President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the payment of health workers whose salaries were withheld when they embarked on strike. Labour and employment minister Chris Ngige said this on Thursday while speaking to journalists after a meeting with the president at the State House in Abuja. The minister said Buhari has directed the ministry of finance, budget and national planning to effect the payment of doctors, nurses and other health workers for the period they were on strike in 2018 and 2021. “Mr President has approved last week and I have the authority and letter directing the minister of finance to release the funds of the resident doctors for September and October 2021, which was seized in conformity with the law,” he said. He added that in the same vein, the approval also covers members of the JOHESU who went on strike in 2018 for three months. After the first month, after March when they couldn’t come back, we asked that their pay be suspended. This is in tandem with the ILO principles at work. A worker has a right to strike, but the employer has a right to stop the worker’s remuneration and if possible, use it to keep his enterprise going by taking new hands, where possible, especially in essential services. “So, that same money for 2018 April and May, Mr President has again approved that the finance minister refunds or reimburse, on compassionate grounds, those payments. This is predicated on the grounds that this group of workers has been showing a lot of dedication and concern to the COVID pandemic and that their hazard allowance for 2021 had remained what it was before,” the minister said.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has punished three judges who issued conflicting orders in the leadership crisis that dogged the Peoples Democratic Party this year. Okogbule Gbasam of the High Court of Rivers State, Nusirat Umar of the High Court of Kebbi State and Edem Kooffreh of the High Court of Cross River State, were barred by the NJC from elevation to either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. While Mr Gbasam and Ms Umar were blocked from promotion to the higher bench for two years, Mr Kooffreh’s sanction carries five years. In one week, three courts in different states also issued counter-orders about the office of the national chairman of the PDP. The Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt On August 24, restrained Uche Secondus from parading himself as PDP national chairman. However, in another twist, the Kebbi State High Court in Birnin-Kebbi restored Mr Secondus’ mandate as the national chairman of the opposition PDP on August 27. A day after Mr Secondus’ reinstatement, another High Court in Calabar, Cross River State, issued an interim order restraining him from resuming office as PDP chairman. This development compelled the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, to grill the Chief Judges of six states and the Federal Capital Territory, last September. Muhammad had warned the judges to immediately stop “the nonsense,” threatening that three of the judges who issued the controversial order would be made scapegoats. Your job as Heads of Court is a sacred one, therefore, includes you vicariously taking the sins of others. There must be an end to this nonsense,” a statement by the National Judicial Council had quoted the CJN as saying. In a statement on Thursday by Soji Oye, NJC’s Director of Information, “The National Judicial Council rose from its two days meeting held on 14 and 15 December 2021, with a resolution to bar the three judges of courts of concurrent jurisdiction who granted conflicting ex parte orders in matters with same parties and subject matter from promotion to higher bench for a period ranging from two to five years whenever they are due. Even though there was no written petition, allegations of corruption or impropriety against the subject judges.” The NJC also approved the appointment of 63 judges for 16 states. Nine of the appointees are heads of court.

New data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission released Thursday, showed that 157,758 end-use customers’ meters were installed in the fourth quarter of 2020, an increase of 20.5 percent, compared to 125,311 meters recorded in Q3 2020. According to the commission, in its Q4 2020 Report, the improvement is attributed to the ability of NERC to eliminate ‘the bottlenecks hitherto hampering the deployment of meters under the Mass Metering Programme, MAP scheme and subsequent introduction and deployment of meters under National Mass Metering Programme. In the quarter under review, 121,609 and 36,149 new meters were installed under MAP and NMMP respectively. Notwithstanding the additional meters installed during 2020/Q4, the huge metering gap for end-use customers is still a key challenge in the industry. The records of the Commission indicate that, of the 10,733,509 registered energy customers as at 31 December 2020, only 4,053,043 (37.76 percent) have been metered. Therefore, 62.24 percent of the registered electricity customers are still on estimated billing which has contributed to customer apathy towards payment for electricity bills. A review of the customer population data indicates that only Ibadan and Port Harcourt DisCos recorded progress in the metering rate of their electricity customers as of 31 December 2020, as compared to 30 September 2020. During the fourth quarter of 2020, the eleven (11) DisCos received 230,497 complaints from their customers, indicating 5.26 percent more complaints than those received in the third quarter of 2020. In total, the DisCos attended 215,940 complaints representing an increase of 5.41 percentage points from the preceding quarter. The report shows that Ibadan, followed by Benin DisCo, had the lowest customers’ complaints resolution rates based on the proportion of complaints not addressed in the fourth quarter of 2020.”

Eight days before Libyans were meant to cast presidential votes, there is utter confusion over the fate of an election that has not yet been formally delayed but that even an electoral official now says will be impossible to hold on time. The planned 24 December vote, along with a parallel election for a new parliament, was meant to help end Libya’s past decade of chaos by installing a political leadership with national legitimacy after years of factional division. However, the process has been dogged since the start by bitter disputes over the election’s legal basis and fundamental rules, including over the eligibility of deeply divisive front-runners, that have never been resolved. On Saturday the electoral commission said it would not announce the final list of eligible candidates, drawn from the 98 who registered, until after legal discussions with the judiciary and parliament. Amid continued arguments and fears for electoral integrity after major security incidents, a member of the elections commission on Thursday told Al Jazeera that a 24 December vote was no longer possible. Rival candidates and political factions have been exchanging recriminations, accusing each other of trying to block or manipulate the electoral process for their own advantage. International powers pushing for elections along with the U.N. have maintained their stance that polls must go ahead but this week stopped referring to the planned date in public statements. Over recent weeks very large numbers of Libyans have collected their ballot cards and thousands have registered to be parliamentary candidates, apparently signifying widespread popular support for an election. Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has had no political stability and in 2014 the country split between warring eastern and western factions. On Wednesday night, an armed force surrounded government buildings in Tripoli, apparently in response to a decision to replace a senior military official, but there was no fighting and a security source said the situation was being resolved. In the southern city of Sebha, there were fierce clashes early this week between groups aligned with rival factions. Last month the electoral commission said fighters had raided voting centres, stealing ballot cards.