Senate Trial ‘Should Go Very Quickly’, Says Trump

Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens while US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before a meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

President Donald Trump predicted Thursday that his impeachment trial in the US Senate will not take long and again dismissed the abuse of power charges against him as “a hoax.”

“I think it should go very quickly,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as the upper chamber’s members were sworn in to serve as the jury in Trump’s historic trial over the Ukraine scandal.

“It’s totally partisan,” Trump said. “It’s a hoax. It’s a hoax and everybody knows it’s a complete hoax.”

Senate President Condemns Attack On Emir Of Potiskum

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has condemned the gun attack in Kaduna on the convoy of the Emir of Potiskum, Yobe State, Alhaji Umaru Bubaram.

Gunmen on Tuesday night attacked the convoy of the Emir around Maraban Jos on Kaduna-Zaria road, killing some of the Emir’s aides and leaving others injured.

Lawan expressed his condolence with the revered Emir and the families of those killed in the sad incident.

The Senate President also prayed for speedy recovery of the Emir and others who were injured.

Lawan called on the security agencies to ensure that everyone with a hand in the heinous crime is brought to justice.

He also called on the security agencies to ensure quick rescue of those who were abducted in the incident.

Trump’s Impeachment Articles Heading For US Senate

Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens while US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before a meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  AFP

 

The House of Representatives is expected to transmit articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate Wednesday, setting the stage for a trial next week that will decide whether the 45th US president is forced from office.

After a weeks-long standoff over rules and witnesses, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that what will be only the third presidential impeachment trial was now ready to move forward.

Pelosi is expected to sign the articles of impeachment at around 5:00 pm (2200 GMT) before they are then ceremoniously transferred from the House and travel through the US capitol’s main hallways before being delivered to the Secretary of the Senate.

That ceremony will follow an announcement by Pelosi on which Democratic lawmakers will lead the prosecution case against Trump in the Senate, expected to begin next Tuesday.

Trump was impeached in December by the Democrat-controlled House on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

But his conviction in the Senate is highly unlikely as the president’s Republican Party has a 53-47 majority. A two-thirds majority to approve his guilt is needed if he is to be removed from office at the end of a trial expected to last two weeks.

Although the trial itself is unlikely to start until next week, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts could be sworn in to preside over the process on either Thursday or Friday.

Trump has consistently painted the charges against him as part of a witch-hunt and again took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to decry his impeachment in the House as “the most lopsided & unfair basement hearing in the history of Congress!”

“While we’re creating jobs and killing terrorists, Democrats in Congress are wasting America’s time with demented hoaxes and crazy witch hunts,” he told supporters at a rally in Winconsin.

At times, he has called the whole process to be stopped in its tracks while on other occasions he has apparently relished the prospect of turning the tables against his tormentors in a chamber where his supporters are in the majority.

McConnell pushed back on Tuesday against any suggestions that he would try and prevent the trial from going ahead.

“There’s little or no sentiment for a motion to dismiss. We have an obligation to listen to the arguments,” he added.

Pelosi meanwhile called for a fair trial and demanded the Senate subpoena witnesses and documents from the White House that will be crucial in the trial.

“The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial … The president and the senators will be held accountable,” she added.

Pelosi attacked suggestions by Trump and some of his supporters that the Senate, as soon as the trial opens, vote to dismiss the charges. That would only require a majority vote.

“A dismissal is a cover-up,” she charged.

Trump was impeached on December 18 when the House voted to formally charge him with abusing his power by illicitly seeking help from Ukraine for his reelection campaign.

He is accused of holding up aid to Ukraine to pressure Kiev to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

Trump is also charged with obstruction for holding back witnesses and documents from the House impeachment investigation in defiance of Congressional subpoenas.

 Subpoena push 

The White House is steeling itself for a trial that could present damaging evidence against the US leader on national television.

Pelosi had delayed delivering the articles of impeachment to pressure the Senate to agree to subpoena witnesses with direct knowledge of Trump’s Ukraine actions, including his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security advisor John Bolton.

McConnell said that, as with the impeachment trial of president Bill Clinton in 1999, the witness issue will only be considered after the 100 senators — the jurors in the trial — hear the prosecution and defense arguments.

AFP

Trump’s Impeachment Trial Looms As US Senate Resumes

Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens while US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before a meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

US lawmakers return to Washington Friday with President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial looming over the first Senate session of 2020, but congressional leaders are locked in stalemate over how to proceed.

As Congress braces for a frenetic January, newly uncovered evidence could bolster Democrats’ demands for testimony from key witnesses with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s Ukraine pressure scheme at the heart of the impeachment scandal.

A series of emails published Thursday signal that the order to maintain a freeze on military aid to Ukraine came directly from Trump, and reveal that the Pentagon raised serious concerns about the legality of the directive.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far refused to transmit the two articles of impeachment against Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — to the Senate until the chamber agrees on trial parameters that she considers fair.

No progress was made over the holiday break as to the rules of the trial, after Trump last month became only the third US president ever impeached by the House of Representatives.

Senate Democrats want to hear from key witnesses who refused to testify during the House investigation, and obtain documents denied to the impeachment probe.

Republicans have balked, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitting last month that he was working in “total coordination” with the White House on how to conduct the trial.

Trump stands accused of leveraging a highly sought White House meeting and $391 in military aid to Ukraine, which Kiev desperately needed to deter Russian aggression, in exchange for investigations into Democrats including his possible 2020 election rival Joe Biden.

The White House has rejected that narrative.

But on the eve of the Senate re-convening, unredacted emails published by a national security site show that a White House official told the Pentagon that the order to hold the Ukraine aid came from the president himself.

According to Just Security, an August 30 email sent by Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, to the Pentagon’s comptroller said the aid freeze would continue at Trump’s direction, despite mounting legal worry within the Defense Department.

“Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold,” Duffey wrote in the email.

The unredacted message was one of several not turned over to House investigators conducting the impeachment inquiry, Just Security reported.

On Thursday, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said Duffey’s email “further implicates” Trump and compromises McConnell’s push to have a trial without documents and witnesses as sought by Democrats.

Schumer said it was imperative that Duffey and other key figures testify, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Pelosi also weighed in. “Trump engaged in unprecedented, total obstruction of Congress, hiding these emails, all other documents, and his top aides from the American people,” she tweeted.

“Why won’t Trump & McConnell allow a fair trial?”

Trump on Thursday repeated his claim that the impeachment effort was a “partisan witch hunt” that has fuelled national divisions.

AFP

9th Senate Is Prepared To Change Nigeria For The Better – Lawan

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, speaks during a session in the Senate Chamber in Abuja.

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, says the 9th Senate is committed to making the country better for the benefit of its people.

He stated this during plenary on Friday shortly after the lawmakers passed a N278.3 billion budget for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the 2020 fiscal year.

“This ninth Senate is prepared to change Nigeria for the better,” said Senator Lawan.

He added, “For passing the budget before the end of December, for the President to sign the budget before the end of December; definitely the Nigerian economy will see significant changes.”

READ ALSO: National Assembly Increases, Passes N278.78bn 2020 FCT Budget

According to the Senate President, the passage of the 2020 Budget by the National Assembly and its prompt assent by President Muhammadu Buhari would have a significant impact on the nation from January next year.

He also noted that the inflow of disbursed funds as a result of Nigeria’s return to the January – December budget cycle would see to the injection of resources by the government.

“This is something that was not available previously. We believe that the executive has a role to ensure that the 2020 budget is implemented fully as much as our resources can accommodate,” Lawan said.

On the FCT budget passed by the National Assembly, he stressed, “As the State Assembly of the FCT, we have discharged our responsibility. The next thing is for FCT to ensure that it implements the budget.”

The Senate President commended the Senate Committee on FCT for a job well done and urged it to be steadfast and ensure the implementation of the budget.

Adeyemi Replaces Melaye As Senate Committee Chairman On Aviation

Kogi West: Smart Adeyemi Is 'My Political Wife' – Melaye
Dino Melaye                                                                                                                           Smart Adeyemi

 

 

The lawmaker representing Kogi West senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator Smart Adeyemi, has been named as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation.

President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan, announced this on Friday during the last plenary session for 2019.

Senator Adeyemi replaces Senator Dino Melaye who held the position until he left the Senate.

The Red Chamber of the National Assembly, thereafter, adjourned plenary until January 28, 2020.

READ ALSO: Adeyemi Unseats Melaye, Wins Kogi West Senatorial District Election

 

A Quest To Reclaim Mandate

Senator Adeyemi unseated Senator Melaye on November 30 to return to the Senate for a third term, after a Court of Appeal in Abuja dismissed an appeal filed by Melaye challenging the nullification of his victory in the general elections.

In line with the order of the court, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted a fresh election on November 16.

INEC was, however, forced to conduct a supplementary poll after the rerun election failed to produce a winner as it was said to have been marred by violence and other electoral malpractices.

Although the results of the poll favoured Senator Adeyemi who polled 80,118 votes as against Senator Melaye’s 59,548 votes, the returning officer had said that he was constrained by law to declare a winner.

At the end of the supplementary exercise, the electoral umpire returned Senator Adeyemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election.

He lawmaker polled a total of 88,373 votes to beat Senator Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 62,133 votes.

Ambassador Rufus Aiyenigba of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) came third in the poll with 659 votes and was trailed by John Olabode and Adeyemi Taiwo of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Nigeria Elements Progressive Party (NEPP) who polled 262 and 119 votes respectively.

Court Invasion: Senate Gives DSS, Judge, Others 24 Hours To Submit Report

Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, was manhandled in court on December 6. 2019

 

The Senate Committee on Judiciary Human Rights and Legal Matters on Thursday asked the Department of State Service (DSS) and Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu to submit a memorandum on the alleged invasion of a Federal High Court within 24 hours.

The Committee also asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Counsel to Omoyele Sowore, Femi Falana, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, and the Office of the Chief Judge of Federal High Court to each submit a memorandum on the incident. 

DSS operatives had allegedly invaded the Federal High Court in Abuja to rearrest publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore few hours after he was released on December 6.

Each of the memoranda is expected to detail the events of the day.

READ ALSO: Senate Investigates Action Of DSS Operatives

Giving the directive, the Committee Chairman, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, explained that the panel is unable to hold the scheduled investigative hearing as the Senate suspended all activities in honour of Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu who died in Abuja on Wednesday.

Senate Confirms Muhammed Nami As FIRS Chairman

A file photo of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) office in Abuja. Photo: Twitter- @firsNigeria

 

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed the nomination of Muhammed Mamman Nami as the executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The confirmation followed the consideration and approval of the report of the Senate Committee on Finance, presented at plenary by the panel chairman, Senator Solomon Adeola.

READ ALSO: Buhari Asks Senate To Confirm New FIRS Chairman, Members

The nomination of other members of the board was also confirmed by the Senate.

They include James Yakwen Ayuba, Ado Danjuma, Adam Baba Mohammed, Ikeme Osakwe, Adewale Ogunyomade and Ehile Adetola Aibangbee.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter dated December 9, asked the Senate to confirm the appointment of Muhammad Nami as FIRS chairman.

According to a statement from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Nami is a well-trained tax, accounting, and management professional with highly rated qualifications and professional practice and licenses from relevant professional bodies.

He replaces Babatunde Fowler whose term of office expired on Monday, 9th December 2019.

Senate Demands Thorough Investigation Into Murder Of OAU Professor

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan,

 

The Senate has asked the Nigeria Police to carry out a thorough investigation into the murder of Professor Jerome Elusiyan of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile Ife, Osun State.

According to a statement by the Special Assistant (Press) to Senate President, Ezrel Tabiowo, the upper chamber is demanding that the killers of the slain professor are apprehended and brought to justice.

While paying tribute to the teacher, the lawmakers noted that the deceased died in active service to the fatherland and thereafter observed a minute silence in his honour.

READ ALSO: Doctors Threaten To Go On Strike Over Murder Of OAU Professor

They also want the Federal Government to place a high priority on the safety of Nigerians during and after the festive period.

Speaking on Wednesday, the Senator representing Osun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Francis Fadahunsi regretted that Professor Tabiowo was attacked and killed on December 13 on his way to Benin at Iruekpen, Esan West local government in Edo State.

“The erudite scholar was killed by unknown gunmen while he was in active service of imparting knowledge to the incoming generation may send fears into others who are in similar activities all over the country and other nationals who may be interested in coming to Nigeria now and in future,” Fadahunsi said.

Meanwhile, the Senate received the report of its Committee on the Federal Capital Territory on the 2020 FCT Appropriation Bill, 2019.

The Committee’s report was laid at the commencement of plenary by the Committee Chairman, Senator Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno North).

Ndume Reintroduces Peace Corps Bill In Senate

A file photo of the Peace Corps Office in Abuja.

 

 

The Nigerian Peace Corps (Est, etc) Bill, 2019 has been read for the first in the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly.

This followed the reintroduction of the Peace Corps Bills to the lawmakers during Tuesday’s plenary by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume.

The bill seeks to transform the Peace Corps which operates as a non-governmental organisation into a paramilitary government agency to be known as the Nigerian Peace Corps.

The 8th National Assembly had passed the Peace Corps Bill in 2017 following a protracted battle involving the organisation and security agencies in the country.

A file photo of Senator Ali Ndume.

 

 

While many Nigerians, especially the youth were hopeful that the creation of the corps would reduce the unemployment rate, the bill failed to become a law as President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent in February 2018.

The President had explained that he rejected the bill due to security concerns and the burden of funding the organisation by the Federal Government.

He also said the bill sought to empower the Peace Corps to undertake activities currently being performed by extant security and law enforcement agencies in the country.

Displeased with the President’s action, some members of the House of Representatives decided to revive the bill by vetoing President Buhari’s decision.

However, there was a loud negative response from members of the House when the then Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, put the motion to a voice vote in May 2018.

Senate Investigates Alleged Discrimination Against Nigerian Businesses In Ghana

 

The Senate on Tuesday mandated its Committees on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Investments to interface with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate the status of Nigerian businesses in Ghana.

This decision was reached during plenary following the consideration of a motion on “the need to investigate alleged ill-treatment and injustices suffered by Nigerian Traders and Businesses in Ghana”.

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah who sponsored the motion informed his colleagues that many Nigerian businesses were established in Ghana following the desire of the Ghanaian Government to promote trade relations with Nigeria under former President John Kufour.

According to him, the presence of Nigerian businesses created thousands of jobs and contributed to the growth of the Ghanaian economy.

The lawmaker said, “As at the end of 2010, Nigerian businesses accounted for 60 per cent of foreign investments in Ghana from the African continent.”

He added, “Of recent, the once flourishing economic relations between Nigeria and Ghana have come under repeated threats as a result of recent hostile posture of Ghanaian authorities and indigenous Ghanaian Traders Union towards Nigerian traders through the adoption of discriminatory regulations aimed at frustrating Nigerian traders and businesses such as the passage of the Ghana Investment Promotion Commission (GIPC) Act.”

The GIPC Act, according to Senator Ubah, raised the amount of money in registering businesses owned by foreigners – who are mostly Nigerians – in Ghana to $200,000 as well as restricted and prohibited foreigners from trading in particular markets in that country.

He decried what he called the “molestation of Nigerian traders” and other hostile acts directed against Nigerian businesses.

The lawmaker noted the recent closure of over 600 shops and businesses belonging to Nigerians by the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) on December 2.

He explained that the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865 of 2013 prohibits ECOWAS citizens from engaging in Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs).

Senator Ubah pointed out that among the many obstacles placed on the way of Nigerian entrepreneurs was the requirement of proof of importation of $1million into Ghana as applicable to citizens of non-ECOWAS member states such as China and India.

He recalled that Nigeria and Ghana had previously set up a joint task force from the trade ministries of the two countries to inspect business facilities of companies registered under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) to address threats to business interests of Nigerians in Ghana.

According to the senator, all measures and protection offered Nigerian traders under the ECOWAS framework have failed to address incessant threats to Nigerian businesses in Ghana, warning that “the situation may deteriorate into a serious diplomatic and economic crisis.”

In his contribution, Senator Abubakar Yusuf, said the allegation of discrimination against Nigerians was for the most part in the motion speculative.

Yusuf argued that the introduction of legislation by the Ghanaian authority was most likely aimed at insulating their economy and protecting the interests of local entrepreneurs.

He said, “I support the intendment of this motion, it is very good and the intendment is excellent. However, I differ from the procedure of achieving the intendment of this motion.

“Some few weeks ago, we passed a bill here on procurement, and we were trying to protect the interest of our local or indigenous companies.”

“I have read through the motion and I find that there are so many areas that are highly speculative, and I don’t think in this chamber we work on things that are speculative.

“To talk about the $200,000, I think they (Ghanaians) are trying to protect themselves, it is not targeted at Nigerians. In as much as they have come out with certain policies, I think we should be very careful in embracing the issue here and debating it,” the lawmaker added.

Senator Yusuf advised the Senate to handle the motion carefully to prevent a diplomatic row between Nigeria and Ghana.

Backing the position of the sponsor of the motion, the Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe explained that it was aimed at protecting Nigerians living in other countries.

He, however, pointed out that the drafting of the motion might have been done to raise the lawmakers’ emotions where they talked about the question of discriminatory acts among others.

Senator Abaribe said, “I think that we should just let this motion seek to make sure that we call attention to the fact of what is happening to our citizens outside of this country, and see a way of making sure that they are not unduly punished for reasons best known to the countries where they belong.”

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, believes the situation was another dimension of a lack of understanding or intervention and early engagement between the two countries.

He, therefore, stated that the time has come for Nigerian authorities to engage the Ghanaian government with a single mind of getting a solution to the problem.

“We need to know what is happening, and together with the executive arm of government, we have to find a solution to this,” Senator Lawan said.

$29.96bn Loan Request: Senate Committee To Submit Report In Two Weeks

 

The Committee on Local and Foreign Debts assigned to review the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan request sent by President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to present their reports in two weeks.

The President’s request was forwarded to the Committee for further legislative work following its presentation by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, during plenary.

The Committee has Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo Central) as Chairman and Senator Bima Mohammed Enagi (APC, Niger South) as Vice Chairman.

READ ALSO: Senate Will Approve Buhari’s $29.96bn Loan Request, Says Lawan

President Buhari had in a letter dated November 26, 2019, said the Eighth National Assembly approved only a part of the External Borrowing request forwarded to it in September 2016.

This, according to him, stalled the Federal Government’s implementation of critical projects spanning across the mining, power, health, agricultural, water, and educational sectors.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan had said that the Senate would approve President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to borrow $29.96 billion.