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Gboko APC Disowns Defecting Kaaba

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 The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Gboko Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue has disowned Mr Joseph Kaaba, pointing out that he was not a member of the party as claimed while defecting to the PDP on Saturday.

In a press statement issued on Saturday by Mr Francis Kyura,

Director of Media and Publicity, APC Gboko LGA, the party said Kaaba was never a member of the party.

APC described as an “erroneous representation” the claim that was circulated in the social media that Benue APC had lost a party chieftain.

“We wish to state that at no point did Mr Joseph Kaaba join the APC in Gboko LGA.

There is no evidence of his membership or APC registration ceremony after he left the Federal Civil Service a few years ago.

“The APC in Gboko LGA has received several retired directors at both the state and the Federal Civil Service, some of whose APC registration ceremonies were even witnessed by the National Secretariat of our party. At no point did Kaaba feature in any of the ceremonies,” the statement said.

The party said it appreciated Kaaba’s liberty to join any political party of his choice but equally felt it was wrong to lay claim to APC membership when he was not a member at no time.

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“People of Benue State are to note that the APC in Gboko LGA at the moment is saddled with the onerous responsibility of assimilating thousands of supporters of other political parties it has received in the past months and will not be distracted by the antics of smaller political parties in the state,’’  the statement said.  (NAN)

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OPINION

Saraki: The most Investigated Politician Award: The Winner is…

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By Adjori Terkuma

On July 17, 2020, when Bukola Saraki, the 58-year-old medical practitioner-turned-politician won a case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Federal High Court, Lagos, for the forfeiture of his property located in his hometown in Ilorin, Kwara State, many thought the bad weather had cleared and yielded for a bright day for him.

It was the second major legal battle Saraki won against the anti-corruption commission since he left office on June 6, 2019. In the first case, another forfeiture order sought by the EFCC over some of Saraki’s property in Ikoyi, Lagos was refused by the court on the ground that it was convinced that the
property was not acquired with proceeds of corruption.

A similar conclusion had been reached by the court which in the earlier case it “specifically ruled that there was no evidence that the property was built with any illicit or stolen funds from Kwara State Government or any other institution or quarter, whatsoever”.

The recent invitation to the former Governor of Kwara State again on Saturday, July 31, 2021, which is just about a year after the verdict of the court showed that the anti-corruption agency is not ready to leave the man alone. Narrating his frequent experience with the EFCC which is usually seeking for one reason or the other to pull him down, Saraki after the July 2020 verdict stated that “the last five years have been very challenging for me and my family. I have endured and defeated one false allegation and malicious litigation after another, in an ill-motivated persecution, intimidation, and harassment, through which some vested interests sought to damage my name and label me with charges of corruption but with the grace of Allah, I have always been victorious. I thank God for the outcome of this case which is the fifth victory in cases in which the EFCC was either the main investigating agency or the plaintiff.”

Apart from the aforementioned cases, in those five years, the EFCC had been involved in four other cases aimed at nailing Saraki and pinning charges on him. In September 2015, a few weeks after he emerged as President of the 8th Senate, the State filed charges of asset declaration falsification against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). In that case, the EFCC provided all the reports that were used to file charges against him. The agency’s investigator, Michael Wetkas, was the lead witness. To ensure Saraki did not escape, the charges kept on varying from the initial 13 to 16 and eventually to 18.

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During the trial, the government decided to throw all kinds of allegations against him. Some of these allegations went beyond the scope of what the CCT should try as they did not relate to the falsification of assets. Yet, the EFCC and the State decided to press on with the charges, despite the protest from Saraki’s legal team. Yet, in June 2017, the CCT dismissed the entire 18 charges against Saraki and acquitted him.

The State, urged on by the EFCC, took the matter to the Court of Appeal and on December 15, 2017, the appellate court dismissed 15 of the charges and ordered that three others should go back to the CCT for retrial. Both Saraki and the State expressed their displeasure with the Court of Appeal’s verdict and headed to the Supreme Court. On July 6, 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed all the charges and gave Saraki a clean bill.

Before then, the State had also filed a suit accusing Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, of falsifying the provision of the Senate Rules Book, although, at the time of the use of the rule book, they were outsiders to the Senate as mere Senators-elect. Good sense prevailed after the second sitting of the Abuja High Court on the case as the prosecutor advised the government that the case was a mere frivolity and should be discontinued in the interest of justice and decency.

Before then, Saraki under President Goodluck Jonathan has experienced the same persecution following his decision to sponsor a motion in the Seventh Senate on the monumental fraud contained in the fuel subsidy payment. After the motion which some members of the administration believed was aimed at embarrassing the government, the police Special Anti-Fraud Unit was set against him. Also, the EFCC was used to harass him. None of the investigations resulted in any court trial.

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It is widely believed that the decision of Saraki to lead the mass defection of governors and senators of the then ruling party into the then opposition APC was a protest against the oppressive moves against him by the Jonathan government and its agents.

Unfortunately for Saraki, the movement was from frying pan to fire. The APC did not give him any respite after they had used his resources, ideas, and connections to get to power. The point of the division was his decision to contest for the office of Senate President against the will and machinations of a small group of oligarchs who planned to seize control of the party.

In this battle for the control of the party and the desperate bid to whip everybody into line, Saraki was made to hold the short end of the stick. And the EFCC became an instrument for dealing with the recalcitrant but strong member. The role of the anti-graft Agency in all these political or partisan manipulations is what Saraki alluded to in his statement after his victory at the Federal High Court in July last year when he stated that “I hope that with the outcome of today’s case, the EFCC should learn that a serious issue like the fight against corruption should not be reduced to a forum-shopping means to execute personal vendetta or prosecute parochial agenda. Fighting corruption and combating economic crime requires stakeholders to eschew coercion while employing upright diligence, due process, fairness, equity, and broad mindedness in dealing with all cases and persons.”

He continued: “The deployment of a state institution to fight personal and partisan battle, particularly with the use of the mass and social media as championed by the EFCC was aimed at inflicting damages to my name, reputation and elective public service record, through a targeted misinformation and disinformation campaign of calumny, also directed at intimidating the judiciary. It was directed at giving the wrong impression about me. As I record yet another vindication by the competent court of law, God’s willing, my focus will now shift to more serious issues”.

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Most of the moves against Saraki between 2015 and 2020 took place under Ibrahim Magu who had become a formidable foe of the former Senate President, apparently because under the Saraki-led Senate he failed to secure the Senate confirmation as EFCC chairman. He functioned in an acting capacity for the five years he spent in office.

Saraki, through the successful defence of the source of money for the acquisition of his property in Lagos and Ilorin, thought that would be the end of his travails from EFCC. That was why he boldly stated that “with today’s decision of the Court, it is my expectation that the EFCC which has played significant roles in the various court cases against me from the CCT to Supreme Court and back at the Federal High Court, with the consequent media trial and malicious campaigns, will now leave me alone to live my life, and enjoy my unfettered rights to freedom of thought, expression, association, occupation, and dignity, as a private citizen and focus on serious issues of national development”.

As the event of last weekend has proven, Saraki is back in the usual brickbat session with the EFCC. Even though the commission now has a more professional, calm, dedicated, ethical, and sophisticated leadership under Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, only time will tell how their last encounter with Saraki, who said he went to their office on his own volition to answer questions on any issue they may pose to him, will end.

It is for this reason that I believe the rightful Winner of the MOST INVESTIGATED POLITICIAN OF THE FOURTH REPUBLIC IS DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI. I need to emphasise that the man has continued to come out clean and unblemished.

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POLITICS

Seven PDP National Officers Resign

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Seven deputy national officers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday resigned their positions as members of the National Executive Council.

The seven national officers are Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi; Deputy National Legal Adviser, Ahmed Bello; Deputy National Women Leader, Umoru Hadizat; Deputy National Auditor Divine Amina Arong; Deputy National Organizing Secretary, Hassan Yakubu; and Deputy National Financial Secretary, Irona Alphonsus.

The officers attributed their resignation to incompetence of the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.

One of the officers, who spoke on anonymity, cited bad treatment exhibited by the Secondus led National Working Committee (NWC) leadership on the deputies since they were elected in 2017.

“Since our election in 2017, we (deputy national officers) have only met with Secondus thrice. It is not as if he called us; on those three occasions, we sought audience with him.

“To him, we are just a necessary evil to be tolerated but never to be catered for. We all have our constituencies and our followers.

“It appears they see us as nothing but appendages forced on them by the party’s constitution,” he said.

Odeyemi, who was in London, United Kingdom, while declining comment on the development, aligned himself with the decision of his colleagues to resign.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, confirming the development, said that the NWC had received the resignation letters.

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Ologbondiyan said that the party leadership would look into the matter and adopt the internal mechanism to resolve it.

“The NWC of our great party at its meeting today received the notice of the resignation from deputies who are elected members of the National Executive Committee.

“The meeting of the NWC and the deputies immediately took place to dialogue on the issues that were raised.

“The party will look into the grievances raised by members of NEC as well as members of the National Working Committee.

“The internal conflict resolution mechanism of our party has also been immediately activated to put these issues behind us.

“We call on all the leaders, stakeholders and members of our great party to remain calm as we collectively resolve these issues,” Ologbondiyan said.

The National Youth leader, SKE Ude-Okoye, also briefing newsmen in his office at Wadata House, the party National Secretariat, Abuja, alleged that Secondus was incompetent of managing the affairs of the party, saying he lacked managerial capacity to manage PDP.

He said that Secondus had made sure that many departments of the party did not function as effectively as it ought to function.

“The Chairman has nothing to offer to the party only to come here and deceive us.

“There is a sharp division in our NWC right now, not only me, many more NWC members are more aggrieved than myself.

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“Today I have asked him in our NWC meeting to resign his position as the chairman of this party because he cannot lead this party to victory,” Ude-Okoye said.

He called on PDP leaders, the governors, the founding fathers, youths and women to rise up to rescue the party from Secondus incompetent leadership.

“Secondus is not willing to take us to anywhere. He is just there to make sure that he enriches himself.

“I am here to make it very clear to all Nigerians that if Secondus does not resign from the party, I am going to leave the party for him to eat the party and own the party.

“The governors, if they don’t wade into this matter right now, I assure Nigerians that within the next three, four days, my letter will be public,” Ude-Okoye said.

He added that more officers of the NWC would still resign because of Secondus.

“Right now I can tell you that not less than eight to ten persons within the NWC members are very aggrieved with Secondus,” Ude-Okoye said.

Asked if they have explored the impeachment clause in the constitution of the party instead of resigning his position, Ude-Okoye said they were in the process.

Also reacting to the development, Mr Ike Abonyi, the Media Adviser to Secondus, described the allegation of incompetence and self enrichment against Secondus by Udo-Okoye as unfortunate.

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Abonyi expressed concern that it took Ude-Okoye three and half years to know that Secondus was incompetent, and enriching himself.

“It took him three and a half years and four, five months to the convention, it is very unfortunate because he has operated as the youth leader of this party since December 2017 with Secondus as National Chairman.

“He has worked with him but suddenly, few months to the convention, after the game of this morning, in some part of Abuja, he suddenly discovered that Secondus is incompetent. He suddenly discovered that Secondus is enriching himself?

“I want to assure members of the party that the structure of the party is intact and Prince Secondus is the National Chairman.

“Anybody who resigns will be filled the next day and this party will work to victory in 2023. There is no going back about it.

“All those who are looking for interim government few months to general election are taking us back to Egypt and no body is ready to go back to Egypt.

“We have passed through this road before and we don’t want to go back there,” Abonyi said.

The resignation and the internal crisis is coming at the heel of the party membership e-registration that commenced  on Monday.

This was also as the party was preparing for its national convention expected to hold in December.

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POLITICS

APC Ward Congresses: Group Accuses Gov. Oyetola of Compromising Committee

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By Jude Opara, Abuja

Certainly the last is yet to be heard concerning the conduct of the Ward Congresses of the All Progresses Congress (APC) last week in Osun state with a group under the aegis of The Osun Progressives (TOP) accusing Governor Gboyega Oyetola influencing the Hon.

Gbenga Elegbeleye led Ward Congresses Committee.

TOP in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday said the press conference granted by Elegbeleye after the event to a large extent exposed how the Governor Oyetola led Ilerioluwa faction of the APC compromised members of the Ward Congress Committee sent from the National Secretariat of the party to conduct congress in the state.

Adelowo Adebiyim the Chairman of TOP said his group rejects the position of Elegbeleye and his committee saying it was only an effort to cover the alleged scam and sacrilege against democracy during the congress.

Adebiyi said it is regrettable that the representatives of the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (NCECPC) of the APC will descend so low to tell a bare faced lie in order to cover the illegality they called Ward Congress.

“Elegbeleye said that it was only those who obtained forms that were screened and had congress conducted for and we say it is a white lie which stands all logics on its head.

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“May it please Elegbeleye to tell the whole world where, when and who conducted the screening for 35 persons in each of the 30 Local Governments and one Area Office?

“It will be necessary too for Elegbeleye to tell the world, how he managed to screen the number of contestants running to several thousands when his committee arrived Osogbo on Friday evening with the congress commencing in the morning of Saturday, July 31, 2021. What a liar!

“Elegbeleye will do well to tell the whole world and produce the list of those who supervised the Congress in each of the 332 wards other than the Governor’s group, IleriOluwa who were harassing and intimidating hapless party members in most wards where elections were held.

“It is surprising that Elegbeleye who on arrival in Osogbo met with only Governor Gboyega Oyetola and his loyalists inside the cozy atmosphere of the Government House and stayed the night in the 3 star Hotel in company of Senator Omisore and others would think rational human beings will listen to the scandalous lie he told at a structured press conference aimed at changing the well known iniquity committed last Saturday against democratic norms.”

TOP also urged the national leadership of the APC to reject whatever report brought to them by Elegbeleye whom it said abandoned the assignment he was sent to do and colluded with Governor Oyetola and his group, IleriOluwa to manipulate the Ward Congress.

READ  Appeal Court Reverses INEC’s De-registration of 22 Parties
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