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.’’
Supreme court dismisses Atiku server suit
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 election, Atiku Abubakar, seeking to Inspect the central server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for lacking in merit.
The apex court held that the request lacked merit because it was brought by Atiku after the parties had joined issues on the existence or otherwise of the server.
According to the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Chima Nweze, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal was in order in refusing to grant Atiku’s request at the time it was made so as not to prejudice other parties in the matter.
In addition, the apex court held that the appeal lacked merit because the appellants failed to prove how the decision of the tribunal was unfair to them.
Justice Nweze said a party can only complain of the lack of fair hearing when discretion of court was wrongly or arbitrarily used by the court, adding that in this instant case the tribunal used its discretion judicially and judiciously.
“I see no reason to depart from the decision of the lower court, the appeal is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed,” the judge held.
Supreme Court set to rule on INEC server
The Supreme Court has suspended proceedings to rule on an appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last presidential election, for permission to be allowed access to a supposed server owned by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) had on June 24, 2019, dismissed an application by Atiku and the PDP requesting permission to have access to the central server, which they claimed INEC used for the February 23 poll.
It is the decision of June 24 that Atiku and the PDP now appealed at the Supreme Court.
A panel of the Supreme Court (led by Justice Datijo Mohammed after taking arguments from Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, (for the appellants); Yunus Usman, SAN, (for INEC); Wole Olanipekun, SAN, (for President Muhammadu Buhari) and Charles Edosomwan, SAN, (for the All Progressives Congress), rose briefly to consider the arguments and return for its decision.
The Election Petition Court, at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, had, while dismissing the application by Atiku and the PDP, held that INEC, having denied the existence of the said server and insisted that results of the election were not electronically transmitted into any server as claimed by the petitioners (Atiku and PDP), granting the application would amount to deciding the central issue in the petition at the interlocutory stage.
The court’s Presiding Justice, Justice Mohammed Garba, who read the ruling, added that granting the application would imply that the court had “indeed recognised and found out that there is a central server into which results of the held on February 23, 2019 were electronically transmitted by the 1st respondent (INEC).”
Buhari tasks ministers on team work
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja told ministers-designate that they must work as a team, stressing that his administration would rely on them to implement policies and programs to lift Nigerians out of poverty.
The president also described as frightening Nigeria’s “looming” population status, which he put at 200 million today but has been estimated by the United Nations (UN) to rise to 411 million by 2050.
He told the would-be ministers in Abuja at the opening of the two-day retreat for them that “working as a team demands that we know what the next person is doing.”
The retreat is to familiarise the incoming cabinet members with governance process and to let them know expectations of them.
The retreat also began on a day the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, refused to grant an order by indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) seeking to stop the president from swearing in the 43 ministers-designate.
In his speech at the retreat, Buhari said: “As ministers, I am counting on you together with advisers and Nigerians willing and able to contribute to building upon our road map of policies, programs, and projects that will lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and set them on the road to prosperity.
“Our administration’s eight years will have laid the grounds for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. This outcome will fundamentally shift Nigeria’s trajectory and place us among the world’s great nations.”
The president also told participants at the retreat to see their appointments as a great privilege and to ensure that they put in their best because Nigeria needs frontline individuals to address its many challenges.
He warned them to prepare for arduous commitments, which would require long hours of work and acute labor all geared towards optimal performance.
Buhari seized the occasion to give account of activities of his administration in the first term.
He said: “First – we have rolled back the frontiers of terrorism; we are actively addressing other challenges such as kidnappings, farmer-herder violence, improving the safety of our roads, railways, air traffic and fire control capacities.
“Second – we are steadily turning the economy round through investment in agriculture and manufacturing, shoring up our foreign reserves, curbing inflation and improving the country’s infrastructure.
“Third – on corruption, we have recovered hundreds of billions of stolen assets and are actively pursuing control measures to tackle leakages in public resources. We will not let up in fighting corruption.”
BREAKING: S’Court strikes out Atiku, PDP suit
The Supreme Court has struck out an appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last presidential election.
The appeal marked SC/738/2019 was filed against a ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), in which it held that the Atiku and the PDP do not have a reply to an application filed on May 14, 2019, by the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking among others, the dismissal of their (Atiku and the PDP) challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the last presidential election.
In a ruling on Tuesday, a five-man panel led by Justice Datijo Mohammed struck out the appeal for having become statute-barred.
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