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Gov. Okorocha vs IGP, EFCC: What court decided on Wednesday

The Federal High Court sitting in Jos, on Wednesday fixed Feb. 28, to deliver judgment in a N1.25 billion damages suit filed by Gov Rochas Okorocha of Imo against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the EFCC for ”invading and ransacking” his house in Jos.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Musa Kurya, fixed the date after all the counsel to the parties involved in the case adopted their final written addresses.

Okorocha through his Counsel, Mr Markus Saleh (SAN), had prayed the court, in his final written address, to condemn and adjudge the invasion of his home in Jos on May 3, 2017 as illegal, null and void.

Saleh argued that Okorocha’s family members and staff were held hostage during a “search” by the police and EFCC conducted without any court warrant.

He prayed the court to declare the action of the police and EFCC as “illegal, null and void’’ and award his client the sum of N1.25 billion as general damages because there was no valid court warrant for such an exercise.

“We also pray for the issuance of a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further doing anything as such in his homes across the country, ‘’ he prayed.

Responding, the counsel to IGP and EFCC, Edwin Inegbenoise and Muktar Ali-Ahmed respectively, prayed the court to dismiss Okorocha’s the application on the grounds that it lacked merit.

Inegbenoise argued that the search was conducted by police officers attached to the anti-graft commission, there was no way the governor should include the Police in the case because those officers involved take orders only from the EFCC and not the police.

He prayed the court to strike all the allegations labeled against the IGP and the Plateau Commissioner of Police who were joined in the suit.

In his submission, EFCC counsel, Ali-Ahmed prayed the court to dismiss the case because it lacks merit since the EFCC has the constitutional powers to search any person’s house or office in the cause of any investigation more so that there was a search warrant obtained from a chief magistrate court.

“My Lord, we finally urge this honourable court to dismiss this case for lack of merit,’’ he pleaded.

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Senate Inches One Step Closer To Passing Bill Overruling Buhari’s Veto On Budget

A bill to compel the President and state governors to lay their annual budgets before the legislature at most 90 days to end of a fiscal year has passed second reading at the Senate.

The second reading of the bill is the second stage of process. If the bill passes the third reading with the required by two-thirds majority, and it gets the concurrence of the House of Representatives, then it becomes a law.

The bill, The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (Fourth Alteration, No. 28) Bill, was sponsored by Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, and was presented at plenary by Ahmad Lawan, Majority Leader of the Senate.

Rejected by the President in 2018, the bill, if passed, will return Nigeria to the era of January-December budget cycles, while similarly mandating the National Assembly to pass the budget before commencement of the next financial year.

Buhari had declined assent to the bill on the grounds that Section 2 (b) and 3 (b) of the proposal appears not to appreciate the provisions of Section 58 (4) of the 1999 constitution — an argument dismissed by David Umaru, Chairman of the Senate’s Technical Committee on Declined Assent to Bills.

The bill will ensure that the budget is laid not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year,” Umaru said.

“The legislative intent behind this bill is to ensure that we run a normal financial year. Therefore, the provision of Section 58(4) which Mr. President made reference to, does not apply in this regard.

“On the whole, we respectfully submit that the bill is not in conflict with the provision of Section 58(4) of the Constitution as implied by Mr President. It is, therefore, our concerted view that the Senate should override Mr. President’s veto.”

Section 58(4) of the Constitution being spoken of by the President reads: “Where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within thirty days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.”

However, Section 58(5) also adds: “Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”

As earlier reported by SaharaReporters, the Senate on Wednesday passed seven of the at least 16 bills rejected so far this year by the President.

The bills are the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Bill, National Research and Innovation Council Bill, Stamp Duties Act (Amendment) Bill, National Agricultural Seed Council Bill, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill.

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Why we amended Police Act after 100 years – Senator Kaura

Chairman of Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Tijjani Kaura, has given reasons for the amendment of Nigeria Police Act which existed for over a hundred years as obsolete and ineffectual.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday after plenary, Kaura said the amendment, the first of its kind has reformed the Police in a manner that would make them effective policing across the nation.

Part of the major highlight, he noted, was to make the Police civil and people-centred, saying that the Police ought to protect the people rather than being against the people as it were.

“Senate passed Police Act after 100 years. This is the first time the act received attention and just last week, public hearing on the Nigeria Police Academy was also heard.”

“The major highlight of the bill is to make the Police people centred and the Police is expected to protect human lives than destroying the people.”

Explaining further, he said, more reform in the amended act would see Police personnel go for training and retraining, adding that the situation of stagnating an officer for ten years on a particular beat would no longer be possible.

“Today, you can see a Police on a particular beat for 10 years without transfer and training.”

“The welfare of Police was also taken into cognizance in the amended act.”

Highlighting on sanctions involving Police officers, the lawmaker said, the act stipulated punitive measures to make happily triggered officers gauge the implications of their actions against the rule while on duties.

According to him, criminals who impersonated Police to commit crimes attracts a penalty of Five Million or two years jail term or both.

Kaura was optimistic that the bill would be signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari despite the 8th Senate having two months life-span.

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Senate passes bill prohibiting gas flaring

The Senate, on Wednesday passed a bill for an Act to Prohibit Gas Flaring in Nigeria.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bassey Akpan was passed after a clause-by-clause consideration at plenary.

The bill, which passed second reading in 2017, seeks to ensure that any person who acted on behalf of a licensee to supply inaccurate data to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) or to any other person duly empowered by a lawful authority, commits an offence.

Such a person should be liable upon conviction to a fine of N10 million or to imprisonment for a maximum term of six months or to both fine and imprisonment.

The bill also contained provisions on inaccurate data collation and submission by the lessee, gas flaring fee, powers of the minister to make regulations, as well as repeal of the Associated Gas Re-Injection Act 2004.

It equally seeks to ensure that natural gas is not flared or vented in any oil and gas production operation, bloc or field, onshore or onshore, or gas facility.

The bill also seeks to ensure that no operator should establish an oil and gas facility in Nigeria without obtaining authorisation from the minister for the design phase, the commissioning and the production phases.

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, put the bill to voice vote and it was adopted by the lawmakers.

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