ASUU Strike Can End Today, But FG Is Not Ready – Falana

 

Human rights activist, Femi Falana, has stated that the ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities can be resolved immediately, but the government isn’t ready to do so.

Falana made this known on Friday during an interview on Channels Television’s flagship programme, Sunrise daily.

The federal government had been in disagreement with the striking University body leading to the industrial court ordering the lecturers to return to the classrooms.

Despite Justice Polycarp Hamman Wednesday’s ruling, ASUU’s President Professor Victor Osodeke was adamant that the lecturers won’t back down and would appeal the injunction.

Giving his thoughts on the court ruling the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said, “If the government listens to ASUU all the strikes are avoidable.”

“It is about funding… in 1992, ASUU convinced the government that employers of labour should pay education tax because those trained by the government are employed by employers.”

The 64-year-old was annoyed at the government’s refusal to honour its agreement pact signed in 2009 to revitalise the public tertiary institution but was willing to increase the fuel subsidy.

“All the government says is we have no money, but the same administration, this year alone, increased fuel subsidy from 443 billion Naira to 4 trillion Naira and we are now being told that before the end of the year may metamorphose into 6.3 trillion.”

“So where are you getting such money to fund waste and fraud but when it comes to education you say you have no money, I think these are some of the issues,” he said.

 

Wrong To Approach Industrial Court

 

 

Falana was of the opinion that the federal government were wrong to have filed the case before the industrial court.

“[It was wrong to approach the court] we tried to explain to the court, and the court said they would look at that later.”

“We made clear to the court and submitted more than six cases where the same court as warned the minister consistently that you cannot come here without originating your case in the IAP if it relates to trade disputes,” he said

“This is the first time in the history of that court that we have been told that the minister can refer a case to the national industrial court without going through the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP).”

“Because the NIC under the current labour law regime in Nigeria is an appellate chamber of the AIP. So, it is an appellate court. It is only when individuals are sacked that you want to challenge your employer or there are intra or inter-union disputes that you approach the national industrial court.:

There must be meditation, conciliation and arbitration under the law.

“The court so found that this is a trade dispute and that there was no reference to the IAP, but the court in its wisdom decided to intervene, and the only way you can show your dissatisfaction is to approach the appeal court which ASUU has decided to do.”

Assault: I Was Misquoted, No Room For Human Rights Abuses By Policemen, Says FPRO

Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi

 

 

The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, says the Nigeria Police Force does not condone indiscipline and violation of citizens’ rights by police officers.

Adejobi had in a tweet on Saturday, said, “Even if a policeman on 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 uniform, the disrespect is not to the policeman but to our nation and it’s a crime as enshrined in our criminal laws.”

 

 

But a human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, tackled Adejobi, saying assault on civilians by policemen attracts 25-year imprisonment.

However, in a statement on Monday, the FPRO said his tweet was “misquoted”.

Read the full statement below:

WE DON’T CONDONE INDISCIPLINE, VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS – FPRO

• As Police Reacts to Lagos Trending video of civilians assaulting Policemen in Uniform

It has become pertinent to emphasize that the Nigeria Police Force has been a vanguard of sustainable democracy in the country via the aggressive protection of the fundamental rights of the citizens and other members of the Nigerian society. This has been evident in the continuous sanctions meted out by the Police authority on officers engaged in violation of individual rights, as well as extant laws when reported via any of the available police complaint channels.

The Force Public Relations Officer reacted to a trending video where some individuals grievously assaulted a police officer, and attempted to disarm the officer by dragging his loaded AK47 rifle, restating the law on serious assault as enshrined in Section 356 (2) of the Criminal Code Act of Southern Nigeria with explanations. However, some media platforms deliberately misquoted it as endorsing violence by uniformed officers against members of the public.

Where a public officer acts contrary to the provisions of extant laws, there are channels to report such conduct and get prompt justice, particularly in the Nigeria Police Force. In the extant case, the individuals resorted to self-help and assaulted the officers, attempted to snatch the officers’ firearms, and in so doing breached the law. It is trite that two wrongs cannot make a right, as such whatever the provocation, the action of the individuals were wrong in all ramifications as they would have reported the matter for prompt action. Emphasis on this has been misrepresented across media platforms as a single tweet in a thread was mischievously read out of context with a mischievous caption “No Nigerian Has the Right to Retaliate when Police Slaps You… “.

The Force urges well-meaning members of the public all of whom are strategic stakeholders in policing across the country to disregard the malicious publications as the current police administration is committed to ensuring that the rights of all citizens, uniformed or not, are protected across board.

Furthermore, the Force urges the Nigerian populace not to take laws into their hands whenever they have unpleasant encounters with police officers. Complaints arising from such encounters can be reported via the Police Public Relations Officers (PPROs) of the various Commands, the Complaint Response Unit (CRU) and via official Police accounts across social media platforms. Similarly, the idea of pouncing on and beating up Law Enforcement Agents carrying out their public duty by members of the public whom they serve is criminal and disrespectful to our beloved nation, Nigeria, and must not be allowed to exacerbate.

CSP OLUMUYIWA ADEJOBI, mnipr, mipra,
FORCE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER,
FORCE HEADQUARTERS,
ABUJA

Monday 19th September 2022

Why ASUU Cannot Be Banned – Femi Falana

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana speaks during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on January 10, 2022

 

In his latest reflection on the issue of the protracted strike action by the Academic Strike Union of University (ASUU) and the failures of the government to reach an agreement which would see students get back to class, Femi Falana (SAN), says negotiations must resume in earnest.

The human rights lawyer, said resorting to blackmail will not help the government.

Falana advised the Federal Government to commit itself to the faithful implementation of collective agreements reached with ASUU which are enforceable by virtue of the relevant provisions of the Trade Disputes Act instead of embracing the fascist option of proscribing the union.

Below is the full communique as published by the senior advocate.


Under the British colonial regime, trade unions were prohibited while strikes were criminalised. But Nigerian workers defied the ban and formed trade unions to challenge the crude exploration of the nation’s resources by the foreign colonisers.

When the British saw the futility of the proscription the Trade Union Ordinance of 1939 was promulgated. The law allowed the formation of trade unions but outlawed strikes. Notwithstanding the anti strike provision of the law the general strike of 1945 led by the Nigerian Railway Union under the leadership of Comrade Michael Imoudu paralysed the colonial economy for days.

From that moment, workers resolved to be in the front line in the decolonisation struggle. Hence, the British resorted to brutal attacks of workers. For example, the Enugu coal miners were brutally attacked by the colonial police for embarking on strike for improved conditions of service in November 1949.

The murderous attack led to the death of 21 colliery workers while several others were injured. The strike provoked a nationwide condemnation which exposed the atrocious activities of the British colonial regime.

Like the colonialists the military dictators banned the nation’s trade unions in 1966. But the workers defied the ban and embarked on several strikes after the civil war.

By 1973, the Yakubu Gowon regime discarded the anti workers policy and promulgated the Trade Union Act of 1973. The Olusegun Obasanjo military regime promulgated the Trade Disputes Act of 1976.

The Shehu Shagari administration did not ban workers but infiltrated the trade union movement to weaken agitation by Nigerian workers. In 1992 the Ibrahim Babangida military junta wanted to ban ASUU but was advised against it on the ground that it would not work. So the junta enacted a decree which regarded strike as a treasonable offence.

We rushed to the Lagos State High Court presided over by Justice M. Ope Agbe. We convinced the Judge about the illegality of the obnoxious decree and his Lordship granted an order which halted the implementation of the fascistic legislation.

In 1994, the Sani Abacha military junta enacted a decree which purportedly proscribed ASUU. We approached the Enugu judicial division of the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Ajakaiye.

Again, we convinced the court to smash the primitive decree. His Lordship ruled that the decree did not proscribe ASUU but merely restricted its activities to individual university campuses.

The regime was frustrated as ASUU did not operate outside the four walls of university campuses. The Babangida junta proceeded to promulgate a decree which exorcised ASUU and other senior staff from the Nigeria Labour Congress to prevent them from inciting workers.

The junta banned the customs and immigration staff union and jailed the leaders of the electricity staff unions for embarking on a strike. But the NEPA Eleven were later granted pardon and released from prison custody.

In 2005, the Olusegun Obasanjo civilian administration amended the Trade Union Act by making the membership of trade unions optional. The payment of check dues was made voluntary while workers wishing to embark on industrial action are required to conduct a plebiscite.

Individual ASUU members signed letters which directed university management to continue to deduct their check off dues. In strict compliance with the relevant provisions of the Act, ASUU does not embark on a strike without conducting a plebiscite among its members in all its branches.

Thus, ASUU is currently the best organised trade union in Africa.

Under the current democratic dispensation the fundamental right of citizens to form or belong to political parties and trade unions is guaranteed by section 40 of the Constitution and Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

As a member of the committee of civilised nations the Government of Nigeria has ratified the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention No 87 of the International Labour Organization Convention.

It is pertinent to note that parties to the Convention are obligated to ensure the right of both employers and employees to join an organisation of their choice and free from any influence of authorities which belong to the core principles of the ILO.

In the case of Olaniyan v University of Lagos (1986) 4 NWLR (Pt 34) 162 at 173, Ayo Irikefe CJN (as he then was) said that, “In my view, constitutionally entrenched provisions, particularly those safeguarding individual rights should not, save in a fascist system, be lightly trampled upon.”

Therefore, to ban ASUU the Government will have to amend the fundamental right of citizens to freedom of association enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution.

It is a special amendment which requires the resolution of four fifths of members of the National Assembly and approved by two thirds majority of members of not less than 24 Houses of Assembly.

In addition, the Federal Government will withdraw its ratification of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention No 87of the International Labour Organisation.

The anti-democratic forces urging the Buhari administration to ban ASUU should be made to realise that a democratic government lacks the competence to abrogate the fundamental rights of citizens outside the ambit of the Constitution.

Those who are berating ASUU for alleged recalcitrance should advise the Federal Government to accord priorities to the funding of tertiary education. After all, following the directive of the Federal Government the Central Bank of Nigeria has just released $235 million to foreign airlines to facilitate foreign travels by a few privileged citizens.

And whereas the Federal Government budgeted the sum of N443 billion for the so called fuel subsidy in the 2022 Appropriation Act the fund has been increased to N4 trillion via a Supplementary Appropriation Bill approved by members of both chambers of the National Assembly.

It is interesting to note that the details of the humongous sum were not scrutinised by the federal legislators.

As if that was not enough the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has disclosed that fuel subsidy will gulp N6.5 trillion this year alone. And very soon, the National Assembly will approve another supplementary budget of N2.5 trillion for the monumental fraud. But when it comes to funding tertiary education the Federal Government is said to be broke!

Instead of embracing the fascist option of prescribing ASUU the Federal Government should commit itself to the faithful implementation of collective agreements reached with ASUU which are enforceable by virtue of the relevant provisions of the Trade Disputes Act.

For instance, in the 1992 and 2009 FG/ASUU Agreements it was expressly stated that the revenue realised from the sale of the properties of the Federal Government abandoned in Lagos when the Federal Capital was moved to Abuja would be channelled towards the funding of tertiary education in the country. But the Federal Government has turned round to sell the properties to private individuals and corporate bodies at low giveaway prices.

Some of the properties were sold to powerful individuals and corporate bodies including a multinational corporation. Since a number of the properties have not been sold the Federal Government should turn them over to the universities in line with the terms of the FG/ASUU Collective Agreements.

It may also interest concerned citizens to know that pursuant to the 1992 Agreement the management of the universities had registered and established consultancy firms to handle jobs by professionals in the academic community in the country. But the university councils peopled by government appointees prefer to farm out multi million Naira contracts to contractors nominated by the ruling political parties.

Through such dubious arrangements the meagre fund earmarked for capital projects in the universities is diverted as a number of the projects are abandoned.

It is on record that some cases of large scale corruption reported to the anti graft agencies were not allowed to be investigated by the Federal Government.

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund suggested by ASUU and incorporated into the 1992 FG/ASUU Agreement was enacted into law in 1993. Thus, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act imposes a two percent (2%) education tax on the profits of every registered company in Nigeria. Regrettably, the fund is collected in a rather haphazard manner by the Federal Government. In spite of pressure from ASUU the Federal Government has failed to recover the several billions of Naira from companies that have defaulted in contributing to the Fund. The Government has also refused to publish the list of companies that are qualified to contribute to the Fund for the purpose of monitoring the collection and updating the list. There are other leakages in the system which could be blocked by the Federal Government in collaboration with all trade unions in the tertiary institutions.

No doubt, parents and students of public universities were disappointed and pained last week when it was disclosed that the talks between the Government and ASUU over the strike had collapsed.

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.

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.

Strike: FG Should Sign Renegotiated Agreement With ASUU – Falana

A photo combination showing President Muhammadu Buhari and the ASUU logo.
A photo combination showing President Muhammadu Buhari and the ASUU logo.

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has called on the Federal Government to sign the renegotiated agreement with the striking members of the Academic Strike Union of University (ASUU).

In a statement on Sunday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria urged both ASUU leadership and the current administration to resume negotiations in order to end the prolonged strike for the overall good of Nigerian students.

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.

READ ALSO: ASUU-FG Meeting Ends In Deadlock, Strike To Continue

He accused the Federal Government of resorting to blackmail ASUU, recalling how talks with the union ended in deadlock, a situation that dashed the hopes of many students.

“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 said.

“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.”

The rights lawyer is of the view that the Federal Government should commit itself to the faithful implementation of collective agreements reached with ASUU which are enforceable by virtue of the relevant provisions of the Trade Disputes Act instead of embracing the fascist option of prescribing union.

Making reference to the 1992 and 2009 FG/ASUU Agreements, Falana said it was expressly stated that the revenue realised from the sale of the properties of the Federal Government abandoned in Lagos when the Federal Capital was moved to Abuja would be channelled towards the funding of tertiary education in the country.

According to him, the Federal Government has turned around to selling the properties to private individuals and corporate bodies at low giveaway prices.

Some of the properties, he explained, were sold to powerful individuals and corporate bodies including a multinational corporation.

Arguing that a number of the properties have not been sold, Falana wants the Federal Government to turn them over to the universities in line with the terms of the FG/ASUU Collective Agreements.

 

 

Agba Jalingo’s Arrest Is ‘Official Impunity In A Democracy’ – Falana

A file photo of human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.
A file photo of human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has described the arrest of human rights activist, Agba Jalingo, as “official impunity in a democratic society”.

In a statement he signed on Saturday and sent to Channels Television, Falana demanded the unconditional release of the activist, noting that the offence (defamation) he was accused of is not a criminal offence.

Falana’s statement titled, ‘Release Agba Jalingo Now!’ read, “Yesterday (Friday), a team of the police personnel despatched from Abuja stormed the home of Agba Jalingo at Alapere, Ketu in Lagos State to arrest him.

READ ALSO: Falana Steps In As Police Whisk Agba Jalingo To Abuja

“After subjecting his wife and children to unwarranted harassment for hours, the police arrested Agba, yanked him out and took him to the Area F Police Command, Ikeja, Lagos State where he was detained until this morning.

“I met him at the police station where he informed me that he committed no offence but that his newspaper, CrossRiverWatch had only asked why a lecturer who wrote examinations for a student in the Nigerian Law School, Abuja has been arraigned in court while the student is being treated like a sacred cow.

“The police officers corroborated his account and stated that the petitioner had alleged that Agba Jalingo had committed “defamation and infringement of his integrity”, which is not an offence under any provision of the Criminal Code.

“Based on the information at my disposal, I was compelled to demand for his unconditional release since he has contravened any provision of the Criminal Code. But the police officers informed me that his detention was ordered by the Authorities in Abuja. Thus, at about 11 am this morning he was flown out of Lagos and he is currently being detained at the Criminal Investigation Department, Garki, Abuja.

“The ongoing harassment of Agba based on the allegation that he has defamed the wife of the brother of a serving Governor is the height of official impunity in a democratic society. Since defamation is not a criminal offence the action of the Police is a flagrant breach of section 8(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 32(2) of the Police Establishment Act 2020 which have banned the police from arresting any person in Nigeria for civil wrong or breach of contract. Therefore, the police Authorities should release Agba Jalingo unconditionally and advise the petitioner to sue for libel in a civil court.”

Falana Steps In As Police Whisk Agba Jalingo To Abuja

A file photo of Agba Jalingo. Facebook/Agba Jalingo.

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has taken over a case involving the Nigeria Police Force and rights activist, Agba Jalingo, Channels Television has learnt.

The senior lawyer, it was learnt, visited Jalingo at the Area F Police Station in Ikeja where Jalingo was detained on Friday night.

The activist and publisher of Cross River Watch was, however, moved to Abuja on Saturday afternoon via the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja, the Lagos State capital.

Our correspondent gathered that a very police officer at the Force Criminal Investigative and Intelligence Department in Abuja ordered that Ayade be arrested and that he be moved down to Abuja.

Speaking with Channels Television in a telephone chat shortly after the flight, his wife, Mrs Jalingo, said “They have taken him (Jalingo) to Abuja.”

When asked what the policemen said Jalingo’s offence(s) was, his wife said, “Defamation of character and infringement of integrity on Frank Ayade’s wife, the younger brother to Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade.”

When asked about the lawyer handling the matter, she disclosed that “Femi Falana (SAN) was in the station with us this morning and has sent his lawyers in Abuja to handle the case.”

Also, Falana, in a telephone chat, confirmed to Channels Television that he has taken over the case.

The distraught wife of the activist, however, expressed worry, saying, “Everything is getting very difficult and scary and one will definitely be apprehensive.”

Also, the Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos State, Benjamin Hundeyin, told Channels Television that the case is not with the state command but the Force Headquarters. “They came from Abuja and they have taken him away. I don’t know the details,” he said.

But a senior police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Channels Television that a very senior police officer in Abuja signed a letter and dispatched a team to arrest Jalingo.

Efforts to get the comments of Force Public Relations Officer Muyiwa Adejobi proved abortive as he was yet to respond to calls as of the time of publishing this report.

Channels Television had on Friday reported that policemen from Force Headquarters stormed Jalingo’s residence in the Alapere area of Lagos and whisked him to the Area F Police Station where he was detained overnight.

Jalingo, shortly before his arrest, had told Channels Television that the police officers surrounded his house and held down his wife and daughter.

The publisher of Cross River Watch was imprisoned in 2019 at the Afokang Prison in Calabar and was released on bail on February 17, 2020 after 179 days.

Jalingo, an associate of African Action Congress presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, had been arrested following an allegation of treason by the Cross River State Governor Benedict Ayade.

However, in March 2022, a Federal High Court in Calabar, dismissed the terrorism, treasonable felony, and cybercrime charges against Jalingo.

Falana: ‘Unacceptable’ Brutal Torture Meted Out To Lawyer Jailed By Akwa Ibom Chief Judge

A file photo of human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.
A file photo of human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has condemned what he described as “brutal torture” being inflicted on Inibehe Effiong, a lawyer.

Mr Effiong last month was sentenced to one month imprisonment for contempt of court by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Ekaette Obot.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Falana said Mr Effiong’s fundamental human rights had been truncated.

He vowed to prosecute the officials who inflicted torture on Mr Effiong.

 

Read the full statement from Mr Falana below:

BRUTAL TORTURE METED OUT TO INIBEHE EFFIONG BY NIGERIAN CORRECTIONAL SERVICE IS UNACCEPTABLE

On July 27, 2022, the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Ekaette Obot convicted and sentenced Inibehe Effiong to one month imprisonment for contempt of court in facie curiae. In order to prevent Inibehe from appealing against the conviction and sentence imposed on him the Chief Judge has refused to furnish him with a certified true copy of her judgment in contravention of section 36(7) of the Constitution which prescribes that every convict is entitled to a copy of the judgment of the court that tried and convicted him.

However. the warrant signed by the Judge directed that the Effiong be held in Ikot Ekpene Correctional Centre, Akwa Ibom throughout the duration of his prison term. But the order of the Court was secretly varied today as Inibehe was forcefully transferred to Uyo Correctional Centre in handcuffs even though there was no violence on his part. At the Uyo Correctional Centre, Inibehe was forced to sit on bare floor while his head was shaved together with his beard. He was thereafter subjected to more horrendous humiliation and paraded before all prison inmates.

The brutal torture meted out to Inibehe by the prison officials in Akwa Ibom State constitutes a violent violation of his fundamental right to dignity guaranteed by section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

It is painful to note that the unprovoked violence unleashed on Inibehe is a sad reminder of the case of Minere Amakiri, then a reporter with Nigerian Observer, the old Bendel State owned newspapers whose head was shaved with a broken bottle in 1973 on the orders of Alfred Diette-Spiff, the then Military governor of the State.

Apart from challenging the egregious infringement of the fundamental right of Inibehe to the dignity of his person and fair hearing we shall press for the prosecution of the officials who inflicted torture on him contrary to the provision of section 2 of the Anti Torture Act of 2017. The penalty for the offence of inflicting torture on any person in Nigeria is 25 years imprisonment without any option of fine.

Femi Falana SAN

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.”

Buhari ‘Should Urgently’ Approve N200bn For ASUU To End Strike – Falana

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

 

Human rights activist and senior lawyer, Femi Falana, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to submit a supplementary budget for the appropriation of the sum of N200 billion required to revamp federal universities across the country.

According to Mr Falana, this will go a long way in ending the months-long strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities that has paralysed public universities since February.

Mr Falana said President Buhari’s recent lament over the prolonged strike was unnecessary.

READ ALSO: Enough Is Enough, Buhari Tells ASUU

He also faulted the Federal Government’s claim that it does not have the funds to meet ASUU’s demands, noting that the government has allocated trillions to address issues such as fuel subsidy and agriculture policy.

 

ASUU’s demands

ASUU embarked on a four-week warning strike on February 14.

On March 14, the union extended the industrial action by another two months to allow the government meet all of its demands. A 12-week extension was announced on May 9.

Since May 9, the union has remained on strike, vowing to persist until its demands are met.

The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.

One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.

But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The agreement was reportedly struck in 2009.

Another is the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The academics have proposed an alternative payroll system, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

 

Read Mr Falana’s statement below:

TIME TO END ASUU STRIKE BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI

Four months ago, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commenced the current strike to compel the Federal Government to comply with the FG/ASSU Agreement on funding of all federal universities in Nigeria. According to the binding Agreement the total fund which the Federal Government ought to have provided to revamp the universities is N200 billion in line with its obligation under the Agreement. Before then, the warning strikes embarked upon by ASUU was ignored by the Federal Government. Thus, the ongoing industrial action which has paralysed the federal universities has lingered on due to the refusal of the Federal Government to meet its commitment under the FG/ASUU Agreement. However, in justifying the unwarranted breach of the Agreement the Federal Government has complained of lack of fund.

Instead of addressing the outstanding grey areas in the prolonged negotiations, President Muhammadu Buhari who is the Visitor to all federal universities in the country has urged the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to consider the long-term effect of the strike on students and the generational consequences on families, the educational system and the future development of the country. While lamenting that the strike was already taking a toll on the psychology of parents, students and other stakeholders, throwing up many moral issues that already beg for attention the President said that “We hope that ASUU will sympathise with the people on the prolonged strike. Truly, enough is enough for keeping students at home. Don’t hurt the next generation for goodness sake.”

The claim of the Federal Government that it lacks the financial resources to fund university education has been taken with a pinch of salt by the Nigerian people. Having regard to the way and manner huge public fund has been expended on other projects it does appear that the Federal Government has not prioritised higher education. For instance, the electricity sector and the counter insurgency operations in two regions in the country have consumed not less than N6 trillion without any tangible result. The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) claims that N5.4 trillion is owed by a section of the comparador bourgeoisie whose toxic debts were bought with public fund. Even though N443 billion was spent on the importation of fuel from January to June 2022 the National Assembly has approved N4 trillion for the same product from July to December 2022 due to the comatose status of the nation’s refineries. The Federal Government has also made available N100 billion for revamping the textile industry; N850 billion for rice production; N250 billion for autogas vehicle conversion and N228 for school feeding programme. Apart from its annual budget of N40 billion the Independent National Electoral Commission has received N100 billion as the first tranche of the 2022 budget to conduct the 2023 general elections.

A government that can afford to spend trillions of Naira on the aforesaid projects cannot afford to ignore the funding of higher education. Therefore, the federal government should adopt concrete measures to end the ASUU strike without any further delay. Instead of lamenting over the strike, President Buhari should urgently submit a Supplementary budget to the National Assembly for the appropriation of the sum of N200 billion required to revamp the federal universities. This demand is in accordance with the FG/ASUU Agreement whose terms are binding on the Federal Government. The National Assembly, concerned parents, progressive civil society bodies and other relevant stakeholders should prevail on President Buhari to do the needful with a view to ending the strike without any further delay.

Femi Falana SAN,
Interim Chair,
Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)
July 12, 2022.

Kuje Jailbreak: Terrorism Sponsors Must Be Prosecuted, Falana Tells AGF

A photo combination of Mr Femi Falana and Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has called on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to ensure all indicted sponsors of terrorism are duly prosecuted.

He made the call on Sunday in a statement while reacting to the recent attack on the Medium Security Correctional Centre, Kuje.

According to the lawyer, members of the National Assembly who have been appropriating fund for the prosecution of terror suspects should also monitor the prosecution of the indicted suspects.

He condemned the attack on the custodial centre and recommended that more measures be put in place to secure all correctional facilities in the country.

Falana also asked the Federal Government to urgently approve fund for the purchase and installation of the necessary security equipment.

Read the full statement below:

WHY HAS THE FG REFUSED TO TRY HUNDREDS OF SPONSORS OF TERRORISM AND TERROR SUSPECTS?

During a visit to the Kuje Correctional Centre last week, the Minister of Defence, General Bashir Magashi (retd) told journalists that all the 64 Boko Haram members were among the over 600 inmates that were freed by the terrorists who attacked the facility in a commando fashion.

Before jetting out of the country after the attack, President Buhari visited the prison and asked certain rhetorical questions.  The questions would have been totally unnecessary if the Federal Government had complied with sections 28 (1), (2) & (3) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act provides as follows:

“(1) There shall be provided monitoring devices to protect, control and safeguard correctional activities, including observatory towers, double perimeter walls, close circuit television, body scanners, e-monitoring devices, electrically activated alarm systems and other instruments of restraint.

(2) The Correctional Service shall establish and maintain a fully equipped armed squads, intelligence and investigation unit to enhance security, surveillance, monitoring, intelligence gathering and protection.

(3) In deploying the facilities under subsection (1), priority shall be given to the security requirements of maximum security custodial centres.”

Before the attack on the Kuje Correctional Centre, terrorists and other armed criminal gangs had successfully attacked 14 other Correctional Centres and freed thousands of convicts and awaiting trial inmates in many states of the Federation.

In order to secure all correctional centres in the country in line with the aforementioned provisions of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, the Federal Executive Council should urgently approve funds for the purchase and installation of the necessary security equipment

However, having regard to the security implications of the escape of the freed terror suspects, the Nigerian people have expressed concern. Since only 64 terror suspects are detained in Kuje Correctional Centre, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN should disclose to Nigerians where the 400 sponsors of terrorism and the 800 terror suspects who were due to be arraigned in the Federal High Court last year are being detained.

Before then, the 10 soldiers led by an Army Captain who ambushed and killed the three police officers who had arrested an alleged kidnap suspect, Bala Hamisu (a.k.a. Wadume) in Jalingo, Taraba State in August 2019 were not arraigned in the Federal High Court even though a charge was filed against them by the police.

In fact, the case was discontinued against them by the Attorney-General of the Federation in a purported exercise of his powers under section 174 of the Constitution. It has been confirmed that Wadume was one of the terror suspects who escaped from Kuje Correctional Centre last week.

During his own visit to the facility last Thursday, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola noted that Nigeria was experiencing asymmetric warfare and that the insurgents have been degraded in the North-East.

The Minister further said that “We have 61,000 of them in our custody in the North-East; the result of the effectiveness itself in degrading them in the North-East is what we are experiencing.”

It is common knowledge that majority of the detainees have been detained for over 10 years. Since terrorism is said to be a federal offence the Governors of the North-East region have requested for the fiat of the Attorney-General of the Federation to have the suspects tried by the respective State Ministries of Justice. But for some inexplicable reasons, Mr Malami SAN turned down the request. Hence, the suspects have been abandoned in prolonged detention.

In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to call on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN to ensure that the indicted sponsors of terrorism and terror suspects are charged before the Federal High Court. We also call on the members of the National Assembly who have been appropriating funds for the prosecution of terror suspects to monitor the prosecution of the indicted terror suspects.

Femi Falana SAN,

Interim Chair,

Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)

10th July, 2022.

Courts Should Stop Imposing Politicians On Nigerians – Femi Falana

A file photo of human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.
A file photo of human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, on Thursday urged the courts to “stop imposing politicians on Nigerians,” arguing that, “the involvement of the courts in the electoral process has not been favourable to the country’s democracy.”

Falana made the call in a paper titled “The Role of the Courts in the Electoral Process and the Time Bomb of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022”, delivered at the Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ondo Branch.

“This involvement has been forced by the neglect of its duties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the arbitrariness and impunity of some of the members of the Executive, and the corrupt activities of political parties,” Falana was quoted as saying via a statement issued by his aide, Tayo Soyemi.

READ ALSO: Iyorchia Ayu Remains Our National Chairman – PDP

“In order to respect the democratic wishes of the electorate, there has to be a new electoral jurisprudence. Since the people are the greatest defenders of democracy INEC must be made to ensure the votes of the electorate count.”

According to him, the courts have abandoned their primary role of ensuring compliance with the Electoral Act and the relevant legislation of the Constitution pertaining to general elections.

He stated that apart from usurping the powers of INEC in organising and supervising elections, the courts have taken over the mandate of the electorate.

Falana added, “The courts have been involved in the appointment of party officers and endorsement of candidates sponsored by political parties to contest elections.

“Even the meetings of the organs and national conventions of political parties are fixed by the courts. Cases arising from the management of political parties are filed in the high court of the federal capital territory or at the federal high court, outside the venue of the dispute.”

“The winners of primaries and general elections are no longer determined by the electorate but by the election petition tribunals and courts.”

FG Should Start Acting On Intelligence From Security Agencies – Falana

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, on Monday asked the Federal Government to start acting on intelligence from security agencies, especially the Department of State Services following a recent attack on a church in Ondo State.

Gunmen had attacked St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, the headquarters of Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State, killing scores of worshippers while injuring several others. The situation has drawn condemnation from Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari, state governors among others.

In a statement issued a day after the attack, Falana commiserated with the victims and families of the attack.

He said the government must go beyond issuing threats and alerting citizens of imminent attacks.

READ ALSOOsinbajo Pays Condolence Visit To Owo After Attack

This is even as he recalled that the Department of State Services (DSS) had on March 20 issued a statement claiming that it had discovered plans to cause violence in parts of the country, particularly in the north-central.

“Exactly nine days later, a group of terrorists attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train, killed over a dozen passengers and injured several others,” he said.

“Once again, on April 26, 2022, the SSS alerted Nigerians on alleged plans by some dangerous elements to launch bomb attacks on critical infrastructure and public places like worship and relaxation centres, especially during and after the festive celebrations.

“As predicted, a group of unmasked armed terrorists stormed the St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo state where they detonated explosives in the church and then gunned down worshippers during service on Sunday, June 5, 2022.

“After the terrorist attack, the Ondo police command was reported to have deployed officers of the explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) unit,  better known as the anti-bomb squad, to Owo local government area.

“As expected, the federal government has condemned the reckless attack on the worshippers and threatened to bring the criminal elements to justice.

“However, governments at all levels must go beyond issuing threats. It is common knowledge that every country involved in the prosecution of war on terror is required to train security personnel and acquire adequate security gadgets to protect the people.

“Therefore, the federal government should ensure that the nation’s airports, trains, buses, courts, schools, malls, churches, mosques, banks and other public places are provided with screening machines and CCTV cameras.

“As a matter of urgency, the federal government and the various state governments should promptly act on intelligence reports compiled by the State Security Service and other security agencies.”