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SERAP to sue Akpabio over ‘holiday allowances’ to senators despite economic crisis

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has announced that it will file a lawsuit against the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, over the alleged disbursement of ‘holiday allowances’ to senators, who are currently on recess, by the Clerk of the National Assembly.

This is coming barely 4 weeks after the advocacy group threatened to sue Akpabio and the Speaker House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, over the scandalous plan to spend N40 billion on 465 exotic and bulletproof cars for members and principal officers as well as N70 billion as palliatives to new members.

This disclosure is contained in a tweet posted by SERAP on its official Twitter account on Thursday, August 10, 2023, in what appears to be the consistency of the advocacy group’s fight against misuse of public funds and breach of fundamental human rights.

SERAP in its tweet post said, ‘’BREAKING: We’re suing the Senate President Godswill Akpabio over the alleged payments of “holiday allowances” by the Clerk of the National Assembly into the “various accounts” of senators while some 137 million poor Nigerians face severe economic hardship.’’


Although the details of the proposed lawsuit and the specific charges still appear largely unclear, the move once again puts more pressure on the federal lawmakers over the humongous salary and allowances they are alleged to be collecting even in the face of severe hardship and harsh economic challenges that Nigerians are facing.

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, has come under heavy criticism after mistakenly revealing that holiday allowance had been sent to the bank accounts of senators who are billed to go on their annual recess.

Akpabio had, on Monday before the Senate adjourned for annual recess, told his colleagues that money had been sent to them to “enjoy” their holiday, apparently not aware that the proceeding was being captured on live camera.

The Senate President said: “In order to enable all of us to enjoy our holidays, a token has been sent to our various accounts by the Clerk of the National Assembly.”


Upon realising that he was speaking on live television, he quickly retracted, and said, “I withdraw that statement. In order to allow you to enjoy your holiday, the senate president has sent prayers to your mailboxes to assist you to go on a safe journey and return.”
Akpabio’s gaffe stirred controversy across the nation, raising questions about the legitimacy and timing of such money transfers. Critics argue that when a significant portion of the nation’s population is facing economic hardship, such allowances seem both unjust and inconsiderate.

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Court orders Benin Republic to pay Sunday Igboho 20m CFA over rights violation

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court of justice has ordered the government of the Republic of Benin to pay Sunday Adeyemo, popularly called Igboho, 20 million CFA for “unlawful detention”.

The court ordered that the money should be paid within three months.

Igboho had on February 10, filed an application before the court challenging his arrest and detention in the French-speaking country.

Judgment in the suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/15/22 was delivered by a three-member panel of the court.

The ECOWAS court also directed the country to comply with its order and report back to the court with the evidence of payment.

BACKGROUND

In July 2021, Igboho was arrested alongside his wife, Ropo, in Cotonou, Benin Republic, and detained at the request of the Nigerian government.

The Yoruba Nation agitator had fled Nigeria after the Department of State Services (DSS) raided his residence in Ibadan, Oyo state on July 1.

Igboho had planned a ‘Yoruba nation rally’ in Lagos two days before the raid.

The raid led to the death of two people while 12 of his aides were arrested.

The DSS had alleged that Igboho was stockpiling weapons, and subsequently declared him wanted.

Attempts by the Nigerian government to repatriate him, after his arrest, were unsuccessful.

His wife was later released by the Beninese authorities.

Igboho was arraigned at the Court D’Apeal in Cotonou and was detained in a prison facility in the country.

The charges against him bordered on arms smuggling, inciting violence and calling for a secession of the Yoruba from the Nigerian state.

Igboho and his lawyers denied all allegations levelled against him.

However, fresh allegations bordering on illegal entry and criminal association, were levelled against him at the Benin Republic court.

In March 2022, he was released to his doctors under the agreement that he should not leave the medical centre or Cotonou for any reason.

In October, Yomi Aliu, Igboho’s lawyer, confirmed that his client had been released.

“Yes, he has been released. He was released yesterday. He is now in Germany,” Aliu said.

Asked to speak on the state of his release, he said “I can’t speak about it”.

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Supreme Court fines Ozekhome N40m for filing suit seeking Uzodinma’s sack

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The supreme court has imposed N40 million fine against Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), for filing a suit seeking the sack of Hope Uzodinma, governor of Imo state.

The apex court on Tuesday dismissed the application filed by Ozekhome on behalf of Emeka Ihedioha, a former governor of Imo.

The court ruled that the application was “frivolous and highly vexatious”.

The application was raised from the outcome of the governorship election in Imo state.

Ihedioha, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polled 273,404 votes to win the 2019 governorship election.

However, on January 14, 2020, the apex court voided Ihedioha’s election and declared Uzodinma, who came fourth in the election, as the state’s duly elected governor.

Consequently, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), whose candidate came third in the election, filed an application contending that Uzodinma’s candidacy should have been nullified since the All Progressives Congress (APC) had given tickets to the governor and Uche Nwosu before he left the party to join Action Alliance (AA).

Nwosu, a governorship aspirant on the platform of APC, is the son-in-law of Rochas Okorocha, who was at the time the governor of Imo.

But Nwosu let the APC when his name did not appear on the list as the governorship candidate despite allegedly winning the primaries.

Ihedioha then applied to be joined as an interested party in the suit.

Ihedioha had premised his application on the ground that the APC did not validly nominate Uzodinma to contest the 2019 election since tickets were given to two different candidates.

The PDP and Ihedioha’s application further sought to invalidate the years that Uzodinma spent in office as the governor of Imo.

On Tuesday, the supreme court ruled that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the application filed by Ihedioha.

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Army claims responsibility for air strike which killed over 30 Kaduna villagers

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The Kaduna state government says the Nigerian Army has accepted responsibility for the death of some residents of Tudun Birni community in Igabi LGA of the state.

According to the state government, the army said the air strike that killed the villagers was a mistake.

On Sunday, many residents were feared dead after an air strike was launched on the community. Some reports have put the death toll from the strike at over 30, with scores left injured.

However, Edward Gabkwet, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spokesperson, said reports that NAF launched the air strike on hapless civilians was false.

Speaking on the development, Samuel Aruwan, overseeing commissioner, ministry of internal security and home affairs, in a statement on Monday after an emergency security meeting, said the incident inadvertently occurred during a routine mission against terrorists by the army.

Aruwan added that injured victims are currently receiving treatment at the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital.

He said the meeting was presided over by Hadiza Balarabe, deputy governor of the state, and had heads of security agencies, religious and traditional leaders in attendance.

“The Kaduna State Government has received briefings on Sunday night’s attack which left several citizens dead and others injured,” Aruwan said.

“The Nigerian Army explained the circumstances which led to the unfortunate and unintended attack.

“The General Officer Commanding (GOC) One Division, Nigerian Army, Major VU Okoro explained that the Nigerian Army was on a routine mission against terrorists, but inadvertently affected members of the community.

“The Deputy Governor at the end of the closed door meeting, conveyed the condolences of the Government and People of Kaduna State to the families that lost their loved ones, and prayed for the repose of the victims’ souls.

“As of the time of this update, search-and-rescue efforts are still ongoing, as dozens of injured victims have been evacuated to Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital by the Government.

“Heads of security agencies who attended the meeting include the Commissioner of Police, MY Garba, and Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), Abdul Eneche.

“The Chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of Jam’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) Professor Shafi’u Abdullahi, led other religious leaders.

“Also present at meeting was the District Head of Rigasa, Alhaji Aminu Idris, in whose domain the incident occurred.”

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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