The former interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adebisi Akande, says a total change of the country’s constitution is the solution to the problems facing the country.
Akande stated this on Tuesday in his home town, Ila-Orangun in Osun State as he marked his 79th birthday.
He told journalists that no solution proffered to the country’s problems would work under the current system.
“In Nigeria’s Presidential System of government, lawmakers are elected on party platforms, but as soon as they get to the parliament, the party on which platform they get the opportunity, becomes less important,” he said.
“All that is important at that level is the collective interest of the members of that parliament. Party’s programmes and manifestos are no longer important. That has been the major problem facing the country. Let’s dump this corrupt presidential system and go for the more transparent Parliamentary System.”
Akande experienced the dangers of the current system of government during his time as a governor.
He said, “As a governor in 1999, my administration worked with a parliament that had 26 members all voted in on the platform of my party. Despite this, the assembly decided not to support the programmes of the party that gave them an opportunity.
“They served me impeachment notice. On the day the motion was moved, 24 members all from my party voted in support of my removal, one voted against it and the Speaker did not vote.
“I was given 21 days. On the day they sat again on the matter, 13 said no to my impeachment and 12 said I should be removed. The Speaker did not vote. Same party that produced the lawmakers also produced me as governor. I believe, even if an angel is sent to administer this kind of unworkable system, he will fail.”
While advocating a multi-party parliamentary democracy for Nigeria, the elder statesman said that the current system of government allows for manipulation by those in the positions of authorities.
He believes the President Muhammadu Buhari has faced setbacks as a result of the system.
According to Akande, President Muhammad Buhari is working under a very difficult situation with the unworkable and ineffective system.
To address the security challenges in the country, he called for a decentralised police.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has advised all agitators in the country to pursue their interest through constitutional means.
The Federal lawmakers which have been away for their annual recess for seven-week resumed plenary session on Tuesday.
After a three-hour closed-door meeting during which they discussed some national issues, Saraki said part of the resolutions reached by the Senate is that the Unity of Nigeria not negotiable and all forms of agitation should be channeled through constitutional means.
“The unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. We are all fully committed to the territorial integrity of our country. The Senate will seek all possible avenues to make sure that peace is restored in all parts of Nigeria.
“Finally the Senate hereby advise that all groups seeking to pursue any agitation should do so through constitutional means.”
Saraki said the unity of Nigeria is the responsibility of all Nigerians and members of the country must jointly condemn in strongest possible terms all forms of violence.
“Distinguished colleagues, a house divided against itself will not stand. More than ever before, we must stand for the unity in the visibility of our country. We must condemn in strongest possible terms all forms of violence as a form of engagement.
“The constitution and the law has laid down tools and procedures for us to pursue our interest as all democratic nations do.”
During the plenary that followed, the Senate also considered a motion on the inadequate releases of funds for the capital component of the 2017 appropriation act.
A pan-Edo and Delta states socio-political pressure group known as Mid-West Movement has recommended the 1963 Constitution as the suitable template for restructuring Nigeria.
The group made the recommendation on Wed nesday during its maiden press conference since its emergence in Benin City, the Edo state capital.
The interim management committee chairman of the group, Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki, issued an eight-point demand to the Federal Government concerning the various calls for the restructuring of the country.
“The Nigerian Federation as currently structured must be deconstructed to be reconstructed through a re-federalisation process, using the 1963 Constitution as the acceptable template”.
According to Dr. Obaseki, although the people of Edo and Delta states will not support any move that can threaten the sovereignty of Nigeria, there is, however, a need for a reconstruction of the Nigerian federation.
He also pointed out some other demands by the group which included that the Federal Government should take all ‘just and equitable’ measures to reign in divisive elements while providing avenues for the peaceful coexistence of the entire Nigerian people wherever they choose to live.
The group, however, warned the government against taking its advice for granted, threatening that the people of the region would stand as a territory on their own.
They further called on the government to live up to its constitutional role of ensuring the adequate security of lives and property of the people of Edo and Delta states from the agitators of secession.
“If the Federation of Nigeria fails to hold under the weight of government’s inability to play its constitutional role and because of the reckless actions of ethnic jingoists, the mid-west territorial area – comprising of its 12 tribes – shall employ, embrace and adopt every available international instruments, conventions and protocols to take its destiny into its own hands as a stand-alone territory to be called ‘Bendel Republic’, or any other such name or appellation our people so choose to adopt,” Obaseki stated.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the decision to replace the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the supplementary election slated for December 5, saying there is no provision for such in the constitution and the electoral law.
The party made its position known in a communiqué issued at the end of its emergency national caucus meeting on Wednesday.
In the communique signed by the party’s spokesman, Mr Olisa Metuh, the PDP responded to various statements that followed the death of Abubakar Audu, including that of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.
Mr Abubakar said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) could substitute its candidate, who died a day after the November 21 poll, in the supplementary elections.
The party insists that with the death of the APC candidate, Abubakar Audu, the APC has legally crashed out of the governorship race, and that has left INEC with no other lawful option than to declare the PDP candidate, Captain Idris Wada as the winner of the election.
The PDP noted that if the APC is allowed to substitute its original candidate, then the party would have fielded two separate candidates in the same election, a scenario that is completely alien to the electoral laws and to any known democratic norms and practice world-over.
Full Text: Communique Issued At The End Of The Emergency National Caucus Meeting Of The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Held On Wednesday, November 25, 2015
The National Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 in Abuja wherein it thoroughly considered the developments arising from the conduct of the inconclusive governorship election in Kogi State and resolved as follows:
1) Completely rejects the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in yielding to the unlawful prompting of a clearly partisan Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, to allow APC to substitute a candidate in the middle of an election, even when such has no place in the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
2) Insists that with the death of its candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC has legally crashed out of the governorship race as no known law or constitutional provision allows the substituting of candidates, once the ballot process has commenced.
3) Insists that with the unfortunate death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC has no valid candidate in the election, leaving INEC with no other lawful option than to declare the PDP candidate, Captain Idris Wada as the winner of the election.
4) Notes that the combine reading of the provisions of the constitution and Electoral Act does not in any war whatsoever support the substitution of candidates for election in the middle of the ballot process.
5) Notes that if APC is allowed to substitute its original candidate, then the party would have fielded two separate candidates in the same election, a scenario that is completely alien to our electoral laws and to any known democratic norms and practice world-over.
6) Caucus observes that the APC, fully aware that it has no case before the law is now orchestrating confusion in the polity with a view to diverting attention from its glaring incompetence and failure of governance.
7) Observes that the leadership of INEC as presently constituted under the Chairmanship of Professor Mahmood Yakubu has demonstrated that it is incapable of neutrality and as such cannot be vested with the conduct of the Kogi governorship supplementary election as well as the December 5, 2015 Bayelsa governorship election.
8) As a result, caucus demands the immediate resignation of the chairman and all national commissioners of INEC to pave the way for a new non-partisan commission to conduct the forth-coming elections.
9) Caucus also demands the immediate resignation of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, for deliberately misleading INEC into arriving at the unconstitutional decision of allowing APC to substitute its candidate in the inconclusive election.
10) Notes that in order to save the nation’s democracy from imminent collapse, the PDP as a critical stakeholder will immediately challenge this unlawful and unconstitutional decision by INEC in the court.
11) Caucus also alerts that the AGF, INEC and APC are creating a scenario where a loser in a primary will patiently wait for the winning candidate to finish election and then have him either poisoned or assassinated before the final collation of results.
12) Caucus calls on the international community to prevail on the APC government to stop this ceaseless assault on our democracy.
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians, especially those resident in the northeast that the Federal Government will defend the right to freedom of worship.
He made this statement while reacting to the latest attack by the Boko Haram terrorist group at a Redeemed Church in Potiskum, Yobe State, that claimed six lives.
According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, Buhari believes terrorists who deliberately attack places of worship, “have willfully declared war on all that we value”.
”President Buhari deeply regrets the unfortunate loss of lives in the attack and commiserates with all those who lost loved ones in the incident which also caused needless injury to others and damage to the church building.
”The President wholly condemns the resumption of attacks by terrorists on places of worship which are highly revered places of prayer and communion with God for most Nigerians.
”Nigerians are a very religious people and President Buhari believes that the terrorists who wantonly attack our places of worship have willfully declared war on all that we value, and must therefore be confronted with all our might and collective resolve.
”The President reaffirms his administration’s total commitment to doing everything possible to eradicate Boko Haram, terrorism and mindless extremism from Nigeria in the shortest possible time.
”President Buhari assures all Nigerians that terrorism will ultimately be defeated and full security restored in all parts of the country for people to safely practice their respective faiths with liberty wherever they may reside in the nation.
”The Constitution gives all Nigerians that right and the present Administration will deploy all required force and resources to protect citizens’ right to freedom of worship.
A Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, has refused an application brought by four registered political parties, seeking to restrain the electoral commission from using Smart Card Readers in the conduct of the general elections.
The United Democratic Party, Action Alliance, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria and Alliance for Democracy filed the suit.
The parties, through their counsel Alex Iziyon, told the court that the proposed use of the readers was contrary to the provisions of the constitution, as well as the amended 2010 Electoral Act.
In the suit, the political parties challenged the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to introduce a process not specifically provided for in the constitution, as it prepares for the rescheduled polls.
Mr Iziyon told the court that the Electoral Act, in section 52(1), prohibited electronic voting, but that the electoral body had gone ahead to introduce electronic voter’s card reader.
The counsel urged the court to temporarily restrain the INEC from implementing the use of the card reader machine in the forthcoming elections, pending the determination of the suit.
He further urged the court to bridge the time within which INEC would be allowed to file a response, in view of the nature of the case which according to him had a robust electoral jurisprudence.
In his ruling on the exparte motion, the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, noted that the political parties had shown that they had legal rights, showing that the case is triable, but observed that the parties would not suffer any irreparable harm if the electoral body is given the opportunity to be heard before the interim orders being sought could be granted.
Consequently, the court declined to make any interim orders against INEC on the proposed use of the Smart Card Readers.
However, it abridged the time for INEC to file its response to four days, after receiving court papers on the matter.
Hearing on the substantive motion on notice was thereafter adjourned until Tuesday, Mar 10.
INEC To Test Card reader
In a statement on Monday, the INEC said it will conduct a field testing of the functionality of the Smart Card Readers to be deployed for the accreditation of voters on Election Day. The General Elections was re-scheduled for March 28 and April 11.
According to the Commission’s Decision Extract issued on February 26 and signed by the Director of the Commission’s Secretariat, Ishiaku Gali, the field testing will take place in two states of each of the six geopolitical zones of the federation.
He said the testing would take place simultaneously on Saturday, March 7.
The states selected for the exercise are: Ekiti and Lagos, South West; Anambra and Ebonyi, South East; Delta and Rivers, South South; Kano and Kebbi, North West; Bauchi and Taraba, North East; Niger and Nasarawa, North Central.
The Economic Communities Of West African States (ECOWAS) has appealed to Nigerians and all the major gladiators in the Nigeria’s presidential election to be calm and show understanding and respect to the constitution, as the oil rich nation prepares for its general elections.
The President of the ECOWAS, Mr Kadre Ouedraogo, made the appeal at a meeting with Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, in Abuja on Monday.
At the meeting, Mr Ouedraogo presented a document he called the findings and recommendations of the commission towards a peaceful conduct of elections to President Jonathan.
According to him, the ECOWAS has been monitoring situation in Nigeria following the postponement of the election date and has been meeting with the major presidential candidates to intimate them on their findings.
The meeting with the ECOWAS President came after President Jonathan had met with the European Union observer group led by Mr Santiago Fisas.
President Jonathan assured the group that the May 29 handover date was sacrosanct.
The leader of the EU election observer group, Mr Santiago Fisas, told reporters that they were in the presidential villa to exchange views with the president about the elections.
He said that the group had met with the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Mohammadu Buhari.
The president also told the EU commission that there was no room for interim National government as being speculated in some quarters saying that those who are talking about that were just being mischievous.
“That is not the agenda of government,” president Jonathan said.
Addressing a gathering in Ogun State, after he withdrew his membership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, Obasanjo said: “Anybody in his right senses talks of interim government. Where is it in our constitution? But some of them are working for it. God will not allow them”.
A political scientist on Friday said the realities on ground do not support the claims of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it was ready for the elections if they were held as earlier scheduled.
Professor Femi Otunbanjo, who is also a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, said that the INEC had not been able to manage the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and other logistics well ahead of the elections.
“The card readers and many other technical issues are in ponderables and we are not sure that they will work.
“The INEC promised that they will conduct the best election using the PVCs and the card readers. They have not been able to manage the logistics to distribute the materials,” he said.
Professor Otunbanjo suggested that the IENC should revert to the old way of voting, with the Temporary Voter Cards (TVC).
“There is a problem, but I think that the solution will be to remove the card readers, save time, pick people as they come and let those who have the TVCs come and vote. Really, we can combine both. There is no reason that they cannot be combined.
“In the circumstance, there is nothing bad with going back to the old way. It is not necessarily retrogressing. If you cannot manage an innovation, then you better stay where you are. If you cannot manage it to create a credible election. Already, INEC has issues with distribution of PVCs,” the political scientist.
He said the INEC had failed against the background of the earlier scheduled date of February 14, insisting that the electoral body was responsible for the shift in the election date.
“INEC was still training and distributing PVCs because they were not ready. When will they distribute efficiently. They were responsible for the shift basically because they were not ready.
“As at this week, they have distributed 57 per cent for the whole of the south, that is average and 87 per cent for the north. When will they distribute to enable everybody participate fairly in the election that is meant to be free and fair.
“You cannot claim to have a credible election with the percentage of distribution. The evidence does not support their claims and the reality is that INEC was not ready.”
Professor Jega said that the Presidential Election would hold on March 28 while the Governorship election would hold on April 11.
At a press briefing after the last meeting for the day between Professor Jega and other top officials of the INEC, Professor Jega said that the commission’s decision was not influenced by any group or individuals.
“We have done wide reaching consultations to enable us have as much input as necessary before taking an informed decision.
“In the series of consultations that we had with stakeholders, the questions constantly posed to them for consideration are; in view of the latest developments, should INEC proceed with the conduct of the general elections as scheduled in spite of the strong advice and if so, what alternative security arrangements are available to be put in place.
“The second is; should INEC take the advice of the security chiefs and adjust the schedules of the general elections within the framework of the constitutional provisions,” Professor Jega said.
The Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, had called on Nigerians to maintain peace, following the rescheduled date of the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“Any act of violence can only complicate the security challenges in the country and provide further justification to those who would want to exploit every situation to frustrate the democratic process,” Buhari said.
Buhari perceived the election postponement to be as a result of pressure from the opposition, saying; “it is important to note that although INEC acted within its constitutional powers, it is clear that it has been boxed into a situation where it had to bow to pressure”.
He also said that the presidential and state level elections on March 28 and April 11 must now be sacrosanct and that the party would not tolerate any further interference in the vote.
“What they (security forces) cannot do in 6 years, they cannot do in 6 weeks,” he emphasised.
Foreign nations are observing proceedings in Nigeria and have raised concerns over possibilities of violence, but the presidential candidates of different political parties have signed a peace accord to be committed to non-violence before, during and after the elections.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was deeply disappointed by the election postponement and criticised “political interference” in the election process. Britain also voiced concerns about the election postponement.
The electoral commission said the decision was taken after wide-reaching consultations, citing the advice of security operatives for a shift in the election date to put adequate security in place in the north-east before the elections.
Members Boko Haram terrorist group have taken over territories in the north-east in an attempt to establish an Islamic state. Nigeria’s army has been restive, with Chad now sending in troops to assist while Cameroon has been pushing back incursions into its territory.
The poll poll would place incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan, of the Peoples Democratic Party against former military ruler Buhari of the (APC) in what is likely to be the most hotly contested election since the end of military rule in 1999.
Earlier on Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan said he was committed to May 29 as the terminal date of his first term in office and also called for calm.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on Wednesday berated the culture of parading suspects by Nigerian law enforcement agencies, noting that only poor citizens were treated in such ways.
Falana, who was a guest on Sunrise Daily, described the act of parading suspects who have not been pronounced guilty by the Court, as illegal.
“Apart from the EFCC and the Customs, all law enforcement agencies in Nigeria engage in the illegal parade of criminal suspects,” he said, explaining that the act is “prejudicial to the right of the accused person’s right to fair hearing.
“When you arrest a suspect, before investigation, or in the middle of investigation, or even upon conclusion of investigation, you rush to the media to parade them (suspects) and tell the whole world (that), they’ve made confessions and statements.”
The trend, he said is contrary to the provisions of the right to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.
Falana went further to state that the illegal act was a “class matter” as the agencies usually parade poor individuals.
“If you look at it, it’s a class matter. You only parade the poor. I’ve never seen a situation where a former governor or a big shot in the society was paraded.”
“It’s limited to the poor. Armed robbery suspects, 419 boys (not the big ones), yahoo yahoo boys and ordinary people; but with respect to the rich, you dare not do that.”
Falana recounted an occasion when late Afrobeats icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, was paraded by the NDLEA, noting that, “that organisation regretted the action because we went to court and sued for colossal damages”.
“At that time (I think 1997) we were asking the NDLEA to pay a 100 million Naira for parading Fela”, who had signed an exhibit form and added “in chains” to show that he had signed under duress.
According to Falana, the prosecution team was forced to beg that the case be settled out of court, as Fela had made a mockery of the system.
The lawyer stated that the act of parading a suspect could be described as “trial by media”, noting that, upon conclusion of investigations, it may be revealed that the suspect is innocent and so he may be released, because he has not been charged to court.
The Police, or the State Security Service or any of the other agencies have no power to pronounce the guilt or otherwise of a suspect, because under our law, there is presumption of innocence which is in favour of a suspect.”
Hence, until a suspect is pronounced guilty or otherwise by a Court, after having gone through a trial, you dare not pronounce guilt, Falana noted, adding that most of the confessional statements obtained by the agencies are not admissible in court, because they are obtained by torture and all manner of illegal means.
Speaking on the Nigerian justice system, Falana talked about several laws which are not respected by security agencies, especially when poor people are concerned.
He noted that although it is not compulsory for persons taken to the Police Station to write statements, officers are known for torturing people who choose not to write them.
He also said that although the law allows an accused person to seek counsel from his lawyer before making any statement, the Police is known to bar lawyers from meeting their clients at the police station.
“All these rights are not respected, with respect to the poor but when it comes to the rich, you talk of “invitation”. You don’t invite the poor. You invade their houses and arrest them; But when the EFCC, the Police wants to have what they call interaction with a big man or a big woman, you write politely”, he said.
A Legal Practitioner, Ikechukwu Ikeji, says the Police raid on the Save Rivers Movement rally in Port-Harcourt on Sunday, January 12, may be justifiable under the Nigerian Constitution.
He threw his weight behind the point of view that everybody’s right of association is guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution and those rights of association “include the right to hold demonstrations and sundry kinds of rallies.”
He, however, noted that Section 45 of the same constitution goes further to derogate from that right by saying that “nothing in the constitution or in some of the sections mentioned, including the right to freedom of association shall render invalid any law that is made by the National Assembly, that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society for the interest of public safety.”
He explained that this implied that a law could be made by the National Assembly in any form to curtail some of those rights so as to ensure public safety.
He went further to state that the Police Act is such law that the National Assembly had made which curtails the citizens’ rights of association for the sake of ensuring public safety, law and order. This according to him, empowers the Police to step in if it sees “that a particular situation may be likely to result in breakdown of law and order.”
Ikeji was asked to clarify the key elements that the Police would need to identify for it to conclude that a situation may result in breakdown of law and order, he referred to antecedents as the key elements that the Police would need to consider. These include the volatility of the polity and the environment, the parties involved, and the prevailing security situation.
Ikechukwu made this assertion on Channels Television’s daily breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’.
He insisted that it would be left for the court to decide who was right or wrong in the Rivers State crisis.
Watch this video for more of Ikechukwu Ikeji’s arguments.