Friday, 28 June 2013

Aluu Killing Update: Court Adjourns Trial Till August

The trial of suspected killers of the four students of the University of Port Harcourt was stalled today at a high court in Port Harcourt due to the inability of three of the accused persons to provide legal representatives.

Eleven persons including the paramount ruler of Omuokiri village in Aluu community Rivers State Hassan Walewa are currently facing eight count charge of murder and neglect to prevent felony following the lynching of the four students by a mob in October 2012.

A bail application brought by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria OCJ Okocha representing the paramount ruler was not taken due to the failure of the three accused persons to provide legal representatives.

The presiding judge Justice L.L. Nyorde referred the three accused persons to the legal aid council to secure the assistance of a lawyer to represent them in the case.

The court adjourned till 1st of August, 2013 to take plea from the accused persons.

NGF Factions Talk Across The Divide At National Economic

Drama between the 2 factions of the Nigeria Governors Forum continued on Thursday, at the National Economic Council meeting at State House, Abuja.

Moving away from controversy, State House protocol did not make provision for the seat of Chairman of the NGF preferring that Governors sit according to alphabetical order.

This should be a pistols at dawn scenario but the Presidency has taken pains to defuse the situation.

For now it is not recognizing anyone as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and all Governors are sitting according to alphabetical order.

This is the first time all Governors will come together to deliberate after the May incident which divided the NGF down the middle.

Understandably there would be awkwardness between the players on both sides of the divide.

But there was the genuine effort to talk across the divide and explain positions that had been taken.

The implication is that this meeting may eventually close the yawning gap that has opened up between both factions.

Senate Urges Presidency To Order Urgent Recruitment In The Armed Forces

The Senate has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to direct the Armed Forces and other security agencies to carry out urgent recruitment of soldiers and officers to increase the size of the forces arguing that the ongoing campaign against terrorists has overstretched the services.

The Senate also directs the Armed Forces on internal security operations of the Geneva Convention code of conduct and rules of engagement in order to minimize casualties.

The upper legislative chamber came out with these resolutions while adopting the report of its Joint Committee on Defense and Army, Police Affairs and National Security and Intelligence on the loss of lives and destruction of houses in Baga town of Borno State.

The Committee headed by Senator George Sekibo also recommended that the National Emergency Management Agency should assist owners of building materials to reduce the refugee problem in the community.

Governor Amaechi Shows His Hand; Gathers 16 Governors For NGF Meeting In Spite Of President's Invitation To Dinner

Despite President Goodluck Jonathan's inviting Governors to join him at the "Champion For Women" dinner at State House Banquet Hall, Abuja, 15Governors and1 Deputy Governor  met briefly on Wednesday night at the Rivers State Governors Lodge under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum

This is despite news spread on the social media earlier in the day that the meeting had been cancelled in deference to the President's summons 

The Governors at the meeting were those of: Rivers, Adamawa, KAno, Jigawa, Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Sokoto, Ekiti,Osun, Niger, Imo and Yobe and the Deputy Governor of Borno State 

The Chairman of the NGF said they had decided to meet briefly before honouring the President's invitation

State House Press Release President Jonathan Reaffirms Nigeria’s Commitment To Stronger Economic Relations Between Africa And South America

President Goodluck Jonathan pledged Thursday in Abuja that Nigeria will remain at the forefront of efforts to promote greater economic and trade relations between Africa and South America.

Speaking at an audience with Venezuela’s outgoing Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Enrique Fernando Arundell, President Jonathan declared that Nigeria remains fully committed to developing the Africa-South America Summit into a more productive platform for the expansion of areas of cooperation between the two continents.

Recalling his interactions with late President Hugo Chavez at the 2ndAfrica-South America Summit at Margarita, Venezuela in 2009, President Jonathan said that it was apparent that the late Venezuelan leader was also very committed to establishing mutually-beneficial economic relations between Africa and South America.

Expressing the belief that President Nicholas Maduro will follow late President Chavez’s footsteps in this regard, President Jonathan said that Nigeria was ready to work with him and other Heads of State and Government to “maximally exploit” the potentials for mutual economic benefit inherent in closer ties between Africa and South America.

The President praised Mr. Arundell’s efforts to enhance the cordial relations between Nigeria and Venezuela.

“Thank you for the services you have rendered here. You have done wonderfully well. We will always remember you and your contributions to development in our country,” he told the outgoing Ambassador.

State House Press Release President Jonathan Wishes Governor Fashola Happy 50th Birthday Celebrations

President Goodluck Jonathan has written to congratulate Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State as he celebrates his 50th birthday tomorrow, June 28, 2013.

President Jonathan conveyed warm felicitations to Governor  Fashola and prayed that God Almighty will grant him many more years of commendable service to the people of Lagos and Nigeria.

“On behalf of my family, the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and on my own behalf, I write to express warm felicitations to you on the landmark occasion of your 50th birthday anniversary.

“As you deservedly celebrate this glorious day, it is my prayer that Almighty God, who has richly prospered you and ordered your every step this past half century, will continue to bless you with good health and fulfillment in the many more years of worthy service ahead of you,” the President wrote.

 He wished  Governor Fashola very happy birthday celebrations.

National Economic Council Resolves to Deduct One Percent From Federation Account To Fund Police Reform

The National Economic Council has resolved to deduct. One percent from the Federation account to fund activities of the Police in all states across the country.

The Council however decided that the State component of the fund would be dispensed in the States where the funds originated.

The decision comes on a day the council moved to address the problems of oil theft and staggering number of children out of school.

Talks about Police Reform have been on-going for some time but a major element of the initiative has been funding.

State Governments have over the years done a lot to improve on the performance of the Police by donating crime fighting equipment.

The Council decided that a one percent deduction be made monthly from statutory allocations of all three tiers of Government.

This will be saved to a special fund till one point five trillion naira needed to fully equip the Police is met.

But it gives rise to questions about the legality of deducting one percent from the country's revenue to fund the Police and if that will not interfere with the structure of command of the Police.

National Planning Minister Shamsudeen Usman thinks not as this funding is outside of the Police structure.

Still on security, the Council looked at the menace of oil theft, setting up a committee that would work out modalities to curb the menace.

But what was the rationale behind making Governors from oil producing. States form the core of the committee.

Council also agreed that urgent intervention was needed in the Education sector with the alarming number of ten million children out of school.

Governors believe they have the political will this time around to address the issue but stress that stern measures should be put in place to control the lifestyle choices of some Nigerians which contribute to the problem.

The council however delicately skirted round a key factor that would ensure the smooth implementation of these decisions: the cohesiveness of the Governors Forum.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Don't Delay Your Assent On Anti-Gay Bill - Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students Tell Jonathan

The Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (NIFES) has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan not to delay his assent to the Bill for the prohibition of Homosexualism and Lesbianism recently passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The National Coordinator of NIFES Bala Usman at a press briefing in Abuja on the forthcoming 2013 NIFES Conference, used the forum to commend the National Assembly for the passage of Gay Rights Bill in spite of external pressures.

Usman noted that the NIFES has strongly campaigned and stood against gayism and lesbianidm which seek to ravage Nigerian youth and their future.

He stressed that the growing global interdependence calls for Nigeria as a nation to produce a generation of youths and students who can engage in effective global problem solving and competition, participating actively in local, national and global civil life.
The 2013 NIFES Conference scheduled for Abuja between 20th October and 3rd November is packaged to bring over 10,000 students and youths across Nigeria together to be equipped and empowered for the huge task of nation building and global engagement for the 21st century.

Oshiomhole Faults NBA President on NGF Ban

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state has faulted the call by the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN), for the proscription of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum saying the call negates the provision of the constitution on Freedom of Association.

While declaring open the 2013 Law Week of the NBA, Benin Branch yesterday, the Governor said: “recently I watched the President of the NBA, saying in Yenogoa, Beyelsa State, that the Governors’ Forum should be discarded.  I think the factor of location influenced his conclusion. He betrayed his oath to defend Nigerians on the right to associate.

“One of the fundamental rights of every person, including Governors, Presidents, is the right of association. If Presidents have the right to African Union, to United Nation, to all the other formal and informal gathering, how can the President of a learned community suggest that the NGF be proscribed on account of difficulties whether sixteen is more than nineteen, although he is unable to provide the answer. If we unlearned people don’t know, the learned people should know.  Then if learned people don’t know that nineteen is more than sixteen, then I suggest that all of you should be proscribed.”

Oshiomhole explained that when a nation is led by characters who won’t stand by the truth, then that nation is doomed. 
“I want to submit that the environment and the overall circumstances known and unknown that led the NBA President to call for the freezing of the right of Governors to associate borders on corrupt practice”, he added.

He maintained “I thought that given the role of the Bar in our history, if privileged people like the Governors went for an election and they have voted and the loser is being declared as the winner and the winner is being declared as the loser and NBA says scrap it, then there is a problem.

“Anybody who keeps quite in the face of compelling facts is not doing  the nation any good.  In any case, I do not need the Governors Forum to do what I have to do.  All I need is the Edo Forum”, he said.

Oshiomhole disclosed “in Edo State, all men and women are equal before the law and we must demonstrate it by action.  The law must be operated as if there are no rich men, big men or poor men.  Everybody, whether corporate or individual must be seen to be equal before the law and the State must be seen to have the capacity and the will to deal with anybody who operates in an environment”
Oshiomhole argued that we can only have an egalitarian society “when those who are privileged to be entrusted with the powers of the State use those powers judiciously.

“I think in Edo we have tried to do that and before my turn is up, I intend to do more,  such that by 2016 when I would be out of here, it would be said that when I was here, no one was too big to be dealt with when he infringed the law”, he added.
The Governor reiterated his opposition to the revenue allocation formula saying “we must give Abuja less money”. 

He said Nigerians should stop lamenting that fourteen years after, Nigeria’s democracy is not delivering to the people, saying the beauty of democracy is that the people have the power to hire and fire and since Nigerians know the party that has been at the helm since 1999, it is in their hands to decide if they still want the party in power.

In a keynote address delivered by Mr. Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) on the theme “Democracy and Socio Economic Imbalance in Nigeria; Role of the Law”, he said Democracy has been rated as the best system of Government adding that it is a system that allows citizens to participate directly in governance.

According to him “the courts have a duty to ensure that there is no anarchy in the land.  There is a major link between law and democracy.   In the first place law establishes democracy and democracy guarantees the availability of law”.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted “the impact of the economy on Nigeria is negative.  For democracy to thrive we need to have a socio-economic balance.  The average Nigerian does not see himself as a Nigeria, but rather as an Hausa, Yoruba or Ibo man”.

Bayelsa Youths Protest Against Marginalization In The Implementation Of Local Content.

Hundreds of youths in Bayelsa State have staged a peaceful protest at the premises of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) alleging marginalization in the implementation of local content. 

 The youths, under the aegis of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Bayelsa State Chapter, stormed the NCDMB headquarters building in Yenagoa early as 6:00am and barricaded its gate locking out staff and visitors.

Over 12 police vans were stationed at the scene when the non-placard carrying youths were seen chanting solidarity songs.

The youths also had their  breakfast at the premises of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board carrying along plastic tables and  plastic chairs with several plastic cups, beverages, loaves of bread alongside bags of sachets water were also kept under the tables.

Leader of the NYCN in the state, Bright Igrubia, told Journalists in an interview that “the board is not involving the locals in its projects and activities in the state”.

Igrubia threatened that they would go on hunger strike if the board failed to address their plight.
However there were no officials of the board to speak to journalists as they were said to be operating from Abuja.

Lagos ACN Slams PDP, Presidency Over NGF Crisis.

The Lagos State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria has lambasted the Presidency and the PDP for the sowing and sustenance of crisis in the Nigeria Governors Forum. The party says that PDP and the Jonathan presidency by their many noxious actions are creating doubts on the minds of Nigerians on their faith in democracy, which they have leveraged to gain undue advantage over all Nigerians since 1999.
In a release in Lagos, signed by the Lagos State Publicity Secretary of ACN, Joe Igbokwe, the party said that by the way and manner the PDP and the Jonathan presidency has gone to create crisis in a body that unites Nigerian governors and the audacious manner they are going to sustain this crisis verged on illegality are enough to warn Nigerians that those that benefitted greatly from our fight against militarism are not ready to depart from the paths of illegality and unconstitutionality. It advises Nigerians to brace up for further struggles if they are not to continue witnessing the deliberate distortion of democracy to benefit a small cabal that neither believes in democracy nor are desirous of its growth in the country.

“By now, Nigerians are all aware of the undue interest shown by the PDP and the presidency to annex the NGF for their self serving purposes before the NGF election. Such desperation found meaning in the orchestrated campaign of calumny the presidency and the PDP launched against the Chairman of NGF, Governor Chibuike Amaechi over the unfounded speculation that he was eyeing the Vice presidency. 

Further show of this inordinate desire to conquer and annex the NGF were the hasty formation of a PDP Governors’ Forum, threats against governors suspected not to harbor positive interest to PDP and the presidency’s agenda, deployment of carrot to woo governors to support the takeover of the NGF among other means. 

Supreme Court Affirms Uduaghan's Election

The Supreme Court has  affirmed the elections of governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta in the April 2011 election.

The Apex Court subsequently threw out the appeal of candidate of the  Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Great Ogboru.

Ogboru had approached the Supreme court asking it to set aside its March 21, 2012,judgment which affirmed Emmanuel Uduaghan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the election.

Great Ogboru, through his counsel, Dickson Osuala, had argued that the Supreme Court was wrong to strike out his initial appeal against Uduaghan’s election, even as it agreed that the decision of the Court of Appeal was a nullity.

The Apex Court, he argued should have heard it on its merit, or made a consequential order remitting the petition to the governorship election petition tribunal.

Leading a panel of five Justices, Justice Suleman Galadima, described Ogboru's application as an Abuse of Court process.

An obviously unimpressed counsel to Ogboru went philosophical after the ruling.

This may just be the final destination for the protracted litigation that has trailed governor's Uduaghan's election two years ago .

Friday, 21 June 2013

Press Release: The 14th Honorary International Investors’ Council 20th And 21th June, 2013 State House Banquet Hall, Abuja

The 14th Honorary International Investor Council (HIIC) meeting was held between the 20th and 21th of June, 2013 at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.
The two-day meeting was attended by Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, the Vice President, Arch. Mohammed Namadi Sambo, GFR, the Coordinator of the Council, Baroness Lynda Chalker, the Economic Ministers led by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga and Minister of National Planning, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman and 10 members of the Council; Alec Erwin, Olivier Suinat, Haruki Hayashi, Guillaume Roux, Jim Ovia, Jacques Maraud des Grottes, Andrew Brown, Emmanuel Ijewere, David Haworth, Femi Otedola, Aliko Dangote, Umar Mutallab, Simon Harford, Sam Jonah.
The Council reviewed the state of the economy through presentations made by Council Members and the Economic Ministers. Council further offered suggestions on how to sustain the delivery of good governance, improve national and international perception, and increase private participation in the re-engineering of the economy.  
Accordingly, Council:
                    i.            commended the Administration on progress attained in the implementation of Council’s recommendations particularly those of developing performance matrix for the administration and all government agencies and departments;
                  ii.            commended government for the proactive management of the economy that has stabilized currency against international currencies and curtailed the inflation rate within single digit during the last two years;
                iii.            commended government for focusing on the manufacturing sector and urged that its existing incentive regime including the 5 years tax holiday, and the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) be maintained to further support the sector to achieve the target of 20% contribution to GDP;
               iv.            commended the plans to transform the aviation industry which was hinged on a well thought-out visionary plan that proposes to make Nigeria a regional hub. It however urged government to restrict its involvement to setting standards while maximizing private sector participation in the sector; with minimal public sector participation.
               vi.            commended government for the successful privatization of the power sector, generation and distribution plants which had been internationally acknowledged to be one of the most transparent exercise;
             vii.            commended government on the efficient management of the 2012 flood disaster without experiencing food crisis;
           viii.            observed the growing unemployment rate and the rising number of poor skilled workforce which was associated with the poor state of the educational system. It therefore urged Federal Government to improve on its synergy with the other tiers of government and the industry in order to build basic education geared towards enhancing capacity of the workforce for industrialization of the economy;
                ix.            encouraged government to proactively sell positive story about Nigeria to the international audience through the media for the purpose of enhancing the image of the country as the preferred investment destination in Africa
                  x.            noted the increasing interest shown by international investing community on the Nigerian economy; an indication of improved perception and confidence of the international community on the management of the Nigerian economy;
                xi.            noted the concerted effort by government that has considerably improved the security situation in the Northern part of the country. The Council however looked forward to timely restoration of normalcy in  the region, in order to improve the country’s image internationally;
              xii.            noted the commitment of government to fighting corruption through the numerous programmes that have enhanced transparency in governance and plugged loopholes in the financial system which had hitherto facilitated financial crimes;
            xiii.            noted the need for Government CBI to focus on industrialization. It is a unique opportunity for the country. Nigeria should leverage on areas where it has competitive advantage e.g:
a.     automobile
b.     manufacturing
c.      value addition for agricultural produce consumption domestically and for export
d.     petrochemicals
e.     refineries
           xiv.            noted the huge potential of the economy in gas and efforts of government at enhancing capacity for exploitation to promote industrialization; Council however urged government to review gas pricing to make it globally competitive;
             xv.            noted the proactive initiative of single window by customs and urged government to ensure that project is national in outlook and incorporates all stakeholders in trade and investment facilitation;
           xvi.            advised government to deliberately create enabling business climate to support local investors as a means of strategically transforming the industrial sector of the economy. It commended leading domestic entrepreneurs for making bold moves to contribute substantially to the manufacturing sector of the economy;
         xvii.            urged government to sustain its investment in building the physical infrastructure of the economy such as power generation & transmission, roads and rail, and airports in order to enhance the global competitiveness of Nigeria’s business environment;
       xviii.            resolved to support the Federal government in tackling the challenge of oil theft. The Council further committed to offer help in getting international engagement to stop the crime and attendant environmental degradation;
            xix.            resolved to further complement government’s efforts in fighting corruption, Council adopted the ‘Clean Business Nigeria Today’ (CBNT) initiative as a means of integrating the private sector into the efforts of government to frontally deal with the issues of corruption. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will serve as the Grand Patron of the initiative.
              xx.            commended Immigration Service for the introduction of on-line passport processing platform but was advised to improve on the broadband which has make the processing ineffective and cumbersome. The immigration Service was also requested to set up Visa Disaster Recovery Centres (in Lagos and Kano) as backup in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
            xxi.            requested Immigration Service to discontinue the issuance of transit visa in order to align with, and facilitate the process of making Nigeria Regional Commercial Hub. The Service was also advised to reduce the number of officials attending to passengers at the airports to ease flow of people in and out of the country
          xxii.            observed the need for upgrading of the After Care Committee established to address investor needs in order to enhance service delivery to investors within and outside the country
        xxiii.            observed that the 4% stamp duty by the Internal Revenue Service on business registration is disincentive to investment and should be proactively addressed for the purpose of reducing cost of doing business in Nigeria   

EFCC Arrests 10 Oyo Pension Fraudsters

Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today arrested ten persons accused of defrauding the Oyo State Government of N1.59 billion Pension funds at the premises of the Magistrates Court, Iyaganku, Ibadan.

The accused were Alhaji Hakeem Muili, Alhaja Iyabo Giwa, Adeduntan Johnson, Oguntayo Banji and Adesina Jimoh. Others are Johson Bosede, Adebiyi Olasumbo, Kareem Rasheed, Muili Adedamola and Salewa Adedeji.

The 10 officials of the pension board were arraigned on Feb.  25 for  alleged fraud of  N1.59 billion. and preferred on a three-count charge of conspiracy, abuse of office and stealing.

The prosecution had told the court that Muili and Giwa abused the authority of their office.

Giwa was the former Executive Secretary of the Pension Board.

The duo of Muili and Giwa were said to have conspired with others and issued cheques and signed  in the names of the staff of the pension board to collect pensioner’s money from different banks.

The prosecution said that the incident happened between September 2010 and January 2011 at Agodi Secretariat.

However, the state government had approached the court to withdraw the charges against the accused to allow the EFCC conduct proper investigation into the matter.

Chief Magistrate Durosaro Kehinde-Tijani then struck out the case, based on the application made by the Principal State Counsel, Ademola Ojekunle on June 4.

She cited section 75 and 211(1) of the1999 constitution earlier cited by Ojemola, empowering the Attorney General to withdraw the matter.

 The defendants were arrested by the EFCC immediately they step out of the court premises and were conveyed in the commission’s bus to Lagos immediately.

One of the accused, Alhaja Iyabo Giwa, however escaped arrest even though she was present at the court premises.
Mr Adebayo Ojo, the Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice affirmed that the EFCC had taken over the matter.

Ojo said that the defendants would be charged to court if found culpable in a fresh investigation to be conducted by the EFCC.

State House Press Release President Jonathan Approves Appointment Of New DPR Director And Ceo Of Nigerian Shippers’ Council

President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the appointment of Mr. George Abiodun Osahon as the new Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

Mr. Osahon who has over 30 years experience in the petroleum sector is to replace the incumbent Director of the DPR, Mr. Osten Olorunshola who was appointed to the position in 2011.

Previous positions held by the new DPR Director include Group General Manager – National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Managing Director – Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC)  and Managing Director of Energia. He is currently the Managing Director of Geo-Concept Technical Limited and hails from Edo State.

Mr. Osahon is expected to reposition the DPR and enhance the department’s  ability to address the critical challenges of regulating the upstream and downstream sectors of Nigeria’s petroleum industry, and enforcing the provisions of the country’s petroleum laws.
President Jonathan has also approved the appointment of Mr. Hassan Bello as the substantive Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers Council.

Mr. Bello who held the position in an acting capacity until now, was the council’s Director of Legal Services.

He hails from Kebbi State and graduated from Ahmadu Bello University’s Faculty of Law in 1981. He later obtained a Masters of Law Degree from the University in 1990.
Before joining the Nigerian Shippers Council in 1998, Mr. Bello worked with the Sokoto State Ministry of Justice and the Sokoto Investments Company.