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Supreme Court annuls ex-Gov Kalu’s 12-year jail term

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The Supreme Court, on Friday, quashed the judgement that convicted and sentenced the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu, to 12 years imprisonment.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.

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It held that trial Justice Mohammed Liman was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he sat and delivered the judgement that convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1billion from Abia state treasury.

According to the Supreme Court, Justice Liman, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal before then, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge.

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It held that the Fiat that was issued to him by the Court of Appeal President pursuant to section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was unconstitutional. Consequently, the apex court vacated the judgement that convicted the defendants and ordered fresh trial of the defendants.

 

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Edo APC Primaries: Obaseki visits Aso Villa, seeks Buhari’s blessing

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met behind closed door with Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

reports the meeting which was at the instance of the governor came ahead of the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC), scheduled for June 2020.

Speaking to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Obaseki said he was in the Presidential Villa to formally intimate the president of his intention to seek re-election as governor of Edo on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

The governor, who is believed to be at loggerhead with the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiohmole, over his second term ambition, presented his Expression of Interest form to the president for the blessing.

“I came to see Mr. President to formally inform him of my desire and intention to seek re-election as governor of Edo State on the platform of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.

“As a father of the country, as our president, I should not just assume or take things for granted – I have to come to inform him and solicit his support in my gubernatorial bid, and the president was quiet warm and quiet welcoming.

“When I showed him my Expression of Interest form, he looked through it and teased me that he would not have to go through this again and wished me good luck and assured me of his support,’’ he said.

On the political tussle in Edo, the governor stated that the crisis was being instigated from outside the state.

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Obaseki also described the political misunderstanding between him and Oshiohmole as very unfortunate, saying however that he was ready to reach a truce with all aggrieved members of the APC.

“It is unfortunate that he (Oshiohmole) is taking the position he has taken. I believe that he was not properly guided.

“I am his Governor and it is my responsibility to seek peace for my State and with all my citizens.

“I will continue to strive for peace, I will continue to pursue peace, seek the interest of our people and I am open, that we should talk about how to move things forward.

“The relationship is still frosty but I am doing all I can to try and make it warm just for the sake of Edo people. I am committed to whatever it will take to have peace and not to lose lives in Edo, within the law, whatever I can do that is constitutional, I will do,’’ he stated.

According to the governor, he has the full support of his counterparts, all the governors elected on the platform of the APC, in line with the principles of the party, which encourages continuity.

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On the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor revealed that about 300,000 out of the targeted 500,000 indigenes of the state had so far been screened for Coronavirus disease.

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EAL editing..Senate raises concern over high cost of crude oil production in Nigeria

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The Senate on Monday expressed concern over the high cost of crude oil production by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

It said despite the high cost of producing crude oil, Nigeria was not getting much in return on its investment in crude oil production.

Solomon Adeola, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, made the observation at an interactive session on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Papers (FSP) with officers of Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Other agencies of government in attendance at the meeting included revenue-generating agencies such as NNPC, Nigeria Customs Service, and Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) among others.

Adeola said: “I want you to take us through why Nigeria’s cost of production per barrel of crude oil is the most expensive in the world.

“Give us the breakdown of what constitutes those costs into variables and the technical cost.

“We want to know what you are doing as an agency of government to bring down this cost,” he said.

He said the committee was interested in ascertaining other costs of crude production in terms of administrative cost.

“Who determines this cost, with a benchmark of 25 dollars as proposed, Nigeria is just going to have just three dollars as its own return on investment.

“The oil revenue and the mineral revenue as proposed in the MTEF have dropped from almost N8.86 trillion to N3.33 trillion, are you saying that it is a worthwhile investment for us as a nation.

“How do you ensure that Nigeria is being charged the right cost on each barrel of oil.

“In Saudi Arabia, it is four dollars per barrel cost of production, in Russia it is about three dollars per barrel, Nigeria is 21 dollars.

“We are beginning to be afraid as to why we are channeling all our efforts to this oil and gas if the return on investment is nothing to write home about,” he said.

Sen. James Manager (PDP Delta) said the reason adduced by NNPC for the cost of production was not tenable.

“Because wherever oil is produced, they have their own security challenge even Saudi Arabia, Iran Russia, they have their own unique security issues.

“How is our own so peculiar that our cost of production is up to 21dollars per barrel.

“You also mentioned administrative issues, which are those administrative issues, why are we different from the rest of the world.

“These are issues that the national assembly is supposed to take up,” he said.

Sen. Jibril Isah (APC Kogi) said:” I am disturbed because, I expected the NNPC to dwell more on fixed costs but surprisingly, you are talking about administrative cost, security, these are variables.

“Even the fixed cost, in the long run, are also variables which you can also work on,” he said.

The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari said the NNPC was working hard to bring down the fixed cost of crude oil production.

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Kyari, represented by the Chief Operating Officer of NNPC, Upstream, Mr. Yemi Adetunji said further:

“We know that these costs are high that is why we have decided to go from even the initial approved 25 dollars to 21 dollars per barrel.

“We believe that once we have the new framework in place going forward, we shall even see a lower cost of production from T1 and T2.

“There are things we are targeting; security challenges are peculiar to Nigeria.

“In other climes, pipelines are on the surface you hardly see them being tampered with, but in Nigeria even when they are buried two meters to three meters deep they are still being vandalized.

” In some cases, we are trying to take them to deeper levels but those ones will add to the cost of production like going 10 meters to 15 meters deep.

“This adds to the cost about three or four times the cost of production as against putting the pipelines on the surface,” he said.

He said NNPC was working with security agencies to ensure that security hitches responsible for high costs were brought down to the minimum.

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APC governors meet to save Obaseki

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Ahead of the expected meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over the upcoming Edo, Ondo gubernatorial, governors under the All Progressive Congress (APC ) have arrived the national secretariat of the party.

The meeting which is expected among other things to discuss the frosty relationship between the Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki and the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

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It would be recalled that governors of the party had on Sunday met with the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu over the same matter.

It was reported that another meeting will hold with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Villa later today.

Among the governors on ground are Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Muhammad Inuwa of Gombe state.

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According to a party source, the meeting is in continuation of the one held in Lagos State Sunday night on the Edo State Governorship primaries.

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