The Lagos State House of Assembly reconvened for an emergency parliamentary session on Wednesday where it declared Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode may be impeached over alleged financial infractions in the 2018 budget and the yet-to-be-laid 2019 Appropriation Bill.
The House had on Monday adjourned till Feb. 4, after summoning the governor and relevant commissioners to appear before it in seven days to explain themselves.
The lawmakers said if they failed to show up, gathering of signatures for the governor’s impeachment would begin.
Following the threat, about five different groups staged peaceful protests to the House on Wednesday, demanding that the House should desist from any attempt to impeach Ambode.
In another development, a group, the Legislative Probity and Accountability (LPA) asked the Assembly to account for the N28.8 billion allegedly collected as running cost.
Reacting on behalf of the House at a news conference after Wednesday’s emergency meeting, the Majority Leader, Mr Sanai Agunbiade said that the House was not witch-hunting Ambode, but wanted due process on the appropriation bill.
Agunbiade said that the House would apply the maximum sanction on the governor if he failed to utilise the window of one week given to him to appear before the House for explanations.
According to him, the House is doing all in the interest of the public and the tax payers’ money.
The majority leader said it was illegal for the governor to start spending budget estimates without the appropriation bill being first laid before the House.
“We are responding to various groups that have come today to appeal to the House in respect of what they heard and the seeming impasse between the executive and the House.
“We decided to correct the misconceptions and wrong information that have been fed the public.
“We wish to state clearly that today, about five groups paid visit to Lagos Assembly to plead with the House not to impeach the governor.
“The issue before us is not whether or not we want Gov. Ambode to end his tenure. He is still the governor of Lagos State and we take him as the governor.
“We want the public to know that the major issue in contention is the 2019 appropriation bill, which by now we feel should have been before the House,’’ Agunbiade said.
Agunbiade said that the House waited for the budget in December but did not get it.
“Unless the budget is laid before the House, there is no budget before the House of Assembly,’’ he said.
The lawmaker added: “We were willing to take the budget, but we didn’t have the budget.
“We now discovered that expenditures are being incurred and warrants have been issued in respect of the budget that has not been laid before the House.
“This we found inappropriate, and before this also, we have found some infractions in the 2018 budget, where we discovered that some expenditures were made outside the budget without the approval of the House.
“We have to make these clarifications so as to let the public know that what is going on is not witch-hunting.
“We are legislators and we must do things properly. The government must be well funded; why should we be managing when we can make things work freely?
“The House of Assembly is doing all these in the interest of the state and the intent that we want Lagos to continue to flourish, but we cannot compromise the constitution.’’
#Nigeria Decides:NYSC warns corp members against gratification
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has again warned corps members against collecting gratification while on election duty, saying that anyone caught would be prosecuted.
Director-General of the corps, Maj. Gen. Suleiman Kazaure, gave the warning yesterday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during the final phase of his nationwide sensitization programme for corps members participating in The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has again warned corps members against collecting gratification while on election duty, saying that anyone caught would be prosecuted
Director-General of the corps, Maj. Gen. Suleiman Kazaure, gave the warning yesterday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during the final phase of his nationwide sensitization programme for corps members participating in the election.
Represented by NYSC Assistant Director, Human Resources, Mrs. Franca Olaleye, the NYSC boss said corps members must be diligent and upright in the course of their duty. “You are expected to handle this critical assignment with a high sense of patriotism, responsibility, and integrity.
“Your participation in the election as presiding and assistant presiding officers creates a unique opportunity to demonstrate the leadership skills, life molding and best practice you have been imbued with.
“You must bring to bear the value of training you have received from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the NYSC.
“Therefore, as agents of the democratic process, you are hereby charged to be transparent and neutral in your conduct before, during and after the elections.
“You must not collect any form of gratification from anybody. If you are caught you will be apprehended and prosecuted’’, Kazaure said.
He therefore, appealed to corps members and NYSC staff not to compromise but strive to uphold the corporate integrity which NYSC is known.
Ogun NYSC State Coordinator, Mrs. Josephine Bakare, said logistics arrangement had been finalised, adding that the welfare of all NYSC staff and corps members participating in the election would be adequately taken care of.
Nigeria Decides: All land borders to be closed at 12noon
Federal Government has ordered all land borders to be shut with effect from 12.00noon today to 12.00noon tomorrow.
Minister of Interior Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), who gave the order, said there would be a restriction of movements across the borders during the election days.
Also yesterday, the Acting Inspector-General (IG), Muhammed Adamu, ordered the restriction of vehicular movement on the election day.
A statement issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Comptroller-General Muhammad Babandede: “Further to the presidential election taking place on the February, 16, 2019, the Honourable Minister of Interior has directed the closure of all Nigerian land borders with effect from 12.00noon of Friday, February 15 to 12.00noon of Sunday, February 17, 2019.
“This is to restrict movements across the borders during the election days. The public is to take note and ensure compliance.”
Falana, PDP condemn Malami
Femi Falana (SAN) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have faulted the Attorney General for the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on his letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In the said letter, Malami had advised INEC to postpone the general elections in Zamfara State, to accommodate a ruling of the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal, purportedly directing the electoral body to allow the Zamfara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) field candidates for the upcoming elections.
Falana said by virtue of Section 158 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, INEC “shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority or person”.
The lawyer said: “Furthermore, the proviso to Section 160 of the amended Constitution states that the powers of INEC ‘to make its own rules or otherwise regulate its own procedures shall not be subject to the approval or control of the President’.
“Therefore, the AGF lacks the vires to advise or direct INEC to postpone the elections scheduled to hold in any state of the federation. Since the judgment of the Court of Appeal on the nomination of APC candidates in Zamfara State admits of no ambiguity, INEC is advised to do the needful and ignore the directive of the AGF on the conduct of the elections.”
Also yesterday, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, described the AGF’s letter to INEC as part of APC’s design to arm-twist the commission and the judiciary to take illegal actions in their favour.
Addressing a news conference at the Legacy House, the party’s Abuja campaign office, Secondus said what the AGF was seeking is not backed by law.
Buhari says foreign observers are welcome
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja, dissociated his government from threats of death and intimidation against international observers from some individuals in the country, saying such acts did not represent the position of the federal government.
Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, had recently threatened that international observers who dared to interfere in Nigeria’s elections would return to their countries in body bags.
In the same vein, the spokesman of the president’s campaign organization, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, and presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, had persistently warned and threatened foreign countries not to intervene in the conduct of the elections.
Such remarks had generated reactions from both the international community and many Nigerians.
Consequently, Buhari promised to ensure the safety of foreign observers during the elections and restated his promise to ensure that this general election beginning tomorrow would be free, fair and peaceful, recalling how he had himself been a beneficiary of free polls by the former administration.
Buhari, who gave those assurances in a nationwide broadcast last night ahead of tomorrow’s presidential election, appealed to Nigerians to turn out very well during the elections and cast their votes.
He recalled how he had signed the peace accord with other presidential candidates and assured stakeholders that he would guarantee the conduct of the polls in a peaceful atmosphere.
He urged citizens to be part of the commitment to peaceful conduct of the polls and admonished the youth not to allow themselves to be used to perpetrate election violence, saying those who may want to use them for such heinous act only want to discredit the elections because of their fear of losing.
Reiterating that citizens have the responsibility to promote peace in their neighborhoods during the polls, Buhari reasoned that this election period is not the time to allow their participation to be driven by ethnic, religious and sectional sentiments.
He said: “And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.
“Let me at this point; reaffirm the commitment of the federal government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.
“I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”