Lawyer Tasks INEC, Security Agencies On Adequate Planning

Lawyer Tasks INEC, Security Agencies On Adequate PlanningA Nigerian lawyer, Chukwuma Ezeala, has blamed the incident that led to the declaration of the Bayelsa governorship election inconclusive on poor preparation and planning on the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies.

Mr Ezeala on Sunrise Daily on Tuesday stressed that the violence recorded in Bayelsa could have been averted if the INEC and security agencies had before the election carried out a visibility study of the area to underscore the chances of violence and nip it before the election.

He said: “Places with issues like Southern Ijaw should be militarised.

“We should at this time pay more attention to some early warnings to guaranty that people will come out to vote, that ballot boxes will not be missing or hijacked and that a popular person wins an election in an area”.

The lawyer also pointed out that security agencies in Nigeria do not work together, a situation he said had made crime thrive in some areas.

“The police are on their own, the civil defence on their own and even the SSS is also on their own. If they have coordination, you will see that information from the State Security Service can be used by the military and they can even mop up arms.

“If need be you will move the battalion to the trouble spot to ensure that no group will be able to carry out their plans,” he stated, emphasising the need for cooperation and sharing of information between security agencies.

Mr Ezeala further stated that the violence that was recorded in the election was also as a result of failure in the system.

“It is all about a failed system. Most times you see that brilliant people that can plan do not take part in the act. They plan and then give others to execute. There is a complete breakdown of order in the system. That is why we suggest that we should go back to the basics.

“When we go back to the basics, we will pick up the right people.

“When you allow some of these brilliant brains to waste, they go into criminality and it becomes difficult for you to handle them,” he emphasised.

Malfunctioning Card Readers

On whether the INEC had improved in its election handling since the general election held in March and April, Mr Ezeala said: “I don’t think that the electoral body has moved forward from where they were in the March and April elections”.

He based his opinion on the fact that there were also cases of malfunctioning card readers, with the former President, Goodluck Jonathan, witnessing the same card reader failure that he experience during the general elections.

“I don’t understand why we should be talking about card readers working or not working in a state election when ordinarily we should have brought other card readers.

“They had information about this election, they planned for it, they would have thought of what type of technology or what to do going by the mistakes they made in Kogi.

“One week would have been enough for them to plan better and ensure that these mistakes do not happen again,” Mr Ezeala further pointed out.

He asked the INEC to look at its election reports and address the issues earlier identified during the general election and now the Kogi and Bayelsa elections, to ensure they would not reoccur.

The lawyer further condemned the recurrence of inconclusive election declarations, emphasising that man-hour and tax payers’ money were being wasted on supplementary elections.

We Are Not Calling For Postponement Of Elections – Senate

Eyinnaya_AbaribeThe Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Information, Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe, has debunked insinuations that the Senate is calling for the postponement of elections, insisting that members of the upper legislative chamber were only contributing to a motion raised on the security situation of the country.

He added that “after a debate, what usually comes next is the outcome of the resolution and in the resolution there was no mention of the postponement of the election.

“What the resolution stated was that we support the total declaration against the insurgents within the north east and the rest of Nigeria”.

Sen Abaribe further said the Senate has mandated its leadership to meet with the President “and work out whatever is needed for the prosecution of the total war against insurgents”.

He also noted that the request by President Jonathan to obtain a $1 billion loan to prosecute the war against terror “is receiving attention” explaining that “the process is that the request is sent to a committee; and in this case, two committees were requested to look into it and were given one week to come back with their report.

“The committees are the Committee of Finance and Committee of Foreign and Local Debt, because it is going to be a debt that the country will have to pay”, he said, adding that the Senate will debate on the resolution of the committees before deciding whether to approve the request.

He urged Nigerians to exercise patience as the Senate is trying to make sure the request goes through the proper channel to avoid approving the request illegally.

The Senate Spokesman also noted that “the position of the Senate is that we can no longer continue to feel that this is confined to a part of Nigeria” adding that “this affects each and every one of us within the country called Nigeria and there must be a national effort to deal with this”.

He however noted that “once you have given the President full war power, that will include both military and economic sanctions against anybody aiding and abetting the insurgents” insisting that “nothing is off the table”.

On the outcome of the National Conference, Senator Abaribe said the Senate is waiting for “presidential communication on what what has come from the conference; that is the process, and when we have an official communication from the president, in terms of either a bill or an amendment on the existing constitution, we will surely consider it”, he maintained, while speaking via phone on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

Chukwuma_Ezeala
Chukwuma Ezeala

A legal practitioner, Chukwuma Ezeala, however argued that some of the resolutions reached by the delegates at the conference are issues of policy which the executive arm of government can implement “because they do not infringe on the present constitution as we have it.

“These are things that will have to go into the amendment of the constitution”, he said, also on Sunrise Daily on Thursday.

He noted that there are two schools of thought debating over what should be done with the outcome of the National Conference, noting that, while some are of the opinion that the resolutions of the conference should be sent to the National Assembly for proper legislative action in accordance with our present constitution, others want it to be put to a referendum.

He stressed the importance of Sections 8 and 9 of the 1999 Constitution on the amendment of the same  constitution, “which says that most parts of the Constitution can be amended by two third majority of the National Assembly but upon concurrence of two third states”.

He said states creation will be a serious aspect of the resolutions “for us to go into” because four-fifth will amend upon concurrence of two third of the states.

“The fact that most of the resolutions of the National Conference will also border on how the National Assembly works, how the State Assemblies work, how the governors work, touches the system”, Ezeala said, adding that, “I don’t see us making progress before the end of this (legislative) year because of elections”.

He said most of them will be trying to regain their seats in the assemblies and “that is why they left, during the recess, and are not thinking of anything because they want to be part of that election”.

Osun Election: INEC’s Improvement Is Restoring Confidence – Ezeala

Osun Election

An international election observer, Chukwuma Ezeala, has described the performance of  Nigeria’s, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in the governorship election held on Saturday in Osun State, as a continuous improvement of their performance in previous elections. 

Mr Ezeala said that the INEC succeeded in ensuring that the election was free and fair.

On Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, on Monday, the election observer stressed that the election had left several lessons for Nigeria to learn ahead of the 2015 general elections.

According to him, “if elections continue to turn out this way, electorates will have confidence to come and vote for the candidate of their choice”.

“The first confidence would be in INEC which has demonstrated over time that it is relatively impartial and the issue of insecurity that they have succeeded in controlling”.

He further said that the four components of the electoral system – the electoral body, political party’s, electorate and the security agencies – all had a role to play to achieve success in the 2015 elections.

He explained that the electorates, who were mobilised in the Osun election, still needed to be educated on the election process.

“The political parties don’t seem to be making any progress,”  he said, emphasising that they are still at the same stage they were years ago.

He praised the security agents, as they ensured law and order in Osun State, recalling that there were  few cases of thuggery or violence.

However, he, stressed  the need for offenders to be prosecuted, as it would help in ensuring order during the 2015 presidential election were there would not be enough security operatives in all the states.

He recommended  that the electoral commission  should begin plans to ensure that the 2015 general election would be a recorded success.

National Conference: Real Issues Are Corruption And Ethnic Differences – Ezeala

A Legal Practitioner, Chukwuma Ezeala, has recommended that the National Conference must have real representation of Nigeria’s 6 geo-political zones, for it to truly address the issues confronting the country.

While speaking on Channels Televison flagship breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’, he noted that since the year 1964, the main issues confronting Nigeria had bothered on corruption and ethnic differences.

While admitting that leadership was also an issue, he argued that one of the reasons Nigeria has not had good leadership was because of the ethnic problems, explaining that the ethnic problems affect the way the leaders emerge.

He explained how ethnic groups determine who should be the Nigerian President and also influence who would be Ministers to work with him. He claimed that it has also been ethnicity that had shielded corruption over the years.

Mr Ezeala, however, suggested that this situation does not require that the National Conference be tagged ethnic. He said that what Nigerians must ensure is that issues of ethnicity are discussed. He said: “If we already have accepted to 6 geo-political zones, why don’t we make sure that there is real representation of those 6 geo-political zones, which represents the ethnic issues and which has fairly equal representation?”

On the issues of a “no go area”, the lawyer said: “If we must discuss how we are going to live, first thing will be to affirm that we want to live as one country. I think that 90% of Nigerians want us to be together, so why are you avoiding it?

“Let it be that for the first time, Nigerians have said they want to live together.

“Now, the next question is yes we want to live together but how do we live together? Is it possible for an Ondo man to come to Lagos and become the Governor of Lagos State? I think it should be possible if he is the most qualified…but we need to agree because my own view should not be the view of Nigerians.

“We should come in, discuss, decide this and we now give it a print of authority to say this is what Nigerians have done, and any president and any leader can now enforce it and not say that it was Decree 24 that brought us together and decreed how we should live.”

In a show of cautious optimism, Mr Ezeala expressed confidence that the constitution of the National Conference has the ingredients to address the Nigerian issues once and for all, provided that at the end of the conference there is a written agreement which would make it easy for political leaders to enforce the people’s resolution.

He also suggested that the National Assembly should pass a law that would enable the outcomes of the National Conference to go through a referendum, and if they are not ready to do so, the Conference could recommend or decide that what they had done should go through a referendum.

He also spoke about the structure of the representation at the conference as it affects the body of lawyers in Nigeria.

Advisory Committee Report Doesn’t Need NASS Approval – Ezeala

Chukwuma Ezeala.A Nigerian Lawyer has emphasised that the report of the Advisory Committee on the proposed National Conference must not be subjected to the National Assembly to make it legal.

While speaking on Sunrise Daily, Mr. Chukwuma Ezeala said that the role the National Assembly should play would be to amend the constitution to accommodate the process.

“We do not need to subject the report to the National Assembly to make it legal. The National Assembly along with the State Assembly will only need to amend the section that provided for the amendment of the constitution and bring in the issue of subjecting the conference to a referendum. As it is now, the constitution did not provide for a referendum.

If you want to subject the decision to be together to the people then it will be done through a referendum. If you do a referendum, it will violate the constitution because it does not provide that there will have to be a referendum,” he said.

He pointed out that Nigerians were not asked what they wanted before the amalgamation in 1914.

‘Disintegration Not The Issue’

Mr Ezeala stressed that disintegration is the issue, but added that the need for Nigerians to be together should be looked into.

“Many of us (Nigerians) want us to be together. The South-west, South-South, the North and other regions want to be part of Nigeria, but if we continue to say, ‘don’t discuss it,’ that is where the problem will be.

“The conference is expected to look at issues of ethnic nationality and religion. Nigerians should decide what they want and come out with what they want.”

The legal practitioner was also of the view that the committee should advise the President on whether the document should be taken to the National Assembly or not.

“The only way we could have an autochthonous constitution – constitution from the people – which should be the basis of a nation being together, is by way of such conference going to the people directly without approval.

“People that will go for this conference, however, should not contest any election in the next 10 years. If they will contest for any political position in the next 10 years, it means they will go there to think of how they will benefit from the agreement they will reach,” he emphasised.

Constitution Is Not Clear On Duration For Transfer of Power-Lawyer

A legal practitioner and public affairs commentator, Mr Chukwuma Ezeala today blamed the constitution for failing to out rightly state the time which a government official can stay away from official duty.

“The express letters of the constitution did not say how long, the express letters of the constitution could as well mean four years”. He said

Comparing the situation to the American system, Mr Ezeala said the American system permits the Deputy, Vice or Assistant of an office holder to transmit a letter transferring power to himself in the absence of the holder of that office so far his the consent of the majority of the executive council.

This, he said , in Nigeria will require the consent of two third majority.

However, if the holder of the office is in stable condition, the constitution also permits that he writes to the assembly notifying them of his condition to properly carry out the functions of the office.

Ezeala wondered why Nigeria, who claims to be copying its presidential system of government from America, copy’s the system in “such a way that is detrimental to our own system knowing the kind of people that we are, knowing the kind of people that have seized power for a long time”.

He proposed that officials occupying offices in acting capacity should liaise with the assembly to sack the executives, supposedly not loyal, and appoint new one to carry out the needed function of the offices in the interest of the people.

He cited the encumbrances that hampered the smooth operation of the government during the acting days of President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency as a clear example.

In his words “When President Jonathan was an acting president, sometimes we had some of these thing  that he would ask a minister to do this and he would not do that. Some of the ministers were approving things without referring it to the executive council”.

Legal Practitioner Blames Military For Culture of Impunity

A legal practitioner, Mr Chukwuma Ezeala today blamed the military for orchestrating the culture of impunity in Nigeria.

Ezeala, who traced the existence of exempting some persons from punishment to 1960, was speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

“It is very prevalent; it has been existing since 1960 till date. If you recall from the government of Tafawa Balewa then into the military”.

He pointed to the Bababngida regime as the main culprit “The military seem to have orchestrated it. Like during the Babangida regime, it became a culture, it became almost a way of life”.

He however commended the regimes of late General Murtala Mohammed and General Muhammadu Buhari for trying to stop the act.

He described as “unfortunate” the return of democracy in 1999 through a military in civilian clothes.

Citing the abduction of former governor of Anambra state and now Senator Chris Ngige and how his then abductors have gone unpunished.

NASS’s Resolutions Do Not Bind Executives – Chukwuma Ezeala

Lawyer, Chukwuma Ezeala while speaking on Channels Television’s Breakfast Show Sunrise Daily, on Friday stated that the National Assembly’s resolution to remove the Director General of Security and Exchange Commission, Aruma Oteh is not binding on her.

Mr. Ezeala explained that resolutions of the House do not bind the Executives and that only laws passed by the National Assembly is binding on them.

“If the preposition of the DG qualification is a problem then the court should be notified to find out what should be the qualification?” He said; calling it an “interpretation of status.”

He referred to the 2013 Appropriation Act which states that, “all revenues however described including all fees received fines, grants, and all internally generated and external generated revenues shall not be spent by the SEC for capital purposes or any other matters except prior, appropriation and approval by the National Assembly.”

He disclosed that the way out is if the presidency or the Senate and Executive feels the exercise of discretion of appointing the DG is right, they should insist on their right and if the House of Rep maintains things weren’t done properly, then they should go to court for proper interpretation.

 

Reps Cannot Remove Oteh – Chukwuma Ezeala

A legal practitioner Chukwuma Ezeala has said that the House of Representative does not have the power to remove the director general of Security and Exchange Commission, Aruma Oteh; stating that the Senate alone can do so.

Speaking about the House of Representative’s call to remove Oteh, Mr. Ezeala explained that the appointment was made by the president and thereafter sent to the Senate, not the national assembly, for confirmation.

Hence, the removal can only be done through the Senate.

He added that Oteh can’t be removed except they follow the due process is adhered to.

He also disclosed that one of the reasons given by the House of Reps is that she (Oteh) wasn’t qualified to be appointed.

Mr. Ezeala explained the process of appointment adding that, the executive felt she was qualified before presenting her to the Senate. The senate after looking at all the credentials felt she was qualified, then they approved the appointment.