Senate Amends Law For FCT Customary Courts To Undertake Criminal Trials

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The Senate on Thursday commenced amendment to the Federal Capital Territory Customary Court Act, 2007, to expand the jurisdiction of customary courts in the FCT to include criminal trials.

According to the sponsor of the piece of legislation under consideration, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti Central), the bill proposes amendments to Sections 2,14,48,49 and 50 of the Principal Act to alter the Quorum of the Court, provide for criminal jurisdiction of the court, and right of appeal to aggrieved persons to appeal to the FCT High Court in the case of criminal matters.

Explaining the reason behind the introduction of the FCT Customary Court Act, 2007 (Amendment) bill, Bamidele said, “Customary Courts in other parts of the country are now contributing immensely to criminal justice administration.”

READ ALSO: Senate Urges FG To Prioritize Resources For Human Capital Development

Citing Lagos and Akwa-Ibom States as examples, the lawmaker explained further that “to bring the FCT Customary Court at par with the Customary Courts in other parts of the country, this bill prescribes the criminal jurisdiction of the court in Part II of the Schedule to the bill by specifying offences and punishments cognizable by the court.”

He added that, “the bill proposes to amend Part II of the Schedule to the Principal Act to specify categories of offences and terms of imprisonment or fines that can be imposed by the FCT Customary Court in exercise of its proposed criminal jurisdiction.”

Senator Bamidele said if passed into law, offences that attract maximum prison term of seven years or maximum fine of N500,000 or both, will now be tried by the FCT Customary Courts without prejudice to the jurisdiction of magistrate courts in the FCT.

“The passage of this bill will erase the pressure on magistrate courts in the FCT and it will also strengthen the right of accused persons to be arraigned in court within a reasonable time as recognized under section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended,” Bamidele said.

Contributing to the debate, the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi (APC – Niger North), raised concerns as to whether the bill if passed into law would ensure fairness in the dispensation of justice.

“When you talk about customary court, it is a court that looks at issues that bother on the customs, traditions, norms and likes of the people within the context of their tradition.

“Most of the states of the federation have peculiar traditions, customs and the likes. But in the FCT, it is a collection of all Nigerians in one place, and so I’m wondering, if you saddle one person with the responsibility of adjudicating, will there be justice and fairness?” the lawmaker queried.

“The idea behind picking one or two people within the context of the customary court for example, is different from the regular court where you have very trained professionals,” Senator Abdullahi observed.

Other lawmakers such as Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP – Abia South), Philip Aduda (PDP – FCT), Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC – Kwara Central), Abbo Elisha Ishaku (APC – Adamawa North) objected to the idea of non-professionals adjudicating over customary court proceedings in criminal trials.

The lawmakers advised the sponsor of the bill to tweak the legislation in a way that provides for the inclusion of experienced legal professionals in the Quorum of Customary Courts, if it at all its jurisdiction must include the dispensation of criminal justice.

Senator James Manager (PDP – Delta South), while sharing the observation raised by lawmakers who spoke before him, appealed that the bill be allowed to scale second reading, so as to give opportunity for necessary input and corrections at the stage of Public Hearing.

Senator Teslim Folarin (APC – Oyo Central), however, kicked against the bill and called for it to be stepped down to allow for further legislative input.

The bill, which eventually scaled second reading after a voice vote put forward by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further work.

Corruption: Lawan Seeks UN’s Assistance On Repatriation Of Looted Funds

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has sought the assistance of the United Nations on the repatriation of looted funds back to Nigeria.

Lawan made the appeal on Wednesday when the United Nations Country delegation paid a visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.

The Senate President, while responding to anti-graft concerns raised by the visiting delegation, said that the fight against corruption in Nigeria continues to suffer setbacks as a result of the inability of the federal government to repatriate looted funds stashed away in foreign countries across the world.

According to Lawan, such resources, if at the disposal of the government, would go a long way towards addressing critical developmental and infrastructural deficits faced by the nation.

READ ALSO: Falling Oil Price: A Challenge For Nigeria To Look Inwards

“The head of the delegation has raised a lot of issues, and these are important and very relevant issues to us.

“When we fight corruption, we do so within and outside. So much of Nigeria’s resources have been taken out of the country.

“But even when we identify embezzled funds, to get them back to Nigeria is a big deal. And in fact, we are suffering from that for years.

“We have had few occasions when we received some repatriation, but the bulk is still out there.

“We need UN to help us, because the kind of resources that are alleged to have been taken out of Nigeria will make the country a rich country if they are repatriated,” Lawan said.

“We have never been a rich country, comparing the resources we have had, and the development challenges facing us till date.

“We are blessed and endowed, but we need every single kobo to be put into the development of this country,” the Senate President added.

The Senate President lamented further that due to unavailability of funds, the Federal Government resorted to obtaining domestic and foreign loans to fund capital projects in the 2020 budget.

Reacting to concerns raised over Nigeria’s rising population, Lawan said, “I believe that if we are able to use our population to build the capacity of our population, Nigeria’s population will be a blessing, not a curse or burden.

“It is our inability to provide for capacity building of the population, and addressing health issues and so on that makes Nigeria look like it is in bad shape.

On Nigeria’s readiness to meet the 2030 deadline for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Senate President said, “from the failures in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the past, the SDGs will definitely have a better treatment in the country, because our failures in the past has shown us our areas of weaknesses.

“Already, we are trying to work hard between the parliament and the executive arm of government to close ranks, to focus and remain on those issues out of the seventeen, that will have spin-over effects on others.”

Lawan, expressed appreciation to the United Nations for its “supportive” role to Nigeria in response to the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the country.

“We appreciate the role you play in our country. The UN has been so supportive in many ways, and of course, the recent support you have given is in the area of our response to COVID – 19.

“We started slowly in our response, but I think as a country we are now responding very well, and thank God we are also lucky we have very few incidents.

“There are countries that are more developed than Nigeria that are in a very dire situation as far as the COVID-19 menace is concerned,” he said.

Earlier, leader of the United Nations delegation, Edward Kallon said the UN invests about $750m on development assistance per annum in Nigeria.

He added that, “the UN is also very active on the humanitarian front in the country and our support to northeast Nigeria, the epicenter of the crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

“We have been investing from $945m in 2017 to $878m in 2018, and $714m in 2019, and on an annual basis, the UN and its partners are assisting around 5.5m people in northeast Nigeria.

“The total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance this year has varied from 6.2 million to 7.9 million as we speak.”

Kallon, while highlighting the major developmental challenges facing Nigeria said, “The UN is concerned about some megatrends that we feel is affecting Nigeria’s development.

“One is our concern about the explosive population growth visa vis the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Growth rate.

“As you are aware, Your Excellency, the population is growing at the rate of about 2.6 percent, and the economy is growing sluggishly at about 2 or 2.1 percent.

“The second megatrend is multi-dimensional poverty and increasing inequality, which is a major concern for us.

“If you look at the population growth and the GDP growth rate, what it is telling us is that more Nigerians are being born into poverty, and the figures are alarming and is a serious concern.

“The third megatrend is corruption and illicit financial flows, which your government is working very hard to combat.”

Falling Oil Price: A Challenge For Nigeria To Look Inwards – Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Wednesday said the global falling price of crude oil should be a challenge for Nigeria to devise other means of growing the nation’s economy.

Speaking to members of the Council For New Nigeria (CFNN) when they visited him in his office, Lawan said with appropriate policies and programmes Nigeria has the potentials to grow even without oil.

He said, “we have a challenge of oil price that is not good right now, but what about countries without oil? There are countries that do not have oil and yet they are making progress.

“May be this is the time to start thinking of how to take people out of poverty in a country without oil, so that we will not say because the oil price has gone down we cannot do anything.

“This is the time for us to come up with strategies that will not make us to go back on our reliance on oil even if the price improves.

“Let us think about how we can live as a country without oil. We need to think deeply at this moment. We have every reason not to think of oil again. Let it complement what we are going to achieve without it.

“It will take us a little suffering but there is a price for everything. People survived before oil in the past. Oil just came in and we mismanaged it. I think this is an opportunity for us to do that.”

The Senate President who debunked the notion that Nigeria is rich because of its oil-producing status said with the crude oil cost of production of US$30 per barrel, the nation realised only $5 per barrel if it is sold at $35.

He expressed optimism that with the right policies and proper implementation the aim of the Federal Government to take 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years is achievable.

Lawan said the Senate is always ready to partner with any group or organisation that is willing to support the Federal government to realise its ambition on poverty reduction and job creation.

He said there is a need for the government and relevant stakeholders to identify specific projects and programmes that will be used in taking people out of poverty for proper coordination and strict implementation.

Earlier, the leader of CFNN, Senator Abu Ibrahim said the organization was a support group by members of the All Progressive Congres (APC) and was formed to ensure the realisation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic agenda.

Ibrahim said a strategic action plan on poverty eradication and job creation by the group was recently submitted to the President for his endorsement.

SERAP Asks Lawan To Drop Bill To Give ‘Repentant Terrorists’ Foreign Education

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to the Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan, urging him to use his leadership position to “ensure that the bill that would allow ‘repentant Boko Haram terrorists’ opportunities to access public funds to enjoy foreign education is immediately dropped.

SERAP also asked the Senate President to sponsor bills that would ensure access to justice and reparation for the victims of Boko Haram terrorist group.

According to SERAP, “the bill, which has passed the first reading at the Senate would give opportunities to ‘repentant terrorists’ to receive foreign education including by accessing funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and subventions from the government.”

In the letter dated 28 February 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “This bill erodes justice and makes a mockery of the suffering of victims, and the unspeakable human tragedy, humanitarian crisis and appalling atrocities committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group.”

SERAP said: “By calling Boko Haram members ‘ex-agitators’, the bill mocks the victims of appalling atrocities committed by the terrorist group, and is a blatant affront to victims’ dignity. ‘Repentant Boko Haram terrorists’ are not ‘ex-agitators’; they are terrorists under Nigerian and international laws.”

READ ALSO: Buhari Replaces Security Officials Over Release Of 295 Smuggled Petroleum Tankers

According to SERAP: “Boko Haram members should not be allowed to enjoy foreign education while over 13 million Nigerian children of school age are roaming our streets. Alleged perpetrators of gross violations should not get the benefits at the expense of these and other deserving children. Rather than allowing perpetrators to access public funds to enjoy foreign education, the Senate should be promoting reparation for victims, to prevent future criminality and ensure the best interest of justice.”

SERAP also said: “Should the Senate go-ahead to pass the bill, and should the bill be supported by the House of Representatives and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions nationally and internationally to challenge the legality of any such law and ensure that it is never implemented.”

The letter read, in part: “Prioritising the education of Boko Haram members over the rights of Nigerian children to quality education is discriminatory, as it violates Nigerian constitutional provisions, international and regional human rights obligations, and will undermine national development.”

“This bill serves neither justice nor the public interest. The bill also does not represent value for money for Nigerian taxpayers, especially coming from an institution whose individual member reportedly takes home about N182 million yearly, translating to N15.1 million monthly or N45.3 million quarterly.”

“Internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in many parts of the country are in shambles, with people lacking access to basic necessities like food, clothing and children of victims lacking access to basic education.”

“Without justice, the seeds of future criminality and militant terrorism will grow. This bill, if passed, would only lead to more terrorism and suffering.”

“The Senate should focus on passing bills that would ensure access of victims to effective remedies including adequate reparation, and effective prosecution of ‘repentant Boko Haram members’ rather than rewarding them with opportunities to study abroad.”

“Prioritising alleged perpetrators’ rights at the expense of the victims’ rights, interests and needs is discriminatory, illegal and unconstitutional, as it amounts to ‘re-victimization’. While the alleged ‘repentant Boko Haram terrorists have the right to an impartial and fair trial, they have absolutely no right to enjoy foreign education.”

“Pursuing accountability of perpetrators would also show that Nigerian authorities will take action against those who commit gross human rights violations against their own people.”

“In proposing bills to respond to the atrocities committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group, the Senate should ensure strict adherence to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and commitments, including the 1985 United Nations Declaration of the Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, which provides for the basic standards for victims treatment.”

“The Boko Haram terrorist group has committed numerous human rights atrocities against the Nigerian people. By prioritising prosecution of alleged perpetrators, the Nigerian authorities will be sending a powerful message to the victims and the international community that atrocities committed by the terrorist group will not be ignored.”

“According to our information, the proposed bill aims to establish a “National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria.” The agency will get its funding from the Universal Basic Education Commission, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and annual subventions from the government.”

“Section 5(m) of the bill gives ‘repentant terrorists’ the opportunity of receiving foreign education, by among others accessing the services of offshore and Nigerian institutions in the pursuit of the educational needs of ex-agitators.” Under the bill, one per cent of TETFund and UBEC fund will be used in funding the agency for rehabilitating the terrorists. The agency will also be funded by 0.5 per cent of the federal allocation of the six North-East states.”

“The bill, sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Geideam, representing Yobe East, has passed the first reading in the Senate. Among the likely beneficiaries under the bill will be 25 Boko Haram members and their wives, who recently arrived in Maiduguri, the Borno State, after they reportedly surrendered to troops in Niger Republic.”

SERAP therefore urged Dr Lawal to urgently initiate four separate bills to ensure:

1. adequate reparations for victims of Boko Haram atrocities;

2. the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those much in need;

3. access to free, inclusive and quality education to Nigerian children from socially and economically disadvantaged sectors of the population. Any such bill should remove school fees and charges to ensure all students can access school equally, and target financial support for girls at risk of dropping out through girls’ education strategies;

4. accelerate effective prosecution of alleged repentant Boko Haram members and other members

Insecurity: NASS, Presidency Committed To Finding Lasting Solutions, Says Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has given an assurance that the ninth National Assembly will continue to work with President Muhammadu Buhari to find lasting solutions to the current insecurity in the country.

Lawan in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Press, Ezrel Tabiowo, stated that the Federal Government will also provide infrastructure across the country for Nigerians.

READ ALSO: Banditry: Buhari Condemns Killing Of 30 In Katsina

“I want to assure you that we are going to continue to work with President Muhammadu Buhari until we are able to find lasting solutions to this problem of insecurity in our country.

“We will also ensure that government provides infrastructure across the country that makes life meaningful for Nigerians,” Lawan said.

The Senate President commiserated with the people of Katsina over the recent deadly attacks in the state by bandits.

Democracy: Nigeria Has Made Substantial Progress In Twenty Years – Lawan

 

 

President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said on Thursday that Nigeria has made significant progress over the last twenty years since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.

Lawan stated this in a speech delivered at the 17th Edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme “Twenty Years of Democracy in Nigeria: Strengths, Weaknesses and Opportunities”, which held in Abuja.

The Senate President, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event, was represented by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North).

Lawan said, “Representation, appropriation and legislation are critical to good governance.”

According to him, “These virtues are enshrined in a democratic setup, which we (Nigerians) have experienced in the last twenty years.”

READ ALSO: NASS Will Sustain Synergy With Executive, Lawan Says In Christmas Message

In his assessment of Nigeria’s democratic journey so far, the Senate President said, “Nigeria has made substantial progress on all counts, in the evolution of our nation, via the democratic dispensation. We have been steady, determined and forward-looking.

“We have developed it to the point where we can look no other way, other than the democratic way. What we now have to do as we have been doing in the National Assembly are ways of perfecting the system.

“The point has been severally made that there is no perfect democracy anywhere in the world, but the hallmark of a good democracy is the ability to develop its processes and procedures.”

Identifying the tools of democracy as the Constitution, political parties and electioneering process, Lawan noted that “any democracy that seeks to grow must ensure that these sectors work seamlessly.”

He added, “The legislature is in tune with this realization and has set in motion machinery for the timely passage of the Electoral Reforms Amendment Bill and the Bill for the Amendment of the 1999 Constitution.

“We have proposed these Bills for amendments, based on the limitations we realized from implementing them.

“In reviewing them, therefore, the greater goal of service to fatherland, and the overall good of the people are our (National Assembly’s) guiding principles.”

The Senate President while harping on the need to strengthen the country’s economy, said the National Assembly passed legislations towards increasing Nigeria’s revenue base in addition to ensuring appropriate application.

He identified some of the bills as the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 LFN 2004 (Amendment Bill, 2019), and the Finance Bill, 2019, which was passed on 21 November 2019, and amended seven (7) existing tax and fiscal policy laws.

Others, he said, are the Public Procurement Act 2007 (Amendment) Bills, 2019 which, according to him, seeks to strengthen the operational capacity of the Procurement Act, as an important reform and anti-corruption initiative.

Among the dignitaries who attended the event is the former Vice President of Nigeria, Mohammed Namadi Sambo who Chaired the occasion; Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, and immediate Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief John Oyegun.

Others are: Senator Kashim Shettima, Chairman, Senate Committee on Interior and former Governor of Borno State, and Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration.

Declare State Of Emergency In Power Sector, Senate President Tells Buhari

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Monday called on the Executive to, as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency in the power sector to overcome the legion of problems stalling steady power supply in Nigeria.

Lawan stated this while declaring open a one-day round-table discussion with the theme: “Addressing Nigeria’s Power Problems” organized by the Senate Committee on Power.

The Senate President said the privatization of the power sector in 2005 and 2013 was a grand scheme conceived with the intention to defraud Nigeria.

He said, “For me if there’s any sector of our economy that is so important and yet so challenged, it is the power sector. I believe that this is a sector that needs a declaration of emergency.

“This is an opportunity for us in this round-table to exhaustively discuss not only the problems of the power sector in Nigeria but the solutions and way forward.

“The truth is that we all know what is wrong. What we really need to do is to have the political will to take on the challenges generally.

READ ALSO: Lawan Urges Service Chiefs To Repel Attacks, Assault By Bandits

“From the electricity power reform of 2005 to the privatization of Gencos and Discos and to what is happening today, we know that everything is a fraud. If we play the ostrich, in the next ten years we will be talking about the same things.

“I think the time has come for us to have courage. I want to remind us, that we have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. What will give us an edge is to have a competitive environment.

“Our industries and businesses must be able to produce things that can compete favourably with products produced in other countries in Africa. We are not in that position today, and we all know the consequences of that.

“Even our citizens, who have capital, will rather relocate to Ghana, produce whatever they want and bring to Nigeria to sell. Where does that leave our country? No employment opportunities; Nigeria becomes a dumping ground.”

The Senate President, therefore, called for a review of the privatization exercise undertaken by the Goodluck Jonathan administration which led to a takeover of the power sector by private Generating Companies (Gencos) and Distribution Companies (Discos).

He added that the National Assembly would make a significant contribution to the reform of the power sector through enabling legislation required to turn around the fortunes of power generation and distribution in Nigeria.

“If we went wrong with our privatization of Gencos and Discos, the time has come to look into it.

“Whatever we have to do to review these things, we should do. We must do it in the interest of the people of this country. We must admit there was something done wrong.

“This round-table actually is an idea of the Senate, that we should come together to talk among ourselves. Ours is to provide legislative interventions, but we are also part of the government.

“Therefore, whatever that is required to support the executive arm of government to turn-around this sector, in fact we are more than prepared to do so through legislation.

“If we are going to amend the power sector reform, we are prepared to do that, and expeditiously. Tell us where the issues are, because we can’t afford to delay any action to make the power sector of this country perform.

“In the sixties, we were comparing ourselves with Indonesia, Malaysia and the rest, now we started comparing with Ghana, Togo. With all due respect, that tells us we are not making progress where other countries are.”

“This round-table is an opportunity to come up with measurable roadmaps because we are not going to leave the implementation to the executive alone. We want to participate in every inch of the way.

“Every bit of what is to be done; we want to be part of it, so that we can contribute meaningfully to take the power sector to the next level.

“It is really disheartening that we are still talking about 4,000 megawatts. I don’t understand this. Other countries within Africa are talking of so much, even Ghana is three times better than what we are doing.”

Lawan called on the federal government to deploy the political will towards revamping Nigeria’s failing power sector, saying, “We are yet the largest economy in Africa, for how long can we sustain that position?

“I believe that we have to declare a state of emergency on Power, and courageous decisions must be taken by the government”, the Senate President said.

Earlier, the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, in his welcome address said the “interaction was arranged out of the concern of the Senate and National Assembly about the intractable problems that we have been facing in the power sector.”

According to Abdullahi, “a lot of resources and human effort have gone into finding solutions to problems that have put this country several decades backwards, particularly because of the issues that have been raised and have undermined the development of power.”

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswam, said, “There’s no doubting the consequential role which electricity plays in the economic development of countries.

The lawmaker lamented that Nigeria currently holds the position of being the second country in the world after India, with the highest population in the world without access to electricity.

Suswam identified challenges in the power sector to include: institutional and governance; infrastructural; political; legislative and environmental.

“Most institutions of government saddled with the responsibility of managing the power sector lack the capability and capacity to function effectively”, he said.

The lawmaker added that there is serious infrastructural deficit in the entire value chain of the power sector, adding that “this more than any other challenge requires attention.”

Among representatives from the executive arm of government that attended the round-table organised by the Senate Committee on Power are the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman and Managing Director, Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading PLC, Marilyn Amobi.

Lawan Urges Service Chiefs To Repel Attacks, Assault By Bandits

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, speaks during a session in the Senate Chamber in Abuja.

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has called on the Service Chiefs and security agencies in the country to immediately swing into action by repelling the attacks and assaults by armed bandits on Nigerians across some states in the north.

Lawan made the call on Wednesday after consideration of a motion brought to the floor by Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger East).

He said, “The motion we have just taken is a very serious one and I would urge the security agencies to act as quickly and expeditiously as possible to repel the attacks and assaults by the bandits.

“The essence of any government is the protection of lives and properties, and this is what we have to do for our citizens as an administration and as a government.

“We hope that this situation will be brought to an end and we will do everything possible, working with the executive to ensure that we secure the lives of our citizens and their properties.”

READ ALSO: Why Senate Has Not Constituted Constitutional Review Committee – Lawan

Earlier, Senator Sani Musa, in his motion, said confirmed reports from Madaka ward, Burwaye, Tagina, Gaude, Ungwar Sarki Noma, Gyaramiya, Maganda, Samunaka, Kurmi villages of Alawa, all in Rafi and Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, have been under attack.

According to the lawmaker, “many people have been killed and abducted including the District Head of Madaka.”

He bemoaned that “these attacks continued without any presence of Security Personnel in the Communities leaving them in the hands of the bandits.”

He added that “the current criminal wreckage among other havoc on fire Victims, set many homes on fire and carted away many cattle and other valuable assets worth millions of naira.”

The Senate, accordingly, urged the Service Chiefs and other Security Agencies to deploy immediately troops and materials to tackle the menace and to change the Security architecture of the area to forestall and bring back peace and order.

The upper chamber also urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to urgently provide relief materials to the affected areas in view of the harsh harmattan weather experience across Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Wednesday swore in Smart Adeyemi as a Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly.

The lawmaker was sworn-in immediately after the adoption of the votes and proceedings for Tuesday, December 3, 2019, moved by Jibrin Isah (APC, Kogi East) and seconded by Obinna Ogba (PDP, Ebonyi Central).

The oath was administered by the Clerk of Senate, Nelson Ayewoh.

Adeyemi was early this week declared winner of the Kogi West Senatorial election, having defeated Senator Dino Melaye after the court annulled an earlier victory awarded Melaye.

Melaye and Adeyemi had contested the November 16 Senatorial rerun election in the state to represent the people of Kogi West Senatorial district but the election was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

According to the results from the concluded elections last Saturday, Adeyemi polled 88,373 votes while Melaye recorded 62,133 votes, and was accordingly declared the winner by the Returning Officer, Olajide Lawal.

NASS Adjourns Plenary To Honour Late Member, Jafar Auna

 

The National Assembly on Tuesday adjourned plenary to honour a member, Jafar Auna, who died on Monday.

A minute of silence and prayers were held for him in both chambers of the National Assembly.

The adjournment was done after the Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan moved that plenary be adjourned to another legislative day.

Plenary was therefore adjourned to Wednesday, December 4.

READ ALSO: Lawan, Gbajabiamila Mourn Death Of Lawmaker, Jaafar Iliyasu Auna

Honourable Jafaru, who represented Rijau/Magama Federal Constituency of Niger State in the ninth National Assembly died on Monday morning in Abuja.

Lawan had earlier commiserated with the family of the deceased lawmaker and the government and people of Niger State and pray Almighty Allah to give them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

Gbajabiamila also in condolence said he was “deeply shaken” by the demise of the Niger Rep, adding that he was a gentleman who showed great willingness and determination to work with his other colleagues to make good laws for the country.

Any Request From Buhari Will Make Nigeria Better, We’ll Act On It Expeditiously – Lawan

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday, said the Senate is yet to receive any formal request from President Muhammadu Buhari for confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

Lawan made the disclosure when a delegation of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption paid a courtesy visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.

Senator Lawan said the Senate is willing to approve all requests that come from President Muhammadu Buhari because they are in the best interest of the people.

He, however, stressed that the request to confirm Magu was yet to make it to the floor of the hallowed chambers.

“The confirmation of acting chairman of EFCC – there is no request before this Senate for the confirmation of the acting chairman of EFCC.

“This is a new senate and therefore until there is a request to this senate, there is nothing the Senate can do.

“I want to assure you that any request that comes from Mr. President is a request that will make Nigeria a better place either in terms of appointments or legislation and the senate will act expeditiously to ensure that we play our part in the confirmation or passing of legislation appropriately,” Lawan said.

Chairman of the Presidential Committee and leader of the delegation, Prof. Itse Sagay, in his address, craved the cooperation of the upper chamber in ensuring the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, as well as the consideration of several Anti-corruption Bills introduced under the Eight National Assembly.

Sagay also informed the Senate leadership present at the meeting that the Committee had severally received complaints that members of the National Assembly, particularly Chairmen of Committees, solicit monetary compensation for undertaking oversight functions.

READ ALSO: President Buhari Congratulates Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello On His Re-Election

Responding to Sagay, the Senate President said:

“Going by our rules, any issue that was not concluded in the lifetime of the Eight National Assembly would have to start all over again.

“As far as we are concerned, those bills would have to come again and go through the process from the very beginning. We are prepared to begin work on them if the bills are ready.”

On the confirmation of Magu, Lawan said, “there’s no request before this Ninth Senate for the confirmation of the Chairman of the EFCC.

“This is a new Senate and therefore until there’s a request to this Senate, there’s nothing it can do.

“I want to assure you that if any of such requests come from the President, we will play our part in the confirmation and passing of legislation accordingly.

“On oversight, you mentioned that people complain that committees or members of the National Assembly demand monies from MDAs.

“As far as I know, I’m not in receipt of any complaint. If any committee asks for anything from any MDA that is not appropriate, the law is there to take its full course.

“We believe that no committee or no member of the National Assembly will go out of their way to ask for anything from anybody before that committee undertakes any oversight.

“The ninth Senate has decided that we will take our oversight very seriously. We believe that it is the best thing to do after we pass the budget in a good time.

“Therefore, we are going to hold those charged or entrusted with public funds for the implementation and provision of infrastructure and services accountable.

“We believe that there is a need to apply the resources efficiently and prudently.

“Also, the cost of governance in Nigeria is too high. Today, we have over seven hundred agencies of government. Many of them are not adding any value to governance.

“We believe that the time has come to review the functions of these agencies to determine their relevance.

“We need to look at how we are going to streamline these agencies to ensure we free our resources in order to add to our capital.

“The appropriation of seventy percent of our budget to recurrent is not desirable. We have to work with the executive arm of government to reduce it.

“Reducing them will not happen overnight because we have to get rid of many agencies first without having to throw people out into the labour market.”

Senators present during the visit are: Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Senate Minority Whip, Philip Aduda; Deputy Minority Whip, Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u; Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Bamidele Opeyemi, and Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah.

Other senators at the meeting are: Senators Tolulope Odebiyi (APC, Ogun West); Oseni Yakubu (APC, Kogi Central); Chairman, Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Abubakar Kyari; Chairman, Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Suleiman Abdul Kwari; Chairman, Committee on Water Resources, Bello Mandiya; Vice Chairman, Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Francis Fadahunsi, and Chairman, Committee on Rules and Business, Suleiman Umar.

Kogi/Bayelsa Elections: Lawan, Gbajabiamila Congratulate Bello, Lyon

File Photo: Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Reps Femi Gbajabiamila

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has congratulated the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidates on their victory in the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.

Lawan particularly rejoiced with the Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello on his reelection and David Lyon for making history as the first governor Bayelsa has elected on a platform different from the outgoing ruling party in the state.

The Senate President praised President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring a level playing field that enabled the people to assert their sovereignty and choose their leaders.

“The impressive turnout of voters in the two states is a ringing endorsement of democracy by Nigerians as their preferred system, notwithstanding its current challenges,” Lawan said in a statement signed by his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi.

Lawan also thanked the security personnel for their sacrifices for peace and order in the face of great difficulties.

The Senate President enjoined the winners to be magnanimous in victory by accommodating all sections of the state in their governments and development agenda.

Read Also: Senator Vows To Go Ahead With Bill To Establish Prohibition Of Hate Speech

Lawan also admonished the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, to learn from the challenges experienced in the two states with a view to constantly improving its institutional performance and the electoral process.

The Senate President called on the relevant agencies to ensure thorough prosecution of the electoral offenders in the two states to serve as deterrence to others.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has also congratulated the winners.

In a message signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, Gbajabiamila said the victory recorded by the APC candidates in the two states was an indication of the wide acceptance that the party enjoys.

Read Also: INEC Declares APC’s David Lyon Winner Of Bayelsa Governorship Election

The Speaker said Bayelsa State, in particular, has now joined the Next Level train, having seen the massive change driven by the APC-led government at the federal level.

“It is gladdening to know that our party, the APC, came out victorious in the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. This is a testimony that Nigerians across the length and breadth of the country are beginning to realise what the APC means for the country.

“This victory is not for the party or its members alone, but for the entirety of Nigerians.

“May I call on the two governors-elect to be magnanimous in victory. The APC stands for the good of Nigerians, and I know the two governors-elect are part of the journey to make Nigeria better,” the Speaker said.

He called on the people of the two states, including members of the opposition parties, to join hands with the governors-elect to make their states great.

NASS Working To Pass 2020 Budget November 28, Says Lawan

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan,

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said on Tuesday that the National Assembly is working towards the passage of the 2020 Appropriation bill on November 28, 2019.

To achieve this target date, Lawan directed the Senate Committee on Appropriations to submit its report on the 2020 budget proposals on November 26, 2019.

Lawan gave the directive on the floor of the Senate during plenary.

The Senate President stated that the committee’s compliance to lay its report on November 26 would facilitate the passage of the 2020 budget on November 28, before the National Assembly proceeds on Christmas break.

He said: “On the Budget 2020 we are working on, the ball is now in the court of Senate Committee on Appropriations, the last committee standing.

“All the committees have done their work so well within the defined parameters and we, therefore, expect the Appropriations Committee to produce the report and lay it here by the 26th of November, next two weeks.

“I believe that the same thing will be done in our sister chamber, the House of Representatives, so that we are able to pass the Appropriation Bill 2020 on November 28, by the Grace of God.”

Meanwhile, a total of twelve bills scaled first reading on the floor on Tuesday.

The bills are: National Religious Equity Commission (Est.) bill, 2019, sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah; Constituency Development Fund (Est.) bill, 2019, by Senator Ali Ndume; National Agency for Technology Incubation (Est.) bill, 2019, by Senator Ajayi Boroffice; National War College Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Senator Aliyu Wamakko; Compulsory Free Universal Education Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Senator Rose Oko, and Private Security and Forensic Investigation Bureau of Nigeria (Est.) bill, 2019, by Senator Barinanda Mpigi.

Others are: Police Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Senator Betty Apiafi; Federal University of Agriculture and Technology Funtua (Est.) bill, 2019, by Senator Bello Mandiya; Federal College of Education (Technical) Kaima, Kwara State (Est.) bill, 2019, by Senator Sadiq Umar; Federal University of Gashua (Est.) bill, 2019, by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi; Federal Medical Centre Dekina, by Senator Jibrin Isah, and National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est.) bill, 2019, by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.