Over 8 Million Nigerians To Benefit From N500bn Social Investment 2016 Spending And Palliatives – Presidency

*5.5 million school children to be fed for 200 school days in first phase of homegrown school feeding programme

*Over 1.6 million Nigerian traders, market women, men, artisans to receive loans.

*1 million extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians to receive N60,000 this year in 12 months payments of N5000 each.

All together the federal government would be directly impacting the lives of more than 8 million Nigerians in different social investment 2016 budget spending that would provide succor and be a ready-made palliative to ordinary Nigerians.

This disclosure was made last night by the Senior Special Assistant for Media & Publicity to the President, Mr. Laolu Akande, in an interaction with the press in Abuja.

He gave new details and a breakdown of the interventions and palliatives, some of which he said would be starting in a matter of weeks thus:

1.*the direct payment of N5000 monthly to one million extremely poor Nigerians for 12 months as provided for in the 2016 budget for which N$68.7B has been appropriated.

2*the direct provision of very soft loan -cash for market women, men and traders, including artisans and Agric workers. This would be for a total of 1.76m Nigerians, without the requirement for conventional collateral. Some of the traders will likely get about N60,000. A total sum of N140.3B has already been appropriated for this in the budget

3*payment of between N23,000 to N30,000 per month to 500,000 unemployed graduates who would be trained, paid and deployed to work as volunteer teachers, public health officers and extension service workers among other responsibilities.
-They would also be given electronic devices to empower them technologically both for their assignments and beyond
-similarly 100,000 artisans would also be trained and paid
N191.5B has been set aside for this in the passed budget.

4. At least 5.5 million Nigerian primary school children -ie starting first in
18 states-three per geopolitical zones-would be fed for 200 school days under the free Homegrown School Feeding Programme.
N93.1B has been appropriated for this in the 2016 budget.

5. 100,000 tertiary students in Science Technology Engineering & Maths-STEM, plus Education will partake in the N5.8B already provided for this education grant in the budget. This payment would also be paid directly to the students.

When added together this year alone, more than 8 million Nigerians would be benefiting from the Social Investment budget.

Akande who works from the Office of the Vice President said the N500B social investement programmes of the Buhari administration is a ready made palliative to lift Nigerians from poverty and economic hardship.

“Long before now the Presidency has made adequate arrangements in the 2016 budget to ensure that Nigerians are lifted from poverty and hardship,” the spokesperson stated.

This will not only assuage the current pains arising from the new fuel pricing regime, but will provide ongoing social safety nets for over 8 million Nigerians this year alone, according to Akande.

He added that this is beside the jobs that would be created by the infrastructural projects that would be restored and the new ones that would soon be taking off.

Said he: “the Buhari presidency is keen to ensure that Nigerians are lifted and that if necessary on an ongoing basis palliatives measures would always been considered to address the conditions of the people.”

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

London Anti-corruption Summit: Diezani, Ibori, Dariye, 57 Other Nigerians May Lose UK Assets

As World leaders concludes the anti-corruption summit in London, indications emerged that more than 60 top Nigerians may lose assets and cash laundered in the United Kingdom.

To achieve this, top sources have confirmed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) may soon submit a list of those convicted, under probe, the fleeing suspects and those watch-listed to the relevant agencies in the UK.

The UK was said to be in custody of over £40 million stolen funds recovered from some Nigerian government officials in 2008.

This is apart from about £22.5million recovered from the Island of Jersey.

Of the cash, about £6.8million loot had been traced to ex-Governor James Ibori.

Some of those likely to be affected  include ex-governors like James Ibori, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Joshua Dariye, the late Abubakar Audu, Chimaroke Nnamani, Lucky Igbinedion, the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and others.

Others are about 13 ex-governors on trial for financial crimes, some former ministers either on trial or under investigation, some indicted top bankers during the 2008 financial crisis.

Six of the ex-governors were  alleged to have acquired assets worth £15million in the United Kingdom, while in office.

One of the governors allegedly  paid £1.6million at a go in 2005 for a posh mansion in London.

According to findings, about 60 highly-placed Nigerians, especially politically exposed persons and their fronts, have assets and looted funds in the United Kingdom and Island of Jersey.

For instance, Ibori’s assets in the UK are said to worth more than $150 million. A former director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) owns a flat in St George Wharf worth about 450 pounds more than 10 years ago, while another top civil servant owns 1.65 million pounds Fulham property.

It was learnt that the decision of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to collaborate with the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has dimmed the hope of the affected treasury looters.

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “With the pledge of the British Prime Minister, we will just go to our shelf and reel out the list of those with suspected loot and laundered funds in the United Kingdom.

“Already, we have the dossiers of all these suspects right from the days of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as the EFCC chairman.

“We can talk of about 60 on our radar, including about 13 governors, former ministers, oil subsidy suspects, indicted top bankers and some of those involved in the $15billion arms deals.

“We will recover all the stolen funds. In fact, very soon, we may start publishing the photographs of the identified assets of some of these suspects.

“In fact, the Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, met with the Special Fraud Office in London on Thursday.

“We can seize these assets under the Interim Forfeiture Order in Sections 26 and 29 of the EFCC Act.

The section reads: “Any property subject to forfeiture under this Act may be seized by the commission in the following circumstances- (a) the seizure is incidental to an arrest or search; or (b) in the case of property liable to forfeiture upon process issued by the Court following an application made by the Commission in accordance with the prescribed rules.

“Whenever property is seized under any of the provisions of this Act, the Commission may-(a) place the property under seal; or (b) remove the property to a place designated by the Commission.

“Properties taken or detained under this section shall be deemed to be in custody of the Commission, subject only to an order of a Court.”

The EFCC and the Metropolitan Police have been collaborating in the past few years.

The British government had, in 2008, expressed its willingness to return about £40 million stolen funds recovered from some Nigerian government officials.

A former Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, James Tansley, on September 27, 2007 handed over two cheques for more than $250,000 (£126,000, 29.3m naira) to Nigeria.

The UK Metropolitan Police had said the amount was only a fraction of the fortunes that the former Governor of Plateau State, Chief Joshua Dariye, and other Nigerian officials had diverted to London.

A cheque for $2 million belonging to a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was also returned to Nigeria by the British government.

President Muhammadu Buhari had during the week pleaded with the UK to return stolen funds to Nigeria.

“I am not going to demand any apology from anybody. What I am demanding is the return of assets,” Buhari said at a function in London.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Black Market Forex PMS Price: Kachikwu Must Think Nigerians Are Dumb By peregrino brimah

When I strongly criticized the Minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu for artificially creating a fuel scarcity by in his words, “saving fuel from Nigeria’s refineries for the rainy day,” and of course, not importing enough, while I thought he was dumb, I never imagined it was intentional. Now it has come to light that the fuel scarcity was intentional, Kachikwu was not dumb but rather he gambles that we Nigerians are.

The recent utterings from the government and their agents, putting the recent scarcity and its derived price hike (at N150-250/liter) as the justification for the new price hike is evidence that the unexplainable shortage of PMS was deliberate and a staged hardship to introduce the planned price increase.

As I pointed out in an earlier publication, the new price of petrol was calculated simply based on 100% importation via black market forex; with Nigerian banks having been authorized by Godwin Emefiele to sell at black market rates as the new “malo,”

At CBN 197, fuel was N86.50

At Black market 325, it will be what?

325 x 86.50/ 197= N141

That’s how Kachikwu came up with his N135-145 range. Nigeria is now betrothed to the bank black market cabal.

Let’s summarize 10 factors/questions that Kachikwu, who I believe must resign, should but cannot address:

1, Why the false advert in all national dailies that “the subsidy was just removed” when we all know the subsidy has since been totally removed as the government announced in December of 2016?

2, Why the false announcement of a so-called downstream deregulation when the government has put a lower boundary of N135 on the sale of PMS? If deregulation is real then there shouldn’t there be no lower hiked limit?

3, Will the NNPC also source for dollars from the blackmarket? If not refer to question below:

4, As the NNPC currently imports at 100%, during this deregulation, what percent will the NNPC still import? 50%/ 40%? Or none? If the NNPC still imports let’s say 40%. How much will it sell that cheaper fuel for? N85.60? N100? Or N135? If it is sold at the new lower limit of N135, does this mean Kachikwu plans for the FGN to make a killing off of Nigerians in hardship?

5, When the NNPC imports fuel, will 100% of fuel it imported using the CBN dollar rate of N197, be sold at NNPC stations at less than N100/liter? if not, how will corruption not be enhanced just like Diezani’s days with Kachikwu and Godwin’s friends and other fuel marketer cabal not selling same CBN rate imported fuel at 50% profit from private stations? is this not the same subsidy corruption now a dollar disparity corruption?

6, Why did Godwin Emefiele not release enough dollars for Kachikwu to import the demanded fuel so there was no artificial scarcity all along? Was this Godwin’s choice or Kachikwu’s?

7,  Will the NNPC stop importing fuel all together so there are no two drastically different, corrupting prices and corruption is prevented will all suppliers needing to get dollars from the black market?

8, Godwin Emefiele this January promised Dangote unfettered access to CBN dollars for his private $14 billion refinery. Other big business cabal also have been promised dollars as Buhari told Al Jazeera. Whereas small businesses are the largest employers, employing 70% of labour; but they do not have access to CBN dollars. Why is Nigeria’s dollars being given/why are the big cabal being subsidized with CBN billions of dollars while the last benefit the masses get, a paltry $3 billion forex/annum used to import our fuel, is now taken away?

9, According to Nigeria’s constitution, the CBN regulates the forex rate for the banks. Why is the illegality of banks operating now as black markets with unregulated rates, being catapulted by another illegality: the supply of PMS to the masses based on government promoted black market dollar sourcing?

10, Are the following solutions:

  1. Devaluing the naira to prevent the corruption of the dual fuel import rates;
  1. Redirecting dollars from Dangote and other cabal’s private businesses for the importation of adequate PMS to save and serve the masses or;
  1. Cancelling all NNPC CBN 197 rate based import of PMS to allow a single black market based rate; not all more legitimate solutions in the best interest of Nigerians?

The current system without a doubt was imposed by the cabal. With the system as announced, the friends of Kachikwu and Godwin Emefiele will again amass billions as did the friends of Diezani. I wonder if Nigeria has not had enough of this already.

 

Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Fuel Subsidy Removal: A Gift to Nigerians; By Yusuf Umar Ogbanwo

The president Muhammadu Buhari resolve to remove subsidy on fuel has been met with approval from many quarters even as the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) has described it as a gift to Nigerians.
According to a statement issued by CESJET’s Executive Secretary, Comrade Ikpa Isaac in Abuja today, the removal of the subsidy will put a lasting end to the incessant fuel crisis which have put the nation and innocent citizens at the mercy of a certain cabal.
“Different revelations have emerged of massive fraud in the fuel subsidy process, trillions of naira are alleged to have been fraudulently stolen from the government purse in the name of fuel subsidy payments. It is heart wrenching to discover that the country is being bleed on the side despite its already anemic financial status”. He lamented.
Comrade Ikpa said the deregulation of the downstream sector will open up the sector to private investors who hitherto developed cold feet to investing in the sector due to heavy government interference.
He said, the removal of subsidy will not only break the cabal but also encourage  those who have had refining licenses approved several years ago to go ahead to build the refineries.
Speaking further on the benefits of subsidy removal, Ikpa added that this will tackle the incessant scarcity of petrol due to importation and also the spring up of petrochemical industries alongside local refining to create jobs.
CESJET while highlighting the economic  benefits of the subsidy removal said the move will save the economy the unnecessary pressure put on the Naira due to the heavy demand for FOREX to fund the importation of petroleum products rather we will be exporting refined petroleum products thereby earning foreign currencies to shore up our reserves.
He however likened the subsidy removal to the telecom revolution which according to him had freed the sector of unwarranted setbacks.
“It is time we do the next big thing after the great telecoms revolution that came with the liberalization of the sector in the early 2000s. We predict that the boom economy will experience with the deregulation of the downstream oil sector will make the telecoms experience a child’s play”. It declared.
Meanwhile CESJET has condemned the continuous spending of over 1 trillion Naira on subsidies and called on the government to remain resolute in its decision to remove subsidy.
“Nigeria in the last five years  has consistently spent over 1 trillion naira that is about $5b USD  annually on petrol subsidies, same country that spent less than 20 billion naira on roads  in the year 2015, but spent over 1 trillion naira on petrol subsidies in same year is unacceptable. It is on this backdrop that we proudly demand that no group or persons should distract the Buhari led administration from saving the nation from thus canker worm”. He said.
[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Nigerians Using Herdsmen Attacks to Incite Religious Crisis – Onaiyekan

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan See, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, on Saturday said many Nigerians were now using the recent herdsmen attacks to fan embers of religious battle, discord and hatred among fellow citizens.

Onaiyekan stated this while unveiling a N300 million skill acquisitions and humanitarian centre, tagged Marian Soup Kitchen in Abuja. The centre was initiated by the priest of the Holy Cross Catholic Church Gwarinpa, Rev. Dr. Willy Ojukwu.

The Cardinal told the gathering that the rise of herdsmen attacks had continued to fuel division, hatred and religious tension in the country, with severe consequences for the nation.

“There is a terrible wind blowing around our country right now. There are so many people who are fanning the flames of discord and of hatred and it is becoming very difficult to preach unity and mutual natural love and there are those who are already envisaging a clash between Christians and Muslims.
“There are those who are interpreting the clash between herdsmen and farmers as the front line of this battle. Some are sharpening their cutlasses getting ready for the big battle,” Onaiyekan said.

He said: “Concerning the herdsmen, everybody knows what government should do because one of the primary duties of government is to ensure security of life and property of all Nigerians; which means that where you have any group of people, whether they are herdsmen or kidnappers, or armed robbers, government should device ways of effectively checkmating them.”
He explained that even in the midst of this quagmire, there are still exceptional cases. “Thanks be to God there are many Nigerians who believe that we are not doomed to kill one another and that there is hope for us to live together as fellow Nigerians.

“We have done it for many years. Despite the civil war, we have lived together and the civil war in any case was not a war between Christians and Muslims. We have proved to the whole world that we can live together,” Onaiyekan added.
He further stated, “I will go all over the world boasting of this, telling them that in Nigeria, we have not less than 80 million Christians, 80 million Muslims, living side by side, day by day at every level of our lives, from the Executive Council meetings in Aso Villa down to the women in Wuse market. We must live together because nobody has anything to gain in conflicts, confusion and differences. Despite our differences, there is something common that we share.

“What the Sultan and I have been preaching all along is that the things that we have in common are much more important than the things that divide us. Even in doctrine, to believe that there is one God, that is something great. Only a few mad people will tell us that the God of Christians is different from the God of the Muslims.

“To believe in this one God, that is something great. When we suffered Ebola disease outbreak in Nigeria, there was no Christian Ebola or Muslim Ebola. We all faced it together. When we suffered from corruption and bad government, is it as if Christians are not concerned, only Muslim? Or, Muslims are not concerned, only Christians?

“Among the thieves, there are Christians and Muslims. And among all of us who are suffering it are Christians and Muslims. We have a common task to insist on good government, to insist also on honesty in government. To do this, we must come together and fix our common challenges”, he added.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, represented by the Executive Secretary, Abuja National Mosque Management Board, Alhaji Ibrahim Jega, said government should do more for the less privileged, adding that Islam will never teach violence, insurgency and wanton killings.

Jega urged the youth to shun violence and stick to the teachings of both faiths. He further encouraged the youths to make good use of the centre and also appealed to the management of Marian Soup Kitchen to make the centre as active and accessible as possible to the less privileged which is the core purpose for setting up the centre.

On his part, Ojukwu contended that “religion should not separate but unite us, hence, the promotion of inter-religious harmony from the grassroots. We should be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, hence the feeding of the hungry, counseling the downtrodden and giving hope to the hopeless from all segments of the society”.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Herdsmen or Arms-men, How Safe Are Nigerians? By Obayomi Abiola Benjamin

Some few days ago, the residents of Uzo Uwani local government area of Enugu State, Nigeria woke up to the sights of dead men and women scattered all over the place. Those lifeless bodies had been killed in their sleep by the Fulani Herdsmen, as reported in the morning by those fortunate ones who had escaped the onslaught. Traditionally and historically, the Fulani herdsmen are Fulani men who are predominantly herders and pastoralists, and are often seen parading their cattle in search of grazing pasture. The Fula people or Fulani or Ful?e are one of the largest ethno linguistic groups in Africa, numbering more than 40 million people in total. They form one of the most widely dispersed and culturally diverse of the peoples of Africa. They are bound together by the common language of Fulfulde, as well as by some basic elements of Fulbe culture, such as the pulaaku, a code of conduct common to all Fulani groups. Cattle, goat and sheep trading are their primary source of income and occupation. Their wealth and riches are often measured by the size of their cattle, being the most treasured animal they herd.

From the happenings lately, it appears that the Fulani herdsmen have taken up some other new trade. Their murderous adventure and kidnappings recently have gone unnoticed, which has left many Nigerians wondering when this would end. Innocent farmers have mostly been recorded to be their victims. The unending tussle between Nigerian farmers and Fulani herdsmen have been ravaging over the years with no end in sight. The brawl usually begins when the former invade community farmland with their cattle and let them graze unrestricted both on cultivated and uncultivated land thereby destroying valuable food and cash crops which are the source of livelihood of the host communities. When the communities try to resist them and request their exit, the Fulani herdsmen become violent and attack the community. There mode of operation usually is to attack farming communities at the time they are mostly vulnerable such as midnight, kill both women and children and maim others; burning houses and looting properties.

The Fulani herdsmen have been reputed to be the fourth deadliest group in the world. This rating alone is enough to set Nigeria security agencies on their toes. To better worsen the situation is the fact that the Fulani herdsmen are in operation in almost every nook and cranny of the country. Unlike the Boko haram sects whose sphere of operation was limited to the North eastern parts of the country alone, these herdsmen are everywhere in the North, South, East and West of the nation. For instance, these herdsmen of the Fulani descent have been linked with the recent violence in Agatu community, a local government in Benue state, the kidnapping of a foremost Yoruba statesman Chief Olu Falae in his home state of Ondo in the South western part of Nigeria, the attack on the residents of Angai and Ndole villages in Gashak Local council area of Taraba state where those escaped the attack fled to neighboring communities in the Republic of Cameroun. Enugu and Imo states respectively were also not left out in the spread of the Fulani herdsmen killing spree, and the incessant Plateau state crises have also been linked to these herdsmen unruly and uncontrollable behavior.

How safe then are those Nigerians in the different farming communities spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria? At this point, there is no dispute about the fact that the situation is becoming a giant monster of some sort. The situation is becoming worse by the day and it appears the government is not responding well with the utmost urgency that the situation demands. How many more Nigerians are going to die before the government takes the necessary steps? A Fulani herdsman with loaded gun, a machete and staff in his hands to direct his cattle is no doubt going to descend on any opposition without any compassion. President Muhammadu Buhari must do something very drastic to arrest this situation before it becomes a total menace like the boko haram sect. As much as agriculture is good, and the government at every level is encouraging it, it can however not be practiced under a tense situation and an unfavorable clime like it is happening right now with the farming communities and the herdsmen in Nigeria.

In some other countries of the world, cattle farmers do not move their animals around in search of grazing fields and water as it done here in Nigeria, and there has not been any record that those countries ran out of meat consumption at any point in time or they are short of meat consumption and therefore need to import meats from other nations of the world. It then means that there is something working for them in this regard that our leaders can learn from and put in place here to permanently end these incessant conflicts between farmers and herdsmen in Nigeria. For instance, there are pastoral leases in full operation in New Zealand and Australia that designates the extent of state or government owned lands that pastoral farmers can graze. What these countries do is to have large grazing reserves for cattle farmers and those farmers are not expected at any point or the other to graze outside of these reserves. The President’s resolve to put this place will go a long way in ensuring some form of peace between the farming communities and Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.

Apart from the fact that the government should earmark a grazing reserve, the government should also ensure that the activities of these herdsmen are highly regulated and adequately monitored. This they can do by maintaining a register of all those who are herdsmen in different parts of Nigeria, and those who intends to go into such businesses, whether they are Nigerians or foreigners. By so doing, the government can keep a tab on different activities of herdsmen across the country, their movements and who causes what conflicts in any community at every point in time. It cannot be totally incorrect that some of these herdsmen may have migrated from neighboring countries of Chad and the likes, but proper registration would help out in this area. Some form of orientation could also be given to these herdsmen informing them of the disadvantages of destroying food and cash crops. This could be done through the National Orientation Agency and in collaboration with the state governments and all these herdsmen various associations.

Thank you for reading.

Obayomi Abiola Benjamin @abibeo_oba

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

BMSG Seeks Nigerians’ Suppport To End Pipeline Vandalisation

The Buhari Media Support Group (BMSG) implores Nigerians to throw their support behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in its determination to rid the nation of pipeline vandals.

The BMSG condemns in totality the unpatriotic activities of some persons who have taken it upon themselves to cause pain to all Nigerians by blowing up pipelines supplying gas to the power projects.

The BMSG notes that this  economic sabotage leads to power outages across the country with its attendant hardship on the entire nation. It is regrettable that despite the federal Government’s efforts at stabilizing power, some persons have continued to sabotage these efforts.

The BMSG urges all Nigerians to lend their support to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the measures it is taking to safeguard Nigeria’s critical infrastructure including the oil and gas pipelines.

The BMSG  calls on the perpetrators of these heinous acts to desist henceforth and seek peaceful ways of addressing their grievances. We call for dialogue, rather than some persons resorting to damaging the economic life wire of the nation under any guise or pretence.

The BMSG believes that further damage to the pipelines will lead to further degradation of the environment in the Niger Delta and appeals to the perpetrators to key into President Buhari’s ‘’change” agenda aimed at bringing development to all Nigerians.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Dogara Tasks Nigerians To Imbibe Attitudinal Change, Tells Politicians That “Only God Gives Power”

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has called on Nigerians to have a change in attitude and orientation for the country to make progress even as the nation is passing through challenging times.

Dogara said if Nigeria is to witness significant improvement in quality of leadership and governance, then citizens must change for the better as leaders are recruited from among them.

The Speaker made the call on Saturday, during a thanks giving service organised by Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba at ECWA Church, Chigwa, Kaduna state, according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Turaki Hassan.

Dogara maintained that while Nigerians expect leaders to live higher standards of life as role models, the followers must also know that leaders are recruited from among them.

He charged Nigerians to, as a matter of necessity, show higher standards of conduct even as they expect same from their leaders.

“There are always expectations from citizens for leaders to show a higher standard of behaviour. Obviously, it is good that those who call themselves leaders must always aspire to maintain higher standards, but what is wrong with the narrative especially in Nigeria is that in most cases, citizens expect that only leaders must live above board.”

“This nation can only make progress if all the citizens and leaders resolve that in their daily undertakings they will maintain the best of standards. This is because the leadership recruitment process is such that leaders always emerge from the people.”

He admonished politicians to put their trust in God because “power comes from  God, victory comes from God, and no one, no matter how powerful he/she is can give you power.”

The Speaker, who described Hon. Jagaba as an excellent leader in the House, also commended him for his credible representation and always being in the centre of activities in the green chamber.

He also called on Nigerians to return their elected representatives to office during elections because lawmakers do well with experience.

In his testimony, Hon. Jagaba urged Nigerians to eschew religious and ethnic sentiments which have divided the country for decades.

He said the electorate should rather lay emphasis on individual character and not political party affiliation and revealed that he has forgiven all those who plotted evil against him in the 2015 general elections.

In his sermon, ECWA President Reverend, Dr. Jerimiah Gado, said by design God created and saved humanity to live a life of gratitude, service, praise and worship in accordance with the book of Revelations 4:11.

The Speaker was accompanied by Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, Senator Binta Garba, Deputy Minority Leader Buba Jibril, Minority Whip Yakubu Barde and scores of members of the House of Representatives.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Rights Groups Condemns Extra Judicial Killing Of 14 Nigerians In Cross River By The Police

The attention of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD) has been drawn to a case of extra judicial murder of 6 Nigerians in Calabar, Cross River State by 14 officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force who had since been dismissed from service.
A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLING OF DEREK MAURICE BEN & 5 OTHERS AS GIVEN BY THE MOTHER OF DEREK IS PRESENTED BELOW:
The trial of the 14 dismissed policemen is ongoing in charge no. Hc/2c/2016 between:
The State Vs: 1. Horsfall Minafuro, 2. Etim Anoke, 3. ASP Ewa Rapheal, 4. Gershom Isotuk, 5. Anyin Gregory, 6. Lawrence Egbe, 7. Okidi Akpokabowei, 8. Anthony Idoko, 9. Okey Oyama, 10. Unyime Jumbo, 11. Edidiong Jeremiah, 12. Atari Micheal, 13. Patrick Koke, 14. Erienekpe Fineman (Accused persons/dismissed police officers)
One Mrs. Eno Maurice Enang, the mother of late Mr Derek Maurice Ben, informed us as follows:
1. That her son until his untimely death was 21 years old and a 300 level Accounting Student of the University of Calabar, Cross River State, and was allegedly murdered by a police officer by name Sgt. Anthony Idoko and his cohorts and that Derek was not of questionable character and had no criminal record. Derek was only a year old when he lost his father.
2. That Sgt. Anthony Idoko before his dismissal from the police force was attached to the SARS in Cross River State and was her family friend.
3. However, trouble started when Mr Idoko’s wife who had just put to birth sometime ago was no longer seen only for Mr Idoko to bring in another woman into his house. That people in the neighbourhood became apprehensive about the whereabout of Idoko’s wife and child and the sudden arrival of another woman.
4.That the Church of Christ where her family and Mr Idoko do fellowship decided to investigate the matter. The Church later excommunicated and dis-fellowship Mr Idoko following his inability to account for the whereabout of his wife and new born baby, and sudden cohabitation with another woman. That Idoko accused her of reporting him to the Church and failing to protect him from being excommunicated. He stopped visiting her house and started threatening to deal with her and her children.
It should be noted that till date, the whereabout of Idoko’s wife and child remains a mystery.
5. That on the 16th day of April, 2014, Derek was picked up by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and detained. In the night of the same day or soon thereafter, he was called out from the SARS cell by then Sgt. Anthony Idoko with 5 other inmates who were arrested with him and summarily executed.
It should be noted that there were eye witnesses inside the cell who saw when Idoko called out Derek from the cell (whom he identified and asked what he had done). The witnesses who were at the time inmates at the SARS cell idenfied Idoko when Idoko and the 13 other dismissed police officers were paraded for identification.
6. The 6 victims summarily executed includes; (1) Derek Ben; (2) a young graduate who had just finished serving the country in the NYSC; (3) another young man who had been shortlisted for recruitment by the DSS; (4) the taxi driver and two others.
7. That one of the dismissed policemen, ASP Horsefall Minafuro, the then O/C SARS in Cross River State, voluntarily confessed that it was himself and 13 of his officers (including Anthony Idoko) who murdered her poor fatherless child and 5 others in cold blood. It was also revealed that his body was sold to the Anatomy Department of the University of Calabar to dissect for academic purposes. At the Anatomy Department, corpses (cadaver) of several other young Nigerians were seen which may have also been supplied by them.
8. The six people murdered that night were all shot in the same position within the heart region with matchet cuts and wounds either on the face, ankle, head and neck – a clear case of brutal summary execution.
9. Derek was shot three times in the chest/heart. This can never be as a result of any encounter, but rather an organized murder.
10. That Anthony Idoko had previously attempted to assassinate her two children, before Derek was subsequently murdered, because according to him, she was responsible for his excommunication from the Church.
11. That on the 9th of February, 2016, Gershom Ishotuk, one of the dismissed policemen currently standing trial for the murder, subjected a star witness in the ongoing trial to a search within the court premises with the full assistance of a serving policeman who escorted them to the court and the attention of the trial Judge was drawn to the incident.
12. That Okidi Akpokabowei, another dismissed police officer/accused person in the case, subjected a brother to one of the 6 victims they also murdered that night (the taxi driver) to a thorough search with the assistance of serving policemen. The phone of the brother to the late taxi driver was seized by the policemen within the court premises.
13. That several other witnesses have been threatened and harassed on many occasions by serving policemen in the Cross River State Police Command who are overtly sympathetic to their dismissed colleagues with utter impunity.
The Coalition of Human Rights Defenders is particularly alarmed that the trial Judge, Hon. Justice Ogpojo Ogar of the High Court of Cross River State (Court 4), on the 6th of April, 2016, unexpectedly granted bail to all the 14 accused persons who have already been dismissed from the police force for the murder of Derek and 5 others after an in-house (room) trial despite the serious nature of the offence; the evidence which the Judge himself admitted in open court to be weighty; the persistent threats to witnesses which the court is very aware of, and other troubling circumstances.
It is worrisome that the Cross River State Judiciary is not mindful of the potential risks the release of the accused persons pending their trial, poses to the witnesses and the society in general.
COHRD has equally been informed that the accused persons were first arraigned before Hon. Justice Michael Edem of Cross River High Court (Court 2). The Judge we are told, had shown a suspicious interest in first hearing bail applications for the accused persons on the day of their arraignment and adjourned for few days for ruling on the bail applications. However, the Chief Judge of Cross River State intervened and reassigned the case to Justice Ogpojo Ogar following public outcry.
It is worthy of note that Justice Ashwu Ewa of the Cross River State High Court is the elder brother to one of the dismissed policemen, Mr Raphael Ewa. We demand that the said Judge should be thoroughly investigated for his alleged interference with the course of justice in the case.
COHRD has been informed that before the accused persons were arraigned in court, Justice Ewa had made frantic efforts to secure the release of his brother participated in the execution of Derek & 5 others from police custody.
Following persistent pressures from the Judge, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in Charge of Zone 6 in Calabar, ordered that the Judge’s younger brother, Raphael Ewa, and two other dismissed officers (Etim Anoke and Horsfall Minafuro) be separated from the rest of the accused persons and transferred from their cell(s) in Calabar to the Akwa Ibom State Police Command, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo.
Justice Ewa we are told, felt slighted by the action of the AIG and boasted to some persons that except his brother and the other accused persons are not tried in Cross River State, the case will never see the light of day.
We also note with consternation that the 14 dismissed policemen/accused persons, were NEVER remanded in prison custody pending their trial. Instead, they were remanded in police custody before being granted bail on the 6th of April, 2016 – in a capital offence of murder.
In the light of the foregoing, we at the COHRD demand as follows:
1. That the Cross River State Judiciary should be mindful of the fact that the human rights community is following this case with interest.
2. That Justice Ashwu Ewa, who is the elder brother to one of the dismissed policemen, Raphael Ewa, be thoroughly investigated for his alleged interference with the course of justice in this case.
3. That the witnesses in the case be given appropriate and adequate protection by the police authorities and that disciplinary measures be taken against serving police officers found to have aided the accused persons in intimidating and harassing witnesses.
4. We urge the trial Judge to revoke the bail the of accused persons and extricate himself from every conceivable external or fraternal pressures and dispense justice without fear or favour.
5. We call on the Government of Cross River State and the Attorney General of Cross River State to see to the diligent prosecution of this case.
6. We appeal to media and the civil society to follow this case to its logical conclusion.
Finally, we wish to state that though it is not within our powers at COHRD to determine the culpability of any of the 14 accused persons, we take firm solace in the epochal pronouncement of the Supreme Court of Nigeria Per OPUTA, JSC. (as he then was), in the celebrated case of Josiah v. State (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt.1) p. 125 at 141 where his Lordship espoused the concept of justice as it relates to a criminal case thus:
“And justice is not a one-way traffic. It is not justice for the appellant only. Justice is not even only a two-way traffic. It is really a three-way traffic – justice for the appellant accused of a heinous crime of murder; justice for the victim, the murdered man, the deceased, “whose blood is crying to heaven for vengeance” and finally justice for the society at large – the society whose social norms and values had been desecrated and broken by the criminal act complained of. It is certainly in the interest of justice that the truth of this case should be known and that if the appellant is properly tried and found guilty, that he should be punished. That justice which seeks only to protect the appellant will not be even handed justice. It will not even be justice tempered with mercy.” – PER OPUTA, JSC, of blessed memory.
Injury to one, is injury to all.
SIGNED:
Inibehe Effiong Esq.
Convener – 08065142135
Fejiro Oliver – Co-Convener
Comr. Eneh John
Secretary
April 14, 2016
Email: cohrdnigeria@yahoo.com
[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

I Feel Your Pains, Buhari Tells Nigerians… Says ‘I’ll Not Disappoint You’

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday told Nigerians that he was feeling their pains saying that mutterings about the new administration being a scam was far fetched, saying that the one-chance scammers have been driven out of town.

The president spoke at the Vanguard Personality Award ceremony in Lagos where he was jointly honoured with his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Personality of the Year Award, 2015.

Buhari’s call for increased confidence in his administration came as Jonathan praised all Nigerians for contributing to the successes of the elections that characterised his time in office.

In his speech, President Buhari who was represented by the minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me use this opportunity to tell our compatriots that this Administration is keenly aware of the difficulties they are facing at this time, resulting mostly from the fuel scarcity, poor power supply, inflation etc.

“As a government that was propelled into office by the power of the people, we cannot but feel the pains of our compatriots, and we deeply empathise with them. We are working round the clock to ease the pains of Nigerians, and the efforts of the government have started yielding fruits as we seek to make the petroleum products available nationwide, restore gas supply to the power generating firms, reflate the economy and put Nigerians back to work.

“We understand that Nigerians have started questioning whether this indeed is the CHANGE they voted for, while some have even gone as far as saying that by voting for our party, Nigerians have entered one chance.

“Well, I can tell Nigerians that our CHANGE AGENDA is real, and that indeed, they will get the change they voted for. Nigerians have not entered One Chance, because the One Chance drivers and their conductors have been driven out of town.

“While we cannot but provide context for the challenges being faced by our countrymen and women today, in the sense that it has taken years of mismanagement, corruption and inefficiency to get to this sorry pass, we make no excuses. After all the people voted for us so we can correct the mistakes of the past and enthrone good governance. We are doing just that. But we want our compatriots to realize that 16 years of rot cannot be cleaned up overnight. It is much easier to destroy than to build. But we are determined to rebuild our country and to make life more abundant for our people.

“Change is a process, and that process has begun. We commend Nigerians for their perseverance. We urge them not to lose their confidence in the ability of this Administration to bring about the much-needed change.

The pains of today are temporary, and will soon give way to abundance joy as we put our country firmly on the path of sustainable growth and development.” The president also lauded what he described as the salutary role of the media in the development of the country’s democracy.

 

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Nigerians On Social Media Want Embattled Nigeria Senate President Bukola Saraki To Resign Over Corruption Trial

The trial against Senate President Bukola Saraki began at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja on Tuesday. Legal proceedings against the embattled Senate President have resumed following numerous rulings against him at both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

As the trial commenced, SaharaReporters conducted a Twitter poll asking Nigerians whether or not Mr. Saraki should resign.

An overwhelming 74 percent said the Senate President should step down, while only 12 percent said he should not. Another 14 percent said they did not care. Over 3000 Twitter users participated in the poll.

Mr. Saraki’s social media woes did not stop there. In a questionable move, the Senate President made posts on his Facebook and Twitter pages saying he was “happy that the trial has commenced.”

The posts elicited hundreds of negative responses from Nigerian social media users.

Many pointed out that if Mr. Saraki were truly “happy” about the trial beginning, he wouldn’t have gone through so much effort to stall it.

“So you take us for fools. You are glad for a trial you frustrated for 8 months? A trial you challenged even after the Supreme Court deemed it valid? A trial you wanted “deferred” earlier today? I pray that you get convicted, lose your Senate seat, and get prosecuted by the EFCC,” Nura Alkali said on Facebook.

Tahir Abubakar challenged the Senate President, “Oh really? If you had wanted the trial to commence, why have you been running from it for the past six months?”

Other users alluded to the Panama Papers and the resignation of Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, saying that the Nigerian Senate President could be the leak’s next victim.

“My friend, please resign honorably. I saw you as a respected gentleman until Panama released the names of global thieves of which you are among,” said Alloysius Phayrouz Chukwu on Facebook.

Jakada Awwal Abba said, “The Prime Minister of Iceland, S.  Gunnlaugsson, has resigned from public office over the Panama Papers leak. Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who has equally been linked to the Panama Papers, has not resigned, despite his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for corruption.”

Some users said that they had been supporters of Mr. Saraki, but his efforts to adjourn the trial made them reevaluate their views.

“I am a big supporter of you, but the moment you started coming up with different means to stall the trial, I started thinking you had things to hide. If you are innocent of these charges, face it and let the judiciary rule so that we can all move on as a country,” Obe Lateef Oluwaseun posted.

At the time of reporting, the trial is being delayed until April 18 due to an electrical problem at the courthouse in Abuja.

Other Facebook users posted the following reactions:

Source: SaharaReporters

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

FG May Prosecute Nigerian Public Officials Named In #PanamaPapers Leak

There are indications that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), may prosecute Nigerian public officials named in the Panama Papers leak.

So far, four Nigerians namely Senate President Bukola Saraki, his predecessor David Mark (pictured), former minister of defence Theophilus Danjuma, and former governor of Delta state James Ibori have been named in the leaks with more named expected in the coming days.

Those named so far held public offices at different times.

According to TheCable, presidency sources said that the attorney-general will consider the next line of action as more facts emerge.

“For now, no government official is going to comment because it is too early in the day,” the official said, adding that prosecution is a “possibility”.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana in an interview with the cable said that while there is nothing wrong in owning offshore investments, Nigerian public officials named in the leaks will have to explain their source of wealth.

“It is not a crime to move your wealth to tax havens, we must be clear on that,” he said.

“However, Nigerian public officers named in the leaked papers will have a lot of explaining to do.

“One, they have to justify the assets traced to them in these offshore investments. Did they earn the money legitimately? Two, did they declare those assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau when in public office as required by the law? The Code of Conduct Act came into operation in the 1980s, so it is not a recent law.”

Falana said under the law, there is neither statute of limitation nor exemption for any public officer.

“The issue of trusteeship or blind trust does not arise because it is not known to the code of conduct law. The law also makes it clear that you cannot operate a foreign account,” he said.

 

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]