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Nigeria: EFCC - Senate May Impeach Obasanjo, Atiku

 

   
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Vanguard (Lagos)

September 8, 2006
Posted to the web September 8, 2006

Emmanuel Aziken, Ben Agande & Ayodele Adegbuyi
Abuja

ALLEGED moves by President Olusegun Obasanjo to get Vice-President Atiku Abubakar impeached appeared, yesterday, to be spinning towards a mutual sack for both men with Senators galvanising support for their (Obasanjo and Atiku) impeachment.

The Senators believe the two men should be forced out by March 2007 to allow the President of the Senate take over the leadership of the country and provide a level playing ground for the 2007 elections.

Meanwhile, embattled Vice President Atiku on the advice of some associates and Senators has commenced efforts to solidify support in the Senate which, yesterday, received the report of the Administrative Panel constituted by the President to investigate him and some other citizens.

The covering letter attached to the report from President Obasanjo addressed to the President of the Senate was read without debate on the Senate floor. But briefing newsmen after the Senate session yesterday, Dr Jonathan Zwingina said the Senate would choose one of three options in considering the report.

According to him, the Senate could refer it to a standing committee, an ad-hoc committee or consider it in a committee of the whole Senate.

He said the report would be considered on its merit, but denied that it was meant to impeach the VP.

But outside the Senate chambers, lawmakers were especially reticent on the issue, though some were observed by their colleagues to have welcomed the development as an opportunity to make financial and political capital ahead of the elections.

As at last night, the Senate leadership was making concerted efforts to hide the complete report including correspondences between Obasanjo and Atiku with different sections of the bulky report being reproduced in different places in the National Assembly.

The president's letter dated September 6, 2006 reads: "I am constrained to forward to you a complete report on the investigation substantially generated by the request from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and following my own instruction for the investigation of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) as a result of the allegation made by Congressman William J. Jefferson in his letter of May28, 2004.

"The reports of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry chaired by Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and the conclusions of the FEC on the issue are hereby forwarded to you for information of the members of Senate.

"Just before the FEC considered the Report, the Vice President submitted the memorandum dated 6th September 2006 to which my reply dated 6th September 2006 was given. All are attached to this letter."

Senators who had, by last night, received information on the development were further unnerved by the letter and immediately formed into groups while proceedings in the chamber continued. The lawmakers first congregated along the pro and anti-third divide, the last major political division in the Senate.

However, some silent supporters of the Vice-President and those who sought to take a neutral course were said to be canvassing the impeachment of the President and the Vice-President.

"This thing may well work out for the nation as some of us are rooting for the impeachment of the two of them. That is the popular opinion on the floor," one Senator told Vanguard on the condition of anonymity.

Another Senator confirming the agitation, said a number of Senators were canvassing the impeachment of the President and the Vice-President to allow the President of the Senate take over the leadership of the country within the last three months of the present term of the duo.

Section 146 (2) of the Constitution provides that where there is a vacancy in the office of the President and Vice-President, the President of the Senate should take office and organise an election for a new President and Vice-President within three months.

By the calculation of the Senators seeking the impeachment of the two men, the process could be concluded by March 2007, allowing the President of the Senate to serve out the rest of the tenure as President of the country.

"That to me is the best solution to this whole crisis, allowing the two men to go and give us peace so that we can start on a clean slate," another Senator told Vanguard yesterday.

Sani Sanmi (ANPP, Kebbi South) who had in the past compiled impeachable offences of the President in supporting the proposal told Vanguard yesterday: "The communication is for the process of impeachment and if it is so, he too (the President) has impeachable offences and that means two of them will go. The President and Vice-President will go.

"There are so many impeachable offences he (Obasanjo) has committed which we overlooked. But if he wants to bring the Vice-President's impeachable offences, then we will combine the two of them," Senator Sanmi said shortly after the day's deliberations

Briefing journalists subsequently, Senator Zwingina, vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity said the Senate would follow laid down procedure when considering the report. He listed the three options before the Senate in considering the report to be referring the report to a standing Committee, an ad-hoc Committee or a Committee of the whole Senate.

Affirming that the Senate was not yet on an impeachment move, he said: "I want to be factual about what we received. I want to draw your attention to the President's letter. Let me correct the impression that the Senate has commenced impeachment on him. The Senate has procedure that it could follow on issues like this."

Meanwhile, sources said yesterday that the Vice-President had commenced moves to solidify his base in the Senate by making contacts with Senators. The level of contacts and commitment so far won could, however, not be ascertained last night.

Reps caution on reports

Some members of the House of Representatives also reacted cautiously to the report forwarded by President Obasanjo to the National Assembly on the investigations carried out by EFCC on Vice President Atiku.

While some members hailed the report as a sign of government seriousness in the war against corruption, others said the timing of the release of the report was capable of unnecessarily heating the polity.

Mr. Leo Ogor said though the report had not been formally submitted to the House of Representatives, members would take a dispassionate look at it and make an informed judgment based on facts contained in the report.

"I think the most important thing is that we have to study the report in details. Anything that bothers on corruption would not be tolerated. We will do a detailed analysis and if we find any truth, we will take a patriotic decision. No body is above the law, including the president himself. So long as it can be proved, it will not be tolerated," he said.

In his reaction, Mr. CID Maduabum cautioned that stakeholders in the country should not over-heat the system unnecessarily but added that the National Assembly in the consideration of the report would be guided by national interest and patriotism.

"Whatever it is, the National Assembly would treat the issues involved on their merit and not on sentiment or whether we like the vice president or the president or not. We should be guided by national interest in our deliberation," he said.

Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, in his reaction, said there was nothing in the report that could warrant the speculation of an impeachment of the vice president and urged the president and the vice president to weather the remaining period of their tenure together. "If they have been tolerating each other for the last three and half years, they should allow the remaining six months or so pass without overheating the system," he said.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200609080028.html?page=2

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PDP Govs Back YarAdua
Ticket zoned to North Odili, Duke withdraw
From Kola Ologbondiyan and Oke Epia in Abuja, 12.16.2006

Rivers State Governor, Peter Odili and his Cross River state counterpart, Donald Duke have officially withdrawn from the race for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The effect of this is that the duo of Odili and Duke who were cleared to contest with 19 others in todays primary at the Eagles Square, will no longer be in contention for the partys ticket.

Also yesterday, PDP Governors Forum, in a statement signed by Governor Lucky Igbin-edion after their meeting, endorsed Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Umaru YarAdua, as the partys consensus presidential candidate.
However, informed sources within the Governors Forum has faulted the statement issued by Governor Lucky Ingbinedion of Edo State saying that all governors have willfully withdrawn from the presidential race.

The source said the governors never met, nor were they consulted on the decision to withdraw for YarAdua.
There was no decision, there was no such resolution and this is sheer blackmail, the source said.
The Governors Forum, the source continued, is fatally split, it has been hijacked and this may sound the knell of the forum, the source lamented.

A statement from the camp of governor Duke last night said the decision to withdraw from the race was in line with the decision of the leadership of the PDP to zone the presidency to the North.  Duke was, until his decision to withdraw from the race, a frontline candidate for the ticket of the PDP.  His presidential campaign had been anchored on the platform of visible and credible achievements of his administration in Cross River State.  This message of Dukes platform had resonated well with Nigerians burning desire for change and credible leadership for the country.
In spite of his decision to withdraw from the presidential race, Mr. Duke intends to continue to preach the message of hope and a credible and effective transformation of the country. Governor Duke is grateful to all his supporters and the multitude of Nigerians who believe in his message and support his candidacy for the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the statement said.

There were strong indications last night that some other aspirants may have also withdrawn from the race in line with the position of President Olusegun Obasanjo that the candidate of the party should come from the North.
THISDAY gathered that Odilis withdrawal from the presidential race was contained in a letter dispatched to President Olusegun Obasanjo after an earlier meeting at about 5am yesterday.

Odili was said to have stated in the letter that one of his reasons for withdrawing from the race is in deference to the Presidents position to fulfil the contentious agreement on rotation of return power to the North in 2007.
Obasanjo had during the 2005 national convention where the chairmanship of Chief Ahmadu Ali and other members of the National Executive Comm-ittee were ratified urged PDP members to allow him, as the leader of the party, to be the final arbiter on the contentious issue of power shift.

The Rivers State Governor, whose campaign organization was thrown into disarray by the sudden withdrawal, was said to have opted to back down partly because of his on-going travails with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The anti-corruption organization has recently beamed its searchlight on Rivers State with respect to several projects embarked on by his administration, notably, the Independent Power Project (IPP).
The contractor who handled the project was picked up by operatives of the Commission while the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, was on Wednesday whisked away by the EFCC.

As for Duke, details of how he backed out were still sketchy but his aides confirmed that he threw in the towel after a meeting with the president.
Unofficial sources said Obasanjo had separate meetings with the governors of Southern extraction, who have shown interest in the presidential race, and told them that the party has resolved to cede the presidency to the north.
Some of the governors, who were said to be perplexed  by the contents of Obasanjos message, were said to have scurried to the residence of the partys Board of Trustees chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, to intimate him of the development and also seek his support.
Anenih was said to have told them emphatically that the decision of the party was guided by the need to ensure a return of power to the South at the end of northern tenure.

A statement last night by Igbinedion read: Governors of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controlled states and PDP governorship candidates in Nigeria met today (15th December, 2006) at the Delta State Governors lodge, Abuja and resolved as follows:
That we recognise the need to narrow the search for the presidential candidate of PDP to one who in our opinion presents the best credentials and is generally acceptable across the country.
That after due consideration of all the presidential aspirants on the platform of the party, we have resolved to support the candidature of Alhaji Umar Musa YarAdua. He now becomes the partys consensus candidate.
That all delegates to the National Convention of the party holding on the 16th December, 2006 should therefore vote for Alhaji Umar Musa Yar Adua, the party consensus candidate, the statement submitted.But in a swift reaction, the Aliyu Mohammed Gusau Presidential Campaign Organisation, last night distanced its principal, Gusau, from the adoption of YarAdua as the consensus candidate of PDP, arguing that to arrive at consensus on the eve of the party primaries and after 20 aspirants have already been cleared flies in the face of democratic values and wholly negate the competitive and broad based spirit for which our party is renowned.

The campaign statement, which was signed by its director-general, Professor Ango Abdullahi, contended that, with the latest trend, it is clear that the rules are being skewed in favour of an aspirant while the process is being put into jeopardy.
Notwithstanding, we believe that wise counsel will still prevail and that the primary will still go on in a free and unfettered manner, devoid of intimidation, coercion and blackmail. As far as we are concerned in the Campaign, the primaries are still on and we are sure of victory in the ballot on the condition that the primary election will be conducted in transparent and sincere atmosphere, the statement added.
Gen. Ibrahim Baba-ngida (rtd), was the first to step down from the race, hinging his decision on a moral dilemma he faced when YarAdua and Gen Aliyu Gusau (rtd), joined the fray for the PDP ticket.Governor Ahmed Makarfi of Kaduna State had on Thursday written to the President on his decision to withdraw from the race and opted to represent Kaduna North in the Senate.
Makarfi however predicated his decision on the interest of PDP and the nation. No fewer than 20 of the 27 aspirants that appeared before the panel were cleared to contest todays primary.

Meanwhile, there are indications that some of the northern aspirants were still making frantic moves last night to penetrate the fortress of southern delegates while they are also reaching out to the governors who withdrew from the race to yield their delegates to them.

http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=65842

JK (2006-12-16 13:38:40)

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Im Still Vice President, Says Atiku......Presidential Election :Nigeria 2007. The Race gets Hotter

Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday said despite the declaration by President Olusegun Obasanjo that his office is vacant, he remains the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He said he would resume his official duties at the end of his present vacation.
Foremost economist and lawyer, Chief Omowale Kuye, also yesterday described President Obasanjo's move to sack his deputy as a path to perfidy, suffering and potential chaos for all Nigerians.
Atiku, in a letter dispatched yesterday to Senate President Ken Nnamani, House of Representatives Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari and Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Salihu Modibbo Belgore, reasserted that he remains the Vice President of the country.
He told them to therefore disregard his purported removal from office and ensure the sanctity of the nations constitution, saying We all owe it a duty to our people to do everything humanly possible to halt this rapid descent into lawlessness.
A copy of the letter, dispatched to the three officials reads:
It has come to my attention that President Olusegun Obasanjo has declared my office vacant and has also announced the withdrawal of my rights and privileges as the Vice President of Nigeria.  The President claimed to have based his unconstitutional action on my emergence as the Presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC).
This unprecedented action of the President runs completely contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which is the ground norm of our democracy.  Nowhere in this constitution is the President empowered to remove his deputy who was elected with him by the Nigerian people. Sections 143 and 146 of the constitution are clear and unambiguous about the procedures for the removal of the President and his deputy.  Under these sections, the President and his vice can only be removed from office by reasons of death, resignation, impeachment, and permanent incapacitation. None of this applies to me.
It is therefore illegal, unconstitutional and a gross abuse of office for the President to announce that I have been removed from office.  Only the people of Nigeria whose mandate I enjoy can remove me from office through their elected representatives in the National Assembly. Neither the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nor the President has the power to declare my office vacant.
The only choice available to the President if he thinks that I have contravened any section of the constitution is to report me to the National Assembly or to seek clarification from a competent court of law.  Any action outside this should be considered null and void, an exercise in futility and of no consequence at all.
The Presidents action regarding my purported removal amounts to the appropriation of the powers and functions of both the legislature and the judiciary. This is alien to the principle of separation of powers which is the hallmark of our constitution.
I urge you therefore to disregard my purported removal from office and ensure the sanctity of our constitution.  We all owe it a duty to our people to do everything humanly possible to halt this rapid descent into lawlessness.
I remain the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and will resume my official duties at the expiration of my present vacation.
Meanwhile, foremost economist and lawyer, Chief Omowale Kuye, yesterday described President Obasanjo's move to sack his deputy, as a path to perfidy, suffering and potential chaos for all Nigerians.
Speaking to THISDAY yesterday, Kuye, former Director of Budget and husband of Priscilla Kuye, former national president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), insisted that it is impossible for Obasanjo to sack the Vice-President.
He also frowned at the perceived party interference in the presidential action.
The 78 year-old economist, who spoke passionately on the state of the nation said, "I am afraid for this country. I am 78 and I don't want to be ruled this way anymore. I am tired and fed up. The statement by Obasanjo on sack of his deputy may lead Nigeria into a lot of chaos. The Constitution is clear.
"Nobody can sack the Vice-President. I wonder if they distinguish between party and the President. The party has no role in this matter, and it is impossible for the President to sack a deputy.
All of us are courting our own path to perfidy. If an unreasonable person takes over, all of us will suffer. At 78, I have suffered enough. It is not the duty of the President to make nominations to the National Assembly for a replacement for the Vice-President. It is not possible for him to do that. It is only Nigerians that can decide who to govern them in the posts of both President and Vice-President", Kuye said.
He urged all Nigerians to rise up and condemn the Presidents unconstitutional action and ensure the President acts only within the confines of the Constitution.
Kuye also decried some legal comments on the sack issue, claiming that most of them were based on sentiment and clouded by politics.
"Most of the comments in the newspapers are not law but emotion and morality. It is not possible to live simply on morality grounds alone. Legal opinion is specific, but the Constitution is superior", he added.

http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=66575

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