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Catholic bishops to PEPC: So, INEC is free to go rogue? *Says, All eyes now on S’Court

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Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), on Sunday, weighed in on the outcome of last Wednesday’s judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), with one question – is it right for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to go rogue?

The body which particularly reacted to the position of the PEPC that INEC could not be questioned for choosing the mode of election to adopt wanted to know if the decision meant that the electoral body should not be trusted anymore by Nigerians in matters of election.

To them, now that the matter had left the panel of five Court of Appeal justices headed by Justice Haruna Tsamanni, the ball was now in the court of the Supreme Court to answer the question in the bid to do the final justice to the case.

The body representing the leadership of the Catholic faith in Nigeria, while stressed that Nigeria currently stood on the precipice of uncertainty with the outcome of the judgement, also bewailed the current hardship in the country, worsened by the removal of subsidy on pump price of petrol.

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Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, CBCN President, at the opening ceremony of the 2023 Second Plenary Assembly, in Abuja, said the 2023 elections, fell short of people’s legitimate expectations and moral and legal standards.

Underscoring the dismissive approach of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT, towards the petitions filed by aggrieved contestants, he said: “After hearing their petitions, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT, delivered its ruling in a marathon judgement on September 6, 2023.

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“The five justices of the Election Petition Tribunal unanimously dismissed the petitions. According to them, they lacked merit. Despite the billions of naira of tax-payers money appropriated for the provision of the BVAS technology as a game-changer in our general elections, the judges in their ruling tried, among other things, to suggest that it was wrong to expect INEC to keep its promise or obey the electoral regulation of transmitting election results electronically in real time from polling units.

“While respecting the views of the judges, two of the petitioners rejected their verdict as lacking in justice and so have decided to head to the Supreme Court to seek justice. As this case moves to the next level, the fate of the country continues to hang in the balance and the future of democracy in our land stands on the edge of a precipice.

“We pray and hope that the Supreme Court judges will neither bend the law nor seek to satisfy the whims and caprices of any party. We also pray and hope for a day in our nation when all election results will be finally decided at the polling units and not at the court.’’

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Ugorji, who also bewailed the deteriorating security situation in Nigeria, said: “In the face of this dismal situation, we cannot get tired of urging the government to rise to its primary responsibility of securing the lives and property of its citizens.”

Expressing deep concern over the prevailing state of tension and uncertainty in communities, where residents endure a life of increasing poverty, chronic hunger, hardships, and immense suffering, he noted that the dire situation had been further exacerbated by the abrupt and poorly planned removal of fuel subsidy, the floating of the naira, and the subsequent galloping inflation.

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The CBCN, which also lamented that the factors had significantly affected the prices of essential items such as food and transportation, plunging millions of Nigerians into excruciating economic hardship, stressed that government’s efforts to alleviate the harsh effects of subsidy removal had not yielded significant results, leaving countless Nigerians to bear the brunt of the ruling class’s actions.

The clerics, said: “People have continued to live in a state of tension and uncertainty in our communities as they are subjected to a life of deepening poverty, chronic hunger, untold hardship and wanton suffering.”

 

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Obi: Lagos-Calabar coastal highway, not now, may take 20-30 years

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Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the February 25, 2023 election on Monday, raised issues with the controversial Lagos-Calabar coastal highway awarded by the Federal Government to Hitech Construction, at the whopping amount of N13trillion, saying such a gigantic road project was not needed now at a time most of the Federal roads across the country are death-traps.

Obi, former Governor Peter Obi, who broke his silence for the first time over the project, since the news was first broken that the Federal Government had since awarded the contract, while acknowledging its potential benefits, expressed serious concerns about its pricing and raised questions regarding the timing and prioritization in the current Nigerian situation.

The LP boss, who highlighted the pressing issue of numerous uncompleted roads across the country, emphasising their role in economic growth and regional connectivity, maintained that the government should invest such huge resources to deal with the various roads across the country which were in various stages of disrepair, rather than plunging it into one road.

He listed critical roads in various zones, many of which have been under construction for several years due to poor funding and planning to include:

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  1. NORTH-WEST Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Road, – Sokoto – Funtua – Zaria Road, Kano – Hadejia Road, Kano – Katsina Road , Zaria – Funtua – Shema – Tsafe – Gusau – Talata – Mafara – Sokoto Road , Kano – Kwanar – Danja – Hadejia Road
  2. NORTH-EAST Kano – Damaturu – Maiduguri Road – Mubi – Maiduguri Road, Nguru – Gashua – Bayamari Road, Gombe – Biu – Numan Road, Dikwa – Marte – Monguno Road, Potiskum – Fika – Bajoga – Gombe – Biu Road, Mayo Belwa – Jada – Ganye – Tongue Road, Tumu – Pindiga – Kashere – Bashar – Wase – Wamba – Nassarawa Road.
  3. NORTH-CENTRAL Abuja – Lokoja – Okene – Auchi – Benin Road, Ilorin – Jebba Road, Kabba – Omuaran Road, Suleja – Minna Road, Makurdi – Gboko – Yandev – Katsina-Ala Road, Buruku Bridge across Katsina River.
  4. SOUTH-WEST Lagos – Badagry Road, Ibadan – Ife – Ilesha – Osogbo Road, Itoikin – Ijebu Ode – Ibadan Road, Ibadan – Ilorin – Jebba – Mokwa – Bokani Junction Road, Abeokuta – Ibadan Road, Ikorodu – Shagamu Road, Ado – Igede – Aramoko – Itawure Road, Ajasse Ipo – Offa – Erinle – Osun State Border Road.
  5. SOUTH-EAST: 9th Mile – Oturkpo -Makurdi Road, Enugu – Port Harcourt Road, Onitsha – Awka — Enugu Road, Onitsha – Owerri – Umuahia Road, Bende – Arochukwu – Ohafia Road, Okigwe – Afikpo Road, Nsukka – Obollo Afor – Ehamafu – Nkalagu Road, Oba – Nnewi – Okija Road.
  6. SOUTH-SOUTH: Benin – Sapele – Warri Road, East – West Road, (Warri – Kaiama – Ahoada – Port Harcourt – Eket – Oron) Yenegoa Road, Junction – Kolo – Otuoke Road, Sapele – Agbor – Ewu Road, Benin – Akure – Ore – Ife Road, Ikot Ekpene – Aba – Owerri Road, Jattau – Fugar – Agenebode Road, Bodo – Bonny Road with Bridge across Opobo Channel, Port Harcourt – Onne Road, Agbor – Sakpoba – Ogharefe Road, Odukpani Junction – Itu – Ikot Ekpene – Umuahia Road.
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With the Federal Ministry of Works allocating a capital budget of N892 billion for 2024, in addition to funding from multilateral loan projects and other sources, Obi questioned the wisdom of embarking on another massive project that may not be completed for the next 20 or 30 years.

He warned against exacerbating the problem of abandoned, incomplete projects that do not contribute to economic growth, urging the prioritisation of existing uncompleted projects, while emphasising the need to allocate resources towards repairing and completing vital infrastructure.

The former governor, who stressed the importance of focusing on the urgent needs of the people and ensuring that investments serve the collective good of the nation, advocated for prioritising the completion and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure over embarking on colossal new projects with uncertain completion timelines, adding that fiscal discipline and strategic prioritisation in addressing the country’s infrastructure challenges, must be paramount to leaders of the country.

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Fubara, Rivers assembly return to trenches! Lawmakers override gov on LG laws

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The seemingly unabating schism between Siminalayi Fubara, Governor and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, assumed another stage on Monday, with the lawmakers deciding to pass the local government Amendment Bill into law without the assent of the state governor,

The Assembly, in apparent defiance of the state High Court’s order directing the status quo on the issue of elongating the tenure of elected local government officials, which formed part of the amendment, went ahead to screen as well as confirm the chairman and other members of the Assembly Service Commission in the spirit of the new law.

Martins Wachukwu, spokesman of Martin Amaewhule, Speaker of the assembly, conveying the development in a statement, said the lawmakers made the decision at its 159th Legislative sitting held at the Assembly Quarters in Port Harcourt, which has since served as their sitting venue since the demolition of the main House of Assembly quarters by Fubara, last year.

Stating that Fubara declined assent to the Local Government (Amendment) Bill initially passed into law on March 13, 2024, by the House, the statement, said the lawmakers were bent on performing their constitutional duties and therefore decided to override the governor’s decision on the matter by a two-thirds majority.

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The statement read: “Determined to perform its Constitutional duties, the Bill was represented by the Majority Leader, Hon. Major Jack and debated upon by Members. Thereafter, the House in accordance with the provisions of Section 100(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as altered, which empowers the House to override the Governor, where he withholds his assent; the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule put the question, and with a two-thirds majority vote, the House agreed to override the Governor and passed the Bill into Law.”

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In another development, the House screened and confirmed nominees for the position of Chairman and Members of the Assembly Service Commission, including: Sampson Worlu as Chairman, Abinye Blessing Pepple, Blessing Belema Derefaka, Gbaranen Robinson, and Dorcas Amos as Members.

The statement recalled that on March 22, 2024, the House passed the Rivers State Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill into Law, wherein the House donated back to itself the power to appoint the Chairman and Members of the Assembly Service Commission.

The statement added: “On a sad note, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Amaewhule, announced the demise of Mr Lucky Amadi, the husband of the honourable Member for Obio/Akpor Constituency II, Hon. Emilia Lucky Amadi, and stated that Members would pay a condolence visit to their colleague.”

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BREAKING: Five days after sacking Ganduje, Kano judge reverses self

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Justice Usman Mallam Na’Abba, of the Kano State High Court, on Monday, reversed himself five days after making an order barring Abdullahi Ganduje National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from parading himself or performing any official function in that capacity.

In vacating the order made ex-parte, following a plea by Haladu Gwanjo and Laminu Sani Barguma, who claimed to be the Chairman and Secretary of the APC Ganduje Ward in Dawakin Tofa Local Government area of the state, for the suspension of the former Governor of the state from his present job, Na’Abba said he relied on fresh arguments made on the matter.

The fresh applications were brought by Glory Adah, a litigation secretary at the law firm representing the APC boss in a motion ex-parte, accompanied by a 27-paragraph affidavit in support, and a written address dated April 22nd, countering the grounds of his previous orders.

Na’Abba, who adjourned the case to April 30 for the hearing, said: “An order of interim injunction is hereby granted staying the execution of the order of interim injunction contained in the ruling of this court delivered on 17h April 2024 directing parties to maintain status quo ante as at the 15th day of April 2024 in relation to the suspension of the 4th respondent/applicant from the 1st respondent by the Ganduje Ward Executive Committee pending the hearing and determination of the 4th respondent/applicant motion on notice.”

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