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Tallen decries slow justice system, says 972 GBV perpetrators in Courts

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

With 972 gender base violence cases in various courts in Nigeria, being prosecuted by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, the minister, Pauline Tallen, has expressed displeasure with the slow justice system.

She made her displeasure known at a joint press briefing to kick off the 2021 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence with the theme: “Orange the world, end violence against women now”, organised by her ministry, British Council, UNWomen and European Union in Abuja.

According to her, the latest realtime figures of abuses from six states of the federation showed that out of 5,204 cases of abuse reported, 3,125 women survivors are demanding for Justice.

She stated that available statistics from the National Situation Room and Dashboard set up in the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs under the UN/EU Spotlight initiative, targeting 6 States supported by UNDP was disturbing and demanded urgent action from all stakeholders.

Tallen said, “As at yesterday 24th November 2021, the total number of cases reported is 5,204 of which 3,125 survivors are demanding justice and only 33 perpetrators have so far been convicted, representing 0.51 percent.

“The fatal cases are 160, closed cases 231, while open cases (cases pending in court) are 972. This trend is unacceptable. And we will all intensify efforts with the Federal Minister of Justice to ensure justice for victims and survivors. Due to the effectiveness of this medium in providing real time data, we will upscale the project to cover the remaining states.”

Tallen who vowed that the Minister of Justice will not be allowed breathing space until all pending cases get justice said: “the Ministry of Justice is making efforts. We have initiated the process of establishing special courts for these vulnerable groups. In fact, I wanted this press conference to be held in the conference hall of the Ministry of Justice, to ensure that we make the justice system work. He would have been here but he sent his apologies because he is attending to another assignment.

“He is the chairman of the inter ministerial committee set up by Mr. President when I presented memo in Council last year. And we will not allow them have their breathing space on to the justice system become more proactive in addressing this huge number that is left in our courts. Justice delayed is justice denied, and that is unacceptable.”

The Minister noted that a new report from UN Women, based on data from 13 countries since the COVID-19 pandemic, show that two in three women reported that women who have known and experienced some form of violence are more likely to face food insecurity.

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She condemned a situation where survivors do not speak out as the statistics revealed that “only 1 in 10 women who are victims would go to the police for help.”

“These figures are mirrored in Nigeria, with 30 per cent of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 reported to have experienced sexual abuse. Insurgency and protracted conflict have only served to worsen the occurrence of GBV in the North-East.

“Harmful practices such as child marriage are prevalent in Nigeria, with 43% of girls married before the age of 18; while 20% of women aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM” Tallen stated

European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, on her part said gender based violence was a global pandemic that must be reversed.

She stressed data was important in the fight against gender based violence and urged women to speak.

According to her, the new data showed that 87 percent of women suffer Gender-Based Violence online.

Isopi, added that part of EU’s effort to the challenge the Menander was to establish a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in the country.

According to her “The EU has supported the establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) across the country with over 1 billion naira since 2016.

“With the support of the European Union and other partners, the number of SARCs has grown to 32, spread across 19 states of the federation and the FCT. This is an important result.

“As at June 2021, the SARCs had assisted over 20,000 survivors of sexual assault. Over 70% of the clients are children under the age of 18 years.

“Justice is key to stop gender-based violence. Most of SGBV crimes remain unpunished. Very few convictions are secured, often after long and tortuous legal processes.

“Under a joint effort with the EU-RoLAC programme, the EU is stepping up efforts to fast-track prosecution of offenders.”

She said that a key highlight of this year’s 16 days of activism against SGBV is the coordinated advocacy for a special court for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence SGBV cases in Nigeria.”

On her part, the UNWomen Country Representative, Comfort Lamptey, commended the efforts Nigeria has made in domesticating the Violence Against Persons Proposition Law.

She said: “The past two years in Nigeria has recorded significant progress on domestication of the violence against persons proposition law, since it was passed in 2015, with a total of 30 states out of 36 states in Nigeria have now passed the law. This commendable feat was spurred by the declaration of a state of emergency on gender based violence by the Nigeria Governors Forum in 2020. And validates the importance of a multi sectoral and partnership approach to addressing this menace.

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“The activism of youth and women’s groups, the lobbying of influential women’s networks, including the Nigeria governors wives forum, and the political will, of the government, which made it possible must be sustained going forward.

“And even beyond the enactment of this legislation, we need to ensure that both federal government and states which have adopted them ensure that gender based violence, survivors have full access to justice with reliable prosecution of perpetrators of violence, as we impart embarked on the 16 Days campaign, levers advocate, amongst others for these four things.

“First, let’s put women at the center of the responses, including the policy situation solutions. Second, let’s allocate resources and include evidence based measures to address violence against women and girls. Thirdly, let’s strengthen services including access to justice for women who experienced violence. And fourthly, let’s invest in prevention efforts to end violence against women and girls.”

The UNFPA a country representative, on her part reminded the audience that the aspiration is to see a world of full gender equality.

“That is the Africa we want by 2063 and this is what the Sustainable Development Goals promise to deliver by the year 2030. A world of gender equality, where a girl grows up, secure, safe in the knowledge that she may be confident and encouraged to fulfill her full potential. What gender based violence does is to undermine the dignity, the health, the security, and the autonomy of women and girls so effective. Yet it remains shrouded behind the curtain swept under the rug with this atmosphere of stigma for the victim to be silent, only adds to the crime.

“Yes, there are consequences to violence against women and girls, especially psychological mental health disturbances. Of course, consequences include health problems, unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, leading to vaginal fistula, sexually transmitted infections, and even death.”

The UN-Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, also commended the federal and states governments efforts to domesticate the VAPP Act and the Child Rights Act which at the last count stood at 33 and 27 states respectively.

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Why I quit banking for fashion –Gabby Ibeabuchi, Twelve06 bos

By Vivian Onyebukwa

Gabby Ibeabuchi is one of Nigeria’s notable fashion designers. Before he finally went into fashion, he was a model and he did jobs for some top fashion designers, including Dakova, Mudi, Zizi Cardow, Kese Jabari and Frank Osodi, among others. He equally dabbled into telecommunications and banking before he finally went into the fashion business, the area he was so passionate about. As a model, Gabby, who is the Founderand Creative Director of Twelve06, a fashion brand, was the brand ambassador for so many companies , which included MTN and FCMB for years.  He was also the first Best ECOWAS Male Model in 2002.

In this interview with VIVIAN ONYEBUKWA, he spoke about the fashion business, among other issues.

What inspired your brand name, Twelve06?

Twelve06 means December 6th. The day I was born.

Why fashion business?

I started as a model doing both fashion and photography. I have over 100 fashion shows to my credit. Working with different fashion designers influenced my desire to make a difference in the fashion space. I saw a lot of lapses and I knew I could mend them. Fashion is not just making clothes, you have to produce what the wearer wants in a way it will suit both his body structure and the essence of the design. I wanted to achieve that and more. Currently, we have over 350 different unique designs in different sizes and shapes alongside topnotch customer service. We are constantly seeking new ways to make it easier and better for the customers, making sure you get your money’s worth at all times. A lot of people were perplexed when I left a high paying banking job to become a fashion designer. I truly love what I do because I am very passionate about it and it’s fulfilling for me. We are constantly reinventing ourselves to serve you better and you can only expect more from us.

Why did you decide to go into men’s fashion?

I can’t say there is any particular reason for that because we currently do a little bit of women’s clothing. Our choice was influenced by the fact that I did a lot of modelling for fashion designers and probably know a lot more about men’s fashion.

We are currently working on our ready-to-wear line, which will cater for women and subsequently children. We are launching our urban footwear line first quarter of next year and it will include women as well. Twelve06 is an all-inclusive fashion line, just that we had to start where we had more competitive advantage.

Do you believe that men are not as stylish as women?

Men are actually as stylish as women, only that women most times go extra mile to look good, unlike some men. Women are naturally more self-conscious; hence, they appear more stylish. Women most times stock and wear more clothes than men. They explore more colours and designs. They actually wear more colourful and appealing designs.

What colours are a no-no for men?

Currently there are no more colours that is a no-no for men. Men are beginning to be exploring and daring these days. However there are few colours that a lot of men are not eager to explore in a hurry, e. g lemon, yellow and purple, depending on the shade.

What fashion style is in vogue for men when it comes to traditional outfit?

A lot of male fashion consumers are going in the direction of simplicity, smart and stylish. The old styles are being revolutionised and coming back to trend in a very contemporary stylish pieces. Example is the three quarter sleeve for men’s kaftan that is currently in vogue at the moment. It comes out really beautiful when sewn to fit.

Men are beginning to explore colours and our Nigerian designers are really doing justice to it.

How lucrative is the men’s fashion business?

I think lucrative is very relative. Every business can actually be lucrative. It all depends on a lot of factors. Men’s fashion business is lucrative when you understand and apply all relevant inputs. Every business requires certain rudiments and protocols, which determine the level of results you get. Understanding of the business, creativity, customer service, reinventing yourself as well as staying relevant to the needs of your current and prospective customers will always create an edge for any business any time.

How can you describe the Nigeria fashion industry?

Nigeria fashion is dominantly heading to the global stage. It is one of the few industries that are growing at a geometric progression. It is highly competitive, which guarantees excellent growth and development in the long run. You can’t survive the Nigeria fashion space in a long time if you are not creatively evolving. I love the direction the industry is heading. I just returned from Durban, South Africa to attend the Intra-Africa trade fair, which is the biggest in Africa. A lot of Nigerian designers were conspicuously represented and everyone admired our craft, hence so many connections and opportunities consummated. I couldn’t be more proud as a designer at this time. Few months ago also, I was selected among 20 Nigerians under the IVLP program sponsored by the United States. The aim is to improve trade relations in the fashion industry between Nigeria and the US. I consider it one of the best things that have happened to the Nigeria fashion industry. Buyers from around the world are getting more comfortable to purchase and deal with Nigeria fashion

designers. From next quarter, we shall begin export to the US tax free under the IVLP program. Nigeria fashion is fast becoming a household name just like our music. I am a proud Nigerian fashion designer.

What is the state of business as regards to fashion in Nigeria with regards to the state of the economy now?

Fashion was one of the worst hit by the pandemic. It was actually my greatest challenge ever as a fashion designer. At some point, it was more about survival than looking good and so many businesses went down. We are among the few that survived and we are grateful for that. Things are actually beginning to pick up, and hopefully, in a short time, we’ll begin to blossom again. Above all, passion has kept us moving. The future is looking bright and we are surely going to keep standing out as a brand.

What is style to you?

Fashion is what designers offer you while style is how you personally blend it to suit you. Style is personal and can be relative. Sometimes you can make a little shift from the usual to suit the relevance of your needs per time and there is no harm if it works. There is actually no permanent way to style. Most times, what works for a lot more people becomes trend.

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Containing Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant

The detection of the deadly COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has shown that the war against the pandemic should be intensified by all countries until it is contained. There is also need for urgent global action against the virus by world leaders. That is why the call for vaccine equity must be accorded full attention by advanced and wealthy nations.

The Omicron variant, which was detected in South Africa earlier in November, has spread to several countries, including Zimbabwe, Botswana and Malawi. The variant has been reported in the United Kingdom, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Belgium and Hong Kong. The Canadian authorities had detected Omicron in two Nigerian travellers.

Also, Nigeria has confirmed three cases of Omicron in the country. Already, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had on November 26 2021, designated the variant B.1.1.529, named Omicron, a variant of concern on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution.

The decision of the global health agency on the new variant was reportedly based on the evidence presented to its technical advisory group that Omicron has several mutations, which affect how it spreads and the severity of the illness it causes. According to WHO, Omicron has spread to 23 countries across the world. It is also likely that the number of countries that will detect Omicron will increase in the days ahead.

In a bid to prevent further spread of the new deadly variant of COVID-19 disease in its territory, the Canadian authorities have banned travellers from Nigeria, Egypt, and Malawi. Other African countries affected by the ban include Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

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The spread of the new COVID-19 variant and its presence in Nigeria is a wake-up call on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to swing into action to contain further spread of the deadly virus in the country. Already, the NCDC had commenced contact tracing of three persons who tested positive for Omicron. Rather than resort to indiscriminate travel ban, the NCDC said it would intensify efforts towards mass vaccination as well as ensure adequate surveillance and vigilance at all entry borders. The centre must do all within its powers to save the country from the effects of the third wave of the pandemic.

The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 should enlighten Nigerians on the new deadly variant and how to prevent it. The enforcement of approved COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical measures, such as wearing of nose mask, avoidance of crowds, social distancing and washing of hands and use of hand sanitizers, must be pursued with vigour.

Unfortunately, some of these measures are no longer strictly observed in most of our worship centres, schools, markets and others. The emergence of Omicron after the Delta deadly variant shows clearly that a lot of work has to be done to decimate the pandemic globally. Since vaccination remains the most veritable antidote against the virus for now, let the government procure more COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that more eligible Nigerians are fully vaccinated.

Instead of enforcement or mandatory vaccination, let people be persuaded to take the jabs. The government should make effort to give booster jabs to enhance the immunity of those already vaccinated. The detection of the new deadly variant in some African countries is not enough to stigmatise citizens or travellers from the affected countries as well as the blanket travel ban imposed on them by Canada and others. African countries should not be maligned in the fight against the pandemic.

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COVID-19 is a global health problem of great concern. It should not be used to stigmatise any country. The politicisation of the pandemic by powerful nations is regrettable. What is needed now is concerted global approach to the war against the pandemic. The current vaccine nationalism observable in some advanced countries will rather fuel further spread of the virus than contain it.

There is need to share information on the mutation of the virus and how best to contain it. Instead of vaccine nationalism, the world should embrace vaccine equity. Until COVID-19 vaccines get to all corners of the world, no country can truly be said to be free from the pandemic, irrespective of travel bans.

We call on world leaders to work in concert to ensure vaccine equity. African leaders must lead the fight to contain the virus on the continent. African nations must strengthen the capacity of its research institutions to develop efficacious COVID-19 vaccines. We should not always depend on other nations for our medical needs.

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2023: S’West APC govs begin consultations

From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

Ahead of the 2023 presidential poll, governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some other leaders in the Nigeria’s South West have begun critical consultations for the zone to produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor. Impeccable sources mentioned five of the six governors in the zone that have authorised their close aides to move round the Yorubaland and Nigeria to ensure that the 2023 presidency comes to the South West.

The five governors are Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Gboyega Oyetola, Osun State, Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.

Governor Seyi Makinde might not have been part of the meeting since he belongs to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Already, National Leader of APC and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as well as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, are strongly believed to be eyeing the  number one political office in 2023.

Though the trio have not come out to make definite statements that they want to run for president, their supporters have, however, made clarion calls to them at different times to openly declare their ambition to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. Some have even gone ahead to print and paste posters for the three of them.

A meeting was held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital earlier in the week to perfect strategies to actualise two major items – that the president must come from the South West in 2023, and to know the acceptable person that the Yoruba would present for the office. The meeting was held under the aegis of Next Level Consolidation Forum, being chaired by a frontline politician, Chief Oladipo Oladosu.

There were representatives of the governors of the six South-West states as well as other dignitaries at the meeting. Attendees include Mr. Adekunle Olayinka, an engineer and Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN); Victor Kolade, Special Adviser to the Ekiti State governor on Social Investment Programmes (SIP); and Adesina Popoola, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State. Chief Oladipo Oladosu stood for Osun at the meeting, while Ondo and Oyo were also represented.

The forum concluded that with the level of academic, economic, social and political prowess that Yorubaland has produced, it would not be fair for the race to present only one person for the job. They added that more people that have interest for the 2023 presidency in the zone should come out and join the presidential race.

Oladosu contended that Nigeria would cease to exist if the presidential power failed to rotate to the South-West, saying: “It is not a threat. It is going to happen.”

But the SSA to Governor Dapo Abiodun, Adesina Popoola, said: “We are here because of Yoruba presidential agenda. All of us are here for a purpose and for good precedence in 2023. What we are clamouring to do is that we don’t want this to go to the North, or South East. We want it to go to South-West.

“The present president is from the North. All of us want this to come to the South and for Yoruba as a whole. We are not talking about the East now. We are talking about South West. If we bring it home, the Yoruba agenda, we can say this is the person we have all agreed on to be the next president in 2023. The agenda is just a small thing. We need somebody that can change Nigeria. We need a good leader at the presidency in 2023, to turn around the country positively.  We are here for one agenda, which is we want Yoruba to be president of Nigeria in 2023.

“We have not mentioned anybody now. But we know some people will knock on the door and we will know the person. We will open the door for him when the time comes. We are here to support Yoruba. We need the cooperation of all the Yoruba. We knew what happened to Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief MKO Abiola when they wanted to become president of this country. Now, we want all Yoruba to speak with one voice. Then, it will be difficult for enemies to divide us.”

Special Adviser to the Ekiti State Governor on Social Investment Programmes (SIP), Victor Kolade, said also lent his voice to the discourse.  According to him, “We are here today for the future of everybody, and our children, and the future of everything that concerns us. In the last eight years, APC has been in the saddle and we are looking for a better leadership and we hope, we know and we pray that APC from South West will provide that better leadership.

“Our aims and objectives are to make sure, first of all, that every other part of Nigeria concedes the presidency to the South West. That is what we have to work upon, and we are doing that already. I pray that we will be able to accomplish that.

“If we do that, that is 50 per cent success. Then, the next thing we have to do is, how do we go about it? We are all party men; we know how the party machineries work. We know that your vote, your decision is in the ward level, even they are in the units. So, we have to work. If you have a friend in the North and you have political associates in any part of Nigeria, we have to work together to make sure that a favourable candidate emerges from the South West during the national convention.

“If we are interested in a particular candidate among those people that showed interest in the South West, we have to work towards it, so that we just don’t assume. At the end of the day, the Northerners preferred to anoint a candidate for us. It has happened once. It has happened several times in the past. If we have anything against that, if we don’t want that, we had to work. But thank God, we are back at the blocs again, and we are hoping for a South Western presidency.”

Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), which is South West Affairs, Adekunle Olayinka, also observed: “Of course, it is part of my portfolio to make sure that the South West is rock solid, not only in infrastructural development and socio-economic, and all the stuff, but in politics also. That is why we try to ensure that it is not negotiable, as far as we are concerned, that presidency comes to the South West. We have been doing a lot of programmes in that respect.

“We have gone all over the South-West. We have met the likes of Chief Bisi Akande, our governors, and other leaders. We have sold the idea to them that it is not negotiable, that in their meetings and conversations with other governors throughout the country, that the presidency for South West Nigeria is non-negotiable. I think everyone understands now.

“So, we are here in Ibadan to have a meeting, whereby our structures will be formalised. Apart form the national structure that has been working all over Nigeria, we want to ensure that our structures are formalised from the ward level to the local government, to the zone, so that we can all put our thoughts together, and put all our resources together to ensuring that we produce a president that will come from the South West.

“Why? We have the capability. We have the technical know-how. We have economic power. We have the intellectual know-how. So, we believe that no other region, especially now, is better than us producing the presidency.

We are going to work and ensure that all our youth are energised and they are energised already. They are waiting for our leaders to come out and proclaim that they are running. All we are doing now is consultation and all the stuff, encouraging more of our leaders to even come out. The better the soup, the better the taste becomes.

“I want to foresee in the next couple of weeks that other leaders that have not even proclaimed that they want to contest would come out. Then, we can now say this is the best among them. I don’t think we are going to have any problem in selecting one of our leaders to become our president, and it has to come from South West.”

It was agreed at the end of the meeting that the gathering would be rotated among the six states in the South West. The next meeting, it was agreed, would be hosted by Lagos State.

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Baby’s disappearance from church: Appeal Court frees convicted church founder

From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure

The Akure Division of the Court of Appeal on Friday discharged and acquitted the founder of Sotitobire Prayer Centre, Akure, Prophet Alfa Babatunde who had earlier been sentenced to death by an Ondo State High Court over the disappearance of a year-old-baby, Gold Kolawole in his church.

Kolawole’s sudden disappearance during a programme at Alfa’s church had led to a protest by some members of the public. Some irate youths had during the protest burnt the church and vandalized many valuable belongings of the founder of the church.

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The Department of State Services (DSS) had taken over the case and prosecuted Alfa who was eventually sentenced to death by the State High Court. The parents of the one-year-old baby had told the court that their baby (Kolawole) was allegedly used for rituals as he could no longer be seen despite efforts by security agents.

The State High Court, after series of adjournments, declared that Alfa was instrumental to the disappearance and eventual death of Kolawole, and thereby sentenced him to death by hanging. But the Appeal Court in its judgment set aside the ruling of the lower court and set Alfa free.

The cleric, who had been standing trial since 2019, had asked the Appeal Court to nullify his conviction. The court ruled that the circumstantial evidence the High Court based its judgement on was not enough to convict him. Justicr Gamma Barka who read the judgement on behalf of  other judges therefore discharged and acquitted him.

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Kalu commiserates with Igbinedions over Maria Igbinedion’s demise

Former Governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr Orji Kalu has condoled with the House of Igbinedion over the demise of Mrs Maria Igbinedion, mother of former Governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion.

Describing the deceased as a woman of virtue, Kalu acknowledged the outstanding attributes of the late Igbinedion, adding that her good deeds would continue to speak for her. The Chief Whip of the Senate, while conveying his heartfelt condolences to the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion and the entire members of the House of Igbinedion, prayed to God to give the deceased’s family the fortitude to bear the loss.

In a condolence message, Kalu urged the former governor to uphold the worthy legacies of his late mother.

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He said: “On behalf of the people of Abia North Senatorial district, I commiserate with former Governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion over the demise of his mother, Mrs Maria Igbinedion.

“Mama was a virtuous woman who lived a purposeful life dedicated to the service of God and humanity.

“She left behind good children, who are doing well in various fields of human endeavour. The deceased will be remembered for her selflessness, kind heart and dedication to the service of mankind. She will be missed by family, friends and associates.” The former governor prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest.

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Northern group under fire for opposing Kanu’s release

From Stanley Uzoaru,Owerri

The Northern Consensus Movement (NCM) has come under severe attack by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for criticising and opposing Igbo elders pleas to President Muhammadu Buhari to release its leader, Nnamdi Kanu being detained by the Department of State Services (DSS).

IPOB, in a statement by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful described the views of the northern group as stupidity and shameful display of arrogance, while emphasising that such comments have been the sole reason for the group’s agitation for self-independence. He added “The ranting by these groups are not only disgusting but provocative, and one of the very reasons we agitate for self-determination. How can we continue to belong to the same country with people who are self-centered and don’t reason objectively?

“We don’t want to dignify these inconsequential groups, but we just want the world to note that these were the same charlatans responsible for the killings of Biafrans living in the North even before the civil war.

“These people were behind the killing of our people during Kano riots, Kaduna riots, Bauchi riots, Maiduguri riots, Katsina riots and beheading of Gideon Akaluka and others beheaded in the North during their community meetings in the North.

“They are still the masterminds of unprovoked and senseless attacks on Biafrans living in the North up till date. They want to keep us together in this bondage so they can continue in their genocidal attacks against us but it’s too late.

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“We are warning these Northern attack dogs to stop disparaging Igbo elders, traditional rulers and respected Bishops who made out time to meet the President in Abuja for a peaceful resolution of the debacle. These are the real enemies of Nigeria who don’t want peace to prevail because of their selfish interests.

“The Igbo elders and traditional rulers were doing Nigeria good by telling Buhari to release Nnamdi Kanu. We believe much in what we are pursuing and their ranting cannot afford to move us in our resolve to get Biafra.  “It is quite appalling and unfortunate that these attention seekers are showcasing their stupidity and ignorance to the world by coming out openly to rant in the very manner they did. They should stop pretending that they don’t see the handwriting on the wall against Nigeria government and its security apparatus for the extraordinary rendition of Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya.”

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Former administrator of Imo Col. Zubairu laid to rest in Kaduna

From Sola Ojo, Kaduna

A former Military Administrator of Imo State (1996-1999), Col Tanko Kurah Zuabairu who died a few months ago at the age of 74 has been laid to rest in Kaduna on Friday.

Speaking to newsmen shortly after the funeral service for the late senior military officer at Saint Luke’s Military Church, Camila Barracks 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma described Zubairu as a focused Nigerian whose long term plans for the state outlived him.

Uzodinma who spoke through his Commissioner of Information and Culture, Declan Emelumba said, the government and good people of Imo state would not forget the good legacy the late administrator left behind.

According to Emelumba, “Our governor sent high power delegation to represent the government and good people of Imo state here in Kaduna as we buried the man that had done well for Imo state.

“With the records, the man left behind in terms of contributions to infrastructural development, peace in the state and initiation of prayers in Imo, we have to be here to pay him this last respect.

“The governor asked me to condole with the family and government of Kaduna state. We regard him as one of us in Imo so we will continue to have regard for him and his family”, he said.

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A former Special Assistant (Chief of Staff) to the late colonel, Ugochukwu Onachukwu, described his former principal as a man who fear God, High integrity, professionalism and respecter of all categories of people irrespective of their status in society.

“Colonel Zubairu was ahead of his kind and so many things stood out for him. One is professionalism. I joined his administration from a professional background – banking and finance. I was thinking of how would I cope but I met a man who want things professionally done.

“What stood him out most is his integrity. He never took a dime from a bank. He is the first governor in the history of this country that refused to add to the debt of a state. He taught me a lot of adjustment within available resources. He said we were going to adjust to our cash flow because the state was already groaning in the debt burden.

“And for three years, a lot of banks came and he rebuffed them. He owned no asset in Imo not one plot of land. Even as his Chief of Staff, I stayed in a refurbished house. We refurbished and used cars used by previous commissioners. Due process was his keyword.

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“Talking about his personal life as a pastor before I went into governance, his perception of God, his spirituality was overwhelming particularly humility. Except he introduced himself, you would not know he was a governor. He drove himself. He lived a great life and we will forever remember him”, he eulogised.

He however urged the current governors to emulate the prudent spending of the late administrator saying “let us practice continuity. When you take over, you must not start afresh but build on the structure you met on the ground.

“We must not borrow to find out the budget. Let see how we can maximise what we have, try to think through and professionalise what we do. These are some of the things he did that the current politicians can learn from.

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Referendum: IPOB have no respect for democracy – Former ACF Scribe

From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

An Elder Statesman and former Secretary General of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Anthony Sani has said that Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have little or no respect for democracy and its tenets to attaining political desires.

A recent reports credited to IPOB quoted them as saying that only a date for referendum could stop them from violent agitations for State of Biafra.

However, Sani, in a statement, said for IPOB to give a condition that a date must be fixed for a referendum before they could slow down violent agitations spoke volume about their respect for democracy and its tenets.

Ex-ACF Scribe said he saw no wisdom of such demand under the current constitution which does not provide for a referendum for split of the country.

“When I read reports credited to Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that only a date for referendum can stop them from the violent agitations for state of Biafra, I begin to wonder the wisdom of such demand, to wit, how a date for referendum can be fixed under the current constitution which does not provide for a referendum for split of the country. Can a date be fixed for referendum without amending the constitution? Certainly not.
“I had thought if IPOB believes it can prevail in a referendum, it should demonstrate it by sponsoring candidate to the National Assembly that it wants referendum using a political party, say APGA, to cause amendment of the constitution to that effect. But for IPOB to give the condition that a date must be fixed for the referendum undemocratically before they can slow down violent agitations speaks volume about their respect for democracy and its tenets.

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“When IPOB alleges lopsidedness and marginalization, I begin to wonder if they know the import of the fact that despite losing the war, Igbo have been Vice President/Chief of Staff Supreme HQs. From 1970 to date Igbo have produced Senate Presidents, Speaker of House of Reps and Chairmen of the ruling political party.

“Igbo have also produced Secretary to the Federal Government, have produced coordinating minister, have produced CBN governors and have produced service chiefs. If this is not the clear manifestation of the “No Victor, No Vanquished,” one wonders what else it could be.

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“It is to be noted that the former Eastern Region now has nine states while the former Mid Western Region has two states. The former Western Region has six states while the former Northern Protectorates also called Northern Region has 19 states compared to 17 states enjoyed by former Southern Protectorates comprising three regions.

“As regards allegation of marginalization against the regime of President Buhari, we challenge IPOB to do some facts check on distribution of access to national resources of appointments, projects and major contracts during the regime of President Buhari by ethnicity, by state and by geopolitical zone and make it public for Nigerians to see.

“For IPOB to say they are not opposed to restructuring yet are demanding for Biafra is one and the same thing with the contradiction inherent in Igbo asking to be president of Nigeria they want split. It simply does not add up”. Sani stated.

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UI students hold charity walk against drug abuse

From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

Students of the University of Ibadan under the aegis of Sigma Club on Friday staged a charity walk to sensitise Nigerian youths on effects of drug abuse and other hard substances.

The charity walk, which took off at the Trenchard Hall on the campus of the institution, took the students to Ventura Mall at Sango, before they also walked back to Trenchard Hall, ahead of tomorrow’s (Saturday) induction of Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, as an honorary member of the club.

The charity walk according to the leader of the club, Ibrahim Habib, known as Sigma Chief, was to commemorate the 70th founders’ anniversary of the club.

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Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the charity walk, Habib said: “We want to sensitise Nigerian youth on the danger and effects of drug abuse. We want to tell them to shun drug abuse. Instead, they should channel their energy on something productive, not what can endanger their lives.”

He noted that one of the challenges facing the country is youth empowerment and development. He enjoined government and private sector to look into the menace.

The Vice President and Group Head of Financial inclusion, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Mr. Adetunji Lamidi, an old member of the club, who participated in the charity walk, also stated that the club, which was established in 1950 is the oldest surviving students’ club in Sub Sahara Africa.

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“Nigerian youth should keep themselves busy They should channel their energy to the right direction for them to become better Nigerians in the future. There is only one Sigma Club in the world, which only exists in the University of Ibadan,l. This is a club, where energy and intellectual capability can be used for someone to become a better Nigerian.”

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2023: Enemies of Nigeria’s unity against power shift to South – Obaze

From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu

Ahead of the 2023 general election, a diplomat and former governorship candidate in Anambra state, Mr. Oseloka Obaze has made case for all regions in the country particularly the North, to firmly support power shift to the South.

Obaze said that was the sure way for the unity of the country to strive, stating that every patriotic citizen should encourage, support and work for its realization.

Speaking in Enugu at the first annual public lecture series and award of the Pacesetter Frontier Magazine with theme “Mental Power at the Mercy of Political Will,” Oseloka, who was also a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) of Anambra state, made a strong case for the restructuring of the country.

Obaze noted that, “Leadership of Nigeria in over 60 years has resided mainly with the North. This has elicited, quite rightly, discussions for a power shift to the South and particularly South East.”

On the non commitment of the North to power shift to the South in 2023, Obaze insisted that any Northern politician not in support of power shift was not committed to the unity of Nigeria.

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He said, “Any stakeholder from the North who dares to disclaim that power shifts to the South in 2023 should not be deemed to be serious. That person does not wish Nigeria well.”

Obaze, who admitted that cabals in governance were the manifestation of the failures the country was going through, stated that Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution “does not fit well with our desirable federalism.”

Emphasizing the issue of restructuring he said, “Restructuring will reduce the untenable cost of politicking and governance. We are already seeing the manifestation of restructuring in the security reforms and governance, with the emergence of regional Amotekun, Ebubeagu and Hishbah security networks. We are also witnessing the early reforms of fiscal federalism with the VAT litigations.”

On the 1999 Constitution he said, “The Constitution lacks equity. For instance, Kano state has 44 local government areas (LGAs), which are greater than LGAs in Enugu state (17) and Anambra state (21) combined, and the number of LGAs is a key criterion for federal revenue allocations.”

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In a brief remark, the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu looking at the theme of the lecture “Mental power at the mercy of political will,” said politicians were not the only ones taking advantage of the people that religious leaders also do.

He also said that the just concluded Anambra state governorship election was difficult for the politicians to rig because of electronic transmission of votes.

Other dignitaries at the event included the Special Adviser to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on Media, Steve Oruruo who represented the Governor, Archbishop and Bishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, for Minister of Information, Chief Frank Nweke (Jnr.) and some traditional rulers.

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Nigeria needs rebuilding, restructuring plan – Gbajabiamila

From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said Nigeria is in need of a rebuilding and restructuring plan that would be developed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, in collaboration with the state governments.

He made the disclosure in the 2021 public service lecture, entitled: ‘Nation-Building in a Time of Turbulence’, organised by the University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA), held in Ibadan on Friday evening.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by Prince Hakeem Adeyemi, representing Oyo Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, stated that Nigeria must draw lessons from is the story of Western Europe at the end of the World War II. He noted that though the continent then laid in ruins, physically, economically and psychologically devasted to a degree, unlike anything the world had ever seen.

“Now, despite the destruction, the strategic importance of western Europe in the global order was evident to those paying attention. For us in Nigeria, our conditions are not quite the same. Nonetheless, securing our future requires us to think in similarly broad terms. We must recognise that structural factors, historical choices, and contemporary dynamics have created a dangerous vortex of insecurity, social upheaval and economic uncertainty that requires urgent and strategic action to overcome.

“We must act in the conviction that despite our present circumstances, we still have it in our power to make decisions and take action to prevent the worst outcomes. In effect, we need a Rebuilding and Restructuring Plan developed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, in collaboration with the State Governments.

“We need a program that is honest in its assessment of our present realities and draws upon our unique strengths to deliver a proposal for the future that is both realistic and immediately implementable. We need a plan that addresses economics and national security, infrastructure development and healthcare, job creation and social welfare. We also need a program of broad structural change that addresses the foundational issues of identity and history that have too long troubled us and inhibited our ability to rise to our highest potential.

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“Something else that happened at the end of the second world war was the formation of the United Nations (or the United Nations Organisation as it was then called). The UN replaced the League of Nations, which was created at the end of the first world war but proved ineffective in delivering its mandate to maintain world peace.

“The formation of the United Nations marked the birth of modern multilateralism and the broad recognition that we achieve more when we band together to pursue shared objectives. Multilateralism has had more than its fair share of failures. However, the fundamental truth of strength in unity cannot be reasonably disputed. If anything, we are reminded once more in our present circumstances that the alternative portends a far greater danger to world peace, economic prosperity, and social development.

“Let us take two lessons from this. The first is that national unity is an essential requirement for peace, progress, and prosperity in a heterogeneous society such as ours. However, we must understand that unity by itself is not the objective. This understanding is the missing component in our conversations about the unity of our country.

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“Too often, when we speak about Nigerian unity, we talk about unity as if that by itself is the objective, without clarifying the goals of the unity we seek. Unity is merely the means to an end. Unity is required for effective national collaboration. This is, in turn, the essential condition for Nigeria to make the hard decisions necessary for successful nation-building.

“The second lesson is that for us in Africa, we must actively seek partnerships that allow us to address our common challenges and prepare ourselves and each other to respond more effectively to future threats. We have institutions in place to pursue the sort of partnerships we need. The goal now is to develop the political consensus to support those institutions to make them more responsive to our needs and more effective in delivering on our expectations.

“In the coming months and years, all Nigerians, regardless of religion or creed, partisan affiliation or political history, tribe or ethnicity, will have to decide if we are willing to take the lessons of history and build for ourselves a nation capable of meeting our highest expectations.

“Citizens and leaders alike have to make hard choices about the kind of country we want to live in and leave for the next generation. Let this present crisis be for us a moment of discovery when with love and honesty, we inspire each other and our nation to greatness beyond the limits of what we have previously allowed ourselves to imagine.”

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LG poll: Ekiti CP promises adequate security, cautions against malpractices, violence

From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti

Ekiti State commissioner of police, Tunde Mobayo, has assured electorate and residents of the state of adequate security before, during and after Saturday, December 4 local council election.

He also cautioned against all forms of electoral malpractices and violence, urging party leaders and supporters to uphold electoral guidelines and principles to ensure a free, fair and credible poll.

Mobayo, in a statement signed by the command’s spokesman, Sunday Abutu, on Friday, explained that there will be restriction of persons and vehicular movements in and out of the state during the election while only individuals on election and essential duties are exempted from the restriction.

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The statement, entitled “Ekiti State LGA Election: CP Assures Adequate Security”, reads :

“In a bid to have free, fair and credible election in the forth coming Local Government Areas election that is scheduled to hold on Saturday 4th December, 2021, the Ekiti State Police Command has deployed adequate security personnel across the State.

“The Commissioner of Police, Ekiti State Command, CP TUNDE MOBAYO, while giving the assurance of adequate security before, during and after the election, charged the Personnel deployed to be professional and avoid all forms of corrupt practices while discharging their duties.

“The Commissioner warns against all forms of electoral malpractices and violence during the election and after, while calling on the political party leaders and supporters to conduct themselves in accordance with the electoral guidelines and principles.

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“The Command has, however, declared restriction of vehicular and pedestrian movements in and out of the State as well as unnecessary movements within the State during the period of the election except those on election duties and essential services, while appealing to motorists who plan to enroute the State to take alternative routes.”

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FG approves COVID-19 vaccine booster dose

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Federal Government has approved the administration of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses for persons that have completed two doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer Bio-N-Tech or one dose of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

The exercise, it said, will be monitored by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development (NPHCDA).

NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, in a statement, on Friday, explained that the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine booster doses will commence from the 10th of December, 2021, across all states of the federation.

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Dr. Shuaib, further explained that COVID-19 vaccine booster dose gives greater protection against the virus, and urged all Nigerians to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He said; “The booster dose is for any person that is 18 years and above; has time interval of six months or more after receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer Bio-N-Tech; time interval of two months or more after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.”

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“Consequent upon the above, eligible Nigerians are advised to visit the nearest health facility or mass vaccination site for their booster doses as from the 10th of December, 2021, across all states of the federation.”

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Nembe Oil spill: Alaibe calls for urgent action to contain spill

From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

Former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe has called for an urgent action to stop the spewing crude oil from the Oil Mining License (OML) 29, Santa Barbara oil field in Nembe, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State owned by Aiteo.

Alaibe in a statement who described the massive oil spill that has been raging for over a month into the Nembe ecosystem waters as catastrophic, expressed fears the massive spillage may lead to serious health hazards to the indigenes of the area if not stopped on time.

According to him the people of Nembe communities do not deserve the social and economic death sentence being handed to them by the ongoing oil spillage,.

He called on the relevant agencies to redouble their efforts towards clamping the spewing oil well to save the people.

” The land has turned infertile. Nothing can grow there any longer. The rivers are polluted forever. Our fishermen are out of work. Our hard-working farmers have been rendered jobless. In the absence of clean, pipe-borne water for the people, a commodity that is taken for granted in other climes, today, with this oil spill, not even the river water is worth any domestic use any longer.

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“There is no doubt that this oil spill has the capacity to result in health hazards that would eventually lead to loss of lives. Let me repeat that the good people of Bayelsa State, the oil-bearing
centre of Nigeria, do not in any way deserve this catastrophe. The people of Nembe do not deserve this avoidable environmental affliction. The question is: when will this leakage be put under control,” Alaibe said.

While lamenting that the people of Nembe have not benefited from oil like other communities in America and Europe where oil has transformed their lives, he commended the Minister of State, Environment, Sharon Ikeazor for speaking up strongly on the side of the people by calling for measures to prevent oil spill and stiffer penalties for those behind any acts of sabotage.

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Alaibe pleaded with Nembe people to remain calm, stressing that those in charge of policy must act to save the situation.

”To my fellow citizens of Nembe, words are not enough to describe your agony and hopelessness. Be assured that you are not alone. My appeal to you is that in spite of this, please stay calm as we join hands with the appropriate authorities to seek the way out of this mess. No blame game can reverse what has happened. No act of violence can bring back what we have lost. We all share in your pain. This is no time for dirty political grandstanding. This situation needs a practical solution. The people in charge of policy must rise and act now.

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APGA hails NCAA approval of Anambra Airport flights operations

From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha

National Coordinator, All Progressives Grand Alliance Media Warriors Forum, Evang. Chinedu obigwe has hailed news of the approval for the commencement of commercial flights operation at the newly built Anmabra International Cargo Airport describing the gesture as the sweetest Christmas gift for ndi Anmabra.

Obigwe in a statement issued in Awka said that with the latest development in the state, Governor Obiano has succeeded in putting enemies of progress to shame even as he described the Governor as truly a warrior whose eyes were focused on not missing his target.

“Ndi Anambra are overwhelmed with joy when they received the trending news report that NCAA has finally given approval for commencement of flights operation immediately at Anambra State International cargo and passengers Airport.

“If anybody reads the NCAA letter to Governor Obiano very well, the person will discover that even before the commissioning of the Airport project that NCAA wanted to grant approval to the State government for commencement of flights operation at the Airport but some evil forces led by Andy Uba and his cohorts at the Presidency used the untenable excuse of adverse security report to stop them from doing that.

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“I give NCAA kudos because I know very well that they gave the State government all the required cooperation needed from them to make Anambra Airport project a success story”

He said people were jubilating because the news of commencement of flights operation at Anambra Airport came at the right time being a festive period where many people will come back home from abroad and other States in Nigeria to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones.

“What it means is that they will now make use of Anambra Airport and will not suffer the stress of staying for hours in a go slow at Asaba, Enugu and Owerri after landing at their Airports. They will just land straight at Anambra Airport and within few minutes they will be with their loved ones in their communities. Lovers of Governor Obiano have always known that he will finish strong and that is why we are not surprised that he is finishing strong”

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“The opening of Anambra Airport for flights operation this Christmas period is an already scored goal for Governor Obiano. More good things are coming for our people and he will give it to them before the March 17th 2022 handover ceremony to Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo, his preferred successor that is now the Governor elect. Governor Obiano is truly a blessing to ndi Anambra and the good people of the State will remain eternally grateful to him for the good works he did in our beloved State” Obigwe said.

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