SERAP Seeks Probe Into ‘Unfair Treatment’ Of Former Kebbi Acting Chief Justice, Karatu

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned “the harassment, intimidation and unfair treatment of the former acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State, Elizabeth Karatu, who was barred from gaining access to her courtroom to deliver certain judgment by an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), who claimed he was acting based on the directive given to him by the management.”

The organization urged the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to: “publicly condemn the unfair treatment of Justice Karatu and urgently refer the matter to appropriate authorities for a prompt, thorough and effective investigation in order to ensure that those responsible for this unlawful act are named and shamed and brought to justice.”

In a video clip, Justice Karatu is heard saying: “I am the most senior judge in this court and I am here to deliver my judgment. Can you imagine? Which management gave you the order? Today is my last day to be here and it is my right to be here. I have come to deliver my judgment. As far as I am concerned, everybody in this court is my junior and I need a courtroom to deliver my judgment.”

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Reacting, SERAP in a statement today by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “Barring Justice Karatu from delivering judgment is an intolerable act of intimidation against the highest judicial authority in Kebbi State at the material time. Regardless of any allegations that may have been levelled against her, it is clear that Justice Karatu has been unfairly treated by the apparently unlawful actions of the Kebbi State governor, Mr. Atiku Bagudu and the NSCDC barring her from gaining access to her courtroom to rule on cases.”

According to SERAP, “Barring Justice Karatu from gaining access to her courtroom is entirely incompatible with the sacred principle of judicial independence, and the failure by the authorities to observe important procedural guarantees here is a textbook case of executive rascality. SERAP will vigorously pursue justice in this case, to ensure that this shameful act does not affect the work of other judges or undermine their ability to freely and effectively perform their judicial duties.”

The statement read in part: “The NJC should immediately set up a panel to thoroughly and effectively investigate the alleged role played by the new acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State, Justice Suleiman Mohammed Ambursa in the unfair treatment, harassment and intimidation of Justice Karatu, and if there is sufficient and relevant admissible evidence, to ensure appropriate disciplinary measures and sanctions against him.”

“The ultimate responsibility for the crisis in Kebbi State’s judiciary lies with governor Bagudu. To prevent further erosion of the constitutional principles of judicial independence and separation of powers, the governor must publicly apologise for the blatant infraction of Justice Kataru’s human rights, and ensure her access to justice and effective remedies, including reparation.”

“It is clear that the rule of law in Kebbi State is under siege. SERAP urges the government of governor Bagudu to refrain from any threats or interference that may further hamper the court’s independence and authority as the supreme guardian of the Nigerian constitution and legislation.”

“By putting the court entrance under lock, the government of governor Bagudu and the NSCDC have obstructed justice, a form of corruption under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party, as they have apparently unlawfully stopped Justice Karatu from performing her judicial duties and delivering certain judgment on the eve of her retirement.”

“The apparently arbitrary actions by governor Bagudu and the NSCDC also amount to an unlawful interference with Justice Karatu’s private and professional life, contrary to the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The Nigerian constitution and these human rights treaties afford legal protection against arbitrary interference by the authorities, including in Kebbi State. The unfair treatment and intimidation of Justice Karatu, apart from being incompatible with the rule of law, has had tangible consequences for her material well-being and her family.”

“Such arbitrary and illegal actions expose judges at both the federal and state levels to political and executive pressure, endangering their independence and impartiality.”

“Under our laws, judges can be removed only in accordance with an objective, independent procedure prescribed by law. Any sanctions or disciplinary procedures for judges must ensure sufficient separation of the judiciary from other branches of State power and provide appropriate guarantees against abuse and misuse of disciplinary measures and sanctions to the detriment of judicial independence.”

“Judges must be free to carry out their professional duties without political interference and must be protected, in law and in practice, from attack, harassment or persecution as they carry out their professional activities.”
“Courts play a major role in the fight against corruption, and ensuring that victims or potential victims of human rights violations obtain effective remedies and protection, that perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice.”

“But when judges are unfairly treated, the role of the judicial system to act as check and balance on the other branches of government, ensure that laws of the legislative and the acts of the executive comply with the rule of law, is seriously eroded.”

Last week, a trending video clip showed an official of the NSCDC barring Justice Karatu, from gaining access to a courtroom. The judge, who was billed to retire on July 5, was supposed to rule on cases on July 4, her last day in office. Mrs Karatu, until her retirement, was the most senior judge in Kebbi State judiciary. The civil defence official barricaded the road as he prevented the senior judge and her police orderly from gaining access to the court premises.

Justice Karatu, a Christian, was appointed an acting chief judge of Kebbi State in October 2018, following the retirement of the former chief judge, Bala Mairiga, who left the bench the same month. The Kebbi State House of Assembly refused to confirm Mrs. Karatu as the substantive CJ after the state governor, Atiku Bagudu, sent her name to the House, for confirmation.

Building Collapse: Governors’ Forum Visits Governor Emmanuel

Building Collapse: Governors' Forum Visits Governor EmmanuelThe Nigerian Governors’ Forum has commiserated with the people of Akwa Ibom State on the recent collapse of Reigners Bible Church in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state capital which led to the death of some worshippers.

The incident occurred during the bishopric ordination of its General Overseer, Apostle Akan Weeks.

The Chairman of the forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazeez Yari delivered the message when he led the forum’s delegation on visit to Governor Udom Emmanuel at his country home, Onna.

Governor Yari was accompanied on the visit by Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state and his Kebbi state counterpart, Abubakar Bagudu.

He said that they were in Onna to commiserate with the Governor, the government and people of Akwa Ibom state on the unfortunate collapse of the church building with the governor in attendance.

Yari thanked God for sparing the Governor’s life and commended him for personally supervising rescue operation at the scene of the incident.

The forum also acknowledged the contributions of Governor Emmanuel to efforts aimed at managing the current economic recession in the country.

Governor Udom Emmanuel thanked the delegation for the visit and commended its leadership for the existing bond of unity among the governors in spite of political differences.

He disclosed that his administration has done everything necessary to ensure that victims of the church building collapse receive the best treatment possible for quick recovery.

The Governor assured his colleagues that he remained focused and determined to make life better for the generality of the people in spite of the incident.

The visit was remarkable as the three visiting governors belong to APC while their host belongs to PDP.

FG To Ban Felling Of Trees To Avert Desertification

Felling of Trees, Desertification, The Federal Government is working towards putting a ban on felling of trees as a means of addressing the challenge of desertification in Nigeria.

The Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, announced the plan on Wednesday at a public forum on desertification and deforestation organised by the European Union.

Mrs Mohammed laments that about 1.5 million trees are cut daily in Nigeria, thereby creating room for desert encroachment.

On his part, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, hinted that the Senate was considering a bill to improve forestry in Nigeria.

At an earlier event to flag-off the ‘Keep Kaduna Green Project’, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed worry that Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation in the world in spite of campaigns against such acts.

Restore The Environment

The President was represented by the Environment Minister at the event designed to plant one million trees annually in Kaduna State.

He pointed out that over 576 million trees were lost annually due to deforestation, adding that the situation had led to the increased rate of desertification, flooding and drought in some parts of Nigeria.

Environmental Auditors, AFROSAI, Implementation

President Buhari feared that with the upsurge in the rate of deforestation, the Federal Government’s effort to achieve the forest cover and restore the environment by 25% might be a tall dream.

Paid For Growing Trees 

In another development, the Federal Ministry of Environment reiterated its commitment to forestry development with a view to checkmate the effects of climate change in Nigeria.

The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin, stressed the importance of agriculture and forestry to national economy and security.

He also expressed concern over the negative destruction of the nation’s forests which he said had led to numerous environmental challenges.

Mr Jibrin called on farmers and other stakeholders to come up with solutions on how to combat climate change and deforestation in Nigeria.

If Nigeria could enact a law that would proscribe felling of trees, the nation could be added to the list of countries getting paid for keeping their forests.

Over eight countries get the REDD+ (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) funds.

REDD+ is the UN led mechanism which helps countries earn dollars by not cutting trees and saving carbon dioxide in forests.

Environmental experts estimate that if a nation upholds deforestation and also plant new trees, it can earn $4 – 12 billion

Council Of State Confirms IGP, Appoints Commissioners For INEC, NPC

Council-of-State,-Police-INEC-NPC-IGPNigeria’s Council of State and the Police Council have confirmed the appointment of Mr Ibrahim Idris as the Inspector General of Police.

The Governor of Jigawa State, Mr Abubakar Badaru, who briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said that the confirmation of Mr Idris as the Police Chief was unanimous.

President Buhari and IGP Idirs
President Muhammadu Buhari and IGP Ibrahim Idirs

President Buhari had approved the appointment of the Police Chief, as acting Inspector General of Police on June 21, to succeed Mr Solomon Arase who retired from service.

The Council also appointed six national commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to bring the number of commissioners for the electoral body to 12.

Briefing reporters on the appointments on Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said that the six appointees were drawn from the six-geopolitical zones of the country.

They include Mohammed Haruna (north-central), Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Tijani Muazu (rtd) from northeast, Abubakar Nauche (northwest), Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu (southeast), May Agbamuche Mbu (south-south) and Dr. Adekunle Ladipo Ademola (southwest).

The Council further approved five new commissioners for the National Population Commission (NPC).

They are Dr. Eyitayo Oyetunji from Oyo State, Mr Patricia Inyanya from Benue State, Mr Benedict Ikpong from Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Haliru Bala from Kebbi State and Gloria Izonfo from Bayelsa State.

The National Council of State is the highest constitutional advisory body and it constitutes Nigeria’s sitting President, Vice President, all former Presidents and Heads of State, former Chief Justices of the Federation, the 36 state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly.

The meeting, which held at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Only three past Heads of State were present – Chief Ernest Shonekan, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar.

Also present were five former Chief Justices of the Federation, state governors and some deputy governors.

Former Heads of State; General Yakubu Gowon, General Ibrahim Babangida, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo were  absent.

Also absent are the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara.

Meeting in pictures:

Council-of-State-2
President Muhammadu Buhari presiding over the National Council of State meeting
L-R: Chief Ernest Shonekan, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan
Some state governors at the meeting
Council-of-State-governors-3
Some other state governors at the meeting

Buhari Decries Rate Of Deforestation In Nigeria

deforestation, Tree Planting, KadunaPresident Muhammadu Buhari has expressed worry that Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation in the world in spite of campaigns against such acts.

The President made the remark at the flag-off ceremony of the Keep Kaduna Green Project, designed to plant one million trees annually in the state.

Represented by the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, President Buhari pointed out that over 576 million trees are lost in the country annually due to deforestation.

He said that this situation has led the increased rate of desertification, flooding and drought in some parts of the country.

President Buhari feared that with the growing deforestation in the country, the effort of the federal government to achieve the forest cover and restore the environment by 25% might be a tall dream.

He commended the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai for the initiative which he said would go a long way in combating illegal felling of trees and restoring the green environment in the state.

On his part, Governor Nasir El-Rufai said that the project, apart from restoring the environment, will also create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the state.

Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba and his Kebbi State counterpart, Atiku Bagudu were among the dignitaries who planted trees to flag off the Keep Kaduna Clean Project, with a determination to replicate same in their states.

According to environmental experts, Nigeria has one of the world’s highest rate of deforestation of primary forests, where more than 50% of such forests have been lost in the past decades through unsustainable logging.

These practices contribute to the environmental challenges such as erosion, flooding, desertification among others.

An estimated 1.3 billion people, or nearly 20% of the world’s population, rely on forests and forest products for their daily activities.

Stakeholders say the plan by the Kaduna State government to plant one million trees should be a project that should be keyed into by states and local government if the country must tackle erosion, flooding and other environmental challenges.

Meanwhile, the Director General of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr Lawrence Anukam says the agency will deal with companies, organizations or individuals that degrade the environment through their operations.

This measures according to him is to mitigate all forms of environmental challenges in the country.

Police Arrest 114 Boko Haram Suspects In Ondo

police on boko haram suspectsThe Ondo State Police Command says it is interrogating 114 people who were arrested after detectives intercepted a truck conveying them in the state.

The people were said to be coming from Kebbi State and heading towards Ore town in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state before they were intercepted by the Police at Lipakala junction in Ondo town.

Speaking to Channels Television in Akure, Ondo State capital on Friday, the Public Relations Officer of the Ondo State Police Command, Mr Femi Joseph, said that 114 men were accosted in Ondo town travelling in a large truck on their way from Kebbi State.

“Our findings so far had not indicated that the men had any link with the dreaded Boko Haram sect, but be that as it may, we decided to keep them yesterday (Thursday) in our custody to further work on their claims in order to verify their claims.

“Some of them claimed to be farmers, some hunters, while few of them claimed to be traders.

“Actually, for real, we saw about eight dane guns in the vehicle, we saw a good number of hoes, we also saw substantial number of cutlasses, there was no record of ammunition,” he said.

The Ondo Police PRO further said, “These people said it is a seasonal thing – every season, they do come from the north most especially during the dry season to do some menial jobs down south here, after which they would go back to the north during the raining season.

“In the course of our investigation, we had to invite some Hausa community leaders, who testified to their claims.”

Supreme Court Upholds Kebbi Elections In Favour Of Bagudu

kebbiA Supreme Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a petition filed by the PDP governorship candidate during the April governorship elections Bello Sarkin Yaki against Atiku Bagudu of the APC.

During a judgment on Tuesday in Abuja, the Supreme Court declared Atiku Bagudu as the validly elected Governor of Kebbi State after the counsel to the petitioner failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the election in Kebbi State was rigged.

According to the presiding judge, Justice Walter Samuel, detailed reasons for the dismissal would be given by the Supreme Court on November 13, 2015.

Meanwhile, Governor Atiku Bagudu, in a reaction to the judgement, has commended the nation’s judiciary for standing firm on the delivery of justice without fear or favour as he promised to execute developmental projects for the people of Kebbi State in the next four years.

NEMA Donates Relief Materials To Kebbi Flood Victims

NEMA Donates Relief Materials To Kebbi Flood VictimsThe National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has donated relief materials to flood victims in Kebbi State, North-west Nigeria.

The development is coming after an estimated 21, 450 people were displaced by the recent torrent disaster, as the state is said to be the worst hit so far this year.

According to NEMA’s latest report on Kebbi’s flood, two communities in Makera Local Government Area (LGA) were completely dislodged from the flood in addition to 150 hectares of farmland, 480 houses destroyed and 4500 persons displaced.

The Director General of NEMA, Sani Sidi, disclosed that a total of 37, 460 hectares of farmland covering about 10 LGAs of the state, along with over 5,000 houses were washed away by the flood.

However, NEMA believed that more analysis may reveal further discovery of affected victims which prompted the agency to deploy a large amount of relief materials involving food items, medical facilities, as well as emergency sheltering equipment.

Receiving the materials, Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, revealed that the State government had so far spent over 200 million Naira in managing the crisis across the affected areas.

Governor Bagudu noted that the government is looking for a way to manage the lost incurred mostly by the farmers.

He added that the State government had entered into partnership with the Sokoto State government, to see the possibility of improving water management within the two states.

As Kebbi State is set to experience food shortage, the government has prepared to embark on massive food supply for people in the state.

Flood Hits Four LGAs In Kebbi State

Flood in NigeriaAt least four Local Government Areas in Kebbi State have been hit by flood after a heavy rainfall.

Sources close to the state government say the Local Government Areas are Argungun, Augie, Suru and Kamba Local Governments.

There are no reports of casualties and residential areas were largely spared, but large areas of farmlands were washed away by the flood.

Kebbi is one of the states which the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has forecast will experience heavy rains and flooding.

The National Emergency Management Agency NEMA) is yet to comment on the issue, but the state government is said to be planning assistance to the affected farmers.

 

Kebbi House Of Assembly Impeaches Speaker, Appoints Jega

maceThe Kebbi State House of Assembly Speaker, Honourable Hassan Muhammad Shalla, has been impeached for alleged breach of trust and embezzlement of allowances of some members.

At the the Tuesday sitting, which held in the absence of the Speaker and his Deputy, a member of the House, representing Birnin Kebbi north constituency, Abubakar Sabo, stood as the Chair of the plenary.

Another member, representing Yauri State constituency, Hon Aminu Gumbi, moved the motion for the impeachment of the speaker and it was seconded by Hon Aliyu Mutubare from Kalgo constituency.

Shortly after the members impeached the former speaker, they elected Habib Musa Jega as the new Speaker via a motion moved by Bala Aanbaba Waje.

Honourable  Shalla was, however, impeached by 12 out of 24 members of the House of Assembly.

Mr Jega, a former speaker was also impeached by his colleagues in a controversial manner in December, 2014.

The impeached speaker has not been reached for his opinion on the action of the House of Assembly.

PDP Explains Position On Card Readers For Polls

PDP- Card-ReadersThe Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, has clarified the party’s position on the use of card readers during the forthcoming general elections.

According to him, the PDP is not against the use of the electronic device, provided they are tested and trusted before the election date.

He also maintained that the party’s confidence for victory in the forthcoming elections does not depend on the use of the card readers, expressing that it depends on the party structures across the country which, according to him, the opposition lacks.

Meanwhile, the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation and some political Parties had rejected the use of card readers during the general elections, that had been shifted to March 28 and April 11.

In an interview with the media in Abuja on Wednesday, the Spokesman for the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, said that the ruling party would resist moves to go ahead with the use of card readers during the elections.

At a separate news conference, representatives of some political parties also expressed their opposition to the use of card readers for the elections as they said it had not been tested and as such could not be trusted.

According to the group, the use of card readers is a ploy to disenfranchise citizens in the coming elections.

The representatives of 15 political parties threatened to boycott the elections and take legal action if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) insisted on the use of card readers during the elections.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) had also earlier opposed a suit challenging the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the use of the electronic Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in the general elections.

The suit was filed by the Society for Advancement and Protection of Public Rights (SAPPR) and it came up for mention at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday.

The INEC, through the National Director in charge of Information and Voter Education, Dr Chris Iyimoga, noted that the commission would conduct a field testing of the card readers, which would be deployed for the accreditation of voters in the forthcoming general elections to reduce electoral frauds.

The Commission, which said it had satisfactorily tested the card readers before the re-scheduling of the elections, had set aside March 7, to rigorously test the card readers technology in two states of each geo-political zone, to ensure its mastery before the elections.

PDP, Others Oppose Use Of Card Readers For Polls

Card Readers For Election in NigeriaThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation and some political Parties have rejected the use of card readers during the forthcoming general elections, that had been shifted to March 28 and April 11.

In an interview with media in Abuja on Wednesday, the spokesman for the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, said the ruling party would resist moves to go ahead with the use of card readers during the elections.

At a separate news conference, representatives of some political Parties also expressed their opposition to the use of card readers for the elections as they said it had not been tested and as such could not be trusted.

According to the group, the use of card readers is a ploy to disenfranchise citizens in the coming elections.

Mr Fani-Kayode said that the position of the PDP on the issue was not different, stressing that the ruling party would resist the use of card readers during the elections.

“Our position remains that the machine has not been tested in any election and there are basis for joining concerns over the use of the for the first time in a crucial election of this magnitude.

“We are aware of plots by the APC to use the card readers to frustrate accreditation in some part of the country while not enforcing strict use of the machine in other parts,” he said.

At first, it was the representatives of 15 political parties that threatened to boycott the elections and take legal action if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) insisted on the use of card readers during the elections.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) had earlier opposed a suit challenging the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the use of the electronic Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in the general elections.

The suit was filed by the Society for Advancement and Protection of Public Rights (SAPPR) and it came up for mention at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday.

It is challenging the power of the INEC to use of the electronic voting system without legislation by the National Assembly.

But the PDP now kicks against the use of the card reader.

The INEC, through the National Director in charge of Information and Voter Education, Dr Chris Iyimoga, noted that the commission would conduct a field testing of the card readers, which would be deployed for the accreditation of voters in the forthcoming general elections to reduce electoral frauds.

The Commission, which said it had satisfactorily tested the card readers before the re-scheduling of the elections, had set aside March 7, to rigorously test the card readers technology in two states of each geo-political zone, to ensure its mastery before the elections.