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Police Ask Court To Stop Ongoing Probe Of Abuses By Judicial Panels

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The Nigeria Police has initiated a move to stop various panels probing allegations of rights abuses and other acts of impunity against police officials, particularly operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

State governments have raised the panels to investigate alleged infractions by SARS operatives, following nationwide #EndSARS protests by youths.

The panels have since been sitting in almost all the states.

But, the Police have approached a Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking among others, an order restraining the Attorneys-General of the 36 states and the panels of inquiry they constituted, from proceedings with their investigation of the activities of the police and their officials.

The suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1492/2020, filed for the NPF by its lawyer, O. M. Atoyebi (SAN) has 104 defendants.

The defendants include the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the attorneys-general of the states, and chairmen of the panels set up by the states.

It is the plaintiff’s main contention that the decision by governors to set up panels of inquiry to investigate activities of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and their officials in the conduct of their statutory duties violate Section 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Constitution and Section 21 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act.

The NPF is of the view that by the provisions of 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Constitution the Federal Government of Nigeria has exclusive power to “organize, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force.”

The plaintiff raised three questions for the court’s determination. It is also seeking four main reliefs.

One of the prayers is a declaration that having regard to the provisions of Section a14 (1)(2) (a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the Federal Government of Nigeria has the exclusive power to organize, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force.

Other reliefs being sought by the plaintiff are:

* A declaration that the establishment of a panel of inquiries by the Governors of the various states of the Federation of Nigeria, to inquire into the activities of the Nigeria Police Force in relation to the discharge of her statutory duties is a gross violation of the provisions of Section 241 (1)(2) (a) and Item 45, Part 1, First schedule, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Section 21 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, Cap.T21, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

* A declaration that having regard to the circumstances of this case, the attitude of the governors of the various states of the Federation of Nigeria, in this case, is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, and of no effect whatsoever.

* An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd to 38th defendants (the attorneys-general of the 36 states) from making or conducting any investigations, sittings, and inquiries and/or from making or conducting any further investigations, sittings, and inquiries in respect of matters affecting the Nigeria Police Force, and or further setting up any panel of inquiry in any state whatsoever in the country.

The case listed on the cause list for Wednesday, could not be heard because the court did not sit. It was rescheduled for December 18.

Also on Wednesday, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, faulted a claim that the apex bank obtained court orders to block accounts linked to promoters of the #EndSARS protests.

Emefiele’s position was stated by his lawyer Mike Aondoakaa (SAN) while appearing before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

Aondoakaa, a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, is Emefiele’s lawyer in the case, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020)of CBN v.Bolatito Rachael Oduala and 19 others in which Justice Ahmed Mohammed granted an order freezing the accounts of the defendants for 90 minutes in the first instance.

The former AGF spoke while reacting to remarks by Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), lawyer to Albert A. Ugochuwu, and others, whose accounts were also frozen in similar circumstance by another judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo in the case marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/12000/2020.

Aondoakaa, who insisted that his client acted within the provision of Section 60 (b) of the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA), that allows the CBN to apply for a freezing order pending the conclusion of the investigation.

The ex-AGF faulted Adegboruwa’s claim that the CBN was going about filing multiple cases to freeze people’s accounts, including those linked to the #EndSARS protests.

He said the CBN did not apply for the freezing of any accounts because the owners were associated with the #EndSARS protests.

Aondoakaa stated that his client only applied to have the accounts frozen following suspicious and questionable transactions in them.

He noted that none of those affected by the orders have claimed, in the processes they filed, that they are #EndSARS protesters.

Arguing earlier, Adegboruwa accused the CBN of filing multiple cases to freeze accounts of people indiscriminately. He cited the case of those associated with the #EndSARS protests.

He argued that the CBN had a misconception of Section 60(b) of the BOFIA and that it lacks the power to conduct an investigation into alleged infraction of the law.

Adegboruwa noted that the CBN came before the court on September 21, 2020, and obtained the freezing order pending the conclusion of its investigation.

“The law permitting the CBN to approach the court makes it a clearinghouse. Not to investigate. The CBN is arrogating the powers of the investigating agencies. The CBN lacks the power to investigate crimes,” he said.

Adegboruwa prayed the court to vacate the order earlier made by the court and dismiss the CBN’s suit.

Justice Taiwo adjourned the matter till December 16 for the ruling.

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Nigeria Lacks Space To Store Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine —- NIMR

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The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research says there is not enough space at the moment to store the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines which are expected to arrive next week.

The Director-General of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Saturday.

Salako revealed that Nigeria had freezers in different parts of the country to store the Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees centigrade.

He, however, said most of these freezers were occupied and were storing medical supplies which also need to be stored at a low temperature.

Responding to a question, Salako said, “Our facilities can hold Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees but we don’t have enough of such freezers, and the ones we have are even full at the moment. We even just got one that we have yet to install but how many samples can it even hold?

“Even if we rearrange things, I doubt if we can store more than a few hundred or thousands.”

When asked if other facilities besides NIMR could hold such vaccines, he said, “There are many -80 freezers around in the research institutes and universities but the point is that many of them have samples inside them. So, even if we evacuate, I don’t think we will all be able to do more than a few thousands.”

Salako said storage was the minor problem, adding that the major challenge would be how to transport the vaccines at the temperature of -70 to rural areas.

The NIMR boss argued that in the future, Nigeria may need to buy other brands that do not require such low temperatures like Pfizer.

Salako noted that other brands like Oxford/AstraZeneca could be stored at normal freezer temperature while the Russian vaccine could also be stored at a temperature not as low as Pfizer.

He said, “The problem is not just about storing vaccines but moving it to the rural areas and maintaining that same temperature. For example, if you land in Lagos and you store it at -70 and it has to be transported over the creek somewhere, how do you move them? There are other ways but they will be very costly. They can store them with liquid nitrogen or even dry ice but it will cost a lot of money.

“AstraZeneca would have been better because it would stay at normal freeze temperature and I think even Russian vaccines can be stored at the same temperature but I think the government is going with Pfizer because the World Health Organisation has given it an emergency approval.

“But I think all the vaccines are now being deployed in many countries. So, we can do all of them rather than do just one considering the storage capacity for Pfizer. Even the government knows that we don’t have enough space but we can be taken in batches.”

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Only God Can Give Victory Over Insecurity —– Femi Adesina

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The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says Nigerians who fail to commit the security situation into the hands of God could be guilty of indirectly prolonging the war against insurgency.

Adesina said this in an article on Thursday titled, ‘The Decent for the Indecent, the Just for the Unjust’.

The President’s aide noted that a short viral video showed a soldier and four others singing that victory is from God alone.

Adesina, however, said many Nigerians had failed to understand that only God gives victory.

He wrote, “But victory is from God alone. That is what we must realize as Nigerians. Do we ever pray for our troops in the frontlines? Do we remember those youths, our pride, and strength, faced by death daily, as we sleep in the comfort of our homes, ensconced in the tender bosom of our wives?

“As we pray; God give me money. Give me a car. Give me a promotion. Kill my enemies. Do it now. Do we ever remember our soldiers? Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray…did you pray for our soldiers? Victory comes from God alone. If you don’t pray, you may be guilty of prolonging the war in North-East, North-west, North-central, and all over Nigeria.”

The President’s spokesman said rather than understand the fact that only God can give victory, some Nigerians had become wailers.

“Yes, victory is from God alone. But do some people know? Does it ever enter into their consciousness? They only wail: ‘this insurgency war has lasted too long. The banditry has demystified our military. They are cowards. The top guns don’t even want the battle to end.

“They are making money in billions.’ Okay. Making money in billions and wasting our soldiers, our youths, our future, and hope, in their hundreds and thousands because of blood money. That is all some people see; permanent cynics and sceptics, who know nothing of altruism, and whose God is their belly. They think only of pecuniary gain, nothing else,” Adesina said.

He said as the nation marks this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Nigerians should seize the opportunity to pray for the military and encourage them and not run them down.

 

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JUST IN: Lagos Okays School Reopening January 18

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The Lagos State Government has affirmed its earlier pronouncement that all public and private schools in Lagos State below tertiary level should resume on Monday, January 18, 2021, for the second term 2020/2021 academic session.

This affirmation was made today by the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo while noting that this is in line with the Federal Government’s resolution after reaching a consensus with relevant stakeholders.

Details later…

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