​BREAKING: Yakubu assumes office as INEC Chairman

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Thursday assumed office for a second term as Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.

Yakubu had arrived to a rousing reception by INEC headquarters staff and guests at about 11:20 am and went into a closed-door session with the national commissioners. Thereafter, at a brief ceremony to formally take over affairs of the commission, Yakubu pledged to discharge his mandate without bias.

He said he had steadily strengthened the institutional capacity of INEC to carry on with its mandate even in the absence of a Chairman. Before handing over the reins of leadership, Muazu congratulated Prof. Yakubu on his reappointment.

He explained how the commission had carried on for the past month and said invaluable lessons were learned from the conduct last weekend’s bye-elections.

According to Muazu, INEC was confronted with several challenges, especially security during the bye-elections, lamenting the loss of six police personnel who drowned in Bayelsa State.

Yakubu had on November 9 handed over affairs of the commission to a National Commissioner, Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Muazu (retd).

The development followed the expiration of his first tenure of five years. President Muhammadu Buhari had on October 27 reappointed Prof. Yakubu for a second term of five years.

Yakubu and five National Commissioners were first sworn in on 9th November 2015 followed by another six National Commissioners on 7th December 2016 and one more National Commissioner on 21st July 2018.

However, Yakubu was again sworn in for a second term on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari following his clearance by the Senate.

​Reps’ invitation: Gbajabiamila deftly shuts down motion on Buhari’s U-turn on appearance

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Thursday employed unusual tact and deftly sidestepped a motion to discuss President Muhammadu Buhari’s volte-face on the parliament’s invitation to brief it on the escalating security situation in the country.

It will be recalled that the House on December 1, took a resolution via a motion and invited the President to appear before it for explaination.

The invitation was expressly occasioned by the gruesome killing of over 43 rice farmers in Zarbamari village, Borno State penultimate Saturday.

The Presidency was reported to have earlier consented to the invitation and pledged Buhari’s commitment to honour it after Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila conveyed the resolution of the House to him.

Obviously excited by this “feat” of securing an appointment with the number one citizen of the country, the House Spokesman, Benjamin Kalu celebrated it to the high heavens, saying in a press conference that the 9th House through the leadership of Gbajabiamila had broken a jinx, scoring a first in that regard.

He even quipped on the previous assembly, saying they withheld the budget of the President who in turn ignored their invitations.

But at the eleventh hour when Nigerians were very much expectant of hearing from their President, speculations became rife that the President would pooh-pooh the invitation.

True to the situation, the speculations were later given credence by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) when he ruled that the Parliament lacked the constitutional powers to summon the President.

The Senate also joined in the fray, prompting verbal fisticuffs between them and the deputy minority leader of the House, Hon. Toby Okechukwu.

At plenary on Thursday, a member from Rivers State, Hon. Solomon Bob (PDP) invoked Order 6 of the House to seek explaination from the Speaker about why the President had obviously made a volte-face.

Relying on the Order of Privileges, Bob said: “Last week, I recall that this House passed a resolution. Subsequently, I read that the president has considered our request.”

He however expressed shock that the President later u-turned on his earlier promise to appear before the House.

He therefore demanded explaination from the Speaker.

“If this House can pass a resolution and we have a situation where such a resolution is abused, it means our very existence is being questioned. I think that the speaker should address us on the current situation. The entire country is watching. It bothers me.

While the lawmaker was on his feet speaking, a pin-drop silence and tranquillity fell on the chamber as the lawmakers present listened with rapt attention, thinking of how the Speaker would handle the delicate situation.

But Gbajabiamila employed an utmost legislative tact and finesse.

On a good day, such point of order would have been sustained and allowed to be debated. But obviously, the Speaker was not in the mood to allow controversy continue to fester.

In a split of seconds, he gave his response and hit his gavel.

“Hon; your point of Privilege is well noted. We wait for official communications from Mr. President as opposed to newspaper publications”, he swiftly ruled and moved on with the House proceedings.

​Breaking: Fleeing Maina’s son, Faisal arrested

Faisal, son of the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was declared wanted by the Federal High Court in Abuja, has been arrested.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, confirmed to the court on Thursday that the 21-year-old Faisal, who jumped bail since June 24, was apprehended by security operatives on Wednesday night.

Faisal is facing a three-count money laundering charge the anti-graft agency preferred against him.

Trial Justice Okon Abang had in a ruling on November 24, revoked his bail, even as he issued bench warrant for security agencies to arrest him wherever he is found.

The court equally summoned the member representing Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency, Umar Dan-Galadima, who stood surety for the Defendant, to show cause why he should not be remanded in custody or made to forfeit N60million bail bond on the head of the Defendant, to the Federal Government.

Relying on section 352 (4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Justice Abang also gave the EFCC the nod to prosecute the Defendant in absentia.

The Prosecution had since closed its case against him after it called three witnesses that testified in the matter.

At the resumed proceeding in the matter on Thursday, counsel to the surety, Mr. M. E. Sheriff, urged the court to suspend hearing of the forfeiture case against his client in view of the arrest of the Defendant.

He said: “My lord, I was reliably informed that the Defendant had been arrested. He was arrested last night and he is in custody”.

Though he confirmed the development, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Farouk Abdullah, said the Defendant has not been handed over to the agency.

“He is not in our custody yet, but we got information unofficially that he has been arrested”, the Prosecution counsel added.

On his part, Mr. Anayo Adibe who announced appearance for Faisal, also applied for suspension of the committal/forfeiture proceeding against the surety “to allow the court to ascertain the authenticity or otherwise of the Defendant’s status”.

In a bench ruling, Justice Abang dismissed the adjournment request and ordered the surety to move the application he filed to show cause why he should not forfeit the bail bond to FG.

EFCC alleged that Maina’s son had sometimes between 2013 and 2019, received the sum of N58.11million, being proceeds of a corrupt act by his father.

He was also accused of failing to properly declare his assets before the EFCC.

Before he was released on bail, the Defendant, was initially remanded in police custody after the prosecution notified the court that he was being investigated on allegation bordering on his alleged possession of illegal firearm.

Faisal had reportedly pulled a gun to challenge operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS that arrested his father at a hotel in Abuja on September 30.

It will be recalled that his father, Maina, who is facing a separate 12-count money laundering charge, also jumped bail and was later arrested in Niger Republic by the Interpol.