The Senate has waded into the controversy surrounding the invasion of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
This comes one week after DSS operatives in at least three pickup trucks stormed the court on Friday last week in a bid to rearrest Mr Omoyele Sowore, barley 24 hours after he was released.
In the process, there was a scuffle as Sowore’s supporters staged a strong resistance after which his lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, stated that it was wrong to make an arrest in court.
Falana later drove Sowore in his vehicle to the DSS office where he was re-arrested and detained.
During Thursday’s plenary, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele from Ekiti State called the attention of the Senate to the matter.
The lawmaker relied on Section 43 of the Senate Standing Orders, saying the incident has raised a lot of concerns in different quarters in the country.
He said, “The leadership and members of the judiciary are particularly concerned about this development because they believe that the courtroom is meant to be a sanctuary.
“For us as a Senate, we cannot analyse issues based on conclusions without facts that we consider technical. Much as we cannot jump into conclusion, also is the fact that we cannot pretend not to know that Nigerians are concerned about this development.”
“Mr President, the reason I came under 43 is so that I will not generate any controversy or even make the Senate debate over an issue as I said earlier, we still need to have facts and evidence.
“As elected representatives of the people in whom Nigerians and including the Judiciary must find their voice, that we mandate our committee on National Security and Intelligence to interface with the security agencies to investigate what happened and report back to the Senate,” Senator Opeyemi proposed.
In his ruling, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, mandated the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters instead to investigate the incident.
The Committee, which is chaired by Senator Opeyemi, is expected to submit its report by Thursday next week.
“What we have done since yesterday was to screen, nobody has been confirmed. They will submit their credentials like every other person.
“After listening to them, the distinguished Senators also go back to study those credentials, the essence of this is just for us to establish the essence that they are who they claim to be in their documentation,” he said.
Senator Bamidele added that it is important to make this clarification so that members of the public will understand that, “the question we would have been asking them to clarify certain things are things that we already know.”
He added that the Nigerian Constitution is very clear concerning this tradition.
“The constitution of Nigeria is very clear as to qualification to appointment as a minister, you must be qualified to serve as a member of the House of Representatives and all of us are aware of the qualification.
“So, if people had been through this and has been able to serve in the National Assembly, it is taken for granted. However, that does not prevent the Senate from scrutinizing the documents that they had submitted like the document submitted by every other nominee.”
The Senate President Lawan in response supported Senator Bamidele.
He said this remains the position of the Senate, to allow former legislators to take a bow and go because it is the tradition.
“We are not covering anyone by so doing. We are still going to scrutinize the submissions by those nominees. And if there is any submission that disqualifies a nominee, the fact that the nominee passed thru the national Assembly does not protect that nominee from being disqualified,” the Senate President said.
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Bamidele narrating his experience of how he was hit by a gun bullet said the intention of the attacker was probably to terminate his life but, “God navigated the bullet, in such a way that it wasn’t going to bring an end to my life. God overcame and overturned the situation.”
Bamidele was shot by a police officer during a political rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti state in June.
Although the police said it was an accidental discharge, APC chairman in the state, Mr Jide Awe claimed that the shooting was aimed at the APC governorship candidate, Kayode Fayemi, but Bamidele accidentally fell victim of the shot.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State has called for an investigation into the shooting that occurred during a rally at its secretariat in Ado-Ekiti.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Opeyemi Bamidele, and another member of the APC were injured on Friday in the incident which was assumed to be an accidental discharge by a police officer.
The flag-off rally was supposed to signal the beginning of the campaign of the APC governorship candidate, Dr Kayode Fayemi, ahead of the July 14 election, before it turned sour.
The police had disclosed that the officer who fired the shot was on an illegal duty and had already been apprehended and detained.
The APC Chairman in the state, Mr Jide Awe, however, insisted that there was more to the shooting rather than the opinion of accidental discharge held in some quarters.
He questioned why the supposed accidental shooting had to take place close to their governorship candidate and hit Mr Bamidele whom he said was walking with Fayemi.
Mr Awe challenged the police to unravel the circumstances around the alarming development and investigate the alleged possible involvement of the state government.
“The policeman is not known to us or invited by us and we believe he had a mission. With the shooting taking place close to where our candidate Dr Fayemi was standing, we do not need a soothsayer to tell us what this could be,” he stated.
The APC chairman also alleged, “The state government had been making a lot of uncomplimentary remarks against our party candidate and the planned welcome rally, and they were too quick to react when the shooting occurred, thus, raising suspicion.”
He, however, revealed that Bamidele and the other person that was shot in the incident were responding to treatment at the hospital.
Awe said the party has decided to suspend its campaign for necessary evaluations and review of security architecture for its political activities in the state.
In a swift response to the allegations, the state government dismissed insinuations that it has a hand in the crisis, as claimed by the APC.
Mr Lere Olayinka, who is the media aide to Governor Ayodele Fayose, told Channels Television on Saturday that the party was being consumed by its own violence and desperation.
“We are not involved in violence and thank God the police have come out to say that the officer who shot at the venue was brought from Lagos.
“He was among the armed policemen who came with a member of their party. What is their interest in the election in Ekiti?” the governor’s spokesman queried.
APC chairman in the state, Mr Jide Awe, confirmed the incident to Channels Television.
He, however, noted that the victims have been rushed to the hospital.
The party chairman claimed that the shooting was aimed at Fayemi, although Bamidele accidentally fell victim of the shot.
“When he shot at the crowd, I believe sincerely that he (the police) aimed at Dr Kayode Fayemi but narrowly, he (Fayemi) was pushed by somebody walking behind him,” Mr Awe revealed during a telephone interview on Politics Today.
“Opeyemi Bamidele was equally very near him and the shot hit him. But I can say authoritatively that he’s not badly hit, and he is recovering as we are talking,” he added.
The APC chairman, who witnessed the incident, noted that those at the scene thought the shot was fired by an overzealous officer who was trying to pay respect to the former minister.
He said was just returning from the hospital and proceeding to another medical facility where the other gunshot victim was being attended to.
Meanwhile, the police authorities in the state have confirmed the incident and noted that they have begun an investigation into the shooting.
The incident happened two days after Dr Fayemi resigned his position from President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet as the Minister of Solid Minerals Development.
He resigned two weeks and some days after the former minister won the APC rescheduled primary election which held on May 12.
The governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Ekiti State Hon, Opeyemi Bamidele has formally defected to the all Progressives Congress (APC) alongside all his supporters.
Speaking with journalists in his country home at Iyin Ekiti, Honorable Opeyemi Bamidele said the decision was reached after a due consultation with his immediate family, friends and supporters within and outside Ekiti State.
He added that he believes that Ekiti State must be part of change movement that will take the state to the highest level.
“Nigeria of today is moving forward, therefore every well-meaning politician that is driven by the nation of politics as a call to service must join the moving vehicle for change in the interest of the people and security”, he said.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Ayodele Fayose as the winner of the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State.
Mr Fayose, according to the electoral body scored 203, 090 number of votes to beat the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Kayode Fayemi, who scored 120, 433 while the candidate of the Labour Party, Bamidele Michael Opeyemi scored 18,135 votes to come third.
A top member of the People’s Democratic Party in Ekiti State, Yemi Olayinka, has described the level of maturity demonstrated by outgoing Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi as one that reflects the beauty of the Ekiti people.
Speaking on Sunday, during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, to discuss the outcome of the Ekiti State governorship election which produced Mr Ayo Fayose of the PDP as winner, Mr Olayinka extolled Mr Fayemi for putting the interest of the people of Ekiti State ahead of his personal ambition.
Expressing his pride at the level of friendship displayed between Governor Fayemi and Mr Fayose, he noted that Fayemi had demonstrated the kind of maturity and sportsmanship that is unusual but highly needed in the Nigerian polity.
He revealed that Governor Fayemi called Ayo Fayose on the morning after the election to congratulate him and extend his hands of fellowship to move the state forward, with Fayose also warmly accepting and reciprocating the gesture.
“I think it’s a very fantastic development, it’s going to change the politics of Nigeria, it’s going to send a lot of positive signals to every politician in Nigeria that when you lose an election, it’s not a do or die thing. You can extend the hand of fellowship because of the development of that state.
“The people should be the priority, the state should be the priority beyond your personal ambition, and that is what Fayemi has demonstrated”, he said.
Olayinka, who said that he never doubted Fayose’s chances of victory, also revealed that the major secret behind his party’s victory at the polls was the revelation that the people were disgruntled about the leadership of the All progressives Congress in the state.
Although, he admitted that he never expected a landslide victory, he attributed the margin to the decision of Ayo Fayose to choose his running mate from Ikere Ekiti, which he claimed had the second largest voting pattern in the state.
He also added that the decision of the PDP to pick another key figure in the state, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, as a ministerial nominee also turned out to be a masterstroke which boosted the hope of the people and swung the decision of the people in his favour.
Fayose’s grassroots popularity was also named as a major strength that gave him victory, with Mr Olayinka citing several instances of his approaches at reaching out to the people; “They love this guy because he mingles with them, he talks to them, he shares with them”, he said.
While acknowledging the hard work of Governor Fayemi in some sectors in the state, Olayinka held that the Ekiti people just wanted Fayemi to go. He added, “A lot of people cannot even tell you why they want Fayemi to go, because I’ve asked questions.”
He noted that this was a lesson to Nigerian politicians that they should not take connection with their people for granted as they were an integral part of politics.
Olayinka also condemned the Competency Test policy initiated by Governor Fayemi for teachers in the state as a fundamental error that backfired. He argued that the policy was wrong for the quality and the politics of it as it was disrespectful for senior civil servants to be so demoted.
He seized the moment to assure Ekiti State people that the Governor-elect, Ayo Fayose, would provide better leadership, adding that the level of maturity he had acquired since he last governed the state makes him a better person who was better equipped to surpass all the works he did during his first tenure as the Governor of the state.
The high turnout of voters witnessed during the Ekiti State governorship election was an indication that Ekiti State people had been craving change in their leadership.
This was the view expressed by an election observer and Ekiti State indigene, Professor Ogundipe Olaofe, during an interview on Politics Today on Channels Television.
He said that the people decided to go out en masse because there were several issues which they were not happy with and they would not let the opportunity to change those things slip away from them.
Professor Olaofe provided an insight into the expectations of the average Ekiti person from the leadership of the state and stated that having not been satisfied with the performance of the current administration they felt that it was time to try another person.
An external Observer, Abiodun Ajilola, who was also on the programme, revealed that the turn out witnessed on the election day was unprecedented in the state and indeed in Nigeria with about 75% turnout of registered voters which only came down 49.1% eventually voting because some of the electorates did not have their Permanent Voters Card as required by the electoral body.
The issue of voter education also came to the fore with a total of 10,087 rejected votes amounting to only about 2.8% of all votes cast the Ekiti State, an indication, according to Ajilola, that civil society groups and political parties had shown more commitment to helping the people master the act of thumb printing and general voting activities.
Professor Olaofe also scored the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), high on its handling of the Ekiti election, citing the smooth logistics, transparency, reorientation of voters at the polling units, and many other factors as contributing immensely to the success of the election.
The Afe Babalola University Professor generously scored INEC 90%, while Ajilola scored it 75% and added that this was a “complete improvement” from the Anambra State election, as there were no reports of delayed arrival of officials or electoral materials, disenfranchising of voters and any of the cases that marred the Anambra exercise.
Prof Olaofe also gave credits to the level of security provided during the election.
Although it was acknowledged that militarization of elections was not as a desirable idea during elections, both guests admitted that it became necessary in Ekiti, owing to the level of violence that preceded the election. They, however, expressed hope that Nigerians would continue to mature in their approach to politics and the brandishing of weapons during elections would start to reduce.
This was the same sentiment shared by the Labour Party candidate, Opeyemi Bamidele, who placed third in the election. While also accepting the result of the election and congratulating the winner, he expressed hope that weapons would feature less during elections in Nigeria as the electorates and politicians learn to imbibe positive attitudes, placing the interest of the country ahead of personal their interests.
Ballot counting has started in some parts of Ekiti State after the governorship election voting exercise that witnessed large turnout of voters.
Voters waited patiently after casting their votes in the Saturday election to get the results from their polling booths. They echoed results as ad-hoc officials of the electoral body counted the ballots in Ado Ekit, the capital of the state.
Channels Television’s correspondent, Seun Okinbaloye, reports that it has been a peaceful process with heavy security presence in the state.
“Voters have conducted themselves in a peaceful manner right from when accreditation started in the morning. Security operatives hoover around the area in helicopter to ensure that there is law and order,” he said.
The security operatives, however, arrested some young men in Ado Ekiti and had taken them away. They did not disclose the crime committed by the men.
Accreditation started some minutes after eight and it lasted till about 12:30pm. Voting started immediately with voters presenting their permanent voter’s card.
Although about 18 political parties have presented candidates for the election, candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Peoples Democratic Party, Ayo Fayose and Labour Party, Opeyemi Bamidele are the top 3 contenders for the position.
The electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, supervised the distribution of election materials to different polling units in all 16 Local Government Areas on Friday .
The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu, on Friday, told Channels Television that INEC had put everything in place to ensure a peaceful, credible and successful election in the State. He further stressed that only voters with the permanent voter’s card would be allowed to vote in the election that has drawn international interest.
Eight thousand policemen and 15,000 personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, are presently in Ekiti to ensure a peaceful conduct of the exercise.
Spokesman for the police, Mr Frank Mba, had told citizens to expect restriction of movement, as it is a strategy to ensure adequate security of lives and property during and after the governorship election.
The Ekiti governorship election is the first big elections before the 2015 general elections which the PDP as well as the opposition, APC, have sworn to emerge victorious.
However, both local and international observers would be on ground to monitor the process.
Thirty election observers from the United States Mission to Nigeria have arrived the State to monitor the election process. In a statement released by the public affairs office on Friday, the US described the election as a very important one in the lives of Ekiti residents.
A former member of upper legislative chamber representing EKiti North Senatorial District, Senator Ayo Arise on Wednesday applauded the flooding of Ekiti State with security operatives ahead of the June 21 governorship election taking place in the state.
“The security men are just there to maintain law and order and ensure that people express their willingness to choose a leader” he said on Channels Television’s breakfast show Sunrise Daily.
He noted that “we have had experience with isolated elections like this in the past and people flooded the state with all manner of thugs, miscreants and the electoral process was actually hijacked by those miscreants and we couldn’t have peaceful elections.
“That’s why we appealed to Mr President (Goodluck Jonathan) that we want a one man, one vote situation and we do not want people taking over the electoral process”, he said.
To have a violence free and rancour free election, the former federal legislator advocated for the constitution to “make political office(s) less attractive” insisting that “the way it is now, everybody wants to be a politician because it is a gateway to prosperity somehow”.
He urged Nigerians to begin to “channel their energies towards other avenues of attaining recognition in the society” so as to reduce the urge to make elections in Nigeria a desperate affair.
Fayose Has Done More Than Fayemi
Senator Arise noted that despite holding the power of incumbency, Governor Kayode Fayemi remains an unpopular candidate in the forthcoming elections because of the candidacy of Mr Ayo Fayose whom he claimed has provided more infrastructures in the state capital and other local governments than Governor Fayemi during his time as governor of the state.
Though Mr Fayose was impeached during his term, Mr Arise noted that it is not a prerequisite for the disqualification of a candidate, insisting that “Section 137 of the Constitution is very explicit on who can become a president or a governor.
“He has committed nothing that will disqualify him on the grounds the fact that he was impeached” he boasted.
However, joining the conversation via the telephone, the Special Adviser on Legislative Matters to the Ekiti State Governor, Mr Oladapo Karounwi rejected the comments made by the former senator, insisting that “he has dished out a lot of lies that I will quickly inform Nigerians on the correct situation of things”.
He noted that “the level of infrastructural development in Ekiti State for the last three years is unprecedented” and insisted that “the achievement is very feasible, touchable, memorable and even the blind can see.
“I am happy that the Senator did not deny that Dr Kayode Fayemi has touched every facet of life in Ekiti State”, he said.
He further noted that it is very strange for the Senator to say that the developments in the state under Fayemi are centred in the state capital alone because he is aware of a number of local government roads that have been constructed, outside of other facilities that have been put there in Oye Township, where he (senator Arise) is from.
He continued, adding that “all the schools in Oye have been upgraded, reconstructed, remodelled; health facilities have been upgraded.
“So we virtually have touched every facet of the state” boasting that there is no village that will not count up to five projects that this government has done for them”.
Debunking the claim of the Senator that Mr Fayose is corrupt –free, Karounwi argued that “the issue of Mr Fayose is still before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)”.
Lies From The Pit Of Hell
A representative from the Labour Party, Mrs Babatunde Olatunde-Bruce, also via the telephone, debunked rumors that the Labour Party had joined forces with the People’s Democratic Party ahead of the June 21 election.
“There is no pact with the Ayo Fayose Organistion, we are not having any pact with the APC either” she said, accusing the camp of the PDP of sharing false text messages to that effect, insisting that “it is a lie from the pit of hell.
“We have asked our people and the entirety of Ekiti people to disregard that message” she said
She said the candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Opeyemi Bamidele is “the best candidate among the three of them. He is untainted, he is the most experienced and he has spent 12 years in the executive arm of government and three and a half years so far in the legislative arm of government”.
She further noted that as a lawyer, Opeyemi has spent over twenty years and has wide network within the judiciary; therefore he is most experienced.
The Media and Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party in the state also noted that “we have a pact with the good people of Ekiti” revealing that “our pact is to mend this broken heart through our manifesto of change, which we have launched and have given out to the people of Ekiti, to hold onto and to also hold us accountable when we get to government”.
At least 18 parties have presented candidates for the election. However, the contest is realistically between the APC, PDP and LP.
Ahead of the weekend’s governorship election in Ekiti State, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has deployed security equipment including surveillance helicopters, armoured personnel carriers, patrol vans and other law enforcement gadgets to the state.
At a brief ceremony at the Police Headquarters in Abuja, Mr Abubakar assured Nigerians of the readiness of the Police and other security agencies to ensure a hitch-free election.
Defying the early morning rain, the IGP sounded a note of warning to troublemakers and those not directly connected with the election.
He noted that his men had the express mandate of the Inspector-General of Police to ensure peaceful conduct of the governorship election in the state.
The Inspector-General also charged the policemen on election duty in the state to carry out their duties in line with democratic conduct, while ensuring that the state remains calm throughout the election and beyond.
The Inspector-General of Police solicited the cooperation of politicians in the state for the smooth conduct of the election.
The deployment comes as a reinforcement of other security measures already put in place by the Police.
A Member of the House of Representatives, Bimbo Daramola, believes that the performance of Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, guarantees his re-election in the coming polls in the state.
He gave this impression on Channel Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise, where he appeared alongside an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Lagos, Dr Derin Ologbenla, to discuss developments in Ekiti politics ahead of the June governorship election.
Daramola said that there were a number of things that have given Ekiti people hope and gives assurance that Fayemi would be fully supported by the people. He said that the question would be, “Wouldn’t you rather stick with a man that has come into governance with good track record?”
Speaking on the ambition of former Governor of the state, Ayo Fayose to contest for the seat again, Dr Ologbenla said that Fayose’s chances were slim because of his antecedents during his first tenure which saw several crisis and killings in the state. He said that the Ekiti people were more educated to embrace his candidature.
He also dismissed the chances of Labour Party candidate and former member of defunct ACN, Opeyemi Bamidele; he said that he lacked the political structure to win the June governorship election in the state.
The Congressman representing Ekiti North, Daramola, noted that the Ekiti election would mirror what Nigerians should expect in 2015. He said that the readiness of the Independent national Electoral Commision, INEC would be very pivotal to ensuring that the people of Ekiti are given the rights to choose the leader of their choice.
He went further to reveal the several issues already witnessed in the voter registration process in the state, just after the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega had promised all political parties in the state that the commission was ready for a smooth process.
Ologbenla, however, noted that he believed that INEC would not go into an election without being ready but the problem was how the political parties play their game. He stated that any attempt to rig elections in the state would be attacked by the people and he called for the deployment of substantial security resources to maintain sanity during the election.
Daramola concluded by saying that he had no doubt that the Ekiti people have decided to keep Fayemi as their Governor.