Court stops Trusfund Pension from appointing new Managing Director

The National Industrial Court on Tuesday stopped Trustfund Pension from appointing a new managing director pending the determination of a suit filed by a former Managing Director who is challenging his removal from office.

Justice A.O. Shogbola made the order following the argument of lawyer to the plaintiff, Bernard Nkem Ekwe that the pension firm was taking steps to appoint a new MD despite the fact that he is in court to challenge his removal.

Mr Ekwe had filed the suit at the Industrial Court claiming that he was unlawfully removed from office as managing director.

He asked the court to declare that he remained in office as managing director of the pension firm and entitled to be paid all wages, emoluments and other entitlements.

Trustfund has filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
But before arguments could be taken on the objection, the court ordered the parties to maintain the status quo that is the plaintiff should not appoint a new MD until Mr Ekwe’s case had been determined.

However, dissatisfied with the court’s ruling, Trustfund filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja asking the appellate court to set aside the lower court’s order stopping the firm from appointing a new MD.

In the appeal filed by Festus Keyamo, he said that the order stopping the firm from appointing new MD was given without jurisdiction.

He said that a challenge of the court’s jurisdiction robbed the court of the jurisdiction to hear any other application until the jurisdiction to hear the substantive suit was determined.

Reinstating Salami does not violate court process – Ejilibe

Udoka Ejilibe, a legal practitioner said on the issues surrounding Justice Salami’s recall that it is appalling that people are looking at the issues from the angle of politics as there is nothing subjudice about the office that is in court and the office of the judge.

Ejilibe said that Salami can be restored to office while the cases in court can be going on.

Court says Falana has no right to challenge lawmakers’ jumbo pay

Lawyer and Human Rights activist, Femi Falana filed a case challenging the members of the National Assembly of fixing scandalous emoluments for themselves in August 2010.

A Federal High Court on Tuesday ruled that lawyer and Human Rights activist, Femi Falana lacks the locus standi to challenge the powers of Federal lawmakers to award jumbo salaries and allowances to themselves.

Mr Falana had filed a case challenging the members of the National Assembly of fixing scandalous emoluments for themselves in August 2010.
In the substantive suit Mr Falana sought a declaratory relief to the effect that the members of the National Assembly are not entitled to receive any payment outside the salaries and allowances determined and fixed for them by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMAFC) pursuant to Section 70 of the Constitution.

In support of the originating summons, Mr Falana accused the Legislators of usurping the Constitutional powers of the RMFAC by taking advantage of passing Appropriation Bills into law to rank themselves the highest paid lawmakers in the world.

While relying on the case of Fawehinmi V The President (2008)23 WRN 65 Mr Falana urged the court to appreciate that the anachronistic doctrine of locus standi was discarded by the Court of Appeal when it declared illegal and unconstitutional the payment of salaries of two Ministers in dollars.

The plaintiff also submitted that his legal standing to promote good governance has been constitutionally guaranteed.

In opposing the suit, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the National Assembly through their counsels, Alex Izion and Kenneth Ikonne respectively, challenged the locus standi of Mr Falana to question the salaries and allowances of the Federal Lawmakers.

The defendants’ lawyers described Mr Falana as a busy body who has not shown that his personal interest has been affected by the jumbo pay of the legislators.

They therefore urged the trial court to dismiss the case on the authority of Abraham Adesanya V The President (1981) All NLR pg 1. Both the RMFAC and the Accountants who were joined in the action did not defend the suit.

In his judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, held that Mr Falana lacked the locus standi to institute the case as he did not prove that he had suffered any greater injury than other Nigerian citizens as a result of the action of the lawmakers.

However, in striking out the suit the Judge said Mr Falana ought to have complained to the RMFAC and that if the body failed to act he could then sue to compel it to carry out its duty under the Constitution.

Reacting to the judgment, Mr Falana said he would study the judgment and then decide whether to lodge a complaint with the RMAFC on the illegal jumbo pay or challenge the judgment on appeal since the learned Chief Judge of the Federal High Court conceded that it is the constitutional duty of the RMFAC to determine and fix the salaries and allowances of the legislators.

The reliefs sought by the plaintiff in the suit were:

1. A DECLARATION that the 1st and 2nd Defendants are entitled to receive such salaries and allowances determined by the 3rd Defendant pursuant to Section 70 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

2. A DECLARATION that the allowances provided for the members of the National Assembly in the Appropriation Act, 2010 are illegal, unconstitutional, null and void by virtue of Section 70 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

3. A DECLARATION that the 1st and 2nd Defendants are not competent to increase the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly through the Appropriation Act in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.

4. A DECLARATION that the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives is entitled to not more than the following six vehicles:
(i) 2 official cars
(ii) 1 Pilot
(iii) 1 Protocol Press
(iv) 1 Ambulance
(v) 1 Security

5. A DECLARATION that apart from the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, no other member of the National Assembly is entitled to an official car.

6. AN ORDER of PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the 4th and 5th Defendants, their agents, privies and servants from further paying unauthorized salaries and allowances to members of the National Assembly.

7. AN ORDER directing the 4th & 5th Defendants to deduct and pay into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the unauthorized salaries and allowances received by members of the National Assembly since May 29, 2007.

8. AN ORDER directing the 4th and 5th Defendants to retrieve all official cars from members of the 1st and 2nd Defendants apart from the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives sell them and pay the proceeds to the Consolidation Revenue Fund of the Federation forthwith.

We are paying PHCN for darkness – Paul Utho

A public affairs analyst, Paul Utho said the planned increase of electricity tariff by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is a sign of an irresponsible government.

Mr Utho while responsing to questions from the Sunrise Daily presenters said that the PHCN had increased electricity tariff over the years with no significant improvement in the quality of power supply.

“We are not saying we don’t want change, but we are against the way the government is going about imposing this change,” he said.

Lawyer blames infiltration of politics into Judiciary for controversies on Justice Salami

A lawyer, Ikechukwu Ikeji on Tuesday said that the case between the suspended President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Ayo Salami and the Nigeria Judicial Council was due to the infiltration of politics into the judiciary.

Mr Ikeji said this while speaking as a guest in Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He said the reinstatement of the Justice was due to the cry of lawyers and other Nigerians.

Capital Market Probe: The issues

On the Capital Market probe presently going on,Femi Ademola;Head of research at BGL group discussed several issues raised at the probe with our Business Morning presenter Esther ugbodaga via live phone-in.

Capital Market Downturn: A review of events necessary

Chinua Azubuike who is a financial lawyer also came on board for the discussion on the Capital Market Probe going on to rub minds with the our presenters on Sunrise Daily.

Fuel Subsidy Report:Those indicted should be prosecuted – Joel Odunmakin

A lot of controversies has greeted the fuel subsidy probe report submitted by the Farouk Lawan led-committee.

The Chairman of the committee that conducted the probe has claimed that there were calls from some quarters to influence the report.

The House of Representative has adopted some of the recommendations in the report while the debate is still going on some before the report will be passed to the executive arm of government for implementation.

In the studio of Sunrise Daily today, is the leader of Campaign for Democracy,Joel Okei Odumakin, to relate with the crew on the fuel subsidy report as the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) has issued a two-week ultimatum for the implementation of the report or a call of massive protest will be made by the group.

VIDEO: Full documentary on Nigerians jailed in China

Channels Television’s correspondent, Deji Bademosi dissects the problem of Nigerians in prison in various Chinese prison. He spoke with the families of the inmates, Human Right Activists, Non-governmental Organisations and a former inmate in a Chinese prison.

Watch the full documentary below:

Absence of defendant stalls Asa’s N700 million libel case

The case between soul singer, Bukola Elemide popularly known as Asa and Dockland Communications Services, publishers of News of the People, was stalled on Thursday due to the absence of the latter in court..

The singer had filed a N700 million suit against Dockland Communications Services over a story it published on December 14-22, 2009 edition of the magazine with the caption “Lesbianism trails Asa and Manager” which alleged that the two ladies were involved in a lesbian relationship.

The soul singer and her manager, in the suit, want the court to declare that the allegation of lesbianism against them was false, illegal and a violation of their rights. They also want the defendant restrained from further publication of malicious statements against them.

Justice A.J Coker had on Thursday, February 23, 2012 adjourned the case till Thursday April 26 after the claimants and her manager Janet Nwose were missing in court.

When the case came up before Justice Coker, the defendant’s counsel was not in court for the cross examination.

Lawyer to the singer expressed worry concerning the absence of the defendant’s counsel despite knowing that the claimants do not reside in the country.

“The matter is on fast track and the claimants do not reside in Nigeria,” he said.

Justice Coker adjourned further hearing on the matter to Thursday May 3.

Full Report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the subsidy regime in Nigeria

Following the removal of subsidy on PMS on the 1st day of January, 2012 by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the attendant spontaneous social and political upheavals that greeted the policy, the House of Representatives in an Emergency Session on the 8th of January, 2012 set up an Ad-hoc Committee to verify and determine the actual subsidy requirements and monitor the implementation of the subsidy regime in Nigeria.

The Federal Government had informed the nation of its inability to continue to pump endless rampant of money into the seemingly bottomless pit that was referred to as petroleum products subsidy. It explained that the annual subsidy payment was huge, endless and unsustainable. Nigerians were led to believe that the colossal payments made were solely on PMS and HHK actually consumed by Nigerians.

Government ascribed the quoted figures to upsurge in international crude price, high exchange rate, smuggling, increase in population and vehicles etc. However, a large section of the population faulted the premise of the Government subsidy figures, maintaining that unbridled corruption and an inefficient and wasteful process accounted for a large part of the payments.

To avert a clear and present danger of descent into lawlessness, the leadership of the House of Representatives took the “bold and decisive action of convening the first ever Emergency Session on a Sunday (8th January, 2012), and set up the,Ad-hoc Committee to verify the actual subsidy requirements of the country.

For a full report of the Ad-Hoc Committee click here to view

And two months after the fuel subsidy saga, Nigerians waited anxiously for the outcome of the report.

On Thursday the April 19 2012, the Chairman of the House of Representative ad-hoc committee that investigated the management of the country’s fuel subsidy scheme, Farouk Lawan on Thursday said that attempts were made to influence the outcome of the committee’s report.

Addressing a press conference at the National assembly, Abuja, Mr Lawan said the pressure came from government officials and oil marketers.

“Yes, there was pressure, pressure from so many quarters,” he said.

Though Mr Lawan refused to disclose the names of the government officials who pressurized him and his colleagues in the committee, he said the officials said they were concern of the effect the report will have on the country.

He said that his committee made it clear to those mounting pressure on them that as far as they are not guilty of short changing Nigerians, there was no need to panic.

Also speaking at the meeting, the spokesman of the Houses of Representative, Zakari Mohammed assured Nigeria that the House of Representatives will ensure that the report, when adopted by the house is fully implemented.

After months of delay, the Lawan-led House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the subsidy regime management, on Wednesday, submitted its report with recommendation that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) indicted oil marketers and companies that refused to appear before the panel to refund the sum of N1.067 trillion to the nation’s treasury.

The House has, however, slated next Tuesday for the consideration of the report.

Executive summary of the report made available to journalists on Wednesday recommended that, “marketers that had short-changed Nigerians were identified and recommended to make refunds within a time-frame of three months.

“Civil servants were to be sanctioned in accordance with the civil service rules as well as under extant laws; management staff and top government officials were based on the gravity of their offences, to be reprimanded, re-deployed, dismissed and in specific cases prosecuted for abuse of office and fraudulent practices.”

The committee also recommended the refund to the treasury, the sum of N1,067,040,456,171.31 from the underlisted for various violations; NNPC (kerosene subsidy) N310,414, 963,613; NNPC (above PPPRA recommendation) N285,098,000,000; NNPC (self-discount), N108,648,000,000; marketers (total violation of petroleum subsidy fund) N8,664,352,554; companies that refused to appear, N41,936,140,005 and PPPRA, excess payment to self, N312,279,000,000.

To this end, the panel recommended that the sum of N806,766 billion be budgeted as subsidy for 2012, adding that “we also proposed a budget amount of N806,766 billion for the 2012 fiscal year for payment of subsidy on PMS and kerosene.”

The committee, also in its report, recommended that “NNPC be unbundled to make its operations more efficient and transparent and this, we believe, can be achieved through the passage of a well-drafted and comprehensive Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).”

The committee as well recommended that all those on the management board of the NNPC directly involved in the in-fractions identified for 2009 to 2011 be investigated and prosecuted for abuse of office by the relevant anti-corruption agencies.

The panel further indicated that NNPC was found not to be accountable to anybody or authority, saying that “the corporation, in 2011, processed payment of N310.4 billion as 2009 to 2011 arrears of subsidy on kerosene, contrary to a presidential directive which removed subsidy on kerosene in 2009.”

The panel also reprimanded the chairman and entire members of the board of PPPRA from 2009 to 2011 for their decision.

Allegation of doctored report

A group Legislative Integrity Assembly said on Wednesday that the report of the House committee into the probe of fuel subsidy was “apparently doctored” following conflicting details about the report in the media in recent weeks.

The group, in a statement said that it noticed a number of inconsistencies having followed the snippets of information released on the committee’s report in recent weeks.

The group said that it had followed closely the situation in the ad hoc committee since it concluded its public hearing on the matter, adding that lots of inconsistencies have come out of the House in recent times.

The group, which claimed to have seen the original recommendations of the committee, said that the report submitted by Mr Lawan to the House on Wednesday was an “edited, doctored report.”

“The list of indicted companies suddenly got shortened within 24 hours. This country is in trouble if this is allowed to go unchallenged. It just confirmed that probes in this country are not to be taken seriously,” the group alleged.

It said it was not entirely taken by surprise by the doctoring because a major newspaper reported on Wednesday that there might be “eleventh hour” changes in the report following outcries generated by media reports of its recommendations.

The Guardian had reported on Wednesday that allegations of doctoring of the report had stirred a controversy in the House.

The report said there were speculations that the leadership of the House had seized the report of the Lawan committee with a view to effecting some changes. The newspaper, however, quoted House spokesman as saying that the allegations are not true.

Pay PHCN bills or be disconnected – House tells security agencies

The House of Representatives has given the Armed forces and other security agencies one month to settle their electricity bills with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria or risk being disconnected.

This is one of the resolutions reached after a debate on the urgent need to address the failure of some corporate customers of the company to pay their electricity bill, which is estimated at billions of naira.

The issue of funding has been identified as a major hindrance to the power sector reform and this situation is not being helped as billions of naira are said to be owed the PHCN by customers.

A motion staged before the House of Representatives, incident of how the PHCN was being owed 41 billion naira was revealed to the members of the House.

Honourable Patrick Ihkhariale revealed that the Armed Forces comprising the Navy Air force, Nigerian Police, departments and agencies are owing the PHCN billions of naira on regular basis despite budgetary appropriations that these public institutions get to run their annual activities.

It however attracted debate within the lawmakers as some feel it is not in the business of the House of Representatives to drag itself into the issue of debt recovery for some government agencies while some felt the defaulting agencies be handed over to the EFCC or be dealt with accordingly.

Hon. Leo Ogor; argued that the law should empower the anti-corruption agency; the EFCC to go after MDA that has failed to remit what it was charged by the PHCN to it while Hon. Kamil Akinlabi from PDP Oyo state said the House is not supposed to reduce itself to the level of acting as a debt recovery agent.

The house however resolved that a joint committee be mandated to investigate how the funds allocated for electricity in the budget were utilized.