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SERAP Seeks UN Help over Justice Odili Saga

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Justice Odili

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the United Nations over what it described as a vicious assault on Justice Mary Odili.

SERAP in a petition dated November 13, 2021, by its deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare specifically urged Mr Diego García-Sayán, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to “put pressure on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to conduct a credible, thorough, impartial, independent, transparent, and effective investigation into the vicious assault on Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili by rogue officials.”

SERAP also urged him to “ask the Nigerian government to ensure that any investigation into the assault is based on human rights principles and protected from undue influence. The outcome of the investigation must be made public, and the suspected perpetrators and their sponsors brought to justice.”

SERAP’s petition followed the recent invasion of Justice Odili’s Maitama, Abuja residence by armed personnel.

The organisation said: “The intimidation and harassment of Justice Odidi is a flagrant assault on judicial independence, and apparently aimed at further weakening judicial independence and the rule of law in Nigeria.”

SERAP said: “The unconscionable attacks against Nigerian judges would seem to be a deliberate attempt by the authorities to exert pressure on the judiciary and undermine its independence and authority. These attacks are putting Nigerians’ freedoms at risk.”

According to the body, “The current investigation by the Nigerian police fails to meet international standards, as it is neither independent nor effective. As such, the investigation is incapable of identifying all the suspected perpetrators and their sponsors, and credibly delivering justice in the matter.”

The petition, read in part: “We urge you to push for the adoption of a resolution by the Human Rights Council to establish an international, independent, and impartial investigative mechanism into the attack on Justice Odili, and other unresolved cases of intimidation and harassment of the judiciary, and assault on the rule of law in Nigeria since May 29, 2015.

“An international investigation into the cases of intimidation and harassment of judges in Nigeria will meet the highest international standards and best practices, and assist the Nigerian authorities to take steps to improve respect for the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, and access to justice for victims of human rights.

“If not urgently addressed, the attacks, intimidation and harassment of the judiciary may render judges unable to defend the rule of law, to provide accountability for the many gross human rights violations in the country, or to protect the rights of the Nigerian people.

“Nigerian authorities have a legal obligation to take measures to protect the independence of the judiciary and ensure the safety and security of individual judges.

“SERAP urges you to visit Nigeria to carry out a mission to investigate cases of intimidation and harassment of judges, assess the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, and continue to monitor the situation.

“The proposed visit would help to support the efforts to bring Nigeria’s justice system in line with international standards, and free of political interference.

“Nigerian authorities continue to fail to thoroughly, impartially, independently, transparently and effectively investigate cases of attacks, intimidation and harassment of judges, the very people who protect and guarantee human rights.

“While the Nigerian authorities have arrested some of the suspected perpetrators, at least ten more persons reportedly involved in the assault on Justice Odili are still at large.

“Independence of the judiciary is enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], and under human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

“The attack on Justice Odili is not an isolated incident. There have been several violations of judicial independence and the rule of law in the country. In 2016, for example, Nigerian authorities reportedly invaded in the middle of the night the homes of some judges of the Federal High Court and Justices of the Supreme Court.

“The authorities have so far failed and/or refused to identify those suspected to be responsible and to bring them to justice.

“An independent judiciary is essential to the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law. The principles of independence are the hallmarks of the rationale and the legitimacy of the judicial function in every State. Their absence leads to a denial of justice and makes the credibility of the judicial process dubious.

“It is the principle of the separation of powers, together with the rule of law, that opens the way to an administration of justice that provides guarantees of independence and transparency.

“As expressed in the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, “Judicial independence is a prerequisite to the rule of law and a fundamental guarantee of a fair trial.”

“According to our information, on Friday, October 29, 2021, some people claiming to be soldiers and policemen, invaded the Abuja home of Justice Mary Odili. The perpetrators identified themselves as members of a government joint task force, and used a fraudulently obtained search warrant to attempt to gain access into Justice Odili’s residence.”

“The perpetrators claimed they had information that illegal activities were going on in the residence.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Oyo Begs 1,115 C of O Applicants to Come for Collection

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C of O Applicants

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Those who applied for certificates of occupancy (C of O) in Oyo State have been urged to come forward for collection at Room 4, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

This appeal was made by the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr Olayiwola Olusegun Emmanuel, on Friday.

The Commissioner disclosed that since he assumed office about a month ago, he has signed not less than 1,606 C of Os but only 491 have been collected.

He, therefore, appealed the 1,115 outstanding C of O applicants to come forward to pick them up as they have been approved by Governor Seyi Makinde and duly signed.

“The Governor Seyi Makinde led administration has been working hard to make sure he fulfils his promises to the good people of Oyo State.

“This is why measures are being put in place to make sure that everyone collects their title documents with ease and within a stipulated period,” the Commissioner stated.

Mr Emmanuel admitted that though the cabinet reshuffle that took place in the third quarter of 2021 caused a slight delay in the issuance of the certificates, all processed and duly signed certificates are ready for collection by the applicants.

“We, therefore, enjoin the applicants to visit our office at Room 4, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and collect their Certificates of Occupancy.

“We also appeal to members of the public to respond timely to our officials when their attention is needed to avoid further delay in processing. We hereby apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused our applicants,” he added.

“All complaints should be made at our Customer Care office at Room 4, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Agodi, Ibadan or call Customer Care on 0700 696 52637. You can also email us at lands@oyostate.gov.ng,” he concluded.

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Kaduna Announces Restoration of Telecommunications Services

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Kaduna Economy

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Kaduna State Government has announced the restoration of telecommunications services more than a month after it was shut down on the orders of the state security council.

This was disclosed by the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan on Friday.

He said the restoration of full services in the affected areas may unfold over a few days, as the service providers are mobilised to power their transmission systems accordingly.

Mr Aruwan noted that the state government regrets the inconveniences residents of the affected LGAs may have encountered as a result of the shutdown, and also commended the sacrifices made while the shutdown lasted.

Notwithstanding, the government reiterated that the other measures announced as part of the security containment orders remain in force.

These include the prohibition of motorcycles all over the state, the ban on weekly markets, transportation of cattle, and the prohibition of the sale of fuel in jerrycans in specified Local Government Areas.

The state government had put those measures in place as part of efforts to address the rising spate of insecurity not only in Kaduna but in neighbouring states in the North-West and North-Central regions.

Recall that in September 2021, the Kaduna Government had shut down telecommunication services in some local government areas of the state as part of critical measures towards ending banditry.

Speaking then, Mr Aruwan explained that the move was part of many steps taken to address the current security situation in Kaduna State and neighbouring states in the North-West and North-Central regions.

“The relevant federal agencies have today informed the Kaduna State Government that the processes for telecoms shutdown in parts of the state have commenced.

“As part of the steps to address the current security situation in Kaduna State and neighbouring states in the North-West and North-Central, Kaduna State State Government has held several meetings with security agencies to adopt critical measures towards crushing bandits in identified hideouts,” he had stated.

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Poor Leadership: Principal or Instrumental Explanation for Nigeria’s Underdevelopment?

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Poor Leadership

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

There is no gainsaying that Nigeria is plagued with development challenges such as widespread poverty, insecurity, corruption, the gross injustice and ethnic politics.

Also, evidence abounds that the nation is in dire need of attention/support from interventionist’s organisations (private and civil society organisations) to help unleash economic development,  promotes growth and structural change, with some measures of distributive equity, modernisation in social and cultural attitudes, a degree of political transformation and stability, an improvement in health and education so that population growth stabilizes, and an increase in urban living and employment.

What is yet to be uncovered is/are the principal and instrumental factors that set the stage for this unending national malady, as well as give it a boost to thrive unhindered in the country.

To many, corruption is the principal factor exacerbating the nation’s underdevelopment. It is the single reason Nigeria has remained underdeveloped. Corruption has eaten so deep into the fabric of the nation, so much so that it has become a threat to the very existence of the nation.

Talking about corruption is almost like wasting precious time on an issue that has come to stay and not in any hurry to leave. To some, the challenge is rooted in the ‘Federal Character Principle’ which was introduced into the 1979 Constitution, to among other responsibilities; promote peace, stability, sharing of power and resources amongst the states, has contrary to expectations failed to achieve the primed principle but, lowered education standards in the country, compromised standards and professionalism in the nation’s civil service by ignoring meritocracy.

The rest are on the one hand, particularly of the view that the existence of weak institutions daily undermined by strong figures, region and ‘political Maradonas’ breeds national mediocrity.

Others on the other hand blame the nation’s deformed Federal System which has not only made the centre more attractive with federating states stripped of valuable responsibilities/autonomy but made the nation stand in an inverted pyramid shape with more power concentrated at the top and the base not formidable enough making collapse inevitable if urgent and fundamental steps are not taken,

Definitely, this piece agrees with most of the reasons above being responsible for the situation/challenge in the country. However, I would like to add to what I have just observed above that the problem in the country would need to be looked at in a wider and, indeed, deeper context of the evolution and development in the wider human society particularly in Nigeria where corruption has held all square bound.

At this point, the question may be asked; what impact has leadership had on the development of the nation?  Are political leaders in Nigeria patrons or profiteers?

Again, looking at the multiple layers of formal and informal political leadership in post-colonial Nigeria where political leaders are the primary holders, controllers and distributors of power and resources, it elicits the question as to whether poor leadership is a principal or instrumental factor impeding the development of the country?

To add to the contest, talking about principal or instrumental factors impeding the development, Sylvester Enomah clarifies the concern in his book entitled ‘the Nature of Metaphysics’.

According to him, as the term designates it, instrumental cause means a thing or instrument that aids the agent or the principal cause in the process of causation and in the achieving of the effect.

In this case, the instrument is subordinate to the principal cause for direction, principles and initiative. The instrumental cause is handicapped in determining the nature and the character or the type of effect the principal cause intends.

Secondly, the effect is always attributed to the principal cause. The principal cause is intelligent and has the knowledge of what should be the effect of the cause; the instrumental cause may be unintelligent and may not know what may happen or be the effect of the cause. Even if the instrumental cause knows, it is not responsible for the effect of the causality as such.

The instrumental cause is not responsible on the condition that it is a non-living entity, and if it is a living thing, it is at the lower level of existence, for instance, lower animals like dogs. If the living entity is a man, the effect is not attributed to him, or he is not responsible on the condition that he is handicapped, i.e. he cannot hear, think, see, and smell, reason, mentally depraved, underage or under threat.

From the above explanation, it is deductible in my views that leadership challenge is the principal factor responsible for Nigeria’s underdevelopment while corruption, a system of government are but instrumental reasons.

Even Barrister Lee Kuen Yew, pioneer prime minister of Singapore shares similar views.

Let’s listen to him; my experience of developments in Asia has led me to conclude that we need good people to have a good government. However good the system of government, bad leaders will bring harm to their people.

On the other hand, I have seen several societies well-governed in spite of poor systems of government, because good, strong leaders were in charge. I have also seen so many of the over 80 constitutions drafted by Britain and France for their former colonies come to grief, and not because of flaws in the constitutions. It was simply that the preconditions for a democratic system of government did not exist.

Again, sometime in May 2016, the Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, described Nigeria and Afghanistan as “fantastically corrupt” in a con­versation with the Queen. Cameron had said, “We’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain… Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.”

Closely related to the above is the reality that the managers of our nation’s economy continue to go against the provisions of the constitutions as an attempt to disengage governance from public sector control of the economy has only played into waiting hands of the profiteers of goods and services to the detriment of the Nigerian people.

While the nation continues to lie prostrate and diminish socially and economically with grinding poverty and starvation driving more and more men into the ranks of the beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders them insensible to all feelings of decency and self-respect, the privileged political few continue to flourish in obscene and splendour as they pillage and ravage the resources of our country at will.

Finally, the truth is that if nothing is done to alleviate this appealing situation, it will hopelessly confirm why the nation is stumbling.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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