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Buhari’s Anti-corruption Panel Lambasts Presidency, Judiciary

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itse sagay
  • Buhari’s Anti-corruption Panel Lambasts Presidency, Judiciary

Two prominent members of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption in Abuja on Saturday picked holes in government’s handling of the anti-corruption war.

Speaking in Abuja at a programme organised by the National Association of Seadogs (the Pyrates Confraternity), the Chairman of the panel, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), and member, Professor Femi Odekunle, attributed recent setbacks suffered by the administration in the prosecution of corruption cases to the fraudulent activities of compromised elements in the judiciary and legislature, and a lack of diligence on the part of some senior government officials.

The Chairman of the committee, Prof. Itse Sagay, said the President and his team must come up with new ideas to fight corruption.

He said the judiciary was concentrating more on technicalities rather than the spirit of the law and justice.

Sagay said, “The Federal Government, particularly the President and Vice-President, who were elected into office principally to eliminate corruption, must go back to their drawing board, search and scan the constitution and other laws to draw the requisite irresistible power to deal firmly with this terrible scourge of our times – otherwise we are all dead.”

The senior advocate said the National Judicial Council was not equipped to look into corruption cases against judges. He said the primary duty of the NJC was to address judicial misdemeanour.

The PACAC chairman said before 1999, Nigeria had many incorruptible judges like Justice Kayode Eso, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, Justice Mohammed Bello, Justice Chike Idigbe, Justice Adetunji Adefarasin, Justice Mason Begho and others

Sagay, however, said corruption pervaded the judicial system after the return to democracy in 1999, when judges started hearing election petition cases.

He noted that many senior advocates had corrupted and compromised judges to the extent that some of the advocates now pay the school fees of children of judges.

Sagay added, “Today, some judges actually solicit for money. They don’t even wait to be offered money. One of the judges that has been asked by the NJC to go back to work is a constant solicitor of money. He writes to counsel, ‘my mother died yesterday, I need money to bury her.’

“Two months later, ‘my daughter is getting married next month, I need money to organise a wedding: Another month, the same judge will write, ‘my uncle has just been made a chief and I need to make a contribution, send money.’

“This is written to lawyers and the lawyers gladly contribute. In fact, there is a long list of lawyers now who have to go to the EFCC at least once a month to explain why they had to send so much money to the account of one judge or the other who demanded money.

“Some lawyers do it out of a sense of obligation while some lawyers do it for consideration of future favours. It just shows you how (low) our judges have sunk.”

Sagay said his committee had drafted a bill for the ‘Forfeiture of Assets and Properties, procured by unlawful activity (proceeds of crimes)’ which will empower courts to order forfeiture of properties by a person without the person being convicted.

The senior advocate said he had advised anti-graft agencies to use non-conviction based assets recovery system to fight graft in some peculiar cases.

He said in such a situation, anybody who was found in possession of huge sums of money, whose source he or she could not explain, would be made to explain themselves in court.

Sagay said this approach was used by the EFCC in the case against Patience, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, whose $15m has been forfeited to the Federal Government and is now battling to save the $5m found in her bank account.

The PACAC chairman added, “If you are seen to be living beyond your means of livelihood, the anti-graft agencies could apply for temporary forfeiture of funds and properties and you would then be made to appear in court to explain yourself.

“That bill is already before the National Assembly but we are not even waiting for it to be passed. A part of the EFCC Act empowers the agency to do this and it is already being done in the case of Patience Jonathan’s $15m.

“You will recall recently that when $5m which she owns was frozen in her account but was later unfrozen due to technical issues, the EFCC went back to court to apply through this non-conviction based forfeiture and got it frozen again. Now she has to come to court to explain how she got it.”

Also speaking, Odekunle, in particular, questioned the commitment of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to the anti-graft war and also raised a doubt about the integrity of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, who discharged and acquitted Senate President Bukola Saraki of all 18 charges levelled against him, on Wednesday.

The professor of criminology also questioned the resolve of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to help the Federal Government in the fight against corruption.

The event titled, ‘Feast of Barracuda’, had ‘Critical Review of the Anti-Corruption War in Nigeria: Strategies, Challenges and Prospects’, as its theme.

While exploring the theme, Odekunle, raised eight salient questions which he said members of the public must answer in order to put the recent failures of the anti-graft war in proper perspective.

He asked, “Does the Presidency realise that routine crime prevention and methodology, instruments and processes are not adequate in fighting corruption in this country? That is, does the Presidency realise that fighting corruption must be a ‘rofo rofo’ fight? That it is not a question of due process, long process, fair hearing and all those that will give you technical justice instead of real justice?

“It is said that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. In this regard, I ask, what were the details and the resolution of the EFCC matter on Danladi Umar’s bribery case? I don’t know, I’m just asking. Does the DSS possess any information about Danladi Umar on the use or abuse of hard drugs?

“Is there any record that Danladi Umar had been driving and crashing his car under the influence? These are questions that I don’t know the answers to but I want you to investigate.

“Is the Attorney-General of the Federation, who is to lead the anti-corruption fight, going by the way things have been going in the past two years, as committed as others who could have done the job better?

“I have no answers but I believe if they are answered, it will give us an insight into the cause of our current dilemma in the fight against corruption.”

Odekunle urged the Federal Government to use unconventional methods in the fight against corruption, saying it would never win if it continued to use what he described as conventional methods.

He said since the corrupt elite controlled the judiciary and the legislature, this group of people would continue to protect its own.

Odekunle added, “So, all this arrangee between the judiciary, the legislators, and people are saying, ‘We don’t want the APC to be destroyed, Saraki is our own, let us settle our own, party supremacy is better’, we must moderate that.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Russia and North Korea Revive Military Pact, Heightening Tensions with US

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have revived a Cold War-era military pact.

The agreement, signed on Wednesday during Putin’s first visit to North Korea in 24 years, commits the two nations to provide immediate military assistance to each other if either is attacked.

This development is likely to exacerbate tensions with the United States and its allies.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty, as the pact is officially named, represents the most powerful treaty signed between the two countries, according to Kim.

“This treaty elevates our ties to an alliance,” he declared during the signing ceremony. The deal stipulates that if either nation is invaded by an armed force, the other will provide military and other assistance “with all the means at its disposal,” in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and the laws of both nations.

Putin’s visit to Pyongyang and the signing of the pact come on the heels of Kim’s trip to Russia in September, an event that has already resulted in a notable increase in arms transfers between the two countries, as confirmed by satellite imagery.

Despite the mounting evidence, both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied any such exchanges.

The renewed military alliance marks a significant escalation in the strategic partnership between Russia and North Korea, which had been relatively dormant since the end of the Cold War.

Analysts suggest that this move is a clear message of defiance to Western powers, particularly the United States, which has been involved in ongoing disputes with both nations over various geopolitical issues.

“The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty is for defensive purposes,” Kim stated, but experts warn that the alliance increases the risks for the US and its partners in responding to provocations from Moscow and Pyongyang. The treaty not only includes mutual defense commitments but also outlines plans to enhance cooperation in trade and investment, further solidifying the bilateral relationship.

Russian officials emphasized that the pact is a natural progression of the countries’ shared interests.

“This treaty is a testament to the deepening strategic and military cooperation between Russia and North Korea,” said Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister. “It is essential for maintaining regional stability and countering external threats.”

The US and its allies have expressed grave concerns over the implications of this agreement. “This treaty significantly alters the security landscape in East Asia,” stated a senior US State Department official. “It underscores the need for vigilance and reinforces the importance of our alliances in the region.”

Military analysts are closely watching the developments, noting that the alliance could embolden both nations to take more aggressive stances on the international stage.

“With this treaty, North Korea gains a powerful ally, while Russia secures a foothold in East Asia,” said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It is a strategic maneuver that complicates the geopolitical calculus for the US and its partners.”

The reactivation of the military pact also comes at a time when Russia is deeply involved in the conflict in Ukraine, where it faces significant opposition from Western nations.

North Korea’s unreserved support for Putin’s actions in Ukraine, as articulated by Kim, further aligns the two nations against common adversaries.

As the international community grapples with the potential ramifications of this treaty, it is clear that the renewed alliance between Russia and North Korea represents a formidable challenge to the current global order.

The coming months will likely see increased diplomatic activity as nations reassess their strategies in light of this development.

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Cyril Ramaphosa Begins New Term Under Coalition Government

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Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in for another term as South Africa’s president on Wednesday, the beginning of a new era under a coalition government.

The ceremony held at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheater in the Union Buildings saw Ramaphosa take the oath of office before Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The event was attended by prominent dignitaries, including Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Democratic Republic of Congo leader Felix Tshisekedi, and Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, and was marked by a 21-gun salute and an air force flyover.

Ramaphosa’s reappointment comes three weeks after elections saw his party, the African National Congress (ANC), lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid.

The ANC secured just over 40% of the vote on May 29, with millions of former supporters either backing a splinter party led by ex-leader Jacob Zuma or abstaining due to dissatisfaction over high levels of poverty, unemployment, and crime.

In his inauguration address, Ramaphosa emphasized the resilience of South African democracy and the need for unity.

“The resilience of our democracy has once more been tested, and the people have spoken loudly that they choose peace and democracy over conflict,” he said. “The voters of South Africa did not give any single political party the full mandate to govern our country alone. They have directed us to work together to address their plight and realize their aspirations.”

The ANC’s unprecedented electoral outcome necessitated a power-sharing agreement with long-time rivals. The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and four other parties have agreed to join a government of national unity, supporting Ramaphosa’s leadership in exchange for cabinet and parliamentary positions.

This coalition is expected to prioritize economic growth, investment attraction, structural reforms, and sustainable management of state finances.

The rand strengthened to a level stronger than 18 per dollar for the first time in over ten months, and Johannesburg’s benchmark equity index reached a record high on Wednesday.

Market optimism is driven by the inclusion of business-friendly parties in the government, anticipated to bolster Ramaphosa’s reform agenda aimed at addressing power shortages, logistical challenges, and other economic impediments.

Despite criticism in his previous term for his consultative approach, which opponents labeled as indecisive, Ramaphosa reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive governance.

“Those who would like a president that is dictatorial, who is adventurous, who is reckless, will not find that in me,” he stated last month. “In me they will find a president who wants to consult. All these processes have often been seen as, ‘he is weak, he is not decisive.’ I am decisive, but I want to take people along with.”

The new coalition government faces significant challenges, including negotiating policy differences and accommodating politically powerful figures within the ANC and its partners.

The DA has already expressed concerns over the ANC’s uncosted national health insurance plan and its foreign policy stance.

Susan Booysen, director of research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, noted the complexities ahead. “South Africa is really moving into this with minimal on-the-ground preparation and justification,” she said. “The devil is going to be in the exact detail. Once cabinet is announced, some basic agreement will have to be reached on policy positions and on what the red-line issues will be.”

As Ramaphosa begins his new term, the nation watches closely, hopeful that this coalition government can navigate the intricate landscape of South African politics and bring about the much-needed reforms and stability.

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Fubara Appoints and Swears in Caretaker Chairmen for All 23 Rivers State LGAs

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Siminalayi Fubara

Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State has appointed and sworn in new caretaker chairmen for all 23 local government areas.

This significant action followed swiftly after the House of Assembly, led by factional Speaker Victor Jumbo, screened and confirmed the nominees earlier in the day.

The process began on Tuesday when Governor Fubara submitted the list of nominees to the state House of Assembly.

According to a statement by the Clerk of the House, G.M. Gillis-West, the nominees were summoned for an early morning screening at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

The rapid succession of events underscores the urgency of the appointments amid ongoing political unrest in the state.

The political crisis intensified as former council chairmen, whose terms had expired, refused to vacate their offices.

This defiance prompted the need for a swift and firm resolution to ensure continuity and stability in local governance.

The swearing-in ceremony took place under tight security at the Executive Council Chambers of the Government House in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

Governor Fubara administered the oath of office to the first batch of eleven caretaker chairmen, with subsequent batches following promptly.

The newly appointed caretaker chairmen are:

  • Abua/Odua LGA: Madigai Dickson
  • Ahoada East LGA: Happy Benneth
  • Ahoada West LGA: Mr. Daddy John Green
  • Akuku Toru LGA: Otonye Briggs
  • Andoni LGA: Reginald Ekaan
  • Asari Toru LGA: Orolosoma Amachree
  • Bonny LGA: Alabota Anengi Barasua
  • Degema LGA: Anthony Soberekon
  • Eleme LGA: Brain Gokpa
  • Emouha LGA: David Omereji
  • Etche LGA: John Otamiri
  • Gokana LGA: Kenneth Kpeden
  • Ikwerre LGA: Darlington Orji
  • Khana LGA: Marvin Yobana
  • Obio/Akpor LGA: Emmanuel Dogwo
  • Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA: Vincent Anyanwu
  • Ogu/Bolo LGA: Margaret Ezenwa
  • Okrika LGA: Chizoba Onyebuchi
  • Omuma LGA: Cynthia Amadi
  • Opobo/Nkoro LGA: Solomon Dokubo
  • Oyigbo LGA: Chima Nwafor
  • Port Harcourt LGA: Isaac Udochukwu
  • Tai LGA: Ruth Michael

Governor Fubara expressed confidence in the capabilities of the newly appointed chairmen and emphasized the importance of their roles in maintaining stability and driving development at the grassroots level.

He urged them to prioritize the needs of their communities and work diligently towards improving the quality of life for all residents of Rivers State.

The appointment of the caretaker chairmen is expected to quell the political tensions that have recently plagued the state, ensuring that local governance continues smoothly and efficiently.

As Rivers State navigates this transitional period, the administration remains committed to fostering a stable and prosperous environment for its citizens.

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