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Onnoghen: I’m no judicial officer, I’m only answerable to presidency – CCT boss, Umar hits NJC

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Danladi Umar, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, has challenged the powers of any organ of the judiciary to query his actions in the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Umar said he was only answerable to the Presidency.

Umar said this while maintaining that he would not answer a query the Federal Judicial Service Commission, FJSC, issued to get his reaction to a petition accusing him of engaging in reckless abuse of judicial powers.

It will be recalled that the National Judicial Council, NJC, had on January 29, disclosed that it forwarded a petition that a group under the platform of Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative, lodged against the CCT boss, to the FJSC.

The group alleged that Umar abused the judicial process by granting an ex-parte order for Justice Onnoghen, who has not been convicted, to be removed from office.

President Muhammadu Buhari had relied on the said ex-parte order that was dated January 23, and swore-in the next most senior jurist of the Supreme Court, Justice Tanko Muhammad, to take over as the Acting CJN.

The NJC, at the end of its emergency meeting, said it was convinced that the FJSC was the appropriate constitutional body empowered to deal with issues the petitioner raised against Umar. Upon receiving the petition, the FJSC, directed the CCT boss to respond to allegations against him.

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Meanwhile, in his response dated February 6, 2019, and marked CCT/HQ/FJSC/S/01, Umar contended that neither the FJSC nor the NJC, had the constitutional powers to query his actions.

Insisting that he is not a judicial officer, Umar said he could only be called to account by President Buhari. He stressed that unlike judicial officers, members of the CCT, at the time of their inauguration, take official oaths and not judicial oaths.

According to him, “With regard to the prayer of the petitioner for an appropriate sanction against the chairman, it is important to note that the chairman and members of the tribunal, not being judicial officers, are not constitutionally subject to any disciplinary proceedings by either the National Judicial Council or the Federal Judicial Service Commission but the Presidency.

“The petitioner alleged that judicial oaths were breached and that the National Judicial Council should consider appropriate sanctions. It is to be noted that the chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal are not judicial officers.

“This is predicated on the fact that the chairman and members of the tribunal, during swearing-in, only subscribe to official oaths and not judicial oaths. Therefore, not being a judicial officer, I did not subscribe to judicial oaths as alleged.”

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Besides, Umar, maintained that it was within his powers to grant the ex-parte order that led to Onnoghen’s suspension.

He, however, declined to make further comments on the issue he said had turned subjudice since the Court of Appeal was already seized with facts of the matter.

To further justify his position, Umar, adduced a letter dated May 18, 2015, which was signed by the then CJN and Chairman of the NJC, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
The letter marked NJC/CIR/HOC/1/74, had specifically barred members of the CCT from referring to themselves as Justices

The then CJN, noted that going by provisions of Paragraph 15 (1 and 2) of Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, members of the CCT panel could not be regarded as judges.

“From the foregoing provisions, no member, including the chairman of the CCT on appointment, is a judicial officer as defined in Section 318 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended unless he or she has held office as a judge of the superior court of record in Nigeria”, the letter added.

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Boko Haram conflict causing misery to millions 10 years on

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Ten years since the beginning of a violent insurgency in northeast Nigeria, the living conditions for displaced people are continuing to deteriorate at an alarming rate due to inadequate and overcrowded facilities. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) calls for increased efforts to improve their living conditions and prevent an imminent cholera outbreak.

Ten years after the first attack launched by the armed group Boko Haram, more than two million people remain displaced from homes in northeast Nigeria, the highest number of any time over the last decade.

“Every week, people continue to flee violence and insecurity in northeast Nigeria. Many settle along the roadside or on empty strips of land, devoid of proper sanitation and water points,” says Eric Batonon, Country Director at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Nigeria.

Hundreds of thousands of people are living in overcrowded displacement sites far below international minimum standards and without proper access to latrines and clean water. Some have put up shelters made of wooden sticks and pieces of ripped fabric. These improvised shelters provide no protection against wind or rain and offer almost no privacy or security. Many don’t even have a door – leaving women, men and children highly vulnerable to intrusions and attacks.

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More than 180,000 people are currently in need of shelter in Borno State with many sleeping in the open or in deplorable makeshift homes. As the rainy seasons gets underway, fears of another deadly outbreak of cholera are looming. Last year, 10,000 cholera cases were confirmed along with 175 recorded deaths, although the real figure is likely to have been much higher.

“People in Nigeria need safe pathways back to their homes and much better living conditions in the meantime. Displacement sites are dangerous, chaotic and entirely unsuitable for children. It is critical to decongest these overcrowded sites, provide people that have been forced to flee with safe, dignified facilities and prevent another deadly cholera outbreak,” Batonon adds.

The NRC is calling on donor countries to increase their financial support for relief to families trying desperately to survive in one of the world’s most volatile regions.

“Ten years on, it is harrowing to see families still crowding into make-shift shelters with inadequate drainage systems to remove rain water. The global humanitarian community, local and national authorities have to do much more and much better to improve the lives of these people,” says Batonon before concluding: “The world needs to scale up the relief work and send a message of hope to the more than seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance in northeast Nigeria. After a decade of conflict, we need to show them that they have not been forgotten.”

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Over 200 Kidnap Victims Regain Freedom In Zamfara – Police

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The Commissioner of Police in Zamfara, Mr Usman Nagogo says over 200 victims of kidnap have been received from their abductors in the last three weeks in the state.

Nagogo made this known at a news conference in Gusau on Monday.

The police chief  said  the bandits willingly returned and handover the victims to him as the leader of a peace and reconciliation initiative recently set up by Governor Bello Matawalle.

He explained: “Since the beginning of the peace and reconciliation initiative team assignment about three weeks ago now, we have received over 200 kidnap victims from Fulanis and Yansakai.

“We have sat with all the warring factions and they have understood that peace is the most important aspect of growth and development which is why they willingly return the victims,
“and await the promise made by the governor to re-establish grazing reserves, build hospitals and veterinary clinics, provide good drinking water and other amenities at Fulani settlements.

“At the moment, all the factions go to the markets that were closed due to the armed bandit activities while farmers go to the farms without any hindrance or threats,”.

The commissioner of police who urged residents to continue to pray for the success of the peace process and sustenance of peace in the state, cautioned politicians against politicising the effort so as to allow security agencies carry out their operations without diversion.

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Some of the rescued victims told newsmen at the police command that they were tied like animals and without any shelter against rain or sun.

Some of the victims spent more than seven months in the hands of their abductors.
After their rescue, the victims were camped at the Government House, Gusau, where they received medical and psycho-social support services before they were reunited with their families.

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Corps Member Serving With Channels TV Dies In Shiite, Police Clash

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Unfortunately, a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) serving with Channels Television, Precious Owolabi, is dead.

The 23-year-old died of a gunshot wound he sustained while covering the clash between the police and the Shiite protesters on Monday in Abuja.

The management and staff of Channels Television are greatly saddened by the untimely and unfortunate death of such a promising journalist.

They pray that God will grant his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, and avail his soul eternal rest.

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