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Impeachment: Senior lawyer hails Ondo CJ for obedience, fidelity to constitution

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Impeachment: Senior lawyer hails Ondo CJ for obedience, fidelity to constitution

A senior Advocate of Nigeria, Jibrin Samuel Okutepa has commended the chief Judge of Ondo State for his obedience and fidelity to constitutional duty which his lordship sworn to defend and uphold by refusing to be coerced.
The chief Judge had declined to set up a seven man panel to investigate the Deputy Governor of Ondo State at the instance of the Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly.

This was contained in a Statement that was personally signed by Okutepa(SAN) and made availlable to the NationalUpdate in Abuja.
Okutepa said the refusal of the Hon Chief Judge of Ondo state to set up a seven man panel is a good step in the right direction saying that it is what a good judicial officer should do.
“That is a CJ that knows his onions.This was what the late CJ of Kogi State, my state had lacked the courage to do when the Kogi State House of Assembly requested that a seven man Panel be set up to investigate the then Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Elder Simon Achuba.
The impeached Kogi deputy Governor he said had gone to court to challenge the removal process being put in place then by the Kogi State House of Assembly.

“His lordship CJ of Ondo State, Hon Justice Oluwatoyin Akeredolu will go down in history as the first CJ that refused to set up a  panel to investigate the Deputy Governor when litigation was pending.
“He said it was sub-judice.
That is what a good judicial officer should do. Kudos to Akeredolu CJ. There is no doubt that the political class who want the Deputy Governor removed may not find the decision of his lordship palatable and acceptable.
“But all right thinking members of the legal profession must stand up and applaud the bold decision of Akeredolu CJ.”
He said the law holds that when a matter is pending in court, no party to it is allowed to do anything to undermine the judicial process.
I
“It is only the judiciary that can instil sanity into the political class. While the political class sworn to uphold and defend our constitution, practical conduct on their parts shows mockery of our constitutional democracy.
“The example of Akeredolu CJ must be copied by all heads of courts and other judicial officers when faced with decisions to defend our constitution.”
He said the nations electoral justice also requires bold statements to put an end to political rascalities before, during or post elections disputes.
“For me Akeredolu CJ  has done the right thing even if heaven falls even though heaven has never fallen and it will not fall.”

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Police retirees want to be exempted from Contributory pensions Scheme

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Police retirees want to be exempted from Contributory pensions Scheme

****Seek Amendment of Pension Reform Act 

The Nigeria Police Retirees under the Contributory Pension Scheme have asked the Federal Government to exempt them from the scheme just like their counterparts in military forces and the Department of State Security Services.

They are also demanding to be included in debarment allowances which their counterparts in the other security forces like the Army, Navy and the Airforce are enjoying.

The Police retirees led by their legal Adviser, Elder Ofem O. Nbang carried their protests to the National Assembly on wednesday with placards that carried  inscriptions narrating their ordeal.

They came armed with written petitions addressed to both the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Speaking on behalf of the retirees the legal adviser of the group Afem O Mbang DSP(rtd), said they have served the Nigeria Police Force for 35 years adding that when some of them had spent 21 years, 23 years or even 33 years in service the Contributory pensions Scheme was introduced.

He said,”When they introduced the Contributory pensions Scheme in 2004 we were under the old Pensions scheme (benefit) the law was made to be retrogressive.

He said laws are not supposed to be made retrogressively. 

“This is against the provision of Section 173(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) because it alters an existing pension scheme( benefit scheme) to the disadvantage of prospective retirees who have been in service long before the enactment of the Pension Reform Act 2004.” 
“Laws are made to take effect from when they are made and there after but they made a law to take care of our retirement benefits while we were already twenty something years in service which has subjected us to suffering today. 
“For instance I retired as Deputy Superitendent of Police after 35 years. I was paid what they called lump sum, retirement benefit of N1741, 000 and I am placed on N40,000 pension and that is why many Police officers retire and within one month when they hear of what we are passing through they die of hypertension.

“They exempted the military, they exempted the DSS, what is the reason that the police was not exempted. 

“The major issue that made them to exempt the military, we are also suffering from it, mortality rate, work hazards and protection of the territorial integrity of this nation.

 “It may be argued that the non-exemption of the Nigeria Police from the Contributory Pension Scheme was the decision of the then IGP Ibrahim Kpotun Idris (rtd). “The decision was not borne out of patriotism nor the interest of the retired Police Officers, but the then IGP was overwhelmed by the guaranteed position of the Chairmanship of Board of Directors of the NPF Pensions and other interests.

“He sacrificed the interest of Police retirees and serving officers and that of their families for his personal gains. 

“The teleguided representation was selfish and borne out of the fact that the retired IGPs have succeeded to constitute themselves into rotational Chairmen of Board of Directors of the NPF Pensions Limited. 

“Their rotational directorship of the NPF Pensions Limited is extremely detrimental to fair dealing with Police retirees and management of the fund. 

According to him, Police retirees believed they have been badly short changed under the new law as it did not take into consideration the reasonable number of years they had served.

He pleaded that the rational that qualified the Military and the Department of State Services(DSS) for exemption from the Pension Reform Act; should be extended to  the police.

It is the view of the  pensioners’, that the money paid to them as lump sum and monthly pension is calculated and silent attempt to ensure they die” shortly after retirement.

On the debarment allowance which Nigerian security agencies like the military, Navy, Army and Airforce have been enjoying except retired Police officers, “We are asking for debarment allowance, it is allowance given to Nigerian security agencies like the military, Navy, Army and Airforce. 

“The reason being that they are well trained and sophisticated handling in security matter, including Police we are doing the same work, including ballistic, Explosive operation department, intelligence department.

“All those things, the military were settled because they know if they are not settled they may be exposed for some other persond to use them against the security of this nation, we should also be beneficiary to these things.”

He said they want the National assembly to amend the law to exempt the police retirees from Contributory pensions Scheme and pay them all the monies that accrued to them under the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The benefits are running in to trillions of Naira, some of them just retired and they are also suffering but some have enriched themselves while in office and that is why they don’t border about what we are passing through.

“Life for us has been extremely difficult and that is why some policemen retire and within one month they die. When they hear about what the retirees are passing through, you retire as ASP or SP but you go home with only N1.5m an N40,000 as pension. “Some developed high blood pressure and collapsed. Some are on wheel chair, some have died”

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Okutepa (SAN) felicitates with JUSUN over financial autonomy, insists on Judicial Independence

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Okutepa (SAN) will felicitates with JUSUN over financial autonomy, insists on Judicial Independence

Hard-won victory of financial autonomy for the State Judiciary excites Senior Advocate of Nigeria, J.S. Okutepa as he sends congratulatory message to the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and all relevant stakeholders.

This was coming few hours after the Chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, addressed the press on Governor’s agreement to implement Financial Autonomy for the State Judiciary and end the lingering strike embarked upon by JUSUN.
Okutepa SAN described the feat a victory for the entire members of the Judiciary
He recalled that on Monday the Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum addressed the press that the governors have agreed to give effect to the autonomy of the judiciary in terms of financial independence, expressing that is how it ought to be.

In his words, “I congratulate JUSUN and all relevant stakeholders for this singular achievement. I hope it will be permanent and not Adhoc”.
According to him, the realisation of the May 2021 agreement henceforth and going forward must be practical
He expressed the believe that giving financial autonomy to the judiciary is not enough to guarantee independence of the judiciary.
He indicated that there are so many factors affecting the independence of the judiciary which includes and not limited to recruitment process, Integrity and character of those recruited and to be recruited.
He said the competence of those on the Bench and to be on the Bench is another thing.
He noted that corruption and corrupt practices, Interfaces with judicial process by the powers are also factors militating against the independence of the Judiciary. 
In his submission he advised most strongly that once financial independence is secured for the judiciary, the next battle should be shifted to transparent recruitment process. According to him, only the best and the best with integrity, character, mien, disposition and comportment must be seen to the ones recruited to the Bench across board.
“There must be independent recruitment of judicial personnel and judicial officers. The legal profession, the Body of Benchers,  Body of Senior Advocate (BOSAN),  NBA, and JUSUN need to address the character and integrity of those who are on the Bench and those who are to join the Bench.”
He harped on the necessity for the review of the recruitment process of judicial officers.
“We must avoid recruitment of indolent and non-productive legal practitioners as judicial officers. It is not enough to just fulfill all righteousness by placing much emphasis on quota. Yes even if we need to follow Federal character and quota system, we must pick from the best eleven within that locality”.
He indicated that a situation when godfatherism, who you know, lobbying and such other vices played a prominent role in the recruitment of judicial officers instead of merit must be fought and brought to an end.
“There is no doubt that the jurisprudential quality of judgment in our courts with scintillating judicial prose seems to fast disappearing in our judgements. The logicality of reasoning and indept analysis for which our judiciary was known in yesteryears to seem to have gone for bad”.
Okutepa suggested that the Bar and Bench must come together to fashion out an enduring justice system that meets the yearning and aspirations of the legal profession and the Nigerian people. “There must be a system that in the administration of autonomy of the finance of the judiciary no one will act to give appearance of impropriety of any kind. Nobody should be allowed to abuse the autonomy.
“Honestly and integrity must be the watchword for those to administer the funds, there must be difference. Courts halls must be built and fully modernised.”
He charged the Judiciary to live up to expectations by making sure that filing processes meet the emerging 21st century practices and world best standards.
“Delay in justice must be avoided and Judgments must have as its attributes the doing of justice to the parties.

“Our judicial officers must be ready to give justice to all. They must be bold and fearless.The legal profession must liberate itself from self-destruct it is heading to. We must avoid partisan discrimination and focus more on the purity of justice to all. The way we act with impunity without sanctions must be revisited. In all we must follow the necessary and due process to make Nigerian judiciary truly independent”.

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Nigeria rallies Global support against drug trafficking, terrorism

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Nigeria rallies Global support against drug trafficking, terrorism  

In its bit to tackle the links between drug trafficking and all forms of organised crime like terrorism,the Nigerian Government has called for a well-coordinated international cooperation
This was one of Nigerias demands at the ongoing 64th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, CND, holding in Vienna, Austria, presented before the global audience on Monday by the Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brig. General Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd).
This was contained in a statement that was issued by the Director, Media and Advocacy of he NDLEA Femi Babafemi
The statement reads,
“Nigeria calls for robust international cooperation to address the links between drug trafficking and terrorism, illicit financial flows, smuggling of migrants and other forms of organised crime, Marwa stated.

“We underscore the importance of technical assistance by UNODC, which has greatly assisted practitioners of beneficiary countries and positively impacted global efforts to counter and address the world drug problem, and urge for their continuation.

He explained that Nigeria has continued to adopt her drug control policies and strategies to respond to emerging and evolving realities.
The NDLEA boss said despite the implementation of the country’s  framework and strategic action plan, trafficking and abuse of controlled substances persist. 
“First, the cultivation and high traffic of Cannabis and its abuse has been on the increase.”

According to him, our National Drug Use Survey, 2019 revealed that over 10 million persons abused cannabis in one year.  In similar pattern, the 2019 and 2020 World Drug Reports identified cannabis as the most abused substance with its threat to security, health and wellbeing of the global population. 
Secondly, he said the trafficking and non-medical use of synthetic and pharmaceuticals opioids, especially Tramadol, remains a challenge.

“This is in spite of our domestic control efforts as well as two tripartite meetings, facilitated by UNODC, involving Nigeria, Ghana and India held in New Delhi and Lagos in 2019, to address the Tramadol crisis.  Nigeria, therefore, reiterated that legalisation of the illicit use of cannabis is a violation of the Drug Control Treaties while highlighting the urgent need for change in the control measures for Tramadol and other pharmaceuticals.”
Gen. Marwa added that Nigeria has decentralized the storage of finished narcotic drugs to ensure their access, availability and affordability for medical and scientific use. He said as a result, we are now able to optimize data collection and improve statutory submission of annual requirement to the INCB (International Narcotics Control Board) with the launch, in 2020, of our national quantification/estimation survey, conducted in 2017 and 2019 respectively. 
‘We are also on course to start local manufacturing of narcotic medicines fromWHO-prequalified pharmaceutical manufacturers to ensure availability and meet national needs”

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