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Timi Frank Urges PEPT to Transmit Proceedings Live

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Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, on Thursday, called on the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) to transmit its proceedings live.

Frank in a statement in Abuja, said this has become necessary to ensure transparency and openness in the conduct of the tribunal.

He said the move would make Nigerians feel a sense of belonging by keeping them abreast of the progress or otherwise of hearings of the petitions as critical stakeholders.

He said: “We have seen in other countries even within Africa like Kenya where proceedings on election petition sittings were transmitted live so voters would have the opportunity to see how justice is being dispensed.”

He also urged the PEPT to urgently commence sitting, ensure accelerated hearing of the case and speedily conclude the case within time statutorily allotted before inauguration on May 29, 2023.

He said: “We know as it stands, the All Progressives Congress is buying time with delay tactics so as to frustrate the case till after inauguration.

“This is geared towards allowing the APC to use incumbency powers to influence the judgement of the court.

“But we call on the Tribunal especially the Justices of the Appeal Court and Supreme Court to put Nigeria first before personal interest.

“The people want the proceedings to be transmitted live. They must listen to the call of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) by doing the case differently for the first time.

“We are aware from intelligence reports that the Department of State Services (DSS) has started putting threat calls across to a few Justices of the Appeal and Supreme Courts to blackmail and get them to delay the court processes to the advantage of the ruling APC.

“This was the same way the DSS intimidated and blackmailed the Independent National Electoral Commission to swing the results of the general election in favour of the APC.

“We dare say that with the subterranean threats and pressure being mounted on the judiciary, Nigerians are beginning to lose hope of getting true and unfettered justice in the election petition cases before the courts.

“In Kenya, the Supreme Court concluded hearing of an election petition case and gave judgement in two weeks and we believe that the judiciary in Nigeria can equally save time and earn the trust of Nigerians by working to terminate the case and give its judgement before the inauguration date.

“Let the Judiciary know that Nigerians are watching them closely, both locally and internationally. Therefore there is need for them to impartially adjudicate on the present election petition task before them without any modicum of compromise or resort to selling justice to the highest bidder the way the DSS would want them to so do.

“We also use this opportunity to call on the international community to help save democracy in Nigeria by prevailing on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency call the DSS to order and stop the agency from interfering in the electoral and judicial processes in the country.”

Frank, who is the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East, equally called on the DSS to stop being partisan but to concentrate on their constitutionally assigned duties.

He described as unfortunate a situation where the DSS has been turned to an errand boy of highest bidders through alleged illegal sale of information that recently manifested in leakage of personal telephone conversation between high profile Nigerians.

He added: “This is not what the DSS is meant to do but today the agency has become very porous with its agents being accused of selling classified information and taking part in clandestine blackmail activities to please the ruling party.”

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Tinubu Announces Akume As SGF, Gbajabiamila As Chief of Staff

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The President, Bola Tinubu, on Friday, appointed the outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, as his new Chief of Staff.

He also appointed a former Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, Sen. Ibrahim Hadejia, as Deputy Chief of Staff and Former Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, as Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

This was revealed in a statement signed on Friday by the State House Director of Information, Abiodun Oladunjoye, titled ‘President Tinubu appoints Gbajabiamila COS, Sen. Ibrahim Hadejia, DCOS, George Akume, SGF.’

“In a meeting with Progressives Governors Forum, the President also named former Governor of Benue State and immediate past Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, Secretary to the Government of the Federation,” the statement read.

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Police Dismiss Sergeant for N98,000 Extortion

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The Lagos State Police Command on Wednesday announced the dismissal of Sgt. Ekpo Shimuyere, who was attached to the Sogunle Division, for extorting a young man of N98,000.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, told journalists that the command’s Provost Department had already disrobed the dismissed sergeant.

According to him, the dismissed sergeant collected the phone of his victim and used a Point of Sale operator to transfer N98,000 out of the N100,000 in the young man’s bank account.

Hundeyin said the policeman’s action was contrary to the ethics of the profession.

He said, “The police command got the complaint from the victim and the officer denied the crime when he was contacted. The command placed him under detention so that he will not tamper with the evidence.

“We wrote to his bank and obtained his statement of account. We were able to trace the money to where the POS operator transferred it before transferring the money to the officer’s account.

“We followed due process to get his account. The victim was invited in the course of the investigation and he testified.

“The POS operator was also invited, and he said the officer requested him to transfer the money from the victim’s account to another one.”

The PPRO said the Sergeant was consequently subjected to an orderly room trial in line with extant laws.

“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos Command, Mr Idowu Owohunwa, has reviewed the orderly room procedure of the officer with Force No. 461654, attached to the Sogunle Police Division and has approved the punishment of dismissal from the force,” he said.

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PDP Can Suspend, Expel Wike According to Law, Court Rules

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The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, told the former governor of Rivers, Nyesom Wike, that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the right to suspend or expel him if the action is done under the law.

Justice James Omotosho stated this in a judgment on a suit filed by Mr Wike before the 2023 general elections to seek a court order to stop PDP from taking action against him without a fair hearing.

Mr Omotosho said the court had considered the processes filed by parties and arguments of counsel.

He held that suspending or expelling the applicant without affording him the right to defend himself would breach his fundamental rights as enshrined in the party’s and Nigeria’s constitutions.

He said though the party had the right to suspend or expel its members, it must comply with its law.

The judge said that though section 46(1) of the law vested jurisdiction on the court if one’s rights had been breached, he said the court would not dabble into the internal affairs of any political party, except where the party had violated the right of a member without recourse to its laws.

“Where this right ought to be enforced, the court will do everything within its reach to ensure this.

“However, as fundamental and sacrosanct these rights are, they are not absolute,” he said.

The judge, therefore, agreed that any member of a political party who appeared before a disciplinary committee should be allowed to defend himself.

“And if not, any decision taken shall be null and void,” he said.

He said, “This court is convinced that the applicant is entitled to a fair hearing and that the respondent also has the right to discipline its members in accordance with the law.”

The judge further said Mr Wike had the right to associate and that the threat to dismiss him without inviting him to defend himself contravened Article 57 (1)(2) of the party.

He said the party’s national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, and his agents were bound to promote constitutional democracy.

The ex-governor had sued the PDP, its National Working Committee (NWC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) as first to third respondents.

Mr Wike, in the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/139/2023, dated and filed February 2 by his lawyer, Joshua Musa, SAN, also joined Mr Ayu; national secretary of PDP, Samuel Anyanwu, and the Independent National Electoral Commission as fourth to sixth respondents respectively.

He had prayed for an order directing all parties to maintain the status quo and stay all actions relating to the threat to suspend or expel him by the first to fifth respondents, pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion.

He asked the court to enforce his fundamental right to freedom of association which was allegedly about to be breached by the respondents.

But the PDP, through its lawyer, Johnson Usman, SAN, disagreed with Mr Wike’s submission.

He argued that the case was only based on speculation as Mr Wike had failed to provide evidence to substantiate that the respondents intended to suspend or expel him from the party.

He said the party had not contemplated suspending or expelling members of the G5 governors or the Integrity Group, despite engaging in anti-party activities.

He said Mr Wike and four other governors engaged in anti-party activities by forming the Integrity Group and campaigning for another presidential candidate in the February 25 election.

(NAN)

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