Saraki Visits Melaye, Says Senate Is Working To Resolve His Crisis

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Wednesday said the senate was trying to resolve the crisis involving the embattled Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye.

Saraki made the disclosure while addressing journalists during a visit to the embattled Senator at the National Hospital, in Abuja.

He disclosed that Melaye was stable but still in the intensive care.

According to Saraki, the embattled lawmaker has not eaten in the last 24 hours.

“We are happy that we’ve just seen him. He’s in the intensive care and stable for now, though he has not eaten in the last 24 hours and we are trying to resolve that.”

Saraki led a senate delegation to visit Melaye at the National Hospital.

Melaye, is being treated of injuries he sustained after he allegedly jumped off a police vehicle while being transported to Lokoja, Kogi State to face criminal charges.

The lawmaker was initially admitted at the intensive care unit of Zankli hospital opposite the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mabushi in Abuja before he was transferred to the National Hospital.

 

Saraki, Senators Visit Melaye At National Hospital

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and many senators are currently at the National Hospital Abuja to visit one of their own, Dino Melaye who was admitted yesterday.

According to information, the convoy arrived at the facility at 1:33pm.

Reports say the lawmakers are now meeting with the management of the hospital, ahead of a visit to Senator Dino Melaye’s ward.

The senators had resolved on Wednesday morning to visit with the embattled lawmaker who was transferred from a private hospital on Tuesday night to the National Hospital, Abuja.

Saraki and other senators were eventually admitted to see Mr. Melaye.

They are now inside the National Traumatic Centre in the National Hospital Abuja, where Melaye is being treated.

Security and legislative aides who accompanied the lawmakers were, however, prevented from entering the facility, which is being‎ guarded by about 30 stern looking policemen.

 

Senator Omo-Agege’s Supporters Storm NASS In Protest [PHOTOS]

Protesters on Wednesday morning stormed the National Assembly demanding for the recall of the suspended Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial district, Ovie Omo-Agege.

The protesters who are majorly young men carried placards with various inscriptions describing the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki as being authoritative.

The group in a letter submitted to the Senate President, a copy of which was obtained by newsmen, put the Senate President on notice that if nothing was done to recall the lawmaker immediately, Niger Deltans would occupy the Senate.

It also added that failure to recall Omo-Agege should be considered as an invitation to anarchy.

“We demand that our Senator Ovie Omo-Agege should continue to represent us and notification for self representation pending the resolution of unconstitutional, anarchical and tyrannical suspension by the Senate leadership”, it said.

Meanwhile, Police officers who have been keeping vigil over rumours of protesters loyal to the embattled lawmaker, have barricaded the protesters from entering the complex.

Representative of the Senate President, Hajia Amina Mohammed collected the letter, saying that she will deliver it to the Senate President immediately.

 

SERAP Sues Saraki, Others Over N13.5m Monthly Running Cost

A human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has sued the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the 108 other senators, over their alleged monthly earnings of N13.5m as running cost.
In the suit, which it filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is seeking an order compelling the senators to refund with interest all the funds they had so far collected as running cost.
It wants the court to scrap the N13.5m running cost and bar the lawmakers from further collecting “such illegal, unconstitutional and unjustified monthly allowances.”
The group, in its suit marked FHC/L/CS/630/18, is also praying the court to order the relevant agency to conduct an investigation into how each of the senators had spent the monthly N13.5m running cost they had so far received.
In the suit, SERAP contended that “the defence put forward by the senators that the said sum is contained in the Appropriations Act with different headings like medicals, travelling, etc holds no water.”
“This is because the Schedule of the Remuneration Act clearly makes provision for medicals, travelling etc. The argument that the running cost is for such medicals etc has no legal fount,” it said.
“There is no doubt that the Senate herein represented by the Senate President acted ultra vires in its powers by allotting to themselves the said sum of N13.5m monthly as running cost.
“It is trite law that when the word ‘shall’ is employed in a statute, the primary meaning that the court will assign to it is that such provision is mandatory and leaves no room for discretionary or arbitrary exercise of power except a congruence reading if the statute intends otherwise.
“The sum of N13.5m shared by the Senate President and other senators monthly is neither part of their salaries and allowances as approved for them by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission nor contained in the Appropriations Act. This is further strengthened by the declaration of the RMAFC that the said sum is not known to the RMAFC and therefore illegal,” counsel for SERAP, Ms Bamisope Adeyanju, argued in the suit. “

Senate President Urges Nigeria to Guard Democracy

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Friday urged Nigerians to guard the country’s democracy jealously and shun acts that could truncate it.

He gave the advice in Lagos while speaking at the 4th Anniversary Lecture of The Niche Newspapers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the lecture is: “Development Reporting and Hysteria Journalism in Nigeria”.

Represented by Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce, Saraki said democracy was the best form of government and urged citizens to preserve it at all costs.

The Senate President pointed out that though the system was yet to be perfect, democracy was still the best way to realise the country’s development aspirations.

“We must preserve democracy at all costs. It is the duty of everyone, all the citizens of the country.

“No matter the problems we are facing, democracy is still the best form of government to guarantee development “, he said.

Saraki said the media had contributed to the survival of democracy in the country through agenda setting and playing the role of a watchdog.

He urged the media not to relent on its efforts at promoting the country’s development and making Nigeria a better place.

The Senate President described Wednesday’s invasion of the Senate and snatching of the mace by hoodlums as primitive and disgraceful.

He said the incident was an assault on the legislature and a threat to democracy and security.

Saraki, however, thanked the media for rising to the occasion by reporting the incident in real time, saying the intervention helped to highlight the threat.

The Saraki said media had a big role to play in leadership and urged it to always play its role to improve the Democratic process.

In his speech, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Kingsley Moghalu described the media as an essential component of the country’s development.

He, however, expressed the regret that the media had not been sufficiently playing the role of promoting development.

Moghalu said a good number of outlets focused on hysteria journalism which highlighted sensationalism rather than development.

Moghalu, who had a stint at Newswatch Magazine, said most media houses had deviated from development issues for political patronage.

He lamented that investigative journalism was dying in the country, saying that was not good for the country’s development.

“One of the major ways in which the media can play the role of a catalyst in social transformation is through investigative journalism.

“By uncovering evidence of malfeasance and shedding light on social olds, journalists can influence public discourse in a major way.

“There is so much that is wrong with our country today and a vibrant tradition of investigative reporting can help change this “, he said.

He decried the focus of media organisations on sports and entertainment and said there was the need to do more on real news for development.

Moghalu acknowledged that the media was challenged in many ways but still urged it not to abdicate its responsibilities owing to challenges.

In a brief remark, a legal luminary, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, said citizens’ participation was essentially to strengthen democracy.

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to participate actively in the 2019 elections to elect leaders of their choice.

A former presidential aspirant of the KOWA party, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, commended the media for its role in national development.

She, however, said the media was not doing enough in giving balanced coverage for aspirants for elective offices.

She said the media focused more on the candidates of the major parties during the 2015 elections and did not bother about others.

“The media should give everyone equal coverage. That is the only way to present different options to the Nigerian people “.she said.

The President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mrs Funke Egbemode said the media industry was facing a lot of crisis at the moment.

She listed the problems of the industry as poor patronage, declining advertising revenues and high operating costs and declining professionalism.

Egbemode said most organisations were just struggling to survive and that that had affected the capacity of the industry to function as efficiently as expected.

“It is bad news that there are even worse days ahead for the industry’ ’she said.

She said the hysteria journalism being practised was as a result of the problems in the society.

The media practitioner said the news people read was a reflection of the society, adding the media should not be blamed for that.

Speaking the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos, Mr Joe Igbokwe said the media was key to the development of the nation.

He, however, urged the media to respond to the trends in the industry in order to remain relevant.

On the looters list released by the APC, he said the action was taken to discourage corruption.

He said those who looted the country were going about with bold faces, saying there was the need to let them know they had a price to pay.

“You can take our money and go about with a bold face. The list is, therefore, to discourage and reduce corruption “, he said.

He urged Nigerians of all regions not to look down on one another, saying reciprocal respect for peoples across region was good for unity.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari has acquitted himself well as leader of the country.

In his welcome address, the Editor in Chief of the Niche Newspaper, Mr Ikechukwu Ameachi, said the lecture was organised annually to discuss issues that affect the country with a view to proffering solutions.

Saraki Backs Local Government Autonomy

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has reiterated his support for local government autonomy in the country.

Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, stated this during a visit by the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), led by its National President, Comrade Ibrahim Khalil.

He said: “Here in the Senate and the National Assembly, we appreciate the importance of governance in the third tier of government — the local government,” Saraki said. “As such, it is very important that we strengthen local government administration.

“Part of strengthening local government administration is ensuring that there is autonomy. I also believe that strengthening local government administration means that we all do our best to increase the capacity at the local government.

“Sometimes, you find out that in developed countries, people who are competent, to contest at a level even as high as the Senate, would tell you that they don’t want to be at the Federal level like Abuja or Washington, they prefer to stay at the local level”.

Saraki told the local government employees that it was also important to see that local governments are properly and independently funded, adding, “however, there must be a symbiotic relationship between the states and the local governments to ensure that the third tier of government is not placed at a disadvantage.”

“It is unfortunate that you observed that in the last Constitution alteration exercise, we were not successful on this issue. Being a former Governor, the Senate Leader always reminds me that ‘I have seen the light.’ But on a serious note, we all have a role to play to strengthen our local government system.

“It is important that we see how local governments can be independent, how local governments can have more autonomy, and Governors cannot interfere with what is due to local governments.

“In all of this, there must still be a cordial and symbiotic relationship. If we just say that local governments should just be on their own, it might have some disadvantages.

“We must also look at how we can ensure that local governments have funding of their own without any interference,” Saraki stated.

Saraki also noted that following the last Constitutional Review exercise embarked on by the National Assembly, only nine states were in support of local government autonomy, stating that he would do more to ensure that further cooperation and collaboration is achieved to rectify the issue.

“If we look at the last Constitution review exercise, unfortunately, I must say that we have a lot to do. I don’t think that we got up to nine states that were in support of local government autonomy.

“I will ensure that we do more to rectify this issue. I am proud to say that my home state, Kwara, was one of those 9 states that supported local government autonomy.

“It will happen. I assure you, it will happen. We are all in a hurry to see that it happens. The question though, is how soon? I always say that these kinds of things like the Constitutional amendment process, you cannot bully anybody. But you must ensure that there is cooperation and collaboration,” the President of the Senate said.

Assets Declaration: Supreme Court Fixes Date To Rule On Saraki’s Case

The Supreme Court has set July 6 to deliver judgment in the appeal filed by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, challenging the ruling of the Court of Appeal which asked the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to try him on three of the 18 counts brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The apex court fixed the date on Thursday in Abuja after hearing the appeal and cross-appeal filed by the Senate President and the anti-graft agency over the allegations of false asset declaration.

Senator Saraki is contending that there is no prima facia case against him and as such, the apex court should uphold his no case submission which was upheld by the CCT.

Counsel to the Senate President, Mr Kanu Agabi, told the court that the law was not followed in filing the case against his client.

He added that section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Act stipulates that only an authorised person can verify whether a person’s asset declaration was properly done or not.

Agabi maintained that in the instant case, all four witnesses presented by the prosecution at the CCT did not meet the requirements stipulated by law.

He, therefore, asked the court to uphold his appeal and dismiss all the charges against him.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, who filed a cross-appeal, asked the court to quash the no case submission upheld by the CCT and ask the tribunal to retry the Senate President on all 18 counts preferred against him.

Jacobs argued that the section of the law relied on by the Senate President was not mandatory and that based on a whistleblower information or petition, the Attorney-General felt there was a breach of the law and ordered the investigation which led to the prosecution of the Senate President.

When asked if Saraki was invited based on the findings of the investigation, the prosecutor answered in the affirmative, and when asked who the Senate President made a statement to, he told the court that it was the EFCC and not the CCB.

He, however, insisted that the Senate President had a case to answer and as such, his cross-appeal seeking to quash the no-case submission upheld by the CCT to should be allowed.

The CCT had on June 14, 2017, quashed an 18-count of false asset declaration and money laundering against Saraki by the EFCC for lacking in merit. The tribunal agreed with the Senate President that he had no case to answer.

On January 14, 2018, the appellate court agreed in part with the lower court but held that he had a case to answer in counts 4, 5, and 6 which had to do with his purchase of properties in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.

Committee Report On 2018 Budget Available Next Week – Saraki

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has stated that the Committee on Appropriations is expected to present a harmonised report on the 2018 Appropriation Bill next week.

The Senate committees have been given a deadline of  Friday to present their reports on the 2018 budget proposal by the Federal Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

Saraki made the announcement at the plenary on Tuesday after reading a letter from the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, who asked the standing committees to submit their reports to his committee for compilation and harmonisation.

The letter read in part, “Final announcement: Appropriation sub-committees are hereby informed that the submission and defence of budget report has been extended to Friday, 13th of April, 2018. Please note that there will be no further extension of time, as the committee will take appropriate decisions on the budgets of the MDAs.”

In his remark, the Senate President said, “Distinguished colleagues, particularly chairmen, just to re-echo this communication from the chairman of Appropriations, Friday is the deadline. And chairman of Appropriations, you must submit your report to us next week. So, by Friday, there cannot be further extension.”

“All the chairmen of committees that have still not submitted their reports, after Friday, Appropriations must not take any report from any chairman; just go ahead and do your report, and bring it before us by next week.”

Saraki And The Frustrations With Our Brand of Democracy, By Zainab Suleiman Okino

The president of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki appears unhappy over the constant feud and friction between the arm of government he leads and the Presidency. Under the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency, the executive and the National Assembly have disagreed over almost everything. If it is not on budget padding today, it is about the screening of nominees by the legislature. If those the system favours, those who benefit, and those who, supposedly call the shots, are angry with the system, then who else is not? Is it the electorate, who are remembered only once in four years, the hungry and dejected Nigerians, the unemployed youth or those who cannot pay their hospital bills, or those whose wards have dropped out of school because school fees have been hiked beyond their reach? Or is it the businessman who is forced to close shop because of unfair competition, the monopoly of a few and absence of protectionist policies to shield local industries.

The endless frictions, which Saraki attributed to lack of the “constructive engagement, synergy and institutional collaboration” are taking their tolls on the Senate president, hence his anger and frustration. This came to light at the weekend in Jos during a one-day retreat organised by the Senate Press Corps, tagged “Strengthening Executive-Legislature Relations”. The Senate president, who was visibly angry and seemed flustered about the unworkability of the present arrangement, also admitted that friction is a normal occurrence in a democracy, but theirs (the Senate and the Presidency) in the current dispensation has even degenerated to name calling. Currently brewing are the issues of budget consideration, the N4.6 trillion bond and approval of $1 billion from the excess crude account to fight the Boko Haram insurgency.

“Just a few days ago, the issue of providing funding for the purchase of security equipment came up. In a good environment, such an issue needed to have been discussed with lawmakers. Already, some senators are angry. They said they were not consulted by the executive before such a decision was taken. These are the issues we are talking about.

“There is no way the security architecture of this country can work without a strong synergy between the executive and the legislature. When you see certain agencies which by their actions and utterances frustrate the relationship between the two arms, you begin to wonder. In a situation where a particular arm of government stands up and calls people from another arm of government thieves, looters and other names, how can we work together? How? It is not possible. It is not realistic. If we collaborate, the country will be better for it. Imagine, the federal government wants to raise a N4.6 trillion from the capital market. The leadership of the National Assembly first heard about it through a letter written by the president. This is what happens from time to time and yet, people keep blaming the legislature for being confrontational”, the Senate president further raved about.

Nigerians are justifiably frustrated with the representatives of the people, the National Assembly members, who sometimes collude with the executive to short-change the citizens and only cry foul when their interests are not taken care of. Nigerians are angry with the president for being aloof in the face of unmet expectations.

 

Saraki also spoke on the so-called budget delay, rather blaming this on the executive which unfortunately plans (and even tries to execute) without consideration of the National Assembly’s constitutional right of oversight and scrutiny. Saraki’s anger might not be misplaced after all, especially as the Presidency seems to have retraced its steps over the funds for the prosecution of the battle against Boko Haram and is now ready to channel its requests through the National Assembly. However, the Senate president only needs to reverse his role with those of other Nigerians, put himself in their shoes, visualise the situation of things, and he will see a groundswell of anger, frustration and disenchantment against all the lawmakers put together. Their grouse is not unconnected to both the National Assembly and Presidency’s nonchalance about their welfare and security. Citizens are angry at the level of opulence displayed by the president’s men. They hear about millions changing hands among Buhari’s kitchen cabinet, when they thought they had made the right decision through their choice of the opposition party led by the assumed incorrigible President Buhari in 2015.

Nigerians are justifiably frustrated with the representatives of the people, the National Assembly members, who sometimes collude with the executive to short-change the citizens and only cry foul when their interests are not taken care of. Nigerians are angry with the president for being aloof in the face of unmet expectations. Yes, the citizens are angry at the humongous amount in salaries, constituency and other allowances that lawmakers collect on behalf of their people without giving much in return. The citizens are even more frustrated when the two arms of government that should collaborate to advance the course of development are at loggerheads. Over what anyway?

Over the years, the leadership of the country has put politics before the people in our model of democracy. We politicise everything, including social services like health, education, road construction and security. Imagine a governor like Abdulaziz Yari, whose primary and secondary schools are in tatters (only 28 Zamfara children from public schools are said to have enrolled for Common Entrance out of over 70 million across the country), playing good politics at the centre as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and Governor Yahaya Bello and Senator Dino Melaye of Kogi state, who draw attention to their state for all the wrong reasons.

 

Our brand of democracy is failing; the citizens are frustrated because our government is not people-oriented. The Asian Tigers, like Singapore and Malaysia, put development and the people before politics in their model of democracy. Here it is politics, politics, politics and personal advancement of those who hold the levers of power.

Democracy works better only if the interest of the few persons in the corridors of power is subsumed under the interest of the entire citizenry. Executive-legislative harmony can only be guaranteed in an atmosphere of rule of law and adherence to the separation of powers as spelt out in the constitution, instead of the superior posturing of one over the other.

 

It is high time we began to prioritise the economic wellbeing of the people than focus on the face-off between one arm of government and another. Democracy works better only if the interest of the few persons in the corridors of power is subsumed under the interest of the entire citizenry. Executive-legislative harmony can only be guaranteed in an atmosphere of rule of law and adherence to the separation of powers as spelt out in the constitution, instead of the superior posturing of one over the other.

On the impasse over budget presentation recorded through the years, Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi, who was deputy chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior in the Seventh Senate, who also presented a paper on Improving Nigeria’s Budgetary Process through Executive-Legislature Cooperation suggested a new model of engagement in this direction, adding that cooperation at the planning stage and not at the stage of presentation of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) and the need to reintroduce development plans with clear objectives, outcomes and performance indicators in our budget planning process, as the way forward.

Clearly, the missing link in our endangered democracy, causing frustration all over the place is because the practitioners put the people last. The solution also lies in our leaders eschewing self-first, ego-tripping and grandstanding, while they should be more development- and people-oriented.

[email protected], www.zainabokino.blogspot.com

2018 Budget: Saraki Orders Appropriation Panel To Submit Report Next Week

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday ordered the Senate Appropriation Committee to submit its report on the 2018 budget next week.

He made the call before the upper chamber adjourned plenary in honour of late Senator Mustapha Bukar who died while the Senate was on Easter break.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 7, 2017 presented a 2018 budget of N8.612trillion to the National Assembly.

The Appropriation Bill has been at committee level in the two chambers since its presentation following allegation that some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) refused to defend their budgetary requests

Saraki asked the Appropriation Committee to tidy up reports from sub-committees latest by Friday this week for submission to the Senate next week.

He said: “The Chairman Appropriation should ensure that by Friday this week, collations of reports from various committees should end.

“There should be no more extension for that purpose because the appropriation committee itself must submit its report to the Senate unfailingly next week.”

Saraki Decries Offa Bank Robbery, Urges Suspects’ Arrest

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has described the coordinated bank robbery in Offa, Kwara State, which left several persons dead and injured as “a despicable act committed by cruel individuals.”

In a post on his Facebook page, Saraki said he and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed discussed the matter on Thursday and they both agreed that those who carried out the attacks must be found and prosecuted.

The Senate President said, “Yesterday’s savage attack on unsuspecting citizens and establishments in Offa Local Government Area, that led to significant loss of lives and injury, is a despicable act committed by cruel individuals.

“Make no mistake, there will never be any valid grounds or rationale behind such violence, that has left many families without their loved ones, and one more community in grief and shock.

“Last night, I spoke to Governor Ahmed to express my condolence over the lives that were lost in the attack, and we both agreed that no stone will be left unturned until the perpetrators of this heinous act are caught and brought to justice.

“It is also important that we all work together to ensure that this does not re-occur. We all must co-operate at various levels to increase the security of our communities.

“I pray that the souls of those that we lost yesterday are granted places amongst the righteous ones.

“My prayers and support will continue to be extended to all the affected families, and we will remain relentless until everyone who planned or carried out this attack faces the full wrath of the law.”