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Why Chicago Saga May Not End Soon

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By Eric Elezuo

The crises surrounding the authenticity of President Bola Tinubu’s academic sojourn is as old as his political career. But the simple desire of the Nigerian public has been for the president to show evidence that he attended school, especially the Chicago State University. This plea has been met with rebuff, therefore, dragging the saga of a supposedly unauthenticated certificate.

However, on Friday, the Chicago State University announced that a said Bola A. Tinubu attended their school, but the transcript released still bear female as gender, and offers discrepancy in dates, thereby sustaining the saga.

Earlier in 2002, the present Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, went to court over certificate forgery against Tinubu. This was cited by the spokesperson, Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, Daniel Bwala, in an interview on Channels TV. He noted that Keyamo had sued the Lagos Assembly in 2002 over Tinubu’s candidacy as the then governor of Lagos State.

Citing a law report titled Keyamo V. House Of Assembly, Lagos State (2002), Bwala said, “This is the Supreme Court decision in the case I have cited and I will just read a line: The appellant alleged amongst others as a legal practitioner that he has been confronted by some of his clients who wanted to understand certain things they consider important relating to their contesting the governorship in Lagos State.

“He further, that is Festus Keyamo, alleged certificate forgery against the Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and that the latter was not qualified for the office of the governor.”

Bwala noted that Keyamo, who is today speaking in favour of and defending tinubu’s eligibility, was the appellant in the then case.

Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President of Nigeria, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2023 presidential election had heightened the tension associated with the 2023 election by filing a petition to obtain information about Tinubu’s academic records at Chicago State University, where the president claimed he attended and obtained a certificate.

Atiku’s attorney, Angela Liu, had requested documents pertaining to Tinubu’s admission, attendance, degrees, awards, and honors obtained during his time at the university. These issues had been a subject of disputes since the days of Tinubu’s stewardship as the governor of Lagos State.

Atiku had aimed to use the subpoena to verify the authenticity of his claims and establish the truth amidst ongoing disputes about his election and academic history.

Atiku’s application was spurred by an earlier case in Nigeria on November 9, 2022, several months before the Presidential elections, in which one Mr. Mike Enahoro-Ebah, described as a “Human Rights Defender and Public Interest Litigator” in Abuja, commenced proceedings against Tinubu by filing a “Direct Criminal Complaint” in the Chief Magistrate Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In a swift response however, President Tinubu’s legal team had filed a counter motion to dismiss the subpoena in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Chicago, USA through Victor Henderson, counsel to President Tinubu, who argued that the petition lacked the necessary court authorization and provided inadequate time for compliance, violating the Illinois Supreme Court Rules.

According to BussinessDay, “Legal experts and commentators have voiced their opinions on Atiku’s pursuit of justice abroad. Mike Ozekhome, a human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, viewed Atiku’s actions positively, stating that the international nature of the matter warranted seeking legal assistance outside Nigeria.

“Kennedy Khanoba, a Constitutional lawyer, however, maintained that unless President Tinubu is convicted in the US court, Atiku’s efforts might yield little results. He emphasized that only a conviction would have a significant impact on Tinubu’s presidential position, as convictions result in a prohibition from holding public office for a specified period.

“Jackson Ojo, a political analyst, told Punch Newspaper that the sovereignty of Nigeria as an independent state could limit the influence of foreign court rulings on Nigerian affairs. He expressed skepticism about the direct impact of an American court ruling on the outcome of Nigerian elections and judicial proceedings.

As the legal battle unfolds, Nigerians remain divided on the efficacy of seeking justice abroad. Atiku’s pursuit of evidence through the US court system has ignited debates about the integrity of Nigeria’s legal system and its potential impact on the country’s political landscape. The final verdict and its implications for the Nigerian presidency remain uncertain as legal proceedings continue.

But complicating the defence of Tinubu and his legal, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, admitted that it has jurisdiction in the case instituted by Atiku, to compel CSU to produce critical documents relating to Tinubu.

The desire of all and sundry to know the truth led to a bombardment of the university official X (former Twitter) account, and due to heavy traffic and enquiries about President Bola Tinubu academic records, a lockup of the account of authorised.

In the X account of the university, there was the ‘protect your posts’ feature that allows users to disclose their mission from persons who are not followers.

This, it was learnt was due to new enquiries to those who were not usual visitors to the X account of the university.

Owing to this, any new visitor to the social media account was asked to disclosed the purpose.

THE ORIGIN

In his original complaint as described by oblongmedia, Mr. Enahoro-Ebah alleged that Mr. Tinubu submitted an “Affidavit of Personal Particulars” to INEC in June 2022 as part of a required filing to run for President that included a forged CSU diploma dated June 22, 1979 and other information that is inconsistent with the CSU documents.

According to court papers filed by Atiku in the US court dated August 2, 2023, to support the allegations, “Mr. Enahoro-Ebah stated that after Mr. Tinubu made his INEC filing, Mr. Enahoro-Ebah obtained a subpoena from the Circuit Court of Cook County, dated August 11, 2022, and served it on CSU. In response to the subpoena, CSU’s Registrar, Mr. Caleb Westberg, sent a letter dated September 22, 2022, to Mr. Enahoro-Ebah’s Chicago counsel, Mr. Matthew J. Kowals, advising Mr. Kowals that “[t]he enclosed documentation is all the records we have for Bola E. Tinubu.

“According to the complaint, the documents that accompanied Mr. Westberg’s letter included a CSU diploma issued to Mr. Tinubu on June 27, 1979. The June 27 diploma allegedly produced by CSU to Mr. Kowals, and the June 22 diploma allegedly submitted by Mr. Tinubu to INEC, are very different documents. In addition to the different dates, the documents have different seals, fonts, and language. The June 22 diploma has grammatical errors that the June 27 diploma does not have. They are also signed by different persons who are ostensibly officials of CSU. The June 22 diploma has three signatures, one of which purports to be the signature of Dr. Elnora Daniel as President of CSU. The other two signatures on the June 22 diploma are illegible.

“By contrast, the June 27 diploma only has two signatures. They purport to be the signatures of Dr. Daniel, again as the President of CSU, and Dr. Niva Lubin as the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees. Compare

“In his complaint, Mr. Enahoro-Ebah asserts that the June 27 diploma produced by CSU to Mr. Kowals is authentic, and that the June 22 diploma submitted by Mr. Tinubu to INEC is a forgery. However, Applicant’s staff have recently conducted further research into the names of CSU officials with legible signatures on the two diplomas: Dr. Daniel (whose signature appears on both the June 22 and June 27 diplomas) and Dr. Lubin (whose signature appears only on the June 27 diploma). According to public records, Dr. Daniel and Dr. Lubin did not join CSU until the late 1990s—around two decades after CSU supposedly awarded the June 22 diploma and/or the June 27 diploma to Mr. Tinubu.

Applicant’s research therefore calls into question the authenticity of both the June 22 and the June 27 diplomas.

In his complaint, Mr. Enahoro-Ebah alleged the following additional discrepancies between the information provided by Mr. Tinubu to INEC and the documents produced by CSU to Mr. Enahoro-Ebah:

“According to documents produced by CSU, the “Bola Tinubu” who attended CSU was a U.S. citizen, while in the information provided to INEC, Mr. Tinubu states that he has always been solely a Nigerian citizen and has never acquired the citizenship of any other country. According to the documents produced by CSU, the “Bola Tinubu” who attended CSU was born in 1954, while according to the information provided to the INEC, Mr. Tinubu was born in 1952.

“According to the documents produced by CSU, the “Bola Tinubu” who applied to CSU submitted a prior transcript from Southwest College that identified “Bola Tinubu” as “female.” According to the documents produced by CSU, the “Bola Tinubu” who attended CSU claimed that s/he had graduated from Government College, Lagos, in 1970, while in the information provided to INEC, Mr. Tinubu makes no mention of having attended Government College.

ATIKU SATISFIES ALL REQUIREMENTS – US COURT

Pursuant to the above, Atiku, by and through his counsel, applied to the Court for an order granting him leave to compel CSU to release and verify the authenticity of documents purportedly issued to Tinubu by the university.

The court said Atiku has satisfied all statutory requirements as he is an “interested person”; and the respondent, CSU, is a public university established and existing under the laws of Illinois, with its principal campus and offices in Chicago.

Having met all requirements, the court said it will not hesitate to grant the prayers of Atiku.

Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on March 1, 2023 declared Bola Tinubu winner of the February 25, 2023 presidential election, having polled 8,794,726 to defeat his closest rivals, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Peter Obi of the Labour Party to the second and third positions respectively.

Both Atiku and Obi questioned Tinubu’s eligibility to run for the presidency. Obi’s argument revolved around Tinubu’s alleged forfeiture of $460,000 due to a drug-related case in the United States and his inability to secure 25 percent of votes in the Federal Capital Territory among other irregularities he felt occurred during the elections.

CHICAGO STATE UNIVERSITY CONFIRMS TINUBU’S STUDENTSHIP 

Chicago State University, CSU, in an article published on CBS Chicago, confirmed that  President  Bola Tinubu attended the university and graduated in 1979.

Read the full statement  below:

“As an educational institution, we are sometimes asked to provide information related to student records. The federal law known as FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) protects the privacy of student records and limits what an institution can release.

In August 2023, a request was made in U.S. federal court for the university to provide information related to educational records concerning Bola Tinubu, the President of Nigeria, and a former CSU student. The university has confirmed Tinubu attended CSU and graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree. Federal law, however, prevents us from providing further information without consent or unless allowed via court order.

CSU is confident in the veracity and integrity of our records regarding Tinubu’s completion of graduation requirements and degree certificate. The university is not a party to the Nigerian legal proceedings that spurred this request, and a U.S. federal judge will determine whether the university will provide further requested information.

Our response to the request for Tinubu’s academic records has been entirely consistent with our practices, policies and federal law. We would respond in exactly the same manner for any request for any student information by a third party.”

Meanwhile in a post on the PDP website, Angela Liu, who is Atiku’s Attorney for the case against Tinubu about the Chicago University Certificate, argued that the university never gave the president any certificate.

The application made in Case No. 23-cv-5099 was filed pursuant to 28 United States Constitution 1782.

The post stated that Liu already submitted a 24-paragraph declaration in support of the application, pursuant to 28 U.S.C 1782, for an order granting leave to serve the Subpoenas to Chicago State University attached to the Application as Exhibits 1 and 2.

Angela Liu stated, “How can you have two certificates issued by the same university, to the same person, for the same course of study, but issued on different dates and signed by two different people.”

According to Atiku’s lawyer, the certificates which Tinubu submitted in Nigeria were different.

“The first Chicago State University certificate which Bola Tinubu submitted to INEC was issued on 22nd June, 1979, and signed by three signatories including a certain Dr. Elnora Daniel, whose signature is dated 22 June 1979.

“The second certificate supposedly issued to Mr. Enahoro by Tinubu and tendered at the PEPT was issued on 27th June, 1979, and now signed by two people and the same Dr. Elnora Daniel, signed it but now the date changed to 27th June, 1979, and a certain Dr. Niva Lubin also signed.”

According to the post, “Now evidence has shown that Tinubu submitted two different certificates and both may even be fake. The two certificates have different fonts, they both have different dates, they both have different Chicago University Logo, they both have different grammar written, they both have different signatories.

“Now here is the crazy part, the Dr. Elnora Daniel who Tinubu put on his certificate as a signatory for CSU in 1979, was not an employee of CSU in 1979. She was not employed by CSU until 1998

“A whole 19 years after Tinubu allegedly graduated. So how did she sign in 1979, when the woman was not even an employee of Chicago University as at that time.

“Also the second signatory Dr. Niva Lubin who Tinubu claimed signed his certificate dated in 1979 was not an employee of Chicago University until 1996. A whole 17 years after Tinubu claimed he graduated.”

It alleged that Tinubu had no certificate from Chicago State University and Atiku had taken the bold step to summon Chicago State University as a respondent in the case in Illinois.

Tinubu’s political rival, Atiku Abubakar, claims that documents showing that Tinubu graduated from Chicago State in 1979 are not authentic, and that is grounds to nullify Tinubu’s election victory earlier this year.

csu-diploma-use.jpg

According to the People’s Gazette, Tinubu submitted the diploma to Nigeria’s election commission. It was purportedly issued in 1979 and signed by university President Elnora Daniel. But Daniel didn’t arrive at CSU until 1998 and left about ten years later. Submitting false records to the National Election Commission before the vote should nullify the election, Abubaker claims.

At a hearing in Chicago, Abubakar’s lawyers asked a federal judge to compel CSU officials to turn over Tinubu’s academic documents and appear for depositions. Judge Jeffrey Gilbert of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois did not rule on the request.

CSU’s lawyer, Michael Hayes, told Gilbert that the university wouldn’t be able to certify Tinubu’s diploma under oath.

A CSU spokeswoman said the university can confirm the president graduated. However, it cannot authenticate the diploma because it is a ceremonial document that is not part of a student’s official academic file.

westberg-use.jpg

With the confirmation of a certain Bola A. Tinbu attending and graduating from CSU in 1979, it therefore behoves on the Atiku legal team to prove that the aforementioned Bola is not Nigeria’s president, but a certain lady as the documents tend to declare.

The parties will soon have their day in court, and so the saga continues.

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Behold! The Asiwaju of Edeland, Gov Ademola Adeleke

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By Eric Elezuo

The ancient town of Ede in Osun State is set to host the who’s who in Nigeria’s political and traditional institutions as the Executive Governor of the state, His Excellency, Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, is installed as the Asiwaju of Edeland.

The one in town event is scheduled to hold on Monday, May 13, 2024 at the Grounds of the Palace of the Timi of Ędę, HRH Oba Adesola Munirudeen Lawal (Laminisa 1), on the same day the governor, who has been termed as ‘performing’ will be celebrating his 64th birthday.

The Asiwaju title was previously held by Governor Adeleke’s elder brother, Isiaka Adeleke, who passed away on April 23, 2017.

Among dignitaries expected at the event are the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, members of the Osun State executive and legislative councils, federal legislators, members of the diplomatic Corps, business men, politicians across the nation, entertainers and the general public.

THE MAN, ADEMOLA JACKSON ADELEKE

He has one of the most jovial personalities, combined with a mien that is down to earth and thoroughly enterprising. Many call him ever smiling senator; some others call him dancing senator while a whole lot of others call him the incoming governor. He is the Senator, who represented Osun West Senatorial district in the Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber between 2015 and 2019. He is Ademola Jackson Adeleke, a distinguished contender for the Osun governorship seat. 

Born of the Adeleke family of Ede in Osun State on May 13, 1960, Adeleke commenced his primary education at Methodist Primary School, Surulere Lagos State before he was privileged to relocate to Old Oyo State to continue his education at Nawarudeen Primary School, Ikire.

Adeleke was born Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke to a Muslim father and Nnena Esther Adeleke, an Igbo Christian mother. Like him, Adeleke’s father, Raji Ayoola Adeleke was a Senator and the Balogun of Ede land in Osun State. His father, Raji Ayoola Adeleke was also the leader of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).

On completion of his primary education, he moved on to The Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School, Ede to begin his post primary schooling. In the later years however, he attended Ede Muslim Grammar School Ede, where he completed his secondary school education and subsequently relocated to the United States of America, joining his two older brothers, who were also studying there.

In the United States, he joined Jacksonville State University, Alabama, and studied Criminal Justice, with minor in Political Science.

To prove doubting Thomases, who wiped up controversies around his educational qualification, wrong, he went back to school and got enrolled at Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the United States, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 2021.

A businessman and administrator of no mean repute, Adeleke was the humble Group Executive Director at his brother’s company, Pacific Holdings Limited from 2001 to 2016, where his credible performances shot the company to enviable heights; a height it is still enjoying till date.

It is imperative to note that before he joined Pacific Holdings Limited, Senator Adeleke worked with Quicksilver Courier Company in Atlanta, Georgia, US, as a service contractor from 1985 to 1989. His dexterity to work earned him a progression in career, and he berthed as Vice President at Origin International LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, US, a flavours and fragrance manufacturing company. His meritorious stewardship lasted a period of five years, from 1990 to 1994.

Not a few has described Adeleke as the philanthropic capital of Ede, as his influence in aiding the less privileged and downtrodden remains top notch. He is a voracious believer in community development, and has not spared any expense to see that his community receives global influence.

Politically, Adeleke is a beacon of light and hard nut to crack, having remained an albatross to opposing powers and a reference point to ideal administration.

Shortly after he lost his brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who died in April 2017, he contested the Osun West 2017 Senatorial by-election after the death of his brother, emerging as the winner under the Peoples Democratic Party, where he decamped to from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Having emerged senator, Adeleke’s political influence waxed stronger, an on July 23, 2018, he emerged as the governorship candidate of PDP in Osun State after defeating Akin Ogunbiyi by seven votes. Efforts made to deprive him of the mandate was twated by the courts.

Adeleke’s lawyer in his defense claims his secondary school hasn’t come out to deny his testimonial asking the court to dismiss the Case. The court dismissed the suit stating that the plaintiff could not prove Adeleke’s forgery.

Adeleke ran for Osun state governorship election under the PDP against top contenders Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola of APC and Iyiola Omisore of SDP on 22 September 2018. The election was declared inconclusive by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) while Adeleke was leading, and a rerun slated on September 27, 2018. The candidate of the APC Oyetola was declared winner after the run-off. Adeleke protested the result describing the election as a “coup”.

Much as on March 22, 2019, the tribunal sitting in Abuja declared Adeleke the winner of the election, the Supreme Court later affirmed Gboyega Oyetola as the authentic winner of the 2018 Osun State governorship election on Friday, July 5, 2019

Popularly known as the Dancing Senator because of his penchant to joyfully react to the sounds of music, Adeleke is uncle to one of Nigeria’s popular musicians, Davido.

Governor Adeleke is married to an equally successful businesswoman and a self-made boss. They are blessed with three children who are all entertainers. They are B-Red and Shina Rambo and a daughter, Nike Adeleke. He is the uncle of one Nigeria’s primus inter pares in entertainment, Davido.

As expected, Adeleke is moving Osun State to the greatest of heights as he promised, and many who know him agree that there are still very many more in the offing.

HIS EXTRAORDINARY EASE OF DOING BUSINESS STRATEGY 

The governor has shared good news on the ease of doing business in the state as follows:

In continuation of our administration’s effort to improve the state economy and encourage the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), we have completed the harmonization of multiple taxes and levies collected by different government departments, agencies, and ministries across all business sectors of the state economy including the informal sectors into a single bill. This Harmonized Bill curates all levies, which businesses are expected to pay on an annual basis as a single bill.

This initiative is to promote ease of doing business by ensuring seamless and convenient payment of levies and taxes due to individuals and businesses across the state in equal or unequal tranches and ensure the issuance of Harmonized Bill Certificate upon completion of payment of the total amount.

I hereby note to all business owners in Osun state both in formal and informal sectors that the official online payment channels for the state is pay.irs.os.gov.ng; POS machines in Tax stations across the state; commercial banks across Nigeria; and Money Transfer Services for those outside Nigeria.

In addition, we have also completed the deployment of Automation System for improved service delivery on payment of rent and lease on government properties; processing of Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) in 45 days; Electronic Affidavit System; Electronic State of Origin and Local Government Area of Origin portal; Mobile tax stations; Online Tax payment system etc.

OFFICIAL PROFILE OF GOVERNOR ADEMOLA ADELEKE, THE NEW ASIWAJU OF EDELAND

Governor Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke, the Executive Governor of Osun state and the new Asiwaju of Edeland is a pan Nigerian by birth, by philosophy and by worldview. Born at Enugu as a son of independence on 13th May, 1960, the new Ede frontliner widely acknowledged as the Olosun of Osun is a tactical politician, a businessman, show business activist and a humanist within philanthropism. The ever lively, urbane scion of the Adeleke family of Ede North Local Government is an innovative entrepreneur, a grassroot political figure and a strong advocate of good governance, then as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and now as the Governor of Osun State.

From his childhood, the Asiwaju is a man of complex character, a young man with multiplicity of talents and an adult with widely praised open heart, strong will and constancy of adaptation to ideas and innovations. From his secondary education at Ede Muslim Grammar School to his sojourn to the United States and tertiary education at the Jacksonville State University, Alabama where he majored in criminal justice, the Ede frontliner demonstrated deep business interest, unconventional approach and a rare mastery of intricacies of politics, business and social life.

Despite hailing from a well to do family, the Asiwaju was in the United States and Nigeria, a man in search of opportunities for self growth and advancement. His passion for self development and business prosperity occasioned his joining the Quicksilver Courier Company in Atlanta, Georgia, US, as a service contractor between 1985–1989. He progressed to Origin International LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, US, a flavours and fragrance manufacturing company where he served as Vice President from 1990 to 1994.

A suave businessman and administrator, he served as a Director of Guiness Nigeria Limited between 1992- 1999 where he contributed immensely to the expansion of the multinational company. He was later appointed Group Executive Director of Pacific Holdings Limited from 2001 to 2016. Senator Adeleke is also an acclaimed creative Industry entrepreneur and mentor. As a talented creative figure, he mentored world rated ace musicians while his family members and children are leading stars in the global music industry.

As a man ever restless in pursuit of self growth and opportunities, the Asiwaju again opted to restart his educational sojourn which he suspended because of business and entrepreneurial preoccupations. In 2019 after he was rigged out of a governorship election he clearly won, Governor Adeleke, in a can do spirit, re-enrolled at Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the United States and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice in 2021.

All along and considering his family background, the frontliner was for years both a political servant and leader, learning the rope from his father (Senator Ayoola Adeleke) , a second republic progressive Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his brother, Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, the First Executive Governor of Osun State. His business teeth were sharpened by his brother, the global business mogul, Dr Adedeji Adeleke while his political potency was strengthened by his sister, the Yeyeluwa of Edeland, Chief (Mrs) Dupe Adeleke- Sanni. The celebrant of today was eventually elected the President of the Adeleke dynasty, representing the sons and daughters of the great Adeleke family at home and abroad.

Having been thus fortified by his innate personality, his family background and his multifaceted experience, his political participation predated 1991 but he took the front seat in 2017 when he was elected with a landslide victory as a Senator for Osun West Senatorial District in 2017. His popularity reached a peak when he won the Osun 2018 governorship election before the open rigging and manipulation that was globally condemned.

As a man of steel character, the frontliner took the gauntlet again in 2022 and beat the incumbent to reclaim the stolen mandate of 2018. Imole as the Governor is popularly known has since been delivering on good governance, winning applause and praises from far and near.

In December 2023, he was honoured with a doctorate degree by the Valley View University, Accra, Ghana. The Vice Chancellor lauded the Governor’s multi-million naira education scholarship as a Senator, his sterling records on workers welfare as a Governor, his performance on infrastructure upgrades and his commitment to due process, rule of law and fear of God.

He has received several awards including the Governor of the Year Award by Champion newspapers in 2023, Sahel Standard Man of the Year in 2022, Vanguard Newspaper Governor of the Year on Infrastructure and a host of other recognition. The frontliner serves on several national governmental committees including being the representative of the South West on the National Minimum Wage Committee.

The new Asiwaju of Edeland is a strong family man, an avid sport lover, a man of God and a David of our time with incessant passion for praise singing and adulation of God Almighty.

Courtesy: Governor’s Office, 2024.

By this new office, Governor Adeleke is now the one who leads in Edeland, and is expected to use his office to better the lot of the people of Ede.

Congratulations sir!

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You’re Non-Existent, Fubara Tells Amaewhule-led Rivers Assembly

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Rivers State Governor, Similaya Fubara, has taken a swipe at the Martin Amaewhule-led group of lawmakers at the state House of Assembly and declared that they do not exist anymore in the eyes of the law.

“Let me say it here, those groups of men who claim that they are assembly members, they do not exist. I want it to be on the record,” Fubara declared

The governor stated this when he received on courtesy visit the Bayelsa State delegation of political and traditional leaders, led by former Governor of the State, Senator Seriake Dickson, at Government House in Port Harcourt on Monday.

Fubara and 26 members of the assembly loyal to former governor, Nyesom Wike, have been at loggerheads after the move to impeach the governor was thwarted.

He told the delegation that he has been showing restraint since the political crisis escalated in the state.

The governor further stated that despite wielding state powers that he can deploy to achieve his aim, he has continued to act as the big brother in the face of intimidation and unwarranted attacks.

“So, I want you to see the sacrifice I have made to allow peace to be in our state. I can say here, with all amount of boldness, I have never called any policeman anywhere to go and harass anybody.

“I have never gone anywhere to ask anybody to do anything against anybody. But what happens to the people that are supporting me? They are being harassed, they are being arrested and detained.

“There is no week that somebody doesn’t come here with one letter of invitation for trump-up charges and all those things,” he said.

The governor added, “I am saying all these because of what my senior said here. I don’t think the other party has shown any restraint. I am the one who has shown restraint in the face of this crisis.

“I am the one that is badly hit, even when I have all the government instruments to shake up the table. But, why will I do it? I believe that peace is the best relationship to cultivate.”

He revealed that he had always been present at any meeting that was called to resolve the crisis in the state but after each meeting, he was met with a new dimension of the crisis from the opposing side.

He, however, vowed to continue to be peaceful, acknowledging that power is transient.

“We might have our division, but I believe that one day, we could also come together, but it has gotten to a time when I have to make a statement that they are not existing. Their existence is me allowing them to exist. If I de-recognize them, they are nowhere. I want you to see the sacrifice I have made in allowing peace to reign in our state,” he concluded.

The Punch

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Yahaya Bello vs EFCC: The Tussle Continues

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By Eric Elezuo

With the declaration of the Apppeal Court, sitting in Abuja over the weekend, ordering a stay of proceedings in the contempt charge instituted by Yahaya Bello, former Kogi governor, against Ola Olukoyede, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the stage seems set for an elongation of legal fireworks between the two feuding entities.

The declaration was a follow-up of Bello, who approached the Kogi High Court, seeking an order to issue and serve the respondent (EFCC chairman) with “form 49 notice” to show cause why an order of committal should not be made on him.

The judge, after listening to the arguments of the applicant’s counsel, the submission and the exhibits attached in the written address, granted Bello’s prayers and ordered Olukoyede to be summoned to appear before the court to answer the contempt charge.

However, while it is believed that the crisis of apprehending the former governor for prosecution is an institutional matter, many on the other hand, has accused the EFCC chairman of attaching a lot of personal interest in the matter going by the way he is fighting tooth and nail to see Bello in custody.

In a chat with editors at the EFCC Headquarters, Jabi, Abuja, the anti-graft agency chairman swore to follow the prosecution of Bello to the logical conclusion.

He also vowed that all those who obstructed the arrest of the former governor would be brought to justice.

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

“If I do not personally oversee the completion of the investigation regarding Yahaya Bello, I will tender my resignation as the EFCC Chairman,” Mr Olukoyede had vowed, adding that those who obstructed the arrest of the former governor would be brought to book. This was a veiled accusation against the governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo, who used security agents to forestall the arrest of Bello in Abuja.

Olukoyede had also accused Bello of paying his children’s school fees upfront with funds from the atatae coffers.

“A sitting governor moved $720,000 directly from the government account to the Bureau de Change and used it to pay for the school fees of his child in advance in a poor state like Kogi, and you want me close my eyes under the guise that I’m being used. Use by who? At this stage of my life? By who for crying out loud?

“I didn’t initiate the case, I inherited the case file,” he retorted.

The EFCC had sought to arrest Yahaya Bello following his absence from court, and an order by Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja after his absence in court.

He was absent from court for his arraignment on a 19-count charge of alleged money laundering to the tune of ₦80bn.

The judge relied on sections 384(4) and (5) of the Administrative and Criminal Justice Act 2015, directing the counsel to the immediate past governor to receive a copy of the charge.

The court held that where it had become impossible to effect personal service of a legal process on a defendant, such could be done through substituted means.

Justice Nwite further held that it was clear that the former governor failed to appear in court for his arraignment.

Notable minds including veteran journalist, Dele Momodu; human advocate and constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome among others have said that the brazen nature with which Olukoyede is going about the matter smacks of personal vendetta, noting that now that the court of appeal has ordered a stay of execution of the contempt of court charges against Olukoyede, everyone must maintain status quotes, and allow Bello to respond to court summon, as the case is now between him and the court of Justice Nwite.

On his part, Momodu has lashed out at the EFCC for selective prosecution, wondering if Olukoyede has any personal stake in the matter, adding that generally the EFCC misfired in the Bello saga.

He said in part, during his Instagram live show:

“I don’t work for EFCC but from all the things that I have read, a lot of them, they misfired. That is the honest truth. They misfired. They didn’t do their due diligence. When you said a man took out money and paid for his children’s school fees, just as he was about to leave power, and you go and check the documents and you see that these things started happening from 2021, 2022 (laughs); I am not an illiterate.

“How do you expect me to believe everything they said when they were too much in a hurry to prosecute him that they did not take their time to check the file. Once you allow a lacuna in law, everything will fall flat.

“That is it. I am not one of those people who will say because I don’t like APC and because I supported Dino Melaye in the last election in Kogi State. Dino is my guy. But, I will not because of that be blinded by hatred for Yahaya Bello and say yes, he should go and surrender himself to EFCC when there is an existing injunction.

“And he is not the only governor who went to court and if the court has granted him that, so be it. We all know that our judiciary is not so perfect but you know, even at that, law is law, it must be obeyed. If we disobey the rule of law, then, we will have to obey the rule of the jungle. So, I never said that they are lying, it is their own statement that shows that they didn’t do their due diligence.”

TheCable, in its report, recalled that “a Kogi State high court presided over by Isa Jamil Abdullahi, had ordered Olukoyede to appear before it on May 13 to show why he should not be committed to prison for allegedly disobeying its order restraining the EFCC from arresting or taking any action against Bello.

“However, the EFCC chairman filed an appeal against the court summon.

“Olukoyede filed two motions, one seeking a stay of execution of the summon, and another one asking to serve processes on Bello via substituted means by pasting the process at his Abuja residence on No 9 Bengazi Steet Wuse Zone 4.

“In its ruling, a three-member panel of justices led by Joseph Oyewole granted the two motions.

“The appellate court fixed May 20 for the hearing of the substantive appeal marked CA/ABJ/CV/413/2024.

“Bello had on February 8, 2024, instituted a fundamental rights enforcement suit, asking the court to declare that “the incessant harassment, threats of arrest and detention, negative press releases, malicious prosecution” by the EFCC, “without any formal invitation, is politically motivated and interference with his right to liberty, freedom of movement, and fair hearing”.

“The former governor also sought an order “restraining the respondent by themselves, their agents, servants or privies from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain him”.

“On February 9, the Kogi high court granted an interim injunction restraining the EFCC from “continuing to harass, threaten to arrest, detain, prosecute Bello, his former appointees, and his staff or family members, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive originating motion for the enforcement of his fundamental rights”.

On March 12, the EFCC filed an appeal against the interim injunction because the court could not stop the commission from carrying out its statutory responsibility.

The Kogi high court delivered judgment on the substantive motion on notice on April 17 wherein the presiding judge granted an order restraining the EFCC “from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain Bello”.

However, the judge directed the commission to file a charge against Bello before an appropriate court if it had reasons to do so.

The judgment coincided with the recent “siege” laid on the Abuja residence of  Bello by EFCC operatives seeking to arrest him.

The commission had also obtained a warrant of arrest against the former governor from the federal high court in Abuja.

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

At the scheduled arraignment on April 18, Bello was absent.

At the court session, Abdulwahab Mohammed, counsel to Bello, told  Emeka Nwite, the presiding judge, that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant the warrant of arrest in the first instance.

He referenced the February 9 interim injunction issued by the Kogi high court, adding that the appeal filed by the EFCC was still pending.

However, the EFCC has filed a notice to withdraw the appeal.

In the notice filed on April 22, the anti-graft agency said the withdrawal was predicated on the fact that events have overtaken the appeal.

The commission also admitted that the appeal was filed out of the time allowed by law.

With the present status, legal minds are of the opinion that matters have returned to status quo, and Justice Emeka Nwite, reserved the right to order Bello’s appearance in court, and await his appearance before any other injunction can be  made.

“For now, it is not about who won or who did not. The matters of the case rest with the invitation of Bello by Justice Nwite. Bello was absent during his first summon, and the case was adjourned. So, everyone has to keep the calm and wait for the next hearing and see if he appears or not as directly by his lordship,” Ozekhome noted.

As it is therefore, May 20 will be a deciding factor for both Bello and EFCC as the tussle for who laughs last continues.

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