No, Not Again …NASS On Oteh, Sanusi, Nat. Peace
The real beauty of representative democracy, with three arms
of government; the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary lies in an effective
separation of powers that guarantees proactive checks and balances. It is even
more beautiful if such checks are bereft of frequent muscle flexing by any arm
or creating seemingly endless recourse to ego trips and superiority contests.
Both the founding fathers and later day framers of the
Nigerian Constitution, weighed several variables, including the undeniably
likely excesses of absolute power, national stability and cohesion, speedy
policy decision-making in handling impending
national calamity and indeed the limits of human excellence before
settling for the Presidential system of government with bi-cameral legislature.
Afterwards, it was the expectation that the executive arm,
headed by a President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria shall run the government, the legislature shall make laws
for the well-being and survival of the people and their government while the
judiciary will interpret the law and ensure equity and justice at all times.
However, even with these distinctions, there are very often,
operational over-laps, especially between the legislative arm and government,
due largely because of the over-sight functions of the former. For sure, such
over-laps are clearly addressed by the constitution and if properly
internalised by all concerned should be enough to guarantee proper
understanding of one another’s reach and limit.
Strangely, the 7th National Assembly, particularly the House
of Representatives seems to be a little over-reaching on issues concerning
punishment and or removal from office, key operators of the executive arm,
without sufficient recourse to the Presidential discretion on such matters. An
example is the insistence by the House that the Director-General of the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Ms Arunma Oteh be sacked from office,
over what it called incompetence, organisational ineptitude and lack of
requisite qualification to superintend that sensitive office.
That saga, started early this year with the House’s probe of
the SEC operations, which in its wake, opened accusations and
counter-accusations of Reps members allegedly demanding and receiving freebies,
had resulted in the suspension of both the House Committee leadership and the
DG herself. But after necessary investigations by the executive arm as
empowered by the constitution, and not found wanting afterwards, Oteh was
recalled to assume office.
With that procedure followed and duly concluded, one would
have thought that the matter would be laid to rest. It is even more so, in view
of the long list of pressing national concerns demanding proactive response by
the National Assembly. Such issues include the raging debate on State Police,
need to review aspects of the 1999 Constitution that tend to impede national cohesion,
encourage corruption and under value the essence of national security.
Other pressing issues are; the resurgence of the vexatious
on-shore and off-shore dichotomy, polarisation of the nation along North-South
lines, state of Federal roads, poor allocation and attention to education,
electoral reforms, need for well-equipped security institutions and above all,
controversies bordering on political tenure of some public offices.
These and many other issues like the Freedom of Information
Bill, since signed into law but constantly observed in the breach, disparities
in exploration and exploitation of mineral resources, Nigeria’s monolithic
economy and the need to create jobs for the teeming unemployed, should enjoy
urgent attention. In the midst of all these, it is difficult to appreciate how
the removal from office of Ms Oteh should be such national emergency. But it
Last week, in what seemed an ultimatum to the executive arm,
the House of Representatives, shortly upon resumption from its recess, resolved
that the SEC, DG must be sacked and directed its Committee in charge Legislative Compliance to
report details of compliance within 14days. And thereafter?
Insisting that it was not prepared to back down on its
earlier resolution on the matter, the House passed a resolution requesting the
president to remove Oteh from office for allegedly being unqualified by law to
occupy the position (being) incompetent and her (alleged) inability to manage
the organisation. The House went further to warn that it would thenceforth
cease to accord any recognition to Oteh or deal with her as Director General of
The question is, does the legislative arm have the
unhindered power to sack a member of the executive arm? Or does the House have
limitless power to direct the President to sack the DG of SEC without proper
executive investigation to authenticate reasons advanced for such call? As the
body that initiated the probe of the SEC, should the House also sit in judgment
over the DG’s survival? Does that not amount to being a judge in one’s own
Rather than heat-up the system or further endanger a
delicate executive-legislative harmony, will it not be germaine for the House
to seek legal interpretation and where it has specific allegations of
misdemeanour and of incompetence seek
judicial intervention? Considered singularly and collectively, these issues,
should not rise-up to the level of endangering inter-arm understanding and
end-up heating up the system.
If is true that as part of its oversight functions, the
National Assembly could raise questions and even probe the activities of the
executive arm and after such attempts advise the President accordingly.
Such resolutions are, at best, advisory and purely at the
discretion of the Executive.
Curiously, even if the President inaugurates the
legislature, just as he appoints the Chief Justice of the Federation along with
the Supreme Court justices and the President of the Court of Appeal, based on
recommendations from the National Judicial Council, he does not enjoy the power
to sack at will, any one of them unilaterally, neither has the President
recommended the re-call of the erring law maker. And they are a hand-full.
Even when the Lawan/Otedola bribery scandal almost dragged
to the mud, the high reputation of the House of Representatives, not once did
the Executive arm insist on the recall of the Reps member. Why the haste to do
so, on the part of the NASS at every single provocation?
The other day, the Central Bank Governor, Malam Sanusi
Lamido Sanusi was a target. His sin was that he questioned the high take-home
pay of National Assembly members and in the heat of the Oil Subsidy probe by
the House, insisted on the constitutional autonomy of the Central Bank and
refused to submit the apex bank’s annual budget proposals, for legislative
For that seeming ‘intransigence’, the 7th National Assembly
seems bent on amending the law guiding the operations of the Central Bank,
clearly over-looking the reasons behind such independence. In most democracies,
the apex bank enjoys such autonomy because of its enormous responsibilities in
checking excesses of commercial banks against interests of customers, timely
currency restructuring, fixing interest
rates based on global pressures and indeed checking inflation through proper
economic management and policies.
The world is now a global village, and one economy depends
on another. In such instances, a national bank must be on top of the situation
and regularly take timely decisions to simulate areas that require simulating
and also bail out sectors which fall could spell economic doom to the nation.
Such an institution needs not be subjected to the familiar
vagaries of partisan politics and indeed
parliamentary muscle-flexing. That perhaps accounts for the operational
autonomy and independence of the Central
Bank in the first place and need not be compromised because of what the
legislative arm considers to be high-handedness on the part of the serving
Governor of the apex bank.
Rather than jeopardise the immense advantages of an
independent Central Bank, necessary safeguards should be put in place to check
the likely excesses of future office-holders. Otherwise, it will be
misinterpreted to mean that the Central Bank is being targeted for the sins of
Already, the decision of the
National Assembly, to suspend the currency restructuring process,
without, at worse hearing from the Central |Bank governor, is being perceived as not only hasty,
considering that no referendum has been done to test the project’s popularity
or otherwise, but that it is being rejected solely to punish Sanusi.
The National Assembly should not only rise above fighting
its own battles, it should appear so, and do the business of legislation that
will touch Nigerians, directly, Oteh as DG or not will not address poverty in
the Niger Delta, nor encourage educational pursuits by any Boko Haram faithful.
It will not also improve electricity power generation for Nigerians. Or will it
force all state governors to implement the N18,000 national minimum wage
approved for civil servants.
What the legislative muscle-flexing will achieve, at best,
is re-acclamation of the might and majesty of the National Assembly as an
institution on whom no effective over-sight can be exercised. And by extension,
the most powerful arm of government? Strength and wisdom’, once warned former
US President Bill Clinton, are not opposing values. They must move
My Agony is that Oteh and Sanusi had at one time or another
annoyed the National Assembly with their unrestrained outbursts in criticisms
and sensitive expositions: Oteh, on claims of Reps members demanding bribe from
her and Sanusi flaying the high take-home pay of the legislators. And these
examples dress NASS in the garb of a giant fighting own wars, nay Nigerians’.
Methinks, when these interests clash a probable course to
follow-should be the intervention of the
Judicial arm so that no single arm assumes role of prosecutor and judge in its
Soye Wilson Jamabo
Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow
The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.
Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, appeared before the state High Court in Port Harcourt, to testify as a witness in an N7billion libel suit against THISDAY Newspaper.
Wike said he was in court to seek justice and clear his name as a person from the malicious publication by THISDAY Newspaper, which portrayed him as deceitful, untrustworthy person, who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Wike had in August, 2020, slammed a N7billion suit being damages for libel written and published in THISDAY’s Tuesday, June 23, 2020 edition captioned, “With Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’s Waterloo; Almost.”
The defendants in the suit are THISDAY Newspapers Limited, Leaders and Company Limited, Davidson Iriekpan, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu.
Wike, while testifying as witness in suit No. PHC/1505/CS/2020 before the court presided over by Justice A. Enebeli, asserted that the defendants maliciously and falsely portrayed him as an unreliable friend/person.
“When you say somebody cannot be trusted; that cannot be a fair comment. When you say somebody is influencing the Judiciary, that cannot be a fair comment”, the governor said.
In his written statement on oath, Wike had stated that the defendants had accused him of influencing the decision of the court sitting in Port Harcourt that granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State in 2020.
He stated that the defendants maliciously accused him of undemocratically exerting influence on the primaries process of PDP in Edo State in aid of his ally, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who was the beneficiary of the court order restraining Obaseki from participating in the PDP primaries.
The governor, who told the court that he was not even aware of the aforementioned suit by Ogbeide-Ihama against Obaseki, said the publication was reckless, false and without regards for the truth.
According to him, contrary to well-known journalistic tradition and practices, the defendants did not investigate properly to ensure the information they relied on was accurate.
“They did not seek to verify the facts from me or in any manner oblige me with the opportunity to state my own side of the story before proceeding to make the false publication” the governor argued.
Wike stated that the defendants further denigrated him before the entire world as a fake democrat, who engages in meddling in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to get at his political foe, Chibuike Amaechi.
The governor explained that he was not a member of the APC and has had no hand in the internal crisis which has bedevilled the party both in Rivers State and all over Nigeria.
“By the letter of Messrs E.C. Ukala and Co., Solicitors, under the hand of Emmanuel C. Ukala, SAN, dated 23rd June, 2020, the defendants were given opportunity to retract, and recant the publication as well as to offer apology for the false publication but the defendants spurned the opportunity and ignored the letter completely.”
The governor, while responding to claim by lawyer to the defendants, Turudu Ede, SAN, that the essence of the lawsuit was to intimidate and harass his clients, said the whole essence of the suit was to get justice and clear his name as a man of substantial character, honour and repute.
“The essence of the suit is to get justice since they (defendants) refused to retract the publication or apologise. So, I sued them to clear my name.”
Speaking to journalists outside the court, one of the lawyers to Wike, Mr. Mark Agwu said his client was in court to seek legal redress.
“To challenge him as a person, it means you have made him untrustworthy, a deceit, a cheat, an influencer of the court, because the publication they made was that he had a role to play in influencing the outcome of that Federal High Court case. Nobody will take that lightly, and especially for a man who believes in the rule of law”, Agwu added.
The court adjourned the matter for further hearing to 12th, 13th and 14th of January, 2022.
$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others
The Rivers State Government has charged two construction firms, Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, to court over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.
In a 16-count criminal charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, C.F. Amadi for the Rivers State Attorney General, the state alleged that after collecting the said sum as advanced payment between 2011 and 2018, the defendants have not kept their obligation under the contract.
Others charged alongside the companies were Walter Peviana; Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe; Giandomenico Zingali; Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, who are directors and officers of the companies.
The defendants are charged with various offences ranging from conspiracy, cheating and obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State, amongst others.
Already, the Rivers State Government has issued a fiat to the law firm of Godwin Obla (SAN) to prosecute the matter before the state High court.
The defendants are equally charged for the offence of false Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under Section 436 (b).
The prosecution specifically accused the defendants of obtaining credit of $130million by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b), obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 only by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).
They are charged for obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54, by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); attempt to cheat $97million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; attempt to cheat $15million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; conspiracy to receive a credit of $97million by false pretences contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; cheating $11million contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating N110, 097, 416.51 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating by collecting sums attributable to shared facilities already paid for in AFAM Phase I in AFAM Phase II contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421.
Obtaining N20, 467, 942 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; obtaining credit of $60,168,936.00 by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $1,512,034.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) all of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the charge and the statement made by the Head, Power Generation/Mechanical of the Rivers State Ministry of Power, one Mr Temple Azunda M., the facts constituting the case in hand are as follows:
Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and other officers of the duo, herein the Defendants, are Italian companies which services have been retained by the Rivers State Government, herein RSG, in several projects, prominent amongst which is the AFAM Phase II Power Plant Project.
By an initial tripartite agreement made on the January 20, 2010, the RSG under the auspices of the Rivers State Ministry of Power entered a contract with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Saipem SPA for the construction of the OGCT power plant in Port Harcourt at a total cost of $119million consequent upon which the Rivers State Government made advance payments, in instalments, to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and Saipem SPA amounting in total to a sum of $130million in all which the Defendants have acknowledged receipt of.
The Defendants were to be given an initial mobilization of 20per cent of the total contract sum which the RSG paid.
It was part of the initial agreement – and indeed a condition sine qua non – that, to access the 2nd tranche of payment of 25per cent from the Rivers State Government, the Defendants would mandatorily have installed the Gas Turbine into the foundations as referenced in ATTACHMENT 1 to VO 007 which states that:
CONTRACTOR shall be entitled to a payment corresponding to 20per cent of the VO No. 007 LS PRICE upon mobilisation to site and commencement of bush clearing activities at SITE.
Upon commencement of bush clearing activities at the site, the contractor shall issue the invoice relevant to the above payment and the owner shall pay such invoice within 14 days from its issuance.
The parties agree that no deduction for recovery of advance payment shall apply on the payment due to the contractor for invoices issued by the contractor in accordance with this paragraph.
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