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End of the Road For Justice Onnoghen

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By: Ajibade Morakinyo

When the 80s boy band, Boys II Men sang the song, End Of The Road, they described a loving relationship that had gone sour but one of the parties was living in denial pleading and hoping that the relationship continues though it was teaching what was technically it’s last bus stop.

This scenario can be likened to the situation that has occurred in the life of Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

His love affair with the judiciary which hit its zenith with him ascending the No.1 role had ended but he was holding on tight, hoping for a miracle or a turnaround of fortune but it is now obvious that it is over and he had reached the end of the road with a reported resignation.

THE GENESIS

It all started on Friday, January 11, 2019, when the presidency presented a 20 point text which revealed that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, has committed chronic offences as alleged by a petition by a whistle blowing NGO.

The reaction was that of incredulity in some quarters while others doubted.the motive and asked if this was not a politically motivated witch hunt of Justice Onnoghen.

On Monday January 7, 2019, a petition was written by the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI); on Tuesday January 8, the petition was submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB); on Wednesday January 9, the petition was received by the office of the CCB Chairman; on Thursday January 10, charges against CJN Onnoghen were filed by the CCB; and on Friday January 11, the CJN was served at his official residence in Abuja.

According to the petition, Onnoghen is the owner of sundry accounts primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself up to as recently as 10th August 2016 which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials.

The group, in the petition, said Onnoghen made five different cash deposits of $10,000 each on March 8, 2011, into Standard Chartered Bank Account 1062650; two separate cash deposits of $5000 each followed by four cash deposits of $10,000 each on June 7, 2011; another set of five separate cash deposits of $10,000 each on June 27, 2011, and four more cash deposits of $10,000 each the following day.

Aside this, they said Onnoghen did not declare his assets immediately after taking office, contrary to section 15 (1) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act; and that he did not comply with the constitutional requirement for public servants to declare their assets every four years during their career.

Another allegation against him was that his Code of Conduct Bureau Forms (Form CCB 1) for 2014 and 2016 were dated and filed on the same day and the acknowledgement slips were issued for both on December 14, 2016 — at which point, they said, he had become the CJN – Onnoghen assumed CJN office on March 6, 2017.

ARDI alleged that prior to 2016, Onnoghen appeared to have suppressed or otherwise concealed the existence of these multiple domiciliary accounts owned by him, as well as the substantial cash balances in them and that these domiciliary accounts were not declared in one of the two CCB Forms filed by Justice Onnoghen on the same day, 14th December 2016.

The cash balances in them were as follows: The Standard Chartered Bank dollar account 1062650 has $391,401.28 as at January 31, 2011; The Standard Chartered Bank Euro account 5001062686 has 49,971.71 Euro as at January 31, 2011; and The Standard Chartered Bank pound sterling account 5001062679 has balance GBP23,409.66 as at February 28, 2011.

THE EFCC ANGLE

As if this body punch was not bad enough, the Chief Justice got a blow yo the face from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

In the commission’s petition which no doubt cast more aspersions on Onnoghen’s intergrity, it disclosed that he refused to declare his assets upon his appointment as a judicial officer in 1989.

The EFCC also made various discoveries including hidden accounts and undeclared houses and businesses.

As a result of the weighty allegations, he was dragged before the Justice Danladi Umar-led Code Of Conduct Tribunal.

In one of the sitings, the State Prosecutor, Mr. Aliyu Umar (SAN) asked that Onnoghen steps down or be suspended while the trial was going on.

The CCT had adjourned sitting but it was started that it had granted the prayer of that he should step aside.

This was challenged at a high court by Onnoghen’ s lawyers and before you could say Jack Robinson, President Muhammadu Buhari relying on the CCT recommendation suspended Onnoghen and swore in Justice Tanko Muhammed as Acting CJN.

The battle for his survival now began at the CCT

THE CCT DRAMA

At the CCT, it was discovered that the CCB had not conducted any investigation rather it was the EFCC that investigated Onnoghen.

The Commission had been contacted to investigate the petition and said Onnoghen had no evidence of ever declaring his assets until 2016 and upon his appointment as a judicial Officer in 1989 as Justice of the High Court of Cross River State.

EFCC stated that further that the respondent has not ever declared his asset until 2016 when he filled annexure E and F of exhibits R 6 and R7.

In exhibit R7, the Respondent admitted that he failed to comply with the Constitutional provisions requiring him to declare asset on the ground that he forgot due to pressure of work.

“My lords, even in the conventional court where rules of evidence is applicable every admitted facts need no further prove. See Agbakoba v. SSS (1994) 8 NWLR (Pt.351) p. 475 and the case of Gov. of Akwa-Ibom State v. John Amah (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt.767) 730 at 778,” the commission revealed.

Also, he was accused of depositing the sum of $1,716,000 in a United State Dollars account operated with the Standard Chartered Bank in 2009, marked as exhibit P4 C, between 2009 and 2016.

According to EFCC, Onnoghen’s earnings as a judicial officer could not satisfactorily account for the amount found in the account.

They also said the Respondent (Onnoghen) failed to declare all the accounts and funds in exhibit P4-P4D when he declared his 2014 asset in November 2016. And that he only declared his Salary account with the Union Bank exhibit P3 and failed to declare P4-P4D, which are the accounts that warehoused funds that are far above Onnoghen’s known and provable lawful income.

It stated that by the provisions of Rule 1.2 of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers, it is clear that because members of the public expect a high standard of conduct from a judge, Onnoghen is under the obligation to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities both in his professional and private life.

Insisting that any conduct of the Respondent that give rise to the appearance of impropriety is a judicial misconduct and same is punishable under the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers.

The EFCC said that having studied the petition,

“It is our humble submission that the petitioner proved before this Honourable Panel that the Respondent was in possession of funds which are fairly not attributable to his known, provable and legitimate source of income.

“The evidence shows that my lord earned a monthly salary in the sum of N750,819.87 which is about N9,000,000.00 per annum,” the petition read.

As shown in exhibit P10A page 14 paragraph XXVI from the petition, the Respondent only earned the sum of N91,962,362.49 as salary between September 2005 and October 2016, and that the exhibit P3 is the salary account wherein his salaries are paid.

The commission further said, “the evidence before this Honourable Committee shows clearly that the Respondent opened United State Dollars account with the Standard Chartered Bank in 2009, exhibit P4 C, which was opened by Mr. Joe Agi SAN and the first cash depositor of United State of America Dollars into the said account with entry of the 29th day of June, 2009.

Responding to this, Onnoghen claimed he gave the learned SAN, Joe Agi the $30,000.00 to deposit to exhibit P4 C. Although he could not give any reasonable explanation as to source of this money, he admitted under cross-examination that the USD was not his salary and that he only received dollars as estacodes which is meant to for his official trips.

The commission also made it known that upon the opening of the USD account exhibit P4C, a lot of cash deposits in Dollars were made to this account between 2009 and 2016.

The amounts in the said account were deposited as follows: $74,200 (2009); $291,800 (2010); $340,000 (2011); $625,000 (2012); $298,000 (2013); $40,000 (2015) and $47,000 (2016). The total was $1,716,000.

The suspended CJN was quoted to have stated that: “The sources of these are from my savings from my days as foreign student and a successful private legal practitioner, as well as estacodes for annual for annual vacations, medical expenses, international conferences, my earnings as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Gambia (See Annexure “B” referenced as ZD 129/186/01/P.II/(148), among others; and the conversion of Naira to Dollars which sometimes ago was very favorable.

According to him, returns from his off-shore investments in the foreign currencies which are clearly documented by the bank with an overdraft of $500,000 approved for me in the USD Dollars account in November, 2018.

He disclosed that up till now, the proceeds from the investments are paid into the account as and at when due, and that his investments with Standard Chartered Bank also include Federal Government Bonds as can be seen from the records of dividends.

The commission however said Onnoghen’s explanation was “laughable” and that when he was a foreign student in Ghana he accumulated such amount of money but was not stated to the Panel.

It was said by the commission that the respondent who purportedly cannot afford to pay N7,000,000.00 to Joe Agi SAN in 2009 wanted the Panel to believe that he accumulated dollars to the tune of $1,716,000.00 in his house.

In addition, it was said that he never declared having $1,716,000.00 in his asset declaration form as cash in hand and was therefore inexplicable that he wanted the panel to believe that he accumulated the said sum in his house and only deposited them in the bank between 2009 and 2016 in cash.

Also Onnoghen attempted to suggest to the panel that the $1,716,000.00 cash deposit in exhibit P4C was earned by him upon his part-time appointment as Justice of the Supreme Court of Gambia, but was accepted because he was appointed on the 22nd day of November 2012.

On the face of his appointment letter, it is clear that Onnoghen was entitled to the Five Thousand pounds Sterling (5,000 GBP) and Twenty Thousand Dalasis which is payable per session to be determined by the Chief Justice of Gambia in line with the Rules of the Supreme Court of Gambia.

However, he failed to show the panel that consequent upon his appointment in November 2012 and the assumption of that office in 2013 the number of sessions he sat as a member of the Supreme Court of Gambia.

Onnoghen also failed to state how much he earned from Gambia, how he was paid whether cash or through his account.

The petition concluded that if Onnoghen is to earn any fee from Gambia it will be GBP and not USD, and that he has failed to show with credible evidence how he legitimately earned the sum of $1,716,000.00 which is far above his lawful and provable income.

The Prosecution went on with his case declaring that it was going to call six witnesses.

The prosecution presented three witnesses before closing its case against the suspended judge.

Witness 1

The first persecution witness, James Akpala, an investigative officer with the bureau, told the court that the CCB received the petition against Mr Onnoghen from a petitioner, Denis Aghanya, on January 9.

Mr Akpala, whose testimony was given on March 18, said he was asked to investigate the content of the petition from Mr Aghanya, a member of the All Progressives Congress, on January 10.

With Mr Akpala in the witness box, the lead prosecution lawyer, Aliu Umar, admitted six documents said to have been investigated by the first prosecution witness.

The documents included Mr Aghanya’s petition, which gave rise to the six count charge against Mr Onnoghen, and two of Mr Onnoghen’s asset declaration forms, which were both filed by Mr Onnoghen in December, 2016.

The other documents admitted were Mr Onnoghen’s Supreme Court identity card, his traveling passport and a Standard Chartered Bank document which all made up Mr Onnoghen’s account opening package.

Also admitted in evidence was Mr Onnoghen’s handwritten statement taken by a team of investigators at his office on January 11.

According to the witness, one of the declaration forms submitted by Mr Onnoghen had two bank accounts while the other had seven bank accounts.

He said the bank accounts included two Union Bank details and five others with Standard Chartered Bank.

Mr Akpala was asked during cross examination to read out the dates written on the charge sheet earlier submitted at the tribunal.

The information read out by Mr Akpala proved a point made by the defence that the charge sheet was prepared before the investigation team visited Mr Onnoghen at his office.

That submission was not objected by the prosecution.

Asked whether the charge sheet was filed within 24 hours of commencement of investigation, Mr Akpala responded in the affirmative.

Mr Akpala declined comments when asked to speak on the reason the bank statements shown to Mr Onnoghen by the CCB was addressed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).

Witness 2

During his testimony, the second witness, Awwal Yakassai, also a staff of the bureau, testified that the asset declaration forms submitted by Mr Onnoghen were yet to be verified by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Mr Yakassai was presented before the tribunal on March 21.

He reiterated a point made by Mr Akpala that the forms were both submitted the same day by Mr Onnoghen, and also confirmed that the forms were the basis upon which the charges against the suspended Chief Justice were filed.

Mr Yakassai was the CCB officer who collected the forms when they were filed by Mr Onnoghen in December 2016.

During cross examination, Mr Yakassai was shown the portion of the forms expected to have been signed as a measure of verification by the CCT. The portion shown to Mr Yakassai were confirmed blank by the witness.

Mr Yakassai also admitted, when confronted with a submission by the defence, that the content of the petition written against Mr Onnoghen was a ‘practical duplication of the details entered by Mr Onnoghen in his asset declaration forms.’

Witness 3

In her testimony, the third prosecution witness, Ifeoma Okagbue, a staff of the Standard Chartered bank who was also presented on Thursday told the tribunal that Mr Onnoghen did not have as much as $1million or £1 million in all the bank accounts, a denial of a major plank upon which the charges against him were built.

Ms Akagbue, who told the tribunal that she started to manage Mr Onnoghen’s account in 2015, added that all five accounts mentioned in the charges had the Bank Verification Numbers.

The witness also told the tribunal that the various accounts were domiciliary, not foreign. It was after this that it said it was not calling any other witnesses and decided to close the case.

Defense counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), led in evidence one Lawal Busari, who is Justice Onnoghen’s driver.

In his evidence, Busari told the court how he drove Onnoghen to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Office on July 28, 2010, to obtain an assets’ declaration form, saying he paid N200 fee for Onnoghen’s form on November 3, 2010.

Busari, who told the court that he was a chief driver and mechanic with the Supreme Court, added that while he was still with Justice Onnoghen at the CCB, he (Onnoghen) asked him to also get his own assets declaration form.

He explained that he obtained his form as directed, adding: “When we got back to the office, I filled my own form and on November 3, 2010, my Lordship gave me N200 to pay into the treasury account for the form.

“I collected the receipt from the cashier and I gave the receipt back to my lord and on November 4, 2010, I did mine by paying N200 to the cashier.”

The testimony of the 60-year old witness aimed at countering the prosecution’s charge that Justice Onnoghen did not declare his assets between 2005 and 2016 in line with public office law.

But when Awomolo sought to tender the receipt as exhibit, the prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar (SAN), objected to its admissibility.

He hinged his objection on the fact that the ‘Revenue number’ was not on the receipt, insisting that its authenticity was doubtful, and that Busari, not being the originator of the document, was not the right person to tender it in court.

The prosecution was, however, overruled and the receipt admitted as an exhibit, after which the tribunal adjourned for that day.

It was also to call Mrs Theresa Nwafor, a Director of the CCB now based in Benin, after asking that she be issued subpoena to appear, the Defence counsel, Chris Uche (SAN) informed on the next trial date of the tribunal that the defendant was done with his case.
Uche, while addressing the tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar, said:”My lords, today is for continuation of trial.

“But my lords, after a deep review of the evidence led by the prosecution and the defence, the defence has come to conclusion and we have closed our case.

He stated “Pursuarnt to paragraph 14 of the Practice Direction of this honourable tribunal, we apply to file our final written addresses.”

Uche prayed the tribunal for 14 days to enable him file his client’s final written address.
Lead prosecution lawyer, Aliyu Umar (SAN), said the defence informed him before hand that it would close its case.

Umar urged the tribunal to allocate time to the parties as it wishes.
The tribunal’s chairman directed the defence to file and serve its address on or before April 8.

THE NJC ANGLE

Following an uproar by Nigerians on the case, especially that his trial did not follow due process and his suspension too was wrong because he could only have been suspended through the recommendation of the National Judicial Council ( NJC), the NJC stepped into the arena.

It stated that it has received two petitions, one was the one that formed the basis for the CCT trial against Justice Onnoghen and the other was by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN against Justice Tanko Muhammed for accepting to be sworn in as Acting CJN

The NJC summoned bith men to respond to the petitions after which it would take a decision.It set up a 5-man panel to handle the matter.

The council however decided that the allegations relating to assets declaration that were levelled against Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON were subjudice and therefore abstained from considering them.

Thereafter, the Council reached a decision on the petitions written by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others, of which it has conveyed its decision to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Also, the council resolved that by the nature of the decision reached, it would be inappropriate for it to publicise it before conveying it to Mr. President.

THE END

Every film.or drama, there must be an end.And it seems the one involving Onnoghen is gradually cruising to an end with his reported resignation.

Though no official statement has so far been made by the Presidency, it was widely reported that Justice Onnoghen had tendered his resignation on Thursday and now we all await what will certainly be his final farewell from the exalted position of Chief Justice of Nigeria.

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El-Rufai, Bello, Mattawale Drag Buhari’s Govt to Court over Naira Redesign, Scarcity

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The governments of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara have petitioned the Federal government before the Supreme Court to halt the full implementation of the policy ending the validity of old N200, N500 and N1000 denominations on February 10, 2023

The three northern states, in a motion ex-parte filed on their behalf by their attorney, Abdul Hakeem Uthman Mustapha (SAN), are asking the supreme court to grant them an interim injunction to prevent the Federal Government from carrying out its plan to end the period within which the now-outdated 200, 500, and 1000 Naira denominations may no longer be legal tender on February 1.

The plaintiffs in the suit are the three Attorneys-General and Commissioners of Justice of the three states, while the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is the sole respondent.

The plaintiffs claimed that since the new naira note policy was announced, there has been a severe shortage of new naira notes in Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara States and that citizens who have dutifully deposited their old naira notes are finding it harder and sometimes impossible to obtain new naira notes to conduct their daily business.

They also mentioned the notice’s inadequacy, how carelessly the exercise is being carried out and the hardship it is causing Nigerians, which has been well-acknowledged even by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The plaintiffs added that the ten-day extension granted by the federal government is still insufficient to address the problems plaguing the policy.

Although a date for the hearing has not been set, the states are seeking a declaration that the demonetisation policy of the Federation being currently carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not in compliance with the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, and actual laws on the subject.

According to TVC reports, the plaintiffs are also asking the court to make a declaration that the three-month notice given by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the expiration of which will render the old banknotes inadmissible as legal tender, is in gross violation of the provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, which specifies that a reasonable notice be given before such a policy.

The plaintiffs also ask the court to declare that, in light of the explicit provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, the Federal Government of Nigeria, acting through the Central Bank of Nigeria, lacks the authority to set a deadline for the acceptance and redemption of banknotes issued by the Bank, except for the circumstances specified in Section 22(1) of the CBN Act 2007. The Central Bank shall at all times redeem its bank notes.

The Plaintiffs further want the court to direct the immediate suspension of the demonetisation of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria until it complies with the relevant provisions of the law.

In an affidavit filed in support of the suit and sworn to by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kaduna State, Aisha Dikko, she averred that although the naira redesign policy was introduced to encourage the cashless policy of the Federal government, it is not all transactions that can be conveniently carried out through electronic means.

She maintained that several transactions still require cash in exchange for goods and services hence the need for the Federal Government to have sufficient money available in circulation for the smooth running of the economy.

Dikko also pointed out that the Federal Government has embarked on the policy within a narrow and unworkable time frame, and this has adversely affected Nigerian citizens within Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara States as well as their Governments, especially as the newly redesigned naira notes are not available for use by the people as well as the State Governments.

“That the majority of the indigenes of the Plaintiffs’ states who reside in the rural areas have been unable to exchange or deposit their old naira notes as there are no banks in the rural areas where the majority of the population of the states reside.

“Most people in rural areas of the Plaintiffs’ states do not have bank accounts and have so far been unable to deposit their life savings which are still in the old naira notes.

“There is restiveness amongst the people in the various states because of the hardship being suffered by the people, and the situation will sooner than later degenerate into the breakdown of law and order.

“The Plaintiff State Governments cannot stand by as they are duty-bound to protect citizens in their states and prevent the breakdown of law and order.

“I know that if the Federal Government of Nigeria had given sufficient and reasonable time for the naira redesign policy, all the current hardship and loss being experienced by the Plaintiffs’ State Governments as well as people in the various states would have been avoided.

“I know that the 10-day extension by the Federal Government is still insufficient to address the challenges bedevilling the policy. I also understand that the Federal Government cannot bar Nigerians from redeeming their old naira notes at any time, even though the senior notes are no longer legal tender.

“Unless this Honourable Court intervenes, the Government and people of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara State will continue to go through a lot of hardship and would ultimately suffer great loss as a result of the insufficient and unreasonable time within which the Federal Government is embarking on the ongoing currency redesign policy,” she stated.

Tribune

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Win a Councillorship Election First, Then Come Talk to Me, Dogara Blast Keyamo

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By Eric Elezuo

The immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has come hard on the spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, asking the lawyer to try and win a councillorship election before considering himself his equal in politics.

Both lawyers had been engaged in banters following a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, where he endorsed Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for president.

Buhari, on his Twitter handle, described Tinubu as a Nigerian who would give his best to Nigeria.

The tweet read, “Today in Lafia, Nasarawa State, I delivered my message: vote Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the next President of Nigeria and vote Governor Abdullahi Sule for a second term. I have known Asiwaju for more than 20 years; he is a committed Nigerian; he will give his best to Nigeria.”

Dogara, who reacted to the president’s comment, however, described it as a satire.

He said, “I know that PMB loves to crack jokes but I didn’t know he will escalate it to the level of satire. Asiwaju will give his best to Nigeria, really? Fake certificates, fake parentage, golden triangle escapades, racketeering. No, PMB. Nigeria does not deserve his best but we get the satire.”

In an exchange that followed, Keyamo said the comment was beneath Dogara, just as he described him as a political prostitute and backstabber.

He said, “My brother and law schoolmate, @YakubDogara, this tweet is beneath you. You are pained by the support of PMB for @officialABAT, two leaders who have stayed true to their beliefs and causes, unlike the political prostitute, wanderer and back-stabber that you’ve always been.”

Dogara, who fired back at Keyamo, asked him to contest for the post of a councillor before they both could be regarded as mates in politics.

He said, “My brother, I have a name for you but because it’s not a good one, I won’t say it as a cost of friendship. Yes, we were mates at Law School but I am waiting for you to win a councillorship election first so we can be mates in politics. Learn to punch below your weight category.”

Keyamo, in another reply to Dogara, said he had reached the height of his profession as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, adding that he should learn to respect his seniors.

He said, “My brother, it is sad you think every one must be rated by elections won and lost. You’ve just insulted millions of Nigerians in their various fields of endeavour. Let me remind you that I’ve reached the height of our profession and you must learn to respect your senior at the bar.”

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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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