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HEDA Gives CBN Seven Days To Provide Details Of Repatriated $8.1bn MTN Fine

14 January 2019 - 5:13am


The Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre (HEDA), a non-governmental organisation, has invoked the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), asking for detailed information on the alleged resolution between the apex bank and MTN Nigeria relating to charges of improper repatriation of about $8.13 Billion.

The FoI request to the CBN was signed by Olanrewaju Suraju, the Chairman of HEDA.

According to the resource centre, the wide margin between the reported final payment and the alleged charged sum has left the public puzzled as to the procedure and steps taken to arrive at the resolution.

The request read: “On the 4th day of September, 2018, the online platform of the Business Day Newspaper reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria, sometime in 2018, revealed that MTN Nigeria illegally repatriated foreign exchange of about $8.13billion with irregularly issued Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) by some commercial banks namely: Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, Diamond bank and Stanbic IBTC bank and also converted its shareholders’ loan to preference shares without fulfilling the requisite conditions.

“It was reported by Sahara Reporters, an online newspaper, on 6th September, 2018 that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami gave a 14-day ultimatum to the affected banks and the telecommunications company to pay the fine awarded against them by the Central Bank of Nigeria via a letter that originated from the Attorney General of Federation’s office dated the 3rd of September, 2018.

“Sequel to this, the affected banks were sanctioned by the Federal Government and appropriate fines were paid by the banks.

“In furtherance of the above paragraph, the Nigeria Lawyer Online legal newspaper reported on the 24th day of December, 2018 that the alleged charge of improper repatriation leveled against MTN Nigeria had been resolved to the tune of $52.6million as against $8.13billion earlier reported as the fine to be paid by the telecommunication company.

“There seems to be a wide margin between the reported final payment and the alleged charged sum which has left the public puzzled as to the procedure and steps taken to arrive at the resolution.

“It is on the above basis that we are making this request, as we believe that the records and details of the said resolution made available will aid the investigations of our organisation, thus this application is brought pursuant to the provisions of Section 2, 3, and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

“We look forward to your utmost cooperation and the prompt response to this requested information and in any event, within seven (7) days of the receipt of this application as provided for under the Freedom of Information Act.”

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Police Chase Away Pro-Onnoghen Protesters From CCT

14 January 2019 - 4:56am


A group under the auspices of Advocate for Peoples' Rights and Justice (APRJ) on Monday held a protest at the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja, asking the government to follow due process in the trial of Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Victor Giwa, coordinator of the group, maintained that the petition should be sent to the National Judicial Commission (NJC), the body constitutionally empowered to discipline and sanction judicial officers.

He noted that if NJC finds him guilty, then disciplinary action would be issued before criminal charges can be instituted against him.

He said the government should do the right thing and "stop violating the law of land".

However, while they were still addresing journalists, security operatives moved in and asked them to leave the court premises.

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ASUU Strike And The Realities Of A Failed System By Joseph Olaoluwa

14 January 2019 - 4:31am


ASUU President Professor Biodun Ogunyemi

ASUU President Professor Biodun Ogunyemi

We have elected and we have chosen to elect people who do not have education. And because they are not educated, they cannot give education- Emir Sanusi Lamido, 2018

I have experienced two major strikes in my lifetime. The notable one amongst them was 10 years ago, back in 2009. It was my brother who had just gained admission. He spent 9 months at home in his sophomore year and that was the last the family had of public universities. He went on to a private school in the end. Mine was the next major experience; it was in 2013 I had my first six months strike. I was in sophomore year too. And the first three months were hell until I went out to look for something doing before the strike later ended. But that was not the first experience I had of the strike, for the remainder of four years, it was from one strike to another and then to another.

In other countries like Singapore for example, education is the best legacy you can give a child. Niyi, my very progressive friend was opportune to be there for a business idea competition for more than half of a semester in our third year in University. He told me the professors were the ones that implemented policies based on their theses. For the people of Singapore, Niyi noted, they relied so much on undergraduate theses that they consider several tons of research in rebuilding their economy. “It is actually the lecturers that build houses, transform the power sector and run the economy based on their research predictions and the Government, actually support them; giving the student that worked on that particular project the funds needed and a professor to play oversight,” Niyi said. This is a statement I have held on to since 2015 we had this conversation.

But cast your lens to Nigeria and you most probably frown and cross your legs. This is Nigeria where your thesis is sold to the akara woman down the street for say #50 or maybe a hundred naira. And if you are truly diligent enough to read that scrap of paper where your fried potato, or buns is being wrapped, you find a literature review that took someone months to write and re-write. In Nigeria, the imagery of a final year project or thesis is like that popular Facebook picture that showed tons of undergraduate bound project backs containing nothing less than 40 pages of mass intellectual work being thrown to waste by the roadside as thrash. It is the reason why someone would misplace his NYSC discharge certificate or degree certificate like I once saw on Twitter, squeezed and roughened into a ball like a scrap of paper- worthless, depicting the imagery of a failed system and a waste of valuable 4 or 5 years with the variable of an ”x” because you don’t know how many ASUU strikes will be required before your course eventually ends. 

ASUU strike can actually end today if the Government so wishes. How much are they demanding really? 1.5 trillion naira as revitalisation for all Federal Universities which should have been paid between 2009- 2011 with #472,031,575,919 for 2009; #497,531,778,701 for 2010; and #548,768,190,681 in 2011, all totalling #1, 518, 331, 545, 304. In addition to that is N3,680,018 per student for all State Owned Universities in the same 2009- 2011 period. Where #1,144,075 will be paid for 2009; #1,205,880 for 2010; and #1,330,063 in 2011. All of these totals to N3,680,018 approximated for State Universities. These amounts include Recurrent and Capital Grants, and are based mainly on the disaggregated returns from the universities. All of these facts are obtained from the detailed Federal Government and ASUU detailed agreement, dated January 2009.

You want to know the truth? Like the absolute heart piercing truth? We can pay this money. In 2018, we recovered 329 million dollars Abacha loot; add that to the 2.1 billion dollars Colonel Sambo Dasuki arms deal recovery. Do you know how enormous 329 million dollars is? Or how big 2.1 billion will be when converted to naira altogether? Wouldn’t that be enough to quell the ASUU back and forth? Not to add the numerous monies this current administration has been recovering from one politician to another. ASUU is demanding for a lot, that I know but if you read the detailed Federal Government and ASUU agreement, and you were a civil servant demanding #30,000 minimum wage, or better still a lecturer, or perhaps you by any means put yourself in their shoes just for a day, you will realise that they are not overdoing it.

Their detailed agreement cannot be surmised in one piece but I will give you a hint. It involves earned academic allowances per student over a session, a national pension scheme, insurance, car allowances, tenure-housing and a long line of well-deserved benefits. Even the bible says: “the soul that waters shall be watered.” Just like the Politicians you are clamouring for are feeding fat off your income taxes, and VATs on every commodity you buy, as well as theagberos, feeding fat on your transport fare, so should ASUU feed fat over the stress of taking several classes in a day and explaining hours after hours. They put in research in a failed system and still try to groom you, the best you can do for them is make living for them better so they can be accountable and not fall to bribery or the cheap advances of sex-for-marks and become a victim of their greed or the circumstance this country and the system has put them.

This is an agreement that dates as far back as 1992. It is not a new agreement. It is a struggle that took late Professor Festus Iyayi’s life, an agreement that has been remodelled since 1992, till 2001, 2009, 2012, 2013 and finally 2017. This is the fun part. In 2017, after signing series of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to no avail, they followed the change mantra of the APC Government and hoped that changing the name of their agreement will probably make the government listen to their pleas of taking ASUU to the Next Level. So they opted for a Memorandum of Action (MoA), which is the same agreement but a semantic change of name to pressure the government. This is ironic and hilarious, noting that APC (All Progressive Congress) was once Action Congress (AC) before now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which APC replaced as (All Progressive Congress). But like a rock, unwilling to be moved, the Buhari led Government turned a deaf ear to all their pleas, refusing to fulfil their own part and for 27 years, the past Governments have successfully deceived and dribbled the grey haired ASUU men.

Someone would ask why ASUU demands for a revitalisation would gulp many funds. Here is why:

(i) The key to the survival of our country in the 21st Century lies in its ability to produce applied and theoretical knowledge in science, technology and the humanities; and (ii) The task of revitalizing and accelerating the development of the Nigerian University system to become internationally competitive can no longer be delayed, more so if Nigeria is to become a leading economy in the world within the next ten years or so as desired by the Government. (Federal Government and ASUU detailed agreement, 2009.)

We know our education system is bad, worse even and that is why the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) did their due diligence, ran an in-depth research on how much will be needed to serve as a quick fix to the ailing academic system, and dearth of equipment that will enhance education for our teeming under-16 year olds suddenly passing JAMB and making their way to school. Okay, say 1.5 trillion naira is too much for the Federal Universities, Tade Oludayo, a Vanguardcolumnist in his article ASUU strike, issues in contentionpleaded for a modest revitalisation at most. One that will gulp 1.3 trillion naira at the very least! The analogy is that if they can pay 220 billion in five years from 2013, we should have gotten nothing less than 1.3 trillion naira to quell the ASUU strike. But the Government is unperturbed that they lied in 2017 to have released 20 billion naira to ASUU when in actual fact, they released nothing.

It is saddening that in the 21stcentury and in 2019 for that matter, more than 2 decades down the line, we still experience strikes in the education based on the Government’s insincerity. ASUU has proven one thing- they are consistent, consistently revamping a 27 old agreement that means well for the progress of the country where the Government cannot see potential in education and continues to allocate 7% to education- less than 500 billion naira to an ever dynamic population that is youth driven and even powerful enough to decide the polls come February 2019. INEC data shows youths between 18-35 a strong 51.11% and the student population 26.5%, numbering 22.3 million, close to doubling the farmers population which stands at 16. 23% - a staggering 13.6 million. Yet the government has continually fallen low of UNESCO standards who suggest a modest allocation of 26% of the total budget to education as the best legacy any child could have. 

Neighbouring African Nations like Ghana give a modest 15.3% of their budget to Education with Botswana exceeding the UNESCO’s quota by offering 28.8% of their budget to Education. The future they say belongs to the youths, who should not be deprived education as a sustainable legacy. How then do we hope to solve our numerous problems if not through research?

Maybe Emir Lamido Sanusi is right. Not many people are like Niyi who was opportune to go to Singapore to see things for himself and appreciate the quality of education. We have elected and have chosen to elect people who do not have education and we will pay dearly for it. You can’t give what you don’t have and you won’t necessarily understand the value of education if your ascension to office as President is an ordinary WAEC certificate that is fraught by allegations, counter-claims, deceit, and maybe fraud. Yet some graduates are still roaming the streets with a Master degree but no job! We may also need to check the grades of the President closely and see how well he did in those subjects while questioning his grin when the Military finally released his certificate. Then, we should juxtapose these things with his cabinet and score card over the past three years to know if truly if, he deserves to be elected for second term or he was just fulfilling a boy hood dream to rule Nigeria in the present, past and future. 

In all of these things, the number of people writing JAMB is constantly on the rise. In 2018, 1.6 million Nigerian students registered for JAMB with 94% of that population opting for public schools and a meagre 6% choosing to stake their choices with Private Universities. A quick look through the top ten most wanted schools are Universities of repute ranging from UNILORIN, to University of Ibadan, UNILAG, Ahamadu Bello University, UNIBEN, Obafemi Awolowo University, Bayero University and UNIJOS. It is obvious our poor masses cannot afford the tuition a private school offers however, the choices for choosing a Public University ranges from desire, to high ethical standards, quality education and a smooth academic calendar, no wonder Obafemi Awolowo University has suddenly fallen off that list as a favourite institution in the top three.

To be very candid, the joys of going to a Federal University because of low tuition abounds no more. The last time I spoke to Abiodun, a Final Year Student of Obafemi Awolowo University, I told him my fear was for my brother who was still stuck in the University and my sister would also go through this tumultuous system. The latest now is that the cost of education has taken a huge spike. Though, this claim is still highly probable. Last year, the news we heard was tertiary education will now range between #350,000 to #500,000 (though ASUU blatantly rejected it then). I still remember that Ambode won his Governorship ticket to Lagos State in 2015 by reversing the school fee to the original standard of #25,000 for LASU Students which was still a huge struggle for a couple of parents to afford.

I paid the sum of #20,050 in the last three years I spent at school. Add that to the #40,000 I paid as a freshman. Altogether, I didn’t pay above the sum of #150,000 as a graduate of Great Ife. Yet as small as that amount was, many parents still struggled to pay their children fees and the Government once planned to throw the masses into more penury by insisting on an increment of tertiary university fees when they can’t even pay #30,000 minimum wage. Tell me how the masses will cope if they cannot effectively pay #20,050 how much more #350,000? Liberia now has free education for tertiary institutions. Liberia as a people, a country, a nation or even as regards the revenue they might be producing are not anywhere close Nigeria but they have free tertiary education now and our Government cannot sign a simple agreement and keep to it.

Let me tell you what that makes us. It makes us a country of half-baked graduates. I spent five years in school for a course that would have taken just three and a half years. No four year course finishes exactly four years, some people even spend three years plus, some just three years and no more. But the more you delay a particular course with strike, the students will get tired and the zeal to chase academic relevance will be no more, this is why Nigeria students have gone into vices like prostitution, runs, fraud and most especially Yahoo Plus. Now they use girls undies to enhance their cyber businesses so they can buy Benz. Would you blame them really? No you shouldn’t. Nigeria has shown us that education no longer pays and so, even after bagging a Ph.D., you might not still make headway. That is why depression, anxiety and fear have become the order of the day with the students doing all sorts of ventures because they have seen that the labour market no longer favours them. 

If you can’t graduate and serve before 26 in Nigeria, you might never truly get that job of your dreams again but ASUU will continually strike. And it is not like the quality of education of Nigeria is good. Most of the theories are old, antique and anachronistic, so even when you struggle to serve and apply for that job, you may have to be retrained. The Nigerian system does not allow for work study or high level internship and exchanges. If you must become a professional, you have to beg for it. 

The school should provide a bridge between school life and real life by working on partnerships with firms and other affiliate bodies but this is Nigeria, the system is a failed system and the grim realities will always linger. ASUU may win this fight and be victorious in the end, or they may not but this numerous strikes are no fault of theirs. Just like you can’t blame Labour for demanding a pay raise; ASUU are fighting for their right which is necessary and important. 

That is why there is a NANS- A National Association of Nigerian Students fighting for the students rights. Unlike the vibrant NANS of yesteryears, the current leadership would rather shake hands with president, collect a few thousands and say the issue is still in the works. Customise their cars with NANS plate number and lavish the funds for the generality of Nigerian students wantonly. 

Let me tell you what will happen when ASUU strike is over. Girls will throw engagement parties and brandish the lavender sent of wedding invites to lecture halls, some would have done introductions, others pregnant, a few of them already married, the young men would have wasted the break doing nothing tangible with their lives and the next few years, in the future, history will repeat itself. Then, you would turn and ask yourself, “God when will all these be finally over?”

 

Opinion AddThis :  Original Author :  Joseph Olaoluwa Disable advertisements : 
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This Looming Pre-Electoral Violence By Abdullah Abdulganiy

14 January 2019 - 4:26am


Again, it is that time of every four years in Nigeria when the polity is heated. Barely few days to the general election, the phenomenon of pre-electoral violence is recurring, and at a very alarming rate. This is definitely not the way to go. This has again brought to the fore the negativity of our political culture in Nigeria. This is not too good for a democracy gasping heavily for breath. One just needs to ask why our politicians cannot do without instigating violence prior to the electioneering period.

It is few days to the election, campaigns have become more pronounced. Well, this should not catch one who is versed with how things work in the Nigerian political terrain unawares. The campaign is fundamental and essential in every democracy. In fact, modern democracies cannot divorce campaigns from their democratic endeavours. By it, the people tend to understand what the aspirants have in store for them, and thus separate the wheat from the chaff. It will, however, be undemocratic to see campaigns marred by violence. It speaks to how undemocratic our democracy is.

News has been flying around as to how several campaigns have been marred by attacks. In Ogun State, an APC rally was reportedly halted by violent attacks unleashed at the teeming members and the gubernatorial candidate, Mr Dapo Abiodun, allegedly by hoodlums sponsored by the opposition. The case of Kwara is more spectacular. Allegations have been coming from both sides of the political divides (PDP and APC). For instance, the APC embarked on a rally at the tail of last week. The rally did not endure as it was allegedly marred by thugs of the main opposition party. The PDP, trust it, had debunked the claim of the APC and had been presenting itself as the main victim of the attack.

Obviously, the two parties cannot be telling the lie and the truth at the same time. We, objective observers, have been thrown into a state of confusion as the PDP national leader, Dr Bukola Saraki, was seen paying a visit to the acclaimed victims of the dastard attack. The APC would also not admit guilt. Mr Otoge himself, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq was spotted in Ilorin general hospital sympathizing with whom were said to be victims of the same attack. Puzzling.

Robert Evans said that there are always three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth. The truth of the matter is that the members of a party started the attack, and those of the other party went for a reprisal attack resulting in casualties ON BOTH SIDES. Sadly, in all these, the masses were at the receiving end. Saraki is still very much hale and hearty. Abdulrasaq won’t lose sleep because of the development. But there you are groaning in severe pains on your sickbed. Shame.

I may be wrong, but I cannot go on a rally with a politician or a political party. When pandemonium erupts, the one we risked our lives for will be flown away instantly, and there we are at the mercy of God. You wouldn’t find their children in the rally. How is that possible while they are abroad studying? Even, when they attend the rally, they will be in a car guarded by four to six police officers. Of course, we all deserve to be treated equally. Or is there a crime in being an ordinary citizen? We all are entitled to maximum security.

At this juncture, one may be forced to ask what the duty of the Nigerian police is. Enough of running after armless citizens, the armed ones who unleash terror are on rampage. About two to three of my facebook friends had suggested that political rallies be stopped for the main time. But is that the way to go? In a country that has police force. Not too good. However, when we take a critical look at the hopelessness of the Nigerian police today, we may be left with no choice than to side with them. 

As an aside: I was in a central mosque last week. Then the cacophony of noise coming from the female side made everyone picked race. What came to virtually everyone’s mind must have been Boko Haram with the manner at which people scampered for safety. How does this connect? The men of the Anti-Bomb squad assigned to this central mosque too were on their heels surprisingly. Afterwards, we came to realize that it was a lizard that had pursued our sisters from the mosque. Ludicrous. This is how hapless the situation is. I had wanted to suggest that policemen should always monitor political campaigns and rallies. But I later shrugged that off. Hapless indeed.

Abdullah is of the better-by-far University of Ilorin. Reach him via 08090637356.

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BREAKING: CCT Adjourns Onnoghen’s Trial Till January 22

14 January 2019 - 3:32am

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has adjourned the trial of Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), till Tuesday January 22, 2019.

Onnoghen is standing trial over charges related to alleged fraudulent declaration of assets.

The trial of the CJN had commenced earlier on Monday and Onnoghen was not present before the Honourable Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to answer a six-count charge filed against him by the Nigerian government.

The trial commenced at exactly 10am when the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, and two other members entered the courtroom.

At the hearing of the case, Wole Olanipekun (Senior Advocate of Nigeria), who led the defence counsel comprising 42 other Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) and dozens of other lawyers, said the reason for Onnoghen's non-appearance was because he wasn't properly served.

Shortly after announcing his appearance, Olanipekun informed the court of the defendant's interlocutory application challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT to hear the matter. He argued that service of the charge was not effected on Justice Onnoghen, insisting that the whole process was defective and that the CJN cannot be in court when he has challenged the validity of the proceeding.

Olanipekun stated that the defendant was not served personally as required by law, adding that they are not in court for arraignment, but to challenge the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the case. He asked the court to uphold the dignity of the law, noting that the case is a criminal one and the defendant must be personally served.

In his submission, Aliyu Umar (SAN), the prosecution counsel, told the court that the defendant directed the court officials who went to serve him to give the summons to his personal assistant.

Umar said they expected the defendant to tell the court that he was served, but he decided to tell the court that he was not served personally. He noted that if the defendant is demanding his right to be served personally, then they would oblige him that request and serve him.

The CCT eventually adjourned till January 22, 2019, for hearing on the motion challenging the court's jurisdiction to hear the case.

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BREAKING: CCT Begins Sitting In Onnoghen's Absence

14 January 2019 - 3:20am

The Code of Coduct Tribunal (CCT) has commenced hearing in the fraudulent asset declaration case instituted against Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who is absent from court.

The prosecution expressed worry over the non-appearance of the defendant in the court, noting that he was duly  served the processes.

Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who led the defence counsel, told the court that they were at the tribunal not for the arraignment of the case but on protest. He asked the tribunal to uphold the integrity of the court. See Also Corruption Nigeria's Chief Justice Onnoghen To Face Corruption, Assets Declaration Charges 0 Comments 5 Days Ago

However, the prosecution argued that the defendant should be served again in person through the court registrar. He added that that the defendant should be in court before protesting over the jurisdiction of the court weither to hear the case.  See Also Corruption FLASHBACK: Five Times Onnoghen’s Accuser Proved Himself Buhari’s Main Man 0 Comments 4 Days Ago

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) filed a six-count charge borderong on false asset declaration against Onnoghen at the CCT after receiving a petition from a civil society group, the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), headed by Dennish Aghanya, whom SaharaReporters subsequently confirmed to be Buhari's ally.

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#Otoge vs #SetLagosFree; Between A Street Revolt And A Twitter Revolt By Obajeun Jonah Ayodele

14 January 2019 - 2:26am


The chilly politics of elections is fast reaching its crescendo. For the first time in Nigeria’s political history, the electioneering process is characterised with heavily demonetized campaigns even as players watch campaign spending with sullen silence. Political investors are punching calculators and are taking stock.

The issue this time is the political freedom fighters in Lagos and in Kwara. These two States connote different things to the competing political blocs. While the street is being mobilized behind #Otoge (meaning enough is enough) in Kwara, the front-liners in Lagos are battling with their agenda to #SetLagosFree.

#SetLagosFree – Lagos State

Led by the highly perspective Jimi Agbaje, the revolt in Lagos against the establishment does not look like a movement that has taken off. Agbaje has launched his campaign on the backdrop of the argument of freeing Lagos from the grip of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. To Agbaje, Lagos is far from where it should be and until Lagos is set free, the State would continue to wallow in despair.

With the benefit of hindsight, Agbaje does not seem to be a good student of history or at least, a reader of moments. Revolution requires a longer view of history which cannot be accessed in the din and devastation of immediate battle that Agbaje has plunged himself into.

Agbaje has made the election between him and Tinubu, who is arguably one of the most influential politicians in the country. An absentee politician, pundits have posited that Agbaje has failed to brand himself as the needed warrior at the battleground. More so that he is fighting a battle against an opponent that is not at the theatre of war.

Agbaje has abandoned the campaign strategy that saw him almost springing a surprise in the 2015 elections, leaving loopholes for his political adversaries to feast one. He wants to make history by his own choice, but this is a usurpation of the powers of history. In a revolution, history makes choices available.

People make history but not under the circumstances of their choice. This truism remains as valid as ever. It is also a historic certitude that individuals often fight valiantly and heroically for a cause only to find that what they have fought for is not quite what has happened. It is then left for the struggle to resume in other frameworks.

Agbaje’s #SetLagosFree does not seem to resonate with the people. It is at best a movement on twitter, it lacks street credibility.

#Otoge – Kwara State

A relatively agrarian State with moderately ambitious natives, Kwara State was created in 1967 when Yakubu Gown broke the Federation’s four regions into 12 States. In 1976, the Ida/Dekina part of Kwara was carved out and merged with Benue/Plateau State to form Benue State. In 1991, five Local Government Areas (Oyi, Yagba, Okene, Okehi, Kogi) were excised from Kwara to form part of the new Kogi State while Borgu LGA was merged with Niger State.

Fast forward to today, there is a growing cry for a change in political hegemony. The Sarakis have always determined the political direction of the State, but for the choices made available by history when Bukola Saraki moved his political arsenal from APC to PDP.

Interestingly, natives latched on this historic opportunity to lead the fight from the front. The uprising has turned the sing-song #Otoge to the language of the street.

Unlike #SetLagosFree, #Otoge does not have a face to it. The face of #Otoge is the street, not even the gubernatorial candidate of the opposition party, APC in the State can lay claim. The street has taken over the campaign. The front-runners don’t belong to themselves anymore, they now belong to the warm embrace of the movement.

In every corner of Ilorin, there is frenetic fury, an unquenchable rage to end the reign of the Sarakis. To the natives, this is an opportunity to make a detour and redefine the political configuration of the State.

Unless there is some political magic in the offing, a demographic earthquake which reconfigures existing balance of electoral forces in favour of the passive mass of boiling youth of Kwara extraction and the radically disaffected, the political direction of Kwara is almost clear.

The tempest in Kwara is not showing any sign of retreat. In all likelihood, and without any ill-will towards whoever wins the forthcoming election in the State, the #Otoge storm is likely to proceed at furious pace. This is because what faces Kwarans is a fundamental systemic gridlock. #Otoge is a quest for a societal re-engineering!

Obajeun Jonah Ayodele writes from Lagos. He is on twitter @Obajeun

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BREAKING: Security Beefed Up At CCT Ahead of Onnoghen's Arraignment

14 January 2019 - 2:03am


Security has been beefed up at the premises of the Conduct of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja ahead of the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, who is facing trial over fraudulent declaration of assets.

Armed policemen have been stationed at strategic positions around the court to preventing a possible breakdown of law and order. 

Onnoghen is expected to appear before the court any moment, as a consortium of lawyers who have volunteered to defend him are already in court.

Justice Onnoghen is facing six charges bordering on failure to declare his assets and operating a domiciliary account, among other charges.

About 70 Senior Advocate of Nigeria  (SAN) are already in court. Among of them are: Wole Olanipekun,  Adegboyega Awomolo, Yusuf Alli, Uche Chris, Kanu Agabi and others.

Dennis Aghanya, Executive Secretary of the Anti-corruption Research Data-Based Initiative (ARDBI), filed a petition before the tribunal.

There has been public outrage against the planned trial and many Nigerians have condemned the action.

As of the time of this report, it is not clear if Onnoghen will appear before the tribunal or not.

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The Chief Justice Of Nigeria In The Eye Of The Storm By Stanley Imhanruor

14 January 2019 - 12:57am


The planned arraignment of the highly revered Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Honourable Justice Walter Annoghen has understandably attracted mixed reactions across the country with some persons describing the move as outright witch hunt and intimidation by the executive arm of government against the judiciary ahead of the 2019 election and some others stating that it is a sign that no man is above the law. This intervention does not seek to address the purported witch hunt (if any) or the innocence or otherwise of the respected CJN. It merely attempts to briefly examine the legal regime in the circumstance.  

The propriety of subjecting a sitting judicial officer to a criminal trial in our courts has since been rested by the Court of Appeal in the case of Nganjiwa V. FRN (2017) LPELR  - 43391 (C.A), where the court stated unequivocally  as follows: 

“…Whenever a breach of judicial oath occurs, it is a misconduct itself, then the NJC is the appropriate body to investigate such breaches by the judicial officer and if found to be so, such judicial officer shall face disciplinary action and the NJC may recommend the removal of such a judicial officer to the appropriate authority which is either the President in the case of a Federal Judicial Officer or the Governor of the State in the case of a State Judicial Officer and/or take other actions appropriately. When this is done and accepted by the appropriate authority in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution, then the relevant law enforcement Agent or Agency is at liberty to make the said judicial officer face the wrath of the law. Any act done by the law enforcement Agent or Agency in violation of the above, is tantamount to denying the NJC its powers to discipline Judges in accordance with the provisions of Section 153(1) and Paragraph 21 Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). See Paragraph 21 (a) & (b) of the Third Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) respectively. Whenever there is an allegation of official misconduct against a judicial officer and the above stated process is not adhered to, it amounts to jumping the gun and ipso facto a direct violation of the Constitution. Recourse to the National Judicial Council is a condition precedent as clearly set out by the Constitution, and any attempt by any Agency of Government to by-pass the Council will amount to failure to observe condition precedent thereby leading to flagrant violation of the Constitution? I have examined the Charge which is mainly made up of 13 allegations of corruption allegedly committed by the Appellant as a sitting Judge of the Federal High Court and the last count relates to statements made to the EFCC during investigation. It is obvious from the various counts that the Appellant is purportedly being charged with "unlawful enrichment by Public Officer..." while being a Judge of the Federal High Court. It must be expressly stated that if a judicial officer commits theft, fraud, murder or manslaughter, arson and the likes, which are crimes committed outside the scope of the performance of his official functions, he may be arrested, interrogated and prosecuted accordingly by the State DIRECTLY without recourse to the NJC. These classes of criminal acts are not envisaged and captured by the provisions of Paragraph 21, Part 1 of the Third Schedule. On the other hand, if any Judicial Officer commits a professional misconduct within the scope of his dutyand is investigated, arrested and subsequently prosecuted by security agents without a formal complaint/report to the NJC, it will be a usurpation of the latter's constitutionally guaranteed powers under Section 158 and Paragraph 21 Part 1 of the Third Schedule, thereby inhibiting, and interfering with and obstructing the NJC from carrying out its disciplinary control over erring judicial officers as clearly provided by the Constitution. This will thus amount to a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed independence of (a fundamental component) of the judiciary. See ELELU - HABEEB & ANOR v A.G. FEDERATION (supra).” 

With fraud stated as one of the exceptions to the rule in Nganjiwa V. FRN (supra), the natural instinct is for anyone to conclude that once particulars of fraud are mentioned in any charge the general rule in Nganjiwa V. FRN (supra) must blow muted trumpet. Fraud is defined as wrongful and criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. Acts of corruption are also fraudulent acts.  The infractions listed in the charges against the CJN border on his purported failure to declare his asset as a judicial officer. Does the purported failure fall within the exceptions in Nganjiwa V. FRN (supra)?

Interestingly, the Court of Appeal further held in that case as follows: 

“This underscores the point that the NJC is not a Court trying criminal matters. Far from it! In OPENE v NJC (supra}, this Court, per GALINJE, JCA said at pages 40 - 50 paras A - F made it clear on whether the NJC had powers to investigate and prove criminal allegations against judicial Officers that: "...The word misconduct used as a reason for removal of Judicial Officer is known to those who framed the Constitution to be a criminal offence and yet the responsibility to recommend to the President, the removal of such officer is given to the National Judicial Council. If the Constitution intended that such misconduct must be subject to trial by Court it would have said so ... rather the Constitution gave the court power to try criminal offences also gave the NJC power to investigate allegations of misconduct against Judicial Officers and make recommendations for their removal. It is my firm view that the procedure adopted by the NJC is sustainable... The Appellant has constitutional power to investigate the criminal allegations made against the Appellant and to make a finding that the allegations are proved..."… All I have been saying is that a combined reading of Section 6, 153, 158, 292(1) and Paragraph 21 (b) of Third Schedule of 1999 Constitution (as amended) is to the effect that no authority can interfere with or direct the exercise of the powers of the NJC without having shown that the NJC has concluded its investigation.NJC is the sole body empowered by the Constitution to determine allegations of misconduct against judicial officers even on criminal allegations of bribery and corruption made against its officers.”

The underlining in the above quoted reference is done advisedly. It is therefore baffling that notwithstanding the unequivocal decision in Nganjiwa V. FRN (supra) the Federal Government through the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) chose to file criminal charges against the CJN without first lodging a complaint against the CJN with the National Judicial Council (NJC). From the charge sheet already in the public space, one wonders how the instant case falls outside the purview of the judicial adjuration in Nganjiwa V. FRN (supra) to warrant the planned arraignment of the CJN at the CCT. 

Granted, the decision in Nganjiwa V. FRN (supra) may somewhat  pass for judicial immunity for judicial officers against criminal prosecution until the NJC gives the green light for their prosecution, but we have no choice in this matter than to live with that decision until the Supreme Court decides otherwise. After all, in this same Nganjiwa V. FRN (supra), the Lagos State High Court had in its rulingdelivered on 23rd June, 2017 held that recourse to the NJC was not a condition precedent for preferring criminal charges against a sitting judge before same was subsequently upturned by the Court of Appeal.

In reality, the law is not what the legislature says it is by the dry letters of the law. The law is what the court says it is. In the case of Adegoke Motors v.  Adesanya (1983) 3 NWLR (Pt. 109) 250 @ 274 -275, Oputa JSC fondly called the Socrates of the Supreme Court and the philosopher - judge said of the Supreme Court thus:

“We are final not because we are infallible, rather we are infallible because we are final”.  

The import of the above judicial imprint by Oputa JSC (whom I refuse to refer to in past tense having gloriously joined his ancestors) is that the Supreme Court could err in its decision, but even at that the decision remains final and binding on all persons and authorities. Ipso facto, the decision of the Court of Appeal is binding on all persons and authorities including the CCT until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.

Query: Who gave the legal advice that culminated in this whole legal drama?  Was the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) in the know of the charges before same were filed? I am tempted to believe that the AGF was not in the know of the charges otherwise he likely would have advised against this very approach in proceeding against the CJN in view of the decision in Nganjiwa V. FRN (supra). 

However, the AGF will have the opportunity to clear the doubt if he fails to intervene by dropping the charges or entering a nolle prosequi (if the planned arraignment takes place) and thereafter advise that a formal complaint be forwarded to the NJC in that regard. 

This is because beyond the razzmatazz of arraignment, the charges may well be dead on arrival unless the Supreme Court upturns the Court of Appeal decision in Nganjiwa V. FRN (supra) before the expected preliminary objection by the defence is pronounced upon by the CCT that is BOUND to follow the decision of the Court of Appeal. Therefore, this is a clear case of premature prosecutorial ejaculation. 

The likely apprehension that the CJN is the head of the NJC vested with the powers to discipline erring judicial officers is not sufficient basis to want to side step the due process of law as declared by the Court of Appeal in the circumstance. The CJN will definitely not be part of the NJC’s panel that will handle any complaint that maybe lodged with the NJC against him.   

All over the world, there is no perfect system. Every system is a work in progress and Nigeria will not be an exception.  

Stanley Imhanruor Esq.

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Army/Daily Trust: On Responsible Security Reporting By Emmanuel Onwubiko

14 January 2019 - 12:42am


Introduction: The right to information is a component of the broader right to freedom of expression and of press enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1984(UDHR). Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights1966 (ICCPR) Article 9 of African Charter on Human and People's 

Rights, 1981(ACHPR) and other international human rights instruments.

Nigeria is one of the few countries in Africa that has a constitutional provision guaranteeing access to information and a specific law which further reinforces the provision with procedures and penalties for non-compliance in the freedom of Information (FoIA) which was passed in May, 2011.

Section 34(1) of the C.F.R.N 1999, which states that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference". 

Section 39 of the C.F.R.N 1999, on the right to access to information. Notwithstanding, Section 39(1) of the CFRN 1999 sufficient legal basis exists, which guarantees access to information which are vital to the smooth function of democracy. A positive state obligation to protect access to information pursuant to Article 9 of the African Charter which has been domesticated as Nigerian Law. This gives effect to the original intent of the Constitution as a living document.

Sensitivity of National Security vis a vis right to freedom of Information.

The Official Secrets Act 1962 and the National Security Agencies Act 1986- Two main statues which permit limitations on access to information. According to Section 39(3) and Section 45(1) of the CFRN 1999 " the limitations must be "reasonably" justifiable in a democratic society. The challenge arises when information is sought to be restricted either on general grounds of public interest under the FoIA 2011 or on the more specific basis of National Security under the National Security Agencies Act, or for some other reasons permitted by other statutes.

Moreover, "National Security" has no precise meaning in Nigerian Law. And it has not helped that the constitution broadly confers power on these Agencies to limit access to information in the interest of Defense, without clearly specifying the test boy reasonable justification that the limitation must fulfil.  However "Classified Matter" provided by section 9 of the Official Secrets Act, which defines it as" any information or thing which under any system of security classification, from time to time in use by or by any branch of government is not to be disclosed to the public and of which the disclosure to the public would be prejudicial to the secret of Nigeria".

The problem with the statutes is that the are extremely vaguely worded and conform extraordinary broad powers agencies that are saddled with the responsibility of classifying information. As a result, the power to classify information in the interest of National Security has been broadly abused in Nigeria; it has fostered secrecy around Government activities and has been used as a ploy for Official Corruption, to limit press freedom and other civil liberties. See a few instances of judicial exposition on the legality of limitations on access to information in Nigeria can be found in sedition cases. The most prominent of these are; DPP V CHIKEOBI (1961) All NLR 186, and ARTHUR NWANKWO V THE STATE (1983) FRN 320, there has been no authoritative pronouncements on the subject by Nigeria's Apex Court. The interpretative approach to Constitutional provisions thus remains underdeveloped and uncertain. Nonetheless, sedition laws continue to be asserted by the Nigerian Government against press freedoms especially.

In conclusion, reasons for the prominence given to the right to access to Government-held information is essential for the health of democracy. The quality of democratic Governance is improved and strengthened by public participation in decision making processes. But in itself, public participation cannot be effective access to information. Moreover, a legally enforceable right to Government held information will enhance efficiency and accountability, and boost public confidence in Government, in other words Government-held information actually belongs to the people, unfortunately, the people's ability to access such information is often impeded by the traditional reluctance of Government Agencies to release information in their possession.

This writer is monitoring the development regarding the reported invasion of the Premises of the national office of Daily Trust Newspapers in Abuja and its regional office in Maiduguri in Borno State few days back.

At first when my attention was called to it I expressed shock that this could happen in an era whereby the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant  General  Tukur Yusuf Buratai  has entered the annals of our national history as the head of the Army that significantly  improved relations between the civilian and military citizens in Nigeria with the institutionalization of a full department to coordinate civil and military relations which is headed by a senior General with offices spread across all the command structures of the military establishment.  

The current Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf it was who entered into partnership with numerous credible civil society platforms and professional groups aimed at the mainstreaming of the respect of the fundamental human rights in the organizational and modus vivendi/operandi of the Nigerian Army. 

So when this information reached my desk, I made extensive contacts with people who should know in and out of government institutions and I learnt that a certain report detailing a planned internal military operations by the Nigerian military in the ongoing Counter terrorism war may have caused the badblood between the usually friendly Nigerian Army and the ever responsible media in Nigeria. 

This writer acknowledges that the Daily Trust is one amongst the very best in terms of professionalism and ethical conducts in carrying out their jobs. Indeed, most media analysts rate the Daily Trust as one of the very few Newspaper institutions that have supported the current administration and has consistently supported the ingoing counterterror war. This report detailing proposed military operations could have been avoided in the interest of national security and in line with the social responsibility role of the fourth estate of the realm. There are little doubts that the report may have destroyed the essence of the combat operations been panned by the Nigerian Army. The Nigerian Army we must admit has done so much and paid supreme sacrifices to work towards ensuring the preservation of the territorial integrity of Nigeria.  

“Recalled that there is the expert opinion that national security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic power, diplomacy, power projection and political power.”

“The concept developed mostly in the United States after World War II. Initially focusing on military might, it now encompasses a broad range of facets, all of which impinge on the non-military or economic security of the nation and the values espoused by the national society.”

Furthermore, “I hereby restate a universal view that in order to possess national security, a nation needs to possess economic security, energy security, environmental security.”

“Security threats involve not only conventional foes such as other nation-states but also non-state actors such as violent non-state actors, narcotic cartels, multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations; some authorities include natural disasters and events causing severe environmental damage in this category.”

“Measures taken to ensure national security include: using diplomacy to rally allies and isolate threats marshaling economic power to facilitate or compel cooperation maintaining effective armed forces implementing civil defense and emergency preparedness measures (including anti-terrorism legislation) ensuring the resilience and redundancy of critical infrastructure using intelligence services to detect and defeat or avoid threats and espionage, and to protect classified information using counterintelligence services or secret police to protect the nation from internal threats.”

On the same vein, I know that the media has a responsibility to inform, educate and entertain the citizenry and to check abuses in the polity. Both the media and military institutions are subject to rule of law.

As head of the Human rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), to therefore read in the middle of the Day that Men of the Nigerian Army invaded Daily Trust head office in Abuja after taking over the Newspaper’s regional office in Maiduguri, Borno state and arrested the regional editor, Uthman Abubakar and a reporter, Ibrahim Sawab indeed came to us as a rude shock. 

Take note that I have already mentioned that in the last three years the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army has demonstrated maturity and commitments towards domestication and mainstreaming of virtually all international human rights provisions into their operational manuals and that pragmatic efforts have been made by the hierarchy to ensure that the operatives respect the fundamental human rights of citizens and the soldiers.  Several indicted human rights violators have been sanctioned even as many more of such cases are in their different stages of adjudication through the instrumentality of internal conflict resolution mechanisms and the mechanics of the human rights investigative desks set up in all military formations by the Chief of Army staff under the supervision of the department of civil and military relations. 

The soldiers reportedly forced the gate open at the head office and drove in with three Jokic vans loaded with armed soldiers just as everyone in the building was asked to move to the ground floor while they move computers. We are making efforts to verify these accounts and to urge for restraints.  

The writer hereby urge the military authority to show greater restraint and embark on the search for legal and or amicable resolution of whatever conflict may have arisen between the military institution and the media. The media workers arrested should be released forthwith. 

It is a fact that section 22 of the 1999 constitution confers on the media the right to serve as ombudsmen and gatekeepers for the preservation of good governance and the respect of the fundamental human rights as enshrined in chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution but at the same time we acknowledge the strategic place of the military in line with section 217 of the Nigerian constitution in which case the territorial integrity of the Country ought to be protected by all means.

Section 22 of the Nigerian constitution stated thus: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”

Section 217 (1) and (2) stated:- “There shall be an armed forces for the federation which shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly; The federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of – defending Nigeria from external aggression; maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air; suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

The threat against the corporate existence of Nigeria by the armed terrorists of Boko Haram terrorists and other terrorist elements affiliated to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is grave so all hands ought to be on deck to defeat the terrorists once and for all. The media must guide against any sensational reportage that is capable of undermining or ruining the strategic operations of the gallant soldiers who bear the brunts of waging this war so that our lives can be preserved and protected. 

Although the Nigerian Army under the Constitution has no judicial powers of the federation which in section 6 is domiciled with the Judicial arm of the federation and therefore couldn't  have embarked on the use of measures that may be deemed as resorting to self-help measures rather than use the instruments of the laws to press charges, we think it is wrong professionally and a danger to the sanctity of our national security for the media to leak a planned military operation against a terror group that enjoys the backing of ISIS. 

The media must exercise the greatest discretion and report responsibly because the corporate health and existence of Nigeria is endangered and indeed we are indirectly in an era of enforced emergency created by the daredevil terrorist activities of boko haram terrorists. 

I would suggest that whatever professional sacrifices the media must give to preserve the sanctity of the territorial integrity of Nigeria and conserve national security must be done now that Nigeria faces the greatest threats against our very existence as a nation and a people. The haste to write sensational page 1 story to capture the imagination of buyers and advertisers must be mitigated by the urgency of the now to preserve our national security because if there is no Nigeria there will be no Nigerian media. 

This piece will not be complete without reminding the military hierarchy of the doctrine of compact which i know that Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf is vastly knowledgeable about.

Brigadier General T.E.C. Chiefe (Rtd) Ph.D, who is now late wrote, in his phenomenally rewarding legal book titled “Military law in Nigeria Under Democratic Rule”, that: “The soldier is part of the society and also a citizen. Being a soldier does not remove him from the society but puts on him a specially conjured status called ‘compact’. He enjoys all the rights of a citizen except those he surrenders by virtue of his being a soldier.”

“Upon acquisition of military status, both civil and military law govern him. In support of this position, Takai submits that “the soldier by becoming a soldier does not relinquish his identity or status as a citizen with the rights and obligations contained in the constitution. He remains subject both to the civil and military laws a situation described by some jurist as a compact.” This duality of status was aptly described in Grant v. Gould, where it was stated that a soldier does agree and consent that he shall be subject to the military discipline, and he cannot appeal to the civil courts to rescue him from his own compact.”

“The doctrine of compact was further explained by Justice Willes in Dawkins v. Lord Rokeby when he said “But with respect to persons who enter into the military state, who take His Majesty’s pay, and who consent to act under his commission, although they do not cease to be citizens in respect of responsibility, yet they do by a compact which is intelligible and which requires only the statement of it to the consideration of any one of common sense, become subject to military rule and discipline.” The Army and Media must synergize to serve the public interest of Nigeria. There should be no animosity.  

*Emmanuel Onwubiko, erstwhile Federal Commissioner of Nigerian National Human Rights Commission is head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs @ www.emmanuelonwubiko.com; www.huriwanigeria.com;www.huriwa.blogspot.com; www.thenigerianinsidernews.com. 

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NFF Charges Obono-Obla to Court

14 January 2019 - 12:38am


Obono-Obla

Obono-Obla

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has warned against persecution and public show trial of its officials by the Special Presidential Investigatory Panel (SPIP) on the recovery of public property, headed by Okoi Obona-Obla.

A statement by the NFF, through its lawyer, Mamman Nasir, over the weekend bemoaned the “orchestrated media campaign” against its officials and the use of an “online media mob” to promote the pre-determined media reportage of the activities of Obon-Obla and SPIP.

The statement read: “It must be pointed out that while these publications of the news of the warrant of arrest started on Wednesday, 9th January, 2019, the date on the face of the eventual published warrant unlawfully obtained from a magistrate’s court in Abuja is Thursday, 10th January, 2019.

“The obvious conclusion here is that some interested persons have an unrestrained and direct access to Chief Obono-Obla, and have thus secured a front row seat that allows them a pre-knowledge of all steps to be taken by Chief Obono-Obla and or SPIP, which they gleefully publish ahead of these steps.” 

The counsel to the NFF questioned why a warrant of arrest would be obtained from a magistrate court instead of a High Court as prescribed by the law setting up the SPIP.

“More grievous to the rights of our client and its officials is the fact that Chief Obono-Obla and SPIP went to secure a warrant of arrest from a magistrate court, contrary to the clear provisions of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, the law setting up the SPIP, that ONLY the Federal High Court is vested with the jurisdiction to issue warrants for the SPIP.

“It can only be concluded that this deviation was purposely to achieve the aim of avoiding the protection afforded everyone, including the affected NFF officials, under the same law that set up SPIP, which requires the SPIP to present a prima facie case to a judge of the Federal High Court to justify its case before a warrant of arrest may be issued under the hand of the judge"

Nasir, however, stated that he has filed a suit against the presidential panel in the FCT High Court, Abuja.

“Our client and the affected NFF officials have also taken the additional step to file a suit, FC/ABJ/CS/17/2019 at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division (the only court statutory conferred with jurisdiction over SPIP matters under the enabling act). The suit is to allow this whole sordid matter to be ventilated in the Court of the land and to check the oppression of our client and its officials.”

On Friday, four operatives of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on the Recovery of Public Properties had stormed the Nigeria Football Federation headquarters, popularly known as the Glass House, to effect the arrest warrant on NFF President, Amaju Pinnick and four other top NFF officials.

The Special Presidential Investigative Panel had obtained a warrant of arrest from a Magistrate Court last Tuesday for the  NFF President; First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi; Second Vice President, Shehu Dikko; NFF Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi and Ahmed Yusuf.

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Nigerian People — Not Cockroaches And Lizards — Deserve Housing, Says Sowore

14 January 2019 - 12:36am



Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, has condemned the prevalent state of uninhabited houses overtaken by cockroaches and lizards while Nigeria suffers from a deficit of 17 million home for its homeless population. 

He made the rebuke while speaking at a town hall meeting on Housing for Presidential candidates organized by the University of Lagos on Saturday. 

Asked whether he would privatize public housing infrastructure currently not in use, Sowore said: “I will not give anymore of our public properties to private individuals. What I’m going to do is to take inventory of all uninhabited public properties in Nigeria.

“The ones that can be converted into hospitals will be converted into hospitals, the ones that can be converted to houses will be converted to houses and given to workers, our federal workers. I want to turn the secretariat in Lagos to a hospital.”

Blaming the housing crisis in Nigeria on failed leadership,  Sowore described the Nigerian government as wasteful.

"If we do not reclaim these properties for the Nigerian people, they will end up in the hands of our ministers, political leaders and thieves," he said. "The Nigerian property should be used by the Nigerian people and this is what I will do when I am elected."

Drawing parallels with former third-world countries who overcame the housing problem, Sowore said: “China planned ahead and built houses that we now call ghost apartments, Japan did it and so did Singapore. Do not vote in leaders who took the roof over your heads, they have no intention to put it back  now.”

The event, organised by the University of Lagos on the state of the Nigerian Housing Market, was attended by presidential candidates of five political parties, including former Minister of Education by Ezekwesili and former Central Bank Of Nigeria Governor, Kingsley Moghalu.

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61 Political Parties Sue INEC, Claim Clauses In Election Guidelines Will Lead To Massive Rigging

14 January 2019 - 12:22am


Sixty-one political parties are prepared to file a suit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to challenge what they term “manipulated” 2019 election guidelines at a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday.

The parties alleged that INEC had inserted new clauses in the guidelines which they argued would lead to “massive rigging” of the elections in favour of the government in power if allowed to scale through.

Ikenga Ugochinyere, National Chairman of the Action Peoples Party (APP), who is also the National Secretary of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and spokesman for the 61 parties,  disclosed this in a statement released on Sunday evening

He said Section 155 of the Electoral Act gives political parties the power to challenge INEC’s election guidelines in court.

According to the statement, leaders of the political parties were set to pass a vote of no confidence in the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, if he decided to release the “controversial guidelines” today, without meeting with political parties for their input.

“Political parties predict 2019 pre-election crisis over INEC's unilateral decision to issue guidelines which do not promote election credibility. Political parties demand INEC's retention of the 2015 separate accreditation and separate voting system to avoid confusing voters due to closeness of polls.

“This move is to stop INEC from releasing the guidelines and also quash some sections of the draft guidelines which are in conflict with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, including the obnoxious provisions inserted into the guidelines which will lead to massive rigging of the 2019 elections,” he said.

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Health Workers In Kwara Commence Strike

14 January 2019 - 12:21am


Health Workers

The Joint Council of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Kwara State Council, has declared an indefinite strike beginning from today, Monday, January  14, 2019.

Joshua Adekanye and Muritala Saheed, chairmen of both organisations, said this in a joint statement.

They said the strike was due to the state government’s refusal to apply the 10 per cent CONHESS for state health workers at the local government level.

The statement read: “Arising from the Congress of Coalition of Health Sector Unions held at Nurses House, Ilorin on Thursday, the Congress has resolved to commence an indefinite strike on Monday, 14th January 2019, in all the local government areas of Kwara State.

“That all the state health facilities/hospitals, including the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture, should also join the strike as from Monday, 21st January 2019 to press home the implementation of the approved 10 per cent consolidated health salary structure for the workers at the councils."

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Melaye Charged To Court For Unlawful Possession Of Firearms

14 January 2019 - 12:18am


The Nigeria Police Force has filed a charge against Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West,  for alleged illegal  possession of firearms.

In the charge, which has been filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the Police said a pump-action gun was recovered from Melaye’s house in July last year  during a search of his property in Kogi State.

In the charge sheet, marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/07/2019, the Police said the offence contravened Section 27 of the Firearms Act.

The charge sheet read: “That you, Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West district in the 8th National Assembly, on or about the 20th day of July 2018, at about 12.30 hours under the jurisdiction of this honourable court, unlawfully had in your possession one automatic pump-action shotgun and 20 cartridges, which were recovered at your residence located in the Ayetoro Gbede area of Kogi State, when a search warrant was executed on the directives of the Nigeria Police Force at your above mentioned residence under your control and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(1)(a)(i) of the Firearms Act Cap F28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

The police also provided eight witnesses to attest to the charges which comprise six policemen and two men who were painting Melaye’s house when the policemen came to search the property.

They were identified as DSP Babagana Bukar, DSP Ibrahim Abalaka, ASP Abdullahi Musa, Inspector Atabo Okpanachi, Inspector Apeh Peter, Theophilus Nuhu, Matthew Anthony and ASP Mohammed Onu.

Theophilus Nuhu, a painter at Melaye's house wrote in his statement: “On July 24, 2018, my master, Peter, brought one Matthew Anthony and myself from Kaduna State to Kogi for painting work in which he took us to one Senator Dino Melaye’s house at Ayetoro, Gbede area of Kogi State.

“While we were doing the painting, policemen, comprising MOPOL, SARS and SCID, came in and met us in the compound and they told me they wanted to conduct a search in the compound and they started to search the compound.

“Within and around the boys’ quarters building, where some cars were parked, under the flower, a gun was observed there with many bullets, but I do not know who put the gun there.”

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Truck Carrying Rice That Caused Accident In Ekiti Not Ours, Says Dangote Group

14 January 2019 - 12:14am


The management of Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) has denied the report that it owned the truck conveying branded rice for the All Progressives Congress (APC). 

This was contained in a statement sent to media houses on Sunday. 

15 people lost their lives in the accident which occurred on Saturday night and eyewitnesses had claimed the truck belonged to the company.

The company, however, denied the claims.

The statement read: “While we commiserate with the families of the deceased and pray for God’s strength to bear the loss of their loved ones, it is important to state that the affected truck does not belong to our company.

“DIL does not import or produce rice for the market or for any individual or entity. Our trucks are also not meant to carry third-party goods as we have consistently requested the public to report any such illegal action by our drivers to us for monetary rewards.”

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INEC: 186,798 PVCs Unclaimed In Bayelsa

14 January 2019 - 12:12am


Cyril Omorogbe, the Bayelsa State Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said 186,798 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) have not been claimed in the state.

Omorogbe said this at the press briefing in the state on Sunday, noting that the commission would commence PVC distribution at ward level.

“We have received 295,318 PVCs. Of this, we have distributed 108,520 PVCs with a balance of 186,798 PVCs left. But the commission has commenced the distribution of PVCs at the various registration (ward) headquarters in the state to ameliorate the challenges face by coming to INEC offices in the local government areas to collect their PVCs," he said.

He urged all “registered voters who have not collected their PVCs, those who did transfers and also cases of defaced and lost PVCs to visit the town halls of their various ward headquarters to collect their PVCs".

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Activists Arrested For Demanding N50m Bribe To Withdraw Petition From EFCC

14 January 2019 - 12:10am


Herald Nigeria

Two human rights activists have been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly demanding a bribe from Wahum Nigeria Limited.

According to The Punch, Dandy Eze, President of the Path of Peace Initiatives, and one Solomon Johnson, approached Wahum Nigeria Limited in 2018 to demand N50million to help facilitate the withdrawal of a petition written against the company, which they claimed was being investigated by the EFCC.

The sum of N1million had already been collected by the duo as part payment through a First Bank account number 3081329952 operated by Johnson, according to investigation.

They were arraigned before a Lagos State Special Offences Court on four counts bordering on conspiracy to commit felony and acceptance of bribe to the tune of N50milliom.

The charges read: "That you, Dandy Eze, being the President of the Path of Peace Initiatives, and Solomon Johnson, on or about November 23, 2018, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, solicited the sum of N50m only as bribe in order to facilitate the withdrawal of a petition written against Wahum Nigeria Limited from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“That you, Dandy Eze, being the President of the Path of Peace Initiatives, and Solomon Johnson, on or about November 26, 2018, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, did accept the sum of N1m as bribe through the First Bank account number 3081329952 operated by Solomon Johnson from Wahum Nigeria Limited in order to facilitate the withdrawal of a petition written against Wahum Nigeria Limited from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In view of their plea, the prosecuting counsel, George Chia-Yakua, asked the court for a trial date and also prayed that the defendants be remanded in prison custody.

Counsel for the defendants, Terry Adeniji, told the court that he had just been briefed about the case. Adeniji, therefore, asked the court for a short date to enable him to file a proper bail application. He also prayed the court to remand the defendants in the EFCC custody.

Chia-Yakua responded and urged the court to refuse the prayer of the defence counsel to remand the defendants in the EFCC custody.

The presiding judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, adjourned the matter till February 14 and 15, 2019, for the hearing of the bail application and commencement of trial.

She, thereafter, remanded the suspects in prison custody.

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Onnoghen In The Den Of The Lions By ‘Fisayo Soyombo

14 January 2019 - 12:04am

There is nothing heartwarming about the expected arraignment, later today, of Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) on a six-count charge bordering on fraudulent asset declaration. It is not good for Onnoghen, it is not good for his profession, it is not good for the country, it is not good for his prosecutors. And, most importantly, it is not good for his persecutors.

In its twilight, Onnoghen’s 41-year legal career is on the line. If found guilty, the consequences are clear: “removal from office, disqualification… from holding any public office for a period not exceeding 10 years and seizure and forfeiture of the state of any property acquired…” At 68, Onnoghen cannot be perturbed about the latter two. But the disgrace of removal from office threatens to ruin all he spent his entire career building.

It isn’t good for the legal profession, which explains why many of the country’ most senior lawyers are livid with the Muhammadu Buhari administration, and why 150 senior advocates have already volunteered to defend him in court. Onnoghen’s prosecutors are in for a hard time, apparently. The SANS understand that the integrity of the legal profession is hanging in the balance. With Paul Usoro, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), battling N1.4billion fraud allegations preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the case against Onnoghen means the heads of both the bar and the bench are battling corruption allegations. The bar or the bench — which, then, can the people look to for anti-corruption inspiration?

Potential corruption convictions for the arrowheads of both the bar and the bench adds nothing to the credibility of any country’s judicial process, never mind one just four weeks away from a presidential election that promises to be the biggest test yet of its democratic maturation. These are signs the judiciary can’t be relied on in the lead-up to that election, and in the aftermath.

And for Onnoghen’s persecutors? They’re in for a sterner test than they bargained for. They probably didn’t know, when they were picking the man to do their hatchet job, that he would be found out so soon. Dennis Aghanya, Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), who filed the allegations against Onnoghen, has been unveiled as Buhari’s main man. One thing is clear: Onnoghen’s trial is not motivated by altruism; and, whether the President is aware or not, his political strategists are the ones pulling the strings. That still doesn’t erase the question: is Onnoghen guilty or not? We will come back to that later.

The accusations against him include failure to declare and submit a written declaration of his assets within three months of being sworn in as Justice of the Supreme Court in 2005 named CJN; and failure to declare a domiciliary US Dollar account, a domiciliary Euro account, a domiciliary (Pound Sterling) account, an e-saver savings (Naira) account and a Naira account, all maintained with Standard Chartered Bank (Nig.) Ltd in Abuja. All these in addition to funding some of his accounts through self-made cash deposits “which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials”.

The most striking feature of this petition is not its content but the expedition with which it has been treated. The CCB received it on January 9, and by January 10 the charge sheet was already filed at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) — meaning the CCB investigated the petition within 24 hours, discovered sufficient wrongdoing by the CJN, and filed action at the CCT. Everything in 24 hours. The CJN’s accusers are clearly in a race against time — could this possibly be a race against February 16?

The Muhammadu Buhari administration has so far proven itself to be incapable of prosecuting its selfish agenda by proxy without giving itself out. For instance, when desperately trying to proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in September 2014, it was the Nigerian Military that made the announcement on behalf of the government. Meanwhile, the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011, amended in 2013, is clear on the steps to be taken before a group may be proscribed as terrorist:  only a judge — at the advice of the Attorney General of the Federation, the National Security Adviser or the Inspector General of Police — could make such declaration. The scenario is repeating itself in Onnoghen’s persecutors’ recourse to the CCB rather than the National Judicial Council (NJC) — the body constitutionally and primarily empowered to try judicial officers after which they can then be handed over to the courts. It is a matter the Appeal Court has settled at least twice in the last two years, first of which was in December 2017 when it dismissed corruption charges brought against Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court, on the argument that by virtue of Section 158 of the 1999 Constitution, only the NJC is empowered to deal with the kind of allegations brought by the EFCC. The argument against that would be that Onnoghen is the NJC Chairman, but nothing stops him from stepping aside to allow the body, headed by the next in line, do its job.

Those who can read between the lines can already conclude that Onnoghen has tacitly admitted guilt. His claim that he “forgot to make a declaration of my assets after the expiration of my 2005 declaration in 2009” or that he did not include his Standard Charted Bank Account in SCN 000014 “because I believed they were not opened” are implausible. A chief justice, the nation’s number-one judicial officer for that matter, cannot run infringe on the law and expect to go scot-free by claiming forgetfulness or feigning ignorance. No one — not even the CJN — should be above the law. The law should take its course, but not through the backdoor as being devised by the APC plotters masquerading as ARDI.

Is Onnoghen guilty? For the NJC and the courts, this is yet to be decided. But in the court of public opinion, he appears to have already answered yes. Too bad for a man who holds the key to a den filled with lions waiting to pounce on raw flesh in the form Rivers and Ekiti state election petitions, plus many more to spring up after the February/March 2019 elections. By leaving the asset declaration loophole, Onnoghen has handed the initiative to his persecutors. Yet, if there is anyone who can wriggle himself out of this mess, it surely has to be a chief justice. Onnoghen has fed himself to the lions in the den; we wait to see if he will come out alive.


Soyombo, former Editor of the TheCable and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), tweets @fisayosoyombo

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Elections Are Not Nairabet: You Vote For Who You Want To Win, Not Who Is Likely To Win By 'Kunle Adebajo

13 January 2019 - 11:40pm


A man drops his voters card in a ballot box at a polling station in Lagos
A man drops his voters card in a ballot box at a polling station in Lagos

“I like Chidiebere, candidate of the New Ideas Party. He is a great economist. He understands the dynamics of our problems and knows exactly how we can get out of them. What’s more, his track record from his days at the Ministry of Education is remarkable. Ologuneru, with his enthusiasm and revolutionary spirit, can finally turn things around for this country too. But let me not waste my vote on any of them, since they probably won’t win anyway. I know who to vote for. Honourable Ganduje. He is not a saint, but let’s just
give him a shot and see what he will achieve too.”

This is roughly how the average Nigerian voter thinks, and it is not only sad but dangerous. Perhaps because we have become accustomed to soccer betting, the line between the functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Nairabet—as well as its many clones—has become blurry, almost invincible. We are not sure how to distinguish between the strategies appropriate for placing bets on football matches and those needed in the struggle for national development. So let us draw the line once and for all before things get out of hand.

While in betting you place a stake and are unable to cash out if the odds do not eventually favour you, in politics there is no demand for cash. In other words, you have nothing to lose—immediately—if you choose a line of action. Also, unlike in sport betting, there are consequences when you do not participate in political elections. But most importantly—and we cannot stress this enough—when it comes to elections, you are supposed to vote for who you want to win, not who is calculated to defeat the other candidates.

A vote is an expression of your choice for or against an aspirant (and their running mate) or a political party. It is your answer, as an intelligent adult, to the question of who you want as your leader for the next couple of years, not who you think has the capacity to win. And the secret ballot system has been put in place to ensure that everyone is able to safely make their choice and express their conviction on the ballot papers regardless of how unpopular that conviction is.

With the general and state elections upon us, we must hold dearly to this truth and have it not just at the back of our minds but on the tip of our fingers as we march into the booths to vote. We have unique Voter Identification Numbers on our voter’s cards not for cosmetic reasons but because we think differently. But what is the use of the PVC if it does not give expression to your truest thoughts and only keys into an agenda because it is popular?

Career politicians would rather have us think we have no choice. That what we share with them is a catholic marriage from which we mustn’t divorce. They want us to think we are stuck with the status quo, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from the inauguration day forward until death do us part. But we are not. What we rather have is a landlord-tenant arrangement—and no, the landlords are not the politicians. If we cannot as individuals kick them out, at least we can disown them where it matters most: at the polls.There is an expression commonly thrown around to reprimand people who, for no reason, are biased in favour of the white man’s culture. We call it ‘colonial mentality’. People who have this attitude think their own names, delicacies, wears and so on are inferior to those of the British, though they are not physically bound to subscribe to this belief.

Poverty mentality. Here is another favourite of Nigerians, used to chastise those who make choices as people without money though they are blessed with lots of it. They are not compelled, by the lack of enough cash, to for example trek five kilometres every day to their workplace, but they do so anyway — just as one without money would.

I am tempted to propose that we add one more: Military junta mentality. For 15 years, Nigerians cowed into political submission under the khaki, armed men whose job description says nothing about executive orders or presidential privileges. All those years, the people had no say in who ruled them. All they were were spectators to the unfolding political drama, onlookers who gazed speechlessly as coup plotters plotted and uninvited heads of state headed the state.

But as it stands, there is only little difference between, say, Olusegun Obasanjo’s emergence as a military head of state in February 1976 and his second coming as a democratic leader in 1999 and 2003. In the 70’s, the people truly had no choice, no say on the subject of who governed them. Today, we do have a choice, afforded us by the supreme law of the land, but we still like to think we do not.

“His administration has been a disappointment, but let him just finish his eight years,” the Nigerian voter says. “He is too strong to be defeated anyway.”

The question is who gives him this strength? The Federal Executive Council? The Buhari Media Campaign? God? Certainly not! It is the same voter. It is Nigerians who vote based on impulse, Nigerians who think elections are a contest of popularity and not a contest of capability who strengthen the reign of mediocrities. We are like the fool who flings the door to his apartment open every night and who, when asked why he does this, says the armed robber would find his way in in any case, locked or not.

It is easy to say even if I vote for the underdog, others will not and so it is pointless. But this only leads to a vicious cycle of stagnation—similar to what we have in that popular parable where Nobody did what Anybody could have done because Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. So, we shouldn’t give ourselves worry about everybody else or what they will or won’t do. Do not say ‘if I do not litter the street, others will do it anyway so what is the point?’ or ‘if I do not take this bribe, others will do it anyway so what is the point?’ or ‘if I do not vote for this looter, others will anyway so what is the point?’

It is what others are thinking too, and it is why we will always find ourselves in the same brand of mess, every four years. So is it not wiser that we play our own parts with sincerity and then hope for the best? Even if, in the end, our preferred candidates do not win, at best we would have moved them closer to the goalpost of political power, and at worst we would have been true to our hearts and deducted one point from the account balance of bad leadership.

‘Kunle Adebajo writes from Abuja and reports for the International Centre for Investigative Reporting. He may be reached via his email address, adekunlebaj@gmail.com, or telephone number, +2347054856729.

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