Senate moves to invoke antitrust law against Multi Choice

Sets to breakup its  Monopoly and its services 

For more Nigerians to enjoy little luxuries that were hitherto unaffordable

Strong indications have emerged that the Senate is planning to Invoke Antitrust Law Against Multi Choice, Nigeria following what it described as failure on the part of the company to respect Competitive rules.

The invocation of the Antitrust law on Multichoice will help  forestall the company’s development into a law unto itself that can influence the economy, determine the nation’s democracy and national life.

According to the motion which will be sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Edo South will among others,  compel the company to obey the Competitive and Consumer Protection Act of 2019.

As part of the prayers of the proposed motion, at the end of the day, it will help reduce the company’s sphere of influence on the politico-economic life of the country.

The plan is the breakup of Multichoice’s monopoly and its services which have hitherto allowed the company to set the bar on its own terms all of the time, even as it  will also, as a ripple effect, create competitive price regimes amongst the emergent smaller companies that will reduce burden of cost of service to the subscriber.

According to him,  “the management of Multichoice will be invited to a meeting with relevant senate committees and government agencies, chief of which is the Competitive and Consumer Protection Commission to work around the plan which will include the consideration of the possibility of the company initiating a pay-per-view system where the subscriber can select for himself what he wishes to pay for and watch instead of Mutichoice’s pre-planned bouquet package where the subscriber is forced to pay for and watch what the company selects for him in the packages.

“Also to be considered is the possibility of the hardware for the cable service coming to new or fresh subscribers free of charge. He added that Multichoice is one of the very companies which revenue went up in Nigeria during the covid-19 era when others went down. Inspite of this, Multichoice increased its subscription fees in the period even when it did not provide Nigerians with palliatives for the period.

“This is a practice in developed economies of the world on companies considered too big to remain one, concluded that the motion is in line with his Principal’s sworn determination to ensure that his constituents and indeed all Nigerians get a fair deal at all times from every quarters of our national life.

“If the motion succeeds, more Nigerians will be able to enjoy little luxuries that were hitherto somewhat unaffordable.”

Senate Tongue-lashes el Rufai Over State Police, Restructuring

THE Senate, yesterday, took a swipe at Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State over his allegation that the National Assembly ignored the All Progressives Congress, APC’s Restructuring Committee’s proposal on state police and devolution of powers since 2018.

<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">According to the Senate, Governor el- Rufai was not properly briefed or well-informed on the workings or activities of the National Assembly otherwise he would not have come up with such allegation.According to the Senate, Governor el- Rufai was not properly briefed or well-informed on the workings or activities of the National Assembly otherwise he would not have come up with such allegation.

‘’It is a matter of regret that for some reasons the consequential action by the APC leadership to adopt and implement the report has not happened since it was submitted in January 2018,’’ el-Rufai said at a public lecture to commemorate the 50th anniversary  of Arewa House, in Kaduna, on Saturday.

Urging fast move to remove structural bottlenecks that hobble our country, el-Rufai called on the federal legislators and the National Assembly Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review to take advantage of ‘’our report and initiate constitutional and legislative amendments in either a piece-meal or comprehensive manner without further delay.’’

Faulting the governor’s approach, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru,  APC, Osun Central, asked el-Rufai to bring before the 9th Senate his memorandum rather than make statements in newspapers.

According to him, as far as the current Senate is concerned, it has not received any proposal from the governor or from the group he represents.

The Senate spoke as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said el-Rufai’s comment is an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari is not a listening President following the failure of government to act on the recommendation since 2018.

Meanwhile, clamour for restructuring, state police and devolution of power to the federating units continued to gain currency, yesterday.

El-Rufai talking about 8th NASS not us – Senate

Senator Basiru said, “ The National Assembly operates in different assemblies. The present Assembly was inaugurated in June 2019 and if Governor El- Rufai is talking about 2018 proposal, he is talking about the 8th Assembly.

“The job of an Assembly starts from the date of its inauguration. I believe that it is not the intention to confuse Nigerians as to what to say.

“The 9th Assembly has inaugurated the Constitution Review Committee and we have called for Memoranda which has been published in most of the national dailies. If he (el- Rufai) has a proposal on constitution amendment and on what he has highlighted, we expect him to forward it to the National Assembly.

”As at today, we have not received any Memorandum from him. We are also not unaware that he was chairman of APC Committee to review the Constitution and the Report was submitted to the party.

”Our party is the ruling party, one expects him to use his office through the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, or use his well known connection in the presidency to bring such a proposal to the National Assembly.

“The National Assembly is not a single party, it is a place for all Nigerians and people of different parties. You cannot expect us to to come up with issues without consultations.

“Governor Nasir El Rufai has not approached the National Assembly with any of the recommendations. I don’t believe that he has been well informed or briefed before he came up with it, we are committed to amending the Constitution. He cannot be blaming us for what is not before the National Assembly.

“ There is a proper channel to present an issue, we expect him to do that if he has any Memorandum, he should come with it to us rather than just making statements in newspapers.”

El-Rufai’s comment shows Buhari is not a listening president- PDP

Reacting to el-Rufai’s comment, the PDP through its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi, commended the governor for speaking up and urged other leaders of the APC desirous of a new Nigeria, to add their voices to the call for the sack of  service chiefs.

He said: “If the El-Rufai committee recommended state police and the Federal Government did nothing about it, it shows that Buhari is not a listening President, not a listening leader. The level of insecurity under the watch of President Buhari has become so scary and worrisome.

“So, it is a good thing that an APC governor is speaking up now. We urge other leaders, particularly their governors and other leaders to help us tell President Buhari to re-jig the nation’s security architecture. Why is he finding it difficult to replace the current crop of service chiefs or is Mr. President saying we do not have capable hands better than these ones?”

Speaking on the advice from Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi at the Arewa 50th anniversary that the call for restructuring should not be given ethnic colouration, the PDP publicity scribe said restructuring is good for the health of the entire country and should be supported by all.

“Restructuring is an idea being pushed by all. It is neither a call for the good of one ethnic group nor a move being championed by one ethnic nationality. So, Governor Kayode Fayemi is right,” he added.

APC  not sincere about restructuring – Ohanaeze

However, apex Igbo socio-cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, dismissed el-Rufai and APC’s claim on restructuring as lame excuse.

Speaking Emeka Attama, the media adviser to President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Ohanaeze said: “This is a lame excuse being part of the present debacle APC finds itself.

“If Governor el-Rufai knew this all along and the NASS was dilly-dallying, why didnt he speak out before now? Pure medicine after death. Sorry, APC government is not sincere about restructuring.”

There’s nothing special about it  –  Shettima

Speaking on the issue, President of the Arewa Youth’s Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, said: “Nobody is afraid of restructuring. Governor El-Rufail spoke the mind of northern progressives. For us there is nothing special about it.

“I have been an advocate of restructuring but I don’t subscribe to violent means of achieving it. I am for dialogue and I support restructuring 100 per cent. I find it quite disturbing that too much power has been concentrated at the centre in Nigeria’s governance history, especially since our exit from unitary system.

”The kind of federalism we’re practising today is therefore quite defective. The states have no real control over how this country is being run. They don’t have the right economic and political independence they deserve. Monthly statutory allocation to states has made Nigerian state governments too dependent on Federal Government and this is killing their autonomy.

“As for #EndSARS protest against the alleged harassment by a unit of the nation’s police force, the reality is already known. State police is necessary. I say this because you don’t post a policeman born and bred in Sokoto for policing Sagamu, a place and people he knows little or nothing about.

“I therefore support state police to make the war on crime more effective. I support restructuring to give the states the desired freedom from federal might and manipulations.

”The centre should be made less-attractive for effective governance. We cannot afford a federalism so expensive that it’s weighing down the national economy too much.”

How COVID-19 stalled APC’s move

But for the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the APC would have gone far on the restructuring quest, party leaders have said.

APC governors had in February this year disclosed of their decision to revisit the report of the Malam Nasir el-Rufai led Committee on True Federalism.

Governor of Katsina state and Chairman, APC Governors’ Steering Committee on Good Governance, Aminu Masari, who disclosed this during the meeting of the committee in Abuja, said the steering committee would set up a sub-committee to look at several issues including the el-Rufai Committee’s report with a view to coming up with a compact template for implementation.

He said: “The most important thing is that we need to deal with the issue of governance. What are those issues of governance as it affects the welfare, security and well-being of our people. In dealing with them, the steering committee would look at a whole list of issues and make recommendations to the larger house where those issues will be dealt with.

‘’When we say we are looking at a cocktail of issues, it could be in the area of security, constitutional amendment and others. This is why the synergy between the executive and the legislature is critical. At the end of the day, those that have to do with policy formulation would be dealt with by the legislative arm and those issues that require administrative actions would be dealt with by the executive. We are not zeroing on any particular issue but a lot of them.

“The issue of constitutional amendment was discussed. The el-Rufai Committee report will also be discussed by this technical committee that we have set up and they will look at those recommendations by the el-Rufai Committee, take them and make some recommendations to the larger house. Then the issue of budgeting and implementation would also be discussed by this sub-committee.”

Also speaking, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi said the Senate is ready to synergize with the executive and carry out tasks or constitutional amendments that are capable of enhancing the fortunes of Nigerians.

Hon. Friday Akpatason who represented House Leader, Hassan Doguwa said the committee would work with the party to implement its agenda.

“The summary of the whole thing is that we are trying to reduce a whole number of issues to make them more compact for implementation and which would reflect the party’s agenda for taking Nigerians to the next level.”

Matters arising | How SARS Operatives Allegedly Raped And Killed Bride-To-Be, Stella Ifeoma Abudu, Weeks After Completing Her NYSC

The families of Late Stella Abudu arrested, assaulted, molested, allegedly murdered by SARS in Apo, Abuja, are demanding justice for their daughter who was arrested by three SARS operatives on Thursday, September 10, 2020, when they invaded the home of her fiancé, Afam Ugwunwa, at Wumba village in the Lokogoma district of Abuja to arrest him.

The Abudu family and their lawyer, Barr. Ifeanyi Cosmas of Cosmic Legal Consult, on Wednesday, had a meeting with Adada General Assembly, led by Hon. Lazarus Ogbonnaya, and other members including Mr. Eze Michael Obochi and Barr. Chidozie Onah

.

The family of Late Stella Ifeoma Abudu, the bride-to-be who was allegedly raped and murdered by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has moved to petition the International Human Right Commission (IHRC); a civil society group, Transparency Internation; the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) and other relevant bodies

The Adada Group maintained that it will ensure Late Stella gets justice, adding that a proper forensic examination and autopsy are carried out to get to the root cause of the deceased’s death.

The group has taken steps to reach the Enugu State Government liaison Office in Abuja to ensure that justice is receive for the deceased.

Recall that in an exclusive interview, Barr. Ifeanyi Cosmas Mamah Esq. told The Street Journal that the SARS operatives were in search of Stella’s fiancé on allegations that he was in possession of hard substances suspected to be narcotics.

Barr. Cosmas said“The case has been transferred from the Apo police division to the FCT Command and the Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, has ordered for an autopsy to be done to ascertain the cause of her death.

“I can also confirm to you that the SARS officers who are responsible for her death and were at large have been identified, arrested and are currently undergoing interrogation at the station.

“Late Stella just rounded up her NYSC and did her introduction with her fiance on the 6th of September and her traditional wedding was billed for December, 2020.

“Residents in the area have affirmed that the SARS picked her up on September 10th but the police have continued to say they met her unconscious when they broke into her fiancé’s apartment and took her to the hospital.

“We have strong reasons to believe that Stella Ifeoma Abudu was sexually assaulted before she was killed. That is why we wrote a petition to the Inspector-General so that the case is transferred from the Apo Police Station to the Police Headquarters. We lost faith in Apo Division.

“They alleged that her fiancé was in possession of narcotics that is why they were looking for him.”

In addition, Senate has Commenced investigation of the alleged rape, murder of Late Stella Ifeoma Abudu by SARS

The Nigerian Senate has mandated its Committees on Police Affairs and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate the alleged arrest, detention, rape and murder of Ifeoma Abugu by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) FCT Command in Abuja.

It also mandated the committees to investigate the status of the presidential directive on the reorganisation of SARS in light of the recent public outcry over atrocities perpetrated by the squad.

This was sequel to a point of order raised by the senator representing Enugu North senatorial district in the Nigerian Senate, Chukwuka Utazi.

Ms Abugu was said to have been arrested and whisked away from her fiance’s apartment by three SARS operatives at Wumba, Lokogoma Area of Abuja on September 1.

She was arrested in place of her fiance, Afam Abugu, who was the initial target of the police officers. She was detained, allegedly raped, and murdered by the SARS operatives.

Ms Abugu, who had just completed her national youth service, was planning her wedding, which was scheduled for December. She was killed days after her introduction.

Although the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, had ordered a discreet investigation and post-mortem on the corpse to unravel the true cause of her death, the anti-robbery squad claims that she died of cocaine overdose.

The motion

In his presentation, Mr Utazi faulted the arrest of Ms Abugu in place of her fiance, which he said is contrary to Section 7 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which prohibits the arrest of family and friends of a suspect in order to get the suspect to surrender.

Before the gruesome murder of Ms Abugu, he said, there have been persistent complaints by the general public including news reports in print and electronic media of the attrocities of operatives of the squad including illegal arrests, detention and extra-judicial killing of Nigerians under very questionable and controversial circumstances.

He also recalled that in 2018, the federal government, in response to public outcry and media reports on the unlawful activities of SARS, set up a presidential panel on reform of SARS and the report of the panel formed the basis of the presidential directive on the overhaul of the activities of SARS to ensure that the squad is intelligence-driven, human rights sensitive and restricted to the prevention and detention of heinous crimes such as armed robbery and kidnapping and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences.

“Despite all efforts to reform SARS, the notorious squad has remained brutal in its operation with very little or no regard to the observance of human rights and suspects, contrary to its scope of activities and the presidential directive regarding its operation and has even veered away from its core mandate.

“There is an urgent need for the Senate to investigate the incident in order to ensure that justice is given to the family of the deceased and to establish the status of SARS reform in the light of the recent public outcry over atrocities perpetrated by SARS operatives,” he said.

Uproar in Senate over new PENCOM appointments

Senate President Ahmed Lawan PHOTO: TWITTER/NIGERIAN SENATE

Fresh appointments to fill vacancies in the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) created uproar on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.

Senators across party divides were upset immediately Senate President Ahmad Lawan read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari announcing the nomination of Aisha Umar as the director general of PENCOM.

They alleged that the appointment breached the Federal character principle.

The letter equally announced Oyindasola Oni as nominee for the office of Chairman of the PENCOM.

Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe had risen to protest the appointment in which Aisha Umar, a nominee from the North East, was picked to replace, the former Director-General (DG) of PENCOM, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, from South East.

He described the nomination as a flagrant breach of the Act establishing the PENCOM.

Abaribe pointed out that by the provisions of Section 20(1) and section 21(1) and (2) of the National Pension Commission Act 2014, “in the event of a vacancy, the President shall appoint replacement from the geo-political zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure.”

Senator Abaribe maintained that the replacement for Mrs Anohu -Amazu must come from the South East.

“I recall that the tenure of the incumbent was truncated, therefore the new letter from the president that has now moved the Chairman of the Commission to another zone may not be correct because it is against the law setting up the National Pension Commission,” Abaribe said.

“Before you (Senate President) send it to the appropriate committee, I wish to draw the attention of the committee to it.”

In his response, Senator Lawan rebuffed Senator Abaribe’s point of order and observation.

“If there is any petition to that effect it should be sent to the committee,” he said.

It was later found out that senators across party divides are set to resist the nomination of Aisha Umar as DG of PENCOM.

One of the lawmakers who pleaded not to be named revealed that the opposition to the contravention of the act establishing the National Pension Commission cuts across the south east, southwest and the North central.

“We are set to meet tonight (Tuesday) to harmonise our positions,” the lawmaker said.

The lawmaker recalled that move by Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to push for the nomination of Mr. Funsho Doherty from the south west as successor to Mrs Anohu -Amazu as the Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) was frustrated in the past.

“Professor Osinbajo, as acting President could not push it through.

“They threatened him with impeachment and used the lawmakers from the North to block him, citing provisions of the same Pension Act.”

The lawmaker accused the President of the Senate of being a willing tool in the hands of the Presidency in its agenda of promoting the interest of a particular section of the country which he noted was contrary to the Federal Character Principle entrenched in the Constitution.