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Governors urge CJN to ignore CCT summons



Governors in five Southsouth states yesterday called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to ignore the summons by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Barring any last-minute change, the embattled CJN will be arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on Monday, over failure to declare his assets after his appointment as CJN.

An Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative had filed a petition against Onnoghen over the non declaration of his assets.

They rose from an emergency meeting in Abuja at the instance of Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson,  describing the CCT summons against Justice Onnoghen as a grave and dangerous escalation of assault on institutions of the state, including the National Assembly.

In a communique issued after the meeting and read by  Dickson, the governors reminded President Muhammadu Buhari of his constitutional responsibility and huge moral obligation to defend the nation’s democracy.

The communique reads: “We consider this step, which is directly aimed at humiliating the nation’s highest judicial officer and a prominent son of the region, as totally unacceptable as it is reflective of the Southsouth story of endless marginalization and intimidation.

“We note that under Section 158(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Judicial Council has ample powers to deal exhaustively with matters pertaining to allegations of misconduct and discipline of judicial officers.

“Specifically, the NJC has the powers and clear procedures for investigating allegations, and recommending appropriate sanctions or disciplinary measures against judicial officials as a matter of the first instance before any further steps.”

Condemning the way the CJN was summoned by the CCT, the governors considered the action a setback to the gains recorded by the nation in its 20-year democratic journey.

According to them, the action against Justice Onnoghen further reinforced the perception that the Buhari administration has no regard for the sentiments of Nigerians, in particular, the people of Niger Delta, and the rule of law.

They recalled what they termed “unceremonious” removal of former Acting Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mathew Seiyefa and his replacement with an officer of northern extraction.

The governors flayed what they described as the administration’s penchant for flagrant disobedience of and disregard for legitimate and valid court orders.

The communique further states: “We expect President Buhari to know that democracy cannot survive without respect for the constitution, strict adherence to the rule of law, and separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution.

“We strongly believe that the regrettable development at the Supreme Court at this critical time, when preparations for the general elections are wobbling (with serious concern about INEC and security agencies) is capable of causing avoidable anxiety, tension and possible breakdown of law and order in the country.

“We note further that the action undermines confidence not only in the judiciary but also the electoral process that has already commenced, in view of the pivotal role that the judiciary plays in the process of electoral adjudication.

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Ganduje proposes death penalty for kidnappers



Kano State is set to introduce the death penalty for kidnapping in its penal code as child abductions and trafficking worsen. Governor Abdullahi Ganduje on Thursday directed the state Ministry of Justice to immediately amend the Penal Code to add capital punishment for kidnappers.

Ganduje spoke while inaugurating a 16-man Commission of Inquiry on nine children kidnapped in Kano and sold in Onitsha, Anambra State.

The panel is headed by retired Justice Umar Wada Rano. Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) chairman Rev. Adeolu Samuel Adeyemo, who wept at the inauguration, is a member.

The commission is to submit its report in 30 days.

Ganduje offered graduate scholarship and N1 million each to the victims’ parents.

He condemned the act, describing it as wicked.

The governor said what the kidnappers and human traffickers did was against the tenets of Islam and Christianity.

The committee’s terms of references read: “To conduct an enquiry into cases of missing persons in Kano State from the year 2010 to date and to procure all such evidence, written or oral, and to examine all such persons as witnesses as the commissioners may think it necessary or desirable to procure or examine.

“To summon any person in Nigeria to attend any meeting of the commission to give evidence or produce any documents and to require the evidence (whether written or oral) of any witness to be made on oath or declaration.

“To admit or exclude the public or any member of the public or press from any hearing of the commission, to prepare comprehensive data of missing persons in Kano State within the period and circumstances in which they disappeared.

“To find out both immediate and remote causes of cases of missing persons and to prepare and submit a written report, including findings and recommendations to the Government of Kano State.”

The Commission is also expected to hear from the victims or their relatives, collect written or oral evidence and visits sites (as the case may be) where the victims may have been taken to.

It is to come up with recommendations on how to eradicate “such wicked act”.

The Governor urged the Council of Ulamas (“the learned ones”) to facilitate the rescued children’s re-orientation, saying they were robbed of their childhood.

The Solicitor-General Amina Yusuf Yar Gaya administered the oath on the committee’s members.

Rev. Adeyemo, broke down in tears while speaking after their inauguration.

He condemned the act of child kidnapping and disassociated CAN from such dastardly act.

He said: “As I sit here today, I see the gravity of the sin committed by the perpetrators of this crime. I have seen the harm done to the parents because I am a parent.

“I was touched, very touched when we learnt about the rescue of these kidnapped children. It broke my heart and my heart is still broken. This is a crime against humanity which is condemned by God.

“In the Bible, it is not permitted to separate a child from the mother until the age of 13. This is an evil punishable in the sight of God. Those people who committed this crime are not Christians and do not represent the tenets of Christianity.

“Kano is a mini-Nigeria and we want to thank Governor Ganduje for making Kano a home for all. Nobody kidnaps for Christ. CAN condemns this act and Christians all over the world condemn it.”

Igwe Ibekwe said the issue was worrisome and condemnable.

He said: “Whatever is bad is bad. This is not only a taboo; it is a criminal matter that must be tackled. The Igbo community in Kano has not experienced this kind of thing.

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Court orders Lagos Assembly to leave Ambode alone



An Ikeja High Court on Wednesday ordered the Lagos State House of Assembly to maintain status quo in the ongoing investigation of former Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.

This is just as Ambode’s lawyer, who had appeared at the Assembly complex for the sitting of the joint committee of the House probing expenditures of the ex-governor, was not allowed into the venue of the sitting of the committee.

The joint committee has, however, adjoined its probe of Ambode indefinitely in deference to the court’s ruling that status-quo should be maintained.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya gave the order while ruling on an ex parte motion filed by Ambode through his counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN.

The court had on Tuesday ordered Oyetibo to put the respondents on notice before hearing all applications.

This is contrary to earlier reports that the court ordered respondents to appear in court yesterday.

When Oyetibo applied to move the ex parte motion dated October 28 on Tuesday, Justice Adesanya declined.
She said she would rather hear the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction on their merits, directing service of the originating processes, accompanying processes and all pending applications on the 1st to the 12th defendants.

The respondents are the Lagos State House of Assembly, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa; House Clerk, Mr. A.A Sanni; Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement, Fatai Mojeed and members of the Committee. They are: Gbolahan Yishawu, A.A Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Lasbat Meranda, M.L Makinde, Kehinde Joseph, T.A Adewale and O.S Afinni.

During resumed proceedings for interlocutory injunction filed by the former governor dated October 28, 2019, before the court yesterday, his counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) confirmed service on the respondents as earlier directed by the court.

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$9.6b judgment: CCB gets petition against ex-CJN Belgore



Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has received a petition on former Chief of Justice of Nigeria Alfa Belgore. Belgore was accused of testifying against the country in favour of Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID), which secured a $9.6b arbitral award against Nigeria.

The petition was filed by Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), whose Chairman, Comrade Suraj Olanrewaju, was invited by the CCB to adopt the petition on oath.

The CCB demanded evidence of any alleged infraction that might have been committed by Justice Belgore from HEDA.

The group accused Belgore of alleged conflict of interest and violation of Section 5 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of the 1999 Constitution.

It added: “Based on the foregoing, it is succinct to point out the basis for this petition. From the above relayed, there is a clear case of conflict of interest which is backed up constitutionally by the Code of Conduct for Public Officers. Specifically, Section 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which states that a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.

“Section 5 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of the 1999 Constitution goes further and directly prohibits former presidents, vice presidents, Chief Justices of Nigeria, governors and Deputy Governors from working for foreign companies or enterprises. The former CJN falls under this category and also is still the chairman of the National Merit Honour Award Committee, which confers him with a sense of patriotism and loyalty to the country.

“It can be concluded, without equivocation, that drafters of the Constitution understand the weight of the offices occupied by the prohibited officers and the potential implication of actions such as that taken by the former CJN.

“The act he allegedly committed is grave and amounts to a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, thereby violating the provisions of the Constitution.

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$9.6bn Judgment Debt:Nigeria heads for UK Appeal Court



The battle between Nigeria and Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) over the bid to stop the company from attaching the country’s assets to recoup the $9.6 billion arbitral claim it secured last month, is set to shift to the United Kingdom Appeal Court.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Thursday signified the intention of the federal government to head to the UK Appeal Court shortly after the UK Commercial Court ordered a stay of execution of the $9.6 billion claim, arising from a failed gas deal between the two parties which led to arbitration.

Mr. Justice Butcher had last month affirmed the arbitral claim but fixed yesterday for hearing of an application by P&ID seeking the leave of the court to attach some assets of Nigeria for a seizure to recoup the $9.6 billion arbitral claim.

It was, however, learnt that the claim would have hit a double-digit mark as interest on the original $6.5 billion the arbitration panel granted P&ID, which ballooned to $9.6 billion in August when the UK court affirmed the arbitral award, is being calculated at the rate of $1.2 million daily, minus weekends.

In its ruling yesterday, the court, which, however, upheld the claim and refused Nigeria’s plea to set it aside, said the suspension of its decision to grant P&ID’s request to seize Nigerian assets would last till the determination of the appeal by the federal government.

It, however, asked the government to make a security payment of $200million to the court within 60 days.

But Malami said besides seeking to quash the company’s bid to make any claim, Nigeria would also consider the possibility of challenging the legality of the $200 million security deposit within the 60-day window.

P&ID secured the damages against Nigeria following a failed Gas Supply Project Agreement (GSPA) contract between it and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Malami, in a brief from London, sent to reporters in Abuja, said: “Leave to appeal has been granted. Stay of execution is also granted subject to payment of $200m security payment to court pending the determination of the appeal the leave for which has been granted by the commercial court.

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