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Getting New Constitution Almost Impossible, Says National Assembly

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The National Assembly has said it will be difficult to repeal the 1999 Constitution and enact a new law for Nigeria, noting that there are stringent conditions for achieving it.

The Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman of the Senate’s Ad Hoc Committee on Constitution Review, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, said, “It is not impossible but it is difficult.”

He also said while several socio-political and cultural groups, as well as prominent Nigerians, were clamouring for a new constitution, the parliament had yet to receive a memorandum seeking to amend Section 9 of the Constitution.

Omo-Agege made this known while featuring on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television monitored by one of our correspondents in Abuja on Thursday.

The Deputy Senate President was asked about the possibility of having a new constitution as the 1999 Constitution in operation had been criticized as a fraud imposed by the military on the country.

He said, “Frankly, this very issue has become topical of late. For some of us, we can accept and tolerate that from people who don’t know. But it becomes a little bit perplexing and annoying, in fact, when you hear people who ought to know and indeed do know that we do not have the powers to write a new constitution (call for it). The only power we have is to alter the constitution and that is what the extant legal order provides for.

“The framers of the constitution- and I was not one of them – in their wisdom decided that it would be best to have incremental alterations as opposed to a total overhaul; a total rewrite. And that is why they provided under Section 9 of the Constitution on how to go about this. What the law says is that we can alter any provision of the Constitution. It does not say we can alter all of the provisions of the constitution. And the provision sets out the methodology and the mode for doing just that.

“Don’t forget: those who asked us to do a rewrite, they forget that in Section 9, for you to do a rewrite of a new Constitution, you need to amend Section 9 of the (1999) Constitution. And for you to amend Section 9 of the Constitution, you require four-fifths – in the Senate, that is about 88 senators, of the 109; and 288 of the 360 members of the House of Reps – just for you to amend that Section 9 itself.”

Omo-Agege also stated that to amend Section 9, a bill had to be sponsored to seek the alteration.

“As I speak to you, we have received more than 350 memoranda on the amendment of the constitution, and not one – not one – is requesting an amendment of Section 9 of the Constitution. That is probably they know how difficult it is to muster 88 votes out of 109. To even muster two-thirds of the votes is almost impossible, not to talk about four-fifths of the Senate and the House of Representatives. But the bottom line is this: under the extant constitution, the only thing we are permitted to do is increment amendment or alteration, and this is not new.”

He said those who were agitating for a new constitution should meet with their lawmakers so that areas they did not like would be amended.

The Deputy Senate President, however, stated that only amendments that would maintain the unity of the country would scale through.

He also said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), would sign any bill that did not tamper with the unity of the country.

In Abuja, there was a call for a new constitution at the opening of the national public hearing of the Senate committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution.

But Omo-Agege stated, “Specifically, Section 9 of the constitution empowers the National Assembly to alter the provisions of the constitution and prescribes the manner in which it is to be done.

“Unfortunately, it does not make a similar provision or provide a mechanism for replacing or re-writing an entirely new constitution.

“To embark on any process without prior alteration of Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution to provide the mode through which an entirely new constitution could be made, would amount to a gross violation of our oath of allegiance to the constitution.”

However, a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, who represented her group, Fixed Politics Initiative, at the forum insisted that the production of a brand new constitution remained the only way to address the nation’s social, political, and economic crisis.

On the occasion, stakeholders called for full financial autonomy for local governments, state legislatures, and the judiciary.

There were also calls for the creation of a ministry of chieftaincy affairs and the assignment of roles to traditional rulers in the constitution.

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It’s Idiocy To Claim Buhari Is Dead and Replaced With Jubril From Sudan —- Femi Adesina

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The Presidency has rubbished claims by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), that President Muhammadu Buhari is Jubril of Sudan.

Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity said it is “idiocy” to claim that the president is dead and was replaced with Jubril from Sudan.

Adesina disclosed this in his latest article titled, ‘The Essential Buhari: VP Osinbajo got it!.’

He recalls how Buhari, upon return from his medical trip abroad in 2017, recognized him.

The article reads partly: “I remember that day in August 2017, when the President returned to the country finally from his medical vacation. From January of that year, he had been in and out a couple of times, but spending weeks and months outside, attending to his health. And finally, on August 19, he returned home, triumphantly.

“We were at the airport to receive him. I have told the story a number of times, to dispel the idiocy that it was a certain Jibril of Sudan that came back and not Buhari. The daughter of the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Gabriel Olonisakin, was getting married. And I had attended both the church service and reception, decked in full Yoruba traditional attire of Agbada and a cap to match. Straight from the ceremony, I went to the airport to join the welcome party for the President.

“We the principal aides were on a line to receive the President as he descended from the aircraft. And he shook hands with each person, having one wisecrack or the other to say, as is typical of him. When he got to me, he said, “Adesina, this is the best I’ve seen you dressed.” And we both laughed.

“Jibril of Sudan? How did he know I was Adesina? How would he know how I normally dressed? Idiocy, I say again. But that is just a digression, not the story I really want to tell to support the topic at hand.”

Kanu had rumoured Buhari’s death in 2017, following the president’s medical trip to London.

He had claimed that Buhari was cloned and replaced with Jubril Al-Sudan after his death.

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Take Vaccine or Present Negative COVID-19 Result, FG Tells Civil Servants

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The Federal Government has informed federal civil servants that they either get the COVID-19 vaccine or present a negative test result.

Recall that the FG had mandated all civil servants to get the vaccine or else they would not be allowed to enter offices.

The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, at a press conference, on Thursday, in Abuja, made clear that federal civil servants were not under obligation to take the vaccine, however, they must show negative COVID-19 PCR test.

He said, “The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), on Wednesday, announced interventions to, not only protect the most vulnerable people in our society but to also ensure that the workplace is safe for all citizens. Clearly, there is a loss of productivity and its impact on socio-economic development when workers are unable to come to work on a regular, and consistent basis due to outbreaks of an infectious disease such as COVID-19.

“Following advice by public health experts, the PSC announced that all Federal Government employees should make a choice as to how they can contribute towards making the work environment COVID-19-free. The logical choice is between taking the vaccine and showing the evidence or presenting proof that one is COVID-19-free by showing a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior.

“This provision is applicable to all Federal Government institutions. The decision to release the advisory was not taken lightly. It is part of the PSC and Federal Ministry of Health’s mantra to always use scientific evidence to make decisions for the benefit of all Nigerians.”

Shuaib also confirmed that there are enough vaccines to cover the population of employees of the Federal Government and more, stating that the PSC had already done a comprehensive analysis and forecast on the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Based on delivery forecasts from the COVAX facility and African Union, Nigeria will have adequate vaccines to cover more than 50 percent of eligible populations by the end of the first quarter of 2022. In order words, please do not worry about the availability of vaccines because we have the supply chain figured out already,” he added.

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N4.9bn Fraud: Judge Angry, Slams N200K Fine On Fani-Kayode For Shunning Trial For Fifth Time

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Justice Daniel Osaigor of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, ordered a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, to pay N200,000 for not making himself available for re-arraignment for alleged money laundering.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Osaigor said he had gone through the court’s file and noted five different letters by Fani-Kayode, seeking adjournment on the same medical grounds.

The court, consequently ordered that he should pay the sum or risk revocation of his bail.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had charged Fani-Kayode alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman.

Also charged was Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.

The EFCC preferred 17 counts bordering on N4.6bn money laundering against them before Justice Mohammed Aikawa.

They had all pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.

The trial had begun before Aikawa and witnesses being led in evidence before the judge was transferred out of the Lagos jurisdiction of the court.

The case was consequently assigned to Justice Osaigor and the defendants scheduled for re-arraignment on Wednesday.

When the case was called on Wednesday, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari, announced an appearance for prosecution.

Mr I. J. Ogechukwu appeared for the first defendant (Usman), Mr B. F. Ajudua appeared for the second defendant (Fani-Kayode) and Y. Olabode appeared for the third and fourth defendants.

Buhari then informed the court that on July 15, the prosecution asked the court to adjourn the matter for re-arraignment of the defendants.

She told the court that on October 11, the prosecution received a letter from the second defendant informing them that he had been given bed rest.

“Whenever he doesn’t want to attend court, this is the type of letter we get,” Buhari said.

However, Ajudua told the court that although his Fani-Kayode’s illness was recurring, he had attended court regularly.

After the judge went through the court’s file, he asked his counsel to take one of two options: revocation of Fani-Kayode’s bail or imposition of N200,000 fine to be paid before the next adjourned date.

The counsel chose the fine option.

Justice Osaigor adjourned the case till November 30.

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