07 Mar

Electoral Act: Presidency Intensifies Lobby to Defeat NASS Vote to Override Veto

Two weeks after the transmission of the amended Electoral Act to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, the presidency has intensified efforts to defeat the plan by the National Assembly to override the anticipated presidential veto of the Act.

The lobby is intended to ensure that the required two-thirds majority votes of the 469 federal lawmakers, comprising 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives, is not secured.
This is just as a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has dragged the federal legislature to court in Enugu challenging the Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly altering the election sequence.

The lawmakers on February 14 had voted in both legislative houses to change the sequencing of general elections for the presidential election to be conducted last, instead of first, as is the current practice.

The amendment, which is expected to weaken the bandwagon effect of presidential elections on the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, has allegedly not been well received by President Muhammadu Buhari, who believes it is targeted at weakening him in the 2019 presidential polls.

It is therefore widely anticipated that the president would withhold his assent to the amendment of Section 25 of the Electoral Act, which provides for the National Assembly elections to be conducted first, followed by the governorship and state assemblies, while the presidential poll will be conducted last, all on separate days.

The president, who is required to give reasons for withholding his assent to any bill, is expected to state that the amendment to the Electoral Act, is in conflict with Sections 76(1), 132(1) and 178(1) of the Constitution, which specifically empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to set the dates for the elections into the National Assembly, Office of Governor, and President.

The Senate and House spokespersons, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi and Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas have, however, indicated the readiness of both legislatures to override the president, if he declines assent.

The president, according to Section 58(4) of the Constitution, has 30 days, from the time a bill is presented to him, to give assent or indicate that he is withholding his assent.

Section 58(5), however, provides that “where the president withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by both Houses by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the president shall not be required”.

But THISDAY gathered that the backlash that followed some of the lawmakers, who vocally criticised the amendment of the Electoral Act in the Senate, was also worrisome for the presidency, as the lobby was expected to be more successful in the Senate as opposed to the House where the amendment originated from.

Senator Adamu Abdullahi was suddenly removed as chairman of the influential Northern Senators’ Forum, while Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was mandated to appear before the Committee on Ethics and Privileges over his comments that the amendment was targeted at the president.

Lawmakers who spoke with THISDAY off record at the weekend, however, believe that the requisite two-thirds votes would be secured, despite the efforts of the presidency.

“It is two-thirds of the 469 that is required, not two-thirds of each chamber. So it is possible. We would simply call a joint session. It has been done before when the legislature overrode the veto of the President Olusegun Obasanjo on the NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission) Bill in year 2000,” a lawmaker explained.

“It is likely to pass as long as the House of Representatives is in support of overriding the veto. And this current House is willing, I can assure you.

“Many of the members are really angry and they have reasons to be. So, even if we are unable to get many Senators on board, as we expect the EFCC to go after some senators in the coming days over past corruption cases when they were governors, we will get to override the veto,” he said.

The lawmaker further pointed out that the opposition to the president was not really about the Electoral Act, but about his perceived hostility to the legislature and his manner of governance generally.

A lawmaker from one of the North-central states also disclosed that chieftains of the APC were being enlisted to lobby their “people” in both legislative chambers.

“Unfortunately for those (chieftains) deployed from our area, the president has lost the confidence of North-central zone. The manner he has handled the Benue killings and attacks by herdsmen in other states, show that he is isolated from reality. Defeating his veto on any bill, not just the Electoral Act, would show him that he has no base in this parliament, which he does not have good relations with anyway.

“He has refused to release the zonal intervention funds, which has killed the re-election bid of some lawmakers in 2019. So such lawmakers already know they have nothing to lose,” he said.

Another lawmaker from the North-west explained that the president has remained aloof in the face of governors on the platform of the party battling federal lawmakers from their states, and has refused to intervene in several internal crises which had deeply polarised the party.

“If he asks my state governor to speak to me and the other members, how can that work when we do not see eye to eye. There is hardly any APC state where the party is not in disarray, how would any emergency fence mending work?” the lawmaker wondered.

Another lawmaker added that the gloves were completely off in the hostile relations between the two arms of government, then proceeded to enumerate the missteps of the president.

“We told the president to call his overzealous and disrespectful aides to order, yet there was no action; we refused to confirm someone, yet no action; we asked for constituency funds, that one is a tussle completely ignored. We are tired of this hot and cold relationship, it is enough.

“We were elected by our people, not by the president. So, when they try to remind us that some people here (in the legislature) rode on the back of the president in the 2015 APC tsunami, we tell them it is not necessarily a bad thing for everyone to independently test his popularity. It is better for our democracy,” he said.

N’Assembly Dragged to Court

But just as the National Assembly appeared to be set on overriding Buhari’s anticipated veto of the Electoral Act, a stalwart of the APC, Chief Anike Nwoga at the weekend filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Enugu, challenging the bill passed by the National Assembly.

The party chieftain also prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining the president from assenting to the bill.

Nwoga, who is the zonal vice chairman of the APC in Enugu East senatorial district, filed the suit on Friday through his lawyer, Godwin Onwusi.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

In his motion on notice, supported by a 25-paragraph affidavit, Nwoga is insisting that no action should be taken on the bill, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The motion on notice was brought pursuant to Orders 26 and 28 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

Aside the National Assembly, which was listed as the 1st defendant/respondent, others listed as 2nd to 4th defendants/respondents in the suit numbered: FHC/EN/CS/28/2018, were the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the president and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Apart from the prayer for interlocutory injunction restraining the president from assenting to the bill re-ordering the election sequence, Nwoga is also praying for an order of interlocutory injunction, restraining the National Assembly from overriding the president’s veto, should he decide to veto the bill, and re-ordering the sequence of the elections, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The plaintiff equally asked for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining INEC from complying with the sequence of elections contained in the bill passed by the National Assembly and such further orders as the court may deem fit to make in the circumstances, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

Specifically, the plaintiff is asking the court to among other things to determine: “Whether the National Assembly in exercise of its lawmaking powers can make laws to compel INEC to exercise the powers to organise, undertake and supervise elections conferred on it by the constitution in a particular sequence.

“Whether the National Assembly, in exercise of her law making powers, can make a law to change the sequence of elections already adopted and published by INEC, pursuant to the powers conferred on it by the Constitution.

“Upon the determination of the questions, the plaintiff urged the court to make the following orders: A declaration that the National Assembly cannot make laws to compel INEC to exercise the powers conferred on it by the Constitution to conduct elections in a particular order.

“A declaration that the bill passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly, which altered the sequence of the 2019 elections, already adopted and published by INEC pursuant to the powers conferred on it by the Constitution, is a usurpation of the constitutional powers of INEC and hence unconstitutional.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd defendant from assenting to the bill changing the sequence of elections, already adopted and published by the 2nd defendant, when it is presented to him for assent.

“An order restraining the 2nd defendant from complying with the sequence contained in the bill or the law, if assented to by the 2nd respondent.

“Any further or other orders or consequential orders that the court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of the case.”

NFI Bill for Passage

Meanwhile, in a bid to avert Nigeria’s explosion from the Egmont Group and save the financial sector from being blacklisted in the international community, the National Assembly is set to pass the Nigeria Financial Intelligence (NFI) Bill this week.

This was confirmed by the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on his twitter handle on yesterday evening.

The bill is expected to be passed on Tuesday and transmitted immediately to Buhari for his assent ahead of the next plenary meeting of the Egmont Group coming up on March 12, 2018.

The bill had been delayed over a disagreement at the conference committee level when the Senate and House Committees on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption failed to agree on the domiciliation of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), which is currently in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

However, following the intervention of Saraki and the Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, it was agreed that the unit would be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Senator Chukwuka Utazi last Thursday had accused his House counterpart, Hon. Kayode Oladele, of frustrating efforts of the conference committee to conclude work on the bill, an allegation which the latter refuted.

Saraki, however, assured that the leadership of the legislature would intervene in the matter.

On his twitter handle Sunday, he said: “Following my meeting on Thursday with Speaker @YakubDogara, the chairman @NGRSenate Committee on Anti-Corruption and @HouseNGR Chairman on Financial Crimes, the conference committee meeting for the NFIU Bill will hold tomorrow (Monday) and the report presented in both chambers on Tuesday.

“I am confident that we will pass the NFIU Bill this week,” Saraki said.

Nigeria was suspended from the Egmont Group, a network of the financial intelligence units of 152 countries, following the nation’s failure to grant operational and financial autonomy to the NFIU.

The country has a deadline until the next meeting of the group to meet the requirements, or be expelled from the group.

The Egmont Group provides a platform for sharing criminal intelligence and financial information bordering on money laundering, terrorism financing, proliferation of arms, corruption, financial crimes, economic crimes and similar offences geared towards the support of local and international investigations, prosecutions and asset recovery.

Nigeria was fully admitted into the body in 2007 after operational admittance in 2005

Source: This Day

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06 Mar

N/Assembly sued over elections sequence

A top member of the APC, Chief Anike Nwoga, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Enugu challenging the bill passed by the National Assembly which changed the sequence of the 2019 elections.
Nwoga, who is the Zonal Vice Chairman of APC in Enugu East Senatorial District, filed the suit on Friday, March 2, 2018, through his lawyer, Godwin Onwusi Esq.

In his motion on notice supported by a 25-paragraph affidavit, Nwoga prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from assenting to the bill passed by the National Assembly changing the sequence of the 2019 elections when it is presented to him for assent pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The motion on notice was brought pursuant to Orders 26 and 28 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009; and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
Besides the National Assembly which was listed as the first defendant/respondent, others listed as second and to fourth defendants/respondents were INEC, the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Aside the prayer for interlocutory injunction restraining the president from assenting to the bill, Nwoga also prayed for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the National Assembly from overriding the president’s veto should he decide to veto the bill.
A date was yet to be fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Source: DailyTrust

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06 Mar

YIAGA Africa Urges Improved Monitoring of Budget for Women

Fresh from reviewing the 2018 budget allocation for youth development which it describes as unrealistic and insufficient, YIAGA Africa has lauded the increased programmes targeted at women and girls while urging the improved monitoring and evaluation of such allocations as sometimes funds are not expended in reality. This is contained in the report of the 2018 Budget Gender Review conducted by YIAGA Africa’s Centre for Legislative Engagement.

The review, which was presented by Barrister Stella Odiase to stakeholders at a validation meeting in Abuja, shows that for the first time within the past decade, more sectors like Health, Education Solid Minerals, Environment, Niger Delta and Communication Technology have included funding that targets women and girls specifically.

YIAGA Africa Programs Manager, Cynthia Mbamalu making a remark during the Gender Responsive Budget validation meeting

During the presentation, Barrister Odiase also revealed that some Ministries have, for the first time, included the implementation of sector policies that target gender disparities as part of their respective budgets in 2018. “For instance, there is funding to implement the gender policies of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Women Affairs have budgets for the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015”, she said.

The 2018 budget gender review which seeks to address the limitations that either gender faces when it comes to accessing public goods and services, also revealed that there are opportunities in every sector to improve the situation of women and girls during the implementation of generic programmes at little or no additional costs especially at the level of research and development, Monitoring and Evaluation, stakeholder consultations, skills transfer and training.

Meanwhile the 2018 budget has also retained the N500 billion Social Investment Portfolio (SIP) allocation for third fiscal year in a row, which presents an opportunity to further expand opportunities and access for women and girls. The SIP portfolio was introduced in 2015 by the Buhari Administration under the auspices of the Federal Government’s National Social Investment Office (NSIO).

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05 Mar

My Not-Too-Young-To-Run story – Maryam Laushi

“Fortune favors the brave”, it is commonly said. This quote aptly describes the journey of what has become a watershed moment in the movement to encourage inclusion and better participation of young people in politics in Nigeria as embodied by the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ movement.

For an organic movement that started with an unlikely band of 20 pioneer young fellows to grow exponentially to become one of the most powerful community mobilization efforts ever, for youth inclusion in Nigeria, NTYTR has greatly evolved over the past two years. This evolution has, in no small way been aided by the enthusiastic effort of so many different people in different places who joined along the way that it is difficult to even know each other.

I have thus come to realise that it is necessary to share my own experience to provide a better understanding of the movement, not in the general sense but from my specific perspective to provide an understanding of the beauty of this movement and, what we started out to do. Here is my story – one that I sometimes liken to be one of the most interesting adventures I have ever had.


This question has been the bane of this movement for me. In almost every interview or conversation I have had, the question of young people’s readiness always cropped up. Now, here is the issue with this: The question is based on a skewed thinking that, All young people are identical and behave in the same way. WRONG!

Young people have different goals, experiences, ideas and interests and so we cannot expect to answer that question directly. Some young people are ready and there are those who aren’t. However, I think people stray away from the main point of Not Too Young To Run when they ask that question. The right question to ask is this- does the movement encourage a more democratic Nigeria? The answer to that question is ‘yes’ because out of the tens of millions of people aged 18-35 in Nigeria, all are allowed to vote but not allowed by the constitution to contest for political office.

Isn’t it interesting that people who are trusted enough to join the army, defend the country, enter into legally binding contracts are constitutionally denied the right to run for elected office? NTYTR is not a promise that young people will solve all of Nigeria’s problems. Neither is it advocating for a complete change of guards from old to new. Rather, it is about giving young people the space to participate at all levels of the political process – the right for young people to vote and be voted for. This is the premise of an all-inclusive political process; one that we staunchly believe will improve and revolutionise the process in Nigeria. As we have seen in other countries in Africa and across the world, the inclusion of young people into the political process enhances rather than diminishes the delivery of good governance.

NOTE: If someone is qualified and trusted for the job, voters should not be deprived of that person as an option.

Think about the young man in Kenya, who at about 24 years old and still a student won a legislative seat. He did not win because he had money for posters, he reportedly went around neighbourhoods, door-to-door, to explain to people what he planned to do and that was how he won over their votes. The point of this story is to explain that at his young age, he had something of value to offer that his constituents found valuable enough so they chose him. This is the beauty of democracy.


Now, I want to tell the story of how I got involved with the Not Too Young To Run movement. I had been volunteering for YIAGA (Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement) – a dynamic and progressive youth led Civil Society Organisation. I started out as a volunteer for the ‘Young Legislators Accountability Program’ with YIAGA. Along the way, I remember receiving information about a bill to reduce the age to contest for elective office and being added to the WhatsApp Group where we had a clearer discussion on the bill and made contributions to what ages we all thought were appropriate until a final draft was developed.

This was the birth of the “Not Too Young Strategy Team” – a group of 20+ young persons convened by the seemingly quiet but very intelligent Samson Itodo with myself, Adeshola Komolafe, Bella Ann Ndubuisi, Chioma Chuka, Cynthia Mbamalu, Hamzat Lawal, Ibrahim Faruk, Jenny, Kenneth, Laz Uze Ede, Mark Amaza, Nana Nwachukwu, Runcie Chidebe, Safiya Bichi, Ukachi Chukwu, Yetunde Bakare, Moshood, Fatu Oguche, Stephanie Oyaide, Frederick Adetiba as the core pioneer members. Over the next few months and with the contributions of those of us in the core strategy team, the movement would take up a unique life of its own as we had initially set out to do.

Being quite active on social media, I did not hesitate in pushing discourses and engaging the online community on this salient issue. In doing this, many people may have had the (mis)conception that NotTooYoungToRun was an online movement when in fact; the real work was going on offline. Along the way, Not Too Young To Run grew so much that the press and policy makers could no longer ignore the movement. The movement gained public support from notable people such as the Rt Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives, The British High Commissioner, The Australian High Commission and even adoption of the movement by the United Nations Youth Envoy where we began to see it being discussed by young people in different countries.

What a lot of people don’t know is that the march to the National Assembly was not planned. Having heard so many stories of how the bill was not even going to be considered by the legislators, we felt we had no choice- within a short period of time, meetings held and the 5,000 man march was on.

A lot of work had gone into it by the time its success was recorded at the National Assembly and for the first time, I can comfortably speak for myself by saying I breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing that our effort had not been in vain and confident in the path that lay ahead of the movement. At this point, I must also thank Senator Nyako and Hon. Tony Nwulu for sponsoring this on the floors of the National Senate and National House of representatives respectively. Who knows where the movement would have been without this? Thank you for your courage at a time many didn’t give this a chance.

I must add this; the successes of the NTYTR movement could not have been possible if young Nigerians had not identified with the cause. It was something that so many people identified with from the start and it is equally commendable that the NTYTR Core Strategy Team set out from the start to ensure that ownership of the movement belonged to every young Nigerian. We wanted it to stay that way and still do. With the benefit of hindsight, this was a genius decision.

The Not Too Young To Run teams grew astronomically in States across the nation… it was clear that even with scarce resources, so many young people were willing to volunteer time and energy into ensuring this bill was passed. The members who were in the States around Nigeria were incredibly zealous. In fact, many of them wanted to travel to Abuja for the march that took place from Unity Fountain all the way to the entrance of the National Assembly in July 2017. That was a triumphant day for the movement and the multitude of people who walked in solidarity that day was nothing short of amazing.


Of course, after that success, people had a lot to say – some in favour but the sceptics were not left out either. There were false claims and false accusations even from people who were close enough to the strategy team to know better but that was to be expected for a movement that had grown to such a scale. It was so hard for them to believe that such a movement could grow so organically, it was an amazing feat to behold.

The swiftness and ease with which the many challenges faced were handled must have given a wrong impression that pushing this movement was a walk in the park but I must commend everyone who participated and ensured all hands were on deck to move the movement forward. You are the real heroes. Your work and effort ensured the movement is what it has become today.

At the next stage and after the National assembly voted on the amendment, 24 State Houses of Assembly out of 36 were constitutionally required to get the bill to its final stage for Presidential Assent. Initially, the voting process started out slow with so many negative assumptions that these bills would not pass in the required 24 States. Kastina, Borno, Adamawa, Nassarawa, Benue, Delta, Ondo, Kwara, Yobe, Ekiti and Enugu had passed it in no particular order when Taraba State House of Assembly voted ‘against’ it in a turn of events but engagement with the youths in Taraba State continued, in order to understand what went wrong.

In a commendable turn of events and a reflection of the power of the youth, 24 States had voted YES by the 13th of Febriary 2018 confirming that the stage was complete and paving the way for the president’s assent. Still, it was important for all States to show their support and show that they were youth friendly by making sure to represent the desires of the Nigerian youth they represent. Taraba State House of Assembly reconsidered the bill after several advocacy initiatives by young people in the state and they overturned their earlier ‘NO’ vote.

As we await the votes from other States, it is my sincere and humble request that they carefully consider the clamour among the youths they represent for this bill to a success. It is important that all other States which are yet to vote confirm that they fully align with the aspirations of Nigerian youth. After observing the efforts of State Coordinators and volunteers all across Nigeria, one must commend their audaciousness and commitment that made this movement an even bigger force than was ever expected. As we await presidential assent, I am confident that the state coordinators and volunteers will keep pushing for 36 out of 36 because every Nigerian youth in every state deserves that chance.

We are at the final stage now, which requires President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill. Mr. President, history will forever be in your favour if you listen to the yearnings of the Nigerian Youth who make up the single largest voting bloc in this country.

Nigerian youths have agreed to march to your official residence, Ask Rock, on 14th March 2018 as a request for your Excellency to take this bill into consideration and we humbly look forward to positive results.

We are tired of sitting on the sidelines. Young Nigerians will, God willing, be able to run for political office in the upcoming 2019 elections if you act quick. Will you align with us on the positive side of history?

The youth aren’t only ‘Not Too Young’ To Run but also ‘Ready to Run’ and able to perform. The time to act is now.

History will be made!

There are so many stories of how things happened behind the scenes that I am not able to tell but the truth is.. so many young people worked tirelessly to make this movement come to life and continue moving.

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05 Mar

Appraising ‘not too young to run’ campaign

MOST people say politics is a dirty game, but the truth of the matter is that, for better or for worse, decisions made by politicians affect our lives. Their decisions could mean there is more money in our bank accounts, and it could also mean premature death for some of us if, for instance, they plunge our nation into a state of war! Because of the enormous powers wielded by politicians, not least the elected ones, it would be foolish not to be interested in the sanity and maturity of their members. It is precisely because of this that constitutionalists, even when they are not prepared to throw themselves in the mud with politicians, dissipate much energy in prescribing qualifications for the power elite at different levels of political governance.

Age prescription, in particular, is universal in most democratic nations with written constitutions. In the United States of America, for instance, there are varying minimum age requirements for the president (35), senator (30) and member of the House of Representatives (25). In spite of the generous minimum age prescribed for the president, the youngest elected President in the more than 200 years of America’s democracy was John F. Kennedy at the age of 43. And because it is taken for granted that those who aspire into high profile elective positions would be more likely than not to be educated, educational requirement is hardly included in the constitution.

There is a lot of premium on age in the Nigerian society. The “I am older than you” attitude knows no ethnic or religious boundary. It was therefore not surprising that when our constitutionalists copied the American Constitution, the imperative of age qualification was one the photocopying machine could not have blotted out without a public outcry! Because age is probably more important to us than the Americans, and because of the assumption or belief that we are late in maturing, it was also one aspect where our constitutionalists tried to teach the Americans the meaning of respect and deference. The Nigerian Constitution prescribes a minimum age of 40 for the president, 35 for senators, and 30 for members of the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives is that political arena where the American constitutionalists and political thinkers believe young men and women could exert their aggression as constituent emissaries by subjecting them to two-yearly elections. However, the members of a committee on the legislature in the Olusegun Obasanjo-sponsored National Political Reform Conference thought the bar could further be raised to 35. In a society where life expectancy is not particularly too great, theirs might have been one suggestion that went a bit too far and was rightly challenged.

Also competently challenged was the suggestion that federal legislators should be university graduates with the minimum of five years experience or even 10 years experience, depending on which legislative arm is being sought after. There is hardly any doubt that the art of lawmaking demands quality thinking and quality understanding and articulation of issues. In the USA, for instance, the House of Representatives is one forum where young professionals, particularly lawyers, come in to make names for themselves before embarking on their professions. However, the quality of mind and determination needed to represent a constituency cannot be confined to those with degrees.

The quality of education in Nigeria has deteriorated, and that is one worrying concern that should be urgently addressed. Most of our First Republic great debaters — the Anthony Enahoros, Adegoke Adelabus, and Maitama Sules — never went to university. They were beneficiaries of high quality education dispensed in the colonial era. Even in the Great Britain, where the educational system has a history dating back to over 1,000 years, there are today Members of Parliament who did not attend university because they had no need for university education. However, in most Western democratic nations, students who have chosen to be future politicians and ambassadors study, at university, subjects that would enhance the quality of their performances in the profession. For instance, subjects such as Law, History, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, feature in their most common choices.

And to talk of experience, what experience does one require in the legislative arena that excludes the apprenticeship we all serve in every call of life? The young men and women should be encouraged to bulldoze their ways into the Senate and House of Representatives and seek to become legislative dinosaurs or gurus by virtue of being constantly re-elected because of loyal services to their constituencies. In Britain, for instance, there are politicians who have been in the House of Commons for well over 25 years. Equally, in America, there are those who have become dinosaurs in the Senate having served for decades. A potential president, more often than not, gets recruited from the ranks of those who have excelled in the legislative or governmental arena.

For our young men and women itching to go into elective positions — not too young to run — my admonition is that they should demonstrate their good intentions, determination and readiness, by being vocal and committed voices in the fight against the ills that plague our nation. They should be seen as the young tigers in the fight against sectionalism, bigotry, and corruption, among other numerous societal ills. Their foray into elective politics should be a means to an end that is patriotic, and not one that is selfish. Of course, they need not be reminded that the youths of today are the oldies of tomorrow.

Source: The Punch

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01 Mar


 The constitution is the grund norm in the country and as such all arms, tiers, organs, institutions and bodies derive their powers and functions from it. Section 1(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) speaks about its supremacy and binding force over all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Similarly, Section 1(3)  of  the  1999 Constitution as amended asserts its superiority over every other law which includes the Electoral  Act and shall always prevail in the case of discrepancies.

The combined effect of the above sections simply means the Constitution has a binding and compelling force   on the National Assembly as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Thus, both the National Assembly and INEC are creatures of the 1999 Constitution and their powers and functions are clearly defined and spelt out by the Constitution.

The National assembly consisting of the Senate and House of representatives is vested with ensuring the peace, order and good Government of the Federation or any part  thereof .

INEC on the other hand according to the constitution shall have power to Organise, Undertake and Supervise  all  elections  to  the  offices  of  the       President  and  Vice  President,              Governor  and  Deputy  Governor  of  a state  and  to  the  membership  of  the   Senate,  the  House  of  Representatives  and  the  House  of  Assembly  of  each  State  of  the  Federation.”

The  combined effect  of  Section 153 (1) (f)  of  the  Constitution and  paragraph  15  of  Part 1  of  the  Third  Schedule  to  the  Constitution  is  that  INEC   has the  power  to  organize,  undertake  and  supervise  all  elections  to  the  offices  of  the  President  and  Vice  President,  Governor  and Deputy  Governor  of  a  state  and  to  the  membership  of  the  Senate,  the  House  of  Representatives  and  the  House  of  Assembly  of  each  state  of  the  federation,  and  the  literary  meaning  of  the  word,  “Organise”,  simply  means  arrange  systematically,  order and/or do as it is necessary to conduct elections into the offices as provided.

The power given by the Constitution to INEC to organize and order elections in the country cannot be usurped by any legislation whatsoever without a Constitutional amendment to that effect.

Polycarp Dama Datau is a scholar of YIAGA Africa- Centre for Legislative Engagement Scholars Program (YSP)

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01 Mar

How Politicians Threaten Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy – Moshood Isah

Show me a Nigerian Politician who would rather lose a credible election than win in a flawed process – Moshood Isah

Last week, Thursday 22nd February to be precise; the media was awash with revelation made by erstwhile Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Professor Attahiru Jega that, “the desperation and recklessness of politicians is the greatest threat to Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy”.  The former INEC boss made the comment at the inaugural session of ‘Watching The Vote Election Series’, an event organized by YIAGA Africa to serve as a platform in discussing the road map leading to the 2019 general elections. Professor Jega’s comment couldn’t have come at a better time and gathering as the event was graced by election stakeholders, which include major Political Party Actors, Civil Society Organizations and Youth Groups across Nigeria.

There is no questioning Professor Jega’s firsthand knowledge of the antics of Nigerian Politicians, especially seeing as he was at the helm of affairs at INEC during the 2011 and 2015 general elections. Both elections made their marks in the history of elections in Nigeria, especially the 2015 polls which for the first time saw the replacement of an incumbent President with an opposition. The memory of how a certain “Elder Statesman”, Godswill Orubebe almost truncated what has been described as a peaceful process comes to mind. It took the calmness of the erudite Professor and other electoral stakeholders present at the announcement of results to ensure the scenario ended as a momentary distraction.

It is rather unfortunate that the key players of the electoral process are the most culpable when it comes to electoral turmoil in Nigeria. While we may heap the blame on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when it comes to irregularities during elections. However, Nigerians are not oblivious of the fact that, politicians always try to be a step ahead in a bid to manipulate the process.

Take for example, the most recent issue of alleged underage voting in Kano, which of course is a dent on the image of the electoral body. However, it should be stated that, state electoral commissions are solely responsible in conducting Local Government Elections according to Law.

Like YIAGA Africa #WatchingTheVote training manager; Mr. Paul stated during a TV program on Wazobia TV Max not too long ago, no underage person will come out on their own to vote without politicians inducing and mobilizing them. Though election officials may be culpable as regards underage voting, report has it that politicians go as far as threatening electoral officials with guns and other weapons forcing them to undermine the process.

The lack of adequate security for electoral officials during elections is an issue for future symposium, which to a large extent makes one begin to wonder why electoral officials are vulnerable during electoral duty.

As rightly noted by the former National Chairman of Labour Party; Barrister Dan Nwanyanwu during the Election Series, Nigerian politicians do not care about the credibility of the electoral process, as they are more interested in winning elections at all cost.

As a matter of fact, politicians hardly make effort in voter education during political campaigns, as all they care about is canvassing for votes. It is surprising as well as worrisome that in this age and time, elections still register thousands of invalid votes due to lack of adequate voter education.

The ongoing debate on the change of electoral sequence by the National Assembly is another issue which tends to undermine the power of the electoral body and as a result, undermine Nigeria’s electoral process. Professor Jega also waded in on the issue noting that, the decision by the National Assembly is self-serving and goes a long way in showing how far politicians can go in deviating from laid down rules and procedure for what is obviously not an altruistic motive.

Political Analysts have come out to say that, INEC within its constitutional right has been empowered to decide the dates of election. Thus, the ongoing debate may end up in court. This litigation could be a major drawback to INEC, as it should be taking its time in preparing for the Ekiti and Osun elections.

Despite all of these, its either difficult or impossible to prosecute any politician for electoral fraud in Nigeria. Electoral violence, mobilization of thugs, vote buying and attack on electoral officials are major issues masterminded by reckless politicians and has contributed immensely to voter apathy, thereby undermining the electoral process. Also, the issue of penury of internal democracy which constitutes a major bottleneck for young people contesting elections cannot be overemphasized.

There is need for security agencies to step up their game and apprehend any politician culpable of these offences. While the sensitization of young people as regards being used as electoral thugs is imperative so as for them to know they have better and equally vital roles to play in the society.

Moshood Isah is the Media Officer of YIAGA Africa

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01 Mar

Check out the Judicial Survey Findings on Rule of Law

The Rule of the Law and Empowerment Initiative (also known as Partners West Africa – Nigeria) with support from MacArthur Foundation. To ensure effective collaboration, Partners West Africa – Nigeria worked with the state High Courts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos & Ondo; Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee; the Nigerian Bar Association (Akure, Gwagwalada, Ikeja, Lagos Island, & Unity Branches), Nigeria Institute of Advance Legal Studies, civil society organizations & the media.

The goal of the project is to enhance integrity in the Nigerian Judicial system through court observation; promote implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act/Law in the FCT, Lagos & Ondo states; enhance citizen’s participation in judicial processes and improve access to information on judicial proceedings with regards to compliance of the ACJA. We aim to achieve this through social accountability in the judicial sector.

A total of 65 court rooms is being observed in the three states (FCT -20, Lagos- 25 and Ondo – 20)

Download Full Report Below


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01 Mar

Corruption: CJN unfolds 13 reforms as judges get travel guide

THE judiciary is not relaxing the efforts to restore its pride, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has said.

Backlog of cases, delayed proceedings and corruption allegations agaisnt officers are some of the stains the institution has been battling to remove.

Unfolding 13 reforms designed to sanitise the judiciary and rid it of corruption, the CJN said he must henceforth approve all overseas’ trips by judges.

The CJN, who spoke yesterday at the “Dialogue of organs of government on campaign against corruption and reform of the justice sector at the Presidential Villa in, Abuja, said all travels outside Nigeria by judges will now be with his permission after an application would have been made.

The forum was organised by the Prof Itse Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC).

Onnoghen also directed the court at any level to award punitive cost for frivolous litigation or delays caused by counsel.

In the reforms, judges are now all to go to work and sit in their courts from Monday to Friday from 9am to at least 4pm.

He listed the reforms in an address read by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.

Onnoghen said: “In the recent past, the judiciary has been accused of corruption along with the allegation that when complaints of corrupt practices and unprofessional conducts are brought before the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Council shields or delays investigating the allegations so levelled against judicial officers.

“Without considering the merit or otherwise of the criticisms, it goes without saying that the judiciary, like every other human institution, needs a rejigging every now and then to improve the functionality of the institution towards a speedy delivery of justice.

“I have recently authorised the issuance of a set of reforms which ultimate objective is the speedy and transparent delivery of justice.

“The delay in our justice delivery system is of great concern to me. This unacceptable situation inevitably dictates the need for a thorough and comprehensive reform of our justice sector to ensure access to justice at affordable costs and within a reasonable time

“Such a reform agenda must of necessity require the cooperation of the three arms of government, namely; the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary, as well as other relevant stakeholders

“The reforms I have introduced cover a wide range of issues; from establishing new modalities for appointment of judicial officers, to tightening judicial discipline regulations, and fashioning out a speedy way to clear backlog of cases, among others.

“Clearly, any unnecessary delay of justice is equally an act of corruption. Therefore, to enhance speedy dispensation of justice, we are ensuring that the Rules of Court Procedure must contain a provision for the award of punitive cost by the court for frivolous litigation or delays caused by counsel.

“In the same vein, I am reviving and strengthening the Inspectorate Division to go round the country and ensure that, in line with Public Service Rules, all judicial officers go to work and sit in their courts from Monday to Friday from 9am to at least 4pm.

“And, in line with the NJC’s Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers, I have directed that travels outside Nigeria should be with the permission of the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, after an application would have been made.

“For enhanced performance, all Judges of Lower Courts in the country have been directed to submit Returns of Cases quarterly to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) for assessment as it is done by the National Judicial Council (NJC) in respect of serving Judicial Officers of Superior Courts of Record.

“The area of appointment, all judges of lower courts and other public officers such as chief registrars and secretaries, among others, are henceforth required to write examinations and be interviewed, in addition to submission of copies of their judgments to the NJC when they are to be considered for judicial appointment.

“For members of the Bar who seek judicial appointments, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will, in addition to the requirements in the NJC Guidelines on Appointment of Judicial Officers, assist the NJC with a separate assessment report on all NBA candidates being considered for judicial appointment.

“In the area of discipline, members appointed to serve in any fact-finding committee will henceforth be expected to complete their investigation and report their reports within 21 days.

“And, considering the increasing number of petitions written against judicial officers, we will constitute more committees to investigate the allegations therein.

“We have a lot more in our agenda to strengthen and reposition the judiciary, but suffice it to say that fighting corruption is not the responsibility of any particular arm of government but that of every citizen of Nigeria.

“Corruption or any other form of injustice, for that matter, thrives in a culture of impunity. To carry out a successful campaign against corruption, we have to fight the culture of impunity which is an attitudinal phenomenon. If we allow the rule of law to reign, then there will be a dramatic reduction in corruption and injustice.

“Corruption starts with a decision by an individual or a group of individuals to do the wrong thing. It is as simple as that. Corruption is never an accidental act. The person who commits a corrupt act has an option to do the right thing.

“As a democracy, Nigeria is guided by the Rule of Law where the Constitution is the ground norm. It is pertinent to mention that there is no ambiguity concerning the role of the judiciary in our Constitution. It is an arbiter between parties. The core issue in the mind of an arbiter is for justice to be done and seen to be done.

“Corruption in the judicial arm of government happens if an arbiter, in this case a magistrate, a judge, a justice or a panel, having heard from all parties and having determined where justice lies, decides to do the wrong thing by giving judgment to favour a particular individual or party over another.

“On the part of the judiciary, the NJC under my watch has constituted the Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO) under the chairmanship of Hon. Mr. Justice Suleiman Galadima, CFR, JSC (rtd), to serve as a check on the excesses of some bad eggs in the Judiciary. I am confident that in due course of time; our efforts to rid the Judiciary of questionable persons shall yield results.

“To match words with action, we did not just set up COTRIMCO but we have devoted a 20 per cent of our already lean budget in the Judiciary to the committee to ensure their mandate is effectively executed.

“I have also issued a directive to all heads of courts to designate some courts in their jurisdictions as Special Courts to handle corruption cases. This is a step in the right direction as lingering corruption cases will be expeditiously dispensed with.”

He reminded Nigerians that their collective efforts would be required to tackle the monster called corruption.

Onnoghen said: “Every individual must resolve to do the right thing, at the right time and without compulsion if we are determined to fight the scourge of corruption to a successful finish.

“Whatever solutions the experts will proffer at the end of this dialogue, let me add this, establishing a reward system in all strata of our society to encourage the good in us, will go a long way to encourage the values of honesty, hard work and integrity.

“More importantly, we must, as a nation, humble ourselves in prayer, turn from our evil ways and find our way back to God.”

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Chukwuka Utazi, said: “There is too much lip service to the fight against corruption. We need to do more to strengthen our anti-corruption agencies to discharge their duties to all whether you are in the ruling or opposition party.”

On his part, Justice A.D. Yahaya of the Court of Appeal said: “If PACAC was not there, Nigeria would have been at the worst end in corruption.

“We keep talking about corruption. It is so endemic and it is alarming. The problem is the indiscipline with us. I am sorry for this country; I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel unless we face the campaign against corruption, the way it should be faced.”

The Reforms

Establishing new modalities for appointment of judicial officers
Tightening judicial discipline regulations
Fashioning out a speedy way to clear backlog of cases
Speedy and transparent delivery of justice.
Rules of Court Procedure now to contain provision for the award of punitive cost by the Court for frivolous litigation or delays
Reviving and strengthening the Inspectorate Division to ensure judicial officers go to work and sit in their courts from Monday to Friday from 9am to at least 4pm.
President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to assist the NJC with a separate assessment report on all NBA candidates being considered for judicial appointment.
All Judges of Lower Courts and other public officers such as Chief Registrars and Secretaries, among others, are henceforth required to write examinations before being appointed
To constitute more committees to investigate allegations against judges
All Heads of Courts to designate some courts in their jurisdictions as Special Courts to handle corruption cases
20% of Judiciary Budget to be devoted to Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO)
All travels outside Nigeria by judges will now be with the permission of the CJN after an application would have been made.
All Judges of Lower Courts in the country have been directed to submit Returns of Cases quarterly to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC)

Source: The Nation

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28 Feb

2019: INEC moves to clean up voter register, partners population commission on dead persons

The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday urged the National Population Commission (NPC) to furnish it with record of dead citizens since 2015 to enable it to “sanitise’’ the voter register.

Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, a professor, made the request when he visited the Chairman of NPC, Eze Duruiheoma, in Abuja.

He said that the records were necessary to enable the electoral umpire to expunge names of dead persons from the national voter register.

“We will like to partner NPC and ask that the population commission make available records of dead citizens since 2015 to enable us take necessary steps to remove them from the voter register.

“We are confident that you will oblige us so that we can further clean up our voter register ahead of the 2019 general elections,” Mr. Yakubu said.

According to him, the commission is determined to do whatever it takes to sanitise the voter register as a free, fair and credible election is dependent on a sanitised voter register.

The chairman said that as provided by the Constitution, both commissions were saddled with similar responsibilities.

“While INEC is saddled with the responsibility of registering eligible voters, the population commission registers births and deaths of citizens across the country,” he said.

He disclosed that a draft copy of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between both agencies had been submitted to the population commission for its consideration.

“When the MoU is signed, it will formalise and enhance collaboration between the sister agencies for the general development of the country,” Mr. Yakubu said.

Responding, Mr. Duruiheoma commended INEC for the initiative to sanitise the voter register using records of NPC.

He said the collaboration between the sister agencies in the performance of statutory duties was very pivotal to national development.

According to Mr. Duruiheoma, “if we get our elections and censuses right, our nation will be on the way to greatness.”

He said that the commission would commence the process of making the records of deaths across the country available to INEC.

He, however, said that the commission could not pretend to have the records of every birth or death that had occurred since 2015.

“We look forward to the day when every single birth or death case will be efficiently documented by the commission,” Mr. Duruijeoma said.

He said that copies of the MoU had been circulated among relevant officers within the commission and that necessary inputs were already being made.

He assured the INEC chairman of his readiness to sign the MoU once it was finalised.


Source : Premium Times

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