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Police ask hoodlums to return looted firearms from 205 police stations

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The committee set up by the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr Mohammed Adamu, to assess the level of damage to police formations during the #EndSARS protest has warned hoodlums who carted away firearms from 205 police stations in 17 states to return them or face prosecution.

The committee has also raised the alarm that the looting of the weapons at the end of the year when the rate of crime is potentially high is dangerous.

Speaking to THISDAY, the Chairman of the nine-member committee, Commissioner of Police (CP) Abutu Yaro, also urged parents to encourage their children in possession of the looted police firearms to return them.

Adamu had set up the nine-man committee to evaluate police losses during the #EndSARS protests.

Apart from Yaro, the committee has Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Atayero Patrick as vice-chairman and Adedeji Julius, a superintendent of police, as secretary.

Others are: ACP Sulaiman Gulma, ACP Samuel Dang, CSP Kehinde Ope, SP Chijioke Kalu, SP Ajibade Sunday, and DSP Mahmud Haruna as members of the committee.

The committee, which has visited police formations at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Lagos State, will visit Ogun State Police Command today.

Yaro told THISDAY that it had become imperative to alert members of the public on the need to return the looted firearms to the police, implying that those who voluntarily return the looted items immediately will be spared.

He said: “We need to alert members of the public on the need to return looted police firearms in their possession. If you see people in possession of firearms, you should report to us.

“Parents, who see their children in possession of firearms, they should have the courage to report to us because we want to recover them. If they (hoodlums) make it impossible for us to recover them, if it’s found with them at a later time or in other locations, it may have some severe consequences.

“It’s important for you to help us educate some members of the public because anybody who is part of the arms’ loot can return it incognito because if it is found with them, there will be consequences. They will face prosecution.”

According to him, the IG led the committee to inspect sites of destruction in Lagos.

He said. “The inspection of some sections of the damage was undertaken by the IG himself. On the first day, the IG was able to go to Makinde, Ebute Ero and the destroyed palace of Oba Akiolu and some other places. We continued the next day because the damage in Lagos is extensive in 36 locations. So far, we have been able to see all. It’s a frightening scenario.

“Not only buildings were destroyed, police equipment, arms and ammunition were carted away.

“Carting away arms and ammunition when the year is ending, not a normal time, but a time of potential higher criminality is dangerous.

“It’s a grave situation but we have made some recoveries.

I think we are making progress.”

He urged community leaders to assist the police to recover stolen arms.

“There are many ways of returning these things. Community leaders could also help by reporting any firearms seen anywhere. They should help because it is important to retrieve these things because it is for the safety of everybody. If they are not checked, if we Nigerians do not react collectively at the end of the day, they may move from house to house and order you to bring out all your property. We are in a Hobbesian state and we need to checkmate it before it consumes everybody,” he stated.

Abutu said the committee would visit 17 states.

The terms of reference of the committee include physical visit of the scenes of incident and capture of pictorials of all damages done to police infrastructure and personnel; verify the fatalities suffered by the police; establish the weapons holdings that were lost during the incidents, among others.

-Thisday

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We will restore peace, stability before leaving office, Buhari vows

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration will not relent in its quest to restore peace and stability in the country.

Buhari said this on Monday during the 58th anniversary of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) in Kano.

He said his administration’s investment in the air force had helped to “turn the tide” against terrorists.

He promised that he would continue to give necessary and sufficient support to the NAF in the battle against insecurity from non-state actors.

“The huge investment in the Nigeria Air Force has helped to turn the tide against terrorist and non-state actors in our nation,” he said.

“In furtherance of our drive to continue to do more to support the air force. Rest assured that our government is willing to do even more to ensure the provision of requisite support and the encouragement to overcome various security challenges.

“This government will not rest until peace and stability is fully restored in the nation. I, therefore, urge you all to remain steadfast, committed and resolute.

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States lose battle over LG funds’ management

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The 36 Governors lost on Monday in their opposition to Federal Government’s efforts to monitor their handling of Local governments’ funds.

 Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed a suit filed to that effect by the 36 states, through their Attorneys General and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

The States, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/563/2019, challenged the legality of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Guidelines, which came into effect on June 1, 2019.

The NFIU 2019 guidelines required among others,  that the States/Local Governments Joint Accounts should be used only for receiving funds and subsequently transferring them to Local government accounts only.

The NFIU claimed that the guidelines, which also limit daily cash withdrawal from the State/LG joint account to N500,000 are intended  to reduce “crime vulnerabilities created by cash withdrawal from local government funds throughout Nigeria effective from June 1, 2019.”

Listed as defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the NFIU and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE).

They argued among others that  the NFIU guidelines: known as “the  NFIU Enforcement and Guidelines to Reduce Crime Vulnerabilities Crafted by Cash Withdrawal From Local Government Funds Throughout Nigeria,” particularly provisions 1 to 6  and the penalties prescribed  are ultra vires the power of the NFIU under Sections 3 (1) and 23(2) (a) of the Nigerian Financial Intelligent Unit Act, 2018 and therefore unconstitutional.

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In the judgement on Monday, Justice Ekwo held that he is unable to see where the guidelines contradict the provisions of sections 7(1), (6) (a) and (b) of the Constitution.

The judge added that the guidelines also did not conflict with the provision of Section 162(6) of the Constitution, which creates the State Joint Local Government Account,  into which allocations to the Local Government Councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the government of the state are paid.

He said that the guidelines did not contradict Section 162(8) of the constitution which prescribed that the amount standing to the credit of the local government council of the state shall be distributed among the local government councils of that state on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of the state.

Justice Ekwo added that the provisions of the NFIU guidelines also do not contradict the provisions of the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution which prescribes the functions of a Local Government Council.

Noting that “ duty of the court is limited to expounding the law and not expanding it,” the judge said: “On the whole, I see the provisions of the guidelines of the 2nd defendant as seeking to direct the monitoring of accounts, transfers and any other means of payment or transfer of funds of local government councils as provided for in Section 3 (1) (r) of the Act of the NFIU.

“It only limits cash withdrawal made from any Local Government Account anywhere in the country to amount not exceeding N500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) per day.

“Any amount higher than that can be done using other methods of banking transaction save cash.

“Unless it can be shown that there is any provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which these provisions of the 2nd defendant’s guidelines have contradicted or conflicted directly and practically, then the issue of unconstitutionality cannot be said to arise.”

Justice Ekwo said he found that there was no provision in the NFIU’s guidelines that has contravened the provisions of Sections 7(1), (6) (a) and (b), 162 (6), (7) and (8), and the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“I also find that the case of the plaintiffs has not been established and I so hold.

“I find, in the end, that the case of the plaintiffs lacks merit and ought to be dismissed and it is hereby dismissed,” the judge said.

Earlier, Justice Ekwo struck out the name of the NGF as a co-plaintiff in the suit on the grounds that it lacked the locus standi to file the suit.

THE NATION

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Falana to Minister of Finance: You lack powers to suspend AGF

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Femi Falana

Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has told the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, that she lacks the power to suspend the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over allegations of fraud.

Falana spoke amid allegations Idris was under probe for N80 billion fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He said it was only President Muhammadu Buhari that has such powers to suspend the AGF.

He said: “In exercise of his powers under section 171 of the Constitution, President Buhari appointed Ahmed Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation on June 25, 2015. Upon the expiration of 4-year tenure, Mr Idris was reappointed as the Accountant-General of the Federation by the President on June 19, 2019.

“It is submitted that by the combined effect of section 320 of the Constitution and section 11 of the Interpretation Act, it is the exclusive constitutional responsibility of President Buhari to suspend Mr Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation.

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“Specifically, section 11(1) (b) of the Interpretation Act provides that ‘Where an enactment confers a power to appoint a person either to an office or to exercise any functions, whether for a specified period or not, the power includes the power to remove or suspend him.’

“From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly clear that it is only the President who appointed Mr Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation and reappointed him to the office that is constitutionally empowered to suspend him or interdict him pending his investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“I believe that the Minister of Finance knows or ought to know that she lacks the power to suspend Mr Idris from duty since did not appoint or reappoint him as the Accountant-General of the Federation.

“It is hoped that the Federal Government has not deliberately played into the hands of Mr Idris to provide a legal escape route for him as he may soon challenge his suspension in the National Industrial Court. Since the action of the Minister is illegal and unconstitutional Mr Idris will win the case and an order will be made for his reinstatement.

“We are therefore compelled to call on President Buhari to suspend Mr Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation until further notice under section 11(1)(b) of the Interpretation Act. In the same vein, the President should appoint the Acting Accountant-General of the Federation in line with the law since the Finance Minister lacks the vires to make the appointment.”

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