This development paves the way for a much-delayed charge on the legislative programme envisaged by the Peace AgreementNEW YORK, United States of America, September 16, 2021/APO Group/ --
South Sudan has made history with the appointment of two women to senior leadership positions within its Transitional National Legislature, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council on Wednesday, as he encouraged parties to build on these gains in efforts to overcome significant political and security headwinds.
Nicholas Haysom, UN Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said 30 August saw the inauguration of the reconstituted Parliament, with members sworn in on 2 August – including the first female Speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and female Deputy Speaker of the Council of States.
“This development paves the way for a much-delayed charge on the legislative programme envisaged by the Peace Agreement”, he said, stressing that it must now be complemented by the reconstitution of state legislatures.
He said the extensive legislative agenda includes passage of priority bills already prepared by the National Constitution Amendment Committee on the reform of security, financial, judicial, constitutional and electoral institutions.
With 12 September marking the three-year anniversary of the revitalized peace agreement in South Sudan, “certainly, the reconstitution of the national parliament presents an opportunity to infuse urgency in the implementation of the peace process,” he stressed.
A ministerial task force has presented a bill on the constitution-making process to the Minister of Justice and regional development body IGAD, he added.
The constitution making process - an important peace process benchmark - marks a critical step forward in its own right, the Mission chief said, signifying a social contract between all South Sudanese on the arrangements by which they can live together in peace and harmony.
Elections: prepare, prepare, prepare
In parallel, electoral preparations should be conducted, he said. While there is no consensus on the timelines, the two extensions to the transitional period would see elections being held in early 2023, requiring the completion of a voters’ register by late 2022. Without adequate technical and political preparations, “this event could be a catastrophe instead of a national turning point,” he said.
He pointed to the consultative process for the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing as another important development.
To be sure, the lack of progress in the transitional security arrangements is now the major challenge. He encouraged parties to agree on the unified command-and-control structures of the national security institutions without delay, citing fractures within the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO), as an “unfortunate result” of the slow pace.
Avoid ‘adversarial politics’
Mr. Haysom warned that desertions of forces led by Generals Gatwech, Olony and Thomas Dhul - and the conflicts between these groups and forces loyal to Riek Machar - will undermine the peace process. The delays also have widened the imbalance between the main parties to the revitalized peace agreement. “It is imperative that the parties put aside adversarial politics to work as a unity Government.”
Record food insecurity
Reena Ghelani, Director of Operations and Advocacy Division, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA), said people in South Sudan are facing the highest levels of food insecurity recorded since independence: over 60 per cent of the population is severely food insecure.
The combined effects of conflict, climate shocks, displacement, COVID-19 and the lack of investment in infrastructure and basic services, have driven them deeper into need.
More than 8.3 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 1.4 million children, she said. Estimates in December 2020 found that 2.4 million people faced emergency levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 4 or above) between April and July 2021.
In five of these six locations, she said conflict was the major driver fuelling displacement and leading to the loss of lives, assets and livelihoods.
‘A lifeline out of starvation’
She said humanitarian agencies scaled up the multi-sectoral response in the at-risk counties, reaching over half a million people between January and June. “We have managed to give thousands a lifeline out of starvation.”
The response is part of a larger aid operation that has assisted 4.4 million people across the country between January and June with food, medical and nutritional care, water and sanitation, protection support and shelter.
Attacks along supply routes
However, she said non-State armed groups and certain youth groups continue to hamper access, looting humanitarian facilities and frequently attacking civilian and humanitarian convoys along key supply routes. The disruptions have fuelled higher prices of essential goods for an already vulnerable population.
Meanwhile, she said flooding for a third consecutive year has affected nearly 426,000 people along the Nile river, the Sudd wetland and the Sobat.
The World Food Programme (WFP) was forced to reduce food rations in all Refugee, Protection of Civilian and IDP camps from April 2021, due to inadequate funding – a move that affected 700,000 people. In October, it will be forced to stop support in IDP camps in Bor, Juba, and Wau, as resources were re-prioritized to counties where people were at the brink of famine.
Going forward, she called all actors to de-escalate the violence, stressing that humanitarians need Government support to ensure safe and unhindered access to people in need. The $1.7 billion Humanitarian Response Plan - the largest ever for South Sudan - is only 56 per cent funded and she urged donors to give at scale early in 2022, so aid efforts can get ahead of the needs.
By Edith Ike-Eboh
In line with the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure an efficient oil and gas sector for economic development in Nigeria, the president not only assented to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) but has approved a steering committee to oversee the process of implementation of the act.
The committee, according to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, will be headed by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Other members of the committee are: permanent secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Executive Chairman, FIRS, Representatives of the Ministries of Justice, Fice, Budget and National Planning, the Senior Special Assistant to the president On Natural Resources.
Mr Olufemi Lijadu will serve as Legal Adviser while the Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, will serve as head of the coordinating Secretariat and the Implementation Working Group.
The primary responsibility of the committee shall be to guide the effective and timely implementation of the PIA in the course of transition to the petroleum industry envisaged in the reform programme, and ensure that new institutions created have the full capability to deliver on their mandate under the new legislation.
According to the president, the committee has 12 months to complete the assignment and periodic updates will be given to the president.
In the week under review, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) assured Nigerians that the Federal Government has no immediate plans to increase the price of petrol following the signing of the PIB into law by Buhari.
According to the Corporation, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timpre Sylva, revealed this at a news conference to mark his second year in office, adding that the ministry had delivered on its promise to have the PIB passed into law.
Sylva highlighted the achievements of the ministry in the last two years to include the reduction of smuggling of petroleum products which has brought down the daily consumption of petrol from 66million liters per day to 52 million, reduction of cost of crude oil production by five per cent, with the possibility of hitting 10 per cent.
He said though the subsidy regime has ended with the coming into effect of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), the government was mindful of the impact of deregulation on Nigerians and so would not rush into its implementation to ensure the welfare of ordinary Nigerians.
The Minister further explained the incorporation of the NNPC Limited as required by the PIA and the, the three percent host community fund as enshrined in the act.
On the planned divestment by Shell, the Minister said that Shell was still keen on investing in Nigeria as it is an existing partner in the operation of OML 245, adding that he was in consultation with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to iron out the legal issues.
He noted that Nigeria currently had the capacity to produce three million barrels of crude oil per day but was restricted to 1.4million barrels because of international obligations.
Also, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari has expressed his appreciation to President Muhamadu Buhari for signing the Petroleum Industry Bill into law without delay.
Kyari who spoke after the signing of the bill allayed the concerns of the oil producing communities, explaining that the three per cent approved under the new Petroleum Industry Act for Host Communities Fund could be bigger than what the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) currently gets.
He clarified that the law mandates the payment of three per cent of oil companies’ operating expenses in the previous year to the host oil communities, which are mostly in the Niger Delta.
According to him, with about 16 billion dollars total operating expenditure by the oil and gas sector last year, as much as 500 million dollars could accrue to the Host Communities Fund yearly.
The GMD said although in the past there were attempts to make sure that oil companies provided for the host communities, it was not done in the right manner, even if carried out in the name of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects.
He stressed that the signing into law of the new Act essentially means transforming from the Petroleum Act which was enacted in 1969 to a law that is relevant to current realities, adding that with the legislation, the NNPC would now operate under the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).
Given the new scenario, Kyari pointed out that the NNPC would become more efficient, slimmer and a much more commercially focused national oil company at par with its peers across the globe, pledging that the company will do better under the new arrangement.
He added that there was already a framework established by government, which would take care of the transition within the time frame of six months to incorporate and transfer assets and personnel, among others.
While the new law envisages a fully deregulated market, Kyari stressed that a number of engagements have been going on to ensure a smooth transition.
However, he said when deregulation eventually happens, there would be safeguards against market manipulation to ensure that the poor and vulnerable are not unduly exposed.
Still in the week under review, the Corporation pledged improved collaboration with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) to enhance the Corporation’s transparency and accountability quotient while receiving the President of ICAN, Mrs. Comfort OluEyitayo, at the NNPC Towers, Abuja.
On her part, Eyitayo commended the GMD for his leadership style while noting that the institute was taking note of the deliberate steps taken by the NNPC to institute global best practices in accounting.
On poor power supply in Borno State, The NNPC said that to tackle the challenge, it has taken the execution of the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) and Equipment Procurement contracts for a 50 Megawatts (MW) Emergency Power Project in Maiduguri.
The project which is an integral part of the ongoing efforts to deepen the Corporation’s domestic gas utilisation plan for the nation’s socio-economic growth has China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC) as the EPC contractor while General Electric (GE), the equipment manufacturer.
Speaking at the contract signing event Kyari explained that the Corporation through its subsidiary, NNPC Gas and Power Investment Company (NGPIC), decided to intervene in the Maiduguri power situation by undertaking the project which would be fired with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and run commercially.
He said NNPC, as a state-owned oil company and enabler organisation, was determined to boost power generation and supply to Nigerian homes through increased investment in gas-fired combined cycle power plants to produce at least five Gigawatts (GW) additional power for the country.
Vice President of GE Africa & Europe, Mr. Raisin Brice, said the company was committed to working with NNPC to achieve success in the Power Project, noting that GE would be tapping into its vast experience in the country to deliver on the project.
Similar support and commitment were echoed by Mr Fang Yanshui, President of CMEC, the main EPC contractor for the project.
As a mark of confidence in the project, the contractors have already started moving vital equipment to site as work has commenced. I
On Fire Safety, the Federal Fire Service (FFS) has commended the NNPC for its strict adherence and commitment to fire and environmental safety practice in all its operations.
The commendation was given by the Comptroller General of the FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim, while presenting certificates of fire safety to the Corporation at the NNPC Towers, Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the Comptroller General, represented by Deputy Superintendent of Fire, Mr. Sunday Oduye, said NNPC had always prioritised the health and safety of its workforce as well as that of the environment, adding that the revalidation of its fire safety certificates for the next three years was a testament to that fact.
On his part, the General Manager, Group Health, Safety, Environment and Quality, GHSEQ, NNPC, Mr Hussaini Ali, said the revalidation was part of efforts to secure the NNPC Towers against fire incidents.
He noted that as a public limited liability company, it was necessary for the corporation to be insured comprehensively to attract investment.
Fire safety certification is an instrument required for the procurement of insurance cover which indemnifies the organization against liabilities in case of fire or any damage to its properties.
Also in the week under review, Kyari reiterated the Corporation’s commitment to support the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited towards achieving its goal of becoming a global LNG company of choice.
Speaking as a Guest of Honour at the 2021 NLNG Health Safety and Environment (HSE) Day, the GMD, who was represented by the Group General Manager, LNG Investment Management Services (LIMS), Nike Kolawole, said HSE was a critical determit of business performance success across the oil and gas industry.
Kyari stated that as a principal shareholder in the company, NNPC would continue to ensure that NLNG placed more emphasis on HSE, stressing that “no matter the figures, indices or values recorded in production, sales, profit or revenue, a dismal HSE performance would lead to obliteration of long built achievement”.
He remarked that the rapid growth of NLNG from the base project (Trains 1 and 2) to six trains was unprecedented and commended the company for its ability to adapt and effectively manage changes within the period.
Earlier in his remarks, the outgoing Managing Director of NLNG, Mr. Tony Attah, said the focus of this year’s HSE Day was on identifying the weak and dark corners for continuous improvement on the organization’s HSE policy.
Global Crude Oil Outlook
Oil prices weakened for a fourth session due to a strong dollar as surging cases of coronavirus in Japan added to a weak demand picture in Asia.
Brent crude ended the session down 48 cents, or 0.7 per cent, at 69.03 dollars per barrel, while U.S. West Intermediate crude (WTI) settled 70 cents, or one per cent lower at 66.59 dollars a barrel.
The dollar advanced for a second straight session, bolstered by safe-haven demand. A strong dollar makes oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, extended its state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions on Tuesday and announced new measures covering seven more prefectures to counter a spike in COVID-19 infections that is threatening the medical system.
Hedge funds and money managers cut net long positions in U.S. crude to the lowest since November in the week to Aug. 10 as resurgent coronavirus infections in several countries dampened hopes of a rapid resumption in long-distance air travel.
Meanwhile, the market intelligent department of the NNPC London office reported that Russian crude oil production costs hit a 10-year high in the second quarter of 2021 as companies increased their capital spending in response to the OPEC-plus alliance’s move to gradually increase output.
A rising tax burden and a deterioration in the quality of Russia’s oil reserves — which are becoming more difficult to extract — also contributed to the increase in costs.
Daily crude processing in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, fell to its lowest in July since May 2020 as independent plants slashed production amid tighter quotas, high inventories and weakening profits, data showed.
China’s factory output and retail sales growth also slowed sharply and missed expectations in July, as new COVID-19 outbreaks and floods disrupted businesses.
On the supply side, U.S. shale oil output is expected to rise to 8.1 million barrels per day (bpd) in September, the highest since April 2020, according to government data.
Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration urged OPEC+, a group comprising of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers such as Russia, to boost oil output to tackle rising gasoline prices. (www.)
By Ebere Agozie
The Federal Government will soon resuscitate Special Terrorism Prosecution Courts, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has said.
Malami made this known in a statement by Dr Umar Gwandu his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations on Thursday in Abuja.
The move, Malami said is geared towards the Federal Government’s commitment to end insecurity in the country.
“The federal government is committed to ending insecurity in the country, and added that the courts are to bring to book all those found guilty in connection with terrorism so as to serve as deterrence to others.
“In addition to the prosecution of 400 suspected Boko Haram financiers, the measures taken by the government will counter the twin trouble of insurgency and insecurity in the country’’.
Malami also, while felicitating with Muslim faithful all over the world on the occasion of the year’s Eid Al-Fitr, noted that Ramadan fast comes with numerous lessons.
“The lessons include sincerity, honesty, commitment, sacrifice, selflessness, introspection and empathy, among others’’.
He therefore urged Muslims, as they celebrate, to continue to be law-abiding, have sober reflections and exhibit the imbibed lessons learnt during the period of Ramadan fast.
The Minister saluted the commitment of clerics in enlightening their followers on various issues during the month of fast, urging them to maintain the tempo, even beyond the period of Ramadan. (NAN)(NAN)
By Rotimi Ijikanmi
The Federal Government says it is not overwhelmed by security challenges facing the country and has the wherewithal to confront them headlong and restore law and order.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated this on Tuesday in Lagos at a meeting with the Online Publishers.
Mohammed who was briefing the publishers on national security said the federal government was conscious of the development and working to restore peace, law and order,
The minister berated those advocating for truncation of democracy over the security challenges.
“I have read comments saying the Federal Government is overwhelmed and does not have a clue as to how to tackle the challenges.
“Some have even gone as far as suggesting a truncation of the democratic order, a clearly treasonable stance.
“Well, I am here today to assure all Nigerians that the government acknowledges the security challenges we face at this time, from terrorism to kidnaping, banditry and farmer-herder conflict.
“It is definitely not overwhelmed and indeed it has the wherewithal, as you will see in the days ahead, to confront the challenges headlong and restore law and order, peace and security,” he said.
The minister frowned at the negative narrative that the terrorists and bandits had superior firepower over the nation’s military.
He said the military were constraint by the possibility of recording collateral damage.
“One of the most difficult things to do, for a democratically-elected government, is to use the instruments of coercion against its own people.
“For example, while the nation’s military have superior firepower over the rag tag band of Boko Haram and ISWA, the terrorists most often than not operate among the populace, either in our villages or towns.
“Hence the military, in tackling them, is usually careful to avoid collateral damage,” he said.
Mohammed added: “The same applies to the kidnappers who abduct our school children.
“Usually, the location of the kidnappers is not unknown to the security forces, but they still have to exercise caution in order not to hurt the same children they are trying to rescue.
“Despite these inhibitions, the security forces have the wherewithal to decisively tackle the challenges”.
Mohammed said the recent announcement by the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on the readiness of government to prosecute 400 suspects arrested for allegedly funding terrorism was a testament of government’s determination to decisively tackle terrorism and other violent crimes.
He appealed to Nigerians and particularly the media to play their part in lowering the palpable tension in the polity.
“The first step is to tone down the rhetoric.
“While the media must continue to carry out its primary responsibility to inform, criticize and stimulate debate, it must also realise that it can only carry out this responsibility in an atmosphere of peace and security.
“I am therefore appealing to the media to play its part in dousing the pervasive tension.
“Lending your platforms to uncompromising separatists and die-hard pessimists about the survival of our nation can only overheat the polity and aggravate the security challenges.
“This is not a call for censorship. It is a call for responsibility, in the national interest,” he said.
The minister also appealed to all Nigerians to continue to support security agencies who are working daily to protect them. (NAN)(NAN)
By Ibrahim Bello
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, has donated a Peugeot 406 car and 24 motorcycles to selected Ulamas in Kebbi.
Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar-Jombali, Publicity Secretary of Khadimiyya for Justice and Development Initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded by the minister, made this known in a statement on Monday in Birnin Kebbi.
Malami, in the statement, described Ulamas as critical stakeholders in ensuring peace and unity in the country.
While presenting the donation, the minister, represented by his Personal Assistant, Alhaji Nafi’u Yakubu- Lugga, said that the Ulamas deserved every support and encouragement as the first point of every child’s spiritual and moral guidance.
He also urged them not to relent in praying and preaching for the peace and unity of the country.
Earlier, the National Coordinator of the NGO, Alhaji Malami Abdulqadir, congratulated the beneficiaries and commended Yakubu- Lugga for facilitating the distribution of the items.
He described Yakubu-Lugga as a loyal personal assistant committed to the ideals of his principal.
Also speaking, the Manager, Kadi Malami Foundation, Alhaji Yahaya Koko, described the numerous acts of philanthropy embarked upon by the AGF as something he inherited from his late father.
“The mobility gesture to the Ulamas is not the first of its kind as the two NGOs have been executing meaningful projects that have direct bearing on the lives of citizens,” he said.
The Chairman, Kebbi State League of Imam and Ulamas, Sheikh Ibrahim Umar-Bayawa, commended the minister for his various interventions.
He said the gesture would encourage them to redouble their efforts in impacting knowledge and preaching the gospel of peace in the society.
“The Ulamas and Imams will remain indebted to the minister for always extending the hands of assistance and drawing them close in his humanitarian activities.
“I urge other appointees of government and the well-meaning individuals to borrow a leaf from the minister in his fight against poverty which will go along way in restoring the peaceful co-oexistence in the state and the country,” he said. (NAN).(NAN)
By Ebere Agozie
The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment towards return of looted Nigerian assets kept outside the country.
The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, made this known in a statement issued by Dr Umar Gwandu, his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations on Monday in Abuja.
“Any moment from now, Nigeria will get the return of the 4.2 million pounds seized from the associates of convicted former Governor of Delta, James Ibori.
“Sometimes when a country transfers funds, it may take a little more time than expected due to some documentations.
“My office and other relevant government agencies will keep the public informed once the Ibori loot is received and confirmed’’.
He said the federal government is in touch with the government of the United Kingdom on the matter.
“Documentations with the banks in different countries often take longer than expected. We anticipated two weeks but we are not in control of the banks,” he said.
Malami maintained that the government is working assiduously to make sure that the transfer goes through successfully.
“There is neither complacency nor undue delay as efforts are being made to ensure successful transfer of the funds,” he assured. (NAN)(NAN)
By Taiye Agbaje
The arraignment of staff members of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) for alleged forgery and falsification of documents, was on Wednesday stalled because of the ongoing strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a Wuse Zone 2 Magistrate Court, Abuja, on March 16, gave the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, three weeks to produce two staff of OGFZA; Mr Wasiu Sule, the Head of Legal Services and Secretary to OGFZA’s Board and Mr Alenju Ngofa, who is the Human Resource Head of the organisation, for arraignment.
The Magistrate, Mabel Segun-Bello, gave the order after counsel to the nominal complainant, Nkereuwem Akpan, informed the court that the accused persons had evaded service of court processes on them despite several attempts.
NAN reports that while the complainant is Mr Olufunmilayo David Omosule, the 1st and 2nd defendants are Sule and Ngofa respectively.
The magistrate also gave the police commissioner the go-ahead to investigate the defendants on allegations levelled against them.
Segun-Bello then adjourned the matter until April 26 for hearing.
OGFZA and Omosule had been locked in legal battle over the legality or otherwise of the plaintiff’s suspension, following his petition against some management staff of the agency on alleged corruption.
Omosule alleged that the defendants wilfully and maliciously distorted his records “to appear as though he does not possess any requisite qualification to be employed at OGFZA or any qualification at all to be considered for promotion.”
He said their action was tantamount to forgery and falsification of documents contrary to Section 363 and 364 of the Penal Code, which is detrimental and injurious to his person.
The agency had via a letter dated April 18, 2011, suspended Omosule as the manager of its Abuja office, on the grounds that he refused to comply with its letter dated Dec. 3, 2010, which had directed him to present the originals of his credentials for verification.
Omosule, however, refuted the claim of the authority, stating that he made available to the organisation, Certified True Copies (CTCs) of his educational certificates /credentials, including GCE ‘O Level certificates and degree certificates as instructed.
Omosule had claimed that the originals of his credentials were misplaced in untraceable circumstances as at 2010 when the report to submit originals was made.
The claimant also averred that the CTCs of his certificates submitted to the agency were certified by the issuing institutions, which included West African Examination Council and the University of Ado-Ekiti, then Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti respectively.
The claimant is therefore seeking the court ‘s declaration that he was still a staff of the organisation and entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits due to him by reason of his employment.
He is praying the court for an order directing the defendant to reinstate him to the position of a director, on grade level 17, a position he claimed his contemporaries were currently.
Omosule is equally seeking for the order of the court to direct the agency to pay all his outstanding salaries, benefits and entitlement since 2011.
In addition, he is asking the court to order the organisation to pay him the of N50 million as exemplary and general damages.
NAN reports that a verdict of the Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, had in January 2014, held that financial autonomy for the judiciary is a constitutional provision that must be complied with by the executive branch of government.NAN reports that on May 23, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Executive Order to grant financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the country.
The order also mandates the accountant-general of the federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.
The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Executive Order No. 10 of 2020, made it mandatory that all states of the federation should include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets.
According to the AGF, “a Presidential Implementation Committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).”
NAN reports that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said they will start implementing financial autonomy for the judiciary latest by May ending, a pledge that indicates that an end to the ongoing strike that has crippled the nation’s judiciary may be in sight.
The governors also called on striking members of the JUSUN to call off their two weeks old strike.
The chairman of the NGF, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, gave this assurance in an interview with journalists after meeting with ‘stakeholders’ from the state judiciary and legislature at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He said the modalities for the implementation were worked out at the meeting held at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, the meeting, chaired by the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari, was attended by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, the representatives of the judiciary, the representatives of the Conference of Speakers, and House of Representatives.
The first line charge status, which is being respected by the federal government in respect of the federal judiciary, entitles the state judiciaries to get funds due to them directly from the federation account.
The governors rushed to court in 2020 to challenge an executive order signed by President Buhari for the enforcement of the first line charge status of both the state judiciary and legislature.
They argued that executive order which directs the accountant-general of the federation to deduct funds meant for the state judiciaries and legislatures in the federation account and pay it to them was “unconstitutional”. (NAN)(NAN)
By Muhammad Nasir
Mr. Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, urged the judiciary not to be biased in the delivery of judgments.
Malami handed the task over to Sokoto on Monday as he spoke at the inauguration of the reconstructed Sokoto State High Court complex.
He said that as an ordinary man's last hope, the judiciary should remain impartial at all times.
"The judiciary must guarantee fairness at all times, the duty of impartiality is sacred and must be respected," he said.
The Minister of Justice congratulated Governor Aminu Tambuwal for rebuilding the court complex and equipping it with state-of-the-art facilities.
"This should boost the morale of the judiciary, the work done on this complex shows how seriously the state government takes the judiciary," he said.
Malami said that a high-level conversation was already underway concerning better social protection for judicial officers.
“Several meetings have taken place to ensure that the social protection system for judicial officers reflects current realities.
“A committee to review the salaries and conditions of service of judicial officers has been set up to ensure a better social protection system.
"Allow me to assure you that the efforts of this committee will soon bear fruit and will benefit the judicial officers", he declared.
Tambuwal said the court complex project offered an opportunity to overhaul the state's justice system.
"We are doing our best to support the judiciary, it is because we believe in its independence and in its ability to give hope to the common man," he said.
The governor congratulated the minister on accepting the state government's invitation to launch the project.
Also speaking, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Judge Ibrahim Tanko, described the reconstructed project as a good omen for the provision of judicial services in the state.
Represented by Judge Amina Augie, Tanko congratulated the state government for this gesture and urged state bailiffs to develop a good culture of maintenance while using the complex.
The (NAN) reports that 20 state high court judges received Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles during the event to boost their morale. (NOPE)(NAN)
The 9.6 billion dollar judgment debt by a UK court against Nigeria came like the dead albatross, forced about the neck of the Mariner in Samuel Coleridge’s lyrical ballads “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. Like the Coleridge’s ballads, the longest poem by the English poet, Nigeria was slammed with what has been described as one of the largest arbitration awards in human history. The country is to pay a whopping 9.6 billion dollars, about N3.5 trillion over a botched 20-year Gas and Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA) with an Irish company, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P&ID) The UK court, in a ruling, authorised (P&ID), a little known Irish engineering and project management company to seize 9.6 billion dollars in Nigerian assets over the failed contract. The court ruling was a fallout of the contract purportedly entered into in 2010 between the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and P&ID and the subsequent award made in July 2015 in favour of P&ID, by an arbitration panel sitting in London. In the failed contract, P&ID was to build a gas processing facility to refine associated natural gas into non-associated gas to power the national electric grid. For its part, the Ministry was to build pipeline to supply gas to P&ID facility to be located in Adiabo, Odukpani LGA, Cross River state. The agreement went sour because the company which did not build any facility at the agreed site, blamed the Ministry for not constructing the pipeline for gas supply alleging that it had committed 40 million dollars into the contract. When the news of the ruling of the UK court, presided over by Justice Butcher broke on August 16, many media houses sourced their reports from the website of P&ID which, as expected detailed biased and unbalanced history of the contract, arbitration and court proceedings leading to the decision. Critics and some section of the media who relied on the website and the reports were quick to conclude that the Federal Government failed to take advantage of the gas to power contract which would have annually boosted the nation’s electricity supply up to 2,000 megawatts. They also concluded that the GSPA, apart from ending the challenges of gas flaring, the lucrative natural gas liquid by-products: propane, ethane, butane, from the gas processing would have earn, not only P&ID, but also the country billions of dollars. Some columnists, opinion writers in national dailies and commentators on live television shows concluded that when the contract went sour, the government failed to properly and diligently defend the case both at arbitration and in courts. They believe that the 9.6 billion dollars judgment debt was a self inflicted albatross which the defence of immunity as a sovereign nation being canvassed by the government could not suffice as defence. Just like the Coleridge mariner spends the rest of his life trying to atone for his sin of killing the albatross, the country will have to pay dearly with its assets and foreign reserves for the botched contract, However, to correct the negative narratives and put the issues on proper perspective, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed addressed a news conference in Abuja on August 26. The media briefing which was the first major outing of the minister after his reappointment by President Muhammadu Buhari as the government image-maker, was also attended by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN). Also at the briefing to give their perspectives on the issue were the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele. Mohammed clarified that unlike the Coleridge mariner who has to pay for the atonement of sin of killing the albatross, Nigeria is rather, being hounded by fraudulent elements with local and international collaborators with intention to defraud the country He noted that the purported contract from inception, was a calculated move by international and local scammers to deplete the country’s rising foreign reserves. “.We want to place on record that the Federal Government views with serious concerns the underhanded manner in which the contract was negotiated and signed. “Indications are that the whole process was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration, which apparently colluded with their local and international conspirators to inflict grave economic injury on Nigeria and its people,” he said The minister said that the contract was conceived and designed to fail and there were deliberate efforts to circumvent all the checks and balances to prevent breach. Corroborating Mohammed’s position at the briefing, Malami, the nation number one law officer, said preliminary investigations revealed local and international conspiracy in the purported gas contract. The Justice Minister said the investigation revealed that the contract from conception was bound to fail because of deliberate inherent elements designed into it. “I want to draw attention first to the composition of parties in the agreements which are the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources (FMPR) and the company, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P&ID). “As you rightly know, the federal ministry of petroleum resources is not a producer of gas. Gas products are produced by International Oil Companies (IOC) and NNPC. “When you conceive, sign and execute a contract for the supply of gas products without involving the IOC and NNPC as parties to the agreement, you know very well that there are lot of questions to answer arising from the conception of the contract. “This, among others, gave rise to the insinuation of fraudulent conspiracies right from the conception of the agreement,’’ he said. Malami said President Buhari had directed that a full-scale investigation be carried out on the circumstances that led to the award. He said the country, through the contract, was subjected to unnecessary economic sabotage and investigation would unravel those involved in the deal. On his part, the CBN Governor said the claim by P&ID that it spent 40 million dollars on the botched contract was not correct. Emefiele said: “we have gone through our records but we do not have any information to show that the company brought in one cent into the country for the purported project. “We have accordingly written to the EFCC and other agencies investigating the case. “Time has come that Nigerians should rise against those who claim to do business in Nigeria without investing a penny in the country but all with an intention to defraud the country,” he said Also speaking at the briefing, the finance minister noted that the case was weighty, considering the fact that the awarded 9.6 billion dollars is equivalent to N3.5 trillion and about the sum of the nation’s recurrent expenditure. “Apart from being exorbitant, it is unfair and an assault to every Nigerian,’’ she said According to Ahmed, every Nigerian must come together to ensure that the judgment is set aside because the consequences will affect everyone. The information minister did not end the engagement at the briefing, but further took the message to the doorsteps of media houses, featuring on prime radio and television programmes. The minister also paid working visit to the headquarters of a national daily in Abuja where he engaged the management and editorial board of the medium, principally on the purported contract. Mohammed believed that some media outfits have clearly thrown overboard objectivity and patriotism in their very biased reporting of the matter. He said the engagements, therefore, would help to guide their reportage and as well create the opportunity to appeal to their sense of patriotism in handling the very sensitive matter capable of threatening the very existence of the country. In the course of the media engagements, the minister further disclosed that the contract was not approved by the Federal Executive Council as required by law. He said when the contract was purportedly approved in 2010, there were about seven other gas development projects that were signed about the time that followed due process. The minister said the insinuation in certain quarters that the government did not defend the case both at arbitration and court stages was “untrue and unfair’’. “It is not true that we did not defend it or we were not represented,’’ he said. He said the government successfully applied to have the award set aside by the Federal High Court in Lagos, but the Tribunal ignored this decision. “Nigeria was represented on the arbitration by the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN).’’ The minister said that after the award in July 2015 by the arbitration panel sitting in London, the government went into negotiations with the company, but all to no avail. Mohammed said that when the company also filed the case for the enforcement order in both the UK and the U.S. courts simultaneously, the government engaged services of solicitors to defend the action. “We succeeded to some extent in the U.S. court and our lawyers are still there trying to defend the action. He assured Nigerians that there is no immediate threat to Nigeria’s assets as has been wrongly interpreted by a section of the media. The minister assured that the Federal Government would avail itself of all defence customarily afforded to sovereign states under the United Kingdom Sovereign Immunity Act to stave off any enforcement of the award. “Nigerians should be assured that the Federal Government is taking all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the UK Court. “The government will seek for a Stay of Execution of the decision to defend its rights and to protect the assets of the people,’’ he said. Observers of the trend of events believe that the interventions by the ministers have helped to change the negative narratives around the purported contract They said with the briefing and media programme appearances by the ministers, most Nigerians have understood the need to put Nigeria first and protect their common patrimony from foreign hawks with local collaborators. Little wonder, members of Coalition of Civil Society Group, recently, stormed the British Embassy Abuja protesting the $9.6 billion dollars judgment debt. Members of the group on that day defied heavy morning downpour wielding placards and banners chanting anti-government songs asking for the reversal of the judgement. Some of the inscriptions on the banners read: ‘$9.6bn Judgement Is a Big Fraud; 200 Million Nigerians Are Against $9.6bn UK judgment; Nigeria First, Always, Nigeria and Britain Are Friends Not Enemy. The protesters called on the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to help President Muhammadu Buhari to fight corruption. Similarly, Constitutional and international lawyers have been offering their legal opinions on ways out of the quagmire. They advised the government to among others, plead sovereign immunity and raise the issue of fraud in the manner the contract was conceived and signed, to repudiate the judgment debt. On the whole, most Nigerians have come to realise the fact that the purported contract was conceived by international fraudsters with local collaborators to loot the nation’s foreign reserves and the urgent need to collectively resist the fraudulent move against Nigeria’s assets They, therefore, called on government to deploy legal and diplomatic means to block the execution of the judgment debt, unravel those behind the move to inflict economic injury on Nigeria and its people for punishment. Edited by Ese E. Ekama (NAN)