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Tinubu’s influence and four other reasons Gbaja could emerge house of reps speaker

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The 9th national assembly to be inaugurated in June will definitely come with a lot of surprises, intrigues and power play. The two prominent leaders of the legislature are most likely not returning to their positions. This leaves room for speculation over who presides over the two chambers. Senate President Bukola Saraki lost his reelection bid, while Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives, now falls within the minority, having defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The current composition of the lower chamber shows that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has 211 seats, while the PDP trails with 111 seats. The race for the speakership has begun and all eyes are on Femi Gbajabiamila, majority leader of the house.

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party, favoured the lawmaker representing Surulere 1 federal constituency of Lagos, for the position. But Dogara secured just eight votes ahead of him to emerge speaker.

With his reelection on February 23, the 56-year-old lawmaker may emerge as the next helmsman, considering his pedigree and experience. Below are five reasons why Gbaja, as he is called in the political circle, might succeed Dogara:

16 YEARS OF LEGISLATIVE EXPERIENCE

Gbajabiamila assumed office in 2003 – making him a four-time returnee to the green chamber. He was the deputy minority leader in the 6th assembly and emerged as the minority leader with the 7th assembly. Aside his eloquence and tactical approach to issues in the house, Gbajabiamila maintains an enviable track record.

Having sponsored a myriad of bills in the national assembly, he is seen as one of the brilliant minds to have graced the chamber. He initiated a motion in the house for the invocation of the doctrine of necessity while former President Musa Yar’adua was critically ill and absent from the country. This led to the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as acting president.

In 2011, Gbajabiamila rejected his nomination for a national honours award of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR), citing that he wasn’t qualified for it given that the award was no longer achieving its original intent.

PROTECTED THE INTEREST OF THE PARTY

Gbajabiamila addressing the media after a caucus meeting of the APC reps

The Lagos lawmaker played a pivotal role in protecting the interest of the APC, positioning it as a strong force, especially in the eight assembly where the party suffered internal crisis that led to gales of defection.

While 37 members of the caucus dumped the party during plenary on July 2018, Gbajabiamila led the remaining members to reject the defection, while he hinted at taking “necessary steps” over the move which he described as illegal.

“People elected you on a particular platform to represent them. That seat does not belong to you; it belongs to the political party. Not only does APC remain the majority in the house it is still a clear majority. This leaves APC over and beyond what is required for majority,” Gbajabiamila had said.

A LAWYER LIKE PREVIOUS SPEAKERS

This lawyer might succeed his ‘learned’ colleague

Gbajabiamila’s legislative know-how might have stemmed from his experience as a lawyer and strong academic records. Interestingly, the house has recently been headed by lawyers: Aminu Tambuwal and Dogara.

A law graduate from the University of Lagos, he started his career with the Bentley, Edu and Co law firm in Lagos before he established his own firm, Femi Gbaja and Co. where he was principal partner. Gbajabiamila later returned to John Marshall Law School in the US and was said to have graduated top of his class, earning himself a juris doctorate. He set up a law firm and had a brief stint of practice in the US after he passed his Georgia bar exams in 2001. Later, he returned to Nigeria to join politics.

TINUBU’S GODSON

The lion of Bourdillon

One thing that might work for Gbajabiamila is the undeniable fact that he is a loyalist of Tinubu, the Lagos-based political kingmaker. In his bid to clinch the speakership seat in 2015, Tinubu pushed for his endorsement in the party. In fact, he won the mock election conducted by the party for the seat and was widely accepted before he was narrowly trounced on the floor of the house.

In Dogara’s biography written by Dele Momodu, Ovation publisher, the speaker narrated how Tinubu begged him to drop his ambition for the speakership to support Gbajabiamila.

“He appealed to us and said what he only wanted, as a leader, as a political father, was for us to please collapse our campaign into Femi’s and declare our support for him. Asiwaju maintained that, as a matter of fact, support for Femi was a support for him. He said if we supported Femi by extension we were actually supporting him and reciprocating the work he did to ensure APC won the Presidency,” Dogara said.

Tinubu has also played key roles in the political career of the lawmaker.

LED APC CAUCUS FROM MINORITY TO MAJORITY PARTY

As the APC maintains its majority control of the house in the 9th assembly, one cannot divorce Gbaja’s role in the transition of the party to its present domination. He was the minority leader when the PDP maintained hegemony. When APC flipped the script and had the domineering figure, he stepped up to become the majority leader. With the present vacuum in the leadership of the next assembly, he’s could just leap to the “next level”.

Apart from Gbajabiamila, another top contender that could be considered is Abdulmumin Jibrin from Kano state.

The lawmaker, who was elected to represent Kiru/Bebeji federal constituency in 2011, also appears to be a top contender for the seat he eyed in 2015. He dropped his ambition to sponsor and support Dogara but the duo later fell out.

Aside having limited experience in the house compared to Gbajabiamila,  having come from the north west, the same zone as the president, may not work in Jibrin’s favour.

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Malabu Oil Deal Fraud: Adoke Hit With Fresh 42-Count Charge

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The Federal Government, on Monday, filed fresh charges against former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke.

He is being charged with 42-count of alleged fraud in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal, alongside Rasky Gbinigie, A. Abubakar, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Ultra Deep Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Limited.

According to the suit which was signed by Bala Sanga on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, one of the accused persons, Rasky Gbinigie conspired with Munamuna Seidougha (at large), Amaran Joseph (at large) and Dauzia Loya Etete (at large), sometime in 2013, in Abuja, dishonestly used as genuine the forged form CAC 7 and Board Resolution of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and the letter of resignation of one Mohammed Sani to open a Bank Account No. 2018288005 with First Bank of Nigeria Plc to receive the sum of $401. 5 million.

The suit read further: “The accused persons committed an offence contrary to section 366 of the Penal Code and punishable under the same section of the Penal Code.

“That you, Mohammed Bello Adoke, being a public servant at the material time, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Government of Nigeria, sometime in August 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court was in possession and custody of the sum of N300m reasonably suspected to have been unlawfully obtained and thereby committed an offence an offence under section 319A of the Penal Code and punishable under the same section of the Penal Code.

“That you, Mohammed Bello Adoke, being a public servant at the material time, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Government of Nigeria, sometime in 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, accepted for yourself without consideration, the sum of N300m to broker the negotiation and signing of the Block 245 Resolution Agreement with Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited and thereby committed an offence under section 119 of the Penal Code and Punishable under the same section of the Penal Code.”

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Crime

Ex professor charged for allegedly blowing $200K grant on strippers, bars

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A former Philadelphia professor who allegedly blew grant money on strippers has now been charged with theft in connection to the nearly $200,000 used for adult entertainment and other personal expenses, prosecutors said.

Chikaodinaka Nwankpa — the one-time head of Drexel University’s electrical engineering department — was charged last week on felony counts of unlawful taking and theft by deception, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

The 57-year-old former professor allegedly abused grant money from the Navy, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation over a period of 10 years, prosecutors said.

He squandered around $96,000 in federal grant funds at adult entertainment venues and sports bars between 2010 and 2017, officials allege. He also blew threw another $89,000 on iTunes purchases and meals.

The university revealed the alleged fraud last October, claiming it had only discovered the spending spree during a 2017 audit.

Nwankpa allegedly admitted to the unauthorized expenses when confronted by school officials and resigned from the college. He also gave around $53,00 to the university, which paid $189,000 to resolve potential civil liability in the case.

He was arrested by university police last week and released on $25,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to 14 years in prison.

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Kwara Matters

EFCC Forfieture: Saraki Urges Court To Vacate Order

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Former Senate President and two-term Kwara State Governor, Dr Bukola Saraki, has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) praying for the permanent forfeiture of his Ilorin houses.

Saraki described the suit as an abuse of court processes and a move to scandalise him.

He argued that it was a ploy by the EFCC to review the July 6, 2018 decision of the Supreme Court “discharging the applicant from culpability arising from the same money and houses which are the subject matter of this action.”

The EFCC had, in the suit filed before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, claimed that the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State – were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities allegedly perpetrated by Saraki, while he was Kwara State Governor between 2003 and 2011.

Justice Aikawa had on December 2, 2019 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government.

The judge adjourned for Saraki to appear before him to give reasons the houses should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

In response, Saraki, through his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), filed a preliminary objection, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.

Ogunwumiju said that the new suit by the EFCC was an abuse of court processes because it was filed at a time when a suit on the same subject matter was still pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

According to him, in the Abuja suit, Justice Taiwo Taiwo had on May 14, 2019 made an order for parties to stay action on the subject matter pending the determination of an originating motion on notice.

“Despite the pendency of the above-captioned suit, service of the originating processes and the subsistence of the aforesaid order of this court, the respondent surreptitiously commenced Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1867/2019 between the EFCC v Dr Bukola Saraki on 14th October 2019 in this court where it seeks orders aimed at neutralising the order of the Abuja Division of this court,” he said.

The ex-Kwara governor said that the new EFCC’s suit was meant to “irritate, annoy and scandalise” him and urged Justice Aikawa to dismiss it.

The judge, on Tuesday, adjourned the matter till February 5 to take arguments on Saraki’s objection.

The EFCC, in the suit, told the court that it received “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011,” when Saraki was the governor of the state.

An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq said, “Whilst investigation was ongoing several fraudulent transactions were discovered.

“I know for a fact and verily believe that our investigation has revealed the following mind-boggling findings, among others:

“That between 2003 and 2011, Dr Olubukola Abubakar Saraki was the Executive Governor of Kwara State.

“That whilst he held the aforementioned position, the common pattern was that after payment of monthly allocation by the Federal Government to the Kwara State Government, a cumulative sum of not less than N100m will be deposited into the Kwara Government House account.

“That upon the payment of the said N100m, same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House.”

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