Constitution Amendment: Senate begin retreat in Asaba

 The 48-member senate committee on the review of the 1999 constitution today commenced a four-day retreat at Asaba the Delta state capital with a view to deliberate and review areas of constitutional restraints to the development of the country.

Senate President, David Mark declared the retreat open and asked the committee to be transparent and fair in the course of their deliberation.

He says the leadership of the National Assembly would not condone unruly behaviour and impulse from groups or individuals that would undermine the intent of the National Assembly.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who is also the chairman of the committee, on his part outlined a 16-item list that would be the focus of the retreat, including devolution of power, creation of states, citizenship protection the immunity clause, state policing, among others.

Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Rivers and Delta states respectively were present at the opening ceremony spoke about the need for federalism and equitable resource control for states governments.

 

Jos Killings: David Mark visits Jos

The Senate President, Senator David Mark has condemned the killings in some villages of Barkin Ladi and Riyom local government areas of Plateau state, over the weekend as he paid a visit to the troubled state on Monday.

Amongst those killed in the savage killings that claimed over 100 lives were serving Senator, Senator Gyang Dantong and the Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Gyang Fulani.

Describing their death as avoidable and the supreme price for peace Senator David mark commiserated with the state’s governor, Mr Jonah Jang and people of the state.

The Senate President expressed shock on the incessant attacks and he appealed to the perpetrators to embrace dialogue as violence cannot solve any issue no matter the grievances, he stated.

Referring to the persistent targeted killings in the state in the last two years, the state governor noted that the state has been under siege for over two years.

The governor blamed the attacks on the influx of foreigners into the state and he renewed his call to security operatives to intervene on the activities of those he called terrorists, who are in the state are determined to cause instability in the state and the northern part of the country.

The Senate President in company of other Senators and members of the House of Representatives visited the state to commiserate with the government and people of plateau state urging them to be prayerful and see the death of the parliamentarians as the supreme price for peace.

The state government as a means of avoiding reprisal attacks and the breakdown of law and order in the state has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew starting from 6PM every evening to 12 noon till further notice.

 

Groups challenge David Mark to name Boko Haram sponsors

Two Northern youth groups on Wednesday criticized the Senate President, David Mark over his recent comments urging northern leaders to check the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect.

The groups in a joint press statement said they “find it regrettable that David Mark, himself a northerner and occupying his present office by the grace of the North should turn round to accuse the region’s elders of being behind the crisis.”

Mr Mark had on Monday at the beginning of 2012 Senators Retreat in Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom state capital called on leaders of the northern states to think properly before they allow what he called “a few selected cabals in Boko Haram” bring the north to its knees with what they are doing.

The groups, Arewa Youth Development Foundation and The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum challenged the senate president to name those he claimed are behind the sect.

“We hereby categorically challenge him to name those he claimed in his statement to be behind the terror group and to tell the world the action Mark has ever led the Senate to take towards arresting the security threat.”

The groups accused Mark of doing nothing towards resolving the Boko Haram crisis.

“It is even embarrassing for Mark, who has not for once attempted to meet with any of the elders, political leaders; religious or cultural leaders on how to resolve the situation, to now find the courage to point accusing fingers particularly at the elders”, the groups said.

Read the full text of the joint press statement below:

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY THE AREWA YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION AND THE AREWA YOUTH CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON SENATE PRESIDENT DAVID MARK’S STATEMENT ON NORTHERN ELDERS

1.We read with great concern reports attributed to the Senate President David Mark tending to blame the elders of the North for the perpetration and escalation of violence in the region.

2.We find it regrettable that David Mark, himself a northerner and occupying his present office by the grace of the North should turn round to accuse the region’s elders of being behind the crisis.

3.It is unfortunate that Mark, supposedly a public figure and people’s representative should publicly admit not being aware of the concerted efforts by the Northern Elders Forum that has cut across religious and tribal boundaries; the various meetings held by the Northern Governors Forum the northern traditional rulers and various coalitions of religious leaders.

4. It is discouraging for Mark to have publicly admitted or pretended not to know that the northern elders he now accuses, have in their effort recently visited and presented a comprehensive document advising President Jonathan on how to handle the security situation.

5. It is even embarrassing for Mark, who has not for once attempted to meet with any of the elders, political leaders; religious or cultural leaders on how to resolve the situation, to now find the courage to point accusing fingers particularly at the elders.

6. We hereby categorically challenge him to name those he claimed in his statement to be behind the terror group and to tell the world the action Mark has ever led the Senate to take towards arresting the security threat.

7. Let Mark tell the world why his Senate deliberately ignored the various written calls made to it for intervention by calling for a public hearing on the matter particularly by youth groups.

8.Rather than heeding those calls, Mark’s Senate chose to pursue issues that involve money.

9. Let Mark tell the world if the northern elders have that power to restore peace beyond offering advice and calling for caution which they have been doing diligently though he pretends not to be aware of that.

10. And let Mark explain why his Senate could not initiate the steps that led to the present moves by the presidency towards changing the security arrangement while the House of Representatives did summon the President and security chiefs.

11. Indeed it is disrespectful for a son of the region in his position who has never visited any of the cities to console with victims of the violence to now attempt to blame its persistence on his own elders.

12.It is on record that Mark has never visited Maiduguri, Kano or Potiskum to console with families of the thousands of people slaughtered in the course of this violence but now finds the voice to criticise respected elders of the North.

13.More worrying is the part of Mark’s statement that tended to suggest that non-Muslims are the main target and primary victims of the attacks even after the Muslim community which has openly distanced itself from the actions, also happen to have recorded greater loss in terms of human and material casualty.

14.Even more insensitive is the manner in which Mark closed his eyes to universal fact that almost all those so far arrested in possession of explosives and dangerous arms; those arrested with the actual bombing or attempts to blow up the places of worship referred to by Mark, happen to be non-Muslims.

15.More dangerously divisive is that Mark, rather than making statements expected from leaders that could enhance religious harmony and understanding, chose to single out a certain religious group for pacification.

16.Finally, while we join other well-meaning Nigerians in condemning the violence and its perpetrators, we welcome the recent bold moves by President Jonathan to reposition the nation’s security structure, we caution the presidency to beware of the utterances of people like Mark who have clearly disconnected with the situation on ground.

17.We call on Mark to concentrate on cleaning the embarrassing scandals engulfing the Senate and stop diverting the nation with unintelligent accusations.

18.No diversionary tactic from Mark or anybody else can take the nation’s attention from the inadequacies of the Nigerian Senate with regards to sensitive national issues.

19. The nation knows that the Senate did not for instance take any action with regards to the vexed issue of fuel subsidy and that it was the Reps that even as much as showed concern.

20.We are convinced that most Senators are only using the Senate as a refuge to acquire immunity from investigations into their past commissions or omissions while in various positions of power.

21.Consequently we have resolved to launch an agitation for the scraping of the Nigerian Senate from the nation’s democratic structure as it only serves as a gateway for huge financial wastage while not performing its constitutional expectations.

SIGNED:
1.NASTURA ASHIR SHERIFF for Arewa Youth Development Foundation
2.SHETTIMA YERIMA for Arewa Youth Consultative Forum

Nigerians who commit crime abroad are no lesser citizens – Richard Nwankwo

A Human Right lawyer, Richard Nwankwo on Thursday said that Nigerians involved in crime are no lesser citizens of the country because they have committed crime.

Mr Nwankwo who is also the President of Crusade for Justice – a human rights advocacy group made this comment while speaking as a guest in Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

The human rights lawyer was reacting to a Channels Television’s documentary film – Jailed in China and the recent debate on the plight of Nigerians who awaiting execution in various jails abroad by the Senate.

We wouldn’t defend Nigerians who break the laws of foreign countries – Mark

The Senate President, David Mark on Tuesday said Nigeria’s upper legislature will not intervene in cases of Nigerians found guilty of criminal activities in foreign countries.

Mr Mark said this while responding to the concern expressed at the plenary session by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mathew Ifeanyi Nwagwu (PDP, Imo) that 16 of the 300 Nigerians reportedly serving jail terms in Indonesia would soon be executed.

The Senate President however, said that the government would not allow any Nigerian to be unfairly treated in foreign nations.

“We will not defend any Nigerian who breaks the laws of foreign countries. If they break the laws there, they should face the consequences. This is a warning to other Nigerians abroad. They cannot continue to tarnish our image”.

The Senate President, however, did not expressly uphold Mr Nwagwu’s suggestion that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru be summoned over the issue.

“We may invite the minister if you want,” he said.

Senate orders FRSC to stop issuing new number plates and drivers’ license

Senate on Wednesday ordered the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to stop issuing new vehicle number plates and driver’s license.

The order follows the adoption of a motion on new number and driver’s sponsored by Senator Dahiru Kuta of Niger state and 19 others.

The Senators during the consideration of the motion on Wednesday described the new vehicle number plates issued by the commission as illegal noting that act that set up FRSC does not empower it to issue number plates.

“The commission was not established principally as a revenue generating agency for states or Federal Government,” Senator Kuta said while promoting the motion.

He said the new driver’s license which the FRSC launched in 2011 “is now issued for N6, 000 as against the N3, 000 while the new number plates have suddenly jumped from N5, 000 to an astronomical N15, 000,” he added.

Senator Smart Adeyemi from Kogi state said the cost of the new number plates is too exorbitant for motorists and is illegal.

He said that the “FRSC has abandoned its mandate, it was established to ensure safety on highways, but what the FRSC is trying to do now is to render other government agencies redundant.”

The Senate President, David Mark while ruling on the motion said the new number plates by FRSC was an imposition of additional burden on Nigerians.

“Let them not impose additional expenditure on the people and their primary objective was not to generate revenue,” he said.

Similarly, the House of Representatives had in last November asked the FRSC to stop the issuance of new vehicle number plates and driving licence.
The House had directed its Committee on FRSC to investigate the “rationale, necessity and circumstances” for the commission’s decision to replace the existing number plates and driving licence.

The FRSC had set a deadline of August 2012 for Nigerian drivers to obtain the new driving license and number plates which were last year commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.

According to the FRSC the upgraded license and plate numbers are interlinked and will be connected to each driver, in order to help the FRSC track all road offences and monitor the driving behaviour of all vehicle owners.