Buhari launches economic recovery plan; INEC Accuses Parties of Fielding Ex-convicts, Certificate Forgers; APC calls for ceasefire as Buhari moves to end executive–legislature impasse; Sen. Akpabio almost crashed into APC senate caucus meeting; Saraki rules out early pardon for Ndume; Leaked audio: Sani faults Saraki’s emergence as Senate President, warns of plot to impeach Buhari; Sen. Shehu Sani’s voice in transcript, inter alia: Court refuses to order AGF to investigate ex-EFCC chairmen; Police storm MASSOB office in Anambra, arrest commander, 4 others; Italy deports 40 Nigerians; Weapons recovered from war theaters in Southeast & South-South detonated; Army displays weapons made by Biafran engineers in Owerri; Senate summons: withdraw resolution summoning me – Prof. Sagay; Senate summons: Prof. Sagay enumerates his rights; Senate summons: Prof. Sagay cites caselaw to buttress his rights; Senate summons: Prof. Sagay threatens to sue Senate . . .
President Muhammadu Buhari has launched Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. The brief event took place inside the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday. It was attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Zamfara state governor Abdulaziz Yari; National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Godwin Emefiele and other members of the FEC. Details of the launch were not disclosed as at the time we published this report.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has blamed political parties for the high incidence of court-nullified elections by nominating candidates who do not adhere to the rules and due diligence. The INEC chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said that as a result of the lack of due diligence, some of the parties have fielded ex-convicts and candidates with forged certificates for elections, thereby causing the elections to be nullified at the courts. Prof. Yakubu, who promised to take steps to reduce the malfeasance during elections, said the commission would step up its partnership with civil society groups, especially in civic and voter education and election monitoring and observation. Speaking at the formal presentation of INEC’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2021 to stakeholders on Tuesday in Abuja, Prof. Yakubu said the management of INEC has decided to set up a special prosecution unit staffed by trained prosecutors to facilitate prompt and more efficient prosecution of electoral offences. Prof. Yakubu said: “It has been observed that some parties have nominated persons such as ex-convicts as candidates and INEC has no power to rejects such candidates, only for the courts to nullify the elections after they have been conducted. Some have even nominated candidates with cases of certificate forgery, only for the court to nullify the elections . . .”
In a frantic effort to end the rift between the executive and legislative branches of government, President Muhammadu Buhari had met with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara at the presidential villa, Abuja. Buhari was willing to extend the olive branch to the lawmakers emerged last week when he set up a committee to wade into the crisis between the executive and legislature. The committee chaired by Vice president Yemi Osinbajo. The APC national chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has called for a ceasefire between the executive and the legislature, saying the two arms of government must end their deepening feud for the interest of peace and development of the country. Chief Oyegun said, “One appeal I have to make is that it is necessary for all underlined levels of government to maintain some level of respect and civility for one another and as we start now the process of reconstructing relationships and consultations, there should be what I will call a ceasefire in terms of the kind of abuse that is used amongst all arms of government”.
Senate Minority leader and ex-governor of Akwa Ibom state, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, almost crashed into the ongoing APC Senate caucus meeting on Tuesday. According to reports, about two hours into the APC caucus meeting in the national assembly complex, Sen. Akpabio who is a member of the main opposition PDP was suddenly sighted heading towards the meeting venue. He became the cynosure of all eyes as some journalists rushed to see what was happening. As he attempted to open the door, a security man immediately barricaded the entrance and he had to explain that he wanted to whisper into the ears of Senate President Bukola Saraki. Despite his pleas, Sen. Akpabio was sent back.
Senate President Bukola Saraki dashed the hope on early pardon and recall of suspended former Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Ali Ndume, as he described calls to that effect as distractive. This is even as thousands of pro-Senator Ali Ndume supporters barricaded the National Assembly premises earlier on Tuesday demanding that Senate revert its suspension of Sen. Ndume. Saraki indicated this much at the end of a marathon meeting held by the leadership of the APC with the Senate Caucus of the party at the Senate wing of the National Assembly Complex on Tuesday. When asked to comment on clamour for recall of Senator Ndume from suspension, the Senate President suddenly looked serious averring, “Your question again is distracting from the issues. You have 108 senators here. And you have the National Chairman. Let us focus on national issues.
Sahara Reporters has released an audio recording of Sen. Shehu Sani accusing Senate president Bukola Saraki and some members of the APC of plotting to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The audio was reportedly made on June 9, 2015 during the reception held for Sen. Sani shortly after his inauguration as a senator. In the video the Senator is speaking Hausa. In the audio transcript Sen. Sani said inter alia, below:
“ . . . today is meant to be a day of celebration for APC but unfortunately it has turned out to be a sad day with regards to what happened . . . not all positions in the Senate are led by APC members [because] some have betrayed the party and connived with PDP to share positions amongst themselves . . . There are two people contesting for this position: Ahmed Lawan from Yobe and Bukola Saraki from Kwara. Bukola Saraki knows he is not popular in the APC. The party called him and sat him down, but he refused to listen. The President, Muhammadu Buhari, called him and sat down with him but he also refused to listen. He went to sit with David Mark and co and they shared the positions amongst themselves. They connived and appointed him Senate President and they appointed a PDP member as Deputy Senate President, a position that is meant for an APC member . . . What happened today was, President Muhammadu Buhari this morning sent us a text message for all of us to meet at the International Conference Center in order to mediate between Ahmed Lawan and Bukola Saraki. But they rejected the invitation and went on to connive with PDP members that gave him Senate leadership . . . Their secret and evil plan is to sabotage this government so that President Buhari cannot do anything and at the end impeach him to bring Jonathan back. Imagine APC members conniving with PDP members rather than to come for unity. This is the reason we met here with you today, to emphasize my commitment to you that my senatorial post differs from the previous senators you were used to . . . “
Senator Shehu Sani has responded to SaharaReporters and agreed that this was his voice.
An FCT High Court seating in Jabi has struck out an application seeking an order to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), to investigate former EFCC chairmen for alleged corruption. Justice Abba-Bello Muhammad, struck out the application after listening to the submission of the applicants’ counsel, Mr Frank Tietie. Plaintiffs in the matter with suit number M/4853/17 were George Uboh and George Uboh Whistleblower Network. Justice Muhammad struck out the suit on the ground that the applicants lacked the locus standi to compel the Attorney- General to investigate past chairmen of the EFCC. According to the judge, the applicants have no power under the provisions of the law to decide for the AGF who to prosecute. “I have examined the application of the applicants seeking an order of the court to commence an action of mandamus on the respondents. Applicant must have a locus standi before such an application can be granted,’’ the judge said. According to Justice Muhammad, a private legal practitioner has no locus standi to compel the AGF to prosecute any person.
The Anambra State Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on Tuesday stormed the Chief Ralph Uwazuruike-led faction of MASSOB office in Ogbaru near Onitsha and arrested the MASSOB Anambra North Security Commander, Mr. Christian Oguchi Kato and four other members. No reason has been given for the arrest. Reports say that MASSOB has given the police 48 hours to release of its people, or it would paralyze business activities in the state. “They should not take our non-violence posture for weakness. If after 48 hours our people are not released, we will ground business activities in Onitsha and environs,” the Anambra North Zonal Leader of MASSOB, Emmanuel Omenka said.
The Italian government has deported 40 Nigerians for committing various offences in their country. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the deportees arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos on Tuesday night. The deportees, who are all male, were brought back in a chartered aircraft with registration number EL-SMU/3737. DSP Joseph Alabi, spokesperson of the Lagos Airport Police Command, confirmed the development. Mr. Alabi said 39 of the deportees were alleged to have committed immigration-related offences while one of them was allegedly involved in drug dealing. He said the deportees were received by officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), and the Police. Previously, 33 Nigerians were deported from Italy on February 23. The latest deportation comes less than a month after 37 Nigerians were deported from Italy on March 8.
The Consultant to the Federal Ministry of Defence, Prof. Bala Jack Yakubu, on Monday went down memory lane in remembrance of the Nigerian Civil War (Nigeria/Biafra War) in Owerri, the Imo State capital when he displayed some deadly weapons manufactured by gallant and ingenious Biafran scientists and engineers during the fratricidal war. Prof. Yakubu told journalists during the exercise in Owerri that, “all the weapons were recovered from the war theaters in parts of the South East and South South states and carefully detonated.”
The Consultant to the Federal Ministry of Defence, Prof. Bala Jack Yakubu, on Monday displayed some weapons and ordnance including the multi-barrel killer weapon, ‘ogbunigwe’ dubbed the mass killer during the war by Biafra soldiers, anti-personnel land mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Ojukwu anti-mines (vehicle hydraulic jacks), anti-tank mines for trucks, tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs), long range rocket launcher, anti aircraft missile, bunker cracker launch system, short range round steel ogbunigwe, Ojukwu air launch weapon system (air drop bomb), Ojukwu mortar, Ojukwu bucket (original ogunigwe) and others. Prof. Yakubu, however cried out that the remnants of the weapons used in the various theaters of war, have sadly continued to kill, or maim unsuspecting citizens. He added, “We are showcasing some of the weapons manufactured by Biafran engineers. They caused a lot of harm during the war and today, innocent people are the casualties of these remnants of war.” He appealed to Nigerians to report any suspicious objects to the nearest security agencies, and further warned that people in North Eastern States were likely to experience the same thing, when insurgency is finally crushed.
Prof Itse Sagay (SAN), the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has asked the Senate to withdraw the resolution summoning him over his comments.
In an April 3 letter to Senate President Bukola Saraki, Prof. Sagay said he would sue if the invitation was not withdrawn. The senators summoned Sagay before the Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Committee for allegedly calling them “childish and irresponsible” for asking President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the EFCC Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu. The PACAC chairman said his criticism was anchored on Section 171(1) of the Constitution, which empowered the President to appoint any person to hold or act as head of any extra-ministerial department. He said though he was not served with any summons, he deemed it fit to join issues with members of the Senate on the violation of his fundamental right to freedom of expression.
Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has enumerated his rights, which wae guaranteed by Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Section 88 of the Constitution under which the Senate purportedly summoned him is subject to other provisions of the Constitution, including Section 39, which guarantees freedom of expression. The Senate’s power to conduct enquiries “is not at large”. “The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provision of this section (88) are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to – (a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and (b) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it. “From the foregoing, you will agree with me that the enormous investigative powers of the National Assembly are circumscribed as they are exercisable subject to other provisions of the Constitution,” Sagay said.
Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has cited caselaw to buttress his rights against the Senate summons on him. The erudite professor of law cited the cases of Innocent Adikwu v. Federal House of Representatives ((1982) 3 NCLR 394 at 416),Senate of National Assembly v. Momoh ((1983) 4 NCLR 269 at 29), and Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai v. The House of Representatives, National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & Ors ((2003) 46 WRN 70), which he said show that the Senate’s powers to summon persons are not boundless. “Applying the principle of law enunciated in the above cited cases, I am fortified in my submission that the Senate lacks the constitutional power to summon me to justify my condemnation of the illegal actions of its members. Senate cannot be accuser, prosecutor and judge in its own cause,” he said.
Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has threatened to sue the Senate should they fail to withdraw the summons on him to appear before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Committee for allegedly calling them “childish and irresponsible” for asking President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the EFCC Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu. The Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria stated that any senator, who felt his reputation was damaged, could seek redress in court. “However, any aggrieved member of the Senate has the liberty to sue me for defamation in a competent court of jurisdiction. Consequently, I urge you to withdraw the resolution summoning me to appear before the Senate. If you fail to accede to my request, I will not hesitate to challenge the legal validity of the summons, once it is served on me,” Sagay said.