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National Assembly Will Pass Budget Before December 31 — Lawan

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Ahmad Lawan

Senate President Ahmad Lawan Tuesday said that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are to appear before Committees of the Senate this month to defend their votes in the 2020 Budget.

He stated this at the presentation of the budget by President Muhammadu Buhari during a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The Senate President said for timely passage of the budget, all MDAs should appear before the committees for the defence within this month.

Lawan said the national assembly committees were ready to receive ministers and other heads of agencies for the budget defence

“We have earmarked the month of October to be the sole window for all budget defence activities in this year by all MDAs.

“Our committees will be expected to conclude their work on budget defence within October 2019.

“The subsequent necessary legislative work will be carried out in November and December leading to eventual passage before December 31.”

Lawan said that the presentation of the budget marked another day of exercising the constitutional obligations and mandates by both the legislature and the executive as provided for in Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution.

“This function being the first in the Ninth National Assembly, makes it even more significant as both the legislature and the executive have demonstrated readiness and commitment to work together in order to pass the 2020 budget in a good and desirable time.

“Clearly, this effort is to enable the Federal Government provide those laudable objectives of physical infrastructure and socio-economic services to our citizens,” he said.

He further said that the public and the private sectors needed a reliable and predictable budget cycle for the planning and execution of fiscal and financial policies and programmes.

“It is therefore, necessary that the present cycle is changed to January-December.

“In this regard, the national assembly and the executive must work together to ensure the realisation of the important objective.”

Lawan said that the National Assembly, after the receipt of the budget, would swing into action to start work immediately.

He said: “Both chambers of the national assembly have constituted their committees, we are therefore, ready to start processing the budget.

“The National Assembly will treat the 2020 budget with the same commitment or even more.

“In our effort to pass the budget, we will also be guided by the legislative requirement of a thorough scrutiny,” Lawan said.

The President of the Senate also promised that the National Assembly would fast track the amendment of the Public Procurement Act 2007 to ensure effective and efficient budget implementation.

He said that over the years, the public procurement process appeared to be encumbered by a lengthy bidding process and inadequate mobilization of funds among other limitations of the Act as amended.

“These tend to delay execution of government programmes and projects, or even stalled achieving the execution.

“The national assembly will fast track the amendment of the Act to ensure effective and efficient implementation of our budgets.”

He said that the assembly would ensure that the Federal Government was better enabled to provide enhanced security for protection of lives and property of Nigerians.

“We will also ensure an improved and revitalised economy that is all inclusive; able to create and sustain employment opportunities for our teeming youths; taking Nigerians out of poverty to prosperity and sustainable development.

“The budget estimates would remain what they are, estimates, until we are able to generate and receive the necessary revenues to fund and foot the bills.”

He assured Buhari of the readiness of the Assembly to partner with the administration to achieve all the goals and targets of taking Nigeria to the `Next Level` of development and prosperity.

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Inside Nigeria

Buhari Not Interested In Fighting Insurgency — Galadima

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Buhari and Buba Galadim

Former spokesperson for the presidential council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari has no genuine interest in fighting insurgency and other security challenges facing the country. He said this is the main reason why he has refused to change the military service chiefs.

The elder statesman who made his feelings known during an interview with Daily Independent said it was a thing of worry that President Buhari refuses to replace the military service chiefs as they have obviously failed in their duties to the country.

Galadima went ahead to allege that the only reason he could deduce for President Buhari’s stubbornness on the issue is the fact that his personal Marabouts (spiritual guide) must have advised him against it despite the outcry of prominent Nigerians.

According to Galadima;

“I have spoken a lot on this matter in the last one year. I don’t think the President has genuine interest in fighting any insurgency. He is like a deaf and dumb”.

A lot of Nigerians have told him the proper thing to do but he doesn’t listen to advice. Whatever you tell him, he doesn’t accept. If not, any serious person who has the welfare and security of his people at heart, would have fired the entire Service Chiefs three, four years ago and bring another people who are capable of doing the job”.

But he will not do it because he must have been instructed by his Marabouts that he shouldn’t remove them for whatever reason. That is the only reason I can give for his not replacing them”.

So, we are just wasting our time by asking him to do so. The man is insensitive to people’s feelings, opinions and the advice well-meaning Nigerians are giving him”.

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Inside Nigeria

Bill To Strip The President Of Powers To Order For Forfeiture Of Assets Of Accused Persons, Scales Second Reading

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A bill seeking to strip the president of the powers to order for forfeiture of assets of accused persons has scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.

The discretionary power previously granted to the president to order for forfeiture of assets was on Thursday, July 2, transferred to the judges of a High Court.

The bill, which was passed in plenary, yesterday, July 2, is sponsored by the Deputy Speaker, Mr Ahmed Wase and is entitled “a bill for an act to amend the currency conversion (freezing orders) act cap. C.43, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to give discretionary powers to the judge of a High Court, to order forfeiture of assets of affected persons and for related matters.”

Presenting the bill, the deputy speaker said, “It is noteworthy that the provision for forfeiture in our laws is geared towards ensuring that persons found guilty of offenses do not benefit from the proceeds of those offences.”

He said the discretionary power previously granted to the president by the Principal Act is hereby being replaced by that of a High Court Judge to bring it in line with the spirit of the constitution.

Wase argued that the provision, which vest in the president the power to order forfeiture of property (both movable or immovable) “is not in spirit with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and hence the need for its amendment.

“Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) guarantees the fundamental right of individuals to movable and immovable properties, which shall not be deprived except in specified circumstances which include the ‘imposition of penalties or forfeiture for the breach of any law whether under any civil process or after conviction for an offence’. (S. 44 (2) (c).

“Mr Speaker, colleagues, it is our submission that such breach, can only be determined by the judge of a court and should never be at the discretion of the president.

“It is further noted that the discretion of the president to order the forfeiture of property of an accused person can be subjected to executive abuses and recklessness. Section 9 in the Principal Act does not provide any mechanism (whether legal or administrative) through which the President may exercise this power. Instead the power is left solely at the discretion of the President.

“In a country that has witnessed reckless abuse of political and administrative powers, it will be dangerous to allow such unchecked arrogation of powers to determine the forfeiture of a person’s properties.”

“Such discretion to be exercised by the president can be contrary to the natural doctrine of fair trial as it amounts to the executive being a prosecutor and a ‘Judge’ in its own case.

“This negates the spirit of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) specifies the conditions under which a person can be deprived of movable or immovable properties and that is: ‘under any civil or after conviction for an offence’ after a fair trial.

“The president cannot therefore, usurp the powers of the courts for such will run foul of the doctrine of Separation of Powers.

“Vesting in the president the power to make forfeiture order smack of the era of military dictatorship where the Head of State and Head of the Supreme Military Council and unilaterally order the forfeiture of properties of persons without recourse to any judicial mechanism. This cannot be allowed to exit in a democracy. I therefore urge you all to support this amendment bill.”

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Inside Nigeria

NCDC Blames Youths For Rapid COVID-19 Spread In The Country

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has blamed youths for the rapid COVID-19 spread in the country.

Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the NCDC Director-General stated this during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Thursday, July 2, in Abuja.

He said youths between the ages of 20 and 40 were responsible for the spread of COVID-19, while the majority of those who succumb to the killer disease are older people from 50 years and above.

He said, “As more people are infected across the world, you would have seen the numbers; it is increasingly obvious that transmission among younger people really, not children, but people aged between 20 and 40 as far as we know, are really driving the spread of this virus, but those that are bearing the brunt of it are people age 50 and above.

“Three out of five people who died from COVID-19 are 50 years and above; so we have to work harder, all of us collectively, to protect our elderly. We are on the verge of opening our airports, we have relaxed intercity travel.”

As of July 2, there are 27,110 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the country. 10,801 patients have been discharged and 616 deaths have been recorded.

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