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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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‘Russia will continue to help Syria protect its sovereignty’ – Putin

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Russian President , Vladimir Putin has said that the country will continue to help Syria protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 

Putin on Sunday in a congratulatory message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, reechoed his  commitment to Syria.

 

“I would like to confirm that Russia will continue to support Syria’s government and people in their efforts to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as to ensure national security and post-war reconstruction,” Putin said in the message.

Putin added that through joint efforts, “terrorist forces on Syrian soil” will be defeated.

 

Putin also pledged to promote Russia-Syria relations, adding that it is in the “common interest” of the two countries to boost Russian-Syrian ties.

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Prices of tomatoes, yam, rice drop in June, NBS confirms

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its Selected Food Price Watch (June 2019)’ report confirmed that average price of major food items including tomatoes, yam, and rice reduced in the month of June.

According to the  report,  the average price of one kilogramme of tomatoes reduced from N317.67 recorded in June 2018 to N226.07 in June 2019, representing a 28.84 per cent decrease.

It added that the price of one kilogramme of tomatoes reduced from N249.52 recorded in May 2019 to N226.07 in June, also representing a 9.40 per cent reduction.

NBS,  in its report, also revealed that the average cost of one kilogramme of rice (imported high quality sold loose) decreased from N373.47 in June 2018 to N352.82 in June 2019.

The price of one kilogramme of rice, according to it, reduced from N361.39 recorded in May 2019 to N352.82 in June 2019, representing a 2.37 per cent decrease.

The bureau explained that fieldwork was done solely by more than 700 NBS staff in all states across the country,

It added that the fieldwork was supported by supervisors who were monitored by internal and external observers.

NBS hinted  that the prices were collected across all the 774 local government areas, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from over 10,000 respondents and locations, stressing that they reflect actual prices households said they actually bought the items.

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It said the average of all the prices was reported for each state, adding that the average for the country was the average for the state.

“Selected food price watch data for June 2019 reflected that the average price of 1 dozen of Agric eggs medium size decreased year-on-year by -8.23% and increased month-on-month by 6.55% to N495.32 in June 2019 from N464.87 in May 2019, while the average price of piece of Agric eggs medium size (price of one) decreased year-on-year by -5.01% and month-on-month by -8.20% to N39.30 in June 2019 from N42.82 in May 2019.

“The average price of 1kg of tomato decreased year-on-year by -28.84% and month-on-month by -9.40% to N226.07 in June 2019 from N249.52 in May 2019.

“The average price of 1kg of rice (imported high quality sold loose) decreased year-on-year by -5.53% and month-on-month by -2.37% to N352.82 in June 2019 from N361.39 in May 2019.

“Similarly, the average price of 1kg of yam tuber decreased year-on-year by -36.27% and month-on-month by -15.68% to N182.15 in June 2019 from N216.03 in May 2019″, the report reads.

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Critics of open governance can’t distract me, says Makinde

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The Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde has declared that critics of his style of open governance cannot distract his government from recording giant strides in the State.

Governor Makinde, who made the declaration while speaking at the inauguration of the South West Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the United Kingdom, said that he was aware why there has been so much searchlight on his person and his administration.

A statement by Governor Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, also quoted the Governor as tasking PDP Stakeholders to readily project the good deeds of the party’s office holders in order not to give room for negative narrative.

Makinde, who observed that interest groups in the United Kingdom had played important roles in the politics of Nigeria, said that no fewer than 200,000 Nigerians now live in the United Kingdom.

He said that the task ahead of the PDP is to regroup and launch chapters everywhere Nigerians are found.

The Governor said:” I am aware of the enormity of the responsibility that rests on me. The searchlight is beamed upon me, and all my actions are being met with the strictest scrutiny.”

“I know that it is the seeming controversial that will be given more attention. My open declaration of my assets is generating furore in certain quarters, but these are unnecessary distractions, my focus and the focus of our administration is on good governance. We shall not be distracted”, he added

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Governor Makinde also seized the opportunity to invite investors to Oyo state, declaring that his efforts so far have been geared towards eradicating the out-of-school children syndrome, which he said, accounts for 400,000 right now, expansion of the state’s economy and promoting security.

“In the past month, I have focused on two things to set Oyo State on the path to greatness: Ensuring that we put the right policies and processes in place, and working with ideas that will help increase Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the state.”

He stated that his focus on security was borne out of the fact that without security, businesses cannot thrive adding that he had given his commitment to enhancing security to the Commanders of the Task Force in charge of Oyo and Osun, Operation Burst.

According to the Governor, the decision by the state government to cancel the N3, 000 school levy, and examination fees had resulted in the unprecedented huge turnout of students for placement examination into JSS1, and the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) conducted in the state last week.

The Governor also said that the commitment of the PDP towards strategizing for the future was not in doubt adding that members of the party must also be alive to their responsibilities.

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He said: “The PDP has one job and one job only:  regroup, refocus, re-strategise. Creating Chapters, everywhere in the world where Nigerians are found, shows our commitment to this job. I believe Nigerians have had the opportunity to see clearly which party really means business.

“I have one request to make of you: never stop talking about the good things we are doing. When good things are not given prominence, the consensus is that only bad things are happening. We cannot allow evil narratives about the PDP or its stakeholders to gain any type of momentum. It is our jobs as worthy ambassadors to shut down such narratives, quickly and definitively.”

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