Tag Archives: Law

SENATOR AKPABIO FIGHTS BACK

12 Jun

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Heated debate on an executive bill, which sought to give ownership and control of the water resources sector to the Federal Government, practically split the Senate along ethnic and regional lines yesterday.

The contentious bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to establish a regulatory framework for the water resources sector in Nigeria, provide for the equitable and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface and groundwater resources and for related matters.”

It has already been processed by Senate Committee on Water Resources which chairman is Senator Mohammed Ubali Shitu (APC, Jigawa State) and was to be considered yesterday on the clause by clause basis before final approval.

But trouble started when Senate Minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, drew the attention of his colleagues to the fact that the bill could deprive people living along riverbanks of their basic livelihood.

Shitu, who had presented his committee’s report on the bill to the Senate earlier, insisted that the Federal Government should be empowered to have absolute control over water banks and resources in Nigeria.

Still opposing the bill, Akpabio who raised issues against Clause 3, warned against making a law that would lead to the Federal Government taking over the landed areas of riverine communities, especially communities where the water bodies dry off.

Akpabio made reference to Lake Chad which water he said used to cover 25,000 kilometres of land but had dried up to about 5,000 kilometres. He said it meant that the community now had 20,000 kilometres for farming and other activities, stressing that it would have been out of the reach of the people if the government had possessed the bank.

Senator Emmanuel Paulker (PDP, Bayelsa-Central) supported Akpabio, noting that there was a need to define what a bank is.

He also pointed out that the Federal Government was about to take over resources in the states at a time when Nigerians were calling for devolution of power.

The Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe-North), however, countered Akpabio, stating that the lawmaker was arguing in error.

Lawan noted that the clause was in reference to waters like River Benue and River Niger, which flow through several states. He urged the Senate to ignore the issues raised by those opposed to the bill.

Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East) supported Akpabio’s position declaring that the Nigeria Inland Water Ways Authority (NIWA) was already having an inroad into Lagos State waters.

Senator Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto) said that the contentious provision was clear and should be adopted.

Senator Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa North) who also said that the clause should be adopted, added: “We should be more Nigerians when we are discussing national issues.”

Senator Solomon Adeola (Lagos West) cautioned that the entire Bill should be reconsidered since it has become controversial.

In a bid to prevent the debate from deteriorating and creating more trouble, Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said that the bill should be referred to an adhoc committee made up of the Water Resources Committee Chairman, Shitu, Deputy Chairman, Bwacha, Chairman of the Senate committee Judiciary, David Umaru, director legal services and Senator Barnabas Gemade, to reconsider the clause and report back in one week.

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Obong Attah Slams Akpabio …Says Pension Law is Fraudulent.

31 May

 Ex-Gov. Attah attacks Akpabio over scandalous pension law: Says “Publish what you pay me”

Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Victor Attah, has challenged the incumbent, Governor Godswill Akpabio, to publish how much he has paid him (Mr. Attah) and past leaders of the state as pension.

Ex-Governor Attah

This followed claims by Mr. Akpabio that the government had been spending huge resources in taking care of former governors as well as deputy governors and their spouses.

Mr. Attah, who spoke in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, also berated journalists, especially those who recently interviewed the Akwa Ibom state governor, for not asking Mr. Akpabio pertinent questions about his management of the state resources.

He said, “If Godswill Akpabio says he conceived the new law to put a ceiling to the expenses made on previous leaders of the state, somebody should have had the guts to ask him how much he has been paying to the past leaders.

“You journalists are afraid of Godswill Akpabio and that is why you have always shied away from asking some pertinent questions.”

Governor Akpabio, who appeared on a breakfast show on Channels Television earlier in the day had described as laughable, the criticisms that have trailed the new law that would enable him earn over N200 million as pension annually.

Mr. Akpabio said, “It’s a laughable situation that people generate controversy over the pension law. The law has been in existence in Akwa Ibom State. I am the one implementing it.

“I know what I am talking about and because I wear the shoe, I know where it pinches. All the former elected governors and their deputies have been enjoying the pension. The pension was first established in 2000 and was further amended with certain provisions added in 2006.”
While explaining the general principles of the new law, he said, “It’s really not a retroactive law, neither is it a new law. It is an existing law that went through amendment.

He noted that the old law was open-ended in terms of benefits payable to past governors, deputies and their spouses.

He said, “We had a situation where bills from former deputies and their spouses worth N29 million were brought from several hospitals they claimed they went for treatment abroad.

“Because the bill did not specify whether the hospital should be in Nigeria or not, most of what I have seen in the past seven years has been bills from hospitals abroad.”

In the course of implementing the existing law, Mr. Akpabio said some former governors and their deputies have brought bills ranging from $50,000, $70,000, and sometimes $112,000.

He argued that it was against decorum to question the medical bills of past leaders on grounds that there are high, and mentioned an instance where a former leader requested for funds to hire an airline to take his spouse for treatment abroad.

But Mr. Attah, who sounded angry said, “Why don’t you people ask him how much the state has paid to its past leaders? Why don’t you people ask him how much has been paying to Obong Attah and others?
“I don’t like it when journalists always come to ask me about what is wrong in Akwa Ibom State instead of asking Godswill Akpabio.

“He is the one who said he has been paying so much to past governors and wanted to put ceiling on what is paid out to check wastage of public funds. Those who interviewed him should have asked him to mention just how much he has paid so far.

“They didn’t ask him such questions; they didn’t ask him to clarify on the projects he said he has been carrying out in the state.
“I don’t have anything to tell you since you do not have the guts to ask Governor Akpabio to present proofs of what he has been paying to past leaders of the state.

“You journalists should go and look at the law critically and ask him whether Obong Attah has been enjoying any of the benefits provided for in the law.

“You should also ask him whether he built a retirement home for me either in Uyo or Abuja. Ask him to tell you how much he has been paying to Obong Attah as retirement package after I left office.

“These are questions Akpabio should answer and should provide verifiable records to Akwa Ibom people and Nigerians. Journalists should stop asking me questions they should ordinarily ask Governor Godswill Akpabio. I want to enjoy my retirement in peace.”

Mr. Attah said journalists should stop using him as a shield against their inability to confront Governor Akpabio to tell them the truth about what is happening in Akwa Ibom State.

Culled from Premiumtimes

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