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How Benue Residents Depend On Shallow Pits For Contaminated Drinking Water

Some communities in Benue States have been coping with the hardship of scarcity of water as residents have to dig shallow pits to get dirty water for drinking and domestic purposes.
One of such communities is Agasha where a significant number of residents depend on a shallow well dug in a swamp beside the dried-up river for residents to get water, The Cable reports. 

The newspaper reports that the locals have to queue up daily with several sizes of bowls and basins to fetch.
“Every day I come here and see the water dried up, it makes me cry,” said an old woman addressed as Mama.
“Now, not only do we use dirty water, it is not enough for everyone. To have water at all for your daily usage, you will have to wake up around 3 am to join a long queue.”
“And when that happens, we usually fall back on swampy areas for water. That’s where diseases like the one that made me blind come from,” said James, an elderly resident of Agasha.
Mike Igber, chairman of the water, sanitation and hygiene committee (WASHCom) in Agasha, said the military once donated a hand pump borehole to the community but it stopped working “a long time ago” and that no attempt has been made to fix it.
“The saddest tale is that no state government in the last 50 years has ever done anything about the community’s water dearth,” said Igber.

Like it is in Agasha, the river in Ipaav, Gboko LGA, once served the community, but these days, it has dried up and the residents have dug a makeshift well in a swamp around the area. Although the water is unclean, residents have no choice but to use it for their daily needs.

Joseph Agibee Terlumun, the community spokesperson said it was disheartening watching the residents drink the water.
“I was born in this community just as my father was. Though, I wouldn’t know how long (old) this community is; but I can state categorically that I have never seen any government agencies here,” he said.
“It is only during electioneering when some of them will send their boys to come and give us things like seasonings and salt just to vote for them.
According to this publication, in Oye-Obi, a community in the 66Oju local government area, which is surrounded by rivers on every side, water scarcity is not a problem. But while water is always available, the River Obi which the community relies on is permanently unclean; it is dirty and has an offensive smell.

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Regardless of the state of the water, residents are always at the river bank to scoop some for their daily use.

“Ours is now like a community that has never been a part of Benue state or this whole country,” says 72-year-old Abraham Ogbu Ijih.
“Our lives are now marked by abject poverty and poor living conditions. We are surrounded by water and forest on every side. Yet, we are thirsty with no access to clean water.”
Ijih, a visually impaired man who has lived in Oye all his life, said he lost his wife and children to a “water epidemic” in 2020.
“I went blind six years ago. I wasn’t blind from childhood. But in 2020, I lost my wife and three children to water impurities. There was a period in this community where a water epidemic killed about 273 people according to our communal records,” the former rice farmer said.
Clement Onaa, chairman of Oju LGA, acknowledged the water problems in the communities but said there has been some intervention from the state and federal governments.

“We are working in collaboration with the state government and the federal ministry of water resources and environmental sanitation and we have recorded some level of intervention,” he said.
“Some of those interventions include the provision of solar-powered motorised boreholes to the people of Oye-Obi. The community had water pollution sometime ago and part of the interventions was to ameliorate their plight of bad water.
“Waters in our place are always recharged with rainfall and whenever there is no rainfall, the volume of water reduces.”
Onaa called on the state and Nigerian government to provide more boreholes to the affected communities.
In Otobi community located in Otukpo LGA, there are shallow wells dug on both sides of the road. And despite the milky colour of the water, children are always found around them; excited to fill their basins and pots to the brim.
Richard Inalegwu, a resident of the community, said they have no functioning borehole, adding that all the residents drink from the same place, save for those who don’t mind walking long distances to some neighbouring communities that have boreholes.

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“When it comes to drinkable water, we don’t have options. It’s either you drink the water or not, since I was born and have been living in this community,” he said.
Rachel Agbenu, another resident who had a heap of dirty clothes to wash, said: “The scarcity of water is worrisome. My family has not been able to wash our clothes for the past three weeks because there is no water. We have even reused some of our dirty clothes.
“Just to drink water, we often go to a nearby community a little far from here. Even at that, the water is not always clean and people are always too mamy there, and there is never enough water to go round everyone.
“Sometimes, we spend nights there.”


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Lagos Police Say Two Pupils Died, 12 Injured In Tuesday’s Truck Accident

The Lagos State Police Command has said two students of Bab Fafunwa Millennium School, in Ojodu, Lagos, were killed by a truck driver, Bolaji Kabiru, on Tuesday

The truck driver knocked down the students after school hours, leading to a protest by their angry colleagues. 

There had been reports that 15 to 17 students were killed in the accident but the state police command has dismissed that. 

The Command’s Public Relations Officer, CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, debunked the double figure casualty figure in a statement titled, ‘Fatal Motor/Pedestrians Accident At Ojodu Involving Students’.

The statement read in part, “As a result of the accident, two males died on the spot, seven females and five males totalling twelve victims sustained varying degrees of injuries

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“Traffic personnel from the Motor Traffic Department of the Ojodu Police Division immediately visited the scene. Corpses of the dead students (identities not yet known) were evacuated with the support of officers of the FRSC (Federal Road Safety Corps) and were deposited at the Morgue of the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, for autopsy.

“The injured victims were taken to God’s Apple City Hospital, Ojodu Berger; St. Michael Hospital, Ojodu; and the Lagos State Emergency Hospital, Toll Gate.”

The police had earlier announced the arrest of the driver, identified as Kabiru. 

Reacting to the protest that followed the accident during which some students burnt the truck and some other vehicles, Ajisebutu said, “They also attacked the Ojodu Police Station in their large number, demanding the release of the driver for jungle justice

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“However, when their demand was not met, they became violent. In the process, they destroyed four vehicles parked in the premises of the police station and another mobile truck on the highway.

“To avoid total breakdown of law and order, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, immediately ordered the deployment of policemen comprising tactical teams, Rapid Response Squad and others to the scene to maintain law and order.

“The protesters were professionally dispersed with minimum force without resulting to any further injury.” 


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Omicron: Vaccination Cards, Others Now Needed To Attend Social Events In Lagos—Governor Sanwo-Olu

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has said residents must present their COVID-19 vaccination cards as a prerequisite to attending social gatherings in the state. 

The governor also released guidelines for social events and gatherings during the Christmas season, saying, “All Social Events must be duly registered to obtain Event Safety Clearance from the Lagos State Safety Commission website prior to holding; and the guidelines set out below must be strictly adhered to.”

Sanwo-Olu disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday as the outbreak of the Omicron COVID-19 variant continues to spread. 

He lamented the procurement of COVID-19 test results by intending outbound air passengers, describing it as worrisome. 

He said, “This is a very worrisome trend for us to note and we are currently working with the NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control), DSS (Department of State Services) and the police to investigate and bring to book the criminal gangs involved in this reprehensible activity.

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“Our State Mobile Courts will be used to prosecute all those involved in flouting the regulations; as well as those engaged in the fraudulent production of fake covid test results and vaccination certificates.” 

Regarding the new guidelines for social events and gatherings during the Christmas season, Sanwo-Olu said, “Occupancy limit at any event must not exceed 60% of maximum design capacity of the event centre.

“Every attendee of a social gathering MUST present their Vaccination Cards or digital bar code page showing at least first dose but preferably double dose full vaccination.

“In unvaccinated people, a negative PCR within 72 hours will be an exemption.

“Everybody, irrespective of vaccination status, MUST be subject to Rapid Diagnostic test (Antigen) to be conducted AT THE EVENT VENUE OR within 24hrs prior to the event at designated laboratories. (Request for rapid tests at the venue requires an application through the Safety Commission).

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“Under 18 years of age are unvaccinated and the above applies.

“Guests and service providers with high temperature (above 37.5) are to be politely turned back and referred to paramedics or the emergency response team on ground.

“All guests and service providers at the event must wear a nose mask or face shield before entry.

“All guests and service providers must endeavour to wash their hands before entering the venue or use hand sanitisers after which temperature checks should be carried out.

“Hand sanitisers to be positioned at the entry point and different spots within the venue.”


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Couple, Two Others Killed As Nigerian University Students Organise Car Racing Contest

A couple and two students have been killed during a car racing contest embarked upon by some students of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.

According to Daily Trust, the incident occurred around 9pm at Ijalala Junction on Monday inside the university campus when the couples were heading home.

The wife was a non-teaching staff of the university from the Faculty of Communication and Information Science (CIS) whose name was given as Mrs Shakirat, while her husband was said to be a shuttle bus operator within the university.

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The accident involved a Toyota Lexus Saloon, the bus and another car driven by another student who is presently at large.

It was learnt that the Toyota Lexus had a head-on collision with the bus resulting in the death of the couple, the driver of the Lexus and another student inside.

The other vehicle they raced with and students inside are still at large.

A National Youth Service Corps member and another student inside the bus were said to have sustained injuries.

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A joint release by the president and public relations officer of the university’s Students Union Government (SUG), Toafiq Waliu Opeyemi and Olabode Stephen Opeyemi, respectively, said the unfortunate incident happened as a result of excessive speeding.

The University in a statement by the Director of Corporate Affairs, Kunle Akogun, in a statement, said that the management received the news with sadness.

“We hereby enjoin all vehicle users to strictly abide by traffic rules and regulations, especially as they concern speed limits,” the statement added.


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N13billion Fraud: Anti-graft Agency, EFCC Files Charges Against Ex-Army Chief, Minimah, Two Generals

A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah (retd), has been charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly diverting N13billion earmarked to acquire arms.

Others listed as defendants in the charge filed by the anti-graft agency lodged before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, are a one-time Chief of Accounts and Budget of the Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. A. O. Adetayo, as well as the former Director, Finance and Accounts of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier Gen. R. I. Odi.

According to the Vanguard, EFCC, in its processes filed in court, stated it had on August 15, 2016, received a report by the Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces (CADEP) from 2007- 2015, chaired by AVM Jon Ode (rtd).

It disclosed in the report, alleged that between 2010 and 2015, “several billions of Naira were received by the Nigerian Army from the Federal Government for procurement of Military hard-wares and were discovered to have been misappropriated by Senior Army Officers.”

The anti-graft agency told the court that during the investigation conducted, “it was revealed that the sum of N13,798,619,309 was misappropriated by the following persons: Lt. Gen. KTJ Minimah (rtd), the former Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. A.O Adetayo, one-time Chief of Accounts and Budget, Nigerian Army and then Colonel R.I Odi, former Director, Finance and Accounts, Nigerian Army.

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“The sums were transferred from various accounts belonging to the Nigerian Army and moved to company accounts of entities that had no business relations with the Nigerian Army.

“This caused huge loss to the Nigerian Army and the Federal Government of Nigeria through the unlawful gains made by the aforementioned Officers who converted the monies for their personal use.

“The legal advice on the investigation opined that a prima facie case has been sustained against the officers,” EFCC added.

Consequently, EFCC, said it wrote the Nigerian Army, requesting the three officers to make themselves available for the arraignment it said should have taken place since September 15, 2020.

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Abuja fixed December 9, to hear a suit the three defendants filed to challenge the legal propriety of the charge against them.

The defendants, through their team of lawyers led by Mr. Mahmud Magaji, SAN, are praying the court to determine;

“Whether in view of Sections 6(3), (5) (a), 240 and 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and Sections 113, 114 (1), (2) 8(3), 123, 124, 126(1), (2) 8. (4) and 270 of the Armed Forces Act, Cap A20 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Plaintiffs are not subject to be charged arraigned and /or prosecuted only by a Court Martial as a Court of first instance, to the exclusion of any other trial Court, viz: the Federal High Court, High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, and High Court of States, in respect of any offence committed by them.

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“Whether in view of Section 270 of the Armed Forces Act, Cap A20, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (the 2nd Defendant) or any other prosecuting agency can Iawfully investigate, charge, arraign and/or prosecute the Plaintiffs.

“Whether by virtue of Sections 123, 124(1) 8(3) and 126(1), (2) 8. (4) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap A20, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Plaintiffs are not to be reported in the form of a charge to their commanding officer after the investigation of any allegation against them.” 

Cited as Defendants in the suit are; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the EFCC.

Meantime, the court gave all the parties 21 days to file their pleadings, even as it okayed the matter for hearing.


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Sahara Reporters

Vanguard Reporter, Tordue Salem For Burial In Benue On Saturday

The remains of Vanguard reporter, Mr Tordue Salem, would be laid to rest on Saturday, December 11, 2021, in Gboko, Benue State.

A statement by the family revealed that the service of songs for the deceased would come up on December 9, at Godab Estate, Life Camp, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.

In the statement by Dr Jeffery Kuraun, the body of the deceased would leave the National Hospital, Abuja, for Gboko, Benue State, on Friday, December 19, 2021.

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Before his demise, Tordue Salem covered the House of Representatives for Vanguard Newspapers in Abuja.

Recall that he was declared missing on October 13, 2021, after the day’s job on his beat, only for the corpse to be discovered in the morgue of National Hospital, Abuja, a month after.

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This was after the two chambers of the National Assembly, Senate and House of Representatives, Vanguard management, the Nigeria, Guild of Editors, NGE, Abuja chapter of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and other well-meaning Nigerians had piled pressures on the police and other security agencies to ensure he was found, dead or alive, because of the manner in which he disappeared.


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Katsina Attorney General, El-Marzuq Orders Arrest, Detention Of Journalist Over Publication

The police in Katsina State acting on the orders of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ahmad El-Marzuq, have detained a journalist, El Zaharadeen Umar over a publication.

SaharaReporters gathered that Umar was arrested by the police during the weekend and has been detained for more than three days.

The correspondent of Leadership Newspaper Hausa was accused of “hate speech, incisive publication and cyberbullying.”

Some aggrieved activists in the state are organising a protest to demand the freedom of Umar.

They also lambasted the Nigerian Union of Journalists for keeping mute while its member is being persecuted by the commissioner despite the guarantee for the freedom of speech in Nigeria’s constitution.

“A journalist is a watchdog of society. He is not a criminal while doing his profession, it is not a crime especially in a democratic system of governance. No one should intimidate a journalist by applying excessive power or any other means,” an activist, Comrade Yahaya M. Abdullahi wrote.

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“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph, and the signs of horror are still in the air, according to Henry Anatole Grunwald. 

“Walter Lippmann said, there can be no higher law in journalism than, to tell the truth, and to shame the devil.

“Tan Hongkai also opined that; I think journalism anywhere should be based on social justice and impartiality, making contributions to society as well as taking responsibility in society. Whether you are capitalist or socialist or Marxist, journalists should have the same professional integrity.

“No Matter your status you can’t silence a journalist. #freeelzaharadeenumar.”

Katsina State has a history of Illegally arresting and intimidating journalists. 
For instance, the police on September 19, 2016, Illegally arrested Jamil Mabai — the publisher of Cliqq Magazine and a columnist with Katsina Reporters. 
Mabai had on September 6 taken to social media to criticise the state governor, Aminu Masari, for Distributing 3,000 coffins to mosques civil servants were being owed salaries. 

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Mabai was granted bail after 22 days of illegal detention. 

Also in July 2017, another journalist in the state, Danjuma Katsina, was Illegally arrested and detained for allegedly making “injurious comments” about a newly elected member of the House of Representatives from the state, Mansur Mashi.

Katsina had posted a comment on Facebook in which he analysed the outcome of the Mashi/Dutsi bye-election earlier conducted, questioning why Mashi was allowed to contest in the election despite having a court case regarding alleged corruption.


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Plateau Deputy Majority Leader Resigns Six Weeks After Speaker’s Impeachment

A member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Philip Peter Dasun, has resigned as the Deputy Majority leader.

Dasun represents Pankshin North area of the state. 

The lawmaker who was the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, 
announced his resignation during plenary on Tuesday.

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He said his resignation was personal and had nothing to do with the recent impeachment of the Speaker, Ayuba Nuhu Abok. 

Ayuba was on October 27 impeached by eight of the 24 members of the legislature.

The Deputy Speaker, Saleh Yipmong, who presided over the unusual sitting elected Yakubu Sanda (APC-Pengana) as the new Speaker.
The Senate has, however, called on the Plateau House of Assembly to be guided by the Rule of Law and the Constitution in all legislative business.

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Vehicles, Others Destroyed As Angry Students Protest Killing Of Colleagues By Truck Driver In Lagos

Several vehicles have been vandalised while other valuables were also destroyed as an angry mob of students protested the killing of their schoolmates by a truck driver in the Ojodu area of Lagos on Tuesday.

The victims, who are mostly pupils of Ojodu Grammar School, were heading home after school hours when the truck ran over them, crushing about 17 of them to death, according to eyewitness accounts.

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Moments after the tragedy, other students at the scene of the incident reacted in anger, setting the truck ablaze immediately.

Other vehicles around the scene were also vandalised by the angry mob, displaying rage over the death of their friends.

Though policemen are at the scene of the incident to restore order, the protesting students have continued to express rage by destroying valuable items within sight.

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Large smoke could be seen billowing into the sky from the scene of the tragedy while traffic has built up along the axis.

Commuters are being forced to use alternative roads around the area as a result of the ongoing protest by the students, SaharaReporters observed.


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Appeal Court Upholds Death By Hanging For Three Killers Of Pastor In Adamawa

A Court of Appeal in Yola has upheld the conviction and death sentence for the three killers of a pastor in Adamawa State. 

The trio were convicted having been found guilty of charges bordering on the murder of Pastor Hammajulde Dadon.

They are to die by hanging. 

The appellate court on Monday affirmed the death sentence, earlier delivered by High Court III, on the three persons.

The convicted persons are Godwin Obidah (25), Thomas Bitrus (27) and Hananiya Ezra (30), all from Tashan-Reke village in the Yola South Local Government Area of the state.

Justice Chidi Nwaoma Uwa of the Appeal Court affirmed the lower court’s verdict and dismissed the appeal seeking to upturn the judgement.

Justice Abdul-Azeez Waziri, who is now an Appeal Court Judge, had convicted and sentenced the three to death by hanging for killing Pastor Dadon, over non-payment of royalty on plaster sand.

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The convicts and one Dahiru Mohammed (now at large) had conspired to apply unlawful and criminal force on anyone who wouldn’t comply with their demand for payment of royalty on taking and using plaster sand in their community.

According to the First Information Report (FIR), the convicts had on March 23, 2017, attacked Dadon with sticks and cutlasses, knowing that death would be the probable consequence of their action.

In his confessional statement admitted in evidence, one of the convicts, Hananiya Ezra, narrated that Godwin Obidah had on the fateful day asked him to accompany him to kill Dadon over the royalty issue.

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He said, “I agreed and armed myself with a stick while Thomas Bitrus who had a motorcycle carried Godwin Obidah who also armed himself with a stick.

“I also saw one strange Fulani man, Dahiru Mohammed, who was recruited by Godwin Obidah for the operation; he was also armed with a cutlass to the scene of the crime.

“Upon arrival, I saw the deceased behind a primary school with some people; we approached him and Godwin Obidah, started hitting the pastor with a stick, and then the Fulani man rushed in with his cutlass and macheted him.” 

They were tried, found guilty and convicted by Justice Waziri of High Court III. The judgement was on Monday affirmed by the Court of Appeal in Yola.


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Dowen College: Lagos Coroner To Meet Late Sylvester’s Family Lawyer, Falana Over Request For Inquest

A Lagos State coroner has invited human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) following his request for an inquest into the death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni after he was allegedly brutalised by bullies at the Dowen College in Lekki.

The news of Oromoni’s experience which allegedly led to his untimely death broke last week when his cousin- Perrison Oromoni, went on social media to narrate how he died. 

He went as far as calling out the names of his cousin’s alleged killers.

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Perrison said the school called the deceased’s father, telling him that his son sustained injuries while playing football at the school.

But the school has consistently denied connivance, saying it is committed to unravelling the circumstances surrounding the young boy’s death.

On Monday, Falana called for a coroner’s inquest into the circumstances surrounding Oromoni’s demise.

Responding to his request, Mikail Olukayode Kadiri, the coroner for Epe District, called for a meeting.

He said the preliminary meeting would hold at the combined high court and magistrate court of Lagos State, Epe.

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“I have the directive of the chief coroner of Lagos state, Honourable Justice M.A. Dada, to act on your request,” the letter addressed to Falana reads in part.

“You are hereby invited to a preliminary meeting scheduled to hold as follows: Wednesday, 15 December 2021.”

Before his death, Oromoni had named five students who he claimed attacked him in his room.

Three of them have been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command.


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Grieving Parents Of Three Out of Eight Children Who Died Inside A Car In Lagos Speak On Tragedy

Musta and Hafisat Isiaka, the parents of three out of eight children found dead on Saturday in a Lexus Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) in Lagos, have reacted.

The vehicle was parked in front of the owner’s house on Adelayo Street, Agunaje, along Badagry Expressway. 

Hafisat said she lost two boys and a girl to the sad incident that occurred.

She also said one of the children would have been saved if her neighbours had come out when she shouted for help.

In his narration of the tragedy, Musta said one of the boys would not have been dead if he had not been taken to the compound where he met his death. 

He disclosed that the area where the car was parked was bushy and abandoned, adding that it was rare for children to go and play in the vicinity.

The couple revealed these in a video clip during their interview with BBC News Pidgin which was monitored by SaharaReporters on Tuesday.

Lagos Police spokesman, Adekunle Ajisebutu, had confirmed the incident.

“The eight children were said to have mistakenly locked themselves in an abandoned car while playing. Their bodies have been recovered and deposited at the Badagry General Hospital morgue for autopsy to determine the actual cause of death,” he had said.

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According to reports, the vehicle is owned by one Saliat Kazeem. The vehicle reportedly has a child-lock feature and could only be opened from outside. The children, who were between the ages of four and six, were found dead by a parent who was looking for her child.

In her reaction, Hafisat said, “My neighbour went out to look for them (the children). My child asked me to come outside. The neighbour asked me if my children are in the car and I asked which car? She led me outside and when I peeped inside the car, all of them have died. Only one was breathing.

“Alhaja does not kill children now. I came outside and I shouted. I was shouting for help, but none came. One boy quickly went to bring a key and opened the car, and the boy was still breathing. I was calling them and nobody answered.

“Something like foam was coming out from his mouth and nose. They (the government) should help us. They were seven children. Four boys and three girls. If it were only one now, it would be better. But seven! And only I had two boys and one girl amongst the dead children. I can’t sleep at night. I can’t eat and can’t sleep.”

In his account, Musta Isiaka said it was God that gave him the children and had taken them away from him.

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“Around 1:30 when I left the compound, the children have not come when I returned from an Islamic school. When I went there, I saw him. I observed my prayers by 2 and 4 around the place. When it was past four, my wife came with our child to come and break the sad news of what happened.

“It was that time, he came back around two to come and eat and went back. The mother thought he was sleeping after eating his meal, not knowing he had left. My boy didn’t like to go and play in that compound. It was a bushy area. If not that someone took him to the place, he wouldn’t have been dead. The girl was 12, the first boy was 5, and the second boy was 3. What would I do? God gave them to me, and God has taken them back,” Musta said.

On Sunday, Ajisebutu said the police commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, had ordered a thorough and speedy investigation into the circumstances surrounding the children’s death.

He said, “The Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered a thorough and speedy investigation into the circumstances surrounding their death. The CP also commiserates with the families of the victims.”


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Gambian President, Adama Barrow Must End Impunity Of Predecessor, Uphold Human Rights—Amnesty International

Global human rights advocacy organisation, Amnesty International has called on President Adama Barrow to end the impunity and rights violation experienced under his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh.

Barrow was re-elected over the weekend in what was described as a landslide victory.

According to Amnesty International, Barrow must show more commitment to human rights issues as he begins his second term.

In a statement by Michèle Eken, its West Africa researcher, Amnesty International said: “As he starts a second term in office, President Adama Barrow must tackle the huge challenge of ending impunity for human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh which starts with prosecuting alleged perpetrators in fair trials before criminal courts.

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“The President’s agenda must also include the repeal of laws restricting freedom of expression and freedom of assembly which can still be liberally used to muzzle dissenting voices.

“We regret that President Barrow did not sign Amnesty International’s seven-point human rights manifesto contrary to several other presidential candidates.

“In addition to protecting freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and fighting impunity, the manifesto includes commitments to take a tougher stance on ending sexual, gender-based violence and discrimination towards women, to promote access to food, employment, education, housing and health, to adopt a national law prohibiting torture and to remove death penalty provisions from Gambia’s statute books.

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‘’It’s not too late for the President to make this clear commitment to tackle these pressing issues and we urge him to do so.”


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SPECIAL REPORT: Kano, Oyo LGs Unable To Deliver Campaign Promises Despite Over N128 Billion Allocation

Prior to the January 13 local government election in Kano State, the people of Nasarawa Local Government—the largest local government in the state — had suffered from lack of portable water, insecurity caused by armed robbery and an unhygienic environment, among others.

While on the campaign trail, Auwal Aramposu, who was later elected executive chairman of the local government, promised to address the issues as soon as he gets into office. But nearly a year after his election, the problems have worsened.

A jerrycan of water that used to sell for N20 now costs N40; armed robbers break into people’s homes at will while clearing of the environment has been left to the people. THE WHISTLER saw drainages in different parts of the local government blocked with dirt, leading to flooding of homes whenever it rained.

The problem of drug abuse has also grown from bad to worse without the local government coming up with any programmes to engage idle youths. The residents are further frustrated by the inaccessibility of the elected officials who have not been accountable to the people that elected them. They seemed to have turned their backs on the people.

“They came to us and promised to give us water, electricity, roads, security and others, but we didn’t get anything,” said 35-year-old Ibrahim Abdulhamed, a resident of Gama ward in Gwagwarwa area of the local government. “For me, I will not vote again,” he declared while walking away with his electrician’s tool bag strapped to his back.

Gama ward is where the local government chairman comes from and the evidence of the rot surrounds his father’s house. The house, painted in immaculate white colour, is surrounded by gutters filled with smelly water and dirt.

The 2021 capital expenditure estimates for the local government seen by THE WHISTLER shows an allocation of over N750 million to the “Environmental and Area Development Sector.” Items under the sector include water supply, environmental sewage and drainage and community development.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS), in the first two months that Aramposu came into office as chairman, a total of N566, 716, 626.50 was paid to Nasarawa LG from the Federation Accounts, representing January and February allocations of N280,191, 565.21 and N286,525, 063.29, respectively. Details of FAAC allocations to LGs from Federation Acounts have not been provided since after the February release.

But the figures for 2020 give a clear idea of how much fund has been given to local governments in the state from the federation account. From January to December 2020, a total of N3, 464, 950, 095.18 was the share of the LG from FAAC allocation. After the challenges of the covid-19 pandemic last year, allocations have steadily increased and it is believed that over N4 billion would have accrued to the LG by end of November this year.

Since January this year, all the 44 LGs have continued to share over N7 billion monthly allocations from FAAC, and by the end of November, a total of N73.3 billion had been given to all the LGs in the state. This is certainly enough for Aramposu and his colleagues to execute some of the critical capital projects for their local governments.

But the Kano State Government has continued to swindle local governments out of their fund allocations for years through the Ministry for Local Government Affairs. The LGs in the state operate three different accounts namely: Project Account, LG Account and Revenue Account. The first two accounts are supervised by the ministry and only the revenue account (where the LG internally generated revenue is domiciled) is managed by the local government.

Giving an insight into the financial process in the state under Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, a deputy chairman in one of the LGs revealed that LGs do not have control of their allocations which are distributed into the project and LG accounts from the State Joint Local Government Account, in compliance with Section 162 (6), (7) and (8) of the 1999 Constitution.

But while the monies are shared into the two accounts, they are not spent by the LGs. Each local government is asked to submit a list of projects they would like to execute and most LGs submit at least five. The ministry will decide which projects to be done in each of the local governments. Sometimes the ministry approves two or one of the projects. There are no comprehensive budgets for LGs.

The state awards the contracts but the LGs will pay the contractors. In the case of state projects, LGs where the projects are sited are made to finance it from their project account. Again, the state government awards the contracts, but the LGs sign the cheques.

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But since Aramposu was elected chairman, no capital project has been executed. His Facebook page was last updated in April when he shared a photo of his birthday cake. The only picture of a public event shared on the Facebook page is a photo of the chairman casting his vote during the LG election. It was posted on January 30.

Aramposu refused to speak to THE WHISTLER when the reporter visited the local government secretariat. The LG spokesperson, Mohammad Kabir, said Aramposu did not wish to speak on the issues.

“The chairman has said he will not grant any interview. He said he doesn’t want to speak with any journalist,” said Kabir.

But Ibrahim Garba Maryam, a member of the Kano Civil Society Forum, told this website in an interview that local governments in the state are being run by the state government. He claimed that there was neither transparency nor accountability in the running of the affairs of LGs as their budgets are shrouded in secrecy.

Maryam, who is also a steering committee member of the Kano State Open Governance Partnership, said he had tried unsuccessfully (including writing a Freedom of Information Act request) to get his LG budget in the last seven years.

He said, “The LG chairmen are not and cannot do any project for the people because their funds are not given to them. The state does whatever it likes with the State Joint Local Government Account. The LGs don’t even have budgets you can see. There’s no transparency and accountability and inclusive participation at the local governments anymore.

“We did a survey with councilors in the state and most of them had never seen their local government budget. In my own local government of Nasarawa, I did a Freedom of Information request for the budget but I couldn’t get it for seven years.

“As a budget tracker, I can confirm that most of the road projects being done by the state are 95 percent LG fund. So you ask yourself, what is the state government doing with its own allocation?”

Many of the LG chairmen in the state were also unwilling to speak to THE WHISTLER when contacted. But the chairman of Ungongo Local Government, Engineer Abdullahi Garba Ramat, who was persuaded to grant an interview by a mutual friend, admitted that LGs in the state do not have control of their funds but rationalized it as a strategy to prevent local government officials from embezzling the funds.

He said, “We have a joint account with the state government but you don’t have control of your funds. Joint account is controlled by the state government but all the funds coming to the account belong to the LGs. You know the state governments have staff that are more experienced and the governor is also very experienced and knows what the state wants much more than the LG elected officials.

“So instead of giving the money to the LGs for them to embezzle, the state government will establish scale of preference. So, the state would ask the LG chairmen to submit three or five projects they want and they will select from it. But if our funds are with us as LG, we may know better what we need.”

But when asked how many capital projects he had executed since coming to office, he mentioned renovation of schools, hospitals and building of a “smart new police station’ to protect the community. But there were no evidence of this on ground except the newly constructed police station which was awarded by the state government and paid for by the LG.He however disclosed that his administration is able to execute projects by partnering with private investors.

As a way out of their financial predicament due to the state capture of their funds, many of the local governments are stepping up the collection of taxes and levies to boost their internally generated revenue. The taxes and levies they collect are the only independent sources of revenue for the LGs because those are paid into their revenue account.

In Oyo State, local governments are not faring any better as the case of Ido Local Government Area, one of the 33 LGs in the state, shows. Ido LG, regarded as the new face of Ibadan because of its proximity to the state capital, is a predominantly farming community. The rural folks have for years lamented the lack of link roads and bridges to facilitate the transportation of food items.

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Sheriff Adeojo, son of the popular politician Yekin Adeoja, emerged the chairman after an election in May this year. He told the people during his pre-election campaign he would fix the roads; provide water, electricity transformers and public toilets.

After five months in office, Adeojo has not been able to keep any of his promises. Residents of Omi Adio, where the local government headquarters is located, took the reporter to at least ten roads the chairman promised to rehabilitate but on which nothing had been done. They include the road to Olorieran Powerline, Iyana Abiogun to Dagi Onidoko and the slippery Alakaso road where motorcycle crashes occur daily.

At the Omi Adio main market where there are at least 600 shops and sheds, traders told THE WHISTLER that the LG did not put any public toilet in place. Traders and customers defecate at any corner in the market and dispose them into the nearby bush.

Pa Samsom Ogunpolu, a 68-year-old tailor who also engaged in farming, pointing at a dilapidated bridge residents use when going to the farm, told THE WHISTLER: “They promised to do this bridge and roads, that’s why we voted for them. But they have not done anything. We have health centres but they do not have any medicine and if we’re sick, we have to go to Akpata General Hospital.”

Yet, an estimated N1. 648,536,234.23 have accrued to the local government from the federation account since January this year. Last year, according to the NBS data, the LG received a total of N1. 586, 956,483.94 from FAAC. All the 33 LGs have shared over N5 billion every month since January this year, totalling over N54.7 billion from January to November. Where have all the money gone?

Chairman of the LG, Adeojo, could not provide the answers when THE WHISTLER met him for an interview. He admitted he had not done much on the roads issue because he met “all the heavy machines grounded” when he took over as chairman. “So I had to go out and seek help. I’ve been able to get some colleagues to help me. So, we’re trying to fix the heavy machines—the bulldozers, excavators, tractors and graders,” he said.

Asked whether his LG gets all its allocations regularly as due, he said, “ Well, that’s going to be a story for another day!” And when asked why, he said, “You know, because it’s governance and in government, there are some things you don’t say openly.”

THE WHISTLER found out that Adeojo broke the unwritten regulation put in place for LG administrators since Governor Seyi Makinde came into office in May 2019 by talking to a journalist without clearance from the Head of Service. Adejare Kayode, Information Officer for Ibadan South West Local Government, told this reporter when he visited the LG Secretariat the procedure for interviewing an LG chairman.

He said, “You have to write a letter to the Head of Service stating why you want the interview and what information you want. It is the HoS that will authorize the chairman to speak.” He insisted that the reporter could not get any access to the chairman until I followed the stated procedure.

The situation is similar to Kano State where LG chairmen are under the Ministry of Local Governments and councils have to inform the commissioner about their needs or when there are emergencies such as an epidemic or natural disaster. The ministry is said to be the most lucrative among the Ministries, Agencies and Departments of government. The wife of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, Hafsat, was seen in a video campaigning for him to succeed her husband as governor in 2023.

Efforts to speak with the commissioner for information, Mohammed Garba, were unsuccessful as he did not answer his calls. When THE WHISTLER requested details of capital expenditures for all the 44 LGs in Kano from the ministry of local government, a director asked for a letter of request, saying “it’s a very sensitive document.”

The reporter wrote an FOI request and submitted it to the commissioner’s office on October 21. But no response was received up to the time of publishing this report.

– This report was produced in partnership with the Civic Media Lab under its Grass-roots News Project.


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Lagos Governor, Sanwo-Olu Breaks Silence On Dowen College Saga, Death Of 12-Year-Old Sylvester

The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has finally reacted to the death of Sylvester Oromoni, a student of Dowen College.

The 12-year-old student died recently after he was allegedly beaten by some senior colleagues for refusing to join a cult group.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the governor described the incident as disturbing and heartbreaking.

He also assured the bereaved’s family of his administration’s commitment to ensure justice is served in the case.

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“I commiserate deeply with the family of late Sylvester (Jnr) Oromoni, the 12-year old pupil of Dowen College, Lagos,” he wrote.

“As a parent, I share the grief Sylvester’s demise has brought upon his parents and the entire household. The incident is not only sad but disturbing and heartbreaking.

“Consequently, I have ordered a comprehensive investigation into the matter. But while that is going on, I would like to give Sylvester’s parents and the entire citizenry of Lagos, the assurance of my full support at this trying time.  

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“I share their pains and sense of loss. Indeed, words are inadequate to describe my feelings, but I pray that God Almighty will soothe their pains, and grant Sylvester Jnr eternal rest.”


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I Didn’t Have Sex For Six Years Because Fani-Kayode Could Not Perform In Bed—Former Minister’s Ex-wife Tells Court

A beauty queen, Precious Chikwendu has told a Customary Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja that a former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has erectile dysfunction. 

According to her, Fani-Kayode never consummated his six-year relationship with her because of his alleged challenge. 

Miss Chikwendu said the four children she had with Fani-Kayode were conceived via artificial insemination.

She told the court that she was forced to be celibate during the time they were together as a couple. 

She also told the court that the former minister did not perform any rites before their marriage nor paid her bride price. 

She, therefore, prayed the court to declare that she was never married to Fani-Kayode. 
Like she has done several times, Chikwendu accused Fani-Kayode of assaulting her while they were married, adding that the former minister lied to her that his marriage to his third wife had ended. 

The petitioner, Chikwendu stated this in her November 29, 2021 “Application for issuance of civil summons/plaint” against Fani-Kayode, the respondent. 

The suit, numbered FCT/CCK8/01/043/2021, was filed by her counsel, Mr Abiodun E. Olusanya.
She is seeking the following reliefs:
“An order declaring that there was no customary marriage between the petitioner and the respondent (despite their six-year cohabitation) under the Nanka, Orumba North, Anambra State of Igbo native law and customs.

“Alternatively, assuming by the evidence during the trial the court finds that there was a customary marriage between parties: 
“An order dissolving the customary marriage between the petitioner and the respondent forthwith.
“An order granting the petitioner access to and custody of the four children of the cohabitation between parties especially during their academic calendar.

“An order ordering the respondent to be continuously responsible for the academic, medical, clothing and welfare of the four children of the cohabitation.
“An order ordering the respondent to release and return the Petitioner’s property.” 

The properties are the petitioner’s certificates and documents, trophies from the United Nations pageantry, Red Range Rover SUV, registered under her foundation’s name and the foundation’s certificates and the petitioner’s picture, among others.

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She identified others as her mother’s burial videos and souvenirs, her mother’s certificates and documents, her clothes and personal belongings including gadgets, sewing machines left at the children’s play area and her refrigerator and kitchen gadgets for her food company, Mommy Pee Food.
Chikwendu said her relationship with Fani-Kayode was full of “woes, lies, deceits, quarrels, assaults, battery and domestic violence, lack of trust and absence of love, public disgrace and shame, and absence of sex due to the inability to sexually perform and intolerable behaviour of the respondent.”

She contended that there was never a marriage between the parties on the ground, among others, that the respondent “has continuously behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to continue to live with the respondent any further or formally enter into any form of traditional marriage whit him.”
She added: “From the inception of the cohabitation, the Respondent has been a violent person who attacks the Petitioner and her family members at will without provocation.”

She averred that in 2016 when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided Fani-Kayode’s house, she found his marriage certificate with his third wife, Regina. 

She said she confronted him with it and requested to see their divorce certificate, following which he allegedly confessed that he had yet to do so.
Chinwendu said, “At every attempt, the petitioner made to have sexual intercourse with the respondent, there was never erection of the respondent’s penis/manhood and penetration was frustrating. 
“During such periods of frustration and sexual desire, the petitioner would be left with the choice of merely rubbing herself on the respondent, to have the slightest bit of relief. 

“The petitioner then insisted parties should seek medical help for the respondent, and on visiting the family doctor, the respondent claimed he was diagnosed of having a cyst on his penis/manhood, which is not allowing the respondent to have erection and or perform sexually, 
“The respondent was supposedly placed on cyprotab and the doctor suggested that the respondent should go and decide when he wishes to remove/untangle the cyst. 
“Few days after the visit to the doctor, the respondent informed the petitioner that he had discussed with Regina and she had prayed over it, that the respondent should not do the operation, else he would die. 

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“The respondent never took the cyprotab medication, but any time the petitioner tried to engage the respondent in sexual activities, the respondent would claim his penis/manhood was paining him and then drink the medication. 
“The petitioner bought sex toys for the respondent, but the respondent refused to use it and warned the petitioner never to suggest it again.”
Chikwendu averred further that since August 2020 that she walked out of the cohabitation with the Respondent, she had been continuously denied access to her children and her children have been continuously deprived parental motherly care and protection.”

She claimed that Fani-Kayode was in the habit of not paying his domestic staff/workers/nannies, “which leaves the workers angry and they could unleash and or transfer their anger on the children, they may kill any of the children any day, if the children are left with the respondent.
“Most of the domestic staff/workers/nannies that are not paid their wages, usually resign and run away without informing anyone and considering the security situation, the workers could kidnap any of the children.
“Currently the respondent is in court with some of the former domestic staff/workers for noa payment of salaries and abuse.”
Fani-Kayode has yet to file a response to the application.


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