Make NASS Override Buhari On Electoral Act, Wike Tells Nigerians …Urges Greater Legislative Independence …As RSG Approves N.2bn Loan For Traders, Others

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike (2nd right), Justice AB Gumel , representing Chief Justice of Nigeria,(middle) President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) (right), Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Adama Iyaye-Laminkara (left) and Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Hon. Justice Kate Abiri , during the 2018 Annual Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Section on Legal Practice Conference in Port Harcourt,yesterday.

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has called on Nigerians to prevail on the National Assembly to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the 2010 Electoral Act Amendment Bill to guarantee free, fair and credible electoral system in the country.
Addressing the 2018 Annual Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Section on Legal Practice Conference in Port Harcourt yesterday , Governor Wike urged Nigerian legal practitioners to rise up and insist on the relevance of the amended Electoral Act 2010.
He said: “We must all stand up against the devilish efforts by some anti-democratic forces to kill the ongoing process to amend the 2010 Electoral Act on the whimsical excuse that the order of elections proposed in the Amendment Bill contravenes the discretionary powers of INEC, which, in any case, has not complained of any mischief occasioned by the new order.
”Let me remind us that a defining feature of the legal profession is the commitment to promote both the substantive rules and the processes of the law, as well as, to defend the democratic values of our society.”
Governor Wike said though the 2010 Electoral Act was enacted to promote credible elections, the All Progressive Congress (APC) working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police manipulated the Act to rig the rerun elections in Rivers State.
He said in view of the fraudulent activities of INEC, APC and the Police , the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal upheld results concocted by the Police for the Rivers Rerun Elections
He said: “We all saw how results sheets were duplicated with identical serial numbers and handed over to the police to entre fake results and returns in favour of the candidates of the APC in the said elections.
“In spite of this law, we all saw how both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal anchored their verdicts on results that were generated and certified from the custody of the Nigerian Police, while the results from INEC, which conducted the elections, were branded irrelevant and accordingly rejected.
”What all these mean is that a thousand Electoral Laws may amount to nothing for as long as the Federal Government, the INEC, the Police and other government agencies that may legally or illegally be brought into the election process, continue to disrespect the law and trample on our democratic rights to free and fair elections with impunity and without suffering any legal pains or punishment for their criminal conduct.”
Governor Wike urged the legal profession to constantly reinvent and reposition itself in response to existing and new challenges both in the theory and practice of the law.
The governor also said lawyers must also rethink the way they practice to remain relevant in the profession and meet the needs of their clients and society in the most professional, diligent and efficient manner.
Declaring the conference open, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onoghen represented by Justice AB Gumel said the timing of the conference is right as it will allow the bench and bar the opportunity to appraise emerging issues of justice delivery.
He urged judges to adhere to the tenets of the law in their delivery of judgments.
President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) said the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Law Practice is a vehicle for deepening professional practice in the bar.
Chairman of NBA Section on Legal Practice, Mainnaya Essien (SAN) said recent ethical issues require an appraisal of practice and challenges.
Highpoint of the conference was the presentation of a recognition plaque to Governor Wike by the NBA President for the outstanding contributions of the Rivers State Governor to the legal profession.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has called on National and State Assembly Commissions to provide strong and effective institutional support to the legislative houses, for greater independence of the legislature.
Wike made the call, yesterday, when he declared open the seventh National and State Assembly Commissions Conference in Port Harcourt open. He said the effective performance by the national and state assemblies would help in the development of democracy.
“It takes strong, independent and efficient national and state assemblies to advance the basic development goals. Legislative houses also need strong and effective institutional support to be effective. This is where the role and relevance of national and state assemblies become necessary.
“Creation of the Assembly Service Commissions is vital as it has made the national and state assemblies one of the most independent in Africa.”
The governor said the recruitment, promotion and discipline of parliamentary staff by the national and state assembly commissions would ensure the executive does not control the legislative arm.
He said there is need for a cooperative relationship between the national and state assemblies for the entrenchment of democratic values at all levels.
In his address, Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, Dr Adamu Fika, said in spite of the benefits of the State Assembly Service Commission to the development of the legislature, many states were yet to establish their commissions.
He appealed to all state governments yet to establish their assembly service commission, to do so, for the independence of the legislature.
He said: “The theme of this year’s conference, which is, ‘Enhancing synergy for service delivery in the legislature’, is meant to strengthen the foundation of the legislative service, by building a strong collaboration, to enhance nationwide synergy for service delivery.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, represented by Deputy Chief Whip, Parley Iriase, said the House would work towards ensuring all states establish their assembly service commissions.
Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Sani Omolori, said the conference was necessary as it would build the capacity of parliamentary staff to work effectively.
Also, Chairman of Rivers State Assembly Service Commission, Chidi Amadi, said the state is glad to be the first to host the conference after seven years.
Elsewhere, Wike said his administration has provided entrepreneurial motivations for business to thrive in the state.
He made the remark at the 2018 Conference for Emerging Entrepreneurs (CEE 2018) organised by the United States of America Consulate, Lagos, at the Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS), University of Port Harcourt.
The governor, who spoke through his deputy, Dr. (Mrs) Ipalibo Harry Banigo, said through its Micro Finance Agency and the Ministry of Women Affairs, Rivers state government has provided soft loans to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
He said the state government has also provided interest-free government-backed bank loans to 25 private medical institutions as well as harmonising taxes in the state to provide an enabling environment for growth and stability of enterprises.
Wike said the state government has approved a Rivjobs Project, aimed at tackling the prevalent challenges organisations face in finding quality talents to recruit, while job seekers find it difficult to get notification on job openings within the state.
The platform, he said, would also provide online training which would expose youths to entrepreneurial skills, adding that government has also approved the development and launch of Rivers Creek Tech, to serve as a habitat to support technological entrepreneurship and innovation.
In another development, the Rivers State Executive Council has approved the setting aside of N200million monthly as Interest Free Loans to traders and young entrepreneurs.
The State Executive Council also approved a direct empowerment scheme for 10,000 women from the 23 Local Government Areas who will be financially supported by the Rivers State Government to improve their respective businesses.
The governor directed the State Ministry of Women Affairs to ensure the fair representation of all local government areas.
The Rivers State Executive Council at its Wednesday meeting presided over by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, said that the interest free loan will be disbursed monthly to the traders and young entrepreneurs for them to carry out small and medium-sized enterprises.
Briefing journalists after the State Executive Council meeting at the Government House Port Harcourt on Wednesday, State Information and Communications Commissioner, Mr Emma Okah, said that the Council approved the recruitment of 2000 young men to work with the state government to stop illegal Street trading in Port Harcourt and its environs.
According to him, the young men will work with the State Executive Task Force to clear the streets of illegal traders, pointing out that the council also approved the recruitment of 1000 women for the regular sanitation of Port Harcourt and its environs.
As part of the efforts to ensure adequate evacuation of illegal street traders on the roads, he added that the state Executive Council also approved on extra seven days of grace, expiring on April 18, 2018. .
Government, he said approved the extension following entreaties by traders and other Nigerians and urged traders to find alternative trading venues.
The Tide also learnt that the State Executive Council approved the elaborate celebration of the third anniversary of the Wike administration.