The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Mukhtar, on Monday faulted the prosecution of the anti-corruption campaign in the country,describingit as a “gun-war” that is being fought withbows and arrows.
The CJN also warned that the manner in which the anti-graft war was being fought could turn those being prosecuted into heroes, while turning the fighters into victims.
Mukhtar spoke at the opening session of a seminar organised by the NigerianBar Association Anti-Corruption Commission.
The theme of the seminar is ‘Practical Ways to Combat Corruption in the Justice Sector in Nigeria’.
While admitting that Nigeria was not the only country afflicted by corruption, the CJN observed that the anti-corruption campaign in the country was manipulated by both the prosecutors of the campaign and the accused persons to gain personal and political points.
She said, “Anti-corruption war in Nigeria is like a gun-war being fought withbows and arrows. It is a war that can turn its fighters into victims and those being fought into heroes. It is a war that both sides manipulate to gain personal and political points. It is a ‘world’ of controversies, politics, extensive debates and high public exclamations.”
She noted that successive administrations had initiated measures to combat corruption, particularly with the establishment of the anti-graft agencies – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission – which she described as “bodies established for the same purpose but through different modalities.”
But despite the establishment of the EFCC and ICPC, the CJN stressed that the battle was not yet over, and advocated a need “to look inwards as corruption has eaten deep into the systemic strata of the country.”
Mukhtar expressed regrets that the judiciary, which should be held in the highest esteem, had also been infected with the “virus” of corruption.
NBA President, Mr. Okey Wali, SAN, in an address at the event, noted that the judiciary was not doing enough in the anti-corruption campaign.
The NBA President accused some judicial officers taking bribes.
Meanwhile, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr.Mohammed Adoke, said the Federal Government would soon put in place a National Anti-Corruption Strategy.
He said the government was backing the ongoing cleansing of the judiciary by the CJN.
He however urged the NBA to rid the bar of corrupt elements to make the ongoing reforms of the judiciary meaningful.
Adoke said this in an address at the opening of the seminar.
Two months into a nationwide strike bypolytechnic lecturers, Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Monday, began a nationwide strike over alleged Federal Government’s refusal to implement the agreement between it and the union over unpaid entitlements, its National President, Dr. Nasir Fagge, has said.
Polytechnics lecturers are also on strike due to alleged non-implementation of agreements and lack of infrastructure in their institutions.
Fagge spoke in an interview with newsmen, yesterday, at the University of Lagos, UNILAG, after the union’s National Executive Council, NEC, meeting at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.
He said: “We are embarking on an indefinite strike nationwide becauseFederal Government reneged on the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed with ASUU in 2009 to pay lecturers their EARN allowances.”
According to Fagge, Federal Government, in 2009 signed an agreement to pay each lecturer N12,500 per month as EARN allowance, which it has not done since then.
He said: “The allowances include excess work load, high carriage of student per lecturer, responsibility allowance, ranging from administrative responsibility borne by lectures for example, as Head of Department, Deans of Faculties, Examination Officers, Course Advisers and Supervision of thesis.
“The highest any lecture gets from this allowance is N12,500 per month. The truth is that since 2009 no lecturer has been paid any allowance apart from his salary.”
Fagge explained that when the non-payment of allowance was brought to the notice of Federal Government, it said that it forgot to include it in the budget and promised to make amends in subsequent but never did.
Before the commencement of strike, Fagge noted that the union held several meetings with officials of the Federal Government on the issue but regretted that government did not take the union seriously.
He said: “We went ahead to go on a warning strike and they never did anything to avert the industrial action.
“We had series of interaction with the Federal Government at the national level, but to the dismay of ASUU, the government recently came with a new position that they can not pay more than 50 percent of the agreed amount
“It had earlier been reduced to 80 percent by the union.
“Between December and January 2011, the union suspended its industrial action over ASUU/FG agreements. Within the period, the union had series of meetings with Federal Government.
“When the strike was suspended two and half years ago, there was an MoU signed with the Federal Government.
“In the MoU, the Federal Government agreed to inject funds to uplift the infrastructure in the universities which it never did.”
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that the appointment of all Service Chiefs by the President is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void without the approval of the Senate.
Justice Adamu Bello, rulingon a suit filed by Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo challenging theappointments, on Monday,declared that the President of Nigeria cannot appoint service chiefs without the approval of the Senate.
Justice Bello then restrained the President from further appointing them except in consultationwith the National Assembly.
Untill this ruling, the President is at liberty to appoint or sack Service Chiefs.
The Service Chiefs include the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Army Staff.
When contacted for the Presidency’s reaction to the ruling, the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Dr Reuben Abati stated that “the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice was still studying the ruling.”
The case was instituted in 2008 by Mr Keyamo against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation and all service chiefs asking the court to determine whether going by the interpretation of the provisions of Section 218 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A.20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, if the Nigerian President can appoint the service chiefs of the Federation, namely, the Chief of Air Staff, the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff, without the confirmation of the National Assembly first sought and obtained.
He also asked the court to determine whether Section 18 (1) & (2) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A.20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 is not in conformity with the provision of the 1999 Constitution so as to fall within the category of existing laws under Section 315 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, that the President, may, by Order, modify its text, to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.
Keyamo had approached the court following the appointment of service chiefs by late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua within his first year of assuming leadership of the country after his election at the 2007 Presidential election.
The Judge agreed with the plaintiff as he ruled a mandatory order for the President to seek and obtain the approval of the National Assembly in the appointment of service chiefs failure of which the appointment becomes illegal, unconstitutional and void.
Furthermore, the court held that section 18 (1) & (2) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A.20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, is in conformity with theprovisions of the 1999 Constitution so as not to fall within the category of existing laws under Section 315 (2) – of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, that the President, may, by order, modify its text, to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.
The court however declined the third prayer of Mr Keyamo, which sought the court to order the service chiefs appointed by the late President to vacate their offices noting that the relief had been overtaken by event as none of them is still in service.
When in June 2013, Olayinka Kolawole gainedadmission to Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun State, to readMass Communication, his familyand friends rejoiced with him.
This was because Kolawole had been trying for three years to further his education after finishing from Sam Glory Secondary School, Ejigbo, Lagos.
However, the family was thrown into mourning a few days later after the 20-year-old was allegedly killed by policemen attached to Ejigbo Division.
The father of the deceased, Prophet Omisande Kolawole, told PUNCH Metrothat the incident occurred on June 15, 2013.
Narrating what transpired on the fateful day, Omisande said his son had gone to attend a friend’s birthday party but was killed on his way home.
He said, “My son went out to attend his friend’s birthday party not too far from our home. He said he would not stay long and we told him not to stay out too long. The following day, which was a Sunday, we did not see or hear from him and we began to panic.
“Later we heard that police embarked on a raid the previous night. We even thought he had been arrested. His mother, Grace Kolawole, and her nephew, Segun Adio, went to the Ejigbo Police Division but they were told that therewere no suspects in their cell.
“However, residents told us that they had seen my son’s corpse being conveyed by policemen. After about three hours later, the policemen opened up and told us that my son had been killed. My wife immediately fainted.”
Omisande said even after his wife had been revived, the police refused to take her statement as well as the statement of Adio, her nephew.
He said Adio and other residents set out to investigate what actually happened and it was discovered that his son was killed by a stray bullet which emanated from the gun of a policeman popularly known as Oba.
He said, “We were told that around 8pm on the fateful day, Titan Hotel, located at Asaolu Close, was holding an event tagged Ladies’ night. At thehotel, one policeman popularly known as Oba was having a drink and dancing with a lady.
“We learnt that Oba left the hotel premises to receive a telephone call but on returning to the hotel, Oba got into a fight with a youth over the lady he wasdancing with. The altercation degenerated into fisticuffs and Oba ran out of the premises and called his colleagues for back-up.
“When his colleagues arrived at the scene, a shoot-out ensued. During the shooting, my son, who was on his way home from another party was hit in the head by a stray bullet and died instantly.”
Omisande said since his son’s killing, life had not been the same. He said his wife was hospitalised and was only recently discharged.
The deceased’s mother, Grace, who spoke to PUNCH Metro while fighting back tears, said everything was still like a dream.
“Olayinka was the first of my three children. My other children are still young and it feels as if all my labour has been in vain. I want justice for his death,” she said.
Omisande described his son as a responsible boy and wondered why the police would attempt to cover up his murder.
“The policemen at Ejigbo prevented us from seeing the Divisional Police Officer. We are being treated with comtempt because we are not rich. All we want is justice for our son’s murder.”
When contacted on the telephone, the spokesperson for the state policecommand, Ngozi Braide, confirmed Olayinka’s murder.
She said the matter would be transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba, for further investigation.
She said, “The DPO told me that around 2am on the said date, they received a distress call that cult members were fighting. On getting to the scene, the cult members fled but policemen discovered the young man’s corpse.
“The father of the deceased told the DPO that one policeman identified as Oba was responsible for his son’s death. However, we have not been able to get the actual identity of the policeman. We are transferring the case to the SCID for further investigation.
“We are however calling on eyewitnesses to come forward and we promise that their identities will be protected.”
Ekiti State Government says it has opened a black book, called the Sexual OffendersRegister, to compile a list of convicted sexual offenders inthe state.
A statement on Monday said the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Olawale Fapohunda, said this during a visit of the Gender-based Violence Prohibition Law management committee.
The team was led by the wife of the Governor, Mrs. Bisi Fayemi, in her capacity as the chairperson of the committee; and Commissioner for Women Affairs, Social Development and Gender Empowerment, Mrs. Fola Richie-Adewusi.
The commissioner said the sexual offenders register would ensure that perpetrators were ostracised from the society.
Fapohunda said, “This step will serve as a deterrent to men who find pleasure in assaulting women and young girls.”
He told the visitors that the ministry was proposing a bill on rights of personswith disability, especially women and children, adding that works on the EqualOpportunities Bill had reached an advanced stage.
Fayemi urged the commissioner to assign GBV-related cases to lawyersadequately trained for the purpose and who are sensitive to gender issues.
She also called for the retention of such lawyers for a reasonable period of time as prosecuting GBV counsel before they are transferred to other departments of the ministry.
Governor of the state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had on November 25, 2011, signed into law the gender-based violence bill, which was initiated and promoted by his wife.
As part of efforts to strengthen the new Law, the delegation had paid similar advocacy visits to the Vice Chancellor, Ekiti State University, Prof. Oladipo Aina; state command’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sotonye Wakama; and Chief Judge, Justice Ayodeji Daramola.
Workers, under the aegis of OronUrban DevelopmentAssociation, Akwa Ibom State, are atloggerheadswith the Chairman, OronLocal GovernmentArea, Mr. Orman Esin, over the sacking of 64 workers.
The workers said their trouble started when they demanded their nine monthsunpaid salaries from Esin.
It was learnt that during the last environmental sanitation, the chairman allegedly gave the workers N500 each as transport fare, but the workers rejected it.
It was further learnt that Esin was embarrassed by the workers’ action and allegedly decided to sack them.
A supervisor, Mr. Esin Williams, told our correspondent that the council owed some of them salaries for between six and nine months.
Williams said, “We are not happy. The chairman is insensitive to our plight as family men and women. Some of us have not received salaries for the pastnine months.
“The problem started when we asked Esin to pay us our salaries or we stop work. Instead of him to address us and pay us for some months; the only answer we could get from him was that we had insulted him and that 64 of us have been sacked.
Another worker, who pleaded anonymity, said they (workers) rejected the offer of N500 because it was a far cry from their predicament.
He said, “The next thing we heard from the chairman was that our services were no longer needed.
“We are giving him one week to pay us our money or else we do it in a traditional way.”
The workers later marched in protest to the palace of the paramount Ruler of Oron, Offong Odiong Akan. The monarch promised to carry their message to the Chairman, adding that he would get back to the aggrieved workers after his meeting with him (Esin).
All efforts to get Esin to react to the allegation were unsuccessful as he neither answered calls to his telephone line nor replied to the text messages sent to him.