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You Can’t Withhold My Certificate of Return, Okorocha Tells INEC

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Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has said the Independent National Electoral Commission lacks the power to withhold his certificate of return.

Okorocha was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the February 23 Imo West senatorial election.

In  his  petition to INEC on Tuesday,  Okorocha   said he was not happy that  the body decided to  withhold  his  certificate of return after he was announced as the winner of the election.

But INEC claimed  the declaration was made under duress.

The petition titled, ‘Need to Avert Abuse of Office and Political Corruption by my Political Opponents with the Active Collaboration of INEC’s Leadership in Clear Violation of the Law,’ was addressed to the  Chairman of the commission,  Prof Mahmood Yakubu.

The  governor said going by the laws governing elections in the country, INEC had no right not to issue him a certificate of return.

He added that if there were issues with an election after the announcement of a winner,  the  Election Petitions Tribunal would resolve them.

Okorocha said, “Section 285(1) of the 1999 Constitution states that ‘There shall be established for the Federation one or more election tribunals to be known as the National Assembly Elections Tribunal which shall, to the exclusion of any court or tribunal, have original jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions as to whether (a) any person has been validly elected as a member of the National Assembly.’

“Section 133 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides that ‘No election and return at an election under this Act shall be questioned in a manner other than by a petition complaining of an undue election or an undue return presented to the competent tribunal or court in accordance with the provisions of the constitution or of this Act, and in which the person elected or returned is joined as a party.’

“Where then did INEC derive the power to withhold a certificate of return after a winner in an election had been announced?”

INEC Director of Publicity and Voter Education,  Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said since Okorocha had gone to court over the issue, he should allow it to make a pronouncement on his certificate of return.

He said, “The case is in court. He is the one that took us to court. He should, therefore, wait for the court to determine the case.”

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Low UTME Cut-Off Mark Reason for Laziness Among Northern Youths – El-Rufai

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Northerners have refused to take advantage of the ‘educational benefits’ given to them by the Nigerian government, the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El- Rufai, has said.

He specifically said the low cut-off marks needed for admission into northern universities via the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) was making northerners ‘lazy’.

Mr El-Rufai spoke during a plenary session on “Rethinking Sub-National Competitiveness” at the ongoing Nigerian Economic Summit.

These were some of the points he raised when he talked about restructuring the nation on Tuesday.

The members of this session were Mr El-Rufai, Azinge Azinge, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Justin Lin, a Professor of Economics.

“The northerners are at advantage. The low JAMB cut-off mark is making northern youth lazy rather than encouraging them. Despite the advantage of the education in Nigeria, we have the highest number of children out of school,” he said.

According to the United Nations, the huge number of out-of-school children in northern Nigeria poses an enormous challenge.

“For example, Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB), gives different cut-off mark for different states and you say you are building a nation, no you are dividing it.

“I am from the north but we have suffered educational disadvantage and the JAMB has given us lower cut-off mark to catch up, have we caught up?

“It is making people lazy,” the governor said.

He also said selecting leaders based on their ‘origin’ will not move any nation forward.

“This has become a big problem for Nigeria. Zoning in political parties cannot solve the economic problems we are facing,” he said. “Selecting the best person to get the job done will benefit everyone.”

“The best we can do is to give everyone equal opportunity.”

Reforms

He also harped on reforming the federal police and judiciary to improve their effectiveness.

“Implement state policing. Some governors have more influence on the police than others; state governors cannot control security actions except there is an order from the IGP. This makes state governors handicapped in serious matters.

“Same is applied to the judiciary system. We are the only country in the world that is running a federal judiciary system. This has exposed the sector to inefficiency. There are decisions for states to take for example, land issues, traditional issues.”

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Court Revokes Marina’s Son’s Bail, Orders His Arrest

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday revoked the bail granted Faisal Maina, the son of Abdulrasheed Maina, and ordered his arrest for jumping bail in his trial on money laundering charges.

Justice Okon Abang also ordered that his trial on money laundering charges would proceed in absentia pending when the security agencies would be able to arrest and produce him in court.

The judge also summoned his surety, a member of the House of Representatives, Sani Umar Dangaladima, representing the Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara State, to appear in court to show cause why he should not forfeit the N60m bail bond which he signed for Faisal.

The order for Faisal’s arrest came barely six days after the same court, on November 18, issued a similar order against his father, Abdulrasheed Maina, a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, who is facing separate N2.1bn money laundering charges before the court.

On Monday, Justice Okon Abang, sent Maina’s surety, Senator Ali Ndume, to jail for his inability to produce the fleeing defendant in court.

Earlier on Tuesday, following the judge’s November 18 ruling, Maina’s trial held in his absence with three prosecution witnesses testifying behind him and his legal team.

At the resumed hearing of Faisal’s trial on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s prosecution counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, said both the defendant and his surety had not attended court since June 24, 2020.

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FG, S’South Govs, Leaders Set to Meet in Rivers Tuesday

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A delegation from the Federal Government is expected to meet with Governors and leaders of the South-South geo-political zone in Government House, Port Harcourt today (Tuesday).

The Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, is expected to lead the presidential delegation.

A Government House source in Port Harcourt, who confirmed the meeting to our correspondent, said Gambari is on his way to Port Harcourt.

The rescheduled meeting is coming on the heels of the botched stakeholders’ forum, which angered the Southern Governor, during which the South-South Governors’ Forum, demanded an apology from the presidency.

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