Obsolete Curriculum Causing Low Quality Of Engineering Products – Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari on Nigeria's engineering productsPresident Muhammadu Buhari has identified the absence of up to date curriculum as the major cause of the low quality of engineering products in Nigeria.

The President made the observation on Tuesday while speaking at an occasion organised by professional engineers in Nigeria held in Akure, the capital of Ondo State.

‘A Wide Gap’

Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, President Buhari revealed that the obsolete curriculum had created a wide gap between engineers trained in Nigeria and those trained abroad.

He implored professional engineers in Nigeria to work together with the various relevant stakeholders towards ‎improving the practice of engineering in Nigeria.

He also called for the rebuilding of the engineering curriculum to meet current global demands.

On his part, the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, emphasised the negative trend in which most of the capital investments in Nigeria come from financial products while actual industry products have declined.

He insisted that it was the political economy of an era that drives development, noting that there is the need to pay attention to the development of local industries.

In an interview with Channels Television, the Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Adamu and a professor in the field of engineering who was onetime Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Professor Faborode gave some solutions to the challenges confronting the development of engineering education and practice in Nigeria‎.

The theme of the ‎conference is “Embracing the future: improving the quality of Engineering education and practice in Nigeria”.

Slain Evangelist: FG Assures On Freedom To Practice Faith

bomb victimsThe Federal Government on Saturday promised to ensure the right of every Nigerian to worship and practice his or her faith in the country.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, said this during the funeral service for Deaconess Mojisola Olawale who was murdered while evangelizing in Kubwa, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He also promised that the federal government will ensure that the perpetrators of the heinous crime face justice.

Born on the July 23, she was buried on her birthday 42 years later, Deaconess Mojisola Olawale is considered by many here as a hero, a Christian who died at her post.

Lawyer Says Constituency Project Is Unconstitutional

constituency projectA legal practitioner, Dr Tunji Abayomi, says that the execution of constituency project by members of the National Assembly is unconstitutional.

There have been debates over the recent revelation by the federal government that constituency projects usually embarked upon by federal lawmakers might not be implementable in the 2016 budget.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal has explained that this is because of a sharp drop in revenue by over 60% but this has not gone down well with the National Assembly.

However, Mr Abayomi is of the view that this explanation should not have been the response of the SGF but rather stating clearly that embarking on constituency projects is unconstitutional.

He stated that the reason behind the idea of constituency project is corruption and it has “nothing to do with development”.

“There is nothing like that in any legislative house anywhere in the world,” he argued, adding that it also never existed in past democratic governments in the country.

“We must understand that this appropriation in the National Assembly is the greatest corrupt enterprise that this nation faces.

“What do they use it for? Town hall, clinics and all sorts of ridiculous projects that have nothing to do with the development of the country. That is why they are fighting so hard for it.”

He said that the job of the legislature is to make laws and not to execute projects and the Nigerian Constitution is clear on this.

FG May Not Fully Implement 2016 Budget – SGF

2016 BudgetThe Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, has said that the federal government may not fully implement the 2016 budget, owing to a sharp drop in revenue by over 60%.

The SGF gave the revelations when he appeared before a joint senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions and that of appropriation and finance.

He was there to defend his comments in an interview he granted to one of the national dailies that the federal government may not implement constituency projects in the 2016 budget.

He blamed the development on the activities of militants in the Niger Delta region.

He said that the oil benchmark of the federal government has been drastically affected by activities of militants, adding that the country was producing about 800,000 barrels per day.

Some members of the committee insisted that the provision of the constituency allowance would go a long way in providing basic amenities for Nigerians.

Senate Summons SGF Over Comments On Constituency Project Allowance

Senate, SGF, Constituency Project AllowanceSenate has summoned the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, over his comments on the withdrawal of constituency project allowance for federal lawmakers.

The resolve was made after the legislators debated a motion raised by a representative from Edo State, Senator Matthew Urehogide, on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The matter which came under matters of urgent national importance at the floor of the Senate was viewed by lawmakers as an attempt to stop the provision of the dividends of democracy for members of their constituents.

They argued that the funds were already captured in the 2016 Budget and needed no further debate.

A senator from Ekiti South, Biodun Olujimi, gave his view on the issue and urged public officers to speak with caution.

However, another lawmaker from Kebbi North, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, noted that the SGF should not be blamed.

After much deliberations on the matter, the Senate summoned Mr Lawal to appear before its Joint Committee on Ethics, Budget and Appropriations.

The upper house directed its committee to get back to the Senate with its report within a week.

House Of Reps Seeks Unbiased Allocation Of Constituency Projects

Yakubu Dogara, Constituency ProjectsThe House of Representatives is seeking more liberal and equitable ways of distributing constituency projects across Nigeria.



The Speaker of the House, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, made the call on Monday at the one-day Political Representation and Constituency Intervention Summit in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

He said that legislators have been disadvantaged in the implementation of constituency projects.

The Speaker further stated that funding was often made available to projects sited at the constituencies of those in the executive arm of government at the expense of the legislators.

On his part, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, condemned the manner at which funds meant for constituency projects were abused in the past.

In his reaction, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, urged the lawmakers to decide on a framework that would ensure that constituency projects were not viewed as individual lawmaker’s project.

It is a conference of both Federal and state lawmakers to brainstorm on the best ways to attract and implement constituency projects.

It is hoped that the resolutions from the conference would strengthen the legal and institutional framework for effective management of the projects.

NLC, FG Resume Talks On Petrol Price Hike

labour-union-Federal-government-meetingThe Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have agreed to set up a 16-man committee to resolve the issues surrounding their disagreement on the recent hike in the pump price of petrol.

This forms the outcome of a meeting between both parties which took place on Wednesday in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in Abuja.

He also announced the constitution of a board for the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency

Present at the meeting were the SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who was a former labour leader.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, led the team from labour.

Mr Wabba told reporters that the labour union and the government were working on a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

He promised that labour would continue to engage the government on better working conditions for Nigerian workers

The Minister of Labour and Productivity, who is to chair the 16-man committee, pledged the commitment of the government to addressing the issues that led to the strike.

Governor Oshiomhole also threw his weight behind the Ayuba Wabba-led NLC.

 

The government had earlier insisted that until the NLC called off its strike, there would be no further negotiations after both parties had failed to reach an agreement at their meeting on May 17.

After few days of the strike, the NLC on Sunday called off the indefinite strike it embarked upon to protest the fuel price hike, a condition the Federal Government gave for resumption of talks with labour.

The Federal Government had on May 11 increase the price band of Premium Motor Spirit popularly referred to as petrol from 86.50 Naira to 145 Naira.

Announcing the increase, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said that the decision was taken to address the scarcity of the product that had lingered for months due to difficulty in getting foreign exchange for importation of the product.

Nigeria’s local refineries have not met the nation’s petrol need, as they produce below their capacity.

After the increase, the labour union described it as insensitive, declaring its readiness to resist the increase.

Days after, the NLC started an indefinite strike aimed at forcing the government to revert to the old price of 86.50 Naira, but the government said the strike was illegal, as it had secured a court injunction stopping the labour union from embarking on the indefinite strike.

Saraki’s Trial: Defence Counsel Drills Prosecution Witness, Michael Wetkas

Saraki, Michael WetkasThe trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki over alleged false declaration of assets at the CCT continued on Tuesday with the cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Michael Wetkas, by the defence.

This was after the tribunal Chairman ruled in favour of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki that the defence have a right to conduct their defence in the manner it suits them and the tribunal is bound to allow the defence use every legal instrument at its disposal to conduct its case.

The prosecutor urged the tribunal to compel the defence to stick to only one counsel rather than “change counsels every day” to make the trial tidy.

However, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro says that argument of the prosecutor was absurd in law because the defence, having announced all of his counsels is entitled to use any of them for the justice of the case.

The tribunal asked the prosecution to be patient and allow the defence defend its client to its best but noted that the tribunal can draw their attention if they go out of the bounds of the law.

During cross-examination, one of the defence counsels, Mr Paul Ilokoro, asked the witness if he had ever seen the original copy of the exhibits he presented before the tribunal.

The witness, who led the EFCC team of investigators who worked on Mr. Saraki’s assets declaration forms, Mr Michael Wetkas said that the documents were with the CCB and that he was only furnished with other copies.

“At a point we were asked to work with officials of the CCB.  In the course of our investigations, there is no how you will investigate economic and financial crime that assets will not be involved.

“So normally in the course of our investigations, we asked persons under investigation to fill assets declaration forms provided by the Commission itself.

Mr Micheal Wetkas then added that this is so almost in all cases and that in the instant case, the asset declaration form he tendered was the one provided by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

When asked if he had seen the original copy of the asset declaring form he tendered, he said he had always worked with the certified true copy given to him by the investigating team members from CCB.

However, when asked again if he had ever sighted the original, he said that he had seen it during investigation and when asked why the original were furnished to team and not the court, he said that he did not demand for it and he only used it for sighting.

He further said that the certified true copy serves the same purpose as the original.

When asked if in the course of investigation whether there were several original or just one, he said that the normal thing is to have just one original of a document.

The defence counsel then recalled a claim made by the prosecution witness that Dr. Saraki had 1.5 billion Naira in his account shortly before he became Kwara State Governor in 2003 and demanded for a recalculation of the figures as stated in Appendix 7A of Exhibit 1.

But the prosecution counsel objected that the recalculation was unnecessary since Mr Wetkas was the same person who presented those figures in the first place.

The defence counsel, Mr. Ilokoro, responded, “My lord, as you can see, the documents were dumped for the press in order to scandalise my client. It is obvious they have no coherent figures to prove false assets declaration.”

When probed further, Mr Wetkas also confirmed to the defence counsel that the stamp used to confirm the completion of assets verification documents after their investigation did not carry a date.

When asked if his evidence was intended for the tribunal to see the defendant as someone who was not a man of means, Mr Wetkas answered in the negative.

 

Alleged False Declaration Of Assets: Saraki’s Trial Continues

Saraki, Senate President, CCTThe trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Abubakar Saraki, over alleged false assets declaration has continued at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The Chairman of the tribunal and the other members arrived while the Senate President in company of some lawmakers and well-wishers were already seated.

At the commencement of trial, the prosecutor urged the tribunal to compel the defence to stick to only one counsel rather than “change counsels every day” to make the trial tidy.

However, one of the counsels to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Ilokoro said that the argument of the prosecutor was absurd in law because the defence, having announced all of his counsels, is entitled to use any of them for the justice of the case.

He concluded by saying that the request of the prosecutor was only to waste the time of the court but the prosecutor insisted that only one person can cross-examine the witness.

However, reading Section 36 Subsection 6 of the constitution, the counsel to Saraki pointed out that the law enables the defendant to defend himself with legal practitioners.

In his ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal said that the position of the Defence was right.

Justice Umar ruled that the defence has a right to conduct its defence in the manner it suits it and the tribunal is bound to allow the defence use every legal instrument at its disposal to conduct its case.

However, the tribunal can draw their attention if they go out of the bounds of the law.

He asked the prosecution to be patient and allow the defence defend its client to its best.

At the last hearing on Thursday April 28, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar had ruled and accepted an amended 16-count charge filed by the prosecution against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

This prompted counsel to the Senate President to take a fresh plea on the charges being raised. Dr. Bukola Saraki then pleaded not guilty to the amended 16-count charges of alleged false declaration of asset filed against him.

The former charge was filed on October 18, 2015 and Prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, asked the court to accept the new charges, dated April 27, 2016 as the case against the Senate President.

The Senate President was first charged in September 2015 for alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets.

Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, had earlier in the day also dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking Umar’s withdrawal from his trial, holding that the application lacked merit.

Saraki Pleads Not Guilty To Amended Charges

Senate PresidentThe senate president, doctor Bukola saraki has pleaded not guilty to an Amended sixteen count charges of alleged false declaration of asset filed against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The amended charges, which are coming more than 7 months after the commencement of his trial, replaces the thirteen count charge initially preferred against him.

Three of the charges among other things, accused the Senate President of failing to declare ownership of an American Express card account.

The two charges read, “That you on or about September 16, 2013 within the jurisdiction of this honorable tribunal did make a false declaration in the asset declaration form for public officers which you filled and submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau upon assumption of office as the Governor of kwara State in the year 2003 by your failure to declare your leasehold interest in number 42, Remi Fani-kayode street, Ikeja, Lagos, which you acquired through your company, Skyview Properties Limited from first Finance Trust Limited on December 12, 1996 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(1)(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. CAP. C15, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraph 11(1) (2), I fifth schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the fifth schedule to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”, it read

“That you between June 2011 and October 2013, within the jurisdiction of this honorable tribunal, did receive monthly salaries or emoluments as governor of kwara state and at the same time, from the federal government as a senator of the federal republic of Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 6(a) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. CAP. C15, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraph 2(a), Part I of the, fifth schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and tribunal act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the fifth schedule to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”

The Code of Conduct Tribunal, ruled and accepted an amended the 16-count charge filed by the prosecution against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki despite objection from the defence counsel.

This came up just after the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking Umar’s withdrawal from his trial, holding that the application lacks absolute merit.

Cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, by the defence counsel was about to begin when the prosecution asked to withdraw the former charge against the Senate President and requested the leave of the court to enable him read the amended charges to the Senate President.

The former charge was filed on October 18, 2015 and Mr Jacobs asked the court to accept the new charges, dated April 27, 2016 as the case against the Senate President.

According to him, the fresh charges are necessitated by the evidence to be given and the facts in them.

Responding to the application, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro, said that relying on Section 216, sub section 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the business of amending a charge is at the discretion of the tribunal.

“The point we make is that the discretion can only be exercised based on facts before the tribunal and there is no such application before the tribunal.

“So it should be filed and we can reply to it, particularly since we are cross examining based on each of the counts and we should also be given an opportunity to react,” he said.

He further said that an amendment is not a matter of force, but at the discretion of the court.

He argued further that the position of the prosecution that the fresh charges are necessitated by facts raised in its witness’ testimony needs to be proven as it cannot just be announced from bar or orally.

He noted that he was not opposed to the withdrawal of the first charges filed but has “a problem with the one he is applying to replace it with”.

“For us to be able to say yes or no we need the particulars that show the facts.”

The prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, in his response, said that the only issue to determine is whether Section 216 requires a formal application before the prosecution can amend its charges.

He submitted that there is no provision for that requirement but instead it says whenever the prosecution wants to amend at any time before judgment, he should do so and draw the attention of the court to it but ensure that it is read out to the understanding of the accused.

This he said is according to Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal agreed with the prosecution that there is no condition precedent for the charge to be amended.

He held that it is automatic and straightforward, therefore the prosecution needs not give any reason provided it is done before judgment.

CCT Accepts Amended 16 Count Charge Against Saraki

SarakiThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar has ruled and accepted an amended 16 count charge filed by the prosecution against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

This prompted counsel to the Senate President to take a fresh plea on the charges being raised.

The trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for alleged  false asset declaration, continued on Thursday with the prosecution asking to replace the former charge against the Senate President with new charges.

This came up just after the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking Umar’s withdrawal from his trial, holding that the application lacks absolute merit.

Cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, by the defence counsel was about to begin when the prosecution asked to withdraw the former charge against the Senate President and requested the leave of the court to enable him read the amended charges to the Senate President.

The former charge was filed on October 18, 2015 and Mr Jacobs asked the court to accept the new charges, dated April 27, 2016 as the case against the Senate President.

According to him, the fresh charges are necessitated by the evidence to be given and the facts in them.

Responding to the application, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro, said that relying on Section 216, sub section 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the business of amending a charge is at the discretion of the tribunal.

“The point we make is that the discretion can only be exercised based on facts before the tribunal and there is no such application before the tribunal.

“So it should be filed and we can reply to it, particularly since we are cross examining based on each of the counts and we should also be given an opportunity to react,” he said.

He further said that an amendment is not a matter of force, but at the discretion of the court.

He argued further that the position of the prosecution that the fresh charges are necessitated by facts raised in its witness’ testimony needs to be proven as it cannot just be announced from bar or orally.

He noted that he was not opposed to the withdrawal of the first charges filed but has “a problem with the one he is applying to replace it with”.

“For us to be able to say yes or no we need the particulars that show the facts.”

The prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, in his response, said that the only issue to determine is whether Section 216 requires a formal application before the prosecution can amend its charges.

He submitted that there is no provision for that requirement but instead it says whenever the prosecution wants to amend at any time before judgment, he should do so and draw the attention of the court to it but ensure that it is read out to the understanding of the accused.

This he said is according to Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal agreed with the prosecution that there is no condition precedent for the charge to be amended.

He held that it is automatic and straightforward, therefore the prosecution needs not give any reason provided it is done before judgment.

In the meantime, the cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, has begun and according to the defence counsel that will be on count one.

Saraki’s Trial: CCT Chairman Dismisses Application Seeking His Disqualification

CCT ChairmanThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal has dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking his withdrawal from Saraki’s trial at the tribunal, holding that the application lacks merit.

In his ruling, Justice Danladi Umar said that the Attorney-General of the Federation has no powers to investigate any person. It is only the security and law enforcement agencies that have that power and it is only when they have concluded their investigation that the Attorney-General can prosecute.

Justice Umar said that in the instant case, the EFCC which carried out the investigation of the Chairman of the CCT has come out to say that it has no case against the Chairman.

The letter referred to by the defence was an interim report which was made to the Attorney-General in 2014 and that a further correspondence by the anti-graft agency indicated clearly that the Chairman has been cleared because there was no sufficient evidence against him.

He also said that the EFCC is not answerable to the Attorney-General in the cause of performing its constitutional duty as the position by the defence that only the Attorney-General can clear the CCT Chairman is misconceived.

He explained that only the EFCC which investigated the Chairman can clear him, and this they have done.

Finally, he added that it is to be noted that the letter of June 2015 supersedes that of March 5, 2014.

Therefore, the “tribunal holds that the application lacks absolute merit and is hereby dismissed in its entirety”.

The Application

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, had fixed Thursday, April 28 for ruling on the Senate President’s application and then continuation of the cross examination.

This was after the counsel to the Senate President, Mr Raphael Oluyede, on Wednesday told the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, that he lacked moral justification to preside over his client’s trial on an allegation of false declaration of asset.

He requested that he should disqualify himself from his trial.

SarakiMr Oluyede, during the hearing, insisted that Mr Danladi was still under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the same agency that allegedly filed the criminal charges against him.

He alleged that it was obvious that the said investigation was used as a bait by the EFCC to get Mr Danladi to do its bidding.

He, therefore, asked the Chairman to excuse himself from the case, in the interest of justice and fair hearing.

Objecting the motion, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, asked the Tribunal to dismiss the motion, claiming it lacked merit.

He accused the Senate President of harassment, citing a bill before the Senate attempting to amend the Act that established the CCT and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Mr Jacobs also described the issues raised in the motion as matters of sentiment which had no place in law.

He also accused the Senate President and his team of predicating the motion on the wrong assumption that the EFCC was the one trying the Senate President when it was the Federal Government.

To this end, he asked that the motion be discountenanced.