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Senate, House of Reps React to Bribe Taking Accusation, Demand Jega’s Apology

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The Senate and the House of Representatives have reacted to former Independent National Electoral Commission’s chairman’s allegation of bribe taking, urging the former electoral boss to either mention names of the supposed bribe takers or keep quiet.

In its denial, the Senate asked Jega to publish names of senators who had demanded bribes, failure of which he should apologise to the lawmakers.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, said it was an allegation that the lawmakers were used to.

“Thank God you said it was an allegation, and that is what it remains. We will never stop getting allegations. So, when someone makes an allegation now, why should I react? This is not new. He is not saying anything new, people have been saying that before,” he said.

Principal officers of the Senate and chairmen of committees including the Chief Whip, Sola Adeyeye, and the Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, who spoke to the Punch also denied demanding and taking bribes.

The Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said he would first study the context in which Jega said what he said before responding to the allegation.

But the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Chukwuka Utazi, denied taking bribes and challenged Nigerians to ask from the EFCC  and the ICPC if they had given him bribes.

Utazi said, “I did not work with Jega in the same National Assembly, so if he had said such, it should be the people in the 7th Assembly who worked with him. If you want to confirm whether that (Utazi collecting bribe) is true, go to the (Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim) Magu and the ICPC, and ask them whether I have collected anything from them or not.”

Also denying the allegation, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Baba Garbai, said he was at the event where Jega made the allegation. He however referred one of our correspondents to the Senate’s spokesman to speak for the lawmakers.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, Barau Jibrin, could not be reached on the telephone as his line indicated that it had been switched off on Monday evening.

In his denial, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Ajayi Boroffice, stated that his committee always funded its oversight trips. He however, said gifts were accepted based on the discretion of the host.

Also, the House of Representatives replied Jega, challenging him to name committee chairmen or members who either demanded or took bribes from him.

The House noted that in the absence of proof, Jega’s comments would pass as another “unfounded allegation” against the legislators.

The Chief Whip of the House, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, and the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, responded on behalf of the House.

Ado-Doguwa said he was in shock that a teacher of Jega’s profile would make “unwarranted allegations” against the National Assembly.

He added, “I will only urge him to mention names of members or committees that he knows, have asked or collected money from him or from any institution to his knowledge.

“He who alleges must prove. I call on Jega to prove his allegations and we, as leaders of this great institution, will take decisive measures to penalise whoever was genuinely involved.

“The National Assembly, as a critical arm of the present administration, is unequivocally committed to the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari and therefore cannot afford to compromise or undermine it.”

On his part, Namdas urged Jega to help the anti-corruption fight of the government by releasing the names of bribe takers in the National Assembly.

Namdas added, “He should supply the names of those who demanded bribes or took bribes from the MDAs. It is the best way to help the government’s anti-corruption crusade. Mere allegations without proof will not help the nation.

“Perhaps, we should also remind Jega that many Nigerians have accused INEC members of staff of taking bribes to manipulate election outcome or frustrate the entire process.

“On these grounds, do we now do a blanket condemnation of INEC workers and say they are bribe takers? More than 200 INEC officials are facing investigation as we speak.”

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You’ve Nothing to Offer Nigerians, Only Insults, Akwa Ibom Gov Slams Tinubu

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Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, on Monday, replied the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, saying that he (Tinubu) always resorts to abusing and insulting people during campaigns because he has nothing to bring to the table for Nigerians.

He also said that despite being insulted by the former Lagos State Governor, he would prefer to allow peace to reign by ignoring him and focusing on helping install good governance to rescue Nigerians from their present woes.

Emmanuel spoke on Monday evening at Government House, Uyo while inaugurating newly appointed Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen and Members of Boards and Commissions, as well as a Transition Committee to ensure the smooth transition of power to the next administration.

Recall that Tinubu had during his rally in Uyo Monday afternoon, reportedly said, “Akwa Ibom, that boy wey bring Atiku here, wey de call himself Governor, tell him enough is enough! He lives in my backyard in Lagos, If no be say we be one, I would have driven him home. You see that mansion he is living, I would just use lizards, pigeons and scorpions to put him inside.“

But reacting few hours later, the Akwa Ibom State Governor said, “for the country to remain in peace, one party must ‘play saint’ and that is why he would refrain from replying Tinubu.

Emmanuel who is the Chairman of the PDP presidential campaigns said, “I also go to other states, and if you watch our campaigns, my principal (Atiku Abubakar) has never spoken about any Governor, he has never spoken openly about Asiwaju before.”

He added that it was unfortunate that Tinubu, who was granted state-owned facilities such as the airport, security, stadium, and a good atmosphere to come in and sell his manifesto, ended up coming to insult the integrity of over 7.9 million Akwa Ibom people.

The Governor wondered if it is possible for any Akwa Ibomite to go to Lagos that Tinubu stays or the actual state that he hails from, to insult Tinubu in like manner and still be allowed to safely return home, “but here our people at the stadium including some state governors just laughed and applauded him.”

“What makes him think he will govern Nigeria? If I reply him now, people will call me and say, haba oga you are not like that. But I will reply him one day. There is nothing like ‘emilokan’ (it is my turn) here, Nigeria is in God’s hands.”

He maintained further that despite being the highest revenue contributor to the federation account, Akwa Ibom State has not gotten a single kilometre of road from the APC-led Federal Government for nearly 8 years adding that the poor response from the Federal Government also caused the delayed commencement of the seaport in the state.

Meanwhile, the governor thanked the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries for accepting the onerous task of service, and urged them to see themselves as ambassadors and work towards raising the bar of leadership which would encourage productivity and promote good working relationship with subordinates in the service.

“This is one thing I promised Akwa Ibom people that appointment of Permanent Secretaries shall be totally on merit and not by mercy, let those that can do the work be given the opportunity. Permanent Secretary is not a promotion, it is an appointment on merit.

Governor Emmanuel also reiterated his commitments towards enhancing efficiency within Civil Service, noting that during his administration civil servants have been promoted on yearly basis.

He assured that before he exits office more Permanent Secretaries would be appointed into the service to fill vacant positions left by the ones who retired.

Addressing Chairmen of Boards and Commissions, Governor Emmanuel who described them as pillars in government, acknowledged their commitment particularly, Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection & Waste Management Agency, Prince Akpan Ikim, for winning laurels for the state through his outstanding performance in keeping and making the state the cleanest in Nigeria for five consecutive years from 2018 through 2022, and tasked others to create an impact that will stand them out.

In the same vein, the Transition Committee members were handed the task of ensuring a seamless transition of government to an incoming administration, and also verify all projects executed by the present administration.

The newly appointed Permanent Secretaries are; Mfon Inuaesiet Edemekong Esq., Dr. Stephen Effiong, Atim Chelly Okoko, Iquo Okon Abia Esq., Uwem Sunday Andrew-Essien, Isaiah Robson Ntekim and Emaeyak Nyong Akpan as Auditor-General for Local Government.

The Transition Committee has Mrs. Ekereobong Umoh -Chairman, Uko Udom SAN, Prof Augustine Umoh, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, Mrs. Nsemeke Daniel, Dr. Nathaniel Adiakpan, Mr Elijah Udoiyak, Mrs. Esther Inyang, Pastor Uwem Andrew-Essien, Mr. Isaiah Ntekim, Mr. Effiong Ekpenyong and Mrs. Bella Akpanya as members.

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PDP Condemns Attack on Buhari in Kano, Blames Tinubu, Ganduje

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The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, has blamed the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attacks on the convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari, during a visit to the state on Monday.

The spokesperson of the campaign council, Dino Melaye, who shared one of the videos from the reported attack, wrote, “The fight between Tinubu and Buhari is entering a new dimension. The attack in Kano was properly coordinated and funded allegedly by Asiwaju.

“The meeting to push Buhari to submission or face sponsored attack in the north was said to be hatched in Bourdillon. Me, I am busy with Atiku.”

A political activist, Deji Adeyanju, who shared another video of the reported attack, said, “They are showing Buhari and APC Shege in Kano and many northern states.”

Similarly, the PDP in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, on Monday also blamed Tinubu and the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attack.

According to the party, the attack was designed to undermine the Presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections “and derail our democracy having realised that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.”

The statement read in part, “The PDP invites Nigerians to note how Governor Abdullahi Ganduje attempted to abridge President Buhari’s movement and even tried to stop him from visiting Kano State.

“More disquieting is the fact that the APC Presidential Campaign sought to humiliate and harm President Buhari while performing his official duties in Kano.

“It should be noted that the APC presidential candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world that Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and party of their choice in the 2023 general elections.

“The apparent frustration of Asiwaju Tinubu to resort to encourage or condone violence is fueled by his entitlement mentality, that it is his turn to be President, despite his numerous ineligibility and disability baggage.”

Ologunagba reminded Nigerians about Tinubu’s infamous statement in London where he declared to his supporters that “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte.”

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Organ Harvesting: Ekweremadu Battles for Freedom, Appears in Court Tuesday

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A former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, will on Tuesday appear again in court in the United Kingdom where he has been accused of human trafficking.

The lawmaker was in June 2022 arrested at Heathrow Airport in London after Staines Police Station received a report from a young man claiming to have been trafficked into the UK.

The young man, who made the report shortly after arriving in the UK from Nigeria, also alleged that he was made to undergo some medical tests, none of which he consented to.

Ekweremadu was immediately arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court for bringing a child into the UK to harvest his organs.

While the lawmaker had been in custody since June 23, his wife, Beatrice, who was arrested with him, was granted bail by a criminal court in London shortly after their arrest.

Monday (today) makes it 221 days since Ekweremadu was placed in the custody of UK authorities.

The case against the lawmaker which had been slated for May was later scheduled for January 31.

The 60-year-old, who denied the allegations against him, will again appear before High Court Judge, Mr Justice Johnson.

His daughter, Sonia, had on November 7, 2022, appeared in court to defend the accusation of trafficking a homeless man into the UK to harvest his organs for herself.

According to Daily Mail, the 25-year-old, who is battling a kidney-related illness, pleaded not guilty to the charge level against her when she appeared again in court on January 13.

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