The former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu has described the political crises in Edo state as an embarrassment and an affront to Nigerian democracy.
Senator Ekweremadu was speaking on the sideline of the Enugu Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) congress to elect new executives of the party at the state level.
According to Mr. Ekweremadu, the people of Edo state should be given the opportunity to exercise their franchise and elect who they want as their leader.
Ekweremadu called on all the players irrespective of party affiliation to desist from any act that will threaten the young democracy of Nigerian.
“What is happening in Edo State is an affront in democracy, I believe this is not supposed to be so.
“The people should be allowed to decide who their leader should be and that is the difference between democracy and other forms of government.
“So, the issue and attitude of bringing in thugs, bringing in security men to come and determine the will of the people is anti-democracy, I cannot support that kind of attitude.
“I want to appeal to all the players in Edo State, both PDP, APC, and other political parties, to give peace a chance and allow the good people of Edo State to elect their leaders.
“Unless we do that, we are undermining our democracy,” Ekweremadu told newsmen.
The crisis in Edo state ahead of the gubernatorial election is deepening, with the situation moving from the exchange of banters by political rivals, to threats of assassination.
Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu at a press briefing on Saturday said there is a plot to assassinate high-profile personalities in the state.
Mr Shaibu noted that the state government has gathered intelligence suggesting that some individuals are in Edo state and their assignment is to assassinate certain known individuals.
“I am hereby bringing to the notice of the general public that these people are in town and we’ve communicated to the security agencies about their activities and why they are in town,” Shaibu stated at the briefing.
The deputy governor called on President Muhammadu Buhari to charge security agencies to “do their work because Edo will not be a theatre of war if these things are dealt with.”
Senator Ike Ekweremadu is not a man known for pulling punches often but he did last week when he hit Femi Gbajabiamila below the belt. At the centre of the face-off was a certain ‘Infectious’ bill which the former alleged was more dangerous than COVID-19.
Perhaps, no bill brought recently before the National Assembly has gained more attention than the Control of Infectious Diseases bill, 2020, sponsored by the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gbajabiamila, and other two members namely, Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu.
The 47-page controversial bill hurriedly passed the first and second readings at the floor of the House in April. And, this was allegedly done without providing members copies of the legislation until motives of the sponsors were investigated. Hell has since been let loose after lawmakers discovered to their chagrin that there were many contentious provisions.
While featuring in a radio programme ‘Political Voices’ in Enugu, last Friday, the immediate past Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu, asserted that the bill was not likely to be passed as it was inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution.
“Let me use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians that the bill as presently presented will likely not be passed by the National Assembly; a lot of parliamentarians have lined up to oppose it,” he affirmed.
Ekweremadu did describe the bill which seeks to replace the Quarantine Act of 1926 as more dangerous than the COVID-19 pandemic it intends to help tackle.
This is not unconnected with the scary details in the bill which tend to stigmatise and criminalise infectious diseases and confer the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director-General extra-constitutional powers including over and above that of security agencies on issues that deal with law and order, above the courts in judicial matters.
It also appears to make nonsense of the federal structure, personal liberty and privacy of citizens. More troubling is Section 30 of the bill which supports forceful vaccination against a person’s choice. Subsection 2 specifically states: “Notwithstanding subsection (1) (b), a Port Health Officer may require such a person to undergo vaccination or other prophylaxis and may subject him to isolation or surveillance for such period as the Port Health Officer thinks fit.” Also intriguing is the power to confiscate and turn a property in any State of the federation into an isolation centre.
These, unfortunately, are a far cry from what Gbajabiamila noted was the objective of the bill, viz to “build on what is already in existence to achieve a particular objective of strengthening our health work and the management of our public health.”
Ekweremadu may have his minuses but his straight shots at Gbajabiamila fits perfectly into public expectations from the country’s lawmakers. And, what are these? The primary concern of many is constructive engagement and focus on matters of overriding national interest.
A bill which confers discretionary powers on a government appointee and ridicules the rights of citizens is, indeed, one which must be subjected to the most frugal debate and scrutiny.
Going back to the drawing board and addressing all the loopholes in the bill while engaging in critical consultation with key stakeholders, especially those in the health sector, should be top priority for Gbajabiamila and his team. Nigeria cannot afford to walk this road ridden with deadly potholes.
“If you look at some of the provisions, it says if you have any problem with the order or the action of the DG of the agency, then you have to appeal to the minister and whatever the minister says is final.
“That is not in tandem with the provisions of our Constitution, especially Section 4, 8 of our constitution. That is Section 4, subsection 8 that deals with the issue of courts and court jurisdictions. Section 4 sub-section 8 says that ‘no attempt should be made by either the National Assembly or any state Assembly to make a law that purports or in effect houses the jurisdiction of the court.
“You must have access to go to court if you have any issue that demands that; so to that extent, that bill is null and void, it is unacceptable, it is unconstitutional,” Ekweremadu said.
He also faulted the Executive Order 10 issued by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The order, which Buhari issued last week, wants financial autonomy granted to state legislature and judiciary as already contained in the amendments to the constitution, carried out by the 8th National Assembly implemented.
“There has been a lot of misconception regarding that Executive Order. In the first place, it was quite unnecessary.
“We, the members of the 8th Assembly, passed the amendment to the constitution to grant financial autonomy to the state judiciary and legislature because we believed that for the sake of their independence, they should be on the First Line Charge of the states’ Consolidated Revenue Account.
“When we passed them, the President dutifully signed them into law (over a year ago). That should have been the end of it because the amendments are self-executing.
“We expected that having done that, the states should go ahead to work out the modalities, but that didn’t happen.
“So, the President now set up a committee headed by the Attorney-General of the Federation to work out the modalities for implementation.
“I think it was at that point that they deemed it necessary to come up with an Executive Order to strengthen the implementation. But regrettably, they have simply mutilated those provisions of the Constitution as amended,” Ekweremadu said.
He, therefore, called on the governors to reach out to the president, pinpoint those mistakes for withdrawal in the Executive Order.
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, struck out charges of non-declaration of assets instituted against a former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, by the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.
The dissolved panel then led by Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla had in 2018 instituted the case marked FHC/ABJ/CR/62/2018 against Ekweremadu, alleging that, “without reasonable excuse”, the serving senator refused and neglected to declare his assets upon being served the panel’s “notice to declare”.
The AGF office took over the case and other suits being handled by the SPIP upon a presidential directive dissolving the panel in 2019.
On Monday, Justice Binta Nyako struck out the case against Ekweremadu after the prosecuting counsel from the AGF office, Mr Pius Akutah, said the former lawyer handling the case for the panel had disappeared with the case file.
Akutah pleaded with the judge to order the former counsel to release the file to the AGF office but the request was declined by the judge.
But Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), urged the judge to strike out the case.
Responding, Justice Nyako dismissed the prosecution’s request.
She said, “You are attorney general (referring to the lawyer as representing the AGF), you should know what to do.
“You should not be waiting for me to make an order against an individual.”
Justice Nyako added, “So, as it is today, you don’t know the case against the defendant since you don’t have the file. I am going to strike out the case, when you are ready you can come back.
“The case is hereby struck out for want of diligent prosecution. The prosecution is allowed to come back whenever they are ready to proceed with the case.”
NobleReporters heard that Ekweremadu was present in court and stood in the dock while the proceedings lasted on Monday.
A former deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, has said that with so many ethnic diversities in Nigeria, community policing will not work.
Claiming that many Nigerians are living in denial, Ekweremadu said that the security condition in the country is not only bad but unbearable, NobleReporters learnt
He said that as a federal system, what should be done is a decentralisation of the police, not community security outfit like Amotekun and Shege Ka Fasa because they will operate in ways completely different from what is prescribed in the constitution.
Ekweremadu said that the security condition in the country is not only bad but unbearable.
The former deputy Senate president said: “Amotekun is different from what the federal government is saying about community policing.
“They have personnel who are going to deal with issues unlike what the federal government is proposing.”
Moreover, he said that the creation of regional security initiatives is proof that people have lost trust in the ability of the government to ensure their security.