Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court, Abuja to “direct and compel 36 state governors to use public funds budgeted for security votes, and life pensions for former governors to fund healthcare facilities and to address the impact of COVID-19 on millions of Nigerians, as well as publish details of spending on COVID-19 in their respective states.”
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/757/2020 filed last Friday, SERAP is seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and compel the 36 state governors to disclose how much they have individually collected from the Federal Government as COVID-19 support, from private donations and other sources, as well as details of spending of any such funds and donations.”
SERAP is also seeking: “a declaration that the failure of the 36 state governors to respond in a satisfactory way to SERAP’s requests amount to a fundamental breach of the FoI Act, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 25 April 2020, expressing concern that: “many state governors are spending scarce state resources to pay themselves security votes and their predecessors’ life pensions rather than using public funds to effectively respond to COVID-19 by investing in and improving public healthcare facilities in their states.”
The organization revealed that only two governors—Kaduna State governor, Mr Nasir El-Rufai and Kwara State governor, Mr Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq—responded to its FoI requests. While “governor El-Rufai claimed that the FoI is inapplicable in Kaduna state, governor Abdulrazaq stated that the information requested by SERAP is protected from disclosure by the FoI.”
Governor El-Rufai claimed: “The FoI is binding only on the Federal Government and its agencies, the Federal Capital Territory, and the states that choose to domesticate it. We are therefore not bound to respond to your request using the threat of an FoI Act that is inapplicable in our State.”
Governor El-Rufai also said: “Should you choose to rephrase your request as a citizen or voter in Kaduna, to whom we are accountable under OGP commitments, I will direct the relevant departments of government to respond. Our version of FoI is with the State House of Assembly for domestication.”
Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq in his own response to SERAP said: “the category of the information you requested is protected from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.”
But SERAP in the suit said: “By a combined reading of the FoI Act, the Nigerian Constitution, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is applicable throughout the country, governors El-Rufai and Abdulrazaq and other 34 governors ought to be compelled to invest in healthcare facilities, and to tell Nigerians how they are spending COVID-19 funds and donations in their states.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Kolawole Oluwadare and Atinuke Adejuyigbe read, in part: “The 36 governors have a responsibility to act in the interest of Nigerian citizens and residents in their states under the Code of Conduct for Public Officers [Fifth Schedule Part 1] of the Nigerian Constitution, and Oath of Office of Governor of a State in Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.”
“The crux of SERAP’s argument is better expressed in the following questions: What is the economic benefit of appropriation of security votes and pension to former governors and deputy governors to the citizens of Nigeria during a pandemic? Why should the governors spend so much on a relatively negligible percentage of the population at the expense of the majority of the citizens?”
“The office of a governor is created by Section 176 of the Constitution, and the governors are vested with powers to act as members of the executive pursuant to Section 5 and  of the Constitution. These statutory functions, among other duties of the governors, are guided by rules including the Oath of Office of Governor of a State.”
“The oath of office of governors is integral to the honest performance of their functions in the public interest. The oath is considered of such importance that Section 185 of the Constitution provides that the governors can perform their respective official functions only after taking the oath of office.”
“It can be inferred that appropriation of hundreds of millions of Naira for security votes and payment of pensions to former governors in the face of glaring socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on citizens and residents can only be in the personal interests of the governors and their colleagues, in clear conflict with the public interest and well-being and prosperity of the country and its people.”
“Majority of Nigerians continue to live in poverty and without access to basic necessities of life such as healthcare, and clean water, as established by the National Bureau of Statistics in its 2019 Report.”
“The unconscionable allocations to security votes and pensions for former governors are happening at a critical time that Nigeria requires urgent infrastructural development to lift itself out of the quagmire of poverty and underdevelopment in response to the harsh realities of COVID-19 pandemic on the people.”
“The 36 governors ought to be directed and compelled to use the budgets for security votes and life pensions for former governors to improve the healthcare facilities in their respective states, provide palliatives and reliefs, and to address the impact of COVID-19 on citizens and residents of their respective states.”
“The 36 governors ought to be directed and compelled to provide details of palliatives and reliefs that they have provided to the most vulnerable people, including the list of beneficiaries, details of what they are doing to improve testing for COVID-19, isolation centres, as well as ensure safe protective equipment for health workers.”
“The 36 governors ought to be directed and compelled to provide details of what they are doing to ensure full respect for human rights of everyone and access to justice for victims of human rights violations and abuses during and linked to COVID-19, as well as any support they are providing to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to improve its capacity to respond to COVID-19.”
“This suit is of public concern as it bothers on issues of national interest, public welfare, and interest, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability. The right to truth allows Nigerians to gain access to information on what their state governments have done or are doing to cushion the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on Nigerians.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Eleme Petrochemicals Co-operatives: EFCC, First Bank Nigeria PLC Disregards Court Order
The last is yet to be heard in the case between Eleme petrochemicals co-operatives investment and credit society limited and the Economic financial crimes commission(EFCC) ,as the later (EFCC) through harassment and intimidation has continued to infringe on the right of the members of the co-operative by denying them access to their funds in first Bank Nigeria Ltd , an action that goes against a subsisting court order.
Hon. Justice N.E Maha had on 15th day of January Ordered that restriction placed on the account of Eleme petrochemicals co-operatives and investment and credit society be lifted.
An order First Bank Nigeria plc has refused to honour , citing treats from the EFCC. The bank is demanding that the co-operative signs an indemnity against claims by the Efcc before obliging to honour its obligations to the cooperative a demand that is contrary to the contract between a bank and its customer and against all extant rules of banking.
While the co-operative have written to the First bank plc to explain if there is any court Order served on them by the EFCC restricting it from honoring its obligations to the cooperative the bank has not produced any such order. but could only refer to harassment from EFCC.
EFCC had sort to pervert the course of justice from the beginning having joined issues with the co-operatives in a suit to enforce the fundamental rights of the shareholders of the cooperative but surreptitiously went behind to another court of co-ordinate jurisdiction to obtain an interim order freezing the account of the co-operatives but all this actions failed as the Court after discovering the attempted sharp practice of EFCC ,granted an order lifting the interim restriction on the said account.
having failed in that regards, the Efcc have resorted to intimidating First Bank PLC to act against the court Order which allows the co-operatives to operate their account without any restriction.
The First Bank Nigeria PLC Continues to act in flagrant disregards to the court order. Meanwhile the Efcc have filed an appeal against the order lifting the restrictions placed on the cooperatives account, no order of stay of execution has not been granted.
it is indeed a long walk to justice for staff of Indoroma Eleme Petrochemicals ltd as the battle for the ownership of their shares continues. in February 26,2009 the federal government through the National Council on Privatization had approved the sale of 10% of its equity shares in Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals ltd, Port Harcourt ,Rivers State to the host community and interested staff of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals ltd.
The 10% equity shares was shared as 7.5% was allotted to the host community while the remaining 2.5% was allotted to the Staff of Indoroma Eleme Petrochemicals.
Interested Staff came together under Eleme petrochemical co-operatives in compliance to the federal government directive that a special purpose vehicle be formed where all members will belong to enable them buy the shares.
Problem began in 2013 when 10 staffs who initially subscribed to the purchase of the 2.5 equity shares had their jobs terminated from the employment of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals.
Indoroma Petrochemicals since then began a legal battle as to whether the laid off staff can continue to enjoy the dividends since they were not longer staff in the company and in so doing seeks to replace laid off staff with new recruited staff.
When the shareholding became an issue the laid of staff approached the River State Ministry of Commerce and Industry to arbitrate between it and the cooperative, the Ministry gave an Arbitral Award in favor of the laid off staff and consequently the exited staffs of the co-operative ,approached the federal high court to enforce the arbitral award and as required by law it was granted and the award became a judgment of the Federal High Court.
The newly recruited staff been instigated by their employers Indoroma Eleme Petrochemicals Company limited approached The National Industrial court stating that the arbitral award was illegally procured ,when the right thing to do was to appeal the Federal High Court judgement, the industrial court in striking the case out stated that it can not sit on an appeal over a matter that has been decided by a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction. The newly recruited staff have filed an Appeal over the decision of the Industrial court.
It is to be noted that the Efcc started to investigate the ownership of the shares of the cooperative after the cases at the Federal high court and the Industrial Court had been decided.
The cases pending in various Courts over the ownership of the shares of Indorama was triggered by the BPE which was a party sued in case at the Industrial court, when it petitioned the EFCC over the matter at the instigation of the newly recruited staff of the Indorama and Indorama itself.
The efcc has despite the judgment of the Federal High Court which confirmed the shareholding of the exited staff has continued to intimidate the exited staff and the cooperative this also despite the orders of justice Taiwo .O .Taiwo of the Federal high court in Suit FHC/ABJ/SC/1222/2020 granting an Order stopping the EFCC from arresting, inviting ,detaining and prosecuting or inquiring into the acquisition of shares of Indoroma Petrochemicals ltd.
Heritage Bank Account Used In Defrauding Farmers – AFAN President
All Farmers Association of Nigeria through its National President, Arc Kabir Ibrahim has reiterated that the body neither registers farmers for a fee nor secures loans for them, warning farmers to be wary of a faction led by Mr Faruk Rabi’u Mudi using a Heritage Bank Account to defraud farmers.
In a caveat issued by AFAN, the association stated that farmers from all wards across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja can join the umbrella body of farmers in Nigeria free of charge as enshrined in its constitution.
“AFAN registers farmers free of charge as referenced in AFAN Constitution: Membership Article 7.1-7.10.3 and it does not give loans.
“We dissociate ourselves from any advertisement to register farmers for N2,000 and caution everyone to be wary of Faruk Rabi’u Mudi and his friends as they are lawless and fraudulent.
“Anyone who transacts any business with them does so at their own peril.
AFAN had earlier written the management of Heritage Bank on the 14th of February 2021 referenced AFAN/HERITAGE/FRAUD/CAC/2021/014th February, 2021 on the illegality of the account opened with them in the name of a fake entity claiming to be AFAN.
“We write to inform you that your Branch has inadvertently opened an Account: All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Acct. No.5100311787 without due diligence.
“All Farmers Association of Nigeria Kano Chapter is a nullity as the CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) has issued a letter dated 22nd June, 2020 (copy attached) to them to change their name within six weeks or it will be cancelled.
“The registration of All Farmers Association of Nigeria Kano Chapter contradicts CAMA as it is not done with the express permission of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), the parent body.
“We implore you to close this account forthwith because it has been opened to defraud the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and all Nigerian farmers.”
The Faruk faction had advertised the paid registration platform for farmers with the promise of accessing micro-credit loans, benefitting from programmes and interventions. Intending registrants were required to indicate their names, states, and commodity they produce, while making the payment.
However, the executive led by Arc Ibrahim insists that Faruk Rabiu Mudi is not a member of AFAN but a fraud who was dismissed from AFAN after registering All Farmers Association of Nigeria Kano Chapter Rc 93484 which was cancelled by CAC.
Gunmen Kill Five Police Officers, Two Civilians In Rivers
Gunmen have killed at least five policemen and two civilians in Rivers State.
The attack which occurred on Friday night was launched at a police station in Rumuji community, Emohua LGA, and a police checkpoint, known as C4i at the entrance of Emohua from Port Harcourt.
Emohua is a Local Government Area along the East-West road, connecting Rivers and Bayelsa state.
During the attack security vehicles were also burnt.
In another attack, a police station in Elimgbu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area was attacked and three police officers were said to be beheaded.
One of the officers who was beheaded had his head taken away by the gunmen.
Although the Police are yet to confirm the attacks, a youth leader in the Local Government Area, residents of the communities confirmed the incidents to Channels Television.
This attack comes less than one month after gunmen killed three customs officers, five soldiers, and some police officers at different security formations in Ikwerre and Abua/Odual Local Government Areas.
The attacks in April prompted Governor Nyesom wike to impose a nighttime curfew at various entry and exit points of Rivers State between 8 pm and 6 am, and restriction of movement within the state from 10 pm to 6 am.
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