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I agree with Buhari on INEC’s credible polls, says Agbakoba

A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) has hailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment on the elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last year.

In his New Year’s Day broadcast, the President described the by-elections conducted last year as credible.

Agbakoba said: ”INEC has not done badly at all. I give INEC kudos for conducting elections in a credible way, in spite of difficult circumstances. So I agree with President Buhari on this, that INEC has conducted credible elections in the past few years.

“I give INEC strong commendations for the work it has done. The electoral process has also been strengthened, especially with the inclusion of electronic voting in the electoral act. INEC has really shown capacity to organise a credible election, so I think they will be able to deliver well in 2019.”
But the activist said the president was undermining the challenges in the country by saying that such challenges could be tackled by the right processes.

He said: “I don’t understand what he meant by process. What does process mean? That to me cannot address the issues. The issue is that Nigeria is in distress. If you rush a dying patient to the hospital on an emergency, you don’t subject him to process such as filling a form. Rather, you take him to the intensive care unit immediately and start to treat.

“So Nigeria’s problem is not process. Nigeria’s problem is more fundamental. The problem is about who are we? Where do we want to be? How do we want to live together? Those are the issues. These are not processes. He completely undermined Nigeria’s problems by saying it is process. What is process? I don’t understand.”

He said Buhari’s promise to embark on massive road repairs were impracticable, urging him to reconsider his position on restructuring which he believes would solve the country’s problems, including that of road infrastructure.

Agbakoba also yesterday said the Executive had not fully complied with constitutional provisions in preparing this year’s Appropriation Bill with regards to the Judiciary.

He said he would initiate legal proceedings and pray the court to set aside the 2018 budget if the right thing is not done within seven days.
Agbakoba, in January 3 letters to Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, noted that President Buhari discussions are ongoing on the 2018 estimates but said sections 81 to 84 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) set out the procedure for preparing the Appropriation Bill, but that it was not complied with as far the Judiciary is concerned.

“The Constitution requests each arm of government (the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary) to lay before the National Assembly its estimates of revenue and expenditure for each financial year, after which it is appropriated, harmonised as a Bill and presented to the President for his assent.

“Unfortunately, the Executive has failed to comply with this procedure by laying before the National Assembly estimates of revenues and expenditure for the Judiciary.

“This is in spite of a subsisting Federal High Court decision in Olisa Agbakoba vs. Attorney-General of the Federation & Others, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/63/2013 that has declared this practice unconstitutional,” Agbakoba said.

The frontline human rights activist urged the National Assembly to draw the Executive’s attention to the Federal High Court’s decision.

He urged the National Assembly to send a request to the National Judicial Council (NJC) to lay before it the Judiciary’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2018.

Agbakoba said the Executive should be made to represent its estimates for 2018.

“We are unaware if the National Assembly has laid it budget estimates. But, please note that if after seven days the constitutional procedure is not complied with, we shall have no choice but to initiate legal proceedings to enforce the decision of the Federal High Court and set aside the 2018 Appropriation Bill,” Agbakoba said.

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