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House Capitol attack committee votes to recommend Steve Bannon prosecution

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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Court Sacks 13 Ebonyi LG Bosses, 171 Councilors

A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki has again nullified the Ebonyi Local Government Elections and sacked all the 13 Council chairmen in the state.

The court also sacked all the councilors and 171 ward chairmen of the state.

The court had on Aug. 25, nullified the council polls of May 31.

Ruling on the matter with suit NO: FHC/AI/CS/224/2022 on Friday, Justice Fatun Riman ordered the seizure of the monthly federal allocation of the chairmen pending when rightful Chief Executives were elected into office.

Fatun restated that the councils election by the State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) on May 31 was illegal and unconstitutional.

Mr Mudi Erenede, Counsel to the plaintiff said he was happy over the judgment and commended the court.

“In the judgement today, the court has agreed that the Ebonyi State High court has no powers to override or set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court because it is not an Appeal Court.

“Those people, who are parading themselves as chairmen are not there legally.

“They were appointed by whoever that appointed them. CBN, Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance are all defendants in this suits,” he stated.

The counsel to Ebonyi State Government, Mr Roy Nweze, said there was no need responding to a judgment that had already been delivered by the court.

Nweze said that the matter would be appealed without delay.

(NAN)

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Naval College Graduates 245 Officers, Personnel

The newly graduated personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 of the Nigerian Naval Engineering College (NNEC), Sapele in Delta, have been urged to remain committed to the service of the nation.

Rear Adm. Monday Unurhiere, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Naval Training Command, made the plea at the graduation ceremony of the 245 Under Training Personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 in Sapele.

Unurhiere, represented by Rear Adm. Baratuaipri Iyalla, said that the call became necessary in view of the security, economic and social challenges currently facing the country.

The naval chief urged the graduands to make deliberate efforts to improve themselves on the job by way of taking advantage of modern technology and also tapping into the wealth of experience of their superiors.

“Let me remind you that as officers of the Nigerian Navy, you are charged with enormous responsibility and your unswerving allegiance is to the Nation.

“The confidence reposed in you must not be taking for granted, especially at this time that our national aspirations are being threatened by numerous security, economic and social challenges.

“As such, you may find yourself being called upon to serve beyond your technical capability due to the prevailing situation in the country,” he said.

Unurhiere acknowledged the efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, for creating the enabling environment for training and continued financial support to NNEC.

According to him, this has helped the College to contribute more to the technological advancement of Nigerian Navy and the nation at large.

He urged the graduands, especially the under training personnel, to maintain the current tempo in sustaining training and other naval activities.

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NNPC Disburses N15bn For Lagos-Badagry Expressway Reconstruction

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) has disbursed N15 billion for the reconstruction of the Lagos Badagry Expressway under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure Tax Credit (RITC) Scheme.

The N15 billion represents a 100 percent payment of the funding of the Lagos-Badagry road rehabilitation under the tax credit funding of the NNPC Ltd.

The NNPC Group Chief Executive, Mr Mele Kyari, made this known on Thursday when he led NNPC’s management team with some top government officials to inspect the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of Lagos-Badagry Expressway (Agbara Junction-Nigeria/Benin Border).

The road under rehabilitation is being funded by the NNPC Ltd. under the Federal Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.

The execution of the scheme is being carried out in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing as the supervisor and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for NNPC’s tax obligations deductions.

This is in response to address the plight faced by petroleum products marketers in transportation which affects nationwide distribution.

Kyari said the fund disbursed was part of the N621.24 billion earmarked for the reconstruction of 21 roads nationwide under the scheme.

He expressed satisfaction over the stage of the road development.

“We are covering 1,804.6mkm across the country and taking another set of over a trillion naira investment on infrastructure in Nigeria, believing that with the tax credit system which Mr President has put in place, very soon there will be massive change.

“NNPC as the enabler will consider from its cash flow and fund whatever FIRS and Ministry of works approve for the company.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, represented by the Director, Highways, Roads and Rehabilitation of the Ministry, Mr Folorunsho Esan, said the intervention of the NNPC sped up the reconstruction of the expressway.

Esan said that the project was 40 per cent completed.

“In the next 12 months we should be able to deliver this project because the drainages are in place, just for earth works and pavement works, it cannot take us more than 12 months,” he said.

Speaking on the gridlock being caused by the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project, he said the contractor would clear all impediments and move out of site by December 15 to make the highway free for Yuletide.

Earlier, Mrs Olukorede Keisha, Federal Ministry of Works Engineer supervising the Lagos-Badagry Expressway project, gave a brief of the project, listing the drains, culverts and other construction works done on various stretches.

Oba Israel Okoya, Oba of Ibereko in Badagry Royal Majesty, who lauded the Federal Government and NNPC for the intervention, said before the reconstruction, the road was in a terrible situation making traffic unbearable for motorists.

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