Police detain Senator Melaye, file fresh 9 charges against him

The Nigeria Police Force has ignored the Federal Capital Territory High Court’s order to release Senator Dino Melaye (representing Kogi west senatorial district) on bail. Rather, the police on Monday, January 20, filed fresh nine charges against the senator.

A report shows that the fresh charges against Melaye dated January 14, 2019 was co-signed by Kehinde Oluwole, Malik Taiwo and Seyi Otunla, all of the force legal office, Abuja.

One of the nine charges read: “That you Senator Dino Melaye, 45years, representing Kogi West… at about 11am, at your residence… inform the public on Twitter that the police detectives are trying to plant guns in your cars outside, an information you know to be false… thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 392 of the Penal Code.”

The senator is accused of accusing the former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, of planning to “inject him to death”, obstructing and resisting arrest.

Senator Dino Melaye, was granted bail by a high court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja. The presiding judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu, granted the bail on health grounds. Justice Halilu said Melaye should be granted bail because he cannot be arraigned on the stretcher or ‎on his hospital bed.

The senator was asked to produce three sureties, one must be a clerk of the National Assembly. The other two sureties must be owners of properties within the Abuja metropolis.

Onnoghen: Follow Due Process-NBA to Buhari govt

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called on the Federal Government to discontinue the prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, and follow due process.

The Federal Government is prosecuting the CJN at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for allegedly failing to declare his assets.

In a statement by the NBA President, Mr Paul Usoro, on Monday in Abuja, He urged the government to follow due process if its goal was to remove Onnoghen from office.

“Due process is not followed when the Executive Branch of the Federal Government files an Interlocutory Motion before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for the removal of the CJN.

“Such an application disparages, and assaults due process as enshrined in Section 292(1)(a)(i) of the 1999 Constitution.

“The said section is very explicit on the due process for the CJN’s removal,” the NBA president said.

According to Usoro, the constitution leaves no room, however, for the removal of the CJN from office, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, other than through the necessary due process.

The NBA president said that Nigeria was a country governed by laws and the government owed Nigerians a duty to comply strictly with provisions of the constitution for the removal of the CJN.

“We, therefore, urge the Executive Branch of the Federal Government to please retrace its steps and discontinue the entire proceedings before the CCT forthwith and follow the constitutional procedure,”

NBA president said that the NBA stood by its earlier statement that established judicial precedents, dictate that the allegations must be referred to and handled by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

”It is only after the NJC’s pronouncement against the CJN that the government’s prosecuting agencies can proceed against him before any Tribunal or Court of Law.

“For as long as the CJN remains a judicial officer, that process avails him and is mandatory of compliance by the government,” he said.

He maintained that the government must discontinue the proceedings at the CCT on the grounds that it constituted an assault on due process and undermined the rule of law.

Alex Badeh: Defence headquarters releases burial date for ex-CDS

The Defence Headquarters, DHQ, on Friday disclosed the burial date for former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, rtd.

In a statement signed by the Acting Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim, interment of Badeh will commence on Sunday with the Service of Songs scheduled to hold at the Nigerian Air Force Base Protestant Church in Abuja.

Agim also disclosed that the service of song would be followed by a church service expected to hold at the same venue on Wednesday next week after which he would be laid to rest later in the afternoon at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.

See statement below:

As part of activities lined-up for the interment of the former Chief of Defence Staff, late Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh. The general public is hereby informed of the following:
a. Service of Songs:
(1) Date: Sunday 20 January 2019
(2) Time: 1700hrs (5pm)
(3) Venue: Nigerian Air Force Base Protestant Church, Bill Clinton Drive Abuja
b. Church Service:
(1 Date: Wednesday 23 January 2019.
(2) Time: 1000hrs (10am).
(3) Venue: Nigerian Airforce Base, Protestant Church, Bill Clinton Drive Airport Road Abuja.
b. Interment:
(1) Date: Wednesday 23 January 2019
(2) Time: 123hrs (1230 pm)
(3) Venue: National Military Cemetery Abuja
2. In view of the above, you are please requested to detail your crew to cover the event and disseminate this information to the general public through your credible medium. Thank you for your usual support and cooperation.

HURIWA speaks on Python Dance 3, says it’s an improvement.

A Prominent Pro- Democracy and Non-Governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked operatives of the Nigerian Army to maintain the cordial relationship it is enjoying amongst the people of South East of Nigeria especially as the Operation Python Dance three kicks off.

HURIWA spoke in Owerri, Imo State after an independent tour of the five South East of Nigerian States of Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi and Imo State to assess the mood of the people of South East of Nigeria towards the recently inaugurated Operation Python Dance three and also to encourage the prospective South East voters to participate massively in the February and March 2019 General elections so as to elect only credible political office seekers who will abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) and fundamentally rebuild the South East of Nigeria into an Economic and industrial hub.

The National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko who led a three member investigative team on the assessment visit to the South East of Nigeria stated that the general impressions the team got from a lot of residents of the South East Geopolitical zone of the Country is that this third phase of the military training operation by the Nigerian Army is geared towards assisting the Nigeria Police Force and other relevant law enforcement agencies to sweep off armed gangs and organized criminals terrorizing millions of law abiding citizens of the South East of Nigeria even as the national scope of the military exercise launched on Monday in Lagos by the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai remains the trigger that comprehensively convinced the people of South East of Nigeria that the operation was not an isolated operation that is to target certain persons or groups of agitators in the South East of Nigeria.

HURIWA said the findings from the team which also coopted leaders of some Community based organizations in the South East of Nigeria show that unlike the previous OPERATION EGWU EKE 11 which specifically was perceived as an isolated operation that targeted sympathizers and perceived members of the pro-Self Determination campaigners of the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) and witnessed several conflicts between members and sympathizers of IPOB and the armed forces of Nigeria leading to fatalities, most people who spoke with HURIWA said the current OPERATION PYTHON DANCE 3 is acceptable provided the armed operatives will stay off unnecessary confrontations with unarmed persons and also not be deployed to manipulate the forthcoming elections. The people of the South East of Nigeria are ready and determined to actively participate in the elections which they see as the last opportunity to elect persons that will guarantee good governance in the zone. 

HURIWA said thus: “Although as a platform that campaigns for constitutional democracy we had initially canvassed that the Nigerian Army should focus on battling the armed terrorists of Boko Haram in the North-East of Nigeria and ensure that Boko Haram terrorists are significantly degraded, decimated and destroyed, but most people interviewed  in the South East of Nigeria said the military training that is code named OPERATION EGWU EKE 3 is not a threat to the enjoyment of the fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution and a plethora of International and continental human rights and humanitarian treaties, covenants, conventions, laws and agreements provided the armed operatives adhered  strictly to the global best practices, stick to their rules of engagement and stay off the polling and collation centers during the forthcoming elections because the people believe that the Nigerian Army as a professional institution created by the constitution in section 217(1) ought not to be used by politicians to deprive the people of their civil liberties and the fundamental human rights recognized and guaranteed by the Constitution and many other internationally  binding laws. We were told by the people that they are prepared to work and partner with the Nigerian Army to eradicate criminality and criminals who are creating insecurity in many towns and communities in the South East of Nigeria and discourage investors from locating their investments and businesses in the South East of Nigeria.  These people living and doing legitimate businesses in the South East of Nigeria told us that their wish is that the South East of Nigeria will become a viable commercial and industrial zone so millions of graduates and school leavers who are now without jobs can be gainfully employed and they said if the military operations can guarantee security of life and property it therefore means that the States of the North East of Nigeria will in no time be rapidly developed so the youth can be productively engaged and become constructive creators of legitimate wealth to turn around the area and minimize the consequences of mass poverty and declining standards of living”.

Specifically section 217 of the constitution states thus: “There shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an army, a navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly; (2) The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of -: defending Nigeria from external aggression; maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air; suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and performance such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly. (3) The composition of the officer corps another ranks of the armed forces of the Federation shall reflect the federal character of Nigeria.”

HURIWA recalled that the Nigerian Army had disclosed that its annual training programme, the ‘Operation Python Dance III’, also known as Exercise Egwu Eke III, in South East States formations and units under 82 Division, Nigerian Army is meant for eradication of criminals and not to endanger lives and property of the citizenry.

HURIWA recalled that the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 82 Division Nigeria Army, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Boman Kabuk, at the 302 Artillery Regiment, (General Support) Onitsha, Anambra State, when he paid a familiarization visit to the military cantonment, having resumed duties in Enugu on August 6, 2018 also assured the people that the sanctity of the human rights and dignity of their human persons would be guaranteed and protected.

HURIWA quoted the Military General as stating as follows: “Exercise Egwu Eke III, is a training exercise for troops of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army and during the training, if there are criminal activities like armed robbery, kidnapping and other criminal activities that distort peace and tranquility of the citizenry along the line, the Army will not close its eyes and watch those criminals activities to thrive.”

HURIWA recalled that the Military General further spoke thus: “Nigerian Army therefore urged all law abiding citizens of the country, particularly the people of South East to go about their legitimate, lawful and genuine businesses, saying that “those afraid of the exercise are criminal elements that do not want their activities checked and are just being afraid of the consequences of their heinous criminal actions.”

HURIWA recalled that  Maj. Gen Kabuk , who was accompanied by some senior Army officers from 82 Division, was led round the Onitsha military cantonment for inspection of equipment and facilities by the Commander, 302 Artillery Regiment, General Support, Col. Idongesit Akpan.

HURIWA recalled that General Kabuk also explained the exercise thus: “We want to let Nigerians know that if we are training, we are training to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria. So, the pro Biafra activists and killer herdsmen are also Nigerians who are misguided. We should not allow misguided elements to disturb our peace. What we want is for law abiding citizens to live in peace. If you are not law abiding, the law will take its course. That is all we are saying.”

HURIWA expressed optimism that the armed operatives taking part in the Operation Python Dance three will absolutely abide by the rules of engagement and not violate the human rights of the citizens just as the group asked the citizens to partner with the armed forces to build a better society that will ensure peace and stability which are necessary for economic growth of the society and progressive advancement of fundamental human rights of the citizenry. 

HURIWA promised to monitor the implementation of the operation python dance 3 to ensure compliance to the constitutional rights of citizens.

DOGARA TO BUHARI-: Violence, killings threatening our civilization

Sequel to the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Electoral Act amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly three times, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police that Nigerians would accept nothing short of complete openness, a level playing ground and strict adherence to extant Laws in the conduct of the 2019 elections.
He also noted that the palpable fears of well-meaning Nigerians and the international community of the possibility of some forces working to manipulate the coming elections by exploiting the identified loopholes in the current Electoral Act, may become a reality if proactive steps are not taken by critical stakeholders.
In a speech to mark the resumption of the House from the Christmas and New Year break delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, the Speaker said the National Assembly has done its possible best to deepen the nation’s democratic process by providing mechanisms that would guarantee successful and rancour-free elections by passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for the third time after the President had declined assent to it twice, meaning that the impending general elections will not benefit from the innovative mechanisms crafted in its collaboration with international and development partners.
The Speaker stated, “It should remain a thing of pride for us that the National Assembly has done its best by taking steps to guarantee the successful and rancour-free conduct of the 2019 General Elections by passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for the third time after Mr President had declined assent to it twice. Lack of passage into Law of the amended Bill means that the impending General Elections will not benefit from the innovative mechanisms crafted in its collaboration with international and Development partners. Consequently, the palpable fears of well-meaning Nigerians and the international community of the possibility of some forces working to manipulate the coming elections by exploiting the identified loopholes in the current Electoral Act, may become a reality if proactive steps are not taken by critical stakeholders.
“Hon. Members, I believe that our intention to improve on the successes of the 2015 General Election through the Amendment Bill, is very clear to all fair-minded Nigerians. The spate of serious allegations by stakeholders, corroborated by some Press reports against INEC and the Nigerian Police in the recent elections, which are already subjects of litigations, are some of the factors that gave rise to public apprehension on the success of the coming General Elections.
“We had intended, through this Bill, to minimise the risk to the survival of our hard-won democracy through responsive and timely legislation aimed at ensuring free, fair and transparent elections.  Nonetheless, as Parliament, we have done our best to guarantee the stability and growth of our fragile democracy, and I have no doubt that history will be very kind to us.
“Under the present circumstance, we have no choice than to take INEC and the Police by their words and give them the benefit of doubt in their recent assurances to be impartial, efficient and truthful in the conduct of the coming elections.  This is the minimum that the country deserves from them at this auspicious time.  Nothing short of complete openness, a level playing ground and strict adherence to extant Laws will be acceptable to Nigerians.”
Hon Dogara also called on the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, to take a hard look at Nigeria’s national security architecture with a view to securing lives, national pride and prestige and to fight against unbridled violence.
“We are all witnesses to the continuous deteriorating security situation in our country more especially in the North East, North West and some parts of the North Central. Only three days ago, scores of people were killed in Sokoto State and elsewhere,” he stated, adding, that hardly does any week pass without reports of mass killings and bloodletting, either by terrorists or armed bandits.
“This calls for drastic, urgent and concerted action and efforts to bring to a quick end. Our citizens are looking up to us and we can’t afford to fail them because security of lives and properties is the primary purpose of government. The fight against unbridled violence is one we cannot afford to lose as we can’t do so and still keep our civilisation. The symptoms of the malady afflicting our national security architecture are in plain sight. It is therefore imperative for the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces to take a hard look at our national security architecture with a view to fixing the malady in order to secure lives, national pride and prestige,” he said.
Addressing his colleagues, Hon Dogara noted that with less than five months to the end of the 8th National Assembly, now is a good time to reflect on the journey they started in June, 2015 and while the House can boast that it has done appreciably, the remaining period demands assiduous and expeditious work so that the huge legislative assignments that still lies ahead of them can be done with and the unsurpassed record of legislative outputs so far achieved by the House can be maintained.
Specifically, he called for accelerated legislative processing of the 2019 Appropriation so that government business will not be impeded, as well as other Bills under consideration which are critical to the development of our country. This is just as he reminded them to strike a good balance between their commitment to legislative duties and participation in the campaigns by streamlining their political timetable and schedules to make room for attendance to  legislative duties as much as is expected of them.
Advocating for the highest form of decorum in the campaigns, the Speaker stated, “I find it imperative on this occasion to call on all our political leaders to cultivate the highest level of decorum, responsibility and respect for the Law in our electioneering campaigns.  We must, through our conduct, show our commitment to the successful and peaceful conduct of the 2019 elections and above all, the sustenance of our democracy. We should avoid the tendency of being hypocritical by engaging in misdeeds that we are quick to point out in our opponents.  Let us be guided by our conscience and the teachings of our religions, which demand that we judge ourselves before judging others.”
While expressing gratitude for the continued support and unity of the members to the leadership of the House, he cautioned that “neither contest for elective office nor elections are ends in themselves as they are merely the means by which we seek to serve the people and indeed humanity. Where our intentions are genuine and honorable, we shall never seek power at the expense of the lives and properties of those we seek to serve. This should be our resolve across board.”

Chelsea seek to make profit on Batshuayi before Higuain swoop

Michy Batshuayi, who is on loan at Valencia from Chelsea, is a target for Monaco. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Michy Batshuayi is desperate to complete a loan move to Monaco, despite Chelsea’s attempt to recoup £40m (€45m) for the striker.

Monaco have agreed terms with both Batshuayi and Valencia, where the Belgian spent the first half of the season, to take over his loan until the end of the campaign.

But the Ligue 1 strugglers have been waiting for the green light from Chelsea, who have been waiting to see whether they could attract a £40m (€45m) offer for Batshuayi.

Everton have indicated an interest in Batshuayi, but cannot take a second player on loan from Chelsea along with defender Kurt Zouma. That means the Merseysiders would have to sign one of the pair outright.

Chelsea would rather sell Batshuayi for £40m to Everton, rather than sanction another six-month loan, but the player would prefer to go to Monaco.

It remains to be seen whether Monaco would be prepared to commit to signing Batshuayi permanently at the end of a loan.

Despite the fact he cost £33.2m from Marseille two-and-a-half years ago, and has failed to make much of an impact at Chelsea, the club want to make a profit on Batshuayi.

Confirming the fact Chelsea would prefer to cash in on Batshuayi, Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev said: “We have an agreement with Valencia and Batshuayi, but not with Chelsea, who prefer a permanent move.”

Batshuayi is part of a potential striker merry-go-round which Chelsea hope will end with Gonzalo Higuain replacing Alvaro Morata at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea want to get rid of Batshuayi and Morata, and bring in Higuain this month and there is a growing sense that a complicated deal will be agreed for the Argentine to end his AC Milan loan and join Chelsea.

Higuain was left out of AC Milan’s starting line-up for last night’s 1-0 Italian Super Cup final defeat against Juventus amid claims it was in nobody’s interest for the 31-year-old to risk injury, although he did play for the final 20 minutes.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have once again been left annoyed by Bayern Munich’s public pursuit of Callum Hudson-Odoi after the German club confirmed they are “in talks” with the west London club over the teenager.

Bayern have made a series of bids for Hudson-Odoi, the latest of which was £35m (€40m).

Chelsea fear they are fighting a losing battle to try to keep Hudson-Odoi, who only has 18 months remaining on his contract. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Willian Jose should be of major interest to Chelsea this winter

Willian Jose should be of major interest to Chelsea this winter

Chelsea scooped three points against Newcastle at the weekend to maintain their position in the Premier League top four.

Maurizio Sarri opted yet again to not field a striker against the Magpies with Eden Hazard operating as the false nine. The Blues took the lead after just nine minutes through Pedro but were pegged back when Ciaran Clark headed home. Sarri relied on Willian, who has been linked with Barcelona, to curl home and secure all three points at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea had gone two games without a goal at home before the encounter with Rafael Benitez’s men highlighting their need for a new forward. With Olivier Giroud on the bench and Alvaro Morata out the squad, Chelsea have lined up a move for Callum Wilson, however, Bournemouth reportedly (as per the Daily Star) want close to £75m for their star man. Their astronomical demands could mean Sarri will be forced to seek alternatives.

One man he could pursue is Real Sociedad hitman – Willian Jose. Valued at £22.5m by Transfermarkt, the Brazilian forward has been a regular goalscorer in La Liga since joining the Spanish side back in 2016. Jose netted 20 goals in all competitions last season, the second time he reached double figures for league goals in Spain.

His form has continued into the new campaign, finding the back of the net four times, in a squad of Chelsea’s quality his abilities would be elevated. Jose is an instinctive forward who is quick and powerful making him perfect for Sarri’s system in London. The former Brazil U20 international is also a massive threat in the air and would add another dimension to the Blues attack alongside the likes of Hazard and Willian, the 27-year-old would be scoring for fun in the Premier League.

Chelsea given opportunity to clinch transfer of decent Gonzalo Higuain alternative for £50m

Chelsea can reportedly seal the transfer of Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson if they pay around £50million for his services this January.

Gonzalo Higuain seemingly remains the club’s top target, but the Daily Star report that Chelsea are also considering Wilson, in what sounds like a more straightforward deal.

That said, Wilson is not in the same league as someone like Higuain, and would probably not be enough of an upgrade on struggling striker Alvaro Morata at Stamford Bridge.

The England international has impressed at Bournemouth and could probably improve with the kind of service he’d get at Chelsea, but fans will surely hope some kind of deal can still be struck for Higuain instead.

A striker seems an absolute top priority for CFC this January after their lack of goals from Morata and Olivier Giroud has left them overly reliant on Eden Hazard to produce the goods.

Willian and Pedro have also chipped in with goals, but it’s surely not enough to see them through the rest of the campaign as they already look uncertain of holding on to a top four spot.

FG borrows N6.16tn from N8.499tn pension fund

The total pension assets under the Contributory Pension Scheme rose to N8.49tn as of the end of November 2018 financial period, latest figures obtained from the National Pension Commission on Tuesday revealed.

The pension commission said 72.5 per cent of the fund had been borrowed by the Federal Government and invested in the FGN securities totalling N6.16tn during the period under review.

The Pension Fund Administrators also invested 6.87 per cent or N584.321bn of the fund in domestic ordinary shares, while 0.71 or N60.529bn of the fund was invested in foreign ordinary shares.

According to the Pension Reform Act, the PFAs manage the funds which are in the custody of the Pension Fund Custodians.

The commission stated that it continued its consultative philosophy in the regulation and supervision of the industry.

According to PenCom, the risk-based examination approach was implemented as a way of promoting transparency and providing early warning signals as well as encouraging pension operators to regularly self-evaluate their positions.

The Acting Director-General, PenCom, Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, said in an effort to promote a stable and sustainable pension industry, the commission adopted zero tolerance for non-compliance and consultative supervisory philosophy in the issuance of guidelines and the review of existing ones to further promote sound corporate governance in the industry and ensure the security of the pension assets.

In addition, she said, the commission in 2018, moved to a more risk-based approach to supervising pension operators by aligning its supervisory framework with that of the Financial Services Regulation Coordinating Committee.

“We believe this will promote better risk management in licensed pension operators,” she stated.

She said the commission, last year, released the framework and guidelines for the implementation of the micro pension scheme, which was targeted at increased participation of employees in the informal sector, multi-fund structure and revised guideline for fund accounting as well as revised circular for branch opening and service centre by the PFAs.

“Similarly, circulars on pension enhancement and processing procedures of deceased benefits entitlement were also released by the commission,” she stated.

According to her, the monitoring and reporting of non-compliance with regards to the implementation of these guidelines and other existing regulations remained part of the responsibilities of the compliance officers.

The acting director-general said the commission would continue with its consultative philosophy, transparency and good corporate governance in the implementation of the CPS in Nigeria.




Introduction: The right to information is a component of the broader right to freedom of expression and of press enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1984(UDHR). Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 (ICCPR) Article 9 of African Charter on Human and People’s

Rights, 1981(ACHPR) and other international human rights instruments.

Nigeria, is one of the few countries in Africa that has a constitutional provision guaranteeing access to information and a specific law which further reinforces the provision with procedures and penalties for non-compliance in the freedom of Information (FoIA) which was passed in May, 2011.

Section 34(1) of the C.F.R.N 1999, which states that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”.

Section 39 of the C.F.R.N 1999, on the right to access to information. Notwithstanding, Section 39(1) of the CFRN 1999 sufficient legal basis exists, which guarantees access to information which are vital to the  smooth function of democracy. A positive state obligation to protect access to information pursuant to Article 9 of the African Charter which has been domesticated as Nigerian Law. This gives effect to the original intent of the Constitution as a living document.

Sensitivity of National Security vis a vis right to freedom of Information.

The Official Secrets Act 1962 and the National Security Agencies Act 1986- Two main statues which permit limitations on access to information. According to Section 39(3) and Section 45(1) of the CFRN 1999 ” the limitations must be “reasonably” justifiable in a democratic society. The challenge arises when information is sought to be restricted either on general grounds of public interest under the FoIA 2011 or on the more specific basis of National Security under the National Security Agencies Act, or for some other reasons permitted by other statutes.

Moreover, “National Security” has no precise meaning in Nigerian Law. And it has not helped that the constitution broadly confers power on these Agencies to limit access to information in the interest of Defense, without clearly specifying the test boy reasonable justification that the limitation must fulfill.  However “Classified Matter” provided by section 9 of the Official Secrets Act, which defines it as” any information or thing which under any system of security classification, from time to time in use by or by any branch of government is not to be disclosed to the public and of which the disclosure to the public would be prejudicial to the secret of Nigeria”.

The problem with the statutes is that the are extremely vaguely worded and conform extraordinary broad powers agencies that are saddled with the responsibility of classifying information. As a result, the power to classify information in the interest of National Security has been broadly abused in Nigeria; it has fostered secrecy around Government activities, and has been used as a ploy for Official Corruption, to limit press freedom and other civil liberties. See a few instances of judicial exposition on the legality of limitations on access to information in Nigeria can be found in sedition cases. The most prominent of these are; DPP V CHIKEOBI (1961) All NLR 186, and ARTHUR NWANKWO V THE STATE (1983) FRN 320, there has been no authoritative pronouncements on the subject by the Nigeria’s Apex Court. The interpretative approach to Constitutional provisions thus remains underdeveloped and uncertain. Nonetheless, sedition laws continue to be asserted by the Nigerian Government against press freedoms especially.

In conclusion, reasons for the prominence given to the right to access to Government-held information is essential for the health of democracy. The quality of democratic Governance is improved and strengthened by public participation in decision making processes. But in itself, public participation cannot be effective access to information. Moreover, a legally enforceable right to Government held information will enhance efficiency and accountability, and boost public confidence in Government, in other words Government-held information actually belongs to the people, unfortunately, the people’s ability to access such information is often impeded by the traditional reluctance of Government Agencies to release information in their possession.

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko; National Coordinator; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).