There’s No Need To Amend 1999 Constitution – Robert Clark

Magu's Rejection: A Slap On Presidency, All Nigerians – Robert Clarke

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Robert Clark, has warned that there is no need to amend the 1999 constitution, describing it as a rotten egg.

He instead, advised the Federal Government to quickly organise a process for a people constitution.

He made this known on Channels TV’s Politics Today while addressing the clamour for restructuring which has remained on the nations’s front burner.

“The 1999 Constitution is a rotten egg in Nigeria. It is a constitution that has allowed both the executives operating it and the legislators operating it to feed themselves. So I believe that if we want to amend, there is no need to amend a rotten egg.

“We ask ourselves, what do we mean by restructuring, are you restructuring Nigeria as an entity or are you restructuring the system of governance. We cannot restructure Nigeria as an entity that has to be clear to all of us. It is not negotiable; what we can negotiate is to restructure on the basis of governance and what drags the governance is the constitution.

“We ask ourselves, this 1999 constitution, does it help this country in the restructuring or do we jettison it. Go by way of a referendum, ask the people, what system of government do you want for this country? When the referendum says this is what we want, then a constituent assembly, one member from each local government will now come to the centre in Abuja and sit down to now see what form of system of governance we will now enjoy under what you and I, under a referendum have asked the leaders to do,” he stated.

1999 Constitution Is Nigeria’s Greatest Misadventure – Bisi Akande

A former governor of Osun State, Adebisi Akande has described the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the greatest misadventure of the country, saying that the law can not make the progress of Nigeria work.

Akande made the call for the replacement of the Constitution with the 1963 Republican Constitution to enable a transition to the writing of a suitable constitution.

The first interim national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) made the remarks at the presentation of a book titled “Nigeria: the Path We Refused to Take” written by Basorun Seinde Arogbofa in Akure.

He said the 1999 constitution ‘Can never be beneficially reviewed’, maintaining that the ongoing constitutional amendments could only ‘totally blot the essence of national values and accelerate the de-amalgamation of Nigeria.”

According to Akande who just lost his wife, the Nigerian constitution breeds and protects corrupt practices and criminal impurities in governance, adding that Nigeria began as a controversial state of many nations.

Akande said: “The 1999 Constitution is Nigeria’s greatest misadventure since Lugard’s amalgamation of 1914. The constitution puts emphasis on spending rather than making money, thereby intensifying the battles for supremacy between the legislature and the executive while the judiciary is being corruptly tainted and discredited.

“The Constitution breeds and protects corrupt practices and criminal impurities in governance. The 1999 Constitution can never be beneficially reviewed and the ongoing piecemeal adjustments or amendments can only totally blot the essence of national values and accelerate the de-amalgamation of Nigeria.

“All the angels coming from heavens cannot make that Constitution work for the progress of Nigeria. It should only be scrapped as a bad relics of military mentality; it ought to be temporarily replaced with the 1963 Republican Constitution to enable a transition to the writing of a suitable constitution.

“Otherwise, the 1999 Constitution would continue to dwarf Nigeria’s economy and stifle the country’s social structure pending a disastrous and catastrophic bankruptcy.”

Akande warned against the criminal revolution in the country, calling on all Nigerians to begin the search for a better future, just as he prayed for a farewell on the way out of the country’s present ‘sorry pass’.

The APC chieftain also noted that the military involvements in Nigerian politics for 29 out of Nigeria’s 57 years of independence has drawn back and miniaturized the sense of democracy and good governance among Nigerian political leaders.

He stated the military incursion into Nigerian politics has bastardized the political system so much that political discussions are no longer issue-based or interesting, warning the situation has become very dangerous for the future of the society -particularly among the growing youths.

Reps Reject Proposed Amendment To Remove State Governors

Reps Reject Proposed Amendment To Remove State GovernorsThe House of Representatives has rejected an amendment to the 1999 Constitution that will empower the National Assembly to remove a State Governor or his deputy.

The lawmakers kicked against the bill sponsored by a member from Plateau State, Honourable Edward Pwajok, on Wednesday at the Lower Chamber.

According to the sponsor, the bill seeks to amend Section 11, subsection 4 of the 1999 Constitution, thereby extending the powers given to the National Assembly by the constitution to take over the legislative duties of a state.

“A situation may arise one day where the Governor himself may be the one that will instigate the crisis that would warrant us to invoke the power to remove the House of Assembly. Mr Speaker, let’s go back to the situation it was in 1979,” Honourable Pwajok proposed.

In their response, some lawmakers described the bill as “impractical” and an attempt to “give the National Assembly too much powers”.

“The powers that the National Assembly currently has to temporarily take over powers of the House of Assembly should not extend to as the bill is saying, removal of a Governor or a deputy,” Honourable Chukwuemeka Ujam from Enugu State said.

“And anybody who has problems with his governor should go home and settle it; to say we should remove people’s governors for them is not going to happen,” Osun State’s Ayo Omidiran added.

The proposed amendment was however, withdrawn by Honourable Pwajok who tasked the House to passionately defend Nigeria’s Federalism at all time.

Ozekhome Asks Court To Unfreeze His Account

Mike OzekhomeA senior lawyer, Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to vacate the order freezing his account with the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB).

Mr Ozekhome’s application to set aside the freezing order would be heard on February 23.

Justice Abdulazeez Anka had on February 7, 2017 ordered a temporary forfeiture of 75 million naira found in the account.

The order followed an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which prayed the court to freeze the senior lawyer’s account temporarily on grounds that the said sum was suspected to be proceeds of crime.

In his application on Thursday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria requested for an order discharging and/or vacating forthwith, the interim order made ex-parte, which directed an interim order of forfeiture to freeze or attach the money for 120 days.

He also sought for an order restraining the Federal Government and the EFCC from dealing in anyway and manner, as to the operation or the proprietary rights of the ownership of the account.

Mr Ozekhome claimed that the application for an order for interim forfeiture of his account was done in bad faith by the anti-graft agency, stating that it did not comply with the statutory and judicial authorities in obtaining an interim order.

He said the EFCC allegedly suppressed material facts in obtaining the order, maintaining that the action was unconstitutional.

He added that the same offended sections 36, 37 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution, saying there was no legal justification for the EFCC’s action.

He explained that the 75 million naira was a part-payment of legal fees from Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State.

On the issue of whether or not the funds in Governor Fayose’s account from which the said sum is posted to Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers’ GTB account is suspected proceed of crime, the SAN noted that it is currently on appeal as filed and entered by the selfsame counsel to the EFFC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo.

He asked that the matter be heard urgently, as the continued freezing of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers’ account has rendered the chambers impecunious and unable to carry out its day-to-day activities.

Wrong Impression

The lawyer also said that the temporary freezing of his account has caused him untold embarrassment, public odium, obloquy and mental agony.

He alleged that the EFCC gave a very wide publicity to the said freezing or attachment in print, electronic and social media, thus giving the wrong impression that he has committed a criminal offence against the laws of the land.

On the material facts that EFCC purportedly suppressed, Ozekhome said the anti-graft agency did not disclose to Justice Anka, the fact that Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti had unfrozen Mr Fayose’s accounts forthwith, thereby allowing the governor to operate them before he transferred 75 million naira to Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers’ account.

He stated that as at the time Governor Fayose transferred 75 million naira to his chambers’ account, there was no court processes filed or served on the applicant, indicating that the EFCC was on appeal or asking the court to stay the execution of the order defreezing the governor’s account.

“Fayose, had himself withdrawn the sum of 5,000,000 naira in cash before transferring the sum of 75,000,000 naira to the account of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers,” the lawyer said.

PICTURES: Buhari Hosts Tinubu, Akande In London

PICTURES: Buhari Hosts Tinubu, Akande In LondonPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday played host to two leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the UK where he has been on vacation.

Pictures of the President in a high spirit, hosting his guests were released by the Presidency via Twitter.

The President has been on a 10-day vacation in the United Kingdom since Monday January 23 and was billed to return to work on Monday, February 6, 2017.

He, however, requested a day earlier to have his leave extended in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.

The move generated controversies across the country with many citizens expressing fear that the President might be critically ill.

There have also been calls for the President to reveal details of his health status as some have doubted his capacity to manage the stress that comes with his job.

The Presidency has consistently assured Nigerians that the President is hale and hearty and the recent pictures are part of efforts to prove that he is indeed not in any critical condition.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has since taken charge as Acting President.

Nigerians Need To Know Buhari’s Health Status – Falana

Nigerians Need To Know Buhari's Health Status – FalanaA senior lawyer and rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, has advised the Presidency to do more in telling Nigerians about President Buhari’s health status as it did in 2016.

Mr Falana said on Channels TV’s Sunday Politics that Nigerians need to know the state of the President’s health.

Although he admitted that the law does not mandate the President to disclose his health status, he argued that citizens should not be left speculating about their president’s condition.

“Under the Freedom of Information Act, the right to health is supposed to be shrouded in secrecy but I am saying now that henceforth, this situation calls for a review of the law so that we won’t be left guessing next time.

“We are talking of the President. Many state governors go in and out of the country, some for a month or two, some for three months without anybody asking any question and without any handover to their deputies.

“But I am saying that with what we are going through now, we must come to appreciate that if you are going into public office, you have no secrecy,” he said.

He said that since the Presidency started on a good note by informing the nation of the treatment of an ear infection last time, more information this time around would remove speculations and erase any form of rumour.

“It is our duty and right and the President took cognizance of that last year when he disclosed to Nigerians what he was going abroad for. This year should not be an exception.

“This is what has given room to a lot of rumours and speculation which are totally uncalled for,” he said.

Only Buhari Can Reveal His Own Health Status – Femi Adesina

Only Buhari Can Release His Own Health Status – Femi Adesina The Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, says all that President Buhari needs from Nigerians is prayer.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Mr Adesina said via the telephone that knowing the actual health condition the President has been treating is not compulsory for Nigerians to pray for him.

He had few hours earlier released a statement announcing the President’s request to have his vacation extended as advised by his doctors to enable him receive the results of series of tests carried out on him.

Mr Adesina insisted that the reason for the extension was not more than he had stated in his statement.

He called on Nigerians to continue to pray for the President rather than allowing the latest news sway them into believing recent rumours that he had died.

Faced with the question that Nigerians would like to know the actual condition their president is being treated for to enable them offer prayers for him, Adesina insisted that Nigerians can pray for him without knowing the actual health condition.

He noted that the doctor-patient confidentiality must be respected, especially as the President is known to be a straightforward person who could disclose his condition to the citizens if the need arises.

“I am sure it will get to a point when the President has to disclose the status of his health if it needs to be disclosed. If it’s something serious enough to disclose, I am sure he will disclose it,” he said.

He explained that he could not disclose the nature of health challenge the President is dealing with because he was not aware.

“The President is the one who can release his own health status.

“The day he left, we still spoke. He didn’t tell me ‘this is my condition’. He told me he was going to rest and he would do medicals and that was included in the statement we released,” he added.

Asked if he knew when the President would be returning, Adesina said: “If there was a date he would return, it would have been in that statement.

“But the issue now is (that) there is no vacuum in government. No lacuna because power has been transferred to the Vice President who is acting president.

“So, Mr President can take the time he desires and when his doctors give him a clean bill of health, he then can return home.”

Test Cycle

President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the National Assembly on Sunday, February 5, 2017, informing of his desire to extend his leave in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.

The President had planned to return to Abuja on Sunday evening, but according to Adesina’s statement, he was “advised to complete the test cycle before returning”.

The notice has since been dispatched to the Senate President, and Speaker, House of Representatives.

“Mr. President expressed his sincere gratitude to Nigerians for their concern, prayers and kind wishes,” Adesina added.

Buhari Extends Return To Nigeria

Buhari Extends Return To NigeriaPresident Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly today, February 5, 2017, informing of his desire to extend his leave in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.

This is according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.

“The President had planned to return to Abuja this (Sunday) evening, but was advised to complete the test cycle before returning.

“The notice has since been dispatched to the Senate President, and Speaker, House of Representatives.

“Mr. President expresses his sincere gratitude to Nigerians for their concern, prayers and kind wishes,” Adesina stated.

President Muhammadu Buhari embarked on a 10-day vacation on Monday January 23 and was billed to return to work on Monday February 6, 2017.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has since been performing his duties as Acting President.

The President sent a letter to the National Assembly in compliance with Section 145 subsection (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which mandates the President to transmit a written declaration to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The short vacation is part of his 2017 annual leave.

President Buhari Notifies National Assembly About Vacation

Muhammadu Buhari, National AssemblyPresident Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly to notify the lawmakers about his 10-day vacation.

In the letter sent to the legislators on Thursday, the President stated that he would be away from Monday January 23 to February 6, 2017.

He informed the lawmakers that while he is away on the short vacation, which is part of his 2017 annual leave, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would perform his duties.

The communication from the President is in compliance with Section 145 subsection (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The law mandates the President to transmit a written declaration to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

In compliance with the constitution, President Buhari is expected to transmit similar declaration to the National Assembly when he returns from his vacation.

Edo LGAs To Comb Primary Schools For Ghost Workers

Edo LGAs To Comb Primary Schools For Ghost WorkersThe Chairman of The Forum of Heads of Services in the 18 local government areas of Edo State, Tom Ebhotemen, says local government authorities will commence investigation into the staffing of the primary schools in their LGAs to determine if the teachers being paid salaries are actually there.

Tom Ebhotemen said this resolution was arrived at, after the joint allocation meeting where it was discovered that the 18 councils will be left with 599 Million Naira to pay salaries out of the 1.8 Billion Naira Allocation from the Federation Account.

The statutory 5% of the allocation for traditional rulers, one percent training fund and teachers’ salary gulped 1.2 billion Naira.

“Because of the very large chunk of monies that goes for teachers’ salaries we have resolved that we will carry out snap checks on primary schools to ensure that the teachers we pay salaries to are really on ground.

“If you look at the total amount paid to teachers by all the local governments and other mandatory expenditure you have a total of N1.2 Billion out of a total of 1.8 billion Naira.

“You will now appreciate the difficulty that local governments are getting. Certainly with what we have left, most of the councils will find it difficult even to pay salaries and our normal obligations to our workers.

“But you realize also that these mandatory expenditures are not imposed on us by the government, they are our statutory responsibilities.

“We have also resolved that marriage registry should be strengthened in the various local governments.

“This is as a result of the Federal Government establishing marriage registry in some states of the Federation whereas the issue of marriage registry, registration of births and deaths is the statutory responsibility of the various local government as provided by Schedule (5) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution as amended.

“We have also resolved that councils should look more inward, since allocation has continued to dwindle and the Governor has advised us that we should be very hardworking so that our areas of revenue we can utilize all.”

SERAP Condemns Life Pension, Immunity For Principal Lawmakers

SERAP, Life Pension, ImmunityThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the demand by some senators on Saturday for immunity and life pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly after their tenure in office.

A statement issued by the Executive Director of SERAP, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, describes the demand as “self-serving and despicable”.

The statement alleged that the demand is a grand strategy calculated to use legislative powers to alter the 1999 constitution in legislators favour so that they can enjoy life benefits at the expense of millions of economically and socially disadvantaged Nigerians who voted them into office.

SERAP believes that granting senators and representatives immunity and life pensions would neither enhance governance accountability nor contribute to the betterment of Nigerians.

Part of the statement reads, “Nigerians will reject any self-serving attempt by the senators and representatives to tear up section 308 of the 1999 constitution to grant their leaders immunity from prosecution for corruption and money laundering. “

SERAP says that it will pursue all legal avenues nationally and internationally to compel the senators to drop the immunity and life pension proposals.