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QuickRead: PDP’s suspension of Fayose, others. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter



The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last week suspended some key members of the party over alleged anti-party activities.

Also, the Appeal Court during same week upheld the victory of Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, in last year’s governorship election in the state.

These and three other stories we tracked dominated public discourse last week.

1. PDP’s suspension of Fayose, others

On March 23, the PDP national leadership suspended the former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, his Katsina State counterpart, Ibrahim Shema, and ex-Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, for alleged anti-party activities.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, who confirmed the development in a statement, said the party leadership also referred the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, to a disciplinary committee for the same reason.

The statement read: “The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has after a very extensive review of the affairs of our party in the country and pursuant to the provisions of the PDP Constitution (as amended in 2017) referred the Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom to the National Disciplinary Committee over his reported involvement in anti-party activities.

“The NWC also approved the suspension of the following from the party with effect from today, Thursday, March 23, 2023.”

Why it matters

The latest suspension of the PDP chieftains speaks to the magnitude of the crisis that has gripped the major opposition party since the completion of its presidential primary in May last year.

The decision by the PDP leadership suggests that the party is in danger of serious implosion following its defeat in last month’s presidential election, a development that ended its hope of regaining power at the centre for the first time since 2015.

All said, the development lends credence to the fact that there would always be various tendencies in a political grouping, with each pulling at narrow interests.

Most importantly, how the party handles the current impasse will largely determine how it fares in the years ahead.

2. Appeal Court’s ruling on Osun election

The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on March 25 affirmed the election of Ademola Adeleke as the Osun State governor.

In its ruling on the appeal filed by the governor, a three-member panel of the appellate court led by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu set aside the decision of the election petition tribunal which nullified his success in the election two months ago.

The Court of Appeal held that the tribunal was “wrong to declare that there was over-voting during the governorship election held on July 16 last year.

Justice Shuaibu, who read the lead judgment, said: “It is inconceivable to assume that the testimonies of the respondents’ witnesses had any probative value.
“Though the 1st and 2nd respondents relied on BVAS reports obtained from INEC to prove over-voting, they did not, nonetheless, call petitioner’s witness 1 to speak to the reports, that is, Exhibits BVR reports from INEC’s back-end server.
“Strangely, the tribunal, in its judgment, only relied on the table set out in an address of counsel to hold that over-voting occurred in an election.”

Why it matters

The ruling highlights the technicalities inherent in the administration of justice, particularly on election matters in Nigeria.
It also means that the country’s electoral process is still a work in progress, despite the deployment of technology to enhance the system.

3. Ekweremadus’ conviction for organ trafficking

A court in the United Kingdom on March 23 convicted the former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, his wife Beatrice, and their family doctor, Obinna Obeta, for organ trafficking.

The jury in its ruling agreed with the prosecution that the trio criminally conspired to bring a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney.

The judge, Justice Jeremy Johnson, said sentencing would be passed on the convicts at a later date.

He said: “The behaviour of Ekweremadu, a successful lawyer and founder of an anti-poverty charity who helped draw up Nigeria’s laws against organ trafficking, showed entitlement, dishonesty, and hypocrisy.”

Read also:QuickRead: INEC’s shift of guber and state assembly elections. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter

Why it matters

The conviction of Nigeria’s former number three citizen reaffirms the place of law in the affairs of men, especially in a clime where corruption and other acts of impunity receive premium attention.

The efficiency and speed at which the British jury adjudicated the matter provide the opportunity for us to once again look at our institutions, especially the judiciary which appears occasionally compromised.

Ultimately, the Ekweremadus conviction is a sad reminder that bad behavior will not go unpunished, no matter how long it takes.

4. British govt’s move to sanction electoral offenders

The British government has started collating relevant information about Nigerians involved in electoral violence, and other vices during the just concluded general elections in the country.

The British High Commission confirmed the development in a statement on March 22 in Abuja. It decried the violence that disrupted the conduct of the elections, and the reign of ethno-religious language by some political figures that pitched Nigerians against themselves.

The statement read: “We observed improvements around elections logistics by INEC during the gubernatorial elections, particularly when compared to the Presidential elections.
“More polling units opened on time, there was greater evidence of BVAS and IREV working and results uploaded in real-time from polling units and collation centres. These are positive markers to build on for future elections.
“We can confirm that we are collating relevant information, with a view to taking action against some individuals.”

Why it matters

Foreign interests in Nigeria elections emphasize, among others, their desire for the enthronement of credible and sustainable leadership recruitment processes in the country.

However, following the incidences including violence, voter intimidation/suppression and ballot box snatching that marred the last elections, the time has come for the western powers to walk their talk by wielding the stick against those found to have undermined the electoral process to serve as a deterrent to others.

The resentments that trailed the elections show that the country’s electoral process is still far from ideal and the government and its citizens still have their work cut out in the efforts to enthrone a credible recruitment process anchored on fairness, equity, and justice.

5. NLC’s naira scarcity strike

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on March 22 declared a nationwide strike over the lingering Naira scarcity in the country.

The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, who announced this at a media briefing in Abuja, said the congress would picket the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) branches nationwide.
The strike is expected to begin this Wednesday.

Ajaero said: “Last week, we gave an ultimatum for the review of the cash crunch bedeviling the country, but we have discovered to our dismay that as at this moment not much effort has been made to ameliorate the situation, the government is still foot-dragging on these issues we raised.
“Based on this, we met again this morning to review our position and resolved that by Wednesday next week all CBN branches will be picketed, workers are directed to stay at home too because people cannot eat, workers can no longer go to the office, we have been pushed to the wall.”

Why it matters

The continued scarcity of the naira notes weeks after the Supreme Court reversed the timelines for implementation of the currency redesign project again speaks to the chaotic handling of the policy.

The sight of long queues in banks and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) points almost on a daily basis calls into question the readiness of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the implementation of the policy before making it public last year.

By Hamed Shobiye

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