Weekly Political notes
N4.7bn: Obanikoro Returns N134m To EFCC
A former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, on Monday returned N30m to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), reports claimed. This brings the total amount of money he has returned to the EFCC to N134m.
A source at the EFCC said: “Obanikoro came on Monday and presented a draft of about N30m. Initially we did not want to collect it because it is small compared to what he is supposed to have given us. However, the legal department advised us to collect it.”
Obanikoro had in October returned N104m to the commission. The ex-minister, who returned to Nigeria last month after spending about 15 months in the United States, was accused of receiving N4.7bn from the Office of the National Security Adviser under the leadership of Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
Obanikoro had said in his statement at the EFCC that after receiving the money in 2014, he gave N1.219bn to the then governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, while N1.3bn was given to the PDP candidate in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore.
He also confessed to giving Fayose a separate $5.377m at Spotless Hotel in Ekiti State, in the presence of party leaders including the then PDP Secretary, Mr. Tope Aluko.
Obanikoro was said to have kept about N785m for himself, which he allegedly spent, while campaigning ahead of the PDP governorship primary in Lagos State.
Well, if this report is true, why was Obanikoro complaining while in the US that he was being witch-hunted by the EFCC? Revelations coming from investigations of his involvement in the alleged financial fraud is shocking and damning. It shows that Obanikoro has a hidden political agenda to unveil. He is yet to confirm or deny whether he was brought back to do some hatchet job for the party in government.
Already, Obanikoro’s one-time political ally and governor of Ekiti State Ayodele Fayose, has raised the alarm over alleged plan by the powers-that-be to use Obanikoro to bring him (Fayose) down.
Even though Fayose has not explained the details, it is left for his accuser to prove otherwise. Whatever it is, Nigerians are watching with keen interest how Obanikoro and the EFCC drama will end ahead of 2019 polls. Will he be let off the hook and accommodated in the realignment of forces in the ruling APC? Time will tell.
PDP Senators Protest, Walk Out From Plenary
Members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Senate on Wednesday staged a walk out from the chamber, following uproar that trailed the defection of Senator Yele Omogunwa to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Omogunwa, the senator representing Ondo South, came to the Senate on the platform of the PDP, but announced his defection to the APC on the eve of the recent Ondo governorship election won by his new party’s candidate, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
On Wednesday, Senate President Bukola Saraki read Omogunwa’s letter through which he formally informed his colleagues of his defection.
In the letter read by Saraki, Omogunwa mentioned division in the PDP as ground for cross carpeting.
The Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, then raised a point of order, saying there was no division in the PDP, leading to a shouting match between the opposition senators and their APC colleagues who stood to welcome Omogunwa into their fold. Consequently, Mr. Akpabio led PDP senators to a walkout.
It seems the PDP senators are ignorant of the law. If not, why the walkout and protest over Omogunwa’s defection, instead of approaching the court to challenge it. The law is very clear on how and when a lawmaker can defect.
It is the court, not the PDP senators or Senate leadership that can declare Omogunwa’s action illegal. It is only when the court makes a pronouncement on it, there is nothing anybody can do about it. So, if the PDP senators like, let them stay away from sittings for months. This will make deliberations, approvals, sharing and other legislative works easier and speedy for the APC senators. It is a development the APC leadership and the Presidency will embrace with open arms and joy.
Meanwhile, Omogunwa’s defection is not new. In May, former governor of Plateau State and senator representing Plateau Central zone, Senator Joshua Dariye defected from the PDP to APC. Surprisingly, PDP senators neither staged a walkout nor challenged the defection.
Also recently, the PDP member representing Anambra East/West federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Comrade Tony Nwoye defected to the APC. PDP members in the lower chamber didn’t stage a walkout or go to court to challenge his defection. Hope the PDP senators will do more than a walkout in this case.
Group Asks Oshiomhole To Reject N300m Mansion
A group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, has called on former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, to turn down the N300m offered him and ex-deputy governor of the state, Dr. Pius Odubu, for the acquisition of houses after their tenure in office.
According to the head of the anti-corruption group, Debo Adeniran, the retirement benefit for Oshiomhole and Odubu amended by Edo State House of Assembly is a “legislative scam.”
Adeniran said: “This is an opportunity for Oshiomhole to show the people of Edo State that he is a man of the people by rejecting the proposed retirement benefit being suggested by Edo State parliament. The group expects the former governor to reject the proposed benefits, because of his history as a comrade who has fought against government policies aimed at sidelining the people from the benefits of development.”
It is obvious that the controversies and criticisms that have trailed the Edo Pension Rights for ex-governor and ex-deputy have put Oshiomhole on the spot. It has become a litmus test for his person. However, his unusual silence on the matter since it became controversial and public calls for question.
If Oshiomhole is still the same person as the labour union activist of old, he needs no one to tell him to reject the offer. In short, he will lead a protest against the exercise. It is sad and unfortunate that he is now Oshiomhole, the typical Nigerian politician who will say one thing and do another.
Is it not sad that Oshiomhole has forgotten his original constituency since he joined the political class? Lest we forget, President Buhari has said that he needs Oshiomhole in Abuja, where he will continue from where he stopped in Edo. So, who says he may get more benefits in Abuja to add to what he has acquired in Edo.
N100m Fraud: EFCC, Sokoto Clash Over Commissioner’s Trial
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Sokoto State Government are currently at loggerheads over the prosecution of the current Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Muhammad Abubakar, popularly known as Gwiwa; and Mr. Abubakar Ahmed, the Deputy Director of Sokoto State Ministry of Education.
The EFCC had in 2014 arraigned Abubakar, who was then a Permanent Secretary under former Governor Aliyu Wammako; Ahmed and three firms before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Sokoto.
The accused persons were arraigned on 43 counts bordering on conspiracy, forgery and money laundering to the tune of N100m.
However, to the surprise of the EFCC, at the resumption of trial on November 24, 2016, the Sokoto State Attorney General, Mr. Sulaiman Usman, announced appearance for the prosecution and informed the court of his intention to take over the prosecution of the case as the AG of Sokoto State.
Usman argued that Sokoto State was the victim of the alleged offences committed by the defendants and the state was interested in their prosecution.
The EFCC prosecutors, S.K. Atteh and E.E. Iheanacho, also announced appearance for the prosecution and informed the trial court that the EFCC is still prosecuting the case and has not received a directive from the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to hand over the prosecution of the case.
Atteh, however, stated the EFCC had written to the AGF seeking to get his reaction, but had yet to receive any response.
Atteh pointed out to the court that the clarification became necessary, because the authority letter being relied on by the AG of Sokoto State was written by the then AGF, Chief Michael Agbamuche (SAN) in 1995 during the military era, wherein he delegated powers to the state attorney general to prosecute cases on his behalf.
After listening to the counsel, Justice Aikwa noted that it was important to get the clarification of the current AGF so that the issue of who would continue with the prosecution of the case could be settled.
The court asked the AGF to communicate his position in writing to the court or send his representative to the court. The matter was further adjourned till December 19, 2016 for the clarification of the AGF.
Wawoo, this is an interesting development in the APC-led government’s anti-graft war. The Attorney General of Sokoto and that of the Federation have a lot to explain. Under what law did the Attorney General of Sokoto State derive the power to appear as a prosecution counsel in a fraud suit filed against a Sokoto government official by the EFCC? It appears some persons are conspiring to bungle the case and nip it in the bud.
It is disappointing that a Sokoto State government official, who is supposed to champion the recovery of alleged embezzled public fund is involved in this plot.
While it is important for the Attorney General of the Federation to publicly make his position known on this matter, it is also expedient for the Attorney General of Sokoto State to explain to Nigerians, the correlation between a letter written by the then AGF, Chief Michael Agbamuche (SAN) in 1995 during the military era and the prosecution of an EFCC case in today’s democratic government. This is unbelievable. It is up to
AGF to quickly state his position and interest in this matter before it gets out of hand.
I May Dump PDP In 2018 – Fayose
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has said that he might seek another political platform to prosecute his succession battle in the 2018 governorship poll.
The governor said this on Wednesday during a meeting with the members of the Suppliers’ Association of Nigeria, Ikere Ekiti chapter.
He also argued that the victory of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo State did not in any way threaten the supremacy of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti.
Fayose said: “I don’t know the platform I will use for the 2018 election yet and at the appropriate time, I will tell you. We are still studying the situation. We have to play the game left, right and centre and whoever we are going to use and the platform, you will all be part of the process, because party politics is about the people.
“You all saw how people sold their votes in Ondo State, I am confident that it will not happen in Ekiti. I am close to the people; you are the source of my strength. Even if it requires just 48 hours to any election, if I tell you where to go, you will surely follow me there.”
Fayose’s assertion is not new, considering that he has dumped the PDP to contest for a senatorial seat on Labour Party platform in 2011, which he lost. So, it won’t be a big deal if he dumps the crisis-ridden PDP again. This is despite the fact he was among those that foisted the lingering leadership tussle that is tearing the party apart.
It would have made more sense if Fayose remains in the PDP and ensures that the party overcomes its current challenges ahead of 2019 polls. If one may ask, who is Fayose expecting to resolve the crisis in the PDP? Who formed and sustained the peace in the party he will run to? How sure is Fayose that there will be no crisis, wherever he moves to? Fayose’s declaration has shown that he is not different from other politicians, who cannot withstand party challenges at any given time. There is nothing Nigerian politicians cannot do and justify, provided their selfish interests are protected.
Ondo: My Mandate Is To Govern, Not To Probe Mimiko – Akeredolu
The Ondo State Governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu, has put to rest, fears or insinuations in some quarters that his government might take after the footsteps of the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal government by probing the administration of the out-going governor, Mr. Olusegun Mimiko.
Akeredolu, who gave the clarification in Akure on Monday said that he was given a mandate to govern and not to probe past administrations.
He said: “I don’t believe in probes. What I believe in is that I’ve been given a mandate to govern the state and when I come into office I will face the task. The past is the past and I am one person who believes that government is a continuum.”
Many may be surprised by Akeredolu’s position, especially as it is at variance with that of the APC-led federal government. Coming from a legal mind, that should not be surprising, considering that the ongoing probe of past administrations by the present government has not yielded the desired result in governance. Sometimes, it causes a lot of distraction, confusion and disharmony.
Meanwhile, the outcome of such probe has always ended in futility and controversies, due to government’s inability to implement the report.
However, who knows if Akeredolu’s position is part of a secret understanding between him, Mimiko and the presidency before the election. Nothing can be ruled out, because politics in Nigeria is about survival and understanding. As it is, Iroko needs political lifeline, which Akeredolu and APC may offer him.
It is good for Mimiko to carefully account for his stewardship before handing over to Akeredolu, knowing that nothing is cast in stone in Nigerian politics.
Professionals Bombing Oil Installations– Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari said the sophistication involved in the bombings of oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta indicates that those behind it are not ordinary Nigerians, but professionals.
Buhari stated this at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa recently after he was decorated as the grand patron of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE).
President Buhari specifically charged the NAE to appeal to its members not to deploy their skills for the destruction of the infrastructure built over the years.
With Buhari’s disposition, it seems his government is helpless in tackling the militancy in Niger Delta. The situation is expected to be so, especially as Buhari has decided that only the stick option should be use to tackle the problem, instead of both carrot and stick.
If professionals are bombing oil installations as Buhari alleged, why has it become difficult for professionals in the military and Navy to tackle them? Does it mean the Naval and military men are not professional enough? Maybe the militants are more professional, having known the terrain too well, while handling pipeline surveillance contracts.
As it has becomes clear that the use of maximum force cannot produce the desired result, why can’t the Federal Government engage the people of the region in a meaningful dialogue? Why is Buhari government foot-dragging on the proposed dialogue with the people of the region and at same time lamenting over incessant bombing of oil installations by the militants? Well, Buhari should know that he cannot have his cake and eat it at the same time.
My Suspension Is Useless As Sanitary Pad In El-Rufai’s Toilet – Shehu Sani
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts and All Progressives Congress (APC) senator representing Kaduna Central in the Senate, Shehu Sani on Wednesday described his indefinite suspension from the party as useless and worthless.
The executives of the APC in Ward 6 Tudun Wada, Kaduna South had on Tuesday slammed an indefinite suspension on Sani over an alleged breach of party’s constitution.
In his reaction Sani said: “My indefinite suspension by Governor Nasir El-Rufai-controlled, induced and misinformed self-acclaimed APC state excos is as worthless and useless as the used sanitary pads in the toilets of his family official residence.”
It was clear from the onset of this present administration that there was no love lost between Governor El-Rufai and Senator Sani. This is despite both of them being elected on the platform of the ruling APC. The crisis, which started like a joke has assumed a worrisome dimension, with the recent indefinite suspension of Sani by the party executive in the State.
Unfortunately for the party, both Sani and El-Rufai are queer and tenacious characters, who will not give up easily in a battle like this. Why is it that instead of working together to bring good governance and development to the state, Sani and El-Rufai are busy battling for the soul of APC in the state ahead of 2019? That shows how selfish and shortsighted Nigerian politicians could be. Shouldn’t they be more concerned with how to end the incessant killings of people in the southern part of the state? Or how to make Kaduna a safer place for all including Shiite members.
Also disturbing is the APC national leadership’s indifference to the crisis. Is the party leadership or the presidency saying that they are not aware of the situation in Kaduna? Maybe they are waiting for when it will get out of hand, they will sacrifice whoever is not in their good books. If this should be the case, Sani has a lot to worry about, because his general disposition in the Senate does not favour his party. This raises questions on where his loyalty lies as a party man and El-Rufai is waiting to reap from that.