The Senate said, yesterday, that as it begins another process of review of the 1999 Constitution, the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference would be seriously considered as the report would form a working document.
The Senate has also said that in the course of its assignment, the 58-member Constitution Committee will also consider the recommendations of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai-led Committee on restructuring.
Speaking, yesterday, shortly after the inauguration of the Constitution Review Committee, Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ovie Omo Agege, All Progressives Congress (APC, Delta Central) said that the committee would also liaise with members of the House of Representatives, the State Houses of Assembly as well as collaborate and build consensus with all stakeholders to ensure synergy.
It would be recalled that former President Jonathan appointed 492 delegates to the National Conference which held for 151 days at the National Judicial Institute (NJI), on March 17, 2014.
The conference was chaired by late former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Kutigi, with Prof Bolaji Akinyemi as vice chairman and Valerie Azinge as secretary with 492 delegates drawn from all sections of the society, just as it came up with 600 resolutions that were passed, with the adoption of true Federalism for Nigeria, State Police, fiscal autonomy, Mayoral status for Abuja, among others as major issues that were adopted.
Speaking further, Senator Omo-Agege said that the committee would also brainstorm with development partners where they would play pivotal roles through counsel, workshops, conferences and interactions, adding that the partnership roles of the Executive and Judiciary and their invaluable contributions cannot be overlooked as it will enhance efficient and successful outcomes.
Omo-Agege said, “this committee will consider the recommendations of the 2014 Constitutional Conference and the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led committee on restructuring. We would also liaise with our counterparts in the House of Representatives, the State Houses of Assembly and collaborate and build consensus with all stakeholders to ensure synergy. Development partners will also play pivotal roles through counsel, workshops, conferences and interactions. The partnership roles of the Executive and Judiciary and their invaluable contributions cannot be overlooked as it will enhance efficient and successful outcomes.”
The chairman of the Constitution Review Committee said that the senators will also consider the alteration of the Sixth Schedule to make provision for new items, the establishment of National and State Houses of Assembly, Pre-election Matters Tribunal, Governorship Pre-election Matters Tribunals and Presidential Pre-election Matters Tribunal, including time limits for the disposal of all pre-election matters before the conduct of the general election.
He said that the committee will also consider the need for devolution of power, full local government fiscal autonomy, full autonomy of the judiciary in the area of administration of justice, youth inclusiveness in governance, gender parity or affirmative action, adding that it would also consider inputs from stakeholders and different interest groups across the country.
Omo-Agege said, “Accept my congratulations, Distinguished Colleagues for appointments well deserved as members of this very important committee saddled with the responsibility of amending the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this 9th Senate. This calls for dedication, patriotism and selfless sacrifice to our fatherland.
“The need for Constitutional amendment lies at the heart of Constitutional theory and practice. Constitutionalism implies that the fundamental rules for the effective exercise of state power and protection of individual rights should be stable and predictable and not subject to easy change or the whims of individuals. This is most central in our noble and continual pursuit of the General Will.
“It is for this reason that the drafters of our Constitution deliberately made the process of Constitutional Amendment very pains-taking. Yet, the greater need to improve democratic governance or adjust to the ever-changing political, economic and social realities has made it necessary for our Nation to embark on this journey again.
“These changing times have brought new challenges and today in our country, we are faced with increased insecurity, slow economic growth, rising poverty, and poor political culture, amongst others. These challenges that will define the way Nigerians will live in the 21st century have continued to agitate the minds of our people. It is against this background that the need for constitutional reforms has once again become necessary.
“It is worthy of note that because of the need to incorporate the interests, wishes and aspirations of the people from various ethnic-social and ethno-religious backgrounds, we shall embark on far-reaching consultations with Nigerians across the six geo-political zones to, aggregate their positions on current issues that require legislative action by way of Constitutional Reforms.
“Over the years our people appear to have been polarised along different fault lines which often make it impossible to reach the much-needed consensus in some critical areas where fundamental changes are required. We must guide against this if we are to succeed. There is thus the need for a constitutional amendment that will be consistent with the agitations and aspirations of our people. This again is the whole essence of the General Will.
“Our task would be to find a consensus through compromise in order to meet the ever-changing needs of our people. We must understand that the fact that behind our diversity are people united by common challenges of insecurity, unemployment, and good hope for a better future provides us with the opportunity to focus on those issues that unite us. It is only by so doing that we can guarantee success and leave for our children a better, fairer and more just Nigeria than the one we met.
“As we set out to perform this all-important role that we are called upon to play at this critical stage of our nation’s development, let me appreciate the effort of the President of the Senate is putting together the membership of this committee. The diligence, hard-work and foresight that were brought to bear are commendable.
“Mr President, we appreciate the importance and level of responsibility you attached to the work of this committee. We will not disappoint you. I also have no doubt in my mind that this committee will meet the desires and expectations of the Nigerian people. This is because at the end, what unites us is far greater than what divides us.
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Govs Assure Easy Flow Of Essential Goods
The 36 states governors have pledged their commitment to ensure that the operations of manufacturers of essential goods and services are unhindered during the period of the lockdown in the country.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) was quoted as giving the assurance in a letter signed by the forum’s Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, written to the manufacturers.
In a statement signed by the Head, Media and Public Affairs of NGF Secretariat, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, yesterday in Abuja, Fayemi assured the continuous operations for food, beverage, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.
The governors, according to the statement also threw their weights behind making essential goods and services available to the citizenry, throughout the lockdown period.
This was fallout of the concerted efforts by governors to bring succour to Nigerians during the lockdown and ensure that the remedy did not ultimately turn out to be counter-productive.
The governors noted that the decision was reached “considering the crucial role played by manufacturers in ensuring the production of essential items.
“Following careful and deliberate consideration we are pleased to convey to you our full support to ensure that your operations continue unhindered.”
The forum noted that decision was also taken to guarantee the continued effective and efficient movement of essential foods, beverages and medical supplies as well as attendant essential services.
“We note that the whole value chain from farmers to suppliers of raw materials, from manufacturers to suppliers of packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams and retailers should continue with their lawful operations within the confines of the law.
It added that the governors reasoned that key players in the industry whose products were critical to the daily existence of Nigerians would need some waiver to continue to move their products around the country without hindrance.
The letter reads: “In view of the essential nature of food, beverage and pharmaceuticals, all parastatals and agencies of state governments have been advised as follows: To guarantee the continued effective and efficient movement of essential foods, beverages and medical supplies as well as attendant essential services.
“The whole value chain from farmers to suppliers of raw materials, from manufacturers to suppliers of packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams and retailers should continue with their lawful operations within the confines of law and to the extent that current realities permit.
“(a) The operations and activities of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical product companies and their suppliers of raw and packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales team and retailers should not be hindered by officials or agents of the state governments.
“(b) To ensure the safety of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical products and also that of the suppliers of raw and packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams, retailers and other employees who will be on the road during this time;
“(c) To guarantee that the distribution and movement of raw and packaging materials and finished products of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical products from various points within and across states is seamless;
“(d) That in the event of closure of open markets or shops, clear alternatives are defined on how to get finished food, beverage and pharmaceutical products to consumers in their neighbourhoods;
“(e) The responsiveness of relevant agencies of the state governments in playing their part fully in ensuring that what they need to do as prescribed by the law and extant regulations are carried out with dispatch.”
In order to regulate the operations and forestall abuse, the governors, however, directed all food, beverage, pharmaceutical and medical companies to adhere to certain caveats which include the following:
”Issue all suppliers and transporters a letter of authority confirming that they are authorised by you.
“All your staff need to ensure Identity Cards are carried at all time for all movements, with a copy of this letter of authority.
“All organisations to ensure compliance to all COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing, personal and respiratory hygiene for the safety of individuals and the community at large.”
It added that the suppliers and their operators were to be provided with toll free numbers they could call, in case they had any problems during the course of performing their duties.
Major Shake-Up As Buratai Rejigs Army
The Nigerian Army, yesterday, released the postings and appointments of some affected senior officers in a major shake-up that has swept through critical divisions and commands across the country.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, in Abuja, yesterday.
The statement reads, “The posting, which was approved by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, was explained to be a routine/normal exercise intended to reinvigorate the system for greater professional effectiveness and efficiency.
“The major highlight of the posting included – the posting and appointment of Maj-Gen A.C.C. Agundu from Special Task Force (STF) Operation Safe Haven, Jos to Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), Abuja as Senior Research Fellow; Major General H.I. Bature from Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Defence Liaison Office, National Assembly, Abuja to Army Headquarters Department of Civil Military Affairs and appointed Chief of Civil-Military Affairs; Maj-Gen U.M. Mohammed from Nigerian Army Property Limited (NAPL) to the Office of the Chief of Army Staff and appointed Special Adviser, Nigerian Army University, Biu/Deputy Chairman Board of Trustees NAPL; while the erstwhile Special Adviser, Nigerian Army University, Biu, Maj-Gen C.C. Okonkwo is now redeployed to STF Operation Safe Haven, Jos and appointed Commander; Maj-Gen F. Yahaya from Headquarters 1 Division, Kaduna to Headquarters Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD), Maiduguri and appointed Commander; while Maj-Gen O.G. Adeniyi is redeployed from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD, Maiduguri to NARC as Senior Research Fellow; Maj-Gen S. Idris from Sector 2 OPLD Damaturu, Yobe State redeployed to DHQ Abuja and appointed Director, Liaison.
“Others affected include – Maj-Gen A.A. Adesope from Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management to NAPL and appointed Group Managing Director; Maj-Gen M.G. Ali from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces Command, Doma, Nasarawa State as Commander; while the erstwhile Chief of Civil-Military Affairs AHQ, Abuja, Maj-Gen U.S. Mohammed has been redeployed to 1 Division, Kaduna, and appointed General Officer Commanding.
“Similarly, Brig-Gen H.I. Daniel from the defunct Army Special Forces Command, Maiduguri to Headquarters Training and Doctrine Command, Minna, and appointed Director, Army Training Support; Brig-Gen B.E. Onyeuko is to remain in DHQ, Abuja as Acting Director, Defence Media Operation; Brig-Gen N.M. Jega from Training and Doctrine Command, Minna to Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji and appointed Chief of Staff; Brig-Gen L.A. Araba from Nigerian Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja, now redeployed to Sector 2 OPLD, Damaturu, Yobe State as Ag Commander; Brig-Gen V.O. Ita from DHQ, Abuja to Headquarters 402 Special Forces Brigade, Azare and appointed Commander; while Brig-Gen J.A.L. Jimoh from Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD, Monguno to Headquarters 31 Brigade Minna and appointed Commander; and Brig-Gen G.T.O. Ajetunmobi has been redeployed from 31 Brigade, Minna to Nigeria Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja as Executive Director, Operation.
“Others are – Brig-Gen L.G. Lepdung from Headquarters Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji to DHQ, Abuja and appointed Deputy Director, Procurement (Logistics); Brig-Gen M.O. Ihanuwaze to remain in Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management as Acting Director; Brig-Gen E.C. Obi – Osang from the defunct Headquarters 707 Special Forces’ Brigade, Makurdi to Headquarters 401 Special Forces’ Brigade, Makurdi as Commander; while Brig-Gen G.M. Mutkut is redeployed from the defunct Nigerian Army Amphibious Command OPLD, Baga to Headquarters 403 Amphibious Brigade, Baga and appointed Commander; and Brig-Gen J.R. Lar from Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Kachia to Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD, Monguno as Commander.
“Also, Colonel D.J. Abdullahi from the defunct Headquarters Nigerian Army Special Forces’ Command, Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces’ Command, Doma, Nasarawa State and appointed Acting Chief of Staff; Colonel E.C. Emere from Nigerian Army Archives to Nigerian Military School, Zaria as Deputy Commandant; and Col M.O. Agi is to remain in Headquarters Nigerian Army Armour Corps, Bauchi as Acting Chief of Staff, among others.
“All the postings and appointments take effect from the 1st of April, 2020.
“While wishing all the officers well in their respective appointments, the Chief of Army Staff enjoined them to take their new responsibilities/appointments seriously and discharge all duties professionally with utmost loyalty to the nation and the service”, the statement added.
Reacting to the changes, yesterday, a former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, alleged ethnic motivation and victimisation in the shake-up.
Fani-Kayode, alleged that Maj-Gen Olusegun Adeniyi was redeployed for complaining about the condition of troops in the North-East.
It would be recalled that a video had a few days ago emerged of Adeniyi complaining about the welfare of troops fighting Boko Haram in the North-East.
But, Fani-Kayode alleged that the Major General was relieved of his duty after he made the video.
He wondered why Nigeria always rewarded her brightest and best with ingratitude, evil and humiliation.
The former minister described Adeniyi as a true and quintessential patriot, who was worthy of commendation.
Fani-Kayode wrote: “Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, the gallant and courageous commander who led our troops in Operation Lafiya Dole and who won the hearts and minds of millions of Nigerians when he appeared in a video that went viral two days ago complaining about the conditions that his troops were facing on the war front with Boko Haram and asking for better arms, equipment and welfare for them, was relieved of his appointment, yesterday.
“The GOC of the 1st Mechanised Division was directed to take over his position.
“What a pity and what a waste! Why does Nigeria always have to reward her brightest and best with ingratitude, evil and humiliation?
“I wish Major General Adeniyi well for the rest of his career in the military and I want him to know that we are proud of him, his commitment to the war against Boko Haram and the obvious care, love and compassion that he has for his troops. The man is a true and quintessential patriot.”
When contacted on the allegations by Fani-Kayode, the spokesperson of Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, dismissed the claim as a figment of the imagination of its purveyor, saying that the action was a routine/normal exercise in compliance with global best practices in the military.
COVID-19: Prisoners Attempt Jailbreak In Kaduna
There was an attempted jailbreak by some prisoners at the Kaduna Correctional Centre yesterday.
Our correspondent gathered that there was unrest among the prisoners when reports filtered into the facility located along the Independence Way in the metropolis over the possible spread of the coronavirus to the facility.
The prisoners, it was learnt, feared that they might be affected by the deadly virus as a result of the congestion currently being experienced in the correctional facility.
A resident close to the correctional facility said that he heard gunshots from the prison.
Another source said some of the prisoners attempted to escape to avoid contracting the disease but were unsuccessful.
One of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent on the telephone that, “We learnt the prison inmates are protesting. There is actually unrest there. They are protesting that they can be infected with the coronavirus.”
The Public Relations Officer of the Kaduna Correctional Centre, Mr Nathaniel Gagas, confirmed the incident.
“There is normalcy now. Security has beefed up in and outside the facility. There is no cause for alarm,” another source said.
Our correspondent also gathered that the authorities of the correctional facility sought reinforcement from the Army, Police as well as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps before the situation was brought under control.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, also known as “Shi’ites”, has warned that nothing must happen to their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, currently being held in the facility.
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