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HURIWA to FG: Dissolve Presidential panel on public property

By News Express on 22/05/2018

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•HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
•HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko

Frontline civil rights group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called on the federal government to disband forthwith the so-called Presidential Panel on recovery of public property because of its dubious duplicity and their illegal manners of operations which are primitive, unconstitutional and unacceptable in a 21st-century constitutional democracy.

In a media briefing titled ‘Nigeria Democracy is on crutches’ delivered in Abuja by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group declared its worry over the so-called “anti-graft campaign of the administration,”  which has significantly derailed and is rather totally focused as a political witch-hunt against perceived enemies.

“Still speaking about the anti-graft campaign which has become a full-fledged war against opposition politicians, we have had cause to write to President Muhammadu Buhari to call for the disbandment of the so called Presidential panel on recovery of public property which foundation was grounded on a dead military decree but the President has yet to even reply to our letter which we sent over three months now showing that the plots of this government for allowing the existence of this illegal contraption headed by a rabidly partisan politician Chief Obono Obla goes to indicate that the current government is planning to replace constitutional democracy with authoritarian Communism.

“This is because the Presidential panel on recovery of public property has completely started the massive clampdown on Nigerians and especially members of the opposition class who are known to own property of significant worth. The modus operandi of this panel is to first of all approach their targets with a juicy proposal to join the All Progressives Congress and contribute to the running of the party and gain immunity from further harassment and for those who had stood their grounds what this panel does is to instigate series of litigation in the courts presided over by some compromised judges who had also been blackmailed because of some assets traceable to them or their cronies,” the group said.

“We have on many occasions asked this government to allow the Principle of Rule of Law and the strict applications of the Constitution to guide the officials in all their conducts but time and time again, there is glaring evidence that the war against corruption has been corrupted to become war against the opposition.

“Last time, the minister of information went to the media and began the persecution of opposition politicians he identified as looters by circulating a list which is contrary to section 36(5) of the Constitution and section 6 of the Nigerian Constitution. We asked Nigerian Bar Association to disbar the AGF and information minister for their serial disregard for the Rule of Law and for directly undermining the Constitution but it’s clear that the current leadership of Nigerian Bar Association have since gone to sleep and may be colluding with the current administration to undermine the Constitution through their conspiratorial silence,” HURIWA said.

It noted that “as a non-governmental body we have received multiple petitions against this Presidential panel on recovery of public property and especially their embarrassing and unorthodox methods of operations which are extra-legal and we have also received petitions through calls about allegations of academic impropriety made against the Chairman of this Presidential panel on recovery of public property Chief Obono Obla but importantly we are following meticulously the activities of the ad hoc committee set up by the House of Representatives to investigate the illegal activities of this panel. The refusal of the chairman to honour the summons of the House Ad-Hoc committee is shocking but not surprising.

“It has followed a pattern consistently been put up by officials in the executive arm of government. Not long ago, the Inspector General of Police disrespected the invitation of the National Assembly to appear to answer questions on national security and rule of law.

“The inspector general of police has clearly become a thorn in the flesh of the democratic governance of Nigeria to the extent that he has constituted himself into an autonomous government within the Republic.

“He (the IGP) has thrice disrespected the Senate's invitation to appear before it and take series of questions that relate to the Rule of law and the rising state of insecurity and break down of law and order.

“Some of these adversaries of the Senate have been seen arguing that the legislature lacks the power to so invite the holder of the office of the inspector general of police. This position is at variance with common sense, logical reasoning and the fuller import of the provisions of the constitution,” it said.

Continuing, HURIWA declared: “In the constitution, the National Assembly or indeed the legislative arm of government has the legislative powers of the federation as stated in section 4. Section 4 states that “the legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in the National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of the Senate and the House of Representatives.” Section 80 concedes the powers and control over public funds to the legislature.

That “section 88 (1) specifically grants the legislature the powers to make laws and the powers of lawful summons. The Nigerian constitution in section 88 (1) states thus: “subject to the provisions of this constitution, each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into (a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has the power to make laws; and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for (i) executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly, and (ii) disbursing or administering monies appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.” 88 (2).” HURIWA said that “the powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to – (a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws;

“And (b) expose corruption, inefficiency of waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it; 89 (1) For the purpose of any investigation under section 88 of this constitution and subject to the provisions thereof, the Senate or the House of Representatives or a committee appointed in accordance with section 62 of this constitution shall have power to – (a) procure all such evidence, written or oral, direct or circumstantial as it may think necessary or desirable, and examine all persons as witnesses whose evidence may be material or relevant to the subject matter; (b) require such evidence to be given on oath; (c) summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions.

“And (d) issue a warrant to compel the attendance of any person who, after having been summoned to attend, fails, refuses or neglects to do so and does not excuse such failure, refusal or neglect to the satisfaction of the House or the committee in question, and order him to pay all costs which may have been occasioned in compelling his attendance or by reason of his failure, refusal or neglect to obey the summons, and also to impose such fine as may be prescribed for any such failure, refused or neglect , and any fine so imposed shall be recoverable in the same manner as a fine imposed by a court of law.”

It noted “specifically our attention has been drawn to the findings of this House committee from the West African Examination Council to the effect that the Chairman of the Presidential Panel on recovery of public property Chief Obono Obla has lots of explanation to do regarding the genuineness of the certificate he used to obtained admission to study law whereby he left the law school after a re-sit of some papers with a PASS.”

Source News Express

Posted 22/05/2018 1:00:04 PM

 

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