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Atiku writes UK, US others over Onnoghen’s suspension

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The opposition People’s Democratic Party presidential Candidate and former Vice president of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar has petitioned the United Kingdom, United State of America, France and Germany over the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as Nigeria’s chief justice.

“I have chosen to write this letter to Your Excellency for the enviable role that your country plays as champion of Democracy and the Rule of Law,” Abubakar wrote in the letter on Tuesday.

“As a Presidential Candidate in the forthcoming General Elections that will be conducted and supervised by the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

“I feel the urgent need to share with you some of these key violations of the provisions of our constitution and to demand that you pile pressure on the Federal Government to desist from these violations and ensure a level playing field for the General Elections that are only a couple of weeks away.

Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari on Friday swore in Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed as the new acting Chief Justice of Nigeria to replace embattled Onnoghen.

His swearing-in followed Onnoghen’s suspension by the president, who acted based on an order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Onnoghen is facing a six-count charge of non-declaration of assets when he became the chief justice of Nigeria. Buhari said the allegations against Onnoghen were “grievous enough”.

Onnoghen’s suspension sparked reactions from Nigerians including the U.S. and Uk government

Uk noted that the “timing of this action, so close to national elections, gives cause for concern.”

“It risks affecting both domestic and international perceptions on the credibility of the forthcoming elections,” the statement read.

“We, along with other members of the international community, are following developments closely,” the statement read.

While the United State, on the other hand, said it “is deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections.”

“We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch. That undercuts the stated determination of the government, candidates, and political party leaders to ensure that the elections proceed in a way that is free, fair, transparent, and peaceful.”

The Nigerian government said the reactions of the two countries were hasty.

The government said it would welcome partnerships for successful 2019 general elections but would not condone unfair interference in matters that are specifically internal.

“Nigeria reserves the right to be insulated from suggestions and or interference with respect to wholly internal affairs and commends international laws, customs and norms that mandate and require nations and the comity to respect this prerogative to all,”  presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement on Monday.

“Nigeria is confident of its electoral processes and her preparation for the imminent elections and the federal government has supported the independent electoral umpire in both its independence and resources needed to accomplish our desire and insistence on free and fair elections,” he added

But the former Vice president in his letter insisted that the “attempt to muscle out the Chief Justice of Nigeria using phoney charges at a time when His Lordship was primed to play a central role in the fast-approaching nationwide electoral process represents the boldest steps in the march to undermine our democracy,”

“This is undoubtedly an anti-democratic act which my political Party and I reject without reservation and for which I urge Your Excellency to condemn unequivocally,” he added

Abubakar affirmed that the “brazen authoritarian and imperious stride of the President Buhari is the latest action in a series of carefully planned onslaught on our nation’s hard-earned democracy by an extremely power hungry and anxious President and the cabal that feeds fat around him as February 16, 2019, draws nearer.”

Nigerians will be heading to poll less than a month from now to vote in a new president.

Buhari is seeking re-election with Abubakar mounting a strong challenge.

Abubakar, a former vice president during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration from 1999 till 2007, is contesting the office of the president for the fourth time.

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Stamp out terrorism now, Buhari charges West African leaders

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President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, tasked ECOWAS leaders not to allow terrorist groups destabilise the region.

President Buhari, who joined other ECOWAS leaders for the special one-day Summit, which was also attended by leaders of Chad and Mauritania decried that terrorism has become a major security threat across the globe.

He said: ‘’Our region has made commendable progress in the realisation of its regional integration and we must not allow terrorist groups to destabilise our Community and undermine the aspirations of our people for a safe, secure and prosperous environment,’’ in his speech at the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on Counter-Terrorism.

According to a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina and made available to newsmen yesterday, the President warned that the activities of terrorist groups constitute a grave danger to peace and security in West Africa, the wider Sahel and the global community.

‘’It is, therefore, our collective responsibility not to let up but to win the fight against terrorism and stamp out the scourge from our region,’’ he added.

‘’The frequency of attacks, the determination and resilience of the terrorist groups as well as the ease with which they raise funds and acquire sophisticated weapons are matters of serious concern, which should engage our attention as a Community.

‘Equally worrisome, is the continuing spread of the menace of terrorism in the region and the growing link between terrorism and organised crime. This is why we must not relent in our efforts until we defeat the monster completely.

‘’And the best way to achieve this objective is through coordinated regional actions and responses against terrorism, insurgency, banditry, inter-communal disputes, while we also put in place policies and measures that will address their root causes, including the re-establishment and protection of livelihoods,’’ he said.

Sharing the experience of Nigeria in fighting the scourge, the President told the summit that as a major victim of Boko Haram terrorist activities, Nigeria has remained resolute in efforts to combat and eradicate them in all their forms and manifestations.

‘’Our counter-terrorism strategy, which includes prevention, prosecution and reconstruction is also in full compliance with the Yamoussoukro counter-terrorism strategy adopted by ECOWAS Member States.

‘’In combating terrorism and addressing the resultant humanitarian crisis, through regional and international collaboration, ECOWAS as a Regional Economic Cooperation, would need in partnership with the African Union, to galvanise international support and solidarity to combat and defeat this menace in our region.’’

The Nigerian leader also used the occasion to update the regional leaders on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin and the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

He described the situation in Lake Chad Basin, historically a bastion of rich culture and civilization, an area abundant in natural resources providing livelihoods to tens of millions of people, as tragic.

He noted that the area has become an abode for terrorist groups and extremists, whose primitive intent is wanton destruction of lives of innocent citizens and properties as well as public infrastructure.

On MNJTF, the President reported that the achievements recorded so far in the operations remain an exemplary model of regional collaboration.

‘’MNJTF has largely succeeded in degrading the Boko Haram terrorist group. This could not have been accomplished without the recognition by the affected countries and Benin Republic of the need to harness our efforts and resources to confront our common enemy, which has now been substantially weakened.

‘’While much still remain to be done, I encourage MNJTF to stay steadfast in their mission, as I urge the political leadership of the LCBC countries to continue to preserve our solidarity and commitment towards achieving durable peace and sustainable development in these areas.

‘’In this regard, it is imperative that we continuously strive to provide the necessary resources and tools to the MNJTF, the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the Accra Initiative and similar initiatives, to lead the war on terrorism, violent extremism and trans-border crimes across the region, ‘’ he said.

President Buhari said he expects that the adoption of the road map, priority areas and other recommendations to the Ouagadougou Summit, if properly implemented, would go a long way in addressing the spread of terrorism and violent extremism in the region.

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Ozekhome faults presidential tribunal, says it’ll encourage corruption

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The lead counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) said the case between Atiku Abubakar against President Muhammadu Buhari, decided on Wednesday “was poorly decided by the tribunal.”

According to Ozekhome, there was very poor evaluation of evidence. “There were pieces and instances in which only the evidence of the respondents, that is Buhari, Independent National Electoral Commission (EFCC) and All Progressives Congress (APC) were considered without that of Atiku and PDP being considered at all.

“There were many instances of misapplication of the provisions of the constitution, the Electoral Act, the INEC guidelines, INEC handbook and provisions relating to the existence of the Server owned by INEC. There were even instances when the Court of Appeal, the Election Petition Tribunal, behaved more like a Father Christmas by giving to the respondents what they did not ask for.”

The senior counsel cited instances. “For example, in their defence, they were merely saying, Buhari was qualified to contest the election, but when the court now came up by itself to say, Buhari was not only qualified but was eminently qualified, they were even granting to them more than they asked for.”

Ozekhome stated that it is of great concern that the judgment, if not challenged and reversed, will set a very bad precedent for the citizens of the country in terms of business dealings, in terms of educational qualifications, in terms of international trades and in terms of international investments.

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EPL title: Wenger names only club that’ll challenge Man City, Liverpool this season

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Legendary Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger has insisted that the Gunners are the only club with the potential to challenge Manchester City and Liverpool for the English Premier League title this season.

According to him, Chelsea lack the experience to challenge Man City and Liverpool, while Manchester United are yet to settle in the Premier League this term.

“Maybe the team who has the potential is Arsenal who could be the closest to challenge Man City and Liverpool,” Wenger told beIN Sports.

“Chelsea looks a bit young, not enough maturity up front and not enough maturity at the back.

“Man Utd hasn’t found a settled way where you could say today they could fight for the championship.

“They look quite comfortable the two in front they know they can do it. Man City has a huge technical level where they can always create chances.

“Liverpool looks very strong at the back and up front they have a midfield that knows its job. Maybe less creative than Man City but they look a little bit in front of all the others.”

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FG TO PARTNER GREECE ON SHIP BUILDING, EMPLOYMENT GENERATION IN NIGER DELTA

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The Federal government is to partner with the Republic of Greece on the training of Niger Delta youths and others in ship building, fishing, food sufficiency and employment generation.

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio disclosed this when the representative of the Greece government in Nigeria, Concept Amadeus Limited paid a working visit to the Ministry on September 3, 2019 in Abuja.

Senator Akpabio said that the Ministry is poise to improving the standard of living of the people of Niger Delta and Nigeria in general. He commended the initiative which according to him, will reduce militancy and crises of unemployment in the country,

The Minister noted that the partnership, will empower the youths in the Niger Delta Region, stop the illegal fishing on Nigerian shore and also give Nigerians the opportunity to explore the value chain in the fishing industry.

Senator Akpabio said that the host communities will be involved in the whole process to enable them own the project and provide the enabling environment for successful hosting of the dockyard.

He lamented that most areas in the Niger Delta may not be good for fishing because of oil exploration adding that the Maritime University in Okerenkoko , Delta state and the Maritime Academy in Oron, Akwa Ibom State can be used as the training ground for the ship building progarmme.

To ensure that the whole process is domesticated, Senator Akpabio and the Minister of state, Festus Keyamo set up a 5-man committee to work out detailed modalities of the training programme adding that any nation that cannot feed itself is yet to start.

Earlier, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Concept Amadeus Limited, Prince Patrick Osabase, the organization representing the Greece government said that the partnership programme will create employment for the youths in the Niger Delta region and enhance their potentials in the fishing industry adding that Nigeria lost about $10 billion yearly to untapped resources in the fishing industry .______
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