The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said on Monday that it was share misrepresentation of fact to say that journalists were not allowed to cover the budget defence sessions going on at the National Assembly.
Lawan was reacting to report published in some dailies last week that the media were shut out of the coverage of the budget defence at the various Senate committees.
“There is no shut out of the press from what we do,” Lawan told reporters.
“We need the press to tell Nigerians what we are doing. You (journalists) are our friends. That was a misunderstanding (of what happened),” Lawan said.
The Senate President said it should be expected that journalists, at some point, may be excused from such meetings when sensitive issues that bother on national security are being discussed.
“I want to assure Nigerians that whatever we do in this Senate and indeed in this National Assembly is in the best interest of Nigeria. We will not compromise on anything as far as the national interest is concerned,” Lawan said.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday night met with members-elect of the National Assembly ahead of the inauguration of the 9th NASS on Tuesday.
The President met the lawmakers-elect in company with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, and members of the partys National Working Committee as well as APC governors at the Sheraton in the nations capital Abuja.
At the end of the meeting which was held behind closed doors, none of the lawmakers-elect or party officials were willing to speak to journalists about the meeting and the discussions with the President and party leaders.
The meeting is, however, believed to be aimed at putting final touches to the APCs plans for the leadership of the 9th National Assembly.
The party has endorsed Senator Ahmed Lawan and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege for the position of Senate President and Deputy President, respectively, while Femi Gbajabiamila and Idris Wase were chosen for the role of Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.
Although many lawmakers-elect including governors elected under the party have backed the choice of Lawan and Gbajabiamila, there has been opposition to the choice with Senator Ali Ndume gunning for the Senate Presidency, while Muhammad Umaru Bago wants to Speaker.
The APC NWC had met with governors and members of the National Assembly elected on the platform of the party earlier in the day to endorse Lawan and Gbajabiamila as its choice for the position Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has issued certificates of return to 24 Zamfara State House of Assembly members-elect.
The lawmakers made up of 23 members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and one member of the National Rescue Movement (NRM), were candidates in the state elections and declared winners by INEC after a judgment of the Supreme Court, which nullified all APC votes at the 2019 General Elections in Zamfara state and ruled that the party had no candidates.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner Dr. Asma’u Maikudi presented the certificates to the lawmakers.
Consequently, following the judgment of a five-man panel led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, the apex court declared that the party with the highest number of votes cast at the election outside the appellants is the winner of the election.
The ruling was reviewed by the electoral umpire, which now declared the candidates with the highest votes, winners of the election.
Meanwhile, INEC issued Certificates of Return to the new winners of elections made up of the Governor, Deputy Governor-elect, and Senators-elect at the Commissions Electoral Institute in Abuja on Monday, May 27, 2019.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has cautioned members of the Kogi state House of Assembly for allegedly allowing Governor Yahaya Bello to push them to act beyond their boundaries, and join in the odious conspiracy to forcefully remove the state Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajana.
This is according to a statement by the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan.
PDP argued that that there is no provision in Nigeria’s constitution that empowers the state legislature to superintend over the judiciary or direct the powers and functions of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on issues pertaining to judges, let alone a state Chief Judge.
The party further argued that the recommendation of the Kogi state House of Assembly for the removal of the State Chief Judge is “a misdirected shadowboxing, which not only exposes the state legislature to public ridicule but also reinforces impressions and allegations in the public space that it has been compromised to execute ignoble schemes of the state executive”.
PDP noted that this development is not healthy for the image of the legislators in the state and could lead to their recall by their constituents.
“The powers and functions of the state legislature vis-a vis those of the judiciary are well carved out in our laws and should be respected at all times. The ostensibly induced action of the Kogi state legislature is therefore a direct affront to our constitution and invitation to anarchy.
“The Kogi lawmakers should note that they were elected to uphold good governance and rule of law for the benefit and welfare of the people of Kogi state, and not as instruments of witch-hunt and intimidation in the hands of an anti-people, repressive, incompetent and grossly corrupt administration, which has no regard for the law and the will of the people.
“Moreover, the lawmakers should note that in ditching the constitutional provision of separation of powers and joining in assaulting the independence and sanctity of the judiciary, they are also setting their parliament on the path of self-destruct and complete annexation by the executive.
“The party therefore charges the members of the Kogi State House of Assembly to immediately retrace their steps and ensure that as lawmakers, they are not found on the wrong side of the law,” the PDP stated.
The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mojisola Adeyeye, has revealed some ‘abnormalities’ she has experienced during her time on the job.
According to her when she assumed her role as NAFDAC DG, some House of Representatives members demanded bribes from her and even threatened her upon refusing to concede to their demand.
“When I came to NAFDAC, there were a lot of things that were wrong. Take oversight function or whatever that is done, I was shocked when I was told to give money, I said money for what? … money to the committee that visited us. The Health Care Services Committee of the House of Representatives,” she said on Friday during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily.
Adeyeye further stated that the request from the federal lawmakers came at a time the agency was ‘bleeding profusely’ from a paucity of funds.
Beyond shocking, she described the day as the worst day of her life as ‘a chief regulator.’
“I said I cannot. For just the visit? I couldn’t believe my ears because it saddens me. Yes, it can be referred to as them asking for a bribe. It saddens me. This is an organisation that was bleeding profusely.
“It wasn’t taken well at all. I was threatened and I couldn’t believe that too, you are threatening me?” she stated.
Speaking further, the NAFDAC boss explained that since assuming office in 2017, the agency has cleared debts of about 3 billion Naira.
Asked how funds are generated, she stated that officials rake in money from user fees and the Internally Generated Revenue.
According to her, user fees comprise charges on companies for the evaluation and subsequent approval of their products.
US House lawmakers on Tuesday are expected to pass a Democratic measure annulling President Donald Trump’s declared emergency on the southern border, an effort that appeared to earn growing support among Senate Republicans.
Trump’s February 15 emergency declaration gives him access to billions of dollars to construct his wall on the Mexican border, beyond the nearly $1.4 billion that Congress allocated for construction of border barriers.
But the House of Representatives, run since January by Democrats, has the support necessary to terminate the emergency, dealing a stern rebuke to a president controversially seeking to expand his executive powers.
Should the measure clear Congress and reach his desk, Trump would be cornered into issuing the first veto of his presidency, an embarrassing development because the measure seeks to directly rein in the president’s authority.
The House vote, expected Tuesday afternoon, will serve to “defend our democracy,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday.
Trump’s top Democratic rival in Congress warned that his emergency order was tantamount to an unconstitutional attempt to seize executive authority by taking lawmaker’s power to control how federal funds are spent.
“The president’s power grab usurps that responsibility and fundamentally violates the balance of power envisioned by our founders,” said Pelosi, who has noted that the measure already has 226 supporters in the 435-member body.
After clearing the House, the measure would receive a vote in the US Senate. Republicans control the chamber, 53-47, but several senators in Trump’s party returned to Washington after a one-week break to express deep reservations about Trump’s end run around Congress to obtain wall funding.
Trump sought to head them off early Monday, saying he hoped Republicans “don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security.”
“Be strong and smart,” Trump tweeted. “Don’t fall into the Democrats ‘trap’ of Open Borders and Crime!”
‘Creating another’ problem
Trump and the White House have pressed on with plans to repurpose more than $6 billion from other sources, mostly already-allocated funds in the Defense Department budget.
He has repeatedly declared that rampant illegal immigration is fuelling a border crisis, leading to higher crime and strains on public services.
Two key groups — dozens of Republican former lawmakers, and a bipartisan group of former national security officers including secretaries of defense and CIA directors — spoke out strongly against the emergency declaration.
In open letters Monday, they warned of an abuse of the framework of the US Constitution.
“Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border,” said the 58 national security officials, who include former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, and George W. Bush’s undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns.
As pressure in Washington mounted, some Republican lawmakers appeared to buckle.
GOP Senator Thom Tillis said in a column that while Trump is “rightfully frustrated with Congress’s inaction” on border security, the president made a mistake declaring an emergency and Tillis will support the Democrats’ resolution of disapproval.
“I have grave concerns when our institution looks the other way at the expense of weakening Congress’s power,” he wrote in The Washington Post.
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have also signalled their likelihood to support the resolution.
“The emergency course is not one I favor,” Senator Mitt Romney told reporters.
“I don’t think you solve one problem by creating another one, which is taking money out of military construction — and there’s a separation of powers (issues) as well,” added Senator Marco Rubio.
“I don’t like it, and my vote will reflect that.”
If all Senate Democrats support the resolution, only four Republicans would be needed for it to pass the Senate.
Trump has said he is “100 percent” certain to issue a veto, deepening a political showdown on Capitol Hill and setting up a series of legal battles.
Republicans have said Democrats likely do not have the votes — two-thirds majorities required in both chambers — to override a Trump veto.
US lawmakers from both parties, friends of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and press freedom groups on Thursday marked 100 days since the Saudi dissident’s assassination.
Featuring a portrait of Khashoggi against a backdrop of American flags, the ceremony began with a moment of silence.
“The murder of Khashoggi is an atrocity and an affront to humanity,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during the event in Washington.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor who lived in the US, was killed in October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to pick up paperwork needed for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancee.
Over three months later, his body’s whereabouts remain unknown. Turkish and US officials accuse Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of orchestrating the killing — an allegation Saudi authorities categorically refute.
In Washington, US President Donald Trump’s response to Riyadh — a key trade partner — provoked outrage among lawmakers across the political spectrum.
“If we decide that commercial interest should override the statements that we make and the actions that we take, then we must admit that we have lost all moral authority to talk about any atrocities anywhere, any time,” Pelosi added.
The newspaper’s CEO Fred Ryan said Khashoggi’s death had “touched his Washington Post colleagues deeply.”
“Yet this story is not just about the murder of one innocent journalist,” he added.
“Jamal’s killing is part of an escalating attack against press freedom that is being waged by tyrants around the world.”
Meanwhile, Margaux Ewen, North America director for Reporters without Borders, warned that “journalists, bloggers, and media workers are under threat” every day.
“Together, let’s make sure the sacrifices of those like Jamal who have paid the ultimate price have not been in vain,” she said.
Amnesty International had earlier on Thursday appealed for a United Nations-led investigation into Khashoggi’s death.
PresidentMuhammadu Buhari, in a move to calm aggrieved lawmakers who were booing him during the presentation of 2019 budget proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday said ”the world is watching.”
The lawmakers during the budget presentation repeatedly interrupted President Buhari’s speech with chants and boos. As the President mentioned achievements of his administration, the aggrieved lawmakers responded with chants of Liess! Nooo! Barawo! Grasscuter!
In response to continued boos, President Buhari said, “May I remind members of the National Assembly that the world is watching us. We are supposed to be above this.”
The President’s response and composure was met with applaud by other lawmakers.
Read excerpts from presentation below…
President Buhari: We have weathered the storms and made progress on every front.
Aggrieved Lawmakers: “Nooooo!
President Buhari: The Economy has recovered from recession.
Aggrieved Lawmakers: Noooo! Liess!
President Buhari: We have done more work with less resources in agriculture, infrastructure and social investment.
A group of lawmakers of the House of Representative, onThursday, called for the return of Nigeria from the presidential to the parliamentary system of government.
Spokesmen of the group, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) and Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) told journalists at the National Assembly in Abuja that the parliamentary system that was adopted in 1960 is the best economic benefit that happened to Nigeria.
According to Chinda, the 71 lawmakers which make up the group believe strongly that the parliamentary system can be achieved once again in Nigeria.
He added that parliamentary system, as opposed to the presidential system, suits Nigeria because it is more economic friendly, cost-effective and largely efficient in the conduct of government business.
“We are 71 bi-partisan members of the House of Representatives, who feel that the parliamentary system of government promulgated by the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954 is the best for Nigeria since the presidential system has reduced us to the poverty capital of the world.
“Our position in this legislation clearly points to compelling advantages of a parliamentary system of government, such as economic growth and development, as well as inherent efficiency in the conduct of government business.
“Studies have shown that countries under the presidential regimes consistently produce lower output, volatile inflation and greater income inequality relative to those under the parliamentary system,” the group said.
The group also added that the present presidential system’s over-centralisation of government decisions obstructs economic development and makes it difficult to achieve economic objectives.
The Benue State House of Assembly has suspended the impeached Speaker, Mr Terkimbi Ikyange, for six months.
He was suspended on Friday after a motion was moved by the Majority Leader, Mr Avine Agbom, and backed by 18 other lawmakers who held plenary at the old banquet hall of the Benue State Government House Makurdi.
The lawmakers accused Ikyange of allegedly disparaging the house by mobilizing police personnel to the assembly complex to deny members access to the chamber.
They also called on the Commissioner of Police to immediately order his men to vacate the assembly complex as there were no security threats to lives and property.
The political crisis in the Benue State House of Assembly assumed another dimension on Friday when the Nigerian police barred the 22 lawmakers who impeached Mr Terkimbi Ikyange as Speaker of the Assembly from gaining access to the legislative chamber for plenary.
As early as 8 am, police vehicles had blocked the main entrance of the state House of Assembly
The lawmakers then attempted to enter the chamber through another gate behind the assembly complex, but they met another police blockade there.
This led to a heated exchange with a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Tajudeen Bakare, who led the operation.
Bakare told the lawmakers that the information available to him indicated that there would be a breakdown of law and order.
However, the lawmakers insisted they would sit anywhere in the state as allowed by the Constitution since the police had taken over the assembly.
Mr Ikyange had rejected his impeachment declaring the process illegal and believes the lawmakers are bent on destroying the legislature.
However, the lawmakers told journalists that the impeachment process met all the constitutional requirements.
They vowed to carry on with the planned sitting in any part of the state, and eventually, moved to the Government House for plenary.