Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Senate passes harmonised FOI Bill

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.


EFCC re-arrests ex-Enugu gov, quizzes bank MD over N795m strange transfer

Outgoing senator and former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, was, on Tuesday, re-arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged fresh discovery of corrupt acts while in office as governor between 1999 and 2007.
The commission’s spokesperson, Mr Femi Babafemi, confirmed his arrest.
Babafemi disclosed that he was being interrogated as of press time 4.05 p.m.
He was reportedly picked up following fresh information at the disposal of the commission of his alleged looting of the state.
He is being prosecuted for alleged theft of billions of naira from the state coffers while in office.
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.


Soldiers on revenge kill DPO, DCO and 6 others

It was a bloody Tuesday in Lagos as some soldiers shot dead two senior police officers and six others.
A Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) ran into the rampaging soldiers at the ASCON Road, near the Badagry Army Barrack.
Daily Sun gathered that trouble, started between the soldiers and policemen on Sunday when some policemen at a checkpoint along the Badagry Road confronted a man in mufti, suspected to be a soldier.
The man, Daily Sun also learnt was riding on a motorcycle and was accused by the police of contravening traffic rules. Efforts were made by the police to arrest him, but he allegedly resisted arrest. A police corporal was alleged to have opened fire on the suspected soldier who later bled to death. After it realised that the victim was a soldier, all the policemen at road block, in the police stations and on duty along the road removed their uniforms and fled their duty posts.

The fear that the soldiers might come on reprisal attack was confirmed when some rampaging soldiers stormed some police stations along the road but did not meet their targets. The aggrieved soldiers therefore barricaded the road, searching for policemen inside the vehicles plying the Lagos/Badagry expressway.
While the soldiers were searching for policemen, the slain DPO, Mr. Samuel Salihu contacted the Army High Command who invited him for a peace meeting yesterday.

It was gathered that while the DPO, his DCO, who was identified as Samson Okedusi, a Superintendent of Police (SP), orderly and other officers were on their way to 242 Battalion, Ibereko Barracks, they were allegedly ambushed by some soldiers who opened fire on them. By the time the smoke settled, the DPO, DCO and six other persons were stone dead.
As at press time, dead bodies of the DPO and others were lying on the road.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army yesterday said that none of its men was involved in the brutal killing of the two police officers and six other persons in the Badagry area of Lagos.

Army spokesman in Lagos, Lieutenant Colonel Kayode Ogunsanya told Daily Sun on phone that none of the Force’s personnel was involved in the killing of the DPO, DCO of the Badagry Police Station over a minor incident that started on Sunday.
Ogunsanya said the suspected killers of a soldier on Sunday night at the Ibereko Barrack of the 242 Reconnaissance Battalion are in the custody of the Nigerian Army and that the killing of the soldier is being investigated.

Ogunsanya in a statement which was sent as SMS reads: “A soldier from 242 battalion was shot and killed by policemen on May 22, 2011. The suspected killers have been arrested and in our custody. The case is being investigated. However, no soldier is involved in the killing of the DPO and the policemen as being speculated.”
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Hafiz Ringim, was in Lagos to commission some communication gadgets at the state Headquarters, Ikeja, when news about the killing filtered in.

He was said to be consulting with the Army High Command to find a lasting solution to the war allegedly declared on the police by the soldiers.
A senior police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity told Daily Sun that he spoke with the DPO a few minutes before he was killed.
He said: “I asked him what he was doing about the matter and he told me that he was on his way to the barracks to see the commandant. When I called him few minutes again, his orderly who escaped death by the whiskers answered the phone telling me that the DPO had been shot.”
Meanwhile, there was tension along the road as shop owners hurriedly locked up their shops. Some residents had started fleeing the area pwhile others locked themselves up in their homes.

A driver, Matthew Nwaogu described the incident as a war. According to him, he was on his way to the Republic of Benin when he started hearing gunshots, thinking that armed robbers were shooting, he drove straight to a police station.
At the police station, he saw some armed soldiers ransacking the station. He said one of the soldiers after searching his vehicle and the passengers, ordered them to lie down so that they would not be hit by stray bullets.

Daily Sun investigation revealed that some of the deceased and injured victims were civilians were going on their normal businesses.
Worried residents had besieged the Area ‘C’ Police Command, Festac Town to make enquiries about their relatives.
Lagos State police spokesman, Mr. Samuel Jinadu, when contacted over the clash said the Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Yakubu Alkali would soon comment on the issue.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Politicians from both sides of the aisle celebrate Osama bin Laden's death!

The news that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. strike in Pakistan was met by jubilant crowds in front of the White House and across the U.S.. That sentiment was expressed by members of Congress, former and current officials from both parties who all released statements once the news broke late Sunday night.

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."


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