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Beyond Makama: Another storm in Kogi Assembly

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Beyond Makama: Another storm in Kogi Assembly

By Itodo Daniel Sule, Lokoja

The unfolding developments in the aftermath of Tuesday’s fracas at the Kogi State House Assembly, during which the member representing Igalamela/Odolu State Constituency, Friday Sani Makama, was beaten to a pulp by suspected thugs, seemed to have revealed higher dimensions to the power tussle in the state.

The House, on resumption from its recess on Tuesday, August 1 was thrown into confusion, following the invasion of the assembly by suspected thugs, who unleashed mayhem on some of the lawmakers and disrupted the plenary racing lawmakers to scamper for safety.

The hoodlums, after gaining entrance to the assembly premises, tried to force their way through the speaker’s entrance but were prevented by his orderlies.

They later went to the gallery from where they broke chairs and hurled them at the lawmakers.

The thugs reportedly descended on the member representing Igalamela/Odolu constituency, Friday Sani aka Makama, who was just resuming sitting after being reinstated by a state High Court.

Makama’s travails

Makama, who was at a time Majority Leader and vocal member of the House, was handed six months’ suspension on March 28 for allegedly engaging in anti-legislative activities by dragging the assembly to court.

Besides, his ordeal was also said to be a fallout of his alleged anti-government postures in the House, which Governor Yahaya Bello was reportedly not comfortable with.

The suspension followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by the member representing Ajaokuta Constituency, Hassan Abdullahi Bello, and seconded by Ahmed Mohammed.

In their contributions, members of the assembly said Sani Makama had always acted against the will of the House and, therefore, supported his suspension.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that Makama had challenged the creation of additional principal officers in the aftermath of the defection of some PDP lawmakers to the APC, and the failure of the House to recognize him as the minority leader as recommended by his party, the PDP.

Sani Makama therefore, filed a suit before the Kogi State High Court in Idah, seeking for a restraining order against two lawmakers – Minority Leader Godwin Osuyi (PDP, Ogori-Magongo) and the Deputy Minority Whip, Dr. Friday Alih (PDP, Ofu) from parading themselves as principal officers of the sixth assembly.

In the suit filed on March 27 against the Kogi State House of Assembly, the then speaker, Imam Ahmed, Godwin Osuyi, Governor Yahaya Bello, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Kogi State, Accountant -General of Kogi State and the state government, Sani Makama through his Counsel, P.U Ogbadu Esq, averred that “illegality and impunity cannot be a cornerstone in the administration of government.”

The lawmaker in his prayers said the 1st and 4th defendants had no powers to unilaterally create additional principal offices/positions or any office/position at all in the 1st defendant’s Assembly when there is no provision in any law or the rules of the 1st defendant enabling the action.

Therefore, in his judgement delivered on June 29, Justice Henry Olusuyi of the Kogi State High Court, held that the suspension of the lawmaker was an act of “legislative insolence,” which will not be allowed in any competent court of jurisdiction.

The court maintained that the suspension of the first defendant (Sani), who came to seek redress in court was invalid, illegal and unconstitutional, noting that the claimant has the right to sue the first defendant (State Assembly) as he can only be suspended when found wanting in House Rule 37 to 39 which is not related to the case in view.

Justice Olusuyi, therefore, reinstated him and ordered that his entitlements as a member of the House be given to him.

Olusuyi also in his ruling reserved the right of the House or the party to appoint the principal officers of the Assembly, especially that of the minority leader; and therefore denied the claimant right to sought relief of judgement as the minority leader.

Following the judgment of the court, Makama resumed at the assembly on August 1, when suspected thugs invaded the House and unleashed mayhem on him.

He is said to be receiving treatment for the injuries he sustained during the fracas.

Speaker’s resignation and matters arising

Although the invasion of the assembly was widely believed to be targeted at Makama, but the unfolding development which saw the Speaker of the House, Umar Ahmed Imam, resigning from office under controversial circumstances shows that the whole scenario goes beyond Makama as a person.

Following Tuesday’s invasion, the speaker had announced an indefinite suspension of plenary but the order was hurriedly lifted 24 hours later, a development that saw Imam’s resignation and his subsequent replacement with the member representing Kabba-Bunu constituency, Matthew Kolawole.

It was, however, learnt from sources that Imam had to vacate his seat because of alleged “mounting plots by some external forces to have him impeached.”

The first speaker elected after the 2015 election, Momoh Jimoh Lawal, was equally forced to resign on July 26, 2016, after months of crises that rocked the house following the attempt to impeach him by five out of the then 23 members of the assembly.

He was thereafter replaced with Imam, who was recently said to have fallen out of favour with the powers-that-be in the state; leading to tension that has enveloped the assembly in the last few weeks.

A source close to the immediate past speaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said after the attack on the house on Tuesday, there were indications that Imam had also been pencilled down for attack by the hoodlums if he continued to lead the 25-member assembly.

“Those behind the crisis feel that the speaker has been too pro-people, and is supporting issues that have to do with the civil servants and speaking for the masses. They also feel that allowing Makama (Friday Sani) to resume sitting was an affront that may not let them achieve their aim in the house, “ he said.

Prior to the incident, the state House of Assembly had on Thursday, July 28 directed the state’s Accountant General, acting Head of Service, Commissioner for Finance and the Chairperson of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to appear before it, on Wednesday last week, to explain the accurate numbers of the state’s workforce that have been cleared and paid salaries from June 2015 till date.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Musa Jimoh Omiata (APC, Yagba East), who moved the motion, observed that most of the workers had claimed they were being owed as much as 15 months’ salary by the current administration.

Soon after he resigned, Imam had in his letter read on the floor of the house, on Thursday, thanked his colleagues in the legislature and his constituents for the support he enjoyed from them in the last one year.

His resignation came exactly a week after the 25-member house passed a vote of confidence on him.

He, , however, condemned Tuesday’s attack on the state assembly by thugs and called on security agencies in the state to bring the perpetrators to book.

“What transpired last Tuesday during plenary sitting; thugs desecrating the sanctity of this hallowed chamber, was undemocratic, a condemnable act of hooliganism and a criminal act and an attempted murder.

“This House should never have to experience a repeat of such barbaric acts. I still hope that the perpetrators will be brought to book,” he said.

‘Attach must be investigated’

Our correspondent reports that the house was in a pensive mood as the change in leadership was being effected.

Many members in their various contributions extolled the leadership prowess of the former speaker and urged the new leadership of the House to carry everybody along.

On his part, a civil right activist and Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Mr Idris Miliki, condemned the invasion of the house and called on relevant authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the incident.

“We call on the state government, under the leadership of Alhaji Yahaya Bello not to pretend that all is well in Kogi State and must act decisively as the father of the state to nip in the bud this kind of ugly incidence. Enough is enough. Kogi State cannot afford to continue to live in crisis,” Miliki said.

In the same vein, the Kogi State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, to order an investigation into the attack by those it described as “government sponsored thugs”.

The PDP in a statement signed by Dickson Achadu, its Director of Research and Documentation, lamented the level at which the state governor allegedly deployed government and security apparatuses to molest the innocent lawmaker.

But Governor Bello has denied having any hands in Tuesday’s attack at the state assembly as being alleged in some quarters.

Bello, who spoke through his Director General, Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, condemned the attack, describing it as the height of rascality and hooliganism.

He said even though what happened was purely an internal affair of the legislature which the executive should not be involved in, his administration would, however, not condone any act of thuggery.

The governor added that anyone found to have been involved in the invasion would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

According to Fanwo, the governor had ordered his Security Adviser, Navy Commander Jerry Omodara (rtd.), to liaise with security operatives to ensure that the perpetrators were brought to book.

In the same vein, the Kogi State Police Commissioner, Mr Wilson Inalegwu, has ordered a full scale investigation into Tuesday’s invasion of the state assembly.

A statement issued by the Command’s Spokesman, Mr Williams Aya, said that the commissioner has also warned that anyone found culpable would be prosecuted.
Culled from the Daily Trust

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Jigawa PDP expels 2019 Guber candidate, Ringim

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Jigawa PDP expels 2019 Guber candidate, Ringim

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Jigawa State has expelled its 2019 gubernatorial candidate, Mallam Aminu Ringim from the party over what it reffered to as antiparty activities and sabotage.
Mallam Aminu Ringim contested against the APC’s gubernatorial candidate now governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar in 2015 and 2019 but lost.
The state chairman of the party Babandi Gumel made the disclosure in a Statement on Tuesday.
He explained that the embattled gubernatorial candidate refused to make himself available before the disciplinary Committee of the party to answer allegations of antiparty and sabotage leveled against him by his ward executive of the party.

He said the State Party Executive Committee took the decision sequel to a letter it received from the Ringim Ward of the party.
“About three weeks ago we received a letter that due to antipathy activities and party sabotage being perpetrated by the former Party Governorship candidate in the 2015 and 2019 elections in the State Mallam Aminu Ibrahim Ringim was suspended for a month.
“The letter was sent to us the State executive committee of the party, we looked into the letter vis-a-vis the constitution of the party.
“The constitution provided that we set up a committee to investigate the matter which we did.”
He indicated that since there were two parties to the issue, the committee decided to invite both; that is the ward executive of the party and the person under investigation.
“After the invitation the committee under the chairmanship of Alhaji Muhammad Daguro confirmed to us that the said allegations of Antiparty and sabotage were actually perpetrated by the said person.
The chairman added that a letter of invitation to him on two consecutive ocasions were not honored as he failed to appear before the committee

The ward committee therefore advised the State executive committee to take necessary action which was to expel him from the party.
The state PDP chairman said the committee has endorsed the recommendations adding that the State executive took the decision on Tuesday after a meeting of the members.
Gumel said his committee has ratified the expulsion recommended by the ward committee of his ward.
“We wrote another letter to him to urge him to stop parading himself as a member of the PDP in Jigawa.”

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INEC fears for 2023 election resonates as it raises concern over hurdles for voters access to polling units

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INEC fears for 2023 election resonates as it raises concern over hurdles for voters access to polling units

By Sunday Joseph

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission Professor Mahmood Yakubu has asked the National Assembly to assist its plan to convert polling points into polling units to overcome the hiccups in voter access to polling units.

Speaking on Tuesday at the joint committee of the national Assembly on INEC and Electoral matters during a consultative meeting to convert polling points into polling units, he said,

“The Commission has in the last three electoral cycles made use of Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements as interim solutions for the declining voter access to Polling Units.

“These are well known by stakeholders and accepted by voters.
Consequently, converting them to fullfledged Polling Units is a cost effective and timely way of addressing the problem.

“As the Commission prepares to recommence the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), as required by the Electoral Act, it is important to conclude the issue of expanding voter access to Polling Units in order to assign voters to new Polling Units during the CVR.”
He said the issue has become so critical that it must be addressed urgently if the credibility of the country’s electoral system is not to be profoundly damaged.
Yakubu reiterated the fact that voter access to Polling Units is at the heart of the voting rights of Nigerians and therefore to democracy.
However, he said Voter access to Polling Units goes beyond the establishment of Polling Units, but also entails
their location in accessible places and ensuring that the environment of each Polling Unit guarantees observance of the Commission’s guidelines.
He said it should also be able to ensure safer voter experience on Election-Day, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, “Over politicization underscored by unfounded conspiracy theories has been a major obstacle to
expanding voter access to Polling Units.
“This has caused unnecessary delays in establishing and relocating Polling Units prior to major elections.
Declining access to Polling Units for Nigerian voters is potentially disenfranchising.
He said, the problem affects every part of the country hence he called for a national consensus built on genuine
consultations to address it.
“Stakeholders have a central role to play in addressing the challenge, especially by committing to
supporting the Commission’s efforts to finding solutions and assisting to depoliticize the issue.

According to him, without the full understanding and support of the major stakeholders in the country no lasting solution to the problem is possible.
“Experiences from other jurisdictions across the world show that continuously
expanding voter access to Polling Units is a good practice.
“These experiences also show that the problem of declining access to Polling Units is not unique to Nigeria.
“In most countries, however, expanding
voter access to Polling
Units is essentially the administrative responsibility of agencies charged with the function by law.

He said INEC will be failing in its responsibility if it does not address the declining voter access to Polling Units across the country prior to upcoming major elections.

“Section 42 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) empowers the Commission to establish adequate number of Polling Units and to assign voters to them.”

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‘Buhari’s stance on priority for his supporters gives room for Biafra Agitation’

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‘Buhari’s stance on priority for his supporters gives room for Biafra Agitation’

Senator  representing Abia South senatoria District who is the Senate minority leader has blamed President Muammadu Buhari for the sustained agitation by Indegenous people of Biafra for a seperate country, that should be known as Biafra.
In a book he presented, Monday at Yaradua Center in Abuja, which was reviewed by Segun Adeniyi, Abaribe had asked rhetorically that given all the advantages that the Indigbo have in Nigeria why the clamor by its youths and others for a seperate State of Biafra?
He located the cause of the problem in the Freudian slip by President Muhammadu Buhari shortly after assuming office in 2015 when he said, those who gave him 5% of the votes in the election that brought him to power should not expect the same attention and patronage as those who gave him 97% of the votes.
“That the distribution of opportunities in the last six years have followed that formular to the disadvantage of Igbo people, is what the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) and its sympathizers use as excuses for their campaign.
However, on President Buhari’s groundstanding Abaribe also argue is a temporary problem since he (Buhari) would not be in power forever using another Igbo adage to explain his reasoning, ‘A 100years is not the same as forever’
He reminded Nigerians that Igbos continue to carry stars and he drew memory from the Nigeria struggle to create an equitable country saying they have traversed countries and are to be found settled all over Nigeria.
In the face of prevailing circumstances where there is a constant cry of marginalization he counseled that Ndigbo should negotiate their place in a restructured Nigeria where power is devolved to the federating units.
He punctured holes in the clamour for secession by IPOB and the manner the operatives demonise respective Igbo citizens who disagrees with their agitation.

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