The Adamawa State Election Petition Tribunal on Thursday dismissed petition challenging the election of Ishaku Abbo representing Adamawa North, thereby affirming his election.
The tribunal also affirmed the election of Senator Binos Yaroe of Adamawa South; Abdulrazak Namdas representing Ganye, Jada, Toungo Mayo Belwa Federal Constituency and Kwamoti Laori representing Demsa, Numan, Lamurde Federal Constituency.
The three man panel chaired by Justice Suleiman Akanbi dismissed the petitions over failure to provide concrete evidence to back allegations and claims that the election was marred with corrupt practices, rigging, irregularities, and over-voting.
Justice Akanbi said the petitioner challenging Abbo’s victory, Senator Binta Masi, failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, prompting him to dismiss the case for lack of merit.
The petition filed by Senator Ahmad Mo-Allahyidi challenging the victory of Yaroe was also dismissed for lack of merit.
Some of the counsels applauded the outcome of the judgement while others say they will appeal their cases.
Both Senator Abbo and Senator Yaroe told Channels Television in separate interviews that their victory at the tribunal shows the credibility of Nigeria’s judicial system.
Similarly, the tribunal dismissed the petition filed by Muktar Kabiru of PDP challenging the victory of Abdulrazak Namdas of the APC.
The court also affirmed the election of Honourable Kwamoti Laori of the PDP dismissing Ovaldi Madayi’s petition of the APC for lack of merit.
These cases mark the end of the National and State Assembly election petitions in Adamawa State command except for those heading for the appeal courts.
John Dyegh who represents Benue State from the North Central stated that the Party is yet to give cogent reasons why other aspirants cannot contest.
“The North Central zone has not been convinced or given reasons why their votes should not count and why we cannot run. We feel very strongly that there is still room for negotiation because we believe it is not over until it is over.”
Meanwhile, a lawmaker from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mark Gbillah, warned that the ruling APC should not rule out the eventual outcome of the election.
“There is no way 140 cannot sway the votes of whoever emerges; that is why it is an exercise in futility for the APC to think that they alone can deliver the speaker.”
The APC adopted the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, as its candidate for the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 9th Assembly.
The position was reached after an intensive deliberation with the party’s House of Representatives members-elect at a dinner with President Muhammadu Buhari in April at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The election which is scheduled in May, will decide the eventual speaker of the next assembly.
The Senate has passed the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill thereby giving approval for the establishment of the Nigerian Peace Corps as an agency under the Ministry of Interior.
The Bill which gives legal backing to the Nigerian Peace Corps was passed after the Chairman Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Bayero Nafada gave a presentation of the highlights of the bill prepared by the committee before lawmakers at plenary.
In his presentation, Senator Nafada noted that the establishment of the organisation would empower, develop and provide employment for the youths, facilitate Peace and Volunteerism as well as Community Services, Neighbourhood Watch and Nation-building.
The Committee on Interior is also recommending that the Nigerian Peace Corps and the National Unity and Peace Corps should be merged as one, since both formations appear the same.
The House of Representatives has described former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo as the ‘grandfather of corruption’ and accused him of introducing corruption to the National Assembly in 1999.
This comes as a reaction to Obasanjo’s criticism of the National Assembly at an event on Wednesday, where he asked the federal government to extend its anti-corruption fight to the legislature.
Obasanjo stunned listeners with his address on ‘Governance and Accountability’, dwelling on the need for government to replicate the anti-corruption fight in the judiciary in the legislature.
The elder statesman shared some recommendations on how to wipe out corruption in the legislature.
At a press conference by the Chairman of House Committee on Media and Publicity, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, on Thursday, the House described the ex-president as a blackmailer, acting as a lifetime opposition leader.
“He ventured to accuse the National Assembly of budget padding, accused the House of criminal activities of threatening the life of a “whistleblower”, lampooned constituency projects which he approved as President, ventured to discuss the budget of National Assembly which is highly underfunded?
“The House of Representatives would ordinarily not join issues with the former President as he has held an office that deserves respect and reverence.
“However, because of the material misstatement of facts, outright lies and falsehoods, and mischievous innuendo introduced in his statement, we are left with no option but to correct him.”
Mr Namdas went on to address all issues raised by the ex-President during the controversial lecture:
“We have repeatedly maintained that there was no “padding” of the 2016 Appropriation Act, which is a legitimate document passed by the National Assembly, authenticated by the Clerk to the National Assembly as provided in the Acts Authentication Act and assented to by Mr. President…
“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no crime that was committed by the National Assembly by exercising its constitutional function of appropriation. If Chief Obasanjo has an issue with the execution of the 2016 Budget or indeed other Appropriation Acts, he should direct his anger elsewhere.
“He claimed that the National Assembly Budget is very high, when by all standards, the National Assembly is grossly underfunded and is hampered from effectively and legitimately carrying out its constitutionally assigned functions. The National Assembly Budget funds a bureaucracy of about 5,000 civil servants. It has some other agencies under its preview such as the National Assembly Service Commission with its own staff of about 500, even the Public Complaints Commission is now a parastatal of the National Assembly. National Assembly Budget also funds the National Institute for Legislative Studies, which is a legislative think-tank and highly rated academic institution that serves both National and State Houses of Assembly and even international legislators.
“All these agencies also have their capital budget including development of their headquarters, procurement of office equipment, procurement of regular items for running their offices; the National Assembly maintain legislative aides of about 3,000 in number, that aid the work of the Assembly; it also conducts regular public hearings involving the media and stakeholders and oversight activities, involving huge sums of money. The cost implications of running the National Assembly is high because of the nature of our Presidential democracy.
“Then of course, there are 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives that require proper equipment to function effectively. They require adequate travel and transport support to carry out legislative functions. The National Assembly also has buildings and offices to build and maintain. National Assembly staff and members attend conferences, trainings, seminars to keep abreast of legislative developments worldwide. The activities are very encompassing and expensive.
“It is also unbecoming of a former President to quote figures of sums of money that are factually incorrect. No member of the House of Representatives receives N10m every month. The salaries and allowances of members of the House are as determined by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
“Of course further sums of money are spent as running costs, that is, the cost of running the office of a member. If a Minister, Chief Executive or Director in a Ministry travels on official duties, for instance, do you include the cost of his ticket and accommodation as part of his salary or allowances? Does the cost of stationeries and maintenance of equipment like computers used in their offices, form part of their salaries and allowances? These are some of the costs that must be taken care of by the National Assembly and the media calls these costs “jumbo pay”. For goodness sake, the National Assembly is an arm of government, not just an ordinary agency of government.
“The budget of many agencies in the Executive Branch are indeed higher than the current Budget of the National Assembly that is an arm of government. Examples abound, CBN, NNPC, NCC etc. Allowances paid to even junior staff of some of these government agencies cannot be compared to what members of National Assembly enjoy.
“Undoubtedly, the former President Obasanjo is understandably angry with the National Assembly as an institution having foiled his ambition for a third-term in office even after trying to corrupt the members with a bribe of at least N50m each. Lest we forget, the person who introduced corruption to the National Assembly is Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He birthed the 4th Republic National Assembly with corrupt practices from day one; indeed the first day of the Republic. He bribed both PDP, ANPP and AD legislators on their inauguration in 1999 to vote against the majority candidate of PDP, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. That was how Senator Evan Enwerem became Senate President.
“Have we forgotten the sacks of money displayed on the floor of the House of Representatives being bribe money paid by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to some Honourable members to impeach Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ghali N’abba?
“Have we forgotten that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo used his position as President to extort money from businessmen and contractors with his government to build his presidential library?
“The list of his corrupt acts while in office is endless. Unquestionably, he is the greatest corrupt person ever to hold office in Nigeria. He remains the grandfather of corruption in Nigeria and lacks the moral authority to discuss corruption or indeed abuse of office in Nigeria as he remains the most corrupt Nigerian on record.
“It is unfortunate that he has started his very familiar method of bringing down governments. He did it to Alhaji Shehu Shagari, he did it to Gen. Buhari, he did same to Gen. Babangida, he attempted to bring down Gen. Abacha before he imprisoned him for treason; he made frantic efforts to derail the government of President Ya’ardua when he couldn’t use him. He supported President Goodluck Jonathan but when he refused to take dictation, he turned against him. He supported President Buhari, but since he has sensed that Nigeria is having economic difficulties under him, he has pounced to derail his government.
“The way Chief Obasanjo talks gives the impression that he is a lifetime opposition leader who has never held any office. What did he do about the issues he raised in his 8 years as President?
“This is a man with unlimited access to President Buhari. Or is it because he has not appointed all his cronies as requested? We may never know. His stuck in trade is blackmail, subversion and treachery.
Spokesman for the House Of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdaz, has insisted that the former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, went against the House rules.
He made this position known on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, while justifying Jibrin’s suspension from the House for 180 sitting days.
Addressing the issue, Honourable Namdaz described the decision of the House as fair, saying that the time frame of the decision was not limited.
He explained that the committee had enough time to decide the fate of Jibrin and so were not rushed to do their job, as the embattled lawmaker also did not show up to defend the allegations he made against the House of Reps.
According to him, Abdulmumin Jibrin “made petitions outside the House and it appeared as if he had more confidence in external institutions, which is why he did not approach the House when he felt aggrieved”.
“We have said it repeatedly that we have rules and if you have grievances, you have a right to express them”.
Mr Namdaz explained that Jibrin was given enough time to defend his case and despite being invited to present his case, he did not show up.
He said Jibrin wrote a letter to the chairman of the committee investigating the matter, stating conditions for his appearance, and that until the allegations were made public, he wasn’t appearing before the committee.
The spokesman stated that “the House is not concerned with specific allegations made by Jibrin, rather, it is concerned with the fact that Jibrin made those accusations to outside bodies rather than reporting his grievances to the internal bodies”.
In reaction to this, critics have accused the House of playing the roles of a judge by suspending Jibrin, while ignoring the basic issues which are centered on criminal activities.
The spokesman insisted: “Jibrin only submitted petitions to the EFCC and ICPC, so there has been no basis upon which the House can conduct any investigation against criminal cases.
“Now that he took the case outside, are we going to collect the petitions from the EFCC, to investigate our leaders?”
Reporting Caesar to Caesar
Providing a different perspective, legal practitioner, George Eke said that although the “National Assembly has its own rules as to how members conduct themselves”, the propriety of the case was an issue.
“Jibrin had exposed a number of awkward happenings in the National Assembly, however the concern for them is not on the content of his accusations, rather on the embarrassment this has caused to the image of the House.
“Is there no time when the National Assembly would worry about the allegations made by Jibrin, who said they had fraudulently padded the budget?
“In any case, we don’t expect Jibrin to report the individuals to the National Assembly, as that would be a case of reporting Ceaser to Ceaser,” he added.
Honourable Jibrin on the hand, claims that the decision to suspend him contravenes the law, since there was a case in a court on the issue.
The former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, however awaits hearing of the suit he filed against the Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara by a court in Abuja on October 21.
Embattled Kano federal lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has alleged that the sealing of his office was part of a plan to enable Speaker Yakubu Dogara destroy evidences of corruption allegations levelled against him.
Jibrin made this allegation in a statement on Friday, in reaction to the decision of the House to seal his office as it started implementing the resolution to suspend Abdulmumin Jibrin for 180 sitting days.
“As you may all be aware, the Sergeant-At-Arm of the National Assembly stormed and sealed my office on the instruction of Speaker Dogara yesterday.
“The office was purportedly sealed as a consequence of my illegal suspension but the truth was to enable the Speaker lay hands (on) and destroy evidence.
“The media witnessed the volumes of 2016 budget documents and 53 files that were carted away from my office and handed to Speaker Dogara. I have exercised extreme caution and refused to touch any document in my office since the crisis started.
“I have raised alarm that Dogara wants to destroy evidence but the good news is that we have more than enough already in case of prosecution.
“The whole country watched for two months as Speaker Dogara was accorded all the time he needed to lobby around, clear his desk and now destroy evidence.
“Nigerians must all rise up and demand that Speaker Yakubu Dogara produce all the 2016 budget documents and 53 files carted away from my office,” he said.
But Jibrin has since described his suspension as inconsequential and part of plans to persecute him for standing against acts of corruption by the leadership of the House and some members.
Vulnerable and Humiliated
In his latest reaction to the sealing of his office, he further lamented: “I was not even allowed to take away my personal belongings.
“Hon Jibrin must be dealt with and disgraced by all means. Speaker Dogara is playing God. I have become vulnerable in the face of frequent threats to my life and some of the security personnel attached to me were suddenly withdrawn.
“Here we are talking about the fight against corruption. Today, I am being humiliated and my crime is simply exposing corruption in high places. Who will want to take such risk in future? I have said repeatedly that this episode is a defining moment for the fight against corruption in Nigeria
“I wish to plead to the general public that we should concentrate on the grievous allegations I have raised rather than unfairly attacking me the messenger.
“The fact that I am raising corruption allegations does not confer on me any immunity from being investigated if allegations are raised against me.
“I have not stopped any of the 359 members of the House from signing corruption petition against me but none has done so because there is nothing!
“Only faceless and discredited individuals and groups are used to divert attention by spreading allegations that all turned out false.”
The House of Reps has commenced investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct against three House members who attended the International Visitor Leadership programme in the United States of America.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Rep Abdulrazak Namdas, said this on Friday while addressing journalists at a briefing in Abuja.
He confirmed the receipt of a letter from the Ambassador of the United States to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, who lodged a formal complaint to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Mr Namdas gave the assurance that the outcome of the investigation would be made known in due time.
The House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory over an alleged breach of the 1999 Constitution in the implementation of the Federal Capital Territory Internal Revenue Services Act 2015.
The sponsor of the motion, Rep Abdulrazak Namdas, informed the House that the Minister has signed an agreement with the Federal Inland Revenue Service to collect taxes for the FCT, in breach of the existing law.
The Minister is to appear before the House to explain the reason for taking such a step and why his decision must not be reversed.
The Committee on FCT has been mandated to look into the matter and report back to the House in two weeks.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, maintains that the Senate and House of Reps are united in their decisions on the 2016 budget and that there is no disagreement between the two chambers.
This is following the recent controversy on the passing of 2016 budget.
Speaking in an interview, the lawmaker said everybody agrees that the Lagos-Calabar rail line project is important and something must be done to address its omission in the budget.
“Overall, let me be very clear, we are very united on this subject matter, we are not averse to that project and we are in total support of that project.
“The question remains that yes its been omitted, what do we do? I think that is where we should begin to put our energy,” he said.
He gave the assurance that both the Senate and House of Reps are committed to ensuring good governance in the country.
“Nigerians shouldn’t think we are on different pages… We want to assure Nigerians that our successful working together within us first internally – within the chambers and between the two chambers, is key to the progress that can be achieved.
“Then the National Assembly and the Executive; our successful working relationship is key to the progress that can be made and I think Nigerians should help us to promote that, rather than trying to throw issues that will rather create disharmony and divisions.”
The House of Representatives in Nigeria says it is prepared to re-examine the 2016 budget to ensure that the appropriation bill is a workable document.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, hinted of the lawmakers’ preparedness after a closed door session on Wednesday.
At the meeting, the lawmakers discussed the 2016 budget and the disagreements that trailed its passage.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, the spokesman of the House, Representative, Abdulrazak Namdas, said the House was yet to receive any formal communications from the President regarding any concern with the budget.
He said the speaker would meet with the President to identify possible areas of concern.
After the National Assembly returned the scrutinised and approved budget to the executive, there were reports that the budget had been distorted, with some items missing while fresh items were added.
One of such items that have become controversial is the Lagos-Calabar Rail Project, which reports quote the executive as saying that it was included in the budget sent to the National Assembly.
The Ministry of Budget And Planning has come out with its position on the controversies surrounding the 2016 budget.
The ministry in a statement said the President is yet to take a position on the budget after receiving the budget details from the National Assembly on April 7.
On the controversial Calabar-Lagos rail project, the ministry confirmed that there were indeed some errors in the initial budget proposal sent to the National Assembly by the President in December.
The statement, however, added that the errors were corrected, submitted and subsequently accepted by the relevant committees of the National Assembly.
The statement read in part, “It must be emphasized that the two rail projects are part of those for which the President is currently negotiating funding with the Chinese government.
“The 60billion Naira provided in the budget for the Lagos – Kano and Calabar – Lagos rail lines, respectively, is counterpart funding, to support the Chinese financing for the projects.
“These projects are part of the strategic implementation plan of the government which was disclosed by the Minister of Budget and National Planning at The National Economic Council retreat in March 2016, in the presence of state governors.”
The statement added that it was the corrected version that was defended by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and his team.
It has been a tug of war between the executive and the legislature over the 2016 budget, as the National Assembly insists that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was excluded from the budget.
At a news conference in Abuja, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, insisted that there was no project as to Lagos-Calabar rail in the 2016 appropriation bill presented by President Buhari to the National Assembly.
He criticised the late presentation of the project by Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi.
Also, in a strongly worded press statement, the spokesperson of the Senate, accused the Presidency of setting Nigerians against the National Assembly.
He accused the Minister of Transport of mischief and demanded an apology from him if he is not able to show evidence that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was included in the budget, otherwise he should resign forthwith.
In another development, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, confirmed that although the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not in the original document presented to the National Assembly by the executive, the Minister of Transport later informed the Transport Committee of the omission and sent a complimentary copy of the Ministry’s budget to the committee with the inclusion of the Lagos-Calabar rail project.