The National Assembly has passed the amendment to the National Holiday Act to move Nigeria’s Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12.
The Senate at the plenary yesterday passed the amendment in concurrence with the House of Representatives which approved the new date earlier in December 2018.
The passage followed the adoption of a report by the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, for the Senate to concur with the House.
The three clauses of the amendment bill were passed by the Committee of the Whole when the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, put them to voice vote.
The legislation is now billed for transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
Buhari had in June 2018 declared that the Democracy Day would henceforth hold on June 12 of every year.
The President made the declaration as the Federal Government honoured the acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, with a posthumous conferment of the highest national award, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, on him.
Buhari had also conferred on Abiola’s running mate in the election, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe and foremost human rights lawyer, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the Grand Commander of the Niger award, which is the second highest national honour.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, put the conference report to a voice vote and it was adopted by the lawmakers.
In the bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on November 26, 2018, the current democracy date, which is May 29, was deleted and replaced with June 12.
On June 12,1993, presidential election was held and adjudged to be the freest in the country’s history.
However, the results were annulled by the then Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
In the process, one of the presidential candidate who was reported to have polled most votes, Mr Moshood Abiola lost his life.
Our correspondent reports that 25 years after, President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018, announced that the nation’s Democracy Day would hold on June 12 of every year as against current arrangement where the ceremony holds on May 29.
The national assembly however needed to amend the public holiday act to give the directive a legal backing, to make it binding.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday, said that if the increasing rate of insecurity, banditry, kidnapping in the country must be nipped in the bud, there was the urgent need for President Muhammadu Buhari to throw his weight behind calls for state police.
Ekweremadu, who blamed the rising security challenges on unitary police system prescribed by the Constitution, stressed that the best option was not to jettison the decentralized policing, which ensured the security of the people and their property up to 1966, but to ensure that appropriate checks in terms of recruitment, appointment of police chiefs, control, logistics, funding, among others, were put in place, to guide against possible abuse by state governors as feared by some.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja at the opening of a two-day conference on the Implementation of Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary, Ekweremadu, who hailed Buhari for assenting to the Constitution Alteration Bills on Financial Autonomy for States’ Legislature and States’ Judiciary, said: “Our Constitution contradicts, in several respects, the basic principles of democracy such as the separation of powers, checks and balances, and compromises the independence of the critical institutions of democracy.
“This is why the National Assembly has, starting from 2010, successfully altered the Constitution to strengthen the principles of separation of powers, checks and balance, and indeed our democracy and good governance by placing the National Assembly, INEC, and most recently, the State Houses of Assembly and Judiciary on first line charge”.
He, however, cautioned State Assemblies that the autonomy was not a license to appropriate whatever they liked to their respective Assemblies and States’ Judiciary, but recognition of the prioritisation of the release of their funds in the appropriation law of their respective states.
The Deputy Senate President, who described the local government as the weakest link in the governance structure, however, urged the State Assemblies to approve the Constitution Amendment Bills that seek to strengthen the councils as a third tier of government.
He suggested the establishment of a National Police Service Commission (NPSC) to exercise a level of oversight over the activities of the state police such as maintaining common facilities for all police services in the country, including training, criminal intelligence databases, forensic laboratories, among others.
Ekweremadu said, “The NPSC should also run a system of inspectorates and certification such as supervision of recruitment, training, supervision of standards, and annual certification of every state police service.
“There should also be a body known as State Police Service Commission for the states and should comprise a representative of the executive to be appointed by the Governor, representative of the Federal Government to be appointed by the NPSC, two independent experts in security matters to be appointed by the governor subject to confirmation by the State House of Assembly, and a representative each of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
“Others are a retired police officer not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, representative of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), representative of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), and representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and other relevant civil organizations, as the case may be. The body should be responsible for the recruitment, appointment and disciplining of the members of the state police force.
“Importantly, the funding of the state police should be a first line charge on the state account or it can be deducted at source from the Federation Account and paid to the Police Service Commission for onward disbursement to the respective State Police Service Commissions.
“There should be an Act of the National Assembly stipulating the type of arms that can be acquired by a sub-national police and also unacceptable conducts, which can lead to the sanction of a sub-national police command.”
On affordability, the deputy Senate President said that state police would not be compulsory as those who have the resources could establish one, while those who could not afford would continue to rely on the federal police until they were able to establish one.
He said, “The important thing is to lay down the legal frameworks that authorise and regulate decentralised policing so that those who can afford it can start, hence I urge Mr. President to lend his political will and weight to the quest for decentralised policing.”
2019 Rivers Guber Poll Tribunal: PDP Tenders Polling Units’ Results To Affirm Wike’s Victory …Election Held In Substantial Compliance With Electoral Act -Counsel …Conduct Of Poll Peaceful, Lawful, Akawor Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, yesterday, tendered strategic polling units’ results from different local government areas to the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to justify the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The polling units’ results were tendered in respect of the petition filed against the election of Wike by the Governorship Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi.
Tendering the polling units’ results from the Bar, counsel to the PDP, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) said the polling results were from 356 polling units.
Obla told the tribunal that the result sheets were from some of the polling units in Obio/Akpor, Khana, Ogu/Bolo, Bonny, Akuku-Toru, Ahoada East, Opobo/Nkoro and others.
He informed the tribunal that the PDP resolved to tender results to prove that elections held across the state at the polling units and declarations made under very peaceful atmosphere.
The counsel added that since INEC and Wike have called witnesses to prove that the Governorship Election was conducted in line with the Electoral Act, the PDP chose to prove the conduct of the elections through documentary evidence.
Addressing journalists after closing the PDP defence, Godwin Obla said that from documentary evidence and oral testimonies of witnesses, it was clear that the 2019 Governorship Election in Rivers State was held in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and that Wike emerged victorious.
He said: “This morning on behalf of the 3rd respondent, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), we tendered a total of 356 exhibits in support of our case. We feel satisfied that the requirements of the law required of us, have been fully met and that is why we decided to close our case today.
“Don’t forget that the 1st respondent, INEC, called witnesses, the 2nd respondent, Governor Nyesom Wike, who is the candidate of the 3rd respondent, PDP, also called witnesses and tendered a lot of documents that relate to this same subject matter. The interests of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents are actually the same”.
Also speaking, counsel to ADP, Mr Dolapo-Telle Attoni, said “The PDP presented from the Bar a bundle of electoral documents they claimed INEC used in conducting the governorship election. They tendered about 356 alleged polling units’ results. We had asked for few minutes to study these same documents, and also obtain Certified True Copy of the said documents which was not complied with by INEC”.
Following the PDP closing its case, the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has adjourned till September 16, 2019 for the adoption of addresses by parties in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party and its governorship candidate, Mr Victor Fingesi.
Earlier, the Director-General of Rivers State PDP Campaign Council, Amb. Desmond Akawor, had said that the 2019 Governorship Election held throughout the state with Governor Nyesom Wike emerging victorious.
Testifying at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, last Wednesday, as the last witness for Wike in a petition filed by the candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi, Akawor said that the governor won the election by the lawful votes cast on March 9, 2019.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea told the tribunal that he received his party’s duplicate certified copies of election result sheets for all the units, wards and the 23 local government areas.
Responding to a question by counsel to the ADP governorship candidate on why the state government set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the 2019 Elections, Akawor said that the commission of inquiry was established to find out what happened at the collation centres, because voting took place peacefully at all polling units.
However, after closing his case on cross-examination of DW31 (Akawor), the ADP counsel sought to tender an application which is a certified copy of The Tide Newspaper of April 29 in respect of the commission of inquiry.
But Counsel to the governor, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) urged the court to refuse the application, arguing that the petitioner voluntarily closed his matter on July 16 with 23 witnesses.
Ukala noted that in accordance with the rules of the tribunal, each witness was cross-examined within the time given; adding that conduct of proceedings was guided by truth and not by sympathy.
Ruling on the application after hearing arguments from the counsels, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Orjiako, stated that “this application in our view cannot be allowed, the implication being that it should have been tendered within the time allocated to him, therefore, the application is overruled and refused”.
Justice Orjiako had adjourned the matter till yesterday for further cross examination.
In an interview, counsel for Governor Nyesom Wike, Emmanuel Ukala, explained that the ADP application was refused as a result of improper filing.
He said, “The 2nd respondent (Governor Wike) called all together 20 witnesses, and we closed our case. So, it is left to the PDP, if they wish to call any other witness. They may call, and thereafter, we will all address the court”.
Stop Deducting Money From Rivers Statutory Allocation, Court Orders FG
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court in respect of OML112 offshore and stop the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 or any sum whatsoever, forming the proprietary rights of the Rivers State Government.
The presiding Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, also ordered the defendants to make full refund of the accruable 13 per cent derivation illegally denied the plaintiff from crude oil and gas production within OML 112 and sale from September, 2018 till the determination of the suit; and thereafter.
The judge equally ordered the Attorney General of the Federation, the Accountant General of the Federation and the RMAFC to pay monthly interests at the various commercial rates at no less than 15 per cent per annum on the illegally deducted 13 per cent derivation due to the plaintiff from OML 112 until the liquidation of all outstanding and accruing debt.
Justice Taiwo further restrained the defendants, their agents, assigns, representatives, privies or howsoever called from disregarding the finality of the Supreme Court judgment delivered on March 18, 2011 in Suit No: SC/27/2010, between: Attorney General of Rivers State and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State & Anor as it relates to the proprietary rights of the plaintiff in respect of OML 112.
The suit was instituted by the Attorney General of Rivers State to challenge the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 accruing from OML 112 from the statutory allocation of the state by the defendants.
Biafra: Fresh Questions Over Future Of Campaign
Just as the recent physical attack on former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu in faraway Germany is trending globally for the bizarre affront it represents, so many questions are raging over the integrity and future of the campaign for the actualisation of the Biafra secessionist agenda. It is no more news that Ekweremadu was ambushed and attacked during his visit to Germany to participate as a guest speaker at a traditional Igbo ‘New Yam’ festival. The trailing reactions not only captured the wide divide between the proponents and the opponents of the ‘Biafra’ agenda across the world. It also betrayed and reinforced a more profound aspect being the unmasked, hysteric xenophobic mindset to which the most ardent proponents of the Biafra agenda subscribe to. Primary among these is the endorsement of the outrage of the assailants by Nnamdi Kanu, the now exiled leader of the IPOB, which is just one of the active groups canvassing for the actualisation of the Biafra dream.
From the now trending video clips of the incident,the aggrieved assailants could be heard lamenting about the killing of their kit and kin in the ‘Operation Python Dance’ military assaults on Iboland, at the peak of the IPOB domestic activism phase. Until that point, the German assault on Ekweremadu could easily have passed as a result of the bereaved lamenting and perhaps, over-reacting over the death of their loved ones at home. However, the intervention of IPOB especially with the claim that responsibility for the attack fell on its members changed the entire narrative. First of all, information in the public domain did not specifically mention that the occasion was organised by IPOB. Hence, the intervention of the organisation by persons later identified as IPOB operatives captures the event as having been hijacked by the IPOB for reasons strange to the organisers. Now, the blame or whatever ascription from the event goes to all Ibos, just as the proverb that when a finger picks up oil, it soon spreads it to all the other fingers.
And this is where the various stakeholders of the Biafra agenda, comprising the Igbo represented by the OhanaezeNdigbo, the Eastern minorities and even the entire country need to take the Ekweremadu attack with appropriate discretion. Whatever circumstances that will instigate members of a political pressure group to leave the shores of its home country and brazenly attack a home government official in public glare and in a foreign country, deserves more than a slap on the wrist. The situation calls for renewed discretion especially by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo which can be credited with the misfortune of living in a hut on which roof a snake has climbed. That is putting it in classical Igbo metaphor.
For anybody especially the leadership of the Ibos to see the situation otherwise, is to indulge in a mis-read of the festering situation, and expose Ndigbo to a future of miasma in the politics of Iboland as well as that between Ndigbo and the rest of the country. IPOB may remain a most divisive factor in the political calculus of the Ndigbo both at home and abroad as has been dramatically demonstrated in the German attack on Ike Ekweremadu, both for now and in the unknown future. And against the backdrop that not all Ibos and even Ohanaeze are members of IPOB, the need for the group to tread with care becomes most acute. Most Ibos simply want to be left alone to pursue their legitimate businesses in which they are already excelling, and do not want to be bothered by a pie in the sky called Biafra. After all, was it not the great novelist, Chinua Achebe who cited the Ibo proverb that all lizards lie on the ground making it difficult to know which one has stomach pain.
As for the Eastern minorities whose youth especially are being enamoured with flashes of paradise in the Biafra dream, all that needs to be said is that they should go and study the history of the previous Biafra, which occurred before they were even born. They will find out not only why it failed, but also why the mainstream of Ibo intelligentsia is not supporting the campaign – at least spiritedly. Fortunately for them, there are still some survivors of that failed exercise who can provide them valuable insights, to lead them aright. On a cautionary basis, let it be stated here that a child found toying with the very strain of mushrooms that killed his or her parents, is asking for nothing better than the very fate that befell the parents.
As structured today, the Nigerian federation cannot be restructured along secessionist lines without elaborate dialogue and negotiations, in place of a full scale war, no matter the grievances of its component ethnic parts. Meanwhile, IPOB has not demonstrated willingness or capacity for negotiations and the rest of the country is not ready for war. Until further notice therefore, Biafra and all it represents remain hanging in the balance.
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