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CSO urges Abbas to jettison alleged plan to create 145 standing committees



The African Parliamentary Advocacy and Reform Group (APARG), a civil society organisation , has called on the leadership of the House of Representatives to jettison the alleged plan to create 145 Standing Committees.

The Director of the group, Amb. Chibuzo Okereke, in an open letter on Wednesday, urged the Speaker Tajudeen Abbas to “strongly resist“ the alleged plan and to reduce the committees to 60 for effectiveness and easy management of legislative work.

According to him, APARG has credible information suggesting that the 10th House of Representatives may increase the committees from the 109 in the 9th House to 145.

“Over the years, especially since 1999 and the 4th National Assembly, the House of Representatives Standing Committees have been progressively fragmented, proliferated and balkanised with each new assembly.

“This is largely due to political considerations and patronage over legislative effectiveness and productivity.

“The trend in political decisions to progressively increase the quantity of the standing committees rather than the quality of the committees has resulted in a serious decline in legislative assertiveness, effectiveness, productivity and value for money.

“This has led to weak oversight design, low participation of members in the numerous perceived low-grade committees, conflicts in the exercise of legislative oversight powers on executive agencies.

He said it had also led to “committees’ incapacity, distress on the limited infrastructure for committee meetings and continuous low perception of citizens on the significance of the governance role of the National Assembly to Nigerians.

“What is worst, Mr Speaker, is that most of the committees due to the scarce resources of the institution of the National Assembly, are overburdened and risk nearly 100 per cent dependence on the executive agencies which they oversight as a source for operational survival in performing their constitutional functions,” he said.

Okereke said that the committee system was the engine room and the life-wire of any productive legislature globally.

According to him, it has been rightly stated that the legislature at plenary is the legislature in an exhibition, while the legislature at the committees is the legislature at work.

He said that the “excessive fragmentation“ and the proliferation of the committee system without consideration of the important principles of robustness and effectiveness weaken the House of Representatives.

Okereke said that an empirical analysis of the 109 standing committees of the 9th House of Representatives showed that several of the committees did not hold any meetings nor performed any significant legislative activities throughout the life span of the 9th Assembly.

According to him, some of them held meetings only about three times in the entire four years.

He urged the speaker to change the tide to engender an effective and productive oversight system and improve the image and perception of the National Assembly.

Okereke said that parliaments in countries such as Germany, France, US, India, Thailand, Romania, Canada, Argentina, Portugal, Senegal, Australia, Japan, UK, Ghana and Kenya have between eight and 48 standing committees.

“Our professional advice is for Mr Speaker and the leadership to jettison the alleged plan to create 145 standing committees.

“Rather, Mr Speaker should drastically reduce the existing 109 committees to about 60 standing committees for effective management, efficiency and measured productivity,” he said.


Tribunal upholds Gov. Alia’s election



Gov Alia Hyacinth Alia

The Benue State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Makurdi on Saturday upheld the victory of Gov. Hyacinth Alia of the APC in the March 18 Governorship Election.

Delivering the judgment, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Ibrahim Karaye, held that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain pre election issues raised by the petitioners, Titus Uba and PDP.

Karaye, who read the unanimous judgment, stated that only the Federal High Court had the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain issues bordering on pre-election matters.

He further said the petitioners’ case was also an abuse of court processes because the same case was filed by the petitioners before the Federal High Court Abuja Division and its judgment was not challenged by the petitioners.

He said the petitioners lacked locus standi to challenge the nomination of the 2nd and 3rd respondents by the 4th respondent since they were not members of the 4th respondent.

Justice Karaye further said that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of forgery against the 3rd respondent before the tribunal.

He said the 2nd and 3rd respondents were qualified to contest the March 18 Governorship Election and therefore, dismissed the case.

The petitioners, Titus Uba and the PDP, had dragged the respondents, INEC, Hyacinth Alia, Dr Sam Ode, and the APC before the tribunal, challenging their declaration by the INEC.

The petitioners argued that the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Gov Alia and Dr Ode, were at the time of contesting the election, not qualified to contest the March 18 Governorship Election.

They averred that the 4th respondent – the APC – did not follow the provisions of the law in the nomination of the governorship and deputy governorship candidates.

They also alleged that the 3rd respondent had presented a forged certificate to the 1st respondent, INEC, therefore, should be disqualified.

They, therefore, prayed among other things, for the nullification of their election and declare the petitioners as winners of the election, having scored second highest lawful votes.

The also contended that having not qualified to contest the election, their votes should be declared invalid and certificates earlier issued to them by INEC be withdrawn.

NAN reports that the petitioners in the suit did not challenge the result of the March 18 Benue Governorship Election but qualifications of the candidates.

However, the respondents in their counter arguments, urged the tribunal to dismiss the suit in its entirety as it was an abuse of court processes.

The respondents stated that the Federal High Court Abuja Division, had before the election, delivered judgment on the same matter which was filed by the petitioners but they did not appeal the judgment till date.

They also said that the issues raised were all pre election matter and only the Federal High Court had the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain same.

The 2nd and 3rd respondents clearly stated that since the prayers sought by the petitioners were all pre-election matters, the petitioners case was status bar and should be struck out.

They said the petitioners lacked locus standi to challenge the nomination of candidates of other political parties as they were mere meddlesome interlopers.

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Court stops PDP from dissolving Rivers chapter EXCOS



A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, restrained the national body of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from dissolving the Rivers’ chapter of the State Executive Committee (SEC) over alleged anti-party activities.

Delivering judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo, said he found that the case of the plaintiff, Mr Desmond Akawo, succeeded on merit.

Akawo, the Rivers’ PDP Chairman, had sued the party and Dr Iyorchia Ayu (the immediate-past National Chairman representing himself and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and National Executive Committee (NEC)) as 1st and 2nd defendants.

The plaintiff also joined the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 3rd defendant in the amended originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/112/2023 and filed on March 9 by his counsel, Dr Joshua Musa, SAN.

Akawo sought the court’s determination whether having regard to the provisions of Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 47(1) of the Constitution of the PDP (as amended In 2017), they were not entitled to serve our their term.

He said he and other members of the SEC, the LGA executive committees and the ward executive committee were elected and sworn-in pursuant to the state’s congress held on March 21, 2020 and were entitled to complete their four-year term which expires on or about May 22, 2024.

Akawo, in the affidavit which he personally deposed to, averred that the PDP ans its national chairman on Jan. 4, prior to the general elections, threatened to unilaterally dissolve the Rivers’ chapter of SEC and replace the same with an Interim Caretaker Committee.

He, however, said that prior to the threat, neither any member of the state committee nor himself had ever been queried by them.

He, therefore, sought an order of injunction restraining the party and the national chairman from dissolving, suspending or truncating the tenure of the Rivers’ SEC, the LGA executive committees and the ward executive committees until May 22, 2024, when their four-year term would expire, among other reliefs.

Justice Ekwo held that the PDP and its national chairman did not deny Akawo’s averments.

“Essentially, the 1st and 2nd defendants have admitted the case of the plaintiff on this issue.

“The law is that facts admitted need no further proof;” he said.

The judge, who granted all Akawo’s reliefs, declared that the party and its national chairman cannot unilaterally and without reasonable cause, dissolve the state’s EXCOs who were democratically elected for a four-year period.

He also gave an order of injunction, restraining them from appointing any person or group of persons as interim caretaker committee in the state until May 22, 2024.

Justice Ekwo further gave an injunction order restraining INEC from according recognition or accepting any name as caretaker committee of the PDP in the state except those democratically elected and represented by Akawo in the suit.

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