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House Capitol attack committee votes to recommend Steve Bannon prosecution

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Capitol attack

House Capitol attack committee votes to recommend Steve Bannon prosecution

The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack voted on Tuesday to recommend the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, after he defied a subpoena relating to their inquiry into the 6 January insurrection.

The select committee approved the contempt of Congress citation unanimously, sending the report to the Democratic-controlled House, which is expected on Thursday to authorize the panel to go to court to punish Bannon for his non-compliance.

“It is essential that we get Mr Bannon’s factual and complete testimony in order to get a full accounting of the violence of January 6th and its causes,” said Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the select committee.

“Mr Bannon will comply with our investigation or he will face the consequences,” he said. “We cannot allow anyone to stand in the way of the select committee as we work to get to the facts. The stakes are too high.”

Members on the select committee took the aggressive step against Bannon to sound a warning to Trump White House officials and others connected to the Capitol attack that defying subpoenas would carry grave consequences, according to a source on the panel.

The select committee had issued a bevy of subpoenas to some of Trump’s closest advisers – White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, his deputy Dan Scavino, defense department aide Kash Patel, and Bannon – under the threat of criminal prosecution.

But under orders from the former president and his lawyers, Bannon ignored his subpoena compelling documents and testimony in its entirety. The other three Trump administration aides opened negotiations over the extent of their possible cooperation.

The ramifications for Bannon’s defiance are significant: once passed by the House, the justice department transfers the case to the office of the US attorney for the District of Columbia, which is required to take the matter before a federal grand jury.

In pushing to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress, the select committee has also set up a potentially perilous legal moment for Bannon as he resists the inquiry into what Trump knew in advance of efforts to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.

A successful contempt prosecution could result in up to a one-year sentence in federal prison, $100,000 in fines, or both – although the misdemeanor offense may not ultimately lead to his cooperation and pursuing the charge could still take years.

Bennie Thompson, committee chairman, speaks as Liz Cheney, right, and Zoe Lofgren listen ahead of the vote on criminal contempt cha
Bannon remains a key person of interest to House select committee investigators in large part because he was in constant contact with Trump and his team in the days before 6 January, as the former president strategized how to return himself to the Oval Office.

He also appeared to have advance knowledge of the Capitol attack, predicting on his War Room podcast, the day before the insurrection that left five dead and 140 injured: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

In opening statements ahead of the vote, Republican congresswoman and committee member Liz Cheney said: “Mr Bannon’s and Mr Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: they suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th. And we will get to the bottom of that.”

But the former chief strategist to Trump indicated to the select committee he would not cooperate with his 23 September subpoena on grounds that communications involving Trump are protected by executive privilege and cannot be revealed to Congress.

The legal argument faces a steep uphill battle with the Biden justice department appearing inclined to adopt a narrow interpretation on executive privilege, previously allowing top Trump justice department officials to testify to Congress about 6 January.

And as the justice department examines the expected referral from the House in finer detail, prosecutors may open Trump to legal jeopardy insofar as he may have obstructed justice by ordering Bannon and other aides to defy the subpoenas.

The select committee said in the contempt report that Bannon had no basis to refuse his subpoena because Trump never actually asserted executive privilege – but also because Bannon tried to use an executive privilege claim for non-executive branch materials.

Within the scope of the subpoena demanding documents and testimony, the report said, included contacts with members of Congress and Trump campaign officials in the days before 6 January, which are ostensibly unrelated to communications between Bannon and Trump.

The contempt report added that even if the select committee accepted his executive privilege claim, the law makes clear that even senior White House officials advising sitting presidents have the kind of immunity from congressional inquiries being claimed by Bannon.

The report further noted: “If any witness so close to the events leading up to the January 6 attack could decline to provide information to the select committee, Congress would be severely hamstrung in its ability to exercise its constitutional powers.”

The prospect of prosecution appears not to have worried Bannon, who spent the day before his deposition date a hundred miles away in Virginia, where he attended a Republican rally that featured a flag purportedly carried by a rioter at the Capitol attack.

Trump lashed out at the select committee after it announced it would vote to hold Bannon in contempt. “They should hold themselves in criminal contempt for cheating in the election,” he said, repeating lies about a stolen election refuted by the justice department.

Still, the select committee’s net appears to be closing in on the former president. Thompson, the chair of the select committee, said on CNN on Thursday that he would not rule out eventually issuing a subpoena for Trump himself.

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NNPC transforms to new company from July 1

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NNPC transforms to new company from July 1

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will from Friday, July 1 become a different entity in its operation.

The state-owned corporation, will no longer be simply referred to as NNPC but the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.).

The operation as a limited liability company is under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and would commence upon the signing of the assets transfer documents by the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance the same day.

The development is in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

Group Managing Director (GMD)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NNPC Ltd, Malam Mele Kyari, said in a recent engagement session with business leaders across the company’s value chain in Abuja that they were working to comply with the provisions of the PIA.

He said NNPC was doing everything possible to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) with regards to guidelines and timelines for action.

Kyari said that the new company would become operational with the transfer of verified assets from the Corporation to the NNPC Ltd. by the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance.

He explained that with the level of assets available combined with the new fiscal regime, NNPC Ltd. was set to become the number one energy company in Africa, noting that global brands interested in doing business with the new NNPC Ltd. needed to be sure of the company’s asset base.

On the objective of the session, Kyari stated that it was organised to engage business leaders on issues of change management strategies required to achieve the new business realities as a limited liability entity.

He added that the success or otherwise of the company depends heavily on how the change is managed.

In his presentation, the Chairman of the NNPC PIA Implementation Team and Group Executive Director, Downstream, Mr Yemi Adetunji, said that all was set for the presidential unveiling of the NNPC Ltd., scheduled for July 19.

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Senate Begins Screening Of New Ministerial Nominees

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Senate Begins Screening Of New Ministerial Nominees

Lawmakers in the Senate chamber of the National Assembly have commenced the screening of the ministerial nominees recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The screening of the nominees is ongoing at a plenary presided over by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.

With less than a year to the end of his administration, President Buhari recently asked the lawmakers to confirm seven nominees as ministers to join his cabinet.

The nominees were appointed from four south-east states, as well as one state each in the north-west, south-west, and south-south regions.

They include Henry Ikechukwu – Abia State, Umana Okon Umana – Akwa-Ibom State, Ekuma Joseph – Ebonyi State, Goodluck Nana Obia – Imo State, Umar Ibrahim Yakub – Kano State, Ademola Adewole Adegorioye – Ondo State, and Odo Udi – Rivers State.

The nominees were appointed from four south-east states, as well as one state each in the north-west, south-west, and south-south regions.

They include Henry Ikechukwu – Abia State, Umana Okon Umana – Akwa-Ibom State, Ekuma Joseph – Ebonyi State, Goodluck Nana Obia – Imo State, Umar Ibrahim Yakub – Kano State, Ademola Adewole Adegorioye – Ondo State, and Odo Udi – Rivers State.

4:42 pm: The Senate has screened the sixth and seventh nominees Ademola Adewole Adegoroye from Ondo State and Odum Odi from Rivers State.


3:45 pm: The fifth nominee is Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub from Kano State. He is also a former federal lawmaker and presently the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly Matters( House of Reps).

He was also asked to take a bow and go.


2:55 pm: The fourth nominee, Goodluck Opiah, was asked to take a bow and go, a privilege and Senate tradition for former lawmakers in the state or federal legislature.


2:42 pm: The third nominee Ekumankama Joseph is being screened.

While responding to a question on how to resolve the impasse between the FG and ASUU, he said there’s a need for both sides to reach a compromise.

He explained that ASUU has been sticking to its guns but there are several issues demanding government funds, so both sides need to compromise. He urged the Senate to make adequate budgetary provisions in the 2023 budget to address some of the issues raised by the striking lecturers.


2:05 pm: Okon Umana takes a bow to exit the floor of the chamber.


2:02 pm: “I want to say that even the Free Zones platform is a veritable platform for this. The Free Zone is a platform that can drive production because when you produce for export, you earn foreign exchange,” Umana said on how to boost the nation’s foreign exchange.

“So we have to look at whatever is inhibiting production and address that but I think that the key is production.”


1:48 pm: “As it is customary, I will like to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for this nomination. Before I continue, I also thank Senator Albert Bassy Akpan for this very brilliant testimony,” said Senator Omo-Agege.


1:45 pm: Before Umana responded, Senator Albert Bassey Akpan gave some testimony. He said he has known the nominee for about 22 years and that his appointment is apt.


1:37 pm: “What do you think we should do to add more foreign exchange, especially in the area that you have worked so that we reduce our level of borrowing because we borrow because we don’t have enough but I believe the potentials are there?” the Senate President asked the nominee.


1:31 pm: Okon Umana, reads his profile before the Distinguished members of the Senate.


1:23 pm: The next nominee being screened is Okon Umana from Akwa Ibom State. He says he is the Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zone.


1:16 pm: The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, however, reminded his colleagues that there is no requirement for a ministerial nominee to possess an NYSC discharge certificate.

Senator Lawan, on his part, said being a member of a political party has no bearing on a ministerial appointment and the President has the right to appoint anyone as minister regardless of political affiliation.


1:11 pm: The lawmakers asked the nominee questions on his capacity to drive industrial development in the country, given the short timeframe before a new administration comes on board in 2023.

They also interrogated his participation in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and his membership of a political party.


12:49 pm: Mr Ikoh addressed the Senate. He said he is an industrialist and a manufacturer. He added that he is the immediate past Commissioner for Industry in Abia State.

The nominee promised to hit the ground running in a bid to contribute his own quota to national development. He also vowed to serve the nation diligently if confirmed as a minister.


12:44 pm: The Senate President informed his colleagues that all seven nominees would be screened today.


12:43 pm: Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh from Abia State is the first nominee to take the stage for his screening.


12:40 pm: The nominees were ushered into the Senate chamber for their screening.

Details later…

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FG engages lawyers for Ekweremadu

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FG engages lawyers for Ekweremadu

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has disclosed that the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom has engaged the services of lawyers to defend the senator representing Enugu West Senatorial District, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice.

Lawan made this known on Wednesday while giving details about the outcome of a closed session held by the upper chamber before the start of plenary proceedings.

The closed-door session which started at about 10:57 a.m ended at 11:49 a.m.

The Harmattan News reports Ekweremadu, alongside his wife, was arrested by the UK Metropolitan Police last Tuesday for conspiracy to harvest the organs of a minor.

Ekweremadu and his wife allegedly facilitated David’s entry into the UK to transplant his kidney into their daughter, Sonia, who is suffering from kidney failure.

The couple was arraigned at the Uxbridge Magistrate Court in London on charges of conspiracy and organ harvest on Thursday.

But speaking on Wednesday, Lawan said a delegation from its Committee on Foreign Affairs would depart Nigeria for London on July 1, 2022, to pay a visit to the embattled couple presently in detention over an allegation of organ harvesting.

This was contained in a statement by the Special Assistant (Press) to Lawan, Dr. Ezrel Tabiowo, titled, ‘Senate delegation to visit Ekweremadu, wife in London’.

According to Lawan, the decision to wade into Ekweremadu’s arrest and detention was against the backdrop of a briefing received by the Nigerian High Commissioner to London.

He further disclosed that the Senate would engage the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian High Commission in London on the recent arrest of Senator Ike Ekweremadu by the London Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom.

He said, “I had a personal engagement with our Nigerian High Commissioner to Britain, Alhaji Isola Sarafa, who has done so well to establish contact with our colleague, who has been able to get his team to be in the court at Uxbridge where Ekweremadu was taken to.

“The high Commission has also been able to provide some consular services that include the engagement of some lawyers who will defend our colleague.

“We commend them for giving attention to the issue at stake. Equally, the Nigeria Foreign Affairs Minister has been engaged here, so that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes steps to provide diplomatic support for our colleague.

“Because this issue is already in court, we have limited opportunity to discuss beyond what we have done so far.

“But I want to ensure the family of our colleague, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Nigerians, that the Senate will continue to engage with our ministry of foreign affairs as well as our high commission in London.

“The High Commission has done so much but we still expect that it will continue to provide any other further consular services.

“We have also mandated our committee on foreign affairs to engage with the British high commission here in Nigeria, to find more details on this case, as as far as the high commission is involved.

“There will be a delegation to London to see Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife. A delegation from the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate will leave in the next two days to London for that purpose.

“I want to urge all federal government institutions that can do anything to ensure that justice prevails in this case, that they do so.”

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