The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has been urged to strengthen the rule of law by encouraging lawyers in the country to interpret the law correctly.
Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi gave the charge yesterday while declaring open the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Port Harcourt.
The governor who frowned at the manner in which the Ministry of Justice and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have interpreted matters of the law in recent times, regretted that it was unfortunate that very respected lawyers were at the helm of affairs at these arms of government.
Governor Amaechi noted that since the EFCC was established by an act of parliament it was improper for the organization to act in contravention of the law, describing its decision to act as accuser and judge as unfair.
He noted that instead of challenging a subsisting court judgment which prevents it from prosecuting public officers before going ahead to tarnish the image of such persons, the EFCC now pronounces people guilty before interrogation.
According to him, the best approach permissible by law was to first challenge the judgment in court, so as to gain unhindered access in arresting and prosecuting suspected corrupt officers.
He said his administration was not against the activities of the EFCC but would no longer allow the organisation to keep harassing serving public office-holders in the state when a court judgment preventing the agency from doing so has not been vacated.
The governor also condemned the action of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Kaase Aondoakaa for using his administrative power as Justice Minister to set aside a judgment of the Supreme Court concerning the ownership of oil wells.
While calling on the NBA to rise to the need to save Nigeria and indeed, the Niger Delta from the injustices against them, Governor Amaechi chided the Justice Minister for applying double standard in the issue of oil wells between Cross River State and Akwa Ibom and Akwa Ibom and Rivers, respectively.
The State Chief Executive blamed the Justice Minister for setting aside the apex court judgment and the political compromise reached on the issue to cause disaffection among the states of the region, when he should be protecting obedience to the law.
Governor Amaechi who spoke on the topic “Physician Heal Thyself” urged NBA members to show more interest and responsibility in protecting the laws of the land especially when such laws were pronouncements of the Supreme Court.
On the neglect of the Niger Delta States by the Federal Government, Governor Amaechi said the Federal authorities have not carried out any meaningful project in the region to justify the huge resources from the area.
He cited the example of abandoned federal roads in Rivers State on which the state government had spent over N50billion in reconstructing to enable the people move in Port Harcourt and its environs.
Earlier, the president of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) said the NEC meeting in Port Harcourt, few years after the National convention in the state, shows that the Port Harcourt branch of the body is active.
Chief Akeredolu, acknowledged the challenges before the Rivers State governor to speak louder for the people and promised to live up to the expectation of Nigerians, while assuring that the Niger Delta issue must be re-examined to give the people fair treatment.
Also speaking, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ken Chikere explained that the state government in partnership with other law enforcement agencies in the state has done well in prison decongestion and quick dispensation of justice.
In his welcome address the Port Harcourt branch chairman Chief O. T. K. D. Amachree said the branch is over due for another branch based on its overwhelming membership strengthen of over 2,000 lawyers.
CAS Lauds Troops For Exceptional Performance In South-East Operation
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has lauded Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops for exceptional performance in ongoing Joint Task Force in the South-East code-named “Operation Udo Ka II”.
Abubakar said this yesterday in Enugu during his maiden visit and tour of operational and training assets and facilities within NAF Ground Training Command (GTC), Enugu.
He noted that NAF troops had done exceptionally well and recorded series of success in the joint operation meant to keep the South-East safe and secured for all.
The CAS noted that the GTC Command was highly important to NAF as it housed the ground component (non technical component) as well as a unit of air component necessary to ensure the attainment of the mandate of NAF.
He said: “Today, we are in Enugu, which is the host of the GTC Command in our maiden visit and we are here to interact with the NAF personnel, see the facilities and infrastructure on ground.
“We are also here to encourage the personnel to continue to do the good job they had been doing before now.
“The GTC Command and the Air Training Command are key to all of our activities in NAF and the two commands ensure we have the adequate and skilled manpower for all our activities and operations.
“I am also here to strengthen our activities within Operation Udo Ka II, which Enugu is the headquarters, and see how we can achieve greater successes more than what we are having now and ensure that South-East is totally secured.”
He disclosed that 750 personnel were currently undergoing training and would be graduating between December 2023 and January, 2024.
“These training are important to us in terms of our operation; and the current number is very significant amount of manpower to be injected into our operations and other activities in the country,” he said.
On the inspection in the new GTC Command Headquarters, new 553 Base Services Group (BSG) Headquarters and BSG Annex; Abubakar said that he was quite satisfied and impressed with the pace, level and quality of work done already.
“I have taken out time to inspect the projects and asked questions about the projects and I tell you that I am satisfied with what are on ground and all our assets and facilities are well maintained and protected,” he said.
The NAF boss commended NAF officers, airmen and airwomen in GTC Command for “doing a good job and keeping the flag flying high” as well as extolled their sacrifices and commitment to duties as well.
“I am very happy for their performance. We at the NAF headquarters, we are doing all we can to make sure they have all the necessary support and equipment as well as welfare and accommodation to carry out their jobs effectively,” he said.
He assured NAF personnel of doing more by providing all necessary infrastructures to ensure the maximum working of the GTC Command.
The CAS also inaugurated a renovated airmen’s club and new Mrs Rakiya Abubakar Children’s Park as well as inspected the water treatment and reticulation system and the hospital within NAF Base, Abakpa in Enugu.
UNIBADAN Lecturer Wins Best Thesis Dollar Prize
The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, has announced Dr Muhammad Ribadu as winner of this year’s Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African Studies award.
The Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, made the announcement in a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Ribadu, of the University of Ibadan, will be rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate.
Falaiye said a total of 18 entries for the 4th edition of competition were received from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa
He gave the title of the winning thesis as: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.
“The first runner up for this competition was Oluwaseyi Popogbe, currently a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Crawford University in Ogun.
“The title of his thesis is: Social Exclusion and Poverty in Selected Coastal Slum Areas in Lagos State; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) Department of Economics University of Lagos.
“The second runner up position went to Dr Charles Akwen, currently a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos.
“Akwen’s thesis is titled: Notions of Identity in the Literary Creativity of Odia Ofeimun and Yang Mu; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) English Literature, University of Lagos,” the director stated.
He said that both the first and second runners up would be awarded plaques and certificates in recognition of their contributions and hard work.
Falaiye noted that the competition was in honour of Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was the 10th Vice Chancellor of the university, at the time the institute was inaugurated.
The prize money is usually donated every year for the award by friends of Prof. Bello.
Falaiye said that Dec, 6, had been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The Tide source reports that the award was first presented in 2020.
States, LGs Lack Infrastructure To Manage Ecological Fund, Shun Queries – Perm Sec
The 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government councils have no structure in place to manage Ecological Fund.
The declaration was made in Abuja, yesterday, by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Malam Shehu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim made the declaration at an interactive session with the House Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund.
He said since states and local governments began to share the fund with the Federal Government they had not been able to put structures in place to manage their share.
The Ecological Fund is an intervention fund by the Federal Government to address the multifarious ecological challenges in various communities in the country.
Ibrahim told the house committee that the sharing of the fund among the three tiers of government followed a court decision.
He said governors and local council chairmen never welcomed queries about how they deployed the ecological funds.
“It is a `no-go’ area,’’ he quipped.
“They don’t want to see officials of the Ecological Project Office near them; so we cannot ask them how they spend the money,’’ he added.
Ibrahim said also that all motions by the National Assembly regarding intervention on ecological project matters had been treated.
“The Ecological Project Office acts expeditiously on documents sent to it to solve problems; it looks at some of the gaps within the motion and tries to fill the gaps, and we have had more than five of such motions.
“ The Ecological Project Office does not handle funds; it only appraises projects and makes recommendations to the president,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that it is the Ministry of Finance that manages the fund and the projects.
He stressed that it was a misconception that the Ecological Project Office is in charge of funds and at liberty to decide on where projects would be sited with the money in its coffers.
He said whenever there were interventions; the Ecological Project Office informed affected communities and went with the contractor to hand over the projects to the community.
This is to enable the community to take ownership of the intervention and communicate their observations to the project office.
Responding, Rep. Sani Jaji (APC-Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji), chairman of the committee, said there should always be stakeholders engagement before embarking on ecological fund intervention projects.
He noted that the projects were stakeholders’ projects and failure to include the stakeholders would always lead to security breach.
“So many things happened with UNICEF’s polio vaccine rejection; but when it included stakeholders, people began to accept the vaccine.
“It is critical to involve stakeholders and ensure equity. Security cannot be the reason why you won’t execute projects in certain parts of the country.
“The perception about your office is that there is money out there; so you need to change that perception and let people know that you have limitations about the execution of projects,’’ he said.
Jaji challenged the Ecological Fund Project Office to provide the needed advice to the president to enable him to take the correct steps.
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