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JONATHAN SUBMITS APC FORMS FRIDAY, EMEFIELE SHUNS RESIGNATION CALLS

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Ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s backers in the All Progressives Congress on Thursday pressed on with the moves to field the ex-President as the APC’s consensus presidential candidate.

The Fulani group, which on Monday obtained the APC’s N100m presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for Jonathan,  said on Thursday that it would submit the forms on Friday.

The group stated this as three presidential appointees on Thursday challenged the directive of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that all political appointees contesting the 2023 elections should resign.

Also, there were indications on Thursday that the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, would not heed the call for him to resign before the APC primaries scheduled for  May 30.

His lawyer,  Mike Ozekhome (SAN),  told The PUNCH that if he was going to resign, he would only do so 30 days before the 2023 elections.

The Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed,  after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, disclosed that the President had directed members of his cabinet contesting parties’ primaries to resign on or before Monday.

Before the presidential directive, the  Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, had tendered his resignation.

A few hours after the FEC meeting, the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, and his counterpart for Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu, also resigned.

On Thursday, the President extended the resignation order to other appointees, including  Emefiele.

The directive, which was contained in a circular by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha,  was issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.

The circular was addressed to all serving ministers, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, National Security Adviser; Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission; the CBN governor, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service and heads of extra-ministerial departments, Directors-General/Chief Executive Officers of parastatals, agencies and government-owned companies among others.

But three presidential appointees were at a Federal High court in Abuja to challenge the threat to disqualify them if they failed to resign.

The first plaintiff, Sodique Abubakar claimed to be a political appointee and currently serving as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Chad.

The second plaintiff, Sodique Lawal Abubakar,  claimed to be a Special Assistant in the Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA while the third defendant, Bindir Umar Buba, asserted to be National Coordinator, Social Investment Programme in the Ministry of Humanitarian.

The aspirants are praying the court to stop APC and Independent  National Electoral Commission from disqualifying them on the strength of their being political appointees and Section 84 (11) and (12) of the Electoral  Act 2022.

The processes of the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/641/2022, instituted on their behalf by Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) were obtained by journalists in Abuja on Thursday.

The three plaintiffs are contending that Section 84 (11) and  (12) of the new Electoral Act is discriminatory against them and unconstitutional and therefore should not be permitted by the court to be used to disqualify them on account of their mere political appointment.

 The plaintiffs in their originating summons filed want the court to determine whether being Nigerians covered by Sections 66, 177 and 182 of the 1999 constitution can be subjected to any other conditions, rules or guidelines for the purpose of election into the office of the Governor of Bauchi State and House of Representatives respectively by APC under section 221 of the Constitution other than the qualifications and criteria set out in sections 66, 177 and 182 of the Constitution.

They also ask the court to determine whether being card-carrying members of the APC and political appointees,  they can be prevented or barred from participating in its political convention, congress or primaries merely because they are political appointees.

2023: Emefiele ‘ll resign on moral grounds, not law, says Ozekhome

Lawyer to the CBN governor, Dr Mike Ozekhome (SAN),  in an interview with  The PUNCH, insisted that his client would only resign on moral grounds and not on points of law.

He however said the decision to quit would be left to the President and Emefiele.

Emefiele had through Ozekhome applied for an order of status quo ante bellum to be made against INEC and AGF so that he would not be made to resign from office until 30 days to the 2023 general elections.

The plaintiff in an ex-parte application had also denied being a political appointee but a public servant not caught by section 84 (12) of the new Electoral Act 2022.

The CBN governor had asked the court to invoke Section 318 of the 1999 constitution to bar the defendants from asking him to vacate office until 30 days to the February 2023 Presidential election.

Emefiele had expressed apprehension that the sale and submission of the presidential nomination form would expire on Wednesday and that unless the INEC and AGF were ordered to maintain status ante bellum as of May 5 when he filed the suit, he would be made to vacate office before his form would be accepted by the appropriate authority.

But Ozekhome told The PUNCH that while the choice to resign was left for the Presidency and his client, the CBN governor would only resign on moral grounds and not on points of law.

He said, “Whether he (Emefiele) goes or not is his own decision, he has told me to take up the legal aspect for him, that if he wants to go at all, he is entitled to stay in office 30 days to the general elections.

“But it is now left for him to go even before the case is decided or after. But at least the law would have decided.

“Yes, it (resignation) is left for him but not because of legal requirements. If he wants to go,  it will be on moral ground, not because the law says he must go now.

Emefiele not a political appointee – Lawyer

“We are talking of the constitution here, we are talking of Section 137 (1g) and Section 318 of the constitution which makes him a public officer and the Court of Appeal decision that Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act is unconstitutional and that Section cannot even apply to him because Emefiele is not a political appointee within the meaning of Section 84 (12).

“If he decides to go, it will be on moral ground not on the legal or constitutional ground because the law does not say he must go. It is entirely his own decision and the decision of the President who appointed him not because that is the position of the law.

“The Court of Appeal yesterday (Wednesday) said Section 84, Sub-section 12 of the Electoral Act (as amended) is unconstitutional for being inconsistent with Section 42 Sub-section 1 of the 1999 constitution which gives the right to freedom of assembly and association.

“But our argument actually goes beyond that;  our argument is that Section 84, whether it was validated or not, does not apply to Godwin Emefiele, that section applies only to political appointees, Godwin Emefiele is not a political appointee, Godwin Emefiele is a public officer within the meaning of Section 318 of the constitution of Nigeria.

“And by virtue of Section 137 Sub-section 1(g), a public officer like Emefiele is only required by the constitution to give 30 days notice before the presidential election which is slated for  February 25 2023, that is the position of the law.

“The question of whether Emefiele will leave office during this case, before the case is ended or after the case, is entirely left to him and the President who appointed him. I wasn’t briefed to handle the moral and administrative angle to this case, I was briefed to handle only the legal and constitutional area and that is what I have just told you, that is the position of the law.”

PDP, others join Emefiele’s suit

A new twist emerged at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday evening as the Peoples Democratic Party and two others joined in the suit by  Emefiele, seeking to enforce his right to participate in the 2023 presidential election without re-signing.

The court had on Monday adjourned to Thursday to enable INEC and the AGF to appear before it to explain why the court should not restrain them from preventing the CBN Governor from realizing his political ambition by participating in all the processes leading to the 2023 presidential election.

However, when the matter was called on Thursday, both INEC and AGF were in court in line with the order of the court.

However, instead of proceeding with the case of the CBN Governor, two lawyers stood up to announce appearances for their clients.

First was Chief Sebastiane Hon, (SAN), who informed the court of the intention of his client, the PDP to join as an interested party, which was immediately followed by one John Martins and Olukunle Ebun, who told the court that they were sueing for themselves and on behalf of the Save Nigeria our Fatherland.

Responding, Emefiele’s lawyer, who did not oppose the applicants joining the suit, undertook to serve the applicants with all processes within 24 hours.

After a meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, Emefiele told journalists that his fate was still being decided as regards the controversies surrounding his presidential bid.

This is as he said that despite the current outrage by Nigerians, the main opposition, PDP, and the international community, he was ‘having fun.’

Following his meeting with the President on  Thursday, the CBN Chief told State House Correspondents “there will be news”.

The Governor had earlier gone to court to challenge the public service rule that requires public office holders to resign their positions before contesting for elective positions.

Asked to respond to reports that Buhari had directed him to resign he said: “There is no news now, but there will be news. You heard me, I said there is no news but there will be news”.

When confronted with the notion that his current position as a presidential aspirant and CBN governor is a major point of concern for the Nigers and even the international community, Emefiele noted “Let them have heart attacks. It’s good to have a heart attack. I am having a lot of fun.”

The main opposition, PDP, after its 96th National Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday night restated its call for Emefiele’s sack, arrest and investigation.

Speaking shortly after the meeting the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said “NEC restated the call by the Party for the immediate resignation, arrest and prosecution of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, for alleged manipulations and financial impropriety in the CBN which contributed to the collapse of our national economy.

Buhari’s resignation order to save APC, candidates from loss – Presidency

In a related development, the Presidency on Thursday said political appointees contesting in the 2023 general elections were asked to resign to save the APC  from doom in the controversy over Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022.

According to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the ruling APC is playing safe until the Supreme Court gives the final interpretation of the controversial section of the Act.

Adesina, while speaking on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television, on Thursday, recalled how the President issued the directive at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.

He said, “The FEC meeting had held and we were closing. That was when the President now addressed the gathering, that some were interested in running for positions. He was specific about the position of the President.  He said those who had collected forms to run for the Office of the President, that it was advisable that they tendered their resignation. And it was in good order for those who had purchased forms to run and for the government.

“One, those who had signified their interest to run could concentrate in their ambitions. If they stayed in the government and they were running their ministries, and then they were also running  their political campaigns, it is a distraction. They can’t concentrate. So, it was in their interest that the President said that. (Two), it was also in the interest of the government in that government’s work would not suffer.

PUNCH

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[BREAKING] ENUGU 2023: EKWEREMADU’S CAMP LOSES IN COURT

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Senator Ike Ekweremadu in a pensive mood

The last hope for Ekweremadu’s camp to usurp the outcome of last Ad-Hoc election to elect the 3-man delegates in Enugu has hit the rock as an Abuja Federal High Court has dismissed their applications.


Loyalists of Ike Ekweremadu, the former Deputy Senate President had approached the court to nullify the process leading to the election of the delegates.

However, a source at the court where the judgement is been delivered at the time of this report told WORDS AND SHOTS that the matter has gone against the plaintiffs

 The details of the judgment coming shortly.

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2023 PRESIDENCY: APC TO SCREEN, PRUNE NUMBER OF ASPIRANTS

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APC

• Fayemi: Only five aspirants are serious • Nwajiuba backs party on controversial letter of withdrawal • Ohanaeze Ndigbo upbeat about Igbo producing next president

Barring last minute changes, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will today screen its presidential aspirants for the 2023 general elections after earlier postponements.

This was announced, yesterday, by the National Organising Secretary of the party, Suleiman Argungu, in Abuja. He said the party will screen 28 presidential aspirants, though 25 submitted the nomination forms, today and tomorrow at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja, four days to its convention where the party’s flag bearer would emerge.

Earlier on Sunday, the party had postponed the exercise for the second time after it failed to hold last weekend. But no reason was given for the change in plan. The party had previously fixed May 14 and 15 for the screening but it postponed the exercise and gave a new date of May 23 after aspirants for Senatorial and House of Representatives seats were screened.

Key aspirants that have submitted their forms include Vice President Yemi Osibanjo; APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu; ex-Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; former Minister of Niger Delta Development, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

Others are: Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade; his Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi; Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; ex-Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani; Senator Ajayi Borofice and Pastor Tunde Bakare.

Similarly, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello; his Jigawa State counterpart, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar; ex-Zamfara State governor, Sen. Ahmed Yerima; former Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; former Imo State governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha; former Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole are also not left out.

As at 6:30p.m. yesterday, members of the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) were still locked in a closed-door meeting in an apparent bid to ensure a smooth conduct of the exercise.

A source, who confided in The Guardian, hinted that members of the NWC already conferred with the powers of the National Executive Committee (NEC), explored the possibility of screening out some aspirants even before the start of the exercise.

“Be sure that we are not going to have more than 15 aspirants that would be screened. Some of them would be disqualified based on the timing they turned in their resignation letters to President Muhammadu Buhari,” the source noted.

Another source within the Presidency confided in The Guardian that geopolitical zones of the party had been asked to meet and work towards consensus in a bid to reduce the number of aspirants to the barest minimum.

“It is not a question of indecision; a lot of considerations are being taken into the choice of date, as well as the shape of the screening. A number of criteria have already been worked out. Security of the country is at stake. Of course, you cannot rule out the issue of corruption and other baggage.

“The screening would be carried out in such a manner that those that would be disqualified would have no cause to complain. I won’t tell you the crucial criteria that would lead to the disqualification, but some of those aspirants would be disqualified unless they voluntarily withdraw from the race,” he stated.

It would be recalled that in the build up to the APC national convention that produced Senator Adamu, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Public Affairs, Femi Adesina, disclosed that Buhari would not support any aspirant tainted with corruption.

In an interview with The Guardian, the Deputy Majority Leader, Prof. Ajayi Borofice, remarked that he is for consensus, noting that although many persons afforded the N100 million cost of nomination forms, the choice of Nigeria’s next president is beyond money and moneybags.

While ruling out a possible implosion after the presidential primary, the three-term Senator noted that since the party was able to hold a rancour-free national convention, the primary will also come and go since only one person is expected to emerge.

FAYEMI, yesterday, said there are more pretenders in the race for the APC presidential ticket than contenders. He said out of the 23 persons currently in the race, only about five of them are serious in the quest to clinch the ticket of the ruling party. He did not, however, name the five aspirants.

Fayemi said this while soliciting the support of delegates from Niger State during a visit to the state. In a statement by spokesperson of the Fayemi Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Ige, the Ekiti governor said the level of seriousness is determined by the ability of the aspirants to move across the country.

“This is a season of visits and states keep receiving us. The list of presidential aspirants says there are 23 but only five of us are going around the country. With this, you can separate the pretenders from the contenders,” he said.

Some of the aspirants who have visited states include Tinubu, Osinbajo, Amaechi, Lawan and Fayemi. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva and President of the Africa Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, have opted out of the race.

FORMER Minister of State for Education, Nwajiuba, yesterday, said he supports the decision by the party to attach the controversial letter of withdrawal to the Expression of Interest and Nomination forms sold to aspirants.

The withdrawal letter addressed to the National Chairman of the party, Adamu, must be signed before a Commissioner of Oath/Public Notary before submission.

Nwajiuba, in an interactive session with reporters in Abuja, enjoined delegates at the national convention of the party to set aside pecuniary interest and elect a flag bearer with the wherewithal to address the multifaceted challenges besetting the country.

Nwajiuba said the letter would come in handy if the party decides to adopt a consensus arrangement to select the flag bearer. He promised to accede to the party’s demand for a consensus arrangement if the need arises.

According to him: “It’s not possible to win an election without the consent of everybody. So why would you be saying I can only win if I am the most powerful. You can only win by consensus arrangement. So, whatever consensus my party agrees to, I will agree. If they choose me, it’s good for them and for Nigeria. If they don’t choose me, whoever they choose is what they plan to offer Nigerians and we will stand by the party.”

MEANWHILE, despite hurdles that have been placed in their quest for presidency come 2023, especially by the ‘open contest’ declared by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has insisted that Ndigbo would not lose out of the contest.

The Guardian gathered yesterday that the Ohanaeze leadership had since May 7, embarked on countrywide consultations with different ethnic groups on the need to support Igbo presidential aspiration.

Speaking yesterday on their visits, spokesman of the organisation, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, said the delegation held “fruitful discussions”, adding that there is no doubt that Nigerians have fully bought into the demand by the Southeast and would do the needful at the appropriate time.

Ogbonnia restated that Ohanaeze Ndigbo was not worried about ongoing scheming in the two leading political parties, stressing that “we have enough competent Igbo politicians in them to match whoever that may come up.”

THE GUARDIAN

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BANKY W WINS PDP HOUSE OF REPS TICKET IN LAGOS

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Mr Olubankole Wellington aka Banky W

A Nigerian celebrity, Mr Olubankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, was declared the winner of the PDP primary for the Eti-Osa constituency House of Representatives ticket in the 2023 general election.

Banky W had a landslide victory, polling 28 out of 31 votes cast by delegates at the primary.

He contested against a legal practitioner, Mr Sam Aiboni, who polled three votes.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the delegates consisted of 31 ad hoc members of the PDP and one national delegate.

The Returning Officer, Mr Ayodele Kazeem, who declared the results, described the process as peaceful and transparent.

Banky W told NAN that the election was a free and fair one, he stated that he had won the election by the grace of God and the will of the people.

He expressed gratitude to the party for the opportunity to represent it and said that he was very thankful to the people as well.

“I am overwhelmed by the support of my constituency, the people, the ward chairmen, the leaders and the chieftains of the party.

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“I feel the support even from the grassroots, honestly, I can’t be happier than I am now,” he said.

Banky added that he had a message, a vision and a mandate to do things better in the constituency and that he would achieve them through transparency, accountability and service.

“The real work begins now, the primaries are just the start and thankfully, we have the grace of God with us; we move,” he added.

NAN reports that if Rep. Babajide Obanikoro, son of former minister of state for defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro picks the APC return ticket in its upcoming primaries, he will be slugging it out with Banky W for the seat. (NAN)

PUNCH

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