Jonathan charges CSO’s on transformation of Nigeria

President Goodluck Jonathan is of the view that the time has come for a ‘Peoples Constitution’ and is asking for the help of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in aggregating broad based contributions to enhance the ongoing constitution review process.

President Jonathan spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, during a presidential retreat for the CSOs and professional associations where he noted that the constitution is one ligament that holds the nation together, and as such its amendment would be incomplete without the voices of all Nigerians.

He explains that his invitation to the participants of the retreat was informed by their closeness to the people and their understanding of the people’s fears and desires, and not for any political settlement.

President Jonathan added that a constitution that can guarantee true democracy must flow from the ideas and experiences of the people, not just the people in the corridors of power.

The retreat is part of this year’s independence anniversary.

Dana Air Crash: Ex-pilot blames flight’s crew for negligence

A witness at the on-going Coroner’s inquest into the Dana Air Crash, Alexander Omaghomi, has said the negligence and failure of the flight crew to adhere to required emergency guidelines led to the tragedy.

Mr Omaghomi also known as Captain Tito said he had more than 32 years’ experience as a Pilot on Thursday told the Coroner, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, that his opinion of the preliminary report of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) was that the pilot and his crew failed to keep to necessary checklists to prevent the fatalities of the air crash.

Omaghomi, a pilot with the defunct Nigerian Airways while being led in evidence by Femi Falana, explained that checklists are items and actions you take in the operations of a flying plane.

The former pilot who retired from flying commercial planes in 1993 said his analysis of the AIB report on the Dana Air crash was that the cockpit was a “a disorganised cockpit” and that the plane “became a flight that nobody had controlled.”

According to him, the pilot did not call for help when he should have done, that is at the time when the plane had already lost two engines.

He further stated that the rules are that no pilot flies for more than 100 hours in a month.

He observed that the pilot of the ill-fated plane had put in 120 hours of flight within 14 days. This was illegal, he said.

Omaghomi lamented that there were only 17 accidents between 1965-2003 while there has been almost 21 air mishaps from 2003 till date.

Earlier, an Aviation Operations Manager with Total Nigeria PLC, Daniel Akpokoje had testified that the last time Dana Air bought fuel from his company was November last year.

He stated that before fuel is supplied to an aircraft, several checks are normally made to ensure that there are no sediments or water mixed with it.

The Coroner adjourned hearings till August 13th in consideration for relatives, who are now collecting the remains of their loved ones who died in the crash.

Legal committee confers SAN on Falana, 24 others

Human Rights activist and former president of the Nigeria Bar association (NBA), Femi Falana and 24 others were on Thursday conferred with the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

The Legal Practitioners Privilege Committee (LPPC) on Thursday announced the names of successful candidates for the rank of SAN.

Over 125 people were said to have  applied, 25 persons were deemed successful out of 71 people short-listed.

Below are the names of the successful candidates.

(1). Femi Falana

(2). Prof Yemi Akinseye George

(3). Rotimi Jacobs

(4). Ahmed Raji

(5). Theophilus Oyesanya

(6). Oluseye Opasanya

(7). Ndukwe Nnawuchi

(8). Aliyu Umar

(9). Akinlaja Dayo Moses

(10). Prof Dakaahs Clemens

(11). Aduroja Thaddeus Olumuyiwa

(12). Illo Katune Sanusi

(13). Paul Ananaba

(14). Francis Chuka Agbu

(15). Luke Chukwudi Illogu

(16). Selekeowei Larry

(17). Abenny Mohammed

(18). Charles Nwanne Obishai

(19). Mahmud Abubakar Magaji

(20). Mrs Connie-Jean Aremu

(21). Ogwu James Onoja

(22). Garuba Usman Cetenji

(23). Henry Oghogho Ogbodu

(24). Joy Okungbowa Adesina

(25). Rotimi Oluseye Oguneso

Two professors on the list are from the academia.

The newly appointed Senior Advocates will be sworn–in when the court returns from its annual vacation in September 2012. The court will be commencing its annual leave on July 18.

Dana Air Crash: Coroner’s inquest begins in Lagos

A Magistrate and the Coroner of Alimosho District in Lagos, Oyetade Alexander Komolafe, on Monday began an inquest into the death of the victims of the Dana Air Flight 992 that crashed on Sunday, 3rd June at Iju-Ishaga, area of Lagos.

Dana Air crash site in iju ishaga

About 200 people lost their lives in that incident.

The inquest was ordered last Thursday by the Coroner-judge of Lagos State, Justice Lateefah Okunnu following a request made by the law firm of Falana and Falana.

At the first sitting of the Coroner on Monday, Funmi Falana told Magistrate Komolafe that the Law firm of Olisa Agbakoba was also interested in the matter as they had also filed a similar request for an inquest.

The coroner then granted an application that the request from the 2 law firms should be consolidated.

Magistrate Komolafe also granted an application to summon certain persons and agencies before the Coroner in line with the relevant laws for the conduct of such a proceeding.

Persons expected to appear before the court while the inquest lasts includes, the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, Assistant Inspector-General of Police for Lagos and Ogun States, representatives of Dana Airline, officials of the National Airspace Management Agency(NAMA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria(FAAN), the Lagos State Police Command, the Lagos Airport Command of the Police and the Lagos State Fire Service.

Others are the officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), the Nigerian Red Cross, Cleanserve Oil, Sahara Oil, MRS, AP, Total, Conoil, Nigerian Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, Relatives of victims of the plane crash and those on the ground, surviving victims, among others.

Magistrate Komolafe adjourned the inquest proceedings till 12 July to allow the agencies and parties to be served and to enable the chambers of Olisa Agbakoba to prepare for the inquest.

In the request to the coroner judge, Mr. Femi Falana wrote that his firm had confirmed that the aircraft was allowed to fly even though it was defective.

Mr Falana said that the distress call made by the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft several minutes before the crash was ignored by the Airport Authorities while the management of the disaster was crude as members of the public had to use bare hands in their rescue operations.

He had drawn on Section 15 of the Lagos State Coroner’s Law 2007 which provides that an inquest shall hold whenever a Coroner is informed that the death of a person within his District was “in a violent, unnatural or suspicious situation.”

Court says Falana has no right to challenge lawmakers’ jumbo pay

Lawyer and Human Rights activist, Femi Falana filed a case challenging the members of the National Assembly of fixing scandalous emoluments for themselves in August 2010.

A Federal High Court on Tuesday ruled that lawyer and Human Rights activist, Femi Falana lacks the locus standi to challenge the powers of Federal lawmakers to award jumbo salaries and allowances to themselves.

Mr Falana had filed a case challenging the members of the National Assembly of fixing scandalous emoluments for themselves in August 2010.
In the substantive suit Mr Falana sought a declaratory relief to the effect that the members of the National Assembly are not entitled to receive any payment outside the salaries and allowances determined and fixed for them by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMAFC) pursuant to Section 70 of the Constitution.

In support of the originating summons, Mr Falana accused the Legislators of usurping the Constitutional powers of the RMFAC by taking advantage of passing Appropriation Bills into law to rank themselves the highest paid lawmakers in the world.

While relying on the case of Fawehinmi V The President (2008)23 WRN 65 Mr Falana urged the court to appreciate that the anachronistic doctrine of locus standi was discarded by the Court of Appeal when it declared illegal and unconstitutional the payment of salaries of two Ministers in dollars.

The plaintiff also submitted that his legal standing to promote good governance has been constitutionally guaranteed.

In opposing the suit, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the National Assembly through their counsels, Alex Izion and Kenneth Ikonne respectively, challenged the locus standi of Mr Falana to question the salaries and allowances of the Federal Lawmakers.

The defendants’ lawyers described Mr Falana as a busy body who has not shown that his personal interest has been affected by the jumbo pay of the legislators.

They therefore urged the trial court to dismiss the case on the authority of Abraham Adesanya V The President (1981) All NLR pg 1. Both the RMFAC and the Accountants who were joined in the action did not defend the suit.

In his judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, held that Mr Falana lacked the locus standi to institute the case as he did not prove that he had suffered any greater injury than other Nigerian citizens as a result of the action of the lawmakers.

However, in striking out the suit the Judge said Mr Falana ought to have complained to the RMFAC and that if the body failed to act he could then sue to compel it to carry out its duty under the Constitution.

Reacting to the judgment, Mr Falana said he would study the judgment and then decide whether to lodge a complaint with the RMAFC on the illegal jumbo pay or challenge the judgment on appeal since the learned Chief Judge of the Federal High Court conceded that it is the constitutional duty of the RMFAC to determine and fix the salaries and allowances of the legislators.

The reliefs sought by the plaintiff in the suit were:

1. A DECLARATION that the 1st and 2nd Defendants are entitled to receive such salaries and allowances determined by the 3rd Defendant pursuant to Section 70 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

2. A DECLARATION that the allowances provided for the members of the National Assembly in the Appropriation Act, 2010 are illegal, unconstitutional, null and void by virtue of Section 70 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

3. A DECLARATION that the 1st and 2nd Defendants are not competent to increase the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly through the Appropriation Act in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.

4. A DECLARATION that the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives is entitled to not more than the following six vehicles:
(i) 2 official cars
(ii) 1 Pilot
(iii) 1 Protocol Press
(iv) 1 Ambulance
(v) 1 Security

5. A DECLARATION that apart from the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, no other member of the National Assembly is entitled to an official car.

6. AN ORDER of PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the 4th and 5th Defendants, their agents, privies and servants from further paying unauthorized salaries and allowances to members of the National Assembly.

7. AN ORDER directing the 4th & 5th Defendants to deduct and pay into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the unauthorized salaries and allowances received by members of the National Assembly since May 29, 2007.

8. AN ORDER directing the 4th and 5th Defendants to retrieve all official cars from members of the 1st and 2nd Defendants apart from the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives sell them and pay the proceeds to the Consolidation Revenue Fund of the Federation forthwith.

Sacked doctors contravened rules of engagement – Attorney General

The Attorney General of  Lagos state and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeola Ipaye says it would be wrong for anyone or group of persons to accuse the state government of flouting court procedures in respect of the sacked doctors.

Addressing journalists today in Alausa, Mr Ipaye explained that as much as the Lagos state government was willing to resolve the matter in the interest of all, the doctors made that move impossible thereby contravening the rules of engagement in the process.

There’s been mixed reactions over the decision of the  Lagos state government that is, sacking the 788 striking doctors and the employing 373 new doctors to take the place of the striking doctors who were also issued a quit notice by the Lagos state government to vacate the quarters allotted them.

Renowned human rights lawyer; Femi Falana said on his part that the Lagos State Government decide to help themselves by their actions which has violated the provisions of the Trade Dispute Act.

Falana urged the Lagos state governor, Babtunde Raji Fashola to rescind the decision of the state government and recall the sacked doctors back to work then a suit can be instituted against the doctors on resumption.

On the other hand, Professor Sagay feels the move was a good one and commended the Lagos state government for it saying the action taken by the doctors was irrational looking at the matter from the angle of Lagosians needing medical help.

He asked Governor Babatunde Fashola to recall the sacked doctors and instruct the state Attorney General to institute a suit against the doctors if he so wished.

Falana also argued that the sack of the doctors was contrary to decisions of the Supreme Court in two cases – Lagos State Military Government v Ojukwu, and Attorney General of Lagos State v Attorney General of the Federation.

Meanwhile as the days go by, patients seeking medical help at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital suffer from neglect as the two weeks old scuffle between the Lagos State Government and the doctors continue.

Subsidy scam is manifestation of neo-colonial capitalist arrangement – Femi Falana

Renowned Human Right lawyer, Femi Falani on Friday linked the controversies surrounding the management of the fuel subsidy fund to neo-colonial capitalism.

Mr Falana who disclosed this while speaking as a guest on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily said that capitalism breeds corruption.

“Why are we discussing subsidy,” he asked.

“Is it not part of underdevelopment? A country that is the sixth largest exporter of crude is the largest importer of petroleum product,” Mr Falana said.

Falana says Lagos govt sack of doctors cannot stand

Human Right lawyer, Femi Falana on Friday said that the sacking of 788 medical doctors by the Lagos State government is illegal and cannot stand.

The renowned lawyer disclosed this while speaking as a guest in Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

“That can’t stand, it wouldn’t stand,” Mr Falana said.

He said the Lagos State governor, as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) knows that the sacking of the doctors cannot stand.

Mr Falana said since the Lagos state government has always taken the Federal government to court for violating the rule of law with matter pertaining to Local government fund, creation of local government, town planning law in the state and the extension of tenure of Local government, it will be mindful of violating the rule of law with regards to sacking the doctors.

The Lagos state government had on Monday dismissed 788 medicals doctors in the Lagos State public service over their persistence with an ‘illegal strike’, and refusal to answer a query over a warning strike.

The state government also announced the employment of 373 doctors for immediate deployment in the public hospitals while recruitment continues.
The doctors’ dismissal was authorised by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Board and the State’s Health Service Commission (HSC), following an illegal strike embarked upon by the doctors since April 16, 2012.