Senate Begins Amendment Of Code Of Conduct Bureau Act

Senate-NigeriaThe Nigerian Senate has passed for second reading, a Bill seeking to amend the Act establishing the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and its tribunal.

The sponsor of the Bill, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, said the amendment of Section Three of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act would allow every public officer who appears before the Bureau a fair hearing.

However another Federal Lawmaker, Senator Yahaya Abdulahi, voiced concerns over the timing of the amendment of the Bill.

His concerns were in view of ongoing trial of the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, at the CCT.

He said that although the amendment was apt, the perception of Nigerians, especially with regard to the timing should be taken into consideration.
“What I am against is the time,” he stressed.

The amendment would redraft section 3(d) of the Act.

Senator Nwoboshi said that the procedural codes that were being employed by the bureau’s tribunal were not provided for in the nation’s Constitution.

“It is clear that the Act does not contemplate criminal trial. So, the usage of Criminal Procedure Act and the Criminal Procedure Code should not be used as a procedural template in the Tribunal.

“In due course, I will present to this distinguished Senate a comprehensive amendment of the Third Schedule to the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Rules of procedure which should be distinct rules for proceedings in the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT),” he said.

Senators, who contributed, threw their weight behind the amendment of the Act.

Senator Dino Melaye of the All Progressives Congress (APC), representing Kogi West, said that the amendment was very apt, as it had become clear that the CCT was delving into criminal trials.

Melaye urged all senators to support the amendment, stressing that it was justified.

Other senators who contributed were Jubrin Barau of the APC, representing Kano North, Sam Anyanwu of the Peoples Democratic Party, representing Imo East and the Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi.

Olujimi said: “We are licenced as Senators to look at Acts and Laws to see how we can make them better. There is no doubt that this Act needs amendment.

“We do not want the Act to be used inconclusively. This is a straight forward thing, it should go to the committee and we conclude”.

Senate Begins Amendment Of Code Of Conduct Bureau Act

SenateThe Senate has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to amend the Act establishing the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and its tribunal.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, said that the amendment of Section 3 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act is to allow every public officer who appears before the Bureau a fair hearing.

Nwaoboshi said that the procedural codes that were being employed by the bureau’s tribunal were not provided for in the nation’s Constitution.

“It is clear that the Act does not contemplate criminal trial, so the usage of Criminal Procedure Act and the Criminal Procedure Code should not be used as a procedural template in the Tribunal.

“In due course, I will present to this distinguished Senate a comprehensive amendment of the Third Schedule to the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Rules of procedure which should be distinct rules for proceedings in the Code of Conduct Tribunal,” he said.

Senators who contributed threw their weight behind the amendment of the Act. Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) said that the amendment was very apt as it had become clear that the CCT was delving into criminal trials.

Melaye urged all senators to support the amendment, stressing that it was justified.

Other senators who contributed included Jubrin Barau (APC Kano North), Sam Anyanwu (PDP Imo East) and the Minority whip, Biodun Olujimi.

Olujimi said, “We are licensed as senators to look at Acts and Laws to see how we can make them better: there is no doubt that this Act needs amendment.

“We do not want the Act to be used inconclusively; this is a straight forward thing, it should go to the committee and we conclude.”

However, Senator Yahaya Abdulahi (APC-Kebbi North) while supporting the amendment, expressed reservations over the timing in view of ongoing trial of the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, at the CCT.

He said that although the amendment was apt, the perception of Nigerians, especially with regard to the timing should be taken into consideration. “What I am against is the time,” he said.

Court Remands 44 Pro Biafra Supporters In Prison

Court Remands 44 Pro Biafra Supporters In PrisonThe Magistrate Court in Rivers State, southern Nigeria has ordered that the 44 pro Biafra supporters arrested in connection with a protest by the Indigenous People of Biafra, in Port Harcourt recently be remanded again in prison.

The members of the group were recently arrested in connection with a protest by the Indigenous People of Biafra in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital in south-south Nigeria.

The presiding Magistrate, Mr Andrew Jaja, said the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter since they were charged for treasonable felony.

He also noted that the court could not grant bail to the accused, stressing that the offence for which they were charged was beyond the magistrate court.

“The court does not have jurisdiction to entertain the case. Section 118 of the Criminal Procedure Act provides that persons charged with treason/capital offence cannot be granted bail by the Magistrate Court, but have the opportunity to be granted bail by the High Court.

Mr Jaja then ordered that the original case file be duplicated and copies sent to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for further investigation and advice.

He also asked that the accused be remanded in prison custody till November 26.

While the prosecutor, Inspector Wilson Isaiah, expressed satisfaction with the decision of the court, one of the lawyers to the defendants, Linus Opara, also noted that the ruling for now sits well with his team.

Hundreds from the group had earlier stormed the streets of Port Harcourt carrying placards with various inscriptions and causing temporal gridlock on the Aba-Azikiwe road axis.

According to them, their protest was to show solidarity for the Biafran Radio Host, Kalu, who was arrested by security agencies and later released on administrative bail.

Court Orders Re-Arraignment Of Fani-Kayode Over Money Laundering Charges

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos today ruled that the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode must take his plea to the money laundering charges filed against him.

The court dismissed the objections raised by his counsel that the charge was invalid.

The former minister has an amended 40 count charge of laundering about N100m leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

At the last sitting of the court on the 27th of January, the arraignment of the former minister on the amended charge was stalled after his counsel argued that the charge was not valid.

The defence counsel, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, who relied on section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Act argued that the failure of the EFCC to name the source of the money rendered the charge vague, persecutory and oppressive.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Festus Keyamo however countered by submitting that the very essence of a crime of money laundering is that the money has no origin and its source cannot be explained.

In her ruling today on the arguments, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia agreed with Mr Keyamo. She held that it was an abject misconception for the defence counsel to raise objections to the validity of the charge.

The court was also of the view that it was enough to state that the former minister received money as the inability to trace the source of the money did not in any way invalidate it.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia has fixed the 5th of March for the re-arraignment of the former minister.

Money Laundering: Court Adjourns Fani-Kayode’s Trial Again

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned yet again the trial of former aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Trial judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, fixed February 10 to deliver a ruling on the validity of the charges.

The Federal Government is prosecuting Mr. Fani-Kayode, on a 47 count charge of laundering about N230million.

At the last sitting of the court on January 27, the counsel to the former Minister had refused to allow his client plead to an amended 40 count charge of laundering about 100 million Naira on the grounds that the charges were not valid under Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Justice Ajumogobia declared on Monday that her ruling was not ready as the parties failed to file their written briefs on time.

EFCC Amends Money Laundering Charges Against Fani-Kayode

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has pruned the allegations of money laundering levelled against former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.

From an initial 47 count charge of laundering about N230 million, the charges were pruned down today to 40 counts of laundering about N100m.

The arraignment of the former aviation minister on the amended charges was however stalled today (Monday) as his counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) objected to the charges on the grounds that it was invalid. He refused to allow his client make his plea.

The defence counsel said he was objecting to the validity of the charges in line with Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The lawyer contended that his client is alleged to have received money from anonymous persons. He concluded that the charge was not only invalid but was also vague, persecutory and oppressive.

“They alleged that he accepted money. When you accuse somebody of accepting money, clearly the person from whom the money was accepted becomes important,” Mr. Adedipe stated.

“The other charges there…one of them accused him of having his wife pay money into his account. These charges cannot be valid,” he added.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Festus Keyamo argued that the charge was not about stealing or conversion where the owner of the money must be stated.

“The very essence of the crime of money laundering is when the money has no origin, when you are caught with large sums of money and you cannot explain the source,” Mr. Keyamo said.

Our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele reports that the trial judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, has asked both the prosecution and defence counsel to file their written addresses and adjourned ruling on the matter till the 3rd of February.

The Federal Government is prosecuting Mr. Fani-Kayode, at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

Tambuwal Berates Nigeria’s Criminal Justice Procedure

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. AMinu Tambuwal has described the criminal justice procedure in Nigeria as “largely old and unresponsive to the demands of the populace for equity, substantial justice and human rights”.

Hon. Tambuwal said this at a public hearing on a bill for an act to repeal the Criminal Procedure Act.

He said that there is the need to pay more attention to the laws particularly those pertaining to the system of criminal justice administration as it is pertinent to having a sound economy and curbing anti-social behaviors.

Also speaking at the hearing, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar represented by Justice  Kumai Akaas of the Supreme Court, said the Nigerian Criminal Justice System “is in dire need of  reforms  as the democratic system of government cannot function properly without an effective means of dispensing justice”.