspecified number of the armed militia men were neutralised, adding that others escaped into nearby bushes with gunshot wounds.

Chukwu said one AK 47 rifle, two AK 47 rifle magazines, 60 rounds of 7.62 mm special ammunition and five motorcycles were recovered from them.

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Soldiers Kill 20 Bandits, Rescue Captives In Zamfara

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Soldiers Kill 20 Bandits, Rescue Captives In Zamfara

The Nigerian military conducting Operation Sharan Daji to flush out bandits in Zamfara, on Saturday said it had neutralised 20 bandits and freed their captives in Zamfara.

The Force Information Officer of the operation, Muhammad Dole, disclosed this in a statement in Kaduna.

“In continuation of the ongoing Operation SHARAN DAJI, the troops conducted several raids and ambush operations in major identified camps and routes in Maradun, Tsafe and Zurmi Local Goverment Areas of Zamfara State.”

He said during the encounter at DABAN- DOKA village near Dansadau, troops laid ambush along bandits’ identified routes where 20 bandits were neutralised.

“Some bandits escaped with gunshot wounds and several motorcycles were burnt. In one of the troops encounter with the bandits, two notorious bandits, Bello Danboko and Sani Maza, were eliminated in Yanwari ward near Yankuzo and Mai Tukunya village near Dansadau all in Zamfara.”

According to him, during a recent clearance operation along Mashema, Kwadi, Kalage, Gambiru and Kagara axis, heavy fight ensued between troops and bandits.

However, he said due to overwhelming military fire power, a reasonable number of bandits were neutralised and their camps were set ablaze.

“This successful feat has created relative peace and spurred massive returns of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their villages in Zurmi Local Govt Area.”

He said the troops had begun aggressive day and night fighting patrols around Kyaranke and Giwabawa villages in Kanoma District of Maru area, following a tip-off on imposition of one million naira levy each on the two villages.

“Another tip-off led to the rescue and recovery of kidnapped victims and the sum of N500,000 ransom from kidnappers in Subulu forest.”

He also said the troops in their recent exploits, apprehended two notorious bandits, known for terrorising Maradun town and its environs.

He identified the alleged abandits as Muhammad Aminu and another one popularly called Yellow at Tashan Udda in Maradun.

They are undergoing interrogation, he added.

He said some weapons, ammunition motorcycles, phones and large herds of cows were recovered.

He said the Force Commander, Mohammed Mohammed, “wishes to assure the law abiding citizens that the troops are poised to ensure quick restoration of peace and safety in all the vulnerable areas in Kaduna and Zamfara States”.

NAN

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Presidency Reveals 22 Sins Saraki Committed Against Buhari, APC Before Joining PDP

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Presidency Reveals 22 Sins Saraki Committed Against Buhari, APC Before Joining PDP

The Presidency is said to have published a list that it describes as the sins committed by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki against President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) before his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).

Buhari’s aide on social media, Lauretta Onochie, took to her Facebook page, and in a post titled: ‘The Many Sins of Bukola Saraki Against APC and the APC-led government’, said Saraki was a clog in the wheel of progress of the development of Nigeria and the implementation of the policies of the administration.

Presidency Reveals 20 Sins Saraki Committed Against Buhari, APCThe post read: ”APC is the most tolerant political party in the world. No other party would accommodate Saraki the way APC did till we could take no more. Here are a few of his sins. Just a few obvious ones that are in the public domain.”

  1. Non-confirmation of EFCC Chairman sent in by the president impeding and threatening to derail the fight against corruption.
  2. Giving preference to PDP members in committee appointments in the Senate.
  3. Delay in the confirmation of the boards for AMCON, CBN, NERC, NSADA, ICPC, among others.
  4. Giving the deputy Senate president to the opposition party.
  5. Placing roadblocks to the actualization of government’s promises to Nigerians.
  6. Constituting a clog in the wheel of progress of the development of the country and the implementation of the policies of the administration.
  7. Joining forces with the opposition to ridicule President Buhari’s fight against corruption.
  8. Stole money from the APC campaign during the presidential campaign in 2015 and starved the campaign council of funds.
  9. Maintains a relationship with a gang of armed robbers who have been notorious for disturbing the peace of good people of Kwara state.
  10. Rallied corrupt elements to buy his Senate Presidency seat against the wishes of the Party.
  11. Currently inducing Senators with $100,000 each to suffocate PMB’s government in the Senate.
  12. Delay of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 budgets and thus impeding the economic development of the country.
  13. Budget padding and inserting 391 projects into budget of only two agencies.
  14. Shutting down the National Assembly and personalizing the National Assembly affairs especially when he is required to answer questions at law enforcement authorities, we see the entire senate following him to the CCT and shutting down the Senate.
  15. His refusal to entertain the virement for the funding of critical MDA’s which will ensure key agencies like INEC, NSA, NPF conduct their duties to ensure a free and fair elections.
  16. Frustrating key laws in the fight against corruption and promoting laws that serve personal interest like the Bill on re-ordering the sequence of elections.
  17. Fictitious insertions of amounts that are diverted in the name of constituency projects.
  18. Lack of internal democracy where he, at will, suspends senators with different opinion from him.
  19. Refusal to approve loans meant for infrastructural development of the country.
  20. Using the Senate as an institution to fight personal vendetta.
  21. Generally undermining the government for the past three years.
  22. Permitting and tacitly endorsing frivolous motions to unjustly attack the President and the government.

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Presidency Reveals 22 Sins Saraki Committed Against Buhari, APC Before Joining PDP

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Presidency Reveals 22 Sins Saraki Committed Against Buhari, APC Before Joining PDP

The Presidency is said to have published a list that it describes as the sins committed by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki against President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) before his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).

Buhari’s aide on social media, Lauretta Onochie, took to her Facebook page, and in a post titled: ‘The Many Sins of Bukola Saraki Against APC and the APC-led government’, said Saraki was a clog in the wheel of progress of the development of Nigeria and the implementation of the policies of the administration.

Presidency Reveals 20 Sins Saraki Committed Against Buhari, APCThe post read: ”APC is the most tolerant political party in the world. No other party would accommodate Saraki the way APC did till we could take no more. Here are a few of his sins. Just a few obvious ones that are in the public domain.”

  1. Non-confirmation of EFCC Chairman sent in by the president impeding and threatening to derail the fight against corruption.
  2. Giving preference to PDP members in committee appointments in the Senate.
  3. Delay in the confirmation of the boards for AMCON, CBN, NERC, NSADA, ICPC, among others.
  4. Giving the deputy Senate president to the opposition party.
  5. Placing roadblocks to the actualization of government’s promises to Nigerians.
  6. Constituting a clog in the wheel of progress of the development of the country and the implementation of the policies of the administration.
  7. Joining forces with the opposition to ridicule President Buhari’s fight against corruption.
  8. Stole money from the APC campaign during the presidential campaign in 2015 and starved the campaign council of funds.
  9. Maintains a relationship with a gang of armed robbers who have been notorious for disturbing the peace of good people of Kwara state.
  10. Rallied corrupt elements to buy his Senate Presidency seat against the wishes of the Party.
  11. Currently inducing Senators with $100,000 each to suffocate PMB’s government in the Senate.
  12. Delay of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 budgets and thus impeding the economic development of the country.
  13. Budget padding and inserting 391 projects into budget of only two agencies.
  14. Shutting down the National Assembly and personalizing the National Assembly affairs especially when he is required to answer questions at law enforcement authorities, we see the entire senate following him to the CCT and shutting down the Senate.
  15. His refusal to entertain the virement for the funding of critical MDA’s which will ensure key agencies like INEC, NSA, NPF conduct their duties to ensure a free and fair elections.
  16. Frustrating key laws in the fight against corruption and promoting laws that serve personal interest like the Bill on re-ordering the sequence of elections.
  17. Fictitious insertions of amounts that are diverted in the name of constituency projects.
  18. Lack of internal democracy where he, at will, suspends senators with different opinion from him.
  19. Refusal to approve loans meant for infrastructural development of the country.
  20. Using the Senate as an institution to fight personal vendetta.
  21. Generally undermining the government for the past three years.
  22. Permitting and tacitly endorsing frivolous motions to unjustly attack the President and the government.

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Understanding APC And The Crisis Of Defections

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Understanding APC And The Crisis Of Defections, By Reuben Abati

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Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the “factional” leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has reportedly asked Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki to resign his position as Senate president. What exactly does the Comrade want Saraki to resign from – the Senate presidency or even his membership of the Senate, having won election into the Assembly in the first place on the platform of the APC? Oshiomhole also probably expects that other members of the PDP who are occupying elective and appointive positions will also tender letters of resignation, having defected from the ruling APC.

This piece was written by Reuben Abati. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

It is either the embattled party chairman has not adverted his mind to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution on party matters or the party’s legal adviser is not doing his job. The gale of defections from the ruling APC – 16 senators, including the Senate president, three governors, 37 members of the House of Representatives, the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, the national publicity secretary of the APC, and it looks like more are to come in the days ahead, including ministers who may be preparing their letters of resignation, their political principals having deserted the party – raises a number of questions, political, moral and legal. I intend to address some of these in order to assist the leaders of the APC to stop acting as cry-babies and to attempt a clarification of the nature and character of the tsunami that seems now certain, if unchecked, to sweep the APC out of power.

With regard to the Saraki defection, the language of the Constitution is very clear and specific in Section 50(1) (a), wherein it is stated that there shall be “a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of the House from among themselves”. The same expression is retained in Section 50 (1)(b) as applicable to the House of Representatives, and the emphasis is on the phrase – “from among themselves.” The Constitution thus does not say that the Senate president or the speaker and their deputies must come from the ruling or majority party; indeed any of the members of the Assembly can occupy the mentioned positions once their colleagues choose them “from among themselves.” Saraki does not therefore have to resign his Senate presidency because he has left the APC, that party also cannot order him to resign. The only way he or the speaker of the House of Representatives can be removed is stated in Section 50 of the Constitution and in the present circumstance Section 50(2)(c) is of particular interest – it prescribes removal only “by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of that House”.

Can the APC at the moment muster up to “two-thirds majority” in either the red or the green chamber to remove the Senate president or the speaker and their deputies? I don’t think so. There are probably more persons in both Houses who have also resolved to defect from the APC but who are still physically identifying with the party in order to stay behind as fifth columnists, or simply because of a lingering lack of clarity about their fortunes in their local political environments should they defect at a wrong time.

I think Comrade Oshiomhole also needs to be reminded that Nigeria is not running a parliamentary system; the agenda of party supremacy that he has been pushing, and which probably makes him sound like a cane-welding party chairman – dishing out Stalin-like instructions to other party members, is only bound to alienate others, and effectively turn him into an undertaker. A constitutional democracy, such as we run, requires greater inclusion, horse-trading and statesmanship, rather than the dominant rhetoric of arrogance.

Those who have defected from the APC also need not lose any sleep, particularly members of the legislative houses. Specifically, Section 68 of the 1999 Constitution outlines the circumstances under which a member of the Senate or House of Representatives shall vacate his seat; the most relevant to this commentary being Section 68 (1) (g) which permits defections from one political party to the other in the event of a division in the political party of which a person is a member, or the merger of two or more political parties or factions. Those APC members who are protesting the defection of the Senate president and others cannot deny that there is a division within the APC or that the party is now divided into factions – the Oshiomhole-led faction, the Engr. Buba Galadima-led faction, better known as the Reformed APC, and the Saraki faction, which has now returned to the PDP.

However, whereas Section 68(1) (g) offers such protection to defecting members of the National Assembly, the Nigerian Constitution is silent on the matter of governors who come to power and office on the platform of one political party and who while still in office choose to cross to another political party. This is the dilemma that is thrown up by the phrasing of Section 221, and perhaps the basis for Oshimohole’s request for Saraki’s resignation, even if the provision does not apply to him in the light of a reading of other sections. Section 221 states that: “No association, other than a political party shall canvass for votes for any candidate at any election or contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election.”

In other words, for the purposes of elections, the Constitution recognises only political parties as the vehicle through which any candidate may seek elective office. In the absence of any provision for independent candidacy, nobody can seek office, except through a political party, and hence the votes belong to the party and not the individual. It is political parties that canvass for votes. The governor or rather the candidate is therefore a trustee of the party. The question then is: Can a trustee run away with the fundamental object of the trust, namely the position that he occupies? If and when he does so, it will appear that he has shortchanged his political party and the electorate.

The only way to determine this, however, is through the court of law, and not the kind of self-help tactics that the APC seems to prefer. There have been reports that some members of the Senate are plotting to take over the National Assembly and Nicodemously impeach Senator Bukola Saraki. The leadership of the APC is advised to commit to due process, and not to encourage any illegal conduct. In Benue State, the governor, Samuel Ortom has also complained that he is being harassed, and there has been an attempt by eight out of the 30 members of the State House of Assembly to impeach the governor. The matter is now before the court.

The level of persecution, harassment and injury to character over the matter of defections from the APC is most strange. After all, the APC itself was a beneficiary of a similar development in 2013 to 2014, when members of the new PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) defected from their parties to join the APC coalition. Aminu Tambuwal, then speaker of the House of Representatives, received fulsome praise from then presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari for leading many PDP lawmakers to join the APC. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole also deployed his “eloquence” to encourage members of the PDP to join the APC. Since the APC got to power in 2015, many more members of the PDP have defected to the ruling party. APC leaders did not see anything wrong in this; they did not accuse the defecting PDP members of anti-party activities, so why should they complain now that they are being served a dose of their own medicine? Or are there other issues, within the ruling party, such as post-2015 financial reconciliation or the sharing of spoils, that the public needs to know so that we can be better informed?

I say this because when you read the statements that have been made by those who have just defected from the party, you can only but be shocked. Engr. Galadima, who was a major engineer of the 2015 APC victory, is now engineering contempt and odium against the party. Governor Ortom has pointed to a failure of leadership within the party. Governor Tambuwal sounded very harsh as he talked about corruption, mismanagement of the economy, the spread of national insecurity and what he calls “prison-yard democracy.” The former APC national publicity secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi also issued a statement dripping with venom and contempt for a political party, which he had defended only a week earlier. Saraki’s anger is perhaps on the face of it, understandable – here was a man who from day one was not given any respite by the Buhari presidency; here was a man who was criminalised by the same party he helped to build: He had to be saved by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, only to be labeled “an armed robber” subsequently. Like Saul, on the way to Damascus, Saraki and others have now seen the light; like the Biblical prodigal son, they are all returning to the PDP, which Dino Melaye calls their “home”. It took the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 16 years to implode; it has taken the APC less than four years to reach the same point.

In 2014, the PDP was divided, and confused about how to handle the same situation, such as this that has now arisen with the APC. There were members of the party who advised that the then attorney general of the federation should be asked to take the five defecting governors of the time to court, and if that would be a long process, the president should declare a state of emergency in the affected states and have the governors removed or impeached and sole administrators appointed in their place. Mohammed Bello Adoke, the AGF and minister of justice, as he then was, insisted that it was not the duty of his office to dabble into partisan politics and that if anybody should go to court, it should be the political party, the owner of the trust in contention and not the Federal Government of Nigeria. The party didn’t want to go to court. It wanted the five governors punished. The president didn’t buy into their idea.

Those whose views prevailed eventually were those who argued that the five governors could go if they wanted. They said it was God himself cleansing the party by removing the bad eggs within. They were sure that the defection of the governors and some members of the National Assembly would not affect the party in any way in the 2015 general elections. As we all know, the PDP paid dearly for this. The APC is about to suffer the same fate. Oshiomhole is not helping matters with his rhetoric. The president is also aloof. He went to inspect the campaign headquarters for his re-election bid and then jetted off to London for a 10-day vacation. If I were in President Buhari’s shoes, I would not consider this a right time to go on vacation. He would have nobody to blame if by the time he returns, there have been more defections from his party and government.

The situation is more worrisome, moreso as the president, realising the brewing crisis within the party, a few months ago, set up a Reconciliation Committee led by the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. What happened to that Reconciliation Committee? Did it ever submit any report? And if it did, who and who did it reconcile? It is quite curious that in the face of the on-going crisis within the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the chairman of the Presidential Reconciliation Committee has been silent. His silence is too pregnant with meaning. Is it a cautious admission of the failure of the Committee he led, or an admission that the crisis is not resolvable?

In all of this, we are left with two things. The first is that our politicians are not principled at all. They can belong to the PDP in the morning, the APC by noon and within 24 hours, they could join a completely new party and advance strong arguments to justify their nomadism. The political parties are not built on any concrete principles or ideology either; they are vehicles for political survival and access to power by ambitious politicians. The second thing is that we, the people, are the ones who are short-changed. By now, governance has more or less stopped within Nigeria’s ruling party; the politics of 2019 has taken over. Bad politics results in bad economics and the crisis of growth and progress. With a National Assembly that has suspended key legislative work, and an executive that is seeking a second term in office, and whose president is on holiday, while the party is on fire, international investors have also put final investment decisions on hold, the market is in the grips of uncertainty, GDP ratings are stagnant, creeping stasis is imminent, and all of that, until Nigeria’s political drama is resolved. The only thing that is not on hold is the people’s frustration and the rising cost of being Nigerian.

Reuben Abati, a former presidential spokesperson, writes from Lagos.

This piece was written by Reuben Abati. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

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CBN Begins Circulation Of Lower Naira Notes Across Nigeria

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CBN Begins Circulation Of Lower Naira Notes To Traders Across Nigeria

In an attempt to put an end to the scarcity of lower denomination naira notes in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that it has begun the disbursement of N200, N100, N50, N20, N10 and N5 denominations of naira notes “to merchants, shopping malls, stores, supermarkets, market men and women, toll gates.”

The apex bank, which also restated its commitment to the economic well-being of all Nigerians, said the disbursement of the naira notes had begun in Abuja and would extend to other parts of the country.

The Punch quoted the Assistant Director, Currency Operations Department, CBN, Mr Benedict Maduagwu, as saying these at a two-day sensitisation meeting with some stakeholders in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

“The CBN has commenced the direct disbursement of N200, N100, N50, N20, N10 and N5 denominations of naira notes to merchants, shopping malls, stores, supermarkets, market men and women, toll gates etc. in exchange for the higher denominations,” Maduagwu said.

Some of stakeholders at the meeting included market men and women, students, youths, representative of commercial banks and many social and economic groups in the state, among others.

“The bank (the CBN) has evolved a monitoring framework to avoid abuse,” he added.

The CBN director further noted that the disbursement had started in Abuja and had been extended to Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Onitsha, Ibadan, Yola, Gombe, Katisna and Jos, adding that the notes were made available to the beneficiaries through commercial banks.

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