Monday, June 27, 2016

Nigeria's Democracy in Danger

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
Nigeria's Democracy in Danger 

ABUJA, Nigeria, June 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
Democratic leaders in Nigeria's Senate (the Upper House), including Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, are being unfairly targeted by senior members of the Nigerian Government with politically motivated allegations in order to undermine the power of the Nigerian Senate.
The Nigerian Government Executive is due to lay unfounded charges of forgery and corruption against Nigeria's Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Clerk of the Nigerian Senate, Ben Efeturi and the previous Clerk of the Nigerian National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa.

Senator Sabi Abdullahi, Senator from the Nigerian ruling party (APC) and official spokesman of the Senate said, "It is time for the international community to take note and condemn this undemocratic behaviour by the Nigerian Government.  This is a time when the Nigerian people need leadership not petty in-fighting."
Senator Sabi Abdullahi maintains the charges are entirely false and unfounded. "They are nothing more than a politically motivated crusade by the Nigerian Government Executive to remove the democratically elected leadership in the Nigerian Senate.  The Nigerian Government Executive is attempting to take democratic power away from the very people the Nigerian Senate represents."

"I call upon the international community to condemn the Nigerian Government Executive's continuing attempts to interfere with the democratic leadership of the Nigerian Senate. Nigeria's 'War on Corruption' is fast-becoming a veil to justify attacks on Nigeria's functioning democracy and this must not be allowed to stand."

Senator Abdullahi added that there is no evidence to justify the criminal charges pursued against the leaders of the Nigerian Senate because the issues were discussed in the Nigerian upper legislative Chambers last year and dismissed. "The Nigerian Government Executive however, is not satisfied, despite the democratic process that followed in the election of the Senate leadership."

Senator Abdullahi urges the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to respect the rule of law and Nigeria's constitutional democracy. "I appeal to all lovers of democracy to condemn in strong terms, this latest assault on our democratic institution.  Nigeria's democracy was hard won. It must therefore not be allowed to fail."

Notes to editors:
  • Dr Abdullahi is a Ph. D holder in Agricultural Science.  He is first-term Senator representing Niger South District in the North Central zone of Nigeria.  He is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, a position that makes him the official spokesman of the Senate.
  • The Nigerian Senate is the Upper chamber of the bi-camera legislature of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It has a total of 109 members with three members representing each of the 36 states of Nigeria and 1 member from the Federal Capital, Abuja. The Senate is headed by the President of the Senate who presides at the plenary. He is elected by a simple majority of Senators at the inauguration of the Senate and can be removed by a two-third of the members. The Deputy Senate President is similarly elected and acts in presiding capacity in the absence of the Senate president. In addition to these two, the Senate has eight other principal officers - majority leader, deputy majority leader, chief whip, deputy chief whip, minority leader, deputy minority leader, minority whip and deputy minority whip. The current President of the Senate is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which has a total of 58 members, while his Deputy belongs to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, with 44 members. A third party, the Labour Party has one member, while six seats are currently vacant. The Senate requires two-third majority to take most decisions.
  • Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki is a 53 year old President of the Senate. He was a two-term Governor in Nigeria's North-Central, Kwara State from 2003 to 2011. He was elected to the Senate for the first time in 2011 and appointed chairman of the Committee on Environment and Ecology.  In the wake of rising national concern over fuel subsidy payments, he initiated the motion that exposed the massive fraud that characterised subsidy payments in the country.  In 2014, he led six state Governors, some Senators and House of Representatives members out of the then ruling party, PDP to join other parties in forming the APC, which subsequently won the 2015 Presidential election.
  • Senator Ike Ekweremadu holds a Ph. D in law. He is one of the longest serving Senators, having been in the Senate since 2003, and currently serving a fourth term as Senator. He is in his 10th year as Deputy Senate President, a position that confers on him the presidency of the Sub-regional, West Africa parliament as well as Chairmanship of the Constitution Review Committee.
  • For further information please contact; Yusuph Olaniyonu on +2348055001965 or 
SOURCE The Office of Senator Abdullahi

Nigerian Civil Society Organisation Warns President Buhari's Government on Constitution

ABUJA, Nigeria, June 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
New Nigeria Initiative (NNI), a Nigerian pro-democracy organisation, is deeply concerned about the stability of Nigeria's democracy and has warned President Buhari's Government against 'meddling with the Nigerian Constitution'. This follows reports that the Nigerian Government Executive is attempting to accuse leading members of the Nigerian Senate, including Senate President Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, of unsubstantiated charges of forgery and conspiracy.

Tracy Okoro, President of NNI said, "There is no evidence to justify the criminal charges. These so called 'allegations' were debated in the Nigerian Senate last year (2015) and found to have no merit at all. Yet still, these democratically-elected leaders continue to be pursued by the Nigerian Government Executive in a campaign against Nigeria's constitutional democracy."

Tracy Okoro, President of NNI went on to say, "We are currently facing an important time for democracy in Nigeria, with a wide range of serious issues to resolve such as poverty, housing and social care. We believe these charges are only serving the purpose of distracting the Nigerian Senate from the real issues at hand."
The NNI believes that the Nigerian Government Executive is attempting to influence the Nigerian Senate by disrupting its leadership team. In doing this, they are disregarding separation of powers and taking democratic power away from the people of Nigeria, who voted in order to be properly represented in the Nigerian Senate.

Stephany Onyewezi, Secretary of NNI said, "Whilst we agree with President Buhari's attempt to eradicate corruption within Nigeria, it should be done in an objective and measured way that respects the rule of law and not be above it."

The NNI calls upon the Nigeria's Attorney General and Minister of Justice look at the real the purpose of these unsubstantiated charges, as well as the evidential basis upon which they have been brought. We urge the government to respect Nigeria's democracy.

Notes to editors:  
1. The New Nigeria Initiative (NNI) is a non-profit organization that stands for "accountability and voice for human development. Founded in 2014 by a group of patriotic Nigerians, this group of young professionals believes that the "great challenge" facing Nigeria is to rebuild trust in government institutions so that they can provide the desired services to citizens.

2. For further enquiries contact Tracy Okoro at E:, M +2348172289055 or +2348187664636

SOURCE New Nigeria Initiative (NNI)

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