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Market Digest Nigeria

News Highlights

Nigerian Newspaper Headlines (7th August, 2019)

protesters

The clamping down of Revolution Now protesters has been faced with serious backlash from civil rights organisations, human rights activists and lawyers. They have also condemned the arrest and detention of the convener of the protest Omoyele Sowore by the DSS.

The Catholic bishops of Nigeria have called on the federal government to address the current security issues in the country. They appealed just after the recent killing of a catholic priest in Enugu state recently.

Major Nigerian Newspapers have more on these stories:

protesters

Punch Newspaper: RevolutionNow: Outrage greets clampdown, police arraign protesters

Civil society organisations, lawyers, human rights activists on Tuesday joined other Nigerians to knock the Federal Government and the security agencies for clamping down on the #RevolutionNow protesters on Monday. They also flayed the government for the continued incarceration of the convener of the #RevolutionNow protests, Mr Omoyele Sowore, who was being detained by the Department of State Services for “threatening national security and public safety.”

The CSOs including the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre; the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project and 49 other civil society organisations on Tuesday faulted the manner with which the Nigerian authority clamped down on the protesters on Monday. But despite growing opposition to his continued detention, the DSS on Tuesday applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja for an order to allow it keep Sowore for 90 days.

Also, the police on Tuesday arraigned six persons arrested in Lagos during the #RevolutionNow protest on Monday on two counts bordering on unlawful assembly before the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court in Ebute Metta. But the SERAP, CISLAC and 49 other civil society organisations on Tuesday said the nation’s constitution allowed Nigerians to take part in non-violent protests.

The groups made their position known in a statement they jointly signed on Tuesday. The statement read, “We are gravely concerned over the unlawful statement issued by the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force threatening to prosecute the organisers of the peaceful rallies in Nigeria. “There are existing provisions of the law and judicial authorities recognising the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to non-violently convene and participate in rallies, demonstrations and protest marches.

“Fundamentally, the provision of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended that ‘every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons…’ is sacrosanct and must be protected. “We, therefore, call for restraint of arbitrary misuse of power against the citizens for a non-violent protest, demonstration to express their views. “We demand immediate release of all activists who are in detention for exercising their fundamental rights. “We call on security agencies and government officials to ensure total compliance to the rule of law as provided for in our legal system. “We also call on government to respect and allow the flourishing of civil space for meaningful contribution to democratic governance in Nigeria. “We further call on government to be more accountable and responsive to the citizenry they were elected to serve for good governance”. “ Groups that signed the statement include the Centre for Democracy and Development; Centre for Democratic Research and Training; Civil Society Network Against Corruption; Human and Environmental Development Agenda; Public Interest Lawyers League and Partners for West Africa – Nigeria.

Others are Centre for Information Technology and Development; Falana & Falana Chambers; CLEEN Foundation; International Refugee Rights Initiative; Zero-Corruption Coalition; Accountability Maternal New-born and Child Health in Nigeria; Partners on Electoral Reform; State of the Union; African Centre for Media and Information Literacy; National Procurement Watch Platform; Say NO Campaign – Nigeria and Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civil Education, among others.

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Sun Newspaper: Save Nigeria, Catholic bishops tell FG

Catholic Bishops have raised the alarm over the level of insecurity in Nigeria, calling on the Federal Government to take urgent and drastic steps to control the situation to stave off looming danger.

Rising from a meeting in Ekiti, Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan comprising Ibadan Archdiocese, Oyo, Ondo, Ilorin, Ekiti and Osogbo Dioceses, noted that time was running out and warned government at all levels, traditional as well as civil authorities to rise up to the challenge and save the country from impending doom.

This was contained in a communiqué read by the Metropolitan Bishop of Ibadan, and President of the Nigeria Catholic Conference, Ibadan ecclesiastical Province, Gabriel Abegunrin, after their meeting held at the Pope John Paul II Pastoral Centre in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, yesterday.

The clerics accused the Federal Government of treating killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen and other crimes with kid glove, saying such government’s approach was creating palpable fear among Nigerians.

They described as unfortunate a situation where killing, lynching, kidnapping, and brigandage have become the order of the day in Nigeria, and urged  the government to have a clear cut strategy through which perpetrators of the heinous acts could be apprehended and punished, so as to secure the lives of the people. “When this insecurity problem started, it was in one corner of the country, but now it has gone round the entire geopolitical zones of the country. If there is no security, there is no reason for government to exist. “It is unfortunate that Nigerians wake up each day to lament woeful news of killings, lynching, kidnappings and brigandage in the country. Many people, including priests, have fallen victims to this tragically insecure environment. “Lack of clear pattern of punishing crimes, and lip service commitment to the protection of lives and property on the part of the Federal Government and security agencies, have made many Nigerians to live in fear on daily basis. “There seems to be no end in sight, especially with allegations of killings by Fulani herdsmen being left unattended to. Time is running out for Nigeria if the security is not improved. We call on governments, traditional and other civil authorities to please save our country,” they begged.

On the Federal Government’s directive through the Ministry of Interior to licence places of worships for celebration of marriages and issuance of marriage certificates, the Bishops said such a proposal should be approached with caution and should be given a second thought, especially as it affects imposition of annual levies on these institutions. They, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to halt the move, as according to them, it is laced with a hidden agenda. “Contemporary circumstances in Nigeria demand that government must approach religious matters with utmost caution so as not to be considered partisan and partial on national issues,” they insisted.

The Bishops warned the Federal Government against taking steps that could tinker with the freedom of the press, warning the media should not be gagged under any guise.

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Guardian Newspaper: Crisis looms in Senate over ‘juicy’ committees

Senate President Ahmad Lawan might not have entirely escaped the aftershocks of the red chamber’s appointment of chairmen of committees. The phenomenon, fused with a potent ability to rock the tenures of Senate presidents, has bothered occupants of the legislative position from 1999 till date.

Unless the Yobe-born lawmaker manages the aftermath with deftness, he could have a hard time coming. Indeed, the survival of any Senate president hangs on his ability to manipulate the headship of committees.

Usually, the process is handled by a special body known as the Selection Committee, which consists of the Senate president, his deputy, the majority leader, minority leader and all other principal officers. If down the road anything goes wrong however, aggrieved lawmakers naturally go for the jugular of the Senate president. Beyond the façade of legislative service to fatherland, the appointment of chairmen is ruled by two phrases: juicy committees and non-juicy committees.

A juicy committee is a legislative organ with supervisory powers over government agencies that control huge finances. Just as ministries are tagged Grade A, B, and C, committees likewise are labeled juicy, dry land or Siberia. Juicy ministries have big budgets and agencies that generate a lot of revenue. Ministers in charge are often prefixed as ‘super’ and are the envy of their peers. Similarly, legislative committees overseeing such are regarded as highly favoured for obvious reasons. For instance, the Senate committee on petroleum (upstream or downstream) might not be compared with its counterpart on culture and tourism. Again, the Senate committee on appropriation is considered more inviting than women affairs.

Saraki, the immediate past Senate president, passed the acid test when, within the first legislative year, he reconciled with all aggrieved lawmakers by reshuffling the leadership of the committees.

Senator Kabiru Marafa for instance was taken to the juicy petroleum resources (downstream) committee, while Senator Oluremi Tinubu was lifted from dry women affairs committee to environment. The number of committees began with as little as 30 in 1999. Currently, it is 69! Thanks to the unending pressure to pacify unending chairmanship agitations. The Senate in the United States, a world superpower, has 21 standing committees.

But aware that he must contain the simmering tension, Lawan has already begun promising upset senators that a review is in the horizon. How well he succeeds at this will be seen in the days to come. There was an attempt to carry ranking senators along in the current placements announced by Lawan. Many in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), however, were left unhappy.

Forty-nine positions were allocated to APC senators. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got the remainder. Also, the northwest geopolitical zone had 16; southwest, 13; northeast, 11; north central, 10; south-south, 10; and southeast, 9. The chairmanship of 16 out of the 23 standing committees considered juicy went to APC senators while their PDP counterparts got the remaining seven.

Already, some faceless senators under the aegis of ‘Ninth Senate Group For Good Governance’ have accused the leadership of the chamber of reneging on its campaign promises. They regretted that despite their moral and financial support to ensure Lawan emerged as Senate president, the committees assigned to them fell short of their expectations.

A statement they issued reads in part: “We are some of the senators who contributed our quota in the build-up to your emergence as president of the Ninth Senate. “You know very well that those who know you closely did everything possible to dissuade many of us. Many of your opponents raised a lot of questions, trying to convince us. We kept away all doubts and vigorously stood by you through thick and thin. “You promised many of us good committees, knowing how hard we tried. Many of us tried to pin you down to specifics but you kept shifting the date of the announcement until the date of our departure for recess. When we come back from recess, this issue shall be raised and must be addressed.”

Some lawmakers actually confirmed that the development was tearing apart the camp of Lawan’s loyalists. According to one, “The issue is generating a serious crisis as some loyalists of the Senate president are accusing the leadership of favouring people from the north at the detriment of their southern counterparts.”

But Senate spokesman, Adedayo Adeyeye, dismissed insinuations about juicy committees. He told reporters : “You journalists talk about juicy and non-juicy committees. In any case, juicy or non-juicy, I believe that it is a call to duty for senators to serve their fatherland and serve the nation meritoriously. So, in whatever capacity anybody has been placed, he has been called upon to merely render service.” “If you have 69 committees, there is no way about seven people who want to be chairman of a particular committee could get it. Only one person would be appointed. The Senate president has done everything possible to keep the Senate together and as such, there should not be any form of rancour on the issue either now or when we resume.”

The representatives of some civil society organisations meanwhile have criticised the lawmakers’ alleged desperation to head committees. “The cause is essentially the greed with which they go to the National Assembly. Most of them are not there to serve the country. They are essentially there for their personal interest,” said Jude Ohanele, Programme Director of Development Dynamics.

Similarly, National Coordinator, Think Tank on Parliamentary Procedures and Enhancement, Baale Angus, noted: “The problem is multi-dimensional. It is unfortunate that most of the time, when the National Assembly tries to elect its leaders, there has been serious interference by the executive arm of government. “This is one thing that has been causing trouble. It is why whoever eventually emerges tries to do everything to patronise his colleagues with committees, to prevent the executive from hijacking and using them against him. And that is why the list of committees keeps growing too. The executive should stop interfering in senators’ affairs.”

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