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Senate passes PIGB after addressing Buhari’s concerns

The senate has passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).

The upper legislative chamber also passed the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism bill 2019, National Research and Innovation Council bill 2019, Stamp Duties act (amendment) bill 2019 and National Agricultural Seed Council bill 2019.

Others are Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (amendment) bill 2019 and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) act 2010 (amendment) bill 2019.

The bills were passed after Ahmad Lawan, senate leader, moved a motion and referred for the committee of the whole for consideration.

Buhari had initially rejected the bills after which the senate set up a technical committee to review the bills.

After the technical committee effected corrections, the senators considered the clauses of each of the bills and passed them on Wednesday.

The president had cited legal, constitutional and drafting issues as reasons for rejecting the bills.

In the case of the PIGB, the president raised “legal and constitutional reasons” as reasons he had withheld assent.

“That the provision of the Bill permitting the Petroleum Regulatory commission to retain as much as 10 percent of the revenue generated unduly increases the funds accruing to the Petroleum Regulatory commission to the detriment of the revenue available to the Federal, States, Federal capital Territory and Local governments in the country,” Ita Enang, Buhari’s legislative aide, had said.

“Expanding the scope of petroleum equalisation fund and some provisions in divergence from this administration’s policy and indeed conflicting provisions on independent petroleum equalisation fund.

“Some legislative drafting concerns which, if assented to in the form presented will create ambiguity and conflict in interpretation.”

The PIGB seeks to establish the Nigerian petroleum regulatory commission as a one-stop regulator that will be responsible for licensing, monitoring, supervising petroleum operations, as well as enforcing industry laws, regulations and standards.

The bills will have to also be passed by the house of representatives before they are sent to Buhari for assent.

Insecurity: Senate slams FG, insists only state police can stop banditry

The Senate on Wednesday berated the Federal Government over its inability to tackle the alarming rate of insecurity in the country, particularly banditry in the North-West geopolitical zone. It  stressed that introduction of  state police remained the only solution to the menace.

The Senate took the position following separate motions moved by senators Emmanuel Bwacha from Taraba State and his colleague from Zamfara State, Kabir Marafa.

While Bwacha drew the attention of the red chamber to the inability of the security agencies to tackle the rising cases of kidnapping in Taraba, Marafa lamented the unabated killings of his people by bandits.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said apart from the establishment of community or state police, the funding of the Nigeria Police Force was essential to tackle the menace.

He said, “From the contributions we have had, I think it is key that we begin to look at the problem and look for long-term solutions. I think that what we did yesterday (Tuesday) in trying to strengthen the funding of the police through the Police Reform Bill is right.

“The sooner that we can pass that bill will also help us in addressing the insecurity challenges.

“But more importantly is that we must go back to what a lot of us had been advocating here that there is the need for us to have state or community police. It is the way forward. Otherwise, we will continue to run into these problems.

“On the area of oversight, there is a lot also that we need to do to ensure that we hold the security agencies accountable. And we need to move very fast in this area.”

The Senate in its resolution commended Nigerians irrespective of cultural, religious and ethnic differences for coming out in large numbers to show solidarity to the plight of their brothers and sisters in Zamfara.

The red chamber urged the National Assembly to make provision for N10bn in the 2019 appropriation bill as intervention fund to cater for the Internally Displaced Persons and other persons affected by the activities of bandits in Zamfara State.

The Senate also urged the Federal Government to set up an ad hoc committee to be known as presidential initiative on Zamfara with a 10-year lifespan to manage the said funds and subsequent allocations and donations.

Marafa, who rose through orders 42 and 52 of the Senate standing rules to move his motion, said the problem of insecurity in Zamfara State was deteriorating daily, adding that this called for urgent legislative intervention.

Marafa said, “Since 2011, as a result of the unabating activities of the criminals in the state, roughly estimated 11,000 males have been killed leaving behind an average of 22,000 widows and by extension, 44,000 orphans.

“These figures are just by conservative estimates because the figures are higher. Bandits and heavily armed kidnappers operate with little or no resistance in Gusau, the state capital, making less than 75 per cent of the people in Zamfara not to be sleeping in their houses.

“The situation has nothing to do with politics because my own blood sister was brutally murdered in her matrimonial home in February this year and even two of my cousins were killed outside the state capital few weeks back.”

Bwacha, on his own part, alerted the chamber on the series of kidnappings in his state and suggested that there should be legislative backing for individuals who wanted to carry arms for self- defence.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, commended Marafa for always bringing the deteriorating security situation in Zamfara to the front burner of discourse in the Senate .

He said, “For government to tackle the security problem headlong, the abnormality of Nigeria being the only federation with centralised police, must be addressed.”

The Senate Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye, said the problem of the country was the constitution itself, which he noted, provided for an “over- centralised federation or better put, unitary system as against a federal system of government.”

According to him, as long as the problematic constitution is not amended by way of removing policing from the exclusive list to the concurrent list to pave the way for state police, criminality at local levels will continue unabated.

 

JUST IN: Senate will pass Budget 2019 on April 16, says Saraki

The Senate says it will pass the 2019 appropriation bill on April 16.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, who made the announcement at plenary on Tuesday, mandated the appropriation committee to submit its report between April 9 and 11.

He also urged various appropriation sub-committees to submit their budget reports by Friday.

More to follow…

Buhari supporting Lawan, Gbaja to lead 9th national assembly

President Muhammadu Buhari has given the nod to Ahmad Lawan as senate president and Femi Gbajabiamila as speaker of the house of representatives in the in-coming National Assembly, according to a report.by The Cable

The national working committee (NWC) of the ruling party was in a meeting with the newly elected APC members in the house of representatives on Monday when this report was filed.

Lawan and Gbajabiamila, who are currently the leaders of the APC caucus in the upper and lower chambers of the national assembly, enjoyed the support of the president in 2015 but Senate President Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of reps, teamed up with some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers to edge them out.

While Lawan did not get the opportunity to go head-to-head with Saraki, Gbajabiamila lost to Dogara by eight votes.

However, Saraki is out of the way, having left the APC for the PDP and lost his re-election bid.

Dogara is also not expected to put a fight as PDP, his new party, does not have enough numbers in the house of reps.

APC has a 25 seat majority in Senate and a 100 seat.majority on the House of Representatives.

Last week when he announced his ambition to lead the senate, Lawan, who represents Yobe north, said the ruling party will do things differently in choosing the leadership of the 9th national assembly because it had learnt its lessons in 2015.

Buhari never forgave Saraki for upstaging Lawan in 2015

“We are not in any way thinking that we will have crises; it is not what we are envisaging at all. But let me say that our party, the APC, must have learnt its lessons, and therefore, the party leadership will do something differently this time,” he had said at a press conference in Abuja.

Lawan was elected into the house of representatives in 1999 and got into the senate in 2007. The 60-year-old is a graduate of the University of Maiduguri where he read geography. He also has a postgraduate diploma in land survey, an MSc and PhD in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS), all from the University of Cranfield, United Kingdom.

On his part, Gbajabiamila, who represents Surulere 1 federal constituency of Lagos state, is an ally of Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the APC. He was first elected into the green chamber in 2003.

APC reps at Yar’Adua Center for the strategic meeting

A law graduate from the University of Lagos, he started his career with the Bentley, Edu and Co law firm in Lagos before he established his own firm, Femi Gbaja and Co. where he was principal partner. Gbajabiamila later returned to John Marshall Law School in the US and was said to have graduated top of his class, earning himself a juris doctorate. He set up a law firm and had a brief stint of practice in the US after he passed his Georgia bar exams in 2001. Later, he returned to Nigeria to join politics.

Speaking at the Yar’Adua Center, Abuja, where the politicians gathered on Monday, Adams Oshiomole, national chairman of the APC, made it clear that the purpose of the meeting is to ensure that the party produce the leadership of the lower chamber.

“We will ensure that we have a leadership of the national assembly that share the vision of the executive . Although we stick to separation of power and unless the various arms  pursue the same agenda it is difficult for the executive to fulfil its promises and legislative backing is often require for most of the executive actions,” Oshiomhole said.

At last, Saraki swears in Alfa as Kogi East senator

Issac Alfa has been sworn in as the senator representing Kogi east.

The oath of office was administered on him at the upper legislative chamber on Wednesday.

Until the presidential and national assembly elections held on February 23, Atai Aidoko was the senator representing the constituency in the upper legislative chamber.

The Kogi east seat has been subjected to contention by Alfa and Aidoko who have both claimed to be authentic person representing the district.

Both of them claimed to be winner of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary poll that held in 2014.

Alfa, retired air marshal, was first sworn in as the lawmaker in June 2015 before a court sacked him and put Aidoko in his place.

Ever since the matter has been the subject of litigation.

However in January, the supreme court struck out the appeal of Aidoko who had challenged the decision of the appeal court.

The appeal court had upheld the decision of the trial court which declared Alfa as the lawful candidate that won the PDP primary election.

Recently, Alfa asked Senate President Bukola Saraki to obey the court order which affirmed him as the senator representing the district.

“I want to be sworn in on the 19th of February when the senate resumes. By swearing me in that will be the beginning of the senate showing the world that yes we are ready to obey court orders,” Alfa had said.

The eight assembly winds up in June.

Official: Akpabio loses senatorial return bid

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday in Uyo declared Mr Chris Ekpenyong of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district election.

Announcing the results , the INEC Returning Officer in the state, Prof. Peter Ogban, said Ekpenyong polled 118,215 votes to defeat Sen. Godswill Akpabio of All Progressives Congress (APC) who polled 83,158 votes.

Akpabio was the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom.

The returning officer added that the total number of registered voters in the senatorial district were 655,525, accredited
votes – 218,493, valid votes – 202,387 votes and void votes – 7,307.

Also declared was the federal constituency of Ikot Ekpene – Obot Akara – Essien Udim.

Announcing the result, the returning officer for the Federal Constituency, Dr Daniel Udo, said Nsikak Ekong of
PDP scored 29,849 to defeat the incumbent Mr Emmanuel Akpan who scored 22,052 votes.

The returning officer said total votes cast was 52,237, while valid votes — 52,036 and 201 void votes.

Onnoghen: Senate heads to court, suspends plan to reconvene

 

The Senate has filed a case in the Supreme Court, seeking its interpretation on whether President Muhammadu Buhari acted within the provision of the constitution in his suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice Walter Nkannu Onnoghen or whether the action of the President does amount to usurpation of the powers of the Senate as provided for in Section 292 of the constitution.

Following the filing of the case, the matter of the suspension of the CJN which is the main issue for which the Senate had planned to reconvene tomorrow, has become subjudice, according to a statement by spokesmanof the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu.

“Therefore, in line with the standing rules of the Senate not to debate issues that are already pending before the court, the reconvening of the Senate tomorrow has been put off. The previous adjournment of the Senate till February 19, 2019 stay,” the statement added.

Rowdy session as senate suspends confirmation of EFCC nominees

There was a rowdy session at the senate on Tuesday, making the upper legislative chamber to postpone the confirmation of some nominees of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Chukwuka Utazi, chairman of the senate committee on anti-corruption, had presented a report on the screening of the nominees by his committee..

The committee had recommended that the senate confirm Ndasule Moses, Lawan Mamman, Galadanci Najib and Adeleke Rafiu as members of the EFCC.

But senators from the southern part of the country protested.

Speaking after the anti-corruption chairman presented his report, Victor Umeh, senator representing Anambra central, said the nominees should not be confirmed because the south-east and south-south were excluded.

“The south-south and south-east are not accommodated in the commission. On the issue of the fight against corruption – it involves all parts of Nigeria,” Umeh said.

“If you look at the composition, Mr President some people will think that the fight against corruption is instituted against them. There is need to take people from other geo-political zones.”

He noted that Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the commission; and Olanipkekun Olukoyede, secretary of the commission, are from the north-east and south-west respectively.

The senator said the four nominees to be confirmed are neither from the south-south or south-east.

Responding, Utazi said a committee set up to look at the president’s alleged lopsided appointments had “gone underground and refused to present a report”.

Also, Enyinnaya Abaribe, senator representing Abia south, said the consideration of the nominees should be stepped down until it is amended.

Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south, said Utazi should have drawn the attention of the senate leadership to the matter instead of bringing a report urging them to confirm the nominees.

At this point, both Utazi and Isah Misau, senator representing Bauchi central, interrupted Ndume.

“We must not divide Nigeria,” Misau said. While Utazi was heard saying: “I have the floor, go and sit down.”

“You have a rowdy floor,” another senator said.

The disorderliness went on for about 10 minutes before and this prompted the lawmakers to go into a closed-door session abruptly.

When they emerged from the closed-door session, Senate President Bukola Saraki announced that it had been agreed that the confirmation of the EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) nominees should be suspended for further legislative input.

Senate suspends Olukoyede’s confirmation as EFCC Secretary

The Senate has suspended the confirmation of Olanipekun Olukoyede as secretary to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The suspension followed Senator Isah Misau’s objection to the report of the Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes on the screening at plenary.

Misau, who is a member of the committee, stated that he did not append his signature to clear the nominee for confirmation. He claimed he was not invited to the screening exercise; hence it was wrong for the clerk of the committee to release a report not consented to by all committee members.

“I am a member of this committee and I was not invited to the screening. I am calling on you, Mr. President, to step down this confirmation because I remember I raised objection in one of the meetings and this one is very sensitive,” he said.

Senator Chukwuka Utazi, the Chairman of the Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes, had while presenting the committee’s report, said Misau was invited to the screening. He noted that the nominee appeared for screening on October 27 and met all requirements for confirmation.

Utazi said the nominee had the required educational qualification and other requirements, stressing that there was no objection to his nomination from any quarter.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, suggested that the confirmation be suspended till Wednesday to enable all members of the committee to meet on the matter again.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had in an executive communication, dated Sept. 10, forwarded the name of the nominee, who hails from Ekiti State, for confirmation.

The request was made in compliance with the provisions of Section 2 (3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment) Act 2010.

Olukoyede is a trained lawyer and currently the Chief of Staff to the Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. (NAN)

Senate halts plenary in honour 44 soldiers killed by Boko Haram

The Senate on Thursday halted plenary session in honour of 44 soldiers killed by members of the dreaded sect, Boko Haram.

This came amid the decision of the Senate to investigate the immediate cause of the success recorded by the terrorists, which led to the death of the 44 soldiers in Borno State.

Boko Haram had killed 44 soldiers and nine farmers in three days of attacks on some villages in Borno State.

According to the report, which quoted security sources, the Islamic State West Africa Province, a Boko Haram splinter group, killed at least 44 soldiers in attacks on three military bases at the weekend.

The Senate resolution came through a contribution by the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on the point of order raised by Senator Ibrahim Danbaba alleging that there is disconnection between the Senate Committee on Army and the Nigerian Army.

The lawmakers also observed one minute silence in hour of the slain soldiers.

In addition, the Senate implored the Military hierarchy to be visiting the soldiers on the war front from time to time.

Senate probes NNPC’s alleged diversion of $1bn from NLNG dividend

Senate passes Electoral Act Amendment Bill

The Senate on Tuesday passed the fourth version of the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

President Muhammadu Buhari had declined assent to the bill three times, citing some constitutional and drafting issues.

During the just-ended annual recess of the National Assembly, its Joint Committee on INEC met to work on the document based on the issues raised by the president.

Tuesday’s passage of the bill followed the adoption of the report of the committee presented by its Chairman, Senator Suleiman Nazif.

Nazif had said that the committee addressed all the issues raised by the president in withdrawing assent to the bill.

Speaking on the development, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said he hoped the president would now assent to the proposed law.
“Let me congratulate all of us, particularly the Committee on Electoral Matters for the hard work they put in.
“We were able to achieve this that looked almost impossible at a time, and I want to commend everybody for making this happen.

“This will go a long way in improving our electoral process and further strengthen our governance.

“I am sure with this now, Mr President will of course give his assent, and we can now finally have an Electoral Act that we would all be proud of,” Saraki said.

The amendment seeks to provide the use of Card Readers and any other similar technological devices for the election, among others, according to Nazif.

Senate withholds confirmation of three nominees for CCB board

The senate has confirmed the nomination of seven appointees to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) board.

The upper legislative chamber confirmed the seven individuals after Sam Anyanwu, chairman of the committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions, presented a report for the consideration of the senators.

In November, President Muhammadu Buhari had written the senate, asking for the confirmation of 10 members of the board.

But while presenting the report on Wednesday, Anyanwu said Vincent Nwanne (Ebonyi) and Ganiyu Hamzat (Ogun) failed to make their certificates available while Danjuma Sado (Edo) did not meet the age requirement of 50.

“Hon. Ganiyu Hamzat and Dr. Vincent Nwanli failed to show up and present their credentials for the screening,” Anyanwu said.

On his part, Senate President Bukola Saraki wished those confirmed a successful tenure.

“We hope that they will continue to play key roles in the Bureau and I wish them all a successful tenure,” Saraki said.

Here are the confirmed nominees.

Muhammed Isa – chairman, Jigawa, north-west

Murtala Kankia – member, Katsina, north-west

Emmanuel Attah – member, Cross River, south-south

Obolo Opanachi – member, Kogi, north-central

Ken Madaki Alkali – member Nasarawa, north-central

S. F Ogundare – member, Oyo, south-west

Sahad Abubakar – member, Gombe north-east

Senate asks CBN to increase maximum ATM withdrawal to N40,000 per transaction

The Senate has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to direct commercial banks to increase the maximum amount customers can withdraw from automated teller machines (ATMs) to N40,000 per transaction.

The maximum is currently N20,000. The senate also asked the apex bank to suspend ATM card maintenance fees.

The upper legislative chamber directed its committees on banking and finance to conduct an investigation into the propriety of ATM card maintenance charges and to also invite Godwin Emefiele, governor of CBN, to explain why the charges are allegedly skewed in favour of the banks.

The resolution of the senate was sequel to a motion sponsored by Gbenga Ashafa, senator representing Lagos east.

While moving the motion, Ashafa said the CBN is becoming “insensitive” to the plight of Nigerians.

Contributing to the debate on the motion, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, said the numerous charges by the banks are unacceptable.

“If we have institutions in Nigeria, they should make sure to do their jobs to protect Nigerians,” Ekweremadu said.

“Banks should have recognisable charges to let customers know what they are up against.”

On his part, Adeola Olamilekan, senator representing Lagos west, said the banks should stop cheating Nigerians of their hard-earned money.

“I have stopped using ATM for transactions,” Olamilekan said.

On his part, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the lawmakers must always protect the interest of the people.

“This is a motion that touches on the lives of every Nigerian irrespective of what party you belong to or political affiliation you might have and that is why we are here, to always defend and protect the interest of our people,” he said.

“We need to look at ways to ensure that our resolutions go beyond just the debates — so that whatever action we take will come into effect.”

The motion was adopted by the senate after it was put to a voice vote by Saraki.

Senate probes $3.5bn subsidy recovery fund ‘managed by two people’ in NNPC

The senate has set up an ad hoc committee to probe a $3.5 billion “subsidy recovery fund” said to be managed by Maikanti Baru, group managing director (GMD) of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and the corporation’s finance director.

The decision of the senate was sequel to a motion on matters of national importance sponsored by Biodun Olujimi, minority leader of the senate.

Olujimi said the “slush” funds is “too huge” to be managed by just two people.

The senator said the relevant committees should invite the NNPC officials to explain why the fund is being operated and what has been spent from it.

“I bring an issue in today’s ThisDay newspaper and it’s about $3.5 billion budget recovery fund being used by the NNPC. It is earmarked as subsidy recovery fund by the NNPC,” the senator said.

“Mr President since 1999, there has always been a budget for subsidy but this has been jettisoned by the current government which leaves this administration in a dire strait, what is happening is that there is a fund named subsidy recovery fund which is managed by only two individuals of the NNPC, that is the managing director and the executive director finance.

“This fund is too huge for two people to manage. Right now Mr President the $3.5 billion is managed by just two and this is too huge to be managed without appropriation without any recourse to any known law of the land.

“During your remarks after the passage of the budget. You mentioned that there should be a budget for subsidy. That should be brought before the national assembly. By the report, it is almost certain that the $3.5 billion is slush funds managed by two individuals and that is not correct.

“I urge the senate to cause the downstream committee to invite the NNPC to explain why it should be so and what has happened to the funds that have been used so far and the new term recovery instead of subsidy approval.”

On his part, Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south, said the petroleum downstream committee might have been “compromised”.

He called for the setting up of an ad hoc committee.

“I don’t want to be hard on the committee. I think the committee has the responsibility of oversight, when this happens they are supposed to know. Senator Marafa being chairman of the committee should be out of this,” Ndume said.

“The senate leader and other members should look at this thing objectively. When you have a large amount of money stacked somewhere, it calls for caution. I’m suggesting that the leader. As distinguished senator Bukar Abba said – not me – that the committee might have compromised.”

On his part, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the facts of the issue should be investigated.

“[The committee] summon those in the NNPC who are responsible and come back to us in four days on a report that we can all debate – if it’s speculative it becomes partisan so we will come out with the facts,” he said.

JUST IN: Senate vetoes Buhari on Electoral Act

 

…Senate passes electoral act into law overriding the President

The Senate has passed the Electoral Act No. 6 (2010 Amendment) Bill 2017 into law overriding the assent of the president .

The amendments to the act are as follows;

1. There shall now be full biometric accreditation of voters with Smart Card Readers and/or other technological devices, as INEC may introduce for elections from time to time.

2. Presiding Officers must now instantly transmit accreditation data and results from Polling Units to various collation centers. Presiding officer who contravene this shall be imprisoned for at least 5 years (no option of fine).

3. All Presiding Officer must now first record accreditation data and polling results on INEC’s prescribed forms before transmitting them. The data/result recorded must be the same with what they transmitted.

4. INEC now has unfettered powers to conduct elections by electronic voting.

5. Besides manual registers, INEC is now mandated to keep Electronic registers of voters.

6. INEC is now mandated to publish voters’ registers on its official website(s) for public scrutiny at least 30 days before a general election and any INEC staff who is responsible for this but fails to act as prescribed shall be liable on conviction to 6 months’ imprisonment.

7. INEC is now mandated to keep a National Electronic Register of Election Results as a distinct database or repository of polling unit by polling unit results for all elections conducted by INEC.

8. Collation of election result is now mainly electronic, as transmitted unit results will help to determine final results on real time basis.

9. INEC is now mandated to record details of electoral materials – quantities, serial numbers used to conduct elections (for proper tracking).

10. A political party whose candidate dies after commencement of an election and before the declaration of the result of that election now has a 14-day window to conduct a fresh primary in order for INEC to conduct a fresh election within 21 days of the death of the party’s candidate;

11. Political parties’ Polling Agents are now entitled to inspect originals of electoral materials before commencement of election and any Presiding Officer who violates this provision of the law shall be imprisoned for at least1 year.

12. No political party can impose qualification/
disqualification criteria, measures or conditions on any Nigerian for the purpose of nomination for elective offices, except as provided in the 1999 Constitution.

13. The election of a winner of an election can no longer be challenged on grounds of qualification, if the he (winner) satisfied the applicable requirements of sections 65, 106, 131 or 177 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and he is not, as may be applicable, in breach of sections 66, 107, 137 or 182 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. [For example, a person’s election cannot be challenged on the ground that he did not pay tax, as this is not a qualifying condition under the Constitution.]

14. All members of political parties are now eligible to determine the ad-hoc delegates to elect candidates of parties in indirect primaries. The capacity of party executives to unduly influence or rig party primaries has been reasonably curtailed, if not totally removed.

15. Parties can no longer impose arbitrary nomination fees on political aspirants. The Bill passed prescribes limits for each elective office as follows:
(a) One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N150,000) for a Ward Councillorship aspirant in the FCT;
(b) Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250,000) for an Area Council Chairmanship aspirant in the FCT;
(c) Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000) for a House of Assembly aspirant;
(d) One Million Naira (N1,000,000) for a House of Representatives aspirant;
(e) Two Million Naira (N2,000,000) for a Senatorial aspirant;
(f) Five Million naira (N5,000,000) for a Governorship aspirant; and
(g) Ten Million Naira (N10,000,000) for a Presidential aspirant.

16. Relying on the powers of the National Assembly in Paragraph 11 of Part II (Concurrent Legislative List) of the Second Schedule (Legislative Powers) to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Senate also passed measures reforming procedures regulating Local Government Elections. State Independent Electoral Commissions can no longer conduct elections that do not meet minimum standards of credibility.

17. Any INEC official who disobeys a tribunal order for inspection of electoral materials shall be imprisoned for 2 years.

Ex-IGP Abba picks APC senatorial form

Suleiman Abba, former inspector-general of police, picked nomination and expression of interest forms at the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, on Monday.

He is seeking to clinch the party’s ticket for Jigawa central senatorial district.

Abba told reporters that he was in the race to make meaningful contribution to national development.

The APC has fixed September 27 for primary elections to elect candidates for the senatorial poll in 2019.

Abba said the interest of his people and his interest to serve his country made him to join politics.

“The interest of my people to have a better representation at the national assembly and my personal desire to serve my country Nigeria at the national level again, and this is bearing in mind that representing the seven local governments that make up Jigawa central constituency does not end at conveying their views and vice versa, it also involves joining my colleagues in taking decisions that will affect the nation whether politically, economically, socially and other activities of human life that will put Nigeria in its rightful place in the comity of nations,” he said.

Asked what his take was on the refusal of the current IGP to appear before the Senate, he said he would advise him to do so.

“I will certainly advise the IGP to respond by going there. I don’t think in any situation there is a better person to defend you than yourself,” he said.

“Of course we have lawyers who present the interest of their client but in all situation, this is my personal belief, your personal defence is always better.

“I had always appeared before the Senate whenever they needed me. Even at a time when everybody thought differently, I appeared before a committee of a Senate to make a clear presentation of what the situation was and I think it went on.”

Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan sacked Abba in April 2015 after the general election for allegedly working for the APC.

He was replaced by Solomon Arase.

Before Abba was appointed IGP in August 2014, he served as police commissioner in Lagos and Rivers states and later assistant inspector-general of police in charge of Abuja.

He holds B.A in history of university of Jos, LLB (Hons) from the University of Abuja.

Senate will not know peace unless Saraki resigns, says Senator

For peace to reign in the Senate, Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, must resign his position, Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim, has said.

Ibrahim also said that 30 members of the upper chamber can resolve to reconvene the Senate at any time as allowed by the rules of the chamber.

The Katsina south senator spoke to reporters in Abuja following the defection of the Senate President, Saraki from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Ibrahim who is also Chairman, Board of National Committee for Buhari Support Group, noted that although it is commendable Saraki left the party, he should take the path of honour and go the whole hog to resign his position as Senate President.

He noted that if Saraki failed to resign his Senate President position, the Senate will never know peace.

Their resolve that Saraki must resign his position, he said, is based on convention that the party the produces majority should also produce the leadership.

The lawmaker vowed that APC senators would not allow “a renegade” as their leader in the Senate.

Ibrahim said, “Well, I think it is commendable that he has left the party. He has chosen the path of survival because it is the issue of political survival not any thing for Nigeria.

“But next is for him to resign as Senate President because by all conventions all over the world the majority party produces the leadership; Senate President, the majority leader and others.

“Again, let him be gentleman enough and resign as Senate President.

“If he doesn’t (resign) we will never have peace in that Senate because it is absolutely clear that APC has majority to produce the leadership.

“I hear the PDP claiming majority but it is crystal clear that APC has majority. We will have more members. We will have elections. We will have the two members. We also have some alliance with APGA. It is clear that APC has majority.

“APC with majority should produce the leadership in the Senate. 49 cannot produce the leadership.

“Saraki should go the whole hog and resign as Senate President.”

On the allegation that some senators attempted to break into the Senate chamber on Wednesday to reconvene plenary he said;

“How do you break into the chamber? If we like we can reconvene legally because it is legal for us to reconvene. We don’t need to break into the chamber when we have the number. I will never subscribe to that.

“We can reconvene, the rules are there that if we are up to 30 we can reconvene. Why should we break into the chamber when we can reconvene legally and do what we want to do.

“It is legal. I don’t see why anybody should contemplate that we can break into the chamber.

“I don’t know about it and even if I know about it I will say it is unwise.

“Like I said, the rules are there that if we are 30 we can reconvene and do what we want to do.

“If the leadership does not ask for peace, it will not get peace. Peace is a function of leadership.

“I have been in the Senate for about four times. I can’t allow anybody to manipulate me. I can’t take it.

“Nobody was elected as Senate President. We all came here as Senators. So we have equal footing. We gave you leadership. If you fail to give us the right leadership and if majority of us don’t want you any more, you have to leave.

“Saraki was elected by us. At any time majority of us say he should go he has to go.

On the effect of the gale of defections hitting the APC he said;

“There are some losses that will give you sleepless night. There are others that will not give you sleepless night. We have made out calculation, I am confident that that we will not lose.

“For the past two years, Saraki has undermined the government.

“He has allowed frivolous motions to attack the President and the government. His continued stay as Senate President does not augur well for the APC government.

“Somebody in the same party and the same government he has never seen any thing good in the President.”

Asked if it is only change of leadership that will bring peace to the Senate he said;

“How can we 53 allow a renegade to control us? No, we cannot allow that.”

JUST IN: 15 senators defect from APC to PDP

Fifteen senators have defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress in the latest stanza of the lingering face off between President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President,  Dr Bukola Saraki.

The face off is part of a broader crisis which stemmed from claims of alienation by some aggrieved members who have fallen out dramatically with Buhari and formed a splinter group while some have threatened to defect to other parties.

Saraki read out the list of defectors on Tuesday morning at Senate plenary after he made a surprise appearance having evaded security operatives that had laid siege to his home and that of Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu ostensibly to prevent them from reaching the National Assembly complex.

This that have defected so far are Sen. Lanre Tejuoso Sen. Shaaba Lafiagi, Sen. Barnabas Gemade, Sen. Dino Melaye, , Sen. Adesoji Akanbi , Sen. Rafiu Ibrahim
and Sen. Shitu Ubali.

Others are: Sen. Isa Misau Sen. Sulaimon Hunkuyi , Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu, Sen. Mohammed Danbaba , Sen. Bayern Nafada , Sen. Suleiman Nazif
Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso and
Sen. Abdulazeez Murtala-Nyako.

There were reports of a plot by some Buhari loyalists in the Senate to impeach both Saraki and Ekweremadu on Tuesday but the Senate President, who insists he is still in.the APC obviously played his hand to frustrate the alleged plot.

He was supposed to report to the police on Tuesday to shed more light on the infamous Offa robbery incident in April, a move he said was orchestrate to humiliate him.

A peace meeting with Buhari at the weekend to prevent members if the so-called Reformed All Progressive Congress from leaving the ruling party has failed to resolve the crisis within the party.

Bill seeking to establish state police passes first reading at senate

A bill seeking to establish community and state police has passed first reading at the senate.

The bill which is entitled constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (alteration) bill, 2018 (SB. 694) is sponsored by Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president.

After Nelson Ayewoh, clerk of the senate, read the bill, Ekeweramdu said the second reading would hold as soon as possible so that it could be sent to the relevant committees for further legislative action.

“This bill has been presented for the amendment of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria to make provision for state and community policing,” the deputy senate president said.

“The [ad hoc] committee [on review of the constitution] has fulfilled it’s mandate and now that the bill has been read for the first time, I am sure that as soon as possible, we will take the second reading and then probably send it through the relevant committees so that we can fast track it.”

Last week, the senate mandated the committee to put in place a process to amend the constitution to create community and state police.

This was after it considered recommendations from its security summit held earlier in the year.

On Tuesday, the upper legislative chamber passed for second reading, a bill seeking to reform the police.

Advocates of the legislation believe that state and community policing will tackle the country’s security challenges.