The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has described the sustained rancorous relationship between the legislative arm of government and the executive as a threat to democracy.
In a statement signed by its National Chairman, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and the Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, yesterday, CNPP urged “all Nigerian security agencies to stop meddling in the political affairs of the country and allow democratic forces to freely operate like in every other democracy.”
It said, “The barricade of the residence of the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and that of the Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu is the culmination ofthe altercation between the executive and the legislative arms of government in the country”.
The body of registered political parties and association stated this while reacting to the security barricade of the residential houses of both Saraki and Ekweremadu in Abuja, yesterday morning.
The CNPP said, “Following truncated impeachment process against President Muhammadu Buhari at the Senate, the constant intimidation of lawmakers by the agents of the executive is the culmination of the ongoing distrust between the two arms of government.
“No democracy will survive in an atmosphere of unbridled interference by the executive in the affairs of the legislative chambers, using the coercive forces at its disposal to muzzle dissenting voices and distort free flow of democratic forces and freedom to associate.
“The Constitution of Nigeria, which both the executive and legislative members swore to uphold guarantees freedom of association and right to hold opinion and it will be detrimental to the deepening of our democracy for security agencies to deny any Nigerian these rights, rather all security forces are to ensure that these rights are respected”, the CNPP stated.
In a swift reaction, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar condemned the alleged siege in the Abuja residences of Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu by men of the Nigerian Police Force, yesterday.
Secondus, who accused President Muhammadu Buhari of using state security as attack dogs of his government, said there was a plot to remove the current leadership ofthe Senate by force, warning that such move may cripple the nation’s democracy.
Warning the Commander-in-Chief on the consequence of endangering the nation’s democracy, Secondus further noted that nothing has been done in the past three years of President Buhari’s administration to deepen the democratic process.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) government led by President Muhammadu Buhari using state security apparatus of the Department of State Service (DSS), Army and the Nigerian Police have attacked the National Assembly with the aim of forcibly overthrowing the National Assembly leadership and rendering the third arm of government comatose.
It is now a known fact that democracy has collapsed in Nigeria and we are now under a totalitarian and fascist government with no appetite for opposition.
“President Buhari is a beneficiary of democratic election into power and since he took over on May 29, 2015, he has done nothing but destroy every fabric of democracy and the rule of law.
“We call on all Nigerians home and abroad to immediately speak up against this act of gross violation of the Constitution of Nigerian and the attempted disruption of the democratic process and institutions by President Buhari and privatized members of the Nigerian security agencies,Secondus said in a statement made available to journalists, yesterday.
Also reacting, Atiku expressed worry over the alleged siege on Saraki and Ekweremadu’s homes, saying democracy must not be ambushed by those who ought to nurture it by virtue of the position they hold.
He said: I remind the powers that be that on August 31,2013, when Senator Bukola Saraki walked out of the PDP and began the process of joining the APC, there was celebration in their camps.
I also remind them that their electoral victory, which they have so badly mismanaged today, would not have been possible without the Senate President.
“Power is transient and is also a trust that should only be used for the good and advancement of the people one leads and not for the persecution of real and imagined political opponents.
“I remind President Muhammadu Buhari of his public words of solidarity to Senator Saraki after his ordeal of malicious prosecution, which thankfully was brought to a halt by the Supreme Court, and I urge him to live up to those words today and always”.
Similarly, former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, criticized the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris over the invasion of Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s residence.
Ezekwesili, reacting to the development called on IGP Idris to retrace his steps, follow processes and respect that the country is running a system of democracy.
The former minister on her Twitter page wrote: “What exactly are the officers of the IG of Police, Ibrahim Idris doing with such brazen low-quality policing tactics?
“Please, let the IGP know immediately that this is a democracy. There are laid down processes that must be followed at all times for everyone.”
In the same vein, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose condemned the incident, stating that he warned Nigerians of impending tyranny in the country.
The governor on his Twitter page wrote, “Now the tyranny is reaching everyone. I warned Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has urged security operatives on siege to Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu’s residence, to vacate the place and allow him to enjoy his constitutional right.
He said that the siege was a violation of the right of Ekweremadu, explaining that “this morning I left Enugu for Abuja to attend today’s sitting.
“Half way to the airport, I heard a distress call from the aides working with the Deputy Senate President that his residence and the entire street had been cordoned off and nobody can move out of the house.
“As I am talking now, the people of Enugu State resident in Abuja have moved to his house and they are there shouting in the rain for his release.
“What offence has he committed that would warrant his wife and children to be denied freedom to go about their duties.
“Some people told me that they heard some people want to defect today and because of that they don’t want him to come to the sitting.
“I also heard that they don’t want the senate president to come so that both presiding officers will not be here but thank God that the Senate President is in this place,” he said.
Supporting the motion, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu (PDP-Imo) said the development was a threat to democracy.
He said, “I was with Ekweremadu, yesterday (Monday), and there was no notice from the police. I wonder why his house is under siege today (Tuesday).
“There will be tomorrow. No matter the intimidation my confidence in you and Ekweremadu is renewed and we must protect this institution,” he told Saraki.
Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP-Taraba) said it was not only a threat to democracy but to the unity of the country.
“It is with a heavy heart I rise to contribute to this. This is not only threatening, but the unity of the country and we need to thread with caution. What is happening has never happened.
“When I heard of the siege I became afraid. We need prayers and we have to stand up as statesmen.
“I advise that security operatives should know they are meant to protect us and no country has used violence to settle matters.
“We can pack our things and go and those trying to dent the image of the president should be careful,” he said.
In his reaction, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said there was also a siege to his house at the early hours, yesterday.
He said he was meant to report to the Police on account of invitation to answer to alleged involvement in a robbery case in Offa some months ago but could not do that.
Saraki said there would not have been plenary if he had gone to the Police, given the fact that Ekweremadu was prevented from leaving his house.
“Ekweremadu cannot come out for no fault of his, and by the plan, I wouldn’t have been here as well.
“The deputy senate president called me that he was blocked from coming out. Even my convoy was blocked,” he said.
The Senate has adjourned plenary for members’ annual vacation. They will resume on September 26.
Following yesterday’s political scenario in Abuja, few Nigerians took to the street to protest the illegal invasion of police officers to the residence of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his deputy Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, respectively.
Recall that at the early hours of 7: am, the Nigeria police that invited Saraki to appear before it by 8: am laid siege in his Abuja house.
Police equally stormed the residence of Ekweremadu, his deputy, barricading both from movement.
Reason for this illegal invasion is yet to be revealed, but there are speculations that it was planned to stop the duo from presiding over yesterday’s plenary because ofthe defection of 15 senators that dumped All Progressives Congress (APC) and accepted the membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Saraki, who made his way to the Senate and took charge of yesterday’s plenary, condemned in its totality, the police invasion to his house.
His Deputy, Ekweremadu also condemned the invasion, and opined that there was no prior invitation by any of the security agencies or the EFCC to him.
The Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo equally surrendered his statement via his Facebook handle as he strongly condemned the invasion, and called it ‘tyranny’,
His words, “I condemn, in its entirety, the.siege on the houses of the principal officers of the National Assembly by officers and men of the Nigerian Police. The National Assembly as an arm of the government must be accorded the due respect that it deserves. This is tyranny!”.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has said that the nation’s democracy is under threat if nothing was done to avert the intimidation and harassment of opposition politicians by the government in power.
He spoke, yesterday afternoon when asked by journalists to speak on the security siege on his residence.
Expressing disappointment over the development, he wondered how the culture of democracy has still yet to be imbibed since 1999, stating that the country cannot grow when the government in power abhors opposition.
“The development we are seeing now is an attack on democracy and I keep wondering at how a ruling party would not tolerate opposition,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leader of the PDP Caucus in the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio said he was humbled by yesterday’s emergence of the PDP as the majority party in the Senate.
Those at the Deputy Senate President’s residence include: PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyon, former National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh.
Judiciary, Most Powerful Arm Of Govt, Wike Affirms …Moves To Reclaim Lands Belonging To GCSS, PH
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has affirmed that the Judiciary was the most powerful arm of government, regretting that the strength of the Judiciary has been lost due to fear.
Addressing the Governing Council of the Eastern Bar Forum during a courtesy visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Wike noted that it was the responsibility of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to strengthen the Judiciary.
“In terms of being powerful, the Judiciary is the most powerful arm of Government. But they have lost that power due to fear.
“The NBA needs to strengthen the Judiciary. People are saying that the NBA is now a toothless bulldog. I am not the one saying so, people are saying it.
“As lawyers, we have the responsibility, as conscience of the society, to make sure that the right thing is done”, he said.
Wike said that the Rivers State Government would partner with the Eastern Bar Forum to promote the rule of law, adding that the state government would continue to work with associations with the right disposition.
On street trading and illegal motor parks, Wike explained that with the successes recorded by the task force, the state government would establish an agency to consolidate on the gains.
He urged the Eastern Bar Forum to work together and promote a common front, saying that individual interest should not supersede the group interest.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Governing Council of Eastern Bar Forum, Long Williams commended the governor for his support to the bench and Bar.
He said the Rivers State governor has developed the right infrastructure to promote the rule of law.
Williams also praised the Rivers State governor for the general development of Rivers State.
He invited the governor to the last quarterly meeting of the Eastern Bar Forum, pointing out that the meeting was one of the most important meetings of lawyers in the country.
He commended the Rivers State governor for the successes recorded by the Task Force on Street Trading and Illegal Motor Parks, saying that it should be transformed into an agency for sustainability.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has directed the commencement of the reclamation of lands belonging to Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Port Harcourt for the restoration of the lost glory of the institution.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the Executive Committee of the Comprehensive Old Boys Association (COBA), yesterday, Wike directed the state Surveyor General, the Permanent Secretary, Lands; and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education to commence the process for the restoration of the school.
The governor said: “We will work together to reclaim the school. The surveyor general must start immediate works to map out the original lands belonging to the Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Port Harcourt.
“By Monday, the Permanent Secretary, Lands will start issuing quit notices to those illegally occupying the lands of the school. The quit notices should be for a month.
“The Honourable Attorney General will be notified to look out for any frivolous orders. On this matter, we are prepared to ensure the restoration of Government Comprehensive Secondary School”.
The governor decried a situation where residents of the area would illegally encroach on school land, and appealed to members of Comprehensive Old Boys Association to help the state government educate members of the public on the need for the restoration of the school.
Wike said that the need to restore the institution should not be subjected to unnecessary sentiments, adding that the state government would not shy away from resolving the challenges facing the education sector.
He said that the state government would not fold its hands and allow illegal occupants ruin the school, insisting that the illegal squatters must be fenced off.
On the plea by COBA for the Rivers State governor to recall the sacked Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Lands, Wike said the former permanent secretary sabotaged a government programme, leading to the sanction placed on him.
In his remarks, the National President of COBA, Dr Sodum Abe congratulated the governor for his victory at the polls, describing it as duly earned and well-deserved.
He commended the Rivers State governor for his investment in the education sector, especially the restoration of old schools across the state.
Abe said: “Your administration is the only one that is reconstructing schools it is selfless governance that places education at the forefront. Great leaders take education seriously, and Rivers people are fortunate to have a great leader in you.”
He appealed to the Rivers State governor to take steps to dislodge illegal squatters at the Government Comprehensive Secondary School and also reconstruct the school.
Abe also urged the Rivers State governor to restore the curriculum of the school.
PDP Senators Kick As Senate Approves N10bn Refund For Kogi
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate has protested against the Senate’s approval of the refund of N10.06billion to the Kogi State Government for road projects it executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
According to the opposition lawmakers, the refund should be delayed by one week so that the money will not be diverted to fund the state governorship poll due for Saturday.
The legislative approval followed the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, headed by Senator Clifford Ordia, seeking approval for the issuance of N10.06billion promissory notes programme to the state government and a bond issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations for projects executed on behalf of Federal Government.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter a fortnight ago to the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, requested for an approval for the refund to be made to the state government.
Presenting his committee’s report, Ordia, said “the approved sum is in capital expenditure, which has to do with refund to the state government for monies spent in the execution of Federal Government projects in the state.”
According to him, key officials of the state government were invited to brief the committee during its legislative work.
Ordia added that the committee also assessed all submissions made by the Federal Ministry of Finance, alongside documents from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the state government.
He said the committee undertook an oversight visit to Kogi State to assess the projects and ascertained that they met the required standard by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
The projects inspected by the committee were: reconstruction of Shintaku-Odugbo road, reconstruction of Ganaja-Ajaokuta road, reconstruction of Idah-Onyedega road and dualisation of Lokoja-Ganaja road.
Other executed federal projects were: reconstruction of three-span bridge along Shintaku-Odugbo road, reconstruction of four-span bridge along Shintaku-Odugbo road, and reconstruction of Iyamoje-Igagun-Ifeolu-Kptun-Ponyan-Jegede road.
But in his objection to the approval, Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, while raising a point of order, urged the Senate to delay the approval until after the governorship election.
He said: “I have the mandate of the minority party to request that the payment be delayed till next week as we feel this is not the right time to release the money with Kogi governorship poll few days away.
“The delay will ensure that the refund is not misused so it can be delayed for only one week and after election they can get their money as it is meant for the good people of Kogi State.
“States that have done the work of the Federal Government should be paid. I agree they should be paid, what I don’t want is the misuse of this fund. I have the mandate of the minority to say this can wait until next week. Let’s delay for only one week, after elections then they can be paid.”
In a counter argument, Lawan explained that the state was entitled to be paid all monies it spent on the execution of Federal Government projects.
According to Lawan, the state was denied an approval for refund while 24 other state governments got theirs under the Eighth Senate.
“Kogi State applied for this refund in the last Senate. All the states that applied were approved here by the last Senate. Now as the Ninth Senate, we have seen the necessity and are doing justice. We have done justice to others, and we have to do justice to Kogi State. When it is done is not the matter,” he added.
The Senate eventually approved the president’s request for a refund to Kogi State Government after a voice vote called by Lawan.
Community Shuts SPDC Flow Station For Lack Of Power Supply
A section of Omudioga Community in Emohua Local Government Area, led by its Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman, Barrister Chikweri Ogbugo, yesterday, shut down Ahia Flow Station operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) due to the company’s failure to provide electricity to the people.
The protesters, who spoke through the CDC chairman, during the protest, said it was unfortunate that SPDC could live them without power supply despite their peaceful nature.
According to him, the community had been in darkness for about one year since an energy company disconnected them of the national grid.
He pointed out that the decision was reached when the company could not respond to their repeated request to provide the community with alternative means of power supply.
Ogbugo further hinted that the community may take more drastic measures should Shell fail to do the needful after the expiration of the one-week ultimatum.
“We are here today to register our grievances against SPDC. We are here to let the world know that my people have been short-changed for too long; my people have suffered for up to 50 years. SPDC has been in our community since 1961, and till now, there’s nothing to be proud of the company in the community”, he said.
“Apart from one kilometre of road since 1961, they gave us light that didn’t last for two years. Around 2002 and till about 2005, we didn’t see light again. Five years ago, we got light from Sahara Energy, a company operating in our neighbouring town, Omoku but only this year, they came and disconnected us, saying that we should go to SPDC to give us light. And for us, they are right about it because SPDC is our tenant”, he added.
The community leader also expressed regret that his people could still suffer hardship from the oil giant with the presence of over 30 oil wells, and a flow station that gathers crude oil from other neighbouring communities.
Another point of their grievance, he noted, was Shell’s failure to award N9million contract for a restore power to the community, which he said, dashed their hope.
“We can’t negotiate for other things. Shell is still giving us fake hope, my people are angry, and we have shut down the flow station. We are not leaving here until we receive positive change”, he said.
Also speaking, the representative of the chiefs, Chief Tony Assobinawu, said that the chief and elders were in support of the protest against SPDC.
Assobinawu, who corroborated the views of his CDC chairman, hinted that they have been neglected for too long, complaining that the community has no good water, and no paved internal roads.
In their separate speeches, the woman leader, Mrs Comfort Chuku and the Youth Leader, Mr Daniel Akpelu, said that the company must do something meaningful in the area to justify its presence in the area for almost 50 years.
Some of the placards they carried read, “Shell must give us light”, “We need Shell scholarship in Omudioga community”, “Youth empowerment is our priority”, among other things.
When contacted, the spokesman of Shell, Mr Michael Adande confirmed the development, but said he was yet to get details.
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