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CSNAC Advises Senate To Back Off CBN's Negotiations With MTN

14 November 2018 - 11:39am


The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), a coalition of more than 150 anti-corruption organisations, has called on the Senate "not to meddle in the ongoing negotiation between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and MTN Communications Limited".

A statement issued on Wednesday by Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman of CSNAC, urged the lawmakers to focus on their duties and "operate within its legisative functions".

According to the statement, "CSNAC had on the 11th September, 2018 requested that the EFCC investigate the alleged illegal repatriation of export revenues by MTN Communications Limited and her collaborators".

Olanrewaju noted that the coalition's request for investigation "followed the Senate’s reported adoption of a resolution largely exonerating MTN of an alleged illegal repatriation of $14 billion out of the country".

The statement continued: "The Senate had, through a motion raised on the floor and subsequent investigations and public hearing, resolved on November 8, 2017 in favour of MTN and largely condemned the Central Bank of Nigeria and its officials directly connected with the transactions at the material point in time. Professional analysis by CBN of documents and submissions from the commercial banks and MTN affirmed infractions in the tune of over $10billion. Whereas, there has been pressure on the CBN, the Attorney General of the Federation and President Buhari, from within and outside the country to reverse the sanction, the latest attempt of the Senate to act within its constitutional mandate is suspect.

"CSNAC, whose primary mandate is the enthronement of transparency, accountability, probity and total commitment to the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria chose to approach the EFCC, a neutral party, with the said request with a view to ensuring that the matter is not swept under the carpet with the meddling of the Senate and certain Senators through an ill-intended resolution exonerating MTN.

"However, we are aware following a report in the Nation Newspaper dated 14th November, 2018 that the Senate is still questioning and seeking to play the role of a meddlesome interloper in the current negotiation progress between CBN and MTN on possible means of payment and possible legally permissible reduction of the original fine. The wild allegation of reduction to 10% is not enough justification for Senators, who originally gave a clean bill of health to MTN, to get a seat at the negotiation table. 

"We therefore call on the Senate to operate within its legislative functions and desist from meddling in issues exclusively within the constitutional role of regulatory agencies. The Senate owe Nigerians unreserved apology for its initial report and declaration that seek to deprive the country of over $10billion. The current unsolicited and unwarranted intervention and role demanded by the Senate is not only unconstitutional, as the issue falls outside its constitutional powers as a legislative arm of government, it is immoral. 

"We thus warn the Senate that Civil Society is keenly watching its role in the impasse and will not hesitate to take necessary actions under Nigerian laws to ensure that it does not thwart the effective implementation of laws by its meddlesome acts of compromise."

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The Origin And Current State Of International School Ibadan's Hijab Crisis

14 November 2018 - 11:22am

In a tense meeting that involved parents, teachers and the management of the International School, Ibadan, parents of the school have met to discuss the hijab issue that has led to students staying at home since Monday.

The meeting held on Tuesday at the International School, Ibadan's cafeteria, beginning from 12noon.

ISI is owned by the University of Ibadan and controlled by the Court of Governor, which consists of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) of the University as the Chairman, the Principal of the school, the PTA Chairman, and a representative of the PTA.

The Meeting

The Chairman of the occasion, Barrister Kazeem Olaniyan, began by clearing the air, saying the school was not on lock down. Rather, he said, “the teachers only decided not to go to class until the resolution of the PTA meeting is passed".

After this, he opened the floor for the parents to react.

When a parent, Mrs Eniola Adeyemo, rose to speak, she questioned why hijab should be a choice. She enthused that if it should be a choice, “then other religious beliefs should be considered”.

This was quickly backed by a large number of the parents, majority of whom are Christians.

Just then, a lecturer of the university and a parent, Dr Ogunleye, rose to speak. He called for the reinstatment of the school’s dressing status quo.

“As much as there are many good things hijab wants to teach the girl child, other religions too have something good to teach the girl child,” he said, much to the nod of some parents. “That should be separated. The issue of hijab should not come in here. Let’s maintain the status quo."

In quick succession, Dr Eniola Badmus, also a parent, called for return to the status quo. "Separation on the basis of religion should stop," she said.

Another parent opined that when religious beliefs are to be considered in acquisition of education, then parents should strive to enroll their wards in Christian or Muslim schools.

This opinion was shared by a host of other parents.

In his turn to speak, Dr Taofeek Yekini, also parent and a lecturer, spoke in favour of the party calling for the use of hijab. In a twist of event, parents who belong to the anti-hijab party shouted him down.

“No. No. No,” they chorused. “Sit down. No. Sit down,” some said jointly.

“You can’t shout me down,” Mr Yekini stormed back. “I will say what I have to say.” He accused the audience of bias for the Christians as against the Muslims. Minutes later, the chorus went low; then he continued.

“When it is about issue of right, I’m the one that knows what my right is,” he began again. “It is about consensus, not about majority. I want us to be tolerant.”

Again, he received backlash from the parents seated.

Another parent, who identified himself as Prince Morohunfolu Adedoyin, said: “There are more salient issues we should face.

“Religion cannot be forced down the throat of ISI. No one in the world can anyone to that. The dose of dialogue should be adopted. The use of enforcement must stop with immediate effect.”

When another parent advised that the issue should be taken to court same way it has been done in other states, a huge round of murmur rent the air. “No. No. No. We don’t want,” they said. “Good luck to you,” he responded.

At the point Mr Abdurrahman Balogun, a signatory to the letter announcing the demand for the use hijab in the school, requested to speak for a longer time; his request was met by vehement rejection from a group of agitated parents.

The letter in question was written to the Principal of the school, Mrs Phebean Olowe, by the Muslim Parents’ Forum.

A parent blamed the separation that occurs in the school. The school is reported to split its students into Class A or B on the basis of religion. The parent called for an end to this.

“The issue of separation of Muslims and Christians should stop. It is as good as segregating the so-called children. When it is time for IRS and CRS, they can be splitted," he said. "My son is in JSS 1. I have a six-year contract with the school. If you want to change it, my six years must first be completed.”

Mrs Rasheedah spoke next. She stressed the fact if ISI is a secular school, there should be a stop to having fellowship in the school and transporting Muslim students to Jumat ground on Friday must stop.

Tayo Lamidi, another parent, took his turn to speak by explaining that the clamour for hijab is not forced on everyone. It is only for those who take it as a choice, he said.

Many more comments followed. In closing, the Chairman then informed the audience that the Governing Board would meet on Wednesday. There, he said, the resolution of the PTA meeting would be tabled. In the board rests the final decision on the issue.

The meeting ended 2:45pm.

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Expressing his dissatisfaction with the demand of the Muslim Parents’ Forum on allowance of hijab, a high Chief Priest of Ifa simply known as ‘Baba Awosanmi’ said religious expressions should be exhibited only at home and not to be mixed up with school education.

“When I heard it yesterday, I couldn’t even sleep," he said.

"I was like, what is happening? Why should religion be brought into school education? If you are good about religion, go back home and train your child about your religion.

“One of my children can chant Ifa in all the verses. They can chant Ifa but I brought them here for success; not for some religious crisis. Two years, Ifatunmise was putting on the traditional waist-bead; it was cut it off because the Principal and other authority said it was not permitted. Suddenly yesterday, I heard they should be wearing hijab, distracting the attention of who? The children. What is it about religion?”

On the other hand, a member of the Muslim Parents’ Forum, who asked not to be named, expressed that sentiments and religious bias should not come into play in handling the matter.

“They said this school belongs to a private entity, who are those private entities? he asked. “It should be stated clearly and simple. We should know."

She added: “Secondly, they are religiously biased. If they were not biased, why do they have separate classes for Muslims and Christians in the school? They are trying to discourage tolerance among the students in the school and this attitude will aggravate up. So that is what we are saying, we should try to harmonise the children and let them love one another.

“There are no families in this western part that do not have both Muslims and Christians. It is not possible. We should try to encourage love among ourselves and be objective in our dealings. If the children want to wear Hijab, tell them why they should not wear it. We should be objective. They are putting sentiments into this."

On perceived bias at the meeting, she said: "Wwhenever a Muslim tried to talk, the shouted him down. When the Chairman (Muslim Parents’ Forum) wanted to talk, they shut him up, then he left.”

Responding to an inquiry about security fears looming in the school during the crisis, the Chairman of the occasion explained that “this crisis is being fomented by a group of people, and a group of people must be saddled with the responsibility to resolve that crisis".

"I’m glad that I’m part of those who are being used by God to resolve the issue,” he said.

However, he called on Muslim parents to exercise patience and focus on fostering love and peace.

“I only want to implore my Muslim brothers and sisters to take things easy, there was no crisis before the mosque was built," he said.

"In the school presently, there is no church and there is a mosque. There was no crisis when our Muslim brothers and sisters and the entire school adopted the policy of closing the school at 1 pm on Fridays to allow our children to go to mosque.

“We didn’t need to shout to high heavens to get this. There was no crisis when the school provided special meal (Sawm) for our fasting children during Ramadan. When we wanted to introduce Arabic and Islamic Studies, there was no crisis; in fact, the Muslim Community, University of Ibadan paid the salary of the Arabic and Islamic Studies teachers for several years before they were adopted into the regular staff of the school.

“We didn’t they fight for all these things. Why hijab, which is not part of the five injunctions of Islam? We have the belief in Almighty Allah; Hajj, fast during month of Ramadan. We appeal to our aggrieved Muslim brothers and sisters to sheath their swords; they should keep their peace."

Genesis Of The Issue

On Monday, November 12, 2018, some parents converged on the car park of ISI to distribute hijabs to their wards; and while they were still present, the Principal of the school, Mrs. Phebean Olowe, directed that the assembly be cancelled and classrooms locked due to the unusual occurrence. She said it negates the section of the school’s constitution that guides dressing.

It was gathered that, three days earlier, on November 9, the Principal’s office received a letter from some parents under the aegis of International School Muslim Parents’ Forum informing her of the Forum’s resolution to allow their daughters commence the wearing of hijabs. The letter was signed by Mr Abdulrahman Balogun, Chairman, and Balikis Badiru, Secretary.

The Forum argued that Hijab wearing is a fundamental part of the Islam, it is permitted by the Nigerian constitution, and the school’s constitution is subject to the nation’s. They also opined that hijab does not affect other students.

The following day, aggrieved parents were summoned for a closed-door meeting with the Court of Governors headed by Professor Abideen Aderinto, the Vice Chancellor (Academics). At the meeting, they were advised against enforcing their resolution till the conclusion of their dialogue.

However, it was shocking that the forum decided to enforce their resolution on Monday. Professor Aderinto expressed shock at this development, saying: “The Muslim and Christian students have a place of worship in the school. Whoever desires to change the rules should go through the process.”

He stated that since the establishment of the school in 1963, she had not experienced any religious crisis. She also appealed to the forum to stop their actions and allow peace reign in the school.

Balogun, who spoke for the Muslim Parents’ Forum, expressed surprise that the school was shut because some girls wore hijabs. He argued that the use of hijab is now a global phenomenon and that some brilliant female students have refused to come to ISI because of the perceived ‘no hijab’ doctrine. He reiterated that the forum would continue their agitation until their daughters are allowed to wear hijabs.

The Parents’ Teachers’ Association (PTA) Chairman, Mr Kazeem Olaniyan, a Senior Lecturer in Faculty of Law, said at the PTA emergency meeting: "The association was uninformed of the enforcement of the Forum’s resolution.”

He reiterated the need for dialogue for any resolution to be passed, saying several actions were made to ease the practice of Islam by the management, without any crisis. Among them: the construction of a mosque, end of lectures by 1pm on Fridays, transportation to Jumaah, special meal during Ramadan and so on.

International School Ibadan (ISI) was established in 1963 and is a privately-owned property of the University of Ibadan. All decisions concerning its operations are governed by the Court of Governors.

Resolutions Of The Meeting

Concentration of the school, staff and students should be on how to improve the quality of education

The rules of the school should be enforced

Class allocation of students should not be done in a way to segregate the students

The school should stand firm on its principle

The school should restate the dress code and sample of a sown uniform in a newsletter and emphasize sanctions

That the authority should maintain status quo

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Group Petitions ICPC, Demands Oshiomhole's Sack For 'Corruption'

14 November 2018 - 10:35am


A group, the Coalition of New Nigeria (CNN), has submitted a petition to the headquarters of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in Abuja, asking President  Muhammadu Buhari to sack Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), over allegations of corruption.

Stanley Onukwufor led the group during the protest, stating that they were at the ICPC headquarters to submit the petition against Oshiomhole, regarding his offences as the APC National Chairman.

In her response, spokesperson of the Commission, Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa, said the petition would get the necessary attention.

Okoduwa further encouraged the protesters to report any act of corruption and other related offences to the ICPC, either in writing or through mail addresses.

She also stressed that all petitions would be given due official attention. 

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Lack Of Oxygen At Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta Results To Death Of Patient

14 November 2018 - 10:30am


A Nigerian identified as Emmanuel Okoli has died due to the unavailability of oxygen cylinders at the Federal Medical Centre at Idi-Aba in Abeokuta, capital of Ogun State, SaharaReporters has learnt.

A relative, who spoke with our correspondent, revealed that the deceased was gasping for breath barely 24 hours after he was admitted at the hospital.

The family member lamented that the man died because there was no oxygen cylinder to keep him alive.

“The oxygen finished. The nurses noticed but they couldn’t do anything to save him," he said. "They said there was no oxygen on ground. He was gasping for air till he died."

Moved to tears by the death of Okoli, the family member lamented the deplorable state of government-owned health centres in the country.

“He still would have been alive but the Federal Medical Centre didn’t have enough oxygen to keep him alive. It’s almost a crime to be sick in this country," he said.

A nurse at the Federal Medical Centre admitted that Okoli died due to the fault of the hospital, noting that the hospital usually finds itself in such situations and staff on duty have had to resort to attending to patients, depending on how critical the medical situation is.

When SaharaReporters visited the Federal Medical Centre a day after the the incident that led to Okoli's death, one of the workers at the hospital affirmed that the hospital lacked the necessary facilities.

In a short interaction with a SaharaReporters correspondent who embarked on an undercover visit to the hospital, the nurse, pleaded with our correspondent to appeal to the government to provide needed facilities in the hospital.

“Help us talk to the Federal Government," she begged. "There should be a central oxygen source as we’re not supposed to be moving around with cylinder."

"Is that how oxygen finishes around here?" SaharaReporters asked. 

"Yes it finished," she said. "But I have checked; there’s really no emergency or whatever.

The nurse also confirmed the death of the patience, saying: "Yes, we lost a patient yesterday. The oxygen finished but once they check the oxygen circulation, if it’s not dropping or something (even if the worse comes to worst), when we look at the patient with the most critical condition, he/she gets the oxygen cylinder. Help us talk to the Federal Government. There should be a central oxygen source and we’re not supposed to be moving around with the cylinder. We're supposed to just have a tube and get oxygen from a central source."

Reminded that the patient could still have been alive was there oxygen, the nurse said: "God has written it [that he’ll die].

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ICPC Set To Arraign 'Sex-For-Marks' Former OAU Professor In Osogbo

14 November 2018 - 10:13am



The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is set to arraign a former lecturer of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Professor Richard Iyiola Akindele, at the Federal High Court, Osogbo, for allegedly demanding sex from one of his students, Ms. Monica Osagie, in order to upgrade her academic result from fail to pass.

According to a statement by the anti-graft commission on Wednesday, Professor Akindele will be docked on Monday, November 19, 2018, on a three-count charge bothering on "using his position as a lecturer in the Department of Management and Accounting to demand for sexual benefit from a student and fraudulently upgrade her result in Research Method course which she supposedly failed in 2017".

His action is contrary to Sections 8 (1) (a) (ii), and 18 (d) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and are punishable under the same sections.

One of the counts read: “That you, Professor Akindele, on or about the 16th day of September, 2017 at Ile-Ife did corruptly ask for sexual benefits for yourself from Ms. Monica Osagie on account of favour to be afterwards shown to her by you in the discharge of your official duties as a lecturer in the Department of Management and Accounting, Obafemi Awolowo University, to wit; altering her academic grades in the course with code MBA 632- Research Method from fail to pass; and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 8(1)(a)(ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

The 57-year-old professor has asked for plea-bargain, having admitted guilt. He also cited ill-health as a factor that may make him unable to stand the rigours of prison life, notifying the Commission through his lawyer, Omotayo Alade-Fawole.

He pleaded that his prayers for plea-bargain be considered, more so as he was already serving punishment for his offence having been sacked by the university.

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JUST IN: Atiku Arrives In Enugu To Discuss Peter Obi With Ohaneze Ndigbo

14 November 2018 - 10:10am

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is currently in Enugu, capital of Enugu State, to perfect the acceptance of Peter Obi, his running mate, by south-east leaders.

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Governor of Enugu State, was one of four south-eastern governors who protested after Atiku named Obi his running mate in October, saying they were not consulted. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Willie Obiano of Anambra and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia are the other three governors who disagreed with Obi’s choice.

However, as reported by SaharaReporters, Atiku made it clear that replacing the former Anambra State Governor as his running mate was not an option at all. See Also Exclusive EXCLUSIVE: Replacing Peter Obi As Running Mate ‘Not An Option' For Atiku 0 Comments 1 Month Ago

SaharaReporters understands the matter has since been “resolved to a large extent” in the absence of Atiku, who travelled to the UK after clinching the PDP presidential primary ticket.

“Still he wants to make sure he takes nothing for granted,” one of his campaign team members told SaharaReporters on Wednesday.

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Atiku Offers Buhari's Team Free Crash Campaign Course For Two Weeks

14 November 2018 - 8:15am


 

The Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation has offered the spokesman of the Muhammadu Buhari campaign team a free two-week crash course on how to run an "issue-based campaign that is guided by civility and refined language".

A statement issued by Atiku's team on Wednesday said the offer was in the light of conflicting statements by the President's campaign office.

"Just last week, our attention was drawn to a statement by the All Progressives Congress falsely accusing the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party of attempting to smuggle in large sums of money into the nation for the purpose of funding his campaign," read the statement.

"In the said statement from November 5, 2018, the APC called for security agents to be on the watch to prevent the imaginary ‘illicit cash’ from entering Nigeria. Thus, we are surprised that the same APC which made that false allegation has made a 180-degree turn by releasing a new statement contradicting their earlier statement and alleging that the former Vice President is broke.

"In their statement, they contend that ‘Atiku Abubakar is at a crossroads on how to source funds for the 2019 electioneering campaign'. Our response is to urge the APC to make up its mind on which lie it wants to tell the Nigerian people and then stick to that lie. As a party in power, there ought to be more stability in the APC at least to give the public and the international community some assurance that the party is not imploding. No wonder there is a lot of policy flip flop under the APC administration!

"We know that the APC is desperate to distract attention from the recent indictment of Vice President Osinbajo by the House of Representatives for Grand corruption and the interrogation of their chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, by the Department of State Security on charges of collecting huge bribes to influence party primaries. Given the sordid state of things in the APC and its imminent implosion over money politics, we are not surprised that the APC is throwing wild allegations at former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the hope that something will stick.

"Our advice to the APC is that they should send their spokesman to the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation for a two weeks crash course on how to run an issue-based campaign that is guided by civility and refined language.

"While the APC is throwing about baseless accusations, our candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is set to launch tangible policies that will Get Nigeria Working Again in the next week. Our campaign is focused on addressing the concerns and the welfare of Nigerians by Atikulating plans to move Nigerians out of poverty. It is obvious that the APC is badly in need of such tutoring. We also sympathize with Chairman Oshiomhole on his ordeal and assure him that if he is finding the APC too hot for him, he may want to throw in the towel and join the large number of APC chieftains who have washed their hands off the party and its hydra-headed problems."

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Sokoto Deputy Governor Resigns — So He Can Run For Governor Against Tambuwal

14 November 2018 - 6:57am


Ahmad Aliyu, Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, has tendered his resignation.

Aliyu's resignation letter was read to the lawmakers at the state House of Assembly plenary session on Wednesday.

The letter, dated November 13, 2018, read: “With gratitude to Allah who granted me the opportunity to serve my state, I wish to humbly inform the Assembly of my resignation as deputy governor with effect from November 13, 2018.

“I, therefore, wish to extend my sincere appreciation to Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Assembly members and the entire people of Sokoto State for the support accorded me during my service.”

Meanwhile, Aliyu's emergence as the APC governorship candidate is expected to see him contest against the current Governor of the state, Aminu Tambuwal, who is seeking a second term on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election.

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South East, Police And Cost Of Living By Emmanuel Onwubiko

14 November 2018 - 6:49am


For a week, yours faithfully traversed the entire South Eastern states of Nigeria during a private visit to my Countryside.

South East of Nigeria is home to Igbo Nigeria’s strategic member of the national tripod just as others are Yoruba and Hausa.

During my visit to my home, yours faithfully came face to face with systematic neglect of national infrastructures of roads. It is no longer news that of the entire Country, South East suffers from serious infrastructure deficits. There are a thousand and one causative factors for this deteriorated state of infrastructures particularly with those services and infrastructures that should of necessity be built by the national government. One of the most disturbing causes is systemic failure of the central government to rebuild the devastated assets belonging to both the individuals and the Eastern region soon after the thirty months fratricidal civil war. The next most important cause is corruption on the part of the political representatives of the South East to vigorously canvass and deliver quality projects for their people over the years. This state of dysfunctionality is noticed majorly on the roads infrastructure.

The long stretch of federal Highway linking Enugu, Ebonyi Abia and Okigwe in Imo state has virtually collapsed.

The expansive two lanes of the usually boisterous and very busy road has become a shadow of itself following the total collapse of one of the lanes.

I observed regrettably that all the vehicular movements flowing in from all parts of Nigeria heading towards Abia from Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi and Rivers state are now forced to rely on the only lane that has yet to collapse totally.

To understand the enormity of the rot and consequential dysfunctionality, a traveller only needs to get to Lokpanta in Abia state whereby the northern population of cow sellers live to witness the epochal decay of the road infrastructure coupled with the stinking environment made up of decrepit structures and wooden huts whereby hundreds of Nigerian citizens of Northern extraction live and transact their daily businesses with most of them selling foods stuffs and other edibles along the only portion of the lane that hundreds of vehicles ply on daily basis. Lokpanta along the Enugu/Okigwe federal Highway is not only an eyesore but is an epidemic waiting to implode.

To make matters worst, on reaching Lokpanta in Abia state, on Friday last week, yours faithfully noticed the ubiquitous presence of heavy duty trucks from such big companies like Dangote cements and many big trailers ferrying petroleum products which were deliberately but strategically parked at the middle of the only functional lane out of the two lanes of that Enugu – Okigwe Federal Highway. Again the hundreds of vehicles plying that road go through untold pains just to go part that particularly dangerously and unhealthy spots.

As if the decay you noticed about strategic national road infrastructure in the South East is limited to the Enugu – Okigwe highway, the moment you veer off the highway from Okigwe and you drive towards Owerri, what confronts your sights is perhaps the most criminally neglected national road infrastructure of all times. I have never seen such criminality on the part of government targeting the ordinary populace who are deliberately subjected to traumatic experiences just to commute through that Okigwe to Owerri highway.

That extremely narrow one lane Federal Highway leading from Okigwe to the Imo state capital has all but collapsed making movement from Okigwe to Owerri a spectacle in hazardous travel. I have never in my entire life seen such a scenario whereby the central government sets traps with bad roads just to reduce the population of a region. This is the only possible explanation for such high level of wickedness and meanness on the part of the Federal and Imo state authorities towards the people.

This is because a traveller is then compelled to meander through Umuna junction and go through the ordeals of using the small state built road through Isiala Mbano before finding your way back to the only portion of the Okigwe – Owerri Federal Highway that is yet to collapse around Akabo town before making it to Owerri but not without swimming through several flooded areas on that same road which has been eaten up thereby forcing commuters to swim through the muddy and dirty accumulated flood water. The general picture that steers you, in the face is that you are in a war torn territory.

Perhaps, what may give you the impression that the inhabitants of most states in the South East are populations under police siege are the ubiquitous presence of gun wielding and poorly dressed police operatives in every fifty meter space in almost all the roads.

In Imo state and especially around Okwele, in Onuimo local government area, we came face to face with some badly behaved police operatives who were busy and openly demanding and receiving small bribes from all the road users and most especially those vehicles conveying foodstuffs.

Then coming from Aba to Owerri is another hard time with these bribe guzzling armed security forces. The immediate consequences of these kinds of criminal extortions by the police is the skyrocketing of cost of living generally in the South East.

Commercial drivers who are extorted daily simply transfer the financial burdens to passengers.

Business people who go to rural areas and neglected local government areas in the south East to buy freshly produced farm products are therefore forced to pay huge logistical cost which are simply transferred to the end users who are impoverished.

Unfortunately, the local government officials are not competent enough to ensure that such criminal activities of the police operatives do not happen in their areas of jurisdiction.

The local government areas are shadows of what a dynamic and vibrant grassroots administration should be.

The observation made by the former Nigerian president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on the issue of lack of local council autonomy is factual.

But for eight years that he served as president, he failed to deliver local council autonomy. His failure cannot invalidate the accuracy of his postulation in any way.

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo accused Governors of routinely stealing the money meant for the Local Governments.

My nearly one week tour of the South East of Nigeria revealed the factuality of this top level accusation against state governors vis-a-vis the broad daylight robbery of funds meant for the development of local council areas.

Former President Obasanjo said the theft by governors of council fund has rendered the Local government areas incapable of performing even the basic functions for their people.

Making more revelation, Obasanjo said that the governors pilfer Local Governments’ funds through the nebulous “joint account.”

He said that this was why the governors have remained antagonistic to the agitation for Local Government (LG) autonomy.

Obasanjo stated this when members of a Non-Governmental Organization, Friends of Democracy, FoD, visited him at his new residence within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the state capital.

The groups were at the home of the ex-President to seek his support for the Local Government Autonomy Bill which had been passed by the National Assembly.

The bill still requires the approval of not less than 24 State Houses of Assembly to sail through successfully.

“When in 1976, we brought in Local Government Reforms, it was meant to be a third tier of the government and not meant to be subjected to the whims and caprices of any other government.

“Just the same way that the state government is autonomous from the Federal Government.

“Local Government is meant to be autonomous from the State Government, but from what we know, by design, most states have incapacitated the Local Governments.

“They have virtually stolen the Local Governments’ money in what they called Joint Account. They were to contribute 10 percent but they never contributed anything.

“So, what we have across the country are Local Government Areas that have functions, but cannot perform the functions.

“They have staff but most of them cannot pay the staff, and we keep getting excuses upon excuses.

“And I see no reason if the Federal Government allows the states to enjoy their autonomy except in the case of state of emergency.

“The Bill passed by the National Assembly which requires 24 State Houses of Assembly and like I am told only 9 States have signed it.

“I am proud of those states because they are what you will call progressive states that really believe in democracy.

“My own state (Ogun) is one of them. I will say kudos to Ogun State. In the South-South, only Bayelsa and Cross River States have signed it.

“Kudos to those two states. In the North-East, it’s only Bauchi. In the North-West, it’s only Sokoto. In the North-Central, we have four states, Kwara, Niger, Plateau and Benue. I will say kudos to the executives and the legislature of those states.

“But we must say those state executives and the legislatures that have prevented the bill from being passed, they must be taken as the enemy of the people and they should be treated as such.

“Because if you enjoy autonomy from the Federal Government why don’t you want Local Government to enjoy autonomy?

“Again, I will say leadership of NLC and NULGE who have always fought for the interest of the people should know that the interest of the people at the local government will be best served if the LG has autonomy which is meant that they should have.”

The above position is so true when you travel round most parts of the South East of Nigeria as I did and what you see are gun wielding police operatives who operate freely and are engaged in all sorts of criminalities. These criminal activities of the police escalates the cost of living in the South East even when you link those evils up with the views of experts regarding factors that affect cost of living. Speaking about cost of food which is the significant commercial activities of substantial percentage of rural people who are farmers, there are five factors that affect the cost.

Experts say Food prices can be affected by several factors: Weather/Temperature. This first factor is basically because all crops are affected by the weather during the growing season. If the growing season is too wet, too dry, or too cold, or too hot, crops cannot thrive. A scarcity or shortage of a crop may mean it will cost more. When a good growing season results in a surplus, food prices may go down.

Secondly, like weather, factors such as pest damage and disease can destroy a crop or affect livestock production.

Importantly, the third key factor is transportation because when the price of oil and gas are higher, it costs more to transport food through the steps from farm to plate (e.g. to processing facility, to the store). This can impact the price of food. But what these experts never anticipated could shoot up cost of transportation of persons, goods and services are the open criminal tendencies of forcing road users on gun points by the armed security forces to pay bribe from one point to the next. The South East of Nigeria is witnessing a prolonged social epidemic of police extortion and harassment of road users even within manor city centers.

Again, the bribe seeking police also creates a high cost of labour because those who provide the different kinds of services that commute daily to and from their places of work are subjected to daily doses of extortion and harassment by the armed police. Again, it is factual that agri-food system requires a lot of people to make it work (farmers, packers, processors, retailers, etc.). Many job opportunities exist in this system. If the cost of labour goes up (e.g. minimum wage is increased) food prices may increase. Other causes as i had mentioned earlier is the collapse of the local government administration and this is more severe in the South East of Nigeria.

Political and economic situations can influence the price of food, either up or down says experts. The South East of Nigeria is severely afflicted by the twin evils of unemployment and high cost of living. The National Bureau of statistics has even officially confirmed that the major problems in the country currently are unemployment and high cost of living. In the South East of Nigeria i can authoritatively affirm that the criminal activities of the armed security forces and mostly the operatives of the Nigeria Police force is the single most significant cause of extremely high cost of living even when it is evidently clear that of all the zones of the Country, the South East of Nigeria suffers from deliberate denial of strategic national institutions that are known for the significant percentage of white collar jobs they create wherever they are located. Apart from police stations and prisons, and few educational and health institutions owned by the central government, the South East of Nigeria which is a principal producer of crude oil resources does not have a single refinery. The North West has no single drop of crude oil but it has the biggest refinery and the current administration has plans to built a multi-billion dollar refinery in Katsina. The lack of national institutions in the South East of Nigeria means that unemployment is high and the activities of the drive seeking police operatives have heightened the cost of living. These are my observations. However, the National Bureau of statistics has affirmed that high cost of living and unemployment are key existential constraints confronting most Nigerians.

According to the bureau, most Nigerians believe that if the government can tackle the high rate of joblessness across the country, the other problems will be significantly reduced.

Presenting key findings from the National Corruption Survey, entitled: ‘Corruption in Nigeria’, which was conducted by the bureau in conjunction with other agencies of government, at a corruption summit organized by Youth Alive Foundation in Abuja few weeks back the Director, Real Sector and Household Statistics, NBS, Isiaka Olanrewaju, stated that surprisingly, corruption did not emerge as the country’s major problem.

He said after the bureau conducted a survey on the percentage of Nigeria’s population who considered selected issues that were the most important problems affecting the country, it was discovered that unemployment was number one.

Olanrewaju noted, “Apart from talking about the issue of bribery and corruption, we also had peoples’ opinion on what they think is the major problem in Nigeria. And when we arranged them in order of mention, unemployment emerged as number one.

“This is followed by high cost of living, and corruption came third.”

Leaders and stakeholders from the South East of Nigeria must focus on resolving these issues even as the central government must call the grossly unprofessional police operatives to order before a social upheavals are caused by these suffocating and oppressive criminal tendencies. Enough is enough.

 

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of Human rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs@ www.huriwa@blogspot.com; www.huriwanigeria.com; www.thenigerianinsidernews.com.

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'Obasanjo, T.Y. Danjuma Should Be Barred From Entering US, UK Over Odi/Zaki-Biam Massacres'

14 November 2018 - 6:28am


A group, Policing Nigeria Awarenes Initiative (PNAI), has called on the United States of America and United Kingdom to restrict former President Olusegun Obasanjo and General T.Y. Danjuma, ex-Minister of Defence from entry into their countries as consequences for their alleged involvement in mass killings and detention of innocent Nigerians in Zaki Biam, Benue State and Odi area of Bayelsa during their administration.

The group made the call in a letter obtained by SaharaReporters, addressed to the US and UK embassies.

In the letter, signed by Egbe Akparakwu, Executive Director of PNAI, the group said Nigerians experienced "arbitrary detention and killing" under the Obasanjo administration, with Danjuma as Minister of Defence. 

Akparakwu specifically noted that Richard Odunsanya, a former associate of Obasanjo, alleged that the former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT) was in charge of the killer squad that was formed under the military regime of late General Sani Abacha.

The letter read: "As a flashback, during the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo in October 2001, the then Minister of Defence, T.Y. Danjuma, ordered the military invasion of a community in Benue State, where thousands of people were killed and burnt beyond recognition. These innocent persons, including women and children, no doubt share the same faith with TY Danjuma. 

“In 1999, over 2,500 civilians were killed by the military under T.Y. Danjuma in Odi town in Bayelsa State. Odi is another predominant Christian community in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria with a less than 1 per cent of the people as Muslims.

“In addition, under Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria witnessed an unprecedented government-masterminded political killings. This much was confirmed by a close associate who worked closely with him. 

“Among those who were politically murdered during Obasanjo's administration include, the former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, and South-South politicians, Chief Harry Marshall, Chief A.K. Dikibo, a former Senatorial candidate of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, in Imo State, Uche Orji, Arc Layi Balogun, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN, Prof Chimere Ikoku, former Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, in Anambra State, Chief Barnabas Igwe and his wife, Chief Victor Nwankwo of Fourth Dimension Publishers and Chief Funso Williams. 

"All these Nigerians are people that share the same religious faith with both Obasanjo and T.Y. Danjuma yet were killed under circumstances that are quite familiar to the two men. 

"It is also necessary for emphasis to be made that under Obasanjo’s civilian rule, the massacres at Odi in Bayelsa State and Zaki Biam in Benue State where women and children were slaughtered, there has been no accountability. No one has been charged for this mass murder of innocent people despite countless petitions so far submitted by various groups and organisations calling for justice.

“There was also a huge rise in harassment and intimidation of human rights activists under the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo. Arrests, torture and in some cases, systematic killings of youth activists in the Niger Delta were rife. The arbitrary detention and subsequent torture of Comrade Sunny Ofehe, member, Coalition for the Niger Delta Campaign (CNDC), and Mr. Oladeji Odukoya, a member of the Delta Youth Development Council (DYDC), is a clear testimony of the government use of force to silence its critics. Many of these have changed in recent times to pave way for a country where democratic principles are being entrenched.

“It is also our prayer that the duo of Olusegun Obasanjo and T.Y. Danjuma that have brought sorrow and tears to countless families be made to face the full wrath of the law. 

"We implore your governments to raise these issues before the United Nations to serve as deterrent to other world leaders who abuse their office and those who might be preparing the new grounds for crimes against humanity.”

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Extraditing Diezani From The UK May Be Bad News — And Here Are Four Reasons Why

14 November 2018 - 6:12am


Former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources

The thrust of the message delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech at the Paris Peace Forum on Sunday was waging war against corruption, which has been one of the cornerstones of his administration.

In fact, he titled his presentation 'Illicit Financial Flows and Corruption: The Challenge of Global Governance'. And he listed money laundering and transfer pricing mechanisms as some of the means of moving illicit finances. He sought the cooperation of the international community in the war against corruption in Nigeria.

However, no sooner had he made the statement on the global stage than the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Ibrahim Magu announced the commission’s decision to extradite Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Petroleum Minister and first female President of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from the United Kingdom to Nigeria.

While, on the surface, it looks commendable to bring the former minister to this country to face the full wrath of the law, there are still some reasons her extradition may not satisfy the end for which it is intended.

The Same Crime, Different Treatments

While the Buhari-led administration has reiterated its determination to fight corruption to the point of triteness, it is still cheering news for some people when the president announces, afresh, his resolve to sanitize the country by fighting corruption. It becomes the talk of the town especially when names are mentioned concerning the crimes committed. However, it will not be uncharitable with the ample and palpable evidence on the ground to say the Buhari administration has been found wanting in his administering of justice. The administration is like a big daddy that wields a carrot and a stick at the same time, giving which it deems fit depending on the political affiliation of the supposed criminal under investigation.

A kid-glove treatment is given to you if you become a member of the political camp of the president. Once you belong to a party other than his, the kid gloves are taken off to be replaced with red-hot iron fists. We should not forget how, among others, the travails of Musiliu Obanikoro, former senator, High Commissioner, and Minister of State for Defence, travails turned to triumph once he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) the president’s political party. This happened despite his involvement in the mismanagement of the same money meant for arms procurement for which Sambo Dasuki is cooling his feet in prison and Fayose, Obanikoro’s accomplice, is embroiled in legal battle. Isn't it a no-brainer that all the charges against Diezani will be dropped should she find her way to the ruling party post-extradition?

Our Dysfunctional System

It is common knowledge that we operate a pathetically dysfunctional government in this part of the world. We have weak institutions and strong individuals who exploit our institutional weaknesses to their benefits. Diezani may be an ordinary person in the United Kingdom but once she sets foot in the country she sloughs off the status of ordinariness and dons that of a special citizen. The truth is — despite not being in the corridors of power again — Diezani belongs to the class of strong individuals with the clout to use our weak institutions to their favour. She has what it takes to pervert the course of justice.

Malami Is Not Different From Michael

We should not forget the role played by Mr Michael Kaase Aondoaka, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, to shield James Ibori, former Delta State Governor, from prosecution despite convincing dossiers of shady dealings brought against him during Yar'Adua’s administration. The current chief law officer of the country, Abubakar Malami, did not fare any better in the way he handled Abdulrasheed Maina’s case. Like Michael, Like Malami. Is this the man that will lead the prosecution against the financial firepower called Diezani or do we think the financial strength of the woman has been completely depleted? The justice system of the western world is not fool-proof, too; after all, the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former Bayelsa governor, jumped bail and escaped the long arm of justice from the United States of America. However, for every Alamiesiegha that escaped, there is an Ibori made to face the full wrath of the law.  

Our Partisan EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as it is now is not an independent body. The response of the EFCC Chairman on the bribery allegations against the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, in a recent interview, speaks volumes of the where the loyalty of the Chairman lies. Consequently, despite his desperation to get the former minister of petroleum extradited, the charges against her will be dropped once she plays her cards very well and ‘the powers that be’ instruct Magu to let her be.

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ASUU Wants Govt Funding But Doesn't Want To Be Accountable, Says Babalakin

14 November 2018 - 5:22am



Dr. Wale Babalakin, Chairman of the negotiating team with the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, has opened up on the ongoing industrial action of public universities 

Speaking as the chair of the Federal Government negotiating team, Babalakin said one of the reasons for the ongoing strike is the refusal of the lecturers to be held accountable for funds released for the development of the education sector.

“There should be no compromise about funding education. The lecturers believe N2 trillion must be spent, but where does it come from? And for every amount of money invested in education, there must be a way of measuring the effect," he said.

“In 1974/75, the University College Hospital in Ibadan was the fifth rated in the Commonwealth. So if we decide to put money into UCH, we must sit down with the leadership for Key Performance Indicators. But ASUU says no; that it is the neoliberal tendencies of Babalakin. The kind of funding we are talking about is not a bonanza. But what ASUU wants is a bonanza.”

Babalakin denied the allegation that the negotiating team had recommended a tuition of between N350,000 and N500,000 for university students, stating that "the Committee has not recommended school fees".

"We don’t have a mandate to impose school fees. As of date, we have not mentioned the issue of school fees. It is just a figment of the imagination of those who said it," he said.

"Everything we agreed on was jointly signed. The reform of the education sector must start now. Nigeria must have a sound education system. Nigeria must have a well-funded education system.”

On the issue of indigent students, Babalakin said the committee recommended the establishment of a students loan scheme and Education Bank, noting that students could obtain loans from any of the two and pay back after graduation with low interest rate.

“No Nigerian should be deprived of sound education because of his circumstances. All students must stay on campus and this must be affordable. The travails of students must stop," he said.

He also denied claims he was planning to establish a private university, which ASUU identified as the reason why he was frustrating negotiations with the lecturers.

“I have an idea of what it takes to fund a university, but I can’t afford it," Babalakin said. "I have no plans to start a private university as at now.”

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103 Nigerians Stranded In Libya Return To Lagos With 13 Infants

14 November 2018 - 4:42am


 

Less than two weeks after 141 Nigerians were repatriated from Libya, another 116 citizens of the country were returned from the war-torn North African country early on Wednesday.

The latest batch of returnees was received by officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

The stranded Nigerians were assisted back to the country by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in a chartered flight Al Buraq Airlines with flight number UZ 489.

The aircraft that brought the returnees landed at 12:40am and disembarked the repatriated at the cargo area of the Lagos Airport.

Commenting on the returnees, Mr. Segun Afolayan, the Acting Coordinator, NEMA South West Zone, said that the returnees comprised 53 females and 63 males.

Among them were 46 adult females, two female children and five female infants with 56 male adults, six male children and eight male infants.

Afolayan advised the returnees to discourage other prospective illegal migrants from engaging in the act, especially with the danger inherent in such adventure.

Afolayan stated that migration is a fundamental right of every human being, but when a man embarks on irregular journey, violating the laws of other nations by not following the regular means of migration, the country of destination may apply the nation's laws to handle such.

To end such irregular migration, the Acting Zonal Coordinator urged other Nigerians who wish to migrate to foreign countries to visit the Migrant Resource Centre opened by IOM in conjunction with the Federal Government.

"The centres are opened to all Nigerians who wish to travel outside the country. They can access detailed information on their intended country of destination," he said.

"Such information as the types of employment and educational opportunities, counselling on the right and safe routes to travel, the security level of the expected country as well as skill acquisition to whoever approach any of the centres in the country.

"These centres are created to stem the gaps of inadequate information that many Returnees have been complaining about."

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EFCC Intercepts N211million Gold Being Illegally Moved From Lagos To Dubai

14 November 2018 - 4:10am


Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have intercepted gold worth about N211 million being illegally transported through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos State.

EFCC Acting Head, Media and Publicity, Mr Tony Orilade, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

NAN quoted Orilade as saying the consignment was en route to Dubai.

He said “following intelligence reports, the operatves on November 9, 2018, uncovered the gold weighing about 35kg just at the point of departure of a suspect currently in the EFCC’s custody”.

He said that investigations were currently ongoing to unravel the accomplice behind the illegal movement of the item.

“Meanwhile, the suspect is cooperating with operatives," Orilade added.

“It will be recalled that the EFCC, also in March 2017, intercepted bags containing a total of N49 million cash being illegally transported out of the country through the Kaduna International Airport."

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Why Re-Electing Buhari & The APC In 2019 Will Be A Disaster For Nigeria By Dalo Bamshak M.

14 November 2018 - 3:37am


Looking by the skin of ones teeth at the antecedents that haul the All Progressive Party APC and the President Mohammed Buhari led administration into power in 2015, one would have an inclination to catechize and query whether or not he has lived up to the promises and commitments he made to Nigerians in his 2015 campaign manifesto.

It is however, not modish that Nigeria has, for donkey years now, been plough with corruption and unethical deportment in it's political terrain. Most commonly amongst politicians, public office holders and bureaucrats since post-independence. In an effort for a way out, Nigerians dethroned the People's Democratic Party PDP in what i called a "Protest vote" in favour of the APC in the 2015 General Election.

The Emergence of the APC and President Mohammadu Buhari, a campaign most Nigerians called "corrupt free and hope for a better future", was accompanied by a mode come and some measures of the fear of prosecution amongst corrupt politicians and other government agencies, as Buhari was perceived to be the principled, strict man of integrity, with zero tolerance for corruption he is known for.

Permit me to take you back to Buhari's commitments to Nigerians in his manifesto, in a bid to win the Presidency of Nigeria, he made clear to the public

"I Mohammadu Buhari, believes that our politics is broken. Our nation urgently needs fundamental political reforms and improvement in governance, more transparency and accountability. If you vote me, my administration will;

"Prevent the abuse and misuse of executive, legislative and other offices, through greater accountability, transparency, strict and implementable anti-corruption laws, through sanitizing the EFCC & ICPC as independent entities".

For a government built on such promises, as " strong war on corruption, Strong Economy and National security ", one would assume the country would be transformed in no time.

The Buhari administration, in May 2015, however, kicked off governance with a complete opposite of all it has promised in its manifesto, the same reason I think Nigerians voted him into office.

First, it took him a whopping 6 months to appoint his cabinet member's in what he called a "careful selection", an action that further deepened the state of our economy.

With high unemployment, exorbitant inflation rate, high-interest rate, policy conflict, high taxation and poor economic planning, the Nigerian economy plugged into recession in the second quota of 2016. Although we exited recession in 2017, the Governor of the CBN Godwin Emefiele made it known at the end of the two days meeting of the monitory policy committee in Abuja on Sept 2018 that, the economy has again started showing signs of weaknesses and may again slip into recession as the economy recorded growth rate of 1.9% and 1.5% during its first and second quarter this year. Blaming the slow down in the oil sector with strong linkage to unemployment and growth.

With little or no attention paid to the National security sector, the very much around terrorist group Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen has claimed lives of thousands of Nigerians and has displaced a vast majority from their original habitats, particularly in the Northern and Middle belt region of the country.

With the 2019 general election approaching, much fears await Nigerians.

It will be fair to say, without fear or favour, that the present administration is the worst so far in the fight for corruption and the administration of justice. Corruption cases are on the rise, with little or no steps taken to curb the exorbitant rate of embezzlement and looting of public funds and ethical violations by politicians which have had a negative impact on the economy and the people respectively. President Buhari's fight against corruption seems one-sided, the thieves seem to be on the other side of the coin, the EFCC & ICPC seems to have lost their independence, the judiciary has been pocketed. Yet, all we keep hearing is "I'm a man of Integrity". Who your integrity help?

Mr President, can you explain to Nigerians how your administration claims to be fighting corruption, while, Abdulkareem Maina, a convicted felon and a fugitive, who stole N2B meant for pensioners who have served the Nation and are at their declining ages, was reinstated and promoted to the position of a director by your Minister of Interior Alh. A. Dan Bazau under your watch.

Mr President sir, a few weeks ago, you presented Nigerian's with a "fabricated" WAEC result that has no certificate number. Your Minister of Information, Hon Lai Mohammed, publicly declared to the world how your government feeds a detainee El- ZakZaky with N3.8M in a month. Tell us Mr President, what disciplinary action has your administration taken on your Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, a SAN and a Professor of Law contravened S.80(4) of the 1999 Constitution (amended) by unilaterally pulling a sum of N5.8B from the consolidated revenue account of the Federation purportedly for emergency intervention on food in the Northeast while he was acting President in 2017.

Be that as it may be, I urge Nigerians to stay clear from any political party or Individual like the All Progressive Congress, APC, who only makes empty promises and commitments with Zero efforts whatsoever to keep such promises, and to further remind Nigerian's that Four years is a long time.

 

Dalo Bamshak Matthew

Int'l Lawyer/ Research & Policy Expert.

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EFCC Has Become A Department In APC — Ortom

14 November 2018 - 1:44am


Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom yesterday alleged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had become a department in the All Progressives Congress.

The governor also accused the anti-corruption body of being biased in its fight against corruption.

He spoke at the swearing-in ceremony for nine new commissioners who replaced those sacked in August.

Ortom said he would not succumb to any intimidation by the EFCC.

He said: “Despite intimidation from the EFCC that has become a department in APC, we are not going to be intimidated. In the past few months, civil servants working with me are being troubled for no just cause. Once you decamp from APC, EFCC comes after you. Fighting corruption should not be selective.”

He said the EFCC had been on the heels of members of a committee for the burial of the late Tor Tiv following the sum of N120 million used for “the burial and settling of the deceased family.”

The governor said:”if we do anything wrong we are ready to face the law. But we will not succumb to intimidation.”

He also said that his administration could now pay workers’ salaries as and when due because he had detached himself from godfatherism.

Ortom said since he left the APC for the Peoples’ Democratic Party, he had fared well in salary payment as he was no longer under undue “pressure” to satisfy the caprices of certain ‘men’.

“There is no godfatherism again in Benue under my watch. That is why you can see that since I detached myself from godfather, even salary I have been able to pay as at when due. I’m seeking for other ways in offsetting the remaining arrears of salaries.

“Since I left APC, I have been paying salaries. In APC, godfathers will not allow me but now I’m a free man,” he said.

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Lagos Government Gives Conditions For Use Of Hijab On School Uniforms

14 November 2018 - 1:43am



The Lagos State Government has approved the use of hijab in schools across the state.

The approval was contained in a circular dated November 13, 2018, which provided guidelines for wearing the hijab on school uniforms, pending the determination of the case in the Supreme Court.

According to the circular, students will be "allowed to wear Hijabs on school uniforms but same must be short, smart, neat and in the colour of the school uniform (skirt)".

The statement continued: "Furthermore, schools management are advised to downplay comments and disciplinary actions on the use of smart Hijabs until the final determination of the case by the Supreme Court."

Responding to the move by the state government, the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit, commended the Lagos State Government.

A press statement by Dr Saheed Ashafa, the President of the MSSN Lagos, noted that "the circular would help to stop harassment and victimisation of female Muslim students for wearing hijab".

He said: “We extol this gesture and the resoluteness of the state government in ensuring that an avoidable strife do not find ways into the peaceful atmosphere being enjoyed in Lagos State.

“We are pleased with this development because the embarrassing way and manner that our members are being victimised, harassed, punished and denied entrance into their classrooms for wearing hijab would stop. 

“We have constantly told the state government that while a case on the hijab is awaiting final verdict at the Supreme Court, no teacher has the right to punish female pupils for wearing hijab. The Appeal Court in the case clearly states that wearing hijab by students, whether within or outside the school premises, was a fundamental Human Right entrenched in the constitution. 

“It is important to notify you that we will not allow further lawlessness and flagrant disregard for rule of law to stay after this circular. The circular would also help to stop the abuse of rights, which could have degenerated into crisis or violence that may lead to the disruption of activities in schools in our dear state.

“We commend this intervention aimed at calling teachers, principals and tutor general to order. This circular approving wearing of hijab by students on their school uniform within and outside school premises, will ensure peace and order in our schools and stability in the state’s education system.”

He subsequently encouraged female Muslim students to be confident, smart and neat while putting on the hijab, just as he urged them to "remain law abiding and be good ambassadors of the religion of peace".
 

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EFCC Re-Arraigns Ex-Chief Of Air Staff Amosu For N21.4bn Fraud

14 November 2018 - 1:32am


Air Marshal Amosu being escorted by EFCC operatives

Air Marshal Amosu being escorted by EFCC operatives

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd), for an alleged fraud of N21.4 billion.

Amosu, alongside Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun and Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo, was re-arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos on a 13-count charge on Tuesday.

The trio were first arraigned in June 2016 alongside eight firms before Justice Mohammed Idris

Their re-arraignment before Justice C.J. Aneke followed the elevation of Justice Idris to the Court of Appeal. As a result of Justice Idris’ elevation, Amosu’s trial, which has lasted for more than two years in court, is starting afresh before Justice Aneke.

As the case starts afresh, the EFCC has amended the charge sheet by dropping the names of the eight firms, which were joined as defendants in the earlier charge sheet.

Prior to the re-arraignment of the defendants, in a ruling, Justice Aneke rejected the prayer by the defence counsel that that the eight firms, whose names were removed from the charge sheet, should first be discharged and acquitted before any further action.

In his ruling, Justice Aneke faulted the argument of the defence counsel and directed that the amended charges be read to Amosu, Adigun and Gbadebo. The trio pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In the first count, the EFCC alleged that the defendants conspired among themselves “to covert a total sum of N21,467,634,707.43, property of the Nigerian Air Force, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of your unlawful activities, to wit: criminal breach of trust".

The anti-graft agency alleged they diverted the N21.4bn using several firms.

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the defendants committed the offence on March 5, 2014, adding that they violated Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and were liable to be punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Justice Aneke allowed them to continue with the bail granted them in 2016 by Justice Idris. He adjourned till Wednesday for continuation of trial.

Meanwhile, the EFCC is in moves to secure a permanent forfeiture order on a sum of N2.2bn recovered from Amosu. A similar order is being sought on N190,828,978.15 recovered from Gbadebo.

The anti-graft agency filed a final forfeiture application for the funds before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the same court.

Justice Olatoregun has adjourned ruling on the application till December 3, 2018.

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$5.8bn NEMA Fraud: Osinbajo Has Questions To Answer – Reps

14 November 2018 - 1:32am


Contrary to a rebuttal from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that he did no wrongdoing in the approval of N5.8 billion for “emergency intervention of food security to the northeast” in June 2017, when he was acting president, the House of Representatives of Representatives has insisted that the number two man “may have questions to answer, as chairman of the governing board of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The House has also denied any interference with its activities by Speaker Yakubu Dogara or any principal officer in the parliament.

The Vice President had at the weekend through his spokesman, Laolu Akande denied that he indulged in any untoward actions but explained that the funds were released to prevent a looming disaster as a result of severe food shortages throughout the northeast.

But briefing the media today, chairman of the investigative committee, Hon. Ali J.C. (PDP, Gombe) submitted that being the chairman of the governing board of NEMA and approving authority at the time, Prof. Osinbajo may have questions to answer.

“There is nowhere in my report where I mentioned the Vice president or Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, but he may have questions to answer as the chairman of the governing board”, he explained.

Hon. Ali explained further that the vice president as acting president approved and directed the minister of finance and the Accountant General of the Federation to release the sum of N5.8 billion in June 2017.

He further explained that the approval for the N5.8 bn contravened the National Assembly power of approval “as the money was removed from the Eurobond” without the consent of the parliament adding that “there was no procurement, there was no due process, no contract, yet the money was released and expended”, he stated.

The lawmaker said his committee had documentary evidence to back up the violations explaining further that before arriving at their recommendations, various stakeholders were invited and given ample opportunity to tell their side of the story.

“We invited various state governments and the governors or representatives of the various governors who told us that no bag of grain was delivered to their state. so, we gathered our facts from the presentations from various states and stakeholders”, he stated.

Recall that the House had last Thursday, endorsed the report of the committee that investigated over N33 billion fraud at NEMA and consequently advised President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the director general of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaji for alleged mismanagement and embezzlement.

Although, the abridged report of the committee, which was adopted on the floor of the chambers never mentioned the vice president, reports later emerged that Osinbajo was indicted for illegal approvals.

While denying any involvement by the Office of the speaker in the investigation, Ali said “no single leader of the House directed the committee to carry out any action. I personally threatened to pull out if certain things were not done.

“I will be surprised if the speaker had any interest in what is happening in the north east. But Hon. Benjamin Wayo from Benue state who sponsored the motion did so because of the series of complaints from various quarters.

‘There was no day that neither the speaker nor any other honourable member interfered with our proceedings or compilation of our report or our recommendations”, he affirmed.

Giving details on the findings of his committee, Hon. Ali explained that they recommended that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the police should be directed to recover about N800 million demurrage from some officers of the ministry of agriculture, ministry of budget and national planning and NEMA.

He said “That based on the investigation conducted by the committee, it has been established that the federal government lost a total sum of over N33 billion as a result of mismanagement and outright embezzlement of funds occasioned by the actions or inactions of the managing director of NEMA, Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaji”.

The lawmaker noted that the committee also charged the ICPC and EFCC to recover N150m, being subsidized cost of 5000 metric tons of rice from the present DG, Engr. Maihaji “who claimed to have donated same to World Food programme (WFP) when they were ready to pay for it or import same”

“That in view of the fact that there is evidence that the balance of 5,000 metric tons claimed to have been supplied by Olam Nig. Ltd and 3 Brothers Nig. Ltd at the cost of about N1.5 billion to NEMA was not received by the states of the north east, the money should therefore be recovered from the director general, NEMA”

He said on the issue of donation of 6,779 metric tons of rice by Chinese Government for IDPs in the north east, the committee recommended that “NEMA and the federal ministry of agriculture, ministry of budget and national planning should account for it saying the rice was never received by the six states in the region.

“The committee equally asked the anti-graft agencies to further investigate the receipt and utilization of N1.6 billion for flood victims in 16 states and recover the sum of N700 million from the DG of NEMA, Engr. Maihaji.

“We also recommended that all government officials involved in the approval, processing, release and diversion of the sum of N5.8 billion for the emergency intervention of food security in the north east, which contravened the provisions of section 80 (2) and 80 (4) of the constitution, infraction of due process for procurement and loss of government revenue, flouting of the terms of the Eurobond loan are hereby indicted and the relevant security agencies should take steps to recover the money from them”

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It Will Be Strange For APC To Have ‘Graveyard’ Peace, Says Oshiomhole

14 November 2018 - 1:26am


The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, says it will be strange if the ruling party is experiencing “graveyard peace.”

He also said it was only morally right for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to resign his position as he belongs to the minority party.

Oshiomhole, who spoke yesterday during a programme on Arise Television, said the APC was prone to controversies “because it is a large party.”

Last week, the party chairman was detained by the Department of State Services (DSS) and grilled for nine hours after some governors alleged that he received bribes during the party’s primary elections across the country.

“We have finished our primaries and we have submitted names to INEC and there are internal procedures for reconciliation and we are working on them.

“We are a large governing party and it will only be strange if we are having graveyard peace. People are allowed to grumble, grumbling is allowed. We should move on and find solutions,” he said.

When asked whether the party still had plans to remove Saraki, he said: “I think it’s about morality. We just had an election in the U.S. The democrats won more members in the congress. Without much ado, the leadership of the house changed. This question didn’t have to arise. Saraki belongs to a minority party as it stands today in the senate. The truth about democracy is that it’s a game of numbers. It’s unacceptable that minority provides leadership over majority.”

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the APC that the name of an aspirant who won a primary election in Katsina State be recognized, has allegedly been shunned by Oshiomhole.

The name of the aspirant, Nuhu Danja, who won the primary election held for Bakori/Danja Federal Constituency was claimed to have been wrongly replaced with that of Aminu Tukur, the incumbent.

Tukur had lost the primary election after scoring 305 votes against Danja’s 314 votes.

Speaking to newsmen yesterday, Danja said Buhari’s directive had followed a protest letter from the governor, Aminu Bello Masari, and the party in the state which was addressed to the president, and dated October 23.

The letter, he said, affirmed that he was the rightful winner of the primary and not the person earlier forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

He alleged that the president’s directive had been ignored by Oshiomhole and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. According to him, the matter became important to be addressed quickly as November 17 is the final date for substitution of names with the electoral empire.

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