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Kanu’s Counsel Says Detention Violates International Law, to Petition UN

Counsel to Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indeginous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mr Bruce Fien, said yesterday that the continued detention of the IPOB leader remained illegal, because it violated international law.

Fien, however, said he had gathered additional information from yesterday’s proceedings to be added to his petition already before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Speaking with Arise News, Kanu’s expatriate counsel, who said the 11th hour change of the charges preferred against him, without allowing him to respond, was unconstitutional, also took a swipe at the decision to bar journalists from the proceedings, saying it was a violation of their constitutional rights.

Condemning Kanu’s abduction from Kenya without trial, he said, “There are irregularities here. I am coming from the United States, there’s no way that government could change the charge at the 11th hour without having an opportunity to respond to the new allegations.

“Before I arrived in Abuja, I traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, where there is a working group on arbitrary detention as part of the UN Human Rights Council, and based upon what transpired today, I have additional information that I will present to them, seeking an adjudication that the detention of Nnamdi Kanu is illegal under international law.”

He further stated that, “The Nigerian Constitution also has free speech provisions in section 39. I think what happened today is a violation of section 39.”
On the decision to bar journalists from covering the proceedings, he said it was a breach of their constitutional rights.

“The media has a right to observe. Moreover, under international law and in the United States, there is a constitutional right for journalists to attend, because it creates a kind of pressure putting a searchlight against corruption or intimidation and things of that sort, not only just the press out there every ordinary citizen has the right as long as there’s room to sit in a courtroom,” he said.
Reiterating his condemnation of Kanu’s abduction from Kenya by security agents without trial, he said the situation was against international law.

“That makes the detention illegal, in part, aside from other violations, but surely under any kind of due process, it’s totally illegal to kidnap someone take them without any hearing.

“They said that they had acted in collusion with the Interpol, what they haven’t said is that there was any hearing that enabled Nnamdi Kanu to dispute and you have to bring it before a judge before you are kidnapped not afterwards. The law is very clear on that score.
“He was not given any hearing before they took him there, indeed four of the seven counts that are now lodged against him. They weren’t even launched until after he had departed Kenya and was in Nigeria,” he said.

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Lawyers demand Kanu’s presence as trial resumes today

The legal team of the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, on Wednesday warned that the Federal Government must bring him before Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday (today).

The leader of the team, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, made the team’s position known during a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.

“That tomorrow (today), being October 21, 2021, should be sacrosanct. Our client, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, must and shall be produced in court to face his trial,” Ejiofor said.

According to him, despite the issuance of a fiat by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, for Kanu’s trial to be held during the court’s annual vacation, the office of the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation deliberately stayed away from court.

Ejiofor said the regular Monday sit-at-home order in the South East was being observed “because people are yet to see and believe that Nnamdi Kanu is still alive.”

He recalled the alleged arrest and detention of over 20 indigenes of Ebonyi State who had travelled to Abuja to witness Kanu’s trial on July 26.

Ejiofor appealed to security operatives to allow lawyers and journalists to attend the IPOB leader’s trial on Thursday.

“The show of shame openly demonstrated by the overzealous security agents on July 26, 2021, should never repeat itself,” he said.

Ejiofor also told IPOB supporters to remain civil and be of good conduct, adding that “not everyone would be able to access the court room.”

He also described Kanu’s arrest in Kenya on June 19, 2021, and appearance in Nigeria on June 29, 2021 as persecution.

Last week, the Federal Government slammed an amended seven-count charge against Kanu, while the FHC issued a hearing notice for Thursday.

The notice titled “Federal Republic of Nigeria Versus Nnamdi Kanu” with suit number: FHC/ABJ/CR/383/15, was served on Ejiofor and the prosecuting lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran.

Kanu is being tried on charges of treasonable felony.

The IPOB leader, who was granted bail in April 2017, fled the country after the invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the military in September, a situation one of his lawyers, Alloy Ejimakor, described as the “rule of self-preservation.”

Nyako, subsequently revoked his bail for ditching his trial and also ordered his trial to be separated from the rest of the co-defendants.

While the trial of the rest of the defendants has made some progress, Kanu’s case has been stalled since 2017.

On June 29, 2021, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, announced that Kanu had been rearrested and extradited to Nigeria to continue facing his trial.

He said the IPOB leader was “intercepted” days earlier but did not disclose which country and how the operation was carried out.

Although there has been no official disclosure about where and how Kanu was arrested, relatives and lawyers of the IPOB leader, have described how he was taken into custody in Kenya under controversial circumstances.

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Lawyer Seeks End to Ban of Ogogoro

A Niger Delta Lawyer, inventor and cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Azibaola Robert, has called on lawmakers in Bayelsa and other state National Assemblies to advocate for a lift on the ban on locally brewed gin popularly called ‘ogogoro.’

He equally called on both the federal and state governments to expunge the obnoxious law banning the local gin disclosing that if properly harnessed, the product could be a source of revenue income for both the locals and the governments.

Speaking to journalists after what he said was his 14-day expedition into the deep forest, he said he was pained that local gin was still regarded as illicit gin and therefore outlawed in all states of the federation.

While expressing concern over the ban placed many years ago by the colonial masters, Robert stated that alcoholic drinks brewed abroad were not different from the locally brewed ones, maintaining that the erroneous belief has hindered the growth of that industry in the country.

Robert said he was sad when he found out that a man that had been brewing the product for 30 years but have tangible gain, only getting daily from the sales, said: “Kaikai (local gin) is a basic occupation of our people. How for God’s sake can Kaikai be labelled as illicit drink for 60 years.

“People whose livelihood is to brew the local gin are arrested while those who deal on alcoholic gins brewed abroad are treated as doing normal business.

“People spend N50,000 to N60,000 for these foreign gins and do not do same for the local alcohol, there is no difference between the two, they are all mixtures of water, coloring, flavor and alcohol.

“Those foreign drinks are local drinks of people elsewhere just like our own ‘Kaikai’ is brewed here, the only thing is that we have failed to identify the potentials of our own and act accordingly.”

Speaking on his 14-day expedition into the deep forest, Robert said the adventure was a great experience in the sense that it was historic and hope that it continue next year until the world notice that there is potentials in the Niger Delta rain forest.

“Seriously, I didn’t know we will be able to achieve it but we achieved it and we have been able to get serious documentation for TV and other agencies.

“We are going to publish a major documentary out of it and put it on national and international television and push it through national geographic and I intend to do it annually so we have created the interests that we have been talking about,” he added.

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Senate Moves to Increase Nigerian Law School Campuses from 6 to 12

A Bill seeking to increase the number of the Nigerian Law School campuses in the country from six to 12 has scaled second reading at the Senate.

The Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to amend the Legal Education (Consolidation etc.) Act by establishing the campuses for the Nigerian Law School, and for other related matters” was sponsored by Senator Smart Adeyemi.

Leading the debate on the bill, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Adeyemi said it had become necessary to establish six additional Law School campuses to cater for yearly increases of law graduates seeking admission into the six available law school campuses in the country.

He said based on the admission quota of Law Students allocated to Universities annually, 5640 students are admitted yearly into their Law Faculties.

According to him: “The implication of this data is that, about 5500 Law Graduates are produced from the 55 Universities yearly. It should be noted that while the records of the Nigerian Law School indicates that it has the capacity to admit 6510 Students yearly, which ordinarily would have been adequate to accommodate all prospective Law Graduates from the Universities, unfortunately the less than or about 70 per cent yearly performance of the Law School, has over several years accumulated about 30 per cent failure yearly.

“This record implies that about 2000 of the 6510 admitted yearly have to repeat the School for another year, with no automatic guarantee of making it on the second attempt.
“A five year analysis of this spillover of about 2000 students amounts to 10,000, while it builds up to 20,000 over a period of 10 years. The consequences of the situation narrated above carries negative financial, psychological, emotional, social and productivity implications on the Law graduates from Universities, their parents, the economy and government of Nigeria.

“In the last five years or more, Law graduates are made to wait for between two to four years, awaiting admission into the Nigerian Law School, due to lack of vacancy to admit them into the few campuses available.

“Much as the standard of the Nigerian Law School has been one of the best across the globe, any attempt to stretch its admission capacity beyond its facilities and human resources will be counter productive as it will negatively affect the welfare and performance of the students.

“Also, to allow the present situation persist for the next few more years will spell doom for this nation in several ways.
“In view of the imminent disaster in our legal industry, this amendment to the Nigerian Council of Legal Education Act is to encourage the Federal Government of Nigeria to increase the number of campuses of the Nigerian Law School to 12, at the minimum, by establishing additional one each in the six Geopolitical Zones of Nigeria.”

The existing law school campuses are located in Lagos (South West), Abuja (North Central, Yola – Adamawa – (North East), Kano (North West), Enugu (South East) and Yenegoa – Bayelsa State – (South South).

The ranking Senator named the six additional campuses being proposed to include Kabba Law School Campus, Kogi (North Central); Maiduguri Law School Campus, Borno (North East); Argungu Law School Campus, Kebbi (North West); Okija Law School Campus, Anambra (South East); Orogun Law School Campus, Delta (South South) and Ilawe Law School Campus, Ekiti (South West).

Senators in their contribution, supported the Bill and approved that it be read for a second time when it was put to voice vote by Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan.
Lawan later referred the Bill to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters headed by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele for further legislative work and is to report back to Senate plenary in four weeks.

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President of the Court of Appeal Pleads with FG to Review Judges’ Salaries

The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, on Monday pleaded with the federal government for an immediate upward review of the salaries of judicial officers in the country.

The plea appeared to be predicated on the need for the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, had in recent past decried the current situation, where he said the judiciary always went cap-in-hand to the executive.

But Dongban-Mensem, who lamented the poor situation surrounding the welfare of judicial officers, revealed that their salaries had been stagnated for over 10 years now.

Speaking at the opening of the 2021/22 legal year, the appellate court president, disclosed that the CJN, as Head of the Judiciary in Nigeria, earned N279, 497 as monthly salary, while his brother justices on the Supreme Court bench earned N206,425.

Dongban-Mensem said as President of Court of Appeal, she received the sum of N206,425, while other justices on the bench of the Court of Appeal, earned N166,285 every month.

She, therefore, noted with that the salary structure for judicial officers and staff in Nigeria had consistently ranked poorly, when compared to that of their counterpart in other African and Commonwealth countries.

Specifically, Justice Dongban-Mensem recalled that the last time salaries of judicial officers were reviewed in Nigeria was in 2008, when the upward review was made to take effect on February 1, 2007.

She, however, called on the federal and state governments to live up to their obligations under the implementation of Financial autonomy of state legislature and the state judiciary order, 2020, known as Executive Order 10.

“I implore the government of the federation and states to urgently review the salaries and allowances of judicial officers and staff. The salaries of justices are static with no graduation as in the civil and public service. We have been on one salary grade for over 10 years now.

“May I also call on government to increase financial allocations that will enable us to introduce technical innovations that would improve adjudication,” she said.

On the performance of the Appeal Court under review, the president disclosed that a total of 5,392 appeals and 9,249 motions were filed in the 2020 divisions of the Court last legal year, between September 2020 and August 2021.

Out of the cases, Justice Dongban-Mensem revealed that 3,111 appeals were disposed along with 7,492 motions, adding that out of the appeals 2,169 appeals were dismissed while 942 appeals were upheld as at August 31, 2021.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, urged judges in county to maintain the sanctity and credibility of the Court and not make Justice a commodity for sale to the highest bidder.

Malami charged them to ensure that the sacred integrity reposed on the judges remained unshaken at all times in order to foster and promote public confidence in all rulings that emanated from this Court.

“Your resolve, as a temple of justice in ensuring that justice is not trivialised to a common bargain and is in effect accessible to all is highly commendable.

“I, hereby, also extend a call of solidarity, reverence and respect for the Courts and Court processes, to all our Learned Distinguished Colleagues here present to ensure that justice is not trivialised to a commodity bargained for and taken by the highest bidder, at the detriment of the indigent, who for want of equal bargaining power, wallow in the shadows of judicial neglect,” he added.

He said uniformity, consistency and universality of judgement and rulings in the face of judicial precedent is an exceptional value of judicial system that must at all times strive to be upheld as a way of upholding the sanctity of the judiciary in re-enacting the confidence of the common man in the nation’s judicial system.

The AGF, however, assured the people that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, would review the welfare of judicial officers generally to ensure greater efficiency.

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More Trouble as States Drag FG to S’Court over Stamp Duties Collection

It now appears that more states of the federation have woken up from slumber and are now determined to achieve fiscal federalism, following the institution of a legal action against the federal government over its continued collection of stamp duties in the country.

The state governments in the suit filed last month at the apex court is claiming specifically that the right to collect stamp duties on financial transactions between persons or individuals in a state is the exclusive reserves of the states, hence the apex court should intervene and restrained the federal government from further collection of the monies.

Also, a few months ago, the state governments had dragged the same federal government to court over its failure to remit to the federation accounts, trillions of naira received from recovered assets.
In the same stretch, the Rivers State government, last week, secured a court victory over the federal government in the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the state.

Justice Stephen Pam of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had in a judgment delivered on august 9, held that the Rivers State Government and not the federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), had the right to collect VAT, Personal Income Tax in the state.
Justice Pam, in the judgment, subsequently restrained the Attorney General of the Federation and FIRS (1st and 2nd defendants) from collecting VAT in Rivers and directed the state government to take charge of the duty.
As a result, the Lagos State government, has also commenced move to stop the collection of VAT by the FIRS in the state and it is believed that in the nearest future, more states would follow suit.

In the current legal action dated August 19, 2021 and filed 24th, the 36 state governments in an 18-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Chijioke Chuku, Director Legal Services of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), claimed that FG’s collection of stamp duties and retention of same in financial transactions between individuals was contrary to the provisions of the law.

Plaintiffs in the suit marked SC/CV/690/2021, claimed that between 2015 to 2020, the federal government had collected and retained a total sum of N 176,067,400,000,00 from stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions within their respective states.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami, was the sole defendant in the suit filed by Mr Yusuf Alli, SAN ,on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Alli stated that his client resorted to the court action after efforts to resolve the issue with the defendant failed to yield desired result. The plaintiffs attached a copy of their letter dated September 16, 2020 to the federal government asking it to stop both the FIRS and NIPOST from collection of the said monies accruing to them as exhibit A.

According to the senior lawyer, some of the issues brought before the apex court for determination were that whether “having regard to the mandatory provisions of Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act Cap. S8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), the plaintiffs (all the state attorneys) are not the sole authority to administer and collect stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals/persons within their respective states?”

Alli also wanted the court to determine, “whether having regard to the provisions of Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act Cap. S8 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria read in conjunction with the provisions of Section 163, items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule part I and items 7 (a) and (b) of the second Schedule part II and other provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the defendant (Malami) could claim, retain, distribute or in any other manner deal with the monies or sums collected as stamp duties on individual persons transactions within the respective states of the plaintiffs without reference to, concurrence of, input or agreement of the plaintiffs?”

Furthermore, the plaintiffs wanted to know whether or not they were “entitled to 85% of all stamp duties collected on electronic money transfer levy, on electronic receipts or electronic transfer for money deposited in deposit money banks and financial institutions, on any type of account to be accounted for and expressed to be received by the person to whom the transfer or deposit is made in the plaintiffs’ respective states”.

In the event, the questions raised by the plaintiffs were determined in their favour, even as they urged the Supreme Court to declare that they “are the sole authorities entitled to administer and collect stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals within their respective states.
“A declaration that the defendant is not entitled to collect, administer, or keep the proceeds of any stamp duties on transactions involving individuals within the respective states of the plaintiffs or any manner interfere with the Plaintiff’s right and authority in the administering the provision of Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act Cap. S8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria,” they prayed.

“A declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to all the sums of money collected by the defendant as stamp duties through whatever source or means in their respective states from 2015-2020 and thereafter till the time of the judgment of this court with respect to individual persons’ transactions.
“A declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to 85% of all stamp duties collected on electronic money transfer levy, on electronic receipts or electronic transfer for money deposited in deposit money banks and financial institutions, on any type of account to be accounted for and expressed to be received by the person to whom the transfer or deposit is made in the plaintiffs’ respective states.”

Consequently, they wanted the court to make an order directing the AGF to account for and pay back all monies collected by way of stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions within the respective states of the Plaintiffs from the period 2015-2020 and thereafter till the time of the judgment.
Specifically, they wanted the court to order the defendant “to pay over to the Plaintiffs all the sum of monies amounting to One Hundred and Seventy Six Billion, Sixty Seven Million, Four Hundred Thousand Naira (N 176,067,400,000,00) representing ascertained and admitted collected stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions within their respective states for the period of 2015- 2020 and thereafter till the time of the judgment of this court or any other sum as the plaintiffs may be found entitled by the court.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant by himself, privies, agents or any persons by whatever name or how so ever called from appointing anyone for the purpose of collecting Stamp Duties on individual persons’ transactions within the respective states of the plaintiffs henceforth.”
The defendant, however, has 21 days to respond to the suit starting from the date it was served.

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Supreme Court disowns List of Successful Candidates for SAN Awards

The Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC), has denied the list of candidates for the award of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (CJN) currently published by an online newspaper, loyalnigerialawyer.com.

The committee in a statement by the Director, Information, Supreme Court, Dr Festus Akande, described the publication as false, fake and calculated to cause confusion in the public space.

He urged members of the public to discountenance the report, adding that any information, regarding the award of the rank of SAN could only emanate from the office of the LPPC Secretary/Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

“Our attention has been drawn to a story by an online medium that goes by the name, “loyalnigerianlawyer.com” with the above caption, which is currently in circulation with a purported list of “successful candidates” that emerged after the second filtration exercise by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC).

“We wish to state clearly that the above information is fake, unofficial and untrue. It’s a mere figment of the imagination of the authors, who may ostensibly be on a mission to impugn and malign the reputation and integrity of the LPPC with a view to causing confusion and skepticism in the public space.

“The information should be discountenanced by whosoever might have come across it. For the umpteenth time, we wish to let the public know that any information, especially, issues regarding the above topic can only emanate from the office of the LPPC Secretary/Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Anything outside this official source should be disregarded,” the statement read.

He noted that as has been the practice, all information concerning the LPPC, especially,those bordering on the announcement of successful applicants for the award of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, were published in reputable national dailies and this year’s own would not be an exception.

Akande, however, stated that the perpetrators of such illegal act would be apprehended and given appropriate sanctions to serve as deterrence to others that might be waiting in the queue to do same in the future.

“The LPPC Secretariat wishes to appeal to bloggers of various lawyers’ platforms to henceforth refrain from posting or publishing or aiding in the circulation of unauthorised materials or fake documents said to originate from Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee. The Committee may be forced to refer the conduct of such bloggers, who are legal practitioners to the appropriate disciplinary committee of Body of Benchers. A word is enough for the wise.

“On this note, we wish to inform and assure our esteemed legal community and the general public that the authentic official list of the successful applicants that emerged from the second filtration exercise by the LPPC will be made public through advertorials in the national dailies in due course”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court, Abuja, has insisted that it had a judge on ground to sign the release of Sunday Igboho’s associates granted bail recently by the court.

Chief Registrar of the court, Emmanuel Gakko, in a statement clarified that it was not that trial judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu, who admitted the 12 defendants to bail early in August,had disappeared as reported by some media publications.

The 12 defendants were arrested in the July 1, early morning raid on the residence of the leader of the Yoruba Nation agitators in Ibadan, Oyo State, Sunday Igboho, and were detained at the facility of the Department of State Service (DSS).

However, following the granting of an application for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights, Justice Egwuatu admitted eight of the defendants to bail in the sum of N5 million each with two sureties in like sum, while the remaining four were admitted to bail in the sum of N10 million each with two sureties in like sum.

But lawyer to the defendants, Pelumi Olajengbesi, claimed that after the perfection of their bail last week, they had gone to the court to endorse the bail but were told the judge had traveled out of the country.

Gakko, while reacting to the development, stated that contrary to the claim by the newspapers, Justice Egwuatu, did not disappear but went on a national assignment outside the country.

He, however, stated that although the court was an vacation, there were judges on ground, adding that Justice Ahmed Mohammed, the other vacation judge with Egwuatu, was available. He said the lawyer to the defendants would have met with the registrar of the court, who would have told him what to do.

He stressed that there was no reason a judge after granting bail to a defendant would now disappear and not be available to endorse it and therefore charged journalists to always approach the court and cross check their facts before publication.

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NARD strike: Ngige drags doctors to industrial court

Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige has formally reported the trade dispute between the federal government and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria for adjudication.

The transmission was done on Thursday and a copy was sent to NARD and the Federal Ministry of Health.

Recall that the minister had given the NARD leadership until the end of work, Wednesday, August 11, to summon a virtual meeting of its National Executive Committee and brief its members on the efforts of the government with a view to calling off its strike.

The instrument signed and issued by Ngige on August 11 read in parts:

‘Whereas trade dispute has arisen and now exists between the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the Federal Ministry of Health/Federal Government and whereas efforts to promote settlement through conciliation were on-going but had now failed.

‘And considering the facts that members of NARD who are classified as Essential Services workers/employees had embarked on strike on Monday, August 2, 2021, over the issues under conciliation, contrary to the provisions of Section 18 of the Trade Disputes Act CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, after attending a Conciliation and Agreement Review meeting on July 22, 2021, and further considering that the Federal Ministry of Health claim to have and produced evidence to having met most of their demands based on the various Memorandum of Action reached during past conciliations especially that of July 22, 2021.

‘Now, therefore, I, Senator Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige OON, MD the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment in exercise of the powers conferred on me by Section 17 of the Trades Disputes Act, CAP T8 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, hereby refer the matter for consideration, and the issues in dispute to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria for adjudication.’

Earlier, the minister had met with the Medical Elders Forum where he had painstakingly explained every item on the resident doctors’ demands, upon which they embarked on strike.

The forum is made up of practising and retired senior medical practitioners, doctors who have served or are serving in top-level political offices.

Some of those in attendance included the Chairman of Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Chairman House Committee on Health, Hon. Tanko Sununu, all past presidents of NMA and NARD, His Highness, Dr Haliru Yahaya, Emir of Shonga, former Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuosho, President of NMA, Prof. Innocent Ujah, former Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Chairman and Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) Prof. Tajudeen Sanusi, among others.

Among other things at the meeting, the minister informed the forum that it was the 36 State Commissioners for Health and the FCT who raised a joint memo to the National Council on Establishment for the abolition of the internship period in the scheme of service for health professionals and further underlined the fact that Medical House Officers have never enjoyed the one year of internship or that of the NYSC as part of their period of service in the overall 35 years period of service.

He also explained that the CONMESS wage structure captures all doctors from CONMESS 1 for House Officers to CONMESS for the highest consultant

Ngige was said to have further stated that the circular from the Office of the Head Of Service of the Federation, emanating from the last NEC in Lagos, abolishing one year of internship and NYSC as part of the scheme of service for health professionals, does not affect medical doctors because the housemanship of medical doctors is already captured in the wage structure of CONMESS.

He further told the forum that the domestication of the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) in the states is the responsibility of governors and state Houses of Assembly for resident doctors in state specialists hospitals because health is on the concurrent list of the constitution.

Furthermore, the minister said the federal government already has the Medical Residency Training Act of 2018 for federal residents.

He argued that House Officers and general medical officers by strict job description are not members of NARD which is an exclusive body for doctors on residency training.

He insisted that the House Officers should only be under the Nigerian Medical Association and should not have embarked on strike.

He maintained that the Federal Government Medical Residency Training Fund for 2021 was captured under the service-wide vote in the 2021 supplementary budget which was signed by the President on the eve of his departure to the United Kingdom and has therefore become a Financial Act. The minister noted that the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning is already moving funds into various compartments such as COVID-19 vaccines and other medical subheads and gave assurance that requests from medical colleges will be sorted out within the next seven working days, with funds moved to the accounts of resident doctors and should not have been an item for the strike.

It was also learnt that the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, notified the meeting that he was up to date in the payment of House Officers who have been enrolled through him to the Accountant General of the Federation as of July 31, 2021. On the issue of the IPPIS platform, the Registrar said that investigations were on to find out why the 114 House officers were not paid as claimed by NARD.

Ngige was also said to have blamed the President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Professor Innocent Ujah, for failing to give the right leadership to the junior doctors in NARD.

He allegedly accused him of failure of leadership, saying he abandoned standing instruction given to both the NMA and NARD leadership that NMA must lead in any conciliation meeting. Ngige who was commended by the elders for his forthrightness proved to the forum that Prof. Uja has never attended any of the conciliation meetings in his ministry even under invitation but chose to send the secretary-general.

He was said to have further reiterated his earlier position that the job of the NMA president is a full-time job that has necessitated people in the public services taking sabbatical leave to hold such an office

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Court to Rule on DSS’ Request for Continued Detention of Four of Igboho’s Associates

Justice Obiara Egwuatu has stood down ruling in an oral application by the Department of State Service (DSS), to continue to keep in detention four associates of Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Igboho.

The DSS in compliant with the order of the Court on Wednesday brought the 12 associates of Sunday Igboho in their custody.

At Monday’s proceedings only eight of them were brought to court due to discrepancies in the names of the applicants on the list of the applicants’ lawyer and that of the service.

The court while on the last sitting granted request of applicants lawyer Mr Pelumi Olajeingbesi, to correct the names and make necessary amendments on the suit, adjourned to August 4, for hearing of the applicants motion on notice.

When the matter was called on Wednesday, applicants lawyer argued that since the DSS had brought the applicants to court it was no longer necessary to keep them and as such the court should admit them to bail unconditionally.

However, DSS’s lawyer, Mr Idowu Awo, told the court that while the service was not opposed to the bail of eight of the applicants, it was opposed to four of the applicants owing to the severity of the proposed charge against them.

The four applicants whom the service wants to keep for further investigation are; Amudat Babatunde (AKA Lady K), Okoyemi Tajudeen, Abideen Shittu and Jamiu Oyetunji.

The service claimed that “investigation so far revealed high level of complicity on their parts”.

According to Awo, it will not be in the interest of Justice and National Interest to release them on bail, adding that the applicants may jump bail and not make themselves available for further investigation or possible prosecution.

The alleged offenses of the applicants include; arms stock pilling and other crimes. The DSS claimed that when it raided the house of Igboho in conjunction with the army on July 1, 7 AK 47 riffles, 3 pump action guns, 221 live ammunition, I jackknife, 19 walkie talkies were recovered.

Awo added Igboho had ran out of the country after he was declared wanted and was currently standing trial in Benin Republic.

Responding, olajengbesi, argued that it took the intervention of the Court for him to meet with the applicants, adding that the experience of the applicants in DSS custody was bad.

He argued further that after 34 days in custody, it would amount to an affront on the nation’s Constitution and an infringement of fundamental rights of the applicants for the DSS to continue to keep them in custody.

While he argued that investigation cannot be indefinite, he stressed the nature of the alleged charge was not before the court, adding that the DSS does not need 34 days to investigate a case of alleged firearms.

“We pray the court to admit all of them to bail unconditionally”, olajengbesi submitted.

Justice Egwuatu having listened to arguments of parties in the matter said that the matter was stood down for ruling.

The applicants were arrested during a midnight raid on Igboho’s residence in Oyo State and subsequently brought to Abuja but since their arrest on July 1, the DSS had yet to file charges against them or admit them to bail pending conclusion of investigations and possibly arraignment.

The applicants through their lawyers therefore approached the court to enforce their fundamental human rights.

They had argued that they were being held illegally, without any valid court order hence, the court should order the DSS to release them unconditionally.

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Court orders EFCC to unfreeze Dokpesi’s bank accounts

A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to unfreeze the bank accounts of businessman and politician, Raymond Dokpesi.

The court also ordered the release of his documents being held by the state.

The EFCC had obtained a court order that led to the freezing of Dokpesi’s bank accounts and seizure of his documents while prosecuting him and his company, Daar Investment and Holdings Limited, before the court.

They were charged with fraud and breach of public trust over the N2.1 billion they allegedly got from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) under Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (retd.).

In a judgment on April 1, the Appeal Court in Abuja set aside the November 21, 2018, ruling by Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, rejecting their “no case” submission while ordering Dokpesi and his company to enter a defence.

In her lead judgment in the unanimous decision of the appellate court’s three-man panel, Justice Elfrieda Williams-Daudu held, among others, that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against Dokpesi and his company to warrant their being called upon to enter a defence. The Court of Appeal then upheld their no-case submission, quashed the charge against them and discharged and acquitted them.

Armed with the Court of Appeal decision, Dokpesi returned to the Federal High Court, Abuja with an application for orders directing the EFCC to unfreeze his account and return documents seized from him while his trial lasted.

In a ruling on Tuesday, Justice Tsoho rejected the opposition by the prosecution and proceeded to grant the application by Dokpesi and his company.

Justice Tsoho, who is the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, held that since the charge which precipitated the restriction on the accounts had been quashed and the applicants discharged and acquitted by the Appeal Court, the restriction could no longer be justified.

The judge also held that the EFCC had no basis to sustain the post no debit order on the accounts in view of the subsisting and valid order of the Court of Appeal.

He stressed that the EFCC did not obtain any order for a stay of the execution of the Appeal Court verdict since it was delivered on April 1.

On EFCC’s argument that it had lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court against the judgment of Court of Appeal, Justice Tsoho held that the notice of appeal filed at the apex court could not, in law, stay the execution of the subsisting judgment.

He added that the prosecution ought to have obtained an order staying the execution of the judgment.

Justice Tsoho averred that in the absence of any order staying the execution of the judgment by the Court of Appeal, his court was bound by law to give effect to the judgment.

He ordered that the vacation of the freezing order earlier obtained by the EFCC on the accounts was in compliance with the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

The judge also ordered that all documents seized from Dokpesi or those he voluntarily surrendered to the state be immediately returned to him.

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