A human rights activist, Barr. Daniel Makolo, yesterday took a swipe at the Senate, accusing it of violating a subsisting judgement of the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
According to Makolo, the judge forbade the Federal Government from making any law to criminalize free speech.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Makolo alleged that the National Assembly under the leadership of Ahmad Lawan has chosen an ignoble path by “willfully subjecting and making our Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations beats our imagination.”
According to him, there are sufficient laws on offensive words and actions with great and effectual remedies in the laws of the country, adding, “It’s wrongful to attempt criminalizing freedom of expression for the traumatized citizens of Nigeria.
“It is absurd for Nigeria in the comity of nations on earth to be heard singing these ignoble songs rather than creating the conducive environment for Freedom of Speech and enterprises for her rapidly growing population.
“This Bill is retrogressive and the rest of the world laughing at us is worrisome to us and maybe to you too like very many Nigerians home and abroad.”
He said that the judgment number: ECW/CCJ/JUD/31/18 made on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, also barred the Federal Government from free speech or press censorship enshrined and guaranteed under Article XIX of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
The Activist who noted that the case with suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/10/15 was between Mr Festus Ogwuche and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, said, “In view of this judgment, the National Assembly of Nigeria is, therefore, acting contrary to the core terms of the Judgment in terms of the citizens’ rights it protects, to embark on the facilitation of the Hate Speech Establishment Bill 2019.
“This Judgment clearly forbids the Federal Republic of Nigeria sued in this case as the Defendant from further violating Nigerians citizens’ rights to freedom of speech being a matter that was initiated within the public interest advocacy mechanism.
“It would not be seen that Nigeria as an entity would have her legislature act in defiance of her international obligations freely entered into and in the face of a valid subsisting Court Judgement.
“Freedom of speech is an entrenched Fundamental Human Rights provided for in the Nigerian Constitution and this Right is fully preserved by the Judgment of the Regional Court aforesaid.
“It is completely out of the way for the Nigeria legislature to attempt to facilitate the enactment of any law that infringes the rights protected by the said Judgment of the Regional Court.”
Makolo who noted that the Hate Speech Bill is contrary to Section 22 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, said, It needs no saying that, any Law or Act that is or are contrary to the ground norm of the Constitution is null and void.”
Buhari Seeks Senate’s Approval For Additional External Loans
President Muhammadu Buhari has sought approval of Senate for additional external loan under the 2018 to 2021 Federal Government external borrowing plan.
Buhari’s request was contained in a letter addressed to President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan and read at plenary, yesterday.
Buhari in the letter said the loan which would be sourced from the multilateral organisations would be used to finance critical projects of the Federal and States governments.
“Addendum to the Request for Senate concurrent approval of Multilateral Fund Projects under the 2018 to 2021 Federal Government external borrowing plan.
“I write on the above subject to submit attached addendum to the proposed 2018 to 2021 Federal Government external borrowing rolling plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate.
“Senate may wish to recall that I had earlier transmitted a request from the proposed 2018 to 2020 Federal Government external borrowing plan for the concurrent approval of Senate in May 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects are covered, the Federal Executive Council as at June 2021 incorporated.
“I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed external borrowing plan.
“The projects listed in the addendum to the 2018 to 2021 Federal Government external borrowing plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD),Credit Swiss Group, and Standard Chartered, in the credit total sum of 4.5 billion dollars,710 million euros and grant component of 125 million dollars.
“The Senate is kindly invited to know that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive technical and economic evaluations and the contributions that will make the socio- economic development of the country including, employment generation and poverty reduction and protection of the most vulnerable in the society.
“All the said projects in the addendum, form part of the 2018-2021 external borrowing plan and covered all the Federal and state governments projects and are geared toward realisation of Nigeria’s sustainability plan.”
Buhari said the sustainability plans cuts across key sectors, such as infrastructure, health, agriculture and food, security energy, education and human capital development.
He urged the senate to give consideration and approval to the request, given the timing and benefits due to be accrued to the implementation of the projects across the country.
Group Tasks INEC On Sensitisation
A Non-Governmental Organisation, YIAGA Africa, has tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) on the need to intensify public sensitisation for the ongoing voters registration exercise.
YIAGA Africa, which specialises in monitoring elections and citizens participation in the electoral process across the continent also scored INEC high in voters’ registration exercise.
State Coordinating Officer of YIAGA, Obinna Ebogidi, told newsmen that though the exercise had improved, there was need for more enlightenment, as public participation was still low.
“We as an organisation are interested in the build up to the election, because what is going on now will afford Nigerians to have their PVCs and vote in the elections”, he declared.
To further drive the process, he revealed that the body had sent its monitors across the 23 local government areas of the state with the goal of boosting public participation and feedback.
Ebogidi stated that though the exercise suffered hitches earlier, INEC had improved on its services, as there was electronic network transmission hitches when the network began.
Besides improving on public education, he also tasked INEC to improve on staff’s training on electronic voters’ registration so that the process would be more efficient.
By: Kevin Nengia
INEC Discloses Updates On CVR
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says 931,768 Nigerians have completed their physical registration in its ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
The electoral empire also disclosed that pre-registration had hit 2,953,094 as at 7 a.m of September 13.
The commission disclosed this in the Week 11 update on the pre-registration, which commenced on June 28, released on Monday in Abuja.
INEC further revealed that it had received 4,225,749 applications from people requesting for voter transfer, replacement of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and update of voter information record, among other requests.
The Tide reports that distribution of applications based on gender, shows that 2,308,338 are from males, 1,917,411 from females, while 50,395 of the applicants are from people with disabilities.
The update on the 2,953,094 Nigerians, who had done their online pre-registration, also shows that Osun State has the highest number with 402,619, followed by Edo State with 223,009 and Bayelsa State with 216,280.
The states with the lowest number of re-registration in the CVR are Borno with 11,612, followed by Yobe 13, 176 and Abia 14,248.
The Tide also reports that the week seven update on the 931,768 registrants who have completed their online and physical registration shows that Anambra records 138,795 as the state with the highest number, followed by Osun with 52,823.
However, Imo has the lowest with 6,428, followed by FCT 9,130 and Abia with 9,140 in the physical registration that started on July 26.
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