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Tribunal Verdict: CJN Constitutes Supreme Court Panel Next Week As PDP, Labour Party File Appeal Tuesday

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Barring any last-minute change in plan, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, will constitute the Supreme Court panel that will hear the appeal arising from the judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Court latest on Wednesday.

The PEPC had on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, delivered a 12-hour judgment on the appeals arising from the February 25, 2023 presidential election, upholding the election of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress.

The presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi respectively rejected the court’s judgment, vowing to approach the Supreme Court.

They had 14 days from the day the judgment was delivered to file their appeal at the apex court.

That 14-day timeline ends on Wednesday.

While their legal teams are working hard to beat the deadline, an investigation (by The Punch) at the Supreme Court on Friday revealed that Ariwoola had yet to constitute the panel of the apex court that will hear the appeals.

Further investigation, however, further revealed that the CJN will constitute the panel latest on Wednesday when the timeline for the filing of the appeals will end.

Multiple sources at the apex court also said the identities of the Justices that may be named members of the panel were still unknown.

One of the sources at the court said, “There is no information about the panel or the justices that would make up the panel for now. What we know is that members of the panel may be named this week, latest by Wednesday.”

Report on Friday had it that Obi’s legal team may file an appeal on Tuesday.

It was further gathered that the presidential candidate is not planning to change members of his legal team.

The spokesman of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko; and the National Legal Adviser of LP, Kehinde Edun, made this known to The Punch.

“I just confirmed that we have not filed the appeal. That will be done between now and Tuesday. We are also not seeking to engage or tweak our team of lawyers,” Tanko said.

Agreeing with Tanko, the party’s legal adviser also said, “We have not filed the appeal yet because we are still within the time frame. It will be done any moment from now.

“To answer your other question, our legal team is still intact. They are some of our best hands. There is no reason to change them since we do not doubt their capabilities.”

When contacted, Obi’s lead counsel, Dr Livy Uzoukwu, also said the legal team was still working on the appeal, saying, “We are on it. We have not fixed a date to submit.”

A member of Atiku’s legal team, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, also said, “We are filing the appeal as soon as possible, within the constitutional and statutory period. All the lawyers are retained. Our team is intact and as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.”

The ex-vice president’s lead counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, could not be reached for comment as calls and messages to his line were not answered on Friday.

PDP NEC Member On CJN

Meanwhile, the Deputy National Youth Leader of the PDP, Timothy Osadolor, has advised the CJN not to be part of the panel of the Supreme Court that will review the PEPC judgment.

Osadolor stated this against the backdrop of a statement credited to the CJN in the past, endorsing Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde’s membership of the G-5, a group made up of some aggrieved governors opposed to Iyorchia Ayu’s chairmanship of the PDP after Atiku emerged as the party’s candidate.

In November 2022 as special guest of the Rivers State Government in Port Harcourt at a banquet organised in honour of the then Governor, Nyesom Wike; Justice Ariwoola lauded Makinde’s membership of G-5; a development that was criticised by the National Working Committee of the PDP at the time.

“That is why we should not be scared to have these men of the integrity group. I am happy that my own Governor (Makinde) is among them because he would try to imitate his friend and in-law because we came here to marry for my Governor.

“So, Governor Wike will always threaten that he will call back his sister if my Governor fails to play ball. That is why you see him following His Excellency (Wike) because my Governor is afraid of his wife being recalled,” the CJN said in 2022.

Osadolor, in a conversation with The Punch, said, “I would expect the CJN after the gaffe wherein he exposed his partisan self with his declaration of support for the then G-5 when he got too excited, to recuse himself from any panel that is constituted for political reasons, particularly one as sensitive and important as the one to look into the PEPC judgment that is contentious and vexatious for a wide range of reasons.

“He should not do anything to taint the image of our judiciary further. The whole world is watching and he of all people should know better that his membership of the panel would raise several questions.”

As of the time of filing this report, neither of the two official spokespersons of the party, Debo Ologunagba and Ibrahim Abdullahi, was ready for comment.

On his part, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, promised to reach out to one of our correspondents “after getting legal advice.”

Candidates Retaining Lawyers

Tinubu, Atiku and Obi will be retaining the 89 Senior Advocates of Nigeria they hired for the legal battle.

Ahead of the sittings of the PEPC, Aiku hired 19 SANs, Obi secured the services of 20 SANs while Tinubu engaged 50, making a total of 89.

Just like in the case of Obi and Atiku, the coordinator of the Tinubu Presidential Legal Team, Babatunde Ogala, in an interview with one of our correspondents said the President’s legal team would be retained. “Why do we have to change our lawyers? We don’t need any fresh people. We have more than enough lawyers in our legal team,” Ogala said.

APC, Labour Party, PDP Lose NASS Seats

Meanwhile, the PDP has so far lost 11 National Assembly seats, while the APC forfeited six seats and the LP could not retain eight slots.

Also, the New Nigerian Peoples Party lost three seats, while the All Progressives Grand Alliance lost two.

Report has it that the APC won 162 House of Representatives seats in the National Assembly elections held on February 25 while its closest rival, the PDP, took 102 seats and the LP won 34 seats.

The NNPP on its part won 18 seats while the Social Democratic Party and APGA got two and four seats respectively.

Also, the African Democratic Congress won two seats just as the Young Progressives Party had one seat.

In the Senate, the APC won 57 seats while the PDP and the LP got 29 and six seats respectively.

However, after the judgment of the election petition tribunals across the country, the APC lost some seats and gained the highest number of National Assembly seats with 10 seats, PDP got four, while LP won two seats and APGA won one.

The tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, sacked three LP’s House of Representative members and ordered a rerun in one constituency.

The tribunal declared Chief Daniel Okeke of the APC as the winner of the February 25, 2023 election for the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency and ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to LP’s Okwara Osonwa.

Another tribunal sitting in Umuahia sacked the lawmaker representing Aba North/South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Emeka Nnamani and declared Alex Ikwechegh of APGA winner of the seat.

A rerun was ordered for Osisioma/Obingwa/Ugwunagbo Federal Constituency of the state and LP’s Munachim Alozie was sacked.

In Isuikwato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency, APC’s Nkiruka Onyejeocha who is currently the Minister of State for Labour was declared winner while LP’s Amobi Ogah’s victory was nullified.

The tribunal in Anambra State nullified the declaration of APGA’s Uchenna Elodimmuo for Nnewi North/South and Ekwusigo Constituency and called for a supplementary election.

A rerun was also ordered in Oyi and Ayamelum Constituency, while the declaration of APGA’s Maureen Gwacham by the Independent National Electoral Commission was nullified.

The election that brought in PDP’s Fred Agbadi as a member of the House of Representatives for Sagbama/Ekeremor Constituency of Bayelsa State was set aside as inconclusive.

In Benue North-East Senatorial District, Emmanuel Udende of APC was sacked, while PDP’s Gabriel Suswam was declared the winner by the tribunal.

In Cross River, INEC was ordered to retrieve the Certificate of Return issued to APC’s Emil Inyang as the winner of Akamkpa-Biase Constituency, while a supplementary election was ordered in 19 polling units.

The tribunal in Asaba, Delta State also declared the election of Delta South Senator, APC’s Thomas Onowakpo, inconclusive and ordered a re-run.

The tribunal declared the Delta Central Senatorial District election inconclusive and ordered that the CoR issued to Senator Ede Dafinone of the APC be withdrawn while the three-member tribunal headed by Justice W.I. Kpochi ordered a re-run in 48 units across four out of eight local government areas in the district.

Similarly, the tribunal sacked a member of the House of Representatives, Ngozi Okolie representing Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency on the platform of LP and declared the candidate of the PDP, Ndudi Elumelu, winner.

In Enugu East/Isi-Uzo Constituency, LP’s Sunday Nnamchi was sacked while PDP’s Cornelius Nnaji was declared the winner.

For Ihitte Uboma and Mbano Constituency in Imo State, PDP’s Jonas Okeke was sacked while APC’s Chike Okafor was declared winner, while Ikenga Ugochinyere of the PDP for Ideato North and South Constituency was sacked and the tribunal ordered a rerun between Pascal Obi of LP and APC’s Chika Abazu.

Meanwhile in Kano, the NNPP lost three seats to the APC.

While NNPP’s Idris Dankawu was sacked, Munir Agundi of the APC was declared the winner of the Kumbotso Constituency.

For the Kano Tarauni Constituency, NNPP’s Muktar Yerima was sacked while APC’s Hafiz Kawu was declared the winner.

Also for the Kura/Madobi/Garun Malam Constituency, NNPP’s Yusuf Datti was sacked while APC’s Musa Kwankwaso was declared the winner.

Similarly in Katsina State, the PDP lost two of its seats in the National Assembly to the APC while one was declared inconclusive by the tribunal.

For Katsina, Kankia-Kusada-Ingawa Constituency, PDP’s Ismail Kusada was sacked while APC’s Abubakar Kusada was declared the winner.

Also for Katsina Central Constituency, the tribunal sacked PDP’s Aminu Chindo while it declared APC’s Sani Aliyu as the winner

The election that brought in Jamilu Muhammad of the PDP for Kankara-Faskari-Sabuwa and Batsari-Safana-Danmusa Constituencies was declared inconclusive.

For Kogi Central Senatorial District, APC’s Abubakar Ohere was sacked while PDP’s Natasha Uduaghan was declared the winner.

Also, the Senator representing Kogi East in the National Assembly, Jibrin Echocho was sacked and the tribunal ordered a supplementary election in 94 polling units.

The tribunal in Lagos ordered a rerun in Eti-Osa Constituency nullifying the victory of LP’s Thaddeus Atta.

Also, the election that produced the LP candidate, Seyi Sowunmi, House of Representatives member, Ojo Federal Constituency in the state was annulled by the election petition tribunal and Lanre Ogunyemi of the APC was declared the winner.

The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Minna, Niger State ordered INEC to set aside the victory of Joshua Gana of the PDP, in the February 25 National Assembly election and ordered for a rerun in 23 polling units of Edati, Lavun and Mokwa Federal Constituency.

In Plateau State, the elections of four National Assembly members of the PDP were nullified.

Beni Lar of Langtang North/Langtang South Federal constituency was sacked while APC’s Vincent Bulus was declared the winner.

Also, the representative of Jos South /Jos East, Musa Bagos was sacked while Alfred Iliya of LP was declared the winner.

Peter Gyendeng representing Barkin-Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency was sacked, while LP’s Fom Dalyop was declared the winner.

Also, Napoleon Bali, representing Plateau South Senatorial District, was sacked while the immediate past governor of the state, Simon Lalong, who is currently Minister of Labour and Employment was declared the winner.

 

Credit: The Punch

BIG STORY

President Tinubu Shrugs Off Slip, Says I “Dobale” For Democracy Because It’s Worth Falling For

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Nigeria’s President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has reacted to the trending video of him tripping at Eagle Square in Abuja on Wednesday, saying democracy is worth falling for.

Recall that Tinubu missed a step while climbing the vehicle for a parade at Eagle Square in Abuja during an event for the 2024 Democracy Day. But he quickly regained his balance and continued with the activities for the day.

When speaking about the incident during a day to mark the day, Tinubu joked about the incident and said that he had only “dobale” – paid homage to democracy in the Yoruba style.

According to him, while celebrating Democracy, “I ‘dobale’ for democracy,” (meaning I bowed for Democracy).

President Tinubu also used the dinner event to call for the unity of Nigeria irrespective of tribe, religion, or political affiliations.

He said the unity of Nigeria cannot be traded.

Reactions have continued to pour in from several Nigerians including members of the opposition since the incident.

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NDIC Puts Heritage Bank’s Head Office, Vehicles, Other Assets On Sale

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In its capacity as the bank’s liquidator, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has put the collapsed Heritage Bank’s head office in Lagos and its branches around the nation up for sale.

In an editorial published on Thursday, NDIC announced the sale of 48 bank premises as well as its chattel, which includes automobiles, office equipment, plant, and machinery in 62 other locations across the nation.

“The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation in the exercise of its right as Liquidator of failed Deposit Money Banks hereby invites interested members of the general public to buy the assets (landed property and chattels) of defunct Heritage Banks through public competitive bidding,” part of the advertorial read.

The head office of the bank and its annex located at 143 Ahmadu Bello Way and 130 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos was listed for sale (buildings, chattels, generator, and motor vehicle). Also listed for sale were six other branches in Lagos, four branches in Abuja, four in Rivers States, and the others spread across the country.

Interested parties are invited to come for an inspection and subsequently put in bids on the assets to be submitted to the NDIC office in Lagos.

Bids are expected to come in with 10 per cent of the bid amount in Certified Bank Draft. Successful bidders will be required to pay the balance of the bid price within two weeks of notification.

Earlier, the corporation announced the commencement of the verification and payment of the depositors of the bank with N5m or less in their accounts. This category of customers makes up about 99 per cent of the bank customers.

The Managing Director of the NDIC, Bello Hassan, at a media briefing on the liquidation of Heritage Bank in Abuja last Wednesday, put the total depositors at Heritage Bank at 2.3 million.

Hassan noted that the total bank deposits at Heritage Bank stood at N650bn while its loan portfolio was about N700bn.

In announcing the revocation of the licence of Heritage Bank, the apex bank in a statement signed by the Acting Director of Corporate Communication, Sidi Ali, said, “This action has become necessary due to the bank’s breach of Section 12 (1) of BOFIA, 2020. The board and management of the bank have not been able to improve the bank’s financial performance, a situation which constitutes a threat to financial stability.

“This follows a period during which the CBN engaged with the bank and prescribed various supervisory steps intended to stem the decline. Regrettably, the bank has continued to suffer and has no reasonable prospects of recovery, thereby, making the revocation of the licence the next necessary step.”

Stakeholders in the sector have gone on to express confidence in the decision of the CBN in the overall interest of the sector.

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Minimum Wage: Mass Sacking Imminent, FG Warns As Labour Disowns Agreement

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The Federal Government on Wednesday chastised organised labour to consider the broader economic implications of its push for an unrealistic higher national minimum wage.

The admonition was delivered by Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation. Idris warned that the N250,000 minimum salary proposed by labour may damage the economy, cause a mass layoff of workers, and endanger the wellbeing of Nigerians.

The labour unions, on the other hand, denied President Bola Tinubu’s assertions that a deal had been reached on the new national minimum wage during his Democracy Day speech on Wednesday.

Acting President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, said as of the time negotiations ended on June 7, no agreement had been reached by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage.

Adeyanju is acting on behalf of the NLC president, Joe Ajaero,  who is attending an International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Tinubu drew the ire of the unions after stating that his administration would soon submit an executive bill to the National Assembly to codify the agreements reached in the minimum wage negotiations between Labour, the private sector, the states and the Federal Government.

The parties had engaged in prolonged talks for weeks with the unions insisting on N250,000 minimum wage while the Federal Government and the Organised Private Sector offered N62,000.

However, the state governors said they would not be able to sustain any minimum wage higher than N60,000.

Dismissing the offers made by the Federal Government and the OPS, the labour unions said they would not negotiate what they described as ‘starvation wage.’

  • N62,000 not acceptable

The Assistant General Secretary of the NLC, Chris Onyeka, said Labour would not accept the latest offer of N62,000 and the N100,000 proposal made by some individuals and economists.

This was as the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said the unionists were waiting on the President to consider Labour’s proposal.

But speaking at the opening of the 2024 Synod of the Charismatic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday, the information minister emphasised the imperative of a realistic wage system that safeguards against mass retrenchment while addressing workers’ needs.

Idris restated the government’s dedication to reassessing the minimum wage but cautioned against demands that could disrupt the economy.

He stated, “As I have repeatedly said, the Federal Government is not opposed to the increase of wages for Nigerian workers but we keep on advocating for a realistic and sustainable wage system for the workers – a wage system that will not undermine the economy, lead to mass retrenchment of workers and jeopardise the welfare of about 200 million Nigerians.

“We want the labour unions to understand that the relief that Nigerians are expecting, and that they fully deserve, will not come only in the form of an increase in wages.”

He highlighted the ongoing efforts to alleviate the cost of living, citing initiatives like the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas programme aimed at reducing transportation expenses by 50 per cent.

While advocating wage increases, Idris stressed the importance of holistic relief measures beyond salary adjustments, urging Labour to recognise the significance of programmes like the CNG initiative in enhancing citizens’ purchasing power.

“It will also come as an effort to reduce the cost of living and to ensure that more money stays in the pockets of Nigerians. And this is where programmes like the Presidential CNG initiative come in.

“By replacing or complementing petrol usage with CNG, that programme alone will cut transportation costs by as much as 50 per cent,” he claimed.

The minister called on religious leaders to assist in raising public awareness about government initiatives and efforts.

  • Religious leaders

He stressed the crucial role of the clergy in disseminating information about available opportunities and the government’s ongoing efforts.

“As a government, we need your support, advice, and feedback,” Idris stated.

“Very importantly, we need you to be aware of the efforts being made and the challenges being faced so that you can help us communicate these to your congregations and the general public,” he added.

The minister highlighted the influential platforms of religious leaders, noting their potential to enlighten Nigerians on their rights, responsibilities, and the economic opportunities provided by the policies under the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

The agenda, he noted, aimed to promote economic rebirth, strengthen national security, boost agriculture and food security, and transform infrastructure and transportation.

“Information and awareness are critical, and this is where our religious leaders come in. You have very influential platforms that can enlighten Nigerians on their rights, responsibilities, and the abundance of economic opportunities being thrown up by the policies and programmes being implemented under the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu,” he explained.

In his remarks, the National President of the Charismatic Bishop Conference, Archbishop Leonard Kawas, reaffirmed the organisation’s unwavering support for Tinubu’s administration, emphasising their commitment to collaborative efforts to realise the nation’s collective aspirations.

  • ‘No agreement yet’

In their reaction to the President’s national broadcast, Adeyanju disagreed with Tinubu’s statement that his administration negotiated in good faith and with open arms with Organised Labour on the new national minimum wage.

Tinubu during his broadcast stated, “In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organised Labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

“In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

“No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

“Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themes shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy.”

But Adeyanju in a statement dismissed the President’s assertion, insisting that he might have been misled by his advisers, noting that two figures- N250,000 from Organised Labour and N62,000 from the government and the OPS- were arrived at and ought to have been submitted to Tinubu.

According to the NLC official, anything to the contrary is not only doctored but won’t be accepted by Labour.

The congress maintained its stance on the N250,000 minimum wage, rejecting the government’s offer of N62,000 as grossly inadequate.

The statement read in part, “The NLC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the Federal Government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components.

“Our demand still remains N250,000 only and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process.

“We are therefore surprised at the submission of Mr President over a supposed agreement. We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC.

“There was none and it is important that we let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix-up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage.”

Adeyanju alleged that the labour leaders were intimidated by security agencies during the minimum wage talks.

“Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the government and despite denials; recent statements by senior officials of the government reaffirmed our fears contrary to the assurances by the government.

“However, we remain assured that the President’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses,’’ he expressed optimism.

According to the union, the Democracy Day celebration was an opportunity for the President to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and the masses by shunning the advice that may be coming from ‘’those whose intentions were continuously focused on hurting Nigeria’s poor and struggling workers.’’

He appealed,  “Mr President should not allow these individuals and groups to sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty.

“The President’s advisers obviously did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed. It is therefore important that Mr President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent.

“Series of media propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government. “

The NLC noted that there was no agreement as regards the duration of the Minimum Wage Act.

“It is also important that Mr President should know that most of his officers are working round-the-clock to set up the leadership of congress and the trade unions.

“We never agreed on a five-year duration of the Minimum Wage Act, though we acknowledge that the President mentioned five years or less.

“We also agreed that inflation should be pegged at a level for a certain amount to be agreed as minimum wage. This is to bring clarity to what the report should contain.

“Once again, we reiterate that it will be extremely difficult for Nigerian workers to accept any national minimum wage figure that approximates a starvation wage. We cannot be working and yet remain in abject poverty.

“We seek justice, equity, and fairness for all Nigerians, and this we hope would also drive the actions of Mr President who promised a Living Wage to Nigerian workers. This is an opportunity to show that he listens to Nigerians as he promised,” the labour movement said.

  • OPS speaks

Also commenting on the presidential broadcast, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture, stated that no consensus had been reached on the national minimum wage.

The NACCIMA President, Dele Oye, who is part of the 37-member tripartite committee, said the panel was still in the middle of negotiation, faulting the contradictory statements being made on the talks.

“No agreement has been reached with Labour; however, it is wrong to make a press statement in the middle of negotiations apart from appealing to all parties involved to work harder to resolve outstanding issues, as the impasse is already creating uncertainty in the ability of businesses to make decisions,” he admonished.

In January, the government inaugurated the tripartite committee on the national minimum wage.

The committee was tasked with the responsibility of recommending a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

Over the past few months, the federal and state governments, organised labour, and representatives of the private sector have been deliberating on a new minimum wage for workers.

However, the demand by organised labour regarding the minimum wage has yet to be met.

On June 3, the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike to protest against the government’s inability to meet their minimum wage demand.

Twenty-four hours later, the labour unions “relaxed” the strike by one week.

 

Credit: The Punch

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