Niger State Commissioner Abducted By Bandits Regains Freedom

 

The Niger State Commissioner for Information Mohammed Idris has regained freedom from bandits who abducted him on Monday.

Top government officials in the state confirmed the return of the commissioner to Channels Television on Thursday.

Idris was released around 9:30pm at a location in Suleja after which he was taken to a hospital for medical check-up.

The officials, however, said no ransom was paid before the commissioner was released by his abductors.

Speaking after his release, the commissioner expressed gratitude to God for protecting him during his stay in the bandits’ den.

“As a Muslim, prayer is the the best shield against evil. Allah has a way of testing the faith of believers,” he said.

“My abductors regretted their cruel action and I have forgiven them. I urge you to forgive them too.”

Mr. Idris was kidnapped at about one o’clock in the early hours of Monday from his home at Baban Tunga village in Tafa local government of the state.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Kidnap APC Zonal Chairman In Niger State

Commissioner for Information in Niger State Government, Mohammed Idris

 

Kidnappings have been on the rise in the northwest and central of Nigeria where heavily-armed groups have been operating. Foreign workers have also been occasionally targeted for ransom abduction.

Last weekend, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was kidnapped in Mariga Local Government Area of Niger State.

Aminu Bobi who is the Zone C chairman of the ruling party in the state was kidnapped on his farm.

A resident of the area confirmed the incident via a telephone conversation in Minna.

Electoral Violence: Court Backs Wike, Declares Police Panel Illegal

Wike Alleges INEC Plans To Rig 2019 ElectionJustice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court Abuja has declared as illegal the 15-man probe panel constituted by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Idris, to investigate the violence that took place during and after the December 10, 2016, National and State Assembly rerun election in Rivers State.

Delivering judgement in the suit filed on January 11, 2017, by the Rivers State Government and Governor Nyesom Wike, Justice Kolawole said “the police panel was unknown to law” because it lacked constitutional backing.

Consequently, the court held that the report of the panel was not valid and from a doubtful source.

The trial judge also held that it was wrong for the IGP to constitute a police panel that had the Department of State Security as a member.

Justice Kolawole noted that even though Section 4 and 11 of Police Act, allows the police to investigate allegations of crime, the law stipulates that the police will require presidential assent in order to delegate power to another prosecutorial agency.

Justice Kolawole also said that had the report of the panel been placed before the court, it would have been quashed

In view of this, Justice Kolawole said it remained to be seen whether the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, would prosecute those indicted by the police probe panel based on an illegal report.

Electricity Tariff: Court Warns FG, DISCOs Not To Disobey Subsisting Orders

CourtThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has warned the Federal Government and the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) not to disobey subsisting court orders on electricity tariff.

The court also warned the government not to act in a way that showed disdain for the court in a constitutional democracy.

Presiding Justice, Mohammed Idris,  gave the warning while ruling in a suit filed by a lawyer and rights activist, Toluwani Adebiyi, over the recent hike in electricity tariff on Monday.

Justice Idris fixed Friday, February 19 to hear an application by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) seeking a stay of proceedings in the suit.

The judge fixed the date after listening to the arguments of lawyers representing parties in the matter over the order in which pending applications should be taken by the court.

Mr Adebiyi filed a suit seeking a perpetual injunction restraining NERC from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff without significant improvement in power supply for at least 18 hours a day in May 2015.

He also wants an order restraining NERC from foisting compulsory service charges on pre-paid meters until “the meters were designed to read charges per second of consumption and not a flat rate of service not rendered or power not used.”

Multiple Long-term Financing Approach

Mr Adebiyi wants the service charge on pre-paid meters not to be enforced until there is visible efficient and reliable power supply like those of foreign countries where the idea of service charge was borrowed.

He further asked for an order of court mandating the NERC to do the needful and generate more power to meet the electricity use of Nigerians, emphasising that the needful should include and not limited to a multiple long-term financing approach, sourced from the banks, capital market, insurance and other sectors of finance to power the sector.

Throat-cutting Bill

The lawyer also asked the court to mandate the NERC to make available to all Nigerians within a reasonable time of maximum of two years, prepaid meters as a way to stop the throat-cutting indiscriminate estimated bill which must be devoid of the arbitrary service charge, but only chargeable on power consumed.

In an affidavit in support of the suit personally deposed to by the applicant, the lawyer lamented that despite the motto and mission of NERC which were expressly stated as “keeping the lights on and to meet the needs of Nigeria for safe, adequate, reliable and affordable electricity,” most communities in Nigeria do not get more than 30 minutes of electricity supply, while the remaining 23 hours and 30 minutes were always without light and in total darkness.

“Nigeria’s poor masses are paying an estimated and indiscriminate residential bill ranging from 5, 000 Naira to 18, 000 Naira, spending an average of 15, 000 Naira to 20, 000 Naira for fuel to maintain generating set.

“Businesses had collapsed, industries had closed down, and residents cannot sleep comfortably at night due to inefficiency of our power industry.

“Companies and commercial houses are groaning under throat-cutting power bill which they are paying for, yet not getting the benefit for such payment,” Adebiyi stated.

Poor Power Supply

He stressed that the proposed increase in electricity tariff came amidst the tangled web of poor power supply with no reasonable proof of improvement.

“The situation is self evident, it readily speaks for itself because everyone is suffering from poor power outrage.

“Bringing further increase amidst this tangled web of hardship and without any improvement in power supply will be highly unjustifiable and will be an economic burden on Nigeria populace. It is totally absurd and not for the good of the people and therefore must be stopped,” Adebiyi submitted.

Justice Idris had made an order directing parties to maintain status quo and for NERC to suspend all actions relating to any increment in electricity tariff pending the hearing and final determination of the suit.

But while the suit was pending, NERC in conjunction with the Electricity Distribution Companies commenced the implementation of the new electricity tariff on February 1.

Protests by labour unions had since trailed the new power tariff.

At the proceedings, the plaintiff drew the court’s attention to an application seeking to commit the NERC’s Chairman and the CEOs of the Distribution Companies (Discos) to prison for allegedly flouting the order.

But NERC’s lawyer, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), said he had filed an appeal against the order by Justice Idris.

He also said he had a pending application for a stay of the proceedings pending the determination of the appeal.

Mr Idigbe mentioned that the plaintiff had not effected service of the contempt proceedings on the alleged contemnors.

The two lawyers were divided on which application should be heard first.

Mr Adebiyi said the contempt charge should be heard first since NERC had undermined the court’s authority, but Mr Idigbe said the application for stay of proceedings should take precedence since an appeal had been lodged.

In a short ruling on the issue, Justice Idris, held that it was in the interest of justice to first hear the defendant’s application for a stay of proceedings pending the determination of their appeal against the court’s order.

The plaintiff then asked for a short adjournment to enable him file his response to the application.

Justice Idris subsequently adjourned till Friday for the hearing of the application for a stay of proceedings.

FG Loses Bid To Stop MTN From Moving Funds Out Of Nigeria

Abubakar-Malami
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami.

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has refused to grant an application of mareva injunction filed by the federal government seeking to stop MTN Nigeria Communications Limited from moving funds in its accounts in 21 commercial banks out of Nigeria.

Presiding Justice, Mohammed Idris, while ruling on the application filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), held that the Federal Government failed to place enough materials before the court to prove that MTN was about to empty its bank accounts and move its funds out of the country.

The government had filed the application to prevent MTN from boycotting the payment of the N1.04trn fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its failure to deactivate its unregistered subscribers.

The government had specifically urged the court to make an order directing all the 21 banks to open a special interest-yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court and move N1.04tn out of whatever funds that was standing to MTN’s credit in their possession.

The government in an affidavit attached to the application expressed the fear that MTN could move all its funds out of the country before the N1.04tn fine could be enforced.

Counsel to the Federal Government, Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), in the 14-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one of his junior in chamber, Steve Nwabueze, alleged that MTN was in the habit of regularly repatriating its funds out of Nigeria.

Okpeseyi claimed that between October 2007 and May 2009, a period of 19 months, MTN moved over $7.7bn of the money made in Nigeria to a foreign account.

The lawyer also pointed out to the court an instance when in one day, specifically on February 8, 2008, MTN transferred over $936m out of Nigeria to accounts in Mauritius, Cayman Island and British Virgin Island.

He stated, “unless this honourable court urgently entertains this application, the plaintiff/respondent would move its funds out of Nigeria, being the jurisdiction of this honourable court, and thereby frustrate the enforcement of the fine in the likely event that this honourable court sanctions the imposition of the fine.”

Okpeseyi further insisted that MTN was under an obligation to pay the N1.04tn fine, because it was NCC’s administrative decision, which remained final unless it was reviewed by the commission or nullified by the court.

The senior lawyer also submitted that though NCC had earlier given MTN a concession on the fine and reduced it to N780bn, but since MTN had neglected or failed to pay on or before December 31, 2015, the fine remained N1.04tn.

Okpeseyi averred that instead of taking advantage of the concession, MTN resorted to filing a suit in order to buy time, with the hope that it could move all its funds out of Nigeria before the case would be decided.

He therefore urged the court to grant the application in the interest of justice to prevent the court’s decision from being rendered nugatory if it went in the favour of the Federal Government and NCC.

However, Justice Idris declined to grant the application holding that the case was a very sensitive one and of public interest, so he would rather urgently hear the case filed by MTN to challenge the fine and give a judgment within a short time.

But before he adjourned the case to January 22, 2016 for hearing, the Judge made an order for the parties to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the determination of the suit.

MTN had in December 2015 filed a suit through it lawyers,led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to challenge the sanction.

The telecommunication firm had argued that the NCC being a regulator, cannot assume all the functions of the state on its own, considering the fact that they made the regulation, prescribed the penalty and imposed the fine, payable to the commission and not the federal government.

MTN had also claimed that it was not afforded its constitutional right of fair hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction and more importantly, it had not been found guilty of any offence that will warrant it to pay such outrageous fine.

However, the Attorney General in his reply to the suit insisted that NCC is justified to impose the fine, and that it is his duty, as the chief law enforcement officer in the country, to ensure that all the laws made by the National Assembly are obeyed.

The NCC on its part has urged the court in a motion on notice filed through its lawyers, Ahmed Raji (SAN) and Mahmud Magaji (SAN), to dismiss or decline to hear the suit for want of jurisdiction or send it to Abuja.

The commission argued that the suit was wrongly filed in Lagos, noting that the subject of the dispute took place in Abuja, while the two respondents in the suit, NCC and the Attorney General of the Federation, are also based in Abuja.

KRPC Amateur Golf Open Championship Kicks Off Saturday

GolfThe 11th edition of the prestigious KRPC Amateur Open Golf Championship would kick off tomorrow, Saturday, December 6, at the lush green of Kaduna Golf Club, Kaduna.

The event, which is open to amateur golfers from the national and international golf clubs, is being bankrolled by the Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company (KRPC).

At a pre-tournament news conference on Friday, the Manager Public Affairs of Kaduna Refinery, Mohammed Idris, said that about 230 golfers from 16 clubs across the country are expected to participate in the competition which would start by 7am in the morning.

Idris says apart from the giant trophy that is expected to be presented to the overall winner of the tournament, participants would also compete for prizes in six categories.