Nigeria Needs A New Constitution To Stop Recycling Failed Leaders – Afe Babalola

How Military Rule Affected Judiciary In Nigeria – Afe Babalola
A file photo of legal icon, Mr Afe Babalola.

 

Legal icon and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Afe Babalola, has challenged Nigerians to move away from the tradition of recycling those he described as ‘same failed leaders’ for meaningful developments to be recorded in the country.

In a bid to achieve this, he recommended that a new constitution be put in place ahead of the general elections in 2023.

“It is my considered view that a new constitution must be in place before the next election, otherwise we will be recycling the same failed leaders that have brought Nigeria to where it is today,” said the legal luminary who highlighted the 1999 Constitution as the major problem of the nation.

He made the remarks on Monday in his goodwill message as the special guest of honour at the Fifth Ife Institute of Advanced Studies, Summer Institute Programme.

“I have said it over and over again that the problem with Nigeria is the 1999 Constitution foisted on us by the military when it wanted to exit the reigns of governance in 1999, instead of reverting to the 1963 constitution which Nigeria’s founding fathers bequeathed to us.

“After all, the military merely suspended the 1963 constitution when it seized power on January 15, 1996, it did not abolish it,” the senior advocate who founded the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, added.

According to him, it is lamentable that instead of bringing back the 1963 Constitution which was suspended, the military went to America to import “the presidential system of government to install an all-powerful President and weakened the constituent regions (now states)”.

 

Transformational, Not Transactional Leaders

The ‘all-powerful President’, he stated, wielded so much power to the extent that when the National Assembly invited him on security matters, he ignored the wish of the representatives of the people by refusing to honour the invitation.

Babalola decried that the present Constitution allowed Nigeria to run the most expensive democracy in the world, with government functionaries earning exorbitant salaries and allowances in a country riddled with unemployment, poverty, and insecurity, among other challenges.

He also noted that the constitution bred those he described as transactional leaders rather than transformational leaders.

On the way out, the legal icon asked those who wish Nigeria to remain an indivisible entity to ensure the 1999 constitution was replaced with a truly federal constitution and a parliamentary system of government.

“The proposed constitution will discourage politics from being the most lucrative business in Nigeria; the constitution must make provision for independent candidates to contest and win elections.

“The constitution must prevent transactional businessmen from contesting elections,” he suggested.

COVID-19: FG Frustrating ABUAD’s Efforts To Develop Vaccine, Says Afe Babalola

No Justification For Planned Trial Of CJN, Afe Babalola Slams FG
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Afe Babalola, speaks at the convocation lecture of Afe Babalola University in Ado Ekiti on October 20, 2018.

 

Legal luminary Afe Babalola has accused the Federal Government of frustrating efforts of the Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti in developing the COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking on Monday during Abuad’s 8th convocation ceremonies in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, Babalola knocked the Nigerian government for querying the institution while seeking approval to provide the vaccine.

“After working day and night for many months, applications were made to appropriate government agencies,” the legal icon said.

“When asked for accelerated action, we were rebuffed and they queried us on why we were in a hurry and added that after all, it takes four years in America to get such an approval.”

According to him, the COVID-19 has exposed the poor state of the Nigeria health and education sectors which are largely lacking in infrastructure and depth of research.

READ ALSO: Zamfara Govt Secures Release Of 10 Abducted Victims

Babalola said it is shameful for Nigeria that India has stepped up the ladder to become a donor of vaccines to Nigeria while Nigeria is dealing with ancient matters of cattle grazing.

“It is a shame that while India has navigated itself from the club of underdeveloped countries into the prestigious club of developed countries.

“Nigeria is battling daily with the ancient cattle open grazing system with the herder armed with AK 47 to challenge anybody who prevents them from destroying their farms,” he added.

He noted the number of qualified medical personnel produced by the country has not translated to a good global rating.

The university chancellor stated that since India gained independence in 1947, it has distinguished itself in nuclear power among others.

While admitting that Nigeria has qualified medical and health practitioners, the nation’s facilities fall below the requirement of World Health Organization, WHO” Babalola observed.

“India became independent on the 15th August 1947. Today, India is a nuclear power. It manufactures cars, Railway engines and coaches, hospital equipment and aircraft, and it is one of the leading countries in the manufacture of vaccine to the extent that it donates vaccine to Nigeria among other countries,” he said.

Deploying Soldiers Not The Answer, Buhari Should Address Nigerians – Afe Babalola

How Military Rule Affected Judiciary In Nigeria – Afe Babalola
A file photo of legal icon, Afe Babalola.

 

Legal icon and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Afe Babalola, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians.

He made the call on Wednesday in reaction to the recent happenings across the country following the recent #EndSARS protests.

“Protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, otherwise known as SARS or FSARS, have spread to all parts of Nigeria and beyond.

“The deployment of soldiers to the streets is not the answer. The imposition of curfews is certainly not the answer,” Babalola said in a statement.

He added, “I remember that as soon as the protests began, I had issued a press release in a similar vein on the issue appealing to the President to please address the issue at that time.

“I now again plead with him to address the root causes of the pain which the youths are complaining about.”

Youths in various parts of the country have embarked on peaceful protests in the last two weeks to demand an end to police brutality.

While the demonstrations have enjoyed the support of many political, traditional, and religious leaders, some of the protests were hijacked by thugs.

However, it was a black Tuesday on October 20, 2020, when soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters in the Lekki toll gate axis of Lagos State.

This led to the death of some protesters while at least 28 others were injured, triggering condemnation from well-meaning Nigerians and members of the international community.

“The use of live bullets and other lethal weapons against protesting youths is not the answer. The killing of protesting youths is also not the answer.

“A protest both in fact and in law is analogous to a message which an injured toe sends to the brain complaining about unbearable pain,” said Babalola in his reaction to the shooting of the protesters.

He added, “The response by the brain and the head is normally to take steps to treat the pain to the toe.

“Any injured person who refuses to take steps to treat pains to any part of the body does so at his own peril.”

The legal icon described the President as the head of the nation, stressing that the youths were parts of the body – the nation.

He, therefore, urged President Buhari as the head to address the youths and offer remedial steps to be taken to alleviate their pains.

Supreme Court Set To Deliver Judgment On APC’s Application For Review

 

The Supreme Court is set to deliver judgment on the application for review filed by the sacked Bayelsa governor-elect, Mr David Lyon and the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Mr Lyon and APC in their applications argued by Afe Babalola SAN and Mr Wole Olanipekun SAN, prayed the court to review and set aside the judgment of February 13 which voided their participation in the November 16 governorship election.

Mr Babalola had in his submissions said that the Supreme Court has inherent powers to set aside its own decision because the judgment which voided the election of his client was a nullity on account of denial of fair hearing of his client.

READ ALSO: UPDATES: Supreme Court Hears Application For Review Of Judgment Sacking Lyon

Mr Olanipekun on his part argued that the apex court erred in law when it invoked section 36 of the Electoral Act to disqualify the APC’s participation in the election when the Federal High Court judgment restored by the Supreme Court did not disqualify the party’s eligibility.

Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Tayo Oyetibo, however, informed the apex court that the application by APC and its governorship candidate were a dangerous invitation to the Supreme Court to violate section 285 of the 1999 constitution, for the court to sit on appeal over its own matter.

He further stated that the apex court was right in disqualifying Lyon as the governor-elect because section 187 of the 1999 constitution is clear and unambiguous to the effect that a governorship candidate who has no deputy candidate is not qualified to contest any governorship election in Nigeria.

After taking arguments from parties in the matter, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta announced the stand-down of the matter, adding that the panel would reconvene soon for its decision in the matter.

How Military Rule Affected Judiciary In Nigeria – Afe Babalola


A legal icon and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Afe Babalola, believes the military rule has affected Nigeria’s judicial system.

The elder statesman stated this when he appeared as a guest on the latest episode of News Night, a Channels Television programme which aired on Monday.

He decried the rate of corruption in the sector, although he said he does not agree that all judges were corrupt.

READ ALSO: DSS Not Empowered By Law To Arrest, Says Babalola

Mr Babalola explained that judges were well respected and celebrated in the country decades ago as they were seen as small gods.

He added that this was because they were earning about the equivalent of what their counterparts in developed countries were being paid, but that was no longer the case now.

The university proprietor said 10 years after he started practicing, he got an invitation to join the bench but had to reject the offer, although he admitted that it was the dream of every good lawyer to get such an opportunity.

The then Chief Judge of the Western Region, according to Babalola, was removed two years later via a telephone order by the military regime at that time.

He also highlighted the roles of the Department of State Services (DSS) as a security agency, as provided by the Constitution.

How Military Rule Affected Judiciary In Nigeria – Afe Babalola

The veteran lawyer said, “The time when the military tried to deal with our judges the way they did in those days, that day they did the irreversible damage to law and judiciary.

“So, I am not surprised that the Buhari government did the same thing and people were at night arrested … the DSS who has no power of arrest; DSS’ duty in law is merely to gather information and give to the President and others.”

He insisted that the security outfit has no power to arrest anyone, adding that the nation has started to witness a reoccurrence of what happened back in the ’80s.

“If a judge knows that if he rules against government, they will look for him tomorrow, he will be very careful and yet the oath of office is that you give your judgement without fear or favour; where lies that now?” he questioned.

He added, “There are rules, there are ways of dealing with judges if they commit offence; that has not been followed.”

Afe Babalola Gets Awolowo Prize For Leadership

 

One of Nigeria’s most renowned lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Afe Babalola was today awarded the 2018 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership.

The event which took place on Wednesday at Harbour Point in Victoria Island, Lagos, had former Head of State Yakubu Gowon, traditional rulers, serving and former governors as well as other prominent Nigerians in attendance.

Read Also: Fayemi, Fayose Embrace After Years Of Disagreement

Delivering a speech, former commonwealth general, Chief Emeka Anyaoku said Afe Babalola becomes the third awardee of the leadership prize after nobel laureate professor Wole Soyinka and former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki.

The award recognizes excellence in political and corporate governance, education and service to under-privileged among others.

No Justification For Planned Trial Of CJN, Afe Babalola Slams FG

No Justification For Planned Trial Of CJN, Afe Babalola Slams FG
A file photo of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Afe Babalola, speaking at an event in Ado Ekiti in October 2018.

 

An eminent legal practitioner and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Afe Babalola, has criticised the Federal Government for the planned arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

In a statement personally signed by him on Sunday, the senior lawyer said the government has no justification for its decision to arraign the CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

He stated that the Constitution clearly provided for the procedure with which the Chief Justice of Nigeria can be removed from office.

Unlike other judicial officers, Mr Babalola stressed that the CJN can only be removed by the President, upon receipt of an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

He also condemned the application seeking an order directing Justice Onnoghen to recuse himself from office pending the conclusion of the trial.


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Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (file)

 

The prominent lawyer described the proposed arraignment of the CJN as one that unfairly degrades not only the judiciary but also the Constitution of the land.

Read the full statement below;

I have just received news of the proposed arraignment of the Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on allegations of failure to fully declare his assets.

Without mincing words, I am as taken aback at this development in the same way as I was when not too long ago, the D.S.S invaded the homes of some Judicial officers, including Justices of the Supreme Court in the middle of the night on allegations of corruption.

However, despite the similarity between the two events, two things place this latest development above the previous one in terms of ignominy namely; the status of the Chief Justice of Nigeria as the head of the Judicial arm of government and the fact that since the invasion and the rash of prosecutions that were instituted against some Judges, the Court, via the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391(CA) has since stated firmly, the procedure permitted by law when allegations of misconduct are made against Judicial Officers

Disregard For Constitutional Provisions

In my reaction to the previous invasion of the homes of Judges, I referred to an article entitled ‘Guarding the Guardians: Judicial Council and Judicial independence’ published by the Law School of the University of Chicago which reads as follows:

Judicial councils are bodies that are designed to insulate the functions of appointment, promotion, and discipline of judges from the partisan political process while ensuring some level of accountability. Judicial councils lie somewhere in between the polar extremes of letting judges manage their own affairs and the alternative of complete political control of appointments, promotion, and discipline…The motivating concern for adoption of councils…was ensuring independence of the judiciary after periods of undemocratic rule. To entrench judicial independence, most…countries enshrined the judicial council in their constitution.

I also stated that:

It is for this reason that the 1999 Constitution in section 153 provides for the establishment of the National Judicial Council and in paragraphs 21(b) & (d) of the Third Schedule grants to the Council the power to exercise disciplinary control over judicial officers. As the allegations made against the judges are said to arise from or pertain to their office as Judges, I am of the view that the Constitution requires that any infraction by the said Judges be firstly investigated and resolved by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the exclusion of any other body or authority.

Happily, the views expressed by me were eventually upheld by the Court of Appeal in Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391(CA). That decision still subsists and has not been set aside. I, therefore, see no justification for the decision to arraign the CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Again, the point must be made clear that the Constitution clearly provides for the procedure with which the Chief Justice of Nigeria can be removed from office. Section 292(1)(a)(i) and 292(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) provides as follows:

292. (1) A Judicial Officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances – (a) in the case of – (i) Chief Justice of Nigeria, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and President, Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

(b) In any case, other than those to which paragraph (a) of this subsection applies, by the President or, as the case may be, the Governor acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council that the Judicial Officer be so removed for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct.

Thus, the point can even be made, that unlike other judicial officers who can be removed by the President acting upon the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, the Chief Justice of Nigeria can only be removed by the President upon receipt of an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate!

Given that the above provisions are clear, it becomes more worrying to learn that aside from laying the proposed charges, the prosecution has also filed an application seeing an order directing the CJN to recuse himself from office pending the conclusion of the trial.

On the whole, the entire episode is one that unfairly denigrates not only the Judiciary but also the Constitution of the land.

By proceeding as proposed, the government is unwittingly or perhaps deliberately a wrong impression in the minds of millions of Nigerians that the Judiciary is a criminal organisation.

For the sake of our democracy, this is a misconception that must not be allowed to fester. No country, no matter how well-intentioned its political leaders are, can aspire to greatness if its judicial arm is denigrated and held in contempt.

While the Judiciary itself must be awake to its huge responsibilities, its efforts in this regard will surely not be helped by the erosion of its independence.

AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR, CON, SAN, FCIArb.

President Buhari Congratulates Afe Babalola At 87

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Afe Babalola, speaks at the convocation lecture of Afe Babalola University in Ado Ekiti on October 20, 2018.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday joined the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and National Judicial Council (NJC) in celebrating one of the country’s brightest and resourceful lawyers, Afe Babalola (SAN), on his 87th birthday.

He also sent his warm felicitations to family, friends, close associates and professional colleagues of the legal luminary whose indelible imprint on the legal profession and academia remains legendary.

The President believes Mr Babalola is an inspiration to both the young and old on the power of dreaming big and the audacity of following through, having started out as a Grade 11 teacher who by hard work, discipline and self-motivation propelled himself to great heights of success, including the establishment of a private university.

He affirmed that his wealth of knowledge and wisdom have been rightfully deployed in service of God, his country and humanity.

As the legal luminary marks his 87th birthday, President Buhari commended his large-heartedness and love for the poor and vulnerable.

He prayed for more of God’s abundant grace upon the senior advocate for longer life, good health and strength to further serve the country and humanity.

Threat To Unity, One Of Nigeria’s Greatest Challenges – Momoh

 

Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Mr John Momoh, has identified the threat to national unity as one of the greatest challenges facing the country.

Mr Momoh, who is also the Chairman/CEO of Channels Media Group, stated this on Saturday in Ekiti State, while delivering a speech at the sixth convocation ceremony of the Afe Balalola University.

“One of the greatest challenges facing Nigeria today is the threat to national unity, as centrifugal tensions, resource control and self-determination, ethnicity-based identity politics and religious cleavages have enveloped national consciousness,” he said.

READ ALSO: Speech By John Momoh At The Afe Babalola University Convocation Lecture

The BON chairman believes the issue of ethnicity and the exploitation of its residual gain has been existing in the nation since inception.

He faulted some politicians whom he said were placing private interests above common and national interests, contrary to their campaign promises.

According to the media guru, this has led to lip service and a slow pace of development in the country.

Threat To Unity, One Of Nigeria’s Greatest Challenges – Momoh
Chairman/CEO of Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh (OON), delivers a speech at the sixth Convocation Lecture of the Afe Babalola University in Ado Ekiti on October 20, 2018.

 

“Many politicians see the treasury as a tool for enrichment,” he said, adding, “There’s hardly any distinction, as have been shown in many cases in the past, between their private purse and that of the public.”

“Once an access to public funds is created, its misuse and its abuse begin in earnest. While there may be some accountability at the federal level, there’s little or none at the state and local government levels.”

Momoh explained that the results of the activities of such individuals have been failed promises, poverty, lack of economic development, deprivation, and insecurity.

“The people are alienated from government at all levels. It’s like we are back to colonialism, where the politicians are the ‘colonial masters’ and the people the subjects,” he stressed.

The Channels TV boss, however, said he was aware of the conscious efforts being made at different levels to resolve the challenges facing the country.

He, therefore, advised the youths to believe in themselves and be willing to adapt to any situation, as they remain the hope of the country.

“I encourage you to have faith in your country and defend it,” said Momoh. “The future of Nigeria, lives in, and rests on you.”

He added, “Every of your effort in deconstructing Nigeria’s conundrum for national integration, cohesion and transformation would position you for national greatness.”

Change Begins With Me: FG Says It Is Leading By Example

Lai Mohammed on Change Begins With MeThe Federal Government says it is already leading by example in its “Change Begins With Me” campaign.

At the presentation of the campaign to a section of the private sector in Lagos on Thursday, the government said that the attitudinal change from leaders was to cut down government overheads.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said that the move to sell off two aircraft from the presidential fleet was in line with the ‘Change’ mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

He added that the campaign would last for the entire tenure of the present government.

“I think the first thing Mr President did was to set up a committee to look into disposal of these aircraft.

“You have to know which of them are outright purchase, which of them are on lease (and if there is) any arm of government that is going to need them.

“I am happy to report today that already, arrangements have gone far to sell two of these aircraft while some of them will also be given to the Air Force,” he said.

The Minister, however, believed that the campaign which was initially launched in Abuja, could only work if both the public and private sectors were well engaged.

Allegation Of Plagiarism

He also used the medium to clear the air about allegation of plagiarism of the “Change Begins With Me” idea.

Mr Mohammed said that he was willing to prove his innocence, vowing that the matter would be settled in court.

“Mr Akin Fadeyi, even by his own admission, came to meet me on the 30th of December, 2015 after I became minister.

“How can you accuse me of stealing an idea which was finished by October when you came to me in December?

“But myself, himself (Fadeyi) and Afe Babalola will meet in court,” he said.

Wrongful Insertion

There were also allegations of wrongful insertion of words credited to US President, Barrack Obama, in the speech delivered by President Buhari on September 8, 2016, at the launch of the campaign.

After the launch of the campaign, a columnist on THISDAY newspaper, AdeolaMuhammadu Buhari, Manufacturing Sector Akinremi, said that the speech violated plagiarism laws and pointed out that the President lifted Obama’s 2008 victory speech and passed it off as if the words were his own.

President Buhari immediately ordered that prompt and appropriate disciplinary action be taken against those responsible for the act.

At the launch of “Change Begins With Me”, President Buhari had said that the campaign was to sustain the effort his administration has made in the fight against corruption.

He described the programme as a determination of his administration to carry all Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society that everybody can be proud of.

The President decried the alleged erosion of the long cherished and time honoured, time tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, good neighborliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism.

EFCC Re-Arraigns Fred Ajudua On 28-Count Charge

Fred Ajudua, EFCCThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has re-arraigned alleged fraudster, Fred Ajudua, before Justice Kudirat Jose of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja on a 28-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence.

The anti-graft re-arraigned him over an allegation that he defrauded former Chief of Army Staff Lt. Col. Ishaya Bamaiyi in 2004 while they were at both remanded at the Kirikiri Prisons.

The offense is contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 13 of 1995 as amended by Act No. 62 of 1999.

When the charges were read to him, the defendant pleaded “not guilty” and the counsel to the EFCC, Saidu Ateh proceeded to ask the court for a trial date.

But the counsel to the defendant, Norrison Quakers (SAN) urged Justice Jose to be bound by the decision of the Court of Appeal granting the defendant bail.

Justice Jose asked the counsel to file a new application for bail to be heard on the next adjourned date.

The matter was adjourned to September 15, 2016 for trial.

The matter was initially before Justice Atinuke Ipaye and was later transferred to Justice Kudirat Jose after Ajudua’s co-defendant, the former registrar of the court, Olorunke Idowu Rosulu opted for separate trial.

Rosulu had since been jailed for 10 years over the allegations.

Afe Babalola University Protest: Fayose Pleads For Students

FayoseThe 21 students from Afe Babalola University who were arrested and charged to a Magistrate Court in Ado Ekiti, over the recent violent protest on the campus are still in prison custody.

Their parents say they are left with no choice than to seek for help from the state governor because every means explored so far has failed.

Governor Fayose who received the parents at the Government House in Ado-Ekiti agreed to lead them to the university and plead with the founder of the institution to tamper justice with mercy.

After the meeting with the parents at the State House, Governor Fayose followed them to the founder, Afe Babalola to appeal on behalf of the parents to make use of the institution’s internal mechanism in dealing with the case.

The founder, Afe Babalola has agreed with the governor to use the school’s internal mechanism according to the law.