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EFCC Act: To be repealed or not?

Last Tuesday, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami proposed the repeal and re-enactment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act. He said this would make way for a comprehensive overhaul of the issues in the Act which have been hampering its fight against corruption. But lawyers conversant with EFCC operations are divided on the proposal, ADEBISI ONANUGA writes.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, last week wrote to the House of Representatives seeking a review of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act 2004, to remove all lacuna hindering the performance of its duties.

The AGF asked members of the Lower Chamber of the Legislative House for a comprehensive review of the Act. Alternatively, he suggested they repeal and re-enact the Act, to come up with a new and harmonised bill that would address the issues he raised.

The House Committee on Financial Crimes, chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Ogun State, Mr. Kayode Oladele, last Tuesday presented two bills to the House for public hearing: “A Bill to Amend the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment) Act” and “A Bill to Amend the Money Laundering (Prohibition and Prevention) Act”.

The AGF, it was reported, gave a long list of proposed amendments which included a bill granting autonomy to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), currentlty domiciled under the EFCC.

The AGF proposed the setting up of a sub-committee of the lawmakers, the EFCC, his office and other stakeholders to do a thorough review of the Act. The EFCC is said to be in full support of a harmonised bill as it would strengthen the agency.

However, while the EFCC agrees with the AGF’s proposal on the need for a harmonised and a comprehensive bill, the Nigerian Law Reform Commission (NLRC) is not favourably disposed to it.

EFCC Act 2004

The EFCC Act 2004 established the commission. The Act mandates the EFCC to combat financial and economic crimes. The commission is empowered to prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalise economic and financial crimes’offenders, and is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes, including: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act (2004); The Money Laundering Act 1995; The Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004; The Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 1995; The Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act 1994; The Banks and other Financial Institutions Act 1991; and Miscellaneous Offences Act.

Based on this mandate, the EFCC, under its Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, has been at the forefront of the fight against corruption, sometimes, using a combination of these laws.

While observers of the polity see the need to review the EFCC Act, they however don’t agree with the proposal to repeal the act against the background of many recoveries made by the commission. To this group, a repeal of the act is suspect, given the recent face-off between Magu and NGF. They questioned the need to repeal the Act through which, in their view, the agency made huge financial recoveries and convictions.

 

EFCC successes

 

There is a general belief that Magu, in spite of the non-confirmation of his position by the lawmakers, has performed as well as, if not better than, any of his predecessors.

For instance, under Magu, the EFCC has secured 340 convictions in courts for various offences and recovered billions of dollars of stolen funds within the last six months.

In addition, the commission using the mechanism of the non-conviction-based forfeiture provided under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, had made a lot of recoveries. This year alone, the commission recovered stolen assets running into several millions of dollars and billions of naira.

These include the $43 million recovered from Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum, and N2 billion from seven accounts within three Nigerian banks laundered from the Federal Capital Territory Police Command Salary Accounts.

The country had also made progress in specific cases related to Abacha loot, Malabu Oil, Diezani and associates, and the arms procurement scandal.

Another instance is the recovery of $9.2 million and 750,000 pounds from the home of Mr Andrew Yakubu, a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Kaduna State. The money is said to be in excess of N3 billion at the official exchange rate.

There was also the case of a public servant from whom the agency recovered N1.25 billion.

 

Why a review of EFCC Act may be desirable

 

Some observers, however, appeared to be in agreement with the AGF whose office, sometimes, disagrees with the EFCC on how it handles high-profile anti-graft cases.

 

Non-diligent prosecution of

PEP cases

 

Although many of the EFCC cases involving Politically-Exposed Persons (PEPs) are yet to be concluded, and many other PEPs are under EFCC investigation, the commission has been accused of poor and non-diligent prosecution of a few of the PEP corruption cases it has lost.

Critics say these are the main reasons the agency has hardly secured convictions of high-profile persons for allegedly looting the country’s treasury, notwithstanding the huge funds recovered in some cases.

They argued that this was why President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was yet to score a high profile conviction since it began its war against corruption in May  2015.

 

Appointment of EFCC chairman

 

One contentious issue which attracted attention of observers was the appointment and confirmation of the chairman of the commission. There have been arguments whether or not the President requires the confirmation of the Senate for the appointment of EFCC chairman.

The mostly referred sections in the matter are 1(1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 171(1) (2) of the same constitution, vis-a-vis Section 2(3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) establishment Act 2004.

The non-clarity of the interpretation of this Section of the Constitution and the EFCC Act has been one of the reasons why Magu remains Acting Chairman of the commission.

 

Inadequate funding of the EFCC

 

Some observers believe all inhibitions must be removed if the EFCC must function to expectation.

One way of achieving this, they said, is ensuring adequate funding of the agency. But how can this be achieved? Is a repeal and re-enactment the answer?

During a plenary sitting of the House of Representatives last week,  the Secretary of the commission, Mr. Emmanuel Adegboyega, who represented Magu, made a case for adequate funding of the agency as stated among the amendments proposed for the EFCC Act.

He emphasised the importance of proper funding of the agency if it must work and deliver on the expectations of the government and the people of Nigeria.

To this end, he requested that a fraction of the money, up to five per cent, recovered by the commission within the last two years, be allocated to the agency to speed up its activities.

But the NLRC opposed the idea of giving some percentage of recovered loot to the EFCC. Its representative, Prof. Jummai Awudi, argued that it would be “legally and morally wrong” for the commission to keep part of the recovered money to itself.

 

Suspension of NFIU from

Egmont Group

 

In the heat of the controveray, the Senate and the office of the AGF blamed Magu for the suspension of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from the Egmont Group.

The Egmont Group is a body of Financial Intelligence units whose members compare notes on matters relating to international finance and illicit flow of monies.

Presently, the NFIU operates as a department under the EFCC. But the Senate and Malami would prefer that the NFIU operated independently.

The AGF alleged that the EFCC had been “manipulating and misusing intelligence to the detriment of the fight against corruption and financial crimes in Nigeria”, adding that the commission was not happy with the effort of the government to have an independent NFIU.

The independence of the NFIU is one of the amendments to the EFCC Act proposed by the office of the AGF

According to Malami, this request is reinforced with the need for a review of the NFIU operatives and operations to make it stronger for Nigeria’s re-admission to the Egmont Group.

 

Lawyers reaction

 

Lawyers who are conversant with the workings of the EFCC, however, see the proposal of the AGF in another light.

To, them, a repeal or re-enactment of the Act is dangerous and might not be in the interest of the commission and the fight against corruption.

They include activist lawyer Festus Keyamo (SAN), a former member of the Ogun State Judiciary Service Commission, Abayomi Omoyinmi, and former Welfare Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Samson Omodara.

Keyamo said the controversy over the NFIU was needless. According to him, the functions of the NFIU were so closely connected to EFCC operations that it was not practicable for both organisations to be separated in the way that is being proposed.

He, however, said he would make more comments when a full detail of what is to be done on the matter becomes public.

Omoyinmi said the AGF’s  proposal on total repeal and re-enactment of the EFCC Act is wishful. “It cannot be achieved and I believe it is very unnecessary to have the whole Act repealed.

“I am of the opinion that the Act can go through a steady review in line with amendment which is under consideration by the National Assembly. The grey areas observed should be attended to during the course of reviewing the Act which obviously would be put forward for amendment.

“Attention should be given  to areas of funding, training, special powers ,investigation and prosecution. These are areas that may need to be reviewed and that can strengthen the functions of the commission as we presently have it as opposed to total repeal proposed by the AGF,” he said.

Omodara also opposed a repeal of the Act. According to him, “our problem in this country is not lack of laws but holistic and spirited implementation of these laws, EFCC Act inclusive”.

He argued “no law is flawless even the grundnorm. I therefore will not subscribe to a total repeal rather an amendment as it has been done to the Electoral Act. The officers responsible for the investigation and prosecution of suspects must be thorough and patriotic.  The punishments as contained in the Act may also be looked  into with a view to deterring corruption. Capital punishment may be considered like the China’s position”, he advised.

Source: http://thenationonlineng.net/efcc-act-repealed-not/

Lagos Chief judge tasks lawyers on ADR

The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke, has charged lawyers to imbibe Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism as part and parcel of their practice.

The chief judge told lawyers that the use of ADR would enhance access to justice, improve speedy dispensation of justice and help to decongest court dockets across the country.

Oke said this in Lagos at the first ADR roundtable for lawyers, organised by the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) in collaboration with the Lagos Ministry of Justice.

According to her, the forum was orgainsed to educate lawyers to desist from being resistant to the use of ADR and not to see it as an “alarm drop in their revenue.”

She said: “As a magistrate and judge in Lagos State, I have in numerous occasions encouraged parties to explore ADR and settle cases out of court.

“Most of those cases were resolved out of court and parties were able to maintain their relationship and confidentiality were maintained.

“The resistant of lawyers to ADR is understandable and forgivable but when the concept is understood, engagement to the process will be profitable.”

Oke noted that in other advanced jurisdictions, a lot of cases go through ADR and are brought to court only when ADR failed.

“It is obvious that legal education in this country needs to be modernised to keep pace with the modern trend.

“However, in the interim, as lawyers and gate keepers in the justice sector, we have to make quick decision and imbibe the process to improve the society and reduce emotional stress undergone by parties who go through courts,” the CJ said.

A senior lawyer with the Ogundipe and Belgore law firm, Mr Babjide Ogundipe, advised lawyers to first evaluate cases brought to them and know what would be better for their clients.

Ogundipe was represented by a lawyer in his firm, Mr. Yemi Akande and spoke on the topic: The role of a 21st century lawyer: Advocate or Deal Maker?

His words: “As a lawyer, you should exercise due care in carrying out your client’s case, instead of getting a case locked up in litigation for several years, it is better to engage in ADR. A 21st century lawyer is one who is pragmatic and have the transaction mind.”

Ogundipe said that ADR has helped aggrieved parties to resolve issues in lesser time than when cases go through litigation, adding that at the end of ADR both parties make lots of economic advantage.

Mr Mark Mordi, who spoke on the topic: “Best practices and modern trend”, encouraged lawyers to adopt the global trend and learn how ADR is done.

He said that lawyers should imbibe dispute resolution mechanism and encourage their clients to settle some cases out of court in order to minimise costs and length of time wasted in courts.

“Access to court does not necessarily mean access to justice. The high fees and length of time taken in courts sometimes negates principles of justice,” Mordi declared.

The Chairman of the LMDC governing Council, Justice Olateru Olagbegi (Emeritus judge) in his remark explained that the idea behind the roundtable forum was to promote ADR and fulfill the statutory mandate of the LMDC by encouraging lawyers to help in decongesting the courts through ADR.

Source: https://guardian.ng/features/lagos-chief-judge-tasks-lawyers-on-adr/

Rights Groups Demand Arrest, Prosecution Of Kwara Senator Lafiagi For Alleged Murder Of 4 Students

Eight civil society organizations have called for the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Shaaba Lafiagi, a senator representing Kwara State, for the alleged extra-judicial killing of four of the students protesting against the shoddy representation has provided for his constituents.

The four young men were shot dead by soldiers attached to Mr. Lafiagi on Friday.

The rights groups made their demand in a statement jointly signed by their leaders.

Among the signatories were Messrs. Charles Ofemi of Kwara Youth Stakeholders Forum, Abdulrazak Hamzat of Kwara Must Change, Ibrahim Garba Wala of Citizens Action To Take Back Nigeria and  Idris Ahmed of Citizens United for Peace and Security. Others were Ahmed Buhari of Cabal Must Go, Miriam Yakubu of Be The Change Organization, Olatunji Yusuf of Legacy Must Change and Daniel Seun of Citizens of Impact.

According to the statement the deceased were killed during a peaceful protest against the poor quality of representation Mr. Lafiagi has provided.

The groups noted that the unfortunate incident has been confirmed by the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and other security agencies.

“The reprehensible occurrence, which led to the brutal execution of defenseless, unarmed and peaceful protesters happened as a result of high level irresponsibility, rascality and lack of maturity, which propelled Senator Muhammed Shaa’aba Lafiagi to order soldiers to execute protesting youths, who were merely expressing their disaffection with the senator’s lack of proper representation of the people,” the groups said.

While condemning the development, the groups stated that the protesters were well within their rights to express their displeasure in a peaceful manner. They noted that Mr. Lafiagi is one of those that have completely given up on their constitutional duties to look after the welfare of their constituents.

“For many years, the main road that leads into Lafiagi town has been in a very bad state. It was not motorable for quite some time. This includes a dilapidated culvert at Sobo. In order to fix this problem that has clearly affected the economy and mobility of the good people of Lafiagi town, the patriotic youths of the town mobilized financial resources and fixed half of the road.

“When the Senator showed up with his entourage on Friday, the youths stopped his convoy and asked him to own up to his responsibility by fixing the remaining half. Instead of placating the youths by showing maturity and leadership, the bloodthirsty Senator Mohammed Sha’aba Lafiagi called on upon trigger happy soldiers, who opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators,” the groups recalled.

They stated that the lawmaker has become a law breaker and must not escape from the wrath of the law, as the killing was a needless waste of human life. In addition, the rights groups reasoned that it is because of the presence of tyrants like Mr. Lafiagi in the federal legislature that no laws will be made for the benefit of the masses.

“In view of this unfortunate situation, we the undersigned Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) aver that the days of impunity and extra-judicial killings are well and truly over in Nigeria and we therefore demand that the Inspector General of Police, as a matter of urgency, order the arrest and prosecution of Senator Lafiagi and his trigger happy soldiers within two weeks, else we will call for civil action against the politicians in National Assembly. This demand should be taken very seriously and acted upon with immediate effect because justice delayed is justice denied,” the groups demanded.

Source: http://saharareporters.com/2017/11/20/rights-groups-demand-arrest-prosecution-kwara-senator-lafiagi-alleged-murder-4-students

Monarch moves against rapists, domestic violence, child abuse In community

The traditional ruler of Igbogbo Kingdom, in Igbogbo/Bayeku Local Government Development Area of Lagos State, Oba Abdulsemiu Orimadegun, the Adeboruwa of Igbogbo kingdom, has declared  war against perpetrators of rape, domestic violence, child abuse in the area.
The monarch spoke weekend, during a sensitization walk, aimed at fighting sexual and gender based violence in the community. Speaking at the event organized by Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), the monarch said children were leaders of tomorrow and that the community would not toy with the welfare of its upcoming generation. Orimadegun said: “We will not tolerate child abuse in Igbogbo. No children will be abused, harassed and persecuted in this community and  that is why we are partnering with the Lagos State Government in this lofty policy that is being implemented  and which other states in the federation are now following.” Speaking with Vanguard at the event, the State Coordinator of (DSVRTT), Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, said the aim of the walk “is to sensitise the community on sexual and gender based violence crimes.”

Source: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/11/monarch-moves-rapists-domestic-violence-child-abuse-community/

Sanction lawyers who give their seals to agents — NBA, Ilorin Branch- Judiciary Committee Report

Reforms improve the Legal Profession. This is one reason why the Constitutional Review Committee or any other similar committee is set up to introduce recommendations that will be of immense benefits in improving the current state of the profession. But what happens when sound recommendations are sometimes treated as triviality or perhaps forgotten? This may be fate of the Report of the Bar/Judiciary Committee of the NBA, Ilorin Branch.

In this exclusive report, the judiciary committee listed out some recommendations that are not only interesting but may stand the test of time if eventually implemented.1. PREAMBLE:
This committee was set up at the monthly meeting of the NBA Ilorin Branch held on 25th May, 2016. Members of the committee are:
Sir J.S. Bamigboye, SAN ………. Chairman
Olateju K. Taofiq Esq. ………. Member
Olorunisola Olasunkanmi Esq. ….…… Member
Dr. R.O. Abdulkadir ………. Member
Olayemi Shittu (Mrs.) ………. Member
Wahab Ismail Esq. ………. Member
Ibrahim Toyin Jimoh Esq. ………. Member
Oluronke Adeyemi (Mrs.) ………. Secretary

The Committee met and deliberated on the terms of reference given to it and has come up with the following report and recommendations.

a. Court Rooms: Members raised the issue of the deplorable conditions of most of our court rooms which are quite embarrassing. Court rooms at Offa, Omu-Aran, Bode Saadu, Oloje, Akerebiata, Pake, Ganmo and some even at the headquarters are in very bad shape and unfit for legal practice. The committee suggests that the NBA should recommend the following to the leadership of the Judiciary:

i. That all the courtrooms should be given a face lift.
ii. That cleaners be employed and supervised to ensure cleanliness of these courts at all times.
iii. The locations of the courts at Oloje, Centre Igboro, Ganmo and Pake are not conducive for legal proceedings and the courts should be relocated to more conducive locations.
iv. That the Judiciary should be given a time frame of six months to relocate the said courts or we boycott proceedings in such courts.
v. The court at Akerebiata should be renovated. The compound needs proper drainage as well as concrete floor. It is recommended that the NBA can assist with the renovation of this court as a social responsibility and to encourage the judiciary.

b. Service of Process By Bailiffs:
The idea of haggling with the bailiffs on fees for service was condemned. It is hereby suggested that the Judiciary and the Bar should work out a realistic bill of charges for service of court processes which will be payable to the treasury and the bailiffs mobilized by the Judiciary to effect the service. That way, the lawyers have no need to contact the bailiffs except to provide a pointer if required.

c. Commissioners for Oaths: It was observed that Judiciary Staff who act as Commissioners for Oath are too many. This gives room to all kinds of shady practices. It was observed that there are no records of affidavits deposed to at the court making it difficult to authenticate the genuiness of filed affidavits. It was suggested that the office ofthe Commissioner for Oaths be streamlined and copies of affidavits sworn to at the court be retained to check proliferation of fake affidavits.

d. Improper Dressing by Judicial officers and other members of Staff: It was observed that the dressing of some judicial officers and court registrars are not in conformity with the demands of this profession. Some wear bright coloured shirts and dresses to sit in court. Court Registrars come in all manners of dresses like jeans, T Shirts, leggings etc. It is suggested that a dress code should be made and enforced for members of staff of the Judiciary to give more respectability to the courts.

e. Dressing by Lawyers: A dress code enforcement committee of the NBA should be set up to ensure that Lawyers are properly dressed for court appearances and Bar meetings. Lawyers wearing slippers, sandals and coloured shirts/dress to court should not be condoned. We recommend that the Chief Judge pass a circular to all courts that lawyers that are not properly dressed should not be given audience in the courts, while lawyers that are not properly dressed to Bar meetings should also not be given audience at such meetings. We also urge the Bar to bring it to the knowledge of our colleagues that wearing of bibs and any kind of display of wigs and gowns are only for the court and not around town or on the dashboard of our cars.

f. Applications for Orders, Rulings and Judgements: The impunity with which court clerks, Registrars and typists ask for money before making available copies of hearing notices, orders, rulings and judgement was discussed. It has indeed reached an alarming proportion.
The position of the 1999 constitution in S 294(1) is that rulings and judgements be delivered within ninety days after the conclusion of evidence and final addresses and the court must furnish all parties to the cause or matter determined with duly authenticated copies of the decision within seven days of the delivery thereof. This was the practice in this jurisdiction until a few years ago. It is sad to note that while the courts comply with the first part of this law by delivering judgement within ninety days of final addresses, the other part of making copies of the decision available within seven days is no longer complied with. This has gone a long way in encouraging extortion of litigants and parties by court officials who charge unreasonable fees before making the copies available. Part of the reasons given for this unwholesome practice by some registrars range from lack of stationeries to inability to read the handwriting of the judge/magistrate thereby necessitating the need to take the judgements to business centers to type out. It was suggested that the constitutional requirements should be strictly adhered to. All necessary facilities for the production of hearing notices, orders, rulings and judgement should be made available by the judiciary. Our honourable judges and magistrates should ensure that typed copies of their rulings and judgements are made available to parties as required of them by the law in order to avoid the unpleasantness and embarrassment that will attend a petition being written against them by an aggrieved party. It is important to note that it is the head of such a court that will be called to question and not the supporting staff. We recommend that the leadership of the Bar take this matter up with the Honourable Chief Judge.We also recommend in the alternative that if it is not possible (for economic reasons) for the documents to be made available free of charge, appropriate fees should be fixed for payment to the treasury to get the documents.

g. Training of Judiciary Staff: Magistrates, Area Court judges and other court officials should have periodic trainings organized for them in conjunction with NBA to sharpen their skills and enhance productivity.

h. Lateness of courts in sitting: It was observed that some judicial officers have developed the habit of sitting late constantly without any regard for the appropriate time of court sittings or apology or explanation to members of the Bar.
It is recommended that if any court does not sit by 9.15am (except where courtrooms are being shared) and there is no message from the Judge, Magistrate or Area Court Judge, the most senior lawyer in court should lead others to walk out on such a court.

i. High Court Offa: It was observed that the Judge at the Offa High Court was on National assignment for about one year paralyzing the court. It was recommended that another judge be transferred to Offa while the idea of the sole judge sitting in a jurisdiction going on national assignment should be seriously discouraged.

j. Lack of Etiquette among lawyers:The lack of respect and etiquette by our junior colleagues was also discussed. Some juniors have no respect for seniors, very rude in conduct and speech to their colleagues as well as even to the court at times. Some are so bad that it is difficult to believe they are lawyers. The Bar should not hesitate to deal with such bad eggs.

k. NBA Seal: Lawyers should desist from the habit of giving their seals to lawyers who have no seals so that we will not be aiding fake lawyers. Any law office where no lawyer in the office has a seal should be closed down. Our colleagues should raise objections to lawyers using other lawyer’s seals or using any suspicious seal. The idea of lawyers selling their seal to land agents or anyone whosoever should be treated as a professional misconduct and appropriate actions taken against such a member.

Sir J.S. Bamigboye SAN
Chairman

Oluronke Adeyemi (Mrs.)
Secretary

Source: https://thenigerialawyer.com/sanction-lawyers-who-give-their-seals-to-agents-nba-ilorin-branch-judiciary-committee-report/

SERAP, pensioners drag Buhari to ECOWAS Court

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and several pensioners’ associations have asked the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja to order the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to deduct the pensions, salaries and gratuities of pensioners and workers across several states of Nigeria from the statutory allocations of the indebted state governments.

They also want President Muhammadu Buhari to order the payment of same directly to the pensioners and workers on a-monthly basis.In the suit marked number ECW/CCJ/APP/39/2017, the plaintiffs are suing over violations of the human rights of workers and pensioners to equality and equal treatment.

They want immediate payment of all outstanding pensions, salaries and gratuities through deductions from statutory allocations of the indebted state governments, and payment of adequate money compensation of N50 million to each of the pensioners and workers.

Other plaintiffs joining SERAP in the suit are: First Bank of Nigeria Pensioners (Lagos); Mrs Comfort C. Owoha; Joseph Agabi; Osemwenkha G.O, and Mrs J.E. Enabunlele. The plaintiffs are suing for themselves and on behalf of their members and other workers and pensioners across the country whose salaries and pensions have not been by the states and Federal Government for several months.

In the suit filed on their behalf by Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana, the plaintiffs argued that the retirement system in Nigeria violated the right to equal protection of the law and dignity since senior public officials continue to receive “privileged pensions”, salaries and gratuities while the 2nd—7th plaintiffs, their members and several other Nigerian pensioners and workers continue to be denied their entitlements, salaries and gratuities.

They also argued that, “Under international law, Nigeria cannot invoke the provisions of its internal laws or the nature of its federation as justification for its failure to perform a treaty obligation. A fundamental rule of the law of State responsibility is that a State cannot escape its responsibility on the international plane by referring to its domestic legal situation.”

The suit read in part: “Ultimately, the Federal Government cannot escape its responsibility to achieve the effective realization of the rights of Nigerian workers and pensioners to timely and regular payment of salaries, entitlements and gratuities, as it retains ultimate responsibility to ensure the rights of workers and pensioners are fully realized.”

“Workers and pensioners in several states in Nigeria have been victims of violations of civil and political rights and even more severely, of economic, social, and cultural rights. The 2nd-7th plaintiffs and their members and other Nigerian pensioners and workers have experienced extreme poverty, discrimination, social exclusion, stigmatization, and deprivation of protections and entitlements on an ongoing basis due primarily to the failure and/or negligence of the Federal Government to ensure that several states of Nigeria pay accrued pensions, salaries and gratuities.

“By granting the reliefs sought, the ECOWAS Court would be recognizing and reiterating the need for the government and its federating units to protect the rights and interests of the vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalized groups.

“Despite their obligations to protecting the human rights of vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, the government has failed to prevent the systematic violation by several states of the federation of a wide range of human rights as a result of the continuing failure and/or negligence to ensure that the states timely and regularly pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements and gratuities.

“The government has failed and/or neglected to ensure the timely payment of over 42 months of outstanding pensions and gratuities in Edo State of Nigeria despite Edo State receiving funds in the form of over N29 billion Paris Club refunds between November 2016 and July 2017 from the government.

“The government has since 2013 failed and/or neglected to ensure payment of accrued pensions and gratuities to about 4000 members of the Association of Retired Local Government Staff and Primary School Teachers in Delta State across 25 Local Government Councils of the State, leaving the pensioners to live in extreme poverty.

“Mrs Comfort C. Owoha served for 35 years as staff of the Sokoto State Primary School Board. But payment of her pensions expected to commence in 2001 after verification was inexplicably stopped by the Sokoto State Government.

“The government has failed to exercise due diligence, leading to the refusal and failure of the First Bank of Nigeria PLC to pay its pensioners accrued entitlements and gratuities and when pensions and gratuities are paid the Bank pay as low as N11,000, 13,000 as pensions despite the enormous amount in the Banks’s pension fund.

“The government has since December 2014 failed and/or neglected to ensure that Osun State of Nigeria remits monthly pensions deducted from the contributory pensioners. The government has also failed and/or neglected to ensure regular and timely payment of pensions and gratuities in Osun State, and that contributory pensioners have not been paid since January 2015.

“The government has failed and/or neglected to pay members of the Federal Civil Service Pensioners Association of Nigeria accrued pensions. The government continues to engage the Nigeria Union of Pensioners while deliberately sidelining the Federal Civil Service Pensioners Association of Nigeria and its members. The government is failing and/or refusing to ensure payment by several states of Nigeria of workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements, amounting to billions of Naira in arrears.

“International human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party impose obligations on the government to ensure that economic difficulties and times of severe resource constraints cannot be used to undermine the enjoyment of the human rights of workers and pensioners in Nigeria, and disproportionately hurt them.

“The right to timely and regular payment of pensions and salaries is essential, particularly when a person does not have the necessary property available, or is not able to secure an adequate standard of living through old age or economic and social factors.

“According to the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), 23 states of the federation currently owed workers arrears of salaries ranging from one to 24 months. The NULGE gave the breakdown of states as follows: Bayelsa State: 10 to 16 months; Kogi State: between seven to 15 months; Delta State: eight to 14 months; Kaduna State:12 months; Oyo State: three to 11 months; and Edo State: 10 months.

“Others are Abia State: five to nine months; Kwara State: two to nine months; Benue State: nine months; Nasarawa State: seven months; Ondo, Ekiti, Imo States: six months; while Zamfara State has not implemented minimum wage. Adamawa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Plateau States are owing four months; Taraba and Federal Capital Territory: three months while Osun state has been paying half salaries for 24 months; and staff are owed few months in Enugu State.”

The plaintiffs therefore are asking the ECOWAS Court of Justice for the following reliefs:

“A declaration that the continuing failure and/or negligence of the Defendant to promote and ensure timely and regular payment by several states of Nigeria of pensioners’ entitlements and workers’ salaries and gratuities cannot be justified under any circumstances.

“A declaration that the failure and/or negligence of the Defendant to provide an environment necessary for securing and promoting the enjoyment of the human rights of pensioners and workers at the federal level and in several states of Nigeria to equality and equal treatment; equal protection of the law and non-discrimination; to dignity and independence; is unlawful.

“A declaration that the failure of the Defendant to promote and ensure an effective remedy and reparation for pensioners and workers who have continued to suffer due to the non-payment of pensions, salaries and gratuities by several states of Nigeria is unlawful.

“A declaration that the refusal of the Defendant to ensure the payment of pensions, salaries, and gratuities of the Plaintiffs is illegal and unlawful.

“An order directing the Defendant to respect, protect, promote, and fulfil the human rights of pensioners and workers to timely and regular payment of pensions, salaries and gratuities and therefore, to equality and equal treatment; equal protection of the law and non-discrimination; to dignity and independence; to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being; to adequate standard of living and well-being; to property; to work; to family life; and to economic and social development.

“An order directing the Defendant and/or its agents to provide effective remedies and reparation, including adequate compensation, restitution, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition that the Honourable Court may deem fit to grant to pensioners and workers that have continued to suffer due to the failure and/or refusal by the Defendant to promote and ensure payment by several states of Nigeria of pensioners’ entitlements and workers’ salaries and gratuities.”

Source: https://thenigerialawyer.com/serap-pensioners-drag-buhari-to-ecowas-court/

Protest rocks Lagos community as policemen drown tricycle rider

Some residents of Isheri, Lagos State, on Saturday went on the rampage at the Isheri Divisional Police Station after the corpse of a 37-year-old tricycle rider, Adama Onikoyi, was recovered from a river in the community.

A team of policemen from the station had reportedly raided the neighbourhood around 10pm on Thursday during which they chased the father of four into the river, where he drowned.

But the Lagos State Police Command said the indigene of Ibadan, Oyo State was a traffic robber, adding that he jumped into the river to evade arrest.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Adama was accosted by one of the cops on Wilma Street, where he lived, shortly after he returned from work.

It was gathered that he declined following them to the station on the grounds that he did not commit any offence.

He was said to have managed to escape and flee towards the river.

His widow, Biliki Onikoyi, said he had gone to buy food for one of their children, Zainab, after he returned from work.

She said she became apprehensive when he did not return after an hour.

She said, “When I called his phone number, it indicated that it was switched off. I was in fear throughout the night. While I was searching for him the following morning, someone said policemen raided the community the previous day and chased a man to the riverside.

“The person said he saw some policemen beating one man and that they tore the man’s clothes when he insisted that he would not follow them. I went there and found my husband’s clothes at the bank.

“I went to the station to know if he was among those arrested during the raid. A policeman I met said he was not arrested. While he was attending to me, another policeman came and said they pushed a stubborn man inside the water.”

Biliki said Adama’s corpse floated around 8am on Saturday with injuries on his head and face.

She said her husband was killed for no just cause and demanded that justice must be done.

“One of his hands was also broken. He was not a thief and nothing incriminating was found on him. I don’t have any job. He was the one catering to the family. All our children are still in school,” she added.

A friend of the deceased, John Eze, who claimed to have witnessed the incident, said one of the policemen shot into the river after Adama drowned.

He said, “The man was my close friend and he was a commercial tricycle rider, shuttling between Ojodu-Berger and Isheri. Some minutes after he left the park at Ojodu-Berger, I passed through the police station and saw some policemen in a van heading towards Wilma Street.

“I parked my tricycle and hid somewhere to know what was happening. I saw a policeman hold him by the waist of his trousers. He struggled with the policeman and later escaped. The policeman chased him until he fell into the river. The policeman also shot into the water.

“Some people were with me that evening, but we were afraid to go to the riverside. It was the following day I learnt that he was missing. He was not a thug. Everybody knows he was an easy-going person. He was very friendly.”

Another friend of the deceased, Taofiq Oladejo, said some youths had protested at the police station on Friday, alleging that operatives of the division drowned Adama.

He said some community elders intervened, stopped the protest and had a meeting with the police.

“The police denied that he was beaten and drowned. The elders told them that they would not be happy if they found injuries on Adama’s body. Unfortunately, there were injuries on his body.

“The youths took his corpse to the station on Saturday. The police fired tear gas canisters into them and they also threw stones,” he added.

However, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said Adama was a hoodlum who had been disturbing the peace of the community.

He said the police had swooped on him based on complaints by residents.

He said, “The person that jumped into that water was a known hoodlum, a drug addict and a traffic robber. Residents of the area have complained about him and other people. While the police were trying to arrest him, he jumped from one building into another to escape the police. He later jumped into the river and got drowned.

“The police called the community leaders and members of the community and told them what happened. Some people were not happy and they wanted to capitalise on the incident. We drafted policemen from the Area Command and men of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Corps to fortify the division. Normalcy has returned to the area.”

Source: http://punchng.com/protest-rocks-lagos-community-as-policemen-drown-tricycle-rider/

 

REPORT ON THE WORKSHOP ATTENDED ON ‘EXPLORING THE ROLES OF CSOs IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FORCE ORDER 20 ON THE PROVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES IN THE POLICE FORMATIONS’ ORGANISED BY REPLACE.

The meeting started at 9 am, with the introductions, expectations and welcome remarks taken by Mrs. Felicitas Aigbogun Brai.  Mr.Stanley Ibe gave the Opening remarks

FIRST PRESENTATION BY FELICITAS AIGBOGUN ON THE PDSS AND FORCE ORDER 20

Mrs. Aigbogun gave a summary of the Police Force Order 20 as it presents the essence of the police duty solicitor scheme as a mechanism for the provision of free legal services in police formations, and also in fulfillment of the legal and constitutional obligations concerning procedures for arrest, detention and trial of suspects by scheme which aims at contributing to the realization of the ongoing reform progamme of the Inspector General of Police.

She stated that the force aims at The Nigerian police force with a view to enhancing democratic policing in the country as well as rendering the needed legal assistance to members of the force. She went further to state that the police duty solicitor scheme aims at;

  1. Fostering community policing and strengthening service delivery by the police.
  2. Increase protection and promotion of the legal and human rights of suspects and detainees,
  3. Improve accountability and transparency in the police force
  4. Promote access to justice for the poor, vulnerable and marginalized persons
  5. Improve the quality of legal assistance and justice in Nigeria
  6. Increase Nigeria’s compliance with her international human rights obligations.

 

THE SECOND PRESENTATION WAS ON ‘MODEL FOR IMPLEMENTING FORCE ORDER 20’

The second session was headed by Mr. Idris Bawa and divided into 4 groups. The groups were asked to bring up activities that will contribute to the realization of the ongoing reform program by the Inspector-General of Police. The following are some of the activities the groups came up with;

  1. Training of rank and file officers in the police force
  2. Creating quarterly awareness programs and campaign
  3. Periodic assessment of service delivery from the police
  4. Community policing dialogue
  5. Enforcement of the FHREP rules
  6. Involvement of lawyers, paralegals and law clinicians as volunteers
  7. Collaboration with National human rights commission
  8. Improve and update database of police personnel
  9. Enforcement of strict compliance with ACJL
  10. Set up of community legal aids centers
  11. Enlightenment and sensitization
  12. Collaborations and partnerships with agencies and bodies

Mr awahed shettima spoke on operational guidelines of the Duty Solicitor Advisory Committee. He listed out guidelines to be followed by the Advisory Committee set up.

  1. Formation of a quorum by members of the committee
  2. Plan monthly meetings
  3. Give out notices to members of the committee
  4. Agendas of meeting must be shared to committee members before each meeting
  5. Appointment of rapporteur/secretary whose duty is to take down notes at a every meeting
  6. Submissions of annual report to be submitted before 30th September of every year.

 

The last session was the Ideation session taken by Maryam Aliko Mohammed.

Here ideas were shared on ways to get volunteers involved with the police duty schemes at zero cost such as reaching out to lawyers at orientation camps, organizing talk shows in schools, churches and clubs. Suggestions were made as to engaging students, employed, paralegals,interns and clinicians in the duty schemes. Emphasis was placed on the need to have a human right desk officer in every police formation to ensure that suspects and detainees access the services of police duty solicitors.

 

The meeting was brought to an end at 5:15pm with Maryam Aliko Mohammed giving the closing remark, she thanked all participants and urged every participant to go back to their organizations and come up with activities that can help in the implementation of Force Order 20.