For dismissing the petition of the Action Alliance (AA), which challenged his election of February 25, 2023 for Bende Federal Constituency of Abia State, deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has commended the Court of Appeal
It will be recalled that the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the State Capital had in August, struck out the petition of AA because the party’s candidate in the election, Ifeanyi Chukwuka Igbokwe told the panel that he did not file any legal suit against Kalu and subsequently alleged impersonation.
The candidate later petitioned the Police and the Department of the State Service (DSS), calling for the arrest and prosecution of his impersonators.
While the security agencies were yet to arrest the impersonators, the party filed an appeal on the matter.
Last week, Sahara Reporters published a report, alleging that Kalu was behind the petition to arrest the party leaders.
But on Sunday, October 15, Igbokwe at a press conference insisted he never filed an appeal against Kalu, urging the police to go after his impersonators.
In its ruling on Thursday, October 19, 2023, the appeal court struck out the matter, describing it as a mere academic exercise.
Upholding the Deputy Speaker’s election, the court further noted that the time limit provided by Section 285 of the Constitution on the appeal has elapsed, stating that it lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
In his reaction to the judgement, Kalu in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Levinus Nwabughiogu expressed gratitude to the judiciary for displaying highest form of legal ingenuity in determining the case.
Ultimately, Kalu thanked God “for giving him victory in the election petitions brought against him.”
He also reiterated his commitment and dedication to duty, adding that “the judgement which has now marked the end to the legal voyages in the aftermath of the 2023 general has buoyed him up for better service to his Bende federal constituency and Nigeria in general.”
Levinus Nwabughiogu, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Stakeholders in FCT Area Councils, Share N4,966bn allocation
The six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other stakeholders have received the sum of N4,966, 217, 872.99 as share of statutory allocation for the month of October, 2023.
Special adviser on Media to the FCT Minister of State, Austine Elemue in a statement on Monday indicated that the ministed
FCT Minister of State, Dr. Mariya Mahmoud, presided over the 182nd Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC), meeting he quoted the minister to have commended members for their attendance and their invaluable contributions over the years.
She, also used the occasion to appeal to the Department of Outdoors Advertisement and Signage (DOAS) to work in synergy with the six area council authorities with a view to improving revenue generation in the territory.
The minister who cautioned against friction among the revenue generating departments, however, observed that with collaboration, the Administration stands to gain more in its internal revenue generation.
The breakdown of the figures released during the JAAC meeting indicates that the sum of N2,434,932,198.95 was made available for distribution to the six area councils, while the sum of N2,531,285,674.04 was made available to other stakeholders, bringing the total sum to N4,966,217,872.99.
Similarly, distributions to the six area councils shows that the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), received N517,549709.29, while Gwagwalada got N407,277,974.82 and Kuje received N445,799,336.65.
Other area councils include, Bwari Area Council which received N390,047,987.63, Abaji got N363,856,716.08 while Kwali received N406,753,949.57 bringing the total sum to N2,531,285,674.04 disbursed to the six area councils.
On the other hand, distribution to other critical stakeholders include: Primary School Teachers which gulped N2,050,941,625.03, 15 percent Pension Funds took N226,478,989.57, One percent Training Fund gulped N49,662,178.73, while 10 percent Employer Pension Contribution gulped N107,849,405.63, bringing the total sum to N2,434,932,198.95.
Those present at the 182nd Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) meeting include the FCTA Permanent Secretary, Mr. Olusade Adesola, Mandate Secretary Area Council Services, Hon. Bitrus Garki, and the Director of Finance and Administration in Area Council Secretariat, Mrs. Omolola Olanipekun.
Others include the Chairman of Kwali area council, Hon. Danladi Chiya, Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council, Hon. Christopher Zaka, Chairman of Gwagwalada Area Councils, Hon. Abubakar Giri, amongst others.
AGF worries over delayed releases for 2023 Budget affecting performance
***advocates for funds to charter aircraft to convey judges for their safety
The Attorney General of the Federation and minister of Justice Lateef O. Fagbemi has raised concern that his ministry only got releases for Capital expenditure in the 2023 budget on the 1st of December 2023, less than 30 days to the end of the fiscal year.
The minister who spoke on Monday when he appeared before the senate committee on Judiciary said in the outgoing budget cycle for 2023, the Ministry was allocated N3,321,283.533.00 as Capital Budget and N4,688,847,054.00 as Recurrent Budget.
He said with less than 30 days to the end of the financial year, the Ministry has only had releases of N617,456,896.00 for capital expenditure and N2,734,110,775.62 for recurrent expenditure.
The senator Muhammed Tahiru Munguno led committee on judiciary was taken aback with revelations from the Minister as they asked rhetorically whether the budget has failed and will be pushed forward to the 2024 Budget as there is no way Capital projects can be executed in Less than 30 days to the end of 2023.
They therefore asked the minister to take a bow and go as there is more work for the committee.
Continuing, the minister said the foregoing has greatly constrained the performance of the Ministry in its mandate areas adding that they are quite determined to achieve a paradigm shift in 2024, wherein the Ministry has been allocated N5,341,356,849.00 as
capital expenditure and N8,860,880,311.10 as recurrent expenditure in the 2024 budget proposal.
“From my first-hand assessment of the justice sector upon assumption of office, it Is obvious to me that a major challenge in the sector is underfunding.
“This critical sector requires significant Investments for us to drive the much-needed legal and judicial reforms, achieve Satisfactory compliance with human rights, democratic governance, the rule of law, etc.”
Making reference to the Budget speech presented by President Bola Tinubu, he said emphasis was placed on defence, security, law enforcement, property and investments, amongst other critical areas.
“These are areas wherein the relevance and role of the Federal Ministry of Justice are being under estimated
“I wish to reiterate the fact that in furtherance of the constitutional mandate of the Attorney-General of the Federation as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, the Ministry has been providing legal and non-kinetic support for combating insecurity through counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering measures, prosecution and proscription of persons involved in terrorism, and other high-profile crimes.
“Our administration is keen on promoting investments and creating opportunities for economic development. For this to be achieved, a reliable, consistent and developed legal system is a sine qua non.
“The Ministry has since transitioned from its traditional roles to playing active roles in the economy and security sectors through the strategic deployment of the instrumentality of the law. In order for the nation to derive maximum benefits from the functions and potentials of the Ministry, there is a dire need for an upward review of funding for the Ministry and by extension the funds earmarked or proposed as Capital and Recurrent (Overhead) Expenditures for the Ministry in the 2024 Budget Proposal.
He highlighted some of the critical mandate areas of the Ministry for which it is pleading with the committee to empower the Ministry with further legislative and budgetary support.
“It is quite fundamental for the Ministry to be empowered to drive the current administration’s roadmap for the justice sector (legal and judicial reforms) which is one of the vital priority areas under the President’s eight Priorities/Focus Areas.
“The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation requires funding to perform its role of coordinating and oversighting the entire legal or justice sector institutions in Nigeria.
“The Attorney-General of the Federation is also saddled with onerous responsibilities in the implementation of vital legislations including the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022, Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015, Extradition Act, etc and other international treaty obligations.
He noted that the process of proscription and prosecution of terror suspects and entities entails considerable funding inclusive of catering for the logistics and welfare of judges, prosecutors, support staff, witnesses, and provision of security for the trial, etc.
“In order to ensure the security and confidence of the judicial officers coupled with the location of the trial, the Ministry is required to charter aircrafts to air lift them.
“The Ministry is also spending considerable resources on provision or upgrading of infrastructural facilities at the various venues to make them fit for purpose.
“Whilst the Ministry has been promoting the policy of having State Counsels in the Ministry handle more cases on behalf of the government, there are instances where the need to engage senior external solicitors becomes inevitable.
“Thus, greater funding is required to increase the capacity and boost the moral of State Counsels through regular payment of duty tour allowances, robe allowances, etc,
“The professional fees of the private solicitors also need to be settled, The Ministry is also involved in defending the country in international litigation and arbitration which are by their nature very expensive to prosecute or defend in terms of payment of administrative fees to tribunals, professional fees to solicitors, expert fees, etc.
“These cases usually arise after the closure of the budget preparation and passage process, which means the Ministry is unable to make specific budgetary request for funding the cases. There is therefore a need for the Ministry to be provided with adequate funding line or reserve to address these cases.
He explained further that there are already backlogs of obligations which needs to be cleared in order to sustain the current efforts of the Ministry in reducing government’s exposure to judgment debts as well as ensuring that implementation of government policies/projects are not hindered by litigation. It is to be noted that some of the unpaid claims unfortunately have been outstanding since 2007.
“The Ministry is also currently defending over – 2000 cases, with huge potential liabilities, on behalf of FGN and its MDAs. These cases require diligent prosecution and effective defence to avoid embarrassment and enforcement actions.
Earlier, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Mohammmed Mongonu (Borno North) said the main aim of the meeting was to ask the Minister to give them a review of the 2023 budget in line with the constitutional responsibility that gives the parliament the power to oversight ministries departments and agencies (MDAs) with a view to ensure that Nigerians get value for money and to ensure transparency and accountability in the utilisation of funds that were given to you.
He assured that the Committee will work with the office of Attorney General to review the laws of the federation because laws are not supposed to be static, they are supposed to be organic that supposed to change with the changing society.
“Laws are organic and not supposed to be static. Most of our laws are obsolete hence the Senate is to work closely with the office of the AGF to review our laws that are outdated or repeal.”
Protesters vow to occupy Nasarawa till Supreme Court delivers justice
Coalition of women groups has vowed to continue in their struggle to demand for justice until the Supreme Court deliver justice in the governorship dispute in Nasarawa state.
The group in their doggedness embarked on four kilometers match from the ‘Welcome to Lafia’ entry gate carrying placards with different inscriptions, Count every vote, protect democracy in Nasarawa State, injustice kills democracy, Appeal Court has failed us, Supreme Court review BVAS records of Gayam and Ciroma Electoral Wards.
The group included Nasarawa Indigenous Peoples Movement, (NIPM) Wind of Transformations, (WOT), Nasarawa State Christian/Muslim Coalition for Peace.
From Daniel Abel, Lafia
Speaking at the end of the protest, Helen Dalyop said they have been on the streets for the past six months demanding for their rights since the wrong pronouncement of the result of governorship election in March.
She said that they were called all categories of provocative names, but that does not mean anything to them because they are all responsible parents.
She added that nobody is sponsoring them and they were doing all this because of the love they have for the state and for better future.
“We are out on a peaceful protest and prayer seeking God’s intervention on our matter and we believe that we will smile at last.
Mummy Barau from Akwanga Local Government Area said they transport themselves everyday from Akwanga to Lafia just to ensure that they liberate themselves and thier children.
She added that they had voted for David Ombugadu of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the March 18 governorship election and not Gov. Abdullahi Sule of All Progressives Congress (APC).
She explained that if votes would not count then what is the essence of wasting tax payers money in conducting elections.
Similarly, Juliana Affiku from Lafia called on the Supreme Court to review the BVAS records of Gayam and Ciroma Electoral Wards of Lafia before passing its judgment to ensure that justice is seen to have been done.
She appealed to judges of the apex court to save democracy from collapse by refusing to succumb to pressure from any person or group of persons in compromise.
It could be recalled that the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday, November 23 had set aside the judgment of the tribunal of Oct. 2 and declared Gov. Abdullahi Sule of All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of March 18 governorship election.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party had since filed an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the verdict to the Court of Appeal.
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