Abuse Of Power By Public Officers And Spouses By Femi Falana

A file photo of Femi Falana.

 

Of recent, some serving and former public officers and their spouses have been using the police and other security agencies to intimidate journalists, students, and other citizens for daring to expose them for engaging in corrupt practices and abuse of power.

In spite of the several judgments of domestic and regional courts which have upheld the fundamental right of Nigerian citizens to freedom of expression, the anti-democratic elements have behaved like the former British colonial officials.

Since the Attorney-General of the Federation and State Attorneys-General have failed to restrain the law enforcement agencies from being used to harass the critics of public officers and their spouses it has become necessary to remind the Federal Government of its legal obligation to defend and protect the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people including the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by section 36 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

READ ALSO[2023 Elections] We Are Coming For Your Thugs, NSA Warns Governors

As far back as I983, the then Federal Court of Appeal had prohibited public officers from using the machinery of the State to silence critics. In the case of Arthur Nwankwo v. The State (1985) 6 NCLR 228 the defendant was charged with sedition under section 51 of the Criminal Code before an Onitsha High Court for publishing a book which had exposed some corrupt practices of Governor in the former Anambra state.

The defendant was convicted and sentenced to one-year imprisonment by the trial judge. But the conviction and sentence were set aside by the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the offence of sedition was illegal and unconstitutional, Speaking for the court, Olatawura JCA (as he then was of blessed memory) held inter alia:

“We are no longer the illiterates or the mob society our colonial masters had in mind when the law was promulgated…To retain S. 51 of the Criminal Code, in its present form, that is even if not inconsistent with the freedom of expression guaranteed by our Constitution will be a deadly weapon to be used at will by a corrupt government or a tyrant…Let us not diminish from the freedom gained from our colonial masters by resorting to laws enacted by them to suit their purpose.”

The laws enacted by the British colonial masters imposed on the country and retained by the indigenous ruling class include the Official Secrets Act and the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to sedition and criminal libel.

As criticism is indispensable in a democratic society, Justice Olatawura charged the Nigerian people to defend their hard-won freedom of expression at all times. According to his lordship:

The decision of the founding fathers of this present constitution which guarantees freedom of speech which must include freedom to criticize should be praised and any attempt to derogate from it except as provided in the Constitution must be resisted.

Those in public office should not be intolerant of criticism. Where a writer exceeds the bounds there should be a resort to the law of libel where the plaintiff must of necessity put his character and reputation in issue.”

However, in May 2015, the Federal Government smuggled defamatory publications via the Internet into section 24 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention) Act which provides that any person who knowingly sends a message or other matter by means of computer systems or that he knows to be false, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to another or causes such a message to be sent commits an offence under this Act and shall be liable on conviction for a fine of not more than₦7,000,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of not more than three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

The obnoxious provision of the Act was challenged by the Plaintiff in the case of The incorporated trustees of Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative v Federal Republic of Nigeria (unreported Suit CW/CCJ/APP/53/18) on the ground that it was violative of the right of Nigerians to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 9 of the African Charter Act. In justifying the provision.

In justifying the law, the Federal Government claimed that the contentious section was not enacted to muzzle the freedom of expression but to curtail the activities of criminals using the internet.

It was further argued that the section was adopted as a legislative measure to give effect to freedom of expression as provided in Article 9(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and was in accordance with provisions of Section 39(3) of the country’s 1999 Constitution.

But the Ecowas Court rejected the arguments of the Federal Government and declared section 24 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention) Act illegal, null, and void as it was not in conformity with Articles 9 of the ACHPR and 19 of the ICCPR to which Nigeria is a signatory.

Since the judgments of the Court of Appeal in Nwankwo v The State and Ecowas Court in The incorporated trustees of Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative v the Federal Republic of Nigeria are binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria it is submitted that the resort to draconian laws by public officers to settle scores with critics and political opponents is illegal in every material particular.

Therefore, public officers who feel offended by any defamatory publication are not without remedy. They have been rightly advised by the Court of Appeal to defend their reputation and bruised ego by suing for libel in a court of law.

Otherwise, the police and other security agencies allowing themselves to be used by power-drunk public officers and their spouses should be reported to the Police Service Commission which is currently headed by the Honourable Clara Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Finally, the authorities of the Nigeria Police should stop abusing the prosecutorial powers of the State by charging Aminu Mohammed, a student of Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State with criminal libel.

The First Lady should be advised to sue the student for libel. Similarly, the police should discountenance the petition written by Mrs Bisi Fayemi, immediate past First Lady of Ekiti against a journalist. The police should equally advise her to seek legal redress in a civil court.

Ekiti Assembly Crisis: Falana Asks CP, Governor To Intervene

Ekiti Lawmakers Give EFCC 21-day Ultimatum To Investigate Fayemi
A file photo of the Ekiti State House of Assembly.

 

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on Sunday asked the police authorities and Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji to intervene in the crisis rocking the state House of Assembly.

On Wednesday, security operatives sealed off the complex to forestall the breakdown of law and order. The incident happened a day after lawmakers elected a new Speaker, Gboyega Aribisogan.

There were suggestions from security officials that mayhem could be unleashed on the assembly after Aribisogan’s emergence as Speaker.

READ ALSO: Police Shut Ekiti Assembly Complex Over Security Threat

Fours days after the development, Falana issued a statement where he called on the Ekiti State Commissioner of Police, Moronkeji Adesina, to provide security for the state legislators to carry out their constitutional duties.

He commended the police boss for intervening in what would have resulted in a crisis following the election of the new Speaker. The senior lawyer believes that opening the assembly complex will enable the legislators to attend to matters of utmost importance.

“Even though the election of the new leaders of the House was adjudged fair and free the Ekiti State Police Command was reported to have sealed off the House of Assembly complex based on intelligence report that some disgruntled elements were planning to set it ablaze and attack the democratically elected leaders of the House,” Falana said.

“We call on the Police Chief to provide adequate security for the members of the House to discharge their constitutional duty of enacting laws for the State and attend to matters of urgent importance.

“We are compelled to advise the Chief Security Officer of Ekiti State, Governor Biodun Oyebanji to take charge and ensure the immediate restoration of law and order in the House of Assembly to enable him to present the 2022 Appropriation Bill of the state.”

Pay ASUU Members Full Salaries, Falana Tells FG

Falana Writes Buhari, Says Allocating Oil Blocks To Individuals Illegal
Femi Falana Muhammadu Buhari

 

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to direct public universities to pay members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) their full salaries. 

Some members of the union which recently called off their eight-month strike had complained of getting half salaries for October 2022. The Federal Government had defended the move, insisting that the varsity teachers cannot be paid for not working.

“They were paid in pro-rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action,” the Ministry of Labour and Employment said. “Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”

But in a statement on Sunday, Falana, said the ‘no work, no pay’ policy does not apply to ASUU members.

READ ALSOSERAP To Buhari: Direct Ngige To Immediately Reverse Deduction Of Lecturers’ Salaries

“The position of the Federal Government is factually faulty and legally misleading. Since the industrial action was called off the public universities have adjusted their calendars to ensure that the 2021/2022 academic session is not cancelled. Consequently, students are currently taking lectures or writing examinations that were disrupted during the strike of the ASUU. Therefore, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the ASUU strike the doctrine of ‘no work, no pay’ is totally inapplicable as students who were not taught during the strike are currently attending lectures and writing examinations,” he said.

“Furthermore, it is public knowledge that the members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on a strike that lasted two months last year. The Federal Government dragged the striking doctors to the National Industrial Court which ordered the NARD to call off the strike. As soon as the strike was called off, President Muhammadu Buhari jettisoned the “no work, no pay” principle and ordered the payment of the salaries for the two months that the strike lasted. On that occasion, the President overruled Dr. Ngige in the interest of industrial harmony in the health sector.

“In the same vein, the ASUU recently called off its 8-month-old strike in compliance with the order of the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal. We are therefore compelled to call on President Buhari should ignore the advice of Dr. Ngige and direct the public universities to pay the full salary of each lecturer from February to October 2022. Otherwise, the Federal Government will be accused of engaging in the selective application of the “no work, no pay” principle which is discriminatory and illegal.

“It is pertinent to draw the attention of the Federal Government to section 42 (1) of the Constitution which provides that citizens of Nigeria shall not be subjected either expressly or in the practical application of any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which other citizens are not made subject; or be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to other citizens.

“In view of the foregoing, since the Federal Government is mandatorily required to treat all workers equally the members of ASUU are entitled to be treated like members of the NARD after they had called off their strike. In other words, as members of ASUU and NARD are entitled to equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law the lecturers should be paid their salaries withheld during the period of the recently suspended 8-month industrial action.

“However, in view of the undeniable fact that the members of the two newly registered unions in the universities were on strike like members of ASUU the
plan of the Ministry of Labour and Employment to pay the Congress of University Academics their withheld salaries and rectify the ‘half salaries’ paid to all lecturers under the newly registered union should be shelved. Otherwise, the provocative agenda will cause a fresh industrial action in public universities.”

 

Flood: Falana Asks EFCC To Probe Management Of Ecological Fund

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the mismanagement of the ecological fund which he described as a crime against humanity.

Falana, according to a statement from his chambers signed by Tayo Soyemi, stated this on Monday at a convocation lecture at Augustine University, Lagos.

Speaking at the event on Monday, Falana said it is wrong for the Federal Government to ask citizens to hold state governments to account in event of a national disaster. He expressed concern over the impact of recent flooding across communities.

READ ALSO: Produce Flood-Prevention Plan Within 90 Days, Buhari Directs Water Minister

“The mismanagement of ecological fund is a crime against humanity because it is responsible for the loss of many lives, displacement of millions of people, and destruction of properties worth trillions of Naira,” Falana said.

“Before the proposed probe by the EFCC, the federal government should come to the aid of the affected state governments. However, the EFCC should probe the involvement of officials of the federal government and state governments.

“In particular, the federal government has failed to release money from the ecological fund to the affected states. On their own part, the various state governments have equally failed to provide relief materials for the victims.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government did not ask the citizens to hold the state governments to account for funds meant for building and equipping hospitals.

“Instead of inciting citizens to demand an explanation which will be ignored by state governments, the federal government should submit a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for the investigation of the mismanagement of the ecological fund which is a crime against humanity.”

While faulting the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, for saying the floods are an “act of God”, Falana asked the government to ensure that measures to mitigate flooding become a priority.

He also expressed concern over ongoing campaign activities by political parties despite the effect of flooding on victims.

The Ecological Fund Office, under the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, was created in 1985 following the approval of the Federation Account Act of 1981.

It includes one percent of the Federation Account and it is known as the derivation and ecology fund, and the focus of the office is to have a pool of funds that would be solely devoted to the funding of ecological projects to mitigate serious ecological problems.

Last year, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved N16.04 billion in ecological fund projects across 12 states and the federal capital territory (FCT) for soil erosion/flood and pollution control interventions.

Oil Theft: Falana Calls For Irabor’s Sack Over Destruction Of Vessel

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor at the State House briefing on Friday

 

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana has called for the sacking of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor over the destruction of an illegal oil vessel.

A private pipeline surveillance team Tanita Security Services led by a former militant leader Government Ekpemupolo better known as Tompolo arrested a vessel used for crude oil theft off the creeks of the Niger Delta. The vessel was later set ablaze by security agents with Irabor defending the move, saying there was no need for investigation.

But on Sunday, Falana said the burning of the vessel is illegal as he accused the military of cover-up.

READ ALSO: Reps To Probe Destruction Of Vessel Allegedly Used For Oil Theft

“In an embarrassing justification of the criminal conduct, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor said that the swift destruction of the oil bunkering vessel by the criminal suspects is in line with ‘the rules of engagement’,” he said in a statement.

“As if self-help has become part of the rules of engagement the General said the vessel was caught in the act and security agents subsequently set the ‘instrument of operation’ ablaze, noting that no investigation is needed to carry out the action. It is trite law that only the Federal High Court court is empowered to order the interim or final forfeiture of any vessel that was used for conveying stolen crude oil.

“Therefore, the statement credited to General Irabor is a deliberate attempt to cover up the involvement of military personnel in the serious crime of oil theft as there is no provision of the rules of engagement that authorises military personnel or security operatives to set fire or destroy vessels loaded with stolen crude.”

“In view of the gravity of the offence that is being covered up by the military oligarchy, general Irabor ought to resign his appointment to prevent the sabotage of the ongoing operations designed to expose the perpetrators of oil theft in the Niger Delta region,” Falana added.

“If the general decides not to call it quits, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, President Muhammadu Buhari should not hesitate to fire him. After all, by authorising the engagement of non-state actors to carry out the constitutional duties of the armed forces, the President has lost confidence in the leadership of the armed forces.

“Furthermore, the president should order the chief of army staff to ensure the immediate arrest of the military personnel who set the vessel on fire to charge on and allied offences before a court martial.”

 

Read the full statement below:

BURNING OF THE VESSEL LOADED WITH STOLEN CRUDE OIL BY SOLDIERS IS A SERIOUS CRIMINAL OFFENCE

Apart from the sabotage of the national economy the crime of oil theft has portrayed Nigeria as a nation where official impunity has been institutionalised that by the Government. Apparently embarrassed by the involvement of highly placed military officers and their civilian collaborators in the scandalous offence of oil theft the Federal Government has adopted measures to end it. Last week, a vessel loaded with stolen crude oil reportedly arrested by a newly-contracted private pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services led by a former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as “Tompolo” was set ablaze off the Niger Delta creeks by a group of military personnel.

In an embarrassing justification of the criminal conduct, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor said that the swift destruction of the oil bunkering vessel by the criminal suspects is in line with “the rules of engagement.” As if self help has become part of the rules of engagement the General said the vessel was caught in the act and security agents subsequently set the “instrument of operation” ablaze, noting that no investigation is needed to carry out the action. It is trite law that only the Federal High Court court is empowered to order the interim or final forfeiture of any vessel that was used for conveying stolen crude oil.

Therefore, the statement credited to General Irabor is a deliberate attempt to cover up the involvement of military personnel in the serious crime of oil theft as there is no provision of the rules of engagement that authorises military personnel or security operatives to set fire or destroy vessels loaded with stolen crude.
Indeed, the Chief of Defence Staff is not unaware that under the service law the burning of a ship or vessel by a military personnel is a serious offence which attracts life imprisonment without an option of fine. For the avoidance of doubt, section 111 of the Armed Forces Act provides as follows:

“111. Arson

A person subject to service law under this Act who wilfully or maliciously sets fire-

(a) to a public building, dwelling house, an office or any structure whatsoever, movable or immovable, whether completed or not, occupied or not; or

*(b) to any vessel, ship, aircraft, railway track or wagon, or vehicle or thing; or*

(c) to a mine or working, fitting or an appliance of a mine,

is guilty of arson and liable, on conviction by a court-martial, to imprisonment for life.”

In view of the gravity of the offence that is being covered up by the military oligarchy, General Irabor ought to resign his appointment to prevent the sabotage of the ongoing operations designed to expose the perpetrators of oil theft in the Niger Delta region. If the General decides not to call it quits, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Fores, President Muhammadu Buhari should not hesitate to fire him. After all, by authorising the engagement of non state actors to carry out the constitutional duties of the armed forces, the President has lost confidence in the leadership of the armed forces. Furthermore, the President should order the Chief of Army Staff to ensure the immediate arrest of the military personnel who set the vessel on fire with a view to charging them with arson and allied offences before a court martial.

Strike: ASUU Appeals National Industrial Court’s Ruling On Resumption

A file photo combination of ASUU president Emmanuel Osodeke and the National Industrial Court building in Abuja.

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has filed an appeal challenging the ruling of Justice Polycarp Hamman of the National Industrial Court (NIC) Abuja which ordered the lecturers to call off their seven-month-old strike and return to the classrooms.

Counsel to ASUU, Mister Femi Falana, based their appeal on 14 grounds. The motion is seeking two reliefs which are:

A) The leave to file the appeal pursuant to Section 243 of the Constitution that requires the party to seek a leave of court to appeal the judgement or ruling of the National Industrial Court (NIC).

B) Seeking for a stay of execution of the orders of the court, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.

READ ALSO: Industrial Court’s Ruling Ordering ASUU To Call Off Strike (Full Details)

The application was supported by an affidavit which was deposed to by Samuel Ameh, who is a research assistant in the office of Falana and Falana’s Chambers.

He deposed on the note stated that he had the consent of ASUU to swear on oath. Ameh further stated in the affidavit that he was informed that the said ruling affects the fundamental and other legal rights of ASUU and its members.

It was his further disposition that the court below made the order without jurisdiction as the said referral was incompetent.

It was deposed further that ASUU has a very strong case and appeal which the court ought to decide one way or the other. He, therefore, prayed the court to preserve the subject matter of the dispute so as not to render the appeal nugatory.

Grounds of the appeal:

 

 

Assault On Civilians By Policemen Attracts 25-Year Imprisonment, Falana Tackles FPRO

A photo combination of Femi Falana and Force spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi.

 

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has criticised the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, on his comments regarding how Nigerians should respond to assault by police officers.

Adejobi irked many citizens on Saturday when he said Nigerians have no right to retaliate if assaulted by policemen. He said policemen are always protected against attacks by law.

READ ALSO: ASUU Strike: Gridlock As Protesting Students Block Lagos Airport Road

“If a policeman in uniform slaps a civilian, the civilian has no right to retaliate. More so, if he’s on the uniform, it’s an act of disrespect to Nigeria to beat an officer on a uniform,” Adejobi tweeted.

“The disrespect is not to the policeman but to our nation and it’s a crime as enshrined in our criminal laws.”

But responding in a statement, Falana said an assault on Nigerians attracts 25-year imprisonment as citizens are entitled to fundamental rights.

In citing the Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and Police Establishment Act 2020, Falana argued that police officers and other law enforcement personnel have been prohibited “from subjecting Nigerian people including criminal suspects to degrading, humiliating or inhumane treatment.”

“By virtue of section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution, every citizen is entitled to the fundamental right to the dignity of their person. Accordingly, no citizen shall be subjected to any mental, physical or psychological torture,” he said.

“Indeed, section (2)(b) of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 states that torture is deemed committed when an act by which pain and suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person to punish him for an act he or a third person has committed or suspected of having committed. The penalty for assaulting a civilian is 25 years under the Anti Torture Act of 2017. In addition, the victim may sue for monetary compensation under the Anti Torture Act and the Constitution.

“Civilians are required to respect police officers who are discharging their lawful duties. The penalty for assaulting or slapping a police officer is 3 years imprisonment under the Criminal Code. In the same vein, police officers are equally mandated to respect civilians.”

INEC: List Of REC Nominees Is Constitutionally Defective, Says Falana

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on November 18, 2021.

 

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana has faulted the nomination of 14 persons for confirmation as Resident Electoral Commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a statement on Sunday, Falana said President Muhammadu Buhari failed to comply with the provisions of the Constitution in nominating the 14 persons.

According to him, the President had previously consulted the Council of State to appoint the Chairman and members of INEC in compliance with the provisions of Section 154 (3) of the Constitution.

“On each occasion, the President consulted the Council of State before submitting the names of nominees to the Senate for confirmation in line with Section 154(1) of the Constitution,” he said.

“But for some undisclosed reasons, the President has forwarded the nominations of 14 persons for confirmation as Resident Electoral Commissioners without any prior consultation with the Council of State.”

The nominations have since generated controversy as some of the nominees have been accused of being members of the President’s party, the All Progressives Congress.

Some groups, including civil society organisations, have also condemned the nominations, saying they amounted to discrimination against women.

According to Falana, the move also contradicted the promise of the President to ensure a free and fair general election next year.

“Apart from the constitutional infraction, the list of the nominees has been challenged on the ground that some of them are card-carrying members of the ruling party,” he said.

“At least two other nominees are alleged to be under investigation for serious electoral malpractice. Instead of subjecting the nominees to integrity test, the Federal Government has dismissed such grave allegations with a wave of the hand.”

Another issue the Senior Advocate had with the nominations was the percentage of women on the list.

He said, “In view of the opposition to the list of nominees by a number of women’s groups on (the) ground of gender discrimination, it is pertinent to draw the attention of the President to the judgment delivered by the Federal High Court on April 10, 2022, in the case of Women Empowerment and Legal Aid & Ors v Attorney-General of the Federation (Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/ 2021) wherein the Honourable Justice Donatus Okorowo ordered the federal government to comply with the 35 per cent affirmative action for women, which allows women to occupy 35 per cent of all appointments.

“Since the judgment is binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria pursuant to section 287 of the Constitution the President should ensure that the women in the list of nominees should not be less than 35 percent.”

Read his full statement below:

Since 2015, President Buhari had consulted the Council of State whenever he wanted to appoint the Chairman and members of the Independent National Electoral Commission including Resident Electoral Commissioners in strict compliance with the provisions of Section 154(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. On each occasion, the President consulted the Council of State before submitting the names of nominees to the Senate for confirmation in line with Section 154(1) of the Constitution. But for some undisclosed reasons, the President has forwarded the nominations of 14 persons for confirmation as Resident Electoral Commissioners without any prior consultation with the Council of State.

Apart from the constitutional infraction, the list of the nominees has been challenged on the ground that some of them are card-carrying members of the ruling party. At least two other nominees are alleged to be under investigation for serious electoral malpractice. Instead of subjecting the nominees to integrity test, the Federal Government has dismissed such grave allegations with a wave of the hand.

Curiously, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed (who had been in the forefront of the campaign for electoral reforms before 2015) said last week that, “As to the nominees that are being challenged by social media warriors and by some critics, I don’t think it is the business of the President to immediately throw out a nominee based on allegations which have not been proven.”

Having repeatedly assured the Nigerian people that the Administrators will support the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct credible elections in 2023 we call on President Buhari to withdraw the controversial list from the Senate and ensure that the nominees are investigated by relevant security agencies. After security clearance, the President is advised to comply with section 154(3) of the Constitution by consulting the Council of State with respect to the qualification and competence of the nominees. It is after the consultation that the names of the nominees that are qualified should be presented to the Senate for confirmation.

However, in view of the opposition to the list of nominees by a number of women’s groups on ground of gender discrimination it is pertinent to draw the attention of the President to the judgment delivered by the Federal High Court on April 10, 2022, in the case of Women Empowerment and Legal Aid & Ors v Attorney-General of the Federation (Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/ 2021) wherein the Honourable Justice Donatus Okorowo ordered the federal government to comply with the 35 per cent affirmative action for women, which allows women to occupy 35 per cent of all appointments. Since the judgment is binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria pursuant to section 287 of the Constitution the President should ensure that the women in the list of nominees should not be less than 35 percent.

Femi Falana SAN,
Chairman,
Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB).
September 11, 2022.

ASUU Meets To Review Six-Month-Old Strike

ASUU, JAMB Act, amendment
A file photo of ASUU’s logo.

 

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is meeting to review its six-month-old strike. 

Sunday’s meeting started in the evening and the union, which has been involved in a protracted industrial dispute, is expected to make a decision about the strike.

Despite several meetings between the Federal Government and members of the union, ASUU has not backed down on its demands.

Two weeks ago, a meeting between the government and ASUU ended in a deadlock. The varsity teachers met with the Professor Nimi Briggs Committee at the National University Commission in Abuja.

While they were hopeful of a positive outcome, a senior member of the union told Channels Television that the Briggs renegotiation committee did not come up with a new offer.

The source, who pleaded anonymity, claimed that the committee pleaded with ASUU to suspend the industrial action, promising that their concerns will be included in the 2023 budget. That meeting lasted about three hours.

READ ALSO: Why ASUU Cannot Be Banned – Femi Falana

The university teachers began a four-week warning strike on February 14. It extended it by eight weeks just after one month so the government can meet the union’s demands.

But on May 9, the lecturers extended it by 12 weeks. ASUU is seeking improved welfare, the revitalisation of public universities, and academic autonomy among others.

On Sunday, Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, called on the Federal Government to sign the renegotiated agreement with ASUU.

“Instead of engaging in the diversionary tactics of blackmailing ASUU the Federal Government should ensure that the strike is called off by signing the Renegotiated Agreement with ASUU without any further delay,” Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said in a statement.

“While calling on both sides to resume the negotiations in the interest of the country the Federal Government should be prevailed upon to end the prolonged industrial action.”

Falana Takes A Swipe At Presidency, Reveals How Buhari Is ‘Failing’ To Address Security Crisis

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has accused the government of President Muhammadu Buhari of “failing to satisfactorily address the crisis of insecurity in the country, and doing nothing to end the mismanagement of the economy under his watch.”

Falana stated this in a paper titled Good Governance or Misgovernance: The Contract Called Democracy, and delivered yesterday at the 50th anniversary interactive session held by the Abeokuta Club in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Falana said, “In spite of the decentralisation of police powers at the centre the Federal Government has continued to kick against the creation of state police service on the ground that it is unconstitutional!”

He also said, “No doubt, based on the virtual collapse of the security architecture of the neocolonial State, the Federal Government has grudgingly allowed state government to create state or regional security outfits. But they are not allowed to bear arms.”

According to Falana, “the personnel of the regional security outfits who are armed with cutlasses and dane guns are expected to commit suicide by confronting AK 47 bearing terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, herders and robbers.”


READ ALSO: Security Crisis: Senate Leadership Meets With Service Chiefs


The paper, read in part: “In view of the fact that the civilian Joint Task Force operatives are given licences to bear arms and ammunition, I have asked state governments to sue the Federal Government for refusing to grant licences to the personnel of regional security outfits for allowing dangerous criminals to breach the constitutional rights of unarmed citizens to life and dignity.”

“Furthermore, it is discriminatory to deny licences to 5,000 state security personnel to bear arms to protect millions of unarmed citizens while a few individuals are granted licences to acquire weapons to protect themselves and their family members.”

“Curiously, some state governors have also complained about the refusal of the National Security Adviser to approve the applications for End Users Certificates for importation of Drones to monitor and expose terrorists and kidnappers hiding in the forests.”

“With respect, such sabotage of security ought to be challenged in the Federal High Court as the National Security Adviser has not been conferred with the power by any law to grant or reject the requests of governors to acquire equipment to secure the areas that have been exposed to danger by the Federal Government.”

“The governors should have directed the requests to the President Buhari who has publicly challenged them to adopt all necessary measures to secure the states since he has asked them to stop rushing to the Villa to complain about insecurity or killings by criminal gangs.”

“In the Attorney-General of Rivers v Attorney-General of the Federation the Federal High Court has held that it is the sole responsibility of the Federal Government to fund the Nigeria Police Force.”

“Therefore, the executive should submit a supplementary money bill to the National Assembly for the funding of the police since it is the constitutional duty of the police to maintain law and order in the country.”

“It is common knowledge that the wealth with which the democratic process is sabotaged by members of the ruling class has been traced to the coffers of the government.”

“A public officer and his cronies have just been charged with the criminal diversion of N109 billion from the Federation Account and bribes received from Governors, Finance Commissioners and heads of parastatals who had to jump the queue that was artificially erected in the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.”

“I am also aware that the sum of N4.5 billion has just been found in the bank account of the Surveyor-General of Ogun State.”

“It is not in doubt that misgovernance has replaced good governance in Nigeria while majority of public officers have breached the contract called democracy.”

“Since the acquisition of security equipment alone cannot guarantee peace, law and order the Constitution has prescribed that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

“As part of the fundamental objectives of the neocolonial State the participation of the people in their government is guaranteed in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act. The implication is that elected officials are mandatorily required to have their mandate renewed periodically through fair and free elections.”

“Nigeria is said to be a State that is based on the principles of democracy and social justice, the federal, state and local governments are under a legal obligation to promote the happiness, freedom and prosperity of the people. But in view of the monetisation of the electoral process by the political class, Nigeria cannot be said to be a democratic society.”

“It has become a plutocratic society where only the few rich people can contest and win elections. In other words, democracy is no longer a government of the people but a government of a few rich and powerful individuals.”

“A situation whereby corruption is fought, even though partially, by the Federal Government alone should stop.”

“In view of the duty imposed on the State by section 15(5) of the Constitution to ‘abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’, the authorities of the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory should establish anti graft agencies to fight the menace of corruption, recover looted fund and prosecute indicted individuals, groups and organisations.”

“In addition to the recovery of looted public fund from all criminal elements, serving l and retired public officers who wish to contest elections should be thoroughly investigated. Those who betrayed the public trust by looting the treasury should not be allowed to pollute the electoral process with stolen money.”

“Nigerians must stop the dangerous culture of of “Owo Abu lafi se Abu lejo” (we used Abu’s money to entertain Abu as a visitor).”

“The National Economic Council (NEC) established pursuant to section 153(1) and Paragraphs 18 & 19 of Part I of the Third Schedule to the Constitution has the mandate to ‘advise the President concerning the economic affairs of the Federation, and in particular on measures necessary for the coordination of the economic planning efforts or economic programmes of the various Governments of the Federation.’”

“The National Economic Council chaired by the Vice- President is comprised of the Governor of each state of the Federation and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

“Notwithstanding the establishment of the NEC by the Constitution, successive regimes have ignored its advice. They prefer to rely on the advice of the Presidential Economic Council on the one hand and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on the other.”

“As a matter of fact, the Government has swallowed hook, line and sinker the neoliberal economic policies dictated by the Bretton Wood institutions. Even though such policies have turned Nigeria into the headquarters of global poverty the Federal Government has not plucked up the courage to abandon them in the interest of the national economy.”

“I wish to submit without any fear of contradiction that the economic policies of the Government are in conflict with section 16 (3)(d) of the Constitution which provides that the State shall ensure that ‘suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens.’”

“To guarantee adequate resources to meet the basic responsibilities of the Government the Constitutional has prohibited the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few people or of a group.”

“It is crystal clear that the economy will soon enter into another recession due to unprecedented importation of fuel and other goods from western countries and China, grand corruption, dollarisation of the economy and implementation of neoliberal economic policies the Nigerian economy.”

“The mismanagement of the economy has been confirmed by top officials of the Buhari administration. While the Comptroller-General of Costoms, Colonel Hamid Ali has accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Directorate of Petroleum Resources of involvement in the smuggling of fuel into neighbouring countries the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has blamed the NNPC for not remitting dollars into the Federation Account.”

“Whereas the sum of N443 billion was provided for fuel subsidy in the 2022 budget the National Assembly has passed the supplementary budget which increased the fund to N4 trillion. Based on the massive devaluation of the Naira through dollarisation the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has disclosed that fuel subsidy may gulp N6.5 trillion this year.”

“Meanwhile, the NNPC has been unbundled in accordance with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act. But President Buhari has singlehandedly reorganised the oil and gas industry by appointing the members of the Boards of the NNPC and the new companies.”

“Although the NNPC, Central Bank of Nigeria, and scores of other parastatals and enterprises were established with fund from the Federation Account they are managed by the Federal Government alone. The investment of Nigeria in the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) was paid from the Federation Account. But the huge return of over $20 billion on the investment of the Federation in the NLNG has been cornered by the Federal Government.”

“The electricity companies and other parastatals and enterprises owned by the people of Nigeria have privatised, commercialised or con-cessioned by the Federal Government without the consent of the state and local governments. Even the Federation Account is exclusively managed by the Federal Government. Thus, a token of the revenue generated by over 100 public enterprises belonging to Nigeria is remitted to the Federation Account by the Federal Government.”

“In the light of the foregoing, it is suggested that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) should demand for urgent review of the Petroleum Industry Act to ensure the joint management of the natural resources of the nation which has been vested in the Government of the Federation by section 44(3) of the Nigerian Constitution.”

“In the same vein, the NGF and ALGON should demand for the joint management of the NNPC and other parastatals and enterprises which were established with fund from the Federation Account. In order to prevent another economic recession, both NGF and ALGON should demand for the immediate removal of the CBN Governor, Mr. Emefiele.”

“It is indisputable that the monetary policies of the CBN under his watch have ruined the economy while he has failed to resolve the conflict of interest arising from his membership of the ruling party. The CBN should be run by professionals of integrity and supervised by a Board constituted by the representatives of the Federal, State and Local Governments.”

Planned Labour Strike Not Illegal, Falana Tells FG

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, on Sunday said the planned strike by labour leaders is not illegal as the freedom of expression is backed by the Constitution.

The Nigerian Labour Congress had announced that it would embark on a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to compel the government to resolve the over five-month-old strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

READ ALSO: Falana: ASUU Prepared To Call Off Strike If FG Implements Renegotiated Agreement

Addressing a press conference last Wednesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed described the protest as illegal, saying it will create anarchy in the country.

But Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the protest cannot be said to be illegitimate as Sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 create room for freedom of assembly of Nigerian workers.

“With respect, the proposed protest cannot be said to be illegal since it is an expression of the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly of Nigerian workers guaranteed by sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and articles 39 and 40 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” Falana said.

“Indeed the fundamental right of the people of Nigeria to protest for and against the Government was upheld by the Court of Appeal in the celebrated case of the Inspector-General of Police v All Nigeria Peoples Party (2008) 12 WRN 65.”

See the full statement issued below:

THE LEGALITY OF THE PLANNED PROTEST BY THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS IN SOLIDARITY WITH ASUU

As a sequel to the failure of the Federal Government to resolve the industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over 5 months ago, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has announced plans to embark on nationwide protest marches and rallies in support of ASUU on July 26 and 27. 2022. However, the Federal Government has declared the proposed protest illegal. The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed stated this while briefing journalists on the decisions of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its meeting in Abuja last Wednesday.

With respect, the proposed protest cannot be said to be illegal since it is an expression of the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly of Nigerian workers guaranteed by sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and articles 39 and 40 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Indeed the fundamental right of the people of Nigeria to protest for and against the Government was upheld by the Court of Appeal in the celebrated case of the Inspector-General of Police v All Nigeria Peoples Party (2008) 12 WRN 65

In the leading judgment of the Court of Appeal, Adekeye JCA (as then was) held that “Public Order Act should be promulgated to compliment sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution in context and not to stifle or cripple it. A rally or placard-carrying demonstration has become a form of expression of views on current issues affecting government and the governed in a sovereign state. It is a trend recognised and deeply entrenched in the system of governance in civilised countries. It will not only be primitive but also retrogressive if Nigeria continues to require a pass to hold a rally. We must borrow a leaf from those who have trekked the rugged path of democracy and are now reaping the dividend of their experience.”

In line with the injunction of the Court of Appeal the National Assembly ensured that the right of Nigerian citizens to assemble and express themselves freely and peacefully has been complimented by the Police Establishment Act 2020. The Act has imposed a duty on the Nigeria Police Force to provide adequate security during meetings, rallies and processions convened by Nigerian citizens. Specifically, section 83(4) of the Act stipulates as follows:

“Where a person or organization notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to , the police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilize personnel to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession.”

Having confirmed that the Nigeria Labour Congress has notified the Authorities of the Nigeria Police Force of the planned protest marches and rallies in strict compliance with the aforementioned provision of the Police Establishment Act, 2020, we call on the Federal Government to respect the democratic wishes of Nigerian workers to identify with the striking university lecturers. Since the protest by the NLC is just and legitimate the ASCAB has mobilised lawyers in the Federal Capital Territory and the 36 States of the Federation to provide legal services for the protesters.

Femi Falana SAN,

Interim Chair,

Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB).

24th July, 2022

Falana: ASUU Prepared To Call Off Strike If FG Implements Renegotiated Agreement

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on November 18, 2021.

 

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has once again spoken up about the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

In a statement on Thursday, he ramped up his push for the Federal Government to take action to meet the demands of the striking lecturers and end the industrial action which started on February 14.

Less than 72 hours after he called on the Federal Government to submit a supplementary budget to appropriate N200 billion to revamp federal universities across the country, Falana is calling on the government to sign the renegotiated agreement with the union.

“Based on our consultation with the leadership of ASUU, we have confirmed that the entire members of ASUU are fully prepared to call off the strike as soon as the FG/ASUU Renegotiated Agreement is executed by the Federal Government,” said Falana, who is also the interim Chair of Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB).

“In the circumstance, we are compelled to call on President Buhari to end the industrial action by directing the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu to execute the Renegotiated Agreement. The Agreement should be executed as soon as possible in the public interest.”


Related:

There Is No Collective Bargaining Agreement Between FG, ASUU – Ngige

Strike: Instead of Resolving The Problem, Ngige Is Busy Abusing His Colleagues – ASUU President


 

Falana detailed how the agreement was renegotiated and faulted the Minister of Labour and Employment for the delay in moving forward with it.

He said, “It is public knowledge that the Federal Government inaugurated the Renegotiation Committee headed by Professor Munzali Jubrin in December 2020.

“The Committee was saddled with the sole responsibility of addressing the demand of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) pertaining to the task of revamping all federal universities in the country.

“After extensive consultations with all the relevant stakeholders, the Committee completed the national (assignment and) submitted a comprehensive report to the Federal Government in May 2021.

“Regrettably, the Agreement was not signed by the Federal Government 9 months after the submission of the said report. Hence, ASUU embarked on the current industrial action.”

He lamented that the strike has lasted for almost five months due to “the dissatisfaction of the Federal Government with certain aspects of the report of the Jibrin Renegotiate Committee”.

He continued, “Instead of ironing out the grey areas in the agreement the Federal Government turned round to set up another Renegotiated Committee under the leadership of Professor Nimi Briggs in March 2022.

“The Committee has also submitted its report to the Federal Government. Even though the Federal government and the ASUU have reached an understanding to call off the ongoing strike based on the execution of the report of the Briggs Committee, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, has announced the purported rejection of the report.”

According to Falana, available information shows the Federal Government has not authorised the Minister to reject the agreement and subject ASUU to a campaign of calumny.

“The implication of rejecting the report of the Briggs Renegotiated Committee is that the ASUU strike will continue indefinitely,” he said.

He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently expressed concern over the strike and called on ASUU to call it off saying that”enough is enough.

According to him, it would take the execution of the agreement for the union to heed the call.