​FIDA Cautions Gov. Inuwa Over Appointment of Substantive Chief Judge

By Habila Victor

The International Federation of Women Lawyers, (FIDA) Gombe branch has cautioned the Governor of Gombe State, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, to shun any advice or actions that promotes discrimination.

FIDA, advised the Governor to uphold the letter and the spirit of Constitution and his oath of office to do justice to all for the benefit and in the interest of the good people of Gombe State.

A statement jointly signed by the Chairperson, Elizabeth Jaloe-Okotie and the Secretary, Mwalin Naomi Abdu of FIDA, on Wednesday, noted that the appointment of Chief Judge in the State, has raised question of injustice against female justices in the state.

The said that it has been in the public space for over a year now and has been taken up by various civil society groups and non-governmental organisations like the Centre for Public Accountability who have decried the injustice perpetrated against female judges in recent times.

According to the statement; “It is no longer news that indeed on two different occasions, the Gombe State Judicial Service Commission has sent a list of nominees excluding the name of Justice Beatrice Iliya to the National Judicial Council for recommendation to the Governor on the appointment of the susbtantive Chief Judge. This clearly confirms our earlier agitations that the Governor intends to edge out Justice Beatrice Iliya from being appointed as the substantive Chief Judge in Gombe State, which at the time, were labeled baseless allegations but has gradually become our reality as at present”.

“Alas, what FIDA Gombe described then as our fears that the Governor was seeking to bypass Hon. Justice Beatrice Iliya for no justifiable basis to appoint Hon. Justice M.A Pindiga as the Chief Judge who is by far, her junior at the Bar and the Bench has now materialized as the acting capacity of Justice M. A Pindiga has been renewed for four times now”. 

“Interestingly, the provision of S. 271(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which, though was clearly applied out of context, was cited by the Governor as the basis for his refusal to extend the acting capacity of Justice Beatrice Iliya was not given the same interpretation when it came to renewing and extending the acting capacity of the current Acting Chief Judge”.

“It is our stand that S. 271(4) of the Constitution was meant to prevent the present situation occurring in the Gombe State where after one year following the retirement of the former Chief Judge, there is yet to be appointed a substantive Chief Judge for the State and not meant to perpetrate injustice against female judges”.

“We are also aware that some quarters have feebly advanced the argument that the consideration of seniority as a factor to be borne in mind in appointing substantive Heads of Court is not a constitutional requirement but a convention. It is our position that the mere fact that it is accepted as a convention means it has come to be accepted as good and fair practice over the years”.

“It is also our position and it stands to reason that if for any reason there should be a departure from this convention as we have seen in the cases where the most senior judge in the State happens to be a female, there should be some extenuating circumstances to warrant such departure”. 

“Until present, in all cases where female judges have been on the receiving end of this unjust action, we have not been presented with any such circumstances or justifiable reason including the case of Justice Beatrice Iliya in Gombe State for the departure from this accepted convention”. 

The Women Lawyers commended the National Judicial Council for not rubber-stamping the action sought to be taken by the Governor of Gombe State against Justice Beatrice Iliya who has served the Gombe State Judiciary selflessly for over 20 years as a Judge. 

“We received the news that the National Judicial Council has rejected the nominations sent by the State Judicial Service Commission twice which excluded the name of Justice Beatrice Iliya from the list of nominees for no justifiable reason. We pray that they will not relent in upholding truth and justice until the right thing is done by the State to preserve our democracy and fundamental right against discrimination on basis of gender or religion”. They said.

The Women Lawyers also commended the effort of civil society groups and non-governmental organisations like the Centre for Public Accountability amongst others, who have taken up the fight on behalf of the female judges to condemn the injustice perpetrated against them.

​Minister orders overhaul of Super Eagles

Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has called for an overhaul of the Super Eagles technical and administrative structure to achieve better results.

The minister gave the order on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) officials to review the Technical Report of the Nigeria/Sierra Leone AFCON Qualifiers and other matters.

Mr. John Joshua-Akanji, Special Adviser to the minister, disclosed this in a statement.

The minister stressed the need to adhere strictly to the terms of contact of Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr, especially on performance and development of the game.

“The recent dismal performance of the Super Eagles in their qualifiers against Sierra Leone has raised a few concerns and brought to fore, the need to do a quick critique.

“The government, while concerned about the dismal performance and non-discernible pattern of play and team harmony in the Super Eagles, is looking beyond the outcome of Nigeria versus Sierra Leone matches and AFCON.

“We are looking at the present and future administration of football that speaks to the development of the front room and backroom,” he said.

Dare emphasised the need for the NFF to hold Rohr to the terms of his contract.

“The NFF must tightly hold the Technical Adviser to the KPIs in his contract. Thus, we cannot wait for those conditions to come to life before we tighten the screws or demand higher or better performance, better technical depth, better player mix, and team harmony, and a functional national team.

“The Federal Government will ask the tough and relevant questions. The NFF should do the same. The right of Nigerians to ask of government and indeed NFF explanations for dismal performances and football administration cannot be simply characterised as interference.

“On our part, we will work to support the NFF but we will also demand answers and changes too on behalf of Nigerians.

“CAF and FIFA, while we appreciate their working partnerships, are expected to support Nigeria in its quest to ensure an effectual football administration.

“Football is now both business and politics. A tool of diplomacy. Governments are more than interested in how it’s run. The FGN is interested even beyond that. Football is a source of national pride. A rallying point and promoter of peace and unity.

“Nigeria at this point must use the opportunity of the outcome of the Nigeria/Sierra Leone match to X-ray other factors beyond the technical adviser that must have contributed to the dismal performance,” he added.

Earlier, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, while providing a background to what happened, assured the minister that NFF would be more proactive going forward.

He said a few changes and adjustments as discussed and suggested by the ministry will be put into motion.

Pinnick said some of the changes to the team would include a physical trainer, nutritionist, a psychologist, and at least two-match readers.

He also emphasised the need to inject three to four home-based players into the team, picked from the professional league, while Rohr must-watch weekly NPFL games and evolve a scientific template to benchmark the performance of the team.

​Selfish Northerners opposing restructuring, says Gov El-Rufai

…Discloses why APC stepped down restructuring bill in 2018

…Says APC still committed to restructuring

 …Notes opposition elements don’t represent North

…Advocates for state police, state judicial autonomy

The Kaduna State Governor and Chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC, Restructuring Committee, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, yesterday took a swipe at Northerners opposed to restructuring of the country, saying they were doing so for selfish reasons.

He also said the draft bill produced on restructuring by his committee in January 2018 was stepped down for fear of politicization, ahead of 2019 general elections.

However, El-Rufai’s comments drew the ire of Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, and its counterpart in the South-East, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, who described it as a ploy to hoodwink Nigerians.

But the governor, who spoke while fielding questions at a panel discussion at the on-going 26th Nigerian Economic Summit, NESG, holding at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, pointed out that there was a difference between the position of Northern Elders Forum, NEF, against restructuring and northerners as a people.

He argued that there were over one hundred million Northerners whose interests were at stake, maintaining that whatever advantages an individual was getting for himself did not apply directly to the entire north.

‘No advantages to the North’

“We have the highest number of out-of-school children. We have the highest poverty rate. We have the lowest JAMB cut-off rate. So, what are the a dvantages to the North in the current situation?

“As governor of Kaduna State, I have had to look at these issues and try to see how I can get the people of my state up on the ladder. I think you need to differentiate the knowledge from a few and the voice of the silent majority,” he said.

El-Rufai, however, regretted that certain people present restructuring in a derogatory way in a manner that portrayed all the northerners as backward people.

He said: “The way some people present restructuring is so insulting and derogatory. We should have an honest conversation on what is working and what is not. We don’t have anything to benefit making derogatory remarks against a particular group of people because of restructuring.

“If there are northern leaders today by virtue of the fact that I am a governor, I must be there. So, who are these northerners against restructuring? Who are they? Who are they speaking for? So, let us have a very honest, unemotional conversation without looking down on people or insulting them or framing them.”

‘APC still committed to restructuring’

El-Rufai, who noted that some interested members of his party are making frantic efforts to get the draft bill presented to the National Assembly for consideration before the end of tenure of the present administration, said the ruling party is still committed to restructuring.

The governor spoke while fielding questions at a panel discussion at the on-going 26th Nigerian Economic Summit, NESG, holding at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

He explained that the committee made bold recommendations at the time and prepared a draft bill for onward transmission to the National Assembly which every law maker could take up and sponsor as a private bill.

According to him, “we do not need executive bill to start action on the draft bill submitted by the committee.”

The governor insisted that it was the position of the party and the President to see the draft bill passed into law, assuring that consideration of the bill would soon commence.

“The consideration could be done piecemeal as we do not require an omnibus amendment of the constitution to restructure the country,” he said.

‘Violence worse in Northern Kaduna than its South’

On insecurity in Southern Kaduna, the governor posited that the violence in Northern Kaduna was more devastating than the insecurity in Southern Kaduna as perceived by the public.

He, however, declined to speak in details about the real cause of the violence, promising that he would make himself available only if a separate session would be arranged to discuss the issue.

“Though, the violence in Southern Kaduna has been over-reported, the insecurity in Northern Kaduna — Birnin Gwari, is more than that in Southern Kaduna. But the newspapers based in Lagos and Abuja choose to focus on Southern Kaduna rather than what is really happening,” he said.

The governor noted that the crisis was over 200 years old and could not be tackled in a minute.

On population, El-Rufai argued that population could only be controlled through education of the girl-child.

“Countries that controlled birth rate through legislation are now reversing it. There is a lot of debate on that because countries that have tried to curtail demographic growth like China have now reversed themselves.

“Singapore even pays you to have children. The current thinking in developing economies is that population growth is not bad if you can ensure that the population is educated and healthy.

“But at the state level, we are all trying our best to reduce fertility level. And what is the best way? The best way is to educate girls. If you make sure that your girls are educated, you immediately reduce fertility level.

“The way is to ensure that the girls get at least senior secondary school level because now they take their fate in their own hands. They start at least from the age of 18.”

It’s a game to hoodwink the unwary — Afenifere

Reacting yesterday, Afenifere, in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, said: “El-Rufai can go to an assembly of fools and tell them such fallacious fabrications and they will cheer him but he should know that he cannot say that to enlightened people. This is Taqqiya next level.

“If his reason was valid, why have they not reintroduced it after the 2019 elections? He will say it is because of COVID-19 and EndSARS? These fellows take fellow citizens to be fools. There is no game they will not play on the way to 2023 to hoodwink the unwary.”

Nigerians now wiser — Ohanaeze

On its part, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said Nigerians were wiser now to be hoodwinked, adding that the only thing that would convince Nigerians was for APC to ensure restructuring of the country before 2023.

Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Emeka Attamah, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said what would excite Nigerians would be to hear that President Buhari has ordered the restructuring of Nigeria.

“Why is it that this administration thrives on lies? There is no programme of theirs that they promised Nigerians that has been realised.

“One would recall that it was in the build-up to the 2019 elections when the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum was agitating for restructuring that APC half-heartedly set up the Governor El-Rufai Committee and no sooner was the election conducted and they consigned whatever recommendations they made to the dustbin.

“Now, they have come again. Motion without movement. I think Nigerians are wiser now and cannot be hoodwinked by any tongue in cheek pretentions any longer.

“Until they take any visibly convincing steps this time around, the whole El-Rufai story is hogwash. Restructuring is incontrovertibly inevitable before Nigeria collapses.

“Let them carry out the restructuring of the country before the 2023 elections to acquire some vestige of credibility before Nigerians and the international community.

“Let the breaking news be: President Buhari orders the restructuring of Nigeria immediately. By that, he would have written his name in gold. All the sins of this administration will be forgiven and forgotten and he will become one of the greatest, if not the greatest leader of Nigeria.”

APC govt not honest with Nigerians— PANDEF

Apex socio-cultural organization of the South South geo-political zone, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has said that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is not honest with Nigerians.

National Chairman of the forum, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, retd, made the remark yesterday while reacting to a statement by Governor El-Rufai that the draft bill on restructuring recommended by his committee was stepped down in 2018 due to its politicization ahead of the 2019 general polls.

His words: “The call for restructuring Nigeria did not start today. Even the All Progressives Congress, APC, came into power because when they were campaigning in 2015, they had said that they will restructure Nigeria.

“Unfortunately, when they came in they refused to do that, and people were surprised. In fact Nigerians started asking questions on that, reminding them that this is what you said you will do, that was why they (APC government) decided to set up that El-Rufai’s committee.

“I am just hearing it now that the draft bill was stepped down, that must have been an internal thing within the party, and it means that they were not honest in the first instance, because if they stepped it down in 2014 against 2015, why would they step it down when the committee met.

“I think they are not honest to Nigerians. And PANDEF is asking Nigerians to stand up and save this country instead of leaving it to go in disarray before they will now say okay we want to restructure it. This is the time to do it, in fact before the next election.

Nkanga noted that El-Rufai’s information however was not necessary now, as PANDEF would not stop talking about restructuring the country

He reiterated that restructuring Nigeria is not in the hands of any individual, group or political party, stressing that “it is a national discuss and the whole country must stand up and restructure it, it is what can save this country.”