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SERAP, others sue Gbajabiamila, Reps over ‘plan to spend N5.04bn on 400 exotic cars’

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By Sahara weekly

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 192 concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to “restrain and stop Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives and all members of the House from spending an estimated N5.04 billion to buy 400 exotic cars for principal officers and members.”

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SERAP is also seeking a court order to “restrain and stop the National Assembly Service Commission from releasing any public funds to the House of Representatives to buy 400 Toyota Camry 2020 model cars estimated to cost $35,130 per car, until an impact assessment of the spending on access to public services and goods like education, security, health and clean water, is carried out.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/205/2020 filed last Friday, SERAP and the concerned Nigerians argue that: “Nigerians have a right to honest and faithful performance by their public officials including lawmakers, as public officials owe a fiduciary duty to the general citizenry. All those who hold the strings of political power and power over spending of Nigeria’s commonwealth have a duty to answer for their conduct when call upon to do so by Nigerians.”

The plaintiffs also argue that: “It is illegal and unconstitutional for members of the House of Representatives to choose to buy expensive and exotic cars while encouraging Nigerians to tighten their belts and to patronize Nigerian brands. It is also illegal for members to reject cheaper and equally reliable options.”

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According to the plaintiffs, “If the members of House of Representatives take their duties to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us seriously, including their duties to judiciously spend public funds, they would not have voted to spend over $35,000 per car, especially given the current economic and financial realities of Nigeria.”

“There is chronic poverty in Nigeria and many state governments are unable to pay salaries of workers and pensions. Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the House of Representatives will spend over N5 billion of public funds to buy the exotic cars at the expense of many Nigerians living in poverty and misery.”

The plaintiffs are asking the court to determine “Whether the proposed plan and resolution by the House of Representatives to buy 400 exotic cars for principal officers and members amounting to over Five Billion Naira in total, is not in breach of Section 57[4] of the Public Procurement Act 2007, the oath of office, and Paragraph 1 of Code of Conduct for Public Officers [Fifth Schedule Part 1] of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended].”

The suit, filed on behalf of SERAP and the concerned Nigerians by their lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “Members of the House of Representatives are either unaware of the constitutional and statutory provisions on their fiduciary duties and judicious use of public funds or deliberately glossing over these provisions.”

“It is also apparent that, besides elevating their personal interests over and above the public interests, members of the House of Representatives have shown insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians, thereby violating section 14 (2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, to the effect that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government and its institutions.”

“It is public knowledge that members of the House of Representatives receive huge sums of money as monthly allowances and severance pay on conclusion of their respective terms at the National Assembly. It is rational that many Nigerians are calling for a review downward of the sum proposed to buy cars for members.”

“There is no better time for any government/public institution to take issues of security and welfare/wellbeing of Nigerians seriously due to rampant kidnapping, banditry and terrorism in many parts of the country than now.”

“This case raises issues of public interests, national interest, public concern, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.”

“The House of Representatives during an executive session held on 5th February, 2020 reportedly passed a resolution that 400 Toyota Camry 2020 cars be purchased as official vehicles for 360 members and other persons, including top management staff, Chief of Staff to the two presiding officers, as well as some of their special advisers and assistants.”

“About Three Billion was voted to buy cars for members of the House of Representatives in 2016. The sum of N128 billion was budgeted and allocated to the National Assembly in the approved 2019 national budget.”

The plaintiffs are seeking the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that the plan and resolution to buy 400 Toyota Camry 2020 cars for members of the House of Representatives at the estimated cost of $35,130:00 per car is in breach of Section 57[4] of the Public Procurement Act 2007, Paragraph 1, Code of Conduct for Public Officers [Fifth Schedule Part 1] of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 and Oath of Office [Seventh Schedule] of the Constitution
A DECLARATION that the sum of $35,130 per car proposed and voted to buy 400 Toyota Camry 2020 cars for members of the House of Representatives is a breach of the Defendants’ solemn constitutional obligations to know and follow constitutional oaths and other constitutional and statutory provisions governing their conduct, including their duty of care to Nigerians to faithfully protect and defend the Constitution and improve the lives, well-being and welfare of Nigerians
AN ORDER OF THE COURT restraining and stopping the National Assembly Service Commission from releasing the money to the House of Representatives until an assessment of the impact of the spending on critical sectors like education, security, health, clean water and safe roads is carried out in the public interest in accordance with their constitutional oaths of office and constitutional provisions
AN ORDER OF THE COURT restraining and stopping all members of the House of Representatives, their assistants, agents, assign or such other person acting on their behalf from demanding or receiving the sum of $35,130 per car for purchase of 400 Toyota Camry 2020 cars until an assessment of the impact of the spending on critical sectors like education, security, health, clean water and safe roads is carried out in the public interest in accordance with constitutional provisions
AND FOR SUCH FURHTER ORDER(S) that the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this suit. No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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Sahara weekly online is published by First Sahara weekly international. contact saharaweekly@yahoo.com

Politics

Desperate opposition figures in Kogi behind calls for Yahaya Bello’s arrest despite court process – Activists

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Desperate opposition figures in Kogi behind calls for Yahaya Bello's arrest despite court process - Activists

Desperate opposition figures in Kogi behind calls for Yahaya Bello’s arrest despite court process – Activists

 

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Sahara Weekly Reports That CSOs raise alarm over alleged plots by desperate politicians to use gunmen in military uniform to attack Bello’s residences

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desperate opposition figures in Kogi behind calls for Yahaya Bello's arrest despite court process - Activists

 

 

 

 

Hundreds of activists, on Saturday, stormed the streets of Lagos to protest alleged underground moves by some desperate opposition figures in Kogi State as well as other perceived political enemies to unleash terror on the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, using the platform of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

 

The activists, who addressed a press conference and also staged a huge rally, condemned calls by a group called Zero Corruption Agenda in collaboration with another group, Kogites United Against Corruption, for the EFCC to ignore court orders guaranteing Bello’s fundamental human rights and effect an arrest despite the ongoing court process.

 

While raising the alarm that there were speculations going around that some desperate politicians were “even allegedly planning to use gunmen dressed in fake military uniforms to attack Yahaya Bello’s residences”, they called on the police and other relevant security agencies to be vigilant to prevent anarchy in the country.

 

According to them, many Nigerians already suspect that the alleged “endless attack on the former Governor, his family members and even innocent children by the EFCC in the most unprofessional way, despite revelations that showed he was actually protected by the law, have deep political undertones.

 

Comrade Segun Abegunde, who briefed the press on behalf of the CSOs, under the joint umbrella of Citizens Action Against Lawlessness, insisted that the desperation by some opposition figures and Yahaya Bello’s political enemies to hide under the purported fight against corruption to call for the arrest of a man who has a court order for his fundamental human rights to be protected and who is already in court with the EFCC, “almost confirms this insinuation of an evil plan against him by some interested politicians, using the EFCC platform.”

 

“This is not difficult to detect, having seen the composition of the so-called Kogites who made these curious calls, even in London. The videos exposed their ethnic leaning as they were speaking the language of the aggrieved politicians in Kogi State,” the activists said.

 

They alleged that opposition political parties were using the EFCC to fight political battles in Kogi State and called on the ruling Party to be vigilant.

 

“The tribunal judgement on the last governorship election in Kogi State is coming up on Monday May 27th. The desperation by the opposition to have Yahaya Bello in custody has increased exponentially as that date approaches. There seems to be a determination to either keep him out of circulation while they try to steal APC’s mandate in the state or to completely eliminate him for whatever reasons only known to them.

 

“Also, considering the way and manner the EFCC chairman has taken the Yahaya Bello matter so personal, it is glaring that a Yahaya Bello in the custody of the EFCC is not going to be safe at all,” they stated.

 

Abegunde said, “The courts are there to mediate between government and citizens and between two or more contending interests and the court’s intervention is sacrosanct until overturned by a superior Court.

 

“The rallies, both home and abroad, calling for jettisoning of the due process of law and for the EFCC to arrest Yahaya Bello, court orders or no court orders, sponsored by the opposition and his political enemies within, are not only reckless but dangerous to our polity and absolutely condemnable.

 

“Such calls have now given credence to the allegations that some powerful political forces are after Yahaya Bello, not because of corruption allegations, but that they are actually after his life. What have the military got to do with the EFCC that a group would be calling for military intervention to arrest a single citizen in a case where he is already a defendant?”

 

Emphasising the urgent need for President Bola Tinubu to call the anti-graft body to order before it is too late, the CSOs pointed out that the so-called Kogites call for the commission to use military force to arrest the former governor, even when his date to appear in court had already been fixed, was not only reckless but dangerous to the nation’s polity.

 

“There is even a speculation going around now, which may be credible, that some desperate politicians are even allegedly planning to use gunmen dressed in fake military uniforms to attack Yahaya Bello’s residences.

 

“We call on the police and other relevant security agencies to be vigilant. We also call on President Bola Tinubu to immediately call EFCC to order. The Commission seems to have offered its platform for enemies of the former governor to execute their plans against him and the President must wade in, especially with the facts on ground that EFCC has displayed flagrant disregard for the rule of law, all the way, in handling this matter.

 

“We call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, to, as a matter of urgency, call the EFCC to order with a view to staying off political interference. The Commission should concentrate strictly on its anti-corruption mandate by staying within the enabling laws that established it. The EFCC should not be identified with promoting anarchy, no matter what.

 

“The court processes should be allowed to run their course without disruption. That is when democracy and rule of law can be said to be functioning in our nation,” the activists stressed.

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Former Rivers Assembly Speaker, Colleagues Caught On Tape Lying Over Defection to APC

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Former Rivers Assembly Speaker, Colleagues Caught On Tape Lying Over Defection to APC

*Former Rivers Assembly Speaker, Colleagues Caught On Tape Lying Over Defection to APC

 

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A viral video has confirmed the defection of the former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule, his deputy, Dumle Maol and others from the People’s Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.

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Former Rivers Assembly Speaker, Colleagues Caught On Tape Lying Over Defection to APC

According to a letter signed by Maol and read by Amaewhule, their “defection was necessitated by the division in the PDP, particularly, the tussle around who the National Secretary of the party is”.

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Although, there was no information on the date the letter was written, it appears to be in December 2023 when the lawmakers publicly defected to the APC.

Amaewhule had stated that their action was in line with Section 109 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which allows serving legislators to defect if there is a division in the party upon which they hold the House of Assembly.

However, a Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the state capital, has since granted an interim injunction restraining Amaewhule and others from parading themselves as legislators.

This was after Victor Oko Jumbo, the lawmaker Representing Bonny State Constituency emerged as the new Speaker of the state assembly.

Justice Charles N. Wali gave this order in a case in suit number PHC/1512/CS/2024, filled by Jumbo, Sokari Goodboy, Orubienimigha Timoth and other members of the Assembly.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, Amaewhule and the other ex-lawmakers have filed an application at the Rivers State High Court denying their defection from the PDP.

This was as a legal practitioner, Dr Malachi Onyema, said that Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution guarantees freedom of association, which includes the right to join or leave a political party.

Onyema further claimed that Amaewhule and his colleagues were still PDP members as they have had an afterthought of their actions.

But the Centre for Accountability and Good Governance said Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution clearly states that a lawmaker who defects from the party that sponsored their election to another party can be deemed to have vacated their seat.

In a statement signed by its Director, Dr Francis Nwogu, the Centre said the defected ex-lawmakers must face consequences for their actions.

“Defecting from the political party that sponsored their elections is a betrayal of the trust placed in them by their constituents. It undermines the democratic process and destabilizes the political landscape,” Nwogu added.

“We urge the relevant authorities to take swift and decisive action to punish these lawmakers for their anti-democratic behavior. This includes declaring their seats vacant and initiating legal proceedings against them.

“The Centre believes that holding elected officials accountable for their actions is essential for maintaining the integrity of our democracy. We will continue to monitor this situation and advocate for the rule of law and democratic principles.”

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Sanwo-Olu, Cabinet Members Visit Obasa Over Father’s Demise

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Sanwo-Olu, Cabinet Members Visit Obasa Over Father's Demise

Sanwo-Olu, Cabinet Members Visit Obasa Over Father’s Demise

 

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– Governor presents condolence letter to Speaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Obasa says Lagos Assembly is governor’s support base

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sahara Weekly Reports That Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Friday led members of his cabinet to the Agege home of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, on a condolence visit over the demise of Alhaji Suleimon Atanda Obasa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alhaji Suleimon Obasa, father of the Speaker, passed away on Tuesday at 83 with Governor Sanwo-Olu describing the incident as shocking especially as he was hale and hearty a few days before his demise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“On behalf of the government and the people of Lagos State, I want to extend my sincere condolences to you and the entire Obasa family.

 

 

 

 

 

Sanwo-Olu, Cabinet Members Visit Obasa Over Father's Demise

 

 

 

 

 

“No matter how old one’s parents are, one can never want them to go. So one can imagine the shock that the incident came with, but we have the belief that it was the appointed time.

 

“This is something that all of us owe life. We only pray that we live long and leave good legacies.

 

“It is clear that having produced you, your dad actually left a good legacy. So the onus is now on you to carry on with his good works as a community leader and one that brought together the entire family,” the governor said.

 

Sanwo-Olu also commended the Speaker for his effective leadership of the Assembly and his service to Lagos. He prayed that the Speaker will continue to have the capacity to lead the legislative arm as he had always done.

 

In his response, Dr. Obasa described the House as the Governor’s support base adding that the legislative arm is poised to ensure the success of the current administration.

 

Obasa said the visit by the Governor and his cabinet is a confirmation of the love, cooperation, unity and friendship that radiate in government.

 

“The truth is that I hold you in high esteem always. And because we have the same father in Asiwaju Tinubu, we have always worked for the same goal which is service to the people of Lagos.

 

“I always say there is no amount of money one can acquire that would sustain one better than what one has done in one’s community,” the Speaker said noting that Agege has experienced massive progress because of the Governor’s collaboration and intervention.

 

“Like I continue to say, we should continue to be particular about the people, not ourselves because there will come a time when we will leave office and people will make reference to what we have done.

 

“Mr. Governor, you’re my brother anytime and day. Whatever we achieve in the House of Assembly is because you support us. We are there to work for your success and that is why as part of our religion, we must pray for you, the deputy governor and every other person before ourselves. That’s the only way one can grow,” Obasa added.

 

Eromosele Ebhomele

Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly

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