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It’s an indisputable fact that the art of governance, be it law making, implementation and interpretation of the law, is a serious business in sane climes because of its desired effect on the generality of the people whose safety and welfare is the sole purpose of government, but unfortunately and sadly, the opposite is the case in our clime and it is quite disturbing and traumatizing.
Following the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announcement of the timetable and schedule of activities preparatory to the 2019 general elections proper only recently, which was expected to gear up the relevant stakeholders to the task ahead and the need to put measures in place individually towards ensuring a free, fair and credible elections by playing according to the rules, it is not unexpected and unnatural that such a commendable action from the electoral umpire will generate clandestine, illegal, short cut and backdoor tactics from anti democratic elements whose agenda is self centered and inimical to the smooth conduct of the elections and deepening of democratic tenets.
Unfortunately, this anti democratic, illegal, unconstitutional, sinister and evil plot has come from the least expected quarters, which is the National Assembly via its illegal and unconstitutional tampering with the schedule of elections in it’s self serving and afterthought amendment of the Electoral Act only recently.
It is a well known fact that Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy in which the powers and responsibilities of governments and it’s agencies are clearly spelt out with the aim of promoting good governance, engendering harmony and prevention of avoidable conflicts between institutions of governments in the discharge of their statutory functions.
Sadly, this 8th National Assembly has repeatedly on several occasion tried to lord itself over other institutions of governments by violating the constitution in usurping powers not conferred on it constitutionally and thus desecrating the hallowed chambers of the legislature as the bastion of democracy by its illegality and unconstitutional actions.
According to the third schedule, part 1, item 15 of the 1999 constitution as amended, it states among others on the functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), inter alia:
The Commission shall have power to –
(A) organize, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice President, the Governor and Deputy Governor of a State, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each State of the Federation.
Please take notice of the word Shall. Thus, by these provisions of the third schedule of the 1999 constitution, the only body recognized and empowered by the constitution to announce and fix the timetable and schedule of national elections in Nigeria is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), no more, no less.
It’s an established fact, that the 1999 constitution is the Grundnorm to which all actions of governments and individuals must comply for legitimacy and legality. Thus, any law made or action embarked upon or committed to by an individual or government institutions within the geographical territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which runs contrary to the provisions of the 1999 constitution is null, void and of no effect.
The National Assembly by its action of rushing to amend the Electoral Act to feather it’s political interest at the detriment of the collective interest of the people of Nigeria with the tampering with the schedule of elections from the INEC approved and announced two rounds to three with the National Assembly elections coming first, followed by the Governorship and States houses of assembly elections and lastly by the Presidential election with the intent to confer legitimacy on its illegal and unconstitutional action, is irresponsible, irresponsive, insensitive, callous, self centered, self serving, demeaning, assault on the collective democratic rights of Nigerians and an usurpation of the constitutional functions of INEC which must be rejected in its entirety.
Knowing fully well that it’s action requires an amendment of the 1999 constitution to confer legitimacy on it and appreciating the fact that it would not be able to pass through the legitimate and rigorous mechanism of a constitutional amendment before the conduct of the 2019 general elections, the joint committee of the National Assembly thus chose the short, illegal and unconstitutional route just to hoodwink the people to achieve their sinister and selfish aim, but notwithstanding, this amendment is an exercise in futility because it runs contrary to the provisions of the 1999 constitution.
If these legislators were patriotic, selfless and concerned about the collective interest of the Nigerian people, they would have appreciated the economic loss to the country and citizenry on days of election when all economic activities is grounded, by not compounding the situation with the addition of an extra day for personal interest, much less the extra cost and stress of organizing 3 rounds of elections instead of 2.
Also, we need to be worried about this illegal amendment of the schedule of elections because it has the tendency to wear out the voters and result in low turn out, when all efforts and actions are supposed to be geared towards engendering high voters turnout for elections because history has documented it that our elections with high voters turnout are usually the Governorship and Presidential elections only.
What about the security implications of a third round of elections? Have our law makers in embarking on this illegal amendment taken into consideration the capacity and capabilities of the security agencies to provide top class security with an extra day of election? Definitely, this is one area that is crucial to the smooth conduct of elections in view of the security challenges confronting the country.
To underscore the fact that the joint committee of the National Assembly is aware that it’s amendment of the schedule of elections is an exercise in futility, it even laced the amendment with threats against the executive if it fails to assent which calls to question the sincerity and responsibility of this Greek gift of an amendment.
Whichever way we look at the short cut amendment of the Electoral Act by the National Assembly whether from the legal or beneficial angle which are both lacking, one can see clearly that it is not motivated by concern for the collective interest of Nigerians but self serving, hence the haste to wrap it around the Electoral Act, when the proper channel for its legitimacy can only come through a constitutional amendment since the Electoral Act owes it’s origin to the constitution and not the other way round.
Therefore, it’s unfortunate and sad that our esteemed lawmakers in the 8th National Assembly as always, have refused to put national interest far and above personal interest, otherwise the Nigerian people and her democracy would have been saved the embarrassment of this exercise in futility.
Thanks.
Yours Sincerely,
Nelson Ekujumi.
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COLUMNISTS

Malami (SAN) is our icon for the second quarter of the year – Group

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The Network of Progress and Good Governance (NOPAGG) has described the current Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN). Mr. Malami (SAN) as a man of excellence.

Dr Rasheed Ahmed, the Convener Network of Progress and Good Governance NOPAGG in a statement Wednesday 15 July, 2020 noted that NOPAGG has over the years maintained a habit of celebrating successful and worthy ambassadors of Nigeria, around the world, adding that on this occasion the spotlight has fallen on the current Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).

According to Ahmed, “Mr. Malami (SAN) has proved himself to be a man of excellence. The Honorable Minister for Justice has over the years shown a high level of discipline and decorum. He has been involved in so many government projects and has always ensured that the fight against corruption is well executed.

He reeled out some of the successes of Mr. Malami to include “the implementation of Executive Order No. 6. He worked with other enforcement authorities – the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), among others – to ensure that assets connected to corruption, belonging to anyone linked to corruption related investigation or prosecution, are duly protected. Malami also worked to ensure the launch of the document called the National Judicial Policy (NJP), which points the nation’s direction in justice administration, particularly as it relates to criminal justice.”

“Malami can be credited with aiding the success of the Federal Government’s initiative deployed to address the challenge of dealing with the army of arrested Boko Haram suspects, who were kept for years in various detention centers and unattended by the previous government. Malami also facilitated the repatriation of $321 million Abacha loot; the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between World Bank, Nigeria and Switzerland for the early return and transparent management of $322.5m stolen assets from Switzerland, which has since been repatriated back to Nigeria and is now being managed by the National Social Investment Office under the supervision of the World Bank.

Recall that Mr Malami who has been pushing the Federal Government’s anti-corruption drive, once said “the Federal Ministry of Justice, under my watch, released the National Anti-Corruption Strategy Framework (NACSF) for collaboration by all the relevant agencies.”

Malami explained that the NACSF revolves around five pillars which include – prevention of corruption, public enlightenment, campaign for ethical re-orientation, enforcements and sanctions/recovery of proceeds of corruption.

“Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) is our icon for the second quarter of the year. We encourage him to remain steadfast and keep up the good work. His stand with Mr. President, President Muhammadu Buhari, on the fight against corruption, has made him stand out as one of the most outstanding Northerners and we appreciate him for that. Keep the flag flying” the Dr Rasheed enthused”

Signed

Dr Rasheed Ahmed

Convener Network of Progress and Good Governance (NOPAGG)

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COLUMNISTS

Corruption Is Fighting Back at Me, says Akpabio

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The Honourable Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, has said that the events of the last few days at the National Assembly were a clear indication that corruption is fighting back at him.

Senator Akpabio who was a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and one-time Senate Minority Leader was speaking in reaction to allegations levelled against him by a former Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joi Nunieh. He said he was being vilified for his determination to end the sleaze in the system.”My decision to reduce the illegal cash flow at the NDDC to corrupt individuals through the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari is the reason for these attacks”, said Akpabio.

The Minister noted that the NDDC had bled for too long in the hands of politicians who reduced it to their cash cow, adding that those who are incensed with him and the Interim Management Committee are fighting back to stop further blocking of the leakages in the system.

The NDDC has over the years been enmeshed in a cesspool of corruption and failure to deliver on its core mandate to the people of the Niger Delta region. Consequently, whereas the order by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe her activities in the last 20 years has attracted commendation from key stakeholders in the region, those who are uncomfortable with the reforms are fighting back with everything to destroy or discredit the Honourable Minister and the leadership of the Interim Management Committee led by Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei.

Akpabio observed that in the last couple of months, he and the NDDC IMC have come under a barrage of attacks in a fierce fightback by politicians wounded by the forensic audit. These attacks which manifest in sponsorship of petitions to the National Assembly and media blackmail by politicians who are evidently hurt by the efforts to sanitise the Commission has continued unabated and constitute a huge distraction to the work of the Minister and the NDDC management as directed by the President.He however assured that he would not be deterred in his resolve to lead the desired change at the Commission to justify the confidence of President Buhari as well as the support and goodwill of patriotic citizens of the Niger Delta region, noting that “forensic, forensic and forensic alone is the way forward to give the NDDC back to the people for which the agency was created”.

He concluded on an optimistic note by assuring that with the successful conclusion of the forensic audit of the NDDC, the Commission would in future be free from the profligacy of the past and the Niger Delta itself would no longer be a museum of abandoned projects.

Barr. Sogbeye C. ELI

SA, Technical to Head of Women, Youth, Sports & Culture,

Niger Delta Development Commission,

Port Harcourt.

 

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COLUMNISTS

Lawyer raises alarm over N15 billion NDDC payments

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A legal practitioner, Mr. Godwin Ojeh, has lamented what he called corruption of self-enrichment in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Nigerian Senate , Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila to stop the payment of N15 billion to contractors.

‘’The Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission has thrown caution to the winds. It is about to pay for jobs not done. The committee is processing the payment of a whooping amount of N15billion on spurious contracts in the name of ‘’Desilting of Waterways’’.

He particularly decried the misappropriation in the management of the funds of the commission.

‘Is the 2020 budget of the commission ready? Where are they spending from? ’Recently, the Senate set up an ad hoc committee to probe the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over alleged mismanagement of N40billion. The Senate also requested for 2019 budgetary performance. The commission doesn’t have power to expend public money. There is no budgetary provision’’.

In a tone suggestive of his hatred for corruption, the Benin based lawyer asked the National Assembly and the executive arm of the government to stop the commission from wasting the country’s resources.

In a statement in Benin, Ojeh described the intention of the NDDC Interim Management Committee as ‘’a move that will endanger development of the region

‘’There is no greater danger to the development of the Niger Delta region than the payments for fictitious contracts’’ the statement said.

He also harped on the need for transparency in government organizations, saying ‘’it is necessary for the National Assembly and the executive arm of government to adopt a collective position on the allegation of corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)’’.

 

Credit: Ebireri Henry Ovie

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