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Head of Nigeria’s legislature, Saraki, scales judicial hurdle, may fancy 2019 presidential chances

His name is Bukola Saraki, and for over three years has been Senate President at Nigeria’s National Assembly, the law-making arm of government. For same number of years, he faced prosecution for alleged false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT)

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His name is Bukola Saraki, and for over three years has been Senate President at Nigeria’s National Assembly, the law-making arm of government. For same number of years, he faced prosecution for alleged false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

On Friday, however, Nigeria’s Supreme Court finally laid to rest the trial of a Bukola Saraki, after the apex court led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad unanimously upheld Saraki’s appeal, by dismissing the remnant three counts, and declaring the evidence led by the prosecution as hearsay.

The Danladi Umar-led CCT had, in June last year, terminated the trial upon an application by Saraki, by dismissing the entire 18 counts preferred against the Senate President.

The CCT’s decision was based on the grounds that the prosecution, with its four witnesses and 49 exhibits tendered, only led hearsay evidence which could not be the basis to link Saraki to the 18 counts preferred against him.

Read Also: Egypt not done with ex-President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja ruling on December 12, 2017, in an appeal filed by the Federal Government against the decision of the CCT, restored three out of the dismissed 18 counts and ordered Saraki to return to the CCT to defend the three charges.

In its lead judgment on Friday, Justice Centus Nweze upheld Saraki’s appeal and dismissed the Federal Government’s appeal.

Justice Nweze agreed with the CCT that the evidence led by the prosecution at the tribunal was entirely hearsay.

Justice Nweze quoted a part of the Court of Appeal’s judgment where it held that “the prosecution failed to call those who have direct knowledge of the facts sought to be proved, to testify”.

Saraki went philosophical soon after the news broke, saying among others, that he had been vindicated after many years of alleged witch-hunting by the Presidency.

“At the end of a tortuous journey of 1018 Days counting from September 22, 2015 when the case began at the Tribunal, I am happy that I have been vindicated. The Supreme Court has affirmed that there is no evidence of false declaration of assets. The court also observed that certain agents took over the responsibility of the Code of Conduct Bureau in this trial, and one can infer that this was done towards a pre-determined end.”

Saraki, Nigeria’s most senior lawmaker, may now fancy his chances at the polls slated for 2019. There are strong speculations that he may yet again throw his hat into the ring, but this time political watchers say his aim is to seize the number one position, a seat currently occupied by Muhammadu Buhari.

He may have scaled the asset declaration hurdle but his travails are not yet over. The Buhari administration still has him pinned to the wall and seeks to prosecute him over allegations that he had been fingered in a deadly robbery operation that led to the killing of over 30 citizens.

Saraki is strongly perceived as team lead of the forces that have since caused a breakaway from the country’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to form the Reformed APC or r-APC.

Politics

Ruling junta, politicians sign agreement for civil transition in Sudan. Will it work?

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An agreement for a civilian-led transition that will last for two years has been made between Sudanese political parties and the military.

The arrangement is toward elections and ends a sometimes violent standoff triggered by a coup in October 2021.

The power-sharing arrangement between the military and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition was delayed due to the absence of a Prime Minister after a coup in 2021.

The military under the new arrangement agreed it would only be represented on a security and defence council headed by a prime minister.

The military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said civilians should control politics and guide foreign policy. Signatories applauded when he repeated a slogan used by protesters to call for the army to exit politics: “Soldiers belong in the barracks, and parties go to elections.”

Recall that Sudanese politician, Wagdi Salih was released from prison on Sunday ahead of the discussion surrounding the coalition agreement.

Meanwhile, the transition plan does not seem to have sat well with some session of the public as security officers fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters about 1-1/2km from the presidential palace on Monday over the development.

One of the protesters, 36-year-old state employee Ahmed Fateh al-Rahman, said. “We want justice for our martyrs, trial for the military, and civilian rule.” “We will defeat this agreement because it is an extension of the coup.”

Will the arrangement lead to lasting progress in the political crises facing the East African country?

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Politics

Zambia’s Vice President, Mutale Nalumango, to visit Ivory Coast for summit on nutrition

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Zambia’s Vice President, Mutale Nalumango is set to visit and attend the African Union (AU) High-level meeting to address issues of nutrition on the continent.

Fourteen member countries are participating in a two-day meeting which includes governments, experts, and cooperating partners.

The Vice President Permanent Secretary for Administration, Lilian Kapusana confirmed the journey on Tuesday.

Among other issues, the Vice President will reaffirm the commitments by the ruling government’s commitment to ensuring food security in the country.

“Mrs. Nalumango will address the challenges and milestones made in food and nutrition together with our cooperating partners who gave implemented projects in addressing issues of malnutrition and stunted growth in the country,” Ms. Kapusana said.

Participating countries at the summit are expected to reaffirm commitments to improving food and nutrition through agreements that will be signed during the course of the deliberations.

The United Nations Children’s Fund reported that in 2021, six million children are affected by life-threatening severe acute malnutrition in West and Central Africa.

Hopefully, the summit on nutrition will end with concrete measures to address some of the issues like land and crop degradation, periodic droughts and weather-related shocks, poverty, limited access to basic food staples and essential services, and population growth, which all contribute to emergency levels of malnutrition in the region.

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