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Posts tagged ‘Attorney general’

Court orders the leader of MEND Charles Okah for psychiatrist test.


Charles-Tombrah-Okah

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Wednesday, ordered Charles Okah, who is a younger brother to ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Henry, be subjected to a psychiatric test.

The court directed that the test should be conducted with a view to ascertaining if Charles who is currently answering to a criminal allegation bothering on terrorism, is fit to stand trial.

Okah, alongside one Obi Nwabueze, are facing trial over the 2010 Independence Day twin bomb blasts at the Eagle Square, which caused the death of about 12 people, leaving several others injured.

It will be recalled that one of the alleged masterminds of the bombing, Mr Osvwo Tekemfa Francis, a.k.a ‘General-Gbokos’, died in prison while the trial was going on, even as the high court, in a separate judgment, jailed one of the accused persons, Edmund Ebiware, to life imprisonment.

All the accused persons were said to have superintended over varying terrorist activities that hitherto took place within the oil rich Niger Delta region of the country, including the bomb explosion that rocked a post amnesty programme that was organised by Vanguard Newspaper in Warri, Delta State.

Meanwhile, Charles, who has since gone to the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court to challenge his trial, was yesterday brought to court in a wheel chair by prison officials.

His lawyer, Mr John Ainetor, told the court that his client’s health condition has deteriorated, maintaining that Charles, who shook uncontrollably while inside the wheel chair yesterday, could no longer walk.

He alleged that the prison authorities denied him of adequate medical care, say6ing it was the sole reason why the accused, despite spirited efforts, could not stand in t6he dock yesterday.

In his response, the prosecutor, Dr Alex Iziyon, SAN, maintained that the accused person was deliberately trying to hoodwink the court into believing that he is not fit to stand trial.

Iziyon argued that the legal requirement that the accused must be fit to stand trial does not imply that he must be able to stand on his feet in court.

He contended that the law stipulated that he must be of sound mind and be conscious enough to understand happenings around him.

Iziyon, citing the case of former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, who was taken to court while in bed, and in a cage, and noted that if the law could allow a former president to be so treated, Okah, an ordinary citizen cannot hid under a doubtful claim of ill-health to evade trial.

He argued that the claim of ill-health was a part of the defence counsel’s strategy to continue to delay trial.

However, Justice Kolawole, drew attention of the lawyer to a medical report that was written on Okah by the prison authorities, which was equally endorsed by the Chief Consultant Neurologists at the National Hospital, Abuja.

Part of the report by the medical experts at the National Hospital was to the effect that by his conduct, there was need to subject Okah to Psychiatric evaluation, to ascertain his mental state.

Consequently, the court held that in view of such expert opinion, there was need to ascertain the exact mental status of the accused person.

“I am ready to exercise a little more patient”, the judge stated, even as he ordered that the accused be taken to the National Hospital for psychiatric evaluation within seven days from today.

The judge equally ordered that the report of the examination should be made available to the court through the court’s Deputy Registrar (Litigation).

He held that should it turn out that the accused (Okah) is not mentally stable enough to be subjected to trial, he should be transferred to a psychiatric home where he will remain until he is certified fit for trial.

The judge further held that the bill for the treatment and examination of the accused person should be paid by the Federal Government through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), just as the case was adjourned till January 15.

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

Source: Radio Biafra.

Holder: I Wouldn’t Be AG Without 1963 Marchers.


Attorney General Eric Holder says the spirit of the 1963 March on Washington now demands equal rights for gays, Latinos, women and people with disabilities.

Speaking before tens of thousands of people on the National Mall, the nation’s first black attorney general praised those who faced repression and brutality to march a half century ago. He thanked them for standing up to “racist governments and governors.”

Without them, he said, he’d never be the attorney general and Barack Obama would not be president.

The anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s “I Have a Dream” speech is Wednesday but anniversary events began Saturday morning. Organizers expected about 100,000 people.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

US Moves to Block US Airways, American Airlines Merger.


Image: US Moves to Block US Airways, American Airlines Merger

The Justice Department and a number of state attorneys general on Tuesday challenged a proposed $11 billion merger between US Airways Group Inc. and American Airlines‘ parent company, AMR Corp.

The Justice Department says the deal would result in the creation of the world’s largest airline and that a combination of the two companies would reduce competition for commercial air travel in local markets and would result in passengers paying higher airfares and receive less service.

The federal government and the state attorneys general filed a lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking to prevent the companies from making the deal.

A spokesman for US Airways had no immediate comment. American Airlines did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Editor’s Note: ‘This Wasn’t an Accident’ — Experts Testify on Financial Meltdown 

In February, the companies disclosed their plans to create a company with 6,700 daily flights and annual revenue of roughly $40 billion.

Were the deal to be approved, the four biggest U.S. airlines — American, United, Delta and Southwest — would all be the products of mergers that began in 2008. Those deals have helped the industry control seats, push fares higher and return to profitability.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the transaction between US Airways and American would result in “higher airfares, higher fees and fewer choices.”

Last year, business and leisure airline travelers spent more than $70 billion on airfare for travel throughout the United States.

American parent AMR Corp. has cut costs and debt since it filed for bankruptcy protection in late 2011. Pilots from both airlines have agreed on steps that should make it easier to combine their groups under a single labor contract, a big hurdle in many airline mergers.

The attorneys general were from Arizona, Florida, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Rivers Crisis: Evans Chindah Family Wants CJ Of Rivers Queried By The NJC.


Evans Chinda last seen a London hospital
By Saharareporters, New York

The family of the battered member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Michael Okechukwu Chindah, who is currently undergoing medical treatment in London, has petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the “undue interference” of the Chief Judge, Justice Iche Ndu, in the matter.

According to a statement by Chief Evans Chindah, older brother of Hon Chindah, the family resorted to the petition against in order to ensure that justice is done in the case which, he said, the Amaechi Government is twisting to give the impression that his brother was at fault and deserved the violence that Hon Chidi Lloyd visited on him.

Chief Chindah said his family was particularly surprised and sad that instead of pursuing the course of peace, the Chief Judge and the governor do not want the case to go on, and that the Chief Judge is resorting to underground maneuverings to subvert the course of justice.
.
He alleged ‘glaring irregularities’ in the case since Hon Lloyd was brought to court, accusing the Chief Judge and the presiding Judge, Justice Letam Nyordee, of trying to defeat justice through the back door.

Hon Lloyd was brought to court on a six count charge of conspiracy, attempted murder and aggravated assault among others. Chief Chindah alleged that owing chiefly to the desperation of the Amaechi administration to take control of the case prematurely and free Hon Lloyd, the arraignment ran into a hitch for which the court adjourned the matter to 6th August, 2013 for ruling on the interlocutory argument of whether or not the police can engage a private counsel to
prosecute the accused person.

“Surprisingly and in a twist of fate, the Chief Judge, the presiding Judge and the State Government unknown to the defense counsel refixed the case to be heard again on the 31st of July, 2013 instead of the 6th of August,” he said.  “The court heard and ordered exparte that Hon Lloyd be produced in court by the police, knowing full well that the short notice was inappropriate. As predicted Hon Lloyd was not brought to court and we went home dejected.”

Chief Chindah further said he and members of their family are deeply tormented by “this shady development and the desperation of the Rivers State Government to discharge Hon Lloyd at all cost.

“This is evident from the premature scramble by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Mr Worgu Boms to take over the case even before proper arraignment as demonstrated on the first day of the trial,” he declared, pleading with the NJC to call the Rivers State Chief Judge and the presiding Judge to order as justice is not one way traffic.

“All sides to the case deserve justice and that is what our family is asking for and no more,” he said.

GOP Report Assails Holder on Investigations of Journalists.


House Republicans on Wednesday accused Attorney General Eric Holder of giving “deceptive and misleading testimony” to lawmakers when answering questions about the Justice Department‘s criminal probes of journalists, including Fox News’ James Rosen.

A 70-page report by the House Judiciary Committee said Holder sought to “circumvent proper congressional oversight and accountability by distorting the truth about the Justice Department’s investigative techniques targeting journalists,” Politico reports.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, the GOP chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said that Holder, now in his fifth year as attorney general, was failing at his job of running the department.

“I find the lack of leadership at the Department of Justice extremely alarming,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “The deceptive and misleading testimony of Attorney General Holder is unfortunately just the most recent example in a long list of scandals that have plagued the department.

The report — “Journalists or Criminals” — details a 2010 Justice investigation into Rosen, Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent.

The previous year, Rosen had reported on CIA warnings that North Korea was likely to respond to U.N. sanctions with more nuclear tests. This was based on a secret intelligence report issued to fewer than 100 government officials.

Justice officials obtained a search warrant — signed by Holder — and examined Rosen’s telephone records and emails. FBI agents even tracked his movements inside the State Department when he scanned his ID badge into the building’s security system.

In court documents, an FBI agent suggested Rosen “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in violating federal laws prohibiting the leaking of classified information.

And disclosure of the subpoena for such evidence was not to be revealed to Rosen or Fox News.

But Democrats on the Judiciary Committee defended Holder, saying he did not lie in his May 15 appearance before the panel, Politico reports.

“After months of oversight work, the minority staff report makes clear that Attorney General Eric Holder did not provide deceptive or misleading testimony to the Judiciary Committee, and cooperated fully with the investigation into his appearance before the Committee,” said ranking Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan in a report that cleared Holder of any wrongdoing.

Justice officials said the new report was nothing more than another partisan attack on Holder by House Republicans, many of whom have already called on the attorney general to resign over the failed Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.

“The report was produced on a purely partisan basis,” Brian Fallon, the department’s spokesman, told Politico. “Its purported findings are contrary to the record and strongly disputed by many of the committee’s own members.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon

Holder Signals New Push to Gain Control Over State, Local Voting Laws.


Image: Holder Signals New Push to Gain Control Over State, Local Voting Laws

The U.S. Department of Justice plans to ask a federal court to reinstate its authority over voting laws in Texas, part of a new Obama administration strategy to challenge state and local election laws it says discriminate by race, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.”Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder … we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices,” Holder told the annual conference of the National Urban League, a civil rights organization, which is meeting in Philadelphia.

Editor’s Note: Should ObamaCare Be Repealed? Vote in Urgent National Poll 
The Obama administration has been searching for new ways to oppose voting discrimination since the U.S. Supreme Court in June invalidated a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

A 5-4 conservative majority on the high court ruled that a formula used to determine which states and localities were subject to extra federal scrutiny was outdated.

The ruling freed Texas and select other jurisdictions from having to submit their voting laws to the Justice Department before they could take effect.

The covered jurisdictions were mostly in the South, a region where officials had a history of denying minorities the right to vote. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the high court’s ruling that the South had changed dramatically.

Holder’s Justice Department had used the process known as “preclearance” to block, among other laws, a new plan for congressional district lines in Texas drawn after the 2010 U.S. Census. Government lawyers and civil rights groups convinced a court that the map, if it took effect, would have too few black and Hispanic districts.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, said after the Supreme Court ruling that the redistricting plan could then go into effect immediately.

State lawmakers ultimately approved a map that was deemed friendlier to minority populations, though state Democrats still criticize it.

As a first step in its new strategy, the Justice Department plans to make clear it supports a pending lawsuit that racial minorities brought against the redistricting plan in federal court in Texas.

If the court agrees the plan was racially discriminatory, then the Justice Department will ask the court to place Texas back in the preclearance process for an undetermined period of time, according to Holder’s prepared speech.

“This is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Holder, the first black U.S. attorney general, told the group.

The Supreme Court in its June ruling left in place the preclearance process and most other parts of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating only the formula for states and localities to be subjected automatically to extra scrutiny.

Some members of Congress have discussed passing a new formula that would comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling, but they have not done so.

Editor’s Note: Should ObamaCare Be Repealed? Vote in Urgent National Poll 

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

FOI: SERAP Drags FG To Court Over N700bn Expenditure.


Accountant-General of Nigeria, Jonah Otunla
By Adetokunbo Mumuni

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the Federal Government to the Federal High Court, Ikoyi over failure to provide information on the spending of the N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013, and details of projects on which this money was spent.

The Suit Number FHC/L/CS/978/13 was filed last week following a request made under the FOI Act by the organization.

Joined as Defendants in the suit are the Accountant-General, Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Muhammed Adoke. The suit is seeking the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the 1st Defendant is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff with up to date information on the spending of N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013 and details of projects on which the money was spent.

A DECLARATION that the failure of 1st Defendant to provide the Plaintiff with the information requested is a breach of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information 2011.

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS directing and/or compelling the 1st Defendant to provide the Plaintiff with up to date information as requested.

According to the organization, “by the clear provisions of section 2(3)(d)(V) of the FOI Act, documents containing information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of a public institution constitute part of the information which a public institution is obligated to publish, disseminate and make available to members of the public.”

The organization also argued that the 1st Defendant “is legally mandated by the provisions of section 4(a) of the FOI Act to comply with a request for access to public information except where the FOI Act exempts a public official from so disclosing.”

The organization further argued that the 1st Defendant “has no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide the Plaintiff with the information requested” and urged the court “to compel it to comply with the provisions of the Act by providing the Plaintiff with the information requested.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the application.

Signed
Adetokunbo Mumuni
SERAP Executive Director
21/7/2013
Lagos Nigeria
www.serap-nigeria.org
IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT
HOLDEN AT IKOYI

SUIT NO:

IN THE MATTER OF APPLICATION FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

BETWEEN

THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC
RIGHTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT (SERAP)        PLAINTIFF

AND

THE ACCOUNTANT GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION         DEFENDANTS

ORIGINATING SUMMONS
LET THE DEFENDANTS, Accountant General of the Federation and Attorney-General of the Federation at C/O Attorney–General of the Federation and Minister of Justice–Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Secretariat, Abuja, within 30 days after the service of this summons on them inclusive of the day of such service cause an appearance to be entered for them to this summons on the application of the Plaintiff for the determination of the following question:

(a)    Whether by virtue of the provision of section 4(a) of the freedom of information act 2011, the 1st defendant is under an obligation to provide the plaintiff with the information requested for.

AND THE PLAINTIFF CLAIMS AGAINST THE DEFENDANTS AS FOLLOWS:

A DECLARATION that by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the 1st Defendant is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff with up to date information relating to information on the spending of N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013 and details of projects on which the money was spent.

A DECLARATION that the failure of 1st Defendant to provide Plaintiff with the information requested is a breach of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information 2011.

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS directing and/or compelling the 1st Defendant to provide the Plaintiff with up to date information requested including information on:

1.     The amount that has been spent from the N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013.
2.    Details of project on which this money was spent.

THIS SUMMONS was taken out by CHINYERE NWAFOR for the above – named Plaintiff.

The Defendants may appear hereto by entering appearance personally or by legal practitioner either by handing in the appropriate forms duly completed, at the Federal High Court Registry, or by sending them to that office by post.

Note:
If the Defendants do not enter appearance within the time and at the place above mentioned, such orders will be made and proceedings may be taken as the Judge may think just and expedient.

Dated this………………day of ……………….2013.

CHINYERE NWAFOR
SOCIO-ECONOMIC RIGHTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT (SERAP),
4 AKINTOYE STREET IKEJA, LAGOS.
TEL: 08160537202
EMAIL: info@serap-nigeria.org
SOLICITORS TO THE PLAINTIFF
FOR SERVICE ON:

THE 1ST DEFENDANT
THE ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION
TREASURY HOUSE,
LADOKE AKINTOLA BOULEVARD
5 ZARIA STREET
GARKI
ABUJA

THE 2ND DEFENDANT
C/O ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE
FEDERAL SECRETARIAT,
FEDERAL MINISTRY OF JUSTICE,
ABUJA.
IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT
HOLDEN AT IKOYI

SUIT NO:

IN THE MATTER OF APPLICATION FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

BETWEEN

THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC
RIGHTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT (SERAP)        PLAINTIFF

AND

THE ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION
THE ATTORNEY- GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION        DEFENDANTS
AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF ORIGINATING SUMMONS

I, ADETOLA ADELEKE, male, Nigerian, Christian and litigation clerk of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) of 4 Akintoye Shogunle Street, Off John Olugbo Street, Off Awolowo Way, Ikeja,  Lagos do hereby MAKE OATH   and STATE as follows:

1.    That I am a Litigation Clerk of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), the Plaintiff in this suit.

2.    That I have the consent and authority of the Plaintiff herein to depose to this affidavit.

3.    That by virtue of my position and the fact stated in paragraph 2 hereof, I am conversant with the facts of this case and with the facts deposed to herein.

4.    That the Plaintiff is a human rights non-governmental organization established in Nigeria and incorporated under Part C of the Companies and Allied Matters Decree, 1990. A copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of SERAP is attached herewith as EXHIBIT 1.

5.    That the Plaintiff seeks to promote transparency and accountability in government through human rights. A copy of the Constitution of the Plaintiff is hereby attached as EXHIBIT 2.

6.    That the Federal Government of Nigeria has enacted the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

7.    That in the pursuit of its mandate and pursuant to the right of access to information guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the Plaintiff, by letter dated 27 May 2013, requested the 1st Defendant to provide it with up to date information relating to the spending of N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013 and details of projects on which the money was spent.

8.    But since the receipt of the request/application letter, and up till the filing of this suit, the 1st Defendant has so far failed, refused and/ or neglected to provide the Plaintiff with the details of the information requested for. Now produced, shown to me and marked EXHIBITS A and B are copies of the letter sent to the 1st Defendant and the evidence of receipt of the letter by the 1st Defendant.

9.    I was informed by Counsel to the Plaintiff and I verily believe him as follows:

(i)    By virtue of Section 1 (1) of the FOI Act 2011, the Plaintiff is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.

(ii)    By the provisions of Section 2(7) and 31 of the FOI Act 2011, the 1st Defendant is a public institution.

(iii)    By virtue of Section 4 (a) of the FOI Act when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or agency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the plaintiff with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.

(iv)    The information requested for by the Plaintiff relates to the information on the N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013 and details of projects on which this money was spent.

(v)    By Sections 2(3)(d)(i-vi), (e)(i-iii) & (4) of the FOI Act, a public institution is under a binding legal duty to ensure that documents containing information relating to policies, factual reports, expenditure of public funds, names, salaries of officers and employees, and the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds by such an institution are widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means.

(vi)    The information requested for by the Plaintiff does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act.

(vii)    Up till the time of filing this action the 1st Defendant has failed, neglected and refused to make available the information requested by the Plaintiff. The particulars of facts of the failure, negligence and refusal are contained in the verifying affidavit in support of this application and shall be relied upon at the hearing of this application.

(viii)    The 1st Defendant has no reason whatsoever to deny the Plaintiff access to the information sought for.

(ix)    The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of National interest, public concern, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.

10.    That the information the Plaintiff requested for do not form part of      records compiled by the 1st Defendant for law enforcement purposes.

11.    That the 1st Defendant will not suffer any injury or prejudice if the information is released to the Plaintiff.

12.    That the information the Plaintiff requested for is not privileged in any way or manner.

13.    That the information the Plaintiff requested for do not concern any research material.

14.    That the information the Plaintiff requested for is not in respect of a scientific material, or matter kept in the National Museum or the National Library.

15.    That it is in the interest of the public that the information be released.

16.    That I was informed by Counsel to the Plaintiff and I verily believed him that in views of the above actions by the 1st Defendant, the Plaintiff has been denied access to the information requested for

17.    That unless the reliefs sought herein are granted, the 1st Defendant will continue to be in breach of the Freedom of Information Act, and other statutory responsibilities

18.    That it is in the interest of justice to grant this application as the 1st Defendant have nothing to lose if the application is granted.

19.    That I make this declaration in good faith.
……………
DEPONENT

SWORN TO at the Federal
High Court Registry, Ikoyi
This………….day of …………………. 2013
BEFORE ME

COMMISSIONER FOR OATHS

IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT
HOLDEN AT IKOYI

SUIT NO:

IN THE MATTER OF APPLICATION FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

BETWEEN

THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC
RIGHTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT (SERAP)        PLAINTIFF

AND

THE ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION         DEFENDANTS

WRITTEN ADDRESS IN SUPPORT OF ORIGINATING SUMMONS

1.0    INTRODUCTION
1.1.    This Written Address is filed on behalf of the Plaintiff and in support of this application.

1.2.    The main issue or thrust of this case touches on or concerns the binding-ness of the provisions of the FOI Act 2011 on the Defendants.

2.0    BACKGROUND FACTS

2.1.    The background facts in respect of this Application are well set out in the supporting affidavit of Adetola Adeleke. I humbly refer your Lordship to the said affidavit.

2.2             In the Application, the Plaintiff is seeking the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the 1st Defendant is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff with up to date information relating to information on the spending of N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013 and details of projects on which the money was spent.

A DECLARATION that the failure of 1st Defendant to provide Plaintiff with the information requested is a breach of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information 2011.

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS directing and/or compelling the 1st Defendant to provide the Plaintiff with up to date information requested including information on:

1.     The amount that has been spent from the N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013.

2.    Details of project on which this money was spent.

3.0 ARGUMENT OF THE SOLE ISSUE WHETHER BY VIRTUE OF THE PROVISION OF SECTION 4(a) OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2011, THE 1ST DEFENDANT IS UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE THE PLAINTIFF WITH THE INFORMATION REQUESTED

3.1     Sections 1(3) and 2(6) of the FOI Act 2011 confer upon an individual, who has a right of access to information under the Act, the right to institute proceedings in a court to compel any public institution to comply with the provisions of the Act when such an institution has failed, refused and or neglected to comply with the provisions of the Act by refusing or declining to give access to a record or information requested for.

3.2     In the case at hand, the Plaintiff through its letter dated 27th May, 2013 requested information as contained in the letter. Exhibit A has been received by the 1st Defendant, and Exhibit B is the acknowledgement of receipt of Exhibit A by the Defendant. However, the 1st Defendant has since the receipt of the request letter failed, refused and or neglected to provide the Plaintiff with the information it requested for.

3.4    By Section 4 of the FOI Act 2011, a public institution, to whom an application for access to information is made, is under an obligation to either supply the information requested for within 7 days of receipt of the application or communicate its notice of denial within 7 days of receipt of the application if it considers that the application should be denied.

3.5   Furthermore, Section 7(4) of the FOI Act provides that where the government or public institution to whom an application for access to information is made fails to give the plaintiff access to the information requested for within the time limit specified by the Act, the institution shall be deemed to have refused to give access.

3.6    By the provisions of Sections 2(7) and 31 of the FOI Act, the definition of a public institution includes the 1st Defendant. The 1st Defendant is a public institution within the meaning of the FOI Act and is bound to comply with the provision of Section 4 of the FOI Act.

3.7    By the provision of Section 20 of the FOI, the Plaintiff is entitled to apply to this Honorable Court for a judicial review of the matter within 30 days after the public institution denies or is deemed to have denied the request for information.

3.8    Since the 1st Defendant has failed to provide the information requested by the Plaintiff, within the time limit stipulated by the FOI Act, it is therefore deemed that he has, by that very fact, refused to give the Plaintiff access to the information requested for.

3.9    It is further submitted that the power or discretion to refuse to give access to information requested for cannot be exercised in vacuo. Such a power or discretion must be provided for by the FOI Act itself. This means, therefore, that a request for information can only be denied or turned down if the information requested is one which is exempted from disclosure under the provisions of the FOI Act.

3.10    In the case at hand, the information requested for by the plaintiff   relates strictly to the spending of N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30 2013.

3.11    By the clear provisions of Section 2(3)(d)(V) of the FOI Act 2011, documents containing information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of a public institution constitute part of the information which a public institution is obligated to publish, disseminate and make available to members of the public. It is therefore, submitted that since the 1st Defendant has no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide the Plaintiff with the information requested for, this court ought to compel it to comply with the provisions of the Act as he is not above the law.
3.12    It is further submitted that the creation of a right of access to information by Section 1(1) of the FOI Act has imposed on the 1st Defendant and other public officials, institutions and agencies alike, a corresponding duty to give or provide any applicant, access to any public record or information in their custody when applied for by the latter. Therefore, the 1st Defendant must conform to the legally binding obligation imposed on him by Section 4(a) of the FOI Act.

3.13    It is submitted that Section 4(a) of the FOI Act 2011 is a mandatory and absolute provision which imposes a binding legal duty or obligation on a public official, agency or institution to comply with a request for access to public information or records except where the FOI Act expressly permits an exemption or derogation from the duty to disclose. The courts have consistently held that the use of mandatory words such as “must” and “shall” in a statute is naturally prima facie imperative and admits of no discretion. See ANIBI V. SHOTIMEHIN (1993) 3 NWLR (PT. 282) 461 @ 472 – 473. It is submitted that the use of the word “shall” in Section 4 of the FOI Act connotes that the provision is mandatory and must be complied with to the extent provided by the Act.

3.14    In GOVERNOR OF EBONYI STATE & ORS V. HON. JUSTICEISUAMA (2003) FWLR [PT. 169] 1210 @ 1227-1228, the Court of Appeal while stressing the need for public officials to obey rules of law held as follows:

“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a democratic society, this is meant to be a norm; it is an apostasy for government to ignore the provisions of the law and the necessary rules made to regulate matters”.
3.15    In the light of the exposition of the Court of Appeal above highlighted, it is submit that this honorable court ought to make an order compelling the 1st Defendant to comply with the provisions of the FOI Act by providing the Plaintiff with the information requested for by the latter.
4.0  CONCLUSION

4.1     In conclusion I most respectfully urge this court to grant leave to the Plaintiff to seek the reliefs claimed on the basis of the arguments advanced above, and the Application.

Dated this ………………… day of …………….. 2013

CHINYERE NWAFOR
SOCIO-ECONOMIC RIGHTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT (SERAP),
4 AKINTOYE STREET IKEJA, LAGOS.
TEL: 08160537202
EMAIL: info@serap-nigeria.org
SOLICITORS TO THE PLAINTIFF
FOR SERVICE ON:

THE 1ST DEFENDANT
THE ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION
TREASURY HOUSE,
LADOKE AKINTOLA BOULEVARD
5 ZARIA STREET
GARKI
ABUJA

THE 2ND DEFENDANT
C/O ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE
FEDERAL SECRETARIAT,
FEDERAL MINISTRY OF JUSTICE,
ABUJA.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Rove: Holder Shouldn’t Fan Flames of Anger After Zimmerman Verdict.


As the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder should be working to calm the public and “not pour gasoline on these smoldering fires,” GOP strategist Karl Rove says.

Rove, appearing Wednesday night on Fox News Channel’sOn the Record With Greta Van Susteren,” addressed Holder’s pledge to look into pursuing a civil rights case against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

After appeals by the NAACP and other civil rights leaders, Holder asked for people to call his office with any evidence they have that Zimmerman, a Hispanic, might have acted with racial bias when he began following Martin, who was black, as he walked through the neighborhood on a dark, rainy night.

A jury ruled on Saturday that Zimmerman had acted in self-defense after Martin began beating him.

“In a normal, ordinary case the local law enforcement would ask for comments, and it would ask for information from eyewitnesses, tip lines,” Rove said. “We’re used to that.”

But such action normally takes place at the beginning of the process, Rove said, and not after a court case and a jury’s decision.

“This looks political,” Rove said. “It looks like they want to go get this guy after a jury found him not guilty.”

Rove said Holder’s actions are also “dumb.” He might be trying to appease part of the Democratic base by letting the African-American community know the Justice Department and the White House are on their side, he suggested.

“On the other hand, this is a nation of laws,” Rove said. “What happens at the end of all of this in the African-American community if they don’t take action or if they take action and it doesn’t pan out?”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Holder Blasts ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws.


Image: Holder Blasts 'Stand Your Ground' Laws

Stand-your-ground laws that allow a person who believes he is in danger to use deadly force in self-defense “sow dangerous conflict” and need to be reassessed, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday in assailing the statutes that exist in many states.

Holder said he was concerned about the Trayvon Martin slaying case in which Florida’s stand-your-ground law played a part.

But he added: “Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation’s attention, it’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods.”

Editor’s Note: Should Obama Use Zimmerman Verdict to Ban Guns?

George Zimmerman was acquitted over the weekend of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Martin’s 2012 death in Sanford, Fla. Holder said the Justice Department has an open investigation into what he called Monday the “tragic, unnecessary shooting death” of the unarmed Miami 17-year-old.

He urged the nation then to speak honestly about complicated and emotionally charged issues. A day later, he seemed to shift away from the specific case to one of those issues — the debate over stand-your-ground.

“There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the ‘if’ is important — no safe retreat is available,” Holder told the NAACP.

The country must take a hard look at laws that contribute to “more violence than they prevent,” Holder said during a speech before an NAACP convention in Orlando, about 20 miles from the courthouse where Zimmerman was cleared of the charges three days earlier. Such laws “try to fix something that was never broken,” he said.

Martin’s shooting shined a light on Florida’s stand-your-ground and similar laws around the nation. Most say a person has no duty to retreat if he is attacked in a place he has a right to be and can meet force with force if he fears death or great bodily harm.

Sanford’s police chief cited the law as his reason for not initially arresting Zimmerman in February 2012. Zimmerman told police Martin was beating him up during the confrontation and that he feared he would be killed.

Though stand-your-ground was never raised during trial, Judge Debra Nelson included a provision about the law in the instructions that allowed jurors to consider it as a legitimate defense.

“But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common-sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely,” Holder said.

The defense skipped a chance to ask that Zimmerman have a stand-your-ground hearing before trial. If the judge had decided there was enough evidence that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, she could have tossed out the case before a jury heard it.

“Stand-your-ground laws license vigilantism and we should all worry about that,” said Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP’s president and CEO, after Holder’s speech.

Holder on Tuesday only briefly touched on a possible federal civil rights case being brought against Zimmerman. And legal experts say such a case would be a difficult challenge.

Prosecutors would have to prove that Zimmerman was motivated by racial animosity to kill Martin. The teen was on his way back to his father’s fiancee’s house after going to a store when the neighborhood watch volunteer saw him and followed him in the community of about 50,000, which is about one-third black.

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton, who has been one of the most vocal champions of a federal investigation, acknowledged Tuesday there are possible legal hurdles. Still, he said “there is also a blatant civil rights question of, does Trayvon Martin and the Trayvon Martins of this country have the civil right to go home?”

Saturday’s acquittal has inspired “Justice for Trayvon” protests around the nation. Most have been peaceful, although vandalism and violence happened in Los Angeles.

Dozens of protesters carrying signs demanding justice for Martin crammed into the lobby of Florida Gov. Rick Scott‘s office Tuesday and refused to leave until the governor either met with them or called lawmakers back to Tallahassee to address issues like the state’s stand-your-ground law. Many planned to spend the night in the Capitol building.

Despite the challenges of bringing a federal civil rights case, some NAACP members said they wanted swift action.

Tony Hickerson, an NAACP member from Seattle, said he would be disappointed if he doesn’t see the Justice Department taking action within a month.

Editor’s Note: Should Obama Use Zimmerman Verdict to Ban Guns?

“I heard what [Holder] said, and I don’t question his sincerity, but I’d like to see swift action in this case, and I haven’t seen that yet,” said Hickerson. “His words were eloquent but I need to see some action before I get enthusiastic.”

Added Hickerson, “This is a very obvious case. How much thinking do you have to do?”

In his comments referencing the Zimmerman case, Holder offered a story from his own personal experience, describing how when he was a young black man his father told him how to interact with the police, what to say and how to conduct himself if he was ever stopped or confronted in a way he thought was unwarranted.

“I’m sure my father felt certain at the time that my parents’ generation would be the last that had to worry about such things for their children,” Holder told the NAACP convention. “Trayvon’s death last spring caused me to sit down to have a conversation with my own 15-year-old son, like my dad did with me. This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Constitutional Reform As A Pliable Road To Peace And Progress In Nigeria Preamble By Dr. Adeleke Otunuga.


By Dr. Adeleke Otunuga

The shameful and arrogant brigandage in Rivers State we all saw on video would easily have been passed for another unfortunate brouhaha by some uncouth dishonorable men who should not be involved in the business of lawmaking in a civilized society like ours. Not that we would have overlooked their reprehensible actions.

The tacitly copious involvement of the Presidency and the First Lady give the crisis a different bloom. The reality of a too-powerful emperor-like Presidency stares us in the face once again. And can no longer be ignored. Like our iconic Professor Wole Soyinka said in relation to same event and the involvement of the First Lady, “too much is already too much”! If we must defend our democracy and reclaim power from the hands of those who hold it hostage, there is urgent need to reform the laws of a land that makes one man the most powerful in the world, constitutionally speaking that is.

I am one of those who attest to the need for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference where representatives of peoples of Nigeria will come as equals on the table of brotherhood and reason. Considering the often-quick rejection of the very idea of such august gathering by the political elites, obviously in fear of the erosion of their ill-gained political capital, it becomes part of our reality that the convocation of an SNC may be a deadbeat project, at least for the immediate time. But the National Assembly has the powers to review and recommend replacement laws for our polity. It is to them we must urgently appeal.

The Problem

It is common knowledge that there is a dangerous lopsidedness in the way power is constitutionally shared across the three tiers of governments in Nigeria. With regards to power sharing and governmental relationships between the Federal Government and the federating states especially, too much is concentrated at the center, paving the way for a Nero-like President who solely decides which way the power pendulum swings. He easily manipulates himself away from the pinhole of oversight by the National Assembly. He controls both the instruments of Force and the treasury of the land. Not in the hands of any one else has the carrot and the stick been so well amenable.

The 1999 Constitution is a democratic instrument with a military detail. The reference to state governors in Nigeria as Chief Security Officers of their states is a mere praise-song that latches on to aspirations of how things should be. In reality, a state governor in Nigeria is a victim of power siege by the center. Amongst all his commissioners, the Commissioner of Police is loyal to and takes orders from no one but the Inspector-General of Police and, by extension, the President. This is why shameful situations like the arrogant deployment of federal might against a sitting governor in a federal arrangement will be completely inveterate in our body polity. It did not start with Rivers; we witnessed it in Anambra State on July 10, 2003 when a sitting governor in the person of Chris Nwabueze Ngige was brazenly abducted by forces loyal to then president Obasanjo. Tough times indeed call for tougher measures, and our representatives at the federal level must brazen up for the challenge at hand.

In his article, “Rivers State Crisis: Issues, Sense, and Nonsense,” Comrade Bamidele Aturu bemoaned the fate of our “endangered federalism.” He touted the establishment of state police forces as a solution to the incessant power-show between the federal and state government bodies, but was quick to aver that we must “first deal with the feudal culture that is ingrained in the consciousness of our politicians. Unless we uproot one way or the other in this culture nothing stops the State Governors from also using State Police to intimidate the minority within the State.” So how exactly do we reorient the mindset of the political class? I strongly support a structural repair of the constitution such that the system is afforded opportunities for automatic checks and balances whenever necessary.

Cracks in our constitutional walls

Comrade Aturu dealt extensively with the visible problems created by Section 215 of the 1999 constitution with regards to the duties of the State Commissioners of Police vis-à-vis their relationships with the governors of the states where they serve. Section 215 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution allows for the appointment of an Inspector-General of Police by the President. Section 215 (1) (b) also makes for the appointment of a Commissioner of Police for each state of the Federation by the Police Service Commission. Note that the President appoints the chairman and members of the Police Service Commission by virtue of Section 154 (1). Section 215 (2) places the command of the Nigeria Police force, including the Commissioners and other rank and file members of the Force,  under the Inspector-General of police (who is appointed by, and therefore serves at the behest of, the President).

Section 147 (1) of the 1999 Constitution allows for the establishment of the Offices of Ministers of the Government. Section 147 (2) stipulates for the appointment of such Ministers by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. The searchlight at this time is not per se on how easy it is for the President to assure the confirmation of any persons he so wishes for public offices. That the President can, at own whims, remove such officers without recourse to any persons or organs of state makes the holders of such offices loyal and accountable only to the President, and not the Nigerian people.

In tandem with Section 147 (1), Section 150 (1) of the 1999 Constitution also gives legal backing to the establishment of the Office of the Attorney-General, constitutionally designated as the Chief Law Officer of the federation, who also doubles as a Minister of Government. The President not only appoints the Attorney-General, he is empowered by virtue of Section 151(1) to appoint Special Advisers for the Attorney-General. Section 151 (3) expressly stipulates that all persons appointed under Section 151 of the constitution ARE serving at the pleasure of the President. Again, the President holds the constitutional hire and fire power in this case.

It is important to underscore the importance of the unfettered functions of the Attorney-general in the promotion of the ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice as enshrined in Section 17 (1) of the Constitution. Both Federal and State Attorneys General are the Chief Law Officers of their respective jurisdictions, and can therefore institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person or institution before the courts of the land. The wheels of justice can only spin at equitable gyre where the prosecuting and presiding judicial officers are free from all encumbrances and are truly independent in the discharge of their duties. The President has untold capacities to manipulate other public officials both through his constitutional powers of hire and fire and through his control of party structures.

Reformed Checks and Balances as solution to abuse of power

The intention of the drafters of the 1999 Constitution seemed clearly to ensure checks and balances in the polity. The operations of each of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government were supposed to provide respective systemic checks and balances on one another in the daily discharge of the constitutional duties emanating from such offices. Owing to the nature and manner of appointments and other issues mentioned elsewhere in this write-up, it becomes clear that it is almost impossible for either the legislature or the judiciary to be truly independent in the discharge of their duties. There is need to fathom other means of injecting checks and balances into the process of governance in Nigeria.

Repositioning political parties as a guarantee for effective checks and balances

Per Sections 13-18 it is unarguably obvious that the guarantee for Freedom, Equality and Justice forms the fulcrum of the constitutional document. In order to ensure this however, there must be systems in place, other than the seemingly failed watchdog relationships between the three branches of government at all levels. I believe that a deliberate alteration of the electoral laws, for instance, with stipulations for how, which and when political parties can field candidates for what political offices may serve our much desired yearning for independent functioning of relevant organs of government.

To this end, I postulate as follows:

1.    Considering our experiences with power-play since return of democracy, it becomes clear that certain offices or positions are too important to be left at the direction of one person, be it the President of the country or any of the state governors. Such offices include:

a)    Attorney General of the Federation or States, and
b)    Inspector-General of Police.

2.    Occupation of the two offices listed in a-b above (we can add to the list as necessary) should be constitutionally amended to become by election rather than appointment by either the President (as is the case of Federal Attorney-General) and Governor (as currently is the case with State Attorneys-General and Ministers of Justice).

3.    There are other positions, though elective in nature, the independence of which must be systematically guaranteed by taking their control away from the Executives. These include such legislative offices as:

c)    the offices of the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President, and
d)    Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the Federal House of Representatives and the State House of Assemblies. I strongly believe, for emphasis, that speaker Tambuwal would have been more effective in checkmating the shenanigans of Aso Rock if he was not from the PDP stock.

The idea here is basically to ensure that the party that produces the President at the Federal level is constitutionally disallowed from fielding candidates for election into the offices enumerated in a) – d) above. For instance, if the APGA was successful at the presidential polls, only other qualified parties (excluding APGA) will be eligible to field candidates for the offices of the Inspector-General of Police, Attorney-General of the Federation, Senate and Deputy Senate Presidents, and Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. The same condition will apply at the state level where the party that produces the Governor will constitutionally become ineligible to field candidates for the offices of the Attorneys-General and Commissioner of Justice, and the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the Houses of Assembly.

To ensure smooth electioneering process, the polls timetable can be drawn in such a way that ensures adequate time limit for campaigns into the offices listed in a) – d) above. While the current one-week-apart timetable of elections into Legislative (Federal and State), Governorship, and Presidential elections can still be honored, the positions highlighted above should be removed from electioneering process within the time other elective positions are held. While the terms of office may necessarily remain the same as it is for others, the election period could be altered such that elections into such offices come at a much later period, say 6 or more months after the general elections. This  not only gives room for the resolution of litigations that almost always trail elections, it will also allow for a clearance of doubt as to which party will be eligible to field candidates for the excluded offices and positions.

It is well understood that the resolution formula expounded in this document may contain some grey areas that must necessarily be further expounded. What do you think your own amendment of the document presented herein, or your own outright solution to the aforementioned problems would be? By coming together as a people we can develop a formidable think-tank through which theoretical and practical solutions to everyday problems in our body polity can be holistically addressed. You can répondez, s’il vous plait to manlesky@yahoo.com.

Dr. Adeleke Otunuga, a former Students Union leader at the University of Lagos, is currently the President of the Ijebu Association of the United States of America (Washington DC Metro area) and a Senator of the Alliance of Yoruba Organizations & Clubs, USA (Washington DC Metro area).

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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