President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that he was not against the right of Nigerians in the Diaspora participating during elections by voting.
However, he noted that it was the National Assembly that should pass the relevant laws to give legal backing to Diaspora voting.
The President made this known in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during a meeting with the Executive Committee members of the Nigerian Community in Ethiopia.
The NICE members were led by David Omozuafoh to the interface, which was organized by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
Buhari said, ”I have said it severally that I am not against it (Diaspora voting). However, you will need to convince the National Assembly to amend the relevant laws to make Diaspora voting a reality.”
The Electoral Act has no provision for Diaspora voting, though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) claimed it has the capacity to conduct elections simultaneously in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.
The State House said in a statement by the President’s media aide, Garba Shehu, said that the President also declared at the meeting that his regime was “fully determined to combat and defeat all acts of criminality, banditry and terrorism in the country”.
He added that his primary duty remained to secure the lives and property of Nigerians, whether they lived at home or outside the country.
EFCC: We are still probing donations to Jonathan’s campaign
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it is still investigating the funding for the 2015 presidential campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to PUNCH, Shehu Shuaibu, an EFCC investigator, said this on Tuesday during cross-examination in a money laundering case before the federal high court in Lagos.
He said alleged donations into the bank account of Joint Trust Dimensions Limited, one of the defendants in the case relating to Jonathan’s campaign, are still being investigated.
Other defendants in the N4.9 billion money laundering cases include Femi Fani-Kayode, former minister of aviation and an official of Jonathan’s campaign organisation; Nenadi Usman, former minister of finance; and Yusuf Danjuma.
Shuaibu, the third prosecution counsel in the case, was being cross-examined by Ferdinand Orbih, Usman’s lawyer, at the continued hearing on Tuesday.
He was quoted to have listed some of the cash inflows into the bank account of the firm.
“N500m from Global Scan System Ltd on February 11, 2015; N300m from Diamond Bank on January 30, 2015; N250m from Castillo Torres BDC Ltd on February 11, 2015; N100m from Afrigate Energy Ltd, and N500m from Chief Emeka Ofor on March 13, 2015,” he reportedly said.
He, however, said, “I am not sure if they (the monies identified) were truly donations, as some of these alleged donated monies are still under investigation.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had defeated Jonathan, who at the time was seeking reelection.
Falana on Bayelsa: Pre-election matters can’t be determined after the poll
Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says going by the law, pre-election matters should not be determined by the courts after the poll has been conducted.
The lawyer said this while reacting to the supreme court’s sack of David Lyon, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November governorship election in Bayelsa, as governor-elect.
On February 14, the apex court sacked Lyon on grounds that Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo, his running mate, falsified his credentials.
Douye Diri, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, was sworn in as Bayelsa governor 24 hours later.
In a piece entitled: “Why the law requires pre-election cases to be decided before elections”, Falana said section 31 of the electoral act states issues surrounding a candidate’s nomination must be determined before election is held.
To further buttress his point, the lawyer said section 285 of the constitution does not give room for a pre-election matter to be determined after the poll.
“A candidate cannot be disqualified from participating in an election that has been held and concluded,” he said.
“As far as section 285 of the constitution is concerned a pre-election matter can no longer be turned into a post election matter and determined after the election.
“Ex abudanti cautela, section 285 (14) of the Constitution as amended in 2017 defines a pre-election matter as a suit filed by an aggrieved aspirant or political party ‘….in respect of the selection or nomination of candidates for an election’ or ‘……in respect of preparation for an election.’ It is crystal clear from the novel provision of the constitution that a pre-election case filed ‘in respect of preparations for an election’ cannot metamorphose into a post election case.
“It is indubitably clear that the decision of the supreme court in respect of Bayelsa state governorship election was anchored on the assumption that a pre-election could be heard and determined after the conclusion of an election.
“Although, I fully agree with those who have argued that the supreme court is determined to halt the impunity of godfathers who impose candidates on political parties, the rights of voters which might have accrued ought to be considered.
“In sanctioning political parties that breach the provisions of the electoral act or the constitution, the verdict of the courts must not be substituted for the franchise of the electorate.”
‘APC HAS FRUSTRATED EFFORTS TO REFORM ELECTORAL PROCESS’
Falana alleged that since the APC assumed power in 2015, it has frustrated all efforts to reform the electoral process.
He said the APC has continued to act like the PDP by allegedly manipulating elections.
“Before 2015, the APC was in the forefront of the campaign for the implementation of such electoral reform,” he said.
“But upon assumption of power the apc has frustrated all efforts to reform the electoral process. By manipulating enormous powers of the state to win dubious elections the APC has continued to behave like the PDP which once believed that it would rule the country for 60 years.”
Alleged N4.9bn Laundering: Trial Of Fani-Kayode, Others Resumes
The trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, as well as former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman, and two others on charges of fraud and money laundering resumed on Tuesday.
The case continued at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, with the cross-examination of the third prosecution witness, Mr Shehu Shuaibu, a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In continuation of his testimony, Shuaibu told Justice Rilwan Aikawa under cross-examination that funds were illegally transferred from the Ministry of External Affairs into a private firm, Joint Trust Dimensions Ltd, without any contract being awarded.
The company is the fourth defendant in the N4.9 billion fraud trial brought by the anti-graft agency against Fani-Kayode and Usman, as well as Yusuf Danjuma who is a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
It is said to be the personal company of the third defendant, Danjuma.
The EFCC had charged the defendants with 17 counts for which they all pleaded not guilty and were subsequently granted bail by the court.
In answer to questions from the first defence counsel, Ferdinand Orbih, the witness told the court on Tuesday that as an investigator with the EFCC, he personally took the statements of the defendants.
The witness also testified that from his findings, there were huge inflows of money from the Ministry of External Affairs to the Account of Joint Trust Dimensions Ltd.
He said that he could find no trace of any contract between the firm and the ministry to warrant the payment of the funds.
Shuaibu, however, agreed with the defence counsel that the cash inflows into the account of Joint Trust was not limited to the ministry, as funds also came in from companies and individuals.
He confirmed “N500 million from Global Scan System Ltd on February 11, 2015; N300 million from Diamond Bank on January 30, 2015; N250 million from Castillo Torres BDC Ltd on February 11, 2015; N100 million from Afri Gate Energy Ltd; and N500 million from Chief Emeka Ofor on March 13, 2015.”
As to whether he was aware that the account was opened for the purpose of receiving donations for campaigns for the 2015 general elections, the witness said he was not sure if the funds were truly donations, as some of those who allegedly donated monies were still being investigated.
The judge, thereafter, adjourned cross examination in the case until February 26.
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, the defendants were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution in counts 15 to 17.
He was said to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
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