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Russian government resigns

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The entire Russian government is resigning, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced Wednesday, after Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping reforms that could extend his decades-long grip on power beyond the end of his presidency.

Putin thanked members of the government for their work but added that “not everything worked out.” Putin added that in the near future he would meet with each member of the cabinet. The mass resignation includes Medvedev.

The surprise announcement came after Putin proposed constitutional amendments that would strengthen the powers of the prime minister and parliament at the expense of the presidency.

Taking power from the presidency and handing it to parliament could signal a power shift that has been long speculated about in Russia.

Putin’s critics have suggested that he is considering various scenarios to retain control of the country after his presidential term ends in 2024, including the option of becoming prime minister with extended powers.

Similarly, in 2008 Putin swapped places with the prime minister to circumvent the constitutional provision banning the same person from serving two consecutive terms.

In his statement, Medvedev indicated that the government was resigning to clear the way for Putin’s proposed reforms.

Putin “outlined a number of fundamental changes to the constitution, significant changes not only to a number of articles of the constitution, but also to the balance of power as a whole,” Medvedev said in his statement, which was aired on Russian state television.

“In this context, it’s obvious that we, as the government … should provide the president of our country with the opportunity to make all the decisions necessary for this. And in these conditions, I believe that it would be right, in accordance with Section 117 of the constitution,” for the government to resign, Medvedev added.

Putin nominated the head of the Federal Taxation Service, Mikhail Mishustin, to replace Medvedev as prime minister, according to a Kremlin statement.

“With his consent, [Putin] submitted Mishustin’s candidacy for the post of prime minister for consideration by the State Duma,” the Kremlin wrote.

The lower house of Russian parliament will discuss and vote on the country’s next prime minister on January 16, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said, according to state-run news agency TASS.

According to the Russian constitution, State Duma must consider the candidate within a week from the date of their official submission.

Power to the parliament

In his annual address to the Federal Assembly earlier Wednesday, Putin said he agreed that no one should serve as president for more than two consecutive terms, and proposed several constitutional amendments.

His key proposal is to transfer the power to select the prime minister and cabinet from the president to the parliament.

“I know that a constitutional provision is being discussed in our society that the same person should not be president for more than two consecutive terms,” Putin said. “I don’t think this is a fundamental issue, but I agree with that,” he said.

“I propose … entrusting the State Duma with the power to approve the candidacy of the prime minister, and then, per the prime minister’s proposal, [appoint] all deputy prime ministers and federal ministers,” Putin said. “In this case, the president will be obliged to appoint them, that is, he will not have the right to reject parliament-approved candidacies.”

Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader, said the “only goal of Putin and his regime” was to remain “the sole leader for life, taking ownership of an entire country, and appropriating wealth to himself and his friends.”

“All those who said that Putin will step away from power in 2024 are such idiots (and/or crooks),” he tweeted.

According to the current constitution, the president needs to secure approval from the lower house of parliament to appoint the head of the government, and it is within presidential rights to then appoint all deputies and ministers.

In a televised statement, Putin asked current members of government to fulfill their duties until a new one is formed.

“I want to express satisfaction with the results that have been achieved,” Putin said. “Of course not everything worked out, but nothing ever works out in full.”

Medvedev is expected to become deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council. Putin is the chairman.

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NIGERIA

Nigeria’s capital tops record today of COVID-19 new cases

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Federal Capital Territory, Abuja recorded 90 new cases of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday out of the 304 new cases of recorded.

In the latest information disclosed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Twitter, confirmed cases of the virus in the country are now 44433.

The new cases of COVID- 19 across the country spread thus:

304 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;

 

FCT-90

Lagos-59

Ondo-39

Taraba-18

Rivers-17

Borno-15

Adamawa-12

Oyo-11

Delta-9

Edo-6

Bauchi-4

Kwara-4

Ogun-4

Osun-4

Bayelsa-3

Plateau-3

Niger-3

Nasarawa-2

Kano-1

The total confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the thirty-six states of the countryb are 44,433 while 31,851 patients have been discharged after recovery.

910 patients have died of the virus.

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NIGERIA

Adoke’s trial for money laundry to begin August 11

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The Federal Government has filed an amended 14-count money laundering charge against former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister Mohammed Bello Adoke as well as a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar.

The amended charge replaced an earlier seven-count charge on which Adoke and Abubakar were arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on June 17 this year.

Both defendants were re-arraigned on Tuesday on the amended charge before the same judge and they pleaded not guilty to them.

Justice Ekwo adjourned till August 11 for the prosecution to open its case by calling its first set of witnesses.

In the old charge, six counts were directed at Adoke, while only one was directed at Abubakar. But in the amended one, seven counts are directed at each of the defendants.

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NIGERIA

Court dismisses Farouk Lawan’s appeal in $500,000 bribery charge

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has ordered former House of Representatives member, Farouk Lawan, to return to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to defend himself in the $500,000 bribery case pending against him.

In a judgment on Tuesday, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed Lawan’s appeal for lacking in merit.

The appellate court upheld the October 17, 2019 ruling by Justice Angela Otaluka of the High Court of the FCT, rejecting Lawan’s no-case submission.

Justice Peter Ige, who read the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, held that, as against the appellant’s claim, there was no injustice against Lawan in Justice Otaluka’s ruling, which ordered him to enter his defense in the trial.

Justice Ige resolved the four issues for determination in the appeal against the appellant.

He said: “I have also read the records of appeal, particularly the evidence of prosecution witnesses one to five (PW1 to PW5), the ruling of the High Court, and the argument of parties to this appeal. I am of the firm view that the review of the evidence by the lower court was not slanted in favour of the prosecution against the appellant.

“The lower court was expected to be brief in its analysis of the evidence at the stage of the no-case submission. In any event, what calls for examination on a no-case submission is whether there is any evidence from the prosecution, no matter how to slant, linking the defendant with the commission of the offenses for which he was charged, and whether or not the evidence linking the defendant has been discredited during cross-examination.

“The trial court is also called upon, at the no-case submission stage, to find out if the evidence or ingredients of the offenses for which the defendant was charged have been established and not to go into any elaborate or extensive review of the evidence of witnesses

“The lower court was right in its decision, calling on the appellant to enter his defense.”

Lawan is being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) for allegedly collecting $500,000 as part of a $3 million bribe.

The ex-lawmaker was alleged to have demanded money to facilitate the removal of Femi Otedola’s company, Zenon Oil, from the list of firms indicted by the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee which probed fuel subsidy abuse in 2012, which Lawan chaired.

The prosecution called five witnesses and closed its case, following which Lawan made a no-case submission, which was rejected in a ruling by Justice Otaluka on October 17, 2010.

Rather than enter his defense, as ordered by the trial court, Lawan, through his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), appealed the ruling, which the Appeal Court dismissed yesterday for lacking in merit.

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