Human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN has called on the Nigerian Bar Association to “do more to hold governments at all levels to account for violations of human rights and stop illegal arrests and detention of Nigerians by law enforcement and security agencies.”
Falana said this in a paper delivered yesterday at the induction of Mr. Fatai Adeyemi Abinjo as 37th President of the District 9110 of the Rotary Club, Ogba Lagos.
According to Falana, “it is indisputable that Nigeria has largely enacted laws for the enforcement of the human rights of citizens and foreigners living in Nigeria. But due to the failure of lawyers and judges to hold the government accountable, the human rights of millions of poor Nigerians including civil, political, economic and social rights are violated with almost absolute impunity.”
Falana said, “It is high time the Nigerian Bar Association was reorganised to take its rightful place in the human rights community. Specifically, let all the branches of the NBA liaise and collaborate with the Chief Magistrates designated to conduct monthly inspections of police detention centres in each state of the federation. The 1st Vice President of the NBA who is in charge of human rights should mount additional pressure on the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to designate Judges to inspect the detention centres of other law enforcement agencies.”
Falana’s paper read in part: “Attorneys-General who frustrate the execution of judgments or who fail to prosecute all indictable offences should be sanctioned for gross misconduct by the Nigerian Bar Association.”
“The concepts of law and justice cannot have deep meaning, and even application, to the millions of our people who are merely existing at starvation level or even existing below that level. We have for long concentrated on so-called ‘Fundamental Rights’ as if these have equal meaning and application to all our people.”
“Most of the Rights entrenched in our Constitution are nothing more than empty words to millions of our peoples who are or whose children are suffering and, in some cases, dying of malnutrition and other preventable diseases associated with the poor.”
“Nigerian lawyers should get organized and reposition the Nigerian Bar Association to end illegal arrests and detention in Nigeria.”
“Without the implementation of the laws and enforcement of judgments on socioeconomic rights the political and civil rights being celebrated by Nigerian lawyers and judges will remain empty slogans.”
“To promote public interest litigation in the area of human rights the doctrine doctrine of locus standi has been abolished by the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009. The implication is that any concerned citizen or a group has the locus to file suits challenging the infringements of the human rights of persons who are in custody or other victims or who may not be able to seek legal redress in the appropriate courts.”
“Having ratified the Protocol of the Ecowas on the establishment of the Community Court of Justice and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, victims of human rights abuse may apply to the Ecowas Court to secure the enforcement of their human rights. The Nigerian Bar Association is called upon to join the coalition against impunity in demanding for a Declaration accepting the jurisdictional competence of the African Court on Human Rights in line with 34 (6) Of the Protocol for the Establishment of the Court.”
“The fundamental rights of every person to life, dignity of human person, personal liberty and fair hearing have been guaranteed by sections 33, 34, 35 and 36 the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 respectively. Similar rights have been protected by articles 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
“Owing to the fact that Nigeria is a class society only the rich have the financial means to enforce these rights and others are violated. But since majority of poor and oppressed people are not in a position to enforce these basic rights due to poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and fear they are routinely violated by law enforcement officials. Even though the socioeconomic rights are enforceable in our municipal courts Nigerian lawyers are religiously committed to the defence of political and civil rights.”
“Such rights include access to education, right to health, national control of the economy, safe and healthy environment, pension, equitable working conditions, right to development etc guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.”
“Furthermore, some aspects of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy (which have been made non justiciable by the ruling class) have been enacted into law through the struggle waged by the trade unions and other oppressed people. But the ruling class has not hidden the fact that it is not committed to the actualization of the aforesaid welfare laws.”
“The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights ratified by Nigeria and enacted into law by the National Assembly has made socio-economic rights justiciable. To demonstrate further commitment to the observance of socio-economic rights the Nigeria has ratified the United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. However, the Federal Government has failed to fulfill its obligations to the Nigerian people in line with the provisions of the aforesaid international human rights instruments.”
“In a country where hundreds of thousands are languishing in custody in dehumanizing conditions in prisons and other detention centres lawyers are only prepared to defend the human rights of the rich and politically exposed persons. A few months ago, I cautioned Nigerian lawyers against the dangerous dual criminal justice systems- one for the rich and one of the poor.”
“Because my warning was ignored the legal profession has been exposed to ridicule by some judges who are instigated by a few senior lawyers to confer permanent immunity on ex-governors whose constitutional immunity has expired by effluxion of time.”
“I am referring to the practice of rushing to the federal high court by highly placed lawyers to secure interim, interlocutory or perpetual injunctions to bar the anti graft agencies, the Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation from arresting investigating and prosecuting some former governors and other politically exposed persons.”
Food prices increase in 12 months — NBS
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), says the price of selected food items have increased in the last twelve months.
This is according to the NBS Selected Food Price Watch Report for April, 2022 released in Abuja on Thursday.
The report showed that the average price of 1kg of Beans (white, black eye, sold loose) rose on a year-on-year basis by 44.32 per cent from N359.64 in April 2021 to N519.05 in April 2022.
Also, on a month-on-month basis, this increased by 2.59 per cent to N505.94 in March 2022.
The report revealed that the average price of bread sliced 500g increased on a year-on-year basis by 35.31 per cent from N332.95 in April 2021 to N450.51 in April 2022.
“On a month-on-month basis, the average price of this item increased by 0.61 per cent in April 2022.’’
Similarly, it said that the average price of 1kg yam tuber on a year-on-year basis, rose by 42.88 per cent from the
value recorded in April 2021 at N252.80 to N361.20 in April 2022.
It said on a month-on-month basis, it increased from N353.56 in March 2022 to N361.20 in April 2022, indicating 2.16 per cent growth.
In the same vein, the report revealed that the average price of Palm oil (1 bottle) increased by 45.59 per cent from N578.86 in April 2021 to N842.75 in April 2022. It also grew by 0.06 per cent on a month-on-month basis
The report said the average price of 1kg Plantain (unripe) rose by 38.66 per cent on a year-on-year basis from N243.37 in April 2021 to N337.47 in April 2022.
It added that the average price of Groundnut oil (1 bottle), stood at N1, 007.68 in April 2022, showing an increase of 46.21 per cent from N689.19 in April 2021.
“On a month-on-month basis, it rose by 1.31 per cent from N994.62 in March 2022.’’
The report showed that at the state level, Ebonyi recorded the highest average price of Beans (white, black eye, sold loose) with N875.71, while the lowest was reported in Borno with N256.67.
It said the highest average price of bread sliced at 500g was recorded in Ebonyi with N650.0, while the lowest was recorded in Borno with N261.38.
The report showed that Akwa-Ibom recorded the highest price of 1kg yam tuber with N695.93, while Bauchi recorded the lowest with N133.28.
Analysis by zone from the report showed that South-East recorded the highest average price of beans brown, sold loose with N831.09, followed by the South-South with N676.13, while the North-East recorded the least with N307.21.
“Similarly, the South-East recorded the highest average price of bread sliced 500g with N601.09, followed by the South-South with N550.21, while the lowest was recorded in the North-East with N278.51”.
The report also showed that the average price of 1kg of yam tuber was higher in the South-West and the South-South with N528.78 and N495.02 respectively, while the lowest was recorded in the North-East with N142.79.
Retailers, consumers decry hike in cooking gas price
Retailers and consumers of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), also known as cooking gas, on Thursday decried the hike in the price of the product across the country.
They made their views known in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos following the increase in the price of cooking gas within the last one month.
Consumers have been struggling with the high cost of cooking gas due to global supply challenges, high international prices, limited availability of foreign exchange and high exchange rates.
The price of a 12.5kg cylinder has increased from about N8,400 to N9,500 in Lagos and environs and N10,000 in other parts of the country.
Mrs Ayo Olaiya, a businesswoman told NAN that the hike in the price of cooking gas was putting strain on women managing the home front.
“With gas you can quickly get food ready for the family, especially when you are in a hurry but now I can’t even use it all the time because of the cost.
“Now, I am using charcoal stove mostly because it is cheaper despite the stress and discomfort,” she said.
A food vendor in Iyana-Ipaja area, Mrs Iyabo Olowokere, said the increase in the price of gas was affecting her business negatively.
Olowokere said she normally used 12kg cylinder with three burners for cooking but had started using firewood as an alternative due to the cost of cooking gas.
“Government should help us stop this increment because it is not easy for us at all and even if we increase the cost of our food or reduce the quantity, we will be losing customers,” she said.
Mr Michael Umudu, National Chairman, the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Retailers (LPGAR), branch of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), said the situation was, indeed, worrisome for both retailers and consumers.
He confirmed that the price of 12.5kg cylinder had risen from about N8,400 to between N9,500 and N10,000 in Lagos and other parts of the country.
According to him, prices at the depots have similarly risen to about N12.6 million for 20 metric tons from N11.4 million, which was the average price a few weeks ago.
He said: “The worrisome aspect of this development is that it has continued to rise on daily basis for weeks now but began to escalate in the last few weeks leading to significant increases in both depots and retail outlets.
“For us as retailers, it is a big problem because we can’t even afford to stock up our shops and even when we do, it will take time before we can make enough sales to get back our investments.
“What we find now is that people even bring in 12.5kg cylinders but opt to fill them with less than 6kg of gas just to manage at home.”
Umudu said the union, therefore, expected the government to come up with clear policy direction for the development of LPG in the country to forestall the ugly situation.
He said: “LPG as a clean energy has steadily been embraced by low income earning Nigerians in the last seven years against previous years when it was seen as the preserve of the rich.
“What we are witnessing now is that demand for LPG is reducing drastically because people can no longer afford the product and are resorting to firewood and kerosene stoves which have health implications.”
Umudu appealed to the government to create a dedicated forex window for LPG importers, noting that the allocation from the Nigerian LNG Ltd. could only meet about 40 per cent of the consumption in the country.
But the Nigeria Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA) said Nigeria consumed a total of 1.2MT of LPG in 2021 with about 60 per cent imported into the country by marketers.
Mr Andy Odeh, General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, NLNG, explained that the company supplied about 400,000MT of LPG to the domestic market in 2021.
He said the board approved the supply of 450,000MT, 100 per cent of the company’s LPG production (Propane and Butane), to the domestic market in 2022.
Odeh said this marked the company’s strong commitment to the continued growth of the domestic LPG market.
APC to decide on zoning after screening presidential aspirants- Adamu
Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has said that the party would take a decision on zoning after screening its 2023 presidential aspirants.
Adamu said this in an interview with selected Hausa service media organisations late Wednesday night, adding that the presidential aspirants would be scrutinised in accordance with the party’s guidelines for the 2023 general elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the party’s electoral guidelines provide three methods of choosing its candidates for an election, which include: direct, indirect, and consensus.
Speaking on the party’s zoning arrangement, Adamu said that no decision would be taken until its aspirants were all screened.
“We have not produced our candidate for the presidency yet, we have to screen the aspirants to know the way forward.
“We have aspirants from across the country in the presidential race. We will take the decision when we get there,” the APC national chairman said.
On the number of the presidential aspirants, Adamu said members of the party could not be denied the right to contest for president.
“You can’t stop our party stalwarts from contesting elections or aspiring for the presidency. It is their right, and we are happy for them.
“There is nothing wrong for anybody aspiring for the exalted seat of the president, it is God that decides who gets what.
“We have 28 aspirants for the presidential ticket, and everybody knows that all of them cannot get the ticket. If it’s God’s wish, they all can even be president of the country one after the other.
“Our goal is to ensure justice in the choice of who emerges as the candidate of the party, that does not mean we are perfect, but we pray we do the right thing,” he said.
On the possibility of the party adopting the type of consensus arrangement that produced him as its chairman, Adamu said the chairmanship position was not the same as that of the president.
He stressed that there was no comparison between the two positions.
“However, the party has laid down its rules and regulations for the aspirants, we would scrutinise all of them based on our guidelines to be sure we pick the right candidate for the party,” he said.
He debunked insinuations that a large number of the party’s presidential aspirants was a subtle ploy to extend the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in office.
“I can only say that God will deal with those behind such insinuations. President Buhari had since 2019 declared that he would not seek a tenure extension.
“He told everybody and swore with the Qur’an that he would not breach constitutional provision on his two terms tenure.
“The issue does not even arise, the president, while performing the Lesser Hajj reiterated this position.
“If there is truth in such talks, none of the aspirants would have procured the party’s Expression of Interest and Nomination forms,” he said.
Speaking on the allegations that the party’s aspirants were sharing money with delegates, Adamu said he had no evidence to that effect.
He said, for now, there was, however, no law against aspirants taking their campaign to delegates.
“I don’t have evidence that aspirants are sharing money with delegates, for me, it’s the delegates that are selling their conscience, which is not proper.
“Our delegates should know that anybody sharing money with them can’t be the right candidate for the party, he doesn’t mean well for the country. I don’t have a solution for the problem,” he said.
With 145 governorship aspirants and 25 presidential aspirants, Adamu explained that politicians were rushing to the APC because it is the government in power with everyone that matter in the country as its member.
“It is because that is where those that matter in the country are. It didn’t start today; we are the government in power.
“Today, in spite of all the insults, the APC has an advantage far ahead of other political parties.
“Today, the APC is the biggest party in Nigeria. It’s natural that it will attract more Nigerians than any other party. This is where it is happening.
“Any right-thinking politician would naturally gravitate towards the APC.
“Of course, we have our problems, but today we are the cynosure of all Nigerians, and I am hopeful, God willing, we will retain power in the general election,” he said.
I’ll leverage agriculture, industrialisation to diversify Nigeria’s economy – Amaechi
Former Minister of Transportation and All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant, Rotimi Amaechi, has promised to diversify Nigeria’s economy through agriculture and industrialisation.
Amaechi said this during a meeting with Nasarawa State APC statutory delegates in Lafia, on Wednesday.
According to him, it is time to change the nation’s economy by focusing on agriculture, building industries; manufacturing and processing industries as well as fabrication in order to create job for the teeming youth.
“I will not only focus on agriculture, but also create manufacturing and processing industries.
“If you have a poultry farm and turn it into a commercial farm that produces and processing your chickens, you will employ more hands,” he said.
Amaechi said Nasarawa State was blessed with arable lands suitable for agriculture productions, which puts it at vantage position to change the economy if given the necessary support.
The APC presidential aspirant, said that Nigeria needed a president who have the capacity, tested and trusted to navigate the country into a prosperous nation.
According to Amaechi, having served in several capacities as two term governor of Rivers state, Minister of Transport, he has the capacity to replicate and surpass his achievements if given the opportunity to rule the country.
“As a Minister of Transport, I delivered on Abuja – Kaduna railway, Warri – Itakpe, Lagos – Ibadan, while work is ongoing in Kano – Kaduna and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railways.
“I have changed the face of Maritime Security and revived the seaports, so I’m tested and trusted, I count on you to vote for me so that together we can move Nigeria to greater height,”he said.
Gov Abdullahi Sule, represented by his Deputy, Dr Emmanuel Akabe, described Amaechi as a man, who was tested and trusted, given his records of his performance and antecedents in various offices he had occupied in the country.
Why queues for petrol returned last weekend– NNPC
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has explained why queues for petrol returned at some filling stations in Abuja last weekend.
The petrol queues were blamed on “low loadouts” at depots. Garba Deen Muhammad, NNPC spokesman added that purchases by residents who recently returned after the public holidays also contributed to the queues.
Muhammad further revealed that efforts are ongoing to address the situation. The statement read;
“The NNPC Ltd notes the sudden appearance of fuel queues in parts of Abuja. This is very likely due to low loadouts at depots which usually happen during long public holidays, in this case, the Sallah celebrations.
“Another contributing factor to the sudden appearances of queues is the increased fuel purchases which is also usual with returning residents of the FCT from the public holidays.
“NNPC and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), in conjunction with our marketing partners, have taken necessary measures to ramp up loadouts from all depots.
“We assure all residents of the FCT, and indeed all Nigerians, that we have ample local supplies and national stock in excess of 2.5 billion liters, with sufficiency of more than 43 days.
“The NNPC Ltd hereby advises motorists not to engage in panic buying as supplies are adequate as will become increasingly evident in the coming days.”
Mixed reactions trail FG’s duty on recharge cards
Mr Adebayo Adesina, President Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITAN), says the approval of five per cent exercise duty on telephone recharge cards by the Federal Government is more of an indirect tax.
Adesina said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.
“This sort of taxes is factored in the purchase of a commodity, with the individual paying without been aware as much.
“The purpose is to boost government fiscal revenue, and a common practice in many advance countries,” Adesina said.
He noted that introducing these taxes would boost government fiscal revenue position, particularly in this era of declining revenue.
“While the people expect the government to be prudent and judiciously utilise the funds to provide public good.
“The authorities must begin to be more accountable to the people in order
to enhance trust and key into their policies with no objection,” he said.
However, Prof. Sherifdeen Tella, Head of Department of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, said the new taxes on recharge cards was unnecessary.
“The introduction of the new taxes on recharge cards is not fair giving the economic condition of an average Nigerian.
“Nigerians have been dealing with soaring inflation and weak purchasing power and implementing this policy will exacerbate their woes,” he said.
He noted that the tiers of government should cut down the high cost of governance, so as to free funds rather than imposing taxes.
NAN reports that the Federal Government on May 5 approved the collection of five per cent as excise duty on telephone recharge cards and vouchers.
The charge is part of new items on the list of goods liable for excise duty on the Finance Act in the country.
Excise duty is a levy charged at the time of manufacturing.
It is also a form of indirect tax on the sale or consumption of certain goods and products.