Insecurity: One Percent Budget For Defence Shows ‘We Are Not Serious’ – Ndume

 

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has faulted the N99.87 billion capital expenditure budgetary allocation for Ministry of Defence, stressing that the amount is less than one percent of the N10.33 trillion budget proposal for 2020 fiscal year.

Senator Ndume said that the country is in a war and if such ‘paltry sum’ is presented for the entire defence and not just the Army, it shows that ‘we are not serious’ about completely ending the insurgency war.

A National Assembly Joint Committee on the Army operations visited Theatre Commands in the North East last week to have a better insight as deliberations on the budget for the 2020 fiscal year begins.

The visit according to Senator Ndume, showed that the Army deserves more than what is being allocated in the 2020 budget, owing to the upgrade of equipment and kits for combating insurgents.

“We are in a war; when you are in this situation, and you are budgeting N10.3 trillion, and you are allocating less than 1 percent to defence, that does not show that we are serious about it, the defence, not the Army, is N100 billion.

“If you look at this and what our constitution says, in a budget of N10 trillion, more than half of it should secure the country because if we are not secured, the entire infrastructure, hospital and developments will not work.

“The only thing that our soldiers don’t have is the upgrade of their equipment’s; they should be well kitted; helmets, bulletproof, boots, uniform, rifles should be provided and you can’t do that with the paltry sum on N10 billion,” he added.

READ ALSO: Boko Haram Insurgency: We Lost Over 847 Soldiers From 2013 To Date, Says Ndume

On the issue of the humanitarian crisis in the Northeast, Senator Ndume explained that the insurgency has caused a surge in IDPs migrating to Monguno, being the safest place with a heavy military presence, and it is necessary for the government to put in frantic effort in allocating more funds.

“So the issue of the humanitarian crisis that follows the insurgency; right now we have a surge in the IDPs moving from Northern Borno to Monguno which is the safest, and that is putting so much pressure on the government.

“The international community have so far, requested from foreign donors the sum of $848 million. So far, they have donated $547 million, while the Nigerian government that this thing is directly affecting, is budgeting N38 billion for North East development and humanitarian crisis.”

Groups Protest At National Assembly Over Ndume’s Suspension

Groups Protest At National Assembly Over Ali Ndume's SuspensionThousands of protesters have besieged the National Assembly in Abuja, demanding the immediate reinstatement of the suspended Senator representing Borno south in the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume.

The protesters reportedly arrived at the National Assembly on Tuesday morning, with placards bearing inscriptions criticising the decision by the Senate to suspend Senator Ndume.

Protesters storm National Assembly over Ali Ndume’s suspension

The lawmakers last week voted to suspend Senator Ndume for masterminding the investigations into allegations of forgery against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and a Senator from Kogi State, Dino Melaye.

The decision to suspend Ndume was taken after the Senate Committee on Ethics absolved Dr Saraki of the allegations of importing a Range Rover SUV, without paying appropriate import duty, and attempting to clear the vehicle with forged papers.

Senator Melaye was also questioned over the allegation of claiming to have graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Buhari, Saraki Discuss National Issues

Bukola Saraki and Muhammadu Buhari meetPresident Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday met behind closed-door to discuss national issues.

After the meeting, Dr. Saraki told reporters that there was no crisis in the Senate over the removal of Senator Ali Ndume as Leader of the upper chamber.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the Senate in a letter to the Senate President on Tuesday announced the replacement of Senator Ndume with Senator Ahmed Lawan.

He said the institution was bigger than every Senator.

“There is no crisis in the National Assembly. Things like this aways happen. Everything is calm and fine,” he said.

Asked to react to comments in some quarters that Senator Ndume was sacrificed, he laughed and said: “do I look like someone that does things like that?”

On the purpose of his visit to the villa, Dr. Saraki said he held talks with the president to get the government going especially on the issues of budget.

“It is okay to always consult on national issues about getting the government going and the National Assembly moving.

“As you know, there is nothing as important for us now than the budget process and work we need to do on those areas,” the head of the National Assembly told reporters.

The meeting is coming a day after the National Assembly resumed plenary afer the yuletide break.

In the House of Representatives on Tuesday, the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, told the lawmakers that a critical area to focus on in 2017 was the nation’s economy which is in recession.

The lawmaker said: “as 2017 rolls by, we should expect great challenges once again but with renewed determination and faith that things shall surely get better with God on our side”.

He called the attention of the House to what he called the most critical and urgent task before them, saying “it is the pending 2017 Appropriation Bill”.

Senate Proposes New Budget Calendar

Senate, Budget CalendarNigeria’s Senate has proposed the adoption of a budget calendar that will begin with the submission of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) by the second week in July and end with the President signing the Appropriation Bill into law by the third week of December annually.

The new measure was contained in a report submitted to the Senate President Bukola Saraki, on Monday by the Senator Ali Ndume-led Technical Committee on Reforming the Budget Process in Nigeria.

The strategies, which also include the provision of laws on development plans by the Federal Government, are aimed at easy and timely preparation of the budget and its efficient implementation.

The measures propose a budget calendar to ensure that the President assents to the appropriations law by the third week of December while the MTEF is submitted in the second week of July as the first step in the budget process.

The Senate would also discuss at plenary, other reports such as amendments of the relevant sections of the Nigerian Constitution and extant laws as well as enactment of new laws to improve the country’s budgetary process and align it to international best practices.

Other key recommendations in the report submitted on Thursday, November 3 are the proposed provision of a legal backing for national development plans and enactment of organic budget law to fix a realistic budget calendar.

Sexual Harassment: Senate Sets 5-Year Jail Term And 5mln Naira Fine

senate-nigeriaThe Senate in Nigeria has adopted a five-year jail term and five million Naira fine as penalties for Sexual Harassment.

Lawmakers reached the decision while deliberating on the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill.

The bill also recommends expulsion or suspension for students whose claims of being sexually harassed by lecturers or educators are found to be false after investigations in court.

Addressing the Senate on Thursday before the decision was reached, Senator David Umaru, decried what he called rampant sexual harassment in Nigeria’s institution, saying it affects students psychologically.

Senator Umaru says the bill is appropriate and has elicited wide support from Senators, Stakeholders and Nigerians as a whole.

After his presentation the Senate moved to the committee of the whole for clause by clause consideration of the Report on Sexual Harassment.

During the consideration of the bill, Senator Eyinnanya Abaribe suggested that the title of the Sexual Harassment Bill be amended and not be limited to Tertiary Institutions alone.

But Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, did not support the call for title amendment, said that title was in order.

“Extant laws caters for harassment in elementary schools since they are under 18,” he highlighted.

For Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, five years jail punishment was not enough, as he proposed a seven-year jail term and 10 million Naira fine as punishment for sexual harassment.

Another Senator, Ali Ndume, had suggested that the penalty should be increased to seven years in jail, stressing that the the amount was only an attempt to stop harassment.

On his part, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce said: “Rape is the number one crime in Lagos. Harassment is a serious issue. It leads to rape. I propose 10 years”.

After deliberations, the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill, 2016 passed for Third Reading, with the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, giving his final words.

“I want to thank my colleagues and the Committee members for the milestone achieved on the Sexual Harassment Bill.

“This Bill will go a long way in protecting our younger ones from harm and serves as deterrent to others who indulge in this act.” he told the Senate.

CBN Governor Appears Before Senate Over Fall In Naira Value

senate on CBN governor, Godwin_EmefieleThe Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has appeared before the Senate to explain the continued fall in the value of the Naira.

Reporters were not allowed to cover the meeting as it was held behind closed doors on Tuesday.

The Senate, on Thursday, January 14, summoned Mr Emefiele after expressing concern that the continued crashing of the Naira against the dollar is worrisome and stressing that a decisive action must be taken about it.

A source told Channels Television that at the meeting, the CBN Governor explained to lawmakers why the apex bank stopped the sale of Forex to Bureau the Change agents.

Senate spokesman, who briefed reporters after the closed door meeting, said that Mr Emefiele gave an account of the performance of the Nigerian economy in the last one year.

The summon came on the heels of point of order raised by the the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume.

According to Senator Ndume, the matter was discussed with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as required by the Standing Rules of the Senate.

The Senate Leader said: “This is a matter of urgent national importance and it has to do with the continued fall of the Naira against the dollar.

“It is my considered opinion that we invite the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to come here and explain to us why it is so and what he is going to do about it”, he declared.

Nigeria’s Naira exchange rate is currently 310 Naira to a dolla.

Senate Investigates ‘Missing 2016 Budget’ Claim

BudgetThe Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges has begun investigation of claims that the 2016 budget is missing from the chamber.

This was disclosed to reporters by the Chairman of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, after Wednesday’s legislative proceedings in the National Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

While addressing reporters, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, also described as ‘untrue’, the claim that the budget was missing.

A federal lawmaker, Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, earlier at plenary, raised a point of order demanding that the Senate should look into media reports on the whereabouts of the 2016 budget.

After his observation, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, gave the assurance that the budget would be distributed to the lawmakers at the upper chamber on Thursday ahead of the debate on the financial plan on Tuesday, January 19.

While confusion edges the whereabouts of the 2016 budget in the Senate, the clerk of the lower chamber displayed the budget on the floor.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, also maintained that the budget was not removed from the House.

On Tuesday, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin,  said that there was no truth to insinuations that the 2016 budget document is missing.

He said that the claims may have been inspired by the initial insufficiency of the copies of the budget available to all the lawmakers.

“As far as I am concerned, that story does not hold water. We were expecting copies to be printed and sent to the National Assembly but there was a bit of delay.

“As at yesterday, I can confirm to you that the Appropriation Committee in the House received a lot of copies of the budget. By the time the Clerk counted it today, it was not sufficient to go round members.

“I spoke with the Minister of Planning earlier today [Tuesday] and he assured me that before the end of today he will deliver the remaining copies.

“For the soft copy I also reminded him and he sent it to me and I handed it over to the House,” he explained.

Honourable Jibrin said the rumour of missing budget may have been triggered by the delay in the production of more copies of the budget.

“You should realise that we have a new government in place and I think that there is little issue of communication gap and they are trying to get themselves settled. We should be able to excuse them and support the President wherever there is a bit of limitation from his own side,” he told Channels Television’s correspondent, Charles Eruka.

The 2016 national financial plan was presented before a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Becoming the first Nigerian President to personally carry out this task in recent years, Buhari explained that the 6.07 trillion Naira budget would focus on addressing youth unemployment and cater for the vulnerable as well as reiterated that Nigeria remains committed to diversification to build and reflate the economy.

PDP Senators’ Walkout Does Not Affect Legality Of Ministerial Confirmation – Ndume

WalkoutSenate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, has said that the decision of PDP senator to stage a walkout to protest the confirmation of former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi does not render the confirmation illegal.

He explained that the Senate session had a full attendance in the morning and formed a quorum when the meeting started, adding that the PDP senators decision was voluntary and would not affect the attendance on record.

He also added that the number of senators required to form a quorum was 33 while the APC senators had 48 members in the Senate. Therefore, despite the walk-out the Senate maintained a quorum.

He described the walk-out as an expression of feelings democratically, “I have the experience, I was one time the Minority Leader and I did that too. This happens in some democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, described the confirmation as a deliberate effort by the APC senators not to follow laid down rules.

“It was agreed in previous sittings that when a petition is made against any nominee and he is at the point of confirmation, we shall discuss the outcome of the petition.

“Majority of those who signed said that this particular case that concerns our brother is in the court and in normal circumstance it becomes sub judice; it is even in the Court of Appeal and we have to give an opportunity to the court to make a determination.

“We are not against the clearance of any nominee or Mr President because as senators we want the President to succeed but we also have to follow the rules, we have to make sure that Nigeria is a country of laws and not a country of impunity.

“That was the reason why we staged a little bit of walkout to protest the fact that we were going against our rules and we were more or less breaching a major aspect of legality,” Akpabio said.

Court Refuses To Grant Full Secret Trial For Ndume

NdumeA Federal High Court has refused to fully grant an application brought by the Federal Government seeking to conduct the trial of Senator Ali Ndume in secret.

Ndume, a senator representing Southern Borno Senatorial District is standing trial on terrorism charges.

Ruling on the application, Justice Gabriel Kolawole said that the application was not strong enough to be granted in full.

Justice Kolawole held that while the accused was entitled to fair hearing and fair trial, the state owed the responsibility of protecting the lives of prosecution witnesses during the trial.

He said that the application was caught between fair hearing/trial and state responsibility, thereby necessitating the court to strike a balance between the two ends.

He added that witnesses would be shielded under a special arrangement by the court but that they would not be masked.

Kolawole also said that only members of the press and parties in the suit would be allowed into the court room.

Ndume, who was alleged to be financing Boko Haram, is standing trial for allegedly failing to inform law enforcement agencies of the activities of the outlawed sect.

Justice Kolawole adjourned the case to November 11 and 12 to commence the trial.

Court to rule on evidence against Senator Ndume

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja will on December 14 decide whether or not to admit as evidence exhibits tendered against Senator Ali Ndume over his links to Boko Haram.

A forensic expert with the State Security Service (SSS), Aliyu Umar Musa, testified that the lawmaker had 73 telephone conversations with the convicted spokesperson of Boko Haram, Ali Konduga between the months of May and November 2011.

He also added that the lawmaker stored Mr Konduga’s mobile phone number as ‘Konduga’ with the initial Boko Haram.

The conversation which was  documented on three DVD plates is now being contested by Ndume’s lawyer, Mr Ricky Tarfa, who argued that the said evidence is a public document and should have been certified in line with the constitution and the rules of the court.

However counsel to the Federal Government, Thomspon Olatunde asked the court to disregard the objections raised by Mr Tarfa, as he admitted the evidence because it is not a public document since it was the findings of the forensic examiner, whose duty it to carry out investigation on the evidence.

 

Court to decide Ndume’s application to travel for Hajj on Tuesday

A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed Tuesday, 24 July to decide whether or not to grant Ali Ndume leave to travel to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj.

The serving senator who is facing trial for allegedly sponsoring the activities of Boko Haram had applied to the court to have his international passport released to him.

Coming some months after his bid to travel to Addis Ababa-Ethiopia for a Millenium Developmrnt Goal (MDG) conference was quashed by immigration officials. He again appeared before Justice Gabriel Kolawole seeking to have his traveling documents released to him in order to perform the lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

Counsel to the embattled senator, Segun Jolaawo, who held the brief of Ricky Tarfa,
argued that his client’s application will not be prejudice to the case while assuring that he will come back for his trial as soon as he returns

He however asked the court to take judicial notice of the fact that his client had returned his travelling document as soon as he was disallowed from going to Addis Ababa for the MDG conference.

Mr Jolaawo also reminded the court that the senator has not in any way flouted the condition of his bail and as such his motion on notice should be put into consideration.

But the prosecution, led by Sunday Mordi, who stood in for the Director of Public Prosecutor Olufumilayo Fatunde, opposed the application vehemently on grounds that it will jeopardize the ongoing trial of the senator.

Having listened to both sides Justice Kolawole adjourned the case to July 24 to rule on the motion.

 

 

Absence of Public Prosecutor, stalls Ndume’s application

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has given the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Olufunmilayo Fatunde a 72-hour ultimatum to respond to a Motion on Notice filed by Senator Ali Ndume.

Senator is standing trial for allegedly sponsoring the activities of fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram in the northern part of the country.

Presiding Judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole who reluctantly acknowledged a letter detailing the reasons why the DPP could not attend Tuesday’s session, expressed dissatisfaction at the way the prosecution is handling the case.

At the last sitting of the court, the DPP’s brief was held by a junior lawyer who could not proceed to argue a motion on notice filed by the defendant on the need to have his traveling documents released to him in order to attend the lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia and also do a medical checkup.

When the trial resumed on Tuesday, Fatunde sent a letter to the court over her inability to attend the court session and as such the trial of the Senator could not proceed and his Motion on Notice could not be heard since there has not been any reply from the prosecution.

Justice Kolawole thereafter directed the DPP to within 72 hours file a reply to the Motion on Notice.

The court has now fixed July 16th to hear the Motion on Notice while adjourning the trial of the Senator to October 24th, 31st and November 1st.