Weekly political notes
False Assets Declaration: CCT Discharges Saraki
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, quashed the 16-count charge the Federal Government preferred against the Senate President, Dr.
The two-panel Tribunal headed by Justice Danladi Umar, held that FG failed to prove essential elements of all the allegations it levelled against Saraki.The Tribunal held that both oral and documentary evidence that were laid by four witnesses FG brought before it were “so discredited during cross-examination, saying it was so manifestly unreliable that no court or tribunal can rely on it to make a conviction.”
“In the light of the foregoing, the Tribunal has no other option than to discharge the defendant. The tribunal upholds the no-case submission and the defendant is accordingly discharged and acquitted,” Justice Umar held.
This judgment came to many as a surprise and shock, especially Saraki’s detractors, who had wanted him to be pulled down politically. But to Saraki and his loyalists, this is a huge relief, considering the controversies and interests the trial generated. It could be recalled that before now, Saraki had consistently maintained that he would be vindicated at the end. Was he privy to what was to be the outcome of the judgment or was he speaking on the advice of his counsels?
Now that Saraki has been discharged and acquitted, what is next for the Federal Government? Will the government appeal, abandon or politicise the judgment, especially considering that it is one corruption trial many believed would determine the seriousness or otherwise of President Buhari government’s anti-graft war?
Unless government appeals the judgment and gets a reverse ruling, Saraki remains innocent and corruption free for now. That is what the CCT said and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
Why I Delayed Signing 2017 Budget – Osinbajo
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday explained why he delayed signing the 2017 appropriation bill into law.Speaking shortly before assenting to the bill, the acting President said the delay was due to disagreements between the executive and the National Assembly on the changes made in the proposal.
According to him, the executive believed the changes fundamentally affected some of its priority projects and would make implementation extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible.
Osinbajo said the executive only agreed to sign the law after the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, made commitments to re-instate budgetary allocations to all important executive projects.
He listed the projects to include the railway standard gauge project, Mambilla power project, the second Niger Bridge, and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, among others.
The acting president said it was agreed by the parties that the reinstatement would be through an application for virement by the executive, which the National Assembly would expeditiously consider.
Well, the acting President should be reminded that there is nothing new in signing the budget, problem has always been with the proper implementation of it. Over the years, budgets were presented and signed by governments amidst fanfare, but were never implemented to the letter for the benefit of the people. So, it has become more of a hollow ritual than a working document. And so far, nothing has changed under the APC-led government.
On disagreement with the National Assembly over some changes in the budget, it is hoped that the constituency project fund was not what the National Assembly inserted in the budget to cause the differential. This is because the lawmakers have never judiciously and transparently executed constituency projects with appropriated fund.
With the cat and mouse game between the executive and National Assembly, how cocksure is the acting president that the National Assembly will consider a virement request from the executive as promised, especially if the executive refuses to play ball regarding constituency project fund?
Ex-president, Jonathan Has Zero
Competence – Oshiomhole
Former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has said he withdrew his support for former President Goodluck Jonathan, because he believed that a Jonathan second term would ruin the country.
Speaking during his interaction with The Interview Magazine, Oshiomhole said: “Competence that was expected was not there. The level of fairness was not there. And even if you talk about sentiments, the sentiment of servicing the geo-political zones, the South South had nothing to boast of. Even the road to Yenagoa did not show that a president came from there!”
Oshiomhole disclosed that he had at a private meeting, advised through Jonathan’s former Chief of Staff, Mike Oghiadomhe, that the former president should not contest after 2011, but his advice was ignored.
Saying that Oshiomhole is both flippant and loquacious is not an overstatement. It is a trait he cannot manage well. Why the attack on Jonathan now when the ex-president is already out of power and has moved on with his private life? There are urgent issues at stake that require Oshiomhole’s attention such as how the APC-led government of which he is a major stakeholder is running the country and how APC in Edo has become divided.
Is Oshiomhole saying that this is not the same Jonathan, he praised to high heavens after winning his second term election as governor in 2012? It is obvious that just like the average Nigerian politician, Oshiomhole would have criticised Muhammadu Buhari by now, had it been the APC lost the 2015 presidential election.
It has been observed that since Oshiomhole left office as governor, he comes to grandstand before the media, instead of taking a good rest. There is no doubt he is looking for “something” because he has no job now. Unfortunately, it seems the thing is not quickly forthcoming and, perhaps, criticising Jonathan would expedite it.
Budget Padding: EFCC Invites Jibrin
The suspended former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumuni Jibrin, has been invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Jibrin’s invitation is based on his allegations on budget padding against the leadership of the House and to answer questions concerning money looted through padding in the 2016 budget.
The EFCC’s letter of invitation to Jibrin dated June 9 was signed by the acting Head of Extractive Industry Grid Section, Michael Wetkas.
Jibrin in a statement on Monday in Abuja confirmed receipt of the letter.
He said: “Today, I received invitation from the EFCC for another interview to clarify some issues to enable the Commission conclude investigation on my petition against some principal officers of the House on 2016 budget fraud, corruption and abuse of office.
Hmmm, while it is the constitutional responsibility of the anti-graft agency, EFCC, to investigate financial frauds, its approach to budget padding allegations by Jibrin before now appeared ridiculous and suspicious. It’s sudden invitation to Jibrin at a time there were political moves to reconcile Jibrin and the House leadership smacks hypocrisy. Is the agency acting a written script to stop Jibrin’s planned recall and reconciliation with the House leadership?
It is expected of the anti-graft agency to be proactive, both in investigations and prosecutions to avoid ridiculing itself. Can the EFCC tell Nigerians why the allegations did not receive prompt attention initially. What is the assurance that the matter will be followed to logical conclusion this time around?And for Jibrin it seems when it rains, it pours in torrents. The APC has suspended him at a time his luck supposed to shine.
Amosun Disowns Nigeria Break – Up Audio
Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has disowned an audio conversation circulating on social media, purporting to be a phone call between him and his Borno State counterpart, Kashim Shettima.
The 20-minute audio is alleged to contain the voices of the two governors, as they spoke on sundry issues, focusing more on Igbos. Both governors allegedly said that different sections of the country, including the Southeast and Southwest, and north should be free to go their separate ways.
But in his reaction Monday, Amosun denied the conversation happened.A statement by the Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dayo Adeneye, said the conversation was meant to create confusion.“The voice in the forgery, which is being circulated as that of Governor Amosun is not that of his and a simple search on the internet for any speech by him would convince those who are not familiar with his voice that the producers of the audio recording did a poor and unintelligent imitation,” the statement said.
Governor Amosun, of what importance is the denial if you are sure you didn’t have any conversation with Shettima as being peddled? Are you scared of the implication it could have on your political career? Don’t worry; powers-that-be will understand that it may be the handiwork of mischief makers.
After all, your Borno counterpart Shettima, has alleged that one of the APC presidential aspirants from the North is behind it. If true, it shows how mischievous, dirty and petty politicians could be in the pursuit of power and relevance.
But if you want to be double sure, both you and Shettima should make your call logs public for verification or invite some forensic experts to clear the air. At least, such action will shame your detractors. Mind you, Nigerians have seen much of this before and nothing happened.
I Won’t Apologise To Senate Leadership
Before My Recall – Ndume
Six months in the wilderness, former Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume has vowed not to apologise as a condition for his recall.
Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District, disclosed this at a meeting with his constituents in Abuja.
This followed a report last week that the Senate had asked him to apologise before his suspension could be lifted.It is hoped that Ndume will stand by his word. Doing so shows that he is man enough and by extension could set new standard for politicians to emulate. Besides, Ndume doesn’t need to apologise so quickly for his recall because his pocket may still be full, having been in the National Assembly for long.
Before we forget, Ndume, what about your governor, Kashim Shettima’s recent appeal to the Senate leadership to recall you? Was that an apology by proxy or your governor did not seek your consent?