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Falana Seeks Death Penalty For Corrupt Politicians

Peter Okunoren

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Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has asked the National Assembly to make laws that will pronounce the death penalty for corruption perpetrated by politically exposed persons.

Mr. Falana while reacting in a statement to the hate speech bill currently debated by lawmakers described it as an encroachment on the legislative autonomy of the state governments.

A bill to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech, sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Sabi, was introduced on the floor of the Senate on November 12 and has generated reactions across the country.

The bill proposes that any person, who commits an offense deemed as hate speech, shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), explained that the National Assembly has no power to exercise such power because Hate Speech is not covered in the Exclusive Legislative and Concurrent Legislative Lists.

“Since we are operating a federal system of government the supreme court of Nigeria had declared in a number of cases that the national assembly lacks the constitutional powers to make laws outside its legislative competence, which are by implication residual matters meant for the houses of assembly of the states. Certainly, the hate speech bill is an attempt to encroach on the legislative autonomy of the state governments.

“However, it is pertinent to point out that the Penal Code and Criminal Code applicable in the northern and southern states respectively, have made provisions for hate speech because it is a state offence.

“Hence, the house of assembly of each of the state has enacted laws against incitement, false accusation, sedition and criminal defamation.”

Mr Falana decried the move, urging the sponsors of the bill to uphold the decision of Nigeria’s founding fathers who created a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech.

“The decision of the founding fathers of this present constitution which guarantees freedom of speech which must include freedom to criticize should be praised and any attempt to derogate from it except as provided in the Constitution must be resisted. Those in public office should not be intolerant of criticism. Where a writer exceeds the bounds there should be a resort to the law of libel where the plaintiff must of necessity put his character and reputation in issue.

“Finally, while the leaders of the national assembly may want to advise the legislature in each of the states of the federation to review the applicable penal statutes to review the provisions on hate speech we are compelled to urge the few bloodthirsty legislators in the national assembly to amend the anti-graft laws to provide death penalty for grand corruption perpetrated by politically exposed persons to the detriment of development in the country.”

He added that even though the bill is sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives, it has been adopted by the Buhari-led Federal Government.

He maintained that the constitutional validity of the Bill will be challenged in the Federal High Court if it is passed by the national assembly and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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BREAKING: 28 Family Members Die In Bauchi Auto Crash

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No fewer than 28 persons said to be members of the same family were reportedly burnt beyond recognition in a fatal auto crash that occurred on the Bauchi-Ningi federal highway in Bauchi State.

The crash, we gathered, occurred in the early hours of Thursday.

Speaking to our correspondent in a telephone interview, a relation of the victims, Abdullahi Yamadi, confirmed the incident and described it as “very sad.”

Yamadi, who is the Secretary, North-West Zone of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, said the deceased were all his relatives.

He said they were on their way to Yola, Adamawa State when the incident occurred.

He told The PUNCH: “Yes, the accident is true and all of the deceased are my relatives.

“They were traveling to Yola, Adamawa State, for a visit when the unfortunate incident happened.

“You know, after the harvest and at seasons like this, people travel to visit loved ones resident in different places; and that was where they were going to.

“They left Dutsinma, Katsina State, and they had left Jigawa State and were within Bauchi State when their vehicle had a head-on collision with another vehicle.

“They were 29 in the vehicle and all of them died except the driver, who survived.

“This is very sad news and very pathetic for 28 people from the same family to die in an accident in one day.

“It is really sad.”

The Bauchi Police Command has yet to make an official pronouncement on the incident.

Details later…

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Human Rights Abuses: Stop Interfering In Our Affairs; Mind Your Business, Presidency Tells U.S. UK, EU

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A Nigerian presidential spokesperson on Wednesday warned the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union to stop interfering in Nigeria’s affairs, especially on the issue of human rights abuses.

This warning was issued by Femi Adesina, spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday while reacting to reports from the EU, UK and the U.S. that Nigeria has a high record of human rights abuses.

He reacted during an interview on Channels TV “Politics Today” programme.

Mr Adesina explained that Nigeria is a sovereign nation and “will not be bothered about the reports from the foreign countries.”

Invasion

Speaking on the invasion of court by operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) to re-arrest the Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, last Friday, he said: “We are not answerable to the U.S., the UK or the EU.”

“We are Nigeria, a sovereign country. Those countries and entities have issues of their own. Let them deal with their issues. Let Nigeria also deal with her internal issues. We are not answerable to them.”

Mr Adesina, a two-term president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, however, said he would respect the opinion of Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka “than that of any foreign nation or commentators”.

“We respect Professor Soyinka. You don’t have too many of them in the country or even on the continent. He is an avatar, and he is well respected, but his opinion will remain his opinion. It will be considered and if there are things to act on, we will act on them,” he disclosed.

Some lawmakers from the UK and the U.S. have called for the release of Mr Sowore but the federal government has rebuffed this.

Apart from Mr Sowore, the Nigerian government is also illegally detaining many others including a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and the Shiite leader, Ibrahim El Zakzaky.

The presidency also described the opinions of those calling for the release of those ‘illegally’ detained as “that of a few Nigerians”.

“Genuine issues will be looked into. We have had instances in which the government had to reverse itself because there were concerns raised,” Mr Adesina said. “It shows that the government is responsive but you cannot listen to a babble of voices. It will distract you from what you are doing.”

Responding to allegations that he stopped being a journalist after taking up the job to be Mr Buhari’s media adviser, Mr Adesina said: “I am still in the media. It is just that the roles are a bit reversed. When I am done with the government by the grace of God, I will still return to the media,” he said.

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Passenger Slumps, Dies At Lagos Airport

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A passenger, identified as Chukwuma Anthony Ezeh, on Wednesday slumped and died at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

An official source at the MMIA arrival terminal told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the passenger slumped on arrival from China and died while waiting to collect his luggage

Ezeh, according to information on his passport, was 47 years old at the time of the incident.

The spokesperson of the Police MMIA Command, DSP Joseph Alabi, who confirmed the incident to NAN at about 9.25 p.m. on Wednesday, said the passenger came on board Ethiopian Airlines.

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According to him, the incident happened at about 3:15 p.m. and the deceased was confirmed dead at the MMIA Clinic.

“While walking at the arrival hall the man slumped and died,” he said.

Alabi added that Ezeh’s corpse had been deposited at the Air Force Base Hospital mortuary.

(NAN)

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