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PDP senators-elect may present candidate for Senate presidency

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Members of the Peoples Democratic Party in the Senate may have dumped their plan to adopt and support any “friendly” member of the All Progressives Congress that is interested in contesting the position of the senate president in the 9th National Assembly.

Investigations by one of our correspondents at the upper legislative chamber on Thursday revealed that the PDP senators, numbering 41 at the moment, were determined to present a candidate that would contest against the candidate of the 65-member APC caucus in the red chamber.

A senator from the South -East geopolitical zone, told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity on Thursday, that his colleagues were considering taking the advantage of the crack in the APC Senate caucus to present a candidate.

The ranking senator said, “It is glaring that Senator Ali Ndume will contest the Senate president seat on the day of inauguration because he is obviously dissatisfied with the position of the party.

“Rather than pacify him, the APC leadership seems not to care about the trauma and emotional pains they have subjected Ndume to by saying that the decision to pick Ahmad lawan was final.”

The senator hinted the leaders of the PDP might soon come up with a decision to adopt one of their ranking senators that would contest the Senate president position on June 9 that the 9th Senate would be inaugurated.

But another senator from the South-South geopolitical zone told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity on Thursday that the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu); Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia); and Senator James Manager (Delta) were being considered as the PDP candidate for the Senate president position.

He said, “We already have ranking senators who have shown capacity to lead the Senate. Senator Ekweremadu has been Deputy Senate President on three occasions while Abaribe and Manager have been in the Senate since 2003.”

Not all senators-elect are happy with Lawan’s choice by APC leaders – Kalu

However, indications that the PDP may spring up a surprise on the day of inauguration, however, manifested on Thursday when an APC senator-elect, Orji Uzor Kalu, said he might be forced to contest against Lawan.

He told one of our correspondents on the telephone that the decision of the APC to deny the South-East of producing the deputy senate president could force him to challenge Lawan.

He said, “It is not all the senators-elect that are happy with what they (APC leaders) did (by endorsing Lawan). As it stands now, Ndume and Goje are still insisting that they will contest and if I also contest, that means we have denied our party the right to produce the Senate President.”

When contacted, Senator Abaribe said the PDP members would vote as a group on the day of inauguration.

He said, “The PDP leadership had not met yet to decide our position. We are simply watching the APC as they continue to make a fool of themselves. We still have enough time to reach a consensus on what to do.

“However, what we have agreed to do in the PDP is that we are going to keep all our votes intact.”

Attempts to speak with Ekweremadu through his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, failed on Thursday as he did not pick calls put across to him neither did he respond to the text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

Similarly, Manager could not be reached as calls made to his phone indicated that it had been switched off.

We’ll produce next Senate president, APC caucus insists

However, the spokesperson for the APC caucus in the Senate, Sabi Abdullahi, has reiterated that the party will produce the Senate President, no matter scheming.

He said, “We are engaging our colleagues in the PDP and the majority of them are actually working for us to see that we have a harmonious, rancour-free, non-tumultuous Senate.

“They are right by doing so because they are mandated by their people to come and represent them and to take dividend of democracy home not to take victories of fight on the floor home.”

Aggrieved APC senators, Reps reach out to PDP lawmakers

However, there were indications on Thursday that aggrieved senators-elect and newly-elected members of the House of Representatives from the APC had reached out to their counterparts in the PDP in their quest to clinch the leadership positions in the ninth National Assembly.

Area News gathered that some national officers of the PDP had been contacted secretly by agents of those who had signified interest in the ninth National Assembly positions.

A national officer of the former ruling party, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents that he had been approached by agents of some of those campaigning to lead both chambers of the National Assembly.

He noted that if the PDP members cooperated they would be able to overwhelm the APC with a few aggrieved members of the ruling party.

Though he said the PDP might not negotiate for any particular position, including the deputy senate presidency, the party would “have a say in who will lead the two chambers, especially the Senate.”

The PDP national officer, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said the party and the nation would not want the 9th National Assembly to be a rubber stamp for the actions of the executive.

He said, “We are watching them from afar. Some of those planning to lead the National Assembly have started reaching out to us. We are being careful because we know some may want to know our minds.

“The day we sealed our support for Saraki was just a few hours to his election. This time round, we are watching. You know the APC has less than two-thirds in the Senate. Out of this number, about 15 of them have disagreed with their party. So, you can see that those who were running their mouths that we have no role to play are not politicians. They do not know what they are saying.

“Senators are not men and women you can bully. Some of them had been two-time governors, ministers and so forth. So, for someone to be talking to them as if he is addressing schoolboys and girls, that shows political naivity on the part of the person.”

It’s difficult running a parliament without opposition – Secondus

Speaking on the move to woo members of the PDP, the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, said it would be difficult to have a smooth legislature if the views of the opposition were discarded.

Secondus told one of our correspondents that anywhere in the world, the views of opposition were needed and important for the growth of democracy.

Though he would neither deny nor confirm that members of his party were being wooed by their counterparts in both Senate and the House of Representatives, Secondus said that the two parties needed to work together for the progress of the country.

He said, “Yes, the APC members in the Senate and the House of Representatives are free to talk to us and their counterparts on the need to work together for a smooth 9th National Assembly.

“Some have said it informally while lobbying in another level is ongoing. That is politics. All those who are going to be in the two chambers are Nigerians after all.

“It is wrong to assume that about more than one-third of the legislature will not be asked to support the emergence of its leadership. Yes, majority will win and have their way, but the views of the minority are also needed to be heard. That is the beauty of democracy.”

On those the party was considering for roles in the Assembly as officers, Secondus said, “That is for the party and the lawmakers to decide. It is not for outsiders to look into for now.”

Egwu, Abaribe, Manager eye Senate Minority position

Meanwhile, three members of the PDP in the Senate are eyeing the position of the Minority Leader.

Investigations by one of our correspondents showed that the three men had started reaching out to their colleagues.

They are a former governor of Ebonyi State, Sam Egwu; a former deputy governor of Abia State, Eyinaya Abaribe; and a fourth-time member of the Senate, James Manager.

Manager, who is from Delta State, was meant to occupy the position in the 8th Senate, but the leadership of the PDP appealed to him and other members of the party caucus to allow a first-time member, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to occupy the position.

The former governor of Akwa Ibom State later betrayed the party by his defection to the APC and subsequent resignation as the minority leader.

Akpabio, who currently represents Akwa Ibom North-West in the Senate, lost in his bid to return to the Senate during the last election.

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Pastor accused of breaking member’s marriage

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Mr Tertsea Daagu, a member of the NKST Church, has accused a Pastor of the Church, Terlanga Unongu, of “causing confusion” in his relationship with his wife, Wandoo Daagu.

Daagu stated this during his defense in a divorce case brought against him by his wife, before a Makurdi Upper Area Court.

“I have never beaten my wife or accused her of adultery; it is my wife that admitted before our NKST Church Committee that she has committed adultery with one Rev Terlanga Unongu, a Pastor of the Church.

“I have not accused my wife of having an affair, but she has confessed to having an affair with Rev Terlanga Unongu.

“In 2007, she confessed to having an intimate affair with the Pastor when the Church committee took up the matter. I have the evidence with me written in Tiv language.

“Though the committee could not give an appropriate resolution, we appealed to the General Synod where a resolution was passed.”

He denied ever beating the woman, and claimed that she left his house with the approval of her father.

Daagu said that he was not opposed to divorce, adding that he was also not opposed to his wife having full access to their three kids.

It was gathered that Mrs. Wandoo Daagu had petitioned the court to dissolve the marriage, citing alleged brutality and “unnecessary” accusations of infidelity.

Wandoo, who said that she married her husband according to the Tiv Native Laws and Customs at Amua, Gaav in Konshisha Local Government Area in 2000, told the court that there was no longer love between them.

“We have three children; after nursing our last daughter, my husband started accusing me of being unfaithful.

“He kept attacking me and would be beat me up at the slightest provocation. I reported this cruelty to his parents, but instead of intervening, they took sides with him,” she said.

Wandoo said that she left Daagu’s house in 2008, when the cruelty became unbearable.

“Since I left his house, my husband has never visited me or my parents to discuss our issue. He has no respect for my parents,” she said.

She urged the court to dissolve the marriage and grant her full access to their three children.

The Judge, Ms Adole Akintomide, has adjourned the case to Dec. 14, for judgment.

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South Korea to donate $8m in aid for hungry North

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South Korea approved $8 million in humanitarian aid for the impoverished North on Wednesday, authorities said, with negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal deadlocked and inter-Korean relations at a standstill.

It will be the first such aid Seoul has provided Pyongyang since 2015 and follows the North’s lowest recorded harvest for a decade, according to the United Nations.

The donation — to be made through the UN — comes as President Moon Jae-in seeks to salvage diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington following the breakdown of the Hanoi summit when Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump failed to reach a deal on the North’s nuclear programme and sanctions relief.

Pyongyang has since largely cut off contact with both Seoul and Washington, with the South’s unification minister saying this week he had last spoken to a North Korean official at the beginning of May.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, said the government had approved a plan to provide the funds amid concerns over the “worsening food situation”.

It will be given $4.5 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to help address malnutrition, along with $3.5 million to UNICEF for health issues among children and pregnant women.

More than 10 million North Koreans — 40 percent of the population — were suffering from severe food shortages, according to recent UN estimates. The figure is similar to recent years.

“WFP and other international bodies have requested assistance to the North on the back of concerns for deteriorating conditions among the vulnerable there,” the ministry said in a statement.

It is the first humanitarian aid implemented by Moon’s government, but a North Korean propaganda outlet has already dismissed it as “non-essential” for inter-Korean relations.

If the South “sincerely wishes for sustained development, peace and prosperity”, it should implement the inter-Korean economic joint projects agreed last year instead of “raising the issue of humanitarian aid”, the state-run Uriminzokkiri website said in a commentary last month.

Several sets of sanctions, imposed on the North over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, currently block many proposed developments.

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Tragedy as gunmen behead businessman in Rivers

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Gunmen on Wednesday night killed and beheaded a middle-aged businessman simply identified as Chima.

It was gathered that the victim was shot and killed before he was beheaded by his assailants in the presence of his wife at Rumuekini community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.

An eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that the incident happened around 11:00 p.m., adding that the killers put off the victim’s power generating set as a ploy to lure him out of his house.

It was gathered that the victim came out to check why his generator suddenly went off but was accosted by the gunmen, who shot, killed and beheaded him.

The source said, “The incident is shocking. Last night, Chima sat outside with his brothers and friends at a joint on the school road.

“Later around 11:00 p.m., we heard that he was attacked in his house. We heard that the killers turned off his generator and when he went outside to find out what happened to the generator, he was attacked.

“Immediately he came out, the boys shot him. He managed to run back into his house with the bullet, but the boys followed him, killed him and cut off his head.”

Another source explained that the hoodlums had ordered the wife of the deceased to bring a kitchen knife after they had killed her husband.

It was learnt that the gunmen used the kitchen knife to behead their victim and also ordered his wife to carry the head of her husband in a bucket into a waiting car before they zoomed off.

The killing and beheading of late Chima on Wednesday occurred despite the state governor’s stern warning to sanction Local Government chairmen and traditional rulers who condone criminality in their domain.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in Rivers State Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident.

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