Jonathan sets up committee on Bakassi to review ICJ judgement

President Goodluck Jonathan has set up a committee to look at the options for a review of the judgement that ceded the Bakassi peninsular to the Cameroons and how to take care of the people there.

The President’s decision which is coming a few days to the expiration of the appeal period on the case is following a long drawn-out meeting the president held with the leadership of the National Assembly over the matter in the presidential villa.

The meeting which lasted for about three and half hours had in attendance the Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Senate President David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and other key principal officers of the National Assembly, the Attorney General of the Federation, the governors of Cross River and Akwa Ibom, Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as some select groups from Bakassi.

Prince Bola Ajibola who was also in attendance spoke to Channels Television after the meeting said by virtue of convening meeting, the Federal Government has shown a candid concern for its people in Bakassi and that according to him, it is the most important thing for now.

He commended the move to follow the rule of law, dialogue and diplomacy in ensuring that the people are not wrongly dealt with.

He expressed optimism that the committee set up will handle it in a record time.

Liyel Imoke the Cross River state governor said that the president has shown great leadership quality by convening the meeting and standing firm on some of the decisions taken.

On his part, the Senate President; David Mark said that the Executive and the law makers are on the same frequency on the Bakassi issue and will work in the same direction to achieve results.

 

Jonathan sets up committee to review judgment on Bakassi Peninuslar

President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday set up a committee to review the appealing judgment on Bakassi Peninsular to the neighbouring country Cameroun and how to take care of the people there.

The president’s decision which is coming a few days to the expiration of the appeal period on the case is following a long drawn out meeting, in which the president held with the leadership of the National Assembly over the matter in the presidential villa.

The meeting which lasted for about three and half hours had in attendance the vice president Namadi Sambo, the senate president David Mark, Speaker of the house of representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and other key principal officers of the National Assembly, the Attorney General of the federation, the governors of Cross- River, Akwa Ibom, Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as some select groups from Bakassi state.

Other technocrats like prince Bola Ajibola who spoke to Channels Television after the meeting said that by the meeting the federal government has shown a candid concern for its people in Bakassi .

That according to him is the most important thing now. He commended the move to follow the rule of law, dialogue, and diplomacy in ensuring that the people are not wrongly dealt with.

Mr Ajibola expressed optimism that the committee set up will handle it in a record time.

Also speaking the Cross- River state governor, Liyel Imoke said that the president has shown great leadership quality by convening the meeting and standing firm on some of the decisions taken.

On his part, the senate president David Mark said that the executive and the law makers are on the same frequency on the Bakassi issue and will work in the same direction to achieve results.

You must respect the dignity of our women FG warns Saudi Arabia

The Committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to interface with the Saudi Arabian authorities over the detention and subsequent deportation of Nigerian female pilgrims to this year’s Hajj, met yesterday, Friday, September 28, 2012.

The committee stated that whatever further action the Saudi government wishes to take must respect the dignity of the female pilgrims as enshrined in international conventions which the two countries are signatories to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mallam Imam Imam said.

The meeting was chaired by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and attended by other members of the committee, which include the Emir of Zuru, HRH Alhaji Sani Sami, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi who represented the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Professor Shehu Galadanchi, Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Muhammed Bello, Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon Nnenna Ukeje and Hon Bashir Adamu Kazaure.

The Committee reviewed the correspondence, discussions and actions taken by the Nigerian government and the Saudi authorities in the last three days.

In furtherance of the discussions going on between the Nigerian and Saudi Arabian government, members of the committee will undertake a trip to Saudi Arabia as soon as they receive the go ahead from the Saudi authorities with a view to resolving the issue once and for all.

The committee wish to assure pilgrims and Nigerians that the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is on top of the situation.

FG summons Saudi envoy over arrested Nigerian female pilgrims

The Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Khaled Abdrabuh is optimistic that the detention of female Nigerian pilgrims will be resolved sooner rather than later.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, who is the head of federal government delegation to Saudi Arabia to resolve the impasse, met with the Saudi Arabia envoy behind closed doors.

Hounourable Tambuwal also added that the Nigerian mission in Riyadh is meeting with Saudi authorities to resolve the situation.

However, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Representative Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje added that Nigeria will not hesitate to bring back her people if the issue is not resolved today.

According to the National Hajj Commission, 908 female Nigerian pilgrims were refused entry into Saudi Arabia breaching the escort rules for female pilgrims under Saudi Law.

The female pilgrims need to be accompanied by a male who should either be her husband, brother or father.

Reps threaten to withhold fund from undemocratic Local council administrators

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal on Wednesday cautioned the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha and other state governors on their handling of the country’s local government system.

The speaker warned that the National Assembly will move to discourage illegal local government councils by stopping their funding.

Mr Tambuwal sounded this warning against the background of the recent incidence in Imo State.

The Imo State governor had in August sacked the 27 reinstated Local government chairmen from office summarily dissolving the third-tier administration in Imo State and replacing the chairmen with Directors of Administration and General Services (DAGS).

The Speaker while in a meeting with the leaders and members of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALCON) at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, said most of the states in the country have been paying lip service to the section of the constitution that guarantee the autonomy of the Local government council.

“What we are thinking of doing in the House of Representatives and I’m sure, by and large the National Assembly is to tie that particular provision with the release of funds to undemocratically installed caretaker committee,” the speaker said.

“I will use this medium to call on the governor of Imo State to please respect the rule of law. If it is about might and power, I’m sure he is not the strongest personality, in terms of physique, that is in Imo state. But God in His infinite wisdom has made him to be the governor of Imo State, through an electoral process put in place by law. He should therefore also respect the law and do the right thing.

“What is happening there in Imo State is actually unacceptable and please; I am pleading; I am joining other Nigerians to plead with him to respect the laws of the land and do the right thing,” Mr Tambuwal said.

The National President of ALGON, Nwabueze Okafor, had appealed to the lawmakers to save the local government so that it can work for the country.

“The time has come for us to decide whether we want the Local government system to operate or whether we want to remove it entirely,” he said.

Mr Okafor said the ready vehicle through which the government can convey the dividend of democracy to all Nigerians is the local government councils. He therefore pleaded with the National Assembly to intervene in saving the councils from the powers of the state governors.

AUDIO:The $3 million conversation between Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola

More evidence are forthcoming in the alleged bribery scandal involving Honourable Farouk Lawan and the MD/CEO Zenon Oil and Gas over the alleged payment of $620,000 out of the $3million bribe demanded.

The Chairman, House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee on Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan, is alleged to have collected $620,000 as part payment for a $3million bribe, which he demanded from billionaire and oil magnate, in a bid to exonerate his companies from the fuel subsidy probe.

The audio conversation exclusively obtained by Channels Television, started with the MD/CEO Zenon Oil and Gas, Femi Otedola saying he does not want to take the money to his house. “I don’t want to take it to my house; it is a lot of money” he said.

Then the lawmaker replied that he is on his way out and by the time he returns, he will have to head to the chambers of the House of Representatives.

Mr Otedola then asked, if he should reschedule his planned trip to China, but the Honorable Farouk said no and offered to bring in a third person to collect the bribe.

The lawmaker gave the phone numbers 08036513355, naming the person as TJ.

Acknowledging the transaction, Mr Farouk responded affirmatively to Otedola’s remark that if he receives the initial payment, then there will be a balance of $2.5million, saying “that’s right” while he said, he will be calling the third person to ensure the collection of the initial payment.

Below is the purported audio recording:

The conversation verbatim

Otedola: How are you sir?  I don’t want to bring it to my house

Lawan: Oh, you would take it to your house

Otedola: No I don’t want to bring it to my house; it is a lot of money

Lawan: err… so where? Because I’m rushing to the… they are at the airport now?

Otedola:   Yes they are in the airport in the aircraft

Lawan: Well I can’t come over now and before they can come over now unless I send somebody to but I can’t because…by the time they come I should be…I have a lot of things to do myself

Otedola: Is there anybody you think I can give it to or maybe I should just postpone my trip to China till tomorrow?

Lawan: No, no it’s ok…I’ll arrange it with someone…let me give you his number 080

Otedola: hold on hold on

Lawan: 08036513355

Otedola: (Repeats number after him)What’s the name?

Lawan: TJ

Otedola: Sorry?

Lawan: aaarrh… TJ

Otedola: Ateezay?

Lawan: TJ!

Otedola: Teezay?

Lawan: No, Tj

Otedola: OK. So I will give him the balance; that is erm… 2.5 million dollars, yea?

Lawan: that’s right. Hold on. I’m calling him to be sure his phone is on…..

How Lawan exonerated Zenon

The Chairman, House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy probe, while presenting the 210-paged Fuel Subsidy report to a plenary session of the House of Representatives, on the 21st of April, moved a motion of recommedation that two companies should  be removed from the list of companies indicted by the committee for receiving forex from the Central Bank of Nigeria but failed to bring in the fuel.

See the video below:

 

Reps threaten to Impeach Jonathan over budget execution

The House of Representatives, on Thursday, threatened to commence impeachment move on President Goodluck Jonathan over what it described as poor implementation of the 2012 budget.

The lawmakers also cautioned the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on the non-release of funds to ministries, departments and agencies of government to implement projects.

They further urged President Jonathan to direct the Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to stop forthwith her violation of the 2012 budget as passed by the National Assembly and release, accordingly, first and second quarters’ appropriation to the MDAs and implement the budget to the letter.

The House’s took made these resolution following a motion moved by Albert Sam-Tsokwa and 20 others entitled: “Poor implementation of the 2012 budget,” noting that, “while the recurrent expenditure has kept pace with expectations, capital budget implementation seriously lags behind and leaves much to be desired.”

According to Mr Sam-Tsokwa, “whereas the majority of MDAs have reached advanced stages in the implementation of the procurement process, they are unable to release contract award letters as a result of the release of insufficient funds or non-release of funds, which has further exacerbated the crushing burden of accumulated debts.”

He said that “the 2012 national budget was passed with aggregate expenditure figure of N4.887 trillion, including the N180 billion for the Subsidy Re-Investment Programme (SURE-P).”

Various chairmen of the House committees that contributed to the debate, which generated heated arguments and emotions, berated the executive for the poor implementation of the 2012 budget and equally frowned on the false alarm being raised by the Minister of Finance that the country was broke.

The lawmakers then submitted that from the data they obtained from various government revenue generating agencies, except the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the country’s economy was not doing badly, as most of the agencies were said to have already surpassed their targets.

The Minority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamiala, said that “President Goodluck Jonathan promised Nigerians a budget of transformation, but what we have is a budget of abracadabra and a voodoo economy.”

Backing his impeachment call with Section 143, Mr Gbajabiamila said, “if by the time we resume in September 18, 2012, budget has not been implemented by 100 per cent, we shall begin the impeachment process on Mr President.”

However, the House Leader, Mulikat Adeola-Akande, cautioned the lawmakers on the impeachment threat, stressing that she believed that before the lawmakers resumed from their recess on September 18, 2012, things would have changed for the better.

Jonathan reacts

The Presidency have reacted to the impeachment threat by House of Representatives on President Goodluck Jonathan over budget implementation saying the President is equally worried by the concerns raised by the House.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati said that President Jonathan was on the same page with the House of Representatives on the need for efficient budget implementation.

He said there was no conflict between the two arms of government, noting that the President was also concerned about budget implementation.

Vanguard newspaper reported Mr Abati as saying “the House and the President are on the same page on budget implementation. Just as the House is concerned, Mr. President is concerned too. What happened today (yesterday) in the House was ironic and a big coincidence because two ministries: interior and police affairs, were in the Villa to make presentations on their key performance index.

“Each ministry came with all the parastatals under it and presented their KPI in relation to Budget 2012. They were required to state their mandates, the money they collected under Budget 2012, their level of performance and their challenges if any and then define their next steps. After each presentation, there was robust discussion.”

Farouk Lawan’s bribe money is not with me – Adams Jagaba

The Chairman House of Representatives Committee on drugs, narcotics and financial crimes, Adams Jagaba on Tuesday denied being in possession of the $620, 000 bribe money offered the former Chairman, House ad-hoc committee that probed the management of subsidy fund, Farouk Lawan.

The suspended Chairman of the Subsidy probe committee, Farouk Lawan

Mr Lawan, in his statement, claimed he formally wrote Mr Jagaba, informing him of moves by oil tycoon, Femi Otedola, to bribe the subsidy probe panel and attached the sum of $620,000 which Mr Otedola paid.

In a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, titled “Re: investigation activities: request for handing over of exhibits in connection with the case of criminal conspiracy and taking gratification to prevent the course of justice”, Mr Jagaba wrote that, “I wish to categorically and unequivocally state that there was never a time I was in possession of the sum of $620,000 USD or any other exhibits (in my personal capacity or official capacity as chairman house committee on drugs, narcotics and financial crimes) relating to the subject matter of the above investigation.

“I hope this explanation lays to rest once and for all the claims that I or my committee is in possession of the sum of $620,000 USD purportedly given as bribe to the ad hoc committee on monitoring of fuel subsidy regime.”

On Monday, Mr Lawan had reportedly pleaded with the investigators handling the bribery allegations against him to allow him attend the plenary session of the House of Representatives on Wednesday so that he can retrieve the money from Mr Jagaba.

 

$3 million bribery: Jonathan denies plot to unseat Tambuwal

President Goodluck Jonathan has denied claims that the bribery scandal that has greeted the House of Representatives investigation into the management of the fuel subsidy is a plot by his office to unseat the leadership of the House.  

The Presidency in a statement signed by the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Reuben Abati, reaffirmed its commitment to the subsidy probe, stating that the president “has absolutely no reason or desire to meddle in the affairs of the House of Representatives and its leadership.”

It described as ‘lame and diversionary’, attempts by some national dailies to drag the person and office of the President into the bribery scandal.

The statement from the presidency alleged that some edition of Thursday’s newspapers claimed the whole bribery scandal was a plot cooked by the presidency to unseat the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“The mischievous insinuation in today’s editions of newspapers that the entire affair, in which the two key players (Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola) have publicly confessed their roles, is part of a plot by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the executive arm of government to unseat the leadership of the House of Representatives, is totally false and baseless” the statement said.

The Chairman, House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee on Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan is alleged to have collected $620,000 as part payment for a $3million bribe, which he demanded from billionaire and oil magnate, Femi Otedola in a bid to exonerate his companies from the fuel subsidy probe.

“Neither the President nor anyone acting on his request or order has anything to do with the scandal that has sadly engulfed the House ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy. The attempt to drag the Presidency into the matter is entirely speculative and without factual foundation” said the statement.

The president also expressed his avowed commitment to the effective prosecution of the war against corruption in Nigeria, and urged the media to allow members of the House and law enforcement agencies to conduct and conclude investigations without further unhelpful distractions.

The House of Representatives has already recalled its members from recess for a special session to deliberate on it tomorrow.

The statement further confirmed that despite the bribery allegations and all that surrounds it, President Jonathan’s directive to the Attorney-General of the Federation on the report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, as adopted by the House of Representatives, subsists.

Adding that the president expects all those indicted in the report, to be duly investigated and prosecuted, if a prima facie case is established against them.

Democracy Day lecture: Jonathan, Tambuwal trade words over failed policies

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday engaged the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, in war of words over who is responsible for the failure of government’s policies – the executive or the legislature – at a one-day symposium to mark this year’s Democracy Day celebration.

Both the president and the speaker took turns at the symposium to blame each other for the failure of government’s policies.

Mr Tambuwal who was the first to speak, accused the president of deliberately refusing to assent to bills passed by the National Assembly.

“In as much as it is the constitutional role of the legislature to pass laws, it is equally the constitutional responsibility of Mr President to assent to same; It is however disturbing to note that the Executive had shied away from its responsibility by not assenting to bills passed by the national assembly,” he said.

The Speaker said that the refusal of the president to sign the bills passed by the National Assemble was responsible for the rancour between the executive and legislature.

He accused the president of usurping its powers to appropriate spending as guaranteed by the 1999 constitution.

“In the people’s wisdom as enunciated in the 1999 Constitution as amended, the legislature has the final say on the budget document. The National Assembly has acted responsibly and consciously in exercise of its power in the belief that the Executive will come to terms to fulfil their action before long,” Mr Tambuwal said.

“The Executive arm is made up of only two elected functionaries to wit, the President and the Vice President, whereas the National Assembly is a body of 469 elected functionaries, the adage that says two heads are better than one, does not refute the one that says he who wears the shoes know better where it pinches, and both favour the position of the elected representatives,” he added.

Jonathan fires back

Reacting to the comments of the speaker, President Jonathan said used the sitting arrangement in the venue of the symposium to explain the cause of the rancour between the executive and the legislative.

The sitting arrangement in the auditorium had the lawmakers sitting at one end, the executive at another end and the judiciary at a separate end.

“The setting alone is one of the greatest problems we have in Nigeria. You start creating divisions that don’t exit,” he said.

Responding to accusation of tardiness in his handling of bills from the National Assembly, Mr Jonathan said separation of power is a challenge to politicians from the same political party.

He accused the National Assembly of creating unnecessary parastatals without considering the source of funding for such agencies.

“Most of the bills passed by the National Assembly only adds to our overhead cost; We are in office because the people have elected us, so if you come up with some parastatals, the source of funding you don’t even know, it becomes a problem,” he said.

“The Speaker also said budget is a law, and the National Assembly makes the law, But the constitution says the president has to plan and manage the economy of this country, and for you to plan and manage the economy of a country, budget must be planned, if you send the budget to the National Assembly and they tear it into pieces, and package whatever they like back to you, is that planning or managing the economy?,” Mr Jonathan asked.

The president said the Executive almost went to the Supreme Court to seek an interpretation of who really is in charge of budgets.

“I remember when we came in 2007, we even wanted to go court, our believe was that let the Supreme Court of Nigeria tell us if it is the duty of the National Assembly to plan the economy; let them do the budget, handover to us, we will implement, But if it is our duty to plan the budget, then you should listen to us, because the executive arm of government have the National Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance and the CBN. Budgets are not just created from the moon, it takes some projections based on commitment and funding,” he said.

He cautioned the lawmakers to stop criticizing the executive arm of government openly but instead cooperate with it for the good of the country.
“If we begin to see this clear division, then you are also exposing the National Assembly to people who are anti-government to use”.

“There is theoretical separation of powers, but where the executive and the legislature come from the same political party, they must work together for democracy to be meaningful to Nigerians”.

“No matter how bad you feel about any situation, you just follow the rule of law, when an elected president fails to follow the rule of law, and then there is no democratic setting again.”

Reps urge Jonathan to release LG funds

The House of Representatives has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to direct the release of funds to the 15 local governments’ councils where the state of emergency is imposed.

The president had in December 2011, declared a state of emergency in three northern states of Niger, Borno and Yobe in the wake of bombings and killings by the Boko Haram sect in the local governments.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal said the aim of the emergency rule in the councils is to facilitate the restoration of security and orderliness and not to starve the councils of their allocations.