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SERAP Sues Lawan, Gbajabiamila Over ‘Failure To Publish Details Of Corruption Probes’

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila over “their failure to publish reports of all completed public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly since 1999, and failure to disclose the number of probes that have resulted in any indictment of suspects, and to name such suspects.”

The suit followed recent public hearings by the National Assembly on corruption allegations in ministries, departments and agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF). Reports of several public hearings and corruption probes have remained secret, and the allegations unresolved.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1065/2020 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Dr Lawal and Mr Gbajabiamila to send all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to consider if there is sufficient admissible evidence to pursue prosecution.”

SERAP is also seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel Dr Lawal and Mr Gbajabiamila to widely publish all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes by the Senate and the House of Representatives, and to disclose the number and names of any indicted suspects since 1999.”

SERAP is asking the court for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Dr Lawal and Mr Gbajabiamila to sponsor a resolution to stop lawmakers from directly getting involved in the execution of projects by MDAs, and to ensure the proper and effective exercise of their oversight functions over corruption allegations including in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 25 July, 2020, stating that: “The most effective way to deter corruption is to make the cost of engaging in these types of acts higher than the rewards. This end can only be accomplished by making public the reports and pursuing public accountability for corrupt acts.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “The court ought to compel Dr Lawal and Mr Gbajabiamila to publish the reports of hearings and probes and to send the reports to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution. Granting the reliefs sought would bolster public trust and confidence in the lawmakers’ oversight functions, and dispel the perception that many of the hearings and probes are politically motivated and serve personal interest, rather than the general public interests.”

SERAP is also arguing that: “Nigerians have the right to information, as guaranteed under Section 39(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which the country has ratified and domesticated as part of its national laws.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “There is no legally justifiable reason why the information should not be made widely available to Nigerians, and why the prosecution of indicted suspects should not be pursued, where there is relevant admissible evidence.”

“Public officers are mere custodians of public records. There is legitimate public interest in the publication of the reports of these public hearings and probes. The public hearings and probes can only serve as effective mechanisms to prevent and combat corruption if their reports are widely published.”

“The exercise of oversight functions and powers by the National Assembly to conduct public hearings and corruption probes in MDAs should be regarded as a public trust. The National Assembly has a unique opportunity to enhance the integrity of its oversight functions on corruption matters in particular, and other constitutional roles, in general.”

“Both the Senate and House of Representatives have over the years conducted several public hearings and corruption probes to expose pervasive problem of corruption in MDAs. Publishing the reports and pursuing prosecution would give Nigerians greater confidence that their lawmakers can use their constitutional oversight functions to address corruption in Nigeria.”

“Lack of transparency and accountability about the systemic and widespread corruption allegations in MDAs and among high-ranking public officials has continued to create a culture of impunity, and to have negative impacts on socio-economic development, as well as access of Nigerians to public goods and services, including quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water and regular electricity supply.”

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#EndSARS: Situation Report Decries Human Rights Abuses By Protesters, Hoodlums

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The Civil Situation Room has called for an immediate suspension of the #EndSARS protests across the country over human rights abuses. 

The situation room, consisting of over 100 human rights groups said the protests have taken a violent twist in recent days, infringing on the rights of other citizens and entrenching criminal activities.

Protests demanding an end to Police brutality entered its 12th day on Monday despite the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and subsequent formation of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT). 

In the last couple of days, the exercise has become fierce, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Benin. 

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, coordinator of the Situation Room on #EndSARS Comrade Adamu Kabir Matazu said protesters are now involved in abuses, depriving people of their lives. 

He, however, urged leaders of thought all over the world to prevail on the #EndSARS protesters to respect the rights of other citizens.

Comrade Kabir also urged the Federal Government to “change its approach of allowing some people run riot simply because they are hiding under the identity of youth to protest”. 

He said the FG must step in to bring order and sanity to stop the protesters from interfering with the ordinary citizens and preventing people from going about their legitimate businesses.   

Read full statement below:

Gentlemen of the press, we are pleased to welcome you to this press conference which is called to address issues arising from #EndSARS protests. You will recall that when the incidents of police brutality first became topical and Nigerians decided to protest against it all of us joined without hesitation. At the start of these protests everyone was focused on issues while highlighting the need to call operatives of SARS unit to order with the demand that the unit must be scrapped. 

It was reassuring that the federal government and the Nigeria Police Force were responsive by immediately scrapping SARS. Further agitation from protesters saw to it that the government agreed to a five-point demand from protesters. These demands were geared towards wholesomely reforming the police. From the way we see it the demands that were tabled included items that should be dealt with immediately, on this short term, on the midterm, and long term. 

As outlined, we realize that it will take time for each set of demands to be implemented depending on whether it’s something that will be done immediately or something that will cover a period of months or years. The logic is that protesters will then allow the government time to implement these demanded changes. 

This perhaps informed the decision of some people to drop out of the protest because they want the government to have time to respond to the things that they have asked for. This does not in any way negate the rights of those who decided that they will continue to protest in fact we seem that they now moved beyond the demand for police reform to include other things, some of them are even asking for the sack of the government, which was not something that was originally on the table. 

What this means is that serious minded people returned to their legitimate businesses and activities while waiting to see how the government implement the changes that they have demanded. From the way we look at it, this has made those who are still protesting to change their tactics by doing things to force others to become part of the protest. We now see them increasingly blocking roads in a way that prevents people from getting to their workplaces, from getting to their places of business, and even in some instances from accessing lifesaving treatment. 

In Abuja for instance, protesters obstructed the airport road, knowing that it is a major access for people traveling out of the city and heading to the airport to catch their flights. A particularly sad outcome from this was the case of the woman reportedly in labor, who died because she could not get to the hospital for lifesaving intervention. In the same city, there are reported incidents of motorists getting their vehicles smashed in by the unruly protesters. In Osun state, there was the sad incident of protesters attacking the state governor, they then went on rampage and burnt down a mall in the state capital. 

In Benin City, Edo state: Protesters broke into two  prisons  and set free inmates that include hardened criminals, killed two police officers and set numerous properties on fire . They also set up bonfires, obstructed free flow of traffic and serially manhandled security operatives.

Ibadan, Oyo State: protesters obstructed the road and forced people to trek long distances while those going about their legitimate business were harassed endlessly. Lives of innocent citizens have also been lost in this state. 

Lagos is also lockdown from the protesters, who made harassment of those not supporting their protests a standard modus operandi.

In other cases, the information we are getting is that protesters are randomly shooting at people, killing them, and depriving them of their lives apparently in their bid to frame law enforcement agencies to be  responsible for killing protesters. This perverted strategy is intended to make the government appear as being repressive and the law enforcement agencies as engaging in human rights abuses. 
 
In reality, it is the protesters that are now involved in abuses. They are the ones who obstruct people from having free access to move around, they are the ones who prevent people from seeking their daily livelihood, they are the ones beating people up, they are the ones destroy people’s property and they are the ones depriving people of their lives, Where are the ones hacking into people’s digital accounts and making publishing private information of public office holders and government employees thereby depriving people of their right to privacy. 

We the coalition of civil society groups numbering over 100 are therefore saying that #EndSARS protesters must stop the growing cases of human rights abuses that are being recorded at their protests. We cannot be campaigning against right abuses and then become guilty of things that we are against. 

We like to conclude this briefing by stating that: we are calling on leaders of thought all over the world to prevail on #EndSARS protesters to respect the rights of other citizens. 

We further demand that they prevail on the government to change its approach of allowing some people run riot simply because they are hiding under the identity of youth to protest. The government must step in to bring order and sanity to the protests whilst the protesters continued to interfere with the ordinary citizens and stopping people from going about their legitimate businesses is unfair, inhuman and unacceptable. We call on the international community, the US Ambassadors to Nigeria, British High Commissioner to Nigeria and all men of good conscience to call the errant members of the protests to order.

We fear that these innocent citizens will be forced to defend themselves if nothing is urgently done. 

Thank you and God bless you all.

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APC States Consider 6 Months Maternity Leave, Exclusive Breastfeeding

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States controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC) have proposed to implement six months maternity leave as well as exclusive breastfeeding in a move to promote a framework for promoting child nutrition.

The proposal was contained in a communique issued Thursday in Abuja at the end of a virtual meeting of Secretaries to State Governments of APC-controlled states held under the auspices of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF).

The meeting which had as its theme, ‘Developing Common Policy Initiatives on Maternal & Child Nutrition Promotion in APC States’, had the overarching objective of identifying salient and common initiatives of Maternal and Child Nutrition that can be replicated across all the APC-controlled States.

Co-Chairman of PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee, governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau state declared the meeting open, while governor Mohammed Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa state, declared it close.

In the communique signed by Alhaji Adamu Fanini and Prof. Danladi Atu, SSGs of Jigawa and Plateau states respectively, participants said “in view of the importance of parental support for children at birth and the health of the nursing parents, the meeting recommended that APC controlled states should prioritise implementation of 180 days (6 months) maternity leave for women.

“The meeting observed the importance of exclusive breastfeeding to the growth and general health of a child and therefore recommended that APC controlled states should encourage and support women to practice six months exclusive breastfeeding for children from birth.”

The meeting equally noted the importance of information and how it affects the attitudes of citizens towards issues of nutrition. It therefore urged APC-controlled states to design a special communication strategy to raise public awareness on malnutrition and its consequences.

“The meeting observed that there is no institutional framework for the implementation of programmes on food and nutrition in some states and therefore resolved that APC controlled states should set up State Committees on Food and Nutrition to relate with all FG programmes on Food and Nutrition and coordinate PGF’s implementation framework on child Nutrition in APC controlled state.

“The meeting equally encouraged each APC controlled state to continually give Status Report on what currently obtains in their state with a view to creating a template that reflects the current status of each APC state on Child Nutrition and each SGS should nominate the focal person for their state to relate with the PGF Secretariat on the implementation”, the communique stated further.

The meeting also adopted the PGF Secretariat’s proposal for follow up meetings with Commissioners of Health, Education and Agriculture of APC controlled States in order to develop sectoral work plans for the implementation of the approved framework on “Promoting Child Nutrition in APC states, Challenges and Opportunities for Action.”

The meeting held following the Progressive Governors’ approval of the framework which was recommended by the 9th Meeting of Secretaries to Governments of APC Controlled States held in April 2020.

The meeting had reviewed the current status of child and maternal nutrition in APC states and considered implementation proposal by the PGF Secretariat.

Participants therefore agreed to continually share information, ideas and knowledge through its quarterly meetings and the PGF Secretariat to promote synergy across member-States and facilitate greater cooperation for uniform or common policy initiatives geared towards sustainable development.

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Ondo Gov: Mimiko Seeking Third Term Through Back Door – APC

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that the former and two-term governor of Ondo state, Olusegun Mimiko, is plotting a third-term bid surreptitiously through Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), one of the political parties contesting the October 10 governorship election in the state.


The ruling party said it is not surprising that the entire governorship campaign of the ZLP has centred on Mimiko rather than the obscure and supposed ZLP governorship candidate, Agboola Ajayi.

In a statement signed Tuesday in Abuja by the deputy national publicity secretary Of the APC, the ruling party recalled how how the former governor factionalised his then political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for his political divide and rule tactics in the party and government.

“Perhaps, Mimiko deludes himself that the good people of Ondo state have forgotten how they were subjected to his arbitrary, tyrannical and dictatorial actions when he governed the state. They have not!

“Under Mimiko, government projects and patronage were disproportionately distributed only based on political servitude, not priority needs of the State.

“Little wonder many of Mimiko’s associates have ditched him and are now frontline leaders of the APC, in firm support of our candidate, incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

“It is understandable, that the ZLP’s supposed governorship candidate has nothing to campaign on after juncketing several political parties to purchase their governorship ticket to contest the October 10 election in Ondo state.”

While assuring that the people of Ondo will vote massively for the incumbent governor Rotimi Akeredolu, APC said: “The good governance credentials of our candidate, incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is visible to all, particularly in the area of infrastructure, agriculture, human capital development, industry, entrepreneurship, among others. This is the focus of our well-received campaigns.

“Governor Akeredolu’s first-term administration has ensured prudency, accountability, transparency and blocked leakages which has ultimately enhanced good governance. Ondo State has witnessed unprecedented and massive infrastructural developments, culminating in over 300 kilometres of critical roads being constructed and rehabilitated.

“Ondo is one of the model states that is successfully domesticating and implementing the diversification and agriculture drive of the APC government, with an army of over 6,000 trained Agripreneurs.

“The Ondo people know Governor Akeredolu as the governor who signed into law, a contributory health insurance scheme which enables all classes of people in the state access to affordable health care services.

“Under Governor Akeredolu, the good people of Ondo state are better off and are poised to overwhelmingly return him to continue his administration’s good work, come October 10.”

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