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BREAKING: Spiritual Leader Storms Abuja Court In Solidarity With Omoyele Sowore

2 March 2021 - 4:20am

There was a mild drama at the Wuse, Zone 2 Magistrate Court Abuja on Tuesday as a traditional spiritual leader dressed in full regalia accompanied human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore in solidarity.

The traditionalist was seen waving his horsewhip and gourd in the air while chanting ahead of the commencement of trial.

Court workers, journalists, policemen, and other visitors who were on the court premises were stunned by the development, while others burst into laughter. 

As of the time of filing this report, supporters of the activist were chanting anti-government songs in front of the court.

Sowore was arrested alongside four others on New Year's Eve for organising a candlelight procession and charged for alleged criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and inciting public disturbance.

See Also ACTIVISM Drama As Power-Drunk Policeman Who Broke Sowore’s Nose Threatens To Beat Him In Court 0 Comments 3 Weeks Ago

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Widow Of Amotekun Informant: Ondo Govt, Amotekun Have Abandoned Us Since Fulani Herdsmen Killed My Husband

2 March 2021 - 4:03am

Janet Olarewaju, wife of Akadiri Olarewaju, an informant for the Ondo State Security Network, better known as Amotekun, killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen says the state government and the security outfit have abandoned the family.

Janet also sought the help of Nigerians in taking care of the six children the deceased left behind.

SaharaReporters gathered that Olarewaju was recently killed by suspected herdsmen at Ago Sanusi, along Ute Road in Owo, the headquarters of the Owo Local Government Area of the state.

He was said to have been invited by the Amotekun Head of Operations in the LGA, Oluwasesan Adebayo to lead the corps to a forest reserve area before they were ambushed by the gunmen.

A farmer was also killed by the herdsmen during the attack while the operational vehicle and motorcycles belonging to Amotekun and Olarewaju were set ablaze.

Speaking to SaharaReporters, Janet said taking care of six children left behind by her husband has not been easy, adding that one of them is currently on a sickbed.

She said, “He was the Balogun of the vigilante group in Ute road, it was the Amotekun people that came to meet him at home. They came to our house to beg him to follow them to the forest reserve area because he was very familiar with the area.

“Initially, I warned him not to go but he said he so much respected the leader of the Amotekun in Owo named Utako. He even told me to use all the money with me to cook for them. 

“Around 9 pm, some people came to meet me that Fulani herdsmen had kidnapped my husband, I started crying. I saw some Amotekun operatives, I asked them about my husband, they said he had been kidnapped.

“The following day, the police and Amotekun entered the forest and called us to tell us they had found his dead body, unfortunately, they abandoned his body in the forest. Till now, nothing from Amotekun nor the government. They don’t even know how he was buried. Yet, they were the ones that came to take him from his house. 

“They should please help me, I don’t want my children to stop their education, one of my children is currently sick. The government should please help me.”

In January, Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of the state, issued a seven-day quit notice to the herdsmen operating illegally in the state’s forest reserves.

Apart from ejecting the herdsmen, the governor also banned underage grazing, night grazing, and the movement of cattle within the cities and on highways.

The governor had said, "Today, we have taken major steps at addressing the root cause of kidnapping, in particular, and other nefarious activities detailed and documented in security reports, the press, and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases in Ondo State.

"As the chief law and security officer of the state, it is my constitutional obligation to do everything lawful to protect the lives and property of all residents of the state. In light of the foregoing, the following orders are hereby issued: All forest reserves in the state are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next seven days with effect from today, Monday, January 18, 2021."

The issue generated an uproar and after a meeting with different stakeholders, Akeredolu asked herdsmen to register with the government so that they can operate unhindered in the forest reserves.

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Media Rights Group Asks IGP To Arrest, Prosecute Policemen Who Assaulted Guardian Reporter

2 March 2021 - 4:01am

Assaulted Guardian Newspaper Reporter, Eniola Daniel

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to order the arrest and prosecution of the policemen who assaulted and tortured a Guardian Newspaper reporter, Eniola Daniel.

An unidentified officer, who was a member of a team led by Shola Jejeloye, dehumanised Daniel on Sunday while the latter was covering the demolition of the shops along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway in Lagos.

Assaulted Guardian Newspaper Reporter, Eniola Daniel

MRA stressed that no democratic government should condone such lawlessness by its law enforcement officials.
In a statement issued on Tuesday by its Programme Officer, John Gbadamosi, the group condemned the recent wave of attacks on journalists in the country perpetrated by police officers.

It added that the consistent failure of police authorities and the Nigerian government to hold such police personnel accountable was evidently responsible for the noticeable spike in such cases.

The statement read: “If police authorities are unable to discipline their men and hold them accountable when they abuse the rights of citizens and violate the law, it means that they really have no interest in enforcing the law and cannot pretend to be doing so. If they have no regard for the law, then they are no better than a band of criminals backed by the state and paid from public resources. They can have no legitimacy whatever with the citizens that they are supposed to serve.

“The silence of the police authorities and the Federal Government more than 48 hours after the incident is a clear evidence of their tolerance for this sort of barbaric behaviour by officials who are supposed to uphold and enforce the law, which is apparently what has resulted in law enforcement officials frequently acting in such unlawful manner with impunity.”

Operatives from the Lagos State Police Command were reported to have gathered at the Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Market along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway early on Sunday morning to destroy shops along the road when Daniel arrived at the scene a few minutes past 10 am.

The journalist said he was filming the raging fire when a man in plain clothes suddenly approached him and slapped him from behind.

He said other security men with guns advanced to support his assailant. The policemen reportedly punched the reporter, smashed his mobile phone and dragged him into the Black Maria vehicle stationed at the scene.

The journalist said although he brought out his Identity Card and showed it to the policemen to identify himself as a reporter with The Guardian newspaper, they ignored it and continued to beat him. 

He said one of them repeatedly called him “a bastard.”

Jejeloye later ordered the policemen to release him upon which his smashed phone was returned to him with instructions that all the pictures he took at the scene should be deleted.

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In Disregard Of Court Order, Nigerian Billionaire Throws Wife, Children Out Of House To Remarry

2 March 2021 - 4:00am

Leemon Acha

Billionaire man, Chief Leemon Ikpea, has thrown his wife, Mrs Agnes Ikpea, along with their children, out of their home on the Banana Island, Lagos State, in defiance of a subsisting court order.

Ikpea, a 64-year-old oil magnate, is keen on marrying a young lady with Agnes standing as the only stumbling block.

Leemon Acha

SaharaReporters learnt that to pave the way for his second marriage, Ikpea approached the court to get an order permitting him to send his wife out of the house after 39 years of marriage.  

Presiding over the case, Justice Joseph Itsebaga Acha of the Edo State High Court had on February 17, 2021, ordered that for the wife to be ejected from the house, Ikpea must provide suitable accommodation for his wife around Victoria Island, Lekki, or anywhere convenient in Lagos outside of Banana Island, Ikoyi, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

In flagrant disregard of the court order, the husband ejected the wife out of the house without providing an alternative apartment as directed by the court.

It was gathered that the husband brought thugs to the house to eject the wife and her belongings.

The wife said the husband brought the new wife into the house and had been pushing for a divorce.

Relatives have also condemned the court ruling, saying the husband left Lagos for Edo State to get a favourable court judgment.

Dissatisfied with the court ruling, Agnes has sought an order of the Court of Appeal in Benin to nullify the order by Justice Acha.

She is praying the court for a stay of execution of the order and an injunction restraining her estranged husband from carrying out the order pending the hearing of her appeal.

She is asking the appellate court to quash the order of the lower court as her husband failed to provide alternative accommodation for her before ejecting her.

The court will sit on Wednesday, in an accelerated hearing, to decide on the substantive matter.

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Herdsmen Attacks: Ogun Community Counters Abiodun, Says Residents Fled To Benin Republic

2 March 2021 - 3:59am

File Photo

Yewa and Imeko-Afon communities have confirmed that incessant attacks by Fulani herders had forced residents to flee to Benin Republic towns as refugees, refuting claims by the Ogun State Government that it is not true. 

The communities, speaking through the Yewa North Patriotic Forum, stated this while scolding the Ogun State Peace Keeping Committee on Farmers/Herders Conflict for saying the state had no refugees in Benin Republic. 

File Photo

SaharaReporters had on Monday reported that some of the residents moved to Pobe, a Benin Republic town, and were looking for houses to settle in until the unrest in their towns was over.  

It had been reported that despite assurances by the Ogun State Government, the security agencies such as the police and the army personnel in Yewa, Ipokia, and Imeko Afon were said to be biased in favour of Fulani herders, and residents lamented that their lives were not safe. 

But the chairman of the state committee, Kayode Oladele, had denied that some indigenes of the troubled Yewa North and Imeko-Afon were in Benin Republic as refugees.

Oladele had claimed that those who fled Yewa for Benin Republic were Egun and Hohori, saying they only returned to their home country during the conflict.

But, in a swift reaction, the Yewa North Patriotic Forum condemned the committee chairman for being economical with the truth.

The group emphasised that many farmers in Yewa North had fled their homes for Benin Republic, while also shunning the palliatives sent to them by Governor Dapo Abiodun.

Speaking with Daily Post on Monday, the Yewa Forum President, Omobolaji Sanni, expressed disappointment that, “the government through their satanic servant said there is no crisis in Yewa land that will necessitate that our people become refugees in another country.”

He said, “The truth is that many farmers in our axis have taken to their heels to take refuge in Benin Republic and they have also shunned the state government palliatives as their lives are more important to them than bags of rice and noodles.

“The government through their representative, Oladele, had gone overboard and the gods of Yewaland shall fight them to a standstill.

“Many times, we have noticed that many aides in this government are not true representatives, but agents of confusion to the governor. At different times, they feed the governor with lies, and on this, we shall repel this bazzuker of lies.

“Good for us as indigenes, we now know our enemies that live with us.

“This committee didn’t go to these people, instead they chose to lie, If a reversal of this naked lie is not written, we shall register Oladele’s name in our black book as youths in the Yewa North Local Government Area.

“Being broke after serving in the House of Representatives is not a resalable excuse to hobnob with the state governor at the expense of your people." 

Like Oyo and Ondo states, Ogun State has been at the receiving end of violent attacks by herdsmen in recent weeks, leading to a crisis in the communities and ethnic clashes between the indigenes and the herders. 

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Eight Months After Father's Death, Chimamanda Adichie Loses Mother

2 March 2021 - 3:09am

Renowned Nigerian novelist-cum-feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has lost her mother, Grace Adichie, to the cold hands of death.

It was gathered that 78-year-old Grace breathed her last in Awka, Anambra State, on Monday.

Details of her death were sketchy as of the time of filing this report.

The development comes about eight months after the author lost James Adichie, her father, after a brief illness.

The ace novelist had last year narrated how her father's death left her unsettled.

She had said, “And just like that my life has changed forever. June 7, there was Daddy on our weekly family zoom call, talking and laughing. June 8, he felt unwell.

“Still, when we spoke he was more concerned about my concussion. June 9, we spoke briefly, my brother Okey with him. 'Ka chi fo', he said. His last words to me. June 10, he was gone.

“Because I loved my father so much, so fiercely, so tenderly, I always at the back of my mind feared this day. But he was in good health. I thought we had time.
“I thought it wasn’t yet time. I have come undone. I have screamed, shouted, rolled on the floor, pounding things. I have shut down parts of myself.

“We are broken, bereft, holding on to one another, planning a burial in these COVID-scarred times. I’m stuck in the US, waiting. The Nigerian airports are closed. Everything is confusing, bewildering.

“Sleep is the only respite. On waking, the enormity, the finality, strikes – I will never see my father again. Never again. I crash and go under. The urge to run and run, to hide from this.”
She is, however, yet to react to the death of her mother.

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EXCLUSIVE: CBN Governor, Emefiele Nurses Delta Governorship Ambition To Secure Immunity From Probes, Gets Malami's Support

2 March 2021 - 3:08am

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, is presently perfecting plans to contest the governorship election in his home state, Delta, by 2023, SaharaReporters has gathered. 

It was learnt that Emefiele, whose tenure as CBN governor was fraught with several infractions, unpopular policies and freezing of accounts of peaceful protesters, is considering vying for governorship so as to get immunity from probes after leaving office as CBN governor. 

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele. Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Top sources confirmed to SaharaReporters that at the centre of the CBN governor’s ambition plot is the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who had promised to give him support, having being a “good boy” to the government as the head of the CBN.

“Emefiele is working on his Delta State governorship ambition and encouraged by Malami whom he sells dollars to. 

"Malami has told him he will need some immunity after leaving office and has to strive to win the election. So he is supporting Emefiele's ambition and the CBN governor is also doing Malami's bidding. You can recall his role during the #EndSARS activities." a top source explained. 

In the past months, the CBN governor had delved into political activities and attracted public condemnation as a result of the roles he played. 

On November 11, the CBN approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners, saying the funds in their accounts might have been linked to terrorist activities.

The CBN had in the second week of October 2020 frozen the 20 accounts and thereafter approached the court to seek an ex parte order to freeze the accounts. 

In the case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020, filed before Justice A. R. Mohammed, the CBN, however, made no mention of the fact that the 20 accounts were owned by persons involved in the #EndSARS protests, but told the court that the funds might have emanated from terrorist activities. 

On December 2, the CBN pleaded with the court again to allow it to keep freezing the accounts

But on February 10, 2021, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the CBN to unfreeze the accounts of 20 individuals linked to the #EndSARS protests. 

The judge, Ahmed Mohammed, issued the order unfreezing the accounts after the legal teams of both the CBN and defendants decided to end the case. 

Also on November 20, 2020, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja approved the judicial review and order of mandamus to compel the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, among others, to provide details of financial donations received by the country in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic

Justice Inyang Ekwo granted the leave, seeking an order to let the CBN provide the plaintiff with information on the sources of the donations, how they are being applied, among others, amounted to a violation of the applicant’s rights under the Freedom of Information Act and the African Chatter on Human and People’s Rights. 

The ruling was on an ex parte motion filed by a civil society with the CBN governor listed as sole respondent.

Also, on December 4, 2020, Emefiele as well as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, were summoned by the House of Representatives over alleged illicit withdrawal of $21 billion from the Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas Limited’s Dividends Account between 1999 and 2020. 

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Food Marketers Lament As Prices Of Food Items Skyrocket In Lagos, Ogun, Others

2 March 2021 - 2:18am

South-West states have started feeling the heat of the strike action embarked upon by members of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) as prices of beef, food and vegetables in the markets have skyrocketed.

AUFCDN, which is an affiliate of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), commenced a nationwide strike last Thursday following the expiration of a seven-day ultimatum given to the federal government to attend to its demands.

The union had demanded the protection of its members, payment of N475 billion compensation for lives of members and properties lost during the #EndSARS protest, and the Shasa market crisis in Ibadan.

It also demanded the dismantling of all roadblocks on federal highways where their members are harassed and money is extorted from them by the authorities.

The strike entails closing all routes between the North and South for vehicles conveying cattle and food items. Such vehicles are stopped from reaching the Southern region.

SaharaReporters gathered that there is over a 200 percent increase in the cost of food items in Lagos markets.

A yam dealer, Beatrice, said that the blockage had not only affected the cost of food items transported from the North but every other food item. 

She said, “As you can see, I really don't have much stock here because they are not allowing the trucks to come into the South, so the ones we have here have become more expensive. This one (displaying a small tuber of yam) costs N700, nothing less. I am selling it at that price because it is from my old stock. I learnt the ones they manage to bring in now are very costly.

“The market is now very dry. Look in those directions (pointing to tomato sellers), you'll see that they are very unaffordable, we are even tired.”

A butcher at Kara Market, Akute told SaharaReporters that the market had been shut since Monday morning as there were no cows to kill. He stated that the abattoir has been shut since last Thursday and that the situation was affecting beef sellers and consumers in the area.

“I have a store at Kara market and this morning, when we got there, we realised it had been locked up. The trucks that bring in cows to the South are no more coming so there is really nothing to work with. The cows butchered last week were even few in number. That's the reason why food items are costly.

“There's no way you can go to the market now and anyone will sell beef of N500 or N1, 000 to you. Beef, in particular, is very very expensive. If anyone sells to you, check that meat very well, it's not a good one. Some people have already started buying fish, getting used to how to eat fish rather than meat. Some will start buying frozen chicken, turkey or even the fresh ones but you know, all these things will also be affected and their prices will also increase.”

Another market woman who sells cowhide (ponmo), while reacting to a question on why her wares were expensive, quipped, “Is Ponmo not a part of the cow?”

From her store and the stores of other ponmo dealers like her, the cowhides available ranged from N150 to N250. Asked why the usual N50 and N100 cowhides were not available, she said, “As it's affecting the real beef, that's the same way it's affecting ponmo. We usually buy a portion of ponmo (Owo kan) at N8, 000, that's for the big ones but now, we buy it at N12, 000. In this market, I am the only one selling ponmo of N150, go to other people, they sell for N250 and you will not get it cheaper.”

Truly, others sell at N250 for ones s SaharaReporters later found out.

SaharaReporters observed that pepper sellers were not left out. Four pieces of small tomatoes were sold at N100 while double of that went for N200.

A pepper seller said a basket of tomatoes sold for N7, 000 before the strike was now N25, 000. According to her, the price difference for Habanero pepper and red bell pepper is double that of tomato.

“For the one we are selling now, we all contributed money to buy a basket, then we shared it because it was too expensive and we didn't know what would happen later. A sack of habanero pepper that used to cost N8, 000 is now N35, 000, they even sell the rotten ones for as high as N18, 000 but who will buy rotten pepper from us? I'm talking of a small sack of pepper. People don't even understand what is happening yet, they come here and see that we are selling four pieces of tomatoes at N100, they angrily leave. We are also not happy with it.

“As I said earlier, four or five traders now buy a basket of tomatoes or pepper and share whereas before now, some of us would buy half a basket, but now, we can't even do that because we cannot afford it?”

The costs of other food items such as onion, smoked fish, and others are gradually increasing due to the strike.

A Hausa trader said onions had also become very expensive. He said he was selling six pieces of small onions for N100 while one medium-sized onion was sold at N50.

“Our people have decided to stop transporting food items to the South. As it's affecting you, it's also affecting me because I'm the trader and even though I make gain from here, the money will be expended on other things I don't sell but I have to buy,” the trader said. 

In its reaction, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum warned the AUFCDN to desist from blocking the passage of food items and consider the consequences if the South is to do the same.

Speaking with SaharaReporters, the South-West representative and National Publicity Secretary for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin said the forum will take a step very soon if the association does not call off the strike.

“They will hear from us very soon. They will hear from us if they continue their nonsense but our reaction will not be just for newspaper publication, they will surely hear from us,” he said. 

He also described southerners as hard-working people who worked on farmlands before the invasion of killer herdsmen and their cattle on the farms.

“We have warned the bandits who are behaving like blockheads in the North that blocking tomatoes and food items is not the way to go. They had better stop the nonsense before we are forced to act. We are not lazy people, if not for the animals from their areas that destroyed our farms, we produce food too," he said. 

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Boko Haram Terrorists Take Over Borno Community, Beg Residents Not To Flee

2 March 2021 - 2:04am

File Photo

Hundreds of people have been trapped in the ancient town of Dikwa in Borno State after Boko Haram fighters dislodged Nigerian troops in the community.

Dikwa town is about 90km from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and has experienced several attacks from the insurgents since the liberation of the town in 2016.

File Photo

Military sources told SaharaReporters that the insurgents overran Dikwa on Monday and while most of the villagers ran away for safety, some were held by the insurgents.

SaharaReporters gathered that the gunmen came with heavy machine guns and trucks and took possession of the military Super Camp 9 formation, including high-profile fighting equipment and vehicles.

A source said the soldiers had earlier repelled the attack on the town but the insurgents returned hours later and overpowered them.

The gunmen also attacked a UN base and overran a humanitarian hub in the town, trapping 25 aid workers

One of the sources said the insurgents are roaming the streets and preaching to locals not to flee the town.

The latest attack comes few days after Ibrahim Attahiru, the Chief of Army Staff, gave soldiers at the front 48 hours to recapture all towns and other enclaves held by the insurgents.

“Areas around Marte, Chikingudu, Wulgo, Kirenowa, and Kirta must be cleared in the next 48 hours. You must not let this nation down. Go back and do the needful and I will be right behind you.

“You should rest assured of all the support you require in this very onerous task. You are aware of the recent attack on Dikwa and Marte, you should not allow this to happen again; go after them and clear these bastards,” he had said.

Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, have become more ferocious in recent times.

The Nigerian Army has repeatedly claimed that the insurgency had been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses.

The terror group has caused over 40,000 deaths and displaced millions of individuals mainly in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states.

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Politics And The Court of Appeal By Reuben Abati

2 March 2021 - 1:16am

It is most unfortunate that the proposed appointment of new judges for Nigeria’s Court of Appeal has been controversial since the announcement of a shortlist in December 2020. The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem has now found herself in an uncomfortable situation where she has to defend the integrity of her Court and the process that led to the emergence of a list of 20 preferred candidates and a list of additional 20 reserved candidates. To have the judiciary dragged into the mud of Nigerian politics and the usual culprits: ethnicity, religion, Federal Character and nepotism playing a prominent role in the matter, is disheartening. Why is it so difficult in Nigeria to have at least one sacred institution, a special symbol, that no one can desecrate? As it is, that seems increasingly impossible. 

I asked this question as I read over the weekend, a statement attributed to the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dongban-Mensem in which she had cause to protest that persons who have been complaining about the alleged manipulation of the ongoing process of appointing Judges for her Court are seeking to destabilize and scandalize the judiciary. She argues that the appointment process has so far followed “due and usual process” and that the allegation of “favouritism” is a false campaign of calumny: “A total of 80 nominees were shortlisted and recommended for the appointment of 20 Justices to fill the existing vacancies. I state on my honour that any of the 80 nominees could be appointed”, she writes. “It is unfortunate that some people have elected to go to the press without hard evidence which are readily available to those who seek to know. I hereby state that the current recommendation pending determination by the National Judicial Council was done without any preference for tribe, creed or association.” 

The problem here is that many stakeholders and interested parties do not think so, Mi’Lord. Shortly after the list was made public, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) was one of the first groups to cry out in protest. The group alleged that the published list favours only Muslims from the North and does not in any way reflect the fact that Nigeria is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. Thirteen out of the 20 preferred judges are from the North, including three Sharia Judges. The SMBLF asked to know if there is no Christian judge at all from the North and the Middle Belt who can be considered good enough to be a Judge of the Appellate Court! Along the same lines, a civil society group, the Global Integrity Crusade Network (GCIN) petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria to ask that the National Judicial Council should not go ahead to approve the “fraudulent” list before it. Stakeholders from the South East of Nigeria also cried foul. In a petition to the President of Nigeria and the Chief Justice of the Federation, the Alaigbo Development Foundation led by Professor Uzodinnma Nwala pointed out that the proposed list of new Court of Appeal Justices is meant to deny the South East its quota in the Court of Appeal based on the principles of Federal Character as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.   

The ADF  puts the matter thus: “…it is very unjust and unfair for only one Justice to be appointed from the South East out of twenty (20) justices that are being appointed from the six geo-political zones, whereas the other zones were allocated as follows: North West (8), North East (3), North Central (2) South West (4), South South (2)”. Before the ADF, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) also found it necessary to express “ïts feelings of sadness, disgust and anger at the insensitivity demonstrated by the FJSC in compiling the list.  It seems undeniable that the recklessness displayed by the FJSC suggests a steady and gradual descend (sic) to a process of Islamising the Judiciary of Nigeria...”

It is possible to dismiss all of these as rather too familiar: the typical Nigerian response to appointments and processes in the public sector but it must be noted that protests such as this speak to a major crisis that Nigeria is now grappling with on a daily basis: the menace of ethnicity, religion and geography. For this reason, nobody believes that the country is fair to anybody. There is a crisis of trust between the government and the people, and among the people themselves. More than 60 years after independence, Nigerians have reduced every institution of state to the politics of proximity and advantage. There is a prolonged and unending struggle over who gets what, and who controls power. The effect is that this dominant tendency brings out the worst in all of us. The educated man in the North who is a first-class intellect is likely to defend a bandit who kills and maims just because he thinks that by doing so, he is protecting his kinsman against other Nigerians, of different ethnic and religious extraction, who are insisting that justice must be done.  Similarly, a Southerner of the same pedigree would defend his own kinsman against the Northerner for no reason other than the fact that they both speak the same language or belong to the same region or religion. 

This is the ugly drama being played out in Nigeria. It is not new but the melodrama is now tragic. What is disturbing is that the judiciary, the last refuge of the common man, and the expected bastion of the rule of law is now these days, dragged into the crisis of nationhood in a manner previously unseen. Before now, the Nigerian judiciary faced the challenge of military rule and the abbreviation of its Constitutional rights. It survived. Today, the same judiciary is now accused of everything from nepotism, to mediocrity, corruption, incompetence, complicity in the Nigerian mess and if care is not taken, eventual irrelevance. The last point is the main reason caution is advisable. 

The judiciary must stay above dirty politics, very far away from it. Its gates must be locked against politicians by all means possible. Nigeria already suffers from too much politics: the politics of ethnicity, religion, difference and mischief. But whereas the involvement of the legislative and executive arms of government in cut-throat, dirty politics may be excused on the grounds that these two arms of government are dominated unavoidably by products of partisan politics, there is cause for worry when the third arm of government, under the doctrine of the separation of powers, becomes a pawn in the hands of politicians, or becomes even so openly mired in politics that its neutrality becomes a subject of analysis, speculation, and even protest. It is worse when the judiciary is accused of partisanship and desperately so. The court, the work-place of the judiciary, is expected to be a temple of justice and everyone who works therein, an honest, untainted officer. 

It is the duty of the judiciary to interpret the law and ensure justice, and provide a refuge for all persons whose rights may have been violated, and at the same time, punish according to the law, those errant characters in society who violate the public order and return society by their conduct to the state of nature as defined by Thomas Hobbes. The law exists therefore, to restrain animal conduct and remind all of us of the need to be human. The judex are at the apex of the ladder. Given the privileged position that they occupy, they are expected to be above board, unimpeachable in terms of integrity, most deserving of their positions and of such moral and professional competence to be able to deliver justice without prejudice. When the judiciary however, becomes a target, subject, victim of partisan politics, or rank emotionalism, this goal cannot be achieved. A politicised and compromised judiciary is a threat to the same rule of law that it is required to uphold and enforce. 

This re-affirmation is necessary against the background of what looks like the current politicisation of the proposed appointment of additional Justices for Nigeria’s Court of Appeal. Justice Monica Dongban-Mesem is in order to defend her Court. The Court of Appeal is too important in the hierarchy of courts to become a playground for public prejudice and suspicion. Men and women who sit on the Appeal Court must be seen to merit their positions on the basis of their accomplishments and experience. Trust and confidence in the “due and usual process” of the appointment of judges is relevant to the subsequent level of confidence in their performance in office. But with due respect, Her Lordship’s rebuttal does not go far enough. The “hard evidence” that she talks about in terms of what is available in the public domain and what is known contradicts her own declarations. It provides a strong justification for an interrogation of the queries that have been raised and why the National Judicial Council must review the list of proposed Judges before it takes any action. 

A review of all the complaints so far would suggest that the Court of Appeal indeed followed “due and usual process” in the screening of the judges that applied for appointment into the Court of Appeal, but problem arose after the President of the Court forwarded the decision of the Committees to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC). The key allegation is that the FJSC turned the list upside down and ignored the recommendations of the Court of Appeal. Is the President of the Court of Appeal defending the FJSC? Would she be willing to publish the original list that she submitted to the Judicial Service Commission to provide greater clarity and allow the public to compare and contrast? And just in case the list that is in circulation is incorrect, no one has said so.  The hard evidence that is currently in circulation is that 13 out of 20 nominated judges are Northerners and Muslims. The 13 Muslim Judges are from Niger, Plateau, Adamawa, Yobe, FCT, Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina, the home state of the incumbent President, which has two nominees. The entire South East is represented by one Judge from Imo State. The South South has two slots: Bayelsa and Delta State. The entire South West has 4 – Ondo (2) plus Ogun, and Lagos. The reserve list of 20 follows more or less the same pattern! By what criteria on earth did the FJSC arrive at such a list which can only fuel the anger about how under the present dispensation, there is an alleged deliberate attempt to grant undue advantages to a section of the country – from cattle rearing, to public appointments?

It may be argued that ordinary people have no business raising questions about the appointment process in the judiciary. But that would be a terribly wrong thing to say. Judges are first and foremost human beings. They are part of society. They have rights too. A lawyer who has chosen a career on the Bench expects that he would be promoted according to his ability. If he is denied the opportunity for advancement and self-actualization, just because his kinsman is not in power or he does not know people in high places, he would be disturbed. He or she will be demoralized. We expect the judiciary to dispense justice, but should such an institution also promote injustice and unfairness within its ranks? However, where are the judges who believe that they are qualified to be on the preferred list? Why are they not the ones writing petitions? Civil society groups may crow as they wish, but their efforts will ultimately raise the question of locus standi? Should judges who push this same principle be seen to be sleeping on their own rights? 

There have also been snide remarks about the competence of some of the judges on the FJSC’s proposed list. I have no “hard evidence” in that regard. Elsewhere in the United States for example, there will be open access to the judgments that judges about to be elevated have written, their positions on key judicial matters and their contributions to the development of the law. Here in Nigeria, there is so much politics and secrecy. Judges who think that they are more deserving are bound to feel discouraged. Last year, there was so much controversy over the appointment of the Federal High Court Judges in Abuja. This year, we are at the same point with the appointment of Justices of the Court of Appeal. At other times, there have been issues over the appointment of Chief Judges at the state level, and the thorny issues have been more or less the same: merit, ethnicity and religion (re: Kebbi, Adamawa, Cross River). Who will judge the judges? It has also been said that the current list before the National Judicial Council does not include senior members of the Bar and persons from the academia whose inclusion in line with the enabling Guidelines can broaden the scope of the Court of Appeal, and provide needed depth. 

Finally, the President of the Court of Appeal is a Christian. Right under her watch, we have this controversial issue of 13 nominee-Justices of the Court of Appeal out of 20 who are Muslims and Northerners? Whatever she says, it will be recorded that the deed is hers. Was she intimidated or influenced? What other “hard evidence” do we need? What else would she be willing to defend on “her honour?” These are issues that the NJC must consider.

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Sheikh Ahmad Gumi For Beginners By Owei Lakemfa

1 March 2021 - 11:21pm

The abduction of 317 school girls of the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State, last Friday, February 26 is even more tragic because we as parents and adults once again failed to protect the Nigerian child. It is distressing that this is the fourth mass abduction of children in their schools within three months: Katsina, Kankara, Kagara, and now Jangebe. 

All these children have done is to be caught in their dilapidated and rundown schools in their pursuit of priceless education which after 60 years of independence we have deprived most of our citizens. 

The frustration expressed by members of the Jangebe community who attacked police, security and even media vehicles to stop them from accessing the community in the wake of the abduction, is an indication of the loss of faith in the Nigerian state and system. How can they have faith when they knew that 42 persons, including students, staff and their families from the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State abduction 10 days earlier, were at the time, despite vows by the federal and state governments and duplicitous ‘negotiators’, still in the hands of their abductors? 

How dare we blame these hapless people whose state governor, Bello Matawalle, eight days before the abductions, had lectured Nigerians during his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari that these terrorists who have murdered thousands of people are not criminals? Governor Matawalle had told he world: “Not all of them are criminals… some of them, sometimes were cheated by so- called vigilante groups. They normally go to their settlements and destroy property and take their animals. They did not have anyone to speak with, so sometimes they go for revenge. When the vigilante group attacks them, they go for reprisals. That is exactly what happened.” So if the killers are engaged in “revenge” and “reprisals”, why would the victim-communities trust the same state to protect them and their children?

Yet, these terrorists are not without their strong advocates like Sheikh Ahmad Gumi who presents the murderous bandits – who kidnap, steal, rape, maim and kill – as the victims, and the ordinary Nigerians who are kidnapped in villages and towns, footpaths and highways, as the predators. Gumi argues: “I think it is a population that is pushed by circumstances into criminality…They are peaceful people. But something happened that led them to this.” 

Gumi, who campaigns for amnesty for the terrorists and their empowerment with state funds, is so passionate that he even advises the criminals on how to present a better public image by avoiding the kidnapping of women wearing hijab. So the bandits can either release such women or yank their hijab off before video-taping them. In other words, as far as Gumi is concerned, it is in order to kidnap non-Muslim women. 

He made wild, unsubstantiated claims that the Nigerian Army has been carrying out genocide against the bandits and tops it with wilder claims that only non-Muslim soldiers kill them. When Gumi met the abductors of the Kagara school children, he told them: “What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities (fighting them) are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and non- Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite a crisis.” The implication of his claims is that Muslim soldiers spare the killer-bandits. If this were so, it would be manifest treason because he is accusing such soldiers of colluding with the bandits to attack innocent Nigerians.

When Gumi, a former Captain in the Nigerian Army, was asked on AIT if, in his knowledge, soldiers are deployed on operations based on their religious faith, he could provide no answer as this would defeat his claims that in combat, only non-Muslim soldiers fight bandits. If Gumi, an Ahmadu Bello University-trained medical doctor, can advocate that the bandits should attack or kidnap only non-Muslims and kill only non-Muslim soldiers, I have no doubt that despite his Hippocratic oath, non-Muslim patients would be dead meat under his scalpel. 

Gumi’s vile narrations try to side-track the fact that the victims of the bandits are not selected based on their religion. In fact, that the bandits are interested in ransom payment not the religion of their victims. Sadly, most of the victims of the bandits, especially in the hotbeds of Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states, are Muslims. The innocent children they are kidnapping en-masse whether in Jangebe, Katsina, Kankara or Kagara, are predominantly Muslim. How is it difficult for a Sheikh to understand that a criminal is a criminal irrespective of his religion? How can Gumi claim to be a peacemaker when he is the chief spokesperson and negotiator-in-chief of the bandits? 

He also makes a laughable claim that the bandits are actually some liberation fighters engaged in an “ethnic” war. He said: “When I listened to them, I found out that it is a simple case of criminality which turned into banditry, which turned into ethnic war, and some genocide too behind the scene; people don’t know.” Who told him the Fulani are engaged in an ethnic war against the rest of the country?

I am not taken in by Gumi flaunting his Sheikh regalia about forests claiming to seek freedom for the masses being ceaselessly abducted; when a cat is claiming piety, he is simply looking for food. Also, I do not begrudge him selling himself to state and federal governments as an experienced freelance negotiator. But the governments should properly assess him.  It is not just the huge holes in Gumi’s narratives and child-like claims that are glaring, some bolts also appear to be missing. 

In this matter of banditry and mass kidnapping in the North, it is quite in order for the state governors to privatize their responsibility as chief security officers of their states and award the contract to Gumi as ambassador plenipotentiary to traverse bandit hideouts and negotiate the release of the victims. The only thing is that in picking a chief negotiator, they need to subject him to some test. 

Gumi is like a fat cat advocating for the rat race; claiming humans are inhuman towards them, intent to wipe them out and that rats have the fundamental right to roam around, especially in the kitchen and eat whatever they find without fear of being poisoned.

The agenda of Gumi is clear, therefore, he cannot be speaking in the interests of the victims of kidnapping and banditry. Even if the wolf claims to be the spokesperson of the sheep, its interests and those of the sheep are not the same; for the wolf, both the sheep and other animals it can pounce on, are game. So, it is not difficult to decipher Gumi.

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Jihadists Attack UN Base In Borno

1 March 2021 - 11:07pm

Jihadists linked to the Islamic State have attacked a UN base and overrun a humanitarian hub in Borno, security and humanitarian sources said. 

Scores of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters invaded the town of Dikwa in Borno State, dislodging troops from the military base and torching the humanitarian hub, a military source told AFP on Monday. 

Military reinforcements, including fighter jets and a helicopter gunship, had been deployed to help repel the attackers, the military source said. A spokesman for UN chief, Antonio Guterres, confirmed only a "security incident" but gave no further details. 

For more than a decade, Nigeria's military has battled an insurgency by the Islamist group Boko Haram that has devastated the northeast, killing at least 36,000 people and displacing more than two million. 

The ISWAP group split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has become a dominant threat in the region, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at bogus checkpoints. 

The violence has spread into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the militants. 

The latest attack comes after President Muhammadu Buhari replaced his four top military commanders after months of pressure over his government's failure to end the Islamist insurgency. 

The latest assault in Dikwa comes three years to the day after ISWAP fighters attacked a UN humanitarian hub in the remote town of Rann, killing three aid staff and abducting a female worker. 

On Friday, ISWAP fighters in trucks fitted with machine guns raided Dikwa, sending residents fleeing. The town, 90 kilometres (55 miles) from the Borno State capital Maiduguri, is home to more than 130,000 people, including 75,000 who had already fled from other parts of the region and lived in camps where they rely on food handouts from aid agencies.

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Buhari, Osinbajo To Take COVID Vaccine On Saturday

1 March 2021 - 11:06pm

President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and other prominent Nigerians will be among the first set of Nigerians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on live television.

They are expected to receive the first dose of the vaccine on Saturday, March 6.

The Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said this on Monday at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) joint national briefing on COVID-19.

DailyTrust reports that four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in the country from India on Tuesday.

Shuaib had, on January 7, said Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo, the SGF and other prominent Nigerians would be among the first set of Nigerians to receive the vaccine.

According to him, this helps drive awareness of the virus and the vaccine administration in the country when it finally arrives.

He urged Nigerians not to be hesitant about the vaccines when they arrive.

At Monday's briefing, Faisal said the first batch of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is about 3,924,000 doses, is expected to arrive in Nigeria Tuesday, March 2 2021, at 11:10 am.

He assured Nigerians that all necessary safety and quality control measures had been put in place for the arrival, storage and successful administration of the vaccine in the country.

According to him, there will be a mini ceremony chaired by the Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19 to receive the vaccine at the VIP Protocol section, General Aviation Terminal of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

He said at the end of the ceremony, to mark the vaccines' arrival, a few vials of the vaccines would be handed over to the NAFDAC team, which they would analyse for two days (Wednesday, March 3 and Thursday, March 4).

"Further to the clearance by NAFDAC, the PTF, FMOH, NPHCDA and strategic leaders will be at the treatment centre of the National Hospital on Friday, March 5 2021, where the first vaccination site will be set up to commence the vaccination of the frontline health workers and support staff.

“These Staff would also be electronically registered in the COVID-19 vaccine database and would receive their COVID-19 vaccination card, which has a QR code that can be verified worldwide.

"On Saturday, March 6, key strategic leaders will receive the first dose of the vaccine," Faisal said.

The NPHCDA boss said in collaboration with CACOVID; plans were on the ground for a cargo plane to transport the vaccines to the states by air.

According to him, states without a functional airport will have their vaccines transported by road using vans with fitted Cold Cabins from the nearest airport.

"The vaccines will be stored at the State Cold Stores, from where they will be transported by road to LGA Cold Stores.

"Once activities have commenced in the states, there would be strict monitoring by PTF, FMOH, NPHCDA and independent bodies such as EFCC, DSS, ICPC, and Civil Society Organisations.

"States/health facilities/health workers that are identified as defaulting from the standard protocol and guidelines for this phase of vaccination would be sanctioned," Shuaib said.

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Pastor’s Wife Accuses Husband Of Sleeping With Church Members, Seeks Divorce

1 March 2021 - 11:05pm

The wife of the pastor of a new generation church has approached a Yola Upper Area Court in Adamawa State to dissolve her marriage to her husband, whom she allegedly caught sleeping with female church members.

Mrs Jummai Mala, who also claims to be the breadwinner of the family, alleged in court filings that her husband, Pastor Yakubu Ayuba, had three kids sleeping with female church members in his office.

Jummai also alleged that her husband had a bed in the church office, which he was using to commit adultery.

She claimed to have personally caught him in the act in the office on several occasions.

Jummai, who stated that her husband was behaving so that she could not reasonably be expected to live with and be called his wife, urged the court to dissolve the marriage.

She said her husband was in the habit of chasing women in his church to the extent that some of the women even confronted her on several occasions and threatened to beat her up.

While substantiating her claim that her estranged husband had abdicated his responsibilities as the head of his home, Jummai added that Yakubu was in the habit of beating her whenever she refused to give him money and once broke her head.

Due to her family challenges and frustration, she later decided to build her own house and moved in together with the respondent.

She added that her husband on his own packed out of the house and left her alone with the responsibility of catering for the children, adding that he usually visited the house whenever he needed money or was hungry.

Responding, Yakubu, the founder of Heavengate Bible Mission in Bachure, Yola North Local Government Area of the state, claimed that all the allegations against him were false.

He said what his estranged wife told the court was far from the truth, according to a report by Punch.

His counsel, F. R. Baiyo, called three witnesses, who were duly cross-examined by the counsel for the petitioner, J. J. Shalli.

The presiding judge, Umar Isa, adjourned the matter till March 10 for the continuation of defence.

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Kano Hisbah Arrests Two Men Suspected Of Sending Pornographic Materials To Married Woman

1 March 2021 - 11:05pm

File photo used to illustrate story.

The Kano State Hisbah Board has arrested two men suspected of sending pornographic materials to a married woman. 

A statement issued by the board's spokesman, Lawan Ibrahim, on Monday in Kano, said that the suspects were traced and arrested after the woman had complained to the board. 

File photo

The statement said that the married woman had informed the board's officials that she did not know those sending the messages to her phone. It noted that the Commander-General of the board, Dr Harun Ibn-Sina, ordered a full investigation into the matter.

"The board collected the phone numbers from her, which led to the two men's arrest at Unguwa Uku in Tarauni Local Government Area. The young men are between the age of 20 and 21. 

"We have summoned their parents to speak with them and for them to pay keen attention to their wards' way of life to avoid such behaviour in future," the statement added.

The board advised parents to avoid buying expensive phones for their children and always monitor their movements to shield them from mingling with bad friends.

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BREAKING: Jangebe Schoolgirls Regain Freedom

1 March 2021 - 10:11pm

The kidnapped schoolgirls of Government Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State, have been released, SaharaReporters has gathered.

Last Friday, suspected bandits attacked the school in Talata-Mafara Local Government Area and kidnapped many students.

The police in the state said 317 students were kidnapped while the Zamfara State Commissioner of Information, Alhaji Sulaiman Tunau Anka, said the exact number of abducted students was yet to be ascertained.

The gunmen were said to have arrived at the school around 1am and loaded the girls in buses. See Also Insecurity UPDATE: Bandits Storm Zamfara School, Kidnap Over 300 Female Pupils 0 Comments 6 Days Ago

PHOTONEWS: Jangebe Schoolgirls Regain Freedom | Sahara Reporters

— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) March 2, 2021

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Movement Of Food Trucks Resumes From North To South

1 March 2021 - 1:50pm

Business operators in Kwara and neighbouring states have heaved a sigh of relief as free movement of foodstuffs resumed after some hoodlums reportedly blocked the Ilorin-Jebba Expressway over the weekend.

It was reported that truckloads of food items from the northern parts of the country were denied entry into Kwara State and other states of the South-West zone.

Investigation revealed that some Hausa youths stationed at the outskirts of Niger State, popularly called Kara-Jebba, near Jebba in Kwara State, last week stopped many truck drivers carrying food items such as tomatoes, beans, yams, cattle, pepper, among others, from going further from Kara into Kwara and other states in the South-West.

The situation, it was gathered, saw the trucks being parked along the road, creating heavy gridlock, while it was reported that some of the food items got spoilt.

However, it was gathered that free movement of goods and vehicles resumed on Ilorin-Jebba Expressway early Monday morning to the joy of residents and business people on the axis.

Confirming the reopening of the road in Ilorin on Monday, Prince Ibrahim Adebara, son of the traditional ruler of Jebba, in a report by Punch, said that a troop of military operatives drafted by the Federal Government effected the free movement.

Adebara, who said that the military personnel had stationed along the road to maintain law and order, added that they threatened to treat anyone that blocks the road as a terrorist.

One of the affected traders, Madam Balogun, said she was happy with the normalcy that had returned. She, however, lamented the loss caused by some perishable items that got bad while the situation lasted.

The Defence Headquarters, in a statement over the weekend by its Acting Director Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Ugochukwu, said it had cleared the Jebba-Kaduna Road of those preventing trucks from going to the South and restore normalcy in the area.

“This is also to give a stern warning to any unscrupulous group or persons who are aiming at disrupting legitimate economic and commercial activities by preventing the free flow of traffic and movement of goods in a bid to generate clashes along ethnic divides to desist from such unpatriotic acts or face the wrath of the law.

“Members of the public are also urged to promptly report anyone found engaged in such atrocious activities to security operatives,” the statement had said.

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BREAKING: Ganduje's Aide Yakasai Released From DSS Custody

1 March 2021 - 1:42pm

Salihu Yakasai, the sacked media aide to Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has been released from the Department of State Services' custody.

A brother to Yakasai, Abdullahi, made this known via his Twitter handle.

"Alhamdulilah. My brother @dawisu is out. Thank you all! #freedawisu," Abdullahi tweeted.

Alhamdulilah. My brother @dawisu is out. Thank you all #freedawisu

— Abdullahi Yakasai (@atyaks) March 1, 2021

Many Nigerians on social media had condemned the arrest of Yakasai hours after criticising the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the rise in school kidnappings.

See Also Insurgency BREAKING: Ganduje Fires Aide, Yakasai, For Criticising Buhari 0 Comments 5 Days Ago

SaharaReporters had reported that the Department of State Services arrested Yakasai, who was, until Saturday afternoon, a media aide to Ganduje.

Speaking with The PUNCH on Saturday, the father of the governor's aide and a founding member of Arewa Consultative Forum and elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said his son was arrested on his way to a barbing salon in Kano, the state capital.

Though the DSS in Kano State initially denied arresting the younger Yakasai, DSS headquarters in Abuja confirmed that the sacked media aide was in its custody.

The agency's spokesman, Peter Afunanya, while confirming Salihu's detention, denied that the former aide's arrest was connected to his criticism of the Buhari regime.

"This is to confirm that Salihu Tanko-Yakasai is with the Department of State Services. He is being investigated over issues beyond the expression of opinions in the social media as wrongly alleged by sections of the public," he had said in a statement.

The aide had called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led regime to either deal with bandits in the country or resign.

The embattled media aide was sometimes 2020 suspended from office for several weeks, having earlier criticised Buhari over his failure to tackle the security challenges bedevilling the country.

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Food Blockade Of South By North—Not In Nigeria’s Best Interest By Fredrick Nwabufo

1 March 2021 - 12:47pm

Fredrick Nwabufo

No region in Nigeria is a self-sufficient archipelago. None is more fortunate in human and material assets than the other. Each region has its unique quality and contributes a consequential substance to Nigeria. None is greater than the other. We are like geopolitical sextuplets sharing one umbilical cord – nourished and oxygenated by mother Nigeria.

It is delusive to assume any of the regions solely underpins the Nigeria infrastructure.  The north feeds the nation, and the south contributes in commerce and revenue generation. We are one concentric circle, holding each other at delicate arcs. Nigeria has a unified entity can stand as an island because its component parts are already flourishing archipelagos.

We should not take this ‘’symbiosis’’ for granted. Our interdependence makes us a viable concern. It is asinine to keep latching on the trope that the ‘’north produces nothing’’. This bromide is a fallacy. The north is Nigeria’s food hamper. The insecurity in the region which has affected farming, and the concomitant increase in food prices should make us reflect on the pivotal place of the north – beyond politics.

When there is a crisis (natural and otherwise) in the north, food production is affected, and the prices of foodstuff hit the stratosphere. The flooding of 2020 which affected rice farms and drove the price of the commodity further is noteworthy.  Every region brings something to the table. All the regions are equal shareholders – in asset and liability – in the Nigerian partnership.

Fredrick Nwabufo

But I am afraid to say that a menacing spectacle is being enacted by those who do not take the shared interest of Nigeria with gravitas.  The prices of foodstuff are said to be soaring to the heavens in some states in the south. Rivers, Imo, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Edo, and Akwa Ibom are reported to be among the worst hit.

The reason for this contrived price hike? The food blockade of the south by some groups in the north. A group, the Amalgamated Union of Food and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) is demanding N4.7 billion from the government as compensation for its loss in the Shasha market crisis in Oyo and in the #EndSARS violence.

Also, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association has threatened to sustain the food besiegement until the safety of its members in the south is guaranteed. According to Aliyu Mohammed, coordinator of the Kwara state chapter of Miyetti Allah, the beleaguerment is a ‘’warning shot’’ to safeguard their business interest.

“Except those who may decide to take other routes to get to the state or those who may act in defiance to the directive, the traders would not come from the north and those who come may be stopped or sanctioned,” Mohammed was reported to have said.

In addition, media reports at the weekend said the north is diverting food items to Niger Republic and Cameroon, and that trade routes to the south have been besieged. Trucks containing food items were occluded from moving south at Jebba in Niger state by some irate youths though the Nigerian Defence Headquarters said the military intervened and cleared the path.

For the sake of clarity, here are the words of Abdullahi Aliu, national president of the Northern Consensus Movement, confirming the diversion of food items from the north to neighbouring countries as reported by The Nigerian Tribune.

 “As I speak to you, my people are already shipping their goods, onions, tomatoes and what have you to Niger (Republic), Cameroon, and other neighbouring countries through Illela border. Already, we have diversified. Our people have already found a way of not wasting their goods. They will not be wasted. They will be sold just like the way they were being moved to the south-west, south-east or south-south. So, my people will end up not losing anything.’’

What does this portend for Nigeria? Citizens diverting food items needed by fellow citizens to foreign countries? Are foreigners from Niger Republic and Cameroon now substitutes to Nigerians? This is sadism. And it is really troubling.

What if some groups, who have threatened to obstruct oil supply to the north, put action to their threat? Where does that leave all of us? We should not cut off our nose to spite our face. Nobody wins in this friction of attrition.

To break the ice, I think the government (federal and state) needs to step up to soothe frayed nerves. Investments and lives were lost in the crisis effectuated by the activities of some criminal herders in the south. Northern traders have also been victims of targeted attacks – losing much of their investments. It will be apropos for the government to attenuate the impact of these losses – on both sides – particularly in the case of the Shasha market clash. The government must deliberately intervene before the situation snowballs into an inter-regional tit-for-tat.

The civil authorities must go beyond platitudes and commit themselves to keeping the peace by ensuring victims of violence (farmer-herder crisis and sundry clashes) are compensated and criminals punished. Why there are often reprisal attacks is because justice is not done to the victims. A cycle of violence continues when justice is undone.
Let wisdom prevail.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

Twitter @FredrickNwabufo

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Corps Members React To Rumours NYSC Used February Stipends To Settle Bandits

1 March 2021 - 12:42pm

Some corps members have reacted to claims that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) had used their February stipends to settle bandits. 

There have been fears among some corps members as they have yet to receive their February stipends.

Speaking with SaharaReporters on Monday, some of the corps members expressed fears over the delayed payment of their February stipends. 

Some, however, said they were confident of being paid by the scheme despite the rumours.

A corps member in Anambra State, who preferred anonymity, said: "I haven't been paid. The stipend hasn't really been consistent as it should. I'm actually scared at the moment over the claim that our stipends had been used to settle bandits because this is Nigeria. I hope it doesn't go beyond rumours because how will they use our stipends to pay bandits."

Another corps member said if truly corps members allowances had not been used to pay off bandits, it would be better for them to be paid early in order to lend credence to NYSC claims.

“If the NYSC wants us to believe them, the allowance should come in as soon as possible so we will believe them and disbelive the rumours. Though, we know it's unverified information but anything can happen in the Nigeria of today,” the corps member said. 

However, some are of the opinion that such should not be considered at all. A corps member in Akwa Ibom State said though he had not been paid for February, he would never believe such his allowance was given to bandits.

He said: "Consistency in payment of stipends is relative in this case. Relative in the sense that while they paid our December on camp as early as 18/19th of the month, I received my January allowance on the 27th of the month. So I would say that they have been consistent in month by month payment but not in terms of date of payment.

"So, that's a sheer rumour which should not be believed for any reason. They'll still pay. Maybe because the month is shorter than every other month. But, I think the rumour should be disregarded totally. I don't have any fear whatsover."

On her part, a corps member in Ogun State, said: "I heard that the federal government had given our money to bandits but I think it just a rumour because it had not happen before."

Similarly another corps member in Enugu said: "February allowance hasn't been paid yet. Since others have start getting their pay for February, I think it would get to everybody."

The scheme had on Sunday quashed the rumours of using the corps members February stipends to settle bandits.

It had said in a statement: "The management of the National Youth Service Corps wishes to alert members of the public, especially corps members to the fake news currently trending, which states that corps members will be paid the February monthly stipend at the end of March 2021.

"The fake information claimed that the funds appropriated for the stipends had been expended on the settlement of bandits.

“Management enjoins all to disregard in its entirety the story which is the handiwork of mischief-makers.

“Management admonishes the originators of this falsehood to refrain from such criminal action. Corps members are advised as always to only rely on the information on the NYSC platforms.”

News AddThis :  Original Author :  SaharaReporters, New York Disable advertisements : 
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