NASS To Visit Plateau Over Killings – Dogara

The National Assembly said it was planning to pay a condolence visit to Plateau State.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said this in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he and the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.

Dogara did not give the details of the meeting, however.

Persons suspected to be Fulani herdsmen had sacked 11 villages in Plateau State over the weekend, with death toll put officially at 86 by security agents.

 

He said, “We met with the President to, first of all, commiserate with him and get a briefing from him.

“As part of the briefing, he explained how steps were being taken to forestall reoccurrence and restore sanity, because this is a great concern to him and to us also.

“We will see what can be done with NEMA and security agencies. We will all work towards it. Nobody is happy with it and we will all come together to ensure that we restore sanity.

“We commiserate with all families. It is our own intention to also go and pay our own condolence visit to the people of Plateau.”

Dogara advised Nigerians to learn how to live in peace, saying it is the only way communities can be secure.

“My advice to our people — not just Plateau State, Benue, Zamfara, Taraba — virtually all communities faced with this situation, especially in the North, I think the issue of securing our communities, living in peace must be taken as a project.

“It is something each and every one of us must invest in, whether as traditional rulers, as community leaders, councillors, chairmen, all strata of society must invest in peace building.

“That is the only way we can live in a secure community and ensure that we progress as a country,” he said.

Saraki also said that the President briefed them on the steps being taken to restore peace to troubled spots.

“Our general appeal at the end of the day is that we all live together in peace and harmony and we will continue to do our best to see that this kind of thing does not happen again,” Saraki said.

SERAP Berates NASS For Infiltrating 2018 Budget

A civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights, and Accountability Project, says the National Assembly violated the fundamental rights of Nigerians by cutting the proposed allocations for essential public services, including health, education, housing and security, to the tune of N19.15bn in the 2018 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

SERAP, in a statement on Thursday by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, said the action of the federal lawmakers qualified as crime against humanity and should as such be referred to the International Criminal Court.

The group expressed dismay that the federal lawmakers “padded” the 2018 budget to the tune of N578bn by inserting 6,403 projects of their own, barely a month after the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered that the principal officers of the National Assembly that allegedly padded the 2016 budget to the tune of N481bn should be prosecuted.

SERAP urged Buhari to not only instruct the Attorney General of the Federation to refer the 2018 budget cut to the ICC, but to also comply with the judgment of Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos, who ordered that all the lawmakers culpable in the padding of the 2016 budget should be prosecuted.

The group said it believed that it was the failure to decisively address the padding of the 2016 budget that emboldened the lawmakers to do the same with the 2018 budget.

SERAP said, “The deliberate and systematic acts of alleged budget padding and cutting of funding by the lawmakers coupled with the widespread negative consequences of such acts for millions of Nigerians across the country point to not only allegations of corruption but also crimes against humanity, that is, deliberately withholding access of Nigerians to essential and life-saving public services, which is triable at the International Criminal Court.

“Apart from pursuing a possible crime against humanity prosecution before the ICC, President Buhari should also move swiftly to enforce the judgment delivered last month by Justice Mohammed Idris in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1821/2017, ordering the President to ask anti-corruption agencies to forward to him reports of their investigations into allegations of padding and stealing of some N481 billion from the 2016 budget, and to ensure effort prosecution of suspects.

“It is the failure to decisively address allegations of padding of the 2016 budget that has allowed the practice to continue with almost absolute impunity.

“Combating impunity of lawmakers for allegations of budget padding is important for ending the practice and deterring future lawmakers from using their legislative functions as a weapon for promoting personal gains and denying Nigerians access to critical and life-saving public services.”‎

National Assembly And Its Passion For Unromantic Insertions By Fredrick Nwabufo

Insertion! This word entered my offender’s register in 2016. At the time, Abdulmumin Jibrin, former chairman, house committee on appropriations, was a caterwauler; he cried out, alleging that the leadership of the house of representatives was involved in impassioned “insertions”.

Jibrin claimed that four principal officers of the house, including Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the lower legislative chamber, were inserting personal projects into the 2016 budget. He said the insertions were brazen, illegal and wanton.

He wailed so loudly at the time, giving inveterate wailers a run for their money.

I remember Jibrin went on Channels TV in the heat of the controversy to establish his claim. And I think I saw him use his index finger to describe the “insertions”.

He sent a petition to the EFCC and the DSS asking them to investigate his claim and those he tagged the “corrupt quartet”.

But he was a lone prosecutor. He stood alone like a wraith seeking justice. He was suspended. Disgraced.  And politically marooned. He spent months stitching up his shredded raiment.

In the thick of all these, President Muhammadu Buhari kept quiet.  In fact, it was reported that he dismissed the allegations of illegal insertions. He took no action.

In 2018, Buhari has suddenly realised the national assembly’s knack for “unromantic insertions”.  By speaking up now, the president has only given his allegation and motive a political slant.

However, it is unsettling that the national assembly will open the budget and insert choice projects into it. It is totally abhorrent.

Permit my bias, but why did the national assembly cut the provision for the construction of a terminal building at Enugu airport from N2b billion to N500 million? Why did the national assembly increase its own budget from N125 billion to N139.5 billion? This is injudicious.

As a matter of fact, these insertions are becoming too abrasive. And it appears the national assembly is deviating from its statutory role.

I will not be on the band of the demonizers of the national assembly, but the legislature must always be above board. It is an institution of check, and as such, it must be prim and proper. With actions like this, the accusations of its traducers are given a verisimilitude of truth.

These insertions are unromantic!

Fredrick is a writer, journalist and media entrepreneur

He can be reached on Twitter: @FredrickNwabufo, Facebook: Fredrick Nwabufo

 

12 Resolutions Reached At The NASS Joint Closed Session

The National Assembly after a joint Closed Session on Tuesday released the follows resolutions:

1.The Security Agencies must be given marching orders to curtail the sustained killings of Nigerians across the country and protect life and properties of Nigerians as this is the primary duty of any responsible Government. Senate Chamber.

2.The systematic harassment and humiliation by the Executive of perceived political opponents, people with contrary opinions including Legislators and Judiciary by the police and other security agencies must stop.

3.There must be strict adherence to the Rule of Law and protection for all citizens by the President and his appointees.

4.The President must be held accountable for the actions of his appointees and must be ready to sanction those that carry out any act which will ridicule or endanger our country and democracy.

5.The Government should show sincerity in the fight against corruption by not being selective also prosecute current appointees that have cases pending against them.

6.The sanctity of the National Assembly should be protected and preserved the Federal Government of Nigeria by not interfering in its business and prosecuting those who invaded the Senate to seize the mace.

7a.National Assembly should liaise with International Communities through the IPU, APU, ECOWAS, CPA, Parliament, Pan African Parliament, EU, UN, US congress and UK Parliament to secure our democracy.

b. Democratic elections must be competitive and inclusive by removing the present reign of fear and intimidation particularly as we approach the forthcoming 2019 elections.

8. The National Assembly will work closely with Civil Society Organisations, Trade Unions and NGOs to further deepen and protect our democracy.

9.The President must take immediate steps to contain the growing level of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria especially now that we have advantage of the oil price having risen to $80 per barrel.

10. Both chambers of the National Assembly hereby pass a vote of confidence on the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the entire leadership of the National Assembly.

11. we reaffirm our earlier resolution of vote of no confidence on the Inspector General of Police who does nothing other than preside over the killing of innocent Nigerian and consistent framing up of perceived political opponents of the President and outright disregard for constitutional authority, both executive and legislative.

12. Finally, the National Assembly will not hesitate to evoke its Constitutional powers if nothing is done to address the above resolutions passed today.

 

National Assembly Draws Battle Line With President Buhari, Threaten Impeachment

The Senate and the House of Representatives sent warning signals to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, saying that he must halt ongoing killings in the country and stop using the police to intimidate political opponents.

They said if the trend continued, the National Assembly would invoke its constitutional powers.

Both chambers held a joint executive session, which lasted for over two hours before making 12 resolutions.

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, presided over the joint session.

The resolutions taken at the session were read out by Saraki after the closed-door session ended.

Although, the word impeachment was not mentioned in the resolutions, it was implied in the 12th resolution.

The National Assembly stated, “And if nothing is done, the National Assembly will not hesitate to invoke its powers against the Executive.”

A senior National Assembly official said the interpretation of the invocation of the federal lawmakers power against Buhari “is impeachment.”

He added, “It means impeachment. We have given the President ample opportunity to improve on security and all the issues listed in our resolutions.

“At the executive session, senators and members were on the same page on the position that if the President does not improve on his style and the security situation in the country in the weeks ahead, impeachment proceedings will become the option.”

The source, who explained what the National Assembly meant by invoking its power, said the lawmakers were giving the President two to three weeks to implement the resolutions.

BREAKING: National Assembly Hold ‘Emergency’ Joint Session

The two chambers of the National Assembly are currently holding a joint session.

Speaker Yakubu Dogara has earlier announced that the House of Representatives and Senate will be having the joint executive session at noon.

Members of the Senate are currently moving into the Green chamber for the joint executive session.

The meeting aimed at discussing state of the nation.

Why NASS Increased 2018 Budget – Presidency

The Presidency has given reasons for the upward adjustment in the 2018 budgetary figure from the initial N8.6 trillion to N9.12 trillion by the National Assembly.

It said the move was due to the need to accommodate the upward swing in the price of crude oil in the international market after the budget was tabled before the National Assembly.

Making this revelation, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, told Vanguard that the delay in the passage of the budget and the rise in the price of oil in the international market contributed to the change in the size of the budget.

Enang stated that the additional amount would be applied to capital projects while reducing deficit, adding that the government would not dwell much on controversial issues in the budget.

He said, “When you submit the budget to the legislature, if there are indices that change in the budget, the budget can also change.

“The increase in the budget was discussed between us the executive and the legislature because oil price was about $55- $58 per barrel when we submitted the budget.

“At the time the budget was ready to be passed, oil price rose to about $70- $71 per barrel and the executive and the legislature teams met and said we can raise the benchmark from Mr. President’s proposed benchmark of $45 per barrel to $50 per barrel.

“So, that makes some money available and, of course, we had intended that the budget should be passed by December. Budget, having not been passed by December 2017 to January 2018, there were some other sources of revenue which came in.

“We agreed with the legislature that part of it should be applied towards reducing deficit and some applied to some capital projects and that is the reason the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, made some submissions on some capital projects to the Appropriations Committee of the National Assembly, the Senate and House of Representatives and passed them to the Appropriations Committee which has been accommodated to a greater extent.

“We are not at this time going to get into discrepancy whether the budget was increased rightly or wrongly, we are only going to look at what Mr President directed us to look at in terms of budget details.”

Recall that the National Assembly had last week passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N9,120,334,988,225 for the 2018 fiscal year, representing an increase of N508 billion from the N8.612 trillion proposal presented to the joint National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari late last year.

“PIB Yet To Get To The Presidency”

The Presidency on Wednesday said President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to receive a copy of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill recently passed into law by the National Assembly.

The harmonised version of the bill was passed by the National Assembly on March 28.

There have been media reports indicating that the clean copy has been sent to Buhari for presidential assent.

But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, in a two-paragraph statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday said Buhari has yet to receive the bill.

The statement, dated May 16, was titled “Re: Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.”

Enang said that his investigation revealed that the bill was still “undergoing standard legislative processes of the National Assembly,” preparatory to transmission.

The statement read, “Further to several enquiries by the media, interest groups, and the public in respect of within named bill, may I please state that the said bill has not yet been transmitted by the National Assembly to the President.

“From my enquiries, the bill is still undergoing standard operating legislative processes of the National Assembly preparatory to transmission, please.”

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Omotayo Alasoadura, had earlier been quoted as saying that the harmonised bill would be presented to Buhari on March 30.

The initial delay was thought to have been caused by the fact that March 30 was declared a public holiday to commemorate Good Friday.

The bill, when signed into law, is expected to instill best global practice in the nation’s oil industry.

National Assembly May Pass Increased 2018 Budget Today

The National Assembly has raised the 2018 budget by over N508bn, bringing it to N9.12tn.

The original estimates presented to the legislature on November 7, 2017 by President Muhammadu Buhari totalled N8.612tn.

The new budget size was contained in the report of the joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation laid before lawmakers in Abuja on Tuesday.

The crude oil benchmark price of the budget was also increased from $45 to $50.5.

From about $50 per barrel in November 2017 when Buhari laid the budget estimates, lawmakers noted that the crude oil price had jumped to around $80.

At the House of Representatives, the Chairman, Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Mustapha Bala-Dawaki, presented the report to the House session, which was presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun, on Tuesday.

Lasun announced that the budget would be passed today (Wednesday).

He asked members to pick copies of the report as early as 8am and read it, preparatory to the consideration and passage of the budget.

“Get your copies as from 8am so that by afternoon, we will begin to pass the budget. This announcement is very important, because we will adjourn the House on Thursday to go for the APC congresses”, the deputy speaker informed his colleagues.

There are other changes to the original document as contained in the National Assembly report, different from Buhari’s proposals.

In the President’s estimates, the recurrent expenditure was captured as N3.494tn. But in the new report, it was raised to N3.516tn.

Similarly, the development fund for capital expenditure was raised to N2.869tn from the N2.652tn proposed by the President on November 7.

The provision for statutory transfers also rose to N530.421bn from N456bn.

Debt servicing provision rose to N2.203tn from N2.014tn. The new figure includes the N190bn for the “Sinking Fund.”

However, the naira/dollar exchange rate was retained at N305 to $1.

The daily crude oil production was also retained at 2.2 million barrels.

Also, the Senate on Tuesday received the report on the 2018 Appropriation Bill from the Committee on Appropriations and might pass the budget today (Wednesday).

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Danjuma Goje, laid the report before the Senate at the plenary on Tuesday.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, had on different occasions said the budget would be passed after the report was presented.

Special Security Forces Take Over National Assembly

The National Assembly is currently being invaded by some fierce-looking masked security men manning strategic locations within and outside the massive complex.

The reason for the scaring development has not yet been explained.

But there are restricted movement and irregular interceptions everywhere.

Meanwhile, political watchers have said that the development may not be unconnected to the latest security lapses where NASS was invaded, culminating in the snatch of senate mace by suspected political thugs.

Following the sad event, however, the National Assembly has urged the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and the Director-general, Department of State service, DSS, Lawal Daura to redesign the security architecture of the Federal legislature to avoid any unforeseen re-occurrence.

 

Melaye’s Arrest: Police Disregarding The Sanctity Of NASS – Senators

Members of the National Assembly have said that the arrest and detention in hospital of Senator Dino Melaye (APC – Kogi West), destroys the sanctity of the chamber.

The senators have been showing support for their colleague, Melaye, who is currently embroiled in a face-off with the police.

The senators, in various ways, argued that Melaye is being being “intimidated and targeted,” saying the entire saga is “an abuse of democracy.”

The senators shared their solidarity statements on the verified Twitter handle of The Nigerian Senate.

It may be recalled that Senator Melaye was arrested at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, on his was to Morocco on Monday.

The police later laid a siege to his private residence in the evening of Monday.

On Tuesday, Melaye was being taken to Lokoja, Kogi State by the security agents when he jumped down from the police and was injured.

The events were recorded on videos, which found their ways to the social media.

However, Melaye’s colleagues in the Senate contend that the events did not only insult one of their own, it is also an abuse of democracy.

Statements came variously from senators Oluremi Tinubu, Shehu Sani, Ibrahim Gobir, Isah Misau and Joshua Lidani, among others.

Melaye, who is on admission on health grounds at the National Hospital, Abuja, is currently being visited by some of his colleagues, led by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

See their tweets below:

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

Senator Chukwuka Utazi states that Senator @dino_melaye has rights and as such, coercion will not work. “Due process should be followed if anyone seeks to oppose.”

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

“It was only an allegation against Senator @dino_melaye and since the matter is still in court, he should not be forced to go to Kogi.”- Senator @IsahMisau

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

“Senator @dino_melaye is being deprived of his fundamental human rights. This could happen to all of us some day.”- Senator Ibrahim Gobir

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

Senator @ShehuSani states his concern about systematic factors in the country and that all should remember there is no permanence in power. “What happened to Senator @dino_melaye is an abuse of power”.

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

Senator Sam Anyawu cites Order 43 and speaks on the incident that occurred yesterday, saying that Senator @dino_melaye was treated as a common criminal and also states that himself and his colleagues were denied access to Senator Dino in the National Hospital.

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

Senator Aliero Adamu condemns the way Senator @dino_melaye was arrested and embarrassed, held by SARS like a common criminal. “If this can happen to a serving Senator, Democracy is being rubbished.”

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

“We did not vote this Government to abuse democracy.  I condemn shameful act totally invite all those involved to speak to us and this case openly to the public.”- Senator Ubali Shitu

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

“Senator @dino_melaye is a very vocal person, he is being intimidated and targeted. It is clear that Dino Melaye is subject to inhumane treatment, let us all rise and condemn this act.”- Senator Joshua Lidani

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

Senator @oluremitinubu states that she is not in support of what happened to Senator @dino_melaye. “If Senators @dino_melaye and @OvieOmoAgege can be taken away by the police, it destroys the sanctity of this chamber.”

The Nigerian Senate

@NGRSenate

“The people look to the Senate for protection. “The average man needs protection just as we do.”- Senator @oluremitinubu