All posts by Festus Owete

EXCLUSIVE: INEC Sacks 30 Staff Over Election-Related Offences

INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega

The Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] has fired no fewer than 30 of its personnel accused of aiding electoral malpractices across the country during the 2011 general election, the electoral body has said.

Sixteen of the dismissed staff were punished for their alleged involvement in election-related offences in Anambra state, the South-East state which elections are usually tainted by rigging and thuggery.

Other states, whose elections led to the dismissal of INEC officials, are Imo (3), Edo (1), Zamfara (1), FCT (1), Delta (1), Oyo (2), Rivers (1), Lagos (1), and Osun (2).

A staff based at the INEC Headquarters in Abuja was also shown the door for allegedly colluding with politicians to perpetrate electoral fraud.

Besides, the Commission is prosecuting nine out of its 12 staff apprehended for committing various forms of electoral offences during the governorship elections in six states.

Two out of the 12 electoral offenders have been discharged and acquitted while one was convicted.

According to a letter to a civil society group, Say No Campaign, in response to a Freedom of Information request, INEC said those dismissed or whose appointments were terminated committed offences such as refusal to carry out lawful duties and misleading the Commission, misconduct,  disappearance with money meant for payment of allowances of ad-hoc staff, withholding ballot papers, manipulation of election results and possession of DDC machines.

Others offences listed are allegation of illegal entries in the register of voters and attempt to make use of left-over money.

The letter, dated July 14 and signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Augusta Ogakwu, was in response to a request by the civil group on June 9 in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, for the list of the electoral offenders.

Say No Campaign is a coalition of civil society organisations committed to fighting corruption, impunity, poverty, violence and other governance challenges in the country.

According to the document, made exclusively available to PREMIUM TIMES, the 16 officials axed in connection with the Anambra election committed the same offence: “Allegation of wrong entries in the register of voters.”

All 16 staff, who were either electoral officers or those drawn from ICT and Audit Units of the election body for election duty, had their appointments terminated by the Commission.

The remaining 14 staff were either compulsorily retired or dismissed in 2011.

The most senior officer among them who hails from in Imo State was on Grade Level 16. He was retired for “refusal to carry out lawful directives and misleading the Commission.”

Another officer dismissed while on Grade Level 15 is from Edo State. He was found guilty of wrongful recruitment and deployment of a collation officer whose name was given as Dr. Paul.

Those being prosecuted in court for electoral offences, according to a document attached to the letter and signed by S.O. Ibrahim, the assistant director in charge of the commission’s legal services, (prosecution) are Chukwujekwu Okeke (Anambra) and Osunlola Akinyinka (Oyo).

Mr. Akinyinka is being prosecuted at the High Court in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.

Chinedu Nwankwo, Henry Anozie and Obiora Enebeli committed their own offences in Edo State and their cases are also in court.

In Ekiti, although Ojo Oluwafemi and Olusola Oladipo have been dismissed from service, their cases are pending in court.  Two other officers, Oni Babajide James and Ajayi Gbenga whose, cases are pending in court, are however on interdiction.

Isa Amana, an ad-hoc staff and Omolade Raphael, who allegedly committed offences in Ondo State, have since been discharged and acquitted at a Magistrate Court while Sani Dada who has since been convicted, committed the offence in Niger State.

Kayode Idowu, media aide to the INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega could not be reached to comment for this story. He did not answer or return calls made to his mobile telephone call.

But Mr. Jega had in 2013 admitted the presence of corrupt officials and staff in INEC, who were not only aiding and abetting rigging, but also committing other electoral malpractices

“INEC officials are not immune to prosecution. Since we came here, as a Commission we have prosecuted INEC officials, who have been clearly found guilty of breaching established laws, rules and regulations and we have also quietly shown people the way out. Probably, it was not well advertised,” he said during the public presentation of Strategic Programme of Action of INEC covering 2012 to 2016.

“There were many people that were indicted who were not faithful due to criminal activities which clearly were incompatible with the objectives and responsibility that they were supposed to bring to this job. We have retired people.

“We have dismissed people and asked people to withdraw their services. We have done a lot quietly and it is not something that really should have been advertised.

He said INEC made it clear it would draw the line and that though the leadership was not looking for fault, it would not do anything wrong or ask anybody to do wrong, but if anyone was found doing wrong, he would have himself to blame.

The INEC Chairman added, “No doubt, I must share with you that my own assessment of what has happened is that in INEC previously, certainly there were a few bad eggs, who had done things and things they had done had more or less damaged the image of the entire members of the Commission.

“It is really a terrible thing that has happened. And it is very, very clear that majority of staff of INEC are honest people doing honest job under very difficult circumstances. All they required was motivation and encouragement and inspiration from the conduct of those who are placed in positions of responsibility.”


After months of bickering, Jonathan, Emir Sanusi meet

Emir Sanusi meets President Goodluck Jonathan

The President invited the former CBN Governor to break Ramadan fast with him.

President Goodluck Jonathan and the Emir of Kano, Mohammed Sanusi II, met for the first time on Wednesday since the monarch was turbanned last month and about five months after the president ordered his suspension as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

Both men met at iftar, the breaking of fast the president holds annually with top government officials who are Muslims and other prominent Islamic leaders in the country, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The one month Ramadan fast ends on Sunday.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt an invitation to attend the breaking of fast was dispatched to Mr. Sanusi, whose suspension as CBN Governor February 20 generated controversy, after the Sultan of Sokoto reached out to both men to reconcile.‎

Mr. Sanusi was appointed emir by the All Progressives Congress, APC, administration of Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso of Kano State in June following the death of his predecessor, Ado Bayero, but could not gain access to his palace as a result of police siege on it allegedly on the orders of the president.

The police explained that it took the action in other to stop looters and arsonists, who had protested the emergence of the new emir, from vandalising the sprawling palace.

Few weeks ago, the emir however personally and through intermediaries reached out to Mr. Jonathan to forget the past and sheathe his sword.

He was said to have assured the president in a telephone chat that he would not be partisan and he (president) should consider him henceforth as a friend. Mr. Sanusi subsequently moved into the palace on June 13.

The stand-off between both men began in February when Messrs. Jonathan suspended Mr. Sanusi from his position as CBN Governor over alleged “acts of financial recklessness and misconduct.”

The former CBN Governor was on official assignment in Niger Republic when his suspension was announced about four months to the end of his tenure.

A statement by the president’s spokesman, Reuben Abati ordered Mr. Sanusi to hand over to the most senior deputy governor of the CBN, Sarah Alade, who acted until a substantive governor was appointed.

He said the president was concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mr. Sanusi, which had distracted the Bank from its pursuit and achievement of its mandatory.

Reacting to his suspension, Mr. Sanusi said he had no regret and noted that he was proud of his achievements since he assumed duties as the CBN helmsman in 2009.

“We all know what this is about, this is about consequences for the steps that I have taken, and this is something that was long overdue. I am surprised that it took them so long,” the former Governor had told an international news agency.

He said he would not return to the job, but would challenge his suspension in court.

He made good his threat first in Federal High Court, where he filed a suit against the president and two others – Attorney General of the Federation and Inspector General of Police – though the suit was struck out later.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole upheld the argument by the counsel to the defendants and transferred the matter to the National Industrial Court, NIC, from where Mr. Sanusi subsequently withdrew it on July 3 following his appointment as Emir after the death of his predecessor, Ado Bayero.

With the meeting Wednesday, both men can now be said to be on the road to reconciliation.

Enugu Assembly Says Deputy Governor Must Go For Raising Chickens in Govt. House

Sunday-Onyebuchi 2

The Assembly also accuses Mr. Onyebuchi of obstructing the smooth running of government for disobeying Governor Chime

The Enugu State House of Assembly on Tuesday said the state deputy governor, Sunday Onyebuchi, does not deserve to remain in office for operating a poultry farm within his official quarters and obstructing the smooth running of government in other ways.

Twenty-two of the 24 members of the Assembly  had on Monday resolved to serve impeachment notice on the deputy governor.

Among the charges against Mr. Onyebuchi is the operation of a livestock and poultry farms within residential areas in Enugu.

According to the impeachment notice, the lawmakers said by a resolution they passed on February 12, 2013, the House “prohibited the maintenance and operation of a commercial livestock and poultry farms within residential neighbourhoods in Enugu Metropolis in promotion of public health standards”.

They said Mr. Onyebuchi declined to obey the directives of government’s officials who came to his official premises to monitor the resolution.

The notice read in parts: “Consequent upon the intimidation of the relevant officials of the government by the Deputy Governor in respect of the matter aforesaid, the governor of Enugu State (herein after referred to as “ the Governor via letters with reference numbers : GHE/CAO/31/239 and GHE/CAO/31/240 dated 24/12/2013 and 27/12/2013 respectively, directed the Deputy Governor to relocate the commercial poultry farm out of the premises of his official residential quarters , which is also within the general premises of the Government House Enugu and adjacent to the Governor’s office.

“The Deputy Governor further defied the directive herein and in a most discourteous manner and in utter disregard of the office of the governor, responded via a letter dated 8/1/2014, insisting that he would not relocate his commercial poultry farm from the premises of his official residential quarters.

“When the government through the appropriate Ministries and departments relocated the birds and cleared the premises of the noxious stench emanating therefrom, the Deputy Governor wrongfully deployed the resources and powers of his office as deputy governor to invite the press and openly castigated the government and her officials, thereby impugning and denigrating the authority and office of the governor and embarrassing the government.”

PREMIUM TIMES is unable to reach Mr. Onyebuchi as at the time of this report to determine whether the poultry farm the lawmakers complained about is indeed a commercial one.

The lawmakers also said Mr. Onyebuchi disobeyed the governor, Sullivan Chime, on several occasions thereby violating Section 193 (1) of the Constitution.

They specifically noted in particular that in March, the deputy governor refused to represent Mr. Chime at the flag-off ceremony of the 2nd River Niger Bridge, which was performed by President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The deputy governor persists in his defiance of lawful directives issued to him by the governor” the lawmakers said, adding that Mr. Onyebuchi’s attitude had affected the smooth running of the government of the state.

Section 188 (2) of the Constitution says, a governor or deputy governor may be removed from office when a notice of any allegation in writing signed by not less than one-third of the members of the House of Assembly –

Is presented to the Speaker of the House of Assembly of the state Stating that the holder of such offices is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office detailed particulars of which shall be specified.

The Speaker then shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a copy of the notice to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the House of Assembly and shall cause any statement made in reply in the allegation by the holder of the office, to be served on each member of the House of Assembly.

Meanwhile, analysts have been pointing at Mr. Chime for allegedly instigating the impeachment plot against his deputy over other issues, including his ambition to run for Enugu East Senatorial District seat.

They allege the governor is rooting for his Chief of Staff, Ifeoma Nwobodo, to replace Mr. Onyebuchi after which she (Nwobodo) would seek the Senate seat to replace the incumbent, Gilbert Nnaji, in the next year’s election.

Presidency lampoons Tinubu, says electoral victory will continue to elude APC

President Goodluck Jonathan

The Political Adviser to the President, Rufa’i Alkali,  on Sunday said electoral victory would continue to elude the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, until its leaders learn to accept the principle of popular democracy that the electorates have right to choose who should lead them.

Reacting to the allegation by a national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, that President Goodluck Jonathan engineered the impeachment of Murtala Nyako as Governor of Adamawa State despite public pronouncement by Mr. Nyako to the contrary, Mr. Alkali said the APC leaders appeared to have lost their focus since they lost the Ekiti governorship election.

Mr. Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State had in a statement on Friday accused Mr. Jonathan and the ruling PDP of contriving Mr. Nyako’s impeachment last Tuesday.

He also accused the president of behaving like a dictator.

Mr. Alkali, a former spokesperson of the ruling PDP, said it was absurd for any political party that wants to win the presidency to denigrate the same office it wants to occupy.

He stated that it was particularly pathetic that Mr. Tinubu, who contributed immensely in the struggle for return to democratic governance, had now joined the league of those engaged in acts that are likely to truncate the same institution he fought for.

“It is very strange for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, someone who has led government before, someone who has been in the forefront of advancing democracy for many years, to descend so low as to cast aspersions on the President of this country on issues he cannot defend,” the presidential aide said.

“It appears to me that since the Ekiti election, which PDP decisively won, Tinubu and APC leaders have lost their focus. This is democracy, it gives everybody the right to speak; but in doing so, you should not undermine institutions of governance, the same institution you are aspiring to take over and manage.

“Recently, the Adamawa State House of Assembly impeached their governor and even as that happened, the APC was up in arms, that it was Mr. President that impeached the governor of Adamawa State.
“Why should he do that and how can he do that? Are you saying the 24 or 25 members of the House of Assembly are not in control of their constituencies, that there are no leaders or stakeholders in Adamawa State who worked for or with former Governor Nyako who could have stopped the impeachment.

Mr. Alkali noted that the PDP had lost a lot to the opposition either in court or through election, yet it stood firm and had continued to build on what it had, while looking forward.

He said just like in Ekiti State where the APC lost in the governorship election last month, the opposition party would still lose to the PDP in next month’s election in Osun State.

He said, “PDP has lost a lot to opposition political parties. I have said this repeatedly either at the court or more recently through defection, yet PDP stood firm and said let us continue to build on what we have and move forward.

“After losing Ekiti, the story has changed. It is time for them to tell one another the home truth. If they are prepared to govern this country, then they must be prepared also to accept the principle of popular democracy that the people of this country would want to choose who should lead them and if they don’t, can’t or fail to convince people, they must also be ready to admit failure.”

“No matter the grandstanding our journey to Osun state continues and surely just as was the case in Ekiti state, the people of Osun state will triumph. We are confident that our candidate Senator Iyiola Omisore is a man of the people.”


Niger Delta communities may shut down oil production channels – Alamieyeseigha

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha

South-South and South East zones opposed to intervention funds for the north.

A delegate to the National Conference, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, disclosed on Monday that the oil communities in the Niger Delta may shut down all channels of oil production in the region due possible occurrence of earthquake.

He said the leadership of the communities visited him over the weekend during which they informed him about the plan and asked him to convey it to the Conference.

Mr. Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa State, who spoke shortly before the conference delegates suspended plenary session to enable select delegates to resolve the disagreement on the derivation fund, said in the past 58 years, a minimum of 1.8 to 2 million barrel of crude oil was being extracted from Niger Delta lands on a
daily basis.

“The consequence is that they have started experiencing earth movements in their environment and the fear that there is going to be earthquake or tsunami very soon in their land,” he said. “In order jurisdiction, when this volume of oil is removed, liquid of same gravity is being injected to equalise or stabilize the geology of the area. In recent times, there was gas flaring of the cost of Balyesa for over a month, the heat was so much that all the villagers evacuated, for one month the oil companies could not clamp the gas flaring.

“So, the fear that they don’t have the capacity to withstand any earthquake in that environment and that I should inform you all that they may take the option, I repeat, they will take the option of shutting down production in that areas till concrete agreement or arrangements is made with the oil companies to warranties the
injection ostabilising the environments.”

However, in a quick response, a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, delegate, Femi Falana, informed the Conference that the Nigerian Government had run into problems as United States of America, which had been the major buyer of Nigeria crude oil had stop buying it.

Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the U.S. now has an alternative to Nigeria’s crude oil and that “very soon there will not be buyers of our oil again.”

Meanwhile, the delegates from the South East and South-South geo-political zones said on Monday that they remained opposed to the five percentage National Intervention Fund.

The Conference was thrown into crisis following the recommendations on the derivation formula by a group of delegates called National Conference Consensus Group, which offered to work towards reaching a consensus on the issue.

The group had in its report presented last Wednesday recommended 18 per cent as derivation fund for the mineral-producing states, five per cent fund for the development of solid Mminerals and another five percent as National Intervention Fund for the insurgent-ravaged North East zone as well as North West and North Central.

The recommendation split the delegates, with those from the three geo-political zones in the South kicking against the National Intervention Fund, arguing that it should not be limited to the North alone.

In a statement jointly signed by 16 of their delegates, the southeast and southsouth zones said since the fund was meant to address the vexed issues of devastation and upheavals caused by an act of war or by outright war itself, they (zones) should be adequately taken care of by the fund in terms of the physical infrastructure, rehabilitation, development and other losses resulting from the civil war.

They also asked the Federal Government to set up a body to work out agreed reparation to settle the civil war issue once and for all. Among those who signed the document are former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, Ike Nwachukwu, Ihechukwu Madubuike, Ankio Briggs, Gary Igariwey, Ezekiel Izuogu, Ezenwa Nwagwu and Joe Orji.

The others are Nnenna Oti, Chinedu Nwajiuba, Nelson Uwaga, Obi Anoliefo, Bob Njemanze, and Obura Ike.

They said all fair-minded citizens of Nigeria were wont to agree that the former Eastern Region and part of the former Midwest Region, which encompass the present day South East and South-South zones were victims of civil war which devastated them and brought untold hardship to their citizens.

“The case of the South East which bore the full brunt of the civil war for 30 months is particularly tragic. Most of it has remained a wasteland despite General Gowon’s declaration of the three “Rs” – Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation,” they said.

The two zones noted that Boko Haram insurgency in parts of the country and especially in the North East zone had brought up the issues of reparation and reconstruction in whatever guise, to the fore and that the National Conference.

Stating that “what is good for the geese is good for the gander,” the zones argued that the Conference could not afford to ignore the yearnings of their people to rehabilitate and reconstruct their areas through the proposed National Intervention Fund or thorough any other integrated platform or plan available to the Federal Government.

They also said several panels set up by the Federal Government, including the Oputa Panel had approved reparation for the war damages, “but till date this has not been addressed.”

UPDATE: Crisis in National Conference over revenue derivation formula

National Conference in plenary

Kutigi proposed a meeting with Confab’s 50 “wise men,” Committee chairmen and deputies Friday

The National Conference again on Thursday failed to agree on the revenue sharing formula for the nation, forcing it to adjourn suddenly to calm tempers among the 492 delegates.

The Conference adjourned more than one hour ahead of its closing time of 3.30 p.m.

Its chairman, Idris Kutigi, however, announced that he would meet with the 50 “wise men” of the Conference as well as the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the 20 Standing Committees on Friday morning to resolve the stand-off.

The wise men had earlier in the life of the Confab intervened on some issues, including the modalities for voting.

The Conference had similarly adjourned abruptly on Thursday after a report prepared by 18 leaders of the six geo-political zones and representatives of women, youth and labour movement.

The report of the group called, National Conference Consensus Group, read by a member, Ibrahim Gambari, recommended the payment of 18 per cent of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly to oil-producing states; five per cent for solid minerals development and five percent for stabilisation and rehabilitation of terrorism and insurgent-ravaged north east and the other two zones in the north.

However, the southern delegates kicked against the recommendation for the rehabilitation of the three northern zones with some of them saying it could encourage insurgency and violence in the country.

Tension on the floor

At resumption of sitting on Thursday, the Deputy Chairman of the Conference, Bolaji Akinyemi, who was moderating the proceedings, had announced that the report of the Consensus Group, which was presented on Wednesday, would be considered as soon as its convener, Raymond Dokpesi, arrived.

The announcement induced tension on the floor with some of the delegates kicking against the report of the group.

A civil society delegate from the South-South zone, Isaac Osuoka, raised a point of order, saying he was not aware of the existence of the group because “it is not one of the standing committees.” He said the committee was self-appointed and did not represent his views.

He was however rebuked by Mr. Kutigi who explained that it was not the first time such groups would be intervening in contentious matters.

A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’Abba, said the Conference had agreed from the onset that only the recommendations of the Standing Committees would be thrown up for approval or rejection.

“That was what was agreed on. Anything other than that is not going to be acceptable to most of us here,” he said.
A Borno State delegate, Haruna Yerima, said, “I can see that you (leadership) have brought ballot boxes. Therefore, every recommendation should go through the ballot boxes. We are not going to take any voice vote on this issue at all. I am going to cast my vote.”

“No! No! No!”

However, Musa Adede from Cross Rivers State warned, “We are beginning to deviate from this conference. Mr. Chairman you should not be intimidated and you must do what the House wants you to do.”

When he arrived, Mr. Dokpesi and other members of the group were asked to go and harmonise the grey areas in the report and bring it to the plenary for consideration. While the group was away, the Conference voted on the other recommendations of the Committee on Devolution of Power.

Shortly after their return at about 1.36 p.m., Mr. Akinyemi invited them to present their harmonised report.
However, a northern delegate from Yobe State, Buba Galadima, repeatedly shouted, “No document! No document!” even as Mr. Dokpesi approached the deputy chairman with a document.

Mr. Coomassie, who chairs the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, a northern group, told the Conference that the Consensus group could not agree on the issues.

“I am involved in the discussions. Up to this evening we have not reached agreement and therefore any report submitted to you is null and void,” he announced.

Another member of the group, Olu Falae, amid the shouts of some delegates, urged them to be calm and that all problems would come and go while Nigeria would remain.

Mr. Falae, a Federal Government delegate from the South West, said the group had agreed on all issues except one “sticking point.” He proceeded to read a document containing some recommendations purportedly agreed by the Committee, amid the cries of “No! No! No!”

The document made available to journalists read:

Amend recommendation (a) on page 39 of the report of the Committee by substituting with the following:
-Provided that the principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than eighteen (18 per cent) of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources;
-That not less than 50 per cent of the total derivation fund accruable to a mineral bearing state shall be sue and payable to the host communities within the state where the resources are derived in accordance with the production quota constituted by such communities;
-There shall be established a Solid Mineral Fund which is currently 3 per cent of Federal Government Account referred to by the Committee on page 40 of its report, it shall be increased to 5 per cent and will be applied to Solid Minerals Development in the states;
-There shall be a Natural Intervention Fund, which will be 5 per cent of the annual revenue accruing to the account of the Federal Government for the stabilization, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, in the first instance in the North East of Nigeria and any other parts of the country affected; or in the alternative
-There shall be a National Intervention Fund which shall be 5 per cent of the annual revenue accruing to the account of the Federal Government for the stabilisation, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, in the first instance in the North East of Nigeria, North Central, North West and any other parts of the country.

Following the rowdiness that trailed the presentation of the recommendations, Mr. Kutigi, who noted that the delegates were merely expressing their democratic rights, said it was apparent that the Committee had not concluded their assignment and should be given time to do so.

“Apparently, the committee has not finished its job. That is what we are told by Coommassie. We should give the Committee more time to sit,” he said as delegates shouted, “No! No! No!”

When some of the delegates shouted that the leadership should give them a fresh committee to work on the contentious issues, Mr. Kutigi reminded them that the group was self-appointed and that the leadership was not involved in the appointment of its membership.
The dissenters

Briefing journalists after the turbulent session, Mr. Dokpesi said the Consensus Group had agreed on all issues except on their phraseology.

“The point where we found it difficult to agree upon but which we agreed in principle and disagreed on the phraseology,” he explained. “The greater majority was that there shall be a national intervention fund which will be five per cent of the annual revenue accruing to the accounts of the Federal Government for the stabilization, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, in the first instance, in the North-east of Nigeria and any other parts of the country affected.

“The representatives from the North-West in particular said they wanted it to read, that there shall be a National Intervention Fund which shall be five percent of the annual revenue accruable to the accounts of the Federal Government for the stabilization, and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency and in the first instance, in the North-East of Nigeria, North-Central, North-West and any other part of the country.

“You can see that it is only the addition of North-West and any other part of Nigeria. That is the only bone of contention and we reflected as a committee that both drafts should be made available to the Conference but there are people that are determined to ensure that this Conference does not come to a proper ending.”

The delegate said the Committee had worked tirelessly and made a lot of concessions with the entire southern leaders and the North-Central leaders making sacrifices, but they were people who never wanted the Conference to succeed.

He added, “And these people are those that were shouting out today. Prof. Gambari was to get up and provide the report. Out of the 47 members that were available, 34 had signed the document. It was only Alhaji Coommassie, who said he was not going to sign. Bashir Dalhatu said he was not going to sign for Mohammed Kumalia. Every other person had signed. Professor (Iyorchia) Ayu was not available this morning to sign. So, this is where we are and I want to thank the leadership of the Conference for the patience and indeed all the delegates because there has not been a clear opportunity to explain the details of what had transpired.”

Again, stalemate in National Conference over Nigeria’s revenue formula


Based on the disagreement on Thursday, the Confab was forced to adjourn about one hour ahead of its 3.30 p.m. closing time.

For the second consecutive day, there was a stalemate at the National Conference as delegates disagreed on the revenue derivation formula.

On Thursday, the Conference Chairman, Idris Kutigi, announced that he would meet with the 50-member Elders/Consensus Building Committee, as well as chairmen and vice chairmen of all the conference’s standing committees by 11 a.m. on Friday on the issue.

That means the chairman would meet with about 90 delegates to review the possibility of arriving at a consensus on the controversial derivation formula.

An earlier one proposed by the Elders committee on Wednesday was rejected by several delegates especially those from the southern part of the country.

The committee had proposed an increase in the derivation formula that would see oil producing states get 18 per cent of revenue from oil gotten from each state – up from 13 per cent -, 5 per cent of the revenue to develop mineral producing communities, and 5 per cent of Nigeria’s resource revenue for Northern states ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Based on the disagreement on Thursday, the Confab was forced to adjourn about one hour ahead of its 3.30 p.m. closing time.

National Conference resolves Land Use Act controversy

Conference 2

The delegates agreed to retain the Act in the Constitution with minor amendments.

After more than six weeks stand-off over the Land Use Tenure Act, delegates to the National Conference on Wednesday finally resolved the issue.

They supported the retention of the Act in the constitution with minor adjustments. The Conference Committee on Land Tenure Matters and National Boundaries had in its report recommended that the Act should be expunged from the constitution and replaced with new provisions that would guarantee the right of Nigerians to have access to land irrespective of ethnic origin.

The Committee, chaired by Abdullahi Mamman, a retired army general,nominated as an elder statesmen, with the Owaoye of Okemesi-Ekiti, Michael Adedeji, as deputy, said the Act attempted to codify all laws in Nigeria pertaining to land administration.

The report was the first to be considered by the Conference in plenary in May but the leadership was forced to defer decision on the issue based on disagreements.

Debate on the issue was heated as most northern delegates opposed the abrogation of the Act.

They said land was one of their resources and therefore if the Act was abolished rich Nigerians would strip them of the resource.

A Yobe State delegate, Buba Mohammed, noted that removing the Act from the Constitution would create problem as those who have money would buy over land from the poor owners.

Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, Junaid Mohammed, said, if the Committee’s recommendation was upheld, it would create problem as land still remains a viable resource.

“This is the most capitalistic report this Conference has had the misfortune to receive,” he said. “What is behind the recommendations is nothing but class interest. It is in the interest of this country that land is left in trust with government.”

On his part, Auwalu Yadudu, former legal adviser to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, opposed the removal of the Act, but backed the payment of compensation for lands acquired by the government.

However, in a five-page report, adopted during its plenary session on Thursday, the Conference agreed that:

-The Land use Act should remain in the constitution, but be amended to take care of those concerns particularly on compensation in section 29 (4) of the Act to read “owners of land to determine price and value of their land i.e Government should negotiate with land owners and compensate land owners.

-Customary right of occupancy in section 21 of the Act be amended to read Customary right of occupancy (and) should have the same status as statutory right of occupancy. It should also be extended to urban

-Section 7 of the Act restriction on right of persons under the age of 21 to be granted statutory right of occupancy should be amended to read “restriction of persons under the age of 18” because an adult according to the Childs’ Rights Act is a person who has attained the age of 18; and

-Other issue observed (include) titling of land and further taxation after payment of certificate of occupancy fees, these are not legal issue but procedural, hence we recommend the need to call on governors to hasten titling of land (like it has been done in Edo State where almost 90% of land is titled) and fees paid by land owners for certificates of occupancy should indemnify them from further taxation, when leveraging their land.

UPDATE: Derivation formula splits National Conference

Conference 2

South-South, South West and South East delegates kick against recommendations of Confab Elders Committee.

Protests and complaints greeted the recommendations of the Elders Committee of the National Conference on Derivation Funds, which presented its report to the Conference in plenary on Wednesday.

The Committee, which comprises leaders of the six zones and two other members as well as representatives of women, civil society, youth and labour movement, had recommended the increase of the derivation funds from 13 per cent to 18 per cent.

It also recommended five per cent for the development of the solid minerals and another five per cent for the rehabilitation of the North East, North Central and North West zones.

Representatives of the zones were Ike Nwachukwu, Anya o. Anya and Chukwuemeka Ezeife (South East); Olu Falae, Alani Akinrinade and Kunle Olajide (South West); Edwin Clark, Idongesit Nkanga and Raymond Dopkesi (South-South); Iyorchia Ayu, Ibrahim Gambari and Jerry Gana (North Central); Mohamed Kumalia, Kashim Ibrahim and Adamu Waziri
(North East); and Bashir Dalhatu, Fatima Adamu and Ibrahim Coomassie (North West).

The Committee had volunteered to meet and intervene in the emotive issue of revenue formula to reach a consensus following intense debate on the issue, which divided the delegates along sectional lines.

While the southern delegates canvassed the raising of the derivation fund, virtually all the delegates from the north kicked against it.

A member of the Committee and former United Nations official read the report of the Committee.

“I have the honour to present to this plenary the outcome of the consultation that was held in view to find the way forward and promoting consensus on a very key issue that has capacity to divide this house and even may be this country.

“Mr. Chairman, there was a big relief and high expectations at plenary yesterday when General Ike Nwachukwu announced that a group of delegates have been working to broker agreement on the issue of
derivation and related matters because we all know how emotional the matter is and it has to be handle carefully.

“The group started with the leaders of six geopolitical zones and was later expanded to include the representative of labour, employers association, women society and civil society for two nights and two days, the group has been engaged in promoting consensus on the way forward with regard to the issue of derivation and related matters.

“After the two days and two nights here is what we arrived at: we arrived at this conclusions and in doing that among us there have been shift of positions on the parts of the two positions already taken by our numbers in the spirit of compromise and putting Nigeria first and above the interest of our respective zones and constituencies,
recognising that status quo is not sustainable.

“We have always felt that anytime we reduce our discussion to our village level, primordial level, state level, zonal level we are likely to run into problem, but when we raise the level to what unite us more than what divide us.

“Now one pole began with the position that was embodied in the recommendations of the committee on Devolution of Power all the way from 13% to 15% to 17% and not less than 18%. Another position shifted from the high figure of 100%, 50% to 21.5% to 20% and finally to not less than 18% to be reviewed every 10 years.

“Therefore, this group adopted a position and to recommend to the plenary not less than 18% as the derivation formula, but the group did not end there, as a package we propose two recommendations: one, for 5% revenue allocation to be made the solid mineral s development, we know we have over relying on oil and the time has come to pay attention to other resources throughout the country.

“The second and perhaps much more urgent is that we have recommended a new fund to be established which will call fund for stabilisation, rehabilitation and reconstruction, 5% of revenue allocation, principally for the North east, North west and the North Central.

“These recommendations if endorsed will be reflected in the revenue allocation Act. We have also recommended that what is happening now is not the problem of North east but that of Nigeria but more dramatically in the North east, we have also recommended broadly a safe guard and mechanism to ensure that monies goes to those who need them most and to also enhance production of mineral resources that our country is endowed with.

“Finally, in reaching this conclusion, this group is only motivated by one thing which is just to provide an avenue to reach consensus rather than voting, we do not believe that voting will really move us forward.”

Mr. Gambari, a former External Affairs Minister, had hardly concluded the presentation of the report when some delegates began to murmur and complain.

Noticing the mood of the session, the Deputy Chairman of the Conference, Bolaji Akinyemi, who was moderating, called for adjournment and asked Kate Okpaleke from Imo State to move the motion.

The motion was seconded by Iyabo Anisulowo, a delegate from Ogun State.

Mr. Akinyemi said the report of the Committee would be debated on Thursday.

However, after the session, many delegates notably from the southern part of the country were heard protesting the recommendations, saying that the recommendations are not acceptable.

Some of the delegates who spoke to the journalists said they will reject the recommendations while others lambasted Mr. Gambari for not reading out the exact contents of the report.

Sergeant Awuse, a delegate from the oil-rich South-South region, said the recommendation, notably the five per cent for rehabilitation of the Northern zones was not acceptable. He vowed that the recommendation would be defeated during voting.

A former military governor of Lagos State and delegate from the South-West, Raji Rasaki, said the report was badly presented by Mr. Gambari.

According to him, the former United Nations official, while reading the report veered off from what was originally agreed by the Committee.

Another South West delegate and clergyman, Tunde Bakare, argued that the implication of the recommendation for five per cent for the rehabilitation of the northern zones is that every part of the country is being encouraged to engage in insurgent activities.

Mr. Bakare regretted that both the South West and South East zones would not benefit from the arrangement.

A former Senate President, Adophus Wabara, said what the Committee recommends implied a particular zone or section of the country would be given five per cent in perpetuity because of insurgency and violence.

Mr. Wabara insisted that if the recommendation would be accepted, the fund should be applicable to all parts of the country.

“It is akin to making the money available to them in perpetuity,” he said. The National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Victor Umeh, also kicked against the recommendation, saying it was discriminatory.

According to him, the five per cent fund for the rehabilitation of the northern zones should be for all parts of the country. He said the South East is yet to receive any compensation since the civil war ended in 1970.

A member of the Committee, Mr. Falae, who believed the report was wrongly presented, said the South West zone would not accept the recommendations because they are irrational.

Mr. Falae, a delegate under the category of elder statesman, said steps would be taken immediately to sort out the matter.

Sola Ebiseni, a representative of the group of former Local Government Chairmen from Ondo State was heard declaring to some members of the Committee that the report would not be accepted, adding “this cannot be South West position.”

“We, the South-East delegates, reject the recommendation of five per cent of the national fund to any section. It is uncalled for. This is very deceitful,” Goddy Uwazurike, a South East delegate and President of Aka Ikenga, said.

A delegate from Taraba State, Isa Malfindi, while reacting, said his colleagues protesting the recommendations had a right to do so. He insisted that what Mr. Gambari read to the Conference were agreed upon just as he expressed optimism that the issue would be resolved on Thursday.

Mr. Nwachukwu, who initiated the consensus arrangement, spoke in the same vein, saying the delegates protesting the recommendations had a right to speak against them during debate on Thursday.

He explained that the Committee was sent on errand and had presented its report and it was left for the Conference accept or reject it.

Mr. Nwachukwu, however, said the issue would be resolved amicably.

National Conference adjourns midway over resource control, others #NGConfab


Zonal leaders at Confab to seek consensus on contentions issues of derivation, revenue formula, others.

The National Conference on Tuesday abruptly adjourned its plenary session to enable leaders of the zones at the Conference negotiate some contentious issues arising from the report of its Committee on Devolution of Power.

The Conference, which concludes daily proceedings at 3.30 p.m., cut short its proceedings at about 12.45 p.m. when the leader of the South East delegation, Ike Nwachukwu, requested for the adjournment.

It was to commence voting on the recommendations of the Committee and the amendments proposed by delegates.

Some of the contentious issues arising from the report of the Committee are resource control, 13 per cent derivation fund, and revenue sharing formula.

The Conference had previously disagreed on proposals for the creations of 18 new states, which the northern delegates kicked against, as well as the abolition of Land Tenure System.

The Committee on Devolution of Power co-chaired by a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Victor Attah, and a former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Coomassie, had recommended the retention of 13 per cent with a percentage of the derivation devolved to the host communities from which the resources are derived.

It, however, recommended that a Special Fund be set aside for the development of other mineral resources.

However, since the Conference opened debate on the 41-page report on Monday, delegates had made suggestions based on ethnic and sectional interests with those from the south canvassing an increase in the derivation funds while those from the north opposed.

Delegates who supported the raising of the funds suggested 21.5 per cent while others asked for 50 per cent or 60 per cent until ownership of the resources is achieved.

Some delegates from the north argued that if there must be an increment, it should only be restricted to the onshore. They argued that the oil-bearing states had not judiciously expended the 13 per cent they get at present.

The northern delegates also demanded that the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the Ministry for the Niger Delta should be abolished and their functions transferred to respective oil producing communities.

Mr. Nwachukwu, a retired army general and former external affairs minister, in a motion, told the Conference that he was mandated to speak on behalf of the leaders of other groups who were already making progress in their bid to forge a consensus on some contentious issues.

He urged the Confab to allow them continue deliberations and report back on the consensus on Wednesday.

The Conference Chairman, Idris Kutigi, announced that the adjournment would enable delegates interact, lobby, and possibly negotiate on certain contentious issues before amendment and adoption of recommendations.

The adjournment, which was unanimously supported by the delegates present and voting, would also afford members of the Consensus Committee to conclude their meeting on the best possible ways to amicably resolve all contending matters arising from the report.

Mohammed Kumalia, a delegate from Borno State, seconded the motion.

Meanwhile, before the adjournment, a delegate from Katsina State and former senator, Ibrahim Ida, canvassed the retention of the 13 per cent derivation fund and that there should be restitution for the degradation of the Niger Delta region.

He said just like the Niger Delta, places like Plateau State were also degraded due to mining activities. He said the Conference should ask the Federal Government to pay its debt to the NDDC.

A former Minister of Environment, Hassan Adamu, also supported the entire recommendations of the report. He, however, said the North East zone had been completely devastated and that the confab should come out with a Marshall Plan for the region.

The delegate from Adamawa State said the Confab should recommend seven per cent for the Marshal Pan.

A Civil Society delegate, Joe Okei Odumakin, said the Federal Government should have 40 percent of revenue while states (with LGS under them) should have 60 percent.

She reminded the Conferees that it took the blood of Ken Saro-Wiwa for attention to be shifted to the degradation of the Niger Delta.

Mrs. Okei-Odumakin said derivation should be increased to at least 21 per cent to go to the oil- producing communities.

A former Women Affairs Minister, Josephine Anenih, said allocations to the local government should be added to that of states. She said derivation fund should be increased in a way that the current 13 per cent was maintained while an additional 10 per cent should be set aside for environmental purposes.

She also asked the NDDC to note that Anambra and Enugu states now have oil and they should be included in the list of oil-producing states.

A former FCT Minister, Ibrahim Bunu, lamented that whatever increase being proposed might end up improving ‘Ali Baba’ and his colleagues.

He also said he would support the idea of royalties going directly to the communities and that the Confab should make a very strong recommendation that the Federal Government pay its debt to the NDDC.

A former Chairman of the Punch newspaper, Ajibola Ogunshola, said the Federal Government should not have more than 40 percent in the vertical revenue sharing formula being proposed.
He said derivation should be increased to 21 percent and that the decision would be political and not economic because delegates from the South-South must go home with something.

National Conference approves rotation of presidency between North, South


Confab also recommended the creation of 18 new states in the country

The National Conference on Thursday adopted a recommendation of its Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government for the creation of 18 new states in the country, as well as for the rotation of the office of the president.

It specifically agreed that in the spirit of reconciliation, equity and justice, an additional state should be created for the South East zone, which currently has only five states.

If the Federal Government accepts the recommendation, the country will have 54 states with nine in each of the six zones.

The Conference also accepted the recommendation for the rotation of the presidency between the North and South and among the six geo-political zones while the governorship seat should be rotated among the senatorial districts in each state.

The Committee co-chaired by Ike Nwachukwu and Mohammed Kumalia had presented its report on Monday.

They said the subject of state creation had remained a huge political issue in Nigeria.

“The Committee examined the reports of the National Political Reform Conference and the report of the Presidential Committee on Review of outstanding issues from recent Constitutional Conferences 2012 (the Belgore Report) and after wide consultations and extensive deliberations and in the interest of equity, justices and fairness,” they added.

Some of the proposed states approved by the Confab are Apa from Benue State, kainji from Kebbi, Katagum from Bauchi, Savannah from Borno, Amana from Adamawa, Gurara from Kaduna, Ghari from Kano, Etiti from South East, Aba from Abia, Adada from Enugu and Njaba-Anim from Anambra and Imo.

The others are Anioma from Delta State, Orashi from Rivers State, Ogoja from Cross River State, IJebu from Ogun State and New Oyo State from the present Oyo State.

The Conference is to later determine the names of the remaining two other states and their capitals, which are to be created in the South-South and South West zones.

The Conference, however, noted that any new states to be created should be economically viable or potentially viable and should have human, natural and material resources. It also resolved that that a new state should have minimum population of one million persons.

It rejected an amendment that said the National Assembly by resolution passed by a simple majority or membership should approve the merger of states and that the merged states shall exist as a region.

The Conference agreed that there should principle of zoning and rotation of elective offices at the federal and state levels on the basis of excellence, equity, gender justice and fairness.

The Committee had recommended that the Electoral Act and the Constitution of Political Parties should provide Principle of zoning / rotation of elective offices at the federal and state levels on the basis of equity, justice and fairness

The Conference rejected a single term of six years and a unicameral legislature for the country.

The Conference accepted a recommendation that there should be quarterly question time for the President and question time for ministers at the legislature to enhance accountability.

Meanwhile, a Civil Society Organisation delegate, Femi Falana, opposed the adoption for the creation of 18 new states.

“Having regard to the several resolutions of the National Conference on the need to reduce the costs of governance, I found the recommendation for the creation of additional 18 states rather contradictory,” he told journalists after the plenary session.

The conference resolutions are not automatic laws and would only be submitted to the president, who could then propose them as bills to the National Assembly.

Two weeks to end of Confab, APGA delegates take seats

National Conference in plenary

The conference chairman introduced APGA delegates, Umeh and Shinkafi, during plenary session Tuesday.

With about two weeks to the end of the ongoing National Conference, the two representatives of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, took their seats at the Confab on Monday.

The party representatives are the National Chairman, Victor Umeh and the National Secretary, Sani Shinkafi.

APGA was one of the five political parties invited to the Conference, which began on March 17 and ends July 17.

The other parties are the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Accord Party, AP, Labour Party, LP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC. Only APC declined to send representatives to the Conference.

Messrs. Umeh and Shinkafi were introduced just before the 492-member Conference rounded off its plenary session.

The Federal Government had initially appointed Chris Uche, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and Sagir Maidoya, both members of the Maxi Okwu faction.

But barely four days to the inauguration of the Confab, the duo was withdrawn.

In the programme of events used for the inauguration of the Conference, the space provided for APGA was merely marked “The party is to resolve the issue of its nominees.”

They new delegates took their seats following the victory of their own faction of the party at the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal about two weeks ago.

The Court set aside a the decision of a Federal High Court presided over by Justice Abubakar Abdul-Kafarati which last January dissolved the APGA national executive led by Mr. Umeh and recognized the one led by Maxi Okwu.

Wole Olanipekun, Counsel to Mr. Umeh had filed an appeal on several grounds. In the ruling, the Court of Appeal said Mr. Okwu had no locus standi to institute the suit since he had been expelled from the party.

National Conference adopts true federalism for Nigeria

National Conference in plenary

Confab resolves that states should create local government.

The National Conference on Thursday accepted the recommendation of its Committee on Politics and Governance to return Nigeria to a true federal structure with the states as federating units.

The Conference also adopted another recommendation which will allow the states to create local governments as they deem necessary.

It also resolved that asset declaration form submitted by public office holders to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, should be made accessible to the general public and the exercise should be before and after assumption of office.

The report of the Committee co-chaired by a former Information Minister, Jerry Gana, and a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae, was earlier debated before the amendments to its recommendation were taken and voted for.

The voting session was moderated by the Deputy Chairman of the Conference, Bolaji Akinyemi.

It could not vote on the establishment of structure, composition, finance and functions of local government councils preferring to do so when discussing the report of the Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government.

The Conference, however, accepted a proposal that unelected chairmen of local governments (often referred to as Transition Committee Chairmen) or such unelected representatives at the local government areas should be sanctioned by withholding the statutory allocations pending the conduct of election into such local governments.

On anti-corruption and ethics in governance, it agreed to the recommendation that the Anti-Corruption Agencies, ACAs, notably the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, should take up any corruption case that is in the public domain without waiting for a petition.

They resolved that the refusal by anti-graft agencies to act on any corruption cases that they are not aware of would constitute an act of misconduct, criminal negligence or dereliction of duty that will attract appropriate sanctions.

The Conference therefore resolved that all ACAs should be empowered to invite anybody living above their means to explain their source of wealth, and if the agencies are not satisfied with explanations to the acquisition of such wealth, the person shall be charged to court.

“Upon conviction, the person shall forfeit the entire proceeds from corruption and be sentenced to half the prison term attached to the sum of the money or its equivalent,” it said.

The Conference voted in support of a proposal that a special account be opened and designated as Infrastructure Development Fund, IDF, into which all recovered proceeds of corruption shall be paid.

On cross-carpeting from one party to another, it resolved that such elected public office holders who defect before the expiration of their mandates without cogent reasons would lose their seats.

The Conference resolved that inducement of voters with money and materials on Election Day should be treated as a criminal offence and perpetrators severely punished.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the State Independent Electoral Commission, SIEC, are to fashion ways to ensure that physically challenged persons, especially lepers, are registered and actually vote in elections.

The Conference resolved that that minority groups that wish to exist as separate states and meet the criteria for state creation should be allowed to do so under the instrumentality of the relevant laws and procedures as part of their right to internal self determination.

It restated the unconditional rights and freedom of every and any other ethnic nationality that considers itself as unjustly subjected to real and perceived injustice and marginalisation to join their kith and kin through the instrumentality of relevant laws.

It accepted a recommendation for the establishment of a National Council of Traditional Rulers, NCTR, with three members from each state.

Political decampees should vacate office, Confab resolves

National Conference 2

Recommendation for the removal of immunity for Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Governors and their Deputies was overwhelmingly adopted.

The National Conference on Thursday adopted the recommendations of its Committee on Politics and Governance barring political office holders from defecting from parties on which they were elected.

The conference adopted a resolution that anybody who defected from a political party to another should automatically relinquish the seat.

The committee’s recommendation for the removal of immunity for Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Governors and their Deputies was overwhelmingly adopted.

The conference also adopted a recommendation that unelected chairmen of local government areas should be sanctioned by withholding their statutory subventions until elections were held into such councils.

The recommendation of the committee to criminalise the inducement of voters with money or any other materials during elections was adopted.

In adopting this, conference noted that such inducements were a precursor to corruption as elected officials tended to recover their money first when elected into office.

The conference also adopted the recommendation by the committee providing for independent candidates to contest elections.

The Conference held that every Nigerian who met the specific conditions of Electoral Act should be free to contest in any election.

The Conference further adopted Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, to make every eligible Nigerians to contest for any election without belonging to any political party.

It said that any person who wished to contest election as an independent candidate must make full disclosure of sources of wealth and funds.

It also adopted that all independent candidates with unexplained sources of wealth/funds should be disqualified.

It further accepted a recommendation that Nigeria should adopt a true federal structure with the states operating as federating units.

It said that creation of local government areas should be the responsibility of states and not that of the Federal Government.

The Conference, however, pointed out that the responsibility of funding the local governments created by states should be the states’ and not the federal governments.

The conference adopted a recommendation that INEC and State Independent Electoral Commissions should fashion out ways to ensure that physically challenged persons were registered to vote.

The report of the committee, whose Co-Chairmen were Jerry Gana and Olu Falae, was the 16th out of 20, to be adopted by the conferees.


National Conference approves voting right for Nigerians in Diaspora

National Conference 2

Confab deferred voting on Nigeria’s membership of OIC, WCC

The National Conference on Tuesday supported voting rights for Nigerians living abroad.
There are about 15 million Nigerians in Diaspora.

The Conference however deferred for discussion a recommendation that Nigeria should withdraw its membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, as well as that of the World Council of Churches in line with its non-aligned foreign policy.

The resolutions were sequel to the recommendations of its Committee on Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters. The Conference debated and voted on the report of the Committee chaired by a former United Nations official, Ibrahim Gambari.

Presenting the report to the delegates, Mr. Gambari, who is also a former External Affairs Minister, said the Committee was informed that millions of Nigerians living in Diaspora were currently unable to vote in the various elections taking place in Nigeria.

“This is because according to the provision of sections 13 (1) (c) of the Electoral Act2006, as amended and Sections 77(2) and 117 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, 1999, only citizens present in Nigeria at the time of registration of voters can register to vote in any election,” he explained. “Thus, these millions of Nigerians living abroad feel disenfranchised and are very desirous of exercising their voting right, which they consider a fundamental right, in elections in their fatherland.”

He recounted that the proponents of voting right for Nigerians in Diaspora based their argument on the provision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Accordingly, the Committee recommends that the provisions of Section 13 (1) (c) of the Electoral Act, 2006, as amended and sections 77 (2) and 117 (20) of the constitution be amended to provide for Diaspora Voting Right so that Nigerian citizens living abroad who are not qualified by law and who are at least 18 years old by the time of voters registration, to vote in Nigerian elections.

“The appropriate mechanism to ensure there are no abuses must also be put in place before the processes take off,” he said.

The delegates voted overwhelmingly for the recommendation when it was put to vote by the Deputy Chairman of the Conference, Bolaji Akinyemi, who moderated the plenary session.

The Conference also adopted a recommendation seeking to encourage the passage of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission Bill currently pending before the House of Representatives. It said the Bill was sponsored by Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
In adopting the recommendation, it said there was clearly a need for Nigeria to develop Diaspora oriented policy strategy.

The Conference also accepted a recommendation of the Committee that the Nigerian passport should be renewed every 10 years instead of every five years.

It also adopted another recommendation that the excesses of first ladies and politicians in frivolously using diplomats abroad for unofficial purposes and distracting them from concentrating on their officials duties must be curtailed.

Among other recommendations adopted were that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should develop and publish an advisory travel guide; the Federal Government should regulate donations by foreign agencies to Nigerian non-governmental organisations, NGOs; that having lost ownership of the Bakassi peninsula, the Federal Government should come up with a policy of resettlement of Bakassi indigenes; and that the prisoner exchange between Nigeria and any other country should be on equal terms.

The Conference rejected an amendment saying, “In view of the observations of the Committee, it should be recommended that Nigeria should review the Green Tree Agreement it entered in respect of the ICJ ruling on Bakassi peninsular, with a view to reclaiming the ceded portion the country’s territory.”

Ekiti 2014 Governorship Election, #EkitiDecides – LIVE UPDATES


The Ekiti State governorship election holds today June 21. The election will be conducted in the 16 local government areas of the state.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, 18 political parties are fielding candidates in the election.

Analysts say the election is basically between the candidates of three parties – the incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress, [APC], a former governor of the state, Ayo Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party, [PDP], and a member of the House of Representatives, Opeyemi Bamidele of the Labour Party, [LP].

In all, 29 domestic and international observers have been accredited by INEC to observe the election. The international observers include the UNDP/DGD, EU Delegation, British High Commission, United States Mission to Nigeria, Canadian High commission, Embassies of Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and France.

About 732,106 voters are expected to vote in the election. The gender distribution shows that  females are 371, 419 (51%) and  males 360, 747 (49%).

There are 2,195 polling units, [PUs], and 2, 803 voting points, [VPs] in the South-west state.

Ekiti State has three senatorial districts, six federal constituencies, and 177 registration areas spreading across the 16 LGAs.

Among the councils, Ado-Ekiti, which is the state capital, has the largest number of voters with 134,141, 297 polling units and 455 voting points while Ilejemeje has the least number of registered voters with only 11,796 and 91 polling units and 91 voting points.

About 7,941 members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, have been engaged as ad-hoc staff to man the booths.

In taking decision today on whom to cast their votes for, the voters may likely be influenced by incumbency factor and performance of the APC candidate, the grassroots mobilizing skills of the PDP candidate and the courage of the LP flag bearer.

Since Nigeria’s return of civil rule in 1999, no governor of the state has been elected for a second term. This might affect the chances of the incumbent.

The corruption case hanging on the neck of the PDP candidate can also be a deciding factor.

Clearly, ethnicity is not an issue here as Ekiti State is one homogenous ethnic state.

PREMIUM TIMES’ Festus Owete and Nicholas Ibekwe are in Ekiti State and are bringing you live updates on the election.

Live updates


Armed with a sheet of paper, torch lights and guns in a dark street, police officers created a roadblock about 500 metres from the collation centre where journalists and others whose names are not in their sheet are turned back. The intervention of Taiwo Gbadegeshin, INEC PRO coyld not salvage the situation as he too was sent back to his office by the police officers. When our reporter called him to ask why could convince the police to allow journalists in, he retorted angrily that he had to leave because he didn't want to be embarrassed by the policemen and hung up. Meanwhile, a little down the dark road (the street lights are off), a couple of young men are pulling off Kayode Fayemi's posters hoisted on streetlights.


Police officers at the INEC office are turning back journalists, whose organisations do not appear in a list of about 15 media houses written on a sheet of paper, from the collation centre at the INEC head office in Ado Ekiti. Even the intervention of INEC public relation officer could not convince them as the police officers said they got their list from a higher authority. Premium Times reporter is one those turned away by the police officers.


Celebrations still going on in Ado Ekiti as the shouts of "Power!" "Power!" revebrate everywhere.


Vote count ongoing in some PU's in Ado-Ekiti although supporters of PDP's Fayose already jubilating.


Ekiti election jubilation1


PDP supporters celebrate percieved victory in Ado-Ekiti. Ekiti election jubilation


In Ward 10, Better Life Area, Basiri, Ado Ekiti, Fayose has won with 400 votes, APC 121, LP 23, Accord 3. There are 1045 registered voterrs but 566 voted. Voters including old women jubilate as INEC staff round off their assignment. Some young people jubilating beg this reporter to interview them.


APC: 43, PDP: 40, LP: 72, PDC: 1, APA: 1, void: 1 in PU010, IyinII, Irepodun/IfelodunLG.


APC: 49, PDP: 212, LP: 18, APA: 1, PPA: 1, voiled: 3 in PU007, Ode Ode Are Ekiti.


APC: 64, PDP: 91, LP: 18, AC in PU05, Ilawe Ward 7, ESW LG.


At Ward 4 in Ajilosun area counting in progress in one of the voting points. The result of the point is APC 79, PDP, LP 6. Voters waiting anxiously to hear the remaining result with some holding pen and papers jotting down the result. After counting, an old woman asked our reporter to write Fayose's result on her palm.


Health Centre Ikere Ekiti point 1 ( Ward 10 Unit 7) APC: 81, PDP 270, LP 6. Health Centre Ikere Ekiti Point 2 ( Ward 10 Unit 8) APC 81, PDP 252, LP 18


APC: 61, PDP: 50, LP: 3 in PU009, Ward 11, Efon LG. APC: 90, PDP: 95, LP: 7, AD: 1 in PU008, Osan Ward, Moba LG.


@CDDWestAfrica: #CDDEEOM #Ekitidecides APC: 42, PDP: 4, LP: 6, NCP: 1, in PU002, Ward 11, Efon LG


Counting is in progress at Ward 10 St Thomas Irona. Ado. PDP is also leading here. There are 710 registered voters and 310 accredited.


Resident of Ado have trooped out to the street jubilating over Fayose's victory in some polling. They are here on Funmi Olayinka Avenue and other streets.


Ward 05 Unit 11 Okeyemi in Ado, counting concluded. PDP 162, LP 8, APC 57, ACP 1, AD 1


Vote counting about to commence at Health Centre unit 2 Afao, Ikere Ekiti. Ekiti election


Counting ends in PU001 Iworoko 009, Irepodun/Ifelodun LG. APC: 19, PDP: 78, LP: 10.


197 people voted & 224 unused in Osan ward, PU008, Moba LG.


At Ward 008 in Okeyemi area of Ado, there are two voting points. One of the points has concluded voting and counting is in progress with anxious voters watching.


At Ward 009 in Ijoko area, 226 out of 500 registered voters have voted. More voters are still being expected according to INEC officials.


Voting ends 2.35 p.m. at PU008, Odole ward, Ekiti South West LG .


At Jonathan Memorial Pry school, voting is still ongoing at all eight points.


At Ward 05 in Ijigbo area of Ado-Ekiti, voting is in progress. 225 voters out of 586 registered voters have voted.


Voting concluded at Health Centre Unit 1 and 2 Ikere. Voters have stayed back at the polling units, waiting for counting to commence.


Voting finished at St. Mary sch PU010, Oloja, at 2.30pm. Voting ended at 2.36 p.m. @ PU001, Iworoko 09, Iropedun/Ifelodun LG.


PDP candidate Ayo Fayose just voted at Afao ward Unit 001 as voting winds up in the town.


Julius Toba Jegede, Media aide of Labour Pary candidate, Opeyemi Bamidele, told Premium Times that the rumour that Mr Bamidele has stepped down from the election is completely false and should be disregarded by his supporters. He said Mr Bamidele voted around 1pm and will be addressing the media soon.


Heavily armed security men arrive Fayose's town, Afao, in large numbers. But voting in Afao has been peaceful with voters conducting themselves in orderly manner.


55 out of 56 accredited voters queue to vote @Aafin Orun PU002 ward 10, Ise/Orun LG.


Jadesola Ajibola of Inspiration FM, Oyetunji Ojo of OSBC, Akin Ogunsola of OSBC and Aremu Awolola of OSBC were arrested at Ifaki Ekiti by over 50 mobile policemen led by the Mopol Commander, Patrick. They are being escorted to the boundry of Ekiti and Osun state. The mopol commander said the journalists had no business in Ekiti.


Voting has commenced in all polling units in Afao.


INEC officials counting voters at Afao ward unit 001 and 002 IMG_20140621_123220


Voting begins in Ekiti. At a polling unit in front of Delight Hotel along Ilawe Road, Ado Ekiti, the queue is in order as the voters wait anxioisly to vote.


Three persons were arrested in PU008, 013,014, Ijigbo ward 4 for distributing money.


Voters in unit 1 Afao(Ayo Fayose's Unit) are set to commence voting proper.


281 voters accredited @PU004, ward 09, Gbonyin LG. They are ready for voting proper.


None of the 18 governorship candidates is a woman, and only 6 deputy governorship candidates are women.


Ado-Ekiti ( the state capital) has the highest number of registered voters:134,141. Next is Irepodun/Ifelodun LG: 54,430. #Ekitidecides.


Fact: Ekiti has 16 local governments, 177 wards, 2,195 polling units, and 732,166 registered voters. #Ekitidecides.


Fact: 51 per cent of Ekiti's 732,166 registered voters are females.


Security forces complained of poor treatment that they had to sleep in primary schools in Oye LG.


Accreditation has been concluded in some centres. Voting will soon commence.


To win #Ekitidecides, a candidate must have simple majority votes and at least 25% votes in 2/3 of 16 local governments (approximately 11 local governments).


There is ongoing fierce argument on a supposed polling unit in Oyamokore farmstead in Erijiyan LGA. Some claim nobody lives there any longer. Some claim they always vote here.


In Ekiti South West LG, Ilawe ward, PU007, 011,010 have 292, 369 &182 registered voters respectively


Only voters with permanent voters cards will be allowed to vote, INEC says. AIT quotes INEC as saying over 400,000 registered voters collected their permanent cards.


#Ekitidecides, Number of registered voters @PU008, Iyin 2 ward is 231.


#CDDEEOM#Ekitidecides, Only LP, PDP and APC party agents present @PU013


In most of the polling units visited, only LP, APC and PDP agents are found. Accord Party seem to be missing except at the polling unit in Ward 3, Unit 13, Olokomeji, Ado Ekiti.


Niyi Adebayo,  Former Governor of Ekiti State, has put the total turnout of voters in his constituency, Iyin, at 70 percent. He also said that the supply of material has been very satisfactory. He said the process of accreditation cannot be used to judge the election process until voting proper starts. IMG_20140621_101357


At the polling unit in Jonathan Memorial Pry School, Ajilosun Ado-Ekiti, the process is orderly.


At the polling unit in Mary Mount Catholic Pry School, Oke-Ila it is rowdy here. The security agents are trying to maintain peace.


Akoidu Michael, APC agent at Ward 20 Iyin is complaining that some voters names were missing in the master list (Permanent Voters Card register)despite appearing on the valid registration list pasted on the wall. So accreditation is put on hold.


In Ward 07 Polling Unit Area 002 in Oke-Ila area, the accreditation began early but it is slow. There 1239 registered voterrs here. It will be a miracle if accreditation in concluded within the stipulated time.


Large voters turnout at Ward 20 Unit 1 in Adelabola Compound , Iyin. Number of register voters is 370. Accreditation still going on.


At Ward 9 Unit 003 Dallimore, there are 1,051 registered voters. Over 500 have been accedited. The exercise according to INEC adhoc staff started exactly 8.05am.


At Ward 09 Unit 33 polling unit, Dallimore area of Ado-Ekiti, the turn out is also impressive. There are 700 registered voters and many of them are complaining that the INEC adhoc staff are too slow and might not accredit all of them before 12.30pm. Here a man Abiodun Solomon Adebayo is complaining about his voting card but the INEC staff cannot help him.


Massive turn out of voters across Ado-Ekiti. The security in the state capital is tight. Some secyrity details are stationed in particular areas while some are roving.


In Ado Ekiti, the turn out for accreditation is impressive. At 09 Ado Dallimore Polling Unit the accreditation began exactly 8am. There are seven INEC adhoc staff. They said 976 registered to vote. The situation is the same in front of Ekiti State Univesity Teaching Hospital along Adebbayo Street.


Voters already queueing up for accreditation at Ward 3 Unit 1 Idemo, Ado Ekiti. IMG_20140621_075016




Voters agitation at Ekiti State Government College, Ado Ekiti (Ward 13 Unit 18) as the school security men lock voters and election officials outside. According to one of the security men, he has 'order from above' not to allow voters inside the school compound.


Nicholas: Election materials and officials have already arrived all the voting units I've been to so far in Ado Ekiti. Also, voters can be seen gathered at polling units already. From all indications there will be large voters turnout.

National Conference rejects constitutional recognition of First Lady

Conference 2

The Confab also set strict conditions for public officers seeking medical treatment abroad.

The National Conference on Wednesday unanimously threw out an amendment seeking the recognition of the Office of the First Lady by the 1999 Constitution.

It also rejected a proposal calling for the reduction of the minimum ages for Nigerians seeking election to the office of the president, governors and membership of the National Assembly by five years.

The Confab also set strict procedures that would be observed by public officers seeking medical treatment abroad.

These are some of the decisions taken while voting on the recommendations of the Committee on Social Sector and the amendments proposed to them.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Josephine Anenih, a former Women Affairs Minister and her deputy, Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, a former Minister of Education, earlier presented the report before amendments were proposed and considered.

During debate on the report, a delegate had proposed an amendment to the Constitution to ensure the incorporation of the Office of the First Lady.

However, when the Deputy Chairman, Bolaji Akinyemi, who moderated the voting session put it to vote, almost all the delegates voted against it.

Another amendment proposed by a Federal Government delegate, Mike Ozekhome calling for the reduction of the minimum age for presidential aspirants from 40 to 35, senatorial aspirants from 35 to 30 and House of Representatives from 30 to 25 to ensure that youth participate in political leadership, was roundly defeated.

However, in a bid to reduce the current negative impact of medical tourism on the image and integrity of Nigeria and her healthcare system, the delegates resolved that there should be restriction of government sponsorship of public officers for foreign medical care.

The confab agreed that unless for exceptional cases that require referral abroad, all public officers should mandatorily utilize local health facilities. These exceptional cases, it said, must be screened by a medical board made up of appropriate medical and healthcare professionals.

The Conference noted that seeking medical treatment abroad resulted in immense capital flight and drain on Nigeria’s economy resulting from medical tourism.

It cited abuse of existing processes for screening of referrals for foreign medical treatment as one of the reasons.

The delegates expressed desire for improvement in the quality of healthcare services in Nigeria; a deliberate effort to refocus the attitude of healthcare workers to patients in Nigeria; and improved
political commitment to health by political office holders.

Other resolutions reached by the conference are that:

-Free-healthcare be established for children aged 0-5 years; senior citizens from the age of 65 years; persons living with disability or the physically challenged persons; free maternal services and free school health programmes;

-Government and owners of mission/private schools should dialogue to facilitate the handover of all mission and private schools to their original owners. However, owners of such schools should ensure that they are affordable and able to serve wider variety of the public as it were in the original concept of the mission schools;

-There should be regulation of fees charged by the schools; the schools should provide assistance to the local community through scholarships and other services; and that children from other
denominations should not be marginalized in the admission process;

-Government should convert all Almajiri schools to normal schools and integrate Quranic education curriculum to absorb the millions of out of school children;

-Government should provide free basic education with free uniforms, books and midday meals for all children from primary one to junior secondary three;

-Government should build additional Almajiri Schools to bring them up to 400 as originally planned while a 10 year plan of sustained implementation should be put in place with a view to providing access
to all children;

-The 2004 Pension Act should be amended so that payment of pension to beneficiaries would continue throughout their lifetime instead of the current practice where payment is only made to people between 15 and 18 years post-retirement. The Conferees agreed on the urgent need to
amend the 2004 Pension Act to include a provision to hold the pension commission responsible and also prescribe penalties;

-Salary reviews should be reflected in calculating benefits across the board, particularly in reference to long-time retirees; salary increases should automatically affect retirees in both the old and new
pension systems;

-Pension fund administrators and the national pension commission should be obliged to begin a comprehensive programme of registering the informal sector workers under the 2004 Pensions Act;

-Social security policy be put in practice to cater for the well being of the elderly in addition to the pension policy;

-Federal Government should put into effective use, the National Policy on Women adopted in 2004 which was replaced with the National Gender Policy in 2006;

-Government should draft for passage and implementation, a Bill on the Abolition of all Forms of Discrimination against Women in Nigeria to address the issue of discrimination and violence against women and maltreatment of widows; and

-Government should legislate to prohibit installation of telecommunication mast in residential neighbourhoods and to prohibit other practices that negatively impact on health including female
genital mutilation.

Meanwhile, the proceedings at the Conference were held down for over 10 minutes as all the female delegates protested an amendment seeking to reduce the affirmative action on the appointment of women into political offices from 35 per cent to 30 per cent.

When delegates voted in support of the amendment, most of the female delegates left their seat demanding a reversal of the decision or else they would walk out.

However, some male delegates including a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’Abba spoke in favour of the women causing the leadership of the Conference to drop further action on the matter and accept the 35 per cent

Also, shortly after 6 p.m., a delegate from Kebbi State, Haliru Mohammed, protested the continuation of the session, saying since most delegates had left and the decisions of the Conference would be a

Despite the protest, Mr. Akinyemi continued with the proceedings apparently determined to conclude work on the report of the Social Sector Committee.

A few minutes later, Mr. Mohammed rose again to resume his protest, but was rebuked by the Chairman of the Conference who repeatedly shouted “You can’t intimidate us.”

The Conference subsequently adjourned at about 7.30 p.m. the first time since March 17 when it commenced sitting.

Confab rejects proposal for revival of Nigeria Airways

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Delegates resolved that major airports in the country should be linked to functional rail lines

The National Conference on Tuesday rejected a proposal asking President Goodluck Jonathan to revive Nigeria Airways or in the alternative establish a new national carrier.

It also rejected an amendment that Close Circuit Televisions be installed in highways across the country.

The Conference rejected another amendment recommending that a driver who kills while driving out of reckless, negligence or drunk, shall pay N10 million to the family of the victim and if he cannot pay the said sum, he shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without an option of fine.

It, however, adopted another proposal asking the Federal Government to ensure that every major airport in the country is linked to functional rail lines to boost easy access to the airports.

These are some of the decisions taken by the Conference while voting on the recommendations of the Committee on Transport and the amendments proposed to them.

The Committee chairman, Musa Adede, a former senator, had earlier presented the report after which delegates proposed amendments to its recommendations.

In the report, it observed that the existing transportation infrastructure in Nigeria comprising roads, railways, ports, airport and pipelines was inadequate in terms of accessibility and inter-operability.

It noted that the transportation sector represents “a significant proportion of Nigeria’s key infrastructure because it facilitates the links between spatially located facilities and acts as mechanism for maintaining social contact.”

Transportation, it said, affects the totality of a country’s activity ranging from its people, economy, environment and even its politics.

The report also noted that an ineffective transportation system could frustrate the efforts of government and the people, while an adequate transport system could impact positively on the national development and enhance the standard of living of the people.

“A well-planned and developed inter-modal transportation system is an essential infrastructure requirement for socio-economic development,” it said.

“Transportation goes beyond facilitating the movement of people and goods but also contributes to the regional and national development creating positive multiplier effects on all sectors of the economic activities, which will lead to job creation and poverty alleviation.”

During the debate on the report, an amendment was proposed to ask “the president to take immediate action to revive Nigerian Airways or establish a new national carrier that is private-sector driven as done in different climes.”

However, Mr. Adede said there was no need for the amendment because the Nigerian Airways had long been disbanded while the workers were being owed entitlements.

He also said that the defunct organization was still owing some debts abroad.

Other recommendations and amendments accepted are that:

Government should initiate and construct a rail line from Lagos to Enugu through Ore to ease movement of goods and passengers from the Western flanks of the country to the East and South South;

Rail lines should be made to have a dualisation policy to allow for mass movements of trains as obtained in developed rail systems in other parts of the world;

-Effective rail system should be developed such that petroleum products can be transported from one part of the country to the other in order to reduce road accidents and other associated hazards;

-Government should as a matter of urgency complete the National Hanger Project at Uyo Airport in Akwa Ibom State so that it would serve as a repair and maintenance hub to airlines operators;

-Government should ensure urgent construction of perimeter roads and fences around the airports so as to enhance airport security and prevent incidents of stray animals colliding with aircraft on the run way;

-Abandoned Onitsha Cargo Airport in Anambra State should be completed to enhance commercial activities in the South-east;

-Government should fast-track the completion of Lokoja and Onitsha ports projects; and also dredges all inland waterways;

-Government must, as a matter of priority, fast-track the completion of East-West Road which links the southern parts of the country to the western part to enhance effective transportation within the geo-political zones;

-Government should establish Road Development Fund for the development and maintenance of public roads and that the sources of revenue may include among others, toll gates with a provision for alternative routes, vehicle tax, weigh bridges, parking fees and petroleum tax;

-There should be a legal framework for the private sector participation in the financing and management of public roads in the country;

-The Federal Government should start work on the Nigerian sector of the Trans-African Highway as a way of easing transportation with the African continent;

-The Aviation Technical Centre in Zaria in Kaduna State and Maritime Academy should be well funded to make them more efficient;

-The dredging of River Benue and all other water ways, while the transport sector should be decentralised for efficiency; and

-Incentives should be given to the private sector to build trailer parks, while major airports should be linked to rail lines for accessibility.

The Conference declined voting on an amendment proposed that the N51 billion in the banks unclaimed dividends should be channelled to the railway and that latter claimant of such dividends may be allocated shares in the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC.

This followed warnings by some delegates that doing so would not only send wrong signals to the international community, but would create uncertainty in the Stock Market.