HDP Sues NSA, CDS, Jonathan Over Election Postponement

inec-1The Hope Democratic Party (HDP) legal action has instituted against President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) and the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, challenging the legality of their powers to effect a postponement of elections already scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Also joined as co-defendants in the court filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke as well as INEC.

In the originating summon issued by counsel to HDP, Mr. Okechukwu Ehogwu, the plaintiff is asking the court to declare that the purported postponement of the scheduled February 14 presidential election was not in conformity with the provisions of the law since there was no natural disaster or natural emergency.

The party also canvassed that the letter of information from the Chief of Defence staff and the National Security Adviser dated February 3 to INEC on their inability and failure to guarantee security for Nigerians does not qualify as a natural disaster or emergency that could warrant election postponement.

The Plaintiff, who also has a presidential candidate, also asked for court declaration that INEC was not under any duty or bound to obey or comply with any unverified or cogent reasons to postpone scheduled election in the absence of a natural disaster.

The party is praying the court for an order restraining the Chief of Defence Staff, NSA, President Jonathan and AGF from further interfering in the party’s right to participate in an election and to also stop the usurpation of powers of INEC under any guise.

Jonathan In Closed Door Meeting With Emir Of Kano

Emir of KanoPresident Goodluck Jonathan, before heading to pick up nomination forms at the PDP headquarters on Thursday, held a closed door meeting with the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in the Presidential Villa.

The Emir was accompanied to the meeting, which lasted  for one hour, by members of the Kano Emirate Council.

Others present at the meeting included Vice President Namadi Sambo, National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke and Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Aminu Wali.

This was the second time Sanusi would be visiting Jonathan since he became the Emir of Kano.

Sanusi, alongside other northern traditional rulers led by the Sultan Of Sokoto, Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, had visited the Presidential Villa on July 23 to break the Ramadan fast.

Sources say that Jonathan and Sanusi met to see how they could resolve their differences.

Jonathan Signs Pension Reform Bill Into Law

Jonathan hands to chestPresident Goodluck Jonathan has signed the 2014 Pension Reform Bill into law.

The Act, among other highlights, provides stiffer penalties that would serve as deterrent against mismanagement or diversion of pension funds’ assets under any guise.

With the new law, operators who mismanage pension funds would be liable on conviction to not less than ten years imprisonment or fine of an amount equal to three times the amount so misappropriated, or diverted, or both imprisonment and fine.

The law also empowers PENCOM to institute criminal proceedings against employers who persistently fail to deduct and or remit pension contributions of their employees within the stipulated time.

This was not provided for by the old 2004 Act, which only allowed PENCOM to revoke the licence of erring operators.

The signing ceremony, which took place  in the office of the President, was witnessed by Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke and the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Adamu Muazu.

Nigeria/UK Sign Prisoner Transfer Agreement

The Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement providing for the transfer of prisoners between the two countries.

The agreement would allow Nigerians who commit crimes in the United Kingdom, and Britons who commit crimes in Nigeria, to serve their sentences in their own country, where they can be properly prepared for release into the community in which they would live following their release.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Abuja, British Justice Minister, Jeremy Wright, said that removing foreign national offenders is a key priority for the British Government, and the Prisoner Transfer Agreement signed with the Nigerian Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, plays a significant role in supporting the mutual agreement.

Nigeria and the United Kingdom have in place, Prisoner Transfer Arrangements with a number of other countries.

A special joint committee of Nigerian and British officials will oversee the implementation of the agreement, as the first set of prisoners will be transferred under the agreement before the end of 2014.

Jonathan Drags Obasanjo To Rights Commission

The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has submitted himself to the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, for probe over criminal allegations against him by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Acting on the instruction of the president, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, forwarded Chief Obasanjo’s letter to the commission for investigation into the alleged rights violations contained in the letter.

The AGF, in a memo dated December 23 and addressed to the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, requested the commission to investigate the allegations bordering on human rights violations contained on page 9-10 of the letter.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who denied the allegations in his response, is specifically inviting the rights commission to unravel the truth in the allegation that his government had begun training over 1,000 snipers to terminate his political opponents.

Oshiomhole In Near Fight With Minister at Presidential Villa

A drama ensued in the council chambers just before the council of state meeting as the governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole engaged the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke in a momentary argument over the controversy surrounding the death of his personal secretary Olaitan Oyerinde.

The governors had all converged in their usual chit-chat manner when the Attorney General drew close to the Edo State governor to say that his attorney general was ignorant of his role in the case.

The statement may have enraged the governor and he did not hide his feelings.

Speaking with journalists after the meeting on the reason for his outburst, Mr Oshiomole said Mr Adoke had trivialized his office as governor, adding that the matter was wrongly referred to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, instead of the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.

“I don’t think it is an issue I want to talk about. He (Mr. Adoke) was saying that my Attorney General should have known what to do, that he has nothing to do with the matter. I simply asked him who referred the matter to him. Was it my Attorney General? The matter was referred to him by the Deputy Inspector General of Police and I asked him who should know better?

“If the Deputy Inspector General of Police referred a matter that he ought to have referred to the State to the Federal Attorney General, who is the one dragging him (Mr. Adoke) into the matter? Who is the one politicizing the matter? Should we assume that the DIG did not know that an offense of murder is a state offense? And if he knows it’s a state offense why did he refer it to the Federal Attorney General? So, if there is any complaints he should complain to the DIG who referred the case to him. The rest you witnessed,” the governor said.

Mr. Oshiomhole continued, “The point is that some of these guys- I am a governor, I’m elected; he has to respect my office even if he doesn’t respect my person. In any event, we are dealing with factual issues. If a case was wrongfully referred to the federal attorney general by the Nigeria Police, who is to blame?”

Mr. Oshiomole also said the state government had earlier complained that the matter ought to have been referred to the Edo State Director of Public Prosecutions and not federal because it is a state offense committed in Edo State.

“It’s like the case of a he-goat. When a family is happy they sacrifice the he-goat to celebrate. When the child is sick the native doctor says, sacrifice a he-goat so that the child will be well. So, head or tail, the he-goat is in trouble.

“Here I am, my primary Secretary is killed, nobody seems to bother. I’m doing my best to raise the issue because that is the least I owe to someone who gave his life. Yet for someone else who does not think life is important, it’s a matter to trivialise and joke about. When it comes to life and death, I don’t joke.

“The essence of governance is to protect life and property. That is fundamental. Even in poverty, people need to feel safe and secure. Nobody has a right under our constitution to take the life of another except if it has been confirmed by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“I was surprised that for the Attorney General it is something he can afford to joke with, telling me that my Attorney General didn’t know what to do,” the governor said.

The Governor advised that office holders should think of how the decisions they make will affect the country as after now, they will all be referred to as “ex”.

However, the Attorney General, in his reaction, denied trivializing the governor’s office.

“I will not disregard his office. He is my personal friend. I have the highest respect for him. I did not trivialise his office and I have no reason to trivialise his office. He is at liberty as a governor in this country to say whatever he wants to say but I will accord his office the highest respect and I will not join issues with him,” he said.

Oyerinde: AGF writes House, says I was never confused

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke on Thursday wrote a letter to the House of Representatives denying allegations that he was confused on how to handle the prosecution of the murder of late Olaitan Oyerinde, former Principal Private Secretary to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.

A lawyer representing the office of the AGF, Thompson Olatigbe on Wednesday told the House of Representative’s committee on public petition that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation is yet to identify suspects in the murder of Mr Oyerinde.

He had specifically told the committee that the hands of the office of the AGF is tied with respect to the case as the investigations conducted by both the police and the State Security Service produced different suspects in the matter.

However, in a swift reaction to this submission, Mr Adoke wrote in the letter to the House “I wish to completely disassociate myself from the comments purportedly made on my behalf by Mr. Olaitigbe as the comments were at best, a figment of his imagination and very far from the truth. Mr. Olaitigbe was under firm instructions to inform the Committee that:

“(a) the Federal Ministry of Justice had examined the powers of the State Security Service as provided by Section 3 of the National Security Act, Cap.N.74 LFN, 2004 and the powers of the Nigeria Police Force as provided by section 4 of the Police Act Cap. P.19 LFN, 2004 and had come to the reasoned conclusion that the power to investigate crimes of the nature under consideration (murder) resides with the Nigeria Police Force while the power to gather intelligence lies with the State Security Service, and

“(b) Murder, the offence allegedly committed by the suspects is exclusively within the jurisdiction of the States in the Federation. The Criminal Procedure Act, Cap., C. 38 LFN, 2004 is very clear on this matter. The Federal Ministry of Justice therefore has no power to prosecute murder cases as murder is a state offence committed against State law and that the matter was already been handled by appropriate authorities in Edo State.”

The Minister said he was “shocked, embarrassed and utterly disappointed by the representations reportedly allegedly made” on his behalf by Mr. Olaitigbe and that he has “instituted an internal investigation to unravel the mystery and appropriate measures will be taken to discipline any officer found wanting in this deliberate propagation of falsehood.”

The House committee is probing a petition against the police on alleged complicity and improper investigation of the murder of the late principal private secretary.

During the hearing, Governor Oshiomole explained why he believed the Police were not professional in their investigation of the case. The committee then took presentations from officials of the two security agencies – the police and the DSS – both of which have suspects in custody for the same crime.

House summons justice minister over Nigerian citizens resident in Bakassi

The House of Representatives Committee on Justice has invited the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) to explain the government’s plan for Nigerians still residing in the disputed Bakassi Peninsula.

The federal law maker representing Bakassi in the House, Representative Nkoyo Toyo, had drawn attention of the committee to the zero allocation made to cater for Nigerians in the peninsula.

Solicitor General of the Federation, Abdullahi Yola, who represented the minister was however not able to speak on the matter.

Yola led other officials from agencies under the ministry, to defend the 2013 budget proposal of the ministry.

The lawmakers insisted on knowing the plans made by the ministry for the citizens of Nigeria still residing in the ceded Bakassi Peninsula, claiming the government is still responsible for them.

The lawmakers expressed their displeasure over the inability of the minister to appear before them to provide them with firsthand information of the ministry’s plans.

The meeting was postponed to a later day in the week, when the minister will be available to make known the plans of the ministry to the lawmakers.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2002 passed a judgment ceding Bakassi to Cameroun following the dispute between Nigeria and Cameroun on the area.

Chief Justice swears in Falana, 24 others as Senior Advocates

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mariam Alooma Mukhta on Wednesday swear in twenty Five lawyers who were recently elevated to the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) as part of activities marking the commencement of a new legal year by the Supreme Court.

Lagos based lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana and the others were conferred as senior advocates by the Legal Practitioners Privileges committee. The elevation, the Committee said, was in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners’ Act 2004.

Those who were sworn in alongside Mr Falana included: Yemi Akinseye-George, a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Dakas Clement James Dakas, Joy Okungbowa Adesina, Connie – Jeanne Aremu, Mahmud Abubakar Magaji, Ogwu James Onoja, Garuba Usman Tetengi, Henry Oghogho Ogbodu, Selekeowei Larry, Abenny O. Mohammed and Charles Nwanne Obishai.

Others are Luke Chukwudi Illogu, Francis Chuka Agbo, Paul C. Ananaba, Akinlaja Dayo Moses, Ahmed Raji, Adekunle Theophilus Oyesanya, Rotimi Oluseyi Oguneso, Oluseye Samuel Opasanya, Aderoja Claudius Olumiyiwa, Aliyu Umar, Illo Katune Sanusi, Rotimi Jacobs and Ndukwe A. Nnawuchi.
Justice Mukhta praised the Supreme Court Practice Direction signed into law by the past Administration for contributing to the speedy conclusion of election cases.

“In this new legal year, our efforts will be redoubled to ensure that the confidence bestowed on us by the people and by God will not be thrown into the abyss,” she said.

The Chief Justice said there are presently an estimated 40,000 prisoners in Nigeria with about two thirds of this population not convicted.
She said that perhaps the Amnesty International is correct for laying the blame on the Nigerian judiciary where cases are unnecessarily adjourned.

She commended the efforts of some state administration aimed at introducing alternative punitive measures as a way of prison decongestion and praised Community service, non-custodian sentences and probation as having great benefits to the government and the society at large.

Also speaking at the event, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke called for a rethinking in the elevation of persons to the rank of senior advocates of Nigeria. He observed that the general perception is that being a SAN offers legal practitioners license to charge very fat legal fees.

“In popular discourse within and outside the profession, there is a palpable feeling or perception that the rank is a passport to fame, personal riches and comfort. To others, the rank is a license to command fat fees, open doors and prominence bordering sometimes on arrogance. It is a matter of regret that these negative perceptions of the rank have engendered resentment from our colleagues who are yet to be similarly recognised and honoured”

He said the position of senior advocates of Nigeria places a duty and responsibility on the bearer to the profession.

He called on the new senior advocates as leaders of the Bar, to behave in a manner befitting the rank.

Subsidy Scam: Justice Minister orders withdrawal of charges against suspects

The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday withdrew criminal charges filed before a Lagos High Court, sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island against some oil subsidy suspects and their Chief Executive Officers.

Consequently, the trial judge, Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson struck out the suit instituted against Durosola Omogbenigun, Peter Mba, Integrated Resources Limited and Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo in an application dated July 26 brought pursuant to Section 73 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Law, 2007 sought leave of the court to withdraw the charges.

Mr Oyedepo told the court that he had instructions from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to withdraw the charge against the defendants.

In a 10-pragraph affidavit attached to the application, deposed to by one Usani Francis, a prosecuting counsel with the EFCC, the anti-graft agency stated that the charges preferred against the defendants were misconstrued by the prosecution and were inadvertently filed against the defendants.

“That a review of the prosecution’s case and the evidence available to the prosecution clearly show that the defendants did not commit the offences for which they are charged’’, he swore.

The anti-graft body further added that withdrawing the charge against the defendants would meet the interest of justice in the case.

Misters Omogbenigun, Mba, Integrated Resources Limited and Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd were earlier charged with offences bothering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.

They were alleged to have forged bills of lading and other documents, with which they perpetrated the fraud.

Specifically, Integrated Resources Limited and Mr Omogbenigun were said to have obtained the sum of N823, 304,765.84 (eight hundred and twenty three million, three hundred and four thousand, seven hundred and sixty five naira, eighty four kobo) from the Federal Government on November 15, 2011, “by false pretence and with the intent to defraud.”

The defendants allegedly claimed it was subsidy money payable to Integrated Resources Limited under the Petrol Support Fund. The sum was said to be payments for Federal Government’s request for 9,190,815 Litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Sacked Imo LGA Chairmen: Respect the constitution, Minister of Justice tells Okorocha

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke on Tuesday asked the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha to allow the sacked local government Chairmen in the state to resume office as ruled by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal in Owerri earlier this month reinstated the ousted elected chairmen and councillors of the 27 Local Government Areas in the state. In a unanimous judgement, the court declared that going by Section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution and Section 23(1) of the Local Government Law 2000 (as amended), the governor has no competence or power either by his person or through any person acting on his behalf to dissolve democratically-elected chairmen of the 27 local government areas of the state.

In statement issued from his office, the Minister of Justice said “the attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to the lingering controversy that has trailed the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Judicial Division in Appeal No. CA/OW/215/2011, Barr Enyinna Onuegbu & 26 Ors v. Attorney General of Imo State & 3 Ors dated 5th July 2012 which declared as illegal and unconstitutional the action of the Governor of Imo State, purporting to dissolve the democratically elected Local Government Councils in the State before the expiration of their constitutionally guaranteed tenure.”

Mr Adoke explained “that section 7 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, guarantees the existence of a system of democratically elected Local Government Councils throughout the federation. The judgment of the Court of Appeal aforementioned has only confirmed this position.

“I therefore call on all concerned to respect the judgment of the Court of Appeal and give due regard to the provisions of the Constitution which all elected officials of government have sworn to uphold. This will not only inspire confidence in the polity but will also deepen our fledgling democracy.

“In the light of the foregoing and in consonance with this administration’s avowed commitment to the enthronement of the rule of law in the federation, I hereby call on Imo state Government and all relevant agencies of government to abide by the judgment of the Court of Appeal and ensure that the judgment of the Court of Appeal is given its full effect.

AGF seeks ICC and AU’s support in trying terrorist financiers

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), has solicited the support of International Criminal Court (ICC), and the African Union (AU), in prosecuting terrorist financiers in a bid to stem the growing challenge of terrorism, faced by the country. .

While flagging-off the 51st session of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALGO), in Abuja, Mr Adoke said it was high time the ICC paid closer attention to the worsening security situation in Nigeria.

“As you are aware, Nigeria has recently been grappling with the challenges occasioned by piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and terrorism in the northern part of the country, we therefore hope to benefit from incisive analysis to effectively combat international crime” he stated.

According to the AGF, despite the large number of African state parties to the Rome status of the ICC, the relationship between the organisation and AU has remained less satisfactory.

“We must, therefore, continue to render support to one another and take advantage of our unique skills and competencies to enhance the well-being of our people,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the executive Secretary of AALCO, Prof. Rahmat Muhammed, in his opening remarks, said the conference would deliberate on important issues concerning member nations, saying the organisation was committed towards ensuring peace and good governance among its member states.