Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The Senate on Tuesday passed the harmonised version of the Freedom of Information Bill, reducing the weight of the penalty for destroying or falsifying public records by any public officer.
The House of Representatives in its version recommended that, “It shall be an offence punishable with three years imprisonment for any officer of a public institution to destroy alter, falsely or deliberately misrepresent information kept in his custody.”
But this version was jettisoned for the one proposed by the Senate which reduced the penalty from three years to one year.
The harmonisation committee, however, adopted the House of Representatives version of Clause 2 of the bill, which represents the crux of the FOI law.
Clause 2 provides for the rights citizens to have access to all records or information contained in any form on request.
It states that, “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, Law or Regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency of institution howsoever described, is hereby established.
“An applicant herein need not demonstrate any specific interest in the information being applied for. Any person entitled to the right to information under this bill, shall have the right to institute proceedings in a court to compel any public institution to the provisions of this Act.”
Although there were exceptions to the freedom to have access to information if it affects defence, economy and law enforcement proceedings, the bill however provided a caveat in Clause 12, ordering the release of such information if the benefits of access to the information far outweighs the damage if the information is disclosed.
The bill provided in clause 8, a N500,000 fine when a case of wrongful denial of access is established against the defaulting officer or institution on conviction.
Chairman of the Conference Committee, Senator Ayogu Eze, said with the passage of the harmonised version, it would be sent to the President for his signature.
He said he believed that the bill would be signed into law before the end of the current dispensation, which expires this week. “I will be surprised if the bill returns to the National Assembly not signed by the President,” he said.
It was also gathered the Managing Director of a new generation had been quizzed by the commission over an alleged suspicious transfer of $5.3 million from Europe by an oil firm, Facegood Oil and Gas.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the firm, Clark Ejerem, had also been declared wanted by the anti-corruption agency.
Babafemi confirmed the development.
It was learnt that the commission launched an investigation into the suspicious wired sum from Europe when the bank MD failed to disclose the lodgement in Facegood account domiciled with the bank.
The bank MD was said to have been grilled for not reporting the wire transfer to the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) as required by the extant banking laws.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Full CBSNews.com coverage of bin Laden's death
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he was "overjoyed" with the news of the al Qaeda's leader's death. Former President George W. Bush said it was a "momentous achievement" and a "victory for America." Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York called the operation a "thunderous strike for justice." Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called it "great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere."
But many the celebratory statements also included a warning that the fight against al Qaeda and terrorism is not over with bin Laden's death, echoing what President Obama said in his nationally televised addressed on Sunday night.
Here's a selection of the statements released from politicians and others so far:
Former President George W. Bush: "Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."
Former President Bill Clinton: "This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaida's other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and cooperation for our children. I congratulate the President, the National Security team and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaida attacks."
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "The demise of Osama Bin Laden is a tremendous victory for the American people. Justice has been done and we are all indebted to the American military and intelligence community for their skill and dedication. Nothing can bring back Bin Laden's innocent victims, but perhaps this can help salve the wounds of their loved ones."
House Speaker John Boehner: "This is great news for the security of the American people and a victory in our continued fight against al Qaeda and radical extremism around the world. We continue to face a complex and evolving terrorist threat, and it is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to confront and defeat the terrorist enemy and protect the American people. I want to congratulate -- and thank -- the hard-working men and women of our Armed Forces and intelligence community for their tireless efforts and perseverance that led to this success. I also want to commend President Obama and his team, as well as President Bush, for all of their efforts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: "As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I hope that today's action provides some comfort to the 9/11 families who lost loved ones in the devastating attacks on our shores. Though the death of Osama bin Laden is historic, it does not diminish our relentless pursuit of terrorists who threaten our country."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "This is the most significant victory in our fight against al Qaeda and terrorism, but that fight is not over. We will continue to support our troops and the American civilians who are fighting every day to protect our homeland... As we remember those who were killed on that dark day in September and their families, we also reaffirm our resolve to defeat the terrorist forces that killed them and thousands of others across the globe. Because of courageous Americans in our military and intelligence community, their leader is now gone."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "The death of Osama bin Laden marks a long-awaited end to the work of the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks... On September 11, 2001, America came together and vowed that we would never forget the memory of those whose lives were lost on that terrible day. Tonight's announcement shows that we have made good on that pledge. It is proof that no matter how difficult or how long it takes, our military, intelligence forces and law enforcement officials will never stop until the job is done."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.: "I am overjoyed that we finally got the world's top terrorist. The world is a better and more just place now that Osama bin Laden is no longer in it. I hope the families of the victims of the September 11th attacks will sleep easier tonight and every night hence knowing that justice has been done. I commend the President and his team, as well as our men and women in uniform and our intelligence professionals, for this superb achievement. But while we take heart in the news that Osama bin Laden is dead, we must be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies, and we must remain vigilant to defeat them."
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.: "The death of Osama bin Laden unfortunately does not mean the end of the al Qaeda network he built, the hateful ideology he helped propagate, or the threat against our homeland. Terrorists will continue to seek to murder Americans at home and abroad, and so too must our ever more determined global efforts to thwart their plots, destroy their networks, and defeat their ideology. But the end of Osama bin Laden -- at American hands, and in partnership with a Muslim ally -- marks a historic victory in this longer struggle. Bin Laden's death should bring a measure of justice and solace to al Qaeda's victims, and fear to its ranks, who now must know their hour of reckoning, too, shall come."
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.: "The killing of Osama bin Laden closes an important chapter in our war against extremists who kill innocent people around the world. We are a nation of peace and laws, and people everywhere should understand that our ten-year manhunt was in search of justice not revenge. Terrorists everywhere must never doubt that the United States will hunt them down no matter where they are, no matter how long it takes. A single death does not end the threat from Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups. We must remain vigilant and committed to keeping the world safe and secure."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.: "Ten years after Osama bin Laden murdered nearly three thousand innocent men, women and children, justice has been served. Our courageous counter-terror professionals risked their lives to rid the world this mass murderer. The United States has rid the world of the mastermind of 9/11. But the fight against Al Qa'ida does not end with the death of its leader. The effort continues and we remain committed to fighting terrorism in any form."
Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.: "This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden's many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.: "This is a thunderous strike for justice for the thousands of my fellow New Yorkers -- and citizens from all over the world -- who were murdered on 9/11. It took close to ten years, but the world's most wanted terrorist has finally met his deserved fate. New York's heart is still broken from the tragedy of 9/11, but this at least brings some measure of closure and consolation to the victims and their families."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: "Families who lost loved ones at the hands of Bin Laden and his terrorist organization have grieved for far too long and this sends a signal that America will not tolerate terrorism in any form. The men and women of our armed forces and intelligence community have fought valiantly for the last decade and this is a major victory and testament to their dedication. I commend President Obama who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice."
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.: "This is extraordinary news for all freedom loving people of the world, and I commend all those involved for this historic triumph. Americans have waited nearly ten years for the news of Osama bin Laden's death. And while this is a very significant objective that cannot be minimized, the threat from Jihadism does not die with bin Laden. As we were vigilant in taking him out we need to demonstrate we will continue to be vigilant until the enemy has been subdued."
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.: "Today, the American people have seen justice. The leader of the United States' top enemy has gotten what he deserves for orchestrating the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on September 11, 2001. In 2001, President Bush said 'we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.' President Bush deserves great credit for putting action behind those words. President Obama deserves equal credit for his resolve in this long war against al-Qaeda.
Gordon Felt, President of the Families of Flight 93: "This is important news for us, and for the world. It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil."