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Lagos State has injected N19.4 billion into the construction of 114 inner roads, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said yesterday. The roads are spread across the 20 local governments and the 37 local council development areas (LCDAs). Ambode, who spoke at the inauguration of the roads held simultaneously in 10 local governments, said residents must guard the infrastructure provided by his administration jealously.

The governor was represented by his commissioners, monarchs and All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders at the inauguration of the projects. He assured the people that more projects would follow those already completed. At the inauguration of Etal Memunat and Omolanke roads in Onigbongbo Local Council Development Area yesterday, Ambode was represented by the Head of Service, Mrs. Olabowale Ademola and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Central Business District, Mr. Agbola Dabiri.

He said the projects provided direct employment for over 5,000 construction professionals and artisans and indirectly to over 10,000 others. The governor said the road projects were completed to fulfil his electoral promise to the people. He added that the administration remain committed to the concept of inclusive governance, where government policies, projects and programmes would be driven by the needs of the community.”

He said the roads span across 56.1 kilometres with 112 kilometres walkways and drainages and 56 kilometres of independently powered street lights that would help enhance the security and elevate the state mega city status. “We started this journey by asking our Community Development Associations (CDAs) to identify the roads in need of improvement in their areas. We received hundreds of requests and picked two per each local government to make 114 roads across the state.” The governor explained that to ensure transparency and accountability, the government established a bidding process in line with international best practices that produced 89 indigenous contractors that handled the construction.

He hailed the contractors for living up to expectations and delivering the project on time. “I want to thank our local contractors for delivering on this project and demonstrating the capacity of the construction industry in Lagos. I thanked the community leaders and officers, who monitored the project and the CDA members that persuaded their members to shift fences to allow roads to be expanded and resolve issues that might have stalled the projects.” The Sole Administrators of the LDA, Mr. Shamsideen Oloyede, said the construction of the roads would ease the challenges of gridlock and help improve the security in the area.

Oloyode appealed to residents to take advantage of the opportunity by maintaining the infrastructure so as to attract other projects. “We should let our maintenance culture be rife to preserve the highly capital intensive projects being commissioned statewide,” he said. A member of the residents association, Mr. Ibukunoluwa, thanked the governor for ending what he described as eight years of pain. He said the deplorable state of the road has been a big challenge to residents, adding that what they could not achieve within the last eight years had been fixed by the governor in just six months.

He assured the governor that the infrastructure would be protected, pledging support for the administration. Twenty roads from 10 local governments were inaugurated yesterday. They include Temidire and Molade Streets in Ajeromi, Erejuwa and Omitogun/Igbosere Street, Yaba; Matthew and Famuyiwa Street, Agege; Ademola Abiola and Bioyin Street, Ojokoro; Adeniji Oluwakemi and Bolaji Benson, Ikorodu central among others.

 

 

 

Judges who issue confliciting judgments were warned yesterday to pull the brakes on their action. The National Judicial Council (NJC) is probing their actions, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Mahmud Mohammed said. Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami (SAN) and a leader of the Body of Senior Advocates on Nigeria, T. J. O. Okpoko (SAN), just like Justice Mohammed, are also worried over the rising trend of conflicting judgments.

Justice Mohammed, Malami and Okpoko said instances where lower courts of coordinate jurisdiction render conflicting judgments on similar cases and at some instances, ignore established precedents were harmful to the integrity and reputation of the Judiciary. The CJN said judges found wanting would be punished.

Justice Mohammed, Malami and Okpoko spoke in Abuja at a special court session mark the opening of the Supreme Court’s 2016/2017 legal year and the swearing-in of new Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN). In all, 22 lawyers were conferred with the rank yesterday, among them the Director-General of the Nigerian Law School (NLS), Mr. Olanrewaju Onadeko.

The CJN said: “It is with great trepidation and dismay that I note the growing trend of the disregard for laid down precedent in decisions from various levels of courts, even the appellate court. “I am of the firm conviction that every court in Nigeria is bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court and shall not graft a different outcome from those expressly laid down by the Supreme Court.

“Such departures from precedent therefore risk creating the type of confusion, which is inimical to the trust reposed in us by the people and we risk our reputations, our integrity and even our existence by such indiscipline. “Several conflicting decisions were recklessly dished out by the Court of Appeal last year in appeals arising from various decisions of the Election Petitions Tribunals, given on election petitions filed by the parties who lost in the general elections conducted in April 2015.

“Such decisions were made as the result of flagrant refusal of the panels of the Court of Appeal involved to be bound not only by its own decisions but also by the decisions of this Court.”

“I therefore call on our judicial officers to have due respect for the law and strive to adjudicate in a manner that is premised upon the principles of Justice.  Little wonder therefore that people are now increasingly looking at Alternative Dispute Resolution in order to engender more certainty to the resolution of their disputes,” the CJN said.

Justice Mohammed, who frowned at moves to subvert the court’s succession tradition, stated that it was better to retain the practice where the most senior Justice succeeds a departing CJN. “While I would admit that there is no constitutional restriction as to where those to be appointed are selected from, the long-held practice, which I daresay has been apolitical, transparent and fair, has been to appoint the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court to the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

“With the exception of two Chief Justices, who were appointed from outside the Supreme Court during the military regimes and in exceptional circumstances, this system has proven to be seamless, predictable, respectable and dignified.

“The idea that we can appoint a legal practitioner, without the proven experience or the temperance of character developed through years of active participation in adjudication, may indeed be fraught with risk, none greater than the risk of creating another sinecure for party loyalists or reducing the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to one which can be ‘lobbied’ for.

“This will undoubtedly and irreversibly hurt our justice system and must be strenuously resisted,” he said. Justice Mohammed, who noted that the Supreme Court performed exceedingly well in the last legal year by handling 1489 cases, blamed delay in court process on lawyers.

“Sadly, certain members of the Bar are conspicuous in utilising unethical, frivolous applications and appeals, multiplicity of actions in courts of coordinate jurisdiction and other acts of calumny to frustrate the speedy dispensation of justice. “These abuses of court process not only occasion delays, but also diminish the standing of the justice system and the legal profession in the eyes of Nigerians,” he said.

The CJN added: “I am proud to say that by the will of Almighty, I am leaving the Supreme Court in a better shape than I met it.’’ Justice Mohammed is due to retire in November whe he will be 70.

Justice Mohammed said the last legal year witnessed transition in the ranks of the justices of the court, with the appointment of Justice Amiru Sanusi.

“While we are waiting for the confirmation of the appointment of two justices of the court by the Senate, the NJC is expected to consider and recommend the appointment of two additional justices at its meeting on Sept.28

“We also held valedictory sittings on the retirement of two of our brothers, in the persons of Justices Afolabi Fabiyi and Sailfullahi Muntaka-Coomasie into well deserved life of leisure and rest.

“I thank these two distinquished jurists and gentlemen for their invaluable contributions to the jurisprudence of the court and rest assured, they are sorely missed by us all,’’

The CJN, who frowned at the growing practice where lawyers encourage their clients to direct complaints against judicial officers to the President, urged the new SANs to uphold their professional ethics and conduct themselves in a manner beholding their new status.

Aside the various conflicting judgments handed out by the various divisions of the Court of Appeal in the post-2015 election cases, the Federal High Court and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have recently, given some judgments that appeared conflicting and confusing.

Two of such are the various decisions given so far in relation to the leadership crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the governorship dispute in Abia State.

While Justice Okon Abang (of the Federal High Court, Abuja) has consistently held that the Ali Modu Sheriff-led Executive Council of the PDP was the authentic body to take decisions on its behalf, Justice Ibrahim Watila (of the Federal High Court, Port-Harcourt) has upheld the leadership of the Ahmed Makarfi- committee.

Justice Nwamaka Ogbonna of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Kubwa added a twist to the PDP leadership crisis when, in a judgment onAugust 17, she restrained Sheriff from further parading himself as the Chairman of the PDP.

The judge hinged her decision on an earlier judgment by Justice Valentine Ashi (of the High Court of the FCT, Apo) where Ashi voided the amendment to the PDP constitution, on which basis Sheriff became the party’s Chairman.

In the Abia case, Justice Abang (of the Federal High Court, Abuja) upheld the cases of false tax information brought against Governor Okezie Ikpeazu by Sampson Ogah and Obasi Ekeagbala, and sacked the governor.

Justice Abang held that the plaintiffs in both cases proved their cases that Ikpeazu submitted false tax information to his party and was therefore not qualified to have contested the party’s primary.

However, another judge of the Owerri division of the Federal High Court, Justice   A.I Allagoa held in a separate case that the allegation against Ikpeazu was forgery, which the plaintiff in the case, Friday Nwosu could not prove.

Justice Allagoa dismissed the suit and held that the allegation that Ikpeazu forged his tax papers, which also was the kernel of the cases before Justice Abang, was not proved as required.

Malami, who was represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation (SGF), Taiwo Abidogun, sought the cooperation of the Judiciary in ensuring the Federal Government’s efforts at curbing corruption and terrorism.

The AGF, who noted that public confidence is important in the justice administration system, urged the leadership of the Judiciary to take steps to discourage activities that may result in the erosion of public confidence in the courts.

Okpoko, who spoke for the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, urged the NJC to be firm in dealing with judges found to have compromised their position in rendering conflicting decisions and disregarding existing precedents.

While lamenting the dwindling public respect for the Judiciary, Okpoko cautioned against engaging in unethical conduct, including accepting bribe.

“In our nation, as it stands today, no one needs to be told that the Bar and the Bench are at a cross road. For the Judiciary, the nation, in recent past has witnessed the show of shame brought about by court of coordinate jurisdiction assuming jurisdiction to hear the same dispute between the same parties and delivering verdicts that are totally in conflict with one another.

“For the Chief Justice of Nigeria, and the NJC, this is a very embarrassing development, and I call on the regulatory authorities to step in immediately to do the damage control so as to save our justice system from further ridicule. This is not just a matter of corruption. Conflicting judgments go to the very root of the judicial system.

Onadeko, who spoke for the new SANs, said they will work to uphold and positively advance the ethics and ethos of the profession, from their new position, bearing in mind the privilege, duties and responsibilities that their new status attracts.

 

 

 

AN Ado-Ekiti Chief Magistrate’s Court yesterday sentenced a herdsman, Ali Haruna, to two years imprisonment for grazing his cows on a farmland. The 18-year-old Haruna was sentenced by Chief Magistrate Idowu Ayenimo after he was found guilty of two-count charge of willful and unlawful damage of farm crops at Ago Aduloju settlement on the outskirts of Ado-Ekiti. Haruna was first arraigned in court on January 22, 2016 and four witnesses gave evidence against him that he was caught in the farm belonging to Abdullahi Yaho and Bello Muhammed in the midnight, grazing his herd of cows.

The cash crops destroyed by the cows in the farm included cassava, maize, okro and pepper – all valued at N3 million. The defendant, while testifying in court, revealed that the owner of the cows lived in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. The defence counsel, Chris Omokhafe, had prayed the court to be liberal in the dispensation of justice, saying that he was a first offender. The magistrate, in his judgment, said the court did not believe Haruna’s defence as it was not credible. He held that the police prosecutor, Sgt. Olasunkanmi Bankole, had proved his case beyond reasonable doubt.

Ayenimo, consequently, convicted the defendant as charged without an option of fine. The magistrate ordered that the sentence should run concurrently, explaining that the term was minimal because the offence was committed before the Grazing Law was assented to by Governor Ayo Fayose. The Ekiti State House of Assembly recently passed a bill prohibiting open grazing in unauthorised places and also criminalised bearing of arms by herdsmen. The bill was sponsored by the Executive after the killing of two persons by suspected herdsmen in Oke Ako community in Ikole Local Government Area.

The new law criminalises grazing in some places and certain time limit in the state. Signing the bill, Fayose said that the new law would check cases of incessant attacks or killings of local residents and destruction of farmlands by herdsmen and their cattle.He added that the law would also strengthen security in various communities across the state, adding that anyone that fouled the law stood the risk of being treated as terrorist.

“With the signing into law of this bill today, anyone caught grazing with arms or any weapon in Ekiti would now be charged with terrorism and be made to face the law according to certain sections of it,” he said.

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has, in recent months, raised its debt recovery drive. Its Head of Corporate Communications, Jude Nwauzor speaks on the corporation’s rising commitment to recover delinquent loans and the criticisms they are generating, writes COLLINS NWEZE.

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has said it has recorded significant progress in debt recovery since it published its top 100 delinquent debtors earlier in the year.

Speaking in Lagos, AMCON Head of Corporate Communications, Jude Nwauzor said although the corporation is yet to publish new list of debtors, there has been positive developments in the areas of takeovers of assets, recoveries and resolutions. He said the corporation is in court with a good number of these obligors and  could not reel out names.

On hindrances to debt recovery, he said: There are a lot of factors. For example, we are in court with a good number of obligors and you know the wheel of justice in Nigeria grinds slowly, which presents some kind of temporary or extended cover for these debtors.

“If it is possible for the courts to give accelerated hearing to AMCON-related cases, recoveries would be a lot easier. Secondly, the harsh economic realities pose significant challenge. Nobody will shy away from the fact that the country has slipped into recession, which makes it even more difficult for both businesses and individuals.” Continuing, he said: “If that is the situation now, then you can imagine how difficult it has become for AMCON to recover or even dispose assets. But in the face of all these challenges, AMCON is undaunted because my MD/CEO reminds every member of staff in the Corporation that AMCON’s job remains a national assignment because the success of the corporation has direct effect on the success of the Nigerian economy.”

AMCON MD’s first one year in office

Assessing AMCON Managing Director/CEO, Ahmed Kuru’s first year in office, he said:

“I believe he has achieved a lot because he sort of hit the ground running, as it were, when he assumed office on August 18, last year. He has been engaging obligors in finding permanent resolution to their debts and I can tell you that a good measure of progress has been recorded. Do not forget he is dealing with debts that were hard-core with the commercial banks in the first instance before they arrived AMCON.”

Speaking further, he said: “Aside that, he has seriously sharpened the business processes in the corporation in addition to sound corporate governance. His administration in AMCON adopted aggressive recovery strategies that have led to increased repayment from hitherto recalcitrant obligors. He has also introduced some value enhanced exit plans through partnerships with investors to revive failing companies in AMCON’s portfolio, which will attract the much sort after foreign investors to the country.”

“Part of his strategy was the introduction of Asset Management Partners (AMPs) to assist the corporation in recoveries. The AMPs are consortiums with specialist skills required to ensure recovery and debt resolution; banking, legal, valuation and accounting. The move will make it possible for AMCON to resolve over 6,000 accounts with loan balances of N100 million and below,” he said.

Nwauzor explained that within the period, AMCON has successfully divested from other intervened banks outside of the bridged banks; intervened in Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN), a leading automobile manufacturer in the country, which saved a lot of jobs and guaranteed business continuity; repaid coupon on Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Note totaling N241.7 billion ($1.2 billion); repaid interest on CBN Debenture totaling N15 billion ($76.3 million) as well as working to stabilise the aviation sector through key strategic interventions in some of them that are experiencing distress due to the current economic situation in the country”.

“Without sounding immodest, I am very sure President Mohammadu Buhari must be impressed with his choice of Ahmed Kuru to steer the ship of AMCON at this challenging time in the history of the country. I say that because following a request from my boss, Mr. President, a few months back, inaugurated what he called Presidential Inter-Agency Committee on recovery of loans owed Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria. The committee is chaired by no other person than the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,” he added.

Forces against AMCON’s operations

Speaking on why some people are against AMCON and its activities despite its achievements in the industry, the AMCON spokesman said:I would like you to take a critical look at the crop of individuals that are against AMCON; they fall within the category of die-hard debtors, who contributed in destabilising the Nigerian economy. Well-meaning Nigerians are happy with AMCON activities except a few that are heavily indebted, but trying hard to circumvent the law.”

Furthermore, he said: “Again, mention one disgruntled person that is not on the list of AMCON debtors. Those assets AMCON took over, which sparked off the spate of so-called attacks on AMCON, were done after we have explored all avenues and channels of peaceful resolutions; having fulfilled due judicial procedures. But unfortunately for them, sponsoring media articles against AMCON or hiring the ‘so-called industry experts’ will not erase the huge debt they owe the corporation and I am sure you know that such campaigns of calumny only strengthens our MD because he is not deterred and will never be deterred by such distractions.”

 

On whether AMCON will takeover more businesses

Speaking on the likelihood of the corporation taking over more businesses in the last quarter of this financial year, Nwauzor said:It all depends on a number of legal and business dynamics. What I know is that AMCON will continue to take careful steps in discharging its assignments within the ambit of the law. In a subtle manner, the corporation will aggressively and decisively coerce all delinquent debtors to the path of resolution, especially now that we are in an era where sacred cows are no longer recognised or celebrated in Nigeria. Remember that Kuru proved himself as a change agent and a turn-around expert before arriving AMCON. He will replicate the same feat in AMCON.

“AMCON, more than ever before, has sharpened its resolution mechanism. However, obligors are given the opportunity to come forward; otherwise the full extent of the AMCON Act would be applied without favours.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

After defeating Honduras in the third place match at the Olympics soccer event on Saturday (Aug. 20), Nigeria’s players ended up with bronze medals on their necks and thousands of dollars in their pockets—thanks to Katsuya Takasu, a Japanese plastic surgeon.

The grinning Takasu flew into Rio to rewarded the team with $390,000 for their bronze medal win at the Rio Games after being impressed by the team’s resilience despite the haphazard planning and poor conditions before and during the Games.

After the Nigerian team was left stranded in Atlanta, USA, ahead of the Games because their flights had not been paid for, their plight made headlines. Eventually, the team landed in Rio just seven hours ahead of their first game, against Japan. But despite the less than ideal circumstances, the team served up an impressive performance to beat the Japan and eventually finished top of their group. But the money troubles didn’t end there. Hours before the quarterfinal match against Denmark, Nigeria’s players threatened to boycott the game in protest over unpaid allowances. After reading the team’s financial struggles, Takasu said he “felt the need to make a big contribution.”

    Japanese plastic surgeon Katsuya Takasu has delivered on his promise of giving the #Nigeria U23 team $10,000 each pic.twitter.com/VA6VLXN377

    — Babatunde Koiki (@BabatundeKoiki) August 20, 2016

Takasu donated $200,000 to the team to “cover bonuses and allowances” and also donated $10,000 to all members of the 18-man team as well as the team manager for winning bronze. Takasu flew to Rio to personally deliver cheques to the team.

“I had traveled from Tokyo prepared to reward them anyway, and to watch them win the bronze inside the stadium was very fulfilling,” he told BBC.

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