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‘Save my daughter from execution in Saudi Arabia’

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‘Save my daughter from execution in Saudi Arabia’

The father of the alleged drug courier, Zainab Aliyu, who is presently being detained in Saudi Arabia for drug-related offences, has appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Saudi authorities and the international community as well as well-meaning individuals to intervene in her daughter’s case and help save the ‘innocent’ lady from being executed wrongly.

Habibu Aliyu, who is not happy that his daughter is cooling off in a Saudi Prison despite the recent discovery that she was framed by some drug cartel, explained that the allegations of Zainab entering the Asian country with Tramadol, was absolute falsehood as recent events and arrests have confirmed the girl’s innocence. Speaking with Saturday Telegraph yesterday, Aliyu begged President Muhammadu Buhari and all those involved in his administration consular matters to hasten diplomatic talks with the Kingdom in order to help stop the unfortunate fate that may her daughter. Worried that the girl might be killed inoffensively, Aliyu said: “From the look of things, despite all series of communication between Saudi Arabia and President Buhari’s Adviser on the Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, Abike Dibiri Erewa, this Saudi government is hell-bent on killing my daughter innocently”. Aliyu’s plea is coming on the heels of a revelation that the Federal Government has discovered those behind the dastardly act and is already prosecuting them.

Checks by our correspondents have however showed that a committee had been set up in the Presidency with a view to negotiating with the Saudi authorities on the need to have the girl released and possibly swap with those behind the mysterious appearance of the poisonous substance in Zainab’s luggage.

The committee’s creation is hinged upon the investigation by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) which discovered that a cartel had planted the illicit drug in Zainab’s luggage. The suspects had since been arrested and arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Kano.

Zainab, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, had travelled from Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) in company with her mother, Mrs. Maryam Aliyu, and sister, Hajara Aliyu. She was later arrested over allegations that a luggage, bearing her name tag, contained the unlawful substance. Zainab who was accused of entering Saudi Arabia with an illegal dosage of Tramadol was later discovered to be a victim of a cartel that specialises in keeping hard drugs in travellers’ bags, some of whom are already in the custody of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

However, checks by our correspondents revealed that the committee, which is domiciled in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has set to work. An official in the Presidency who is in the know of the committee’s workings told Saturday Telegraph, though on the condition of anonymity, that the team is assiduously working with other groups in order to achieve the release of Zainab from the Saudi gulag. “Our office was petitioned and our legal team investigated the matter. But since it is purely a legal issue and diplomatic matter, we had to refer it to the Nigerians in the Diaspora Committee (NIDCOM), in the Office of SSA on Diaspora, which in turn reported the matter to the Ministry of Justice. “The ministry has a desk that deals with such things. The petitioners are saying that the girl is innocent and that we should save her from being executed.

They want justice and they are saying that the Federal Government should intervene quickly before the kingdom pronounces a final verdict to execute her. “We have done all the necessary things as expected. Even the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has invited the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) ambassador in Nigeria where they discussed some of these issues.

We have also discussed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the way out. “The Nigerian ambassador and other envoys in KSA are also on the alert to monitor the development. All these happened in the last two weeks. So, you can rest assured that the Nigerian government is working round the clock to ensure justice for Zainab and any Nigerian that is wrongfully arrested anywhere in the world. We are already pleading with the KSA to do a thorough investigation so as to avoid miscarriage of justice”, he said.

A father’s plea

Zainab’s Father, who stood his ground that his daughter is innocent, has embarked on series of desperate moves to ensure that his daughter is not killed on baseless and unfounded accusations. He told Saturday Telegraph exclusively that he had met personally with President Buhari over the matter while commending both the NDLEA and Dibiri- Erewa for their concerted efforts in ensuring the release of his daughter. He however expressed concerns that the Saudi government is not responding positively while pleading with the Foreign Affairs Minister to quickly begin communications with his counterpart in Saudi Arabia in order to ensure the swift release of his daughter.

“I could not understand why the Saudi Arabia government is still holding my daughter after the thorough investigation of the cartel and after the arrest of those who confessed to have illegally used my daughter to export hard drugs into the holy land without her knowledge”. When asked whether he was aware that Saudi authorities is seeking a swap of the girl with those in the NDLEA custody, Aliyu lamented that the lists of the arrested cartel members had been sent to Saudi Arabia and that the NDLEA has communicated same to them, but the Saudi government is still having his daughter despite the facts presented to them. “I am afraid that anything can happen. Saudi Arabia doesn’t joke with these kind of issues. I want to believe Abike Dibiri’s statement that many Nigerians were innocently prosecuted by Saudi government on drugs issue without careful investigation. I hope and pray that my daughter would not be among those on the death row of that government.

“The Foreign Affairs Minister and his staff should please and please move in quickly because my daughter is still languishing in prison on a case she knows nothing of. She is a university student who is never involved in any criminal activities at home or in School.” He urged Nigerians to keep praying for his daughter so as to help stopped her life from being wasted while noting that Zainab has a brighter future ahead of her.

NDLEA, MOFA keep mum

Meanwhile, our sources further confirmed that the NDLEA has also received a petition from Zainab’s father, seeking a probe of his daughter’s ordeal. Consequently, the NDLEA Commander in charge of MAKIA had launched an investigation, which culminated in the discovery of the cartel and their activities. Though Saturday Telegraph gathered that the NDLEA was part of the committee to push for Zainab’s possible release, a senior official of the antidrug agency said he was not aware of the existence of such panel. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the agency’s main concern, was to ensure diligent prosecution of members of the cartel.

“I’m not aware. May be you can find out from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It’s not a matter of us trying to secure anybody’s freedom, but to handle the investigation as it is. You are aware that two persons have been arrested in connection with the crime, and have been charged, and being prosecuted accordingly”, the official said. Reminded that the chairman and Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Abdallah (rtd), had forwarded report of the investigation of the case to the Consul-General in Saudi Arabia, he asked: “What other steps are you suggesting, other than following up the process in court? “Investigation report has been written:

I don’t even know how New Telegraph got the report and flashed it unedited”, he said. Similarly, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was too early to say anything on the matter as it was still under investigation by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), while referring the Saturday Telegraph crew to the NDLEA for an update on the issue. “The ministry may not be able to comment now; it’s too early until we have a full report of the investigation. As it is now, I think the NDLEA is investigating the matter. So, if you have any other option of making enquiries on this matter, I think you should approach the NDLEA. They might give you some useful information.

For now, the ministry cannot make any comment until the outcome of their investigation,” he said. When reminded that the NDLEA had released a report of its findings and that the report absolved the lady of any crime, the official insisted that it was too early for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make comments in that direction. “It is too early for the Ministry to make comments in that direction. I cannot speak on what I do not know,” he said.

Saudi embassy yet to respond

Saturday Telegraph also contacted the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja to ascertain the fate of the detained lady but there was no response. In a letter of enquiry addressed to the Director of Media and Public Affairs and sent through e-mail as requested by the embassy, Saturday Telegraph sought to know what the authorities in Saudi Arabia were planning to do about the lady given the revelations made by the NDLEA. But as at the time of filing this report, the Saudi Arabian Embassy was yet to give a response to the enquiry as at the time of filing this report.

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Buhari likens Sowore to Boko Haram terrorists

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Buhari likens Sowore to Boko Haram terrorists

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resident Muhammadu Buhari has likened the activities of the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, to Boko Haram terrorists operating in North-East part of the country.

 

The President stated this in reaction to criticisms that have trailed the re-arrest of the convener of Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, at the Federal High Court, Abuja by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

 

While the fighting between government forces and Boko Haram insurgents since 2009 in the North-East has led to death of several people and displacement of millions, Sowore recently called for a revolution against the government of President Buhari.

 

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, in a statement yesterday, explained that the criticism which followed the re-arrest of Sowore and Bakare inside the court premises is unnecessary.

 

DSS operatives were reported to have chased away a presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu and assaulted journalists in their bid to arrest the duo of Sowore and Bakare in Abuja on Friday.

 

 

Reacting to the condemnation of the Buhari government over the re-arrest which happened inside the court premises, Shehu said Sowore remains a person of interest to the DSS.

 

“Again, it is no surprise that he (Sowore) should be a person of interest to the DSS. Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the North-Eastern region of our country.

 

 

“The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.

 

“Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in faraway New York – and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu. This is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers,” the presidential aide stressed.

 

The Presidential spokesman said no government around the world will allow anybody to openly call for destabilisation in the country and do nothing.

 

Shehu said: “No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.

 

 

“Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.

 

“He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.

 

“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow.”

 

According to the presidential spokesman, the DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution.

 

The Presidency explained that: “The DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.

 

 

“Mr. Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet. He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 presidential election.

 

 

“Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making, and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation Sowore was advocating.

 

 

“To believe in and desire armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described.”

Meanwhile, the US Department of State has expressed concerns over the re-arrest of Sowore.

 

 

In a tweet on Saturday, the United States reminded the Nigerian Government that respect for rule of law, freedom and judicial independence are key elements of democracy.

 

 

“We are deeply concerned that Sowore has been re-detained in Nigeria, shortly after a court ordered he be released on bail. Respect for rule of law, judicial independence, political and media freedom, and due process are key tenets of democracy,” the US Department of State said.

 

 

 

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Sowore: HURIWA tackles Presidency, DSS

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Sowore: HURIWA tackles Presidency, DSS

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uman Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, flayed the Presidency and the Department of State Services (DSS) over the re-arrest of the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, inside the courtroom.

The advocacy group described the incident as “outrageous and primitive” and called for the dismissal of the Director-General of DSS, Alhaji Yusuf Bichi.

 

 

In a statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, the group also frowned at the attempt made by the DSS spokesperson to exculpate his agency “from the abominable defecation of the Temple of Justice.”

 

 

It said: “This invasion of the Federal High Court, just like the invasion of the National Assembly by 100 hooded armed security forces of the DSS and the invasion of the residences of Justices of the nation’s Supreme Court and Federal High Court, are symptomatic of the increasing desire of the administration to institute arbitrariness and anarchy and then to elevate impunity and official lawlessness to a state policy which will culminate in the ultimate collapse of constitutional democracy and the emergence of full dictatorship.”

 

 

HURIWA’s statement came against the backdrop of claim by the DSS spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, that Sowore acted a well-rehearsed script to give the world the impression that its agents arrested him inside a courtroom.

According to the rights group, there is no justifiable reason for an institution created by statute to actively invade the sacred sanctum of the Federal High Court and employ brute force to arbitrarily re-arrest two Nigerian citizens who were already on bail granted to them by a competent court of law.

 

 

It insisted that the half-baked efforts by reactionary forces aligned to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to explain away the weighty issues connected with the invasion of the courtroom of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu “makes the government appear to be totally cut off from reality.”

 

 

HURIWA added: “This attempt to paint black what is white and to deny an event recorded on video and circulated all over the world will present the government as a bunch of people who are in the business of canonizing falsehoods and adopting naked lies as the hallmarks of the current administration.

 

“This is a serious disservice to the Nigerian State and these crude tendencies will harm the international image of the country for a long time to come.”

 

The group declared that the action of the DSS operatives cannot possibly find any rational, empirical and constitutional support since it “amounted to a gross disrespect for the sanctity of the judiciary.”

 

 

“It is comical and irrational that the spokesman for the President of a constitutional democracy in the 21st Century can be seen arguing that a citizen who has already been granted bail by the court of competent jurisdiction can be rearrested over very nebulous and incoherent reasons that find no justification in law and for which same reasons framed as criminal charges are already before the court of law and during which pendency the presiding judge, Her Lordship Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, had graciously exercised her constitution power of discretion and granted bail to the accused, thereby rendering his second arrest as an exercise in erection of double jeopardy,” it said.

 

The group, however, urged President Buhari to desist from abusing his powers and office, saying “political power is transient.”

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Why Senate is in a hurry to perform, by Lawan

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Why Senate is in a hurry to perform, by Lawan

The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, explained that the Ninth Senate was in a hurry to deliver on some of the targets set in its legislative agenda, in order to beat the 2023 political season, which might slow down governance. Lawan gave this explanation at the end-of-the-year get-together/award ceremony, organised by the Senate management for the staff of the Senate. He said: “We came with our own ideas, our own agenda as Distinguished Senators of the Ninth Senate. “We passed our agenda.

 

What we intend to do as Senators to enhance good governance in Nigeria is to make Nigeria better for the citizens. And, of course, the way we want to go is different from the way of the past because perhaps the goals and targets are different. “And we are also in a hurry.

 

We know the need for us to act fast. Time is of essence. In the next two years or so, the Nigerian political landscape will be dotted by people campaigning for presidency, for governorship and the rest of it. And that will in a way cause some disruption or slowdown in governance. “So between now and the next two years we have told ourselves that we have to work hard to ensure that, as a legislature, we are able to perform our roles creditably to enable government function very well for Nigerians.

 

And that is what we have been trying to do. The President of the Senate said that by the time the lawmakers returned from their break in January, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which appeared to have defied passage and the constitutional amendment which is a continuous exercise, would be addressed. “The mode of operation of this current Senate is: we don’t give space. We don’t create any space in the middle. We just want it done and done away with it,” he said.

 

Lawan thanked the staff for their dedication, hard work and noted that they are so significant to the achievement so far recorded by the Senate. “We are supposed to celebrate you. That is why I’m here because we have put all of you to test when we came in. The first test we had for ourselves as Senators and you as supporting staff was the screening of the Presidential ministerial nominees. “We were supposed to go on break, but we held back for one week and it was a very exhaustive week. We sat up to about 8p.m. from morning.

 

We succeeded because you were there for us. “And the subsequent activities including, of course, the budget that we have just passed. The National Assembly turned into a beehive of activities right from the day we said the budget defence will start and the budget defence will end. Most of you were always in the National Assembly. You worked so hard. You made us to succeed,” he said.

 

Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori also commended the staff and assured them that the management would continue to strive hard to meet their needs within the available resources.

 

“We have never, as a management, failed to acknowledge the fact that we are within a very serious constraint. But what we have said is that, whatever is due to you, you will get it, within the context of the available resources,” Omolori said.

 

Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, assured the staff that the get-together had become an annual event. The highpoint of the event was the presentation of the 2019 Senate President Award to Usman Labaran Gumama for his dedication to duty, vigilance, valour and enforcement of security at the National Assembly complex.

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Falana: DSS can’t absolve self from court’s desecration

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Falana: DSS can’t absolve self from court’s desecration

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rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has said the Department of State Services (DSS) cannot absolve itself of responsibility for the desecration of a Federal High Court in Abuja occasioned by its invasion by some armed operatives of the agency in their quest to re-arrest the Convener of#RevolutionNowgroup, Omoyele Sowore.

 

 

The silk said it is self-contradictory for the DSS to claim on one hand that Sowore’s arrest was stage-managed by his supporters while at the same time admitting that its operatives arrested Sowore outside the court’s premises.

 

The DSS had, in a statement after last Friday’s incident, disclosed that Sowore was mobbed by his “supporters” who were trying to shield him from ‘an imaginary arrest’ and that its operatives never invaded the court.

 

However, in his response, Falana, who represented Sowore in court on the day of the incident, insisted that the DSS was solely responsible for the desecration of the hallowed chambers of the court as well as the ‘illegal’ arrest of his client.

 

 

He said DSS’ claims that the arrest was stage-managed could not hold water as it is difficult to believe that Sowore’s supporters will subject him to brutalisation in the presence of DSS operatives.

 

“Why were they not arrested for contravening the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017? Or were the DSS operatives expecting the supporters of a defendant to kill him in their presence?” Falana asked.

 

According to Falana, “The abominable desecration of the Federal High Court was covered live by domestic and international media outfits and journalists, some of whom were also direct victims of the gangsterism, barbarism and brutalisation displayed by officers of the Service on the 6th day of December 2019.”

 

Recounting the chain of events on the day of the incident, Falana said: “As soon as the case was adjourned, the DSS pounced on Sowore and caused a disruption of the proceedings of the court. Having taken over the courtroom, Justice Ojukwu hurriedly rose and asked the registrar to adjourn all other cases. After the learned trial judge had risen for the day, she summoned the heads of the prosecution and defence teams to her chambers.

 

“When the lead prosecutor, Dr. Liman Hassan (SAN) denied knowledge of the invasion of her court, she directed him to invite the head of the DSS team in the court. When challenged to justify the invasion of the court, the officer could not. He apologised to Justice Ojukwu on behalf of the DSS. The judge then directed the officer to withdraw the DSS operatives from the courtroom. The directive was complied with as the operatives withdrew from the courtroom, but rushed out to join their colleagues who had taken over the entire court house.

 

 

“Notwithstanding that the DSS could not produce any warrant of arrest for Sowore, the defence team decided that I should accompany him to the DSS headquarters in view of his physical brutalisation inside the court room and the open threat to his life.

 

 

“I did and ensured that he was driven in my car to the DSS headquarters where I handed him over to the officers on duty. Thereafter, I requested for a meeting with the head of the DSS, but I was informed that he was not in the office.”

The silk also faulted claims by the DSS that it is law abiding, saying its activities pointed to the contrary.

 

 

“The DSS says it is a law abiding institution. But why did it refuse to comply with the order of Justice Taiwo to release Sowore? Why did the DSS threaten to report the judge to the NJC for granting bail to Sowore?

 

 

“Why did the DSS subject the order of Justice Ojukwu for the release of Sowore to its own approval by asking the sureties already verified by the judge to report themselves to it? Why did the DSS wait for the 24-hour ultimatum issued by the trial judge before releasing Sowore and Bakare?” he asked.

 

 

Falana, while demanding for the immediate release of Sowore, all political detainees and criminal suspects who have been admitted to bail pending trial by competent courts, added that bizarre harassment of courts cannot be tolerated under a democratically-elected government that claims to operate under the rule of law.

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Hate speech: Reps ask Senate to conduct public hearing at geopolitical zones

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Hate speech: Reps ask Senate to conduct public hearing at geopolitical zones

Some members of the House of Representatives have called on the Senate to carry out a public hearing in the six geopolitical zones across the country on the controversial hate speech bill. The bill, sponsored by Senate Deputy Majority whip, Senator Abdullahi Sabi (APC, Niger) has drawn the ire of not a few Nigerians.

 

Speaking at the weekend at the interactive forum organised by the House of Representatives’ Press Corps on executive-legislature relationship, the lawmakers urged members of the upper chamber to have a rethink on the proposed legislation.

 

Chairman House Committee on Protocols, Treaties and Agreements, Hon Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP Delta) said if the Senate should seek opinion at the geopolitical zones by organising public hearings if it really wanted to know how majority of Nigerians felt about the bill. He said: “If the senate wants to feel the pulse of the nation on this hate speech bill, I will advise them to organise public hearings at the level of geopolitical zones and they will get the feedback.

 

“But, as I have always said, this bill is not necessary because I believe we have adequate laws to take care of what the proponents of this bill are talking about. Why should someone be prescribing death sentence in the 21st century as punishment for hate speech? This is unheard of.”

 

Ossai reasoned that what Nigeria required at the moment was not a hate speech or social media regulation law, but good governance to deliver basic infrastructure and improve the economy to lessen the current hardship in the country.

 

Also speaking on the bill on the occasion, Hon. Dachung Musa Bagos (PDP Plateau) opined that the government must address the root cause of hate speech, which according to him was “bad governance and widespread poverty.” He said people who were distraught and did not know where their next meal would come from were bound to exude hate speech in their utterances. He said: “A man who is well fed and is enjoying the basic amenities of life will never think about causing disharmony in the society through hate speech.

 

But when things are not going on rightly people will naturally out of frustration voice out anger and that’s what breeds hate speech. “The people of my constituency have told me to speak against this bill when it comes to the House of Representatives because they do not support it, and I will rather advise the senate to withdraw this bill.

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We won’t scrap pension benefits for Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode – Assembly

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We won’t scrap pension benefits for Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode – Assembly

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agos State House of Assembly has declared that it will not repeal the state’s pension law permitting former governors and other public office holders to receive juicy pensions from state coffers.

 

Some of the beneficiaries of the pension law in Lagos are Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and the immediate past governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode.

 

In the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law No 11 Official Gazette of Lagos State, 2007, the former governors and deputy governors of the state are entitled to a house in either Lagos and Abuja.

 

Also, the law also makes provision for six new cars every three years, 100 per cent of their basic salary while serving (N7.7m per annum), as well as free health care for them and members of their family.

 

As part of the package, the former public office holders are entitled to furniture allowance, which is 300 per cent of their annual basic salary; house maintenance allowance; utility allowance, and car maintenance allowance.

There are other benefits like attachment of eight policemen and two operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

 

Mr. Tunde Braimoh, Chairman, House Committee on Information and Strategy, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday that Lagos Assembly would not go the way of the Zamfara State Assembly which recently repealed pension law for its former governors.

 

 

NAN recalls that a Federal High Court in Lagos had ordered the Federal Government to recover pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.

 

The court also directed the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to receive such pensions.

 

Braimoh, however, faulted the court ruling that ordered Malami to take immediate legal action toward the abolishment of state laws that permit “former governors to enjoy governors’ emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices.”

 

He told NAN that as long as the law did not contravene the constitution, state assemblies had the right to make laws for the benefit of the society in which they operate.

 

According to him, separation of powers, as enshrined in the constitution, empowers the legislature to make laws, the executive to implement and the judiciary to interpret the laws.

 

“The Supreme Court had made it clear several times that no arm of government can repeal the constitutional provisions of another arm of government.

“Therefore, legislators make laws that are in tune with the yearnings and dynamics of their society.

 

“Until another legislature comes to alter, review or amend the law, the law is meant to be obeyed.

 

“The judiciary cannot pronounce that a law by the state is unconstitutional unless such state law is contradictory to the constitution,” the lawmaker said.

 

Braimoh said he was not aware of any law that restricted state assemblies from making laws for the provision of welfare package of former governors and public office holders.

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AMCON blames airlines’ failure on sharp practices

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AMCON blames airlines’ failure on sharp practices

…faults banks for aiding over-invoicing

 

 

Sharp practices by airline owners such as over-invoicing in the course of purchasing aircraft and other unwholesome practices have been identified as responsible for the short lifespan of private airline investment in the country.

 

Disclosing this in Lagos yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer, Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Kuru, said that was the case with Arik Air and Aero Contractors, which almost led to the death of the two carriers before government intervened.

 

 

Kuru, who spoke at the Aviation Leadership CEOs Roundtable with theme, “Aircraft Financing: Issues and Challenges of AMCON,” alleged that the former management of Arik engaged in over-invoicing of planes purchased by the airline owners who decided to take their profit upfront to the detriment of the business.

 

 

Represented by Group Head, Asset Management, AMCON, Mr. Tajudeen Ahmed, he lamented that the situation led to the over N500 billion debts that stifled the carrier’s operations.

 

The roundtable was organised by Publisher of Aviators Africa, Mr. Toni Ukachukwu. The AMCON boss faulted banks for allowing airline owners get away with such practices, explaining that when aircraft purchases are over-invoiced, the collateral the bank is holding becomes deficient, noting that it is only a matter of time before the business collapses.

 

He said to manage an airline in Nigeria, the realities of investment were huge amid very little profit margin, adding that airline survival required discipline, honour and transparency as well as sound corporate governance on the part of owners. His words: “Arik before the takeover was complicit in aircraft maintenance by not maintaining the planes when they were due for maintenance.

 

 

But under the current team, AMCON has overhauled over eight B737 engines and carried out more than 15 checks with many in the shops as we speak.

 

“There was also issue of over-invoicing of planes purchased by the airline owners who decided to take their profit upfront to the detriment of the business. Again, the banks do not understand the business and let airline owners get away with such practices because when the aircraft is over-invoiced, the collateral the bank is hold   ing is deficient. It will be only a matter of time before the business collapses.”

 

Kuru reiterated that financing aviation was also challenged by the huge interest regime, adding that everything needed to run profitable airlines was imported.

 

 

According to him, lack of corporate governance in the sector has done an incalculable damage because the operators like to apply one-man ownership system, stating that critical decisions are taken by one man, which cannot be questioned or challenged by a board like a case of organised environment.

 

The AMCON chief expressed frustration that convincing banks to invest in aviation was extremely difficult, urging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to consider incentives that will encourage banks to fund aviation business in Nigeria because of its critical position to the economy. He said: “The apex bank should encourage the commercial banks to go into aviation.

 

The government should create the enabling environment that would enable airlines set up a leasing company in a well tenured manner. The government can consider loan term credit. “It is, therefore, not surprising to some of us when I take a look at what we call Nigeria aviation burial ground.

 

You will be greeted with a long list of many airlines with many of them whose lifespan did not exceed 10 years, talking about ADC, Chanchangi, Bellview, Sosoliso, African Trust Air, Harco, Kabo, Okada, Albarka, Slok, Virgin Nigeria, Afrijet, Dawood Air. The list is endless.”

 

Aviation entrepreneur and pilot, Alex Nwuba, who spoke on aircraft utilization, said most airports in Nigeria closed at 6p.m., saying “you will never get the utilisation you require. That is a double tragedy because often times you see airlines operating oversized aircraft using load factors. “We tend to use load factors that are untenable, and today, we have the very popular B737 with 50 to 60 passenger market.”

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Sowore: Rule of law dying in Nigeria – Gani Adams

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Sowore: Rule of law dying in Nigeria – Gani Adams

Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Ige Adams, has described the re-arrest of the publisher of SaharaReporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, shortly after his purported release as a national tragedy, saying the situation that played out at the court had only indicated that Nigeria had lost its drift as a democratic nation.

 

 

Speaking at the weekend in Lagos, Aare Adams, insisted that the situation in the country had only justified that the rule of law was gradually dying, while the federal government remained helpless.

 

 

He said: “With what happened at the court, it reminded me of the dark era of the military,but ironically, the present government under President Muhammadu Buhari is liken to the military junta of the late Sanni Abacha,where the military brigande held sway for years.

 

 

“I have been watching events as they unfold, but I am saddened that the event that transpired in the court was a testimony that Nigeria still has a long way to go. The Department of State Services (DSS) failed to respect the rule of law and it was a sad reminder of the military era.

 

“This is not the democracy we fought for between 1993 and 1998. I remembered vividly as activists and prodemocracy groups, we put our lives on the line to ensure that our dreams for this democracy become a reality. Now, democracy is here, but we have lost touch with the ideals of a democratic setting as it is practised in other climes.

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Bayelsa polls: Stop heating up the polity, APC warns Dickson

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Bayelsa polls: Stop heating up the polity, APC warns Dickson

Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the weekend warned Governor Seriake Dickson to stop threatening the peace of the state by raising tension following the electoral defeat of his candidate, Senator Douye Diri, of People Democratic Party (PDP) in the November 16 governorship election. APC therefore advised the governor to toe the path of democracy and rule of law by taking his grievances to the court.

 

The party’s Publicity Secretary, Doifie Buokoribo, who expressed APC’s position in a statement in Yenagoa said: “In the last few weeks, since the overwhelming victory of our candidate at the November 16 governorship election, David Lyon, Governor Seriake Dickson has inundated the state and indeed, the country with wild allegations and inciting comments.

 

“He has screamed blue murder at all relevant institutions of state, from the electoral body to the security agencies, and the winning All Progressives Congress (APC). And he has absolved himself and his section of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of blame.

 

“From his mind, Dickson has issued threats to the electorate in Bayelsa State and APC members, particularly, and has boasted about his capacity to unleash violence and turn the state upside down. “Dickson has displayed everything, but commitment to democratic ideals and legal processes of electoral conflict resolution.

 

“We, however, unequivocally state and also remind Dickson that the election has been concluded and the Governor-Elect, David Lyon, is only waiting to be sworn in as the next Governor of Bayelsa State. And for those who feel aggrieved, like Dickson, there are constitutionally prescribed processes open to them to follow in trying to redress their grievances. Disparaging the institutions of state and inciting the public to violence are, certainly, not among the processes.

 

“Dickson is not a court of law; he should stop holding court on the governorship election. He cannot be the plaintiff and judge in a case in which he is an interested party. If he has grievances, the place to go is the election tribunal. “Dickson is also not Bayelsa State, and he cannot claim to be voicing the opinion of the people, who have overwhelmingly spoken with their votes against his nearly eight years of misrule and mistreatment.

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Oil spill: Shell, Niger Delta community renew battle over $516m compensation

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Oil spill: Shell, Niger Delta community renew battle over $516m compensation

The nine-year old legal tussle between Royal Dutch Shell and Ejama-Ebubu community, a Niger Delta community, over $516 million compensation for an oil spill half a century ago degenerated at the weekend. While Shell is holding on to a judgment by a court in the United Kingdom, people of the community are waiting for the outcome of a similar case in the Nigeria’s Supreme Court slated for hearing next month.

 

The UK court said on Thursday that Shell did not have to pay in Nigerian oil spill judgment whereas the case in a Nigerian court would be heard next month (January 2020), a report by Bloomberg hinted yesterday.

 

After nine years of wrangling, in which Shell was alleged by a Nigerian judge to have tried to frustrate proceedings, the court awarded the community the damages plus interest, which by that time had increased the award to more than 10 times its initial value of £33m. Shell appealed to the Nigerian Supreme Court, initially having their application dismissed.

 

A further hearing is due to take place in January. Thursday’s case originated from a claim brought in 2001 by the Ejama-Ebubu community. Royal Dutch Shell, a report won a UK ruling preventing London courts from enforcing a $516million Nigerian judgment for damages caused by an oil spill half a century ago.

 

Judge Jason Coppel on Thursday overturned an attempt to carry over a 2010 ruling by a Nigerian court to the UK, saying that those proceedings were unfair because Shell was denied an opportunity to present a defence. Shell’s Nigerian units have been beset by lawsuits, many of them in UK courts, for their part in oil spills on the Niger Delta.

 

The oil conglomerate had often sought to transfer the cases to Nigeria, with one even going to the UK Supreme Court to decide its jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the claimants had the original Nigerian award registered in London using a century- old law, allowing the UK courts to enforce the award if necessary.

 

“Thursday’s judgment sets aside the registration, preventing its enforcement in the UK Nicholas Ekhorutomwen, a lawyer for that Ejama-Ebubu community, said they were “disappointed” with the decision and would appeal,” Bloomberg reported yesterday.

 

Shell said in a statement that the matter was still subject to legal proceedings in Nigeria as it remained their position “that no payment was due.” It also said the company completed a cleanup of the spill sites in 2013.

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