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Atiku’s Appeal: CUPP Rejects Move To Handpick Panel’s Justices

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As candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammad Buhari and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the 2019 president election shift their battle to the Supreme Court, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), has alleged of plans in some quarters to jettison seniority in the selection of panel justices, and vowed to reject the move.
The CUPP, at a press conference, yesterday, in Abuja, claimed that the ruling APC-led Federal Government was mounting undue pressure on the Chief Justice of the Federation, Dr Ibrahim Tanko and the “entire court to accept a handpicked panel and jettison the age-long tradition of the court selecting the most senior justices of the Supreme Court to sit on the panel.”
Spokesman of the opposition coalition, Ikenga Ugochinyere, who addressed the media, said the coalition would not accept such action.
“We have it on good authority that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government has been mounting undue pressure on the Chief Justice of the Federation, and indeed, the entire court to accept a handpicked panel and jettison the age-long tradition of the court of selecting the most senior justices of the Supreme Court to sit on the panel,” it claimed. The text of the briefing read thus: “As you are already aware the opposition consensus candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has approached the Supreme Court of Nigeria to appeal the controversial and unpopular judgment of the Court of Appeal which dismissed his petition.
“By the provisions of the 4th Alteration of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has 60 days from the date of the filing of the Notice of Appeal. These processes have kick started and everyone is awaiting the composition of the names of the seven-man panel by the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“The disquiet and bad blood caused by the APC in the Supreme Court now is a clear desecration of the highest temple of justice in the land.
“We have it on good authority that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government has been mounting undue pressure on the Chief Justice of the Federation, and indeed, the entire court to accept a handpicked panel and jettison the age-long tradition of the court of selecting the most senior justices of the Supreme Court to sit on the panel.
“The opposition and most Nigerians will not accept a handpicked panel neither will the pronouncement of such panel command the requite respect and confidence of the people of Nigeria and we in the opposition.
“The Supreme Court is for the people the last hope of the judiciary. The actions of the Supreme Court must inspire national confidence and deliver not just judgment but justice and that path to justice is not only about the law but about the ordinary man believing that justice has been done. The Supreme Court is supreme and its words must be for the protection of the society and the people and the law.
“A grave error was done at Appeal Court and the nation is waiting to see how a man who violated the Electoral Act and was supposed to have been disqualified managed to survive at the Appeal Court. That court failed in both the issues of law and issues of national interest.
“Today, corruption has been permeated in the highest levels of the Presidency. Today, Nigeria is indebted more than ever before. Today, suffering citizens are being taxed to death. Today, there is a craze to generate revenue even at the risk of stripping citizens of their minimal purchasing power which has almost lost all its value due to mismanagement by this incompetent administration.
“Today, public funds are spent without appropriation and proper accountability. Today, they have increased VAT to 7.5%. Today, they tax citizens to deposit their money in banks. Today, they tax citizens for withdrawal of their money.
“Today, they ask citizens to pay stamp duty and the money is not accounted for. Today, citizens pay increased electricity tariff with no reciprocal electricity supply.
“Today, they have borrowed money both locally and internationally more than any other government in our history yet they cannot pay workers minimum wage. Beyond these obnoxious policies, citizens are daily denied their basic rights to freedom of expression.
“The government has failed in its basic duty which is protection of lives and property. Today, all parts of the country are insecure with bandits and terrorist raping and destroying.
“The economy is bad because the leader has no capacity to govern and has surrendered his functions to unelected people. Citizens are charged to court for terrorism for merely speaking out against this misrule, while his supporters are asking for 3rd term and working assiduously to achieve such unconstitutional ambition.
“This administration failed on electoral reform, it failed on security, it failed on economy, it failed on the fight against corruption, it has failed to make any worthy investment in the health sector, it has failed to record any success in education, foreign investments is lower than it used to be and Nigeria is daily sinking deeper into the poverty gully and our once growing economy is now the centre of poverty in the world.
“The Judiciary is daily being emasculated. Judges are petitioned against if they rule against government interest, this attack on judges was carried out to silence the judiciary and use it as clearing house. Disobedience to lawful orders of court by the government is now the order of the day.”
It, however, said all hope was not lost if the PDP candidate wins at the Supreme Court.
“The way out is in the hands of the Supreme Court justices who will be called upon to rule in the interest of the law, national interest, unification and enthronement of a competent leadership and that journey starts with the composition of the membership of the presidential election appeal panel that will hear Atiku’s appeal at the Supreme Court,” it said.

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Magu: Panel May Submit Report Next Week

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The Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, is expected to submit its report latest next week going by the terms of reference given to the panel by the President Muhammadu Buhari .
The document inaugurating the panel which was personally signed by the President stated that the commission had 45 days to complete its probe of the suspended EFCC boss.
The document is titled, ‘Instrument Constituting a Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the Investigation of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the Ag. Chairman of the EFCC for Alleged Abuse of Office and Mismanagement of Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020’.
Buhari listed the seven members of the panel to include a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (North-Central); Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Michael Ogbezi (South-South); a representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Muhammad Babadoko (North-Central); and Hassan Abdullahi from the Department of State Services (North-Central).
Others are Muhammad Shamsudeen from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (North-West), Douglas Egweme from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (South-East), and Kazeem Atitebi (South-West) who serves as the Secretary.
The document dated July 3, 2020, read in part, “I hereby direct the judicial commission to submit its interim reports to me from time to time but the judicial commission shall, in any case, submit its final report not later than 45 days from the date of its first public sitting or within such extended period as may be authorised by me in writing.”
The commission is expected to submit its report on or before August 19, 2020.
It was also learnt that although the President recommended a public sitting, the commission led by Salami had been holding its activities behind closed doors.
According to the document, Buhari directed the panel to audit the accounts of the EFCC from 2015 to 2020.
The panel is also to investigate allegations of personal enrichment, abuse of office, disobedience to court orders, and the alleged sale of recovered assets to cronies by Magu.
The commission was asked to investigate an alleged complaint against Magu by the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom.
The suspended EFCC boss is also being probed for his handling of the controversial P&ID case which cost Nigeria billions of dollars in judgment debt.

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$114.28m World Bank Loan: SERAP Demands Public Scrutiny, Transparency In Spending

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Following World Bank’s approval of $114.28million credit and grant to fight Covid-19 in Nigeria, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the global financial institution to prevail on the federal and 36 state governors to accept voluntary scrutiny by Nigerians and civil society regarding the spending of the funds.
SERAP, in an open letter to the World Bank President, Mr. David Malpass, dated August 8, 2020, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said “the Nigerian government must be made to publicly commit to transparency and accountability in the spending of the fund, including by publishing details on a dedicated website.
“Details of how they will spend the money to buy medical equipment, and improve access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, must also be made public”, SERAP demanded.
The World Bank Board of Directors, had last Friday, approved $114.28million financing “to help Nigeria prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by Covid-19 with a specific focus on state level responses.”
According to the bank, the $100million credit with Project ID number: P173980, is due to be paid back over 30 years, with additional five years grace period.
But SERAP in its letter said “The World Bank has a responsibility to ensure that federal authorities and state governments are transparent and accountable to Nigerians in how they spend the approved credit and grant.
“The bank should tread carefully in the disbursement of funds or distribution of resources to states if it is to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”
SERAP expressed “serious concerns that the money and resources may be stolen, diverted or mismanaged by state governors without effective transparency and accountability mechanisms, especially given increasing reports of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of Covid-19 funds by agencies of the Federal Government and state governments, and impunity of perpetrators.”
SERAP said: “Insisting on transparency and accountability would ensure repayment of the credit, and protect the project objectives and intended purposes for which the funds and resources are approved, disbursed and distributed.”
According to SERAP, “The Bank’s power to provide credits and grants is coupled with a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that governments spending such funds meet international standards of transparency and accountability, including those entrenched in the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”
The letter copied to the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, read in part: “Implementing these recommendations would prevent a repeat of alleged diversion and mismanagement of recovered Abacha loot disbursed by the Federal Government to state governments.
“The World Bank should make clear to all the governors that it will cancel the credit and grant should they renege on their transparency and accountability commitments to spend the money and use the resources exclusively for Covid-19 related projects, and not to steal, divert or mismanage them.”
“As the level of Federal Government monitoring of the spending of the credit and grant and use of the resources by state governors may be based on political considerations, the bank’s influence might be the only restraining force state governors will take seriously.
“SERAP encourages you and the World Bank in any future engagements with state governments in Nigeria to insist on accessing information on how governors are spending security votes, and the amounts of public funds states are allocating to pay former governors life pensions, among others, as well as consider the level of corruption within each state before approving any credits and grants.
“SERAP also encourages you and the World Bank not to sacrifice international standards of transparency and accountability in the rush to provide Covid-19 credit and grant to the 36 state governments.
“According to our information, the World Bank Board of Directors on Friday, August 7, 2020 approved $114.28million financing ‘to help Nigeria prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by Covid-19 with a specific focus on state level responses’.
“This includes $100million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) and $14.28million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
“SERAP notes that the Government of Nigeria is expected to disburse the money and distribute the resources to the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as ‘immediate support to break the chain of Covid-19 local transmission and limit the spread of Coronavirus through containment and mitigation strategies.’
“The approved money will also ‘help to finance federal procurements of medical equipment, laboratory tests, and medicines to be distributed to the states based on their needs, and to provide support to laboratories for early detection and confirmation; equipping and renovating isolation and treatment centres, including community support centres; and improving in patient transfer systems through financing of ambulances and training’.”
SERAP, therefore, urged Malpass and the World Bank to: “Disclose and widely publish the terms and conditions of the credit and grant, and the exact amount repayable by Nigeria in 30 years’ time, including the details of the interest, if any; and the consequences of Nigeria defaulting.
“To also ask President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor spending of the credit and grant by state governments; ask state governments to allow the media to freely report on their spending of the funds and use of the resources, and not to clampdown on journalists and the media in the exercise of their constitutional responsibilities to expose corruption and hold governments to account.
“To also ask state governments to explicitly commit to encouraging and protecting whistle-blowers as a way of ensuring that the funds and resources are not stolen, diverted or mismanaged; clarify if any, to the Bank’s knowledge and information, the credit and grant have been approved by Nigeria’s National Assembly pursuant to its constitutional duties, including its oversight functions under Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“Ensure increased transparency of sanctions and terms and conditions of the credit and grant to each state to enable Nigerians to ask questions as to the spending of the money and use of the resources from their state governments.”

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School Reopening: JAMB Considers New Date For Admissions

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Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), says it is considering new date for the commencement of 2020 admission exercise due to recent changes in academic calendar for secondary students, particularly those in exiting classes.
JAMB said it had earlier announced August 22nd as the date for commencement of 2020 admission exercise, but will meet with stakeholders on Monday to brainstorm on the possibility of new date that would better accommodate the vagaries of the COVID-19 pandemic.
JAMB spokesman, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, in a statement released in Abuja, yesterday, said that “as a responsive organisation whose mantra is equity and fairness, the Board desires that every aspiring candidate who had taken its 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) be given equal opportunity to compete with peers for the available openings.
“This is the reason for another meeting with all the institutions with a view to amending the earlier and mutually-agreed date for the conduct of Post-UTME screening and other processes.
“As intellectuals, it is incumbent on JAMB and the various tertiary institutions to always provide practical solutions to perceived challenges for the smooth running of the sector without being prompted by the government. Such solutions, when arrived at, would then be forwarded to the relevant Ministries or Agencies for further inputs and necessary approvals.
“It’s in view of this that the Board is working to pre-empt any unpalatable situation that may arise if institutions conduct their admissions without accommodating the vast number of candidates that are about to take their O’level examinations.”
Fabian disclosed that, consequently, the Board would, at the meeting, be looking at the possibility of ensuring that the various institutions either delay or prolong their screening exercises to accommodate candidates who will be taking the 2020 O’level examinations.

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