A group, Bayelsa Democratic Front (BDF), has expressed full support for the relocation of the Bayelsa State National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal from Yenagoa to Abuja.
In a statement issued on Wednesday in Yenagoa, the President-General of BDF, Chief Promise Okpoebi, said the decision by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to order a relocation of the tribunal from its original office at the Bayelsa State High Court premises, Onopa Road, Yenagoa was “in the best interest of justice and democracy”. The group recalled that in early 2015, Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson led a group of thugs to attack and sack a Federal High Court in Yenagoa. The court was about to deliver judgment in matter in which he had interest. BDF said the tribunal relocation would prevent a repeat of such ugly incident.
In a public statement, the Secretary of the tribunal, D. B. Akawu, urged counsels, litigants and the general public who had business with the tribunal to visit the Court of Appeal at the Three Arms Zone, Abuja.
The statement added, “This is to notify all counsels, litigants and general public that Bayelsa National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, has been relocated to Abuja.
“The registry of the tribunal will now be at the Court of Appeal headquarters, Three Arms Zone, Abuja”.
Although no reason was given for the relocation, it is widely believed that security was a key factor. The security situation in Yenagoa is currently alarming, and this bespeaks grave dangers for the smooth sitting and safety of tribunal members.
It was learnt that prior to the relocation order, the President of the Court of Appeal received several petitions about the state of insecurity in the state. The petitions even made reference to the attack and sack of a Federal High Court in Yenagoa in early 2015 by Bayelsa State Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson, and a gang of thugs.
The Bayelsa Democratic Front (BDF) recalls that an online newspaper, Premium Times obtained a video and did a report on the court invasion of Monday, March 30, 2015.
According to the Premium Times report:
“The Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, on Monday led a gang of thugs to attack a Federal High court in Bayelsa, a video obtained by PREMIUM TIMES has shown.
The video shows the governor, dressed in traditional Ijaw blazers, walking into the court premises, accompanied by his police guards and hangers on, before hooligans, including rifle wielding police officers, invaded and attacked the court.
The thugs were chanting “we no go gree, for this state, e no possible” as they walked into a court hearing. Loud gunshots could be heard shortly before the hooligans began breaking glasses and destroying properties inside the court.
At least 15 lawyers, including a pregnant woman and two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, were in the court during the attack.
The governor walked out of the court premises at the peak of the attack.”
The online newspaper report had it that the court was in session to deliver a judgment on Senator Heineken Lokpobiri’s case against Dickson’s anointed senatorial candidate, Foster Ogola, over the validity of the latter’s candidacy for Bayelsa West senatorial district in the 2015 National Assembly Election. Mr. Lopkobiri claimed his then party, the Peoples Democratic Party, illegally substituted his name with Mr. Ogola’s, and had filed a suit accusing Foster Ogola of submitting false information to INEC.
BDF insisted Governor Dickson has not changed. BDF’s President-General, Okpoebi, painted a picture of the Bayelsa Governor as a violent man. “He is a man of war and terror. He has no problems resorting to violence to get what he wants”, he said.
“We thank the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Bulkachuwa, for listening to the cries of Bayelsa people. Dickson is a desperate man. Now that he is in his last days as governor, he is living in a state of political anxiety. Bayelsans are determined to stop him from anointing a successor”
PDP Ekiti ward executives sworn in for four-year tenure
The Ekiti State Ward Executive Committee members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 155 out of the 177 wards in Ekiti State have taken the mantle of office for a tenure of four years, after they were sworn in yesterday by a Notary Public, Barrister Niyi Idowu in accordance with the party’s constitution as amended in 2017.
In a letter dated April 30, 2020 and addressed to the party through the State Legal Adviser, , Barrister Niyi Idowu said; “Kindly be informed that upon submission of the duly completed Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance form today Thursday 30th April 2020 by 7:30am and in line with the provisions of Section 65 of the People’s Democratic Party, the newly elected Ward Executive Officers of your party whose names were verified and contained in a letter with reference N0. PDP/DOM/GF.V/VOL.2/20-387B are admitted to Oath and therefore sworn in already to function in their various offices.”
The Notary Public, who admitted Oath on the Ward Executive members, had directed them to fill and sign the oath of office and oath of allegiance as provided in the party constitution.
“It is to be noted that in view of the ravaging pandemic, Covid-19, kindly inform the Concerned Ward Executives to print and fill the Oath of Office and Oath allegiance as it appeared in your Party Constitution.
“Each person must read and understand the Oath of Office and Oath Allegiance to your Party before submitting same.
“That only Ward Executives Officer who submit his/her Oath of Office and Oath Allegiance on or before 7:30 am on Thursday 30th is technically deemed to have sworn before me in view of the various rules, regulation, protocols and laws regulating gathering and social distancing protocol,” Niyi Idowu said in his letter accepting to carry out the responsibility.
In a letter with ref no: PDP/DOM/GF.V/VOL.2/20-387B dated April 25, 2020, and signed by the National Organising Secretary, Col Austin Akobundu (rtd), the NWC had directed the State Chairman of the Party, Chief Barr. Gboyega Oguntuwase “to take necessary and appropriate steps to Inaugurate the new Executive Officers in accordance with the provisions of Section 65 of our Party’s Constitution as amended in 2017.”
In the letter, the NWC had listed names of the Ward Executives for 155 out of the 177 wards in Ekiti State that emerged in the Ward Congresses held on March 7, 2020. The party stated that the Congresses did not hold in Gbonyin and Ekiti East local councils.
“After giving careful consideration of the reports of the Electoral Committee, the Appeal Panel, has, on behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Party, approved the said Congresses and the Executive Committees emerging therefrom. You are therefore by this correspondence, directed to take necessary and appropriate steps to Inaugurate the new Executive Officers in accordance with the provisions of Section 65 of our Party’s Constitution as amended in 2017.
“In doing this, you’re please advised to also take into account the provisions of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Guidelines of COVID-19 as it concerns social distancing and the gathering of people in one place.
“This shall be the new Exco members at the expiration of the current executives, i.e. April 30, 2020, for Ward and shall hold office for a period of four (4) years pursuant to Section 47(1) of our Party’s constitution as amended; (i.e. April 30, 2020 – April 30, 2024, for Ward Executives,” the letter read.
Nass Leadership: NASS retains 2015 Standing Rule for Senate
As the Ninth Assembly inauguration commenced, senators-elect argue on process to adopt in voting.
While some pushed for secret ballot , others wanted open ballot.
“I did not receive any court order directing the use of 2011 Standing Order for the election of presiding officers of the Senate”, says N/Assembly Clerk, Mohammed Sani Omolori. Nass retains 2015 Standing Rule for Senate.
Nass Leadership: PDP Endorses Ali Ndume
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after very extensive consultations with critical stakeholders resolves to support Senator Ali Ndume and Hon. Umar Mohammed Bago for Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives respectively, ahead of National Assembly inauguration on Tuesday.
The final resolution on Senator Ndume and Hon. Bago was reached at the end of a decisive meeting of members of the National Working Committee, party leaders, state governors as well as senators and members-elect on the platform of the PDP.
This decision is in the best interest of the nation, in line with our party’s determination to deepen democracy, ensure a strong and independent legislature, strict compliance to the principle of separation of powers as well as constitutional checks and balances in the polity.
All senators and members-elect on the platform of the PDP are to be guided accordingly.
Sen. Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri
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