Direct Security Forces And The Nigerian Police To Respect The Fundamental Human Rights Of Nigerians- Falana Tells Buhari

Human Rights activist and lawyer, Femi Falana, yesterday called on President Buhari to direct security forces and the Nigerian police to respect the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.

Falana said this while speaking at the June 12 investiture yesterday. Falana said President Buhari should direct the police to respect Nigerians as a mark of honor on late Human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi who was honored at the event.

”I urge you Mr President, to direct all security forces in Nigeria and the police, in the spirit of June 12, to respect the fundamental rights of every Nigerian in this country” he said

A Bright Future for Nigeria: How To Get There, By Femi Falana

Introduction

I congratulate Kunle Ajibade on the occasion of his 60th birthday anniversary. He is lucky to be alive today because he had engaged in many risky ventures in the struggle for a better Nigeria. When Professor Wole Soyinka said about 30 years ago that his was a wasted generation, Kunle never believed that his own generation would also be wasted. But since Kunle is still alive and active, we urge him to team up with other patriots to arrest the imminent collapse of our country.

Through its highly reliable sources, TheNews magazine had confirmed in 1995 that the maximum ruler, General Sani Abacha wanted to be crowned as a civilian president. For exposing the plot to rope some retired and serving military officers into a phantom coup in a bid to eliminate any form of opposition, the brutal dictator ordered the arrest of the editors of the magazine. Even though he did not write the story that provoked the dictator, Kunle was the only editor in the office when the security forces invaded the premises of the magazine. He was arrested, detained, tried with three other colleagues, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. But he and others regained their freedom when the dictator was killed in a palace coup three-and-a-half years later. We are celebrating Kunle today because he survived the dehumanising prison conditions which claimed the precious lives of many other convicts.

Unabated Killings in Nigeria

In spite of repeated assurances of the federal government to ensure the security of life and property of every person living in Nigeria, it has been confirmed that not less than 1,400 unarmed civilians have been killed in Benue State by armed herdsmen and armed gangs between January and May 2018. The figures of casualties in Nasarawa and Zamfara States are said to be higher. Although the satanic Boko Haram sect is said to have been substantially defeated, it has continued to massacre scores of people through bomb attacks in schools, markets and mosques in the North-East region. In the same vein, armed bandits have embarked on the mass killing of people in some local governments in Kaduna and Zamfara States in the North-West region. Armed robbery and kidnapping are regular occurrences in all the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory.

Contrary to the misleading impression being created by the advocates of state police in the country, the Nigeria Police Force is not an agency of the president or the federal government. What has been established by Section 214 of the Constitution is the Nigeria Police Force: It is a police force which shall be organised and administered by the Nigeria Police Council. It is pertinent to note that the Nigeria Police Council is constituted by the president who shall be the chairman, the chairman of the Police Service Commission and the inspector-general of Police, as well as the 36 state governors. But for reasons best known to state governors, the president has always been allowed to hijack the Police Council. As a matter of urgency, the members of the Council should meet to agree on the funding, organisation and supervision of the Nigeria Police Force in conformity with Paragraph L, Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution.

I believe that a bright future is possible for Nigeria. But it can only be possible if the members of the political class are compelled to abandon the politics of money and manipulation of ethnicity and religion. Nigerian journalists like Kunle Ajibade and his colleagues should force all political aspirants to address serious issues during the forthcoming political campaign.

However, it is indisputable that the killings have continued unabated in the aforementioned states due to official negligence and impunity. Hence, the hundreds of murder suspects arrested by the police and the army have not been prosecuted by any of the state governments. I am sure that the criminal elements who murdered some citizens during the just concluded congresses of the All Progressives Congress will also be treated like sacred cows. Even my recent call on the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association to mount pressure on the attorneys-general in all the states of the federation to arraign the murder suspects in state high courts was ignored. Ours has been reduced to a banana republic where kidnappers, murderers, robbers and rapists are conferred with impunity and licensed to continue their criminal enterprise.

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Since the government has lost the monopoly of violence to criminal gangs and life has become totally cheap and unsafe in the country, it is high time that the National Assembly enacted a law to provide for compulsory military training or military service for citizens of Nigeria without any delay. And pending the enactment of the law, the governments of Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara States should request the president to maintain adequate facilities in some institutions for giving military training to citizens whose lives have become endangered. This call is in line with the provisions of section 220 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

With respect to the killing by herdsmen, the federal government knows the solution but has refused to embrace it. As far back as 2016, about 55,000 hectares of land were acquired in about 11 states for ranching. But instead of implementing the policy, the federal government has been toying with the backward idea of a cattle colony. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army, which has a ranch at Giri in the Federal Capital Territory, has offered to establish more ranches in other parts of the country. The offer of the Army has been ignored. The Kano State government, which has ranches and grazing zones, has also offered to accommodate all herdsmen who have been displaced in Benue and Taraba States. The offer has equally been treated with disdain without any justification. However, to put an end to the violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen, all relevant stakeholders should liaise with the Kano State government with a view to establishing a number of ranches.

A Bright Future for Nigeria

I believe that a bright future is possible for Nigeria. But it can only be possible if the members of the political class are compelled to abandon the politics of money and manipulation of ethnicity and religion. Nigerian journalists like Kunle Ajibade and his colleagues should force all political aspirants to address serious issues during the forthcoming political campaign. In particular, they must extract commitment from the political class to implement the fundamental objectives enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Constitution. Section 14 thereof provides that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. To actualise that political objective, it is stated in section 16 that the economy shall be planned and managed by the government to promote national prosperity and happiness.

…through the struggle of the oppressed people in Nigeria, the National Assembly has been compelled to enact welfare laws which shall be funded by the government. For instance, the Compulsory, Free and Basic Education Act and the Child’s Rights Act have made education free and compulsory from primary to junior secondary school.

Furthermore, it is stated that the government shall control the commanding height of the economy and ensure that the wealth of the nation shall not be concentrated in the hands of a few people or a group. It is illegal and unjust to lease oil blocks to a few people who are turned to multi-billionaires after subleasing them to foreign investors. Some of them have been honest to disclose publicly that they do not know what to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars made from the sublease of the oil blocks. Thus, by allowing a few people to collect rents from our national asset, the government has continued to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few people. Since it is illegal and unjust to enrich a few people at the expense of the Nigerian people, we hereby call on the federal government to stop awarding oil blocks to local and foreign investors. They should be leased to the federal and state governments in order to have money for development.

The Constitution has provided that the socio-economic rights of the people to education, health, housing, living minimum wage, pension, unemployment benefits are guaranteed, while the government shall provide for the aged and physically challenged citizens. Apart from the legal obligation imposed on political parties to comply with the fundamental objectives, it shall be the duty of all organs of government and of all authorities and persons exercising legislative, executive and judicial powers to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of the fundamental objectives. The socioeconomic rights of the Nigerian people have also been enshrined in the Africa Charter on Human and People’s Rights Act. Therefore, the justiciabiility of the fundamental objectives is longer in doubt.

Indeed, through the struggle of the oppressed people in Nigeria, the National Assembly has been compelled to enact welfare laws which shall be funded by the government. For instance, the Compulsory, Free and Basic Education Act and the Child’s Rights Act have made education free and compulsory from primary to junior secondary school. Parents and guardians who refuse to allow their children and wards to acquire education are liable to be prosecuted. To fund the programme, the federal government shall contribute two percent of its Consolidated Revenue Fund, while state governments shall provide counterpart fund. But due to the refusal of state government to access the fund, not less than N67 billion is lying fallow at the Central Bank, while Nigeria has about 11.5 million children of school age who are roaming the streets. Other welfare laws on housing, health insurance, pension, minimum wage, etc. are being breached with impunity. Yet if we insist and ensure that the welfare laws are enforced by the governments, there will no money left to be stolen by unpatriotic public officers.

Since the 2019 general elections are a few months away, it is not enough to urge Nigerian voters to register and collect their Permanent Voters Cards. They must be encouraged to know what to do with the PVCs. When politicians come around to ask for votes, every PVC owner must ask questions on the jumbo emoluments of public officers, unemployment, poverty, infrastructural decay, corruption and abuse of office, human rights violations etc. The harassment of law abiding citizens by the police and other security agencies should be discussed with political aspirants. The answers to the questions should be noted so that the elected ones can be confronted with all promises made by them. To assist voters to hold politicians accountable, the progressive extraction of the media must provide relevant information on public affairs.

Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), writes from Lagos.

This is the text of address delivered at the 60th birthday colloquium in honour of Kunle Ajibade held at Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos on May 30, 2018.

A Bright Future For Nigeria: How To Get There By Femi Falana

Address delivered by Femi Falana SAN at the 60th birthday colloquium in honour of Kunle Ajibade held at Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos on May 30, 2018.

Introduction

I congratulate Kunle Ajibade on the occasion of his 60th birthday anniversary. He is lucky to be alive today because he had engaged in many risky ventures in the struggle for a better Nigeria. When Professor Wole Soyinka said about 30 years ago that his was a wasted generation Kunle never believed that his own generation would also be wasted. But since Kunle is still alive and active we urge him to team up with other patriots to arrest the imminent collapse of our country.

Through its highly reliable sources The News magazine had confirmed in 1995 that the maximum ruler, General Sani Abacha wanted to be crowned as a civilian president. For exposing the plot to rope some retired and serving military officers into a phantom coup in a bid to eliminate any form of opposition the brutal dictator ordered the arrest of the editors of the magazine. Even though did not write the story that provoked the dictator Kunle was the only editor in the office when the security forces invaded the premises of the magazine. He was arrested, detained, tried with three other colleagues, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. But he and others regained their freedom when the dictator was killed in a palace coup three and a half years later. We are celebrating Kunle today because he survived the dehumanizing prison conditions which claimed the precious lives of many other convicts.

Unabated Killings in Nigeria

In spite of repeated assurances of the federal government to ensure the security of life and property of every person living in Nigeria it has been confirmed that not less than 1,400 unarmed civilians have been killed in Benue state by armed herdsmen and armed gangs between January and May, 2018. The figures of casualties in Nasarawa and Zamfara states are said to be higher. Although the satanic Boko Haram sect is said to have been substantially defeated it has continued to massacre scores of people through bomb attacks in schools, markets and mosques in the north east region. In the same vein, armed bandits have embarked on mass killing of people in some local governments in Kaduna and Zamfara states in the north west region. Armed robbery and kidnapping are regular occurrences in all the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory.

Contrary to the misleading impression being created by the advocates of state police in the country the Nigeria Police Force is not an agency of the President or the federal government. What has been established by Section 214 of the Constitution is the Nigeria Police Force. It is a police force which shall be organized and administered by the Nigeria Police Council. It is pertinent to note that the Nigeria Police Council is constituted by the President who shall be the Chairman, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission and the Inspector-General of Police as well as the 36 state governors. But for reasons best known to state governors, the President has always been allowed to hijack Police Council. As a matter of urgency the members of the Council should meet to agree on the funding, organization and supervision of the Nigeria Police Force in conformity with Paragraph L, Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution.

However, it , it is indisputable that the killings have continued unabated in the aforementioned states due to official negligence and impunity. Hence, the hundreds of murder suspects arrested by the police and the army have not been prosecuted by any of the state governments. I am sure that the criminal elements who murdered some citizens during the just concluded congresses of the All Progressive Congress will also be treated like sacred cows. Even my recent call on the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association to mount pressure on the Attorneys-General in all the states of the federation to arraign the murder suspects in state high courts was ignored. Ours has been reduced to a banana republic where kidnappers, murderers, robbers and rapists are conferred with impunity and licensed to continue their criminal enterprise.

Since the Government has lost monopoly of violence to criminal gangs and life has become totally cheap and unsafe in the country it is high time that the National Assembly enacted a law to provide for compulsory military training or military service for citizens of Nigeria without any delay. And pending the enactment of the law the governments of Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states should request the President to maintain adequate facilities in some institutions for giving military training to citizens whose lives have become endangered. This call is in line with the provisions of section 220 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

With respect to the killing by herdsmen the federal government knows the solution but has refused to embrace it. As far back as 2016, about 55,000 hectares of land were acquired in about 11 states for ranching. But instead of implementing the policy the federal government has been toying with the backward idea of cattle colony. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army which has a ranch at Giri in the federal capital territory has offered to establish more ranches in other parts of the country. The offer of the Army has been ignored. The Kano state government which has ranches and grazing zones has also offered to accommodate all herdsmen who have been displaced in Benue and Taraba states. The offer has equally been treated with disdain without any justification. However, to put an end to the violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen all relevant stakeholders should liaise with the Kano state government with a view to establishing a number of ranches.

A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR NIGERIA

I believe that a bright future is possible for Nigeria. But it can only be possible if the members of the political class are compelled to abandon politics of money and the manipulation of ethnicity and religion. Nigerian journalists like Kunle Ajibade and his colleagues should force all political aspirants to address serious issues during the forthcoming political campaign. In particular, they must extract commitment from the political class to implement the fundamental objectives enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Constitution. Section 14 thereof provides that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. To actualize that political objective it is stated in section 16 that the economy shall be planned and managed by the government to promote national prosperity and happiness.

Furthermore, it is stated that the government shall control the commanding height of the economy and ensure that the wealth of the nation shall not be concentrated in the hands of a few people or a group. It is illegal and unjust to lease oil blocks to a few people who are turned to multi billionaires after subleasing them to foreign investors. Some of them have been honest to disclose publicly that they do not know what to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars made from the sublease of the oil blocks Thus, by allowing a few people to collect rents from our national assets the government has continued to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few people. Since it is illegal and unjust to enrich a few people at the expense of the Nigerian people we hereby call on the federal government to stop awarding oil blocks to local and foreign investors. They should be leased to the federal and state governments in order to have money for development.

The Constitution has provided that the socio-economic rights of the people to education, health, housing, living minimum wage, pension, unemployment benefits are guaranteed while the government shall provide for the aged and physically challenged citizens. Apart from the legal obligation imposed on political parties to comply with the fundamental objectives, it shall be the duty of all organs of government and of all authorities and persons exercising legislative, executive and judicial powers to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of the fundamental objectives. The socioeconomic rights of the Nigerian people have also been enshrined in the Africa Charter on Human and People’s Rights Act. Therefore, the justiciabiility of the fundamental objectives is longer in doubt.

Indeed, through the struggle of the oppressed people in Nigeria the National Assembly has been compelled to enact welfare laws which shall be funded by the Government. For instance, the Compulsory, Free and Basic Education Act and the Child’s Rights Act have made education free and compulsory from primary to junior secondary school. Parents and guardians who refuse to allow their children and wards to acquire education are liable to be prosecuted. To fund the programme the federal government shall contribute 2% of its Consolidated Revenue Fund while state governments shall provide counterpart fund. But due to the refusal of state government to access the fund not less than N67 billion is lying fallow at the Central Bank while Nigeria has about 11.5 million children of school age who are roaming the streets. Other welfare laws on housing, health insurance, pension, minimum wage etc are being breached with impunity. Yet if we insist and ensure that the welfare laws are enforced by the governments there will no money left to be stolen by unpatriotic public officers.

Since the 2019 general elections are a few months away it is not enough to urge Nigerian voters to register and collect their Permanent Voters Cards. They must be encouraged to know what to do with the PVCs. When politicians come around to ask for votes every PVC owner must ask questions on the jumbo emoluments of public officers, unemployment, poverty, infrastructural decay, corruption and abuse of office, human rights violations etc. The harassment of law abiding citizens by the police and other security agencies should be discussed with political aspirants. The answers to the questions should be noted so that the elected ones can be confronted with all promises made by them. To assist voters to hold politicians accountable the progressive extraction of the media must provide relevant information on public affairs.

Femi Falana Urges Buhari To Stop Huge Allowances Of Senators

Following Senator Shehu Sani’s revelation last week that each senator was given the amount of N13.1 million monthly apart from their N750,000 monthly salary, human rights activist Femi Falana has voiced out.

Falana released a statement to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to stop the flamboyant salaries and allowances of Nigerian Senators and public office holders.

The statement read “according to the Senator (Shehu Sani), the running cost of each Senator is N13.1 million in addition to a consolidated salary of N750,000 per month. Apart from the monthly package of N13.8 million, each Senator is given the opportunity to execute constituency projects to the tune of N200 million per annum.

“However, the disclosure made by Senator Sani does not cover the allowances for cars, housing, wardrobe, furniture etc running to several millions of Naira approved for each Senator.

“The revelations by Senator Sani should therefore provide an opportunity for the Nigerian people to review the entire costs of governance under the rickety democratic dispensation.

“The Buhari administration owes the nation a duty to ensure that no political officer is paid salaries and allowances that have not been approved by the Revenue Mobilization. Allocation Fiscal Commission.

“The members of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission empowered by section section 70 of the Constitution to approve the salaries and allowances of the legislators have always washed off their hands like Pontius Pilate while the Budget Office has never questioned the payment of unauthorised salaries and allowances to federal legislators.”

The activist lawyer recalled that last year, the legislators also illegally purchased exotic cars of N4.7 billion for themselves at a time when workers were owed arrears of salaries and the masses were groaning under recession.

“While we commend Senator Shehu Sani for exposing the secrecy which had enveloped the salaries and allowances of federal legislators in Nigeria before now, it is crystal clear that the statement credited to Professor Itse Sagay, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council not too long ago to the effect that Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world cannot be faulted.

“However, the federal legislators cannot be blamed alone for paying themselves skyrocketing salaries and allowances outside the ambit of the wages approved for all political office holders in the country,” he added.

Third Force Should Be Of Working Class People, Not Politicians – Falana

Femi Falana, Human right activist and constitutional lawyer, has thrown his weight behind the third force movement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo known as Coalition for Nigeria (CN).

The constitutional lawyer said the third force by Obasanjo should be a party of the working class that would protect the interest of Nigerians.

Speaking at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), in Abuja, yesterday, Falana while revealing that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovered N750 billion loots in two years, tasked the NLC to monitor the usage of the money by the Federal Government.

According to Falana, “The solution is for us to reorganise the Labour Party so that it will not be a dumping ground for the disgruntled elements of the ruling class.

“This is because General Obasanjo said neither APC (All Progressives Congress) or the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) has a solution to the country’s problems.

“Therefore, there is a need for a Third Force.

“That Third Force must not be by the disgruntled people, but of the Nigerian working people.

“The NLC has a role to play to protect the interest of the Nigerian people.

“That is why whenever there is a problem in the country, people will be asking where is NLC.

“If you say you are fighting corruption, we have nothing to lose but to join them to expose themselves.

“The EFCC in the last two and half years recovered N750 billion.

“NLC must find out what will they do with the money.

“I told government publicly that what they are doing by saying they are fighting corruption is a tip of the iceberg, the real corruption is not being fought.

“I wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance and I itemised how this country can recover about $200 billion and therefore they don’t need to go anywhere to borrow money, but what the Minister did was to write me back to acknowledge receiving the letter and that it is receiving attention.

“And up till now, that letter is receiving attention.

“In 2006, the then CBN Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, gave $7 billion to 14 banks and those banks have not paid back the money.

“Also in 2008, the CBN governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido, gave to six banks N600 billion and up till now, the money has not been returned.

“You cannot say we are broke, pay back this money.

“You also remember the N100 million that was released for the revive of the textile industry, but still these textile companies are still moribund. Where is the money?

“Also in the last 10 years, over N400 billion was released for agriculture, but yet we are hungry.”

Femi Falana Reacts To Obasanjo’s Letter

Successful Human rights Lawyer, Femi Falana has reacted to ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo’s lengthy letter to President Buhari on Tuesday.

Falana believes that Obasanjo, in his 13-page statement was truly a call to the President to bury any plans of recontesting.

He said:

“President Olusegun Obasanjo’s intervention is a vivid expression of the frustration of the Nigerian people with the Buhari administration.

The statement is a clarion call on President Buhari to remove the incompetent and corrupt cabal of power mongers that has hijacked political power from him.

Through sheer nepotism and cronyism, the regime has lost the massive goodwill that heralded it to power.

The success recorded in the fight against insurgency in the northeast zone has been eroded in the wave of kidnapping and reckless killing of unarmed Nigerians by AK47-bearing herdsmen.The success of the fight against corruption and impunity has been rubbished by the inability of the regime to remove corrupt public officers.

President Obasanjo’s challenge has been taken up by many Nigerians who have already formed a coalition of genuine progressive forces to liberate Nigeria from internal colonialism and imperialist control.”

 

EFCC Advises Fayose To Face Task Of Governing Ekiti And Stop Baseless Accusations

Following the accusation of the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose saying the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had given Femi Falana properties from the recovered pension funds, the commission has released a statement to address the accusation.

Read the full statement below;

‘The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) takes exception to the attempt by the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, to impugn the integrity of its Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, over the management of assets recovered from pension fraud suspects. The governor, who addressed the media today in Ado Ekiti, was quoted as saying that respected Lagos lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, “was one of many highly placed Nigerians who allegedly were compensated by the EFCC and Ibrahim Magu with properties retrieved from corrupt government officials.’

‘This is the most irresponsible allegation, coming from a governor of a state. Will Fayose, in good conscience be able to name the “prominent Nigerians’, that the EFCC and Magu supposedly ‘dashed seized properties to curry their favors’?

‘The EFCC does not need to ingratiate discerning Nigerians to win their support. The Commission’s record and the uncommon commitment of Magu to the fight against corruption is the reason why patriots like Falana would openly identify with the Commission’.

‘Magu and the EFCC did not give out any property, being suspected proceeds of crime, to anybody. The Commission never received any property from Abdulrasheed Maina and could not be compensating people for what does not exist. If Fayose has evidence to the contrary, he is at liberty to call another world press conference to expose all the prominent Nigerians’.

‘Otherwise, he should face the task of governing Ekiti and the challenge of accounting for his stewardship as his tenure hits the homestretch’.

NNPC Operates Outside The Law! By Femi Falana

In his defence of the allegations of unilateral award of $25 billion contracts and sole management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the exclusion of the Board and the Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the NNPC GMD, Dr. Maikanti Baru has categorically stated that he has the power to award contracts without any reference to the NNPC Board. He also pointed out Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources had equally awarded contracts without the approval of the Board when he was the NNPC GMD. As far as Dr. Baru is concerned the NNPC Tenders Board is competent to award contracts in line with the NNPC Handbook.

For reasons best known to him, Dr. Baru did not deem it fit to respond to the unilateral appointments of key staff in the NNPC without the approval of the Board of Directors. Since this particular allegation was not denied it is reasonable to conclude that it is admitted by the NNPC management even though the appointments in question were made in utter violation of the Federal Character Commission Act. It is however germane to review the matter within the ambit of the law notwithstanding the report that the presidency has thrown its weight behind the NNPC GMD in the face off with the Minster of State in the Petroleum Ministry. But for the national issues involved in the ongoing imbroglio one would have wanted to say that it serves Dr. Kachukwu well. After all, sometime in 2015, I had requested for information on the huge fund collected from the NLNG but which was not transmitted to the Federation Account. I was flabbergasted when Dr, Kachukwu who was then the GMD refused to accede to my request made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that the NNPC is not a public institution!

However, the defence of Dr. Baru has failed to take cognizance of the provision of section 6 (c) of the NNPC Act which has vested the Board of the NNPC with the exclusive power to “enter into contracts or partnerships with any company, firm or person which in the opinion of the Corporation will facilitate the discharge of the said duties under this Act.” For the avoidance of doubt, section 1 (2) of the NNPC Act states that the affairs of the Corporation shall be conducted by the Board of Directors of the Corporation. Since it is conceded by Dr. Baru that some contracts are subject to the approval of either the Board or the Federal Executive Council he is yet to inform the Nigerian people who approved the $25 billion contracts.

It is pertinent to state, without any fear of contradiction, that by virtue of section 3 of the NNPC Act the GMD as the chief executive of the Corporation shall be responsible for the execution of the policy of the Corporation and the day to day running of the Corporation’s activities and its associated services. But contrary to the erroneous impression conveyed by the management of the NNPC there is no conflict whatsoever between the provisions of the NNPC Act and the Public Procurement Act, 2007 to justify the usurpation of the powers of the NNPC Board by the Tenders Board of the NNPC headed by the GMD. Therefore, the unilateral award of multi-billion dollar contracts in the NNPC by Dr. Baru or the Tenders Board is illegal, null and void in every material particular.

With respect, the totality of Dr. Baru’s defence was anchored on the mistaken belief that the NNPC Act does not require him to report to the Minister of State but to President Buhari in his capacity as the Minister of Petroleum Resources. Dr. Baru must have forgotten that upon the removal of Dr. Kachukwu as the NNPC GMD in 2016 the President appointed him as the Chairman of the reconstituted Board of the NNPC in line with section 3 of the NNPC Act. Therefore, the decision of Dr. Baru to bypass the Chairman of the Board in the award of the contracts and appointment of NNPC staff cannot be justified either under the NNPC Act. Since Dr. Kachukwu was not removed as the Chairman of the Board the President ought not to have encouraged Dr. Baru to treat him and with such pompous disdain and arrogance.

In saying that he followed due process in the award of the $25 billion contracts Dr. Baru gave the highly misleading impression that once the President was briefed with respect to the award of the contracts due process was observed in line with the PPA. With respect, such position is neither backed by the NNPC Act nor the PPA. But as far as the PPA is concerned, the competent authorities that have the final say in the award of contracts and disposal of public assets under the current political dispensation are the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and National Council of Public Procurement (NCPP). The NCPP is not chaired by the President but by the Minister of Finance. The other members of the NCPP include some officials of the federal government and representatives of relevant professional bodies and civil society organizations.

Apart from constituting the NCPP and the BPP the President has not been empowered to approve any contract whatsoever. In fact, there is no reference whatsoever to the Federal Executive Council in the entirety of 61 sections of the PPA. To that extent, the FEC presided over by the President cannot approve the award of contracts which is the exclusive duty of the NCPP and BPP. Although the PPA was enacted in 2007 the President or the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has been approving multi-billion dollar or naira contracts, albeit illegally. Such illegality was perpetrated by the Yaradua and Jonathan regimes. Even the Buhari administration which has loudly undertaken to fight corruption has ignored calls from many civil society organizations to set up the NCPP.

Since neither the President nor the Federal Executive Council is competent to approve the award of contracts under the PPA the claim of the NNPC GMD that the controversial contracts were approved by the President cannot be justified under the PPA. To avoid a situation whereby the $25 billion contracts and others being awarded by the Buhari administration are annulled and set aside on the grounds that they were awarded by either the President or the FEC without any legal authority I hereby call on President Buhari to constitute the NCPP without any further delay. If this call is ignored, once again, the civil society anti corruption bodies ought to approach the Federal High Court for a writ of mandamus to compel the President to inaugurate the NCPP.

Apart from breaching the NNPC Act and PPA the NNPC has conveniently ignored the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act. Hence it has refused to comply with the directive of the NEITI to remit $21.7 billion and N376 billion illegally withheld from the Federation Account. Even though Dr. Kachukwu recently disclosed that the nation had lost $60 billion due the NNPC has refused to recover same by implementing the provisions of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act. And instead of directing the NNPC to recover and remit the the huge fund to the Federation Account the Federal Government is busy piling up external loans. It is also worthy to note that the NNPC does not subject its budgets to the National Assembly for appropriation as stipulated by the Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Shortly before proceeding on its annual vacation the Senate disclosed that the NNPC and 33 other agencies of the federal government had failed to submit their 2017 budget to the National Assembly. Characteristically, the NNPC management ignored the disclosure knowing that the Senate would not pursue the matter.

Finally, Dr. Kachukwu owes it a duty to react to the allegation of the management of the NNPC that as NNPC GMD he too had engaged in the unilateral award of multi -billion dollar contracts. Even if the allegation is true it cannot justify the reckless impunity that has characterized the management of the affairs of the NNPC since 1999. No doubt, the allegations and counter-allegations of Dr. Kachukwu and Dr. Baru over contract awards have reinforced my call on President Mohammadu Buhari to relinquish the post of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and appoint a full-fledged Minister to run and coordinate the affairs on the oil and gas industry in strict compliance with the law. Furthermore, the NNPC Board should be reconstituted because it is currently constituted by 9 members instead of the 6 persons provided for by section 1(2) of the NNPC Act.

Electoral Justice in Nigeria, Kenya

By Femi Falana

Both Nigeria and Kenya have been battling with electoral malpractice and political violence for over a decade. The 2007 general election in Nigeria was truly a “do or die” affair as declared by President Olusegun Obasanjo. Hundreds of people were killed by security forces for protesting the brazing manipulation of the results of the general elections. The Ahmed Lemu presidential panel set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to probe the mayhem that greeted the announcement of the result of the 2011 presidential election found that 943 people were killed while 838 others were injured. While the Federal Government paid over N10 billion as reparation to the victims of the riots, it failed to prosecute the 626 who were arrested in connection with arson, culpable homicide and other grave offences perpetrated due to official impunity.

In 2008, the brutal killing of over 1000 people in Kenya over post election violence led to the setting up of a panel of inquiry headed by Mr. Kofi Anan, a former Secretary-General of the United Nations. Based on the report of the inquiry Messrs Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were charged with crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly masterminding the politically motivated killings. Notwithstanding the election of both suspects as President and Vice President of Kenya respectively in the 2013 general elections the cases continued and were eventually struck out due to want of diligent prosecution.

Many Nigerian commentators have commended the Supreme Court of Kenya for the revolutionary decision to annul a presidential election. Not unexpectedly, such critics have censored the Nigerian judiciary for invoking the nebulous doctrines of substantial compliance to uphold the results of fraudulent elections. Some lawyers have gone to the extent of blaming Nigerian judges for the undue delay in the hearing of election petitions. With respect, the comparison of the decisions of the Supreme Courts of Nigeria and Kenya on election petition is rather odious. Hence it has become necessary to review recent developments in the electoral jurisprudence of both countries.

Fidelity to the Kenyan Constitution

Based on gross irregularities and violence which had marred the 2007 general elections which led to political violence in Kenya the members of the political class decided to use the instrumentality of the law to sanitize the political system. Thus, in 2010, Kenya decided to enact a new Constitution through a popular and democratic process. At the end of the day, the Kenyan people produced one of the best constitutions in Africa. To prevent a delay in the hearing of election petitions section 140 of the Constitution stipulates that presidential election petitions shall be heard and determined within 14 days. It is pertinent to recall that the Supreme Court of Kenya had dismissed the petition filed by Mr. Raila Odinga against the 2013 presidential election won by President Uhuru Kenyatta on the ground that it was conducted in accordance with the Electoral Act. See Raila Odinga & 2 others v Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission & 3 others [2013] EKLR.

That decision was largely influenced by Nigerian cases, which were relied upon by the Court. But the Kenyan parliament decided to review the electoral system by enacting the Electoral Act 2016 to provide for electronic voting and the appointment of the chairman and members of the Independent Election and Boundary Commission through an interview conducted by a selection board as well as the Offences Act 2016 to provide for electoral offences and penalties. It was on the basis of such progressive review of the relevant laws that the Supreme Court had no difficulty in upholding the petition of Raila Odinga against the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta which held in Kenya on August 8, 2017. See Petition 1 of 2017.

Although the petition was filed on August 18, 2017 the Supreme Court delivered its judgment two weeks later. That was made possible with the aid of technology. The Court allowed a live coverage of the proceedings by the media. Instead of spending precious time on calling hundreds of witnesses to give oral evidence or adopt written depositions and be cross examined by opposing lawyers the electoral body was ordered by the Court to produce the uploaded results of the election. The registrar of the court was directed to collect the results and other election materials from the IEBC for examination by the parties and the court. In the historic judgment the court validated electronic voting. However, the court found that the massive irregularities in the transmission of election results had compromised the integrity of the election.

In annulling the results of the presidential election the Supreme Court held that the IEBC had “failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution.” Although the “reasoned and considered judgment” would be made available not later than 21 days the summary has confirmed the unqualified commitment of the court to the rule of law. Before the judgment was delivered, Chief Justice Maraga had rightly set the tone for the business of the day when he noted “the greatness of any nation depends on its fidelity to its Constitution and adherence to the rule of law and above all respect to God.”

Since it is the first time that any court has annulled the result of a presidential election in Africa the judgment has far-reaching implications for democracy and rule of law in the continent. Although the details of the judgment have not been provided, the summary of the findings and orders made by the Court have sufficiently confirmed the independence of the judiciary of Kenya. It is particularly significant to note that the Court rebuffed pressures from local and foreign economic interest groups who had wanted a judicial endorsement of the malfeasance, which marred the presidential election.

While reacting to the judgment, the petitioner, Mr. Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) said that it “marked a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa.” He faulted international election observers who had attempted, in their reports, to legitimise the electoral fraud by saying that the election was credible, fair and free. One of the election monitoring groups, the Jimmy Carter centre led by former United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry was particularly patronizing in its endorsement of the results of the election. While asking Mr. Odinga to move on and stop protesting the election results Mr. Kerry said the election was fair and free.

The election observers of the Commonwealth and African Union equally claimed that the election was credible and that its results should not be challenged. But the judgment of the Supreme Court has questioned the credibility of the choreographed sanitisation of the fraudulent election results by the so-called representatives of the international community. Not a few interest groups called Mr. Odinga a bad loser for approaching the Supreme Court for legal redress. But it turned out that the filing of the petition doused tension in the country as angry protests had led to the killing of not fewer than 24 people by security forces.

Electoral Injustice in Nigeria

Although the petition against his election was dismissed by the Supreme Court, President Umaru Yar’Adua said that the election was fraudulent and proceeded to set up the Mohammed Uwais-led panel to probe the conduct of the election and make appropriate recommendations. The panel recommended inter alia that appointment of the chairman and members of INEC should be by advertisement, setting up of electoral offences tribunal and conclusion of all petitions before the inauguration of elected governments. The Ahmed Lemu presidential panel set up by President Jonathan in 2011 made additional recommendations to guarantee credible elections. But the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress have refused to implement the recommendations of both panels.

However, amendments were made to the Constitution in 2010 and 2011 while a new Electoral Act was enacted in 2010 by the National Assembly. The Electoral Act has been subjected to many amendments. Pursuant to section 52 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2015 the effect that “voting at an election shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Independent National Electoral Commission” INEC introduced the use of card readers for accreditation of voters. In spite of the opposition of the then ruling party, (the Peoples Democratic Party) the Attahiru Jega-led INEC conducted the 2015 General Elections with the aid of card readers. Manual accreditation of voters was however allowed if the card reader machine malfunctioned.

Accordingly, many tribunal and judicial divisions of the Court of Appeal nullified elections where voters deliberately ignored the use of card readers for accreditation. Curiously, the Supreme Court set aside the annulment of some governorship elections on the ground that INEC acted illegally by introducing the use of the card reader. In a critique of such judgments, I was compelled to challenge the apex court for not making any reference to the relevant provision of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2015 which had empowered INEC to determine the procedure of voting at an election. (Seehttp://www.thisdaylive.com /index.php /2016/04/05/the-legality-of-card-reader)

But it is pertinent to point out that while election petition tribunals and the Court of Appeal have not hesitated to quash the results of elections conducted in contravention of the Electoral Act, the Supreme Court has consistently upheld the results of controversial presidential elections since 1979. While conceding that such elections were not properly conducted the court has always validated them by relying on the doctrines of substantial compliance with the enabling law or failure of election petitioners to prove allegations of electoral fraud beyond reasonable doubt. At the Commonwealth Lawyers Conference held in Lagos in 1981, the late Graham Douglas, SAN, who was the nation’s Attorney-General during the 1979 general election revealed that the Supreme Court had no choice but to dismiss the case of Awolowo v Shagari (1979) 6-9 S.C 37 as the Obasanjo military regime had concluded the handing over of power to the President-elect, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.

But since 1999, election petitions have always been determined a year or two after a general election. Thus, at the time the judgment in an election petition is delivered, the elected President would have had the first budget passed, represented the country in international fora and announced major decisions which may include the approval of the appointments of federal judges and performed other presidential functions. Therefore, election petitions, which are determined in the middle of the term of sitting Presidents, are usually thrown out on grounds of public policy. Indeed, if the election petition is upheld and the result is annulled on grounds of electoral malpractice the apex court is likely to be accused of deliberately promoting political instability in the country!

Unlike the Kenyan Constitution, which provides that election petitions shall be determined within 14 days, section 285 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended provides for 180 days for the trial of petitions at the election petition tribunals and 120 days at the appellate courts. Whereas presidential and legislative election petitions are determined by two courts those arising from governorship elections alone are determined by three courts. Pre-election matters have no time limit. Hence, over two years after the 2015 general elections some pre-election matters are still pending in the appellate courts!

Although high court judges are competent to hear pre-election matters filed in the courts manned by them, they are disqualified from hearing election petitions filed in the same courts on the ground that they could be influenced by local political interest groups. Therefore they are posted to other states for 180 days in an election year while other cases being handled by such judges are adjourned sine die. The Electoral Act favours elected persons whose returns are being challenged in court. Having taken oaths of office the respondents usually frustrate expeditious determination of election petitions. The respondents also collude with INEC to make it impossible for petitioners to prove electoral malpractice as they are denied access to election materials. In the circumstance, they are compelled to apply to election petition tribunals for permission to inspect election materials. Other dilatory tactics designed to prolong the hearing of election petitions are employed by the respondents’ lawyers.

 

The Road to Electoral Justice

From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly clear that the Supreme Court of Kenya has freed itself from the dangerous influence of Nigerian courts by jettisoning the doctrines of substantial compliance and proof of election petitions beyond reasonable doubt. In line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2016 it has also embraced technology to facilitate the hearing and determination of election petitions within 14 days. Instead of blaming Nigerian judges for our out-dated and unjust electoral justice system, the National Assembly should be prevailed upon to take advantage of the on-going review of the Constitution and the Electoral Act to make provisions for electronic voting, speedy determination of election petitions, appointment of electoral umpires through advertisement in the media, prosecution of electoral offenders and live coverage of the hearing of election petitions by the media.

Source: Thisday

EDITORIAL: Democracy, Licentiousness And Free Speech

The legal luminary and activist Femi Falana (SAN), has correctly pointed out that there are enough laws in the statute books to confront hate speeches and utterances which are clearly constructed to promote discord amongst ethnic and religious groups as well as cause disaffection within the Republic. It is therefore superfluous in the views of many people that the federal government now sees a need to, tighten the screws by putting more laws on the statute books to curtail the promoters of hate speeches.

From our perspective, it might be superfluous, nevertheless, in view of what is in reality a very calculated promotion of hate speeches often to achieve a political advantage which the government must respond.

A key problem here is the very interpretation of the concept of free speech for mostly self-serving reasons by members of the contending political factions. Free speech is a clearly guaranteed component of a democracy. We, however, make bold to point out, that this does not equate with licentiousness. For a democracy to survive there must be clearly enforceable laws against sedition, treason and using the communication media to foment discord which could end up undermining the state and destroying our hard-earned democracy.

We are aware for example, as to how the use of demagoguery and hate speeches propelled the Nazi party led by Adolf Hitler to victory in Germany in 1938. The end result was that 60 million people ended up dead as a result of an avoidable war instigated by the Nazis and their allies. Countries in Europe and elsewhere sensibly responded by saying NEVER AGAIN!!

They enforced this position by passing stringent anti-defamation laws with strong penalties to deter those who use speeches and imagery to target groups. This has had salutary effects. Till date in Germany, it is illegal to wear insignia depicting support for the Nazi party. This in no way tramples on free speeches but guarantees it. Groups must be protected in a democratic setting and the state has a moral duty and political obligation to move against those who wish to undermine it by sowing discord. In contemporary terms, the sad example of the misuse of Radio Rwanda should serve as a warning to those who equate licentiousness with democracy. Within a week 800,000 innocent souls were laid to waste as a result of the inability or unwillingness of the state to regulate the broadcasting station.

Regulation is key. It has to be stated here, that self-regulation is not working assiduously as it should. Everyone in the formal and the informal media must realise that they have a duty to modulate extreme views in order to preserve their own freedom to operate. Let no one be in doubt, the proponents of hate speeches have an authoritarian disposition which is irreconcilable with the ethos of democracy. Once they have achieved their aim, out goes any pretence of democracy. This is a vital and recurring decimal in contemporary history. We must be forewarned. For It is the inadequacy of self-regulation that has led to the development of this toxic atmosphere in the first place.