[ Masterweb Reports: Olalekan Waheed Adigun reports ] - One of the most recent additions to the seeming endless lists of diction in Nigerian political dictionary is “Budget padding”. A friend of mine on Facebook posted a joke about some ladies who “pad” their bodies just to look good. He wondered whether there was anything in Nigeria that is not “padded”, including its budget!
Listening to several Television programs on the topic of budget padding last week, two things crossed my mind. First, the operational word “should” presupposes that there is a moral burden on the part of who will do the investigation, not necessarily, according to the law. In this regard, one recalls the recent Brexit fiasco which shook British political establishment leading to the resignation of the erstwhile Prime Minister (PM), David Cameron. Save for the predictable British political culture which “mandates” a political leader to “resign” after losing a major political battle, nothing else really compels Cameron in any relevant Act of Parliament or written document(s) to do so. The word, “should” in this regard only meant the PM need to follow the part of honour by resigning after a vote of “no confidence” passed on him after the Brits chose to leave the European Union (EU) in the referendum. The question of who should investigate the National Assembly in this regard appears to me like we a political culture in Nigeria that places moral, not legal burden on an institution to perform its tasks even without been “ordered” to do so!
The second thing that struck me on this matter is the question of law or its technicality(ies). There are those who argue citing things like “separation of powers” “Parliamentary immunity” or “independence of the Legislature” and the likes. Those who argue in this line have maintained citing relevant sections of the Constitution that “the National Assembly shall determine its own rules and procedures.” They also maintain that since the National Assembly is an independent organ of government, it should be a self-regulating institution having its own “immunity”. These ones argue that by inviting external bodies to investigate an issue involving the National Assembly is to compromise the independence of the institution.
At this point, I think it will be good to put issues in their proper perspectives. Before doing this, we will need to be clear on some things. What constitute(s) matters that are purely parliamentary? What are those matters that are criminal even when committed in the legislature? To what extent is the legislature in the case the National Assembly independent?
Recently, the House of Representatives is engulfed in budget padding. A former Chairman of the House appropriations committee, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, has accused the speaker, Hon. Yakub Dogara of padding of the N6.06 trillion in 2016 budget and has announced that he would be visiting Nigeria’s major anti-corruption agencies. This move by Jubrin to invite external agencies to investigate the matter has generated heated debates in public discourses as to whether these “external agencies” have such power to investigate matters that are purely parliamentary.
One recalls that President Buhari refused to sign the 2016 Appropriation Bill because of his suspicion that some extraneous items not included in the original draft have found their way into the document. Little did many know that “padding” and the “padders” were in full action only waiting for the official seal of authority which the president will not want to give in to such idiocy!
As these debates went on, I have heard it said by one of the lawyers who as a guest panelist on a national television station speaking on this topic noted that agencies like the Directorate of State Services (DSS) and similar bodies had no business investigating the legislature. He notes that as parliamentarians, they are immune from arrest or prosecution because of “parliamentary immunity”. Oh my God!
I am not a lawyer but I know this man must have either been poorly educated or he is just doing his best to look silly. If there is anything Parliamentary Immunity I know, as the name connotes, is that the immunity covers only “offences” or speeches committed during parliamentary debates or committee meetings. This has little to do with criminal prosecutions!
The most important thing in applying parliamentary immunity is whether the legislator’s actions fall within the “sphere of legitimate legislative activity.” There are actions a legislator may take, even when s/he is engaging in activities related to s/he legislative office, that do not fall within this sphere. If an action is not a legitimate legislative activity, the legislator is not protected by legislative immunity. Nothing in granting parliamentary immunity to National Assembly members prevent them from arrests save from, performing their legislative duties.
When we say, “legislative duties” we mean: actions that a legislator takes during formal legislative proceedings, such as chairing a committee, debating, making motions, and voting; legislative committee investigations; impeachment proceedings; Enacting and enforcing legislative rules and others. Also, a legislator is “immune” from arrest on his way to, or from a parliamentary proceeding; committee meeting or any other official legislative function(s) or for whatever he said or has done on the floor of the parliament. This is how far the issue of parliamentary immunity goes.
If we take budget padding as criminal, just like forgery, our perspectives may become clearer. Let us agree a little with former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo stated during a visit to the Presidential Villa recently that the emerging revelation on the padding of the 2016 budget goes to confirm his earlier position that lawmakers are “armed robbers and rogues.”
Obasanjo in issuing this opinion is probably speaking from his experience working with the National Assembly for 8 years as president which makes his opinion to be somewhat trustworthy.
As to whether the DSS has the power to investigate the issue, Femi Falana said: “Since the padding of the national budget is a straight forward case of economic crime which is not concerned with the internal security of the nation the SSS should not play into the soiled hands of the criminal suspects in the House of Representatives as they may later turn round to challenge the legal validity of any criminal charge arising from a faulty investigation report.” (The Punch, 31 July, 2016).
While we agree with the Human Right Activist that the question of budget padding is not a security issue so must not involve the DSS, we must be conscious of the key words “economic crime” which Falana used. Since the 1999 Constitution appear to be largely silent on who should “investigate” the National Assembly on matters of this nature not covered by “parliamentary immunity” and if we agree that budget padding is an “economic crime” can the agency responsible for prosecuting “economic crime” the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) then be invited to do its job?
Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN ( Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com ) is a political risk analyst and independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria.
*Photo Caption - Nigeria Senate Seal
[ Masterweb Reports ] - President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday urged Nigerians to promote factors and issues that will unite them and foster national integration. The president made the call at the late Gen. Hassan Usman-Katsina memorial lecture held at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Hall in Kaduna.
Represented by the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahaman Danbazau, the president said national integration will enable Nigerians to realise the power of unity among various people living in a country.
He said the theme of the lecture: “Challenges of the National Integration and the Survival of Democracy in Nigeria” is not only apt but topical for this period of our nation’s challenges.
“Our history tells us that Nigeria is an amalgamation of many nationality relating from Lord Lugard which have since 1914 been on the journey towards nation building,” he said.
He said one of the key challenges of our nation that has been identified is the slow integration of the diverse ethnic nationality in the country, especially in terms of unity of purpose.
He stressed the need for increased participation in governance by all Nigerians in order to strengthen the nation’s democracy.
The President described late Gen. Usman Katsina as a man of eminent virtues.
He said that the late Katsina was a generous leader, who had mentored many generations of officers and men in the country.
“He is a nationalist, who gave all his life for the unity and progress of our country. He lived a life full of positive impact in the country.
Earlier, Chairman of the occasion, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, described late Usman Katsina as a model that should be emulated by all.
He said late Katsina had contributed to the development of the country by playing his role honourably as a good professional soldier and administrator.
I testify to his loyalty to the country and leadership.
“As his boss, I can say without fear that he served his people, state or region and the country as a hero.
“ Katrina was a loyal and committed officer, who served his people and was called the Governor of Governors because he became a governor that educated six other governors.
He urged the family to emulate their great father.
*Photo Caption - President Muhammadu Buhari
[ Masterweb Reports ] - The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says the Federal Government will improve the economic and operational viability of the nation’s international airports to encourage the international airlines.
This is contained in a statement by Mr James Odaudu, Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs, Office of the Minister of State, Aviation, Ministry of Transportation, in Abuja on Sunday.
Sirika made the promises while receiving the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil in his office.
He promised that government would give consideration to requests by serious foreign airlines for increased flight frequencies as long as the nation’s interests were not compromised.
According to him, the nation’s relationship with foreign airlines will be based strictly on the Bilateral Air Services Agreements with the Airline’s home governments.
He informed the ambassador of government’s determination to revamp the aviation sector through the concessioning of its airports, beginning with "the big four" in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
``The concession, he said, was to address issues of infrastructure, and ensure world class maintenance.
He commended the cordial relationship that exists between Nigeria and Turkey, and condemned the recent coup attempt in Turkey, describing it as undesirable and anti-development.
The Turkish Ambassador told the minister that he was in the ministry to express his country’s gratitude for the excellent relationship between the two countries in aviation sector.
Cakil on behalf Turkish Airlines requested for more frequencies in airline’s operations in Nigeria considering its population and air traffic volume.
He also commended the Nigerian government for the show of support for his country during its trying periods, especially the recent attempt by subversive elements to derail the course of democratic governance.
In another development, the has promised to do whatever it takes to make domestic airlines more competitive with their foreign counterparts in the airlift of Nigerian Christian pilgrims.
Sirika made the promise when he reacted to a request by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, Dr Tor Uja, during a courtesy visit.
He said "the primary purpose of the ministry is to promote the development of the sector and supporting local airlines to operate in the best possible environment."
He also promised to objectively look into the request for reduction of charges at the airport with a view to seeing how those charges could be adjusted to assist pilgrimage operations.
According to him, Nigeria is blessed to be one of the leading religious countries in the world.
He promised to visit the NCPC to see how his ministry could complement its operations.
Earlier, Uja called on the Federal Government to give adequate support to the local airlines to enable it compete with its foreign counterparts in the airlift of Nigerian Christian pilgrims.
Uja said that the situation where foreign airlines account for almost 100 per cent of pilgrimage operations did not portray the nation well.
"The foreign airlines determine the pricing and operational modalities and we are helpless because the local airlines are not strong enough to compete with them," he said.
The executive secretary also pleaded with the minister to look at how it could address the challenges of high charges that had skyrocketed the overall cost of performing the pilgrimage.
He suggested a reduction of those charge by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies by at least 50 per cent.
Uja commended the minister for his commitment to developing the nation’s aviation industry and urged him to be the first Minister of Aviation to visit the commission to see how it operates. (NAN)
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety Reports ] - (Onitsha Nigeria, 27th July 2016)-Recall that the leadership of this organization, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), had on Sunday, 17th of July 2016, issued part one of the statement titled above. Below is the link to the first part of the statement:http://www.intersociety-ng.org/component/k2/item/163-born-before-computer-and-graft-oriented-policies-injustices-against-noun-and-other-public-institutions-in-nigeria.
The issuance of the statement followed a BBC (born before computer) and institutional graft powered persecution of the law graduates and the law faculty of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, by a federal government establishment, called Council for Legal Education or LCE. NOUN has also undergone similar persecution in recent past in the hands of a number of government oversight or regulatory bodies including the National Universities Commission, NUC; leading to its triumphant victory against the NUC and others after resilient struggle.
The National Open University of Nigeria, apart from being one of the existing 28 federal universities in Nigeria accredited by the NUC, offering courses and programs recognized and accredited by the NUC; is a unique or Specialist University with a mixture of student-facilitator/lecturer (face-to-face) and distance learning education built on advanced Information Computer Technology, ICT. That is to say that NOUN is not an analogue university but an ICT powered or digital university. It is also an integral part of the global open universities’ system and one of over 60 accredited and recognized open universities around the world. NOUN shares and exchanges researches and publications with other open universities including the UK Open University.
NOUN, like other open universities including the UK Open University (one of the ten best universities in the world), were originally created as “typewriter and correspondence or post office communication universities”, but have undergone series of restructuring and fully factored into ICT powered Global Information and Communication System, otherwise called “Global Village” or “ICT Revolution”. The phrase “Global Village”, in turn, originated from the concept of “New World” developed in 1500s during expeditions or territorial discoveries by the now western world. The areas named “New World” are now called “the Americas” (North America, South America and the USA). The concept of “Global Village” was coined and invented by a Briton, by name, Marshal McLuhan in 1500s, who defined “Global Village” as “a village cleared by a high level of information technology”. In 1989, a period of over 480 years after it was invented, and on the eve of collapse of the cold war, the phrase: “global village” was dusted up, operationally defined and adopted as a global language and use by the United Nations.
Today, the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN is proudly an integral part of this ground-breaking concept and invention. Sadly, the likes of the Council for Legal Education (LCE) and other key federal policy regulatory and implementation bodies have chosen to remain backward and static. They are so myopic, crude and unchanging to the extent of insisting illogically on destroying one of the country’s greatest gifts in recent times. It must be stated without any iota of fear that two viruses are hugely responsible for the wickedness of the authorities of the Council for Legal Education in Nigeria against the Law Faculty of the National Open University of Nigeria and its graduates and undergraduates as well. These two viruses are institutional graft and born-before-computer viruses.
The role of institutional graft as one of the two deadly viruses massively deployed in the ongoing persecution of NOUN’s law faculty and its graduates is clearly understandable in that NOUN is not an extortionist university capable of amassing tens or hundreds of millions of naira for the purpose of “meeting the standards and specifications” of the likes of LCE. Till date, we are not aware of any service or approval in any government institution in Nigeria that can be obtained on merit without “rubbing the palms of the relevant personnel or officials”. Nigerians and members of the international community are at this juncture invited to take a clinical and critical look at the activities of officers of the Nigerian security forces on Nigerian roads particularly the Nigeria Police Force and the Custom Service. As a matter of fact, the best way to assess Gen Muhammadu Buhari’s anti corruption policy is to visit Nigeria roads and observe roadblocks manned by the Nigeria Police Force and others. That is to say that the level of extortion and other corrupt conducts going on at the roadblocks across Nigeria is shocking and alarming.
In all these, the authorities of the LCE cannot extricate themselves from the ravaging institutional virus under complaint. We are aware that accreditation of courses and professional programs by the likes of NUC and the LCE are very capital intensive in Nigeria. This is known to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the country. The question now is: what is responsible for “capital intensive” nature of accrediting these courses and professional programs in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions? The express answer to it is institutional graft! Also why should a legal practitioner in Nigeria spend through his or her nose to be made a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN? The answer, too, is institutional graft!
In 2012/13 academic session, the law undergraduates of the NOUN participated in the National Mute Court Competition and emerged first out of other competitors from law faculties of 123 other accredited universities; leading to their representation of Nigeria in the International Mute Court Competition in the USA. Many, if not most of the undergraduates of NOUN are holders of university degrees from other universities. They include lawyers, professors, engineers, Catholic Priests, Nuns and Sisters, Pentecostal Pastors, Anglican Priests, Muslim Clerics, leading Nollywood actors and actresses, human rights activists, journalists, judges and magistrates, doctorate and masters’ degree holders, senior security officers from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, Security& Civil Defense Corps, Custom Service, Immigration Service, Prisons Service, Road Safety Corps; DSS, NIA, to mention but a few. NOUN is also responsible for the production of first indigenous Criminologists and Graduates of Security Studies in Nigeria.
It, therefore, saddens our heart as why the public policy makers and regulators in Nigeria have virally chosen to always set the country backward and refused to grow and change. Why on earth should accreditations and recognitions be given by the likes of NUC and LCE to courses and professional programs in other universities in Nigeria including “bushy universities and glorified secondary schools”; while a specialist and ICT powered university like NOUN is deliberately schemed out?
NOUN, on the other hand, is also victimized by BBC (born before computer) virus afflicting the headship or authorities of the LCE and others. It is important to state here that jurisprudence and legal practice in Nigeria have remained locomotive and typewriter based. Electronic Jurisprudence and ICT powered legal practice have eluded Nigeria. As we speak, a wide debate is ongoing in the Nigerian Bar Association between born before computer lawyers and ICT age and compliant lawyers whether or not to use electronic voting method in its forthcoming 2016 NBA general elections.
The debate is also crisis prone. Below is the link to the referenced debate, captured by TheNigerianLawyer.Com: http://thenigerialawyer.com/2016-nba-election-and-lawyers-view-on-new-e-voting-method/. Though NBA has acquired a website, but most of its BBC lawyer-members are routinely admitted in hospital beds whenever they are called upon to visit the NBA website for updates. Most of these BBC legal practitioners still maintain or operate dead or dormant email addresses or do not have any till date. As a matter of fact, most of private legal practitioners and members of the Bench and law reforms authorities have refused to go digital or enrolled for ICT classes. Many of them spend part of their useful times chasing cockroaches, mice and maggots in their law firms filled with heaps of dusty files and court papers.
Extensive investigations carried out by this organization, following the ongoing persecution of NOUN and its law graduates by the authorities of the LCE, clearly indicate that while many of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt based legal practitioners are ICT compliant, most of their colleagues in Onitsha, Awka, Aba, Kaduna, Kano, Umuahia, Owerri, Enugu, Abakiliki and other cities in North-Central, Northwest, Northeast, South-south and Southeast are chronic victims of born before computer virus. That is to say that Southwest zone parades the largest number of ICT compliant or friendly legal practitioners in Nigeria till date. Alarmingly, 80% of members of the Bench, if not more, are also chronic victims of born before computer virus.
Professional pride and arrogance are also identified as the reason behind the affliction of the named BBC legal activists by the virus above mentioned. In the United States of America, for instance, 60% of graduates of its over 5,700 accredited universities and university-colleges obtain their education through ICT powered distance learning. The Board Chairman of this organization, once informed that during their NGO Management course tour in the USA’s Catholic Regis University (established in 1877), the head of its Public Administration was found schooling as a student in another department of the same University and one of the professor-lecturers of the School was also found teaching his students from far aware Jakarta in Indonesia, through internet powered PowerPoint. But in Nigeria, reverse is chronically the case, which explains why the ongoing persecution under complaint has thickened.
The age-going injustice against officers of the Nigerian Traffic Warden Service (TWS) is another area worth mentioning. The TWS has institutionally been enslaved by successive authorities of the Nigeria Police Force since 1975. Through Decree No.21 of 1975, the TWS was annexed and colonized by the NPF till date and incorporated into the NPF Act & Regulations. The worse of it all is code and administrative ranking and promotion stagnancy whereby a TWS officer can never rise in rank statutorily beyond equivalent of Police Inspector or Senior Traffic Warder, whereas his or her course-mate in the NPF can rise to the rank of Commissioner or even IGP. Officers of the TWS, till date, are not allowed headship of the Police Traffic Warden department. A fire-brigade approach was made in 2002 by federal authorities whereby two ranks of Assistant Superintendent of Traffic (AST) and Deputy Superintendent of Traffic (DST) were added, yet the age-long injustice has remained unaddressed.
We conclusively say: enough of this chronic institutional backwardness, injustice and persecution in Nigeria by public policy regulators! The authorities of the LCE and the NUC must rid themselves of obvious BBC virus and embrace ICT revolution. As a matter of fact, they must go digital!
The LCE must reverse its infamous or wicked embargo on NOUN and its law graduates and set up a committee or body of experts knowledgeable or skilled in ICT to visit the University (NOUN) so as to carefully study its methodologies including its e-library and distance learning; quality of its law books, legal researches and course facilitation or tutorials, etc. Its description of NOUN as “a part-time or correspondence university”, which is despicable and condemnable, should be subjected to expert-investigation to fully understand how the programs in the University are truly run and tenured. The LCE can further take a trip to the UK Open University for the purpose of similar study and compare its findings with those obtained from NOUN.
On the other hand, the authorities of the Federal Government of Nigeria must end the age-long injustice against the officers of the TWS by repealing the ignoble and infamous TWS Decree or Act 21 of 1975 and absorbing the officers of the TWS into near-moribund “Police Motor Traffic Department of the Nigeria Police Force”. It is either the Government opts for this option or creates full autonomy for the TWS. In case, the Buhari administration chooses the former, all forms of promotion and posting discriminations and discrepancies must be eliminated.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Barr Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Mobile Line: +2348034186332
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Abdulrazaq Magaji reports ] - In more ways than one, the death of General Sani Abacha robbed Nigerians of the opportunity of consigning the hot air over marginalization, more imagined than real, to the back seat of our national discourse. Reference here is to the stillborn 1995 constitution, a product of the 1994/1995 National Constitutional Conference which contained some of the most revolutionary proclamations capable of restructuring the country. In a manner of speaking, the Abacha draft remains the best constitution Nigeria never had.
For very obvious reasons, it was imperative for General Abdulsalami Abubakar to throw out any document that had the tag of his predecessor, General Abacha, on it. Without any doubt, General Abacha who was nudged into snatching power by the same people who turned round to become his implacable adversaries was a divisive leader while he was in control. When, therefore, he died after holding the country together for five impossible years, it was convenient for his stop-gap successor to distance himself as much as possible as a way of healing festering wounds and bringing anti-Abacha elements into the fold.
Expectedly, the 1995 draft constitution which was to be promulgated in 1998, became the first casualty as it was hastily thrown out by the (late) Justice Niki Tobi committee that was set up to explore the way forward. In its place, the Niki Tobi Committee recommended some amendments to the 1979 constitution which it claimed ‘had been tried and tested and, therefore, provides a better point of departure in the quest for constitutionalism in Nigeria.’ The June 12 crowd could not have adduced better reasons than the ones given by the Niki Tobi Committee for the presumptuous action.
The Niki Tobi Committee had compelling reasons to slam the 1995 draft constitution. The committee claimed Nigerian ‘raised compelling reservations’ probably because, coming into existence under the watch of General Abacha, the draft was the ‘product of a disputed legitimacy’ and therefore ‘suffered a crisis of identity in the public consciousness’. Nigerians knew the Committee simply pandered to the interest of NADECO or National Democratic Coalition, a highly organized group that was a constant pain in the neck of the Abacha regime. With due apologies, the Committee’s action was like throwing away the baby with the bathwater!
Discount his humongous loot trapped in banks in Europe and the most enduring legacies of General Abacha are the six geo-political zones and the six states, one each from the six geo-political zones, created by his administration in 1996. In any case, these two events were meant to be the building blocks for the fundamental changes envisaged by the 1995 draft constitution which made provision for six principal offices of five-year single-term duration that were to rotate among the six zones. Aside the offices of president, vice president, senate president and house speaker, there was provision for the offices of prime minister and deputy.
Had death not abridged Abacha’s dream in 1998 or, better still, had political exigencies not prevailed on General Abdulsalami into throwing away the baby with the bathwater a year later, chances are, by 2016, Nigeria would have experimented with the Abacha formula for more than half of the ‘thirty-year transition period’ envisaged by the 1995 draft constitution. The 30-year transition period would have been used to promote national cohesion and integration, after which merit and competence will replace rotation in determining who gets what.
In practical terms, and in strict adherence to the principle of rotation envisaged by the Abacha document, at no point in time would any zone have complained of marginalization since there was always going to be one ‘juicy’ office to be vied for by each of the six zones every five years. What this means is that, by last year the fourth of the six zones would have produced a president for the country. Within thirty years from 1998 or1999, each of the six geopolitical zones would have produced a president, a vice president, prime minister, deputy prime minister, president of the Senate and speaker of the House of Representatives for a single term of five-year duration.
Another unique angle to the Abacha document is its capacity to eliminate the incumbency factor and the abuses connected to it. Since the draft envisaged its replication at state levels, the president and other principal officers as well as state governors and stand disqualified from standing election for the same office during their five-year single term incumbency!
As a matter of fact, the Abacha document was so comprehensive and so prophetic that it anticipated the untenable and wrong-headed agitation for Biafra and the hollow talk of marginalization that comes with it especially since the south east and Goodluck Jonathan lost out last year. Now, can and, should Nigerians continue to play the ostrich and allow lawlessness to dominate the political scene? Can we afford to allow virtual bandits to dictate how the country is run? Are we to allow rambunctious few to continue to stampede us and dominate national discourse?
Of course, the talk of dissolving Nigeria is hot air that lacks substance. Yes, there is need to restructure which should not be mistaken for advocating a breakup as some are so lazy to believe. We need to restructure in a way every section of the country will, at all times, be appropriately represented. The Abacha draft proclaims rotation for a thirty-year transition period. We need to have a way out of incumbency and its problems. The documents suggest a five-year single-term for public office.
We can restructure in a way lawmaking will be effective and inexpensive. The Abacha draft suggests part-time lawmaking!
Equally important is Nigeria should restructure in a way that treasury looters will not be shielded for prosecution. It may interest Nigerians and their elected representatives that there is no proclamation for the much-abused immunity clause for any public office holder in the Abacha draft! Not even the president, his deputy and governors and their deputies as is the case now or, for principal officers of the National Assembly as is being proposed by larceny-inclined lawmakers.
We need to take another look at the Abacha document. Problem is, the way things are, the current National Assembly does not appear to have the presence of mind for any serious legislative undertaking. Otherwise, members will not display their bankruptcy by contemplating immunity for public office holders. If they are not a lazy bunch, why should lawmakers subject themselves to a winding and tortuous constitutional amendment process that only seek to shield people from prosecution? Except those who see public office as avenue to loot, how many people have need for immunity, anyway?
Yet, in the midst of the rot at the National Assembly, there are upright and straight-thinking who feel genuinely scandalized by the puerility of their tainted colleagues. It is to this group of lawmakers that Nigerians must direct their appeal for a genuine restructuring devoid of needless bloodletting. If, for obvious reasons, jejune members of the National Assembly balk at the idea, as to be widely expected, there will always be the recourse to a referendum open to Nigerians. It’s all about Nigeria!
Abdulrazaq Magaji ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) reports from Abuja (FCT), Nigeria.
*Photo Caption - Late General Sani Abacha
[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. Peregrino Brimah reports ] - As a Retentionist status nation, Nigeria retains the death penalty. The punishment for the massacre of over 350 Nigerians in two days, and the subsequent secret burial of these victims with many not medically confirmed dead, can only be capital: death.
This is what is ordained in the Holy Bible, this is what obtains in the Holy Quran and this is what obtains according to the Nigerian constitution and Nigerian Armed Forces Act.
As the Kaduna Judicial Panel report is being edited for release, one can only expect such a recommendation for an expedient death sentence to all found guilty, in the report and subsequent Whitepaper under the freshly commissioned nine-member Adamu Mohammed Mansur led panel.
The Nigerian constitution recommends the death penalty for acts of treason, homicide and armed robbery.
The Nigerian Armed Forces Act
Part XII, 106, under "Murder," defines:
A person subject to service law under this Act who, without justification or excuse, unlawfully
kills another person whether or not subject to service law under this Act when-
(a) he intends to cause the death of the person killed or that of any other person; or
(b) he intends to do the person killed or to any other person some grievous harm; or
(c) death is caused by means of an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose, where
the act is of a nature that is likely to endanger human life,
is guilty of murder and liable, on conviction by a court-martial, to suffer death.
Further for the cases of incendiarism during the Decsmber 12th to 14th Zaria massacre, part 111. of theNigerian Armed Forces Act under caption "Arson" defines:
"A person subject to service law under this Act who wilfully or maliciously sets fire-
(a) to a public building, dwelling house, an office or any structure whatsoever, movable or
immovable, whether completed or not, occupied or not; oris guilty of arson and liable, on conviction by a court-martial, to imprisonment for life.
Recently the Nigerian army sentenced several officers to death for the offense of mutiny which falls into the capital offenses category according to the Armed Forces Act.
Many of the Zaria victims remain burned beyond recognition from the incendiarism of the two days of the massacre, and in serious anguish and suffering. The pain to the victims and their families and orphaned children is beyond words.
The massacre of the hundreds of innocent Nigerians in Zaria last December has been described as the record state-perpetrator act of terror and genocide in recent global history.
While Nigeria's army chief Tukur Yusuf Buratai, defended the actions of the army and general's in charge in the two days of the December massacre and claimed the army acted according to its rules of engagement, RoE, further claiming in his deposition to the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, NHRC, that only seven (7) minority Muslims of the Islamic movement were killed in the fracas, the Kaduna panel of inquiry received evidence from the Kaduna state government of the army submitting over 350 bodies for secret burial, thereby finding the army chief complicit and in attempt to obstruct and subvert justice. The recommendations of the panel in lieu of this are yet to be revealed as the full report is yet to be made public.
For the massacre of hundreds of people, Nigerians expect justice to sanctify and purify the land, and death sentences are requisite justice for such an unwarranted and evil genocide.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah ( Email: drbrimah@ENDS.ng ) reports.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Ikechukwu Enyiagu reports ] - Hope is easy to have; it is less spiritually and mentally strenuous than the demand of faith. However, its burden is greater than that of justice, rights and faith. Every democratic society is, by law, governed by justice and rights and, sometimes, when political expectations mix with faith, it is only because, in all that man plans, there often are rooms for the unforeseen. Therefore, governments that are pro-people often create abundant room to contain exigencies. This informs one of the reasons why every State has the military and the police; they do not want to be taken unawares if, in any eventuality, crisis comes up.
Nigeria as a county, I daresay, now lies on the threshold of hope and hopelessness and, therefore, truly deserves this ‘change’ more than anything else: change in its political foundation and mindset. Come to think of it, why should there not be an aggressive and revolutionary change in our political system when, for decades, it’s become blatantly clear to all and sundry that we cannot get anywhere as a county under this political status quo? Our leaders are being unfair to the history of this country and to posterity with their continuous denial of what is and what eventually will be.
I was, as other thinkers are, compelled by the state of things to take an even closer look into our joint political business called Nigeria, and I have come to a conclusion that, from the book of history, posterity may judge me the same way or, maybe even harder than the so-called today’s political class, for doing absolutely nothing to lend positive voice to change in my time. Therefore, I am hereby looking into the so-called Nigeria Unity School system and its Federal Character manifestation in political appointments.
It is my understanding that the so-called Unity School system in Nigeria was put in place by the then military dictator of Nigeria, Yakubu Gowon. According to him, the main objective for the creation of these unity schools was to bring people of diverse tribe and tongues in Nigeria together in a unifying spirit. Gowon, it is said, bought the idea of unity schools when he paid a personal visit to the Federal Government College, Sokoto in 1973 and observed the atmosphere of unity and cordiality among the students regardless of ethnic or religious background. Suffice it to say that his decision to create the unity schools came after the genocide which his government carried out against the Igbo from 19667-1970. In his understanding, compelling, or rather, setting mechanisms for people of these clearly divergent and divisive ethnic nationalities to study under one roof devoid of Nigeria’s true war history in what he called “Unity Schools” was a sure means of containing further dissension or demand for fair play amongst future Nigerians. To him, it would surely prevent Igbo children whose families were unjustly wasted in the war from asking further questions. It is worthy of note, also, that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), a government body which compels the country's graduates into a compulsory one year national service, came about by this very Gowon’s decision to write off the events of the civil war as if they never happened and as if the genocide which he supervised never took place. This very man who killed millions of Nigerians also killed the Nigeria school system in the process of trying to cover up his sins and that of the government. Not minding that scores of youth corpers have died for this selfish vision, we will shortly see how his co-called quota system has so far fostered unity and produced a truly united and happy Nigeria.
Cut-Off Marks for Entrance into Federal Unity Schools for All the 36 States in Nigeria (Including the Federal Capital Territory)
Abia – Male (130) Female (130)
Anambra – Male (139) Female (139)
Ebonyi – Male (112) Female (112)
Enugu – Male (134) Female (134)
Imo – Male (138) Female (138)
Akwa-Ibom – Male (123) Female (123)
Bayelsa – Male (72) Female (72)
Cross-Rivers – Male (97) Female (97)
Delta – Male (131) Female (131)
Edo – Male (127) Female (127)
Rivers – Male (118) Female (118)
Ekiti – Male (119) Female (119)
Kwara – Male (123) Female (123)
Lagos – Male (133) Female(133)
Ogun – Male (131) Female (131)
Ondo – Male (126) Female (126)
Osun – Male (127) Female (127)
Oyo – Male (127) Female (127)
Adamawa – Male (62) Female (62)
Bauchi – Male (35) Female (35)
Benue – Male (111) Female (111)
Borno – Male (45) Female (45)
Gombe – Male (58) Female (58)
Jigawa – Male (44) Female (44)
Kaduna – Male (91) Female (91)
Kano – Male (67) Female (67)
Kastina – Male (60) Female (60)
Kebbi – Male (9) Female (20)
Kogi – Male (119) Female (119)
Nassarawa – Male (58) Female (58)
Niger – Male (93) Female (93)
Plateau – Male (97) Female (97)
Sokoto – Male (9) Female (13)
Taraba – Male (3) Female (11)
Yobe – Male (2) Female (27)
Zamfara – Male (4) Female (2)
FCT Abuja – Male (90) Female (90).
The above list has been in circulation for a while and there has not been any other list which countered it. Therefore, to all, this represents the idea of a unity school in Nigeria and how students in each state qualify for admission. In the words of Prof. Abdulrashid Garba, the Registrar, National Examination Council (NECO) (http://guardian.ng/news/neco-registrar-explains-disparity-in-cut-off-marks-for-unity-schools/), “Performances vary from state to state…It is so because the cut-off marks for such disadvantaged states are usually lower…These school are unity colleges which means you must take along all parts of the country.” Well, it takes only an enemy of unity to see anything uniting in this setup – not even minding that the country uses one curriculum and all students sit for one WASSE. Nevertheless, let us leave this for a moment and look at how Prof. Abdulrashid Garba’s claims reflect on Federal “Character” Appointments and how Gowon’s vision for Nigeria and the Igbo has fared so far.
Nigeria Security Appointments
Fire Service North
An expose written by Abdulrahman Abdulmalik in Premium Time of August 28, 2015 (http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/189117-outrage-grows-across-nigeria-as-buharis-lopsided-appointments-continue.html) will give you a detailed clue. I do not want to go into other appointments which unashamedly ridicled the so-called Federal Character. However, the latest ambassadorial list where states like Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Ondo and Sokoto were completely ignored or said to not have qualified people for the seat (which, by the way, was also seeded to the North) leaves a very sour taste to the political tongue.
It is said that education is the security of the future, if education is the security, therefore, and gives you the means, and if appointments are principally made from academic qualifications before other considerations, why has the North then taken over all security positions when, according to Unity School’s shameless board, it clearly shows that students from the north are mostly cajoled through school and, mostly and probably, given honorary certificates in place of due certificates awarded students from other regions – especially those from the South East?
How come those from educationally ‘very poor; states suddenly come up as more qualified to handle everything regarding the security and future of Nigeria than those who have been proven to have all it takes to steer this country aright?
Clearly, we are in for a terrible and inevitable future as Nigerians unless some form of political revolution is urgently carried out. This, I see, rest squarely of those from the South. Since we have done things in a particular way and we have always failed, is not time enough for us to do things differently? Sadly, it appears that the same North which has remained academically on the ground has been the same people championing the Nigeria cause. Is it a rocket science, therefore, why our locomotion has remained One step forward, two steps back? A stitch in time, they wisely say, saves nine. I believe that a president who truly stands for change for the betterment of all knows exactly what to do. However, like we use to say in Igbo, “Uzu na-amaghi akpu egbe, lee egbe anya n’odu.” Nigeria has drifted into a place where justice, rights and even faith seem dead and where hope has become the costliest of all commodities. This needs an immediate attention.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports ] - The Federal Government has cancelled its plan to build a massive film village in Kano State following concerns raised on social media and by Muslim clerics over the immorality the village could spawn.
More than N3 billion ($10m) was budgeted for the project as part of Nigeria’s efforts to improve the Hausa language film industry known as Kannywood and also create jobs. The film village was projected to create over three thousand jobs in addition to promoting the Hausa language.
Muslims clerics and Muslims on social media argued it would promote immorality, calling the federal government to scrap the project.
Editors Notes: Film Village will not work in the North just as the hosting of the 52nd edition of Miss World Beauty Pageant in 'Northern' Abuja did not work in 2002. The event was moved to London due to religious riots in nearby city of Kaduna that killed over 200 people. The bloody clashes between Muslims and Christians arose from what some Moslems branded blasphemous article in a 'Christian' ThisDay newspaper about the Miss World event.
ThisDay on Saturday November 16, 202 carried an article by Isioma Daniel in which he wrote that Prophet Muhammad would probably have approved of the Miss World competition. The Sultan of Sokoto called for peace and calm on national television, but the federal Minister for Abuja burst into tears in front of the cameras, crying that Daniel has blasphemed the prophet. (Nigeria for you!!). Muslim radicals rioted in Kaduna and other parts of the North burning properties and killing Christians.
Christian groups took revenge killing Moslems and set fire to Muslim homes, companies and mosques. In the evening of November 22, the organizers of the Miss World Pageant decided to move the event to London for fear of the safety of participants. The crisis lasted from November 20 to 23 before it was quelled by security forces. FILM VILLAGE WILL NOT WORK IN THE NORTH - NIGERIA SHOULD USE THE FUNDS FOR KANO FILM VILLAGE TO SET UP NOLLYWOOD FILM VILLAGE IN SOUTH-SOUTH or SOUTH-EAST.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] -The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties& the Rule of Law (Intersociety) believes strongly that injustice and graft are the greatest threats facing the promotion, advancement, preservation, protection and enforcement of Human Rights in Nigeria or any part thereof. The effects of injustice and graft breed insecurity, which in turn, give birth to general underdevelopment in Nigeria and one of the consequences of underdevelopment in Nigeria is the entrenched culture of born-before-computer among the country’s public policy makers and the managers of its education management and regulatory institutions.
The culture of born-before-computer is understood as pride and egoistic mentality of Nigeria’s policy makers and implementers to stick to old brigade approach and refusal to move in tandem with current social realities such as global village culture or ICT revolution. On the other hand, the effects of graft or corruption on public office holders including public education regulators and managers in Nigeria are alarmingly riotous and mentally terminal; which is why it is immortally said that corruption or graft kills entrepreneurship; destroys values; ruins economy and deadens mental faculties of their possessors. It is also said immortally that a corrupt judge is worst than a malevolent mad man running amok with a sharp dagger in a crowded market place and that when a professor is corrupt, he or she becomes a professorial moron and moves from professorial reasoning and creativity to professorial quackery all the time.
The existing policy and graft oriented injustices against some public establishments in Nigeria is basketful. Two of the victims gravely affected are the National Open University of Nigeria or NOUN and the Nigerian Traffic Warden Service (TWS) under the age-long enslavement of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). While NOUN and its law faculty is a victim of institutional graft and policy injustice powered by crudity and Hobbesian jurisprudence; the TWS is a victim of policing tyranny and enslavement.
For the records, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) is one of the existing federal universities in Nigeria, established by the National Assembly in 1983 through an Act. Originally established as a correspondence or part-time university and modelled after the UK Open University (one of the ten best universities in the world; also the university with largest student population in the world); NOUN, likewise the UK Open University, was resuscitated and upgraded, offering a mixture of fulltime and distance learning programs using advanced ICT and well established electronic and manual libraries. NOUN’s programs or courses or degrees are approved and regularly supervised by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
NOUN was resuscitated in 2004 by the then Presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo to provide for close and distance learning education for all Nigerians particularly those in working class category. It is a major beneficiary of ICT powered mixture of face-to-face (student-teacher or facilitator) tertiary education and distance learning education programs. NOUN also uses dual examination methods of POP or Pen and Paper and e-exams or NOUN’s ICT powered and controlled computer examination. The use of POP is to expose and empower its students on manual writing skills and techniques while its e-exams are to develop its students in the use and knowledge of computer and its applications. The e-exams are mandatory for its 100-200 Level students while its POP is mandatory for its 300-400-500 Level students.
There is uniformed pre exams quiz called TMAs or tutor marked assignments, which constitute 30% of the total marks. The TMAs are purely computer and internet based done off classroom and composed of 80 objective questions per course material under TMA1, TMA2, TMA3 and TMA4; meaning that if a student registers for eight courses in a semester exam, he or she must attempt a total of 640 objective questions within a stipulated time frame and answers to TMAs are automatically or electronically affixed and graded; likewise the e-exams. In e-exams, students are automatically graded once they are done with 150 questions and click on the computer button: submit. The duration for the e-exams is strictly timed and regulated by computers under NOUN exams invigilators. This means that if a student is lazy and fails to study hard to be able to read and comprehend all his or her course materials cover to cover, he or she has automatically failed his or her exams and earned a license to a second missionary journey. Many tertiary institutions in Nigeria have borrowed this exams method from NOUN till date.
NOUN also has flexibility policy under its work and learn slogan. This has nothing to do with part-time; rather it offers the students opportunities to combine their work with education at NOUN at their own pace. It further means that a student of NOUN doing a four- year program can graduate at the completion of his or her course-loads and project in four years after mandatorily passing all the courses. A post graduate student can complete his or her study in one year, yet another can spend three years or more. Another student running a four-year program can as well graduate in seven years pending when his or her course-loads are completed and mandatorily passed. Whether a student of NOUN spends seven years or more in a four-year program, he or she must pay all compulsory fees every semester. Every kobo paid at NOUN is electronically captured and students can save money into their portals and use it for other semesters. NOUN certificates are issued at source at the convocation arenas provided the recipient’s academic records including all his or her program courses and project are certified or cleared by the University.
Course materials of NOUN are strictly written by NOUN in simplest grammars so as to enable distance students to read, understand, study and comprehend. All the examinable courses of NOUN are manually and electronically accessible. Its electronic or soft copies are down-loadable from NOUN’s e-portal. The University has the best e-library in Nigeria and borrows a lot from researches of other Open Universities such as the National Open University of UK or the UK Open University. It is still on record that the UK Open University has the largest university-student population in the world with over 180,000 and it is also one of the world’s top universities in the world universities ranking. There are at least 60 accredited Open Universities around the world including Open Universities of Hong Kong, Australia, China, Ghana, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Netherlands, Spain, Sudan, Libya, Tanzania, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Philippines.
Further, at the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, zero room is provided for graft and immorality such as sorting, inflation of course-marks, exams cheating or malpractice, cultism, vindictiveness, sexual commodity and harassment and malicious degrading and failing of students by lecturers or facilitators. A student at NOUN is virtually on his or her own as well as architect of his or her own success or failure. NOUN students are strictly advised and tutored on the type of environment conducive to study and encouraged to read and study after midnight and under other noise-free environments. Computer, use of English and study skills courses are compulsory for all undergraduate and post graduate students of NOUN.
NOUN does not offer courses not accredited by the NUC or run programs not approved by same. The least facilitator or lecturer at NOUN is a master’s degree holder and NOUN facilitators (lecturers) manning their tutorial classes in its 37 Study Centers across Nigeria are hired from leading conventional universities and thoroughly blended on the methodologies of the University. Two most striking things about NOUN are zero culture of graft and meritorious academic pursuit and environment.
An undergraduate student of Criminology & Security Studies at NOUN, for instance, must cover and pass at least 53-55 courses including his or her project before he can be graduated. To graduate with LLB degree at NOUN from its faculty of law, a student must study, complete and pass at least 65 courses in addition to his or her project. A master’s degree student of Peace & Conflict Studies at NOUN, for instance, must pass at least 15 courses excluding thesis before he or she can be graduated.
But in conventional universities in Nigeria, only 60 courses or less are required to become a graduate of law, while only six of them are required to become a holder of Master of Laws in areas such as International Human Rights, Arbitration & Family Law. At NOUN, to pass course material to C, B or A grade, a student must read and study the course material cover to cover for at least three times: general reading, TMA reading and revision for exams. This means that a student of NOUN must have read or covered at least 80% of each of his or her course material before the exams. It is suicidal to register and take an unread course material at NOUN exams.
But in conventional universities, course materials are highly unregulated and exposed to quackery and serial extortion. Students with five carry-overs at conventional universities, for instance, can easily be upgraded and credited with better or best grades as case may be provided they can trade off enough cash or sex commodity for such crooked grades. At NOUN, any student with such carry-overs is instantly in hot soup and left with two options of either dropping out of NOUN or retaking the entire exams. NOUN course materials must be read and understood by students page to page to be able to write and pass them in the exams as well as to do and pass their attached Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs) and impart the knowledge and exposure originally intended.
But at conventional universities, the ability of students to patronize (buy) their lecturers’ junks or handouts or plagiarized notes, automatically earns them 25% of the total marks for each of the exam courses. Expo is also common in conventional universities in Nigeria whereby students are told areas to concentrate in their course materials for their exams. As a result, the students’ ability to read and study their course materials widely or cover to cover is roundly diminished or lost. The end-result is production of half-baked graduates flooding the streets of Nigeria and its unemployment sector.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Barr Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Mobile Line: +2348034186332
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: x reports ] - President Muhammadu Buhari has opened up on his administration's economic management team. In his reply to those accusing him of not having an economic management team, President Buhari said he already had one headed by his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, quoted Buhari as saying this in an exclusive interview he (the president) granted a magazine, The Interview."
The vice president's spokesman made the excerpts from the interview available to State House correspondents Sunday.
Buhari explained that he excluded the private sector players from the National Economic Management Team (NEMT) in order to prevent them from steering government policies to suit their own "narrow interests."
The president said while everyone would be listened to, his government was averse to making private sector individuals members of the economic management team.
Buhari was quoted as saying: "We will listen to everybody, but we are averse to economic teams whose private sector members frequently steer government policy to suit their own narrow interests rather than the over-all national interest."
Asked if he thought he needed an economic management having been criticised for not having one, Buhari responded: "What do they mean by team? The vice president heads our economic management team.
"You have a finance minister, a budget and planning minister, a minister for industry, trade and investments, a governor of the Central Bank, a national economic adviser and others. Yet, some still ask for a team. I don't know how they define the word team."
The vice president's spokesman recalled that the Presidency had disclosed several times that an economic management team exists and meets at least once a week.
He said the team played a leading role in the budgeting process and designed the strategic implementation document once the fiscal document was passed and signed into law.
He said though Buhari's administration was averse to interested private sector members, its economic team regularly consulted with different representatives of the private sector and other stakeholders.
President Buhari was also quoted as unveiling his wish list in the interview thus: "One, we will truly change the way we do things in Nigeria. Therein lies the future of our country as a great entity. Two, a fully diversified Nigerian economy no longer dependent on oil only. Three, a Nigeria where every Naira that comes into the treasury is used for the good of the people, particularly the ordinary people."
*Photo Caption - President Muhammadu Buhari