The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has alleged that the Federal Government’s has ordered onslaught against judges in Nigeria in form of a request from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) that all banks release details of bank accounts of all Justices of the Supreme Court.
Its spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, in a statement, yesterday, alleged that this was simultaneous with another request from one of the security agencies to all mobile telecommunication companies to furnish them with the phone log of the Justices and other listed Nigerians from 1st August, 2018 till 10th September, 2019.
It said this followed the tribunal ruling which gave President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) victory over the Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The statement said: “We note that while the government tried to hide behind one finger by adding members of the National Assembly to the list of those whose bank accounts are under surveillance, it did not succeed in hiding its intention because it was clear that there was no mention of any member of the executive arm of government in the NFIU letter.
“Or are there no corrupt persons in the Executive arm of government? We would not have been so surprised by this latest government action since the same government had earlier ordered a midnight raid on houses of some judges and also removed a sitting Chief Justice of Nigeria in a most controversial manner.
“The same government sent security agents to lay siege on the National Assembly with a view to forcing a leadership change.
“Our concern, however, is that these directives to invade the privacy of the justices clearly guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution is coming at a time the coalition presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is approaching the Supreme Court to contest the judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
“Basking in the euphoria of the success of their arm-twisting plot at the Court of Appeal, they are at it again now in the Supreme Court. We make bold to say that this latest onslaught is part of coordinated plans to blackmail the justices of the Supreme Court, intimidate them and instill fear in them. But this move will backfire. It will fail.
“We call on all justices of the Supreme Court to stand firm, endure the onslaught of the emperor and his ruthless agents and use the word of their mouth on judgment day to bring his reign of terror and stolen mandate to an end and liberate Nigeria from this current nightmare.
“We, therefore, call on all lovers of democracy across the world to pay more attention to happenings in Nigeria as the nation’s democracy is being threatened daily by government’s actions.”
Meanwhile, a political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has called on the international community to place visa restrictions on the five justices of the Appeal Court that presided over the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) over gross miscarriage of justice and flagrant breach of the Constitution.
Frank also called on the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Supreme to review the tribunal’s ruling and sanction the Justices for deliberate perversion of justice.
Reacting to the recent judgement of the PEPT in favour of the presidential candidate of the APC, Frank in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, said it was obvious that the judgement was written by elements in the Presidency.
Frank said that he is convinced that the PEPT’s ruling that it is not necessary to present certificates to contest for political offices in the country has created problem for the nation’s education sector as it would now be difficult to convince children to go to school or tell those in school to study hard to attain excellence in their educational pursuit.
He, however, called on the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom, United Nations and other critical democratic stakeholders to take a punitive step against the five justices led by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, by placing them and their families on visa ban.
According to Frank, both local and international election observers had raised questions about the conduct of the election, particularly unjustified interventions by security forces in favour of Buhari and the APC, “they said the voting process wasn’t transparent and the Nigerian civil society group, a coalition made up of over 70 civic groups that monitored the balloting also said the outcome wasn’t credible.
“Yet the presiding justices of the PEPT in giving their judgment said the election was credible and dismissed the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“I, therefore, call on the international community such as the US, UK, EU and others to place a visa ban on the five justices of the PEPT and members of their immediate family.
“The onus is on the Supreme Court to show Nigerians and the world that the Judiciary is indeed the hope of the common man; it is incumbent on them to show that they are indeed independent and have not been colonized and made a rubber stamp of the Executive in view of the unthinkable verdict of the five justices of the PEPT.
“They simply turned the Judiciary into a black market where justice was measured and sold to the highest bidder. The Executive has always accused the Judiciary of corruption and the five justices have just confirmed it by this judgment.
“They have brought shame on the Nigerian Judiciary and must be sanctioned appropriately by the NJC to serve as a deterrent to others and restore sanity to the Judiciary,” he said.
Frank called on the international community to help Nigeria, saying the country “is at a point where it may have civil unrest or a break up as many regions have resumed agitation following the hope-dashing verdict.
“The international community should place visa restrictions on these five Justices like they have done to some corrupt politicians that participated in rigging the last general elections.
“Since these five Justices have traded away the opportunity to redeem the country’s democracy by ridding it of electoral fraud, the Supreme Court must now be courageous enough to rectify this judicial fraud in order to save Nigeria from collapse. Show Nigerians that the Judiciary is still the last hope of the common man,” Frank said.
Frank called on the apex court to save the Judiciary from the onslaught against it by the executive, and failure to reverse PEPT’s ridiculous verdict would inevitably render the Judiciary toothless.
Strike: OPS Warns FG, Labour Against Socio-Economic Disruption
The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) has called on the Federal Government and the organised labour to take all necessary steps to avert the disruption of socio-economic activities in the country.
This call was coming on the heels of the intended plans by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to embark on an indefinite strike, following a stalemate between the Federal Government and the organised labour on the removal of fuel subsidy and minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
The call was contained in a statement made available to newsmen by the Director General of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Ajayi-Kadir, yesterday.
According to him, the position of OPSN on the impending protest/strike by the labour unions is that of deep concern, if not anxiety.
OPSN is comprised of five business membership organisations (BMOs) namely, MAN; Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA); Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA); Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI).
Ajayi-Kadir stated: “OPSN is reiterating its call on the Federal Government and the labour unions to work sedulously to avert the looming disruption of socio-economic activities in the country.
“The economic indicators are not good and simply put, the economy cannot afford a nationwide strike at this time.
“We have keenly watched the back and forth consultations between the government on the one hand and NLC and TUC on the other. It is evident that the series of consultations have not yielded positive results and the latter has resolved, in one way or the other, to go ahead with the protest/strike.
“We are worried that adequate consideration is not given to the dire situation of the economy and the devastating/disruptive impact that a nationwide strike will have on the country at this time.
“The government and labour need to understand that our economy is being de-marketed and the livelihood of the average Nigerian is being diminished by these incessant bickering.
“While recognizing the right of the labour union to pursue the welfare of its members, we continue to implore the government to employ its best endeavours to re-engage the leadership of the unions and find an amicable ground to avert the imminent disruption in business activities that will attend the protest and nationwide strike.
“We opine that adequate consideration should be given to the grim state of the economy and the possible unintended consequences of social unrest that may result from the protests.
“Meanwhile, it is important to begin to have a conversation around how the labour unions and the government can resolve their issues without jeopardizing the livelihood of the average Nigerian and truncating our business projection and activities.
“There should be some innovation around how the conversation between the government and labour will not always end up in holding the economy hostage. The unintended consequence on the fortune of the average business and people of Nigeria is unwarranted and becoming too high.
“Government should demonstrate good faith in keeping to its promises during the negotiations with labour and abstain from making promises they cannot or do not intend to keep.
“On the other hand, labour should do a realistic assessment of its demands, within the context of prevailing economic realities and possibilities, while going the extra mile to indicate how its demands could be met.”
Probe Missing $15bn, N200bn Oil Revenues, SERAP Tells Tinubu
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to set up a presidential panel of enquiry to promptly probe the grim allegations that over US$15 billion of oil revenues, and N200 billion budgeted to repair the refineries are missing and unaccounted for between 2020 and 2021, as documented by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
SERAP urged the President to “name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing and unaccounted for public funds and to ensure their effective prosecution as well as the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.”
SERAP also urged Tinubu “to fully implement all the recommendations by NEITI in its 2021 report, and to use any recovered proceeds of crime.”
In the letter dated 23 September 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said there was a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations, adding that taking these important measures would end the impunity of perpetrators.
SERAP said, “As President and Minister of Petroleum Resources, your office ought to be concerned about these damning revelations, by getting to the bottom of the allegations and ensuring that suspected perpetrators are promptly brought to justice, and any missing public funds fully recovered.”
The letter read in part: “Any failure to investigate these grave allegations, bring suspected perpetrators to justice and recover any missing public funds would have serious resource allocation and exacerbate the country’s debt burden.
“It would also create cynicism, suspicion, and eventually citizens’ distrust about the ability of your government to combat high-level official corruption, as well as deter foreign investment and limit growth and development.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“The findings by NEITI suggest a grave violation of the public trust and the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], national anticorruption laws, and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.
“The allegations of corruption documented by NEITI undermine economic development of the country, trap the majority of Nigerians in poverty and deprive them of opportunities.
“Your government has a constitutional duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s wealth and resources.
“According to the 2021 report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), government agencies including the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NNPC) and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPDC) failed to remit $13.591 million and $8.251 billion to the public treasury.
“The NNPC and NPDC failed to remit over 70% of these public funds. NEITI wants both the NNPC and NPDC to be investigated, and for the missing public funds to be fully recovered.
“The report also shows that in 2021, the State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and its subsidiaries (the NNPC Group) reportedly spent US$6.931billion on behalf of the Federal Government but without appropriation by the National Assembly. The money may be missing.
“The NNPC also reportedly obtained a loan of $3 billion in 2012 purportedly to settle subsidy payments due to petroleum product marketers but there is no disclosure of the details of the loan, subsidy and the beneficiaries of the payments.
“The report also shows that N9.73 billion was paid to the NNPC as pipeline transportation revenue earned from Joint Venture operations but the money was neither remitted to the Federation nor properly accounted for. The NPDC in 2021 also failed to remit $7.61 million realized from the sale of crude oil.
“The report documents that about N200 billion was spent on refineries rehabilitation between 2020 and 2021 but “none of the refineries was operational in 2021 despite the spending.’ NEITI wants the spending to be investigated, as the money may be missing.
“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] imposes clear responsibility on your government to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution. Section 15(5) imposes the responsibility on your government to ‘abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’ in the country.
“Under Section 16(1) of the Constitution, your government has a responsibility to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.
“Section 16(2) further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.
“Similarly, articles 5 and 9 of the UN Convention against Corruption also impose legal obligations on your government to ensure proper management of public affairs and public funds, and to promote sound and transparent administration of public affairs.
“The UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party obligate your government to effectively prevent and investigate the plundering of the country’s wealth and natural resources and hold public officials and non-state actors to account for any violations.
“Specifically, article 26 of the UN convention requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption.
“Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.
“Nigeria is also a participating state of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which aims to foster greater governmental accountability for the use of natural resource wealth through the creation of a set of international norms on revenue transparency.
“EITI also aims to tackle corruption, poverty and conflict associated with natural resource wealth. Nigeria has the obligations to implement the EITI Standard, which sets out the transparency norms with which participating States including Nigeria must comply.
Global Index Ranks US Top Debtor At $20.27trn, Nigeria $27bn
The Global Index (TGI) has released its ranking of countries’ external debts categorised in trillions and billions of Dollars.
In the trillion Dollar category, according to the debt figures posted on its verified X handle @TheGlobal_Index on Saturday, the United States topped the chart of most indebted nations with $20.27trillion, followed by the UK, and France with $8.72trillion, and $6.35trillion, respectively.
In that same trillion category, China, Switzerland, and Singapore were the least with $2.02trillion, $2trillion, and $1.55trillion, respectively.
The ranking shows USA: $20.27trillion; UK: $8.72trillion; France: $6.35trillion; Germany: $5.67trillion; Netherlands: $4.34trillion; Luxembourg: $4.30trillion; Japan: $4.25trillion; and Australia: $3.15trillion.
Others in the trillion category include, Ireland: $3trillion; Italy: $2.5trillion; Spain: $2.33trillion; Canada: $2.12 trillion; China: $2.02trillion; Switzerland: $2trillion; and Singapore: $1.55trillion.
The Global Index also rated other countries in the billion Dollar category.
They include Brazil, Norway, and India ranking first, second, and third with $700billion; $651billion; and $555billion; respectively.
In the same billion Dollar category, Nigeria, Iran and North Korea were the least with $27billion; $8billion; and $5billion; respectively.
The full ranking shows Brazil: $700billion; Norway: $651billion;India: $555billion; Russia: $500billion; South Korea: $457billion; Mexico: $456billion; Turkey: $455billion; Portugal: $401billion; Indonesia: $400billion; Argentina: $280billion; UAE: $240billion; Saudi Arabia: $205billion; and South Africa: $180billion.
The rest are, Qatar: $170billion; Colombia: $135billion; Israel: $135billion; Ukraine: $120billion; Pakistan: $110billion; Vietnam: $100billion; Philippines: $82billion; Bangladesh: $50billion; Kenya: $30billion; Nigeria: $27billion; Iran: $8billion; and North Korea: $5billion.
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