Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says unless Nigerians experience good governance at the federal level, agitations will continue across different parts of the country.
Speaking during the 57th Independence Church Service at the Saint Mark’s Anglican Church in Port Harcourt yesterday, Governor Wike said that Rivers State is not part of any agitation for secession.
He said: “In as much as you continue to have bad governance, people will continue to agitate across the country.
“We give God the glory that we are still one, despite the agitations and challenges. God has blessed this country. We are not part of those who want to secede. Rivers State will never be part of that.”
The governor, however, pointed out that the country cannot continue with the current level of impunity and injustice, saying that it is time for the right thing to be done.
He said: “People must speak out that what is going on is not correct. Under this dispensation, votes no longer count. I have faith that we will come out of the present predicament “.
The governor explained that one of the reasons why politicians act irrationally is because they know that Police and INEC can manipulate results in their favour.
He called for better security and justice for all federating units to give all Nigerians a sense of belonging and de-escalate tension across the land.
He reiterated his call for the investigation of the criminal activities of the Special Anti-robbery Squad, which he said has become a notorious criminal gang.
In his sermon, Anglican Bishop of Evo Diocese, Rt Rev Innocent Ordu said Nigeria has developed despite her many challenges.
He urged Nigerians to respect the laws of the country, support constituted authorities and work for the growth of the country.
The Independence Church Service attracted top government officials, security agencies and traditional rulers.
NDLEA Partners PAP To Curb Drug Abuse In N’Delta …As Dikio Identifies Causes Of New Wave Of Militancy
The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) has said that high drug substance abuse among youths in the Niger Delta was responsible for the new wave of militancy in the region.
Dikio made this assertion when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), in Abuja, recently, saying that urgent steps should be taken to curb such abuse.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Nneotaobase Egbe, the PAP interim coordinator said that the partnership between NDLEA and PAP would drastically reduce cases of drug abuse, and reposition the minds of the youths for more productive ventures to sustain the peace and development in the region.
“We have a unique challenge in the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP): that of managing ex-militants; we call them ex-agitators. We want to take active measures to not only manage the present ex-agitators, but to pre-empt and stop the pipeline that leads to deviant behaviours and militancy.
“It goes without saying that some of these people get their motivation by using or abusing substances, so, we want to key into what you are doing on the arrest side and learn what we can do on the prevention side”, he stated.
Responding, the NDLEA Chairman, Brig-Gen Buba Marwa (rtd) promised that his agency would partner with PAP to curb the intake of hard drugs and other banned substances by youths in the Niger Delta.
He decried the wave of drug-induced crime in the country, especially among youths, noting that the collaboration between PAP and his agency would focus on sensitisation and counselling as a major preventive measure to curb the menace.
He identified poverty as the main cause of drug abuse in Nigeria, and explained that criminals used drugs to embolden themselves before embarking on any criminal activity.
Marwa used the opportunity to reel out some alarming drug statistics in the country, and also lauded the willingness and commitment of Dikio to make the Niger Delta a drug-free zone.
He added that 80per cent of drug users in the country only required counselling, insisting that records corroborated by a United Nations’ study showed that in Nigeria, one in seven persons between ages 23 to 64 abused drugs.
“We have also found that students, bandits, kidnappers, rapists, down the line youths, and militants use drugs, and we will be very happy to collaborate with the Amnesty Programme.
“We don’t need to wait for people to become drug addicts first; the majority have not used drugs, others have tasted but are not addicted to it. The ex-agitators are also normal human beings that will like to marry and raise families.
“The advice we give that will deal with the drug problem is to find some source of income for them through skills acquisition and if it is affordable, some kind of wage structure”, the statement added.
By: Akujobi Amadi
Why Rivers Won’t Enact Bill For Financial Autonomy Of Judiciary -Wike …Embrace Judicial Activism, Gov Charges NBA …Seeks Speedy End To VAT Case At S’Court
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that the state government would not enact a bill for financial autonomy of the Judiciary.
This is as the governor, also urged Nigerian lawyers to engage in judicial activism as a deliberate measure to addressing the slow dispensation of justice, and attempts to stifle the rights of the citizenry, just as he sought accelerated justice dispensation of the suit seeking constitutional interpretation on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by the Supreme Court.
The governor maintained that it would be futile to bother the state House Assembly with such bill since the 1999 Constitution as amended already recognises independence of the Judiciary.
Wike made this assertion at the dinner in honour of delegates to the 61st Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), at the banquet hall, Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday night.
The governor noted that since Nigeria does not practice unitary system of government, it would be wrong for the Federal Government to issue directives to states on how they should run their affairs.
“Nobody can force me on how my state will operate. Nobody can say send this bill to the Legislature for Judiciary autonomy. The Constitution has already guaranteed that the Judiciary must be independent and we have agreed on that.
“Amendment had been done that the Judiciary must be independent, and on first line charge. If I’m not obeying that, there is a sanction for it.”
The governor explained that the state government had released all 2021 capital expenditure due to the Judiciary since September.
He challenged the Federal Government to prove it has done same.
Wike urged the Federal Government to desist from playing to the gallery with the issue of financial autonomy for the Judiciary.
According to him, a Federal Government with decrepit High Court buildings across the country cannot truly claim it fully supports financial autonomy for the Judiciary.
“Are they giving the Judiciary at the federal level the budget they are supposed to have in order to put the courts in order?”
Wike warned that the Rivers State Government will resist any attempt by the Federal Government to deduct funds meant for the state under the guise of implementing financial autonomy for the Judiciary.
The governor said the NBA cannot continue to be docile while security agencies are used by the Federal Government to intimidate and harass judges.
According to him, “When the Judiciary is destroyed, the legal profession is gone.”
Wike, also took a swipe at the past leadership of NBA for not protesting against the closure of courts in Rivers State for almost two years by the Governor Chibuike Amaechi-led administration.
He used the occasion to eulogise the Chairman of Council of Legal Education, Nigerian Law School, Emeka Ngige (SAN) for endorsing the establishment of the Port Harcourt campus of the Nigerian Law School.
The Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, charged the NBA to all time stands in defence of the interest of people of the country.
The President, Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, SAN, commended Wike for his unflinching support for the Judiciary and the Bar.
Akpata said the governor’s conscientious support and defence of the Judiciary was a pointer to his firm belief that institution of state should be strengthened.
The NBA president stated that when Wike leaves office, posterity would remember him as a man who fervently contributed his quota to nation building.
Chairman, Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria in Rivers State and former NBA President, Onueze C.J. Okocha lauded Wike for his numerous landmark achievements in office.
Earlier, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike urged Nigerian lawyers to engage in judicial activism as a deliberate measure to addressing the slow dispensation of justice, and attempts to stifle the rights of the citizenry, just as he sought accelerated justice dispensation of the suit seeking constitutional interpretation on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by the Supreme Court.
The governor gave the charge, last Monday, at the 61st Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Port Harcourt.
Wike said no excellence can be achieved in the nation’s judicial system when judges lack the courage to enforce the law with equal measure because they are constantly under some form of political intimidation or pressure to please vested interests.
He wondered why the NBA has continued to focus less on promoting and fighting for the values of good governance, democracy, judicial independence, human rights and the rule of law when there is urgent need for them to do so.
“Never in our political history has Nigeria been so badly governed and denied of good governance with the Federal Government woefully failing in its basic duties to provide for the wellbeing and security of its own citizens as we have experienced in the last six years.
“On a daily basis the economic, social and political rights, including the rights to personal security, freedom of speech, association, dissent and peaceful protests, as well as the right to personal liberty are being violated with impunity by the present central administration and its security apparatus.
“The invasion on personal liberty has been brazen and indiscriminate, such that even judges of the superior courts, including Supreme Court justices, have in the recent past been victims of midnight assaults on their premises and subjection to unlawful arrests and imprisonments.
“Lately, the new devious trend is to tag security risks to innocent Nigerians and opposition elements and use the immigration authority to seize their international passports without a prior court order.”
Wike said it is not enough for the Federal Government to issue Executive Order 10 and do nothing more pragmatic about resourcing the Judiciary to the fullest possible extent, including enhanced judicial welfare and conditions of service.
According to him, there was need to seek judicial interpretation of the Executive Order 10 because, in itself, it is an oppressive erosion of the powers and autonomy of the sub-national governments to administer their own judicial budgets in line with prevailing economic indices.
“It is for similar reasons of strengthening fiscal federalism that we are in court to determine the proper authority, under our Constitution for imposing and collecting the Value Added Tax (VAT) in our country.
“These are very nationally sensitive issues and Nigerians are eagerly waiting for the final outcome of the judicial process. We, therefore, wonder why the Supreme Court is not giving accelerated hearing to these matters and respectfully request that this should be done in the national interest.”
Speaking further, Wike said it was time for everybody to work collectively towards building a strong legal system that is well-resourced, independent and effective in the administration of justice.
He said his administration has built, rebuilt, furnished and equipped old and new courthouses for the entire spectrum of the state and federal judicial system, including the Rivers State High Court, the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt.
Wike remarked that his administration is also spending N16billion to build the Nabo Graham-Douglas, SAN, Nigerian Law School campus in Port Harcourt.
This is in addition to the provision of administration and maintenance overheads of N10million per month for the next four years.
In his address, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, charged the NBA and its members that serve in various offices in the arms of government to lead the crusade to address the poor condition of service of national judicial officers.
Justice Muhammad, who was represented by Justice Mary Odili, in his remarks before declaring the NBA conference open, observed that administration of justice is being hampered by assault that litigants, especially politicians and some lawyers, launch on the Judiciary when their ends are not met.
He urged the NBA to also take measures to discipline its erring members who do not only ridicule the Judiciary but also abuse its processes.
Justice Muhammad noted that as Nigeria remain faced with the challenges of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, agitations for secession and resource control, the peace of the country now rests on the balance of the scale of justice.
In his keynote address, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukuh, said it has been difficult to review the nation’s Constitution in a manner that meets the current aspirations of Nigerians because of the poor quality of those saddled with such responsibility.
According to him, any tenable constitution should be one that provides a mirror for each Nigerians to recognise him or herself as a citizen and not as an instrument that distributes favours to vested interests, sections or tribes.
Kukah wondered about the usefulness of having 120,000 members on NBA list that cannot be harnessed to provide the leadership that was required to save the country from the quagmire of having a workable constitution for Nigeria.
He said Nigerians suffer identity crisis because politics have been immersed in religion and making it difficult to have legal system that can address all issues and promote freedom and justice without any form of discrimination.
“Our politicians must become very careful and more circumspect. If we are going to take a lesson away from Boko Haram, from banditry, from where we find ourselves now, it is that there is an urgent need for politicians to become more restrained in their involvement with religion; because their religious identity remains a very troubling identity.”
Deputy Senate President, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege said the National Assembly has taken steps to ensure transparency of elections in Nigeria by giving nod to the electronic transmission of results.
On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila said the Legislature was committed to ensuring that the rule of law thrives in the country.
In his welcome address, NBA President, Olumide A. Akpata explained that the 2021 conference comprises over 25 technical sessions where subject matter experts would lead conversations primarily aimed at envisaging the future of the legal profession within the context of a rapidly changing world and measures that lawyers would be required to embrace in order to remain relevant.
He expressed the profound gratitude of the NBA to the government and people of Rivers State led by Wike, for their support and legendary hospitality.
Present at the conference were the Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong; former NBA presidents, Onueze O.C.J. Okocha (SAN); Okey Wali (SAN); Paul Usoro, SAN; and Austin Alege, SAN, and lawyers from the 36 states of the country.
Others are Hon Femi Gbajabiamila represented by Barrister Luke Onofiok; Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, in a representative capacity; President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem; Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simon Amadi; former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki; former Rivers State Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia; former Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, M.D. Abubakar; among others.
Rivers Not Fighting FG Over Tax Collection, Wike Clarifies …Introduce Wealth Tax To Check Poverty, Raji Tells Govt
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has said that the state was not fighting the Federal Government or any of its agencies over collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) as being insinuated in some quarters.
This is as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ahmed Raji, called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce Wealth Tax Policy that would make super-rich Nigerians pay deserved tax that would be used to cater for the down-trodden citizens in the country.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja at a public lecture entitled: “Taxing Powers in a Federal System” to mark the 60th birthday of Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), Wike said that the state was only trying to pursue what was right and legitimate within the ambits of the Constitution.
The governor, who represented by the Attorney-General of the state, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN), maintained that both Rivers State and the federal governments were co-equal because they both derived their life from the Constitution.
“I have heard a lot of comments being made that we are fighting the Federal Government, there is no desire or any intention of the Rivers State Government to fight the Federal Government.
“The principle of co-equality is fundamental to a federal arrangement, that principle leads to the principle of autonomy; autonomy leads to fiscal autonomy; and fiscal autonomy leads to fiscal federalism; and when you put all the principles together, what it means is that each level of government, whether federal or state is co-equal because none derives its life from the other.
“They both derive their life from the Constitution because they have co-equality.
“That is the fundamental aspect of fiscal federalism, and until we get it, we will continue this journey of talking without result but I think that the court has a role to play, the court can lay this crises and controversy to rest when it makes a pronouncement”, Wike said.
Also speaking at the event, Prof. Abiola Sani appealed to the Judiciary to make definite and definitive pronouncement on the impasse surrounding tax collection in Nigeria’s federal system.
Sani, a professor of commercial law, who was the guest lecturer at the occasion, called on the National Assembly to use the on-going Constitution amendment to bring out clear taxing powers among the three tiers of government.
In his remarks on the excruciating poverty in the country, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Ahmed Raji called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce Wealth Tax Policy to make super-rich Nigerians pay the deserved tax that would be used to cater for the down-trodden citizens in the country.
The Abuja-based senior lawyer said that the suggested tax policy, if introduced and implemented, would make the super-rich Nigerians to contribute meaningfully to government’s purse to bridge the gap between the affluent and super poor in the nation.
Raji, who spoke at a public lecture entitled, “Taxing Powers in a Federal System” in Abuja to mark his 60th birthday, remarked that time has come for government to do real balancing between the rich and the poor in Nigeria.
He argued that in the face of harsh economic situation starring poor Nigerians in the face, the poor need to be subsidised and not to be taxed under any guise so as to balance their anger against the rich.
Raji noted that evidence were sufficient that some super-rich class own personal jets worth $50million each at a time when some families could not afford to eat twice a day, adding that the country cannot witness genuine peace under such situation.
“It is a fact that the downturn in Nigeria’s economy is having harsh and devastating effects on the poor majority Nigerians. The wide disparity between the rich and the poor should be of grave concern to patriotic Nigerians and the way out must be found.
“The gap between the rich and the poor is so much and so offensive that it can lead to break down of law and order at any moment.
“It is in the interest of justice that the super-rich should shed part of their stupendous wealth to cater for the down-trodden masses before it is too late.
“Majority of Nigerians are in absolute poverty. Over 90 percentage of the Nigerian population is in abject poverty and time has come for us, including myself to address the ugly situation.
“Any attempt to pretend that all is well may spell doom for the nation. We will be sitting on a keg of powder if we refuse to address the challenges of the poor masses now”, he warned.
He appealed to the government that the instrumentality of Wealth Tax must be adopted and used to develop the Nigerian nation as done in the United States of America, United Kingdom and France.
The senior lawyer said he opted to use the public lecture to mark his birthday so as to use it to draw attention to some burning issues and challenges that deserve public attention rather than mere merry making.
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