Stakeholders at the 2nd forum of the AntiCorruption Situation Room have called on the Presidential Panel for Recovery of Federal Government Properties to also recover farm lands acquired by former leaders for personal uses.
The panel is headed by the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, on anti corruption, Chief Okoi Obong Obla. The stakeholders alleged that more of the former military and civilian governors abuse their offices by acquiring large expense of farm land that are left use thereby contradicting the land use act that requires land owners to develop their land within two years of acquiring it.
Speaking in response to the panel’s acclaimed achievement at the forum with the theme: “Presidential Panel for Recovery of Federal Government Properties: A Review of the Law, it’s Mandate and The Implications for AntiCorruption,” organised by the Human Environmental Development Agenda in collaboration with Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism and supported by MarArthur Foundation, a former president of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), Mr. Eze Nwagwu, said farmlands gotten by former leaders illegally should be recovered and such leaders made to face the consequences. Nwagwu also called on the panel to do lifestyle audit of public officials, and that focus must also be on political farmers who are using these farm land to get agriculture loans and inputs from government yet no farming activities is going on in these lands. “
Many of these former leaders both military and civilians acquired verse land but they are not farming on it. Travel by broad, you will see the billboard of different people, they are using it to collect agric money and all the agriculture inputs are channeled to these leaders. So if we are talking about economic adversity and we did not include food and the scarcity of it connecting it to the activities of political farmers. When we say federal government recovered stolen properties, people just think in terms of houses, but lands and what politically exposed persons are doing is terrible. “The whole of the land from Abuja to Nasarawa state has been shared out to government officials and they are not planting any crop on it. It is important that we look at those issues.
“The second thing we can do it how this panel to connect it work to lifestyle audit of public officials.
”If you work for 35 years, as a military general, it is possible to know how much you earn throughout your working live, and after your retirement, it is also possible to know what businesses you have gone into, especially if you have been paying taxes, we can put that together and ask questions, that you own a presidential library on a 75 hectares plot of land how do you come about that money? This panel can not be going around talking to small fries, and there are known criminals who are untouchable with our resources under their and you have a law like this that can send them to live imprisonment, yet they are walking free,” he lamented. Chairman of the forum, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), in his reaction said under the land use act, usually the governor of a state or the minister of FCT have the right to revoke any land not developed within two or three years of acquiring it.
“There is a clause under the land use act that states that you must develop it under two or three years and if you fail to develop, you have bridged the fundamental terms of the act and automatically loose such land. But the rich don’t lose their lands. Even when a big man built a Manson illegally, it would be regularised but not for the poor. “On the presidential library, we need to go on joint investigation, money was extorted from government departments and contractors, the record is there. Under the Code of Conduct Act, any property acquired why in office apart from customary gifts like cola nut is forfeitable to the state so those who built universities or acquired lands while in office at the appropriate time those assets will be forfeited to the state,” he explained.
How right is Idris’ non-appearance before Senate?
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had on two occasions failed to appear in the Senate chamber after being summoned by the lawmakers over the arrest and detention of Senator Dino Melaye and killings across Nigeria. KEHINDE OSASONA and PAUL OKAH seek the views of legal practitioners on the implications and report
Delegation of authority is allowed – Nnamdi Nwaiwu The issue of IGP and the Senate is being over flogged. If the IGP sent the DIG, who is the second in command, to represent him before the Senate, he should be able to answer the questions. There is no reason for the Senate to turn him back. If the invitation is based on Dino Melaye, then it is subjudice. Any arm of government can appear before the Senate on behalf of whoever delegated the authority to him.
However, his calling the Nigerian Senate blackmailers should be ignored because that’s just Nigerian politics for you.
IGP Idris is not above the law – Chijoke Okeke We are in a democratic setting, so it is the constitutional role of the legislature to invite any member of the executive. The oversight function is the constitutional responsibility of the Senate that must be respected by the IGP.
Legally, the IGP has the power to enforce laws and his refusal to appear before the Senate is telling them in clear terms that they can’t do anything, because he is head of enforcement of the law they make. It equally means that he’s above the law, which is not supposed to be so. There is no person that is above the law, even the President. If you are not answerable to anyone, then its better that you are not there.
Police boss has created bad image – Robert Odihi The IGP’s slight of the Senate can be appreciated more when you look at the kind of relationship that exists between the legislature and law enforcement in other climes, especially in the western world. At the very least, it is usually of cordiality and mutual respect, so it is completely unheard of that the Senate will summon an IGP, as it has the power to do, and the IGP snubs them. I hope it is not encouraged by the powers that be, and that the IGP will realize his error and apologize later.
There are channels the IGP can exploit to address his grievances than using derogatory words on the Senate. In a country guided by rule of law and decency, such attitude is not expected of people occupying sensitive public positions, it behoves on him to clear the bad image he has created for himself before the Senate.
IGP utterances contemptuous, disrespectful – David Dada The Senate is a sensitive arm of government that has enormous statutory powers to supervise other arm of government and agencies, so it behoves on the IGP to appear before the Senate and give his perspective on things aff ecting national security. His snub is disrespectful to the legislative arm of government because there must be checks and balances between the three arms of government. His referring to the Senators as blackmailers is contempt.
As the IGP and a respectful member of the society, he ought to be mindful of his utterances. Act disgraceful, desecrating our democracy – Suleiman O. Yahaya The issue of the IGP not honouring the invitation of the Senate is a disgrace to democracy, because we are in a democratic setting. When you look at the issue of democracy, you can’t compare it with the military era, which we refer to as dictatorship, because nobody is above the law.
In a democratic setting, we know that the IGP belongs to the executive, while the Senate is the legislature. The IGP not honoring the invitation is not democratic, because that is the meaning of democracy; where we have checks and balances. When the executive makes a mistake, the legislature is there to check and correct them. Not honouring the invitation is not a good idea.
Although the law does not make provisions for a sanction against his failure to honour the invitation, it’s left for the head of the executive to call him to order.
By referring to the Senate as a bunch of blackmailers, they can sue him for using derogatory words in his own personal capacity, because he’s not above the law.
Court interpretations should be sought – Chuwang D. Gyang The issue of the Senate inviting the IGP to appear before the House is based on a lot of issues ranging from security to human right situations, which is the IGP’s constitutional responsibility. The position of the law is that the National Assembly has the power to make laws and investigations when it comes to security issues or the police.
The IG was thinking it was because of Senator Dino Melaye and the National Assembly wants to undermine the power of the police to investigate Senator Melaye. Yes, the police have the power to investigate anybody and no arm of government should interfere, but, what the IG would have done is to honour the invitation of the National Assembly, and if he is being asked questions about the killings in the country, he should answer and explain the situation.
But, if he is asked questions pertaining to Dino, he would have given reasons to the National Assembly that the matter is subjudice, so let the court determine it.
Senate has power to summon IGP – Dapo Agboola The Senate has the power to invite the IGP, as long as Section 88b gives them power to make laws on the police. This is one of the issues to answer any questions that have to do with security.
Inviting him to speak on the killings in Benue State and other places and Dino Melaye, he can’t tell if his invitation is to make an amendment on the Police Act. He won’t know until he gets there. The issue is; why are you doing this to our man, then you can say you can’t speak because the matter is in court.
He should not pre-empt the National Assembly. The National Assembly knows what they are doing and the right steps to take. His calling them blackmailers it is not something to play politics with. IGP’s arrogance should be checkmated – Salako Adeolu I will look at the issue from two angles: the servant of a state doing his job as he should have no fear honouring any invitation. He has nothing to fear if his hands are free. The spokesman of the police says that they are calling him because of Dino Melaye, he should go and explain himself and he won’t be reprimanded.
The second angle is the position of the law.
The legislature can invite anybody, whether in the executive or judiciary. The IGP showed arrogance by not going to the Senate. The IGP should be checked, because he is not above the law and should not be exchanging words as a public officer. He has to show maturity by keeping quiet. IGP has no reason to reject invitation – Barrister Emeka Alioha The National Assembly has the constitutional mandate to make laws for the good governance of the country and to oversight the different ministries, departments and agencies of government. Before heads of agencies are appointed, they go through screening by the Senate.
By implication, the Senate has the right or mandate to call them to order and they do this by inviting them to learn of the issues about their offices. It is proper for the Senate to invite the IGP and he has no reason to reject their invitation. Before he was appointed as IGP, he went through a screening process by the Senate, so why won’t they call him to order?