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First draft report of ongoing 1999 constitution review will be ready in 2025- Benjamin Kalu

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu has hinted that the first draft report of the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution would be ready in August 2025.

Kalu dropped the hints at a press conference by the House Committee on Constitution Review on Thursday in Abuja.

According to the deputy speaker, the final clean copy for the presidential assent after the voting on the expected issues of concern by the two chambers of the National Assembly would also be out in August, 2025.

It could be recalled that the committee on its inauguration, Monday, in Abuja, gave a 24-month timeline for the conclusion of the exercise.

At the press conference, Kalu who also doubles as the chairman of the committee said:

“We are pushing to ensure that in our activities, that in no distant time, the first draft of the work we are trying to do in the constitution will be ready.

“This will be subject to approval of the work done by the subcommittee. Let me mention that by our target, the first draft of the constitution will be out in August 2024.

“Second draft will be out in October 2024, we will commence zonal inputs from October 2024, we’ll keep collecting inputs from citizens from 14th October 2024 as we prepare for the last version or the last draft copy of the constitution.

“We are hoping that there will be a harmonization of the issues, on the 27th, 28th February 2025.

“We are hoping that during a technical working retreat that will take place in February 2025, the Senate and the House of Representatives documents will be harmonized.

“It is our desire that on the 17th of March 2025, we will have harmonized documents considered in the House. It is our believe that by April 2025, we will have the final copies of draft amendments produced.

“We are optimistic also that by 12th May 2025, we’ll have, the final clean copy of amendments’ bills agreed on.

“And we are looking at 22nd May 2025, as a time when we will have final report laid for consideration and voting.

“This is to say that members will be voting on the work we have done on this important date of 22nd May 2025.

“We are believing that around the 29th of May or 13th of June, knowing fully well what these important dates mean to Nigerians, we will expect the final concurrence of state assemblies secured.

“If it delays more than that, it will not go beyond August of 2025 because we believe that by August 2025, the president will receive the bills that will be presented to him for presidential assent. So, our targets are that transmission of bills to Mr President for assent will take place August 2025.

“And with this, we are sure that our target to get this job done in 24 months will be achieved if we send it to Mr President by August 2025 and hoping that by December we will have a constitution that’s fully amended.”

The Deputy Speaker also called for submission of memoranda from different interest groups, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Labour Unions, relevant institutions of government and the members of the general public to aid the committee’s work.

He said that the thematic areas included Federal Structure and Power Devolution; Local Government/Local Government Autonomy; Public Revenue, Fiscal Federation, and Revenue Allocation; Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security Architecture; Comprehensive Judicial Reforms; Electoral Reforms to strengthen INEC to deliver transparent, credible, free and fair elections; Socio-economic and cultural rights as contained in Chapter 2 of the
constitution and Traditional Institutions.

Other are Issues of Gender; Strengthening the Independence of oversight institutions and agencies created by the constitution or pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly; Residency and Indigene Provisions; Immunity; The National Assembly; Process of state creation and State access to mining.

“In exercise of the powers conferred on the Legislature by Sections 4, 8, and 9 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) and Order 20, Rule 30 of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives (11th Edition) and the Legislative Agenda of the 10th House of Representatives, I am pleased to invite the Executive and Judicial bodies, State Governments, Women Groups, Academics, Civil Society Organizations, Labour Unions, Professional bodies, Ethnic
Nationalities, Nigerians in the Diaspora, Diplomats and the general public, to submit memoranda or proposals for further alteration(s) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) on the following thematic areas: The Federal Structure and Power Devolution; Local Government/Local Government Autonomy; Public Revenue, Fiscal Federation, and Revenue Allocation; Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security Architecture; Comprehensive Judicial Reforms; Electoral Reforms to strengthen INEC to deliver transparent, credible, free and fair elections; Socio-economic and cultural rights as contained in Chapter 2 of the
constitution; Traditional Institutions; Issues of Gender; Strengthening the Independence of oversight institutions and agencies created by the constitution or pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly; Residency and Indigene Provisions; Immunity; The National Assembly; Process of state creation; State access to mining”, he said.

The committee, however, extended the call for memoranda to “any other matter that will promote good governance and the welfare of all persons in our country on the principles of freedom, equality, and justice.”

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Politics

AGF faults Gov Ododo for obstructing Yahaya Bello’s arrest

The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, has faulted Governor Usman Ododo of Kogi State for obstructing the arrest of his predecessor, Yahaya Bello, by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Fagbemi said it’s “insufferably disquieting” for Ododo to obstruct EFCC from arresting Bello.

On Wednesday, operatives of EFCC had stormed Bello’s residence in Abuja in an attempt to arrest him over an ongoing fraud investigation.

But Bello was reportedly smuggled out of his residence by Ododo to evade arrest by the anti-graft agency.

Reacting, Fagbemi said EFCC should not be obstructed from carrying out its lawful duties.

In a statement he personally signed, the AGF said: “A situation where public officials who are themselves subject of protection by law enforcement agents will set up a stratagem of obstruction to the civil and commendable efforts of the EFCC to perform its duty is to say the least, insufferably disquieting.

“A flight from the law does not resolve issues at stake but only exacerbates it.

“I state unequivocally that I stand for the rule of law and will promptly call EFCC and indeed any other agency to order when there is indication of any transgression of the fundamental rights of any Nigerian by any of the agencies but I also tenaciously hold the view that institutions of State should be allowed to function effectively and efficiently.”

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Politics

Ododo opens defence, tenders documents against SDP, Ajaka’s petition at Guber tribunal

Governor Usman Ododo of Kogi State, on Wednesday, tendered several documents in seven disputed local government areas to open his defence against the petition filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka.

Ododo, through his lawyer, Paul Daudu, tendered the documents at the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had, on November 11, 2023, conducted the Kogi governorship poll.

However, the SDP and its governorship candidate in the poll are challenging the declaration of Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the poll.

In the petition, INEC, Ododo and APC are listed as 1st to 3rd respondents respectively.

INEC had on Tuesday closed its defence in the petition by SDP and Ajaka, after its counsel, Uchenna Njoku, tendered several documents to support the victory of the governor.

Njoku had told the three-member panel, headed by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudo, that electoral umpire would not be calling any witnesses after assessing the case of the petitioners.

Justice Birnin-Kudo, who declared the commission’s case closed, adjourned until today for Ododo to open his defence.

Upon resumed hearing, Ibrahim Mohammed, SAN, who led Ododo’s team of lawyers, told the panel that Daudu would be conducting the proceedings.

Daudu informed the tribunal of the 2nd respondent’s readiness to open his defence.

The lawyer said he would commence this with the tendering of the certified true copies (CTCs) of the documents which had also been served on the petitioners.

“It is only fair for them (petitioners) to peruse these documents to enable us take off,” Daudu said.

He, therefore, sought a stand down of the hearing for about 30 minutes to allow the petitioners (SDP and Ajaka) peruse the documents.

Pius Akubo, SAN, who appeared for the petitioners, did not oppose the application.

Justice Birnin-Kudo subsequently stood down the matter.

However, while the inspection of the documents was ongoing, the tribunal, through its secretary, announced the adjournment of the matter until Thursday for continuation.

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Politics

Court affirms Gunduje’s suspension

A Kano State High Court has granted an exparte order restraining the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, from parading himself as National Chairman as well as a member of the party, pending the determination of the substituted motion of his suspension.

Consequently, the court ordered that henceforth Ganduje should desist from presiding over affairs of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party.

The application granted by Justice Usman Malam Na’abba on Tuesday follows an exparte motion filed by Dr. Ibrahim Sa’ad on behalf of two executive members of Ganduje’S ward, Dawakin-Tofa Local Government Area; the assistant secretary, Laminu Sani; and legal adviser Haladu Gwanjo (plaintiffs) who were part of the nine ward executive who suspended him two days ago.

The court directed the four parties (respondents) joined in the matter, including the APC NWC, APC Kano State Working Committee (KSWC), and Ganduje, to henceforth, maintain status quo ante belum as of 15th April, 2024, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit on 30th April 2024.

Justice Na’abba also held as prayed that the State Working Committee must not interfere with the legally and validly considered decision of executives of Ganduje ward, essentially on action endorsed by a third majority of the executives as provided by the party constitution.

“An order is hereby granted directing all parties in the suit APC (1st), APC National Working Committee (2nd), Kano State Working Committee APC (3rd), Dr. Abdullah Umar Ganduje (4th), to maintain status quo ante belum as of 15th April, 2024.

“The order thereby restraining the 1st respondent (APC) from recognizing the 4th respondent (Ganduje) as member of APC and prohibiting the 4th respondent (Ganduje) from presiding over any affairs of the NWC and restraining the state Working Committee from interfering with the legally and validly decision of the ward executives of Ganduje ward.

“That the 4th respondent (Ganduje) is prohibited from parading himself as a member of APC or doing any act that may portray him or seem to be a member of APC pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

It will be recalled that nine members of the Ganduje ward proclaimed the suspension of the National Chairman of APC over the allegation of corruption slammed on him by the Kano State Government.

The nine APC executives said they were prompted to act following a petition written by one Ja’afaru Adamu, a member of APC from the National Chairman’s polling unit.

In the petition, Adamu complained over allegations of corruption against the former Governor just as he urged the ward leaders to investigate the matter to redeem the dented image of the party and the implication on President Bola Tinubu’s fight against corruption.

Although the chairman and secretary of the ward failed to act on the petition filed since 8th April 2024, nine members of the executives led by the legal adviser had acted upon the petition, a decision that led to the suspension of Ganduje.

In the last year, the former Kano State Governor had suffered a serious political setback for losing his Dawakin Tofa federal constituency in the 2023 general elections where his son Umar Abdullahi Ganduje was the APC candidate.

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