Bill seeking criminalization of sexual harassment suffers setback at House of Reps.

A bill seeking to prohibit and punish sex offenders in educational institutions suffered a setback in the house of representatives on Thursday.

The senate sent the bill to the lower legislative chamber for concurrence.

While moving the bill on the floor of the house on Thursday, Femi Gbajabiamila, majority leader, expressed concern that it did not take care of the other spheres of the society.

Gbajabiamila said the bill ought to take care of work place, religious institutions, among others.

He said the house should take into cognisance some of these issues so as to have a more comprehensive law.

Contributing to the debate, Ayo Omideran, a lawmaker from Osun state, said sexual harassment in places of learning was an important issue, emphasising that men were also victims.

Omideran said there should be laws prohibiting and punishing sex offenders in other institutions not just places of learning.

Yakubu Dogara, the speaker, agreed with the submissions and stepped the bill down pending consultations between both chambers of the national assembly.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had kicked against the bill, describing it as a violation of the rights of its members.

Biodun Ogunyemi, president of the union, had said this at a public hearing on the bill, organised by the senate committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters.

The sexual harassment bill was sponsored by Ovie Omo-Agege, a Delta senator, and co-sponsored by 57 of his colleagues.

The bill seeks to criminalise sexual harassment in tertiary institutions and, among other things, proposes a five-year jail term for lecturers found guilty of sexually harassing of students.

Crimes Against Humanity Bill passes second reading at HOR

The bill seeking to enforce the punishment of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, has passed second reading at the house of representatives.

Speaking on the floor of the house on Tuesday, Ossai Ossai, sponsor of the bill, explained that it would provide for appropriate sanctions to those guilty of such crimes.

He added that the bill would help bring to justice those who have taken laws into their own hands.

“Nigeria signed the international criminal court of justice treaty in 2000, the national assembly has the powers to domesticate such treaties,” the legislator said.

“One of the benefits of this bill is that it will provide appropriate sanctions to perpetrators of such acts and if someone commits a crime and runs away, he will still be brought to book internationally.”

Contributing to the debate, Nkem Uzoma-Abonta, an Abia lawmaker, said the country is currently undergoing some of these crimes the bill was seeking to address.

On her part, Nnena Ukeje, also a lawmaker from Abia, said the bill would strengthen the country’s laws against such crimes.

Also, Garba Datti from Kaduna, said the “domestication of the bill will provide protection of citizens and uphold the rule of law.”

The bill was passed for second reading after it was put to a voice vote by Yakubu Dogara, the speaker.

 

Source: The Cable

Despite 3-week break, reps adjourn plenary to mourn dead lawmaker.

The house of representatives on Tuesday postponed legislative business to Wednesday to mourn the death of a lawmaker.

The house, which resumed plenary after three weeks, adjourned to mourn Bello Sani, who represented Mashi/Dutsi federal constituency.

The death of Sani brings to three the total number of lawmakers who have died since the lower legislative chamber was inaugurated in June 2015.

Sani was a member of the Katsina state house of assembly before he was elected to house on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He was also the chairman of Mashi local government.

The lawmaker attended Mashi primary school in 1974, government day secondary school Mashi and Hassan Usman Polytechnic, Katsina in 1996. He died at the age of 51.

Yakubu Dogara, the speaker, described Bello as “humane, principled and a cosmopolitan  who interacted freely with all members.”

He died on Wednesday.

Budget Padding: Judge’s absence stalls suit against National Assembly, Dogara.

The absence of the judge presiding over a case against the National Assembly and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday stalled the sitting of the Federal High Court, Kano slated for December 20.dogara

Residents of the Kiru/Bebeji federal constituency sued the National Assembly and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, challenging the legality of suspending their member, Abdulmumin Jibrin , from the National Assembly.

Mr. Jibrin was suspended after he publicly raised fraud allegations against Mr. Dogara and other officers of the House. He accused the officials of manipulating the budget figures illegally in a term popularly known as ‘budget padding.’
Speaking to journalists at the court, the lead counsel for Kofa constituency, Bashir Muqaddam, said the Judge, Idris Koko, had travelled out of the state for the Judges Conference, currently holding at the Federal Capital, Abuja.

He said after returning from the conference, the judges would proceed for the Christmas and New Year vacations.

According to him, the judges are expected to resume on January19, 2017 while the case has been fixed for January18, 2017, for mentioning.

“Our prayer seeks that the sum of N2 billion be given to our client, Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin Kofa, as payment for damages to his reputation.

“When we resume on January 18, 2017, the case will come up for mentioning,” Mr. Muqaddam said.

Abdulmumin-Jibrin (1)He said the constituency was challenging the legality of Mr. Jibrin’s suspension by the House of Representatives.

 

“We want to know whether his whistle blowing role in exposing how the 2016 budget was padded was in contradiction of any stipulated law of the land.

“Fundamentally, we want an immediate re-instatement of the suspended member and the court to also order for the payment of all his (Kofa’s) entitlements for the suspension period.’’

Also speaking, the lead complainant in the case, Ibrahim Tiga, assured Mr. Jibrin’s supporters who came to the court that they would follow the case to its logical conclusion.

Why I will not honour Reps’ invitation for now — Jibrin

Abdulmumin Jibrin said on Thursday that he will not honour the invitation to appear before the House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee until he receives a formal invitation to that effect from the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

Mr. Jibrin said he had already defended all allegations of corruption against the speaker, and dismissed the fresh attempts by Ethics Committee to investigate him for corruption and official misconduct as a charade.

Nicholas Ossai, chairman of the committee, told the House during plenary on Wednesday that he was in possession of new allegations against Mr. Jibrin from his constituencies and a civic group.

Since Mr. Jibrin is already serving a one-year suspension for alleged breach of House’s ethics and privileges of members, Mr. Ossai said it was necessary to get the approval of the whole House to enable Mr. Jibrin enter the premises of the National Assembly.

Mr. Jibrin was declared a persona non-grata around the National Assembly precinct as part of the disciplinary actions lawmakers ordered against him when they decided to suspend him in September.

The offences largely stemmed from the allegations of budget padding that Mr. Jibrin raised against Mr. Dogara and other principal officers of the House.

Mr. Ossai invited Mr. Jibrin to face his committee after receiving a petition linking Mr. Jibrin to ownership of foreign accounts and another one from people of his Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency who alleged “poor representation” against him.

Aliyu Madaki, a fellow Kano lawmaker and Mr. Jibrin’s ally, sought to step down the invitation, saying any investigation of Mr. Jibrin while he is still serving his suspension would amount to double jeopardy. But his request was rejected by the whole House.

But in an e-mail to PREMIUM TIMES this afternoon, Mr. Jibrin said he would an issue official response to the invitation upon receipt of same from Mr. Dogara’s office.

“I will make a formal statement on the invitation and petitions when I receive an official communication from the Speaker or his agents,” Mr. Jibrin said. “But in the meantime, I wish to state categorically clear that this disgraceful action is an extension of the witch hunt launched against me by Speaker Dogara and his corrupt cabal in the House.”

Mr. Dogara’s spokesman, Turaki Hassan, did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ request for comment Thursday evening.

Why we bought N3.6bn exotic cars during recession – Reps

The House of Representatives on Thursday defended its decision to buy exotic cars for its 360 members at a period the country’s economy is in recession.

It said lawmakers must have a means of mobility while carrying out oversight duties over Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.

The House will spend at least N3.6bn across 24 months to complete payment for the luxury vehicles supplied by the Kaduna-based Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited.

The PUNCH had reported exclusively on Monday that the firm had already delivered 28 units of Peugeot 508 series to members in the first batch of 50 cars.

A total of 360 units of the exotic automobile would have been delivered by January 2017.

The Deputy Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Jonathan Gaza, while defending the procurement of the cars on Thursday, said that recession would not stop lawmakers from performing their legislative duties.

He argued that in a recession, both the executive and legislative arms of government were expected to work even harder to find urgent solutions to challenges facing the country.

Gaza noted that while working during recession, members were not expected to trek to the premises of the MDAs for oversight duties.

He added, “In a recession, we will all put on our thinking caps. We are working; these are committees’ cars and they are not the personal property of members.

“When you came here today, how did you come? Did you walk down to this place (National Assembly) from your house?

“If a member is going to visit an agency, will he trek there?

“We need materials, computers, stationery, cars; these are all for work.”

Asked to comment on whether the National Assembly would approve Buhari’s bid to take a loan of $29.96bn, Gaza replied that discussions were ongoing between the two sides.

The lawmaker said no conclusions had been reached.

He also declined to speak categorically on whether the government had begun making releases for the constituency projects of lawmakers.

The constituency projects of senators and members are worth N100bn in the 2016 budget of N6.06tn.

The refusal of the government to fund the projects is reported to be one of the sore points in the relationship between Buhari and the National Assembly.

But, when asked a direct question on the issue, Gaza parried it.

“We don’t release money for constituency projects. Our work is to pass the budget and we passed the 2016 budget. It is the responsibility of the executive to release funds for projects.

“Also, the money is not paid into our pockets, we don’t touch it,” he replied.

House Of Reps Probes SSS Raid On Judges’ Homes

The House of Representatives on Tuesday named a committee to investigate weekend’s raid by the State Security Service, SSS, on some judges’ homes across the country.

The motion was tabled by a lawmaker from Rivers State, Chinda Ogundu.

Scores of SSS operatives conducted a night raid of the residences of some judges between Friday and Saturday, accusing the judges of fraud.

The six-state sweep also included Mr. Ogundu’s state of Rivers, where Governor Nyesom Wike foiled an attempt to arrest a judge attached to the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court.

The largely unprecedented operation has continued to generate divergent views amongst Nigerians.

The Senate condemned the raid, but rejected a motion to summon the Director General of SSS, Lawal Daura.

The House also refused to summon Mr. Daura, but said the committee to investigate the circumstance of the raid.

A lawmaker, Mojeed Alabi, suggested that the House should respect the principles of separation of powers and stay away from the matter, but the House approved the motion nonetheless.

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Jibrin’s Suspension Is Unconstitutional – Femi Gbajabiamila

Majority leader of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila, has kicked against the suspension of former chairman of the House committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin for one year, describing it as unconstitutional.

The House had on 28th September, suspended Jibrin for failing to appear before the committee on Ethics and Privileges over the allegations of Budget padding he leveled on Speaker Yakubu Dogara and 13 other lawmakers.

In an interview with Thisday, Gbajabiamila questioned the legality of suspending a lawmaker who represents a constituency from the House.

He said, “My concern on the suspension is the same that I always had, even when Dino Melaye and others, were suspended in the 6th Assembly.

“Now what is this concern? I find it difficult as a Constitutional Lawyer, to accept that our rules can actually pass constitutional muster, if put to test. If you suspend a member for a year, you are effectively suspending his constituency and the people he represents, from participation in participatory democracy. This, in my own personal opinion, violates the constitution which delineates the country into Federal Constituencies for effective representation, at the centre. For every constituency, it is a right to be represented in the national assembly, not a privilege that can be taken away.

“The constitution says clearly that, all Federal Constituencies must be represented for 4 years, and lists, I believe, only 1 or 2 circumstances under which such a constituency can be unrepresented. e.g. by process of recall etc. Even at that, the vacancy is to be filled immediately.

“Our constitution does not envisage a situation where a Federal Constituency is unrepresented or underrepresented. If, for instance, an issue comes up in a member’s constituency, that requires federal attention or legislative address, who do they go to? We cannot take away a mandate, given by the people or short change a constituency.

“In law, the seat of a representative is held in trust for the constituency. It is an in rem matter, not a personal matter. This is why when a member gets up to speak, he goes through the formality of announcing his name and the constituency he represents.

“In fact, in other democracies and Legislatures, when a Speaker wants to recognise a Representative to speak, he addresses him or her not even by name, but as for instance, “the gentleman from so so constituency”. That is the pre-eminence given to a constituency in a democratic setting.

“So it is not about Honourable Jibrin, it is about Bebeji Constituency. I do not stand in the gap for Jibrin, or is this in any way a defence on his behalf. You may not know this, but Jibrin and I stopped relating as friends and colleagues, since March or thereabout.

“However, I am not one to shy away from the truth and the rule of law. I believe that there are other ways that would be constitutional, if the House wants to discipline any member.

“On whether this was contempt of court, I believe that you are speaking about the Federal High Court decision in the Melaye case, when the Court said that the House lacked the powers to suspend the members. I do not remember the basis upon which the Court made its decision, but I will definitely look at it again. I suspect it was on the basis of fair hearing, as provided in the Constitution.” he said

I’m Not An Ally Of Jibrin, But His Suspension Is Unconstitutional – Femi Gbajabiamila

Majority leader of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila, has kicked against the suspension of former chairman of the House committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin for one year, describing it as unconstitutional.

The House had on 28th September, suspended Jibrin for failing to appear before the committee on Ethics and Privileges over the allegations of Budget padding he leveled on Speaker Yakubu Dogara and 13 other lawmakers.

In an interview with Thisday, Gbajabiamila questioned the legality of suspending a lawmaker who represents a constituency from the House.

He said, “My concern on the suspension is the same that I always had, even when Dino Melaye and others, were suspended in the 6th Assembly.

“Now what is this concern? I find it difficult as a Constitutional Lawyer, to accept that our rules can actually pass constitutional muster, if put to test. If you suspend a member for a year, you are effectively suspending his constituency and the people he represents, from participation in participatory democracy. This, in my own personal opinion, violates the constitution which delineates the country into Federal Constituencies for effective representation, at the centre. For every constituency, it is a right to be represented in the national assembly, not a privilege that can be taken away.

“The constitution says clearly that, all Federal Constituencies must be represented for 4 years, and lists, I believe, only 1 or 2 circumstances under which such a constituency can be unrepresented. e.g. by process of recall etc. Even at that, the vacancy is to be filled immediately.

“Our constitution does not envisage a situation where a Federal Constituency is unrepresented or underrepresented. If, for instance, an issue comes up in a member’s constituency, that requires federal attention or legislative address, who do they go to? We cannot take away a mandate, given by the people or short change a constituency.

“In law, the seat of a representative is held in trust for the constituency. It is an in rem matter, not a personal matter. This is why when a member gets up to speak, he goes through the formality of announcing his name and the constituency he represents.

“In fact, in other democracies and Legislatures, when a Speaker wants to recognise a Representative to speak, he addresses him or her not even by name, but as for instance, “the gentleman from so so constituency”. That is the pre-eminence given to a constituency in a democratic setting.

“So it is not about Honourable Jibrin, it is about Bebeji Constituency. I do not stand in the gap for Jibrin, or is this in any way a defence on his behalf. You may not know this, but Jibrin and I stopped relating as friends and colleagues, since March or thereabout.

“However, I am not one to shy away from the truth and the rule of law. I believe that there are other ways that would be constitutional, if the House wants to discipline any member.

On whether this was contempt of court, I believe that you are speaking about the Federal High Court decision in the Melaye case, when the Court said that the House lacked the powers to suspend the members. I do not remember the basis upon which the Court made its decision, but I will definitely look at it again. I suspect it was on the basis of fair hearing, as provided in the Constitution.” he said

House Of Reps To Conduct Public Hearing On U.S. Sexual Allegations Against Members

The House of Representatives says it will convene a public hearing as part of its investigations into an alleged sex scandal involving three of its members.

The hearing will allow Nigerians weigh in on the matter and be transparently engaged in the investigations as promised by the House leadership, Nicholas Ossai, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said.

The scandal allegedly occurred in the U.S. state of Ohio early June.

The allegations were contained in a petition forwarded to Speaker Yakubu Dogara by U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, on June 9.

In the correspondence, Mr. Entwistle said three Nigerian lawmakers, Mohammed Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Mark Gbillah (APC-Benue) and Samuel Ikon (PDP-Akwa Ibom), solicited sex from a hotel attendant and tried to engage the services of prostitutes while attending a leadership training program in that country.

The three lawmakers deny the allegations.

The speaker, Mr. Dogara, has also asked the United States government to prove its claim.

Credit: PremiumTimes

House Of Reps ‘Investigating’ Members Accused Of Sexual Misconduct In U.S.

The House of Representatives says it has commenced investigation into allegations of attempted rape and sexual misconduct against three of its members during their recent trip to the United States.

The United States ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, in a June 9 petition to House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, said Mohammed Gololo (APC-Bauchi) grabbed a hotel house keeper and solicited sex in his Cleveland hotel room.

He also accused Mark Gbillah (APC-Benue) and Samuel Ikon (PDP-Akwa Ibom) of seeking assistance from car park attendants to help them arrange services of prostitutes.

The accused lawmakers travelled with seven other Reps to the U.S. for the International Visitor Leadership Program.

The U.S. envoy said his country’s officials carefully examined complaints about the Nigerian lawmakers and confirmed their identities. He said their conduct was a blemish on the image of Nigeria.

The three legislators have denied the allegation.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Reps Panel Okays FRSC’s Speed Limiters

The House of Representatives Committee on Federal Road Safety Commission has endorsed the move by the Federal Road Safety Corps to introduce speed limiting devices on vehicles in the country as part of measures to curb road crashes.

A report of the committee, on Monday, indicated that the FRSC acted within the powers conferred on it by the FRSC Act, 2007, to “implement strategies to safeguard lives and property of road users.”

Part of the report read, “The FRSC was acting within its purview as empowered by the FRSC Establishment Act 2007, to implement strategies to safeguard lives and property of all road users, hence its proposal to introduce the speed-limiting device was in order.”

The speed limiters had generated controversies across the country soon after the FRSC made the idea public.

Some of those who opposed the speed limiters, including the House of Representatives, had held the view that the technology was outdated and could further expose motorists to danger rather than save their lives.

The House in particular had opposed the N36,000 fee it would cost each of the motorists to fit the device into each vehicle.

In February, lawmakers passed a resolution to investigate the plan of the FRSC after an All Progressives Congress legislator from Edo State, Mr. Philip Shaibu, raised the alarm that the device was “outdated” and had failed in some African countries, including Kenya.

Following the development, the House directed the FRSC to suspend the project, while it summoned the Corps Marshal and Chief Executive Officer of the FRSC, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, to appear before the Committee on FRSC for explanations.

Findings by The PUNCH on Monday showed that the committee, after seeking the views of many stakeholders, including the Nigerian Society of Engineers, National Union of Road Transport Workers, fleet operators and transport sector experts, resolved to endorse the speed limiters.

However, the committee recommended that the speed limiters should be used in addition to the deployment of more modern technologies like the ‘Spider Technology,’ as had been suggested by many of the stakeholders.

The committee also stated that the application of the speed limiters should start with commercial vehicles and other fleet operators “only.”

Credit: Punch

Rowdy Session At House Of Reps As lawmakers Block Kachikwu From Chamber

The scheduled appearance of Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, at the House of Representatives on Monday has left the lower chamber bitterly divided, as lawmakers bicker over whether the minister should be allowed to enter into the chamber or not.

Mr. Kachikwu was invited to brief lawmakers on the recent increase in the price of petrol.

But when Mr. Kachikwu arrived to honour the invitation, he was met with echoes of anger from lawmakers who started shouting “No! No! No!”

Shortly after noon, House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, moved a motion to let Mr. Kachikwu in, but many lawmakers shouted him down.

This prompted the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, to put the matter up for voice vote.

When Mr. Dogara asked if the lawmakers should allow Mr. Kachikwu to come him, majority of them thundered: “No! No!”

But Mr. Dogara said the “ayes” have it, nonetheless.

But the lawmakers refused to be intimidated, continuing with their chants.

After a few minutes into the commotion, the House demanded that journalists and other observers should excuse them, leaving only members in the plenary to continue what they described as “executive session.”

Why the lawmakers invited Mr. Kachikwu and still declined to give him audience to explain himself has left many in the chambers befuddled.

As at 1:00 p.m., the House has not reopened the plenary to reporters and Mr. Kachikwu’s whereabouts is unknown.

Credit: PremiumTimes

House Of Reps Says Review Of Oil Benchmark Is ‘Certain’

The House of Representatives in Nigeria says the National Assembly will certainly review the crude oil benchmark price for the 2016 budget.

The possibility of the review was made known on Wednesday by the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Nigeria’s 2016 budget had been submitted to the National Assembly in December by the President, with a benchmark of $38 less than the current crude oil price.

This price per barrel has triggered comments about how realistic the budget proposal of 6.07 trillion Naira, with 2.22 trillion Naira deficit and a crude oil benchmark of $38 was.

But on Monday, the Minister of Budget and National Planning in Nigeria, Senator Udo Udoma, tried to allay Nigerians fears, assuring them that the falling crude oil price would not affect the nation’s 2016 budget submitted with the oil benchmark of $38 per barrel.

Senator Udoma spoke at a meeting with members of the National Assembly Committee on Budget and Planning.

He told the lawmakers that there was a plan to cushion all shortfalls that may arise as a result of the drop in oil prices.

According to him, part of the plans would include concession of airports and re-introduction of toll gates on the nation’s highways.

Credit: ChannelsTv

House Of Reps Demands End To Customs’ Roadblocks

The House of Representatives has asked the Nigerian Customs Service to stop the practice of mounting road blocks in search of goods that have already been brought into the country.

After considering a motion of public importance raised by Temitope Olatoye, the House urged the Comptroller General of Customs to deploy more personnel to the borders to curtail the activities of smugglers.

The Nigerian Customs Service has also been encouraged to engage in continuous training and development programmes for its officers for optimal performance.

According to the lawmaker, there has been low generation of revenue by the Customs due to corruption and other factors, which he listed.

“Allowing contraband goods to be smuggled into Nigeria, failure to enforce the payment of requisite duties, poor accountability of the revenue generated and preferential treatment of high net-worth individuals are responsible for the low revenue generation of the service,” Honourable Olatoye said.

Credit: ChannelsTv

House Of Reps Investigates Malpractices By Airline Operators

The House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Aviation to investigate malpractices by airline operators in Nigeria’s airspace and their treatment of passengers.

The decision was reached on Tuesday during plenary, after Honourable Rita Orji moved a motion on the need for airline operators in Nigeria to adhere to international best practices.

Some of the lawmakers, who contributed while deliberating on the motion, said airline operators in Nigeria engaged in many malpractices, ranging from cancellation of scheduled flights to outright sale of ticket by its passengers.

The leadership of the House of Representatives also met with chairmen and deputy chairmen of the standing committees in the House.

At the meeting, the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, got a reassurance of unflinching support from the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the standing committees in the House.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the Chief Whip of the lower chamber, Honourable Ado Alhassan, said only two lawmakers rejected the position of chairman given to them by the Speaker.

Credit: ChannelsTV

Committee Threatens Sanctions Against Violent House Of Reps Members

As members of the House of Representatives resume plenary on Tuesday, the Adhoc Committee on Code of Conduct has warned returning members to behave orderly.

Plenary was cut short the last time the House sat on June 25 when some members attempted to seize the mace leading to a free-for-all fight between members loyal to Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Femi Gbajabiamila.

After the fracas, Mr. Dogara postponed plenary to July 28.

The ad hoc committee on code of conduct on Monday told returning members that it has been saddled with the responsibility of carrying out the functions of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

The committee, in a notice signed by Aminu Shagari, called on members to conduct themselves in an orderly manner on Tuesday.

“The Committee will no longer tolerate any unruly behaviour by any member of the House no matter how highly placed,” he said.

Mr. Shagari also advised members who have grievances to explore peaceful avenues of seeking redress instead of resorting to violence on the floor of the House, or the precincts of the National Assembly.

“There are adequate sanctions in place to penalise any member who may want to disrupt the peace during plenary, Committee meetings or other legislative functions of the House.

“The House will deal decisively with any member who violates the rules, disrupts plenary, or is found wanting of misconduct and other sundry offences.

“Members are admonished to demonstrate high standards of ethics consistent with the important role of Lawmaking and the 8th Assembly Legislative Agenda which places emphasis on the wellbeing of the Nigerian people,” the statement read.

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House Of Reps Unfolds Agenda

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara on Tuesday said it would implement a legislative agenda aimed at improving the living conditions of Nigerians.

Dogara said this in his presentation of a draft of the legislative agenda of the 8th House of Representatives in Abuja. The speaker said the agenda outlined steps and prioritised legislative actions required to achieve set goals and objectives.

According to him, the legislative agenda takes lessons from the experiences of the 7th House of Representatives and seeks to consolidate the gains and achievements thereof. “The House recognizes that there remains widespread citizens’ distrust of public institutions and government generally.

“It is also recognized that there is a lot of public misconceptions and misperceptions about the functions and contributions of the legislature to Nigeria’s overall socioeconomic and political development.

“Yet, the legislature’s contributions to Nigeria’s democracy remain critical and important.

“The 8th House of Representatives will assert its role in providing leadership in the areas of accountable and transparent government, citizens engagement, as well as constituency representation,” he said.

Dogara added that the 8th House of Representatives would collaborate with the Senate and other arms of government to legislate for the common good of the Nigerian people. “Our legislative activities will cover critical spheres of life in Nigeria.

“The House will legislate to achieve reforms in economic development, tackle poverty and unemployment and confront the scourge of corruption and terrorism/security challenge.

“The House will also give priority to legislation to address environmental challenges such as desertification, erosion and pollution.

“The 8th House of Representatives will legislate to cut the cost of running government, reduce wastage and tackle revenue leakages,” Dogara said.

The speaker stressed that the House would play its part in rescuing the country from hunger, poverty, disease, social, economic, political and infrastructural challenges.

He said “the 8th House of Representatives, as peoples’ parliament, will be sensitive to public demands for transparency and accountability.

“Our legislative actions would therefore seek to build public confidence and trust and be responsive to citizens’ questions regarding the conduct of legislative business.

“The House will work for public good and serve as the institution that defends the rights of the people to an accountable and transparent government.”

Credit: NAN

Abuja Bomb Blast Victims Protest, Urge FG To Fulfil Promises

The Abuja bomb blast victims on Wednesday carried out a peaceful protest at the National Assembly to urge the Federal Government to fulfil its promises to them.

NAN recalls that government had promised to foot the medical bills of the blasts which killed more than 100 people in Abuja.

The victims, who converged on the premises of the National Assembly, carried placards with different inscriptions expressing their anger, some of which read:

“It has been 10 months and nothing has been done for us; most of us still have medical challenges’’ and “We are dying slowly, we need government support.”

Some of the victims that they could not do follow up treatments in the hospitals.

The Coordinator of the group, Mr Arthur Vav, told NAN that they wanted the Federal Government to reopen their medical files in the hospitals for follow-up treatments.

Vav said most of the victims had undergone series of surgical operations, while some still had sharp objects lodged in their bodies that needed to be removed but could not afford the cost of treatment.

“The last bomb blast was June 25 which would be one year next month, while Nyanya already was one year April 14, since then we have been paying most of our medical bills.

“The government paid some bills for us but I strongly believe there are supposed to be a follow-ups after you have been discharged from the hospital.

“This is because when you get back to your house, you find out some sharp objects in the body and you discover you still need some medical treatment,” he said.

Vav said the group had written to the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), the President of the Senate and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation but received no response.

He said the peaceful demonstration was to express their grievances.

“We have been neglected by the government because for one year now nothing has been done,” he said.

Mr Thomas Aduche, another member of the group, said they were left to fate without any support from the government.

Aduche said he paid for the last operation carried out on his neck and pleaded with the government to empower them as most of them had lost their jobs.

Two women who lost their husbands, Mrs Favour Ndubisi and Mrs Sarah Andy called on government to empower them to enable them to take care of their children.

“I am a qualified teacher but due to the lack of job I teach in private school where the salary is very small; if government will employ me, I will be happy,” Ndubisi said.

Mr Victor Dike, representing the Sergeant-At-Arms for the Senate, who addressed the group promised to look into their case.
Dike told NAN that the group wrote a letter to the Senate last two weeks and did not follow up to know the outcome.

“I promise to look for the solution to their problem through the letter they submitted and once we get the letter I will tell them the action they have taken on the letter and that is the normal procedure.

“They just submitted their letter two or three weeks ago and have not followed up the letter only to come for demonstration, it is not okay,” he said

House Of Reps Passes 2015 Budget

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the 2015 budget of N4.4 trillion with an appeal to the incoming administration to submit supplementary appropriation to boost capital allocation for development and job creation.

Rep. John Enoh (PDP- Cross River), Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, said the supplementary appropriation became necessary due to the near zero vote for capital expenditure caused by the fall in oil revenue.

He said that almost all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), had zero allocation for capital projects in the 2015 appropriation.

Read More: dailypost

APC Wins Majority In House Of Reps With 214 Seats

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken control of the 8th House of Representatives as the majority party.

Out of the total 360 seats available for grabs, the party won in 214 federal constituencies as against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has 125 lawmakers. The figures give a gap of 89 between the APC and the PDP.

The figures, however, exclude the 11 constituency seats in Jigawa State, where election has yet to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Elections in the 11 constituencies will be held on April 11.

Read MorePunch

Reps Accuse Jonathan of Aiding Budget Fraud, Says Govt Offices Spend N16 Trillion Anually

House of Representatives said it has uncovered what may turn out Nigeria’s biggest fraud yet, accusing the Jonathan administration of spending N16 trillion on its super offices yearly, while the entire country is given a meagre budget of about N4 trillion. The claim was made by the House Public Accounts Committee.

The committee said while the Nigerian government complains of revenue for key projects, the same government has allowed dozens of powerful offices, graded as “statutory and extra-ministerial departments” to spend a minimum of N16 trillion yearly.

The amount spent by the offices are not regulated, audited or appropriated by the National Assembly. Much of the figure are generated by the respective offices and are deployed at the whims of their chief executives.

Read More: PremiumTimes

Postponing February Elections Was A Blessing in Disguise – David Mark

Senate President, David Mark,  has stated that the postponement of the general election has provided millions of eligible voters an opportunity to collect their permanent voter’s cards (PVCs).

Mark, who made the remark at the opening of the plenary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria in Abuja, said the postponement had turned out to be “a blessing in disguise”.

According to him, if the elections had held on February14, many Nigerians would have been unable to vote.

“I want to be re-elected back but I do not want to go through the back door, I want to be re-elected with many Nigerians accepting that this is their choice.
“Whatever we can do to enable few more Nigerians to vote on their appointed days, I think it is proper that they do it,’’ he said.

Mark also restated that there was no place for an interim government in the Nigerian Constitution, saying that it was “absolutely alien to the current constitution’’.

“We will not allow that,’’ he said. In his remarks, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association (CAN), said that the theme of the conference challenged every Nigerian to nurture their family.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme is titled: “ Good Families Make Good Nations.’’

Oritsejafor appealed to government to continue to work hard to create employment opportunities for young Nigerians.

He also appealed to church leaders to ensure that their followers imbibe sound moral values needed to raise responsible families.

“We must along with other stakeholders continue to assist in creating an enabling environment for families to grow and mature, respect constituted authority, be honest and love one another.

“I am pleading for cooperation, unity and brotherhood; efforts must be made to denounce worldliness, to build families that imbibe godly and enduring values,’’ he said.

Oristejafor advised that in spite of diverse doctrines and other means of expressing faith, Nigerians should remain united.

Also, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, appealed to the Anglican Roman Catholic Commission (ARCC), to give a definite agenda to the commission

INEC Declares PDP Reps Candidate Winner 19 Days to Election

INEC has declared Christian Adabah Abah, the only candidate validly nominated to contest the Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadigbo Federal Constituency seat in Benue State. The declaration which was made yesterday is in accordance to the provisions of the Electoral Act.

This declaration has made the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to be winner of the first seat in the House of Representatives this year. This came less than three weeks to the start of the forthcoming general elections.

Court Refuses to Unseat Tambuwal as Speaker

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, refused to grant a fresh ex-parte application seeking to restrain Mr. Aminu Tambuwal from further acting as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The application was filed before the court by a member of the House House of Representatives, Mr. Abiodun Akinlade.

The applicant, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, representing Yewa South/Ipokia Federal Constituency of Ogun State in the House, had in his application, prayed the court to stop Tambuwal from parading himself as the Speaker, pending the determination of the suit challenging his continued stay in office.

Aside the ex-parte application that was declined by the court yesterday, Akinlade is in his substantive suit, seeking a “judicial interpretation” of an earlier judgment delivered by Justice Evoh Chukwu of the same Federal High Court in Abuja, where the court held that there was no division in the PDP.

He insisted that in view of the earlier decision of the court, Tambuwal’s defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC, on October 28, amounted to a violation of Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Cited as defendants in the suit were Tambuwal, the House of Representatives and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Meantime, while rejecting the ex-parte application, yesterday, Justice Mohammed directed the plaintiff to put Tambuwal and all the other defendants on notice.

Credit: Vanguard Nigeria

Tambuwal and his Apostles of Falsehood By Hygienus Nwagwu

Recent events in the Nigerian polity have been eliciting multiple reactions from different segments of the society with a preponderance of falsehood, half-truth and convoluted logic being peddled by almost everyone.

The drama at the National Assembly where a sitting speaker of the House of Representatives was almost ousted in a gestapo style by the Nigerian police, apparently acting either on orders ‘from above’ or a carefully orchestrated police coup is a case worth examining.

The insistence of the police boss on arrogating to himself the powers to interpret the Nigerian constitution, in a matter that is before a competent court of law, is as weird as it is disturbing. The IG is not without his apostles who believe, and have been struggling to educate the rest of us, that Tambuwal ceased to be speaker the moment he moved from a majority to a minority party in parliament.

For the avoidance of doubt, the concept of majority rule as a democratic norm is not some fixed precept existing in some lunatic mind but a time-specific and situation-specific phenomenon that is as dynamic as life itself. Even the 1999 constitution talks about the members of the house electing from among themselves a speaker…(not from among the majority party), which means that majority of the members can choose to elect from among themselves even a member who is the only representative of his political party in the house as their speaker. Unfortunately, this is one aspect of the concept of majority rule that most analysts have chosen to gloss over.

The incumbent President is from one of the smallest minority groups in Nigeria and by this weird analysis should not be governing the country. But that is not true as majority of Nigerians accepted someone from the minority to govern them. Tambuwal can only cease to be speaker when majority of the members of the house reject him and the ruling PDP should know how to legally and constitutionally harness its so-called majority to actualize that. The constitution is clear on this and we are not talking about a simple majority. It is a two-third majority.

The other argument on why Tambuwal must leave the house hinges on a provision of the constitution on the position of a member who defects to another political party. Again, this matter is subjudice as cases are already in court and no pronouncement has been made. It is also instructive to note that members have been defecting from other parties to the ruling PDP without this hue and cry about anyone losing their seats.

Then comes the moral ground. Tambuwal should do the needful. He has no moral justification to continue as speaker and bla bla bla! Are people’s feet allergic to the moral ground upon which they expect others to stand? I ask this question because going by the obvious failures of this government, the missing Chibok girls, impunity, corruption, insecurity and collapsing economy, the moral ground should by now be boasting of many feet, including those of the president, whose all resigned to take a firm stand on that blessed ground of morality.

Nigeria is a country on edge, dancing dangerously on the precipice. The only thing that can save us from imminent doom is justice, fairness, rule of law and observance of the golden rule: do unto others what you will have them do to you.

Like I always tell my friends, the Nigerian earthquake has already taken place. What we are experiencing now is the aftershock, but we can still rebuild by first clearing the rubble and reinforcing the house . We cannot continue to live in a visibly shaken structure supported by the ever wobbling pillars of selfishness, greed, impunity and inordinate ambition, else the crash will consume us all.

Hygienus Nwagwu @hymanprof.