Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed six agreements to enhance bilateral relations between them.
The signing of the agreements on trade, finance and judicial matters was witnessed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Obaid Attayar, signed the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement, while the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah signed the Agreement on Trade Promotion and Protection with the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs.
The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates, Sultan Bin Saeed Albadi signed the Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters, which includes the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth.
At a reception after the signing of the agreements, President Buhari reiterated his commitment to fighting corruption and restoring Nigeria’s dignity in the comity of nations.
The President also urged all Islamic countries to support the fight against terrorism in Nigeria and described the atrocities of Boko Haram as un-Islamic and against the teachings of the Holy Prophet.
In his remarks, Crown Prince Zayed Al Nahyan said that the relationship between Nigeria and the UAE would be strengthened by President Buhari’s visit and the signing of the agreements.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has refused to grant an application of mareva injunction filed by the federal government seeking to stop MTN Nigeria Communications Limited from moving funds in its accounts in 21 commercial banks out of Nigeria.
Presiding Justice, Mohammed Idris, while ruling on the application filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), held that the Federal Government failed to place enough materials before the court to prove that MTN was about to empty its bank accounts and move its funds out of the country.
The government had filed the application to prevent MTN from boycotting the payment of the N1.04trn fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its failure to deactivate its unregistered subscribers.
The government had specifically urged the court to make an order directing all the 21 banks to open a special interest-yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court and move N1.04tn out of whatever funds that was standing to MTN’s credit in their possession.
The government in an affidavit attached to the application expressed the fear that MTN could move all its funds out of the country before the N1.04tn fine could be enforced.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), in the 14-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one of his junior in chamber, Steve Nwabueze, alleged that MTN was in the habit of regularly repatriating its funds out of Nigeria.
Okpeseyi claimed that between October 2007 and May 2009, a period of 19 months, MTN moved over $7.7bn of the money made in Nigeria to a foreign account.
The lawyer also pointed out to the court an instance when in one day, specifically on February 8, 2008, MTN transferred over $936m out of Nigeria to accounts in Mauritius, Cayman Island and British Virgin Island.
He stated, “unless this honourable court urgently entertains this application, the plaintiff/respondent would move its funds out of Nigeria, being the jurisdiction of this honourable court, and thereby frustrate the enforcement of the fine in the likely event that this honourable court sanctions the imposition of the fine.”
Okpeseyi further insisted that MTN was under an obligation to pay the N1.04tn fine, because it was NCC’s administrative decision, which remained final unless it was reviewed by the commission or nullified by the court.
The senior lawyer also submitted that though NCC had earlier given MTN a concession on the fine and reduced it to N780bn, but since MTN had neglected or failed to pay on or before December 31, 2015, the fine remained N1.04tn.
Okpeseyi averred that instead of taking advantage of the concession, MTN resorted to filing a suit in order to buy time, with the hope that it could move all its funds out of Nigeria before the case would be decided.
He therefore urged the court to grant the application in the interest of justice to prevent the court’s decision from being rendered nugatory if it went in the favour of the Federal Government and NCC.
However, Justice Idris declined to grant the application holding that the case was a very sensitive one and of public interest, so he would rather urgently hear the case filed by MTN to challenge the fine and give a judgment within a short time.
But before he adjourned the case to January 22, 2016 for hearing, the Judge made an order for the parties to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the determination of the suit.
MTN had in December 2015 filed a suit through it lawyers,led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to challenge the sanction.
The telecommunication firm had argued that the NCC being a regulator, cannot assume all the functions of the state on its own, considering the fact that they made the regulation, prescribed the penalty and imposed the fine, payable to the commission and not the federal government.
MTN had also claimed that it was not afforded its constitutional right of fair hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction and more importantly, it had not been found guilty of any offence that will warrant it to pay such outrageous fine.
However, the Attorney General in his reply to the suit insisted that NCC is justified to impose the fine, and that it is his duty, as the chief law enforcement officer in the country, to ensure that all the laws made by the National Assembly are obeyed.
The NCC on its part has urged the court in a motion on notice filed through its lawyers, Ahmed Raji (SAN) and Mahmud Magaji (SAN), to dismiss or decline to hear the suit for want of jurisdiction or send it to Abuja.
The commission argued that the suit was wrongly filed in Lagos, noting that the subject of the dispute took place in Abuja, while the two respondents in the suit, NCC and the Attorney General of the Federation, are also based in Abuja.
The Nigerian government will not consider plea bargain as an option for anyone facing prosecution for terrorism and financial crimes, a government official has said.
The Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, met with members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group in Abuja on Tuesday where he made the strong statement about the government’s willingness to prosecute offenders.
Mr Malami said that the government would not allow criminal cases to be compromised.
“The office of the Attorney General of the Federation will not advocate plea bargain for anyone,” he reiterated.
Jailed For Cowardice
The Minister of Justice also revealed that the government would audit high profile cases that had been compromised in the past.
Led by BBOG’s Co-convener, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, they presented several issues before the Attorney General, including an immediate recall of the military men who were jailed for cowardice at the war front without arms.
The Nigerian Army had months ago arraigned 71 soldiers on several count charges including criminal conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mutiny, insubordinate behaviour and false accusation.
They were tried and discharged on some charges but found guilty and convicted on other charges including mutiny.
Five of the soldiers were discharged and acquitted while one was sentenced to 28 days in prison with hard labour.
Kogi election had drawn huge attention after a candidate’s death brought a twist to the process.
After election results from the 21 local government areas were collated on November 22, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), late Abubakar Audu, was leading while the incumbent Governor, Captain Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) trailed by a margin less than the number of cancelled votes.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress had 240,867 votes while that of the PDP got 199,514 votes.
The commission said 49,953 votes were cancelled, which was higher than the margin between the leading candidate and the runner-up.
Before the election was declared inconclusive, news about the death of the candidate of the APC filtered in. Issues were raised about the provision of the law for the substitution of a candidate who died during an electoral process.
The decision of the INEC was contested by the incumbent governor, who is seeking a second term in office and candidates of other political parties.
But the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said it was constitutional for the APC to substitute its candidate, citing section 33 of the Electoral Act.
That section reads: “No political party shall be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted pursuant to section 31 of the Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate”.
Suits were filed at a Federal High Court in Abuja by the aggrieved parties, but the court dismissed their suits, saying it lacked jurisdiction. It said that only an election tribunal had the right to adjudicate such cases.
A Federal High Court in Abuja will on December 4 give judgement in a suit filed by the Governor of Kogi state, Captain Idris Wada and three others, challenging the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct supplementary election in Kogi State on December 5.
Governor Wada is specifically asking the court to declare him the winner of the November 21 governorship election in the state, following the death of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Abubakar Audu, who was leading.
However, the other persons, Johnson Usman, Emmanuel Daikwo and Emmanuel Igbokwe are asking the court to rule that a fresh governorship election should be conducted in the state.
The APC governorship candidate in the election, Mr Audu, who was leading by a margin of 41,000 votes, died few hours before the election was declared inconclusive.
After Mr Audu’s death the INEC asked the APC to substitute the candidate before the supplementary election date, a decision the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said was based on section 33 of the Electoral Act.
That section reads: “A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted pursuant to section 31 of this candidate Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate”.
Despite the controversies that had come up, with lawyers giving different interpretations to the Act, the APC on Monday chose Mr Yahaya Bello, as substitute for the late governorship candidate.
Investigators and prosecutors who may have compromised the probe and prosecution of high profile corruption cases involving public officers may be in for a rough time.
This is because the federal government has vowed to punish those found culpable, as it plans to probe previous high profile cases of corruption in the country.
This was revealed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, at a news conference in Abuja, where he advised judicial officers to live above board.
He denounced claims that the federal government is flouting court orders with regard to the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd), who is being tried for alleged money laundering and illegal possession of firearms.
Mr Malami, who assumed office officially on Thursday, also vowed to fight corruption legally and without fear or favour.
“I am prepared to carry out my constitutional duties in this regards with all the enablement that God has given me.
“The fight against corruption must be fought legally, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and in line with international best practices,” he said, adding, “We, therefore, cannot make excuses for failure.”
The ministerial nominees from Oyo and Yobe states, Mr Adebayo Shittu and Mrs Khadija Abba Ibrahim,have been screened by the Senate and asked to take a bow and leave.
Shittu took a bow and left after he had answered several questions from the senators, ranging from religion to politics, activism and governance.
Shittu addressed the perception that he was a religious extremist by stating that he has never been indicted by any panel of inquiry for religious intolerance as he is not a fanatic or a religious extremist.
He revealed that his secretary for many years is a Christian and wife of a Pastor with whom he has had a cordial working relationship.
Adebayo Shittu, who has served as a legislator, commissioner and Attorney-General in Oyo State, noted that his personality did not hamper his past political successes.
While affirming his commitment to seeing Nigerians live a moral life, he was of the view that religion should be made compulsory in educational institutions.
Answering questions on the possibility of being put in charge of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Shittu said that he would ensure that grassroots sports is developed to the maximum as this remained the best way to develop the sector.
Mrs Abba Ibrahim’s screening, however, took less time as she was asked to take a bow and leave after a dramatic exchange of banters among the senators, one of whom is the nominee’s husband, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim.
The Nigerian Senate has changed its approach as it resumes the screening of ministerial nominees in Abuja.
Only Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Adebayo Shittu and Claudius Daramola would be screened today, Tuesday, October 20.
This is according to Chairman Senate Adhoc Committee on Media and Public Matter, Dino Melaye.
He said that the Senate has pruned down the number of nominees screened daily in order to have a more thorough exercise.
He explained that the decision was made in response to the yearnings of Nigerians who have criticized the Senate’s approach during the already held screenings and asked for a more thorough screening exercise.
The Senate is also to lay down report of the petition on former Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi and screen the former governor on Wednesday.
The nomination of Mr Amaechi has generated a lot of controversy following petitions from a group in Rivers State accusing him of fraudulent practices during his tenure as Governor of Rivers State.
Eighteen ministerial nominees were screened and confirmed last week before the Senate shifted the exercise to Tuesday.
The first list of nominees was sent to the Senate on September 30 by President Muhammadu Buhari while a second list was sent on October 12.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had said that the Senate would adopt measures that are in line with the provisions of the Constitution in carrying out the screening exercise.
Eighteen of the 37 ministerial nominees from the list submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari have been confirmed by the Senate.
They include Udoma Udo Udoma, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Audu Ogbe, Christopher Ogbonnaya Onu, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Lt.Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Amina Mohammed, Ibrahim Jubril, Babatunde Fashola, Aisha Alhassan.
Others are Senator Hadi Sirika, Solomon Dalong, Ibe Kachukwu, Kemi Adeosun, Abubakar Malami, Engineer Suleiman Adamu and Dr. Chris Ngige.
At the end of plenary on Wednesday, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki read out the names of the nominees who had fielded questions from the lawmakers. The senators in a vote confirmed all 18 nominees.
It was like the proverbial masquerade whose face would never be seen but at long last the masquerade has been unmasked by the Senate as the Senate President on Tuesday read out the list of ministerial nominees sent by President Muhammadu Buhari.
One by one they were revealed; most known and a few making their debut on the national scene.
Dr. Bukola Saraki unveiled the names of the men and women that are expected to make up the President’s cabinet if they scale through their screening on Tuesday.