Nigerian Senate move to stop FRSC’s sale of speed limit device

The Senate yesterday began moves to stop the sale of speed limit devices to vehicle owners by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).

Consequently, it mandated its committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, to look into the matter, to ensure that it did not add to the hardship currently being experienced by Nigerians and report back to it.

This is sequel to a point of order raised by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West).

Melaye said the introduction of the policy would further make life difficult for Nigerians who are already having a hard time coping with the impact of the present recessed economy.

Worried by the brewing crisis in the Niger Delta, the Senate also resolved to launch a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances leading to the funding constraints of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

It equally asked the Finance Ministry to release the balance of N15 billion left in the 2016 budget for the programme.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, the Upper Legislative Chamber equally mandated its Niger Delta committee to investigate the alleged swapping of names in the list of beneficiaries.

Also yesterday, the Senate received the report of the Joint Committees on Petroleum Upstream, Downstream and Gas on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, 2017.

Among the key aspects of the Bill is the unbundling the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to create a window for further development in the petroleum industry.

The report was presented three months behind the January deadline given by Senate President Bukola Saraki.


Source: The Guardian

Opinion: The Shame of a Diminished Senate – By Louis Odion

By describing the senators as “childish and irresponsible”, Sagay could, in fact, be accused of being too charitable. By harbouring a nest of former governors standing trial for massive theft while in office, failed contractors, certificate impostors…Nigerians who choose to view the red chamber, as presently constituted, as a den of shifty characters cannot therefore be accused of libel or hyperbole.

Increasingly obsessed with sleaze and scandals, it is unknown how many of our conniving senators still have the presence of mind today to ponder history. Those who do would perhaps have encountered the name Oliver Cromwell, the British general, who turned England into a republic and taught it puritan values.

Convinced the parliament had transmuted into the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah by the middle of the 17th century, the new lawgiver did not hesitate to dismiss the assembly. But not before he made a searing speech at the House of Commons on April 20, 1653, the echo of which must have haunted the buccaneering lawmakers for the rest of their lives.

His words: “It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

“Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
“In the name of God, go!”

Well, the perfidies and iniquities Cromwell lamented in the Long parliament in 17th century Europe would seem very much alive in Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber today, as personal interests are shamelessly camouflaged as public cause.

To be fair, even in mature democracies often held up as model for the fledgling ones, the legislative chamber is never always the best place to find angels. But elsewhere, there is always a concerted effort to hide, to conceal the dirty linen, out of respect for public sensibilities and shared commitment to preserve the corporate integrity of that space.

Certainly, nowhere is venality and rascality so glamorised as we are beginning to see in the Nigerian Senate lately. Legal titan, Professor Itse Sagay, is the latest to be dragged into the seedy arena.

Whether the Senate sticks to its guns and Sagay resorts to court is, however, not the issue. Rather, what is invariably exposed is the obsession of certain elements at the Senate to impose their own will on the nation and the ridiculous length they will travel in pursuit of a personal agenda.

The chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) on Tuesday took an unprecedented step by issuing the Senate an ultimatum to eat its words, failing which he would slap it with a suit for daring to as much as contemplate subpoenaing him over an earlier comment that the senators acted “childish and irresponsible” by refusing to screen 27 Resident Electoral Commissioners over President Buhari’s retention of Ibrahim Magu as acting head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Predictably, the law professor has meticulously outlined the futility of Senate’s plan in a statement, citing legal authorities to back his argument.

Whether the Senate sticks to its guns and Sagay resorts to court is, however, not the issue. Rather, what is invariably exposed is the obsession of certain elements at the Senate to impose their own will on the nation and the ridiculous length they will travel in pursuit of a personal agenda.

To be sure, I am sold on the imperative of the independence of both the legislature and the judiciary as the surest institutional valves against executive tyranny.

But in the present circumstance, those deploying such fine argument in defence of the ongoing Senate intransigence, however suddenly turn dumb when reminded of the underlining certainty of blackmail in the Magu blockade.

By describing the senators as “childish and irresponsible”, Sagay could, in fact, be accused of being too charitable. By harbouring a nest of former governors standing trial for massive theft while in office, failed contractors, certificate impostors, a practising bearded pedophile, a fugitive who jumped bail in London and one “drug baron” absconding from American justice, Nigerians who choose to view the red chamber, as presently constituted, as a den of shifty characters cannot therefore be accused of libel or hyperbole.

It is, therefore, more in the interests of these “suspects” that a hard-tackling Magu is prevented from continuing at the EFFC than the advertised fixation on the so-called disabling memos by the DSS. To argue otherwise is to assume all Nigerians are big fools.

Last week, Ali Ndume, the senator representing Borno South, was thrown out of the chamber based on the report of the Ethics Committee that he had raised a false alarm over the imported bullet-proof SUV belonging to Senate President Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye’s counterfeit academic claims. In short, they seemed to accuse Ndume of exaggeration. But exaggeration, as Khalib Gibran tells us, is only a truth that has lost its temper.

To be fair, among the redeemable in the red chamber are a few conscientious senators. But as the upper legislature continues to hobble from one scandal to another, they, unfortunately, are also vicariously liable and so lose respect in the eyes of the Nigerian people.

What’s more, Ndume also happened to be Magu’s only vocal advocate in the chamber. What a clever way to silence that dissent once and for all.

But without Ndume’s raising the red flag, how would we have known that an SUV imported for Saraki was cleared with forged documents? Without Sahara Reporters championing the public scrutiny of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) records, how would we have known that loquacious Dino entered the school with “incomplete” result and spent a record eight years to graduate with a pass, yet again in the most shadowy circumstances, in what would have taken even a poorly endowed student four years to finish?

And that the chain of “Harvard, Oxford degrees” he used to flaunt on social media were actually not more than glossy letters acknowledging attendance of nothing more than a week seminar?

For the temerity to impound, on the highway, the SUV meant for the use and comfort of the Senate president, our almighty senators had summoned Customs boss, Hameed Ali and, to exact a pound of flesh, thought of the harshest humiliation possible for him. He would not even be allowed a seat in the chamber until he wore the service uniform.

Again, the Senate is diminished when the other side of Lawal Babachir’s grass-cutting scam is told. Sure, the yarn spurned by the Secretary to the Federal Government to absolve himself of complicity in the contract scandal is hard to believe.

Conversely, it does our senators no good either when Babachir’s apologists squealed that the Senate chose to blow the bugle and, in fact, asked Buhari to fire the government scribe only because he had insisted it was not the job of federal lawmakers to execute constituency projects.

To be fair, among the redeemable in the red chamber are a few conscientious senators. But as the upper legislature continues to hobble from one scandal to another, they, unfortunately, are also vicariously liable and so lose respect in the eyes of the Nigerian people.

Nigeria Without Dangote?

All said, the new Lagos Refinery is a monument to vision, courage and tenacity of one man – Aliko, whose 60th birthday is, by the way, next Monday. There can’t be a better time to salute a Nigerian patriot, a truly deserving Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

Listening to Alhaji Aliko Dangote speak at a colloquium held penultimate Tuesday in Lagos to mark Asiwaju’s 65th birthday, one could again not help feeling the magnitude of the Nigerian tragedy inflicted by leadership deficit.

He did not feature in the original programme. But who is better qualified to speak authoritatively at a ceremony where entrepreneurship is broached than a person who started humbly as a merchant in his native Kano with a loan from an uncle as capital and, forty years later, is now rated the richest black man on earth?

Though impromptu, Dangote spoke with the depth and clarity of a professor. His facility with statistics is remarkable indeed. His prescriptions: entrepreneurs in Nigeria will do better with stable power supply on the one hand, and policy consistency/coherence on the other.

A doer himself, he has walked the talk in the cement sector. From being world’s second biggest importer of cement a decade ago, Dangote has helped his fatherland achieve not just self-sufficiency in the commodity but also pushed her to become a big cement exporter, thereby earning the much needed forex.

Obviously a pathfinder, Dangote has since shifted his luminous lights towards crude refining. Denied in 2007 the custody of the Port Harcourt Refinery he earlier acquired with his friend, Femi Otedola, through privatisation, Dangote thereafter chose a more tortuous path to make the loudest statement.

He is currently building from the scratch a brand new refinery already rated Africa’s biggest, with the capacity to refine a whopping 650,000 bpd and the largest single train of its kind in the world. (The combined capacity of all Nigeria’s refineries is less than 450,000 bpd with actual utilisation today at less than a miserly 10 percent, despite billions of dollars splurged on them over the years in the name of Turn-And-Maintenance.)

To pull this through, he has had to substantially tap international lenders to raise a colossal $12 billion for the project.

The good news is that, just as we no longer waste forex on cement import, Dangote Refinery located in swampy Lekki, Lagos will, beginning from 2019, ensure that Nigeria no longer wastes forex on the importation of petrol, diesel and kerosene, thereby helping to conserving at least $10 billion yearly. That way, Dangote would, at least, have helped end Nigeria’s shame by lifting the old curse of “a nation importing what it already has”.

The emerging Dangote Refinery will not only save Nigeria $10 billion annually, it will also create 250,000 fresh jobs for Nigerians.

Already, fables and gossips are fast mushrooming around the gargantuan plant currently under construction, day and night. The most widespread being that it occupies a land mass (2,200 hectares) that is six times the size of the upscale Victoria Island in Lagos.

On the mega watt alone, Aliko has, perhaps unwittingly, exposed Nigeria’s culture of waste and systemic theft. Entrepreneurs with depth and creativity, like Aliko and Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr are few.

However, my own take-away is different. To power the humongous plant, Dangote has had to build an independent power plant, just like he did for the Cement factory in Obajana, Kogi State. From records now made public, it costs him an average of $400,000 to build one mega watt. But wait for the figure often quoted by the Federal Government for the same item – $2 million!

What makes it doubly tragic is that with $400,000, Dangote delivers mega watt that brings real electricity. Nigeria squanders $2 million to generate pitch darkness.

Under Obasanjo, not less than $16 billion, according to the House of Representatives reports in 2008, was spent on power projects. A decade later, that colossal expenditure has not translated to a marked improvement in energy generation. Fifty-six years after independence, power generation still oscillates around 4,000MW.

Back in the 70s, a national committee chaired by Chief Olu Falae had projected the nation’s energy need to be 10,000 mega watts by 2000. Sadly, with a population of less than 100 million in 1988, official records indicated NEPA’s generation capacity was 4,000 mega watts.

When Obasanjo left office ten years ago, power generation had fallen to 3,000 mega watts. Ten years later, and with population now around 180 million, we are back to generating 4,000 mega watts.

However, with $16 billion, Dangote would have produced mega watts in excess of 6,000.

Is anyone still wondering why Nigeria remains poor infrastructurally today despite hundreds of billions of dollars received through oil sale and squandered in the last fifty years?

On the mega watt alone, Aliko has, perhaps unwittingly, exposed Nigeria’s culture of waste and systemic theft. Entrepreneurs with depth and creativity, like Aliko and Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr are few.

Theirs is real production and wealth-creation ultimately, not rent-seeking. In their daily grind of turning raw materials into finished good, they send a clear message that the country has no business with poverty; that much more could be attained with far less. Indeed, if any progress has been made in the national economy at all in the last decade, the credit substantially belongs to the patriotic tenacity of a few like them.

All said, the new Lagos Refinery is a monument to vision, courage and tenacity of one man – Aliko, whose 60th birthday is, by the way, next Monday. There can’t be a better time to salute a Nigerian patriot, a truly deserving Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).


Louis Odion is a Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE).

Lagos Ex-Governor, Bola Tinubu denies plot to ‘destroy’ Senate.

Former Lagos State governor, Ahmed Tinubu, has denied a news report that he is plotting to “destroy” the Senate.

Mr. Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, on Wednesday said a report by ThisDay newspaper, accusing him of conspiring with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to attack the Senate, was an “outright falsehood” and a “bald assault against truth.”

It is the second time in five weeks that Mr. Tinubu would reject a report by the newspaper.

In March, the former governor debunked a report by the newspaper that he was planning to run for president, describing it as a “manufactured tale” “masquerading as professional journalism.”

The latest story, titled: “PDP Caucus Accuses Tinubu, EFCC of Conspiracy to Destroy Senate” said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus of the Senate at its meeting last week accused Mr. Tinubu of working with the EFCC to destroy the Senate by attacking the integrity of its members.

The story, which THISDAY said came from an unnamed source at the meeting, alleged that Mr. Tinubu was acting in concert with the anti-graft agency to destroy key elements in the National Assembly in order to clear the way for his 2019 presidential ambition.

“Constant bashing and campaign of calumny launched against the Senate by a prominent national daily and a frontline television station, believed to be owned by the former governor, is an example of the on-going underground war being waged against the Senate as an institution,” the source allegedly told the newspaper.

But in a statement, signed by his spokesperson, Tunde Rahman, Mr. Tinubu said those behind the report were “practitioners of political libel,” and slammed the newspaper for publishing what it described as “a rotten lie”.

“The story is such an outright fabrication that it claims the PDP Senators held a special meeting to discuss Asiwaju Tinubu. However, PDP Senators claim no such meeting was ever held and that they hold no special animus toward Asiwaju Tinubu,” the statement read.

It added that as a former senator himself, Mr. Tinubu would not never work to tarnish the reputation of the senate.

“We are usually not in the position of agreement with PDP members. But on this rare occasion, we have no contention with them. Asiwaju Tinubu is a former Senator. He has a special affection for the Senate as an institution. It is not within him to belittle the institution or members of that institution who happen to be in the opposing political party.”

The statement said character and personal attacks are not in consonance with Mr. Tinubu’s political ideology.
“The gutter is no place to build a better nation. We seek higher ground,” the statement said.


Source: Premium Times

Senate calls for reforms in NIPOST, proposes creation of Nigerian Postal Commission.

The Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, today 5th April, 2016 at the Upper chamber of the National Assembly led the debate on a Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian Postal Service Act and to enact the Nigerian Postal Commission and other related matters 2017, which he sponsored.

He stated that the Bill when passed into law will establish the Nigerian Postal Commission whose sole purpose will be the regulation and supervision of the postal sector, facilitate investments in and entry into the Nigerian Market, introduce private sector participation in the provision of postal services, promote and protect the interest of consumers against unfair practices amongst so many other things.

Ashafa reminded his colleagues that the legislation currently guiding the affairs of NIPOST, the Nigerian Postal Service Act was promulgated over 20 years ago in 1992. He pointed out that “You may all agree that the current trends in globalisation, digital advancement in all facets of life has been on the fast lane. Thus, the need to keep up with the changing technological trend for the benefit of the nation.”

The Bill will ensure that the Nigeria Postal Service Commission has a proper and robust Legislative Framework in order to open the Commission up to providing bespoke services in line with international best practice.

While underscoring the importance of the Bill, several distinguished senators lent their voice in support of its passage. On his part, Senator Mallam Ali Wakili recalled that he had moved a motion seeking for the reform of the Nigerian Postal Service sometime in 2016. He stated that considering the vast assets base and the economic opportunities that abound in the Sector, the time had come for legislative reform.

Senators Albert Bassey and Stella Oduah also supported the Bill stating that the time had come to re-position NIPOST to meet contemporary international best practices. While Senator Dino Melaye commended the intellectual sagacity” of the sponsor of the Bill, noting that the Bill came at the right time when there seems to be a fresh burst of reforms going on at the Nigerian Postal Service by its new management.

The Bill ultimately passed through the second reading and was referred to the Senate Committee on Communications for further deliberations.

Senate calls on Health Ministry to act fast over spread of Meningitis

Worried about the recent outbreak of Meningitis, the Nigerian Senate Tuesday, 4th April, 2017 passed a resolution directing the Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control and other relevant agencies to carry out a nationwide immunization of children and adults who are susceptible to the disease of meningitis. 

The attention of the Senate was drawn to this outbreak by a motion titled “Outbreak of Meningitis. Need to Curb the Spread and stop further deaths” sponsored and moved on the floor of the upper chamber by Senator Gbenga Ashafa , representing Lagos East Senatorial District, with 16 other Senators as co-sponsors. 

The Senator expressed his worry over the outbreak of the disease, which has claimed several lives in the North especially, Zamfara Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger States and has recently spread to the Federal Capital Territory as well.

He noted that this particular disease is a new strand of meningitis and as such its vaccines are not commercially viable. 

Some of the other Senators who contributed to the debate on the floor of the Senate include Senators, Sabi Abdulahi (Niger North), Tijanni Kaura (Zamfara North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi South), Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia North), Abdulfattah Buari (Oyo North), Sam Anyanwu (Imo East) and others.

The Distinguished Senators in their contributions called on the Federal Ministry of Health to be Pro-active in tackling issues of this nature and not wait for such outbreak to happen before steps are taken to prevent same.

The Federal Government was also called upon to provide the Ministry of Health with sufficient funds to engage in Nation wide immunization of citizens against such diseases like meningitis and prevent same from ever occurring.

The Senate thereafter resolved that the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies/parastatals to work closely with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to acquire more vaccines to protect Nigerians against the spread of the disease while also advising the Nigerian Police, Prison Authorities, NEMA and IDP camps to concrete steps to prevent an outbreak of meningitis in their prisons, police cells, detention centres and IDP camps. It was also resolved that the vacinnes should be administered freely in all public health institutions.

In conclusion the President of the Senate, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki commended the steps taken so far by the Federal Ministry of Health and urged that the process of Nationwide vaccination should be expedited. He also assured that more funding would be made available to the Ministry for disease control and prevention in the 2017 Budget.

Senate Committee Meets With CDC Over Meningitis Outbreak

The Director General Center for Disease Control Chikwe Iheakweazu, has announced that reactive vaccination for meningitis is to commence in Zamfara state from Wednesday April 5.

This is in response to the meningitis outbreak which has led to the death of 328 people across the country, with Zamfara state recording the highest number of deaths.

Speaking at a meeting with the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care, Mr Iheakweazu lamented that his organization has been dealing with the problem of insufficient funds, as the agency’s 2016 budget was not sufficient to effectively handle the recent outbreak of meningitis in the country.

He asked the National Assembly to intervene in the area of providing access to vaccination for meningitis.


Source: Channels TV

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

Senate Has The Right To Summon Anyone – Mike Ozekhome

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Mike Ozekhome, has stated that the Senate has the right to summon it’s members to order at anytime.

“The Committee of the House or the House, can summon any person. it says any person, and it didn’t say some people.

“It didn’t say whether those elected or not elected. Any person; to bring papers, memos, come with evidence, and that if such a person is summoned to come and testify or to come and answer questions and he refuses to come, under Section 5, the Branch of the National Assembly can order the Police to arrest and bring such a person.”


He added that “the Senate President or the Speaker of the House of Representatives if satisfied that the person has entered into recognizance, they can release the person but if not satisfied, they can tell them to keep the person there.”

He made his position known while speaking on Channels Television’s Breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.

Mr Ozekhome’s view was however in contrast to that of his colleague, Mr Femi Falana, who believes that the Senate has no power to suspend a member even for a single day.

The lawyers made the comments while addressing the Senate’s recent suspension of one of its members, Senator Ali Ndume, for allegedly bringing the House to disrepute, as well as the investigation and summoning of some of its members.

“In matters regarding some of the distinguished Senators, the court has made definitive judicial pronouncements. No legislative House in Nigeria, can suspend a member for one single day and we have a plethora of authorities on this,” Mr Falana stressed.


Source: Channels TV

No Legislative House Has The Power To Suspend A Member – Femi Falana

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has stated that no legislative House has the power to suspend a member even for a single day.

He made the comment while addressing the Senate’s recent suspension of one of its members, Senator Ali Ndume, for allegedly bringing the House to disrepute, as well as the investigation and summoning of some of its members.

The Senate spokesman was quoted to have said that although the 1999 constitution does not exactly state that the Senate has the power to suspend a member, they have the power to do so based on the internal House rules.

In reaction to this, the senior lawyer stated that: “The Senate labours under the very erroneous impression that it can do anything, whether allowed by law or not; particularly when it purports to exercising its oversight functions.

“Allegations of crime, certificate forgery, allegations regarding under-payment of Customs duties, are criminal offences that can only be investigated by the appropriate authorities such as the Police.”

According to him, “Section 88, which the Senate always relies on, begins with the phrase: “subject to the provisions of this constitution”, which means the powers of the Police, the powers of the Auditor General of the Federation, the powers of the Attorney General of the Federation, the powers of the President, take presidence over the powers of the Senate to carry out an investigation.

“The Senate with profound respect, the House of Representatives with Profound respect, cannot investigate allegations of crime. That is within the constitutional province of the Police.

“In matters regarding some of the distinguished Senators, the court has made definitive judicial pronouncements. Take for instance, no legislative House in Nigeria, can suspend a member for one single day and we have a plethora of authorities on this,” he stressed.

Recalling a similar situation that occurred in 2010, Mr Falana said: “As a member of the House of Representatives, Senator Dino Melaye and 10 others, out of frustration, submitted a petition to the EFCC, alleging criminal diversion of funds by the Dimeji Bnakole-led leadership of the House.”

According to him, the Senators had claimed that the House had been terrorized and scandalized and despite the advice given by lawyers to allow the law take its course, as a petition had been sent to the appropriate agency of government, they still refused to take their hands off the case.

“Dino Melaye and 10 others were suspended indefinitely. I went to court for them and the court said: “Under your own rules, you cannot suspend a member for more than 14 days – Under what law did you suspend these 11 members of the House of Representatives for an indefinitely period of time?”

Mr Falana said subsequently, the court ordered an immediate reversal as well as the reinstatement of the senators.

He gave another instance involving the indefinite suspension of a member of the Bauchi House in 2012.

According to him, she was the only female and Christian in the House, consisting of 31 members and her suspension came as a result of a contribution she made, which the men considered as an ‘infra dignitatem’.

The case was however raised in court after a letter written to the House was ignored and the law was properly examined by the High court as well as the court of Appeal.

“Relevant constitutional provisions were now determined by the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal ruled that no legislative House has the power to suspend a member even for a single day,” he stated.


Source: Channels TV

Group gives senate 48 hours to rescind Ali Ndume’s suspension

Some constituents of Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south, have protested against the decision of the upper legislative chamber to suspend him.

This is just as a group called the Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER) issued a 48-hour ultimatum to rescind the suspension or face legal action.

On Wednesday, the upper legislative asked Ndume to stay off the red chamber for six months to serve as a disciplinary measure for “embarrassing” Bukola Saraki, senate president, and Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi west.

Ndume had moved the motion for the probe of Saraki, who was accused of importing a vehicle with fake customs documents and Melaye, alleged to have forged his first degree certificate from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

The senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions had cleared Saraki and Melaye.

On Thursday, youth in Biu local government area staged a solidarity protest, saying the country had been held to ransom by a few people.

Junaid Maiva, one of the protesters, challenge President Muhammadu Buhari to take charge and not allow people make him “look helpless”.

“I am still wondering how some few individuals would hold Nigeria to ransom and it seems the president is helpless,” Maiva said.

“Mr President must now interfere with the affair of the senate. His I don’t care attitude towards the affairs of the senate is what is responsible for this.”

Buba Ten-Ten, another youth, described Ndume’s suspension as the height of injustice.

He expressed worry that Melaye had not be suspended his actions on the floor of the senate.

“Nigeria and the world are watching this. These set of people holding Nigeria to ransom should know that they have only 17 months left,” he said.

“We are yet to know how Ndume went wrong. What is his crime? The senate ethics committee did not suspend Dino who harassed his co-colleague on the floor of the house. They did not also suspend him for calling our senator a Boko Haram sponsor.

“This is the height of injustice, we therefore call on President Buhari to stand up and defend our senator who has done nothing wrong. The north-east is suffering from the strangulating insurgency and our only hope who has stood firmly to defend his people is Senator Ndume. We say no to this madness.”

On his part, Muhammad Midala, said though he was not celebrating Ndume’s suspension, this development should serve as a lesson.

“I have always told him the truth but he feels we don’t know anything. In 2011, my life was threatened over my support for Ndume. They even offered me N15 million when I was his political associate but I refused,” he said

“After his election he made me to write a list of some physically-challenged persons from our constituency but he refused to help them. Now see what is happening to him. I am not celebrating, but this should serve as a lesson to him.”


Source: The Cable

Nigerian Senate amends Electoral Act to allow for electronic voting

Nigeria now comes close to using electoral voting system in the conduct of elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, after the country’s Senate amended the Electoral Act on Thursday.

The amendment followed the adoption of the report of the alteration of the existing electoral law, Electoral Act 2010, by of the Senate committee on INEC, and subsequently, the passage of the amendment bill for third reading.

The report on the amendment was presented by Abubakar Kyari, APC-Borno, who stood in for the chairman of the INEC committee, Ali Ndume, APC-Borno, who is on a six-month suspension.

Mr. Kyari, now chairman of the defence committee, is the former chairman of the INEC committee who led most of the work on the amendment process before he was replaced by Mr. Ndume in February.

It took long deliberation before the report was adopted for third reading.

“We have introduced electronic voting through any technology INEC deems fit,” said Mr. Kyari, speaking after the bill scaled through.

The Senate also legalized the use smart card reader and “any technological device” for accreditation.

Card reader was deployed for 2015 general elections, but the Supreme Court, in its rulings on Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom State governorship elections, faulted the use.

Although INEC continued to use card readers to accredit voters in rerun elections that followed 2015 general polls as part of its guidelines, this is the first time the technology would be given legal backing.

The Senate also moved to give statutory backing to INEC’s newly unveiled electronic result and transmission system with the aim of eliminating manual collation of results in Nigeria’s electoral process.

Senate does not have the powers to ‘summon’ Sagay — SERAP

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the leadership of the Senate to “immediately withdraw the unwarranted and unconstitutional ‘summon’” for Itse Sagay, chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption to appear before the Senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions for reportedly describing the body as “childish and irresponsible” and one “filled by people of questionable character”

SERAP in a statement Thursday signed by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said, “the Senate’s decision to summon Professor Sagay simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression is arbitrary, a travesty, mala-fide, and cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

The statement read in part: “The Senate is not immune from constitutional control simply because it’s a law-making body. In fact, the Senate has neither special immunity from the operation of the constitution nor special privilege to invade the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to freedom of expression of Professor Sagay or other citizens for that matter.”

“The framers of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) would never have contemplated a legislative power without responsibility, and the Senate can’t continue to carry on in a manner that implies its law-making and oversight powers are not open to question. Therefore, its powers under the constitution ought to be exercised reasonably and responsibly, consistent with the fundamental notions of peace, order, good governance and the public interest.”

“The human rights of Nigerians are secured against not only executive lawlessness but also legislative excesses. To trample on citizens’ freedom of expression is to thwart the ideals of representative democracy and the rule of law.”

Mr. Sagay’s comment was a reaction to the Senate’s refusal to proceed with confirmation of 27 persons President Muhammadu Buhari nominated as Resident Electoral Commissioners.

The lawmakers stopped the confirmation in protest against the refusal of the President to sack Ibrahim Magu as acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission despite his repeated rejection by the Senate.

SERAP said, “The National Assembly is constitutionally empowered to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Nigeria but recent events in the Senate would seem to stir the public anger. It seems curious that the Senate will be giving a raw deal to the heads of the two leading anti-corruption bodies in the country—Ibrahim Magu of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Itse Sagay of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.”

“All public institutions and figures are legitimately subject to criticism and political opposition. The Senate in particular and the National Assembly as a whole would do well to respect the inherent rights of Nigerians that are so fundamental to our constitutional structure. Democracy, constitutional supremacy, and the rule of law require no less. Indeed, no principle is more basic to any proper system of law than the maintenance of the rule of law itself”.


Source: Premium Times

Argentine senate votes to legalise Marijuana

Argentina’s senate has voted unanimously to legalise medical marijuana, joining the lower house and setting the country on course to become the latest to relax its laws on pot.

President Mauricio Macri is all but certain to sign the bill, which garnered an unusual level of cross-party support and was applauded by patients and their families.

A group of mothers with sick children burst into tearful applause in the senate as lawmakers voted 58-0 to pass the bill.

“This is a dream fulfilled, an immense happiness because it will bring solace to patients,” said Maria Laura Alasi, whose four-year-old daughter Josefina suffers from West syndrome, a form of epilepsy that causes her to have dozens of seizures a day.

The new law lifts a ban on importing cannabis oil and allows Argentines to buy it with a prescription.

It stops short of allowing home-grown marijuana, something young patients’ families had demanded.

“I have faith the senators will find a way around that,” said Alasi. “A lot of mothers are already growing their own.”

Latin America has seen a major political shift on pot in recent years.

In 2013, Argentina’s neighbor Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalise marijuana at every stage of production, sale and consumption — though users must be registered.

Colombia, Chile and Mexico have all legalised the cultivation and use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes.


Source: The Cable

“You have no powers to summon me”, Itse Sagay fires back at Senate.

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Itse Sagay, has fired blistering remarks at Nigerian Senators after they summoned him for reportedly describing the Senate as ‘childish and irresponsible’ and one ‘filled by people of questionable character’.

Mr. Sagay spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, after the Senate resolved to summon him to appear before its committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions over comments credited to him by Punch Newspaper.

“They have no power or authority to summon me,” Mr. Sagay, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and law professor, said. “I am not in the category of persons they can summon.”

Mr. Sagay’s comment in the Punch was a reaction to the Senate’s refusal to proceed with confirmation of 27 persons President Muhammadu Buhari nominated as Resident Electoral Commissioners. The lawmakers stopped the confirmation in protest against the refusal of the President to sack Ibrahim Magu as acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission despite his repeated rejection by the Senate

The Senate, Tuesday, suspended the confirmation process for two weeks within which they demanded Mr. Magu’s sack.

But Mr. Sagay was reported by Punch on Wednesday to have said: “That action is childish and irresponsible. Do they think Buhari is a man that can easily be threatened? My God! How can people of such character occupy the highest legislative office in the country? Nigeria is finished.

“It is a great mistake and they will regret it.”

The Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na’Allah, on Wednesday read Mr. Sagay’s comment to his colleagues who subsequently resolved to summon the senior lawyer to appear before the committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions to explain his statement.

In reaction to the Senate’s decision to summon him, Mr. Sagay told PREMIUM TIMES the resolution was unconstitutional.

“They ought to know that I do not come within the category of persons they can summon,” said Mr. Sagay.

“I would advise them to tell their lawyers to check the Sections 89 and 89 of the Constitution. Through that, they will know I don’t come within that category.”

“They don’t have authority to summon me. I am outside the group of persons they can summon. I am not a civil servant, I don’t belong to any commission or any…”

The parts of the Constitution cited by Mr. Sagay empowers the Senate or House of Representatives to direct investigation into the conduct of affairs of ‘any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly.’

Then, the law further provides that such shall only be exercised by the National Assembly for the purpose of making laws ‘within its legislative competence’; amending laws; and exposing “corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated for it.”

Then, Section 89 establishes ways by which the National Assembly can enforce Section 88 paraphrased above.

Asked if his work as the chairman of the presidential anti-graft committee does not fall within the category mentioned in the Section 88 of the Constitution, Mr. Sagay said, “That’s why I said they should look at the Constitution. My work comes totally outside of their power.

“I’m not going to give those details now; but if they are foolish enough to insist on my coming, at the appropriate time and at appropriate venue, all the details will come out

“But now let just make general statement: they have no power or authority to summon me. Period!”


Source: Premium Times

After suspending Ali Ndume, Senate moves to investigate Professor Itse Sagay.

The Nigerian Senate has directed its Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate remarks allegedly made by the chairman Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay.

Raising a point of order on the floor, Deputy Senate leader, Bala Ibn’Allah, drew the attention of lawmakers to a report in a newspaper publication, where Professor Sagay was allegedly quoted as saying that the Senate is filled with people of questionable character.

Senator Ibn’Nallah maintained that Senators do not have questionable characters and therefore asked the Senate to summon Professor Sagay to name those who he feels have questionable characters in the Senate.

The Senate consequently referred the matter to its Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate and report back to the Upper Chamber.


Source: Channels TV

UPDATE: Senate suspends Senator Ali Ndume for 6 months.

Senator Ali Ndume has just been suspended for 6 months by the Senate over Senator Dino Melaye’s certificate & Senate President Saraki’s SUV allegations

The Committee made the recommendation after its investigation on the certificate scandal of Senator Dino Melaye and the bulletproof scandal of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

It said Ndume did not perform due diligence when he raised the allegations on the floor of the Senate last week.

The committee gave the following recommendations:

1. Suspend Senator Ali Ndume and notes that dilligence should be the watchword.

2. The Suspension starts today, 29th Match, 2017 to last for 191 Legislative days.

3. The signed report is laid before the DSP.

BREAKING: Senate To Suspend Senator Ali Ndume Over Saraki, Dino Allegations.

The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Wednesday recommended the suspension of a former Senate Leader for 181 legislative days.

This is contained in the Committee’s report laid before the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

The Committee made the recommendation after its investigation on the certificate scandal of Senator Dino Melaye and the bulletproof scandal of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. It said Ndume did not perform due diligence when he raised the allegations on the floor of the Senate last week.


Source: YNaija

Hameed Ali’s uniform controversy is a mere distraction, not the main issue – Dogara

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday described the face-off between the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, and the Senate as a “mere distraction.”

Mr. Dogara, who stated this when he hosted newspaper editors in his office in Abuja, said the uniform is not supposed to be the main issue.

“The main issue is delivery,” he said, suggesting that Mr. Ali’s performance in office should be the focus.

The senate last week called for the resignation of Mr. Ali, saying he was unfit to hold any public office.

The senate’s decision followed Mr. Ali’s refusal to appear before the lawmakers in full customs uniform. A week before then, the lawmakers had turned Mr. Ali back after he appeared before them, but without the Customs uniform.

Mr. Ali’s problem with the senate started with a controversial customs policy on retroactive payment of duties on imported cars. Following the senate’s condemnation of the policy, the customs reversed it. But the lawmakers insisted Mr. Ali, a retired army colonel, appear before them.

The customs chief refused saying the matter was in court – filed by a private citizen – and there was a directive by the attorney general that both parties maintain the current status.

In its resolution last week, the Senate said it would ask the House of Representatives to concur with its decision.

On Tuesday, Mr. Dogara said the decision of the House of Representatives on the matter can only be decided at the plenary.

“I can’t speak for the House; the House will have to speak for itself through a resolution of the House.

“I cannot pre-judge what the outcome of the debate will be,” he said.

Mr. Dogara, however, said the Senate and House work closely as is necessary in a bicameral legislature.

He said Nigerians and the media should focus more on what the law states on the uniform controversy rather than on the stance of the Senate or Mr. Ali.


Source: Premium Times

President Buhari picks new ministers

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent names of two new ministerial nominees to the senate for confirmation.

Quoting a source, NAN said the letter which contained the names of the nominees from Kogi and Gombe states  arrived the senate late Tuesday.

The Kogi nominee will be replacing James Ocholi, the late minister of state for labour, while the one from Gombe would replace Amina Mohammed, former minister for environment, who is the current United Nations deputy secretary- general.

Buhari sent the list at a time when the senate is unhappy with the executive.

The upper legislative chamber halted the screening of resident electoral commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as requested by Buhari.

The senate shifted the exercise by two weeks, citing what it termed disregard for its proceedings as reason.

The lawmakers berated the president for appearing to be doing nothing about their rejection of Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the EFCC.


Source: NAN

BREAKING: Senate admits buying bulletproof SUV but not at N298 Million

The Senate on Tuesday admitted that it bought a bulletproof Range Rover sports utility vehicle (SUV) as had been reported in the media.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity Sen. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi told newsmen in Abuja that indeed the senate procured the said vehicle but not at the price that was being reported.

Sabi said that the vehicle cost was procured at $298,000 (N49.1 million) and not N298, million as was being reported in the media.

“Our attention has been drawn to the various false and mischievous reports in the media about the price of the vehicle which the Senate was said to have bought as part of its convoy but was later abandoned when it got impounded by the Customs over the controversy surrounding import duty payment.

“The correct price of the vehicle when it was imported in 2015 is $298,000 which at the prevailing rate of N165 to a dollar is about N49, 170.

“The Senate paid N62.5m for the vehicle in November 2015. This is contrary to the mischief by those who decided to turn the $298,000 to N298 million as the price of the vehicle.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the price the Senate paid for that vehicle is N62.5m and not N298 million.

“The Senate will appreciate it if all reports relating to the legislative institution, particularly on this vehicle matter, are reported with accuracy and all facts put in proper perspective.

“We urge journalists to avoid sensationalism. The Senate is a responsible institution and those who believe that when they have issues to explain before it, the next thing to do is to resort to falsehood, blackmail, muck-raking and mud-slinging, should know that they are just overheating the polity and undermining our democratic institution.

“Finally, the Senate wish to reiterate our total commitment to upholding the rule of law and to work for Nigerians, in accordance with our constitution,” he said.

The Senate had been in the eye of the storm over its probe of the activities of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) with media reports alleging that the upper legislative chamber was on a revenge mission.

Media reports alleged that attention of the Senate on the NSC was due to the fact that the service impounded an SUV allegedly procured by the President of the Senate Bukola Saraki.

The report said that the service refused to bulge in spite of the intervention of the Senate to release the SUV.

Meanwhile, at an investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, the importer of the vehicle absolved Saraki of any complicity in the importation.

The President of the Senate who also appeared before the committee stressed that he did not import any vehicle and does not own the vehicle that was purportedly seized.

He urged that the Senate as an institution must be strengthened so as to save the nation’s democracy.


Source: NAN

Senator Dino Melaye petitions DSS against Omoyele Sowore.

Dino Melaye, a senator from Kogi west, has petitioned the Department of State Services (DSS) against Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, alleging “cyberstalking”.

According to the Cybercrimes Act, 2015, any person found guilty of cyberstalking is liable to pay a fine of not more than N7 million or imprisonment for a term of not more than three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Sahara Reporters had run a series of reports in which it alleged that Melaye did not graduate from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria.

But on Monday, Ibrahim Garba, vice-chancellor (VC) of the university, told the senate committee on ethics and privileges, which is investigating the allegation, that the lawmaker graduated from the institution.

“From the records, distinguished senator Dino Melaye graduated as Daniel Jonah Melaye during the 3rd semester with a 3rd class degree,” he had said.

But even after the testimony of the VC, Sowore insisted that the lawmaker did not graduate.

“We knew and tweeted since last week that the VC rushed to the Geography Department to ask for records, and when he was told that the full records of the Department could not sustain a public claim that Melaye graduated, he cherry picked the 400 Level “3rd Semester” results,” Sowore had said.

“In that results (record), Dino (formerly known as Daniel Jonah Melaye) and his former HOD David Okoro Ogbonna connived to get him graduated (discharged) after “clearing” carry overs courses he never wrote. Those were Mr. VC’s “available records” to make his declaration before the Nigerian Senate today.

“However, the authentic records in our possession shows that Melaye couldn’t have graduated, he did not fulfill some core course requirements of which, for example, “Geog 307 (Long Field Trip)” handled by one Dr. Bello had to be met. I studied Geography and Planning at UNILAG, it was a compulsory course, and my colleagues and I did ours in Benue State.

“Daniel Jonah Melaye never fulfilled this core requirement, and further, several other carryovers were directly fixed for him by Ogbonna and some unscrupulous lecturers.”

Melaye had also filed a N5bn libel suit against Sahara Reporters and its publisher at a federal capital territory (FCT) high court in Abuja.

In the petition dated 24 March, Melaye accused Sahara Reporters of libel.

“Sometime this month (March 2017), the above listed individuals and organisations caused certain false and vexatious information to be sent by means of electronic communications, computer systems and network against my person that I did not graduate from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria,” he alleged.


Source: The Cable

BREAKING: Senate halts confirmation of REC nominees over Buhari’s inaction on Magu

The Nigeria’s Senate has stood down the confirmation of nominees for positions of Resident Electoral Commissioners, after expressing misgivings about President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sack Ibrahim Magu as acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission despite his repeated rejection by the lawmakers.

The Senators also accused nominees of the President of disrespecting the National Assembly.

The Senate therefore resolved to suspend the confirmation in protest.

President Buhari had last week nominated 27 persons for appointment as Resident Electoral Commissioners of INEC.

The senate therefore shifted screening, which was supposed to begin on Tuesday, by two weeks.

2016 Budget to expire May, not March — Senate

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday said the 2016 budget would run for 12 months and, therefore, expire on May 5 2017.

President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the budget on May 6, 2016, after a long delay amid allegations of budget padding and fraud.

According to the chairman of the Senate committee on appropriations, Danjuma Goje, the law backing the 2016 budget, 2016 Appropriations Act, provides that the budget shall run for 12 months, starting from the date it was promulgated.

“As far as the Bill that was signed into law by Mr. President is concerned, there will be no mop up on 31st March 2017 since the validity period for the 2016 budget ends midnight May 5th, 2017, ” said Mr. Goje.

“If that is done, it will be a violation of the Act. We carefully created the clause that made provision for May 5, 2017. The Act says that the 2016 budget will run for 12 months starting from the date the bill was assented to and it was assented to on May 6th 2016.”

The lawmaker assured that before expiration of the 2016 budget, the National Assembly would have passed the 2017 budget proposal by Mr. Buhari.

“It is necessary for Nigerians to know that there should be no anxiety about mopping up of funds by March 31,” he said. “We do not have to extend the 2016 budget. If May comes and there is need to extend, then we can do otherwise. I believe before that date the 2017 budget must have been passed. We don’t have to do any extension because we have taken care of that. Therefore no anxiety, no mopping up of funds before 12 months period.”

The 2017 budget process is still at committee level, after which the appropriations committees of the House and the Senate will report to their respective Chambers before passage and transmission to the president for assent.


Source: Premium Times

Dino Melaye attends plenary at the National Assembly wearing an academic gown

It was a dramatic but funny turn of events at the plenary of the Nigerian Senate when embattled senator, Dino Melaye showed up in the National Assembly complex dressed in an academic gown.

Recall that Dino has been in a long battle with media organization, Sahara Reporters over alleged irregularities in his university credentials.

Mr Dino who appeared before Senate ethics committee investigating allegations over his certificate scandal on Monday told the committee that he is a graduate of ABU, Zaria although he is yet to collect his certificate from the institution.

He further went to state that he intends to collect the certificate when he visits the institution on Friday.

The Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was also summoned by the Senate ethics committee. Prof. Ibrahim Garba told the committee that from record, Dino Melaye graduated with a third class degree.

The institution’s VC, Prof. Ibrahim Garba told the committee that from records, Dino Melaye graduated with a Third-Class degree in Geography.

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

UPDATE: I graduated from ABU but I’m yet to collect my certificate – Dino Melaye

The Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, is now at the National Assembly for the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition hearing investigating the certificate scandal involving Kogi State senator, Dino Melaye.

Senator Dino Melaye is appearing before Senate ethics committee investigating allegations over his certificate scandal.

Senator Melaye told the committee that he is a graduate of ABU, Zaria although he is yet to collect his certificate from the institution.

He further went to state that he intends to collect the certificate when he visits the institution on Friday.


More to come….

BREAKING: ABU VC arrives Senate for Dino Melaye’s certificate hearing

The Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, is now at the National Assembly for the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition hearing investigating the certificate scandal involving Kogi State senator, Dino Melaye.

The Senate had last week tasked the committee chaired by Samuel Anyanwu, PDP-Imo, to investigate the allegation that Mr. Melaye, APC-Kogi, did not graduate from ABU as he claims in official documentations.

That Senate’s resolution followed a motion by former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who said the scandal had made the Senate subject of public ridicule.

Mr. Melaye claims eight degrees, including two from Harvard University and London School of Economics and Political Science, but Sahara Reporters reported how the two schools debunked the Senator’s claims.

Mr. Melaye is also present at the hearing currently underway.

The ABU had turned down earlier media inquiries to confirm whether Mr. Melaye graduated from the school.

Senate VS Customs: Lawmakers begin probe of alleged 4 Trillion Naira leakage

The Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, has commenced investigation into over N4trillion revenue leakage in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) between 2006 and 2016.

Chairman of the committee, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, told newsmen in Abuja that his committee would stop at nothing in recovering the money.

Preliminary investigation by the committee, he said, revealed that the N4trillion leakage was as a result of various forms of infractions including abuse and non-implementation of Form M (foreign exchange form).

He noted that other factors that may have been responsible for the leakage could have been wrong classification of cargo under harmonized system codes, non-screening of cargoes coming into the country and lack of adequate ICT infrastructure for revenue collection.

Uzodinma said that cancellation of pre-arrival assessment reports, abandonment of single goods declaration may also have been responsible for the leakage.

He said, “The Senate Committee on Customs has condemned the inability of the technical committee on the implementation of comprehensive import supervision scheme to ensure that the provisions of the Act are followed to the letter.

“The committee frowns at the quantum of revenue losses and it will stop at nothing in ensuring that those involved in this ugly act would return all recoverable monies with them.

“The committee also frowns at the level of collusion and corruption within the Customs Service.

“At the end of our current investigation, all these will become a thing of the past and customs revenue will be enhanced and non-oil revenue will be improved upon.

“What we are investigating is not money spent. It is the leakages.

“For instance, I am supposed to pay XYZ amount of duty, I will abandon the documentation, go get fake documents, collude with customs, pay maybe a fraction of it and carry my goods. With that, the true import circle is not closed.

“Another instance is that assessment is abandoned, or I fill the form M for example with a pro forma invoice, apply for foreign exchange in Central Bank, XYZ amount of money is allocated to me, money moves in but no goods shipped.

“I will then go get fake documents, collude with customs and then retire the allocation.”

According to him, his committee had started investigating activities of companies and banks indicted in the matter.

He said, “We will not mention the companies involved because we are also very careful of the integrity and public perception of some of these companies, being that some of them are in the Stock Market.

“We will be diplomatic in carrying out this investigation. This is to the extent that little or no damage will be done to the integrity and image of such companies provided that government revenues in their hands will be recovered.

“I am sure that the executive arm of government will be willing and interested to ensure that the monies that are littered here and there are recovered.

“If they can pay up to five per cent to whistle blowers to recover money, it means in this case where no money is required or whistleblower required, they will be interested to do justice.

“Having gone through the legislations and books available to my office as it has to do with the administration of the customs service, it only implements policies made by the Ministry of Finance.

“So, it sounds very strange to hear that Customs gets up and says they are making a policy. That is what I am yet to understand and there is no way to fathom that before the law.

“The referral is already before us. I was waiting for him to appear before the senate before we commence a full blown investigation into some of those issues that have been referred to us.

“Concerning the suspended policy on payment of customs duties on old vehicles, the committee will continue to interface with the service to ensure that the policy is cancelled not suspended.

“The whole idea is about governance and governance is about the people and nobody is licenced or entitled to talk about the people more than the elected representatives.

“So in my view there is no hullaballoo. We will discuss with them and wise reasoning will prevail,” he said.


Source: Daily Post

Senate to summon ABU authorities over Dino Melaye’s certificate scandal

The Senate will this week summon authorities of the Ahmadu Bello University to clear the air on the certificate scandal rocking the senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye, The Punch reports.

A source who spoke on the matter said, “The Senate is inviting the authorities of the Universities Dino Melaye said he attended. Specifically, the Senate is inviting Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) to clear the controversy. The truth will be cleared by ABU this week. All the allegations are rubbish, ABU will not offer anybody admission with three credits.”


Source: YNaija

Reps committee invites Emefiele, Kachikwu.

The House of Representatives on Thursday invited the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu to appear before it on Monday, April 7.

The House ad hoc Committee on the Review of Petroleum Pump Price, which issued the summons, said the two were to explain issues over alleged diversion of foreign exchange by some oil marketers between 2016 and 2017.

Also invited are Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ibas, Chief Executive Officers of Keystone Bank and Zenith Bank, which were involved in the allocation of foreign exchange to oil marketers.

The chairman of the Committee, Nnanna Igbokwe, urged the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to determine the whereabouts of Andrew Alagu, the managing director of HAR Petroleum Resources Ltd, by March 27.

“The invitation is to determine the involvement of the company in alleged diversion of 26 million dollars for importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) under the Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),’’ Mr. Igbokwe said.

He said the committee disregarded a letter from HAR Petroleum Resources Ltd absolving itself from engaging in importing the product and could not have sourced for and accessed foreign exchange from CBN.

According to Mr. Igbokwe, documents provided by Crude Oil Marketing Department of the NNPC confirm the company’s participation in the business.

“We have it on good authority that in 2014, your company applied and got over 11 million dollars, and in 2015, it got another forex of over 14 million dollars from Zenith Bank for the importation of petroleum products into this country.

“And you now deny ever engaging in product importation or any of such transactions with the NNPC retail outfits.

“Where did the 26 million dollars you took in forex from the bank according to CBN records go to?” Mr. Igbokwe asked the company’s representative, Jefferson Ogunma.

Mr. Ogunma said Mr. Alagu was away on official assignment outside the country and added that the company only handled logistical activities on behalf of Total Nigeria plc.


Source: NAN

Breaking: Buhari nominates INEC RECs for Senate confirmation

President Muhammadu Buhari has forwarded the names of 28 nominees for confirmation as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Buhari made the nomination in a letter read by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at plenary today.

The nominations followed the expiration of the tenures of RECs in 28 states.

Why is senate leadership always associated with forgery, fraud? – Femi Falana

Human rights lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has wondered why the leadership of the Nigerian senate is always associated with claims of fraud and forgery.

Falana on Wednesday said there were many open-ended questions regarding the sport utility vehicle (SUV) of senate president, Bukola Saraki, which was seized by the customs over forged documents.

Although Saraki’s spokesperson had said the issue was between the vehicle’s supplier and the customs, Falana said it may have motivated the senate’s insistence that Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of customs, wears uniform before addressing the red chamber.

“The statement credited to the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki is not a denial of the criminal allegation but an attempt to pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians,” said Falana.

“Even If we accept the explanation it means that the Senate leadership bought a vehicle that was imported to the country with forged documents.

“That has confirmed that the planned humiliation of the customs boss was borne out of vengeance. So it is no longer a case of individual liability but that of institutional criminal negligence.

“These guys have to invent more lies because the limousine was not budgeted for by the National Assembly.

“Or is it another case of padding of the budget? Why is the leadership always associated with forgery and fraud? Did the senate leader not distance himself from the controversial vehicle? So why did the leader of the senate allow the matter to be investigated by the ethics committee of the upper chamber if he was planning to wash off his hands like Pontius Pilate?” he asked.

Falana added that, “Since there are many unanswered questions, the Nigeria Customs Service should go ahead and get to the root of the criminality with a view to prosecuting the culprits”.

Tokunboh Akindele, the car dealer whom the senate contracted to supply the bullet-proof SUV, on Wednesday said Saraki was not involved in the transaction.

Akindele also said he did not know the customs documents issued to him were forged.


Source: The Cable

BREAKING: “Resign Now”, Senate tells Customs boss Hameed Ali

The Senate has called for the resignation of the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali.

The lawmakers said on Wednesday that Mr. Ali was not fit to hold public office.

The call follows Mr. Ali’s decision not to appear before the lawmakers in uniform on Wednesday as directed by the Senate.

The Customs boss told reporters on Tuesday that his decision not to appear was based on legal advice after a Nigerian filed a case in court seeking the interpretation of a Customs law on uniform for the Comptroller-General.

The Senate on Wednesday rejected the letter by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, asking the lawmakers to suspend discussion on Mr. Ali.

Mr. Malami’s letter was read by the Clerk to the Senate at the plenary on Wednesday, just as the lawmakers dissolved into committee of the whole to receive briefing from Mr. Ali.

Mr. Ali and the lawmakers have been at loggerheads over a Customs policy on retrospective payment of customs duty on vehicles.

Although the Customs Service has since suspended the directive, the lawmakers still insisted Mr. Ali appears before them in uniform. The retired army colonel has not worn the Customs uniform since he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Source: Premium Times

Senate continues probe of SGF, tells him to appear Wednesday.

The senate ad hoc committee on the “mounting humanitarian” crisis in the north-east, has issued a fresh summon to Babachir Lawal, secretary to government of the federation (SGF), to appear before it on Wednesday March 22.

This was contained in a letter signed by Shehu Sani, chairman of the committee, and addressed to the SGF

According to the letter, Lawal is expected to appear as part of the ongoing investigation into claims that funds earmarked for humanitarian crisis in the north-east were mismanaged.

“The senate at its sitting on 4th October, 2016, debated on a motion “mounting humanitarian crisis in the north east” after which an ad-hoc committee was constituted,” the letter read.

“The committee was to conduct a public hearing in order to ascertain how much has been released to the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) and also to ascertain how these funds have been utilized from inception to date.

“The committee was also expected to investigate the diversion of grains and other food items from the Strategic Grain Reserves, NEMA and other sources for the IDPs.

“Consequently, the committee held a three day public hearing between December 6 and December 8 2016, even though some of the invited stakeholders refused to attend.”

In January, President Muhammadu Buhari had written to the senate in defense of Lawal.

Consequent upon that, Senate President Bukola Saraki mandated the committee to carry out a fresh public hearing and invite relevant stakeholders, including the SGF to defend themselves.


Source: The Cable

Nigerian Senate dragged to court over Hameed Ali uniform controversy

An Abuja-based lawyer has approached a federal high court in Abuja, seeking an order to restrain the national assembly from compelling Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) from wearing uniform.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mohammed Ibrahim, the plaintiff in the suit, made copies of the process available on Tuesday.

The suit listed other defendants to include the Comptroller-General of NCS, the NCS, the Senate and the attorney-general of the federation (AGF).

The plaintiff is seeking a declaration of the court that the oversight functions of the national assembly did not extend to compelling, mandating and enforcing the first defendant to wear uniform before performing his duties.

He is also seeking the court to declare that the first defendant, who is not a commissioned officer of the NCS, is not mandated by law to wear the service’s uniform.

Ibrahim further asked the court to declare if Ali’s appointment made pursuant to sections 5 and 171 of the constitution could be subjected to the provision of customs and excise management act or any other law.

The plaintiff, therefore, urged the court to decide whether the first defendant’s appointment, having been made pursuant to the provisions of the constitution, could be subjected to the provisions of other laws.

He also asked the court to explain whether there was any legal provision that prescribed the wearing of uniform as a condition precedent by the first defendant in view of his appointment under section 171 of the constitution.

He asked the court to decide whether the first defendant, not being commissioned custom officer, could be mandated to wear the service’s uniform for the performance of the duties of comptroller-general.

The plaintiff further urged the court to decide whether every directive or power hitherto exercised by the first defendant while not in uniform was null and void.

Ibrahim had also asked the court to decide whether, in view of section 88 (1) of the constitution, the senate could summon the first defendant having not published a resolution to that effect.

NAN reports that the defendants are mandated to, within 30 days after service of the originating summons on them appear in court.


Source: NAN

“I will not appear before Senate on Wednesday”, declares Hameed Ali.

Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC), says he will not appear before the senate on Wednesday.

The CG has been having a running battle with the upper legislative chamber over its policy on retroactive collection of import duty on cars as well as his refusal to wear the uniform of the CG.

He was turned back last week by the senators for failing to wear the uniform.

After observing his prayers at the presidential villa mosque on Tuesday afternoon, he told journalists: “?The case is in court already. Somebody has sued us. It is subjudice. I have gotten my writ of summons and they said status quo should remain ante which means nothing moves until the court makes a pronouncement. ??

“A private individual sued all of us, he wants an interpretation of the section that is in contention. I don’t want to talk so that I am not held in contempt of court.”

He then rushed out of the villa on foot using the security gate used by service chiefs.?


Source: The Cable

Bill to abolish tribal marks passes second reading in Senate

A Bill for an Act to provide for the Prohibition of Facial Mutilation, Offences, Prosecution and Punishment of Offenders on Tuesday passed second reading in the Senate.

The Bill is also for the Protection of victims under threat of facial mutilation and other related Matters.

Sen. Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi), who sponsored the bill, said that there was no doubt that Africans of old used tribal marks as a means of proper identification.

Leading debate on the bill, Melaye said in those days, members of the same village, tribe or lineage had the same tribal marks.

Melaye said that the hometown and lineage of a child or anyone with tribal marks were immediately identified, while outsiders who did not have such marks were also spotted.

He further explained that parents also used tribal marks to lay credence to the legitimacy of their children.

However, the lawmaker said “all these reasons cannot be scientifically proven, and hence cannot enjoy the support for this harmful practice’’.

“The irony of these marks is that it makes victims subjects of mockery by friends. Imagine someone being called a tiger simply because of the thick cheeks resulting from facial marks.

“ These people have been subjected to different reactions. Some have lamented the marks that are bequeathed on them as generational inheritance.

“ Many have cursed the day which this dastardly act was performed on them.

“Many of the grown adults have confessed that the most terrific debacle of their lives is their tribal marks. Some have become eunuchs because of this stigma.

“Imagine a boy in the class of 25 pupils carrying a tribal mark. His mates will call him the boy with the railway line. They are emblems of disfiguration.

“Some of them have developed low self-esteem and most times treated with scorn and ridicule including rejection by the female folks.

“The reactions of people who interact with them say it dampens and lowers their spirit,’’ he said.

Melaye stated that besides the health implication of the practice, it was an infringement on the rights of children, adding that every Nigerian child deserved the right to live.

According to him, it is time a law is enacted to stop the dastardly act, as the popularity and acceptance of facial marks are waning.

“People now prefer that their identity cards remain in their pockets not faces anymore.

“Long before the awareness programme on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), many people, mostly children who were subjected to tribal marks had inadvertently been infected with infectious diseases.

“Sharp instruments used by locals were not sterilised leading to risk of AIDS, including Hepatitis B and C,” Malaye added.

Melaye said the bill, when passed into law would help to check the act, which was a sign of man’s inhumanity to man in a country as great as Nigeria.

He called on his colleagues to support the passage of the bill.

Contributing to the debate, the Chief Whip, Sen. Olusola Adeyeye commended Melaye for coming up with such an important bill.

According to him, many children have suffered stigmatisation as a result of the practice.

Adeyeye described the act as evil, adding that if it was for the purpose of identification, there was no way any parent would not identify their children without tribal marks.

“In the 21st century, there is no need to argue that either because of religion or custom someone would use sharp object on their children just for identification.

“The Constitution provides that the primary function of government is protection of lives.

“It is disheartening to note that children who have not been tested to know if they are short of blood are being made to lose blood.

“In the 21st century, not only this chamber but every chamber in Africa should rise up to this occasion to stop the pains being inflicted on our children,” he said.

The Chief Whip called for stiff penalty to deter others, adding “our generation must permanently stop that reproach’’.

“ I pray no child will have the kind of mark I have on my hands. This should be banned and we will proscribe severe penalties for both the parents and the so called surgeons,” he added.

The Minority Leader, Sen. Godswill Akpabio equally supported the bill, saying it was a welcome development.

“In those days, people wanted it because they were from royal homes, but these days it is no longer in vogue.

“The international community will be happy we rose to this occasion, so I support this with all my heart.

“It is a violation of the rights of children. The child has no option and can’t fight back. Outside the infection, pain can generate something else and lead to insanity.

“If we have a law already in existence, we should merge the bill with that of female genital mutilation because they are similar,’’ he said.

He also called for stiff penalties for offenders to serve as deterrent to others.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, said the bill was commendable in view of what children from some parts of the country were being subjected to.

“I am aware that under our constitution, especially Section 34 (1) forbids torture in humans and degrading treatment.

“This is no doubt inhuman, and it is our responsibility as lawmakers to add flesh to the bones of our constitution.

“On a day like this, I am proud of the senate and I believe that when it goes through the second reading it will go to the committee and return as quickly as possible.

“This is so that we pass it and ensure that it is implemented as quickly as possible to save our children from this inhuman degrading treatment,’’ he said.

The bill was subsequently referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to be returned to senate in four weeks.

Senate set to investigate Dino Melaye over alleged certificate forgery

The Nigerian Senate has kicked off an investigation into whether Senator President Bukola Saraki and Senator Dino Melaye have abused their privileges as lawmakers in the Upper House of legislature.

Saraki is being probed under suspicion that he may have used his office to avenge the seizure of his imported bullet-proof vehicle by the Customs

While Senate is investigating Saraki over claims that he allegedly used his office to seek revenge against Nigeria Customs Service boos Hameed Ali, Melaye is being investigated over claims that he may have forged his certificate with which he ran for the legislative seat.

The Senate resolved to probe Saraki and Melaye following a motion moved by Senator Ali Ndume representing Borno South requesting that allegations against the two lawmakers should be investigated to ensure that there was no abuse of legislative privileges by them.

According to Ndume, allegations that the Senate invited Hameed Ali because he reportedly seized a bullet-proof Range Rover that belonged to Saraki because it did not have the proper papers needed to be looked into before the Red Chamber can move on with questioning Ali over the controversial issue of collecting Customs duties on old vehicles.

On the other hand, Ndume said allegations that Melaye did not really graduate from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria as claimed in his CV has to be investigated to make sure the truth is revealed.

The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges is looking into the two matters and will report back to the house in two weeks.

Senate investigates alleged customs’ seizure of “Saraki’s car.”

The senate has directed its committee on ethics and privileges to investigate the alleged seizure of a bulletproof car purportedly owned by Bukola Saraki.

The car was reportedly seized by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of which comptroller-general, Hameed Ali, had been locked in a face-off with the senate.

The upper legislative chamber had summoned Ali to appear before it in uniform over the customs’ planned enforcement of duty on old cars.

But the customs chief appeared before the senate in civilian attire. He was subsequently ordered out of the chamber with an order to get a uniform.

However, there were insinuations that the senate was being hard on Ali because the customs had seized a sport utility vehicle (SUV) of Saraki.

On Tuesday, Ali Ndume, a senator from Borno state, raised a point of order asking the upper legislative chamber to investigate the allegation.

He said Nigerians were insulting the senate over the matter.

He also asked the senate to investigate allegations of certificate forgery against Dino Melaye, a senator from Kogi west.

After listening to the motion, deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, referred it to the committee on ethics and privileges, and he directed it to submit its report in four weeks.


Source: The Cable

Illegal directive on wearing of uniform by customs boss – By Femi Falana

The timely reaction of the senate to the policy of the Nigeria Customs Service to compel all vehicle owners to pay appropriate duties has once again questioned the extent of the oversight powers of the national assembly.

In contributing to the interesting debate I shall examine the legal validity of the policy, the legal competence of the senate to summon the comptroller-general of customs to justify the policy and the legality of the directive that he should appear before the senate in uniform.

Illegal policy of Nigeria Customs Service on payment of appropriate duties.

We are aware that the Nigeria Customs Service has announced the suspension of the implementation of the policy to compel all vehicle owners in Nigeria to pay appropriate customs duties from March 13-April 12, 2017. Notwithstanding the suspension we deem it fit to point out that the policy is illegal as the Nigeria Customs Service is completely estopped from collecting additional duties from vehicle owners who had paid the duties charged at the time of importation. Under the doctrine of estoppel by conduct the Nigeria Customs Service cannot be permitted to deny the payment of what was charged and collected as appropriate duties from vehicle owners several years ago.

In Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji v Board of Customs (1982) 3 NCLR 552, the armed agents of the defendant invaded and raided markets in Lagos and seized contraband goods. In the process, some of the traders were brutalized. They sued the defendant for damages in the Lagos high court. Apart from condemning the violations of the traders to dignity the Lagos high court cautioned that “Those in authority in customs and excise matters ought to intensify methods for apprehending offenders at the point of entry of goods into the country as it becomes more difficult to do so afterwards.” In Margaret Stitch v Attorney-General of the Federation (1986) 2 NSSC 1389 the Supreme Court held that the appellant was only liable to pay the customs duty based upon the rate of duty payable when she imported her used Mercedes Benz car. It was the view of the apex court that it was unjust and retrospectively punitive to impose an additional financial liability of about N13,000 on the appellant.

In view of the settled position of the law on the matter what is required on the part of the management of the Nigeria Customs Service is not a suspension of the illegal policy but its outright annulment without any further delay. Of course, the authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service cannot be precluded from arresting and prosecuting highly placed individuals who usually forge importation documents in order to evade the payment of the appropriate duties to the coffers of the federal government.

Incompetence of the senate to summon CGC on policy matters

Under the pretext of exercising its oversight powers last week the senate summoned the CGC to appear before it to justify the policy on payment of appropriate duties from March 13-April 2017. Since he did not appear in uniform the senate decided to adjourn its debate on the matter to enable him to comply with the directive. In spite of the importance attached to the trifle and diversionary directive on uniform it is submitted that the senate lacks the vires to summon the CGC on policy matters. Indeed the oversight power of either house of the national assembly is not at large but limited by section 88 (2) of the constitution to enable it to “make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws and expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriate by it”.

Since the decision of the senate has nothing to do with making laws or exposing corruption, inefficiency or waste in the disbursement of funds appropriated by it the summoning of the CGC constitutes a blatant violation of the constitution. No doubt, the policy was designed to generate revenue for the federal government. To that extent the senate may be accused of shielding criminal elements who have engaged in the evasion of the payment of customs duties. If the senate had wanted to protect the interests of vehicle owners including themselves they ought to have entered into dialogue with the minister of finance. There is no legal or moral basis for the arrogance of power being displayed by the senate whose leadership has recently being linked with the illegal importation of a bullet proof limousine with fake papers to evade the payment of appropriate customs duties.

In El-rufai v House of Representatives (2003) 46 W.R.N 70 the court of appeal placed heavy reliance on the case of senate of the National Assembly v Tony Momoh where it was held that “no power exists under the section for general investigation not for personal aggrandizement of the house”. So the appellants were not entitled to have invited the respondent in the first instance. In the instant case, the senate is not conducting an investigation but challenging the policy of the Nigeria Customs Service on payment of duties. With respect., the summons served on the CGC is illegal and unconstitutional as it cannot be justified under section 88(2) of the constitution.

Illegal directive on wearing of uniform by CGC

However, the senate engaged in another illegality when it exceeded its powers by asking the CGC to appear before it in customs uniform. Neither the constitution not the rules of procedure of the senate has conferred on it the power to compel the CGC to wear customs union when he is not a serving customs office. Indeed, the directive is a reckless usurpation of the powers of the board which is the only competent body to decide on the wearing of uniform by customs officer.

In many countries including South Africa customs officers do not wear uniforms. It is on record that the first 4 heads of the customs department in Nigeria never wore uniforms.

Under the defunct military junta, officials of the security agencies wore uniforms as they claimed that they were either military or paramilitary forces. With respect to the customs service, its officers are required to wear uniforms in accordance with section 8 of the customs excise and preventive service regulations which provides that “clothing and equipment shall be of such pattern and worn in such manner as the board shall determine.” The suit challenging the legal validity of Col Hameed Ali’s appointment has been dismissed on the ground that the President has the power to appoint a non-customs officer to head the customs service. Since a competent court has held that he is not a customs officer, Ali cannot be made to wear any uniform by the senate.

If I am said to be wrong I challenge the senate to refer to any law that supports the wearing of uniform by the head of the customs service who is not a serving customs officer. The EFCC has been headed by 3 serving police officers and a retired police officer but the senate never mandated any of them to wear uniform whenever they appeared before it. Even the embattled acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu who appeared for confirmation in the senate last week was not directed to wear his uniform even though he is a serving police officer.

I should not be understood as saying that the senate deserves to be treated with disdain. All I am saying is that the senate should have appreciated the limit of its powers under the constitution. Thus, instead of playing into the hands of the CGC by invoking the provision of section 88 of the constitution, the senate could have summoned the minister of finance to justify the policy of the Nigeria Customs Service, a parastatal under her supervision. That would have been in consonance with section 67 (2) of the constitution which has imposed a duty on every minister to attend either house of the national assembly to explain “the conduct of his Ministry, and in particular when the affairs of the Ministry are under discussion.”

Finally, the Nigeria Customs Service should be directed by the minister of finance to cancel the illegal policy on payment of appropriate excise duties. If the federal government remains recalcitrant on the matter we shall not hesitate to challenge the policy at the federal high court. However, if the federal government is seriously committed to end the importation of vehicles into Nigeria via neighboring countries it should direct the Nigeria Customs Service to reduce the prohibitive duties charged on imported vehicles.

“Magu can serve in acting capacity indefinitely”, Presidential committee tells Buhari.

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to remove the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, whose confirmation was rejected by the Senate on Wednesday.

The committee further stated that Magu could continue in acting capacity indefinitely.

It was learnt that the committee had resolved to communicate its resolution to the President in writing.

The Chairman of the PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), told The PUNCH that the resolution was unanimous and that members were of the view that removing Magu would negatively affect the war against corruption.

He said, “I had a telephone conference with all members of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption and we unanimously agreed that Magu is the best candidate in this country for that position and that he should continue acting indefinitely until he is confirmed and there should be no change whatsoever; otherwise, there will be a major setback in the fight against corruption.

“We observed that those who do not want him are those who are opposed to the fight against corruption. So, we are 100 per cent behind him.”

Meanwhile, the Presidency, on Thursday, said it would not respond to the rejection of the nomination of Magu until it received a formal communication from the Senate on the development.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, stated this on his Twitter handle.

“The Presidency will respond to the non-clearance of Magu as EFCC boss after it receives official communication in writing from the Senate,” Adesina wrote.

The Senate had, on Wednesday, rejected Magu’s nomination for the second time.

Also, a rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, described as illogical, the manner in which the Senate rejected Magu as the substantive EFCC chairman.

In a statement on Thursday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation described as a slap on Nigerians the rejection of Magu by the Senate “on the pretext of conflicting and inconsistent reports on him (Magu) by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

SERAP posited that the Senate and the President had failed their legitimate governmental purpose of working together to promote and enhance the independence, integrity and effectiveness of the country’s main anti-corruption agency, the EFCC.

It argued that what the Senate should have done was to have “critically engaged with the two reports by the Department of State Services and provided Magu with meaningful opportunity to be heard,” before rejecting him.

“The entire process for the submission of Magu’s name for confirmation by the Senate, and the purported confirmation hearing by the Senate is utterly unsatisfactory,” SERAP declared.

The organisation argued that while it conceded that it was within the right of the Senate to accept or reject the nomination of anyone, such a right must be exercised “constitutionally, reasonably, logically and rationally.”

“He (President) should then take rational and reasonable measures to re-nominate him for confirmation.

“We also urge the Senate to carry out its duty to confirm Magu in line with constitutional and international requirements and without any political or ulterior considerations whatsoever,” SERAP demanded.

The statement read in part, “But by providing conflicting and inconsistent reports to the Senate on Magu’s confirmation, the government of President Buhari has not taken a logical, fair, and reasonable constitutional and international measure to promote, advance, establish and maintain an independent and effective EFCC.

“And the Senate, on its own part, would seem to have acted mala fide by picking and choosing the least favourable DSS report to reject Magu’s nomination.

“The proper and reasonable action the Senate should have taken in the circumstances of this case would have been to invite the leadership of the DSS to appear before it to explain the manifest contradictions and inconsistencies in its reports.”


Source: PUNCH

Hameed Ali VS Senate: A Case Of Democratic Power Versus Military Mentality – Yinusa Tanko

Human Rights Activist and National Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Yinusa Tanko, has described the situation between the Senate and the Customs Comptroller General, Colonel Hameed Ali, as that of democratic power versus military mentality in a democratic setting.

He made the position known while addressing the issues that led to the summoning of the Customs CG by the Senate and the compulsion to appear in his complete uniform.

“The senate is trying to consolidate its power to say, this is the representative of the people, this House represents the interest of Nigerians and so when we call you, Nigerians call you and you must answer to the question of Nigeria.

“Here, you have an ex-military man, who comes from a big military background, who is trying to show that I’ve been a military man and in this my own profession that I have learned, there are things that cannot go down well with me as an ex-military man.”

Although Col. Ali had argued that there was no law to his knowledge that compelled him to wear the uniform, the NCP Chairman stated that according to some of the Senators, Section 2 of the Customs Act compels the CG to be in his uniform.


According to him, it must be understood that this is a democratic setting and the processes that brought him in must be understood.

Meanwhile, many hold the opinion that the real issue which led to the summoning of the Customs Comptroller General had been pushed to the background, and the focus had shifted to whether or not he appeared in uniform.

On his part, the NCP Chairman admitted to the fact that some of the major issues had been ignored, while also advocating that policies should be made in the interest of Nigerians.

“People who take up offices do not really read up on the kind of laws governing those offices and this is why anyone who is applying into any leadership role should read up on the laws guiding that office.

“If You want to achieve an aim, in ensuring that the system is clean, where there is need for you to do some things in order to get to that particular place, do them so that you would not have this particular altercation that does not depict the kind of person that you are”.

Mr Ali had been summoned to explain the Service’s new directive on duties to be paid on imported vehicles.


Source: Channels TV

BREAKING: Senate sends Hameed Ali away, asks him to come back in Customs uniform

The Senate has driven away the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, after he appeared before the lawmakers in mufti.

Mr. Ali’s appearance without uniform, on Thursday after his failure to appear on Wednesday, was contrary to the resolution of the Senate which asked that he must wear “appropriate” uniform to brief them over the now suspended policy on duty payment.

The Senate unanimously resolved to drive away Mr. Ali, following George Sekibo’s motion.

The Senate further resolved that he should appear again next Wednesday in uniform, after the lawmakers took turns to chide the Customs boss.

“Coming was just one part of our invitation, another part is that you wear uniform. Why are you not in uniform?” Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, asked Mr. Ali, after he observed protocols.

Mr. Ali then craved the indulgence of Mr. Ekweremadu to refer to the letter forwarded to him on Wednesday.

After reading the content of the letter, he said, “this letter did not connote that I should wear uniform.”

Responding, Mr. Ekweremadu said Wednesday’s letter was “further to the earlier letters which indicated that you should wear uniform. So this is a reminder.

“More importantly, this is official. We have expected military chiefs and the Inspector General of Police and they all wear uniform.”

“My not wearing uniform does not breach any law. No law, to my knowledge, that compels me to wear uniform. There is no law that says in doing my service, I have to wear uniform.”

Deputy Leader, Bala Na’Allah, drawing from the customs and excise law, argued there is law that compels Mr. Ali to wear uniform.

He said the customs chief was oblivious of the law, saying “I am happy you said you needed legal opinion.”

“I regret his grandstanding,” Aliyu Wakil (APC-Bauchi), former customs officer said.

Olamilekan Solomon (APC-Lagos), Barnabas Gemade (APC-Benue) and Barau Jibrin (APC-Kano) also chided Mr. Ali and insisted he must wear uniform.

After the resolution, Mr. Ekweremadu explained that Section 2 of the customs law provides that all officers, including comptroller-general, must wear uniform.

“As number one officer, you should lead by example,” Mr. Ekweremadu said.


Source: Premium Times

UPDATE: I’m not mandated by any law to wear uniform as Customs boss – Hameed Ali

The Comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service Hameed Ali has told the Senate that there was no law that required him to wear uniform as Customs boss.

Ali said this on Thursday on the floor of the Senate while responding to a question from Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.

Ekweremadu asked Ali, “Please oblige us if you have any reason for not wearing the Customs uniform?”, to which Ali responded, “There’s no law requiring me to wear uniform as CG of Customs”.

However, Senator Magnus Abe pleads with the CG Customs to wear his uniform to preserve the image of the Customs and perception of other institutions.

Senator Ali Wakili also appealed to the Senate to temper justice with mercy, saying; “Hameed Ali is a man of integrity, we should liaise with him”.

FLASH: Senate plans to send Hameed Ali out of NASS complex for not wearing Customs uniform

Members of the Nigerian Senate are planning to send Customs Comptroller General Hamid Ali out of the National Assembly if he refuses to put on his uniform.

Recall that the senate had requested that Ali appears before it, in customs uniform, which Ali had rejected on two occasions, saying he was not appointed to wear uniform.

He however showed up at the NASs complex to day wearing a white native attire and a white cap.

More Details To Come.

Senate awaits new nominee after rejecting Magu again

After about two hours of intense questioning, the Senate yesterday rejected the second nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

His first nomination for confirmation was rejected in December 15, 2016 over a damning status report sent to the Senate by the Department of State Services (DSS).

This second rejection may slow down the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari while he is searching for a replacement for Magu. Besides, it may lead to a frosty relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government that could hinder good governance.

An attempt by former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, to oppose the procedures adopted to screen and disqualify Magu was swiftly overruled by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who threw the first question was very categorical about the need for the acting EFCC boss to provide detailed explanations on the DSS report which had noted his alleged corrupt practices, including paying a rent of N20 million per annum

But Magu tried to evade answering the question as he told the lawmakers that he would not want to rubbish a sister security agency. Not even the insistence of Saraki that Magu should answer the question swayed the EFCC boss. Unknown to Magu, the question on the DSS report was coming back in a more damning form.

But before the matter was re-introduced, Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna central) had reminded the nominee that it was the ‘Ides of March” and even prayed for him.

Sani said: “Today is the Ides of March, a very memorable day in the history of Roman Empire when Julius Caesar was executed when he came to the Senate. So, may the Lord be with you.”

Re-introducing the DSS report, Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) suddenly rose and drew the attention of Magu to a second report which he said was received by the Senate on Tuesday evening.

Melaye said: “I have before me two reports from the DSS, one addressed to the Senate in October and the second one written to this chamber and was received by the office of the Clerk of the Senate at 5:02p.m. just yesterday.

“Magu, nominee for the position of the chairmanship of the EFCC, having gone through these reports, the first report indicted you but because of the letter from Mr. President you are here again.

“Just yesterday this report was received from the DSS, paragraph 14 of the report reads thus: ‘In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.’ “

Melaye continued: “The DSS is to us what the FBI and CIA are to the U.S. and we cannot ridicule, we cannot undermine and we cannot put in abeyance the report of the DSS. Anyone who wants to be chairman of EFCC must have the character and characteristics of the wife of Caeser, you must be unblemished, you must be pure, you must be stainless.”

Melaye disclosed that there was a case where EFCC operatives raided a particular house and some Certificates of Occupancy (Cs of Os) taken and those Cs of O were later found in the market. He said the police had investigated and two of the documents had been returned to the owner.

“Do you still think, after this report and as a result of what has happened to the Cs of O of an innocent Nigerian, you are still qualified to be the chairman of EFCC or we take you to Golgotha?”

Magu replied that he was hearing the allegation for the first time. “It is not everything that is done in the EFCC I have knowledge of, the EFCC is too big. If not now, I didn’t know there was a case pending against EFCC staff in a police station. I will now go back and investigate it and give you a feedback.”

In a remark after the screening, Saraki said: “Let me first of all thank all of you on your contributions to this matter and the way the matter was carried in an open and transparent manner. What we are seeing here is democracy at work. I believe that what we have done on our own part, was to follow the constitution and due process. And we hope that the Executive will quickly act and bring in a new name as soon as possible so that the activities of the agency are not deterred.”

Meanwhile, if an amendment of the Act that established the EFCC eventually sails through at the National Assembly, the influence of President Buhari on the affairs of the anti-graft agency will be whittled drastically.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives took a significant step towards achieving this goal as four consolidated bills proposing a series of amendments to the EFCC Act passed the second reading at the plenary presided over by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

The amendment which is also to make the commission more independent and effective is being jointly sponsored by Bede Uchenna Eke, Bassey Ewa, Oladipupo Adebutu and Kolade Oladele.

The new law will prescribe a stiffer penalty of 20 years for any person who commits financial or economic crime, create more stringent ways of removing members and chairman of the EFCC board and establish an asset confiscation and recovery unit as well as a financial investigation and intelligence unit.


Source: The Guardian

BREAKING: Hameed Ali arrives at the Senate — In white native attire and white cap

Hameed Ali, comptroller general  of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), has arrived at the national assembly complex, but not in customs uniform as requested by the senate.

Earlier, the senate had requested that Ali appears before it, in customs uniform, which Ali had rejected on two occasions, saying he was not appointed to wear uniform.

On Thursday however, Ali finally appeared before the senate in white native attire and a white cap.

Customs CG, Ali fails to appear before Senate

Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), on Wednesday, failed to appear before the Senate.

Ali said he was bereaved.

“I’ll make myself available whenever I’m needed in future,” the Customs CG told the Senate in his second letter to the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, which was read at the plenary on Wednesday.

Saraki also read a statement issued by the NCS, in which the service said the policy on payments of duties on old vehicles had been ‘put on hold’.

The lawmakers have, however, expressed their dissatisfaction with Ali’s excuses for his nonappearance.

Details later…


Senate backs INEC on 2019 election timetable

The Senate Committee on INEC has said it will support the 2019 election timetable recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Chairman of the committee, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) disclosed this on Tuesday while answering questions from journalists in Abuja on INEC’s early release of the 2019 general elections timetable.

Ndume said the Commission was doing the right thing by setting out target for elections so that it can be well prepared when the election proper takes place. He said he personally encouraged the commission to start early when its leadership.

He said: “When I took over as the chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, I personally encouraged INEC to start preparing for 2019 now. When I looked at the budget of the INEC, I discovered that there was no provision for the 2019 election.“I advised them to make provision for the 2019 election so that such items that are not sensitive and not perishable can be procured in time. It is not good for us to wait until a day or two to the election then we start running helter-skelter for the materials such as the data capture machine or another thing that should be in place.

“I personally believe that this INEC wants to improve on what has been done before and all encouragement and support should be given to them. So, let’s give them a chance.”

Ndume added that, this present government is determined to conduct a credible,free and fair elections, adding that the amendment of the Electoral Act in the National Assembly would give the Electoral Reform committee headed by Senator Ken Nnamani set up by the executive arm of government to come up with acceptable reforms that will take care of some loopholes.

“I know that the President and this government is determined to conduct a credible election because it is the government that has been shouting that the election was not credible and truly elections were not credible except the last one that met minimum acceptability.

“For the Senate, we only have two clauses left to conclude the amendment of the electoral Act. We have gone very far. In fact, I can say that I am the one that slowed the committee down because we have to do it together with the House and the executive has formed a Committee under the chairmanship of Nnamani, so let us work together in order to come up with generally acceptable reform that takes care of some of the loopholes,” he said


Source: The Guardian

Impending drama as Senate insists Hameed Ali must appear before it.

The Senate appears set for a showdown with the Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, after lawmakers rejected Mr. Ali’s plan not to appear before them on Wednesday.

Mr. Ali had earlier on Tuesday informed the Senate that he would not appear as scheduled as he had an event already slated for the same day.

The Senate wants him to explain the Customs’ planned clampdown on vehicles that have no duty clearance.

But senators rejected his excuse, with Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan saying it was not acceptable.

“The integrity of the Senate is being tested,” said James Manager, PDP-Delta, who also picked hole in the way the letter was addressed.

Members approved a vote called by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to reject Mr. Ali’s letter, and therefore mandated him “to appear in uniform tomorrow (Wednesday as scheduled) by 10:30 AM“.

The Senate summoned Mr. Ali over Customs’ plan to impound vehicles that have no import duty clearance. It specifically asked him to appear in uniform.

But on Friday, Mr. Ali defended the plan, and said he was only going to honour the Senate’s summon if the invitation.

“I was not appointed Comptroller General to wear uniform,” he said.

Mr. Ali, a retired colonel, was appointed Customs chief in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari, becoming the second to be so appointed from outside the service.

Under former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, Bello Haliru was also appointed head of Customs from outside the service.


Source: Premium Times

“I can’t appear before the Senate on Wednesday”, Customs Boss, Hameed Ali says.

The Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Hameed Ali, has written the Senate, notifying the lawmakers he will not appear before them on Wednesday as expected. ?

The Senate Clerk read Mr. Ali’s letter on Tuesday.

He was summoned last Thursday over the planned clampdown on vehicles without duty payment.

In its resolution, the Senate said Mr. Ali must appear in appropriate Customs uniform which he has not been publicly seen to have worn.

He had hit back at the Senate, asking the lawmakers to show interest in his work not his dress.

In his letter, he said he had to attend an NCS meeting; but the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawann said that reason was not tenable.


Source: Premium Times

“Wear uniform or resign,” Senate tells Customs boss Hammed Ali

The Senate has asked the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali to resign if he cannot appear before it in his uniform.

The upper chamber during plenary last Thursday mandated Ali to appear before it in Customs uniform over the agency’s plan to impound vehicles that do not have customs duty from April.

“If retired Colonel Ali cannot respect the Customs service or he’s ashamed of wearing its uniform and rank of his position while appearing before peoples’ representatives, then he should honourably resign,” Senator Solomon Adeola representing APC, Lagos West, said in a statement issued on Sunday, March 12.

The Senator also explained that the Senate mandated Ali to wear his uniform in order to protect the organizational integrity and discipline in the institution.

At the Thursday plenary, Adeola had backed Senator Dino Melaye on the need for the Senate to curb Ali’s ‘high-handedness.’

He said the Customs boss is “carrying out the affairs of this agency as if he is the managing director or the commander-in-chief of this country.”

However, the Comptroller General, in response to the Senate order, said he would not wear his uniform to the National Assembly, noting that he was not appointed to wear the uniform.

Ali has been wearing mufti while carrying out official duties since his appointment.

In the statement, Senator Adeola expressed disappointment in Ali’s response, saying he expected him, as a retired army colonel, to know the importance of uniforms.

Adeola said: “Military and paramilitary uniforms inclusive of ranks are part of the symbol of legitimate authority conferred on the wearer to carry out certain duties on behalf of the government.

“Except in covert operations, an officer in these organizations operating without uniform could be taken to be performing illegal duty or worse, be taken as not representing the institution at all. And as stated on the floor of the Senate in plenary, the Comptroller General is rank that can only be worn on uniform and not on mufti.”

According to him, there is concern among officers and men of the Customs Service on the appointment of ‘outsider’ to head the agency as it is a morale killer, career progression inhibitor as well as damaging to the organizational growth of the service stressing that there may be need to amend the Nigerian Customs Act to restrict appointment of CG to career officers as it is done in the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Immigrations and the Nigerian Prisons Service.

“The APC-led Government of President Muhammadu Buhari was elected on the promise of change, adherence to rule of law and renunciation of impunity in any forms. The story we hear daily is the arrogance and high-handedness of the CG and name dropping of the President. We had it on good authority of his reluctance to be answerable to the Minister of Finance as stipulated in laws of the land.

We that were elected cannot look the other way while the people we represent are subjected to avoidable hardship orchestrated by an unelected appointee in a bid to cure the inefficiencies of the agency he leads. We are in a democracy,” the  Senator added.

The lawmaker stressed that the Senate supports Buhari’s anti-corruption drive as well as effort to increase revenue to get the nation out of recession but cautioned that no one should use personal agenda to drive public policy.

Senate orders CG Hameed Ali to appear before it wearing a Customs uniform

The Senate has ordered the Comptroller-general of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali to appear before it next Wednesday in his appropriate uniform.

This was part of deliberations at Thursday’s plenary.

The Senate had on Tuesday directed the service to halt the collection of custom duty on vehicles.

But the Acting Public Relations Officer of Customs, Joseph Attah, said the one month grace period was still in force despite the order of the senate.

Speaking on the matter on the floor of the chamber at plenary, Senator Dino Melaye cited order 42/45, after referencing a national daily which reported that the Customs was going ahead with duty collection.

He said the Customs was operating under its own laws as he demanded that the Customs CG should appear before the Senate in his uniform.

Senators Solomon Adeola, Kabir Marafa and Aliyu Wamakko all supported Melaye’s position that the CG appears before the Senate.

On his part, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan said the customs must make effort in securing the borders.

He urged his colleagues not to act based on newspaper reports, saying that the senate has always supported the Customs, as he called for a proper dialogue.

He added that any Government official that is asked to face the Senate must do so within the stipulated time.

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha said, “Government officials must respect the rule of law, if they undermine the Senate they are indirectly undermining the president.”

Another senator, Atai Aidiko, said, “It is painful if you buy a car, you are not a car dealer and they say your documents are fake and your car is impounded.”

“A lot of cars bought during the Xmas period were ceased along the Benin-Ore road and have not been returned till date,” Sen. Obina Ogba said.

On his part, Sen. Lanre Tejuosho queried the activities of the service.

He said, “Customs official killed two men from my constituency, we must look into the activities of the Customs”.

Speaking on the matter, the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who presided over plenary said the upper legislative chamber must also fight impunity alongside corruption.

He directed the comptroller general to appear before the Senate in his appropriate uniform on Wednesday 15th of March, 2017.


Source: YNaija

Senate Summons NCS Comptroller General, Hameed Ali Over Duty On Old Cars

The senate has summoned the Comptroller of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali to explain a recent circular to levy duty on old vehicles already in the country.

Senate Deputy Majority leader, Bala Ibn na’allah? citing order 42 and 53 with regards to the circular urged senators to look into the sudden move to impound vehicles already cleared by a registered car dealer.

The President, Shippers Owners Association of Nigeria Greg Ogbiefun wants   a review of the Coastal and Inland Shipping act otherwise known as the Cabotage Act.

This was amongst discussions raised at the Shippers Association General elections.

Only Labour Party Senator, Ovie Omo-Agege decamps to APC.

The only Nigerian Senator elected on the platform of the Labour Party, Ovie Omo-Agege, has decamped to the ruling All Progressives Congress.

Mr. Omo-Agege, representing Delta Central, announced his defection on Tuesday, citing leadership crisis in LP.

He came to the Senate after his predecessor, Igboyata Amori of Peoples Democratic Party, was sacked by the court.

Mr. Omo-Agege, a native Urhobo, had openly romanced with the APC caucus before his formal defection today, Tuesday.

In one instance, he joined the APC caucus last year to counter the PDP caucus’ accusation that the anti-graft campaign of the Buhari administration was lopsided.

With his defection, APC now has 66 members in the Senate, after gaining for decampees from the PDP previously.

Joshua Dariye, Plateau; Yele Omogunwa, Ondo; Nelson Effiong, Akwa Ibom; and Andy Uba, Anambra are the four Senators who cross-carpeted from the PDP to the APC.


Source: Premium Times

JUST IN: Senate halts Nigerian Customs vehicle duty ultimatum

Nigerian Senate has passed a resolution directing the Nigerian Customs Service to halt its plan to penalise Nigerians who do not pay duties on their vehicles within one month.

The resolution, on Tuesday, followed a motion by the Deputy Leader, Bala Na’Allah, who said the new Customs policy was “a serious matter”.

In his contribution, Kogi senator, Dino Melaye, said it was not possible to import vehicle without clearance or “collaboration” of the Customs.

The Senate resolved that Customs halt actions until the agency appears before its Committee on Customs.

Senate President Saraki Saraki said it was the responsibility of the senate to ensure welfare of Nigerians.

Customs had threatened to impound vehicles without duty papers, and to prosecute their owners.


Source: Premium Times

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

Senate to probe alleged N10 Trillion fraud in oil industry

The Senate declared yesterday that it had uncovered some fraudulent practices in the petroleum industry through which the nation lost N10 trillion between 2006 and 2016.

Consequently, the leadership of the upper chamber has instructed the Joint Committee on Petroleum (upstream and downstream) and Gas to investigate the alleged fraud.

For a nation in recession and planning to borrow to finance its expenditure in 2017, there is the need to urgently stop such fraudulent practices that have robbed it of a huge sum said to be enough to finance the country’s budget for two consecutive years. If the allegation is true and the money or a part of it is recovered, government will have more money to execute its projects and programmes for the development of the country.

The joint committee, which addressed a press conference on the matter yesterday said it had scheduled a three-day investigative hearing which would focus on the activities of the petroleum sector during the administrations of Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari.

The panel alleged that out of the N10trillion fraud, some N5.2 trillion was lost through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) alone, which would be summoned to account for the loss.

The committee said that the N5.2 trillion represented the amount the NNPC collected as subsidy from the Federal Government for the importation of petroleum products, particularly Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol or fuel between 2006 and 2016, aside from the 445,000 barrels of crude oil allocated to it on a yearly basis for the nation’s refineries for local consumption.

The Chairman of the Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Kabiru Marafa, said that available records before the panel glaringly showed that during the period under investigation, NNPC imported fuel into the country that was more than 40% of our local consumption, apart from gross under-utilisation of the 445, 000 barrels it collected for local refining for local consumption on a yearly basis due to very low capacities of the four refineries in the country then.

But in a text message response to The Guardian’s enquiry yesterday, NNPC spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, said: “We are yet to receive the alleged issues raised. If communicated to the NNPC by the esteemed committee, we shall respond accordingly. However, NNPC particularly under the present management, remains highly transparent in its activities.”

Marafa disclosed further that the committee also discovered another dimension of fraud in the industry through the disappearance of PMS from storages leased by NNPC without any accountability and or return of the value of the stolen product. According to him,100million litres of PMS worth N14billion were stolen by two different companies without any sanction against them yet from the NNPC.

“This committee has established the missing of 100million litres of PMS from such storage arrangement. We expected NNPC to have taken action against the two companies that carried out the theft but since it has not, we hereby ordered it to do so immediately, precisely within this week, failure of which we shall make the whole details known to the public,” the lawmaker threatened.

According to him, all key players in the sector, along with their collaborators who have taken the country for a ride during the period under review, must be brought to book through the investigation to be conducted soon because President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate leadership are very much interested in unmasking those behind the scam perpetrated during the Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and by extension, the Buhari administrations.

“President Buhari is highly supportive of this move by the Senate and we shall not fail in carrying out the needed holistic investigation into obvious sharp practices in the sector. Needed documents for the onerous task are already in our possession,” Marafa added.

Already listed to appear before the committee during the planned public investigative hearing that will last for about three days are past and present chief executives of NNPC, their counterpart in the independent marketers association, licence inspection agency, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), among others.

The committee said specific areas of investigation would include commercial activities of the corporation, purchases, supplies, distribution and payments from 2006 till date.

The joint committee also said it would probe the N3.8trillion collected by independent product marketers and $1.5billiion being owed the independent marketers by government.

“We expect full cooperation by all stakeholders and all past and present industry players over the period in question. In the absence of cooperation or where our investigations show infractions, abuse of contract, abuse of position, or collusion that serves to cheat Nigeria, we will recommend the harshest of penalties which will include but not limited to blacklisting of companies and or individuals from ever doing business with Nigeria and or NNPC,” the lawmakers added.

Marafa said that the hearing would not be targeted at any administration. On his part, chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream)
Tayo Alasoadura, noted: “People will come and account for the reason we were importing fuel into this country that was more than 40 per cent of our needs. As soon as fuel was half-deregulated, our consumption in this country came down by about 40 per cent. Who were the people benefiting from this?

“We have a blank cheque to probe into all these matters and we are going to do it and ensure that people who have taken this country for a ride are brought to book.”


Source: The Guardian

Auditor-General uncovers N2bn fraud in National Assembly

The office Auditor-General of the Federation has revealed a N2 billion financial scandal in the National Assembly expenditure.

The AGF’s annual report said the illegalities were perpetrated in 13 transactions.

The transactions involved both chambers of the National Assembly, the Management as well as the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), and the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).

See breakdown below:


The report said House incurred the highest infraction of N1.1 billon followed by Management, N347.8 million; NILS, N246.5 milliion; the Senate N205.7 million; legislative aides N70 million and NASC,N30 million.

The Auditor-General observed that contracts for the purchase of 48 Units of Utility Vehicles were awarded to three contractors at N624 million, Daily Trust reports.

The report stated that, “records however showed that the supply of 14 Units of these motor vehicles were not made.

“The Clerk has been informed and has been requested to recover monies paid for the outstanding 14 vehicles and forward the recovery particulars for audit verification.”

The Auditor-General said 50 cash advances amounting to N499.6 million were granted to staff to carry out various assignments.

“However, as at the time of writing this report in August, 2016, more than a year after, the advances are yet to be retired.

“Some of the vouchers were granted multiple advances without retiring the previous ones in violation of the Financial Regulations which provides that no new advance should be granted, if the previous ones had not been retired” it stated.

The report said that the Clerk of the National Assembly had been requested to recover the advances from the affected officers and furnish the Auditor-General with the recovery particulars for audit verification.


The Auditor-General’s report said N186million meant for the payment of Motor Vehicle Loan which was paid into a Commercial Bank Account as indicated in the mandate was misapplied for other purposes such as organizing Senate Retreat and Pre-Valedictory Session of the 7th Senate.

This action, according to the report, violates the provision of Financial Regulations 417 which states that, “Votes must be applied only to the purpose for which money is provided. Expenditure incorrectly charged to a Vote shall be disallowed”

The Clerk of the National Assembly has been notified and requested to explain reasons for the Violation of extant rule. He was also asked to recover the fund and forward the particulars for audit verification.

Also Bank Charges amounting to N15.9 million were charged for the period July to December, 2015.

“This is contrary to the provisions of e-Payment Circular Ref no. TRY/A8/88/2008 which requires that individual benefits and claims should be effected through their personal Bank accounts. Financial Regulations 734 also provides that ‘’ No Government Organization or Agency shall place government funds in any Commercial Bank that will charge any commission on transactions “.

The Clerk has been asked to recover the amount and furnish the Auditor-General with the recovery particulars for audit verification.

In the Management accounts, the Auditor-General said the personnel Account was overdrawn in two instances, and this attracted a penalty amounting to N8.8 million in violation of the provisions of Financial Regulations 710 which states that “No Government Bank Account shall be overdrawn or any temporary advance obtained from a bank and any bank charges incurred shall be recovered from the Accounting officer.”

The Clerk has been requested to pay back the money and furnish the Auditor-General with the payment particulars for audit verification.

It also observed that account payment vouchers amounting to N115.9 million paid by the Management within the first 6 (Six) months of the financial year 2015, were not produced for audit examination.

It was further observed that Cash Advances totalling N158million granted to members of staff in 17 instances between the months of January and June 2015 are yet to be retired at the time of writing this report in the month of August 2016, (more than a year after payments) in flagrant disregard of extant regulations which stipulate that all advances should be retired/accounted for, immediately after the completion of the assignment for which funds were granted.

The Clerk has been communicated that the defaulters should be sanctioned in line with the provision of Financial Regulation.

During the Audit of National Assembly Budget & Research Office (NABRO) account, financial scandal of N66million was observed. It said there was Vital/relevant supporting documents.

The Audit of the Personnel Accounts of the Legislative Aides revealed that a total sum of N78.5million was expended on the payment of Overtime/Special Allowances to officials who are not Legislative Aides, in the months of November and December 2015.

“This payment found to be irregular has been brought to the attention of the Clerk of the National Assembly. He should produce the enabling authority, otherwise he should return the sum of N70, 560,000.00 to Government Treasury and furnish Auditor-General with the recovery particulars for verification,” the report stated.


An amount totalling N17million was deducted from four months’ salaries by the commission in the year 2015 as PAYE (Pay As You Earn) and claimed to have been remitted to the Federal inland Revenue Services without any evidence of payment to FIRS.

“If evidence cannot be produced, then they said amount should be recovered and paid back to FlRS (and) furnish the Auditor-General with payment particulars for verification.”


The report observed that despite the prohibition of payments by cheque by the Federal government, except in extreme cases, the institute used cheque to make payment for transactions amounting to N246 million.

This act, according to the report contravenes the provisions of Financial Regulation 631 which says all payment shall be made through electronic payment.



National Assembly: Auditor-General uncovers N2bn fraud [See Breakdown]

Senate orders fresh probe of NNPC

The senate has mandated the committee on petroleum downstream to investigate the non-remittance of funds by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the federation account.

The committee will also investigate an alleged abuse of product marketing and distribution between 2006 and 2016.

The resolution by the senate was sequel to a motion entitled ‘discrepancies in subsidy payment and non-remittance of funds by the NNPC to the federation account’.

The motion was sponsored by Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi west.

Melaye expressed dismay that despite the crackdown by the Buhari administration, the NNPC has refused to remit funds to the federation account.

“The independent marketers account for 49 percent of the imported petroleum product, while the NNPC accounts for 51 percent of imported products, but this does not justify the huge amount it has been paid as subsidy in the last 10 years,” the senator said.

“From the records derived from the PPMC, 5 to 10 cargoes of imported crude arrives the country monthly, while about 5 cargoes are refined locally and each cargo contains 5.8 million litres of the refined crude products.

“The excess products which cannot be dispensed that goes into different tank forms owned by private individuals are not properly accounted for as they illegally sold off by the owners of these tank farms in a manner that is opaque and usually designed to rip off the public and enrich a few persons stupendously at the expense of the masses.”

He said since the Buhari administration “clamped down” on subsidy payments, NNPC has solely been responsible for retail of petroleum products.

“Companies like BOVAS and RANO are paying N20 to N25 per litre for the sales of this product which amounts to over N2 billion monthly,” he said.

“These monies are not accounted for and that might be the reason why we now see petro-dollars in caskets and uncompleted building in remote villages in some parts of the country.”

The senate adopted the motion after it was put to a voice vote by Bukola Saraki, senate president.

In December 2016, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) said as of 2014, the NNPC had withheld $15.8 billion from the federation account paid by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas.

“NLNG paid $1.42 billion to NNPC as dividends, loan and interest repayments for 2014 but the amount could not be traced to the Federation Account,” NEITI had said in a report.

“Between 2005 and 2013, there was an outstanding of $12.92 billion of dividends, interest and loan repayment made by NLNG to NNPC but not remitted to the Federation Account;

“The 2014 audit uncovered evidence of $1.5 billion paid by NLNG to NNPC between 2000 and 2004 but also not remitted. This brings the sum of unremitted NLNG dividends, interest and loan repayment to $15.8 billion as at the end of 2014.”


Source: The Cable

BREAKING: Senate confirms Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice

The senate has confirmed Walter Onnoghen as the substantive chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Onnoghen was confirmed after he appeared before the upper legislative chamber on Wednesday.

He fielded questions from the lawmakers who asked him on his plans to take the judiciary forward.

Onnoghen was before the senate’s committee on whole which was presided over by Senate President Bukola Saraki for 45 minutes.

The supreme court justice assured the senators that judiciary would be independent under his stewardship.

He was confirmed after a voice vote.

Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River state, and Ita Enag, adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on senate, were present during the confirmation hearing.

More to follow…

Walter Onnoghen appears before senate for confirmation hearing

The senate has commenced a confirmation hearing for Walter Onnoghen, acting chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Bukola Saraki, senate president, had notified legislators of the upper legislative of the hearing on Tuesday.

The senate is currently screening Onnoghen with Saraki presiding over the committee of the whole.

Onnoghen has been acting CJN since November 10, 2016 when Mahmoud Mohammed, his predecessor, retired.

The presidency sent Onnoghen’s name to the senate – two days to the expiration of his tenure as acting CJN.

Onnoghen who is from Cross River state, is the only CJN from the southern part of the county in 30 years?.

More to follow…

Senate to probe alleged N5.1 trillion subsidy fraud in NNPC

The Senate is set to probe the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over claims that it mismanaged about N5.1 trillion it got as subsidy funds between 2006 and 2015.

While raising a point of order, Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), drew the attention of the Senate to the refusal of the presidency to probe the nation’s oil corporation, which he said got 51 per cent share of companies approved to import petroleum products into the country.

The N5.1 trillion allegedly mismanaged is about 70 per cent of the N7.298 trillion national budget of 2017 and out of which the government plans to borrow N2.32 trillion. If this amount is recovered, it would help in funding government projects. The amount of money allegedly mismanaged shows that the nation does not lack revenue to execute projects and programmes that could improve the wellbeing of the citizens. What it lacks is the effective management of the revenue. Also, the planned probe will lend credence to the anti-corruption campaign since the NNPC which is the nation’s cash cow is considered to be a nerve centre of corruption.

He said: “Surprisingly you (the Senate President, Bukola Saraki) are one of those who raised the issue of subsidy in the Seventh Senate. The Federal Government is prosecuting marketers and these marketers only constitute 49 per cent of imported refined products. The NNPC is responsible for the importation of 51 per cent.

“While we are prosecuting the independent marketers whose proceed from subsidy is about N3.83 trillion, NNPC collected a total of N5.1 trillion on subsidy and this has never been investigated and we are busy chasing independent marketers. The time to look at the books of NNPC as regards petroleum subsidy is now.

“We have taken the lead in the fight against corruption in this chamber and I want to say we must do everything within our powers to investigate and bring whoever is found wanting to book.”

Saraki gave nod to the plea by Melaye, who had sought the permission of the chamber to sponsor a motion today. “Thank you Senator Melaye for that radical performance,” Saraki said.

He added: “Melaye, we expect this motion tomorrow (today) and it is a very serious issue. It goes to the core of the fight against corruption and also the issue of NNPC which is a great source of revenue for all of us. We will wait for that motion today.”

Also yesterday, the Upper Chamber urged the Federal Government to urgently pay the N2 trillion owed local contractors.The debts, the Senate noted, are those owed contractors operating in the oil and gas sector, as well as others in the pharmaceutical industry.

During a debate on the motion sponsored by Oluremi Tinubu, Saraki warned that the inability of the Federal Government to repay its debts would adversely affect the economy.

“The inability of the government to pay its debts will have serious effects on our economy. I know that the Federal Government is making efforts to ensure that they pay their debts. That is why they are trying to raise international bonds. I urge them to hurry up so they can pay these debts,” he said.

Adopting the motion, titled “The urgent need for the Federal Government to redeem local contractors’ debts,” the lawmakers expressed worry that the inability of the government to repay the debts is already negatively affecting the economy.

Tinubu said any further delay in servicing these debts might adversely affect business organisations operating in the country, especially banks, owing to the fact that many businesses are indebted to the financial organisations.

“The inability to repay subsisting bank loans may affect the purchasing power of petroleum marketers, thus creating scarcity of petroleum products.“I am further concerned about the alleged failure to pay debts owed to pharmaceutical companies and the impact this may have on the health sector.

“The data released by the Debt Management Office put Nigeria’s domestic debt as at June 30, 2016 at over N10 trillion. Local contractors debt is estimated to amount to an additional N2 trillion.

“Settling these local debts will ensure that affected businesses stay afloat through an increase in the circulation of money in order to bring the current economic recession to an end,” Tinubu explained.

Jibrin Barau said if contractors were paid their debts, it would enable them to repay their loans to banks. He said in turn, banks would be able to give more loans to business owners.

Magnus Abe warned that a repeat of what happened in the past, when banks owed huge debts and went under, must be avoided. He noted that families who were affected by these huge debts were unable to meet their daily obligations. Shehu Sani said as the chairman of the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, he had been inundated with calls from local contractors.

Meanwhile, Saraki has ordered chairmen of all the standing committees to submit the final copies of budgets of agencies under their purview to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje.

Saraki who made the announcement during plenary, said the final copies of the reports must be submitted on or before Friday, 3rd of March, 2017.
The Senate also yesterday directed its Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff to investigate the recent illegal importation of 661 sophisticated weapons into the country, and other related offences as well as identify the importers and their collaborators irrespective of their status in the society.

The committee was mandated along with that on Interior, to examine all the processes involved in importation of goods and ascertain also who does what and how, in the said process with a view to determining whether the process and its operators are effective, efficient and of required standards.

These resolutions were sequel to a motion titled “Urgent need to stem the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria” moved by Hope Uzodinma (PDP Imo West), in which he noted that the influx of illegal small arms and light weapons into the country was a threat to the peace and security of the country.


Source: The Guardian

Nigerian Senate May Expel DSTV, MTN, Shoprite Over Xenophobic Attacks

Nigerian Senate on Tuesday weighed the option of expelling South African companies in Nigeria over xenophobic attacks.

This is coming as Nigerians in South African are at the mercy of various attacks by the citizens who believed that Nigerian citizens have taken over many of their jobs.

Senator Olusola Adeyeye representing Osun Central constituency of Osun State gave the hint during Tuesday’s plenary.

See tweet:

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.

Senate resolves to send ‘strong signals’ to South Africa over Xenophobic attacks

The senate has resolved to send a strong delegation to South Africa to protest against the attacks on Nigerians in the country.

The upper legislative chamber took the decision after? Rose Oko, a senator from Cross River north, moved a motion urging it to intervene in the resurgence of xenophobic attacks.

In recent times, aggrieved South Africans have descended on Nigerians and their businesses.

The Nigerian Union in the country reported that pieces of property worth millions were destroyed in the attacks.

Responding to the development on Tuesday, the senate resolved, “to send a strong parliamentary delegation to the South African parliament to register its displeasure at the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians”.

It also condemned the attacks.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, senior special assistant to the president on foreign affairs and diaspora, had earlier warned the South Afric?an government against the attacks, threatening consequences if they continue.


Source: The Cable

Nigeria’s Senate Set To Screen Walter Onnoghen on March 1st

Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has announced that the upper chamber will screen the Acting Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen on Wednesday, March 1.

Senator Saraki made the announcement at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday morning.

Acting President, Yemi Oshinbajo, had sent the name of Justice Onnoghen to the senate for confirmation as Chief Justice Of Nigeria on February 8, just two days before the expiration of his three –month acting tenure.

Also, The National Judicial Council (NJC), had extended Mr Onnoghen’s tenure by another three months on the grounds that it may have been impossible for the Senate, which was on recess at the time, to reconvene and screen Onnoghen before the expiration date of his tenure.

The initial delay by President Buhari to send his name to the Senate had been trailed by criticism and condemnation, with some alleging ethnic bias as the reason for the president’s “seeming reluctance”.

The nomination was however contained in the presidency’s twitter handle saying: “Hon. Justice W.S. Onnoghen’s name has been sent to the Senate for confirmation as the next CJN.”

Justice Onnoghen has been a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria since 2005.

If confirmed by the Upper Legislative Chamber, he would be the first CJN from the southern part of the country in about 30 years.


Source: Channels TV

“Why I Vetoed Four National Assembly Bill” – Acting President Osinbajo Reveals

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has withheld assent to four bills passed by the National Assembly last year. The four proposed laws are National Lottery Amendment Bill; Dangerous Drug Amendment Bill; Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund; and Currency Conversion Bill.

And to quell the growing agitations by senators who expressed readiness to override the president’s veto on the bills, the Senate President Bukola Saraki quickly declared that the upper chamber would seek legal advice before taking further step on the matter.

While the action of the acting president signals a rising assertion of his authority, it is also an early indication of potential frosty relations between him and the National Assembly. Thus, unless the two arms of government can mutually resolve the matter, it will adversely affect governance.

Osinbajo explained that “The rationale for withholding assent to the Lottery Amendment Bill is the existence of pending legal challenge to the competence of the National Assembly to legislate on the subject matter.”

The National Assembly had, in amending the Lottery Act, transferred the power to grant licences to lottery operators from states to the Federal Government for the purpose of boosting federal revenue.

On the Currency Conversion Bill, Osinbajo said: “The rationale for withholding assent to the bill is the concern regarding the modalities for the communication of asset forfeiture orders.”

The National Assembly’s motive for amending the Currency Conversion Act (Freezing Orders) was to transfer the power of the President and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor on asset forfeiture to the law courts. The amendment sought to whittle down the powers of the president to order the forfeiture of assets and transfer such powers to the court.

On the Dangerous Drug Amendment Bill, the acting president said he withheld his assent as a result of certain words and phrases that might be inconsistent with the spirit behind the amendment.

Osinbajo also said he rejected the bill on Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund because of funding concerns and composition of the board. “The reason for withholding assent to the bill are the concerns surrounding board composition, funding arrangements, limitation of liability of funds and proposal to increase levels of uncollateralised loans from N5,000 to N250,000.”

After the letters had been read in the Senate by Saraki, a point of order was raised by Dino Melaye who quoted extensively from the 1999 Constitution and claimed that the action of the acting president and the executive branch of government had injured the principle of separation of powers.

“The role of the executive is to carry out their traditional role by signing any bill passed by the National Assembly,” Melaye claimed, insisting that the action of the acting president, if allowed to stand, would constitute a grave danger to democracy in the country and undermine the powers of the parliament.

“The National Assembly shall make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the exclusive list set out in part one of the second schedule of this constitution.

“The role of the executive is to carry out their fundamental objective by signing anything that has been passed by this House and anyone who has a problem with it can go to court in compliance with the provisions of section 6 of the constitution. May it not be a bad day for democracy if we keep quite and allow the powers of the legislature to be usurped by the non-compliance with the provisions of the constitution.”

George Sekibo, in his own reaction, reminded the lawmakers that they have the power to override the acting president if they are not satisfied with his decision.

Saraki said the decision of Osinbajo would be examined by the legal team of the Senate after which appropriate steps would be taken on the issue.
“ I think the procedure is that we would refer this to our legal department to give us advice or interpretation on some of the things that you have raised for us to be properly guided. But I agree with you that it is a matter that we must take seriously because it goes down to the issue of separation of powers. We would get the opinion of the legal department,” he said.

Also yesterday, the House of Representatives hinted that it may override Osinbajo. The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara who informed his colleagues of the refusal by the acting president to assent to the bills mandated the House Committee on Justice to scrutinise the basis for his decision.

The House leader, Femi Gbajabiamila who spoke in the same vein enjoined the House to read through Osinbajo’s observation before taking a final stand on the bills.

Dogara said the House would be left with no option than muster the required support to override the acting president if the need arises.


Source: The Guardian

“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

Osinbajo refuses to sign 4 bills, returns them to Senate

The Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday refused to assent four bills and returned them to the NASS for correction.

Senate President Bukola Saraki read the letters today at Senate plenary.

The four bills are: Dangerous Drugs Amendment Bill 2016, National Lottery Amendment Bill 2016, Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund 2016, and Currency Conversion Freezing Order Amendment Bill 2016.


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

BREAKING: Senator Andy Uba Officially Defects To The APC

Senator Andy Uba formerly of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has officially defected to the All Progressive Congress (APC).

This was made known by the official Twitter account of the Nigerian Senate this morning which stated that the announcement was made by the Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Further details of the defection will be communicated as it unfolds.


Senate challenges EFCC to investigate NNPC, CBN, finance ministry.

A senate committee has challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate officials of the finance ministry, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The lawmakers threw the gauntlet at Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the EFCC, on Monday when he appeared before the senate committee on anti-corruption and financial crimes for the 2017 budget defence.

Isa Misau, a member of the committee, urged the EFCC to pay attention to unoccupied houses in Abuja, saying a lot of transactions are made on them with “ill-gotten money”.

Misau said the $9.8million and other sums recovered at the residence of Andrew Yakubu, former group managing director of NNPC, was one case out of many.

“Today, I am giving it as a challenge to the EFCC to go and see what the NNPC or CBN or the finance ministry is doing,” he said.

“This is an era of whistle-blowing. I am blowing my whistle: go and check CBN. That is the reason why, today, we have (this) recession. Today, dollar, at the parallel market, is N520. And there are allegations against the CBN; the way they give these dollars.

“This committee is challenging the EFCC to go and look at these records: what is our revenue in dollars? Who are the people collecting these dollars?

“Go and see unoccupied buildings in Asokoro, Maitama and Wuse 2 (all in Abuja). For over five years, nobody will be there (in the buildings). And EFCC is not looking at these houses. A lot of transactions are taking place with ill-gotten money to the tune of N2bn or N3bn, and somebody will bring the money in cash to buy a house.

“Without digging into these landed properties and knowing their owners, you may end up being only after somebody who just left office, and arresting and detaining them for one week, and they will get bailed. And the business continues.”

Misau also complained about the short detention period of suspected looters, noting that the senate was ready to work with the EFCC to establish a law that will empower it to detain such persons for up to a year.

He urged the anti-graft agency to go after federal bureaucrats and directors of government agencies, saying most of them were billionaires.

“We want a situation whereby you will get the cooperation of judges. I see no reason why somebody will take (steal) billions and after two days with the EFCC, they will be granted bail,” Misau said.

“If we need another law that once it has to do with government money, we can keep such person with EFCC for one year; if there are certain laws you want, where you can detain somebody for one year, we are ready.

“Go and check the houses in Maitama, Wuse 2 and Asokoro. How did they (the owners) get the money? Check the directors, who are still serving; they are all billionaires. I can mention more than 30 directors; they are still serving and they are billionaires.”


Source: The Cable

AMCON takeover of Arik Air “necessary but belated”, says Nigerian Senate

The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions yesterday reviewed the ugly details that crippled the operations of Arik Air and submitted that the intervention announced by the Federal Government last week was late and belated.

The committee, which however expressed support for the intervention noted that the airline could have averted the unfortunate situation if it had paid attention to issues of financial management and applied best practices fiscal management.

Chairman of the committee, Rafiu Ibrahim said the Senate had always stood in support of policies that would promote the welfare and living standards of Nigerians.

AMCON’s Managing Director, Ahmed Kuru, revealed that contrary to earlier claims, the troubled airline is owing AMCON N147 billion and other local banks to the tune of at least N165 billion adding that the foreign debts of the airline stood at $81 million.

The AMCON boss also told the committee members that the airline is owing over 2,000 staff seven months salary arrears. He said negotiations were currently ongoing on how to immediately resolve the arrears.

Kuru also revealed that of the 30 aircraft owned by Arik, only 10 were operational. According to him, the airline frequently relied on collection of ticket fees from passengers before they could buy aviation fuel. He partly blamed the incessant cancellation and delay of flight on its inability to buy aviation fuel.

Kuru, while dismissing claims that the Federal Government was planning to make the airline a national carrier, said it was too problematic for any government to handle.

He said within the next two to three weeks, the new management of the airline will put 15 to 16 aircraft back to the 18 nationwide routes.

He said: “Within the next two to three weeks, Arik Air should have up to 15 or 16 aircrafts flying. Arik Air cannot compete internationally.

They do not have the kind of services other airlines have.

“Despite all the things we have done to ensure that Arik Air stays in business, they have not done their part in meeting their own obligations.

“They have refused to pay salaries and also refused to ensure that their loans are repaid. We could not just sit back and allow an important airline with about 30 aircrafts and covers 55 per cent of all routes in Nigeria to go down. From the records, Arik makes over N7 billion annually.’’

Newly appointed chief executive officer of the airline, Mr. Roy Ilegbodu, who described the state of the airline as alarming disclosed that its performance stood at 15 per cent as against 25 per cent minimal requirement in the aviation sector.
Apart from AMCON, Arik is also currently indebted to Standard Chartered, Zenith Bank, Ecobank and Access Bank.

The Cable: Gender equality bill does not seek to erode the rights of men

Contrary to the belief that the gender equality bill seeks to violate religious laws, the legislation just promotes fairness and justice for both sexes and adherents of all religions in Nigeria.

Biodun Olujimi, a senator from Ekiti state, first presented  the bill in March 2016, but it was shot down by a faction of senators led by Ahmed Yerima from Zamfara state.

Yerima had said the bill was against the tenets of sharia law because it proposed to erode men’s rights by eliminating discrimination in areas of marriage, divorce, education, employment opportunities, ownership of property and inheritance.

He was supported by senators like Adamu Aliero (Kebbi state) and Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba state).
Majority of the senators voted that the bill be trashed.

Senate President Bukola Saraki had assured Nigerians, who protested the non-passage of the bill, that it could be re-introduced after being reworked to pull out paragraphs that an all-male opposition described as offensive.

Olujimi reintroduced it to the senate five months later, precisely in September, rewording certain parts that were considered “offensive”.


Olujimi at the red chamber


This time, with watered down contents, it scaled through second reading. Yet some people received it with angst. Sa’ad Abubakar, the sultan of Sokoto, rejected the bill.

The sultan, who is the president-general of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs(NSCIA), had rejected the bill on the premise that it negates the principles of Islam.

But it wasn’t only the Sultan opposed the bill, Muslim women under the body of federation of Muslim women association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) aligned with the sentiments of the monarch.

“The share of a woman or girls is not necessarily equal to that of their female counterparts who are also partaking in the inheritance. There are situations that a woman takes more share than a man. See Quran 4:11-12”, the group had held.

But the bill, long titled “A bill for an Act to Incorporate and enforce certain provisions of the United Nations Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, the Protocol of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the rights of women in Africa, and other matters connected therewith, 2016 (SB. 301)”, rather than violate Islamic laws, buttresses chapters 2 and 4 of the constitution, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa.


The sultan


The bill is also to give effect to the international convention on human right which affirms the principle of non-discrimination and that all human beings are born free, equal in dignity and rights, and that everyone is entitled to all the rights set out without distinction of any kind including distinction based on sex.


The bill is an act to incorporate and enforce certain provisions of the united nations convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, the protocol to the African charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in Africa.

If passed, the bill will stop any person, public or private organisation from discriminating through words spoken, acts, inactions, omissions, laws, regulations, administrative procedures, policies, guidelines, rules, customs or practices discriminate against any person on the ground of gender, age or disability.

It seeks to void any law, custom or practice which constitutes discrimination. The bill will ensure that that no individual or institution rules or directive which is in violation of the bill shall be enforced against any person.

The bill also seeks to accord women, children and other persons equality before the law. It guarantees women equal right to conclude contracts and administer property and seeks to treat women equally with men in all stages of court proceedings.

The bill also seeks to ensure that no legal contracts restricts or discriminates against anyone in terms of legal capacity and seeks to stop any individual, public or private organisation from denying women any benefits just because she is a woman.


The gender equality bill requires that pregnant women and mothers of children two years and below gets access to free medical care to reduce maternal and infant mortality.

The bill seeks to reserve a minimum of 35 percent of all offices or positions for women in political and public administration to encourage more women in positions and decision-making circles.


The bill seeks to ensure that the values, practices and forms of upbringing of children in the family or community is not discriminatory and promotes a proper understanding of maternity as social functions and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children.

It seeks to abolish unfair, humiliating and degrading treatment of widows and guarantees a widow’s right to guardianship and custody of her children after the death of her husband unless it is contrary to the best interest and welfare of the child.

The bill also seeks to protect the widow’s right to marry the person she wants, inherit her husband’s property and continue to live in her matrimonial home, and in the case of re-marriage, retain the house if it belongs to her.
The gender equality bill seeks to ensure that children, regardless of their sex, can equitably inherit property of their parents.


The bill seeks to ensure that every individual, public or private organisation takes all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life. This means that women and men have equal access to political activities, can vote and be voted for, participate in the formulation of policies and implementation.
The bill seeks equal conditions for women regarding educational career and vocational guidance. It seeks the elimination of stereotypes of roles of men and women at all level of education and encourage coeducation.


Rita Dominic, Nollywood actress, leading a protest


The bill seeks to ensure that organisations, private or public, uphold the right of both sexes to work and stop the discrimination of women in the employment occupation or profession. It seeks to protect the right of women to equal opportunities, including the same application criteria and the right to work commensurate with skill and competence.

The bill, if passed, will promote right to free choice of employment and equal treatment and consideration in the areas of promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of services. The right to equal remuneration of persons of equal skill, competence, expertises and knowledge.

The right to paid maternity leave or any such leave relating to her maternity need, right to sick leave or concession relating to her maternity needs. Be given equal opportunity to represent organs of organisations, public and private in any official capacity to represent Nigeria,

The bill seeks to empower the National Human Rights Commission to enforce and implement the provisions of the bill and stipulate consequences for the violation of the laws enshrined in the bill.


Source: The Cable

“How can you raise only N620k from culture sector?”, Senate queries Lai Mohammed.

The senate on Tuesday queried Lai Mohammed, minister of information, culture and tourism, over the poor revenue generated from the culture and entertainment industry in 2016 and misappropriation of funds.

At a budget defence session on Tuesday, the senate committee on culture and tourism said that it was unfortunate that the ministry presented only N620,000 as total revenue generated in 2016.

Matthew Urhoghide, chairman, senate committee on culture and tourism, said that the senate was not happy with the revenue.

“Budget is not just about expenditure. No one is talking about revenue. We need revenue profile. Each time you come, only expenditure is mentioned. How can you say is N620,000.00 that was raised by your ministry from the culture sector?

“We must exhaust all the avenues to generate funds internally. We seriously frown at the low and poor IGR. We query it. You must look inward because this is not acceptable.”

Urhoghide also queried the minister for misdirecting funds budgeted for land acquisition saying that the senate budgeted N60m to acquire lands in Lagos, Adamawa and Edo states to establish cultural industries.

He said Mohammed used the money released to acquire lands in only Lagos and Adamawa states, adding that the minister reduced the states to three when the initial budget was supposed to accommodate six states.

In his defence, Mohammed said the problems of proper and full implementation of the budget were due to inadequate appropriation and delay in the release of funds, cumbersome nature of procurement process, and the challenge of partial release of appropriated amount.

He called for the placement of culture and tourism on the residual list, saying that the current structure makes it difficult for the government to regulate the sector.

“There are several challenges/constraints militating against the smooth implementation of the required programmes/projects. Some of these are inadequate appropriation; delay in the release of funds; cumbersome nature of procurement process; partial release of appropriated amount; late passage of Appropriation Act; placement of culture and tourism on the residual list, which has made it difficult to regulate the sector; lack of political will to develop the sector and absence of convention bureau to attract big-time events to Nigeria as a tourism destination,” he said.

N2bn housing scheme in 2017 budget not our project – Fashola to senate

Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing, has disowned the sum of N2bn allocated to regional housing scheme in the 2017 budget proposal of his ministry.

Appearing before the senate committee on housing and urban development on Tuesday, Fashola said the scheme entitled “family homes” and numbered FMOW99934089 was an initiative of the finance ministry.

He explained that his ministry did not submit proposals for the project in its budget.

“It is not our project. It came in from, I think, the budget (office). It is a ministry of finance initiative; saying that they want to do what they called ‘family homes’. It is not from us,” Fashola said.

“That is why I have come. I am explaining to you now, sir, on how it comes into our budget. That is not what we submitted. We didn’t submit that proposal.”

Barnabas Gemade, chairman of the committee, while querying the regional housing programme, said government could not be operated in secrecy.

He requested that Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, should be invited to explain the housing programme.

“What is this provision of N2bn for regional housing scheme? What is regional housing scheme? Where is it taking place? What is happening? Have you seen it on Page 18?,” Gemade asked.

“Let us know what is regional housing programme because government cannot be operated in secrecy.

“Write to the minister, we have seen this line, which costs N2 billion. Let them send information here for us to know what it is all about,” he said.

NJC wants Onnoghen to continue as Acting CJ pending Senate confirmation

Hours after the presidency confirmed that Walter Onnoghen’s name had been sent to the Senate for confirmation as Nigeria’s Chief Justice, the National Judicial Council, NJC, asked that he remains in acting capacity until his confirmation.

Mr. Onnoghen was due to vacate his role as acting chief justice on February 10 unless he was confirmed as substantive chief justice or his acting role was renewed based on a recommendation of the NJC.

The NJC after its meeting on Wednesday wrote to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo seeking continuation of Mr. Onnoghen’s role as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, multiple officials sources told PREMIUM TIMES.

The NJC recommendation will enable Mr. Onnoghen continue in acting position pending his confirmation as substantive Chief Justice by the Senate.

“The NJC wrote to the acting president today in order to beat the deadline of the expiration of the previous letter and for him to continue acting as the CJN while awaiting confirmation by the Senate,” a top judiciary official told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Osinbajo dispatched a notice of Mr. Onnoghen’s nomination to the Senate.

“Hon. Justice W.S. Onnoghen’s name has been sent to the Senate for confirmation as the next CJN,” the presidency said in a tweet shortly before noon Wednesday.

The announcement came four months after Mr. Onnoghen was first recommended to Mr. Buhari as the next head of the country’s judiciary.

The president had until February 10 to recommend Mr. Onnoghen as substantive chief justice or the latter loses the position based on a constitutional provision.

The president’s delay in nominating Mr. Onnoghen as substantive chief judge despite the NJC recommendation fuelled allegations of ethnic bias and criticisms against Mr. Buhari.


Although, like many Nigerians, the Senate keenly anticipated Mr. Onnoghen’s nomination for weeks, it will not reconvene to quickly deliberate on his fate, sources said.

The Senate embarked on a three-week recess on January 26 to give members extra time to work on the 2017 budget which is still under consideration in both chambers of the parliament.

But multiple senators in separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES acknowledged that the Senate received the president’s letter on Mr. Onnoghen, but his confirmation hearing could wait until lawmakers returned from recess on February 21.

“Today is Wednesday and no message has gone out to senators that they must reconvene by tomorrow,” the source said. “Clearly, that tells you that we won’t be doing anything about it this week.”

“The letter we received will not be read on the floor of the Senate until February 21.”

Another senator said there was no need to expedite the process, especially as the NJC had written to the presidency seeking an extension of Mr. Onnoghen’s role as acting chief justice.

“I learnt that the NJC already wrote to the president that the judge should continue acting until we confirm him,” the source said. “Frankly, I don’t see the need for any rush.”

The Senate had also refused to cut short its recess despite receiving a letter from President Buhari to extend his medical vacation in the UK.

Senate spokesperson Aliyu Sabi said the lawmakers would only discuss the president’s letter after their resumption on February 21.

Poised for confirmation 

A member of Senate judiciary committee told PREMIUM TIMES Mr. Onnoghen “will most likely be confirmed” because “we know him as an incorruptible and upright judge.”

“He is qualified to head the Supreme Court and we will give him all the support he needs to scale through,” the source said.

Mr. Onnoghen’s nomination is likely to be forwarded to the Senate Judiciary Committee for initial actions, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

Controversy trails suspension of APC federal lawmaker

Some All Progressives Congress, APC, loyalists and officials in Malumfashi and Kafur Local Government Areas of Katsina State have disassociated themselves from the purported suspension of a federal lawmaker, Babangida Ibrahim-Mahuta.

Mr. Ibrahim-Mahuta, who represents Malumfashi/Kafur Federal Constituency, was suspended by his party on Tuesday over comments he allegedly made during the just-concluded North West APC stakeholders meeting in Katsina.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that his suspension was announced by the APC Chairmen of Malumfashi and Kafur Local Government Areas.

He was also accused of abandoning his constituency and refusing to participate in party activities among others.

However, some of the party loyalists and officials faulted the decision, saying it negates the principle of fair hearing.

Addressing journalists on Wednesday, Kabir Tela and Surajo Ibrahim, the APC Chairmen of Dayi and Gora Wards in Malumfashi local government described the suspension as “unfortunate and undesirable.”

According to them, the lawmaker, who is also the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Finance, is representing the constituency well.

The duo also claimed that they were lured into signing the attendance register of the meeting which purportedly endorsed the suspension.

They also argued that the lawmaker was not allowed to defend himself of the allegations, as such he must be given an opportunity to do so, to ensure fairness.

The two ward leaders, therefore, disassociated themselves from the suspension, describing it as “selfish”.

According to them, the remarks made by the lawmaker during the stakeholders meeting on which he was suspended reflected the true feelings of loyal party members.

Also, Suleiman Bello, the APC Secretary, Karfi Ward, who spoke on behalf of ward level party secretaries, disassociated himself from the suspension.

He urged the party leadership at the state level to investigate and ensure strict compliance to the APC constitution.

Mr. Bello claimed that the suspension order violated Section 21 (3) of the party’s constitution, and was a distraction to Governor Aminu Masari’s efforts to unite the party.

Other officials including Magaji Ayaga, Ashiru Abubakar, Mansur Umar, Muntari Ado and Amina Rabi’u said the suspension would only destabilise the party and erode its progress.

However, the APC Chairmen of Malumfashi and Kafur local governments, Yahuza Adamu and Sama’ila Garba, respectively, said the suspension order was issued after complying with party’s guidelines.

They added that the suspension letter had been forwarded to the APC state secretariat through the party’s zonal office.

Responding to NAN inquiries, the APC Zonal Vice-Chairman in charge of Katsina South Senatorial District, Bala Abubakar, confirmed receipt of the letter, but declined further comment.

When contacted on the matter, the embattled lawmaker, Mr. Ibrahim-Mahuta, said that he was not consulted to respond to the issues.


Source: NAN

Don’t incite the public against us, senate warns Amaechi.

Abdullahi Sabi, spokesman of the senate, says a comment credited to Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transport, on a loan for the country’s railway, is an attempt to incite the public against the upper legislative chamber.

On Monday, Amaechi said the $7.5 billion loan which the federal government had secured for a standard rail gauge from Lagos to Kano was part of the $30 billion loan before the national assembly for approval.

He told the people to join the federal government in appealing to the senate to approve the loan.

But in a statement on Wednesday, Sabi said the comment was “false, misrepresenting and contradictory to available facts”.

He said it also showed that the minister was not in tune with the position of the government he is serving.

The senate spokesman advised Amaechi to withdraw the statement.

“Furthermore, the national assembly will take up the matter with the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo,” Sabi said.

“As of today, the only request for approval from the executive for loan was the one dated January 27, 2017 and signed by acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo seeking a ‘resolution of the national assembly for the issuance of USD 1 Billion EuroBond In the international capital market for the funding of the 2016 budget deficit’ and we immediately granted the approval.

“Also, in the letter quoted above, the government mentioned the two rail lines cited by the minister as part of the projects for which the EuroBond will be utilised. So, we cannot understand what the grouse of Mr. Amaechi is.

“As a former speaker of a state house of assembly, we believe that a minister like Amaechi should always check his facts and refrain from making unguarded and inciting remarks against the legislature.

“What Nigeria needs at this point is for all arms of government to work together and create the synergy necessary to take Nigeria out of the present economic crisis we have found ourselves.

“Comments designed to infuriate one arm of government or incite the people against another arm of the government will do no one any good and we do not expect such statements from a minister in the present government.”

Senate, lawyers split over vacuum in presidency.

The inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to resume duties on February 6 as contained in his earlier vacation letter to the Senate has triggered a debate over the legitimacy of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo to continue to act on his behalf.

Also, the debate forecloses the effort to get the appointment of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen confirmed by the Senate, since there is no one, ‘legally’ speaking, that would forward his name to the upper chamber.

Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution says: “Whenever the president transmits to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such functions shall be discharged by the vice-president as acting president.”

Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, says that since the president did not return on February 6 as he promised and the letter he ‘purportedly’ transmitted to the National Assembly informing of his extended vacation on ground of ill health has not been read on the floor of the Senate to form its votes and proceedings, the legal capacity of Osinbajo ended midnight February 6, 2017.He said: “That ‘letter’ has not been seen by anyone, in order to determine its authenticity and its real author. When travelling in January, President Buhari personally transmitted a letter to the National Assembly, notifying them of a specific 10-day vacation, which ended on February 6, 2017. This letter was duly read and became part and parcel of the votes and proceedings of the National Assembly.

“The new ‘letter’ has not been read on the floors of either chambers of the National Assembly, to make it part of its votes and proceedings. Somehow, as if acting out a clever script, the Senate had hurriedly adjourned its sitting to February 24, ever before the ‘letter’ for an extended vacation arrived. So legally, the ‘letter’ is cooling somewhere in the National Assembly, just another letter, without any force of law. A letter transmitted to the National Assembly must be read at the plenary session to become binding.”

According to the lawyer, the implication is that there is neither president nor acting president at the moment, and since the acting president did not forward the name of Justice Onnoghen to the Senate before February 6, there is no one to do so anymore, even if the National Judicial Council (NJC) re-nominates him for the office in compliance with section 231(5) of the 1999 constitution.

“The tenure of the acting CJN will lapse on February 10, 2017. As of this night, the NJC has not met to consider recommending Onnoghen for renewal as acting CJN. The NJC cannot do this after February 6, 2017, as there will be no president or acting president, to receive such recommendation,” Adegboruwa insisted.

If this remains the true state of affairs, it means until the president resumes or the Senate breaks off from its vacation on February 24 to read the president’s second letter transmitting power to his deputy, the country shall run without either acting or substantive head of state. Also, at the expiration of the acting tenure of Justice Onnoghen on February 10, the judiciary shall remain without a clear leadership, leaving the legislature as the only legally functional of the three arms of government.But the former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Abia State, Awa Kalu (SAN) disagreed. According to him, there is no vacuum because the tenure of the acting president still subsists.

Kalu said: “Only the Senate president or his spokesman duly recognised by the Senate can comment that they don’t have an authentic letter from the president. The Senate is an institution which has an office and secretariat. It is not a house where you can lock and go away. The information we have is that the president has extended his vacation and has informed the Senate accordingly. So, I don’t have a contrary opinion. Section 145 of the 1999 constitution does not say it must be read on the floor of the house.”

Also, former president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Austin Alegeh (SAN) agreed with Kalu. He said the president had extended the time he would be out of the country and by implication had extended the time his vice would act.

“What the law requires is a notification that he is not going to be around and that somebody would be acting on his behalf. And once that letter has been transmitted, he has complied with the law,” he stated.

Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo, in the same vein maintained that the letter doesn’t have to be read to take effect. “It doesn’t need the approval of the Senate. All the law requires is that he transmits a letter to the Senate and once he does that, it is alright,” Keyamo declared.

Meanwhile, the Senate has confirmed that the letter through which Buhari extended his leave is in the custody of the Senate President Bukola Saraki.

At a press conference in Abuja yesterday, the spokesman of the upper chamber, Aliu Saabi Abdullahi said the letter was in compliance with the dictates of the law and the constitution of Nigeria.

But a question on who signed the letter threw Abdullahi into a fit of anger as he condemned what he called an insinuation that the Senate was not truthful about its declaration that the letter was in its custody.He said: “With due respect, I found the last comment very uncomplimentary to the president. I have no apology for that. If he’s there, can’t he write a letter and forward it to the Senate by DHL?

“If at this level we cannot trust ourselves to do certain basic things, then why should I trust you? I think it’s important we give ourselves some level of respect and trust. We are telling you a letter has been signed and sent to us. Are you saying that the Senate is not an institution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? I am speaking to you here on behalf of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“This is not the first letter Mr. President will be communicating to us. Are you saying that if we received a letter from Mr. President and we say we received a letter from him we don’t know what we are saying?”

When asked about the return date of the president, Abdullahi said: “The letter didn’t say that the leave is indefinite because the word ‘indefinite’ is taking the matter out of context, but then the president said he’s extending the leave beyond the 10 days he had asked for.”

The Senate spokesman said the decision on when President Buhari would return to Nigeria “is not in my hands but in the hands of the doctors. That is why the president is not giving us a date.”

On when the letter was received, Abdullahi said: “The letter was received by Saraki and I was briefed today (Tuesday). It was either yesterday or today they received it.”Also yesterday, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said there was no basis for comparison between the on-going situation over Buhari’s leave and what took place when the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was ill and flown abroad for treatment. He insisted that Buhari was well.

Mohammed was reacting to a trending report on social media where a comment he made in December 2009 has become the butt of comments and jokes.

“Yes, I issued a statement on the 22nd of December (2009), but the circumstances are vastly different. Mr. President is not ill; Mr. President did not go for treatment; Mr. President went on leave and did the proper thing according to the constitution.”

In a statement issued as National Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress (AC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed had said the situation then where ministers and aides of the president gave out uncoordinated information on his health, was doing more harm than good. He urged that the citizens should be given a daily update on the health of Yar’Adua.

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.

Senate Working On Bill To Legalise Constituency Projects

The Senate is working on a bill which would ensure that 2.5% of funds generated in the federation is set aside for constituency projects.


The bill, called the Constituencies Development Catalyst Fund Bill, if passed into law, would give legal backing for the deduction of funds intended for constituency projects.


Speaking at a public hearing in Abuja, the sponsor of the bill, Senator Buhari Abdulfatai described as regrettable, allegations that lawmakers siphon monies meant for constituency intervention projects.


He said that constituency projects are handled by the executive and not the legislature, adding that those who make such allegations have little or no knowledge of the workings of the legislature.


Source: Channels TV

SGF Babachir Lawal appears before Senate committee

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs on Monday, days after he failed to honour the committee’s initial invitation to defend his office’s proposed budget for 2017.

The initial schedule for Mr. Lawal to defend his office’s proposed budget of N9.88 billion was last Thursday.

He was represented by the permanent secretary (general services), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mohammaed Bukar, whose appearance was rejected by the committee which insisted that Mr. Lawal must appear in person.

On Monday when he eventually appeared, Mr. Lawal said his initial absence was a result of the death of the wife of the Sports Minister. But his absence fueled suspicions that he took the decision as a result of his ongoing row with the Senate.

The Senate had last year asked President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve Mr. Lawal of his position and get him prosecuted after the legislature accused him of breaching the country’s law and code of conduct for public officers in handling of a “grass cutting” contract awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, PINE, under his office.

Mr. Babachir later dismissed the Senate as saying “balderdash” and accused the lawmakers of desperation to “pull him down”.

In January, the president replied the Senate, saying Mr. Lawal was not given fair hearing and that the report of the Senate committee that indicted Mr. Lawal was a minority report as it was allegedly signed by three of nine members of the committee led by Shehu Sani.

But, Mr. Sani lambasted the president and his anti-corruption campaign.

Then, the Senate vowed to release a full report and that it would prove the culpability of Mr. Lawal when it resumed later this month.

During his appearance before the Tijani Kaura-led committee on Monday, Mr. Lawal said that out of the N9.9 billion proposed for his office, N3.4 billion was proposed for personnel costs, while N3.8billion was proposed for overhead, representing a N2 billion increase from the 2016 provision.

He said the amount proposed for overhead was meant for activities and programmes of other offices headed by various permanent secretaries in his office, as well as funding of activities and programmes of political office holders such as the special advisers and senior special assistants to the president.

He added that N2.7 billion would go to capital projects.

He however decried the provision for his office as inadequate.

Following questions from the Senators, Mr. Lawal assured that funds to care of former leaders had been “sufficiently” budgeted.

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

“I cannot wear customs uniform”, CG Hameed Ali tells Senate.

The senate committee on customs and excise duties on Thursday told Hameed Ali to wear the uniform of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to show his designation as comptroller-general (CG).

The committee had summoned Ali to explain the reason for the promotion and the sacking of officers without the approval of a board.

Speaking at the session,  Obinna Ogba, a senator from Ebonyi central, wondered why Ali would carry on the duties of CG in civilian attire.

“Mr CG, this committee will like to know the reason why you are still in mufti close to two years after your appointment as the comptroller-general of Nigeria Custom Service,” he asked.

In response, Ali explained that his reason for not wearing the uniform is because he is a retired army officer.

He said it was against military tradition for him to wear the uniform of another organisation.

His response irked Ogba, who said, “this is how you people keep deceiving Nigerians on wrong action and still defending it,” before exiting the session.

Also, Hope Uzodinma, chairman of the committee and senator from Imo west, faulted the decision of the customs boss to promote and fire officers without recourse to a board.

He said it was illegal of the CG to carry out such administrative assignments without a board in place.

But Ali blamed the ministry of finance for the delay in the constitution of a board for the NCS.

In response, Uzodinma assured him that the committee would send a letter to the ministry and other relevant bodies for the immediate constitution of the NCS board.

“You claimed that the minister of finance is the one delaying the composition of the board, this committee will write a letter straight away to the minister, secretary to the government of the federation and attorney general of federation to put the board in place without any further delay,” he said?.

“We are releasing you to go and sew your uniform while we continue with officials of ministry of finance and Central Bank? of Nigeria (CBN).”

Senator Ali Ndume gets new role.

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday created two more standing committees to oversee Sustainable Development Goals and Federal Road Maintenance Agency, and replaced the leadership of three others.


Mr. Saraki, just before the Senate adjourned plenary on Thursday, named former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, APC-Borno, chairman of the committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, replacing Abba Kyari, now appointed chair of the committee on defence.


The chairmanship of the defence committee was vacated by Ahmed Lawan, who replaced Mr. Ndume as the Senate Leader.


George Sekibo, PDP-Rivers, was named the chairman of the committee on interior. Mr. Sekibo returned to the Senate in December after he won in the December Rivers legislative rerun polls.


The two new committees on FERMA and SGDs are to be headed by Attai Aidoko, PDP-Kogi, and Mr. Abe respectively, Mr. Saraki announced.


According to the website of the National Assembly, the Senate had 67 committees before the creation of the ones of SDGs and FERMA yesterday by Mr. Saraki.


Source: Premium Times

Senators pick holes in 2017 budget, set to conclude scrutiny today.

The 2017 N7.29 trillion budget proposal was subjected to critical scrutiny at the Senate yesterday with senators picking holes in several sectorial allocations. Some lawmakers maintained that Federal Government’s plan to diversify the economy did not get the desired attention in the budget.

Many senators also observed that it might be impossible for government to get the projected borrowing to fund the budget, stating that similar 2016 projections were not realised.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over the debate, disclosed that the budget scrutiny would be concluded today and it would be committed to the Appropriation Committee.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Lanre Tejuoso (APC, Ogun Central), lamented that 11 million Nigerian children have not been fully developed due to inadequate funds to the health sector.

Aliyu Wammako said the budget failed to adequately address the issue of diversification of the economy. “We have agriculture and solid mineral sectors. They have not been addressed well.”

Dino Melaye described Buhari’s government as visionless. “The government of Shehu Shagari built estates in all the states. Sani Abacha developed the Vision 2010. Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan all had their agenda. What is the agenda of this current government? We need to define one.”

John Enoh from Cross River State urged the president to sustain the ongoing peace efforts in the Niger Delta region if enough funds must be generated from oil to fund the budget.

Deputy Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi, said the budget failed to address how the country will be taken out of its current economic recession.

Solomon Adeola from Lagos State queried the non-disclosure of excess money realised from the sale of crude oil. He said since the 2016 budget was predicated on an oil benchmark of $38, the government needs to tell Nigerians how much it had realised from the excess money made.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas, Albert Bassey Akpan, decried the borrowing plan of the Federal Government and disclosed that the deficit in the budget is the same as the amount budgeted for capital projects.

Gbenga Ashafa (APC, Lagos State) urged his colleagues to examine the performance of the 2016 budget before they give nod to the passage of the 2017 budget.

Allegations Against Magu Were Cooked Up – Sagay

Itse Sagay, a professor of law, says the senate victimised Ibrahim Magu, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by refusing to confirm him.

The chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption (PACAC) said the allegations against Magu were concocted to give a wrong impression about the anti-graft boss.

He said senator Shehu Sani, as a human rights activist, should have defended Magu’s honour when his nomination as EFCC chairman was being rejected by the Senate.

Sani had on Wednesday defended the senate’s indictment of Babachir Lawal, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), over corruption allegations.

The senator said Lawal was invited to appear before the committee, and that the secretary of the SGF acknowledged the invitation.

“Corruption in the Judiciary and others is treated with insecticide while corruption in the Presidency is treated with deodorant,” Sani had said.

In reaction, Sagay told The Nation that, “With regards to the SGF, I don’t really know much about that. My own view is that they should give him a hearing and if at the end of it, they consider that he’s liable, then they should come to the conclusion and condemn him if they want. But they should give him a hearing. That’s all.

“I don’t really know the basis of that comment he made. I think it’s a political statement. It’s not factual.

“He’s a political antagonist of his own party. He doesn’t get on well with the governor of his state, and he doesn’t get on with the Federal Government. So it is his political battle that is colouring his statement. It’s not factual.

“I don’t know too much about the Secretary to the Federal Government, I must confess that. I don’t know much about that.

“But I know the case of Magu thoroughly. And the allegations are spurious. There is no reality in them. The whole thing was distorted to give a wrong impression about Magu.

“The allegations are all false. He did not rent a flat by himself; he was put in a house by government. So what is his business if government paid more than it should have paid?

“It’s all just cooked up to prevent him from being appointed. So I don’t see why a senator should attack the presidency for returning Magu’s nomination to the Senate.

“I expected Senator Sani as a human rights person, as far as I know, a person from the civil society, that he should have stood up for the truth. He should have known that Magu was victimised deliberately. He should have stood against that.

“He should have stood for the oppressed person who has been doing a marvelous work in the fight against corruption. But this time he stood on the wrong side.

“Maybe the Senate has its own interest which is contrary to the interest of the country. And he’s standing with that Senate in that regard. So, that’s his business.”




Senator Omoyele Omogunwa asks Nigerian Senate to legalize corruption.

Omoyele Omogunwa, a senator from Ondo state, has called for the legalisation of corruption in the country.


Speaking on the floor of the u?pper legislative chamber on Wednesday, Omogunwa lamented that corruption was pervasive in the country. He argued that it should be “legalised”.


He said there was corruption in the judiciary, and even within the anti-corruption ?agencies.


He said if corruption was legalised, Nigerians who stole public funds would use them in building factories and industries in the country, instead of having them stashed away abroad.


Omogunwa said this while making his contributing to the debate on the 2017 budget.


He added that the performance of the 2016 budget should be examined first before that of 2017 is determined.


The official twitter handle of the senate also confirmed Omogunwa’s suuggestion, writing: “Senator Omogunwa notes that Budgets doesn’t have maximal impact due to corruption. He says corruption shld be legalized/liberalized then.”


See tweet below:


Uproar in Senate over Buhari’s support for Babachir, Magu.

There was uproar at the Senate yesterday over President Muhammadu Buhari’s continued support for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir and the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.

In two separate letters read by Senate President Bukola Saraki, President Buhari pointed out perceived flaws in the resolutions of the upper legislative chamber last December against Babachir and Magu.

Among the complaints is that the Senate committee breached the rule of fair hearing by refusing to invite Babachir to any of its sections. The presidency also alleged that the report on which the lawmakers based their decision was interim not the final report.

The uneasy calm in the chamber as Saraki read the letter suddenly broke into uproar when he attempted to cut short a remark by the chairman of the ad hoc committee that investigated and indicted the SGF, Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central). The lawmakers resorted to chanting “Go ahead! Go ahead!! Go ahead!!!” to encourage Sani to continue his remark despite Saraki’s interjection.

When calm returned, Sani described the president’s letter against the Senate’s resolution on Babachir as “a funeral service of the anti-corruption war”.

According to him, the anti-graft campaign is so selective to the extent that when it has to do with the National Assembly, the judiciary and other segments of the society, the president uses insecticides but when it concerns anybody in the executive arm of government, he uses deodorants.

The lawmaker and civil rights activist said: “It is unfortunate that we have a political atmosphere where you have a saintly and angelic presidency and a devilish and evil society. We must in every respect fight corruption within the kitchen as we do in the veranda; if we don’t do that, then we are being hypocritical. This letter does not in any way reflect the spirit which we espouse as a people fighting to cleanse and fumigate this country of corruption.

“It is shocking to me that such a letter can come from the presidency with such misinformation and outright distortions. They lied by saying that the committee didn’t invite the SGF; the committee invited the SGF and the letter was acknowledged by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the SGF, Mr. Aminu Nadehu

“To make sure that we buttress our point, we made a paid advert in three or four national dailies: this one was published on December 2, 2016 and the SGF is clearly mentioned as one of those expected to come and appear before the National Assembly.
“If they have the intention of simply reaching a pre-determined conclusion by covering up on the issues raised by the committee, that is one thing.”

On the president’s allegation that the report that indicted Babachir was signed by only three of the nine members of the committee, Sani said:

“That was also a second lie coming from the presidency. I have a copy of the interim report which was initially signed by seven of the nine members of that committee and I am going to submit it to the Clerk of the Senate. Even if it is nine and then three people signed, we still have a quorum, but here I have seven people.

“I will say also that I listened to the list of the names that were read and they omitted the chairman which is myself. I know I am not very big in frame but I believe my name shouldn’t have been omitted.”

Condemning the president’s response further, Sani said: “This shows clearly how the SGF and his minions in the presidency misinformed the president to sign this letter. Secondly, I will say this clearly, this letter is a funeral service for the anti-corruption fight.

“ Mr. President, I stand by the report of that committee and it is very clear to us: if we can allow this committee’s report to be shredded into pieces, then I think it would be in order for us to open all the 138 prisons in this country for all the convicts and awaiting trial inmates to go scot-free.”

At an earlier closed-door session that lasted for two hours, the senators took their turns to condemn Buhari’s response to the resolutions against Babachir and Magu.

It was learnt that the lawmakers particularly condemned why Buhari refused to address the issues raised in the DSS security report on Magu. “Is it that the report never existed or that it has been withdrawn?” a senator queried.

The lawmakers faulted the manner in which the Buhari’s letter was delivered in sharp contrast with the normal tradition of message delivery to the Senate.

“The letter was dated 17th of January but it was sent to the Senate president at 10:00 p.m. of 22 January. It was delivered to Saraki by hand and not through the normal message delivery channel to the Senate. Why the gap? Could it have been written by someone else and backdated?” another senator wondered.

It was pointed out at the closed-door session that the Senate would be breaching its rule if it went ahead to screen Magu.“The Senate rule forbids it from considering any matter upon which a judicial decision is pending. Why can’t we wait until the matter is decided upon by the court?” a lawmaker said.

The Senate said it would stand by its resolutions.Briefing journalists shortly after the session yesterday, Chairman of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdullahi Saabi Aliu, said the Senate had taken note of the fact that the president did not address the issues raised in the security report upon which the chamber refused to consider the nomination of Magu.

A Federal High Court in Lagos had fixed February 13 to hear a suit filed against Magu, challenging his continued stay in office as EFCC acting chairman.

Premium Times: How SSS lied against EFCC boss, Magu.

On Thursday, the Nigerian Senate declined to confirm the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as substantive chair of the country’s premier anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The upper legislative chamber claimed it could not approve the presidency’s request to confirm Mr. Magu based on a security report forwarded to it by the State Security Service.

“The Senate wishes to inform the public that based on available security report, the Senate cannot proceed with the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,” the spokesperson for the Senate, Aliyu Abdullahi, said in a statement read to journalists.

“The nomination of Ibrahim Magu is hereby rejected and has been returned to the President for further action,” Mr. Abdullahi said.

The Senate did not provide the EFCC chairman an opportunity to respond to the allegations against him.

PREMIUM TIMES has obtained details of the security report on which the lawmakers based their decision and has investigated the claims against Mr. Magu.

We fact-checked some of the claims made by the SSS, and below are our findings:

ALLEGATION ONE: That during the tenure of Farida Waziri as EFCC chairperson, sensitive documents were found in Mr. Magu’s home.

The facts do not support that claim. A reporter for this newspaper extensively reported that event in 2008 when it happened, and is familiar with what transpired at the time.

Based on pressure from political gladiators of the period (among which were former Governors James Ibori and Bukola Saraki), then President Musa Yar’Adua unceremoniously removed Nuhu Ribadu as chairman of the EFCC.

After Mr. Ribadu’s departure, his successor, Mrs. Waziri, frustrated some of his closest and most resourceful aides in the commission, and harassed them for prolonged period.

Mr. Magu, who was a chief superintendent of police at the time, was sent away from the EFCC and his Lagos and Abuja homes were raided by operatives even before he had the opportunity to hand over to Umar Sanda as head of the Economic Governance Unit of the commission. He was later detained for three weeks.

Following complaints by Mrs. Waziri, the then Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro, queried Mr. Magu, accusing him of serious misconduct. One of the allegations against him was that he removed and withheld EFCC files.

On August 25, 2008, Mr. Magu replied the query, explaining to the IGP that no unauthorized EFCC official documents were found in his home.

“I wish to state that the nature of my assignment at the EFCC is such that I worked round the clock and it was impossible for me to do my work effectively without working on some documents at home,” he wrote to Mr. Okiro at the time. “This is the reason I maintain an office bag where documents relating to investigations were kept. The documents listed were found in my office bag which I was in the process of handing over and were not found hidden anywhere in my house.

“It is therefore not the correct position to say that I bluntly refused to hand over EFCC’s property and documents. I had just concluded handing over the Abuja office and I was in Lagos to conclude handing over the Lagos office when the search was conducted. At the time of the search, I had not reported to my new command. It could therefore not be my intention to keep government documents in my house.

“I have suffered untold humiliation within the past one month. My home was ransacked, vandalized and my properties destroyed by men of the EFCC. I was detained in a cell meant for hardened criminals most of whom are armed robbers for three weeks. My health condition deteriorated as a result of his inhuman treatment meted out to me for doing my job diligently and with the pride required of a senior police officer of my rank in the Nigerian Police Force.

“I humbly implore the Inspector General of Police to totally exonerate me from blame and the said acts of serious misconduct because I was not involved and I am not involved. I will never be discouraged in my unrelenting war against crime and its associated manifestations as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

After investigation, the police IG exonerated Mr. Magu, posted him to the police’s Special Fraud Unit and promoted him to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police shortly afterwards.

ALLEGATION TWO: That Mr. Magu currently occupies a residence rented for N40 million at N20 million per annum. This accommodation was not paid [for] from the commission’s (EFCC) finances, but by one Umar Mohammed, air commodore retired.

This claim is also untrue.

PREMIUM TIMES has obtained evidence showing the property in question was paid for by the Federal Capital Development Administration, and not Mr. Umar.

The E-Payment schedule, dated March 31, was issued by to the branch controller of Central Bank, Abuja, in favour of M/S Valcour SA Nigeria Limited.scan-15

The company was paid N39.628 million as payment for two-year rent and furnishing of the property, located in upscale Maitama district of Abuja.

The payment schedule was signed by Isiyaku Ismaila and confirmed by Zanna A. Hamza.

Mr. Magu lived in Karu, a suburb of Abuja, before his appointment as acting EFCC chair. With his new position, Mr. Magu moved into an official residence provided by the FCDA.

ALLEGATION 3: That the acting EFCC chairman regularly embarked on official and private trips through a private jet owned by embattled Air Commodore Mohammed Umar (Rtd).

PREMIUM TIMES checks show that this is not entirely correct. Our investigations indicate that Mr. Magu first met Mr. Umar when both of them worked as members of the Presidential Committee on the investigation of arms procurement. At the time, Mr. Umar was very close to President Muhammadu Buhari and had unlimited access to the presidential villa. Both men became close during the assignment.

Our investigations indicate that once this year, Mr. Magu travelled to Kano in company of EFCC’s director of finance and that in charge of organizational support. Those familiar with the trip said on their way back to Abuja, Mr. Umar, who at the time remained Mr. Magu’s colleague at the presidential committee, and who was at the time not in any trouble with the SSS, gave the two officials a lift.

We are unable to find any evidence that Mr. Magu flew in Mr. Umar’s private jet at any other time. Neither were we able to establish that the EFCC chairman flew to Maiduguri alongside Mr. Umar and a bank MD being investigated by the EFCC over complicity in funds allegedly stolen by former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

While some insiders at the commission denied the allegation, we could not independently verify the claims.

ALLEGATION 4: On 24 June, 2016, he (Magu) flew Emirate airlines first-class to Saudi Arabia to perform lesser hajj at the cost of N2.9m. This is in spite of Mr President’s directive to all public servants to fly economy class.

Insiders say while it was true that Mr. Magu indeed flew first class to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj, he did not pay for the ticket with public funds. We could not however confirm this claim independently.


Source: Premium Times

President Buhari rejects senate’s recommendation for SGF’s sacking

President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected the recommendation of the senate for the sack of Babachir Lawal as secretary to the government of the federation (SGF).


Buhari said his decision was informed by the failure of the senate ad hoc committee on humanitarian crisis in the northeast to give Lawal a fair hearing.


He conveyed his decision in a letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday.


In December 2016, the senate recommended the sack of Lawal for alleged corruption.


In its report, the senate ad hoc committee, which investigated the diversion of funds for internally displaced persons in the northeast, and was chaired by Shehu Sani, a senator from Kaduna central, accused Lawal of receiving a kickback of N200m through his company, Rholavision Limited, from a company he awarded a contract for the clearing of invasive plant species in Yobe state.?


But Buhari dismissed the document as a “minority report”, saying that “the senate committee comprised nine members” but only three persons signed it.?


“The review of the interim report showed that only three members signed the report. ?This makes it a minority report of a senate committee?,” he said.


He said Lawal was not given the opportunity to clear himself of the allegations, and that the company linked to him was not accorded the chance as well.?


“The current report does not meet the principle of fair hearing? required in cases of abuse of office by public officer,” he said.?


Reacting to the letter, Sani, chairman of the committee, described the current anti-corruption war of the president as a farce.?


“This letter is a funeral service of the president’s anti-corruption war,” he said.?


“When it comes to fighting corruption in the national assembly and the judiciary, the president uses insecticide, but when it comes to the presidency he uses deodorant?.”


He also explained that the SGF was invited personally and through the media?, but that he chose to ignore the invitation.


He added that seven of nine members of the committee signed the interim report, and that Buhari’s letter absolving L?awal of guilt was full of lies.


Source: The Cable

President Buhari writes Senate, clears SGF Babachir Lawal of corruption allegations.

President Buhari has cleared SGF Babachir Lawal of corruption allegations based on report from Attorney General of the Federation in a letter read by the Senate President Bukola Saraki during plenary on Tuesday.


According to the letter presented to the senate from President Buhari, investigations reveal that Ibrahim Magu was not guilty of allegations laid against him based on report hence the exoneration.


The letter also clearly states that 3 out of 9 senators signed Senate report investigating SGF Babachir Lawal, claiming that no fair-hearing was made available to the accused.


President Buhari, in the letter, also said; “Non-application of principles of fair-hearing to SGF Lawal means he has no choice than to absolve him of corrupt allegations.”


However, Senator Shehu Sani denies President Buhari’s allegations that SGF Lawal was not invited or given fair-hearing.


The senator from Kaduna said; “President Buhari’s government uses insecticide to fight corruption in public but uses deodorant to fight corruption in the Presidency!”


He also claimed that 7 out of 9 senators signed his Committee’s interim report, not 3 as claimed by President Buhari’s letter. He concluded his objection by saying; “Buhari’s letter absolving SGF is full of falsehood”.


Furthermore, Shehu Sani told the senate plenary on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe President Buhari wrote the letter, says SGF “& his minions in Presidency” could have written letter to Senate.


Some weeks ago, An ad-hoc committee of the Senate on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East” led by Senator Shehu Sani submitted its interim report and indicted Mr. Lawal for allegedly receiving N233 million contract to clear invasive plant species in Yobe State through a company, Rholavision Nigeria Limited.




ONGOING: Senate In Closed-Door Meeting Over Magu, May Reconsider Him For EFCC Chair.

Members of the Nigerian Senate are in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, a day after a letter was sent to it to confirm Mr Ibrahim Magu as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Channels Television’s correspondent covering the National Assembly said reporters were not allowed into the meeting but there are indications that the lawmakers may be discussing the letter sent to the upper chamber weeks after it rejected an earlier request for Magu’s confirmation.

It was gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter requesting Mr Magu’s confirmation had been received by the Senate and may be read on the floor of the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday.

The federal lawmakers had in 2016 turned down the President’s request for the confirmation of Mr Magu who is currently the acting chairman of the anti-corruption body.

They cited security report by the Department of Security Services (DSS) which the Senate claimed indicted Mr Magu.

The decision by the Senate had been a subject of controversy as former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, had insisted that Mr Magu was not rejected by the lawmakers but his confirmation was only stepped down for further consultation with the Presidency.


Explaining the reason behind the decision, the Senate said that security report available to it showed that Mr Magu is not fit to be chairman of the body.

In this regard, the lawmakers have sent back his nomination letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Addressing journalists at the National Assembly, Senate Spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi, said that based on security reports, the Senate cannot proceed to confirm the acting EFCC Chairman.

A lawyer, Daniel Bwala had earlier said that he expected the Senate to confirm the acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency, but stressed the need for the lawmakers to allow him respond to the allegations against him.

President Buhari re-nominates Magu as EFCC chairman

President Muhammadu Buhari has re-nominated Ibrahim Magu for confirmation as chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, EFCC.

Multiple sources knowledgeable about the development, including presidency officials, have spoken with PREMIUM TIMES on the re-nomination.

The Senate had in December last year declined to confirm Mr. Magu as the substantive chairman of EFCC, ending months of delay and rancorous power-play involving influential senators, the State Security Service, SSS, and officials of the presidency opposed to Mr. Magu’s headship of the agency.

The spokesperson for the Senate, Aliyu Abdullahi, at a hurriedly arranged press conference, cited a security report from the SSS for the non-confirmation of Mr. Magu.

PREMIUM TIMES’ findings revealed the SSS actually turned in two reports with contradictory conclusions. Both were submitted same day, October 3, 2016, and signed by one official, Folashade Bello, on behalf of the Director-General, Lawan Daura.

Nevertheless, the claims in the two reports, reviewed by this newspaper, were tied around the principal charge that Mr. Magu seemed tainted, integrity-challenged and, thus, may become a liability to the anti-graft campaign of the Buhari administration.

But a fact-check by this newspaper showed that the SSS’ claims were inaccurate.

After the presidency received formal notice from the Senate on Mr. Magu’s rejection, Mr. Buhari announced he was referring all allegations of corruption against top officials of his government, including Mr. Magu, to the Attorney-General for investigations.

“But contrary to popular belief,” one of our sources said, “the investigation of the claims made against Magu is not just for the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.”

The source said the Vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, played a leading role in the investigation and ended up absolving Mr. Magu of any culpability, morally or legally, and afterwards recommending that he should be re-nominated by the President.

Besides the investigation that involved the Vice-President and the Justice Minister, the presidential advisory council on anti-corruption also undertook a separate task and equally advised Mr. Buhari to re-nominate Mr. Magu, PREMIUM TIMES understands.

Consequently, the President ignored the SSS reports and brushed aside plots to stop Mr. Magu.

Mr. Osinbajo and the Itse Sagay-led anti-corruption advisory council were believed to have categorically advised the President that Mr. Magu’s rejection by the Senate was in bad faith and the SSS’ claims against him were inconsequential.

So, before the President left the country last Thursday for the United Kingdom, he signed off the letter for Mr. Magu’s re-nomination for transfer to the Senate through the Office of the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, our sources aware of the process said.

But we cannot confirm if the Senate had received the letter as at the time of filing this report. The spokesperson for the Senate, Mr. Abdullahi, did not answer calls or reply a text message.

Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, referred all questions on the matter to Laolu Akande, Vice President Osinbajo’s spokesperson.

Mr. Akande did not pick calls or reply a text message sent to him.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, insiders said, is personally opposed to Mr. Magu’s headship of EFCC and was one of the key figures that ensured he was rejected earlier.

Mr. Magu, as the head of the EFCC’s economic governance unit, spent years investigating Mr. Saraki yielding loads of ‘evidence’ of corruption and abuse of office during the latter’s tenure as Kwara State Governor, 2003-2011.

Mainly, the evidence the federal government now uses against Mr. Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal were from Mr. Magu’s investigative efforts.

To ensure Mr. Magu was rejected, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, Mr. Saraki only disclosed the SSS report that Mr. Magu should not be confirmed, concealing the other that recommended his confirmation.

The former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, said his removal earlier this year was instigated by Mr. Saraki over his insistence that Mr. Magu had not been rejected in the face of the Senate’s procedure and standard practice.


Source: Premium Times

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.

Buhari’s Military Action In The Gambia Without Approval, Senate Says.

The Nigerian Air Force had moved a contingent of 200 men and air assets, led by Air Commodore Tajudeen Yusuf, to Dakar, Senegal, which is the base of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) military intervention to force President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia out of power.

The Nigerian troops, who left from the 117 Air Combat Training Group camp in Kainji, Niger State, on Wednesday, joined troops from Senegal, Ghana and other countries in the West African sub-region.

But Senator Chukwuka Utazi, while raising a constitutional point of order, said what the Buhari-led government did was against the law, citing Section 5 (4) of the Constitution.

Section 5(4) states, “(a) the President shall not declare a state of war between the federation and another country except with the sanction of a resolution of both houses of the National Assembly sitting in a joint session; and (b) except with the prior approval of the senate, no member of the armed forces of the federation shall be deployed on combat duty outside Nigeria.”

Utazi added, “I am saying this because of the happenings in our friendly country in Gambia. The ECOWAS countries have been discussing on this issue; on how to ensure that democratic crisis of the people of Gambia are protected. But to ask that this country will go on a warfare in another country without a recourse to this constitutional provisions is an affront of the 1999 Constitution and it is a breach of the Constitution, and we have failed even when the Senate has been cooperating with the executive.

“Let it be on record that if anything of this nature happens in this country; that this national assembly have to be informed properly in writing.”

President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary, however cited Subsection 5 of the Constitution to counter Utazi.

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 approves Buhari’s fiscal plans it once rejected as ’empty’

The Senate has approved the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Fiscal Strategy Paper, MTEF/FSP, submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari last December, in readiness for the consideration of the 2017 budget.

The Senate on Wednesday adopted almost all the proposals sent by the president, contradicting its earlier ruling in December, when it dismissed the documents as “empty”.

Its decision followed the recommendations of its committees on Appropriations, Finance and National Planning,

It adopted the oil production projection of 2.2 mbpd for the 2017 Budget, which it said is achievable, “though dependent on the ability of the Federal Government to curtail the Niger-Delta militant activities in order to halt the drop in crude oil production”.

Following attacks of oil and gas installations, the Senate observed that oil production “declined from 1,912mbpd in January 2016 to 1,818mbpd in June 2016 and thereafter to 1,721mbpd in October 2016.”

It also adopted the exchange rate of N305/1USD as proposed by the executive.

The Senate however warned that the Central Bank of Nigeria should initiate measures that would close the gap between the parallel market and the official exchange rate to prevent corruption.

For non-oil revenue, the Senate also adopted the projected N5.122 trillion in 2017, lower than N5.749 trillion approved in 2016 on account of lower Corporate Tax, VAT and Customs revenue collection in 2016.

Similarly, it approved the N807.57 trillion projected as independent revenue for 2017, significantly lower than the highly optimistic N1.505 approved for 2016.

The reduction, the Senate said, reflected the poor level of collection and remittance or inefficiency in the collection and management of independent revenue by MDAs and state-owned enterprises.

The planned borrowing of N2.321 trillion, comprising N1.253 trillion (domestic) and N1.067 trillion (external) in 2017 was also approved, however on project-tied basis.

The Senate also approved the N500 billion (N350 billion, recurrent; N150 billion, capital) for Special Intervention Programme in 2017.

However, the lawmakers slightly increased the benchmark price for crude oil in 2017 to USD44.5 from USD442.5 per barrel.

Projected GDP growth rate and inflation growth rate stand at 2.50% and 12.92% respectively.

The Senate recommended that the government should implement “drastic measures to achieve self-sufficiency and become exporter of certain agricultural and mining products.”

In his remarks after the passage, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided in place of Bukola Saraki who was in court for his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, sought the cooperation of the executive bodies when consideration of the 2017 budget commences to ensure expeditious passage.


Source: Premium Times

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.

Senate fails to stop closure of Abuja airport as engineers, ministers, Julius Berger disagree

Nigeria’s Senate on Tuesday failed to stop the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for repair work on its runway.

The federal government had announced that the only airport in the country’s capital would be closed from March 8 for six weeks.

According to the plans of the aviation authorities, flights will be diverted to the Kaduna Airport and passengers from or to Abuja will be required to travel by rail or road for the period of the closure.

In the previous weeks, the Senate, following a motion by Hope Uzodinma, the chairman of the Committee on Aviation, had queried the plan and summoned officials of the executive arm connected to the matter, including the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Minister of Transport, Rotimi Aamechi; and the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

Appearing before the Senate last week, Mr. Sirika who disclosed that the repair work would gulp N5.8 billion, insisted the closure was necessary.

At the resumed hearing over the matter on Tuesday, Senators argued against the government’s plan, citing inconvenience and security concerns over the Kaduna-Abuja Road.

But Messrs. Fashola and Sirika insisted the plan was necessary.

“It is runway of the airport that needs to be closed because it isn’t safe, it is a matter of immense public safety,” Mr. Fashola said. “If there is choice between convenience and safety considerations, safety come first.”

He disclosed that the contract for rehabilitation of the Abuja -Kaduna road had been awarded, and the work would be completed 50 days ahead of the closure.

“Minna is a shorter distance, but my humble submission is that Kaduna-Abuja highway lends itself to the situation. There would be inconvenience and I sympathise with those who would be travelling, but Nigeria is not the first country to close an airport and divert traffic to another city,” he said.

Mr. Sirika told the Senators the government had budgeted N1.134 billion to ensure convenience, safety and security of passengers moving between Kaduna and Abuja for the period of the six-week closure of the Abuja Airport.

The expenditure will go to the police, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Immigration Service, Civil Defense Corps, Road Safety Corps, and the Ministry of Transport, taking about N350 million, N100 million, N29 million, N325 million, N237 million, N84 million respectively.

Julius Berger, the firm handling the repair on the the airport, said it was possible to execute the work without closure of the airport using segmented approach, but that would take two and a half years to complete.

Even so, the company’s Managing Director, Wolfgang Goetsch, said not closing the airport while the repair is ongoing depended on the scale of the work.

“But the state of the runway in Abuja, extent of damage and deterioration. The whole runway from one end to the other end is damaged.

“This means that if the method of spot repair is loose, you start from one side of the runway, lock it in the night and in the morning to open it up for traffic,” Mr. Goetsch said.

He said his company guaranteed completion within six weeks “subject to fulfillment of obligation of all the stakeholders.”

He added that the runway after the repair would last for a minimum of 10 years if regular maintenance was carried out on it; and that his company had received the contract award letter but that it had not been signed.

However, the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE, disagreed with the ministers, aligning with the senators’ point that the repair can be done without total closure.

The NSE President, Otis Ayaeji, said closing the Airport was tantamount to shutting down Nigeria, adding that there were local engineers whose firms could handle the project competently without closing the airport.

In the end, the Senate could not stop the closure.

But it took the position that its preference was a segmented approach to the repair to avoid total closure, while leaving the aviation authorities to take decision based on technical advice.

“Removal of Ndume as senate leader was a necessary act”, says Oyegun

John Oyegun, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says the removal of Ali Ndume as senate leader was a “necessary act” that had to be done to unite the party in the upper legislative chamber.

On Tuesday, Bukola Saraki, senate president, announced that Ndume had been replaced as the senate leader with Lawan.

Speaking when he received Ahmed Lawan, the new senate leader, at the APC national secretariat on Monday, Oyegun said that with this development, the crisis in the party was over.

“It is important to mention that the former senate leader was not removed as a result of any misdeeds on his part or as a result of loss of confidence of his colleagues, but as a result of a necessary act that had to be done to reunite the senate,” the APC national chairman said.

“We appreciate the service that he rendered to the senate and the sacrifice that he has made is necessary for the national assembly, the party and for the nation to move ahead.

“The party will give you all the support and will work together and ensure that the things that need to be done are done to move this nation forward.”

Speaking with journalists later, Lawan said he did not know of an alleged plan to oust Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, from his office.

“I don’t know about that. I have no idea,” he said when asked if his emergence was a threat to Ekweremadu.

“All l know is that my colleagues in the senate APC caucus held a meeting and decided that l should be made the senate leader and that happened Tuesday last week as you all know.

“We are looking forward to working together in a very brotherly and fraternal manner in the senate indeed with other senators from other political parties like the PDP and other parties. I don’t have any idea if anybody is trying to impeach someone in the senate.”


Source: The Cable

Senate denies plot to impeach Ike Ekweremadu

New Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan and Whip, Prof. Sola Adeyeye, yesterday refuted reports of alleged subterranean moves by the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus to move against Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.

Speaking to newsmen when he led some principal officers to the party’s national secretariat on a courtesy call on the National Working Committee (NWC) members in Abuja, Lawan described his election as an elixir for stability within the Senate and the party.

Lawan, a representative of Yobe North, was last Tuesday picked by the caucus to replace Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC Borno South).

His words: “My election is a part of the yearning for party supremacy. The significance here is the unity and stability in the Senate, the unity of our party, and of course this will transform into the high level of productivity for our government.

“It will consolidate the unity and togetherness within our party and will consolidate unity of APC Senate Caucus and of course, we will now be operating on the same page.”

Adeyeye described the report as mere speculation, noting that such was not new in politics.

In the meantime, the reported call on Ekweremadu to jump ship in order to save his seat may have begun to bear the APC apart in his home state of Enugu.

While its state chairman, Mr. Ben Nwoye came out publicly yesterday to distance the party from a statement credited to its Publicity Secretary, Mrs. Kate Offor that the Deputy Senate President should stay put in the PDP, the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, however, backed Offor.

Offor, had in a statement on Sunday in Enugu, urged Ekweremadu to remain in his party to “help clear the mess he contributed in creating there.”

But Nwoye told newsmen that the party was opened to all genuine democrats and progressives in the Southeast, adding that its three-week registration exercise in the zone was “open to all and sundry, including Ekweremadu without any tariff.”

He hinted that notable PDP leaders in the state, including former Senate President Ken Nnamani and erstwhile Speaker of the House of Assembly, Eugene Odoh, had joined the party.


Source: Guardian

Save Aviation Industry Before Another Plane Crash – Ben Bruce tells Senate

The Senator representing Bayelsa East senatorial district, Ben Murray-Bruce has predicted there will be a plane crash if the Senate does not take immediate action concerning urgent issues in the aviation industry.

The Senator said this at plenary, while speaking on the alleged deteriorating state of the aviation industry in Nigeria.

He moved a motion in favour of lesser taxes, regulations and reduced government interference in airline operations in the country.

He said: “The airport is nothing but a mall and can be self-financed by private sectors better. The Government does not need money to borrow to maintain or build airports.

“Airlines can be profitable if government will stop interfering in the way they are run.

“We are taxing the airlines to death, taxes should not be more than 5 or 10 percentage like in other countries but we charge about 40%.

“Tax Agencies in Nigeria are concerned about generating revenue which this is counterproductive to the airline.

“You cannot regulate the prices of tickets. This way you guarantee they don’t make profits, therefore their services will be reduced.

“No airline will delay you for eight hours unless they do not have finances to buy fuel, pay pilots and other services.”

He then urged the Senate to take the motion seriously, as hindrance to take action will lead to an accident which will lead to loss of so many lives.

“This motion is serious because an accident is about to happen, a plane will crash (and) people will die. I urge my colleagues to take this motion seriously.

“Find a way to work with the airlines not to kill them and find a way to make this motion productive and make it possible for them to be successful so we can live.”

Politics is the worst profession in Africa, says deputy senate leader.

Bala Na’Allah, deputy senate leader, says politics is the worst profession anyone can venture into in Africa, “particularly in Nigeria”.

In an interview with DAILY TRUST, Na’Allah who represents Kebbi south, said most public figures find it difficult to take care of their basic needs after leaving office.

“Politics is the worst profession anybody can venture into in Africa, particularly in Nigeria,” he said.

“Look around you to see how former ministers, former senators, former reps are finding it difficult to take care of their basic needs.

“The fact that when you come to the senate or house, banks give you loans to be deducted in four years from your salaries and allowances is not it. You live big only during that period, but go and find out how the politicians live, one year after leaving office.

“A lot of people don’t understand that apart from your salaries and allowances, except if you are a criminal or corrupt, you are not likely to leave the senate or house with anything. It will even be worse if at the end of your tenure you aspire to either maintain your position or for a bigger office.”

The legislator also spoke on his love for flying, saying pilots in Nigeria earn more than legislators in the national assembly.

“You could say I delved into flying when my son challenged me,” he said.

“When we brought the aircraft here and he told me that flying is difficult, I told him that nothing is difficult in my life. So I decided to go back to school. Luckily for me, I started flying solo at only 11 hours and everybody was surprised.

“As it is now, my entire family, excluding my wife, are in the Aviation Industry. My daughter is in flying school in Ilorin, Kwara state and my second son is already in the United States, also flying.

“I have five pilots who fly for me. Except for the last one we took, I’m sure that there is none of them who does not earn more than what I do in the national assembly.

“Nigeria is one of the countries where pilots take the highest pay, how and why it is so, I don’t know. What a captain receives in America, may probably be half of what a captain receives in Nigeria. And that is the truth.”

Senate Maintains Opposition On Closure Of Abuja Airport

The Senate has maintained its opposition on the planned closure of the Abuja airport for repairs which are scheduled to last six weeks.

Speaking on Channels Telvision’s breakfast program Sunrise Daily, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, insists the lawmakers were yet to be convinced about the plans to provide adequate security and welfare for passengers.

According to him critical stakeholders in the industry including the National Assembly, were also not consulted in the decision to close the airport for repairs.

He however explained that the fact that a public hearing was held and stakeholders were invited, to explain their reasons, shows that the senate is indeed interested in considering all angles before taking a unified and final position.

Meanwhile, rehabilitation of the Kaduna Airport as an alternative for the Abuja airport, has begun.

On Thursday, Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, told the Senate that it would be unsafe to continue to operate in the Abuja Airport, as there had been daily incidents on the runway.

Ekweremadu will not defect to APC to remain Deputy Senate President – PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Thursday condemned the call on Ike Ekweremadu to defect to the All Progressives Congress, APC, to retain the position of Deputy Senate President.

The PDP made the condemnation in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the National Caretaker Committee, Dayo Adeyeye, on Thursday in Abuja.

The party said that its attention was drawn to a statement credited to Kabiru Marafa in which he advised Mr. Ekweremadu to defect to the APC in order to retain his position.

It described the call as unconstitutional, undemocratic, adding that the section of the 1999 Constitution which Mr. Marafa quoted as backing his advice to Ekweremadu was untrue.

Mr. Marafa was quoted as saying ‘I am using this medium to call on Ekweremadu to simply decamp. Section 68(G) of the 1999 Constitution captures this.’

“There is no section or clause of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) that provides that one must be a member of the ruling party before he could be elected into any position in the Senate or the House of Representatives,” Mr. Adeyeye said.

“Equally, it is very distasteful and uncharitable for any senator to stand on the floor of the hallowed chamber and ask his colleague to violate the Constitution by cross-carpeting from his own party to join the ruling party.

“It is Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not Senate of the APC,’’ the PDP said.

It added that it was laughable for Mr. Marafa to cite the internal issues in the PDP as a reason for Ekweremadu to defect to the APC.

“For the umpteenth time, let us reiterate that there is no faction in the PDP.

“A party is only factionalized when its organs are in disarray, but this is different in the PDP where all the organs are intact, behind the National Caretaker Committee under the chairmanship of Sen. Makarfi.

“A mere rebellion by a small interest group within the party cannot be referred to factionalisation of the party, ‘’ the statement said.

It cautioned that any PDP member using the current leadership disagreement caused by the “rebellious group’’ to defect to another party was doing so at his or her peril.

It said that Mr. Marafa or any other member of the APC had no power to make such demands on a member of the PDP.

“Let us remind Sen. Marafa that Sen. Ike Ekweremadu was elected as Deputy President of Senate by majority votes from both the PDP and APC senators.

“Any attempt to remove Sen. Ekweramadu for being a member of the opposition party and not because of a constitutional breach or incompetence is a call for anarchy.’’

The PDP recalled that the current situation in the Senate where the Senate President and his deputy were from different parties should not continue to appear strange to anybody in a democratic system.

“For instance, in the Second Republic, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Edwin Umezuoke, was from opposition NPP while the Senate President was from the Ruling Party, the NPN.

“It is worthy of note that both of them worked harmoniously with the cooperation of the Executive in moving the country forward,’’ it recalled.

The party urged the National Assembly members to remain strong and united behind Ekweremadu with determination not to allow anybody to truncate the hard-earned democracy through undemocratic tendencies.

It also called on APC lawmakers in the National Assembly to work together with other lawmakers to protect and advance Nigeria’s democracy.

Buhari removes Ooni’s brother, ex-supreme court judge from ambassadorial list

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a revised list of 46 non-career ambassadors for confirmation to the senate.

This was contained in a letter read by Bukola Saraki, senate president, on the floor of the senate on Thursday.

Missing from the new list are Adegboyega Ogunwusi (Osun), brother of Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the ooni of Ife; George Oguntade, a former supreme court judge; Olorunnibe Mamora, a former Lagos-east senator; and Musa Ibeto from Niger.

“We submit the revised list of 46 non-career ambassadors for confirmation as ambassadors by the distinguished senate,” the letter by Buhari read.

“It is my hope that this will receive the usual attention of the senate.”

When Buhari first presented the list in November, the senate turned it down, with Monsurat Sunmonu, chairman senate committee on foreign affairs, saying: ?”I suggest we return the list of non-career ambassadors to the executive so that they can re-present it. There are about 200 petitions against the nominees, and we don’t even know where to start.”

Buhari’s non-career ambassadorial list had caused friction in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Governors elected on the platform of the party had met with the president on different occasions to raise concerns over the list.

The president had assured them that he would look into their concerns. But until the rejection of the list by the senate, no action was taken.

Also, two nominees, Pauline Tallen, former deputy governor of Plateau state, and Usman Bugaje, from Katsina state, turned down their appointment.


Uzoma Eminike (Adamawa)

Aminu Lawal (Adamawa)

Godwin Umoh (Akwa Ibom)

Christopher Okeke (Anambra)

Yusuf Maitama (Bauchi)

Baba Maigudu (Bauchi)

Stanley Douye (Bayelsa)

Stephen Uba (Benue)

Baba Ahmed Gida (Borno)

Utobong Asuquo (Cross River)

Frank Ofegina (Delta)

Joda Udoh (Ebonyi)

Yagwe Ede (Edo)

Eniola Ajayi (Ekiti)

Chris Eze (Enugu)

Sulieman Hassan (Gombe)

Sylvanus Usofo (Imo)

Aminu Dalhatu (Jigawa)

Ahmed Bamilli (Kaduna)

Yahaya (Kaduna)

D. Abdulkadir (Kano)

Haruna Arungungu (Kano)

Musa Udo (Katsina)

Mohammed Rimi (Katsina)

Tijani Bande (Kebbi)

Y. Aliu (Kogi)

Nurudeen Mohammed (Kwara)

Mohammed Isa (Kwara)

Adesola Omotade (Lagos)

Modupe Remi (Lagos)

Musa Mohammed (Nasarawa)

Elijah Ibeto (Ogun)

Susan Aderonke Folarin (Ogun)

Jacob Daudu (Ondo)

Afolayon Adeyemi (Osun)

A. Olaniyi (Oyo)

James Dmika (Plateau)

Haruna Abdullahi (Plateau)

Orji Ngofa (Rivers)

Sahibi Isa Dada (Sokoto)

Kabir Umar (Sokoto)

Jika Ado (Taraba)

Goni Zana (Yobe)

Garba T. (Zamfara)

Bala Mohammad (Zamfara)

Ibrahim Dada (FCT)

Abuja Airport Closure: Amaechi, Sirika Appear Before Senate.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika and the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, have appeared before the Senate on Thursday, to explain the reason for the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.

The Senate invited both ministers on Thursday to explain the reason for the closure and rather explore other options besides closing the airport.

According to the lawmakers, closing the airport would bring hardship on local and international travelers.

Mr Sirika, however explained that to continue to operate, the Abuja airport would be unsafe and unreasonable as daily incidents occur on the runway.

Furthermore, the former pilot, stated that every flight plan always has alternate landing routes and Kaduna has always been the alternate for the Abuja airport.

He also pointed out that most of the sections of the runway have collapsed and if multiple sections have collapsed, it means the entire runway has collapsed.

The runway in the Abuja airport was constructed in 1982 with a lifespan of 14 years which had been exceeded.

BREAKING: President Buhari resubmits list of non-career ambassadorial nominees to Senate

President Muhammadu Buhari has resubmitted a list 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees to the Senate for consideration and confirmation, two months after the legislature rejected the earlier list.

The Senate had in November last year voted to reject Mr. Buhari’s earlier list, asking for “re-submission and rejigging”.

Numerous petitions trailed the earlier nominations, the Senate said then.

The new list was conveyed to the Senate on Thursday via the President’s letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The letter was titled ‘Re-submission Of Non-career Ambassadorial Nominees’.

Governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress were believed to have expressed opposition to the earlier list in their meeting with the President, complaining of non-consultation before nominees were drawn from their respective states.

More to come …

BREAKING: Nigerian Senate confirms Anthony Mkpe as Auditor-General

The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday confirmed the nomination of Mr. Ayine Anthony Mkpe as the Auditor-General of the Federation.


This was even as the Senate confirmed the receipt of petitions against the nominee with some Senators also standing on his way of confirmation.


The Senate had at its plenary session on Wednesday, 14th December, 2016 considered the request of President Muhammadu Buhari for the confirmation of the appointment of Mr. Ayine Anthony Mkpe to take over the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.


Consequently, the Senate, after careful deliberations referred the request to the Public Accounts Committee, for further legislative action.


Presenting the report of the committee at the Wednesday’s plenary, the Chairman, Senator Andy Uba said, “The committee examined his educational qualifications, career progression, experience, character, Federal Character principles, understanding of the functions of the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation, etc”.


Details soon…

“After My Removal, Ekweremadu May Be Next” – Ndume

Former Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Ali Ndume, has said the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, may be the next to lose his leadership position in the Senate.

Ndume, who was sacked by the All Progressives Congress caucus in the Senate on Tuesday, made the claim during plenary on Wednesday while decrying the way he was removed.

He said, “ If today, just like that, without telling somebody and he goes out ( is removed ) … If it is Ndume today and he goes out, it may be, God forbid, Ekweremadu tomorrow,” he said.

Although Ndume accepted the decision of the APC lawmakers to remove him as Senate majority leader and thanked them for the opportunity giving to him , he insisted that he wasn’t given a fair hearing by the lawmakers .

He said this was more so because he had attempted to resign from the position for the sake of unity among the lawmakers thrice before his removal.

Ndume, along with Ekweremadu, who is of the Peoples Democratic Party, and Senate President Bukola Saraki had emerged as leaders of the Senate contrary to the wish of the All Progressives Congress.

His claim hints at an attempt to remove all of them. This is more so as he was replaced by Sen. Ahmed Lawal, who had been the party’ s preferred candidate for Senate President

“I was praying when I was removed” says Senator Ali Ndume

Ali Ndume, former majority leader, says he was slyly removed from his position.

Ndume said he had left the chamber to pray and handed over to Bala Na-Allah, only to return in 10 minutes to find out he had been ousted.

“I was leading the business of the senate and when it was 12.45, as usual, I asked my deputy to sit in for me while I go to pray,” he said.

“On coming back, I discovered that the session was over and one of your colleagues [referring to journalists] approached me and said ‘leader, what happened?’ I said ‘what happened?’ And he said I had been removed.

“I didn’t know that there was change of leadership because I was not there. I went for prayers and I didn’t know what actually happened and I cannot say much than this.”

Ndume’s removal was announced on the floor of the senate by Bukola Saraki, senate president, who read a letter from the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus.

“This is to inform your excellency and the senate that after several meetings, upon due deliberations and consultations, the APC caucus of the senate hereby wish to notify you of the change in the leadership of the senate. The new senate leader is senator Ahmed Lawan, representing Yobe north,” Saraki said.

Ndume and Saraki took opposite sides when the senate declined to confirm the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). While the senate, led by Saraki, declined to confirm Magu, Ndume told the media that this was not the case

Lawan, the new majority leader, said: “I did not see it coming but with God nothing is impossible.

“Our colleagues in the APC caucus decided to effect the change. I thank God and my colleagues for the privilege giving to me. I will do my utmost best to ensure that the Senate continues to work for the benefit of Nigerians.”

Senate resumes, begins work on bills to create 7.5m jobs

Eleven economic executive bills being considered by the Senate will create 7.5 million as recession-induced job losses persist, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki…
If the lawmakers successfully pass the bills and things work according to the promise, Nigeria’s surging unemployment rate would be reduced.

Number of Nigerians without jobs rose for the seventh straight quarter to 13.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016 from 13.3 percent in the previous period. It was the highest level since 2009, as the number of unemployed rose by 5.2 percent to 11.2 million.

Unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for job as a percentage of the labour force. Current efforts at the National Assembly, if successful, will have reduced the number of the unemployed by more than 65 percent.

Lack of jobs averaged 9.52 percent from 2006 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 19.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 and a record low of 5.10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Saraki yesterday said the 11 economic bills now receiving accelerated consideration by the lawmakers would help to create 7.5 million jobs and reduce poverty by 16.4 per cent when they become laws.

In his welcome address to the senators on resumption from their Christmas and New Year recess, he urged the relevant committees to speed up work on the priority bills so that they could be passed and submitted to the executive alongside the 2017 budget.

By prioritising the creation of jobs, the Senate has identified a major challenge facing the nation. Most other challenges like insecurity; poor choices by the electorate during elections and even lack of educational opportunities are tied to the economic circumstances of the majority of citizens.

Saraki also stated that the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) would be debated and passed this week to pave the way for the consideration of the 2017 Appropriation Bill, which he said would be debated next week.

The Senate president urged all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to ensure a prompt submission of their annual budgets within the current budget cycle or risk waiting for the next fiscal cycle.

According to Saraki, “The average annual growth in jobs is estimated at approximately 7.55 million additional employments as well as an average of 16.42 per cent reduction in Nigeria’s poverty rate.

“Over the projected five-year period, it is suggested that the reforms, which these bills will engender, may add an average of N3.76 trillion to national incomes, (National Disposable Income was N85.62 trillion in 2014), equivalent to 4.39 per cent of 2014 figures.

He condemned the killings in southern Kaduna and said that the Senate would carry out a thorough investigation to unravel the issues and advise the executive appropriately.

Saraki stressed the need for the National Assembly to pursue and conclude the ongoing constitutional amendment. He said the Senate would henceforth not spare any organisation that tramples on rights of consumers in the country, adding that the “current situation where consumers’ rights are violated and treated with indignity must stop.”

On the power sector, Saraki said: “There had been errors in the privatisation process and the model by which the power sector is being operated—whether at generation or distribution—will never take us where we need to be.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo West) and co-sponsored by five others, the Upper Legislative Chamber summoned the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Muhammad Bello.

Others invited include the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, officials of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), as well as other stakeholders in the aviation sector.

Constitution Review: Senate Gives Life To Local Governments – By Emmanuel Aziken

The Supreme Court decision on December 16, 2016 voiding the sack, on October 29, 2010, of the 16 local government councils in Ekiti State was unarguably the best breather for democracy at the grassroots. The decision with its implication that governors and State Houses of Assembly cannot sack local governments has been largely applauded by democracy enthusiasts, who welcomed it in the face of the unrelenting assault on that tier by governors and state legislators.
Just as former Governor Kayode Fayemi did in dismissing the 16 elected councils, many governors, sometimes in cahoots with Houses of Assembly, have endangered democracy at the third tier with their cavalier dismissal of elected councils at that level. The actions of the governors and the state legislators is despite constitutional provisions as stipulated in Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution spelling that democracy should be firmly exercised at the local government level.
The provision states thus: The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.
However, the ambiguity in that stipulation as to the tenure of the local governments had been exploited by the governors and state legislative houses to mock the practise of democracy at the third tier. It was thus welcoming that even before the Supreme Court decision, that the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution had initiated moves to address the issue.
The Senator Ike Ekweremadu led committee had in its status report tabled just before the legislators proceeded on the yuletide break unfolded measures to address the issue through proposals to amend the constitution. Constitutional guarantee The move by the Senate aims to amend the constitution to give constitutional guarantee to the practise of democracy at the third tier.
The move by the Senate Committee follows the mandate given it to consider aspects of the Fourth Alteration Bill that had received popular approval from stakeholders. The Ekweremadu Committee in reprocessing Section 7, had strengthened it with the following proposal; A uniform three-year tenure for elected local government council officials; That Local Governments without a democratically elected council shall not be entitled to any revenue from the Federation Account. “These amendments amongst others we believe will ensure effective service delivery and insulate local governments from undue and counter-productive interferences from state governments,” the committee chairman had deposed.
It is remarkable that besides Senator Ekweremadu, Speaker Yakubu Dogara has also been passionate on the fragility of democracy at the local government level and was among those to have welcomed last December’s Supreme Court decision on the Ekiti local government councils.
Whether the House Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review would follow the lead of the Ekweremadu Committee with the passion shown by Speaker Dogara is yet to be ascertained. Meanwhile, other key constitutional alterations being proposed by the committee include a proposal to alter Section 162 to provide for a Distributable Pool Account that would, among others, “provide for national savings of 50 percent of oil revenues above the bench mark for a particular year and 10 per cent of any non-oil revenue paid into the Federation Account.
Also towards strengthening the hand of the local governments, the committee proposed to “abrogate the State Joint Local Government Account and paying monies due to Local Government Councils directly into their respective accounts.” Financial autonomy Perhaps to curtail the late presentations of budget to the legislature, the committee also proposed to alter Sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution to reduce the period within which the President or a Governor may authorize the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an Appropriation Act from six months to three months.
The committee also proposed the amendment of Section 121 of the constitution to give financial autonomy to the State Houses of Assembly. The proposal which was presented in the Third Alteration Bill was rejected by some state Houses of Assembly leading to the failure to form the two-third majority needed to push the amendment through. The committee proposed to push through the creation of a mayor for the Federal Capital Territory to replace the minister as presently appointed by the president.
Another fundamental proposal is to amend Sections 147 and 192 to ensure that the President and Governors designate and assign portfolios to persons nominated as ministers or commissioners respectively prior to confirmation by the Senate or State House of Assembly.
Also, the amendment would compel the president and governors to forward their cabinet picks within 60 days of inauguration and ensure that 35% of the nominees are women. It is also being proposed that the president be constitutionally compelled to deliver a State of the Nation Address annually to a joint sitting of the National Assembly.
The proposals also address one of the most controversial clauses of the constitution as seen in Section 315 of the 1999 Constitution which gives the president the right to make laws as contrary to the provisions of Section 4 of the same constitution which stipulates that the lawmaking powers shall be solely exercised by the National Assembly. The proposal by the Senate Committee is to completely remove that provision from the constitution.

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.”