JUST IN: I cannot reverse Ndume’s suspension – Saraki

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has said that he has no power to reverse the suspension of the former Senate leader, Ali Ndume.

Mr. Ndume was suspended for six months last week after he asked the Senate to investigate media reports alleging that Mr. Saraki failed to pay requisite import duty for an SUV vehicle he imported.

He also requested investigation into reports that a Kogi state Senator, Dino Melaye, may also have not graduated from Ahmadu Bello University.

Both Senators were eventually cleared by the Senate committee on ethics and privileges. The committee also recommended the suspension of Mr. Ndume for one year.

Since the suspension, various groups have reportedly been meeting with Mr. Saraki to plead for the recall of the Borno south senator.

Governor Kashim Shettima had on Friday led a delegation to see Mr. Saraki on the matter.

Speaking to State House correspondents shortly after emerging from a meeting with President Buhari, Mr. Saraki said “I wish I have such powers”.

He said the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are just first among equals and cannot do anything that the two chambers do not want done.

He said all he can do is to report to the Senate what he discussed with the Borno governor and allow the Senators to take a decision.

Mr. Saraki also spoke about some of the issues he discussed with Mr. Buhari.

 

Source: Premium Times

Police arrest amputee, three others for supposedly impersonating Tinubu, Saraki.

Detectives attached to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Intelligence Response Team (IRT) have arrested four persons for allegedly impersonating the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Ali Monguno.

The suspects, identified as High Chief Ovie Ogogo, 47; Abdulazeez Eragbe, 40; Babatunde Oshamoto 49; and Samuel Idah, on different occasions had also impersonated the Minister of Petroleum, Minister of Finance, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as well as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

Force Police Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Moshood Jimoh, who confirmed the arrest, said the suspects are members of a notorious syndicate that specializes in impersonating prominent citizens.

He said their arrest is sequel to series of complaints, which the IGP Ibrahim Idris received from members of the public on the activities of the criminals. He said based on the strength of the complaints, the IGP directed Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Abba Kyari, to fish out members of the gang.

“After three days of unrelenting follow-up and intelligence, they were tracked down to a luxury hotel in Kaduna and arrested there. The suspects at different fora posed as Chief of Staff to President, NSA, Minister of Petroleum, Minister of Finance, Chief Bola Tinubu, and Senate president.”

The police spokesman said investigation revealed that Samuel Idah is the one who supplies the gang with SIM cards allegedly registered in the names of prominent Nigerians.
Fourteen different phones with SIM cards registered in the names of top government officials and a diary containing phone numbers of several top government officials and popular Nigerians were recovered from the suspects.

They further confessed to have made over N20 million from their criminal activities within the last six months, and mentioned one Prince Maurice based in United Kingdom as their gang leader.

“They admitted posing as the Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr. Babachir David to swindle one Nnamdi Udo of N4 million.” The Force PRO disclosed the said Nnamdi was allegedly looking for a federal appointment.

 

Source: The Guardian

Police arrest ex-SSS official who ‘stole’ N310 million allegedly belonging to Saraki

The police have arrested a former operative of the State Security Service who was dismissed from the service over his alleged robbery of a bureau de change operator.

Abdulrasheed Maigari, 35, was arrested in Abuja by police anti-kidnap squad in a surveillance operation conducted between March 26 and 28.

Mr. Maigari, a native of Taraba State, was arrested alongside 10 other suspected criminals for allegedly kidnapping Issa Salami, a former General Manager of Peugeot Automobile Nigeria.

The other suspects as identified in a statement released by police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, are: Kelvin Emeka, 28, from Owgu LGA in Enugu State; Ndubusi Prince Ozor, 31, from Nsukwato LGA Abia State; Sunday Travnor, 33, from Ovi LGA in Nasarawa State and Zayor Alfred 23, from Obi LGA of Nasarawa State

The remaining suspects are: Avah Joseph, 25, from Ogbadibo LGA in Benue State; Gabriel Friday, 33, from Ogbadibo LGA Benue State; Rajab Baba Ishiaka, 22, from Wukari LGA Taraba State; Ali Sani, 27, from Takum LGA Taraba State; Nuhu Sule, 20, from Takum LGA Taraba State and Mohammed Abubakar, 21, Mokwa LGA of Niger State.

The police said the suspects were identified by their victims.

“They also confessed to the crime admitting to the various roles they played in the commission of various kidnappings, armed robberies and other violent crimes linked to them,” Mr. Moshood, a chief superintendent of police, said.

In December 2015, the State Security Service announced the arrest of its personnel, including Mr. Maigari, who allegedly robbed a bureau de change operator in Abuja of N310 million.

But the secret police was silent on the identity of the victim.

Sahara Reporters later identified Mr. Saraki as the owner of the huge sum and detailed how the Senate President allegedly engaged the service of a money changer, Abubakar Dantani, to help move the money to his house.

Mr. Maigari and his colleagues in the SSS allegedly robbed a van bearing the N310 million cash as it was about driving into Mr. Saraki’s residence in Abuja.

But Mr. Saraki denied ownership of the fund at the time.

The police said the robbery case was still pending in court, but Mr. Maigari was granted bail.

He allegedly joined another gang that had terrorised people in Abuja metropolis within the last few months until he was arrested this week in connection with Mr. Salami’s kidnap.

The police said the following arms and ammunition were recovered from the suspects: One AK 47 rifle, three AK 47 magazines, ninety rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition, two pistols, fourteen rounds of 9mm live ammunition.

Two bedroom apartments used by the suspects at different locations in Suleija, near Abuja, were also recovered and will be used as exhibit, the police said.

Mr. Moshood said Mr. Maigari and other suspects will be charged to court upon completion of investigation.

 

Source: Premium Times

Saraki, Dogara give 2017 budget panels tomorrow deadline.

Senate President Bukola Saraki has given the committees deliberating on the 2017 budget proposal a final deadline of tomorrow (Thursday) to submit their reports.

Also at the House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogara announced Thursday March 30, 2017 as deadline for committees in the House to turn in their reports of 2017 budget to the Committee on Appropriation.

Saraki, who handed down the deadline after a closed-door session of about two hours yesterday, expressed disappointment that over 20 committees are yet to submit report to the Danjuma Goje-led Appropriation Committee.

Making the announcement on the floor of the House, Dogara said there was the need to urgently consider and pass the 2017 Appropriation bill.

He urged committees yet to conclude the scrutiny of the various budgetary sums of the government organs they supervise, to quickly do so and turn in their reports to the committee.

Meanwhile, four members of the House of Representatives: Ahmed Babba Kaita, Karimi Sunday, Eucharia Azodo and Aishatu Jibril Dukku sponsored four separate but related bills aimed at amending the Electoral Act 2010.

The proposed amendment to the Electoral Act to provide for death of a presidential or gubernatorial candidate during an on-going election.”

The bills further seek to provide a time line for the submission of lists of candidates, criteria for substitution of candidates and to empower the commission to uphold party primaries where there is a change in the results and for other related matters.

Sunday (Kogi: Yagba: PDP), whose bill is aimed at averting the Kogi electoral debacle wanted the inclusion of a new sub-section 2 to Section 33 of the Electoral Act by removing the ambiguity or lacuna that may arise as a result of the death of a presidential or gubernatorial candidate after commencement of poll but before conclusion of the said election.

Also, the House of Representatives yesterday passed a motion to stop the commercialization of some key maritime services of the Nigeria Navy (NN).

Adopting a motion moved by Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma at the plenary presided by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the House urged the Ministry of Defence to ensure the directive is carried out with immediate effect.

The lawmakers further resolved to set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the arrangement for a business model between the Ministry of Defence, the Nigerian Navy and Shorefac Consortium Ltd and others on the commercialization of the Nigerian Navy .

The Senate yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to provide funds to redeem all Federal Government pension indebtedness of about N174billion.

This followed a motion, titled “The untold hardship of pensioners occasioned by government’s failure to contribute its statutory share of 5 per cent to the Pension Redemption Fund,” sponsored by Senator Emmanuel Paulker (PDP Bayelsa Central).

Source: The Guardian

Car dealer absolves Saraki of role in Senate N300 million vehicle scandal

A car dealer, Lanre Shittu, has absolved Senate President Bukola Saraki of any culpability in respect of the nearly N300 million bullet proof Range Rover imported with fake documents and seized by the Nigerian Customs Service.

Mr. Shittu appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, tasked to investigate the car seizure scandal, on Monday, alongside the importer of the vehicle, Tokunbo Akindele, and Mr. Saraki.

Like Mr. Shittu, Mr. Akindele also testified, under oath, that the luxury vehicle was not imported for Mr. Saraki, but that it was originally procured in 2015 for use by oil firm, Oando.

Mr. Akindele, also a staff of Oando, said the company later reviewed its decision “because we have alternative.”

Mr. Shittu, Chief Executive of Lanre Shittu Motors, said he was then approached by Wale Tinubu, the Oando boss, in October 2016 for the consigning the car to his (Mr. Shittu’s) company.

He said, in respect of the car, his company had no deal with Mr. Saraki but the Senate, adding that he bided, following advert, and supplied the vehicle.

Both the dealer and the importer said it was in 2017 that they discovered the customs documents for the car were fake, blaming the NCS operatives instead.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on House Service, Mr. Gobir, told the investigative committee that the Senate bought “vehicles from dealers, and dealers from importers”.

He said the Senate President had nothing to do with the car or the fake documents.

Speaking at the hearing, Mr. Saraki said he was not a car dealer or importer, nor did he ask anybody to help him import the seized vehicle.

“I did not import any vehicle. I did not ask anybody to import any vehicle on my behalf,” said Mr. Saraki.

“It is important that I clear my name, the documents are there and none of the documents are in my name.”

He said the end user certificate showed whom the vehicle was imported for.

The members of the probe committee had put questions to the respondents – Messrs. Saraki, Shittu, Gobir and Akindele – on whether the Senate President had any link with the seized vehicle and the documents.

The committee chaired by Samuel Anyanwu resolved to adjourn hearing to Tuesday and that the NCS should be present to state its side in the matter.

Although Mr. Saraki may not have personally imported the vehicle, a National Assembly, Lagos liaison office document suggests it was procured as an official car of the senate president.

Mr. Saraki did not say on Monday who was meant to use the bullet proof car.

 

Source: Premium Times

Senate President Saraki Appears Before Senate Committee On Ethics

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has appeared before Senate Ethics Committee investigating allegations of importation of a vehicle with fake document.

The Senate President told the committee that he is not an importer and no document has his name on it as the importer.

Earlier, the Nigerian Senate had said it was set to investigate the allegation against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, over the seizure of a bulletproof Sports Utility Vehicle by the Nigeria Customs Service.

The Customs was said to have seized the vehicle belonging to the Senate President for unpaid duties valued at 74 million Naira.

 

Source: Channels TV

What we discussed with Buhari — Saraki, Dogara

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said they visited President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss matters of “national interest”.

The leaders of the National Assembly met with the president behind close doors for 40 minutes.

Mr. Saraki told State House correspondents that the president “engaged them very well”.
He said they specifically “came to discuss issues and activities of the National Assembly during the absence of the president”.

Mr. Saraki said the meeting centred on the “budget, the economy, CBN, Euro bond, the issue of the ambassadorial list, the stability in the Niger Delta, and a whole range of issues”.

Mr. Saraki said the Senate has a target to pass the 2017 budget this month.

On his perception of the president’s state of health, the senate president said Mr. Buhari met with them for 40 minutes, adding “I was not talking to myself.? He is doing very well, we discussed issues of national interest”.

On his part, Mr. Dogara said they were not at the villa to assess the president’s health.

He said the journalists who are always there surely knew the president was doing well.

On the relationship between the executive and legislature, Mr. Dogara said it was not in the place of the legislature to fight the executive.

“We fight on issues but mostly issues of national interest. We fight on behalf of the people for the purpose of progress.

“There is one government and no division. If he fails, we all fail, so it is in realisation of this that we always extend the needed support to ensure that he succeeds, so that the government will be rated as a success,” he said.

ONGOING: President Buhari in meeting with NASS leaders, Saraki and Dogara.

President Muhammadu Buhari is currently holding a meeting with Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

The meeting is holding inside the president’s offfice at the Aso Rock presidential villa.

The two leaders of the legislature arrived the president’s office at exactly 12p.m.

The meeting is still ongoing.

NASS May Amend Laws On Power Generation – Saraki

Amending the laws on power generation, transmission and distribution may be the best approach to solving Nigeria’s electricity problems.

This was the observation made by Senate President Bukola Saraki, during a guided tour of an energy self-sufficient village in Germany.

He said the National Assembly has to amend the laws to allow communities generate energy and to allow creativity and the involvement of the private sector.

“In trying to find a solution to our problem, we might start thinking about decentralisation.

“Looking at what we have seen here, if we can do same, whether by using solar or even wind, and more importantly decentralize, maybe that might begin to address some issues.”

In an interview with Channels Television, the project leader of the energy self-sufficient village, Werner Frohwitter, also expressed optimism that Nigeria would benefit from switching to renewable energy for electricity generation.

Also as part of efforts to attract German investments into Nigeria and improve economic relations between both countries, Senator Saraki had met with German businessmen last week.

Himself and his team assured investors that the Nigerian government is removing inhibitions to doing business in Nigeria and that the Nigerian parliament is enacting laws in this regard.

 

Source: Channels TV

CJN Onnoghen Will Revive Judiciary – Saraki

President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, says the newly sworn in Chief Justice of Nigeria Mr Walter Onnoghen has enough time on his hands to revive the judiciary.

Speaking to journalists after the swearing in ceremony, Saraki stated that the Senate had drilled the CJN when he appeared before the House for confirmation.

According to him, the Senate took him up on important issues such as the independence of the judiciary.

He then expressed optimism that Justice Onnoghen has all it takes to turn the judiciary around within four years.

“We want to see an independent Judiciary, we want to see a judiciary that would also co-operate with other arms of government, doing a lot of reforms.

“I am confident that with time on his side and with commitment to some of the issues he has talked about, he would deliver.

“A lot is expected of him, Usually, CJNs have a very short period of time, but he would have no excuse not to deliver on reforming the judiciary – we hope he does that and we wish him all the best.”

Other dignitaries that witnessed the swearing in ceremony at the Presidential Villa include: former CJNs members of the Federal Executive Council, Justices of the Supreme Court, his family members, among others.

 

Source: Channels TV

Senate President Saraki leads senators on three-day trip to Germany

Senate President Bukola Saraki will on Tuesday lead a five-man delegation on a three-day visit to Bundestag, the German parliament.

Yusuph Olaniyonu, special adviser on media and publicity to the senate president, disclosed this in a statement.

Olaniyonu said the visit is aimed at promoting economic relations between Nigeria and Germany, as well as for the purpose of peer review.

He added that the delegation would also meet German-African business groups

Members of the delegation include Bala Ibn Na’allah, deputy leader of the senate; Monsurat Sunmonu, chairman, foreign affairs committee; Enyinnaya Abaribe, chairman, committee on power; and Abubakar Kyari, chairman, committee on defense.

The visit will commence with a trip to a German village, Feldheim, which was the first community in the country to achieve 100 percent self-sufficiency in renewable energy.

“This will enable the Nigerian delegation to learn a few things on how to resolve the nation’s perennial energy crisis,” Olaniyonu said.

“The senators will at different times meet with Dreye, the president of the Bundestag, Johannes Singhammer, her deputy, Thomas Silberhorn, the parliamentary state secretary in charge of the federal ministry for economic co-operation and development, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Walter J. Lindener, head of Julius Berger, and, Ralf Wieland, president of the Berlin house of representatives.

“They will also hold discussions with economic representatives of the German-African business association, the parliamentary friendship group for relations with the English and Portuguese speaking states of west and central Africa of the Bundestag and attend plenary of the German parliament.

“The legislators, apart from visiting important legislative institutions in Berlin, will hold discussions with Nigerian embassy officials and discuss possible ways of engaging with the German authorities to further attract German investment into Nigeria and improve economic relations between both countries.”

 

Source: The Cable

Saraki hints at legislative solution to farmers/herdsmen clashes

From the National Assembly comes a promise of legislative antidote to the deadly and perennial attacks by herdsmen on farming communities in the country.

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, broke the cheering news in Gboko Benue State, while delivering his remarks at the coronation ceremony of the new Tor Tiv, His Majesty, the Begha U Tiv, Orchivirigh Professor Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse.

Saraki noted that the Senate was paying serious attention to Bills, which were aimed at reversing the negative trends in the agricultural sector stressing that the much needed economic diversification to put the national economy back on track would remain a mirage if violent clashes continued.

Ortom explained that when passed into law, the ranches would forestall the incessant clashes between farmers and herders in the state.

In his speech, the new Tor Tiv, said his regime would pay more attention to addressing issues of moral decadence, falling standard of education, and security challenges.

It would be recalled that in November 2016, the Senate rejected a Bill seeking the establishment of National Ranches Commission for Regulation, Preservation and Control of Ranches.

The Senate also jettisoned another Bill that sought to establish Grazing Management Agency, which will ensure the creation of grazing areas across the country. While the Grazing Reserve Bill, was sponsored by Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano Central), his Benue Northeast counterpart sponsored the Ranches Commission Bill.

 

Source: The Guardian

DSS raid on judges’ homes was a needless violation of the law – Saraki

Bukola Saraki, senate president, says the raid conducted on judges’ homes in October 2016 was a needless violation of Nigeria’s laws.

The homes of seven judges were raided by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) on allegations of corruption.

Speaking on Thursday at a national dialogue on the fight against corruption organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Saraki said the operation by DSS without search warrants “leaves much to be desired”.

The senate president who was represented by Chukwuka Utazi said, “The recent so-called sting operation by the Department of State Services on the residences of some very senior justices, some without search warrants, others without any proof of incriminating body of evidence, leaves much to be desired.

“It is even more instructive that by Section 2(1)(e) of the EFCC Act, the Department of State Services sits on the board of the EFCC and could easily, in their meetings, point out the persons or bodies the EFCC needs to investigate and prosecute backed up by the evidence it has clandestinely gathered.

“That sting operation was a needless violation of our laws and an aberration that democratic society should consider anathema. The EFCC should have been provided the necessary intelligence to execute its mandate if the evidence disclosed a prima facie case against the justices.

“In the same vein, PACAC should not lend itself to supporting extra-legal actions if the fight against corruption must be sustained and ingrained in the body polity. A situation where PACAC speaks in favour of patently extra-legal means of law enforcement does not bode well for the rule of law.”

 

Source: The Cable

False Asset Declaration: Senate President Saraki’s Trial Continues.

The trial of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, over alleged false assets declaration, has continued, with the cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Samuel Madujemu.

The witness told the tribunal that he is not in possession of the report of investigation conducted on the senate president’s asset declaration.
Under cross examination, the defence counsel, Kanu Agabi, asked if he was a member of the team in 2006 when a team was set up to investigate Saraki’s claim.

The witness said he was not a member of the team but was a member of the team set up in 2015 to review the earlier report by the 2006 team.

When asked why he swore an affidavit affirming knowledge of the investigation, Mr Madujemu said that the earlier report as told to him by the EFCC, was scanty.

Also, when asked if he had any record by the EFCC declaring the report scanty, he said that he had a mental record because he had only been informed orally by the EFCC members of the team.

The witness was also asked why he did not invite the Senate President as part of his investigation and in response, he said the statements on the senate president’s asset form were enough for the investigation.

He further stated that besides that, it was the prerogative of the chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau to invite a public servant for interview, even though it was the convention at the bureau.

 

Source: Channels TV

Facebook lauds Saraki for opening up N’Assembly via platform

World’s most popular social media platform, Facebook, has commended Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for opening up the activities of the 8th National Assembly through various channels, especially the daily Facebook Live Video streaming of Senate plenary sittings.

The Chief Product Officer and Company Lead on Product Management and Development of Facebook, Christopher Cox, gave the commendation while speaking at The Future of Media Keynote Session and opening of the annual Social Media Week held at the Landmark Centre in Lagos on Monday.

Reacting to the development, the Office of the President of the Senate in a statement yesterday said it was “indeed delighted at the endorsement of the Senate President” by the social media giant, Facebook.

According to the Special Assistant to the Senate President on New Media, Bamikole Omishore, “This commendation reinforces one of the core mandates of the Senate President to the New Media unit, which is to bridge the gap between the Senate and Nigerians.”

“The Nigerian Senate facebook live streaming has an average view of four million unique clicks monthly for the plenary live feeds and we will be expanding coverage to courtesy calls, committee hearings and oversights in the next few months.

“You would recall that Saraki personally attended the 2016 edition of the Social Media Week in company of Senators Foster Ogola, Dino Melaye and Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi amongst others, where he spoke on the topic: ‘Promoting Online Communities to improve Participatory Governance’ and subsequently had a no-holds-barred interaction with traditional and social media enthusiasts on how to continue bridging the gap between elected government officials and Nigerians passionate about the use of social media for political engagement.

“We are encouraged to do more with this commendation and wish to kindly reiterate and assure our friends, from the online community and beyond, of the commitment of the Senate President towards ensuring that the 8th National Assembly continues to witness improved transparency and accountability on government functions and people participation,” he said.

Osinbajo, Saraki, Dogara meet, discuss speedy passage of 2017 budget.

There are expectations that the 2017 Budget would be passed in earnest based on the level of rapport developing between top government officials in the Executive and Legislative arms in the country.

A meeting was held Thursday night between the leadership of the two arms of government at Aso Rock “discussing the Federal Government budget proposals now before the National Assembly,” according to a statement by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande.

The meeting hosted by the Acting President at his official residence lasted about an hour and was attended by members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Management Team and members of the leadership of both the Senate and House of Representatives including Senate President Bukola Saraki and House Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

The meeting discussed issues and developments around the 2017 budget, while both sides also exchanged ideas and compared notes in order to ensure that this year’s budget passage process is better and faster than previous times.

During the meeting, held in a convivial atmosphere, there were also discussions on the need to ensure that key projects of the Federal Government aimed at enhancing the speedy recovery of the Nigerian economy are well taken care-of in the appropriations that will now emerge from the legislative arm of government to the Presidency.

The Wednesday night meeting also created the opportunity for both arms of the Nigerian government to work on clearing the grey areas in the budget and arrive at agreements on key and related issues.

 

Source: Premium Times

FG Files Fresh Charges Against Senate President Saraki

The Federal Government has filed fresh charges against the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki, who is standing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The Federal Government who had at the last sitting increased the charges to 17, told the court that it has filed a further amendment bringing the charges to 18.

The Senate President pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

In the new charges, the Senate President is accused of making false declaration, when he declared that he purchased a property at number 15A Macdonald Street Ikoyi, Lagos through his company Carlisle Properties Limited in 2003, but the said property was actually sold to G and C Real Estates Properties and Investment Company limited for 12million Naira.

He is also accused of making false declaration that he acquired the properties through sales of agricultural commodities, when it was purchased using a loan from a commercial bank.

The Trial has continued with an investigator from the Code of Conduct Bureau, Mr. Samuel Madojemu, the Head of Investigation Department in the Code of Conduct Bureau.

 

Source: Channels TV

“I am not guilty of false assets declaration charges”, Saraki tells CCT.

Senate President Bukola Saraki has pleaded not guilty to charges of false asset declaration a third time.

The federal government had amended the charges it filed against Saraki, necessitating a fresh plea.

On February 8, Rotimi Jacobs, the prosecution counsel, brought a notice of an amendment to the charges before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

He said the amendment was based on evidence that had already been tendered? at the tribunal.

?In September 2015, the government filed a 13-count charge of false asset declaration? against the senate president. Saraki took his first not-guilty plea at the time.

And in February 2016, the government amended the charges, adding three additional alleged offences, which made them 16.

But on Thursday, two more charges were added?, making them 18.

The ?case was in progress at the time of filing this report.

 

Source: The Cable

EFCC to interrogate Dino Melaye, AMMC on Saraki’s ‘invisible’ N125m house.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will invite Dino Melaye, chairman senate committee on FCT, for questioning over an “invisible” N125 million building purportedly rented for the senate president, TheCable has learnt.

The commission will also invite officials of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) for interrogation.

The property is said to be located at Plot 973, Mban Close, off Pope John Paul Street, Maitama, Abuja, rented at N50 million per year on a two-year tenancy, with fees and VAT bringing the total cost to N125 million.

But the building could not be traced by TheCable after several searches.

TheCable had reported that the AMMC – in league with Melaye’s committee – rented the property from Legendark Consultants for the senate president.

The senate president, who lives in his own house at Lake Chad Crescent, Maitama, has since denied knowledge of the deal.

TheCable had also reported that a second house purportedly rented for Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu at Plot 22, Vaal Street, off Rhine Street, Maitama, Abuja, is unoccupied.

Ekweremadu still lives at his personal residence at the Apo Legislative Quarters, and his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, said he is not aware of the property.

Curiously, the key players in the affair refused to pick up calls or reply to SMS from TheCable.

However, an official of the EFCC has told TheCable that the agency will invite the principal actors for questioning “anytime from now”.

TheCable understands that officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), which superintends the AMMC, have confirmed that payment was actually made for the property.

But Melaye has described the documents as “made in Taiwan”.

 

Source: The Cable

Onnoghen’s confirmation imminent as Osinbajo writes the Senate.

Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday read the letter from Acting President Yemi Osinbajo urging the confirmation of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) at the plenary.

Onnoghen has been in office in acting capacity since November last year and his tenure elapsed on February 10, 2017. The National Judicial Council (NJC), which had nominated Onnoghen for the position, re-nominated him on February 9, a day before the expiration of his three-month tenure.

The acting president’s letter reads in part: “Following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), I hereby notify you of the appointment of the Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen CFR as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Also, Saraki yesterday read the letter from President Muhammadu Buhari seeking the extension of his vacation in the U.K.

Saraki told senators he met President Muhammadu Buhari, who is currently on vacation in London, in “good health,” adding that the president will be back with them in the country very soon.

“I am happy to report that we met the President in good spirit, in good health, chatty as usual and convey his best wishes and hopes to be back very soon.”

Meanwhile, Acting President Osinbajo will launch Sovereign Green Bonds at the conference for investors and capital markets operators at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos on Thursday.

A statement made available to The Guardian indicated that the conference is organised by the Federal Ministry Environment in collaboration with Ministry of Finance and Debt Management Office.

The Minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed, was quoted as saying that Green Bonds Project present a huge opportunity to discuss next step in the diversification of the economy and it will bring together institutional investors, banking finance and young social entrepreneurs.

 

Source: The Guardian

JUST IN: PDP caucus asks Saraki to remove Andy Uba from senate.

The senate caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked Senate President Bukola Saraki to sack Andy Uba from the senate.

Uba, who represents Anambra south at the upper legislative chamber, formally announced his defection from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday.

Speaking after Saraki read a letter conveying Uba’s decision on the floor of the senate, Godswill Akpabio, senate minority leader, asked the senate president to declare Uba’s seat vacant.

He also asked him to remove Uba as chairman of the senate committee on public accounts. But Saraki did not grant his requests.

Akpabio had made the same demands when three other senators from his party defected to the APC recently. But none was granted.

The PDP seats at the senate have plummeted to 41, while the APC maintains the majority seats of 65.

 

Source: The Cable

Guardian’s reporter threatened with arrest over proposed interview with Buhari

Security staff at the Abuja House in London yesterday called in policemen to arrest a correspondent of The Guardian who was on the premises to see President Muhammadu Buhari and possibly interview him.

When the correspondent told a member of staff at the Abuja House, the official residence of the Nigerian High commissioner to the United Kingdom, yesterday afternoon that he had come to see the president, he replied: “As far as I’m concerned, he’s not here.”

At 2:50 p.m., when a black Mercedes jeep arrived, the occupant sitting by the driver rolled down the glass and asked the The Guardian correspondent, “why are you here?” “When I told him that l was a reporter with The Guardian and l had come to see if the president was there and to interview him, he looked quite irritated and replied angrily: ‘he’s not here, you can’t see anybody here.’ “

Prior to that, the security staff threatened the reporter with the police when he called at the Kensington residence to interview President Buhari about his continued stay in the UK.

A few minutes after The Guardian arrived at the Abuja House, just after 1:00 p.m., wanting to speak to the high commissioner, the reporter was directed to go to the Embassy- Nigerian House at Northumberland Avenue. “Somebody should be there,” he was told.

Around 1:20 p.m., when a man and a teenage-looking girl wearing glasses pressed the buzzer, a security officer appeared to open the gate for the duo. When asked:”Is that the daughter of the president?” – judging by her resemblance of the First Lady- the security officer replied: “I don’t know.” He then reiterated that the reporter should go to the office at Northumberland Avenue.

When The Guardian pressed the buzzer about five minutes later, the security man sounded angry and threatened to call the police even when the reporter disclosed his identity and said he had come to speak to the president or any member of staff of the residence. “You should realise this is a private place and I will call the police,” he said. When he was immediately corrected and told that the reporter was standing outside in a public place, he then said:” l won’t speak to you again.”

But around 1:40 p.m., when two guests arrived, the reporter shook hand with one of them and asked, “have you come to see Mr. President?” He replied cheerfully, saying “yes”, but he didn’t enter the compound. He left about 15 minutes later.

Another security officer came out shortly after and told the reporter to move away from the main gate. “Excuse me, you can’t just stand here,” he said.

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was also at Abuja House, a strong indication that Buhari may actually be there. At 5:13p.m., Saraki emerged from the house in a black suit, accompanied by a male aide.

Meanwhile, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose has accused the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of politicising the health status of President Buhari by their visitation to London which he described as “make-belief and too much of eye-service.”

Fayose said he had “temporarily suspended” his criticism of the president because of his health challenges. The governor spoke on a live programme tagged, ‘Meet Your Governor’ aired on the state-owned Ekiti Television and Radio Stations on Saturday.

Fayose who prayed for sound health for the president said his desire for a better Nigeria accounted for why he had been criticising the Federal Government when things were not done the right way.

“I don’t have any problem with the president; the only problem I have is with his handlers. They will say something today and say another ?tomorrow. Anybody can fall sick,” he said.?

Besides, the Anglican Bishop, Diocese of Lagos West, Rt. Revd. James Olusola Odedeji yesterday cautioned Nigerians against wishing the president dead but rather pray for his health and wellbeing so that he could succeed in delivering his electoral promises to the nation.

Odedeji spoke at the induction and installation of Venerable Adegoke Oludare Agara as the Dean of Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral held at the church in Ikeja, Lagos.

He said: “It is unfortunate in this country that Nigerians do hate their leaders. The rate at which people are willing to wish the president of the country dead is alarming. What are we going to gain if he dies?’’

 

Source: Guardian

PDP lawmakers criticise non-inclusion of their member to meet Buhari in London

Some opposition lawmakers on Thursday questioned the non-inclusion of one of them in the National Assembly delegation that recently visited President Muhammadu Buhari.

The lawmakers, including House Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, suggested there was a decision to exclude members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from the visit even though one of them – Ike Ekweremadu – is the Deputy Senate President.

Notwithstanding, the PDP lawmakers —exactly a half dozen in total— who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES in separate telephone interviews ,Thursday evening, said they were happy to learn from the media that the visit was productive and the president was in good health.

The reactions came a day after Senate President Bukola Saraki travelled to the United Kingdom with Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, to see Mr. Buhari in London.

The trio arrived in London around Wednesday evening and met with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr. Buhari left Nigeria for London on annual vacation January 19, with a promise to return on February 6. He also noted that he would see his doctors while there and handed over power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

But on February 5th, a day before he was due to return, the president sent another letter to the National Assembly, informing lawmakers of his intention to extend the trip until his doctors complete ‘a cycle’ of medical examination on him.

The prolonged absence, which came amidst raging economic crisis, got many Nigerians worried.

Although he had telephone conversations spread over several days with individuals, including Messrs. Saraki and  Dogara as well U.S. President Donald Trump, startling rumours about his health persisted.

But the visit by the National Assembly leaders on Wednesday helped convince many Nigerians that the president was not dead or bedridden.

Mr. Saraki declared in a Twitter update shortly after seeing the president that there was “no cause for alarm.”

Mr. Dogara reported Mr. Buhari was “fit as a fiddle.”

But some PDP lawmakers said Messrs. Saraki and Dogara should have included at least one member of the opposition on the trip.

Even though the lawmakers did not allege foul play or cover up during the visit, they raised concerns about absence of one of them.

Mr. Ogor likened the visit to a similar one paid by APC leaders, Bola Tinubu and Bisi Akande.

“You’re aware that the first visit was done by Tinubu and Akande,” Mr. Ogor told PREMIUM TIMES. “There was no PDP member that participated in that visit, so you can clearly see that it is more of a political party thing.”

Mr. Ogor, from Delta State, said he got wind of the visit early enough and was elated to see the president in good spirit.

“I have a hint of the visit much earlier. I saw the president smiling. I saw the Senate President smiling. I saw the Speaker smiling. And when I saw that picture, I also smiled.

“We thank God for his live. We wish him well,” Mr. Ogor said.

But he insisted that those who made the journey did so in their own personal capacity because there was no consensus amongst lawmakers delegating any group of persons for the journey.

“But I am convinced that that visit was purely based on political colouration. So, it is totally inconsequential because we were not invited.

“It is at the discretion of the president to invite whoever he wants to see him.

“It is not a National Assembly delegation. It is like a private visit to see the president. First, you know we’re not in session. Neither was there any resolution of the House or that of the Senate to go and see the president,” he said.

Mr. Ogor’s position was echoed by another lawmaker from Kogi State.

“I did not hear about this visit before,” the lawmaker said. “I read it last night on PREMIUM TIMES and I was initially shocked, but then said to myself: ‘no need to be surprised about anything these people do.”

“Since we weren’t told ahead, I think it’s very clear that they weren’t making the trip on our behalf,” the PDP lawmaker, who sought anonymity so as not to be seen criticising the House leadership, said. “And they’ve clearly expressed that in the manner they picked those who went on the trip.”

A source in Mr. Ekweremadu’s office claimed the Deputy Senate President was not informed about the trip.

“They didn’t invite the Deputy Senate President on the trip,” the source said, refusing to be quoted. “They bypassed him down to the Senate Leader for reasons we still don’t know.”

The source’s claim could not be independently verified.

The source said Mr. Ekweremadu just returned from a trip abroad but would have followed them to London if invited.

“Yes, he just returned from abroad, but that could not have hindered him from being part of the delegation if they had extended him the courtesy,” he said. “If only to make him be the representative of the southern part of the country instead of all the northern politicians that made the trip.”

The House spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas, and his Senate counterpart, Sabi Abdullahi, did not respond to requests for comments Thursday evening.

The spokespersons for Messrs. Saraki and Dogara also declined comments.

But Nicholas Ossai, a PDP lawmaker from Delta State, said he had no reservations about the makeup of the delegation.

Mr. Ossai said even though adding a PDP member would have been good, it would not make much difference since the delegates were duly elected by all lawmakers to represent the National Assembly as an institution.

“We believe in the Speaker and the Senate President,” Mr. Ossai said. “We have confidence in them that they’ll tell us the true position of things.”

“We didn’t elect them as APC Speaker or Senate President of the APC. We elected them on the basis that we have confidence in them and we believe in them to tell us the truth.”

“This is a leadership of complete explanation and transparency. Probably taking an opposition along would have been a boost, but, all the same, we believe in our leadership,” Mr. Ossai said.

Saraki, Dogara Travel To Meet Buhari In London.

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara have travelled to London to meet President Muhammadu Buhari.

A source at the National Assembly confirmed this to Channels Television.

The Senate President and the Speaker left for London on Wednesday morning, to meet with President Buhari who has extended his vacation indefinitely to attend to his health.

Buhari Extends Return 

The President had on February 5,2017 written to the National Assembly informing of his desire to extend his leave in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.

This was according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.

“The President had planned to return to Abuja this (Sunday) evening, but was advised to complete the test cycle before returning.

“The notice has since been dispatched to the Senate President, and Speaker, House of Representatives.

“Mr. President expresses his sincere gratitude to Nigerians for their concern, prayers and kind wishes,” Adesina stated.

President Muhammadu Buhari embarked on a 10-day vacation on Monday January 23 and was billed to return to work on Monday February 6, 2017.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has since been performing his duties as Acting President.

Activist wants court to bar Saraki, Oduah from screening Magu as EFCC chairman

Raji Oyewumi, an activist, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to disqualify Senate President Bukola Saraki, and 10 other senators from participating in the screening and confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of EFCC.

Mr. Oyewumi, an anti-corruption crusader, in a suit filed in the court on Tuesday, alleged that Mr. Saraki and other senators joined in the suit would be biased if allowed to screen Magu.

Joined in the suit dated February 13, are senators Godswill Akpabio, Jonah Jang, Aliyu Wammako, Stella Oduah, Theodore Orji and Rabiu Kwankwaso.

?Also joined in the suit are senators Ahmed Sani, Danjuma Goje, Joshua Dariye and Abdullahi Adamu.

Others are the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Senate, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Mr. Magu.

According to Mr. Oyewumi, the senators cannot be fair in the screening and confirmation of Magu, since all of them have pending cases before the EFCC?.

?According to him, Mr. Saraki and others are threatened by the leadership of Mr. Magu as EFCC chairman.

He asked the court to determine whether the senate president and other senators would not violate the provisions of Section 56, 172 of paragraph? 1 and 9 of the fifth schedule to the 1999 constitution if they participate in screening Magu.

He prayed the court for an injunction restraining the senate president from presiding over or participating in the screening, deliberation and voting on the nomination of Magu as EFCC chairman.

In the affidavit in support of the ?originating summons, the activist said that the senate president exhibited bias against the confirmation of Magu.

He said the bias was shown when he failed or refused to read the President’s letter on the floor of the Senate until three weeks after.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the matter?.

 

Source: NAN

National Assembly won’t legislate against any religion – Saraki

Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki has assured Nigerians that the Senate will not pass any law against the fundamental rights or freedom of religious practice of Nigerians.

Dr. Saraki who stated this in Ilorin at the close of 31st National Qur’an reading competition at the weekend enjoined all religious leaders in the country to use the word of God to spread love, unity and peace stressing that “we should tolerate and have harmonious relationship and understanding among ourselves.”

He urged Nigerians to pray for quick recovery of President Muhammad Buhari in order to continue to pilot the affairs of the nation.

Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, said the use of religion to perpetuate acts of violence was unfortunate given the emphasis placed on peace and justice by Christianity and Islam. He stated that it was the responsibility of all Nigerians to resist, through peaceful means, those who are bent on misrepresenting religion and fomenting conflict in its name.

According to him, “as a government focused on sustaining peaceful co-existence, we will continue to ensure peace and harmonious relations based on the principles of justice, fairness and equity”.

The governor said he remained committed to equitable distribution of infrastructure, socio-economic programmes adding that no community in the state will be excluded from the benefits of prosperity on account of their religious or political inclinations.

Earlier, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (SCIA), Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, who described religion as a personal matter, hailed the court of appeal’s verdict on the right of female Muslims to wear hijab in Lagos State.

He urged Muslims to always employ legal means in asking for their rights.

“As Muslims, we do not intend to dominate anyone, but what we demand is the freedom to practice our religion. Religion is a personal matter. We should preach peace, stability and peaceful co-existence no matter what religion we profess,” he stated.

He also charged Nigerian leaders to be united in addressing common issues of poverty, unemployment and insurgency.

Saraki: No provision for repair of Abuja airport in 2017 budget

Senate President Bukola Saraki says no provision was made  for the repair of the runway of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja,  in the 2016 and 2017 budgets.

The airport will be closed for repairs from March 8 to April 19.

The project is expected to gulp N5.8bn.

According to a statement issued by Bamikole Omisore, Saraki’s media aide, the senate president said this on Friday while speaking with Sani Bello, Niger state governor.

He said the non-completion of the Minna airport re-modelling project had left the federal government with no option or backup, but to the divert flights to Kaduna.

“It makes a lot of sense to have an option. It is the lack of option that brings us to where we are that we cannot make a good choice,” he said.

“No provision was made, in either the 2016 or 2017 budget, for the rehabilitation of the Abuja airport runaway… one will be wondering how such kind of decisions are arrived at.”

He assured the governor that provision for funding would be made for the completion of the abandoned dualisation of  Suleja-Minna road.

Nigerians can’t continue to suffer like this, says Saraki, as NLC, TUC protest.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Thursday staged a protest at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, over the rising cost of living in Nigeria.

The NLC Chairman, Ayuba Wabba, said the groups were protesting the delay in the upward review of minimum wage amidst increasing cost of items in the country.

“We are here to demand for good governance and express our support in the fight against corruption.

“More importantly, we demand for respect for rule of law, greater accountability and transparency in governance,” Mr. Wabba said.

He expressed worry that Nigerian workers had been the major victims of the fall-out of corruption and bad governance.

“Today the dollar rate is N500 to one dollar and the salaries of Nigerian workers have remained the same.

“Therefore, we are here to urge the National Assembly to play an important role to ensure that life is made better for Nigerians.

“We cannot succeed if the fight against corruption does not succeed.

“We appreciate the efforts by the National Assembly to ensure financial autonomy for the local governments and this must be sustained because money meant for the local governments does not get there.’’

The NLC chairman further expressed concern that in spite of the bailout funds to states for workers’ salaries, “the living condition of workers have not been improved because many are not paid’’.

He explained that pensioners in the country were owed up to 77 months and called on the National Assembly to synergise with other arms of government to pay them.

Contributing, the TUC President, Bobboi Kaigama, said that the inflation rate in the country was growing astronomically.

Mr. Kaigama said that it was time for governments at all tiers to go back to the drawing board to revive the country’s economy.

“Whatever it takes, we must review the structure of our economy.

“If we must have to kill corruption, the laws have to come from the National Assembly.

“Nigerians are hungry, the cost of living is high, no houses, no light and factories have gone comatose,’’ Kaigama said.

Responding, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said it was time to go into action towards addressing the numerous challenges confronting Nigerians.

According to him, we need to sit down and work out how to make necessary adjustments.

“It can’t continue this way, the exchange rate is high, cost of things in the market have gone high but only the workers’ salaries remain the same.

“By the next time we will meet, I will tell you what the National Assembly has done to improve the living condition of Nigerians,” Mr. Saraki said.

 

Source: NAN

“I spoke with President Buhari last night” – Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki has revealed that he had a conversation with President Muhammadu Buhari, who is currently on vacation in the UK.

 

Saraki said the president was in “high spirits”, and that both of them joked about him working late into the night.

 

The number three citizen disclosed this on Twitter.

 

“Happy to have spoken with @NGRPresident @MBuhari tonight. He was in good spirits and joked about my working late into the night, as usual,” he tweeted.

 

 

Saraki’s tweet came hours after Hajiya Rakiya, the only surviving sister of Buhari, said since the president left in January, she has been speaking with him every day.

 

Buhari was expected back in the country on Sunday, but he wrote a letter to the senate, informing the legislative chamber that his vacation had been extended.

 

Buhari’s health condition has drawn a lot of concern from the public, but Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and presidential aides have assured Nigerians that he is “hale and hearty.”

 

On Tuesday, Femi Adesina, his spokesman told Channels Television that Buhari should be expected back in the country “sooner that people think”.

Why we amended false asset declaration charge against Saraki – CCB

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has adjourned the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki to allow the defendant time to peruse the amended charge against the defendant.

The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, had on Wednesday informed the tribunal of its decision to amend the 16-count charge brought against Mr. Saraki.

After Mr. Jacobs stated his client’s request to amend the charge, the tribunal adjourned hearing.

When the session resumed, the defence counsel, Kanu Agabi, asked the court for an adjournment to allow the defendant understand the details of the amended charge.

He prayed the court for an adjournment till February 28, but Mr. Jacobs objected the application saying a long adjournment was unnecessary.

Mr. Agabi had hinged his request on the claim that the prosecution was the one delaying the case.

“This is the second amendment. Are we the ones delaying the trial? It is a serious case. We need to go and study the amendment; we need time.

“He has a right to seek an amendment and we have a right too to seek time to go through the charges,” said Mr. Agabi.

The tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, adjourned the matter to February 23 to take the plea of Mr. Saraki on the amended charges.

Speaking with journalists after the hearing, Mr. Jacobs said the amended charges, now 18-count are based on fresh evidences gotten from the testimonies by witnesses.

“It’s not about an increase in the charge, we just needed to amend it to suit the new evidences from testimonies of witnesses. There is no need to make heavy weather out of this fresh charges; (they are) in line with the former one,” said Mr. Jacobs.

Mr. Saraki’s trial began in 2015, with a 13-count charge, bordering on false asset declaration.

The charges were later increased to 16-counts, in 2016.

BREAKING: Again, FG moves to amend Saraki’s false asset declaration charge.

The Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, has again amended the charges brought against Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Mr. Saraki is facing trial on a 16-count charge for alleged false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Abuja.

The trial, which began in September 2015, was earlier amended in 2016, with an addition of three charges.

A prosecution witness, Samuel Madojemu, was already in the dock presenting his evidence when the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, announced his decision to amend the charges against Mr. Saraki.

After informing the tribunal about the application for hearing on the amended charge, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, said he had not been briefed about the decision to amend the charges.

The defence counsel, however, said they had been served with a motion for the amendment of charge by the prosecution.

Subsequently the matter was stood down for an hour for hearing on the application to amend the charges.

Earlier Mr. Madojemu, who was head of investigation at the CCB, told the tribunal that investigation which led to the trial of Mr. Saraki had been triggered by a previous investigation conducted by a presidential investigation team in 2006.

“When we joined the team, a review of the investigation was done by the CCB, EFCC and other members of the team. In the course of the review, the team discovered that there was a previous report by a Presidential investigation team set up in 2006 consisting the CCB, EFCC and the SSS.

“It was that report which covered the beginning of tenure 2003 of the defendant. That report was what triggered the investigation,” he said.

Mr. Saraki was Kwara governor between 2003 and 2011.

Mr. Madojemu explained that the said investigation began with the EFCC after which the commission forwarded the result of its investigation to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

He said the AGF found the infractions allegedly committed had to do with false declaration of asset and that was how the Code of Conduct Bureau was invited into the matter.

The trial will continue later on Wednesday after the one hour adjournment.

Obasanjo first ordered investigation of Saraki, says FG witness.

Samuel Madojemu, head of investigation at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), has said that a presidential inve?stigative report of 2006 triggered off the investigation of Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Madojemu disclosed this to the agency’s tribunal on Wednesday.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo was in power at the time Saraki was first investigated by the presidential panel.

Testifying before the tribunal in the false asset declaration trial of Saraki, Madojemu? said the report of the panel, which comprised officials of the DSS, CCB and EFCC, was scanty because it only covered the beginning of the first term of Saraki as governor of Kwara state.

Saraki was governor from 2003 to 2011.

The witness said the EFCC later went ahead to conduct a full investigation? on Saraki based on the initial report, but it discovered that the allegations against him bordered on breach of the code of conduct for public officers.

He said the CCB had to review the EFCC report at the end of the investigation because the allegations against Saraki fell within its purview.

?Madojemu, who is the third prosecution witness, was led in evidence by Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the federal government.

Jacobs: What do you know about this case?

Madojemu: The EFCC conducted an investigation on this case.?.. the EFCC conducted investigation on a particular case against the defendant. It was thereafter referred to the ministry of justice. The ministry discovered that the issues therein had to do with breach of code of asset declaration. It thereafter referred the case to the CCB….

Madojemu: The chairman of the CCB directed me and two other persons, namely Samuel Yahaya and Peter Danladi to join the EFCC investigation team. When we joined the team, a review of the investigation was done by the CCB, the EFCC and other members of the team. In the course of the review, the team discovered that there was a previous report by a presidential investigation team set up in 2006 consisting of the CCB, the EFCC and the DSS to investigate the tenure of the defendant from 2003. It was that report which covered the beginning of tenure of the defendant. That report was what triggered the EFCC investigation. But the report was scanty, so a full investigation was later conducted.

 

Source: The Cable

Senate President Saraki appoints new Chief of Staff

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has appointed Baba Ahmed, as his new Chief of Staff.

 

In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, Mr. Saraki said the appointment takes immediate effect.

 

Baba Ahmed, 61, attended the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria as well as London School of Economics and University of Sussex, both in the United Kingdom.

 

He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

 

He replaces Isa Galaudu, who resigned on January 31.

 

Mr. Galaudu first mentioned his decision to step down in November 2016 for personal reasons and both Mr. Saraki and the chief of staff agreed on his final exit at the end of January, the senate president’s office said at the time.

“Power sector was sold to clueless investors”, says Senate President Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday criticised how the power sector was privatised, saying it was sold to individuals who had no idea about how to run it.

He said the mistakes of past governments “born out of ignorance, selfish interests and fraud”, brought Nigeria to this point.

Saraki said this at a workshop on power sector organised by the national assembly in Abuja.

He lamented that the sector, in spite of the enormous resources committed to it for the last 14 years, had remained in a perilous state.

“Today, we are on the verge of a total systemic breakdown and I see this as an opportunity to stop this train from derailing completely,” he said.

“We sold the discos to individuals and parties who had no idea about running a proper power distribution business. Licenses were issues based on cronyism rather than capital adequacy, market experience and capacity to deliver. Agreements were faulty and transaction integrity hardly imperative.

“This is the opportunity for both the legislature and executive to come together to forge a solution to this perennial problem. We cannot afford to waste the opportunity we have now. We owe it to the people who have entrusted us with the privilege of working out solutions to their problems by electing us to our various offices that we are hard on our heels to bring them solutions not complaints.

“We cannot shy away from the fact that inexcusable mistakes have been made in the past that brought us to this point and we must be willing to face up to them and clearly delineate them in order to ensure that we do not return to the mistakes of the past.

“Clearly some of these where innocent mistakes, others were rather the product of selfish interests, some fraudulent, some borne out of ignorance and others glaring lack of capacity apparent from day one. All of these combined has brought us to the mess we now have to face up to.”

Emphasising that the problems in the sector were the country’s own making, the senate president said sacrifice must be made to overcome the challenges.

“Where we are is not an accident. We walked our way into the landmine we are facing with the decisions we made in the past. While privatisation is a right policy recipe to pursue in order to put in place a power sector that can galvanise our economy, we forgot that the participation of the private sector is not an end in itself,” he said.

“We neglected that unless this is done, observing transparency, competition, transaction integrity we might end up with a sector worse than the past. The BPE did things that were inexcusable. To imagine that even the sale proceeds of about $4bn was solely spent towards the payment of pensions and staff. Not one single kobo was expended towards catalysing the sector back to life.

“GENCOS bought generating units without a clear assurance of source of gas to fire plants and government had no active roadmap for delivery of a gas market infrastructure to make this happen. Yet gas companies and the IOCs were exporting our gas out of our shores to create gas markets elsewhere in Europe and Asia while we languished in darkness as a result of incessant, persistent and erratic power outages. In the face of all these our people continued to be called upon to bear inexplicable bills estimated beyond rationale service value.”

 

Source: The Cable

Senate clears Saraki, Dogara, deputies of alleged N600 million rent fraud

The Senate yesterday cleared all four presiding officers of the National Assembly of any complicity in an alleged N600 million house rent fraud.This came on the heels of a disclosure that the gatehouse in the new official residence of the vice president was awarded at the cost of N250 million.

 

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dino Melaye, declared that there was no iota of truth in the allegation.

 

Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara and their deputies, Ike Ekweremadu and Lasun Yusuff, had been accused of collecting N600 million from the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) as rent.

 

Also yesterday’s the chamber’s Committee on Customs and Excise queried the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), for failing to don uniform since 2015 when he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

Responding, Ali said being a former military officer, the statue does not permit him to wear any other uniform. A response that drew the ire of Melaye who cited that Gen. Halidu Hananiya (rtd) wore the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) uniform when appointed the Corps Marshall, but the Customs CG countered, saying Hananiya erred.

 

Source: Guardian

Group demands impeachment of Saraki, Dogara, others over alleged rent fraud

Citing alleged fraudulent involvement in a rent scam, a civil society organisation, Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN) has demanded the immediate resignation of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and some principal officials of the National Assembly.

While briefing the media in Abuja yesterday, the co-convener of the group, Ibrahim Garba Wale, threatened to mobilise Nigerians to occupy the National Assembly if the officials indicted fail to step aside.

Apart from the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, other officials listed by the group included their deputies, Ike Ekweremadu and Yusuf Suleiman Lasun.

The group recently accused the four principal officials of the Assembly of abuse of office in a N630 million fraud through the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) under the guise of renting and renovating their official residences.Despite the rebuttal of the allegations by the aides to the officials, the group said it had evidence that they secretly collected the sum of N150 billion and N120 billion as First Line Charge budget for the National Assembly in the first and second year of the current administration without the knowledge of the members.

However, the Special Assistant to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Yusuf Olaniyonu denied the claim by the group. According to him, “There is no truth in the allegation. In fact, during the preparation of the budget, the Senate President and the Speaker directed the FCDA to remove the N10 billion voted for the construction of their official residence to save cost. The current leadership of the National Assembly will not be part of any illegal payment to anybody.”

Also, the Special Assistant on Media to Dogara, Turaki Hassan described the allegations as spurious. He said the principal officials by their positions were entitled to official accommodation according to the constitution, just like other key state officials who are covered by the government’s monetisation policy.

“Presiding officers of the National Assembly are entitled to official accommodation which is provided by the FCDA as host of the National Assembly. The same is applicable to the President, Vice President and the Chief Justice of Nigeria because their offices were not covered by the monetisation policy.”

Osinbajo meets Saraki, Dogara, others over 2017 budget

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday met with the National Assembly leadership in continuation of consultations between the executive and legislative arms of government over the 2017 budget.

The meeting, held behind closed doors of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara and some cabinet ministers in attendance.

Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Senate President said they discussed issues relating to the nation’s economy, including the 2017 budget proposal before the National Assembly.

According to him, the National Assembly had so far not encountered any problems with the 2017 budget.
“We were meeting on the economy and the budget: the Vice-President, the Speaker, ministers of budget, finance and I. We are aware that the economic team would soon be going on road shows and this meeting was just to brief us and let us know the issues and carry us along. We have started the budget scrutiny, so there are no issues. These are just consultations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Basic Education yesterday took the management of the Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) to task over high overhead cost of the agency in the 2017 budget proposal.

The NERDC Executive Secretary, Professor Ismail Junaid had in his defence of the 2017 budget of the research council before the committee disclosed that N244million was proposed for overhead cost aside major recurrent expenditure to cover salaries and emolument of staffers of the agency.

The committee, however, felt uncomfortable with the proposal more so, when it discovered that out of the figure, a whopping N30million was budgeted for security services, N15 million for fumigation, N19 million for powering of generator among others.

Senator Binta Garuba Marshi (APC Adamawa North) wondered why overhead cost of such an agency would be far more than half of its capital vote of N377million.

Presidency, Saraki dismiss rumours of plot to force Osinbajo’s resignation

The presidency and Senate President Bukola Saraki have dismissed rumours that some governors are putting pressure on Mr. Osinbajo to step down as acting president.

Mr. Osinbajo is currently acting as Nigeria’s president after a letter to that effect was sent to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari shortly before he jetted out to the UK for vacation.

Rumours were rife on social media that Mr. Saraki was working with some governors to force Mr. Osinbajo to resign paving the way for him to serve as acting president.

Mr. Saraki is constitutionally next in hierarchy after Mr. Osinbajo.

In his reaction to the rumours, the political adviser to the president, Babafemi Ojudu, on Wednesday said such reports were “ridiculous.”

“I have read many ridiculous stories saying the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo is being held hostage by some governors who are trying to compel him to resign.

“I have equally received several calls regarding this. The story is simply not true. It is a fabrication. Don’t be a purveyor of fake news,” Mr. Ojudu said.

He also said the Vice President is “behind his desk carrying out his task” and that he presided over the meeting of the Federal Executive Council earlier on Wednesday.

On his part Mr. Saraki advised those peddling the rumour to leave him out of it.

In a statement also on Wednesday by his spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Mr. Saraki said his first reaction after the rumours emerged was to ignore them.

Mr. Olaniyonu said Mr. Saraki was “inundated with calls from across the country and abroad, it became necessary for me to make clarifications from our own end.”

Mr. Saraki said it is a good thing that the Presidency had also dismissed the speculation and showed that there is no substance to it.

“However, I feel it should be known that those behind this baseless, empty and unintelligent mischief are those who do not love this country,” he said.

“Such suggestions as contained in the speculation can only bring ill-will, disunity and crisis to the country and I therefore advise the sponsors to desist immediately. More importantly, these trouble makers should refrain from linking Senator Saraki’s name to their evil plot.”

 

Source: Premium Times

Saraki, Ekweremadu at ‘war’ over President Buhari’s right to send troops to The Gambia

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Chukwuka Utazi have disagreed over the deployment of Nigerian troops to The Gambia without Senate approval.

 

Utazi, (PDP, Enugu North) relying on Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules and Section 5(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari erred by deploying troops outside the country without securing any permission from the Senate.

 

Also relying on Section 5(4)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Ekweremadu said the president could not deploy troops outside the country without any prior approval from the National Assembly.

 

But while responding, Saraki faulted Utazi’s claims and argued that Buhari was still acting within the confines of the law. He said the president could deploy troops, as long as the operation does not exceed seven days.

 

Quoting Section 5(5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Saraki maintained that until the expiration of seven days, no one can fault the action of the president.

BREAKING: Nigerian Senate loses bid to stop deployment of troops to Gambia.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki on Thursday deflected a move asking President Muhammadu Buhari to approach the National Assembly for permission before embarking on any military action in Gambia.

 

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator from Enugu state, Chukwuka Utazi, had raised a constitutional order which was rejected by Saraki who presided over plenary.

 

Standing on order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules, Senator Utazi quoted section  5 (4) of the 1999 constitution which required the consent of both Houses of the National assembly before the President commits the armed forces to any operation outside the shores of the country.

 

In a response, Saraki insisted that Senator Utazi did not read through the details of the said section of the constitution and dismissed the order.

 

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had however insisted that the law is clear on the issue.

 

According to him, aside the declaration of war which was explained in section 5 of the constitution, the President must seek the consent of the National Assembly before deploying the Nigerian armed forces to another country.

 

But the presiding officer was not swayed as the gavel went down to strike out the order.

 

Recall that a Nigerian war ship had been deployed in readiness of possible use of force to remove Yahya Jammeh from office as president of Gambia.

 

Jammeh had lost a general election in December, initially conceded defeat but made a turn around in a bid that is seen as an attempt to hold on to his 22-year reign in power.

JUST IN: President Buhari to proceed on a 10-day vacation

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to proceed on a 10-day vacation beginning from Monday January 23 to Monday February 6, 2017.

 

Buhari disclosed this in a letter, read by Bukola Saraki, the senate President, Thursday, during plenary.

 

The letter read that the 10-day period formed part of his annual vacation for 2017.

 

According to the letter, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is to act as President during the period, which Buhari would be away.

Senate Will Ensure Upgrade Of Minna Airport – Saraki

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, says the Upper Chamber will ensure that the Minna Airport is upgraded to serve its primary function as alternative to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Dr. Saraki explained that the proximity of the Minna airport to the Federal Capital Territory and its standard runway made it an alternative to the Abuja airport.

He noted that with the level of renovation work at the airport and its unique features, the Senate would not allow the facility to remain dormant.

“We have seen the airport and we have discussed it. With its standard and conducive runway and its closeness to Abuja, I don’t believe it should be in its present state; we cannot allow it to remain in this sorry state.

“The Senators from this state will table it on the floor of the Senate and we shall look into it. We shall ensure that we bring the airport to international standard,” Dr. Saraki said.

The Senate President made the remarks before departing Minna for Abuja through the airport, after paying condolence visits to Governor Abubakar Bello and the family of late Abdulkadir Kure, a former Governor of Niger State.

The Minna airport has been serving the airlifting of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for annual pilgrimage for over 10 years.

The renovation work on both the arrival and departure wings of the airport, which was initially built to serve as alternative port to the Abuja airport, was stopped by the previous administration due to lack of funds.

Saraki transferred millions of dollars to own foreign accounts while serving as Governor – GTBank Official

A witness in the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki has told the Code of Conduct Tribunal that Mr. Saraki made foreign funds transfer of over $3 million while he was governor of Kwara State.

 

The Nigerian code of conduct bars public officials including state governors from operating foreign bank accounts.

 

The witness, Nwachukwu Amazu, a banker with the GTBank said Mr. Saraki made several transactions, including a transfer of over $73,000 from his dollar account, maintained with the GTBank to his foreign account in the American Express Service Europe Ltd.

 

He said the purpose of the transfer was to fund a foreign credit card, belonging to the American Express Bank and owned by the defendant.

 

“He has a domiciliary account, with the GTB in US dollars and in pounds sterling. The domiciliary account is domiciled in Ilorin,” he said.

 

When asked to explain the mode of operation of Mr. Saraki’s foreign credit card, the witness said he did not know how the card operates.

 

“I don’t know anything about the card, except if I explain with my knowledge of the GTB credit card in the Nigerian perspective,” he said.

 

Mr. Amazu who worked with the funds transfer unit of the GTB, between 2006 and 2009 before he was transferred; then returned to the unit in 2011, as its head, said Mr. Saraki made other transfers including the transfer of £761, 904. 76 in February 2010.

 

He also said another sum of £632, 411.7 was also transferred for the defendant to Fortis Bank in London.

 

He made several other testimonies of funds transferred through Mr. Saraki’s domiciliary accounts to foreign accounts belonging to the Senate President abroad.

 

Earlier, the Tribunal chairman asked the defendant if he needed water and gestured to offer water to Mr. Saraki, inside the dock.

 

Source: Premium Times

Saraki’s trial will no longer be from day-to-day, says CCT Judge

Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), says the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki will not take place from “day-to-day”.

?This is contrary to his statement in April 2016 that the trial of the senate president would take place every work day.

Earlier, Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the federal government, which is prosecuting Saraki for false asset declaration, had asked the tribunal to adjourn the trial to next week to enable him to call his next witness.

He said some of his witnesses were still in Lagos, and that they would need some time to arrive? in Abuja.

He also prayed the tribunal to give a ruling that the trial would be from day-to-day.

This was after he had re-examined Michael Wetkas, a detective of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and prosecution witness, on some of the statements he made when he was being cross-examined by Paul Usoro, Saraki’s lawyer.

The CCT chairman granted? him his request for an adjournment, but he denied the prayer for a day-to-day trial.

“I’m? going to adjourn this matter to next week, but it cannot go on from day to day. We have other cases,” he said.

He, thereafter, adjourned the case to January 17.

Why I Was Removed As Senate Leader – Senator Ali Ndume

Senator Ali Ndume from Borno State, who was removed as Senate Majority Leader on Tuesday, has revealed why he was ousted.

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, announced Senator Ndume’s removal shortly before the upper legislative chamber adjourned on Tuesday.

Saraki read a letter from the All Progressives Congress caucus asking for leadership change.

Surprisingly, Senator Ndume had stepped out of the senate chamber to observe his early afternoon prayer when Saraki read the letter.

The APC caucus, Saraki said, also chose Senator Ahmed Lawan to replace Ndume.

Lawan was until his new role the chairman of Senate committee on Defence, a position he assumed after losing the June 2015 senate presidency battle to Saraki.

Speaking exclusively with Premium Times hours after his removal, Ndume said he was removed for insisting that the Senate did not follow the proper procedure before declaring that it had rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as head of the EFCC.

Mr. Ndume said he insisted that in view of the Senate’s standard procedures and practice, Mr. Magu had not been rejected by the Senate because there was no confirmation hearing for the nominee to defend claims made against him.

“What I said was that for us (Senate) to claim to have rejected a nominee sent to us by the president, we have to follow the right procedure, and observe our rules,” the senator said.

“The nominee should have been called into the chamber and presented before senators who will then openly vote on whether to accept or reject his or her nomination.
“In the case of Magu, that was not done. We only had a closed-door session and when we emerged the Senate spokesperson claimed that he had been rejected . I had to set the record straight by saying we never rejected the nominee. This is because you don’t accept or reject a nominee at a closed session. Our votes and proceedings are there as evidence of my claims.”

Mr. Ndume said the clarification he made unsettled some of his colleagues, who immediately began to plot against him.

“I was surprised that such a simple and harmless clarification could rattle and anger some of my colleagues,” he said.

“I thought it wasn’t a big deal to disagree over issues. I didn’t realise that that simple matter would snowball into a plot to remove me.
“The other day, somebody mentioned to me that Senate President had commissioned Dino Melaye to collect signatures to remove me . I didn’t pay much attention to the information because I actually thought it was a joke or a rumour.
“I didn’t feel that disagreeing with colleagues, and sharing my understanding of what transpired at our closed session was an offence, grievous enough to cause my removal.”

News Alert!!! Senate Rejects Closure of Abuja Airport

The Senate has kicked against the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and diversion of flights to the Kaduna airport.

The lawmakers also summoned the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, service chiefs and other stakeholders in the aviation industry, giving a 48-hour deadline.

The senate, after a lengthy discussion on the matter during plenary on Tuesday, January 10, resolved to have the minister come around to explain why the airport had to be closed down for the repairs.

Details later…

Senate To Investigate Southern Kaduna Killings, Says Saraki.

Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki on Tuesday pledged that the Nigerian Senate, upon resumption, will look into the crises that have led to the wanton loss of lives and property in the Southern part of Kaduna State, in recent times.

The Senate President made this known while responding to the cry of a concerned Nigerian on Twitter on Monday, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on New Media, Bamikole Omishore, in Abuja.

A twitter user, Chimeze Okoro Ukoha had tweeted: “@Bukolasaraki About 800 Christians massacred in Kaduna and nobody is talking about that. VERY BAD,” the concerned Nigerian told Saraki.

In his response, Saraki said: “Once @NGRSenate resumes, this issue will be addressed to get a clearer picture of what the real situation is and find a lasting solution.”

Saraki went further by also tweeting: “Every Nigerian life matters, and @NGRSenate will work to ensure that rule of law is always upheld as prescribed by Nigerian Constitution.”

 The killings in Southern Kaduna have continued to generate reactions from various quarters, especially among the masses.

Many have questioned why the killings have continued despite the security measures put in place by the Kaduna State Government. A lot of Nigerians have also appealed to the Federal Government to nip the ugly trend in the bud.

Special Assistant on New Media to the Senate President, Bamikole Omishore, said the Senate President is in touch with Senators from that state and constantly getting updates on developments even though the Senate is on recess.  

Senate President Saraki Launches #MadeInNigeria Challenge Competition

The President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Monday launched a contest to promote Made in Nigeria products.

The contest which will run for the best three months is aimed at showcasing the process and raw materials used in producing such locally made goods.

A statement signed by Bamikole Omishore, special assistant on New Media to the Senate President said that the contest will identify the good products that could be matched with investors and relevant government agencies.

He said that such agencies or investors would drive the products to the extent that they compete favourably with any similar product being imported.

“Today, as promised, we kick-start the soft launch of the #MadeInNigeria Challenge.This campaign is organized to showcase everyday products that are used by Nigerians and produced by Nigerians locally that serve as alternative to imported products.

“The next few weeks, we hope to identify products and ideas that can be matched with investors and government agencies. To wrap up the Challenge, in March, we will be inviting some of the finalist to a Made In Nigeria Roundtable at the Senate.

“This roundtable will allow us – legislators, government agencies, business owners, and everyday Nigerian consumers to review and update the report of the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER), which was held in 2016 to improve the ease of doing business in the country,” he said.

Saraki added that the roundtable would also be used to get feedback on the amendment to the Public Procurement Act passed by the Senate in 2016.

The amended Act mandates government agencies to give preference to local manufacturers in the procurement of goods and services.

Saraki’s aide added that from feedback received from Nigerians, people want to see improved ease of doing business, access to funding, effective oversight on agencies to make sure they are actually giving preference to Made In Nigeria and most importantly to make sure clear guidelines that are accessible online are set by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Export Promotion Council, etc.

He wished all the participants good luck and called on Nigerians to use the hashtag #MadeInNigeria in their submitted videos for the competition.

I won’t protect my aide from DSS if found guilty – Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki has said he would not shield aide, Ugochinyere Ikenga from the Department of State Services (DSS).

 

The secret police had accused Ikenga of plotting with Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state, to destabilise the federal capital territory (FCT).

 

The secret police had raided his office on Thursday.

 

Saraki in his reaction said Ikenga should face the consequences if found guilty of the allegation levlled against him by the Department of State Services (DSS).

 

“The attention of the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki has been drawn to a statement issued by the Department of State Services (DSS) in which the department raised allegations against Mr Ugochinyere Ikenga, an aide to the senate president,” Yusuph Olaniyonu, media aide of the senate president, said in a statement.

 

“Though the DSS has not officially informed the senate president of the allegations against Ikenga, Dr. Saraki, having read the statement now circulating online will want to make it clear that he will never condone any action by any of his aides which threatens the peace of the country or is against the provisions of the law.

 

“Dr Saraki hereby calls on the DSS to properly investigate the allegations against Mr. Ikenga and if he is found to have acted against the law, then the law should take its natural course.”

DSS Accuses Rivers Gov. Wike of Sponsoring Violent Protests Using Saraki’s Aide

The Department of State Services (DSS) has accused Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State of engaging in a sinister plot to mobilize hoodlums to breach the peace and disrupt the machinery of governance via violent protests in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

In a statement released today and signed by Tony Opuiyo, the DSS alleged that Mr. Wike had recruited one Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, a personal aide to Senate President Bukola Saraki, to mobilize hoodlums to execute the violent protests which, according to the DSS, are meant to start today and continue for several more days.

The DSS stated, “The aim of the plot is to cause mayhem, a complete breakdown of law and order and cast the security agencies and the Federal Government in a bad light. It is also intended to divert public and international attention from the ongoing police investigation into the unwholesome role played by the Governor and some of his cronies in the violence that trailed the re-run election in Rivers State which resulted in the gruesome murder of civilians including the beheading of DSP Mohammed Alkali and some of his colleagues as well as the brutalization of INEC staff who failed to do the bidding of the Governor.”

The DSS said Governor Wike wanted to his hired protesters “to besiege the National Human Rights Commission, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Assembly, the Nigerian Army and Police Headquarters as well as British High Commission, US Embassy and the UN Secretariat, Abuja.” The statement added that the protests were designed to “raise a false alarm that Rivers State was under siege of security agencies during the elections.” It continued: “While the obvious aim is to draw public sympathy and international attention to spurious allegations of involvement of Federal agencies in violence during the last elections in Rivers State, the actual objective is really to trigger a round of violent action against the government and create the opportunity for idlers to join the deceitful protest. Part of the orchestration is to provoke the security agencies and prompt them to take action against the protesters that could result in bloodletting.”

The agency alleged that Senator Saraki’s aide had recruited some unemployed youths from the outskirts of Abuja to carry out the violent protests. “All this was to be done for a fee and resources to be provided from the treasury of the Rivers State Government,” said the DSS. It added: “It is also worrisome that Ikenga would engage in this nefarious plot when, after his last arrest earlier this year by the Service, he had pledged to be law abiding and not to cause a breach of the peace.”

The DSS stated that Mr. Ugochinyere was now on the run, but disclosed that the security agency had arrested three collaborators, Emeka Idibia, Ugo Apuamagha and Ejike Nwachukwu. “These men were picked up at the mobilization venue trying to perfect the logistics for this unholy enterprise. The young men were hired by Ikenga to take custody of items and materials for the planned violent protest. The recovered items include banners, placards, and posters with denigrating, inciting and hate inscriptions meant to impinge the authority of the Federal Government and further subvert the entire machinery of governance in the country,” said the DSS.

The DSS further stated that, in order to lend a veneer of credibility to their plot, Mr. Ugochinyere and his collaborators had enlisted such groups as Lawyers in Defense of Democracy (LDD) and Citizens for Good Governance (CGG) “as cover to supposedly make them look like serious-minded civil rights groups and thus bring them into collision course with security agencies.”

According to the security agency’s spokesman, investigations pointed to Mr. Ikenga Ugochinyere as the field organizer and coordinator of the planned protests while Governor Wike was “his sole financial sponsor.” The agency stated, “The DSS is disturbed that the Governor who is the Chief Security Officer of the State will stoop so low to hire thugs and hoodlums to attack the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and create an atmosphere of chaos and disorder at this yuletide season.”

The DSS declared that it and other security agencies would not be cowed or “allow any person or group of persons no matter how highly placed to subvert Nigeria’s statutory institutions meant to protect critical installations and law-abiding citizens.”

It vowed the determination of all security agencies to conduct their constitutionally mandated duties and to conclude investigations into the Rivers State electoral violence.

The DSS restated its commitment to protect lives and property in Nigeria’s capital and throughout the country. It implored youths being lured by “desperate politicians” to resist the temptation of being used “to undermine the government or engage in acts capable of causing a breakdown of law and order.” It promised that all who threaten the peace and stability of Nigeria would be prosecuted, and urged all Abuja residents to go about their normal businesses.

 

Source: Sahara Reporters

BREAKING: SGF, Magu: Buhari, Saraki in closed-door meeting.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Bukola Saraki are currently meeting at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The meeting is being held behind the closed-doors of the president’s office.Recall that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami met behind closed-doors with President Buhari on Monday.

Malami, who had been instructed to investigate the involvement of any top government officials accused of any wrongdoing, declined addressing journalists who sought to know what he discussed with Buhari.

A statement on Sunday by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the president, Garba Shehu said any of the top officials accused of corruption will not escape prosecution if found liable.

The statement said President Buhari remains relentless in his fight against corruption.

“The attention of the Presidency has been drawn to a number of reports in the media, in which various accusations of corruption have been levelled against some top officials in the administration.

“In that regard, President Buhari has instructed the Attorney General of the Federation to investigate the involvement of any top government officials accused of any wrong-doing. If any of them are liable they will not escape prosecution,” the statement said.

The Senate last week accused the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir David Lawal of corruption in the award of contracts at the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE).

A report by the Senate ad-hoc committee on mounting humanitarian crisis in the North east headed by Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) indicted the SGF in a N2.5billion fraud at PINE. Following Babachir’s indictment by the panel, the Senate resolved that he should resign and face prosecution for alleged fraud. The Senate also said it would provide evidence against Babachir to President Buhari.

The Senate also last week declined confirmation of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu. Senate based its decision on a security report from Department of State Security (DSS), which indicted Magu of financial misconducts.
The report said Magu failed integrity test and would constitute a liability to the anti-corruption fight of the Buhari administration if confirmed head of the EFCC.

“Saraki is one of the most influential politicians of our time”, says Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari has described Senate President Bukola Saraki as “one of the most influential politicians of our time”.

 

In a statement issued by Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, on Monday, Buhari felicitated with the senate president on the occasion of his 54th birthday.

 

“In a goodwill message to the celebrant, the president describes the senate president as ‘one of the most influential politicians of our time who has made tremendous impact on the country,’” the statement read.

 

“President Buhari notes that Senator Saraki has successfully kept the memory of his late father alive by identifying with the grassroots in his home state.”

 

While wishing the senate president more prosperous years , the president called for closer cooperation between the executive and the legislature to ensure the smooth implementation of government policies and programmes.

Breaking: Saraki swears in Rivers Senators as Senate adjourns till January

Senate President Bukola Saraki has administered oath of office on Magnus Abe, George Sekibo and Osinakachukwu Ideozu, newly elected senators from Rivers State.

The three lawmakers were elected in the Rivers legislative re-run elections that held on Saturday.

The exercise – still ongoing as results are yet to be known for nine constituencies – was characterized by widespread violence and irregularities.

Mr. Abe represents Rivers South East; Mr. Sekibo; Rivers East; and Mr. Ideozu, Rivers West.

The seats for the three senatorial districts from Rivers State had been vacant since December when the Court Appeal invalidated legislative elections held during the 2015 general elections in the oil rich state.

“They just came from a tough election,” Mr. Saraki said after congratulating the newly sworn in Senators.

Mr. Sekibo (PDP) is in the Senate for the third time, Mr. Abe (APC) the second time and Mr. Ideozu (PDP) is a first time senator.

Meanwhile, the Senate has adjourned sitting till January 10.

The resolution for adjournment was reached after the Senate reconvened Thursday afternoon to approve votes and proceedings of the day.

There Is Hardship In The Land, Saraki To Buhari

Senate President, Bukola Saraki yesterday told President Muhammadu Buhari that there is hardship in the country and that Nigerians are suffering.

Speaking during the presentation of the 2017 budget by President Buhari, Saraki said Nigerians are lamenting the hardship in the country.

“Mr. President, the feedback we get from visits to our various constituencies is that there is hardship in the land. We can see it and we can feel it. This situation therefore commands all of us as government to a greater sense of urgency. We cannot work magic, but we must continue to work the clock.

“Our people must see that the singular pre-occupation of government is the search for solution to the current economic hardship; and the commitment to ease their burden. They don’t want to know what political parties we belong, what language we speak or how we worship God. They have trusted their fates into our hands, and they need us now more than ever, to justify the trust that they have reposed on us,” he said.

Also speaking while delivering the votes of thanks after the budget presentation, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said Buhari should include abandoned and white elephant projects in the list of anomalies he must kill.

 

He said “join me in urging Mr President to add distorted budget cycle and abandoned capital projects /white elephant projects, to the list of things, in addition to corruption, that he must kill.”

 

Dogara also said that the annual budget process was frustrating because the set out goals are not usually achieved.

Credit: dailytrust

#2017Budget: Senate President Saraki’s remark.

Protocol:

1. It is my pleasure on behalf of my Distinguished and Honourable colleagues to warmly welcome you Mr. President and your entourage to this joint session of the National Assembly.

2. Mr. President, while we may have struggled with key aspects of our budget process in the past, I am happy to note that we have made some important progress.

To start with, we are seeing the budget presentation coming slightly earlier this year. Though, we hope tosee an even greater improvement on this in the coming year. But more importantly however, is that so far this year’s budget process has benefitted from greater cooperation and consultations between the National Assembly and the Executive.

3. Mr. President, I wish to note that the National Assembly recognizes however that the problem with our budget and budgeting process goes far deeperthan the relative progress we have made. This is why in August this year, I inaugurated a joint Executive/Legislative committee and a technical committee to review our budget systems and identify ways we can make them more transparent, more participatory, more result oriented and therefore more effective.

The committee has since submitted its report and the National Assembly is already started the process of implementing the recommendations.

4. Already, we have tried to bring the key highlights of the report into effect within the 2016 framework. These include:
• pre-budget consultation and engagement,
• greater information sharing and recording,
• Public hearing on the budget bill
• Drafting of an Organic Budget Bill
• Amendment of the Public Procurement Act

5. Our hope is that the remainder of the recommendations of this report will be implemented within the 2017 budget year with the passage of the Organic Budget Law.

The Organic Budget Law will provide the legal framework for regulating the procedures that budget preparation, approval, implementation and even accounting must follow. It will bring the budget and national planning regime within a clearly defined framework, thereby ensuring greater predictability, transparency and efficiency.

6. When the current National Assembly introduced the Civil Society Public Hearing on the Budget initiative, the idea was to open up the budgeting space by incorporating the Civil Society into the budget process, thereby ensuring greater transparency and accountability. We are proud to say that this engagement has come to stay as a crucial part of our budget approval process.

7. Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, honourable members, you would recall when the National Bureau of Statistics NBS came out with the numbers to confirm that the Nigerian economy has slumped into recession, the National Assembly rose with one voice.  Through a joint resolution, we recommended that you make a “state of the nation” address on the plan of government to get us out of recession and have 20 important Executive actions that in our view needed to be taken to get the economy back on track. The National Assembly on its part listed and prioritized 11 economic reform bills for passage. We intend to get these bills ready alongside the 2017 Appropriation bill. We believe that the core elements of these bills will aid the Executive in mobilizing the required private capital into the general economy, but especially the infrastructure market.

8. In the thinking of the 8th National Assembly, our country can no longer rely on the public sector alone to spend us out of recession. It is therefore critical that we mainstream private sector business and investment in the economy. To achieve this, we must make it much easier and efficient for people to invest and do business in our country.

9. Further to this, we are also aware that if we must attract private investments to play a central role in our economic recovery efforts, must make deliberate efforts to market Nigeria as an attractive brand through a very robust and highly coordinated process of engagements. This effort must necessarily start with injecting confidence in the market through clarity and consistency of policies. We must speak the right language and show that we are open to and ready for legitimate business.

10. I wish to reassure Mr. President that the National Assembly would continue to seek opportunities to deepen this relationship because we are convinced it is the only by working closely together that our country can make the progress that we all desire.

11. The overarching purpose of a budget is essentially to ease the economic pressure on our people in general and the poor most especially. The 2017 budget assumes even a greater significance, particularly in this time of recession. Mr. President, the feedback we get from visits to our various constituencies is that there is hardship in the land. We can see it and we can feel it. This situation therefore commands all of us as government to a greater sense of urgency. We cannot work magic, but we must continue to work the clock.

Our people must see that the singular pre-occupation of government is the search for solution to the current economic hardship; and the commitment to ease their burden. They don’t want to know what political parties we belong, what language we speak or how we worship God. They have trusted their fates into our hands, and they need us now more than ever, to justify the trust that they have reposed on us. The people of Nigeria will pardon us if we do some things wrong. But they will not forgive us if we do nothing. And that is why, Mr. President the two chambers have taken a position whatever may be our differences, or opinions on issues of the economy we will all work with one common purpose for this reason.

12. It is in times like this, when we are challenged from all sides that we need to develop new relationships and cultivate more friends. No one can clap with one hand and expect to be heard. This is the time when compromise, engagement is the tool necessary for successful collaboration and cooperation.

13. This is why I encouraged the Executive to continue with its engagement plans across all sections and stakeholders in the country particularly with our brothers in the Niger Delta and all parts of the country where instability is impacting on our collective economic and security aspirations.

14. Mr. President, you will recall in 2015, , I made a clarion call while receiving Your Excellency’s budget presentation for that year that the 2016 budget needed to be bold and pragmatic to drive local production and promote made-in Nigeria goods.

15. Today, permit me Your Excellency to reiterate this call. The only way we can cut down on our foreign exchange needs, create jobs and stimulate entrepreneurship in the country is to promote local manufacturing and investments.

16. This is why the National Assembly injected the made-in-Nigeria amendment into the Public Procurement Act. We are expectant that with your leadership, Mr. President, we will achieve even much more in this area. It is the hope of the National Assembly that the 2017 budget will continue to proactively pursue this policy objective.

17. Mr. President, though we are confident that we are receiving from you a very well-articulated budget proposal, it is worthy to point out that the best produced budget from the executive at all times still remains a proposal according to our constitution which the National Assembly will work assiduously on.

On behalf of the National Assembly, we commit to work on the 2017 budget, conscious of the responsibility that the current economic situation imposes on us and driven by the urgency to alleviate the suffering of our people and also bearing in mind your aspiration and vision for our people. We assure you Mr. President and all Nigerians that not even a single minute would be wasted on our side in the course of getting this budget approved.

18. With these few words, I hereby invite Your Excellency to deliver your speech and lay the 2016 budget proposals for the consideration of the National Assembly in accordance with Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

19. I thank you and extend the season’s greetings to all.

Buhari writes Senate over confirmation of Anyene as Auditor-General

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate seeking the  confirmation of Anthony Anyene as Auditor General of the Federation.

 

Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday read the letter during plenary.

 

Buhari in the letter said the Federal Civil Service Commission recommended Anyene for the position.

 

Details later…

SERAP Sues Saraki, Dogara ‘Over Failure To Give Account Of N500bn Running Cost’

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the Senate President Dr Bukola Sakari and Speaker of the House of Representatives Mr Dogara Yakubu “over failure to give account of the spending of N500 billion as running cost between 2006 and 2016, and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member.”

The suits filed last Friday at the Federal High Court Ikoyi followed two Freedom of Information requests dated 25 November 2016 to both Dr Saraki and Mr Dogara asking them to “urgently provide information about alleged spending of N500 billion as running cost between 2006 and 2016, and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member.”

The originating summons with suit numbers FHC/L/CS/1711/16 and FHC/L/CS/1710/16 respectively were brought pursuant to section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni.

SERAP’s suits against Dr Saraki and Mr Dogara followed disclosure by Abdulmumin Jibrin that Nigerian Senators and House of Representatives members have pocketed N500 billion as ‘running cost’ out of the N1 trillion provided for in the National Assembly budgets between 2006 and 2016, and by former president Olusegun Obasanjo that each Senator goes home with nothing less than N15m monthly while each member receives nothing less than N10m monthly.

SERAP is asking the court to determine the question “Whether by virtue of the provision of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the Defendants are under an obligation to provide the Plaintiff with the information requested for.”

The suits read in part: “By virtue of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution. Under the FOI, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or agency to whom the application is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.”

“The information requested for by SERAP relates to information about spending of N500 billion as running cost between 2006 and 2016, and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member. The information requested by SERAP does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act. The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of National interest, public concern, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.”

“The Defendants will not suffer any injury or prejudice if the information is released to the members of the public. It is in the interest of justice that the information be released. Unless the reliefs sought herein are granted, the Defendants will continue to be in breach of the Freedom of Information Act, and other statutory responsibilities.”

“Up till the time of filing this action the Defendants/Respondents have failed, neglected and/or refused to make available the information requested by SERAP. The particulars of facts of the failure, negligence and refusal are contained in the verifying affidavit in support of the application and shall be relied upon at the hearing of this application. The Defendants/Respondents have no reason whatsoever to deny SERAP access to the information sought for.”

“It is submitted that Section 4(a) of the FOI Act 2011 is a mandatory and absolute provision which imposes a binding legal duty or obligation on a public official, agency or institution to comply with a request for access to public information or records except where the FOI Act expressly permits an exemption or derogation from the duty to disclose. Nigerian courts have consistently held that the use of mandatory words such as “must” and “shall” in a statute is naturally prima facie imperative and admits of no discretion.”

“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a democratic society, this is meant to be a norm; it is an apostasy for government to ignore the provisions of the law and the necessary rules made to regulate matters”.

The suits are respectively seeking the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondents to disclose the spending of N500 billion as running cost between 2006 and 2016, and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member amounts to a breach of the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability and violates Articles 9, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

A DECLARATION that by virtue of the provisions of Section 1 (1) and Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the Defendants/Respondents are under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on the spending allowances of each Senator and member including: Details of projects on which the N500 billion running cost between 2006 and 2016 were spent.

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS directing and or compelling the Defendants/Respondents to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on the spending of N500 billion as running cost between 2006 and 2016, and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member including: Details of projects on which the N500 billion running cost between 2006 and 2016 were spent.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suits.

Signed
Adetokunbo Mumuni
SERAP Executive Director
12/12/2016
www.serap-nigeria.org
Lagos, Nigeria

APC Crisis: What We Discussed Yesterday – Oyegun, Saraki

The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and the Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, met on Wednesday on ways to tackle frictions within the party, especially the seeming unfriendly relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government.

 

The meeting between the APC National Working Committee (NWC) members and Saraki, who was accompanied by Senate Whip Olusola Adeyeye, Senate Leader Ali Ndume and Deputy Senate Leader Bala Ibn-Na’allah, was held at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.

Speaking after the meeting, Saraki said they told themselves the hard truth during the talks and agreed to “move forward and work with the party in the interest of building the party and because of Nigerians who believe in the APC” despite the point that “certain things were not done”.

Chief Odigie-Oyegun, who also spoke after the meeting, said both parties agreed to mend fences and “address some of the glitches that still exist”.

“We want to assure the general public that they will see results that will lift their spirit in the next few weeks and months to follow.

“We have started the process. But there are issues to be resolved and there is no question at all that we are a family and when things have gone wrong, we accept that things have gone wrong and we are determined to right those wrongs,” he also said.

Saraki, Odigie-Oyegun meet over APC crisis

Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday led some principal officers of the Senate to a crucial meeting with the national leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja.

This is the first time Saraki is holding such consultation with the party’s national leadership since his emergence last year, against the party’s preferred choice of Ahmed Lawan for the post.

He was accompanied to the meeting by the Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, his deputy, Bala Ibn Na’Allah and the Whip, Prof. Sola Adeyeye.

After the meeting, which lasted for over two and a half hours, both Saraki and Odigie-Oyegun, however, admitted to journalists that the end might not be in sight of the internal crisis within the party. But they agreed that the process of getting the issues resolved had begun with the meeting yesterday.

Saraki said: “We told ourselves the hard truth, but at the end of the day we accepted that certain things were not done but we agreed to move forward, work closely with the party for the interest of building APC because of Nigerians that believe in us. We need to work closely together and we are hopeful that the new chapter is being opened today.”

Odigie-Oyegun admitted that the party had not come near resolving its internal crisis yet, but said the process had just begun.

His words: “There is an end in sight. We have started the process, but there are issues to be resolved. We accept that things have gone wrong and we are determined to right those wrongs.

“It has been a very rewarding meeting. As far as the party is concerned, we commend the Senate and the National Assembly for the way they worked so far with the executive. We are determined to address some of the issues that still exist, the relationship between the National Assembly and the executive.

“We want to assure the public that they will see results that will lift their spirit in the next few weeks and months.”

Odigie-Oyegun acknowledged that the meeting was coming late, but stressed that it was better late than never.

He pledged that such consultations would hold regularly.

Senate to pass Petroleum Industry Bill in tranches – Saraki

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, says Senate will pass the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, in tranches as a way out of its non-passage for the past eight years.

Mr. Saraki made this known at a three-day Public Hearing on the PIGB organised by the Senate joint Committee on the bill on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the passage of the bill in tranches was necessitated by the need to unbundle its contents into manageable compartments that could be implemented in phases.

Mr. Saraki noted that the Senate was set to pass the first tranche of the bill, while putting measures in place for the passage of other tranches.

He added that the passage of the first tranche would further tackle persistent problems associated with fiscal framework and host communities.

“This public hearing is another avenue for us to hear from the operators, regulators, experts and other stakeholders in the industry on how to move the industry forward.

“We want to move away from the way things were done in the past during the consideration of such bills, especially fiscal framework and host communities.

“We will push for greater partnership so that the bill will be a win-win for everyone; one that works for government, attractive to oil companies and takes into consideration concerns of the host communities.

“We will also tackle the issues of downstream, gas and environment. We are poised and resolved to deal with all issues related to the industry, albeit in tranches.

“As a nation we cannot afford any further delay in our effort to reform our oil and gas industry.

“The journey begins now and I assure you that we will guarantee that all of these bills are passed in record time,” he said.

Mr. Saraki expressed concern that though the petroleum industry contributed over 90 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings, existing legal, regulatory and institutional structures in the industry were out-dated.

He noted that the sector had performed below expectations, adding that the development had led to the Federal Government and investors losing significant edge in the oil and gas investment trends.

According to him, it is unacceptable that till date, Nigeria still imports over 90 per cent of needed petroleum products, flares substantial gas produced, damages the eco-system and pollutes host communities.

The senate president added that in spite of Nigeria’s might in the sector, it could not supply adequate electricity to individual homes and industries.

“This situation has undermined our citizen’s standard of living, life expectancy, national energy security.

“It has therefore resulted in other unforeseen fallouts like labour unrest, fuel queues, high cost of delivery of products and unquantifiable wastage of national productivity.

“The oil and gas industry is yearning for good governance, competitiveness, transparency, indigenous participation and accountability,” Mr. Saraki said.

He assured that the bill would be passed in record time.

The Chairman of the joint committee, Omotayo Alasoadura, said if Nigeria must get out of the present recession, the petroleum industry must be made efficient and more profit-oriented.

He said it was therefore expedient to pass the bill to reposition the industry.

Mr. Alasoadura said: “It is in this spirit that we are beginning today the journey of consultation with stakeholders in the match towards passing the bill.”

The public hearing ends on Friday.

CSNAC Frowns At Continuous Adjournments Of Saraki’s Trial At CCT

The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), which is a coalition of over 150 anti-corruption organizations, has urged the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), to speed up its adjudication process in the ongoing trial of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki.

In a petition sent to the Tribunal’s chairman and signed by the coalition’s chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, CSNAC said frivolous adjournment in criminal trial is a violation of the provisions of the law, urging the Tribunal to ensure that the  matter is speedily completed.

Taking its cue from the November 8, 2016, report of The Cable, an online Newspaper, where it was reported that at the resumption of trial of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the tribunal Chairman Mr. Danladi Umar adjourned the trial to January 11, 2017 after sitting for about thirty minutes.

CSNAC said, “You  were reported to have announced the adjournment after allowing Paul Usoro SAN counsel to Mr. Saraki cross – examine Mr. Michael Wetkas, a detective of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).  The report said you further stated that you had more important things to attend to.

“In a bid to hasten the dispensation of justice through speedily bringing criminals to book thereby checkmating the rise of crime in the society, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was enacted in May 2015 to provide the much needed change to the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria. In view of this, the Act provides for the day to day trial of criminal matters. In section 396, it provides as follows:

“(3) Upon arraignment, the trial of the Defendant shall proceed from day to day until the conclusion of the trial.

“Though the Act provides for short adjournment intervals where necessary, it also stipulates that the court may award reasonable costs in order to discourage frivolous adjournments. Furthermore, in order to achieve its aim of speedy dispensation of justice, the Act also completely bans any application for stay of proceedings in respect of criminal matters.”

The coalition stated further that, “From the foregoing, it is evident that a new dawn has begun in the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria.

“The trial of the Senate President before the Code of Conduct Tribunal is a criminal matter which is subject to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015. In view of this, the unwarranted adjournment of the matter by the tribunal chairman without recourse to the provisions of the Act ought to be challenged, in view of the fact that the Act also provides that where day-to-day trial is impracticable, the interval between adjournments shall not exceed 14 working days.

“It is obvious that the duration from the last date of hearing till January is a violation of this Act and will only serve to defeat the purpose of speedy adjudication of criminal matters which the Act seeks to achieve, and which is the norm in well-developed societies across the world.”

Making its submission, CSNAC said it is therefore by the petition requesting that, “Your office take note of this unlawful Act, take measures to correct this violation and uphold provisions of the law.

“The tribunal and all Courts must desist from frivolously adjournment in criminal trial and ensure that such matters are speedily completed. By so doing, you will be discharging the duties of your office effectively, as well as ensuring that corruption is stamped out of Nigeria one step at a time.”

Read the petition below:

30th November, 2016
The Chairman
Code of Conduct Tribunal,
Federal Secretariat Complex,
Shehu Shagari Way,
Maitama, Abuja.

Dear Sir,
REQUEST FOR THE CODE OF CONDUCT TRIBUNAL TO STOP FRIVOLOUS ADJOURNMENTS IN THE TRIAL OF SENATOR BUKOLA SARAKI

Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) is a coalition of over hundred and fifty Anti-corruption organizations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption vigorously and to ensure the effective monitoring of the various Anti-graft agencies in the fight against corruption and contribute towards the enthronement of transparency, accountability, probity and total commitment in the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria.

On 8th November, 2016, The Cable , an online newspaper reported that at the resumption of trial of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the tribunal Chairman Mr. Danladi Umar adjourned the trial to January 11, 2017 after sitting for about thirty minute. You  were reported to have announced the adjournment after allowing Paul Usoro SAN counsel to Mr. Saraki cross – examine Mr. Michael Wetkas, a detective of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The report said you further stated that you had more important things to attend to.

In a bid to hasten the dispensation of justice through speedily bringing criminals to book thereby checkmating the rise of crime in the society, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was enacted in May 2015 to provide the much needed change to the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria. In view of this, the Act provides for the day to day trial of criminal matters. In section 396, it provides as follows:

“(3) Upon arraignment, the trial of the Defendant shall proceed from day to day until the conclusion of the trial”

Though, the Act provides for short adjournment intervals where necessary, it also stipulates that the court may award reasonable costs in order to discourage frivolous adjournments. Furthermore, in order to achieve its aim of speedy dispensation of justice, the Act also completely bans any application for stay of proceedings in respect of criminal matters.

From the foregoing, it is evident that a new dawn has begun in the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria. The trial of the Senate President before the Code of Conduct Tribunal is a criminal matter which is subject to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015. In view of this, the unwarranted adjournment of the matter by the tribunal chairman without recourse to the provisions of the Act ought to be challenged, in view of the fact that the Act also provides that where day-to-day trial is impracticable, the interval between adjournments shall not exceed 14 working days. It is obvious that the duration from the last date of hearing till January is a violation of this Act and will only serve to defeat the purpose of speedy adjudication of criminal matters which the Act seeks to achieve, and which is the norm in well-developed societies across the world.

CSNAC is therefore by this petition requesting that your office take note of this unlawful Act, take measures to correct this violation and uphold provisions of the law. The tribunal and all Courts must desist from frivolously adjournment in criminal trial and ensure that such matters are speedily completed. By so doing, you will be discharging the duties of your office effectively, as well as ensuring that corruption is stamped out of Nigeria one step at a time.

We thank you in anticipation of your appropriate and necessary action in this regards..

Yours faithfully,

Olanrewaju Suraju
Chairman.

Saraki meets Buhari, pledges early passage of 2017 budget

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday assured Nigerians of an early passage of the 2017 budget proposal.

 

Mr. Saraki gave the assurance while addressing State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the 2017 budget estimate for onward submission to the National Assembly.

 

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, who confirmed the development to State House correspondents, said the date for the presentation of the document would be given by the National Assembly.

 

The senate president however expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to receive the document.

 

He also expressed optimism that within the next couple of days, President Buhari would transmit a letter to the National Assembly to lay the 2017 budget before it.

 

“We are ready. Once the document comes to us, we are ready,” Mr. Saraki said.

 

“I think this time around a lot of things, a lot of work has taken place behind the scenes – a lot of more collaborations and I think that you will see the result in the time frame it will take after the president will have presented it.’’

 

Mr. Saraki said normalcy had been restored to the Senate Chamber after Wednesday’s incident where some Senators from the opposition party, PDP, staged a walk-out in protest against one of their senators, who defected to APC.

 

“It is democracy at work. The opposition party has its views about the defection of a senator to the APC.

 

“Normalcy has been restored to the house and we are one family again.’’

SR: Saraki Unilaterally Revoked Senate Confirmation Of Buhari’s Aide Obono-Obla

On August 3, Mr. Obono-Obla’s and others were nominated for appointment to the NCC Board. The nominees’ names were subsequently forwarded to the Senate for screening and confirmation by the Senate Committee on Communications. He scaled the hurdle of screening Senate for confirmation on 19 October.

 

On  November 17, when Senator Gilbert Emeka Nnaji, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Communications, presented the report of the committee before the Senate Plenary Session, it showed those cleared as Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye (Chairman), Mr. Sunday Dare (Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management), Mr. Clement Omeiza Baiye (Non-Executive Commissioner); Senator Ifeanyi Ararume (Non-Executive Commissioner) and Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla (Non-Executive Commissioner).

 

The committee rejected the nominations of Mr. Aliyu Saidu Abubakar because he was accused of advocating the abrogation of the Nigerian Senate and Pastor Ezekiel Yissa provided vague reasons.

 

The confirmation and rejection exercise were captured in the Votes and Proceedings of the Senate (Pages 880-891) of Thursday,  November 17th, 2016, and widely reported in the media the next day.

 

Bizarrely, though, the Senate President unilaterally overturned Obono-Obla’s confirmation. In a letter dated November 22 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Saraki falsely included Mr. Obono-Obla’s name among those rejected. These were Messrs. Aliyu Saidu Abubakar and Pastor Ezekiel Yissa. The letter was titled “Confirmation of Appointments”.

 

SaharaReporters gathered that after the confirmation of Obono-Obla, Senator Saraki was heavily pressured by Senators John Owan Eno (Cross River Central) and Gershom Bassey (Cross River South), both of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to remove Obono-Obla’s name from the confirmation list.

 

Sources said Saraki assured the duo that he would do as they wished and transmitted such to the President.

 

The two senators told a lie which suited Senator Saraki’s vendetta instincts that Obono-Obla, who hails from Cross River State, is one of those at the President’s office behind the Senate President’s legal travails. Sources in the Senate, however, argue that the Senate President has no power to unilaterally revoke the confirmation of a presidential nominee by the Senate.

 

A senator told SaharaReporters on the condition of anonymity that once a presidential nominee has been confirmed by the Senate, such nominee can only be removed by the President on the ground of misconduct, but with the concurrence of other Senators.

Saraki Decorates David Mark as Leader of the Decade

Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Wednesday, decorated the former Senate President, David Mark with the leader of the Decade award.

This was announced on Wednesday, November 23 during a National Assembly Press Corps Award in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital.

Mark is a retired Nigerian Army Brigadier General and politician who was President of the Senate of Nigeria from 2007 to 2015 and is the Senator for the Benue State constituency. He is a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)

Why I won’t tag Nigeria a corrupt country – Saraki

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said that he will not tag Nigeria a corrupt country because he prefers to market it.

 

Saraki, in an interview with the BBC Hausa service, though admitted that there were cases of corruption in the country, but said he would not label Nigeria as such.

 

Saraki said: “My take is that I must market my country, so I am not going to be able to label the country as such,” he said.

 

“Yes, there are issues that we must address, but I am not going to dwell so much on that because I need to market my country so that I can get private sector in flow.

“I must create an enabling environment that will encourage growth, because without that, it will be difficult for us to be able to see the kind of growth that we are talking about. Government alone cannot do it.”

 

On whether he had witnessed cases of corruption in the country, the Senate President said: “Of course there are, that is why we have oversight functions. Like many other countries, we have those kinds of challenges, but we have moved a long way?.”

 

Saraki, who is facing charges of false declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), also said he acquired 95 percent of his wealth before he became a public servant.

JUST IN: Saraki saves Buhari’s proposal from Senate rejection

The Medium Term and Expenditure Framework (2017-2019) proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari narrowly beat rejection, after Senate President Bukola Saraki persuaded his colleagues to pass the document for committee review, following an extensive debate on Wednesday.

There was stiff bi-partisan opposition to the MTEF and the Fiscal Sustainability Paper, FSP, as most of the Senators from both the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party expressed preference for rejection of the fiscal proposal.

They said the proposals were unrealistic. Adeola Solomon (APC-Lagos) said Mr. Buhari’s economic team was in disarray, thereby joining others to ask that the documents be returned to the Executive.

But Mr. Saraki, rounding off the debate which saw the Senate vote to extend its sitting beyond 2 p.m., said the documents only contained assumptions and the Senate had a responsibility to “turn them around” through its committees.

“We won’t take documents from the executive and send it back that way.

“Committees should take the comments of everybody and use it to decide,” said Mr. Saraki, softening ground for the vote that was to follow.

The Senate eventually referred the MTEF/FSP to the committees on finance and appropriations, the stiff opposition to the proposals nonetheless.

From a negative growth rate for three quarters consecutively this year, the government targets an increased 3.02 GDP growth rate in 2017.

“I don’t know how this will happen; it can’t work because nothing is happening,” Stella Oduah (PDP-Anambra) commented.

Mr. Solomon fired negative remarks, stating, “This document we have before us is no document. We should return it to them”

“The Economic Team of the President is in disarray. I say this without being sentimental; I say as a true Nigerian,” added Mr. Solomon, close ally of former Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu, believed to be eyeing governorship seat of his Ogun home state cone 2019.

Samuel Anyanwu (PDP) expressed satisfaction that both PDP and APC Senators agreed the proposals were unrealistic; so, the documents should be returned.

Abiodun Olujimi, Mohammed Hassan, Foster Ogola and John Enoh – all PDP Senators – also wanted the proposals rejected.

APC’s Dino Melaye dismissed the documents as “not factual”.

However, Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, supported the transmission of the documents to committees for consideration.

Ahmed Lawan, Gbenga Ashafa, Bukar Ibrahim and Jibrin Barau of APC also asked the Senate to refer the documents to relevant committees.

But before the report of the joint finance and appropriations committees on the documents, the Senate will debate performance of the current 2016 budget, Mr. Saraki said.

Meanwhile, the report of the Danjuma Goje-led appropriations committee on Mr. Buhari’s request for virement of N180 billion from the Special Intervention Funds to critical infrastructural projects was laid before the Senate today.

Senate forgery: Police submit fresh report, indict Saraki, Ekweremadu

There are strong indications that the police have submitted to the National Prosecution Coordination Committee, another report on the investigations into the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015.

It was gathered that in the fresh report, the police indicted the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu.

It was gathered that the Special Investigation Panel, headed by the retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Ali Amodu, explained that a former Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, could not have committed the alleged offence without the connivance of the two principal officers.

The SIP was set up by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to investigate high-profile cases.

The Federal Government had, on October 6, 2016, withdrawn the charges of criminal conspiracy relating to the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015, filed against the Senate President and his deputy at an Abuja High Court.

The government, it was reported, had found out that the investigation was inconclusive and the evidence was not strong enough to sustain a diligent prosecution of the accused persons.

Following this discovery, the Ministry of Justice filed an application to amend the charges.

In the new charges, only Maikasuwa and a former deputy clerk, Mr. Ben Efeturi, were listed as the accused persons.

Saraki and Ekweremadu were earlier charged alongside Maikasuwa and Efeturi for allegedly forging the Senate Standing Orders, which were used for the inauguration of the Eight Senate.

All of them pleaded not guilty to the charges before Justice Yusuf Halilu and were granted bail on June 10, 2016.

Following the amendment of the charges, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), directed the police to conduct fresh investigations into the case.

Saraki, Ekweremadu may face conspiracy charge again.

A top police operative, on Saturday, said the SIP had addressed the loopholes the AGF identified in the former report.

He said, “The police have concluded investigations into the case and submitted the report to the NPCC. This was done about a month ago.”

Giving an insight into the report, a top source at the Force Headquarters said, “Conspiracy is a very wide offence and Maikasuwa couldn’t have done what he did without the connivance of Saraki and Ekweremadu.

“There is no doubt about it; they were the beneficiaries and they have to be joined in the case.”

When asked if the panel made any recommendation for the prosecution of the beneficiaries of the forgery, he stated, “There is no need to make any recommendation to prosecute them because the investigation did not exonerate them.”

On the non-interrogation of Saraki and others by the former investigators, the source stated, “It is not totally out of point. It is for Saraki, Ekweremadu and others to defend themselves in court. The fact that they were not questioned did not mean they didn’t commit the offence as alleged. The circumstances were that the investigators could not reach them just like the way the House of Representatives leadership was dodging police summons on the budget padding probe.”

He added that the evidence and corrections made on the report had been sent to the AGF by the police.

He stated, “There were certain documents and evidence they asked us to fine-tune, which we did. We got all the necessary documents, including the Hansard, where publications were made and notices were given. We looked at the Hansard. Was there any amendment during the 7th Senate? There were no amendments; nothing was adopted during the 7th Senate. We got the papers and there was nothing like that.

“So, where did Ekweremadu and Maikasuwa derive their authority from when no amendment was done on the floor of the Senate?”

Another highly-placed source, who was familiar with the police probe, on Saturday said that the SIP was able to gather the necessary evidence about how the alleged forgery at the Senate was carried out.

The source said it was now up to the AGF and the NPCC to decide whether to re-arraign Saraki, Ekweremadu and others or not.

It was gathered that the detectives were able to verify the extent of amendment to the Senate Standing Orders 2011, the individuals who authorised it, and the official who ordered the printing of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015.

The source added, “The SIP, through painstaking efforts, was able to identify who distributed the printed copies of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015, to senators-elect and it also obtained the complete Hansard of June 9 and 24, 2015, which indicated what transpired on the floor of the Senate as well as other relevant evidence. These were issues the former probe did not resolve.

“It is now up to the government to decide whether Saraki and Ekweremadu should be re-arraigned or only Maikasuwa and Efeturi would carry the can.”

I was gathered that the SIP had to bypass the Clerk, National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, to get the necessary evidence and documents relating to the case.

When contacted on Saturday, the spokesperson for the AGF and the NPCC, Mr. Salisu Isah, said he was not aware of any fresh development in the case.

“Just give me some time to find out and revert to you,” he said.

Besides the AGF, who is the Chairman of the NPCC, the committee consists of 19 members, including the Solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Taiwo Abidogun and Mr. Dipo Opeseyi.

When contacted on Saturday, Saraki decline to comment on the matter, while Ekweremadu said he was not aware of the new development in the forgery case.

The Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, said, “I have no comment on the matter,” when he was called on the telephone.

Ekweremadu, who spoke through the Special Adviser to the Deputy President of the Senate on Media, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, said, “We are not aware of that” when he was told that the police had submitted a fresh report to the AGF-led committee.

Another aide to Ekweremadu, who spoke on condition of anonymity, wondered why the police would file another report from a fresh investigation when the security agency had sworn to an affidavit that it had concluded its investigations into the case and presented it before a court.

Why I have been meeting with Buhari, Osinbajo – Saraki

The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has advised politicians and the media to stop peddling empty speculations about his recent visits to the Presidential Villa and linking such visits to the request by the Buhari administration for approval of the National Assembly to get $29.9 billion loan from foreign sources.

 

Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that in all his recent meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the issue of the proposed loan has never come up for discussion.

 

He noted that the comments by some politicians on the loan issue without any factual basis was “unfortunate”.

 

“Like I once told the media, these politically-motivated commentaries are trivialising a serious national issue and presenting it as if it is a personal matter that can be decided at meetings between Saraki and President Muhammadu Buhari,” he stated.

 

Saraki added: “The National Assembly which I head as Senate President has taken a position on the issue as required of it by the laws of the land and legislative conventions.

 

“At every point, the present National Assembly will make decisions based on national interest and we have vowed that we will always act in the interest of our people. That is why despite the fact that members belong to different parties, when national issues come to the floor we forget about party affiliations and act as Nigerians elected to protect the interest of Nigeria.

 

“A visit to the Presidency by the Senate President is a normal thing because we need to consult, discuss, exchange ideas and make suggestions to each other from time to time. More importantly, at this time, when the nation is facing economic crisis, there is need for frequent engagements by the Presidency and the National Assembly.

 

“It is in fact very unfortunate that these empty speculations by the media are now forming the basis for commentaries by some politicians who are in a position to be better informed. Politicians should stop playing to the gallery or drawing political capital from all issues. When serious national issues are on ground, we should refrain from making statements based on mere sentiments. Similarly, the media should exercise restraint in their reportage and commentaries in order to properly serve our people.

 

“At a time when we are about to prepare a budget which is aimed at responding to the current recession and our plan is to ensure all issues concerning the budget are ironed out before the budget comes to the floor so that we will have a less tedious process than that of last year, the media should be ready to witness more of these engagements between the Presidency and the National Assembly.”

I Stand By Senate’s Rejection of Buhari’s $30bn Loan – Saraki

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has stated that his recent meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari have nothing to do with the President’s $29.96bn external borrowing plan rejected by the Senate.

He also stated that the rejection was not personal but in the interest of the country.

In a statement on Thursday by the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki advised politicians and the media to stop “peddling empty speculations about his recent visits to the Presidential Villa and linking such visits to the request by the Buhari administration for approval of the National Assembly to get $29.9bn loan from foreign sources.”

The Senate President described the comments by some politicians on the loan issue “without any factual basis” as “unfortunate.”

Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, had warned the Senate President not to join the Federal Government in ruining the country by supporting Buhari’s request for the foreign loan.

The governor, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, specifically warned Saraki against doing so due to personal interests.

Fayose stated that, “No matter how much he (Saraki) tries to warm himself into the hearts of the Aso Rock cabal, they can never love him and accept him into their fold.”

Saraki, however, said, “Like I once told the media, these politically-motivated commentaries are trivialising a serious national issue and presenting it as if it is a personal matter that can be decided at meetings between Saraki and President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The National Assembly, which I head as Senate President, has taken a position on the issue as required of it by the laws of the land and legislative conventions.”

Strike: Senate Asks Saraki To Mediate Between FG & ASUU

The Nigerian Senate has mandated its President, Bukola Saraki, to personally lead the intervention towards resolving the brewing industrial crisis between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

The Senate resolved to muster efforts at stopping a protracted ASUU strike on Tuesday, barely 24 hours after the Union announced one-week warning strike, starting tomorrow.

The Senate resolution followed a motion on “matter of urgent national importance” with regards to the planned ASUU industrial action by Jibrin Barau (APC-Kano).

The warning strike, ASUU said, is over the failure of the Federal Government to implement terms of the 2009 and 2013 agreements.

“Many aspects of the 2013 MoU and the 2009 agreement with the Federal Government have either been unimplemented or despairingly handled,” ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said at the University of Abuja on Monday.

“The agreements are: Payments of staff entitlements since December 2015, funding of universities for revitalisation, pension, TSA and university autonomy and renegotiation of 2009 Agreement.”

Backing ASUU in his motion, Mr. Barau argued that ASUU was agitating for smooth running of Nigerian public universities and staff welfare which basically formed the terms of the agreements perfunctorily implemented – or not implemented at all – by the Federal Government.

In his contribution, Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe), lamented plights of students of public universities whenever lecturers embark on strike, thereby calling for avoidance of ASUU strike.

Read More:

http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/215413-asuu-strike-senate-asks-saraki-mediate.html

Senate rejects list of Non-Career Ambassadorial nominees.

The dream of 47 Nigerians to represent this country as Non-career Envoys may have hit the bricks as the Senate on Tuesday resolved that the list of nominees should be sent back to the Presidency.

 

In a motion ably moved by the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume and seconded by the Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, the Senate cited controversies and plethora of petitions emanating from the list as reason behind its rejection.

 

Earlier, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu had submitted that her committee could not commence screening of the Non-career Ambassadorial Nominees due to litany of petitions that saturated the committee secretariat.

 

“We find it very difficult to commence screening for the Non-career Ambassadorial Nominees. We received over 250 petitions against some of the nominees,” she said.

 

In his ruling, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki said the list should be reverted to the Presidency, to readjust it before submitting to the Senate.

 

It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari sent a list containing 47 names of Non-career Ambassadorial Nominees to be screened by the Senate.

 

The list, however, suffered rejection in some quarters. While Senator Philip Aduda queried the non inclusion of FCT indigenes in the list, some Analysts also probed why Lagos State could get 3 nominees and states from the North also got 2 nominees, whereas, Imo State had no representative in the list.

What We Discussed With Osinbajo, State Governors – Saraki

Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday met with leaders of the National Assembly and some Governors.

At the closed-door meeting held at the Presidential Villa were Dr. Bukola Saraki, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, the Chairman of the Governors Forum, Abdullaziz Yari, the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha and the governors of Ogun, and Osun States.

The Senate President, after the meeting told reporters that the meeting was held to discuss issues that would move the nation forward.

“All for good governance, inclusion and great collaboration with all arms.

“The states are here, the National Assembly executive is here to just come up with ideas about how to make things work even better,” Dr. Saraki tsaid.

Recall that the Senate had returned the loan approval request to the executive arm of government, demanding for more details to be provided.

Saraki urges state assemblies to adopt amended procurement law.

The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has advised state Houses of Assembly in the 36 states to adopt the recently amended Public Procurement Act and enact it in order to help local manufacturers in their respective states.

Saraki who was addressing the first set of beneficiaries of the Skill acquisition Training and Empowerment Programme (STEP) initiated by him to empower youths in his home state, Kwara, said the adoption of the new Procurement Act in the states will ensure that state government agencies will join their federal counterparts in putting money in the pockets of citizens while helping to encourage the development of private initiatives among fellow country men and women.

Saraki called on the Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Alli Ahmed, to take the message to his colleagues in other states on the need for legislators to focus on laws that can be enacted to help people out of the current economic recession.

“This is a challenging time for all of us and it requires ingenuity, creativity and thinking out of the box to come up with ideas that will put people to work, put money in their pockets, increase our gross domestic products, make our nation self reliant and increase revenue generation ability of governments.

“Those of us in government have the burden to do all all that are within our control to create opportunities for our people to excel, create conducive atmosphere for people to produce quality goods and services and ensure that they are patronised and encouraged. This is what the amended Public Procurement Act seeks to achieve and I want to see it replicated across the country,” he said.

The Senate President noted that he was always bothered about the consequence of young people who are capable but have no job and that the idea of STEP developed from the need to help as many youths as possible to contribute their quota to national economic development.

He said the beneficiaries of STEP will be groomed and trained to become employers of labour in the shortest possible period and this will have multiplier effect in the State.

He also said the programme will be run in such a manner that its success will encourage other political leaders to emulate the philosophy behind it and come out with better plans and strategies that will achieve similar objectives.

“I am looking forward to a situation where each of our senatorial districts in the country will have one or two items that it is producing on a massive scale and exporting across the world in such scale that you could say, this item is the wealth creating product in the area.

“We will continue to work with some development experts to generate ideas that can help the people. As I have said, the major issue that the eighth Senate will focus on in the remaining period of its tenure is how to put the national economy on a strong footing”, he said.

VP Osinbajo, Saraki, Dogara, Governors Meet Over $30 Billion Loan

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Monday said the meeting the leaders of the National Assembly had with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and some state governors was meant to ensure good governance and collaboration.

Saraki spoke with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting held inside the Vice-President’s office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting was also attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; as well as governors of Ogun, Adamawa, Zamfara, Osun, Imo and Niger states.

The meeting was believed to be one of the efforts aimed at resolving the issues arising from the Senate’s recent rejection of President Muhammadu Buhari’s $30bn foreign loan request and the 2016-2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework as well as other party matters.

Osinbajo heads the present administration’s Economic Management Team.

“I am sure the Vice-President will issue a statement. But nothing of great alarm, it (the meeting) was all for good governance, inclusion and collaboration with all arms. The states are here, the National Assembly executives just came up with ideas on how to make things work even better, that’s all,” Saraki told reporters.

Saraki had met with Buhari thrice within one week on the same matter.

The meetings came after the Senate rejected Buhari’s request for approval to take $30bn foreign loan.

The Senate had also dismissed the Medium Term Expenditure Framework submitted to it for approval, describing it as “empty.”

The document was said to have been returned to the Executive.

Saraki had after a meeting with Buhari told State House correspondents that the issue of the foreign loan was work in progress.

 

Osinbajo, Saraki, Dogara Meeting In Aso Rock

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is currently meeting with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting is believed to be one of the efforts aimed at resolving the issues arising from the Senate’s recent rejection of President Muhammadu Buhari’s $30bn foreign loan request and the 2016-2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

Osinbajo heads the present administration’s Economic Management Team.

The meeting started at about 2pm with the arrival of the heads of the two chambers of the National Assembly in the Vice-President’s office.

Read More:

http://punchng.com/osinbajo-saraki-dogara-meeting-aso-rock/

$30bn loan: Osinbajo in closed-door meeting with Saraki, Dogara.

Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo is currently holding a closed-door meeting with President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Daily Trust reports.

 

The meeting with the leaders of the National Assembly is believed to be in line with reaching a truce on the $30bn loan request currently before the legislature from the presidency.

 

Both men are believed to have arrived the Aso Rock villa at about 2pm for the meeting, which is holding in the Vice President’s office.

 

The Senate had penultimate Tuesday rejected the request citing incomplete documentation.

Buhari, Saraki meet for the third time in a week.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with Senate President, Bukola Saraki at the Presidential Villa for the third time in a week.

 

Both leaders had met last week Friday as well as on Wednesday after the President met with members of the South East Caucus in the Senate led by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and Eyinnaya Abaribe.

 

Recall that the Senate had recently rejected Buahri’s $29.9bn loan request due to its “emptiness”.

 

The upper chamber had also rejected the 2017 to 2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) forwarded by President Buhari for approval.

 

The Senate President, at the end of last week Friday’s meeting, had told State House correspondents that the issue of the $29.9 billion loan was work in progress.

Yet Again, Buhari, Saraki Meet in Aso Villa

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met for the third time within one week with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

They met first last week Friday while the second meeting was on Wednesday after the President met with members of the South East Caucus in the Senate led by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and Eyinnaya Abaribe.

The third meeting on Friday was held after the Jumaat prayer in the President’s office.

Just like Wednesday’s meeting, this Friday’s meeting was termed private as State House correspondents were not allowed to cover the meeting.

The Senate had recently rejected Buhari’s approval request for $29.9 billion loan.

It also described the 2017 to 2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) forwarded by President Buhari for approval as “empty.”

The MTEF is yet to be approved by the Senate.

The Senate President, at the end of last week Friday’s meeting, had told State House correspondents that the issue of the $29.9 billion loan was work in progress.

Bukola during the encounter also warned Nigerians not to politicise the issue of the loan request.

Saraki seeks review of $120 residency fee charged Nigerians in Ghana

The Senate President and chairman of the National Assembly, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has appealed to the Ghanaian Parliament to review the $120 Residency Fee imposed on Nigerians living in Ghana.

Saraki made the appeal on Wednesday when he granted audience to a delegation of Ghanaian parliamentarians, which paid him a courtesy visit at the National Assembly, Abuja.

A statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Senate President on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, quoted the Senate President while responding to comments by the leader of the visiting Parliamentarians, Hon. Alfred Agbesi, as saying: “I am appealing to you my colleagues in the parliament in Ghana on the recent laws passed on Nigerians to pay a residency fee of $120. I am appealing that you review this law and take a second look at it again as things are hard. This recession is biting hard”.

Ghana early this year imposed a fee of $120 on Nigerians and other immigrants that stayed in the country for a total of 90 days or more in a given year and are required by law to register for the Non-citizen Ghana card at the cost of $120 (N19,000).

The Act, which is enshrined under the Foreigners Identification Management System (FIMS), in pursuance of Authority’s mandate under the NIA Act, 2006 (Act 707), the National Identity Register Act, 2008 (Act 750) and the National Identity Regulations, 2012, made it compulsory that the non-citizen Ghana card is the mandatory form of identification to be used in all transactions which includes applying for or renewing residence permits, opening or running a bank account etc.

Saraki also commended the Ghanaian Parliament for supporting Nigeria to emerge as the Vice President for the West African Region in the just concluded Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference in Geneva.

Also responding to the request of the visiting Ghanaian Parliamentarians that the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS) should help the Ghanaian law makers in legislative drafting, Dr. Saraki assured that NILS would assist their law makers where necessary, explaining that it was for such purpose that the institute was established.

According to the Senate President, “NILS has been very instrumental in propagating the ideals of legislative enhancement. It is because of the activities of NILS that people who ask what does the legislature do that our works are being appreciated.”

He further stated that NILS has been resolute in propagating the work of the National Assembly especially in enhancing the economic agenda of the National Assembly to bring Nigeria out of the current economic recession.

Earlier, leader of the delegation, Mr. Agbesi, who is the Deputy Leader of the Ghanaian Parliament, said that they were in Nigeria to seek the help of NILS in legislative drafting for in-coming law makers and how it would help in the performance of their duties.

Agbesi described NILS as one of the main pillars to advance democracy in Ghana, while pledging to enhance and improve bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Ghana.

US Election: Ekweremadu congratulates President-Elect Trump

Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, has congratulated the President-Elect of the United States of America, USA, Mr. Donald Trump, on his victory in the US presidential election.

In his message, Ekweremadu, who described the election as “hard-fought”, said the two major contestants gave a good account of themselves, and commended the candidate of the Democratic Party, Mrs. Hilary Clinton, for calling to concede the presidency to her rival and congratulating him on his hard-worn victory.

He said: “Mr. Trump has rightly described the election as historic. But it is not only historic for the U.S, but also for the world. It is an important reminder to the entire world of the true meaning and essence of democracy as government of the people.

“I urge him to work for democracy, global peace and prosperity because the peace and prosperity of America is intrinsic in that of the entire world.

“In particular, I urge better bilateral deals for Nigeria by the incoming Donald Trump presidency. I have no doubt that the people of Nigeria and indeed the Peoples Democratic Party are willing and ready to work with the incoming U.S government for the good of both nations”.

Senator Ekweremadu also enjoined emerging democracies, including Nigeria, to emulate the democratic and transparent nature of the U.S election, noting that the will of the people and respect for democratic principles must be allowed at all times.

“We have many lessons to learn from the American presidential election. It was highly democratic, transparent, peaceful, and free of intimidation, willful manipulations, contrived security scares; and it was absolutely conclusive, even though the ruling party was losing, and eventually lost”, Ekweremadu stressed.

Saraki in his message said: “On this day, I wish to extend my sincerest congratulatory remarks to U.S. President-Elect Donald J. Trump, on his remarkable victory in yesterday’s national election in the United States.

“Mr. Trump persevered through a very challenging Republican primary election cycle, where he defeated sixteen (16) professional and well-organized candidates. While many career politicians tried to write off Mr. Trump’s candidacy as a long shot, he stuck to his positions and controlled the daily media messaging like no other candidate in the history of American Presidential campaigns.

“Additionally, I must commend Mr. Trump for his gracious and courteous acceptance of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s phone call to concede the election. He recognizes that Secretary Clinton ran a courageous contest and was perhaps the most qualified candidate for President in decades. Having worked with Mrs. Clinton as a champion of the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves, I can personally attest to her hard work and dedication to the less fortunate in our society. Secretary Clinton would have been a tremendous leader and we will all miss her dedication and commitment to public service.

“I look forward to working with President-Elect Trump to continue the strong U.S.-Nigeria relationship and to address our mutual interest in defeating global terror networks, rooting out corruption and strengthening the institutions of governance.

“Mr. Trump’s years of being a private sector leader can be invaluable to Nigeria as we work to restructure and diversify our economy. It is important for the private sector here to have a larger role in expanding our economic base, creating jobs and fostering entrepreneurship. In these areas, I am sure he will be able to serve as a strong partner.

“In closing, it is my hope and prayer that the United States can move beyond this election and heal the divisions that divide that great nation. Mr. Trump has an opportunity to be a unifying force and I believe his humble acceptance speech was a great beginning.?”

“I have other important things to do”, says CCT judge. Pushes Saraki’s trial to January.

Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), on Tuesday adjourned the trial Senate President Bukola Saraki to January 11.
Announcing the adjournment after sitting for only 30 minutes, Umar said he had “other important thing to attend to”.
Before his announcement, Umar allowed Paul Usoro, Saraki’s counsel, to finish cross-examining Michael Wetkas, a detective of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and prosecution witness.
Usoro cross-examined Wetkas on count 16 of the charge of false declaration of assets brought against Saraki by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
While being cross-examined on the charge, Wetkas admitted that he did? not speak with the Kwara state government or interrogate Saraki on the allegation.
?Usoro: Did you speak with Kwara state government or officials as regard this allegation.
 
Wetkas: No, didn’t speak with them.
 
Usoro: Throughout the investigation you didn’t speak with defendant?
 
Wetkas: Yes, that is correct.
 
Usoro: So, in respect of this charge you didn’t have any input from him?
 
Wetkas: No,  I did not.
 
?Usoro cross-examined the witness for about three months.
The charge read in part: “That you Saraki while being senator did receive monthly salary as governor of Kwara state.”

I have Other Important Things to Do – CCT Judge as he Adjourns Saraki’s Trial To Jan

Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), on Tuesday adjourned the trial Senate President Bukola Saraki to January 11.

Announcing the adjournment after sitting for only 30 minutes, Umar said he had “other important thing to attend to”.

Before his announcement, Umar allowed Paul Usoro, Saraki’s counsel, to finish cross-examining Michael Wetkas, a detective of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and prosecution witness.

Usoro cross-examined Wetkas on count 16 of the charge of false declaration of assets brought against Saraki by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

While being cross-examined on the charge, Wetkas admitted that he did? not speak with the Kwara state government or interrogate Saraki on the allegation.

?Usoro: Did you speak with Kwara state government or officials as regard this allegation.

Wetkas: No, didn’t speak with them.

Usoro: Throughout the investigation you didn’t speak with defendant?

Wetkas: Yes, that is correct.

Usoro: So, in respect of this charge you didn’t have any input from him?

Wetkas: No,  I did not.

?Usoro cross-examined the witness for about three months.

The charge read in part: “That you Saraki while being senator did receive monthly salary as governor of Kwara state.”

Code of Conduct: Saraki lied over Lagos property – Witness

Prosecution witness, Mr. Michael Wetkas, in the ongoing trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, said on Monday that the claim by Saraki that he bought a property in Lagos with proceeds of sale of rice and sugar was false.

Wetkas, who was being cross-examined for the 13th day by the defence, told the Danladi Umar-led CCT that the Senate President actually bought the properties at 17A and B, McDonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, in 2006 with proceeds of loans he obtained from the Guaranty Trust Bank.

Saraki is being prosecuted by the Federal Government before the CCT on 16 counts, including false and anticipatory asset declaration, which he allegedly made as governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, Wetkas was asked by the defence lawyer, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), to read from the various asset declaration forms completed by the Senate President and earlier admitted by the CCT as exhibits.

In his asset declaration form of June 3, 2011 which he submitted at the end of his second term as governor, Saraki, declared that he acquired the property in 2006, and five others in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 2000 with proceeds of sales of rice and sugar.

Meanwhile, he earlier declared in his asset declaration form dated July 11, 2007 for his end of first term as governor, and at the beginning of his second term as governor, that he acquired the properties through loan worth N497m.

The witness explained that the loan initially obtained was structured to be paid quarterly in five tranches but that as the then Kwara State governor, he was obtaining additional loans from the bank which led to the subsequent restructuring of the loan.

Wetkas, as directed by the defence lawyer, also read from the GT Bank statement of the Senate President covering the period 2005 to 2015.

The bank statement was earlier admitted by the CCT as Exhibit 7.

Wetkas confirmed that Saraki obtained three loans in the sums of N380m, N380m and N400m in connection with the properties acquired by Saraki.

He said, “In 2006, the balance was N9,779,109. 79m before the loan was credited. This first loan taken was used to pay the one before. The loan amount was N380m.

“The property it was used to buy was worth N256.3m. There was five per cent charge translated into N12,815,000. It was liquidated on February 5, 2007.

“When the loan was liquidated, it took the balance to a debit balance of N231,552,804.93. Then another loan was taken of N380m on the same February 5, 2007. The second loan was taken to defray the debit. It now gave a credit balance of N98m.

“As of the 2007 declaration, there was debit outstanding of the loan of up to N300m, which was not declared in 2007 declaration. There were other inflows into account the purposes of paying.

“On August 27, 2009, the balance on the account shows an inflow into the account of N100m through banker’s cheque. On July 31, 2009, it shows that the account was in debit of about N93,933,654.15.

“After the inflow of N100m on August 27, it went into credit balance of N6,066,345.6. On April 30, 2009, the account was in debit position of N17m. The on the same date, there was loan disbursement of N400m.”

EXCLUSIVE: Obasanjo, Okorocha, Sanusi, Ooni of Ife, Others slay at the #SokotoDurbar

Omojuwa.Com was ably represented at the Durbar ceremony organized to commemorate the 10th coronation anniversary of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muammad Sa’ad Abubakar, which kicked off on the 2nd of November.

 

In attendance were all dignitaries including politicians and royal fathers from all parts of the country. The Durbar which came in last in a 4-day long celebration drew international attention to the Seat of the Caliphate, Sokoto State.

 

Among some of the dignitaries were; Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, HOR Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Kwara State Governor Abdulfataah Ahmed, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Former Deputy HOR Speaker Emeka Ihedioha amongst others.

 

Apart from the ceremony, the event was an opportunity for the state governor, Aminu Tambuwal who was the speaker of the house representatives in the last administration to showcase and publicize some of his legacy projects which after inspection were commissioned by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.

 

Security was top-notch as armed forces in conjunction with other sister agencies ensured the state was under adequate security due to the ravaging Boko Haram attacks in the state in recent times.

 

Sokoto state, heavily laden with a vast and rich historical and cultural background seized the opportunity to show off some of it’s heritage to visitors and tourists from all parts of the world. The Caliphate happens to be one of the biggest in northern Nigeria. However, with untold stories of the Jihad among other historical struggles.

 

It is rumored that over 700 Horses and Camels participated in the colorful event. And with confirmation from the Omojuwa.Com correspondence, that rumor is not far from the truth.

 

The Durbar, like this one is usually a common event set up to celebrate special occassions in northern Nigeria. It is also an event that dates back to the pre-colonial history of the Hausa-Fulani people across the country.

 

Below are some of the pictures from the event:

 

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cwghbusxaaa-wfx

 

bayo

 

buhari

 

buhari0

 

dogari

 

dogari2

 

lai

 

obasanjo

 

okorocha

 

ooni

 

sanusi

 

sanusi2

 

sanusi4

 

sanusi7

 

tambuwal

3 takeaways from Saraki’s visit to President Buhari – Jude Egbas

Senate President Bukola Saraki paid President Muhammadu Buhari a visit on Friday November 4, 2016.

If you learned nothing else from that visit, you should take the following to the bank:

1. A frosty relationship can be smoothened

The Senate and Executive arms of government haven’t enjoyed the best of relationships in the Buhari era.

There’s been too much bad blood between both camps.

Too much for President Buhari’s liking, a State House source has told Pulse.

Friday’s meeting may have been brief, but it was all for a better working relationship between Buhari and the Saraki-led Senate in the future, Pulse was reliably informed by a top ranking official in the Presidency.

Saraki had said after the meeting: “We should not look at that as a reflection of the relationship. Don’t let us politicise very important issues. As we said, this is work in progress.”

Yeah, you read that right.

The relationship between the Executive and the Legislature is very much a work in progress.

2. That $30B loan rejection was on the agenda

I came here to pray, I have finished praying and I just had a general felicitation with the president. It didn’t go beyond that”, Saraki said as he deflected questions from State House correspondents concerning whether the rejection of the $30B loan proposal from the Executive was on the cards.

Yeah right. Aso Rock must have the best praying ground around these days.

The loan request from the Executive was turned down by the Senate earlier in the week and Saraki visits the President as the week tapered off.

Make of that what you will.

Remember what they say about the Witch crying at night and the Child passing away at dawn?

Even President Buhari gave the agenda away in the following tweet:

3. President’s aides have been doing such a poor job

To be very frank here, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma and Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on National Assembly matters, Ita Enang, have made a huge mess of Executive proposals sent to lawmakers recently.

First, it was the 2016 budget proposal that was duplicated and laden with errors; and then we had the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) that was lacking in details and a loan request proposal that had no attachment.

It has been a comedy of errors from Buhari’s men.

Today’s meeting was supposed to address all of that.

***********

Trust us when we say the President’s loan request will be re-submitted to the National Assembly and speedily passed this time.

And we’ll remember this meeting as the moment when a relationship reset happened.

President Buhari And Senate President Saraki In Closed-door Meeting

President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno after the Jumat prayers in Aso Rock mosque on Friday

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday held a closed-door meeting with President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Saraki was accompanied to the President’s office by Senator Danjuma Goje.

Saraki later told State House correspondents after the meeting that Buhari’s external borrowing request that was rejected by the Senate was a work in progress.

”I came here to pray. I have finished praying and I just had a general felicitation with the President. It did not go beyond that.

“We should not look at the loan request as a reflection of the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. Don’t let us politicize very important issues. As we said, this is work in progress.”

Buhari who tweeted about the meeting via his official Twitter account @MBuhari wrote, “This afternoon I received in audience Senate Pres @bukolasaraki. The Executive & Legislature will continue to work together for Nigeria’s progress.”

No Excuse for Rape, Corruption in IDP Camps – Saraki

The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said increasing social injustices like rape, diversion of food items and other corruption-related cases within the Internally Displaced Persons’ camps are inexcusable.

A statement by the Special Assistant to the Senate President on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, quoted Saraki as saying this when a delegation of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees led by Mrs. Angele Dikongue-Atangana visited him at the National Assembly, Abuja, on Tuesday.

He also pledged the cooperation of the Senate to ensure quick passage of bills to help address the crisis in IDP camps across the country.

Saraki said, “It is disheartening and heartless when you read and hear of cases of corruption in the supplies of food items; when you see cases of malnutrition and mortality in the IDPs; when you see children with cases of malnutrition and you know there can be speedy recovery; when the necessary drugs and nutritional items are provided with the necessary food items.”

He also pledged the readiness of the National Assembly to cooperate with the UNHCR in addressing the challenges facing the IDPs in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria.

Saraki told the leader of the delegation that the fact that the Senate had no committee on the IDPs did not mean the upper chamber of the National Assembly was unmindful of its legislative duties on the IDPs.

He stated that there were committees of the Senate saddled with the responsibility of tackling poverty and its related challenges.

Saraki pledged the cooperation of the Senate to work with the House of Representatives in the passage of legislation that would enhance the welfare of the persons in the IDPs.

Saraki further pledged to help facilitate the domestication of the Kampala Convention on Statelessness and Protection of Refugees.

Earlier, Dikongue-Atangana recounted the efforts of the UNHCR to rally support on the domestication of the Kampala Convention in the troubled regions within the country.

She announced that the UNHCR was planning a workshop for parliamentarians on the role of lawmakers in internal displacement, adding that the workshop was aimed at creating the awareness among members regarding international standards on IDPs protection and lesson learnt on parliamentary oversight of national response to internal displacement crisis.

Senate rejects Buhari’s request to borrow $30 billion infrastructure loan.

The Senate has rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for authorisation to borrow about $30 billion.

The president, last Tuesday, forwarded a request to the National Assembly to approve external borrowing plan of $29.960 billion to execute key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.

He made the requests in two separate letters to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

Mr. Buhari said the external loan, the biggest in Nigeria’s history, will fund targeted projects cutting across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation.

Other sectors, he said, included poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance and financial management reforms, among others.

According to him, the cost of the projects and programmes under the borrowing (rolling) plan is $29.960 billion.

This is made up of proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274 billion, special national infrastructure projects $10.686 billion, Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and Federal Government budget support of $3.5 billion.

The Majority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, was quoted on Monday as saying that the House would approve the loan.

But The Senate considered the request on Tuesday and refused to give its approval.

BREAKING: Bukola Saraki loses bid to halt CCT trial.

The appeal court on Thursday dismissed Senate President Bukola Saraki’s appeal challenging his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

 

The panel led by Abdul Aboki, a justice, dismissed the appeal and held that the appellant’s submission was laced with sentiments.

 

Aboki further struck out a cross appeal by the appellant filed at court, saying that it was “smuggle?d in”.

 

Saraki is standing trial for alleged false declaration of assets.

?

More to follow…

Court Dismisses Saraki’s Appeal Against CCT

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has again affirmed the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to try the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki on charges bordering on assets declaration breaches before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Delivering judgment in the appeal filed by Saraki, the Justice Abdul Aboki-led panel of the appeal court on Thursday affirmed the CCT’s jurisdiction after dismissing the appeal filed by Saraki challenging his trial before the tribunal.

All the four other members of the panel unanimously agreed with the lead judgment delivered by Justice Aboki? who resolved all the eight issues formulated for determination against Saraki.

In affirming the earlier ruling of the Danladi Umar-led CCT that affirmed the tribunal’s jurisdiction, Justice Aboki held among others that contrary to Saraki’s contention, the Attorney-General of the Federation had the power to institute charges against him before the CCT.

The appeal court also held that under the Constitution, the Code of Conduct wa?s not under any obligation to invite the appellant to enable him to make written admission of breaches in his asset declaration forms before charges could be initiated against him.

It held that the tribunal had rightly departed from its earlier decision exonerating a former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu? on account that he was not invited by the CCB to confront him with the allegations levelled against him.

The court also held that the fact that the charges were initiated 13? years after the offences were allegedly committed was immaterial.

Justice Aboki described the contention as sentimental which the court had been enjoined not to delve into.

This was the second time the appeal court would be delivering judgment on the same subject matter of jurisdiction of the CCT to try the Senate President.

The Court of Appeal had last year ruled against Saraki on the jurisdiction of the CCT and asked him to proceed to face the 16 counts preferred against him.

The judgment of the appeal court was validated by the Supreme Court in February.

Credit:

http://punchng.com/breaking-appeal-court-dismisses-sarakis-cct-trial/

Dogara Is Just A Thief – Jibrin

Abdumumin Jibrin suspended lawmaker has accused serving Speaker of the house Dogara of embezzling N500million from the house claiming it was to pay his house rent

The embattled Former Chairman made the accusation in a new statement he shared via social media.

Read below:

“You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. I want to be one of those madmen”- Thomas Sankara On day 88 of DogaraGate: At a time of recession when Members of House and ministers collect a paltry sum per annum for rent of official House Speaker Dogara and Lasun secretly collected 500m naira from multiple sources in the name of “we no get official house” for rent of Houses and guest houses.
It was in the process of delivering part of the illicit money that the criminal Herma Hembe stole part of the money that spark a fight between him and Lasun Billions has been stolen and wasted over the years by the House in name of providing official house and guest houses that are often used for parties with prostitutes.

Source :

http://yawnaija.tv/dogara-just-thief-jibrin/

Chibok Girls: Saraki Seeks Safe Return of Others

Senate President Bukola Saraki has commended President Muhammadu Buhari, the security forces, Switzerland and the international community for the combined efforts that led to the release of the girls.

Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, however, expressed the hope that the release of more of the girls is imminent, admonishing security forces to remain vigilant in the face of the renewed security breaches in the North East.

He said: “We join all Nigerians to rejoice on the return of our daughters. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of those who have returned, and those girls who remain in the hands of the terrorists.

“The release of the 21 girls is a testament to the perseverance of our men and women in uniform, the civilian joint task force and a clear indication that this government has been relentless in securing their release,” the Senate President said.

“Moving forward, we need to ensure that the girls that have been returned back to us are re-united with their families, and rehabilitated to become full members of our society,” he added.

He cautioned: “We must also not take our foot off the gas, Nigerians must continue to be united and insistent on the safe return of the other girls that are still in the hands of Boko Haram,” he said.

The Senate President restated the commitment of the 8th Senate to continue supporting the Federal Government to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls, highlighting the fact that their abduction still represents a dark notch in the history of the country.

“On our part, the Nigerian Senate has been clear that we will continue to do everything within our powers to support efforts aimed at securing the release of the rest of the girls,” Saraki said.

Tax laws will be examined to improve ease of doing business – Saraki

The President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday stated that the 8th Senate will work to streamline Nigeria’s multiple taxation system to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

Speaking at a dialogue at the 22nd Edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja, Saraki, while answering questions from the audience, stated that Nigeria’s corporate taxation system needed to be reformed and revamped to get the country out of the economic recession.

He said: “With 37 million small and medium scale enterprises providing about 95 per cent of our jobs, as we promote ‘Made in Nigeria’, we must also use our legislative powers to amend the taxation laws.

“To get out of this recession, we must provide a business-friendly environment.”

Speaking on the “Made in Nigeria” theme of the summit, the Senate President lauded the organisers for keying into the Senate’s plan to empower home-grown businesses and ensure that Nigerian brands are strong enough to be patronized by our people and exported abroad.

“Earlier this year, when in the Senate we started the ‘Made in Nigeria’ campaign, we knew how important it was, but even we did not foresee how far it would go,” Saraki said, adding: “To promote the patronage of our domestic businesses, the Senate has gone as far as amending the Public Procurement Act to compel government ministries, departments and agencies to key into this initiative.

“It is our hope that Nigerian businesses can begin to benefit from the over N2 trillion in government expenditure in the 2016 budget so that we can reduce the demand on foreign exchange while simultaneously creating employment, moving towards self sufficiency, increasing our GDP and boosting our Internally Generated Revenue.”

Saraki also stated that the anti-recession Bills that the Senate has scheduled for passage by December ending include: the Petroleum Industry Bill; the National Development Bank of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill; the Nigerian Ports and Habours Authority Act (Amendment) Bill; the National Road Fund (Establishment) Bill; the National Transport Commission Act of 2001; the Warehouse Receipts Act (Amendment) Bill; the Companies and Allied Matters Act; the Investment and Securities Act; the Customs and Excise Management Act; the Federal Competition Bill; and the National Road Authority Bill.

Saraki also mentioned that since the beginning of the year, the Senate has worked to fast-track the over 40 priority bills recommended by the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable, an initiative in which the Nigerian Economic Summit Group is a major partner.

The Senate president also said one of the plans that the Senate has to ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill in this administration is to break the Bill into different sections for easier passage.

He emphasised that with the passage of the PIB, Nigeria would generate more revenue from oil, putting it on track to come out of the economic recession.

“By focusing more on outcomes, rather than processes,” Saraki said, “the Nigerian Senate has been able to pass 20 Bills for Final Reading in two weeks.”

Just In: FG set to press fresh charges on Saraki, Ekweremadu individually.

In what appears as pyrrhic victory for Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, the forgery case against them, which the Federal Government surreptitiously withdrew last week, is to be filed afresh by the same government.

However, according to findings by Vanguard, the government will charge the two Senate leaders individually as opposed to the previous one where they were jointly docked.

A top Justice Ministry official told Vanguard last night that the case was primarily withdrawn because the Nigeria Police Force, handling the case, was yet to conclude its investigation.

In fact, as the source pointed out, the NPF is yet to interrogate Saraki and Ekweremadu and other officials of the National Assembly said to have masterminded the forgery of the Senate
Rules used in conducting the inauguration of the 8th NASS.

“You can see that under the Criminal Justice Act, the statement of the accused persons and all the witnesses are expected to be filed and it would have been wrong to have pressed ahead with the case when the police are yet to conclude their investigations,” the MoJ official pointed out.

“The federal government considered it appropriate to withdraw the case and conclude the investigation and attach both the statements by the accused and the witnesses before filing fresh charges against the suspects.

“We want to strengthen our position and present a solid case against the suspects as required under the Criminal Justice Administration Act,” the official told Vanguard.

However when contacted, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, confirmed that a fresh charge would only be pressed against the suspects when the government was ready and declined to say.

“I will get back to you on the matter when we are ready,” Malami said.

The fresh determination by the government to file charges against the Senate gladiators, appears to have short lived their celebration of the initial abrogation of the charges filed against them.

The withdrawal of the charges had elicited nationwide commentary, fuelling speculations that the Presidency, fingered as the arrowhead of the case, had opted to make peace with the NASS leadership, which it fell out with as a result of their emergence last year.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Tinubu and other Nigerian leaders promptly lauded the move once it was announced.

But the optimism of the leaders appears to have been shortlived with the plan to slam the Senators with fresh charges.

BREAKING: FG withdraws forgery case against Saraki, Ekweremadu.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has filed a motion to withdraw the charge of criminal conspiracy against Senate President Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.

An affidavit in support of the motion was filed before the High Court of Federal Capital Territory on Thursday by a litigation officer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odubu Loveme.

Messrs. Saraki and Ekweremadu, as well as a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former Deputy clerk, Ben Efeturi, were first arraigned before Justice Yusuf Halilu on June 10, 2016 via charge No. CR/219/16.

They all pleaded not guilty on July 27, 2016.

In the motion filed Thursday, Mr. Loveme said counsel to the Federal Government on the matter, Aliyu Umar, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on September 30 in the office of the Director of Public Prosecution told him that he had studied the case diary and “ had decided to amend the charge in the manner stated on the face of the motion paper”.

Mr. Loveme added that he has, consequently, filed an amended charge.

“That I depose to this affidavit in good faith believing same to be correct to the best of my knowledge and information and in accordance with the Oaths Act Cap 01 laws of the Federation of Nigeria,” he said.

Based on the amended charge, only Messrs. Maikasuwa and Efeturi would face prosecution.

Count 1 of the charge against the two civil servants, is that of Criminal Conspiracy punishable under section 97 (1) Penal Code Act ( Northern States) Federation Provisions Act, 1960, Cap 345, laws of the Federation 1990 as amended.

It read that “ Salisu Maikasuwa and Benedict Efeturi, on or about the 9th day of June 2015 at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court agreed to do an illegal act, to wit to make the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended without the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria which act was committed by yourselves and that you thereby committed the offence of criminal conspiracy.”

The two officials are accused of fraudulently amending the 2015 Senate Standing Orders without the authority of the 7th Senate “ with intention that the Senators elect of the 8th Senate would believe that the said Senate Standing Orders 2015 ( as amended) was made by the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria.”

They are also accused of forging a document punishable under section 366 of the Penal Code Act ( Northern States) Federal Provisions Act, 1960, Cap 345, Laws of the Federation 1990 ( as amended).

The Nigerian Government also accused them of giving false information with the intention to mislead the public.

The Court had on September 28 adjourned the matter to Friday, October 7 for commencement of hearing.

Mr. Umar, in his written address in support of the motion to amend the charge on Thursday, stated that the sole issue for determination is “ whether the Court can permit the amendment of the charge in terms of the amended charge”.

He said the Court has the powers to permit the amendment based on the provisions of Section 216 (1) of the Administration o Criminal Justice Act.

The Section stated that “ A Court may permit an alteration or an amendment to a charge or framing of a new charge at any time before judgment is pronounced.”

He also quoted Section 216 (3) which states that “ Where a Defendant is arraigned for trial on an imperfect or erroneous charge ,the Court may permit or direct the framing of a new charge, or any amendment to, or the alteration of the original charge.”

CCT: Tribunal dismisses Saraki’s motion for disqualifying tribunal chairman

The Code of Conduct Tribunal on Wednesday dismissed the motion filed by Senate President Bukola Saraki’s asking the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, to disqualify himself from further presiding over his (Saraki) on charges relating to asset declaration breaches.

Saraki, had in his motion filed on June 13, 2016 sought the tribunal’s order compelling its chairman to disqualify himself over allegation of a bias statement credited to him during the proceedings of June 7.

The defence had quoted the tribunal chairman to have warned the defence against causing delay of the case with a threat that the delay tactics would not reduce the consequence awaiting the accused.

But ruling on the application, the tribunal, held that the comment credited to him was unverified and that the defence failed to meet the legal standard of proving allegation of bias against a judge.

Umar, who read the ruling of the tribunal said the affidavit of “concerned citizens” filed by Saraki to prove the allegation of bias against him was unknown to law.

He said, “It is our holding that the defendant/applicant’s allegation of bias is merely founded on conjecture.

“The allegation of bias is a serious issue and it is capable of destroying public confidence in the institution.

“The affidavit by the concerned citizens does not constitute a standard for proving such serious allegation.

“The tribunal upholds that the application of the applicant is not legally founded and it is hereby refused.”

Reading the ruling of the two-man panel, Umar noted that even if he had wished to withdraw from the trial, the Constitution constraints of removing the tribunal chairman as captured under Paragraph 17(3) and (4) of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution, would not permit him to do so.

He also noted that the practice of asking a judge to recuse or disqualify himself from the trial before the CCT was only application to the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court, as well as the High Court of the various states of the federation but not to the tribunal.

Noting that no court apart from the CCT has the jurisdiction to try the cases relating to asset declaration -related breaches, Umar added that asking the chairman to recuse himself was tantamount to closing down the tribunal as “without the chairman, there is no tribunal”.

Saraki, Ekeweremadu’s Alleged Forgery Trial Adjourned to Oct 7

Senate president Bukola Saraki and his deputy Ike Ekweremadu’s alleged forgery case was adjourned to October 7 2016 by presiding judge, Justice Yusf Haliru following an a plea by the counsel to the Federal government and prosecuting counsel, Aliyu Umar, for more time to respond to a motion filed by the defendants.

Umar told the court during a hearing today:

“Just now I became aware of a motion by the first defendant and served on us on September 26. The motion is fundamental because it is asking your lordship to decline jurisdiction and quash the charges.

“It is a short notice?. I have not filed anything?. It is fundamental to fair hearing. Under the circumstances, I will ask for an adjournment to enable me to respond to the motion.”

Standing trial with Saraki and Ekweremadu is the former clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, alongside his former assistant, Benedict Efeturi.

More photos of the accused persons’ appearance in court today:

BREAKING: Nigeria’s Attorney General stalls Saraki’s forgery trial

The trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for alleged forgery was stalled on Wednesday, because the prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar, said he had not prepared his response to a fresh motion by the defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the court.

Mr. Umar is prosecuting the case on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federal, Abubakar Malami.

Mr. Saraki, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi, are facing trial for alleged forgery of the Senate standing rules used to elect them as leaders of the Senate in June last year.

The matter was adjourned in July till September 28 following the annual vacation of the judiciary.

At the opening of session on Wednesday, Mr. Umar informed the court that he had just received a motion from the defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the court in respect of the charges against them and asking that the case be dismissed.

He added that since the matter has to do with the fundamental right of parties to fair hearing, he needs to properly prepare his response to the motion.

“Just now I became aware of a motion by the first defendant and served on us on September 26. The motion is fundamental because it is asking your lordship to decline jurisdiction and quash the charges. It is a short notice?,” he said.

“I have not filed anything?. It is fundamental to fair hearing. Under the circumstances, I will ask for an adjournment to enable me to respond to the motion.

“Honestly, I’m not ready for this motion. If it is only just two days, grant us the adjournment to respond to the motion,” he said.

Mr. Umar further said he had some internal issues he needed to attend to, before responding to the motion.
Malami’s fault.

?The counsel to the defendants objected the application for adjournment.

“T?he act of prosecution is serious business, especially in a criminal charge. The office of the Attorney-General which is the chief prosecuting counsel was served months ago. They had all the opportunities to respond to our applications,” said Mahmud Magaji, counsel to Mr. Efeturi.

“I urge your lordship not to allow us to descend to the internal working of the prosecution. In view of this, I’m objecting to the application for adjournment,”

Counsel to Mr. Saraki, Paul Erokoro, also asked the court to refuse application, describing it as lacking in merit.

“O?n behalf of the third defendant I submit that the application has no merit. If the Attorney-General has not deemed it fit to pass the entire case file to the counsel, then we should be allowed to move our motion. We are ready to proceed,” said Mr. Erokoro.

The trial judge, Yusuf Haliru, adjourned the matter till October 7.

AGF Seeks Further Evidence To Prosecute Saraki, Ekweremadu

Three months after it charged Senate President Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, and two others with forging the Senate Standing Rules, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice has declared the investigation into the alleged offence inconclusive.
The AGF, Abubakar Malami, is now desperately seeking fresh investigations that will enable him convict the accused persons, even though he has not withdrawn the pending charges against them.
To get the court to accept the charges, the AGF had told the court that investigations into the alleged forgery had been concluded.
In June, when the case was first filed in court and before the arraignment of Saraki and other co-accused persons, the federal government deposed to an affidavit, which was attached to the case file at the time, attesting that investigations into the matter had been concluded.
In the charge sheet dated June 10, 2016 and signed by D.E Kaswe Esq., Principal State Counsel on behalf of the AGF, and which was backed by an Affidavit of Completion of Investigation deposed to at the Federal High Court Registry, Abuja, on the same date by Okara Neji Jonah, a litigation officer in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja, attested that the police had concluded its investigations.
Okara swore that “the FCIID (Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department) has concluded investigation of the case and has forwarded the file to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation for Prosecution”.
Read More: thisdaylive

Paralympic Games: Saraki Demands Reward For Team Nigeria

The triumphant Team Nigeria Paralympic athletes yesterday arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to a rousing heroic welcome from hundreds of posters-bearing Nigerians as the Senate President urged the federal government to reward the athletes.
Before their arrival, it was an endless drumming, singing and dancing as the Boys Brigade Abuja musical band and the Pyakasa Youth Cultural Group, Abuja held the enthusiastic crowd waiting to get a glimpse of the victorious Paralympic team spellbound.
The crowd which gathered as early as 2.30pm and waited patiently for hours on end for the arrival of the team, went into ecstatic mood and more dancing on sighting them, jostling and surging to have handshakes or take pictures with them.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has charged the federal government to reward the Paralympic athletes handsomely for making the country proud, stressing that they deserve the reward.
Fielding questions from journalists on arrival at the International wing of the Abuja Airport, the former governor of Kwara State said that though he cannot specifically make any recommendation on the kind of reward the federal government should give them, the National Assembly will however invite, parley and host them very soon.
According to him; “I think they did very well considering the quantity and quality of medals they gathered at the Rio Games. We need to encourage them like we did to the able bodied athletes and should be our focus now.”
Addressing the athletes that shattered both world and Paralympic records during a brief ceremony on arrival by 5.40pm yesterday, Director; Youth Development, Luka Jonathan Magset, who represented both the minister and the permanent secretary assured that they will be given heroic welcome.

Credit:

http://sunnewsonline.com/paralympic-games-saraki-demands-reward-for-team-nigeria/

Senate To Investigate Recession As Saraki Calls For Collaboration On Economy

Concerned by the worsening conditions of Nigerians as a result of the economic recession, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said tuesday in Ilorin that the Senate upon resumption next week, would probe the cause of the recession, stating that it was necessary to know why in spite of budgetary provisions, many more citizens have receded below poverty line.

“The Senate on resumption will respond to the economic crisis with a number of measures including getting managers of the economy to give account to the people, making tough recommendations to the president on needed changes, formulating necessary legislative framework for economic recovery and undertaking wide consultations across the private sector,” he told journalists at his residence during the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.

Worries about the ailing economy were shared also by a former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who offered some tips on the way out of the woods, saying effective handling of spiralling inflation, foreign exchange problem, fiscal deficit and debts control were key to resolving the current economic crisis.

Okonjo-Iweala who spoke on Aljazeera TV programme, The Stream, said focusing on the basic issues of macroeconomic stability was crucial to fixing the country’s economic challenges.

Saraki, in his intervention, explained why the legislative interrogation of the executive management of the economy had become necessary: “We need to know why the promises of external borrowing have not materialised, why devaluation has not helped to strengthen the naira, why inflow of foreign currency has continued to dry up and interest rate is still very high? Doing this will help us to understand where we are, so that we can determine where exactly we want to go from here.”

Read More: thisdaylive

Saraki, Akpabio, Daniel, Odili, Ladoja Included In AGF’s List For Fresh Probe, Trial

Senate President Bukola Saraki, factional Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ali Modu Sheriff; and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, are among 31 former governors whose alleged corruption cases investigated by the anti-graft agencies are likely to be reopened soon.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Tuesday that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had written to the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, directing the reopening of the cases of the ex-governors.

It was learnt on Wednesday that the AGF had called for the case files of the former state governors.

 

The PUNCH obtained the list of the former governors, who were named in the AGF’s letter, on Wednesday.

The list contains the names of Saraki, a former Governor of Kwara State; Akpabio (a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, and Sheriff (an ex-Governor of Borno State).

Other former governors include Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia); Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu); Saminu Turaki (Jigawa); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Joshua Dariye (Plateau); Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Martin Elechi (Ebonyi); Danjuma Goje (Gombe) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa).

 

They also include Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Obong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom); Achike Udenwa (Imo); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Jolly Nyame (Taraba); Boni Haruna (Adamawa); George Akume (Benue); Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo); Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto) and Adebayo Alao-Akala.

Others are Usman Dakingari (Kebbi); Adamu Mu’azu (Bauchi); Peter Odili (Rivers), and Lucky Igbindedion (Edo).

Part of the AGF’s letter to the ICPC, sighted by our correspondent on Monday, indicated that the cases against some of the former governors were investigated some years ago, but charges were never filed against them.

 

The letter partly read, “It is clear that some of these governors and other politically-exposed persons have not been charged to court despite the fact that the ICPC has concluded their investigations, concerning allegations levelled against them, for one reason or the other.

“It is the position of the present administration that all ex-governors, who the ICPC had long concluded investigations into the various allegations levelled against them, should be immediately prosecuted.”

The letter also gave the Chairman of the ICPC a 14-day ultimatum to “remit the duplicate case files concerning the politically-exposed persons investigated by the ICPC over the years” to the office of the AGF.

Our correspondent confirmed on Wednesday that the AGF had sent a similar request to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission with the same list of former governors annexed to his letter.

 

The PUNCH had reported that some of the ex-governors, according to one of the sources, include some, who had been convicted on charges preferred against them by the EFCC.

Some of them also had their cases terminated before full-blown trial could begin.

Others are currently undergoing trial on charges initiated against them by the EFCC at either the various divisions of the Federal High Court or the High Courts of their home states.

 

There are about five of the former governors, who are now said to be serving senators.

The affected personalities, it was learnt, served as governors for either one or two terms between 1999 and 2015, and are from all the six geopolitical zones of the country.

It was also confirmed that the majority of those on the list belonged to the two dominant political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.

Another source also confirmed that a former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who was convicted in the United Kingdom for fraud-related charges and still serving his prison terms, was on the list.

Apart from Ibori, two former governors from the South-South, are said to be on the list.

Five of the former governors are from the South-East, and three from the South-West.

 

The PUNCH was informed that the ex-governors, whose cases would be reopened, included six from the North-West; six from the North-East, and eight from the North-Central.

The AGF letter defines high-profile cases as cases “involving alleged misconduct amounting to economic sabotage; involving complex financial transactions or property movement; involving any of the suspects, who is a politician, a public officer or judicial officer; and where the subject matter involves government or corruption of its official or involves the abuse of office.”

Such judiciary officers, it was learnt, would include judges allegedly involved in economic sabotage, including financial transactions.

 

The AGF’s letter to both the ICPC and EFCC indicated that AGF’s request for the case files was in the exercise of his powers vested in the AGF by Section 174(1) of the Constitution as well as sections 105 (3) and 106 (a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

Our correspondent’s findings showed on Wednesday that ICPC and EFCC had yet to respond to the AGF’s request.

Bear With Us, Saraki Pleads With Nigerians Over Recession

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki has lamented the current economic hardship being experienced by Nigerians, assuring that the Senate will collaborate with the presidency to find a quick and lasting solution to the economic crisis even as he pleaded with Nigerians to bear with the government.

Saraki also identified dialogue as a solution to the vandalization of oil and gas installations by Niger Delta militants. He emphasised the need for government to engage the militia in a dialogue to halt the incessant attack on oil facilities .

The Senate President spoke with newsmen in Ilorin, Kwara state Monday during his visit to the site of the proposed Sheik Muhammad Kamal deen University, Ogidi, Ilorin.

According to him,”I am confident that almost all local governments should be able to pay full salaries to their workers in the country. The message is to ensure through oversight that we ensure the executive gets all revenue due to it.”

Credit: Vanguard

Saraki Denies Defecting To PDP, Restates Commitment To APC

For the second time in less than a week, the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, has restated his commitment and loyalty to his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Media reports were rife that Saraki had defected to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after he attended the party’s senate caucus meeting on Wednesday.

But Saraki’s media aide, Bamikole Omishore, in a statement said the reports were “entirely untrue as the Senate President stands committed to the APC; a party that he helped midwife and worked for its victory in the 2015 elections.” He said Saraki’s presence at the PDP caucus meeting was in his official capacity as the Senate President and chairman, National Assembly.

“He attended the end of session event of the PDP caucus yesterday evening and spent only 30 minutes before leaving the members to continue with the event.

“The Senate President would like to assure every Nigerian that he is committed to the APC-led government and appreciates the confidence reposed in him and the APC during the 2015 General Elections.”

Omishore, on Monday, July 18, had defended his boss’s loyalty to APC, noting that the Senate President was committed to championing the ideals of the party.

Credit: Guardian

Borno Malnutrition Crisis, A National Problem- Saraki

The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, has said the malnutrition crisis presently encountered in Borno State should be seen as a Nigerian problem which deserves the ante notion of everyone.

He promised that the issue would be addressed on the floor of the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly soonest.

Saraki made this declaration on Monday while in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital to pay a condolence visit to the people of the state over the death of the Alhaji Shettima Monguno.

Monguno was the first republic minister and first African head of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

He also took time out to visit the centre for the treatment of people suffering severe malnutrition.

The Senate President decried that Borno State has been left to carry too much of the burden of the Boko Haram insurgency and it has become pertinent for others to help.

He said: “I am happy I am here with the leader of the Senate, before we break we will definitely discuss it (the Borno malnutrition crisis) on the floor and see what we can do.”

“The federal government and all agencies need to step up to the game.

“I think it is not good for a country like ours, we are a rich country, it is just an issue of organizing ourselves and getting the fund to support the state government. The state has been carrying too much of the load on their own.”

He said that the state government should not be left alone to carry the heavy burden but should be assisted by the federal government, private sector and wealthy individuals all over the country.

Saraki said: “We all need to put in our effort and see how we can address the (malnutrition) situation because it is the women and children that have suffered most from this. We must do our best to play a role and support the state in doing that.”

Credit: Punch

80 Special Prosecutors To Try Saraki’s Forgery Case, Others

The Federal Government has set up 20 teams of prosecutors, comprising 80 lawyers, who will handle a number of high profile criminal cases investigated by law enforcement agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

It was learnt that each of the teams had four lawyers with a Senior Advocate of Nigeria as the leader.

The identities of the lawyers, who were said to have been specially trained for the tasks ahead, have not been made known.

It was learnt that the Prof. Itse Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption was involved in the training of the special prosecutors.

Sources in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja confirmed on Thursday that one of the teams of prosecutors had been assigned the forgery case recently instituted against Senate President Bukola Saraki; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, and two others.

The new prosecuting team will fully take over the forgery case from the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Diri, when the trial resumes on Monday, a source confirmed.

The Federal Government, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice, had, on June 10, preferred against Saraki, Ekweremadu and others, two counts of criminal conspiracy and forgery of Senate Standing Rules used for the leadership election of the presiding officers of the 8th Senate on June 4, 2015.

The two other co-accused persons are a former Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and his then deputy, Benedict Efeturi.

The Federal Government stated that the offence of conspiracy is punishable under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Act and offence of forgery with “fraudulent intent” punishable under Section 364 of the same law.

On June 27, the four accused persons were arraigned and they pleaded not guilty to the charges before Justice Yusuf Halilu of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, Abuja.

Credit: Punch

Charges Against Us Are ‘Trumped Up’- Saraki

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has described the charges of criminal conspiracy and the forgery of the Senate Standing Rules document brought against him and his deputy,  Senator Ike Ekweremadu, as ‘trumped up.’

“It is farcical to allege that a criminal act occurred during Senate procedural actions and the mere suggestion demonstrates a desperate overreach by the office of the Attorney General,” Saraki said in a statement on Monday after appearing before a Federal High Court in Abuja along with Ekweremadu, former clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and his deputy, Mr. Benedict Efeturi.

“These trumped up charges is only another phase in the relentless persecution of the leadership of the Senate.”Saraki said he believed a set of a people within the government were out to persecute him.

“However, what has become clear is that there is now a government within the government of President Buhari who have seized the apparatus of Executive powers to pursue their nefarious agenda.”

The senate president said the charges brought against him and his deputy by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) did not serve a national interest and were capable of undermining the working relationship between the Senate and the Executive. The charges were also a clear violation of Separation of Powers, he said.

“This latest onslaught on the Legislature represents a clear and present danger to the democracy Nigerians fought hard to win and preserve. The suit filed on behalf of the Federal government suggests that perhaps some forces in the Federal Republic have not fully embraced the fact that the Senate’s rules and procedures govern how the legislative body adjudicates and resolves its own disputes.

“Let it be abundantly clear, both as a citizen and as a foremost Legislator, I will continue to rise above all the persecution and distraction that have been visited on me. In the words of Martin Luther King Junior, “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy”.

“I will remain true and committed to the responsibilities that my citizenship and my office impose on me. Without a doubt, the highest of those responsibilities is the steadfast refusal to surrender to the subversion of our democracy and the desecration of the Senate. This is a cross I am prepared to carry.

“If yielding to the nefarious agenda of a few individuals who are bent on undermining our democracy and destabilising the Federal government to satisfy their selfish interests is the alternative to losing my personal freedom, let the doors of jails be thrown open and I shall be a happy guest.”

Credit: Guardian

Forgery Charge: Saraki, Ekweremadu Plead Not Guilty

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, were on Monday, docked before an Abuja High Court at Jabi over their alleged complicity in forgery of the Senate Standing Rules, 2015. The two lawmakers took turns and pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge preferred against them by the federal government.

They were arraigned alongside former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and his deputy, Mr. Benedict Efeturi. Shortly after the defendants entered their plea to the charge marked CR/219/16, the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri, notified the court of FG’s counter-affidavit opposing release of the accused persons on bail. Diri told the court that the counter-affidavit which was filed Monday morning, was still pending before the court’s registry. He therefore persuaded trial Justice Yusuf Halilu to stand-down the matter for an hour to enable the registry to transmit the process to the court for hearing. Investigations revealed that FG, in its counter-affidavit, is seeking remand of both Saraki and Ekweremadu in custody.

Meantime, there is heavy security presence within perimeters of the court which shares boundary with the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, where Saraki is also answering to another 16-count charge bordering on his alleged false/anticipatory declaration of assets. Supporters of the embattled lawmakers thronged the court premises in their numbers to observe the proceeding.

Earlier, armed security operatives barred photo-journalists from gaining entrance into the court premises, a development that led to protest by the journalists. It took the intervention of lawyers to persuade the mobile police men to grant the camera men entry into the premises. Specifically, the four defendants were alleged to have masterminded the usage of a bogus Senate Standing Rules, for the July 9, 2015, election through which both Saraki and Ekweremadu took over the leadership of the Senate.

FG maintained that the defendants had by their conduct, committed an offence punishable under Section 97 (1) and 364 of the Penal Code Act. The two-count charge which was okayed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, read: “That you, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, on or about, the 9th of June, 2015, at the National Assembly complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, conspired amongst yourselves to forge the Senate Standing Order, 2011 (as amended) and you thereby committed the offence of conspiracy, punishable under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Law.

“That you, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, on or about the 9th of June, 2015, at the National Assembly complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, with fraudulent intent, forged the Senate Standing Order 2011 (as amended), causing it to be believed as the genuine Standing Order, 2015 and circulated same for use during the inauguration of the 8th Senate of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when you knew that the said Order was not made in compliance with the procedure for amendment of the Senate Order. You thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 364 of the Penal Code Law.”

Credit: Vanguard

Senate Forgery: FG To Arraign Saraki, Ekweremadu June 27

The arraignment of Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, over the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Order, 2015, will now take place on June 27.

Also to be arraigned are a former Clerk of the National Assembly Salisu Maikasuwa and the Deputy Clerk Benedict Efeturi.

Four of them were to be arraigned yesterday but the accused were not in court following claims that they had not been served the court summons.

Following the failure to arraign them, the judge of the Federal High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jabi Division, gave an order for substituted service following the claim of the bailiff that he had found it difficult to serve the accused persons.

Against this backdrop, the notice of arraignment was pasted on the notice board of the National Assembly yesterday.

According to the notice, the case, with charge number CV/21916, is between the federal government as “complainant applicant” and defendants listed in the following order: Salisu Maikasuwa; Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu.

The notice read in part: “By oral application dated 21st June, 2016 moved by D.E Kaswe, Principal State Counsel FMJ, in this case praying the court for an order of this Honourable Court granting leave to the complainant application to serve the criminal summons on the defendants by substituted means to wit by pasting it at the notice board of the National Assembly, Three Arms Zone and after hearing D.C. Kaswe with A.A. Kaltingo, Esq, counsel for the complainant/applicant moved the court orally for the above relief.”

Credit: Thisday

Senate Summons AGF Over Saraki, Ekweremadu’s Forgery Case

The Senate on Tuesday, summoned the Attorney-General of the Federation, who is also the Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, over the planned prosecution of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, for allegedly forging the Senate Standing Order 2015.

The senate took the decision following a motion moved by the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, who relied on order 14 and 52, to demand the approval of his colleagues for his two prayers including  the invitation of the AGF and the genuineness of the rule book.

The senate therefore, approved the two prayers through voice votes while Ekweremadu who presided over the session, asked the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to summon Malami, within 48 hours and interrogate him on the issue.

Credit: Punch

Saraki, Dogara, Tinubu Task Muslims

Senate President,  Bukola Saraki, has urged Muslims to use this year’s Ramadan fast to pray for peace, security and God’s intervention in tackling the myriad of socio-economic challenges confronting the nation.
In a statement to mark the commencement of this year’s Ramadan fast signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity,  Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki thanked God for the grace to participate in another holy obligation.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday appealed to Muslims to use the holy month of Ramadan to offer special prayers for Nigeria and her leaders at all levels.
Dogara, who described the month as a special one which Muslims around the world focus on prayer, fasting, giving out charity and religious devotion, said Nigeria ought not be left out in this period of prayers.
He said through a statement by his spokesman, Turaki Hassan in Abuja that the country was in dire need of special prayers in view of the present state of the economy and the security situation in the country.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Farmer, Herdsmen Conflict: Senate To Find Lasting Solution– Saraki

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has appealed to herdsmen and farmers across the country to maintain peace as the National Assembly is ready to proffer lasting solution to the perennial clashes between farmers and herdsmen over grazing land.

Speaking yesterday when a group of herdsmen from Kautal Hore Socio-Cultural Association Jigawa State branch visited him, the Senate President who described the perennial clashes between the farmers and herdsmen as unfortunate, also appealed to the herdsmen to maintain peace at all times.

According to Saraki, “The National Assembly and all the stakeholders have been meeting on how to ensure that there is permanent peace between the two major groups in the nation’s agricultural system”.

He expressed concern over the frequent clashes, explaining that Nigeria is not the only country where farmers and herdsmen co-exist.

“There must be peace. There must be peaceful coexistence and there cannot be peace when human lives are being wasted. The National Assembly will stop at nothing to ensure that there is peace. We will not stop working until there is peace between the farmers and herdsmen in this country. Please be patient”, Saraki said while promising that the Senate will soon come out with suggestions  on how to end the conflict.

Earlier, chairman of the group, Umar Kabir Hadejia in his speech titled, “Appeal for an intervention” said the Fulanis are traditionally a nomadic pastoral people who rear their cattle and sheep across the vast territory of Nigeria as the largest nomadic group in the world.

He lamented that due to urbanisation, there has been increasing conflict between farmers and the pastoralists largely due to the Fulanis seeking fertile grazing lands for their developmental purposes.

Credit:  Leadership

Asset Declaration: Witness’ Absence Stalls Saraki’s Trial

The trial of the Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged false and anticipatory assets declaration was today stalled due to the absence of prosecution witness, Michael Wetkast.

The trial could not continue today because the witness was testifying before Justice Ademola Adeniyi of an Abuja Federal High Court, in a matter brought against former governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido, and his two sons by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). This is contrary to reports in circulation that the witness’ absence was because he needed rest or because of the Senate President’s appeal at the appellate court.

Confirming the situation through an SMS, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said: “Our witness is busy before Hon. Justice Ademola of the Federal High Court Abuja in respect of Sule Lamido case”.

As at the time of filing this report, no new date has been announced yet.

It will be recalled that an appeal by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, challenging the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to try him over alleged false and anticipatory assets declaration was yesterday stalled at the Court of Appeal, Abuja as the panel could not form a quorum.

One of the three-man panel of Judges who appeared for the matter, Justice Moo Adumie, had told the court that hearing on the application could not  be held because the court cannot sit if a quorum is not formed.

While he did not give any reason why the two other judges were absent, Justice Adumie adjourned the matter to June 2, 2016 to enable the court form a quorum.

Credit: dailytrust

Hearing In Saraki’s Appeal Against CCT Stalls At Court Of Appeal

Hearing in an appeal by the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, on the jurisdiction of Code of Conduct Tribunal to try him was stalled at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Tuesday.

The matter could not proceed because of the inability of the justices of the court to form a quorum.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Moor Adumien, who led two pther justices, said it was impossible for the court to sit on the matter with only three justices.

“The court is unfortunately encumbered this morning on this appeal because we cannot form a quorum.

“We had earlier stood the matter down with the expectation that two of our other brother justices could join us but that did not happen.

“In the light of this, we seek the understanding of parties to adjourn the hearing of the appeal till June 2,’’ he said.

Saraki is challenging the jurisdiction of CCT to hear the charges of false and anticipatory asset declaration and Money Laundering brought against him.

Saraki had approached the appellate court challenging the March 24 ruling of the tribunal that it had jurisdiction to entertain the case.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Saraki’s earlier appeal aimed at ending his trial was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Feb. 5.

The apex court had in that decision ordered Saraki to submit himself for trial at the tribunal.

 

(NAN)

Saraki’s Trial: Appeal Court Fixes May 31 For Hearing

The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Monday fixed May 31 for the hearing of an appeal by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, challenging the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to try him on charges, including false and anticipatory asset declaration.

The Senate President is by his appeal challenging a March 24, 2016 ruling of the Danladi Umar-led CCT dismissing his application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the charges against him.

The Federal Government which is the respondent in Saraki’s appeal also filed a cross-appeal against the March 24, 16 ruling of the CCT.

A five-man bench of the appeal court led by Justice Abdul Aboki, on Monday fixed May 31 for the hearing of both the appeal and the cross-appeal following a request by Saraki’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), for a 14-day adjournment.

Kanu said he needed the adjournment to enable him to study the response filed on behalf of the respondent, the Federal Government.

Agabi told the court that he was just served with the final reply by the Federal Government with respect to its (the Federal Government’s) cross-appeal and would require time to look at it.

The lawyer, Mr. Henry Ejiga, who represented the Federal Government, did not object to Agabi’s application for adjournment.

The appeal court then fixed May 31 for the hearing.

Saraki’s earlier appeal aimed at ending his trial was dismissed by the Supreme Court in its judgment delivered on February 5, 2016, ordering him to submit himself for trial.

Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who represented the Federal Government, had cross-appealed the tribunal’s ruling, arguing that the CCT failed to make findings on its argument that Saraki’s motion, was an abuse of court process.

Jacob contended, among others, that the issue of jurisdiction, having been resolved by the Supreme Court in an earlier appeal by Saraki, ought not to be raised again.

He argued that the apex court, having held in a judgment of February 5, 2016 that the CCT had jurisdiction to try Saraki, it (CCT) ought not to entertain another motion filed by Saraki challenging its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, Saraki’s trial before the CCT resumes today (Tuesday) with his team of lawyers expected to resume their cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas.

On May 11, 2016, when proceedings were last held, Wetkas said his investigation team relied on information provided by the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Alienation of Federal Government Properties in reaching the conclusion that Saraki made anticipated asset declaration.

The Senate President is being prosecuted by the Federal Government in 16 counts including alleged breaches in the forms which the Senate President submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau when he was the governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.

 

Credit: Punch

Rahaman Onike: Saraki And His Running Battle

The latest disclosure by the embattled senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki that his current travail was a price he has to pay for opposing muslim-muslim ticket when APC as the ruling party was to decide its presidential/vice-presidential candidates sounds  like a belated excuse. Assuming he has raised the allegation ab initio probably it might have received greater public sympathy. The media boost given to the assertion notwithstanding, many Nigerian still find it difficult to believe his untoward accusations.It appears Saraki is employing every form of subterfuge to evade justice.From all indications, there is  a clear disjunction between the cause of his problem and the reality of ludicrous defence he is putting forward .As a renegade,he shouldn’t expect less from the party hierarchies anytime he reflects on the circumstances behind his emergence as Senate President.Hence,his counter accusations seem tendetious or could be regarded as an afterthought.

He ought to have raised the accusation before the legal battle against him got to the current stage.

As much one intends to give Senator Saraki the benefit of doubts, the multiplicity nature of the charges against him seems to be a constraint.

There was never a time in the annals of Nigeria when misdemeanours of a senate president would subject the whole senate to ridicule as the situation currently portrays.

It has got to such a messy stage that people are now calling for abolisation of senate.Those people that are advocating the option of unicameral legislative system for the country hung their proposition on ineffectiveness and wastefulness of the senators. In short, some of the antagonists of the current bicameral legislative system are of the opinion that the idea of reducing cost of governance as a matter of imperative demands such an urgent action.

Whatever the intention of the embattled senate president for the accusation, he is still going to be the loser at the end of the whole crises.

In the current circumstance, Senator Saraki seems not to have realised that he is no longer enjoying the public support and confidence by holding tenaciously to the Senate presidency despite bunch of allegations against him. If care is not taken, the 8th National Assembly as currently constituted and presided over by Bukola Saraki will be adjudged as the worst in the annals of this country.

Since the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly, the Senate has not been able to settle down properly to discharge it’s legislative roles owing to discontent which the emergence of Bukola Saraki as senate president last year has caused among members of the Senate.

Essentially, what Saraki requires for now is to be courageous and ready to bear the consequences of his past unethical deals. If he had known that he would need to seek for equity, one day, he ought not to have soiled his hands with dirty deals. Clearly, the embattled Senate president needs more than raising a counter accusation to be exonerated of corrupt charges which is currently threatening his position as senate president.

The unfolding drama during the proceedings of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is not only a proof that the Senate president is desperate to obstruct the cause of justice but it also exposes his idiosyncratic tendencies as far beyond what his counter accusations could leverage. He should have seen the handwriting on the wall that with Panama leaks and the damning revelations at the CCT, it will take only divine intervention  for him to escape conviction.

With the unfolding scenario at the sittings of the CCT, Saraki does not need a soothsayer to know that the voices calling for his resignation outweighed the population of his  sympathisers.

Given the number of legal  hurdles he needs to contend with under his  current travail, there is a reasonable ground  for anyone to conclude that Saraki’s  chance of survival is lean. It is against this background that I support the call for resignation of Senator Bukola Saraki as senate president to restore public confidence in the integrity of the Senate.If the Senate President remained adamant,the public expectation is that the distinguished senators would not shirk in its fiduciary responsibility to commence his impeachment process.

In a saner societies, the public outcry should not have reached the present magnitude before he would resign.With Saraki tenacity, we are being portrayed as a country peopled and governed by greedy, selfish and desperate characters.

By

RAHAMAN ONIKE

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

Saraki’s Aide Refuses Food From DSS

The family of the Senior Special Assistant to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Youth and Students Matters, Barr. Ikenga Ugochinyere, has said the Barrister has refused to eat in the last 3 days he has been in detention. According to them he has not accepted any food or drink from them.

In a press conference organized by his brother yesterday, he disclosed that they have also not allowed them to give him food or water, a situation he said might take a toll on his health.

 

 

 

Source – Vanguardngr.com

Court Adjourns Forgery Case Against Saraki And Ekweremadu To June 1

The case instituted against Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, challenging their election as principal officers of the Senate has again being adjourned to June 1.

The Federal High Court hearing the case in Abuja was forced to adjourn the case following the absence of four out of the six defendants in the matter.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Justice Stephen Chukwu adjourned the case following information that the four defendants were not served with hearing notice by the court bailiff.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Mamman Osuman (SAN) told Chukwu that counsel to Ekweremadu, Mr
Patrick Ikweto, could not be located for the notice to be served on him.

Osuman further told the court that findings by his legal team and from the court bailiff indicated that Ikweto had relocated from his chambers in Wuse to an unknown destination.

He said that although the court required counsel relocating office to notify courts where he had cases, Ikweto had not done so.

Mamman, however, claimed that Ikweto might have been unable to inform the court due to an oversight.

He appealed to the judge for an adjournment to enable the defendants be served with fresh hearing notices.

The judge subsequently adjourned the matter to June 1 and ordered that fresh hearing notices be served on all parties.

Justice Chukwu warned that whether the defendants were in court or not on the adjourned date, the hearing would definitely go on.

Sen. Abu Ibrahim, and four others had filed a suit claiming that the Senate standing orders used for the election of Saraki and Ekweremadu had been forged and so the election should be nullified.

They prayed the court for an order to stop them from parading themselves as leaders of the Senate and that senators should be barred from recognizing them as principal officers.

However, Saraki, in his defence said that he was returned unopposed as there was no election and no one contested the position with him.

He said that the five senators had no locus standi to come to court because there were 109 senators and the decision of only five could not override the decision of 104 others.

He added that they brought the case to court in their individual capacity and not on behalf of the Senate.

The defence added that they had not told the court what they had lost by that election since they never claimed in their suit that they had aspired to any of the positions.

The defence prayed the court to dismiss the case for lack of merit as well as non disclosure of cause of action.

Budget: Buhari, National Assembly Leaders Resolve Grey Areas

President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday night rose from a 10-minute meeting, saying all grey areas in the 2016 Budget had been resolved.

The meeting which was held inside the the First Lady’s Conference Room started at about 9.20pm and ended around 9.30pm.

Those who attended the meeting included Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun; Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila; and other leaders of the National Assembly.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang; and the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Samaila Kawu, also attended.

At the end of the meeting, Saraki told State House correspondents that the lawmakers came to inform the President and his team of the solutions they had found to the budget impasse.

Tuesday night’s meeting followed an earlier meeting between Buhari and Dogara at the Presidential Villa.

Saraki explained that both sides agreed on the way forward and assured Nigerians that the process would be completed in a matter of days.

He said, “We just finished a meeting with the President and the Vice-President. We came to let them know some of the solutions that we found in moving the budget process forward  and we are happy to say that we have agreed on the way forward.

“We believe that this process will be completed in matter of days rather than weeks.

“So it is good to Nigerians and all of us, we have found a way forward and in a matter of days, the budget will be ready for the President’s assent.”

When asked to be specific on the way forward that they arrived at, Saraki said, “We have committees that have been set up on our side and also on the Executive side.

“We will engage over the next few days to just tidy up a few loose ends and here and there and the outcome will be satisfactory to everybody.”

When also asked to be specific of the budget would be signed this week, he said, “You heard what I have said. I said it is a matter of days and not weeks. So, you can start counting the days which means that between now and Monday or Tuesday, I’m hopeful that the budget will be signed.”

Udoma also confirmed to reporters that the Executive had agreed with the Legislature to resolve all grey areas and the modalities of doing so in the next few days.

The minister said, “We have agreed to work together to resolve all issues in the next few days and we have also agreed on the modalities of or doing so.

“It was a very good meeting, very positive and within the next few days all issues will be resolved.

“We are working together, both the Executive and the Legislature, to sort those things out. Within the next days, all matters will be resolved.

Source – punchng.com

My Trial Will Not Disturb Senate Proceedings– Saraki

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has said that his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal would not interrupt Senate proceedings, a statement said in Abuja on Monday.

The statement was issued by Mr. Saraki’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu.

It said the president of the Senate spoke following the announcement of the tribunal Chairman,  Danladi Umar, that proceedings at the trial would hold daily henceforth.

“It would be recalled that at the preliminary stage of the trial, senators had always accompanied the Senate president to the tribunal each time the case came up for hearing,” the statement said.

“But Saraki said now that the trial proper has commenced and the Senate is in session, he would not want the trial to affect legislative business.

“Saraki also said ‘I am the one on trial not the Senate. Even though I have been overwhelmed by the solidarity displayed by my colleagues, it is important that the work of the Senate is not unduly affected by this process.’’

It added that the legislative body would not be affected by the absence of any of the principal officers.

Credit: NAN