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SHOWDOWN: Atiku, Ozekhome, Dickson condemn Buhari’s prosecution of Nigeria’s Chief Justice as “despotic”

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Special to USAfrica (Houston) • USAfricaonline.com • @Chido247

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter N. Onnoghen, is expected to be in an unusual position, a reversal of roles whereby, on Monday January 14, 2019, he will face trial for, allegedly, failing to declare his assets, timely.

Onnoghen who has asserted his innocence has been accused of maintaining domiciliary accounts with foreign currencies in various banks, locally and outside Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Bayelsa Gov. Seriake Dickson announced that the governors from the south-south region of the country (where Onnoghen hails) summoned an emergency meeting today regarding the reported plans by the retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to remove Onnoghen as the CJN. Dickson warned that the action against the CJN was a dangerous escalation especially happening 6 weeks to the general elections.

On his part, legal scholar and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome characterized the charges against Onnoghen as politically motivated. Excerpts from his comments:
“The CJN can be removed from office either if he has been convicted or if under section 291 of the constitution, the Senate affirms a request by the President to remove him by two-third majority vote. Our system of justice being Anglo-Saxon based, which is accusatorial, meaning that the innocence of a person is presumed. It is different from the criminal justice system of the French model which is inquisitorial, wherein the guilt of an accused person is presumed. This doctrine has been encapsulated in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, that the person’s innocence is presumed until he has been proven guilty.”

“Assuming for example that Senator Bukola Saraki had been forced to resign his office when charges were brought against him before the same Code of Conduct Tribunal almost three years ago, what would have happened and what would have been his fate when the Supreme Court eventually discharged and acquitted him of the charge, following judgments and earlier order of the Court of Appeal and the Code of Conduct Tribunal itself?”

“If you ask me, I sense serious political undertones oozing from this so-called imminent arraignment of the noble CJN. Question, when did they discover the alleged offence for which they now want to charge him on Monday?”

“Was it just yesterday, was it last week, two weeks or six months ago? The CJN has been in office now for well over one year, how come that this misconduct or whatever offence that he is being alleged, was not seen up to now?

“How come, that it is just less than 40 days to the 2019 Presidential election, when the CJN is going to play the major role in constituting the Presidential election petition tribunal, that he is being moved against?
Who is afraid of the Judiciary?

“Who is afraid of Justice Onnoghen and his impartiality and straightforwardness?

“How come we are reducing governance in Nigeria to one of impunity, one of despotism and one of absolutism.

“Don’t this people know that the world is laughing at us?
Did we not see how Dino Melaye was yanked out from police hospital and taken to DSS quarters when he had no business or case with the DSS and DSS had no case against him.

“Did they not see Dino Melaye, a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sleeping in the open yesterday?
Do they go on social media and do they watch international televisions?

“Do they know how the whole world is deriding us in this country?
That governance has been reduced to mere witch-hunt, very opaque, very unaccountable, very un-transparent and very very fascist!
Can’t they see that?”

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Atiku’s America trip boosts U.S assessment as realistic alternative to Buhari

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By CHIDO NWANGWU, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • ChidoNwangwu.com

The first time I met Atiku Abubakar was the first Thursday of May, 1999 when he attended the world’s largest oil and. gas conference, OTC, as Nigeria’s Vice President-elect, and I co-managed with Chris Mammah his participation on behalf of NAPIMS/NNPC.

Since 2001, somehow, millions of Nigerians believe(d) and spread the allegation that Atiku Abubakar had a “guilty charge awaiting him to be arrested” for criminal culpability, should he “set his feet” on the continental shelf of the United States….

Since 2015, for the opponents of Atiku, particularly outspoken members of retired general Muhammadu Buhari’s  ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), those are “Incriminating evidences” as well as the most visible disqualifiers, open for everyone to see as proof of his “corruption records.…”

But on Wednesday evening of January 16, 2019, in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, the country’s former Vice President (1999 to 2007 during the presidency of retired general Olusegun Obasanjo) packed his bag with his visa. He was ready for the awaited trip to the United States of America, accompanied by some of his advisers. The jet was airborne around 1:30 Thursday morning. He arrived later in the day at the Washington Dulles international airport.

What are the key points and implications from his trip?

First, Atiku, one of the most formidable businessmen in the critical sector of logistics, effectively used the opportunity and platforms to announce to the world that he is the Nigerian free market forces candidate and the champion of privatization! And, it’s jobs, jobs, jobs! Exactly what the American leadership needed to hear. 

Second, with a mix of other factors and aggregation of interests, I think the man left the U.S, operationally enhancing his international bona fides, mid-January 2019, as a realistic alternative to Buhari.

Third, there was no mention of his controversial business tango with some Americans including Louisiana congressman Jefferson (who is in jail.). Plus, no reference to the complications from his multi-nodal transfer of substantial sums of funds into the U.S.

 Fourth, the man’s upfront and non-pretentious interest in State power specifically to become president of Nigeria is likely to draw the admiration of some American political activists and Nigerian-Americans. On the other hand, there are many who still charge him of an extraordinary ambition for apex political power  which led him to move from the PDP to the APC and then back to the PDP. It fueled the flames of antagonism and corrosive questions against him.

On this issue, with deserving regards to history and facts, the cheerleader of the choir which sang all manner of stuff against “Atiku’s character” was his former boss,  Obasanjo.

To borrow the Warri context of the word, it was Atiku who “come provoke” the unforgiving soldier who could have been a great head of state, Obasanjo!

Unfortunately, Obasanjo’s quest for an unprecedented 3rd term distracted him from the higher purposes of good governance; especially his positioning himself as the Nigerian Mandela. I addressed this comparison in my summer 2019 book titled MLK, Mandela and Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity [ISBN 978-0-9893970-0-1]

Fifth, by wrapping up the two-day trip to the United States without any problems, I believe that Atiku has gained an excellent opportunity to refresh his narrative regarding the twin issues of integrity and corruption.

Sixth, by coming to exchange ideas with some of the most influential business executives and public policy leaders here in the United States, the moderate Muslim,  who was born on November 25, 1946, has also enhanced his stature among leaders from the emerging markets.

Seventh, Atiku has began the unavoidable task of clearing the wet blanket of doubt covering the important, strategic and thoughtful manifesto he presented with Peter Obi  over his third attempt to be elected President. •00——————————————•

Dr. Chido Nwangwu, analyst on CNN & SKY news,  moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (Governance, Security, and Peace in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown University in Rhode Island and former adviser on Africa business to the Mayor of Houston, is the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1993, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.comChido is completing the 2019 book titled MLK, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Power, Leadership and Identity.  E-mail: Chido@USAfricaonline.com

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#BrkNEWS: 12 killed as al-Shabaab TERRORISTS bomb, gun rampage Nairobi hotel

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A deadly terrorist attack unfolded a few hours ago in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi — with at least 12 persons killed and about 20 injured in the attack when al-Shabaab terrorists launched a bomb and gun rampage on the DusitD2 upscale hotel complex.

The coordinated assault began with an explosion that targeted three vehicles outside a bank, and a suicide bombing in the hotel lobby that severely wounded a number of guests, said Kenya’s national police chief, Joseph Boinnet.

Survivors reported hearing a shattering blast and saw people mowed down by gunmen as they sat in a cafe. Victims were left lying on tables, bleeding.

The devastating attack was carried out by the same terrorist organization that killed 67 people at a nearby shopping centre in 2013. USAfricaonline.com with AP/wire/report

In this still taken from security camera footage an armed attacker walks in the compound of the hotel. Picture: AP

In this still taken from security camera footage an armed attacker walks in the compound of the hotel.

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BrkNEWS: Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has won the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election

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Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has won the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) presidential election, according to provisional results announced by the country’s electoral commission.

“Having gained. .. 38.57 percent of the vote, Felix Tshisekedi is provisionally declared the elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Corneille Nangaa, the head of the Independent National Election Commission (CENI), said late on Wednesday.

The announcement came hours after riot police deployed at the commission’s headquarters in the capital, Kinshasa, amid fears of violence due to a disputed result.

Election observers reported a number of irregularities during the long-delayed December 30 vote and the opposition alleged it was marred by fraud.

The result could lead to the country’s first democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Losing candidates, who include businessperson Martin Fayulu and ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, can contest the results before the country’s constitutional court, which has 10 days to hear and rule on any challenges.

President Joseph Kabila is due to leave office this month after 18 years in power – and two years after the official end of his mandate. He backed Shadary, his former interior minister, in the election.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from outside the commission’s headquarters, said Tshisekedi’s supporters were taking to the streets to celebrate the result.

“The news came as a surprise,” she said. “A lot of people who didn’t have much faith in the electoral commission really thought that Shadary, who is backed by Kabila, would win.”

Tshisekedi, 55, is the son of the late Etienne Tshisekedi, the face of the DRC’s opposition for decades.

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AFRICA

Military coup in Gabon collapses overnight….

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Military coup in Gabon collapses overnight....

Special to USAfrica [Houston\]

Gabon’s presidency said in a statement that soldiers burst into a state radio station at dawn on Monday and called for an uprising against President Ali Bongo, who was recovering in Morocco from a stroke.

Security forces stormed the building, arrested the coup leader and killed two of his soldiers, according to the presidency.

“The secretary-General has always stood against unconstitutional changes of power, especially by force, and in that light, he condemns the attempted coup that took place this morning in Gabon,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Guterres added that calm appears to have returned in Libreville and calls “on all actors to follow constitutional means”, added Dujarric.

The UN envoy for Central Africa, Francois Lounceny Fall, who is based in Libreville was closely monitoring the situation and is ready to offer assistance if needed, said the spokesman.

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USAfrica: Why Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom Gov. Udom Emmanuel deserves reelection in 2019

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By Ini Ubong

Special to USAfrica [Houston] & USAfricaonline.com

There’s every likelihood that Udom Emmanuel, the incumbent Governor of Akwa Ibom State, will continue with a second term in office. Top among the reasons this will happen is the fact that the peace which eluded the state between 2007-2015 has [restored]. It has become the norm, and so, the people that were affected most, the Church in Uyo are now conducting their business unhindered. This is why the church as a body, have cried that, “afflictions shall not arise a second time “.

I was in the state for 11 days and spoke and listened to faith leaders. They want the peace experienced to continue. Udom Emmanuel The Governor is unpopular amongst the civil servants? Yes. There’s a visible anger once you mention his name. He’s not owing them their salaries, but emoluments like several years of leave allowances, pensions etc. In my quest to understand what’s on the mind of the Governor, one of his senior aides agreed that the Governor had a meeting last week with Level 14 and above officers and explained to them the poor financial situation, offering them notarized promotions.

At several instances, I have pleaded poor income for the state, and I was unkindly told that the “Udom boys are living large, buying properties and the good life.”

Udom Emmanuel –as Governor of AKS– isn’t seen as a friendly and humble person and those around him complain he’s not flexible with counsel. Human flaws? Yes, but, there’s been a lot of development in the state, and decorum in managing the finances.

This sitting Governor will return because, the defection of PDP’s Godswill Akpabio to APC has unsettled the opposition’s plans; and successes achieved before his arrival has dissipated. An aspirant of APC swore that they’ll all vote Udom Emmanuel, to “teach APC a lesson.“

Everywhere APC had structures, the uncommon transformer’s entry undid all, leaving the party with bitter tastes in their mouths. Streetwise consensus is that, if Nsima Ekere, the APC gubernatorial candidate was staking his reputation, there would have been a real battle,  the braggadocio of Godswill Akpabio.

Most people of AKS are done with that era. Take for example the primaries of APC in the state. Lives were lost in the process, and even though the process was inconclusive, candidates forced on the people were announced. This again is a relic of our locust years. PDP in Akwa Ibom State seems to be strategic.

When I screamed why Chris Ekpenyong, one time Deputy Governor of the state, who recently was lampooned, cursed and abused by constituents of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district on a radio phone in programme, should be given a ticket to oppose Godswill Akpabio, a senior PDP person suggested that, the party might not be interested in winning that position. Again, the obvious confrontation from the camp of the NDDC CEO, regarding projects in AKS isn’t resonating with responsible adult in the state. The expectations are that, the Federal agency, should have partnered as the provision is, with the state government in determining strategic and important infrastructure to move the state forward, instead of the former behaving like another Governor of the state.

The people of Akwa Ibom State are desirous of the tranquillity that was in the state before the coming of Godswill Akpabio, and whoever is offering that peace, they have elected to petition their Maker for the best. So, the battle to return Udom Emmanuel is also a spiritual one; it is not for Udom Emmanuel himself, but, for the future of the Akwa Ibom people.

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#BrkNEWS Soldiers in Gabon stage coup; sack Pres Bongo

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LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – Military officers in Gabon staged an apparent coup early Monday morning, seizing the state radio station and declaring their dissatisfaction with President Ali Bongo, who is recovering from a stroke in Morocco. 

A New Year’s eve address by Bongo “reinforced doubts about the president’s ability to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office,” said Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, the leader of the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon. 

The radio message was broadcast at around 4:30 a.m. local time (0530 GMT). A source close to the government said there were gunshots around the national television station, but that the plotters appeared to be a small group of soldiers. 

A spokesman for the presidency told Reuters he would make a statement shortly. 

Bongo, 59, was hospitalized in October in Saudi Arabia after suffering a stroke. He has been in Morocco since November to continue treatment. 

In his speech on New Year’s, Bongo acknowledged health problems but said he was recovering. He slurred some of his words and did not move his right arm, but otherwise appeared in decent health. 

The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing country for nearly half a century. Bongo has been president since succeeding his father, Omar, who died in 2009. His re-election in 2016 was marred by claims of fraud and violent protest. [Reporting By Geraud Wilfried Obangome; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Raissa Kasolowsky]

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