The United States Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a bid by President Donald Trump’s administration to avoid disclosing to a Democratic-led congressional panel grand jury materials related to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report documenting Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The justices are due to hear the case in their next term, which starts in October, meaning the dispute is unlikely to be resolved before the Nov. 3 election, in which the Republican president is seeking a second four-year term in office.
In the meantime, the materials will not be handed over to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, which issued a subpoena for them last year.
The court, which has a 5-4 conservative majority, including two justices appointed by Trump, took up the administration’s appeal of a March ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that material must be given to lawmakers.
Mueller submitted his report to United States Attorney General William Barr in March 2019 after a 22-month investigation that detailed Russian hacking and propaganda efforts to boost Trump’s candidacy as well as multiple contacts between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.
Barr, a Trump appointee who Democrats have accused of trying to protect the president politically, released Mueller’s 448-page report in April 2019 with some parts redacted.
Democrats have expressed concern that Barr used the redaction process to keep potentially damaging information about Trump secret.
The redactions were made, according to Barr, in part to protect the customary secrecy of grand jury materials.
The Judiciary Committee, last year, subpoenaed the redacted grand jury material as part of a bid by Democrats to build a case for removing Trump from office through impeachment.
The House impeached Trump in December on two charges unrelated to Russian election meddling.
The Republican-led Senate acquitted him and left him in office in February.
The D.C. Circuit agreed with a judge’s decision that the House, in its impeachment investigation, was engaged in a judicial proceeding exempt from secrecy rules that typically shield grand jury material from disclosure.
On May 20, the Supreme Court put the appeals court ruling on hold while it considered whether to hear the case.
The Supreme Court is due to rule in the coming days on another showdown between Trump and congressional Democrats, this time over whether House committees can obtain, through subpoena, Trump’s financial records from his long-time accounting firm, Mazars LLP.
The justices are also weighing a related case on whether a New York grand jury can subpoena similar documents from Mazars and two banks.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Alleged $3m bribe: Appeal Court dismisses Farouk Lawan’s no-case -submission
The Cpurt of Appeal on Tuesday in Abuja court dismissed the application filed by former lawmaker, Farouk Lawan seeking to terminate the three million dollars bribery charges filed by the Federal Government.
Lawan had approached the appellate court to set aside the decision of Justice Angela Otaluka of an Abuja High Court and free him from the charges.
Delivering judgment in the appeal filed against the ruling of Otaluka which held that Lawan had a case to answer ,Justice Olabisi Ige who headed the panel held that the decision of the lower court was well founded.
The appellate court in a unanimous decision held that a prima facie case was well established against Lawan that warranted him to enter his defense in the three counts charges brought against him since 2013.
Justice Ige held that contrary to the argument of Lawan, the prosecution evidence at the lower court was not in anyway discredited, hence the rejection of his no-case submission.
The appellate court also held that the language of the trial judge, Justice Otaluka which Lawan complained about, did not place the defendant in any disadvantage position or was in anyway inimical to his trial.
The judge, who quoted the records of proceedings of the FCTHigh Court, especially the testimonies of the five witnesses called by the federal government.
The panel upheld the findings of Justice Otaluka that there were sufficient evidence linking Lawan to the offences.
“I am of the firm view and I have no doubt that the oral and documentary evidence presented by the prosecution sufficiently linked the appellant to the charges against him and to warrant his being called upon to make his defense.
“Prosecution evidence was not slanted in favour of the prosecution. In all, all the four issues raised in this appeal are hereby resolved against the appellant. His appeal, being un-meritorios is hereby dismissed”, he held .
Justice Otaluka had sometimes last year dismissed the no-case-submission filed by Lawan who was then Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Oil and Gas in his alleged 3 million dollars bribery trial.
The prosecution closed its case after calling five witnesses, Lawan, through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome SAN, had filed a no-case submission on the grounds that the evidence and testimonies did not link Lawan to the crime.
Ozekhome said the prosecution’s witnesses gave conflicting statements about the amount Lawan was alleged to have collected from the fifth prosecution witness, Mr Femi Otedola, who offered the alleged bribe to Lawan.
Ozekhome in addition argued that the video evidence showing how Lawan collected bribe from Otedola was blurry and does not necessarily prove that the content of the envelope Otedola gave to Lawan was money but could have been anything else.
He further submitted that if the Department of State Services (DSS) had any evidence they would have arrested Lawan immediately at the scene of the bribery which they claimed they set up.
Responding, prosecution lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the no-case submission and ordered the defendant to enter his defense.
He added that, because the prosecution had established sufficient evidence through video and oral testimonies which linked Lawan to the alleged offences.
NAN reports that Justice Otaluka agreed with the submission of Awomolo and ordered Lawan to open his defense.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
Pa Fasanmi buried as Fayemi, Akeredolu,Tinubu pay tributes
Eminent Nigerians on Tuesday paid tributes to the late Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Fasanmi, as his remains were interred in his country home in Iye Ekiti, Ilejemeje Local Government Area of Ekiti.
Fasanmi, a Second Republic Senator, died on July 29 at the age of 94.
Fayemi said Fasanmi’s contributions to the development of democracy was immeasurable, particularly his role in the formation and operation of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that fought the military.
The governor disclosed that his government was already constructing a secondary school to honour the deceased for his contributions to the state before his death.
” My only regret is that he has left us before the school will be officially inaugurated for academic activities when schools finally reopen,” Fayemi said.
Fayemi, in his tribute entitled, “‘Tribute to a Man of Integrity,” said what attracted him to the deceased was his integrity.
“His death has, therefore, robbed me of a godfather, counsellor, an advocate and a father. A good man has left us.
” We will sorely miss him but we are consoled that he was dedicated to selfless service,” he said.
Fayemi added that Fasanmi belonged in the class of the youths of the 1950s when the nationalist movement was at its feverish peak.
He noted that the deceased got indoctrinated into nationalism struggle through the writings of Dr Nnamdi Azikwe and his contemporaries.
“He proved his political mettle in 1964 when he was elected as a member of the Federal House of Representatives before 1966 and he got imprisoned in Agodi Prison and was later released.
“He offered to serve as governor of the old Ondo state in 1978 and slugged it out with Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin who defeated him in the primary.
“One legacy for which Baba would be fondly remembered was his credential of incorruptibility. He was a man of tall integrity and honesty.
“It would be recalled that he was the first to start the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Committee in 1973 under Col. Oluwole Rotimi of the Western Region.
“Chief Ayo Fasanmi has come, he has seen and conquered. He conquered human cravings, vanity of power, ostentation, greed and malice,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Southwest Governors, Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, said the news of the passage of the icon was a loss to the Yoruba and Nigeria at large.
“Baba living long for 94 years was not what we are celebrating, but we are celebrating how many lives he had impacted on. He lived an impactful life.
“He was not petty but he spoke truth, lived a remarkable life and was one politician who became senator and came home to rest,” he said.
The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by his Special Adviser on Civic Engagements, Aderemi Adebowale, said Fasanmi’s influence became more pronounced by his incorruptible nature.
The All Progressives Congress National leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, represented by former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Abiodun Ogunleye, said Nigerians must learn from the late politician who lived a modest and spartan lifestyle.
Tinubu described Fasanmi as a revolutionary and a politician of outstanding mien, civility and character who was worthy of being emulated .
In his sermon, the Bishop of Ekiti Oke, Anglican Communion, Peter Olubowale, said Fasanmi was not a noise maker and trouble maker during his time.
The cleric urged the people to continually do good to humanity the way Fasanmi did to his family, political associates , friends and companions.
“We need to be available to ourselves and committed to God. Nigerians are number one people in the world that are easy to govern with patience, zeal and endurance.
“Baba has told us that all these monies you are spending and the one you are keeping inside bullion vans and the ones being stashed in banks accounts are all vanity.
” Use the position you are occupying very well to develop humanity. This is the only way you can gain eternity because materialism will lead you to hell fire,” he said.
Edited By: Josephine Obute/Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)
Digital economy: Nigeria must shift focus from certificate to skills – Pantami
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has advocated for shifting of focus from certificate to skills education for the actualisation of Nigeria’s digital economic drive.
Pantami made the call at the Graduation Lecture of the National Defence Collage Course 28, titled; “Digital Economy and National Development in Nigeria”, on Tuesday in Abuja.
The minister added that emphasis on certificate must be reduced in engaging labour force, urging that focus should be shifted to skills if the nation must catch up with development.
He said that many developed and developing countries such as China, United States and Morocco had shifted attention to skills rather than certificate, adding that many of them had established skills centres.
According to him, certificate is important but secondary to skill and that is why we must pay attention to skills in our journey to digital economy.
“The digital literacy and skills pillar recognises the fact that citizens are the greatest assets in any economy, including the digital economy. It will support the development of a large pool of digitally literate and digitally skilled citizens.
“We recently provided a platform, the DigitalNigeria.gov.ng platform, to enable Nigerians receive training in diverse digital skills. Over 36,000 Nigerians have enrolled on the platform since the 2nd of April, 2020.
“We are championing a paradigm change that lays emphasis on skills, in preference to merely having degrees without skills.
“The National Defence College is an institution that supports the development of skills and there are many digital techniques that can support the great work that you are doing here,’’ he said.
Pantami stated that the digital economy was a prime catalyst for development, adding that in less than one year, government’s modest efforts had already yielded remarkable results.
According to him, the recent first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that ICT contributed an unprecedented 14.07 per cent to Nigeria’s total real GDP.
He explained that emerging technologies came with different solutions to security challenges of every nation such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotic technology, drone and many more.
“These are some of the emerging technologies that will go a long way in promoting security of nations. The security officials are in better position to look into and see how to customize them and make use of them.”
Also, the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, said the Federal Government had taken steps to adopt, adapt and internalise the digital economy in a functional manner.
Magashi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari, said it was important that security and defence establishments show more than a cursory interest in the digital economy.
He added that the adaptation of digital economy could result in increased cybercrimes thus undermining national security.
“I wish to commend the Commandant, staff and the entire College community for their collective efforts in pursuing the ideals of the College.
“In particular, I commend you for organising the graduation lecture, which was exciting, educative and would be helpful to the economic and security needs of the Nigerian nation,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Commandant of the collage, Rear Adm. Markson Kadiri, said the lecture had become a key component of the training programme of the College and a major highlight of its annual graduation ceremonies.
Kadiri said that a total of 107 participants had successfully completed the course comprising 67 officers of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, seven Senior Police Officers and 15 participants from key Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Others according to him, include 18 senior military officers from the Armed Forces of friendly nations.
“The Course was conducted under the theme “Economic Diversification and National Development in Nigeria”. Economic diversification is a broad based strategy designed to cause positive and multi-sectoral economic growth and development,’’ he said.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
Edo 2020: APC youths vow to send Obaseki parking
The youth wing of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Edo chapter, has vowed to send Gov. Godwin Obaseki parking from the Dennis Osadebey House, come Sept. 19.
The youth stated this during the inauguration of the youth wing of the APC Governorship Candidate Campaign Council in Esan West and Owan West local government areas, on Tuesday.
Mr Dennis Idahosa, the Director-General, Youth and Students’ Mobilisation for the State Campaign Council, who inaugurated the youth wing, said that the party aimed to record 99 percent victory in the governorship election.
Idahosa, who is the member representing Ovia Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, urged the coordinators of the youth wing to take the manifesto of Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the APC candidate, christened: “SIMPLE Agenda” to all nooks and crannies of their council areas.
While appealing to them to eschew violence as they would be going about the campaign, Idahosa, however, said that they must all be resolute in their quest to ensure victory for the party.
According to him, “Although we seek victory, we must go about it in a peaceful manner. We must try to avoid any act of violence; but we must be resolute in our bid to regain the state from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“We have all it takes to come out victorious, especially when you consider the record of achievements of the party while Mr Adams Oshiomhole was the governor.
“In addition to this, we have a sellable candidate in the person of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Let’s us all go out and propagate his “SIMPLE agenda” message to the people,” he said.
Also, Mr Johnson Iyamu, Secretary of the Youths and Students’ Mobilisation, urged the coordinators to, in turn, go and inaugurate 100-member executives in their respective local governments.
He said that 50-member executives should also be inaugurated at the ward level, adding that they should take the Ize-Iyamu agenda to every nook and cranny of their areas.
Present at the inauguration was the APC Senatorial Youth Leader for Edo North, Mr Dirisu Otinomo and Chairman, Media Sub-committee for Youths and Students’ Mobilisation, Mr Collins Osagae.
Edited by ‘Wale Sadeeq