Senate has directed its committee on Judiciary to investigate the circumstances leading up to the invasion of an Abuja High Court which led to the rearrest of Omoyrle Sowore by alleged operatives of the Department of States Services, an event that took place one week today.
The senate directive for this investigation was sequel to a motion moved by senator Bamidele Opeyemi, in which he asked the senate not to pay deff ears to the outcry against the incident by Nigerians.
Senator Bamudele whio rose citing point of Order 43, noted that news has it that invasion of the court room session, was allegedly carried out b y members of the DSS, who were on a mission to effect the arrest of the Convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, over alleged treason.
He said that the event that took place in the court was a regrettable one ; inimical to rule of law and democratic values and urged the Senate to rise up and investigate the incident and do the needful.
According to him, the senate still remains an institution upon which Nigerians who elected them to office, including the judiciary look up to in expressing their freedom and constitutional rights, warning that such expectations in democracy must never be disappointed.
He urged the senate therefore to mandate the committee on judiciary to investigate the allegations and report back to the senate , such as to guide the institution to know what truly transpired.
His words , “Mr President,the leadership and members of the judiciary are particularly concerned about this development, because they believed that the court room is meant to be a sanctuary.
“But for us, as a senate we can not begin to take a position, or analyse the issues based on conclusion without facts that we consider incontrovertible yet.
“Much as we can not jump in to conclusion, but we can not pretend that Nigerians are concerned about this development.
“The reason, I choose to come under order 43 is that so that we don’t debate on this issue that we don’t seem to have an incontrovertible facts yet.
“In view of this, I suggest we mandate our committee on National Security to investigate and report back to this senate”.
The senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his ruling , reminded his colleagues that Order 43 does not require debate. He said he cannot function on allegations, hence the need to find out what truly happened.
The Senate commitee on Judiciary was mandated to investigate the incident and report bac k to the Senate in one week.
Similarly, the Federal Capital Territory’s N232.8 Appropriation Bill for the 2020 fiscal year was yesterday considered by the Senate.
The fast tracked consideration of the budget for the FCT comes barely twenty-four hours after the upper chamber received a formal request to that effect from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Leading the debate, Majority Leader of the Senate Senator Yahaya Abdullahi in a breakdown of budget said out of the sum of N232,875,365,947 budgeted, N53,876,241,095 is for personnel cost, N57,070,343,435 for overhead cost and N121,928,781,417 for capital projects.
He recalled that in the 2019 fiscal year, the FCT Administration received an Appropriation of N243,374,511,007 as its statutory budget.
A breakdown of the 2019 expenditure, according to Abdullahi, showed that the sum of N41,999,045,982.01 was spent on personnel costs, N32,445,971,579 on overheads and N46,292,431,523.09 on capital projects.
The Senate Leader stated that during the year 2019, a total sum of N120,737,449,084.07 accrued to the Federal Capital Territory as revenue, an amount which, according to the lawmaker, represents “about fifty percent level of performance.”
“The thrust of the FCT 2020 budget is to ensure an effective service oriented administration in order to ensure completion of ongoing projects and the provision of effective services to residents of the FCT,” Yahaya Abdullahi said.
Among projects to be implemented by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) in the year 2020 are: provision of infrastructural facilities to districts and road construction in Jahi, Wuye and Karmo with the sum of N6.3 billion; reconstruction and finalisation of Lower Usman Dam and Gurara Road pegged at N1.5 billion, and N3.5 billion for proposed counterpart funding for Greater Abuja Water Supply.
Others are: construction of Cultural Centre and Millennium Tower at N1 billion; rehabilitation and expansion of Outer Southern Expressway from Villa Roundabout to Osex/Ring Road 1 Junction at N1 billion; N1.3 billion for completion of Roads B6, B12 and Circle Road, Abuja, Central Area, and N500 million for the provision of access road to Kabusa Garden.
While Senators George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East) and James Manager (Delta South) expressed the opinion that the FCT budget be presented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory to the National Assembly the Senate President explained that going that path would run contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which allows only a sitting President to present the country’s annual budget to a joint session of the National Assembly.
He however charged the Senate Committee on FCT to invite the Minister, Muhammad Bello, so as to review the performance of the FCTA in the 2019 fiscal year.
President of the Senate however expressed worry over the security situation of the FCT as he noted that there the 2020 budget if the FCT did not make provision for security .
His “I want to also ask whether we have so much provision in the National Priority budget of the FCT for Security.
“I’ve not seen anything for security here and I’m worried, because I think the security situation in the FCT, not necessarily inside the Federal Capital itself, but the satellite towns where people are kidnapped including one of our royal fathers.
“I believe that we need to look into that, definitely the security needs some attention from us, even if there is no provision. We should be able to prioritize and see which other subheads we can take money from to provide for security.”
The Federal Capital Territory Statutory Appropriation Bill, 2020, which was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on FCT for further legislative work
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Rivers, Peaceful State Because Of God’s Blessing -Wike
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has declared that Rivers State is one of the most peaceful States in the country because of the blessings of God that flow from the prayers of Christians.
Speaking during the 2020 Diocesan City-wide Mega Crusade of the Diocese of the Niger Delta North in Port Harcourt, last Saturday, Wike said the relative peace in Rivers State was because God has honoured the prayers of the servants of God.
The governor said: “All through last year, despite the security challenges in the country, Rivers State remains relatively peaceful. The security of Rivers State is not because of the security agencies, but due to God’s enablement.
“The peace that comes from God is necessary for all business activities to thrive and people to engage in education.”
Wike said that his administration would continue to partner with the church to further the development of the state.
He noted that Rivers State remains a Christian state and would continue to do exploits for the good of the people.
“You have heard this several times before and I will repeat it here before thousands of Christian faithful who are Anglicans. Rivers State is a Christian state.
“No matter the intimidation and conspiracy, we will continue to declare that Rivers State is a Christian state. We are reaping the blessings of God”, he said.
Wike urged Christian faithful not to relent in their prayers for the peace, security and development of Rivers State.
The Rivers State governor commended the management of Elechi Amadi Polytechnic for providing the venue for the all-important city-wide crusade.
He lauded the Anglican Diocese of Niger Delta North for the city-wide crusade which has blessed the souls of thousands of Rivers people.
Speaking at the crusade, Rev Uma Ukpai said that God was one of the citizens of Rivers State, noting that God would continue to fight the battles of Rivers people.
He thanked God for the life of Rivers State governor for his commitment to the work of God, and urged Rivers people to continue to praise God to attract more blessings.
The Guest Preacher, Rev Uma Ukpai prayed specially for the peace, security and development of Rivers State, and committed Rivers State to God for the prosperity and peace of the state.
The 2020 Diocesan City Wide Mega Crusade of the Diocese of the Niger Delta North in Port Harcourt had the theme, “All Things Are Possible”.
Popular Gospel Musician, Chioma Jesus, led a medley of praise and worship songs at the crusade.
Order Buhari, 36 Govs To Publish Assets, SERAP Asks Court
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court, Abuja, to order President Muhammadu Buhari; the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to “make public details of their assets, specifically property and income, contained in their asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) since assuming office.”
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/65/2020 filed last Friday, SERAP is seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel President Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to make public their summary of assets; disclose whether they have had any reason to review and update their asset declarations submitted to the CCB, and if the declarations have been made as constitutionally and statutorily required.”
SERAP is also seeking: “an order to compel President Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to disclose whether they have received any confirmation of the verification of their asset declarations by the CCB and to disclose whether they have taken any steps to encourage members of their cabinet to also submit their asset declarations to the CCB, and to make such declarations public.”
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated January 3, 2020, expressing concern that: “The non-public disclosure by public officials of their summary of assets undermines the effectiveness and integrity of the constitutional and statutory obligations to submit asset declarations, especially given that declarations are designed to curb grand corruption, and weakens the public trust in the asset declaration regimes.”
According to SERAP, only two states — Lagos and Niger states — have responded to its FoI requests.
But both states declined the requests to make public the assets of their governors and deputies, on the ground that “the FoI Act is inapplicable to state governments, their agencies and officials, and that only houses of assembly of states are constitutionally empowered to make laws on public records of states.”
Also, while reacting to SERAP’s FoI request to President Buhari, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had said: “SERAP asking the president to declare assets publicly, on the basis of what law? The president will do what the law requires of him and what the law requires is that he should declare his asset which he has done. Declaring publicly is not in our laws; it can only be a voluntary thing.”
SERAP is also seeking: “a declaration that the failure of President Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to provide SERAP with the requested information on their assets constitutes a breach of SERAP’s right under the FoI Act, 2011, and such further order(s) the honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Kolawole Oluwadare, read in part: “The advantages that the general public would gain from being informed about the summary of assets declarations submitted to the CCB outweigh any perceived privacy or inconvenience, if the court orders the details to be made public as sought by SERAP.
“By a combined reading of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the FoI Act, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, President Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies ought to be directed and compelled to make public their asset declarations as submitted to the CCB.
“The reliefs sought are constitutionally and statutorily grounded and based on Nigeria’s international transparency obligations. The reliefs sought do not clash with the rights to privacy and data protection. Both rights are not absolute and can be restricted provided there is a basis in law and a legitimate public interest justifies the restriction. Prevention of grand corruption and exposing unexplained wealth of officials are serious and legitimate public interests.
“SERAP and indeed the general public have a legitimate interest in ascertaining and scrutinizing the veracity, exactitude and honesty of information contained in asset declarations submitted by public officials to the CCB. Without public disclosure of summary of assets, this would have no practical importance.
“Public disclosure of summary of assets submitted to the CCB would help uncover any irregularities and trigger formal verification of declarations by the CCB and other anti-corruption agencies, be entirely consistent with government’s expressed commitment to prevent and combat corruption, provide a safeguard against abuse, and serve as an incentive to public officials to provide exact information when filing and submitting their asset declarations.
“Any perceived claim of interference with the right to privacy is sufficiently foreseeable for the purposes of the legal requirements for asset declarations by public officials, given that public-disclosure of summary of assets would undoubtedly contribute to the legitimate aim of asset declaration regimes to prevent corruption, as it would ensure transparency regarding the details of those assets.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Death In Cell: Force Hqtrs Orders Fresh Autopsy On Late Mechanic
The Police High Command has ordered that a fresh autopsy be conducted on late auto-mechanic, Chima Ikwunado, who died in police custody in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, with his family present this time around.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, disclosed this when he appeared on a live television programme monitored by The Tide in Port Harcourt, at the weekend.
Mba said the force was yet to carry out any disciplinary action on the officers alleged to have tortured Chima to death because, according to him, investigations are still ongoing.
He, however, admitted that the head of the Eagle Crack Team of the police in Rivers State has been summoned to Abuja for questioning.
According to Mba, “The officer-in-charge of that crack team has been summoned to Force Headquarters, Abuja. I am significantly involved. He has made his statements; he has furnished us his case files. He has tendered some documents, including a post-mortem report that was conducted on the body (late Chima’s)
“But we needed to complete our investigations. We are also proposing repeating the post-mortem examination, and perhaps, this time around, we want to make sure that the representatives of the family of the deceased are involved.”
Mba, however, condoled with the family of late Chima Ikwunado and the people of Rivers State, pointing out that it was the duty of the police to ensure that the life of every Nigerian was preserved.
“The only thing I can tell the deceased family, friends of the deceased and every citizen out there, particularly in Port Harcourt, is to say that our heart goes out to the family.
“The death of any Nigerian is painful, it doesn’t matter how it occurred. Even when we engage with kidnappers, armed robbers, and perhaps, in course of the shootout they die, we don’t celebrate such deaths. Because, our core calling is not to take live. Our core calling is to preserve life,” the FPRO explained.
In the same vein, the Rivers State Police Command says it was yet to release the copse of the late mechanic because his family has not come to claim it.
The Tide recalls that the family of late Chima Ikwunado had accused the police of refusing them access to his remains.
But spokesman of the Rivers State Police Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, while speaking on a live radio programme in Port Harcourt, at the weekend, denied the allegation, and urged the family members to visit the commissioner of police to demand his corpse.
“When you want to discuss, it is not by castigating the police or saying police didn’t do this or that. It is important that the family should come and see the commissioner of police, and say that ‘we want the body of our son that died in police custody’.
“But they have not done that. They have not seen the commissioner of police. So, are we going to release the body to a ghost?
Omoni, also denied that police operatives tortured the suspect (late Chima) in order to get a confession from him, insisting that torture was not part of its procedure.
“Torture is not part of our procedure in eliciting confessions from suspects. If someone commits an offense, interview and interrogations are what we do. I worked in Critical Investigation Departments like State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), even Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“I was officer-in-charge of Legal (O/C Legal) sometime before I was made the PRO. If you want a suspect to tell you the truth of what happened, you don’t need to torture him. You don’t need to subject him to any kind of harsh treatment.
“By the time you are asking him questions, he will be playing into your hands. He will be telling you what he did without even knowing it,” Omoni stated.
However, the Rivers State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has warned journalists in the state against any form of romance with the police over the killing of Chima Ikwunado and the continued detention of his four colleagues who are currently remanded in prison custody.
This was contained in a statement signed by the council’s Secretary, Mr Ike Wigodo, and made available to newsmen, at the weekend, in Port Harcourt.
The statement noted that journalists should shun any form of invitation by the E-Crack Police Team, but should concern themselves more on how to unravel the circumstances behind the death of the mechanic in police custody.
It also advised on what it described as team work in order to resist any sort of temptation that may arise in the process of interacting with the police.
“It has come to the notice of NUJ, Rivers State Council that the E-Crack unit of the police is inviting some journalists, including some national dailies to come and see a video”, it warned.
It further charged members of the council to ensure fairness and balance in their reportage, rather than taking sides.
According to the statement, any invitation from the police should be via the NUJ leadership in the state to ensure proper and thorough work and to promote team work.
“Please, disregard such invitation as such should come through the NUJ. Members of NUJ should beware that any invitations from E-Crack on this matter is unacceptable. NUJ should fight together as a family”, it appealed.
Some journalists who reacted to the alleged police invitation, condemned it in its entirety, and said it must stop forthwith.
Others described it as “blood envelop invitation”, which they said ought not to be heard within journalism circle.
The Tide learnt that the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the state is hell-bent in their support of the Ikoku traders to shut down operations today, should the police fail to release the corpse of late Chima to his family.
It would be recalled that the E-Crack unit of the Rivers State Police Command has been in the news since last week over the death of a mechanic in their custody during alleged ‘torture’ to extract confessional statement.
The Tide gathered that some of the remaining four suspects, arrested along with Chima, also had fresh injuries allegedly sustained during interrogation to extract confessional statements while in custody at the E-Crack Team’s Mile 1 Police Station base.
Chima’s colleagues now remanded in prison custody following their arraignment in court, include, Victor Ogbonna, Osaze Friday, Ifeanyi Osuji, and Ifeanyi Onyekwere.
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