NJC Has No Jurisdiction To Investigate Crime – Okoi Obono-Obla

 

Ever since some Judges of the High Court and Supreme Court Judges were arrested by the SSS last weekend arguments have raged between lawyers and public commentators alike as to the extent of the powers of the National Judicial Council whether or not it has the power to hear and determine complaints against Judges that border on criminality.

Two schools of thought have emerged concerning whether or not a Judge who has been accused of corruption, money laundering or official corruption can be disciplined by the National Judicial Council or be reported to law enforcement agencies for investigation and possible prosecution.

As usual with our country a very simple legal argument has been regrettably so distorted, twisted and muddled up by so much emotionalism and sentiments rather than dry law (even by lawyers who are learned in the law).

The National Judicial Council is one of the Federal Executive bodies established by Section 153 (1) (J) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

According to Part 1, Section 20 of Paragraph I of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, the National Judicial Council shall comprise the following members –

(a) the Chief Justice of Nigeria who shall be the Chairman

(b) the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court who shall be the Deputy Chairman;

(c) the President of the Court of Appeal;

(d) five retired Justices selected by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal;

(e) the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court;

(f) five Chief Judges of States to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from among the Chief Judges of the States and of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in rotation to serve for two years;

(g) one Grand Kadi to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from among Grand Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal to serve in rotation for two years;

(h) one President of the Customary Court of Appeal to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from among the Presidents of the Customary Courts of Appeal to serve in rotation for two years;

(i) five members of the Nigerian Bar Association who have been qualified to practice for a period of not less than fifteen years, at least one of whom shall be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the recommendation of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association to serve for two years and subject to re-appointment.

Provided that the five members shall sit in the Council only for the purposes of considering the names of persons for appointment to the superior courts of record; and

(j) two persons not being legal practitioners, who in the opinion of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, are of unquestionable integrity.

Part 1, Section 21, Paragraph I of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra), the National Judicial Council shall have power to –

(a) recommend to the President from among the list of persons submitted to it by –

(i) the Federal Judicial Service Commission, persons for appointment to the offices of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Justices of the Supreme Court, the President and Justices of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal High Court, and

(ii) the Judicial Service Committee of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, persons for appointment to the offices of the Chief Judge and Judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the Grand Kadi and Kadis of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the President and Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;

(b) recommend to the President the removal from office of the judicial officers specified in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph and to exercise disciplinary control over such officers;

(c) recommend to the Governors from among the list of persons submitted to it by the State Judicial Service Commissions persons for appointments to the offices of the Chief Judges of the States and Judges of the High Courts of the States, the Grand Kadis and Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal of the States and the Presidents and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal of the States;

(d) recommend to the Governors the removal from the office of the judicial officers in sub-paragraph (c) of this paragraph, and to exercise disciplinary control over such officers.

(e) collect, control and disburse all moneys, capital and recurrent, for the judiciary;

(f) advise the President and Governors or any matter pertaining to the judiciary as may be referred to the Council by the President or the Governors;

(g) appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over members and staff of the Council;

(h) control and disburse all monies, capital and recurrent; for the services of the Council; and

(i) deal with all other matters relating to broad issues of policy and administration.

It is pertinent to note particularly Section 21 (g) of Paragraph I of the Third Schedule to the Constitution which provides that the National Judicial Council has the power to appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over members and staff of Council.

It follows that the National Judicial Council has no iota of power to dabble into investigation of criminal allegations (such as the ones levelled against the Judges of the High Court and Justices of the Supreme Court arrested by the SSS in its sting operation carried out over the weekend) as some lawyers and commentators would want us believe.

If the framers of the Constitution intended that NJC should have power to investigate and prosecute Judges accused of criminality, they would have certainly said so.

OKOI OBONO-OBLA

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Why I Will Not Join Senator Florence  Ita Giwa’s Advocacy Campaign On Bakassi, By Okoi Obono-Obla 

Why I Will Not Join Senator Florence  Ita Giwa’s Advocacy Campaign On Bakassi, By Okoi Obono-Obla

In a response to my statement titled ‘’The Hypocrisy of Senator Florence Ita Giwa on Bakassi’’ which was published on National Dailies across the country last week, Senator Giwa made an appeal to me to join her advocacy campaign on Bakassi.

However, I want to state categorically clear that I will not mar my integrity by supporting  the inglorious self-seeking advocacy of Senator Florence Ita Giwa on Bakassi on the following grounds:

  1. I perceive Senator Florence Ita Giwa’s campaign on Bakassi to be insincere, deceitful, opaque, and steeped in self-glorification;
  1. Until Senator Florence Ita Giwa render an account of her stewardship as the Chairman of Bakassi Re-Settlement Committee, vis-a-vis media reports of missing funds which she there after requested the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate in an interview she granted the Galaxy Television on the 25th May 2010;
  1. Until the former Governor of Cross River State , Mr. Donald Duke renders an account of more than N9 Billion that was given to the Government of Cross River State by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2006 to re-settle the people of Bakassi affected by the implementation of the Green Tree Agreement between Nigeria and Cameroon;
  1. Until the former Governor Liyel Imoke render an account of the money given to the Government of Cross River State by the Federal Government to ameliorate the effect of the loss of Bakassi Peninsula by Nigeria to the Republic of Cameroon, and the loss of 76 Oil Wells by Cross River State to Akwa Ibom State sequel to the Judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
  1. Until Senator Florence Ita Giwa render a frank and honest disclosure of the role played by her office during the Bakassi saga. Despite her luscious position as a Senator of the federal republic, who was influential, resourceful and powerful and a Senior member of successive PDP controlled Federal Government, Presidential Adviser , 2003-2007, Member of the Board of the Nigeria Port Authority and Chairman of Bakassi Resettlement Committee.
  1. Until senator Florence Ita Giwa renders an account of how much was contributed by the public and private sectors to her charity campaign for the  Bakassi Children Foundation.

I also crave her indulgence to answer the following questions:

  1. Where was Senator Giwa when Obono-Obla started his advocacy campaign on Bakassi on the 28th of October, 2002. When he wrote an editorial opinion in the Guardian Newspaper of 28th October, 2002 titled Bakassi; Matters Arising;
  1. What was the contribution of Senator Florence Giwa to the case filed by Honourable Bassey Ita ; Honourable Effiong Edet Effiong; Samuel Asuquo and Prince Edem Nsa (for themselves and on behalf of all the Communities in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State affected by the ‘Green Tree Accord’ between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Cameroon against the Federal Government of Nigeria; Attorney General of the Federation; Attorney General of Cross River State; Independent National Electoral Commission  and Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission. and his associates in 2007 in the Federal High Court, Calabar in Suit No. FHC/CA/CS/13/2007; a case which I handled (as Counsel to the Plaintiff) pro bono;
  1. Why did Senator Florence Ita fail to use her influence as a Senior Member of the PDP to get the former Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke to support the case? ;

4 Is Senator Giwa (as an unofficial adviser to Senator Imoke) aware that the Cross River State Government did everything humanly possible to defeat the Plaintiffs in that case?

OKOI OBONO OBLA

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Nepotism In Buhari’s Govt: A Rejoinder To Jinadu Mohammed By Okoi Obono-Obla

I have read the wild allegation of nepotism levelled against President Muhammadu Buhari by Dr Jinadu Mohammed in an interview he granted   Punch Newspaper edition of Saturday the 23 July 2016 ; and I truly think that the allegation is indeed baseless and hogwash.

It is unfortunate and a huge disappointment that such frivolous  histrionics and diatribe could come from the mouth of a supposedly elder, learned person and Statesman like Dr. Jinuadu Mohammed. For the purpose of this write up, I will not delved into other acerbic allegations levelled by Dr Mohammed against President Buhari but try to  restrict myself to that bothering on nepotism.

It is illogical for Jinadu Mohammed to suggest that Amina Zakaria , the INEC National Commissioner was appointed by Buhari . She was appointed by. Former President Goodluck Jonathan. I did not believe that it was Buhari who gave her name to former President Jonathan because at the time she was appointed President Buhari was a leading Opposition in the country. Mamman Daura is not holding any government position. Therefore making a heavy weather of the appointment of certain people who Jinadu Mohammed perceived to be related to Mamman Daura is unfortunate and unfair!  I do not honestly anything morally or constitutionally wrong or improper for President Buhari appointing relations of  Mamman Daura! Are they not Nigerians?

Is Jinadu Mohammed suggesting that President Buhari should cut off from his relatives such as Mamman Daura because he is President! The Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman, I know very well and  has been close to President  Buhari since 2003 when he entered politics. Suleiman Adamu has always work assiduously to promote the  candidacy of President Buhari in all the elections he had contested . He was the Vice Chairman of the defunct CPC for North West. He is a competent, experienced  and well educated engineer who deserve to be appointed Minister in his own Right . He was never appointed Minister because of the reasons suggested by Jinadu Mohammed. Conversely, is there anything wrong with the appointment of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello? Is Jinadu Mohammed, suggesting that the father of the Minister is purportedly of President Buhari’s friend he should be appointed ; even though he is eminently Qualified for such an appointment! This is strange and illogical!  In the United States of America, President John Kennedy appointed his immediate brother, Robert Kennedy and heavens did not fall. There is nothing constitutionally, administratively, morally restraining a President from appointing a person related with him by blood in so far as that person is eligible!

The positions mentioned by Jinadu Mohammed such as Director of Protocol (SCOOP) ; ADC ( Colonel Abubakar) and Personal Assistant (Sabiu Yusuf) , he alleged are occupied by Buhari’s relations are not political appointments but inconsequential administrative and personal positions that Buhari reserve the prerogative to appoint people of his choice .

Jinadu Mohammed has also not told us how the Minister from Kaduna’s relationship with Governor Nasir El Rufai dis entitles her from being appointed as Minister. In any case, Governor El Rufai is not President Buhari ‘s relation; so how does the charge of nepotism come in!

The outbursts of Jinadu Mohammed is therefore in the realm of an emotional outburst, sour grapes  and bad belle. When will Dr Mohammed see anything good in another person! The other day, he thoroughtly  ridiculed and abused Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister and wrongly and inappropriately  dismissed  him as a ” charge and bail” lawyer ! Can you imagine! In most African cultures, it is wrong and inappropriate for an elderly person like Dr Mohammed to abuse a younger such as Abubakar Malami,SAN in such a vitriolic manner in the guise of being a public critic!

Okoi Obono-Obla

 

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The President Has Not Violated the Federal Character Provision In Appointments, By Okoi Obono-Obla

The allegation that President Muhammadu Buhari has made appointments in favour of the Northern part of the country in violation of the Federal Character provision contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is groundless and baseless.

Indeed, President Buhari has scrupulously complied with the Federal Character provision enshrined in the Constitution in making appointments concerning the Government of the Federation.

Section 171 (1) of the Constitution vests on the President the power to appoint persons to hold or act in the offices and  to  remove persons so appointed from any such office .

Section 171 (2) of the Constitution specified such offices to, namely –

(a) Secretary to the Government of the Federation;

(b) Head of the Civil Service of the Federation;

(c) Ambassador, High Commissioner or other Principal Representative of Nigeria abroad;

(d) Permanent Secretary in any Ministry or Head of any Extra-Ministerial Department of the Government of the Federation howsoever designated; and

(e) any office on the personal staff of the President.

Section 171 (5) of the Constitution provide that  in exercising his powers of appointment under this section, the President shall have regard to the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity.

So that it is not correct for some people to contend the President must comply with the Federal Character principle in all manners of appointments he makes.

Section 147 (1) of the Constitution stipulates that there shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.

Section 147 (3) of the Constitution provides that any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:- provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State.

Section 14 (3) of the Constitution provide thus: The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.

Accordingly the President appointed Ministers from all the 36 States of the Federation on the 12th November, 2015.

The President also appointed Permanent Secretaries from all the 36 States of the Federation in compliance with Section 171 (2) (d) of the Constitution.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir David Lawal is from Adamawa State in the North Eastern Region of the country in accordance with Section 171 (2) (a) of the Constitution.

The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Wilfred Oyo-Ita is from Cross River State in the South/South Region of the country in compliance with Section 171 (2) (b) of the Constitution.

The Chief of Staff to the President is Abba Kyari from Bornu State, North Eastern Region. See Section 171 (2) (e) of the Constitution.

But the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Barrister Ade Ipaye is from Lagos State, South West. He is attached to the Office of the Vice President. See Section 171 (2) (e) of the Constitution.

None of these persons are Fulani as erroneously peddled in some quarters.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir David Lawal is not Fulani or Hausa.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari is Kanuri not Fulani or Hausa as wrongly peddled in some uninformed quarters.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai and the National Security Adviser, General M. Munguno are not Fulani or Hausa as falsely asserted in some quarters by detractors.

The Acting Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim is not Hausa or Fulani but Nupe.                                      The Current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Mahmud Mohammed  and the President of the Court of Appeal, Honourable Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa respectively were not appointed by President Buhari as falsely asserted by some detractors of the present administration. Indeed the duo were appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan on merit.

Recently the President nominated 47 Persons from 32 States of the Federation and sends their names to the Senate for confirmation as Ambassadors/High Commissioners or other Principal Representatives of Nigeria abroad in compliance with Section 171 (2) (c) of the Constitution.

Those who divide the country into North and South are mischievous, misinformed and totally wrong.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is not divided into North and South.

Constitutionally the Federal Republic of Nigeria is divided into 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Section 2 (1) of the Constitution provide thus: Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Section (2) of the Constitution provide thus: Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory.

Section (3) (1) of the Constitution provide thus: There shall be 36 states in Nigeria, that is to say, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.

Administratively, the Country is further divided into North East, North West, North Central, South East, South West and South/South.

On the 14th January 1914, the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria and the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria were amalgamated to form the Federation of Nigeria.

In 1946, the Federation of Nigeria was divided into three Regions namely Northern, Western and Eastern Regions.

On the 27th May 1967, the regional structure was abolished and the three regions were divided into 12 States namely Kano, Lagos, Western ; Benue/Plateau, North Central, North East, North West, Kwara, East Central, Mid-Western, Rivers and South Eastern States.

In February 1976, the 12 States of the Federation of Nigeria were divided into 19 States.

On 23rd September 1987, the 19 States were divided into 24 States.

On 27th August, 1991, the 24 States were increased to 30 States.

On 1st October, 1996 Ebonyi, Gombe, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Nassarawa and Zamfara States were created to bring the total number of States in the country to 36.

The Constitution did not provide that all classes of appointments made by the President must comply with the federal provisions of the Constitution.

I submit without fear of contradiction that if the writers of the Constitution intended that all classes of appointments made by the President must reflect federal character they will have rightly stated so.

Okoi Obono-Obla

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Rejoinder: Re: “Who Really Owns CRS Garment Factory? For The Common Man To Understand” By Okoi Obono-Obla

I read with a lot of mixed feelings the article titled ‘’WHO REALLY OWNS CRS GARMENT FACTORY? FOR THE COMMON MAN TO UNDERSTAND ‘’ by Princewill Odidi.Undoubtedly,Princewill Odidi made a great effort to elucidate the mechanics of Special Purpose Vehicles; however Odidi failed to clear the cobwebs and shroud around the Garment Factory. So your article with due respect has not unraveled the questions raised by the discovery that there is an entity known as Cross River Garment Factory Limited ( which the Government of Cross River State has shielded from the Public till Ifere Paul exposure)!

Odidi attempt to differentiate between Cross River Garment Factory Limited and Cross River Garment Factory woefully and spectacularly failed and leave more questions to be answered! Despite all the circuitous argument there can be no doubt that Cross River Garment Factory Limited is the same thing as Cross River Garment Factory! The Cross River Garment Factory is the same as Cross River Garment Factory Limited!

In corporate law the legal person known to Law is the Cross River Garment Factory Limited! In the eye of the law, Cross River Garment Factory cannot enter into any contractual relationship with a third party. Cross River Garment Factory cannot sue and be sued because it has no legal personality. It is merely an agent of Cross River Garment Factory Limited. It follows that in the event of a commercial dispute between Cross River Garment Factory in the course of doing business with third parties the body that will be sued shall be Cross River Garment Factory Limited.

Odidi also failed to tell us why in a purported Public Private Arrangement, the Government of Cross River State would be investing a whooping N2.7 Billion (through one Frank Ayade, the brother of Governor Ben Ayade). It is strange in a PPP scheme for the public authority (Cross River State Government to be making financial contributions).

According to Wikipedia, PPP is when a public sector authority and a private party, in which the private party provides a public service or project and assumes substantial financial, technical and operational risk in the project. In some types of PPP, the cost of using the service is borne exclusively by the users of the service and not by the taxpayer.[1] In other types (notably the private finance initiative), capital investment is made by the private sector on the basis of a contract with government to provide agreed services and the cost of providing the service is borne wholly or in part by the government. Government contributions to a PPP may also be in kind (notably the transfer of existing assets). In projects that are aimed at creating public goods like in the infrastructure sector, the government may provide a capital subsidy in the form of a one-time grant, so as to make the project economically viable. In some other cases, the government may support the project by providing revenue subsidies, including tax breaks or by guaranteed annual revenues for a fixed time period. In all cases, the partnerships include a transfer of significant risks to the private sector, generally in an integrated and holistic way, minimizing interfaces for the public entity. An optimal risk allocation is the main value generator for this model of delivering public service.

There are usually two fundamental drivers for PPPs. First, PPPs are claimed to enable the public sector to harness the expertise and efficiencies that the private sector can bring to the delivery of certain facilities and services traditionally procured and delivered by the public sector. Second, a PPP is structured so that the public sector body seeking to make a capital investment does not incur any borrowing. Rather, the PPP borrowing is incurred by the private sector vehicle implementing the project. On PPP projects where the cost of using the service is intended to be borne exclusively by the end user, the PPP is, from the public sector’s perspective, an “off-balance sheet” method of financing the delivery of new or refurbished public sector assets. On PPP projects where the public sector intends to compensate the private sector through availability payments once the facility is established or renewed, the financing is, from the public sector’s perspective, “on-balance sheet”; however, the public sector will regularly benefit from significantly deferred cash flows. Generally, financing costs will be higher for a PPP than for a traditional public financing, because of the private sector higher cost of capital. However, extra financing costs can be offset by private sector efficiency, savings resulting from a holistic approach to delivering the project or service, and from the better risk allocation in the long run.

Typically, a private sector consortium forms a special company called a “special purpose vehicle” (SPV) to develop, build, maintain and operate the asset for the contracted period.[1][2] In cases where the government has invested in the project, it is typically (but not always) allotted an equity share in the SPV.[3] The consortium is usually made up of a building contractor, a maintenance company and equity investor(s). It is the SPV that signs the contract with the government and with subcontractors to build the facility and then maintain it. In the infrastructure sector, complex arrangements and contracts that guarantee and secure the cash flows make PPP projects prime candidates for project financing. A typical PPP example would be a hospital building financed and constructed by a private developer and then leased to the hospital authority. The private developer then acts as landlord, providing housekeeping and other non-medical services while the hospital itself provides medical services.

It therefore become imperative in the light of the above and in the interest of good governance, accountability , transparency and democracy for Governor Ben Ayade to come out clean  and explain to us who is the owner of the Cross River Garment Factory, Calabar.

OKOI OBONO-OBLA

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Why I Support The Kaduna Bill On Regulation Of The Practice Of Preaching, By Okoi Obono-Obla

I attended the prestigious Salzburg Global Seminar in Salzburg, Austria in 2008. The theme of the programme I attended in the Salzburg Seminars was titled “Islamic and International Law: Searching for Common Ground: Session 457. The Salzburg Global Seminar was originally founded in 1947 by a group of Harvard Graduates to encourage the revival of intellectual dialogue in post second war Europe. The mission of Salzburg Global Seminar is to challenge current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern. To this end, it design and facilitate and host international strategic convening and multi-year programmes to tackle systems challenges critical for the next generation.

While attending this programme, I met one of the participants from India, a Lawyer and Muslim. In the course of our engagement and discussion on current issues, he told me that India has many laws regulating the practice of religion. One of these laws is the law that proscribed the mounting of public address system or loud speakers on the minarets of mosques to call the faithful to prayers.  India has one of the largest Muslim populations in the World. India is also reputed to be the largest democracy in the world.

The Bill laid before the Kaduna State House of Assembly to regulate the practice of preaching by Governor Nasir El-Rufai which has generated much controversy and heated argument in the country is very much in order and indeed a step in the right direction in so far as it seek to keep in check those that exploit religion to divide us and infringe on the rights of others. All the hype and propaganda that Governor El-Rufai is Anti-Christian is hogwash!

The Bill applies to both Muslims and Christians in equal measure.  So what is all the brouhaha, about this very innovative and progressive Bill meant to curb extremism and exploitation of religion by some people to cause trouble?

Why must some misguided people continue to exploit religion to cause dis harmony in society? Why should some people think that religion is a cart Blanche to infringe on the rights of others?

Let me say that no fundamental right is limitless and absolute. In as much as we espouse our rights; we must also appreciate the fact that others are equally entitled to have their rights protected and respected. Why should a preacher or a Church or a Mosque in my neighborhood use a loud speaker to disturb my peace or arouse me from sleep without any iota of qualms in the name of religion?

Have we not seen how some people have continued to exploit religion to cause so much mayhem in the country and the world at large? The Constitution also provides that fundamental rights can be limited in circumstances where public safety, public morality, public order, pubic health and the will being is under threat. For example the law of slander and libel is a limit on the right of free speech and expression

There is nothing that violates the Constitution about the licensing of preachers. Are there no laws regulating the practice of medicine, law, engineering, accounting, nursing, pharmacy etc. So what is wrong in regulating the Christian and Islamic Clergy?

Law is organic and not static. Law must always change to reflect the dynamic and change that occur in society every day. For now the exigency and dynamic of the country demands that we should have a law in Kaduna State to regulate the practice of preaching.

Okoi Obono-Obla

 

 

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates

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Buhari Has Not Performed –Junaid Mohammed: A Rejoinder By Okoi Obono-Obla

I have read the rather vicious and malicious tirade on the person of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubukar Malami, Senior Advocate of Nigeria by one Dr. Junaid Mohammed that was published in the Sunday Sun Newspaper of 20th March, 2016 and Sahara Reporters online platform.

From the way and manner, Dr Mohammed tried to vilify and malign the personality and professional career of the Attorney General of the Federation; it seems to me that he does not know a thing about him and that his knowledge of him was nothing but a hatchet job for some vested interests all out to destroy the reputation, character and professional; standing of the Attorney General of the Federation.

Undoubtedly, Malami (SAN) is a Legal Practitioner of unblemished integrity, experience and great learning. It is therefore unfortunate, callous, uncouth and tempestuous and indeed unbecoming of a man of the age and status of Dr. Mohammed to derogatorily refer to Malami (SAN) as a ‘’charge-and-bail lawyer”.

This Malami (SAN) he refers to as such was a Magistrate and University lecturer before he veered into private legal practice and within a record time, he was conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria when he was barely 40 in 2008.

It is well settled that the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria is usually conferred on legal practitioners that are embodiment of excellence, hard work, industry, discipline, integrity and scholarship.

It also appears that Dr. Mohammed’s knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the constitutional and conventionally roles, functions and responsibilities of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and the facts of the MTN Telecommunication Nigeria Limited and versus Nigerian Communications Commission and Honourable Attorney General of the Federation which he alluded to in his interview is next to nothing; otherwise he would not have suggested that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation wrongfully interfered in the case by negotiating a settlement out of court with MTN Telecommunications Nigeria Limited.

In the first place, the Honourable Attorney General was the second defendant in the case filed by MTN Telecommunications Nigeria Limited in the Federal High Court challenging the power of Nigerian Communications Commission to impose a fine on it for breach of the provisions of Nigerian Communications Commission (Registration) of Telephone Subscribers) Regulations, 2011 in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1923/2015.

So, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation has every right to negotiate a settlement of the matter out of court. Secondly, it was the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation that constituted a legal team that was appointed to represent both the Nigerian Communications Commission in the case before a settlement out of court was effected.

It was in the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation that a meeting was held between the Nigerian Communications Commission and the legal team constituted by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to deliberate on the response of the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to proposal of the former Attorney General of the United States of America, Eric Holder on behalf of MTN Telecommunications Nigeria Limited for exploration of an out of court settlement.

More importantly, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation is created by Section 150 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The Attorney General of the Federation by virtue of Section 150 (1) of the Constitution is also the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and a Minister of the Government of the Federation.

The Attorney General of the Federation is also the Chief Legal Adviser of the President. He is also the Legal Adviser of the Executive Council of the Federation which is made up of Ministers of the Government of the Federation.

He is also the Chief Legal Adviser on all matters concerning law to all Federal Government Ministries, Boards, Extra Ministerial Departments, Agencies and Commissions.

It is well established that the Nigerian Communications Commission is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, albeit is a regulator of the telecommunications industry in the country.

It is well settled that these Federal Government Ministries, Boards, Extra Ministerial Departments, Agencies and Commissions usually refer to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation for legal opinion and advice.

The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is usually sued by those who have been wronged or whose rights have been infringed on by these Federal Government Ministries, Boards, Extra Ministerial Departments, Agencies and Commissions even though he may not have been involved in the infringement of the right(s) of the Plaintiff.

This is why the MTN Telecommunications Nigeria Limited jointly sued him along with Nigerian Communications Commission even though he was not involved in the matter.

The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is the Adviser to the Federal Government upon all matters of law connected with legislative enactments and upon all matters of law referred to him or her by the Government;

The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is the Legal Adviser to the Federal Government upon all matters of a legislative nature and superintends all Federal Government measures of a legislative nature;

The Honourable Attorney of the Federation has the power to conduct and regulate all litigation for and against the Federal Government or any ministry or agency of government in respect of any subject within the authority or jurisdiction of the legislature.

Lastly, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is the leader of the Nigerian Bar Association and the custodian and guardian of public interest and overseer of the administration of public affairs in accordance with the Constitution and the Law.

I therefore do not see anything wrong, unethical or unprofessional that Honourable Attorney General, Abubukar Malami (SAN) has done in settling the case filed by MTN Telecommunications Nigeria Limited out of court (as proposed by MTN Telecommunication).

So the attack on his person and professional integrity by Dr. Mohammed is nothing but sour grapes and borne out of complete ignorance of the duties and schedule of the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation.

Signed,

 

Okoi Obono-Obla

 

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates

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Governor Fayose’s Reckless Opposition, By Okoi Obono-Obla

I had thought with the end of the last electioneering campaign and the decisive victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his eventual inauguration on the 29th May, 2015, into office, those with Buhari-phobia such as the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, would declare a cease fire on their vociferous and scare mongering propaganda and hate speech, calculated to demonise the President!

But from all indication the likes of Governor Fayose are not done yet! I am therefore not a bit surprised at the antics of Governor Fayose recently when he tried to whip up religious sentiments and generate fear among Nigerians when he thoughtlessly suggested President Buhari’s trip to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East part is a fulfillment of his agenda to Islamise Nigeria!

It is surprising and curious that such a pernicious, reckless, infantile and indeed inflammatory statement calculated to stir up passion and cause disaffection among the people of Nigeria would come from the mouth of the Governor of a State of the Federation in the guise of opposing the Federal Government!

Undoubtedly, Governor Fayose, is part of the decadent and reactionary wing of the Nigeria bourgeoisie class that have always used the ethnic and religious cards to divert and distract ordinary Nigerians to see themselves as perpetual enemies while they help themselves to the resources of the country.

Otherwise, how would a business and private religious trip by President Buhari Islamise Nigeria? Is President Buhari the first Nigerian President to visit the Holy Land on religious pilgrimage? The answer to the question is certainly in the negative.

Did former President Jonathan not visit Jerusalem on pilgrimage with a large entourage and with pomp and fanfare in 2014? Why didn’t Governor Fayose tell us that former President Jonathan wants to Christianise Nigeria!

Surely, the likes of Governor Fayose are full of deceit even though their attempt to use ethnicity and religious differences to continue to divide and rule Nigeria has definitely failed and would continued to fail.

The immutable and fundamental truth is that Nigeria is a secular country and it is absolutely impossible for anybody to Islamise or Christianise the country. It is incontrovertible fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has no modicum of power to Islamise the country.

This is because by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended) for anybody to change the secular status of the country, two-thirds (2/3) majority of the Senate and the House of Representatives must vote in support of such proposal. Additionally, 24 States of the Federation of Nigeria must vote in support of such proposal.

The likes of Governor Fayose must desist from using the religious card to deceive Nigerians. Enough is enough. Governor Fayose is entitled to oppose the administration of President Buhari, but he must do with finesse, responsibility, be truthful about his opposition and be constructive at all times. That is the least expectation of Nigerians from a State Governor! When he speaks, Nigerians should reckon with such speech!

Okoi Obono-Obla

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Why I am Now Oppose to Creation of State Police – Okoi Obono-Obla

I use to be an advocate of the federalisation of the Nigeria Police Force which by the prevailing constitutional order in the country is under the exclusive legislative list of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered and amended).

Let me make myself clear; under the present Constitution Nigeria operates a federal system of government. In a federal system there are two levels of governmental authorities, the Centre (Federal Government) and the Federating Units (States or Regions).

So in the Constitution there are two legislative lists, namely the Exclusive Legislative List and the Concurrent Legislative List.

The Exclusive Legislative List is exclusively preserved and reserved for the National Assembly to legislate on for the Federal Government of Nigeria on any item or subject matter contained or listed therein.

Example of items under the Exclusive List of the Constitution are the Police, Defence, Security, Banking , Inland Waterways, international affairs to mention just but a few.

On the contrary, under the Concurrent Legislative List, both the Federal (National Assembly) and States Assemblies have power to legislate on any item enumerated in the concurrent list.

Under the Concurrent Legislative List, the National and States Assemblies can currently legislate on matters such as education, industry, agriculture, commerce, culture, etc.

The Federal system of government was first introduced in the country under the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954. Before the coming into force of Oliver Lyttleton Constitution there were two Police Forces in the country namely the Northern Nigeria Police Force and the Southern Nigeria Police Force.

Under the Lyettlon Constitution of 1954, Police was a regional matter. There was a Federal Police in addition to three Regional Police Forces to serve the three Regions of the Country then, namely Northern, Eastern and Western. There was also the Native Authority Police Force which was prevalent in the then Northern Region.

The same system of four structures of Police Forces in the country was retained under the 1963 Republican Constitution.

The Police system in the country became unified after the military coup of 15th January 1966 and the abolition of Federal/regional system and its replacement with a unitary system of government.

Recently there has been clamoring for the return of the country into true federalism and also demand for the creation of States Police to deal with the exigency of the prevailing times. I therefore became an advocate of creation of State Police. But with recent events in my State-Cross River State, where the State Government has compromised the Police and turned it into a stool for oppressing and victimizing its political opponents and detractors, I was compelled to make a U-turn.

I now fervently believe that it is dangerous to have a State Police to be run by Governors that are dictatorial, unenlightened, power drunk, imperial and magisterial.

Despite the principles of separation of powers under the Constitution, the Governors in almost all the States have emasculated the legislative and judicial branches of governments in their respective States through subtle manipulation, intimidation, corruption and undemocratic methods.

On the 24th February 2016, I was leafing through that day edition of the Nation Newspaper, when my curiosity was drawn to a Notice placed in Page 24 by the Public Relations Department of the Nigeria Police, Cross River Police Command to the effect that my former University Mate, Barrister Venatius Ikem has been declared wanted by the Police for “attempted murder and stealing/conversion of the property of the government of Cross River State!

The claim by the Cross River Police Command against Barrister Ikem, one time National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party; two times Commissioner and former Senior Special Assistant on Bureau for Public Enterprises under President Olusegun Obasanjo is undoubtedly phantom and a lie from the pit of the hell.

It is nothing but bad, petty, tyrannical, vindictive, mindless, vengeful politics of the government of Cross River State to settle political scores with Barrister Ikem who recently defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Party.

Since the defection Barrister Ikem has known no peace. A campaign of persecution, character assassination and blackmail was unleashed on port Barrister Ikem by the government of Cross River State that reached its crescendo with his declaration as a fugitive from justice by the Cross River Police Command in collusion with the government of Cross River State.

How can the Police declared a person it has never invited to confront him with any allegation of criminality wanted? How can the Police in good conscience declare wanted somebody who has not jumped Police administration bail wanted? How can the Police in Cross River State be so mindlessly and recklessly compromised by vested interest to embark on such a pernicious behavior?

So I now know why some people in the country are vehemently opposed to State Police! You can better imagine how a State Police in the hands of a dictatorial Governor would carry on.

OKOI OBONO-OBLA

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The Brouhaha About Devaluation And Economic Management Team By Okoi Obono-Obla

What is all this brouhaha about President Buhari not appointing an Economic Adviser or Economic Management Team ! What did we get from the last Economic Adviser or Economic Management Team ! Absolutely nothing but massive and mindless looting of the treasury and fake statistics of how Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as the biggest economy in Africa!

We were told the former Minister of Finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is a product of Harvard University and therefore had the anodyne to solving all the country’s economic woes but alas she turned out to be a flash in the pan ! She was even appointed Minister of Coordinating Economy and absolutely given unfettered powers to fix the economy! China became a super economic power within fifty years, I know that the managers of her economy did not attend Harvard or Oxford or Sorbonne or top western universities!

I also did not share the sentiments that the country ‘a currency devaluation is the panacea to the prevailing foreign exchange crisis that has seen the exchange rate of Naira spiralling to an unprecendented low! The poor do not need dollars to survive it is only the elites and the rich that need the dollars to maintain their lavish life style!

Devaluation will only benefit the rich and the elite to the detriment of the poor! The solution to this crisis is self-reliance and diversification of the economy and producing what we can produce. The peasants and the urban poor do not need dollars to survive. And they are the majority. I think the whole essence of government is the welfare and security of the majority not a powerful but tiny minority!

Nigeria will not collapse (as some will want us believe) because of this speculative foreign exchange crisis but will come out stronger! Singapore way back in the 1950s faced a graver crisis that led the Malaysia to expel from the Singapore/Malaysian Federation which caused it then Prime Minister, the legendary Lee Kuan Yew to contemplate resigning his Prime Ministership of Singapore! But he soldiered on and miraculously transformed Singapore from a third World Country to an industralised advanced within four decades through disciplined, strong, authoritarian and visionary leadership.

In 1985, the then General Buhari (as Head of State) successfully revamped the economy after corruption and maladministration inflicted on by the civilian government of President Shehu Shagari and oil glut without accepting the conditions prescribed by the International Monetary Fund ! The then General Buhari did not appoint any economic management team or an economist as his Minister of Finance! The Minister of Finance appointed by General Buhari was a sociologist known as Dr Onaolapo Soleye!

President Buhari Must resist the pressure to adopt populist policies but rather embrace pragmatic long term social and economic measures to resusciate the economy after the devastation caused by PDP sixteen years of misgoverance.

Okoi Obono-Obla ?

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The Illegality Of Appointments Of Boards For Cross River Inland Waterways, Others By Okoi Obono Obla

Illegality of the appointments of Boards for Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency; Cross River Sea Ports Limited and the Cross River State Ports Authority.

Recently the Government of Cross River State under Governor Ben Ayade announced a gale of Political and Board appointments in the State. Surprisingly and curiously, Board appointments were made for three bodies or agencies or Companies or Entities known as the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency, Cross River Seaport Limited and the Cross River State Ports Authority. These entities or agencies or companies did hitherto not exist in the administrative structure of the State.

There was no time the Cross River State House of Assembly enacted any Law establishing the Cross River State Ports Authority and the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency. So if there is no law establishing the Cross River State Ports Authority and the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency respectively before now; how on earth would the Governor proceed to appoint Board of Directors for them?

I have conducted a search in the Corporate Affairs Commission, Abuja in order to find out whether or not the Cross River Seaports Limited has been incorporated or registered! But my search came to naught. So, is the Cross River Seaport Limited that the Cross River State has constituted a Board an illegal entity?

Another question that agitated my mind after these appointments into these agencies were made was does the Government of Cross River State of Nigeria possess with the jurisdictional competence to dabble into the functions and responsibilities supposedly to be carried out by the Cross River State Ports Authority and the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency respectively?

It is well settled that Nigeria is a Federation or practices federalism. In federalism, there is division of constitutional responsibilities and functions between the Federal Government (Centre) and the federating units (States). These divisions of responsibilities and functions between the Federal Government and the States are clearly spelt out in the Constitution.

So under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) the Federal Government or National Assembly is entitled to implement or legislate on any item listed in the Exclusive Legislative List stipulated in the Second Schedule of the Constitution.

There is also a list known as the Concurrent legislative list also spelt out in the Second Schedule of the Constitution. In this list, the Federal Government or National Assembly and State Government or State Houses of Assemblies are empowered to implement or legislate on every item contained in the Concurrent Legislative List provided in the Second Schedule to the Constitution.

I took pains to comb through the Constitution to find out if the Cross River State Government has the power the constitutional competence or power to create the Cross River State Inland Waterways Agency.

I discovered to my chagrin and consternation that inland waterways is a matter under the exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution which only the Federal Government or National Assembly can legislate on.

Accordingly, Item 36 paragraph B of Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra) provide as follows thus:
“Maritime shipping and navigation include –

(b) Shipping and navigation on the River Niger and its affluent and on any such other island waterway as may be designated by the National Assembly to be an international waterway or to be an inter-State waterway”.

It is well settled that the Cross River is an international water way because its straddle Nigeria and the Republic of Cameroons. It is also inter-Sate Waterway because it flows through Cross River State; Ebonyi State and Akwa Ibom State. It is worthy to note that the Cross River is known as Qua Oboe River in Akwa Ibom State.

I agree the Government of Cross River State can establish ‘State Ports” but presently there are no such State Ports! So what is the basis for the appointment of a Board for the Cross River State Ports Authority which is yet to be created by the Cross River State House of Assembly!

Certainly the Cross River State Ports Authority cannot do any business in the Calabar Port (which is the only Port in Cross River State for the time being) under the control and management of the Nigerian Ports Authority.  So why is the Cross River State jumping the gun to appoint a board for a non-existent Cross River Ports Authority.

Okoi Obono obla

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Buhari’s Anti-corruption War And The Vote Of Confidence From The Global Front, By Okoi Obono-Obla

The detractors and opponents of the Anti-Corruption War of the present administration would want us to believe that the campaign is selective, a witch-hunt and vendetta targeted at opponents and members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

 In their frenzy and obsession to divert attention and politicized the campaign, they have woven all sorts of conspiracy theories from the sublime to the ridiculous and rubbish such as wanting us to believe that President Muhammadu Buhari is pursuing Lt Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) because they had issues over 30 years ago when both were still in the military or that the arrest and arraignment  of  the  National Publicity Secretary  of the  PDP, Olisa Metuh is because he waged  a campaign of calumny and hate against President Buhari in the 2015 presidential election.

 Apart from their hackneyed cry of selective prosecution, protagonists of the war twist the principles of the Rule of Law to suit their agenda taking umbrage under the principles of human rights protection.

 Just last week, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed told a startling story of how just 55 Nigerians stolen a whooping N1.34 Trillion from the national patrimony and they still have the stomach to suggest that the present administration can overlook such sleazy and move on because some gleeful claim that the war against corruption is diver campaign.

 What of the $9 Billion that was budgeted for the purchase of military hardware to fight the insurgency that was stolen and mindlessly shared to mandarins of the PDP? But nothing absolutely can be farther from the truth.

Despite the vociferous peddling of selectivity of the campaign, the detractors have not presented a shred of evidence to substantiate their claim. The truth of the matter is that this war is for real and no antics by the detractors should make the Federal Government to buckle.

Undoubtedly, this war is necessary to clean up the country, restore national values such as honesty, integrity, accountability, transparency and hard work.

We can continue pretending the attention of government from other of the national economy that they claim need urgent attention. Who say that the administration has neglected other sectors of the national economy to the detriment of the people?

The Federal Government of Nigeria despite the war against corruption has release one of the best national budgets in the past forty years which, if faithfully implemented; would likely take the country out of the woods and present financial quagmire.

Indeed, an analyst and Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Africa Growth Initiative, Brooking Institutions, Amadou Sy writing in the latest edition of the journal of the acclaimed Policy Think Tank based in the United States of America-Brooking Institutions also said that the budget has set the stage for strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth in the medium term. He concluded that the 2016 budget provides a template for other African countries.

However, the truth of the matter is that the war against corruption of the administration has won national and international acclaim despite the negativity towards it by cynics and detractors. Just yesterday United States of America, Secretary of States, Senator John Kerry in a paper presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland showered accolade and praises on President Muhammadu Buhari for the successes scored in the war against corruption and the fight against insurgency, stressing that the war against corruption is imperative if the country has to survive.

So, if internationally recognized institutions and respected globally citizens such as the American Secretary of State who obviously is speaking the mind of the United States of America have passed a vote of confidence on the Federal Government, what else do we need to add as a people than to lend support and prayers to it, the present leadership in its efforts to take the nation out of the woods.

Do we need to continue to play politics at this time when elections are over? Shouldn’t the opposition ponder over this?

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