NIGERIA NEWSPAPERS: Today's Thisday Newspaper Headlines [29 January, 2018].

Below are the headlines found on Thisday Online Newspaper for today, Monday, 29 January , 2018.

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is considering heading to the Supreme Court for determination of its powers to fix the date for general elections, following fears that the National Assembly would change the order of general elections.

Changing the order of elections could force the electoral body to head to the Supreme Court for clarity on what is turning out to be a conflict between the Constitution, which empowers INEC to fix election dates and the Electoral Act.

The House of Representatives last week voted to amend Section 25 of the Electoral Act, 2010, which would see the National Assembly elections holding first, before elections into the state Houses of Assembly and governorship on a separate day, while the presidential election would be conducted last to complete the general election cycle.

Specifically, the House amended Section 25 of the Principal Act and substituted it with a new Section 25(1) which provides that the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly elections (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election.

Similarly, Section 87 was amended by adding a new Subsection (11) on the order and timing for the conduct of primaries by political parties.

“The primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence: (i) State Houses of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship, and (iv) Presidential.

The proposed amendments, which came barely two weeks after INEC had released the final timetable for the 2019 elections, differ from the current order that provides for the conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections first, and governorship and state assembly elections conducted afterwards. 

Going by the INEC timetable, the presidential and National Assembly elections were slated for February 16, 2019, while the state assembly and governorship elections had been scheduled for March 2, 2019.

However, the proposed amendments have caused disquiet in the presidency, which considers them a deliberate ploy by the leaders of the National Assembly to influence the upcoming polls. 

The fear in the presidency is that the bandwagon effect of the first set of elections into the National Assembly could affect the other elections.

Under the current order, the reverse is the case as the outcome of the presidential elections, in particular, has a bandwagon effect on the governorship and state assembly elections.

With the re-ordering of the primaries, the House has also made sure that the state governors minimise their influence on the conduct of primaries for the state and national legislatures, so that candidates vying for seats in the assemblies can in turn back them (governors) at their own primaries.

Also, the expectation is that the Senate conference committee which was empaneled last Thursday to reconcile the differences with the version passed by the House, would adopt the version of the lower legislative chamber.

But credible sources at INEC told THISDAY that if the amendments are adopted, it would cause a conflict between the Constitution and the Electoral Act. 

“INEC is the body constitutionally empowered to fix election timetables. Now they are making amendments and they (National Assembly) want to make us conduct elections three times instead of twice, which is the current order, not minding the cost implications,” a senior official of INEC who did not want to be named, said. 

Another source explained further that should INEC proceed to the Supreme Court, its argument would be based on specific sections of the Constitution, which empowers it to fix the election dates for the presidential, governorship, National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly elections. 

Section 76(1) of the Constitution provides that  “elections to each House of the National Assembly shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission”. 

Section 132(1) of the Constitution further states: “An election to the office of the president shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission,” while Section 178(1) provides that  “an election to the office of governor of a state shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission”.

“So if the Electoral Act is saying a different thing, because this is now the lawmakers making the amendments to fix the timetable according to their order, then it would be better for us to get the Supreme Court to decide on the matter,” the source said. 

“We would argue that there is a conflict and in such instances, the Constitution is supreme. But of course we will have to go whichever way the court rules or decides,” the source added further. 

The development confirmed a report last week by THISDAY that the proposed amendments were causing ripples in the presidency and the electoral commission. 

The electoral body is miffed that the amendments are being considered just a few weeks after it released the 2019 general election timetable.

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The Senate has said any plot to remove the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki from his position would fall flat on its face, as he currently enjoys the confidence of his colleagues and has ensured stability in the eighth Senate. 

Senate spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, speaking with reporters at the weekend, said the 109 senators have the right to choose their leaders by election, and had done so in line with the relevant laws.

“Nobody can remove Saraki. We elected him and we are not ready to remove him yet. From day one, they never wanted Saraki. What we are saying is that the right to choose the Senate President lies with senators and we have chosen our leader.

“From everything he has been doing as chairman of the National Assembly and as President of the Senate, he has provided stability. He has not only brought this to the National Assembly, but the entire country.

“The true face of democracy is the parliament and since Saraki came in, we have not failed this democracy,” Abdullahi said.

He noted that it was in Nigeria’s interest that the stability in the National Assembly be allowed to endure so that all hands can be on deck to tackle the challenges in the country.

Speaking further on the recent amendments by the House of Representatives to the Electoral Act, which effected changes in the election order, Abdullahi said the conference committee set up to reconcile the differences between the versions of the Senate and the House, would meet this week.

“The key issues have been debated and agreed upon. All that is remaining is to bring the two chambers together through the conference committee by next week, as the areas of contention are not much.

“And I believe they will work together to make sure that we have an agreeable component that the Nigerian people will be happy that we are deepening the electoral process,” Abdullahi said.

He expressed optimism that the harmonisation would not exceed two weeks. 

“What we did was transparent; INEC was part of it. People with interest were part of it. Since we are passing what is popular, the presidency too should not take time in assenting to it.

“If the president decides to veto the bill, we will know what to do when we get to that bridge. For now, I do not envisage that extreme situation. This is a democracy.

“I am hoping that we work based on a consensus. At the end of the day, we should be able to agree. The interest of Nigerians is paramount and we will not take it for granted,” the senator said.

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
For the first time since Tuesday when former President Olusegun Obasanjo issued a 13-page statement accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of bad governance and nepotism, and advising him not to seek re-election in 2019, both men met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the weekend during the African Union (AU) summit.

This is just as the AU named Buhari the “African Anti-Corruption Champion”.

Making this known yesterday the president’s Senior Special Assistant, Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, said in a Twitter post that the president had been named the African anti-corruption champion and congratulated him.

On Buhari’s meeting with Obasanjo, THISDAY learnt that both leaders met briefly before the opening ceremony of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the AU and exchanged pleasantries.

It was also learnt that Obasanjo made the first move to meet Buhari after he made a beeline to where the president was seated to exchange pleasantries with Buhari.

THISDAY sources disclosed that both men were the cynosure of all eyes inside the Nelson Mandela Hall where they met and had a brief meeting as photojournalists struggled to capture the meeting.

Both of them spoke briefly in low tunes shortly before the meeting kicked off.

Buhari, it was learnt, was just settling down for the next agenda of the meeting, which was the launch of a new logo for the AU, when Obasanjo appeared before him.

The president at the time was warming up to deliver a paper on the theme: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.” 

Walking up to Buhari, Obasanjo was said to have stretched forth his hands towards him for a handshake after which both of them engaged in a converstation, which lasted for a few minutes before they were joined by another former Nigerian Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, who is also a delegate at the summit for group photographs.

Expectedly, the development caused a murmur in the hall as all eyes were on both leaders. 

It was gathered that their meeting became the subject of discussion among participants in the hall who discussed the matter in low tones.

However, there was no information on what they discussed, just as their smiles for the cameras seemed to be shrouded in mutual suspicion.

Nonetheless, Buhari while launching the continental anti-corruption war at the event stated that the scourge of corruption robs Africa of over $50 billion annually and challenged his fellow leaders to halt the menace.

Stating that the anti-corruption fight had come to stay in Nigeria, Buhari said his administration would remain resolute in its commitment to bring corrupt elements to justice, stressing that the anti-graft war will be fought in Nigeria “today, tomorrowand the day after tomorrow”.

Stating that his administration had pursued the battle with vigour to the extent that the battle had become institutionalised, Buhari challenged his colleagues to borrow a leaf from Nigeria by empowering anti-corruption agencies in their respective countries and giving them the necessary independence.

He added that the rampaging acts of corruption in Africa speak volumes of the need for strong leadership on the continent.

“African nations must find a way of building a synergy between the executive, judiciary and legislature in order to entrench good governance. Leaders must have a change of mindset by prioritising accountability and transparency in order to succeed in the fight against corruption.

“This is not stating that fighting corruption is going to be a straight forward task as corruption will always fight back. Irrespective of any setback faced in the fight against corruption, African leaders must remain resolute,” he said.

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The presidency at the weekend dismissed as untrue allegations that the new Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar, failed his promotion examinations, forcing him into retirement as assistant director of the agency.

A statement by Media and Publicity Adviser to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, described the allegations along with others as either half-truths, misinformation or outright falsehood.

According to him, Abubakar neither failed any promotion examination nor did he retire as assistant director but as deputy director.

He also dismissed insinuations that Abubakar was married to a Moroccan, arguing that he, as a matter of fact, did not only marry from his home state of Katsina but also from his community.

He also faulted the allegation that Abubakar hails from Chad, saying he actually hails from Katsina State while his parents had only settled in Chad at a given period and Abubakar returned to Nigeria for both his secondary and university education.

“A lot of half-truths, misinformation, and outright falsehood have attended the announcement of the new Director-General for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), in the person of Mr. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.

“Some of such unfounded stories include that Abubakar had retired from the services of NIA as an assistant director, because he failed the promotion examinations twice, and had to quit, willy-nilly.

 “Others claim he is married to a Moroccan, and so cannot hold such a sensitive security position, while others say he was born and bred in Chad and he holds dual nationality.

“All these have been widely disseminated on the social and some mainstream media. With the formal assumption of office by Mr. Abubakar, it is now necessary to set the facts straight.

“The new NIA DG retired from the foreign service as deputy director (not as assistant director) and three times during his career, had won the merit awards for competence and meritorious service. Failing promotion examinations can only exist in the fecund minds of fiction writers.

“His last position before the new appointment was as Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs/International Affairs where again he quietly proved himself.

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti Barely two weeks after releasing a white paper on the report of the Justice Silas Oyewole Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Finances of Ekiti State during the administration of the present Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as governor of the state, the state government [] 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
By Wole Ayodele in Jalingo The Chairman of Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State, Daniel Adi, yesterday narrowly escaped being killed by herdsmen who attacked him at Gidin Dorowa village, a suburb of Wukari. Similarly, the Chairman of Takum Local Government Area, Shiban Tikari, equally escaped being killed by armed robbers along Takun-Chanchanji- Wukari [] 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
APC Sweeps Osun LG Polls as State Introduces Parliamentary System of... 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
Suspends two officials for fraud By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja The federal government yesterday disclosed that it had begun investigations into over 200 whistleblowing tips on tax officials and taxpayers which involve under-declaration of taxes as well as demand by taxpayers and receipt of gratifications by tax officials. It said it had equally effected [] 
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