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Electoral Act: Senate Finally Bows To Buhari, Includes Consensus For Party Primaries

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The Senate added the consensus primary option in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday, as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Compulsory direct primaries were removed from the bill by both chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

While the House allowed parties to choose between direct and indirect primaries, the Senate allowed for both, as well as a consensus approach, as indicated by President Obama in a recent interview with Channels Television.

During the interview, Buhari stated that, in addition to direct and indirect primaries, lawmakers should include consensus.

He said, “All I said (is that) there should be options,” he said. “We must not insist that it has to be direct; it should be consensus and indirect.”

Buhari had last year vetoed the electoral bill and sent it back to the National Assembly over the restriction of political parties to direct primaries.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives had suspended action on the bill till resumption on Tuesday, after the Christmas and New Year break.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives amended Clause Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 which is Clause 84 of the electoral bill, by inserting the indirect primary option.

The Senate, however, adopted Clause 84(2) as recommended by the Committee of the Whole and approved direct primary, indirect primary or consensus as the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for elections.

The disagreement between both houses is expected to delay the passage of the bill.

The Senate also approved the recommended Clause 84(3) which prescribes that “A political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party and shall adopt the procedure outlined below: (a) In the case of Presidential Primaries, all registered members of the party are to vote for aspirants of their choice at a designated centre at each ward of the federation.

It provides further that, “similar procedure as in (a) above, shall be adopted for governorship senatorial, federal and state constituencies.

The Majority Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC/Kebbi-North), had moved a motion for the recommittal of the bill to the Committee of the Whole.

Abdullahi noted that the motion was against the backdrop of the “need to address the observation by Mr President and make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 ( as amended).”

The Senate’s move, it was learnt, was based on the request by the President

However, it was not a smooth ride for the bill at the House. There was tension in the House as members were divided on whether to amend the legislation or override the President’s vote.

At the opening of plenary on Wednesday, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, beckoned on some leaders of the House, who approached his seat.

Shortly after, other leaders and ranking members of the House joined the meeting.

Those who met with Gbajabiamila included the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu; Chairman, House Committee on Finance, James Faleke; Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, among others.

Other lawmakers watched as they engaged themselves in arguments for over 15 minutes.

Our correspondent observed that Elumelu was particularly in disagreement with what was being said by others at the meeting.

Gbajabiamila consequently called for an executive (closed-door) session, which lasted about 30 minutes.

As the chamber was opened, there was noise in the chamber, which showed that there was a disagreement among the lawmakers.

Elumelu and the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, led other opposition members to a corner of the chamber where they met for about five minutes, agreed on what to do and dispersed to their respective seats.

As the Speaker called the chamber to order, he asked that all items on the day’s order paper be stepped down except the recommittal of the electoral bill – Item 6, being the first motion of the day; and Item 9, being the first report for consideration.

Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, moved the motion for the recommittal to the Committee of the Whole. Elumelu seconded the motion.

Ado-Doguwa moved the motion that the House dissolve into Committee of the Whole to consider the bill, while Leke Abejide seconded the motion.

At the Committee of the Whole, consideration of the bill did not start until 18 minutes, during which the lawmakers conferred with themselves in groups and copies of the legislation were distributed to them.

The Speaker recalled how Buhari withheld assent to the bill, read out Paragraph 5 of the President’s letter to the National Assembly. Gbajabiamila also cited Order 12 Rule 20 of the Standing Orders of the House which prescribed how the lawmakers should go about rejected bills.

Considering the report by the Committee of the Whole, Gbajabiamila put the amended Clause 84(2) to voice vote and it was unanimously adopted.

The clause now reads, ‘The procedure for nomination of candidates by political parties for various elective positions shall be by direct primaries or indirect primaries.’

As the House was to revert to plenary, an opposition member, Dagomie Abiante (PDP/Rivers) raised a point of order to say that “there are other errors,” which Gbajabiamila said were “being looked into.”

The Speaker, however, ruled him out of order, stating that the rules of the House, which he had read out, were specific about the process and the lawmakers were bound by the limitations. “We are confined to the observations made by Mr President. We have a near-perfect document; it may not be perfect but we have a near-perfect document,” he stated.

After Gbajabiamila overruled Abiante, several lawmakers approached the Speaker where they were seen pointing out things in the bill to him.

We amended only Clause 84(2) –  Gbajabiamila

After the meeting that lasted about 10 minutes, the House adopted the report from the Committee of the Whole.

The Speaker explained what had been done to the bill, saying, “For emphasis’ sake, I need to state categorically that what was considered and adopted by the House was only a clause and that was Clause 84(2). “

Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, who addressed journalists after the session, stated that Buhari was specific about the amendments he sought from the National Assembly, which was having direct and indirect options.

Consensus will subvert popular will, antithetical to democratic principles – CSOs

Meanwhile, a coalition of civil society organisations working towards the perfection of the electoral process in Nigeria on Wednesday rejected the introduction of consensus by the Senate as a mode of nomination of candidates in the Electoral. Act Bill 2021.

The activists, however, commended the swift action taken by the National Assembly upon resumption to review its position on direct primaries as the sole mode for the nomination of candidates in the Electoral Bill 2021.

While expressing fears that the new consensus mode “is antithetical to democratic principles and will result in the subversion of popular will”, the CSOs called for “the immediate withdrawal of this new introduction which is alien to the original Electoral Bill 2021 to speed up the work of the harmonization committee and conclusion of the amendment process on or before the 21 January 2022 deadline.”

The membership of the CSOs comprised Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre, Centre for Citizens with Disability, The Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society and Nigerian Women Trust Fund.

Others were Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Partners for Electoral Reform, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations and Inclusive Friends Association.

The groups in a joint statement signed on their behalf by the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, rejected the action taken by the Senate.

The statement read in part, “We reject the decision of the Senate to introduce a completely new mode of ‘consensus’ as a procedure for candidates’ nomination. The consensus model is antithetical to democratic principles and will result in the subversion of popular will. Furthermore, it violates the rights of aspirants to equal participation in party primaries and limits the choice of voters to candidates who did not emerge from democratic primary elections.

“Judging from experience, the consensus has occasioned a litany of litigation in Nigeria’s electoral process. We call on the Senate to, in line with the popular will of Nigerians, adopt the position of the House of Representatives which now recognizes direct and indirect primaries as the procedure for nomination of candidates.”

The groups said the divergent positions of both chambers could delay the speedy conclusion of the process.

“We, therefore, call for the immediate withdrawal of this new introduction which is alien to the original Electoral Bill 2021 to speed up the work of the harmonization committee and conclusion of the amendment process on or before the 21 January 2022 deadline,” the CSOs said.

BIG STORY

JUST IN: Amaechi Resigns As Minister Of Transportation

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Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, on Monday, officially resigned his position in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari as the Minister of Transportation.

In a press statement issued by the Amaechi Presidential Media Committee (APMC) signed by Kingsley Wali, in Abuja, Amaechi in his resignation letter expressed profound gratitude to the President for considering him fit to serve in his administration.

He equally thanked Buhari for the enormous support given him, which he said, was responsible for the tremendous record of achievements he made in the Ministry of Transportation over the last seven years.

The statement quoted Amaechi as saying in his resignation letter: “It is with mixed feelings that I tender my resignation as the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to contest for the Presidential ticket of our great party, the All Progressives Congress.

“Your Excellency, it has been a great honor and privilege serving as a member of your cabinet following your historic victory at the polls in 2015. Under your administration, the Ministry of Transportation has recorded significant achievements, made possible by your visionary support and commitment to ensuring that we deliver on our mandate.

“As I embark on the next phase of our mission to work towards a better Nigeria for ALL NIGERIANS, I humbly seek Your Excellency’s prayers, and blessings, and look towards your continuous support and guidance.

“Your Excellency, whilst humbly seeking your kind consideration of my request please accept the assurances of my highest esteem.”

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BREAKING: EFCC Arrests Accountant-General Of The Federation, Ahmed Idris, Over Diversion Of N80bn

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Nigeria’s Accountant-General, Ahmed Idris, has been arrested over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds.

Those familiar with the development said Mr. Idris was intercepted in Kano by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday evening and is being flown to Abuja, the nation’s capital, for interrogation.

Report has it that the EFCC has for some time been investigating a case of diversion of at least N80 billion in public funds which were allegedly laundered through some bogus contracts.

The companies used in laundering the funds have allegedly been linked to family members and associates of the accountant-general, investigators said.

Our sources further said after progress was made in the investigation, Mr. Idris was summoned repeatedly for interrogation but he failed to honor the invitations.

“We kept inviting him but he kept dodging us,” one of our sources said. “We were left with no choice but to keep him under watch and arrest him.”

The spokesperson for the EFCC could not be reached to comment on his story. One of his subordinates said he is traveling in the United Kingdom at this time.

However, a top EFCC official confirmed the development but asked not to be named because he had no permission to discuss the matter with the media.

President Muhammed Buhari appointed Mr. Idris’s accountant-general on June 25, 2015.

The position became vacant at the time after the former Accountant General, Jonah Otunla, left office on June 12, 2015.

President Buhari reappointed Mr. Idris for a second four-year term in June 2019, amid criticisms from labor groups who said the accountant-general should retire after turning 60.

Mr. Idris, a native of Kano State, North-west Nigeria, was born on November 25, 1960, and was until his appointment in 2015 the Director of Finance and Accounts, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

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BREAKING: Embattled Ex-EFCC Chair, Ibrahim Magu, Promoted To AIG

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The Police Service Commission has promoted Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the rank of an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), along with five others.

AIG Magu Ibrahim who is proceeding on retirement is the most senior in the CP cadre and missed the last two promotions after returning to the Police from the EFCC.

It was gathered that the decision to promote Magu follows the recommendation of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba. The PSC had last July declined to promote Magu during the promotion of 24 CPs and other officers.

This is just as the PSC confirmed the promotion of Mr. John Ogbonnaya Amadi as a Deputy Inspector General of Police, to take over from late DIG Joseph Egbunike who represented South East in the Police Management team. Also promoted DIG is Zana Bala Senchi.

The other Commissioners of Police promoted to AIG are CP Abraham Egong Ayim; Okunlola Kola Kamaldeen; Andrew Amieengheme; Akeera Mohammed Younous; Celestine Amechi Elumelu; Ngozi Vivian Onadeko and Danladi Bitrus Lalas (Airwing).

A statement by Ikechukwu Ani, Head of Press and Public Relations said 23 Deputy Commissioners of Police were promoted to Commissioners of Police

The new 23 Commissioners of Police are; Taiwo Olusola Jesubiyi, former DC, Admin and Finance, Akwa Ibom State Command; Kolawole Olajide former DC, Force CID Annex, Alagbon, Lagos; Julius Alawari Okoro, former DC, Maritime, Lagos; Adelesi Ebunoluwa Oluwarotimi, former DC DFA, Kwara State Command; George Chijioke Chuku, former DC Ops Ebonyi State Command; Paul Alifa Omata, former DC Ops, Kwara State Command; and Effiong Dominic Edem, former DC Ops, Zone 2 Lagos. Others are Yusuf Adesina Akeem, presently at the National Defence College; Mary Gbemudu George, former DC, Anti Human Trafficking Abuja; Etim Aqua Efiom, former DC Ops FHQ, Abuja; Mohammed Yakubu, former DC SCID Anambra Command; Ganiyu Alhaji Salami, former DC ZCID Zone11 Osogbo; Magaji Kontagora Ahmed, former, DC Ops, Lagos State Command; and Kolo Yusufu, presently O/c IGP Special Tactical Squad & TIU.

Also promoted CPs are Bzigu Yakaba Kwazhi Dali, presently on secondment to ECOWAS Commission, Guinea, Bissau; Ahmed Ammani, presently at the National Defence College; Afolabi Babatola Adeniyi, former DC, Ops Yobe State Command; Njoku Henry Eronini, former DC, JTF, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; Abiodun Oladimeji Asabi; Dankwara Adamu Mohammed, former DC, SPU FHQ, Abuja; Mohammed Usaini Gumel, former DC TIU FHQ, Abuja; Ogundele Ayodeji, former DC Central Intelligence, Force CID Annex, Lagos and Idris Nagoya, former 2i/c Force Animal branch.

The Commission also approved the promotion of 23 Deputy Commissioners to the next rank of Commissioners of Police; 31 Assistant Commissioners to Deputy Commissioners of Police.

Magu’s ordeal began in July 2020 when he was suspended from office as acting EFCC chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari, over Malami’s allegations against him and he consequently appeared before a presidential panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami set up to probe him for alleged graft and insubordination.

More to come…

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