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Court dismisses PDP’s suit against APC candidates for Lagos Assembly, gubernatorial candidate, Sanwo-Olu

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The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos per Honorable Justice P.O. Lifu on the 8th of February, 2023 dismissed a suit filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against the All-Progressives Congress candidates (APC) for the Lagos State House of Assembly and Gubernatorial candidate, Governor Olusola Sanwo-Olu in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/ 1979/ 2022. Other party sued; the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The suit, which was filed on the 17th of October, 2022, prayed the Court for reliefs with the main reliefs as follows:

  1. A DECLARATION that upon proper construction and interpretation of the combined provisions of sections 29 and 30(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, it is mandatory for a political party such as the 2nd Defendant to submit the Nomination Forms of candidates it proposes to sponsor for elections to the 1st Defendant not later than 180 days to the conduct of such elections.
  2. A DECLARATION that the 2nd- 43rd Defendants stand disqualified for failing to submit the Nomination Forms of the 3rd-43rd Defendants to the 1st Defendant not later than 180 days to the elections into the office of the Governor of Lagos State and member of the state House of Assembly of Lagos State scheduled to hold on March 11th, 2023.
  3. A DECLARATION that upon a proper interpretation of Sections 106(d), 177(c) and 221 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended), section 29, 30(1) and 84(13) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and other enabling laws in that behalf, the 1st defendant is NOT permitted by law to all the 2nd Defendant to sponsor the 3rd-43rd Defendants for the Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections into the  office of the Governor of Lagos State and member, State House of Assembly of Lagos State; having contravened the revered and mandatory provisions of Section 29 and 30(1) of the Electoral Act.
  4. AN ORDER SETTING ASIDE OR NULLYFYING forthwith the purported sponsorship and/or nomination of the 3rd-43rd Defendants by the 2nd Defendant to the 1st Defendant in respect of the forthcoming Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections in Lagos State.
  5. AN ORDER OF INJUNCTION restraining the 2nd – 43rd Defendants either by herself, agents, privies, surrogates or any other person(s) whosoever from according recognition to the 2nd-43rd Defendants or in any manner whatsoever featuring or parading the 2nd – 43rd Defendants as a political party and candidate respectively in the forthcoming Governship and State House of Assembly Elections in Lagos State.
  6. AN ORDER OF INJUNCTION restraining the 2nd – 43rd Defendants either by themselves, agents, privies, surrogates or any other person(s) whosoever from parading themselves as a political party and candidates respectively to contest the forthcoming Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections in Lagos State.

In defense of the suit, the Law office of Babatunde Ogala (SAN) & Co, on behalf of All Progressives Congress candidates of the House of Assembly, Lagos State filed its’ Memorandum of Conditional Appearance, a Notice of Preliminary Objection and a Counter-Affidavit with Written Address. The Preliminary objection was premised on the following grounds:

  1. That the Plaintiffs lacked the Locus standi to institute and maintain the suit against the 4th – 43rd Defendants not being Aspirants in the Primaries election of the 2nd Defendant.
  2. The action was barred by statute of Limitation.
  3. The suit did not disclose any cause of action as the Plaintiff failed to establish her interest in the suit.
  4. The Issue of nomination or sponsorship of a candidate is a sole prerogative and domestic affairs of a political party.
  5. And the suit constituted an abuse of Court Process.

The matter came up 30th January, 2023 for further directives, the Plaintiff Counsel requested for a further date so as to enable them file a response to the Preliminary Objection of the 4th – 43rd Defendants. Learned Silk, Babatunde Ogala SAN, Principal of the law firm Babatunde Ogala SAN & Co representing the APC candidates of the House of Assembly, Lagos State, informed the court that service of the preliminary objection, Counter Affidavit and Written Address on the Plaintiff Counsel was a problem as the Plaintiff’s Counsel address on the Originating Process is wrong, he had to resort to e-service via E-mail. He further submitted that the suit ought to be struck out as the Plaintiff is not diligent in the prosecution of the suit.

The Court addressed the issues of incompetency of the Plaintiff counsel and also agreed that the Plaintiff is not diligent in the prosecution of the suit. The suit was adjourned to 8th February, 2023 for hearing of the Preliminary Objections and the Originating process with the directive that the Plaintiff has 48 hours to respond to the Preliminary Objection and the Defendants subsequently have 48 hours to reply same.

On 8 February, 2023, when the matter came up for hearing, Babatunde Ogala, SAN informed the court that the Plaintiff failed to serve the Defendants their response to the Preliminary Objections.

He further informed the Court since the Plaintiff did not respond to their Preliminary Objection, the suit and Preliminary Objection are ripe for hearing and he’s ready to move the Preliminary Objection, after which the Plaintiff Counsel can move their Originating Process.

The Plaintiff Counsel in response informed the Court that they had prepared and served the Defendants their response however, they sought to withdraw the suit due to an intervening circumstance which necessitated for them to withdraw the suit.

Babatunde Ogala, SAN objected to the withdrawal of the suit, he prayed the court to dismiss the suit outrightly. He sought the guidance of the Honourable Court to find out if the Plaintiff actually filed their responses as the Defendants have not been served with any process and in the likely event it turned out the Plaintiff counsel didn’t file their response, he urged the Court to sanction the Plaintiff Counsel. He submitted that issues have been joined as the 4th-43rd Defendants have already filed a Counter Affidavit and Written Address in opposition to the Originating Summons of the Plaintiff and a Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the competency of the suit and going by Order 50 Rule 2 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019, the Plaintiff counsel ought to have filed their Notice of Withdrawal within 14 days. He urged the Honourable Court to dismiss the suit.

The trial judge in delivering his judgment agreed with the submissions of the Learned Silk, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants counsel since issues have been joined.

The Suit was dismissed.

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Join us or we meet in 2027 — Tinubu tells Labour

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..Commisions Lagos Red Line Rail project

…insists Nigeria will be out of economic problems,

…Red Line Rail to transport 750,000 passengers daily

By Moses Adeniyi

President Bola Tinubu on Thursday replied the Organised Labour over their protests against troubling economic situation in the Country, calling for support for his government ‘to make Nigeria work.’

President Tinubu who noted that the Organised Labour has embarked on strike four times in about nine months of his government, gave them an option to either join fellowship to work hand in hand with his administration, or should they choose “to be political,” they should meet his government at the polls in 2027.

“The Labour has gone on strike four times within my nine months in government. That’s a record. However, they should join us to make Nigeria work as we are currently doing, otherwise if they want to be political, they should meet us in 2027,”  President Tinubu said on Thursday when he inaugurated the first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Red Line project.

Calling on Nigerians to embrace change and work towards national progress,   he reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to eradicating corruption and called on labour unions to refrain from disruptive actions.

‘’Some labour unions should understand that no matter how we cling to our freedom and rights, to call for strikes within the first nine months of a new administration is unacceptable.

‘’If you want to directly participate in the electoral process, wait until 2027, if not, maintain the peace. Labour is not the only voice of Nigeria,’’ the President affirmed.

The Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Red Line project is a 37km project expected to reduce travel time and improve transportation and logistics in the state.

The President on Thursday also witnessed the signing of the contract for Phase 2 of the LRMT Red Line project by the Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Engr. Abimbola Akinajo, and the Chairman of CCECC Nigeria Limited, Jason Zhang.

The President, before departing for a state visit to Qatar on Thursday, embarked on an inaugural train ride from the Ikeja station to the Agege station, accompanied by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Deputy Governor of the State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; some state governors; members of the Federal and State Executive Councils; members of the Federal and State Legislative Assemblies; Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun, and a select group of journalists.

Addressing a gathering of Nigerians at the train station in Ikeja, President Tinubu directed the Minister of Transportation, Senator Sa’idu Alkali, to ensure that the federal and subnational governments strengthen their collaboration to provide reliable, efficient, and affordable transportation systems for all Nigerians across the country.

‘’Today, I am seriously honoured that I am a Lagosian and the first to be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

‘’My promise is not to let you down. We will arrive at the destination with joy, happiness, and prosperity; God willing,” he said.  

Reflecting on his tenure as the former governor of Lagos State, when the vision of a modern and effective public transportation system in the state was conceived, President Tinubu described the project as a dream realised and a fulfillment of years of hard work and dedication by successive governments.

‘’I am very happy indeed that today is a day to remember in Nigeria’s infrastructural history, particularly Lagos, the centre of excellence. Today is evidence that it is good to dream, and it is a serious validation of democracy as a form of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

‘’When you put people at the centre of your vision and planning, you will realise the value of democracy.

‘’Twenty-five years ago, I was elected to lead Nigeria’s most populous state. From the very beginning, my team and I toiled day and night with a very bare cupboard and amidst pervasive deficiency to implement a developmental vision that would transform Lagos into an economic powerhouse. Today, we are realising that dream.

‘’The momentum of greatness we kickstarted a quarter of a century ago has become unstoppable progress. It is not a crime to dream and dream big. Just stay focused and make development a central focus,” he said.

President Tinubu commended the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the urban transport agency which was established under his watch as Lagos State Governor over 20 years ago, for its exemplary performance and implored LAMATA to sustain the momentum in completing all other phases of the Red Line project, as well as the full execution of the broader rail blueprint of the state.

“Thank God LAMATA as a public sector institution and Lagos State as sub national government has moved strong and constant that true change is possible,” he said.

Further commenting on efforts he said, “Let me commend here the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the giant strides. He was part of the vision. Some 20 years ago, I sent them around as their governor and leader to look at the system, to  other parts of the countries and they worked hard. .

“I am delighted that as we inaugurate the first phase of the Red Line. We cannot afford to rest on our oars, more work still need to be done at national and subnational level, no room for complacency. I look forward to the completion of the other phases.

“I perceived massive economic opportunities coming out of this. I am assuring that Nigeria will be out of economic problems, we just need to persevere, work hard and be assured.”

On the issue of corruption, the President said, “we will be on it, we are not looking back.”

“I speak to Nigerians through this podium that change is possible and change is possible and change we must achieve, progress we must achieve.

“We cannot afford to relax the burgeoning population, we must plan and prepare for it, we must be committed to a great value. This economy, we blow it, we will build ourselves out of the penury and will be happy that we did it

“Taking a close look at work in aviation, what is our problem, if it is corruption, we must exterminate it.

“No matter how hard it is fighting back, no to corruption, we must adhere to our pledge, patriotism, perseverance, consistency and stay open.”

On the need to blend national efforts with those of subnational governments, he said: “The national transportation minister is here. It is very critical for your Ministry to collaborate further with sub-national government, to help build a Nigeria for the greatest number.

“Nigeria must be able to enjoy access to multiple alternative modes of transportation all of which are safe, efficient and affordable.”

Remarking, Governor Sanwo-Olu explained that the first phase of the project, executed by the State Government, spans 37 kilometers and shares the track of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Lagos-Ibadan modernisation project from Ebute Metta to Agbado with stations at Oyingbo, Yaba, Mushin, Oshodi, Ikeja, Agege, and Iju.

According to Sanwo-Olu, phase one of the project will transport 750,000 passengers daily at inception and 1.1 million passengers daily once it is fully operational.

‘’All the stations are live and ready to receive passengers,’’  Sanwo-Olu said.

Sanwo-Olu described the ceremony as a “culmination of long, painstaking journey” of reforms in the transportation sector of the State, stressing that the commissioning of the rail system, once again, breathed life into Tinubu’s vision of integrated transport connectivity.

The Governor said the Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP) of Lagos outlined six integrated rail lines, one monorail, 14 BRT corridors, over 20 water routes, and a vast network of major and inner roads.

Two of the rail lines had been completed, he said, acknowledging the contributions of his predecessors — Fashola and Ambode — towards the accomplishment of the State’s rail projects.

He said, “Today, we mark a historic milestone in the annals of Lagos and indeed, our nation, with the commissioning of the Red Line, a 37-km marvel of modern engineering that stretches from Agbado in Ogun State to the iconic National Theatre in Iganmu. The segment we are inaugurating today spans an impressive 27-km from Agbado to Oyingbo, featuring state-of-the-art stations at Agbado, Iju, Agege, Ikeja, Oshodi, Mushin, Yaba, and Oyingbo.

“For the first time in the history of Lagos, we have a system comprising and integrating all three modes of transportation: road, rail and waterways. We started construction of the rail infrastructure mid-2021, and I am happy that our administration has been able to complete for operations. At full capacity this first phase of the Red Line will transport 250,000 passengers daily, which will grow to 750,000 passengers daily when we have the full complement of rolling stock on the line.”

While speaking to reporters aboard the train during the inaugural ride, President Tinubu assured Nigerians that their lives will only become more enjoyable as modern amenities are built across the entire nation under his progressive leadership.

“This is very efficient and comfortable, and I am happy. Our transportation system must be all about the people. We have cut down imports on PMS by almost 50 percent. We need mass transit to complement the daily efforts of citizens and make things easier for our people. And this is what this is all about. It is about the people. It is about democracy. We are happy about it,” President Tinubu stated.

The first phase of the 37-kilometre rail line, constructed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), was commissioned with seven stations built along its corridor, traversing Agbado — a boundary town in Ogun State — to Oyingbo in Lagos Central.

The Red Line was inaugurated exactly 12 months after the State’s first light rail — Blue Line — was inaugurated by former President Muhammadu Buhari. The 13-kilometres project, started by ex-Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, traverses five stations between Mile 2 and Marina.

Six Governors, led by the chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Governor of Kwara State, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, were among the first set of passengers who joined the President alongside Gov. Sanwo-Olu in a ride on the train, following the commissioning at the Ikeja mega station in the State Capital.

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Illegal arms: FG recovers 80,000 ammunitions

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The Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria through the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW)  has retrieved 80,000 arms and ammunitions.

The North West Zonal Coordinator of the centre, Retired Air Vice Marshall Haruna Mohammed disclosed this during a stakeholders meeting at Bukavu Barracks on Thursday in Kano.

According to him, the centre recovered 20,000 small arms and 60,000 units of ammunition in Nigeria.

Mohammed explained that the centre was determined to eliminate small arms and light weapons in the region and the country as a whole.

He said that the centre was tasked with formulating and implementing strategies to eradicate arms proliferation.

He further emphasised that the recovered weapons often had trade markings, enabling the identification of their source countries and manufacturers.

According to him, NCCSALW used kinetic and non kinetic measures to recover the weapons and ammunition.

Mohammed added that synergy between security agencies and different stakeholders had eased the task of the centre.

“The centre’s engagement underscores the commitment of NCCSALW in achieving a weapon-free environment and ensuring the safety and development of the Nigerian society,” he said.

He warned against illicit circulation of arms, urging Nigerians to support the efforts of the government in curbing insecurity created by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

Earlier, the Assistant Director of Strategic Communications at the centre, Brig-Gen. Mohammed Sani, said the institution was established on May 3, 2021 in line with Article 24 of ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

Sani said that all hands must be on deck in support of the efforts of the government at curbing the security challenges in the country.

Some of the participants who spoke at the event called on the government at all levels to fight drug abuse and create jobs for youths to prevent them from dealing in illegal arms.

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Seplat Energy’s gross profit rises to N349.3bn in 2023

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…Receives approval for operation of OML 40

Seplat Energy Plc has recorded a growth in gross profit in its twelve months ended 31 December 2023 results.

The energy company reported a gross profit rise of 14.5 percent from N197.2bn to N349.3bn, and achieved more than 8.7 million hours without Lost Time Injury (LTI) on Seplat-operated assets in 2023.

It also recorded a growth of 12 percent in revenue from N403.9bn to N696.9bn.

In a press statement, the company revealed that the Board recommended a special dividend of US 3 cents per share, in addition to Q4 2023 declared dividend of US 3 cents per share. Core dividend declared for 2023 is US 12 cents per share, up 20 percent on 2022. Therefore, the total dividend declared is US 15 cents per share.

Seplat Energy’s 2024 production guidance is put at 44-52 kboepd. Guidance assumes availability of TNP from 3Q 2024, and assumes ANOH contribution in line with guidance.

Initial 2024 capex guidance is $170-200 million. Drilling capex flat on 2022 (13 wells in base plan). Seplat will fund capex on Abiala, a marginal field development tied into OML40.

The company also announced that it has obtained regulatory approval for the full lifecycle Field development plan (FDP) for the Sibiri oil discovery on OML40.

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Officer, Seplat Energy Plc, Roger Brown said, “Seplat Energy’s 2023 results illustrate the Company’s ability to deliver production growth, fortify our balance sheet and reward shareholders despite facing some unexpected challenges during the year.

“Operational performance was strong, production increased 8 percent over 2022 and we recorded the lowest level of reconciliation losses seen in recent years, a testament to the improving security efforts on the Niger Delta. Drilling yielded positive results, and I’m pleased to report strong 2P reserves growth, up 9 percent on prior year estimates. Our revenue exceeded $1bn, and while costs increased, our proactive approach meant we generated more than $260m of free cash flow in the year, allowing us to continue rewarding our shareholders and further reduce net debt.

“Our strong financial position, excellent operational performance and robust outlook means that we are delighted to declare a special dividend again this year, lifting the total dividend for the year to US$15 cents.

“In 2024, we look forward to a number of key growth events. We are moving forward on both the Sibiri and Abiala developments on OML40. Clear progress is also being made on the important ANOH gas project, with first gas expected in 3Q 2024. Finally, we have high confidence that we will conclude the transformational acquisition of MPNU this year.

“I’m delighted to welcome Mr. Udoma as Seplat Energy’s new Chairman and Mr. Rabiu as SINED and wholeheartedly thank Mr. Omiyi and Mr. Okeahalam for their longstanding support and guidance. Nigeria’s Oil & Gas industry is going through a generational change and as we reach our tenth year as a listed company, we fully intend to play an important role as Nigeria’s leading independent company.”

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