Preparatory to his returning home, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has been discharged from Wellington Hospital in London where he had been receiving physiotherapy treatment, Daily Sun can authoritatively report.

The ex-Biafran warlord took ill last December and was flown to a clinic in Central London where he was treated of stroke and later transferred to Wellington Hospital as his health condition improved.

Ojukwu’s amiable wife, Bianca, who revealed this in an exclusive chat with Daily Sun yesterday in Enugu, said “the Ikemba Nnewi has left hospital and can now interact with people who come to visit him.”
According to her, the Eze Igbo Gburugburu would not return home immediately as he is still recuperating and needs to recover fully.

She also said his return would be delayed as many groups in Nigeria, especially the Movement for the Actualisation for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) are gearing towards staging a colourful ceremony for his return. She told Daily Sun that her husband was in high spirit to return home as he is known not to be one who likes staying overseas.

Her words: “Eze Igbo is not the type that wishes to stay abroad when he was well. It is his sincere hope and wish that he is home, he hopes to return home to his people soon.” Bianca disclosed that Ojukwu was excited when recently the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha brought his victory news to him at his bedside in Wellington hospital. This made her to recall when late last year the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike brought Okorocha to meet Ojukwu in Enugu as the one to fly the flag of APGA in the last governorship election in Imo State.

She disclosed that the Eze Igbo had endorsed the candidature of Okorocha because he was presented to him by Uwazuruike and his antecedent as a philanthropist. She said that before their coming, Chief Martin Agbaso was still nursing the ambition of having another shot at the Imo governorship seat, but Ojukwu believed that Okorocha would do well as governor having as an individual set up projects that are people-oriented.
She, therefore, said it was no surprise to them that Governor Okorocha came to London to share his victory with the ailing war-lord.

Bianca also told Daily Sun that Ikemba is bitter over the attitude of the Abia State governor, Chief T.A. Orji who, she said, had come begging Ojukwu to join APGA when he left PPA. She said that Orji disappointed Ojukwu because after he had come to him, the Igbo leader was committed in the project of seeing him through the election using the APGA platform, but for the governor to defect again to the PDP.

“Eze Igbo is bitter over T.A. Orji disappointment because it was a project he was committed to; the way T.A came to beg and he leaving without a word of goodbye, that he was going back to the PDP made Ojukwu to feel too bad,” she said. She thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for all he did to ensure that Ikemba recovered from his illness, saying that the recognition the president has given to her ailing husband was unequalled.

She said that besides the president coming himself to see Ojukwu before he was flown abroad he had since been sending his envoys to come and see him in his hospital bed in London. Bianca assured Nigerians, particularly Ndigbo that Ojukwu would return soon, saying that it was their prayers that made it possible for him to survive.

“If not for those prayers I do not think even with the best medical treatment in the world he would have survived. I personally saw the work of God in what happened to my husband. Therefore, I cannot thank enough those who had prayed for him,” she said.

AT last, the two members needed for the Code of Conduct Tribunal to begin trial of cases sent to it by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) have been reportedly nominated, awaiting the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan.

A plethora of high-profile cases had been reportedly sent to the tribunal by the bureau, with the money-laundering and illegal operation of foreign accounts cases of former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, topping the list.

The chairman of the bureau, Sam Saba, had confirmed to the Nigerian Tribune that lack of quorum at the tribunal was responsible for the delay in arraigning Tinubu.

A former member, upgraded as acting chairman, Danladi Umar Yakubu, had solely been holding forte at the tribunal since the death of the former chairman, Adebayo Muritala Sanni, with the system completely inactive due to lack of quorum.

On the president’s table awaiting his approval were said to be two nominees from Benue and Cross River states, while Yakubu; the acting chairman was also said to have been granted full powers in another upward swing.

With his reported ele-vation as substantive chairman and two mem-bers already on the card, the tribunal, according to the Nigerian Tribune source, would be fully active next week.

The inauguration of the tribunal, according to a credible source, had also been tentatively fixed for next week.

There had been specu-lations that certain political understanding had stalled the appointment of the members by President Jonathan.

Nigerian Tribune can also reveal that commissioners of the Code of Conduct Bureau who had been on the field collating evidence on the level of compliance on asset declaration by the immediate past public office holders and the newly-elected, would be meeting with Saba either today or tomorrow, to brief him on their findings.

The commissioners were said to have been converging on Abuja since last week, with the last batch reportedly in, on Tuesday and the meeting to discuss their findings reportedly scheduled to start today.

Saba, during a chat with the Nigerian Tribune, had disclosed that some immediate past commi-ssioners in Nasarawa State had been found making untrue entries in their asset declaration form, with some said to be declaring N1,000 as account balance, even when it was discovered that they were lodging N1 million every month into the same bank account.

He lamented situations in recent past, when names of high-ranking public officials charged by the bureau, disappeared from the prosecution list at the tribunal, promising to plug all the holes as the bureau braced for the next round of prosecution of defaulting public officials.

By: BEN AGANDE & Okey Ndiribe

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said yesterday that the political situation in Anambra State posed a great challenge to the commission as the situation was confusing but promised that the commission would set up a committee to investigate all the issues surrounding the matter.

Speaking on the just concluded National Assembly elections and the controversy surrounding the declaration of results for Anambra Central senatorial district, Jega said the commission would set up a committee to invite all the dramatis personae in the matter with a view to getting to the root of the matter.

According to him, Delta State is the “hottest in cases of ballot snatching and violence while Bayelsa State also poses a challenge to the commission as there were remarkable incidents of violence and  compromise of the electoral process.”

He promised that INEC would collaborate with security agencies in order to ensure that more security coverage is provided in the state in subsequent election.

Issues in Anambra

Recounting the issues in Anambra, Jega said a Registration Officer absconded only to reappear after the Resident Electoral Commissioner had appointed his replacement who had declared the election inconclusive.

He noted that some influential people in Anambra State might be deliberately influencing staff of the commission, knowing that in certain circumstances after the result had been pronounced, it is only the courts and not INEC that would reverse the situation.

In Bayelsa State, Jega noted that election materials meant for a particular polling unit were moved to a serving senator’s house apparently with the connivance of INEC staff and despite warning by the commission that result from the unit should not be announced, the electoral officer went ahead to announce the results.

He said though the police and members of the special security unit, the Joint Task Force in Bayelsa State were notified about the situation, they could not effect the arrest of the serving senator who perpetrated the crime.

On the complaints received by the commission from politicians who had been defeated at the polls, Jega said he had deliberately avoided meeting with such politicians in order not to send a wrong signal about his impartiality.

Speaking on the forthcoming presidential elections, Jega said the commission had learnt from the mistakes of the last elections and would bring its experience to bear on the presidential elections.

By: Mudiaga Affe and Mike Odiegwu

THE Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, has expressed optimism that President Goodluck Jonathan will secure a landslide victory during the presidential election slated for Saturday.

Ndoma-Egba, who represents Cross River Central Senatorial District in the upper legislative chambers, also said elected federal lawmakers in the Seventh National Assembly would show greater commitment to national development because they worked hard to secure the peoples’ mandate.

In an interview with our correspondent in Calabar, the state capital, on Tuesday, Ndoma-Egba said there would be no need for a run-off.


Deputy leader of the Senate, S

The Peoples Democratic Party senator’s re-election bid will be tested at the National Assembly poll in the district, which has been rescheduled to April 26 by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“I think the President will win in the first ballot by a very clear margin. Those who are hoping for a run-off will be thoroughly disappointed,” he said.

He noted that despite the incursions made by opposition parties into PDP strongholds, the ruling party would still constitute a comfortable majority in the National Assembly.

Ndoma-Egba, however, noted that the leadership of the new assembly would need to form alliances with opposition parties so as to make progress.

Meanwhile, another federal lawmaker, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has predicted that Jonathan will secure 100 per cent of votes in Bayelsa State in the poll.

Lokpobiri, who is representing Bayelsa West, said Nigerians would cast their votes for the President irrespective of political affiliation.

Lokpobiri, who addressed journalists on Wednesday in Yenagoa, said Jonathan had demonstrated his willingness to develop the country by bringing sanity to all sectors of the economy.

He said, “Jonathan has a 100 per cent chance in Bayelsa State. Bayelsa people are looking forward to vote for him. Anybody voting against Jonathan will be seen as an outcast.”

By:  Niyi Odebode, Kemi Obasola and Fidelis Soriwei

The 2011 presidential ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan has torn two influential friends in former President Olusegun Obasanjo‘s administration apart.

The two men— Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Nasiru El-Rufai— were thought to be solidly behind President Jonathan‘s ambition.

Former EFCC Boss, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu

Former EFCC Boss, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu

Ribadu, a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and El-Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, recently returned from self-imposed exile in the United States.

One of our correspondents learnt on Monday that while Ribadu might have agreed to be the consensus candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, El-Rufai had thrown his weight behind President Goodluck Jonathan.

A source close to the former minister disclosed this to our correspondent on Monday in Abuja. Also, a stalwart of the ACN confirmed that Ribadu was favourably disposed to running as the party‘s presidential candidate.

The ACN stalwart, who asked not be named, added that the former EFCC chairman might join the party before the end of this month.

It was learnt that Ribadu might pick Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, to be his running mate.

But Oshiomhole, whose tenure in office runs till 2014, has not succumbed to pressure from the ACN leaders who believe that a Ribadu–Oshiomhole ticket would be formidable.

The governor’s choice as running mate, it was gathered, followed the alleged refusal of Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) to accept the same offer.

el-Rufai was said to have also argued that younger generation of Northern politicians, strategising to seize power from the older generation in the region, could experience a serious setback arising from Ribadu‘s likely misadventure.

El-Rufai , according to our source, said that young politicians from the North were in need of a phase of political transition during which ”necessary political structures would be put on the ground to make a well- coordinated attempt on the presidency.”

El-Rufai was quoted as having said that while he was not opposed to the ambition of Ribadu to rule the country, it was his conviction that he (Ribadu) needed more political experience before becoming ripe for the exalted number one office in the land.

Although the former EFCC chairman has not made any public declaration of his intention to run for the Presidency, there are, however, strong indications that he has been approached by some Northern politicians.

Ribadu returned to Nigeria and began consultations for his presidential bid shortly after charges against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau were dropped, apparently at the prompting of the Presidency.

But a source close to El-Rufai, who denied knowledge of any rift between the two however, noted that there were “discussions on ongoing issues.”

He said, “I am not aware of that. My knowledge of them is that of two brothers who have supported and stood by each other in the attempt to reform Nigeria.

”It will be a surprise, because they are rated among the best public servants to have come out of Nigeria.

”There are discussions on ongoing issues; nobody should be allowed to magnify them. Ribadu was in court recently to solidarise with El-Rufai when he appeared in court recently.”

But the ACN source said, ”The former EFCC boss is consulting with people of integrity in the country. He will make his stand known before the end of the month.”

Also, there were strong indications at the ACN convention on Monday that leaders of the party had been holding talks with Ribadu with a view to presenting him as its presidential candidate.

Though Ribadu was not at the convention of the Action Congress where the party‘s name was changed to ACN, our correspondents gathered that he would register as a member of the party on August 15.

Another credible source within the party, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said that Ribadu was in Lagos at the weekend for the wedding of one of the children of the Oba of Lagos, Babatunde Akiolu.

He said, ”Yes, it is true that Ribadu was in Lagos at the weekend and we still discussed this issue. It is no longer a secret that he will join the race. That is not in doubt at all. He will register as a member of the ACN in Adamawa State once registration begins; the party made wide consultations before settling for him.

”Everything is set for him to emerge as the presidential candidate of the party; and he has not said that he is not interested in the presidential race.

“We are getting positive signals from him. Initially, we were considering the 3G group, which includes people like El-Rufai, Aminu Masari, and a few others, but we eventually settled for Ribadu.

“Moreso, key members of the party, many of whom have a civil society background prefer him. The party comprises people who kept a link with Ribadu while he was on exile – people who have always been advocates of good governance and transparency.”

However, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, could not be reached for comments as his mobile phone was switched off.

The ACN Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, had, in his address at the party’s convention on Monday, said, “Our party has set up a high- level committee to go round the country and consult widely to ensure that we field the best of our people, our youths, for key posts in next year’s elections.

“We shall not limit this search to politicians or members of our party alone because the problems of our country are of such a magnitude that cannot be left to politicians alone.”

An online publication, Saharareporters, had reported on Monday that the former EFCC boss had been holding meetings and consultations with politicians in different parts of the country as part of the plans for his presidential ambition.

It stated that Ribadu had met with different groups in Kano, Kaduna, Lagos and Port Harcourt, adding that he had received ”great encouragement to run.”

The publication also reported that Ribadu‘s consultations with groups within Nigeria had now reached a critical point.

”He is likely to declare his presidential bid within the next two or three weeks,” Saharareporters quoted an unnamed source as saying.

It added that Ribadu had already set up two presidential campaign offices in Lagos and Abuja and recruited some energetic and skilled staff to run the offices.

According to the publication, Ribadu’s campaign staff include his former Chief of Staff at the EFCC, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, and Mr. Chido Onumah, who once headed Fix Nigeria, a civil society organ of the EFCC.

Also named as the other campaign staff were Ms. Najatu Mohammed, a female political activist, and Mr. Ike Okonta, an author and columnist.

Ribadu had recently made strong political speeches in Kaduna, Kano and Lagos and enjoined youths to wrest power from the old guards.


…Says all parties must present Northern candidates

After weeks of dilly-dallying, initially saying the debate on zoning was a Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) affair, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, yesterday made a U-turn and unanimously agreed that the existing zoning arrangement between the North and the South must be respected.

This was part of the decisions reached after a stormy session of the group’s joint meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) members and those of the Board of Trustees, BoT, in Kaduna, which saw the BoT Chairman, Lt. General Jeremiah Useni (retd), almost walking out on the meeting, but was prevailed upon to remain and preside over the gathering till the end, which he did.

To this end, the ACF has equally called on all the parties in the country to ensure they present presidential candidates from the North for the 2011 Presidential election, just as it happened in 1999, where only Southerners contested the general election as presidential candidates. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Chief Olu Falae, were the two presidential candidates during the 1999 presidential polls.

According to insiders at the meeting, the decision to insist that all political parties must endeavour to choose a northern presidential candidate was reached to ensure that Nigerians are given the choice to choose from the array of presidential candidates of Northern extraction that would be presented to them, so as to allay the fears that the zoning principle would deny them the opportunity of having the best to lead the country from the zone.

Daily Sun further learnt that although the meeting, ought to have been jointly chaired by the ACF chairman, General IBM Haruna and Useni, only Useni presided, as Haruna was said to have been “unavoidably absent.”
Incidentally, both Haruna and Useni, as individuals, have always held the view that the issue of zoning was purely a party affair, and as such, ACF should stay away from the matter.

Sources revealed to Daily Sun that the above position was equally canvassed at yesterday’s meeting, with Useni supporting, but majority of those present at the meeting insisted that ACF must not only discuss the matter, but must come up with a definite position.
The majority’s position, Daily Sun further learnt was in tandem with the position of the group’s Political Committee, headed by Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Gusau, who incidentally made a presentation to the Joint Committee meeting of the ACF yesterday.

In his presentation, a copy of which was exclusively obtained by Daily Sun, Gusau threw some posers to the gathering, chief among which were: “as we are very much aware that there are presidential candidates from the North that are likely to emerge from other political parties, i.e, the CPC, the ANPP, e.t.c, the poser here is, should President Jonathan emerge victorious during the PDP primaries, what could be the reaction of the ACF under the circumstance? Presently, there appears to be clear divisions within the 19 states in the North, what could ACF do to bring unity and understanding in the North regardless of religious and tribal differences which will enhance our victory, should the North adopt the zoning formula?

“If we look at this issue from another perspective, are we saying that if the zoning formula is adopted, whoever emerges President of the country from the North, irrespective of his political affiliation, will he serve for only four years? On the other hand, if President Jonathan becomes the President by 2011, has he the right to re-contest after 2015? Some people are of the view that for this zoning arrangement to remain without any violation by the so-called gentleman agreement and the provision of 2009 PDP’s constitution, the North should call for a constitutional amendment to insert the zoning principle in the constitution, will this solve our problem?
“In view of the foregoing challenges, posers and observations, the Joint Committee of the ACF is hereby invited to brainstorm and critically examine all the issues raised above, with a view to coming up with a clear position that the North could stand on.”

In spite of the Gusau’s presentation, Daily Sun further learnt, those against discussion on zoning, almost had their way, before the Youth Leader of the Northern Union (NU), Mohammed Alhaji Abu, was said to referred the gathering to the provisions of the ACF constitution, which gave it the powers to discuss and take decision on contentious issues like the zoning matter.

He was said to have directed the gathering to section 4 (2) and (4) respectively, of the ACF constitution, which states that the Forum shall among other things “set up machinery for regular dialogue to ensure that issues likely to cause breach of the peace are settled amicably and promptly,” and “to establish linkages and contacts with political and community leaders in order to harmonize approaches towards finding solutions to peculiar problems facing the northern states and the country as a whole.”
That, Daily Sun further learnt, did the magic, as the gathering was moved into taking a definite stand on the matter. One thing that did not, however, feature in the communiqué, but which Daily Sun authoritatively learnt, was agreed upon was the fact that whoever emerged from the North as President in 2011, would not run again in 2015.

In the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting and signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani, a copy of which was made available to Daily Sun, ACF resolved that “all political parties should endeavour to field northern candidates for the 2011 presidential elections.
“This is very important and necessary to ensure the principle of federal character, which has become part and parcel of our political culture.
“All political parties and public organizations should continue to uphold the practice of zoning in the interest of social justice, equity, fairness and stability of a united Nigeria.

“The meeting also commended the government for appointing credible persons, such as Professor Jega at the helm of affairs of INEC.
“These have gone in no small measure to rekindle the hope and confidence of Nigerians in INEC capacity to conduct free and fair election.
“The meeting urged government to provide INEC with all necessary support for the 2011 elections.”
Prominent among those who attended the meeting were former ACF Secretary, Colonel Hamid Ali (retd), reinstated Bauchi Deputy Governor, Alhaji Garba Gadi, Generals Magoro, Ali Akilu and Wushishi (retd), Alhaji Umar Abdul-Mutallab, former First Bank Plc Chairman, and Alhaji Saidu Bada among others.
Meanwhile, two youth groups from the North, Coalition of Northern Youth Organization and the Arewa Youth Development Foundation (AYDF), stormed the venue of the meeting to press home their support for the retention of zoning ahead of the 2011 presidential election.

In line with the Nigerian constitution Acting president Goodluck Jonathan took oath of office and became substantive  President of  the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In his inaugural speech he assured Nigerians of a better government.

The  President’s oath of office was administered by the Chief Justice, Aloysius Katsina-Alu. The opening prayers were said by a Muslim cleric and a Reverend Father.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan an Ijaw man. was born 20 November 1957  in Otueke in Ogbia Local Government Area of the then Eastern Region, later Rivers State, now Bayelsa State. He holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Zoology in which he attained Second Class Honours, Upper Division. He also holds an M.Sc. in Hydrobiology/Fisheries biology, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Zoology from the University of Port Harcourt.

He is married to Patience and has two children.

Jonathan, previously the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, succeeded Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was impeached by the Bayelsa State Assembly after being charged with money laundering in the United Kingdom.

He was the  Governor of Bayelsa State from 9 December 2005 to 28 May 2007, and was sworn in as Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 29 May 2007.

Jonathan is a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). On 13 January 2010, a federal court handed him the power to carry out state affairs while President Umaru Yar’Adua received medical treatment in a Saudi Arabian hospital.

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