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Lawyers, human rights activists, and other prominent Nigerians have given their different versions over whether a former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, could be prosecuted for confessing that he had on many occasions participated in the rigging of elections in the country in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party. Mantu made the self-confession during a live interview on television.

Asked how Mantu’s confession should be treated by the authorities, a human rights lawyer, Mr . Femi Falana (SAN), said since rigging was a criminal offence, Mantu’s confession should be treated like any confessional statement in a criminal case, noting that crime time did not run against crime. Falana, however, expressed skepticism that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government would take any action against Mantu “because the country is being run on the basis of official impunity.”

Falana said,“It should be treated the way all confessional statements are treated. But I think he made a general statement, he hasn’t identified which election was rigged. “A former governor of Cross River State, Mr . Donald Duke, had actually given a more vivid account of how elections are manipulated in Nigeria. Furthermore, the National Human Rights Commission had also done a compilation of those who participated actively in the rigging of the 2011 elections and the government hasn’t done anything about it.

“I don’t think the Buhari regime will really follow-up on this revelation because we operate in an atmosphere of impunity. The country is run on the basis of official impunity. But clearly, there is no statute of limitation with respect to serious criminal offences, but I am so convinced that this will not be followed up.” Also speaking, a Lagos based lawyer, Mr . Wahab Shittu, called for Mantu’s prosecution based on his confession that he subverted the will of Nigerians.

Shittu said,“How is confession to criminality treated? Do you treat such confession with a kid’s glove or you apply the law? When someone has confessed that he committed a huge crime, such as subversion of the freewill of Nigerians, fraudulent manipulation of the electoral process, the person who makes such confession should be arraigned and prosecuted.”Similarly, the Executive Chairman of the Centre for Anti Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr . Debo Adeniran, said Mantu should not be allowed to go scot-free, even if the punishment would be reduced based on his self-confession.

Adeniran said, “It is like the God of the Nigerian people is actually at work and that means that those who have committed damaging crimes that have kept Nigeria perpetually low are being spiritually induced to start confessing and that is why Mantu and all his accomplices should be rounded up. He should name those who participated in the rigging machinery of the PDP when they imposed themselves on Nigerians against what the ballot said. “This case should not be allowed to lie low; the man should be made to account for his deeds. The punishment may be discounted, a kind of amnesty, but he should not be allowed to go scot free.”

Speaking in the same vein, another Lagos- based lawyer, Mr . Dele Adeogun said , “He wasn’ t specific as to which election he rigged . That needs to come into play . However, any form of electoral malpractice is a criminal offence and time does not run against crime. “The processes would be that based on his own confession , the Attorney General of the Federation should commence a process in order to enforce the law . It is just like someone coming out to say I killed somebody , it behoves the AGF to take up such a confession . It is a moral obligation on the AGF . ”

However , Lagos- based lawyers , Messrs Jiti Ogunye and Ebun – Olu Adegboruwa , said Mantu’ s confession might not be useful as it was not particularised. Ogunye said , “ His confession is a confession at large, made to the general public ; it is not a confession that is tied to a specific allegation . And very instructively , he did not volunteer that statement under caution . The confession is not tied to a specific crime that is being investigated by a law enforcement agency , which can result in possible criminal prosecution . At best , what he did can set the stage for him to be invited by a serious -minded and proactive law enforcement agency . ”Adegboruwa added that Mantu’ s confession had justified the need for the establishment of an electoral offences commission .

He said,“We have always agitated for an electoral offences commission , which will be different from the regular police , which will have the power to prosecute political thugs, riggers , bribe – givers and bribe – takers , and because most of our leaders are as guilty as Mantu is, that call has not been heeded . So , I think that Mantu’ s confession is a wake – up call for us to enact that policy of having a separate electoral offences commission. In respect of Mantu, there is little or nothing we can do, there ’ s no complainant, we don’ t know the election he claimed to have rigged . ”

But another Senior Advocate of Nigeria , Chief Emeka Ngige , said Mantu should not be punished but should be made a resource person on how to prevent future elections rigging . Ngige said , “I think he should be invited by the police to give further information and use that information to block future rigging . They should not punish him; rather they should make him a resource person that will help them to get information on how future election rigging can be prevented. ”

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James Hope College Acquires American International School Lagos Property, Offers Full Scholarship To 40% Of Students

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The James Hope College (JHC) has announced the acquisition of the American International School Lagos (AISL) Lekki Campus facility to establish James Hope College in Lagos. This was disclosed at the signing ceremony held yesterday at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The event had the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the United States Ambassador ably represented by Carol Cox, the Chairman of AISL Board, Ali Safieddine and other prominent persons in attendance.

While giving his speech at the event, the Founder/Chairman of James Hope College, Mr. Jim Ovia stated that the College would continue to offer full scholarship based on merit, to 40% of all the students that would be admitted into the school.

James Hope College, a co-educational initiative of the Jim Ovia Foundation, offers a combination of British and Nigerian curricula. James Hope College is a Cambridge Associate School, a member of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) and Association of British Schools Overseas (AoBSO). JHC is in partnership with Microsoft Imagine Academy and GL Education. JHC is accredited by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), Pearson Edexcel Examinations, and British Schools Overseas (BSO).

With the acquisition of this property, James Hope College is set to replicate in Lagos the outstanding academic performance it is known for. More importantly, the offer of full scholarship to 40% of the students on merit ensures that the school’s equal opportunity model of academic excellence is extended to all students regardless of their state of origin.

James Hope College Lagos will open its doors to students in September 2020.

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M.D School Embarks On 2019 Community Project

Peter Okunoren

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M.D Nursery and Primary School has announced the programmes for the 2019 edition of its yearly community project.

This year, the school, located in Agidingbi and New Oko Oba areas of Lagos State, will be providing medical support, legal advice, and other professional support to members of the two communities.

Scheduled for October 19, the theme for this year is: “Home, Emotions, Aspirations and the Child.”

It will hold between 10 am and 2 pm.

The Proprietress of the school, Omolara Adedugbe, described it as M.D Nursery and Primary School’s way of giving back to society.

Adedugbe said: “We won’t stop giving back to society.

“This is just one of the ways in which we show our gratitude to the communities in which we operate.
“We also do yearly visits to public primary schools around us, where we do a project for the benefit of the pupils and also visit the less privileged in homes close to us.”

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STOP PRESS! Before We Crucify VP Osinbajo

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Hysteria is in the DNA of many Nigerians, especially those who are, for parochial or partisan reasons, decidedly and desperately against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since the president announced the dissolution of the Economic Management Team headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and replaced it with an Economic Advisory Council, there has been mass hysteria in the traditional and new media.

This is apparent in the deluge of dilettante opinion articles, editorials, blog posts, blurbs, and tweets all alluding to the fact that the VP has been politically emasculated by a phantom ‘cabal’ in the presidency because of his growing popularity and influence and the need to whittle them down before 2023.

Some even said he has been marked for impeachment on trumped-up charges that could only have been products of a puerile imagination.

What the President simply did was to change the economic direction of his Next Level agenda; not ‘reduce’, as some also implied, the statutory functions of his beloved VP.

As the chairman of the constitutionally created the National Economic Council, the VP will continue to play a pivotal role in all economic matters in singular support and assistance of his Principal, Mr. President.

For emphasis, the NEC meeting, held monthly, deliberates on the coordination of the economic planning efforts and economic programmes of the various levels of government.

The council comprises the 36 state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and other government officials and agencies whose duties hinge on the economy.

Last Thursday, the VP still chaired the NEC at the Presidential Villa.

Osinbajo told attendees at the NEC meeting that both councils (NEC and EAC) are for the benefit of the president; and, “If NEC wants to be briefed regularly by the Economic Advisory Council, EAC, we will request the president to do that.” So, nothing has changed, except for the new song by dissidents.

What further sent the rumour mill into overdrive was an alleged directive that the Vice-President should, henceforth, seek presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision.

VP Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA).

He is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a limited liability company owned by the three tiers of government; and the National Economic Council (NEC), a constitutional body made up of state governors and key federal government officials, as well as the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

Under the laws setting up the agencies, the president is empowered to give final approvals but those who chose to ignore this constitutional provision went to town, gloating and ululating, that the VP has eventually been cut to size.

A careful introspection is critical here. Apart from the fact that he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the Vice President, as the whole world knows, is a Professor of Law. So, if anybody should know what the constitution stipulates as the roles and powers of a VP, it is Osinbajo.

So, why would he want to overreach himself knowing what the constitution states? At what point does doing the right thing require a directive? Some things just don’t add up in the name of playing politics.

Late 2018, the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness invited the VP to explain his role in the N5.8 billion North East Intervention Fund which the lawmakers said was mismanaged by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The NEMA is one of the agencies under the VP. The committee said the authorisation for the release of the fund for emergency food intervention in the North East contravened Section 80(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. And that the funds were credited directly to the individual banks of the companies and NEMA’s bank account, in violation of the approval limit allowed by law.

Nowhere in the report was the VP alleged to have benefitted from the fund. Good enough, the Presidency issued a public statement to say that the money Osinbajo, in his capacity as the Acting President, approved for release in the dire emergency was sourced from the Rice Levy which had already been appropriated in that year’s budget. And that explanation settled the matter.

However, in the desperation of the strident opposition, the allegation, which had since been dispelled by the House Committee, is now being unearthed as if it were new, in a mere political contrivance intended to distract the President Buhari-led administration.

Every discerning mind should be above this outright fake news and sheer inanity. Just as they should about rumours that some unspecified amount of money was found in some private accounts related to the VP’s family or that some Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, funds were traced to his office. The purveyors of this particular rumour even said that the National Leader of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a former National Chairman of the party, Chief BisiAkande, had been duly informed. Another such report maintained that Asiwaju himself is behind the attempt to smear the VP.

These are mere fabrications intended to drive a wedge between the VP and those he holds in very high esteem. Thankfully, the president and the party leaders are above such frivolous distractions.

Indeed, at no time since Nigeria’s democratic experience began that the President and his VP have enjoyed the kind of cordial relationship and mutual respect that exists between President Buhari and VP Osinbajo.

The president believes so much in the competence, character, and capacity of his VP that he allows him to handle some of the populist programmes of the administration. And, this has not been without politically-motivated hiccups.

The VP is the ‘face’ of TraderMoni, the empowerment scheme of the Federal Government created specifically for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria. The launch of the scheme saw the VP crisscrossing the country, enlightening the people about it and generally pressing the flesh to the delight of Nigerians. Yet, those who do not know the workings of the scheme have gone to town, falsely accusing the VP of mismanaging the Tradermoni Funds.

Instructively, the Bank of Industry is in charge of the Tradermoni; the funds never get into the hands of the VP or his aides; the money is sent to the people via their phones. The VP has just been monitoring to make sure people received what they were promised and the program was working. So any imputation of embezzlement is nothing but a frantic attempt to soil a hard-earned reputation of loyalty, integrity, and capability which the VP has built in the last four years, and which has helped to steady the incumbent administration in no small measure.

Conclusively, the news and noise of a rift or whittling down of the VP’s powers is akin to a storm in a teacup; both the president and the Vice President are still working in tandem to ensure that Nigerians are genuinely taken to the Next Level in their own time.

Abdullai Rimi, is an Abuja-based media practitioner and businessman

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