Following stunning revelations indicting the Minister of Transportation and former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, of attempting to bribe some Justices of the Supreme Court to pervert justice in the governorship election matters that were before the appellate court, the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), has called on the former governor of Rivers State to resign his position as he does not have any moral justification to remain in office as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Tide recalls that Amaechi is facing serious accusations by two reputable Supreme Court Justices of being behind their travails, including the raiding of their residences, arrest, detention and carting away of various vital items and documents as well as blackmail by operatives of Department of State Security Services.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the PDP Chairman, Jerry Needam, yesterday quoted the Justices, as alleging that Amaechi had approached them, demanding that Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Abia and Ekiti States election petitions must be delivered in favour of the All Progressives Congress, (APC).
In his revelation earlier, Hon Justice John Iyang Okoro, had stated that Amaechi told him that the President told him (Amaechi) to inform him that they (the APC) must win their election appeals in respect of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia States at all costs, and that if APC lost in Akwa Ibom State, where he (Amaechi) sponsored the candidate, he would have lost a fortune.
On his part, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta stated that his refusal at various times, to help the APC to pervert justice in governorship election disputes involving Ekiti, Rivers and Ebonyi States was responsible for his ordeal.
A letter dated October 18, which he forwarded to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed and the National Judicial Council, Ngwuta specifically fingered the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, to have attempted to bribe him, and that after the Supreme Court affirmed the election of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Amaechi also called him on phone and said “Oga is not happy”.
Shocked at this sterling revelations on the alleged subversive and undemocratic actions of Amaechi, considering the danger it poses to the nation’s democracy, the Chairman, Rivers State chapter of the PDP, Bro Felix Obuah, called on the relevant authorities to immediately commence investigation into the allegations, calling on the accused to step aside from carrying out national assignments in the capacity as a member of the Federal Executive Council, to allow for an uninterrupted and objective investigation by the relevant government security and anti- graft agencies.
The PDP chairman further called on President Muhammadu Buhari to also relieve the accused, of his position, pending the determination of the matter by the law enforcement and anti graft- agencies.
Obuah believed that, to further prove his innocence of the various allegations, Amaechi should resign, cooperate and allow the process of his investigation by not sabotaging any of such efforts in getting to the truth.
The PDP chairman explained that although the party was shocked at the extent Amaechi went about attempting to steal the mandate of Nigerian electorate, particularly in the mentioned states, but insisted that those revelations have vindicated the PDP in Rivers State, as it has consistently complained about the corrupt and undemocratic dispositions of Amaechi and some of his APC folks.
“We demand thorough investigation into these stunning revelations by these Justices of the Supreme Court, and call on the accused (Amaechi) to resign immediately, as he lacks the moral rectitude to remain in office as a public servant”, Obuah insisted.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has despatched seven queries to Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria over the alleged visit of Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to embattled Justice Inyang Okoro.
Amaechi has vehemently denied the visit and threatened to sue the judge.
But SERAP, in an open letter to Justice Mohammed, who is the chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) seeks explanations on what “he and the NJC knew or had reason to know regarding the report to them on 1st February, 2016, by Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court of Nigeria about the alleged visit.
“Okoro had alleged that Amaechi visited him at his official residence to discuss election appeals in respect of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia states.
“Okoro also claimed he told the chief justice about the visit of the APC governorship candidate, Umana Umana, to his residence to allegedly make the same request of assistance to win the appeal at the Supreme Court.”
SERAP’s letter to the NJC chairman, which was signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, states that, “We consider these allegations as constituting a serious threat to the independence, impartiality and accountability of the judiciary, and should in the ordinary course of duties, have prompted action from your Lordship and the NJC to wit: undertaking prompt, thorough and transparent investigations, and where there is prima-facie evidence of political interference in the judicial system, to report the matter to the appropriate anti-corruption commissions and agencies for further investigation and possible prosecution.
“SERAP strongly believes that the NJC has a responsibility to support judges in dealing with alleged corrupt inducements that are offered or the threats they receive, such as the allegations in this case.”
In this respect, SERAP urged CJN and the NJC address the questions arising from the claims to wit: First, is it correct to suggest that Justice Okoro reported to you and the NJC on 1st February, 2016, his alleged meeting at his official residence with Amaechi? Was Justice Okoro’s report documented by your Lordship and the NJC? If so, Nigerians would like to hear from your Lordship and the NJC whether Justice Okoro’s report was ever discussed, and what action, if any, was taken by your Lordship and the NJC to respond to the allegations raised in his report?”
“Second, is it fair to suggest that your Lordship and the NJC knew, or had reason to know, that the alleged visit by Amaechi to Justice Okoro’s official residence would constitute a case of political interference in the judicial system and a corruption offence under Nigerian laws and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party?”
“Third, after the alleged visit was brought to the attention of your Lordship and the NJC, did your Lordship and the NJC take any step to promptly and thoroughly investigate the matter further?
“Fourth, would your Lordship and the NJC agree that the alleged visit to Justice Okoro’s official residence to discuss election Appeals has seriously undermined the public trust and confidence in the judiciary, and the image of the judiciary as the last hope of the common man?”
“Fifth, is it correct to suggest that it is part of the inherent and implicit constitutional duties of the NJC to ensure that the judiciary as a whole does not lay itself open to the risk of political interference, manipulation and coercion to act in a certain way? Is it also correct to suggest that such duties require the NJC to promptly and thoroughly investigate allegations of political interference in the judicial system, that is, when those in political power allegedly use their influence to force or induce judges to act and rule according to their interests and not in accordance with the application of the law?”
In another development, the refusal of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to order the suspension from office of the seven judges, currently under investigation by the Department of State Service (DSS), has reportedly rattled the Presidency, a source said last night. The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, yesterday, insisted the judges would not be suspended, especially as there was no formal complaint to that effect from the DSS to the NJC. Mohammed spoke in a press statement. The statement was a follow up to the advertorial published in some newspapers, yesterday, by the NJC defending its position not to suspend the embattled judges.
The advertorial was responding to the statement by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that the judges should be suspended. The judges, whose homes were raided and arrested by operatives of the DSS during separate operations carried out on October 7 and 8, include two Justices of the Supreme Court, Sylvester Ngwuta and Iyang Okoro. Other judges are Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court Abuja, Kabir Auta of the Kano High Court, Muazu Pindiga of Gombe High Court, Mohammed Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin, and the Chief Judge of Enugu State, I. A. Umezulike.
According to a Presidency official, the action of the NJC, under the chairmanship of the CJN, amounted to a volt face. One of the prominent officials in the Buhari administration told our correspondent that the Presidency was shocked by what the CJN did shortly after visiting the Villa and expressing what appeared to be a disposition to suspend the affected judges from office pending the conclusion of their matters in court. “Obviously, it seems to us that the man has been ‘captured’, the Presidency official said, referring to the leadership of the NJC but did not explain what he meant by being captured.
“But the truth remains that this administration is not going to condone any form of graft and will not be deterred by the antics of the NJC since it is not a court with powers to try criminal matters. The official explained that the CJN, who heads the NJC, early last week, visited the Villa and may appear to have settled to an understanding that it was necessary to ask the affected judges to step aside from their duty posts until further notice only for him to do the opposite. The face-off between the two tiers of government has widened the gulf between them, raising questions as to who will eventually try the seven judges to be arraigned for alleged corruption this week.
The National Prosecution Council and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, according to Sunday Vanguard sources, have been mandated to handle the trial of the affected judges in batches, while the DSS may serve as a key witness against them. CJN defiant In his statement, yesterday, CJN Mohammed said he was yet to get a formal complaint from the DSS, regarding the seven judges. He maintained that the misunderstanding was between the NJC, which was established by the Constitution, and the DSS which, he said, belongs to the Presidency.
The statement, signed by Senior Special Assistant to the CJN, H. S. Sa’eed, read: “Under the powers provided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(as amended) and as the Head of the Third Arm of Government, the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council, Honourable Justice Mahmud Mohammed, GCON is calling on all Nigerians to continue to have faith and full confidence in the Nigerian Judiciary.
“The Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria (Hon. CJN) is indeed deeply concerned by the rising antagonism over the recent arrest of our Judicial Officers and other issues pertaining thereto. “Furthermore, it must be reiterated that the current misunderstanding is only between the National Judicial Council (NJC), which was established by the Constitution and the Directorate of the State Security (DSS), in the Presidency. “Hence, we must emphasise that the Judiciary continues to maintain cordial relations with the other arms of government, that is, the Executive and the National Assembly.
“The Hon. CJN reiterates that the Nigerian Judiciary, as an Arm of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is not a party in this matter, nor is the Nigerian Judiciary on trial.
“On the call by President of the Nigerian Bar, A. B. Mahmoud, SAN, to suspend Judicial Officers whose residences were invaded and who were subsequently arrested and detained by the DSS, we believe that the call was unnecessary and hasty as the said Judicial Officers are still being investigated by the DSS.
“Furthermore, the DSS is yet to forward any complaint or any official communication regarding the seven Judicial Officers to the National Judicial Council. “Indeed, some of the affected Judicial Officers have already been investigated by the NJC, which found some culpable and recommended their removal from office by dismissal or retirement to the President and respective Governors as provided under the Constitution. “While some are still being investigated by the NJC, in respect of others, no complaint against them has been received by the NJC whose powers to suspend must be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution establishing it.
“The National Judicial Council is currently investigating the various complaints made against a number of Judicial Officers. As soon as such investigations are completed, appropriate recommendations will be made to the President or Governors, as the case may be, who will have the final say on the fate of the affected Judicial Officers who could then be charged for the offences disclosed from the facts against them and be prosecuted if necessary.
“The Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria also wishes to state in clear terms that the ‘sting’ operations carried out by the DSS on 07 and 08 October 2016 was certainly an assault on the independence of the Nigerian Judiciary. “Nonetheless, the Judiciary fully supports the anti-corruption drive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
“The Nigerian Judiciary has never and will never shield any Judicial Officer who is found to be guilty of corruption, however, the Hon. CJN believes that due process and the rule of law must be followed. “As a testament to our commitment to uphold the Constitution, the Nigerian Judiciary continues to function and our Courts remain open to all who seek remedy. “With the support and good will of all Nigerians, the Nigerian Judiciary will continue to serve with all its heart and might”. Body of SANs backs NBA Separately, yesterday, the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria threw its weight behind the call by the NBA on the arrested judges to proceed on leave of absence pending when they are given a clean bill of health.
The Body, which met in Lagos, endorsed every action taken by the NBA President, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), so far on the judges. The meeting was attended by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. On Amaechi, Onu, Presidency keeps mum
In a related development, the Presidency is keeping sealed lips on the allegations against the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, and his colleague in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, both of whom some of the embattled judges accused of using the DSS against them for refusing to oblige their request to influence matters bordering on the 2015 elections.
2023: PDP Govs Task NASS On New Electoral Law
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum has tasked the National Assembly to immediately set up a conference committee to harmonize the two versions of the Electoral Act Amendment passed recently by the two chambers.
In a statement, yesterday, the Chairman of the forum and Sokoto State Governor, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, said any delay in the passing and assenting of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill will hamper preparations for the conduct of the 2023 polls.
The forum also charged the National Assembly to adopt the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives, as it gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the latitude to adopt electronic transmission of election results.
“The PDP Governors’ Forum requests the Senate and House of Representatives (House) Conference Committee when set up, to adopt the House version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on the issue of electronic transmission.
“It should be noted that Section 52(2) of the House version says, ‘Voting at an election and transmission of result under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission,’ and Section 52 (2) of the Senate version provides, ‘The commission may consider electronic transmission of results provided that the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.
“The Senate version which subjects the decision of INEC to deploy electronic transmission to the decision of the Nigerian Communications Commission and National Assembly is manifestly a usurpation of the powers of INEC and offends relevant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees INEC’s autonomy and independence,” the opposition governors.
According to them, INEC has demonstrated capacity to transmit votes electronically with the introduction and deployment of the Biomodel Voters Accreditation System (BVAs), used in the recent bye-election in Delta State.
The PDP governors further charged the National Assembly conference committee on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, to jettison the position of the House to compel all political parties to adopt one method of conducting primary elections.
“The forum is of the view that political parties should be allowed discretion to adopt either direct or indirect primaries in their Constitutions and in practice.
“The Senate version that retains the original provision in the Electoral Act should be adopted in the interest of the growth of our political parties and freedom of choice, the hallmark of a functional democracy.
“This intervention of the PDP governors is predicted on the need to ensure a free, fair and credible election, that strengthens Nigeria’s democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law. Only a credible election will guarantee accountability and good governance which Nigeria so desperately needs today,” the governors stated.
Cholera: NCDC Records 46 New Deaths In One Week
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 46 new deaths linked to suspected cholera cases were recorded in the country in the past one week.
The NCDC said this via its officially verified website, yesterday morning, stating that the situation report was published based on data sent in by the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, for the respective reporting week.
It stated that eight states accounted for the new cholera fatalities.
The public health agency, in its epidemiological report for August 30 to September 5, said a total of 2,323 people had so far died as a result of suspected cholera infections in 25 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), since the beginning of 2021.
It stated that 1,677 cholera infections were recorded in 12 states within the period of one-week, bringing the total suspected cases to 69,925 as at September 5.
“In the reporting week, 12 states reported 1,677 suspected cases – Bauchi (566), Katsina (282), Sokoto (258), Yobe (183), Borno (179), Niger (94), Kaduna (66), Adamawa (34), Gombe (8), Kano (4), Kebbi (2), and Nasarawa (1),” the report said.
“There was a 58% decrease in the number of new suspected cases in week 35 (1,667) compared with week 34 (3,992).
“Of the cases reported, there were 46 deaths from Borno (13), Sokoto (12), Katsina (8), Bauchi (6), Niger (3), Kaduna (2), Adamawa (1) and Kano (1) states with a weekly case fatality ratio (CFR) of 2.7%.
“Twenty-five states and the FCT have reported suspected cholera cases in 2021. These are Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, FCT, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara.
“As at September 5, 2021, a total of 69,925 suspected cases, including 2,323 deaths (CFR 3.3%) have been reported from 25 states and FCT in 2021.
“Two new states (Osun and Ekiti) reported cases, though with dates of onset in weeks prior to week 35,” it explained.
The NCDC added that the national multi-sectoral EOC activated at level 02 continued to coordinate the national response.
Cholera is a waterborne disease with a high risk of transmission where there are poor sanitation and disruption of clean water supply.
The wrong disposal of refuse and practices, such as open defecation, endanger the safety of water used for drinking and for personal use, thereby leading to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, and without proper WASH, Nigeria remained at risk of cholera cases and deaths.
Buhari Seeks Senate’s Approval For $4bn, €710m External Loan
President Muhammadu Buhari, has asked the Senate to approve a fresh loan of $4,054,476, 863.00, €710million, and a grant of $125million to finance critical projects in the 2021 budget.
Buhari’s request was contained in his letter read by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, at plenary following the resumption of the upper chamber from its two-month annual vacation, yesterday.
According to the President, the request is an addendum to the proposed 2018–2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan earlier approved by the National Assembly.
He said that the projects listed in the addendum to the 2018–2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Credit Suisse Group, among others.
“In view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June, 2021 are incorporated, I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan,” Buhari said.
The letter titled, ‘Addendum to the request for Senate’s concurrent approval of multilateral fund projects under the 2018-2021 Federal Government external borrowing (rolling) plan’ reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2021 Federal Government external borrowing (rolling) plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for same to become effective.
“The distinguishing Senate President may wish to recall that I earlier transmitted a request on the proposed 2018-2020 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan for the concurrent approval of the Senate in May, 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June, 2021 are incorporated. I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan.
“The projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE), in the total sum of $4,054,476,863.00, plus €710million, and grant component of $125million.
“The Senate is kindly invited to note that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive, technical and economic evaluations and the contribution they would make to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation and poverty reduction as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society
“The Senate may also wish to note that all the listed projects in the addendum form part of the 2018-2021 External Borrowing Plan and covered both the Federal and States Government Projects and are geared towards the realization of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan that cut across key sectors such as infrastructure, health, agriculture and food security, energy, education and human capital development and Covid-19 response efforts.
“I hereby wish to request for the kind consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan to enable the projects become effective.”
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