Weekly political notes
Saraki Speaks On Trial Of CCT Chairman, Tackles EFCC
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of making mockery of the fight against corruption, in his ongoing trial over alleged false assets declaration.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Saraki also said he “sympathised” with the Code of Conduct Tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, whom he described as a victim of the commission’s dramatic twist of events.
“I sympathise with the Chairman of the Tribunal, Danladi Umar, for his travail in the hands of the EFCC, which suddenly woke up four days to the resumption of this case to file criminal charges against him,” Saraki wrote.
Even though, Saraki’s empathy for Umar may be misunderstood, it is obvious that the fresh criminal charges against Umar by the EFCC is an afterthought. The timing of the charges is more suspicious than the charges itself, coming few days to the resumption of Saraki’s trial at CCT. Again, why another sudden criminal charges against Umar, when the same EFCC has cleared him of any crime at the peak of Saraki’s trial in April 2016?
It appears that EFCC, acting a written script wants to keep Umar on his toes in Saraki’s resumed trial at CCT. But if that is the case, is EFCC’s action not an attempt to ambush the judiciary to pervert justice?
Meanwhile, instead of sympathising with Umar, Saraki is the one who deserves sympathy as it is clear that there are genuine and determined efforts by some people to ensure that the long arm of the law catches up with him before 2019. Interestingly, Saraki knows this and appears ready for the battle of his political life. But for how long will he fight?
2019: Buhari Appoints Tinubu To Lead APC Reconciliation Committee
President Muhammadu Buhari, has named Bola Tinubu to lead the charge for a united All Progressives Congress (APC) as 2019 elections draw closer.
In a statement Tuesday morning, the president said the former Lagos governor would focus on “consultation, reconciliation and confidence building efforts” for the ruling party.
“The assignment will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states,” the statement, which was posted on the president’s Twitter handle read.
Even though, Tinubu has not publicly accepted this role, but if he does, he deserves every gratitude and respect from Buhari and his cabal that ran Buhari and his APC-led government aground. It, perhaps, shows that Tinubu is a loyal party member who understands what it takes to keep a party and government afloat. Why the choice of Tinubu now, when the same Buhari government ditched Tinubu after riding on his back to power?
Where are the Kyaris and Dauras, who hijacked Buhari’s government since 2015 at the expense of party faithful, who worked for Buhari’s victory? Let it not be that because 2019 elections are closer and there is fire on the mountain in the APC-led government that made Buhari to start courting Tinubu again. Tinubu over to you, once bitten, twice shy.
It is hoped that Buhari and his cohorts will give Tinubu free hand to do the work, considering that recommendations by similar committees in the past were abandoned by the party leadership and the presidency.
Buhari Ignores Health Minister, Reinstates
Suspended NHIS Chief
President Muhammadu Buhari, has reinstated the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf. He was suspended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in June, 2017, following allegations of gross misconduct.
A panel, constituted by the minister after Yusuf’s suspension later found him culpable of infractions that ranged from nepotism to alleged theft of public funds.
An administration official familiar with the development said on Tuesday that Buhari did not consider Yusuf’s indictment by a ministerial panel before asking him to return to work. According to the source, the letter of reinstatement was sent to Adewole on Tuesday evening.
Hmmm, what has come of Buhari and his government’s policy decisions that border on issues of national integrity? Even though, it is within President Buhari’s constitutional power to hire and fire any of his government’s appointees, it is morally and ethically wrong of him to bypass a senior government official to reinstate his subordinate. This is especially when such subordinate had been indicted of misdemeanours, while in office.
Whatever informed Buhari’s decision on this issue is absolutely wrong and unacceptable. This is capable of undermining his government’s anti-corruption fight; if at all there is anything left of it. This has once again exposed the nepotism that has bedeviled his government from the inception.
Even if Buhari was not satisfied with the committee’s findings on Yusuf, he ought to have subjected the matter to further inquiry, make it public before taking final decision. Why the hurry to reinstate Yusuf, to spite the minister, encourage corruption or to show Yusuf the spirit of brotherhood in contravention of the law. It is all of the above. Who says the suspended DG of SEC, Mounir Gwarzo will not be reinstated, when Nigeria has become an “Animal Farm”
2019: Senate, Reps Adopt Reordered
Sequence Of Election
The National Assembly Conference Committee on Electoral Act (amendment) Bill on Tuesday adopted the reordered sequence of the 2019 general elections, making presidential election to come last.
It would be recalled that the House of Representatives had few weeks ago, began process to amend the Electoral Act 2010 with the inclusion of section 25(1) in the law.
This was to reorder the sequence of the elections, to commence with National Assembly, followed by governorship and State House of Assemblies and Presidential as last.
This is against the sequence rolled out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) late 2017, which put Presidential and National Assembly elections first and governorship and state assembly to follow.
The Chairman of Senate Committee on INEC, Suleiman Nazif, said that the bill did not in any way violate any provisions of Section 76 of the 1999 Constitution, which empowered INEC to fix dates and conduct elections.
He said the words “empowering INEC’’ to that effect were duplicated in the bill just as powers conferred on the National Assembly by section 4 (2) of the Constitution were exercised in relation to rescheduling of elections.
The National Assembly members’ decision on this is self-serving and is to be expected. It is in the habit of the present National Assembly members to always put their interests above every other interest. This is typical of Nigerian politicians, especially when it has to do with elections.
Unless the court decides otherwise or the constitution is amended to the effect, National Assembly members should have known that they have no power to fix or decide sequence of election for INEC. If it is the plan of National Assembly to amend the constitution before 2019 to usurp the power of INEC over election, it means that this democracy will be in danger.
National Assembly members should be very cautious and careful not to derail the democracy by ambushing INEC and usurping its functions of fixing and conducting elections. If their fears is about losing election, it simply means they have not performed and are afraid of their shadows.
EFCC Recovered Over N500b In 2017–Magu
The anti-graft agency, EFCC, said on Monday that it recovered about N511.9 billion in 2017.
The acting chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, who disclosed this, said his agency, between January and December 2017, recovered more than N473 billion, $98 million, €7 million, and £294,000 among others.
Magu disclosed this at his agency’s budget defence session organised by the House of Representatives committee on financial crimes.
This is cheering news, but the recovered loots have not impacted positively on the life of an average Nigerian. The recovery can only make much meaning when the people begin to directly feel the impact.
Meanwhile, Magu didn’t disclose where the recovered loots are. But if as expected it is in government’s custody, it is time for the government not only to account for it, but to use it judiciously to better the lots of the people. That is if the recovered loots have not been relooted.
It is hoped that Magu got his figures right, before other government officials would contradict him as usual.
Alleged Corruption: Ex-Minister Akinjide Ready To Settle Out Of Court
A former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, on Tuesday, notified the Federal High Court, Lagos, of her plan to negotiate with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the possibility of settling the alleged fraud charge preferred against her out of court.
The EFCC had, on January 16, re-arraigned Akinjide, Sen. Ayo Adeseun and Chief (Mrs.) Olanrewaju Otiti, before the court on a 24-count charge.
Akinjide’s lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), revealed this while addressing Justice Muslim Sule Hassan on his client’s intention, noting that the matter was about the campaign funds of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State.
Adding that before the start of trial, the party took the decision to return the fund complained of by the prosecution through his client.
Hmmm, Nigerian politicians are too smart in committing financial fraud, but always afraid of losing their freedom, when push comes to shove.
So public money was given to Akinjide and her cohorts to use for the election, but they cornered the money and allowed their party, PDP, to lose the election. Now who is loser between Akinjide and her party, PDP, especially now that the long arm of law has caught up with her?
The proposed out-of-court settlement by Akinjide should not only be done transparently, it should include refunding the interest accruing on the money since it was handed over to Akinjide. EFCC should not allow itself to be shortchanged in this arrangement, considering that Nigerian politicians do not deserve the sympathy of anybody, including the anti-graft agencies.
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