Category Archives: LEGISLATIVE ACTION
Bills, Resolutions, Laws, Major Statements by Principal officers
On 15 February, the Senate in Abuja, confirmed the appointment of Mr Ibrahim Lamorde as chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
President Goodluck Jonathan had, on 23 November 2011, appointed Lamorde to head the anti-graft agency. The appointment followed Jonathan’s sack of Mrs Farida Waziri as the commission’s chairperson, for undisclosed reasons.
Lamorde had been heading the agency in an acting capacity since then.
The affected governors are Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Ibrahim Idris (Kogi) and Magatakada Wamakko (Sokoto). They are all members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In a unanimous decision, a 7-man panel of justices of the apex court chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, ruled that the affected governors had exceeded the four-year tenure stipulated in Section 180(2) of the 1999 constitution.
The judgment is in response to an appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Adamawa State, retired Brig Gen Buba Marwa, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The appellants had challenged the decision of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which upheld the earlier decision of a Federal High Court extending the tenures of the five governors beyond 29 May 2011. The two lower courts had ruled that the tenures of the governors started to run from when they took their later oaths of office, following their victory in re-run elections, after their initial elections had been nullified.
In setting aside the judgments of the two lower courts, the Supreme Court held that the tenures of the governors started to count from the time they took their oaths of office after emerging winners in their respective state governorship elections in 2007 and not from when they took their second oaths of office after emerging winners of the re-run elections.
Following the judgment, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, issued a statement directing Speakers in the five states affected to take over and preside in acting capacity until fresh polls are conducted and new governors emerge.
On 23 January, the Senate President, Chief David Mark, indicated that the National Assembly (federal parliament) may review and strengthen Nigeria’s anti-terrorism law, towards fighting terrorism in the country more effectively.
The Senate President stated this when he led a group of federal lawmakers on a visit to Kano, the commercial nerve centre of northern Nigeria scarred by multiple bomb and gun attacks on Friday 20 January. While the police said 185 people died in the attacks, local newspapers, quoting hospital sources, put the figure around 250. The militant Islamist group, widely known as Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
A statement from the Senate President’s office quoted Mark as saying: “We will do all within our powers to ensure that we don’t have a repeat of this anywhere in our country. If there is anything we, in the National Assembly, can do in terms of taking a second look at the anti-terrorism Act, we will go ahead and do it. We will give maximum legislative and legal support, so that those who are involved are dealt with”.
The existing anti-terrorism legislation – the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 – was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan eight months ago, precisely on 3 June 2011, after it had been passed by Senate on 17 February and also by the House of Representatives on 22 February 2011.
The Act establishes measures for the prevention, prohibition and combating of terrorist acts as well as the financing of terrorism. It “also provides for the effective implementation of the Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism as well as the Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and prescribes penalties for the violation of its provisions”. The penalties for offenders include a 20-year jail term and the death sentence in some circumstances.
On 4 January, the Senate President, Chief David Mark, said the challenges which Nigeria is currently facing are normal for any nation and that the country is not in crisis.
The Senate President was speaking with journalists in Uga, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, during a visit to Chief Andy Uba. Uba had been in the Senate since May 2011, representing the Anambra South senatoral district; but he was sacked by the Court of Appeal in Enugu recently, following an appeal by the All Progressives Grand Alliance’s candidate in the election, Chief Chuma Nzeribe. The court ruled that Uba’s election was riddled with irregularities and ordered a re-run.
On the Nigerian situation, Mark said the tensions in some northern states following the Christmas Day bomb attacks by the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, and the on-going protests in parts of the country, sparked by the recent removal of fuel subsidy, did not imply that the country was unstable.
He said: “There could be challenges here and there, which is normal in life, but that is not enough to say that the country is unstable. Nigeria is not in crisis and will never be. The challenge it is currently facing is normal, which a country could face from time to time”.
He appealed to all Nigerians to join hands and ensure peace in the country, as this was a basic condition for any real development.
Mark, who said he was not in Anambra State to campaign for Uba, however addressed a rally at the Immaculate Heart Church field in Uga and urged voters in the zone to ensure that Uba was returned to the Senate during the re-run election.
He said: “Uba is one of the country’s respected senators and that is why we want him back in that chamber…We pray that Dr. Andy Uba returns to the Senate this year. We therefore expect you to vote for him more than you did when he won the election in April”.
On 30 August, Senator Babafemi Ojudu called on President Goodluck Jonathan and the international community to stop the killing of black migrant workers, including Nigerians, by the rebel forces fighting to end the rule of Muamar Gaddafi in Libya.
In a public statement, Ojudu, who is representing Ekiti Central District in the Senate, noted reports indicating that large numbers of black migrant workers, from countries like Nigeria and Ghana, had been killed by the rebels, with their dead bodies littering the streets of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
The Senator said: “It is disturbing that innocent black migrant workers, including Nigerians and Ghanaians, who have nothing to do with Gaddafi, are being targeted and killed by Libyan rebels”.
There had been reports since April, that rebel fighters were killing black people, whom they suspected to be loyal to Gaddafi. On Monday – 29 August – the chairman of the African Union (AU), Mr Jean Ping, charged that Libyan rebels may be indiscriminately killing black people in the country, as they had confused innocent migrant workers with mercenaries. Ping said this was one of the reasons the AU was refusing to recognize the Libyan rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) as the country’s interim government. He said “We need clarification because the TNC seems to confuse black people with mercenaries …. They are killing normal workers”.
Senator Ojodu said the rebels had no justification for killing other nationals, and that their killing of dark-complexion people in particular, portrayed them as blood-thirsty racists rather than as people fighting for freedom from oppression. He said the rebels’ claim that Gaddafi had hired foreign mercenaries to fight against his people, was no excuse for killing black people.
The lawmaker therefore demanded that “world leaders must, as a matter of urgency, step in to caution the supposed freedom fighters before it gets out of hand”. He particularly urged President Jonathan to caution the rebels since he had openly endorsed their National Transitional Council. He said President Jonathan must “set a clear line between the fight against oppression and racism”.
On 23 August, armed robbers attacked a vehicle that was conveying cash to a branch of Equatorial Trust Bank in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom State, killing five people including two policemen, and snatching millions of naira.
Local sources said the incident occurred around 11.50am near Ukana Offot junction on Abak Road, a short distance from the bank’s premises.
They said the robbers waylaid a Peugeot 504 car conveying money to the bank and shot all the occupants of the car dead, including two policemen, a staff of the bank and the driver. As they shot their way to the vehicle, a stray bullet also hit and killed a passer-by.
The robbers then carted away about seven sacks, popularly referred to as ‘Ghana-must-go’ bags, loaded with cash. Some witnesses said they saw a lady wearing a bullet proof vest, who joined other members of the gang in removing money from the Peugeot car, before they escaped without encountering any challenge from security officers.
The raid is the third major armed robbery incident in Uyo, involving the killing of policemen, within the last two months. On 7 July, robbers attacked a bullion van a few meters from the Government House, killing two policemen and escaping with millions of naira. On Friday, 19 August, a gang also pursued a bullion van to the entrance of the State House of Assembly, shot and killed two mobile (anti-riot) policemen and snatched cash.
Rattled by the rising tide of bank robberies and kidnappings in the state, the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly has passed a resolution demanding that the Inspector General of Police redeploy the current Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Felix Uyanna, immediately.
On 29 June, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, cut short his scheduled five-day working visit to the United States, in order to return home and honour a Senate invitation to testify on the security situation in the country.
Ringim, who arrived Washington DC on 26 June, had held some talks with US government officials, and was scheduled to deliver a keynote address on 30 June at a conference on “The Challenge of Police Reform in Africa’’, organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
However, he decided to return home after the Senate, rising from its 28 June deliberations on the security incidents in the country, summoned security chiefs to brief it on the situation.
A spokesperson of the CSIS thereafter phoned the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York to say that the Inspector General would no longer attend the event.
The spokesperson reportedly said: “He (Ringim) called this morning (Wednesday) to inform us that he will be leaving Washington tonight to honour an invitation from the Senate on the security situation in the country’’.
On 28 June, members of the House of Representatives (Lower Parliament) passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a new security outfit to be called the Department of Homeland Security, similar to what obtains in the United States of America.
The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon Abimbola Oluwafemi Daramola (ACN, Ekiti) which said: “We urge the President to establish a Department of Homeland Security to, among other things work, interface and coordinate other security agencies in the fight against internal security challenges”.
Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who announced this after the House emerged from a three-hour-long closed door meeting, said the House decided to avoid an open debate on the the issue of national security, due to the sensitive nature of the subject.
The Speaker said the House had also resolved to set up a committee which would, to among other things, summon the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS) and other security chiefs, to explain the remote and immediate causes of the recent incidents of terrorist violence and to explore the best strategies for re-organizing the nation’s internal security system.
In the mean time, the resolution called on security agencies to improve upon their current level of intelligence gathering and response, information sharing and emergency preparedness.
On 28 June, the Senate deliberated on the nation’s worrisome security situation and resolved to summon all service chiefs to brief its members.
Moving a motion on the series of bombing incidents in the country since late 2010, particularly the 16 June 2011 bomb incident at the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Senator Ita Enang said there was need for thorough investigation of these developments, otherwise the entire country would be condemned to living in perpetual insecurity.
Enang said: “The issue of bombing in the county is assuming a frightening dimension. Since the explosion of October last year, it has continued with a group accepting responsibility. I urge the Senate to take up the matter”. He therefore prayed the Senate to condemn the bombings, commiserate with the families of the victims and summon the service chiefs to brief its members on the way out of the present situation.
The motion drew comments from several Senators, but the main contributions were as follows:
- Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu North), describing the motion as timely, blamed the security situation on the failure of the nation’s security system which, he said, needs to be overhauled, in terms of its operations, recruitment processes and the working equipment available to its operatives.
- Senator George Sekibo (Rivers, East) similarly blamed the security system, asking rhetorically: “How can the security system be so loose as to allow bombing of the Police Force headquarters?” He said: “Police Headquarters is a place supposedly fortified with security and yet the Number One law enforcement officer of the land could be bombed. The situation calls for worry.”
- Senator Philip Aduda (Federal Capital Territory, Abuja) called on the Senate to raise a committee to investigate the situation, especially the recent bomb attacks.
- Senator Ehigie Uzemere (Edo) appealed for caution on the matter and suggested engaging members of the religious sect, Boko Haram, in a dialogue.
- Senator Olusola Adeyeye (Osun) said the security of all Nigerians was now at risk and called on religious and other leaders across the country to close ranks and fight the current security problems. He also argued that the nation’s security hierarchy needed thorough examination, adding that a situation where the police leadership would say something on insecurity and recant later, raised serious questions about professionalism.
- Senator Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa State urged the Senate to stop addressing symptoms and step up its primary constitutional duty of oversighting the executive arm of government. He said: “As a Senate of the Federal Republic, where elder statesmen are, we should desist from addressing symptoms. As a Senate, we have a fundamental responsibility to oversight the executive, what they are doing or what they are about to do”.
- Senator Abdul Ningi urged the Senate to invite security chiefs for proper briefing on the security situation in the country.
- Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, noted that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes security of citizens a fundamental responsibility of the government and that the current security situation, which was now “a national emergency”, should not be treated lightly.
At the end of the contributions, the Senate President, Senator David Mark, amended the motion, suggesting that the establishment of a Senate Committee on the situation be put on hold, until after security chiefs must have been summoned to brief the Senate on the situation. He persuaded his colleagues that it is only after the briefing must have armed them with first hand information, that the Senate would then be clear on its next line of action.
The motion, amended to reflect this position, was then approved unanimously.
On 20 June, at its very first sitting, the new session of the Lagos State House of Assembly (state parliament) which was inaugurated on 4 June, approved the purchase of 10 new Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) at a cost of N700 million (about 4.7 million USD).
The approval followed a request by the state governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, conveyed to the lawmakers through a letter signed by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Bayo Sodade. In the letter, Governor Fashola explained that he was requesting for the new APCs to support the police in upgrading security in Lagos, and to ward off the kinds of terrorist threats that are now emerging in Abuja and several northern states.
While the letter had requested that the funds for the purchase be drawn from the Local Government Intervention Fund (LGIF), some of the lawmakers had objected to that idea, arguing that the LGIF was meant for development of infrastructure. They argued that the needed money should rather be drawn from appropriation already made under the State Security Trust Fund (SSTF).
However, at the end of deliberations, the Speaker of the House, Chief Adeyemi Ikuforiji, succeeded in persuading his colleagues to grant the approval as requested.
The legislators said they approved the procurement of the vehicles as a donation to the police, and in view of the nationwide security alert since the bomb explosion at the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja, on 16 June.