Buhari Did Not Order National ID Card Use For 2019 Elections – Presidency

President Buhari Did Not Order National ID Cards Use For 2019 PollsThe Presidency has denied claims in the media that President Buhari has given “orders” that national identity cards be used in the 2019 elections.

The statement from the Office of the Vice President was in reaction to newspaper reports on Friday which referred to the Vice President’s speech delivered on Thursday by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Ade Ipaye at the Policy Roundtable on Identity Eco-System in the country to make the claim.

Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, insisted that no such orders were made by the President and the said speech by the Vice President made no mention of the 2019 elections at all.

According to him, what the speech said was that the President has taken an initiative to harmonize identity management in the country so as to ensure that every Nigerian has a unique identifier.

And in the same vein, the speech added that it is the “President’s charge that the national identification number, (NIN) is used to authenticate eligible voters in the near future, as well as in the areas of access to health insurance, registration of SIM cards, access to social welfare, financial transactions, etc”.

Mr Akande then explained: “What this means is that such a unique identifier as the NIN can, when eventually issued, help to confirm age and nationality status of eligible voters, for instance. Or even help determine eligibility of persons presenting themselves for health, social welfare, financial and other available services in the country.

“The President was not giving any directive to INEC or any order regarding 2019.

“Mr. President and this administration fully respect the autonomy of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and also very determined to preserve the integrity of the electoral process at all times.”

The full text of Vice President Osinbajo’s speech at the Policy Round-Table Meeting On Identity Eco-System is published on channelstv.com

VP Osinbajo’s Speech At The Policy Round-Table Meeting On Identity Eco-System

KEYNOTE ADDRESS OF HIS EXCELLENCY, THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO,  SAN, GCON, AT THE POLICY ROUND-TABLE MEETING ON IDENTITY ECO-SYSTEM HELD ON THURSDAY 08 DECEMBER 2016 AT THE STATE HOUSE BANQUET HALL, PRESIDENTIAL VILLA, ASOKORO, ABUJA, NIGERIA

Protocols

I am delighted to welcome you all to this policy roundtable on identity management in Nigeria. I am particularly happy with the representation of all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the World Bank and other Development Assistance Agencies here today. The importance of this policy discussion necessitated my acceptance to chair the meeting, which is aimed at optimising the benefits of digital identity and leveraging its use for accelerating development. The particular focus on harmonisation and integration of disparate government identity management databases is of course a matter of crucial importance to Nigeria.

Identity plays a pivotal role in our lives and cuts across so many sectors of the economy. As a government, we recognise the huge importance of moving towards a Digital Government. Therefore, we must embrace and harness the potentials inherent in digital identity to build and develop our country. Nations all over the world and, in particular, developed countries, have utilized identity as a foundation to transforming governance and enhancing service delivery in the areas of healthcare, agriculture, voting, transportation, financial inclusion, access to basic services and welfare programmes, amongst others.

A case in point is Estonia, a country of just over 1.3m population (WorldBank estimate in 2016). According to Digital Nomads, “Estonia currently has one of the most advanced e-government systems in the world. This includes a single digital ID that enables citizens to access all of its secure services. Applicants can obtain a digital ID that will let them register their business within a day, open a bank account, use e-tax services and sign contracts from anywhere in the world. There, you don’t need to input any data manually for your tax declaration as all data is gathered and prepared automatically. And it can make digital nomad life and business much easier.”

The Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has commenced work on the harmonisation of all our disparate Identity Management Systems into a concise system to ensure completeness, accuracy and integrity of such a national asset. In this regard, I believe that Nigeria must use its digital strategy to establish a global reputation for technological leadership and business dynamism, building digital ecosystems in which innovation can thrive. We will invest in smart infrastructure, platforms, and services; digitise our records and classify them accordingly; review and upgrade the legal and regulatory framework; and nurture digital talent.

Virtually all the developed nations have a single identifier that forms the core of their identity. For instance, in the UK, it is the National Insurance Number, which is mandatory to have as soon as a citizen turns 16 years of age and becomes eligible to work and pay tax accordingly. In the USA, it is the Social Security Number and, in India, it is called the Aadahar number. This unique number, which encapsulates the identity of the individual, is used for all of the activities relating to the identification of the person – in terms of planning for security, health, immigration, budget, etc. An accurate identity management system with quality data is no doubt a national asset to a country. It is time for Nigeria to also offer a unique identity to every person in the country.  Nigeria as a global player and a developing nation must work towards leveraging digital identity as a reliable tool for uniquely identifying its citizenry and residents and accelerating socio economic development.

I am aware that different sectors in Nigeria in response to their peculiar needs, have developed a means to identify individuals in order to perform their specific statutory functions. This has resulted in duplication of efforts, wastage of resources, uncoordinated identity approach, as well as unreliable identity information due to lack of interoperability and disconnected databases. The importance of the confidentiality of the information/data inherent in the identity management system cannot be over-emphasised. We must therefore ensure absolute integrity and security of this information.

It is important that, as a nation, we have an interoperable and connected system to verify that each person or beneficiary is who he claims to be. Our strategic plans, as a government, in the area of identification scheme must therefore converge to make harmonization and integration of the existing and new databases a reality.

Our policies must be articulated and refined in such a way that government agencies must work together; collaborate with each other, share infrastructure and government investments to serve their customers who are potentially the same citizens and residents. The fiscal cost of implementing disparate and unconnected biometric-linked identity databases is increasingly becoming a huge burden and needs to be streamlined going forward as government cannot continue to fund the unnecessary duplication of efforts and overlapping identity functions that further deplete its scarce resources. Clearly, there are potentially large benefits from the integration of the ID programs of our government institutions and we must take advantage of the opportunity that has been presented for us to get it right.

As we endeavour to resolve the identity management system challenges, we will also ensure that other forms of identification such as Drivers’ License, International Passports are aligned and in sync. The President has already taken the initiative in recognising the importance of identity and a harmonized identity management system. That is why there was a directive from my office in December 2015 for all stakeholders who have built independent identity management systems to consolidate, aggregate and integrate existing databases as a way to accelerate and scale up the national identity database so as to offer every person a unique identifier. I am aware that a lot of work has been done in this regard by all of the stakeholders represented here. However, it is the President’s charge that the national identification number (NIN) is used to authenticate eligible voters in the near future, as well as in the areas of access to health insurance, registration of SIM cards, access to social welfare, financial transactions, etc.

The development of identity program in Nigeria will greatly help the nation leverage on its potential to improve security of lives and properties, advance service delivery, and fight poverty and corruption. Achieving full scale national Identity management would boost our efforts at better tracking the movement of people, while minimizing issues with external border controls and terrorism. We have an opportunity to change and transform our country and I believe everyone here has a role to play in the growth and development of our nation through digital identity.

I want to commend the World Bank for its concern and interest in the development of the identity ecosystem of Nigeria, including the harmonisation and integration of many disparate  of government identity management databases; and for sponsoring this roundtable meeting. Furthermore, I want to also commend other Donor agencies who have expressed willingness and readiness to support the Nigerian Government in the effort to build a robust identification eco system.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, It is on this premise therefore, that I am pleased to convey the support and goodwill of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; to the World Bank, other Donor Agencies and to all the MDAs here present. He demands that you all take up the challenge of giving Nigeria a world-class identity management infrastructure, which will be pivotal to the security and socio-economic transformation of the country. His Excellency, the President appreciates your sponsorship, willingness and readiness to support Nigeria.

With the calibre of people here, I am sure that there will be in-depth policy discussions on strengthening the identity eco system of Nigeria and robust action plans to shape the implementation of the Presidential directive for the alignment of all biometric identity databases in the country.

As I conclude, I wish to stress the fact that this meeting is not for us to analyze why the policy cannot work or why more time is needed. This policy meeting is for us to reach a common understanding on what our nation needs right now, what business model and approach should be adopted in ensuring that everyone in Nigeria has a unique identity (an identifier that serves the public and private sectors alike) and consider options and strategies for  streamlining activities of MDAs and optimizing the use of scarce government resources in achieveing a common goal on identification as  an enabler.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is my singular honor and pleasure to declare this meeting open.

I thank you all and wish you fruitful deliberation.

God bless you, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Released by:

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity

Office of the Vice President

December 9, 2016

Synagogue Building: Legal Practitioner Challenges Coroner’s Inquest

Synagogue Church building collapseThe Coroners inquest into the cause of the Synagogue building collapse has been adjourned till tomorrow, Wednesday the 29th of Oct but a legal practitioner, Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje has dragged the Lagos State Government before a Federal High Court seeking an order to stop further proceedings of the inquest.

The inquest which was constituted by the state government was set up to determine the cause of the Synagogue building collapse with a view to forestalling a recurrence.

The coroner, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe had last week visited the scene of the incident to get a first hand view and had summoned the founder and General Overseer of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations, Prophet T.B Joshua to appear before him on November 5, 2014.

But Mr Ogungbeje, wants the Federal High Court in Lagos to stop the Coroner and its proceedings so far. He also wants the court to issue a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants jointly and severally from further proceeding, sitting, investigating, or embarking on any fact finding or taking any untoward action in any manner whatsoever on any facts connected to the case.

The defendants in the case are the Lagos State Government, it’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaye and the Coroner Magistrate.

Mr Ogungbeje argues that the inquest was constituted by the Lagos State Government after some agencies of the state government had indicted T.B Joshua and his Church and accused them of adding additional structures on the collapsed building without obtaining the necessary approvals.

He submits that if allowed to continue, the proceedings of the Coroner inquest will seriously occasion miscarriage of justice, as the same Coroner would base its decision on the testimonies of the same agencies of Lagos State, which had openly indicted Joshua and his Church.

He cites as instances the Lagos State Emergency Agency (LASEMA), the Lagos State Building Control Agency, the Lagos State Fire Service, the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) and others who have made prejudicial reports in the public domain that the building collapsed as a result of additional structures, despite T.B Joshua’s claim that the building collapsed as a result of an aircraft hovering round it, a claim which he says was ignored.

Ogungbeje added that “The Lagos State Building Control Agency even went ahead to seal up the main building of the church. The General Manager of the agency even said in the papers and I quote him as follows ‘we have investigated and found that they had no approval for the additional structures. Even the main church which they have added about three floors on was sealed two days ago.’

The matter is however yet to be assigned to any judge, while no date has been fixed for hearing.

Legal Year: Lagos Not Opposed To Judiciary Financial Autonomy – Ipaye

Legal yearThe Lagos State Judiciary held its 2014/2015 Legal Year Ceremony with simultaneous services at the church and mosque.

The Cathedral Church at Marina, Lagos Island, played host to the Chief Judge, other judges and magistrates, lawyers and guests who came to celebrate with the judiciary.

The clergy advised the judiciary to always seek divine wisdom from God in the discharge of their duties.

It was a similar scene at the Central Mosque also on Lagos Island where judges, magistrates and guests of the Muslim faith also held a thanksgiving service.

The State Government, through it’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaye, appealed to judicial workers in the state to shelve their proposed strike as full financial autonomy for the sector was not yet feasible.

He, however, assured the judicial workers that the State Government was not opposed to the financial autonomy of the State judiciary.

The Legal Year celebrations ended with a colourful parade and inspection of guards by the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade.

Arguments Ensue As Lagos State Appeals Judgment On Lekki/Ikoyi Brigde Toll

Lekki-Ikoyi Toll GateThe implications of the judgment which declared the collection of toll illegal on the Lekki/Ikoyi link bridge was the focus of argument on Monday at the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The Lagos State government and a Lagos based lawyer, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, argued back and forth during a hearing of the government’s application for a stay of execution of the judgment.

On March 28, a day after the judgment was delivered, the government had filed a notice of appeal and an application for a stay of execution of the judgment.

In the application for stay, the government asked the court to stop the execution of the judgment pending the determination of the appeal.

Mr Adegboruwa, who instituted the suit which led to the court judgment, told presiding Justice Saliu Seidu, that the Lagos State government had continually violated the judgment of his court by continuing to collect toll on the bridge.

“Right from the day judgment was delivered, tolling has continued on the bridge. They had shown that they were not going to obey the court’s judgment. As soon as the Attorney-General stepped out of the court, he had said they were not going to obey the judgment,” Adegboruwa said.

However, the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaye, who represented his office and the government, denied violating any court order.

Mr Ipaye maintained that the court in its judgment never made any declarative or consequential order barring toll collection on the bridge.

“The respondent (Adegboruwa) has also filed a cross-appeal, and the cross-appeal is to the effect that there was no declarative court order. I wonder why he is suggesting that we are the only one saying so.

“An alternative prayer in the government’s application was an order of injunction ordering parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of its appeal against the judgment. The status quo is what is currently going-on on the bridge,” Ipaye insisted.

Mr Adegboruwa disagreed with Ipaye’s claims, saying that the status quo was the situation before the suit was instituted. The lawyer, who accused government of contempt, said tolling only began “when your Lordship assumed jurisdiction to hear the matter”.

In opposing the application, Adegboruwa maintained that granting the stay of execution was not a relief a court would grant automatically.

“They have to show that there were exceptional circumstances. They have not shown that there are exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances, if they exist, have been overruled by their illegal conduct,” he said.

Ipaye, who described the relief for an injunction as an alternative relief, said that it was in the interest of justice for the application to be granted.

“Since he has receipts for everything he pays on the bridge, his loss can always be remedied if the appeal fails. But if our appeal succeeds, there is no way we can capture our losses,” he said.

After hearing the arguments of the parties in the suit, Justice Saliu Saidu adjourned ruling on the application till April 25.

 

 

Igbo Deportees Seek 1 Billion Naira Compensation From Lagos State

The suit filed by over 80 Igbo ‘deportees’ against the Lagos State Government came up on Thursday at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, with the plaintiffs demanding a compensation of 1 billion Naira (about 6.3 million dollars) .

Seven plaintiffs filed the suit on behalf of 66 others and they are jointly seeking the compensation from the Lagos State government as general damages for breach of their rights.

The seven plaintiffs are; Joseph Aniebonam, Osondu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu, Nnenna Ogbonna, Emily Okoroariri, Friday Ndukwe and Onyeka Ugwu.

Joined as respondents are the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State.

When the case was mentioned in court, the counsel representing the plaintiffs, Mr Ugo Ugwunnadi, told the court that the case was coming up for the first time.

He informed the court that he had only been served with the processes from the first respondent, the Attorney General of Lagos and that the second respondent, the commissioner of police, was yet to serve his process.

The counsel, therefore, asked the court to give parties a date for the hearing of the matter by which time lawyers involved would have perfected their processes.

The Counsel representing the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr Tayo Odupitan, told the court that he had filed a counter-affidavit, written address and an exhibit, all in response to the plaintiffs’ suit.

He, however, informed the court that the A-G Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, had indicated his intention to defend the suit personally.

Meanwhile, Counsel to the Commissioner of Police, Mr Sam Adebeshin, told the court that he was yet to regularise the processes on behalf of the second respondent.

After listening to all the parties, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the case to February 19 for further hearing.

Breach Of Fundamental Rights

In the suit, the plaintiffs want the court to declare that they, as Nigerian citizens, were entitled to their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

They are also seeking a declaration that their arrest and detention in various camps in Lagos and subsequent deportation to Anambra on July 24, 2013, for no offence, amounted to a serious breach of their fundamental rights.

The deportees also want the court to make an order mandating the respondents to tender a written apology to them by publishing same in three national newspapers continuously for 30 days, for unlawful and gross violation of their constitutional rights.

They also want an order, directing the LASG to re-integrate the applicants into Lagos State, and a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, and officers from further deporting or refusing them free entry into Lagos State.

Meanwhile the LASG, in its counter-affidavit, contends that the deportation was not borne out of malice, but out of genuine intention to re-unite the applicants with their families.

They further contend that the applicants were assisted by the government, to re-join their families, after pleading that they had no homes, relatives or businesses in Lagos State.

Cynthia Osokogwu Was Strangled To Death- Pathologist

Consultant Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, on Friday told a Lagos High Court in Ikeja that the late Cynthia Osokogu was strangulated by her killers.

Obafunwa was testifying at the resumed trial of four men allegedly involved in the death of the 25-year-old lady who was murdered at Cosmilla Hotel, Lakeview Estate, Festac Town, Lagos on July 22, 2012.

The defendants; Okwumo Nwabufo , Olisaeloka Ezike , Orji Osita and Ezike Nonso were charged to court by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Obafunwa, who is the Chief Medical Examiner of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, told the court presided over by Justice Olabisi Akinlade that he conducted autopsy on Osokogu’s body.

The pathologist, led in evidence by the Lagos State Attorney General, Mr Ade Ipaye, said their findings revealed that the deceased was gagged and choked by her killers.

“From our findings, the deceased was asphyxiated which means absence of oxygen supply to the body.

“That was the immediate cause of death. It was as a result of the blockage of her upper respiratory airways.

“This blockage was caused by the deceased being gagged and choked,” Obafunwa said.

He told the court that there were multiple bruises and abrasions in Osokogu’s body, adding that what appears to be bite marks were on the front of her two thighs.

Obafunwa also insisted that the injuries on the body of the deceased could not have been self-inflicted.

Meanwhile the court also admitted as exhibits, 15 photographs of the crime scene taken by one, Mr Lucky Enamelo, a professional photographer.

The judge dismissed the objections of the defence counsel and admitted the photographs as Exhibit P1 to PO.

Ipaye also called the manager of Cosmilla Hotel, Mr Victor Ugweke to testify before the court.

Ugweke said he was informed that a body was in Room C1 of the hotel by the receptionist after she opened the room with a master key he had given her.

He said he went to the FESTAC Police Station to report the incident, adding that the police later came and took the body to the Ikeja General Hospital.

The matter was adjourned till May 24 for continuation of trial.

Court Processes Stall Cynthia Osokogu’s Case

The arraignment of four suspected killers of Cynthia Osokogu, who was allegedly killed by friends she met on popular social networking site, Facebook was on Wednesday stalled because of objections raised by counsel to the defendants.

The six count charge of murder, stealing, possession of stolen property and conspiracy brought against the defendants at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja could not proceed as lawyers to the defendants told the court that they had not been properly served with the processes of the matter.

The suspects are Okwumo Nwabufo, Ezike Olisaeloka, Orji Osita and Ezike Nonso.

The prosecution team led by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos state, Mr Ade Ipaye admitted to the mix up in serving the processes to one of the defence counsel but promised to immediately sort out the issue.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General urged the court to grant a speedy trial as he reacted to the submission of the counsel to the second defendant, Mr Olukayode Dada who appealed that the trial should be postponed and his client granted bail to enable him continue his education at the Anambra state university.

The lawyer also argued that the case has received so much publicity and the position already taken by the press will not guarantee fair hearing for his client as press reports and public opinion would prejudice his trial.

In her response, presiding Judge; Justice Olabisi Akinlade said that murder is a serious offence and that the court is empowered to ensure ‘fair hearing in public within a reasonable time’.

She subsequently adjourned to Friday the 8 February for trial.

Fashola has no right to ban us on federal highways – Okada riders

A Lagos High Court has granted accelerated hearing into the suit filed by some commercial motorcycle operators,known as  okada riders, against the Lagos State Government for banning their operations on some federal highways in the state.

The suit filed by the commercial motorcycle operators under the aegis of the All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and workers Association (ANACOWA) want the court to declare Section 3(1) of the new Lagos Traffic Law, which prohibits the riding, driving or propelling of a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on the major highways in Lagos, as unconstitutional.

They further asked for a declaration that the defendants have no power ‘whatsoever’ to make any law to regulate traffic on any of the Federal Trunk or Highway Roads.

They argue that restricting their operations on the said roads would violate their rights to freedom of movement, guaranteed by Section 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

The defendants in the suit are the Lagos State Government, the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye.

Presiding Justice Aishat Opesanwo however dismissed an interlocutory application which they filed to restrain the government from implementing the new Lagos State Traffic Law.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr Bamidele Aturu, told the court that they were withdrawing their interlocutory application so that they could get an accelerated hearing of the main suit.

“We believe that there is a need for the court to urgently deal with this matter because it is in the interest of the generality of the populace”adding that “many of them (Okada riders) have been suffering from this draconian action of the government to restrict the motorcyclists from operating in federal high ways” stated Mr Aturu.

“We are therefore asking the court to strike out the application and grant us an accelerated hearing of the substantive suit”, he said.

In the main suit, the motorcyclists challenged the ban placed on them from plying 475 roads in the state.

Road rampage

However, the Attorney general of the State, Mr Ade Ipaye who is the third defendant and counsel to Lagos State Government, informed the court that the law was already being enforced in the state with effect from the 2nd of August 2012.

He noted that “it was in reaction to its enforcement that the claimants herein only on Monday October 22, 2012 went on rampage.”

The Attorney General also noted that the law enforcement agencies were not joined as defendants in the suit.

“They are not parties to this action and we cannot tell this honourable court that they will not do their duty in enforcing the law”, he said.

The court has however fixed the 16th of November for hearing of the substantive suit.