A bill seeking to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 scaled second reading at the Senate on Wednesday.
The bill also seeks to amend some sections of the Act that contradict the principles of fair hearing and court jurisdiction as provided in the Constitution as well as avert some loggerheads between the Act and the Constitution.
The bill is sponsored by Orji Kalu (APC, Abia North), who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for N7.1 billion fraud in December 2019.
He was tried alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Mr Kalu’s tenure as governor between 1999 and 2007.
They were accused of stealing and mismanaging funds belonging to Abia State.
Leading the debate, the lawmaker noted that the Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the country.
He said all authorities in Nigeria including the ACJA shall conform to the constitutional provision.
Section 253 of the Constitution, he explained, provides that “the Federal High Court shall be duly constituted if it consists of at least one Judge of that Court”.
And Section 273 states that “for the purpose of exercising any jurisdiction conferred upon it under the Constitution or any law, a High Court of a State shall be duly constituted if it consist of at least one Judge of that Court.”
The Court of Appeal has held that by the provision of Section 273 of the Constitution, a simple judge sitting in the High Court is qualified and had the power to try criminal offenses, he said.
“The provisions of Sections 253 and Section 273 of the Constitution, spells out the composition of the judges of the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the powers to hear and determine matters before them equally provided for by the same Constitution.
“The Constitution should be read together on provisions with establishment ,composition and jurisdiction of courts as the various High Court as Court of Appeal rules have provisions for the position of pending cases, when judges are elevated.”
The lawmaker complained that allowing a judge who is elevated to a Court of Appeal to determine cases before him, while he served as a High Court judge, will raise the issue of jurisdiction.
“It will be advisable that the Constitution be amended to expressly handle the gap created when judges are elevated to the next bench and be given the powers to conclude heard cases on elevation before moving to the next level.
“In view of the aforementioned we submit that a Constitutional amendment is the best option to take care of such lacuna. Further general observation, our judicial system recognises and applies the rule of stare decisis, meaning rules of precedent and hierarchy of courts.
“More so, courts are classified according to the Constitution and other extent laws. We should clearly demarcate or spell out the jurisdiction of the court to avoid contradiction and uncertainty.”
Stakeholders Seek Improved Commitment To Neglected Tropical Diseases’ Treatment
The need for improved zeal for political commitment, through high-level advocacy and awareness creation for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) visibility has been stressed.
The Zonal Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), Federal Ministry of Health, Department of Public Health, NTDs Control/Elimination Programme, North East Zone, Hauwa Abubakar, made the call in a keynote address to mark the 2023 World NTD Day with the theme: Invest in Neglected Tropical Disease #ACT NOW #ACT TOGETHER held at Dajin village in Tafawa Balewa LGA, Bauchi State.
Abubakar stated that in a bid to pay attention to the Neglected Tropical Diseases, there is need for solicitation for counterpart support, through resource mobilization.
She said there should be a strengthening integration and inter-sectoral collaboration between NTDs- WASH by active involvement of Line Ministries such as Environment, Water Resources, Education, Information, National Home Grown School Feeding (NHGSF) and others.
According to her, concerned agencies should strive for an there should be an all-inclusive agenda including Persons with Disabilities in implementation while calling for the release of more funds by Funders and Government in order to scale up MMDP interventions to other endemic LGAs.
She added that there should be sensitization of Communities for Behavioral change communication (BCC) across the LGAs in the state for Hygiene sustainability.
“It is important to mention that NTDs activities in Bauchi State had recorded tremendous achievements ranging from Trachoma elimination in Trachoma endemic LGAs, Passed several Pre- Transmission assessment surveys conducted over the years, in Lymphatic filariasis interventions, Conducted Epidemiological surveys for Onchocerciasis interventions,” Hauwa stated.
”Akl endemic LGAs for Schistosomiasis has migrated to ward level in terms of treatment, to enhance Schistosomiasis paradigm shift for elimination as recommended by World Health Organization.
“And more interestingly, the state had scaled up to MMDP interventions, and these included, TT surgeries in all endemic LGAs, Hydrocele surgeries and Lymphoedema Management in some LGAs, Snakebite awareness creation and Management and Yaw’s identification and Management, all with support from Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH) and Health and Development Support (HANDS)”, she said.
Abubakar congratulated all the stakeholders and Partner NGOs particularly the MITOSATH and HANDS for their continued campaign and support towards NTDs elimination in Bauchi State and in Nigeria at large.
She also appreciated the NTDs control team in the state for not only taking charge of ownership but its tireless effort in NTDs elimination processes.
In her remarks, the Programme Manager, MITOSATH, Esther Ijeoma, lamented that NTDs have continued to suffer from a lack of attention from the government and other agencies saying that her NGO would continue to lend a helping hand in giving attention to the NTDs.
Ijeoma commended Bauchi State Government through the BASPHCDA for its support in making drugs available for victims in all PHCs across the state.
Minister Tasks NIS Officers On Maintenance Culture
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has charged officers and men of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Lagos Command, to embrace high maintenance culture, serene work environment and transparent service delivery to persons seeking their services.
Aregbesola gave the charge during the commissioning of the new Alimosho Front Desk Passport Office, in Lagos, Monday.
Describing the complex as one of the massive edifices of the NIS, Aregbesola said the event was part of government’s commitment to providing conducive environment for the workforce to enhance productivity.
The Minister urged the officers and men of the Service to show gratitude by improving in their service to Nigerians.
He said, “there can be no alternative to motivating workers. If you want good service, efficiency and quality performance, the work environment must be attractive and motivating.
“Whoever leaves his house to such work environment that motivates his spirit, no matter his personal challenges, the ambiance of the work environment can motivate him to do more than expected of him.”
Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Tayo Ayinde, commended the Minister for coming to commission the complex, describing the gesture as a demonstration of strong commitment and leadership of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
In his address, the Comptroller General of NIS, Isah Idris, noted that the complex used to be the Headquarters of NIS until 1990 when the Federal Government directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to move to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), while the space served as the Zonal headquarters for Zone ‘A’ before same was relocated to Ikeja.
Idris described the new front desk office as timely in the largest local council in the country adding that it would help to decongest traffic in Ikoyi, Alausa and FESTAC passport offices.
Also Speaking, Chairman of Alimosho Local Council, Jelili Sulaimon, described the complex as a laudable project and a game-changer for the residents.
Enugu CSOs Hail INEC Over PVC Collection Extension
Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Enugu State have lauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for listening to the cry of Nigerians to extend the distribution of the ongoing Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) nationwide.
The CSOs gave the commendation in separate interviews with newsmen on the numerous benefits of the extension in Enugu, Monday.
Chairman of Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO), Anambra, Vincent Ezekwueme, said the extension was more beneficial to those in the Southeast due to the numerous sit-at-home orders by agitating groups.
He said INEC officials should address all the complaints, difficulties, predicaments and lamentations encountered by prospective voters, especially those in the Southeast.
Ezekwueme urged Nigerians to utilise this unique opportunity provided by the extension to collect their PVCs and be alive to their civic rights and responsibilities.
He further called on Nigerians to report to security agents anyone demanding monetary inducements or gratifications before PVC collections.
In his words, “the Federal Government and INEC have made it clear that registration and collection of PVC is free throughout the country without exception.
“It is incumbent upon the citizens to help the government in this regard by reporting those violating government directives to the appropriate authorities.
“Remember your vote is your power; your complaints about bad leadership can only be corrected with your vote, not with destructive criticisms”.
On his part, the Executive Director, Daniel Ukwu Leadership Foundation, Comrade Daniel Ukwu described the extension of the PVC collection as a positive development, which should be lauded by all.
Ukwu, however, stressed the need for more publicity on the PVCs collection points as some registrants might not know where to collect their PVCs since the initial locations had changed.
While commending INEC for the extension, the Executive Director, Women Centre for Self-Empowerment and Development (WOCSED), Mrs Onyeka Obi, said the development was a positive one for most Nigerian women.
Obi said: “You know most times, women do multi-tasking to ensure that they meet up with their daily demands and responsibilities.
“So you see that it is not really easy for women to spend hours waiting in queue for PVC collection without attending to other families, personal, and business demands”.
INEC extended the PVC collection to February 5 to enable more prospective voters to get their cards to vote during the elections.
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