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Uganda: Parliamentary committee approves age limit bill

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A Ugandan parliamentary committee has approved changes aimed at scrapping presidential age limit.

Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee members endorsed the most sweeping constitutional changes since 2005, with 18 votes— taking a significant leap forward as 10th Parliament seeks to increase presidential term from five to seven years.

5-YEAR TERM

Although Article 105 (1), which provides for a five-year presidential term, was not among the proposed constitutional amendments, the Monitor understands that a polarised committee retreat on Friday approved a seven-year presidential term and recommended a referendum.

President Yoweri Museveni has since backed a seven-year term and the age limit removal.

But as “a bargain chip” in the dramatic endorsement of the removal of age limits, the ruling National Resistance Movement members, according to committee sources, backed the Opposition demand for the restoration of the term limits in the Ugandan constitution.

The terms limit was removed by MPs in the 7th Parliament in 2005 to allow President Museveni contest for a third term in office during the 2006 elections.

NRM MPs

Although Opposition MPs have welcomed the proposed restoration of the term limits in the constitution, they have accused NRM MPs of trying to appease a bigger part of their voters who had warned them not to tinker with the Constitution.

The debate on the proposed restoration of term limits, however, became controversial after committee members failed to agree on whether a president who has already served two or more terms under the current legal regime, should be allowed to “count afresh” and even contest under the new political dispensation.

he matter was left to the House to decide.

“It’s obvious the NRM MPs are trying to bury their heads in the sand like an ostrich…they are hunting for an enticing excuse in exchange to appease voters who rejected the amendment to Article 102 (b),” Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga said.

Expressing fears that the proposed restoration of the term limits might not sail through Parliament, Mr Mpuuga and other Opposition lawmakers told the Monitor that the trade-off is mere window-dressing, and that “the same people who removed the term limits are still around and their appetite for power and patronage seems to grow.”

7 MEMBERS

Mr Mpuuga said: “The issue at hand is about cultivating a culture of respect for laws of the land… the two most important Articles [102 (b) and 105 (2)] that acted as safeguards of nascent democracy were never tested but seen as roadblocks warranting removal, without addressing why they existed in the first place. This is absurd.”

The ruling party members backed by “friendly” independents used their numerical strength in the committee to endorse the removal of age limit from the 1995 constitution in spite of the dissenting views from minority legislators led by Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Ssegona, Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu and Kumi MP Monicah Amoding (NRM).

At least seven committee members— including Opposition chief whip, Ssemuju Ibrahim Nganda and Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko — were conspicuously absent.

Some of the absentee MPs were attending the 8th Inter-Parliamentary Games in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

VOTING

Since Thursday, members of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee have been holed up at the Lake Victoria Serena, Kigo, to write their report ahead of the anticipated Second Reading of the Raphael Magyezi’s Constitutional (Amendments) Bill, 2017 on Tuesday.

However, sources have told the Monitor that on account of the disagreements, especially on the proposed amendment to Article 102 (b) of the Constitution, there will be two reports — the main report and the minority report.

Although the main report has made its recommendations, they are not final.

The Committee of the Whole House chaired by Speaker will debate the two reports and vote on each of them— including the controversial proposed amendments— before a final decision is made.

Although there were reports in the corridors of Lake Victoria Serena Hotel that those who voted in favour of the removal of the age limit from the 1995 Constitution pocketed USh100 milion each as part of a Shs300m deal, the Monitor could not independently verify these claims.

In backing the removal of age limit caps, the 18 MPs branded Article 102 (b) as “discriminatory” and insisted that the choice should be left to the voters since under Article 1, power belongs to the people.

CONSENSUS

The members also argued that there are many leaders all over the world who are above 75 and that many prosperous countries like the US don’t have age restrictions.

On the other hand, in the draft minority report, those against the removal of age limit asked their colleagues to account for the views of Ugandans who rejected the proposed amendments and insisted that there should be qualifications for leadership positions since the law provides for academic and citizenship qualifications.

They have also argued that discrimination is under Article 21 (3) and age is not one of them.

Without delving into the details of the two reports, Mr Oboth Oboth, the committee chairperson said: “We have concluded report writing; we have two reports— majority and minority— because there is no unanimity in the matter. It’s a controversial matter you cannot have consensus.”

Once the report(s) signing process is done, Mr Oboth Oboth told the Monitor that the two reports will be officially presented to the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and then a decision will be made at that level to schedule the Second Reading of the Constitutional (Amendments) Bill on the order paper.

24 Hours Across Africa

Nigeria: Woman arrested over Outrageous Viral video of her abusing a child

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Police in Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos have arrested a woman filmed abusing a child and then locking him in a caged kennel with dogs.

It is not clear when the footage was shot, but it went viral on Twitter earlier this month.

In the video clip, a woman is seen beating a boy, stripped to his waist, with a belt. She then drags him into an empty kennel and locks it before walking away. Two dogs can be seen in other neighbouring kennels.

The video caused outrage on social media, where shocked users offered rewards to anyone that could track down the woman.

On Thursday, a police spokesperson, Dolapo Badmos, tweeted that the woman in the video had been arrested.

“The suspect is in custody and will be charged to court… The boy, who happens to be an orphan, has been rescued and kept in a shelter provided by Lagos state government,” she said.

Her tweet links to a video filmed by police showing the dog kennels where the boy was locked up:

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24 Hours Across Africa

Nigeria: Imo recovery team storms Okorocha’s premises, recover alleged looted state property

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Okorocha Faults Action
Imo State Recovery of Moveable Assets Committee, yesterday, stormed a premises belonging to the immediate past governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, where it discovered properties suspected to be that of the State Government, but allegedly parked in the premises known as All In Warehouse, located on Aba Road, Owerri.

But the Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Ladodo, who arrived the scene laced with crowd, directed that the property should be put in custody of the police. Some of the items included furniture, clothing materials and others.

The chairman of the committee, Ndubuaku, said the committee received credible intelligence information that led to them to storm the premises. He pronounced sealing of the place, directing that nobody, including the Okorochas, should enter the premises till further notice. Ndubuaku said the committee would ensure that all the State Government property illegally stolen were recovered.

But Okorocha, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser (Media), Sam Onwueneodo, described the action of the State Government as unjustifiable.

“This is to inform all men and women of goodwill, that barely two days after the agents of the Economic & Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, had marked the ALL – IN SHOP owned by the wife of the former governor, Dr. Mrs. Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha, located at Naze near Owerri, for investigation also following flood of petitions written to the Commission by PDP government in the State, the leader and members of the government’s Committee on the Recovery of Government Property invaded the shop today (yesterday) July 26, 2019, and looted the goods there, including the ones inside the containers inside the premises.

“We had told all those, who cared to hear us, that the PDP government in the State is out for witch-hunting just to intimidate Opponents, otherwise why invading and looting a Shop with furniture and baby goods, already marked for investigation by the EFCC.

“And the Containers they looted have been in the premises of the shop before the EFCC agents came and marked the Shop for investigation last Tuesday; they are still there before the Jasper Ndubuaku-led gang invaded the place. The question now is, what if at the end of the day, the EFCC’s investigation establishes that this shop has no relationship with the last administration?

“Obviously, Jasper Ndubuka and his gang are not recovering any property but are on looting spree. They were the ones, who petitioned to EFCC and they came and marked the investments they had mentioned in their petitions for investigation. Then, why going to loot the same establishments marked by EFCC for investigation? If Governor Ihedioha had asked question and if he meant well, he would not have entrusted such sensitive task into the hands of a man like Jasper Ndubuaku.

“Nigerians should watch  closely the brigandage going on in Imo. Leaders and members of the so-called Government’s Property Recovery Committee are just having the licence to loot with the protection of the State Government. Otherwise, why won’t they allow the EFCC to conclude their investigation?”

“We have been shouting for the world to hear our voice. Aside their inviting the EFCC, we have asked them to publish whatever they have against Rochas Okorocha and the family or anybody that served in the Rescue Mission government, but they have not been forthcoming. The implication of all these is that, where restraint is not applied and the governor cannot control the recklessness, self-help may be the last resort; nobody should be blamed.”

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