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How Obasanjo Caused Nigeria’s Woes – Falana

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Femi Falana

Human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has said former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s rejection of the Minority Report of the Constitutional Drafting Committee of 1976, co-authored by Drs. Segun Osoba and Yusufu Bala Usman, is one of the major causes of Nigeria’s woes.

He spoke at the public presentation of the Minority Report and Draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1976) at the University of Lagos auditorium on Tuesday.

The event had in attendance dignitaries such as Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, former President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC); Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu; Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training (CEDDERT), and Omoba Tunde Ajibulu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Going down memory lane, Falana, who reviewed the draft constitution, said majority of the problems being experienced in Nigeria today such as the raging insecurity, kidnappings, youth unemployment would have been addressed if the minority report had been adopted.

Falana, who said the military government headed by Obasanjo rejected the report in a hostile manner, added that “Nigeria could possibly have avoided the current obstacles to genuine democracy and sustainable human development if some of the questions posed and the answers provided by Osoba and Usman, two leading lights of the Nigerian left, in their unambiguously progressive Report and Draft of 1976 had been considered.

“As part of the initial steps towards the transition to civil rule in 1975, the regime of General Murtala Mohammed gave a committee of 49 eminent Nigerians the job of producing a draft constitution for the Second Republic, which was scheduled to begin on October 1, 1979.

“Two members of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) fundamentally disagreed on ideological grounds with the report supported by the majority of 47 others.

“On the question of human progress, the philosophical divergence between the minority and the majority within the CDC was too wide to expect a compromise. Hence, the minority came up with the document under review today.

“By the time the report was ready, Murtala had been killed in an abortive coup and his second-in-command, General Olusegun Obasanjo, was now in charge.

“Regrettably, the Obasanjo regime rejected, in a most hostile manner, the Minority Report, as it is now known in Nigeria’s political history.

“The report of the majority was decreed into the 1979 constitution, the basic content of which has formed the nucleus of the subsequent constitutions including the Decree 24 of 1999, otherwise called the 1999 constitution.

“Let us quickly dispense with the regrets, as the actual spirit of this occasion is to engender hope about the future of Nigeria.

“A critical reading of the publication being presented today would bring to the fore the radical diagnosis and the extraordinary prescience in the prescriptions for the Nigerian condition made by the authors.

“This is despite the fact that the authors, Dr. Olusegun Osoba and Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman, both radical historians, wrote 43 years ago that they never pretended to put forward ‘a perfect document’.

“In the true tradition of self-criticism that is the hallmark of leftist thinkers, they readily admitted ‘faults and inadequacies’ in the document.”

Falana also said the Minority Report was pro-masses as it addressed majority of the challenges being faced by the average Nigerian as well as accountability by public officials.

“Other similarly remarkable provisions encapsulated in the draft, but were regrettably rejected by the Obasanjo regime, include those on accountability by those in power; the purpose and management of political parties, as well as the appointment of a prime minister by the elected president for the purpose of diffusing power.

“In fact, given the progressive ferments of the 1970s, these two progressive constitution writers could not have imagined the current crisis of the economy, society and politics,” he said.

Inside Nigeria

COVID-19: Chinese Doctors Arrive Nigeria Today, To Spend One Month

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Despite opposition by the Nigerian Medical Association, the visiting 15-member medical team from China will arrive the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on a chattered Air Peace aircraft on Wednesday (today).

The personnel, who are experts in infectious diseases, respiratory illness, intensive care, cardiology, neurology, general surgery and anesthesiology, will be coming with their drugs, and equipment to carry out COVID-19 tests on the staff of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation in the country.

The Executive Director, CCECC, Mr Jacques Liao, said in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, that the medical team would be coming with 16-ton test kits, ventilators, disinfection machine, disposable medical masks, drugs, infrared thermometer and other items ordered by the Federal Government.

Liao dispelled what he described as the controversy about the team’s visit, stating that “the primary purpose of the team is to provide CECC employees with critical and necessary healthcare.”

He added, “All members of the working team have tested negative for COVID-19 and shall commence their stay in Nigeria by spending 14 days in quarantine.

“The primary purpose of the team is to provide CCECC employees with critical and necessary health care assistance. They are also coming with adequate personal protective equipment and medical items for the employees.”

The director explained that under the directive of the Embassy of China in Nigeria and in response to the Federal Government’s request, the team may also share with their Nigerian counterparts effective methods on COVID-19 containment.

Liao explained that in keeping with CCECC’s corporate value, ‘stride with Nigeria,’ the firm would be participating in the construction of two COVID-19 response facilities in the Federal Capital Territory for free.

Meanwhile, the Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives has rejected the decision of the Federal Government to bring in Chinese doctors and nurses to assist in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawmakers on Tuesday said the decision to bring in people from “the hotbed of the plague” was not in Nigeria’s best interest. They urged the Federal Government to suspend the plan.

Their position was contained in a statement signed by the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta), in Abuja, on Tuesday.

Elumelu, said the caucus wanted the Federal Government to rescind its decision to import doctors from the “hotbed of the plague into our country at this critical time.”

The statement read in part, “The lawmakers note that Nigerian doctors and nurses are doing well so far in managing the scourge, and express fears that bringing in Chinese medical personnel, whose status, intentions and scope cannot be easily ascertained and controlled is totally against our national interest.

“The Federal Government should note the apprehensions of Nigerians and professional bodies including the Nigeria Medical Association over the decision. The caucus notes that this is particularly after alleged escalation of the pandemic in certain countries after Chinese doctors were reportedly involved, in addition to widespread trepidations over the safety of medical equipment and kits from China at this point in time.

“At such critical time, the safety and wellbeing of our citizens must be paramount and anything that is capable of further jeopardising their lives must be avoided.” (Punch)

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Inside Nigeria

BREAKING: Nigeria Records 16 New Cases Of Coronavirus

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Tuesday night announced sixteen new cases of the Coronavirus,

Ten cases were recorded in Lagos; two cases were recorded in the FCT, two in Oyo, one in Delta and one in Katsina

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to 254.

44 have so far been discharged with six deaths recorded.

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UK Joins US To Block $110M Abacha Looted Funds From Getting Transferred To Bagudu

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Bagudu

The United Kingdom has joined the United States in resisting a plan by the Federal Government to hand over nearly $110 million of funds the American authorities say was stolen by late dictator Sani Abacha to Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.

According to Bloomberg, the governments of Nigeria, the UK and the US, are involved in a dispute over investment portfolios worth 141 million euros ($155 million) traced to Abacha and held in trust for Bagudu, the governor of Nigeria’s northern state of Kebbi, and his family.

Nigeria is seeking the approval of a U.K. court to take ownership of the assets before returning 70% of the proceeds to Bagudu under the terms of a 2018 deal.

The U.K. government’s National Crime Agency “is opposing the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s application,” according to a motion filed by Bagudu’s brother, Ibrahim, to the District Court for the District of Columbia in the U.S. capital on March 30.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in February that its Nigerian counterpart is hindering its efforts to recover the allegedly laundered money from the U.K.

The U.S department of Justice is accusing Bagudu, 58, of being part of a network controlled by Abacha that “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria.”

While successive Nigerian governments have repatriated billions of dollars looted by Abacha, who died in office in 1998, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari says it’s prevented from assisting the U.S.’s ongoing forfeiture efforts by an agreement between Bagudu and a previous government in 2003.

Abacha is estimated to have stolen as much as $5 billion during his five-year rule.

That 2003 settlement, which was approved by a U.K. court, allowed Bagudu to return $163 million to Nigeria “without admitting to wrongdoing,” according to U.S. court filings.

In return, the government dropped all outstanding civil and criminal claims against him.

Bagudu was elected a senator in 2009 and the governor of Kebbi State six years later.

Five years after the U.S. launched fresh forfeiture proceedings against him, Bagudu and Buhari’s administration struck a new accord in October 2018 to transfer ownership of the investment portfolios to the Nigerian state, which would immediately pay 98.5 million euros to the Kebbi governor and his affiliates.

The terms of the updated settlement can’t be implemented while Nigeria’s application in a U.K. court is pending and a freezing order is still in place, according to a motion by Ibrahim Bagudu, who is entitled to a $100,000 annuity from the funds and is contesting the U.S. confiscation efforts.

Although the DoJ and NCA oppose the 2018 settlement, Ibrahim Bagudu and the U.S. government “recently commenced preliminary discussions regarding a potential negotiated resolution to this matter,” according to a motion filed by the U.S. government to the district court on March 13.

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