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2019: Reps reaffirms change in order of re elections

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The House of Representatives yesterday adopted the conference committee report on electoral and political party matters for the conduct of 2019 general elections thereby annulling the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) elections time table.

INEC had on January 9, 2018 released the 2019 general election time table fixing the Presidential and National Assembly election for Saturday 16th February 2019, while Governorship and State Assembly elections will hold on Saturday 2nd March 2019.

But the House through an amendment of the electoral act on January 24, changed the order of elections fixing the National Assembly first, followed by the States Assemblies, Governorship and the Presidential election.

At yesterday’s consideration of the report of the conference committee on a bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act, No 6, 2010 and Electoral Amendment Act, 2015,  the House in the “committee of whole” presided by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, approved the harmonised report with the Senate.

Chairman of the House conference committee, Hon. Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau), in a brief to the House disclosed that both Houses agreed on seven grey areas that were of contention previously.

He explained that it was erroneous for some section of the public to believe that the powers to determine election sequence was not vested in the National Assembly.

According to him, during the first alteration of the 1999 constitution in 2010, in giving the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, first line charge, it was also stipulated that powers to fix election timetable shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, which obviously is in the jurisdiction of the National Assembly members who review the Act periodically to determine.

The House endorsed section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note “time for primaries of political parties” (a) the primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence (i) State House of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship (iv) president. “The dates for the above stated primaries shall not be held earlier than one hundred and twenty days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.”

The House endorsed the amendment of section 36 to allow running mate of any candidate that dies before the conclusion of elections inherit his votes and continue with the process.

According to the new section 36 (3), “If during the commencement of the poll, but before the conclusion of the elections for the office of the president or governor of a state, one of the nominated candidates of a political party dies, the commission shall allow the running mate, that is the party’s vice presidential candidate or deputy gubernatorial candidate to continue and conclude the poll and should he score the majority of the votes cast in accordance with the constitution, be declared the winner of the said election.”

Relatedly, amendment of section 35 also scaled through and it provided that if before election a candidate dies, he will be replaced by the next contestant with the highest vote. “Where a nominated candidate dies in the circumstances stated under subsection (1) of this section, the next person, from the same political party where the deceased emerged, with the second highest votes in the primary election shall be submitted to the commission to replace the deceased, and the commission shall accept such replacement as if the deceased is alive,” the amendment stated.

Also amended was section 143 with a new section 3 providing that “where the nomination of an elected candidate is nullified by the court and notice of appeal against the decision is given within the stipulated period for appeal, the elected candidate shall not, withstanding the contrary decision of the court, remain in office pending the determination of appeal.

“If the court determines that the candidate was not validly nominated, the elected candidate shall, notwithstanding the contrary decision of the court, remain in office within the period an appeal may be filed; and shall not be sanctioned for the benefits he derived while in office pursuant to this section”

Both houses also effected an increment in the limitation of election expenses to be incurred by candidates for presidential candidates from N1 billion to N5 billion; governorship from N200 million to N1 billion; while Senatorial and Representatives candidates are not to exceed N100 million and N70 million respectively. For State Assembly and chairmanship elections, candidates’ expenses have been raised from N10 million to N30 million while councillorship candidates’ ceiling has been raised from N1 million to N5 million. Similarly, individual contribution has been jacked up from N1 million to N10 million.

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2019: Isiaka resigns from PDP, says party’s crisis intractable

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Gboyega Isiaka

The Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in 2015, Prince Gboyega Isiaka, has resigned his membership of the party.

Isiaka, who said the decision was not an easy one for him, noted that the crisis rocking the party in the state had proved intractable ahead of another general election.

A copy of his resignation letter dated May 24 and addressed to the state PDP chairman, was obtained yesterday by Saturday Telegraph.

The Ogun PDP had been factionalised between loyalists of Senator Buruji Kashamu representing Ogun East Senatorial District and a House of Representatives member, Oladipupo Adebutu, from Remo Federal Constituency.

Isiaka, who had contested the governorship on two previous occasions, said he was leaving the PDP to continue his partisan political career “by charting a new course.”

He lamented that genuine steps taken by few patriots within the opposition party to close up the fault lines and return it to glory days have been to no avail.

The letter partly read, “I am using this medium to convey the decision to resign my membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), effective from today 24th May, 2018.

“This has not been an easy one for me as I recall with nostalgia, the opportunities and privileges which the membership of this party conferred on my political career; the peak of which was the kind consideration given me to be the flag bearer of the PDP in the last gubernatorial election in Ogun State.

“You will recall that the PDP, especially in our state, has been through a rough patch in the last couple of years, and after two successive electoral losses, the search for lasting peace is still elusive. Despite the genuine steps taken by few patriots within the party to close up the fault lines and return the party to glory days, all have been to no avail.

“With another election on the horizon and the perennial challenges of the party festering and proving to be intractable, I am left with no other choice but to continue my partisan political career by charting a new course where my philosophies and beliefs are aligned with good democratic ethos for the ultimate aim of promoting a better society.”

When contacted yesterday on Isiaka’s next political move, one of his media aides, Wale Junaid, said his principal is committed to contesting and winning the 2019 governorship in the state.

Junaid stated that the issue of whether the two-time gubernatorial candidate would join another political party or not would be addressed at the appropriate time.

He restated Isiaka’s commitment to running a welfarist and people-centred administration when he emerges as governor next yea

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Imo APC crisis: Okorocha meets Buhari again

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President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met behind closed doors with Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha and former Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Okorocha’s meeting with the president, which lasted for about an hour, came few days after he met the president in his country home, Daura, Katsina State. The governor had complaint about the conduct of the ward congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in his state. Okorocha, who was again accompanied by Oshiomhole, declined comment on the outcome of his meeting with the president.

NAN, however, gathered that Okorocha might have again lodged a fresh complaint about the way and manner the ward and local government APC congresses were conducted in Imo. It will be recalled that Okorocha had on May 7 in Daura, told newsmen after a closed-door meeting with Buhari that there was no ward congress in Imo. He said: “We expect internal democracy and internal democracy is the way to go.

Those kinds of funny politics that were played must stop, where people went to carry ballot boxes, steal results, looks so primitive. “I intimated Mr. President and we will make sure that such things must stop.’’

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Court grants Jang bail with N100m surety

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  • I hold no grudge against my oppressors, says ex-gov

A High Court sitting in Jos, the Plateau State capital, yesterday granted bail to the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Jonah Jang and a former cashier in the Office of the Secretary to Plateau State Government, Mr. Yusuf Pam, with two sureties each in the sum of N100 million and N50 million respectively. Jang is facing a 12-count charge bordering on alleged corruption and misappropriation.

The former governor is alleged to have misappropriated over N6 billion, two months to the end of his tenure as governor of Plateau in 2015. According to the charges, the former governor also embezzled over N4 billion from the state coffers through Pam Yusuf, who was a cashier in the office of the Secretary to the State Government.

Yusuf, who is a co-defendant in the suit against Jang, is also facing another case of allegedly enriching himself to the tune of N11 million. Counsel to the accused persons, Robert Clarke (SAN) had, on May 16, in a written application during their arraignment, prayed the court to grant his clients bail based on self-recognition, after both accused persons, Jang and Pam, pleaded not guilty to the crime. This was as the former governor yesterday said he was not holding any grudge against his oppressors.

While responding to the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), prayed the court not to grant the accused persons bail, stating that section 341 (2) of the 1999 Constitution said an offence which attracts an imprisonment of more than three years, was not bailable. Presiding judge, Justice Daniel Longji, while ruling on the bail application by the lead accused counsel, Clarke, said the first accused and former governor was to provide two sureties with the sum of N100 million only, among which one must be a first class traditional ruler within the jurisdiction of the court.

On the second accused, Mr. Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Justice Longji also granted him bail to provide two sureties in which one must be a permanent secretary in the civil service or anybody of that rank.

Justice Longji also directed the first and the second accused to submit their international passports to the chief registrar of the court. The judge had, however, adjourned the case to 17th, 18th and 19th of July, 2018 for definite hearing. Meanwhile, Jang yesterday said in a statement that the burden he was carrying in his heart was not of grudges against those against him. He said: “The burden I carry in my heart is not of grudges against those against me, but of gratitude for those who have endured difficult conditions to stand with me through this ordeal.

“I am convinced beyond doubts that your labour of love shall not be in vain. May God bless you for remembering me in my hour of distress.” Jang, who was the former governor of Plateau State from 2007 to 2015, said: “For over a week, I was kept in detention by the EFCC, deprived of the inalienable right to personal freedom and association.

” The senator said his lawyers had instituted a case at the FCT High Court and that he would pursue the matter to its logical conclusion. According to him, “If the laws of our country are still potent under the current circumstances, my detention constitutes a gross abuse of the fundamental rights guaranteed me as a law-abiding citizen as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

“Where the constitution provides for an accused person to be charged to court within one day, I was held by the EFCC for over a week in flagrant disregard to the letters and spirit of the supreme document which legitimises the very existence of our country.”

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