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Kogi West Senate Rerun: PDP Rejects Nov 30 Supplementary Poll

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has indicated interest to boycott the November 30, supplementary election for Kogi West rerun poll.

A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Saturday, indicated that the party may not be participating in the supplementary poll for the senatorial axis.

The PDP spokesman specifically mentioned that the party has not only lost interest in the electoral umpire, but also rejected the scheduled supplementary election; an indication they might not participate in it.

The statement read in part: “After a further review of the November 16 elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) notes that it is now clearer to Nigerians that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) do not want democracy to thrive in Nigeria.

“The PDP and Nigerians in general have forcefully rejected the results bandied by INEC in the elections. We also reject the proposed Kogi West Senatorial rerun election, which has already been desecrated by the manipulations in the main election.

“As long as the figures in the main election are fundamentally flawed, the proposed rerun cannot reflect the wishes of the electorate and Nigerians are wondering if it will make any sense to participate in an electoral process that is already deficient.

“Nigerians across board have completely lost faith in the nation’s electoral process given that Independent National Electoral Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has been annexed and cannot conduct any free, fair and credible election.

“For us in the PDP and, we believe, to majority of Nigerians as well, Professor Yakubu is the worst electoral umpire in the political history of our nation.

“Furthermore, the police and the military high commands have been reduced to tools of election brutality to ensure that votes do not count.

“Even the Police high command has openly admitted that the police is incapable of protecting voters and votes; thus validating the reported involvement of security agents in the brutalization of voters and disruption of electoral process.

“More distressing is the fact that Nigerians, particularly our members and supporters in Kogi and Bayelsa states, are still in trauma over the murderous November 16 elections.

“A lot of our people have been killed and our members are still grieving.

“It is public knowledge that all accredited local and international observers, including the Civil Society Situation Room, have declared that the elections did not meet the minimum standard for credible election and have unanimously called for outright cancellation.

“There is indeed nothing to indicate that more people will not be massacred in the proposed Kogi West Senatorial re-run election. It is therefore doubtful if Nigerians will be prepared to participate in that re-run given their sordid experiences in the last election.

“There is already a growing consensus across the nation that participating in elections by INEC as presently constituted under the Buhari Presidency would amount to helping to legitimize illegitimacies and outright criminalities.

“Indeed, Nigerians are not ready to join in whitewashing INEC’s battered image as such would also amount to putting a lipstick on a pig.

“Moreover, there are reports in the public space that the APC-controlled Federal Government does not want Senator Dino Malaye in the Senate just because of his forthrightness in defending the interest of the people.

“Nigerians recall with shock how, at the presentation of the 2020 budget, Mr. President reportedly asked Senator Malaye “you, you mean you are still in this chamber?. A question which meaning cannot be farfetched.

“Our party has been made aware of how INEC and security apparatus have been instructed to use all means to stop Senator Dino from returning to the Senate. INEC had also blatantly refused to consider Senator Melaye’s petitions regarding the November 16 election.

“Nevertheless, the PDP remains strong and undeterred. Our party is aware of that fact that millions of Nigerians look unto our platform for strength and direction in their quest for freedom and preservation of their rights. For this, we will remain resilient till the end.

“This country belongs to all of us and nobody, no matter how highly placed, has the right to appropriate our common sovereignty for his or her anti-people purpose.

“However, as we forge on in this collective struggle, the PDP directs all flags at our national, state and local government secretariats to fly at half mast from Monday, November 25th to Wednesday, November 27th in honour of all those killed in Bayelsa and Kogi states by the APC and their thuggish collaborators.”

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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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