$500m (N182bn)Loan: PDP Blasts Lai Mohammed, …Says is A Pipe For CABAL

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The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Oyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Thursday upheld the election of Senator Bassey Albert for Akwa Ibom North-East (Uyo) Senatorial District. The Tribunal also upheld the victory of Hon. Unyime Idem for Ukanafun/Oruk Anam Federal Constituency and that of Nse Ekpenyong of Oron/Udung Uko/Urueffong Oruko/Mbo/Okobo federal constituency. The three-member tribunal sitting at the State Sanitation Court Complex in Uyo ruled in favor of the Respondents who are all members of the People Democratic Party (PDP). The tribunal cited the inability of petitioners to prove allegations of criminality and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, as contained in their petitions. Bassey Etim, the candidate and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had told the tribunal that Bassey Albert of the PDP was not elected by majority of lawful votes; not qualified to contest the National Assembly elections as his documents were falsified; and that his emergence was by reason of corrupt practices; and non-compliance with the Electoral Act by the Independent National Electoral Commission The petitioners, who were represented at the tribunal by Reuben Egwaba Esq, relied on Section 140(3) to urge that the tribunal nullifies the election of Senator Bassey Albert and declare Mr. Bassey Etim as the winner. In the alternative, Etim called on the tribunal to order a fresh election and exclude the PDP and Senator Bassey Albert from contesting. However, Counsel to the PDP, O. B. Akpan Esq and that of the 1st Respondent Mr.Solomon Umoh SAN represented by M. D. Gwaison, submitted that the petitioners, who made wild criminal allegations of falsification of documents and noncompliance with electoral act, did not tender any other document to prove their claim. Barr Akpan also said that a witness subpoenaed by the Petitioner, S. O. Ibrahim, Deputy Director, Legal Department of INEC had testified that Senator Albert satisfied INEC’s screening to contest the elections and that no reports have been received by INEC from WAEC or any of the institutions denying any document submitted by Senator Albert. On votes acquired by Senator Albert, the respondents held that “the Petitioners submitted polling unit results as Exhibits P1-P317 and P320-P821 but merely dumped them at this Tribunal without linking any to their Petition during the trial. “All witnesses of the Petitioners including the Petitioner only relied on hearsay in their Witness Statements. They confirmed on cross-examination that they only received reports from agents,” maintaining that they were unable to pinpoint units of which INEC did not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act. “On lawful votes, the Petitioners carefully avoided and abandoned their pleadings without giving any evidence, written or oral to prove how Senator Albert was not returned elected”. Similarly, the election of Hon. Unyime Idem was also upheld on the ground that evidence of Petitioners and their witnesses were based on hearsay from polling unit agents, without substantial evidences. In proof of their petition, the petitioners called only three (3) witnesses, PW1 – Aniebiet Sunday Idung, PW2 – Friday Thomas Uwa, PW3 – Emmanuel Ukoette However, the Tribunal upheld the argument of the respondents that, “all grave criminal allegations must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Witnesses can only give evidence at polling units where they voted”. The tribunal agreed with the 1st and 2nd respondents that the election into House of Representatives for the Ukanafun/Oruk Anam Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State was conducted by the 3rd Respondent in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and 2019 General Elections Guidelines and Regulations in the discharge of its constitutional function. The Tribunal also ordered the Petitioner, Emmanuel Ukoette to pay Hon. Idem the sum of one hundred thousand naira (N100, 000). Similarly, the petition brought before the tribunal by Mr. Victor Antai of the APC challenging the victory of Chief Nse Ekpenyong of the PDP for Oron Federal Constituency was dismissed for lacking in merit. As at the time of this report, the ruling was being awaited for the Uyo Federal Constituency seat where Mr. Ekerete Ekpenyong of the APC is challenging the victory of Mr. Michael Enyong of the PDP in the February 23, 2019, national assembly election.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has told the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to perish the thoughts of further mortgaging the future of our country by securing $500 million dollars (N182 billion) loan, purportedly for upgrading of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

The party also urged the National Assembly to save the nation by refusing the request by President Muhammadu Buhari to plunge our nation into more debt through his request for additional $29.9 billion dollars loan, in which the said $500 million and other unexplained subheads are embedded.

The PDP implores the National Assembly to reject the clear attempt by the cabal in the Buhari Presidency to worsen the economic situation in our country via the use of phony projects as guise to draw foreign funds to service their selfish economic and political interests.

The party notes that under the Buhari Presidency, our foreign debt has accumulated to $83 billion dollars with nothing to show other than excruciating unemployment rate, decayed infrastructure, a worsening governance system, escalated insecurity and unprecedented poverty.

The PDP alerts that the request for the approval of $500 million is aimed at setting the stage for further fleecing of our nation’s economy as the Federal Government under the Buhari administration has shown no commitment towards nation building, transparency and accountability in governance.

Moreover, the Federal Government has failed to present details of the requested $29.9 billion dollars loan in which the $500 million being requested by the Minister of Information and Culture is embedded; a development that points to nothing but the corruption in the Buhari administration.

While counselling the Minister to perish the thoughts of $500 million, the PDP charges him to use his appearance at the National Assembly to give account of the funds so far released to the Ministry of Information and Culture which has been plagued by cases and allegations of corruption under his watch.

The party also charges Lai Mohammed to immediately provide answers to circumstances surrounding the reported National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) N2.5 billion fraud.

The PDP urges the National Assembly to shelve all requests for foreign loans until the Buhari Presidency heed to the demand by Nigerians to open its books and publish details of all financial transactions on foreign loans as well as spending from the federation account so as to secure our economy from the bazaar of the corrupt cabal in the Buhari Presidency.