Fed Govt Dispensing State Judiciary Funds Is Unconstitutional, Says Wike

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, says the Federal Government’s decision to dissipate State funds on behalf of State judiciaries, under the purported Executive Order 10, is illegal and ill-advised.

He said if the decision is implemented more problems will be created and this will hamper the independence of the judiciary.

Governor Wike stated this during a special court session organised to mark the opening of the 2020/2021 legal year of the Rivers state judiciary in Port Harcourt on Friday.

He argued that the action of the Federal Government constitute yet, another clear breach of the constitutional powers of the Governors to manage State resources in a federal system. According to him, the Federal Government cannot legitimately claim to be more interested in the progress of State judiciaries than the Governors of the respective States; particularly, Rivers State.

The governor stated that the independence of the judiciary is not only about finances, but the ability of judicial officers to write judgments without the fear of being harassed by officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) or the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

READ ALSO: Our Achievements Have Killed APC, Others In Rivers State, Says Wike

Governor Wike said while the issue of inadequate funding for the judiciary has been a recurrent challenge preventing the judiciary across the nation from enjoying practical autonomy and efficiency, the situation in Rivers State under his administration has been different.

The Governor, however, took a swipe at the chairman of Nigerian Bar Association Port Harcourt branch, Prince Nyekwere, for alleging that some persons were extrajudicially killed by the military, in the aftermath of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) killing of six soldiers, four policemen, and destruction of all police stations and Court buildings in Oyigbo.

He wondered why the NBA, which is yet to make a formal submission to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the State to probe the atrocities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), will without evidence allege extrajudicial killings in Oyigbo.

The Governor lauded the Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Adama Iyaye Lamikanra for her illustrious service and commitment to the progress of the judiciary in the State.

He stated that people had opposed her elevation as the Chief Judge based on her status as a non-indigene. But, noted that fortunately, she has vindicated the government’s decision to support her appointment.

“As the Chief Judge, you have been honest, effective, and transformational. Under your leadership, the judiciary developed effective cooperation with the executive and the legislative branches of government to secure, strengthen, and advance the administration of justice.”

In her remarks, the Chief Judge, Justice Adama Iyaye Lamikanra, lauded Governor Wike, for providing the State judiciary the needed funds to ensure people have unhindered access to justice.

She condemned the destruction of all court buildings in Oyigbo by members of the outlawed IPOB, describing it as a set back for dispensation of justice.

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zacchaeus Adangor, said his ministry as an institutional stakeholder in the justice sector, will continue to cooperate and collaborate with the State judiciary and other stakeholders in driving the necessary reform and improving the administration of justice.

Earlier, there was a rededication church service that held at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral Church, Port Harcourt where the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took the first lesson, while the second lesson was taken by Chief Judge of the State, Justice Adama Iyaye -Lamikanra.

In his sermon, the Archbishop of Port Harcourt Methodist Church of Nigeria, Most Reverend Sunday Agwu admonished the need for the judiciary to continue to uphold the truth, fairness, and justice without compromise.

He noted that most judicial officers devote more time to pursuing financial gratifications in order to deliver justice to favour the highest bidders to the detriment of the poor.

Archbishop Agwu reminded them to do self-evaluation on this occasion of rededication service so that they can resolve to confidently check the excesses of the other arms of government and contribute their quota to building a virile society.

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was accompanied by his wife, Justice Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Senator Sam Anyanwu, and several other dignitaries.

‘The Timing Is Suspicious’: NBA President Faults Moves To Regulate Social Media

The NBA President believes social media is already regulated in Nigeria.

 

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata has faulted moves by the Federal Government to further regulate social media and believes the timing is wrong. 

“I struggle with the terms that we bandy around. Like I said, I think the social media space is regulated already, ” the NBA President said on Sunday Politics when asked if social media need further regulation.

“Are we saying regulate or shutdown? What are we saying because we hear them using regulate? We hear the minister of Information use the word ‘sanitize.’ I just say to myself, ‘what are we trying to do?’ The timing is suspicious.”

While admitting that there are people who are “irresponsible” in their usage of social media, he said the country has laws to deal with such kind of persons.

“And if we need to tweak the laws here and there, as we amend our laws every day to meet with issues that may come up that were not previously contemplated, we are all well and good,” he argued.

“But it is not throwing out the baby and the bathwater approach like I suspect that is in contemplation by those who are handling the levers of power today. That is not going to work.”

—Well Within Their Rights—

On the setting up of panels of enquiry into the activities of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the legal practitioner noted that despite arguments on their legality, the governors have the right to do so.

“I think the governors are well within their rights or the power of the law to set up those panels of enquiry for the purpose of determining whether or not the now-disbanded SARS went beyond their remit; whether or not the claims that we have from various Nigerians as to how they were mistreated or illegally treated by SARS are correct,” he noted.

Nigerians Disappointed Because They Are Looking For Results In The Wrong Place – Fashola

 

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola on Thursday said Nigerians are disappointed in the present administration because they are looking for results in the wrong place.

Fashola who disclosed this in an interview on Channels Television said Nigerians should note that governance is not magic and the results they promptly need can only be delivered by state and local government which are the closest to grassroots.

READ ALSO: [email protected]: PDP Asks Buhari To Rejig Cabinet, Save Nigeria From Collapse

“Governance is not magic. It is the act of the possible and our responsibility is to always project hope. Perhaps those who feel that way (disappointed) should be made to realize that what we expect of the Nigerian Federal government lies more with the state government and the local government…some of the most basic things.

“What we should do is to focus on the government that is closest to us. I will urge people to go and read the constitution, the powers the President has are about 45, many of them are categorised as power but they are even functions and duties.

“The government that can transform us and give us what we want quickly are the government closest to us – state and local government,” he said.

Fashola notes that basic infrastructure like primary healthcare, primary education, among others which Nigerians clamour for, can only be delivered by state and local governments.

“Looking for the Federal Government or a magic President is why we seem to have been disappointed. We are looking for the results in the wrong place,” Fashola said.

He urged Nigerians to read the constitution to understand better the divide between the state and the Federal Government.

According to him refuse management, water supply, primary healthcare, basic education, etc are all matters within the local and state government and the duties rest upon the state governors.

Income Tax: FG Orders Account Holders To Fill Self-Certification Forms

 

The Federal Government has directed all account holders in the country to obtain and fill self-certification forms in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.

The directive contained in a series of tweets on Thursday stated that each account holder must submit the filled forms in their respective financial institutions.

“This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc) are required to obtain, complete, and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions.

“Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions is required to complete & submit the form to each one of the institutions,” it stressed

The government, however, stated that the exercise is part of due diligence exercise mandated by the banks and other financial institutions in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.

According to the directive, the forms have been categorised into three: Form for Entity, for Controlling Person (Individuals having a controlling interest in a legal person, trustee, etc); and form for individual

The directive by the government warned that “failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account.”

FG Launches Central Database For Recovered Stolen Assets

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.
File photo of Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, during an interview on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has launched a central database for the management of recovered assets.

The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami during the launch on Thursday, in Abuja, said all the assets that have been recovered by the Federal Government are now tied to specific projects.

The launch was witnessed by officials from government agencies including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

READ ALSO: FG Approves Establishment Of New Anti-Corruption Agency

In his remark ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye said all anti-corruption agencies should be digitised and integrated for easy access.

He adds that the idea of the central database system is to ensure that all anti-corruption agencies harmonise all recovered assets.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had earlier in December 2019 told journalists in Abuja that a central database will be created for the management of recovered assets stolen from the country.

He stressed that the war against corruption in the country by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is devoid of any political or ethnic sentiments.

Soku Oil Wells: Bayelsa Govt Drags FG, Akwa Ibom To Supreme Court

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Bayelsa State government has approached the Supreme Court asking for an order stopping the Federal Government over the payment of monthly statutory allocation from Soku oil wells to Rivers State.

In a suit filed in Abuja, the Bayelsa State Government is invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, which enables a state government to sue the Federal Government directly at the apex court.

The suit is predicated on a December 2019 judgement of a Federal High Court, ceding the Soku fields to Rivers State.

READ ALSO: El-Rufai Signs Law To Castrate Rapists In Kaduna

A Federal High Court had earlier in December 2019 ruled that Rivers State owns the disputed Soku oil wells located in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court had declared that after examining all the documents from relevant Government agencies and facts before the court, the Soku Oil Wells/fields belong to Rivers State.

Bayelsa State in its suit against the Federal Government, however, claims that it stands to lose billions of naira accruable to it if the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) complies with the judgement and pays the allocation to Rivers State.

Bayelsa State is also seeking an interlocutory injunction against Akwa Ibom state asking the Supreme Court to stop the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission from withholding its statutory allocation or deducting it in favour of Akwa Ibom State.

No date has yet been fixed for the hearing.

FG To Prosecute Unruly Passengers At Airports

A file photo of aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.
A file photo of aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.

 

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has read the riot act to all unruly passengers who violate protocols at the airports, including dignitaries. 

Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika says the Federal Government will ensure the prosecution of such persons.

Mr. Sirika also confirmed that investigations are ongoing over alleged cases of breach of airport protocol by some prominent Nigerians.

In a similar vein, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has asked all very important personalities to obey all COVID-19 protocols at the nation’s airports or risk being denied access to any of its facilities.

FAAN also insisted that Governor Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State and former Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State flouted the guidelines in place for passenger facilitation at the Port Harcourt and Kano airports, respectively.

READ ALSO: FAAN Commences Dry Run For Reopening Of Flight Operations

Below is the full statement by FAAN as published on Twitter.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) notes with dismay, two acts of infractions on the rules and guidelines for air passengers and airport users.

The first incident occurred on Saturday, July 11, 2020, at the Aminu Kano International Airport, when the former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, declined to adhere to the Port Health protocols and procedures.

The second incident occurred on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, when the Governor of Adamawa State, Alhaji Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, arrived at the Port Harcourt International Airport, in the company of eight other passengers. He also fragrantly refused to observe airport security and port health protocols.

As a responsible institution of the Federal Government of Nigeria, FAAN holds all officials of the state in high esteem and accords them all the courtesies their status deserves. Therefore, FAAN has no personal issues with Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari and Governor Fintiri.

We are merely implementing our standard operating procedures (SOPs) to assure the success of our Security and Public health Protocols. The protocols flouted by both personalities were duly approved by the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

They were intended to protect all airport users and to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

By their actions, the two personalities put at risk not only themselves but also other airport users. These protocols are now part of the new normal all over the world, and no person, no matter how highly placed, is exempted from them, else he would be denied access to our facilities.

FAAN wishes to restate the need for all air travelers to strictly adhere to the security, Public health, and operational protocols put in place to make air travel in the country safe, secure, and efficient, especially in the midst of this pandemic.

Our esteemed Government officials and other Very Important Personalities (VIP) should not only comply with the rules but provide leadership for other air travelers, by projecting good conduct and protecting public safety.

FAAN will continue to enforce the protocols, and advise all air travelers to adhere strictly to the same.

FG Releases Details Of Special Programme To Employ 774,000 Nigerians

The first press briefing and the unveiling of the criteria and modus-operandi for selecting beneficiaries and executing the Special Public Works Programme with Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo and others.

 

Despite the suspension of the Federal Government Special Public Works Programme by the National Assembly, the Federal Government says the programme has kicked off across the country.

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo on Tuesday, inaugurated special committees in all the states of the Federation and the FCT for the selection of applicants for the programme.

The SPW is a post-COVID-19 poverty alleviation programme, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, under which 1,000 persons are to be employed from each of the 774 Local Government Areas in the country.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the plan of his administration to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.

 

The initiative is expected to commence on October 1 and according to the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, each beneficiary will be paid N20,000 monthly to carry out public works.

 

 

In a virtual inauguration conference jointly addressed by the Director-General, National Directorate of Employment, Dr Nasir Ladan Argungu in Abuja, the Minister said: “These Committees would be saddled with the responsibility of identifying the public works to be executed in each of the LGAs in all the States. This would be in addition to projects already identified by several Federal Ministries, Agencies and Parastatals in different localities across the country.

 

“Having accepted the recommendations, we also ensured that the composition of the Committees is multi-sectoral and local enough to balance all the competing interests in different States. Your selection, therefore, was a result of a painstaking process we carried out to ensure that we make the exercise as credible as possible,” the Minister said.

“The 1,000 persons you will recruit per LGA would be engaged by the Federal Government between October and December this year to carry out public works that are peculiar to each Local Government Area.

“They would be paid a total of N60,000 each (that is N20,000 per month). They would be engaged in roads rehabilitation and social housing construction, urban and rural sanitation, health extension and other critical services,” he explained.

He further stated that the programme could be extended or repeated every year.

“After the selection of those to be engaged, they still have to be captured by some selected banks we are in talks with, their account opened, and their BVNs obtained. This is because Mr President has directed that everyone must be paid through their BVNs to eliminate fraud in the programme.

“As a result, I direct that all the States’ Selection Committees have just three weeks to complete the selection process and return the names of those selected to us for further processing with the banks.

“My belief is that if the committees adhere strictly to the guidelines given to them, they are bound to achieve the targets set by Mr President to reach out to 774,000 Nigerians who are largely indigent and itinerant worker,” he added.

Report Anyone Who Demands Payment For COVID-19 Test – Ehanire

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, gives an update on COVID-19 in the country during a press conference in Abuja on July 6, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has asked Nigerians to report anyone who demands payment for the conduct of COVID-19 test in the country.

Speaking on Monday during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said COVID-19 test remains free.

“I wish to remind everyone that government-run testing for COVID-19 is free. Please report anyone who demands payment for necessary action,” he said.

Ehanire noted that as of July 6, Nigeria has recorded a total of 28,711 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country out of 152,952 tests conducted.

READ ALSO: FG To Shut Third Mainland Bridge For Six Months

While explaining that 11,665 people have been treated successfully and discharged, he, however, regretted that 645 fatalities have unfortunately occurred.

Stressing further, the Health Minister lamented that June (last month) recorded half the total number of deaths recorded so far.

“It means that just under half of the total fatalities so far recorded occurred in that single month of June. While we more than doubled the tests done and the number of cases detected.

“The reduction in case fatality rate is down to about 2.2 per cent as opposed to about 5 per cent we have seen on global average,” he said.

COVID-19: FG Approves $150m Stabilisation Fund

File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari appending his signature.

 

The Federal Government has announced the approval of $150million stabilisation fund to meet shortfalls in monthly allocations.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, announced this on Monday, in Abuja during a media briefing on the measures to tackle the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

She explained that owing to the decline in the monthly allocations from N716 billion in January to N645 billion in February and N581 billion in March, the Federal Government has approved a stabilisation fund of $150 million to meet the short fall in monthly allocation.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: CBN Warns Nigerians Against Cyber Criminals, Fraudsters

She added that the amount would be withdrawn from the stabilisation fund component of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Ahmed during the briefing also announced the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 crisis intervention fund.

Part of the proceeds of the intervention fund will go into a special works program, which targets states and local governments and is expected to create one thousand jobs in each local government areas.

Other measures to be adopted by the Federal Government to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, according to Ahmed, include accessing loans from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank.

She gave a breakdown of expected loans from International Organisations to include $3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF); $2.5 billion from the World Bank; and $1billion from the African Development Bank (ADB).

As part of measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government also plans to restructure the Treasury Single Account (TSA).

This according to the Finance Minister is to allow for flexibility of donations into the Federal Government’s coffers.

COVID-19: NMA Rejects FG’s Decision To Invite Chinese Doctors

 

More reactions have continued to trail the Federal Government’s decision to invite medical doctors from China to assist in managing COVID-19 cases in the country.

The latest of such reactions is coming from the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) who described the action as an embarrassment to its members.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Resident Doctors Kick Against FG’s Plan To Invite Chinese Medical Experts

In a statement on Monday, the union said it is dismayed about the decision of the Federal Government to invite doctors from China, when the Chinese government is still battling with the pandemic.

According to the statement, Nigeria has a large pool of unemployed general medical and specialist practitioners that the government can engage instead of foreigners who can pose some security concerns at this time.

The NMA advised the government to concentrate on improving the welfare of front-line health workers, provide them with the needed personal protective equipment and other incentives to work.

In its communique, the NMA stated that it would like to review her participation in the fight against COVID-19 considering the serious implications and risks this will bring to their members should the government insist on invitation.

Coronavirus: FG Seeks National Assembly’s Approval For N500bn Intervention Fund

 

The Federal Government is seeking to establish a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund to upgrade healthcare facilities and provide intervention to states.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed disclosed this on Saturday at a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly.

She says the proposed fund to be created will involve mopping up resources from various special accounts from the federation as well as be sourced from grants being expected and loans from multilateral institutions.

READ ALSO: Five New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed, Total Infections Now 214

The Finance Minister is seeking the approval of the National Assembly for the taking of loans from these special accounts and promised to return to parliament with a proposed bill in that regard which will define what the fund will be used for.

Responding, Senate President Ahmed Lawan says the loan request is critical because the country is in an emergency and time is of the essence.

He is, however, asking the Federal Government to examine another approach in its implementation of the Social Intervention Programme as he says giving out N20,000 to indigent Nigerians might not be the best way to go.