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Senate Committee Recommends the Creation of Okura State, 19 Others

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The agitation for the creation of more states in the country is about to enter a new phase.

This follows the recommendation by the Senate Committee on Constitution Review that referendum be conducted for 20 new states by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Nation gathered yesterday that the committee’s decision was reached after considering various factors including the ability of civilian administration to create states.

It recalled that the defunct Mid-Western Region was created in 1963 in the First Republic.

To check tax evasion, the Senate panel also approved the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to allow for the creation of Federal Revenue Court.

There will be about five revenue courts to deal with all tax issues nationwide, especially cases involving multinational firms.

A highly placed source said the Senate panel will soon meet with the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review for joint consultations on some of the approved amendments.

Creation of new states tops the list of amendments to the 1999 Constitution.

Although less than five of the current 36 states are economically viable, it was gathered that the Senate Committee was determined to respect what it termed “the genuine desire of Nigerians.”

The list of requests for new states is quite long but sources said referendum may be conducted for no fewer than 20 states.

Some of the requests are ITAI State (fromAkwa Ibom State); State status for the FCT; Katagum State from Bauchi State; Okura State from Kogi East; Adada State from Enugu State; Gurara State from Kaduna South; and Ijebu State from Ogun State

Others are Ibadan State from Oyo State; Tiga State from Kano State; Ghari State from Kano State; Amana State from Adamawa; Gongola State from Adamawa; Mambilla State from Taraba State; Savannah State from Borno State; and Okun state from Kogi State.

Those on the list include Etiti State from the South East Zone; Orashi State from Imo and Anambra states; Njaba from the present Imo State or the excision of Aba State from Abia State; Anioma State from Delta State; Torogbene and Oil River States, from Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states; and Bayajida State from parts of Katsina, Jigawa and Zamfara states.

The source said:”The Senate Committee on Constitution Review has seen the desirability of creating new states which may even solve the nation’s present security challenges.

“What the Senate Committee has recommended is to amend the constitution to empower INEC to conduct the referendum on state creation.

” When INEC gets the constitutional mandate, we can then invoke Section in Part 1 of Chapter 1 of the 1999 Constitution.

Read Also: Electronic transmission: Senate in the eye of the storm

“We are talking of referendum for less than or about 20 new states.”

Responding to a question, the source added:

“The procedures for creating new states may be cumbersome but realizable.

“At the committee level, it was obvious that a civilian administration is better placed to create new states than any other form of government. In fact, the defunct Mid-Western Region was created in 1963 during the First Republic.

” In this Fifth Amendment to the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly can create new states if the conditions are met.”

Section in Part 1 of Chapter 1 of the 1999 Constitution states the conditions as follows:

“An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new state shall only be passed if –

(a) a request, supported by at least two-thirds majority of members ( representing the area demanding the creation of the new state) in each if the following –

(i) the Senate and the House of Representatives

(ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and

(iii) the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly.

“A proposal for the creation of the state is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for creation of the state originated.

” The result if the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the states of the Federation supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly, and

” The proposal is approved by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of members of each House of the National Assembly.”

It was also gathered that the Senate Committee on Constitution Review recommended the establishment of Federal Revenue Court, including five branches to adjudicate on tax-related issues.

Another source said:” The establishment of the court will accelerate cases involving tax defaulters, under-declaration of returns, and other abuses by local and multinational companies.

” The constitution will be amended to accommodate this specialized court.”

Asked when the Senate and the House of Representatives Committees will meet, the source added: “Before the end of the month.”

The last state creation in Nigeria took place on October 1,1996 when the late military Head of State, General Sani Abacha, announced the emergence of Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Nasarawa and Zamfara.

Source: The Nation

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Umahi Declares for 2023 Presidential Race

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As has been widely expected, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2023 Presidential race.

According to the Governor, he has informed President Muhammadu Buhari of his ambition to contest the presidency on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC).

Governor Umahi’s action came barely 24 hours after the National Leader of the Party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, took similar steps.

Umahi disclosed his latest move to State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

  1. On what his chances chances are against the background that other big political figures had indicated their intentions to run for the same office, including Asiwaju Tinubu, the Governor said God would be the decider of the outcome of the race.

Umahi, who left the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the APC, said he stands a chance if the APC throws the ticket open.

He said if he gets the opportunity, his presidency will replicate his efforts in Ebonyi, saying that he has a lot to show in running governance as a business.

The Governor also said he spoke with the President about resolving the security crisis bugging the Southeast region through political solutions.

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We Haven’t Zoned the Presidential Slot to Any Part of the Country, says PDP

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As permutations continue ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has denied zoning the presidential slot, saying a decision is yet to be taken on where its presidential ticket would be zoned to.

It also dismissed reports indicating that PDP had resolved to zone the presidential ticket to a particular region of the country.

Recall that former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, had, last week, told a group drumming support for the presidential ambition of ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar that the party had resolved to field a northerner as its presidential candidate.

But reacting to the reports, spokesman for the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said: “This is completely misleading as it does not in any way represent the position of our party. For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP emphatically and unequivocally states that it has not zoned its presidential ticket to any part of the country.

“The PDP is a political party founded on democratic principles and every action of the party, including zoning, is based on extensive consultations, discussions and consideration of all the issues as well as the various tendencies and interests across the nation, with the main objective of ensuring that the unity, peaceful co-existence and development of our nation are reinforced and promoted.

“The PDP, therefore, urges Nigerians, our teeming members and supporters to completely disregard the unfounded zoning claims as being peddled. Our party also cautions those behind the claims to desist forthwith.

“The PDP thanks Nigerians for the overwhelming interest they have in our party as their sure platform to rescue and rebuild our nation from misrule and urges them to remain united and focused as we join forces for the task ahead.”

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Andy Uba Wasn’t a Candidate in Anambra Governorship Election, Court Rules

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All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in Anambra, Andy Uba, who has vowed to upturn the election of Professor Chukwuma Soludo, was handed an unexpected knock out on Monday.

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, nullified his participation in the 6 November election, declaring his candidacy illegal.

The ruling effectively denied Uba a locus standi to challenge Soludo.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the June 26 primary of the party which produced Uba as its standard-bearer was not validly conducted.

The ruling ended what would have been some legal distraction for Soludo, a former Central bank governor, hoping to make a difference in governance in the state.

Chief George Moghalu, an aspirant in the APC primary election had challenged the process and the outcome of the primary election that produced Uba as the party’s candidate.

Moghalu, who was the plaintiff, had sued the party, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Uba as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo aligned with the plaintiff’s arguments that the June 26 primary election breached the provisions of the Electoral Act and the APC guidelines for the conduct of the exercise.

Chief George Moghalu

He held that the plaintiff had successfully demonstrated that the primary election was not conducted in accordance with the law and the party’s guidelines.

“Therefore, the case of the plaintiff succeeds on its merit,” he said.

Ekwo held that since the election was conducted illegally, the APC (1st defendant) cannot be a beneficiary of the Nov. 6 election which produced the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Prof. Charles Soludo, as the winner of the poll outcome.

The judge, therefore, declared that the APC had no candidate in the Anambra governorship election by non-inclusion of the name of Moghalu in the primary election, and the conduct of the poll in contravention of the Electoral Act and the party’s guidelines.

“The 2nd defendant (INEC) is compelled to delist the name of the 1st defendant and 3rd defendant from the Nov. 6, Anambra governorship election,” he ordered.

Prof. Charles Soludo
Anambra Governor-Elect

According to the judge, any election conducted contrary to the 1st defendant guideline is in nullity.

“The real issue was not whether accredited members of 1st defendant voted on that day but whether the election was conducted in accordance with the election guidelines of 1st defendant,” he held.

He also said that the evidence of the police report confirmed that the election was conducted outside the time frame.

Ekwo, who described the conduct of the primary by APC as “crude and primitive,” ordered that the N22.5 million paid by Moghalu as expression of interest and nomination forms be refunded since the party failed to complied with the provisions of the law and its guidelines.

Moghalu had, in July, filed the suit at the court, seeking an order removing Uba and the APC from the list of gubernatorial candidates and political parties partaking in the Anambra governorship election on the grounds that the party failed to conduct a valid primary election.

He also demanded N122.5 million as damages, which include a refund for the fee paid for expression of interest and nomination forms and N100 million “for the breach of contract to commence and conclude primary election”.

INEC had picked Uba, winner of the APC primary election, as the party’s candidate.

In the affidavit in support of the suit, the plaintiff said the APC failed to conclude the selection and nomination process for its candidate for the Nov. 6 governorship poll.

He said the APC had chosen to adopt direct primary, which is why the party published the list of designated venues for the exercise.

Moghalu said the party received N22.5 million for the expression of interest form and nomination form, including from him, “to allow him to participate in the primary election exercise”.
He further said he was informed a day before the primaries that the APC electoral committee would address all aspirants and stakeholders in Akwa.
“Shockingly, on June 26, 2021, the said election committee was not seen anywhere in Anambra; no accreditation of voters took place; no voting and collation of votes occurred in all the 326 wards of Anambra state,” he said.

He said the committee “announced election results it did not conduct, and which fakery was credited to the 3rd defendant as the winner of the primary election scheduled for emergence as APC’s candidate in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra”.

Moghalu also argued that the party did not invite the INEC in line with the law requiring the commission to monitor the exercise.

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