Rowdy Session As Dogara Accuses Jibrin Of Trying To Bring Down The House

The House of Representatives was thrown into a rowdy session following what some suspect was an attempt to suspend Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Trouble started when the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker-jev, moved a motion on breach of his privilege and that of the House by the embattled former Chairman of the Committee.

Members listened attentively until he got to the point where he mentioned Jibrin’s name; that was when members of the Transparency Group started shouting “No, no, no.”

This was countered by shouts of “Dogara, Dogara” by pro-Dogara reps, who started distributing green scarves with the inscription “I stand with Dogara.

Meanwhile, speaker of the house of representatives, Yakubu So far and has said that Jibrin, is out to destroy the lower chamber as an institution.

However, he expressed confidence that Jibrin would not succeed, saying: “If history is any guide, no one in a democracy has ever succeeded in destroying a democratic institution such as the house of representatives.”

Dogara said the house would not be distracted by “any insidious antics however well-orchestrated, and falsehoods however cleverly propagated to confuse Nigerians”.

Instead, he said the house would “remain accountable to Nigerians for our conduct as public servants”.

He also said The plenary was “not the appropriate venue to address allegations made against individual honourable members, many of which are criminal in nature”.

“There are constitutional avenues for that,” he said, adding that the lawmakers were”patriotic enough to understand the mood of the nation and the critical and sensitive matters of urgent national importance deserving our immediate attention”.

THE FULL SPEECH

1. INTRODUCTION:

I am delighted to welcome us all back from the annual recess. I specially congratulate our Muslim colleagues for the successful celebration of Id el Kabir. May the Almighty God be praised for His divine protection over us during the recess and for bringing us back safely. I trust that we used the time to interact with our constituents and have returned rejuvenated both physically and mentally to face the arduous legislative tasks ahead.

2. REVIEW OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS:
The events of the recent weeks give cause for grave concern and pose existential threats to the corporate integrity and image of the House as a democratic institution designed by the Constitution to play a vital role in our nation’s governmental system. Shortly after we adjourned for the recess, our colleague and erstwhile Chairman Appropriation Committee, embarked on a strange propaganda clearly aimed not only at the destruction of the image of some members but a systematic destruction of the institution of the House of Representatives and indeed the legislature by portraying it to the public as an irredeemably corrupt institution. The chiefest motivation for his actions, as he has said severally and repeatedly is to have the four principal officers removed from their positions and not that the truth should be known. It was TS Eliot who once said, “the last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reasons”. Unfortunately TS Elliot didn’t tell us what it is when someone does the wrong deed for the wrong reasons. These wild allegations which were initially directed at four Members of the House Leadership progressively engulfed the entire membership of the House and then the Institution.

We chose the part of maturity by maintaining great restraint in the face of all these, fully conscious of the fact that at the appropriate time, the truth will prevail. I have bad news for those who think they can pull down this Institution of the people. If history is any guide, no one, in a democracy has ever succeeded in destroying a democratic Institution such as the House of Representatives, although examples abound of such effort by people both within and outside the Institution. Ours cannot be different.

Let me assure all Nigerians that the House is fully conscious of its watchdog role in our democracy and will always strive to earn the trust and confidence of Nigerians. We are also patriotic enough to understand the mood of the nation and the critical and sensitive matters of urgent national importance deserving our immediate attention. We will therefore not be distracted by any insidious antics however well orchestrated, and falsehoods however cleverly propagated to confuse Nigerians. We remain accountable to Nigerians for our conduct as public servants.

This is not the appropriate venue to address allegations made against individual Honourable Members many of which are criminal in nature as there are constitutional avenues for that. This is more so that these matters are before all the security agencies and ridiculously before some Foreign Missions! It is however important to briefly say that nothing warrants the deliberate attempt at destructive public misinformation aimed at discrediting the House as an institution. These events have shown that we certainly need to engage more with the Nigerian public on the functions and modus operandi of the National Assembly, which is a democratic institution that relies on public support for its activities. I am sure we will emerge from all these stronger and more committed to attainment of national goals than before.

3. THE ECONOMY:
The state of our economy is of urgent and critical importance.That Nigeria has gone into recession is a very worrisome development that calls for emergency measures to be taken. All hands must be on deck to tackle the myriads of problems facing us. This is not the time for partisanship. This is not the time to score political points. This is not the time for grandstanding. This is not the time for blame games. The situation and the times call for bold, courageous, enlightened and purposeful leadership. This is a patriotic call to action from all stakeholders and indeed all Nigerians. We must unite as a people to rescue Nigeria from the shackles of poverty, social and economic underdevelopment.

To achieve the needed result, we must never shy away from telling our brothers and sisters that the change we seek can never be about what we are changing from but what we are changing to. That transformation has and will always be about what we embrace not what we have abandoned.

As leaders, we must take responsibility for the present economic situation although we are not directly responsible for it. We must admit that this is a difficult thing to do in the present generation that spurns responsibility. Everyone wants to blame someone for something that goes wrong. Unfortunately, history teaches us that no one, no nation has ever achieved greatness except on account of the creative hunger that comes with accepting responsibility. It was Winston Churchill who summed up this lesson of history in six words, thus: “the price of greatness is responsibility”. Every NIGERIAN must understand this so that together we will seize the opportunity this crisis presents to rebound and build a secure and prosperous future for our dear nation.

These are no times like any other, I therefore call on all of us and indeed the National Assembly to continue giving legislative support to the Executive on all well thought out and effective solutions to our economic problems. More than ever before, we must be prepared to listen more, think more and work more. We must also consult the abundant pool of experts both in Nigeria and abroad to fashion out short, medium and long term measures for dealing with the present crisis and setting our country on the path of sustained economic growth.

The recent retreat by Mr President with his cabinet and sundry statutory appointees is most commendable. It is in this regard, that I urge Mr President to consider holding a joint emergency session of the National Assembly to brief both the Legislature and indeed Nigerians of his plans to pull Nigeria out of recession. This will provide opportunity for all stakeholders to be on the same page and to act in concert for urgent national recovery. It will also further consolidate existing ongoing consultations between the Presidency and the National Assembly on the way forward.We must never miss the opportunity the present travails offers us to launch Nigeria into its rightful destiny and place among the comity of prosperous nations.

As representatives of the people we are well acquainted with the alarming state of the citizens penury. We will therefore collaborate with the Executive in fine tuning any observed limitations in policy formulation and implementation to ensure speedy delivery of services to our people. We need to immediately take a second look at the pace of budget execution; the spiraling rise of the dollar against the Naira and the multiple exchange rate regime; the impact of the Treasury Single Account on the economy, investment in infrastructure, tackling unemployment, among others.

4. BUDGET REFORMS:
Honourable Colleagues, there is no doubt that over the years the procedure for the making of the National budget has been generally unsatisfactory. There is not enough pre-budget consultations and interface between the Executive and the Legislature. The Appropriation Bill is often submitted very late by the Executive. There is no consistency with respect to the three year commitment on MTEF. There is no clear national development plan agreed to by all stakeholders, which the Legislature would be required to adhere to. The integrity and methodology for project selection is questionable, and often discretionary and whimsical. Governmental goals are not clear enough and the budget does not adequately reflect the priorities of government. It is in realization of this state of affairs that the issue of budget reform was conspicuously embedded in our Legislative Agenda unfolded for the Eight Assembly in July 2015. It provides in part as follows:

“The Budgetary process has remained one of the major challenges of Nigeria’s democracy since 1999. Legislative measures will be introduced to support and implement a proper budgetary process that supports a strong and robust National Economy.

The review of the budgetary process will emphasize the following:
• Promotion of an inclusive budgetary process that seeks the cooperation of the Executive in institutionalising pre-budget interface and consultations.
• Adoption of an effective Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
• Strict compliance with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007.”

On project selection process we had earlier committed ourselves in our Legislative Agenda as follows:

“Integrity of project selection process
Our commitment to reform of the Budget Process should consider the integrity of the project selection process in the Annual Budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly by the President. A mechanism that makes the process of Project selection more transparent, equitable, professional, accountable and needs based shall be put in place with the cooperation of the Executive. The budget process should include basis and justification for project selection.”

It should be noted that these were commitments made in July 2015, and not because of any recent events or circumstances. Moreover, in the House legislative calendar, Budget reform process was scheduled for the Second session.

Accordingly, as I promised before the recess, Leadership has already commenced consultations and a Special Budget Reform Committee, made up of experts and some Hon members would soon be inaugurated. We expect this Committee to lay the groundwork for a better budget process in 2017.

In this regard, we will partner with the Senate and also consult the Executive to ensure that the budget process meets acceptable standards that conform to international best practices. By the design of our Constitution, budget process is not the sole prerogative of one Chamber but a collaborative process involving both Chambers and the Executive.The idea of a Committee Chairman or even a Committee of the National Assembly arrogating to itself the sole authority over the Budget is preposterous and must never be countenanced.

5. THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN THE BUDGET PROCESS:
Recently, controversy seems to have arisen as to the role and powers of the National Assembly on Budgetary matters. I therefore consider it appropriate to say a few words on this matter.

From the community construction of Sections 59, 80 and 81 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the role of the legislature on the “estimates of revenues and expenditure of the Federation for the following financial year “submitted by the President pursuant to Section 81 (1) &(2) of the constitution is NOT CEREMONIAL. It is in the contemplation of the possibility of differing opinion of the legislature on the estimates so submitted that Section 59(4) provides a resolution by way of veto override. For the avoidance of doubt, our constitution has created a budget writing legislature. Section 80(4) prescribes to the effect that no public funds shall be spent “except in the MANNER prescribed by the National Assembly” This means that the legislature must diligently scrutinize the estimates submitted and cure all observed defects including imbalances in order to fashion a budget that meets the constitutional test of making laws “for peace, order and good government”.

Indeed the ordinary lawmaking powers of the National Assembly guaranteed under S.4 of the Constitution has not been ousted, even though the President initiates a financial bill. It is therefore inconceivable that when the legislature performs this constitutional function lawfully, it will be construed otherwise. The budget process comes to an end when it is certified by the Clerk to the National Assembly, being the only authority so designated by the Acts Authentication Act, LFN, 2004 and signed into law by Mr President. The 2016 Appropriation Act followed this procedure, strictly.

6. 2016 BUDGET IMPLEMENTATION AND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OVERSIGHT ACTIVITIES:
An Appropriation Bill when signed by the President becomes a law of the Federation. All authorities and persons in the Federal Republic of Nigeria are bound to obey the dictates of law, especially in a constitutional democracy like Nigeria. The Budget is therefore not just a piece of paper to be treated with disdain. When the revenue targets are not met, both the Executive and the legislature are enjoined to work in a cooperative manner to remove any issues arising therefrom. Indeed the 2016 Appropriation Act in Section 6, has given an indication on how it should be resolved.When a Budget is not effectively implemented by the Executive, and adequate reasons are not given, it undermines citizens faith in governance, as the budget is perhaps the most effective tool for addressing poverty and underdevelopment. Government expenditure envisaged in effective budget implementation helps to put more money in the hands of citizens, puts more money in circulation and helps to reflate the economy.

We therefore welcome increased budgetary releases for Capital projects just announced and request for even more as provided by law.

In furtherance of the constitutional responsibility of the National Assembly to act as an effective check on the Executive on behalf of the Nigerian people, I hereby direct various House Committees to conduct a fact finding exercise on the extent and level of budget implementation by various MDAs. We must take our oversight responsibilities very seriously and report back to the House. It is the Report of the House Committees that will determine Appropriation to any MDA in 2017.

7. CONSTITUENCY OR ZONAL INTERVENTION PROJECTS:
Section 4 (2) of the Constitution mandates the National Assembly to “make laws for the peace, order and good government” of the Federation. Again under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy provisions in Chapter Two, which are binding on “all organs of government and all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers”, more specifically the Economic Objectives in Section 16 thereof, government policy is mandatorily to ensure planned and balanced development devoid of concentrating wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or of a group.

The idea of Constituency or Zonal intervention projects is to remedy flaws in the estimates of revenues and expenditure where there is deviation from the fundamental objective of equitable spread of planned development. This legislative intervention is complementary rather than conflictive. The templates and project prototypes are designed by the Executive while the budgeting modalities are mutually agreed. As we have repeatedly said, no member of the National Assembly is given cash or contracts for the projects.We all know that execution of projects is the prerogative of the Executive Branch.

8. CONCLUSION:
I wish to once again assure Nigerians that we remain accountable and will strive to justify the mandate given to us to serve our people as we engineer positive solutions to rescuing the Nigerian economy from this unfortunate recession and rebuild a robust diversified economy. Nigerians should continue to repose confidence in the legislature as we assure that we will continue to work in partnership with Mr President and all arms of Government in order to deliver on national priorities for the Nigeria of our dreams to emerge.

God bless you all and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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$15m Accounts: Patience Jonathan Accuses EFCC Of Hiring Mercenaries To Plead Guilty

Former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan has picked holes in the authenticity of the representatives of the four companies who pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of money laundering at a Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over by Justice Babs Kuewumi.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants told the court through their counsel that their clients were challenging the validity of the representatives of Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited; and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited on the basis that they failed to produce a letter of authority to represent the companies as required under section 477 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

The companies are facing a 15-count 2nd Amended Charge along with Waripamo Dudafa, a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, and two others. While Dudafa and the two others pleaded not guilty, the fourth to seventh defendants whose authenticity as the true representatives of the company was challenged proceeded to curiously plead guilty and admitted culpability before the court.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has since frozen the companies’ accounts with Skye Bank, while Mrs Jonathan has sued the commission and the bank, laying claims to the accounts.

The former First Lady’s through her media aide, Chima Osuji alleged that the EFCC presented four unknown people as representatives of the companies, all of who did not show letters authorising them by their respective boards to represent them in the case. “This is a clear evidence of the desperation of the prosecution to pull down the former First Lady and confiscate her hard-earned money,” he quipped.

Osuji stated: “It is an irony. it was the former first lady who went to court for the repatriation of her confiscated money when she realised that the EFCC and its co-travellers were playing politics with this issue after she had come out publicly to say that the said money belongs to her and that she has all evidence to prove the sources of her money. Up till this very moment, EFCC has refused to interrogate or invite her for questioning.

He further said: “The biggest twist in court on Thursday was that the fourth to seventh defendants pleaded guilty to all the 15-count charges. It is clear that these unknown faces were agents of the EFCC, who have been stage-managed and tutored to come to court to complicate the case as a strategy to confiscate her money.”

The aide reiterated the respect of his boss for the sanctity and integrity of the judiciary as the bastion of hope for every citizen of the country.

He however expressed disappointment that Mrs. Jonathan well-earned image was being maligned in the court of public opinion through the “tissues of lies being churned out by the EFCC in respect of the matter.”

He continued that “Mrs Jonathan is not a Director, shareholder, promoter and/or participant in any of the four companies now under trial, and that she was the sole signatory to all the said accounts, contrary to the fabrication that she used her driver and cook as proxies”.

Finally, he said Mrs Jonathan has denied ever receiving any monies from any unknown sources into her accounts and that the accounts were opened in order to facilitate her travel overseas particularly for medical treatment, sundry purchase for herself and her late mother Mrs. Charity Oba (Mama Sisi).

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FG Probes Death Of Suspect In EFCC Custody As Wife Accuses Agency Of Killing Her Husband

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has ordered an independent inquiry into how a suspect, Desmond Nunugwo, died in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The order follows the controversy surrounding the death of Nunugwo and the request of the family for an independent inquiry into the matter.

The widow of the deceased accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of killing her husband and labelling him a criminal.

Receiving the family of the deceased in his office in Abuja, Malami reiterated the sanctity of life and declared that no government
agency had the right to take life.

“I will give directives for investigations to commence immediately. I will also demand explanations from the EFCC to furnish me with details of the case. It is the responsibility of every government agency to protect the sanctity of life. As the chief law officer of the country, I will not compromise investigations,” the minister said.

He condoled with members of the family over the death of their breadwinner and requested them to call him in three days to get a feedback over the matter.

Clad in black attire for mourning, the wife of the late Nunugwo yesterday led other members of her husband’s family on a march to the office of the minister to demand an independent inquiry.

Their demands were straight to the issue. They wanted the minister to constitute an independent inquiry into how Nunugwo died in the custody of the EFCC. They also wanted the minister to urgently take over the investigation and serve the cause of justice.

The family believes that EFCC was responsible for the death of Nunugwo, a former chief protocol officer to the minister of state for defence, whom they claimed was not sick or diagnosed of any known sickness until his death in the EFCC custody.

The widow at the weekend recalled that she called her husband’s phone repeatedly but it was switched off as she did not know he was in EFCC’s custody in Wuse 2, Abuja.

“Around 3pm on June 9, my husband had gone to pick up our son from school and they both returned home. He later went out. Around 6pm, I called his line and it rang once. I tried his number several times later, but it was off,” Susanne told Punch.

“The next morning, I got apprehensive when he didn’t come home. However, around 3.48pm, someone called me with his phone and said my husband was in the EFCC’s custody and I should come to bail him.”

Susanne said on getting to the EFCC, she was told to go and get a man because being a woman, her husband could not be released on bail to her.

She said, “The EFCC later called me to their office to come and bail my husband while he was already at the mortuary.

“I later received a phone call from a former colleague of mine that he had read the news online that my husband was arrested for fraud and he had died.”

The widow said she was informed that her husband’s arrest was sequel to a petition written by one Uloma, his business associate.

Susanne said, “She (Uloma) told the EFCC that she met my husband on a flight in 2012 when he was on his way to the US where I went to give birth. She said my husband introduced her to a third party with whom she did a N91m transaction.”

Susanne berated the EFCC for labelling her husband a fraudster even after causing his death, adding that the anti-graft agency must clear his name.

The deceased’s family declared the Nigeria Police as no longer fit to continue with the investigation into the matter “having compromised in the cause of their investigation by acting out a script written and directed by the EFCC.”

There is also a contentious issue of autopsy on the body of the deceased. Two months after, no autopsy has been done. There is an allegation that the authorities are delaying the inquest.

The family, therefore, asked that an autopsy be carried out by an expert to be recommended by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.

But the police and the EFCC insist that Nunugwo died a natural death. They claimed that he was rushed to a hospital where he gave up the ghost six hours after he was detained at the commission.

Accompanied by their lawyer, Paul Edeh of the Raw Gold Partners, the family arrived at the Shehu Shagari Way headquarters of the Ministry of Justice and insisted on seeing the minister.

The widow of the deceased, Susan, had told The Guardian that the family would not leave the building until the minister granted them audience.

The lawyer to the family, Edeh shed more light on efforts by the family to secure autopsy for the body of the deceased.

He said: “My clients have it on good authority that the EFCC, through its chairman and his foot soldiers are working assiduously behind the scenes to frustrate police investigation into the cause of Nunugwo’s death because the truth, when revealed, will count against his confirmation as a substantive chairman of the EFCC.

“According to our clients, EFCC has blatantly refused that a post-mortem examination be carried out on the body to reveal the cause of death which will indict the commission.

“This may have been the reason more than two months after Nunugwo’s death in EFCC custody, no move has been made to carry out an autopsy even when the hospital has forwarded the requirements for carrying out an autopsy estimated to cost N4, 000,000.

“After more than a dozen visits by our clients to EFCC and the police to ascertain the position of the investigation, both the police and EFCC have maintained a common stance that the deceased died a natural death.

“One, therefore, wonders how both the police and the EFCC could come up with such a common position in the absence of a medical examination to determine the cause of death.”

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Police IG Accuses Predecessor, Arase Of Carting Away 24 Vehicles

The acting Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, says his predecessor, Solomon Arase,  went away with 24 police vehicles while the seven Deputy Inspectors-General of Police, who retired alongside him, also carted away between seven and eight cars each.

Idris stated that he had written Arase to return the cars, which included two official bullet-proof BMW 7 series cars, adding that the retired police chief and his DIGs had yet to return the vehicles.

The IG, who said this during an interview with journalists on Sunday in Abuja, explained that a special investigation team was already looking at the records of police vehicle purchases in the last three years as well as how they were distributed.

Arase, however, denied the allegations of his successor, saying he didn’t go away with any police vehicle.

The former IG, spoke to Punch correspondent on the telephone on Sunday, denied taking away 24 police cars, describing the allegations as a malicious propaganda.

Arase advised Idris to squarely face security issues confronting the country rather than engaging in “media propaganda.”

He said, “What am I going to do with 24 cars? Do I want to open a car shop? This is a malicious accusation. There are ways of verifying issues rather than engaging in media propaganda.”

But Idris, explaining the steps he had taken, said, “If you look through the windows of my former office and from the report from my (Force) transport officer, you would see cars but a week to the day I would resume, all these cars disappeared.

“So, what I am telling you is that I have signed a directive to my SIP (I have a special investigation panel, I set it up). It is going to investigate all the vehicle purchases, contributions to the police and the distribution of those vehicles in the last three years; we are going to look into that.

“When I took over, there was no vehicle, even the vehicle I would use. I discovered the last IG went away with 24 vehicles; the DIGs, some of them eight, some of them seven. The IG’s vehicles included two BMW 7 series, one armoured; and he left me with an old car.

“The last time I followed the President with it, he was asking me, ‘what are you doing with this old car’ because if you see the headlight, the thing has changed colour, which means they parked it and rains and everything had fallen on it, but the new ones that were bought, he (Arase) went with all of them; they are part of the 24.

“I wrote back to him and said, we have a policy that says when a policeman retires, if you are an IG, AIG, a CP, you are entitled to some vehicles; please, the extra, return it. Four vehicles are enough for an average human being, but what will you even do with four vehicles; but he took 24 vehicles, including two BMW cars.

“I wrote to him (Arase), I wrote to the DIGs.”

Idris disclosed that the Police Management Team would probe the last promotion in the Force following complaints by many police personnel that their juniors were promoted over them.

He explained that the probe was to address the discrepancies and complaints by aggrieved police personnel, who were allegedly short-changed during the exercise.

Idris stated that the probe panel would be set up to verify if the promotion was in line with the police service commission policy and regulations.

The IG explained that his focus was to run a democratic police organisation, which would be responsive and accountable.

He added that he had directed some audit firms to audit all police investments to make them more transparent and ensure that the rank and file, who were also shareholders, had more say in the police companies.

On strategies to curb the increasing wave of kidnapping and other crimes, Idris said he would strengthen, retrain and equip the Special Anti-Robbery Squad to be more responsive and responsible.

He said he recently removed some Area Commanders in Rivers and Kogi states when he learnt that they had been compromised.

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Senate Accuses Executive Of Plot To Change NASS Leadership, Jail Saraki, Ekweremadu

The senate has accused the executive arm of government led by President Muhammadu Buhari of attempting to “muzzle the legislature and criminalise legislative processes” in order to cause leadership change in the national assembly.

In a strongly worded statement issued moments after the president returned to the country at the end of his London trip, the upper chamber said the executive is so desperate to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, that it does not mind “sacking the constitution”.

The senate asked Buhari to respect the principle of separation of powers and also call Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation to order, insisting that the independence of the judiciary must be respected.

“After reading in the national newspapers and online platforms of the planned charges of forgery and conspiracy preferred  against the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, immediate past clerk of the national assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and the clerk of the senate, Mr. Ben Efeturi and reviewing the circumstances leading to the filing of these charges, we are compelled to alert the good people of Nigeria and the international community,  that our democracy is in danger and that the attempt by the executive arm of the federal government to muzzle the legislature and criminalise legislative processes in order to cause leadership change in the national assembly is a return to the era of  impunity and lack of respect for due process which we all fought to abolish,” read the statement signed by Aliyu Abdullahi, spokesman of the senate.

“This latest plot is directed at forcing a change of leadership in the senate or, in the extreme case, ground the red chamber of the national assembly. Or how do one interpret a move in which the two presiding officers are being set up to be remanded in Kuje Prison or incapacitated from sitting at plenary through  a day-to-day trial on a matter that is purely an internal affair of the senate.

“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to please call his attorney-general and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to order. The Senate of the Federal Republic voted freely to elect its leadership into office and continuing attempts to change that leadership through the wanton abuse of judicial processes cannot stand in the eyes of the world.

“It is clear that the attorney-general and party leaders behind this action either lack the understanding of the underlining principles of constitutional democracy, the concept of separation of powers, checks and balances and parliamentary convention or they just simply do not care if the present democracy in the country survives or collapses in their blinded determination to get Saraki and Ekweremadu by all means necessary, including abuse of office and sacking the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The statement advised the executive to focus on the economic challenges confronting the country, warning that its decision to overlook some alleged infractions on the part of the executive should not be taken for granted.

Abdullahi said actions of this nature has cast a shadow on the integrity of the current administration and its fight against corruption.

“We are in a state of economic emergency such that what the National Assembly needs at this time are executive bills and proposals aimed at resolving the crises of unemployment, currency depreciation, inflation, crime and insecurity,” the statement read.

“What the National Assembly needs now are executive bills to build and strengthen institutions to earn revenues, fight corruption and eliminate waste. Instead, we are getting hostile actions aimed at destabilising the National Assembly, distracting Senators from their oversight functions and ensuring good and accountable governance.

“We must make it clear here to the individuals in the Executive arm and party leadership behind these plots not to mistake the maturity and hand of co-operation being extended to the Presidency by the legislature as a sign of weakness. The National Assembly bent backwards to accommodate various infractions and inefficiencies in pursuit of inter-arms co-operation and national interest. We did not follow up the various infractions because we believe there are bigger issues which the government has to attend to in order to ensure that every Nigerian have food on his table and live comfortably in a secured environment.

“These present efforts, therefore, is clearly a coup against the legislature with the ignoble aim to undermine its independence and subject the law making institution to the whims and caprices of the executive. It is a plan to return Nigeria to the dictatorial era which we have, as a nation, voted to reject. It is a dangerous trend with grave implications for the survival of our democracy and the integrity of the component institutions.

“This rule of men as against the rule of law is also the reason why the War Against Corruption, one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration, is losing credibility because people perceive it to be selective and, in most cases, aimed at settling political or partisan scores.”

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PDP Accuses Sheriff Of Working For APC, Presidency

THE National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the Presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were behind the attempt by former national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, to forcibly take over the party.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, on Tuesday, the caretaker national publicity secretary, Mr Dayo Adeyeye, who was joined by other members of the committee, including Senators Abdul Ningi and Odion Ugbesia, said the government was using Sheriff to destabilise the party to prevent it from participating the September 10 Edo State governorship election.

He questioned the role of the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) in providing their personnel to the former party boss to enable him to take over the party secretariat.

The party interim spokesman said the party was shocked to learn that the police granted Sheriff access into the secretariat, despite the fact that the caretaker committee had a tip-off about the plan of the former chairman to storm the party office.

Alleging that Sheriff, in the last few days, met with an unnamed APC governor, who was apparently coordinating for APC, Adeyeye noted that as an outsider, Sheriff would not mind bringing down the PDP.

He said contrary to the former chairman’s claim, the court ex parte order recognising the national caretaker committee had not expired, adding that Sheriff was shopping round for court order in his desperation to remain in office.

The party spokesman noted that 99.9 per cent of the party membership had rejected Sheriff, wondering who he would lead in the PDP.

Noting that Sheriff invaded the party headquarters with thugs, he said: “While we are still trying to understand the role of the police in the entire saga, it is curious to note that the police made no arrest of the thugs who openly brandished various dangerous weapons in and around the premises of the secretariat in full glare of the police.

“It is also curious that the police claimed to be acting on “orders from above” in allowing Sheriff and his cohorts to gain entry into the secretariat. If we may ask, who is the authority that issued the “orders from above?

“What we are, however, very certain about is that Sheriff and his fellow renegades are being used by the enemies of the PDP to destroy the party and to prevent it from reorganising itself, so as to provide a credible opposition and alternative platform for the forthcoming Edo State governorship election and 2019 elections.

“The APC has contracted Sheriff and his cohorts to scuttle the chances of the PDP in the Edo governorship election.

“We have credible intelligence that Sheriff had a meeting Sunday night with an APC governor from North- West, where it was agreed that he would be given full security and financial support to exacerbate the crisis in the PDP with the objective of preventing the PDP from presenting a candidate for the Edo governorship elections or at the very least, to prevent the PDP from offering a serious challenge to APC, whose electoral fortunes has continued to nosedive.”

Also noting that Sheriff gave the false impression that he had court orders that empowered him to continue as national chairman of the PDP, Adeyeye stated: “The truth of the matter is that Senator Sheriff has no court orders to back his claims.

“He and his cohorts continue to shop around to buy any court order at any price, but so far they have not succeeded, thanks to the vigilance and integrity of the judiciary.

“Senator Sheriff was appointed not elected by the National Executive Committee of our great party to complete the tenure of Alhaji Adamu Mauzu.

“The tenure of Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu legally would have ended on February 14, 2016. Senator Sheriff was given an extension of three months by the NEC of our party to organise a national convention.

“The appointment of Senator Sheriff was not ratified by any national convention of our party; so constitutionally, he has no other mandate which can extend beyond May 21, 2016.

“The case before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, was instituted by Sheriff and others, to restrain the PDP from conducting election into the offices of the national chairman, national secretary and the national auditor.

“The court did not restrain the PDP from conducting the National Auditor convention. The National Convention is the supreme organ of the party under Article 33(2) of the PDP constitution. In the exercise of its power under Article 35(5) (b) & (e) of the constitution, the national convention removed all officers of the party and set up a caretaker committee to plan and organise a national convention within 90 days.

“The National Convention of PDP can only be called by NEC and once that is done, it is convention that can cancel and postpone its proceedings.”

When contacted, the media assistant to Senator Sheriff dismissed the allegations of Sheriff being used to destroy the PDP.

He also said that there was a valid court order backing Sheriff for the chairmanship position.

Reacting, the national secretariat of the APC, on Tuesday, maintained that the party was never behind the crisis rocking the opposition party, PDP as alleged by the party.

The APC, however, said PDP was only suffering from its past sins.

The APC, through a statement signed by APC national secretary, Mai Mala Buni, in Abuja, noted that it was “reacting to the baseless and laughable allegations of a faction of the PDP, which accuses the APC and the Presidency of being behind the Ali Modu Sheriff-led PDP faction wishes to remind the PDP that it is suffering from its sins of the past.”

Also, chairman of the PDP National caretaker committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, rejected as “fraudulent,” the claim that he has decided to back claimant for the national chairmanship post of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.

Reports emerged on Tuesday that Makarfi met with Sheriff and regretted accepting the position of the chairman of the caretaker committee in error.

But in a swift reaction, the former Kaduna State governor vehemently denied it, saying it was the sort of fraudulent practices that his leadership was trying to stamp out from the party.

He also expressed disappointment at the various fictitious court orders being brandished by party members, saying that no court stopped the party’s national convention.

Makarfi said, however, that he was opened to dialogue and accommodation as a way to resolve the PDP leadership crisis.

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CCT Chairman Accuses Saraki Of ‘Tactically’ Delaying Trial To Avoid Final Consequences

Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), says Senate President Bukola Saraki is tactically delaying his trial to avoid “final consequences”.

Umar made this statement while addressing Saraki’s lawyers on Tuesday.

Speaking on the cross-examination of the prosecution witness by Saraki’s lawyers, the CCT chairman directed them to ask straight questions and to avoid technicalities.

”When you are asking a witness, go straight to the point. You don’t have to find your way of distorting the witness. This is delaying us. You are a senior lawyer, I don’ t want you to do that kind of tactics to delay the matter. We assure you that whatever happens, we are going to be fair,” he said.

“But it seems you are employing tactical delay to avoid final consequences.

“Don’t be afraid. I’m a gentleman.”

Reacting to the statement of the chairman, Kanu Agabi, Saraki’s lead counsel, said: “We are actually afraid of the final consequences. We really are, and all that we are doing  is because we are scared of the final consequences.

“Now,  it is time for us to disabuse the minds of the court. Please bear with us. We are not worried about the law. We are worried about the prejudice. We are not afraid of you. I pray for you everyday that your lordship sits here for many more years.”

TheCable

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PDP Accuses Fayose of Causing Confusion In The party

The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has accused Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State of causing confusion in the party.

It said the governor was behind the plan to hold the South-West zone congress in Akure, Ondo State on Saturday despite the court order which asked the party to suspend the exercise.

The PDP National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, stated this while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Saturday.

Oladipo said the party had decided to obey the order of Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos, which restrained the party from going ahead with its zonal congress.

Apart from Akure, another faction of the party had planned to hold a separate zonal congress in Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State on the same day before the court order was served on the party’s national leadership.

The judge had ruled on an ex parte application brought before him on Thursday by the incumbent PDP South-West Zonal Secretary, ‘Pegba Otemolu, and restrained the party from going ahead with the scheduled congress.

The judge said the order would subsist until the final determination of Otemolu’s main suit.

But a day later, Fayose had stormed the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, where he boasted that the congress would go ahead.

Oladipo said on Saturday that the National Legal Adviser of the party, Mr. Victory Kwon, had advised the party to obey the order of the court, which he said was served on him (Oladipo) and the party on Friday afternoon.

He also said that the National Chairman, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, who he said was not at the party secretariat on Friday when the order was served, had been notified.

Oladipo said, “Governor Fayose is not a member of the National Working Committee of the PDP, but he’s causing confusion with his utterances.

“We are not dabbling into his government and he has no right to tell us how to run the party here. We have an order of the court stopping the congress. The governor cannot overrule the court.

“He should behave like other governors who do not dabble into the running of the party at the national level. He should learn from Governor Olusegun Minimiko of Ondo State who respects the party and the President of the country.”

He added, “Those who want to claim they want to organise any conference are doing that on their own, not on behalf of the party.

“Whatever comes out of it will be null and void because we are not monitoring it just as the Independent National Electoral Commission has also been informed about the order of the court.”

Our correspondent gathered that INEC had been served with the court order and had directed its officers to stay away from fine congress.

But the governor said he was attending the congress as a loyal member of the party.

The governor, who spoke through his Media Aide, Mr. Lere Olayinka, said he was only invited to attend the congress.

He said, “The congress committee is in Akure and that’s why we are attending. Oladipo is an interested party. The governor is interested in the smooth-running of the party. The party is not run on the pages of newspapers.”

Despite the court order, the PDP held its South-West zonal congress on Saturday in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

The development was contrary to the report that the national leadership of the party had cancelled the congress following an order of the Federal High Court, Lagos, restraining the party from holding the congress.

At the event held at the International Event Centre in Akure, a former Commissioner for Information, Mr. Eddy Olafeso emerged the National Vice Chairman of the zone.

In his remarks, the host of the congress, Mimiko, said, “The PDP has a bright future in this country, but our actions and inactions will determine the future of our party in Nigeria. We must therefore stand for integrity as a party with history of integrity and progressivism.

“The truth which we stand for will vindicate us in PDP in the South-West region. Governor Ayo Fayose and I are working for the progress of the party in the South-West and we shall continue to do that.”

Also speaking, Fayose said there was a need for unity to reign among the members of the party in the South-West.

Fayose said, “I love our elderly people, but the elders should play the roles of advisers and allow the young generation to take over. This is in line with my stand against Buhari who is too old to rule Nigeria.”

The chairman of the electoral committee, Mr. Celestine Omehia, said the panel had gotten the approval of the National Chairman of the party, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, to go ahead with the congress..”.

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Amnesty International Accuses FG Of Obstructing Justice For 640 Boko Haram Detainees Murdered By Soldiers

Global rights group, Amnesty International (AI) has accused the Federal Government of withholding justice for the 640 detainees slaughtered by soldiers in Maiduguri barracks two years ago.

AI stated that Nigerian authorities have failed to conduct an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killings after they were slaughtered by Nigerian soldiers.

Amnesty International in a statement stated that it has repeatedly called on the government to initiate an independent and effective investigation into the crimes under international law but despite repeated promises by the government that AI’s report will be looked into, no concrete step have been taken to begin an independent investigation.

It stated, “?Two years after at least 640 recaptured detainees were slaughtered by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, the authorities have failed to conduct an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killings, said Amnesty International.

“The detainees – men and boys, many arbitrarily arrested in mass screening operations – were killed after they fled the barracks in Maiduguri, Borno state on 14 March 2014 following a Boko Haram attack. The majority were shot. The others had their throats cut. To mark the anniversary of this massacre, Amnesty International campaigners will be gathering outside Nigerian embassies around the world to call for independent investigations and prosecutions.

“It is shocking that two years after these horrific killings there has been no justice for the victims and their relatives,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

“The lack of an independent investigation has meant that no one has been held to account for the killings, strengthening an already pervasive culture of impunity within the military.”

“Amnesty International has extensively documented the events of 14 March 2014, interviewing dozens of witnesses, verifying video evidence of the killings and their aftermath and confirming the locations of mass graves through satellite imagery.

“In June 2015 Amnesty International published extensive evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed by the Nigerian military. The report found that the military extrajudicially executed at least 1,200 men and boys, and almost certainly many more, between 2012 and 2014. A further 7,000 detainees died in military detention as a result of starvation thirst, disease, torture and a lack of medical attention. Torture is routinely and systematically used by security forces in Nigeria, both during arrest and in detention. Soldiers arbitrarily arrested more than 20,000 suspects since 2011 and detained the overwhelming majority of them without access to their families or lawyers, without formal charges and without ever bringing them to court.

“Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Government of Nigeria to initiate independent and effective investigations into its evidence of crimes under international law and to implement critical safeguards against human rights violations.

“Yet, despite repeated promises by President Buhari and his government that Amnesty International’s report would be looked into, no concrete steps have been taken to begin independent investigations. Many safeguards remain absent, for example suspects continue to be held in military detention without access to their lawyers or families, without charge and without being brought before a judge.

“After more than nine months in office, President Buhari must take urgent action to provide justice for the conflict’s thousands of victims and prevent such violations occurring again.

“In the two years since the Giwa killings, the pattern of unjustified use of lethal force by the military has continued with no one held accountable,” said Netsanet Belay.

“From Giwa to Zaria, from the north east to the south east, the time has come to break the cycle of impunity that has gripped Nigeria. This should start with justice for the Giwa 640.”

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Ekiti Lawmakers Accuses Buhari of Approving DSS Invasion of Assembly Complex

Members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the State Security Services to release four of their members detained by the service since Friday, March 4.

The chairman, Ekiti House Committee on Information, Gboyega Aribisogan, while speaking to journalists in Abuja said that the call became imperative because “the SSS would not embark on such action without presidential approval”.

“Like we have maintained, plotters of evil against the government of Ayodele Fayose and by extension the people of Ekiti State will not get our support,” he said.

“We, members of the State House of Assembly are prepared to spend the rest of our tenure in DSS cell, instead of plotting against our leader and mentor, Governor Ayodele Fayose.

“Gone are those days in Nigeria when impeachment notices against governors were signed on the table of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and this time around, if the DSS is programmed to play the role played by the EFCC under former President Obasanjo, it will fail.”

Mr. Aribisogan noted members would not be intimidated by the agents of the federal government especially if it had to do with the coming elections in 2018.

“We have also been told that some of us have been slated for arrest and detention and it is on this note that we have come to inquire from the DSS those of us they still want to arrest so that we can turn ourselves in without giving them the stress of coming down to Ekiti,” he said.

“The DSS can also go ahead and publish the names of our members that they want to arrest so that we will know who among us to bring to Abuja.

“Alternatively, the DSS can keep the entire 26 members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly in their custody for as long as they desire so that it will be easy for them to call anyone of us for questioning at any time of the day.”

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APC Accuses Wike Of Plotting To Arm-twist Security Agents To Release PDP Members Nabbed For Murder

The Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, said that it has been brought to its attention that the Governor of Rivers State, Barr. Nyesom Wike has given the assurance that he would do everything possible to cause the release of PDP members arrested for murder before, during and after the 2015 elections in the State.

The Governor, according to press a statement signed by the Rivers State APC Chairman, Chief Davies Ibiamu Ikanya JP  made the pledge today in Port Harcourt during a meeting between him and women of Usokun-Degema in Degema Local Government Area. He assured that he will ensure that the Police and other security agencies in the State release every member of the PDP arrested for crimes before the forthcoming National and State Assembly rerun elections scheduled for March 19.

The statement reads: “The Usokun-Degema PDP Women whose meeting with Gov. Wike was facilitated by the Deputy Governor, Dr. [Mrs] Ipalibo Banigo, who hails from the neighbouring Obuama community, Farah Dagogo, a notorious ex-militant whose election as member representing Degema Constituency in Rivers State House of Assembly was nullified by the concurrent Elections Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, Damiete Miller the Commissioner for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation and Engr. Okpete Ovai, a daughter of Degema and a former Works Commissioner who was only yesterday sworn-in by Wike as a member of the Rivers State Road Maintenance Agency, met Wike to facilitate the release of one Asweivi Ogidi [alias Olembe] who shot and killed an APC youth, Anthony Brown, in Usokun-Degema community on the day of the last LG elections on May 23, 2015 and his brother, Udemisoma Ogidi who was arrested by the Police last Saturday following a report of threat to kill another community youth, Usokun-Ovai Clever Don and conspiracy in the murder of the late Anthony Brown.

“The APC notes that in a manner reminiscent of the premature celebrations of the judgment of the Supreme Court on the Rivers State Governorship Elections Petition before the apex court handed down its judgment, members of the PDP are already celebrating the release of the twosome who are notorious killers.

“As a mark of gratitude to the Governor, the women have also been mobilised by the PDP oligarchs in Degema LGA and the local community to embark on a simulated protest march to Government House, Port Harcourt tomorrow or the day after.

“Insider sources in the community, which is now notorious for incessant gunfire and other criminal activities, indicate that Sobomabo Jackrich [alias Egberi Papa], the Caretaker Chairman of Asari-Toru LG whose supporters were arrested recently in course of the security raid on his palatial residence in Usokun-Degema, which he bought from Chief Monima Lawson, have been released. Jackrich has further assured the party’s youths and women in the community that Gov. Wike is totally committed to ensuring that everyone arrested across the State for killing members of the opposition APC in the time past or during the forthcoming rerun polls will be released.

“The Rivers State Chapter of APC has no option in the prevailing circumstance than to invite the Police and other security agencies to stick to their constitutional mandate by resisting whatever manipulation and pressure by the Governor and his foot soldiers to free or embolden criminals who constitute grave danger to the peace, security of lives and property and continued development of Degema LGA and the State. To the rivers APC, this is the time to protect the people and State from all forms of crimes and insecurity.

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