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Buhari May Sign Electoral Bill Today, Seeks Lawmakers’ Assurances To Amend Clause 84

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President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to sign the rewritten Electoral Act Amendment Bill and may do so today if the National Assembly amends the problematic Clause 84, which infringes on the constitutional rights of a certain group of people. After assenting to the controversial component, political appointees are barred from winning elections and voting as delegates at conventions or congresses.

The president, who already met with the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly was awaiting assurances from the leadership of the National Assembly to amend the bill after signing it into law. “The President wants to put this behind us but simply wants assurances so as not to allow this to continue to be a distraction on the country. He doesn’t want other good aspects of the bill to continue to suffer.”

Also, the president is expected to meet with governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) tomorrow at the State House, Abuja, to address concerns relating to the proposed February 26 national convention of the party.

But this is not going to be before a meeting of the APC governors tonight in Abuja, where they want to take a final look at the situation and issues relating to the convention before engaging the president tomorrow, and ultimately a decision.

Buhari, last night, decided to lay the issues stalling the Electoral Act Amendment Bill to rest when he seized the initiative and met with the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to finding a middle ground and closing the deal once and for all.
The president was said to have earlier met with the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, and the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who is the Chairman of the amendment committee, deputized by Wase, on how to resolve the controversial Clause 84 of the new amendment.

According to sources, the president had only asked if they would be willing to expunge the contentious aspect after he signs the bill so that the political turf could be cleared of the electoral bill crisis. According to a source with knowledge of the ongoing conversation, the president is seeking comfort and assurances that the aspect that infringes on the constitutional rights of Nigerians would be brought in conformity to the constitution through an amendment after he has signed to avoid further delay to the take-off of the bill.”

But as at last night, THISDAY could not glean from the leadership of the National Assembly if they had agreed to the president’s proposal, but feelers from the Villa indicated that once the Buhari gets the assurance of the legislative leadership to address the grey area, he would move swiftly to sign the bill, possibly today.
There had been misgivings about the new amendment, which had also fuelled speculations on whether or not the president would sign it into law.

The latest speculation was stoked by rumors that some governors, especially, those of the ruling APC, were not comfortable with the new amendment and had planned to prevail on the president to also veto it, as he did in the last one.

This is because the harmonized version of the Electoral Bill recently passed by the legislature and considered the final agreed version by both Senate and House of Representatives, had inserted a controversial Clause 84 into the amendment bill.

The implication of Clause 84 was that all political appointees in President Buhari’s government would no longer be eligible, either as voting delegates or aspirants during the conventions or congresses of their political parties.

Also, by the provision at issue, political appointees were further barred from voting as delegates in a convention or seeking the nomination in the primaries of their political parties.

Unlike what was obtainable in the past, when most APC ministers and commissioners took leave of absence to contest their party’s primaries and later went back to their jobs after they lost, that grace was no longer available with the new proposal.

According to Clause 84 of the recommitted bill, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.
“Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of this Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in the issue.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act or rules of a political party, an aspirant, who complains that any of the provisions of this Act and guidelines of a political party have not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate of a political party for election, may apply to the Federal High Court for redress.

“Nothing in this section shall empower the courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election under this Act, pending the determination of a suit.”
Unfortunately, there was a lacuna in the new law, which encouraged infringements on the inalienable rights of citizens to vie for elective offices.

The Supreme Court had pronounced at different times that any law inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution is ultra vires and, to that extent, null and void.
Sources, however, believed that the clause was meant to clip the wings of the governors, who, through appointments, often controlled those who became automatic delegates and determined the outcome of congresses.

Sources further claimed that the idea was originally from the House of Representatives, pushed by a principal officer from Lagos as an agenda to serve some interests. The Senate was said to have concurred, just to keep the “one house” impression by the National Assembly.

But the fear being expressed by many was that, with a clause that clearly breached the provision of the constitution, the president might be forced to veto the electoral act amendment bill again, and that if that happened, a new electoral law might not be ready for the 2023 elections, hence the new rapprochement by the president.
Buhari had declined assent to the first amendment bill over the provision of direct primary as the only mode of choosing candidates by political parties.

The bill earlier passed by the National Assembly on November 18, 2021, provided: “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by the commission.”
But Buhari, in declining assent, disclosed that he would only give assent to the bill if the lawmakers provided options for the conduct of primaries by political parties.

The president also cited several disadvantages of the provision to the system, including security and possible manipulation by incumbent officeholders, who might be seeking re-election, as well as political parties’ inability to muster funds for it.

BIG STORY

[VIDEO] Herdsmen Kill Bus Conductor In Lagos Over Cow’s Death

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Persons identified as herdsmen have stabbed a bus conductor to death for killing a cow in Lagos.

This happened in the early hours of Monday and became public in a viral video from the scene of the accident.

According to one of the videos making rounds on social media platforms, the incident occurred at Mowo on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, close to President Muhammadu Buhari Estate.

The commentator in the video said the bus conductor, who fled after the accident that led to the death of the cow, was killed close to a police checkpoint.

The driver, who was said to be heading to Badagry from Mile 12, was said to have fled as soon as he sensed danger.

This made the herdsmen go after the conductor of the bus with registration number: FKJ 756 XH.

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JUST IN: Olukayode Ariwoola To Be To Sworn In As Acting CJN

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Report has it that plans are underway to swear in Olukayode Ariwoola as a tentative replacement for the former CJN, Tanko Muhammad so as to leave no vacuum.

Ariwoola is the next highest-ranking justice of the supreme court and he is expected to take over in an acting capacity from Monday.

According to the procedure for the appointment of the CJN, the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) shortlists two or three most senior judges among the supreme court justices and sends their names to the National Judicial Council (NJC) which then selects one candidate and forwards it to the president before it goes to the Senate confirmation.

But to leave no vacuum, an acting CJN must be appointed.

ABOUT OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA

Ariwoola was born in Iseyin, Oyo State, on August 22, 1958. He had his primary education at the Local Authority Demonstration School, Oluwole, in his hometown between 1959 and 1967. He then moved to Muslim Modern School in the same town from 1968 to 1969 before graduating to Ansar-Ud-Deen high school, Saki area of Oyo, for secondary education.

He earned his law degree at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1980 and a year later he was called to the Nigeria bar and got enrolled as a solicitor and advocate of the supreme court.

He kicked off his career as a legal officer in the Oyo state ministry of justice and stayed in the role until he moved into private practice in 1988.

Ariwoola spent less than four years in private practice before he was whisked back into public service.

Between 1988 and July 1989, he was a counsel in-chambers of Ladosu Ladapo before moving to establish his own legal firm named “Olukayode Ariwoola & Co”. Three years later, he was called to the bench.

Ariwoola was back in public service by 1992 when he was appointed a judge of the superior court of record in Oyo.

He was named the chairman of the Oyo state armed robbery tribunal between May 1993 and September 1996.

In 2005, he then rose to the position of a justice of the court of appeal and he held the position before he was appointed a justice of the supreme court of Nigeria in 2011.

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Ekweremadu: Immigration Dismisses Organ Donor’s Underage Claim

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The Nigeria Immigration Service has stated that it followed due process in issuing a Nigerian passport to Mr. David Nwamini, who was allegedly trafficked to the United Kingdom for organ harvesting by former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

David had allegedly claimed to be a minor after he arrived in the UK where he was to donate his kidney to Ekweremadu’s daughter.

However, photos of his Nigerian passport, making rounds on social media, showed his date of birth to be October 12, 2000, placing him at 21 years old.

Making comment on the controversy surrounding David’s age, Mr. Idris Jere, the Comptroller General of the NIS, at a press conference on Sunday, said Nwamini is indeed 21 according to his record in the possession of the NIS, discarding claims that the Service didn’t thoroughly vet the documents provided by the applicant.

Jere said, “The fact of the matter concerning the case above, therefore, is that Mr. David Ukpo Nwamini applied and paid for the e-passport using the NIS portal after which he approached the passport office in Gwagwalada, FCT Abuja, on November 2, 2021, for his interview.

“To support his application, Mr. Nwamini presented all necessary documents required including his birth certificate issued by the National Population Commission, showing October 12, 2000, as his date of birth; his National Identification Number, issued by NIMC corroborating the date of birth; a Certificate of Origin issued by Ebonyi State Government Liaison office in Abuja, and a guarantor’s form duly signed.

“NIS relies on documentation supplied by other agencies and we are not under any obligation to go to those agencies to verify those documents. What we do is that we look at the documents and applicants physically. Once that is done, we go ahead to process.”

Meanwhile, the Senator representing Bayelsa West, Mr. Seriake Dickson, has told Nigerians not to hastily pass judgment against Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice.

Dickson said this in a statement he issued on Sunday titled, ‘The Ekweremadu I know will not traffic an underage boy for organ harvesting.’

Dickson said, “I am sure from the beginning when this story broke that the Ekweremadu I know could not have taken an underage and underprivileged young man, smuggle him out to harvest organs for whatever purpose.

“The circumstances surrounding this will fully come to light in the cause of investigation.

Also reacting, the Ebonyi State Government, in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information, Uchenna Orji, in Abakaliki, on Sunday urged the UK authorities to exercise caution in the investigation of circumstances leading to the arrest and eventual trial of the senator and his wife.

The statement read, “Ebonyi State Government is following up the turn of events and twists that followed the medical intention of the former Deputy Senate President’s family.

“While we urge the UK Government to act progressively and meticulously and critically look at the intention (Mens rea) and the minds of the detained family and please give them the benefit of the doubt, we enjoin the public, especially those with shades of opinions and surge of anxieties to remain calm as we hope to see light at the end of the tunnel.

“The state government is reaching out to the family of David Okemini Ukpo from Ebonyi State, whose information to the Metropolitan Authority of UK orchestrated the criminal charge against the senator and his wife. The state government stands with Senator Ike Ekweremadu at this trial moment and hopes that the truth and nothing but the truth shall guide the outcome of the matter.”

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