• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Naira Swap: Buhari not in breach of S’ Court orders – Malami

FG, US seal deal on $954,807 Alamieyeseigha looted funds

Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, on Thursday, absolved President Muhammadu Buhari of accusations of disregard to the Supreme Court order on the naira redesign policy.

The Supreme Court had on February 8 directed that the Federal Government allow the old N200, N500 and N1000 to coexist with the new notes, pending the determination of the case brought then by three state governors of Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi over the naira redesign and swap policy.

Malami, who spoke on the issue for the first time officially on Thursday when he appeared at the 67th session of the regular briefings by the Presidential Media Team, said that the president has not acted in breach of the February 8 injunction of the apex court.

He, however, stated that as far as the rule of law was concerned, there were many options available, adding that the government had already submitted its position on the case, which is currently before the Supreme Court.

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A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court had ordered the suspension of the naira swap deadline and directed the continued use of the old notes, following a request by the three states.

President Buhari, despite the apex court’s ordr, in a nationwide broadcast, directed that only the N200 note should co-exist till April 10, while the old 500 and 1000 notes ceased to be valid by February 10.

Malami, speaking further on the issue, blamed the crisis around the policy on “plans by a few individuals with excess funds to frustrate the Federal Government policy”

“That an individual was able to accumulate over N200bn and has set aside N100bn out of that money to fight a genuine policy aimed at checking corruption, is unacceptable.

“Nigerians have not arrived at a point where we strike a balance between public and private interest. Most Nigerians have not realised this need, you have no reason to mortgage the lives of over 200 million Nigerians in danger because of selfish interest”

“What we have observed in this country is that people tend to promote individual interests over public and national interests”

Malami, however, assured that the government will continue to work to ensure that the right things are done”

Speaking on the forthcoming general election, Malami said the current administration has worked hard to address issues that impeded fair and credible elections in Nigeria, through the 2022 Electoral Act, signed into law by the President

He listed the issues addressed by the Act to include “lack of consistency in judicial decisions affecting electoral matters including widespread distortion of the time-honoured judicial practice of stare decisis in view of the overwhelming number of conflicting judgments on election matters

“Delays in the adjudicating electoral matters and in the issuance of certified true copies of judgement, absence of internal party democracy, the need to prevent the use of illicit funds in the electoral process and delays in the timeline for issuing notices of elections

“Prior to the enactment of the 2022 Act, INEC conducted an election with the 2010 Act which had already been amended four times.

“Despite these amendments and because of the failure of the previous administration to adopt the Uwais Committee Report, INEC and other relevant democratic institutions such as the judiciary, struggled to undertake their responsibilities.

Malami noted that the Electoral Act was signed into law by the president on February 25, 2022, one year ahead of the 2023 elections, to allow for proper preparations for the elections, as well as address manipulations of the process.

He assured that the Act will address the challenges in the electoral process through various reforms.

“The new Act had repealed the 2010 Act to address the shortcoming of the Electoral Act 2010. Some of the major changes that have transformed Nigeria’s electoral space include: “section 3 of the Act which created financial autonomy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (the Commission) by the creation of a National Electoral Commission Fund.

According to Malami, the Act also extends the time frame for notice about the election to 360 days to allow for enough time for planning of election instead of 90 days as was the case in the previous law, as stipulated in section 8 of the Act.

Others include the “provision of additional days within which Political Parties could submit the names of their candidates to INEC from 60 to 180 days (S.29)”

The minister, while speaking on electoral offences under the Act, stated that sections 23 and 29 (8) of the Act prohibit Forgery/Falsification of Affidavit, while section 121 also prohibits bribery as well as undue influence, as stipulated in section 127 of the Act.

Other offences to look out for under the Act include “threatening (direct or indirect)/duress, as stipulated in sections 23 and 128. “Political parties cannot hold or retain funds from outside Nigeria.

“The Act has placed a limit on a contribution by individuals to a political party and limit on the amount individuals can spend on a campaign (Sections 85 to 90).

Sections 49 and 54 have made provisions for inclusiveness for disabled people and different voting booths for men and women. Just as section 84 has excluded political appointees from voting or being voted for during the convention or congress of a party to avoid undue influence.