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APC governors want Oshiomhole out – State Chairman

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The chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, Anselm Ojezua, has said that governors elected under the APC platform do not have sympathy for the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.

“The governors don’t have sympathy for him, but somehow, they do not want to be seen as leading the vanguard against him,” Mr Ojezua said in an interview published on Friday by Daily Independent.

Mr Ojezua said the governors expect Mr Oshiomhole “to read in between the lines and do what is honourable”.

“I don’t see him (Oshiomhole) surviving,” he added.

The APC State chairman spoke on the rowdy session at the recent national executive council meeting of the party in Abuja. “He (Oshiomhole) would not allow the meeting to take place. What we saw was just a charade,” he said.

Mr Ojezua is an ally of the Edo governor, Godwin Obaseki who is locked in a fierce political battle with Mr Oshiomhole, a former governor of the state.

The political fight between the two leaders has led to a factional crisis in Edo APC and the state assembly.

A Benin High Court last week restrained a faction of APC loyal to Mr Oshiomhole from removing Mr Ojezua as the state chairman of APC.

Mr Ojezua’s faction recently announced the ‘suspension’ of Mr Oshiomhole from APC in the state.

Several people believed to be loyal to Mr Oshiomhole have either been relieved of their positions in the state or suspended from the party to weaken the APC national chairman’s grip on the party politics in the state.

More than 10 of the elected state lawmakers, who are yet to be inaugurated, are currently on self-exile in Abuja reportedly for fear of their safety in Edo.

There is fear that the crisis may affect the fortunes of the party in the governorship election in Edo next year.

‘Oshiomhole needs to go now’

Mr Ojezua, in his interview with Daily Independent, made reference to Mr Oshiomhole’s ‘suspension’.

“Once you lose the confidence of your people; you lose the confidence of your colleagues, you lose the confidence of key members of the party, what moral justification do you have to lead?

“If your people said they have suspended you from their membership, do you really have the legitimacy to conduct the affairs of the party as an officer? I think these are some of the main questions that people should ask. Can you function as an officer if your membership has been suspended?” he said.

“The rule of the party is that you have to be suspended from your ward; that has been done; it has been decided at the local government and state levels.

“What moral, legal or constitutional justification does he have to retain or function in the office, when his own people have expressed their lack of confidence in him? That is the issue. It is that lack of confidence that led to suspension. So, if they are looking at the legitimacy or legality of the suspension, can they also question the lack of confidence?”

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Alleged N6.9bn Fraud: Court Grants Fayose Permission To Go On Medical Trip Abroad

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has again granted permission to a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, to travel abroad for medical treatment.

It will be recalled that Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for an alleged N2.2bn fraud.

Following an application by his lawyer, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), Justice C.J. Aneke, for the second time, granted Fayose permission to go abroad for treatment.

The judge had in July first granted Fayose permission to go on foreign medical trip.

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), did not oppose Friday’s request.

After granting the travel permission, Justice Aneke adjourned till January 16, 2020 for continuation of trial.

Fayose is being prosecuted alongside a firm, Spotless Limited.

In the charges, the EFCC alleged, among others, that Fayose, on June 17, 2014, “took possession of the sum of N1, 219, 000,000 to fund your 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Ekiti State, which you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: criminal breach of trust/stealing.”

The ex-governor was also alleged to have on the same day “received a cash payment of $5,000,000 from Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the then Minister of State for Defence, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 1 and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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APC chairman reacts to Orji Kalu’s conviction

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Mixed reactions from two political party chieftains in Abia greeted Thursday’s judgment of a Lagos High Court, which sentenced the Senate Chief Whip and former Abia governor, Sen. Orji Kalu, to 12 years in prison over N7.65 billion fraud.

The Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in the state, Donatus Nwankpa, said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was disappointed and angry with the judgment.

Mr Nwankpa, who was a member of the Abia House of Assembly when Mr Kalu was governor, said that the judgment was not fair.

“The party will meet to take a position on the judgment but as an individual, I am very saddened by the judgment.

“I am not convinced that judgment was given,” he said, adding that the court’s verdict sustained his doubts about the integrity and objectivity of the nation’s judiciary.

Mr Nwankpa said that he never had the confidence that Mr Kalu would get judgment, “considering the utterances of the judge.”

“I’m highly convinced that something went wrong. The judgment is not fair,” he said.

Conversely, the Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council in Abia, Ceekay Igara, described the judgment as “good precedence.”

According to him, “if Kalu was found wanting as governor of the state, he should face judgment.

“It is a normal thing and goes to prove that nobody is above the law.”

Mr Igara, who is the state Chairman of the Labour Party, said that the judgment was supposed to teach two lessons.

He said, “The first lesson for those who are in government and second for others who intend to take over is that whatever they do, there is always a judgment day.”

Maduka Okoro, the South-East Media Aide to Mr Kalu, told NAN that Mr Kalu would appeal the judgment “to allow other judges and a higher court take another look at the case.”

Mr Okoro said that Kalu was not bothered by the judgment but considered it as one of the travails that every leader must experience “before becoming what God wants him to be.”

He expressed optimism that the judgment would be reversed by a higher court, adding that Mr Kalu would be acquitted at last.

He said that as governor, Mr Kalu administered Abia transparently and never defrauded the state.

Kalu was Abia governor from 1999 to 2007 and won election to the Senate in the 2019 election, after three attempts. (NAN)

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Court ‘closes’ prosecution’s case in Dino Melaye’s trial

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The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, on Thursday, closed the case of the federal government in the trial of a former senator, Dino Melaye.

The judge’s decision was due to the prosecution’s absence and lack of diligence in prosecuting the politician.

Mr Melaye, the former senator representing Kogi West, was charged with two counts bordering on giving false information to the police.

The attorney-general’s office arraigned Mr Melaye last year after he reported in April 2017 an alleged attempt on his life at his home state of Kogi. The government said the information the former senator provided was false.

The senator had accused the Kogi governor and his aides of being responsible for the alleged assassination attempt.

But at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, the judge, Olasumbo Goodluck, gave the order after Mr Melaye’s lawyer, Olusegun Odubela, informed the court that the prosecution was absent from the day’s proceedings.

While addressing the court, Mr Odubela told the court that, “it is obvious that the prosecution is not here again today. On the 19th of November, the prosecution was here but was not ready to proceed.”

The lawyer said, “it is clear that the prosecution is not ready to move on with the trial. They have achieved what they wanted to achieve which is media trial.”

“We apply that the case of the prosecution is closed. We urge the court to adjourn for the defendant to open his defence.”

Mr Odubela told the court that he intends to file a no-case submission.

In a short ruling, Justice Goodluck said she cannot disregard the antecedents of the prosecution.

She said, “the prosecution has not written any letter to the court to state reasons why they were absent.”

Mrs Goodluck noted that the suit has been adjourned “not less than five times at the instance of the prosecution.”

She said ordinarily, she would have dismissed the case for lack of diligent prosecution.

The judge then said, “I am of the view that the prosecution case is closed and it is hereby foreclosed.”

The court adjourned to February 11, for the defendant to file a no-case submission.

Earlier ruling

It reported how the court on November 19, ordered the Nigerian government to pay N100,000 for stalling the trial the ex-senator.

Mrs Goodluck held that by the provisions of Section 396 (4)(6) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, parties are entitled to five adjournments “and nothing more than that”.

She said she was not pleased with the attitude of the prosecution in the matter, especially when the matter was placed on the fast track, day to day hearing and the defendant’s counsel coming from outside Abuja.

“A cost of N100,000 is therefore awarded against the prosecution instead of N250,000 prayed by the defendant’s counsel,” she ordered then.

Mrs Goodluck said the trial was adjourned to November 19 and 20 and both dates of the trial were stalled due to the failure of the prosecution to bring their witnesses to court.

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