Amosun Preaches Harmony At Easter

amosunThe Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, joined millions of Christians around the world to observe the Easter season, stressing the need for harmony among Nigerians.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mrs Olufunmilayo Wakama, Governor Amosun stressed the need for harmony in the quest for a new Nigeria, irrespective of ethnic, political and religious affiliations.

He said that “the period is symbolic for us as a nation, having recently elected a new President”.

“As we commemorate the resurrection of Christ, I see a new Nigeria under the leadership of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari and I urge all well meaning Nigerians to join hands with him to bring about accelerated socio-economic progress,” he said.

The governor urged all Christians and Nigerians to ponder over the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and take a cue from His selflessness, by eschewing all forms of political, social and religious vices.

Governor Amosun prayed for God’s guidance and blessings for the leadership of Buhari and continuity in Ogun State, as Nigerians go to the polls to choose their representatives in the forthcoming Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections.

Amosun also wished everyone a blessed celebration.

Eid El-Fitr: Senate President Seeks Citizens’ Collective Action Against Terrorists

David Mark The Nigerian Senate President, David Mark, has sent a message of felicitation to Muslim faithful in Nigeria as they join the rest of the world to celebrate the 2014 Eid El-Fitr, marking the end of the Ramadan fast.

Senator Mark, in a goodwill message, congratulated them for the successful completion of the fasting and prayer, which he said the nation most desired in its trying times.

He lamented the security challenges the country had been facing and called for collective action of all citizens against the terrorists to end the menace.

Senator Mark also lamented that the over 200 Chibok schoolsgirls, who had been abducted by the dreaded Boko Haram sect for more than 100 days, were still held in captivity.

He said that one way out of this quagmire was for Nigerians to have a common approach against terrorists, irrespective of political, ethnic or religious affiliation.

Senator Mark added that the prevailing situation does not call for blame game but a collective action of all citizens against the terrorists.

MEND, Keyamo Reject Henry Okah’s Sentence

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has rejected the 24-year prison sentence handed to its leader, Henry Okah, by a South African Court, alleging that the court compromised.

The group in a statement on Tuesday said it rejected what it called the ‘kangaroo court sentence’ slammed on Mr. Okah, just as legal practitioner, Mr. Festus Keyamo, condemned the sentence, describing it as politically motivated.

The statement signed by Jomo Gbomo, expressed the group’s displeasure, saying “MEND is disappointed but not surprised that the South African judiciary has compromised.”

“Boko Haram has killed more innocent Nigerians than any other militant group in the country and yet their spokesperson was handed a three year sentence.”

Describing the sentence as “the height of injustice to our region and people”, MEND threatened to resist it by all means necessary, warning that consultations were on-going with some stakeholders and elders of the region, and adding their position would be made known later.

The group, however, insisted that the judgement would not deter it from continuing its fight against the emancipation of the people of the Niger Delta.

In a press statement, Mr. Keyamo claimed that the sentencing was totally flawed as, Mr Okah was not given adequate facilities for his defence.

“The decision of the South African Court that convicted Henry Okah this morning of charges relating to terrorism is politically motivated and legally incorrect.

“The fundamental flaw in the trial is that Henry Okah was not given adequate facilities and the opportunity to defend himself. This is because after the prosecution closed its case in South Africa, the defence attorneys and my Chambers here in Abuja tried frantically to summon the witnesses of Henry Okah who are based here in Nigeria to testify on his behalf. These witnesses include some government officials.”

Acting as a counsel to Okah’s brother, Charles Okah, and some others facing facing similar charges under the Nigerian laws, Mr. Keyamo said he had been actively involved in coordinating both trials in South Africa and Nigeria.

In his statement, Keyamo claimed he had written to the Attorney-General of the Federation who in his reply directed Okah’s counsel in South Africa to apply for legal assistance of the Nigerian Attorney General Office two weeks ago.

He maintained that the South African Court did not accord Okah’s counsel time and facilities needed to follow these directives as it foreclosed his opportunity to call witnesses and rushed to convict him. He described this move as a breach of Okah’s fundamental right to fair hearing and an obvious attempt by the South African authorities to please Nigeria at all cost.

“Whilst all Nigerians empathise with those who lost their lives and limbs in the October 1, 2010 bombing, it is wrong to convict anybody for it without due process. Henry has been convicted without due process,” Keyamo said.

He added: “I condemn this judgment and call on Nigerians and the international community to condemn the trial and judgment of Henry Okah whose only offence was his refusal to accept the so-called amnesty offered by the Yar’Adua-Jonathan administration and his insistence on the Niger-Delta controlling its resources.”

Mr. Keyamo, therefore, implored the Nigerian government to “immediately use all diplomatic efforts to ensure that Henry Okah does not die in a South African prison and for the South African government to grant him unconditional pardon. This is without prejudice to his right to appeal against the judgment.”



Salami’s Recall:Approach is political than Legal – Emmanuel umoren

Another legal practitioner; Emmanuel Umoren reacted to the Salami saga going on saying the Attorney General should act as an Attorney General always in the sense from the angle of the law the Attorney General should advise the government on steps to take on certain issues in terms of law.

Umoren cited the instance where the NJC advised the Federal Government to suspend Justice Salami, meanwhile there was a matter in court, and the Attorney General did not advise the President not to go into action based on the advice of the NJC.

Now the same NJC has requested that Justice Salami be reinstated and the Attorney General is saying the he cannot be reinstated based on the case pending in the court of law.

Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood sets up political party

Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood teamed up with other Islamists on Friday to establish a new political party that is set to be a leading player in the country’s first elections since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

Islamist and secular parties will vie in June elections for seats in a national assembly that will draft a new constitution for the North African country.

Political analysts say Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood is likely to emerge as the most organised political force and a leading player in the oil-exporting country where Islamists, like all dissidents, were harshly suppressed for 42 years.

Post-uprising elections have already brought Islamists into government in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco since October and they are likely to perform well in Libya, a socially conservative country where alcohol was already banned before the revolution.

Lamine Belhadj, who heads the committee that is working to set up the new party, told Reuters at a conference on Friday it would bring together Islamists of different stripes.

“This is the founding conference of a national, civil party with an Islamic frame of reference.

It is being established by the Muslim Brotherhood and many independents who are not affiliated with any Islamic organisations,” he said.
Belhadj, a senior official in the National Transitional Council (NTC) and a member of the commission responsible for organising the elections, said the new party had yet to be named and its leaders had not been chosen as consultations were under way between the Brotherhood and other groups.

Abdullah Shamia, an economics professor and member of the Brotherhood since its days as an underground organisation, said the new party would be independent. The Muslim Brotherhood, a broader religious, charitable and social movement, would continue its work separately from the political party.

The rise of Islamist parties at the ballot box has raised concerns among more secular Arabs that new governments will impose more religious restrictions on society or seek to make post-uprising constitutions comply with Islamic law, or sharia.

Libya’s NTC has already indicated that the country will be run in accordance with sharia, though the exact place of sharia in the legal system will only be settled once a new constitution is written after elections.

Belhadj said there was little disagreement on the issue of sharia in Libya, whose citizens are virtually all Sunni Muslims.

“All the parties cannot but adopt an Islamic frame of reference because the Libyan people are Muslim,” he said.
Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1949 as an offshoot of the eponymous Egyptian organisation but was banned and unable to hold public meetings in Libya until November 2011. Its members were often forced to keep their membership secret for fear of arrest, torture or imprisonment.

Majida al-Fallah, a doctor and Islamist activist, told Reuters she saw women, whatever their political loyalty, playing a more active role after the revolution.

“I believe women began to have a big role from the start of the revolution. We are now pushing women to the front lines rather than keeping them in the back seat,” she said.

Asked if she expected religious parties to push for women to be confined to the home or be forced to wear the veil, she said: “I don’t think so. This is something that is up to the Muslim woman herself and her choice.”

Iran religious, political hardliners face off in vote

Iranians voted on Friday in a parliamentary election which is expected to reinforce the power of the clerical establishment of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over hard-line political rivals led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The election is unlikely to have much impact on Iran’s foreign policies – the country’s disputed nuclear program and international relations are already strictly controlled by Khamenei.

But it could allow the clergy to strengthen its hand in determining the political backdrop ahead of a presidential election due in 2013.

With Iran facing growing international isolation, western sanctions over its nuclear program and a threat of attack by Israel, Iranian leaders have been calling for a high turnout to bolster their legitimacy.

“There is a lot of negative propaganda against our nation … The arrogant powers are bullying us to maintain their prestige. A high turnout will be better for our nation … and for preserving security,” said Khamenei after casting his vote.

“Whenever there has been more enmity towards Iran, the importance of the elections has been greater.”

The election will be the first since the country’s disputed presidential election in 2009, when opposition and pro-democracy protests were quelled by security forces.

This time round, leading reformist groups have said they will stay away from voting, setting the stage for a straight contest between backers of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

A low turnout, however, could nonetheless highlight the extent to which disappointment still exists among Iranian voters over the outcome of the 2009 presidential election.

State radio reported polling stations opened to voters at 8 a.m. (0430 GMT). They are due to close at 6 p.m. (1430 GMT), although this time has been extended in past votes.

While voting stations in affluent northern Tehran were quiet, people queued in central and downtown parts of the city to cast their votes.

“I am here to support my establishment against the enemies’ plot by voting,” said Mahboubeh Esmaili, 28, holding her baby outside the Hoseiniyeh Ershad polling center in central Tehran, where around 50 people were queuing up to vote.

The two main groups that are competing for the 290-seat parliament are the United Front of Principlists, which includes Khamenei loyalists, and the Resistance Front that backs Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad, the son of a blacksmith, still enjoys the support of many in Iran’s poorer communities, largely thanks to his humble image and regular cash handouts. But his popularity has been dented by the country’s economic crisis.

Western sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to halt sensitive nuclear work have started to hurt energy and food imports. The West fears Iran is working on developing a nuclear bomb, but Tehran says the program is for electricity generation and other peaceful purposes.

The price of staple goods has spiraled because of the falling value of the Iranian currency and fresh European Union and U.S.
sanctions on Iran’s financial and oil sectors.

Critics have accused Ahmadinejad of making things worse for ordinary Iranians, saying his decision to replace food and fuel subsidies with direct monthly payments since 2010 has fuelled inflation, officially running at around 21 percent.

Khamenei will be looking to use the vote to reestablish his hold on power following a political rift between the two leaders when Ahmadinejad tried to supersede Khamenei in Iran’s complex political hierarchy.

While Ahmadinejad himself cannot stand for a third term under Iran’s constitution, some Iranian media reports said he backed Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaie, his chief 0f staff, as a candidate to succeed him in the 2013 presidential vote.

The Guardian Council, made up of six clerics and six jurists who vet candidates, has approved 3,467 individuals out of more than 5,382 who initially applied to run in the poll.

Some politicians said that the hard-line council barred many established Ahmadinejad supporters, forcing him to pick younger political unknowns.

Khamenei, who initially endorsed Ahmadinejad’s 2009 re-election, publicly distanced himself from the president in April by reinstating the sacked intelligence minister.

In the past months, dozens of Ahmadinejad allies have been detained or dismissed from their posts for being linked to a “deviant current” that his rivals say aims to sideline clerics. Ahmadinejad’s media adviser has been sentenced to one year in jail for insulting Khamenei.

Reformists did not send in a list of candidates, saying the basic needs of a “free and fair” vote had not been fulfilled.

Major pro-reform political parties have been banned and leading reformists have either been jailed or banned from political activities since the 2009 election, which the opposition says was rigged.

Opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, defeated in the 2009 vote, have been under house arrest for more than a year.