Posts Tagged ‘Southern Leaders’

Restructuring: Take your case to National Assembley, Northern leaders tells agitators

Image result for nigerian flagStrong denunciation of the collaboration between the Middle Belt and the South came from the core North, yesterday, with a challenge to advocates of the restructuring of the country to use the National Assembly to push their case. In the same vein, the spate of laws by State Houses of Assembly prohibiting open grazing of cattle was flayed in the same quarters as an infringement of the freedom of movement of herdsmen which they affirmed would sooner than later be annulled by the courts. The Northern insistence on the status quo was rebuffed by advocates of restructuring from the Middle Belt and the South who affirmed that Nigeria cannot continue on the present framework which they said was discriminatory and oppressive. Northern leaders, including Tanko Yakasai, Balarabe Musa and Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, spoke in open rebuke of the Southern and Middle Belt leaders who were also accused of lacking the democratic platform to speak. Southern leaders from all three geopolitical zones, last Saturday, took a position with Middle Belt leaders during which they canvassed the immediate restructuring of the country to reflect fiscal federalism, and the prohibition of open grazing among others. Reacting, yesterday, Kano-based elder-statesman Yakassai, who served as adviser on National Assembly Affairs to President Shehu Shagari, in dismissing the collaboration of the South and the Middle Belt said:  “None of them was elected by their people to speak on their behalf. To the extent that this country guarantees freedom of speech, they are entitled to their opinion. “My quarrel with the people who are advocating this restructuring is that they failed to give the details of the restructuring. If Nigeria is restructured, every Nigerian will be affected. So it is incumbent upon anybody who is campaigning for this to spell it out so that Nigerians can look at it. But to just go about shouting slogans without giving the actual details is nonsensical. “Every one of them is represented in the state assemblies or the House of Representatives or the Senate. Every one of them knows that the way to change our Constitution is defined in our Constitution and our Constitution empowers our legislators, federal and state, to change the Constitution the way they deem appropriate. “So I challenge them to sponsor a bill through their elected representatives so that the bill can take its natural course. If the majority support it, it will be implemented. “I don’t know why they are ignoring the democratic institutions that we have? Why can’t they make use of the democratic institutions? Why are they avoiding the legislature? “Why do they think that press conference is a substitute for our elected representatives? In a democracy, you channel your views through your elected representatives if you are serious.” Yakasai responding to the position of the Southern and Middle Belt leaders on the rampage of herdsmen, said:  “The problem of herdsmen has been with us, even long before the British came and there was a process of handling it. If they strayed into your farm and destroyed your crop, usually, the local authorities would get them to compensate the victim. The right to move freely “As long as they are Nigerians, the Constitution of this country has guaranteed their right to move freely. The only thing is that where their livestock stray into other people’s land and damage their crops, they should be made to pay. “Any state assembly that makes a law to stop people from moving their cattle about is attempting to deny people their constitutionally guaranteed rights, and once the matter is taken to court, it will be declared a nullity,” the elder-statesman said. Alhaji Balarabe Musa, who served as governor of Kaduna State at the commencement of the Second Republic, on his part, was dismissive of the gathering. He said: “I have already said enough on this, and I don’t want to waste my time talking on this again. How different are they from those rascally northern youths who gave the southerners the quit ultimatum? How different are they from them, so I don’t want to waste my time.” Tsav, a retired commissioner of Police from Benue State in the Middle Belt, on his part, dismissed the Southern and Middle Belt leaders as opportunists. He said: “They are opportunists because they are trying to create a situation that will benefit them. Their coming together seems as if they want to go into Biafra. “The ordinary man does not know the meaning of restructuring. It is the politicians who are pushing for it. When there is a government that favours them, they don’t do anything but when they are not getting anything they embark on the type of thing they are doing. “I don’t agree with their demands. Some of these people are vying for the Presidency, and they feel they can get supporters from the South by supporting calls for restructuring.” The Yoruba socio-cultural body, Afenifere, which was strongly represented at the Southern-Middle Belt summit in reiterating the call for restructuring, said through its spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin yesterday:  “That call was made by a majority of Nigerians. It behoves on the Federal Government to listen to the requests, so it does not appear to the world that it is serving the minority like the apartheid regime in South Africa. “The polity is so fragile at the moment, and the government must promote inclusiveness to restore some level of confidence.” Mr. Akin Osuntokun, who served as Political Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo in his second term said:  “It is consistent and valid, but I would have wished that the coalition encompasses the whole of Nigeria, including the far North. “The consolation is the weighty and open support and identification of eminent political leaders like Ibrahim Babangida and Atiku Abubakar. Bias, nepotism, and discrimination are inherently built into Nigeria, and until the country is restructured, it will continue to be plagued by this dilemma. “The meaningful solution is devolution and decentralization of power which divests the centre of its oppressive and over-centralized powers.” Mrs. Esther Gonda, a retired permanent secretary in the Federal Civil Service from Plateau State, who was also a member of the 2014 National Conference on her part, said restructuring was inevitable on account of the structural dislocations in the polity. “Restructuring is a positive word, you restructure an organization to make it more efficient, and I think it is time that we did that in this country, given the agitations that are all over the place to look at what needs to be done to make it workable. “Nigerians all over the place are excelling, but for some reasons, as we are configured, there is a lot of vices that are being generated. So it is good to face it squarely and see what we need to do. “During the national conference, we talked about so many of these items, and we know it is time for us to sit down and face our dragon squarely.”

CJN: Southern Leaders Insist on Onnoghen

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to send of Justice Walter Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation to avert crisis in the polity especially in the Niger-Delta. This was the opinion of some leaders from the south-south part of Nigeria, including Elder Statesman, Chief Edwin Clark; Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and two members of the House of Representatives, Hon. Timothy Golu (Plateau, and Michael Adeniyi Omogbehin

. According to the Constitution, Justice Onnoghen is expected to vacate office if his appointment is not confirmed by the Senate after three months. The National Judicial Commission, NJC, in exercise of its powers under Section 231 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), on October 13, 2016, recommended Justice Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria to President Buhari but the President is yet to forward his name to the Senate for confirmation. Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Nkanu Onnoghen Meanwhile, the Presidency has cautioned leaders against blackmailing the president on the issue or reading religious, ethnic and regional meanings into it. Let’s avert fresh crisis in Niger-Delta – Clark Clark, who is the convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, pleaded with President Buhari to transmit Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation to ward off fresh crisis in the Niger-Delta. The acting CJN is from Cross River State, one of the six states of the South-South geo-political zone. Vanguard gathered that an emergency meeting of PANDEF would be convened, weekend, to enable the region deliberate and take a position on the matter. Speaking to Vanguard, Chief Clark said leaders of the region had been busy for some time now trying to bring peace to the region and stop pipeline vandalism by militants, but just when they were about to celebrate the new found peace, another problem over the delay in sending the name of Justice Onnoghen for confirmation as Chief Justice of Nigeria is brewing. He urged President Buhari “not to listen or allow himself to be misled by some of his advisers but take the best decision in the overall interest of Nigeria and the law. We have kept quiet for some time thinking that Mr. President will not waste time in sending his name to the Senate for confirmation. The duty of the President, as contained in the 1999 Constitution, has always been conventional and traditional. It is not the duty of Mr. President to question the suitability of the person recommended by the National Judicial Council, NJC. Once the recommendation is done, it is automatic and his duty is just to transmit the name to the Senate, the verification, looking into his character and everything is that of the Senate and not the President. “But for more than three months now, going to about four months since the name was submitted to Mr. President, we, in the South-South, feel that the same thing that was done in the case of previous Chief Justices of Nigeria should be done. For instance, Justice Irikefe was CJN from 1985 to 1987, it was the same procedure that was used in appointing Justice Bello as CJN (1987 – 1995). And after him, there had been no trouble, it has been a quiet transition all along from one CJN to the other, in fact, the president has never questioned the judgement of the NJC. Once the NJC has taken a decision and submits the name to the president, it is automatic… “Nobody knew what was happening or even took notice of it, so I am appealing to Mr. President on behalf of the people of the South-South to please send the name of Onnoghen for confirmation before the expiration of his acting tenure, as doing otherwise, will cause problem in the area. We are not trouble makers; we are Nigerians and not second-class citizens of the country. “Any moment we are being treated otherwise, our children will begin to ask questions, are they first-class citizens in Nigeria, are they equal to other Nigerians, we will not accept it. So, we are appealing to Mr. President to use his good office if he wants peace in the area and cooperation of the people of the South-South not to cause another problem in the area.” Buhari should act without further delay – Omo-Agege.  In like manner, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (LP, Delta Central) urged President Buhari to transmit Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation as CJN without further delay. In a text message to Vanguard yesterday, Senator Omo- Agege said: “Justice Nkanu Onnoghen is one of Nigeria’s sharpest legal minds. He is a man of integrity, who has served the country well. His sterling record of excellence uniquely qualifies him to serve as Chief Justice of Nigeria. “His nomination would be a sterling choice that would receive overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate. That said, I do urge President Buhari to send his name to the Senate for confirmation right away.” The Senator’s call is coming barely 24 four hours after the Cross River State National Assembly Caucus urged President Buhari to treat the matter with urgency. Reps Omoghehin, Golu concur Also, Rep Micheal Adeniyi Omogbehin said the delay in transmitting Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation was setting bad precedence in the country. His words: “It is very unfortunate that we found ourselves in such unusual circumstances and situation. The usual sequence has been that the most senior judge in the Supreme Court automatically takes over. Why is this happening at this critical time? It smirks a very dangerous precedence because in the past 30 years, this is the first time the headship of the judiciary is shifting from the northern to the southern part of the country. I want to assume that the delay is a coincidence and I don’t want to assume that the president albeit the presidency has done this deliberately. “Despite the fact that National Assembly has suspended plenary, there is still room to address this urgent situation. I reliably gathered that the acting Chief Justice has up to three to four years to be on the seat, which simply means he is still young enough and there has not been any disciplinary charges against him. “So, as a patriotic Nigerian, I call on Mr. President to do the needful so as not to create the impression or ratify the impression that has been created already that Onnoghen is being denied that position because he is from the southern side of Nigeria.’’ To Rep. Timothy Golu: “In this matter, justice should be done. The person that is qualified should be given this job because the President said he is out to promote justice, unity and the rest of them. One of the ways in which he should demonstrate that is by observing due process. This man’s name was submitted some months ago and in line with the constitution, every requirements have been met. “So, in order not to create any crisis, crisis of confidence, crisis of leadership, or in order not to create any ethnic problem because people from the South will feel that the President, who is from the North, does not want any southerner to take over the office of the CJN. That will not be good for the unity of this country. I know that the President in his wisdom will confirm Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria because he is a man of justice and we believe he will do justice to this… So I have utmost confidence that President Buhari will appoint Onnoghen as the substantive CJN of this country.” On whether the National Assembly will invoke the doctrine of necessity if the President fails to forward his name for confirmation, he said, “I don’t know what the National Assembly will do but let us get to the bridge first.’’

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