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UK government U-turns on sewage after Tory MPs threaten rebellion

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UK government U-turns on sewage after Tory MPs threaten rebellion

The government has announced a partial U-turn over the sewage amendment after Tory rebels threatened to scupper an upcoming vote in the Commons.

Under new rules, there will be a duty on water companies to reduce the impact of sewage discharges from storm overflows. This means the organisations will be required by law to show a reduction in sewage overspills over the next five years.

Last week, 22 Conservative MPs rebelled against the government to vote in favour of an amendment to the environment bill that would have placed a legal duty on water companies not to pump waste into rivers.

The amendment was rejected in the Commons, and the negative reaction of constituents took some Tory MPs by surprise.

Philip Dunne, one of the Conservative rebels and the chair of the environment audit committee, said: “I am confident that although it was just 22 of us last week, awareness of this issue has been raised. There were many who abstained, and many who did not understand the gravity of the issue who have been made aware by constituents and colleagues.

“I am not whipping this vote so I can’t give you certainty but I believe if this goes back to the Commons it will be very close, enough to worry the government.”

It remains to be seen whether the partial U-turn will quell the rebellion and widespread outrage over the failed amendment.

There were 403,171 spills of sewage into England’s rivers and seas in 2020, according to the Environment Agency, adding up to more than 3.1m hours of spillages.

The government has blamed a variety of factors for the increasing sewage spills, including Victorian infrastructure and climate breakdown.

An environment minister said there had been a tussle against the government, as No 10 and the Treasury believe that putting this duty on water companies, which would have to massively upgrade infrastructure, would be too expensive.

The minister said: “Basically we have been working for ages on how to put this stuff in law – a duty on the water companies – and it will be introduced when it goes back to the Commons. But what is infuriating is that even if the bill went through completely unchanged, it represents raising the bar beyond anything we have ever had before.

“So to have people like Lord Adonis imply that everything is currently fine and that we are coming along post-Brexit and legislating to allow crap to go into the rivers is not only wrong, it is a blatant lie – designed to whip people up into a frenzy of hate. But the government has been slow. And the move in the Commons will look like a concession when in fact we have been working on it for weeks.”

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson criticised the current “failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges [as] unacceptable” and said it sympathised with the intentions of the amendment.

However, he said the cost of forcing water companies to “take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows” had not been estimated – warning it could be up to £150bn.

“Following a debate in the House of Commons last week during the final stages of the environment bill, today we are announcing that we will put that commitment on a statutory footing with a new clause,” the spokesperson said.

The Duke of Wellington, who brought the bill, on Tuesday asked peers to back it a second time. It would ask water companies “to take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows”.

The cross-bench peer told the Evening Standard: “This is particularly important for London. Anyone who saw the BBC Panorama programme in April will have learned about the embarrassing state of the riverbed of the Thames and the enormous quantity of sewage, which is regularly discharged into the river.”

The environment bill contains some measures to protect Britain’s waterways from sewage, including a new duty directly on water companies to publish information within one hour on the operation of storm overflows. It also obliges water companies to monitor the water quality upstream and downstream of storm overflows and sewage disposal works.

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BREAKING: Justice Tanko Muhammad Resigns As CJN

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BREAKING: Justice Tanko Muhammad Resigns As CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, has resigned, Channels Television learned on Monday.

Sources told Channels Television that Justice Muhammad resigned on Sunday night, citing ill-health as the reason for his decision.

Information also has it that arrangements are ongoing to swear in the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

According to reports, a formal announcement will be made shortly.

Until his resignation, reports had it that Justice Muhammad was seriously ill.

Last week, 14 justices of the Supreme Court had written him a letter to lament the decrepit state of affairs in the apex court.

In the leaked letter, the Justices accused the CJN of refusing to address the issues despite drawing his attention to them.

They complained of a lack of residential accommodation and vehicles at the court.

The justices further accused the CJN of gallivanting with his “spouse, children and personal staff,” while not allowing them to travel with an assistant on foreign trips.

The justices decried the lack of legal research assistants, despite the magnitude of cases being adjudicated.

On erratic electricity supply, the justices said they have been confined to work between the “hours of 8 a.m and 4 p.m daily, for lack of diesel,” after they were notified of the development by the Supreme Court’s Chief Registrar, Hajo Bello.

Meanwhile, Justice Tanko Muhammed did not attend the opening of the training for Judges on Alternative Dispute Resolution organized by the National Judicial Institute, amidst reports of resignation.

Although no Supreme Court Justice is present at the event.

Training of Judges by the Institute is usually declared open by the CJN or any of his representatives. however, the Administrator of the Institute, Justice Garba has opened the session.

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2023: I’m Still Searching For My Running Mate – Tinubu

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2023: I’m Still Searching For My Running Mate – Tinubu

Ahead of the 2023 general election, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, on Sunday said he is still searching for his running mate.

He stated this in Abuja while delivering his keynote address at the 60th birthday celebration of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila. The ex-Lagos Governor also heaped praises on the Speaker for his contributions to his political ambition of becoming Nigeria’s President and democracy, while extolling the virtues of his Deputy, Hon Idris Wase, for being a dependable ally.

“I could see a Deputy (Wase) sitting down there too, you are very good symbols of unity, dependability, and honesty, thank you. Thank you for both of you, you’ve not rocked the boat. I will need to learn from both of you, how you made the pair work because I’m still searching for my running mate,” Tinubu said.

“What you did during my primary (APC presidential election) is a story for another day. I’ve spent more time, too many times and people might be bored, they might be envious too, they might be jealous. I won a landslide, I thank you.

“Femi, with your determination, and reach, you are a contributor to our democratic growth, thank you. It is about charting a path to success, you’ve done a good job and I say thank you, thank you.”

Also speaking, President Muhammadu Buhari described Gbajabiamila as a team player and a skillful parliamentarian.

A file photo of APC preisdential candidate, Bola Tinubu.

Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, said the Speaker is one who looks beyond differences for the benefit of all.

“For him what matters is not so much the party differences but what unites Nigerians and that is why he is a passionate advocate for a peaceful democracy and unity of Nigeria. And no amount of parliamentary maneuvers or differences between parties would deviate him from this,” he said.

“He introduced the term legislative diplomacy. When there were issues between Nigerian and Ghanaian traders, he went to Accra and met with his colleagues and tried to resolve the issue.

“Mr President is very proud of the fact that he did not need to interfere in how the National Assembly runs because he had trust in the capacity in the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives and therefore he feels that with capable hands in both chambers of the NASS there is no need to interfere.

“It is also a fact that under the Speaker and leader of the Senate, there is no automatic opposition and antagonism to the executive. The role of the legislature is not to be antagonistic as a matter of routine, but to be partners for good governance for the people of Nigeria. They are working together to make Nigeria better.”

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Those Doubting Tinubu’s Credentials Should Go To Court – Farouk Aliyu

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Those Doubting Tinubu’s Credentials Should Go To Court – Farouk Aliyu

Farouk Aliyu has told those doubting the credentials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, to seek redress in court

The former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives made the comment on Sunday amid claims that Tinubu falsified his academic qualifications.

“We have gone through this a very long time ago. Asiwaju Tinubu was governor in Lagos, a two-time governor. These issues have come up. What haven’t they said about Tinubu? What hasn’t he proved to the people? And look, that is the beauty of democracy,” he said during an interview on Channels Television Sunday Politics. 

“If anybody feels strongly that our candidate has no qualification to be president, he is entitled to go to court and challenge that.”

Search For Running Mate

In this file photo, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Honourable Farouk Adamu Aliyu, speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight on May 10, 2021.

Aliyu, who also spoke about the search for a running mate to the former Lagos State governor, said the decision lies with Tinubu. He stated that the APC is still consulting and reiterated that competence, not religion, will be the major determinant.

“So, if our party comes out with a Muslim candidate, so be it. We are going to make sure we win the election,” he maintained.

“And if in the wisdom of our candidate, he brings a Christian candidate, we are also going to make sure we win the election because, as I said before, it is not about the religion or where you come from. It is about competence.”

His remarks came hours after Tinubu said he is still in search of a running mate ahead of the general elections.

He spoke on Sunday during his keynote address at a book launch to mark the 60th birthday of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

“I could see a Deputy (Wase) sitting down there too, you are very good symbols of unity, dependability, and honesty, thank you. Thank you for both of you, you’ve not rocked the boat. I will need to learn from both of you, how you made the pair work because I’m still searching for my running mate,” Tinubu said at the event held in Abuja.

“What you did during my primary (APC presidential election) is a story for another day. I’ve spent more time, too many times and people might be bored, they might be envious too, they might be jealous. I won a landslide, I thank you.

“Femi, with your determination, and reach, you are a contributor to our democratic growth, thank you. It is about charting a path to success, you’ve done a good job and I say thank you, thank you.”

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