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Presidency Hits Back at Northern Elders Forum, Says Group Lacks Credibility

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The Presidency has reacted to the stand taken by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), which portrays President Muhammadu Buhari as a failure, saying that the forum lacked credibility.

The Presidency said NEF was at best a one-man squad led by its Chairman, Prof Ango Abdullahi, describing NEF as the case of an army General without troops.

A State House statement by presidential media aide, Mr Femi Adesina, said NEF was all about Abdullahi and had no other credible names of worth.

The Presidency stated, “Prof. Ango Abdullahi on Sunday signed a long-winding statement on many issues relating to the North, and purportedly to the country.

“The former Vice-Chancellor signed the statement under the banner of Northern Elders Forum. Hearing that title, you would think the body was a conglomeration of true elders.

“But the truth is that NEF is just Ango Abdullahi, and Ango Abdullahi is NEF. It is a quasi-organisation that boasts of no credible membership, and its leader is akin to a General without troops.”

The Presidency recalled how ahead of the 2019 presidential poll, the NEF allegedly opposed Buhari’s bid to seek a second term by backing another candidate.

However, it said the preferred NEF candidate lost.

“NEF is merely waving a flag that is at half-mast. President Buhari steadily and steadfastly focuses on the task of retooling Nigeria, and discerning Nigerians know the true state of the nation.

“They don’t need a paper tiger to tell them anything.”

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Husband-Killer, Maryam Sanda Appeals Death Sentence

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Maryam Sanda, a woman found guilty of stabbing her husband to death, has asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to set aside the death sentence pronounced on her.

On January 27, Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court found Sanda guilty of killing her husband.

Sanda stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife with a clear intent to kill, Mr Halilu concluded in the judgment, after a two-count homicide charge was brought by the Nigerian police against Ms Sanda in November 2017.

The victim, Bilyaminu Bello, was the son of a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Haliru Bello.

The prosecuting counsel had urged the court to pronounce a death penalty on Ms Sanda. The judge obliged by sentencing the convict to death by hanging.

While many perceived the judgment of Justice Halilu as ‘harsh’, others believe it is well deserved.

Maryam’s appeal

In her appeal against the death sentence, Ms Sanda claimed that Mr Halilu was biased and he denied her fair hearing.

She contended that the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence, without evidence of witnesses, lack of confessional statement, absence of murder weapon, lack of corroboration of evidence by two witnesses and lack of autopsy report to determine the true cause of her husband’s death.

In the notice of appeal predicated on 20 grounds and filed by her lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, the convict said the judgment of the trial court was a complete “a miscarriage of justice.”

According to Ms Sanda, “the trial judge erred in law when having taken arguments on her preliminary objection to the validity of the charge on the 19th of March, 2018 failed to rule on it at the conclusion of the trial or at any other time.

She said that “the trial judge exhibited bias against the defendant in not ruling one way or the other on the said motion challenging his jurisdiction to entertain the charge” and “therefore fundamentally breached the right to a fair hearing of the defendant.”

The appellant also contended that the trial judge erred and misdirected himself by usurping the role of the police when he assumed the duty of an Investigating Police Officer (IPO).

The appellant was referring to a statement made by the judge in his ruling.

Justice Halilu had said that, “I wish to state that I have a duty thrust upon me to investigate and discover what will satisfy the interest and demands of justice.”

The appellant submitted that the wrongful assumption of the role of an IPO made “the trial judge fail to restrict himself to the evidence adduced before the court” and instead went fishing for evidence outside those that were brought before the court.

“The duty of investigation is the constitutional preserve of the police, the constitutional duty of a trial court is to assess the credible evidence before it and reach a decision based on its assessment,” the convict argued.

Ms Sanda argued that “the court’s usurpation of the duty of the police by taking it upon itself to investigate and discover, negatively coloured its assessment of the available evidence and resulted in it reaching an unjust decision contrary to the evidence before it.”

The appellant also argued that “the trial judge erred in law and misdirected himself on the facts when he applied the doctrine of last seen and held that the appellant was the person last seen with the deceased and thus bears the full responsibility for the death of the deceased, and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice.”

“There is no evidence before the trial judge that the defendant was the last person who saw the deceased alive since prosecution witness in his evidence before the trial judge stated that he was called by the deceased, he saw the deceased and asked the deceased what was the problem,” she said.

She added that the statement of Sadiya Aminu, tendered before the trial court (who was initially charged as the fourth defendant in the amended charge), also confirmed that the deceased was alive though injured when she saw him.

“The circumstantial evidence which the trial court relied upon in its application of the last seen doctrine does not lead to the conclusion that the defendant is responsible for the death of the deceased,” she argued.

Consequently, she asked the appellate court to allow her appeal, set aside her conviction and the sentence imposed by the high court judge and acquit her.

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Perish the Thought of Joining Us, APC Tells Fayose

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The Ekiti State chapter of the All Progressives Congress has advised a former governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose, to perish the thought of defecting to the APC.

The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Ade Ajayi, said this in Ado Ekiti, on Thursday.

He said the party was not a dumping ground “for failed politicians,” adding that Fayose was not wanted in the party because of his antecedents.

This was contained in a statement he signed. Ajayi described the APC as “a disciplined, refined and integrity-inclined type which would not tolerate people like Fayose,” adding that “Fayose is not qualified to be a member of the APC in the state.”

The party, which was reacting to a statement allegedly credited to Fayose to the effect that he would defect to the APC if his ordained Peoples Democratic Party state chairmanship aspirant failed in his bid for the job.

To this, Ajayi said, “We will not welcome him to the great and decent family in the state.

“It is better he stays back in his PDP to get it more destroyed instead of coming to a principled, disciplined, transparent, law-abiding and organised party like the APC.

“The Ekiti APC members know the people behind the masquerade and thereby warn people like Fayose not to turn the APC to a dumping ground where they can defect to.”

The Punch

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Ekiti Submits Interest Bid to Host NAFEST 2021

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The Executive Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has expressed the interest of his state to host the 2021 edition of the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST).

Receiving the bid document from Ekiti State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism Prof. Tunde Bakare on Monday, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe commended Governor Fayemi for early indication of interest to host the cultural fiesta.

Runsewe described Governor Fayemi as a proactive leader who is committed to giving the best to his state at all times.

Stating that the early submission of the bid document by Ekiti State Government was a sign of early preparation towards putting in place the necessary logistics and infrastructure for a successful event, he added that the Council expects bids from more states in respect of NAFEST 2021.

Runsewe commended the amiable wife of Governor Fayemi and First Lady of Ekiti State, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi for declaring that if given the hosting right, Ekiti State would stage “the mother of all NAFEST”.

The DG added that the statement by Her Excellency was an indication of the determination and political will of Ekiti State Government to make NAFEST 2021 the best in the history of the festival.

It will be recalled that the Plateau State Government was given the hosting right for NAFEST 2020 at the closing ceremony of 2019 Edo NAFEST at Benin City, on October 26, 2019.

Arrangements are already on top gear for the hosting of the 2020 edition of the festival in Jos, Plateau State, in October.

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